Posts in Uncategorized
Fearless In Faith
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I was lucky enough to be able to meditate in the woods today, and in my favorite magical spot despite the intermittent precipitation that fell from the sky in great wet globs. (I thought it was rain, but it looked like hail and felt like s-n-o-w). The protection of a large poncho kept me warm and dry as I hunkered down on a fallen log and tuned in. When I drew my oracle card this morning it told me who to call into my meditation to give me some direction, and they did not disappoint. This is what I heard:

People will have you follow rules they themselves have made, or been taught, because they are afraid to trust their own way. Do not fear following your inner guidance; it will never lead you astray. Ego, fear, greed, hate, or a need for power will lead you down the wrong paths. Believe in your goodness from within and listen to your higher self. Do not be afraid to do it your own way.

I have been struggling with what comes next for a while now. Loving the life I have created, cherishing the peace in my life— I still yearn for the elusive “more”. I came across this post I had written over four years ago now and it fit well with my message this morning, and just in case someone else needs to hear it, I am sharing.

Words from 2014……

Finding my faith again, my spirit.

That part feels so much better. I have connected with God again -- in my own way. And this time, it is good enough. No one will be able to tell me it isn't enough, or it isn't real. Because on that point I am fearless in my belief that what I believe, how I talk to God, how I pray, what I believe to be truth --is perfect. For me.

I don't look like you and I am not you, I am only me. And that means it is okay to find my unique path. My direct line to the creator, the universe, the Great Spirit is perfect just the way it is. I don't need you to okay it. To even believe it. Please don't judge me and make me feel bad for what I believe. We are all on our own unique journey to make sense of what we are taught and what we really believe.

I have stood firm in my beliefs (even as I continue to figure them out) to those who judge my version of faith simply because it is different than theirs. And they have walked away.

Nearly all of my life this kind of abandonment would have left me feeling like I had done something wrong, that I wasn’t good enough. Now I see that letting the wrong people into my sacred space might have been a miscalculation on my part--but it has also taught me a valuable lesson.

Some people are not ready to stand in their truth. Some are actually more fearful than I am. We are all at different points on our journeys to faith, no one is farther than anyone else ---just in different places. Some people will leap ahead only to have to stop and backtrack, some will plod slowly forward making progress, and some will stay in their endless loop, repeating lessons -- staying safe.

I will find my own path and I will be fearless in my faith.

The Courage Within
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I had a really good week.

I made it through a full schedule of classes without my body falling apart, I am getting into a GROOVE with my students at GVSU and I launched my new website. All three are reasons to celebrate, yet the thing I am most proud of is that I am doing them all MY WAY.

As part of the clearing out process that comes with a website/blog switch, some old posts left in my drafts are popping up. I know my last post was also about staying in the wrong place too long and what it does to a person, and normally I would not share two of the same in a row, but I feel compelled to share the message that making change is up to you.

NOTHING, no job, no person, no life situation should ever be allowed to make you feel less than. To make you feel like you constantly have to prove yourself, to make you question your worth, to suck the joy out of you. Life is not meant to be so hard.

Over 5 years ago I found the courage to let go of what was no longer serving me as I set off to follow my heart. It was a scary fantastic thing to do. The result is I now end my days with a smile, a sense of worth/belonging, and knowledge that I make a difference. The dirty feet, messy hair and sweaty clothes I come home with are an in-the-present daily reminder of this. What a difference operating from your sweet spot makes in a person's level of joy. Below is the post from my drafts, I hope my words resonate with the right person today and encourage change.

You are enough. You are worthy and deserving of joy. You have a place in this world that is meant just for you. Find it.


Courage does not mean that you possess the strength to carry on. Courage means that you will carry on when you feel that you no longer have the strength.

This is one of the first statuses I saw when I opened up Facebook this morning. Maybe it was an answer to last night's prayers asking for the strength to get through the funk I am in. Maybe it was just what I needed to realize that I need to find the courage to plow through my current problems and face my fears. After struggling through another sleepless night, and waking up to the same sad, scared, tears-really-close-to-the-surface-feeling I have experienced for the last couple of weeks, I am ready for a change. I do not want to feel like this anymore. It sucks.

I believe in being honest. So I will tell you that my blog has been quiet because I haven't been myself. I don't know what people who suffer from depression feel like, so I won't say that is how I have been feeling, but I think it might be appropriate. I will say I am stressed, beyond stress I have ever felt before. Emotional is maybe not a strong enough word.

It stems from me feeling like a failure. At work. I was hoping by now that I would have achieved a different result, I've certainly tried hard enough. But a year after I began my quest to find my place within a changing industry and a stagnant company, nothing has changed. Honestly it has gotten even worse, for me. Because now that I have tried so hard, and beat myself up every step of the way trying to make sure I was doing the right things, and they haven't worked, I now I feel that I have indeed failed. Not a feeling I am used to.
 
Lately this feeling of failure is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, what I think about during the night when I cannot sleep, and what awaits me when I wake up in the morning. It permeates everything I do. It is wrecking one of my favorite times of year. It is wrecking the joy I feel being around my own family.
 
I hate feeling uncertain, unappreciated, unsure, heck, unwanted. I hate that there is a now a knot in my gut all day long. I was foolish enough to think that people at work would see how hard I was trying. That by me finding the courage to take some chances and think outside the box, it would count for something. That someone in management would appreciate and recognize the lengths I was willing to go to find a solution.
 
Instead my value to the company is even more in question. So much so, I felt like I was summoned to a meeting to get my walking papers last week. I didn't, at least not yet. That is never a nice feeling to experience, but it is especially hard for me because our family size has recently increased by two. At this moment in my life, my contribution to the family income, is crucial.
 
Why is it that after doing a job for almost 24 years, my opinion does not matter? Why is it that after continually attempting to share ideas, and implement them, I am questioned about what I really do, what my role is? Whose fault is it that I am in a "grey area"? Why am I, after 12 years with this company, asked to write my own job description to clear up the confusion about what I do?
 
How can I not be offended by this? And not then take everything said as a criticism? My new boss (who has been at our company for a year) told me he has no idea what I really do. How is that even possible? If someone told you that you needed to start submitting a report every Friday about what you were going to do the next week, how would you take that? I cannot "not be so sensitive". I must be wired differently.
 
I take it like this, I am a failure. If no one can see any value to what I bring to the table, somewhere I have made a crucial error. Did I fail to advocate for myself? To make sure I achieved recognition? I am not motivated by my personal gain (at least not monetarily). Job satisfaction, passion for what I do, and joy come from feeling that I make a difference. Clearly I have failed to make that difference in my workplace, I have failed to matter. And that is my worst fear realized.
 
So, I am facing it. I am now going to find the courage to carry on. This blog will no longer remain quiet. I will once again achieve success. My promise to my family is this: I will not be sad anymore. I will fix this.

When one door closes, another opens.
 
If you find yourself in a similar situation, maybe these quotes will help.
 
He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses his courage loses all. - Miguel de Cervantes

Have the courage to face a difficulty lest it kick you harder than you bargain for. - Stanislaus

Friends Like Trees

At somewhere around the age of 50 I began to remember my very first friends.

The trees.

For my younger years, many weekends were spent up north at our cabin in the woods. In the front of the cabin was a river, and the backyard was all woods. I could play in the back all by myself but could only go out front if supervised.

Trees were the first to listen to me, without interruption, advice, or judgment.

The first to accept me as I am.

To calm me simply with their presence.

They give the best silent advice, allowing you to figure it out from within.

Looking back I realize they never tried to be anything other than what they were. They remained solid, strong, truthful always.

They didn't try to make me like them or try to be something they were not, just to fit in.

They didn't change themselves when someone new came along, so they could impress.

They didn't say all the right things to make me happy then turn their backs on me when things got rough.

They didn't be nice to my face and say mean things about me when I left.

They never tried to make themselves feel better by making me feel bad, or by judging me, or comparing me to others, or ridiculing me.

They remained loyal even when I strayed. Even when I made mistakes.

They held space for me. That is what true friends do.

We should all be more like trees. Like the kind of friend a tree is.

Loyal

Accepting

Understanding

Faithful

Truthful

Patient

After nearly 50 years I have come back to my tree friends, and I am grateful they have quietly been awaiting my return.

If is as if no time (and all time) has passed since I have spoken to them.

Years of life lessons have made me wiser, and also shown me how little I really understand.

The trees hold many answers. After all they remain rooted in this earth long after we leave it.

We should all strive to be friends like trees.

 

 

Dear Girl on My Couch

On and off for the last several years I have been blessed to help "mom" and guide some very strong young women. For a while our couch was a safe haven for those who needed a soft place to land. I affectionately call them the 'girls on the couch'. But they really are pieces of my heart. For each one has taught me lessons I desperately needed to learn. I am thankful for their love and their patience and for how they have shown me the way back to myself. 

(While this passage is written to them---it is really about me and what I have learned along the way. While bits and pieces may resemble a real person on my couch, it is strictly coincidental.)

Dear Girl on My Couch:

Your life is so full of possibilities. Stop worrying so much about the future. Stop expecting the past to change or right itself. Stop clinging to the way you thought it should be or could be and start living and loving the moment in front of you.

Truly, fully, deeply.

There is nothing to be frightened of--nothing you cannot handle. No hurdle or roadblock you will not be able to get around or plow through. Don't let fear hold you back from being you.

Life may not always be easy, and it definitely won't happen like you thought, but that is okay. You will handle it. Especially if you stop resisting and learn to flow with life.

Planning it all out is not the way to happiness. It is a a control strategy your mind has put into place to try and keep you safe from failing. It doesn't work.

At the heart of it all is fear that you won't be able to handle it--whatever that is.

But you can.

You simply need to believe in the power of YOU and never give that power to anyone else. No one else can tell you if you are on track. Only you have that ability.

It will only serve as a lesson in major frustration --as even the most careful of planners will have the unexpected happen to them --it is how you respond that matters.

Never do what others want you to do, especially if it goes against your gut or if it stops you from following your heart.

Let your beautiful compassionate heart that feels so much lead you where it longs to.

Follow it with full trust.

Remember that wounds are temporary, and really just opportunities to learn more.

Scars are nothing to be ashamed of --use them as reminders of battles won. Opposition conquered. Wear them bravely and proudly.

They are simply physical reminders of lessons learned.

Someday you will have wrinkles and sags, and have collected more junk that you will ever know what to do with and yet you will remember the chances you took with a smile. You will treasure those adventures you didn't see coming.

Someday you will be proud of the times you stood your ground in the face of opposition. The times you risked being unpopular, or disappointed those whose opinion mattered most because it was the right thing to do (or say)-- or the times you felt alone and misunderstood, yet found strength and support from within.

You will remember standing in your truth and remaining true to your soul.

And looking back, most likely those times you disappointed others but remained true to your soul will be the turning points of your life.

The major themes in your story. The memories that make you believe in yourself again.

Better your life's road be long and winding with some meandering thrown in--than a straight and direct line to your grave.

Sweet girl what are you so afraid of?

You've been alone before--- and love has found you.

You've felt abandoned --and someone has stepped in to claim you.

You've felt hopeless --and hope showed up to renew your strength and belief in yourself.

You've given your heart away to the wrong person and it has come back a little broken, but still beating. And you've shielded your heart from others who continue to love you unconditionally. Both have left you with a greater understanding of love, a fuller heart.

When times get tough, remember to breathe. Focus on the next step --not the overwhelming big picture, and remember that you are never alone.

Remember that you are loved beyond measure.

That you are worthy of everything you desire.

That you matter and that your presence makes a difference.

And never forget that no amount of darkness inside is enough to extinguish your natural light.

Dear girl on the couch:

I see , honor, acknowledge and appreciate your light within, I always will. You cannotscare me away.

XO

 

 

 

 

 

Free Meditations Recorded By ME

I've been encouraged to try my hand at recording some guided meditations for relaxation. Here are a few to get you started. Each are around 10 minutes in length. It is key to remember that meditation is not about emptying your mind of thought, it is about quieting your mind and reducing the noise from the world around you to hear your deepest thoughts.

So I encourage you to find a comfortable quiet place and see if these meditations help rejuvenate your spirit. Please allow yourself a few extra minutes afterwards to reflect on the the places your mind wandered when it was allowed to just be for a bit. Oftentimes there is an important message that comes to the surface when we are finally able to quiet the noise.

I hope you enjoy these-- and will check back for more as I improve my technique.

--Namaste

 

3 Ways To Living Happier

When I had the opportunity to spend a long winter weekend at my sister’s cottage, I jumped at the chance. We'd gone up there over New Year’s weekend and since then I have been pretty much living the life of a turtle. Unless I was out teaching yoga or attending a meeting, I’ve been hiding in my safe shell staying warm, focused and holed up in my house. I was more than ready to head up again.

Going up north gives me the chance to leave some of my regular life behind and to focus inward, to walk amongst the trees and to operate at a slower pace. Reading, watching inspiring TedX talks, and writing are all part of my meandering through winter weekends up north with little responsibility and no to do lists.

I ran across this video from Sam Berns. It's worth watching. He has a philosophy for living a happy life, and it is pretty simple. I’m paraphrasing here but this is the heart of what he had to say:

  1. Be okay with what you can’t do because there is so much more you CAN do.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are positive influences, those people you want to be around.
  3. Keep moving forward-- there is nothing gained if you dwell on what could have been.

Three months after the Ted X talk on the video, Sam passed away. He had a disease that only a small percentage of the entire world’s population suffers from (somewhere around 200 people currently have it). The genetic disease is called progeria and it causes early aging, it is also hard to keep weight on.  At 17 Sam weighed only 50 pounds.

Although he never looked the way most people think a teenager should look, he more resembled an old man, his spirit remained young and optimistic. He played to his strengths, appreciated those around him who supported his dreams, and never focused on being a victim. While his disease may have held him back from doing some of the things he wanted in life, he didn’t let it stop his forward motion and continued to make his dreams come true by finding innovative solutions to his roadblocks. Something we all should aspire to do. I know his story made me think about how I can use what I have been given to create change in my corner of the world.

Are you living happy? Does your current life resemble the one you once imagined, or are you living a life someone else told you to?

UncategorizedKate DComment
Back to Me

 Back To Me

I once thought I was, but learned I wasn’t.
I once thought I did, but discovered I hadn’t.
Then when I was sure, I realized instead I had no clue.
Life is a journey,
Self–discovery is a continual practice.
I am in a state of constant transformation,
My story is forever being rewritten.
Learning to be at peace with myself has been my challenge.
Uncovering the real me, and believing in her, my constant lesson.
Putting my trust in the universe, allowing life to happen,
knowing all is as it should be, my daily practice.
This practice has turned darkness into light,
Frustration into gratitude,
Control into love,
And changed my labored breaths into glorious swells of light and love.
I am now able to see through the fog. I have made it home.
Back to me.

To Each Her Own

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"What does your mom do all day?"

That is what my son's friend asked as they drove up north to our cottage yesterday. Through the eyes of a typical 18-year-old semi-addicted to her cell phone, a day of sitting alone on a dock by the water in the sun, with a book and a notepad sounded like drudgery. Boredom. Geekness, I think she even said.

To me, it is heaven. Add a little wine and a deep conversation and you have a perfect day.

I had to smile at her response.  How would she know that someday she will want this time. It might be years from now, but she will someday want -- no need-- this time for herself to be still. It will be necessary. Vital. Especially if she is a wife, mom and working girl and heading towards her mid-forties or later.

I realize that I never taught my kids to pay attention to their minds much. At least not the quieting of them. I was more about the doing, unfortunately. Because now I see that understanding mindfulness, and personal time and being able to listen to your inner voice, is KEY to happiness.

Without this understanding, how would she know that someday she is going to want the quiet, the stillness, the alone time to just be, to reconnect with herself?

This summer I have taken advantage of any day like that I can. I know they won't last, I won't be granted this little slice of heaven for long. So I am being selfish.

And I am so grateful for this time doing "nothing"..

Crying for all the Right Reasons

Is your check engine light on? Mine sure was. A few months ago mine clicked on, and stayed on.Thankfully I paid attention to it.

I recognized that something was not right. I was crying. A lot. At work, while driving in the car, when I got home from work, and even in the middle of the night. I would wake up, begin tossing and turning, and the silent tears would start.

"What the heck is wrong with me?" I wondered.  Was I for the first time in my life depressed? Was I going through some kind of mid-life crisis? Was I sick? Or was the new job I had taken on, too much for me?

Why were tears so close to the surface all the time?

I was most concerned about the tears I shed at work. To me they were awkward and a deeper sign of a problem --- they felt like tears of frustration and dissatisfaction, but they came across to others as complaining. It bothered me that I couldn't seem to control them whenever I got passionate about an idea or a situation where I needed help with a  solution. What I thought needed to be done, and what I saw that needed fixing, wasn't as important to others. So not only did it feel like no one was listening, it felt like they thought I was trying to fix things for all the wrong reasons. Like I was being selfish.

I am pretty sure the stomach ache I had constantly was an early form of an ulcer. The ache grew from a sense of misalignment that even I didn't clearly see -- until many months later, after I had time to reflect. All I knew was that I couldn't seem to get away from the stress. And the stress seemed to be felt only by me.

At the time I had no idea that emotion in the workplace is not only normal, but helpful. Generally workplace tears represent anger or frustration at something that isn't right, more than they represent negativity and overall sadness. Check out this video from Anne Kreamer, Author of It's Always Personal: Emotion in the New Workplace.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9Lb3w_vjIE]

Some interesting things I have since come to learn about emotion in the workplace:

•The person crying is almost always embarrassed and wishes they weren’t crying. •The most professional response is to hand the person crying a box of tissue and continue the conversation. The worst thing you can do is to make a big deal of the tears, or to withdraw from the conversation and stop talking to the person, making them feel worse. •The person crying is often a person who has a lot invested in their work, or who is experiencing something in the workplace that goes against their personal values. It’s very important to listen and to ask a lot of questions to determine the source of the frustration. •Dig a little. The first explanation for the emotion may not be the real one. It might only be the most recent one. •Don’t see tears as weakness or negativity. They are very simply someone's reaction to strong emotions.

It is important for the person doing the crying and the manager (or whomever is observing the tears), to move through the emotion and get to heart of the matter. Too many managers, especially men, feel really uncomfortable and guilty when tears are present. They hurry the tears and attempt to alleviate the distress. What is really needed is to connect deeply with the person crying, and to  listen to what they are truly saying. That will build both trust and respect, and give you a good insight into the things that might be out of balance.

It was only after I made the decision to quit my job that I found this video. And with time and distance, things began to make sense to me.

I was crying for all the right reasons. I was in the wrong job (for me) and no amount of effort was going to fix that. And until I removed myself from the internal stress I was feeling, my tears were going to continue; at work, at home, in the car, in the middle of the night --- everywhere.

If you find yourself crying a lot ( especially at work), it might be time to give your check engine light a look.

Happy Anniversary to the One I Love

DSC_0329Today is our 28th wedding anniversary.

It is super hard to believe that it was 1985 when we got married. It sounds like forever ago and yet it feels like only yesterday.

As college sweethearts we were all fresh-faced, in love and completely naïve to what life had in store for us. Two kids, two houses and a cottage later, we are still together. Solidly together. But it has not always been a piece of cake; we've had our challenges, the inevitable ups and down, and yet somehow we worked through them all and have come out the other side -- stronger together.

I recognize that we are among the lucky ones.

I suppose as a kid I always assumed that life got easier as we grew up. Not sure how I came to that conclusion, I guess grown ups just seemed to have things together and made it look easy. I always aspired to be like them. Little did I know that with grown up lives come grown up responsibilities. It isn't easier -- it is just more complicated. The stakes are higher. And there is no one to fix things for you.

Raising our boys, with all their busy hands and minds,  and later endless activities --- seemed like that was going to be the most stressful time in life. Working, being a mom of two little ones, staying involved, keeping the house clean, food stocked, clothes washed, remembering to be a wife, a friend, a daughter a sister --- it all can seem overwhelming when you are in the middle of it. Especially when you are always striving to cross the next thing off your to-do-list---like I always was.

I spent many years trying to get control of things I should have just let go of. Who cares if my house is messy or dusty, or the baseboards have never been washed....are you really supposed to clean them? Who looks anyway.

I've learned the importance of slowing life down, of being present, of throwing aside the to do list when someone needs you, and in not living for tomorrow or next week. I'm learning to linger in the present and make each day count.

I am learning to appreciate the little things. Like...

Walks in the sun. Holding hands. Cuddles. A cat call (or two) when I wear something nice. Generous hugs. Smiles. Belly laughs. A kiss just because. A compliment I wasn't expecting. A "how is your day" text. Comfortable silences. The warmth of falling asleep beside the one you love on a cold dark night.

And the relief I feel from the certainty that when I am at my wit's end, my husband will take over for me--no questions asked.

I love that about him.

His little gestures of thoughtfulness and respect mean so much more to me than expensive presents ever could---finding the coffee made for the next morning, laundry folded and put away, the windows washed, the milk replaced in the refrigerator, my computer fixed, whatever I needed help with done when I get home exhausted after a late meeting. Every small thing means so much.

6 months ago when he said: "Just quit your job. I'm not worried you will find another. You will figure it out." I darn near melted.

When someone believes in you that much all things are possible.

28 years ago today I married my best friend. It continues to surprise me how much more I love him every day. Every once in a while I realize that we are not the spring chickens we once were and I try even harder not to take anything for granted. I want a lot more years with my husband, and I certainly do not want it to whir by as fast as the first 28 did.

My house might never be truly clean again. I don't cook homemade meals like I once did, at least not very often. I'm learning not to care. But I am so lucky that even on the darkest days (and there have been some lately) I have great strength by my side. Together I know we can get through whatever challenges life throws at us.

Happy Anniversary to the man I love. It is truly a joy to be your wife.

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I Lied by Omission

mail.google.comCourage like no other.

It's true, I lied this week.

And, I never lie. But this time I did…I lied about my biggest fear(s).

I said that my biggest fears were: not moving forward, being helpless, or being insignificant (not mattering).

And I left one out, the biggest one. I lied by omission.

What I couldn't say is that my biggest fear is losing one of my children. I couldn’t say it because it  just happened to my best friend from high school. She lost her 18 year old daughter in a tragic and unexplainable car accident.

In the blink of an eye, Addie is gone, and she's never coming back.

It is the scariest thing ever to think about. It’s been two weeks and I still cannot wrap my head around it. I cannot imagine how my friend felt/ feels. I just can't. It hurts too much to try, and it makes it all so incredibly real. I cannot fathom the depths of her pain.

When I heard the news that Addie was gone, it rocked me so hard I could barely breathe. Who can imagine anything more awful than losing your child? I know I can’t.

And it scares me so much I couldn't admit the truth to you before.

But I went with my friend to Iowa to attend the memorial service and I have seen her strength. My friend is a survivor. She will face this as she has so many challenges in her life, and she will survive. Her strength inspires me to tell the truth about my lie.

My biggest fear is losing a child. 

My prayers are with my friend, her son and the many who loved princess Addie.  She will never be forgotten.

 

 

 

Our Time Here is Truly Limited

01951cddc07977a5070b6670e6660c81It isn't often that events in life paralyze me. I'm usually a really good "doer". When life gets crazy I am one to grab control and take action. And yet when the phone rang last weekend with awful news, I froze. I'd purposefully left last Sunday wide open to organize, accomplish and get my newly formed LLC company a little further off go. Instead, it came to a grinding halt.

The phone call brought the news that my best friend from high school's daughter had died the night before in a car crash while away at college.

It was news no one ever wants to hear. She's just a baby...

So many thoughts and feelings hit me at once. I was silent as I processed. Instant sadness. Instant dread. Instant panic. Addie gone? No, it can't be. Then thoughts jumped immediately to Jan (her mom) and Jack (her little brother), oh my gosh how must they be feeling? What now? This can't be real---there must be some mistake---Addie's too young, she has too much life yet to live, she only just figured out what she was going to do with her life...she can't really be gone.

Then my thoughts switch to my own kids, I wonder is Mitch safe? Sadie? Jeffrey? Alec is home with me, so I know he is okay.  I flashback to a picture from years ago of Addie and Jack and my kids on the living room couch. I remember how happy they all looked, their squiggly little bodies tanned and sweaty from the summer sun, and it makes me want to hug them all again, especially Addie.

On her birthday, last New Year's Day, Addie turned 18 and her facebook status was: And thus adulthood begins...Happy New Year! It takes my breath away that less than three months later, her adulthood has ended.

If ever there was a clear sign that our time here on Earth is limited, this is it. The death of a child brings that immediately into focus.

Addie's death will never make sense to me. Or to  those who love her. She was so full of life. She had such big plans. She had yet to achieve so many things.

My earliest memories of her are as a sweet little princess with a huge smile and a ready hug. As she grew up her heart stayed just as big and led her on many wild adventures. Addie didn't really do anything halfway. If she loved, she loved fully. With her whole heart. If she wanted something, she went after it. With her whole heart. Although her time here with us was short, she lived and loved with everything in her.

I will always admire her for that. I'd say in her 18 years she lived more fully than I have in my 50+ years. Thinking of her mega watt smile will always remind me that I need to live that way as well. To stop being worried about the future and to enjoy each and every day. Because we never really know when our last day will be, do we?

I will forever miss Addie's random texts, facebook chats, phone conversations and summer vacation face to face visits. They always popped up at just the right time to teach me a lesson, and to make me think.  Regardless of the drama that followed her at times, there was never a doubt that she cared hugely about those she loved. And she wasn't afraid to follow her heart. I cannot yet make any sense of this accident. Maybe I never will. I hope that someday I will know how I am to use this life lesson, this experience and these memories of her, to help others. Addie would want that.

I hope she is dancing, singing, smiling and hugging her way through heaven right now. Miss Addie you will never be forgotten.

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Introvert or Extrovert?

Have you thought about whether you are an introvert or an extrovert? If you have taken the Myers-Briggs test the first letter tells you what you are. Mine says E for extrovert, and few of you who know me would argue with that, but lately I am not convinced this is correct.I'm listening to Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking and I'm feeling like I identify with as many introverted characteristics as I do extroverted ones. Maybe more. Tonight I will be attending her lecture at Fountain Street Church and I am curious if she will shed any light on this for me.

It has always confused me when my children (or even some of my adult friends) claim that they are bored. I cannot remember the last time I was bored. It might go back to when my first baby, who is now 21, had me up in the middle of the night. Cold and dark, with my "hands" occupied feeding baby, I found myself bored and maybe a little frustrated that I was awake and not accomplishing anything. Used to being a "doer" and a "mover" through life, I resented the quiet, dark, unproductive time.

Looking back on it now, how I wish I would have embraced it. As the noise of life grows ever louder around me, I crave that silence. And yet by all accounts, I am an extrovert. Energized by conversations and collaboration, I came home from a vision board workshop I led a few weeks ago so exhilarated my son was actually concerned I had indulged in too much caffeine.

I hadn't. I was high on connection. I felt on fire.

So why then is an extrovert like me also deliberately searching out quiet blocks of solitude?

While I am energized with action and ideas after a deep conversation with a person or a group of people, I also find that I get easily distracted if there is too much energy around me. I almost cannot stop thinking, therefore nothing gets done. But put me in an office all by myself and I get distracted as well. I get sluggish and search for unproductive ways to get energized; I check a little facebook or read a blogpost or two.  The last place I worked I was given a private office for the first time ever and I rarely felt productive in it. I missed the interaction and the collaboration of others. I could concentrate, but I wasn't very energized.

Confused about me? I am, too. So moving forward, my plan is to keep observing things like when I get my best ideas and when I am most productive. It may be that I truly need a mix of both "people time" for energy, and solitude for focus, in order to accomplish.

Perhaps that is why I am having such a hard time determining my next step. Maybe my ideal job is one I need to create for myself. A mix of collaboration and connection time combined with quieter blocks of solitude. Can you be half introvert and half extrovert?

Hmmm food for thought on an inspired Wednesday.

I'm a Seasonal Girl

I love Michigan for several reasons. One is that I can’t imagine living anywhere that doesn’t have a distinct change of seasons. While I, like most people, think our summer here is too short, I still love me a good season change.
Why?
It keeps things fresh. It signals change. You just get into the routine of summer and before you can even begin to get bored, the nights get a little cooler, the sun sets a little earlier, and the acorns start pinging off the back deck. Sure signs that summer is coming to an end. It is always bittersweet for me, because summer is hands down my favorite season.
But, there is a back to school excitement about fall, even though it has been eons since I was even in school. For me, it’s kind of like starting over. The fun and laziness of summer gets put away with every beach toy and pair of flip flops, making way for lined notebooks filled with a bucket list of possibilities.
I also totally enjoy the wardrobe switch that comes with the season change. Because one thing I get bored (quickly) with, is clothes. A season change usually means new clothes, or if that is not in the budget, at least, different clothes. Clothes that I had put away until they were weather appropriate, and which feel new when I pull them back out of the closet.
As fall arrives I always take stock of my life; my goals, my to do list; my New year’s Resolutions. It’s my wake up call that the year is soon headed for completion, and I’d better re-evaluate how far I’ve gotten on my list of goals. No longer is the sun and warm weather my “golden ticket” to relax, but now fall’s “golden ticket” becomes making some forward progress. And, it usually wakes up my exercise routine, too.
I’ve always been a summer weight gainer. And this year is no exception. The slowness I love about summer quickly morphs into the need to accomplish in the fall. I go back to teaching yoga, attending evening activities, and pursuing new passions.
I go back to reality.
Pretty sure I’d be a little sad if we didn’t have seasons. And leaves turning their beautiful colors. And pumpkin seeds, apples, soups and sweatshirts.
Yep, no doubt about it, summer rules! But deep down, I’m a Michigander. I’m a seasonal girl.
UncategorizedKate DComment
No One Asked Me

Funny how a year changes everything. At this time last year I was just getting used to the idea of taking on another child. Yesterday, I let him go...

My time with him will forever be etched in my heart. Even if it was all turned around to sound ugly and wrong in court yesterday. I know it wasn't his idea to pretend the experience with us was not a good one. It was his mother's. It was clear by her reaction when the guardianship was terminated that she wasn't doing it for the right reasons. Surprisingly enough, she was actually mad. Mad that the "judge" asked Jeffrey point blank if he was asking to go back and live with his mom, in order to take care of her. Obviously the question hit way too close to home and explains why immediately afterward, she stormed out of the courtroom.

Her reaction made it all the worse for me. Because it gave confirmation to me, that her intentions were not honorable. For Jeff's sake I had hoped they would be. I wanted her to want Jeff back because she wanted time with him, I wanted him to be the reason. I fear it was more about something else entirely.
For two months I had quietly been grieving;  knowing inevitably I would have no say, and no control in this matter of such importance. If he wanted to, he was going to go back to her, no matter what I said or who stood behind me in support. Earlier this summer his mother filed paperwork saying we had been unfit guardians. (Although she eventually ended  up dropping her accusations). After court, a mixture of helplessness and anger fueled me through the rest of the day. I asked myself over and over, could I have fought the decision? Yes. Would it have done any good? No. Jeff is 16.5 and the court has no real option but to consider his wishes. Just like when his wish was to join our family to get away from his mother; they listened. In the end, it didn't matter, no one even asked me what I thought. I guess the "judge" could see what was written all over my face. I had no choice but to let him go back to his mom, and back to the life I thought I had saved him from.
How dare she be mad! She got what she wanted, she got Jeff. He sat in court and said he wanted to be returned to her. To cover for her perjury on that original paperwork, he lied in court yesterday and insinuated we took him to Pine Rest because of several attempts at self harm. (We took him to get tested for ADHD and a learning disability.) He told the judge he had gone to therapy while living with us, and had gotten better; in reality I dragged him there three times and he barely said anything.

I'm sorry she put him in a position to have to lie. He knows very clearly how I feel about lying, it can't make him feel good about himself, or his decision to leave us to live with her, knowing that we all know the truth. My heart breaks for that kind of pressure on a kid, no wonder the testing at Pine Rest came back and said he had PTSD---more than likely caused by his own mother.

I remember writing my post about how happy I was last spring because it felt like he had settled in and found a comfortable place here. I look at pictures and see what I thought was a happier kid. One who seemed calmer, and one who smiled and laughed more. In retrospect maybe I was just projecting my happiness onto him, and reading more into things every time he opened up, even if it was only just a little.
Thinking of him now brings tears to my eyes. And an ache to my heart. We will be spending this Labor Day weekend without him, and it will remind me of the promise of last year, and the hope we all had for a better life for him, and with him.
Good luck Jeffrey, I hope someday you realize that everything we did, we did completely for you. Because we believe in you. Our door is always open.
P.S. Didn't I once say that sometimes the hardest part of parenting is letting go? I was right.