From Daughter to Mother in a Year

 

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

 
Public nursing challenges at the Mall - Me with my ten-month-old daughter - Nov. 23, 2007

Public nursing challenges at the Mall - Me with my ten-month-old daughter - Nov. 23, 2007

This is the face of a new mother.

Not new, as in minutes new; but new, as in ten months into it new.

This is the face of a mother without a mother. A woman who was a bit lost in the world, after losing her mom and birthing her first child, almost simultaneously.

It’s not a particularly uplifting image or story; but it’s real, and it’s the truth.

A dear friend often says “it’s ok not to be ok.” I wholeheartedly agree. To be, wherever and however we are, allows us to feel and process our feelings, not run away from them. It’s a generously forgiving and nurturing attitude, toward ourselves and others; yet unfortunately, it’s not one many people adopt.

I have been doing this for years… not pretending I’m okay when I’m clearly not. The problem with this for other people is, when you’re not okay for a good long while, you start making them uncomfortable.

I was not okay when my daughter was born, and I knew and accepted that was just how it was going to be for a while. Almost every fiber of my being was grieving the sudden loss of my mom three months prior, while every other fiber was reveling in the birth of my daughter.

People around me wanted me to be okay, sooo bad. I too wanted to be... for my daughter, my husband, and me. Those who loved me wanted me to feel nothing but love and gratitude for this child, while taking comfort in the belief that my mom was “looking down on us smiling.”

But I wasn’t okay. It wasn’t comforting and I didn’t care to believe that my mom was up there, wherever they thought “up there” was, looking down on us, experiencing the joy of this child along with us. I didn’t care. I didn’t agree. I wanted her here with me, and with this baby. I knew that wherever her energy was now, there was no way she could be experiencing it quite as good as if she had been alive, holding her first grandchild in her arms.

I am not sure why my husband decided to capture the somber moment above. I don’t even remember him taking it. I look like I was in a trance while breastfeeding my daughter. That whole year after my mom’s death, the stark reality of enduring the challenges of motherhood without her support made me sad; and it permeated my days.

As if the grief was not enough, I was also dealing with hormonal imbalances, sleep deprivation, post partum depression, nursing discomfort, and an almost complete surrender of the person I formerly was. The challenges I faced as a new mom changed my face for a while. I often didn’t have the energy, nor the inclination, to cultivate a positive attitude or conceal the sadness.

On one of our daily beach walks - Malibu, CA - Aug. 19, 2007

On one of our daily beach walks - Malibu, CA - Aug. 19, 2007

Every Mother’s Day, I think of my mom, obviously, but not reminiscing on past years on which I celebrated her as my mother. Instead, I think of all the Mother’s Days that she’s missing. The ones we never were or will be able to celebrate as mothers together.

I have now celebrated twelve Mother’s Days as a mother, not a daughter. Today will be the 13th. Those people who say “It’s just a day” are probably the same people who tell the families who lost everything in the Woolsey Fire here in Malibu six months ago that “It’s just stuff.”

Until it happens to you, you have NO idea what you are talking about.

In 2006, I celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom, as I did every year, and didn’t know I was pregnant yet. The following year, I spent the day without my mom and with a child of my own, both for the first time. In the course of that one year, everything changed.

I don’t remember that first one. Maybe I have a photo from it somewhere, but I have no memory of it. I think I was sort of detached from the concept of it… how was I, all of a sudden, the mother on this day, in this scenario?

From the very beginning, I was this kid’s world. As a baby, she would sit, listen, and take in everything I said. When I would talk, she would just stare at me, absorbing every word, even though she didn’t understand them. When I wasn’t talking, she still had her eyes on me, observing.

She Always had her eyes on her mama, and still does - Malibu, CA - July 22, 2007

She Always had her eyes on her mama, and still does - Malibu, CA - July 22, 2007

She was my beach baby, my walking buddy, my everything. Even though the void in my heart left by my mom would never be filled, she filled in places I never knew existed.

Feeding at the Gaviota Beach rest stop - Sept. 1, 2007

Feeding at the Gaviota Beach rest stop - Sept. 1, 2007

She brought light into a dark time, and her smile, dimple, and big blue eyes brought me hope and kept me moving and living and working hard to be my best for her.

Beach fun in Pismo Beach, CA - Sept. 2, 2007

Beach fun in Pismo Beach, CA - Sept. 2, 2007

Nursing an eight-month-old in Downtown LA - Sept. 22, 2007

Nursing an eight-month-old in Downtown LA - Sept. 22, 2007

A night out at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center, - Dec. 9, 2007

A night out at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center, - Dec. 9, 2007

I know it looks very different for some, and involves a lot of effort and heartache for many women who want to have children. But for me, becoming a mother was the easy part. I was fortunate that it happened without me doing much of anything, except having a bit of pleasurable fun, and then growing a human inside my body without too much complication.

11-month-old on the verge of walking, Malibu, CA - Dec. 19, 2007

11-month-old on the verge of walking, Malibu, CA - Dec. 19, 2007

The hardest part of my pregnancy was the last three months while dealing with my mom’s absence.

But learning to LIVE life as a mother, without a mother, was the absolute hardest thing I have ever done. And being a mother, in general, is the hardest thing for me to do… harder than losing my mom in a car accident, harder than accepting marriage isn’t what I expected it to be, and harder than bearing my soul and exposing my vulnerabilities in writing.

As Teddy Roosevelt said in the above quote… if nothing worth having comes easy, and if the hardest fought challenges and rewards in life are the most sweet... then motherhood must be the sweetest and most worthwhile venture in all of human existence. At least that’s what I am banking on.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom (& Grandma)

from both of us…

 
My 2nd Mother’s Day with my 16-month-old - May 11, 2008

My 2nd Mother’s Day with my 16-month-old - May 11, 2008

 

(and her little brother too.)

POSTSCRIPT: I went through years and years of photos while searching for pictures of my aunt to include in the memorial slideshow that was going to be shown at the luncheon after her funeral on May 3rd. The photos that I found from my first year as a mother, a few of them included above, sparked vivid memories and feelings from that time; so I was inspired to sit down and write about it.

Reflecting on the difficulties that I experienced reminds me of how far I have come and how much I have surmounted. More than anything else, my children’s presence in my life has challenged me to heal, grow, evolve, and live as authentically as possible. Acknowledging our pain and allowing ourselves to feel it is the ONLY way to process, work through, and heal from it. There aren’t any shortcuts or detours to avoid them; that is, if you intend to heal from them. So each time I write and reflect on my wounds from the past, I heal from them just a little bit more.

Yes Pause Button

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Sitting on the side of the road in my car. PCH. Appreciating Mother Earth and so many of her gifts on this Earth Day 2019. The air, the sea, the land, the sunset. The quiet stillness. The majestic beauty. 🌎💙

Needed to take a break from life and its realities. Pushed that imaginary pause button... you know, the one I said in my post last week didn’t exist while I was on vacation, after I got the news my aunt died. Well, I manifested it into reality tonight. Yep. That’s the great thing about free will... we can do what we want, when we want, as we see fit. For our sanity. For our self care. For no other reason than we need a f-ing break. If we can’t see a better way to process a difficult moment.

I needed to pause. All of it... Mothering, wife-ing, woman-ing, adulting. I took time for myself; frankly, to sob. To let it flow out of me, TWICE today. Earlier this afternoon and right before taking this photo. Afterward, I was able to breathe and reflect. To be still. Stillness is salvation. Then, I could begin writing this.

When things suck, they can suck BAD and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. Nothing but breathe. Nothing but accept the sh*tty turn of events or reality with which we are faced. Nothing but recognize that it will pass, eventually, and there is always a way through. Somehow. Some way.

Yes, pausing works... in the short term. You can cry. You can meditate and clear your mind. It is peaceful, therapeutic even. A release. A welcome escape. But then you have to process. To face and it, IN your life.

I most often write to find my way through. To process the hard. To understand the pain, to nurture the heartbreak, to empower the inner strength hiding below the vulnerability and fear, to give voice to the feelings deep in my heart that otherwise would stay silent.

I write, and it all comes alive. I write, and it all feels surmountable, somehow. I write, and my heart is able to feel and say what I cannot communicate otherwise. For me, writing my words gives breath to them... to my hurt, love, fear, sadness, joy, passion, anger and disappointment. I feel and work through it. I don’t numb, avoid or deny. I write. And THAT is everything.

#yespausebutton

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Soul of an Artist

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My eight-year-old is an artist. His drawing is currently on display at the City of Malibu Student Art Exhibit; so we attended the Artist Reception last Friday night.

Yes, he loves to draw and he’s good at it, but the simple drawing he quickly made at school and submitted to the show is not why I call him an artist.

He is an artist because he has the soul of an artist.

I resist saying, “he takes after me,” as it is not for me to take credit for his passion and talent. It is his and his alone. I am merely a fellow artist, a kindred spirit. Yet he is wild and untamed in his artistic expression, and I am less so. The “wild and untamed” in me remains dormant for the most part, set free only when I feel really passionate about something, or someone, and only when I feel safe.

But that doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t think you’re supposed to wait to feel safe first to share yourself or your unbridled passion. You need to just do it, show your wild side, be yourself, and own it, right? Well my son does just that. He doesn’t wait for anything... not permission, nor an appropriate time or place. He lets loose whenever and wherever; and as such, his behavior is often a bit disruptive, I’m afraid.

Before I took this photo of his dad holding him to look at the art, he was (as usual) his most expressive self, acting to get a laugh from anyone watching. Crawling around and behaving goofy, with his loud voice echoing through the high ceilings of Malibu City Hall, amidst people quietly browsing the art gallery, he was a performance artist without a captive audience. Wrong time and place, and as a parent, not cool with me. We had to wrangle him in b/c teaching him to reign himself in is still a work in progress. It is a DAILY challenge.😓

I am confident (read: hoping) more self control will set in as he gets older, and that he finds the perfect outlet to share his unique gifts. For now, he is unabashedly HIM, 24/7... over the top, flamboyant, lively and animated. Such unbridled energy, such freedom w/o reservation. Qualities many artists yearn to cultivate to aid in effectively expressing themselves.

Maybe I need take a cue from his playbook more often when sharing myself, and my art. 🎭

#soulofanartist #studentartexhibit

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Surreal Moments

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Some of the best parts of the human experience are the ones that defy explanation. Ones that seem a bit surreal as you are experiencing them. When you don’t have a logical explanation for the bliss or the beauty, and you don’t question or doubt anything in that moment and instead just FEEL it... 😌 those are the best moments in life.

Moments so pure, so grounded in raw sensory touch, powerfully ignited by soul connecting passion for life, or for another human... they make memories you can never shake (nor do you want to).✨

On a smaller scale, a glimpse of this surreal type feeling can be found when watching a spectacular sunset, especially when parts of the sky look like this. It didn’t even look real. It looked more like a Monet painting I have seen hanging in the Getty Museum.

Yes, I know Monet painted what he saw in actual, real skies; but he was an impressionist and his artistry lent a surreal tone to his work. Often we see these breathtaking images in museums more than in real life; so when we experience them in person, it’s pretty special.

All I had to do was take the highway, houses, and trees out of the line of sight within my camera’s viewfinder, and this real life painting appeared.

#monetsunset #paintedsky

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Love Oneself

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It is harder to love oneself than it is to love others.

We can feel so much love for and have such a passion to give to those whom we love most; and still not give that same love to ourselves.

Perfectionist tendencies can make us feel ashamed of our flaws, and even lead us to shame others who don’t meet our lofty expectations. This is my hardest and most challenging work.

From a young age, the expectations I put on myself and others were always extremely high. So high that they often created an unrealistic vision for what I thought life “should” look like, and how people “should” behave.

Idealistic expectations are impossible for anyone to consistently reach, as nobody is actually perfect. We all have our own internal weaknesses and suffer from external circumstances beyond our control. Yet, being faced with anything short of what I had originally envisioned often left me in a state of presumed defeat, and with the feeling that others had failed me somehow. Or worse, that I myself just didn’t measure up.

Subconsciously, I felt that if I wasn’t being treated fairly, or if my accomplishments weren’t perceived as good enough, then that must mean I wasn’t deserving of love. This misconception is common among individuals, like me, who grew up feeling they needed to prove their worth in order to receive love. Owning this wounding, discovering my tendency toward shame, and consciously waking up to this destructive thought pattern, was integral in my awareness toward change.

Still, reprogramming negative behaviors and breaking habitual thinking has not happened overnight. It has been a long journey, one I am still on. To find peace in the “what is” of life - cultivating equanimity in the face of imperfection - is hard.

Acceptance of who I am, where I am at, and what I have done, has graced me in stages, and is something I can cultivate most days; but it is still not my resting state of existence. I consider myself a recovering perfectionist, but like a recovering anything, I’ve not eradicated it for good.

I strive to embrace the dark corners of myself as much as the bright and shiny parts, for this is the only way to truly love.

#loveoneself

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Move Forward

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Everything is coming together. All in due time. Be patient. Be Aware. CREATE. Move forward. Love others. Love yourself. GIVE. Accept what is. Improve what you can. Believe in what’s possible. GROW. Take action. Find strength. Trust in you.

⚓️ HOPE.
➕ Stay Positive.
💪 Persevere.

Be integral in making your hopes a reality. IMAGINE. See it. Be Open. It’s all just around the corner. SEIZE IT.


#moveforward #fridayinspiration #newmonth #Feb1

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Don't Do It to Look Hot

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Don’t do it to look hot. Don’t do it to get other people’s admiration, envy, or approval. Don’t do it so those you think are hot will find you hot too. 🔥

Do it to take care of yourself, be strong, move free, feel good, and live long. If “looking hot” is a residual effect, and admirers let you know it, don’t let that define you or your self worth.

Physical “hotness” is fleeting; but the intangible force that attracts others to us and us to them on deeper levels will outlast any surface attraction. Depth of character, kindness, respect, and vulnerability are at the core of the connections we make with those who are meant to be in our lives with longevity.

Deep connections will survive casual flirtations and fleeting infatuations every time; so be sure to put equal energy into the fitness of your mind, heart, and soul as you do your body. Redefine your hotness from the inside out.

#dayfive #dontdoittolookhot

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Focus Through It

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When you are challenged to the breaking point and are weary of the climb, remember it’s not going to get easier when you decide to try again... in an hour, a day, week, month, or year.

The only way through any kind of discomfort is *through* it... not around it or away from it.

When you know what you need to do to get where you want, but aren’t sure you have what it takes to get there, focus on how you want to feel when you reach the top. Focus on what you are working to overcome, what from which you want to heal, and what existence you want to live as you move forward toward your goal.

Focus on how the strength you will gain on the journey will fuel your desire to persevere, and how every step you take brings you closer to where you want to be.

#dayfour #focusthroughit

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

You Know

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When everyone around you is marching to a different beat, keep time with your own drum. Don’t let the pull of the majority sway you to abandon your instincts on what you believe is the right path.

You know what is true. You know what to do. You know.

#daythree #youknow

*Originally posted to Instagram and Facebook

Promote What You Love Instead of Bashing What You Hate

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There are, and always will be, things we love and things we hate... about situations, opinions, people. We can even feel love and hate for a person, circumstance, or reality simultaneously.

I try so hard not to use the word hate, and constantly tell my kids to express this strong emotion using “I don’t like” instead of “I hate.” Yet truthfully, among adults, hate is more accurate a word to use when it comes to what we passionately oppose, that with which we vehemently disagree, or realities we have an impossible time accepting.

I can say I hate prejudice, intolerance, racism, sexism, ignorance, misogyny, chauvinism and injustice; and there are many people who would think I am justified in my hatred.

But there is a different brand of hate on the opposite side of mine; and if that hate is what fuels my hate, then more hatred is being generated than love.

Allowing ourselves to feel hate on such a deep level can bring us to a dark place, and will never pave the way to the light.

When I suffer disappointments and dashed hopes, when my precious (possibly idealistic) expectations are not fulfilled, and when I envision the way I think others will behave (or I want them to behave) and find instead they do the opposite, hate can manifest within me, despite my desire to feel empathy instead of anger.

If we allow hate to grow in our hearts - out of fear, pain, outrage or conditioning - it can eclipse the love for which we have an unlimited capacity.

Giving love without strings attached, expectations placed, or guarantee of when or if it will be returned, is scary. Loving unconditionally is risky; it can make us feel vulnerable, powerless, and taken for granted.

Love itself is the opposite. It is powerful. It can transform and transcend. And promoting what we love - equality, justice, respect, tolerance, acceptance, hope, positivity, perseverance, generosity and kindness - especially in the glaring face of hatred, can be the difference between fostering a life consumed by ugliness, and creating one that thrives on compassion.

Multiply that exponentially, and it’s not just a life... it is a nation, a world, a global consciousness, a future generation.

Newport Coast Golden Hour

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#fbf to when I was down in Newport Coast visiting my Aunt Jan on 10/5/14, four years ago today. I started publishing my writing on my new website earlier that year, so that new creative outlet and my new lease on life really helped fuel me to stay fit. I had been doing a lot of running and yoga, and my body was feeling and looking better than it had since I had the kids. (They were four and seven then.) When you have strong motivators, they can make you focus and thrive in ways you never expected.

It was an amazing time for me. Yet there was some bad that came with all that good. I hadn’t been as attentive a mother as I had usually been, and my passion for writing and all the feelings that consumed me at that time led to some selfish choices. (I wrote about this in my piece “Write On.”) There is a small part of me that wishes I could snap my fingers and go back to that year and do things differently going forward; but the larger part of me, the part that knows time travel is impossible, tells me to take all that I have learned over the last four years and use it to inform my choices over the next four years and beyond... For without the risks I took and effort I made that year, I would not have yielded all I have written thus far. Without the mistakes we make and heartaches we suffer in the past, we would not know what better choices to make in the future. 💪☀️ 👙 🙏💕


#ilooklikeiminacomicbook #newportcoast #crystalcove #goldenhour

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Fleeting Beauty

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I sat alone on the beach tonight at sunset, before I went for a run, looking out at this.

It only appeared exactly like this for a matter of minutes before growing dimmer, duller, and eventually darkening into night.

It was like looking at a stunning piece of art in a museum, only to have it morph and change before your eyes.

There is so much beauty in this world that is fleeting; yet, even if it goes away, the affect it has on you sustains and the memory of it remains, so it can never be lost.

#malibusunset #zumabeach

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Failure is Success if We Learn from It

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Another hot tea inspiration for ya... “Failure is success if we learn from it.”

We can’t expect to grow and evolve if we don’t fail and learn from our mistakes. Consider your life a success if you have already learned this lesson; but if you haven’t, know that there is still time to adopt this viewpoint, forgive yourself for your failures, and learn the lessons they are there to teach.

I myself have been learning a lot of lessons lately. Sometimes it takes a few times to make the same mistake before the lesson is clear and we are willing and able to integrate it inside us. We are only ready to accept certain realities when we are ready... there is no rushing the process. Sometimes we convince ourselves and others that we accept things, while still secretly holding onto a grain of hope that things will turn around somehow and finally go the way we wish.

In the past, I have seen this kind of acceptance as giving up hope. This is a tough one for me, as Hope is my anchor ⚓️, my North Star. Losing hope was the ultimate failure in my past view, so I had often tried to hang onto it when I really should have let it go. When we continue to hang onto hope in situations that clearly don’t warrant it, it can be seen as a form of insanity. As it has been defined, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

I feel more sane now than I have in years. By accepting what I had not been able to let go of previously, along with changing my attitude, perspective, and actions, I have seen different, better and healthier results. This does not mean I am getting what I want; as I certainly am not. It just means that I am finally ready and able to accept the reality that I am not getting what I want. That I have made peace with the loss of hope in certain things, and have replaced dashed hopes with new hopes, new goals, and new expectations for different results. Only time will tell how it will play out; but regardless of the outcome, I know I am already a success. ☕️

#hotteainspiration #teatagwisdom

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Becoming You: From Tragic to Transformative

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Thirteen years ago, I had a dream job, dream husband, and dream lifestyle by the sea. Happiness was on the rise, and its expected trajectory was limitless. I was living a perfectly charmed life, despite mild insecurity and self-doubt; and the formula I had created for it centered around pronounced wellness... in health, fitness, discipline of mind and body, and professional success.

I ran three miles five times a week. I practiced yoga. I worked long hours, but was rewarded for it in title and salary. I drank green smoothies, ate vegan meals, and consumed eight glasses of water each day. I wore a size 0. I had overcome a dysfunctional childhood, suffered career failures, and let go of unfulfilling relationships. I lived in an impeccably choreographed external reality, while my internal footing was not completely solid. I fought for the life I wanted, and created the best version of it I could. I felt happy. I thought if my life could just remain stable and secure long enough, then maybe I could feel a deeper sense of happiness and belonging in my soul, down to my core.

But it didn't stay that way. I was laid off my job, got unexpectedly pregnant, and tragically lost my mother, all within the span of a year and a half. This eruption of unexpected losses and unplanned detours blew up my life, triggering unconscious wounds and undesirable outcomes. Life's curve balls were thrown so fast, and from so many directions, that there was no time to brace for disaster. They invaded my intentionally crafted existence and destroyed what I had worked so hard to craft.

Now, not only was my mom gone, but my life, as I knew it, was over. I felt left behind and tossed aside by the world. This world, which I thought had promised me a good life, had lied and reneged on its promise. My baby was born amid my crippling grief. Postpartum depression, marital disillusionment, and a monumental identity crisis soon joined in; and together, these life altering states of being uncovered a minefield of hidden wounds within me, and ignited deep emotional pain, debilitating me.

I naively thought I had paid my dues of difficulties early in life, and that this was supposed to be my time to shine. It was my turn to have a happy life. One full of joy and love. One in which I felt that I belonged, and was wanted and needed. How I always dreamed. But it was not going the way I hoped and expected. I had lost the dream. I was angry and sad. I was no longer the me I wanted to be. My neatly landscaped life was now a messy, damaged life... one chosen for me, rather than by me.

Through sheer will and stubbornness, I hastily rebuilt myself and attempted to regain control of my life. I was a mother now, but also a motherless daughter. I kept mostly intact for years, and even thrived in short, temporary bouts... in motherhood, marriage, and fitness. But my proven formula of wellness, and the method of healthy functioning I previously used before the fallout, was no match for my unresolved wounding. My life appeared put together enough from the outside (again); but inside, insecurity, hurt, and fear were emerging from the shadows. They began to eclipse the happiness I had cultivated out of tragedy, and I couldn't sustain it. Compelled to remove the masks of coping and posturing, all too common in adulthood, I exposed the dark underbelly of my sadness and perceived inadequacy, and faced it.

By my own resolve, I was forced to grow.

This kind of personal growth is distinct from the growing we do as children, which doesn't take our conscious effort. Our new bodies, ripe with possibility, develop beyond our control and without our deliberate intention. Our minds, clean slates ready to be written on like new blackboards with fresh pieces of white chalk, soak up life’s experiences like sponges. Before our physiques are done developing, our young minds and hearts begin to fill with experiences... ones that elicit hope, hurt, conceptions and conclusions. For most of us, the development of our emotional intelligence is hijacked by wounding, in its many forms, encouraging a climate of managing and minimizing to take over while a regimen of denying feelings and numbing pain sets in.

The depth of hurt and vulnerability that's inside us by the time we are adults often remains buried and unexplored, sometimes for a lifetime; unless we are compelled to dig deep and break through to the other side of pain. Loss is most often the catalyst to this unearthing, as was the case for me. Although I had been an introspective student of yoga and soul centered living for years, this was different. More confronting. I realized that emotional, spiritual and whole body wellness could no longer be a surface goal, or merely a healthy or trendy lifestyle choice. Exercise, smoothies, and meditation weren't gonna do it alone. No more glossy top coats to conceal the flaws or slurry to cover up the cracks. I needed to jackhammer that shit up, down to the foundation... to the core of my soul. I had to confront my wounding, look my pain dead in the eye, and rescue myself from its clutches.

I am still under this personal and intimate reconstruction, and expect to be indefinitely. I have learned and healed so much, yet I have so much more to discover and integrate within. I love and fear the process; but mostly, I am grateful for the insight I have gained and the perseverance I have found inside myself to stay curious, courageous, and keep healing, growing and evolving.

I have concluded that if we don't commit to doing this healing, growing and evolving bit, we are at risk of staying stuck in a version of ourselves that we've outgrown, but insist on squeezing into...  just like that tight pair of jeans we claim still fit, but require us to lie down and suck in to zip them up. Being stuck in those old, shrunken selves stifles joy, impedes our potential for true belonging, and immobilizes us from moving about our lives freely with comfort and purpose.

It is possible for personal growth and evolution to be intentional and self-motivated as well, rather than spurred on by loss or misfortune. It could be inspired by a desire for a more fulfilling existence and a deeper understanding of one's place in humankind, or it can be spurred on by the discomfort of trying to fit into those ill-fitting, played out denims.

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Whether prompted by life changing challenges or by curiosity about what exists beyond our self-imposed limits, growth happens when we open ourselves up to the possibility of exploring, healing, and becoming who we truly are. Becoming more kind, compassionate, and empathetic to ourselves and others. Becoming whole and wise and open and vulnerable. Becoming who we were meant to be, before we began to tailor and fabricate a version of ourselves to present to the world for self-preservation.

Becoming you is the single most important thing you can do in this life.

From tragic to transformative, only you have the power to make your life what you want, out of what you have. All that is required to establish strong roots and grow magnificent wings is to accept the invitation to find what authentically grounds you, and to cultivate the strength and courage to let it fly free into the wonderful wilderness of this world.

It's all inside of you... it's inside all of us.

We Are Not Our Faces

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We are not our faces. Our physical beauty. Our smooth skin. Our flowing hair. Our yoga poses.

Our professional accomplishments. Our bank accounts. Our cars. Our houses. Our jewels. Our reputable names.

Our extra pounds around the middle. Our gray hairs. Our dark circles. Our wrinkles.

Our shame. Our guilt. Our hurt. Our regrets. Our failures. Our vices. Our self images, distorted through other people’s lenses, tarnished when fallen short of lofty expectations. We are none of these.

These attributes and circumstances do not define us. It may feel like they do, because they have shaped and molded us into who we identify ourselves to be today; and we present these selves to the world (flaunting or concealing parts) for others to weigh in... to decide our worth or our level of acceptability.

But we aren’t these things in our core. In any way that truly matters. No, instead, we are our strength. Our vulnerability. Our kindness. Our courage. Our perseverance. Our empathy. Our hope. Our compassion. Our humanity. Our love. Our resistance to letting all that other sh*t define us.

#internationalwomensday2018

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Even in Australia

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It’s #nationalreadacrossamericaday, so books are on my mind; which, truthfully, is no different from any other day. 📖 I recently color coded my library, with inspiration from my sister’s 🌈 rainbow book display... these are just two of several shelves in my house filled with books curated over many years.

The oldest in my collection is the big red coffee table book on the far left entitled “The Movies.” It was my mom’s and sat on a shelf in the den of my childhood home for as long as I can remember. Having it here makes me happy and feel connected to her, reminding me of our shared passion for film.

But today, when I think about the book that meant the most to me as a child, I could think of no other than “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst. I grabbed it from my kids’ bookshelf in their room & added it to my library here for a moment, since I no longer have my childhood copy.

After I birthed my first child, this was the first hardcover book I purchased for my nursery library of cloth and board books. It was my favorite as a child because it taught me that it was okay to have feelings... to have MY feelings, ANY feelings I felt, no matter what anyone else said. That it was normal to feel yucky sometimes and that every day didn’t have to be picture perfect, chronicling a childhood of a chronically smiling (often fake smiling) girl.

Expectations to be cordial, well behaved and “good” dominated my childhood, and any feelings of anger or sadness were rarely accepted or validated. The pressure to present a groomed and shiny exterior, for the purpose of preserving my father’s celebrity and professional reputation, was overwhelming for me, and it didn’t leave much room for normal childhood fears and angst.

I related to Alexander and his desire to get away and move to Australia. I related to his feeling of being invisible and finding life unfair and unbalanced sometimes. This book helped me be ok with being the real me, big feelings and all, and that was transformative.✨💫

*I also wrote about this book in Some Days Are Like That

#booksaremagic #readacrossamerica

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

No Filter Rant

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There is no filter on this photo I just snapped a couple minutes ago; so there will be no filter on its caption either (which is the norm for me anyway). It is inconceivable to some that one could look out at this view from their front door & not be grateful every moment of every day. Yet, sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

Gratitude is not automatic or a given. It is not inherent in direct relation to one’s interpreted & conceived good fortune, nor even to the obvious blessing of being alive, healthy & safe. Of course, you would think it would be, but it’s not. Gratitude needs to be cultivated, & so often that part is overlooked. I am grateful a lot, but not as much as I consciously wish I would be.

I have been enjoying this same view & these same sunsets for over 15 years, living in this tiny edge of the world since 2002. I have gotten married while living here, changed careers, grieved the sudden loss of my mother to a car accident, birthed two children, given up having a career at one point, suffered marital challenges, stayed home (sleep deprived & depressed) nursing babies, chasing toddlers, sweeping up cheerios, wiping up smushed baby food & feeling like I wanted to (& actually have) scream & cry from the grief, hardship, mundaneness & lack of intellectual stimulation.

Today, I stand here with children who are 7 & 11 & gone most of the day navigating moments of their own lives without me, on an unpaved road leading to an unknown destination, on the journey of a new career & a new stage of life. Nothing is certain... nothing but the love I feel for my husband, my kids, my siblings, my friends.

It is easy to see that this view is quite spectacular to the naked eye (& this image doesn’t even do it justice) in all its obvious glory; it is harder to see how spectacular everything else is in your life without consciously recognizing it - without tuning in your mind, body & soul to it - breathing it in & letting it inhabit your being.

I am doing it now. NOW. Now is all we’ve got until the next moment comes. Breathe it in. All of it. It is a privilege. Even the hard... especially the hard. It is what moves us closer to our truest selves.

#nofilter #rant

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

 

Farewell 2017

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Any given year can either be an equal mix of good and bad, or can tip the scales drastically to one side or the other. For me, 2017 was a hard year... 365 days of good, bad, and ugly.

Although it was filled with beautiful sunsets, cleansing runs, challenging hikes, and renewing escapes; it was also filled with bitter disappointments and devastating heartbreaks. A year of clarity and conviction, sadness and separation, and trials, tribulations, and truths not welcomed nor expected.

A year full of lessons and revelations that would not have come to pass without the hardships that preceded them - making it a year that was also a surprising gift. Through it, ⚓️hope endured, happiness was found, and gratitude was mindfully cultivated.

2018 is now here, and in this new year, I believe strength and courage will guide me... I expect truths and trials will continue to challenge me... and I know stories and storytelling will inevitably soothe me. Sharing, writing and creating will, as always, save me, and love will most definitely keep it all together.

#farewell2017 #herewecome2018 #happynewyear

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook