A Seat at the Table

A Seat at the Table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer was simple.

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

Be still and know that I am God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is okay…

to feel lonely sometimes

to be scared

to be nervous

to try new things

to decide not to try new things

to live in the RIGHT NOW

to let the past go

to let the future be what it will be

to hide when I need to

to show up

to believe I am meant for great things

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

to use my armor when I need it

to live outside the lines

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

to believe in miracles and magic

to laugh, live and love

to always take my seat at the table

to be my own advocate

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

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

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

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Mean 

Mean 

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

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

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

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

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

Kids say hurtful things. Adults say hurtful things. 

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

But…will mean ever never stop?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time,

Michelle

Scared

Scared

In a weeks time I have written about bravery and grace and just being okay with the falls we experience in life and yet no matter how much I try there is an undercurrent of fear in my heart.

It’s okay to be scared right? Lately I am scared of everything. Okay longer than lately; it started when I was born. I think I was born with extra sensitivity to the world and somehow that made me more afraid of the world; well maybe not the world, but the energy and emotions in it.

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I am scared of the little and the big things.

For starters, I am scared that no matter how much I empty my heart and pour it into my writing that this blog will continue to be nothing more than a diary that is more important to me than anyone else, which is okay, but I want to be a writer so much it hurts. So much that sometimes I run and hide from my own writing and I don’t write because no matter how hard I try or much I write it will never be good enough for anyone else to read.

I am scared that no matter how much I know that God loves me and believes that I am enough;  I will never feel like I am enough. That the weight I continue to feel will only continue to grow – this weight that I feel has already manifested itself into the weight that I carry and I can feel myself waving the white flag as I am crushed somewhere underneath it all. I am scared that no matter how much I want to be seen; that no one really sees me at all.

I stopped watching the news a decade ago because if it hurt my heart then it definitely could damage my tiny son’s ears and heart, too. So off went the news, because I was so scared and my heart was so hurt by the toxins that spewed from it. There had to be better things to report. But now when we are praising men for sitting during our national anthem, when our police officers are seen as the criminals and men are shot in the street for the color of their skin and whole groups of people are killed around the world for their ethnicity or beliefs and our leaders seem filled with more darkness than light maybe there isn’t better news to report. And that is scary. So scary that when I think about the world I am terrified that no matter how kind I am or how much good I try to put into the world that the darkness in it will swallow me up whole and not just me, everything that I hold sacred; everything and everyone that I love.

Scared doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about being a parent. Failing seems to be the name of the game. I know I have taught them manners and I know they are the kids that will help other kids and be kind; that part of life I think they understand. They are really great kids. But this year my kindergarteners have been kicked, choked, pushed, shoved, yanked and called names with words I don’t even allow out of my own mouth. My daughter continues to try to navigate a place where mean is the norm. That scares the crap out of me. I have had to teach them how to fend for themselves and that shouldn’t even exist at their age. What in the heck is happening in the world that our children are behaving this way? This scares me to death. Haven’t we come to be a civilized people where we don’t have to fear for our lives every time we walk out into the world?

The chaos is gobbling up the innocence of our world. The chaos and darkness are pushing out the light at a fierce pace and I can’t help but feel helpless. And that terrifies me. How can I help my own children understand a world that scares the shit out of me? Scares me to the point that I can’t read the news anymore either, because what I read leaves me shaky and nauseous.

Yesterday as we drove home from school the kids started to talk about how they feel things they can’t see. How the current of energy runs through them. Other people’s energy. This scares me to death. They are like me, extra feel-y. I still struggle with not letting other people’s energy invade my space, my emotions, my thoughts. How am I going to teach my littles not only how to fend off actual physical threats but also emotional, maybe even spiritual ones too? They feel this same unbalanced chaotic energy in the world that I do and can’t explain how or why it is hurting them.

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I know we have to go forward and love one another and do good and continue to live our lives to the fullest and that the darkness wins when we feel fear, but sometimes that isn’t enough to stop me from feeling it. Sometimes I am engulfed in fear and feel shaky all day.

I know people who the absolute worst has happened in their lives and they continue to take one step forward; sometimes because life forces them to, but they do it. I am inspired by that and I know that despite my fear that I will continue on as I have been and do my best to do good any way, but I feel better admitting the fear.

Maybe if we are afraid together something good can come of that. Maybe acknowledging the fear leads to a way to face those things we fear and conquer them. Maybe…

Scared but hopeful,

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Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Each year I do a fundraiser and then deliver gifts to 25 people (1 each day in December) to people who need a little extra cheer. These people usually have touched, inspired, or changed someone’s life in our community (or far away – we have delivered to Denver, Utah, and well all over actually) and they are nominated to receive one of the gifts.

I recently received an email about one of our recipients from last year. I didn’t write about her last December because tragedy struck her family just after she was nominated. I waited. I wanted her to have some space to heal and even now I am going to call her Kate to protect her identity.

Kate and her husband, like many couples, had to do extra work to become parents. They have miscarried several times and decided to take one final attempt last year. Kate and her husband were thrilled because she was expecting twins. She was put on bed rest in the second trimester. At the beginning of December tragedy struck when she lost her babies; twin girls.

The person that nominated her still wanted to deliver something, but the basket that had been prepared for an expectant mother on bed rest would no longer do at all. So I found a small business on Etsy where the woman creates angel necklaces for women who have miscarried. The name of the shop is Blue Room Gems (you can check it out by clicking here). Creating a necklace for her seemed perfect. So a new basket was crafted with this handmade jewelry and a hand-made throw. My dear friend ensured that this was delivered at just the right time to Kate.

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Necklace from Blue Room Gems.

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Well, Kate was so touched by the basket and the gift that she took our idea and continued it. She began to turn her grief into energy to help others, as grieving mothers tend to do.

She began creating and delivering baskets of her own to women in hospitals who were on journeys similar to her own. She wanted to gift them hope and love; just as she felt she had been gifted.

The blessings continued and Kate’s story evolved and grew and the hope she felt led her to try again for a baby. Kate is expecting and everything is going smoothly as of now. Continue to pray for her and her family and I promise to keep you updated.

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A display at “Kate’s” house with the framed phrase we included with her gift.

Kate inspired me to keep Holiday Cheer going and this year I want to help as many people as we can. I am shooting for 31 nominations so that we can gift a nominee every day in December. I know we can make it a success this year, too. This is such a wonderful way to give back; because like Kate so many of the recipients pay it forward. This sparks so many to keep giving and hope continues to grow. Our world needs hope and so here we go again with our  3rd annual fundraiser – 31 Days of Holiday Cheer!

It is easy – YOU dear readers, nominate a person you think is worthy and YOU my dear readers can donate, make, or just share this with others so that we can make this the most successful Holiday Cheer EVER!

So how does this work:

To nominate someone: It can be anyone, adult or child, male or female. The person nominated just needs to be someone who could use some cheer or just needs some hope breathed into their life. To nominate someone is easy – just email me a short paragraph about the person, with their name and why you think they should be a recipient. Then include something you think they might need this holiday season. Email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com.

To donate: I will have several “parties” that will allow you to purchase gifts for the holidays or just for yourself or you can purchase for one of our nominees. Then I use the proceeds of these parties to purchase gifts for our nominees. There will be an online Stella  and Dot party and a Thirty-one party online. I will host a LulaRoe pop-up for those close by. And last but not least the things that worked best last year anyone can donate gift cards, cash, or even sponsor a recipient by purchasing something directly for them. Again, email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com to arrange for donations to be collected and Like my facebook page for details about the parties.

Get others involved: Share this post with your friends, family, friends of friends, and community. I know if we have enough involvement we can raise more donations and help people even more than we did last year.

What do we need to beat? Last year we collected over $2000 in cash and gift card donations. Last year we purchased nearly $2000 in gifts and other goods. All together with hand made donations and other purchased items we topped over $5000 in gifts for the recipients.

Can we go bigger this year? Can we do 31 days of Holiday Cheer? YES WE CAN! 

I can’t wait to see what happens this year,

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Big mistakes and bravery

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.

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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.

Fear not.Remember –

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Legit

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…

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Enough said, because they did this over and over and over and laughed and laughed.

Even dogs get excited to order Starbucks…

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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?

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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…

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Until next time,

Michelle

Life breathers

Life breathers

In a world that always has fire-breathing dragons we need life-breathers, too.

Yesterday was like any other day; work steadily flowing in and projects to complete, kids to love and instruct, bickering to manage, meals to prepare, guilt and stress to squelch, and of course the echoes of the outside world that sneak into our lives via radio and TV. But as life does there were some pretty amazing moments yesterday and a wonderful visit from a beautiful, sincere friend. Those are the life breathers, the moments that give my life the pick up that it needs, the moments that matter more than the noise.

Lately the world has been super topsy-turvy. But, somewhere in the world it has always been super topsy-turvy. I am like you though, I feel a bit like my nerve endings are open to the world and when I watch the news or read an article about politics I am left feeling anxious and disappointed and saddened by those people in the world whose poor choices hurt other people.

The thing that gives me hope are life breathers, the moments and people who remind me that there is love, courage, kindness, and just plain good in the world. For me yesterday when things were getting a bit crazy and I had sat at the computer long enough and the kids had bickered long enough, I dragged them on a bike ride. My daughter was less than happy about it to say the least.

As we peddled along, and she sulked along, her brothers began to laugh and smile in the open air. I praised their attitudes and got a, “WOW, mom! You are the worst mom ever!” It stung, it always does. But, then it also made me laugh. If I am getting under her skin and holding her accountable for her behavior I am doing my job. And for a moment I thought about how so many moms and dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, and uncles are all trying to do their job giving a child the things they need even when it is tough love so that the world can be filled with people who are compassionate, thoughtful, responsible, and well just plain good.

That in itself was a life breather, that thought filled me with hope for our world, reminded me that there is so much good out there.

We came home and my parents stopped by. They are leaving on a cruise and wanted to give the boys their birthday gifts. Just watching them interact with the boys and the joy everyone had at just being together…that was a life breather. And to top it off, the goofy moment when I was trying to get the Spiderman silly string figured out so that it would spray correctly and accidentally squirted it right at my dad’s face and the ceiling; that was a life breather. We both laughed so hard. It felt good to laugh that hard. Life is funny and that is a life breather. We need to laugh.

We sent them on their way and I filled the dinner table with plates of food I prepared; a home-cooked meal, and that was a life breather. Sitting all together as a family over food I prepared. It felt good to breathe in that life moment. It buoyed me up and reminded me how to let the little things carry the same weight as the big things, maybe even more sometimes. I tend to let my mistakes carry the most weight; in fact sometimes I think my actual body weight is proportional to the guilt I feel about what I mess up in life. It is important to allow the moments of success fill you up, too.

At at the end of the evening my dear, wonderfully vulnerable, honest and real friend came by in her pajamas. I was in heaven. That was such a life breather. She had a terrible, horrible, no good bad day and came to seek a few moments of refuge with little old me; I was almost in tears I felt so honored and thankful. We talked until midnight. Sitting and talking with her reminded me just how much people need other people. We need to be seen and loved and lifted up; it breathes life into us like nothing else can. It puts the fires out when we stop and see one another. When we stop and listen to each other’s stories and offer meaningful exchange, we change the world for the better.

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The bottom line is that life breathers can be little moments of happiness, peace, joy, sanctuary, ah-ha moments, or life breathers can be other people who love us unconditionally or the best part is we can be a life breather for someone else, or everyone else we meet.

Now, I know no one is perfect and thank goodness we aren’t. We would never learn anything or be even the slight bit interesting if everyone were perfect. The point being, we can’t always be life breathers, everyone once in a great while can have a fire-breathing dragon moment, that is just the way it is. But if we are life breathers most of the time what a wonderful world it would be; and what a wonderful world it is because if we really stop and pay attention and drown out the noise of the media saying, “Look here, look here” and we chose to look for the life breathers instead of the fire breathing dragons; I think you will find what I have found, there are way more life breathers in the world; way more.

In a world that always has fire-breathing dragons we need life breathers, too.

Until next time,

me

Not too proud for do-overs and other random musings…

Not too proud for do-overs and other random musings…

Two blogs in a row people…What!? What!?

I know I can hear your cheers through the computer and yes, it is a miracle.

Well I guess because the twins are going to officially be big kids and we have been pretty busy up in our hizouse that I have a lot that I feel I need to share. I know I over share people…that is beside the point.

Any way back to my over sharing; I wanted to let you in on some more stuff that I am learning this month…

I talk too much. No for realsies…I really, really do. I am going to start carrying duct tape in my purse or on my person at all times. I think I will get some of the cute kind from Hobby Lobby though. Enough said.

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I am passionate about education and yet I always feel under-educated to share my opinion on things. I speak from the heart and what feels right from experience. I should probably stack up some facts and research to back those feelings up before I go spouting them off. It’s just a thought. Don’t get too nervous for me.

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Parenting is serious business people. It is daily marathons without any training or experience. This shit is for realsies. Like for real, for real. I have been peed on, pooped on, spit up on, thrown up on and scariest of all hovered over in the dark and scared to death by a child whispering “mom” in the middle of the night. That is some creepy-deepy stuff right there.

I have felt more joy and pain that I ever believed capable by a human heart all due to my children. But I have to say having four small humans all upset at you because of the choices you made as a parent sucks big time.

Mind you I know that if they are all upset at me I am most likely nailing it. All four mad at me that is a 100% success rate in the parenting world. I know you’re jealous. Don’t worry you can do it, too. If I can do it, so can you. Plus it was super easy, I just made them do homework, clean and help out instead of playing on their iPad/Video games and they lost their minds! Can’t say it didn’t sting a bit though to have them all gang up and be angry at me at once. With good friends to vent to and cocktails it is survivable. Also, learned that from experience. Just saying.

Having friends that you can pour your heart out to even if it is crazy nonsense like why do I care if my kids are all unhappy with me because I make them do their homework is absolutely priceless. Find your tribe and hang on for dear life because your people, friends who will hold you up and tell you the truth; they are invaluable. I mean I called a friend yesterday as I hid in the closet from my children just to vent about my crazy mom life and I can’t thank you enough for always having my back and always, always telling me like it is. Find your people. Hold on to them. Invaluable. Got it? Okay, next thing I am learning. Ready. Go.

When your parents are the absolute best people on the planet; let them know it. I already knew this before but being a parent really drives it home. I mean they are serious proof that you can survive your own children.

I have called my mom numerous times to apologize to her when my own kids have served up karma right in my face. I am sure I need to apologize to my dad too. You raised three girls, and I am learning girls have mad attitude, those are some serious survival skills, Dad. You made it through three girls. Mad props to you. Thank you for being amazing and still being my biggest fan. I am a lucky girl.

Last one, see I started with I talk too much to prepare you – see that now?

I am literally living on hope and faith and pixie dust these days. I make mistakes and learn. But one thing I have learned is that I am not too proud to ask for do-overs when I can. Whether it’s admitting I did something I shouldn’t of to my kids or asking for a do over from a friend; it is worth the ask.

Exhibit A. Sunday our family was at the Unravel 5K Family Fun Run and the kids complained all morning about every little thing trying to get out the door. It must have been too early for them on a Sunday. Any way by the time we get there I am doing everything possible to hold it together to try and SHOW them how they should behave and that they should be grateful that we are here to support this cause.

Two separate friends come over to say hi. And I said a very quick hi to them. Well once everything was calm I realized I was probably kind of snappy to them so I found them both and asked for a do-over hello. It went awesome and I felt much better. I am sure they did to. There is that saying people will always remember how  you made them feel and I wanted to make sure I hadn’t made anyone else feel bad just because we (my kids and I) were having a bad morning. But it all worked out okay.

So I talk to much; I am working on that one. It’s a hard one for me. You are still reading this so it can’t be all that bad, right?

In a nutshell: Remember this too shall pass and keep living the dream.

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Peace (And I mean that in the true 1990s since of the word)-

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Signs from Heaven

Signs from Heaven

Do you ever hit every single red light? I am not talking just in one trip out, but continuously for a week.

Have you been out and about and swore that you saw a passed loved one only to take a second look and it was not them at all? The person didn’t even really look like them all that much, but when you saw them the first time they were a dead ringer.

Do objects in your house, like your keys, go “misplaced” even when you know you put them in specific spot?

Are you frequently changing your lightbulbs? Or do you have lightbulbs that pop?

Do you catch a whiff of a loved ones perfume, cologne, or cigarette smoke from time to time?

Are you electronics always on the fritz?

Do you ever get strong cravings for things that someone that passed loved, but you didn’t really ever like?

Do sightings of birds, insects or specific skylines catch your eye and you just know that your loved one made that appear just for you?

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Are you constantly finding specific objects like feathers, buttons, or coins?

These are all common signs from the other side. When I say they are constantly communicating with us; that is not an understatement. I have come across all kinds of signs both through readings and personally.

I have lost all four grandparents and miss them deeply. One of my grandmothers suffered with Alzheimer’s for years before she passed. She raised 6 kids and even though I only have 4, I long for her guidance all the time. For the first three years that we moved to Gilroy and I was carting around my 4 and doing school drop off I would cry once the house was quiet because I just missed her so much and would send my questions to the heavens up to her, but I did not get an answer. I know she was listening; and even answering, but my own pain caused me to miss her signs.

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I borrowed this pic Aunt Lisa – I hope that is okay, but I thought this was a perfect picture of Grandma

I have been able to open my heart more and more the last two years and with guidance from other mediums have been able to connect to my grandmother more and more. What is odd is I feel her all around me now. But it started with my unusual craving for Diet Dr. Pepper. If you know me I have never liked diet soda. I would drink anything but. Lately however, I have to have Diet Dr. Pepper. I think it is her way of telling me this little drink helped her cope day to day and it can help me, too. I am a bit of a caffeine junky.

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I am also constantly craving Doublemint gum. This was her gum of choice. She always had it. It is not my favorite gum, but I feel the need to have some on hand all the time and no other gum tastes as good as that gum. I have been fighting my weight gain and I think this is her way of saying have some gum on hand it helps.

There are so many ways that our loved ones try to come through to help us and guide us. They often literally whisper in your ear to help your intuition know the best choice for your soul. If your gut is telling you something it is wise to listen. If you feel something and can’t explain it – you just know – that usually means something.

There are many ways that signs can be discounted or explained away. That is the easy part. Believing is the hard part. Trusting in something you can’t see; believing in what you know is true even when you can’t prove it. That is what is hard for us; accepting something is real without being able to prove it. Believe anyway.

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Spirits have ways of saying hello through numbers. If you are awoken at the same time every night or constantly look at your clock every day at the same time that is your loved one saying hello. If your phone seems possessed and you even receive strange calls and no one is on the other line, your loved one has called to say hello.

Dreams are a common way our spirit loved ones connect to us. Even if the dream doesn’t always make sense and we can’t remember what is said, but everything else about the dream feels so real then you connected with them. We are so open in our sleep and they can reach us a little more easily than when we are awake.

If you aren’t seeing these signs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It may mean you aren’t ready to see them yet; your pain and grief can block some of these things from sinking in. Your brain is wired to protect yourself from pain and so it creates blocks so that our emotions are safe guarded. Your loved ones are around you. You are a big part of their heaven.

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Your loved ones are just a thought away. If you think of them; they receive the call and are right there for you. Always.

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I would love to hear about the signs that you have received from loved ones and I know that sharing them will help others, too. So share in the comments or on my FB page. I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Sincerely,

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Day 20: Strength

First let me introduce you to Jane and Hilda. Jane nominated Hilda for Holiday Cheer this year. Jane and Hilda are great friends and definitely teaching BFFs. If you aren’t clear on what that is exactly, this Buzz Feed post here will help you out.

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They have been friends for years, taking trips, teaching together and many other adventures.

This past year has been a difficult one for Hilda, to say the least. Her sister passed away and then her partner, Rodney fell ill. He was in and out of the hospital and Hilda cared for him until he passed in May. They had only recently finished renovating the home they purchased together when he became so ill he had to be hospitalized.

Jane sat with Hilda the night that Rodney passed. Staying with her until late into the evening or early morning depending on how you look at it. Only to be texted a short time after she finally went home to catch a little shut eye that he had in fact passed peacefully.

Hilda is an amazing educator, a wonderful mother and grandmother and the best friend anyone could ask for. She is the first one on your doorstep to help when you are going through a difficult time or you just need some extra hands to complete a project. She always has time to listen to your troubles and will always offer a shoulder to cry on, but she helps lift your spirits and you can’t be sad around her for long. Her positivity is absolutely contagious. Nothing stops her from achieving what she wants to do in life.

Even though this year was filled with much sadness, Hilda forged ahead and has continued teaching in the Evergreen School District. She continues to hike, travel and spend time with her friends.

Thank you Holiday Elves and Gina Guglielmo for donating to Hilda’s gift and helping offer her some cheer and support during the holidays. You were able to provide Hilda with a beautiful wine basket from Guglielmo Winery with a complimentary tasting for two and a Spa Gift Certificate.

Best wishes to Hilda,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

 

 

Day 14: She is the perfect combination of Princess and Warrior

 

I am so excited to introduce you all to Elayna. She is absolutely radiant! I first came into contact with Elayna and her mom, Lucy while our family was fluttering in September for Unravel. (If you haven’t heard about Unravel yet is an organization that was founded to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research and you can learn more here). Elayna is a cancer survivor and she wanted to be a part of the Unravel Fluttering Campaign to help children like her. Her mom shared pictures and videos via a group on FB and well…we all just got to know her so well. Her vibrant, energetic passion and love of life was contagious to say the least. I mean just look at this kid!

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At 6 she has already beat kidney cancer and was 9 months into remission when I “met” her via the Unravel Fluttering Facebook Group. What happened next was heartbreaking. This princess warrior was diagnosed with lung cancer. Elayna and her family are once again fighting a battle against cancer.

There are two fundraising pages for Elayna in case you are interested in helping her and her family since I know many of you have asked how you can help more:

Her new gofundme page is at: https://www.gofundme.com/Elayna

Her original youcaring page (which is still set up and working!) is at:https://www.youcaring.com/medi…/let-s-go-team-elayna-/171690

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What was amazing was that a pair of donors came forward that wanted to get Elayna an American Girl doll. Not only did they get her a doll they also purchased matching pjs for her and the doll, the movie, book and accessories for the doll. I was in awe of their generosity. We also had someone hand make a scarf and matching hat for Elayna.

Elayna’s mom Lucy had this to say about the gift once it was delivered,

“This girl is so loved. Thank you so much for caring enough about her fight and her path to want to send her some joy like this. I looooove the frame picture. And the hat and scarf are sure to be favorites right away. 💕 Elayna has never had a “real” doll before and it was hilarious to see that she didn’t know what you did with one at first when she unwrapped Kit. When I explained all the things you could do with her (and that she came with a story and all) she said ‘Can you even put pjs on them?’ And I said, ‘I’m sure we can get pjs someday for her.’ Then she couldn’t stop smiling and giggling when she opened the pajamas next. Ha! Please thank everyone who was involved in Elayna’s gifts. We are so touched by the generous spirit.”

Thank you so much, Holiday Cheer Elves: Bella, Kim and Rebecca for bringing a smile to Elayna’s face.
All of the Holiday Cheer Elves are praying and cheering for Team Elayna.
Sincerely,
The Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 13: The difference a teacher can make

IMG_3317I know it is way past Christmas and I am just writing Day 13 and I hope our recipient will forgive me and the recipients after for that matter for the tardiness of these posts.

Day 13 belongs to a person who does what she does each and every day to the best of her ability without want or need for a thank you. She is a teacher. She teaches third grade at a local elementary school.

Mrs. Gamm is quiet, reserved and hard working. She truly hopes to impart knowledge and knowledge finding skills to her students, but what I find most impressive is that she still believes that the classroom is a place where you teach citizenship, kindness, manners and compassion. She believes that it is part of the curriculum to teach her students life skills.

While she is a stickler for grammar, neatness and a good work ethic from her students she also assigns a Random Act of Kindness as a homework assignment weekly. This can be something small or big; it is up to the student, but they are required to find ways to be helpful at home and in the community because that is what good citizens do.

She always has time to talk or work with students after school and makes sure to include families in all of the class events. Her work is her passion.

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Handmade card by DeAnna.

When I met Mrs. Gamm three years ago, I was quickly put at ease by her down to earth manner and authenticity. She is such a true and genuine soul. It was such an honor to be able to deliver her gift.

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Scarf, lotions, Starbucks and Barnes and Noble gift cards.

She was so surprised that she was nominated. She could not believe that she was a recipient. I told her that is what Holiday Cheer is about. It is about taking time to make sure that people who are just being themselves, doing what they do every day, know that they make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others. That they truly are spectacular just being who they are.

Thank you, Mrs. Gamm for the difference you make each year for so many. Our world is a better place because of what you do each and every day.

Sincerely,

The Holiday Cheer Elves

 

Holiday Cheer Day 6: A guest post from Tiff

Holiday Cheer Day 6: A guest post from Tiff

YouAreLoved_Black_8x10_HappyHippoArts (1)For today’s nominee I would like to share the nomination letter that was submitted by Tiff about Stephanie. Tiff relays why Stephanie needed Holiday Cheer:

“This recipient is an extraordinary lady. She is an amazing mom, daughter, friend, wife, sister and all around phenomenally loving spirit. She manages to keep this incredible beaming kinetic energy, and awesome sense of humor, and joy for life even during the rockiest of times. She has dealt with an exceptionally tough year, with some financial and medical issues that would have knocked anyone of the Avengers to their knees, but she has weathered it with an open and loving heart. For this reason , I was very excited to be able to nominate her.

She is one of those people that spend her time making sure that she has taken care of all the people around her that she loves. She is always taking care of everyone else, sometimes to the exclusion of herself. Her kids are such great, bright, centered little guys, and it is because she gives them balance and strength, and a soft, safe place to land when times get rough. She is the kind of mom who lets them be themselves , and reminds them that they don’t need to let anyone else define them.

She has also directed that same sense of light and love toward her other family members and friends. She is that mom who you would go to for shelter, for help, or just if you needed to whine about something. My gratitude for this woman is huge. My respect for how she lives her life as a go-er, a do-er and a mama-bear extraordinaire is unending. She has talked me off many anxiety ledges and has been such a comfort; a true friend when I was feeling isolated and alone. 

Her effect on all the other people around her is deep and profound. I don’t think she realizes how much she truly does impact so many of us. I think this was a way to let her know how very much she is loved and appreciated. She has this gift of turning her burden into blessings on a daily basis and in doing so she is teaching her boys and all the rest of us an invaluable lesson: Cherish what you have right now…the rest of the story will play out in its own good time. Thanks for the lesson, my friend.”

Not only does this beautiful letter describe our recipient perfectly, more magic happened with this nomination when a local hair stylist, Patty Ann came forward asking to help out a whole family. She wanted to donate to a family because she had known hardship herself and had received kindness. She took this as an opportunity to pay it forward. Patty Ann (shown below) collected a grocery gift card, and herself bought a tree, Vans gift cards for the boys, a cut and color for Stephanie, and dinner and movie out. Patty Ann is also an extraordinary person and that these two selfless women were connected through Holiday Cheer is so very touching to me.

So cherish what you have,

Tiff & Patty Ann

 

Holiday Cheer Day 5:Selfless

IMG_3242 (1)Our nominee for day five is Karin. Karin has recently become the primary caregiver for her mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She has selflessly opened up her home to both her mother and father while her mother battles this disease.

Despite what Karin is going through on a personal level, she always remains positive and upbeat. If you didn’t know about her personal life and were just meeting her, you would never know what she was going through. She never complains and is always ready to listen to others and help where she can.

Karin, also opens up her home to other members of her family as they need it. This past summer her niece was living with her. It is just second nature to Karin to help others when they are in need.

Our Holiday Cheer Elves were able to get her a little de-stress gift basket with relaxing lotions, beauty supplies, candles, a spa gift card, wine and a homemade scarf. We hope that she can take a little time to herself and know that she is an everyday hero.

Sincerely.

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

An artistic start to Holiday Cheer 2015

An artistic start to Holiday Cheer 2015

Noelle is anything but ordinary. At just 13 years old, Noelle is an accomplished singer and a budding artist. But that is not all, she is wise and humble for her age as well as exceptionally bright and well rounded. Her gracious heart and shy smile make her an easy person to get to know. You immediately feel at ease around her. She is involved in the community and participates in several charitable causes. Her father is a fire fighter and their family is deeply involved in the community and giving back is just a way of life for her.

But what strikes me the most about Noelle is the tenacity with which she chases her dreams. It is palpable. Her drive and success gives hope to others who are pursuing their dreams as well.

Unfortunately, tragedy is no stranger to Noelle and her family. Her sister was in a fatal car accident earlier this year. But, Noelle’s maturity guides her through her darkest days and somehow she continues to spread light and hope to others through her music and art.

On November 1st, her mother shared a Día de los Muertos free hand drawing that Noelle drew in honor of her sister.

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It touched me so deeply that it was in that moment I knew that our Holiday Cheer needed to reach her in the same way that she was reaching out to others through her art.

Noelle’s artistic ability is also demonstrated through her vocals in the local band, Head Strong, which has performances throughout the community. (Click here to read more about her band). Noelle is even performing at the Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown Gilroy this Saturday, December 5th. She will be on the main stage at 6:30.

santa gilroyIf you can’t make it to see her live she does have a You Tube Channel that you can subscribe to. This is a recent video she recorded:

It was such an honor and treat to get to meet with her and her parents earlier this evening to deliver the very first gift of 2015’s Holiday Cheer. Noelle was humble and poised as I gushed about her amazing attributes and ability to spread hope despite what she is going through at her young age.

Our group put together a basket of art supplies, a gift card to purchase more art supplies, the letter N in lights because her name should always be in lights, and a few little beauty items.

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It was a small token to just let her know she is making her mark in the world and her imprint is vast. She is touching so many lives with her beautiful soul.

Thank you Holiday Cheer Elves for your donations and your contribution to making a little something special for sweet, Noelle.

Sincerely,

Michelle & A Circle of People Who Care (otherwise known as the Holiday Cheer Elves)