What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Everything. Every. Thing. This massive hit song was made iconic by Tina Turner as her most successful single, however, written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle….

How can one human being love another human being if they don’t first have it sitting right there inside of themselves, for themselves, like a constant handout or a steady stream?

We have allowed the worries of the day, let alone the future, to literally constipate our ability to love ourselves and others inside of one twenty-four hour window.

As I sit and write to you this morning I have that tangible, sick to my stomach, pit-like feeling. I pretty much function all day with this very real body sensation. Is it worry? Is it fear of the future? Or is it possibly just an eagerness inside of my choice to be vulnerable, open and to share on the outside what happens in me on the inside. I’ve always been an external processor. I have NOT always been on the road to healing, admitting freely now, “I am NOT skilled at Recovery, YET, but I am learning right in front of you. Out loud, not out of pride, but out of pure vulnerability or a willingness to share”. I suppose, my mind perceives this body feeling as angst and tells me I’m afraid. I have many reasons to be. My gremlins of the mind that dictate an Eating Disorder or substance abuse have been aggressively dethroned as of this summer and my trip to Treatment for the Eating Disorder (that I’ve maladaptively held onto to cope with life for approximately thirty-three years). This was nothing short of a trip to Hell. Do I have some residual PTSD? Yes. Am I getting help with that along with everything else? Indeed. However, I learned a thing or two from Mel Robbins, in one of my favorite motivators, the book: “The Five Second Rule“. This tangible feeling, she taught me, is a sensation perceived by the mind, it draws on inferences of the past, and tells me that it’s worry, anxiety, stress, fear of the unknown, “don’t go there”, “you suck at recovery & they’ll see that eventually”, “you’re a broken, broken record”, etc. I have the power to choose to interpret this nauseating feeling one way or another. Today, this morning, I choose to interpret the pit in my stomach sensation as excitement or an eagerness to share, to be known, to be seen, to be heard. We all matter. We all seek validation to corroborate that. We all need a little love in our life. If that love does not come from the inside out, you guys, we are, in full, simply blind travelers groping our way through life and calling it “20/20” vision and hoping no one will notice our defect.

How does the sick heal the sick? How do the blind lead the blind? I. Don’t. Really. Know. What I do know is that I’m willing to raise my hand in a sea of strangers and admit that life is both brutal and beautiful as I’ve mimicked Glennon Melton-Doyle repeatedly. There is always controversy over who or what we choose to listen to. I firmly believe that every human has inherent value and we are the worst at throwing the baby out with the bath water. If we can learn to value our own selves then we can also learn to hear from any ONE PERSON, any THING, any PLACE, and at any TIME. Glennon has been a mentor to me for a solid decade or more despite anyone’s circulating opinion on her personal life choices. She is a leader amongst the Eating Disorder and substance abuse users, survivors, and desperate to change. She has been a life-line for me from the get-go. She admits, untamedly so, that we all lean into vices as a way to cope with the “Brutiful mess” that our lives have become. We all need a little permission to not have to be so perfect, now don’t we?

That said, I pose a question. How well do you value yourself? How well do you listen to yourself first and the voices or opinions of others second? How pervasive has culture’s idea of beauty and worthiness become to you and has that mindset inadvertently been set on auto-pilot like an ingrained habit pattern of thought that begets an action or worse a reaction? Can you look at yourself in the mirror and hear a still, small, tender whisper that speaks to you as you rise for the day saying, “You are simply the Best. Better than all the rest simply because all the rest are not like you. Thank you for showing up to BE inside of today”? I haven’t heard that gentle awakening in a long time, but I am listening for it and when I don’t hear it organically, I say it intentionally. If we do not see ourselves as worthy of this line of thinking or speaking over ourselves….. how in God’s great world will we see others in God’s great world just-like-that? That would be a pretty tough road to hold. If we don’t cultivate an environment of love on the inside… perhaps, we are like famous singers, Tina Turner for example, known for an iconic tune and all the while we are just singing a song that we didn’t even write.

More to come.

I believe in us.

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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One man’s trash….

…. Is another man’s treasure.

I’m convinced that there is nothing… literally nothing of waste in this life in terms of experiences we face.

I’m sitting in my favorite spot in my house as I write this morning. The sun rises around me. I stare out the wrap around porch windows to the lush green surround that makes me feel completely hidden despite the hustle of traffic I hear in the distance. My fiddle leaf fig, which is my favorite tree in my favorite room, stands tall and yet drooping in the corner surely from over watering in my eagerness to establish its roots. My coffee sits piping on my favorite piece of furniture in my favorite room just across from my favorite droopy tree. A collection of seashells, where no one is like the other, hangs on the wall reminding of my first love. If a hundred hanging seashells don’t initiate an image for you there’s a picture of an ocean’s pier just opposite that mimics the pier of my home town and my favorite landing spot on the planet: Cocoa Beach. My favorite room, my favorite tree, my favorite piece of furniture (that holds my favorite beverage), surrounded by images of my favorite place on this Earth. What is not to love? Believe me, I love this room so very much as it sits perched off the far back side of the house to the degree that my four children seem to forget it’s here and therefore…. miraculously forget to bug me while I’m in it.

As surrounded as I am this morning with peace, quiet and my favorite things a la Oprah Winfrey style, one item of interest catches my eye above all the rest. In the corner below the hanging seashells sits a doorstop. A DOORSTOP. At least- that’s what it was used for when I crossed paths with it. It sat outside tossed to the right of the front door of a home I was staging for resale. The homeowner had emptied the place, but left behind the convenient doorstop for whomever needed it. How thoughtful of him. Everyone needs a good old doorstop. When I laid eyes on this doorstop it was love at first sight and I was baffled how anyone could leave it behind…. IMG_8859

Don’t even play! You too have shock and awe that this beauty was used as a doorstop. When I saw it – it stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me of driftwood, which reminds me of the ocean, which reminds me of my favorite place. I had the rare, but desperate boldness to ask the realtor to ask the homeowner if he minded that I took the “doorstop”. And so it goes: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

What’s the friggin point? Just pause for a minute today and hear me. HEAR ME. There are things in your life that look like absolute crap… to you. There are places you have been and moments you’ve experienced that may seem entirely meaningless…. to you. There are pains you’ve encountered that have left you wondering what the point of it all was for. I have seen it time and time and time again so far in this little life of mine and I’m convinced that NOTHING is wasted. What has looked like and felt like complete trash to you has, in reality, served you with a treasure trove of depth and understanding. Your pain has NOT been in vain. It can be the treasure of your life to another man that needs a hearing ear and a listening heart some day. The experiences in your life that seem little more significant than a doorstop can be the very moments that generated a knowing in you. That knowing, in turn, can stir and heal and mend the heart of another gracing them with beauty of feeling seen and known and ultimately ….. not alone.

I know it’s hard. But, just for a moment imagine that your life and its myriad of experiences that carved you out hollow are like a glistening, blindingly bright treasure to those who encounter you.

I believe in us and that nothing we’ve experienced has been of waste.

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*Favorite table credit: Timber & Tulip

Some days life is super manageable. Some days it’s a crap shoot filled with seventy two triggers that want nothing more than to throw you off your game. Some days are genuinely peace filled. Some days are a big, chaotic mess. Some days there’s huge, beautiful clear skies. Some days there’s a gloomy array of clouds and rain and the heavens seem heavy.

Recovery is like that. Some days you feel good to go and fully committed to your commitments to change. While other days your vices for coping with life stare at you and breathe down your neck like a psychotic, hungry monkey on your back.

In the throws of it all how do you stand firm in the decision to be good to yourself; to honor yourself; to see yourself as worthy? I don’t know much about ALL the in’s and out’s of recovery….. but, I’ve learned to accept this key fact: it’s a series of choices. One choice made after another followed by another and then repeated again and again. The will to change in any given area is simply fueled by… the will to change.

I have learned recently that there is significant power in honesty and surrender. These are two components that are like cool water to an over heated soul. These are two positions of mind that are the gateways to the strength and drive for the long haul of change. Admitting struggle honestly, coupled with the abandonment of perfection, is actually a position that generates more freedom, not less. Surrendering to your weakness’ seems counterintuitive, but it’s incredibly necessary for the way forward. When you admit, or surrender, to your powerlessness over any given vice in your life it tends to quiet that internal drive to be “more”. It creates a pause effect in your grappling and like a gentle friend it extends to you a sense of acceptance for where you actually are. When you quiet the drive to be “more” you can begin to hear the still, small whisper of your humanity that says, “you are enough, as is, struggles and all”. That voice that tells you “you are ENOUGH, as is” is crucial to empowering any form of lasting change. You have nowhere to go but up once you let yourself fall to the bottom of your truth. So long as you hover just above the truth, pretending to be (or convincing yourself) that you’re more than you really are- you miss the opportunity to be honest with yourself. The voice that tells you you’re already enough is often buried beneath a heavy facade. We don’t intentionally bury that whisper, but in order to turn up it’s volume we have to be real with ourselves. We have to surrender our desire for perfection and accept honestly the reality of the way we cope with life.

Recovery, from anything, isn’t easy. It requires a grind, a trunk load of grit, and the will to change. There’s something holy found nestled inside of honest acceptance. There’s something liberating about surrender to our truth.

Be where you are today. I believe in us and the power to recover.

 

The Truth Hurts… or does it?

We put in a pool last fall in preparation for some serious fun this summer. To say that taking care of a pool is a steep learning curve is a total understatement. Growing up in Florida I had the pleasure of enjoying a pool as they came with a house almost expectedly. I remember swimming for hours on end without a care in the world. We lived in a one story home with a flat roof. My older brother and I would climb onto the roof and run to our potential death to cannon ball into the pool. Every time we jumped we would inadvertently drag in a trillion shingle pebbles. One day my mom, perplexed, asked why there were always so many little rocks in the pool clogging up the cleaner. Neither of us confessed as we played dumb to the weird phenomenon. As an adult now with four kids of my own and a pool to keep balanced I can see how annoying that must have been for my mom. We had a blast though.

A pool isn’t a pool without the water, right. The water has to remain at a strict, tight balance of chlorine to water at a million parts per million per square foot. You’re welcome for that chemistry fact. If the pool water gets out of balance at even a million and eight parts per million she goes cloudy. Just like that. She’s a foggy mess. You then have to balance it back out by shocking the system for a day and nurse it back to clear blue inviting water for cannon balls and marco polo.

The truth is like that. Honesty with ourselves is the clear blue water. It’s the playground for freedom and abandon. Hiding our reality at even a fraction is the cloudy, foggy water that needs attention. Being brutally honest with ourselves in how we handle and process life and its myriad of situations is crucial to our health and balance.

I’ve had a trying year. I remember my 40th birthday like it was yesterday. Not just because that’s a milestone birthday, but because I sat weeping as I honestly admitted to myself that I had a raging eating disorder. The truth hurt. Or did it? Once I named and embraced that reality I could either wallow there or get to work to clear the water. I had to take a look in the mirror and acknowledge honestly the way that I was handling life. I was doing all the things quite functionally. But, I was nothing more than a pool of murky, cloudy water that needed a shock to its system. God put an awareness and drive in me to get whole like I’d never experienced before. He surrounded me with empathetic and supportive friends that reached out to me. I am eternally grateful for that. I surrendered. I bent my feeble knees to the truth. In that place of weakness honesty was the only key to the door of my healing. There was literally no other way out.

As I write I am just post my 41st birthday. The truth hurt last year, but the way I was handling life hurt worse. The truth was, in turn, the salve to my system and the only way forward into actually living as opposed to slowly dying. I have experienced more healing through the truth and its momentary, fleeting jab to the heart than I can describe.

Shocking a pool back to clear water takes 24-48 hours. I wish our healing took about the same. It absolutely doesn’t. But, the sooner we admit to ourselves in brazen honesty the way we are handling life the sooner we can find freedom and peace and hope and so so much more.

For the love, ask yourself where you need to surrender to the truth of how you are handling life. It is an intensely uncomfortable question. But, I promise you that what awaits you on the other side is nothing short of beautiful.

I genuinely believe in us.

 

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

“When confusion or pain seems to tighten what is possible, when sadness or frustration seems to shrink your well-being, when worry or fear agitates the peace right out of you, try lending your attention to the nearest thing.” Mark Nepo

Life is a mixed bag. Some days our greatest struggles include, “how do I get my laundry done, floors mopped, get to Costco, the gas station and back in time to pick up the kids from school?” Other days our greatest struggles include, “How do I make it through this day without absolutely breaking down under the weight of what sits in my heart?” And other days our struggles lie somewhere in-between.

To live a full life means to be fully alive to both the mundane and the storms of pain and emotion that come our way.

Hope. Defined: to cherish a desire with anticipation; to expect with confidence. The Hope is that we stay awake and receptive to both the mundane and the storms without shutting down, closing off, or worse stuffing it all away. Facing our story can be brutal at times…. like a storm or a mid April snow shower that dumps eight inches on the ground that had finally thawed and was showing signs of life again (Thanks so much Minnesota). Things creep up on us from time to time as we move through our narrative chapter by chapter. Unwelcome things. Unexpected things. Painful things. Things we didn’t anticipate.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue. That lyric is a bit genius and not merely for child’s play. Rainbows show up in the sky after it has just rained and the light shines through the water droplets like a prism. After it has just rained…. indicating there was a storm either great or small. And the nearest thing that reminds us that our peace will come is that bright, beautiful cascade of colors painting the sky.

When trouble comes your way – face it. Embrace it. Feel it. Move through it. Let it have its way. And then…. Lend your attention to the rainbow and the hope that just above its prism of colors from light permeating the water droplet filled skies that the skies above ARE blue. Your release will come. Your healing will come. Your peace will come. You’ll get to Costco and back in time and you’ll get through the heaviness of your story. But, stay awake to both. Stay fully alive to your story. Lend your attention to hope and the anticipation that your peace will come, your page will turn, and your story is as beautiful as a rainbow high in the sky.

I believe in us. Stay awake. Live fully alive. You matter.

When the Birds Sing

“We share the same river, and where it enters, we lose our stubbornness the way fists wear open when held under in the stream of love.” Mark Nepo

I’m sitting here this morning taking a pause. I hear birds chirping outside my window and I swear it’s filling my heart with peace. Peace, because their song tells me that the arduous Minnesota winter has indeed come to a close. There’s still snow in mounds on the ground here and there that’s melting all too slowly. But, it had its day and Spring has bid it adieu.

Life is like that.

This winter was a brutal one. Technically, they all are with me being born and raised in Florida (which is God’s favorite state, but you already knew that). The winter grind in life hollows us out, sends a chill through our bones, and makes us seek warmth. The tough stuff of life does the same work. When difficulty waltzes into our story we often feel a cold river rush through our soul. We sometimes stand a little frozen and don’t want to move much. And the work to simply go outside, having to put on seven layers and all, is exhausting. We slow down, hunker down and wait… We wait for the birds to come. We wait to hear their song that tells us that the sun is on our side and everything is gonna get better from here on out.

We go through seasons and some are so much harder than others. Some things in life cause our fists to clench and we can feel like fighting our way through. Not the good kind of fight, the ugly, scrappy, irritated kind of fight. There are struggles present in my life that I often just feel mad at. I want to raise my fists and knock them into next week. But, as I sit here this morning, serenaded by the birds, I feel a river of peace wash over me. I realize I want to dip my clenched fists into that river and emerge with open palms so I can receive what’s on the other side of my winter. I want to calm down, embrace my story gently, and take in the lesson of it all. I want the frozen mounds to melt in me and to give way to the Earth beneath. The sun will come for us. It always comes for us at just the right time.

There is ALWAYS a Spring on the other side of your winter. Do not be disheartened today. The birds have come. They are singing for you to remind you that you’re gonna make it. Dip your fists into that river of love and open your palms to receive the lesson. The winter is hard. It’s always hard. But, let peace have its way in you today and let those birds remind you of how strong and beautiful you truly are.

I believe in us.

Be Still and Know

“If we still ourselves long enough within the web of all there is, we will eventually come to know lightness and transformation.” Mark Nepo

We get so caught up in where we are headed that we often miss where we are. We need to take a nod from the caterpillar. We need to still ourselves inside our own reality of what is and let transformation take its course. We cannot rush it. We can not speed up the process. If we do, we emerge weak. The cocoon of our circumstances is where the change happens. It can feel constricting and even lonely, but please, sit inside your story for as long as you need to. Feel the walls of your reality. Acknowledge where you ARE, not just where you want to be. Don’t pretend to be a butterfly when you’re still a caterpillar.

I’ve been on a journey of recovery from a life long battle with an eating disorder. The path to recovery, from anything really, is not for the faint of heart. To overcome something means a ton of surrender is at play. To let go of something in order to take hold of something else is really challenging when that something has served a purpose in your life. There’s fear involved as you face the question, “what will happen when I let this go?” More specifically, “what will I feel when I lay this down?” I don’t think we hold on to habits for far too long because we are stubborn or stupid. I think we hold onto them because we’ve adapted to how we feel with them. We fear what we will feel like without them. We fear what we will face in ourselves when we stand empty handed with our vices at our feet. Surrender feels hollow and empty sometimes. It’s vulnerability at its finest. If I could snap my fingers and wash this thing away I’d do it in a heartbeat. But, that’s not how this battle is going down. It’s a slow and steady grind to unwind the cords that have entangled me.

The caterpillar doesn’t know how or when it will emerge beautifully with wings of color and wonder. It just knows that it needs to spin its web, and wait. Interestingly, the only thing truly required of the caterpillar is an acknowledgement that it’s time to go inside and….. be patient. Change is coming. He just has to do his part and be still inside his cocoon, his reality, his walls. He sits and waits inside his limitations and emerges when the time is just right. Not a moment too soon. He waits until the transformation has taken its course and then he does his part to muster the strength to emerge. The timing of transformation is often a mystery.

Do not rush a healing. Do not emerge from your story because you’re eager to “get over it”. Feel it all the way through. Let the courage emerge to be patient inside your walls. Change is hard. Change is slow. But, be still and know that change will come.

I believe in us.

 

Let The Light In

“I am humbled to admit that the only difference I see on Earth between being strong and weak is the honesty with which we face ourselves, accept ourselves, share ourselves blemishes and all.” – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

It takes internal courage of heart to not act like we have it all together all the time. Some things in life are easy and happen on autopilot. Loading a dishwasher, the laundry, microwaving something, writing a check. But, there are other things in this life that are just incredibly tough to get through. Facing our baggage, untangling lies, feeling the pain of our circumstances, disappointments, regrets…  It’s beyond okay to admit from time-to-time that life is hard. It hurts. And your heart weighs heavy and there are pieces of you that are scattered about at the moment.

There’s a constant ebb and flow to this life. There’s a journey, a path for each of us to take. No two stories look the same. Ever. Just because the guy next to you waltzed through his trauma seemingly quick doesn’t mean you have to hurry up and get yourself “better”.

I think we are a little afraid to be broken. I think we want to show up strong and whole and to be admired. But, I am learning in a major way these days that you don’t have to be finished in order to be whole. In other words “whole” truly is a combination of strengths and weakness’, not simply one or the other. You don’t have to have all the things sorted out in order to be considered whole and thriving. You just don’t.

I cannot say it enough – do not rush a healing. There is space for you to mend. There is time for you to heal. There is room in this world for broken people. There is a seat at the table for the imperfect ones. There is hope for the struggling ones. Do not be okay… if you’re not okay. We will love you as you are. Let that light in today.

I believe in us.

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!