May 9, 2014
The reality of impermanence overtook me this week. My control issues as a mother overwhelmed my heart. Knowing that my 22-year-old daughter would be flying to China today and far out of my reach made my heart clench in my chest. At the same time, my heart was filled with joy for this wonderful opportunity she is living.
The looming departure that would separate us by continents and oceans dominated my consciousness. Fraught with worries and ‘what ifs’, I willed myself to keep moving and helping her prepare to leave. At the same time, it was clear to me that these feelings do not match with my belief system built on faith, trust, and embracing life as it is knowing there is no ultimate control. And yet I am human and I am a mother. Her trip half way around the globe brought existential truth and the reality of impermanence straight to the center of my attention.
At some point, I had a talk with myself. The worry and powerlessness were keeping me from being fully present to her. These emotions were keeping me from enjoying these precious wonderful moments with her. I wanted to breathe her in, hear every word she spoke, and wallow in her joy and excitement. Watching her, I saw a strong, confident, capable woman embarking on her first independent adventure.
This week was an opportunity to absorb her as she is now. She will return home a changed woman as a result of her experiences. My perspective shifted into the gift of this time with her prior to her departure and knowing I will witness her evolution when she returns. It is comforting to have my own adventures in my memory bank to draw from and relate to what my girl is about to step into.
Someone asked recently how this was different from when I went to India five years ago for six weeks. “Very different indeed!” I replied with passion. That was me leaving and taking risks and feeling very much in control. This is her leaving me…and me not having any control or ability to rush to her aid should she need me. I also know the joys and soul stretching moments that traveling brings. The thrill of knowing the new places she would find within herself were countered with the knowing that there will be challenges too. Challenges she will have to handle on her own. Mama lioness protector kicks in here.
When my children were growing up, there were many heart seizing ‘firsts’ that called for me to let go. The first sleep over, dropping them off for three weeks of camp, flying away on trips with grandparents and dropping them off at college. These all seem easy compared to where I stand now. I’ve never considered myself an over protective parent. It has been my intention to raise them to go boldly out into the world. This was just another opportunity to reach inside myself and find the courage to evolve as a parent.
So while I flit around the house…keeping busy with the silliest of chores…I know I am growing too. I am stretching my heart and opening to grace. (Did I mention that this is painful??) There is nothing for me to do but trust and let go. Let her go into her life and keep these worries to myself. After all, this is her adventure, which I refused to cloud with my concerns and constrictions. My adventure is private and within. Someday if she is a mother she will have her own inner adventure of struggling to let go. And maybe she will share it with me realizing that I have already survived that challenge.
These feelings reconciled slowly over the week. The intensity that gripped at me has dissipated and left me open to sharing in her excitement. My parting words to her were not “be careful, keep in touch” yet rather “live large, keep your heart open, and don’t miss a thing.” It felt good to believe in her and trust life while feeling joy and delightful anticipation of the return the new woman she will have become…while appropriately out of my reach.
April 18, 2014
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, – not the absence of fear.
Today I am reflecting on a bumper sticker that reads “Remember Who You Wanted To Be.” It reminds me of the excitement I felt over the discovery of freedom and space to be myself when my marriage ended. With the pressure of working on a relationship and analyzing myself intently removed, I could breathe again.
As time moved on, this exhilarating experience lost its luster and I was faced with the task of rediscovering myself in this new life. Without titles and associated responsibilities as my compass, who was I now?
My life had been a process of self-creation starting with college. For 17 years, I had been highly influenced by my family and their traditional roles. In college, I discovered my wilder earthier side. From preacher’s kid to hippy, I ran wild and free intoxicated with the realization that I could discover myself and grow into whoever I wanted to be in this life. Psychedelics were helpful in this pursuit.
So how would I recapture that sense of adventure in order to create any life I chose for myself? How to feel 20-ish rather than cautious mid-40ish? I was determined to rebirth that youthful spark of fearlessness.
In pursuit of living true courage, I am learning so much. One thing is my worries are born of life experiences that my indestructible 20-year-old self knew nothing about. Life experiences had made impressions on my heart and mind. Maybe that is what I am observing when I see people taking less risk as they grow older; quietly moving into their comfort zone.
I am also learning that it is not about being fearless, it is about pushing through the fear. To stop challenging and discovering myself would be to begin a slow, quiet death. That’s just not my style.
When new challenges come my way, such as surfing, kayaking or waterfall repelling, I can feel myself hesitate. My heart feels grabbed with uncertainty. Then I fortify myself with thoughts of how sad I would be if I missed out on the fun and the thousands of people who have done this before me. Once I am on the board or headed down the waterfall, only joy fills my heart. In these courageous moments, I find my core essence that strengthens me.
There are also other day-to-day times that surprisingly require courage. As an example, even though I have pulled my horse in his trailer many times, the potential for danger is always present in my mind. Some days (for reasons I cannot determine) this is scarier than others. And yet, this is something I love to do. Will I really allow trepidation to get in the way of something that fills my heart completely? No…I will not.
My choice is to either allow these experiences to freeze me up and keep me safely home with my predictable routines or use the wisdom of my life to walk into the adventure of living my dreams even if I am afraid. In these moments I choose to focus on my courage rather than my fear and appreciate myself for doing it. This practice opens my heart rather than constrict it with fear.
This applies to so much, not just the physical adventures I’ve described. Many things in life can invite fear. Making a significant career move, investing time in a dream you’re not sure will work out, going out into the world, speaking your truth, being your authentic, going back to school, risking your heart in love…truly anything where we can cannot predict the outcome. This is living.
I encourage you to follow your heart and not be deterred by the possibility of success or failure…pleasure or pain. Do sports players hesitate before a playoff game reflecting on the pain they will feel if they lose? I doubt it. The only way out is through. Face the fear, name it, own it, and push on.
Is fearlessness wasted on youth? Nope. Let them have it and I’ll keep my wisdom spiced with life experiences. Perhaps the fear keeps me awake and aware of all I have learned. These challenges are educations that stretch and deepen my love of life and self. I choose to be undaunted and live with voracious courage.
What will you do next that has scared you?
What challenges have you that you tackled and survived?
What did you learn about yourself?
Go out there and live wild and free!
April 4, 2014
Parenting can take its toll on our enthusiasm and zest for life. Even the most enamored of parents have times when they have run out of fuel and everything feels difficult and demanding. If even for a day, feeling cranky makes every little thing a challenge.
It is on those days that I would try to change my perspective to restore my sanity. I loved my daughters, took pride in being a mother, and did not want to feel the way I was feeling about my life. It is difficult to admit that I had a propensity for getting mired down in a gloomy outlook. Once that perspective took hold, it could be quite a challenge to get me to lighten up.
One pattern that could grab me in a heartbeat was to see everything around me as work…even if there was a fun side to it. For example, I would be reluctant to get out the play dough thinking only of the mess that would result rather than imagining the fun and creativity that would happen. Or when one daughter would grab the garden hose and soak the other, I would think about the change of clothes needed now rather than embrace the laughter that was all around me.
Another pattern was hearing myself say, “I’ve got to…” This sent a message of entrapment and lack of freedom, which felt like a heavy pack on my back. The truth is I was victimizing myself. Things shifted when I would challenge myself by asking, “do you really have to? Or do you want to??” This revelation came to me one day while packing up for a picnic and play day at the park. I was quite grumpy as I gathered everything together refusing to look forward to a fun, relaxing afternoon in the sun with my daughters. Wanting life to feel more like play than work, I gently would shift my perspective. Yes. I do want to go to the park and play.
Now well out of the thick of intensive parenting young children, I still confront my attitude and perspective. Just the other night, I went to get my cherished microwavable neck wrap; a personal treasure that eases my aching shoulders at the end of a day. It wasn’t in the basket in my bedroom where it belonged. With a deep sigh, I went to look for it in my daughter’s room. There it was in her bed.
In a moment, the crease in my forehead shifted into a smile. Was it really a problem to look for my neck wrap? Or could it be a sweet sign that she prefers to use mine rather than her own because of how close we have grown. Of course it could be she didn’t know where to find hers…and I think you get my point.
I like to consider this as morphing from an Eeyore to a Pooh. Slowing down and listening to your gloomy perspective then being curious if there is another way to regard the situation can accomplish it. Similar to watching a play and choosing to shift your seat because there is something on the stage you cannot see. Maybe..sometimes…there is something we are missing in the life that is playing out before us.
Is there somewhere you’d like to change your view?
Are you eager for a shift in how you feel and live?
Would you enjoy the relief of shifting from a negative, heavy perspective to a lighter one?
Check it out and feel free to share your experiences with all of us!
February 28, 2014
What if I had believed I had more time?
What if I had boldly taken the time?
Time to paint animal names on stones when we buried them…
Time to bake cookies more often when they asked…
Time to shop for supplies to make Halloween costumes instead of buying them…
Time to go for walks in the woods after school one day a week…
I often believed there wasn’t enough time and I raced…
I know better now.
If you are a parent who laments the fun things that don’t happen in a week…
Or wishes for more soulful moments with your children rather than errands…
Or hears your heart making suggestions you don’t believe you have time for…
Or looks back over a month or a year wondering where the time went and why your good intentions/dreams/plans with your children didn’t happen…
This blog is for you!
I don’t write this to make you crazy.
I write so you might reconsider some of your choices.
Because there is enough time for what is important to your heart…and theirs.
Time and maturity have taught me something amazing.
When I am certain there isn’t enough time to answer what my heart calls me to do and I boldly do it anyway,
Time expands and makes room for everything.
Everything that needs to get done just does. Don’t ask me how. It just does.
On top of that, to make it even better, I feel more content and efficient doing it!
I believe it is something bigger than me knowing better than me…if only I will listen.
These are magical moments. And while I knew there things were more important than picking up groceries or dropping the shoes off for repair…I did not always heed the call.
Sometimes I did and felt gratitude down to my bones.
Magic happened and my daydreams of fun parenting came true!
Other times I pushed on, certain I knew what ‘had’ to happen.
Now I see. Now I know better. Now I am sharing this with you.
Listen to the call of your heart…breathe deep…and follow its lead.
Magic will happen.
February 21, 2014
One of my first blogs was Modeling Imperfection. As a recovering, perfectionistic parent, it was wonderful when learned to understand and accept the importance of not being perfect for my children. The role my imperfections played in making me real, authentic, and a model of loving myself, had never been shown to me. It makes me laugh to imagine how much therapy my children would have needed if they had been raised by a “perfect” parent. Talk about achievement anxiety!
This was an important step in loving and appreciating myself as a parent. However, there were still qualities about myself that I wanted to banish from my personality. Some personal imperfections were easier to accept and have compassion for than others. Deep inside, there were things about me I wish my children did not have to live with at all.
At the time, I had become deeply involved in metaphysical spiritual work for a multitude of reasons including healing myself in a quest to be a better mother. It was in this work that an amazing concept was introduced to me that brought a deep and sudden peace to my heart. As soon as I heard it, it resonated deep within my own knowing. The concept is…children choose their parents before they are born. Somehow, by mutual agreement, our family agreed to do this together.
This was a light bulb igniting for my heart, body and soul. To consider that somehow, someway, crazy kooky as I am, my daughters had chosen me, was a revelation. Whatever they came to do and be, I was the one they needed to be their mom. This meant that who I am is not a mistake or a burden to them. Even my control issue may be the very thing they need to live with to learn some valuable lesson from for this life.
Forgiveness and self-acceptance went to a deeper level. There was Divine order in who I was and the evolution I could model for them. Healing parts of myself was still very important and actually came easier once I discovered the peace of loving me just as I was in that moment. This truth gave me permission to relax, enjoy my children, trust myself, and be grateful for our shared lives. As a result, I became an even better mother.
February 21, 2014
It seems strange to be writing about the wintertime blues on such a spectacular, sunny day in Asheville, NC. And, I know we’re not out of the woods yet so, this cowgirl wanted to share some of her favorite tips for shooting the blues.
January thru March has always been difficult for me with some years being tougher than others. Over the years, I’ve come up with some things that help keep the blues corralled or chase them away. A friend this week shared with me that he found that hard to believe since he always sees me smiling and upbeat. I assured him that even cowgirls with a kick ass attitude get the blues sometimes.
Don’t despair if you’re a cowgirl with the blues. Lock and load some of these ideas and see if they help to put the giddy up back in your step!
•Eat, sleep and hydrate well~ I figure my body has enough to deal with and this is least I can do to help out. Tons of water, no processed foods (easy on the sugar and alcohol), and eight hours a night are a solid recipe.
• Retail therapy within budget~ Treating myself to a new scarf or other small treat fits my budget and puts a smile on my face.
• Move your body~ If the blues have already moved in, this can be tough to do and yet essential to shooting them out. Cold snowy day…bundle up and get around the block walking with intention. Any amount of endorphins will ease your heart….guaranteed.
• Eating ice cream with a sterling silver spoon in a bubble bath~ This is my super, uber indulgent treat! I feel like a queen when I indulge myself with this.
• Sipping wine in bed snuggled up with a good book~ Love this one too! It could also be hot tea if that feels good for you. I love taking a break from reality with a good novel and yummy glass of cabernet.
• Sunlight~ Get as much as possible naturally and pay for it if you have to.
• Play with horses~ Research has shown that horses have the ability to sooth us emotionally due to the size of the electromagnetic field projected from their heart. Touch them, open your heart, and breathe them in.
• Get into nature~ I believe that nature is a natural healer. Every time I’ve gone in the woods, I come back feeling better having left some unwanted ‘stuff’ behind. The trees can process your s*** better than you. Trust me.
• Keep yourself up~ I like to let go in the winter a bit since I am home so much. It could be weeks before I shave my legs…then, I can feel when its time. Manicure, pedicure, condition hair, and mowing my legs puts things back on track. After all, I do have to live with myself.
• Practice speaking fluently in sailor~ I’m a huge fan of letting it rip and letting off some steam. There are some days when it seems f*** finds a way into every sentence I speak. What a relief to have this as an outlet.
• Find something that makes you laugh~ Movie, comedy show, your geeky neighbor or friend. Do whatever it takes.Laughter clears energy just as well as tears and it’s more fun!
• Human touch~ If you’re in a relationship, get a snuggle. If you’re single like me, get a professional massage. You’ll thank me.
• Dance anywhere anytime you can~ Whether it’s going out for live music or making a playlist of the songs you love. Get around music you can’t sit still listening to. Keep that playlist handy and use liberally.
What are your ways of keep the blues at bay or running them off once they arrived?
I love my list and always need more so I hope you’ll share!
February 14, 2014
Here is an article I wrote for the Asheville Citizen-Times on Valentine’s Day 2011.It’s one of my favorites! I hope you enjoy and decide to write your own version of the day!
For years, Valentine’s Day was a day of over the top expectations and inevitable let downs for me. Days that I anticipated with hopeful expectation, whether I had a love interest in my life or not, and then suffering through the crash. High school years with other girl’s arms full of flowers sent by ardent admirers, I imagined, compliments of the Key Club school fundraiser. It was during those years, frustrated and fed-up, that I came upon the idea of how to rework the day and remove the sting. No one said it had to be about romantic love, so why not expand my vision to include love of all kinds in my life.
My girlfriends and I conspired over lunch one day, nibbling at chips and sipping on diet sodas. The idea was revolutionary! Why sit around and wait for someone to buy us flowers when we could buy them for each other! It seemed amazing that we had not landed on this before and the tradition of buying flowers for each other began and continued for the rest of our teenage years. Now we too walked the halls of our high school with our arms full of flowers, how would anyone know they were not from romantic interests? We were not left out anymore and the secret was ours!
As the years went by, I’ve often used the day as a good reason to spread love to all my nearest and dearest….girlfriends alone, fresh out of relationships, family, and eventually my daughters. As they have grown into teenagers, I’ve delighted in sharing with them the day is about love, in all its forms and manifestations. My favorite year was when my teenage daughter brought home 7 girlfriends, all of whom were not in a relationship and deeply bummed about that fact. I treated them to a lavish dinner of chicken parmesan, pasta loaded with cheese, and a decadent dessert. As dessert was served, we raised our glasses of ginger ale and I led a toast. This was my opportunity to impress upon them that men would come and go throughout their lives but girlfriends were forever. I went on to encourage them to always embrace the love of the day, whether romantically involved or not because love is everywhere. To my heart’s delight they all cheered.
There are those whose callused hearts make fun of the day and want to rebel the marketing sensation. Who can blame them when our society drives us to spend and overeat as an expression of love? When the message is romantic love is what counts the most? This rebellious approach seems far too jaded for me. My approach of transforming the day into something really meaningful for me feels like a more authentic approach. Could it be possible that we embrace a socially organized day of love and not buy into the machine? I like the idea of using the energy behind the machine to my own self constructed end.
Men do come and go, and now I am divorced after 18 years of marriage. Despite my best efforts, the first two Valentine’s Day were heartbreaking to be alone after so many years. I persevered, fueled by good memories, and found ways to celebrate the day by sharing my love with those around me I care most about. Baking cookies for my daughters, taking flowers to a lonely friend, and buying something special for myself! The consumer machine is big and all those commercials can pull at my heart with their images of “perfect” love, and for a few moments I do feel sad and alone. It is with gratitude that I also know my heart is bigger than the machine and hope is alive if I can revel in the love that is in my life.
Love is where you find it and create it for yourself. Love can save the world, so why not use this day to celebrate all the love in your life and spread generously the love you have to share, including lavishing it on yourself. It has the potential to make the day better for you and the world a better place to be.
February 14, 2014
It’s LOVE Day. And it doesn’t have to be merely romantic love. Love encompasses much more than that. In raising my girls, I took pride in teaching them about loving themselves and sharing that love with the world. This day brought fun into our home as we celebrated our love as a family. They witnesses their father and I express our romantic love for one another AND we included them in the celebration. As a parent, I prefer to write my own meanings and traditions into any holiday rather than blindly follow societal precepts. It’s more fun and calls me to define my own values, meanings, and celebrations.
As my girls have grown, seeing their ability and willingness to share love with others shows me I’ve done a good job. Love is important everyday and maybe we don’t need a designated day to celebrate it. And I say, “why not?” It’s nice to have a reminder of the importance of love in our lives and our ability to share it with the world.
This week with our ‘epic snow’ here in Asheville, NC, I was blessed to enjoy love and fun with my daughter. We walked and sledded together in the snow thoroughly enjoying one another. Our beloved dog Magic came along for every adventure. He is the Love Ambassador! Being present to my love for her brought great joy to my heart. It occurs to me, yet again, that the greatest gift of love we can give our children is our presence. They feel it when we are not distracted or caught up in our own lives. Their lives are enriched when they experience our loving gaze and full regard. This is the gift of love and maybe the best way to celebrate the day.
Does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day in a special way?
If so, I’d love to hear about it and your thoughts on the day!
Wishing you and your family a weekend and year full of love
January 31, 2014
This week I will begin by confessing to being a logophile. To save you from running for your dictionary, I will tell you it means I am a lover of words. They are rich and omnificent. In my writing and speaking I have grown into a deep appreciation for all that can be conveyed by using the perfect word.
Another confession is that I find people who overly contrive their speech by analyzing every word with the intention of creating the precise reality they want extremely annoying. Many not only want to create their reality, they want to help you create yours too. Toward this end they endlessly point out every word you use that may not be in full accordance with your desired destiny. These are people I do not want dine with let alone share a glass of wine.
While I respect their point of view and acknowledge the power words can wield, I also prefer to not contrive my languaging to the point that it is unnatural. It feels more genuine and authentic to relax, communicate from my heart, and with full presence to the person or people I am with at the time. Words have the ability to shift the mind, heart, and perspective. Having noticed over the years the truth certain words reveal, I prefer to pay attention, truly hear myself, and be aware rather than obsessively police myself. Even when it’s just me talking to myself.
If this appeals to you or you are just curious, read on to consider some of my favorite ways to say what you mean and mean what you say:
• Should vs. Could~ This was the first word that was introduced to me as packing a punch, even if unintentionally. Using the word ‘should’ immediately reeks of judgment. If used in a past tense, as in ‘should have’, guilt can consume my entire consciousness. It seeks to control self or others by the imposition of rules/shoulds not necessarily agreed to. And I ask you…is there truly anything in this world that we ‘should’ do? For what reason? To what end? I propose replacing ‘should’ (little gag in my throat) with ‘could’. The alternative implies choices and freedom. It offers opportunities rather than imprisonment. “I could work this afternoon…you could take the dog on a walk…We could cook rather than go out to dinner.” Already my shoulders are relaxing…aahhh.
• Try vs. Do My Best ~ I only recently discovered my distaste for the word ‘try’. For me it implies that I actually intend or at least expect to fail. Sometimes it conveys uncertainty. If I really don’t want to do something (“I’ll try to make it for drinks at 5”) then I prefer to just say so rather than leave myself slightly on the hook and set up for forgiveness if I fail to follow through. To say “I will do my best” communicates that I am uncertain of my success and I do truly want to achieve whatever it is I am endeavoring to do…make it for drinks, finish a project by a certain time, fulfill a request, etc.… If I cannot say honestly that I will ‘do my best’, then I’d rather not make a false commitment at all. This change of wording also empowers me rather than fill me with doubt about my ability. Gotta love that.
• But vs. And or However ~ A guy I dated a few years ago pointed this one out to me. He made a valid point that using the word ‘but’ completely negates everything you said before it. Hmmm…I was not convinced so I started to pay attention. “I really enjoy your company but I need to end this relationship”. “I do want to come to your party but I have too much to do”. Interesting. By switching to ‘and’ or ‘however’ all my words retain their meaning. These words are inclusive rather than negating. I am a lover of clear and authentic communication.
Pick any one of these this week and see what your languaging reveals to you. Please don’t go crazy and be militant with your self. Just have fun and see what your words reveal. There are more I want to share so I suspect I’ll be writing on this topic again.
Till then, I invite you to share your favorite words or what you experience when you shift the words you use. I’d love to hear from you!
January 31, 2014
Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. It makes demands of us, often without immediate reward, and does not have a quitting time. As a parent, you are on call 24/7.
It is easy to get caught up in the days and weeks forgetting to give ourselves credit for all that we are doing. Even when things are running smoothly and without incident, pausing to appreciate and care for our self is essential to optimal job performance.
Over the years of my parenting career, I’ve often found myself out of balance from having consistently placed myself at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. Everyone and everything else always seemed more important. In my mind, I told myself that I would feel better once ‘x, y, and z’ were done. Of course, as a parent, you are never ‘done’. You might as well be waiting for pigs to fly.
Self-care sustains us and invigorates us to be able to give and do for others. If we’ve not taken the time to fill our own teapot, how can we possibly pour anything into anyone’s cup? While I can share a list with you of good things to do, such as take a walk, maintain a hobby, read a book, have an interrupted chat with a dear friend, etc. What really makes a difference is when you listen to your own heart and hear what it is you really need. What is revealed may surprise you.
When this was first suggested to me, I was stunned to realize that it was very difficult for me to ‘hear’ what I wanted or needed. I had absolutely no idea. That inner voice had been ignored for so long, that she had quit talking. This was a muscle that needed to be re-energized.
To re-establish this connection within myself, I just kept asking and listening…no matter how long it took to hear the answer. Sometimes I would propose specific ideas trying to coax a response. Do you want to do this? Would this be fun/relaxing? The suggestions started to pave the way to knowing what I did want by figuring out what I did not want. The things I did learn that I wanted and needed were not the typical things I expected.
One thing I discovered that was very important to me was having my own ‘space’; an area of my home that was off limits to children. For me, this was my bedroom. This is not to say my daughters never went in there; they needed to have permission. They also knew that if I were in my bedroom with the door closed, they needed to knock. The feeling of sovereignty this gave me was deeply satisfying. Something in the world was designated as mine that I could choose to share or not.
Another revelation was how important my evenings were to me. After having given my all for the day, a consistent bedtime was really important. I loved our routine of bathing, reading, and snuggling and when all was done, I was done. Knowing this about myself helped me to be clear and adamant about them going to bed and staying there. My tone was kind and firm. There would be no negotiating. And I was even heard to say sometimes… “It’s bedtime and I am done parenting for the day. I love you. It’s time to sleep.” (Makes me think of that hilarious book “Go the F*** to Sleep”…check it out for a laugh)
With all the times the children’s needs had to come first, it was honoring and uplifting to place myself first when I could with things that I had discovered were very important to me. Of course there were other, simpler things I discovered that filled my teapot. Afternoon matinees by myself, having one night a month out all on my own or with friends, reading or napping when they napped, and many others.
I am deeply grateful for the parenting coach who first suggested I make a priority of my wants and needs. Not only did I come into balance and be a better parent, I got in touch with a source of inner guidance that helped me in many ways. Listening to that inner voice and knowing how to bring myself into balance sustains me to this very day.