the most wonderful present

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Gifts are great. I am not going to lie, I love receiving them, opening them and giving them. Last week sitting next to my mom and mom – in – law while watching Barbara Streisand perform, I felt like one of the luckiest people in the world. Because last year at this time, my mom had just been diagnosed with cancer again. Here we were, a year later, her hair growing back, a smile on our faces, hanging with Babs.

A big sigh of gratitude.

I think I want to stop trying so hard to heal that which I feel needs healing. Focus on the good, what I dream and know is possible. I want to take a break and pause, accept, and appreciate what is. Much of what is is hard to accept. But there is so much beauty, so much to still smile about.

Below is the link to the post I wrote for the moms blog on being present. Check it out if you wish.

But more importantly, please know your being – however imperfect or messy it feels right now – is exactly what your family and the world needs. Your soul, your true self is the most wonderful present you could ever give. Don’t worry about changing. In the words of Elizabeth Lesser, “uncover your soul”. Because your soul it is perfect, absolutely perfect!

Wishing you and yours many blessings and loads of love this holiday season and in 2017!

http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/12/09/opening-up-our-present-final/

together

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My last post was about surrender. And this one is too. I haven’t gotten very far. Or maybe I have. Maybe this is where I need to stay. It is no surprise that the collective psyche is unhinged. There is a lot of uncertainty.

But there always is. Things often don’t go the way we think they are going to or should.

I am choosing to believe that I am not meant to know or understand why things happen the way they do. That not knowing is okay and that there is a force, a benevolent one, greater than me out there in the world. 

And then I wonder, can I reject things the way they are because it is not what I want and still move toward progress? Or do we need to accept things fully in order to move through, move on, and forgive?  Can I feel anger and love at the same time? Hope and anxiety? Acceptance and disbelief?

I am choosing to believe that one of the most courageous things we can do is be brave in the face of anxiety and uncertainty. And just show up as our whole big loving and imperfect messy selves.

No more putting on a “game face.” Speaking of game face, yesterday, in fact, my face was adorned in blue marker. Because I allowed my children to draw all over it. That’s right. And then I forgot, totally forgot that I had a bridal shower to attend. So I showed up anyway, late and embarrassed with the remnants of a blue F on my forehead and the word Dad smeared on my cheek. But at least I was there.  God, help me.

I have realized the last few days that we are all trying to do what we think is best for ourselves, our families, our communities and our country.

And our bests differ.

And that is okay.

I am angry that 43% of the people who could vote in this election didn’t. But I am thankful that we live in a country where we can speak up and share our voices and not be jailed or beheaded for doing so.

I feel like I am swimming in one giant paradox pool.

I don’t want to be angry. But I am about certain things. Maybe I can use it as fuel and motivation. Because it just seems to me that it is good to feel the anger and then be constructive with it and not stew in it for long. Let it out for Pete’s sake. I think that is what has been happening. Like everyone is just throwing up anger all over social media. Sometimes it may feel like it makes things worse. More separate. Less harmonious.

But then again honesty is important.

I don’t want to be divisive.

I want to be respectful. And kind.

So I am choosing to believe that fear and anxiety can coexist with love and hope. We gotta keep marching toward the greatest good.

I don’t want to take things for granted. I also don’t want to make light of the fact that there is suffering. Unfortunately, there always is.

We still need to laugh, however, and tell ridiculous jokes and be silly in the midst of it.

Because I believe lightness holds us. Levity lifts us. It is okay to take a break from being serious. I believe we can do both…be caring and concerned and laugh at the movie “Bad Moms” all at the same time.

Where do we go from here? I think of Martin Luther King. Of Nelson Mandela. Gandhi. Eli Wiesel. Viktor Frankl. Anne Frank. Malala. Madonna Badger. Those on the Standing Rock Reservation fighting for what they believe in.

And all of the people that aren’t famous but put their hearts where their mouths are. That do something to bring more love, more understanding and less hate into the world. Despite how very hard this sometimes is.

This is you. You do this. It may be volunteering at your child’s school to help a student learn how to read. Maybe it is taking the time to let someone cross the street with kindness in your expression. Maybe it is as simple as forgiving someone when they spaced a date important to you. Oy vey!

But so much that hurts is healed when we reach out and connect with one another. When we dig deep. When we share what we are scared to share, what makes us feel less perfect, and maybe even unlovable.

All I know is my connections with friends and family are keeping me grounded these days. I cannot do it alone.

So is nature because no matter what is going on in our human world, nature is happening all around us. We are part of this. And the surreal, cobalt blue colored skies have been so incredibly beautiful.

And the moon tomorrow is a Supermoon! It is also called the Beaver moon. And well I am excited about this.

Movement…like dance and exercise and singing and sharing our voices  – this is life saving.

Last weekend, my family and I painted a fence for a local non profit and it felt so healing to keep my hands and mind busy while doing something nice for someone else. This is essential at the moment. To keep moving in the direction of union and generosity.

So does getting back to the basics and taking really good care of ourselves. And this includes being discerning as to what we want to receive and how we want to contribute.

To feed fear or promote peace.

I am choosing to believe there is so much more good in this world. And so much to be thankful for. And I haven’t felt optimistic every moment of every day this week. On the contrary.

But I want to stay hopeful. No need to bypass anything we are feeling. We notice, pay attention, and breathe.

Together.

the truth of who you are

I am holding the preciousness of my daughter’s 7th birthday yesterday close to my heart. It speaks to everything I am feeling right now. The ups and downs, attachment, joy, gratitude, disappointment, elation, bittersweetness, and challenge of letting something we love go.

She had a good day. And at the end of it, she laid flat on her stomach crying in her bed  because it was over.

Earlier in the day while she was at school, I walked with my youngest as the Autumn sun streamed through the leaves. I saw a man, a neighbor driving away in his truck with a huge flag for the person I am not voting for, waving proudly in the air. I felt my chest tighten. He raised his cup and looked at me through his glass window. I waved back feeling proud of myself for actually doing so.

I then felt slightly ridiculous that for a split second I thought about not waving. I don’t want to be someone who doesn’t wave or smile because of a difference in opinion.

But sometimes I forget who I am and who I want to be.

I really want to see underneath the surfaces and beyond the layers of story and opinions that keep us separate.

Although I fail at this pursuit regularly, I prefer to operate from soul to soul. The best in me and the best in you. Or like we say in yoga, Namaste, the light in me honors the light in you.

But I’m human. And sometimes I mess up, make mistakes and act out of fear or anger instead of Love.

Forgiveness is important too. And acceptance. I’m trying.

Today, I am blissfully thankful for this touch of Fall weather sweeping through. The heat is finally calming down, thank goodness. I am not sure if it will stay but it is a welcome change for now.

And things are always changing. Always in flux. Why is this so hard to accept? Because we tighten, we attach, we hold on to our memories, our ideas for how things should be. It makes us feel safer, maybe more in control. The future is uncertain and that is for certain! Pema Chodron reminds us to recognize impermanence even celebrate it as it is a “principal of harmony” that exists in our world. When we see it, she teaches us to name it as such. The leaves and acorns falling, the relationship changing, the birthday ending. Impermanence.

I didn’t really feel like writing today because I have too much to do while the baby sleeps, namely take a shower and attend to a massive amount of laundry. I didn’t know what to write. But I am writing what is in my heart. What is making my chest feel heavy and my heart feel like a sinking ship. By giving name to what it is; the worry, the tinge of sadness, the fear of the unknown, the shimmer of gratitude and love, I feel like myself. Not the one who doesn’t wave but the one who does no matter what.

Because I am in awe of the miracle and mystery of all of it. And all I can really do today, in addition to the laundry and grocery shopping, is surrender to it all.

“Being who I am. Just being who I am. That’s the big trick. I spent so many years trying to be someone else; trying to be what I thought I was supposed to be, or what someone wanted me to be. And then trying to get what I wanted for me from the scraps, or by sneaking around and doing things behind other people’s backs. Exhausting. Let me tell you, it’s an exhausting way to live. But the cancer stripped me down. Nothing left to lose, as they say. So this year I said to myself, fuck it, no apologies, I’ll just be who I am. I’ll see how that works.”

The more I stopped trying to be a perfect little human for everybody else, the more I stopped expecting other people to be perfect. The more I trusted myself, the more I trusted other people. It’s the darnedest thing…

I wanna tell my kids this. I wanna tell them not to care so much about what other people think. Not to be afraid of saying what they want, what they need. I wanna say, don’t dim your light; don’t live small. You’re not damaged goods; you don’t need to be fixed. Just be who you are -’cause that’s what the people who really matter want anyway. The truth of who you are. ” – Maggie Lake from Marrow; A Love Story by Elizabeth Lesser. 

 

pain

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“If you fight the pain, if you resist the contractions, you cause even more pain. I told them that labor is like life and life is like labor; sometimes the most painful experiences deliver the best things-new life, unexpected insight, the chance to stretch and grow. This was the greatest lesson I learned in my years of delivering babies: don’t strain against the pain; learn its purpose; work with it and the energy of the universe will assist you.” – Elizabeth Lesser from Marrow, A Love Story

I wrote this post for the Tampa Bay Mom’s Blog because it is hard to be a human being. And after devouring Glennon Doyle Melton’s book, Love Warrior, I’ve been consumed with how we deal with pain (mostly the emotional and mental variety) both at home and as a society.

I am trying (and trust me, trying is the operative word here) to give my children space to feel whatever it is they are feeling and without attaching my judgment or hope to their words. My internal dialogue may look like…why is he crying about this, it is not such a big deal, oh no they all inherited my overly emotional gene. On the outside, however, I am reminding myself to breathe and bring my shoulders away from my ears. I am whispering to myself to just stay open. I am and praying to Spirit, to the powers to be, to help me to not mess it up!

My concern is that if we teach our kids that it is not okay to feel emotions (why are you you so upset about this?) and express themselves, (you’re fine, stop crying) I wonder if they will in turn keep things from us. Big things. Like questions they have about drugs and sex as they get older. Or the disappointments and worry they have when they have at any age.

If I can’t handle their truth, where will they go with it? What will they do with it? Especially if their truth has pain wrapped up in it. Am I inadvertently teaching them it is better to numb their true emotions then feel and express them in order to make others feel better? In order to keep the peace? In order to spare me dealing with my pain?

I know my kids won’t tell me everything as they grow up and if they did well that would be even harder! But when they do, I don’t want them dealing with my unresolved pain. So I am trying (once again trying not succeeding) to take care of my heart and soul and all of my emotional baggage. If we don’t deal with it, we pass it on to someone else to deal with.

I now know that pain is a great teacher. And distraction is okay and even necessary from time to time. But in order to grow, heal, and be free from all that binds us, we need to feel even if for a brief, scary and awkward moment.

If you want to read more…http://tampabay.citymomsblog.com/2016/10/11/pain-pain-go-away/

 

 

the soul in everything

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This morning on Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, I walked with my baby girl in her stroller to the sound of  birds chirping. From high up tree branches, they sang their little hearts out. Giving voice to that which needed to be sung.

I left my phone at home this time. With no temptation to pick it up and check messages, I felt truly anchored to the unfolding of life happening all around me. The messages that needed to reach me were not on my phone, they were outside in nature. Messages to keep going and stay connected. Messages to reach out. To practice gratitude every step of the way. And to keep giving voice to that which needs to be sung within me.

We can start over at anytime. We can mend and heal. A new day, a new beginning, a new intention, a new year.

And as a slight breeze swam through the humid air, it dawned on me that mother nature truly feels like a mother. Anytime we are feeling lost, plagued by a worrisome thought or just need a hug, we can head outdoors and be held by the beauty and unconditional love hidden in every leave, scurrying squirrel, singing bird, dancing tree, social butterfly and color in the dreamy sky.

They are there to keep us connected to our souls. When we connect to our own souls, we connect to the soul in everything.

It is a lullaby, a hushed comfort telling us that everything is going to be okay. On this new day of this new year, find your words, your tune, your melody and share it with those around you. We need your voice and all the voices of the world to keep us connected to the soul in everything.

let’s be real

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A mother at my children’s school sent out a text the other day requesting help. In a moment of vulnerability, she asked the other mothers if they could take her kids for an afternoon during what was to be the busiest work week of her year.

We all responded that we were happy to help.

Then, on a different text, a friend wrote that she too was feeling overwhelmed and had cried to someone she didn’t know very well earlier in the day.

It must have been in the air because I too felt a kind of overwhelmed and had sent out a request. I was feeling a bit lonely, sad, and disconnected. I needed a plan in place to see some friends. I needed to laugh, eat, and relax. To not do anything or accomplish anything other than connection.

It felt freeing to take the initiative. To speak up. To say what I needed and not wait for an invitation. So much can shift when we articulate what we need. It sounds easy but why does it feel so hard?

For me, I fear seeming too needy, too selfish, too sensitive, too not put together. And what if I am all of those things? So what?

Life is overwhelming. And sometimes it’s not. But when it is, we can only focus on doing the next right thing. The thing that feels true.

Glennon Doyle Melton, author of The New York Times bestseller, Love Warrior, talked recently to Oprah about divulging her true feelings when another mother at a play date asked her how she liked being a stay at home mom. Glennon revealed that she felt like a dormant volcano, calm on the outside but boiling on the inside with hot lava that could erupt at anytime and kill everyone in the vicinity.  The other women in the playgroup looked back at her wide eyed and speechless. So she backtracked and told them how grateful and fulfilling it all was.

“Ok so we’re not doing this here”, she thought to herself. We’re not doing real here.

I think we have all been there before, spoken up and then felt completely humiliated. But the thing is, I think we are ready to stop backtracking. It feels to me, whether it is our age or the age we live in, that we are really ready for real.

When I received that first text from the mom at my kid’s school, I was like hell yes I will be there for you. I was also like thank you for being honest and vulnerable and for letting me know when the tides turn and they always do, that I can call you and be real too.

Yesterday, real looked like my baby sitting on the floor putting tampons (straight from the box in case you are totally freaked out) in her mouth. Real looked like an oven mitt set on fire on the stove while I attempted to make dinner. Real looked like me missing my mom and missing my friends who I hadn’t seen in awhile. Real looked like shit all over the floor. Real looked like a disastrous mess.

But we survived and I can kind of smile at it now and feel thankful that my house didn’t burn down and that my baby didn’t swallow a tampon. And that in this instant, my mother-in-law has the baby, the older kids are at school, there is a candle glowing next to me and I can breathe.

Too often we struggle alone. We silence ourselves. We don’t want to talk about what is going on, we don’t want to bring it into the light. Maybe we fear looking bad. Or we don’t want pity. We don’t want to burden anyone. Or we feel guilty complaining because it could be so much worse.

And it could be so much worse! We are so fortunate in so many ways. But it doesn’t mean that our personal struggles and sorrows aren’t real.

I am grateful to the courageous trailblazers out there like Glennon. And my friends. And all of those before us who took risks to be real and speak their truth. Because real is beautiful. We need real. We need real desperately. We need intimacy, tears, connection, courage and kindness too. We need collaboration not competition. We need truth. We need empathy. Not, poor you, but I hear you. Because you matter and how you feel is real. And real is beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

worrying sucks

It really does. Especially in the middle of the night. Usually the morning brings about relief. Sometimes the sunlight washes away the worry and I think to myself, wow I was really worked up for nothing. Everything is exacerbated in the middle of the night.

But then there are the days when the worry keeps going.

Fortunately, most of what we worry about doesn’t happen. And unfortunately, sometimes it does.

I have realized there are tactics to deal with worry when it occurs and then there is what we can do the rest of the time to prevent worrying from even starting or from getting worse.

It’s mental hygiene, it is self care and it can make a world of difference. Especially if you are someone like me who is prone to anxiety.

For me watching the news is off limits. Reading the paper is still upsetting but I can avoid the images which just get stuck in my head and make me feel sick.

If you want to read more and are interested in some tips to help tame worry, please check out my post today on the Tampa Bay Moms Blog.

America Ninja Worrywart (and 7 surefire ways to tame your inner worrier)