Saturday, 4 December 2010

Thoughts on looking like you don't give a $@&%!

This week I keep going back to a post I read from one of my friends on FaceBook.  It went something like this:
Overheard at bookstore from 2 ladies in front of me: is she really that at peace with the world, or is it that she just doesn't give a f@#k?

My first thought was how lucky that person was that the women were talking about because she must really have the whole "zen" thing down.

My second thought was, Ladies, just because she doesn't lower herself to standing around gossiping about other folks doesn't necessarily mean she's totally at peace with the world.

Throughout the years I have had clients repeatedly tell me- I want to be like you . . . you are so relaxed and calm all the time.

Inside I would laugh hysterically as I would tell them: rest assured, I don't always feel that way.  But let me tell you I ALWAYS took that as a compliment.

Stress is inevitable.

Inner angst is inevitable.

Life-dung is inevitable.

Trust me I could write a book on my past year and would be arrested by the truth-in-writing-police if I referenced Zen in any of the pages.  BUT that hasn't stopped me from centering myself every day and getting in touch with Spirit and grounding myself to this earth our souls are now walking.

Who is it you want to be?  

Do you want to be the one talking maliciously about others in the bookstore or the one that appears at peace because you consciously walk a path guided by attempting to do the right thing for yourselves and with those you are in contact?

Strive to be that person that looks like they don't give a f@$k!  It is far better than looking like the jealous, malicious gossipy child.

Be the Peace you want to see!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Mayhem & Magic

11/13/2010 notice the bird perched- did not move
There has been so much magic in the past month that has been zooming by; I am in awe.

There has also been tragedy and pain around our lives which I suppose is necessary to keep universal and personal energy in balance, but the lessons can be so difficult for us as individuals and as communities.

I am reminded about my amazing life changing seminar this summer at Omega Institute with Lama Willa Miller (I highly recommend her book Everyday Dharma) when at just the perfect time in my life, and amongst a week of sitting in meditation, she taught us a technique that was so helpful in dealing with difficult times- Deep Acceptance.

As we began all meditations we focus on the three arrivals: our body, our breath, and our mind.  With all of these steps you sit for a while in contemplation before moving on.

  • Bear witness to what is bothering us or making us uncomfortable; acknowledge the feelings
  • Relax around the difficulty~ letting an energetic shift happen by letting the anxiety go around it.
  • ACCEPT~ this is the way it is and it is okay or it is what it is
  • Identify~ understand that we are not alone, many are feeling the same way and suffering the same pain.  Send love, care and compassion out to those people
  • Release~ let go of the story and relax in that spacious place.  We are not ignoring the story or the feeling, just accepting that it is a reality in our lives

This leads me to my second life changing Omega Institute visit where I was attending a phenomenal seminar called Soul Survival presented by Raymond Moody, MD, Brian Weiss, MD, John Holland and Joan Borysenko.

Not only did I get some amazing interaction from beyond in my seminar with John Holland, it was just wonder-full to hear validation of experiences patients have been reporting to me for years and also the life-giving messages of these amazing souls.

Magic brought me there.

When we were in San Diego in September staying at a small bed and breakfast, energy pulled an amazing woman to me: Beth Lawrence.  We were drawn together, ended up having dinner together and when I asked her about Omega (because she lives in Connecticut) she told me of her presenting there many times with her best friend, Joan Borysenko and had I heard of her or her other friend Carol Myss or Brian Weiss.  We had an amazing dinner experience out with Beth, I experienced one of her wonderful treatments in her B&B room and we remained in touch and planned to meet at Omega; my supportive, loving soul mate gifted me with this trip as an early holiday gift.

Little did I know that one of my long time "heroines" author SARK- Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy would be there teaching a seminar (I've always wanted to attend one of hers) and I would happen upon her in the cell phone signal space at Omega (there is virtually no signal there)- here is our meeting where I accosted her with big hello and hug:

Later that night we hung out on the porch of the book store.  My roommate had turned 50 and didn't have a SARK book so I bought her Wild Succulent Woman and Susan was reading a poem about her father to this man that she thought needed to hear it.  The man was "ho hum" about it while I was soaking that poem in recalling my father and recalling when I had first read that poem myself.  

I was able to attend a 90 minute session with her earlier in the evening and heard about her new book: Glad No Matter What: Transforming Loss and Change into Gift and Opportunity .  I highly recommend this book.  I read it on my way home from Omega and found it to be just what I needed at the time and for many of you out there trying to make sense of tragedy: please order it.

Recent Magic-

  • We just returned from London where, with HeartMath CEO Bruce Cryer, Stephen and I presented at the Royal Society of Medicine.  Beautiful experience.  We stayed in a darling hotel called The Gore.  This magically came about when Bruce asked us about presenting and my husband, who has to put his vacation in a year in advance, just happened to have that week off.  What are the chances?  So Atticus and we were also able to spend time with Stephen's family.
  • I am excitedly still working on my novel and rounding the final curve.  (SARK offered to read it on it's completion.  WOW!)
  • Being in the right place at the right time to be able to take a beautiful oceanside trainride to Dr. Phil (during the same trip I met Beth Lawrence) to see the amazing Jill Egizzi speak out regarding Parental Alienation.
  • My 22 year old daughter has invited me to attend her Feminist Theory class tomorrow.  (sweet)
  • We have college kids from afar gathering with us for a pre-Thanksgiving feast on Sunday.
  • Atticus is READING!  He's in heaven.
  • I attended my 31st class reunion and had an absolute blast with old friends that are like family because we were raised together in our small school community.
  • All the afore mentioned serendipity involved in meeting lovely gifted people.
  • We were greeted by this on our return Monday:

Obviously I could go on with the Magic in my life, which is what I am consciously and internally doing to not have to focus on the Mayhem which is always going to be there as well.

My wish for you is that you are managing that balancing act as I know that many of you are suffering from a recent tragic loss in our children's small school community and I know my children and friends and previous colleagues are affected deeply.  Life wouldn't be life without Mayhem, but when our children are affected . . . there is no greater pain.

Love and peace and joy to you all.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Don't Let the Miserable People Get You Down: helpful hints

Today I was awakened to a reminder of just how wonder-full life is . . . unfortunately it came at the expense of being reminded of someone else's misery.

Here is a friendly reminder of a few pointers to help you deal with difficult people you run into in your life; we all have them.

For some people their difficulty is pathological: such an inbred trait that they are beyond recognizing how difficult they are or having any ability to change.

For others it is a conscious choice~ they delight in the game of trying to see others become as miserable as themselves and will go to no end to perpetuate drama and exhibit control.

Rule number 1:  Don't let that person succeed in making you miserable.  Keep your focus.  Keep your sanity.  Keep your eye on the greater good.

Other reminders follow:

  • Always remember "it is not about you."  Miserable people are miserable whether they are attempting to cause drama in your life or not.  It really has nothing to do with you.

  • Do not stoop to a difficult person's level.  Trust me, I know how tempting it is to try to reason or make a point but remind yourself that if a person is pathologically difficult they will never hear you and will only enjoy attempting to draw out drama.

  • Adjust your expectations to NEVER expect a rational response from the difficult person.  Consider that the person has severe issues, mental illness or a disability just as if they were in a wheel chair and unable to walk, but in their case it is their brain and personality and ability to relate to others in a reasonable manner that is disabled.

  • Limit your involvement with a difficult person.  When you burn your hand on the iron, do you walk back and say, hmmmm, that hurt, I'd like to do that again?  (if so there are other issues and that's another column!)

  • If there are children involved remember you can only control yourself and make it a priority to Keep. Kids. First.   . . .  and say a little prayer or send positive energy to them for the times they have to deal with the difficult person.

  • And never forget what a wonderful gift inner peace and living in harmony with others is and surround yourself with positive people and enjoy every minute possible!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Keep. Kids. First.

Here is a very brief list of questions for divorced parents to keep yourself in check and to Keep. Kids. First.

1.  Do you include the other parent in parent-teacher conferences, evaluations, MD visits and share communication regarding ongoing issues at school?

2.  Do you offer to discuss what is going on in the child's life/lives on a regular basis?

3.  Do you hold yourself to the same standard you would the other parent?  i.e. adhering to the Joint Parent Agreement; following through with recommendations such as evaluations for the children; refraining from talking negative about the other parent, etc.

4. Are you able to put your own anger and your own emotional issues aside and focus on what is best for the children?

5. Are you able to Keep.  Kids.  First.?

Email us at if you are a parent of divorce or were a child of divorce to answer a few short questions that will help us in our forthcoming book to help future parents of divorce to Keep.  Kids.  First.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Absence of Guilt- J Michael Bone, PhD

Watch this short video to hear of a very sad but very true phenomenon that can happen with Parental Alienation and Parental Alienation Syndrome.

I've seen this happen personally in a situation with people very, very dear to me and I've seen it in my professional life as a post-judgment custody mediator and psychotherapist.

It is this type of extreme we'd like to help parents avoid by learning from your stories-- the good, the bad and the otherwise. If you would answer a few questions from the perspective of a parent who has divorced or if you were a child of divorce, please drop us a line at and put DIVORCE in the subject area.

Keep. Kids. First.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Dr. Phil & Pay it Forward

This is a follow-up from another post on a site where I had appealed for feedback if you had children and experienced divorce or were a child of divorce to help Jill and I on a project we have started:

Just a follow-up to the latest announcement I made on my last post where I had to be discreet pre Dr. Phil.  My co-author of the book project we are working on to help children with divorce appeared as an expert on Dr. Phil which was taped last week when I happened to be in California so I was able to go to the taping.  She's a victim of parental alienation, as is someone extremely close to me (and many people I have worked with during my long career in human services),  as well as president of an association to increase awareness and improve legislation re. parental alienation-- Parental Alienation and Hostile Aggressive Parenting Awareness Organization.

Jill did a great job as an expert on the show and Dr. Phil did a respectable job telling these parents the straight scoop regarding putting their children's needs first.  Unfortunately after contacting 170 people Jill could NOT get 2 parents that are truly experiencing Parental Alienation Syndrome to come in and 5 court injunctions were place preventing the non-alienating parent from ever speaking to media at all.  Obviously that goes with the narcissistic personalities that find themselves entitled enough to consistently be so "right" that they can actually alienate their child from a loving parent that they were once in love enough with to spawn these pawns in their sad, sordid games.

Once again we want to hear stories from all sides so if you are willing to answer 3 quick questions (4 if you happen to also be a child of divorce) email us at

And please pay it forward. Share our request to others you know that have gone through divorce to help the children.

Keep.  Children.  First. 

Monday, 6 September 2010

I Love Gay

This morning I woke up thinking: I love Gay.  Mind you, I haven't always loved Gay, but that was only because I was young and ignorant and didn't know Gay.  I brought my children up to respect diversity and so they are lovers of Gay as well.  It was a bit disconcerting when my oldest went through a period of calling things "so gay" and it didn't always mean a good thing; of course I took the bait and admonished her with heartfelt lectures.  Soon after I heard a gay friend calling something "so gay," I decided to ignore my daughter's slips and sure enough, that "faze" passed quickly; she is the first to stand up for discrimination.  But why do I love Gay so, you may ask?  Gay to me means freedom and creativity and love and pride and strength and individuality.  Think about it. There are still a lot of closeted people out there and once a person has the balls to step forward and say, "hey, I'm gay," what else have they got to lose?  So out comes, not only their ability to live their sexuality, but their bravery, their passion about life, their ability to perform or create art, their hidden passions, their love and yes, their despise for seeing the oppressed further discriminated against, compassion, their connection to a divine that accepts them as they are, and FUN that can only come with not being constrained by societal norms and "shoulds." After all, if you've had to hold in a secret that you thought would cause you to lose your peace of mind, or maybe even your life if it came out, and you let it out, and survivewhat have you got to lose?  I love when coming out opens up the doors to let people be everything so many self-restricted Straights wish they could let themselves be: writers, performing artists, sports enthusiasts, lovers of life, simply themselves, real and true.  We can all learn from that bravery and the human potential that comes from being honest with ourselves and others. Right on Gay (GLBT).  I love you!

Friday, 3 September 2010

End of Summer

photo by Sebastian Jennison

      Leaves begin to curl as if a lit match has gently graced their edges.  
      Squirrels prance in waning grass with finds as large as their heads, weighing their bodies down as they scamper up the trees.  
      A redbird flirts with me just outside my window hinting at the change he feels in the air.  
      A hawk with a wingspan the size of my six year old dives in the yard; he is surely looking for the chipmunks that have scurried with abandon the past few days beginning their storage for upcoming seasons.
      Once dignified annuals and perennials droop to bid a fond adieu while pleading for their lives, “get yourself organized-quick-and find a place for me indoors,” they seem to be telling me (that is not likely I sadly think to them).  
      The sun shines bright and steams my skin while simultaneously a slight chill in the breeze whispers of fall's impending arrival.  
      Eyes itch, mucus drips, colds arrive heralding that the healing sun is deciding a respite is needed as plants are releasing their death-dander.  
      Children sense the difference in the atmosphere and incessantly inquire, “when will it be snowing?” “what is the next season?” “how much longer can we swim in the lake?” I want to say forever
      I want to live where death does not come seasonly and our world does not freeze over.  
     Then I am reminded, if not for death, how would we learn the blessed lesson of rebirth?

Friday, 20 August 2010

my contribution to the closing circle for our Everyday Dharma course at Omega Institute

I was asked to share this and am happy to put it on here so that I can easily remind myself of the gifts I received . . .

With gratitude for~

  • kindred souls in this grace-filled spaced connected by a web of compassion and seeking

  • the knowledge that you will all be in my hearts as I practice

  • the natural beauty surrounding us in this space~ the sounds of the families of frogs and birds, the slither of snakes and salamanders, the sway of goldfish, trickling of water and the gentle rain that came down on us

  • the practice: sitting, walking, sitting again, deep acceptance, honoring our benefactors . . .

  • learning to better BE and who I am when I am not the worker-bee, parent-bee, partner-bee and being so blessed to have these daily sessions in which to just BE

  • the divine spirit of our gifted teacher that entered my life just when needed and teaches with such profound ability to simplify the concepts that appear complicated, reassure the confused, explain details and guide practice so as to make it come with ease~ but most of all teaches with her actions, her words, her humor and her gentle nature.  I am healthier and happier for having her in my life these five days

  • the Divine bringing me here and knowing that this is the time in my life for me to learn and experience these lessons and a retreat such as this was so helpful in allowing me to let it happen

  • finding joy in the midst of suffering

  • letting me find the prayer: may my family and all families of the world experience profound healing and come to know joy and compassion in the midst of suffering

I highly recommend my teacher's book~ Everyday Dharma~ which can be purchased HERE

World Humanitarian Day 2010

Sunday, 15 August 2010

A Week of Magic

We have just returned from a place and a time where magic happens, the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York for what they call "Family Week."

I'd like to share a few of the dot points of what was magical for me on this five night, four and a half day retreat and I'll make a separate blog post with what I shared in gratitude at the closing circle of our "Everyday Dharma" course I was in with Lama Willa Miller because I think it explains my personal reaction best.  I could write a book about this experience so my intention will be to continue to blog occasionally about how I am incorporating some of the lessons I worked with during this week of practice.

  • If felt like magic walking into this space and these people because it was so similar to a family camp experience that my older children were able to experience for many years- Lake Geneva Summer Assembly- and in so many ways it instantaneously felt like familiar and like I was coming home.
understanding it will be wholesome local, homegrown vegan and vegetarian food all week

  • Instead of any jealousy or envy, when I was explaining the comparison of both spaces to my 19 year old, he could only express delight that his younger siblings were getting this type of experience.  And now he wants to work Omega during his summer break next year.
Fode- phenomenal drummer from West Africa

  • There is a Springfield person, Rhiannon, actually working at Omega now- we had interfaced at a women's conference previously . . .  It was great to see her in this environment

we ran into each other on the garden path the first day . . . serendipity

  • At the end of the first day, all of our children asked if they could come back every year and make this a ritual in their lives.
First night heading to supper: sense their fear of the new environment?  Not!

  • The amazing teacher that allowed our class, which came from a variety of religious traditions or no religious tradition, to learn how to incorporate this profound practice into our everyday life and into any religious or spiritual practice was magical in her gifted ability to gently guide and teach our group.
My teacher Lama Willa Miller 

  • For me after years of studying mindfulness, meditating, and attempting to practice compassion it was the perfect environment and teaching at the perfect time in my life for very many profound reasons-- and it all came together in a magical way.

Baz's photography class got us during a walking meditation- me on the left

  • The space that allows the children and teens to bond with others and have enriching learning experiences and wild adventures while their parents are doing the same (and can relax with the knowledge that their children are being well taken care of) is almost other-wordly and such a gift for parents AND their kids.

Insect house building

Magnificent storyteller Regina Carpenter

Wayfinders Rocked!

  • All three got to be "the daring young kids on the flying trapeze."  Hard to believe, but think about it-- facing your fear, being in the moment, experiencing exhilaration: priceless.

Freya and Peter Gold

  • At the closing ceremony a very sweet woman sat by me and we talked about our children and experience and she mentioned she had taught a workshop last year.  She was called up as part of the ceremony to lead us in a chant that incorporated chants from a variety of traditions starting with om mani padme hum, a Tibetan chant of compassion, (the bracelet I wear to remind myself to be compassionate) and ended with Gloria from the Christian tradition--eventually all being sung in unison.  Her voice was beautiful and the sound of the melding of a room full of voices resonating was a magical experience.  The night before I had watched as her youngest beautiful daughter had ended her performance with her class on African drumming & dance and came off the stage and fell into the embrace of her older teenaged sister who expressed her pride and sat and cradled her younger sister like a baby.  I was move to tears and wished I had taken a picture and was happy to hear when her mom and I spoke of this that she had captured this on camera and she expressed gratitude that I was able to experience that moment as well- duly noting that, of course, that wasn't always the dynamic between her daughters at home. Incidentally, this beautiful mother-singing-chanting-spirit was the actress Maggie Wheeler from Friends (she played Chandler's girlfriend Janice) among many other credits, and yes, in real life she has a spirited giggle and a glow of joy.  I just checked out her website and encourage you to do the same.  I can only imagine that her workshops would be transformative.  I'm glad my son captured the chant on tape so I can go back to that and be in that moment again and again.
    Maggie Wheeler leading chant- Atticus and Freya on right from their performance
    • Elizabeth Lesser who is cofounder of Omega and dreamed Family Week 25 years ago is a best selling author and several of my classmates insisted I get her book Broken Open and read it as they had the opportunity to hear her do a reading from it; with the three children I was not able to attend.  She was the touchpoint of the week and she has a newer book out as well and I can't wait to read them both.  You can find them HERE.   Blessings to her for having the dream of Omega Family Week.

    Elizabeth Lesser

    Goodbye OMEGA-- we hope to carry you with us in our heart and see you again next year!  Thank you.

    Sebastian 13, Atticus 6, Freya 10 and me at the Sanctuary

    Sunday, 18 July 2010

    Old Mother is Exhausted or Ode to my Six Year Old or No More Real Parties or Birth Control, Why NOT?

    It has been the newly six year old's birthday since Thursday.  
    The REAL birthday had to be made special so we did the Chuck E. Cheese lunch with his adult age siblings, he went to an afternoon Toy Story 3 showing with his brother, consumed his favorite supper, blew out trick candles on his cake and opened presents. All this between piano lessons, swimming lessons and getting his brother and sister to their activities.

    Mom: exhausted.
    I am blessed: Friday I did get a massage, but also had MD appointments.  Whatever way you look at it, there was some respite. 
    Today was the real party.  His first, that he has been begging for since his 5th birthday when he realized he'd been duped by the fact we invited some family friends over at the last minute.  "That wasn't a real party," I heard the next day. (wow, he's smart for a five year old, I thought)
    Today's party was at a pool he'd chosen because of the cool slides.  We invited children I didn't know from the school he just started.  It felt like 100 degrees by 9:00 a.m.   As I walk in, the lead-pool-teenager-guy says our check, that was sent three days ago as instructed, has not arrived.  Oh, yeah, we didn't tell you the right place to send it to, you actually sent it here?  
    The lifeguards snarled at me.  None of the staff could muster a smile or a pleasantry. Meanwhile, I, alone, am making trip after trip prying drinks, plates, cups and treats from my Mini Cooper to set up for the party; husband and kids to be arriving in van a bit later.  
    The cupcake cake that looked so amazingly cake-like had become disjointed on the ride from the grocer.  The fifteen dollar ballon I bought in a rush, flew off because it wasn't weighted well enough.  Insult to injury?  Only I could hear it shrieking out the happy birthday song, as it made its escape, hence the price, and NO I didn't realize it cost that much until checkout, already running 10 minutes late.
    Many of the party goers get there before I have anything laid out or the birthday boy has arrived.  
    One kid has to be life-saved by the snarliest of the life guards.  No worries, the kid was fine, just panicked; the dad was sure the fact a bird had just pooped on his own head would totally distract the little guy from his misery and fear.  The lifeguard needed to get off her snarly arse anyway.
    Husband left event to go save lives (hey! what about mine) leaving me to field the present opening fiasco, treat the party-goers, pack and clean up, and lead relatives back to our home and then go out and buy KFC (when have I ever?) and lay out a spread and finally relax with my 87 year old Mommy and my daughter and my nieces and sister-in-law to get the woman to woman support that can be like medicine (all the while our smaller ones are running around fueled by sugar).

    Mom: exhausted.
    I didn't want to ruin his birthday buzz, but I had to sew my mouth shut not to say,hope you enjoyed this because it's the last "real" party you'll be getting in my life time (which at this rate may not be too long to wait).
    The little guy is a delight and typically I do not feel like an old parent, but days like these with the running and chaos and frenetic energy permeating our lives?  I have to face it: I'm old to have a six year old. 
    Did I mention that yesterday I ran into the doctor who wouldn't let me go on birth control pills because I was too old, while other friends in their 40's were on them?  I had to switch from her, due to good ole managed care, before she knew I was pregnant.  Why, oh why, didn't I think to invite her to today's blessed event?  
    It may have helped her with her future judgment: women in 40's, hmmm, birth control or sipping tequila out of their coffee mug-- which is healthier?  (which of course I would NEVER do, but I'm sure many before me have)

    Friday, 2 July 2010

    The Time is Write

    I'm writing and I love it.

    For the first time in years I'm writing fiction and I'm on a roll.  I can't get enough of it.

    Have you ever had the experience of being so wrapped up in a creative process that it gives you a sense of euphoria; a very legal high?  You lose time when you are engaged In the creative behavior.   There are no rights or wrongs for it is your very own process, but there is the excitement of seeing what the piece will look like when it is is fully born.

    I took creative writing classes in college, one was to meet my English general study requirements. My professor encouraged me to continue writing and recommended another writing class. The next professor simply gave me one instruction: you must write.

    I had loved to write since childhood; it was a coping mechanism and creative outlet. I knew I would always write but could not convince myself that continuing to study writing would put me on a solid career path. I was in the situation of being 100% responsible for putting myself through college and supporting myself financially.

    The choice to not follow the advice of these professors is one of the few regrets I have although I do firmly abide by the mantra "everything happens for a reason in that particular season." (yep, I just made the season part up but I think it is befitting)

    Throughout the years I played with some fiction and poetry. I journaled ad nauseam.  I didn't submit work except one nonfiction piece which struck the editor's interest.  I worked with the editor for a while before deciding to put the article on hold because the content was personal and far too raw for me at the time; I was losing my objectivity. She encouraged me to get back in contact and life got away from me.  I am not proud of this.

    I wrote a series of articles for the Illinois Times because I knew that Springfield, Illinois had its share of alternative/ integrative/holistic practitioners but there was no since of connectivity or real understanding of them in our conservative Midwestern capital.

    Always intrigued with personal stories and how people make the choices that lead them on their path, I took the spin of filling the readers in in some of those life details. So for $25 per story I learned the lesson of the deadline and how difficult it must be for free-lancers to make a living, all the while meeting some pretty cool folks and making one life-long friend and in turn being reunited with his wife, whom I had no idea he was married to and hadn't seen in almost 20 years (that is a story in itself) and finding my acupuncturist and meeting the amazing woman who would later become my Reiki teacher.  The outcomes that spawned from writing these articles, I believe, is an example that everything happens for a reason.

    I have written guest pieces for local publications and blogs and was a regular on a web site with a wide readership. Part of my day-job-work involves writing narratives based on interviews I conduct with individuals nearing the end of life, naturally deadlines are implicit in that work. I also try to write periodically on this blog and our MOMSthatROCK! blog. I've a non-fiction project about parenting post-divorce also in the works and more where that came from.

    But now? As I try to mindfully navigate this 50th year of my life and pull an Erma Bombeck, "I should have done more of this and less of that with my life . . ., " I'm giving my love and desire for writing the respect it deserves and focusing on writing for myself for a change.

    Dammit, I'm seeing this fiction project to fruition if for nothing else then to know that I have done it.

    For myself.

    If I could count how many projects that I let school or work or parenting or drama interfere with throughout my life I know I'd be amazed . . . and then embarrassed. And thus far into this fiction piece I've observed the dynamic that was responsible for thwarting many previous attempts as I let myself get distracted by thinking I'm being selfish by taking this time to write something that is bringing me such pleasure.

    My message? Think about those creative outlets you've put on hold, always falling to the bottom of your list of things to do because you have difficulty seeing the concrete value in it.

    Pay yourself first.

    Just as we preach to get that exercise in for our health and eat a healthy diet and take care of everyone around us, don't forget that creativity feeds the soul. You will be amazed at how much easier it becomes to not sweat the little stuff when your mind and energy are being creatively fed.

    Stop being the passenger and be the driver in this thing called life.

    Reconnect with your passion and act on it.

    At 49, I've decided to grow up. I will no longer accept excuses- not a house full of kids and a six year old and a husband who saves lives at crazy hours and work and all those things and people and dramas that rear up and say ME NOW.

    Right now my answer is NO!



    No regrets.

    Wednesday, 9 June 2010

    Pay Yourself First

    I am still basking in the glow.

    As many of us do, I fantasized and hope and wished for summer to arrive during those bitter months of this past winter and, as most of us, I have been blown away by the fact that summer is already here.  After just a few weeks of multiple children ending college, high school, middle school and elementary school on varying dates and juggling summer activities I'm embarrassed to say that the respite I experienced this past weekend was already much needed.

    I had the good fortune to attend a weekend retreat with a group of similar minded women.  This group holds several retreats a year and I am a fixture at the fall retreat but had never attended this annual "spring"retreat and I was so pleasantly surprised.  The theme was SPA for your soul (Spiritual Path Awakening) all the while true SPA activities were mingled in, to the degree that skipping workshops and taking naps were highly encouraged if that was what you needed to do.

    There were several beautiful threads throughout this weekend.  One of my favorites was that the facilitators had lovely voices and interwove the most sweet and beautiful interactive chants throughout our days and evenings.

    It was a small group of about 25 women and the ages varied from women in their 30's to women in their 80's.  I adore being around older "enlightened" women and perceive it as a workshop by association regarding how to age with spunk, grace, wisdom and spirit intact.

    I could connect with nature. The grounds were close to a river and held a stream, suspension bridge, wooded hiking trial, labyrinth and pond.

    The facilitators did a fine job of fostering a true intimacy in this group environment while we all had the ability to keep our boundaries just where we needed them.

    And our keynote, Teri Freesmeyer, did an absolutely amazing job of facilitating our connection with the divine that each and every one of us possess within ourselves.

    And the best part?  This past weekend just enhanced the practice I try to live on a daily basis and I have been empowered and refueled to trust my intuition and connect with the Divine (for me that is within and out of myself and I respect that for everyone it may be different) for guidance.  Yes, coming home to comings and goings of 8 kids on Sunday and every day since bringing surprises I have moments of feeling like, wow, am I stressing here?  But I easily switch gears and get in touch with the only thing I can control: myself.

    So my message for the beginning of this lovely, warm, fun, active but sometimes chaotic time of the year?

    Pay yourself first. The laundry can wait 5 minutes, set that appointment 15 minutes later and use that time for you, put YOURSELF in your day planner to meditate or read or take a walk or just breathe.

    Nurture yourself.

    Try to keep yourself out of the center of inevitable drama that an active summer can bring.

    Expect the unexpected: schedules will change, there may be a night no one sits down to that wonderful dinner you planned but don't let it ruin your evening-- light a candle, put on some music and enjoy it.

    "It is what it is."  Sometimes we spend so much time trying to make our version of a Rockwell scene that we make ourselves and everyone around us miserable.  My husband and I are the masters of this with our blended family of 9.  We appreciate who is with us and the family unit that it looks like each and every day; and quite honestly, in the summer that might change every single day.

    Check in with your spirit and nourish it:  do something that makes you lose time, take moments of solitude to deep breathe and reconnect with your inner voice and stop and listen to that inner voice.

    Reconnect with yourself.

    Reconnect with the earth: go outside, take walks, feel your bare feet on the ground, listen to the birds, watch the animals.  Stop.  Listen. Repeat.

    If nothing else take 10 minutes a day for yourself to do something nourishing and healthy that feeds your spirit.

    Pay yourself first.

    Monday, 17 May 2010

    Time and Relationships

    Time has flown by.

    Life has been busy.

    Some things have had to go lower on the priority list and writing here has been one of them.

    While I am amazed that even my 5 year old has the perspective of "time flying" there is no doubt that adults I know feel the same.

    As a child I recall that a year seemed to drag on and on and on.  Was it because there weren't so many activities, that I experienced more boredom than my children have experienced, or that many times my home environment held an element of fear that could make hours feel like days?

    I'm not sure the reason, but I do know that, currently, it seems a universal (or at least American) concept that time moves quickly.  With that sense of time rushing by, it becomes more and more difficult for us to prioritize our tasks and relationships.

    Of late I'm drawn to think of time and space in terms of relationships in our life: relationships with our children, our extended family, our dear friends and our distant friends.  I ponder, what are the essential ingredients of a friendship or meaningful relationship?  Do we base it on the amount of face to face time together or do we evaluate it by the amount of quality interactions we have or the love and care we send out to those individuals?

    I'm not sure that there is anything more relevant than having adult aged children to help me answer that question for myself.  Last June, my then 21 year old daughter spent a month volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya.  She helped me negotiate the terrain of ordering a phone card over the internet so that I could call and text her while not draining my bank account.  What ensued was a month of the most genuine consistent interaction we had ever experienced while being a world apart and her being in the midst of a poverty stricken third world country.  The superfluous complaints or anxieties of our day to day lives seemed trivial with that distance between us and we genuinely discussed what was going on in our lives and provided each other with loving support.  It was really beautiful.

    I'm very proud of the adult children that have moved on from our nest; we now have 4 young adults, one that just graduated college and will be starting her life in a big city.  It's interesting to see their priorities regarding their relationships with their family when the only pressure they have is self imposed and how they juggle their connections with myriad friends and family members.

    We all make choices about who gets this precious time of ours during these days that fly by.  While folks are more virtually connected, the face to face connection has become even less of a necessity to maintain meaningful relationships.

    So the secret to maintaining a meaningful relationship?  You can't look it up.  It can't be defined.  That definition will vary from person to person and family to family.  But one sure ingredient?  Connection.  And for meaningful connection to happen there must be more than one person making the effort.

    Today I am reminded that we all must slow down as time rushes past us and take a moment to connect with those we cherish.  The mundane tasks of our day to day living must not trump our relationships.  Work will be there, the garbage and laundry and yard and activities will be a constant.

    Meaningful relationships are not a given in our lives, they are a choice; they must be nurtured so they do not fade away.

    Sunday, 31 January 2010

    This is a friendly public service announcement

    photo by Keegan Otwell 1/27/10

    You know those times you have thoughts like, hmmmm, I really should reach out to that person, but you are too shy or insecure to take that first step?

    Or a thought comes to your mind about a direction you should pursue-- and it's a strong thought-- but you dismiss it?

    Clearly, I could fill a page with examples such as this, but I think you get the picture and I'll wager that you have had many, many of those thoughts in the past . . . and you've ignored them much of the time.

    What about the times you are thinking of someone and the phone rings and it is them?  Or good ole "de ja vu:" you absolutely feel that you have previously experienced a moment that you are currently experiencing.  Or a conversation comes up about some obscure issue that you were thinking about earlier.  Again, I know you have all had those experiences.

    I've had challenges going on in my life recently and I've been in touch with a few folks that have kindly reminded me that when any of the afore mentioned type of messages arise: STOP.  Respect those feelings,  inner nudges, intuition.

    Consider the fact that those instances are not coincidences or fleeting whimsy and that you are getting a message from a deeper knowledge and that it is time to listen to that voice.

    Many people will debate where that knowledge may be coming from . . . is it our own inner voice and knowledge that for a slight moment escapes the usual internal chaos?  Is it God, or Spirit, or the Divine Oneness (or whatever you may call a power higher than yourself)?  Is it your guides?  Is it universal vibration that we all have access to but most frequently ignore?

    Personally, I'm not so worried about labeling where that knowledge comes from, but  I am very interested in working at listening and respecting those messages I receive.

    And that, my friends, is today's public service announcement.  Tune into yourself and tune into the world around you . . . and yes, it's okay to listen to the voices.

    Thursday, 7 January 2010

    Out with the funky old and in with the bright, shiny new . . . we can only hope

    What long, strange year 2009 was.  Correction.  The year actually flew by and since it was so strange that was one of the few blessings.

    I can't recall a year that saw so much unexpected loss of life-- and premature at that.  Many close to me had losses that touched them deeply and I was also touched by them; some very deeply.  It seemed that many folks had similar experiences.  It was as if a morbid cloud hung low over 2009 and occasionally swept down and took a special (young) person "home."  The cloud did miss one young local man by a hair and witnessing that miracle was one of the high points of 2009, while the weeks he hung by a thread were some of the lowest of the low for his family and those close to them.

    No more of that in 2010 please. Thank you very much.

    Personally I had a bizarre year.  I started off with my broken rib saga which I shared here.  Then my sprained ankle that thwarted this year's half marathon attempt.  I recall that I avoided reporting that here because it gets a little old writing about your clumsiness and I bet reading repeated clumsiness sagas would get old as well.  Suffice it to say that folks were correct that told me it would take as long for my ankle to heal as it did when I broke it.  I got back to run/walking on it within a few months but I have yet to have a day where I don't still feel it.  I also was diagnosed with a significant long term illness; 'nuff said, but it has thrown me and my family for a loop and changed the way I live my life and I am waiting, sometimes less than patiently, for energy to return, pain to leave and to get my "spark" back.

    No more of that in 2010 please.  Thank you very much.

    Our nine children are alive and well and for the most part happy and any year we can say that deserves a happy dance.  Especially on the heels of seeing up close and personal just how fragile life is.  For this we are grateful and we would like for this trend to continue in 2010.

    There were some wonderful adventures and travel in 2009 which is our medicine; if my husband does not get respite and replenish and refuel, away from the computer and phones, he cannot continue to be the mindful healer that he is and we hope for that to continue in 2010.  We love to travel.  We are not ones to go to resorts or extravagant destinations.  We enjoy embedding ourselves in new cultures and traveling the backroads and try to leave positive energy with those we meet along the way.

    2009 taught me a lesson regarding New Year's Resolutions.  It taught me that there is a much bigger picture than losing 5 pounds or exercising at least 15 minutes a day.  It taught me to be careful what you say you are going to commit to hourly or daily or monthly because you may just get taught a reverse lesson: that you are really not in control of the show called your life and it's more important to work on ways to to handle the detours and roadblocks and curveballs than it is try to control minutiae.

    So this year I have a few broader guidelines for 2010:

    • practice mindfulness . . . staying in the moment as much as possible 
    • keep a regular meditation practice
    • take time for my health and wellness-- without guilt
    • make peace with less than perfect health, yet strive to be as healthy as possible
    • practice my art and craft for MYSELF

    My writing here took the backseat to projects I have going and I hope to stay in touch with myself (and you) a little more on this blog in 2010.  

    Happy New Year to all of you and I hope 2010 brings you the happiest life lessons possible.