Friday, October 12, 2012

breathtaking love

Something happened this morning that shook me to my foundation.  I've been following the journey of a fellow photographer and her battle with ovarian cancer over this past year.  It was heart wrenching, powerful and surreal fight which ended in the early hours of this morning.   I was expecting it, but wasn't expecting to feel so shaken by it.  I know we all die.  I know we all have a numbered amount of days on earth, but I got wrapped up in the power of her story and had nothing but high hopes that it wouldn't happen.

And of course it makes you think of your own mortality.  To be honest the scariest part of being alive is dying.  Of losing someone I love.

It makes me wonder if I'm living the life I want to be remembered for.  This woman had such brilliance and light and love surrounding her at all times.  Even through the pain.  Even in the image of her embracing her young sons as she prepared to leave the sanctuary of her home for the last time and trek to the place where she would spend out the rest of her days seeking alternative treatments in order to live for them.  Though the image is hard to see, it's important.  The love and pain that is part of life is so clearly there.  The fullness and weight of of it all.

It's hard to have perspective about the person you are and what you are doing with your life, until you open yourself up to others.  It's a vulnerable place to be, and so often we shelter ourselves from others out of fear of rejection or abandonment, but as we open up and give trust to others to see us as we are, we have so much love to gain.

I have been on an intense journey to allow myself to be seen lately.  Putting myself in places where my fears live and letting go of everything.  Letting my fears teach me about what is important to me.  Love and acceptance.  Trusting myself to open up with authenticity, trusting others to see my beauty and brilliance and embrace everything I have to offer.  And when that beauty and brilliance isn't embraced, I find others who are able to see me for everything I am and aren't afraid of it.

There is a soft awakening inside as I've unfurled into my new world.  I feel more loved than I ever have before.  I spent so much of my life on the defensive, never feeling good enough, worthy enough of the love I desired.  It's amazing that at this point in my life, just by being me and loving who I am, I am attracting so much love into my world that at times it feels overwhelming. 

It makes me think of a word that I learned of recently.  Pronoia.  Antonym of paranoia.  Instead of the fear that everyone is out to get you, Pronoia is the belief that everyone is out to love you.  Quite a shift in energy, isn't it? I think one of the most powerful acts of being human is allowing ourselves to be loved.  We live so closed off, sheltered in our boxes and small worlds, huddled over our machines and devices that connect us to the love we desire.

Giving others access to our hearts in the physical world though, trusting them with our tenderness, fears and dreams...that's a challenge. The reward is being filled with that which makes us feel alive.  Passion, creativity, energy, connectedness, love, acceptance, authenticity.  That's what I want my life to feel like, every day of the rest of my days.

I think that Jen had that in her life.  I think her boys will live on, understanding what love means, that it's the foundation for forgiveness, acceptance, joy and truth.  I think love is her legacy.  That's such a beautiful thing.  I only hope that when I'm gone, I'll have done such a wonderful job of loving myself and everyone around me, that their souls will be bursting with that contagious energetic love that infects people with bold laughter and deep joy.  I don't care about a spotless house or labels on jeans or expensive toys.

I want breathtaking love.  I'll spend the rest of my life learning how to give it to as many people as I can. <3

Friday, September 21, 2012

parallel lives

Lately I've been actively trying to depend a little more on myself for my sense of self and less on others.  Outside of my husbands reassuring words, my kids late night kisses, my friends adoration.  Leaning more on myself to define the edges where I stop and they begin.  Creating distance.

As a result, I feel like I've pulled away from everyone enough to feel a cushion of space between myself and everyone.  It's actually a really great thing.  My thinking is more independent and free flowing and maybe even more creative.  The space feels like the removal of expectations of "should" and replacing it with "want".  Going inward and searching for my own path and identifications. 

I think as mothers, it's so easy to get so invested with our roles as caretakers that we completely neglect that we have our own characters, desires and journeys.  It's scary to face down our true selves outside of what we identify with so greatly.  There is safety in being a mama, we are needed on so many levels.  Being a wife, there is a constant flow of support and love.  To step outside of that and discover what you are in the beyond, is like staring into a well of all of our vulnerabilities and fears and pulling up the bucket, accepting whatever happens to come up.

Even when something frightening rises to the top of the well, I'm able to recognize it came from somewhere deep inside where it felt safe and protected, and now that it's seeing the light of day, it's my job to give it permission to be free and fly away.  It really is a game of mental and emotional chess.  Making choices that I've never had to make before means facing a lot of unknown possible repercussions.  But instead of ending up in a constant state of emotional chaos, what I'm finding is incredible clarity about who I am, my strengths, my fears, my wounds, and getting to know my inner warrior.  It is fiercely empowering.

In allowing myself to live a more parallel life to others in my life instead of wound up and tangled within them, I'm also discovering a side affect of allowing other people to have more responsibility for themselves (since I'm not claiming ownership of them anymore).  I have noticed a lot of patterns regarding people I seem to attract to my life, and many of them are emotionally needy.  I think this is because part of my nature is to get wound up and tangled into people I care about, like a big ball of codependency, it just grows and gets bigger and desperate and clingy the more I feed into it.  So separation is forcing me to create more healthy boundaries with people. 

The truth is I love feeling needed, and I love feeling special, so I tend to just pour myself into other people until I have nothing left to give...and if they don't return that energy, I wind up crushed and rejected.  Parallel living means I give people my authenticity and energy while saving some for myself and my own desires and discoveries.  This is a slower process because it's been so engrained in my life for so long.  At least I can recognize when it's happening, and I can begin to redirect myself accordingly.  I'm still trying to figure out the feeling needed and special thing without compromising my boundaries and need to be parallel.

First step in realizing a lifelong journey of healing and self love I guess.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

leaning into discomfort

While it's true that I don't shy away from discomfort, I normally don't go seeking it out.  I just don't like to live my life in fear of being uncomfortable, so I keep my comfort zone boundary loose and flexible.

This past weekend I attended a women's empowerment/yoga retreat called Camp Catalyst, organized by Shine Global, a non-profit organization that empowers girls and women to be catalysts for change in their lives and in the world.  Held at the Caldera Art Center, right outside of Sisters Oregon, the facility is breathtaking, very Frank Lloyd Wright-ish, built right into the wilderness, organic, with little surprises hidden into the landscape.  The earth beneath this amazing spot on the planet vibrates with possibilities and you can feel it when you step onto the property.  Our lodging was Sioux style tipi's right next to Blue Lake, the second deepest lake in Oregon.

I signed up not knowing a soul in attendance.  Not really ever having done yoga before.  The workshops were very appealing to me as someone with a lust for self knowledge, as was the idea of escaping into the wilderness of the unknown.  An adventure in being seen, putting myself out there and embracing my authenticity.  Feeling whatever came up.

Right away I began to piece together my new social world.  Everyone but a few people heralded from Bend, and most everyone knew each other or at least were familiar, as they'd gone to the same yoga studios.  There was an ease I felt between the others, which amplified the awkward space I felt between myself and them.  To close the gap, I reached out, I smiled, I engaged strangers, and when I felt like it, I retreated and gave my introvert reassuring pats of love and acceptance.  "You're there....I feel you.  We're okay.  Trust me."

The first night, the journey into the wilderness of the unknown was so intimidating that by the end of it, I was vibrating with so much nervous energy I thought I might burst into a million pieces.  The "ice breakers" were more like "comfort zone busters" as we were made to pair randomly with strangers and communicate with deep eye contact, ripping off the shields of self preservation, throwing ourselves into a veritable puppy pile of community; heart, soul and mind.  There was no place to hide, no place to blend into the background.  We had to expose ourselves with this vulnerability.  We had to dance within it.  I don't know if anyone else felt as naked and raw as I did that night, but as awkward as I felt, there was also such energy and power and brilliance in that room, I felt like I could glow in the dark.

I slept hard beneath the towering old growth of trees.  They lulled me to the sleep.

The workshops tapped directly to the soul.  There was no time to get comfortable.  It was very much like diving into the ice cold lake.  Shocking and jolting. 

More lessons with being completely vulnerable with strangers.  Less than strangers now, we had gone through the ritual the night before to become sisters.  There was some familiarity growing.  My introvert was feeling more peaceful.

Storytelling workshop first with writer, editor, community-builder and storytelling extraordinaire, Chelsea Roff.  Spilling out my thoughts into a tumbling flow of words. Talking about them.  Seeing the emotions build up in the recipient of my words.  Tears even.  I was struck at how open the woman I read my story to was.  Maybe the ritual of vulnerability the night before was to bring us all to the verge of our feelings so we could communicate more openly and honestly.  Stories began to sprout in my mind and I became so inspired to tell them!

Purpose workshop next with Milena Fraccari of What's Your Tree.  More storytelling and exploration into a deeper sense of purpose and passion.  As I was opening myself up again to a different woman, who happened to be in all my workshops so far and also shared my tipi, I could see her blinking and nodding in agreement.  When I was done, she told me this was her story too.  Like, almost exactly like her story.  The more we shared, the more common ground we discovered.  Suddenly I felt like I realized why I was there.  The synchronicity made sense.

Unlocking Your Creativity workshop with amazing artist Julia Marie Junkin.  Again, with my new soul sister Beki.  The synchronicities kept becoming more evident.  Julia was so charismatic and so insightful that at one point I was scared to make eye contact with her, for fear that she could view all of my secrets in one glance.  She was insanely connected to each person she talked to.  And she talked and looked into the eyes of every single person in that class.  I just watched in awe and humility.  There is magic in every moment.

Last workshop was Yoga in Action with the Off the Mat team of Claire and Davian.  Yoga poses with prompts for deep introspection and stopping to journal every few minutes.  I loved it so much!  By the end of the workshop I had written down clues to my purpose here on earth.  It was *that* good.

That night was more socializing and getting to know my new tribe.  My soul sister and I ventured off campus and hit up the local lodge for a bottle of wine and smuggled it back to our tipi for an after dinner adventure.  When the dishes were done and people started stumbling back to their lakeside tipi's,  Beki and I gathered up our plastic wine glasses, threw on some warm clothes and sat under the giant moon and stars on the dock and sipped up our wine and feasted on stories and laughter.

The next day we all sat in small circles and did more work towards putting all of the insight from the weekend into a plan of action.  One by one we stood before our community and announced what we had become catalysts for.  When it was my turn, I walked to the middle of the room and spoke with a smile on my face.  "I am Amy, and I'm a catalyst for human connection through storytelling." My introvert was beaming.  There were no more fears of vulnerability.  I was proud to share my heart and soul.

Saying goodbye was bittersweet.  I was anxious to get home to my family.  I missed my husband's voice and my kid's snuggles.  But I felt so connected to my new tribe, and I was also a little nervous to lose momentum, to forget the lessons, to get distracted by life and forget about the storytelling. 

I learned so many things about myself this weekend.  About how we are as humans and what makes us feel connected.  And that vulnerability is connective and community building.

I was reminded of how we have such a short time on earth as these versions of ourselves and to not wait.for.anything.you.desire.  You may only have this one, last moment...so embark on your adventures, satisfy your curiosities, unlock your passions, nurture your loves, share your talents and don't be intimidated by vulnerabilities.  That's where your truth lies waiting for you to discover it. <3

Be open to yourselves with loving hearts.  Life's an adventure.  Lean into discomfort, and listen for what it tells you.  I'm already looking forward to next year's adventure.




the angel card that chose me during "Finding your Tree".

My soul sister Beki and me. <3 Photobombed by Sara. ;)

my tribe. <3

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the shame shift

Sometimes I wonder how much of my internal conflict is the result of my constant struggle with attempting to attain perfection, or fulfilling some sort of social expectation to be better, to be growing, becoming, evolving, or stepping fully into my power and embracing my full potential as a human being.  To live at the highest performance level with no regrets or fears.

It sounds absurd to even say it, but I have to wonder if it's true.  We are so aware of ourselves in comparison to others in our social groups, professional competitors and coworkers, local communities, spiritual families, and our closest friends and family.  Always comparing, contrasting, evaluating, judging and extrapolating information about ourselves and our identities based on these analyses.   Honestly I don't know how else we would survive in our society and cultures.  It's just how we as humans operate.  We're meant to live in communities with other people.  We're meant to be part of a social structure, to belong and have a place within that structure. 

In that structure though, I feel (and I think this is a normal feeling) like there is an unwritten expectation that as individuals within that structure, we need to be striving towards constant excellence, to be evolving towards the best possible versions of ourselves.  The pressure of perfection.  And in doing so, we create The Best Society/Nation/Culture. 

Well, we can't.  We're all human and helplessly full of flaws.

It's interesting that when we talk about cellulite, wrinkles, fat rolls, scars, emotional insecurities, fears, (basically all the imperfections that make us human), we call those "flaws".  As if we started out perfect, and slowly over time, our mistakes eroded our power, worthiness and attractiveness to the point where we now spend our entire lives attempting to make up for it.  We cover ourselves in creams and spend thousands of dollars on therapy and surgery, we pour ourselves into Self Help Books, trying to understand why we're so fucked up.  We join support groups and create secret forums to connect to other imperfect beings, ousted from perfect society.

We have phrases like "Keeping up with The Joneses", fashion magazines that tell us we must have a specific type of body to meet the social expectation, we have picture perfect ideals about how to raise children, how to keep a home, what makes a house a home, how to be successful, how to have the perfect career, how to find a mate (how to keep a mate), how to make everything from scratch, how to eat, and how to live.  It's all manufactured in the imagination, and everybody buys into it.  Pinterest says we can and should have it all.  Facebook makes us think others do have it all.  But, nobody does.  Nobody has ever nor will ever meet the social expectation of perfection.  And because of that, we all carry with us a certain amount of shame.

We have shame that we don't fit in because we have flaws (or wildly enough, because we don't think we have flaws).  We have shame that we aren't "doing it right".  Shame that we're crippled financially, shame of our strained relationships, shame of our emotions and depression, shame that we somehow caused our misfortunes, shame that we aren't more outgoing or friendly, shame that we are too loud and boisterous, shame that we aren't good enough for someone else, shame that we have fears and doubts, shame shame shame. 

The flip side to this is to assume that by feeling this shame, we somehow had the power to control all these outcomes.  If we would have done ____, then ___ wouldn't have happened.  Our husbands wouldn't cheat, our wives would be happy, our children wouldn't kill themselves, our fathers wouldn't abandon us,  our mothers would accept us.  Or the step beyond that:  our children wouldn't have been born with a disability, our sisters wouldn't have cancer, we could have stopped that fate, we could have saved them. 

How does this fit in with society expectations of perfection?  It doesn't.  We don't talk about it.  We don't talk about the fact that we are a culture that sweeps things that make us feel uncomfortable, sad, scared, ashamed, grief and anger under the giant perfect rug of our society so nobody ever feels discomfort and sorrow.  We are a culture that doesn't know how to relate to each others on a deeply honest, forthright, intimate level.  We plow ourselves with food and alcohol and drugs and sex and anything that makes us feel good and alive.  We become pleasure focused.  We spend hours looking at the perfect pictures of perfect things on Pinterest in order to be "inspired" to get out of our miserably flawed lives and finally evolve.  It's so hard for us to admit we need support and help.  That would seem weak and needy.  It's so hard for us to be seen as vulnerable and fragile and needing help...especially if we're talking about depression or mental health.  There are not many things worse in our Perfect Society than to be crazy.

I have lost two close friends in the past four years because of shame.  It's a debilitating disease that tells us we don't deserve happiness, we aren't worthy of love, and when someone sees our deepest darkest secrets, we need to run, duck, cover and escape in order to preserve the idea of our own perfection.  We need to be seen as blissed out, perfectly happy and immeasurably strong.

As I think about my own journey, I am painfully aware of the struggle of perfection and how much I hide away from relationships, from being vulnerable, from even being really truly "seen" because I carry with me so much shame.  It's one thing to be aware of it, it's another thing for it to be visible for others to observe and even reflected for me to see.  The exception being that in a two dimensional world of blogging and photography where it's just me and the computer/camera, I'm very open and vulnerable.  When I'm out in the 3-D world of real time face to face communication where there's the physical nuances of body language and real time communication, I feel a fair amount of anxiety and emotional and mental clutter as I process the experience.

I don't think that shame in and of itself is absolutely wrong. I feel like any emotion has a valid purpose that teaches us about ourselves and our value system.  I think it's natural and normal to feel shame when you're aware that you've caused pain, injustice, or wronged someone.  When you've inflicted injury.

But that isn't where it ends.  Shame extends to places where our dark secrets exist - that place where we feel that we aren't perfect and somehow deserve unhappiness because we have the gall to be flawed.

I think we as a culture need to shift our focus from a perfection focus to an acceptance focus.  Really, a focus on humanity (treating ourselves and others humanely with respect and dignity).  Maybe it's the hippie in me talking, but I think the "perfect" society is one where we all have a value, a clear place, where our individuality and uniqueness is cherished as a beautiful complexity, where we're culturally supported through our grief and sadness, where we ask for help without hesitation, talk about our real struggles and vulnerabilities, work together as a society so that everyone can enjoy a healthy life (healthcare isn't a commodity), where the media celebrates courage and security, where we can open magazines and see all body types, where we actually feel pride in our physical flaws and honor the spirit of being imperfectly human and the only pressure we feel is to be our authentic and amazing selves.


I know I speak a lot in extremes here, and that my views are pretty polarized.  Take it for what it's worth.  If this message speaks to you even on a small scale, I hope what you glean from it makes you think about your own pursuits of perfection and how you can live a more authentic life.  I hope you can trust more in that little voice inside of you that says you are worthy, loveable, unique and enough. 

If the point of life is to love, and love is messy, then life is messy.  <3  Let people into your mess.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

mastering courage

Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty 


Courage is one of those things I feel I need to master, because I feel so full of fear about so much in my life, and I can see how easy it would be to curl up, retreat and obey that fear.

I am not one to give into fear though, so I do try to find that inner courage to push through it.  I'm not successful all of the time, but my brain won't settle until I've at least attempted to resolve it.  There's not much I hate more than giving into fear and anxiety and saying "I can't."  Can't is my 4 letter word.  Thus my constant quest to reach goals, improve myself and let go of fears.

When I think about courage, my mind conjures up all these images of heroes and strength-soaked people with little or no fear or doubts.  One of the definitions of "courage" I found even said "to face danger without fear."  I have to argue with that though.  How does anyone with a heart face a dangerous or painful or difficult situation without fear?  I think the key is bravery.  Being brave enables us to live courageously.  Bravery is that little pat on the back that whispers confidence into our hearts and enables us to push past that fear and anxiety and conquer those obstacles with courage, to persevere to our goals, trembling but sure.  So while I may meet my goal, allow myself to be vulnerable, or withstand my fears, it's not a comfortable thing, and I wish I had more confidence to move more courageously through my life.  I don't want facing my fears to be a PROCESS, energy draining and something to work through.  I want it to be second nature, I want to recognize that twinge of fear, let out a little giggle, and keep going.

Practically all of my struggles with courage and conquering fear involve allowing myself to be vulnerable.  Socially, professionally, intimately.  What I desire is acceptance, love, feeling important in my communities, cherished in my family, and success professionally. 

What arises for me when I begin to feel vulnerable in these situations are my gremlins:  fear of rejection, unworthiness, shame, abandonment, removal of love, feeling unlovable, detached and disposable.  There's a lot of nastiness to work through to allow myself to truly evolve, open and embrace what I want - fully and with confidence.

Again, I think the key is to practice!  One of my goals on 43things.com is to master courage by practicing it daily.  But instead of having some vague goal that I'll never remember, I want to be as specific as I can. 

So specifically, these are some things that I feel will help me practice courage daily:

  • Having the courage to pay attention to when I feel my fears:  What are they telling me about myself?  Instead of ignoring them, listen to them and then deal with them.   Instead of feeling shame about them, honor them, understand where they come from, but don't allow them to make your decisions.
  • Having the courage to speak up when something doesn't feel right. 
  • Having the courage to face rejection by putting myself out there professionally, socially and in my relationships.
  • Having the courage to honor my authentic messy self without shame.  Invite people to get to know the real me, chaos and all.
  • Having the courage to hear someone's ideas, opinions and thoughts respectfully without trying to control or change them.
  • Having the courage to be an active listener, feeling empathy and love, without attempting to "fix" them.
  • Having the courage to smile more.
  • Having the courage to pick up the phone.
  • Having the courage to make eye contact.
  • Having the courage to not compare myself to others.
  • Having the courage to take action towards my goals, no matter how small or big.
  • Having the courage to be accountable to others.
  • Having the courage to make my own decisions and think for myself.
  • Having the courage to respect, love and have empathy for myself and where I am in this moment.
  • Having the courage to honor others through my gratitude and generosity.
  • Having the courage to ask tough questions that make me feel completely vulnerable and trusting that I will survive and thrive onward, no matter the outcome.
  • Having the courage to let go of the outcomes.
  • Having the courage to heal my heart from the wounds of my past and forgive those who have hurt me.
  • Having the courage to forgive myself for wounding myself and others.
  • Having the courage to apologize and seek forgiveness.
  • Having the courage to make healthy decisions for my body, soul and spirit.
  • Having the courage to refuse to be invisible.
  • Having the courage to be silent.
  • Having the courage to let my children make their own decisions and be their own people.
  • Having the courage to believe in myself.
  • Having the courage to give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • Having the courage to ask for help and believing I'm important enough to get it.
  • Having the courage to believe I'm worthy, inspirational,  totally lovable, important, interesting and fun to be with.
  • Having the courage to believe I have everything I need in my life to be happy, fulfilled and content.
  • Having the courage to identify myself as an artist without disclaimers.
  • Having the courage to leap into the unknown with confidence.
  • Having the courage to make sure my kids know I'm not perfect.
  • Having the courage to make sure my kids know they should never try to be perfect, only perfectly themselves.
  • Having the courage to learn something new and start at the beginning.
  • Having the courage to feel freedom in my life, my choices and my future.
  • Having the courage that no matter what happens, I'm surrounded by people who love me and accept me unconditionally.
  • Having the courage to introduce myself.
  • Having the courage to take all of my children on a vacation, possibly in a van or airplane where occupants are unable to leave, and trusting that though chaos may ensue, we'll all arrive safely and not straight into the custody of police or child protective services.
If you are reading this and desire to live more courageously, I challenge you to make your own list!  What scares the poo out of you but is totally exhilarating to think about accomplishing? Take the leap with me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

a week without screens

Hi my name is Amy and I'm an internet addict.

From the time we get up, until the time we go to bed, there's someone looking at some sort of screen around here.  Whether it's OPB in the morning for the early risers, the teen on the phone, me on my computer (or phone), evening news on the tv while I make dinner, kids hovered around the computer or xbox after school, etc...our faces are stuffed full of media, entertainment and a constant flow of electric information daily.

I used to do "Turn the TV Off Week" when the kids were smaller, but we hadn't done it in years.  Last month I discovered "Screen Free Week", and decided to jump on the bandwagon.  When your 4 year old acts like he might implode if he can't use your phone to play "Chicken Boom" (Angry Birds) right.now.or.he.might.die..., your other kids say things like "There's NOTHING to dooooo" when you try to have screen free time, and your teenager's limbs are growing into it's cellular device, it's time to pull the plug.

There was an equal amount of sheer terror and desperate relief as I anticipated a week of distance from it all.  I was stuck on a merry go round spinning out of control and preparing to jump, tuck and roll.  And maybe kiss my ass goodbye.  I had so many fears about it:  Would the kids kill each other?  Revolt against me in a parental coup d'etat?  Complain nonstop?  Would I end up crying myself to sleep at night frustrated and overwhelmed from the children suffering so?  Would I be able to avoid using my Rights as an Adult to bend the rules and sneak in a little Mad Men?  Could I trust myself?  And then there was the big one for me...the voices in my head were quick to remind me that I've tried this before, and failed, miserably.  So I had some doubts.

I preemptively decided to ask Reggie to take the modem.  It wouldn't prevent me from going onto my phone for internetz fixes, but it felt like a good step.  I also went onto my phone and deleted all my "frequented" apps.  Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.  I decided that I would still allow myself to check email and text and call but that's it.  No surfing or dwelling in cyberland.

Amy Meets Meatspace

Monday, April 30th:

I normally wake up with my phone alarm, and spend the next 20-60 minutes laying in bed catching up on Facebook.  That morning, I turned my alarm off and stared blankly at the barren screen for a second, turned over and snuggled with Max.  It was just that easy.  The morning went totally smoothly.  No complaints, no demands for reason or new parents.

I got the kids to school, and then rounded up all the books I could find to return and took Max to the library for Storytime and making things right with the Librarian.  Storytime and crafts, check.  Fines paid, check.  Scary books sitting on the shelf, check.  Checking out new books for a week of staving off boredom and possible delirium, check.

scented markers crafts.  The Library Wins.
 
video
wait for it.........wait for it.........


























We spent the rest of the day and that afternoon running errands, staying busy, reading books, doing laundry and snuggling.  It's like a puppy pile any time I sit down...they all fight over the Privileged Spot next to me.  Or on me.  Zero personal space.  No bubble.  Drowning in kid hair and sinking into vibrations of their voices as they read aloud on my chest and the warmth of sweet little bodies next to me.  I loved it.

That night as we were sitting down at dinner together, Aric was recounting something that happened that day and he said "Wait, what day is it?"  I answered and he replied "It's STILL only Monday?  This is the LONGEST DAY EVAAARRRR!"

I had to laugh because it's true.

The time warping phenomenon that occurs when your face is stuffed in a machine is remarkably obvious when you remove said face from said machine.  Time resumes at a fixed rate.  And that rate...is slow.  I rather enjoyed life at a pace that allowed me to get so many things accomplished and still relish in my sweet beautiful life.

Tuesday, May 1st:

Morning went smoothly, nobody complained or showed any signs of screen withdrawals.  In fact, everyone seemed to wake up easier and was in a better mood.  Probably because nobody stayed up late watching tv or numbing their brains with computer games.

I took Andy over to Clark to see about getting him tested into Running Start, but it ended up he didn't have his ID on him, so we did other things instead.

Like went to the DMV to renew my tags and get a new drivers license for my new married name.  Well, it's not a new married name, I've have it since Jan.1, 2011, but I never got off my ass to change it officially.

After Aric got out of school we went to Freddies and picked up some organizing things and spent the rest of the afternoon organizing a few things and just hanging out.  I pretty much kicked ass and still have plenty of time left in my day to mellow out.

That night, Aric, Soph and Zach played restaurant and created menus for Reggie and me and made us dinner in bed.  It was so hilarious and I was so impressed by their comical genius.

Dinner Theater.  They acted out a "Moon Minute" where they mimed out landing/walking on the moon. Broadway, hoooo!

Poor little sweeties suffering under the oppression and tyranny of Screen Free Week.  aka future food industry workers...

Wednesday, May 2nd:

Days Survived Without The Netz: 2
Nights Staying Up Worrying About Lack of Netz and Thusly Destroying Childrenz: 0
Number of Times I Stared Blankly At My Phone: a few. ;)
Number of Times Max asked if it was 10o'clock yet:  a million (he is normally allowed to play Minecraft after 10am) 
Number of Times I Thought of Funny/Amazing/Insightful/Important Facebook Status Updates: 2948.5



Max and I took Andy back to Clark with his ID to take the Running Start test.  Which of course he passed with flying colors because my kids?  GENIUSES.  They can't seem to remember to brush their teeth, and matching socks are soooo last year, but they can pass tests with brilliance to spare.

Biggest and Smallest together, hand in hand, going into college.  Tearful nostalgia in 3...2...1...

Max dancin' around campus, with his Dora PackPack, like Fred Freakin Astaire.

things got a little goofy
Later I met up with a banker to do some bank stuff I'd been putting off, worked out and spent the afternoon in a cocoon of kidlets recovering from icky bank poo.

Thursday, May 3rd:

I spent pretty much the whole day at Andaluz Waterbirth Center working on a photography project for them, so by the time I got done with the afternoon shuffle, picked up pizza and settled in for the night, I was ready to watch some tv and chill.  But I ended up reading some book about Curing ADHD instead and making a plan for us all to go on a gluten/sugar/dairy/everything free diet, which I told Aric about, afterwhich he went storming around the house like a banshee wailing about how ridiculous I am. (I talked to the family psych about it, and decided not to...with no complaints from Aric!)
stopped in traffic on the way to Andaluz.  It's like Facebook in Meatspace, leaving me little messages of love and hope!

Friday, May 4th:


Details start getting fuzzy towards the end of the week, as the trauma of the abrupt lifestyle change began to wane.  I did have to put some work on a project, which I needed internet for.  I also needed to get onto Facebook to get details about a couple upcoming events happening the next day.  By this point, I was enjoying the internet sabbatical and did NOT want to even get on my computer, let alone face Facebook at all.  And though usually I would have been tempted to sneak around and see what everyone had been up to (and secretly question how on earth anyone could be functioning without me up in their Facebook faces...), I was ALL business...posted what I needed to, got the information I came for, and I was OUT of there.  I didn't even stop to glance at the 75 notifications glaring at me.  I spent the afternoon finalizing a project, sent off a few emails, and shut that computer DOWN.  Then I looked up and it was 5pm, my shoulders and neck were jacked up, and my eyes were totally bugging out and strained.  I was exhausted.  The house was a wreck.  The kids were antsy.  So naturally, Reggie took me out to a movie.  I didn't even consider that this would have been a total cheat on SFW, but it totally was.  Hi there, big huge SCREEN!  We saw The Lucky One, which was a sweet little movie with Zac Efron acting all sexy and macho (but in a really humble, I-don't-know-I'm-a-total-hottie kind of way).  Then I felt kind of weird having sexy feelings for a barely out of teen years High School Musical actor.....


Anyway.


We came home to this:
When you don't have tv, you have The Holy Mother of All Forts.



Saturday, May 5th:


I spent the morning/afternoon doing a boudoir party at a friends house, and it was so awesome to feed that little hole that was hungry from being abandoned by Facebook!  Sophia was off to a slumber party after that, Zach disappeared to his friends house, as did Aric.  Which left Family 2.0 to celebrate Cinco de Mayo ourselves.  I pretty much gave up on SFW when Aric called from his friends house begging to play video games.  I figured, the kid CALLED AND BEGGED ME...he could have just played and I wouldn't have been the wiser, but he chose to call, and I wanted to support that stroke of awesomesauce! 



Sunday, May 6th:


Aric spent the day with his girlfriend's family, going to church, having lunch, going to see Journey 2 and dinner before coming back home.  I picked up Soph from her sleepover and hauled down to Portland to take Andy to his hair appointment, shuffle kids around and meet up with a friend home recovering from surgery.

Mr. Awesome coming out from his hair appointment sporting a shiny new mohawk! :D

Fresh from a sleepover, where they didn't really sleep at all.
I got home and Reggie took me trekking through our very overgrown, forested property looking for property markers.  We ended up getting kind of off target, but Reggie kept saying "Just head uphill!  North is uphill!" like a crazy person.  We ended up totally scratched up and I was completely grossed out by all the mossy tree stumps I kept stepping through (imagining stomping on wasp/spider/ants nests), but we survived.  Which is kind of a metaphor for the week.


We were minimally prepared, got a little off target at the end, but it was a great, fun adventure, albeit a few snags. Haha!



Parting Observations on Going Screen Free



I had a couple of pretty strong observations during the course of the week.


#1.  It's extremely easy to avoid life when you're checked out on the computer.  Even when I'm not on the computer, I'm still thinking about it constantly.  I was shocked at how much I really do live my life online and how it rules my time, thoughts and attention.  Which leads me to #2...


#2.  The Internet (Facebook in particular) is an amazing accelerate for ADHD symptoms.  Even being on Facebook for a few minutes after being screen free for 5 days was completely overstimulating.  I mean, you have your main news feed updating constantly and moving down, the side bar on the right ticking away with every minute update on every comment you can imagine, the updating ads, events, notifications popping up on the bottom of the screen, the number of update notifications on the top of the screen and on the side bar on the left, etc.  When I'm on the computer, I must tune everything else out or I'd go nuts.  I've taught myself how to hear what is going on in my environment (kids talking/playing/fighting) and not actually process it.  Even though I'm hyper focused on what I'm doing online, my attention elsewhere is completely and utterly shot, and when I stop, I'm drained.  Which leads me to #3.


#3.  There are serious physical side affects from screen time.  When we are so intensely tuned into Facebook, playing video games, and computer games, we are hyper focused on that activity.  Eyes, posture, shoulders and neck are totally tensed up, and then coming away from that leaves the body sore, the energy drained, and the mind exhausted.  I snap at the kids, my breath is shallow and stressed, my eyes pound from straining, my back hurts and I'm one grumpy girl.  Which leads me to #4.


#4.  When I'm grumpy, stressed and overwhelmed, it directly affects everyone.  I think this is why we didn't encounter a huge amount of fighting and stress that I was expecting.  I had energy for everyone, and everyone seemed to handle themselves using more inner resources.  When things did get intense, I was able to help them resolve conflicts with more compassion and humor...things I totally lack when I'm mentally exhausted!


I think my biggest lesson was the time warp factor.


I got a little sad thinking about all the time I waste online and how quickly time flies by.  Offline, time was generous, and the kids and I got to spend a lot of time talking, cuddling, reading, making smoothies, working together, coloring, and just being a connected family.  It felt amazing to have plenty of time to get done with I needed to do, and still have time for more things.  We went to bed earlier, got up in the morning easier, and went about our day with plenty of energy.


Being back on Facebook, I'm careful to remember the habits I made, and I'm trying hard to keep that time limited.  It's hard, but there's so much to do...and I don't want to waste it!







Saturday, April 28, 2012

practice make imperfection

It really is kind of ridiculous how much of my life I spend making lists and thinking about things to change so that I can be happy with myself.  One big one:  Self-Discipline.  I suppose if I actually stopped making lists and HAD self discipline, I could accomplish ALL THE THINGS.  Oh, the cycle of self defeat, what a cunning opponent you are!!

One of my last blog posts was about synchronicity and how I'd discovered Brene Brown and her amazing clarity on shame and worthiness.  Then a dear friend commented about how another friend (Savannah!) lent her the book "The Gifts of Imperfection" by...of course...Brene Brown, and that she'd share it with me.  So the 3 of us met up and I got my hands on the book.  Like I said I'm not surprised any more when things like this happen, I just take it as confirmation that I'm on the right path.

I started reading this book, and I'm noticing how much she speaks my language.  I have heard this said a few different ways before, but for some reason, hearing it the way she described it really hit home.

(these are the first lines in the first chapter)
"Practicing courage, compassion, and connection in our daily lives is how we cultivate worthiness.  The key word is practice.  Mary Daly, a theologian, writes, "Courage is like-it's a habitus, a habit, a virtue:  You get it by courageous acts.  It's like you learn to swim by swimming.  You learn courage by couraging."  The same is true for compassion and connection.  We invite compassion into our lives when we act compassionately towards ourselves and others, and we feel connected in our lives when we reach out and connect."

And then I got hit by a giant "DUH" brick.  Self discipline isn't something I'm magically going to be gifted by the gods watching from above on their little holy clouds.  Just like I practice procrastination, laziness, worthlessness, loneliness, indulgence, unacceptance and shame in my daily life; self discipline and all those things I CRAVE and make lists for need to be practiced.  Daily.  I need to create new neural pathways and walk back and forth through them so that the weeds are beaten down and that path becomes the new familiar way and easily recognizable.  It might be hard work at first....but when things become habits...you don't think about them allllll the time, you just do them.  You don't need to think about how to swim each time you get into the water...your body remembers how to swim and so it does naturally. 

I don't remember it being all that difficult to create habits of sugar addiction, laziness, complacency and procrastination.  I think that was the path of least resistance to be honest. 

In order to get to a place where I can start checking things off my list...I need to feel the resistance, and press on to practice my new skills:

Determination:  Staying focused and committed to goals and projects to COMPLETION, not perfection.
Perseverance: Keeping faith in myself via compassion and resilience
Gratitude:  I'm one lucky bitch.
Consistency: How new habits are born
Success:  Dude, SMALL and EASILY ACHIEVABLE goals please!
Courage:  Vulnerability is a strength
Authenticity: Don't hustle for approval.  Love that which sets you apart and makes you unique.
Optimism:  I GET to have this life, I don't HAVE to do it.

In short, whatever we practice daily is what we're the best at and what defines us.  Our daily habits are reinforced by what behaviors and beliefs we nurture.

Practice doesn't make perfection.  Nothing makes perfection, because perfection is a huge lie.  Practice merely makes you good at something.  I'm really good at being trapped behind shame and fear because that is what I practice.

And very soon, I'm going to be really good at practicing how to reach beyond my comfort zone, getting kicked in the teeth, picking myself up, reaching further, and dancing my way through this evolution which a huge smile on my face.

Check  out my current list and watch my progress over at 43things.   Make your own list (be SPECIFIC with your goals!) and share it with me!  Let's cheer each other on!

And if you're serious about it, read this great article on how successful people treat goals!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

teenage redux

Oh man...I hated being a teenager.  Maybe "hate" is a strong word.  Replaying those short films from my memory of that time, that small blonde girl with the black Camaro and nervous smile is still familiar to me.  Wishing she could disappear into the hallways, but pushing herself to be seen.  Fighting back fears to find love and connection.  Floating from circle to circle, having no idea about who she was or where to find herself.  She spent so many of her early years seeking self worth in the safety of friendships (especially those who struggled with their own identities and worth!) and co-dependent relationships. She became a wife at 18 and mother at 21.

I have never lived one day on my own.  I moved in with my fiancee from my moms house.  When we divorced, I had 4 kids under the age of 7 living with me.  I have never been independent.  Nor have I traveled and gone on the adventures of a carefree young adult.

So now that I have 2 teenagers, with a 3rd making an approach for landing, I've made it my main mission in life is to provide opportunities for them to explore who they are, discover their passions, and prepare them for a life of adventure.

Only, who knows if they want that adventure.

Andy is 16 in a couple of weeks, and after years of seeing him struggle in school (boredom and complacency), we decided to drop him from high school altogether, having exhausted all other options.  To spread his wings, so it were.

We recently discovered that he is indeed eligible to enroll in Running Start, a program where he can attend community college for free in his Junior and Senior years (2012-2014).  Technically he's a homeschooled student now, though his "curriculum" is now creating dubstep music, facebooking, beating Twitter records, keeping rock star hours, and playing music and video games.  I have nudged him into Running Start because he can take two years of college for free.  And that's right in our price range.  He's a fantastic writer and musician, so of course I'm going to encourage him to explore that.  In college.  For free.  He also wants to travel he tells me.  So I have now researched and acquired flyers and brochures for all kinds of student-based traveling programs.  Of course, most of them require us to have a bottomless checking account, but I think we've watched *just* enough bank robbery movies to put together a solid crew and nab a few mil.  Or we'll have to do something crazy like SAVE MONEY or force him to pay for his own travel and education.  Oh god...the student loans...don't make me think of that right now.  Maybe I'll just find some far flung friends or relatives to ship him off to for a while to live in a foreign land and travel around with no particular agenda...only just to experience his life unencumbered. 

The other teenager is dead set on going into the Navy as soon as that Principal hands over his diploma.  I can see him running off stage, stripping off his cap and gown to reveal a Navy uniform like some sort of teenage military superhero and running straight into the arms of his Commanding Officer and heading off to to some far away base, only to be heard from in coded messages about becoming a Seal and going on special ops and telling me he may or may not be home for Thanksgiving.  So of course I'm planning on taking him down to the recruiter to discuss that future and how to prepare.  And now I have awesome ammo to "encourage" him to a more responsible lifestyle.  "NAVY SEALS DON'T SLEEP IN! NAVY SEALS DON'T MISS THE BUS!  NAVY SEALS ALWAYS DO THEIR HOMEWORK!"  And by god, that is working.  Which is scary and simultaneously reassuring.

I'm trying EVERYTHING to empower them to follow their passions and to tap into that fertile soil of their minds to plant seeds of self worth and confidence.  I don't want them to be 37 years old still trying to figure that shit out.  At the same time, it's a careful tightrope to walk.

Am I encouraging them to do things based on a strength or gift I see in them, or am I encouraging them to do something so that I can vicariously live through their carefree adventures?

Do you know how HARD it is to see these little humans growing up, taller than me even, almost ready to take on the world, and have to LET GO of the expectations that they are going to go through Door A or Door B?  I'm moving through some weird transition from a parent to a coach to a mere bystander, cheering them on and holding up signs that say "THE END IS NEAR!!".  Yeah...I'm *that* guy.

Have I mentioned before that I *might* have control issues?  Yeah.

I chose my path, and I turned out fairly awesome, so I don't want a do-over, god please NO.  But there is this sense of awe that the world is all right there in front of them, and they can choose any old path they want.  It's a lot of pressure.  For them, AND for me.  I have a little bit of panic going on that they'll bag it all and end up searching for their self worth in toxic relationships, lifeless careers and the bottom of a bottle.  I just have to hope that all this preparation I'm doing with them now will help them be better equipped adults, able to conquer their fears, chase after their dreams, and find happiness within themselves, no matter what they end up "doing". 

AND DID I MENTION FREE COLLEGE?





Thursday, April 19, 2012

synchronicity

Warm up your coffee for this one...it's super long but so worth it!


Throughout my life, I've experienced little things that make me go "hmmm..."

Humming a song and then turning on the radio only to discover that song playing.  Thinking about a person and then hearing the phone ring and discovering the person on the other end is the person you had just been thinking about.  Once I was actually thinking about a person so intently and a really strange thing happened.  I was sitting in my kitchen thinking about her, and suddenly this little musical box that she had given us which was sitting on a shelf in my kitchen started playing.  I had to wonder if there was some sort of cosmic cause and affect thing going on.  That lead to a series of spoon bending experiments and lottery ticket buying.  Alas, my spoons are still straight and the lottery ticket buying has had little return, except for what I'm considering "investments into my state's education system". (as the lottery goes to higher education grants and such...)

I've had a couple bigger, more private and highly emotional things happen that are simply beyond coincidence and are downright weird.  Any remnants of skepticism within me continues to shrink to the point where I'm wondering just how many "winks from the Universe" I need to receive in order to stop questioning and start believing.  Not that these synchronizations would ever become a mundane part of life, but they are becoming so common that I don't freeze in stupor of astonishment that the very fabric of the Universe is unraveling before my virgin eyes.  It's harder and harder to stay naive and shocked.  In fact, the winks are becoming more meaningful as they land a bit closer to home.  It seems like it's becoming less random.  Some just seem like weird coincidences, and others seem to be absolutely life affirming.

During the last meeting of my Self Nurture Group, we wrote letters to ourselves.  From our Wise Self.  Savannah would mail these letters in a couple weeks as a simple reminder to nurture and love ourselves.  I got into a really sweet, knowing spot in my heart and wrote my letter.  I sealed it up and then gave it to Sav.  Then we all got to choose a random Goddess card (like tarot cards) as a fun little boost.  The cards were all facing down, so we didn't see have an opportunity to see what we were choosing.  We drew straight from the heart and if there was meaning, just to take it in...

Here's what my letter said:

pay special attention to the underlined words.  I REALLY wanted myself to see these words.

And here's the card I drew:

Kind of looks like she is sprinkling summer over winter, doesn't it???

You know from my previous few blogs, I'm struggling a little bit in my personal life. ;)

My previous post was about processing a situation that has brought up some huge insecurities and how that left me feeling vulnerable and unworthy.  I am committing to focusing on the lessons I've learned and loving with my whole heart, but it still stings when I see things on Facebook that trigger those feelings of pain and rejection.  Facebook in general has lately become a place where I "dwell" and not just visit, also, so in order to regain more balance in my home life (which I tend to avoid because...HELLO, CHAOS OF SEVEN PEOPLE!!!), regain peace in my mind and in a move of self preservation, I decided to slip quietly into a Facebook fast.  I desperately wanted to focus on sitting with myself, my thoughts, and see what came up.

The synchronizations started in the morning when I opened my email.

From DailyOm Horoscope:
April 18, 2012
An Unadulterated Peace
Taurus Daily Horoscope
You may feel exhausted and tense today, drained by recent catastrophes or periods of intense labor. Since you are likely having difficulties relating to people with patience and tolerance, you may feel compelled to withdraw from the world in order to restore balance in your mind and soul. However, your decision to spend time alone, away from your loved ones and peers, can leave you feeling isolated. Should you find solitude more lonely than relaxing, remind yourself that there may be aspects of yourself that you can only rediscover in a calm and quiet environment. If you endeavor to slip into solitude as you might curl yourself into a soft blanket today, you may find that its embrace becomes comforting and a source of grounding energy.

Often, slipping into solitude represents the simplest way of combating feelings of isolation. While seemingly counterintuitive, it is only in peaceful seclusion that we can access the complex web of emotions that forms the root of the sense of disconnect plaguing us. Stillness encourages contemplation, and tranquility offers comfort as we delve deeply into our inner landscapes. Freed from the demands heaped upon us by others and social schemes that compel us to play roles, we remember who we truly are and can reconnect with the values we deem precious to our experience. Such periodic cerebral journeys of understanding can help us live a life of unadulterated authenticity. The time you spend alone today will complete you, reminding you that you are a whole and capable individual.
So DailyOm can see directly into my soul.  WHATEVER.

I spent the morning enjoying the kids, doing the morning shuffle, and making a plan of attack for cleaning the house.  The kids had a half day at school, which left me with an afternoon free of shuffling kids and time to dig into housecleaning and cleaning the cobwebs from my brain.  I surfed TEDtalks app on my phone for something to listen to while I scoured the bathroom.  I clicked on a talk by Brene Brown and pretty soon I'm sitting there stunned again as she starts talking about she's done all this research on those feelings of unworthiness, vulnerability and shame and how intertwined these emotions are.  Do yourself a huge favor and watch this video:



Here are some excerpts that GRABBED me.

"I wrote a book, I published a theory, but something was not okay -- and what it was is that, if I roughly took the people I interviewed and divided them into people who really have a sense of worthiness -- that's what this comes down to, a sense of worthiness -- they have a strong sense of love and belonging -- and folks who struggle for it, and folks who are always wondering if they're good enough. There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they're worthy of love and belonging. That's it. They believe they're worthy."

Then she went on to talk about how she took it a step further and investigated what those people who believe they ARE worthy have in common:

"What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and -- this was the hard part -- as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection. "
Short version.  Those people who feel strong connections to others believe they are worthy of love, and are courageous in their authenticity.  Interestingggggg....

"The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating -- as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, "I love you" first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They're willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.  "

And here's a big clue to unhappiness....when you numb vulnerability, you numb happiness.

"And so then I went back into the research and spent the next couple of years really trying to understand what they, the whole-hearted, what choices they were making, and what are we doing with vulnerability. Why do we struggle with it so much? Am I alone in struggling with vulnerability? No. So this is what I learned. We numb vulnerability..." 

"And I think there's evidence -- and it's not the only reason this evidence exists, but I think it's a huge cause -- we are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history. The problem is -- and I learned this from the research -- that you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can't say, here's the bad stuff. Here's vulnerability, here's grief, here's shame, here's fear, here's disappointment. I don't want to feel these. I'm going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. (Laughter) I don't want to feel these. And I know that's knowing laughter. I hack into your lives for a living. God. (Laughter) You can't numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle."
 "This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult -- to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough," then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves."
 For me, hearing these words yesterday really revealed a lot of truths to me.  If you've read "waking up willa" (and the one before this) for long, you know vulnerability isn't an issue for me.  I rather enjoy blogging about things that make most people cringe.  I have people tell me frequently how they appreciate my transparency and they are experiencing something similar but couldn't articulate it properly or felt too vulnerable to let it be known.  It's like an introvert high-5. But there's a difference between being vulnerable to the ether of blogland (no real risk) and being vulnerable in "meatspace".  Face to face with someone where there is a SERIOUS risk of rejection, pain, hurt and loss.  That's dangerous.  To be DEEPLY seen? Holy freakin crap....

God, I love it when things like that happen, it just LIGHTS up my soul.  I needed to hear Brene's wisdom yesterday.  And now I have a new life moto:

 
Another interesting thing happened.  I was reading a comment in one of the posts on her blog, and saw that the comment author was a "Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach".  I'd never heard of that and it sounded interesting, so I googled it.  The more I read about it, the more my brain tickled with sparks of visions of seeing myself as a creativity coach.  I'd researched becoming a life coach before, but it never quite felt "right".  Not saying this feels totally right (I fantasize about doing all sorts of things like this...), but I've been quietly sitting with it.

Today my DailyOm Horoscope:

April 19, 2012
A Life Examined
Taurus Daily Horoscope
Your willingness to reflect upon your life's journey up until this point can become your greatest asset today. Whether you are in an introspective mood or seeking specific information about choices you once made, you may find yourself compelled to spend time apart from the company of others. As you search for the insights buried in your personal history, your perception of time can change, leaving you prone to becoming lost in thought. By simply making an effort to be more cognizant of the direction of your musings, you can consciously manipulate the course of your reflection to ensure that you understand how your past has influenced the person you are today.

Our lives, when thoroughly examined, yield great stores of wisdom that aid us as we push forward with short- and long-term plans. Frequently, we forge ahead, putting little stock in the insights of the past, convinced that all we need to know will be revealed to us in the future. However, the events we have lived through and the choices we have made as we struggled to gain understanding can tell us much about how best to triumph over life's many challenges. Through trial and error we learn to move through existence consciously and recover from the setbacks that threaten to derail our progress. A few moments of reflection can give us the strength to face difficulties head-on, with reason as our only tool. As you muse today upon all you have been and done in the past, you'll find that you are prepared to meet your future.

So now I'm paranoid that DailyOm has hacked into my isp and is compiling horoscopes based google searches.  Seriously, how often do you hear the word "muse"?  I find it totally serendipitous to hear "As you muse today upon all you have been and done in the past, you'll find that you are prepared to meet your future." in a time when I'm searching for purpose, clarity, peace and considering a career as a Kaizen-MUSE Creativity Coach. Or maybe at this point I'm just intently LOOKING for synchronicity.  Either way, when I can find meaning in things, it is totally inspiring.  Maybe I'm not just a particle of dust blowing through the Universe after all... 

One last little tiny synchronicity for today:  As I was writing this post, I was listening to Iron and Wine, and these lyrics spoke out to me...FROM THE GREAT BEYOND!!!  ;)

Curiosity far greater than the fear
It felt so simple, so prodigious, at the same time

Incredible things are happening in the world
Magical things are happening in the world

Across the river there are all kinds of magical instruments
While we really keep on living like monkeys
 Well played, Universe.

Friday, April 13, 2012

pure love

It happened when I was on the road yesterday, doing the morning kid shuffle.  My mind swirls constantly, shifting from one thought to the next, things I need to remember, things I need to forget, dreams, responsibilities, mindfulness, etc.  When I'm at home, I have a thousand things to distract me, but when I'm driving alone in the van, it's just me and my swirling thoughts.

There were a few moments yesterday when I let myself dwell in what I was feeling in relation to a situation I'm in with a friend, which has left me  hurt, confused and jealous.  I know these feelings are situational and the result of disappointment from an expectation that I had.   I'm damn good at compartmentalizing these feelings so nobody really knows what I'm going through.

I had put myself out there and bore my soul with the expected outcome of us working through it and getting to the other side.  Instead, there's been a silence that has stoked my fears of unworthiness, insignificance and being unlovable and left for better things.

I've done so much work to move into my Wise Self over the past 6 months with the help of amazing friend and Life Coach Savannah Mayfield and yet I have been absolutely stuck in trance of self pity.  It's been so dark and lonely in that place, but I've been able to process a lot with Sav, and clinging to my beautiful, wonderful, constantly empathetic and compassionate husband and basking in the safety and constant flow of his amazing loving energy to keep me going.

Still, it hasn't been enough to resolve the hurt in my heart.  I've been making little attempts to reach out and bridge the gap, to feel out her truth and gauge her reality.  In those attempts, I admit I'm fishing.  Looking for something, anything that lets me know that there is hope and maybe she just needs more time.  It's manipulative, but still heart felt.  Logically I can separate how I should feel and how I'm feeling, but my heart is hurting, and that's been a challenge to reconcile.

I've grown tired of the trance, and yesterday while driving down that beautiful highway towards my home, my heart opened up to that expansive space and I began to shift out of that trance that has held me captive in darkness.  I started hearing my Wise Self again.  I remember Sav's words say "Trances are constrictive, depressing and fear filled, and when you're in your Wise Self, you feel expansive, full of possibilities, creative, and are literally oozing love".  In order to move out of my trance, I needed to let go of the outcomes that I desire.  I needed to accept that I love my friend and care and don't need anything in return in order to continue to feel that way.  I needed to stop withholding my own love out of fear of rejection or as a punishment.

So this morning I took it further and actually made myself some notes about this revealing.  I wrote that the experience of expressing pure love must not be done so for the purpose of manipulating love, attention or acceptance, but instead expressed with a pure intent.  Pure love means telling others how I feel not for the purpose of them meeting my expectations or desired outcomes, but truly for the cause of expression alone.  Letting others process and filter that information through their own reality and not attempting to force my reality into theirs.  Pure love means leaving hurt feelings out of my expressions of love, so as I don't taint the authenticity of that love.  Pure love means continually practicing letting self pity, jealousy, anger and regret flow through and out of me, and holding compassion, delight, happiness and solace close to my heart and soul and dwelling in beauty, light and hope.  And in doing so, I'll attract so much pure love back to me, I'll be overflowing in it.

In so many ways, the time I have recently spent in this old familiar trance has been a huge reminder of how immature my growth is in this particular area.  I have so many fears attached to love, and relationships are a test of that.  I know I have lots of work to do in order to get to a place of mature love where I can open my heart up more easily and take the risk regardless of the fears, and I can be more wise about who I share that mature pure love with.  I think I'm beginning to see how I can grow and help myself dwell in that beauty and love and hope with an open heart.  However, the transition isn't as painful as staying put.  I refuse to let that trance become who I am, filled with fear and pain.  I am my Wise Self.

My Wise Self is bright and brilliant, so full of light and love that she illuminates everyone that comes into contact with her.  People feel energized yet peaceful around her.  She inspires and uplifts, smiles constantly and laughs with her full body.  She's strong.  So strong.  But there's a gentleness about her that makes her approachable and organic and real.  She still cries and gets frustrated and feels pain, but she has resilience and knows how to process the pain while still nurturing her spirit and beautiful soul.  She refuses to compromise her values and truths, but acknowledges that those may evolve over time and experience.  She's both sassy and sarcastic, funny and humble.  She makes deep lasting connections and practices mature, pure love daily with her adoring husband and precious kids.