Set intentions, Be Present, Be Mindful….. they say.

Here’s a snapshot of how I look on paper: I’m a woman. I’m forty-one. I’m a mother of four. I’m a wife of sixteen plus years. I’m an aunt to seventeen. I was a nurse for years in multiple departments. I’m a business owner three times over. I’m an AA-attending alcoholic. I’m a therapy-going overcomer of an eating disorder. I’ve gotten enough tickets that my GAP insurance was dropped. I’m usually ten minutes late. I sincerely love people of every single solitary kind. I drink approximately four La Croix’s a day (minimum). I have every essential oil known to man literally just to seem like I’m into that sorta thing. Similarly, I own an expensive, dust-collecting juicer. I love sweets. I consume approximately four Dole lemon popsicles a day like my life depends on it. I used to run marathons. I’m addicted to houseplants and on (rare, but common) given days I enjoy them more than the people I live with (do not quote me on that). I’ve seen every food related or crime show documentary Netflix has to offer. I almost never fall asleep before midnight. I say “YES” way too often, but with a sincere heart. I’m actually secretly good at math, but I loathe doing homework with my minions. If I could have any talent it would be to sing and to eat whatever I want without ever gaining weight, like zero to the power of zero pounds. I’m getting enough grey hair and wrinkles to know that I’m aging. I so don’t want to work out- ever. I play music louder than most people and my favorite genre is Rap and R&B.

The above described human is supposed to be capable of being “Present”, “Mindful” and to find that magical pocket of time to set my “Intention” for the day. I’m a mixed, chaotic bag y’all. It’s a tough one.

I want so bad to have a wise, witty and yogi-like response to the admonition that is softly pelted at us day in and day out. Presence, Intentions, and Mindfulness doesn’t come to us just because we think or say the words or put on some great meditation app. These ingredients of living have to be practiced, learned and implemented…. again and again and again. I don’t know about you, but no matter what day of the week it is – these things are just hard to harness for an extended period of time. Why is it that the second you think you’ve got a handle on any one mindset in particular it seems to slip away like like melting butter to a hot pan?

A precious friend of mine sent me a Vox (the genius walkie-talkie app on your phone) recently. She was sitting beachside in Naples, Florida. For whatever ULTRA KIND reason she thought of me. She sent me a recording of about a minute’s worth of the massive ocean and its crashing waves with squawking birds in the air all just doing their thing. She said that the sound of it all was just a little gift to my day and to stop for a minute and take it in. And so I did. I closed my eyes. Played the recording a few times. I near instantly felt light, peaceful and ultimately known by my friend. I am a Florida native, born and raised. She knew full well that the ocean, and all its wonder and glory, is engraved on my heart as the most pleasant place on the planet. So, I stood there listening while tears filled my eyes. I had been going so hard between work, child rearing, home making, watering my plants, laundry sorting, attitude adjusting four children, more work and so on. I was taken aback by the incredibly peaceful sound of the ocean that was so vivid in my imagination I may as well have actually been right there in that moment.

I found it interesting and emotionally moving that as soon as I stopped and engaged something that spoke to my spirit – the “presence” everyone tells me to find easily overwhelmed me. I didn’t even really try. It just happened. I was moved. The heartwarming thoughtfulness of my friend carried serious weight in making me feel loved. The chief gain, however, was the fact that I felt alive in that moment of pause and intention to give my imagination a connection to my spirit. And so there’s the ticket, I think. You can try as you might to do all the meditative things. For real. Go ahead- diffuse your oil, juice your veg, play your app. But, unless it’s something that directly connects your imagination to the wonderment of what moves your spirit you’ll be trying to do some prescription like maneuver to generate mindfulness.

Moral of the story: There’s no one way to peel the apple of peace. Find what speaks to you and what you connect with then marinate your brilliant mind in THAT for the minute or two that you find. We put our make up on (or not), do our hair each day (or not), but don’t forget that in the hustle and grind the Spirit, that is you, needs attention too. Stare at a piece of your favorite art, burn a scented candle you just love, or play a favorite song ridiculously on repeat. Whatever man. Mindfulness, Presence, and Intentions can be more easily achieved if done in your lane, your way, according to what moves you. Go there…. and then stand in it for just a bit. Thats all I’m sayin’.

I believe in us.

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The Body

A kindergarten teacher once asked her students what the purpose of their body was. The classroom’s consensus and precious reply was this: “It’s used to hold our head up.”

Oh, the irony of that perspective. The profound simplicity.

When I was in nursing school (far too long ago) I had to take anatomy and physiology. I straight up consumed every lecture like it was as good as air. I loved it so much I swear I’d go back right now and take it again. I was fascinated by the genius of the machine that our bodies are on a cellular level. (I mean, can I please get a quick shout out for the Krebs Cycle or what?!) Like many of my fellow colleagues, I held several different positions as an RN. In my former glory years, I worked in Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Surgical Intensive Care and Trauma Nursing. I had the fortune to see the body function, heal and sustain mind blowing injuries. I saw countless babies inhale their first breath. In my Trauma days, I saw a man live to tell about the horror of falling thirty feet from a building onto a bar of rebar that impaled itself straight through his skull. I saw the inside of a chest cavity more times than I can count. I can do CPR in my sleep like a BOSS. I’ve seen patients return to an alert state of mind after being comatose for two whole months or more. Our bodies are incredible and they’re forever seeking a state of whole homeostasis (stable equilibrium).

If we stopped for a quick ponder, no doubt, we would all agree that our bodies are intelligent and globally mesmerizing. In the light of my knowledge, experience and education why then did I allow my mind to reduce the sole purpose of my body to: appear “thin”? Why did I lose the respect and wonder of its actual functions and endless abilities? At what turn did I begin to believe the shallow societal notion that our size and shape are our vehicle for securing other people’s opinion of us? That’s such a slap in the face to the wonderment of the body’s near indescribable capabilities.

I’ve lived with a (self-limiting) narrative that I’m as good, desirable, acceptable and respectable as I am thin. As if “thinness” is the showcase for my worth; the strength of my internal locus of control; or the reflection of my self discipline. As if “thinness” equals beauty somehow and suggests that my body is all that and then some. As if “thinness” somehow secures my seat at the table of life one row ahead of where I’d be otherwise. I can hardly get over how shallow that sounds. I can barely stomach how narrow that perspective is and the realization that it ruled my life for decades.

We have to fight a little bit. We have to wrestle a lot a bit. We have to subscribe again and again and AGAIN to the truth that we are so much more valuable than our size or shape. I have two daughters and two sons. When I think of how beautiful and priceless they are I want to protect them and filter any influence over their belief system in their worth like a raging caged animal. I want to stand at the gates of their thoughts and arrest anything that will mess with their sense of how precious they are. I would fight to the death to protect them. I would need massive restraint as I’d nearly rip the throat out of anything that spoke crap over them. FACT: I am worth that same level of intensity. How can I convince my children of something I don’t believe for my own self? I have learned repeatedly that kids can smell a fake from a mile away.

People- please hear me. There’s nothing easy about going against the grain of society. I think we all know that full well. I let my mind be water boarded by shallow lies for sooooo damn long. There is no time like the present to stand up for myself and to get vigilant about protecting what thoughts I believe to be true about my value. I have children to model authentic self confidence for. I have WHOLE people to care for. My body, in full view, is a total machine y’all. It is working around the clock for me. In the same way that our bodies are infinitely more complex than simply holding our heads up, our worth is tied to so much more than our size and appearance. There genuinely is NO room to believe otherwise.

I believe in US.

 

 

 

Dear Homework

Dear Homework-

I hate you. Is that too harsh? I’m sorry, not sorry.

If I remember correctly I graduated High School. And college for that matter. I have done my time, man. I put in my hours and made it through and I did right by you. I mastered my 3×5 cards and studied like a boss. You have a lot of audacity to show back up in my home like every stinking night with a vengeance. We soothed ourselves by saying, “I’ll never have to use this again.” Turns out that was a big fat lie.

Math. Seriously- bite me. My dad is a math teacher. I disgrace his legacy daily around here. Who in the Frick wants to add, multiply, and subtract fractions at 40 years old? No one. And by no one, I mean no one. You are not welcome here pre-algebra. Take your x’s and y’s and go. Far away. I don’t want to figure out what number you are. Just tell us already so we can all move right along. I have meals to cook, laundry to fold, and fights to break up. You are cramping my flow. There are tears and complaining around here and I’m soothing my kids with, “you’ll never have to use this again”….. until you have children of your own, that is, and you have to PULL them through their homework.

Spelling. Dear baby Jesus. I have managed to get through life pretty squarely and I thought intelligently. But, as it turns out I apparently don’t know how to spell words. Thankfully, I am the one quizzing my kids. And thank you so much for reminding me that I have relied heavily on spell check to the point that I’m a little dumb and dumber. Why is my fourth grader smarter than me?

History. I can’t even. There are just too many details. Too much has happened around here. I really just want to watch documentaries on Netflix, okay? I don’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday much less the leader of some (albeit super important) war that occurred approximately a billion years ago. All I really know is Eve ate the apple, she blamed Adam and now we have to do homework. The end.

Geography. Where in the world is Carmen SanDiego? Where in the world is anything? Did I even take geography as a kid? I’m thinking no because these countries you’re needing me to show my kids where they are …. literally the first time I’ve even heard of them. My world view is the size of a penny I guess. I get it. Got it. Thanks for the confidence boost geography.

To all the parents out there doing homework with your children I see you. I feel you. I pray for us. If we can get through this I swear we can get through anything. Amen and amen.

 

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Oh man. Sometimes we just feel the torrential rush of the troubled waters. We feel the cadence of our failures rush against our ankles. We see ripples of many moments missed and botched by our weakness’ to our left and right and we feel super heavy. Like an anvil tied around our neck and we are almost drowning beneath the weight of it all.

Thank God for God. He takes the MOST broken places and He comes for us. Piece by piece. Mending by mending. Morning by morning. He will not leave you stranded. He will not abandon a broken heart. He will not allow a flower to wither in the desert. He brings the sustaining rain in its due time. He provides the bridge over the troubled waters and He obliterates the troll guarding it all.

Broken places are no joke. They call to us and suggest we are a hot, hot mess. But, child – you are never beyond repair. Never. The crap you’ve pulled over the years is hushed by the weight of the grace of God. It’s literally quieted under the mystery of His redeeming kindness toward us. He will show up for you. He will come for you. He will lift your heavy heart out of a tub of piranhas and set your feet on solid ground.

He redeems EVERYTHING.

It’s all gonna be okay. All of it.

I believe in us.

Showing Up

Showing up for your own inherent worth matters more than anything.

Diving right in, in full transparency, it has taken me about sixteen years to figure out that my husband is not my source of contentment. I know, I’m a little slow. No matter how many times he tells me, “you look nice today” it just doesn’t quench my thirst to feel beautiful. No matter how many times my children say, “I love you too mom” it just doesn’t satisfy my desire to feel like a “good” mom. Not to suggest I’m some abyss of need, I’m just admitting that no matter how much they pour into me – it’s never enough unless I believe things to be true of myself from the inside out. When they would “fail” me in building me up I would turn to my bag of tricks to feel good rather than my own voice…. because I didn’t believe in myself.

I’ve struggled with self-esteem for most of my life. It has been a struggle indeed. I bought into some thought process that once I got married and had children of my own I would somehow feel good about myself from there on out. Insert massive learning curve here. I thought I’d have a partner and a brood of little humans, much like a parrot on my shoulder, that would shower me with compliments about how I do life. I thought those compliments would provide a steady stream of esteem in who I was as a person. I was depending on my husband and my children to provide a sense of worth and value from the outside in. I wanted them to help make me feel good about myself. I do think it’s entirely okay to want and even need validation here and there, but to be dependent on their accolades in order to feel good about who I am…. major letdown. Don’t get me wrong – my husband is a kind man and notices my efforts. Likewise, my children are loving and kind (and absolute freak shows at times). But, I find it fascinating that no matter how much they give to me in word or deed it is never enough unless I genuinely believe in myself.

Showing up for ourselves, in terms of knowing our worth, is far from selfish and self-centered. We have to be able to look in the mirror and believe HARD in our value as we stand there alone with no one to tell us a thing or two. We have to know deep in our core that we make the world a better place to be in simply because we walk in the room. No – that’s not arrogance talking, that’s confidence in our contribution to this life and the lives of others. We have to be boldly confident in who we are and what we offer this world. I’ve learned over time that confidence in our worth and value is often simply a choice. It’s a choice to believe in who we are and the value that we bring to this world. There are so many things I don’t know, but what I do know mixed with my God-given perception is of serious significance to the people in my life.

So, what’s my point? Choose. Choose to believe in your inherent value. Today. Tomorrow. And the next day. Please know that who you are, your personality, the way you process life, and what you bring to the room is of infinite worth. There’s no substitute for you. There’s no one who can do your life better than you can. We need you. All of you. In this day and in this hour. Stand tall. You matter and you are beautiful every time you bring the whole you to the table. Your needs matter. Your scars matter. Your experiences matter. Your perception is valuable. Your pain matters. Your efforts matter. What you’ve learned through life matters. Your smile breaks open the troubles of the day. Your laugh is medicine to the weary.

Show up for yourself and believe in who you are from the inside out. Speak into your soul exactly what you need to hear. I promise you it’s not pride. It’s an act of honoring the true worth and value that makes up who you are.

I believe in us and the power to choose that we are amazing.

Spinning Plates, Wheels and Heads

Sometimes there isn’t enough coffee in the day to handle all that’s spinning. We have so many demands over us that it feels like we are the circus act that lines up our poles and starts spinning our plates. We hold our breath and hope we have the stamina and quick acumen to keep everything going. Sometimes the spinning plates of the day are just about enough to take you under, or at a minimum stress you out, but at worse make you forget who you are at the core of it all.

On Saturday, I had four basketball games at four different venues plus team pictures all followed by an evening party. Life has a way of making you feel like while you may keep spinning all the plates just fine, you are really just spinning your wheels below and not getting very far in the things that matter deeply to you.

How is life as complicated as it feels at times? We wonder why random coping mechanisms pop up left and right. They are our release valve to keep our heads from spinning while the plates are going and the wheels are taking us to what feels like Nowhere’s-ville. No matter what we have going on we are on a daily quest with an underlying theme: A search for worth and value amidst it all.

From one mother to another, one parent to another, one human being to another I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that you matter. Your dreams matter. Your hopes matter. Your exhaustion is real. The struggle is also real. And your value in the middle of it all is immeasurable. “Sometimes life just slips in through the back door and carves out a person..” to quote Sara Bareilles (‘She Used To Be Mine’). To quote her further: Sometimes we have to fight just a little to bring back the fire in our eyes. No matter what hangs in the balance, hangs over your head, makes the to-do list – you matter beyond words. We don’t often stop and think about how far we’ve come, how strong we are and the pure bravery we’ve summoned to face life head on. Your resilience is astounding. Your precious resilience to be who you are despite all that life requires of you is remarkable.

Your dreams for your life and your hopes for who you would become are not lost in the shuffle they are fighting every day to be front and center of all that’s required of you. Sometimes we go on autopilot to get through the days. I just want to remind you that your dreams for what life would look like for you are not silly and are not lost no matter what is tugging at your sleeve to be done. No matter how old you are. And no matter how capable you feel. You may be waiting for a breakthrough in an area of your life…. that matters. You may be holding on for something to open wide and to come through for you…. that matters. You may be holding on with all your might to not crumble beneath all that weighs on your chest…. that matters. Remember the sun today. It rises for you. It opens its fiery arms and blazes over you today because: you matter. Do not forget who you are and how far you’ve come amidst the spinning plates. Do not forget who you are as you feel the wheels turn beneath you. Do not forget who you are at your core as your head is whipped in circles thanks to the demands of the day.

You are doing a really good job. You are making it. You are evolving. You are rising. You are shining brightly in the reflection of the sun that rose over you today. You’re not just another human, you are the only YOU. There is literally no one that can take your place and do it all better. You are killing it. All of it. No matter what anyone has spoken over you – you are showing up to what is a busy, demanding, spinning planet that has enough force to knock you off your axis…. but look at you. You’re still standing. It bears repeating: You are doing a really, really good job. You are so very worthy and you matter in every way. Take a deep breath, theoretically wrap your arms around yourself and take in your worth and value amidst it all.

I believe in us.

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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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Dear School Cancellation,

Dear School Cancellation Days,

I am truly lucky to have four children. Two boys and two girls. I have known so many people in my life that have struggled to have children of their own so this gift is not lost on me at all. I swear. But, I love school. I love it with every fiber of my being. I love the influence of the teachers in the myriad of ways that they speak into my children’s lives. I love the sense of responsibility that’s fostered in them through things like homework and book reports and making their OWN lunches each day (since I apparently don’t know how to put anything “good” in there). I love that they get to expand their mind through art and music and science. I love watching their interpersonal relationships grow through recess and lunch, albeit twenty minutes short. I love school from drop off to pick up…..

Can I just say to you, school cancellation day, that you are cramping my style man. The very week I decided to paint my entire main level floors white you go and give my kids not one but three days home from school. I get it – there’s a negative fifty degree windchill in Minnesota this week, but seriously. Can’t we all just bundle the little love bugs up and send them your way? We have gloves and stuff. And for those that don’t I will personally nominate myself to hand extras out at the door. I am being eaten out of house and home. The snacks are gone. The television is literally fried from over use and is heating our home faster than my furnace can keep up. My voice is hoarse from yelling at them to stay off the floors I’m painting. I mean, come on school, take one for the team here. These kids have things to learn. I have a blog to write and floors to paint. And I’m out of food. Our games are “boooooooooring”. I will say, however, that laundry has been a dream this week since no one seems to think they need to change clothes. There’s been ample hot water since the opportunity to bathe occurs to zero children. But, their teeth are literally falling out for lack of brushing. And apparently reading a book is akin to water boarding.

School, you are a portal to happiness for all of us. You are every mother’s break. You give us time to think and sit and do and grocery shop. Four children home from school for three days means we have digressed to WWA wrestling tryouts and my entire basement has become an obstacle course. Not that I mind and all it’s just that if I have to put out one more fight I’m gonna go cra-cra or body slam them myself.

These floors are getting painted come Hell or high water, but they are in the direct path to the kitchen. At least by now there’s no more food so the traffic has slowed dramatically. I would like to request that the powers that be consult the mother’s far and wide before you go swiping right on whether or not those educational doors open.

Sincerely,

Mother of The Year (with beautiful white-painted floors and no more food)

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.