Tuesday, December 23, 2014

That Gingerbread Man that smelled so sweet...


Tonight the traditional Gingerbread-cookie-making ritual begins. I'll make the dough, tomorrow we'll bake them and ice them. My daughter and I have been making these cookies every single year since her birth. I do not think we missed *one* year. Sometimes I would experiment with different recipes... and sometimes I'd be exhausted and buy the pre-made dough, but for 12 years, I flew to Ohio to make cookies and to spend part of the holidays with Candace and her family. Wow. I think I even made cookies two years ago when she passed away. A tradition is a tradition.

Last year was my first year with M out here, living with me. My cookies weren't very good. I made them with gluten free flour and a lot of stress. This year, I am making them from scratch - using real butter, real flour and almost no stress. How things change in a year.

How things change in 14 years.

I think my favorite year was when she was about eight. Her brother was just a toddler. Candace had her house decorated - she had even scavenged a live tree because she knew how much I loved them. I told Candace not to tell the kids what day I was coming. I got to the airport, rented a car, stopped briefly at Kroger, and pulled in the driveway laden with gifts from home and ingredients for gingerbread cookies. The moment I parked the car, the dogs started barking inside the house. Candace had left the back door unlocked knowing I would be coming. I walked in and called out, "Ho! Ho! Ho!"

Little M came running in from the other room screaming, "MK!MK!MK!" and gave me the biggest hug ever - I think she had tears in her eyes she was so excited. Her little brother came toddling in behind her and hugged my leg. I could barely set my luggage down and hobble into the kitchen.

There is something to be said for tradition. For ritual. It is the time of year for it. And while tradition can be something that holds people back, it can also be the foundation from which we build our lives. Making gingerbreadmen is a tradition I will follow every year I have my daughter with me, and even into the future when she goes on to college and then someday shares the holiday not just with me but with her own version of family. The smell and taste of gingerbread will always be something that grounds me and reminds me of blessings I have in my life.

Speaking of tradition, I'm watching 'White Christmas' with Bing Crosby and my favorite Irving Berlin song just came on:

Traditions can be amazing blessings - if you feel so inclined, share some of your blessings and traditions with me, I'd love to hear about them!

Many blessings to you all this holiday season - so many it is difficult to count! May your own traditions warm your heart and ground you as you prepare to enter the new year with all the joy and resolutions to come!



Monday, December 01, 2014

Weighing of the Heart


Do you know the Egyptian story of the weighing of the heart? Let me give you the short version. The Egyptians believed that upon death, the soul or "akh" would, using the Book of the Dead as a guide and often Anubis as well, work through the 12 gates of the Duat on the journey to the the Hall of Judgement. Once in the hall, the initiate would recite the 42 confessions in front of the 42 judges. Then, the heart would be put on the scale against Ma'at's white feather of Truth. If the scales didn't balance, the akh would be thrown to the crocodile god Ammit and the soul devoured. If the heart was not 'heavy' and the scales balanced, the akh would be welcomed by Osiris to the Field of Reeds - where the akh would rejoin family and loved ones.

My birthday is next week. I'll be 47.  The number doesn't bother me, I'm not sure I look my age, and I'm pretty sure I don't always act it. 

Joseph Campbell said, "Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up.”  I feel, around my birthday, like part of me is breaking away and something new is evolving. Around this time of year, I seem to find myself re-enacting my own "Weighing of the Heart" ceremony.

I don't throw myself to the crocodile god if I feel I haven't lived by my truth during the proceeding year, but I do find myself evaluating where I was a year ago, and where I am now.

Last year at this time, I was in my fourth month of being a full time mom. The path had turned rocky and the honeymoon phase was definitely over. I worried if I was doing the 'mom' thing right. I felt unsure and I did a lot of questioning of myself. This year, I have a full year under my belt. Even with some of the changes and upheavals over the last year, I feel more confident I am doing the 'mom' thing okay. I still make mistakes and sometimes I still question if I have any idea what I am doing. December is a hard month, but I feel like the ground under my feet is more stable, and I feel like, as a family, things will be okay.

Last year at this time, I was not single. I did not expect to be so this year. However, I have found a new strength in getting to know myself. I still stumble at times with knowing who I am outside of being a 'mom', 'sis', 'daughter', 'friend', 'teacher' and 'partner', but I think I'm learning. I am finding my voice. It's not the 3 octave range it once was, but it is strong and clear and I am grateful for it.

Last year at this time, we had just moved to a new building at work. It was a big shift for everyone. The transition took some time, but I have settled into my new digs and I like being able to look out the window and see blue sky and trees. I still wake up every day loving what I do and where I do it. Teaching is one of the constants in my life and I am fortunate to find joy in what I do.

Last year at this time, I was 35 pounds heavier than I am now. I am proud of the running I did, and frustrated by the knee injury that has stopped that progress. I am also proud that I haven't put that weight back on and that I have continued a path forward to reach the goal of wearing one of these in Mexico!

I have changed over the past 12 months. I think I have become more centered, more connected and better in touch with what I want in life and what I don't want. In other ways, I feel like I have fallen in my goals of writing that great novel and my continued goal of letting go of perfection. I still haven't mastered the art of distinction between which pieces of my life I should hold on to, and which pieces need to be released. I second guess myself and, at times, I make choices from a place of fear, versus a place of centeredness.

It's a process, right? At this point in my life, I am not heavy-hearted; I feel light-hearted and joyful. I see such potential in the upcoming year!

It's my birthday and I am looking forward to celebrating. Because beyond it all, I am deeply grateful for each day I am on this planet. Each life I touch and each heart that reaches out and touches mine, changes me. Each moment I am here, each moment I am alive is a profound gift I treasure. I'm continually reminded that even when I forget about the magic - the magic doesn't forget about me.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why is 'do nothing' so something?


 Gaian Tarot

**"You are being challenged to release attachments, to surrender to the flow. You are no longer in charge of your life. It isn't a time to resist, for everything is out of your control. Give it up. Your world may feel like it's been turned upside down. You can fight this reversal — you can go into it kicking and screaming — or you can surrender with grace and take it as an opportunity to see your life from a different perspective. It is a time to take no action, other than meditation and prayer. Learn to be still. During this time of suspension and waiting, you may discover within yourself the gifts of inspiration, enlightenment and unconditional love."**

I have the hardest time just being still. It is, sometimes, nigh impossible. My grandfather, when he was feeling particularly irritated by my restlessness, used to say, "I'll give you .25 for every minute you are still." Pretty sure I never even earned a dollar. I usually just ended up going and pestering my grandmother, or going for a long walk outside.

Being still, especially when my world feels upside down, is one of my biggest challenges. I read this wisdom and I know, in my deepest heart, it is exactly what I need to do, but letting go and just 'being' - is profoundly difficult for me. The very thing that should help me feel relaxed, makes me feel all that more anxious.

Lately, I have found tremendous guidance from my inner self in my dreams and in moments of insight throughout the day - little things people say, messages in fortune cookies, a free reading on the internet. Or my car being stuck on lifts at the repair shop, neither halfway up nor halfway down because the electric on the whole block went out, making me wait as patiently as possible to get my brakes done. They all tell me the same mythic story - and while I may not necessarily believe it is divine intervention, I do believe that the mythic message of 'be still' is part of a larger picture that I am trying to tell myself. That harder part is acting on what the insight is showing me. Initially, the message seems so clear and easy.

Putting the message into action is a different story. 

Right now, the message in my life is to find stillness and to let go. Let go of weight, let go of connections and foods that aren't nourishing, let go of places that aren't healthy, let go of people that aren't able to be loving and kind in my life. 

I don't need to ask anyone how to do it, I don't need to read about it. I don't need to do a 12 step program on it, I don't need to watch a youtube video describing it. 

I know the answer is simply to breathe. But then I panic, and I want to ask five people about it, and I want them to tell me I'm okay. And I want to go back through my memories and rehash them. Again. 

I remember one time I was hanging out with Candace. I mentioned an old, favorite topic of ours and she laughed. "Just a minute" she said, "Let me get out my spatula so I can scrape that dead horse off the road and we can kick it around again!"

We both laughed. And then...we discussed it. Because that is who I am and who we were as friends. I am someone who spends a tremendous amount of my time in my head. Heck, I even want to get 'letting go' right. 

I want to analyze why things happen, and how they happen. I want to be a better person for what has happened. I want to learn to make different choices and recognize when I am back in a pattern that only leads to heartbreak. Even if heartbreak is its own lesson. 

And on some level, I know that letting go isn't about making grand changes.

Just like loving isn't about grand changes. I never sat down and thought, 'I should really spend some time thinking and processing if I do or don't love Candace.' I just loved her - through the good stuff and the hard stuff and all of it. It was unconditional - much like my caring for anyone I love, especially my friends and my family.

I have to love myself enough and respect myself enough to be still. To stop. To breathe. To listen. To let go.

And to follow the very guidance I have been asking for, because my heart knows what to do. I just need to quiet my head so I can truly listen and honor my own stillness.



**I love the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert, firstly because the images are so beautiful. I have used Tarot cards of one deck or another since I was 12 years old and forced my mom to buy me my first deck. I found this deck about five years ago now, and no cards have spoken to me like hers. For me, the beauty of these cards is the story they tell. 
For me, the Tarot is all about the mythic concepts held in each card. The whole point of the deck isn't to do 'fortune telling'. The tarot doesn't tell me about a terrible fate that's going to come crashing down on my head. Instead, the cards are about myth. About the story they tell. About the struggles we face - as humans. At the core, we all have the same central mythic struggles (what I'd call the major tarot cards) but how we face those struggles - is unique to each person (the minor tarot cards). How we move through our struggles is what makes us stronger and who we are as people. :).
But the deck aside, I also love the images because the woman that made them is tremendously true. She is a mentor and someone I admire. She lives her truth in a beautiful, honorable way and I respect that. I do not have to live like her, nor do I have to follow her path to have her path touch my own. And change it. People like that are rare, and I am grateful her path and my path, on occasion, merge for a time, then go off on their own again. And I am grateful she created such beautiful artwork that reflect the mythic so well.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Love is...

...in my own back yard


Sometimes, we meet people that absolutely speak to our spirit. Those people can stop by for a day, a week, or a lifetime and bring such experiences - pain, beauty, intense sorrow... but knowing them can also bring happiness and a tremendous opportunity for love.

Candace was like that.

I will never forget our first meeting. I think I was 22 at the time, and visiting her aunt. Candace walked into the living room like she owned the world. The sun shone through her big mane of hair. She was talking as she came in the door and didn't, at first, even see me. When she took a moment between topics to take a breath, her aunt introduced us. She turned to me and stood quietly for a moment. Then, she crossed the room, sat down next to me on the couch, looked into my eyes and took my hand.

I recognize that might seem odd, seeing as how we'd just met, but it wasn't. It was the most perfect thing in the world.

She said, "Hello friend. It's been a long time, hasn't it? I'm glad we found each other again."

And I said, "Hello friend. It HAS been a long time. I missed you."

In that moment, I clasped her hand tightly, immersed in this intense joy at being loved. It felt instant, complete and forever. My world shifted. I knew I had a person in my life that would always be with me, who knew me and loved me exactly as I was - just as I loved her.

I wish I could have seen that more clearly when I had her in my life.

In my life, I've struggled to see love when it was right in front of me. I've been on my Wizard-of-Oz/Dorothy journey to try to find perfect love and happiness somewhere outside of myself.

Recently, I was told I acted like I had the emotional makeup of a 15 year old. At first I dismissed it as ridiculous and completely off mark. As I thought about it, perhaps in some ways, I have been stuck at that age. At 15, I was taught that the 'best' love comes in a perfect partnership, and that the love of the 'One', is the 'best' love there is. I bought into the belief that some kinds of love and happiness are more 'valid' than others, and I believed in Disney's storyline.

This morning, with my window wide open and a cool autumn breeze filling my bedroom, I burrowed under my covers and thought about love, happiness, Candace, and so many of the other people in my life - and decided to stop labeling some love and happiness as more valid than others, and the 'One' more real than other 'ones'.

'Perfect partnership' doesn't have to be, for me, the end goal. My life shouldn't be about the happily ever after, but about the 'happily in the now'.

I missed a lot of 'happily in the now' moments with Candace, with my friends and even with partners, because I was so busy trying to figure out if it was perfect - if I was perfect.

Finding and appreciating love and happiness in all forms is important; moments of happiness are brief. There are no guarantees they will continue. Guarantees would mean Candace and I would be looking at golf cart ads and she'd be giving me advice on dating.

My goal is to get better at recognizing love and happiness the moment it is present. Like singing at the top of my lungs at a drag show with my daughter - Candace's child - and laughing about how close we are to the stage.

Losing myself in that moment walking along the water in Edmonds, holding hands and feeling tremendously happy. Watching the sunset and appreciating it for what it is, not what I want or think it has to be.

Being mindful of the moment is honoring happiness as it is, and finding it in my own back yard.

...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?

Not that I won't click my heels together in sparkly red shoes, because seriously, my life is seeking travel and adventure - especially when I know my shoes will always bring me home.

But in seeking love and happiness, I know I need look no further than the moments of my own heart.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yeah, but a hero?


Recently, an NBC article talked about a nurse who agreed to take in the son of one of her patients. When the nurse met the dying mom, they felt an instant connection.  The cancer was pretty severe but  the patient, with a mother's instincts, instantly knew the nurse would be a perfect fit to raise her child when she passed.

I made a comment on the website that I had a somewhat similar experience. I was surprised by how many people made comments on my post. I had initially written to wish both women well. Even with an internet full of trolls, with the exception of one woman? The posts were incredibly supportive.

And some of them were also kind of weird.

Not just the people on Today.com but lots of my friends say phrases like,

"You're such a good person."

Am I? I mean I am, but not because I became a mom. I'm a good person for a lot of reasons, most of which have very little to do with being a mom by choice. 

"There is a place in Heaven for you."

This one is particularly interesting, as I am not sure where I stand on the Heaven concept. I just hope I see Candace and others I love, wherever I end up landing.

"Do you know what an amazing thing it is that you have done?"

This one truly puzzles me. Seriously. I don't get it. I want to tell these people that I am the lucky one. I am the one with the incredible daughter. I am the one who gets to see my best friend's eyes reflected at me every single day. I am the one that gets to take my kid to a bar, because I am a good parent, darn it, so she can get her jersey signed by the hockey players she thinks are 'cute'. Me! How did I get so lucky?

Yes, there have been difficulties. Lots of them. And power struggles. And 'Seriously? Just empty the dishwasher!' comments...among many many others.

And yes, as much as my kid would like it (and believe me she would), every day together isn't full of Pegacorns and sparkly rainbows.

But I truly feel like I am the winner in this story. Even if it means my life is now more complicated. Certainly finding a date is a bit harder and finding someone who wants to navigate my busy life with me is more complicated... But honestly, I don't care that much. I had that crazy all encompassing love and it crashed so hard, and so disrespectfully that really - I feel like an 80s Tina Turner song sometimes.

I'm not focusing on what is difficult - there's no time for that.

Right now, I am focusing on running every other day. Heck, yesterday I managed week 4 day 1 (c25k) on my first try. I assure you, I could not have done that a month ago. It's a slow process, but I keep plugging along.

Right now, I am happy recognizing my family life is quite full. My joy is already doubled and my sorrow halved - all because I have another human being that needs me and that I need as well.

So no, I don't think I'm a hero. I don't think I'm special. I think I have a tremendous amount of love to give, my friends and family know that - my best friend especially knew that. And I feel fortunate that I have a kid in my life that wants and needs that love. It has given me direction, helped me mature and helped me make difficult decisions because my life is no longer just about me - it is about having a family and figuring out what is best for that family.

Right now, my life is about love. Or as Tina would sing, "What's Loooove got to do, got to do with it?

I think I'd tell Tina... 'everything'.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Lip-sync for your Life!


Let me just admit right now that I am a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race. My daughter and I binge watch it. At the very end of each show, two of the contestants are forced to lip-sync to a dance club song (you know ala Donna Summer crooning MacArthur Park is melllllting in the sun...) and the winner gets to stay and the loser must gather her makeup and 'sashay away'.

I started running three weeks ago. Running is a ridiculous word and not even remotely accurate. I don't even think I can fairly call it shuffling. It is a slow process. My body has a long way to go before it is ready to 'run' anywhere. I pray the zombie apocalypse can wait at least a year to give me some time before I have to worry about running to save my life. It'd be better if the zombies were drag queens and I had to lip sync to save my life. Now that I could really manage. Heck, I could rule that future world of zombies lulled into submission by my lip syncing.

I digress to a better place - a world where life depends on one's ability to lip sync to be healthier and stronger. Too bad life isn't like that and being healthier isn't that easy.  For some, with a lifetime pattern of self care, perhaps it is easy; for me, is it a true shift in mind-set. It is making myself get physical. It is pushing myself to compete in a 5M run in November (that I only agreed to because I thought it was 5K. Lori totally suckered me into that...) that looms ahead of me on the horizon taunting me.

I have been walking all summer and increasing my distance each week. Until I started to focus less on distance and more on intensity, I was up to three or four miles of pulling, I mean walking, the dog. When I made the shift to prepare for the event in November, I started using an iPhone app for the couch to 5K (C25K) method of training. The first two times weren't really hard, but then my body realized what I was doing and went into revolt. I didn't give up, but decided that instead of pushing myself too hard, I needed to focus on just one week at a time. I did week one for two weeks until I was comfortable, now I am working on week two. I don't really care how long it takes me to get to week three. I will walk the 5M if I have to. The goal for me isn't perfection, it is finishing. However, I find that even as I choose to push myself to do this, old patterns fight in my head to re-establish themselves.

Do you remember my blog post about when I went into the store to buy bento boxes and freaked out that they were too small and I couldn't fit enough FOOD in there? Well, clearly there was enough food in there, and using those boxes for a while helped me eat smaller, healthier lunches, and overall portions. However, the there isn't enough mindset took me a while to get past. Two weeks ago, I had a similar experience that made me realize that old programming can be tremendously strong.

My friend Lori invited me to go cliff diving at a park in Anacortes. Neither one of us had gone to the lake before, but we were meeting her daughter who was going to show us the way. Lori, my daughter, and I, packed into her car and off we went. I wore my bathing suit, my hippy tye-dye dress, and flip flops. I was ready for swimming!

When we arrived at the park, we got out of the car and gathered our water gear.  I was ready! Until Lori's daughter told us it was about a two mile walk to the water.

TWO MILES???? WTH. No one told me I was going to have to walk two miles to get to the water!

I started to feel that familiar panic. The script in my head started to play the familiar tape of  I can't do it. It's too far. Everyone will make fun of me or worse pity me. I've been with partners in my life that ridiculed me for not 'keeping up' and partners that would walk faster than me when we'd go out, even when I asked them to slow down and walk beside me. All those thoughts played in my head.

All the jogging/running I have done over the summer meant nothing. All I could think about was that I had to walk two miles!!! The idea of walking that far truly terrified me. But my kid was there. And I was being a tantrum-throwing two year old. Lori even offered me better shoes, but I was all NO! and I'M NOT GOING (insert stompy foot here). Lori just looked at me, did her best to let me get it all out and then said, "Ready?" She was not putting up with my childishness.

Damn her.

So I started walking. In the hot sun. Through the woods. In my dress. And guess what? I was fine. I saw the lake in the distance and I thought woohoo! I'm there! Except I wasn't. It was another mile to where we were headed. But I kept going. In my stupid flip flops (and boys and girls, that is what pouting gets you - crappy shoes), I kept going. All the while, Lori kept my pace and let me blather on about my exes and about love and about life and whatever came into my mind. She just listened, pointed out some very insightful things, and let me distract myself. I kept going while everyone else went a bit faster and Lori, because she loves me, stayed at my side. Next thing I knew, we had arrived. It happened that fast. *poof* we were there.

And wow. It was glorious. The water was so flat and still. There wasn't anyone else there. The cliffs were high, but not so high you couldn't jump off them. I was hot, but not breathing hard. Not only had I made it, it wasn't even that big of a deal! All that panic for nothing. I took off my dress and flipflops and dove into the crisp, clear water. And it was cold. And it was stunning. And I remembered all those times as a kid that I had walked forever and swam for hours. And I wondered why I had forgotten all those moments in my past of being athletic and strong despite being a big girl.  I loved walking when I was a kid and I would take walks for miles and miles and hours and hours - by myself! Just because I could.

I realized, again, how difficult it is to shift a lifetime's worth of perspective. The perspective of I can't to the perspective of, I can.

And when the zombie apocalypse comes? I am going to sing, at the top of my lungs, ALL THAT SWEET GREEN ICING FLOOOOOWING DOWN..." as I do not sashay way, but instead outrun them. Because seriously. I should be able to outrun zombies.

I think that is a realistic goal.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Ain't No Mountain High Enough


Monday, August 25th. Today marks the one year anniversary of my life changing.

I went from living a life of "me"- my choices and my decisions, to living a life of 'we'.

And everything shifted.
And my heart cracked open.
And all the colors of the world became brighter.

I can not say it has made my life easier. That wouldn't be honest - only having to attend to my own needs was much easier.  But when I look at my life, I can no longer imagine my life as my own. My life may not be easier, but it is fuller, richer and better. No matter what happens in the future, having her here has forever changed my 'now'.

I was told when I was in my 20s that I couldn't have children. My mom took DES when she was pregnant with me and having a child wasn't really in my cards. And that was okay. I taught school. I had kids around me ALL THE TIME.

But life has a way of moving and flowing - and anyone who knows me knows my life is seldom quiet and simple.

So much has changed in a year. I have gained friends, strengthened friendships I treasured already, and lost loves. I have learned more about myself in these past 12 months than I have in the past 12 years. I have grown in so many ways: as a partner, as a mother, as a human being. It has even reminded me to take better care of myself - I have a strong reason to be healthier now.

I have been angry. I have been hurt. I have cried. I have laughed harder than ever before in my life. I have felt helpless and empowered. And I wouldn't change one moment of it. Not one. Having a daughter has changed my life - and those changes have helped me grow and become more compassionate, more open and more honest. Even when I wasn't gentle with my honesty, I still believe being honest has been an important part of the two of us turning into a family.

Because my life ebbs and flows, I can't say what will happen tomorrow. I can't fully predict where we will be or what life will be showing us... what I can predict is that no matter where she is, she will have a part of my heart no one else has - maybe because I didn't even know it was there until she showed it to me.



cue music:
(released the year I was born - 1967)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Finding peace with uncomfortable

I spent two hours last night, after my daughter went to sleep, sitting outside. I bundled up in my favorite robe, in my favorite lawn chair, with my toes tucked under me, and looked at the stars. I found myself pondering something uncomfortable - being 46 and single again. I had no self-recriminations or anger. Just sat with my thoughts. For much of the time, I honored my past and the relationships I have had. I thought about kissing my first love in the rain by a river in Ohio, and wishing the moment would never end. I thought about the person that offered me an intense love I knew I could never return. I remembered the handsome,  6'7" Cowboy that bundled up with me in a blue velour blanket on the roof when I lived in that crazy shack on the Puget Sound. How, on a night in August all those years ago, he held my hand under the stars, taught me the difference between satellites and airplanes and listened when I said shooting stars were magical. I thought about the one I married and how pretty I felt on my wedding day and how wonderful it felt to have the people I loved smiling and happy around me. I thought about the one I slow danced with in my living room as I sang a Celine Dion song to handsome, healing eyes. I thought about that time in Mexico when I laughed over winning at cribbage, drank Dirty Monkeys, and felt such joy in another's smile while listening to ocean waves crash onto the beach.  I didn't hold tightly onto any of the people or memories, just let them pass through and followed them as each led to the next and warmed my heart.

It was nice to look at the more pleasant moments of those relationships. I also looked at the not-so-wonderful moments in those relationships. The uncomfortable moments of anger, betrayal, unmet expectations, rejection, dismissal, and abandonment. I thought about belongings left in boxes and bags and loose ends that will never be tied nicely into bows. It was difficult, but I welcomed those painful feelings and acknowledged them, then let them move through me. While those feelings and experiences are honest reflections of my heart and my path, holding on to them would keep me stuck in the past.

This time of reflection in my life has been important. Ending relationships can be messy and complicated and uncomfortable. The untangling of hopes and dreams and re-establishing identity takes time and patience. Especially now that it isn't just my heart I am concerned with - having a child adds a whole new dimension to who I am as a person and my responsibilities as a role model and parent. It's changed how I see the world and my place in it.

Right now, my world certainly feels uncomfortable. Taking the time to sit in my uncomfortableness is part of growing up. Too often, I have rushed through events that are uncomfortable because... well... they're uncomfortable damn it! Things feel unresolved and unstable. I don't like sitting in the unknowing and I really want to understand it all right now! Learning to sit in the space of unsettled is hard, but I am determined not to push it away.

In the past, I have eaten to escape feeling uncomfortable. I have had a drink to avoid feeling uncomfortable. I have rushed to find someone new to bypass feeling uncomfortable. I have tried to fill the space of uncomfortable with distraction - be it in whatever form that may have taken. Not this time. This time, as much as it is possible, I am staying present with this anxious, edgy space. In the past, I have struggled with discomfort, and it is nice to see that I am making progress in how I manage it for myself.

I am using this time to explore the beautiful and the not so beautiful parts of me. I am embracing my strength, power, beauty, joy, sorrow, selfishness, curiosity, compassion and grace to move to the next step on my journey. Not eating to find an escape for my anxiety is hard, but moving through this process forges a deeper and truer connection with my Self - it is affirming and empowering. Being centered in uncomfortable is sacred.

I grew up in a family of enablers and I learned that role exceptionally well. I learned early how to give myself up in a relationship. What I am learning now, is how to honor myself no matter my relationship status. It means finding some peace with people and events from my past that I can't change. Richard Bach, in his book Illusions, says:

You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self. Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them. You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.

I'm not sure I can choose a different past, but I do believe I can change how I perceive my past and heal the parts that have left me seeking someone else to fill some imagined lacking in my life.

Knowing who I am and working on filling my own emotional needs means I can walk away from co-dependent, enabling relationships where I seek someone else to make me feel good enough, smart enough, and worthwhile enough to finally earn love and approval - I'll already have my own! I read recently that you enter relationships with someone who likes you just a little more than you like yourself. And while it isn't that I don't like myself, I'm taking the time to truly feel this space of being uncomfortable in order to reacquaint myself with the parts of me I have avoided. And it isn't just the parts of myself I don't like that I have avoided, I have avoided the parts of myself I do like. No one forced me do that - to give up the parts of me I liked. It is a pattern of behavior I learned. And it worked for me - until it didn't. It is time for me to learn a new way of being in relationship with myself and making choices that honor the relationship I am building with who I am, just as I am. I am not perfect, nor do I want to be, but the more I like who I am, the more I will attract people into my life that like who they are as well.

I learned the term radical acceptance last week. From the article:
Radical acceptance is about accepting of life on life’s terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life, just as it is.
I appreciate those of you that have listened to me, talked with me, read my words, walked with me, learned with me, shared with me, laughed and cried with me recently. I also appreciate those who have left my life to walk their own path in a different direction - I am grateful for the time shared and the experiences that have brought me to where I am today.

Right now, learning to be in the space of uncomfortable isn't easy. But by staying present with the struggle and not running to food or some other distraction means I am honoring my goals of living a healthier, more present life. It means instead of pursuing the false 'comfort' I once found in food, I am free to pursue things in my life that bring me true happiness.

And that is worth the struggle.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Forgiveness - Then and Now

Forgiveness \ne Excuses


In my life, I have often said that it is easy for me to forgive - sometimes it might take a while, but I find in time I make peace with the people and events of my past. But as I strive to live a more authentic life where I am more honest with myself and those around me (even at the cost of relationships) I see now that what I thought was forgiveness, in actuality, wasn't.

In truth, I forgive less and make excuses more. I find it easy to make a truckload of excuses for myself and others:

  • He had a hard childhood, that's why he is so angry
  • She was in a bad marriage and didn't know she was pushing me away
  • His mother was a narcissist and he was never nurtured, therefore he doesn't know how to nurture
  • She's a good person in her heart. She didn't mean to be so disrespectful
  • His pattern is to run away when things get difficult, because that is what his father did
  • If I had just remembered to do XXX he wouldn't have gotten so upset
  • If I just try harder and give more, things will be okay
  • This person needs me to love him/her and it's okay to be the one in this relationship/friendship doing most of the emotional nurturing and giving

It is one thing to recognize the struggles and situations from the past and acknowledge how those influence who I am and others are now. It is entirely another situation to use that knowledge to make an excuse about the situation. Making excuses for others is NOT forgiveness. In some ways, it is exactly the opposite.

Making an excuse for someone else or myself is letting ME off the hook. It is not loving myself enough to be honest with the other person or with me about what I am feeling, therefore denying my own needs within a relationship. A good example in my life is how I deal with anger and rage. Someone who rages, scares me. I feel unsafe. But instead of looking at that and eliminating people who rage from my life, I pretended everything was okay or made excuses for the other person.

I was fortunate that I was able to resolve that issue with one of the angry people I had in my life - my father. It was about seven years ago and it was life-changing. Over breakfast one day, I told my dad about how growing up with his anger was hard for me because I thought it was all my fault. He had this moment, got teary-eyed and said, "Honey, it wasn't about you!" and I said, "I know that now, dad, but I didn't then." And we cried a little and he and said, "I never knew." And in that space my dad and I had an honest moment about our conflict and took our relationship to a deeper, more healed level. It could not have happened if my dad hadn't been able to recognize his anger issues. And it couldn't have happened if I hadn't been able to let him do that instead of making excuses for his behavior. It was a genuine moment. It was healthy and it changed me; I think it changed him as well. Not that my dad doesn't still get angry. But I no longer make excuses about his anger to justify his behavior. It made it much easier for me to recognize his behavior as his behavior and not make it about me.

It isn't just regarding others where I deny patterns and make excuses. Someone recently said to me, "MK, you have to learn to be able to say what you want and not make excuses for why you aren't getting it." That would mean I would have to be honest with what I need and for me, that is difficult. I want to see the best in people. I want to believe they see in themselves the amazing things I see in them. And while seeing the best in someone is beneficial, there comes a time when seeing that can be a detriment to the reality of a situation. Then I get blindsided by because I am busy making excuses or justifying behavior instead of being honest with myself and the person I am with. Worse, when I finally do stand up and am honest about what I need, it is often too late. The expectation that I will make excuses or 'gloss over' a situation ends up causing too much of a shift and the friendship/relationship/connection ends. Not always, sometimes the other person I am with is equally invested in making a shift and we move forward together with a healthier bond - like my father and I did.

My desire to be healthy in my life, means being honest with myself from the getgo. And that, at least for me, is tremendously difficult. Because whether it is relationships, not eating well, not exercising enough, not working on my novel, etc. making excuses creates a nice curtain to hide behind. Curtains however, don't move me forward in my life. Instead of making excuses, learning to truly forgive myself and let go of anger and resentment towards others is how to make progress toward making better choices. I don't think there is anything wrong with recognizing events that shape a person, but those events aren't an excuse. Those events are exactly that - events. Having a difficult childhood does not excuse someone being mean to me, nor does it justify stuffing my face with ice cream.

I, as most people do, have a Judge that sits in my head and tells me everything I do is wrong, that I am a bad person and if I just could be more perfect, thinner, have a better house, clean my kitchen, etc, I would be a good person. The Judge is a blamer. The Judge is an avoider. The Judge tells me the things that go wrong are all my fault because if I could get it right, everything would be okay. The Judge encourages excuse making. The Judge keeps me from growing and moving forward by encouraging me to make an excuse, or explain away conflict by pointing the finger. By listening to the Judge, I avoid taking responsibility for my own feelings and avoid recognizing that the other person's behavior is a reflection of my own! It isn't about the other person. The other person isn't broken or wrong for being angry or rude or critical. When I recognize my own anger, I own my part in the situation - giving myself the opportunity to change.

And I am the first one to say change can be scary. Change involves work. And change in any relationship involves both people working together. It's so much easier to make an excuse and walk away than do the hard work involved in changing a dynamic. I'm not saying walking away is a bad thing, there are situations in life where walking away is absolutely the right choice. Not everyone is invested in pushing through the hard stuff to move forward. However, if I walk away, or someone else walks away, I need to be honest to myself about the reasons. No more excuses or pointing the finger of blame. Instead, it is time to do the work I need to do to learn from the experience and make difference choices about future connections. I may not understand or agree with another person's choices, but honoring them honors myself.

In the end, I am the one who is making choices. And knowing that, I get to make a choice about how I handle the parts of myself where I struggle. I get to handle what I do with the Judge. I can choose to hold on to connections with people who reflect the angry and critical part of myself, or I can choose to foster relationships that reflect the loving, kind and gracious part of myself. I feel that I am at the point in my life where I can be grateful for the experiences that have made me who I am today and make peace with a truly forgiven past.

From this point on in my life, I recognize I am the one with the anger. I am the one that is so cruelly critical. When I understand that I am the one that needs to be kinder to myself, the Judge loses most of her power over me and moves to the back of my awareness. I can fill my life with people and situations that reflect the healthy, wise, strong and honest person I am. And when I come across the flawed, critical, angry, and frustrated parts of myself, I can honor them, release them and move forward in my life without excuse.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Those Weirdos are your Tribe!!


I learned this week, again, what family means. And what it doesn't mean. It was another hard lesson that I seem to continually draw into my life.

Michael J Fox once said,  "Family is not an important thing. It's everything."

I realized this week how true that is.

Family has very little to do with blood. Although in my case, I am incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful and supportive sister and father and extended family. I am also amazed at what a tremendous daughter I have now in my life.

What I was reminded of this week, is that family is a space in your heart. It is feeling safe. It is feeling loved. It is fighting. It is knowing you can tell the truth - even if your truth is wrong - and be loved. It is knowing when things get difficult, you have someone who loves you and will stick with you. It is crying under the kitchen table and having your dad not know what to do - and having your mom say, "Just let her cry honey. There isn't anything you can do, but let her cry. She'll be okay."

I am so loved. And I can't believe every single day how big my family is. I move through my life trying to emulate what it is to love and as a result, the people I choose to have in my life love me - and if they don't? Then I guess it is better that those people get weeded out, however that happens.

Because in the end, my family are the people that stand by me. They are the people who work through the hard stuff. They are the people I come home to. And it isn't always easy. Families have fights. Families struggle. Families have financial difficulties and personality conflicts. My daughter once said about her brother, "I don't care if we sometimes don't get along, I got his back." And I think that is what it means to be a family.

And maybe family is a poor choice of words. Because there are many unhealthy families in the world. Many families who punish each other instead of supporting each other. Maybe, like the quote below, the best word is tribe:

And sometimes, people I think are part of my 'tribe' or my family, turn out not to be. They choose to leave. They choose to not want to work through the hard stuff. The complications. They don't think working through the challenge is worth it. And that is okay. I have had that same experience where I know working through the struggle isn't what is in the cards. Sometimes you have to make the difficult choice of walking away. It hurts and it is complicated but that is when those who do want to be part of your tribe become even more valuable.

I just know that for me, true family isn't about blood. It is about love. It is about honesty. It is about finding people that honor my heart and journey - and want to share their journey with me. It is about people who are as happy to be part of my life as I am happy to be part of theirs.

So, if you are part of my tribe -  and if you read my blog consider yourself part of my life - then thank you. And know I love you. And when you are done reading, remember to appreciate the people in your tribe. Call your partner,or mom or dad or best friend or sister or brother or son or daughter or niece or nephew or or or...

Because as I have been reminded again this week, there is nothing more valuable than family. Nothing. And there is nothing more valuable than telling the tribe you love, how much you love them.



Saturday, July 05, 2014

Because it turns out, writing a novel is just like life


I had this moment today. This moment of thinking about how much easier it has been in my life at times to quit when things start to get difficult.

I'm working on a novel. A novel I have been working on for over a year. I have a couple of those stuck away in a file on my computer. Okay, more than a couple. This one, however, is different.

This novel is the first story I have ever really loved. It's the first time I really understand when novelists say things like "Oh the characters told me their story!" It is so true. I literally have no idea what is going to happen. None. I have vague ideas. But this story is the first one where I have gone to bed not knowing what I was going to write, and either had a dream about it, or the moment I opened my eyes I just knew what was coming next.

So I keep at it. Parts of it I like, parts of it I don't like. I don't like that I killed one of my favorite characters. I don't like that I don't know what is coming next. I love my main character and I wish I had her strength when I was her age. But then, I can just use my daughter as a role model for my character to know what that looks like.

What I realized, is that I could just let this novel go. It's getting hard now. The first twelve chapters flowed out of me. But now I have characters I don't like. I have a story line that is convoluted and complicated. And the worst part is that I have absolutely no idea where this story is going. And that is scary. Because I could keep writing and this story and it could go NOWHERE! And then what do I have - twelve chapters I like and a bunch of crap!

It might not seem like a novel is like losing weight or life for that matter. But for me, starting the process of losing weight, or writing a novel, is easy. I have an idea, I have a goal. I have control. I set everything up, I get it ready and I am full steam ahead! For the first few weeks, it is no problem. I have determination. I lose weight. I write like a crazy woman. My carefully crafted plan works perfectly.

Then, I crash. It gets hard. The 'easy' weight no longer comes off. Life gets in the way. I JUST WANT A DAMN PIZZA. Whatever the reason is, the honeymoon is over. Now I have to decide which I want more - to lose weight and push through how difficult it is, or talk myself into going back to what is 'usual' and convenient. It's back to the idea of 'courage vs. complacency'.

This is the hard part for me. Setting a goal and living up to the promise I have made myself about following through with that goal. I can make promises to others and live up to those, but living up to the promises I make myself? Not so easy.

So today, I am going to walk the dog. We're up to two plus miles a day and I am proud of that. Since writing my blog  'back at it' on June 23rd, I've walked a total of 15.48 miles, by Sunday this week I'd like to be at 20. I'm proud of that. But it is just a start. Right now I'm hitting that place where it is much more comfortable on the couch with my coffee near me and my dog curled up at my feet and writing my blog, than it is throwing on some clothes, clipping on that leash and going for a walk.

But if I have learned anything this summer already, it is that follow through is just as important as initiation. Sticking with something when it pushes against my own resistance is probably the real lesson I am learning this summer. Yes, there are times when walking away is the right thing to do. And knowing when to let go of a goal and when to push on through the hard stuff is a big part of this lesson. But when it comes to promises I make myself: to get healthy, to finish my novel, to get my finances in order, these are promises that are important. They help shape who I am. They show my daughter what a healthy person looks like. But then, maybe the lesson here isn't health, wealth and happiness. Maybe the lesson is believing I can have those things because I am determined to keep going when making those things happen feels almost overwhelming. Perhaps self care is the real lesson I am learning and showing to my daughter.

So, for this novel? I am pushing through the difficult stuff. For this walking commitment I made to myself? I am pushing through the comfortable stuff to keep increasing my daily goals.

Good heavens, I'm 46 years old! If I don't figure out how to follow through on promises I make to myself, when I am going to learn the lesson that I am as valuable to myself as I think I am to other people? Walking, writing, those are things that mean something to me. Taking better care of myself. Pursuing something that I enjoy. No one ever has to read my novel for me to feel like I accomplished my goal of writing one. No one ever has to look at me and think I am attractive or think I am healthy. That being said, seems to me that perhaps, it is time I think those things about myself.



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Complacency vs Courage


You know that old story about having two wolves inside - one good and one evil? And the grandfather tells his grandson that the two wolves fight all the time? In the myth, the grandson asks which one wins. And the grandfather says, 'the one you feed'. The myth is supposed to be Native American but is actually a story Billy Graham told to promote good vs. evil. Well, that story is in my head today.

Moving beyond the murky and very questionable origins of the story and the concept of good vs. evil, I'm struggling with the concepts of choice today and the profound implications of making changes in my life.

I saw this quote today:

Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.

I don't know who to attribute that quote to, but it resonates with where my life is at the moment.

I am trying to make choices in a more mindful way. I am constantly amazed at how difficult that can be. How scary it is at times to choose something out of my comfort zone. For me, my two wolves aren't evil and good, that is too black and white. For me, my two wolves are complacency and courage.
Making a choice to listen to my heart takes courage. It takes courage to eat the healthy dinner not the comfortable one. Those two wolves fight inside of me all the time. It is easy to 'rest' in anger, or be complacent in habits that only give the illusion of comfort.

But the courage it takes to make those harder choices is sometimes out of my reach.

I want to honor myself. I want to honor the emotional, physical and spiritual core of who I am. And each choice I make allows me to feed one of my two wolves - courage or complacency.

Someone I love told me about the 4 levels of competence.

As an example, in my childhood I learned that love was earned. It was not freely given, it was something I only deserved if I worked for it. If I just did enough, if I just gave enough, if I just tried hard enough, I would earn it. If I was struggling - I just needed to give MORE. That would fix it. In a very unconscious way, I meandered through life - consistently disappointed I could not do enough to earn love. In general, I didn't get angry or blame others when things didn't work out, I got angry at myself, but didn't see the pattern in my choices. When I met Candace, she taught me that in friendship, love wasn't earned - it was shared. It was freely given - even when it hurt, even when it seemed too hard, it wasn't taken away when things got difficult. It didn't depend on me being 'good enough'. Love was love. I moved from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence over time - weeding out friendships and people in my life that demanded more from me than I was capable of giving. It was a slow process, but over time I realized what friendship meant. Candace taught me and for that I will be forever grateful.

But the reality is, that simply because I know how to make different choices in ONE piece of my life, doesn't mean it applies to others. Without realizing it, that pattern of trying to earn love continued in my life. Not in my friendships, but in other areas.

I find myself having to relearn that lesson all over again. That is how powerful complacency is. Change is hard work. It is continual. And it is easy to feed complacency. Complacency gives me a sense of comfort - even as its corruption eats away at my foundation.

Letting go of anger, letting go of fear, letting go of childhood patterns is hard. Those patterns were developed for a reason. They protected the heart.

I took a risk this week to shift a pattern in my life. I stepped out of complacency. It was scary. It was incredibly hard. I tried to do it with courage and grace, but I'm not sure I managed that. And I do not know what the outcome will be. Because when you make a change, you are not the only one involved in it. Patterns developed with others also have to evolve. Sometimes you come to a whole new level of connectedness. And sometimes that isn't possible.

So I'm tackling moving from complacency to change. I am making the choice to live my life in a more mindful way.

I am working hard to feed the wolf of change.

I'm working to choose courage.

One bite at a time.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Back at it


So, here I am. Back at it. Sometimes, I feel like I am on a perpetual, pointless wheel. Try to get healthier, fail at getting healthier, get back up. Dust off. Try to get healthier, fail at getting healthier, get back up. You get the idea.

This summer I am determined to do 3 things.

1) Be more mindful of my health.

2) Be more mindful of my finances.

3) Be more mindful of my Self.

Short list. Lots of drama and shame with the first two. And a new attempt at better self-care with the third one. I am working one day a week this summer. Not even a full day. A half day. Now is the time for me to make some adjustments in my life and dedicate myself to following them for the next two months. Small changes and being more mindful. I don't feel overwhelmed, I feel focused. And I'm posting so I can come back to this page and remember the clarity in this moment.

1) Be more mindful of my health.
Goal number one is a 2 parter. Part one is that I am walking the dog every day. Started out today with 1.5 miles. I hope to be up to five miles by the end of the summer. Certainly not a huge goal and not unreasonable. I am also considering getting a personal trainer to help me, but right now, financially that isn't really possible. *See goal number two. If I just do my walking, and throw in some biking this summer, that should be enough. I am the classic example of over-estimating what I can do, failing and then giving up. I'm going to focus on one or two things I can do without needing anyone to monitor me. I am however, thinking about a fitband. Mostly because I have heard good things about them. However, seeing as the whole point of goal number two is to be more financially responsible, I'm going to wait a while before I get one - if I get one. I have some apps on my phone that will do perfectly well for my current needs.

Part two of the first goal, is to be mindful of the food I put into my body. Yes, there will be days I don't eat so well, but in general: smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch and a lean, healthy dinner. That doesn't seem ridiculous. If I can get in the routine of eating smart this summer, I want to believe that when my life is more stressful this winter and I am back at work, I can stay mindful about my eating because 'stress eating' won't be my norm. I'm also hoping to find some recipes that are easy, so when I get home and I am exhausted, I don't have to cook a full meal. Having tried to tackle biting my nails for 20 years, I recognize how difficult it is to rework ingrained behavior. Not to mention the chemical addiction to food that I've used my whole life to numb my senses and take the edge off anxiety. With better regulated exercise, I am hoping I can manage anxiety in a more healthy way. 

2) Be more mindful of my finances.
Ugh. I don't even like to put this on my blog. Believe it or not, it is way more shameful to me than my eating issues. I have a terrible relationship with money. I'd like to change that this summer. While I don't spend money recklessly or irresponsibly, I do spend money mindlessly. I want to be more mindful of what I spend, when I spend it and how I spend it. Starting with eliminating eating out simply because I am too tired to cook. *See goal number one. It's all circular - wheels in wheels. If I regulate my finances better? I will be automatically regulating my health better. While my finances certainly aren't an A#1 disaster, I'd like to not *be* in a disaster zone in order to live my life. I am one of the millions of paycheck to paycheck people. I certainly make enough money to support myself and my child, but it is time for me to be more mindful of not only this moment, but to think about future expenses and responsibly save for them. Having no savings is terrifying, and it is time for me to rethink how I see money and my relationship with it. Not to mention eliminating the shame of feeling irresponsible. Being more mindful will help not only my finances, but my self-esteem in terms of how I see myself. 

3) Be more mindful of my Self.
I am a giver. I remember I used to tell people I knew who were givers to be careful, or they would give themselves away. I do not feel like I have given myself away. I do, however, recognize that it is time for me to put myself first. On Shark Tank, I remember one of the entrepreneurs saying, "Pay yourself, first. THEN invest in your company." I need to pay myself first. And I need to be okay with doing that. Most of the time, I put my daughter or my boyfriend or my family or my job or my friends or or or before myself. If I just 'give' enough, people will think I am worthy of being loved. Another old pattern I have to eliminate. I am working to understand how to balance the needs of those I love, with the needs of my own Self. Goal one and two are good ways to start putting myself first, but I also know that it is more than just being healthy and financially secure. I need to remember to take time for myself. To find my joy and allow myself to feel it. I want to write this summer. To read this summer. To spend time alone as well as with others. I want to finish the novel I am working on, if for no other reason than I want to know how it ends! 

All of these goals imply taking a more active role in my own life. Owning my life choices and moving forward with them. 

I don't have some 'perfect' weight in my head, or 'perfect' amount of money saved, or 'perfect' day created in my head. I am evolving. It's a process. I sort of see it as there is no failing. I haven't set up these goals with failing in mind. Instead, I am investing in a process. One to help me be more present and mindful in my life.

I'll try to post once a week to keep up to date on how I am doing. I truly appreciate all of your support, love and your continued belief that real change can happen and that new ways of thinking and being are possible. 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Replenishing the spirit


I decided to start 2014 by attending a retreat offered by Joanna Powell Colbert. I was positive I knew why I was going. I was positively wrong. I guess the best lessons in life are the ones we recognize while we are busy thinking something else is important.

The one day retreat was created to explore a personal goal in 2014. We used the Gaian Tarot for clarity and to create action steps to bring that goal to fruition.  I haven't felt called to attend any retreat or workshop in a long time, nor have I picked up my cards. But when I read the post about the day, I felt it was time to re-engage with both.

My mom bought me my first Rider-Waite deck when I was 13. I have gone through many phases and decks over the years. However, I resonate with the Gaian deck in a way I haven't connected with the cards in a long time. From the sidelines, over the last eight years or so, I have followed Joanna's progress as she posted new cards on her website. I was thrilled with her completed deck. When I got my own copy, it quickly became my goto deck when I had a question or wanted some insight. In general, I see less 'oracle' and more 'story' when I use the tarot. For me, tarot cards are representations of universal concepts; they are symbols that tell a mythic story. My interaction with them is not to seek absolute answers, but to listen to the story I hear. Joanna's deck does a fantastic job showing the mythic, and it was because of it and her that I decided to attend on Saturday. I was excited to hold space with a woman who lives her life in such integrity and creativity.

With my goal of 'Being healthy, happy and whole' in hand, my friend Mary and I headed to Bellingham. I was ready to enjoy sharing the day with others and deepening my own mythic story. I immersed myself in the exercises. I had an amazing and healthy lunch. I walked outside and looked at the Puget Sound.

Then we returned for the second half of the day.

Do you ever have moments when you are fully invested in an activity, certain you are doing the 'right' thing and then BAM just when you think you know, you have an insight that changes everything? A moment when your breath catches a bit in your chest and then your whole body sighs because that piece of the puzzle of your life slips into place and for the tiniest moment life stands still and you 'get it'. I had that one of those rare moments.

I was participating in the exercises and going along with the goal setting and such when I drew the following card from her deck:

The four of earth.

I looked at the card and thought, "This card makes no sense." And I PUT IT BACK in the deck! I was sure I needed to draw a different card, so I did. But my mind kept coming back to the squirrel. With its nuts. And the stone cairn. I dug it back out of the deck. I read about it. My time was almost up and I hadn't written anything.

Then, BAM! I got it. The story I wasn't hearing flooded into my head. I realized everything I had done all day was important, but not as much as the story being told by this card. Apparently, the whole day was about the nuts.

The moment of insight I had was about replenishing. In December, right before break, I sort of fell apart. I was exhausted, confused, and emotionally spent. I cried for two days straight. I couldn't keep my world together. And it's okay to be in that place if that is the place you are in - and I was deeply in that place. I couldn't see out of it.

The problem I was having wasn't sorrow, or confusion, or exhaustion. Those were the symptoms - this card helped me realize that the problem was that I hadn't saved up enough nuts.

I hadn't taken care of myself. I hadn't replenished myself. I hadn't stored up enough supplies. I don't need to hoard the nuts, but I do need to make sure I set enough aside for my moments of winter.

I had made the classic mistake of giving, giving, giving and not taking the time I needed to replenish. Initially, I wanted to put this card away because I seldom put myself first. I am not a saver.

My story this year, is to make sure I save some nuts. Yes, I am going to the Y and eating more organically, and saving money, etc. But mostly, I am going to make sure I take some time each month for me. I am going to go on retreats - either by myself or with a circle of supportive people. I am going to do my best to save enough money for a trip to Hawaii over Spring Break and build a cairn on the beach. I am going to make sure I have enough nuts to get through the lean times.

And while I don't make resolutions, I honor revelations. I'm contemplating buying the print of the card to put up in my bedroom - just so I remember the 'nuts'.

I hope your 2014 is filled with an abundance of nuts and you make time for yourself to gather them :).