It isn’t just our town.

It isn’t just our town.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know I am not alone with stories like these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gilroy, California

* Sebring, Florida

* Aurora, Illinois

Blacksburg, Virgina – Virginia Tech University

* Virginia Beach, Virgina

Newtown, Connecticut – Sandy Hook Elementary

Killeen, Texas – Luby’s Cafeteria

Parkland, Florida – Stoneman Douglass High School

Littleton, Colorado – Columbine High School

Aurora, Colorado – Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://everytown.org/

https://momsdemandaction.org/

https://www.sandyhookpromise.org/

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

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

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

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

Working for a better tomorrow,

Michelle

Surrender – there is no answer key to life

Surrender – there is no answer key to life

“When am I going to die?”

“When is __________ going to die?”

“Should I have another baby?”

“Am I going to have another baby?”

“Are we moving?”

“Should we move?”

“Should I be married to my husband?”

“I am thinking of switching careers; is it the right thing to do?”

These questions are none of my business! In fact, I think I visibly cringe when people ask me these things. Friends ask, clients ask, and they aren’t asking for my opinion; they want access to the divine plan. And I wish I was making this up, but people literally ask me when they are going to die or a loved one might die. I loathe this question as I do the others. BECAUSE THEY ARE NONE OF MY BUSINESS! WE AREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW OR WE WOULD KNOW.

For some energy workers or healers, maybe that is how their gig works, but for me; I work for God. That is my gig. And the divine plan is only revealed through Him. Since I am not Him, I do not have access to this plan. I don’t want access. My purpose is to allow you to connect and find a deeper faith that your loved ones are still with you.

Spirit, your loved ones, aren’t sharing the future 411 during a session with me either. They may share this with you. But that isn’t what they chose to share during a session with me, because again, it is none of my business. The information they do share is their opinion about what is currently happening in your life.

For those of you that ask these questions…there is no answer key. There is no right or wrong. The only thing we must NOT do is hurt other souls. We are to follow that golden rule – treat others as you would want to be treated. Treat ourselves well. Do our best moment to moment.

You, on the other hand, have all the answers. And you have access to HIM through faith and your own soul; so you will have much more information about the future and the decisions that you need to make than anyone else. We forget that we have to rely on ourselves and what we know to be true. We get to journey through this life, and we have to live for an eternity with the decisions that we made here; and we know ourselves better than most, so it is up to us to access faith, listen to our own soul and make sure we make the decisions that are going to suit us best.

We are a soul having a human experience.

And when things happen to us as they will; life is truly out of our hands in many ways, we have to surrender control. We then can only rely on what we can control. Ourselves. So you can follow your own intuition; your own faith, and make your own next best decision. No one can make that for us. Including spirit. It is up to us. End of story. No one else has to live with our choices the way we do. And when we chose to have faith, follow that internal compass that is our soul, and allow faith to be our guide, we will always find the answers that we need.

The good news is for those of you that are recovering perfectionists like myself or maybe even still a perfectionist, there is no wrong choice. Just treat other people well, and if you make a choice that doesn’t agree with you or you don’t like, guess what? You can remedy it. You can try again. You can do something different. You can make a new choice. You are not stuck. Each moment is an opportunity.

So trust yourself. Look within and move forward. You got this!

Until next time,

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Fissures and Finding Truth

Fissures and Finding Truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1100

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

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

Until next time,

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Notes on a life well lived

Notes on a life well lived

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you live a life well in reality?

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

Drumroll please….

one damn second at a freaking time.

I know I am a genius.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copy ofThere is no one size fits all life 4

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

Love and light,

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Snippets from Heaven – Part 6

Snippets from Heaven – Part 6

She was beautifully out of place.

Sometimes I believe she intended to be.

Like the moon during the day.

-D.R. Via the Minda Journal

When I was little, I just wanted to be the girl next door. You know the one who is unassuming, beautiful yet she doesn’t know it, everyone in the whole town loves her, and at the end of the story, she wins the guy by just being her quirky self. Yeah, that is the girl I wanted to be. It never really happened. I sort of had the invisible part down, but because I kept a part of my soul a secret it was easier to try to hide in plain sight. And, unfortunately, you can’t shine as your quirky self if you are hiding something about your quirky self.

My whole life, I saw, heard, and felt things most other people didn’t believe existed. And I could sense everything about people with one look and never a spoken word. I somehow knew I would never be that girl next door. But that didn’t stop me from hoping.

By the time I was thirteen spirit thought that I was a place they could regularly visit and often they would ask me for help in telling their stories. I tried. I typed (literally typed, on a typewriter) up a story about one girl who died and tried to get it published. I talked to my sisters about the things I saw. But it just kept escalating. Combined with the angst and pain, I felt from others around me, at sixteen I tried to take a bunch of pills and silence everything forever. I couldn’t possibly be supposed to live like this right?

But, as always, God is in charge. The next morning when I woke up, HE was there. His loud voice boomed and told me, “Your life is mine.” I could sense the disappointment. And the voice continued, “Your work isn’t finished yet. I have things left for you to do.”

In addition to feeling extraordinarily guilty and having yet another secret to hide; I now felt that I was for sure crazy. Who hears GOD?! Seriously, now I was broken in all new ways.

I tried to reconcile my outside life with my inside life. I still didn’t talk about it much, but I definitely decided to learn more and put a little more effort into paying attention to what I heard and saw. Most of the time no one wanted to know anything about it, and I knew it was something most people wouldn’t accept.

For most of my young adult life, it was something that I pushed down and left out. I still saw and heard spirit. I could still read people like a book, but the girl next door appeal always won out, and I just tried to be ordinary.

By the time we moved to our small town, I thought maybe I had a shot. It was like a do-over, and I had whole-heartedly decided to keep the other piece of my soul a secret. I would be normal and ordinary like everyone else. Besides, I had my own family now and I didn’t want this to damage the way people saw them, too. And it started to happen, I was fitting in. After, being here for two years, I began to make some friends. The other moms would talk to me at pick up, and I was being invited places. I was so relieved.

Then a little spirit boy decided to change my whole life. I don’t know why I thought any different, I wasn’t in charge. And of course, he was asking me to be anything but ordinary.

Copy of cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out

If you have come to a session, you have heard me tell the Matthew story. (You can also read it here.) Matthew is a boy who visited me after his passing and basically became my teacher. One day six years ago, he told me it was time for me to follow this path and he warned that if I didn’t take care of it; spirit would.

Well, a part of the story I don’t tell is how I quit. Yep, I quit. I shut everything down for six months because of one bad experience, a tremendous amount of doubt, and general life chaos. And most likely my deep-seated need to be the ordinary, girl next door. And if I am being sincere, maybe I was a little glad for the break. As much as I wanted to help; I really didn’t believe I was strong enough. I mean, even though I was removed from the sadness of my clients; how many times could my own heart break? How much sadness and pain can one person carry? Spirit can feel everything, so during the sessions not only do I feel what they are feeling; I experience my client’s pain, too. And then the human side of me is also experiencing what is happening.

For six long months I thought for sure I was going to get to just be me; ordinary and regular, and live a life-like everyone else.

But God wasn’t done with me.

God wasn't done

He isn’t ever done with us. Duh! It was silly to think I still controlled my life. Well, newsflash, we can only control how we react to what happens to us.

Spirits would keep popping up in my life; clients’ stories would break me down. I couldn’t say no to some people and after six months; everyone including my husband thought that I was supposed to be helping spirit and their loved ones here on earth full-time. And the doors of my normal life were closing all around me. My job was changing and my place there didn’t feel like it belonged to me any more.

So, a little over a year ago I quit my day job and opened up my own little business. To say I was terrified would be an understatement. I have an -ish ton of faith because otherwise, I am just a crazy girl who hears voices; so I believed anything was possible, but I was still worried.

Since God knew this, the first client he sent to me was Lauren. Immediately her radiant smile and warm heart hit me, and I loved her. She came into my cozy little office, kicked off her shoes and made herself comfortable. And my whole heart breathed a sigh of relief; everything about her was exactly what I needed. While I was still nervous because I didn’t know what to expect, I was so much more at ease. I knew God had sent me the most perfect first client.

We cried, and we laughed. Lauren’s mom came through to her. And while it was a fantastic session filled with immense healing; my heart broke a little because her mother left this earth of her own volition. Now, we have a great deal of upset over things like this in the human world. But, remember, God is forever tries, and heaven is home, so God showers all souls with love. And everything that happens He has a say in. Nothing gets past Him. We talked about that, that day, too.

No soul left behind

Lauren’s mom showed me how Lauren shared her light with other people. How she would take a little bit of it and hand it off to others like hope, and it would spread far and wide. This spreading of light was like the festival of lanterns and one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.

I asked Lauren about it at the end of the session, and she told me about how before her mom passed one of the last things they talked about was her mom asking her if she ever heard the song, 1,000 paper cranes. Lauren brushed it off and didn’t think about it again, until after she received the news of her mom’s passing. She listened to the song. It weighed on her heart, and she decided to make 1,000 paper cranes every year to honor her mom. And she was giving some of them away to other people. That was the light I saw spreading. Lauren was turning her pain and her mom’s pain into hope. Literally, an origami crane symbols the mystic legend of the crane’s 1,000 year life span and to give someone a paper crane symbolizes offering hope and healing through difficult challenges.

From that Cranes for Kristina was born. Today that is Lauren’s full-time gig. She is creating cranes every day, giving away a piece of her light to others and offering them hope. (If you come to see me you get to take one with you when you leave, my office isn’t complete without a little bit of Lauren’s light in it.) Lauren doesn’t stop there, she speaks up and out about depression and suicide prevention. Lauren has the most amazing heart and uses her grief as inspiration and motivation to help others.

So while, Lauren’s life has changed over the year since we met; mine has, too.

Moms don’t talk to me at pick up anymore. People recognize me around town, stare and whisper. I am not the girl next door; I am the girl who knows too much. The girl like the moon in the day time, just a little out-of-place.

My heart continues to break in new ways multiple times a day as I sit with people in their pain. And I can’t think of any other thing I would rather do with my life.

My faith has grown exponentially, and control isn’t even in my vocabulary any more except to say it is an illusion. I know I will never be the girl next door and ordinary is out of the question. I think I am okay with that. I wasn’t sure before. Not only because I wanted to fit in; but also because this sadness and heartbreak; I wasn’t sure how much I could take.

In fact, last night a friend and I were talking about how our hearts break faster than they heal and it is all just too much. And how was that possible when at the exact same time we were filled with so much gratitude and love for everything in our lives.

But today, even in the midst of my heart feeling so broken; I thought of Lauren, Kristina, the cranes and the light and love they shine into this world.

I realized then that my heart wasn’t actually healing; it WAS healed AND broken – both at the same time and that is what love is; it is being both broken and healed at the same time.

It is about moving one step more even when we feel like we can’t breathe. It is having the courage to move beyond fear and trusting in faith. It is sitting with the wounded and feeling all the feels knowing that we can rise from that spot. Knowing that love exists in the darkest places and anything is possible. And not being afraid to offer hope and light even when we are hurting, too.

love is

I think love and pain coexist. We are all a little bit of both. And maybe, I am the ordinary girl and also entirely out-of-place different all at the same time. Broken and whole. Love and loss. Death and life wrapped in an extraordinary ordinary package. That is what Kristina showed me Lauren is; it is what so many of my clients are…and their strength in the midst of deep pain constantly leaves me in awe.

I can’t think of anything I want to be more. It’s how I met people like Lauren and learned about turning pain into hope. Sitting in pain with strangers has broken my heart open wide and opened my eyes to the impossible.

I hope to be a person who instead of freaking people out because I can see things they may not believe in; to one day, because I decided to shine my light, become a little bit of hope that we can be broken and healed at the same time; that being out-of-place is sometimes right were we need to be. And that just because I do what I do, doesn’t mean that God isn’t a part of it; that in fact, He is at the center of it. And maybe just maybe, it’s what he wanted all along. Because maybe, just maybe I am supposed to share this with you. So that you know you aren’t alone. So that you know you are extraordinarily ordinary exactly out of place just like you are supposed to be.

cinema is a matter of what's in the frame and what's out

Until next time,

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On hostile unicorns and absolution

On hostile unicorns and absolution

A few weeks ago, my oldest son was explaining how he beat the hard mode in Terraria. For me, listening to how these games are played, even though I have watched them, is complicated, to say the least. Basically, Terraria is a game where you can dig, build, and fight. You work through different biomes and beat different bosses (the game’s language, not mine) to conquer the game. But don’t use my definition as a guide; I am just a mom and not a gamer after all. But for the purpose of this post, that is going to have to be good enough.

Anyway, he was telling me about defeating the hard mode and how it unlocks or spawns The Hallow. In this new biome, he can do more things and collect more goods. But the one part of his description that really struck me is when he told me to watch out for the unicorns. In The Hallow the unicorns are hostile.

That I can relate to.

I know, unicorns don’t exist. But it made me think of perfection, also a myth. It made me think of what we might all be continually searching for and seem never to find. And it seemed just a tad bit ironic that The Hallow (a sacred place) is where unicorns exist.

And I kept thinking about unicorns (perfection, every single day happiness, a place where everyone gets along, nirvana) and they are unattainable because they are not realistic.

Like how we can always be looking for just the right moment to try something new when we should just do that new thing right now. Or we think the grass is greener on the other side of the hill only to find out that there are the same weed patches and trouble keeping things green when we get there. Or wanting to make a new friend, but staying quiet and away from others. Wanting to be seen, but not having the courage to stand out.

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I probably scroll through social media channels more than I should. I probably watch the news a lot less than I should. I see happy people in the midst of life and wonder if I am where I should be. I read things that get me thinking about life and if I am doing as much as I should. Living in a way that I should.

Worthiness just might be my unicorn. It seems so elusive to me and right when I think I finally have found a cozy little place where I feel like; I am finally comfortable with myself there is some little reminder that I am still hanging onto my unworthiness.

Like how reading posts from a favorite blogger that says if we aren’t doing something to stop prejudice, gun violence, homelessness, sex trafficking, abuse, literacy, refugees, etc. and fixing it then we are complacent. We are part of the problem. And it makes me feel less than because I am not a warrior; I am not ready to strap on armor and fight or debate others. I definitely am trying to help defeat these things, but is it enough?

I try to help with Holiday Cheer. I try to help by raising my babies to be the helpers. I run toward car accidents to hold the hands of strangers until help comes. I volunteer. I donate. I vote. I treat others how I want to be treated, and yet when I see the things happening in the world, I feel so much not enough-ness I can’t even speak. I feel so wrapped in privilege that the guilt washes over me in tidal waves and I can’t breathe or even move for a few minutes. The weight of the wrong in the world sometimes feels so much bigger than the good. And it probably doesn’t help that I was built with the ability to feel things so deeply and to be able to feel what others feel so completely. It is sometimes so hard to live that way.

One of my social media friends posted a blog that made my heart drop. She wrote about how she isn’t sure she believes in unconditional love anymore. What the hell? This person is the epitome of unconditional love. She is the actual living, breathing embodiment of unconditional love. I guess when you are that, it is hard to find it, and even harder to see it, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I think we forget to look in the mirror sometimes. I think we forget ourselves in the equation of things.

And I can be a bit churchy and preachy even though I don’t go to church. I read Tim Tebow and follow Christian Instagram accounts and listen to Christian music. By the way, how freaking ah-mazing is Lauren Daigle?! I have her album on shuffle and repeat. I get goosebumps on just about every song. Her lyrics stop me in my tracks.

However, the irony is not lost on me when it comes to the relationship between religion and the problems that it causes in the world sometimes. The problem it can cause in myself sometimes. But, I remind myself, it is the interpretation of humans that causes the problem; believing in Jesus and God isn’t harming anyone. Anyway…

The whole unicorns being hostile; I get it. The beauty and magic of this world, of the moments with each other, can be plagued by the ugliest parts of humanity. Or how nature can destroy a city on a whim – through a tornado, hurricane, or a volcano or disease or freak accidents can take away a person we love in an instant. And everything seems lost and cruel. Or how a moment of hate can seemingly steal away every kindness that has touched your heart. And unfortunately, sometimes in beauty lies ugliness; unicorns can be hostile. Perfection is a plague. Feeling more right than someone else and that need to be right is cancer. And your world can turn on a dime.

Acceptance, understanding, and the constant choice to see the best is the way to peace in our own hearts. When we do our best to help others and try to reach them despite our differences that is how we can find our own absolution. When we learn to look in the mirror and see ourselves as a friend would see us or how our children see us; then we can start to feel that worthiness. We just aren’t looking at things with the best perspective sometimes, or we forget to look in the right places to see the things that matter most of all.

Staying centered in this life is definitely a practice. I do not wake up and feel like I am whole, worthy and ready to conquer the world. Those feelings have to be cultivated, curated and rebuilt. I am not the kind of person that was born with confidence to spare. And in an environment that moves faster and faster on to the next best thing – what is bigger, brighter, better – I am constantly reeling to stay in my lane. The good news is that when you have faith, and you continually check in with the universe and God; He can remind you that you are divine. It is the simple things that you do every day that make the most significant difference. Be rooted in who you are. Treat others and yourself with respect and compassion. It is that simple. Let the unicorns be a myth, and then the attachment to it can no longer hold you hostage – you can be pleasantly content in your imperfectness. Let go of your need to be right and open up to understanding and empathy. Once we let go, become open, and offer grace, we find our own absolution, we love ourselves and each other, which is what we were really after all along.

Until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

Pep Talk Please

Pep Talk Please

Maybe this diet is driving me crazy, or perhaps it’s the news that another precious baby is now in heaven because cancer took over her nine-year-old body, which by the way is beyond awful…beyond devastating…or maybe it’s because it’s a Friday and I feel like there are so many damn problems in the world I just can’t fix. Like I keep pouring into a well that just gets deeper.

Usually, a chai latte would do the trick, and that is whack because seriously what a privileged treat to have to calm my nerves when scared humans all over the world are fighting just to live, to have clean water and a safe place to lay their head. But I am whacked and the latte does the trick. However, this diet says no bueno to the latte. SO HERE WE ARE. GRUMPY CAPS AND ALL.

So here’s the deal, we can feel helpless even though we are helping. I know you are like me and doing your part here and there and everywhere you go. We are all just surviving on this ball circling the sun. We are all only human when it comes down to it; doing what we can, when we can, where we can. We are good. Some of us are wounded, and the good is harder to see, but it’s there underneath the scars and the shields we use to cover it up. So, since I felt like I needed a pep talk; I thought I would have it online in front of a bunch of people, and maybe you would read along and feel pepped, too. Yes, pepped. It’s a word. It isn’t turning red with my spellcheck and Grammarly thinks it’s acceptable, so you know what? I do, too.

you are awesome

If you are breathing, and moving one foot in front of the other, and doing the very best that you can, regardless of mood – YOU ARE AWESOME! KEEP IT UP! YOU GOT THIS! YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!

YOU ARE ENOUGH

If you are breathing, and moving one foot in front of the other, and doing the very best that you can, regardless of how you feel about yourself – YOU ARE ENOUGH! YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH! YOU ARE PRICELESS! YOU ARE THE SHIT! GO GET IT!

YOU ROCK AS A PARENT

Parenting standards these days are really high. I mean have you seen how many Pinterest posts there are for crafty crap, bento fancy shmancy lunches, and 99 million ways to keep your kids entertained while building their self-esteem and making them all around amazing. Like too many damn pins, people. Don’t get me wrong, I like Pinterest, but I can’t handle the standards of what a parent is supposed to accomplish. So if you are sending your kid to school with food or money for food and they are dressed, and mostly clean, and mostly well-behaved – KUDOS! YOU ARE ROCKING THIS PARENT GIG. YOU NAILED IT! I mean high-five yourself right this minute. If you discipline your child, if your child fights with their siblings, if you have yelled at your child because they have driven you crazy – YOU ARE ROCKING IT AS A PARENT! YOU GOT THIS! If your child has said you are mean, strict, rude, they don’t like you, they want a new mom or dad. You know what? KIDS DON’T ALWAYS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. KIDS DON’T GET TO TELL US WHAT TO DO. OR WHAT IS TRUTH. WE ARE THE ADULTS. YOU ARE ROCKING IT AS A PARENT. ENOUGH SAID.

YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY

If your diet says you can’t have chai lattes, and you have been following it for days and days, and you have only lost 1 or 2 pounds. And you are working out like you have never worked out in your life. And if you happen to yell, “You can suck it!” to the TV Fitness instructor because really, why are there so many push-ups? YOU LOOK GREAT JUST AS YOU ARE TODAY! KEEP IT UP! YOU CAN DO THE PUSH-UPS! YOU CAN MODIFY, AND YOU ARE STILL A FITNESS WARRIOR!

If you are wearing yoga pants and your hair is up in a messy bun. YOU ARE HOT! YOU ARE KILLING IT IN THE FASHION DEPARTMENT! ROCK THAT LOOK SISTER! OWN IT!

If you are one of the ones that made it and successfully dressed in your best outfit and have your hair and makeup just so. YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY! YOU ARE A GODDESS! * SIDE NOTE: REMEMBER TO TELL THE YOGA PANT MOM SHE IS A GODDESS, TOO!

If you got dressed today; YOU ARE THE QUEEN OF FASHION! YOU ARE NAILING LIFE!

WHATEVER YOU LOOK LIKE; HOWEVER YOU SHOW UP – YOU LOOK GREAT TODAY!

If you are feeling alone, invisible and left out…maybe your best friend hasn’t called you, or you don’t fit in with the other moms at pick up. I want you to remember; YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, AND GOSH DARN IT, PEOPLE LIKE YOU.

That’s my pep talk people. I hope you feel pepped. I know I feel a little better. We got this. We are freaking, amazeballs at this life. It’s supposed to be hard, and we are supposed to mess up. That means we are doing it right. Congrats for showing up, for living, for putting one foot in front of the other and doing the best you can. YOU ROCK!

Go get it,

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Snippets from Heaven: Part 2

Snippets from Heaven: Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

36859018_10217126658309403_6342573944842747904_n (1)
Shared with consent from Michele

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and light, until next time,

2016-09-11_0905

Pass the praise

Pass the praise

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

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

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

This is so normal. And it is so wretched.

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

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

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

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

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

Compassion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace and love,

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Life out loud

Life out loud

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

                                                                                                        – Maddie Dawson

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

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

Michelle Murnin Paulson (3)

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

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

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

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

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

Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

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

Copy of Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

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

Copy of Copy of Copy of Michelle Murnin Paulson

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

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

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

Until next time,

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Hallelujah anyway

Hallelujah anyway

Y’all I saw Jen Hatmaker last week on the Moxie Matters Tour, and I just have to say Hallelujah and Amen. She is such a down to earth, genuine human. She showed up sick and tired and persevered through the evening. She is just one of my favorite humans.

The theme of the evening centered around being a good neighbor and what that meant. She used the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, to illustrate what Jesus taught us about being a good neighbor.

See, Jesus tells the story of a man that is robbed, beaten, stripped and left for dead and how a priest and a holy man not only pass him by when they see him; they move to the other side of the street. The person who stops to help the robbed and beaten man is a Samaritan. Now in biblical times; a Samaritan was someone who was cast off and despised. Yet, this is the person who Jesus uses as the helper and caregiver. (If you want to read the verses yourself check them out here.)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I know, I have a blessed and beautiful life. I get that. But Y’all, we every single one of us, have experienced pain. We have all had some form of beaten down-ness even if it is in the metaphorical sense. Jen shared this, and I wholeheartedly agree. Pain is common ground.

For me it has been this journey to be my whole self out loud; to finally follow my calling to mediumship. Even though I know what I am doing is right, it still seems to strike shame, hurt and fear in me.

See I have been talked down to, told I was the devil, said I speak to demons, that I capitalize on other people’s pain. People who love me have said that the only reason they believe me is because it is me. While that is nice; it still means that what I have been asked to do; called to do, is something vile and wrong in their book; that there is this notion that it is all hooey. That what I do cannot be real.

Even I have doubts; I am human after all, but those doubts don’t come from my soul at all. The shame, fear and hurt all come from human interaction and logic. When I let my soul do the talking, there are no doubts; there is no fear, there is no shame. But when I have to interact with other humans, the lump in my throat stretches, and I can’t seem to get out the words to explain what I do without feeling some shame.

The trick is, I was born this way. Being able to see spirit is as much a part of me as my hazel eyes, bad temper, and the blood that runs through my body. This is me. This is my normal. This isn’t something I created out of thin air. It isn’t even something I can escape. Believe me I have tried. Baptism made it stronger. Hiding didn’t stop what I was seeing it just kept me safe from other humans knowing and their reactions.

I spent most of my life in hiding. Straddling two worlds. Living in them and between them. Being someone different on the inside than on the outside. I know many of you understand this. You get that it sucks big time.

I didn’t want that for my kids. I don’t want that for anyone at all. We should have our inside match our outside. We should be free to be ourselves. We should all love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And for Pete’s sake we should love ourselves.

But it was ironic listening to Jen speak. Listening to her talk about what she felt and how she had dealt with ridicule last year, and I thought; I wonder if you knew who I was, if we were sitting down talking to me, would you accept me? All of me? I didn’t feel like I would be allowed in. OUTCAST. That is how I will forever be branded.

Seeing Jen felt like going to church on a school night. I am not saying it like that is a bad thing. It made me miss a connection to God like that. Now God and I are good. Jesus and I are cool. I think I am okay there, but to have a church and a community that loves God also accept me; those things are mutually exclusive. I don’t believe that there is a church that would welcome all of me with open arms. It stings a little because I feel like that is something missing in my life. Not God or the four walls, but the community of like-minded souls in worship.

I sat in this event thinking I want to be a part of something like this and left feeling like that will never happen. Yes, I know having God love me is enough, but we are all human, and man it would be nice to feel whole and unashamed in a room like that.

It made me think of my event and how the people who have known me all my life, saw proof of things I could not conjure up, research or find out on my own, saw evidence that spirit can speak through me and still somehow wanted more clarification that God was okay with what I do. I can’t give anyone that. It isn’t my place.

I think a part of me felt that if I spoke my truth out loud it would wash away the hurt and the shame and I could be me without feeling wrong somehow. Nope. I will have to defend myself to my dying day.

Dentists, doctors, teachers, stay at home moms, marketers, gardeners, chefs, cashiers they don’t have to hide in shame when they tell people what they do for a living.

Just posting my live event brought out people who thought they could heal me with Bible Speak and damnation. I do not need to be healed. I am already whole. I am a decent person who loves her children, puts time and energy into the community she lives in, has a stable, healthy marriage, is kind to others, and hasn’t ever committed a crime in her life. Okay, okay, I once checked my email on my phone at a stop light; I have a ticket for that, but that is it. And still, I feel like some abomination. It just makes me tired.

I know sometimes it feels like it is only doom and gloom here on the blog, but this is where I can work out my shit. It is in my blog where I can feel all the feels and then get to the other side. I know, some people say you shouldn’t share your story until you are all the way through, but I get stuck in the middle a lot. I get stuck and need to vent to find the light at the end of the tunnel or to see the damn switch on the wall that has been there all along.

Some people told me after seeing me live that they didn’t know I was that funny or they didn’t realize I was that engaging. Well, duh I can’t be myself most places. But there in that room, people bought a ticket to see the real me, and I showed up.

My instinct to hide has been a part of me since I was two years old. I knew I wasn’t like everyone else. I was something different. That is all I have been all my life, something different. I count myself lucky, besides being female, I was able to hide who I was, to escape judgment because my difference is something that couldn’t be seen. And yes, I also know that I chose to speak up, I decided to let this loose. I get it. You can’t have it all.

But I guess because I was straddling both worlds and keeping it secret for so long; I miss my secret hiding place sometimes. I miss a place where I could pretend to feel whole and not have to feel what people think of me.

hallelujah anyway. I choose to stumble forward with as much grace as I can muster and hope for the best.

The good news, I guess, is that I am who I am. I know that my relationship with God is intact. If HE was pissed at me, I am pretty sure I would know it. And if I keep doing what I think is the next right thing that is all I can do. That is all we can ask of anyone. To do the best they can with what they have. So even if I can’t fit in places I would like to, and I might be seen as an evildoer in some circles; I just have to be the best me I can be. That is all I have to offer and at the end of the day that is good enough. So I say, hallelujah anyway. I choose to stumble forward with as much grace as I can muster and hope for the best. I will be a good neighbor and a good human. That is enough and it is okay if I stumble through it. I think moving forward with as much grace as I can muster is A-okay.

Living in the WILD – lessons from afourytale

Living in the WILD – lessons from afourytale

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

Mean people are people who are hurting

People who hurt act out. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truth isKids keep it real.

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

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

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

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

Be dapper withPee protection is legit.

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

Keep on plugging along peeps. Until next time,

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