“Letting Go...Embracing Change...”
Living the Life I Dream
“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.” ~ Nicole Krauss A few days ago, I came across one of the funniest pieces of writing I’ve encountered in a...
Over the past eighteen years, my hair has been every color from a too dark brown to a light, light blonde. I’ve had highlights and lowlights and washes and tints. I turned my hair green once and a lovely shade of apricot on two separate...
“You share with people who earn the right to hear your story.” Dr. Brene Brown It’s a delicate matter. It really is. I really don’t know how to proceed. As I consider my options, a lot is coming up for me and I keep hearing the words...
“Wherever the fates lead us let us follow.” – Virgil
Recently, I find myself on a cusp. I’ve been eliminating and simplifying, carefully considering the value and necessity of what I keep in my life. I’ve turned in my notice at the J-O-B and am intently working on a few projects that I will be sharing soon. I feel for the first time in a very long time that I am in transition; an extremely good transition.
Right now, what I most want to do is focus. I want to go deep. I just want to give myself a bit of time to grow. I’ve decided to honor these urges by holding space for myself.
I’m still writing; even more than before. I’m still here; even more present than before. For the next little bit, I am keeping my attention on these projects and the things I need to learn to bring them to fruition. I’m tending to my soul and nourishing my body. I’m loving those whom I adore and holding them close in my life and my heart.
This website has become a very special place for me. I hope it is for you too. If you’re so inclined, you can subscribe using the box to your right. That way you won’t miss a thing. In the meantime, if you need to get in touch hit me up on facebook as I hang out there from time to time.
Now, a question for you. What are one or two things you need to do to honor yourself and your journey? What do you do to hold space for yourself? I hope you’ll take a second to share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
We all have tools in our box. What I mean is each of us has certain things we do to help us cope when we feel stress. Some of us grab a glass of wine or drink beer in the shower. Others shop or watch endless hours of tv. I know people who hit the gym to let off steam and others who say that spending an hour in a yoga class makes all the difference in the world.
None of these things are necessarily good or bad in and of themselves. It’s only when the thing we are doing begins to prevent us from accomplishing our dreams or negatively effects our health and finances or starts to harm our relationships with family and friends that we have to step back and decide if it’s a behavior we want to continue.
Many years ago, as the mother of three small children living in Knoxville, Tennessee, I developed a shopping problem. Knoxville’s weather pretty much sucks year round. Summer’s are fraught with humidity and thunderstorms and winter’s are dank and gray. Spring brings some of the the coldest weather of the year and fall’s rotting leaves set off my mold allergies. Did I mention the mosquitos? Yep, we had those too.
Many of my days were tedious at best. To break the monotony of changing diapers, wiping noses, and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I would load the kids up in the mini van and head to West Town Mall or Target. In that climate controlled, bug free environment, the kids were entertained and distracted and I got a temporary reprieve from my domestic duties.
While we pushed up and down the aisles, I’d spot a dress that was perfect for my daughter, see dish clothes to replace the ones with holes, or pick up new socks for my husband. I’d grab some laundry detergent and a pair of shoes for myself and $50 or $75 or $100 later, I was on my way home.
I always had coupons and I always shopped sales. I always bought things we really, really needed. It was all good.
Except that by doing this once or twice weekly over a period of months, I found that I had run up some considerable credit card debt. Honestly, I was stunned. How could my forays to “gather” the things we needed have caused this problem?
For weeks, I went through bank and credit card statements. I started monitoring my spending carefully. I started asking myself the question, “what is enough?” I changed my shopping behavior and I paid down the debt.
Most important, I recognized that the shopping was my way of escaping from the stress of being mom for a bit. In a store, I could distract myself. Buying stuff was fun. I got a little rush from that new set of note cards. I could dream about the family home I was going to decorate, how cute the kids would look in their new clothes, and how happy they’d be reading the book I just bought.
As I combed through the statements, I realized what I really needed was a break from being mom. So, I enrolled my kids in a great mother’s day out program where they could safely play for a few hours each week. I found an amazing sitter with a flexible schedule who could help out from time to time. Finally, I started doing production work for television commercials where I could spend a couple of days each week earning money and hanging with people who didn’t want to talk about children’s bowl movements, Barney, or teething.
Now when I shop, I do it because I need something. I have my target items firmly in mind and a set budget in place. I hit the store, look for what I need, and leave as soon as I find or don’t find it. There is no more wiling the hours away as I distract myself from the stress of my days.
I wish I could say that this was the only negative coping pattern which I’ve fallen into. I wish I could say from this point forward I found lots of positive ways to hadle my stress. Sadly, that’s not the case. While I extinguished this one particular negative habit, there have been others like this one and this one.
We absolutely should do everything we can to limit the drama and stress in our day to day lives. Even doing this, there will still be stressful situations that crop up from time to time. Good, happy, positive situations cause stress too. Starting a new job or business is a happy, stressful time. Being creative, while yielding amazing results, pushes our stress buttons. Birthdays, weddings, and celebrations of all kinds add stress to our lives.
I realized I needed tools to help me deal with stress be it positive or negative as it cropped up. I needed techniques to keep me in a happy and relaxed state of mind all the time. I needed methods to keep me on track so I could handle whatever was thrown my way good or bad.
So, I started looking for tools I could put in my box. Things I could go back to over and over and over again that wouldn’t make me fat or run up the balance on my credit card or harm my relationships. I’ve delved deep and tried many different things. Some worked wonders and others were just meh.
To be honest, many of the things I tried felt weird and seemed freaky and kind of woo-woo. I have no clear cut understanding of why the woo works, I just know that it does. My scientific brain wants clear cut schematics, but in the end, I decided to just embrace the woo. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of my favorite tools here. Among them are prayer, affirmations, forgiveness, gratitude, tapping, physical activity, and meditation, to name a few.
These are the things that I use daily to keep myself at peace and employ anytime I feel that little stress bubble forming in my belly. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. Feel free to jump in with comments and questions. If you like what you read, please share it with your friends. Don’t want to miss an essay? Subscribe to get updates in your inbox using the box to your right. Thanks for being here. It means a lot to me.Read More
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?.” – Marianne Williamson.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Ananis Nin
To say I despise bucket lists would be an understatement. For years, I refused to even consider making one. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone and their aunt’s mother’s brother has one. Maybe it’s the fact they all contain the same trite items. I don’t know. The whole thing just bothers me, a lot. It feels insincere and inauthentic. It feels wrong.
Does everyone really want to skydive? I know hurling myself out of an perfectly good aircraft has no appeal to me. Then there’s running a marathon which I’d be willing to bet shows up on ninety percent of all bucket lists made. Why bother? Anything over ten miles is more an exercise in proper hydration and fueling.
With all this swirling in my mind, I sat down about two years ago and began making what I decided to call a “dream list.” Yes, I thought I was being clever by giving it another name. Any-who…my intention was to only populate it with things that I really cared about accomplishing. That way it wouldn’t turn into another sucky bucket list.
Occasionally over the past two years, I’ve taken it out and “dreams” were added and deleted. Each time I just felt really uncomfortable with the whole stupid process. For goodness sake, I was raised to eat my feelings and run from my dreams. I was not raised to make lists of super cool stuff I wanted to do, and I definitely wasn’t raised to talk about it.
So, while I resisted the overwhelming urge to dig a big hole in which to bury myself, I had to ask why I was so afraid. After some serious contemplation, I realized I have some firmly held beliefs at my core that are feeding my deep-seated fears.
I realized I believe that nice girls are practical and do what is expected of them and they like it or else. I realized I believe nice girls don’t have dreams; they don’t want things. Wanting things is just plain greedy. Nice girls aren’t greedy.
Mostly, I realized I believe nice girls must remain hidden. We have to stay small. I also realized I just don’t think I really deserve awesome or wonderful or great. Nice girls take average and ordinary and they’re o.k. with that. God forbid I not be a nice girl.
But I also realized that by being a nice girl, I’m allowing my dreams, my life, to slip away.
So, I’m pulling out the old dream list and brushing it off. I’m taking a deep breath, searching my soul, and writing down every single thing I’ve ever wanted to do. To the average and everyday goals, I’m adding every crazy, insane, over the top thing I can conjure. I’m weighing each carefully, editing thoughtfully, and making sure that what’s left is stuff that really resonates with me.
I’m doing this for me and at some point, I will publish it. Laugh if you will. Bottom line, I have the right to be seen and heard. I have the right to succeed. Most of all, I have the right to have awesome and wonderful and great.
I’m also doing this for my kids. I talk to them all the time about living great, big, giant lives. I encourage them to search their souls for what lights them up and to walk to the beat of their own drum. Talk is cheap. The best way to lead is always from the front.
And no, I still have no desire to jump from a plane. I am; however, reconsidering the marathon. It is my list after all.
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“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell
My oldest is a Marine. He’s been in for three and a half years. His contract is for five. He spent most of the first year training. The next two years he was far from home on the island of Okinawa. This made me extremely happy. Not that he was so far away, but because if you’re already overseas, you’re probably not going to be deployed.
Zak is a tactical data network specialist. That’s Marine slang for computer nerd. When people hear this, they immediately assume that he will be tucked away safe in some air conditioned office stateside for the duration of his military career. I wish this were true.
What they fail to understand is that every Marine is a rifleman first. What that means is that a Marine, whether he is a grunt on the front lines, a cook, or a computer nerd, is expected to always be ready to fight. Combat readiness for every Marine is serious business. The other thing I think they fail to understand is that Marines use computers to communicate, and all Marines, especially the ones risking their lives on the front lines, depend on the technology Zak has mastered.
As a tech guy he is “attached” to battalion. In Okinawa, he was attached to a battalion whose motto was something along the lines of “we get as close to the enemy as we can and blow it up.” Not really comforting stuff for a mama. Luckily, while he was with them, there wasn’t much that needed blowing up. Now he’s attached to infantry. Those are the men trained to fight face-to-face on the front lines. His battalion operates in some of the most dangerous areas in the world.
Where they go, he goes, and they are going to be deployed.
For the past three and half years, I have worked diligently to block deployment from my mind. I’ve prayed many a prayer that the politicians in Washington would decide it was time to pull all our troops before my son could be sent. No such luck.
Zak and I talk and text from time to time, but he doesn’t say much. He gives me information in small bits and pieces. I could blame the Marines, but it’s always been this way with Zak. What I do get from him is that they are all working crazy long hours training. Zak says he is looking forward to it, but it’s with the focus and the tension of a fighter getting ready to step into the ring. He answers my questions, but his eyes are forward, unblinking, looking towards the job that has to be done.
Where his attention flows, mine follows. I’m his mother. It’s not a choice.
As the deployment looms large, I’ve had no choice but to open my eyes. First, there were the emails from the family readiness officer. Next, there was the task of connecting with private groups for Marine parents. Then, today, there was a post. It was in honor of the Marines of the battalion my son belongs to who died during their last deployment.
Today it got real.
Yes, I know Zak is more likely to be killed in a car wreck or by pulling some crazy stunt that twenty somethings find endlessly amusing. I know that most Marines come home safe and sound and live long, happy and productive lives. I know Zak is more than well-trained to do the job he needs to do. I also know he is walking into this situation willingly with the most bad-ass-well-trained-big-hearted-men who walk the planet.
But as I look at the sweet faces of the ones who gave their lives, as I gaze into their smiling eyes, all I can think about is the lives that will not be lived. And my heart breaks for the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and wives and children left behind. And the only face I really see is the face of my son.
Say what you will, but I carried him in my belly for nine long months, and I’ve loved him with my whole heart for over twenty long years. I don’t want him to go. I don’t want any of them to go.
I don’t have a choice.
Instead I’ll do what I can. I’ll love and support my son. I’ll pray for him and every Marine with him. I’ll hold tight to the belief that they will all remain safe and come home to the love of family and friends to live the lives they dream of living.
Note: I’ve not been given any dates or locations. At this point everything is on a need to know basis. The Marines don’t think I need to know and I’m rolling with that.Read More