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.

img_5237

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.

img_5242

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,

2016-09-11_0905

 

Teaching them to fall

Teaching them to fall

One of my kiddos is obsessed with monkey bars right now. He has to try out the monkey bars at every park, no matter the height or complexity.

This triggers my panic and fear index – reflex – whatever it is; it freaks me the hell out!

I am a worrier. It is a trait that has plagued me forever – seriously I have worried about everything my whole life. I have worried about what I wear, who likes me, if I stink, about my skills as a human, you name it I have worried about it.

Now, being a parent you know that when you have kids you worry about everything times a gazillion. You put them to sleep and check to see if they are still breathing a hundred times. You hope you are feeding them enough of the best, healthiest foods. Will goldfish at every meal damage their brains? That is a rhetorical question by the way. You drop them off at school and you worry…

Will they have friends?

Will they be treated with respect?

Can they handle peer pressure?

Will they eat their lunch?

Will they get the help they need?

What if they get lost?

Will they be a good friend?

Will they choose kindness when it comes to others?

Did I read to them enough?

Maybe we should have listened to more classical music?

Maybe I should have fed them more Omega 3s?

And on and on and on…

So where were we? Oh yeah, I know monkey bars.

Monkey bars seem like no big deal, but they are up high and I worry. Kids are letting go one hand at a time and dangling! Dangling above the ground at arm breaking height mind you.

So after several monkey bar attempts and a park that has 3 sets of monkey bars – seriously why so many different kinds of death-defying obstacles at a park? Who created this jungle gym of terror? Those big chips of wood underneath- who the hell thought that was good landing material? 

But I digress. Any how, I got tired of feeling my own panic and trying to remain calm on the outside. Isn’t that the life of a parent or a human at all – calm on the outside, melty panic on the inside. Which then makes me think of chocolate and then makes me wish for M&M’s. Then I thank God there isn’t chocolate nearby because I am a stress eater and I would eat all of the chocolate at this death park.

Again I digress. But that is when I had an AH HA moment! (Yes, thank you Oprah for giving me the words for the moment when a life changing idea hits my brain.) This scenario I am in isn’t about being careful or worry or panic; he is going to fall. We are all going to fall. So instead of worrying about the fall; I need to plan ahead, I need to teach him how to fall.

So I proceeded to walk him through what to do when he felt like he needed to let go or when his hands got slippery.

“It’s okay to fall,” I say.

“Just let go. It isn’t that far to the ground,” I continue.

“Just fall like this,” I show a soft release and hop to the ground landing on my feet.

“Just do your best to land on your feet,” I finish.

Oh my gosh you guys!!! You guys!!! Did you hear that?! It is okay to fall. We don’t have to be afraid to fall.

While this logic applied to his monkey bar stunts, and worked extremely well I may add. He kept monkey bar-ring on without incident. This logic also applied to life. He might stumble in life, but it is okay. We can stumble, no big deal!

Like a roller coaster – life is full of these wild twists and turns. (I know I went from monkey bars to roller coaster, but bear with me. Both analogies fit what I am talking about here.) We may see them coming, but until we go through it we don’t know what it will be like. But if we buckle in and know the twists are there then maybe we will just roll through better. Maybe we won’t be so panic-stricken or uptight. I mean who goes through a roller coaster with every hair in place, and all their grace in tact?

When we embrace the fall and let it come then the ride might be a bit more enjoyable. We can be less afraid and worried all the time.

We are going to be okay.

img_2383

We are.

img_2384

So maybe falling is part of it; falling, getting back up, moving forward, balance, step, step, stumble, step. Maybe instead of all the worry and fighting against the current maybe we just accept the awkward, stumbling and recognize the beauty in that – maybe when we do that we will reduce the amount of pressure in our lives and feel free to explore and try new things. Maybe we will feel more free and able to connect. Maybe we feel free to love ourselves and show ourselves to the world because a fall is just a fall after all.

I don’t know all the answers, but I do know that teaching him how to fall made us both feel a whole lot better.

Your breakable, flawed, stumbling friend,

2016-09-11_0905

 

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.

2016-09-11_2101
Necklace from Blue Room Gems.

img_3387

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.

2016-09-11_2144
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,

2016-09-11_0905

 

 

 

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.

13775594_10153742916088779_8956827180455019490_n

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 –

13566914_10153885630969983_761394670903335776_n

afourytale

Who cares what other people think?

Who cares what other people think?

“If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motive, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own [flipping] art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert and my sweet wise-owl friend who lent me Ms. Gilbert’s book just might have given me the best gift ever; a permission slip to stop caring what people think. How liberating is that?!

It is probably about time that I say out loud and with full certainty I absolutely love speaking with spirit. I never stopped acknowledging or talking to spirit because I liked it. It was comforting and in all reality built my faith more than any church I have attended. Using my gift is like fully breathing. It is as much a part of me as my hazel eyes or the color of my skin. Fear kept me back from using it publicly for 35 years. How silly! How immature! Who cares what other people think?

I mean really.

Here I was saying I was the biggest skeptic in the room and then feeling hurt when people would say things like, “It was wonderful. 90% of what was said made perfect sense”. I would hang on to that 90% like what the hell – why do they need a claim to 10% was pure nonsense?! Well of course they did because I set the example! So stupid.

I let my fear of what other people thought be my own crutch. And I hate crutches! I will be that old lady on her scooter with a souped up engine and streamers on the handles. Did I mention it will also most likely be hot pink with glitter? Well it will and I will ride it and laugh with pride. Because who cares what other people think?

Well guess what – if I don’t care what other people think and if I really dig down deep; I am not skeptical at all. The most amazing things have happened when I have freed myself from doubt and embraced my gift with my whole heart.

IMG_4571 (1)

Like this week for example, I was struggling because I was giving a damn what people thought. Reacting to the output of my work – which I cannot control by the way – I can only do the work and what happens after is not my responsibility. I have nothing to do with how people interpret what is said or their experience with my specific gift. I can only do it to the absolute best of my ability and with the purest of heart and then continue on doing the work.

But I digress, I was struggling with things and you know what? The universe answered. It always does. Each reading this week offered me insight.

I had read that speaking to the dead was a sin and not a gift from God. There was discussion that said that when these spirits come through they say everything is all right and then basically you are off the hook to live a good and decent life. That is not the case! The readings this week reinforced that. Spirits came forward to talk of how they have to pay for their mistakes, how they are held accountable. Others came through talking of how they get to meet with religious leaders of all faiths. How they come together to teach other souls how to continue grow spiritually even in heaven. They talk of a hierarchy of things. There are angles that come through that bring words of praise and compassion, but also talk of caution of our faults.

But most importantly, my faith, what I experience as God is present in every single reading. I don’t allow anything different. That is all that matters. I know that and so who cares what other people think? That isn’t my problem; it is theirs. I can only control my reaction and I chose not to react. I chose to continue on with my principles and faith as I see fit.

IMG_4572

But above all else; I know that without a doubt something miraculous is happening when I give a reading. There are things I cannot possibly know; that the person I am talking to does not know. They have to talk with relatives to confirm. I have even had a reading done myself when the medium knew something I couldn’t and I asked my family to find it to be absolutely true.

So here is the vow I am taking;

I have to share messages from spirit and I have to write. These two things make me whole.

These two things bring me joy and I love them both immensely. I will not let fear rob me of my joy in doing these things.

I will not let perfectionism destroy what I know I am perfectly capable of doing. I will do these things because I love them no matter what may come.

I will not be afraid to look ridiculous or sound foolish. I will speak my truth to the best of my ability. Everyone has that right as a decent human and I do to.

It is what I love to do; it is what I must do. 

I will not complain or feel angst over this anymore. I don’t feel angst about it at all; I have only ever had angst because I was worried about what people thought and I really don’t want to worry about that any more. I have enough to worry about and now I can scratch that off my list. No more apologies. 

I will believe I am worthy. We are all worthy and so that means so am I. 

I speak soul; I offer messages from the other side for healing; I can help those who grieve and it is absolutely as invaluable to me as the air I breathe. I will do it because I adore it regardless of what other people think.

wurd.amen.to new freedom from fear and all that jazz!

XOXO,

afourytale

img_2186

Lessons afourytale style

Lessons afourytale style

It’s been more than awhile I know. Life keeps a girl busy you know. I know you do…you are flying through it with me.

There have been many happenings in the fourytale hood and I hope I am learning lessons and growing; that at least makes it seem like the rough moments are worth something right? If you attribute it to a learning moment instead of just a rough patch or embarrassing minute in our lives as it moves with barreling speed toward the finish line it seems to make it all more worthwhile.

So what might you ask I have learned these past few months of 2016; well here it goes…

IMG_39301. I still have a teacher voice.

This past weekend my daughter was in a local school production and I volunteered to help. My assignment for this show was to be a mom backstage in the girls’ dressing room. Of course, they have to be quiet backstage or else the audience can hear them. Well they got a bit out of hand and from somewhere came this voice, “I want everyone in their seats right now. And I want your voices quiet.” I looked around to see where it came from and to my amazement as the girls rushed to their chairs quietly they were all looking up at me. I got them quiet and in their chairs. Another mom who was helping came back into the room after escorting a few to the restroom and she was impressed by the quiet. I told her I could still rock my teacher voice. The lesson here…sometimes you never lose the things that are truly a part of you and you can use those mad skills you acquire over your life time. Of course one girl in particular thought I was the meanest person in the universe, but all you got to do is behave and then you don’t have to feel my wrath – which just included taking her clothes bag which she was flinging and staying quiet and in her spot which was near impossible for her. Whateves…I know being tough and sticking to your guns gets results and respect so I will take her assessment as a compliment.

IMG_39352. Still feel small

There are still times I feel so small and out of place. We have a family friend who is a great cook and beyond that she runs her home to a T and always seems knowledgable…about everything. I always feel small and out of place when I am around her. Like there is nothing that I have that can add to the conversation. See I am a mac n cheese, follow a Pioneer Woman Recipe, fly by the seat of my pants mama and sometimes that just doesn’t feel like enough when I am in her presence.

I haven’t watched the news in close to a decade (I read it occasionally, but there is so much bad I kind of skim it to be honest). My mom brain is so full of schedules, what needs to be paid when and who has what assignment due that I don’t have a repertoire of interesting conversation topics. Plus I have a knack of horrible small conversation skills, so I just feel plain inadequate around her.

My point behind this…sometimes no matter how comfortable we think we are there are times we can all still feel small and insignificant.

IMG_3926
Seriously who could say mean things to this cute face?! Kids can be so cruel.
3. What happens when someone calls your daughter an ass

See the flying by the seat of your pants mama also thinks that kids need to handle some of their own disputes because they have to become adults that can handle other adults. I have my own bully that I have to deal with on a regular basis and I know my kids will run into people who act like idiots in their lives, too. So when my daughter told me that another girl called her an “ass” I told her to ignore it and steer clear of this girl. If she felt she needed to she could address it and tell the girl in her own words that she didn’t appreciate being called names. We talked about how when someone else calls you names it says a lot more about them than it does you and that this girl was just reacting to getting into trouble and taking it own on her.

Well what I didn’t realize is that my daughter actually felt threatened by this girl. So she was afraid to go to play practice. In a nutshell we had to have other talks about how you need to tell an adult that someone makes you feel unsafe and if you feel like someone is going to hurt you that you need tell an adult, “I  think this person might hurt me” or something to that effect.

So if someone calls your child names you may want to inquire if they actually feel threatened instead of it taking two teachers and two days to figure that out. Just saying in case this ever happens to you.

IMG_3781
He looks sweet and innocent but he can dig in and be relentless.
4. Life isn’t fair.

So, your child orders chocolate chip pancakes. Then they take three bites of said pancakes and ask for dessert. You tell the child no, that their dinner is much like dessert because of the chocolate chips. Be prepared for your child to tell you, “You are not being fair” and that “You are so mean”.

Said child also after downing an extra large M&M cookie, a full can of pink lemonade, and two handfuls of M&Ms asks for more snacks and you say no, they have had plenty of sugar and can wait until the show is over, one hour without a snack will not kill them. Be prepared to listen to whining for an hour regarding how unfair you are and how hungry they are and how could you starve them to death.

I kid you not, no matter how much you ignore them or tell them life isn’t fair, or time out them, you have to keep up with this for days for it to sink in that they will not get their way EVER! Be prepared to repeat this at age 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18 as a child seems to forget this lesson every 18 months or so and needs to relearn it. It is exhausting and you know what…it isn’t fair…because life isn’t fair and your kids make you aware of that at every turn.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 10.49.15 PM

I know only four lessons in two months. I am sure there were more and I am also sure that 4 is enough when your plate is full. So I leave you with those four lessons this month:

  • use the gifts you have even when you think you have lost them, they are still there
  • it is totally normal to feel inadequate from time to time we are human
  • always remember to ask your child lots of questions when they tell you things
  • last but not least life isn’t fair when you are 5 and can’t have dessert or when you are almost 40 and your dessert sticks to your thighs.

Love, laughter, and lots of learning to you,

signature

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.

jane and hilda

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 19: Some dads are just super

This year as I was collecting nominations for Holiday Cheer, I mentioned it to one of the teachers at my children’s school. I knew she was a long-standing member of the community and she would know if anyone was in need of some cheer this holiday season.

Without hesitation she knew the perfect family. She told me about Lee Block and his daughters, Sarah and Lauren. Lee’s wife and their mother, Michelle,  had battled Ovarian Cancer. She was a teacher in the Gilroy Unified School District for 17 years and just recently retired. And then in September she passed away.

The teacher who nominated this family had known them for years and knew that despite their amazing strength that this holiday would be the first of many difficult ones. She thought it would be great if The Holiday Cheer Elves could do something for them.

We were able to put together a few items for everyone. We were able to get some gift certificates for the movies, Bass Pro Shop and dinner for Lee and the girls were each given “Inspire” necklaces from Stella and Dot, lotions, Beauty Society product and movie gift certificates.

The teacher that nominated them made the delivery with another family friend and this is what she had to say,

Success!  We delivered the basket to Lee, Sarah, and Lauren this evening and lucked out that all were home.  At first Lee thought it was something from us, and then from Rucker.  We explained it was the Holiday Elves.  I think they were very touched….the girls were quite excited to be included in the gift and all are quite excited at the idea of visiting the new Bass Pro store.”

ATT00001

It is so lovely, that you were all able to offer love and support to this family during the holidays. Thank you to all who contributed. You are an amazing community and what you do does make a difference.

Sincerely,

Michelle & The Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 18: Raya Sunshine

home sweet home

Roughly 7 years ago I met Raya. We met through work; I was training her on a new software. She was bubbly, friendly and it didn’t matter when I saw her she was always fashionable, always with great shoes.

raya

Raya isn’t afraid to speak her mind or express her feelings. We quickly became friends and I learned of all her family’s struggles. Both she and her husband had lost their jobs due to the down turn in the economy. As they struggled to find their new way; they lost the family home that they had raised their three girls in. But always the optimist, Raya forged ahead knowing as long as they had each other they had everything they possibly needed. They moved a few times from rental to rental and finally at the end of last year decided to go on a grand adventure and head to Oregon to start over.

She knew that she and her husband would both be able to find jobs where they could actually live comfortably. Rent in California just continued to climb higher and higher, so they knew they needed to find a place where after earning their paychecks they could actually have some breathing room.

They have only been in Portland a short time, but already they are finding and creating a home there.

Bella, Raya’s youngest daughter, heard about holiday cheer and wanted to nominate her mom. She knew that even though the world couldn’t see the toll that the past few years had taken on Raya, she knew that it had. She wanted her mom to know how loved she was and how much people were rooting for their success.

il_570xN.713760434_9t1e
This is a sample mug. Visit https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1081209668 to go to the Etsy shop.

 

Raya, was the recipient of Day 18 of Holiday Cheer. I found mugs on Etsy that showed a connection between CA and OR (Bella is still here in CA) and we made ornaments with pictures of the whole family in them to hang on their tree every year to remind Raya that even though family might be miles away they are always with her. We also got her a welcome mat for her new home and a Home Depot gift card.

Thank you Elves and Bella for helping bring some sunshine and cheer to Raya!

Peace & Love,

Michelle and 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

Day 4: Holiday Blessings

Day 4: Holiday Blessings

12345513_997464746978552_6069338915283073298_n

Today is the first day I cried tears of joy for what you were all able to accomplish. A single father of two, who coaches multiple sports and works multiple jobs to make ends meet was our recipient.

2015-12-04_2231

I will never forget the first time I met Rick. Our sons happened to be in the same class together. I was attending Back to School Night and as we were walking out of the classroom his son held the door open for me and waited for me to exit the classroom. I was in awe of the eight-year-old gentleman that held the door open for me. It was Rick’s son. When I complimented Rick on his son he was incredibly humble.

Being a dad is what makes Rick the most proud and he puts everything he has into being a good father and provider for his family. His kids are truly an example of what a great father he is. They are hard workers, dedicated athletes, and bright scholars.

This past year has been a bit tougher and two of his friends wanted to help ease the stress for him. They were able to do that tonight when they delivered our goodies; donations you helped provide. When I talked to one of them after the delivery tonight and heard how touched Rick was I teared up. Knowing that our gift made such a big difference for someone and will make their holiday easier is such a blessing.

Rick, you are a man of value. Everything you do, you do with the best intentions and honor. We wish you and your family a very, happy holiday.

Peace and Love,

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.

Noelle's freehand

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.

IMG_3226

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)

 

 

April Lessons 2014…

April Lessons 2014…

April Lessons

Has this first week of May been a doosey for you, too?  Lots of weird little things popping into your day. Running into strange occurrences while you are out and about? It just has been an odd little week, but it got me thinking about my April Lessons and what I should be learning in this life. Do you ever do that? Wonder what life’s events are trying to teach you? Maybe I attach meaning to too many things, but it is what helps me keep on keeping on, so it is what I do. If you are that kind of person that you get me and that is why I share my lessons in hopes that they will resonate with you. So if you are taking a rest from a crazy week to be a bit reflective this post is for you.

1. Find your church:

Alright so let me be clear, I am not saying go out and find an actual church exactly. I say exactly because if you have found a church you love then go there. If you think an actual church is what you need and you don’t have one, then by all means go out searching. Even though I am baptized Catholic, the Buddhist Churches have always been my favorite. But church is not for everyone. Church is not everyone’s place that they feel the most connected to God or where they even find peace.

For me running is my church. When I am out jogging I am talking to God. I spend the majority of my run being thankful and grateful for my life. And most of my time out there witnessing God’s work. The mastery of the landscape and the gifts that have been bestowed in my life; that is where I connect with God in ways I have never found anywhere else. When I stopped running 18 months ago I lost this. This past week, I am on my way back to it again. Finding your church fills you up in ways nothing else can.

2. Never give up:

We live in a world full of excuses and blame. When I taught I used to write this on the white board.

I can't

Then I would draw this over it:

I Can't crossed out

We can do anything. I know sometimes it seems impossible, that everything is stacked against us and obstacles pop-up in every instance. The one thing I have learned is that if you want to do something you will find a way; no matter what. If you don’t want to do something than you will find an excuse. So my point is if you are after something, if you want it; do not allow excuses to happen. Get past the obstacles, get past the doubt, get past the objections, keep going and you will get to where you want to be. When the haters out there tell you, you can’t; when you tell yourself in weakness that you can’t – make sure that the strength inside you answers, “watch me”.

3. The upside of depression:

So when you live with depression your inner voice and your brain feel as if they work against you. Waking up is hard, taking the first step is hard, you feel like you are worthless in every sense. You feel like you damage everything you touch. You walk around the world with your nerve endings on the outside of your skin. Each thing that happens to you; you feel it for days, weeks, months. You feel each thing deeply.

There is goodness in that . You develop a sense of empathy that other people cannot match. You know what it is like to feel and to be broken. With that comes an understanding of others that is vast and deep. If you are “extra feely” as I like to call it, then you are extra kind, extra caring, and you reach out to help others even when you don’t always help yourself. You know hurt when you see it in someone else’s eyes even when they are wearing their strongest mask. You see the line in someone’s smile that is just a tad bit off, that shows their pain even when they laugh.

These things can help us connect. Depression leaves you feeling alone, so lost that sometimes it seems like a dark, dank never-ending cave. But if we use our “extra feely-ness” as a spidey sense; then we can connect to others when they need it most. We can catch the things others might miss. Our kryptonite can be our super power if we learn to use it instead of succumb to it.

4. Every single day is a do over:

You know when we were kids and we got do overs. The other day I was thinking about how much I missed those. And then it hit me; every single day is a do over. We get another shot to make things right and do better because we know better.

To quote Glennon Melton, “God is forever tries.” God is forever tries. He gives you another chance every single sunrise.

5. Shake the “busy’s”:

Everyone is busy. Anyone you talk to you can tell you how fast life is going, how busy they are and how little time that they have. I fall into this trap all the time. Do you?

I know, it is hard not to. There really is so much going on in our lives and the blessing of technology also has created a much more fast paced environment. Everyone is in a rush to get through all the things.

It is my goal each day to try to shake the busy’s. You have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. Now I know you may not have as much help as she does to get through your day, or the funds to do all the crazy adventures you might want to; I get it. But if you take excuses out of the equation and you envision the life you want to have; then all you have to do is make that your goal for the day. Don’t be too busy to get your work out in. Don’t be too busy to read that book to your little one. Don’t be too busy that you can’t check in with that friend you have meant to. Don’t be too busy that you can’t take five minutes to yourself to reflect upon your day. All of these things are important. Focus on what you want in a day and make that your priority. Everything else will still be there and still get done, eventually. Take your time and do what you think is important and time will slow down.

So know you know what I have reflected on during all the craziness this week. What are you learning? I would love to hear more about what meaning you are extracting from life’s events. Tell me all about it on my facebook page or your facebook page with the #myaprillessons. Or you can just leave me your lesson in the comments.

We are unlimitedI can’t wait to hear what you are learning…

On pins and needles,

signature

Cheer Day 28

Cheer Day 28

Day 28

Having a baby is a joyous occasion, but for some littles life starts out with a fight and unfortunately can continue that way to the very end. For 7-year-old Johnathan this is the case. He was born fighting for his life and by age 3 he was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Disease type C. This disease is often called “Childhood Alzheimer’s” because it will eventually rob a child of everything.

Life is not fair

Johnathan’s mother, Rebecca was nominated by Tiffany. Tiffany wanted to nominate Rebecca because of her strength, optimism and courageous spirit. Rebecca and her family are fighting to find help find a cure for this awful disease. Johnathan is now in a trial at NIH in Maryland. He travels there once a month to have injections of Cyclodextrin into his spine.

To learn more about Johnathan and his story visit www.johnathanspencer.org or to give to Johnathan’s family visit www.gofundme.com/af73gk. Help this family bring awareness to their cause and help make a cure a reality.

There are no good words to say to someone whose child is suffering. In my experience this phrase works well:

this sucks 100%

 

We hope the trial is going well, Rebecca. We offer our prayers and support.

God bless you and your family,

The Cheer Squad