Stones and Flowers

“We are all just small stones and little flowers searching for our sun.” -The Book of Awakening

Sometimes we feel as cold and heavy as a stone. Sometimes we feel as tender and full of life like a flower. Sometimes we bounce back and forth between the two. Our lives hold so many experiences along its twisting, winding story line.

The Reality is – the sun rises and sets pouring out its warmth and light over the flowers as much as the stones. It would appear then that both the stones and the flowers matter as the sun gives way, without prejudice, to shine over each of them. I’m just suggesting here that your entire story, the good the bad, and the ugly – matters. The experiences we face are sometimes really stinking hard. We can feel like we’re rolling a boulder up hill. It’s frustrating. Tiring. And we often stop and wonder if we’ll make it up the hill at all. We often wonder if we have what it takes to make it through to the other side… wherever that is, whenever that will be.

Boulders and stones are easy to see, to feel, to acknowledge. Their presence is more often undeniable. It’s difficult, at times, to remember that while you’re pushing stones around there’s bound to be a flower or two in its path. God is pretty kind like that. He softens the blow of our heavy circumstances by peppering in a little beauty along the way. Sometimes the boulders crush the crap out of those flowers 😉 But, at other times, they are stationed to your left and right so the way forward doesn’t feel so barren and empty. Flowers are friends, smiles from a stranger, a song that grips you, a knowing nod from someone hearing your story, something that makes you laugh, hot coffee…. They are most often the more subtle things in life.

Whatever heaviness your life holds right now matters. It truly, truly matters. Do not be swallowed whole by the weight of your circumstance so much so that you cannot feel the tender beauty that surrounds you and cushions you. It’s there. It’s always there.

I believe in us.

The Magic of Healing

Sometimes pain lives like a virus in your system. You cannot rush a healing any more than you can rush the run of a virus. It just has to take its course and partner with time to find its resolve.

There are certain things in this life that effect us at different levels. They hold on to our memory banks like an encoded java script that takes some serious technological advance to decipher. I just want to give you permission today from one human to another to still hurt. Just because we are grown adults doesn’t mean that we’ve worked our way through it all by now.

I watch America’s Got Talent with my kids. It’s a thing. Our thing. I used to hate the show because I couldn’t stand to watch half the acts like knives being inserted apparently as deep as a hip socket or someone falling to their death only stopping inches from plunder. It’d ridiculous to me how people even discover talents like these. I mean – who thinks of sticking a knife down their throat and getting shot at with a flaming arrow narrowly missing all vital organs as it hits some teeny tiny baby target? It’s short of crazy.

Where’s my correlation? America has certainly got talent. Act after act people stuff amazing, harrowing events into a three-minute span that’s riddled with magic and illusion as they bear the brunt of what appears to be deeply painful tricks to the naked eye. Pain, healing and overcoming in real life is the exact opposite of what we see on the screen. There is no way to take magic and illusion and cover the events that our life has held. Furthermore, there is rarely a round of applause as we come up standing on the other side. I think humans are incredibly resilient. This show certainly proves that. However, when it comes to real life pain sometimes it runs as deep as our hips and it needs far more than three minutes to recover and find equilibrium.

I sat in therapy yesterday divulging intricate details about the origin and the presence an eating disorder has held in my life. I was left with shock and awe as some of the events of my life bubbled up with tears and a heaviness and straight up pain attached. There were things that I thought I’d dealt with only to find them surface with a fever, evidence of a virus still working its way through my system. I came home last night and cried a hundred more tears because I want to be “over it all” by now, but my heart was telling me otherwise. There is still work to be done. There is still time needed for the virus to run its course and find its healing. Just because I’m the ripe age of forty now doesn’t mean I’ve arrived at a place of wholeness and healing.

All that said, sometimes we have to take inventory of where our heart is at in all reality. Sometimes we have to honor our pain, acknowledge it, let it bubble up with tears and emotions and give it space to work its way out. Just because the things of the past still hurt doesn’t mean you are broken. It means you are alive. Just because you still have tears and anguish doesn’t mean you aren’t every bit amazing from head to toe. It means you are REAL.

I do believe in magic. But I also believe in reality. Where is your heart today? Be gentle with yourself. Your reality is worth honoring and taking a concentrated look at. I also believe that we do deserve a standing ovation as we come up, out, over and through our stories with resilience. I am cheering for you today. Truly. I believe in us.

 

Hope

Sometimes we have to stare HOPE right in the face.

Sometimes we are holding on by a thread.

Sometimes it’s a fight to keep it together.

Sometimes we feel too far gone.

Sometimes we feel like hope for change is lost in some unobtainable cloud.

Sometimes we feel frustrated and defeated and even a little bit lost.

Sometimes we live our days on autopilot meanwhile our “issues” burrow a hole in our heart.

Sometimes it feels like it’s been just too long to see any actual change meet any horizon.

Sometimes we feel lonely in our struggles.

Sometimes we don’t feel like fighting for a darn thing. We just want to feel okay, whole, mended, complete, strong, full, healthy, wise, grown….

Sometimes life takes its time to make a turn for the better.

Sometimes that thing called time zaps our will to hope in more.

Hold on. Don’t let go.

“I know your heart is heavy from the fight. You never know just what tomorrow holds and you are stronger than you know. Just take one step closer. One foot in front of the other. You’ll get through this. Just follow the light in the darkness. You’re gonna be okay. When the night is closing in don’t give up, don’t give in. This won’t last it’s not the end ” Jenn Johnson

I believe in us.

Believe in you.

 

Public Service Announcement

NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER.

NO ONE.

You are not alone in your striving. You are not alone in your grieving. You are not alone in your pain. You are not alone in your joy. You are not alone in wishing you had at arrived at the age you are without your bag of tricks for coping. You are not alone as you wonder if you’re a good parent. You are not alone as you sometimes hate going to your kids games, but you love showing up for them. You are not alone in your loneliness despite being surrounded by loving friends. You are not alone as you grapple with contentment over your body, your image, your worth. You are not alone in wishing you had followed “that one dream” you had for yourself. You are not alone in your regrets. You are not alone in your victories. You are not alone in your defeats. You are not alone in your failures. You are not alone in your success’. You are not alone in wishing you could change faster, grow stronger, become more. You are not alone as you struggle to surface with true gratitude each day. You are NOT alone as you feel that twinge of depression from time to time. You are not alone as you wonder what you’re actually good at. You are not alone in despising going to the grocery store with a bunch of kids. You are not alone in thinking two hours alone in Target is a mini vacation. You are not alone as you wonder if your kids are “normal” or are they living in emotional crazy town with a home address that’s yours. You are not alone as you make another meal that almost no one eats despite starving children across the globe. You are not alone in absolutely abhorring your children’s math homework. You are not alone in hating the winter’s bitter cold. You are not alone in craving a better, more connected marriage. You are not alone in trying to recover that loving feeling. You are not alone in trying to overcome issues that have plagued you since childhood that “should” be long gone by now. You are not alone in loving your children, but loving their bedtime just as much. You are not alone in trying hard to be MORE than you were yesterday….

You are not alone in any corner. Not one.

We are NOT all in this life together, and yet, we are ALL in this life together. And you, my friend, are not alone.

I believe in us and the power to embrace this life knowing we are all…. ALL just genuinely trying our best to make the most of it. Be comforted today. We see you and what we see from one human to another is an amazing person surrendering to what life brings.

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What I Would Tell My 10 Year Old Self

I was 10 years old. I sat outside my dance studio on a much needed break from the four hours of classes I had back to back. I remember the sun beaming on my face. I sat with a friend on the curb. We started talking about our bodies and how I wished I was thinner (Reminder: I was 10). I was already inundated with a sense of body consciousness due, in part, to the fact that I basically lived in a leotard and tights approximately twenty-five hours a week. My friend, who was a few years older than me, looked at me and said, “You are perfect just the way that you are. God gave you the body that you have and you’re capable of anything. Be super grateful for that. Gratefulness for what you have is key to being content with who you are. There is no one else like you and there is no need to compare yourself to anyone. We don’t need to strive to be thin…. we really just need to be healthy and think well of ourselves….Treat ourselves like we matter. We all get to be different. And that is a good thing. Healthy comes from the inside out and this world would be a really boring place if we all looked the same….”

That’s actually not what she said at all. That’s what I wish she had said and that is what, today, I tell my children as often as I can. Instead, born out of her own struggle, she volunteered the information: “You can look as thin as you want as long as you puke everything you eat. It’s easy. You should try it.” And so the seed was planted… at 10 years old.

Thus my lifelong battle with bulimia began. This often morphed into a bouncing game between bulimia and restriction. Whatever the mood called for. All I remember thinking was, “this is how to get thin.” Thin was the goal. Thin made me fit in and thin meant I may not be the girl with the largest costume after all come performance time…. as if that mattered. I was obsessed with my body image at such a young age. I had a misplaced sense of self-worth. Clearly stating the obvious right there. I wish someone had stepped in to show me that I was perfect just the way that I was, that I was beautiful in the skin that I was in. I wish someone had drawn my attention to how much stamina I had athletically speaking. I could dance for hours on end and dance well. I was good at it. I loved it, but I hated my body compared to the girl next to me.

I’d give anything to go back to that 10-year-old girl sitting on the curb. I would put my arm around her, tell her that I understand what it’s like to compare herself to others. I would tell her how beautiful she was…. just as she was. I would tell her that life would be challenging along the way, but that the entire me is what the world needed…. not just a thin girl. I would remind her that her value was truly from the inside out and not at all simply what she looked like. I would tell her that being healthy was in no way simply a reflection of the outside image she presented the world. I would remind her that healthy is a mindset as much as a body disposition. I would tell her she’s gonna be amazing and that the she lit up the room with her humor and would affect change in the world in big and small ways. I would tell her that someday she’d be a badass mom that worked hard to provide and love well. I would tell her not to be afraid of failure or not being the best at all the things. I would tell her that kind humans trumped thin ones any day of the week. So, strive to be unendingly kind. I would comfort her that she would be the best at some things, but absolutely not at others and that it would all be okay as long as she showed up with who she was at her core. I would tell her she was creative and strong and friendly. I would tell her that those attributes were the seeds worth watering. I would tell her that people remember people who show up for others and care and give and share and empathize and laugh and hold hands with the hurting…. far more than they remember how thin they were. I would tell her that someday she would raise some great kids that would need to know all of the above as well. I would button up this pep talk by reminding her of what her mom always said, “Beauty comes from the inside out”.

I believe in us, you guys. I believe in our ability to value who we truly are at our core, not just what we look like on the outside to others. I believe in our ability to be kind, to care, to give, and to take notice of others…. because that’s what people remember most about us. Not the size of our jeans.

Take Your Time

I find it amazing that the older I get the less I seem to completely understand, but the more I am content with that. I remember when I was in my twenties and thought I knew enough to run a freakin country. Ignorance was bliss… or was it (for the people around me)? As a parent of four children now the days are so busy that I feel like I am managing a small country, but I’m no expert. My children can assure you of that. I am routinely reminded by my darlings that I just “don’t get it” as I petition for an explanation on any number of grievances. Turns out that the fact that I trump them in age and experiences by a mile seems to hold little weight with them because, you know: you just don’t get it Mom (insert massive eyeroll from child here and say “mom” with extra emphasis).

I don’t get why recovery takes a painstakingly long time. I mean, if we are lucky enough to have the desire to change in any given area shouldn’t that desire alone catapult us into the motherland of wholeness? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. As it turns out the desire to change  is just the light of the match. The candle burning sloooooooowly is the process of change.

I’ve battled an eating disorder for twenty plus years. Tears well up in my eyes as I write that fact. That’s a long time. A lot of disorder. A ton of missed moments. A long stent of turmoil. I’m not completely sure why, but recently and by the unending grace of God the match of desire was lit in me to change…. to find freedom. But, the slow pace of recovery leaves me dumbfounded and frustrated at times.

I am a product of the Gen X generation. I saw mixed tapes turn to CD’s and “boom boxes” become an iPod. I saw the internet come to be of wide use and I was here before email was a thing. I feel a little bit lucky like that. I’ve seen a massive evolution in technology and a shift so sweeping in our culture that it’s actually downright fascinating how much brilliance is out there. We’ve seen so much technological advancement so rapidly that I think we often place the same level of pressure on ourselves. If you want to be something “Just Do It”…. If you want a hot meal just microwave it. However, when it comes to change in any given area, please, cut yourself some slack. There is no such thing as Javascript or an iOS update that you can “click” on to enact the change you’re wanting to see. Just sit back for a second and be grateful that you have the desire present. Then walk slowly forward. One step at a time. With unending grace for yourself. You’ll get there. We’ll change. It just takes time. It just takes time. It just. takes. time.

I light my favorite candle almost every morning. I let it burn all day long then snuffing it out at night because it’s time to rest and I don’t want to burn the house down. But, I light her up again the next morning and let her fragrance fill my home and it brings me comfort. Now, if that’s not an analogy for life and change I don’t know what is.

I believe in us and the power to slow down, cut ourselves some slack and hope expectantly in the change that will come with time.

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness Defined: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

Forgiveness, such an intuitive definition, simple, yet a challenge for so many of us. I believe it’s a practice, a skill to hone, something that evolves within us. It’s not a punch card moment in the least. It’s an action OR process that is often repeated time and time again.

I was thinking today about the wrongs that have occurred towards me in my life and the wrongs that I’ve committed towards myself and others. I immediately felt a dark cloud come over me when I thought of the wrongs I have committed. But, when I thought about the wrongs committed against me I felt a sense of grace and peace, an extension of pardon bubble up within me. At first glance, I was alarmed at this feeling thinking “oh boy, I have work to do. That dark cloud can’t stay”… but, at second glance I felt proud of the feeling that has evolved within me towards others. Nevertheless, this does beg the question: why can I extend an evolved pardon towards others yet hold myself hostage?

If a doctor told me that there was a diet pill that I could take that would result in a twenty pound weight loss by day three I’d be jamming that down my throat in two seconds flat. Forgiveness over ourself and others can have the same effect as the diet pill in many physical, mental and emotional ways, yet we hesitate. I hesitate. I hesitate for many reasons. I suppose hanging on to the wrongs I’ve committed somewhat confirms the poor self-image I have. I know that sounds terrible. But, it’s true in a way. Holding on to the crap I’ve done mirrors the crap I feel about myself. If I chose to let go of the stupid stuff I’ve done I would have to take that poor self image, the crappy mirror, and start speaking kindly to her. I’d have to look at my mangled messes and pour peace all over them until they were drenched and untangled. I’d have to extend a handful of peace that wasn’t earned, but gifted to myself, by myself. I’d have to set myself free. I’d have to do the work of altering completely my internal dialogue and what I choose to be true about my worthiness.

When we choose forgiveness we are taking a once tightly bound, fully constricted blood vessel and serving it with oxygen. We are therefore serving everything that surrounds it with oxygen as well. Forgiveness is the process of recovering wholeness, breathing life into the broken spaces and making way for a healing. It’s a coming to peace. It’s a process of acknowledgement followed by a restoration of our will to be free. Forgiveness towards ourselves and others is the currency for an exchange that makes way for growth and restoration of our worth. Simply put: It’s the bitter pill we swallow that sets us free. It’s the very medicine that releases pounds of anger and hurt and all that stalls our growth and change.

Forgiveness is rarely a one and done. Our memory banks are keen and ever so vivid. They are tied to our emotional make up. We often inadvertently keep a record of wrongs. We need the action or process of forgiveness to restore justice in our hearts. The impact of our experiences is strong and the ONLY thing greater than that impact is the power of forgiveness.

I just want to convince you today to do a little inventory. Search your heart. Where are you held hostage? Are you able to release others, but hold yourself hostage over wrongs done? Or do you suffer from the opposite? Can you forgive yourself, but you’re holding with a vice grip wrongs that have occurred in your life at the hands of another? Either way. There is a coming to peace waiting for you through the process of forgiveness. This blog post is not exhaustive. There are easily a million more words to say on the subject. But, consider this today: where is one area in your heart and life that could stand to have the gift of peace breathed straight into it? Where is one crack in your heart that could use the healing balm of forgiveness gifted to yourself, bu yourself? Consider your freedom and get to work ushering in peace as though your livelihood depends on it.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Victor Frankl

 

Resolution versus Resolve

Resolution Defined: A firm decision to do or not to do something.

Restriction Defined: the limitation or control of something or someone, the state of being limited or restricted

I’ve never been real good with resolutions. I see the word resolution and somehow my mind morphs it into the word restriction. As in, I fall in the camp of people that makes a bunch of declarations about what I’m NOT going to do in the coming year. This has not served me well. In fact, I can’t remember anymore what it was that I decided in 2017 that I was NOT going to do in 2018. But, chances are I did those very things I set out not to do. In my opinion and according to my own history, we are all like moths to a flame. The thing we make a big deal about is the very thing we think about, possibly attempt to avoid, but wind up gravitating TOWARDS instead of away from. With resolutions we actually set ourself up for potential failure, or at the very least, a strong mental battle. Our minds are just funny like that. For example, I have set an intention, for several years I’m sure, to not eat sugar. In my case all I think about then at the end of the night is the sugar I want but can’t have. All I think about at a birthday party is the delicious piece of fluffy white cake that I want but won’t have because… I’m not eating sugar.

I’ve battled a thirty year eating disorder that I’m sure started out with a few seemingly harmless resolutions. My disorder started out with resolutions to be thin and look healthy, but soon turned into restrictions over my eating habits left and right and a dictation over my actions, habits and more. Much like an anaconda in a jungle trapping its prey, those resolutions that read to me as restrictions, soon became full-blown constrictions in my freedom.

So, what I’m suggesting is this…. why don’t we bag the resolutions? Why don’t we all just set intentions for what we are going to do. Declare a resolve (defined:decide firmly on a course of action) over what will be ALLOWED in the coming year. If I personally fell into that camp it would look a little more like this:

2019 Resolve:

I resolve to laugh more.

I resolve to wear looser fitting pants that feel comfortable and don’t speak rude comments to me.

I resolve to forgive quicker.

I resolve to write more often.

I resolve to eat birthday cake every single time someone is being celebrated for being alive.

I resolve to speak kindly, tenderly and gently to myself.

I resolve to learn the lesson at hand from my mistakes.

I resolve to affirm and appreciate others more.

I resolve to hug my children more and tell them they are beautiful just the way they are.

I resolve to affirm and appreciate myself more.

I resolve to build on meaningful friendships.

I resolve to eat well. To enjoy what I enjoy. Period.

I resolve to choose that I am beautiful just the way I am.

A list like that reeks of good intention! If I was a moth to a flame I’d like to follow the above light. I’d be happy to get caught in the snare of any one of those things listed above. As you set out today to make any internal decision on what you want out of 2019, I implore you to make a list of RESOLVE versus resolutions that often lead to restrictions. What do you WANT to take action on in the coming year? What do you want to see yourself doing more of? Set yourself up for success. Set yourself up to fail forward. Let’s actually make it a Happy New Year. It’s about time we did that for ourselves.

I believe in us and the ability to set a positive direction for our future.

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Beauty And The Beach

I sit on the Beach in the warm Florida sun with the breeze on my face, salt in the air, and the sound of waves crashing just 20 feet away from me. I can taste the salt in the air and smell the suntan lotion and my senses tell me I am home. This is Heaven for me. I am a Cocoa Beach native and no matter where I live in the world this will always be my true home. This is where my heart feels most content. A surge of peace takes over me at the beach. A gentleness takes over my pulse.

I can hear the laughter of my children. I can hear them hollering to one another make-believe scenarios like “getting away from robbers” and mermaids coming ashore as they body surf the cresting waves and I smile. I know I am gifting them with the same experience that made up nearly every day of my childhood. My heart fills with deep contentment. I could sit there all day. I could sit there all day as we chase the sun down out of the sky.

I sit there glued to my chair. I’m glued for many reasons. I sit locked in because I relish in the feelings of peacefulness and the symphony of pleasant sounds that surround me. Not a wandering crab or a flock of birds is lost on me. This beach is to me the most beautiful haven on the planet.  I also sit locked to my chair because of deep-rooted insecurity. If I get up and stroll to the shore “what will others think when they see my body and this swimsuit” I wonder. How can a place that is dripping with a sense of home also be welcome to my entrenched body image issues and shame over my appearance? How can a negative internal narrative show up for a forty year old mother of four? Aren’t we over this stupidity by now? It’s a mystery to me how I can feel such a sense of peace, but simultaneously be glued to a beach chair so no one sees my body. How can I feel such joy and yet choose to be locked down to a stupid striped chair so that I don’t feel the rejection I’m projecting from my neighboring beach go-er … whom I don’t even know. I skip out on the fun with my children because I’d rather stay tied to my chair then give a passer by the opportunity to think I look “fat”. I full-blown lie and tell my kids “mom just loves to get a suntan” when I refuse their request to come play. The truth is mom is deeply insecure in her own skin and simply cannot get up. Won’t get up. I decline their request to show up at the water’s edge because it’s too cold I tell them. The truth is my negative internal dialogue is robbing me of the ability to show up for them with any level of participation.

I hate this scenario. I hate how my self-doubt sits on my chest like a beached whale. I hate that I am choosing to skip out on writing notes in the sand and building castles with motes and drawbridges. I hate that I opt out of a stroll to collect shells because I fear the opinion of people watchers that are all foreign to me and nowhere near my inner circle of friends. I hate that I let shame and insecurity rob me of memories to be made. I hate that I let my insecurity be bigger than my strength and resolve to show up for them. The barrier to my full, true joy is that I give a sh*$ what other people think of me instead of being a badass mom with four children having a little fun while centering myself in presence.

This has to change. Insecurity, humiliation and a negative internal dialogue are not things that we deliberately pack in the bag of sand toys. Yet they show up in full force.

I love watching the tide. It comes and goes at a rhythmic pace. As does our positive and negative narrative running through us. Unlike the tide however we have control over our thoughts and the freedom they allow us. We have to deliberately attack our negativity with life-giving thoughts that unlock confidence and resolve to get up out of a chair and care not what the world sees apart from a mom engaging wholeheartedly with her children. You might be thinking that I’m really glued to the chair because of simple vanity. I assure you that’s not the case. We live in a culture that values thinness and rewards it with compliments and we brutally judge one another on the daily. We live in a body centric environment and have raised one another to think that thin is beautiful and anything outside of that needs to be reigned in. In order to be counter-culturalists we have to choose to value who we are on the inside over what we show or see on the outside. This takes effort as we go against the tide of our society. But it’s a fight to the death of the joy-robbing, presence stealing moments like these.

I believe in us and the power to go against the tide, to get up out of our chairs, to inhale freedom and to exhale presence. Now, I have a mermaid to rescue…..

The Comeback Kid

My 6 year old hollered confidently to his soccer team “Don’t worry guys we’re gonna make a comeback”. They were down by more than a few points. I sat listening to him say it repeatedly. He continued as he grabbed his coach and said, “My team needs me to get in there and score”. I laughed wildly with pride.

Why am I posting such vulnerable things lately and showing you what’s behind my curtain? Because of the same sentiment that my son carried at his soccer game….

Sometimes we need someone who believes in us. We need someone who is willing to admit the status of where they’re at and maybe…. just maybe convince someone that they can win at this life thing too. Not everyone lives out loud or certainly heals out loud. I tell you this though- WHATEVER your struggle is, whatever is behind your closed curtain- can stay there. I’m just saying, these days, from one teammate to another, “don’t worry guys, we’re gonna make a comeback!” We are going to get through whatever the thing is. You have it in you. I have it in me. It’s gonna take some work. Seriously flipping hard work. I’m healing out loud. You heal at whatever decibel you want. But, there’s one girl right here that believes in you today. I’m serious. You can conquer that thing because you are AMAZING and capable and strong and beautiful and worthy of the change you so desperately desire. We will build and mend and grow and alter the climate of our society. We will throw out the pervasive negative background chatter that runs through our minds. We will insert a life giving narrative that supports the core values of who we are.

My son won his soccer game that day. He scored three goals. They made a comeback. And so will we. I believe in us.