It isn’t just our town.

It isn’t just our town.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know I am not alone with stories like these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gilroy, California

* Sebring, Florida

* Aurora, Illinois

Blacksburg, Virgina – Virginia Tech University

* Virginia Beach, Virgina

Newtown, Connecticut – Sandy Hook Elementary

Killeen, Texas – Luby’s Cafeteria

Parkland, Florida – Stoneman Douglass High School

Littleton, Colorado – Columbine High School

Aurora, Colorado – Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://everytown.org/

https://momsdemandaction.org/

https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/

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

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

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

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

Working for a better tomorrow,

Michelle

5 Things You Should Know Before a Reading

5 Things You Should Know Before a Reading

After hundreds of readings, I still get so many questions about what to expect at a session. I thought it might be helpful to compile some things you should know if you are going to book a session with me. The five items below will help you understand what may or may not happen in a session.

1. These sessions are about healing:

Spirit wants us to know they are still alive and thriving. That they are at peace and good things are happening for them. They want us to know they are okay.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected:

Spirit is going to talk about what they want to talk about. They have an agenda and are present to deliver messages that you need to hear. Be ready to talk to someone who might not have been on your list and be prepared to listen to things you may not have expected to hear. Just a heads up.

3. Seeing a medium is not about proving spirit is real or seeking specific information:

Many people come to me and want advice, want to know the future, and want specific validation…this is NOT how spirit works. When people seek an appointment with a medium for these particular things; they are often disappointed. However, many times, these things are given. It is usually in an unexpected way, so go to an appointment with an open mind and heart. You will be pleasantly surprised.

For Example: There was a woman that came to me, and we spent a good twenty minutes in a group session talking with her father. He missed her greatly and told her many of the things he had seen since he passed. He shared messages about family that he was concerned about and even gave her some advice about what he could see happening emotionally with her. When we got to the end of the session, she said, “I just don’t know if I can believe that was my dad. This whole time I have had his ring in my pocket and I told him that he needed to say I had it for me to believe.”

Well, bummer! That is the number one mistake that you can make. Spirit isn’t coming through to prove to you they are real. They are coming through a medium to tell you things THEY think are important. You have to believe of your own volition and if you don’t, well then you don’t. Nothing they say or do is going to change that.

The moral of this story is, mediumship is not a validation tool. If you go on a mission for answers, you will likely be disappointed. But if you go to an appointment with an open heart and open ears, you will get what you need. Spirit always supplies you with exactly what you need. That is just how the universe works.

Another Example: In a session several weeks ago, I met with a woman who wanted to hear from her sister and brother. As I shared messages with her from spirit; her mother, a spirit, waited patiently. Then the spirit mom asked if she could speak. The client I was meeting with said, sure. Her mother went on to share that she was sorry and that she was working on being a better soul. She continued to say that when they met again, she hoped that her daughter would be proud of the progress she had made.

My client was shocked that her mother had even shown up! She couldn’t believe that her mother was admitting that she needed to work on herself. This message gave my client a great deal of peace. She came ready to listen, didn’t know what to expect, and felt she was given so many meaningful messages and even some from her mother, who she thought wouldn’t show up at all. Moral of the story: be ready for the unexpected.

4. You are the interpreter and I am just the translator – spirit messages don’t always make sense on the spot:

You know those magic 8 balls? Yeah, those balls that you tip upside down ask a question and get a vague answer? Sometimes a reading can be like that. Spirit comes ready to talk about specific things on THEIR agenda, it might align with yours and it might not. They may also say things that don’t seem to make sense or even seem that significant, but to them, it is precisely what they want to share at that moment.

For Example: I was at a reading, and a grandmother came through. She described a pile of books and talked about how books were essential to her. Come to find out she was a librarian. But her whole message to her granddaughter was to please use the bookmarks that she gave her; dog-earing the pages made her crazy! No joke. So, you have to just be ready to get what you get.

Another Example: When you go to talk to spirit, there are certain things that they won’t help you with. You are here on your own journey to make your own decisions. I have had people come to me and ask if they should have another baby, leave their husband, move, go to a specific college, etc. Guess what? The only person or soul that can answer those types of questions is you! This is your life and your journey. If spirit doesn’t bring this stuff up on their own; and they won’t directly usually, then it is absolutely none of their business and something you need to figure out.

5. Know the difference between a Medium and a Psychic:

Mediums can be psychic. Make sure when you are booking an appointment if you want to talk about the future that you are seeing a psychic or a psychic medium. That would not be me. I have chosen just to practice mediumship. It is my experience that spirit can only showcase our opportunities or possibilities. Everything I have seen has led me to believe we have free will, and that means we could do something that spirit didn’t count on. And our lives are attached to a million variables and those can change in a way spirit didn’t expect. So, with that being said, even if spirit brings up the future, it is just to highlight possibilities that exist in that exact moment.

However, it is always my hope that meeting with me aids in the grieving process and brings comfort and peace.

If you do book an appointment with a straight up medium like me, come with an open heart and mind. Spirit will share with you precisely what you need to know at that moment. If you are willing to hear what is being shared, then there is always something to gain. Write things down and reserve judgment until later.

Spirit gets you there if you decide to show up. I firmly believe that. So if spirit sends you my way, I look forward to seeing you.

Until next time,

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Fissures and Finding Truth

Fissures and Finding Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1100

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

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

Until next time,

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An open letter to myself…

An open letter to myself…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay here it goes…

Dear End of 2019 Michelle,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Beginning of 2019 Michelle

Notes on a life well lived

Notes on a life well lived

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you live a life well in reality?

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

Drumroll please….

one damn second at a freaking time.

I know I am a genius.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and light,

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Notes on fear…

Notes on fear…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The truth is…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and light,

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Year End Lessons for 2018

Year End Lessons for 2018

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

First things first…

20 Dessert Inspirations

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

Make your own Fancy new year

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

Bake the Cookies

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

good times & tan lines

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

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

Make New Friends

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

RELEARN & REMEMBER YOUR OWN LESSONS

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

actions

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

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

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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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Snippets from Heaven: Part 2

Snippets from Heaven: Part 2

On a Monday evening in July, I was making my second call of the day for a phone appointment. I never know what to expect in any session. As per usual, I only knew Michele’s name and nothing more. She had contacted me via email and given me just the details that she would like an hour session and phone was fine with her.

She had patiently waited a month to speak with me. During the session, we were able to connect with her father.

If you don’t know already, dear reader, I remember little about each appointment.

I know I enjoyed speaking with her dad and was in awe of his ability to connect so clearly with her as he had only been in heaven a short time. His messages were filled with love for his daughter, and he expressed a great deal of joy. I recall liking him and connecting with him in a way I would a new friend. I loved the comfort and peace that rested so firmly in his soul. But even more, I enjoyed his humor and that he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to give me a hard time.

As the session ended, Michele’s dad said,  “Thank you for calling me.” I relayed this message and I then thanked Michele, as well. And Michele said, “I think he is talking to both of us.” I was a bit confused and didn’t have to wait long for Michele to clarify.

She said that she and her dad shared a love of all things spiritual and had always wanted to go see a medium together. They didn’t know who they wanted to see and about a month before Michele’s dad passed away, he called her. During the call, he said he had just spoken to a friend and had found their medium. He told her to write down the contact information. Michele was excited and wanted to know when they were going to make an appointment to see this medium together. He told her that she should go see the medium first, by herself. She was confused about why they couldn’t go together. She shrugged it off. But when her dad passed a month later, it all became clear. She felt that he had found the medium that he, himself wanted to communicate through.

Then Michele said words that blew my mind, “The medium he found was you.” And I heard her wave a paper in her hand. Then as I expressed disbelief, she messaged me the below picture.

By the way, I may have asked for proof – I know I am totally the skeptic, and it is entirely ironic please remember my post on offering compassion before passing judgment; I am a human after all. 

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Shared with consent from Michele

But there it was. Michele shared with me that her father and chosen me to speak through. I am still in total awe.

Not only is it remarkable to me that he picked me himself before he passed, but it also came at such a perfect time. As messages from spirit tend to do.

As you all know, I struggle with faith and how I fit into that picture often. (If you are new, dear reader, now you know and if you are an old friend, dear reader, you, of course, understood that already.) I love God, I knew God before I understood how to explain Him. And yet, I am some sort of abomination to those whose faith has them cling to literal interpretations. I have made my peace with God because it is only His opinion that matters. Only He knows my heart inside and out. Only He knows my soul with complete clarity. And He is my creator; so He knows I was made just this way with purpose and intent. Anyway, it still stings when I get messages about how people are praying for my soul and that they hope I don’t go to hell for what I do. And it still stings to be made fun of and reprimanded that I do this for personal gain. But I don’t think I would be human if it didn’t hurt.

Regardless, I had once again been thinking about my sessions and was wondering with a heavy heart if I was on the right path; if I was making a difference. And this reading happened. Literally not an hour after I had pondered those thoughts with a heavy heart. Here was spirit saying not only did they want to communicate with me; but I was being selected by them explicitly. My heart still bursts with honor and love. I can’t even imagine; out of all the souls that they could choose; they will pick me. And this beautiful reminder; helped me to remember just to keep going forward, helping one person at a time; doing the best I can right where I am and that, no matter what anyone else says; that alone is enough.

What else struck me about this was, Michele continued to connect the dots between spirit and how they chose to communicate. She sent me the following message (*names have been changed to protect their identity):

“Not sure if you remember Monica* – she came in a few weeks back, with her mom on the phone. She’s my girlfriend who’s father passed 10 days after mine,… My dad brought them into your life as well. When you said your 2 friends told 2 friends, I thought about how my dad’s friend told him, he told me & I told Monica*,… It’s amazing to step back and think about how life works and how we are all connected to each other.”

I think we forget how connected we are to each other. I think we forget that underneath our skin and bones is a soul, and that soul is intertwined with the other souls here on Earth deeply and profoundly. I think when we remember this; we remember to treat others with grace, and compassion, I believe when we remember this hate evaporates and only love can remain. We know each other at a soul level in a way our brains can only just begin to comprehend. And our souls are speaking to one another. And all the while our loved ones in Heaven are guiding us and working with one another to make sure we are loved and protected from Heaven, too.

I will close this with the same words I used when I messaged Michele back:

“We can tear up together. You are not alone. I am thanking him; over and over. He thinks it is appropriate, too. He absolutely thinks he deserves all the credit. The grin on his face is priceless!”

Hopefully, you will remember joy, love, and light are ever-present around you. Your loved ones are not lost; they are alive and well, thriving in Heaven finding ways to continue to be a part of your daily lives; holding you close and dear as ever. You are not alone.

Love and light, until next time,

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Pass the praise

Pass the praise

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

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

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

This is so normal. And it is so wretched.

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

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

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

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

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

Compassion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace and love,

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Life out loud

Life out loud

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

                                                                                                        – Maddie Dawson

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

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

Michelle Murnin Paulson (3)

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

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

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

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

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

Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

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

Copy of Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

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

Copy of Copy of Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

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

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

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

Until next time,

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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.

Miracles

Miracles

Gratitude is still lingering in our minds as it was Thanksgiving for some of us just a few months ago. I saw the Facebook posts blowing up with the 30 days of thanks. I saw the pictures about being thankful and blessed. Then, December brought us Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Advent, and many more holidays around the world. In our neck of the woods the Holiday Cards come zipping in (mine will be a New Year’s card this year, or around then) and the pictures of families fill them. Smiling kids, dogs, and little notes about what is going on in everyone’s worlds. I love them, cherish them to pieces, but my heart breaks a little when I think of who might be missing from those photos or my friends that will never have a complete family photo ever again. How crushing this time of year can be for some. And with it being January that doesn’t just lift away like a fog; even in our happiest moments; pain becomes a lifeline on our hands, the words on the tips of our tongues we do not speak, and the ache in our heart that never quite goes away.

Some of you have heard me share this story, but I want to share it here again. A preacher shared this at a sermon.

A property owner needed to drill a well. Out came the man with the tools to drill the well. As they began drilling they ran into difficulty because it was winter and the ground was frozen. Frustrated, the land owner was ready to give up, “I guess we will just have to wait until spring,” he said.

“Oh no,” replied the man drilling. “You need to keep drilling. If you find water in the winter you will have water all year-long.”

It reminds me of all of those that are grateful; that have had moments of great loss as well. And that sometimes our hearts are frozen over with the cold grief. While it may seem impossible; we can drill down, even in the winter, even in the bleakest of circumstances; which I know we are hearing about on the news and some of us are living through. We must keep drilling to reach the water; to reach faith and gratitude so that it becomes something we have 365 days a year. So it becomes our habit and pattern of behavior; not just for the end of the year, but all year long. It can be the thing that sits beside us when we have fallen and it can be the voice that whispers us awake again and again. It can be the cheerleader that helps us forge ahead with each step that we take.

When I was very little I knew I was different because I could see and hear things others could not. I learned to keep this part of myself hidden. And when I hid that part of myself it became easy to hide. I have spent the last several years unveiling my hidden pieces. Breaking open and becoming vulnerable. It has been one of the most difficult things to do. And yet it is yielding powerful results in my life; this drilling down. It has led me to things and moments I never dreamed of having.

We burn with divine light

I get to witness miracles. God gave me an amazing gift and I am fortunate enough to help others with it. Even with the joy that comes with what I witness, the weight and sadness of the lives I interact with weigh heavy on my heart. I would much rather my clients loved ones were still physically with them then me have the job that I do. It’s a tough one and most days it makes me feel less than, instead of unique because no matter what I do it will never be enough. That is just the nature of it.

The point is that I suck at this life thing on the regular. I am pretty sure most days I make more mistakes than not, but in the end, I win more than I lose. Breaking myself open to being completely vulnerable has made me unable to sit at many tables; it quickly separates me from people, and definitely makes me an outcast. I am readily seen as different. But aren’t we all seen that way in some realm of our lives?

When I look at my family, my friends and see those family cards flowing in; I can see between the lines. I see the triumphs and the fears; the dark and the light in their lives. We are all just surviving the best way we know how.

It would be a beautiful thing if we stopped using our differences as weapons and instead used them to be the light in one another’s lives. We have one thing in common; each of us is human. Each of us has a beating heart with emotions and a body with basic needs. If we started where we are, THE SAME, and cherished where those similarities ended and made room for everyone at the table that would be a miraculous world. And not just because we would all find a way to coexist; but because when we start to allow miracles into our lives; they start to show up over and over again.

Because I take a blind leap of faith every day – yes, it is blind; there is no way for me to know what I believe is truth – I witness miracles in my work and life every single day; multiple times a day, but I know that is because I believe in something greater than myself; I believe miracles happen every second of every day and I watch for them and give thanks for them. That is what allows their frequency in my life; that I expect them to be there. I know this is not easy for all; believing in something you can’t see is so very hard.

Welcome

Clients of mine often express their struggle to comprehend a session and truly believe what happened was real. Even when we are presented with a direct, divine answer from the universe that there is something greater, that we are not in control, it is hard to believe. I get it. Nothing anyone can do, or anything you witness can force you to believe in anything; you have to choose to believe. But, that is the thing, what I do isn’t about proof; it isn’t about the idea that frequency will make it real and solid; you have to believe on your own.

As always, with what I do and how to explain it; I think of God. I think of Jesus.

Jesus was given to us as a most precious gift and he gave his life for us. He wasn’t invited to every table in life and he isn’t invited to every table in death, as there are people who do not believe in him. People make a choice to believe or not to believe. Regardless of how others viewed him, he lived his best life, vulnerable, open, and believing in something greater than himself.

When we believe, when we chose to be open, we find the miracles in life; we witness greatness that has no other explanation. I think being vulnerable, open and choosing to believe is enough. It is what I chose each day. Right or wrong it leads me toward faith, miracles and blessings. I wouldn’t choose any other way.

Peace be with you,
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Next level

Next level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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