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

 

 

 

Life is but a dream

 

Life is but a dream…

Row Row Row Your Boat. I sang this to my baby girl today. And she smiled. Such a bright light. A bright light drowning out the noise.

The sadness, the horror, the violence. I bet the mamas of those slain men sang them this same song when they were babies. When their eyes shone bright with innocence, purity, and trust. Like all of us moms, they had dreams for their children, the loves of their lives, the pulse of their worlds, that they would grow up to be happy, healthy, and safe. Certainly alive.

They can’t drown out the noise. They don’t have the option to do so like I do.

We eventually go to bed because we have to sleep. We shut our eyes from pure exhaustion. For a moment in the morning we think we have been spared, that the nightmare from the day before was exactly that, a scary dream. Or it was actually someone else that it happened to. Which doesn’t make it anymore terrible and heartbreaking but it doesn’t impact your every breath in the same way.

You have survivor’s guilt but you bargain with the powers that be that you will behave differently, will be more giving, more helpful to everyone. You won’t talk shit about anyone anymore. You will not take one minute for granted. You are so thankful.

If only you could go back ,you think, and do things a tad bit differently. Kept a better eye on them. Kept them on the phone a bit longer. Not have let them go there. Told them to be careful. Told them you loved them louder and more often. But you don’t want them to live life being fearful of their every move. That is no way to live. We are free for fuck’s sake. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave after all.

But it is not your fault. You know that.

After a few very brief moments, the pit in your stomach is there again and it’s growing all the way up to your throat. You feel like you could throw up or you want to go back to sleep but of course you can’t. You want to numb it, take something, drink something, feel something else. Anything but this. Please G-d, anything but this. It has to be a mistake. It feels so surreal. Like you are just going through the motions.

Everything is different. Everything is tainted. You will never be the same. This is not a dream. This is real. This is very real.

People who pray will pray. People who paint will paint. Many will talk. Many will cry. Many will help. Many will not. Many will post to Facebook. Most don’t know what to do. Those of us who write will write. Because we can’t just sit here and do nothing. We don’t want to be insensitive. We don’t know if it is our place to say something, do anything, because we can’t possibly imagine what it is like. What they are going through.  We were spared, we are so grateful. This time.

It will be in the news, it will be everywhere. Constantly. Until it isn’t. Until the next horrific event happens. Until the initial shock and devastation is a little less raw. A wound. A scab. A scar.

Some reach out, some hide, some can’t take it. Some say helpful things. Some say annoying things.

For a moment there is something that gives you a glimmer of hope. Again. A glimmer of hope and peace. A view of the big picture. We can’t know, we aren’t meant to understand. We will do better. But then the light goes out. Again. And it happens again. Again. Again. Again.

We say ENOUGH! Or NO MORE! OR shout something else. But nothing changes. Or does it? Is it changing? We just keep being asked time and time again to come together and love each other more, and let things go more. To be more compassionate.

We can protest. We can lead with our hearts. We can sign petitions and write letters. We can speak the truth. We can volunteer. We can raise money. We can speak from our hearts, from our fears and insecurities. We can give voice to what we really think. We can talk honestly with one another. With our neighbors, our in-laws, our friends, those who are similar and those who are different, our bosses, people that intimidate us, our kids.

But more than anything, we have to stop being fearful. Because we don’t want to live being fearful.

This is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

But until we are all brave, we won’t all be free.

The good old days

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“Cabbage Patch Kids growing in the garden, Cabbage Patch Kids growing in the sun, and the most amazing thing about a Cabbage Patch Kid is that each one grows to be a special one.” – from an elementary school play I desperately wanted to be in…about…you guessed it…Cabbage Patch Kids.

My children are not into my Cabbage Patch Kid. Not even in the least. I had a few; Melva, Angie (she was special with her long, dark, cornsilk hair) and Brandon. I’m not trying to brag but I was also fortunate enough to own a Koosas. What’s that you say? A Koosas! You know the cabbage patch kid/animal combo. My Koosasas name was Douglas and he wore blue corduroy shorts, rainbow suspenders and a collar with a tag around his neck. He was pretty cute I guess. Odd but cute. Well maybe more odd than cute. I’ve always had a thing for the underdog. And Douglas was definitely that. I had to fight for his honor a lot.

However, the one in question on this particular day was Brandon. My kids were curious about the signature on his bottom. They were also not crazy about the hole in his mouth where a pacifier used to stick out. Without the pacifier, he just kind of looks like he missed out on regular dental cleanings. And they didn’t exactly buy the story that he was birthed from the canal of a cabbage either.

I remember as a kid finding their very lifelike bottoms intriguing. But then the front side was just a crotch. A little disappointing. Not sure if dolls really need vaginas and penises but it is troubling when everything else is intact and then the front is just some mysterious flat anatomically confusing nether region. This was always perplexing and slightly unnerving to me as a child. Why did Barbie have those enormous boobs and then the bottom half was just kind of…missing?

Some days when I am waxing poetic about my youth while getting irritated with my kids tap tap tapping away on their various electronic devices, I think back to the good old days. Spumoni clothing (sweatshirts and tee shirts with puffy animals engaging in extra curricular activities like skating, surfing, hangin’ out on valentine hearts, etc.), Cabbage Patch Kids’ dimpled Xavier Roberts signed bottoms, a rad sunburn all over my face, and maybe a trip to the mall for an Orange Julius or a stroll around Claire’s, I can’t help but think to myself, Man my kids don’t know what they are missing.

 

melodius

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There is Love in holding, and there is Love in letting go.”  –  Elizabeth Berg

“To see thee more clearly. Love thee more dearly. Follow thee more nearly, day by day.”  

This morning I woke to a sleeping house. What a rare and amazing gift! My husband was already awake and meditating so I decided to join him. Lord knows I need it.

We sat on the floor of our dusky bedroom while tiny dust particles mingled with the determined morning light. *We listened to the sweet subtle voice on my husband’s phone  as birds chirped along in the background. The gentle voice guided us to name our feelings.

Anger, anger, frustration, disappointment, anger, fear, sadness. And then…identify any sensations you are feeling and where you are feeling them...warm, warm, hot, hot, face, tight, stomach, throat, bubble, tight, tight, TIGHT!

By repeating the name of the sensation, the sensation itself starts to melt, losing its hold, losing its power and making room for more space. The sensation, neither good or bad, just is and often goes as quickly as it comes.

But first, it needs acknowledgement. Not judgement or understanding, just acknowledgement.

Then we soften because we allow. We feel it. Even if it stings and hurts.

Much like getting stuck in an undertow while swimming in the ocean, when we swim against the current, we lose our strength. But when we swim with the current, we find our breath and are able to let go and stay afloat.

We breathe. We flow. We keep going. We must keep going.

After my daughter left for camp today, I drove my son to his camp, and then took my baby girl to a coffeehouse I hadn’t been to in over a year. I went there yesterday too and then went back again today because it is just that warm and welcoming inside.

I felt comforted just by being there. Maybe even held. And as I was about to leave, I made a new friend.

She told me I was her hero when I said I had 3 kids. After telling me that she was a social worker with two kids who started her own business helping developmentally challenged adults and is also currently getting her Master of Arts in Psychology, I told her she was my hero! I could feel courage, confidence, and kindness emanating from her like the beaming sun.

Then we hugged. Twice.

Joy Joy Joy. Warmth. Grateful. Heart. Heart. Happy.

I’m not sure I would have had the space in my heart for joy, gratitude, and a new friend had I not allowed the anger and sadness the space to just be first.

We breathe. We flow. We keep going. We must keep going.

*We used the app for our phone Calm: Mediate and relax with guided mindfulness meditation for stress reduction at http://www.calm.com.