Posts tagged life
Going With the Flow
easter-snow. jpeg

I'm in my happy place, a week earlier than normal. That should be a great thing, right?

It however, looks more like a snowy winter's morning outside than the spring it should be. Once I might have been bummed, as no walk with my trees is happening today. Instead, I am going with the flow. Change of plans. I've got plenty of things to catch up on inside.

This go with the flow attitude, this new way of thinking is still a little foreign to me. I do not love change. I do not love the unexpected. It upsets my inner rhythm. It makes me feel a little off center. A tiny bit unsafe. I like the feeling of contentment that comes from a routine, a familiarity of sameness I can count on. So when changes, big changes, loom, I get a little freaked. In the past, I would get sad and cry a lot. In my present state of living life without a mapped out plan, I am opting for the glass half-full perspective.

This life change is going to be fun. This empty nest thing will allow me the freedom I crave. More creating time. More time with my love. More fun.

I know change is necessary or you become stagnant (which might be a nice word for stuck). I dislike being stuck more than the uncertainty changes bring, therefore I am practicing what I preach, and trusting the flow of life.

My girls are moving to their own place this week, moving their things and themselves out of our house. The boys have essentially been gone for a while. That means we will be empty nesters. Just the two of us in this big, quiet house. It is, as all life changes are, bittersweet; both exciting & sad.

I am so happy for the girls moving onto their next step of the journey, and also sad for Papi and I who will miss their constant and very alive presence in our home and lives.

The positive benefits of this change I am choosing to embrace are that I will have more actual play time with Nollie. My attention and time won't be shared with house duties, work, dance practice and cooking. I will now have the quiet time needed to get my stuff done and be ready for spontaneous fun with my little love when she comes over to play. I am so thankful for that!

Incredibly the March 31st snow is seriously piling up outside right now, but instead of being sad that a walk to clear my head with my friends the trees isn't happening, I choose to clear my head by writing out my feelings. This is all going to work out the way it is supposed to.

Breathe. Just breathe. I've got this.

P.S. Hello blog, it's nice to be back.

Reflections on a Snowy Winters Morn

Time goes faster the older I get. I didn't anticipate this as a kid sitting on my warm driveway soaking up the endless summer sun. I wish now I would have made a point of appreciating the freedom I had then, the clarity of thought, the uncomplicated simplicity of my life. But I was a kid, who knew that life would eventually roll along at so fast a pace it would seem there was no way to step off for a mindful moment?

My parents might have tried to tell me. But as a kid, who really listens to their parents?

I spent 2017 enjoying the moments directly in front of me, being 'present' as they say, and time didn't slow down at all. If anything, it seemed to move even faster. As I sit here reflecting on the year gone by, I so want to keep each precious moment of 2017 in my heart, relishing the cuddles from my sweet grand daughter, replaying the sound of her giggles and my husband's laughter as they played together, gazing up at the perfect blue sky of a summer day at the lake. Those little things fuel my soul and make my heart sing. I never want to forget them.

Another thing my parents may have tried to tell me way back when, is that everything changes, nothing ever stays the same.

The calendar turning to 2018 brings a brand spanking new chance to appreciate the moments right in front of me for another year. I know that I cannot recreate the ones I loved so much in 2017, but I have to remind myself there is no reason to think the new ones will be any less great.

I've learned at least one thing in my 55 years; you have to find your own joy. What things currently bring you happiness will change as you do, and as time goes by. Sometimes it means I have to dig deep for a silver lining and other times I have to fight to contain the awesomeness of the moment so I won't miss any second of it.

Life will be different for me this coming year as I can feel the winds of change blowing in. In the past I have tended to resist the unknown, to choose safe + familiar over new adventures, but I know if I do that I will become stagnant (again) and I do not want to waste this beautiful life of mine. So I will do my best to surrender to what will be.

In 2018 I will embrace what is, and graciously attempt to let go of what isn't. I will fill my heart with my own simple joys. I will continue to treasure all the moments with the members of my sweet family-- the little grand babies and nieces, my all grown up children and their significant others, the wise old ones (my parents), the one who is always my rock (my husband), and even with the ones that try my patience but give me the best of hugs. I will literally and figuratively "draw" out my own unique artistic talent by pushing past the self-critical voice I hear and find pride + promise in my work. And, I will allow my failures to be my lessons and my successes to be sweet reminders of my growth. I will shine in 2018. And if I am lucky, as I appreciate each wonderful moment, I will be able  to slow down time so I can enjoy life even more! .

Love + Blessings to you in the new year.





Taking It All In

I'm not writing much at all lately.

In my dreams I am busy, a prolific writer, yet by the light of day I lose the words. In the safety of sleep, I always have ideas, good ones if my sub-conscious is any judge, and then they poof when I wake up and start my day. Oh, I could blog about my random thoughts all the time, but that "big" book idea, the story I am feeling called to tell always seems elusive during the daylight hours.

Isn't it weird how I can sit down with nearly anyone else and suddenly "know" what they should write about? I get their story. Most aren't even interested in writing their story, and yet I can see it so clearly. The story that others would benefit from hearing; whether it be the struggles they overcame, their major win against giant odds, their strength and perseverance when others would have quit, etc. It doesn't have to be a big a huge crazy life experience or trauma to be a story worth telling. Stories come from ordinary people who are living life to the fullest as their truest self. The lesson(s) they have learned are what inspire others, and gently bring others the strength to make changes in their own lives.

If I apply this thought to my book question, I come up with one major theme that encompasses all I have learned so far. Each of us has the power within us to change our life.  I think we are our own roadblock to whatever it is we desire. Sometimes we get stuck simply because we hold ourselves back from all we can be.

My message isn't a new message by any stretch of the imagination. It is, in fact, the underlying message of all of the great spiritual teachers of our generation, or at least what I hear their works saying to me. But the road I took to learn this great lesson, is my own.

I've been on a journey and I don't intend to stop learning, growing, changing, evolving, expanding, understanding, appreciating. As long as I do it in ways that feel right to me, ways that allow me to be myself without compromise, I will succeed.

I had help from great mentors along my journey and from great friends who allowed me to change and grow into me, while still loving me. Change is scary hard. Letting of your old story leaves you feeling vulnerable, naked and afloat. But in my opinion it is also the most freeing you will ever feel. And it sets the stage for you to begin growing into the authentic you.

Getting started is hard. There is no one first step that works for everyone, in fact each person's path to growth is different. But surrounding yourself with open minded, like-hearted people who are serious about their own journeys, helps.

I might be stalled right now, but I am not stuck. Far from it. I am taking it all in, observing, enjoying, being present to as much of my life as I can. To quote a song, I don't want to miss a thing, I did that once upon a time and I am not doing it again. I eventually want to write something that helps move people forward toward their best life and whatever it is they secretly yearn for: to find love, to be happier, to find purpose, to simplify their life, to create a legacy, to live without stress or whatever it is. I believe each of us has our own unique hidden desire(s), things we really wish for but think we are unable to attain because we aren't talented enough, or we don't have the means, or the time, or worse yet because we think we are not worthy of receiving it.

I know in my own life I have created roadblocks for myself. I have stopped my own forward progress. We create a lot of excuses for why we don't move in the direction of our dreams, and that has to stop.

You are so worthy my friend. No matter what your belief, or religion, or your feelings about God, you are worthy of whatever you desire. Whatever higher power you believe in wants you to succeed, wants you to shine, wants you to be your truest most beautiful, uniquest self. And finding that power within is what brings you all that you wish for.

The Grass Is Not Always Greener

Please stop wishing you were more. Or that you could do things better. Or that you were a size 6, had a new car, or a "better" job. If I remember correctly, thinking like that is exhausting and really unhealthy.

Instead, just be where you are...or maybe more importantly, just be happy where you are.

Don't try to be where the girl in the front row at yoga class is. She's half your age and totally fit. Yes, she can do a headstand and has to-die-for-abs and high school cheerleader-like flexibility, but her life is a mess. She's scared, anxious and takes it out on herself by exercising (too much). She longs to feel loved and wants a home and a family like you have.

Or remember that really put together lady at the nail salon?  She may be jetting off to Hawaii in the morning with her rich boyfriend but she hasn't talked to her family in years. She's really lonely and the grudge she's holding is weighing her down like a lead balloon. Each year when the holidays roll around she is surrounded by strangers in a fancy setting, yet she longs for a real Christmas tree and family board games in front of the fireplace in her pj's, like you have.

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others, and to keep in mind that things aren't always how they look on the outside.  Absolutely no one has the perfect life, all the time. There are always going to be hurdles, troubles, and roadblocks to the life we envision. Yet that does not mean we can't enjoy the life we have right now, on our way to our ideal. In fact, one key to living a life of meaning is to embrace where we are at this present moment, to accept, allow and appreciate the life we have, even with all its challenges.

If we keep searching for the lesson in the moment and find something positive in our situation, we can add small nuggets to our internal arsenal that will help us better respond to the next situation that comes our way, good or bad. Since life continues to crank along after our mistakes and mishaps, we need to move with it and not dwell on if onlys or what ifs. 

I know from experience it often feels like we are trudging through thick mud, and barely moving, but we are moving forward, and someday real soon you will wake up and realize you have made it out of the muck and are able to dance in the sun.

If you find yourself wishing your life was as put together and on track as someone else 's, remind yourself that the grass is not always greener. No one has all the answers, or has everything perfectly figured out. We are all equally flawed, and yet we are also all uniquely equipped to love and appreciate the life we are living. We only need to stop judging, comparing and wishing it away. Being brave isn't about being over the top daring, it is about having the courage to take another step when the path ahead isn't clear, or some days isn't even visible. It is about trusting your footing even when the ground in front of you appears rocky. It is about loving what you have but also daring to make your dreams a reality.

You are beautiful, blessed, deserving, worthy, and so very loved. Believe in yourself and know that you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment. Appreciate what you have. Love yourself, your body, your partner, your children, your life. And be brave enough to take a step toward your dream no matter if it feels like it is so far away it only exists in an alternate universe. That is how magic happens.

Be where you are, and be happy there, but never give up on your dream.

A New Year's Message from A Grateful Me

Hello lovely reader:

As another year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the twists and turns my life has taken in the past year. As a girl who once attempted to plan out her life, it is almost laughable that a lot of what happened is nothing I would have ever planned. Some of it is nothing I ever imagined I'd even experience and yet it has to be one of the best years ever. Maybe not in the way most people would measure a successful year --- like by how much money I made, or how much I grew my new business, or what new stuff I was able to acquire. Instead I am measuring it by how much happiness was in it, how much love I felt and how easy it was to be fully me.

In 2014 I practiced being present to all the little things that mattered (and even to the ones that didn't seem to matter). I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss a thing. I rejoiced in both sunny and cloudy days, in planned fun and in unexpected detours, and I was able to find the sunny side of nearly every situation. As a result, I felt calm, peaceful and happy nearly all the time. Where I once would have let the unexpected get me down and stress me out, I went with the flow, stayed peaceful within, and paid attention to the greater meanings. And there were plenty of life lessons.

Even when it wasn't all rosy I looked forward to each day and the new possibilities. I watched for signs and remained open to opportunities. The times I was able to spend with my love, my family, my trees, my magic friends, my students and with my words were among the best moments of my life.

I have also experienced great kindness this year. Compliments I never saw coming (which to me are delightful affirmations that I am on the right track), and connections that rekindled or were made for the first time which turned out to be exactly what I needed next. I have been blessed to learn so many new and exciting things, and to put into practice what I have learned to empower others. Not only have I been able to guide them to personal wellness, I get paid to help them feel better in their own bodies. How lucky I am to have arrived in this beautiful place!

I made a lot of time for me in 2014. And as a result I feel like I can breathe again. My three words to live by were Clarify, Cultivate and Savor and in looking back, I believe I really did infuse them into my year.

Clarify: I let some things go this year along with the worry and fear and control I once clung to, and they were really important things: friendships, opportunities, job offers,  responsibilities. Clarifying and letting them go left me feeling lighter and freer.

Cultivate: I have learned some important life lessons in 2014 with the help of some incredibly talented friends and students. Their honesty and willingness to allow me to grow with them has lit my path ahead. One really big lesson that took me many tries to learn was saying "no" to furthering other people's dreams, and fully saying "yes" to furthering mine. I learned to believe in myself again and that is huge.

Savor: Part of appreciating what is right in front of you is being present to the beauty of everything.  For me that requires downtime to rejuvenate.  I made time to "turtle in" this past year and that allowed me to be the best version of myself. The people in my life deserve the best I have to offer and in order to give it to them, I require a lot of unplanned creative "me" time. I have learned that me being overwhelmed is awful for everyone around me. Keeping myself clear and bright allowed me to shine my best light ever in 2014. I think maybe I accomplished something I have always attempted --- to lead by example.

I wanted to reach out via this post and wish you a wonderful new year filled with love + light and to encourage you to make the changes necessary to bring forth the best YOU! Thank you also for reading my blog. Although I write for me (because that is how I process, grow and learn) I am grateful for every person who comments on the blog (or in person) to say that my words resonate. I am a word girl, and I understand that coming upon the right words at just the right time can be life changing. It is an honor to hear that a few of my posts have found their way to the right people at the right time this past year.

Namaste: the Spirit in me sees, honors and appreciates the spirit in you. Have a happy and blessed new year. My words for 2015 are Freedom, Growth & Joy in case you didn't notice. Have you chosen yours yet? I would love for my readers to hear what direction your life will be taking this next year.

--Terri Spaulding

P.S. Just in case you were looking for inspiration and/or ideas on how to make 2015 a year of forward motion, here is my latest newsletter with upcoming opportunities to come grow with me. Feel free to share this link anyone who might interested. Word of mouth, personal recommendations, and shares are the way I find my proper audience. Many, many thanks in advance.


Growing Into Me

Photo Credit: Terri Spaulding

You know how thinking back over time you can recognize life changing moments, doors that you went through that changed your life forever?

I had one today.

Someone I love (but haven't seen for a while) asked me how I was doing via a short text conversation.

And I immediately answered back: I'm the best I have ever been.

And damn if I didn't mean it. Wholeheartedly. Honestly. Joyfully.

I am doing great. I feel good. NO, I feel great. I feel at peace. I feel purposeful. I feel loved. I feel happy. I feel at ease with me.

It is the best feeling in the world. It is like I got new glasses with a stronger prescription and I can finally see the leaves on the trees again.

Everything is beautiful. Everything makes sense. Everything is going to be okay.

Just needed to share this so I never forget. And so you'd know there is always hope that you can make changes for the better, too.

If I Told You...

Photo Credit: Terri Spaulding

If I told you that you were going to die tomorrow, would it change the way you live today?

It should.

This question may seem irrelevant because you are probably not going to die tomorrow and no one could predict it anyway. But I believe the question should make you do more than think.

It should be a catalyst to bring on changes. Changes that move you into the present moment and out of the future or the past.

If you, like me, have spent way too much of your precious life here on earth doing things that didn't really matter, you might feel a pang of remorse when you ponder the question.

A twinge of regret for the moments lost, adventures rejected, and connections missed while you went about accomplishing all your ridiculous goals. Or a pang of sadness for all the frustrating attempts to prove yourself worthy that ultimately resulted in added  disappointment. You might even experience some reservation at the out of character actions you took trying to be accepted, included and appreciated.

And nothing grabs at a girl's heart more than realizing how silly it was to try to control the future by planning the life out of everyone and everything around her, even if it all started with good intentions.

For highly sensitive people like me, fitting into a world where you feel you stand out (for all the wrong reasons) is sometimes a major objective, a vision clouding objective. We get caught up in the doing, and we forget about the being. What we don't realize is that when we try so hard to 'fit in', those little compromises we make occur at the expense of our souls and eventually mess with our self-worth.

When we don't live in the present, we put off things that matter thinking we will have time to do it later. Until later comes and we comprehend all the missed opportunities.

I'm sure you've heard the saying many times 'live each moment like it is your last'  and maybe you, like me, would pause and reflect for a moment on where you were spending your time and attention, and then go right back to doing things the way you have always done.

When I finally recognized my life was not heading in the right direction, I changed it.

And in doing so not only changed my life, but the lives of those I love. What greater inspiration is there than leading by example?

So many good changes have come from being more aware, from living in the moment right in front of me. For a long, long while I forgot how to appreciate. I was so caught up in planning it all out, in accomplishing things, in making sure that I was responsible and productive, that I lost "me" and life delivered me to my lowest moment. I was emotionally and physically exhausted from all that striving. And I realized I was missing the joyous parts of life.

If you knew that today was your last day--how many people would you want to see, talk to, hug, write a letter to, or tell how much they have meant to you? If you knew you were going to die tomorrow wouldn't you want to spend the minutes of your last day doing things that matter.

I would.

A while back I started to get the sense that my time was limited. Not in an I-am-going-to-die-tomorrow way, but like a wake up call to pay attention to all the little moments I was missing. Stopping to smell the roses was not in my original plan. It is the only plan now.

One moment at a time. One person at a time. One honest declaration of love, one heartfelt I'm sorry, one please forgive me, one hug filled with positive energy, one thank you so much, one I am listening, I see you, I hear you, one you can do it! Those are the moments that matter.

What would you do differently if this were your last day?

There is time to make a change. Follow your heart. Go on an adventure. Do absolutely nothing. Believe in yourself. Whatever it is that is different than what you usually do; do it. And do it with all the focus you can muster, as if it were the last time.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

— Dr. Wayne Dyer
Simple Beauty

Terri Spaulding

It bothers me every time I realize how many years I let pass by without really being present.

I used to live each day focused on how much I needed to accomplish and how many items I crossed off my to do list. That is how I measured my worth. It meant that I was always looking ahead -- and missing all the little moments of my life.

Recently I was asked to give a piece of advice to a soon-to-be new mom (who reminds me a lot of the overachiever I used to be) and the first thing I wanted to tell her was to enjoy every. single. moment. with her child, her husband & her family. I wished in words to impress upon her how important it is to stop planning each moment of her life and just live it.

I once so needed that advice.

But I wonder if  I would have listened if someone had tried to slow me down. Probably not. I think it was a lesson that I needed to learn. The hard way.

Looking back on my mothering years I see that the moments I tried to make matter --didn't. Not at all. My attempts at special moments simply flowed into the rest of the moments of their lives and were quickly forgotten (or remembered in all the wrong ways.)

Terri Spaulding

The moments my kids remember are the unplanned, seemingly insignificant moments, some of them I'd just as soon wish they'd forget. Not my best moments. Not at all. Not the scrapbook memories I was shooting for, the "perfect" mother, "perfect" family moments.

They remember the actual unplanned off-my-script moments.

Like the time when I was sharing a story about a school field trip we had recently taken while attempting to say the word "sugarbush" with a mouthful of salad. I ended up spitting ranch dressing all down the front of my green fleece. Recently, within the span of a week or two,  both of my boys independently recounted that story to a friend. This happened years ago.

They recall the time I once let fly a huge swear word while driving the am school carpool after a chunk of metal flew off the car in front of us on the highway and I ran it over it. They still laugh and reminisce about the inappropriateness of the word I shouted.

Those are not really the moments I would hope they'd remember. 

Things like the tradition of cutting down our yearly Christmas tree, or our week of family vacation at the lake, or how clean our house was, the uniqueness of the homemade Christmas cards we did every year, or the countless other things I attempted to do to leave lasting memories just don't matter to them.

What they remember is being in the real moments of life. The moments that brought a laugh or a cry, a scream or a smile ---good and sometimes not-so-good, unplanned and inappropriate....but memorable. The little moments that make up a life.

I'm so ready to smell the roses. Every. Single. Minute. And to teach others the importance of doing so.

Yesterday I went for a walk to clear my head; even though it was one of those days where rain (hard rain) was imminent. I started off without my camera and am so glad I changed my mind.

Water droplets on fallen leaves has to be the coolest thing I have been obsessed with photographing in a long time.

When I look through the lens of my camera I am completely lost in the moment. In the simple beauty that is right in front of me. It is beyond fantastic to be able to finally truly see the beauty in all the simple moments.

Terri Spaulding

Terri Spaulding

Terri Spaulding

Are you still missing what is right in front of you?

Growing Into Me

I'm not the same person I was. Not at all.

It is funny to see the realization dawn on the faces of those who knew me "when".

Questions of: Who are you? And what did you do with Terri? play across their faces.

The "old me" as I call it, or really the mask I wore to the world showed me as extremely organized. Planned. Productive. Future thinking. Busy. Distracted.

The "real" me is calmer, quieter, less organized and way happier.

But this brings up a question or two. Where did the majority of my old friends go? The ones who counted on me to organize, plan, prepare and hostess events that they enjoyed. They seem to be gone, along with my mask, my organized self and my clean house. Have I neglected them, or am I just no longer what they need?

Forward motion brings changes. And I recognize that this is all okay. Things are happening as they should.

But the new me still needs to be around people. I especially appreciate like minded people, the ones who get me for who I am: a student of spirit, a girl who communicates with trees, who sees colors behind her eyes, who lives to see signs that she is on the right path--even if she can no longer see the path ahead of her as she travels.

I believe in the real me. The new/old me. She is happy, honest, mostly carefree, and totally alive in the beautiful moments of life. I am not always in my head thinking about what might be (well, that still happens occasionally), or looking back at what was. I live more spontaneously and enjoy the moments at hand.

From the light shining off the dew in this morning's grass, to the larvae I saw stuck to my beautiful backyard tree --to the hug I got from my grown up son, still sluggish from sleep, I appreciate every little thing in front of me. I am thankful for every. beautiful. moment.

Don't Wanna Be Just Like You

There are life changing moments and there are life defining moments.

My life defining moment came at the lowest point of my life. From the person I was most worried about. Not sure what set me off on this particular day, but I hit my rock bottom.

Sad, lonely, depressed, stuck, anxious, scared.....I was sitting in our basement miserable in my puddle of tears. No one else was home. I think I chose this day to crack as I knew it was too scary to share this breakdown with anyone anyway. I just needed to let it all out, face my darkness and start crawling out of the hole I had dug for myself. I was tired of trying so hard to be perfect and seeing the reminders every day of how much I had failed at exactly that.

In the throes of my sobbing from that deep deep part of me, I heard a noise behind me. It was Mitch. He was suddenly there. Oh boy. It was too late to stop the flow, the release-- there was no way I would be able to collect myself and pretend that everything was okay.

He asked: What's wrong mom? Are you okay? He gave me a hug which just made me cry more.

"No"-- was all I could manage. No I thought, how can I be okay when the world feels like it is crashing around me. Everything I worked so hard to control is crashing and burning right in front of me. Even you. Especially you. I am scared for you, worried for you, lost in how to reach out to you.  Tired of trying and failing and trying and failing. At being a mother. At being a career woman. At being happy. At being me.

I have no idea what I am doing. Fresh tears tore through my gut. My heart. My whole self.

I think I said something to the effect of: "I will be okay."

But I didn't feel okay. It was a lie at that moment. I didn't feel like it would be okay at that moment. Or ever. I was sorry. I was sorry for being sorry. I was lost. I was unhappy. My stomach hurt 24/7 and I wasn't sleeping well either. I was just plain miserable. And ready for a change.

But what came out of my mouth was a mom thing:  "I will be okay I just need to let this all out."

"Sorry for what?" he queried.

"Everything. Everything I ever did wrong." I said.

Everything I have screwed up with you. With Alec. With Sadie. I am so sorry I thought.

"Mom, I am fine. I will be fine. You and dad are the best people I know. I want to be just like you when I grow up." And there were nicer words that followed but I cannot remember them. I could not hear them.

His first words struck a chord deep down in my misery.

What? Did he really just say what I think he said?

I stopped crying. And I began to breathe again.

From this seemingly unlikely source, the person I felt most disconnected from, and was most worried about--came the exact words I needed to hear to begin my journey forward. Back to me.

What I wasn't quite yet ready to admit to my son at that moment was this:

I am a joke. I am 50 years old and I have no idea what I am doing or how to really be me. One thing I know for sure is you do not want to be just like me.

You want to be just like YOU.

You are more than enough just the way are. No changes needed --just find and keep your center. It is the heart of you and all that is good. It is all you ever need.

Stay true to you. Don't let the world dumb you down, keep you safe, or stop your dreams. Live as YOU and the rest of your life will fall into place. Don't do things to please others, which is not to say don't be nice to others or show compassion and thoughtfulness, that is important too.

Just do what you know to be right for you --do not lose touch with your center and what feels right, though this is the secret no one tells us as kids. You are born knowing what is right for you.

We learn it someone else's way, through someone else's filter when we are young. And that is where the trouble starts, the losing our own center part.

My way is just that --my way.

And that means that your way is just that also ---your way.

Both are right. And both are occasionally wrong.

Both are enough. Both are important. Both are necessary.

Son of mine, you are: right, enough, important, necessary and LOVED.


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!

I Like The Me I Am Now

If you knew your time left on earth was limited, would you change your current routine? If the answer to that question is yes then consider yourself warned; your time is limited. Everyone's is. Although I turned 51 a few months ago, some days I feel like I am still that kid in high school who was contemplating what she should write in answer to the question: What do you think your life will be like 10 years from now?

Back then ten years sounded like a lifetime away. It was hard to imagine specifics in my life -- I wasn't even positive which direction I would head as I went off to college. My truthful answer was that in ten years I hoped I'd be happily married to the man of my dreams, with kids and a house, & money in the bank. I don't think I wrote that because I felt the pressure to add more to it, like the plan for my career to ensure I was successful, independent and responsible. Trouble was I couldn't really see my future as anything specific, just the desire to be happy.

In my effort to get through college spending the least amount of money I could, I graduated with a degree in Journalism with a heavy emphasis on Marketing & Advertising. After graduation I sort of fell into a 30 year career based on connections I made via a temporary summer job. Marrying the man of my dreams, that took a little more work, although I recognized him almost immediately after walking into the lobby of my college dorm. Trouble was, he didn't reciprocate my feelings right away. In the end it all worked out. And so did me graduating early from college and him graduating one semester late---which put us college graduates at the same time, engaged 4 months later, then married one year later. Perfect.  We became home owners after one year of marriage and our first child came 12 years after I graduated from high school. I missed the mark on my original ten year plan by a little there. 

In retrospect I had accomplished all I had set out to achieve by the time I reached my mid forties. But all that planning and achieving left me unprepared to face what came next ---now that my "job" raising my kids was done, who was I? What did I want to do next? That is when I discovered what I really needed was to spend some time with myself, to tune into me. 

If you are my age or even over 40 you might be facing some of the same questions right now. What comes next for you? If you were to sit down and do the passion test with me, it will more than likely show a focus inward (mine started around age 45), which makes most people feel they are being selfish, when in truth they need the "me" time to recalculate.

At some point after all the accomplishing it is necessary to begin focusing inward and living life for you, not living life as you think others want you to. We were taught by the generation before us that we could and should be able to do it all. Problems come when we get away from our true selves and begin living the life we think we should, and not the life that would make us happiest.

It took me a long while to understand that now it is time to play the role of ME. The role I was born to play --before I got swept up in a life of accomplishment and achievement. It was hard for me to begin to know how to "play" me again when I had lost touch with my true self. Having spent a year + digging in, I understand what so many others now face. If you are also finding yourself out of touch and overwhelmed, please consider taking a personal growth class, hiring a life coach or attending a vision board workshop with a group of your friends to help get you started on the road to rediscovering the authentic you.

Maybe you, like me, will find that once you get through the crap you will find that you actually like yourself, maybe even always have. It all starts with rediscovering what makes you tick, learning to accept yourself just as you are, and using that knowledge to direct what comes next. 



Are you Addicted to Collecting Tools?

And I don't mean the kind on the workbench that go into a toolbox, I am referring to the "tools" necessary to recharge your life. Things like self-help books, classes, workshops, videos, exercise classes or supplies for new hobbies.

If a person wants more joy or purpose in their daily life, one of the first things they often do is start something new. However if they only get as far as collecting the things to start a new hobby, or move in a new direction--  but never actually begin anything, they won't see much growth. They will simply be a tool collector and end up with more "stuff".

Let's say you have decided you need a creative outlet.  You start by buying all the materials needed to paint. It can be exciting just to research something new, and the trip out to buy those new supplies increases happiness levels. (A combo of shoppers high and a temporary sense of purpose.) What I find much harder, is mustering up the courage to actually use the paints.

For years I thought/said/believed that I had no creative talent. Spending 30 years in a field where I was surrounded by artists of all kinds didn't help me feel confident in my own limited abilities, and being highly critical of myself made it scary to even try. 

A few weeks ago I bought myself watercolor painting supplies and I actually dared to use them. I had so much fun creating "paintings", in truth they were more like scribbles, but I didn't let that bother me, I actually found myself smiling and happy the whole time. It was so freeing to paint and not care what it looked like when I was done. In some strange way it was mindless fun -- and it gave me the space to let some things I had been thinking about gel. As a result of my creative painting, I got clarity from within on something I do have some talent in, my writing.

While I have found it is easy to collect tools, using them is definitely harder. 

So I'm challenging you to do something that moves your spirit forward. Try making some time to read those self-help books you've collected and then be inspired to go do something out of your comfort zone. Take a step in a new direction, volunteer somewhere, join a group of people with a common interest, or sign up to try something you've always wanted to learn more about. You never know where one small step can eventually lead you. This I know from experience.

Question of the Week #51 / What Is One New Thing You Could Try To Get Out of Your Rut?

In case you didn't realize this, it's okay if the something new you try turns out to be something you don't like, or that you eventually lose interest in. It is even okay to stink at that something new and to be disappointed or embarrassed by what you consider a failure, the truth is, it is all part of moving forward and growing up.

If you find yourself liking the something new, you might also want to prepare yourself to be super energized and possibly a little impulsive about what comes next. Some things that I've tried lately have led to such positive energy, new ideas and good karma they've inspired me to take leaps not steps.

My advice: start with a step, but be prepared to leap. Comfort zones are not all they are cracked up to be.

Paddling Upstream or Flowing Down?

Which comes first Joy or Gratitude?

For years my life didn't flow easily.

In fact, it felt like I was constantly paddling upstream. I 'To Do' listed my way through days, weeks, and months of my life. I  judged my own worth by my accomplishments and didn't appreciate much of what I already had. I think I felt some inner need to stay ahead of the current so it wouldn't sweep me downstream. Wonder where I ever learned I had to paddle against the current instead of just going with the flow?

I realize now that life isn't supposed to be so hard.

Instead of allowing life to happen, and appreciating the little beautiful things every day -- I attempted to control the life around me. For years. As if my thinking about every outcome could prevent catastrophes from happening, as if I could ward off future failures and disappointments by doing everything perfectly. I'm pretty sure I thought I could save valuable time by being so darn efficient. What in the world ever made me think this was the best way? What was I saving the time to do anyway ---accomplish more?

Eventually the exhaustion and frustration that comes from continually swimming upstream overwhelms a person---it did me anyway. I became anxious, stressed, couldn't sleep, cried a lot, and was borderline depressed. No matter how perfect I attempted to make things, it was never enough. I felt stuck -- probably what I fear the most in life -- feeling helpless, trapped, unsure of my next move and unable to figure out how to get unstuck. 

One particular low point, as I began the process of digging myself out of my funk, was starting a gratitude journal and struggling to come up with anything to write in it. It all felt forced and insincere even to me. That is when I knew I had to make some serious changes.

Tuning in to all my emotions, the good and the not-so-good, flipping my reactions to responses when things got sticky, and being open to change instead of fighting it made a huge difference. I now can "feel" when control-mode attempts to creep its way back into my life, and I have strategies to stop it.

Over time I changed my negative thoughts, silenced my inner critic and started to see the beauty around me again. It took months of focused work, and some help from unexpected new friends, but I did it. I am proud of the changes I have made and the person I have become.

I no longer paddle upstream. In fact I have such a sensitivity to anything that feels like stress, worry, or control that on some days I don't pick up a paddle at all, I simply allow the current to guide me. I hope to never go back to my old way of being.

Flow is beautiful. Joy is energizing. Gratitude is exhilarating. 

Question of the Week #39 / When is the last time you felt like you were going with the flow of life's current?

What were you doing? Who were you with?  Where were you (specific place)? And, can you get there again?







Find Your Own Fun | Do You Even Allow Yourself Time To Think About Fun?


“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they’re looking for ideas.” — --- Paula Poundstone

I recently completed a passion mining exercise and surprisingly among my top 5 passions emerged this one: "Have more fun with friends and family."

I wasn't expecting to see fun among the top 5 but maybe that is because I don't actively spend time thinking about it. I guess I ruminate about things like purpose, meaning and how I can make a difference in the world and still provide income for my family so often, that I rarely think about fun.

I suppose it seems like f-u-n should just happen, but even as I purposefully attempt to slow my life down, I realize that some of us have to work at "fun" more than others. We have to be deliberate in making time for it. Left to my own devices I would oftentimes choose accomplishment over f-u-n. It is in my nature (and always has been) to set goals, to be efficient and to get things done. This exercise made me see that somewhere deep down I believe I am missing out -- or have missed out on some fun time in life.

It is weird that I can make myself a giant "to do" list of things I think I should get done,  in less than a minute -- pretty much at any given time. But creating a list of  fun things is more work than it should be. Each item I start to add to the list has so many buts attached to it: I'd like to write my book, but.....I really need to respond to the emails in my inbox in case one of them leads to my dream job. Or I'd love to spend the day making something out of paper, but I really should update my Linked In profile first. There always seems to be something more practical to do.

I have also come to realize that everyone has a different idea of what "fun" is. I imagine some people draw their ideas of  possibilities for new "fun" by watching others enjoying an activity. We might notice someone sailing for example, and think: "I should try that." Or maybe our idea of fun is based on an activity we used to love doing, and we think we'd be having a lot more fun if only we had time to ..... sew, paint, or grow a garden again.

But the truth is that finding "fun" can sometimes be a moving target. It can depend on our mood, our current job or life situation, the weather, our health, our attitude, even our unique personality and how we are wired on the inside. And I think  our ideas of fun change as we grow older, too.

So how often do you allow yourself time to rethink "fun"?   

The Question of the Week #27/  What Do You Consider Fun and Do You Need More Of it in Your Life Right Now?

Need help  jump starting your list? Here are something things that helped me rethink my idea of fun.

What did you do as a kid?

I am a big believer in thinking back to when we were kids and remembering what we spent our free time doing. One of my earlier questions of the week revolved around what roles you played as a kid. Now think about the activities you spent time doing, especially on rainy days. The things that interested you then, might actually help you think of things you want to do now.

Go big.

In other words don't let others tell you that your idea of fun isn't acceptable. If you like collecting things, or scrapbooking or reading children's literature or writing poetry, do it. Fun is as unique to you as is everything about you.

It's ok to change your mind.

Lots of people find that they love the idea of doing something but once they get started do not actually even like doing it. (Include me in this category). As we age our bodies change, our patience levels adjust, and our basic needs are different... so things we once found fun might not interest us anymore. Like dusting off that softball glove, or  putting on the roller blades.... clearly that would be entertainment only for those watching my attempt, not for the parts of my body sure to end up on the ground.

Here are my current ideas of FUN:

1. A day with no schedule, no responsibilities

2. Reading for hours (a real printed book)

3. Deeply connecting with someone via a face to face conversation

4. Helping someone see things differently, showing them a new perspective

5. Playing with my camera

6. Karaoke

7. GROOVIN' with friends

8. Taking a walk

9. Teaching someone something new

10. Relaxing in the sun

My choices are different than they once would have been. A lifetime of being an extrovert has left me with strangely introverted ideas of fun as I age. I now enjoy my time alone or with limited people around. I like doing less of the organizing I once thrived on. Instead I like to just be,  with time to think, to be more spur of the moment and to live without a plan. A few years back my list would have been filled with more active doing, and centered more around helping others have fun around me. Not sure if this new idea of fun for me is an age related thing or maybe I am now able to hear my inner voice, the one that is telling me to slow it down and take time to enjoy this life, or it will surely pass me by.

I'm curious about your list, did rethinking your idea of FUN change any of the things you thought would be on it?

Please comment and share... and don't forget to do something fun just for YOU this week.


What Are Your Memories Telling You? / Question of the Week #18

Summer fun

There's things that happen in a person's life that are so scorched in the

memory and burned into the heart that there's no forgetting them.  --John Boyne

When you think back to when you were little, or even over the whole of your life, what things stand out to you? Are they specific memories? Are they general thoughts or visions --you know riding your bike through the field, searching for Morel mushrooms, playing Barbies, beads, kickball?


Or are they compliments? Criticisms? Accomplishments? Things that were said to you that hurt your feelings? Are you in specific places:  like your basement, your cabin or cottage, on a vacation, at your Grandparent's house or at school? Do all the memories have a common theme to them? (i.e. do they involve bike riding, or food, action -- sports, swimming, biking, kick ball or vacations?) Now think about how you see those memories....are they in first person or third? Is it like watching a movie of the scene with you in it --as if it is videotaped? Or are you seeing it through your eyes, in first person --- or is it a snapshot, like a photo in an album? Obviously I've got lots and lots of questions I can ask and this exercise works best if you are sitting across the table from me, but this will have to do for now. Being a substitute teacher in many schools and districts gives me the opportunity to ask these questions to captive audiences. (one benefit I LOVE of being a sub is having a tiny bit of wiggle room in what you need to accomplish in the class). I am taking  every opportunity lately to help kids learn to see their own natural talents, and also understand the natural talents of others. While some are bored as I ask my questions, most are interested and play along with me. (Heck it is better than doing history or science homework, right?). There are some kids that ask me why I want to know how they think, and my short answer is that I am fascinated by how individual (yet the same) we all are. I am interested in memories because I feel they tell us something about our personalities. (I just haven't figured it out yet)--but, I will. So if you are willing to share yours in the comment section of this blog, I will use it to make my observations. Think of the millions of memories that are stored in our brains. Why do only certain things stand out? There has to be a reason. Are they life defining, did they initiate change in us, did they scare us, delight us, move us? Clearly,  I'm fascinated...

Question of the Week: In Looking Back to When You Were Young, What Do You Remember?

I remember most things as if I can see the scene--as if there was a videographer in the corner filming parts of my life. Very rarely do I see it through my own first person eyes. Certain parts (earlier years) I see in photos. The common thread between many of my memories is that they are things that people said to me. Whether it be an adult telling my mom I was bossy, or overhearing another saying that I had gotten fat in college, or a neighbor stopping to report that I had ridden my bike down the driveway and turned into the street (without stopping at the bottom of my driveway and looking). I remember them all. Not the praises, or the compliments, those really didn't stand out to me--it was the criticisms, the mistakes I made. I remember some scary things, like my sister cracking her head open so many times, my dad's tonsils hemorrhaging, the time I fell off a bike and scraped up my knee so bad it is still scarred.  The one or two times I heard my parents fight. I remember being embarrassed when a boy asked me to "go with him", and I asked, "Go where?" He meant, "Will you go steady and be my girlfriend?" Oops. I remember not being prepared for presentations or tests and knowing I did not do my best. I remember all the things that I learned lessons from. Because that is the kind of mind I have. I have learned that I am a highly sensitive person, and that is one of our traits, to always be thinking, learning, and never making the same mistake twice. It might seem like I was unhappy growing up but you'd be wrong. Because I was so happy, and safe, I don't think of only good memories like some people who didn't have as secure of a childhood as I did, I remember my life as a kid in a general sense: as carefree, happy, fun. Summers were hot and stretched on forever. Winters were filled with adventure. I read, I played games, I built forts, did puzzles, crafted, searched for Indian mounds and rocks, collected night crawlers, spent endless hours fishing in a boat with my whole family.  I can recall all those as well, in general senses, but specific memories are the ones that caused me to learn, to change, to grow, to confront, to accept. And because of that, I remember them. What do your memories tell you?

“Unhappy memories are persistent. They're specific, and it's the details that refuse to leave us alone. Though a happy memory may stay with you just as long as one that makes you miserable, what you remember softens over time. What you recall is simply that you were happy, not necessarily the individual moments that brought about your joy. But the memory of something painful does just the opposite. It retains its original shape, all bony fingers and pointy elbows. Every time it returns, you get a quick poke in the eye or jab in the stomach. The memory of being unhappy has the power to hurt us long after the fact. We feel the injury anew each and every time we think of it.” ―   Cameron Dokey

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)






No Really, I Love Being A Fun Sucker

I am not your friend.Don't misunderstand me, I'd love nothing more than to just be your friend, but it is not my job.

I'm your parent.

And with that goes the biggest responsibility I've ever been entrusted with.

So as to not mess up this assignment...I am going  to follow the rules of what it means to be a parent, even when it sucks to be me. Which honestly, is often.

Wouldn't I rather just agree with you, exchange a few surface niceties and go about my merry way, instead of endlessly dragging out of you whatever your latest problem is? Oh heck yes.

But that isn't the job I took on. And I'm not one to brush things aside, let half truths lie, or hold feelings inside, for long.

So I will scold, prod, encourage, advise, push, pull, question and challenge my way through your week. Every week.

I will even say "no" to you, and I will say it often, without reason, with reason and every place in between.

Because I love you. Because I care. Because I can. Because I am your parent.

I won't attempt to buy your love with special treats, or adventures. I'll instead buy you "real" food, boots, underwear, deodorant, glasses, shampoo and all the other necessities required. I won't help you buy a car you can't afford, instead I will take you to the doctor when you are sick, navigate through your medical bills, bank statements and job applications when they don't make sense, stay up half the night when you have had too much to drink, all in hopes that someday you will learn to be independent. That you will make better choices.

I'd really rather go with you to the flea market, or bowling, out for Chinese or shopping...but instead I will work, so I can pay the bills.  I'll do the laundry, clean the house, do the grocery shopping and make sure everyone has a safe, clean and healthy place to live and thrive. A place where friends are welcome and wanted. Where birthdays are celebrated. Where accomplishments are celebrated. And failures are discussed.  I'll go to the boring school meetings, the conferences, and attend any baseball games I can fit into my work day.

And when things go wrong in your life, or you face disappointment or failure, I'll still be here---living my boring, predictable existence. Ready to lift you up or bring you back down to reality.  All the while doing my best at the hardest job I will ever take on, being your parent.  So you can have a chance at a life beyond what you were born into. A life with choices. A life where you can live to be anything you want to be.

I'm your parent, I'm not your friend. And I will always be here.

It actually hurts to say that I am not your friend, because someday I sure would like to be.

In the meantime I'm right here. I haven't changed, even though you have.

I am still the reality check. The thorn in your side. The fun sucker.

The one who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

And I will remain that person, no matter how far you push me away.

Because it is my job as your parent. And I intend to be the best parent I can.

Where do you find strength when life gets hard?