Don’t be fancy. Just be.

Don’t be fancy, just be!

I am seeing endless posts from sweet parents who are trying to do everything they can to keep their young children stimulated. Pinterest is full of ideas but also full of ways to make a parent feel like they just are not enough.

Let me tell you, you are more than enough for your babies. You don’t need to look up a bazillion ideas that involve tons of work.

Make Playdoh, make a bakery out of mud pies and get the earth squished between your fingers and toes, have a water fight or a pillow fight or a tickle fight, read a book and snuggle, cook together, fill the sink with soapy suds and spray dishes with Catsup so your kids can clean them off,, Go for a scavenger hunt or just go for a walk, blow bubbles,, paint with shaving cream….so much to do!

Breathe and enjoy them. Pretty soon they will be 15 and 18 and you are going to be tickled every time they choose to engage!

You are sufficient, you are more than enough. Find your inner child and play. The messier, the better!

Real Life

My heart hurts this morning. I’m scared and I feel lonely. I could keep quiet and not share this, yet I feel nudged to do otherwise.

I know truth versus my feelings.

I’m not alone. I have a God who is already in my tomorrow and faith does reign over my fear.

I long for something relationally different, yet I am never alone. My God has never and will never forsake me.

Keeping my vulnerability under wraps is me believing the lies. It is me not honoring who I am to save another’s discomfort. It is me not being me.

I do live in gratitude and seek a path of surrender and trust.

Still, I am afraid of unknowns. Sometimes my most honest prayer is a “Lord, please help me with my unbelief.” I know you are there but I’m often not sure that our definitions of “okay” match. I need help trusting that your “okay” is far better.

I lived through a corrective heart surgery at 9 months of age that was a glorious medical miracle. My childhood was shaped by my Grandmas mental illness. There was a stroke that I “shouldn’t have survived”. A divorce that left me reeling. Daddy’s battle with Alzheimer’s. So much more.

I am here.

For whatever reason, I am here.

I am deeply compassionate toward those suffering with mental illness as a result of those childhood years.

The love of and for my family (immediate and extended) is abundant, genuine and solid.

My friends are a balm to my heart. They surround me with accountability, support, love, laughter and insight. They are my framily.

That stroke taught me lessons that nothing else could; it gave me a whole new lens to see with.

That divorce. It sucked. From those married years I have the best two children; glorious beyond anything I ever prayed for. Perfectly imperfect yet perfect for me. An ex-spouse who is my best friend and a growing up me.

Alzheimer’s. I learned to truly find joy in the journey. Daddy and I. Healing, laughter, tears and so much love. Precious memories made all while the memory thief was hard at work. Irony at its best.

Grief taught me…everyone’s path is experienced differently. For me, guttural crying and rolling around on the floor until your bones ache was part of the path. No need to be sorry. It’s my path to travel.

….although your heart physically aches and hope might seem beyond reach, the sun will rise again, one day. In the meantime, let it rain as long as you need rain.

…your experience is normal for You. If and when a plethora of people are feeling concerned, take heed, don’t be afraid to seek help. Medication, counseling, church….find your support and dive into it free from shame.

Always lessons learned. Gratitude sought. Love expressed. Faith over fear reached for.

Here I remain, human as human can be.

In this moment God, I am lonely. My heart hurts. I am afraid. Help me be a light and glorify your heart in the middle of my fear and solitude. Help me love you deeper. Help me strengthen my faith. And please hold me tight. I know there are gifts in this part of the journey too.

May we all seek and savor them.

Be blessed loves.

In gratitude

Tonight I shall lay my head on my pillow and say my prayers.

I will express my gratitude because today, I lived. I might’ve lived messily. My feelings may have been all over the place and it was a little icky…but I lived.

Today, I told many people that I loved them (and meant it); and I was loved by many (albeit through texting, phone calls, face time and all that stuff).

Today was quieter with work; still, I worked from home with Seniors who are so scared. I drank lots of coffee and took in lots of emotions.

Tonight, I enjoyed a little red wine, ate chips and guacamole for dinner, continued to pack boxes and talked to dear friends. I laughed and I cried.

I went through ALL of J and S’s baby clothes and I reminisced. I am certain I can still smell their little baby selves and feel how they molded into my arms and against my chest. I prepared their clothes to be passed on to great nieces, great nephews and sweet young friends.

I got dumped by the guy I was seeing. By text. Ouch, I thought he was different. Better luck next time and best wishes to him. I thought about how much this Coronavirus has me longing for what I’m missing.

And then…I got a sweet text from my daughter. I recalled that my precious son came to visit today. I revisited all of the love that IS in my life. I gave thanks for the wisdom my dear friends and family share with me so generously. I looked at my fur babies and I reminded myself that feeling lonely is not the same as being alone.

So when I lay my head on the pillow tonight, it shall be in gratitude that I am here and that you are here. That we had another day. I will talk with God and ask him for peace and understanding and for health and wellness for His people. I will ask Him to be with the families of those who are not here, whether due to stupid coronavirus or something else. Most of all, I will ask him to help me to continue to walk in love, even when and especially when it’s hard.

Sweet dreams my loves.

Live Well

Honestly, the coronavirus makes me a little bit nervous. A wee bit for myself but mostly for other people.

That big ole stroke in 2009 threw it in my face; Life is fragile and life is fleeting.

I manage what I am able as healthily as I can. The truth is and always has been, I am not in control of the number of breaths I am gifted with. Nobody is. We can manage ourselves but we ultimately do not decide when our last breath will be.

I spent plenty of time this week reflecting and struggling with underlying anxiety. There’s always that part of me that is like, “what would my kids do without me? “. Mom worry. On top of that, people that I love dearly are hurting, and I can’t fix it. I’ve had to take a break from seeing my clients in group settings in the name of healthy social distancing. I think…a lot. Too much. All of these things are tough.

The gift…there’s always a gift amidst the chaos…I have time to revisit what it means to me to surrender to the God who cares for us all and to trust that no matter what, in the end, everything is going to be OK.

The reminder… I have this moment to celebrate life, because every breath is a celebration. Live it and live it well.

❤️happy Friday loves!

HEALTHY = HEAL + THY + ?

Beware the label

I’ve talked about this before, I think it’s significant enough to reiterate.

STOP using ‘buzzwords’ to label someone else’s mental health in order to suit your personal agenda. STOP doing this in order to paint someone else in a negative light so that others can see them the way you want them to. STOP believing that if you have googled and read a couple of articles, that you are a diagnostician armed with all the knowledge you need.

Perhaps you were married to a REAL narcissist. You know first hand that this is a very different picture of someone who has a few narcissistic tendencies (we all do). Perhaps you were raised by someone with BPD (I was). This is not the same as being raised by someone who is occasionally prone to being selfish. Perhaps your child has a substance abuse disorder. You know the pain firsthand. Still, be cautious of the natural human tendency to believe everyone else’s experience is the same as or even similar to your own.

If you have lived and loved someone who struggles with mental illness, you know the power of labels. If you are the person who has experienced a mental health struggle, you know how it feels to have a label define you. Stereotypes stink.

If you haven’t walked in either of those shoes, there but for the grace of God go you. Be cognizant and kind for Heaven’s sake. There are strong consequences attached to doing anything else.

Finally, if you are in the mental health profession, STOP using buzzwords to support all that you are projecting from your own experiences. DO NO HARM stands whether your opinion and education are strong or not. Your feelings are not necessarily fact. Being in the field does not designate you as an unblemished judge of character; and friends…we are ALL blemished. Also, if you are in the mental health field, hold yourself to a higher standard, please. You represent a field people are already cautious of yet are greatly needed. Be trustworthy. Character assassination based on opinion or for any other reason is usually pretty unethical.. Utilizing tools that your education and experience has offered you to ruin somebody was never part of the deal when you became a mental health professional; if it was, you might have some work to do

I watched a real narcissist in action recently and my stomach hurt. My stomach hurt for the narcissist because I believe there is a big ole unhealed wound inside of them that never healed and likely never will (not like a narcissist to come to the point that they believe they need help…it’s part of the disorder). My stomach hurt for that person’s children and for the person they were once married to. This was real and consequences on all sides are traumatic.

Use your brain before you decide to act and especially before you attack.

Ch ch ch changes

Well, well, well….it’s a high probability that the offer on my home and my momma’s property will be closing on Friday.

I’m focusing on not getting stuck in the ‘what if’s’, the ‘should’ve, would’ve, could’ves” and the regrets.

I am ALL of the feels. I have lived here for the majority of my 47 years. This place is and will always be, ‘the farm’, to my family and I. This is hard. My heart feels torn in a million directions.

Meanwhile, I’m studying for the two tests I must take and pass to be under LPC candidacy supervision and then likely I will have more changes coming.

My kiddos are going through their own stuff and I want to be the best Momma I can be for them.

I feel afraid, I feel like I want to lapse into a state of frozen or helpless, both of which are NOT who I am.

Change is hard, right? It’s an inevitable part of life and I am trying my damndest to embrace it with joy and a sense of adventure while not denying the hurt of it all and the loss of certain dreams.

This morning the verse that I have kept in my heart since 2012 has continued to resonate loudly in my spirit. “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

I have a big ole habit of trusting the process and of trusting God in hindsight. Now it’s time to let go and trust with the everythings. Outta my hands.

Best Day Ever

I took a stroll down Memory Lane today. I was feeling incredibly teary as I begin to reminisce over all the changes. I felt especially sad that my children were not home to play in the snow with.

I put my boots on, layered my clothes and headed outside, intending to build a snowman.

As I sat back and admired my work, a sense of accomplishment overcame me. Gosh darn it. Countless positive changes have occurred in my life as a result of s*#t storms. I’ve grown immensely. Bonus…I’m having fun doing it.

Yesterday completed 100 days of exercise. I’m so proud…even if it took 169 days to get there! I graduated with an MA in counseling psychology with a 3.8 grade point. I have an amazing family and the best friends. I am learning that I am more capable, strong and powerful than ever I had believed. And I’m just getting started.

I laid in the cold snow and made snow angels until my booty was frozen. I built my snowman. I walked a mile through the slushy streets. I giggled at Maple’s frolicking. Simply enjoying this soulful aliveness.

Today is a wonderous, beautiful chance to live. Every moment is a chance for a new beginning.

Life. A gift.

Each breath. A gift.

Thank God.

#snowangels

#Snowdog

#clearhead

#peacefulheart

#feelthefeelsevenwhenitshard



To be Continued

The cohort gathered to the side, waiting for their turn to receive their diploma and thrilled to be in this moment together.  There was safety in this group, they each had grown leaps and bounds. Hearts were filled with adoration for each other, while tummies fluttered with anticipatory butterflies.  There was an aura of disbelief that they had actually made it through grad school and to this point.

Her name was called.  Feeling strong and proud, she went up the steps, handed her name card to one of the faculty and quietly pronounced her last name.  The nod came and she moved across the stage; pausing to have her hood placed by a professor that she deeply admired.  The next stop was the university’s President.  Her beaming smile was ready for their photo as they shook hands and looked into the camera.

Among the graduation attendees were members of her precious family.  The first face she saw walking out into the chairs was that of her beautiful mother.  She located both of her treasured children, her big brother and one of her beloved nieces.  She felt incredibly loved! Her heart was bursting with joy and gratitude that she was really here.

This was graduation.  It would go down as one of the best days of her life.  That evening, there was a celebratory dinner, tears, toasts, laughter and love.  So much love. Friends and family surrounding her, filling her cup to the brim and overflowing.  Her heart was bursting with gratitude and joy.  She breathed it all in; still slightly in disbelief that this was real.

She knows herself intimately; yet she senses there is so much more to know.  She is an onion, peeling back a layer at a time.  This higher education is the first dream she has pursued and seen to the finish line; she stepped into this with full faith and trust that it was exactly where she was supposed to be and all the details would fall into place.

She thinks back to an intensive emotional camp that she and her ex-husband took their two teenagers this last summer, in hopes of bringing healing to the wounds they had caused each other.  During that camp; there was an indoor ropes course.  She was paired with her beautiful 14 year old daughter, a reflection of her soul.  Here is what happened, as told by, ‘her’.

“I was terrified, not of the heights, but that I wouldn’t be able to balance.”  (She had struggled some with balance issues since the stroke many years ago.  In truth, she struggled with looking or feeling ‘broken’ more than she struggled with balance).

“I asked the person assisting us with the ropes course to please check that I was tightly fastened in, several times.” “They assured me of my safety, reminding me that the ladder could move anywhere and give me an out anytime I needed it.”  “I heard ‘C’mon Mom, you’ve got this, you can do this.’ Stella had already crossed the four wide swinging logs and made it to the next platform.  I looked at her sweet face and thought to myself, “I cannot disappoint her, again.”

“I held so tightly to the ropes that my fingertips could’ve become engrained in them.” ‘One…two…three…four steps and I made it.”  Stella was right there telling me what a good job I did.  I watched her cross onto the next platform by crawling through two swinging tunnels.  It looked easy enough.

Pfft.  Stella’s 14 year old lithe self is alot smaller than my 47 year old cushy self. ” In order to cross from one tunnel into the next, I had to squat inside the first one, step onto a square platform in a squat and drop into the next tunnel.”  “This is when my anxiety really started; I could feel my throat clenching as I reminded myself to breathe.  My arms ached from the death grip I had on the ropes.” “Still, always my cheerleader, Stella continued to cheer me on.”  “I stood up on the next platform, legs and arms shaking. ”  I saw the rows of skinny logs that were swinging and began to talk myself into a frenzy.”  “Stella was on the other side and right after this was the zipline, which I desperately wanted to do.”  “I wanted nothing more than to show my daughter that we were in this together, I trusted her, I would do this.”

“My fear gave way and on the next to the last swinging log, I began to sob.  Loud.” “I asked Stella to get a worker to help me.” “She didn’t want to, she told me I was almost there, but I was hearing nothing louder than my fear and doubt.”

“The kind eyed, young girl came to help me.  She assured me she could get the ladder but told me that I only had one step left and I would be safe on the steady platform.” “She held out her hand and I took it and stepped across.”  “I made it!  Disbelief in my success, again.”

“I apologized profusely to Stella.  I felt ashamed of my emotional, loud fear and tears that everyone could see.”  “I don’t know what Stella saw, she hugged me and I hope, even if she was embarrassed, she was proud of me.”

So…okay…”she” is “me”.  This is my own story to own.  Here’s the thing I learned from that ropes course.  It was an exact mirror to my life.  There are numerous things that have been important to me.  I get right on the edge of success and I quit.  I stop.  I freeze.  Why?  Maybe because I don’t know what’s on the other side.  The devil we know is better than the one we don’t know, right?  All too often, I yield to my own fear rather than ask for a little help.  I had no idea that a ropes course would offer me such deep insight to my life.

One week post graduation…

I’m going through all of the graduation cards and gifts I recieved last week and soaking in all of the gratitude.

It’s not about the sentiments and gifts, though I am deeply thankful for them. They are the cherry on top of the sundae. No way, in all of ever, would I have graduated without the constant love, prayers, support, encouragement, and appropriate ass kickings when I needed them.

For so many reasons, I never thought I’d be ‘here’. My brother knows me well. On my card, he wrote, “What’s next? No reason to stop now.” Because it’s what I’ve done so many times…I stop right before I succeed. (see ropes course example)

I realize that the last week I have been a little frozen, a lot sad and slightly discouraged. What is next? I DON’T KNOW! I like to know, you know?

Last night I had a dream. It pinged me so hard that I woke to write it in my journal so I wouldn’t forget it.

The sage and kind therapist my ex-husband and I saw for three years, Missy, was in my dream. I was in her office, telling her of all my woes. Before I left, she told me she had a gift for me.

She reached up on her tippy toes and pulled a small item out from the back of a cabinet. She held her hand out and in it was a key. She asked me what this key represented to me. Odd question, I thought…even for a dream. Yet, I knew. Missy gave me one of her famously warm, reassuring hugs that let me know life would be okay. Better than okay. I thanked her and left her office.

I took a black sharpie, and on the key, I wrote, “OWNERSHIP.” I can’t stop reflecting this morning as I feel joy and pride swelling up inside my heart. This is my life. I must live it and I must live it well.

This journey has just begun. I have the key to open the doors.

I HAVE THE KEY.

 

P.S. Stella and I rode together to my graduation.

During the drive, in Stella fashion; “I want to tell you something mom but you can’t get all cheezy.

Me: “Sure love, what’s up?”

Stella: “I am so, so proud of you.”  (Immediately followed by a hand and, “That’s it!  Don’t get cheezy.”

That is more than enough.

Cha-Ching

Those credit cards that are offered with no interest for a year…then if you don’t pay, the interest has accrued the entire time and CHA-CHING….everything is due.  #life

All the emotions, desires, regrets, grief and stuff that I have managed to keep nicely boxed seems to be screaming….”BALANCE PAST DUE!”

In honor of this reconciliation; Spotify gifts me with ” my most loved songs of 2019″. Songs of life, love and love lost permeate the air.

I dream up all the things that life is not but ‘should be’ and try to fit those things nicely with the reality life is offering. My thoughts are intertwined with a hurting heart and I’m desperately fighting to simply ‘sit with “It”; “It” being the unpleasantness.

The wind is strong, the night is dark.  I imagine the leaves dancing and fluttering their way to new locations; far from the safety of the now barren trees they once were attached to.

If the leaves could talk, I feel we would have much in common.  I, too, am fluttering about; unsure of where I will land next.

I see that someone else is living in the life that was once mine.  I want to latch onto the notion that this is not how things ‘should’ be.  I want to take back what is ‘mine’.  That thought makes me laugh.  It also makes me cry.  I own nothing and nothing is mine.

I am.  That is sufficient.

The home I have known my entire 47 years is for sale.  My heart is broken yet I know these  broken pieces still make a whole and my home is truly where my heart is.

My oldest kiddo is driving.  My youngest kiddo just got rid of her braces. I got a “new to me” car.

I have completed a Master’s program and am simultaneously thrilled and terrified.  I followed through with a really hard task, and I struggle to not allow the worry of the unknowns steal the joy of now.

Three years later, it has dawned on me that it’s perfectly good and okay to move on from the marriage I once had.  I just have to figure out how.  I want my own version of a fairy tale.  Before that, I have to surrender my all to the God I (kind of) trust.

Stretching.  Trusting.  (Trying hard).

A fluttering, sputtering leaf who desperately wants to safely land.

Please God, just let me land.