It isn’t just our town.

It isn’t just our town.

Before I was born, Ted Bundy killed Deborah Kent. My dad knew her and her family. They always kept the porch light on for her. Years and years, they kept that light on for her waiting for her to come home. She never did. I know when I heard this as a little kid, I learned that bad things could happen. People were capable of bad things.

When we were little, a few blocks over from our house in Colorado, an entire family was murdered with a hammer. Not long after that happened a friend from school’s mom disappeared. Her picture was on a poster that hung near the door of our local supermarket for several months. Again I learned that the worst things you can imagine could happen and they could happen close to home.

In February of 1993, my family visited the East Coast. I was fifteen years old. My dad was there for work, and we made it a family trip. One of our stops was the World Trade Center. As we entered the building, something felt off. The bottom floor had glass walls and in the middle was a hallway with a line of elevators on each side.

I remember counting them at the time, but the exact number of elevators escapes me. We waited to enter one and then nearly forty people crammed into the elevator; I think we counted thirty-eight. Because yes, I counted them. That sinking feeling in my gut escalated as I counted each head, and it started to feel more like panic. I turned to my dad and said, “Someone is going to attack this building. You can’t get out. There is no way to get this many people out. Someone might blow it up.” Things like this sometimes escape from my mouth before being able to squelch them down.

He looked at me strange and tried to calm me down. I took that look as the cue to stop that kind of talk. But I didn’t feel any better. The feelings of uneasiness kept gnawing at me. We saw the view, came back down and continued our sightseeing journey. No more unsettling feelings visited me as we went to other attractions. So, I forgot about it.

Two days later we were in Maine, and the first attack on the World Trade Center was on the news. A bomb had exploded in one of the parking garages. My parents looked at me with disbelief. I was crushed. I didn’t understand that the feelings I had were real. That somehow, I knew. Again, I learned that bad things happen. The worst is possible. People can hurt one another.

I remember coming home from high school one day and the news was on. I watched as students were streaming out of a high school to safety. When the town name popped up on the screen, I was shocked. Littleton was home to one of my favorite theme parks as a kid. I had been to Littleton several times, and my friends lived a short distance away from there. I knew that town. I had passed that town on the freeway 100 times at least. I called friends to check-in. This time, I learned that even kids could do the bad things adults had been doing. And it can happen close to people you love.

I remember watching Scream 2 in my first year of college. I hated the first one and had to sleep with the lights on for a week, but my boyfriend and his friends wanted to go. So I went; I was mostly dragged, but I went. There is a scene in the movie where people in the theater are killed. I recall being so angry. I walked out of there telling my friends and boyfriend; they shouldn’t support a movie like that, something like that could happen in real life. They laughed off my concerns and said I was crazy. Movie theaters continued to not feel like a safe place for me. I lived in Aurora, where the Multiplex Theater shooting occurred. It was my home town for five years. It was where my best friend lived. It was a place that even far away from it at the time, I considered home. Again, I called friends and made sure they were safe. People still thought it was something that couldn’t happen to them. People thought this wasn’t something that would be typical. That it wouldn’t keep happening. That day I learned it not only could happen it would. Because bad things did happen. And they did happen again. In fact, they happened again and again and again.

I know I am not alone with stories like these.

And then this Sunday it was text messages and calls to my son’s phone that alerted me that this was happening again. Not far away, not in a place that used to be home, but 8 minutes from our house.

We were not at the Garlic Festival this Sunday; in fact, we only go sporadically. We have lived in Gilroy for nine years. I grew up in Morgan Hill and often attended the festival as a child. I have volunteered there. Last year, my oldest son helped set up and take down tents for the Chamber of Commerce. I don’t think you can live here and not have volunteered there at some point. It is the lifeblood of extra funding for schools, charities, scholarships, and foundations in our community. The festival weekend is always on my oldest son’s birthday and hence why we are sometimes there and sometimes not. Depending on what he wants to do to celebrate and how much we are preparing for those festivities often dictates our attendance. But, my history has made me feel edgy around large groups of people. That can sometimes dictate my participation at events like this as well.

This year, though, it was my youngest son’s soccer team that had us in Santa Cruz, and not at the festival. My oldest still spent every day prior helping set up again this July. It has become one of the events he looks forward to every year. He was supposed to be there Sunday taking down the tents with his friends. Something told me to tell him no. Tell him he couldn’t go. So, I did. I told him we wouldn’t make the extra effort to get him there. No, he couldn’t hang back with friends and catch a ride. Just no. He didn’t understand my adamant no and neither did I really. But I honor my gut feelings without reason these days.

I have talked to others and heard stories over the last several days of similar gut feelings. Why aren’t we all built with those? Why didn’t we know what the gut feeling meant? Why did this happen? Why does it keep happening? Why is this our new normal? Why do our kids have to be heroes? Why do our teachers have to shield our babies from bullets? Why?

Those are rhetorical questions, of course. There is no right answer and maybe no answer to some of them.

I am scared. I am devastated. I am still reeling. But, I am not surprised.

No, I have seen, heard and watched the terror we can bring down on each other for my entire life. Senseless violent acts have littered my entire existence. What happened Sunday in Gilroy isn’t about this town or one individual; it is about us. It is about our country, us as a people. What happened here can happen to your town, too.

It is a complex problem these mass shootings, there is no one answer, but a multitude of things that we need to resolve, examine, fix. And I am not going to make this post about the solution, but about the reality that this is happening in small towns. And it isn’t about the solution because I am done debating. I want action. And what we need to face is that when people say things like, “I never thought this would happen here.” Or, “Stuff like this doesn’t happen in small towns.” those statements just are not true. We need to stop being delusional. We need to stop ignoring the obvious. It is happening. It will happen again. It isn’t stopping.

Gilroy, California

* Sebring, Florida

* Aurora, Illinois

Blacksburg, Virgina – Virginia Tech University

* Virginia Beach, Virgina

Newtown, Connecticut – Sandy Hook Elementary

Killeen, Texas – Luby’s Cafeteria

Parkland, Florida – Stoneman Douglass High School

Littleton, Colorado – Columbine High School

Aurora, Colorado – Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater

*Source – https://abcnews.go.com/US/deadly-mass-shootings-month-2019/story?id=63449799

These are just a few of the small towns where this has happened. I am not even counting the big cities in this, and they count. Las Vegas, Nevada and the shooting that occurred there, I had friends there. My aunt and uncle live there. Oh, it counts. But I have heard it can’t happen in a small town so many times in the last few days, that I am just addressing that at the moment.

Some of these incidents in these small towns occurred as long as 28 years ago and some as recently as less than a week ago. This is what we can come to expect if we don’t start examining and changing our behaviors, laws, and societal standards.

This is our new normal. We need to face the reality that this will happen in your home town. It is precisely why every school in America has code red drills. Every town is preparing for it. But not every town is preventing it.

This will be something our children face in their lifetime or that we might face in our lifetime. There can be no more “this will not happen here” statements.

It happens in tight knit communities, big towns, small towns, homes, apartment complexes, churches, movie theaters, malls, parks, schools, it will and can happen anywhere. It will because it has. Start thinking like that and maybe we can start changing that reality. Perhaps we can actually get lawmakers to take action.

I saw the fear on my son’s face as he received call after call and made call after call to check and make sure his friends, his girlfriend were okay. That they were unharmed. I watched the terror when one of his best friends didn’t answer and the thought of her death flickered across his eyes. We shouldn’t have to see that. Our children shouldn’t have to face that thought. The past few days on Facebook I am reading of friends’ children who ran for their lives. Who huddled in corners wondering if this was how they were going to die. This needs to change. We can do better.

I watched my own children huddle on our floor and wait for the sounds of sirens and helicopters to stop. I watched my children the next day hear a balloon pop and all look at me with fear. What do we do mom? Their faces said. Do we run? Do we drop to the ground? Is it time to worry?

I stayed calm for them, but I am telling you all it way past time to worry. It is way past time to be calm. It is way past time to say this isn’t going to happen. It is way past time to think it can’t be your town. It is way past time to think it can’t be your child. It is way past time to debate. It is way past time to make this about politics. This is about our safety. This is about the welfare of the people in our country and nothing changes if nothing changes. It is way past time.

When I think about Gilroy, it is the best community in the world, but I am not ready to go out and put on a brave face. My heart is still hurting. I am not prepared to pretend that we can just say we are strong. I am not ready to go back to life as usual because life as usual means there is a genuine possibility this will happen again. It could be here. It could be in your home town. Why? Because it happened in ours. This is not just our town where things like this happen. It is in every town.

I am shattered. I am scared. I am reeling and I wasn’t even there. But I am not shocked. I am not surprised. This is what has been happening for decades. 

It makes me cry and sick to my stomach to read and hear first hand about how this is affecting my friends, their children, our town. I can only begin to imagine the devastation this has done. I know there is Gilroy strong and people are trying to look forward and already trying to heal; I understand the need for that. But I also think we need to slow down and talk about Gilroy hurting. What are we rushing for? I am not in a hurry to get back to status quo that wasn’t working. That isn’t working. I want to take stock and figure out what to do next. We can move past it as a people, but we need to remember and use that memory to fuel action, fuel the changes that have to take place so this doesn’t happen again. We need to recognize this is now the reality. This is now what we should come to expect until we start doing something differently.

I am heart-broken. I am grief stricken. I am disconsolate.

But I will not rest until there is a different reality for my children. I will not rest until there is different reality for your children. I will not stop bringing up this topic or voting for people who are going to make real change, or donating money to causes that call for change, because if we are complacent if we think someone else will handle it, it won’t change.

We need to be a voice. We need to speak up. And in this I am hopeful. In this is where I find strength. If we can come together and write to our politicians and talk to our kids, and look for signs, and work to really see one another I think we can be better. I believe our future can be brighter. I believe there is light in this darkness and I think we can find our way out, but it can’t be done by sticking our heads in the sand and thinking it won’t happen again. It won’t be done by holding to party lines. It won’t be done by clinging to our rights or our fears, we have to put the welfare of all above our own when it comes to gun ownership. We have to be ready to be uncomfortable and have serious conversations. We have to be willing to hear it might be our kid that needs help. We might have to face hard truths, but it is worth it. It will make a difference. And together if we really want change it is possible.

I don’t have the answers, but we can start by some of the ideas below, and if you are doing something I haven’t listed tell me, I will add it to the list.

The bottom line is hurt people hurt people, this is just that on a massive scale. Let’s start with the easiest thing first. See one another. Be kind. Be helpful. Think about others and how your actions affect other people.

Write to an elected or to all your elected officials: https://www.sccaor.com/contact-your-elected-officials/

Donate. Educate yourself. Join groups that want to change the gun safety regulations. Here are a few:

https://everytown.org/

https://momsdemandaction.org/

https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/

Talk to your kids. This article on the Parents Magazine website seemed to have a comprehensive overview: https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/advice/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-gun-violence/

I also liked this article on USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/08/stem-school-highlands-ranch-how-to-talk-to-kids-about-guns-shootings/1138840001/

Educate yourself and your kids on the signs someone might be exhibiting before they act. This website has a downloadable guide: https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/prevention_programs

I know I didn’t touch on everything. I know we have a lot of ground to cover to make this better, but I want to start here. I want to start where I am and maybe after reading this today you will, too. And that gives me hope.

Working for a better tomorrow,

Michelle

Surrender – there is no answer key to life

Surrender – there is no answer key to life

“When am I going to die?”

“When is __________ going to die?”

“Should I have another baby?”

“Am I going to have another baby?”

“Are we moving?”

“Should we move?”

“Should I be married to my husband?”

“I am thinking of switching careers; is it the right thing to do?”

These questions are none of my business! In fact, I think I visibly cringe when people ask me these things. Friends ask, clients ask, and they aren’t asking for my opinion; they want access to the divine plan. And I wish I was making this up, but people literally ask me when they are going to die or a loved one might die. I loathe this question as I do the others. BECAUSE THEY ARE NONE OF MY BUSINESS! WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW OR WE WOULD KNOW.

For some energy workers or healers, maybe that is how their gig works, but for me; I work for God. That is my gig. And the divine plan is only revealed through Him. Since I am not Him, I do not have access to this plan. I don’t want access. My purpose is to allow you to connect and find a deeper faith that your loved ones are still with you.

Spirit, your loved ones, aren’t sharing the future 411 during a session with me either. They may share this with you. But that isn’t what they chose to share during a session with me, because again, it is none of my business. The information they do share is their opinion about what is currently happening in your life.

For those of you that ask these questions…there is no answer key. There is no right or wrong. The only thing we must NOT do is hurt other souls. We are to follow that golden rule – treat others as you would want to be treated. Treat ourselves well. Do our best moment to moment.

You, on the other hand, have all the answers. And you have access to HIM through faith and your own soul; so you will have much more information about the future and the decisions that you need to make than anyone else. We forget that we have to rely on ourselves and what we know to be true. We get to journey through this life, and we have to live for an eternity with the decisions that we made here; and we know ourselves better than most, so it is up to us to access faith, listen to our own soul and make sure we make the decisions that are going to suit us best.

We are a soul having a human experience.

And when things happen to us as they will; life is truly out of our hands in many ways, we have to surrender control. We then can only rely on what we can control. Ourselves. So you can follow your own intuition; your own faith, and make your own next best decision. No one can make that for us. Including spirit. It is up to us. End of story. No one else has to live with our choices the way we do. And when we chose to have faith, follow that internal compass that is our soul, and allow faith to be our guide, we will always find the answers that we need.

The good news is for those of you that are recovering perfectionists like myself or maybe even still a perfectionist, there is no wrong choice. Just treat other people well, and if you make a choice that doesn’t agree with you or you don’t like, guess what? You can remedy it. You can try again. You can do something different. You can make a new choice. You are not stuck. Each moment is an opportunity.

So trust yourself. Look within and move forward. You got this!

Until next time,

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What happened when I chose faith over fear

What happened when I chose faith over fear

Recently I was asked to speak at event organized by one of my favorite business owners, Ahnna Goossen. She owns Yoga Bella and the Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic in Gilroy. The evening was a beautiful event that included Qi Gong instruction (there is a class each week at Yoga Bella) and sound healing with the amazing Dallas at S.I.M.M. If you have not experienced a sound bath you are missing out. There are classes at Yoga Bella every other Tuesday with Dallas and I highly recommend trying one. The night ended with a quick little Q & A with yours truly.  I have linked to Yoga Bella and S.I.M.M.’s webpages above so you can check each of them out. Ahnna will be doing a monthly workshop showcasing different speakers and healers. I for one, can’t wait for the next one.

I thought I might share here some of what I shared that night.

For years, and I mean decades, I literally ignored my calling. I hung up on it and blocked it repeatedly before I shifted my perspective and allowed me to become who I was meant to be.

That perspective shift came when I decided to choose faith over fear. I decided to listen to the whispers of my own heart and be my authentic self. I decided to write, and I became a truth-teller. In becoming a truth-teller, I had to tell the truth about what I saw and felt around me.

In deciding to tell the truth, it allowed me to open up and listen to an eight-year-old spirit boy who told me that I was meant to help other spirits like him. And that led me down a path where I decided to believe what I knew was true about God and embrace that He doesn’t make mistakes, he built me this way on purpose with purpose, and I am His vehicle. I deliver the messages He wants me to provide. And that has led me to where I am today. I have chosen faith over fear.

Does that mean that I am going to know what comes next instantly? No.

Does that mean I am going to be the best at what I do right away? No. But with hard work and dedication, I can be great at what I do. And so can you.

Does that mean everything will be perfect every single day? No.

But it is worth it to live outside of your comfort zone and believe that you can do hard things. Believe that you can have the life you want. The rewards outweigh the negative experiences. I can speak from experience on that. There is good, hard, harsh, ugly, and incredible, amazing, miraculous, joy all in the same life.

How do we choose faith over fear?

We listen to our feelings. That doesn’t we mean we ignore logic, it just means we trust what we know and believe to be true in our hearts. The more you listen, the louder that voice gets.

We do things afraid because fear is a liar that will keep us small.

We believe in the impossible. Do you know how many times I have heard that I was crazy, that I am going to hell, that it is impossible to talk to spirit, I have lost count and stopped counting?

Sometimes we want validation before we leap. And like my good friend Heather says, “Validation is only for parking baby!” She might not add the baby, but she is feisty and fun, so I added it for her. We can’t wait for validation, we have to believe those whispers in our heart and have faith we know what we know for a purpose. We feel what we feel for a purpose.

I read something Bob Goff said, which was, “God isn’t surprised we want more confirmation. He just hopes we don’t get stuck waiting for it.”

It is okay to be looking for that confirmation and to appreciate it when we get it, but we can’t sit around waiting, stuck, doing nothing that serves our purpose until we get the affirmation we need. And most of the time we just have to believe we know what we know and that is good enough to take the next step.

We also tend to believe that there is a right path and a wrong path. The truth is there is only one path, a path of life. We have free will and get to decide what we do next, but just because we take the long way or make a mistake doesn’t make it wrong, we are learning along the way. As long as we are not hurting ourselves or others, we are on the right track. That is the only genuinely wrong thing we can do; hurt another soul. And when we do that we have to do what we can to make it right. But I digress. There are nine hundred billion million (yes, I am aware that is not a real number) ways to get from point A to point B in life, and the joy is in the journey. When we surrender and have fun with not knowing what is next, but just allowing ourselves to do the next best thing moment to moment then we usually end up right where we need to be precisely when we are supposed to be there.

Here is what happened when I decided to choose faith over fear and surrender my control. I learned that

  • Heaven is all around us, not some distant far off place. We are a part of heaven.
  • Spirit delivers messages to their loved ones in a myriad of ways and is continually speaking to us whether we think we are hearing them or not. Signs are all around us; you just have to believe in them.
    We are built to understand one another. Soul has a language all its’ own. A soul doesn’t need words to communicate, and that means that our spirit loved ones can communicate with any living thing to get our attention. They are energy, and they can use that energy to connect with us in a multitude of ways. It also means our souls are communicating with one another here. Just because we are in a body doesn’t mean our souls stop talking.
  • Love never dies. We don’t die. Our bodies stop working, but our souls go on and on and on.
  • I can do hard things, and my purpose is to be my most authentic self no matter what. Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business.
  • I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

What happened when I started working for spirit; I witnessed miracles. Are there tough sessions? Yes. Are their clients I can’t help? Yes. But like I said before the positive experiences, the lessons learned, far outweigh the negative.

  • My client Donna was able to understand why her daughter’s car crashed the night she died, and finally, this last year visit her daughter’s grave on her 26th birthday and play her favorite song “When the lights go down in the city” and know that her daughter heard her. Donna knew that she could reach her daughter anytime she wanted. Something she hadn’t done in all the years since her daughter passed.
  • Helped my client Lauren connect with and grieve her mother. In fact, her healing led to her building a new business this past year. If you haven’t heard about Cranes for Kristina, you need to check it out. Her Business Facebook page is here. Lauren turned her pain into hope in the form of her beautiful origami cranes and is changing the world every single day she is out in it breathing.
  • My friend Katrina didn’t believe in ghosts. She believed in heaven, but not that spirit was here communicating with us. While we were in grad school, her uncle started visiting me. When I told her what he looked like she didn’t believe it was him until I said, “He didn’t what to tell me this, but he said a tree was involved in his death.” And having never told me about her uncle LaDon being hit and killed by a falling tree branch she nearly dropped the phone.

Fear will bind you to believe in only what you can see. It will keep you in other people’s comfort zones, and there is so much more to life than what we can see and the societal norms we are bound by. My wish for you is that you find your center, your truth-telling, authentic badass, self. That this more profound connection to yourself and your faith lead you to follow your dreams and the life you want to live. That it guides you to a more fulfilling understanding of life and allows you to surrender to living in the moment and making the choices you know to be best for you. Choosing faith over fear leads you to become who you always knew you were.

Until next time,

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Fissures and Finding Truth

Fissures and Finding Truth

So many times this week (I know it is only Wednesday) I have wanted to literally drop to my knees no matter where I am and just have everything stop. I want to have a moment. A moment when nothing is happening. I want to stop time.

My not enough-ness is acting up again. The emptiness is filling me up and swallowing me whole.

What would happen if I dropped to my knees and time were to stop?

– Maybe there would be the foresight to see the balls that were slipping or already dropping, and I could run and catch them before they fell or grip them tighter so they wouldn’t slip.

– Maybe I could suck the words back into my mouth. And the noxious fumes of regret wouldn’t fill my mind and make me sick of myself.

– Maybe my babies would be visible to me for just a split second longer, and I could unlock the mysteries of their minds so that I would know better how to be there for them.

– Maybe I could hear something I am missing that would be the answer to my unworthiness. It would fill me somehow, so I could continue on without so much distaste or frustration.

– Maybe strength would fill me enough to show up more. Allow me to speak my truth and feel it’s ampleness.

But, I can’t drop to my knees and stop time. I would just be some crazy lady on the sidewalk on her knees.

I think harmful thoughts make us feel hallow. These devious thoughts enter your soul and make space by separating the positivity inside you so that the goodness that makes you whole feels impossible to connect back together again. The space they create causes an echo that allows the harmful thoughts to continue to ricochet over and over again across the chasms of our minds, seeping into the tissue, matter, bloodstream and eventually finding a home in our hearts. And then these thoughts nestle in with the tenacity of a prickle from a thistle so that it actually hurts to remove them.

Today on my run, as I felt myself wanting to drop to my knees to stop time, I handed my playlist over to God. I do this a lot. I hit shuffle and say, “Okay, God, speak to me.” Somehow it never fails. Lauren Diagle reminded me that I am not hopeless that God is carrying me, that he will always carry me, that is inevitable. Nichole Nordeman reminded me that I am a promise even if I have forgotten. Let me just pause for a second to let you know this same playlist holds roughly 100 other songs by non-Christian artists these popped up first, right after I handed the playlist over.

Anyway, the words I was hearing stopped me in my tracks. Right then and there I looked up at the heavens and asked God to take away my unworthiness. I told Him I didn’t want it anymore, it didn’t belong to me.

We carry our emotional burdens too long. We forget to set them down. Sometimes we keep them so long we think they belong to us even when they don’t. We forget we are born enough, the not enough-ness comes from somewhere else. It isn’t ours to carry.

Of course, I come here and pour all these messy feelings out and put them into cyberspace, but this is where they finally run free. I let them go. This writing, this release allows those harmful thoughts to escape so that I can shrink the space down and the parts of me, that goodness can reconnect and make me feel whole again.

I spend too much time hiding. Being authentic means, you have to be open and real for everyone to see, and that often leads me feeling overexposed, so I run and hide. I do the work I do and then run and hide. Sometimes this unworthiness sneaks up while I am hiding and leaves me feeling more alone. More lost. And I think I need outside light to fill me back up. And then just like that God opens me up a bit more. And it is when this happens that I start to set things free. Then my own light begins to shine out again. Then and only then, do I stop feeling so empty.

We all have to set our load down and let the things that poison us go free. We often feel better if we know that when we let something go, it won’t hurt anyone else and what better place to free it then out into the open where the God of things and the Amazing Universe can scoop it up and turn it into something healing.

So now, instead of hitting my knees out in the open, I will hit my knees in private and in prayer. God always seems to find a way to let me know He is there; He is listening, and all will be okay. In fact, this was on the car window as I made my last turn toward my house as if to say, “Yes, you are on the right path, and I have got you. I have your unworthiness, and it is free from you.”

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Now to just keep moving forward and living life the best way I know how. As Anne Lamott says, “Life feeds anyone who is open to taste its food, wonder and glee; it’s immediacy.” We just have to find that joy; choose life and take the next step whether we are ready or not. Or even turn around and take the picture of a back of a car that you think God is using to speak to you. All the best of us are messy and crazy!

Even when we want to hide, we have to find a way to be more open and let our light shine out so our unworthiness can escape and finally leave us. And that is when we remember the truth. The truth is we are not hopeless, we are full of possibility, we are worth exploring, and we are something to celebrate where ever we might be on our journey.

Until next time,

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An open letter to myself…

An open letter to myself…

The rain came down yesterday. Puddles litter the ground and this afternoon’s storm is imminent. In fact, the call came through while I was at breakfast with a friend that all after school meetings and activities are cancelled, except high school athletics. So I am still waiting to hear from my son’s soccer coach if the game is on this afternoon.

I know it probably sounds silly to most of the world that California towns shut down at the threat of a thunderstorm; it seems silly to us, too but the roads flood fast when it rains here. These mandatory shut downs (not government ones – I am not getting political here) get our family home and cozy. It stops time for a brief moment and I couldn’t be happier. But that isn’t what this post is about.

As I sit here on my planned writing day with papers strewn about and a copy of Hands Free Mama by my side, I am still struggling to complete this post. It is one that needs to be written so I am compelled to keep at it.

This last year, I was introduced to a woman named Michele, by her dad. While that may seem ordinary, it was anything but. See by the time we met, via phone, her dad was already in heaven. (If you haven’t heard how we met you can read my post about it here). I still feel like he continually links us. Whether it is her seeing me on a morning run or an online post that shows how close we live to one another, we still find ourselves being connected.

She has this great online FB community where she writes motivating posts to help others live their best life. You see how we like each other now, right?

Well, one of her most recent asks, was for us to write a letter to our future selves. She said that we had to write a letter to ourself in the future expressing a sense of accomplishment for all we completed the past year. I originally thought this would be easy. But here I sit. With the letter still unfinished.

Writing about my success; that is complicated. More than complicated; arduous. A part of me still can’t think I am a success because I feel like I will jinx the good stuff I have going on in my life right this very instant. And I was taught to be humble, so saying “Hey look what I can do,” makes me cringe. I know you are reading an online blog about myself; the irony of this is not lost on me. So I get that you are thinking this can’t be that hard. But it is!

On the flip side, I could easily list off the things I have failed or what I want to do different next time or how I want to be a better at whatever. But to write a letter to myself about how proud I am of me; that is trickier than it sounds.

However, I think it is important. What we put out into the universe comes back. What we want for ourselves; what we see for ourselves; well that becomes our reality. So this exercise isn’t just for fun; I think it is necessary for my growth over the next year. I am doing it and sharing it in the hopes that maybe you will do the same for yourself. Maybe you will work at manifesting your own dreams this year.

Okay here it goes…

Dear End of 2019 Michelle,

There is so much I have to tell you. I know, no surprise there; we both know how long-winded I can be. 

First and foremost; I want you to know how proud I am of you for holding steady this year. When things got hectic or tough you remembered to consistently show up for yourself. And when life knocked you down you dusted yourself off and tried again. I know how merciless that bully in your head can be; and the fact that you never let her get the best of you; you should feel so satisfied. I am glad that failure wasn’t an option for you.

I know your job is life-breathing for you. You are helping people and doing what you are meant to do; but I also know it is breath-taking in both good and bad ways. Aren’t you grateful that you kept your faith, even on the days when appointments were heavy or they didn’t go your way; aren’t you glad you looked up and remembered whose you are. Always keep that faith. Always remember that God has your back. He is holding you and He held you, even when you thought you were alone or He couldn’t see what was happening. I love that prayer to you isn’t a word or a thing it is an action and you put its power to use. When all else fails, faith seems to center us. 

Girl, this one was hard. You left so much sweat on the floor of 2019. You lost all your extra padding and gained some sure-fire muscle. Look at you! You finished two 5Ks and made sure that you took time to better your health each and every day. But you also enjoyed food and gatherings and didn’t let it over run your life. You found a beautiful balance for your health and your sweet tooth. I bet you feel good in your clothes and are glad to have more energy. Well done, but remember don’t stop. This is lifetime work. Keep getting after it; you have got this.

In, the work world, you did a great job. You are the owner of a successful business. And you decided to take a risk and finally finish that book. The bravery it took to send off your completed manuscript to publishers was impressive. Hang in there. No matter what happens you wrote a whole book and shared it. You should feel content. That is enough. More than enough. Great work. And to top it off you started your own little podcast. You go girl. I know, I know the things that come out of our mouth. We can’t help it. The point is we are not on the sidelines any more watching other people’s dreams come true or hiding our own potential. You are out in the arena making your own dreams a reality and it takes my breath away to see you like this. Remember when we took out that picture of us at three. Remember that smile. You started all this to find that girl again and now you are her. How’s that for success? Let that settle in your bones and savor how that feels. 

Most importantly, you soaked in the sun, spent time watching the sky in wonder, gazed out at the stars, studied your babies’ precious faces and listened to their hearts until you knew them as well as your own, and  you were there for those that needed you most. You took the time to laugh, listen and love. You were present and made your people a priority. Don’t you feel like you added treasured moments to your life? 

All in all you had a productive year where you were a participant in your own life. You put blood, sweat, tears, laughter, love and adventure into 2019. I know you are grateful and blessed for all you have experienced; don’t let that pass you buy. Soak it up. Let it linger on your heart. It’s okay to take a moment and just be. I also know, you will think about what was lost or missed. Try and remember what is, is and what will be, will be. You did what you could. You did the best with what you had. You never gave up. You are the best you, you have ever been to this point in your life and I love you more today than ever. 

Sincerely,

Beginning of 2019 Michelle

Notes on a life well lived

Notes on a life well lived

Dozens of self-help books litter my bookshelves from Anne Lamott, Gabby Bernstein, to Shauna Niequist. I have also read Marianne Williamson, and I can’t quite stomach Rachel Hollis, but I have read more than half of Girl, Wash Your Face; sorry people she is way too overzealous and tough love for me. Brene Brown’s Gift of Imperfections entirely changed my life, and I have watched her Ted Talks more than once, and even taken her online course. I follow Glennon Doyle Melton and Jen Hatmaker. I have listened to speeches and audio books by Zig Zigler and learned how to give elevator speeches by reading Terri Sjodin. One common thread among all the things I have read, listened to, watched or studied is about how to live your best life.

When I started this blog six and a half years ago, it was a way for me to log my journey to be my best self, mainly how to live my best life. Since today is my birthday, it has me reflecting on this a bit. In addition, there is quite a lot of talk about resolutions as we have just entered a new year.

There are some common threads when it comes to living your best life based on what I have read or studied. One, you have to show up for yourself. You have to participate in your own life. Two, you need to make good, healthy choices, both physically and emotionally. Three, you need to take risks and follow your dreams. And lastly, you need to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life. While those things all sound fabulous on paper, I think it is often difficult to capture that in day-to-day living.

If you have followed me for any length of time, you know I get caught up on age. My own that is. While, people tell me that age isn’t a big deal; I logically understand that, but when death has been intertwined with your existence on this planet since as far back as you can remember it is hard not to examine mortality. I mean my job is to deliver messages from spirits in heaven to people here, so I think about life and death on the daily. Age sits on my mind in good and bad ways. So, I logically understand age is a frame of mind; I am not worried about aging; I just know that is how we measure time here and time as a human is an invaluable, precious commodity. Point of my ramble, I am 41 as of today and legit, I am halfway through my life, and I still want to make sure that I am living my best life.

What the heck does a life well lived mean to me? How do you have a life well lived in reality? What does that look like? And can it mean different things every damn day?

Let’s take a look at question one – what the heck is a life well lived mean to me? While I shared some components of a life well lived a bit at the top of this blog, a life well lived is going to be different for everyone. What that means to me will not be the same for you. Some of us need to have achievements and careers and awards. Some of us don’t need any recognition but instead need meaningful connection. The point is I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer here. For me a life well lived means doing the best I can each day to be present, make meaningful connections with the people I love, offer myself grace instead of criticism and learn instead of staying stagnant. I want to make healthy choices, and I want to help other people. If I have given my best and loved my people, then I have lived well.

There is no one size fits all answer to what makes a well lived life

For me, and this also seems to be popular in the self-help world, living your best life means loving yourself. That is one area, I can say I have improved immensely since I have started this blog. This girl is not perfect, but she is kind, loyal, generous, trustworthy, sincere, honest, hard-working. Of course, there are still areas that need improving. I am a stress eater who is addicted to caffeine and I struggle with being the kind of friend I want to be. For example, approaching people to have small talk is seriously still the hardest thing I am faced with every single day. But it is okay, I have that knowledge, and I do what I can to be better about it. That is enough.

And last but not least, I think a life well-lived includes eating chocolate and reading books. Those things are in my life well-lived. Some people need to travel or drink coffee or run or drink wine; I need chocolate and a good book.

How do you live a life well in reality?

Well, that is the real question, am I right or am I right?

Drumroll please….

one damn second at a freaking time.

I know I am a genius.

Copy of There is no one size fits all answer to what makes a well lived life

But really, in real life living a good life might look like this…

You are already running five minutes late to get your kids to school, and child #4 still has yet to brush their teeth, comb their hair and find their shoes regardless of your constant, calm, thoughtful reminders. You know that you should continue to be easy-going and choose your words carefully, but instead, you lose your cool and raise your voice. I mean really, you can’t believe how many times you have had to ask, and there is no way you are going to be on time at this point. And that matters because people should show up on time for important things; it is good manners. Manners are important. Anyway, you lost it. You are only human. You feel awful by the time you actually drop off said children because yesterday you may have made it through the same scenario with grace, calm and incredible restraint, but today your hormones are different, or you slept less, or you ran out of your favorite K-Cup or the dog got sick on the carpet or everything fell apart in your life, and you just cannot handle one more little thing, and you got snippy. Well, you are human, and you need to let that moment pass, apologize for your mistake, admit you are human and try again in the next moment. That is all you can do. Because in a life well-lived my friend, things are flawed and messy. Little things can seem like big things at the moment, and we mess up.

Or a life well lived may look like this in reality…

You are nailing it; you ditched the to-do list, and you got a load of laundry done (because keeping things organized and tidy is important to you in your life well-lived categories) you took a run (because health is important), you played a game with your family, made a home cooked nutritious meal and you are on top of the life well-lived world. I mean you were present and connected to your child at the moment when they said, “Mama, everyone should be happy.” And you just teared up at the profound innocence of that statement. You are the boss of a life well lived. Congratulations.

However, the next day, your morning falls apart, the repairman comes late, you miss your conference call, your late getting the kids from school which they proceed to tell everyone you talk to that day, soccer practice runs over, and you have to hit a McDonald’s drive-thru because you cannot skip eating but have precious little time before baths and bedtime. Seriously, high-five yourself, because you got through that day. The kids are fed. The repairs were made. Everyone is home safe. Life goes on. Try again tomorrow. That is a life well lived in reality, my friend.

Copy of There is no one size fits all life 2

That is just how it goes, and you know what? You are doing it right; everyone has those days, and if they don’t I am pretty sure they are lying, or they have an assistant, a nanny, another assistant, and they are outsourcing other things, and they are still lying. But I am not saying this to be judge-y. I want you to understand that a life well lived, in reality, isn’t going to fit any self-help book wish list when it is actually happening. The truth is everyone has bad days; even those living their lives like a boss. True story.

What does that look like, a life well lived? Answered above. It is different all the time. Depending on the moment, depending on the day. But it should feel like gratitude and grace. Wonder and joy. Life is also going to hurt and be difficult. A life well-lived includes feeling all the feelings, showing up when it is hard, success and failure, mistakes, messiness, do-overs, loss, and love. I think it is more important to feel life than to make sure it looks any particular way. A life well-lived will look different to me than to you, but it will feel the same of that I am pretty sure.

And can it mean different things every damn day? Yes. Yes. And Yes. Some days a life well lived means sitting on the couch curled up with your family watching a movie and ordering take out because you just can’t do the things. Or maybe you are hiding in your cloffice trying to get your act together because everything you have felt that day has literally brought you to your knees, and you have to find a way not to let the pain you have witnessed and felt that day bleed so deep into your existence that you stop in your tracks and never start again.

So, as I enter my forty-first year, I want to settle into these bones and keep doing what I have been doing for the last six and a half years, living my life well. Embracing my flawed self with each new day, stretch outside my comfort zone and live beyond my fears. To show up and be present in my life. But to always offer myself grace when I can’t.

Copy ofThere is no one size fits all life 4

If you have read this far, I hope for my birthday, I hope today, you do something nice for yourself. Take a moment to enjoy where you are right now. I know I will.

Love and light,

2016-09-11_0905

Notes on fear…

Notes on fear…

The other day I read a post by Rachel Macy Stafford, otherwise known as the Hands Free Mama. She said we should share songs with people, you can read that post here.

Songs have spoken to me always. And today was no different. Coming home from the grocery store Zach Williams’ Fear is a Liar came on the radio. The lyrics fell over me in a blanket of truth that could be the soundtrack of my life…and so I want to share it with you.

“When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough
Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar.”

For most of my young adulthood and adulthood fear dictated the choices I made, from going away to college, to who I spent my time with, to what I thought about myself…but as I aged something inside my brain changed and while I was still afraid, it was harder not to be who I was. It was harder to hide. Or maybe the lies fear told me were just harder to believe.

When I started my living out loud, being vulnerable journey prayer was a big part of that. I was definitely moving beyond fear to accomplish this lifestyle. But my prayers shifted a bit. I wasn’t just talking to God, I started to listen to the world around me, to the stillness. Was God answering my prayers in what was happening around me?

I began to see that He was. One of the first phrases that started to play in my heart when I began to pray about being myself again, and living out loud was, “Fear not, remember.” When I kept hearing this phrase in my head, I started to research it. It felt like God’s word, but I wasn’t sure. Did you know that “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” appears in the Bible over and over again. There are roughly 40 or so Bible verses on fear alone. So, I guess I was being answered. When my heart would whisper these words back to me, it was my divine blueprint coming back to life. Don’t believe fear it said, remember whose you are. I am a child of God and God loves me. God thinks the exact opposite of what I have been telling myself all this time.

The truth is…

Fear holds us still when we should be moving forward.
Fear keeps us ashamed and hidden.
Fear isolates us from everyone else.
Fear holds our tongues and tucks away our ideas from the world.
Fear feeds insecurity so it can breed depression and resentment.

I know there are advantages to fear…it can keep us safe… it can help us take a breath to think, it can keep us on our toes, but fear should not be the place from which we make our decisions. Fear will absolutely take “our breath and happiness”. Fear will lie and tell us not to move. Fear will lie and tell us not to speak. Fear will stop us in our tracks and keep us hidden from the world and only allow us to live in the shadows.

But as my journey to live out loud continued and I listened more to my prayers being answered, when I found myself afraid I would hear my heart whisper again, “Fear not, remember.” And I would decide to do something even though I was terrified.

No more shadows for me behind fear…I began to tell my truth. I started a blog, where my words are pieces of my heart bled onto a computer page where anyone can see them. It isn’t easy, sometimes fear has me pull those words back, take them down and hide again. But I have learned you can’t take them back. The words have already been seen, it is already written.

I started a business that is going a year strong. I am speaking my heart to others, even though it can hurt and sometimes I lose, but sometimes I win and get to be connected to amazing people who fill my life with love, laughter, and happiness.

Fear has stopped me in my tracks more than I would like to mention. Fear keeps me quiet when the bullies in my life wield their controlling ways.

But I am gaining on this fear. I am remembering who I am, whose I am, and I am rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes. Fear he absolutely is a liar and I choose to no longer believe because the life I want to live every part of it has been on the other side of fear.

Love and light,

2016-09-11_0905

Year End Lessons for 2018

Year End Lessons for 2018

It has been awhile since I have written a lessons post. I thought a new year would be a good time to reflect on what I have re-learned or learned or remembered from this past year. I am going to use this look back as a guide to help my way forward this year.

First things first…

20 Dessert Inspirations

Do it! If you can help it, don’t put things on hold. Go out, take adventures, and live. Even if you are hurt. Even if you are scared. Even if you think it’s too people-y. Go on the trip. Love your people well and soak in the rest and adventure. It is worth the memories.

Make your own Fancy new year

Or unfancy new year…but make it happen. We spent ours at a pajama party, but my baby wanted a sparkly fancy new year and she made it happen. From a sparkling jumpsuit with rainbow stripes and curled hair she was fancy head to toe. Who cares what anyone else thinks…be you! Do you and then make it happen.

Bake the Cookies

It is hard to find the time, I know. With kids, work, family, and regular life it is hard to sneak in the things that bring us joy, but you can make the time. Bake the cookies, take the walk, do the workout. Find your joy and add it into your life when and where you can. You are welcome.

good times & tan lines

This one is hard. I know. I sit with bereaved souls day in and day out and how in the world some people have to leave this earth while others get to stay and cause harm is beyond me, but there are still miracles. Even in pain and despair they will creep up like weeds in the sidewalk. They might be small and they may not take away your pain, but they can ease it. Miracles happen every single day. We just forget that we are one. Sometimes, we have to focus on the little, tiny things to see them, to hear them. But the point is to not stop believing.

2019-01-01_0815

I know, I know. I ask hard things of you. But we can do hard things. Go out into the world and do what you are passionate about. We need more of that. This sign was literally on the bathroom wall of a house I stayed at almost one year ago and it was like a beacon telling me I had made the right choice. I did. I am doing what makes me happy and it is making me happy. It isn’t always easy and I am still learning, but it is making me happy and others happy. So go do what makes you happy. What are waiting for? Certainly not me telling you…so what?

Make New Friends

This one can be a bit difficult as well. When you are in your forties people are established. They have formed their tribes and made their alliances and infiltrating those can be murky waters. But guess what? Making new friends and meeting new people keep us young and open. We can’t become who we are meant to be when we are being a hermit in a cave. Do you get hurt? Yep. I have learned a few people aren’t my people. That is okay, too. What is most important is to keep open. I have made amazing friends this past year. I am so grateful for them and their amazing text messages, company and gifts. I cannot imagine my life without these new people. They have brought me so much joy this past year and I cannot wait to grow those friendships.

RELEARN & REMEMBER YOUR OWN LESSONS

I said those things…this last year…these are my words. Remember who you are and where you want to be. You got this. Go out and impress yourself. Again, you’re welcome.

actions

This one is the one to end on. Actions always speak louder than words. Watch how people treat you. Watch carefully. It says more about them then what they maybe able to say. Some people are great at deceiving the world. They hide behind their smoothness and sweet talk, but what they do…well that doesn’t lie. Not even a little bit. So watch people carefully. And remember that people are watching you, too. Make sure you are following through on what you say with what you do.

Wishing you a 2019 filled with health, love, happiness, joy, adventure, good company, and fun,

2016-09-11_0905

 

Snippets from Heaven – Part 6

Snippets from Heaven – Part 6

She was beautifully out of place.

Sometimes I believe she intended to be.

Like the moon during the day.

-D.R. Via the Minda Journal

When I was little, I just wanted to be the girl next door. You know the one who is unassuming, beautiful yet she doesn’t know it, everyone in the whole town loves her, and at the end of the story, she wins the guy by just being her quirky self. Yeah, that is the girl I wanted to be. It never really happened. I sort of had the invisible part down, but because I kept a part of my soul a secret it was easier to try to hide in plain sight. And, unfortunately, you can’t shine as your quirky self if you are hiding something about your quirky self.

My whole life, I saw, heard, and felt things most other people didn’t believe existed. And I could sense everything about people with one look and never a spoken word. I somehow knew I would never be that girl next door. But that didn’t stop me from hoping.

By the time I was thirteen spirit thought that I was a place they could regularly visit and often they would ask me for help in telling their stories. I tried. I typed (literally typed, on a typewriter) up a story about one girl who died and tried to get it published. I talked to my sisters about the things I saw. But it just kept escalating. Combined with the angst and pain, I felt from others around me, at sixteen I tried to take a bunch of pills and silence everything forever. I couldn’t possibly be supposed to live like this right?

But, as always, God is in charge. The next morning when I woke up, HE was there. His loud voice boomed and told me, “Your life is mine.” I could sense the disappointment. And the voice continued, “Your work isn’t finished yet. I have things left for you to do.”

In addition to feeling extraordinarily guilty and having yet another secret to hide; I now felt that I was for sure crazy. Who hears GOD?! Seriously, now I was broken in all new ways.

I tried to reconcile my outside life with my inside life. I still didn’t talk about it much, but I definitely decided to learn more and put a little more effort into paying attention to what I heard and saw. Most of the time no one wanted to know anything about it, and I knew it was something most people wouldn’t accept.

For most of my young adult life, it was something that I pushed down and left out. I still saw and heard spirit. I could still read people like a book, but the girl next door appeal always won out, and I just tried to be ordinary.

By the time we moved to our small town, I thought maybe I had a shot. It was like a do-over, and I had whole-heartedly decided to keep the other piece of my soul a secret. I would be normal and ordinary like everyone else. Besides, I had my own family now and I didn’t want this to damage the way people saw them, too. And it started to happen, I was fitting in. After, being here for two years, I began to make some friends. The other moms would talk to me at pick up, and I was being invited places. I was so relieved.

Then a little spirit boy decided to change my whole life. I don’t know why I thought any different, I wasn’t in charge. And of course, he was asking me to be anything but ordinary.

Copy of cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out

If you have come to a session, you have heard me tell the Matthew story. (You can also read it here.) Matthew is a boy who visited me after his passing and basically became my teacher. One day six years ago, he told me it was time for me to follow this path and he warned that if I didn’t take care of it; spirit would.

Well, a part of the story I don’t tell is how I quit. Yep, I quit. I shut everything down for six months because of one bad experience, a tremendous amount of doubt, and general life chaos. And most likely my deep-seated need to be the ordinary, girl next door. And if I am being sincere, maybe I was a little glad for the break. As much as I wanted to help; I really didn’t believe I was strong enough. I mean, even though I was removed from the sadness of my clients; how many times could my own heart break? How much sadness and pain can one person carry? Spirit can feel everything, so during the sessions not only do I feel what they are feeling; I experience my client’s pain, too. And then the human side of me is also experiencing what is happening.

For six long months I thought for sure I was going to get to just be me; ordinary and regular, and live a life-like everyone else.

But God wasn’t done with me.

God wasn't done

He isn’t ever done with us. Duh! It was silly to think I still controlled my life. Well, newsflash, we can only control how we react to what happens to us.

Spirits would keep popping up in my life; clients’ stories would break me down. I couldn’t say no to some people and after six months; everyone including my husband thought that I was supposed to be helping spirit and their loved ones here on earth full-time. And the doors of my normal life were closing all around me. My job was changing and my place there didn’t feel like it belonged to me any more.

So, a little over a year ago I quit my day job and opened up my own little business. To say I was terrified would be an understatement. I have an -ish ton of faith because otherwise, I am just a crazy girl who hears voices; so I believed anything was possible, but I was still worried.

Since God knew this, the first client he sent to me was Lauren. Immediately her radiant smile and warm heart hit me, and I loved her. She came into my cozy little office, kicked off her shoes and made herself comfortable. And my whole heart breathed a sigh of relief; everything about her was exactly what I needed. While I was still nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, I was so much more at ease. I knew God had sent me the most perfect first client.

We cried, and we laughed. Lauren’s mom came through to her. And while it was a fantastic session filled with immense healing; my heart broke a little because her mother left this earth of her own volition. Now, we have a great deal of upset over things like this in the human world. But, remember, God is forever tries, and heaven is home, so God showers all souls with love. And everything that happens He has a say in. Nothing gets past Him. We talked about that, that day, too.

No soul left behind

Lauren’s mom showed me how Lauren shared her light with other people. How she would take a little bit of it and hand it off to others like hope, and it would spread far and wide. This spreading of light was like the festival of lanterns and one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

I asked Lauren about it at the end of the session, and she told me about how before her mom passed one of the last things they talked about was her mom asking her if she ever heard the song, 1,000 paper cranes. Lauren brushed it off and didn’t think about it again, until after she received the news of her mom’s passing. She listened to the song. It weighed on her heart, and she decided to make 1,000 paper cranes every year to honor her mom. And she was giving some of them away to other people. That was the light I saw spreading. Lauren was turning her pain and her mom’s pain into hope. Literally, an origami crane symbols the mystic legend of the crane’s 1,000 year life span and to give someone a paper crane symbolizes offering hope and healing through difficult challenges.

From that Cranes for Kristina was born. Today that is Lauren’s full-time gig. She is creating cranes every day, giving away a piece of her light to others and offering them hope. (If you come to see me you get to take one with you when you leave, my office isn’t complete without a little bit of Lauren’s light in it.) Lauren doesn’t stop there, she speaks up and out about depression and suicide prevention. Lauren has the most amazing heart and uses her grief as inspiration and motivation to help others.

So while, Lauren’s life has changed over the year since we met; mine has, too.

Moms don’t talk to me at pick up anymore. People recognize me around town, stare and whisper. I am not the girl next door; I am the girl who knows too much. The girl like the moon in the day time, just a little out-of-place.

My heart continues to break in new ways multiple times a day as I sit with people in their pain. And I can’t think of any other thing I would rather do with my life.

My faith has grown exponentially, and control isn’t even in my vocabulary any more except to say it is an illusion. I know I will never be the girl next door and ordinary is out of the question. I think I am okay with that. I wasn’t sure before. Not only because I wanted to fit in; but also because this sadness and heartbreak; I wasn’t sure how much I could take.

In fact, last night a friend and I were talking about how our hearts break faster than they heal and it is all just too much. And how was that possible when at the exact same time we were filled with so much gratitude and love for everything in our lives.

But today, even in the midst of my heart feeling so broken; I thought of Lauren, Kristina, the cranes and the light and love they shine into this world.

I realized then that my heart wasn’t actually healing; it WAS healed AND broken – both at the same time and that is what love is; it is being both broken and healed at the same time.

It is about moving one step more even when we feel like we can’t breathe. It is having the courage to move beyond fear and trusting in faith. It is sitting with the wounded and feeling all the feels knowing that we can rise from that spot. Knowing that love exists in the darkest places and anything is possible. And not being afraid to offer hope and light even when we are hurting, too.

love is

I think love and pain coexist. We are all a little bit of both. And maybe, I am the ordinary girl and also entirely out-of-place different all at the same time. Broken and whole. Love and loss. Death and life wrapped in an extraordinary ordinary package. That is what Kristina showed me Lauren is; it is what so many of my clients are…and their strength in the midst of deep pain constantly leaves me in awe.

I can’t think of anything I want to be more. It’s how I met people like Lauren and learned about turning pain into hope. Sitting in pain with strangers has broken my heart open wide and opened my eyes to the impossible.

I hope to be a person who instead of freaking people out because I can see things they may not believe in; to one day, because I decided to shine my light, become a little bit of hope that we can be broken and healed at the same time; that being out-of-place is sometimes right were we need to be. And that just because I do what I do, doesn’t mean that God isn’t a part of it; that in fact, He is at the center of it. And maybe just maybe, it’s what he wanted all along. Because maybe, just maybe I am supposed to share this with you. So that you know you aren’t alone. So that you know you are extraordinarily ordinary exactly out of place just like you are supposed to be.

cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out

Until next time,

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Pep Talk Part 2

Pep Talk Part 2

So a few weeks ago I gave myself a pep talk, (you can read it here). It’s one of those posts that caused a lot of hullabaloo.

See when I write about my personal life, and it causes chaos I want to run and hide and scream and then never, ever write again. Ever. Never. Ever. Ever. Never. Like, breaking up Taylor Swift style.

But Holy Christmas Cookies, keeping my words in my head isn’t a place where they can live peacefully. I finally have to surface when I am done processing and get the words out again. They erupt like a fire hose.

What am I talking about?

The Pep Talk Post and the Pass the Praise Post caused drama in my life. Some people thought what I wrote had everything to do with them. But these posts were all ME, by ME, for ME, about ME. And even though I put them out in cyberspace to read; they weren’t about ANYONE else. Not even a little. And they meant no harm. They still mean no harm. Just like this post. It’s about me processing what happened to me.

I put them here to read for the pure and reasonable purpose of possibly reaching someone who feels like me. That’s all.

So there you have it, my thoughts can’t stay quiet. It is just not how I function. Period. Okay, maybe how I operate, EXCLAMATION POINT.

I need a place to let my thoughts wander free. I know I could do it quietly, but then I am not living out loud. And that is a promise I made to myself that I must keep. I NEED to live out loud. Yes, as always the capitals help. Immensely. They make everything feel better.

So, as I begin again in a post about me, I brace for controversy, I know I need to write out loud. Why? Because there is more growth happening here and this is where I put it.

And there you have it. Processed, dissected and now I cannot contain my voice any longer. And here is another post all about me. And yes, this makes me feel selfish and self-centered, but I don’t think I am alone in processing life events through writing. And at the end of the day; I do not believe I am selfish. Again, queue controversy because I am sure some people would disagree, but we can’t make everyone happy I learned that the hard way.

So onward I write…

I have been continuing to workout and semi meal plan since late August. It has not been easy. From my perspective, I am one of the biggest girls in the group with a lot of weight to lose. I know I got myself into this mess. Yes, I just wrote about choices and perspective and mythical unicorns; I know, I know, but this has been difficult. Not always challenging, maybe more tedious, but it wasn’t like whew-hoo so easy, I can do it without any effort!

Yes, there is a step by step meal and workout plan to follow. I do love that. It takes out any guesswork.

Yes, everything is laid out perfectly, and there is a group for accountability; all positive check marks.

Yes, the program is sound and coaches and trainer are on point. There could not be better people involved.

Yes, I love it. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really enjoy it. But it still isn’t always easy. Even with a supportive coach; I still slip a little here and there in the food department and have missed a handful of workouts, but I have kept at 30 minutes of exercise 4+ times a week.

I feel like here I can be honest in this safe place, it is like home for me here on this blog, and if I don’t keep it real, it won’t ever be. And despite my slips, I have kept at it. And that means it works and it is good. It can be good and hard at the same time. Kind of like life, right?

My adhering to the food plan and keeping up with the workouts can be the problematic part some days. And I would rather be honest about how tough that part is than sugar coat it. We often know the right thing to do and even have incredible help, but taking the steps and making the right choices seem difficult.

Almost died

And that is why I wanted to share with you. I wanted to share what keeps me going despite my struggles and my weight slowly coming off or even seeming to stabilize. Just in case you were in a similar spot yourself.

One, I want to have more energy. So working out is a must to achieve that.

Two, I want to be healthy. Again, diet and exercise are the answers here.

And lastly, I want to keep a promise to myself to put myself on the list. I need to take care of me, too. This is an excellent way to do that.

And in an effort to adhere to doing those 3 things I had to take a good look at diet and exercise in my life.

put yourself on the list

Choosing to do this was wearisome at first. I didn’t really want to jump up and work out. But I said I would, so I did. Each day did not get easier at first. But over the weeks it did; I got stronger, and it became a part of my routine. I expected it and missed it when it was a rest day. And then it started to get a bit tedious again, so I took a chance and said yes to an opportunity my coach put out to the group. So, I say spice it up if you start to get a bit bored. This program that I am currently on, has a similar meal plan (let’s not go there yet) but I lift weights in addition to cardio. I know?! Who knew I would ever lift weights?

The video trainer is fantastic. There are several videos about form, and it is always stressed in each session, so you really feel like you are comfortable with all the moves. I love learning how to do this. Sometimes I feel like a wuss, but again over time, I have been able to up my weight and stamina during the cardio sessions. There are still things that I have to modify, but I keep moving and keep trying, and I know now that I will get better at it at some point. And sometimes I have to modify what is being modified, but I keep moving and keep getting better. You have to count each small success; one more sit up; finishing something in a new way, stepping up something that was modified before even if for a few seconds. All the little things count.

Another tip I want to share is not to watch the scale. Now weighing yourself is essential, but your body might be changing even when your weight isn’t. I can see minor changes in my shape and the way my clothes fit even though the scale isn’t seeming to budge too much right now. Overall, I am only 8 pounds down, but I know that I will get stronger and better at the meal plan and that will change, too. Remember sometimes if you have a lot of weight to lose, it took a long time to get that way, so the weight loss isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take time. Be patient.

You need to offer yourself grace and ask yourself these questions when you start to put yourself down:

A) Can you do more than you did yesterday?

B) How do you feel?

I think the – how do you feel – question is super important.

When I answer this question, it is transformative. How do I feel? I actually feel better in my body when I work out, and I think I look better. It must have to do with endorphins and all that jazz, but it does make a difference.

Copy of Almost died

And most importantly, I made a promise to myself to take better care of me. If you have known me since 2012 you know, I got into the best shape of my life since high school when I started running. I could run 9 miles without stopping. A dear friend, who I will love forever, even said I began to have a thigh gap. God love her! In 2014, regardless of how much I was running, I started to gain weight again. I went to doctors for over a year, and nothing could be determined to be the cause. And nothing seemed to help. So I gave up completely. I was exhausted, too and so I just stopped taking of me. I dove into life and running a side business and my kids, and before I knew it I was really getting sick and feeling awful, and I was way over-weight. In 2016 I tried acupuncture to start things up again. It helped at first, but by early 2017 I had completely fallen apart physically. And that is when I made a promise to get healthy again.

I went back to doctors, and after multiple visits to different doctors, we determined that I did have some things that could be causing my exhaustion. I had surgery and started medication, and my energy started to come back. Hallelujah! Queue the choir of angels.

When I felt better, I decided to take a plunge and start this work out program that was all online, with a virtual coach and accountability group.

It started in August, and now in November, I have been lifting weights for 6 weeks. I still get discouraged. I am still frustrated with my weight from time to time. Food is always my downfall, but with logic, the meal plan and my knowledge, i.e., I think before I eat something and decide if it is worth it. Yes, I fall off track occasionally, but I am better than I was yesterday. And I wouldn’t give that up, not now and I hope not ever.

So my point, if you are wanting to start again, do it. You will be glad you did. If you are like me and feel like a rookie all over again – we will get there. Keep going, and if like me you get behind a bit, offer yourself grace and don’t stop – jump back in there. And if you are already a pro, then I am happy to hear how you got to where you are.

And just as importantly you can use your voice to express how you see the world. And even if you think you are doing so kindly; it will make people feel things. It might even piss them off. That is okay. You can’t control that. You can only control how you react. Try to stay calm and kind. But don’t stop speaking up.

Stay in the game, offer grace, and keep it up. You got this!

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On hostile unicorns and absolution

On hostile unicorns and absolution

A few weeks ago, my oldest son was explaining how he beat the hard mode in Terraria. For me, listening to how these games are played, even though I have watched them, is complicated, to say the least. Basically, Terraria is a game where you can dig, build, and fight. You work through different biomes and beat different bosses (the game’s language, not mine) to conquer the game. But don’t use my definition as a guide; I am just a mom and not a gamer after all. But for the purpose of this post, that is going to have to be good enough.

Anyway, he was telling me about defeating the hard mode and how it unlocks or spawns The Hallow. In this new biome, he can do more things and collect more goods. But the one part of his description that really struck me is when he told me to watch out for the unicorns. In The Hallow the unicorns are hostile.

That I can relate to.

I know, unicorns don’t exist. But it made me think of perfection, also a myth. It made me think of what we might all be continually searching for and seem never to find. And it seemed just a tad bit ironic that The Hallow (a sacred place) is where unicorns exist.

And I kept thinking about unicorns (perfection, every single day happiness, a place where everyone gets along, nirvana) and they are unattainable because they are not realistic.

Like how we can always be looking for just the right moment to try something new when we should just do that new thing right now. Or we think the grass is greener on the other side of the hill only to find out that there are the same weed patches and trouble keeping things green when we get there. Or wanting to make a new friend, but staying quiet and away from others. Wanting to be seen, but not having the courage to stand out.

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Elephantjournal is a must follow on Instagram if you are not already following.

I probably scroll through social media channels more than I should. I probably watch the news a lot less than I should. I see happy people in the midst of life and wonder if I am where I should be. I read things that get me thinking about life and if I am doing as much as I should. Living in a way that I should.

Worthiness just might be my unicorn. It seems so elusive to me and right when I think I finally have found a cozy little place where I feel like; I am finally comfortable with myself there is some little reminder that I am still hanging onto my unworthiness.

Like how reading posts from a favorite blogger that says if we aren’t doing something to stop prejudice, gun violence, homelessness, sex trafficking, abuse, literacy, refugees, etc. and fixing it then we are complacent. We are part of the problem. And it makes me feel less than because I am not a warrior; I am not ready to strap on armor and fight or debate others. I definitely am trying to help defeat these things, but is it enough?

I try to help with Holiday Cheer. I try to help by raising my babies to be the helpers. I run toward car accidents to hold the hands of strangers until help comes. I volunteer. I donate. I vote. I treat others how I want to be treated, and yet when I see the things happening in the world, I feel so much not enough-ness I can’t even speak. I feel so wrapped in privilege that the guilt washes over me in tidal waves and I can’t breathe or even move for a few minutes. The weight of the wrong in the world sometimes feels so much bigger than the good. And it probably doesn’t help that I was built with the ability to feel things so deeply and to be able to feel what others feel so completely. It is sometimes so hard to live that way.

One of my social media friends posted a blog that made my heart drop. She wrote about how she isn’t sure she believes in unconditional love anymore. What the hell? This person is the epitome of unconditional love. She is the actual living, breathing embodiment of unconditional love. I guess when you are that, it is hard to find it, and even harder to see it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think we forget to look in the mirror sometimes. I think we forget ourselves in the equation of things.

And I can be a bit churchy and preachy even though I don’t go to church. I read Tim Tebow and follow Christian Instagram accounts and listen to Christian music. By the way, how freaking ah-mazing is Lauren Daigle?! I have her album on shuffle and repeat. I get goosebumps on just about every song. Her lyrics stop me in my tracks.

However, the irony is not lost on me when it comes to the relationship between religion and the problems that it causes in the world sometimes. The problem it can cause in myself sometimes. But, I remind myself, it is the interpretation of humans that causes the problem; believing in Jesus and God isn’t harming anyone. Anyway…

The whole unicorns being hostile; I get it. The beauty and magic of this world, of the moments with each other, can be plagued by the ugliest parts of humanity. Or how nature can destroy a city on a whim – through a tornado, hurricane, or a volcano or disease or freak accidents can take away a person we love in an instant. And everything seems lost and cruel. Or how a moment of hate can seemingly steal away every kindness that has touched your heart. And unfortunately, sometimes in beauty lies ugliness; unicorns can be hostile. Perfection is a plague. Feeling more right than someone else and that need to be right is cancer. And your world can turn on a dime.

Acceptance, understanding, and the constant choice to see the best is the way to peace in our own hearts. When we do our best to help others and try to reach them despite our differences that is how we can find our own absolution. When we learn to look in the mirror and see ourselves as a friend would see us or how our children see us; then we can start to feel that worthiness. We just aren’t looking at things with the best perspective sometimes, or we forget to look in the right places to see the things that matter most of all.

Staying centered in this life is definitely a practice. I do not wake up and feel like I am whole, worthy and ready to conquer the world. Those feelings have to be cultivated, curated and rebuilt. I am not the kind of person that was born with confidence to spare. And in an environment that moves faster and faster on to the next best thing – what is bigger, brighter, better – I am constantly reeling to stay in my lane. The good news is that when you have faith, and you continually check in with the universe and God; He can remind you that you are divine. It is the simple things that you do every day that make the most significant difference. Be rooted in who you are. Treat others and yourself with respect and compassion. It is that simple. Let the unicorns be a myth, and then the attachment to it can no longer hold you hostage – you can be pleasantly content in your imperfectness. Let go of your need to be right and open up to understanding and empathy. Once we let go, become open, and offer grace, we find our own absolution, we love ourselves and each other, which is what we were really after all along.

Until next time,

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Pep Talk Please

Pep Talk Please

Maybe this diet is driving me crazy, or perhaps it’s the news that another precious baby is now in heaven because cancer took over her nine-year-old body, which by the way is beyond awful…beyond devastating…or maybe it’s because it’s a Friday and I feel like there are so many damn problems in the world I just can’t fix. Like I keep pouring into a well that just gets deeper.

Usually, a chai latte would do the trick, and that is whack because seriously what a privileged treat to have to calm my nerves when scared humans all over the world are fighting just to live, to have clean water and a safe place to lay their head. But I am whacked and the latte does the trick. However, this diet says no bueno to the latte. SO HERE WE ARE. GRUMPY CAPS AND ALL.

So here’s the deal, we can feel helpless even though we are helping. I know you are like me and doing your part here and there and everywhere you go. We are all just surviving on this ball circling the sun. We are all only human when it comes down to it; doing what we can, when we can, where we can. We are good. Some of us are wounded, and the good is harder to see, but it’s there underneath the scars and the shields we use to cover it up. So, since I felt like I needed a pep talk; I thought I would have it online in front of a bunch of people, and maybe you would read along and feel pepped, too. Yes, pepped. It’s a word. It isn’t turning red with my spellcheck and Grammarly thinks it’s acceptable, so you know what? I do, too.

you are awesome

If you are breathing, and moving one foot in front of the other, and doing the very best that you can, regardless of mood – YOU ARE AWESOME! KEEP IT UP! YOU GOT THIS! YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!

YOU ARE ENOUGH

If you are breathing, and moving one foot in front of the other, and doing the very best that you can, regardless of how you feel about yourself – YOU ARE ENOUGH! YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH! YOU ARE PRICELESS! YOU ARE THE SHIT! GO GET IT!

YOU ROCK AS A PARENT

Parenting standards these days are really high. I mean have you seen how many Pinterest posts there are for crafty crap, bento fancy shmancy lunches, and 99 million ways to keep your kids entertained while building their self-esteem and making them all around amazing. Like too many damn pins, people. Don’t get me wrong, I like Pinterest, but I can’t handle the standards of what a parent is supposed to accomplish. So if you are sending your kid to school with food or money for food and they are dressed, and mostly clean, and mostly well-behaved – KUDOS! YOU ARE ROCKING THIS PARENT GIG. YOU NAILED IT! I mean high-five yourself right this minute. If you discipline your child, if your child fights with their siblings, if you have yelled at your child because they have driven you crazy – YOU ARE ROCKING IT AS A PARENT! YOU GOT THIS! If your child has said you are mean, strict, rude, they don’t like you, they want a new mom or dad. You know what? KIDS DON’T ALWAYS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. KIDS DON’T GET TO TELL US WHAT TO DO. OR WHAT IS TRUTH. WE ARE THE ADULTS. YOU ARE ROCKING IT AS A PARENT. ENOUGH SAID.

YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY

If your diet says you can’t have chai lattes, and you have been following it for days and days, and you have only lost 1 or 2 pounds. And you are working out like you have never worked out in your life. And if you happen to yell, “You can suck it!” to the TV Fitness instructor because really, why are there so many push-ups? YOU LOOK GREAT JUST AS YOU ARE TODAY! KEEP IT UP! YOU CAN DO THE PUSH-UPS! YOU CAN MODIFY, AND YOU ARE STILL A FITNESS WARRIOR!

If you are wearing yoga pants and your hair is up in a messy bun. YOU ARE HOT! YOU ARE KILLING IT IN THE FASHION DEPARTMENT! ROCK THAT LOOK SISTER! OWN IT!

If you are one of the ones that made it and successfully dressed in your best outfit and have your hair and makeup just so. YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY! YOU ARE A GODDESS! * SIDE NOTE: REMEMBER TO TELL THE YOGA PANT MOM SHE IS A GODDESS, TOO!

If you got dressed today; YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF FASHION! YOU ARE NAILING LIFE!

WHATEVER YOU LOOK LIKE; HOWEVER YOU SHOW UP – YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY!

If you are feeling alone, invisible and left out…maybe your best friend hasn’t called you, or you don’t fit in with the other moms at pick up. I want you to remember; YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, AND GOSH DARN IT, PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

That’s my pep talk people. I hope you feel pepped. I know I feel a little better. We got this. We are freaking, amazeballs at this life. It’s supposed to be hard, and we are supposed to mess up. That means we are doing it right. Congrats for showing up, for living, for putting one foot in front of the other and doing the best you can. YOU ROCK!

Go get it,

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Pass the praise

Pass the praise

This weekend I had the opportunity for an all-girls overnight. A couple of moms and I took our daughters to the Niall Horan concert. It was refreshing. My daughter was in heaven with all the make-up and hair curling. She was excited to be around all that feminine energy. I was, too.

We had a marvelous time. It was enchanting to witness moms dancing and singing with their daughters. The smiling, the laughing. Empowering to feel the connection with others. And to top it all off, it was a magnificent night. Dazzling.

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What complicated things for me was the amount of judgment that I took in. I heard and saw women (both young and old) one-upping, dissing anything from clothes to dance moves, and condemning the behavior of others.

This is so normal. And it is so wretched.

In my heart, I believe one of the biggest things keeping women down is each other. We are truly capable of amazing, brilliant accomplishments. Yet, we stomp on each other until our fire goes out; until the spark that makes us unique is covered up and hidden so that it can’t be chastised by others.

In a group of women, I am quiet. I am so reserved and hidden. There are a few groups where I feel like I can entirely be me. And often even then I wonder what is said about me between them when I am not present. And this has everything to do with past experience. Ugh.

More than twenty years ago, I decided that I wanted to change the behavior I witnessed between women; the critical judgment of appearance as we look one another up and down when we first set eyes on one another. Not necessary. The ease of passing a snarky comment about how another girl is dressed or behaving. Instead of prepping for disdain when I looked at or spoke to a woman, I always wanted to have a compliment ready. I wanted to build my sisters up because I felt so beaten down. I was exhausted, and I wasn’t even 20 yet.

I still have a friend that teases me about how we met. I saw her leaving class; we had History 17A&B together in college. She was magnetic even then. People were drawn to her. She was always in a group in and out of class. But even the best of us have bad days. We were leaving class one afternoon, and she looked so sad. She was alone, and her movements seemed heavy and deliberate. Every fiber of my being wanted to cheer her up. The compliment I had ready spilled from my mouth. “I really love your hair!” I said as I jogged to catch her. I don’t even remember her exact words, but I remember the smile. I remember the change in her step after I said it. She always tells people I was hitting on her; that’s her story of how we met.

But, why can’t we offer praise instead of judgment? Why does judgment so easily trickle off our tongues? Why does criticism slide so effortlessly from our lips?

Compassion

When I was little my mom used to play this game with us. We would be sitting on the beach and be bored or eating in a restaurant and get restless, and she would pick people out and ask us to tell her their story. What made them happy? What made them sad? What were they doing there? Why? How did they get there? What was their family like? Where did they live? She would ask us how we got to a specific conclusion and would even offer alternatives if we had missed something or not taken some other reason into consideration.

There are so many times in my interaction with people I try to figure out their story. This game my mom had us play became something that helped me to work and always find a way to better understand what people might be feeling or needing from experience.

When I see a mom with a child who is misbehaving; I don’t pass judgment on her parenting – I offer her praise for how well she is coping at that moment; because – and this is IMPORTANT (yes, I am using preachy capital letters at you) what happened around that moment – I don’t know; and you don’t either. But I can imagine. I am a mom of four and have carried screaming children out of stores, I was also a kid, and there are several stories of my epic fits. I empathize with that poor mom the way I would with my own mother. The way I would want someone to sympathize with me. We don’t know the backdrop of what caused a particular moment to become a reality; we only have that one snippet. One small piece of someone else’s life and it isn’t ours to judge.

Granted, I am not saying that we give everyone a pass. What I am saying is trying to understand before you pass judgment on another human should be a more common practice. Or maybe just merely understand. And then perhaps just as simple, offer compassion instead.

And more importantly; we can’t help someone we are rooting against. If we are rooting against them, we want them to fail. If we are rooting against them, then we are placing that negative energy on another and giving more negative energy life. We can only help; when we are rooting for; when we are the cheerleaders of others. So we have to offer compassion in the place of our judgment to help others heal and find another way. And maybe we should put the “us and them” language aside, too. Perhaps if we are rooting for one another, we are rooting for everyone all at once. And maybe that makes this world more livable, too.

Believe me, I am not void of passing judgment. And boy oh boy can I hold a grudge. But I remind myself that I need to release myself from the guilt of passing judgment and that I can do better next time. So, I get ready to have a compliment on hand and give that instead of judgment. I work hard not to partake in the negative talk that happens around me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t caught myself doing it, but I work to remove myself from these situations.

How you may ask? I work tirelessly to lift up others instead.

Seriously, you will find me in the grocery store, at Target, at an event, giving compliments to complete strangers. And I mean every word. It is essential to speak the truth in your compliments, too. You have to believe it. People see through bullshit compliments pretty easily. Just saying.

It is essential to speak the truth in your compliments, too. You have to believe it. People see through bullshit compliments pretty easily.

It is so worth the work! To see a smile and a difference in the step of another human because you helped to remind them of their strengths, is beyond powerful. It is like witnessing love in motion. It is spell-binding. Try it. I know it will make you both feel better. And then if you have a daughter or son, teach them this little trick, too. What a world we could live in if we all exchanged praise instead of judgment. We are going to slip up, we are human, we are built to make mistakes, but if we speak with compassion more often than judgment we are better off all the way around.

Peace and love,

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Life out loud

Life out loud

“You need to forget what society has told you about life and expectations, and don’t let anybody make you pretend. You are enough, just the way you are…”

                                                                                                        – Maddie Dawson

I think the majority of us probably spend too much time in our heads; wrapped up in our own lives. The magic starts to happen outside of ourselves. It’s hard to believe sometimes because pain is out there, too. But it’s true. Truer than true.

You have to be brave to show up as you are without a mask and to open your whole self up to the world and be damned what comes flinging back at you. That is not an easy feat, nor for the faint of heart. But it is required to live life out loud. It is just the way it is.

Michelle Murnin Paulson (3)

Even though it can be scary and the armor feels necessary it is best if we keep going out without it. It is best if we keep showing up as ourselves; brave and open. You will find your people, and you will find the people who aren’t yours. Keep and love your people and let the others ones go. It is okay. If they are meant to be, they will come back.

We can get easily discouraged, too. Get wounded and retreat. Lick our wounds and decide the world is just much too much to be out in it without any armor to shield our soft and easily pierce-able hearts. Some people stay in that place of retreat for the rest of their lives; they get so wounded. They start to believe they are damaged. That isn’t true. No one is so injured they can’t find some healing. Anything is possible. That is true, too. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have seen a mama bury her baby and then rise again. I have seen that happen more often than I ever wanted. I have seen heartbreak up close. Heartbreak so big that it starts to swallow you up with it and then somehow on a day down the road the same heartbreak finds laughter. Laughter that burns so bright it catches everyone within earshot and lifts them up with it.

Healing is hard. Healing is forever work, and sometimes we need rest from healing, and we get so cozy and comfortable we forget we need to go back to that healing work. When we forget that we should keep up that healing work; the universe gets involved.

It really can stick its ugly head into things and make a great big mess, and it is almost impossible sometimes to go clean it up after you have been so cozy and relaxed in the pleasant little rut you had carved out for yourself. So sometimes, people don’t clean anything up. They just leave that mess and live there because they already have had just about enough; thank you very much. So they sit right there and stay in that mess. They learn to cope and survive in that clutter and debris until they just can’t see it anymore.

And sometimes no matter where you might be or what mess you might have left lying around just a little too long; you wake up and decide today is the day, and you get right back to the work of healing. It feels so good to stretch your legs finally and climb out of that rut that you are so enamored with the way the world looks you don’t mind the healing work at first. It is okay that it is hard. Then one day, BAM! It is like the cycle is right back where you started and you remember how hard this thing called life can be. It makes you want to give up right then and there. And maybe you do, just for a little bit. It is okay to take a rest after all. But after a few days or weeks you pick yourself right back up and dust yourself off and start out again. Sometimes rest clears our vision just a bit and we can keep at it a little bit longer.

Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

You know, one thing that I have figured out so far is that life is going to happen however and whenever it wants no matter what we do. The best thing is to try again; even if we fall, even if we get comfortable, even if we are knocked down by the big old universe because we weren’t paying attention. The best thing to do is to keep at the healing work and keep unlearning and learning and re-learning what works best for us at the moment.

Copy of Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

Some things are seasonal and temporary, and others are built to last through thick and thin; through ugly crying and even some yelling; those things may even take a break, but they never really leave us because they were built to last after all.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

And most importantly, don’t forget to love yourself along the way. A great deal of us forget that part. We love our people fierce and well, but then we stop one day and realize we forgot our own hearts somewhere along the way. Remember that taking care of yourself helps you take care of those you love, too. Hearts are resilient creatures; once they are remembered they seem to find a way to start to refresh themselves even if we fight it.

Live out loud. It is worth every second. Even when you are lonely and lost. Even when you don’t think you can for one more second. Even if you have stopped for a while; go back again and be loud, be you. In the end, it leaves your life fuller and more well-rounded. It strips away the fear and unnecessary and what is left overfills every second of every space across all of your time here and you will look around on the good days and know that you are and have always been right where you need to be. And you will look around on the bad days, and you will know you have always been right where you needed to be.

Today is the day. Set your armor down and try again or keep plugging away or lift your head a bit to see if you can look out of the rut you might have curled and cozied into. Today is the day to be you out loud for the world to see. Let love lead your heart and guide your feet, and you will always know the way.

Until next time,

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Shit just got real – lessons from afourytale

Shit just got real – lessons from afourytale

“Maybe in order to understand mankind we have to look at that word itself. MANKIND. Basically, it’s made up of two separate words mank and ind. What do these words mean? It’s a mystery and that’s why so is mankind.”
– Jack Handey

I am no Jack Handey, but sometimes I sure feel like I am. When your world is topsy turvy with no end in sight sometimes you just have to say random things and laugh.

At our house shit is for real right now. I started my own business (who would have ever guessed), Brian is looking for a job while managing a shitload (just a fair warning there is going to be a lot of ‘shit-talking’ in this blog post) of family stuff, and the kids and I have had some minor health hiccups. The good news about some of that is that my health mystery has been solved and can be resolved with surgery, but seriously don’t even ask because I still can’t even talk about it yet.

Don’t get me wrong our lives are fabulous, and everything will be okay (mostly first world problems) but, some days I wish I was still a carefree kid who could just wake up and watch cartoons on Saturday morning. And in case you are wondering what all this crapola is teaching me, I have put together a few lessons to sum up the events of the past few months.

1. Buy the Swimsuit
I know weird way to start, however, buy the swimsuit. Buy it, even if you don’t like your body in it. Play with your kids; jump in the water. Try not to care what anyone else thinks. Don’t ask me how; I am nowhere near an expert. I have just bought the swimsuit. Two in fact that are still waiting to be tried on. I will get back to you on how that progresses. What I do know is this life is what we make it and we can either sit on the sidelines or jump in. Jumping in is way more fun and leaves you with more memories and stories to tell. Ed Sheeran’s right, “Just re-remember life is more than fittin’ in your jeans.”

2.  Take the leap
I am not saying it will be easy or that shit won’t go wrong – it can and will go wrong – inevitable consequence of life, but leap anyway. Living outside your comfort zone and trying something you have always wanted to do is so much easier to live with, than regret. Trust me; I have been on both sides of the coin.

3. Reach out
Choose connection over discomfort and loneliness. I have had this friend for just about twenty years, and we have had our ups and downs, yet every single time I pick up the phone and reach out to her it changes my life. She is always there. She always knows the right thing to say. We find our way to common ground and I thank GOD for her EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. When we are together, I feel like I have the winning lifeline on Who Wants to be a Millionaire (the Regis Philbin version because I liked an aged to perfection version of things in this middle season of my life). So pick up the phone, say the words you have meant to say, just do it. You’re welcome.

4. You are a good parent
If you are doing the best you can to provide a safe environment and raise your children to be good citizens you are likely a good parent. If you are trying your best and all the while wondering if you are doing it right, then you are likely a good parent.

But knowing if you are a good parent can be tricky. Like when you have to wade neck-deep into your teen’s phone and read their text messages so you know what they are up to and you find things that cut straight to your soul; you might forget that you are a good parent. When you reprimand your children and take devices away, and they become little, smart-alecky tyrants and say things like, “You are the worst mom ever!” or “I want a new mom.” You might forget you are a great parent, but hang in there, you are! Or sometimes when your child makes less than stellar decisions, you have to remember it is just them finding their way and learning about life. I mean we all made mistakes at one point. Yes, you did. Seriously, get over it; you totally did.

Even though with parenting that is when shit got real and still gets real, it is worth it. We get some glimpses along the way of how it might turn out, but as half of my kids are in teenage-dom I am figuring I will see the fruits of my labor somewhere in 2030. I think I can wait, but just in case you see me on a day after I may have had to monitor my kids’ social media accounts and text messages and I seem near desperate can you remind me that I am a good parent?

I know, I know as Gloria Gaynor said, “I will survive.” I may end up with a new eye twitch, but I will survive. And don’t you moms out there even get me started on the driving or the moving out because I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW. One thing at a time, people, one thing at a time.

5. Show up
When your loved ones are struggling, and there is nothing that you can really do to help, even though it might be tough, you just need to show up. Text, call, write, bring dinner, sit quietly, just show up. It is hard, and you may feel lame, but they need you. Even if they tell you to go away after you get there, it is okay, leave, but go in the first place. I promise in the long run, showing up however you are, saying whatever you can, will make a difference.

6. You are what you love
Kay, I am going to end on a serious note, but are you really that shocked?

This lesson is sticking with me a lot lately; you are what you love. You can reshape your life with this lesson.

  • how you spend your time
  • how you treat other people
  • how you treat yourself
  • who you spend your time with
  • the risks you open yourself up to

What do you love?

I am trying to be more of what I love –

  • humorous
  • open
  • warm
  • carefree
  • peaceful
  • authentic
  • nonjudgemental
  • But guys can I just say trying not to love tacos is hard. I mean really, really hard. Especially, when you are raising children and the only thing that can make you feel better after they have driven you bat-shit crazy is a taco. Remember this blog doesn’t need others to pass judgment – see line above on you are what you love.
  • Also, Chai Lattes will not let me break up with them. So I think I am going to have to love running again and that is also really, really hard because my couch loves me so much, unconditionally even.

So, shit gets real for everyone, but I know we got this because if I can get through this life; I know you can, too. So get in the water, take the leap, phone a friend, remember you are a good parent, show up for others and be what you love or have a taco whatever works.

Until next time,
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