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.

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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.

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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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Parenting: My truth

Parenting: My truth

** Special note: I write this with the intent and experience of my parenting journey. In no way is it meant to be hurtful to those families who have had severe and devastating struggles. Those of my friends that have endured this, my heart goes out to you all. Each and everyone. I know the names of all of your babies. I say them every day. I know how your heart hurts and that life will never be the same. This essay is genuinely written from only my perspective. It is just a simplified version of what I am going through with no intent to demean or diminish other people’s experiences.**

People mean well when they tell their harrowing labor stories, or crazy parenting moments, or offer their warnings about parenting teenagers, or offer advice and layout the total cost of raising a child. I remember all the breastfeeding, diaper changing, labor giving, toddler disciplining, Happiest Baby on the Block sharing, and all it did was exhaust me. Mostly made me feel pretty inadequate as a parent. So I stopped paying attention to what other people were doing, followed my gut instincts and did the best I could. That is what I am still doing. Now, people keep telling me parenting teens is the hardest. They mean well, I get it. But, just like the advice in the earlier years, I don’t think I am going to buy into it.

Before I had children, everyone would tell me you don’t know what you are getting into; your life is going to be so different. You are never ready for what is going to happen. When I held my son in my arms for the first time, my whole body shifted into mom mode. I had waited my entire life for that moment. Everything before was just practicing for that moment. Was I scared? Of course. I mean, duh. Brian and I got home looked at each other and looked at the helpless little human in my arms and knew we were going to have to wing it. We knew it was going to be harder than anything we had ever done before and we knew there wasn’t a rule book or guide that was tailored to us.

Regardless of whatever outside advice or stories I heard from other novice or experienced mothers, from day one with my babies, somewhere in me, I knew I could do it, and I knew I would know best, no matter what. Of course, it was scary, and I worry through every single step.

I remember being terrified they would stop breathing when I wasn’t looking or that they were going to have some severe food allergy, or illness, or God forbid, based on every book known to man, they would be less than in every way because they were formula fed. I worried about their psyche since I rocked them to sleep every single night and did not believe in letting them cry it out. Come on; there is enough crying in life already. But most of all, I loved being a mom to my babies. They way they smelled after a bath, the rocking to sleep, watching milestones be reached, hearing them laugh for the first time. Not sleeping was rough, but it was also so sacred and special to have those moments in the silence with them.

When they survived infancy, walking became the next terrifying event. There are stairs everywhere people. Everything seemed to have sharp corners, and my goodness floor tile is so freaking hard. Each place became an obstacle course of sharp edges, hard surfaces, and steep falls. But it was also miraculous to watch them take those first steps; to see the wonder on their faces as they were able to start exploring the world at their own pace.

After we survived walking – and running; I won’t even go there – with just a few bumps and bruises it was play-dates at the park. I know, I know those sound fun, but when the kids were little toddlers, my heart was in constant panic mode. Some moron believed it was a good idea that at the tippy, tippy top of the play structure next to the very best tube slide there needed to be an opening with a 20-foot drop. I mean who in HOLY HELL designs these things?! Regardless of the pitfalls and obstacle courses of doom; parenting a toddler was way more than amazing. The talking, the stories, the imaginative play, the silly and hilarious things that would come out of their mouths. Watching each one develop their personality, sense of style and interpret the world around them.

Then it’s preschool and the agony of leaving your child and then watching like a stalker behind two-way glass wondering why the hell they have to go to preschool anyway. I mean really. And it was hard to send them off to preschool because I enjoyed being around them; I hated missing anything about their life.

After that is kindergarten. There are no two-way windows there. You are left to leave and wonder what the heck is going on in there. Thank goodness you can volunteer. But still, you are left wondering: Is the playground safe? How good are the background checks? What kind of kids are in there? So many emotions. How can we possibly survive all the feelings – friendships happening or not, learning and the rate at which it is happening; learning disabilities, differences, and how are we going to survive 6 hours without our baby? Because I loved being with them. Teaching them numbers, the alphabet, counting, reading books and exploring the world with them.

But while you are worrying about all of that they somehow make their entire way through infancy, toddler-hood, pre-school, and elementary school.  Then middle school happens. You have to watch as your child walks off into that new territory all by themselves because “No one else’s mom is walking them on campus!” And at this place, there are kids holding hands, kissing, youtube-ing, social media-ing, conducting unsupervised google searches – and if you are monitoring all of this as best you can as a parent and limiting it you also are now so uncool and the worst parent that ever lived! Or at least your kid thinks so. Plus, when you monitor the damn text messages you always find something you wish you hadn’t. It is not a win-win, ever.

I am sure this continues through high school and adulthood. We will never stop worrying. Believe me; we just went to the first high school rally preparing for next year, and the fears keep growing. Tumbling into my mind before I can stop them. Plus my dear husband thinks it’s reassuring for me to know that we won’t always like how our kids behave. It never makes me feel better hearing that.

From the beginning, I think we are learning to let go. Learning how to navigate a world where we want our children to grow and thrive, but still be shielded just enough to have a happy childhood.

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So far parenting a teen has been just as rewarding and wonderous as parenting an infant or a toddler. Sure, I don’t get cuddles and conversations may veer into topics including sex, drugs, and violence in our world, but watching my children grow into courteous, educated, friendly, intelligent, curious youth with great ideas about how to contribute to their communities is beyond anything I ever imagined. We discuss novels, politics, rules, family dynamics, and I get a front row seat to watch them fly. Giving them room to grow is hard; I may have had some helicopter tendencies with my first one, but I think we all do. Having three more kids easily cured that. Each step they took away from me, to explore the world was preparing me to help give them that room to grow and thrive. It is terrifying at times, but our relationships are healthy and meaningful. I trust them. They have given me every reason to.

I know parenting is really about growing children into amazing adults – at least that is our goal. We are truly learning to let go from day one. But just because we are teaching them to fly doesn’t mean that one stage is harder than the next or that they grow entirely away from us; it is just the way things are. Being a mom is still my most treasured gift regardless of the stage. That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

 

It is time to talk Mr. President

It is time to talk Mr. President

This blog is not a place where I have been political. I try to keep that clear of this space; because everyone has a right to their beliefs and truly I am not a fan of starting internet conversations about politics. It gets nasty quick. I steer clear of that behavior as well. But I can no longer hold my tongue on this issue. And it is time to have civil conversations outside of our political boundaries. We as a nation, have a compound problem when it comes to mass shootings, but we need to rise together to make a stand and start stripping away at each of the issues at hand and make a difference, and we need help from the top. We do need to be there for one another and help each other heal, but it is way past time to only hope and pray. It is time to truly make this a pressing, front of the line issue in every home. I know some of you already have and I thank you for leading the way. I am here with you now, out loud, in the open. We need to make this stop.

After listening to the president speak about the horrific event in Florida yesterday, I wanted to write him a letter. (To view his speech click here). Something inside me felt this was the best place to start with my response to what happened yesterday and how I think we need to move forward in handling it.

And my letter to the President would say…

Dear Mr. President,

Today I write this letter with a heavy heart. I know you are also coping with the tragedy of yesterday’s events in Parkland, Florida.

Sir, I am a patriot, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother of four, who cares deeply about her local community and country. At fourteen, I followed politics religiously and Meet the Press was my favorite weekly program. I would meet anyone head on to talk about almost every issue regarding American Politics. I couldn’t wait to vote. I knew that my one vote mattered and could change the world. Sadly, though I am no longer the idealist I once was. Soon after graduating college and becoming a third-grade teacher the world and how it worked left me a bit jaded and disillusioned. When my oldest son was two and could understand the news; I turned it off permanently.

But, today, sir, I am writing you with my idealist’s heart. Respectfully, sir, we have a problem. It is a compound problem with no easy solution, and I know that many of us have begun to be a part of that solution, but we need your help. We have had enough mass shootings. These need to stop. I know you may not be able to stop them altogether; I am not naive. But sir, if you are the man of action that you say you are, then I know you can make a plea and lead legislators and policymakers to take swift action.

I am a patriot, who is for responsible gun ownership, but our gun legislation is too lenient when a few people can cause such earth-shattering devastation. We need to feel safe in a movie theater, university, church, at work and our children need to feel safe at school. I heard you tell our children, “you were never alone, and you never will be.” Sir, I know you mean those words, so I implore you to stand beside them and start to pull together our legislators and create a campaign that truly starts to address how we are going to handle mental health and gun control in our country. Sir, you asked the children to “answer cruelty with kindness.” Can you please lead the way?

I think there are some issues we can table for a moment; like immigration, and pull some of those resources front and center for our nation’s children. We have no future if we don’t protect our children. We need to put children ahead of special interest groups and the dollars they contribute. We need to put political party lines aside and stand united against the issue of mass shootings and find ways to help prevent them.

Mr. President, I am for you. See I believe even if we disagree and even if I feel disappointed by your politics and behavior that the best way for our country to move forward is to believe in you and think that you can indeed make a difference. We need you, sir. We need you to call for reform. We need you to make this a high priority. We need you to address mental health. We need you to look carefully at gun control. We need you to lead the way in answering cruelty with kindness. Simply put, we need you.

We have had over 1,000 people killed in mass shootings in America and the occurrences of these horrific events are increasing. The majority of the weapons were obtained legally, and most of the perpetrators had multiple weapons. One had 24 weapons. Who needs 24 weapons? The Second Amendment was not written to protect that; there is no reason for that kind of arsenal. I am not saying we need to take away guns, but when airport security is more rigid and uncomfortable than purchasing a weapon, we have a problem.

It is also essential that we address mental health. I know that highly educated people have been studying these shootings for years. We have to have some knowledge that can better help us prevent these. The knowledge our country can assemble and distribute with your actions behind it is sure to make a difference.

When my children thank our first responders and soldiers for their service, I know America is exceptional. After these events, the way Americans come together to heal, I know America is great. I am not worried about making America great again; it already is. I am concerned about making America safer. I am concerned about our children. I am a mother first, and I do not believe there is such a thing as other people’s children. I think we’re in this together and we must find a solution to the issues that need to be addressed so that we can help all the children and continue America’s greatness.

You were right when you said, “We must take a stand that makes a difference.” I am taking that stand every day here on the front lines. I am teaching my children to listen. I am teaching my children how to be safe. I am raising them the best that I can and using all available resources at my disposal. I am helping the children in our community and regularly try to make a huge effort to help those at promise youth in my community. Unfortunately, I feel that I am not appropriately equipped for what I am up against. I need your help. We need your help. Please make this a priority. Put the best people on it. Use our best resources. Let’s make a stand that makes a difference. I have a dear friend that always says, “Don’t just be sorry, be active.” She is very wise, and also right. We lost beautiful lives yesterday. We have lost so many beautiful lives. So many families are forever changed. It is time not only to be sorry and but to be active.

Sincerely,

Michelle

Please check out this article from the Washington Post written in November of last year. It is powerful.

CNN outlines some of the most deadly events in U.S. History in this article here. This list is way too long.

Want a way to help make a difference – check out Moms Demand Action here or Everytown here.

I love Brene Brown’s post about this – you can read it here.

Next level

Next level

It is 11:11 when I look at the clock. It is exactly then when I think to myself this live wire energy that is coursing through me isn’t bad after all. It isn’t something I need to learn how to stop or control. Instead I need to learn how to just be with this new wave of energy in me.

It is hard to pinpoint what unlocked it; so much has happened at once; all my dreams coming to fruition. Making solid friendships, starting my business, speaking my mind without guilt, truly finding the places I belong. I am not sure if all or one of those things opened up a part of me I haven’t felt since I was a nine-year-old little girl, but I have come undone in an empowering new way and all that runs through my mind is Will.i.am saying, “We on some next level shit.”

For the last several months, I have tried to stop this excess energy running through me. Tried to calm and quiet it. My stomach has the same anxious topsy-turvy feeling it had when I was a kid on Christmas morning. My heart feels like it is going to jump right out of my chest, flop around like a fish and then just take off like a jet-propelled rocket. Every nerve ending in my fingers is tingling with electricity and I am pretty sure my blood is coursing with rapid strength through every vein and artery in my body.

Seeing the time on the clock at 11:11, I knew this was something positive and strong that I just had to lean into instead of try to change or control. 11:11 can have many different meanings, but ultimately to me it means that the Universe is with you. Pay attention to what is happening around you and embrace that you are exactly where you need to be in this moment and that all you wish and envision for yourself is possible.

This can be a difficult to accept. Thinking that you can have and ask for anything your heart desires is sometimes a scary thought. It has been for me most of my life; but living in the RIGHT NOW (read more about that here if you missed that post) I have come to accept that what I believe is absolutely possible. We all have the power to manifest our own desires into our lives; we are built for joy; meant for joy.

So, as I take off into the second quarter of running my own business, and having my first seminar (Want to come? You can get tickets here.) and living a life with more joy and self-care I am embracing the excitement for what is to come.

Feeling like my young self is good news to my forty-year old body. This is the year to embrace the excitement and all that is good in this life, each and every moment. Life is good, abundance is everywhere and anything is possible. And as I conjure up my inner Black Eyed Pea,

“We on some next level shit
Futuristic musically
Power will full with energy
From the soul we sonically
Sending positivity
Crossed the globe, and seven seas
Take care our families
Rocking shows makin’ cheese
I’mma be out with my peas
Living life, feeling free
That’s how it’s supposed to be
Come join my festivities
Celebrate like I’mma be”

Wishing you happiness, abundance and opportunity this day and every day and that you “celebrate like I’mma be”,

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The feather and the bird

The feather and the bird

A Thursday night several months ago, I had a session with a client. Her father, who was in spirit, stepped forward to share messages with her. During the session, he showed me a brown and white feather. It was rather large; about 12 inches in length and while there was white rippling though it the majority of the feather was a deep brown like worn leather.

He told me that this feather was a sign he gave his daughter to let her know that he was with her. My ego butted in since I had never seen a feather like this before; I wasn’t sure if they were real, and told her I wasn’t sure about the validity of this message, but that is what her dad was showing me. She said it made perfect sense she saw them all the time. Not that I said this out loud, but I didn’t really believe it, I hadn’t ever seen anything like that. The reading continued on as they do, but I still held onto the fact that I hadn’t ever seen a feather like that before.

The next day we left on a camping trip and that Saturday morning my husband and I took a walk on the beach as my aunt and uncle were with us and agreed to watch the kids. I was excited! It was like a little mini date; with four kids those are hard to come by.

As I was walking, each step I took I saw one of the feathers that the father had shown me during the reading that Thursday night.

I was in awe.

I saw one every few steps. Over and over again I was shown this feather.

Now, I am going to digress for a second. My husband was with me and he has never seen me do a reading and he still believes in coincidence. I have learned that there are no coincidences. Each event happens on purpose and with purpose. And of course, like any good wife I could not resist to take this opportunity to let him on what I thought was a message from spirit straight to me. Obviously to remind me not to doubt their messages and to keep my ego quiet.

I turn to him and say, “Can you believe this? Look at these feathers. These are the feathers I was telling you about. I have never seen them before and now there are right in front of me with each step I take.”

“We are at the beach and there are a lot of birds here. There are going to be feathers everywhere.” He answers with the tone that sounds just like an eye roll.

As we pass another one, I speak up again.

“Right in front of my foot and nowhere to each side? Really? What will it take for you to believe this isn’t a coincidence?” Exasperation saturating each word.

“There would have to be a big, dead, brown bird right in front of me to believe that.” He says with a laugh.

We continued down the beach and there were more feathers. I was disappointed I had left my camera back at the trailer and could not take any photos, but I have also learned that is how miracles work; we often have to believe without proof. After looking at the tide pools for a bit we turned back.

We began to follow our exact footprints back the way we came. There are no other people on the beach that day since it is pretty overcast and dreary. It is late fall after all.

As we are walking, I start to see a large mass ahead of us. As we near closer to the mass we notice it is in fact an animal. As we come upon it we are able to decipher exactly what it is.

A big, dead, brown bird.

Yep, a big, dead, brown bird and it is right next to our footprints. It was not there on the way out. I give my husband a look and take a mental note not to leave my phone behind anymore. Man, I wish I had a picture of this! I know, I know, I tell spirit…I am not supposed to have to prove these things. I am just supposed to accept them as they come.

“That is a dead bird,” he says.

“Don’t look at me. That bird’s life is on you.” I say.

He walks over to the bird and apologizes.

“Now do you believe there are no coincidences?” I ask.

“I will give you a 60/40 chance on that one.” He answers as any good husband would, but I can tell this one shook him a bit more than that.

You ask and you shall receive. Spirit messages are everywhere and the more you pay attention; the more you are open to them, the more they reign down on you with abundance. Even when it is a big, dead, brown bird.

Be careful what you ask for…

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Mama Bear

Mama Bear

Despite my hopeful nature, fear must have taken root in my heart somewhere in the beginning of motherhood or maybe that is just what happens to moms; we steal our hearts and strengthen them because we know the world can hurt those most precious to us without any warning. Going worst case scenario becomes an easy leap to take. Our toughened, ready for the worst hearts keep us on edge and ready to protect our sacred children; our most blessed gift at any cost.

My kids; all kids; face so many pressures. Childhood is no longer the breeze of playing kick the can in the street until dark.

I know our family has more to be grateful for than not. Unfortunately, no one is unscathed in this life. Suffering is heavy and universal.

Maybe it is the time of year; or maybe it is the shift from two jobs to one, but my awareness of my children seems to be in laser focus.

I have been watching my littles closely lately. Their struggles and hurts rippling through my own heart. One in particular is on my mind a great deal. He has Tourette’s; I have written about it before. I don’t feel right telling his side of the story or giving too much information here. However, I think voicing my side might heal me a bit; help me a bit.

As I watch him shake and hear his vocal tic I want to help. The recent increase in frequency isn’t slowing down. I haven’t seen him like this in years. It hurts my heart and I try to have open conversation, but anything I bring up lately just makes it worse. I don’t know how to help him without drawing attention to the tics. I am trying to ignore it; yet for some reason it is proving difficult. I wonder if it is bothering him at school. I know it is in his file and he doesn’t want me stepping in at school yet. It just hurts my heart to see his body jolt and jerk against his wishes.

I am grateful for his positive attitude, caring friends and his health. It doesn’t erase the hurt I feel though. I still worry that it bothers him; I still want to give him resources and options and that seems to be the last thing he wants. And I know that is his right and so I must wait on the sidelines as he makes the plays until he asks for my assistance.

I know it is just best to be a safe place to land and for weeks I have not spoken a word about it to him or anyone else. He will come to me if he needs me. The door is open and he knows it. So instead, I will have faith he is really unbothered and comfortable. To know he is confident and at ease is what is most important after all.

With four they each have their struggles. As I tucked in one of my youngest, he started to cry. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that kids make fun of him. Ah, the tale as old as time. And as I calmed him this Mama knew it would not be the last time we faced this challenge. Such is the way of the world. Hopefully, I help build his confidence enough the taunts from others fall at his feet instead of pierce his heart, for that is all we can do. I have to be the soft place to land, the cheerleader on the sideline.

Mistakes come on my end, too. Sometimes they call you in for a hurt or a scrape and in an effort to make them tough, you nurture too little. The balance between that becomes difficult as they get older. Kissing a bumped knee was easy, now too much or too little attention is harder to navigate with my pre-teen.

Mothering is not for the faint of heart. But as I tell my kids, I am doing the best I can and the therapy you may eventually need from my mistakes is on me.

From one mama bear to the next, do the best you can, hold on tight, keep those cheers from the sidelines coming and strengthen your patience because the older they get the harder this parenting gig becomes, richer and more rewarding for sure, but a whole slew of variables make it more nerve racking and moving from front and center in their lives to the side is tougher than you expect.

A Seat at the Table

A Seat at the Table

The beginning of the year heralds not only the start of the next year, but also my birthday. Each New Year brings me to a nostalgic place full of reflection. For the last 4 and a half years I have been setting goals to become the best version of myself.

It really all began, ten years ago with a silly chain questionnaire and two honest responses. These responses haunted me. The question was would you be friends with yourself. I answered no. It was honest and true. I didn’t like myself; I had never and even though I was included in this chain with many of my friends at the time I felt more alone than ever.

The second response came from a friend. It took my breath away. The question was what is your biggest pet peeve and her answer was people with self-pity. I remember thinking she was talking about me as I read that response. Of course she wasn’t; but self-centered goes with self-pity and any reason to hate myself more was always welcome.

At first I didn’t know what do about it except let those honest answers to silly questions gnaw at me. Life kept me busy, twins came, we moved, but then as the dust settled I was faced once again with my low self-worth.

If I had to describe myself to others at that time I would have said; I am a lost and wayward soul just like anyone else. I do the best I can in each next moment, but I am mostly empty when I should feel so full.

I didn’t like that description, but I knew it was within my power to change it.

I made a decision to find out who I was and to be myself out loud. I was tired of hiding and hating myself. Thus this blog was born. It led me to open up every inch of my soul and pour it out.

Putting my heart into action became a practice; I did random acts of kindness on my birthday. Two years in a row I spent the day delivering gifts to others on my birthday because it was what I wanted to do more than anything else.Holiday Cheer was born.

It led me to tell the world about my ability to speak with spirit and my business was born. This need to be who I was out loud led me to quiet the voices that worked against me in my own head. Therapy, anti-depressants, self-loathing, fitness, healing and then the weight gain…I lived it all out loud here.

As my birthday and this New Year comes round again, I found myself again at square one. Silly after all this growth to somehow feel at the end of last year that I was back at the start.

I felt as if I was hiding more than showing up. That I was retreating and giving up more than finding the next step forward. And those honest answers to silly questions rose to haunt me once again. But this time there was an added haunt…I had someone recently tell me, “Why do you have to be such an overachiever?”

It stung. I wasn’t sure why exactly, but I think because it is true. This need to over do all the things; this force that if I am not doing it all then it is not enough always propelling me forward.

I am tired and unfortunately my health is taking the toll of my need to do all the things. My body physically can’t handle it any more.

As I sat down to make goals for this year; I found myself with writer’s block and it wasn’t the first time – I have several blogs still in my drafts folder because I couldn’t find my own voice enough to finish them.

I am tired of being sad when I should be happy. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of not showing up completely. I am just plain tired…

The answer was simple.

It was right in front of my face, but I just couldn’t see it. I looked up from my computer to the goal sheet from 2017 that still hung on my cork board. The beautiful chevron white gold tack gleaming like a beacon. Even though there were only 4 goals; there were sub-goals below detailing each one. A total of 20 goals to complete for 2017. Not all of them simple. While some of them were completed; it hit me that no wonder I always feel overwhelmed. No wonder the simple always seems so hard. Busy had become my default; filling time meant I wasn’t being still or quiet. I was hiding all over again; but this time just behind doing things. Adding things to a list; crossing them off only to add more.

Be still and know that I am God

I started to get still and quiet. I started to meditate again and think about the thing I most wanted in life. It was simple. I want to be present. I want to live. The past is the past and there is nothing I can do about that and the future is almost certainly out of my control, the only real thing is RIGHT NOW.

When I sat still and quiet and brought into view the RIGHT NOW; I envisioned a table.

My table was full. My family all in their chairs. Abundance overflowing on the table. Beauty, sustenance, love, friendship, all surrounded by green hills and the ocean. I could hear laughter and feel growth and success, but something seemed off. One chair at the table was empty. I looked around and everyone that should be there was there. Who was missing?

My family was there. Friends; check. Jesus; check. All my important people and beliefs were all accounted for. “Why is one chair empty?” I thought.

It was then that I realized I was witnessing all of this and seeing all the people there. My viewpoint was not one looking across the table but from above. I was not seated at the table. I was the one missing from my own life.

Ah, I was hiding in the busy-ness and not showing up for the best part; the RIGHT NOW. I was missing from my own life. My seat was empty.

To actually take a seat; I had to figure out why I had left it in the first place. Why was I really hiding?

Stupid, silly, life-eating shame. My weight kept me from showing up. The fact that I have a job with negative connotations; one that God may even dislike, kept me from showing up. I cringe when someone asks what I do for a living.

On top of that, life was happening so fast the mom guilt of not being present for my kids was eating me alive. What would my kids remember about me? Would they just remember that I took them here and there and nothing of substance? That I was always too busy?

So, this year as I reach my fourth decade; I choose to take that seat back. I want to be in the RIGHT NOW. How do I do that?

It all became clear at a funeral the other night. My wonderful, beautiful friend stood and spoke about her father. He had told her at the end that he was confused why everyone thought life was so hard. It is easy he told her; you just have to go out and love others. That was the secret to it. There was nothing hard about it at all. My heart burst open. I can do that. But there is more than loving others; that I have figured out. My chair was empty because I wasn’t loving myself enough. I needed to love everyone; me included.

Just as the day before, I had chosen to be grateful instead of begrudgingly taking down the ornaments from the tree as in years past; I was grateful I had a tree and ornaments to take down. I was grateful for each memory that came with each ornament. I was thankful that I had a home and a family and memories that surrounded me as I carefully put away Christmas back into its boxes until next year. I have woken each day grateful for another moment. And that is what fills my heart each second. I am grateful for the RIGHT NOW. While I am grateful for everything that also means, I have to be grateful I am me. To treat myself with love and grace.

The only goal for this year is that I live in the RIGHT NOW with no shame.

This year I am going to tell myself it is okay.

It is okay…

to feel lonely sometimes

to be scared

to be nervous

to try new things

to decide not to try new things

to live in the RIGHT NOW

to let the past go

to let the future be what it will be

to hide when I need to

to show up

to believe I am meant for great things

to believe I am worthy, as I am, in the RIGHT NOW

to use my armor when I need it

to live outside the lines

to believe in a Jesus that guides me through what I do every day; even speaking to spirit. In fact, to believe in a Jesus that knows I am doing the right thing.

to believe in miracles and magic

to laugh, live and love

to always take my seat at the table

to be my own advocate

I was watching a video with Brene Brown and Glennon Melton and they said that an eviction from your live is an invitation to heal yourself. Invitation accepted. This year the focus will be on me and that is not selfish, no self-pity or shame will be attached to that.

I will heal myself; and live in the RIGHT NOW. There is no limit to what you can accomplish when you are your best advocate; when you are seated at the table in your own life, present and ready to live each moment the best way you know how.

Wishing you a RIGHT NOW, shameless, grace-filled, love abundant 2018,

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Mean 

Mean 

Fridays are usually my kids favorite days. No homework means straight up fun all afternoon. After the first full week of school I thought my kids would be stoked that Friday afternoon had finally arrived.
All seemed good in the car. Of course my momdar (mom + radar) should have gone off when my daughter asked, “Do you like my outfit?” five minutes into our car ride home.

By the time we arrived home and kids piled out of the car, tears were streaming down her face. “What happened?” I asked; still not putting two and two together.

After a long hug and a few sobs she tells me that a girl said to her, “What are you wearing? Seriously, if you had just changed the bottom of that outfit maybe it would have been okay.” 

Fury. White-hot anger. Pain. Hurt. All this washes over me for her. As that simmers to a calm, I try to clean away this comment that will forever leave a stain. Nothing I say can completely erode the hurt from her heart. I know from experience. Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was a full-fledged dreamer and a stone cold liar.

We talk about responses for next time because apparently this girl thinks everyone needs to hear her opinion no matter what it is. My girl is finally calm and she decides to change her clothes. And even though we move past that hurtful moment, it sits with me still when my eyes pop open at 6 AM Saturday morning.

Kids say hurtful things. Adults say hurtful things. 

I feel that I am doing my part for humanity to teach my children that if something isn’t helpful, kind, or necessary that maybe that little piece of information is better left unsaid. We talk about the Golden Rule at least 10 times a day. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – or in our speak – treat others how you want to be treated.

But…will mean ever never stop?

Hurt people; hurt people. People who feel low and little feel the path to rise up is through stealing someone else’s power. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This quote is embroidered into my soul. 

Children learn to speak by listening to those around them. I hear the words I say spill from my children’s lips.

I have heard people say that parents cannot be blamed for how their children behave. I have heard moms excuse away mean behavior with “kid will be kids”.

If we don’t teach them, if we don’t take responsibility for who they become then who will? What will ever change?

I know what occurred Friday isn’t the first or last time that something like this will happen. Heck, I am an adult and I still face these challenges and comments from other adults! What hurts my heart more deeply is that this happens to all of us. That our world still has people in it that find excuses for hate – they hide behind religion, race, history or whatever excuse they can find to eradicate the simple fact that each of us alone is responsible for what we bring to the table. It comes down to the individual and if you can hurl a hate-filled slur at another human it has nothing to do with anything but your own bad behavior. There is no excuse you can hide behind. Your poor choices and actions stand alone. No circumstance, no religion, no difference, nothing defends that action. You hurt another human. That is all. 

We need to teach our children that simple fact. We are the same. Despite our exterior and cultural differences, we are the same. We all have a heart. We all want love. We all need the human basics – water, food, etc. Treat one another with respect. Do not hurt another person. It should just be that simple. 

Until next time,

Michelle

140 days

In 140 days I will turn 40. Maybe because it marks another decade it has me in knots. Turning  10 was a big deal. I can remember fifth grade in detail. I was excited for junior high and looking forward to being more grown up. My 20s had 40 years of hope before me. I couldn’t see the finish line at all. The crest of the hill was all that was ahead of me and the anticipation of what was at the top of that was exhilarating. I still was itching with the thrill of making the world a better place. If idealism was electric; I probably could have powered a small city. I was ready to stop making everyone happy. My 20’s were going to be spent doing the things that made me happy. I was going to be a teacher and inspire change daily. 

At the end of my 20’s marriage and babies came. I spent the beginning of that decade wanting to make a difference, wanting to follow my own dreams and I would end that decade feeling like I had lost all that ground.

My kids were my purpose in my 30’s. Knowing I was going to give birth to 4 beings whose light was so much greater than mine, who the Earth needed so much more than me kept my own life secondary. Everything was for them, the job I chose, where we moved, getting pets, driving myself out of my shell so they could have a better example. My 30’s felt like a decade of compromise and concession. There was exponentional growth that occurred here which was odd because it is also the decade where I took the worst physical care of myself.

Now with a decade of placating and concession behind me I see 40 ahead to the end. To the light at the finish and it has me slowing down, grasping at stillness. My past following close behind like confederate statues, constantly reminding me of my transgressions. 

Yesterday, I took a walk and turning 40 kept haunting my thoughts. The thoughts I wrote above came to me then. And I spent the rest of the day working, parenting, driving kids here and there, back to school nighting and as I was headed to a board meeting I was filled with so much angst about getting older. I was in a major funk. I prayed for guidance and clarity. 

Driving down the road, I notice the two cars ahead of me. One is stopped and the other is turning around and as that second car u turns I see the accident. I pull over and jump out of my car. There are other helpers. Establishing that someone has called 911; I look to the bodies on the ground. “What can I do?” I ask the woman standing with one of the injured. She hesitantly sends me to a young man in the middle of the street, next to the broken car. He is so angry and I know trying to keep him still is going to be a chore. I keep talking to him. A woman who says she is a nurse comes running up, but barely inspects him and moves on. I keep talking with him and in what seems like decades, he finally calms and reaches out his hand. “Hold it.” He says.

I take his hand and he grabs mine fiercely; squeezing it in pulses which must match the pain criss-crossing his body. I let him know I won’t leave him until the paramedic gets to him. We sit like that as the amazing teams of first responders work like angels in the glow of headlights. I finally have to let go so the medic can assist him. 

When I am cleared by the officers, I am shaken and the tears start to fall. We never stop making a difference. There is no age limit on when life starts or stops. Our heartbeats are in each and every minute no matter what is ahead of us. We can choose to u turn away and go a different path or we can find our way through the wreckage, hold a hand and see life in all it’s angst and beauty. See how that all blends together to enrich our lives in ways we can’t imagine.

No matter what lies ahead of me, an age, an accident, a hand to hold I want to carve substance into my existence every day of my life and stop thinking there is some sort of marker that defines that. We can make a difference in each moment regardless of what decade it is. After last night, I have no doubt that I will always walk into the wreckage and hold the hand of the person in need. Age isn’t a marker or a definition and I am going to stop measuring my life with it because there are so many moments to come and that is far greater than 140 days.

Until next time,

Michelle

Living in the WILD – lessons from afourytale

Living in the WILD – lessons from afourytale

School has started. Enough said. Am I right? Whether you have kids in school or not if you live in the U.S., school starting changes traffic patterns, moods and daily life all the way around. And since my brain cannot function without examining the minutiae of everything, it started spinning and I thought this was as good a time as any to share the lessons that I have learned lately. As always, hopefully this helps someone else out there in this great big universe feel a little more normal – even though there is no such thing – and also maybe sharing will help my mind to stop spinning.

Mean people are people who are hurting

People who hurt act out. 

Don’t start judging me already; I get that is a pretty logical statement. However, when violence strikes we aren’t really acting in a logical manner these days. Experience has taught me control is an illusion. We make choices based on the events that face us, and we can make good choices or bad, but life doesn’t change. That shit has been rough since the dawn of time. I mean there has always been violence, destruction, hate, and awful stuff in general.

We now have media everywhere we freaking look, so it seems so very overwhelming, but it isn’t different in itself. It really is same shit, different day. We have to start reacting to what happens to us better and also being better at proactively offering solutions before the problem hits. It isn’t an easy deal to solve; I get that. But just as violence stems from anger and pain; great change also comes from pain and reacting with love, patience, compassion, understanding. We are meant to share our stories.

Don’t get me wrong, when people are acting mean that is my biggest pet peeve. Rudeness crawls up my spine and causes me to throw up a little in my mouth every.single.time. I am human after all. As a human though, we are the starting point of change. That starts with compassion, sincerity, honesty, the giving of our time to others. These things can heal someone else. We must listen to one another’s story and whether we accept it as our truth or not, we need to hear each other and offer understanding. Only then can we start to really change things.

I recently watched Brené Brown speak about privilege so beautifully, I fear trying to even touch that topic without mentioning her description could not even do it justice. Privilege is something you are born with and do not have to earn; like finding people just like you on TV or finding a doll with your same color skin in any store you walk in. We as a people, we can change that.

Change is all based on reacting with compassion. We know better and should be making better choices. There is far more good in the world and those acting out right now fear the change that is coming. We got this people – good and compassion and faith – we got this. We always have. Don’t lose faith and continue to respond with an open heart, ear and mind and then change will come. We can heal one another one person at a time; one choice at a time; one compassionate action at a time.

Like the size of your lifeLike the size of your life.

Some people choose big and lately that seems to be what our society is preaching and delivering. I choose simple. I choose small town everyday simple life. Simple, quiet beauty fills me up. I like the size of my life. I like it so much I am constantly trying to slow it down so I can soak it up with every fiber of my being. Somehow that never seems to work out; like sand it keeps slipping through my fingers.

There are advantages to playing small. Not many people write this down or preach it. Setting out each day to be a good human and do the simple, necessary things without a lot of hoopla; there is some real good in that. Doing what needs to be done every day without shouting look at me or tweeting it; instagram-ing it; Facebook-ing it; there is fullness in just the doing an act in and of itself.

Being who you are and doing the right thing when no one is looking means so much more than shouting it from the roof top. Choosing small, real simple life is wholesome stuff. It gives you time to really connect to those important to you. That is what really matters. The simple pleasures of homemade lemonade, family time, the view, and little love notes. Making a difference one person at a time in your every day ordinary life. I choose small. I choose simple. But whatever you choose; just like the size of your life.

Truth isKids keep it real.

This one is just what it is. Kids see things simply and say what they feel. Mythirteen-year-old has told me twice in the past three months two things that have profoundly changed the way I look at things. It isn’t that no one has said this to me before, but it is the simplicity with how and when kids say things that just rock your world.

I had been worrying about work stuff and change and as I tuck my son in at night he says,”You know mom, all that stuff you have been talking about lately it really isn’t big stuff that matters. It is really kind of small stuff that shouldn’t bother you at all.” Well take that slap in the face! Yikes! He was right. That shifted my focus lickety-split.

Then just this week, first day of school. The twins are in two separate classes. I have to rush to get my thirteen-year-old to school and so I can’t stay and walk the twins into class. Every other child has a parent walking them into their class, but not my two. And just like that there is not just one set of class parents judging me as I speed off with my older son, but two sets of class parents and two sets of teachers. Talk about the weight of judgement. My older son notices this affect me. I tell him that I feel bad; he always had a parent walk him in and now the youngest are getting a less than experience because I am pulled in different directions. To which he says, “Mom, you put a lot of unrealistic expectations on yourself. The things you think you should do aren’t really humanly possible.” Touché! You got me kid.

Not that I haven’t heard this before, but there is something about your child pointing this out to you that just makes it sting and set it in a bit deeper. If you have experienced this lately; I get you; I hear you; this parenting gig is not for the faint of heart and your kids change you in ways you never expected. And on that note…

Be dapper withPee protection is legit.

Not only does parenting take an emotional toll on you, but it also can wreck you physically. I am extremely tired of having to cross my legs to cough or sneeze. To have to stop jumping on the trampoline every five minutes so I can pee. Or to have to stop and pee when I run. Ridiculous! This seriously is not fair. Women give birth and carry these precious beings for 9 months and then we continue to love them despite the fact that they can push every single button and make us more upset and frustrated than we ever believed humanly possible, but NOW we also can’t even freaking sneeze without peeing ourselves. The injustice! The humanity! Good Lord why you got to do us like that?! WHY?! Okay, rant over. Just had to get that off my chest. Recently a friend recommends Poise pads because well the struggle is real and women around the world have this pee problem. The Poise pads help, they do. I just can’t stand putting one in my underwear every damn day. Blah! Blech! Ugh! But there is a solution and they do work; just in case you are wondering. Bottom line, getting older kind of sucks and I am still mostly just crossing my legs when I sneeze, but whatever – it is what it is.

Keep on plugging along peeps. Until next time,

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Sitting on the edge

Sitting on the edge

It’s a Tuesday and I don’t even know where to start. There is just so much, too many feels to hold inside my body.

On the surface and mostly, life is good; really, really good.

And yet; there has been something missing lately.

Again don’t get me wrong the plusses in my life are major. For example, being a mom is my favorite and it is all I ever wanted to be. But my first world problems start when I think ahead. My oldest turns 13 in less than two weeks. I turn 40 in 6 months. What is next for me? What do I do when they are grown? I am technically an adult so what do I want for the rest of my life? Do I keep the job I have for the next 20 years? Do I practice what I preach and follow my dreams?

Answers always come. Once you let the universe know what your heart desires the answers come.

There are no coincidences. Everything happens on purpose – there may not be a reason, but there is purpose even if it doesn’t make sense; even if it’s not fair, there is purpose.

How does all this rambling connect? Well, let me share with you a bit about my past week.

This past week I was in LA for work and we had to introduce ourselves by sharing a hidden talent. Should be easy, no problem right. Well my hidden talent can be seen as adverse or cray-cray. This type of professional setting made it feel unsafe to share mine. But in my heart, this just felt wrong and it left a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach I just couldn’t shake for the next several days.

When I started writing this blog and started my journey to my most authentic self it was to break down walls and live out loud. I am tired of hiding; even if it is part-time. I don’t want to be in a place where I can’t be myself any more. In the life I want for myself I don’t have to keep the biggest part of who I am under wraps. But in reality, I am. That is how I live right now. I know I share here, and in my town, but I go to work and am a totally different person with most people. I stay quiet and keep my head down and just try to get through each day. Accounting, sales and marketing are my day job. Me and numbers; I can hear you laughing through the internet. But I get it, I totally get it.

So with the weight of hiding weighing on my mind, I sent a call out to God; a prayer to the universe: Show me the way. What should I do next? And then I wait because that is what you do. You wait and watch, and maintain your steady path until you hear back otherwise.

As we drove home from LA, we passed 3 different psychic studios (not that I am a psychic by any means) but still it is in the same wheelhouse if we are being technical. It felt like an answer that time and time again I would feel drawn to look up and nearby there was a literal sign for a psychic.

As sign after sign passed it made me feel like the universe and God were whispering back (okay slapping me in the face) take the leap; JUMP. And as the great Ron Swanson says, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” Thank you, thank you Parks and Rec; Amy Poehler and cast you make my days complete.

Right now, I am not whole-assing anything. I am half-assing a lot of things and not doing a great job. I am hanging on and it seems grand, I am sure to those outside looking in, but really something is missing and there is too much going on, to do one thing well.

I think it is just about time to make a big change. It’s what the universe and God are telling me, too. To do something about following this dream of mine. And I did meet Amy Poehler…’s star on the way home from LA so anything is possible, right? I mean really, we are going to meet one day and she is going to love me, I just know it! I even visited Beverly Hills for the first time and sat in the bar of the Beverly Wilshire and had a cocktail. I mean come on; I am meant for greatness right? That and two different clients texted me the same week to tell me that multiple people referred them to me and one even said I was famous and couldn’t believe I was coming to her house. WALK of FAME watch out I am coming for you! Am I right? Okay, okay I am humble, I promise. I wouldn’t be here writing about choices if I wasn’t.

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Seriously though; I think it’s time to wrap up this journey of mine in a nice little bow and take that final leap and love who I am; my whole-self and truly live out loud. Be who I am where-ever and whenever. No need to hide that I speak to spirit. I have faith. I trust spirit and I trust God. That is enough and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. God has crazy mad love for me and I should love myself that much, too. So, I think it’s just about time to make a change.

I am over here sitting on the edge, looking down and out and contemplating taking that leap while the universe keeps whispering, “jump.” It’s not a matter of if any more; it’s just a matter of when.

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Until next time or until I jump whichever comes first,

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This grateful, broken soul.

This grateful, broken soul.

” I can dream when the lights are out.”

– Peter H. Reynold

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Do you ever have days when you feel like everything is going so right and you are on top of the world? You might even whistle to yourself a little bit and you suddenly feel a little like Mary Poppins with the birds whistling back at you?

Now do you ever feel the opposite? Like the odds are stacked against you and if it can go wrong it will? Like every little thing is just a little off kilter and you swear that somewhere the Wicked Witch of the West has ordered her flying monkeys to wreak havoc on your life?

For the past 30 plus days my life has been much more like the scenario described in the second paragraph. Now don’t get me wrong, I know most of my problems are first world and less severe than most, but I still feel beyond overwhelmed and we have to feel the feelings to get through them; so here I am…opening up my big mouth to the internet when I should be folding laundry instead.

Over the past 30 or so days, there have been a great deal of tears. Some have been joyful of course. But there are others that have left streaks of sorrow down my cheeks. There has also been a great deal of hearty laughter, too. So many moments in motherhood where I have been connected to each one of my children deeply; having the magical opportunity to witness their heart and mind as they discover new meaning and wonder in the world.

And there have been moments of anger. Boiling, steaming, piping hot anger that has bubbled up in me in ways I thought I had long outgrown. Venomous words have spewed out of my being with so much distaste I haven’t even recognized them as my own.

These emotions, I have come to understand, are the visible signs of my soul being broken, fissured and reshaped. A current, I believe, that has astrological roots.

So how did that all start, this astrological roots idea? Well, I feel that I have been led to some interesting places lately with what has been put in front of me to read. I am reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reyolds, and this blog post by James Van Praagh.

These things, like all else, were placed in my path for this moment.

Ann has spoken to me deeply through her book, but one story she relays sticks out in my mind and I keep coming back to it. She writes of a sermon that her preacher gave  when she was young that had to do with Jacob wrestling with God. Now Jacob does not know he is wrestling with God, only that he is wrestling with a man in the dark. It is only at the end near dawn when Jacob is touched by the man on the sinew of his thigh and it is broken with that one small touch that Jacob realizes he has been wrestling with God. He knows this because the sinew of the thigh is the strongest place in the human body and it is broken with barely a touch. Only God has power like that. What Ann remembers her preacher telling the segregation is that, “The Lord has to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing us.” He has to break us sometimes. It is in being broken that we can be built up again. It is said that Jacob always walked with a limp after that battle for our broken-ness may leave its mark as a reminder of where we were and how far we have come.

And then the Happy Dreamer calls out to me from a School Book Fair shelf and I instantly fall in love. As I hit the pages about dreaming in darkness, I am reminded that God calls us into the dark; God asks us to bring out light to the places where it is needed most and often that is to a place where it seems dark and scary to us. We are led there any way. Sometimes breaking us open reveals our own dark, scary places and we can bring light to those once they are brought to the surface.

And last, but not least, James Van Praagh writes about three different planets being in retrograde. Retrograde just means that these planets appear to moving in a backward or opposite motion to their natural pattern in the sky. And one of those planets just calls out to me a bit more and as I begin researching. And in an instant it makes perfect sense why all has started to unravel and why it is of course a universal, cosmic occurrence. God is in ALL things and so of course, it would be the universe creating this energetic disturbance in my otherwise calm life. And it is no surprise that Saturn being in retrograde is apparently a big deal for me as a Capricorn. Saturn rules Capricorn and Aquarius. Saturn is the planet of limitations and discipline. It is in retrograde from April 6th through August 25th of this year. What this means is during this time if I work against things that I am bumping up against with force then I will experience discomfort. If I slow down and work according to the big picture and resolve my lessons then I will be rewarded, but I can not rush or push my own agenda. I must slowly and steadily do the work.

All of these things have stirred me to be more introspective and mindful. God is at work in the universe and in me.

I am off tilt on purpose because I am fighting to gain some control and the upper hand. I have forgotten to express gratitude and to show it with my actions, by taking the time to do and appreciate the things that matter. By remembering that it is God that is at the helm. Not me.

So instead of feeling spiteful and irritated for having been broken; I instead need to be grateful that the Lord saw fit to build me back up. To reshape my pieces into something fit to move to the next phase of my life. He is giving me the opportunity to learn the lesson of connection and patience, again. Again. Again. Again. And it is patient parenting of the self that guides us to where we need to be.

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So as I find myself feeling off tilt and broken; I am reminding myself to breathe, slow down, focus on what matters. I am finding the still quiet so that I can coax my intuitive voice to take charge again. God wired my internal compass so it cannot guide me astray, not ever. Not even when it leads me into the dark, with no flashlight, and no instructions. For I am not lost, we are always arriving. Always on our way.

We are God. God is in us. Our souls have been given everything they need to work through what transpires in this life. We are on the intended path. We will find our way, agian and again and again, and always.

And when you feel lost along the way just remember, as Ann Voskamp did. “[h]ow did Jesus do it again? He looked up to heaven to where this moment came from.” We just need to remember to look up. Find Him and be grateful. Find Him and ask to be led. Realize that the only control we have is in how we react and perceive what is laid before us on our path.

We are only human. We will feel these emotions and naturally lament our pains and grievances. Do not be too hard on yourself for what comes easier to each of us. But to find peace and find your way through look up. Breathe in the blessings and exhale with humble gratitude. Release what ails you and instead look to how it can be a blessing, a teaching moment that will shed light into your soul and reshape it to accept abundance and grace.

And if all else fails hang on best you can until August 25th. We can make it through. Together we will get there.

Don’t forget to look up,

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Bear hunts, earthquakes & roller coasters

Bear hunts, earthquakes & roller coasters

Earthquakes shake through the foundation of our lives. They just do. They aren’t planned and you can’t escape them. It reminds me a bit of the book Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen. In the book, the family goes looking for a bear and they encounter long wavy grass, a deep cold river, thick oozy mud, a big dark forest, a swirling whirling snowstorm, a narrow gloomy cave, and they end up finally finding the bear and they race back through everything they encountered to end up safe and cozy at home. Each obstacle they meet, they have to go through them; they can’t go over, under or around, they MUST go through.

Just in case you want to hear the book you can listen to it below…

Life is just like that. We encounter obstacles all along the way and sometimes, most times, we have to go through them instead of over, around or under.

To me that is our lives day in and day out. We go out into the world through every obstacle, face our biggest challenges and then run right back through those obstacles to get to the safety of our cozy little homes only to do it all again the next day. Thankfully, I have a cozy, little home; some of us don’t even have that luxury. There is no safe place to land for some of us.

About two weeks ago, an announcement was made that shook my foundation to the point where the Earth opened up and a huge fissure was made. It was one of those life changes where events prior will be referred to as before and events occurring from now on will be referred to as after. The scary part for me this time is that I didn’t end up on the part of the Earth on the after side of things right away. I started falling right down that fissure. This event knocked me off my foundation in a way that I didn’t land right away.

You know the feeling. You hear some news and right away you just feel like you got on one of those rides like the Tower of Terror at Disneyland and you are free-falling. Your stomach reaches up into your throat and you just want to land. But somehow you don’t. There is this up and down motion as you travel through the ride and you just aren’t quite sure when it will stop and you will safely be on solid footing again. That is how I felt the past two weeks.

Skyfall fun ride at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, 2015

I guess if I am being honest, I still feel like that a bit, but the ride is losing momentum so hopefully I am nearing solid footing once again.

This event reminded me once again how little control we have over life. Life is a ride. We are born into it and there may be twists and turns where we can make certain life choices; like who is on the ride with us or what kind of track the ride will have, for instance bumpy or smooth, we might have some input. But, many times the track is decided for us. We can only choose how we react. Do we buckle up and enjoy the ride or kick and scream, beg and plead, and demand a refund?

Most times, I think it is human nature when life takes a turn we don’t like to whine a little bit. But the best way through it is to assess the situation, make the best of it and buckle up for the bumpy parts and enjoy what you can of the ride.

Life is going to happen to us. It just is. We can only choose how we react to it as the ride moves us forward. That is the only control that we have.

For me, the best thing I can do is sit back, make sure the buckle is fastened and enjoy the view and make the best I possibly can of the roller coaster ride of life.

And what a view it is…

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Hope you are surviving your roller coaster of a life, too.

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I keep this in my wallet to help me remember to have faith that it will all work out in the end.
Until next time,

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