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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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,
A few weeks ago, my oldest son was explaining how he beat the hard mode in Terraria. For me, listening to how these games are played, even though I have watched them, is complicated, to say the least. Basically, Terraria is a game where you can dig, build, and fight. You work through different biomes and beat different bosses (the game’s language, not mine) to conquer the game. But don’t use my definition as a guide; I am just a mom and not a gamer after all. But for the purpose of this post, that is going to have to be good enough.
Anyway, he was telling me about defeating the hard mode and how it unlocks or spawns The Hallow. In this new biome, he can do more things and collect more goods. But the one part of his description that really struck me is when he told me to watch out for the unicorns. In The Hallow the unicorns are hostile.
That I can relate to.
I know, unicorns don’t exist. But it made me think of perfection, also a myth. It made me think of what we might all be continually searching for and seem never to find. And it seemed just a tad bit ironic that The Hallow (a sacred place) is where unicorns exist.
And I kept thinking about unicorns (perfection, every single day happiness, a place where everyone gets along, nirvana) and they are unattainable because they are not realistic.
Like how we can always be looking for just the right moment to try something new when we should just do that new thing right now. Or we think the grass is greener on the other side of the hill only to find out that there are the same weed patches and trouble keeping things green when we get there. Or wanting to make a new friend, but staying quiet and away from others. Wanting to be seen, but not having the courage to stand out.
I probably scroll through social media channels more than I should. I probably watch the news a lot less than I should. I see happy people in the midst of life and wonder if I am where I should be. I read things that get me thinking about life and if I am doing as much as I should. Living in a way that I should.
Worthiness just might be my unicorn. It seems so elusive to me and right when I think I finally have found a cozy little place where I feel like; I am finally comfortable with myself there is some little reminder that I am still hanging onto my unworthiness.
Like how reading posts from a favorite blogger that says if we aren’t doing something to stop prejudice, gun violence, homelessness, sex trafficking, abuse, literacy, refugees, etc. and fixing it then we are complacent. We are part of the problem. And it makes me feel less than because I am not a warrior; I am not ready to strap on armor and fight or debate others. I definitely am trying to help defeat these things, but is it enough?
I try to help with Holiday Cheer. I try to help by raising my babies to be the helpers. I run toward car accidents to hold the hands of strangers until help comes. I volunteer. I donate. I vote. I treat others how I want to be treated, and yet when I see the things happening in the world, I feel so much not enough-ness I can’t even speak. I feel so wrapped in privilege that the guilt washes over me in tidal waves and I can’t breathe or even move for a few minutes. The weight of the wrong in the world sometimes feels so much bigger than the good. And it probably doesn’t help that I was built with the ability to feel things so deeply and to be able to feel what others feel so completely. It is sometimes so hard to live that way.
One of my social media friends posted a blog that made my heart drop. She wrote about how she isn’t sure she believes in unconditional love anymore. What the hell? This person is the epitome of unconditional love. She is the actual living, breathing embodiment of unconditional love. I guess when you are that, it is hard to find it, and even harder to see it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think we forget to look in the mirror sometimes. I think we forget ourselves in the equation of things.
And I can be a bit churchy and preachy even though I don’t go to church. I read Tim Tebow and follow Christian Instagram accounts and listen to Christian music. By the way, how freaking ah-mazing is Lauren Daigle?! I have her album on shuffle and repeat. I get goosebumps on just about every song. Her lyrics stop me in my tracks.
However, the irony is not lost on me when it comes to the relationship between religion and the problems that it causes in the world sometimes. The problem it can cause in myself sometimes. But, I remind myself, it is the interpretation of humans that causes the problem; believing in Jesus and God isn’t harming anyone. Anyway…
The whole unicorns being hostile; I get it. The beauty and magic of this world, of the moments with each other, can be plagued by the ugliest parts of humanity. Or how nature can destroy a city on a whim – through a tornado, hurricane, or a volcano or disease or freak accidents can take away a person we love in an instant. And everything seems lost and cruel. Or how a moment of hate can seemingly steal away every kindness that has touched your heart. And unfortunately, sometimes in beauty lies ugliness; unicorns can be hostile. Perfection is a plague. Feeling more right than someone else and that need to be right is cancer. And your world can turn on a dime.
Acceptance, understanding, and the constant choice to see the best is the way to peace in our own hearts. When we do our best to help others and try to reach them despite our differences that is how we can find our own absolution. When we learn to look in the mirror and see ourselves as a friend would see us or how our children see us; then we can start to feel that worthiness. We just aren’t looking at things with the best perspective sometimes, or we forget to look in the right places to see the things that matter most of all.
Staying centered in this life is definitely a practice. I do not wake up and feel like I am whole, worthy and ready to conquer the world. Those feelings have to be cultivated, curated and rebuilt. I am not the kind of person that was born with confidence to spare. And in an environment that moves faster and faster on to the next best thing – what is bigger, brighter, better – I am constantly reeling to stay in my lane. The good news is that when you have faith, and you continually check in with the universe and God; He can remind you that you are divine. It is the simple things that you do every day that make the most significant difference. Be rooted in who you are. Treat others and yourself with respect and compassion. It is that simple. Let the unicorns be a myth, and then the attachment to it can no longer hold you hostage – you can be pleasantly content in your imperfectness. Let go of your need to be right and open up to understanding and empathy. Once we let go, become open, and offer grace, we find our own absolution, we love ourselves and each other, which is what we were really after all along.
Several years ago I started to disarm myself. Piece by piece I set down my armor. I came out of hiding and decided in order to live fully I must be seen fully. That is why I started this blog and even named it “afourytale” – a fairy tale; four kids – a..four..ytale…get it.
I didn’t want the cliché version of a fairytale; I wanted to rewrite the standard fairytale. Fairytales aren’t beautiful stories with happy endings. Fairytales are messy, unkept, broken stories that do not always have perfect endings. When I read how the little mermaid really ended in her becoming foam on the ocean; my heart crumpled. But I think we need to rewrite these stories with more modern versions of truth. Fairytales are our lives – they are hard, broken, beautiful, messy, lonely, noisy, colorful tales of truth and vulnerability.
I wanted to share that even with all of the mess that life can bring our perspective can create that story into a fairytale. And in order to do that; I was going to have to set down my armor and show all the sides of myself and my life. I couldn’t hide behind perfectionism any more. I didn’t want to be seen as perfect anymore. In fact I had come to despise that word and every time someone would describe me that way I would cringe. I had to shed the armor and leave perfectionism behind me.
Now disarming myself and shedding my armor is something I have found that I have to relearn on a regular basis. My default button is to run and hide. It is so much easier to grab my armor, steel myself and let things bounce off of me and not feel.
After three years of constantly setting down my armor a strange thing has happened. Now when I try on my mask and armor it doesn’t fit right. Something feels askew.
Each time I try to put on my armor or retreat to its steely protection I hear loud and clear these words from the Universe: “Fear not. Remember.”
When I hear these words I set down my armor and go out into the world feeling extremely unprepared, totally naked and yet fully alive. I let what comes hit me and instead of retreating I feel each inch of it and decide not to let others dictate how I feel about something, but to define it for myself.
For instance, yesterday I was called selfish. It stung. It hurt fiercely. But I decided instead of retreating, instead of hiding my hurt, to fully listen to how it was said and decide for myself – is that how I define me?
I take things personally. Does that make me selfish? No, it makes me human. I do not have to change that I take things personally. I am a person after all. I just need to make sure the person that I am talking to; knows that I am hearing them as well.
I am not selfish. My truth is that I am kind, super extra feely, and that being personal and feeling everything that comes at me is how I best process the world. If I just allow myself to feel only what other people expect me to and to only react the way other people expect me to, then I am right back in my armor and that is not how I want to live my life.
Being brave is setting down your armor and being your true self. Brene Brown uses the Teddy Roosevelt quote about going out into the arena:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Life is the arena; where we show up leaving our armor behind and let our blood and sweat show for all to see. When we do that we can become connected to one another. We can also become whole. We become fully alive.
Why am I telling you all this? I tend to make mistakes on a large-scale. I tend to make mistakes that affect other people and not just myself. Not on purpose mind you. I go in with my whole heart and do my very best. Daring greatly if you will. But I have also learned that if something doesn’t feel right then it isn’t something you should keep doing no matter what.
About a month ago I tried to do something I thought I always wanted; only to find that it didn’t fit anymore. It wasn’t who I was any longer; it was only who I thought I was. It was a part of me that fit into my armor. And since I can’t wear my armor anymore without feeling completely ridiculous and askew; this activity didn’t fit me either. I had to say, “No thank you; this isn’t what I want.” It was hard. It was scary. It was also just right for me. Being brave sometimes means saying no thank you, that’s not for me even when everyone else is watching.
And last but not least, being brave also means asking for help. A group of my friends decided to get together. I couldn’t fathom trying to join them. I felt like bad company and thought it would just be a bad idea to go. “No one wants to see me any way. I won’t be missed,” I thought.
The words of the universe stirred in me again…”Fear not. Remember”… and I began to reevaluate my thoughts. Ah-ha! There I go again defining myself using other people’s ideas. What do I want? What is best for me? And my answer changed. I wanted to go. I was still scared and nervous that I would chicken out at the last-minute. I know some of you think this rather silly to be scared of your own tribe, but letting myself be seen by the people I love is terribly difficult, because what if they woke up today and decide they don’t like me anymore. They can see all of me now and if they don’t like me after they have seen everything then what? Fear of pain, fear of rejection still creeps into my soul and takes away my courage to be seen.
So instead of retreating and hiding – my default – I sent them a group text. “Guys, I want to go tonight. But I am scared I will decide to hide here at home instead. Can someone please come pick me up so I can’t back out.” And guess what; someone came and picked me up. Everyone rallied behind me. Everyone understood.
I can’t live in my armor anymore. I have to live in the arena. My soul is the only thing that feels true any more. Just because my armor doesn’t fit doesn’t stop me from trying to slink back into it mind you.
Armor has many names…perfectionism, fear, hatred, addiction – the things we use to numb are armor. The things we use to hide ourselves it is all armor. You have to know what your armor is to know how to take it off and set it down.
I have had many people comment on my courage and bravery the last year and I never thought this was me. “I am just a girl,” I say. “I am just trying to take the next best step for me.” But I have taken time to define bravery for myself.
Being brave is….
not letting fear dictate your choices
not defining who you are by other people’s standards
taking your next right step
remembering who you are
remembering to ask for help
setting your armor down and stepping into the arena unprepared, raw and wide open.
I guess by that definition I am brave. But I am also just a girl trying to take the next right step. But I am not doing it in the quiet darkness, steeled against the world. I am doing it here, and in the arena, and out in the open for all to see. Some days that feels really difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So here is to big mistakes and bravery because I have more to make and more to learn.
My heart is heavy tonight as I write my life lessons post for late June/half way through July, but I still felt this need to write so here I am.
I am going to start with the heavy.
We need to pray people…
France, Dallas, Baton Rouge, the whole globe. We need to take a moment and pray.
We ate out tonight and the family at the table next to us bowed their heads and prayed and offered gratitude before their meal. I was struck by how this simple act was so profound and healing.
We need to pray.
We need to lean in together and pray. No color, all religious preferences, all sexual orientations, just gather as humans and pray for one another.
And now on to the lighter side of things just because I feel like if I keep thinking about the heavy and the world my children may inherit if things don’t change I don’t know what…
Where does the title legit come from? Well, I have this awesome friend, Cristal and she is always saying how things are “legit” and well life lessons and life in general are just legit; I mean you can’t get more real than every day life.
We need to laugh people…
Laughter is truly the best medicine for the soul. We need to laugh and play and just enjoy the moments that we do have when we can. (Sometimes you have kids crying and shit is legit and you cannot laugh at that moment, but you will laugh later and that is the thing to remember…laugh when you can laugh). For example, one of the twins locked themselves in the bathroom 4 years ago and then seriously did it again this week. I was quick to laugh because I learned from that first lesson and that nifty little key to unlock the door this time was a life saver.
But a couple of suggestions if I may…
Download Snap Chat and play with it. My son thinks I am whack because I don’t post anything on Snap Chat, I have it just for the filters. And I say so what?! Because seriously I have never laughed so hard. And really do I need another place to post crap?
Because that is too legit to quit…am I right?
And play like a kid because sometimes it is just freeing and fun…
Billy Beez, I highly recommend it. It’s legit.
The family that dabs together stays together…
Enough said, because they did this over and over and over and laughed and laughed.
Even dogs get excited to order Starbucks…
Seriously, I think that dog ordered a latte and a lemon scone. I hope he paid for the car behind him, because random acts of kindness are legit.
Wear the crazy leggings…
So I know, LuLaRoe is kinda cray, cray the way people hunt and shop and talk about unicorns. You don’t have to get sucked all the way in…but those buttery soft leggings, I mean, I pull those on and I feel 12 all over again. It’s the 90s with Full House and Rave Hairspray. And that is worth $25 and a little embarrassment when you are wearing them at the grocery store right?
But mostly do what it takes to get through…
Life is not fair. I know I have first world problems, but I empathize and understand that a lot of people do not. I know that things can be so hard. I deal with death on a daily basis and I know first hand what shattered lives look like. I know. I do.
I think we each have to do what we can to get through. To find our way.
For me, it’s knowing that I will teach my children to leave a place better than you found it, use their manners, do their best, chase their dreams and always help the person up behind them. To listen to other people’s stories.
I will work to make sure they take responsibility for their actions and pitch in and help out wherever they can. To teach them understanding and compassion in a world that so desperately needs it. And mostly to love them. But also to love my life and set the example. To be a person who shows not tells. To be a person that is afraid, but lives life any way.
And these sweet faces help keep me legit. Two of these faces turn 6 tomorrow. Two of these faces are closer to being a teen than a kid. All five of these faces are the best parts of my life. All five of these faces can drive me absolutely bat shit crazy and at the same time make my heart explode with adoration and unconditional love. These five faces get me through each day…
So I haven’t done a lessons post in awhile; I worry they are too preachy. I worry a lot. But you already know that. But I figured there are some things going on in my head these days that I have found a tad helpful that you might like to hear, too.
1. I am a notorious cancel-er…I mean I am worse than ABC right now. I try to juggle the balls of life and I tell you what I drop them like they are hot! I schedule get togethers or try to host things and then people say they will show up and then I am a terrible reminder or a date has to change because of a school function and then no one can come. So it ends up getting cancelled. I think I am going to just stop planning things ahead of time. It just isn’t possible with kids, school functions, work, sports, and sleep. So if you want to see me, people who know where I live, stop by with wine or coffee and I will start-up the fire pit and we will hang. I am a home body so I will be here. That is it, that is the deal from now on. You are invited always and we can hang here whenever since I am not planning any more get togethers. This is easier – flying by the seat of our pants kind of works around here so now I am applying it to hanging out with friends as well.
2. I am back on the wagon people. My fit bit thinks it has been stolen. I am on day 5 of exercise and have won badges and all kinds of fit bit announcements. It seriously didn’t know it had to work this hard with me. Of course I am waiting to weigh myself for several weeks because even though I am attempting to eat better there are occasions where chocolate peanut butter shakes or a scoop of ice cream may make it into the vicinity of my stomach. But sanity is important and these things keep me sane and happy so they stay.
3. Tomorrow’s aren’t guaranteed; we all know that. So my advice and the lesson that I am learning is don’t wait. Try the new thing. Get the Henna tattoo even if they are for kids. Seriously that is it – just do the fun thing. The car that spun out of control and almost hit me as I waited at a stop light just reaffirmed that there are no guarantees.
4. Find good people. I am so blessed. I have found amazing people. I have a tribe of friends and family that help with kids, listen to me whine, save the day, forgive me, and most of all love me just as I am. They are all authentic, kind, funny amazing people and I seriously could not do this life without them. My bunco group is the best group of gals around. I LOVE you all soooooo much! And to the moms that can make my day with just one look, you know you are, thank you!
5. A girl who changes her hair is ready to change her life…I died my hair pink. Not my whole head mind you; just a few highlights here and there. Many of you know this already, but I am sharing because the feedback has been mostly positive. And even the one day when I had to see my friend’s parents with pink hair and I felt 16 all over again, they were super awesome about it which reminded me that I AM an adult. Even adults dye their hair crazy colors sometimes. But seriously, go for it. If it is something you have always wanted to do and have not; if you can (providing it is workplace acceptable) go for it! P.S. pink does fade, but it was AWESOME while it lasted.
See you all want hang out with me. I know, I know. I am a pretty cool introvert. Don’t worry there is a lot of room around the fire pit.
I hope you are all hanging in there and living the dream.
P.S. Enjoy the sweet moments in life, too. I can’t believe I have one summer left until these two are in school all day! I literally just threw up a little thinking about it.
Sometimes on the way to an authentic, joyful life signs land in your lap and if you aren’t paying attention they reach out and grab you. This happened to me today.
BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert came to my possession through a dear friend. Now this friend, mind you, is someone whose opinion matters a great deal. Ironically, she is also the same friend that tells me that it is none of my business what other people think of me. So apparently I am not supposed to care what she thinks, but I do. I can’t help it.
This friend is someone who lives fully with grace, passion and compassion. I am incredibly fortunate that she has welcomed me as a friend. Today, I was reminded again just how fortunate I am to have her in my life.
I woke up before everyone this morning, took a breath, and filled my coffee cup. I was so happy to have some quiet time to read more BIG MAGIC ( I am capitalizing this title because not only is it capitalized on the cover; it kind of lends itself to capitalization because BIG MAGIC is kind of a living thing all its own).
Any way, I get to the section about Permission and Ms. Gilbert poignantly states that one does not need permission to live a creative life. She even gives stellar advice on how to speak to “your darkest interior voices” if they try to sidetrack you. I am starting to see how this book might be speaking directly to me.
In the next chapter, Elizabeth (because who knows one day we may be friends), discusses how “[m]aybe you fear you are not original enough” and I get another pang, like hmm maybe Elizabeth is speaking to me. She concludes the chapter with, “[s]hare what you are driven to share. If it’s authentic enough, believe me – it will feel original.”
As I read that last sentence it hits me full on, not only is this book sending me a message, but this sweet friend with her sweet note tacked at the front is sending me one, too.
I have had conversations with her about these very things, and some I have not. Some she must have read here in this little blog. But what a beautiful, wonderful thing to be seen and heard and then gifted such a magical message.
We can often sabotage ourselves into “not worthy” or “not enough-ness” thinking. It is just holding us back. In fact, my inner voice often keeps me from joy and authenticity.
Twice this weekend, I have been with friends. The first I was open and shared and we had a great conversation. After the evening ended all I could think was shoot, I said too much. I over shared and there is no way this person will ever want to hang out again. Then last night, my “darkest inner voices” kept me trapped and quiet. “Don’t speak” they said. “You have nothing to share. You will just sound stupid” they shouted.
These inner voices are not helping! They keep me distant and even make me look RUDE! I need to listen to the BIG MAGIC and if I have something I am driven to share; I should share. If I feel unoriginal it doesn’t matter; the idea might be out in the universe already, but not with my unique fingerprint attached to it.
So I got the message this morning. These dark inner voices keep me from cultivating relationships, creativity and success! I need to go Elizabeth Gilbert on them and believe in myself. Be open, work hard and be kind. Choose creativity, compassion, and connection.
Or if I need to I can start small. Start, Stuart Smalley (from Saturday Night Live fame) in fact:
“I am a good mom.
I am a good friend.
I am a writer.
I am grace.
I am compassion.
I am worthy of joy and connection.
And doggone it people like me.”
I will do better to keep my dark inner voices in check from now on.
May you also be blessed with the kindness of a dear friend who believes in you and bestows upon you the gift of reminding you that you are in fact worthy.
You scan Facebook to see what’s going on with family and friends and you notice your friends are celebrating your friend’s birthday and it hits you that you aren’t there…you were never invited.
It shouldn’t matter, but it hurts a little any way learning where you stand with people.
Yesterday I wrote that 2016 is going to be better and it is because I am going to be authentic and uncensored. When I write here I write what I am feeling and lately that has been wrapped in censorship because I was trying to always show the shiny side of things, but we all know that isn’t true. Things are not always shiny. Life hurts sometimes. It is the truth we want to read about.
It’s my fault I wasn’t invited. I am a bad friend, I admit it. My family comes first and I make little time for people outside of that. I would rather be writing or reading or binge watching Netflix than sitting with another human outside my family, but it still stings to not be included.
The good news is we get over it and move on. And the bright side is you know where you stand. You know exactly where you are in friendship status with those people that don’t include you. That is a really good thing.
Sometimes being uninvited is a blessing in disguise.
My friend, Katrina, is to put it mildly…amazing. She recently attended a writing retreat where she was asked to write about a life changing experience/person and she chose to write about a reading she had with me. I thought it might be interesting for you to read about a reading from the other side of the table. The following is a guest post by Katrina.
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, photographs splayed out across its scratched wooden laminate surface. My friend Michelle sits opposite me, furrowing her brow and deep in thought. If anyone had come across us,we looked like we were in the middle of a scrapbooking jam.
When Michelle speaks, it’s clear we are not creating a collage from my photos.
“Your uncle really loves this photo. He wants you to remember him like this. He was really happy on his wedding day and he’s proud of his beautiful head of hair.”
I laugh as I look at the 1977 photo of him with a beautiful head of blonde hair, wearing a white tuxedo with bellbottom flared trousers; I stop as I remember the last image I saw of his head as he lay in his coffin at the funeral home: shiny, cold, and rigid.
Disbelief claws its way into my mind but quickly dissipates as Michelle goes on to tell me more messages my uncle has for me, ranging from comical to mundane to knowing some of my deeply personal and never before verbalized thoughts.
The week before Michelle and I were having lunch when the topic of ghosts came up. She says she believes in them. I say I don’t, but I press her for more information out of curiosity. She confesses she has been able to see, hear, and talk to spirits since she can remember. She’s never told me this before and I am flattered she trusts me with such a vulnerable confession. Michelle goes on, telling me she has learned to switch it off and would prefer to live her life without that being a part of it. I ask her some more questions and we say goodbye.
Two days later Michelle calls me to say that our lunch conversation temporarily opened her to spirit communication and there’s a man who is adamant he speak to me. He gives no other details other than his appearance – a full head of blonde hair and some bellbottom pants. Those details don’t ring any bells in my consciousness and I tell her than man must be there for someone else. I hear her pause, then say, “He didn’t want to have to show me this, but he’s showing me a tree was involved in his death.”
Tears fill my eyes as I instantly connect this is my Uncle LaDon, who died unexpectedly in a freak accident two years ago when I was six months pregnant with my daughter. He had been pruning a large tree when a massive branch fell at just the right angle to his unprotected head, killing him instantly.
I rarely speak of him so Michelle has never heard me talk of his death. I carry grief from losing him and guilt from not seeing him more the last time I had the chance ; those feelings are still fresh and cut me at my core.
As I look back across Michelle across my kitchen table, I’m struck by how “normal” she looks but what incredible things are coming from her mouth. Good friends since starting graduate school together four years prior, I see her as my peer in many ways – a mom, an elementary school teacher, a wife, and a fun friend to play Bunco with. But she clearly has an amazing gift as well.
Michelle delivers messages that evening from my uncle that validate our close bond, that tell me he’s with me all the time, that he’s happy in his new existence, and he loves me. The guilt I had previously carried in my soul dissipates, with an almost physical feeling of weight lifting off me. I still feel sad I can’t see him, but my grief is transformed knowing he’s still with me.
Michelle nervously looks at me across the table as we finish the reading and says, “I never know if I’m just imagining all this stuff or not.” I am in awe of what she is able to do and wonder how she can possibly doubt herself after being spot on about every single thing she said to me over the past two hours. My whole belief system has just been challenged and awakened in the most significant way it ever could be. In my heart I know this is just the beginning of her journey to embrace her gifts, continuing to transform my life and changing the lives of others for years to come.
Did you miss me? I know you did; I know you could barely stand the suspense I have built being on hiatus this past little while.
I should be at a reading tonight, but I am sick. I am 37 sick, which is different from 25 sick. 25 sick you can pop some DayQuil and still conquer the world. At 25 you can medicate and barely feel sick. 37 sick is different. You pop DayQuil and still need a nap. Your body aches (that also may be because of the fall I had yesterday – which by the way is also different at 37). So in my 37 year-old sick, medicated haze I felt it might be time to spread some of my 37 year-old wisdom, which again is different from 25 year-old wisdom, and by different I do mean better. At least wisdom gets better with age.
1. Beverly Hills Troop is the way to go…
So my daughter is a Girl Scout. This year was her first camporee. I now know I missed out on nothing as a non-Girl Scout. Camping is not my cup of tea. I love nature and smores, but I am more of a let’s go for a hike and then sleep in a warm bed with a solid roof over our head kind of girl. I did however get the tent up all by myself! And it stayed up all night long. I know, I know I have a plethora of miraculous secret super powers.
2. Keep things big and small…
Most of us I am sure have a little box of special keepsakes, but if you do not; you should start to put one together. I have kept cards from birthdays, letters from friends and yes the shirt my husband was wearing the day we met is also in this box along with the balloon he gave me on my first birthday we celebrated together.
Now that you are done gagging, let me reiterate that you should save things big and small. I went through my box the other day and came across a card that my friend’s mom had given me for my 16th birthday. The memories that came flooding back as I read this card brought a smile to my day. These little mementos are what become our priceless treasures.
3. There is so much more to do than play video games…
If your house is like ours the kiddos are always wanting to play on electronics. It is a constant battle to keep them entertained without having to pull out the electronics. My advice is get outside – we have invested in a trampoline just to lure them to the outdoors. But also, go places – we do this as often as we can. I recommend the Children’s Museum in Monterey. I especially liked the life-size Operation game myself.
It is also fun to find other past times – my kids like to play Life and Mancala. I also recently purchased a puzzle from Amazon and my oldest and I spent a good 90 minutes of quality time putting it together.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I am any less addicted to Candy Crush or Solitaire on my iPad. Nor does this mean that my kids do not play video games – it just means we strive for a more well-rounded day.
4. Make time for friends and family…
Believe me I get it; I am an introvert to beat all introverts. Sometimes even going out with people I want to see is a challenge. I also know I am repeating myself, yes even though I am 37 I can remember that this is a lesson I have talked about before. Making friends and letting people into your life is huge. It is definitely quality not quantity that you should be concerned about, but it is important to show up for those you care about no matter what.
5. Be yourself…
“To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day, to make you everybody but yourself-means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight-and never stop fighting.” E. E. Cummings.
This past week I was at a team meeting out-of-town and good old self-doubt popped into my head second guessing things I said and did and reliving moments when I said and did things and then this new wiser 37-year-old voice piped up and said, “what the heck, you were you and if that was something that was too much or too little for anyone else there than you narrowed down the pool of people who accept you for you.” And then I did a wonderous thing; I stopped reliving the moments of the meeting and moved on to the present. I am pretty sure the whole world shuddered a little with this earth shattering revelation. You felt it I am sure; it was that HUGE. Be yourselfANDbe at peace with being yourself. It doesn’t get better than that.
It’s been awhile I know. There is a lot happening in our fourytale lives. So much learning going on it is enough to make my head spin. In my quest to the best possible adult I can be (so that I set an example for my children; walk the walk and all that jazz) and to continually be authentic to the rest of the world (as opposed to hiding myself like a hermit in public places) I take a moment to jot down and share these lessons with all of you. It makes sense to me that there is someone out there that stumbles along the same pathways. So I share my musings to help that same someone; even if it is really just to make me feel a little less alone.
1. Let go of FEAR…
FEAR is the number one reason that we stop in our tracks and don’t take that leap of faith into something new. I am going to go ELSA on all your butts and tell you to “LET IT GO”, queue music and the throwing off of the cape.
Small amounts of fear of course keep us safe or a little bit of nerves keeps us on our toes. I am not saying live with complete reckless abandon; you can not blame me for what you do in Vegas on your next trip.
What I am saying is take that next step, try that new place, go to that movie by yourself if you really want to see it. Fear leads to regret and that is a heavy weight that most of us carry. Let go of fear before you are 40.
2. Be happy in your size 14 jeans or size 18 or size 2 or whatever…
Being healthy is important and that is something I still struggle with. But bottom line find happiness and enoughness right now! Life is short. Choose happy and move towards that no matter what size you are. Life is too short to wallow.
3. If you are an introvert…
Quiet is rare and much-needed if you are an introvert. Do not feel guilty for needing it. Extroverts are usually a part of an introvert’s life somewhere; their best friend, spouse, or even their child. These extroverts may make you feel a bit guilty for your need to have quiet to recharge. Don’t let them strip that quiet time away from you. Find it, savor it, and you will be a better person for taking that time to yourself.
4. Don’t let your children take life too seriously…
Let’s take sports at 10 years old for example. As I watch my son run sprints, do push ups, and coaches fume at each other during and after a ball game I think to myself that all this is just a little too TURBO for kids. The parents get way too involved in the need to win and succeed. There is a lot of fun missing in kids sports these days. We need to remember that while kids are capable of a great deal, there is something to be said for just letting them enjoy this part of their life. Adulting is really not a ton of fun all the time. I mean, HELLO – mortgages, fixing and maintaining cars, bills, junk mail, rent, JOBS – EVERY SINGLE DAY JOBS – there is no SPRING BREAK in adulthood. So letting them be little is a bit too priceless for us to allow 10 year olds to treat their baseball season like a career.
5. Not really a lesson but…
So this isn’t really a lesson I guess, but maybe make sure your toddler age kids go to the bathroom before you sit down to eat – like an hour before. I swear to all that is holy in this world that every time I sit down to eat one of my twin boys needs help wiping their butt. It really should be a better weight loss plan, but somehow that isn’t working out for me either. But I think I am just passing this along as a word to the wise. If you can avoid butt wiping at meals, try. Maybe other people know this already, but somehow these two boys make a difficult task daily.
6. Trust your instincts…
Unless your instincts tell you to jump off a bridge without a bungee cord, trust your instincts. Lately I have had to do a great deal of that. I have had to listen to my intuition follow it and hope for the best. Each and every time it has led me to the right decision. (Yes, for those skeptics out there I just jinxed myself and you can read about that in my next post). No, but really, listen to your soul it knows what is best for you. Follow it and you will be so surprised where it can lead you. The things – friendships, healing, growth, spirituality that I have found by following my soul has been life changing.
Thanks for stopping by and letting me indulge a little by sharing my recent lesson learning experiences with you. LIVE today and ENJOY.
“The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life and make you see sun where you once saw clouds. The people that believe in you so much, you start to believe in you too. The people that love your simply for being you. The once in a lifetime kind of people.” – Unknown
Katrina is a wife, mother of three, second grade teacher, church youth group leader, friend, and an extraordinary person. When Dorothy nominated Katrina I was 100% on board because Katrina is so deserving of holiday cheer. She truly is a once in a lifetime kind of person.
I have known Katrina for almost a decade and never once have I seen her unhappy or depressed. She is always looking at the glass half full. Katrina has run the Nike Half Marathon several times all to raise money for the Leukemia in honor of one of her former students who lost his fight with the disease. She has traveled with her church to build homes for others. She is actively involved in her community and church. And best of all she is a great wife, mother, and friend.
One of the things that I find extraordinary about Katrina is that she is the mom of a mostly non-verbal, 5 year-old autistic boy. With her overflowing plate Katrina still does everything she can to provide the best resources for him.
Last year her son was part of the Everyone Plays photo shoot that is put on by Infantino and Step 2. Kelle Hampton from the blog Enjoying the Small Things wrote about the experience in her blog here.
The two photos below are a couple of my favorites from the photo shoot and they are originally seen on Kelly Hampton’s blog so if you click them it will take you to that original source.
Sending the message that we are all the same underneath is a beautiful one – that no matter what may make us unique or individual we all play the same. Wonderful and breath-taking and it is so fitting that Katrina was a part of something so important. She takes initiative to make the world a better place and makes you better just for having known her.
Katrina also posted this TED talk on her Facebook Page and it gives some insight to the autistic mind, but also reminds us that “normal” is not a compliment. And furthermore that striving to be “normal” is really something we should avoid. Instead we should celebrate our uniqueness. If you have 6 minutes it is worth viewing:
Thank you, Dorothy for nominating Katrina. Thank you, Katrina for just being you. You make the world brighter just by being in it.
Warm wishes and lots of cheer to last you the whole year through,
Sonya is the mom of two littles. We met several years ago when our daughters started dance class together. Sonya is always, always kind, compassionate and she rarely ever complains.
A couple of months ago she needed to ask a favor, something she also rarely does. In fact, it was probably only the second favor ever in four years. In asking this favor she revealed that she had to have a minor surgery.
But not even a few weeks later, she hurt her foot. She walked on it for over a week in pain, see she never complains, until it was unbearable. Come to find out she had in fact broken her heel.
So in a cast she has run her girls to rehearsals, and even volunteered at this weekend’s dance recital even though she didn’t have to.
Sonya is a great mother, super friend and just one of the kindest most wonderful people you could ever meet. I am so glad that she was nominated to be a part of holiday cheer this year.
Wishing Sonya a much smoother end of the year and a very healthy 2015,
Cheer Day 6 is dedicated to Jolanta. She was nominated by her dear friend, Bettina. Bettina took a moment to share why she thought Jolanta should be one of this year’s nominees.
Jolanta recently separated. “Knowing she had to take this step to head into the right direction in life was surely hard. But Jola is a very determined person. I admire her personality and that she does it all: full-time working mom, caring parent and hot chick. This mom recently lost over 60 lbs. Her determination to do that baffles me. I wish I had half her endurance and strength and determination.”
I completely agree, Bettina, Jolanta is one extraordinary person.
Wishing Jolanta much happiness this holiday season,
I guess the good thing you guys is that I am learning something here. Slowly, oh so slowly these lessons are sinking in and leaving me a stronger, wiser human. Not to say I am not making some of the same mistakes twice, I am human after all, but I catch myself in the mistake now and say, “Uh-oh, here I go again.” and I redirect myself, you guys.
That is it, like parenting a toddler, I redirect myself and that is still learning. Catching yourself, being aware and making quicker steps to resolve what is happening. And so with all this wiser knowledge I bring you my November lessons (the wiser in this sentence is intended to be sarcastic, we really need to design some sarcastic font):
1. All the things
So I have a problem that I know all my readers are aware of; I try to do all the things. Before you scold me, listen. I have done all the things so far in life until recently. That is what tricks us into thinking we can do all the things.
As a kid we do all the things. We play, go to school, have friends, spend time with family, play a sport maybe and it is mostly seemingly successful. As a young adult we do the same things and just juggle in some bill paying, house cleaning and in a short time we swap out school and a low paying job for just a job. Then slowly we add in a relationship (for some of us, some people don’t want a serious relationship and that is totally fine) and possibly some kids.
So let’s get to that part for a second. I got married, went back to grad school while I was teaching and had a baby. Now I shifted to working part-time while I did this the second year, but I still juggled all the balls pretty successfully. I added another child and took on an out of the home full-time job and still juggled all the balls pretty successfully. See this tricky life, making you think you can juggle all the things.
Then, I went and had twins. Wha-bam! Balls started falling to the ground all over the place. I was surviving said juggling failures and learning that life is about learning from mistakes and there is beauty in the mess, blah, blah, blah. I know I shouldn’t blah, blah over the sentimental wise stuff, but you have heard all that before in my previous lessons.
So here is where, I got tricked you guys…I had been juggling all the things, I started dropping a few balls thinking oh you are supposed to drop a few it’s okay, and then I started to add more things. A blog, a turtle, a dog, Holiday Cheer, a side business and then it became just sheer chaos.
So here I am neck-deep in the chaos and I am not sure I can let anything go, but taking care of myself at this point. Those of you who see me on a regular basis are seeing that is the case because my weight is back on these days. Mind you, I am also writing this at 4 in the morning while drinking a coke – yep that ball has dropped my friends, and like Jack Handy says, when you drop your keys in hot lava let them go, let them go because they are gone!
I have made some mistakes at work this past week that I am not happy about; mistakes I would not have made four and a half years ago. I wallowed in them a bit, but I learned from them and adjusted things so as not to make those mistakes in the future.
Giving up one of my other things though isn’t really an option for me. I love being a mother. The kids are for the most part doing pretty darn fabulous I might say. Two successful parent conferences, and the twins speech therapist wants me to teach parenting classes, so I must be doing something right even if I do forget to comb both the twins hair most days. I love being a wife and adore my husband. Honey please stay married to me even though I am terrible about refilling the soap – I know that drives you crazy and that you have to do all the dishes all the time – I love you dearly I am just a bad juggler.
I love writing this blog. It is sporadic at times and that is because I am juggling other things, but this is important to me. Writing in here keeps me real, keeps me open and ensures that I continue to shatter the walls of perfection, by just being who I am out loud for all to see. Maybe in me doing that others will, too. Take off your masks and let’s all just be bad jugglers together and help each other pick up the dropped balls.
My side business is my dream job, as hard as it is at times, so I have to keep pursuing that; even if it never pans out more than what I am doing now.
And the day job keeps my family fed, a roof over our heads, and really is a fantastic job because I am able to work from home. I mean really I can’t let either of my jobs go by the wayside.
So, I have decided that I may not be able to do all things well, but I have to keep trying to do all the things I have right now the very best I can. That is all I can do, that and make sure I never let myself get a puppy again. She is cute, but that one really tipped the scales in my time management.
2. Find your tribe
Girls weekend update, for those of you that haven’t heard – it was glorious.
Friendship has always been tricky for me. When we moved away from my soul mate, best friend in the fourth grade I didn’t ever let myself get close to another human like I did with her. This past two years, I have worked to make some solid friendships and rekindle some important, older ones. I have found a tribe of friends that I cannot live without.
These fabulous, amazing, kind, forgiving women are all so important to me. They support my craziness, love me any way (that is a big one because you see from the above lesson I am a horrible juggler which means I can sometimes seem like a flaky friend), and they show up all the time.
I had two of them check in on me this week just to check in! Amazing feeling.
The husband asked what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I told him I wanted to throw a little party and he about fell off the couch. I am pretty sure the look of shock on his face matched the one he had when my obstetrician told him we were having twins.
But, that is just it; I can’t imagine having a birthday without my people. My people are so much a part of my life now. I love all my people. So if you don’t get an invitation it is because I am a bad juggler and do what my people do: just invite yourselves over for dinner, really that is what my people do and I love them even more for it.
3. It is none of your business what people think of you
One of my dear friends tells me and others all the time, “It is none of your business what other people think of you.” For a while I have to admit this saying bothered me. Not the way that you think either, I wasn’t worried so much about doing certain things because of what people would think of me; I mean I leave the house in sweatpants and a ponytail. I was more worried that people wouldn’t think I was kind. Being kind to others is important to me and that was my worry. I thought if I didn’t always do the right thing by way of being kind or courteous to other people then that was an issue and so I worried about what people thought because I wanted to make sure their needs were being met.
But here is the thing; I am constantly telling my daughter to stop telling everyone else what to do and do what she needs to do and everything will fall into place. That is the same thing as not making it your business what other people think of you.
How is it the same? Well if you just do the best you can and always try to be the kind of person that you want to be then everything will fall into place.
See I have worked at being the kind of human I want my kids to become and in doing that I have made friends and rebuilt old friendships. I have started giving back to other people and always try to put kindness first. Do I sometimes still lose my temper or put my frustration before my compassion – of course. But I try to remedy any issues that may cause and I have learned that even when you make mistakes people see you for what you really are anyway. Be yourself and worry about yourself, the rest will fall into place.
4. Personal Grace
This one is simply said, but difficult to put into practice. I mentioned earlier how I made some mistakes this week, well offering myself grace was incredibly difficult. I had one of my worst bouts with depression in twenty years. I couldn’t offer myself grace or compassion. I was angry, frustrated, disappointed, and well I felt plain worthless. I took that out on those I loved most because when I was feeling those things it was clear to those I live with. They saw it. They felt it.
If instead I I had just said to myself – “you made a mistake, how do you fix it? Okay, let’s fix it and not make the same mistake again” and then moved on – no big deal. It was because I wallowed in it, let myself be so disappointed and frustrated that caused all the trouble.
Grace, offer yourself grace for your mistakes and it really is an easier road.
And that my dear readers wraps up my November lessons. I need to keep on keeping on, offer myself grace because really when I am juggling all the things that is pretty impressive and when something drops I pick it back up again – also pretty impressive. So my life is carefree compared to the struggles of others; it is still my life and my struggles therefore it is okay if I wade through some days instead of surfing the tide. My wise friend who tells me not to concern myself with what others think of me also tells me that everyone is just doing the best they can and I think she might be right about that, too.
Doing the best I can each day,
P.S. I know this shouldn’t be a P.S. but seeing a baby being born is one of the best things ever. My sister had her second baby this month and she let me stay in the delivery room – I know she is amazing – and I was able to see this sweet baby come into the world. Unbelievable, so earth shatteringly cool.
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
― Steve Maraboli
Holiday Cheer Day 5 brought some much-needed cheer to Michelle. Michelle was nominated by Bettina. Bettina took a moment to put into her own words why she felt Michelle should be a recipient:
“Michelle is a single mom who loves her kids so much. Being separated recently, she took all the ups and downs in life with grace and I am so proud of her for holding her head high and sticking to her gut when it came to life decisions. Going through a separation is hard, but she also lost her father and brother to cancer in less than a year. She has been through so much pain in the past year and I wish her lots of happiness for the future.”
Today I am so grateful that these two friends had a moment to share how they inspire one another. I know that they spent Thanksgiving together and really are family to one another.
Letting those that nominated this year deliver the gifts has been so rewarding. Bettina wrote me last night and I just have to share:
And now my friends, I will call all of you who have helped put this together the “Cheer Squad”. I can not tell you how grateful I am to all of you.
But, I think Michelle described it best in her Facebook post last night:
Wishing you a year full of happiness to keep your cup running over, Michelle!