Posts tagged inspiration
Making Her Choice
Photo credit: Jan Hubert
Photo credit: Jan Hubert

When the boat of security she lived in first began to pitch wildly in the waves of her deepest, darkest truths, she felt a fissure of fear.

Even before her boat capsized, she understood she would drown.

In a sea of salty tears.

They came from somewhere deep. Somewhere foreign feeling.

A place she hadn't dared to go for a very long time.

She let herself sink into the depths of her sadness for she was so tired of struggling.

Maybe, she thought, if she just rested for a moment or two, she'd muster the energy she needed to soldier on. She gave into the quiet, calm and sank even lower. She pictured herself in the eye of the storm allowing the millions of thoughts in her head to slowly empty, until there was only one.

I am a failure.

With a jolt her feet hit rock bottom. No where further down to go.

She just couldn't muster enough energy to fight that deepest, darkest thought any longer. Immediately she felt the bleakness of her wasted life in every pore of her body. The would have, could have, should have's stacking up before her to be reviewed. She knew she had let everyone down, had let herself down worst of all. She was so far off course she saw no more possible paths to take. Was this the fall she feared she'd never recover from?

In the darkness of her soul came the words she needed to hear.

Everything will be okay, everyone will be okay. Let it go. You've got this. And oh by the way, You are worthy.

Fresh tears flowed as she let the words surround her like a blanket. Only this time the tears weren't the same. They didn't hurt as much, they were softer, warmer, meant to soothe not sear.

And as they warmed her cheeks, they warmed her heart a little, too. She felt a little less alone. The tiniest spark of hope begin to grow in her.

At one time giving in, giving up the reigns of her life had been the furthest thing from her mind. The thought of letting go had only made her hold on tighter, try harder, do better. Now she knew her only option was surrender, she no longer had the energy to fight against the current of her heart.

She took a deep breath and some of the tight spaces in her body began to give a little.

Instead of dying in this low, dark space, she realized she actually could breathe a little easier here. The crushing weight on her chest began to lift and in the far corner of her dark soul a spark of light began to grow. The light was warm and comforting and filled her mind, heart and whole being with a feeling of acceptance, understanding, and ease.

It felt so refreshingly beautiful she was afraid to acknowledge it, fearful it would retreat and pull her back into the darkness.

But it grew brighter until it nearly filled her, and then she heard the voice again:

Inside everyone is darkness and light. Good and bad. That is the way it is meant to be. A person cannot be 100% perfect. That means there will always be darkness within you. But there is also light. So much light. You are no different than anyone else. You, like everyone, must learn to live in the light of you. Once you do, your mission here is to show others how to do the same. Teach others to dance in the light. Their own light. To take back their power.

And then there was quiet again. She wanted (as usual) to ask a million questions. To learn what she needed to do to stay in this welcoming light.  She wanted to know how she could possibly teach others to find the light. She wanted help to do it all correctly, but no words came out of her. There was only the silence.

And in the blissful quiet of her soul she discovered she already knew the answer to her unasked questions.

I hold the power. I've had the power all along.

She was the answer. She had all the answers within. She always had. She needed only to believe in her own power, to be still and listen to hear the answers to her questions.  In that quiet, calm space deep within her was all the knowledge she'd ever truly needed.

And the words she heard this time were her own.

I see you darkness. I acknowledge you are part of me. I understand that within everyone is darkness, and also beautiful light. I have a choice from which place I operate and I vow to live from this moment on in the light. I surrender my grip of control to a higher power for I know that I cannot see the whole picture from my tiny view. I will trust that I am enough, imperfectly as I am, and that I am worthy of everything I dream of. I will allow my life to unfold and to believe in my own power to discern the correct path. I will let my heart lead me to where I was meant to be all along.

And just like that she was filled with light. She was back home to herself. The same girl, yet forever different. Changed. Enlightened. Recharged. Renewed. Ready. Free. Hopeful. Reconnected.

Choosing never to be alone again.

For more in this series:

Losing Her Magic

Finding Her Worth

Garnering Her Courage

You Inspire Me

Yes, you. Every time you sign up for an event, or come to a workshop to reconnect with yourself, or try a new pose in my yoga class, you inspire me. And you teach me, too. Yes, really you do. I would not be half the person I am today if it weren't for the lessons you have taught me.

Thank you.

For your courage, your sass, your strength, your curiosity, your creativity, and your super inspiring belief in yourself.

I love that you aren't afraid to change directions mid-plan, to acknowledge you changed your mind, to try new things even if they feel awkward, to shine your light as bright as you can even in the face of criticism from others, to fly your freak flag without worry of what others will think, to make mistakes and still rise up strong after them. Watching you grow, change, and evolve into the best "you", the real you, gives me the strength to keep searching for the real me.

You give me the courage to shine my light as bright as I can and to let go of the need to dim it when others feel threatened by its brilliance. 

I have the luxury of not only following my heart and making a living at it, but I also get to be inspired and motivated by super cool people every time I step on my mat or open the doors to the studio. How can you not be influenced by watching others grow, change and create forward + positive motion?

Some days I am bursting with pride like a mama hen as I watch my chicks grow and evolve into their true and happiest selves. 

Life is truly good.

All About the Mushrooms

Nature is uniquely beautiful.

I went for my morning walk with my camera in tow today, not unusual for me, but for most of the summer I left it behind. Today I felt the urge to carry it, and only a short distance into my trek I realized why. Fungi was calling.

Throughout my quiet walk, several people stopped me to chat, one even asking me if I was "the" photographer who posted all the beautiful bird photos on the BSL facebook page. Nope. Not me. That's my friend Judy. I like to take photos of weird things. Last fall it was leaves with droplets of water on them, one fall it was treelined roads, and today it apparently is all about the mushrooms. They had popped up everywhere on my walking path, seemingly overnight, and I was fascinated. Maybe even a tad bit embarrassed.

I think the most beautiful patterns come from nature, in their weird, awesome, ugly way they inspire me. And they also remind me of other things. Today I saw sea creatures, candy corn, brains, sponges, chocolate cookies, and some other unidentifiable things.

I decided to share some of what I encountered. What do you see?

Her Transformation to Truth

A manifesto, a poem, an inspiration, who knows? Sharing the words that came to me while walking with the trees.

Her Transformation to Truth

She emerged from hibernation less like a bear and more like a butterfly.

Transformed, she now sparkled with color.

Opening her wings to fly,

Maybe for the first time ever,

She was truly free of all that weighed her down.

She considered the time spent within well worth it.

For the world in front of her was somehow different.

Although things were in the same places, she didn’t view them the same. There was more color, more texture and so many things she had never truly noticed before. Her post-hibernation world was ablaze with wonder.

She saw raw beauty in all places. Found joy in each moment. Let hope fill her every in-breath.  And as she acknowledged this, trust began to grow again in her heart.

She would no longer live a life of pretend to make others feel better. It had never suited her.

And keeping up the pretend only confused her more.

From this moment on she knew she would remain at truth. Always. And if the truth did not please others, she’d speak it boldly anyway, or she would stand strong and silent if she thought it best, as long as doing so did not compromise her soul.

She understood that truth would remain her constant and trusted companion—would serve as her guiding light, and the familiar voices of doubt and indecision would find nothing to argue with if she did.

As she embraced her new world, she wisely realized that truth was the solid ground on which she would begin to grow into the best version of herself.

---Terri Spaulding

Happy Anniversary to the Man of My Dreams

My dream boat.


I met the man of my dreams at age 17. He however, was not yet convinced that I was the girl of his dreams, at least not for a while. Four things cemented my surety that he was the one for me in record time.

1. He had the kind of eyes I'd only read about in my Harlequin romance novels. You could get lost in them. They had the power to make me feel like I was the most beautiful girl in the world. They still do.

2. He kissed me for the first time in a closet wearing a toga--it was the best kiss I'd ever had, and to this day it remains untouchable. It might have been the way he held my face as if I was precious, or it might have been the way I felt perfectly safe with him (in a closet at a college toga party, a week after meeting him).  Either way I will never forget that kiss.

3. He is the first (and only boy) to ever sit by my bed and help me through a night of drunken sickness. It wasn't pretty. I am sure I smelled like the worst kind of gross. He never made me feel dumb for asking for him to come and sit by my bed (when I barely even knew him and wasn't even officially dating him) or for smelling like poo. All I know is that he was there for me when I needed him.

Hair styles and clothing styles may have come and gone but one thing remains constant, love.

4. He is the only person who can make me laugh, cry, scream in frustration, shake my head in confusion, feel like the prettiest girl in the world, and keep me grounded and safe, while giving me wings to fly. He is my biggest fan, my greatest cheerleader and my inspiration. No one has ever come close to accepting me for who I am like he has. 

29 years ago today.

Today marks 29 years we have been married. I was in love with him for four years before that. Clearly I have been with Mike longer than I have been without him. Looking back on the day we took our wedding vows I really had no idea what through thick and thin even meant. Sickness and health, yeah I understood that part. Love, honor and cherish should have been a no brainer as well. Thick and thin....who knew?

Our time together hasn't always been rosy. Let's be real, you don't start out as kids and end up as parents, then over fifty grown ups without a few rough patches. I married my best friend at 22. Our oldest son is 22, I can't imagine him getting married now. Heck,  I can't imagine us getting married at that age. I wasn't even fully formed yet (thus the rough patches).  I changed. He changed. We changed. We grew apart. We grew together. We had children. Things got busy. Then busier. Then our children grew into teenagers. Things got very hard. Soon many of those things you think are never going to happen to your kids; happen. Your world is rocked. And either you find a safe place to land together or you split.

Some people we know didn't make it through the tough times. Some stayed together for the kids. Some stayed together for the kids and then split.  And some are still just going through the motions.

Yet some, like us, survived the storms, came out stronger on the other side and are loving the chance to explore life together again.

I remember people who said we would never last when we first started dating. At first it scared me because I thought they might be seeing something that I didn't. And then as time went on I knew that the truth was that no one was seeing what I could see. No one made me feel the way Mike did. No one accepted me for who I was, loved me anyway, and somehow inspired me to get up each day and be a better version of myself.

I cannot really remember life without Mike. I do not want to contemplate a future without him. I am my own person and he is his, but together we are a unit, a team. Unstoppable.

When I am down, he is strong and reminds me that I am enough. When he is down I am there to let him know that he means the world to me and to remind him that he is the best person I know.

He snores. He tailgates. He saves way too much stuff. And he also fixes everything and anything. Perfectly. He cares for everyone around him, is always willing to help someone out and knows the exact right thing to do in any situation. I love him dearly for being my rock. And for making me laugh like no other (sometimes at him). Most of all I love him for knowing me better than I know myself most days....

I am blessed to be his wife, best friend, and mother of his children.

We are blessed to be better together than we ever were apart. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thankful for life with him by my side and also for our children--our boys and our almost daughter--and the many others who allow us to "parent" them from time to time, our loving and fun families, all our friends and our adorable grand baby.

Happy 29th Anniversary to the man of my dreams. I have loved you since I was 17 and didn't really even know what that meant yet, and I will love you forever. I hope we have 29 more years to grow stronger together.

My Rules for Living in the Light

We all have times in our lives when the light bulb goes off and feel we have learned a valuable lesson. It seems I have had a lot of those moments in the last year. So many so, I have started my own list. It is interesting (and maybe sad) that many of the "simple" observations below took me almost 50 years to learn. In the hopes that someone else may learn from them, I am sharing.

My Rules for Living in the Light

1. Accept that I will never get "there"

2. Don't be afraid to change directions (often)

3. Small steps often allow for the biggest progress

4. Grow everyday

5. What I am most afraid of I need to move toward

6. Believe in myself always

7. Operate from the positive

8. Remember that life is a journey and meant to be enjoyed

9. Reframe when necessary

10. Open hearts lead to open minds

11. It isn't a weakness to ask for help

12. Worry is a complete waste of time

13. I am the only thing I can really control

14. Never doubt my gut

15. Saying no is freeing

16. Time for myself is necessary, not selfish


Question of the Week #47 / Have You Started Your Own List of Rules To Live By?

Sometimes I learn best through others, so I'd be honored if you shared some things that you have learned in the comments. Perhaps I can even add them to my own list.

I am thankful for each and every reader of this blog.  Happy Thanksgiving.


What Fires You Up? / Question of the Week #7

1829126835-1It's been seven weeks into the new year already and I'm guessing that many of you have quit working on that personal growth effort you started on January 1. Either things got too busy, you lost interest, or you realized there were no easy answers. I have recently recognized how valuable it is to know myself and am using that knowledge daily as I figure out my next move. I'm hoping this week's question will shed some inner light on what makes you tick, and kickstart your desire to become a better you.

Question of the Week #7

I feel most energized when___________________. (Make a list).

Are you aware of the things that energize you? This question comes in part from the experience I just went through quitting my job--a perfectly good job, exciting even, but one that at the end of the day didn't leave me energized. It left me drained and dragging. Recognizing that I needed to make a change, or the job was going to change me, I chose to leave it behind.

So let's dig deeper. Are you the kind of person who thinks things out, or who talks them out? Does a creative and quiet activity or a loud and collaborative discussion get you going?

You can also approach this week's Question of the Week by thinking about what drains your energy. Once you know that, you should be able to figure out the reverse.  Have you ever determined if you are an introvert or an extrovert? The situations that push the limits of most introverts... a crowded networking event, a chaotic potluck at school or church, a workshop filled with lots of deep discussion often leave them exhausted. The more introverted your personality, the more you will wish for peace and solitude when you return home.  The extroverts will come home exhilarated and filled with ideas and energy.

Still not sure? Keeping a journal is another way to keep track of why some situations left you dragging and others left you with energy to spare. What were the differences; was it the people involved, your level of responsibility there, the size of the event itself? Getting you to think deeper about your personality, and to become aware of what brings energy (and passion) into your life, helps you prepare to be your own battery charger.

My Answers

I feel most energized when....

  • I have just been a part of a deep discussion
  • I see forward progress
  • I improve something
  • I share stories, or learn something new
  • I am in charge of making something happen
  • I know that I helped someone see something from a new perspective
  • my opinion has made a difference
  • I inspire someone
  • I learn something new
  • I meet new people
  • my intuition was right

If the subject of introvert vs extrovert is interesting to you check out the book by Laurie Helgoe called Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength or  Quiet: the Power of Introverts by Susan Cain.

May your next week be full of many things that energize YOU.

P.S.S. Susan Cain is coming to speak at GRCC at Fountain Street Church on March 13 and I'm going.


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!

The Question of the Week

1829126835-1I'm excited to announce that tomorrow I will be adding a regular feature to my blog called: The Question of the Week.

The Question of the Week will be posted every Friday and is designed to encourage deeper thinking about yourself, your life, your passions, and your strengths & weaknesses. It is my hope that answering them will facilitate personal growth for all who participate.

Why dig deeper?

While I believe that it is never too late to begin understanding yourself, I also believe you should pay attention from a young age to the things that make you go “aha” and fill you with passionate energy. No matter what stage of life you are in, answering The Question of the Week will help you uncover your passions, highlight your interests and help you understand yourself better.  It may even help you determine what you want to be when you grow up, what you want to do next in life, or where you want to be ten years from now. Who knows, the life you truly desire might become clearer.

We all hope for happiness and personal fulfillment in our home lives and our work lives. The first step in achieving them is to truly begin to understand ourselves. And that takes commitment and courage. I challenge you to answer these 52 questions and to invest in your potential in 2013.

Because I know that together we can grow and keep each other on track, I will be answering the questions right along with you. I’d love to create a dialogue around our answers. Feel free to comment on the blog, email me privately, or share your thoughts with me in person if you know me in the real world….. I'm here to listen, to learn and to help.

First Question of the Week posts tomorrow. 7 am. Will you be ready?


Kathy Crosby: The Real Deal

kcphotoWe could have been at a cookout, a school function, really we could have been anywhere. As I sat across the table from one of West Michigan's most inspiring women leaders, I realized that she was trying to make me feel comfortable. Something I attempt to do in nearly every conversation I participate in, so it was interesting to be on the receiving end of that hospitality. I spent an hour with her, and during that time I felt like I was the only person in the room, and that she was totally focused on me. It was an incredibly empowering feeling.

Kathy Crosby is CEO and President of Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids. Leader of many, wife, mom and grandma to her growing family, and mentor to me. I first encountered Kathy at a YNPN (Young NonProfit Professionals Network) meeting, where she shared three tips for success to the group. Her forty-five minute talk made me cry right there at the table. They were tears of joy I realize now, her words providing me an affirmation that I wasn't alone in my feelings of wanting to make a difference in the world around me. And doing it while still being authentically me, and making money. Among her humorous and well told stories about how she ended up at the head of an organization employing hundreds of people, and who's mission statement is changing lives and communities through the power of work, she suggested that everyone find a mentor.

Afterwards, I asked if she would be my mentor. Thus the reason I was sitting across the table from her sharing lunch at Olive Garden and thinking how lucky I was, and how much I appreciated that she would carve out time in her busy schedule to talk with me.

Listening to Kathy tell stories of her growing up years it is obvious that she became the person she is today because she had an inspiring mother. Kathy tells stories about "Mama Tudy" and her job as a "nurse" in the state mental hospital. Think mental ward, shock therapy and then picture her mother becoming so invested in the potential of her patients that she brought them home to help rehab them back into society. Something like that had the power to go really wrong, instead it went so right it inspired Kathy to carry on in her mother's footsteps. Kathy has worked for the Goodwill mission for 30 + years. As a young girl she saw how the actions of one inspiring person could change the lives of many, and continues to use her faith in the Goodwill mission to change the world.

It makes me wonder how much better the world could be if we all recognized and invested in the "human power" that is all around us. What might be the potential of the collective power of everyone doing something good to move the world forward?

I thought Goodwill was just a place to drop off old clothes and items I didn't want or need anymore and actually felt guilty making someone else deal with my "junk". The retail store was only on my radar when we needed inexpensive clothes for Halloween costumes. Kathy explained what it means to be a self sustainable organization, and as a result I am not only a Goodwill supporter, I am a Goodwill believer. (I even shop there now. ) Visit Goodwill's website and you'll notice immediately that something is missing; they don't ask for money. Instead they ask for your unwanted items, because taking your "junk" employs people and turns lives around.

Meeting Kathy allowed me to glimpse the raw power that exists when a person finds their right place in life. So the goal to make my life matter is achievable, I just need to find the right organization, the right mission and the right message. Thank you Kathy for your generosity and inspiration. My life has been impacted by you, now let 's hope I can use what I've learned to make a difference in my corner of the world.