Go On. You Can Do It.

Cherish yourself. See yourself. Give to yourself. Compliment yourself. Take care of yourself. Hold HOPE for yourself. Be tender to yourself. Believe in yourself. Embrace yourself. Laugh at yourself. Be merciful with yourself. Be gentle with your shortcomings. Be kind to yourself. Do NOT under any circumstances whatsoever give up on yourself.

You are everything and more. You are wise. You are funny. You are important. You are capable. You are strong. You are infinitely unique. You are beautiful. You are loving. You light up a room. You are smart. You are witty. You are brave. You are an overcomer. You are creative. You are good at so many things. You are what this world needs. You are so very worthy.

The sun rose high and proud today – just for you.

Wrap your arms tenderly around who you are RIGHT now. Flaws and ALL. Love the entire you.

Go on, you CAN do it.

I BELIEVE in us!

 

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 Woman at the Well

There’s a story in the Bible in John chapter 4 that has long been my favorite. I am NO biblical scholar and for me to describe its significance is like a kindergartener reciting the alphabet. But here goes….

Basically it was the middle of the day. As in the hottest part of the day. The time of day that ordinary women did not go to the well to draw water because it was so stinking hot out. Nevertheless, this far from ordinary woman hauled her vessel to the well at the hottest part of the day likely to avoid interactions with other women because she had some serious baggage. She was probably the talk of the town somehow and ridiculed or judged because her life story was less than pretty. She had serious relationship struggles and had made her way through not one, but five divorces and the man she was with now wasn’t her husband. In this day and time that rap sheet made her “damaged goods”. She was considered an epic failure. Or maybe she was just a woman looking for love in all the wrong places… or just looking for love in general. Nevertheless, she went out of her way at the hardest, hottest point of the day simply to avoid being around other women that would exacerbate the shame she already felt in what her life held.

Here she was doing her thing in what she hoped would be isolation. But, she ran into a man sitting on the edge of the well she came to draw from. This was a bit of an inconvenience especially because when she arrived He spoke to her and asked her for a drink of water. This too was an atrocity in that day. No man asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, much less a woman who was considered “dirty”, but this guy had the audacity to break the code of silence between them. He had the audacity to ask her for a drink of water suggesting she was capable. It’s an awkward situation really, but even right there at the beginning of their interaction, I believe Jesus was calling out the honor He saw in her and was declaring her worthy. Something she likely didn’t feel on the daily. He blew up the status quo with his request of her. She contested his request based on her status and He began to tell her all that he already knew about her and her story. Talk about a vulnerable moment. But, talk about a magical one as well. Here is a woman clearly having hauled herself to the well in some form of living shame and there’s a guy, of all people, telling her that she was worth interacting with and strong enough and whole enough to give him a drink of water despite her rap sheet. They talked back and forth for a bit even when His fellow disciples showed up and found Him deep in interaction with her. They showed up and were shocked that Jesus was speaking with the town’s dirt bag of a woman. He didn’t shy away. He continued to tell her that despite her story she was more than worth His time. Despite her failed marriages and the relationship she was currently in that she was still of value and that she too could have the freedom and healing and eternal water that quenched all the thirst in her spirit. She was being offered an opportunity to know that she didn’t have to feel empty and hollow and ashamed anymore. She didn’t have to feel like crap about who she was and where her story had taken her.

In this text it states that Jesus “had” to go through Samaria….. He was on his way to Galilee. He could’ve gotten there another way. But, in some sort of mystery He chose to go this way, through Samaria, on that day, when He had to know that this woman would be there. Basically, He went out of His way to speak life and truth and hope into the heart of a woman who felt broken and damaged and ashamed.

If He could show up for her…. then we can strongly deduce that He would do the same for us. No matter what your story holds. No matter where you’ve been or where you are now, you are strong and worthy and deserve to feel free just like everyone else. There’s no rut too deep, no story too heinous, no one thing or a hundred things that can disqualify you from the honor that He was bestowing on this woman.

I just want to say this: no matter where you’ve been – you are of infinite worth and value. No matter where you are going and what’s ahead for you – you are of infinite worth and value. No matter what you need to change, or work on, or make right in your life – you are of infinite worth and value.

And that truth, my friends, is liberating to say the least.

I believe in us.

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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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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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.