“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.

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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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.

The Mystery of Pain

We will do just about anything to avoid pain. But, pain is a component of life that is simply unavoidable. No mystery there. The mystery lies in the travel time through it all and the resilience its journey produces.

I think of the book I’ve read to my children a thousand times or more “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt”. There’s a line that reads in repetition every time they come to an impasse: “We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ve got to go through it…” We never truly know when we’ll find ourselves on the other side of pain. It’s a thing we must travel all the way through. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts.

To this day, I have not wrapped my head around why God allows so many painful experiences in people’s lives. I’m literally dumbfounded by what certain people have encountered and come out the other side of still standing upright in their spirit. The human resilience is staggering.

But, why? Why does God allow such torrential downpours in our lives? Like my six-year-old says, “Can’t we all just live in candy world”? I don’t have even the slightest answer for “Why”, but I do know this….

The pain I’ve experienced in my life has produced in me a river of empathy and compassion for others. It has wrought in me a hushed, quieted, slowed down surrender to the busy bee cadence of my life. It has provided me with eyes to see more clearly, ears to hear more acutely, and hands that give more readily. It has helped me to feel joy more fully on a deeper level than I knew was available. It has mysteriously let me learn that, in hindsight, we are strong, and able, and capable to weather any storm. It has taught me that I’m NOT better off alone – we need others. And when others show up for us, and lift us, and hold us, and care for us… there is beauty in the exchange. The kind of beauty that defies logic and lasts forever in our memories.

Pain is teacher, a mentor, a wise guide into the finer things of life. It hurts like Hell sometimes, but as Mark Nepo writes, “We must accept we are there and settle enough so we can be carried by the deep. Again and again, the onset of pain makes us clutch and sink. But, life has taught me that how we first open after doubling over is crucial to whether we will heal at all.”

Pain is a mystery. It’s an entirely un-welcomed teacher that crushes us, but strangely does not leave us in pieces. It always, always, always partners with healing and time and those two somehow, some way co-mingle with one another and produces a mending.

One of my favorite scriptures from Psalm 107 reads, “He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed and He carried me to my desired haven.”

Wherever you are today – be carried by the deep. Be lifted by those around you. Be hushed by the knowing that time and healing will mend you.

God will not abandon you. He just won’t. Ever. He will carry you – today – and all the way through to your desired haven.

I believe in us.

 

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

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

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

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

He redeems EVERYTHING.

It’s all gonna be okay. All of it.

I believe in us.

The Magic of Healing

Sometimes pain lives like a virus in your system. You cannot rush a healing any more than you can rush the run of a virus. It just has to take its course and partner with time to find its resolve.

There are certain things in this life that effect us at different levels. They hold on to our memory banks like an encoded java script that takes some serious technological advance to decipher. I just want to give you permission today from one human to another to still hurt. Just because we are grown adults doesn’t mean that we’ve worked our way through it all by now.

I watch America’s Got Talent with my kids. It’s a thing. Our thing. I used to hate the show because I couldn’t stand to watch half the acts like knives being inserted apparently as deep as a hip socket or someone falling to their death only stopping inches from plunder. It’d ridiculous to me how people even discover talents like these. I mean – who thinks of sticking a knife down their throat and getting shot at with a flaming arrow narrowly missing all vital organs as it hits some teeny tiny baby target? It’s short of crazy.

Where’s my correlation? America has certainly got talent. Act after act people stuff amazing, harrowing events into a three-minute span that’s riddled with magic and illusion as they bear the brunt of what appears to be deeply painful tricks to the naked eye. Pain, healing and overcoming in real life is the exact opposite of what we see on the screen. There is no way to take magic and illusion and cover the events that our life has held. Furthermore, there is rarely a round of applause as we come up standing on the other side. I think humans are incredibly resilient. This show certainly proves that. However, when it comes to real life pain sometimes it runs as deep as our hips and it needs far more than three minutes to recover and find equilibrium.

I sat in therapy yesterday divulging intricate details about the origin and the presence an eating disorder has held in my life. I was left with shock and awe as some of the events of my life bubbled up with tears and a heaviness and straight up pain attached. There were things that I thought I’d dealt with only to find them surface with a fever, evidence of a virus still working its way through my system. I came home last night and cried a hundred more tears because I want to be “over it all” by now, but my heart was telling me otherwise. There is still work to be done. There is still time needed for the virus to run its course and find its healing. Just because I’m the ripe age of forty now doesn’t mean I’ve arrived at a place of wholeness and healing.

All that said, sometimes we have to take inventory of where our heart is at in all reality. Sometimes we have to honor our pain, acknowledge it, let it bubble up with tears and emotions and give it space to work its way out. Just because the things of the past still hurt doesn’t mean you are broken. It means you are alive. Just because you still have tears and anguish doesn’t mean you aren’t every bit amazing from head to toe. It means you are REAL.

I do believe in magic. But I also believe in reality. Where is your heart today? Be gentle with yourself. Your reality is worth honoring and taking a concentrated look at. I also believe that we do deserve a standing ovation as we come up, out, over and through our stories with resilience. I am cheering for you today. Truly. I believe in us.

 

Things That Cut Deep

“Often we find it easier to think our way around things rather than to feel our way through them” – Mark Nepo, The Book Of Awakening

A great set of knives is a girls best friend in the kitchen. Unless that knife becomes your assailant. Recently I cut my finger. I was chopping vegetables while chatting and laughing with a friend and got myself caught off guard. I cut it bad. Bad enough to need stitches. To my surprise the seething pain of the initial cut hurt LESS than the anesthetic the fine doctor injected in order to sew my finger back together. It was not pleasant. But, it was an interesting learning experience….

Sometimes life is a little like that. We apply a numbing mechanism to our deep cuts. We note the injury, but get about the business of anesthetizing the pain with all sorts of things. Enter: Coping mechanisms. In reality, all the while, the numbing is actually a greater pain inflicted than the cut itself and the overall process to heal.

I’ve had some deep cuts in my life. Far greater than the cut on my finger while making a salad. Cuts that have run deep into my soul. Cuts that have hit me at my core and were hard to put a finger on much less wrap a set of tender loving arms around. I know now, as an adult, that I dealt with some of those cuts in a way that only served me greater pain down the road. I’ve battled an eating disorder for almost thirty years now. It hasn’t been easy, or pretty, or uplifting or mending to say the least. I wouldn’t say that the presence of my eating disorder is solely tied to the avoidance of my wounds, but it has definitely been a coping mechanism that made me feel in control of … something. Chiefly the way I felt about myself. I thought that if I could control what others saw then I would somehow feel good about who I was. The work of feeling good about who I was always had more to do with what was happening on the inside than the reflection I projected on the outside. I know that now.

We’ve all had moments where life cut us deeply. Deep enough to need a mending. But, often we avoid the injury and dance around it a bit rather than just making our way through the pain and the process required that leads to the healing. Some of us have significant wounds. Some of us have tucked those away in a corridor of our mind that requires minimal occupancy. Dare I suggest that we visit some of those areas and take the chance to “feel our way through” to a healing? I think that fear rises up in us when we contemplate the necessary steps toward healing. We fear the emotional undertow. We fear that sense of brokenness. We fear needing time. Time we’re not sure is available to us. We fear the unknown. We fear that something is inherently wrong with us when things that occurred decades ago still have pain associated with them.

Pain is a funny thing. It can be like a slow babbling brook or like Niagara Falls depending on the injury. But, it makes no sense to take either flow of water and dam it up. Let it be what it is. Pain is just pain and it indicates that you are human and alive and breathing. Let your mending come. Let the healing have its way. Ask yourself what you need in order to visit that corridor of pain. The anesthesia will always be worse than the cut itself and the mending that awaits you.

I believe in us and the power to heal.

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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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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The Comeback Kid

My 6 year old hollered confidently to his soccer team “Don’t worry guys we’re gonna make a comeback”. They were down by more than a few points. I sat listening to him say it repeatedly. He continued as he grabbed his coach and said, “My team needs me to get in there and score”. I laughed wildly with pride.

Why am I posting such vulnerable things lately and showing you what’s behind my curtain? Because of the same sentiment that my son carried at his soccer game….

Sometimes we need someone who believes in us. We need someone who is willing to admit the status of where they’re at and maybe…. just maybe convince someone that they can win at this life thing too. Not everyone lives out loud or certainly heals out loud. I tell you this though- WHATEVER your struggle is, whatever is behind your closed curtain- can stay there. I’m just saying, these days, from one teammate to another, “don’t worry guys, we’re gonna make a comeback!” We are going to get through whatever the thing is. You have it in you. I have it in me. It’s gonna take some work. Seriously flipping hard work. I’m healing out loud. You heal at whatever decibel you want. But, there’s one girl right here that believes in you today. I’m serious. You can conquer that thing because you are AMAZING and capable and strong and beautiful and worthy of the change you so desperately desire. We will build and mend and grow and alter the climate of our society. We will throw out the pervasive negative background chatter that runs through our minds. We will insert a life giving narrative that supports the core values of who we are.

My son won his soccer game that day. He scored three goals. They made a comeback. And so will we. I believe in us.