A Little About Me & My Take On Mental Disorder

I am a woman. I have birthed four children. I have maintained a relationship with a man for close to two decades now, married for almost seventeen years. I have a puppy that is love incarnate. I have worked as a registered nurse in many corridors of hospital care and I managed to create and boss three business’ in the interior design world. I have seen babies born and every age imaginable die at the hands of tragedy or decline in one’s health. I’ve created beautiful spaces in individual homes and workspaces out of the images and acumen for spatial surrounding in my mind. I traveled to another continent for a year and learned how to serve on another man’s property far from the comfort of my own home. I have worked in the world of celebrating moments in our lives through event planning (one of my favorite jobs). I have taken classes to hone my skill in communicating through writing (still finding my way…. see egregious punctuation errors and run-on sentences). I’ve run three marathons and pretended to be an olympic lifter in the subculture of those who are freakishly strong. I know a little about a lot and have insatiably studied random topics over the years on the human heart, mind, body, and way about us in terms of how we function. I am a believer in God, and Jesus, and His Holy Spirit. I believe He created us, came for us and will come again. I’m not ashamed of my strong spiritual beliefs or my weak human shortcomings. I’m not put off by the beliefs of others (at all), their choices (no matter what) and certainly not by their own personal shortcomings (we all share a shocking potential for failure). At this stage in my life there isn’t a human alive that I wouldn’t invite to dinner at my table, and I mean that with every fiber of my being. I openly talk about addictions to comfort through sharing my struggles with an Eating Disorder which is a mental disorder that uses the human body to produce a sense of security or control. I share freely about my own substance abuse which is also a mental game that numbs the partaker providing a temporary, fleeting escape from the discomfort of their struggles. Any addiction to comfort (comfort is essentially the key driver) winds up eventually owning the host (every time) no matter the portal of escape one uses. Neither addictions nor mental disorders are complicated. They are baffling, cunning, and “wise” (oxymoron…. majoring on moron) with a slithering boa constricting approach to the essence of any human. Addictions and eating disorders are born out of a desire to adapt to our surroundings and to survive what we cannot change or control with periods of mental reprieve. That’s it. I firmly believe that ALL humans matter whether they are male or female or find themselves suspended in-between those declarations of gender. I believe that ALL people are important whether they are the CEO or the individual that cleans the building under the dark of night that the CEO builds his empire in. I believe that wealth and fame and poverty and perceived insignificance has invaded every single aspect of our society and because of that an actual injustice runs rampant across the globe. I believe our culture has shifted for the negative and the positive with the rise of social media. Anyone can say anything, at any time, no matter how they feel and despite small or large impact. There’s a free for all happening and it is stirring the bridled and unbridled emotions of many, especially the young. The young lack the capacity to fact check and choose judiciously what to believe about themselves and others and are yet flooded with mere opinions expressed through emotional verbiage or filtered images. Our youth, simply based on their fluctuating maturity level with complex thought, struggle to find the difference between fact and opinion and how to apply those to their own mind’s ability to think and decide. The intangible and tangible structures of our society attempts to build up equality and simultaneously oppresses equality through that same system with pride over a good, better, best pecking order. It’s unnerving to me. In terms of material possessions I have a beautiful home the serves us well complete with a backyard pool in a winter state. Please know that a Florida native needs direct access to water…. and not the murky, ten-thousand-to-choose-from lake kind of water with a mushy bottom and fish the size of your thigh that you can’t see swimming around you. In terms of family connection I have two parents that thankfully still live in my home state of Florida and three siblings with fantastic spouses and nieces and nephews that I would give a kidney to. I have friends, young and old that love me and care for me and check in on me regularly. I have extended family that treats me like I am one of them and no matter the geographical distance between us. I was a trained dancer as a child, raised in the performing arts and therefore taught how to put yourself out there despite your introvert or extrovert bent. I was not unlike any kid that searched for their significance through the incoming and outgoing tide of acceptance from others and the pressure to rise to popularity. My mom taught me to befriend everyone without exception. That gave me space to build connection in almost any circle allowing me to also find a degree of comfort in any circle. We moved a lot as a family so the ability to adapt in changing environments whether you liked it or not was also built into my DNA.

All of this and more brought me straight to the table of survival from an Eating Disorder and a global decline in all the things that made me: Me. I have experienced in part, or in full, every single solitary comfort known to man. I am privileged beyond measure. No question. I don’t have all the money in the world, but I’ve had enough at my disposal to provide opportunities galore to create comfort, pleasure and memorable experiences.

And yet…. I have felt unloveable deep in my core. Because of this core belief, my life has unraveled, more than once.

Where did that feeling come from? After ALL this good outside of me that could tell me a strong tale about my value in this world and my place amongst its occupants the question about my worth still echoed in the hollow halls inside me. I realize now, with the minuscule wisdom of a forty-two year old, that material possessions and interpersonal relationships that surround our existence mean absolutely NOTHING if you doubt yourself on the inside. Doubt in our own worth is a silent killer. Its nearest companions (for me) are shame and ridicule. These companion players don’t need to be center stage or high functioning inside any one human, but they directly feed self doubt with information as though it’s fact or objective material harboring accusation held against the host. Shame and ridicule will use the experiences we have had with our own shortcomings and the painful encounters with others ALL DAY LONG to gnaw at our core value. My physical body has suffered serious ridicule from me and abuse or neglect at my own hand. I have stories in my past that told me a strong, objective tale that something was wrong with its subject. Somewhere along the way I let those experiences tell me what was true about me instead of my own opinion of myself. This is tragic, but despite this reality she, my body, has shown up for me every day, no matter how I feel, and functions for me with or without favor or attention from me. Her resilience is astounding. She has never wavered in waking up to face another day despite the brutal lashing I’ve given her in “feeling” like she was too much or too little. With the utmost humility she gently tells me when I am in need of energy and no matter how many times I’ve ignored her for the selfish gain of my appearance begetting an internal sense of control she keeps trying. She knows when she’s tired and she knows when she’s had enough in one day. I have pushed her, pulled her along, withheld from her, required much from her, neglected her and berated her appearance or inability to accomplish more. My internal mental hunger to be more knew no end and I demanded my body to answer tangibly for that void. That friends, is an internal mental disorder manifesting itself in a network of thought and directly using a human body to answer the mind. I’ve used my body to speak back to my disordered mental understanding of myself for over thirty years. I wasn’t born with an eating disorder, one was presented to me at a young age and I unfortunately bit the bait. Eating Disorders fed by shame and ridicule will take their time to make an impact. They don’t mind being drip fed by self doubt as they lurk in the corners waiting for the full meal of actual physical hunger. They sit idle by consistently extending an opportunity to its host to take the reigns of control, but, at first, it doesn’t demand to be entertained in full. Until it does. An Eating Disorder knows a thing or two. It’s confident in its ability to sytem override. It’s befriending at first helping the host feel like it’s coping with the feeling of internal chaos knowing that it will eventually implant its virus so deep in the mind of its user debilitating their ability to choose life through forgetting to remember to eat. At what point did I decide to turn against body, my most faithful ally, to listen to the eating disorder’s proposal in my mind for a sense of control I longed for? At what stopping point did my gratitude for her service evaporate into a raging demand for more output of tangible control? At what point did I externally start to destroy her for the internal question that clanked around inside of me…. “Am I worthy of love?” “Am I good enough to be here?” My body never wavered. She never left the job due to a demanding boss. She never turned a blind eye to my wandering heart and putrifying ability to listen to Health. She stayed close, gave more when she could, and stopped almost cold in her tracks when she could no longer meet the demands. My Eating Disorder was a portal for mental control that used my body to answer a revolving question in my mind. Substance abuse was a portal for escape to avoid the gnawing feeling that no matter how much I gave physically it never seemed to feel like enough satisfying a sense that I was worthy.

If you’ve read this far I doubt you are left with a question as to whether or not an Eating Disorder is a mental health issue. There’s no denying that it is. When you are in the thick of the disorder it holds such a boastful presence that it convinces you to avoid connection with anyone or anything else as it slowly leads you to a solitary grave of being your highest “caretaker”. It’s a sad, slow and steady decline of our human brilliance. I am one of the lucky ones or blessed… whichever word you’d use. My body waved a white flag of surrender in its greatest hour of need. I am forever grateful for her friendship and loyalty. Much to my own surprise I do not regret having an eating disorder or a history of substance abuse. They worked in tandem to assist me in avoiding reality and answering the questions I had about my worth simply by slowly and surely disabling my own choice of thought. I have experienced an exaggerated sense of avoidance of my core self and ultimately a loss of depth in relationship with myself and others. I know better now. I will do better now.

I assure you that valuing yourself through the pure power of your mind to choose to believe that you are amazing, as is, is key to your survival, and mine. Our physical body is amazing. It can do almost anything you charge it with and the capacity to learn and adapt and accomplish much is literally endless. I’m increasingly convinced that we are limitless in our capabilities. I am enamored by human potential. Our body is the vehicle that allows your spirit and worth to show up for your whole entire life. Our mind and thoughts provide the gas to go further and stay put wherever we find ourselves. Prioritizing self care of this body and mind means that you respect what your body needs and appreciate what it enjoys and you guard carefully what you think about yourself. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I have a chance to live again. So do you. Every single day. I do NOT take this lightly. My body size says absolutely nothing about my value and physical hunger is a call to action to eat to live. Period. Avoidance of hunger and controlling what you see on the outside doesn’t tell you how good I am at being me. I see that now. I surrender every day to that life giving train of thought now.

I leave you with this…. Are you surrounded with much in terms of material possessions that reflect your personality and interpersonal relationships that reflect your ability to connect? If so- in the midst of it all do you feel like you are enough? Or are you hustling in any way to answer that through something outside of the voice inside your own mind? What about your life is helping you cope with discomfort or chaos in your mind about your inherent value? Answering that question deeply and honestly takes nothing short of humility and requires a reprioritization of things in the aftermath. It is never easy to face our coping strategies. It is never healthy to ignore our truth either. We are brilliant and full of wonder and the capacity to change for the good or the not so good knows no bounds. It all comes down to choice and the power we invoke to believe the very best of ourselves. Every day. Your body will honor your beliefs and stand steady for you. May you work hard to compliment the efforts of your body and mind to carry you through this amazing existence.

“I Don’t Know Much, But I Know I Love You”

This is an iconic song sung by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville (written by Tom Snow, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil).

Yet again, we see a paradigm in music that is true for us in life as well. So often these hits are sung by the face and sound of someone with magical talent, but written behind the scenes by someone else entirely (also with magical talent).

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a story worth listening to I might add. I truly believe more than ever that all people matter and so do the details of their journey here on Earth. Not everyone has the time, or clout, or lyrical acumen to turn their story into a song that everyone will fall in love with. But, having said that, what song would be playing in the background of your life right now if you had a one-hit wonder circulating?

I’m not suggesting that this would be my song. I haven’t thought that hard about my own question so don’t hold me to this curation from 1989. I will say though that the lyrics impressed me this morning when I IMAGINED my own soul singing to my own physical frame. I know, that sounds weird. I am the first to say these days that I AM a little bit weird in the way that I think. I assure you though that the way I think is less “weird” and more deep and many layered. I find myself able to be moved by so much of life’s offerings now that I have my life back. Having lived a journey of disconnect from my core and all the needs down in there, that act alone landed me in treatment for an eating disorder and with a starved mind giving way to a mental disorder. Re-establishing order to both my life and my mind is a battle not easily fought and one that, so far, I’ve been unable to do alone. It’s fascinating really. We can systematically dismantle our entire life all by ourselves brick by brick. But, I firmly believe that when we need a period of repair we simply cannot go that road alone and it does zero good to start throwing stones at those helping you with your rubble. The only thing that keeps you from that futile exhaustion is self reflection and acceptance met with COPIOUS amounts of surrender. Those values have become my greatest ally. So, here we are. Here I am. I’m using song lyrics from the 80’s to coach myself into acceptance for today. I’m not sorry about that. I’m embracing that this morning. And, I am also speaking to you about it. I’m not speaking to you because a whole lot of people are listening. I speak and write because others on my journey choose not to or can’t put that deeper layered level of living into words. I can. So, I do…. for my own self and also for the one who may need to feel not so very alone. I follow my stats from time to time. I average 4 readers. I am okay with this and because of the way I log in to read my own writing, scanning for dumb errors and mispronunciations, I am counted in the actual tally of readers. How’s that for humbling and also being my own supporter?! I don’t care about my rating right now as much as I care about hearing myself, watching the repair of my crumbled life and the one or two or perhaps three passers by that may benefit from my own thoughts along this journey. Period.

What’s my point here? My point is simple. Do you hear yourself? If there was a compilation of catchy lyrics met with the symphony of instruments and purity of voices in harmony singing the song of your story what would it sound like? Would it be pleasant? Would it be up beat? Would it be melancholic? Would it be from the gut or would it just be for the people so it too would get all the ratings and be radio ready? Who are you playing for? Can your physical frame, your daily grind meet the demand of the song you’re putting out there? Or are you ignoring your soul’s depth in order to play something more appealing to the public? I assure you that “way” will prove beneficial, but it’s not sustainable. It’s deceiving really. Our gifts, talents, capabilities, skill sets, etc. …. these DO carry us. But they are a reflection of us. The clearest picture of who we are is not seen in what we produce, but in what we have to say about ourselves from the inside. It’s the same for this song. Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt are singing for someone else’s story or for what they can do, but didn’t actually write.

Are you?

It’s a slippery slope this one fantastic life of ours. We can put a song out there into the world that is the reflection of what we want others to hear or see based on our capabilities and performance. Or … we can write our own music, sing that, maybe NOT hit a chart or two, but be living out loud the reality of who we are on the inside. We have a choice in that. That choice requires vulnerability and self reflection. We have time for that, but we have to make and take the time we have for that based on today’s pace and do that in order to represent ourselves uniquely. So many of us go about our days singing the song that others want to hear. Mainstream music is an industry that, and thank God, a place has been given to Singer Songwriters, who know intimately and painfully the difference between singing capably the song others want you to and bearing their own soul’s words and sound which may or may not get picked up by the people in charge.

I’m not saying much here, but rather posing a question. Does the life you lead right now sing itself in harmony with the peace you’ve found with yourself on the inside? Or are you too singing a tune that you think others want to hear more and you’re driven by that expectation, but it isn’t entirely a reflection of you? Just give that a moment of thought, a snippet of time to reflect on. You have time today. Maybe not much, but you are indeed worthy of your time.

I believe in us.

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

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.