Here is a question for you- do you think gratitude and fear can coexist? Can they live in the same mind, spirit, body at the same time? If you would have asked me that question two weeks ago, I think my answer might have been different. But today, my answer is yes. I know this […]Gratitude, Fear, and Compassion — After The Party
December 30th: Looking Back
As the year reaches its conclusion, it is natural to want to peer forward into the great, unknowable future and try to plan our comeback- I’m gonna get in shape this year! I’m gonna tackle this mess for good! I’m doing Whole 30 for REALS this time! This is gonna be my year!
And all of that is wonderful. I do it, too. There is nothing this girl likes more than a fresh start- I like them so much, I figured out that I can make one wherever I choose to, though I’ll admit that January first is a biggie.
But while we are here, still in the final days of this year, I encourage you to look back. To thank yourself for the obstacles you’ve overcome in the past twelve months, to love on yourself a little for the good you did and the way you tried so hard, even if things didn’t turn out quite as you planned. I encourage you to forgive yourself if you messed up- you’re only human, after all, and what is easy for others might not come so naturally to you or I. Give yourself some grace, ease up a bit. And if 2019 was truly hard, then don’t forget to thank yourself for surviving it- you did it! No matter how bad, sad, hard, heartbreaking, grueling or awful it was, the finish line is right before you. You made it. You can put it behind you now.
Perspective is crucial. We are on the 364th day of a 365-day year. If you are looking back and seeing only what went wrong, it’s possible, I suppose, that you had the worst year of anyone, ever. But it’s far more likely that your eyes are failing you, not your life. I bet there were a lot more happy moments and good days than you can recall, and that’s okay- this seems to be the default setting for the human experience. I can remember a terrible thing my older daughter’s father said to me in 1998 with perfect clarity (that he doesn’t recall at all, mind you, and has apologized for at least five times), but I brush off and dismiss compliments and praise like I’m allergic to them. We cling to the bad- bad news, bad days, bad situations- for a bunch of reasons. For one, they hurt. Pain isn’t easily forgotten. There are lots of valid reasons we hold onto shitty things. But there are just as many reasons to hold onto, cherish, and value the good ones. In 364 days, some really great things happened too. Don’t forget about those. If you’re busy focusing on the hardships, you’re never going to notice the beauty…and you’ll be doing the same thing at the end of 2020 that you’re doing now- wishing it was behind you. So, check your perspective!
For me, 2019 was…peaceful. I experienced a lot of gratitude. I cried a lot of happy tears, and a few less-happy ones. I grew- more calm, more confident, more capable. I was a good friend. A good mother. I worked through some pain and found healing. I let go of some things that were holding me back. I resolved some fears and set myself free. I had a few revelations. I caught my eye in my mirrors reflection and smiled because I like that person. I love her, honestly. And that’s a big deal. I laughed, a lot. I was kinder, softer, and more loving this year than I’ve ever been. It was a very good year.
Today, I hope that you can look back on 2019 and understand that a year without stumbling and troubles is as impossible as a whole year without laughing or joy. I hope that you can see both, and that you choose to focus on the things that matter most. I hope that you can set down the burdens you don’t have to carry and walk into the new year a little lighter. And if you can’t see the good, remember to clean your glasses! Because it really is there, if you look hard enough.
December 13th: Love
Seems like, lately, I have needed to get the day behind me in order to look back and grasp the overarching theme that it held. Sometimes I know, right at the start of the day, what I am supposed to write about…others, as recently, I need to figure it out in review.
Yesterday was all about love for me. You know…my life is rich with love. I think, perhaps, it has always been that way, but I was just too busy with my worries, my inner battles, my self-obsession & self-consciousness to get it. It was right in front of my face, and I was blind to it.
And now…I am not. I see it, and I am awestruck. I don’t know a better word to describe it than that. Absolutely in awe.
I’m searching for the right way to explain to you the place where I find myself, and it’s hard. I talk a lot about healing and gratitude, change and growth. What I hope you understand is that I am telling you my story in real time. I am discovering as I go. I am finding new truths, glimpsing these beautiful things, getting struck by new wonders, every single day. I am just now learning so much of this.
I am a really late bloomer. I was stuck in a certain pattern for many, many years. What I am learning now is that my little efforts to be more…just, more– reward me in ways I could never have imagined. Because I had no expectation of getting anything back, maybe. Maybe that’s the trick. Again, circling back to what I touched on the other day, the more I give of myself, the more my heart is filled.
Today, it is overflowing. I love my life. I love my children, so, so much. I love my friends. And I love myself. I am so grateful that I found the things I needed to save myself, so that I could live this life.
Here is what I know: I did not get here by myself. Without the love and kindness of so many people over the years, without the help of people who didn’t have to give it, but chose to, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this right now. Though it may have seemed a wasted effort to them at certain times, I am telling you right now that every bit of it mattered. The cumulative effect of the kindnesses shown to me built a bridge that carried me here. I will never forget that.
Love is the ONLY thing that means anything at the end of it all. Love is at the bottom of every smile, every kind word and gesture, every selfless moment, every hug, every tear. Without love we would never laugh, we would never bend, we would never grieve. Love is never wasted. It is the whole point of this human experience, and I hope you remember that. I hope you believe it. Love changes everything it touches…which means you can change anything by loving it. Wow. If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is.
Hi, guys! I started to make this a post for my other blog, but quickly realized this one belongs here, where my story has played out over so many years. I have a different voice, and a different story, and a different history here, and this one should live here. So here goes: I woke […]Thanks-Giving — After The Party
This is a little different than the things I post here, but you can check it out if you want to. Happy Thanksgiving! Find something to be grateful for!
November 8th: Cozy
Today has been a funny day. The weather is finally acting properly- nice and foggy this morning, stayed cool all day, and now it’s a bit overcast as the evening rolls in. Work was cancelled about halfway through today because the software program we use kept crashing. So…kinda left me at loose ends.
I grabbed some take-out Japanese on my way home from picking Cam up, and just passed the afternoon picking at my bento box and diving into a good book. I’m sleepy, but in the best possible way.
There’s plenty of stuff that needs to be done around here, but it can wait a little longer. My plans for the evening involve nothing but fuzzy pajamas, my book, my bed, and maybe my TV. I worked very hard this week, and I think I shall reward myself with a long, luxurious, indulgent break. For now, I think I will see if Cam wants to read some of her book with me before she leaves for her Dad’s for the night. I just want to do cozy things tonight. It seems like the perfect night for it.
Wherever you are, I hope that you get the chance to have exactly the kind of night you want tonight- be it going out and dancing until dawn, having a romantic dinner with someone you adore, or just curling up on the couch with a blanket, your cat, and a great book. I’ve made it clear which option is most appealing to me. And with that, I am signing off for today. See you tomorrow!
October 30th Adventure
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel alive unless I can feel that little spark of joy lit up in my heart. The joy of excitement, adventure, new endeavors, the knowledge of something to look forward to.
When I was young, it was easy to gain access to this spark- there was always a new crush, or a fun outing, or, because I was young, just the newness of life in general that filled me with that rush of fascination and interest.
Then I grew up, and, even though I got a lot more mileage out of my “crazy years” than most, I finally did settle down. I have shown up at the same job for the past eleven years. I have an established routine, times by which kids must be dressed and out the door, times by which I must be at work, clock out, make dinner, go to bed.
I’m not going to pretend that the thrill of conquering the tasks of adulthood mean nothing to me- there is certainly joy to be found in repairing ones credit and paying bills on time. There is definitely joy in financial stability, being insured, not having to use coffee filters for toilet paper until next pay day.
But after a while, and for a long while now, for me, life has been pretty stagnant. A while back, I wound up trying to see if I could buy a house. Much to my surprise, I totally could…only, not here, not in the uber expensive town where I live. I mean, I could, if I were a contractor and didn’t mind living in a shed- which I am not, and I certainly do.
So, I thought I’d move over to a little town in the Sierra Nevada’s where my grandparent’s home still is, which my mother lives in at least part of the time. But one day it hit me- why am I going through all this stuff instead of addressing what I really want to do? And what do I really want to do?
Well, I want to live in New England. Like, really, really bad.
So, I decided to pursue that. And it is actually happening. As soon as I made up my mind and took some steps to go after it, everything started falling into place. Right now, my plan is to stay for one year. One full year in New England, long enough to see every season, long enough to explore many of the things I want to see. What happens beyond that year, I don’t know.
Am I scared? Of COURSE I am! I’m not an idiot. But more than that, I am thrilled. Like, wind in my face, climbing the big hill of the roller coaster thrilled. The possibilities are endless- the friends I might make and the things I might learn. I am wide open, ready to embrace the experience fully. And I feel alive, full of joy, and deeply grateful for the way the Universe seems to want to accommodate me. It’s really pretty spectacular.
Today, ask yourself how long it’s been since you’ve felt truly inspired by your life. Are you going after one thing because it’s easier, when you deeply desire something else? Are you excited about anything? Do you have big plans, something to look forward to? This is the only life you get (as you, anyway). I encourage you to light that fire, take charge, and find your next adventure. Time’s a ticking.
At my age, I expected that I would be pretty settled down. When I was a kid, 44 seemed soooo old. I never considered the fact that, no matter what age I was, it would still be a brand-new time for me, a time I hadn’t experienced before. I never imagined that I would still be learning and changing all the time.
But it’s true! No matter where you are at in your life, you are learning and discovering new things about the world and about yourself. If this isn’t true for you, we need to have a whole different conversation, so you go ahead and email me and we’ll talk.
Here I am, solidly middle-aged, and feeling more excited about the possibilities unfolding before me than ever. Gathering up new information all the time, understanding things I somehow missed before. Like today’s topic- leading by example. It’s not exactly a phrase I haven’t heard before. But the past few days have shown me a few things to drive home the point that what I do, and the way I behave, matter a whole lot…for better or for worse.
I’ve been on a mission to recreate our bedtime routine around here. Cam has been having some trouble at school, and I realized that perhaps our habits at home are affecting her time at school. So, I did something I haven’t done before. I changed OUR routine- not just hers, but both of ours. When I stop work in the early evening, all devices get put away (Okay, this part is mostly just her, but don’t tell her that.). We make dinner together. We do homework. We read. And we are trying really hard to sleep without the TV on. When you have always gone to bed with the TV on, this is harder than you think. But the other night, I did it. I lay down in my bed, and I fell asleep with no TV. The next morning, Cam said “Tonight, I want to try sleeping without the TV.” Hmm…
Last night, I was feeling grouchy, and decided to meditate before bed. I asked Camryn if she wanted to do it with me, and to my surprise she was eager to. So, I lit candles and incense, and let her pick her favorite crystals from the bowl. We sat together and meditated for a short time. She made it all the way through, though she seemed a little restless at the end. But right afterwards, she said- “I liked that!”
Here’s the thing- she sees me doing these good, healthy things that make me happy, and she wants to be a part of that. When I get off work, flop on the couch, and watch TV all night, not only does she think that’s just a normal thing, but I am losing a valuable opportunity to teach her all these amazing things. The value of cooking and eating a meal together. The joy of a good book. The beauty in a small ritual- lighting candles, saying a prayer, sitting quietly and listening to your own breath. The benefit of lulling yourself to sleep without the glare and noise of a television.
I am not forcing any of these things on her. I am simply doing what I enjoy doing, and she is catching on. The good this is doing both of us, because I am getting so much out of seeing her fall into it beside me, is immeasurable.
It does not have to be a child you are raising. Trust me on this. Although they are, of course, the easiest and most impressionable people in our lives, you can inspire change in anyone when you are living a happy, healthy, full life. People love to see this- they are drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Think back to times when you have seen someone whom you admired, or whose life you admired. It’s human nature to want to emulate that behavior.
Today, I encourage you to think about what your best life would look like, and what things you can do now to create that vibe for yourself. Because someone is watching you (that sounds unnecessarily creepy, but you know what I mean) and your example matters. And even if you live in a shanty on an icy tundra somewhere, you are watching you! You owe it to yourself to create a life that makes you happy at the very least. If you can’t be an example to others, be the best possible one for yourself. Your happiness will increase tenfold. Just watch.