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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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.

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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”,

2016-09-11_0905

 

 

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,

2016-09-11_0905

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