Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Easy Blog to Make 60 Posts for 2014.


This is a cheap shot so that I will reach 60 posts for the year!  But I do like what it says.  
Steps I have down pat: #2, #6
Steps with good progress: #1, #3, #5, #7
Steps to really focus on: #4




Namaste.
Blessings to you dear reader.  I look forward to 2015 with you!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Way I Look At Myself in the Mirror

The truth is the mirror has always been a really hard place.  And I NEVER, EVER, NEVER thought it would get any easier.  Yesterday, I read a sentiment of a female looking at an old picture of herself and she wondered how had she thought she was heavy at the time of the picture.

I've done the same thing.  I thought I was heavy in high school, and college, and in my thirties, etc.  And in the past, I have looked at those pictures and thought, wow, if I could only be at that weight now.

I could fly with that weight.

So evidently, in my teens, the body image distortion was already in place and thriving.  Negative thoughts about myself were abundantly flowing.

I have been wanting to really write about body image for 2-3 years now, but something has been holding me back.   I feel like I shouldn't have a voice because my BMI is higher than I would want.  Yet, I have been in groups of thin and average sized women recently and was startled to hear complaints that they are fat, and worried about how their clothes look, and they shouldn't be eating this food, etc.

Body image distortion (and issues with food) are abundant and pervasive.

And I think, "Well, I'm not the only one."  And then my critical self thinks, "Yes, but you do have some weight to lose so you have no right to an opinion." In years past, I felt it was necessary to announce to anyone that would listen, that I knew I needed to lose weight and how I was working on that.  It makes me shudder to think that I thought so little of my self.  The self that an abundantly loving divine presence made.

And Love is the answer after all.

After many diligent years and intentional work of learning to love myself unconditionally, the result has been a shift in my core belief and the thoughts in my head.  

Weight does not equal self worth.  I am not my weight.

Ohhh, I've hit a nerve.  Tears sprang to my eyes when I wrote that.  Coming to this truth has been so hard.  My therapist says body image is one of the issues that takes the longest to heal.    It's a booger.  (smile)  If you look at any media, there it is.  We as women, at every turn, are told we need to lose weight, look younger, defy aging, have larger breasts, etc.  That is one of the reasons I avoid commercials, among other things.

One way that I know that I'm healing my body image is by putting on a form fitting long gown and going out to a formal occasion.  This was a huge step.  I have done it a few times in the last few years and it was uncomfortable each time, I hesitated to go.   Yet at a point during the evening, I think, wow,  I'm having such a great time how can that be?   Even though there's more of me than I would like.  Am I allowed to have fun even though my dress size is double digits?  Am I allowed to have fun even though the local boutiques don't even carry something to fit me? 

Absofuckinloutely.

(Pardon my French, the point just didn't seem the same without the swear word - Thanks Mr. Big!) 

Another way I know I'm healing is my yoga practice.  I have been choosing to go to yoga because my body wants to move.  (or walking, or bike riding, or turning on the music and dancing!)  I have to be very careful about making myself do any particular activity because "I'm supposed to."  As I have worked to diminish the crappy "supposed to" thoughts in my head, I have learned my body tells me pretty much every day that it wants to move.  And I'm hearing it and responding on most days.  And it feels delightful, empowering, joyful and strengthening.  So different than when I did it because I was "supposed to."  It's coming from a much healthier vantage and one that I look forward to instead of dreading.  (And my body will also tell me what food it needs for fuel as I have shed the diet mentality and supposed to's in that area as well.)

While practicing yoga in different studios, there tend to be large mirrors.  Form fitting clothing works best for yoga.  I unconsciously or consciously refrained from going many times because of the fear of the mirror, or what others would think, etc.   Here's the flummoxing part: in practice at a mirrored studio, in my head with my eyes closed, I feel lean and strong.  And then I open my eyes and the mirror does not match what's in my head.  This startled and shocked me the first few times it happened and it still does even now but to a lesser degree.

As my body has wanted to move and I listen, I have been practicing more regularly and moved up to the harder class.  Through this repeated exposure, I've been making friends with my appearance in the mirror.  Slowly, ever so slowly, over time, the thoughts that I'm not enough have been fading and ones that I am enough as I am have been forthcoming. And even with aches and pains here and there in my body, over time, the predominant feeling that has been emerging is one of strength.  The practice of yoga is not only strengthening my body, but my mind and my spirit.  It feels so freaking good to move through the positions, and it feels like a solid flow, as well as shaky, sweaty, catching, breathing hard and muscles aching.   I try poses even for just a few seconds that my head tells me I can't.  I hold that harder position and my body and mind grow.  The I can't begins to fall away.





I am flying in this body.

Namaste.

Letting Go Of What's Broken, Part 2



This is beginning to seep in. The most important part of it to me is that, "You get to laugh loudly, paint, write and create. You get to be yourself."

I LOVE writing.  I didn't start in earnest until five-six years ago.  This blog has been hugely important to me.  I process my life as I write.  Thank you for reading and commenting!

I was unauthentic the first half of my life.  I relied on following others, taking subtle signals from others on how to respond.  I did not know how to live my own life.  And I didn't even know that I wasn't living my own life.   I can see it so much more clearly now that I've been claiming myself for the last few years.  (I love the 40's!!)

I feared so much.  I lived in daily anxiety.  A few months ago,  I went to a party that was with a group that I am not usually extended an invitation.  George was working that night and I worked hard to find a date to go with me.  In the past, the first "no" would have halted the process and felt like a major rejection of me.  Yet I kept asking, I was determined to go.  Finally, a newer friend of mine was able to go.  God bless her, she is still friendly with me because I was so anxious about going and it came out as non-stop blathering.  I couldn't stop talking about my worries….

About going to a party??

When and how did I become this person?  (But that doesn't matter and I don't want to spend any more time figuring it out in my head, I just want to grow)  I didn't really understand what happened until the next day, and I processed my behavior and how anxious I was.  About half way through the party, I thought, do I really want to be here?  I  had been wanting to break through into this group for so long (with no real action on my part, just wishing and hoping) and here I was thinking, hmmm.  Do I want to be here?

And why did I want to be a part of this group so badly? Attractive FB pictures? The desire to be part of a tribe, to be part of a larger whole, to be connected with people?

This is part of figuring out who I am.  I have to try things and see how it goes and some may be just the ticket and some may not.  I recognize that there is a group that I belong to at church that I have felt at home with from the moment I sat down in the chair of their book study.  I can't say this strongly enough.  I FELT AT HOME FROM THE MOMENT I SAT DOWN.  The discussions that we have are exactly in line with passions of mine.   PASSIONS!  They give me support like I have never had, and they comment on who I am becoming and see me for who I am.   I walk in the door and they hug me and are glad to see me.  I have learned to have a voice in that class.  I speak up and say what's on my heart and it's not always pretty but they applaud me and my efforts and say the most warm, nurturing and loving things.  And I'm learning to do the same.  I am learning to be nurturing and warm.  I thought I was before but I wasn't in the way that I aspire to be or rather who I think I am deep inside where fear is not holding me back.

It's so much easier to love others when you love yourself.

And I have never attended any functions of this group that I was invited to.

There is a party tonight. I am making plans to go. And there will probably be nerves.  And that's okay.  I need to try this out.  It may or may not be the ticket but I won't know unless I try.

Namaste.






Friday, December 26, 2014

The World Would Be a Nicer Place If…



God is Light.  God is Love.
This sentiment is so healing for me. So simple, but so true for my religion battered me down before.
Following the light, leads me to abundant love.
Finding my authentic self, which is love at the core.  And connection with others and the entire planet because we are one.

This is deep.  So very deep but so very simple.

Namaste.


Letting Go Of What's Broken, Part 1

I have read this sentiment before, probably several times over the last few years.  I'm learning that growth is learning the same lessons again and again over time and each time it seeps in just a little deeper into my soul.  I look at it as a spiral and going deeper into the spiral.

When it first happens that a truth of life (an aha) that I had previously experienced comes my way again, I think to myself, "Seriously, this point again?!  I've been here, done this!"  But now it's a little easier, the second, third, fourth, fifth time around…

There are important people in my life that I just need to let go. Let go of who I want them to be.




I have been trying very hard to push for something that doesn't exist in reality.  It's my idea of what a relationship should look like.  It does exist for others that I see around me but that is why there should be no comparing my life with another's life.   There's a saying about doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result.  Yes, that's where I am.  And it can be very painful.

Some people are hard to let go.

Or rather it's the idea of some people.

So what keeps me from letting go.  Is it FEAR?   It's not that I haven't had these same thoughts about certain people multiple times over the years.  When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. (Maya Angelou) It's taken years to embrace the fear of letting it be.  Fear of the unknown.  If I let go of this person or situation, what will my life look like?  Will it be empty and have a void?

(And I've been concentrating so much on that void off and on for years anyway, what would happen if I put that energy towards someone who was open and responsive?)

The path I see clearly now, is that I have to continue grieving and let it go.  But who wants to grieve?   Who wants to volunteer for pain?  Our western culture has so many ways, and compulsions to avoid the uncomfortable emotions.   I just don't believe in that anymore and I don't want to do that anymore.  And I'm learning to feel everything that comes my way.  The joy, the despair, the anxiety, the peace, the calm, the fear, anger, etc. etc.  I'm learning to think differently about those feelings when they come up and allow them to flow through.

Yet the amazing thing in my experience is that letting go, then gets me to the very thing I wanted and needed in the first place but from unexpected sources.  I wake up and think, this person is providing me with exactly what I needed.  It was here all along. Wow!

Dorothy, you had it in you all along.

I had to let go of the old (thoughts) and embrace the new.

And it's so magical. Love abounds where you had no idea it's possible.  It's shows up in unexpected faces and places.  It is rich and sweet.

Letting go of what's broken, is making me whole.

NAMASTE.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Are You Trying To Tell Me There's No Dialogue in Ballet?

On Sunday, the family and I went to see the Nutcracker: a Tale from the Bayou, which is the Louisiana version of the production.  It had been many, many years since I had seen it.  Mallory through a school field trip had seen a shorter version and wanted to see all of it.  So at the last minute, I got tickets for the whole family to go.

Getting to the River Center Theater on Sunday afternoon was not pretty at all.  (Head lowers and eyes cut down)  At all.   I did not get ready on time.  (I was completely absorbed in finishing a Shutterfly photo album - which I did! but for some reason no one else was excited about that) But we were really late.  As we were trying to get in the car, it took five minutes for each ticket to print out and there were four of them… It was like watching paint dry.

My daughter is now twelve… Yes, we have entered new territory.  I won't say any more to respect her privacy.  Other than, this makes for many uncomfortable moments.  The ride to the Nutcracker was tension filled.  There were multiple issues going on in what felt like a teeny tiny space of our SUV.
(It's the most won-der-ful time of the year...)

We finally get there and enter the building and I hear over the loudspeaker that the production will be delayed fifteen minutes. Yes!  We were able to visit the bathroom, get to our seats, and visit with friends behind us with time to spare.  Karma was on my side this time.

The production begins and five minutes in, I ask Mallory, "Is there any dialogue? Are there any songs that will be sung?"  She shakes her head no.

No one will be speaking.

I had forgotten that the Nutcracker was…ballet.

What can I say, the Christmas season is crazy.  I forgot.

So I acclimate to this idea.  And begin to enjoy it. But during the second half, I remember a scene from my favorite show, "The Mindy Project." This scene just slays me.  And I have to put the kibosh on the memory of it before I lose it.

The back story is that these 2 men are from two groups of OB-GYNs who want to become the medical providers for this ballet troupe.  They were then invited to watch the four and a half hour practice.  Dr. Prentice cannot tolerate watching any longer…



"How come you're not helping her.  She clearly has some kind of a disability!!" 

Namaste.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't They Look So Innocent?

One afternoon last week, Mallory's friend came over after school to play for a little while.  It is standard operating procedure now to keep Brinkley separate from anyone who comes to the house because of his umm… biting history.  This afternoon, the dogs were in the backyard and I went out with his correction collar and leash to bring them inside.  Well, Brinkley had dug under our fence and was loose between the gap that resides between our neighbor's fence and ours.  I opened the back gate to grab him and Annie shot out like a cannon. (Annie apparently only shoots out for food or for freedom)
Panic arises in my stomach.  I picture in my head the last time Brinkley and Annie escaped.   Brinkley chased after a girl on a skate board whom he thought was playing with him and nipped her on the leg. He spent time in Dog Juvie (Animal Control).

This was a dark period in my life.  (smile)

It was the time, that I learned a big lesson.  Not only do I need boundaries with humans but I need boundaries with dogs too!

What to do? I grabbed Annie and put the leash on her.  Thankfully, she doesn't move as fast as Brinkley. Okay, how to catch Brinkley.


I yelled his name with authority as sternly as possible.  I would walk slowly and deliberately with Annie in tow and as soon as I got close, he would run off again.  Brinkley thought this was a game.

O M G.  How am I going to catch this dog with the beagle holding me back?

But I repeated the same measure over and over and finally he stopped and let me grab him.

My friend was sitting in my driveway and asked if she could take pictures.  I love the colors of the tree right above my head.  
Don't the dogs look so innocent. They look so tiny to how I have them in my head. These two small dogs have made such an impact in my family's life.
Brinkley the loyal barker and biter and Annie the timid, hungry one.
Unconditional love.  Brinkley that is.  Annie unconditionally loves food.  But she does make me laugh.

Namaste.

An Alien In The House

Being a parent is the hardest job there is.

Now I have an (almost) teenager.

A female. Twelve years of age.

I know there are worst things in life but this one rocks my boat right now.  At times, it is as if an alien has taken over her body (and her mouth.)

I have mentioned it to a few mothers.  Yesterday, I got the sign of the cross from a saleslady who had older daughters. (chuckle) Those little bits help me laugh and know, this too shall pass. It may take a few years but this too shall pass…

I can't go into too much detail because this is her private life and this is probably too much already. (uh oh)

I know she keeps it together at school and puts her guard down when she gets home.

She is finding herself.  These are the oh so awkward Middle School years.  I can look at pictures from just months ago and it is amazing how much physical transformation is taking place.

And what is going on in the inside?

When she acts herself right now, it pushes my buttons.  Somewhere, I am lost where my own development stopped.  I know that I never really broke free and emotionally individuated from my own parents.  This did not happen until my forties.  This is what consciousness is all about.  But I am slowly learning how to be present and when my anger, frustration come about in reaction, I try to stop and be with it.  I know my girl needs me to rise above.  And I'm working really hard to do so.

I'm getting a lot of practice. Heh heh heh.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

God's Not Dead

*spoiler alert*

Riley and I watched "God's Not Dead" a few weeks back.

After the viewing, I had post-traumatic stress flashbacks to the early 90's when I attended a "Heaven or Hell" production at a local Baptist church in town.  I went with my boyfriend at the time who was the same denomination as the church.  The show presented specific incidents where someone is facing death and if the person had not chosen correctly prior to that, their name was not in THE Big Book and they go to hell.    I poured an alcoholic beverage to help the tremors flow through.  I knew certain people had liked the movie.  I had a feeling that it would not be my cup of Christian tea.

My daughter wanted to watch the film as she heard about it from friends.  It was just the two of us and I said okay.  I watched it because she wanted to.  I thought I could handle it.

I couldn't.

In hindsight, my intuition knew better.  I should have told my husband to watch it with her, as he has no fundamentalist baggage.  Mine is a mile deep and an ocean wide.

Boundaries - I needed to uphold my boundaries even though it was something my child wanted.


The following definition would be helpful for you to understand why my viewing of God's Not Dead didn't go well:

Propaganda is information that is not impartial and used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis, or using loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented.

On a positive note,  it was filmed at LSU and the campus looked lovely but on a low note the plot was predictable, so very horribly predictable.  I can reach deep down and say some of the acting was good, I just didn't like the script.  Everyone who was an atheist was BAD,  everyone who was a Christian was GOOD.  Everyone was against the main character, the "Christian," including his parents and girlfriend.   It was so very black and white.  And the Christian was the victim.  And to put the shiny bow at the end of the movie, there was a death bed "come to Jesus" moment by the atheist professor who was hit by a car outside a Christian music concert.  There happened to be two preachers there on the street, one of whom could conveniently diagnose that the atheist's lungs were filling with blood and he was definitively dying in the next five minutes.   After a talk with one of the preachers, the atheist declared Jesus his savior just and he died on the street…

And that's the end of that story.

And special cameo appearancea by one of the Duck Dynasty couples whom I tried to block out entirely.

This movie pushed many of my fundamentalist baggage hot buttons. And it brought up all my fear roots and did nothing to bring up the abundant LOVE of God that I have been surprised and amazed by in the last few years.  And do you know what began healing my fundamentalist baggage?  Lo and behold, it was sitting in counseling with a Jewish therapist.   I had to strip away all of the misguided thinking that I had about God, myself and the world.  I needed someone to listen to me unconditionally.
Just like God does.

Abundant love is who God is and who we are if we can tap into it.   I had to change my very poor concept of God in order for the loving view of God to emerge because my thinking of God was just like this movie.  Simplistic, judgmental and out there. As long as you proclaim Jesus is King after you have been scared straight, everything will be all right.

That is just not what I've come to know about my Higher Power.

Deep down, way deeply down, I know that my snarkiness and anger is my pain coming out.  So many years, I lived in fear and my idea of God did not let me know that the Divine was within and abounds in love.

Not judgement but love.

I don't know why I never left the church, the pain goes so deep.  Well, yes I do know, I was too scared.
I think my fear of leaving was bigger.  Nonetheless, I have learned to listen to my intuition because if I can acknowledge it clearly, it is God talking to me.  I should have listened about this movie.  But that's okay.  I'm not perfect. Mistakes are made and learned from.

This blog has been sitting in my draft box for weeks. It's time to publish even if there is no bow to wrap it up, like at the end of this awful movie.  This is an ongoing journey for me to listen to the Divine within because that steers me on the path I need to be on.

Namaste.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peace During The Chaos of Christmas

"At the still point, there the dance is." T.S. Eliot

It's the mad, mad Christmas season.  Way too much to do.

Way too much to do.

I now know myself that I need down time and quiet almost as much as I need oxygen.

I'm not kidding.

I have come to understand how very, very, utterly important it is.  It is when the best of me comes out.  (you know that thing… what do you call it? oh yeah- In touch with the Divine Inner Presence) That is when I feel peace and calm and everything feels right with the world.  I feel I can love the entire world and even those who are the most unloveable. (I find more and more that is myself)  It is when my creativity flows.  It is when I can cry and be sad or feel utter joy and gratitude or just sit and be.

And the way that it intermingles around those moments or hours or days of anxiety and fear that make the peaceful quiet moments even that much sweeter.

But I have to be still to feel it.  I have to be in the present moment.  Not worrying about the next thing.  Not worrying about what did or did not happen in the past. It has taken several years of a conscious shift in my thoughts to begin to do this on a regular basis. It takes so much practice, practice, and more practice.

To be in the present moment.

I treated myself and Mallory to a pedicure on Saturday afternoon.  I had been wanting to have my feet "worked on" for several weeks.   The family had gotten up and 6:00am that morning on a Saturday for Mallory and George to participate in the Girls on the Run race.  I lost my good $$ reading glasses on the field.  George and I had two Christmas parties to attend that night (an introvert's first world nightmare).  Mallory had a birthday party to go to in an hour and a half.  There was laundry out the wazoo that needed to be washed or folded or put away.  There were more Christmas presents to buy.  There were outside decorations to be put up.  There were more ornaments to be put on the tree.  There were boxes to be put away.  The house was (and is) a mess.  There were more Christmas cards to be addressed.  I had no idea what I was going to wear that night.  My hair had not been washed in several days.   There were more thoughts to be had in my head to figure out logistics, etc…and you get the idea…

And the Christmas music was blaring. (and it was not a soothing instrumental)

But as I sat with my feet soaking in the water and being tended to, I was so enthralled in the moment.  I put my head back, closed my eyes, ignored the crappy music and breathed deeply.  I had looked forward to this moment for several weeks.   It was a peace orgasm.  Even amongst the chaos, my mind settled down and I was IN THE MOMENT.  Many months ago, I had a FB acquaintance write about her first ever pedicure experience and the description of it was so detailed and her enjoyment and pleasure of the experience was eye-opening.  She was ecstatic at something I took for granted.

I can enjoy and be at peace with most anything I have to- if I change my thoughts about whatever it is.

Thoughts are so powerful.

If we can be in the present moment, the exquisiteness of being alive is overwhelming.

(And my toes are the prettiest shade of red.)

Namaste.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Stress: Part 2: (Relearning Who God Is)

I love that what struck me on FB yesterday was from Aha Parenting and essentially all about being in the present moment with your kids (not the shiny presents from Toys R Us)  It was fantastic advice.  And today, Father Rohr says what I have been coming to learn over the last 5 years - consciousness leads to God being right in front of me or rather God in me, in the present moment.

This is Father Rohr's meditation from today.  What I really like is bolded.

God Is Here and 
Thus Everywhere
Thursday, December 11, 2014

The last words Jesus spoke to his apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane were “Stay awake”; in fact he says it twice (Matthew 26:39-41). I believe the work of religion is, more than anything else, to keep you awake, alert, alive, conscious. Consciousness comes from a wholehearted surrender to the moment. If you’re conscious, you will experience God. I can’t prove God to you. But people who are present will experience the Presence. It’s largely a matter of letting go of our resistance to what the moment offers us.

To be here now is the simplest thing in the world and the hardest thing to teach. In many ways it is the very foundation of all religion and all spirituality. You cannot get there by any kind of worthiness contest whatsoever. You cannot get there; you can only be there. I am convinced that the purest form of spirituality is the ability to accept the “sacrament of the present moment” (as Jean-Pierre de Caussade called it) and to find God in what is right in front of me. At that level, there is almost nothing to argue about. In fact, argumentative religion proceeds from not being present.

It seems we all start out thinking of God as “out there.” Yet we also need to believe, even spatially, that God is “in here.” We must know that deeply before we can take the Now seriously. The reason we can trust the Now so much is because of the Incarnation and because of the Divine Indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christians have been given the promise that the Word has become flesh, that God has entered into the human, and the human soul is the temple of God. This is Paul’s discovery (1 Corinthians 3:16-17), and it is repeated through various metaphors by every Christian mystic.

Father Rohr's teachings are a balm to my soul.  My idea of God was so battered that I cringe when I hear the word Christian.  My idea of a Christian for several years now has been that of one of a right wing fanatic with whom I disagree on about everything.  So I've had to step away from anyone who talks about Jesus too much.  I've had to step away from the Bible.  When the word, Jesus, pops up too many times it feels like propaganda.

I am relearning God.

This truth of being in the here and now, I understand.

It's Christmas and there is way too much to do. Christmas stress kicked in two days ago.  I thought I was going to keep the anxiety at bay but my old friend came back.  In years past, it came in late November, so the fact that it didn't kick in until December 9, is pro-gress!!  I have moments where my thoughts are all about the future - presents, cards, tasks, errands, events that need to be attended or attended to.  

But God (or higher power or divine presence)  is in the moment.

It's okay to get off track and my stomach will turn and my thoughts will spin.  I am human.  I find that if I am able to get quiet, the fears dissolve.  I also say, "All will be well, even if it's not."  It has taken several years of a very conscious mind shift to employ these techniques.  I don't want to live in fear and anxiety like I did for the first 40 years.  I needed this shift.   This is the second half of life.   I am so grateful for this shift of consciousness.

Namaste.
Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Stress, Part 1

It's that time of year.  Christmas stress.  Fa la la la la, la la la. Yuck.

It's the most wonderful time of the year…

NOT.

I tried to keep it at bay.  I tried to say, "oh no, not this year." I'm going to remain calm and let it roll.  And it worked up until yesterday.  And then I felt this tension and irritability creep in.

Oh my gosh, there is TOO MUCH TO DO.

I sat down to start to write the annual Christmas letter.  It takes much drafting and tweaking.   I have been writing them for more than a decade.  It's a tradition that I love.  I have all of our old cards and the letters in chronological order in a Christmas album - and I don't usually have anything finished like that.  I thought, I just want to send my cards out,  do I have to write a letter?  My cards have been sitting in a box for over a week, waiting.

I have been working hard to keep it simple.  There is no perfectionism anymore.  I realized a few years back to let go of perfectionism.

In addition to the Christmas errands and duties which are multiplying right before my eyes.  There are other things that need to be taken care of.  And when I feel there is too much to do, or I get anxiety, I freeze.

That is not helpful for the to do list.  See I'm writing a blog instead of writing the letter.

To be continued

Sunday, November 30, 2014

If Only Christianity Could Be Like This


Not much else to say here.  Yet it's all open to interpretation.  I believe it's all about LOVE.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

They Know Me, They Really Know Me!


The family and I play a game called Say Anything - Family Edition.  Each of us reads a question card and the rest of the players answer the question in the reader's opinion.  

The question I picked was In My Opinion...I just wrote a book.  What's it called?
Mallory answered "Living with Sisters."
Riley answered "I just need space with no one in it"
And George answered "Finding your True Self(ie)" (he gets points for creativity!) 

My family really does know me.

They get me, they really do. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What A Pan of Cornbread Dressing Really Means


This was the first ever Thanksgiving meal I prepared on our own after George and I got married and were living in Buffalo.  This was the late 90's.   George came home and helped at some point probably on Thanksgiving day as he was working round the clock in residency.  We enjoyed this meal at our home with several of his fellow residents (all bachelors might I add), and they didn't offer to help clean the dishes.  Not that it stuck in my craw at all...

Well, I had no idea how to cook the big dishes of that meal.   I called home several times and my dad talked me through how to do so.  I did not connect with my dad on a multitude of levels but this time I needed help and he was the man for the job.  This included "the dressing."  My dad's dressing was one that he had perfected over many years from what he remembered his grandmother had made.

On this first holiday without him, I went back and forth about whether to cook the dressing.  I haven't made it myself in years and it's an ordeal, containing cornbread, rice and turkey meat. And this year,  I was cooking everything else for the entire meal as well, which is quite the undertaking and sometimes simpler is better.

But it won't seem like the holiday without having it.  So...

Yesterday, I pulled out the sixteen year old piece of paper I had written down the instructions on all those years ago and began the process.  Two trips to the supermarket later and twisting of my children's arms to help with some other sides and voila.  I also broke the rules and used chicken we already had frozen in broth which was a fantastic time saver for me.


Here is the dressing, ready to be put in a dish and baked - except for the green onion that I still need to add.  I will admit that I ate a small bowl just to see if it tasted right. {smile}

YUM.

This year, I'm sad that my dad is not here but I feel his presence around this dressing.  I feel connected. I felt it cutting and chopping and the blending of all of the ingredients. It brings a warm feeling even with all of the effort.  My children will tell you I don't always cook mostly because when I try something new the kids don't eat it.  Aarrggghh.

The jury is out to see if the girls will ever like it as much as I do.  Sometimes it takes time for appreciation to kick in. And then there is George who grew up in the North with the bird stuffed and different food traditions and he wants to make his own stuffing with sausage in it.  The poor man has had to eat our Southern cuisine for all these years. {grin}

Leftovers, anyone?  We will have them. And I look forward to making some turkey and sausage gumbo after as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!  May the tradition that warms your heart be yours on this special day.
Namaste.

In Annie's Eyes

By: Mallory

One early morning I was ready to leave my sleeping box (aka crate)  and eat. But I stayed in my sleeping box for another hour! Finally at 6:47 I left my sleeping box  to go get food. My brother Brinkley wakes up earlier than me. Finally I was getting food! I jumped up and down until someone fed me. After what felt like forever, my food bowl was set down. I ate as fast as could, so Brinkley wouldn't eat it. Even though I knew he wouldn't. Then after I ate I went outside to pee. After I peed, I got a treat. Then I took a nap. When I went on a walk I saw a squirrel. But I really did not care. Of course Brinkley went nuts, barking and running toward it. Carol pulled him back. There were very  interesting smells. When it was over I watched TV with Carol. Then I took another nap. I must have taken a really long nap. Because when I woke up my owner was home. When she ate a snack I begged for a bite. She said it was dog poison. Then I watched TV with her. Then she went to her room and did homework. I am just glad I don't have it. I have a feeling it would interrupt my naps. The only thing that interrupts my naps are Brinkley. He licks me and that wakes me up. So where was I. After she did her homework she watched TV. I slept though it. Then the evil, mean,and furry cats chased me around. Finally George came. He always gives me food. Did I mention I love food! After a long time we went for a walk. I got food on the walk. I also ran into a lot of friends. There were like 27 different smells. I peed in a lot of front yards. When we got home I went into my owners room and a took a nap. Finally after a while George put me in my sleeping box. I dreamed I could eat all the food I want. It felt like heaven. That is my typical day.

Yours Always,
Annie



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Introducing...Dr. Shefali

Note: The video is smack dab in the middle of Dr. Shefali's nuggets.  You are smart people and can read around it.  This is me accepting my imperfection and I can't get the video to move without a lot of time and effort.

I watched Dr. Shefali Tsabary last night on OWN's Lifeclass.    As she started talking, I was astounded and amazed.   What she was talking about takes my journey of consciousness to another level and THE most important one as a parent.  If you read this blog ever, my mode of operating is to evolve my thinking and new ahas rock my world.  This has to do with my children and their role in my spiritual development.  Dr. Shefali says that our children are hear to evolve us.  I have learned that any body that pushes my buttons can teach me something about myself.  It's not just that they are a pissy person.  They can push me further down my path towards enlightenment.

Here are some of Dr. Shefali's nuggets:

We rarely ever parent from the present, we rarely ever not parent in fear.

The ego is so seductive.  It believes there is only one way to affirm the self.  But it is a fear based way.

Get yourself out of the way of your children and allow them to EMERGE.

How can we tell our children that their best wasn't good enough?  How would you feel if someone you loved told you that? 

These children are so full of expansive spirit and we try to reduce them to one thing: a grade, a sport, etc.

We come from a place of wanting our children to be empowered and complete as possible.  But then we project our fears onto them.

I know who I am - Listen to your child. Don't try to mold them into someone else.

This one I'm not sure if it is from Oprah or Dr. Shefali.  These questions are the ones that I am learning to ask myself when I engage with my children. This is what is on their minds: 

Do you see me? 

Do you hear me?  

Do I matter?


Dwarf Hamsters And Unconditional Love

Oh my goodness, I just witnessed in dwarf hamster land what goes on in my world on a daily basis.  I got up while it was still dark outside and went to the keeping room to read and have quiet time.  I could hear a repetitive metal banging that indicated the hamsters had no water.  "Give me water!!"  I refilled the water bottle and attached it back and watched to see if it was working.  One of the two started pushing the metal and it wasn't as loud as before so it must have been working. Then I watched tiny hamster #2 come up to the trough as well. The first one made a tiny squeak that said "Get out of here, I'm not finished" to the other and then body slammed her to get her out the way.

As a mother of two tween siblings who seem to antagonize each other daily, I lost it and started laughing madly in the predawn hour.

Oh my gosh.  These tiny animals are the same as humans.  We all want a little bit of water, a little bit of love. If we don't get our needs met, we will push others in physical and verbal ways.  This has become so evident to me.  We had an incident a few weekends ago whereby I learned just what it can be like as a Middle School girl in a drama filled wasteland.

Not pretty.

I saw this video on Upworthy yesterday.  It says it all.  It's a simple message but one that is so hard to abide by.  When someone hurts myself or one of my family, the natural instinct  I have is NOT to love.  It is anger, and to think what did I do to this person for them to treat me this way? And over time, I have learned this isn't about me, it's about what is going on with the other person.



But what is more Godly than to give love back?   And as Jason Mraz says in the video, it will stop the aggressor in their tracks.

I really, really understand the noble idea of returning hate with love.  Learning how to do it in real time though, is the ultimate challenge for me.  It takes practice.  I practice it with my kids most every day.  They don't send me hate but they react and tell me everything is my fault, and I don't love them when something doesn't go their way (or their love tank is empty....)  As my stomach turns, I take a deep breath and in the moment try to figure out how to give them love and not react in defensiveness.  I have been practicing this with each interaction in earnest  for the last weeks after watching Dr. Shefali and her ideas of conscious parenting.  It can push every one of my buttons when someone reacts in what I discern as "against me."  Sometimes, I just become silent and know at least I am not yelling back.  Some days, I have been magnificent and listened to all of the emotion that the child needs to express and doesn't know how to handle and am just there, present.   I am there soft place to fall.  Sometimes, when I tune in and show sympathy, the emotion from the other person gets louder and more intense because they feel safe and have to let it all out and eventually it dissipates. And it is magical when the anger falls away.  Simply magical.

Not every day, do I have the where with all to do this or does it work out magically, sometimes boundaries have to be put in.  Some days, I'm physically or emotionally drained and I don't have it to give.  I have learned to tell the child I'm approaching my yelling point, so I'm going to walk away and calm down.  And after some time, I'm able to come back and engage.

It's a work in progress and it takes practice, so very much practice.  And luckily, there are opportunities nearly every single day (or at least the last two weeks there have been)!

The hamsters are just going to have to work it out amongst themselves.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I HEART The Mindy Project

I have a new TV obsession.  It's the Mindy Project.  Not sure how it happened but I'm so glad it did.

Dr. Danny and Dr. Mindy


The show is just slaying me right now.  And the interesting thing is that I started watching it in the middle of last season which was their second season and my appreciation didn't kick in until now.  I think I know why, but more on that later.

I found the first season at the library and had a marathon session over a several day period and just fell in love, head over heels in love. Dr. Mindy Lahari is an OB-GYN in NYC and the show is set at her practice with a collection of oddballs.  Really well defined odd ball characters that add immensely to the mix. She also happens to be of Indian descent and not a size 2.  As you know this is not the norm for a main female character in a sitcom.  There are blogs devoted to her character's fashion choices.  All very inspiring as I am not a size 2 either.
 
The Mindy Project is so well written and fast paced that I have to rewind it to catch the jokes. There was a bit where the character Morgan, the male nurse, high on a marijuana cupcake does a dive into what he thinks is the pool, and hits the ground with a thud.  I had to pause the show and just laugh.  A fantastically hard belly laugh.  I think the reason I never caught on to how good it was because of distraction.  I find myself watching a tv show, even one that I enjoy immensely while I'm on the internet - AT THE SAME TIME.

I wasn't paying attention.

That says something about my obsession with web surfing, being able to relax and I'm taking note.

Focus on one thing at a time.

When I don't focus on one thing at at time, stay in the present moment, I miss things.  I have found that when I'm really tired, I don't know how to disconnect.  My mind races and I go from website to website filling my head with trivial information.  When what I need to do is just sit still, rest the brain and decompress.

What really appeals to me about Dr. Lahari's character is that she owns herself, unapologetically.  She is who she is.  She doesn't fret, she just plows forward even if it is misguided.

And the show is hilarious.

Freaking hilarious.

I'm also obsessed with Dr. Danny too!  Or shall I say Diamond Dan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Mindy Project

I have fallen in love with "The Mindy Project"  I will explain why later. Just watch and enjoy.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Name is Carolyn and I'm a Knowledge Clutterer

I took a quiz after watching my favorite cleaning guru, Peter Walsh on Rachel Ray.  And this was my result below.   Ha ha!!  Not surprising at all.  I have gotten really good at decluttering but the area I have the most trouble with is…
Paper.  
I have many, many books, and I do have binders and notebooks from college.  I have ripped the band aid off and recycled magazines.  I learned to let them go.  I knew the article that I hadn't read would come around again.  
My desk in the kitchen area is my most shameful spot.  I can't manage the paper flow in my household.  I have often wondered why is it so hard to let go of the box of paper underneath the desk.  I so want to have a clear vision and this is BLOCKING me.  Well, it's my soft spot.  I may just have to accept this is who I am.  
But I don't want to.
More work to be done.


You’re a Knowledge Clutterer

Stockpiles every book she has ever read or hopes to read and or every issue of Architectural Digest ever published – believing that if she owns the book, she’ll inherit the knowledge; has a full anthology of their college textbooks and binders and keeps them to remember the glory days. Mail has been left in stacks to look at “later”.
Classic Knowledge Clutters: 
Book club members; enthusiasts of coffee-table books; and post-college grads with an English major.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sparks of Divinity

I caught a blip of a rerun of Super Soul Sunday while walking the dogs, thanks to Sirius radio app on my iPhone.   The little bit I heard just ignited my enthusiasm once again and I want to carve the time out to watch the ones I have taped on my DVR.  I always have ahas and then it sparks me to write.  These are creative forces flowing from a higher power that resides inside me whom I call God.

The person I heard speaking on OWN was Adyashanti, an American spiritual teacher.  I heard him describe humans as sparks of divinity.

Sparks of Divinity!

Wow!  This terminology is a massive warm enveloping hug just when I needed it most.

This is so different than how I pictured myself when I was growing up. 

The way I thought of God before was bleak, and unforgiving and most of all - Judgmental.  I cannot tolerate anything that smells of judgment anymore.  What had been planted in my head was that Jesus loved me, but I was a sinner.  And there was a big book and God was watching and if I misbehaved my name would not be in that book and I was going to hell.  (Yes, I sadly watched a full out play production of this very notion called "Heaven or Hell" in my early 20's) And I was told I was a sinner all the time.   And so there was hell, and armageddon, and eye for an eye and so much was based on Fear.  I can clearly see how fear is used repeatedly as a means to an end.   This did not present to me a God of Love.  A God who loved me more than I could even imagine and that there was an endless depth of love to tap into.   All I could think was that I wasn't good enough.  (If you tell someone they are a sinner, then guess what, that is what they will morph into.  Self-fulfilling prophecy.

So guess what, I didn't learn how to love myself or anyone else unconditionally -which is a red letter New Testament Jesus' commandment.  In fact it is the second one to loving God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind.  The second commandment of the New Testament is "You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself."   I now know that I was born to LOVE (not fear). 

I'm rearranging those thoughts in my head because our higher being (and Jesus) are all about love.  We are born and our souls ARE love but we lose that along the way.  Our ego gets in the way. Our conditioning by humans gets in the way.

The way to follow Jesus as he teaches is through LOVE.   Becoming whole-hearted.  Seeing the world as loving.  There is an abundance of love out there for everyone.   

Sunday, September 28, 2014

It's Just Not Meant To Be

I am needing to grieve a relationship in my life.  It is just not meant to be the way I want it to be.  Again and again, this has been brought to my attention.  Did I say how many times over and over again?   It's so over and as the Maya Angelou saying goes: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."  It's whipping me in the head for what feels like the thousandth time and I remain a punching bag.  I so deeply want a connection that I keep putting my heart on the line and it keeps getting battered.  It's enough.  It's time to let it go.

I need to have a shift in thinking, big time.

Why do I keep going back for more pain?   It must be my ego.  My ego thinks "What's wrong with me?"    Perhaps my ego thinks, if only they could see me for who I am they would love me.  I've tried really hard to do things the "right" way.  But it will never be right enough, I can see that a little more clearly now.

And there is no "right" way, there is only who I authentically am.  I can only be me.   I am coming to own who I am and I know that deep within me (that God place that I have found) it's about love.  If this person can't see the love, then that's their own stuff in the way.   It's taken so much work to get where I am, I can't go back.  I have to let my light shine and find others who see it.

Okay, so how do I shift my thinking?  Each time this person comes to mind - I have to detach.  I have to detach from the self defeating thoughts.  And in the end, I need to grieve my idea of this relationship.  I came across the following paragraph from a friend.  This is how I need to grieve it.  It is exactly what I need to move on, to do repeatedly over and over.  I can't identify myself with the stories I'm telling that I'm not good enough.


4. SUFFER CONSCIOUSLY. (From Eckhart Tolle)
Observe your emotional pain, your anguish and frustrations. Observe the constant stream of negative thoughts that run through your mind. The dreadful stories that keep feeding your pain, but choose not to identify yourself with them. See yourself as the one who’s observing all that emotional pain and all that discomfort. But don’t make the pain part of who you are. Don’t make it your person life story. Don’t claim it as your own.

And here is the crux of all of it:

“Suffering consciously is when you feel, sense and accept the suffering. It is not suffering anymore it is just pain. To be suffering you must have an unhappy me with a story and the world that is doing it to me.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

I don't want to live in fear anymore.  I don't want to live in victimhood.  This person is not doing this to me. (although it feels real personal.)  I need to lovingly pay attention to the faulty thoughts that I think about myself, that there is something wrong with me.   This really isn't about me.  I have chosen suffering instead of allowing the pain.  I have to accept it's not meant to be.  It's simply not meant to be.  Maybe that can be my mantra.
Allow the pain. It's not meant to be. Let the pain flow.  It's only suffering if I tell myself there's something inherently wrong with me.  There's nothing wrong with me.  It's Just Not Meant to Be.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Letting Go Tom Cruise Take My Breath Away (for just a moment)

Oh, how I loved Top Gun.  I caught it on cable yesterday just in time for the volleyball scene.

Yes, that volleyball scene.

Lucky me!!


This is one of my favorite memories of movie watching in the 80's.  I don't remember who I was with or where I watched it but I so enjoyed watching these guys jump, dive and high five especially Slider.  (I had to IMDB him to see what he has been up to...) And is it a coincidence that my husband has a resemblance to Iceman...  Hmmm.  This scene  as well as Jake standing by the car in "Sixteen Candles," Morris Day and The Time singing The Bird in "Purple Rain" and way too many moments of "Bull Durham"are cemented in my brain from high school and college as pure happiness.

Yet in the last years, I have had a hard time watching anything with Tom Cruise in it that I loved before - and there were many.  Cocktail anyone?  It's amazing how even bad movies can be good when you are a teenager.    Tom disappointed me so with his rant against Brooke Shields and anti-depressants.  I was actually enraged.  As a person who really suffered with postpartum depression, his belief system and platform infuriated me. Yet I am beginning to mellow.    I almost changed the channel but then decided why not watch it.  I looked it up just now, it's been seven years since his rant on the Today Show.  And Tom still looks unhinged in the footage.

Watching "Top Gun" nearly thirty years later is amusing.  In hindsight, I can see that Tom was a little too cocky for me.  Some moments of dialogue make me want to cringe.  But how can you turn your back on some awesome Kenny Loggins' soundtracks?!  At my ripe age, Viper has even gotten more attractive.  How did that happen?

I think that for me to enjoy life to the fullest now,  I have to let go of everyone else having the same opinion as me or allowing myself to be close to someone with a different political or theological mindset.  I use to be so uncomfortable and off put when someone had a different opinion as me and now that is fading.  I was distressed  because I didn't feel like it was okay to have my own opinion much less OWN it fully.  Now that I am feeling more secure in my skin and self worth is rising, it is easier and easier to allow others to be themselves (AND more importantly for me to be me!)  It's a work in progress.

So now I can let Tom Cruise take my breath away for just a little while reveling in the 80's and it will all be o-kay.

Namaste.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Clearer House, Clearer Vision





I want to clear my house of clutter.  I want to have a place for everything in my house.  But there are so many areas that need attention that it is overwhelming.  My stuff, my husband's, my two daughters, two dogs, two cats and now two dwarf hamsters.  Uuuuggghhhh.

This has been on my mind since school began.  This is my goal this school year.

Yet day to day life interferes with what I want to do.

But today, right now, I will stop and clean for a few minutes.  One step at a time. One area at a time.

Today, I will start with my bedroom.

It is my sanctuary.

Clearer house, clearer vision.

Just Let Go


Yes, yes, yes!

Friday, August 29, 2014

No Words, Just A Firm Squeeze

My dad died two weeks ago.  His body had been failing him for quite a while.   The one kidney he had left stopped functioning years ago and then his weakened heart finally gave out during a procedure that was necessary to keep his body going.  That's the mechanics of the story.

The intimate part of the story is that he was my father.  A daughter looks to a dad to understand her meaning in the world.  The words that were floating in my head to describe him the morning after he died were quiet and sweet presence.  It took me 46 years to get to those words.   I then read the words my sister in law wrote which were more acutely accurate: "quiet, funny, sweet, sharp, dear and kind."  I forgot the sharp and funny.   And he was both of those.

I am funny and sharp when I allow myself to be.  Somewhere along the way I became too serious and forgot how healing laughter is.

I didn't have the kind of relationship I wanted with my dad.  I was never Daddy's little girl.  He was very quiet when it came to me.

I wanted more of him my whole life.

I longed for conversations with him about my life and things that I was interested in.  I longed to seem like I mattered in a way that I could recognize.   When I called my parents' home, he immediately handed the phone over to my mother.  This is normal for some people.  I think it was his generation as the provider and it was his personality.   He called me on the phone several years ago and it was the only time I ever remember him doing so and it was during a time that I was having a break of contact with my mom.  I had needed space to figure out who I was. Even though he questioned if I needed to be taken out of his will because I was not spending time with the family, I took advantage of the opportunity.  I put my heart on the line and said what I was never able to verbalize before to him.  I was vulnerable with a capital V.   (I displayed vulnerability as whole hearted people do even before I understood the concept - thank you Brene Brown!)  I said I missed him and had wanted to interact with him more growing up.  I needed his presence.  He replied that "he was who he was and was not going to change."

It was very painful to hear.

Thus began one of the biggest lessons of my life, and that is, to take people off pedestals that I place them on, of who I think they are and how I think they should be, and allow them to be who they are.  It can be a terrifically tough pill to swallow but is a necessary truth of life for me.  The journey began then to learn to give myself what I needed as a child and now as an adult.

So I grieved, a lot, over the next few years and there was much anger as well but over time slowly learned to accept who he was and what he had to give and accept who I am.  Anything I received from him at this point was bonus.  On the occasions we saw each other, and I leaned in for a goodbye hug, I noticed he squeezed me harder and held on longer than in the past.  This was his way.  No words, just a firm squeeze.

The day that he died, he never fully came out of anesthesia from his procedure.  He began moving his hands and his head though.  I watched the nurse, talk to him and ask him to squeeze her hand.  So after some movement, I walked over and took his hand and talked to him.  I told him who I was, that he was intubated and they were working to take the tube out.   I asked him to squeeze my hand. Could he squeeze my hand?  He did.  He also nodded his head a few times in response to questions.

He was a quiet man.

I learned to accept what he had to give.

My aha came that next day that I'm continuing to absorb.  As the family had gathered together in the hospital room after he died, we began talking about who he was in order to write the obituary.  He was an outdoorsman on all counts.  Everything revolved around farming, hunting, fishing, trees, etc. There was mention of his deceased sister.  I thought, wow, I really did get her genes.  She and I both moved away from the same small town, married doctors, were more liberal and loved the arts and creativity. I do love the outdoors but I am not inclined to want to trap or shoot what I find and cook it up.

My aha was that even though I never discussed life with my dad, I realized he taught me to be who I am,  no matter what the people around me think or expect.  Even if your daughter begs to get to know you better, you have to be who you are.

I have to be who I am.  It has taken a long time to realize that I can't be at peace with myself trying to be someone who I am not, trying to fit other people's molds or ideals.

I loved my dad and I know he loved me.

Namaste.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It Doesn't Matter If Anyone Else Gets This, I Do


Oh my, oh my.  I wonder do other people even understand this, but in the end it doesn't matter.  I do know what it feels like and this picture, reminds me that terribly uncomfortable feelings will pass.  They are part of life. 
I also wonder when did I stop being able to feel my feelings?  When did I start to use food to escape uncomfortable feelings?   In the end, that answer doesn't matter either.  What I have learned is that for me, I have to be kind to myself, gentle and loving.  Whatever that looks like.  When I recognize that I'm having a judgmental and unkind thought pattern - whoa - I need to stop it.  Even just having the awareness that's what is going on, lessens it.
So for now- these are wonderful words of wisdom.  And I just had a massive aha. I need to let my children know that when they are feeling unsettled and having a meltdown - this too will pass.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nervouscited

Thank you Mallory for the word and blog title.  This is her word for the first day of school.  And mine too!

As a stay at home mom, the beginning of a school year, brings up all kind of emotions.  I spend a good portion of the summer adjusting to them being at home full-time.    Spending 24-7 is quite the challenge and we spend a lot of time together as a family, especially just the three of us during the summer.   No one goes to camp, no one goes to Grandmas.  They don't have playdates down the street.  It is the three of us, 24-7.  As sisters, they have beautiful time playing together and then the ugly time of sibling rivalry and fighting.  They are both going through new phases.  Mallory is wanting more independence and getting better at demanding more of me which I need to give to her.  Riley is knee deep in pre-teen mode, and her own independence but still demanding more of me as she has done since birth.  Both of them are tackling new challenges at school, which they are excited about.  We will take each day, one day at a time.

On this day and prior to it, I get sad, and think of the summer activities we didn't get to do and it's over.  We only went swimming twice to our club pool.  That's a travesty.  There will be no more big volunteer work for me during the summer!  Challenges are good but this summer was too busy.    I will miss the girls while they are at school, but then on the other hand am so relieved to take a deep breath and soak up the quiet of the house.   I need this quiet so much to recharge.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Standards

Holy smokes.
That really says it all doesn't it.  
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out who is setting the standard too low besides myself.




Thursday, July 31, 2014

It Can't Always Be the Same: Rocking the Light AND the Dark and Birthday #46

Lauren & Mallory 2006
Feeling a little verklempt this morning and I'm learning to embrace these melancholy moments because life (the spiritual journey it is!)  is embracing the light and the dark.  You cannot have one without the other.   The dark has frightened me for years and I fought it off to no avail.  I'm learning to embrace my once sworn enemy and welcome it with curiosity and kindness.  This is no easy feat yet the dark makes the light, oh so much sweeter.

I walked the dogs in quiet this morning and in atypical fashion for late July in Louisiana, it was a cool morning.  There are several things on my mind this morning.  I saw that the moving truck that was packed yesterday with my neighbor Lauren's belongings was indeed gone.  She is headed to New Orleans for nursing school.  She babysat for me for the last 9 years!!  I was pregnant with Mallory when we moved into this house in 2005.  Lauren started off as a mother's helper and ended up driving my kids around, the ultimate in a mother's trust.  Lauren is going to rock nursing school! Look out New Orleans.

Katie and Riley 2005 - Ballon Festival

My niece, Katie, will be induced tomorrow to have her first baby.  She was one of Riley's first babysitters.  She was in the room when Riley was born.  It doesn't get much closer than that.  But there is always dark and light.  As in many families, things happen and we don't get along for a spell. Katie and I have moved through that and are on the other side.  I can't wait to meet Baby Boston.  Entering motherhood is an awesome and life changing event.  For me, it was the beginning stirrings of my consciousness journey.  Your children can evolve you like no other. (Thank you Dr. Shefali Tsabary!)  Katie will rock motherhood and be oh so fashionable while doing so!

My kids are starting back to school next week.  Riley will be entering sixth grade and Mallory, the third grade.  I dropped Riley off for her back to school party last night.  She had a purse with money and a phone in her possession!  My stomach turned as she ran off and I drove away.  Middle School.  I am learning to let Riley be who she is and navigate the highs and lows of the brutal middle years.  This is no easy task.    I have to let my own insecurities not be pushed as I'm privileged to listen to hers.  Thank you social media for adding to the drama.  Middle School and puberty were easy enough to navigate before.  Yet...Riley is going to rock Sixth Grade!

On my walk, it hit me that my forty-sixth birthday is in two days.  Birthdays can be like middle school for me, quite the booger.  In the past, reality never met my expectations and I had to learn to adjust.  (I do love birthdays on FB though - it's the bomb!)  I have learned to lower the expectations, take the day in my own hands and plan it myself.  You can't wait around for other people to do what you want to have done in your own life.  I was so caught in the muck of fear that I could not even think of alternatives much less act on them in the first half of my life.

Yet that change and adjustment in my expectation of birthdays (and life!)  has lead to gratitude for the little things:
Like a crisp morning in July! Peace and quiet and birds singing on a dog walk.  The girls sleeping in so I can write.  Annie curled up next to me snoring and making me smile.

I don't have delight every day in these things and that is okay too.  Sometimes I want to cry during my morning dog walk.  That is part of life too.  Embracing that "dark" that comes and being curious about it is making all the difference in my life.

Today, I'm especially thankful for people who have come in my life, and become such a special part of it either by birth or by luck.  I love you guys!  I'm so happy for your new adventures.

I'm grateful that life changes and evolves and I am learning to embrace it instead of being scared by it.

Namaste.

Katie and I on Christmas Day 1984

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Practicing Self Love One Leadership Role At A Time

I have been volunteering to lead things.

Yes, really.

This is new territory for me.

Last week,  I was the co-leader for the craft activity for 350 kids during our week long Vacation Bible School at church.  This step has been years in the making.  To others around me, I can tell, it's no big deal.  And in some ways, it really isn't.  Except this was me in a leadership capacity, I NEVER EVER saw myself doing.

Progressing in my shift from fear to love, one of the things that I have learned, is that it is a very slow journey.  And progress is seen, after the fact.  What I noticed this week, is that I rolled with things that were uncomfortable for me.  There were problems and imperfections that would have thrown me into a huge tailspin in the past.   As I wouldn't speak up in the past, acting on my intuition is new territory.   I enjoyed seeing the needs, acting on what needed to be done and watching my directive occur.

 I like working with adults more than children.  It's just a fact and my truth.  I enjoyed chatting with my adult volunteers.  The thought of going back to be a guide leading kids is not appealing at all.  And I've been in a few capacities during VBS for the last 10 years.

After I came home each day last week and the adrenalin slowed, I was utterly exhausted.   During the week,  I took to my bed as much as I could around the needs of my children.  I know that there is no doubt, I am an introvert.  I'm a friendly introvert, but social interactions, leave me drained.  I can only recharge by being alone and doing absolutely nothing.  No internet, no tv, and no talking, just solitude.  When I'm exhausted, I eat as it feels that I will never have energy again.  This particular feeling appears to be a difficult one for me to overcome.  There are so many times that I am tired.  But, this also gives me more time to practice, right?! {smile}   I use to question, why, why am I so tired?  And I would think no one else in the world is tired like you.  I judged myself unmercifully.   I have learned not to question it anymore, it just is.  And I have to not beat myself up about the overeating.  Self-love is the only way out of this and as I have read and listened to experts in the field of compulsiveness, I need to be curious about the behavior, not judgmental.

I am doing things I never thought I could do.  And it takes practice.  This is my written reminder to practice self-love.

A few weeks back, after I lead a week of Mission Day Camp with the kids, I ran into our Spiritual Formation Director and I said working with kids really wasn't my thing.  She said there was a need for adult teachers in several studies...

This seems very, very appealing.  I get excited about that.  I may be on to something.  And all of this practice in other areas that didn't necessarily excite me has been laying a groundwork to step out in areas that do follow my passion.

Namaste.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Baton Rouge

"Every time you substitute kindness for criticism you improve your relationship with yourself.
When you feel depressed, abandoned, anxious, or worthless that’s a big clue you are telling yourself something harsh and untrue. Challenge your beliefs vociferously in the context of unconditional self love and watch your life improve"
~♥ Nicole S. Urdang

Unconditional self-love.  I believe for the first forty years of my life, I practiced unconditional self-loathing.

I didn't even realize what I was doing.

Looking back, I lived in fear and talked to myself ALL THE TIME about how I didn't measure up to others, how I couldn't do whatever was placed before me.  So many, many moments of my life were spent worrying about the next ones (and not being present).

It is no way to live.

I wouldn't speak up.  It didn't matter the situation, or to whom I was speaking.   I would never lead ANYTHING.  It made me nervous just to participate.   There was no way I could lead, even though I could see better ways to do certain things, I would never voice the thoughts in my head.  When I had to call someone on the phone or address someone about something relatively important, it was a capital H,  Huge deal.  I would agonize over it for hours or days and procrastinate.  My husband commented to me how I freeze in my tracks and just don't move.

It seems every interaction I had with others, I felt like I would be found out.  I wasn't who I appeared to be.  I had made good grades, I was cute and had pretty hair.  I was a cheerleader for gosh sakes.  (That's another entire issue there)  I lived by all of the externals - anything that was on the outside: from what groups I associated with, to the name brands I wore, to how I looked.

It is makes me sad to think how little I thought of myself.

How do you come out of that, especially if you don't even have the awareness that it's going on?

For me it was therapy.  And like most people, usually something has to hit a breaking point for anyone to head to therapy, rehab, treatment.  I wanted to find out why I couldn't lose weight and keep it off.  I knew there was something much deeper to my relationship with food.  And that is where my journey to shift from fear to love began.  I didn't even know that's what I was doing.    What I found out was why I couldn't love myself, and the stories I told myself in my head.  I began the process of becoming who I AUTHENTICALLY am.

And the bizarre thing to me, was that my spiritual journey was one and the same as my therapy.  I unintentionally ended up at church in studies that matched exactly what I was learning on the "outside" and I didn't know those studies existed inside the church.  But it is all one and the same.

You know "God is love." {smile} {wink}

At the core of spirituality and therapy is love.  It had been lost for me for a really long time but it's coming back!  Now, when I judge myself or another person, I stop, and think, Hmmm,  oh yeah, that's fear talking.  And these days, the thoughts just flow right out again.  In the beginning of practicing mindfulness, it might take a few days when someone or something really got in my craw.  But lately, it's down to a few hours and for small issues, it takes minutes or seconds.  

It's been a slow journey and at times painful but one that I am gloriously happy to be on.


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