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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Suffering, Struggles and Trials

I’ve just finished reading Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s a harrowing account of the atrocities suffered by himself and millions of others in concentration camps. I have to say, that I tread lightly when even sharing my perspective on this read. The suffering described in these pages is epic, and unjust to say the very least. The pure, unending horror suffered by these precious individuals is more than my heart can bear. I literally hate that the experiences described in this book were suffered by any human on the planet in anyone’s lifetime. Sorrow bypasses my soul and grips my spirit. I cannot fathom the ripping of a man’s soul that took place as they were treated day after day after year lower than the value of animals.

I am enamored by many phrases throughout this book, but one that struck my core was this:

“The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future- his future- was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future he also lost in his spiritual hold; he let himself decline to mental and physical decay” (Frankl, page 74).

Do not lose the will to overcome and to power through your obstacles. Sometimes life and its unexpected tragedies and trials seems to attempt to swallow us whole. They mount before us like a mountain to climb and they call to our will to conquer them. I think of my friends who have lost a child through tragedy or illness or miscarriage. I think of the many friends who have experienced the brokenness of a marriage they thought would last forever. I think of a friend who has lost not one, but two loving partners in her lifetime before she was even forty years old. I think of the friend who after years of dedication decided to quit her job in search of deeper meaning only to find herself perpetually unemployed and the despair that has stirred for her. I think of the woman in me that has battled an all-consuming eating disorder and absolute mental turmoil for decades. I think of a woman I know who was raped, carried a baby to term, only to have him murdered by her fiancé through his anger while she was away. I think of a woman who was beaten repeatedly by a man who swore his love to her until death did them part. I think of the many patients I cared for as a Trauma Nurse back in the day. I think of my career as a sexual assault nurse and I remember the hundreds of times I was called to work to complete an exam. I think of so many things that people have suffered and my heart wants to break wide open with tears that rival Niagara Falls. Suffering in this lifetime is inherently unavoidable.

That said, may I tenderly suggest this: Please, do not lose courage. Do not quiet the small inner voice that wants to tell you that you are strong and worthy and wise for the way forward. Turn up that volume. Your life holds deep meaning and you matter to the people of this world. It would not be the same without you. Your suffering matters. It matters deep and wide and there is room enough for your tears and disappointment. Do not, under any circumstance, lose hope in the fact that you matter. There are people in your life that are better off for having you in it. There are people in your life that feel comfort because of your presence. There are people, like me, who simply sit and ponder what you have overcome and genuinely feel a surge of hope stir when I choose to face my own mountain. Believe vehemently in your future as a survivor.

He who has a “why” to live can bear with almost any “how”. -Victor Frankl

I believe in us, our worth and the power to overcome our suffering.

 

Hurry Up And Heal…

Time.

It’s actually on our side.

We have time to Be. Time to change. Time to grow. Time to grieve. Time to feel our pain. Time to acknowledge loss. We often feel hurried to heal. Truth is the days are long, but the years go fast. However, do not feel rushed…. Do not feel rushed by the expectation that we all need to be okay. Sometimes pain and disappointment comes and washes over us. We often respond to the wave and push it away because we think we’ve spent enough time feeling sad or let down or broken and now we have to buck up and be something…. be more than our pain. Be in a better place.

Time doesn’t betray us like that. Time is our friend.

We have to live in each moment come what may.

Time is not a dictator. It’s a gentle breeze. It’s a friendly reminder that we live in a place of forward momentum. It’s a gift to each of us. I think back to the years I’ve spent partnering with my eating disorder and the years of contentment and joy that has been stolen from me. I’m sad about that today. But, the real evil was the disorder…. no the time lost. I’m sad about the thoughts and the habits and the brokenness that has plagued me for so many years. I’m sad about the current repeated knock on my door by this thing to plague me further. But, I decided that rather than mourning the loss of time, hurrying to heal so there’s no more loss, that I would look at time as my friend from here on out. I will receive it as a gift to me rather than perceive it as a thing I’ve squandered. There is no expiration date on our pain, yet we treat ourselves like there is.

I have a precious friend that lost her little boy to a drowning accident. I often think of her and I am overcome with the weight of her grief. I remember her and I think of how every holiday that rolls around, every birthday that comes and goes without her sweet boy must feel. It probably feels like a massive, indescribable loss. A thing to be grieved. A memory to be cherished and held. No one would dare tell her “Too much time has passed…. you can’t feel sad anymore.” No one would expect her tears to be dry by now and her resolve to be strong to be award-winning. We would tell her that there’s all the time in the world for her to feel whatever she needs to feel whenever she needs feels it. We would tell her that her pain still matters. We would tell her that she can spend her entire lifetime healing and yet still grieving.

We may not all have felt a catastrophic loss at that level. But, we must treat ourselves the same way. Some days are just hard. We have to acknowledge the hard and work with time to heal… not against it. We have to let our strong, healing selves tenderly wrap its arms around our broken self and just hold us gently and whisper, “it’s gonna be okay. Feel what you feel.”….

You have time today to feel whatever you need to feel. You have time today to feel broken and still be aiming for wholeness. You have time today to feel stuck, but to still be working on unraveling lies. You have time today to mourn and to feel the weight of the issues at hand.

Hurrying to heal is a pressure we need to brush off. A pressure we have to deny. Sometime waves of grief come and go. They just do. But, rather than ignoring that and pushing it to the back of your mind try honoring it by letting yourself sit in it for a moment. Rather than telling yourself “I’ve got to get over this, I’ve got to move on” trying letting it visit with you instead like a dear friend would. Try letting time and your experiences commingle for a moment, hold hands. Try expecting the strength within you to rise up slowly, wrap its arms around the moment and hold it as long as it needs to be held. Cry a little. Laugh a little. BE just a little. It’s okay to feel whatever you need to feel.

Time is our friend not our adversary to our healing. Be wherever you are today. Feel whatever you feel come what may. Honor your heart. Honor the healing process. Do not rush it into existence. The concept that time waits for no one is an outright lie. Be held by it today.

I believe in us and the power to embrace time…. not to fear the loss of it.

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Finding Joy

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Finding joy is sometimes akin to a kid picking through their spaghetti dinner and finding the one, minuscule, green fleck of parsley and mistaking it for lettuce. It’s hidden sometimes beneath the noise of our day-to-day lives.

The clamoring sound of the obligations in our day-to-day call desperately for our attention. We have to slow down, catch our breath for just a moment and count our blessings. Literally count them. Acknowledge them. Shine a light on them as if they were the star of the show. Our days are FILLED with competing emotions. We can name our to-do lists like a bunch of bosses. But can we find our daily silver lining? I suppose that’s what the gratitude movement is all about. It’s a charge to grind life to a halt just long enough to see the concentration of its goodness.

When we see something we have to say something. We have to train our minds to connect with our hearts and to then feel the pleasures of this one, beautiful life. Joy is found in simply lighting your favorite candle or watering your stupid huge collection of houseplants. Joy is found in deliberately sipping your hot coffee slow. Joy is the smell of freshly mopped floors. Joy is watching the sunrise and taking in its beauty. Joy is listening for that fleeting moment to the laughter of a child. Joy is scoring that clearance item at the end of the Target aisle. Joy is your favorite song popping on the radio in that seventeenth car ride of the day. It’s a moment found mixed with the pleasure of LIVING. It’s everywhere you want to be. Acknowledging the joy-filled moments strengthens our resolve to withstand the chaos of our days. It softens our hearts and preps us to weather the storms.

Slow down. Slow way down. The hustle and grind of life will wait for you as you pick through the moments and name the joy. Life is full of them. It takes a deliberate attempt to find them and call them to the forefront. It just does. It requires a choice and a cultivated practice to see the silver lining.

I believe in us and the power to harness joy.

Failure Is Our Friend

I am allowed to be BOTH a work in progress AND to help others grow at the same time. I refuse to wait until I believe I’m perfect or someone else has deemed me worthy of impacting others. I am unapologetically accepting a life of massive growth & improvement.

I couldn’t love this quote more and I am nearly stumped for words after reading it…. Nearly 😉

So many of us fear failure. So many of us struggle, to some degree, with perfectionism. We live with the pressure of presenting ourselves as fairly put together. We think that as an adult we’re supposed to know more and to do more and to be better than we are. We take our strengths and push them to the forefront so we appear as shiny little objects. The reality is we are all in a constant state of growth and change. The whole of our lives will be filled with one learning curve after another. The opportunity for change just NEVER stops. With that in mind what if we considered failure as our friend? What if we decided our failures and struggles were our companion that leads us into growth and improvement? What if we took failure and mixed it with a little vulnerability and showed the world our humanity versus the image that we have it all together all the time? What then? I imagine it would look like a bunch of deeply accessible people helping one another become who they long to be. I bet we would feel like home to one another.

I’d give anything for my 40 year old self to have an opportunity to speak to my 20 or 30 year old self. I would open wide my arms, wrap them gently around and tenderly give myself a hug. I would sit myself down, stare straight into my eyes and whisper intently: “It’s ok. You’re gonna be ok. This failure and this need to appear perfect is in vain, dear girl. Let it go. Let go of the desire to have it all together because the reality of life is that you will never ever stop growing and improving. Your failings are the cliff edge, your tipping point into something beautiful. It’s the catalyst into change and once you step straight off the cliff and skydive into change the view is breathtaking. Every time. Embrace it. Yield to it. You are not disqualified by failures you are validated by them. You are validated as an evolving seeker of truth. Do not listen to the clamoring noise of discontentment over who you are and who you are yet to be. Break bread with others, share who you are, as is, because they are in the same boat as you. No one has it all together. Breathe and unapologetically accept a life of massive growth and improvement. ”

We need to be kinder to ourselves in my opinion. We need to speak to ourselves words of encouragement. We need to deal tenderly with our areas of growth and change and give ourselves room to mend and to breathe and to become who we long to be. The world doesn’t need more shiny objects. The world needs people committed to a life of massive opportunity for growth and change and copious amounts of grace to cover it all.

I believe in us and all our imperfections.

 

Turn Up The Volume

Shame defined by Webster: the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of being loved and belonging- something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do that make us unworthy of connection.

Quit waiting for the shame-filled voices to merely go away.  Actively turn up the volume on the soul building, spirit filling voices that course through you.

I haven’t dedicated my life’s work and research to shame resilience. But, I do know all too well what shame sounds like: Failure, embarrassed, stuck, flawed, behind, I’ll forever be trying to become better than I am right now, I need to become good, your body doesn’t work right, you’re totally screwing up at this life, etc.

If even a thread of those sound familiar chances are you identify with the shame struggle. I’ve surrendered to the fact that shame is a bit of an achilles heel for me. However, I’m not rolling over and playing dead any time soon. I’m fighting. I’m fighting for truth in my innermost parts. I’m fighting to turn up the volume on the truth that resides within me that sounds a little like this: you are a hero to your children, your body is capable of doing all that it was intended to do, you are the best version of you right now flaws and all, you are committed to growth and change, you have evolved beautifully, you are smart, funny and gosh darnit people like you, etc.

We cannot sit idle by and let the background music of our lives play a song that tears us down. We cannot sit still while bricks are being thrown at our character. We have to stand tall and strong and declare an end to the tear down. We have to say NO MORE To the onslaught and antics of shame. We need to practice radical forgiveness toward ourselves. That’s right: radical forgiveness. If it’s true that we attract what we feel inside- then we best get to work feeling pretty stinking amazing. There is only ONE you. There’s no replacement. There’s no alternative. You are the best you around. No argument. No one can do life better than you. Sure, there are some genius’ out there (like Brene Brown), but no one shows up for this life more ready to make it amazing than you. We have to shut down and silence the doubt that we are not a valuable contribution to this time and the people we encounter. Take a deep breath. Practice some self care. Turn down the volume on the voices that spend their energy filling you with shame. Turn up the volume on the voices that coach you into the greatness that you are.  It’s a battle for sure. One worth fighting.

Per Mel Robbins…. TIP: Post an anchor thought.

“Sometimes life is hard. It’s part of being human. For those times, I want you to cheer for yourself. Post your favorite quote where you can see it and read it aloud every time you pass by.”

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The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death

This is a road traveled by many. So many that my mind floods with examples…. and empathy. From failed marriages, to the loss of a loved one, paralyzation, disease, miscarriage, loss of a job, and so on. Life can be so cruel and dark and lonely at times. Life can bring great joy, but it also serves us with tear-jerking, soul-wringing, gut-wrenching pain and trauma. We wonder how we survive at all sometimes.

I think of the heartache we encounter. And I can’t help but weep. I think of our response to it all. I think of our process through it all. How do we get from Point A to Point B when the bottom has simply dropped out? I don’t even feel like I have the authority to answer that question. So, I won’t. But, I do know what deep, dark places feel like. I know what the vultures of our joy sound like over head. I know what starvation for saving and a longing for hope’s rescue to come feels like. There’s a crazed desperation inside. A cavern so deep that it simply can’t be filled with one wave of the wand. The valley…. is a valley. It’s a deep dip in life’s surface that carves you out hollow. It’s cold and vacant and void of life at every turn. It’s a dark pace and you long so deeply to see a bright red exit sign. Only, there’s no exit sign, just a dimly lit path ahead. A  path that must be taken.

The valley of the shadow of death is real. So real.  There’s an accompanying white knuckle grip that circumstantial change will come. That a miracle will occur and life will begin again… whole and untouched by adversity. Why does a God so great and kind stir such torrential desperate waters in our soul? How does a God so powerful and all-knowing allow such ailments to visit us? Again, I don’t know the full answer to this, but I do know what resilience and hope looks like. It looks hot like a fire in a desert that warms your coldest places. It tastes sweet and bitter simultaneously. And the cry inside for rescue raises an octave or two as we throw our hands in surrender admitting our weakness to prevail. Adversity brings us to our knees, to the end of ourselves.

How do we begin again out of the hollow places where hope has been deferred?

We choose.

We choose to take the next, best, right step forward down that dimly lit path. We choose to believe in our worth and we anchor strong in our destiny. We sometimes get a tattoo or six to remind us who we are. We brand our hearts with truth that no matter how deep the valley we can RISE. In one, small step at a time forward we can find ourselves through the valley and at the base of a mountain ready to climb. We are weakened by tragedy, but ready to climb because we know now what surrender feels like and what slow motion looks like.

We choose.

We choose to believe in the power that resides within us to write our own story. To turn the page when the time is right. To put pen to paper and script our way forward. To write our way out. Hope is a powerful driver for the way forward. Hope in ourselves. Hope in a God that’s orchestrating all things for our good. Hope in our neighbor and friend and even enemy. Hope that the view on the top of that mountain to climb was worth every second in the valley of death.

Hope is the path forward. It’s a cold and broken hallelujah. With HOPE we can choose to rise. Be stirred today. The path may be dimly lit, but take one, small step forward at a time. You are WORTH the rising. The sun is coming for you. The mountain top is waiting for you. There are beautiful things to see just ahead for you. There is a filling of joy and peace and resolve and strength coming to fill the hollow places. Stir your hope today. This world is a better place so long as you are in it.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” -Proverbs 13:12

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