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/

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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. 

 

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)

 

 

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

special delivery

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The other day I got scolded by my mailman while walking with my baby and looking at my cell phone. “You are with her but you are not with her, leave that at home.” Who was he?  The Dalai Lama of the postal service? I was so annoyed. He should mind his own business for Pete’s sake! And so I huffed and puffed and almost blew my house down. The best part? I was researching mindfulness programs!

Earlier that day, I had been asked by a friend to teach a series on mindfulness meditation. My first reaction was YES. Then the barrage of thoughts like determined little leaf cutter ants came marching along screaming at me that I need more training and more experience in order to do this. I would certainly benefit from more training. But I have been down this path before and at what point is this train of thought really just an excuse to avoid putting myself out there? There is always another training and another certification or someone more adept at doing the job.

But I have learned from experience that often the missing piece is less about a lack of knowledge and more about a lack of confidence. So often what is really getting in our way is our ability to believe in ourselves and trust that we are enough.

We already possess that which we are meant to teach.

And they say that our most important teachers are the ones that push our buttons. The ones that reflect back to us what we most need to pay attention to. What was most annoying about my scolding from the mailman? He was right.