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,

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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.

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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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Next level

Next level

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Seat at the Table

A Seat at the Table

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer was simple.

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

Be still and know that I am God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is okay…

to feel lonely sometimes

to be scared

to be nervous

to try new things

to decide not to try new things

to live in the RIGHT NOW

to let the past go

to let the future be what it will be

to hide when I need to

to show up

to believe I am meant for great things

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

to use my armor when I need it

to live outside the lines

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

to believe in miracles and magic

to laugh, live and love

to always take my seat at the table

to be my own advocate

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

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

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

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Scared

Scared

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

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

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I am scared of the little and the big things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scared but hopeful,

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Big mistakes and bravery

Several years ago I started to disarm myself. Piece by piece I set down my armor. I came out of hiding and decided in order to live fully I must be seen fully. That is why I started this blog and even named it “afourytale” – a fairy tale; four kids – a..four..ytale…get it.

I didn’t want the cliché version of a fairytale; I wanted to rewrite the standard fairytale. Fairytales aren’t beautiful stories with happy endings. Fairytales are messy, unkept, broken stories that do not always have perfect endings. When I read how the little mermaid really ended in her becoming foam on the ocean; my heart crumpled. But I think we need to rewrite these stories with more modern versions of truth. Fairytales are our lives – they are hard, broken, beautiful, messy, lonely, noisy, colorful tales of truth and vulnerability.

I wanted to share that even with all of the mess that life can bring our perspective can create that story into a fairytale. And in order to do that; I was going to have to set down my armor and show all the sides of myself and my life. I couldn’t hide behind perfectionism any more. I didn’t want to be seen as perfect anymore. In fact I had come to despise that word and every time someone would describe me that way I would cringe. I had to shed the armor and leave perfectionism behind me.

Now disarming myself and shedding my armor is something I have found that I have to relearn on a regular basis. My default button is to run and hide. It is so much easier to grab my armor, steel myself and let things bounce off of me and not feel.

After three years of constantly setting down my armor a strange thing has happened. Now when I try on my mask and armor it doesn’t fit right. Something feels askew.

Each time I try to put on my armor or retreat to its steely protection I hear loud and clear these words from the Universe: “Fear not. Remember.”

When I hear these words I set down my armor and go out into the world feeling extremely unprepared, totally naked and yet fully alive. I let what comes hit me and instead of retreating I feel each inch of it and decide not to let others dictate how I feel about something, but to define it for myself.

For instance, yesterday I was called selfish. It stung. It hurt fiercely. But I decided instead of retreating, instead of hiding my hurt, to fully listen to how it was said and decide for myself – is that how I define me?

I take things personally. Does that make me selfish? No, it makes me human. I do not have to change that I take things personally. I am a person after all. I just need to make sure the person that I am talking to; knows that I am hearing them as well.

I am not selfish. My truth is that I am kind, super extra feely, and that being personal and feeling everything that comes at me is how I best process the world. If I just allow myself to feel only what other people expect me to and to only react the way other people expect me to, then I am right back in my armor and that is not how I want to live my life.

Being brave is setting down your armor and being your true self. Brene Brown uses the Teddy Roosevelt quote about going out into the arena:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  – Theodore Roosevelt

Life is the arena; where we show up leaving our armor behind and let our blood and sweat show for all to see. When we do that we can become connected to one another. We can also become whole. We become fully alive.

Why am I telling you all this? I tend to make mistakes on a large-scale. I tend to make mistakes that affect other people and not just myself. Not on purpose mind you. I go in with my whole heart and do my very best. Daring greatly if you will. But I have also learned that if something doesn’t feel right then it isn’t something you should keep doing no matter what.

About a month ago I tried to do something I thought I always wanted; only to find that it didn’t fit anymore. It wasn’t who I was any longer; it was only who I thought I was. It was a part of me that fit into my armor. And since I can’t wear my armor anymore without feeling completely ridiculous and askew; this activity didn’t fit me either. I had to say, “No thank you; this isn’t what I want.” It was hard. It was scary. It was also just right for me. Being brave sometimes means saying no thank you, that’s not for me even when everyone else is watching.

And last but not least, being brave also means asking for help. A group of my friends decided to get together. I couldn’t fathom trying to join them. I felt like bad company and thought it would just be a bad idea to go. “No one wants to see me any way. I won’t be missed,” I thought.

The words of the universe stirred in me again…”Fear not. Remember”… and I began to reevaluate my thoughts. Ah-ha! There I go again defining myself using other people’s ideas. What do I want? What is best for me? And my answer changed. I wanted to go. I was still scared and nervous that I would chicken out at the last-minute. I know some of you think this rather silly to be scared of your own tribe, but letting myself be seen by the people I love is terribly difficult, because what if they woke up today and decide they don’t like me anymore. They can see all of me now and if they don’t like me after they have seen everything then what? Fear of pain, fear of rejection still creeps into my soul and takes away my courage to be seen.

So instead of retreating and hiding – my default – I sent them a group text. “Guys, I want to go tonight. But I am scared I will decide to hide here at home instead. Can someone please come pick me up so I can’t back out.” And guess what; someone came and picked me up. Everyone rallied behind me. Everyone understood.

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I can’t live in my armor anymore. I have to live in the arena. My soul is the only thing that feels true any more. Just because my armor doesn’t  fit doesn’t stop me from trying to slink back into it mind you.

Armor has many names…perfectionism, fear, hatred, addiction – the things we use to numb are armor. The things we use to hide ourselves it is all armor. You have to know what your armor is to know how to take it off and set it down.

I have had many people comment on my courage and bravery the last year and I never thought this was me. “I am just a girl,” I say. “I am just trying to take the next best step for me.” But I have taken time to define bravery for myself.

Being brave is….

not letting fear dictate your choices

not defining who you are by other people’s standards

taking your next right step

remembering who you are

remembering to ask for help

setting your armor down and stepping into the arena unprepared, raw and wide open.

I guess by that definition I am brave. But I am also just a girl trying to take the next right step. But I am not doing it in the quiet darkness, steeled against the world. I am doing it here, and in the arena, and out in the open for all to see. Some days that feels really difficult, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. So here is to big mistakes and bravery because I have more to make and more to learn.

Fear not.Remember –

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afourytale

Still here; still learning…

Still here; still learning…

It’s been awhile I know. There is a lot happening in our fourytale lives. So much learning going on it is enough to make my head spin. In my quest to the best possible adult I can be (so that I set an example for my children; walk the walk and all that jazz) and to continually be authentic to the rest of the world (as opposed to hiding myself like a hermit in public places) I take a moment to jot down and share these lessons with all of you. It makes sense to me that there is someone out there that stumbles along the same pathways. So I share my musings to help that same someone; even if it is really just to make me feel a little less alone.

Loved this She.Is.Beautiful sign
Loved this She.Is.Beautiful sign

1. Let go of FEAR…

FEAR is the number one reason that we stop in our tracks and don’t take that leap of faith into something new. I am going to go ELSA on all your butts and tell you to “LET IT GO”, queue music and the throwing off of the cape.

Small amounts of fear of course keep us safe or a little bit of nerves keeps us on our toes. I am not saying live with complete reckless abandon; you can not blame me for what you do in Vegas on your next trip.

What I am saying is take that next step, try that new place, go to that movie by yourself if you really want to see it. Fear leads to regret and that is a heavy weight that most of us carry. Let go of fear before you are 40.

Swing at the park with your kids instead of just watching from the sidelines.
Swing at the park with your kids instead of just watching from the sidelines.

2. Be happy in your size 14 jeans or size 18 or size 2 or whatever…

Being healthy is important and that is something I still struggle with. But bottom line find happiness and enoughness right now! Life is short. Choose happy and move towards that no matter what size you are. Life is too short to wallow.

My happy place
My happy place

3. If you are an introvert…

Quiet is rare and much-needed if you are an introvert. Do not feel guilty for needing it. Extroverts are usually a part of an introvert’s life somewhere; their best friend, spouse, or even their child. These extroverts may make you feel a bit guilty for your need to have quiet to recharge. Don’t let them strip that quiet time away from you. Find it, savor it, and you will be a better person for taking that time to yourself.

IMG_10914. Don’t let your children take life too seriously…

Let’s take sports at 10 years old for example. As I watch my son run sprints, do push ups, and coaches fume at each other during and after a ball game I think to myself that all this is just a little too TURBO for kids. The parents get way too involved in the need to win and succeed. There is a lot of fun missing in kids sports these days. We need to remember that while kids are capable of a great deal, there is something to be said for just letting them enjoy this part of their life. Adulting is really not a ton of fun all the time. I mean, HELLO – mortgages, fixing and maintaining cars, bills, junk mail, rent, JOBS – EVERY SINGLE DAY JOBS – there is no SPRING BREAK in adulthood. So letting them be little is a bit too priceless for us to allow 10 year olds to treat their baseball season like a career.

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Stinker 1

 

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Stinker 2

5. Not really a lesson but…

So this isn’t really a lesson I guess, but maybe make sure your toddler age kids go to the bathroom before you sit down to eat – like an hour before. I swear to all that is holy in this world that every time I sit down to eat one of my twin boys needs help wiping their butt. It really should be a better weight loss plan, but somehow that isn’t working out for me either. But I think I am just passing this along as a word to the wise. If you can avoid butt wiping at meals, try. Maybe other people know this already, but somehow these two boys make a difficult task daily.

6. Trust your instincts…

Unless your instincts tell you to jump off a bridge without a bungee cord, trust your instincts. Lately I have had to do a great deal of that. I have had to listen to my intuition follow it and hope for the best. Each and every time it has led me to the right decision. (Yes, for those skeptics out there I just jinxed myself and you can read about that in my next post). No, but really, listen to your soul it knows what is best for you. Follow it and you will be so surprised where it can lead you. The things – friendships, healing, growth, spirituality that I have found by following my soul has been life changing.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me indulge a little by sharing my recent lesson learning experiences with you. LIVE today and ENJOY.

Until next time,

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September Lessons 2014 Style…

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Ah, September…

I know people love fall. My grandmother loved fall with the change of leaves and seasons, but I am not a fan.

Nope.

Fall = start of school craziness.

September is not my favorite month, not by a long shot. It might actually come in 12th out of 12.

However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have anything to teach me; I definitely continued to learn through September; hopefully you will gain some wisdom from my lessons, too and if you don’t gain wisdom then maybe a good laugh or at least a sense of solidarity for a moment knowing that you are not alone.

shit could be worse

1. I CAN NOT DO IT ALL

This lesson keeps slapping me in the face and somehow the resiliency in me keeps ignoring it. I jump right back up and try to do everything again; then a wave of overwhelm comes and knocks me right back down. I need to remember this lesson. You just have to do what matters to you most and forget the rest. What you got done in a day, you get done and really things could always be worse.

2. Tell everything

People that wear masks make me nervous. My favorite people are the people who are open, honest and you know exactly where you stand with them.

I always have been able to see right through to someone’s soul. I know you even if you don’t want me to, so when you wear a mask that doesn’t jive with who you are it gives me the heebie jebbies.

I know a lot of people buy other people based on exterior images all day long, but most of us see past that.

Be who you are. Be open, be vulnerable.

Take my word for it; the past two years I have done my best to be completely open. I haven’t regretted one minute of it. Not one.

It is still scary and I have been hurt, but my life is way more complete now that I am just all out there.

 

Small Town Girl

3. I am a small town, down home girl

Crowds are not my thing. Bypassing any event that has more than 10 people is always a must on my list. I like being where I know people and people know me.

My daughter started a new school this month and having the community there welcome her and make her feel important was HUGE. Her other school was over crowded and she was often overlooked. Being a part of our small town community is a blessing.

I love passing cows on my way home. Seeing pumpkins and corn grow and then being able to buy that same produce at our local produce stands is nothing short of awesome.

Cities smell like sewers and are over grown with people who push, rush, and stampede past one another. No thank you.

Love my small town.

4. It’s way too easy to fall off the wagon

One year of running like a mad woman. One year down 22 pounds.

One year later, I watch too many shows on T.V. and love my couch. I am up 30 pounds to my heaviest ever and crave COKE.

Easy peasy is just too easy peasy.

It is so easy when you are tired to stay sedentary and just flop to sleep. I know I have four kids, two dogs, a full-time job, a new part-time job, am a struggling writer, and try to have some time for friends so it makes sense to be exhausted.

I know I should not give myself too hard a time for not being as fit as I could be right now. I know beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but I still need to get back on that wagon. I know many of us hop on and off… I know lots of you have been in my shoes.

I have to start where I am every day, accept that and be good with it.

start where you are

I would just like to stay on the wagon and have it be easy. Not going to happen I know, for right now I am just waiting for that wagon to come back round the mountain again so I can jump back on. I will keep you posted.

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5. Parenting strips you of your dignity

Parenting is not a bowl full of Lucky Charms. Parenting absolutely without a doubt takes every ounce of dignity you ever had and up-chucks it out in front of every available audience to see.

At a local school fundraiser, I had to drag a child screaming through the crowd and the parking lot all because he dropped his glow stick in the dark way past where we were going back for it and he lost his mind because I wouldn’t go back for it. This is the up-teenth time I have had to drag a kid screaming from some event or store because the started to throw a fit and I wouldn’t cave.

I have cleaned up poop off of public restroom floors because kids have gone in their underwear and as I remove it to change them it drops right out on the floor. I have had poop splash in my face, same type of scenario.

This month on three separate occasions one of my younger children has asked if the bump on my belly is a new baby – NO IT IS NOT for those of you wondering the same thing – but that of course did not make me feel any better about my appearance.

Kids tell it like it is and embarrass you to no end with their antics. I still content their should be some sort of academy awards for moms. We need a red carpet event that celebrates us and all we do in a day. C.K. Lewis could host with and help bring humor to our stories. And really we could all use a night out where we could enjoy our own dinner without having to be interrupted or cut up someone else’s food. Am I right or am I right?

 

- Sam Parker
– Sam Parker

6. Kindness matters

Sitting in a restaurant this past weekend listening to a grown woman berate her aging mother within earshot of the entire front house and waiter who was standing at their table it was completely clear how much people are disgusted by rudeness.

The same can be said how astonished and cheered people are by kindness. When you wait to hold open a door, stop to help them pick up dropped items, return a dropped item, or even ask if they need help.

This time last year I participated in the 21 Day Kindness Challenge and it made me focus on doing one Random Act of Kindness a Day. I still do this, every day and the acts of kindness have a greater impact on my life than they do on those I help.

Do one RAK a day; it really does make every day sweeter.

7. ADD

Check email, check Facebook, check messages, fast forward through commercials, DVR favorite shows, listen to Sirius Radio, check Google for answers, ask Siri, all these things have made me prone to attention deficit disorder.

I had to watch regular, love TV the other day and could not believe how irritated I was at the commercial break. At one point, I almost forgot what I was watching. The pitfalls of technology.

Sometimes I think we do need to drop all the devices and remember how to get things done without them and how to soak up what is around us.

8. I have issues with things taking their time

Delayed gratification might just be a nemesis of mine. Relationships take time and you have to let people get to know you, but I have never been good at that. I am a quick judge of character and I am ready to be your friend right away if we get along. When it takes two years to finally get to know people and start to do things together that drives me crazy.

That and lost socks.

single socks

I mean really where do these things disappear to?

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9. I used to be…

intelligent, witty, current, driven…then I had kids. Now I am home Friday nights preparing for a big day of soccer, Home Depot maybe pick out some wallpaper and Bed, Bath and Beyond if we have time.

 

soccer

10. I am a crazy, embarrassing mama bear

At soccer one Saturday, you may have heard a crazy mom after her son was pushed several times by the other team and no call was made by the ref say something like, “Don’t let him push you! Push him back!” If you did, that was me. I don’t know what came over me.

Doing the best I can, right where I am, one day at a time,

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Be – you – tiful

My most recent homework from my therapist was to say 3 nice things about myself daily and then finally to say 1 of those things out loud to a family member.

I know, seems easy right? Not easy for me.

In fact it has been the most difficult homework assignment ever! I have spent most of my life being who people thought I was.

“Whether true or false, what is said about men often has as much influence on their lives, and particularly on their destinies, as what they do.” 
― Victor HugoLes Misérables

“Perfect child”

“Responsible”

“Confident”

“Leader”

“Hard-working”

“Smart”

I know that these are great things to be, but I spent so much time being those things that I didn’t really know what was me and what was just my reputation.

So, homework assignment in hand; I had to really think about me and who I actually am.

What do I like? What do I do well? What makes me, me?

This all got me thinking about how I like being some of the things other people think about me. Like, responsible and hard-working. Those are two things that I think are deeply ingrained in my soul.

But just thinking about the word “perfect” makes me SHUDDER.

I am IMPERFECT, just one great big beautiful oops.

In fact, Beautiful Oops is also one of my favorite books. If you haven’t read it. Buy it. Read it. Read it to your children. Buy one for a friend.

Beautiful Oops

This short children’s book wonderfully illustrates how making mistakes is natural and that so much learning and grace can come from mistakes.

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Now I am not saying that we should strive to make mistakes; I am just saying we should be comfortable in making them as long as we learn from them and see them as opportunities for growth. But I digress, point is I like being imperfect. There is a great deal of beauty in the imperfect.

I also am a good mom. I am the kind of mom that let’s her little girl plant kisses in the garden and makes sure that it grows into something tangible…

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I am the kind of mom that helps her kids make forts, masks, 6 foot long drawings, and make their very own salsa.

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And always makes sure we have birthday cake pancakes for special occasions.

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But I am also the mom that always explains why, that has never-ending hugs and kisses, is incredibly patient and apologizes for mistakes. I am the kind of mom that always puts her family first and loves unconditionally.

I also realized recently, that despite spending the past 10 years as a hermit and afraid of making connections, that I am a FRIEND JUNKIE.

When I decided to do this whole vulnerable and live out loud business I never thought that I would end up making such great friends or needing them around so much. And I have made GREAT friends.

This last little while, I have spent a lot of time with them, too and when I don’t see them I am lonely and I miss them. This is weird for me because I have spent a good deal of time convincing myself I didn’t need friends. Well, I totally need them and kind of adore them and wish I could see all of them everyday. I know I don’t have pictures of some of you (Debbie, Dorothy, Janet, Nadien, Alyssa, everyone…but you are loved none-the-less). I love my friends!

Me and the bestie
Me and the bestie
Cheese!
Cheese!
Crafty Rebecca
Crafty Rebecca

And my family – I adore my family. I am still head over heels in love with my husband and feel so blessed to have 4 great, funny, AMAZING children.

Love my husband
Love my husband

My dad, mom and two sisters are the best and I love them dearly.

mom & dad
mom & dad
Me and My sista
Me and My sista
sister
sister

And my niece is pretty amazing, too. I love her to pieces!

fairy princess
fairy princess

I have also come to realize that I am kind. I LOVE helping others and making other people happy. That is really important to me.

Today while I was running, I also realized that there is an athlete that lives inside of me. She is kind of awesome and I have to do a better job of helping her thrive.

Even though most of the time I am terribly afraid to do new things; I love to do and learn new things. I love to bake and am pretty good at it, too. I love the smell of fresh-cut grass, going on walks, and curling up with a good book.

Silly

Most of the time though I am just a silly girl doing her best to find her way to the best version of herself. I want to be the kind of adult I hope my kids become.

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So here is to believing I can be the best version of myself and to completing my homework assignment…

I am imperfect.

I am kind.

I am a good mom.

I am a helpful person.

It’s a start.

Shine on my friends…

M

Goodnight 35…

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy-the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown.

Hapy Birthday Candles

Tomorrow I turn 36 years old, so I say goodnight 35….

Goodnight Sweet Chalkboard Drawings…

Chalkboard card

Goodnight sleeping toddlers…

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Goodnight 10 year anniversary…

10 year anniversary

Goodnight Favorite Book…Favorite Book

Goodnight Dance Class Afternoons…

Dance Class Divas

Goodnight Silly Cousin Antics…

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Goodnight Teacher Appreciation Supply Cakes and Amazing Art Creations…

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Goodnight First Ever Color Run…

Color Run

Goodnight Scootering for the First Time…

Scootering

Goodnight Kindergarten Graduations…

Kinder

Goodnight Beach Days, New Pinterest Recipes and Batting Cage Bravery…

photo 1(3)photo 4Batting Cage Bravery

Goodnight Golden Gate and Summer Sidewalk Chalk…

Golden Gate

Summer Sidewalk Chalk

Goodnight Cardboard Extravaganza, First Kid Trip to the Circus and Our Second Spring Garden…

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Goodnight Pumpkin Hunting…

Found it!

Goodnight to becoming a brunette, Holiday Cheer Inspiration, and Brene Brown Lifeclass Learning…

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Goodnight Newport Beach Thanksgiving Sunsets…

Sunset

and Goodnight Christmas Parade Walking and the perfect Christmas Tree…

Christmas Parade

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Thank you 35 for all the wonderful memories, good health, and personal growth. I am so grateful for this year and can’t wait to see what next year brings. Goodnight 35 because…

A day well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.

35 for a few more hours,

M