Friday, December 1, 2017

He's Still Bob.

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were having a conversation about someone we knew who had gone through some remarkable--positive--changes. When I asked if a difficult situation regarding this person was now resolved, my friend shrugged and said, "Well, I mean, he's still Bob.*"

Since that conversation, that phrase has repeated over and over in my head. Sometimes in the midst of a tragedy or life-altering event, people step up in ways that can blow you away. Sometimes, a person who has hurt you repeatedly reaches out in kindness. If you're anything like me (past me) you'll welcome that person right back into your life and heart thinking he or she has changed.

How's that work out? In my situation(s) it has worked out for shit. Because guess what: He's still Bob.

I give people second chances--and sometimes 3, 4, 5 .... chances--because of all the chances people have given me. I've damaged relationships and friendships. I've messed up with my husband and my kids and my friends. I've lost my temper and said mean things more times than I care to remember. Everyone messes up occasionally, but I have been guilty of holding myself to unreachable standards. I don't expect YOU to be perfect; I just expect me to be perfect. Getting better all the time.

Anyway, through my shortcomings, I've become an outstanding apologizer. And my tribe always forgives me, gives me grace and second chances and 3, 4, 5 ...

So I give people chances. But guess what? Not everyone has a place in my life. And not everyone has a place in yours. That doesn't mean someone is a bad person. It doesn't mean you and I are bad people either. Maybe you are just bad for each other. If someone brings out your worst side, then they shouldn't be part of your tribe.

My dad used to tell me: No one is all bad and no one is all good. True story. Damn, I miss my dad.  Good people are capable of doing really awful things, and awful people can sometimes do really good things. How you behave the majority of the time--especially when no one is watching--indicates your character.

Recently, thanks to Emily P. Freeman's wonderful podcast, "The Next Right Thing," I've been practicing "bringing peace with me into the chaos rather than trying to calm the chaos to find peace."

Occasionally I actually succeed. Yesterday, I didn't. As I made dinner and Peyton and Lily argued and fought and picked at each other, I couldn't pull them into my peace. I couldn't bring peace into their chaos. So I briefly lost my shit and brought a little more chaos to an already chaotic situation, and then I put my ear buds in and let Shauna Niequist pull me into her peace.

Sometimes, someone will read my blog and say, "I needed that; thank you." You're welcome. Other times, I think I'm writing to my future self. Maybe in five years, when I'm about to give someone a seventh chance to break my heart, this blog will pop up in my memories and warn me: He's still Bob.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Every Day is the Best Day

Before you go any further, let me warn you: This is a brain dump which might make very little sense. I'm only sharing it because every time I write something, I think--someone might relate to this today and feel like, "YES! Me too!" and that is one of my favorite ways to feel. Others might think it's a pile of shit; that's perfectly fine too. Here goes...

Rules for the rest of 2017:

1. Read only fun things. I gave myself permission to read cozy feel-good fluff. Chick lit. Beach reads. Yummy rom-com kind of stuff. I work so damn hard on being better all the time that sometimes I plain forget to be good enough. So here's to being good enough. And happy. And chill. And wrapping up in a blanket and reading for fun.

2. Stop worrying so much about missing something...remember, what goes by you wasn't for you. Sometimes, I jump out of bed to jot down an idea or yell, "Hey Siri, write this down!" This is rooted in Anne Lamott's super solid advice for writers to have a pen and paper handy at all times. Of course I took that good advice to a completely different level. Because that is what I do.

3. Stop rehashing everything you say. I surround myself with wonderful, kind, lovely people. Then after spending time with them, I go back through conversations criticizing and second-guessing everything that came out of my mouth. That was so stupid. Why would you say that? Here's the thing: Not one of my wonderful, kind, lovely people ever said that to me. It's my inner critic. You say the dumbest things. No one likes you. They're pretending. They all talk about you when you leave. She's such a bitch! This morning, when she started, I said, "You can't talk to me like that anymore," and she shut up. Just like any other bully. Stand up to her and she backs down.

4. Give yourself a fucking break. The other day my friend asked, "Do you ever sit down?" Huh. I never thought about it, but the truth is I rarely sit down. Sometimes...when I'm writing. And in the evenings when we watch shows. But mostly, I feel the need to always be DOING something. I only allow myself to watch my favorite shows when I'm on the treadmill. Sometimes, I stand at the kitchen counter when I'm working on long writing and editing projects because "they" said sitting for long periods of time is worse than smoking. It's okay to sit down.

5. Make more room for things that light you up and give less energy to stuff that doesn't. People, experiences, podcasts, books... So often I don't let myself enjoy something if it isn't stretching or teaching me in some way. Sometimes the only things I let myself enjoy are food and drinks. Wow. That's an aha moment. If the only pleasures you allow yourself are things that in turn cause you to beat yourself up, it's time to reevaluate what you're doing for fun.

6. Just write. Since finishing my book and starting the process of trying to find a literary agent, writing sometimes feels like work. I only let myself blog if I send out a query letter. Or I have to work on my proposal before I can work on anything else. So sometimes I don't write because I don't feel like doing the working part. It's a catch 22. I refuse to let "being a writer" suck the joy out of writing. Building a platform and finding an agent and selling a book...none of those things matter. Writing keeps me sane. Writing feeds my soul. Writing is where I speak my truth. That's what matters, and that is enough.

7. Be here. Really here. My little tweenager is going through a rough patch. Yesterday I whisper-scream-prayed, "HELP ME! I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!" in the middle of a fit and then wrapped her up like I used to do when she was a toddler. Full disclosure: That was about as pleasant as trying to hug a cornered rat that's more than half your size. Still. I held her really tight, kissed her head--which I barely have to bend down to do anymore--and smoothed her hair, repeating, "It's okay," while she screamed, "IT'S NOT!" ... until it was.

You guys, about half the time I don't know what the fuck I'm doing as a mom. I feel like an imposter. I fear that I'm monumentally messing up these souls trusted to me. I'm flying by the seat of my pants. Here's what helps: Meditation. Yoga. Essential oils. Praying. Grace. Sweet Jesus, less anxiety and more grace. I'm open to suggestions if anyone has a remedy.

And just like that I'm done. The well is dry. It bothered me to stop at a random number like 7, but that's where I am this morning. 7. And then I remember...7. God's number. The number of wholeness and completion. March around the walls once a day for 6 days. 7 times on the 7th day. Forgive 70 x 7 times.7 days of creation. More than 700 references of 7 in the Bible. One of the best sermons I ever listened to was called: Don't Stop on 6--the gist of which is don't give up too soon, or you might miss the miracle that was coming. And it's an awesome one to listen to if you need a pep talk.

I'm going to try to spend the rest of 2017 being fully here. Showing up for my people and for my life. Good enough as I am. Listening and loving. Giving grace...even to myself. Letting every day be the best day.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

I Love Food

When I was little and thought my body was fine, people told me: You're too skinny. You're too bony. Your legs are too long. Your feet are too big. You have no butt.

When I got older and thought my body was not okay, people told me: You're not skinny. You're curvy. Your legs are not long. Your feet are very small. You're butt's huge. 

Over the course of 44 years of mixed external messages and an inability to hear the still small voice above the LOUD OBNOXIOUS INNER CRITIC, I lost all sense of my physical body. I thought I was bigger, smaller, taller, shorter, thinner, fatter, you name it than I actually was. 

One thing told the truth, without judgement or condemnation: The scale.

Today, if my husband sees me getting off the scale fretful and sad, he says, "Baby, you're beautiful. Stop getting on the scale." My friends say, "Throw the scale away." I don't even really care about losing weight, but I've attached some sort of power to the scale that it didn't ask for and doesn't merit. I've made the scale a truth teller and labeled everyone else a liar. 

Why? Why do I give that power to an inanimate object? Why do I give that value to a number? Because I value the truth? Because I still hear the voice in my head (and the back of my house) that says, "You should not weigh more than ____?" The scale hasn't shown me 112 in at least 10 years. 112 pounds. That's the number my mom threw out years ago as being "fat." It stuck in my head because--at the time--that was what I weighed. 

But why...why am I (we, because I know I'm not alone) so obsessed with that number? Because people, society, mothers, coaches, mentors, doctors, ex-boyfriends, who-the-fuck-ever impressed upon us that we needed to be a certain number on the scale in order to be acceptable? I call bullshit.

I read a blog the other day that said when you really decide enough is enough, that is when you can change. This morning, I got on the scale and said out loud to myself and the cats, "Well, is that enough?"

I felt sad and discouraged that that number was more than what I thought it should be. That number would be enough to make me do what? Starve myself? Stop drinking beer? Stop enjoying food? You guys, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. My mom was right years ago when she said, "You don't have the eating habits of a thin person." I. Fucking. Love. Food. But you know what it was enough of? Holding myself to some crazy external standard of weight.

My weight has not changed significantly for the last 4 years. A few times I lost a few pounds and gained them back, but for the most part I've been consistently the same weight. For the last 4 years, I saw that as a failure. I couldn't lose weight. Today, I'm reframing it. I eat what I want. I drink what I want. I'm healthy, happy, loved, and roughly the same size all the time. I wanted bigger boobs my whole life and now I have them!

The scale only tells one truth: how much your physical body weighs. It can't tell how full of love you are. It can't tell how many people cherish you. It can't tell how much good you bring to the world every day. And despite what you may have been told, it can't tell you how beautiful you are.

I know I write about this all the time. Truth is: I've been way too obsessed with my weight for way too long because I never measured up to the standard that was set for me. I'll probably write about it again. But today, I'm going to go eat delicious food with a dear friend I haven't seen in years, and I'm not going to have any thoughts at all about what the scale, my inner critic or anyone else thinks about it.


Monday, October 16, 2017

The Terrible Tweens

It's hard to be 11. Every age has its issues, but as my third baby navigates the dreaded tween years, I think these years are among the roughest. A friend once warned me, "Little kids; little problems. Big kids; big problems," and I have seen that play out in extremely painful ways...especially over the last year. Still. Tweening is tough.

This morning, my itty bitty girl had a rough morning. She decided recently that her naturally curly hair should be straight, so our morning now includes a 15-minute flat-ironing ritual. After some painful periods of trial-and-error (including my quitting a job that required ME to get ready in the morning as well), our routine has been pretty chill. This morning, however, the moment I heard her voice, my guard was up. It was that whiny, whimpery, slightly smart-ass'y voice that presses the rage button deep within me. Does your kid have a voice like that?

Pre-Brené  Brown, when one of my children spoke in that voice, I would lose. My. SHIT. Scream, yell, have a holy fit. Post-Brené-Brown, occasionally, I calmly reply, "Can you please not speak in that voice? Because that voice triggers stuff that makes me want to smash every glass object we own on the tile and then tackle you in it." Don't underestimate parenting with hyperbole. It can really diffuse the situation. And sometimes, I still lose my ever-loving shit because I'm a work in progress.

Back to this morning. Clothing issues. I have no long sleeved-shirts. I hate all my clothes. I'm not going to school. All screamed in the voice. I tried telling her that she actually had lots of lovely clothes, but she was tired and crabby and it was a gloomy Monday morning. It was all of these things telling her a bullshit story.


I almost dropped the flat iron. Full disclosure: I almost threw it.

But then it hit me:

Here is a MOMENT. The moments I read and write and think about all the time. The moments when we just need someone to see us. Hear us. Be with us. So I gently put the flat iron down and asked, "Do you think I don't understand and I'm telling you this stuff to shut you up? Because I completely understand. That's why I can tell you with 100% certainty that it will be okay. A good portion of the population lived through 11 already. It can suck, but it is temporary. Even though it might feel like the end of the world right now, it isn't. And I promise it will be okay." Since she knows I don't make promises unless there's not a single chance I'll have to break it, she believed me.

And she was good.

I beat myself up all the time for the 899,999 things I should or could have said or done better. I try to be kind and compassionate all the time. I fall short all. the. time. Consistently, I circle back to this: It's not about me. Remove myself from the equation and 899,996 times I do or say the right thing. When I remember to check my ego at the door and meet people where they are, everything works out better.

Too often I get sucked into that quote: "Don't let people pull you into their storm; pull them into your peace." - Kimberly Jones

Too often I don't separate other people's emotions from my own. This is especially difficult with people who once made their home inside my body.

But today, for 35 seconds in my bathroom, I did the right thing. And now, I just have to do the next one.

Please tell me your tween stories. The horrors, the celebrations, the fails and wins. Let's slog through this together because misery loves company.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

You Belong to Me

As often happens in my life, when I start focusing on one thing, all kinds of contributing lessons show up. Synchronicity, divine appointments, conjuring things up, call it what you want...I call it all three. A few weeks ago when Chloe and I went to see Stevie Nicks, I really really r e a l l y wanted Tom Petty to show up to sing their famous duet, "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around." I tried to conjure him up, but my powers failed. 

Then a few days ago, he died. Facebook and I are on a break, so I hadn't heard. My brother text me, "Tom Petty died." Although people dying isn't something we usually joke about, I hopefully responded, "Are you serious?" Yeah. Fuck.

I am going to go off on a brief tangent, but I'll get back to this.

One of my favorite pieces of parenting advice came from my daughter's friend's mom who advised her daughters: “Be your own girl.”* I wished at the time that I had some similar profound advice to give Chloe. I also thought (and still do) that this mom had it all together. She lived in a beautiful house and drove a clean mini-van. She was kind and patient and genuine. I never heard her yell or swear. I was torn between wanting to be like her, wanting her to be my mom, and wanting to turn my kid over to her, apologetically pleading, "I'm definitely gonna fuck this up. Can you maybe...raise her?"

Back to synchronicity. For the first 40-ish years of my life, I felt a sense of being left out. Not belonging. I write about it a lot. It was always my big trigger. Nothing makes me throw up titanium walls quicker than the sense that I don't belong. 

This week I started reading Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Reading is an inadequate description of what I've been doing actually. I read. I cry. I write down 15 quotes. I text my husband, daughter and friends. Then I read another paragraph. Experiencing the book. That's a better description.

But in reading, er, experiencing this book, I'm forced to sit with those feelings of not belonging. The chameleon role I've played over the years. The times I tried to fit in with different feel included, part of, less alone. 

Full Disclosure: I never truly fit in. Not with my family of origin. Not with people in school. I felt a real sense of belonging with my grad school people, but that was short-lived. 

I longed for people to get me, thinking if they just understood me, certainly they would like me, and I would finally belong. The level of fundamental fucked-up-ness in that sentiment is staggering, but it's the truth. That's how I felt. Un-sugarcoated. 

I don't anymore. I no longer seek acceptance and understanding. I'm comfortable in my own skin, but it feels sad to look back. I want to grab that younger version of myself who strived so hard for acceptance and say, "Stop! You don't need to do that! You belong to me!" I would scoop her up the same way I scoop up my kids, my husband, my friends. You are loved. You are enough. You are good. It doesn't matter what the world says. Believe me!

So what does this have to do with Tom Petty? I'll tell you. I promise. Also Maya Angelou. Bow down.

Each podcast I listen to, each article I read about Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown talks about a particular Maya Angelou quote she wrestled with: 
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.”

Earlier this week, a lifelong friend posted these lyrics from Tom Petty's Wildflowers

"You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free."

I had mindlessly sung those lyrics so many times and never let them settle into my heart and soothe my soul. 

Brown says, "True belonging doesn't require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are."

I'm never going to fit in. I'll never be skinny, pretty, quiet, ladylike, blonde, smart, conservative, or whatever enough for everyone to like me. I'll always say fuck; it's my second favorite word. Lovely is my favorite, if you wondered. But I am good and happy. I belong over here in my own lane where I can cuss and drink beer and love freely. I belong to me.


*Also a line in Stop Draggin' My Heart case you didn't know 😉

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I'm Not Your Type

Recently, I went to a restorative yoga class. I've wanted to go for a long time but never did because a) they cost money and at-home yoga is free and b) Sitting still is hard for me. I meditate for about 20 minutes; then, I'm done. I can hold a pose for about 5 breaths; then, I have to move. It's outside my comfort zone. But, I'm always preaching at myself to step outside my comfort zone, so I went. It was amazing, and I'm so glad I went, but this isn't about stepping outside your comfort zone.

Actually, this is about knowing that sometimes, it's okay to stay in it.

What? Hell, you say. Life BEGINS at the end of your comfort zone! Nothing great ever happened in a comfort zone! The magic happens when you step OUT of your comfort zone. I know. I've read the quotes. I believe them too. Sometimes.

On the other hand, I am very comfortable with a lot of things about myself: I don't run, spin, funnel beer, bungee jump, knit, do crossfit, drive go-carts, ski ... off the top of my head. I've tried some of those things and don't enjoy them. Others, I know without trying, will hold no joy for me. No thank you, I don't wanna. No amount of peer pressuring or encouraging or shaming will sway my resolve. I know myself. Please, by all means, run, spin, funnel beer, bungee jump, knit, do crossfit, drive go-carts, and ski until your hearts are content. Enjoy! I am thrilled not to be joining you.

This has come up many times for me, but most recently as I've been reading several books about personality types. I've written about this before because it fascinates me. My husband and kids have all been "typed," and I often encourage people I know to take the tests as well so I can know them better via their types.

As I was listening to Anne Bogel*'s new book Reading People, a point she made really resonated with me. For personality assessments to work, people need to answer honestly. Seems like a no-brainer. However, when some people take these tests, their answers reflect who they aspire to be rather than who they actually are. Makes sense, right? If you answer questions with the reaction you'd hope to have rather than the reaction you'd actually have, your result will indicate who you want to be instead of who you actually are.

Circling back to comfort zones and stepping out of and staying in them, sometimes, I'm too quick to try to stretch outside my comfort zone. I'm an INFJ and a highly sensitive person, so if I put myself in a position of having too much interaction or stimulation, I will be M I S E R A B L E. People rely on me and need me not to be miserable. One of those people, my Lily bear, is also highly sensitive person but a capital E extrovert. I'm sensitive to noises; she's sensitive to lines in her socks. I need quiet, she crawls out of her skin without noise. I prefer relaxing in the same room together reading separate books and not talking; she prefers watching and discussing reality tv while eating skittles and playing on our phones.

It's conflict in the making, but we manage to work it out. It can't always be loud and it can't always be quiet. Knowing yourself better allows you to make better choices to take care of your own sanity. Sometimes we watch tv; sometimes we read.

Such is life, and love, and family...choosing when to step out, when to stay in, and dealing with the consequences of our choice. Sticking with those that bring joy, and adjusting to make better ones the next time. Sometimes, it's super important to step outside your comfort zone. And sometimes the only thing you find outside of your comfort zone is discomfort. It's wonderful to want to improve yourself, but it's also wonderful to be okay with who you already are.

Everything in moderation...even moderation. -Oscar Wilde
If you love personality tests, please let me know! I would love to talk about it with you!


*Anne is Modern Mrs. Darcy and also hosts the wonderful podcast "What Should I Read Next?"

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Good Enough.

I went to see Stevie Nicks on Friday with my daughter. It was an incredible show, and Stevie Nicks is a GODDESS. But that's not what this is about. In order to see Ms. Nicks--whom I have adored for my entire life--from the vantage point of the nosebleed seats, I tried to make everything perfect. My hair, my outfit, the day, the experience ... my nails.

I have a love/hate relationship with my nails. When I was young, I wanted them to be long, and they refused to grow. Now, I feel like I'm constantly cutting them off because they grow with wild abandon, and I prefer them short. On Friday, they were long-ish, so I decided to paint them. Pink with gold sparkly tips because it was the 24 Karat Gold tour. I'm that guy. I own it.

It took me about 7 1/2 hours to paint them. They were perfect for about 15 seconds before I messed them up. Is it just me or does your bladder immediately realize it's uncomfortably full as soon as you finish painting your nails?

Anyway...Here is something you may or may not know about me: I used to like things to be perfect. You probably would not know that because I am mostly kind of a mess. I never achieve anything close to perfect and have gotten quite good at embracing the good enough, but I did like perfect.

My 20-year-old stomach was PERFECT until fetal Chloe decided she would need to be cut out. My car was PERFECT until I misjudged the distance of a drive through pole. My floor was PERFECT until someone (who remains unidentified) put a bunch of scratches in it. My bed was PERFECT until my little puppy girl chewed the corners. I could go on and on ... and on. But you get it.

Years ago, I read Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and in it the author describes a Buddhist teaching regarding impermanence. Everything--including us--has a beginning and an end and will experience changes along the way. Some changes can be perceived as less than favorable, but it's just a perception.

This idea reminds me of Leonard Cohen's Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything  
That's how the light gets in.

When we realize that things (and people) -- nails, cars, beds, floors, ourselves -- won't ever be perfect, then we can accept and even love them as they are. I love my imperfect stomach and bed. I am good with good enough. Full disclosure: The floor still pisses me off a little bit, and I mentally kick myself sometimes when I see the dent in my car. 

And as for myself...I try really hard in every moment to be kind and loving. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I tell people to fuck off. 

I start every morning praying, meditating, writing a love letter to my husband and trying to pour goodness and love into my kids. Sometimes, before 5:15 a.m. I've called someone an asshole. Like my 18-year-old cat, who just strolled into my yoga room and peed on my rug. That's a dick move.

My daughter wrote a blog one time entitled, "Perfection, Rejection & Other Words That Are Dumb." I highly recommend all of her writing, but this one today. In it she quotes John Steinbeck: 

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.”

That's powerful. It goes along with another of my favorites from Gretchen Rubin: Don't let perfect be the enemy of good.

I am not perfect. I no longer try to be. And from that vantage point, I see that no one who matters expects me to be. They accept my flawed, scarred, good enough self.

My sweet friends, if you are trying to be perfect and beating yourselves up for falling short? I see you. I feel you. Give yourself some grace. You are good and kind and loving. You're doing an amazing job at being your husband's wife, your kids' mom, your friends' being exactly who you are. 


Friday, September 15, 2017

Who Do You Think You Are?

A few weeks ago I finished a draft of a book that I have been writing for a long time. I started writing it several years ago and in a computer catastrophe lost 39,000 words. It took me a long time to try to again, but finally I started. Bird by bird ... word by word, because I had to tell this story. My story. I already tell it in everything I do and everything I am. I tell it in how I love my husband and parent my children. I tell it in how I eat and sleep and dress and speak and drink. I tell it in the way my stomach knots up every time a phone rings. And I tell it in the sweat on my palms every time Brad's plane lands 30 seconds late or Chloe takes too long to text me back or Peyton hasn't gotten home by 3:00 or Lily's bus is 4 minutes late. I tell it in that sense of impending dread...waiting for the bottom to fall out of my dreams.

But shit gets in the way of telling this story that's so obviously mine. There are other people and feelings and opinions and families, but even before them, there's me. I had to admit that I am a writer. Not that I write, but I am a writer. There's a difference. It's a gift or a curse, depending on the day.

I don't choose to write; I have to. I write on little scraps of paper and in (multiple) notes apps and two blogs and 47 journals and 32 titled and untitled Word documents. When I'm driving I tell Siri to write shit down for me and then try to decipher it later--often to no avail. Two minutes ago, Brad came into my new yoga/writing room (which is Lily's old bedroom with a chair, yoga mat, some plants, a laptop and a bunch of big ideas) and said, "Baby, why are you writing now? We have so much to do." Because. I. Have. To. The words in my head won't give me any peace until I liberate them. Maybe I'm not actually a writer but a schizophrenic? Maybe it is the same thing viewed from different perspectives.

I recently walked past a house I see when I walk a certain path. It was a broken down purple house, but I always liked it. Now it was completely renovated: New paint, new door, completely new look. I told Lily that night, "You should see the purple house. Someone fixed it up, and it's beautiful." She didn't look up from her slime before muttering, "Yeah, I saw it." Shocked by her lack of enthusiasm, I pressed, "Don't you think it looks nice?" Shrugging her shoulders she said, "I guess. But it was unique before. Now it just looks like every other house in Cortland." Wow. This is the same kid who saw a field of beautiful flowers where we saw a million. freaking. dandelions. "Why would you kill them, Daddy??" She's something else.

Perspective. So, I finish the shitty first draft and send it to a few people who I trust with my heart. Because that is what it feels like to release your words out into the world. Here's my heart. Do you like it? Please don't stomp on it. And the first little bits of feedback from these people I love so much feel like ...

You know ... yummy things that make you feel like you're just going to melt right into a puddle. You like it? You think it's good? Really?

But the puddle phase is short-lived. Because I reform back to a person and resume editing and criticizing and second-guessing and re-writing and, "Who are you to"-ing. Sometimes it feels like if I say all the mean stuff to myself, it will hurt less when someone else says it. Of course that's not true. Yesterday, when I shared all of this anxiety with one of my soul sisters, she said, "Whatever fear tells you you can't do? That's exactly what you need to do."

So today, my bitchy inner critic shows up to say, "Who are you to write a memoir?"

Well...Who the fuck am I not to?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Stay in Your Lane

Sometimes I get sidetracked. It's easy to lose a minute--or hour--scrolling through beautiful social media lives instead of digging into my own messy life. Especially when it involves painting. I'll find 99 reasons to avoid finishing my painting projects. True story: My friend lives in a house that is 10 times the size of mine, and she is painting all her trim. More freaking trim than you can imagine. She is Wonder Woman, but I could finish painting the trim in a short period of time if I just stopped avoiding painting the damn trim.

Sometimes while scrolling, I get caught up in comparison. Wow, not a neck wrinkle on that one. Jeeze, she looks incredible. Another vacation? Nice. And of course: How is everyone else's pool water so stinking clear??? 

Side note: Since I posted about that? Our pool water has been A M A Z I N G. Knock on wood. 

But you know what I mean. I don't begrudge people good fortune. I'm genuinely happy for people. I just beat mySELF up: 

Wow, not a neck wrinkle on that one. Maybe if you hadn't smoked for 20 years...
Jeeze, she looks incredible. Well drink a shake or pick up a weight once in awhile...
Another vacation? Get a one that pays you regularly...

My inner critic cuts deep and hits below the belt. She's a nasty, awful, dirty fighter; good grief. Sometimes, I'm in no mood for her and just immediately say, "All right, fuck off." But too often, I let her words break me down a little bit before I can shut her up. 

Here's the thing: I love my life. I don't want to switch places with anyone even if they do have a smooth neck or a flat stomach or a fatter bank account. So when that inner critic starts to beat me up, I remind myself how grateful I am for my imperfect body and wonderfully happy life. 

My friends--who are batshit crazy like me--and I have adopted a mantra to help us stay focused: Stay in your lane.

It started out as a way to jokingly invite people out of our business, but we quickly realized it applied to us as well. Because when something irritates you about someone else, you definitely need to dig deep and see what button it's pushing in you and why. 

So...I'm writing a book. Someone else just got a book deal. Do I let myself feel discouraged and stop writing? Nope, I stay in my lane. A bunch of friends got together and didn't invite you. That's okay. Stay in your lane. Someone else's kid is way ahead of your kid in sports or academics or whatever. No worries. Your kid will find his or her thing. Stay. In. Your. Lane. Your friend's husband got her a fabulous anniversary gift. That's so incredible for her. Stay in YOUR lane. 

There is a limitless amount of goodness in this world. The universe wants to bless us, we just need to accept it. Someone else getting something great doesn't mean there's less for you. And when you mess up, it's okay. Tell your inner critic to fuck off and move on. You don't wake up one day and have it all together. As Glennon Doyle says, "Just do the next right thing one thing at a time." 

So tell me if you try this and how it works for you. Sometimes, as my girlfriend reminded me last week, we're all over the road. It's okay, don't swerve, just gently adjust and get back in your lane. Focus on your path and your passengers. It's a much more peaceful journey. 


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sometimes, I drink too much...

Oprah talks about her spiritual practice of writing down 5 things she's grateful for every day. I always count blessings in my head, but I don't always write them down. Recently, I listened to a podcast that mentioned the effectiveness of making lists. Getting stuff out of your head and onto a piece of paper.

I've always been a big list maker. On paper. On my notes app. On Google keep. My husband coaxes, "Just tell Alexa." But I only see Alexa's list when I open the app. My paper lists I see every time I walk through the kitchen, which is roughly 475,000 times a day.

Then I usually remember to buy coffee, cheese, dishwasher soap ... to take the recycling, proofread, make doctor appointments.

For the past few months, I've been making gratitude lists. It's a great addition to my spiritual practice and naturally has had unexpected additional benefits. For instance, I see every day what makes me thrive and can focus on guiding my energy in that direction and avoid getting pulled down draining rabbit holes.

But it's also made me see areas that need attention.

This is so uncomfortable for me to write about, which makes me feel certain that it's exactly what I need to do.

Sometimes, I drink too much.

I don't think I'm an alcoholic. Most alcoholics would agree, right? Denial. If I'm being completely honest, many standard tests would say I'm an alcoholic even if I can't say that.

I say: Sometimes, I drink too much.

I don't drink and drive. I don't neglect my kids. I don't usually fight with people or become belligerent. But sometimes Lily tells me things I don't remember doing or saying.

I don't shake from withdrawal. I don't wake up "needing a drink." I don't hide my drinking. But sometimes, I wake up and don't remember how the evening ended or how I got to bed.

I don't drink every day. Sometimes, I have just one or two drinks. I don't drink to forget, but sometimes I forget because I drink.

I don't obsess about drinking or schedule my life around it, but sometimes I wake up filled with guilt and shame and text my friends to apologize for whatever I might have done that I don't remember doing.

More and more, this eats at me: Sometimes, I drink too much.

Here's the thing: Alcohol is part of our culture, and I'm afraid of what I'll lose by not drinking. Can I still go to girls' nights if I don't drink? What will I do in the hot tub at night, while Brad drinks whiskey and smokes a cigar? Can I sit by the pool and not enjoy Landsharks? Do I want to? Can I go to a paint and sip and not...sip?

This is hard for me to write. I feel incredibly ashamed of drinking too much. I feel really vulnerable admitting these things. I'm scared knowing that lots of people will judge the shit out of me. My hands are shaking as I prepare to hit the publish button.

And yet ... it's just one life we get. I know what I want to do with mine. Be authentic. Love wholeheartedly. Tell the truth...even when it's scary and painful.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Crescent Moons and Critical Morons

A few times a month, we make a very early morning drive to the airport for my husband to fly to his work destination for the week. Sometimes it's so early that I feel nauseated (my body rejects being forced to function at such an early hour.) A few times, I've felt anxious that I might fall asleep driving home, so I listen to lively podcasts and keep my windows down or air cranked up--I don't feel as sleepy when I'm cold.

This week, however, it wasn't hard to stay awake because for my entire drive, I had a stunning view of the waning crescent moon and Venus. It was breathtaking. I wanted send Brad--who worries about my safety when I'm driving home alone in the wee hours of the morning--a picture. I won't drive and take pictures so when I stopped at a light, I tried to capture my amazing view. Of course, it looked nothing like what I was observing. Remember when people tried to take iphone pics of the super moon? Pretty much.

I wanted to share it with him, but I couldn't make him see what I saw.

That happens to me a lot. What about you? Do you ever want people to get your point, but they don't? Want to make someone understand you, but they can't. I really try to support and encourage other people, so when they don't reciprocate, I sometimes feel hurt and disappointed.

For years when people asked me what I did, it caused a lot of turmoil. If I say, "I'm a writer," people often respond, "Oh you mean your blog? Do you actually get paid to write?" That's awkward. Think: "Oh, you're just a mom." When I say, "I'm an editor," that sounds more legit, and no one really questions it mainly because most people don't know what an editor does. Brad has an impressive job title. No one asks him if he gets paid to do his job. Truthfully, I write and edit. I get paid for some of the stuff I write and edit. Not that it's anyone's business, but let's just clear that up.

It's uncomfortable to do something that isn't mainstream, but I've always danced to the beat of my own drum. Occasionally, it just feels cool for other people to hear the beat too instead of looking at me like, "What is she doing?" But it's all good. I hear it and keep on grooving.

Too often, I see people posting about whatever dream they're passionately pursuing, and some person will make a shitty comment. Who are you to start a business? Who are you to move to different country? Who are you to quit your stable job to make jewelry? Who are you to write a book? You get it. Well, who are you not to? It pisses me off, and I want to encourage them not to let these people slow their progress.

Sometimes other people feel threatened when we follow our dreams. Follow them anyway. When people mock or criticize you, it's not about you, it's about them. No one who is legitimately happy, doing what they love, and living their best life has any desire to piss on someone else's dreams. It doesn't happen.

In church, you hear about the great heroes of the Bible who were alcoholics, thieves, prostitutes and murderers who followed their dream. "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." What makes those people different? They didn't worry about what anyone thought or said, they trusted God and went for it.

Gretchen Rubin tells a story in her podcast about advice she heard in college. “Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” That can look like putting yourself out there even if it means opening yourself up to criticism. It means doing everything in your power to turn that dream burning in your soul into reality. 

I think often about the poet Mary Oliver's words:

I don't plan to abandon my dreams because of what other people think. Even if no one else can see your magnificent view, focus on it; the moon will guide you home.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Being All There...

A few weeks ago I read this quote: Wherever you are, be all there. It resonated with me, growing, changing, aging, life passing quickly. Immediately I decided I need to be more fully engaged. And of course, eliminating things is the quickest way to add space.

Being still and engaged is sometimes challenging for my naturally multi-tasking self. I like to accomplish things. Check stuff off my to-do list. I even listen to audio books because although I love love love to read, sitting and reading feels unproductive and indulgent sometimes. However, I can do laundry, clean, walk, make dinner, and many other "productive" things while listening to a book.

Anyway, kicking these ideas around, I came up with a sure-fire way to be more engaged: Put my phone down. Once, I downloaded an app that tracks the time you spend on your phone and breaks it into categories. I knew I wasted time, but actually seeing those hours I gave away and could never get back was pretty alarming.

At the time, I deleted a bunch of apps, but slowly, things crept back to the point that I was spending more time looking at my phone than at people. So, I deleted Gardenscapes, my mindless escape, because, when you're really trying to practice mindfulness you don't need mindless escapes. And then twitter, Facebook, and a few more. The ones that drew me to click on them when my mind was free for a moment. I need those free moments.

I downloaded an app that a friend recommended for keeping notes as I am a compulsive note taker. Anne Lamott said writers should always have a pen and paper to jot down good ideas. I do. I also scrawl notes in my phone's notes app. Often while driving I tell Siri to take notes that upon later examination are usually unintelligible gobbledygook versions of whatever brilliance I tried to capture. But, I love to be organized so I have high hopes for this app.

I observed that I feel better when I don't look at my phone so much. Duh. A few years ago I realized that I always feel better when I do yoga, meditate, and walk. All three every day. Even when I can only squeeze in 5 minutes of each--as Gretchen Rubin says, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good"--those few minutes are priceless for my sanity. Knowing that, I make those things a priority.

For the past week, I might have missed out on some people's online lives, but I felt much more plugged into my own real life so I'll keep on keeping on. What tips do you have for being present? Do you have any apps that you love or any that drain you?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sweating, Swearing, and finally Sunshine

Yesterday, I went to a funeral for an amazing woman. She was one of my mom's best friends for more than 40 years and had the most wonderful zest for life. She laughed and sang and danced through life. She left messages for my mom saying, "CIAO!!!" and sent her birthday cards every year reminding her that she was just a little bit younger. They're both 85. My heart aches for her family because she was, as her son eloquently eulogized, like sunshine.

When witnessing a life-altering transition, I try to focus on presence. Life is temporary. People are temporary. We have a short time to do whatever it is we're going to do, so we'd best not squander it.

Also, yesterday, I saw a friend's adorable pictures of a kindergarten field trip with her little boy. It tugged at my heart because I remembered the same trip with my little boy. The not-so-little-anymore boy who finishes his junior year of high school next week and will--in just over a year--leave for college.

It was a lot of feelings for one day, especially after getting up before 4 a.m., so full disclosure: I got the kids pizza for dinner and played Gardenscapes for the rest of the evening giving zero fucks what anyone thought because adulting felt like too much.

Today, after a full night's sleep, I've realized a few things. I want to be sunshine for my family, and in order to do that, I need to let go of stuff. Maybe not as much as I once needed to let go of, but still some.

I've been trying to shed a few pounds before summer anyway, so why not let go of some emotional weight as well, right? Here are a few things I'm letting go of:

Worrying what other people think. This is a multi-faceted issue, but here's a brief example: It was book fair day at the middle school, and Lily called needing $12 for a book. Ughhhh, this is at least the second book fair of the year. Lily never reads the books. I said no. Instantly, I had a pang of, "Should I take her money? Will people think I am a bad mom?" I quickly realized this "What will people think" refrain in my brain doesn't belong to me. It is not even my thoughts. I don't care; I've been conditioned to believe I should.

So I let it go. I struggle with this a lot, but letting go of one small thing at a time is freeing.

Policing what I eat. Fuck. It's exhausting to wake up every morning guilt-ridden as I replay in my mind everything I ate the day before. Again, this is not something I came up with on my own, it's words that were instilled in me and still bang around in my head. But last night, I ate pizza for dinner. I drank a glass of wine--just one because I was so tired. And I didn't beat myself up. This morning, I'm going to meet my friend for coffee, and I already know I'm going to have a doughnut. Because...Nova. And I am not going to feel guilty about it.

My favorite writer, Anne Lamott, tells a story about shopping with her friend Pammy--who's dying of cancer--for something to wear on a date. She tries on a dress that fits her perfectly but is more revealing than her usual style. Shyly modeling it, she asks, "Do you think this makes my hips look big?" Pammy quietly replies, "Annie, I don't really think you have that kind of time."

We sure don't have that kind of time.

After thinking--and crying--about growing old and kids growing up and how fleeting life is, I don't want to spend one more second letting stupid shit steal my joy. I want to spend more time counting blessings and less time counting calories. I want to wear what I want without thinking, "Is this too young? Will people think I'm trying to be someone I'm not?" I want to let go of caring who people think I am and just BE who I am. And mostly, I want to bring love, kindness, compassion and a little more sunshine to every person I encounter.

Tell me...what are you sweating that you want to let go?


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Big Fat Heaping Spoonful of Self-Awareness

Lately I've been overthinking more than usual about a couple situations. In fact, I've been ruminating. I know they're synonyms, but ruminating feels darker to me. More destructive. "Overthinking" can and often does bring me to a solution whereas ruminating keeps me stuck on a merry-go-round revolving nauseatingly around a situation that's completely out of my control.

Follow me down this rabbit hole, if you will. I am a highly sensitive person. I will beat myself up for days if I think I've said or done something unkind. I'll lose sleep over possibly offending someone. Countless times, I've texted my girlfriends to apologize for something I did or said. Countless times, they've said that my behavior was not offensive. Granted, I'm outrageously blessed to have a tribe of absolutely A M A Z I N G women, but they will tell you if you're out of line...lovingly.  

Given this trait, I sometimes project onto others and think they--though usually not as sensitive (holla atcha girl, INFJ's)--have a basic understanding of the fact that other people do in fact have feelings. Consequently, when people do jerky things, I sometimes take it personally.

Hello, Darkness, my old friend.

Now, after worshiping at Brené Brown's feet for years and reading The Four Agreements about 16,000 times, my reaction tends toward moderate irritation followed by analysis of motivation. HINT: It's not about me. Or you. Ever. 

I try to be particularly sensitive to the space I take up in the world. I try to bring good energy and kindness. I try not to be a jerk. Sure, I mess up. I usually apologize. Sometimes, I over-apologize. I'll accept blame to avoid a conflict; I'd rather be happy than right and all that jazz.

Side note: Have any of you read Gary Chapman's book about The Five Languages of Apology? I just heard about it on Gretchen Rubin's podcast Happier, and I can't wait to read it. 

It's taking a really long time to get to the point--I warned you it was a rabbit hole. 

We've all witnessed the: "I'm sorry if you were offended," mentality; right? And I know: People are so easily offended about lots of inane stuff. That's often true. But I'm talking about people being dicks, not apologizing for being a dick, and then insinuating there's something wrong with you for being hurt by their behavior.

So, I started to write about how lack of self-awareness drives me crazy. However, I immediately countered every example with: Well, I do or did or have done that. But instead of disproving my original point, it brought me to another point--No, I still haven't made it. Good God. 

When we're aware of ourselves, we can be aware of others. When I acknowledge my own bad behavior, I can look at someone else's from a different perspective. When I realize that on any given day, I can be a dick, then I can stop taking other people's shit personally. I can give them space to be human. And maybe, someday, I'll even be able to give myself a little grace to make a mistake. 

In the meantime, it's enough to remember, we don't get to choose how others treat us, but we do get to choose our reaction. Every time. And this time, I'm choosing grace. Grace for you. Grace for me. Namaste. And please don't be a dick. 


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

It Takes A Village

Yesterday morning, as we waited for the middle school bus giggling at our silly puppy, who was alternately barking at birds and chewing sticks, a police cruiser pulled in our driveway to ask us if we’d seen the 12-year-old girl down the street. “She’s gone missing,” the officer said a little loudly so we could hear him over Ruby’s barking.

The little girl down the street. Two years older than my own little girl. Gone missing. From our quiet little rural street.

I didn’t even know her name. Lily did. She knew quite a bit about her. But we barely got to speak about it before the bus came and took my little girl to school. The bus driver stopped a few houses down, but that little girl didn’t get on the bus.

Earlier that morning, my friend posted a scary article about an app——that lots of kids use and evidently, as happens now, sexual predators use to target little girls. Like mine. And her friends. My friends’ little girls. And maybe the one down the street.

I'm loathe to admit: I don’t police my daughter’s phone as much as I should; every few weeks or so I look through her texts and Instagram messages. Often I find stuff that makes me uncomfortable. Talking to or about boys. Messaging people—kids—I don’t know. Girl drama.
We have a big talk about it. I tell her that if it’s not something she would feel comfortable with me reading than it’s not something she should be typing. She says she knows and won’t do it again. And then she does.

Yesterday changed that.

When I was about her age, I developed a crush on one of my older brother’s friends. I used to write him love notes. Years later, my brother told me they would read them and laugh when they were drunk. That seems so tame compared to what kids do today. But even as a grown woman, thinking about that makes me kind of sick with shame and embarrassment. Side note: I am adult friends with that person, and he’s a great guy, husband, and father. Still, I wish that someone would have sat down with me and had a conversation like I had with Lily yesterday.

It went kind of like this:

Honey, I took your phone, and you aren’t getting it back for a while. I’m not mad at you and you aren’t in trouble, but I don’t think that you are mature or responsible enough to have a phone and access to all the apps you do.
She nodded a little and asked, “Why?”
Lots of reasons. For one: It’s too easy to fire off a text or comment in the heat of the moment that could hurt a friend deeply. God knows, I’ve done that myself, and I’m much older and should know better. It’s just too easy to type words that you can’t take back.I see how group messages can too often result in miscommunication and hurt feelings and other divisive situations. I love you and your friends too much to let that happen.
Head nodding, eyes down.
You are too young to be talking with boys. That’s it. I understand that other kids do it. I understand that you are intrigued with love and the idea of it. I remember feeling just like that. Most every little girl your age does. You will have plenty of time for grown up things like love and relationships, but right now you’re just not mature enough to have any kind of relationship other than friendships with boys.
I was driving so I didn’t see her reaction to this. I asked if she understood and she said yes.
I know that these apps are lots of fun, unfortunately, there are very bad people who use them to target children ... little girls just like you.*
Even though we have discussed lots of times how you should never talk to someone you don’t know or respond to messages, I’m not 100% confident that you would make the right decision in that situation. Making the wrong decision could cost you your life, and the only way I can protect you from that is to remove these potential threats.
It may seem mean or harsh. You might feel like you’re the only kid who doesn’t have a phone or Instagram or snapchat or whatever, and I’m sorry. I am not punishing you or trying to make you feel left out, but I love you too much to risk anything happening to you. I love you more than you can even imagine loving anyone or anything. I know that you don't think I'm cool or smart, but you can talk to me about anything. I mean a-n-y-thing. Ask Sissy. 
She understood. She wasn’t mad. She didn’t cry or complain or say she hated me or I was a bad mom—all of which I was prepared for. I told her that when we were together I would put my phone down too and just be with her.

I didn’t yell or criticize or condemn. I didn’t raise my voice. I tried to be the mom that I think I would have wanted when I was 10 and struggling to make sense of the world and my place in it.

And it was so. fucking. hard. It was emotionally draining and my head was spinning and my heart ached but my gut felt just right. At least for a few minutes.

My friends have given me valuable advice about this situation, and I’m grateful for a tribe of bad ass women, their wisdom and willingness to share it. We’ve got to stick together, mamas. Build each other and our kids up.

The little girl down the street was found and returned home safely. Thank God.

*We had a very frank discussion about the fact that bad people exist who buy little girls and that other bad people exist who sell them and the horrific things that can happen. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Let's All Be Drunk Girls in Bathrooms

I made it through February with no dreams about my brother or dad, no complete mental breakdowns, and lots of hawk sightings. I read some really good books as well as a couple that were just okay and a few that were meh. Since I now give myself permission to stop reading books that I don't like, even those didn't waste too much of my time. The one that was really good--The Middle Place, a memoir by Kelly Corrigan--made me miss my dad terribly.

Like I said before, I miss lots of things about him, but I really miss feeling cherished. It sounds selfish and more than a little childish, I know. I'm grateful to be surrounded by wonderful friends and family. My grown daughter is my best friend, and my husband is literally the most amazing man I have ever met. I'm not hosting a pity party ... Just wondering: What makes people feel cherished? Can I make others feel cherished? Is it something you can work on? Can you improve your ability to cherish?

You didn't just meet me. You know I'm going to try. 

Where to start? Every time I walked into my parents' house, my dad complimented something. "Oh your hair looks so nice today! Is that a new top? Wow, those boots are really snazzy!" Many times a day, I have those same thoughts about people. Her nails are pretty. I like that shirt. What a cute outfit. So that's a good place to start: Never pass up the opportunity to say something kind. Compliment people every chance you get.

That said, I'm ashamed to admit that too often I do better at this with strangers and acquaintances than I do with my own people. So, step two seems to be: Treat strangers like friends and family like strangers. Go out of my way to say kind things to my family too. Mix a few niceties in with the: Stop arguing, clean up your mess, put your water bottles in the recycling bin, and more. 

When I thought about it, I could not remember the last time I told Peyton how great he was doing in his college classes. At 16. And when was the last time I told Lily how perfect her curls were or how hard she works at gymnastics? Some days I say nicer things to the dog than I do to my kids. Guess what they won't miss...

That guided me to the next logical step: Pay Attention. Look past the daily nonsense and focus on the blessings. Yes, Lily has stripped most of the finish off the kitchen table making slime, but she is hanging out with me in the kitchen doing something creative. Peyton has 42 empty water bottles on his floor, but at 16, he is usually home, in his room, drinking water. It's easier to be overwhelmingly grateful for Chloe, who is being her fabulous little self and not making a mess in my house every day.

And finally...cast a wide net. Since I'm basically a hermit, the only people I regularly interact with in person are my husband and kids, but I "see" lots of people on social media every day. It's so simple to like a picture or make a nice comment. Why wouldn't we do that? 

The thing about spreading kindness is it's addictive. It feels good to make other people feel good. I think and write and talk so much about female relationships. Mommy wars, and mother-daughter feuds, and mean girls. I can't grasp why women can get so caught up in comparison and competitiveness, jealousy and judgement. In this abundant universe, there's more than enough success and love for everyone. 

If you're reading this? I am so grateful for you. This blog, writing, is my way of connecting to people, of reaching out and inviting people into my head hoping that they'll "get" me, I suppose. Thank you for the gift of your time. I cherish you!

For daily encouragement, or a safe 
place to vent, please visit me on Facebook

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I'm Sorry. You Don't Have to Forgive Me.

I just listened to a conversation between two of my favorite writers: Brene Brown and Harriet Lerner about the power of apologizing. They told a parable of a king and his son who had a falling out. In the story, the king sends word to his son, "Return as far as you can, and I will come the rest of the way to meet you." Isn't that powerful? It made me think of my dad, who has been gone 6 years yesterday. I miss sitting on his lap and telling him all the shit that bangs around in my head. I miss him telling me how smart and pretty I am. I miss being cherished ... but I'm grateful for having been cherished.

Phew, this isn't about my dad. So back to that conversation, Brene says it's our duty to apologize. I agree. I've gotten quite adept at apologizing--mostly because I'm pretty adept at fucking things up. I have a smart mouth and a quick temper and have been guilty more times than I care to count of hurting people's feelings with my sometimes-cutting words. I always regret being unkind. I would much rather save a relationship than be right. Still, sometimes the words come out before the brain and heart have a chance to temper them. I'm sorry.

Here's the thing though: While it's on us to apologize, it's not the other person's duty to forgive us. When we apologize, we can't do so with expectations. I'm not good at this. Not at all. In fact, I SUUUUCCCCKKK at this. If someone apologizes to me, I will accept it and them with open arms. Consequently I have grown to expect this in return. Because I'm a little--lot--bit idealistic. But that's not fair; is it?

Have you heard of the concept of Ho'oponopono? It's an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness involving 4 simple concepts and phrases:

Repentence: I'm sorry.
Forgiveness: Please forgive me.
Gratitude: Thank you.
Love: I love you.

We can use it to heal a multitude of transgressions and old wounds in ourselves. Additionally it's a very simple way to seek healing in relationships. But we can only reach out; we can't expect others to welcome us with open arms, or reach back or anything else for that matter. No expectations.

Oh look. It's another four things. Just like The Four Agreements, which I still am doing my best to live by. Maybe this year, SINCE I'M 44, I'll do better with my 4's.

In the middle of writing this blog, I got a phone call from one of my best friends. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about writing and she said, "It's so funny, when I talk to you about your writing it's like you're in labor, but when I read it, it's like you're running down the beach with a kite." Perspectives. This one, I bet, is like labor for all of us. Ugh.

What are you giving up for Lent, if you practice that? I'm going to give up saying mean things to people. Including myself. Starting...........Now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Pussycat Dolls are My Spiritual Masters

I'm right in the middle of a 31-day yoga challenge. You know, I love challenges. 21 days of meditation. 21 days of clean eating. 30 days of planks. 30 days of squats. The Daniel Fast. I mean you can do anything when the expiration date looms within reach, right? Well, I can anyway.

It might be related to my personality type, or I might think that because I'm a personality quiz junkie. Additionally, I'm obsessed with podcasts, so when Gretchen Rubin recently did a podcast about personality quizzes it was A M A Z I N G. You can listen to it here. If you're into that kind of thing: I'm an INFJ, an obliger, a 4 on the enneagram--very cool because my favorite number is 4 and in a week, I'm going to be 44, so 2017 is going to be a phenomenal year. I also love other quizzes. My spirit animal is a hawk, my patronus is a manx cat, my celebrity crush is Johnny Depp, The Princess and the Pea is my life in a fairy tale, and Say Anything is my life in an 80's movie. I am going to stop because I hear one particular friend saying, "I can't with you right now."

Might have gotten a bit off course, shockingly. My original point was that sometimes I have trouble sticking with things. Except my husband. Imma stickwitu forever, baby. A few years ago, during the whole pick-a-word-to-describe-your-year/life/goal/focus, I chose "persevere." I should have tattooed it somewhere on my body like I do with important words because by Valentine's day, I'd forgotten both the word and what it represented. Oh, right. This year I was supposed to ... Oh hi, pretty kitty. Work. In. Progress.

But during the yoga challenge, one phrase loops: Stay on Your Mat. Stay on your mat. stay on your mat. stayonyourmat. In Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton describes wrestling with personal issues and a yoga teacher advising her to stay on her mat. I always try to hold space for my own and others' feelings, but it's often the opposite of what I really want to do.

Usually, I want the feelings go away. Make them go away. I want to eat or drink or read or write or otherwise distract myself from unpleasantness. I fight the urge to joke or laugh or hug or comfort or shield the people I love from their pain even when I know I should just BE with them. My mom always tried to make me laugh when I was sad. She would tell my children jokes to stop their tears. She was trying to help. No one wants people they love--especially their children--to feel sad. But avoiding our feelings is more harmful than helpful.

The truth is, if we ignore them, the feelings will return demanding our attention. Consider how shit from childhood crops up with your own kids. Insert whatever your kid does that causes a disproportionately crazy reaction. When my kids' normal kid behavior brings me to the verge of a mental breakdown, there are deeper things at work in my psyche.

Since this is really important for me and I felt like it might help someone else too, I started a website dedicated simply to "staying on the mat" with people as they struggle with hard feelings. I would love it if you would check it out and share if you're so inclined.

While writing this I got really cold and discovered that my furnace stopped working at some point. So today, I'm grateful the mat I'm trying to stay on is in front the fireplace. Thanks for sticking it out with me.


P.S. That's Ruby in puppy pose. She brings kisses, comedy, and an occasional bone to the mat. Here's to yoga with puppies!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Parades, Fireworks, Stella, and Blue Water

So Gretchen Rubin is one of my favorite guru/writer/life coach/spiritual master/mentors. You know her from The Happiness Project, Better Than Before and the podcast Happier that I'm always talking about--or sending you ;)

She's always talking about her "Secrets of Adulthood," and encouraging readers and listeners to write their own manifestos and personal commandments. Here's a link to her instructions.

I decided in 2017 instead of more resolutions, I'd consider my own Personal Commandments:

  1. Do what makes you happy. Everyone benefits when I take time to do things that me happy: Yoga, meditating, going for a walk, listening to podcasts, writing. These things fill me up and make me feel alive. And then I don't feel anxious or hesitant about giving. I don't withdraw from contact--physical or emotional. Be mindful of this. If I pull away from hugs, touches, and requests for my time or attention, then I need to spend a few minutes taking better care of myself.
  2. Step outside your comfort zone. Just because I've never been a "hat person" doesn't mean I can't decide to start wearing hats. Although I have never enjoyed large groups of people, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy spending time with groups of people. Just because I never wrote a book, did a podcast, started a website...
  3. I'm good. At this point in my life, I know what works and a few things that are never going to work for me: running, hard core workouts, most crafts, building things, to name a few. I'm not going to become a runner. Ever. I will come watch you run a 5k, but I don't want to be part of it. Believe me, I admire you for doing it, and I am equally comfortable with my decision not to do it.
  4. Be an expert but let others be experts too. I wrote about this before. I know what I'm good at. I know what I aspire to and think I can become good. I also recognize areas that will never be my forte. Fortunately, I know other people who excel in areas where I do not. Bottom line: I am perfectly comfortable buying things on Etsy even if they would be "so easy to make."
  5. Fill your own love tank. It's far too much pressure to put on another person to make you feel loved and valued. Side note: When you don't love and accept yourself, no one else's adoration will ever make you feel whole. Experiences fill me up. Not tropical vacations necessarily--although those definitely work--but spending two hours laughing on the phone with my friend while she travels across the country. Doing yoga in front of the fire with lovely oils diffusing into my space. Cooking a fabulous meal, drinking a Stella, and listening to the music of Hamilton
  6. Love without strings attached. This is hard, but I'm still working on it. I have really high expectations for myself and that often spills over onto everyone around me. I love fireworks and parades. I get really excited about little things. I might want that in return. Example: Brad says, "Baby, you want a  coffee?" And I am: 
    Other people don't react that way. That is OKAY. Love for the act of loving. Give for the blessing of giving. And don't let expectations suck the joy out of the experience. 
  7. Invest in experiences not stuff. Pretty self-explanatory. Stuff gets old, dusty, breaks, goes out of style...experiences stay with you forever. Every year or so we get to visit our friend's house in Key Largo. We get in a boat and cruise through the mangroves out into the ocean. In just a few minutes--maybe two beers--the water changes from deep turquoise to the most amazing shade of aqua. Every single time I see that water, my breath catches at the beauty. I feel overwhelmingly grateful and completely humbled to be wrapped in the love of amazing people. You can't buy that shit.
  8. Never hesitate to say something kind. Even if it feels awkward or you're not sure how someone will respond. See 6. In the past, I've hesitated to say things for fear they would sound stupid. Sometimes they do. Here's the thing: If you're saying something kind, it's never stupid. When my dad died, people were so amazing. The texts, facebook messages, cards, emails...I will never forget how those words made me feel. I wrote about it here.
  9. You'll never regret exercise. In the time it takes to talk myself out of exercising or make 50 excuses not to, I can get a pretty good workout in. Not one time have I wished I hadn't exercised. Ssssshhhhhhh ... just do it. 
  10. Spend time outside. That's it. Nature soothes my soul.
  11. Smile. You are loved, loving and lovely. Just the way you are. With everyone's or with no one's approval.
Do you have Personal Commandments or a Manifesto?
That's awesome!!! Please share! I want to see them!!! **Parades and Fireworks**

This post brought to you by Christina Perri's Arms which I listened to 37 times while writing this morning.