Wednesday, September 7, 2011


When I think back to my 13-year-old self, I had DREAMS. The world was so full of possibility and I believed that whatever I could imagine I could live. Sometime between my freshman year of high school and now, I lost that belief in my vision. The details of how don’t really matter, but as I traveled the road of my life the DREAMS became dreams and then they became memories and somewhere along the way my focus became just getting through my day. It wasn’t pretty.

I didn’t give up. I didn’t quit trying. It’s more like I just lost my 13-year-old self knowledge of who I was a what I wanted. I bogged myself down with what I thought others expected of me. I had in my mind the picture of the perfect daughter/wife/mother/employee and strove daily to be that instead of just being myself. I’ve spent years trying to put together the puzzle of my life with pieces that have no business even being in the puzzle and have been frustrated beyond belief that no matter how hard I worked I just couldn’t see the picture. The puzzle just wouldn’t come together.

"Sometimes the way back up is down." -Jack Donaghy

So, I just let go. I decided to let the puzzle work itself out. This wasn’t really a conscious decision as much as it was just me being at a total and complete loss as to how to make my life work. I just decided to be open to the possibility that it could work itself out.

It’s not easy. I’m still not sure where I’ll end up. For someone who has been as hands on as I am with my life it feels uncomfortable. But I have let go.

This video from Oprah really inspires me. I’ve watched it a dozen times and will watch it at least a dozen more. I heard her tell this story on her show and am glad she took the time to tell it again.

To be honest, I find myself caring less and less about the end goal and what other people think about me, and that’s been really o.k. I have things I have to do every day and I get them done, but I’m also leaving room in my day to focus on what excites me.

Two interesting things are happening. The first is that as I become more engaged and more excited about the projects I’m taking on pieces of the puzzle are just coming together and people and information and opportunities are just kind of showing up on my doorstep. The second thing I’m finding is that these new obsessions are directly linked to my childhood and have been areas of interest throughout my life. The things I’m falling into now are the exact same things that excited me at 10 at 12 at 16 at 28 at 42. The passion has always been there. I just wasn’t paying attention.

I don’t know how all this will work out and for the first time in my life that’s ok. I’m going to be obsessed with my obsessions. I’m going to work hard everyday. But most important I’m going to let go of my goals and expectations and just be in a space where what needs to happen can happen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ten Crazy Days

My goal was to write a blog post a week and sadly I’m woefully behind. I’ve sat down many times since my last post and composed pages, but it doesn’t flow. I’ve culled through my notes looking for something I can use and nothing feels right. It just hasn’t worked.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now. Everything is shifting. I'm at a point where I just don't know what to do next. I have really struggled, and I have felt alone.

In the past ten days I’ve had a string of interactions that have literally changed who I am. It’s been a series of the exact right person showing up at the exact right time and saying the exact right thing.

It all started with R, who lovingly shared his struggles over the past two years with me and willingly listened to mine. He told me that the biggest lesson he’s learned through all the trials he has been put through is that he has to surrender. To him surrendering means getting out of the way and letting what needs to happen happen. I’ve been learning to let go, but R showed me that surrendering is my next step.

Immediately after talking to R, I ran into my dear friend S. She’s on this amazing journey and I’m so happy for all that she’s been able to accomplish and so excited to see how things will progress for her. It was a series of unfortunate events that put her firmly on the path she’s on and she couldn’t be happier or more successful. She’s inspired me with her honesty and openness and tenacity in the face of adversity. I was so glad to talk to her.

I had lunch with E. We’ve known each other for sixteen years. As we talked, I realized how lucky I am to have her in my life. It is a friendship that easily could have not happened, but has grown in spite of the fact that throughout a majority of it we have not even lived in the same state. She’s intelligent and loving and always has an insight that I hadn’t considered. This lunch was no different and I came away thinking about things from a different perspective.

I went to Nashville to spend the weekend with D, one of my very best friends. We talked and ate and just relaxed together. We had so many amazing conversations that I can’t even begin to document them. Being able to bask in the friendship and love of someone as honest and insightful as she is was a blessing and exactly what I needed.

My friend P is the gift that just keeps on giving. She’s been a source of inspiration to me as she seeks a more authentic life and openly shares her successes and failures. While I don’t aspire to all that she does, I’m inspired by her willingness to forge into uncharted territory over and over again. She shares a lot of herself and has opened me up to new ways of approaching my life. A recent conversation with her introduced me to a person I needed to meet.

Which leads to B, who took one look at me, said you are not doing what you are suppose to be doing, and emphatically encouraged me to be true to myself. I can’t overstate the impact of this conversation. As I sledge through my days, doing all the mundane things that I do, it is easy for me to forget I was once a girl who dreamed. To have someone acknowledge that I am more than the maid/cook/chauffeur and to encourage me to step out was powerful.

J reminded me that he is available and will help me. He’s an old friend and knowing he’s there gives me a level of comfort that I can’t even begin to describe. To be able to rely on him in the future means a lot to me.

K dropped by just to tell me she loves me and is proud of me. She said we are a lot a like and since I just adore her, that is one of the best compliments she could give me.

Unprompted, N, who is blissfully happy and enjoys success in her career, shared her life story as we stood in the street under the hot afternoon sun. She described her former self as hard, scared, and unhappy. She relayed to me the series of life changing events that led her to do work that is fulfilling and meaningful.

Then there is C, who has been the face of grace and kindness and reason. I’ve been beyond impressed by his example and am humbled by his promise of continued friendship.

There were emails. D, who I bump into a few times a year, emailed me out of the blue and just told me about some of the traits that he saw in me that he admires. Who does this? Who just sends someone an email, unprompted and tells you that you are awesome. I was humbled. The next day, C sent me a lovely email about my daughter who he had recently run into and shared how impressed he was with the way she conducted herself. While he gave kudos to me, I have to say she's amazing in spite of me. I appreciated him taking the time.

J sent a text. He and I don’t talk much but I admire him. He’s a loving and supportive influence in my family. We all adore him. He just made a simple acknowledgement and it was appreciated.

S gave me a gift and invited me to share in a family celebration. Neither gesture was expensive or grand but to be thought of and included means a lot to me right now. Over the years, our common interests keep pulling us together. I hope she sticks around.

Yesterday, I spoke to C. When I started hanging out with C, I had no voice but I had an opportunity to be around him just about every week and I listened. He rambles. He shares. It’s not really planned. It’s just whatever he happens to be focused on at the time. I can’t even begin to count the number of ah-ha moments he’s inspired in me.

I won’t be seeing C for awhile but I wanted him to know the impact his musings have had on me. He told me that he just tries to be honest even when it’s unflattering and that he believes he should share what he’s learned with those with whom he comes into contact. He said you never know how your words will impact others, but it’s important to be open and say what is on your heart. He told me that I have to do the same and then he hugged me and in that one hug I felt the love and strength and comfort of everyone who has blessed my life these past ten crazy days.

I’m not sure what will happen next but I am changed. I’m changed by the knowledge that there are people out there who are willing to reach out with love in friendship and support. To each of you, my eternal gratitude and my undying love.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Heart's Desire

The kids go back to school tomorrow and it’s feeling kind of bittersweet. We did a lot, but SO much is left undone. In May, I made lists and looked for fun things to occupy our time and now in August with the last hours of summer break slipping away, I realize that we didn’t even scratch the surface. The best part of this summer was the unstructured time and just hanging with the kids. We lazed, a lot. I think we all needed it. Sometimes not having to be on a schedule is a gift.

There will be no more sleeping in until 7:00. I’ll be up at 5:30. No more morning drop-offs and pick-ups for cross country practice or taking kids to meet friends at all times. I’ll own the hours from 6:30 until 2:30.

While I’ll miss seeing them during the day, I’m a bit excited by the idea of 8 uninterrupted hours. I’m a morning person and having a block like this when I’m most productive is a bit of a gift. I don’t want to squander it. I’m making plans.

I have a basic idea of how I’ll structure my time. I just need to make a decision on what I'll focus my energy. I’ve spent most of my life looking for the things that will make me feel satisfied and despite all the effort satiation hasn’t occurred. I’ve been a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz looking outside of myself for a place where there isn’t any trouble.

“Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
A way above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me”

I know...wishful thinking, but that’s been the dream and I’ve spent many years trying to find the right combination of “things” to push all the troubles away. If I give my family my undivided attention, find the right job, have the right career, weigh the correct amount, run a certain time, cook the most nutritious meal, wear the right shoes, buy the softest duvet, be the best daughter, then and only then will I feel that sense of balance and satisfaction that I crave.

Looking outside myself hasn’t worked.

At the end of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy who has helped her friends realize their dreams is left stranded in Oz by the Wizard who had promised to take her home. In desperation, Dorothy asks Glinda for help.

Like Dorothy there’s no person or thing that can help me find “my hearts desire.” I have to find it for myself. Maybe I should use some of those 8 uninterrupted hours to hang out in “my own backyard” and get to know my own heart a bit better. It couldn’t hurt. I have the power. I just need to make the commitment and take the time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Holding On Too Long

“We are all looking for well-being and happiness in life. So the purpose of friendship is to support and be supported in our search for well-being and happiness.” - Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel

I’m good at getting rid of the things I no longer need. I’ve made a recent push to to de-clutter my physical space even more and have hauled out bags and boxes in the effort. But as I’ve freed up my home (oh, it feels good), I became acutely aware that my bigger issue is letting go of people.

So, when do you let go? At what point do you accept that a person just is what he or she is and being around them is not good for you? Not questions I’m good at answering. I could take the noble stance and say that it is my great love and dedication and hope for better that keeps me in the mix long after most people would leave. But if I am being honest, I have to say it’s my need to be liked, included, valued, and respected that causes me to hold on to people a bit too long.

The best case scenario would be to not get involved with people who don't "support...[my] search for well-being and happiness” in the first place. Easier said than done. I’m pretty straight-forward about who I am and how I feel. Even when I’ve voiced my stance up front, I have been blind sided by dynamics that I couldn’t have seen coming and stayed in relationships that I would never wish on anyone else.

It would be nice to come up with a list of questions (I like lists) to help evaluate people so you could choose the best fits (a positive proposition for all parties). As I pondered what these questions might be, I realized that frequently a person's true nature is hidden until you are already heavily invested. People who initially appeared to be great options turn out to be poor choices while people that failed to impress on the first pass end up being keepers and are among some of my closest, most loved, and trusted friends.

Maya Angelou says, “when people tell you who they are, listen.” For me, I think this is key. If I go through my life with walls up and guarded, I will miss potentially amazing people. What I have to do is watch and listen carefully and when the bad starts to out weigh the good, when the negative overshadows the positive, when situations are draining, be strong enough to let go and move on.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letting Go

I don’t give up easy. I will admit that I hold on to people, situations, and dreams a little too long. I value what I have in my life and when it starts to go well, wrong, I’m inclined to look for solutions. Even when it is no longer loving, supportive, or healthy, I’ll roll up my sleeves and try to make it work. I’m that kind of girl. I have to be FORCED to let go.

The up side is that I sometimes do make it work and there is a thrill to knowing you faced down great odds and turned a dire situation into something positive and successful. The downside is that this success often (at least for me) comes with a huge personal price tag draining me and taking resources that would have better applied elsewhere. And if I’m not able to work it out? Well, the loss when you’ve given so much energy to something is devastating.

So, that’s my issue. At what point do I just need to let go?

I watched this video by Julie Morgenstern a few weeks back and it made me cry happy/sad tears. Sad tears because I realized how much my holding on had robbed me of time that could have been so much better spent on not only things that are essential to my soul’s health and well being, but also of time that could have been better spent loving and caring for my husband and children. Happy tears because it made me realize that maybe there is hope for me yet.

So my total focus these past few weeks has been letting go. Right now I’m letting go of the physical stuff. I’m not a pack rat, but I’m combing each room and really questioning the value of every single book, pillow, shoe, and paper. I’m throwing the trash in the can where it belongs and donating the unused and no longer loved.

My hope for myself is that as I move forward I’ll be able to let go of the other stuff too: the heartbreak, the disappointment, the unhealthy, the unproductive, and the just no longer necessary. And maybe, if I’m really lucky, I’ll be better able to recognize a little sooner when it’s time to just let go.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One Bite at a Time

Every time I feel the anxiety welling up inside me as I contemplate all I want and need to do, I remind myself that to eat an elephant you must do it one bite at a time. This thought helps, for a moment.

I quit a job I loved over a year ago, so that I could create the life I wanted. I've done a lot this past year. I've made some changes, had some success, and suffered more disappointment and heart ache then I cared to suffer. I'm trying to embrace the lessons and learn them well so that I will make better choices in the future.

Most important, I'm trying to stick to my original goal of living a balanced life and being my true authentic self. It has not been easy. Taking care of myself is a challenge as I struggle to incorporate workouts, prayer, and time for self reflection into my each and everyday. It's so much easier to busy myself with work / family / commitments. Speaking my truth, standing up for what I believe in, and doing what I know to be right is a struggle as I would rather cower in the cave of my past and just go along with the crowd. It's so much easier.

Most important I'm trying to be supportive: to myself. A new concept for me. Change will come. I have to do things different and I have to keep moving forward even when it's easier to settle back into my old patterns and habits.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

My Life As a Moving Target

The only thing that is the same about me is that my situation does not stay the same.

In my lifetime I’ve been a leather crafter, aerobics instructor, funnel cake maker, hostess, waitress, student, assistant, masseuse, yogurt server, jelly maker, drive-thru runner, camera operator, photo editor, mail-order business owner, wife, newsletter publisher, day care teacher, sales rep, researcher, cable television show developer, furniture builder/finisher, mom, clerk, marketing specialist, director of new business, craft service provider, production assistant, survey creator, commercial producer, art teacher, full-time volunteer, freelance marketer, home school mom, substitute teacher, retail sales associate, hand model, calendar maker, paraprofessional, and special education teacher.

I’ve lived in two countries, seven states, attended five elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school (thanks mom), and three colleges. My husband and I have lived in five rentals and owned four houses across three of those seven states.

Even day-to-day, I find myself reinventing myself. A colleague who I saw daily commented that he never recognized me until I was close to him because as he said, “your hair’s always a different shape.” It’s true. My hair varies on a spectrum from wild frizz to straight depending on its mood, my patience, and the humidity. I run into people who I haven’t seen in a while and they ask how school is going or inquire as to the job they most recently remember me having only to learn that I’m no longer enrolled or working at whatever it was they remember me working. This often accompanied by a look of confusion as I fill them in on my latest venture.

Why so much change? I really don’t know. Maybe, it’s that I spent the first thirteen years of my life as a military brat where the only guarantee was that you would be moving. Change is my habit. Really, I believe it’s because through of all these various places and positions, I haven’t found the right fit. Change is my necessity. Whatever the reason, change happens and in my life it happens often.