Posts tagged hope
At Rock Bottom is Grace

It is my experience that you don’t truly transform, until you hit rock bottom.

Or until your heart cracks wide open and you are finally no longer able to keep change from coming in. 

I absolutely remember my rock bottom and when my heart cracked open for good--it was loud and painful. I was in the midst of several big life changes, a new and (stressful to me) job, my youngest child growing up and fighting to do things his way, and a search for a greater meaning and purpose to my life.

I was alone in the house sobbing uncontrollably on a Friday night after a long and stress-filled week. I felt helpless, hopeless, and so far from myself I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Everything felt off. Wrong.

A mixture of shame, guilt, frustration, anger and all the other lower energies took control of me. The sobs came from deep within, the kind that leave a trail of snot and spittle on your shirt and sweat pits under your arms. My stomach hurt, my head hurt, and my heart hurt.  I remember being really scared I would not be able to summon the strength to pull myself back together again, to get myself under control if I let it all out. But keeping it in was no longer an option. My gut was burning.

What I see now looking back is that the breaking of my heart on that day in November of 2012 was not a falling apart to render me helpless, but a cracking open to heal. It was an answer to my prayers for wishing to live happier and freer. It was a letting go of the bottled up negativity that had held me hostage for way too long.

Lying on the basement floor, feeling broken and exhausted, I opened my eyes to the sound of another human being asking me what was the matter. It was the person who I might at the time have been the most worried about, most scared for and certainly the one I was feeling the most disconnected from. It was my youngest son Mitch.

At the time he was struggling with his own set of life issues, his having more to do with the friends he chose to hang out with and the choices he was making about his future. Mine revolved around my need to stay in control, to do things perfectly and to keep my Type A, control freak death grip on life in place. It was no longer working the way I was used to, and I was lost. I had fallen into a deep well of self-doubt and I couldn't find a way out.

His concern, his gentle words and the tender way he touched me, lifted me up and gave me courage to let it all out. I opened my eyes and out spilled all my regret over how I hadn't been the mom I had always wanted to be, how I had tried too hard to keep he and his brother safe and maybe in the process suffocated them and how everyone and everything was falling apart around me. Worst of all I was a mess and I considered myself a failure.  From my low place all I could see was what I had done wrong in my life.

There was no doubt I had gotten lost from my true self somewhere in the busy years of being a mom, wife and working woman. Yet beneath the controlling, judgmental, hypocrite I had become, Mitch still saw hints of the real me underneath the layers of pretend.

And with grace greater than I ever expected from him (or thought I deserved), he said the words I needed to hear. That I was not a parenting failure, that I was not a complete failure as a human being, that he, in fact, wanted to be more like me. Didn't I know that he wanted the kind of marriage, family and life his dad and I had for himself someday?

I looked out through my swollen eyes in disbelief and wonder, and I probably cried harder at that point, but the tears that streamed out were somehow softer, cleansing maybe, and I felt the tightness in my belly and chest begin to loosen. I believe now that this brief exchange at my rock bottom moment created a small space in my heart for the real healing to begin.

As Glennon Melton author of Carry On , Warrior so eloquently said: the call from God doesn’t just come once, if you missed it the first time (or the second or the third) he will find a way to reach you. To offer you that door again to see if you are ready.

I was clearly ready.

Up until that point in my life change had never my friend. Since the same old hadn't worked for me in years, it was time to try something new. When you hit rock bottom the only way to go is up. Changes began in me and around me from that point forward. I won't say the changes were always easy, I experienced many things I never thought I would, and yet I found myself dealing with them in much healthier ways. 

Slowly but surely the broken pieces of me fit back into place --- putting me together in a way I had never been before. Or at least in a way that I did not ever remember being. Creating a better version of me. A more authentic, stronger, happier me.

There is no doubt grace finds a way in through the actions of others, through unexpected acts of kindness and sometimes even through what seems to be a hopeless situation.

For most of my life I feared rock bottom. Now I see it was the solid ground I needed to get to before beginning my ascent.

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A Foundation of Strength

Life has an interesting way of teaching me lessons. As I work to right some of my old patterns of behavior and practice wholehearted and positive living, I seem to be tested at every turn. This year started off with great peace and a feeling that the loves of my life are healthy and well. And then things got rough.

We all  have those times where things literally fall apart, right? The dryer stops heating up, the furnace starts making funny noises and stops heating, the mailbox gets run over, and all of that is stressful and costly to fix, and you complain a little but understand that these things happen. And then the really big thing happens. You walk by a wall one night and discover wetness, then mold, and then this happens.

Followed by more discoveries of leakage. And this happens:

And now what once was your sanctuary AND your workspace resembles an abandoned building.


I've learned a couple of valuable lessons in short order. Things can always get worse, nothing lasts forever and ignoring your intuition can be costly. But I have also learned that I am very thankful for heat and a home, and jobs that allow us to make enough money to fix things that break.

As we dig into the source (s) of the water problem, it feels a lot like the digging in process I use to help others (and myself) move forward. We peel back layers of the house to get to the place where we can rebuild from. A place where there is a firm foundation. In the case of our house we need to dig down to where it is dry and solid and strong enough to hold us up. In rebuilding a human it is mining down to the place where we are most pure, honest with ourselves and free of untrue beliefs.  We cannot repair the damage for either in a day, but we can begin one step at time.

For the record, I'm good digging in with humans, the house mess just stresses me out.

I wish for everyone to be solid from the ground up. And I am aware that the process takes time and dedicated effort---yet I am also aware this is a process which does not allow you to cheat the corners or rush the reconstruction. You must begin at the beginning and work from there. One positive step at a time.

Who knew the healing of a structure whether it be a human or home involved the same slow process? To get to the root of the problem we must dig down deep to the foundation, smashing through walls and other barriers, revealing the truth, assessing the damage, then carefully extracting the old and sifting to finding the solid within. The beauty of all the work is in the rebuilding, the opportunity to create what you really wanted all along.

I believe anything strengthened in this way remains solid and steady enough to peacefully ride out any storm that comes next. I know this because if I had not spent the time fixing the structure that is "me", this current situation would have devastated me. Right now I am tired, and a little anxious, but confident that we will come out with a positive solution (and a healthy and clean house).

At times we all struggle, and in that place we are not alone. What we need to remember is that we always have access to peace and love and an inner strength that can fortify us, provided we know how to access it.

I am determined not let this setback shake my foundation. I remain thankful for solid roots, love and an open and trusting heart. I will let love guide me. Let hope lift me. And let faith fuel me.

This quote from Prayers To The Great Creator by Julia Cameron spoke to me this morning:

The Universe Funds Me With Strength

In times of adversity, I remember I am strong enough to meet the challenges of my life. I am equal to every situation, a match for every difficulty. Sourced in the power of the Universe, I allow that power to work through me. I meet calamity with strength, I have stamina. Rather than draw on limited resources, I draw on the infinite power within me that moves through me to accomplish its good. I am fueled by all the love, all the strength there is. Loving strength melts mountains. I am ever partnered and supplied by universal flow. Knowing this, I do not doubt my strength, I am strong and secure.

Finding My Essence

Big Star Lake

You have the power within you. Those words might be the only mantra I need for life. Now that I realize their truth, they are my answer for everything.

I've been wearing the ruby slippers for years and hadn't realized their power. My power.

To do Anything. Everything. or Nothing.

Why did I spend so many years giving up my power to others? Questioning my own intuition. Thinking I needed someone else's buy in to my ideas to make things happen. Why didn't I trust myself more?

I do now and I am not about to give up that power again.

In recent weeks I have recognized my ability to be fully me. To say yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no. To go forward when I recognize that I am on the right path. To be connected with others when I want to and also to recognize my body's warning signs when I need time to dis "connect", or to as I call it "turtle in". To see the positive in the situations around me where I once might have focused on the negative.

Life is so much less complicated now. The drama is outside of my bubble. I have an inner peace that rocks.

Today I sat outside and appreciated the beauty of the lake before me. I appreciated the fantastic life I have been blessed to live. My beautiful talented soft-hearted boys, my gorgeous husband, my often crazy family who make me laugh and cry, and the many "others" who think that I am something special and call upon me to be their safe haven.

The sheer wonder of such a great life caused tears to leak. No one was around to see or notice, so I'm sharing that secret with you.

I'm not sure why I ever lost the ability to appreciate every. single. thing. about my life, but I am sure glad that gratitude is back in full force.

Happy. Happy. Happy. And so fully blessed!

The Forecast for 2014

For my last question of the week in 2013 I had hoped to come up with something great ---instead I find myself a little unsure of how to end this.

Growth is never completely linear -- and I recognize that not many people made it through 51 questions with me. Either real life got in the way, it was too hard, they lost interest or maybe there didn't seem to be any visible forward progress --- whatever the reason, I know not many people made it all the way to the end. For those who started with me and stuck it out, I thank you. For those who joined in late, I encourage you to go back to the beginning and finish.

I believe I mentioned before how it wasn't always easy for me to post a Question of the Week --and especially to do it on time. In the course of making and keeping this commitment in 2013, I discovered a few things.

1. Asking a question of the week is a lot harder than I thought it would be -- as my husband and kids will happily remind me of any chance they get, I originally thought about asking a question of the day....eeek! I learned that while I am always up for answering questions myself, choosing which question to ask a general audience is hard for me. I prefer the ability to ask questions one on one -- and to tailor the next question to the specific person and their answers.

2. I realize I don't like having a set deadline for my posts--never before was I a procrastinator at anything, yet  I found myself procrastinating on my question of the week often. I also did not like feeling that I couldn't release a post anytime the spirit moved me, who knew that I would be weird about deadlines?

3. I now understand that true growth comes in bursts and spurts, and it is not without set backs, disappointments and failures.  However, once you can look back and see how far you've come, it is worth every bit of effort. (Take note those of you who gave up on the questions -- you can always try again).

4. We all have a unique perspective on what being "brave" means. Some have said that I am brave to write what I write on this blog, as if they'd be too afraid to do it. For me writing about my life and what I have learned isn't brave at all, it is just truth. And since truth inspires me, and writing my truth is a way for me to process my experiences-- I feel it should all be shared; the good and the not-so-good. 

Question of the Week #52 / What is the bravest thing you have done in 2013?

Remember that everyone's idea of brave is as unique as they are, so all answers will be different. I am in awe of the true bravery I saw in others around me this past year. Some examples:

My almost daughter who took off on a true adventure joining AmeriCorps for 9 months, leaving everything and everyone she knew and traveling to 31 states while living out of a duffel bag.

My friend who survived a physical attack from the boyfriend she loved and who had to endure the heartache and guilt of letting him go and ending the unhealthy relationship.

My youngest son who faced many decisions and demons in 2013 and who grew up much faster than I wished for him to.

My friends and loved ones who face illness head on and do it with positivity, grace and unending faith.

My two friends who I have watched wrestle with their own grief and emerge on the other side to be beacons of light for their families who are losing, or have lost a loved one to cancer.

The many teachers I have met in the last year who face huge roadblocks and resistance from the children in their classrooms, yet who return to work day after day in an attempt to lead by example.

The bravest thing that I have done in 2013 is to learn to love myself for who I am, with all my faults and imperfections. I realize that every day I am not going to be the light I wish to be in the world, but if I always strive to be the best version of me I can be, I am doing pretty good. And that is all a person can ask of themselves.

Thank you to those who have traveled this last year with me. I see bright things for your future and mine, and am positive that 2014 will be extraordinary for us all.











How Hopeful Are You? / Question of the Week #22

photoThis week's Question of the Week came to me after skimming through a book that a friend recently loaned to me. (Thank you, Alana).

When I flipped through the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown for the first time, one of the sub headings Hope and Powerlessness jumped out at me. For the past four months I have made it a point to pay close attention to "signs" that continually happen around me. For example, words that keep popping up in random conversations, or similar ideas/suggestions that come from friends, family or new acquaintances. When I consciously notice them, and follow-up with some research, those "signs" often lead me in new direction. Some "signs" become almost impossible to ignore once you train yourself to listen for them.

So the word powerlessness or its shortened form "power" has cropped up a lot lately in my deep discussions. The need to find our power within, to  listen to the voice that comes out of that power, and maybe most importantly to act on it. To me, that moves a person from a powerless situation into a power "full" one. I hate being stuck, helpless or watching others struggle or become victims to their life's circumstances -- I am all about finding the power to move on and to move forward. So I read (yes you correctly assume I did not start this book at the beginning) a little further into the book and learned something new I hadn't thought of before.

Brown explains that like most people, she always thought of hope as an emotion --a warm feeling of optimism and possibility. But has since learned she was wrong...

Hope is not an emotion; it's a way of thinking or a cognitive process. In very simple terms, hope happens when:

  • We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go).
  • We are able to figure out how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I'm persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again).
  • We believe in ourselves (I can do this).

Hope is really a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities.*

This was enlightening to me as I never thought of myself as a hopeful person. Realistic is the word I usually choose. I consider myself a resourceful problem solver, never a pie in the sky hopeful person.  I often confront a problem head on with a list of realistic solutions and expectations of what I can achieve.

I was pleasantly surprised then to read her words and realize then by her explanation: I am a hopeful person. I really like that. It lifts my spirit to say that I am hopeful. Especially when it relates to what I can personally achieve. Most days I believe in myself, know where I want to go and have a plan to get there. Even if lately that "plan" is to follow my heart and see where it takes me, that in itself is still a plan, right? I am going to use the word hopeful more often.

So I pose this week's question to you:

How Hopeful Are You? / Question of the Week #22

And more specifically how hopeful are you (about yourself)?

In my years of observation of the world around me, I think it is often hardest for some to have hope about themselves. It somehow seems easier to see potential and possibilities in others, while feeling overwhelmed or even critical of ourselves. I know I often hold myself to higher standards than I hold others too. So a sense of hope can easily be flip-flopped  to a sense of hopelessness if things are not going well. And when we reach the stage where hopelessness is prevalent, we start to lose confidence in ourselves, and in turn lose our sense of self-worth.

Do you truly believe in yourself and your abilities? Are you full of hope when you think of your future? Or does this area of your life need some work?

Hope: to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

I would love to hear your answers.

Cheers to finding hope in your life!


*Excerpted from the book The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.



Begin Living the Life You've Imagined

goTomorrow marks day one of me going off in search of my dreams. I should be scared.

I'm not.

The old me would have been worried.

The new me is rather excited.

I can see the life I want, I've envisioned it.....I just need to figure out a way to make it all happen.

Sadie, my almost daughter leaves for California Tuesday for her 10 month Americore assignment. It's bittersweet to take off on my  adventure without my girl to share it with.

Yet -- how can I be anything but happy that she is taking off on her own exciting adventure. Hers is scarier. She'll be far away from everyone she loves. She will have to survive a basic training of sorts. She will have to live out of a small red bag for weeks at a time as she travels to help others in need.  We will be miles and miles apart, and yet...we will both be growing in the direction of our dreams. From that, I muster courage and hope.

I'm so proud of us both.

We will both someday live the life we've imagined.

P.S. You can, too!

When Crap Hits the Fan

Back in May I wrote a post for The Mode Life called In a Perfect World. After events that happened this week, I was actually comforted by words from my own post.Excerpt...

"But in the end, it isn’t about us. It’s about letting our kids make their own choices and their own mistakes. The consequences are theirs to own. It isn’t a reflection of how I have parented. It isn’t about me at all. And if at the end of the day we have given it our best effort and offered our most honest attempt to show them the way, and yet they still choose a path different from what we would have chosen for them; it is not our fault.

There I said it. It is not my fault. "

As mothers, we often we second guess our parenting skills. I've learned lately that crap is inevitably going to happen, no matter how much we try to circumvent it.

How we respond to that crap makes a big difference in how it will play out within our everyday lives. I choose to respond* to this week's situation, rather than to just react. Meaning I didn't go all bat shi** crazy (even if deep down I really wanted to).

It worked. I was calmer, I was more effective, and I felt better about my actions. I will not always be able do the right thing, but I plan to use this newfound control when faced with the next crisis and see where it leads me.

For the full post, click here.

*It's Not About You: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business by Bob Burg & John David Mann (p. 40 - 52)






Our Children, Our Future

Wouldn't it be great if all children grew up believing in themselves and could confidently say:

I am special. I am a promise. I am a possibility. I have a future. I have the power to change my future. I can be anything I want to be. I have hope, always hope. I am believed in. I have expectations. I have love. I am loved. I am made up of all parts of me, the good and the bad. I am important. I am necessary. I am strong. I am unique. I will fail, but I am not a failure. I make a difference. I matter. I would be missed. I have the power to inspire.

Unfortunately many won't be given that opportunity. I'd like to help change that. In fact, I am determined we need to change it. How, is the question.

I'd love to hear your ideas. Care to share any?

Are You Living a Happy Life?

Until recently I would have said, sure I am. Because I was happy in most areas of my life. My husband is rockin' cute, I have more material things than I really need (including a cottage and a boat) my kids are healthy and mostly happy, I have fantastic friends and a super cool extended family. But something still was not quite right. When I said I was happy, something was missing.

For one thing, I had lost the passion I had once had for my job. Now some people say you don't have to have passion for your job, it is after all just a job, a way to pay the bills. And maybe for a while I even convinced myself that this was true and I could handle that. I reasoned that I needed to make money, and could not afford to make a job change and take less than the level I had already achieved, even if it meant I'd be happier.

Luckily for me I came to my senses. I made a change because I realized that being unhappy at work was slowly killing me. It was sapping my energy and attracting negativity back to me. So, I made a switch.

Since the day I quit, I have never looked back. (Okay there was that one day when I was sure I could not handle the pace, but besides that, I have been super sure of my decision!)

Ask me now if I am living a happy life and I will answer with a huge "YES, I am Happy!" because I am now operating on all cylinders.

Passion, purpose + happiness.

I have a job that I love, reasonable goals to achieve to satisfy those I work for, and better yet, a sense that I belong with, and am welcomed by my colleagues. My opinions are considered, my ideas are at the very least given an audience, and best case scenario will someday be utilized. That is a dream come true for me! Combine that with digging the people I work with and for, and you have a recipe for happiness. For me anyway.

Having that happiness makes a huge difference in how I face each day. Postitive attracts positive, and I not only say this, I totally believe this. Because it has happened to me.

Reconsider my question... are you living a happy life?

And then, if need be, don't be afraid to make some changes in your life.