Main Pic

Main Pic

March 10, 2018


I know I have written about this before, on my social media and on this blog (read herehere and here) as  I think it is an important topic to talk about, but I don’t talk about it often because, well, for a lot of reasons. Mainly, because I often feel alone during these times and it’s hard to put the feelings into words.  I bet the majority of people around me don’t know that I struggle with depression from time to time, or when I’m struggling with a period of depression because on the outside it is easier to smile and push through it.  But sometimes I feel like a shell of the person I am and although I am me, the best parts of myself become locked away, inaccessible.

We don’t even call it depression in my house, we call it gloominess. We started calling it gloominess when my 9-year old son most recently began to express periods of sadness, feeling alone and unworthiness. He said he feels like a cloud of gloominess has washed over him.  He once articulately summarized depression as, “It’s like watching all my friends play tag football together. They are running around, laughing and having fun and I am just sitting and watching. Even if they yell at me to come and join them, I can’t. I am just stuck watching them laugh while I feel sad on the sidelines.”
This broke my heart to know he was struggling with the very same feelings I have struggled with since childhood, but it did not surprise me. You see, depression runs in my family and it most often affects those, including myself, with similar personalities; the empaths, the sensitive souls that feel deeply and care greatly. On one hand, I am thankful that I am someone who can intricately understand what he is going through, that I can help him be a voice to his pain. On the other, I am sad that he may continue to have these ups and downs because they are not easy and they are not fun. I have learned a lot from them though, most importantly how to sit with the uncomfortable sadness.

Today as I was walking next to my oldest son, I asked him with an arm draped around his shoulder,
 “Do you ever feel sad and gloomy, like a dark cloud comes and rests over your head for awhile?”

Ya, sometimes,” he said.
 And what do you do to shake it off of you, to get over it?”

What do you mean?” I asked him.

I don’t do anything to get rid of the feelings. I just let them pass. They always do.”
That was my 11-year providing mature emotional insight to his 36-year old Mama who keeps trying to shake off the gloominess because I am tired of just sitting with it. Reminding me that sometimes we have to hang on to the knowledge that waves come in and then they go back out. Learning to float may be the best thing we can do.

The other day my husband, in the most loving way, began to offer advice on what I can do to feel better.  "Do you want to watch a show on TV? Maybe movement will help you! Do you want to rejoin the Y? Take yoga classes? Getting out and walking when the sun is out will help you.”

I know.  I know that movement will help. I know the sunshine will help. I know music will help. Drawing will help. Gratitude will help. Stretching will help. And my response as tears streamed down my face was, “I hear you talking words at me and I cannot make those things resonate with my body right now. I am just going to have to sit and wait for awhile because I don’t have an ounce of energy to do any of that. I just need to lay down with my heated blanket for awhile and let the thickest of the gloomy clouds roll out because that is the best I can do right now."

And today I did something. I got up,  made myself coffee, went to my kiddo’s basketball game and witnessed him make a basket for the first time in a game, came home and began to clean the house as I try to do every Saturday. For a little while I forgot about the sadness and the sun was shining. But as I moved from room to room, becoming overwhelmed with the tasks on my to-do list, I began to feel the clouds roll back in. I walked into my boys’ room to make their beds and I discovered the drawing my 9-year old had been working on at bedtime last night.

There is so much guilt to contend with when you are a mother struggling with depression. You feel like you cannot be enough for your family, you beat yourself up that some nights you go to bed before them because all the noise is overwhelming. Some nights you cannot cuddle them because you are exhausted emotionally and mentally.  It’s just the worst part about all of this. But finding little reminders like this is a balm to the weary soul. It makes me realize that although we each have struggled with something hard, we have each other.

The best way out is always through. Isn’t that what Robert Frost said? I don’t really think there is any other way. But even walking through it, or sitting with it, we don’t have to do it alone.  Depression can make you *feel* utterly alone. I know this.  And I have learned to listen to my feelings, to acknowledge them, to thank them, even,  but to also trust in the knowing that remains somewhere in my brain. “It will get better. I am not alone.”  

February 19, 2018

I Need Help...

From the time he came earth side, my son has been my greatest teacher. Beginning as an infant suffering with 50 food and environmental allergies, moving into toddlerhood with speech delays, and later onto early elementary with mounting frustration in the traditional public school setting, he has needed his mom to think outside the box, to brainstorm, and most importantly, to advocate for him. This has been challenging, heart-stretching work.

I have approached each of these pivotal times, as the perfectionist I am. I turned over every stone, spent hours upon hours online performing detective-style research and finally, when in spite of all that, I just could not figure it all out myself and I felt like time was running out, I secretly whispered a plea into the 4:00 am sky, “I need some help.” And every time, help would come. We found a wonderful naturopath to clear his allergies. The Help Me Grow program provided speech therapy. And then, at the beginning of 2nd grade when my bright and creative child was ready to give up on school and I found myself laying wide awake in bed with tears streaming down my face, we found Red Oak Community School, or maybe ROCS found us.

When asked to sit at a desk or in front of a computer, tactile learners such as my son can start to look like kids who cannot focus, who misbehave, and who have trouble settling their bodies down. Traditional public schools often limit children's space or ability to move, a detriment to kinesthetic learners.

I knew my son was capable, he just needed space to move while he was doing academic work. At home we would bounce balls while doing math facts; he would roll around on the couch while studying sight words; and while reading out loud to him, he would draw the story in his art pad. He did not like sitting down to do homework sheets, as he would much rather be outside climbing trees. In first grade, he learned to play guitar and taught himself chords. By second grade we knew he had a musical gift when he could listen to music and play it on his guitar the first time. When I reached out to his teacher to see if he could bring his guitar in and play a song for the class, she saiid, “I am sorry. We don’t do show and tell at school.” 

There were multiple conferences with multiple teachers ringing alarm bells that he was very smart, but they were worried he could not channel his intelligence into success in the classroom and that he would not pass the 3rd grade English Language Arts (ELA) test due to his inability to sit for long periods of time. There was mention of medication. They attempted some tactile tools like fidgets, bands on the chairs, letting him take a walk around the library in the morning, and sitting at the back of the rug in case he needed to wiggle. Still he came home in tears day after day when he had to move his clip down on the discipline chart and his new mantra became, “I’m just a bad kid.”

As a mom, there came a point when I could no longer listen to my son say he was a bad kid anymore! I was ready to quit my job and homeschool him even though in my heart I knew that was not a feasible option for our family. I reached out to my Facebook community and that’s when I learned about ROCS, a “homeschool school.” My interest was piqued.  I spent hours on the website learning about this fascinating school where kids can play in the woods, use sensory tools for all the lessons, where they do not assign homework nor tests, and where they listen and learn from children’s need to move while learning (read more about this in Movement Matters).

I knew this was the place for my son. I wrote a check to Red Oak Community School with the application form and carried it in my purse. When my husband and I toured the school and Cheryl, the school manager, said, “Think about it and let me know,” I handed her the check and said, “I already know.” He was added to the wait list for 5-Day students and 1 month later, we got a call: “We have an opening for your son. We cannot wait to have him.” Even though he started a few months after the first school year began, he was welcomed with open arms.

Today he is thriving! He loves school, his creative spirit has an outlet, he is successful, and he can move! He has brought his guitar in and played many times, including during the filming of the school song. His eyes light up on Monday when he eagerly checks the weather and gets his gear ready for the day. He has never uttered “I am a bad kid” again. 
Testimonial post was originally written for The Red Oak Community School blog:

September 13, 2017

I am enough

I am human. I am enough.

Sometimes I get frustrated at the little voice inside my head every once in awhile that likes to tell me that I am lacking for something. That little voice is so annoying.

What's even more frustrating is that sometimes I believe it.
Why do those pesky feelings of lack creep in? Even when we have SO much abundance in our lives and could easily name 100 things we are grateful for, there are still those thoughts that say, "If only.."

You know those, right?

"If only I could lose the weight."
"If only I could be fit."
"If only I could have the job that pays me more money."
"If only I didn't have to commute so far to work every day."
"If only I could be a stay at home parent."
"If only I could have the nice house on the acreage with lots of sunshine AND woods, the chickens and the goats." (Or is that just me?)

I was just looking at that list above. I wrote it without thinking much about what I was writing and it made me realize something. I have lost the weight. I have had the job that paid more money. I had a 10 minute commute once upon a time. I stayed at home with my kids.

Looking back, it made no difference in my joy. What I mean is, if I didn't mindfully spend time feeling gratitude for where I was in my life back then, I still wanted more.

I remember feeling tense and anxious when there was traffic on my 10 minute commute and now I spend an hour in the car each morning and afternoon driving all over the city. If only...

I had a job that paid me substantially more money and I was stressed out all the time and I could never leave work at work. If only...

I was a stay at home parent for many years, and I would never want to go back and change that because I am really grateful for the time I spent with my sons. Truthfully though, I failed at times because I was tired, cranky, never felt like I had any time for myself and was always on call. Now I have friends at work, my own little space, responsibilities outside of my children and it feels good. I longed for that when I was in the thick of those dreary winter days at home with children and especially when I had postpartum depression for several months with newborns. If only...

I remember a nurse asking me my weight and height right before having surgery on my gallbladder. I had lost 15 pounds from being ill. When I told her, she said I was like a model and remarked if only she could be so tall and thin like me. I remember thinking the truth was that I felt foreign in my body. I didn't want to be small like a model, I wanted to feel stronger and bigger and yet I was so weak. If only...

Wherever I am right now is the best place to be. It's hard to feel that way sometimes but I hold this as my truth.

Lately when those feelings of "if only" creep in whether it's about myself or my circumstances, I mindfully tell myself that I am enough; that everything is as it should be. I remind myself to look at the love around me.

The home I have cultivated for my family over the years with still more vision to bring to life.

The memories that I hold dear in my heart. The friendships I have made at work. The amazing school I get to drive my child to every day and watch him thrive because of that long commute.

When I can feel the ache in my heart to own this piece of land, this homestead where my kids can run and climb trees, I sit on my deck and watch my children play with their best friends right outside our back door and dig my hands into the abundant soil in my garden beds that have provided so much for my family and given me the opportunity to share with neighbors and friends.

This life, it is constantly changing. I will always hold my dreams and desires for the future close to my heart, but learning to find joy in the present, to find gratitude right now: it's what makes being human so worthwhile.

We are enough.

May 11, 2016

Goodbye American dream

I am letting go of the status quo. Never more so than now have I desired to be free of the confines of the system into which I have been born. For so long I have lived this American dream of having debt accumulating in order to pay off "things" that I bought in the past and as soon as they are paid off there is more on the horizon waiting to be bought. We are told this is just the way typical people live their lives and the way the capitalistic system works and flourishes. Yet, I have educated myself so much about the system of money in this country that I have become disillusioned to the livelihood we have created with this false sense of security and my need to escape the current state of affairs is gripping me. I've stopped listening to the media. I've stopped stepping foot in stores that draw you in with the idea that there is something necessary waiting inside that you must buy. I am not a "Target" for consumerism anymore. This path is going to take a lot of time, a lot of examination and probably the most dedication I have ever experienced to live freely without credit cards of any kind, with only the profit I am paid for the work I put forward and nothing more. I am not borrowing against the commodity of my time anymore. When you start to examine closely the way society works, you start to see that we each have an amount we are told we are worth, our output of work is worth, by the businesses we work for. We do not, in most circumstances unless you work for yourself, get to decide how much we should be paid. There is a pretty standard rate of pay for the job we each do and once you meet that ceiling, you are stuck finding a higher paying job. The major flaw with this is that the jobs that provide the most important services, (mental health workers, teachers, farmers, etc) pay so little while the jobs that continuously bring money back into the system pay the highest (financial and sales managers, petroleum engineers, executives, etc).

Money is a necessary evil. It is evil because everything we do revolves around it. Would you get up  every morning and work for 9 hours at the job you are at right now for free? Most people would say no. But we need money to survive AND can use our money to sustain the land, the earth, the future of our children. We can stop buying "stuff" and start using our money in ways that bring forth goodness. A friend of mine always says, "We can put people before products." Interestingly enough, this is a pretty unusual way of living for many. What is happening more and more in this society is that people who choose to live off the land, off the grid, without money are shut down by those in power. But it can be done and for us, now is the time to do it.

There are important steps that need to be taken to simplify life. It involves moving away from the quote, unquote American dream and starting a new American dream that involves connecting to the beauty of our home, our planet.

For our family we have a plan.

1. Get out of debt. This is going to be hard. It's going to feel like we are climbing up a mountain, but I know that the Universe provides and simplifying our lives will feel like a giant burden is lifted. We will sell most of the things we do not need. We will not replace our TV right away when it dies. We will not have a new car payment for a long, long time (I hope never). We will maintain our cars, pay off our loans and give thanks for what we have without yearning for the newest innovation. We will buy used clothing, we will vote with our wallet and support companies we feel good about. We will grow our own food, simplify birthdays and holiday buying, teach our children the importance of saving. We will make our own food more than eating out, we will do things that do not cost money like hike in the woods and play at local playgrounds. Could we give up our cell phones? Our Internet? Certainly these questions bring up good points. What is the biggest priorities for our family? For me it is connection and memories, not things. I have a feeling this will all unfold as we embark on this journey.

2. Create sustainability in the place we inhabit now. This has been a 10 year process, but as we educate ourselves at a faster pace, my husband and I see more and more clearly how we can cultivate the small space we live in to bring forth the biggest profit for our own lives. I'll admit I still have so much more to learn, but a big portion of this is mathematical. How can we lower energy costs, lower our ecological footprint, save water consumption, grow our own food, harvest rain water, learn about solar energy in order to save money? It's hard to really live as freely as we wish we could, have our own permaculture farm for instance, when you live in the city in a subdivision. But alas, nature will flow wherever you allow it to, so small steps to bring back wild nature into my tidy lawn (wildflower gardens that bring beneficial bugs, bees and bacteria to the landscape of the home) and growing crops that work well in our region are the best places to start. We are also getting pretty darn good at recycling and minimizing waste but we still have a long way to go. I think we always will until we are living package free (can you imagine?!)

3. Continue to educate ourselves. I am done living apathetically. There is way too much at stake right now and so many people refuse to believe it. Our planet needs us to WAKE UP. We need to be educated in everything we do, we need to be living mindfully. What we put in our bodies matters. The thoughts we think matter. The companies we support matter. The news we watch matters. What we believe matters. The biggest difference we can each make right now and what the imminent change of the world hinges on is our own ability to awaken. Yikes. It's so hard and uncomfortable, but we are given the means and the know how if we never stop pursuing the how-to's.

4. Connection. Out of every other step, this is the hardest for me. I love my little bubble. I like not being challenged. But let's be real. We need to connect to others, to learn from others, to really form a community of people that are fighting for the same thing. We need to love each other unconditionally and help each other. I've had it with the judgment and I am ready to move towards unity.

There are many more steps but my brain needs to rest for a bit tonight.

What are your ideas? How did you make it to debt freedom? What steps did you take to minimize your footprint? How do you live in a way that is sustainable? What are you awakening to? Sound off! I want to hear what you have to say!

March 31, 2016

The journey to the inside and thoughts about chocolate.

So much of life is just trying to maneuver your way through these interesting situations. Meeting new faces/ interacting with faces whose outlines you could trace in your mind. Showing up at the same location every day/ stumbling into unchartered territory. I find myself, like many people, comfortable in the places I inhabit the most with the people I see every day and apprehensive when that changes. However it's in the moments when I leave my safety zone that I see the true capacity of all that lives inside of me.
Confidence. Capability. Personal truth.
I wonder sometimes if life just takes you on this existential journey right back to your heart and mind. What if we searched and searched our whole lives for some great answer and it lived within the entire time. I dunno, life is pretty ironic and simple like that. It's possible.
Like what if when life gets really tough and you are stressed out and you tell yourself you just need some chocolate but really you don't *believe* chocolate is going to solve the dilemma and yet you take the chocolate and you say to the chocolate, "thank you for helping me through this little bump in my journey. I am going to eat you now and believe you are my ally. I am going to love every single delicious magnesium, antioxidant-filled  bite of you." What if you did all that and it worked? You let yourself be transformed by the happy simplicity of eating a bite of chocolate. And when the next situation arose and your mind said "I'm not brave enough to handle this today" but your heart said, "it's tea time", or "it's time to walk in the woods", or "it's time to exercise", or "it's time to read that book you've had sitting on your night stand" listened and you let those moments be enough, too.

What if for every fear that popped in our minds and told us we could never do it, we believed we had the equal potentiality to do it but admitted we were just scared? What if we walked right into the thick of it with our hearts pounding and imperfectly found our way through it? 
Courage = Wisdom. 
By the same token, it's okay to be scared and it's okay to not raise our bullhorns every day shouting at the world to listen. There are plenty of people who will keep shouting for you and plenty of people that will be ready to listen. We can spend some time gearing up for the battles by living in the quiet moments, getting to know who we are and how we will effectively walk this earth in a way that feels good and true to ourselves and brings us joy.
Comfort = Wisdom.
I like duality. I find it really intriguing how so many differing things can be happening and it can all be okay if you are open enough to find the okayness.
I always seem to find the okayness of life after a few deep breaths somewhere amid the trees.

Maybe tomorrow I will pick up the bullhorn. Or maybe I will drink some tea and read a book. Or maybe I will do both.
We shall call this life...unpredictable.

October 15, 2015


"Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost

I have been thinking so much lately about the symbolism of walking down a path, how we end up there and how it relates to life. Life is filled with so much symbolism and that is why I love photography and writing; you can turn the imagery contained in the mind into art.
My meditation on paths comes back to a feeling I have that we all end up where we are because we choose, consciously or unconsciously, to walk down a certain one and that leads us into the present moment. During the journey we encounter obstacles and circumstances that we did not plan or foresee and they challenge us and thereby humble us. These situations accompany us sometimes as a trusted friend or unwelcome foe and many times they define us. 
I think I am at a place in my life where I can pause and reflect on the paths that I feel I was called to by a voice greater than my own.


These pathways are still filled with road blocks and detours, choices, lessons and a lot of hard walking all the same, but there is something different about them.

They are filled with harmony, balance, connection and most importantly, they are filled with hope and joy. Wandering along I find myself pausing often, taking in all the little details that are important. I am a backpacker hiking a trail and I collect everything I need and I carry it with me.

I am not alone because I have the guidance I need inside of me. I have the wisdom I have gained through all this walking to consult with. I have fellow hikers, life wayfarers, to come and walk awhile with me. I have the songbirds singing melodies, the wind whispering secrets, the trees sheltering me when it's time to rest and dream a little. I have the Spirit leading me.  I have my breath to connect with, legs to move me, a passion for change directing me to travel deep into the broken places.  Most importantly I have LOVE and that can never fail me.

I feel grateful and alive. I haven't always felt this way, back when I walked some roads that tripped me up, but I walked them anyway and I can't go back. I move forward with thankfulness for every place I have passed knowing they made me who I am today.
This is it for me, walking these paths. This is all I have. I don't know what tomorrow holds. Life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. I know I have answered a call to do what I can to help this world heal while I am still here in the world healing. I am the hands and feet of a great movement of love and I do not take this responsibility lightly.  For the good works that come from my heart, the credit does not belong to me. It belongs to the voice that called me here and asked me to keep walking, keep noticing, keep showing up to love and help using the gifts I've been given.
Much love from a fellow sojourner.

October 10, 2015

The beauty of brokenness


What do you see when you look at this barn?
Worn, toppling over, hazardous, useless; perhaps just a collapsing barn like my kids pointed out? 
Maybe you see a perfectly broken object that tells a story.
Do you see art?
I would love to have seen this barn in its glory days, standing tall and strong, a sturdy shelter for animals or hard working machinery. I wonder if this barn would go unnoticed if each piece of wood was solidly in place as before? Would people see all the potential?
I can imagine all of the reclaimed furniture that could be created with this weathered wood: farm tables where family could gather over home cooked meals; mantles that lovingly hold pictures of toothless kids and grandparents who left a legacy of love. I can envision long beams placed high into the ceilings of houses, stabilizing the very foundations we build inside the places we inhabit.
When I see objects like this barn, it reminds me that life is all about perspective and our histories often shape the way we look at things. It also points out that it's never too late to take a step closer to the brokenness and find the beauty residing there no matter how hard it is to get close.
Stepping near, into the shadow of this barn and all that it has become as a result of the physical storms of life, I can see where life springs forth from the fragmented, damaged spaces and it is so very beautiful.

Today this barn had a story to tell me about my own humanity.  
"Come closer to me. Don't just see me as broken down and weary from the downpours and the windstorms that have left me withered. Don't be scared of the fa├žade of my defectiveness because I can no longer meet the expectations you have always placed upon me.  I am not useless and I am not done. Step closer and notice the way the flowers cling to the framework of my being, how the sunshine streams in and washes the rust, the chipping paint, the shattered stone in radiant light. I may be insignificant by the world's standards but I am filled with  infinite potentiality.  When you are able to see the value in me, then so you will see it in yourself."


August 24, 2015


I have discovered something in my almost nine years of parenting that is quite an unexpected thing: I am most often learning the same lesson my kids are learning at the exact same time. Solidarity with my kids makes swallowing these cautionary tales easier because I can say "I have been there, in fact, I am there."  This time it's about how to be the bigger person when faced with people that hurt us. There are many reasons why people choose to inflict pain on others. Maybe they have impulse control issues and say or do the first thing that comes to mind. Many adults never outgrow this. Perhaps they harbor resentments toward us that they are unable to verbalize and it later comes out in a hostile way.  Sometimes people are just insecure and act in a way that brings them power over you and ultimately makes themselves feel better. Often it comes down to a boundaries issue. I am sure there are many scenarios in between but I have decided not to spend time worrying about why people act the way they do because many times they themselves don't even have that insight into their own behavior.

I feel part of my calling as a human being is to be awakened to my feelings and behaviors and teach my children to do the same. Spending time in the "being" part of my nature manifests itself by observing why I do the things I do and how I feel about what I feel. I can carry my truths and I can work to actively change to become a kinder, more functional member of society. How can we act out of kindness if we walk around unaware of why we do the things we do? It's a difficult journey to wake up and witness our actions and how they play out in our every day lives. Sometimes I notice myself becoming short with my kids when inwardly I feel anxious or stressed out about a scenario that does not relate to them.  This is so common in all of us and yet we can choose to live in a way that honors our true selves and our callings if we make a choice to do so.

So what happens when someone close to you makes a hurtful comment about your appearance that seems so harsh and unnecessary at that time? What if it comes completely out of the blue by someone you care about that it's such a shock and so upsetting that you are stunned into silence?

What if as a child an older, much bigger kid uses force to get his way and ultimately hurts you physically? Perhaps it's on your own space and you cannot fathom how, while you see yourself  being kind and sharing your property, someone could be so hurtful to you out of the blue?

These are the situations my 6 year-old and I encountered recently and although at first it was upsetting in a very real way involving some tears and ultimately some anger at being treated so badly, it opened the door to some deep and meaningful discussion and solutions that neither of us will soon forget.

My 6 year-old chewed a little bit on the idea of giving this bigger boy a "payback" because he has seen other kids do that. He wondered what it would be like if he hit him back or blocked him with a board or tripped him. As parents who never condone violence unless needed for self defense, we sympathized and directed his feelings to brainstorming some healthy scenarios that would not escalate the situation more. His instinct to get an adult and make it known that he was hurt was ultimately what we agreed was the safest and wisest scenario and we praised him for being brave enough to seek help. However, a simple question remained in my son's head and a day later he questioned why that boy did not get any consequences for his behavior? Why was he still aloud to play? Not being disciplined for such disruptive and mean behavior was unconscionable to a child who understands that using physical harm in our house holds serious repercussions. Everyone parents differently is what we told him and all that matters now is how we respond to that behavior.

So why do adults behave the same way? Why do some people find it acceptable to criticize the flaws of others or inflict harm? How are we to respond to that? Sometimes just using silence can be beneficial and sometimes we need to communicate how we feel to make it known it's not okay. I thought of what I could say to pay this person back just like my 6 year-old verbalized to us and it feels good to imagine having the power back that they stole from us in that moment. Ultimately, this isn't a response that sits well with me and I hope will not sit well with my kiddos. It's okay to stand up for ourselves and say "Enough!"  It's not okay to pay back in the same way, throwing harsh, overly critical and hurtful comments or kicks in the shins in retaliation. Believe me, I've done it and have to bite my tongue, take a deep breath, walk away, seek help in order to stay in control over my emotions. The important part of this lesson is learning what boundaries need to be established in relation to those people and what that will look like in the future. You can say, "it's inappropriate for you to weigh in about my appearance and if you bring it up again, the conversation is over." And if someone becomes physical with you and you feel unsafe around them, it's absolutely okay to stay far away from them and seek help immediately!!

 So often in our society setting boundaries equates to lack of graciousness. Coming from a codependent child of alcoholics, setting boundaries is not only pertinent and necessary for our own well-being, it is showing ourselves the ultimate form of compassion.

It's not easy to be a "turn-the-other-cheek" person in a society that lives by an "eye-for-an-eye" mentality and yet it is worth the pursuit.  One of my favorite quotes by Mark Nepo says, “In a world that lives like a fist, mercy is not more than waking with your hands open.” My other favorite: "Do no harm, but take no shit."

May kindness be on your side today.

June 30, 2015


We are here to love. That's all I know. Everything else gets so loud and murky sometimes. I find myself getting caught up in all the opinions for a little while, trying to do the thing that I do, make sense of it, see the human behind the words however harsh they may be, try to understand, try to relate, try to care and see that in the differences maybe there is a similarity. I do that for awhile until most of the time I get chewed up and spit out and land back on my butt even more confused than I was before I logged on and started reading anyway. All I know is that my heart hurts for everyone that is hurting right now and my heart rejoices for those that see the beauty in life and who gain freedom and equality. Shouldn't we all wake up feeling free?  I feel all of those things. Many people are hurt in the world and want love. I want love, I hurt sometimes. I am human. Maybe you are, too? Maybe you are gay or a Christian or you are black or white or Latino or have been abused by another human or maybe you are many of those things that really don't even define you. Maybe you are scared of putting yourself out there and fumble around like me.

You know what though? We are all pretty brave.

And we aren't very different from each other. Republican and Democrat, we are all pretty similar. We want protection for our families, we want to be treated fairly. We want to be cared about and care about others. We want others to understand us. To see us.

We want to be loved. In my mind this is what defines me: the way we are so very human yet with a great capacity to love, nurture, care and accept love into our hearts and let it transform us if we choose to. I don't know about you, but I have been so very lucky to have some hard love in my life. I say it's hard because love is a verb and it's an action. It feels like a tough weight to lift sometimes, to let love in enough to break that hard spot in our hearts that wants to be right. To put others before ourselves in a way that feels like it's the right thing to do, albeit not always the easiest. Love looks a lot like kindness, like compassion, like a question instead of a statement.

Learning to love as a human also looks a little like a debate sometimes and maybe even a little like a wrestling match. It's okay. I think love is worth wrestling with and love is worth learning about.

When I look at rainbows, I see love.

When I look at church steeples, I see love.

When I look at sunsets I see love.

When I see black and white and brown skin, when I hear different languages, when I allow myself to really see the differences and how they make us beautiful and unique, I see love. When I see children I see love and redemption. A symbol of a chance to get it right.


I don't always know the answers and often appear idealistic and juvenile but truly, in my mind, it's pretty simple. It's just the journey to get there that challenges us, scares us, tests us.

These lyrics by The Avett Brothers keep running through my mind.  I have read so many words and heard so many statements, I have locked myself in my mind and let it all swirl around in there and it channeled itself back out with the simplicity of this:

Temporary is my time
Ain't nothin' on this world that's mine
Except the will I found to carry on.

Free is not your right to choose
It's answering what's asked of you

To give the love you find until it's gone.

Love. Amen.

December 24, 2014

New eyes to see

"Please help me have new eyes to see." "Please help me see life in a different way." "Let me see the beauty in the chaos, the miracles deep within the brokenness, the love and light in the darkness."
These are the prayers I have been saying for a long time now. Probably since I started to learn for myself what prayer meant some time when my oldest son was 2. Prayer is a lot of times reminding myself what I already have learned a long the way but have temporarily forgotten. Mostly prayer is tuning my thinking to the "hope station" which plays some really good, uplifting jams.
I used to have so much mom guilt. I would read those articles about the different things us moms needed to realize and quick! because our kids were growing up and if we didn't act now, it would be too late. Put your phone down, stop yelling, don't worry if your house is a mess, make sure you capture all the happy memories on film or your blog and don't you dare throw away the precious preschool art work or the teeth they lose. It's like sometimes we are force fed this notion that being who we are right now is not good enough, that our fumbling's are royally screwing our kids up to no return and that we should be striving for a better picture of motherhood, one where the fighting kids are precious memories that we will someday miss. And I get it!  Conviction about our shortcomings can help motivate us to love our kids harder. But right around the time that I found myself sobbing on the bathroom floor after watching a lady whose kids went off to college talk about all of these sad things, all these regrets, and then I was apologizing to the universe for not being a good enough mother, I told myself that enough was enough. I stopped reading most of those articles and just vowed to figure it out as I go along with love and a big dose of grace.
Yelling isn't always effective but sometimes it absolutely is. I am a damn good apologizer when I make mistakes, and you know what? My kids are so good at learning to say sorry. Humbling myself and messing up is teaching my kids how to gracefully mess up as well. I am sure someday my kids will have some issues with how I parented them, and that is okay, because we are all just figuring out this life thing together while making mistakes and therefore making it right.
So, I pray not that I could miraculously make myself a better person or more patient mother, but that I would be given new eyes to see the special things in the mundane. When I ask for that, it's amazing how quickly my perspective changes. Try it sometime.
It is winter break and my husband and I have been juggling our work schedules with the boys being home from school. We have been taking them into work with us because thank Goddess we have such awesome and understanding jobs and colleagues. This morning I admit that I wasn't happy that I had to bring them because it adds another level of stress to be in mom mode and work mode all at the same time. However, it all worked out because I spent the first part of the morning preparing for our holiday staff gathering, decorating with my coworker and preparing all the food. I have a hard time delegating and the boys desperately wanted to help and I was worried about getting it all right. My friend wasn't worried about getting it all right and so she gave the boys tasks to keep them busy. Like big things such as using the can opener to open cans. My first thought was "Eek, they have never done that and it can be dangerous and they don't know how to open cans." They learned. They kept busy setting the table, going upstairs for more Poinsettias to decorate with, putting food on the tables, getting the water bottles from the other room, and while there was some bickering, they mostly worked together as a team. Soon I was jumping in with more work for them and they completed the tasks with such efficiency that I knew I had received an answer to the prayer, "Let me see my boys in a different way." People came up to me over and over telling me that my boys are such awesome helpers, so mature, such great kids, so well behaved, so kind, so sweet."
"You're right. I know it and have eyes to see it now." The "burden" of bringing the boys to work was a wonderful blessing.
Caden lost his tooth while we were sitting down for the staff lunch. It had been bothering him for two days and he excused himself, ran off to the bathroom and came back with tooth in hand. He was so proud that he had taken care of business so he could eat his crunchy taco. My heart swelled as I witnessed my boy man through "proud mama eyes", not "agitated and stressed out over stupid drama eyes." He showed his tooth off to my whole work family and they cheered and clapped and he beamed so big. Thank you for that answered prayer.
As I was clearing our plates, I lost track of his tooth. We scavenged the floor and trash and it was no where to be found. I felt like I had ruined his special moment but holding my breath I apologized to Caden and told him I knew how happy he was to lose his tooth and I promised that if he wrote a letter to the tooth fairy that she would still give him the money. His response, "Ya for sure, it happens all the time. Now I can really say I LOST my tooth." And he smiled and hugged me. Seriously? What a guy. I wish the tooth fairy could give him hundreds of dollars for his soul, for the way he loves and for this giant blessing he is to teach me that having new eyes to see is as simple as leading with your heart.

After work my boss friend said that my boys were amazing kids. I joked that I must be doing something right and she said "You are DEFINITELY doing many things right!"
So here's to looking closely at the blessings right in front of me. And also, here's to not seeing them all the time either. When I can't see then I can say the prayer and ask for help with my vision and witness the shift. And so it goes. I will continue to do it over and over because I want to learn and grow and evolve in my humanity and let my heart expand with as much love as it can possibly hold. I want to be a better mother but the only way I know how to do that is to learn. And probably my kids will always be my greatest teachers.