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)

 

 

creating from struggle

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The other day while giving my heart a little love on the elliptical at the gym, I listened to writer, Elizabeth Gilbert talk to a singer songwriter on her Big Magic Podcast. The woman had suffered through the death of her sister and was paralyzed with the overwhelming weight of her grief. She wasn’t ready to write about her sister. But yet she wanted to write about her sister. She was conflicted.

On these podcasts, Gilbert calls other creative people for their take and on this particular call, she reached out to novelist, Ann Patchett for her advice on how to help this brave young woman.

Her advice was that she absolutely had to write about her sister. She spoke of the two different processes at play. She spoke about the creative process and that one can “never shut a door to creativity.”

Then after allowing oneself the freedom to write whatever needs to be written, the decision becomes what to do with it. Whether to share it and what parts to share, keep it, or get rid of it.

Whether to keep the writing to ourselves or share it is our decision to make. But we cannot let this quandary of what to say, how to say it, and what will others think, get in the way of expressing our grief. Or any of our emotions and experiences for that matter.

Patchett said in regards to her own experience with grief and writing after losing a dear friend, that it was like “sticking her hand on the eye of the stove.” “How long can I leave it there?” Some days the answer was not very long.

“How could what I write possibly be worthy?” This is the impossible thing she says, but “in facing the impossible thing, you tell the truth. You keep trying. You realize the limitations of words and music to possibly express this love.”

But you tell the truth, you keep trying. Even if you can only keep your hand on that hot stove for a brief moment.

I believe when we write or create from a place of grief or struggle, we change our relationship to it. It becomes part of our life and not something to avoid. I’m not sure grief ever fully goes away. But maybe it can be transformed if we work with it, create from it, move with it, learn from it, and ultimately share it.

Listening to this story reminded me of an Oscar-nominated documentary by Tomasz Śliwiński called, The Curse about a young couple in Warsaw and their beloved new son. The boy, Leo, had been diagnosed with an incurable disorder affecting his breathing. He could only be kept alive on a ventilator. It was agonizing to watch but also beautiful to witness such love. The father and filmmaker said this of his decision to  film and then share their story:

“That period of our lives was depressing and devastating. But shooting this film helped us a great deal. It kept us going; instead of succumbing to depression, we could direct our energy into something creative. At the time, we were not sure if we were going to show this film to anyone – it felt much too intimate and private. However, after a few months I realized that we had gone through the universal process of coping with any obstacle, even one that seems impossible at first. It was then that I felt that we should share this experience with others. I decided to complete the film.”

When I read this for the first time I felt the desperation in his chest. The desperation in his chest and in his throat. It was too much to bear alone. But channeling his suffering into something creative and then sharing it, somehow helped change the experience. It was still awful and hard but there was so much beauty and love around it too. It was uplifting. It was almost as if surrounding his pain with art, he also made a new opening, a new possibility, a new realm to another more understanding world where pain can be transformed and healing occurs.

In another podcast I listened to recently, Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned that the definition of the word responsibility is the ability to respond.

It makes me wonder…How do we respond to struggle? To suffering, to obstacles, to grief, to being human? Do we do it alone? Can we do it together? How can we try?

It can be scary living and creating from such a vulnerable and open place. And sometimes it is scary for those of us viewing it. But it is real. And at least we are trying. One word, one brush stroke, one touch of the stove at a time.

For more info on Elizabeth Gilbert and her wonderful podcast on creativity, go to http://www.elizabethgilbert.com

and for more info on Leo and his brave story you can check out his father’s blog at http://www.leoblog.pl/en/

 

what I’m up to

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Earlier this summer, I wrote my first post for the Tampa Bay Moms Blog called, Please Excuse My Appearance. In a nut shell it is about my inability to leave the house looking put together. I keep putting my clothes on inside out and then parading around like everything is normal. And since I wrote the post, I actually did it again. Maybe it is a sign. I have always been someone to wear my emotions on my sleeves, maybe my sleeves are just meant to be inside out with the stitching showing.

It is the same thing with selfies. I also find the word selfie really annoying. Whether alone or with a friend, I look like the biggest goofball! Pat Conroy wrote in the book Beach Music that one of his characters had the kind of beauty that didn’t photograph well. Whenever I see a photo of myself, I pretend this is the case.

Perfection is the antithesis of compassion they say. So I’m trying to be nice to myself by embracing it and finding humor in the absurdity of it all. If we are smiling then who cares if there are milk stains all over my shirt and a large seed in my front teeth?

If you missed the post, below is the link. I hope it makes you laugh!

Please Excuse My Appearance…

 

 

 

 

 

 

your personal Everest

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A while back I heard Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind mountain climber to summit Everest, speak on T.V. He said…

“When I am climbing – the scariest part is when I’m reaching out and I’m not exactly sure what I’m gonna find – I mean I’m hoping and praying and predicting I’m gonna find what I’m looking for.

He went on…

“I think sometimes the fear of reaching out into the unknown paralyzes people to the point where they decide not to reach out at all.”

“For me all of the greatest things that have ever come have come through me reaching out into the unknown.”

For me that looks like an honest blog post. It may be reaching out to someone in a text or email. Sometimes it is getting up and dancing when no one else is.

But whatever my personal Everest is at the moment, it is usually marked by my heart beating out of my chest while fiery heat rises to my face. It is an indication that this reaching out means something important to me.

When I was in middle school I chose not to audition for plays because I wasn’t “that good”. I thought to myself that miracles of miracles if I did get the part then I didn’t want the mean girls to make fun of me anyway. So I didn’t try out. Instead I sang and acted with my friends at home.

But that wasn’t enough. I missed out on challenging myself and experiencing something different with new people. I ignored my souls request which left me feeling stifled. And like every single human being, I had something to say, something to share. Something creative was stirring inside of me but it didn’t know where to go.

I didn’t reach out because I was scared of the outcome.

So now I am reaching out to you and wondering…

What does reaching out into the unknown mean to you? What are you not doing because you are scared of what you may or may not find?

What if you quit everything to try this one thing and you fail?

And maybe the most important question is…

“What’s worth doing even if I fail?”  Brene Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fierce with reality

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When we open up to our brokenness, we begin the path to wholeness. 

When I was younger, I used to hope that when I turned 20 and then 30 and now 50, that I would be free from getting so humiliated or feeling fearful or anxious. I thought I just needed to grow up.

I still get humiliated, fearful, and anxious. But what is different now is that while I don’t particular enjoy these strong feelings,  I am more okay with them because I see them as passing conditions. They are simply tools to work with. And they don’t define me.

Wholeness is not perfection. Wholeness is acceptance. It is simply a willingness to look at all of it…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

When we give voice to our brokenness, we in turn let light shine on and from these places.

And who knows how this light will change our lives and illuminate the hearts of others.

As Parker Palmer says, the way to God is down.

And when we are mindful of our pain, when we hear it and can identify it as sadness, anger, jealousy, grief, whatever it may be…we see our brokenness as something to understand and not necessarily fix. We change our relationship to it. It becomes something to work with and grow from.

It becomes a portal to awakening not a pathology to treat.

Barrie Davenport in her book, Peace of Mindfulness, writes, “Don’t add another layer of suffering by fretting over your suffering.”

There is nothing wrong with you. You are not perfect thank goodness! But you are beautiful in your brokenness. Because you are fierce with reality.

today trascendence

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“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” – Eckhart Tolle

Our anger, pain, and our sadness is fleeting. Our bad moods are fleeting. These emotional states often have such a grip on our hearts. But they are not who we are. We are the observer, the witness, the one that notices the rollercoaster of emotions.We are along for the ride.

These emotions, they come and go like a dense fog rolling into view and limiting our visibility only to later be burned off by the warming sun. And when the fog eventually lifts as it always does, a more sparkly, clearer, and truer sky is revealed.

Our souls are not fleeting. At the core of our beings, no matter what turmoil is going on around us, we are pure magnificence. Compassionate. Genuine. Loving. Light.

Even in death our light shines like a million shooting stars showering down on the earth blanketing those we love with a glowing embrace.

We are together in this. Our hearts, our souls at the deepest level are the same. We are one.

“In the end there are three things that matter. How well we’ve lived. How well we’ve loved. How well we’ve learned to let go.” – Jack Kornfield

We as human beings have this amazing capacity to be reborn at breakfast…everyday this is a new day, who will I be today? – Jack Kornfield