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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 façade 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 God 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.


December 06, 2014

For all the mamas...

For the mom who holds down the fort at home while your spouse is away, this one's for you. We see you wiping noses, coordinating meals, packing lunches, organizing mail, scheduling doctor visits, cleaning up the millionth spill, the Playdoh and the dog food that your toddler insists is a good snack. We see the way you stop what you are doing to rock crying babes, take them to the potty, throw another load of laundry in the dryer again, run to the store all covered in snot and spit-up, field phone calls, and smile when your hubby calls after his nice lunch out with work friends while you pick up Cheerios off the floor by hand because digging out the vacuum seems like too much work. We see that you haven't showered today and we don't judge you. We understand when running out of coffee is equal to running out of life support. We know how it feels lonely sometimes even though the four-year old won't stop chatting to you about Pokemon and Skylanders. We see you stay-at-home mama and how you traded your career, your education, your hopes and dreams for board books, Sesame street and ABC's 10 times a day.  We see the love in your eyes when you look at your child and know it's all worth it, all the exhaustion, demands and giving of yourself as you use this short amount of time to shepherd and teach your little ones, to stay home and hold their hands for a little while.

For the mom who holds down the fort at her desk at work, this one is for you. We see you coordinating your schedule around pumping in the restroom, fielding demanding bosses, clients and patients, running on coffee and fumes after a late evening meeting, a teething child and no sleep. We see the way you wake up every morning and get the little ones breakfast, pack their lunches, get them and yourself ready for school and manage to look not only presentable but damn good. We see how you eat lunch at your desk, a peanut butter sandwich and stare at the pictures of your kids. We know how much you say sorry because you were late, missed the conference call because the babysitter called or had to be out of work yet again because you had to pick up the one with pink eye from school and pray that the others won't catch it because tomorrow is the big meeting. We know the guilt you feel because you feel relieved when it's time to head into the office and the 30 minute car ride gives you a break from a crying baby. We see you working mama, juggling all the balls, and hoping one doesn't drop, jetting from the office to the baseball games and wishing you could be there every time they cry. We see how little time you have for yourself because after work it's all kids, all family, all the time. We see that you traded in napping with your little ones for managing an office, going out into the world everyday so you can better your financial situation for your children, to teach them how to get up and keep going even when life tries to knock you down.

For all mamas everywhere, for each unique situation, may you feel seen and heard. May you escape the judgment of "should-haves" and "would-haves" and rest easy in the love you carry for your children, no matter what path you have chosen. May we all unite in the great responsibilities we have as mothers to teach compassion, love and understanding with non-judging hearts. You are doing a great job, the BEST job, and your children need YOU right where you are.

Blessings and love.

July 15, 2014

The top 10 lessons I am learning right now (and pretty much always)

Starting with age-old clichés, let's make this post all about life, and go!
Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. Forrest sure carried that lesson with him!
Life is about the journey and not the destination. Sometimes the destination is nice though, too, am I right?!
Life is what you make of it. No denying that one, eh?
Life is short so live it! or life is short, here today and gone tomorrow. I can rally around the sentiments of the first one. Life is meant to be lived, but that sure looks different for everyone, and the second one? I personally try not to get too stuck on the thought that today could be my last day on earth, otherwise one could drive themselves crazy with the what-ifs.  However, in the back of my mind is a simple thought that each day is a blessing and I have the great opportunity to make the most of it.
Carpe diem, seize the day. Any command in Latin should be taken seriously. So do it!
Life is a crapshoot. I am curious how many gamblers use this cliché?
Life goes on. That should always be followed up with Ob-la-di, ob-la-da!! if you really want to emphasize that one.

Life is a b*@#% and then you die. Well, that is one way of looking at it.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, or it's whiny brother, life is like a bowl of cherries and this is the pits. I think we should always compare life to fruit. It is just so similar.

Just Do It. I tell myself this every time I lace up my Nike running shoes. Just kidding I don't.

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Be really tough to get ahead in life, kids.

Love many, trust few, but always paddle your own canoe. Unless, of course, you're up a creek without a paddle.

Moving on to the top 10 lessons I have been learning (sometimes reluctantly) in my own life. Nothing new here folks, just rehashing many of the things we all learn at one time or another.

1. Don't take life so seriously. Don't take yourself so seriously or your spouse or your children. We are all imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world. Laugh at yourself once and awhile. Do it. Laugh when someone says you have a boogie in your nose. It's endearing. Be thankful they told you.

2. Stop being a perfectionist. Perfection is a made-up word, a treacherous journey to la-la land and eventually crazy town. Who cares if your house isn't always clean, your kids aren't always well behaved, your clothes aren't always ironed, you miss a deadline once and awhile, and your marriage doesn't always look like a fairytale book. None of it is supposed to because, wait for it, life is messy.

3. Don't wait around for others to be kind to you. Be kind first. Joe over there who didn't bother to say hi to you isn't feeling so hot today. Smile at him and give him some love. The man who looks like he is about to cut you off and pass you on the highway is trying to get to a very important interview. Let him over, don't be so rude. Just be kind first and watch what happens in your life. You will attract more kindness everywhere you go when charity of heart begins with you.

4. Every child needs to grow up, eventually. Ever hear of the term, adult wounded child? That's a psychological term that means you struggle with responsibility and adulthood because of a bunch of psychological things that happened in your past. I am one of those. It takes more effort to have resilience when you never quite learned how to face your struggles and overcome them, but the payoff is worth it. Growing up is hard to do.
5. When you grow up, make sure never to lose the childlike wonder completely. You'll be left with a cynical viewpoint about life. It's hard when you are an adult and experience great personal pain, see hurting people all around, and watch many people seemingly have no trouble stepping on others in the pursuit of money and power. The solution is not to say that life is therefore pointless or filled with pain. Deep inside each of us is a space filled with love that springs forth creativity. Something new is made out of brokenness every day, and we can all be redeemed. Find joy in the simple things in life.
6. Approval is not out there. A long time ago I used to listen to Howard Stern. He had a segment where he had women come on the show and he would determine (along with other radio hosts) whether that woman was beautiful or not. Seriously? I used to wonder if they would think I was pretty enough. I can't believe I ever wondered that. It doesn't matter who finds you beautiful or worthwhile. You are beautiful and worthwhile so believe it about yourself. Speak it over yourself every single day. Stop looking to others to approve of you.
7. The truth will set you free. Be honest. There is no need to lie in order save face, to make someone feel better or convince someone else of what you already know inside is a lie. As Dr. Seuss said, be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and  those who matter don't mind.
8. It is better to give than to receive. Just try it. Give without expectations. Be a friend to all. Find happiness in your own heart and let it spill over towards others who are having a hard time finding happiness on their own.
9. Just keep swimming. (Finding Nemo is my favorite Disney movie; Dory got it right with that one!) Get up every morning and know that today is a new day. There are new mercies every morning. Let the challenges of yesterday fall away and raise up to the challenges of today. Find strength where strength is found. There is a life force, a source of strength much greater than our own and it is available at all times. Renew yourself with it and hang on until the storm passes.
10. When all else fails, find some great Facebook quotes or clichés and get happy! ;)

April 02, 2014

Music in the rain

An essay I wrote on November 30, 2011. The message seems fitting now.

There used to be a time in my life when my outlook, my mood, my thoughts, my happiness centered around the weather, circumstances, finances, relationships and good health among others. These are things that are always changing, shifting. And just like the rise and fall of the ocean waves, so went my mood, up and down every day. I had hopes of waking up and looking on the bright side of things, but inevitably something would happen, as life does, to bring me down. It was a terrible way to live, running and hiding when things went wrong, nothing ever going the way I wanted them to for long. I shudder when I think about the countless hours that I laid in bed with the covers over my head, willing my problems away, angry and living in fear that nothing would ever be how I wanted it to be. I tried to turn to medication in order to alleviate the pain of the emotional roller coaster I was on: anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-pain meds. I blamed my pain on hormones, on everybody else, on the heavy workload, on the seasons, on my ill health. I thought if i just had more money, better health, more sunshine, more time to myself, more whatever, then I would be okay. That life would be okay.
As much as I disliked that time in my life and even the person I was back then, the true me, my awakened soul, knows that I must be gentle to her and love that broken girl who was struggling to find her path to joy. Grace allows me to see the truth about that chapter in my journey: how necessary it was to go through in order to fall forward to where I am now.

It rained quite a lot over the last week; quite a few dreary days that make you want to stay in bed. I am also sick with a sinus infection and have been sick off and on for the last month. In spite of that, I was keenly aware of a shift in my perspective about those realities. For one, I noticed myself staring out the window a lot, focused on the rain and the way it slid over the glass, large raindrops and small ones, beating gently in a rhythmic and soothing way. I focused on my breathing when things became overwhelming or when I felt myself slip into a fearful place. And when I couldn't even breath because my sinuses were so clogged, I sat over a steaming bowl of water and inhaled the fragrant sent of tea tree oil, staring at my eyes in the reflection of the water and seeing myself in a whole new way. My eyes didn't look tired even though my body felt that way. They appeared alive, shimmering and dancing to the music inside my heart.

Each day I make an effort to find the things I am thankful for, and to ask God to reveal the lesson I was meant to learn that day. What did each situation, conversation, moment come to reveal to me? What beautiful imprint of life can be permanently etched in my mind like a painting? This week it was about the rain and music. I felt in my soul the realization that there is music in music and there is music in the rain. There is music in the creaking of the stairs and in the dishwasher running. There is music in the way the coins, which slipped out of the pants pockets in the dryer, beat against the sides as it turns and turns. There is music in the laughter of my children. There is music in the wind. There is music in breath. And there is eternal music, the kind that will live on after death and through all of life's rising and falling waves, in that which we call love.