Archive of ‘Love’ category

Go Where You Are Wanted

Recently, I was listening to an audio class taught by my sweet Kundalini yoga teacher and she said to her students, “Go where you are wanted.” It stopped me in my tracks. Folding my husband’s boxers on the bed in our room I stopped, set the boxers down, pressed pause on my phone, and repeated that phrase to myself.

“Go where you are wanted.”

It’s been 5 years since I’ve been separated and divorced from my first husband. We have done a stellar job rebuilding a new relationship, a co-parenting relationship, that I believe could win awards. (And I do believe there should be awards for co-parenting.)
What I lost in my divorce was my best friend, Karen. She was my blonde twin, my sister from another mister, the truest and most authentic friend I’d had in my life to date. Karen felt very torn between my ex-husband and me during our divorce, and in the end it seemed that she chose him.

This was more devastating than my divorce.

I spent a long time wishing and praying for Karen to come back into my life. So nearly 2 years after our divorce, I reached out to her. It was just a text message but it took courage summoned from my toes to send it. I didn’t know if she hated me or if she missed me or if she even really thought about me anymore. To my utter relief, she replied.
Our exchange was brief and kind. She even used one of our old “just us” jokes and I felt so close to her.

I waited 6 months to hear from her again…

When she did get back in touch, it was to tell me that she was sorry my dog had run away. I guess someone told her what happened. My dog was back by this point so I told her thank you and filled her in. That was it. There was no more after that.

I missed her so much. I missed my friend. I thought about her almost everyday.

A year later, my gynecologist found a lump in my left breast. I was completely terrified. Several friends took me out to dinner to hold me and feed me beer while I panicked and cried. I texted her after a few of those beers, somehow hoping my fear of having breast cancer would inspire her to be my friend again…

By this point I had a new husband. Kind, handsome, and supportive Ryan was there for me throughout the process of mammograms, ultrasounds, and an ultimate “all clear” diagnosis. He held my hand and wiped my tears. I was covered, surrounded, and loved.

But I still missed my friend.

It was almost another year later when she reached out to me. Karen reached out to me. I was overjoyed. I couldn’t wait to catch up with her. We had an hour-long conversation and it was just like old times. She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her back. We were getting this friendship back on track and it was all that I wished for.

The next day I texted her pictures of my wedding. She sent me pictures of her new dog. We were making jokes and giggling and everything felt amazing. “My friend is back,” I told my husband.

That was 2 years ago, and it was the last time I heard from her. I feel a stinging pang of sadness every time I think of the last text message I sent her that received no reply.

Until I heard the words, “Go where you are wanted.” It stung me for years until this moment. Until the day I was folding my husband’s boxers on the bed and I heard the antidote to the sting. “Go where you are wanted.”

How often, I suddenly realized, I have spent time knocking on the doors of those who don’t want me, trying to convince them I’m worth it. Years I’ve spent worried, wondering what I might be able to do to make myself valuable enough for their attention.
Family members.
Friends from high school.
People at work.
Holy cow, I’ve never been a person lacking friends and love. And yet those people who love me have gently stood in the wings waiting for me to finish standing onstage before those who don’t love me, tapping dancing my ass off in hopes that one of them might clap.

It is perfectly ok for people to not like you, to not want to be friends with you. There’s no need to be angry at them for not liking you. It’s just their opinion. But for some reason, our human-selves find it important to prove that everyone can and will like us instead of something far easier – letting those who already love us LOVE us!

It is not selfish to go where you are wanted, either. It is self-love and self-care to allow the people who love you to love you hard, and to gently release those who don’t without sewing their feelings about you to your Girl Scout Sash on the way out.

I have not reached out to my friend again and, at this point, I never will. She is not a friend anymore, anyway. My friends are here. My husband is here. I can see where I am wanted with more and more clarity everyday. And I have less and less interest in those who do not want me.

Go where you are wanted, my friend. Take a look around and starting noticing who is really rooting for you and go there. It is the juice of life. It is the sweetness of life. And it is where you were meant to be: square in the middle of love.

(Thank you, Sat Siri, for being the inspiration behind this.)

 

 

 

 

 

When I Move, You Move

Something new has clicked.

It all started when I decided to gently walk away from my job.
Well, no, it all actually started when I tried to buy a gym.
No, really it all started at the Writers’ Conference I attended in October.
Well, no it all started over the summer when I found out about the Writers’ Conference.
Eh. It actually all started when I decided to start blogging more regularly last year.
Actually, maybe it all started when I figured I would chase after my own dreams when the 2017 ball dropped…

(Spoiler alert – It started then and even before all that.)

What’s clicked for me over the past year is while setting every last domino up for a spectacular display of gravity and momentum is necessary, it is not the final step. The final step is moving.
Pushing the first domino.
But the real clicky moment for me was when I realized that I need both – The set up and the push.

I spent so much time last year journaling, listening to podcasts, watching The Secret over and over again, praying, focusing on gratitude, and sometimes full-on tantrumming about what I want. And what I want is not so hard: tons of money, a fulfilling career, plenty of freedom, and an adventurous, healthy, loving family. (Easy peasy, right?!) But with all that intentional focus, I didn’t see a single thing moving me in the direction of what I wanted. I saw that I was still working for other people making just enough money to cover our bills while my husband built his business with no way out to get to what I wanted.
I did try to take action. I applied for jobs, of which I was awarded none. I tried to start my own copywriting business, which fizzled before it started. I tried to start about 3 other businesses, none of which it appeared I could commit to. What I figured out (in hindsight, not at the time) was that all my action was based in fear and in force. I began by moving from a place of fear that I would never have the things I want, and continued the momentum of moving by forcing things into place in order to get what I want.

It turns out, that didn’t work.

What did work was all that intentional focus. That work I did at the beginning of the year was my set up, my perfectly squared dominos. My desires, my wants, my wishes were all stacking up in a perfect line in front of me; I just couldn’t see the results yet. Like Mike Dooley explains, when you enter a final destination into your GPS, you follow the instructions it gives you. Sometimes you get re-routed. Sometimes there’s a slow asshole in front of you in the fast lane that really pisses you off. Sometimes you have to stop to pee or your mom calls or you need some beef jerky. And if you continue following the directions, you LITERALLY won’t know if they worked until you arrive at your final destination. You’ll have ZERO PROOF that you’re going to get to where you want to go until you arrive. But before you do any driving, you must first set up (enter your final destination) and then you must turn your car on and put it in drive.
What’s important is you move. That’s when you push the first domino.

So all that thought and prayer and journaling led to some blogging because it felt good, and 2017 was the year of feeling good. Soon after I committed to more blogging, an email from Hay House Publishing inviting me to a Writers Workshop. At the time, it looked more like an obstacle than like the perfect next step. It cost big bucks, the hotel was expensive, and I didn’t know if I’d even learn anything new. But I moved because it felt more right than wrong.
Being at the actual Writers Workshop felt SO right and stirred up SO much excitement that I was unstoppable!!! Until I realized that my day-to-day work and life would probably keep me from ever finishing my book. That’s when I was offered the chance to buy a gym.
I got SO excited at the idea of owning my own gym that I threw caution to the wind and went in full throttle. I hired a really expensive business lawyer and educated myself and gathered information and was SO ready to start this new part of my life!!! In fact, I quit my job because I was positive this was going to be THE THING!!!
Turns out, it was not the thing. Ha! And I was left without the income I relied upon and without the dream gym and without a book and without a reason to go on living, etc etc etc, and other dramatic phrasing as well.

Then. One day shortly after losing the gym and leaving my job, it clicked.
I moved, and it worked.
I took risks that felt REALLY right, and despite the outcome not APPEARING to be what I thought it should be, I suddenly realized it was everything I prayed for.
Being an author allows me the chance to make tons of money, be fulfilled in my career, feel free, and have an adventurous, loving, healthy family. I moved and it resulted in a string of events that has led me here: it’s January, my husband’s business is doing so well that he can cover our bills and then some, and I now have the time and freedom to finish my book, publish it, and start the next one. I’m on the journey RIGHT NOW and it’s leading me toward the perfect life (as far as I define a “perfect life”). I’m in the middle of the route and it’s WORKING! I feel perfectly led to exactly where I’m supposed to be with absolutely no idea what “where I’m supposed to be” is or how it will all turn out.
What a delightful, horrifying concept.

But as Brene Brown says, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” I have complete faith that this path will continue to lead me to all the places I want to go, despite the fact that I have no proof it will work until I arrive. And in the everlasting words of the theologian Ludacris, “When I move, you move.”

Just like that.

Your New Year’s Resolution

Dear Friend,

Hiya.

You might call me God. Or maybe the Universe. I might be your Higher Power or The Mother. Maybe, to you, I’m a Goddess or The Creator or The Source.
If you don’t call me by any of those names, then you likely know me as “a coincidence.”
Either way, there’s no judgement here. I just wanted to say hi.

I wanted to mention that you’re here to enjoy yourself. You’ve got the chance to seriously love life, if you want to take that chance. (And it is a chance.) It all feels very risky; I know. It feels like it’s all or nothing, or maybe like it could possibly go wrong. It feels like you might be labelled a “sell-out” or a dreamer or a loser. For the short time you’re here, those things are a big deal. That’s why it’s really, really, really hard to believe that taking that risk that feels so right (but, if it isn’t, could potentially ruin your entire life) is worth it. Easier to just stay still. Fewer projectiles at risk of hitting you when you stay still.
Good news, though. This isn’t a “jump and everything will work out” message. You can jump, but everything might not work out. Not at first. You could jump and everything could fall apart and take a year to put back together. (That’s a skin-your-knee lesson.) Still, though. Jump.
You could also spend some time preparing yourself for the jump. Get a nice parachute, a delightful instructor with years of experience, and plenty of back-up plans. Did you know that preparing to jump is totally ok, too? (It doesn’t actually man that you didn’t “really want” it. It means you decided to limit your chances of failure first. Kinda smart.)

But the point of all of it is to love your life. And you can. You can literally love everything about it. Whether you prepare your brain and spirit for all of that loving first, or you just jump and deal with the fact that you’ll probably hit a few rocks on the way down, you can love it.

So lets get detailed:
Hate your job? That’s ok. Find a job you know you’d hate even more and you might like this one a little better. And while you’re in the business of learning to like your job a little bit better, you should look for another job and ask some friends about where they work and watch movies about people who do things differently from you and decide which parts of those movies you like. You won’t hate your job forever if you don’t keep it forever.
Hate your relationship? That’s ok. Watch a little Maury Povich and then find some things you can plainly see work well in your relationship (like maybe your partner doesn’t have any illegitimate children with other people?). Open a door for him/her. Pull out a chair. Cook a meal or pack a lunch. You might find out you don’t actually hate your relationship…you just hate the way it’s been lately. Or, maybe you do hate it. In that case, feel free to leave it. Or go on Maury.
Hate your dwelling? Definitely move. Don’t listen to them when they tell you it’s a “bad market” or “not good timing.” They don’t get to decide when it is good for you. If you can’t find another place, keep looking. You’ll know it when you see it.

It doesn’t matter what you aren’t loving about life right now. It can all change. Just decide to change it and then don’t panic when it doesn’t change tomorrow. (It probably won’t.)

One last thing – 2018 isn’t “your year.” It’s not the turning point or the new beginning or the perfect time. You get to pick all that stuff whenever you want. But picking it now would be the best time ever.

Resolve to believe you can and should be your version of happy all the time. Best resolution I can think of.

Love you,
God/Universe/Higher Power/The Mother/Goddess/The Creator/The Source/A Coincidental Blog

Showing Up

I spent 5 days in Las Vegas last week, breaking my own “no more than three days in Vegas” rule. I made that rule in my 20s, and now in my 30s, it’s a lot harder to get into trouble, so five days was totally doable.
When Bear and I grabbed a taxi from the airport to the hotel, my first question to our very cool cab driver was, “How’s Vegas? Where were you when it happened?”
He told me the story of being only a block away from Mandalay Bay that night, wondering what kind of sound he was hearing. He said it was too much, too fast to be gun shots. And when he realized it was, in fact, gun shots, he didn’t know what to do but get in his cab and drive around.
Eventually, he drove close enough to the chaos that he was able to use his cab to shuttle people away from the scene of the crime as Las Vegas went on lockdown. Instead of driving away from it all, he drove right into the mess and tried to help clean it up. He said the city was quiet, eerie, strange for a few days after that. But once the smoke cleared, he remarked on how resilient the city is. “We don’t back down. Vegas is our life and we weren’t going to sit down and wait for it to be safe again. We went back to work.”

If there’s one thing that my divorce and second marriage (creating a blended family) has taught me, it’s that you can’t run away if you want to grow. This past week, I ironically encountered a lot of people running away from discomfort. People saying their feelings were hurt, that they didn’t feel safe, they were offended…they ran in the other direction instead of running towards the discomfort like our taxi cab driver in Vegas did. And I realized that the brave ones are the ones who actually show up to sit in all the muck and messy life that is friendship and relationships and parenthood. They sit down and stay there until some of it gets cleaned up, and at least some of the rest of it gets acknowledged. It’s never a perfect story and it rarely ends in a crisp, clean happy ending. But showing up to the mess is probably the only way I’ve ever found to avoid running into that same mess again somewhere else. Cleaning it up feels like death, until it’s over and you realized you survived. Then it feels like victory.

Showing up sometimes looks like knowing when to say when. Sometimes it’s a white flag. Sometimes it’s a physical fight. Sometimes it’s a loud voice and curse words. Sometimes it’s . taxi cab driving towards gunshots in Vegas. There’s no formula, no single one way to show up in the face of discomfort. Not everyone is a hero and not everyone knows how to apologize, which is why we all get the opportunity over and over and over again to show up and learn all the different ways to run towards the chaos. Because the chaos gets a little less chaotic each time you do it. Sitting in the mess feels less…messy after a while.

I thought about it for hours after our cab ride: Would I drive my cab TOWARDS the gun shots? The answer, still, is a resounding no. Maybe in a year or two I’d be brave enough to consider it (if he even considered it before he did it). I tip my hat to Vegas (I don’t wear hats but you know what I mean) for being a city that ran towards the chaos and then went back to work. The metaphor in all that tragedy wasn’t lost on me.

 

MOVE

About a year and a half ago, I endured one of the most difficult time periods of my life. The week Bear and I got married, he was laid off. He also decided he wanted to start his own business in the construction field (a field he’d worked in for 18 years).
His business began in our living room over the summer. While both boys were home, and I struggled to make the mortgage and ALL the other expenses using just the money I made and our savings, he sat on the couch for 3 months with a laptop we paid for with a credit card. He wrote emails, bid jobs, create and built relationships, and set up lunch meetings with suppliers. On the days that he left the house, I’d stare at the coffee table covered in notepads and pens and pencils and cry.
Why?
Well, because when one loses a loved one or gets divorced, people show up. They bring food and comfort and love to you and cuddle you up in all their kindness to help you feel seen and understood.
When one sits on the edge of losing everything…well, there’s not really a protocol for that. They don’t send checks. They don’t bring cash over. They don’t cuddle you up in their savings accounts. They can’t, and even if they could, it would feel very strange both offering and accepting wire transfers from friends with notes like, “Good luck on the business, hope you don’t lose your house!!”

And so, we sat in what felt like a horrible, lonely, broke bubble for months while he got his business up and running, with no guarantee that it would ever make money.

Except that Bear always guarenteed that it would.
In fact, he never second-guessed his choice to go into business for himself.

It was during this time that I started focusing on prayer and manifestation. I had this idea that if I prayed and I focused and I visualized enough, our woes would come to an end, our bills would be paid, and our life would be comfortable again. Of course, we did not miss a meal and we were never late on a single payment, so it’s possible to say that my little manifestation project worked.

Except that while I was busy manifesting, Bear was busy on that grind.

His very first job started three months after he opened the business and on that faithful Monday morning it was over 100 degrees outside…and Bear woke up with the flu. Being that he was his only employee, he had no choice but to get out there and snot his way through it. He completed the job over the course of three, awful days (luckily the job was at a drug store so he could just walk inside and buy more medicine) and about 45 days later we received our first check. The first slice of income.
But during those 45 days, Bear landed his second, third, and fourth jobs…

And as the jobs rolled in, he rolled out. Everyday. Building. Working. Talking. Shmoozing. In the field. On the laptop. On the phone. He never stopped grinding.

It has come to my attention in the past few weeks that my manifestation project is lovely, but utterly worthless without a grind. You have to have both, faith and movement. One foot in front of the other does nothing without an ultimate goal, and a beautiful vision board is meaningless if you sit at home staring at it while you sip tea and wait on Oprah to call. (That last part may not apply you, but I definitely want Oprah to call.) So I’m taking steps with all those beautiful dreams in mind. And soon, I’ll be able to make some kinda stinking awesome announcements about where my steps are leading me. The Universe and I are singing an amazing duet of “When I move you move (just like that?).” It’s so amazing what happens when you focus, get clear on your dream, and then MOVE.

By the way, Bear’s business is successful beyond even what HE imagined it would be. He’s still grinding every single day, out there, and he’s still dreaming about how much bigger it can be…

Stormy

My husband bought a boat.

It came as only somewhat of a surprise to me the day it went down. You see, when he met me, he turned his every thought, every focus to ME. Everything he did was for or with me. And when he “got” me, his focus began to even out.
What I’m saying is…it’s not like I didn’t go into our marriage knowing about his ability to obsess.
He’d been flipping through boat brochures non-stop for a month. He talked about boats incessantly. He asked me a hundred questions about what I wanted in a boat. He tried to purchase one in particular but the financing fell through (apparently it’s difficult to finance a boat when you own your own business?!) and, yet, the obsession was not quelled. Not even a little.
Then one day at a oyster roast downtown we came upon…you guessed it…a boat show. We walked around for a while, had some oysters, listened to music, and on our way out he bought a boat.
I’m not kidding. Just like that. That’s how it happened.

It took almost 2 weeks to actually get said boat and when he did, it was delivered in the middle of a rain storm. The next night, our first boat date, it poured again. The third day, our boys were both home. The sun was shining. The water was flat. And we scooted on down the river to a great seafood joint on the water. Finally, perfect boating weather and his dream come true: taking our family on the boat to dinner.
The boys immediately took off to play the ring toss and find other little adventures on the dock while we ordered drinks on the deck of the restaurant. Boat-type drinks.
We all sat at the table a little while later waiting for our food when my husband started to cry.
I’m not kidding. Just like that. That’s how it happened.
No warning. No trigger. The boat was fine. I was fine. The boys were focused on other things. I said his name, completely confused, and finally he whispered across the table, “Stormy is being moved to hospice.”
Oh. 
He continued to cry for a while, right there at the dinner table; even while our food was being delivered. He cried a little bit after dinner, too. I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t even sitting next to him so I couldn’t put my arm around him. Abe said that he hoped Bear felt better in between drawing an elephant and the new boat, and Cub leaned his head on him. It started to rain. Really hard.
We took a long, wet, cold boat ride back home. And that night Bear told me he wanted to go visit her.

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t know Stormy? At all?

When Bear was young, late teens, he met a girl. He liked this girl. Lots. And she liked him back. They were friends for a while until dating officially commenced. Then he met her family.
I didn’t know about his relationship with her family. (I really didn’t know much about his relationship with her because it was 20 years ago.) I’d heard him talk about her and them, how he needs to visit her family more often, but I didn’t realize how much love was there. How could I? I’ve only been in the picture for three and a half years.

I also didn’t know was how close Bear was to his the girl’s sister, Stormy, and how he played a huge role in her kids’ lives. He described himself as their “big brother” and told me stories before of how they were always climbing him and asking him to play soccer outside (and he did). I had not a clue about why this change in Stormy’s health was such a gut-punch for him or why he kept murmuring, “Those babies. My poor babies,” on the dinner deck.

Being the amazing wife that I am, I suggested we go up together to see Stormy in hospice.

I also immediately regretted this suggestion after I made it.

Bear eventually got engaged to his girlfriend and lived with her family for almost 7 years. That meant I would be walking into a room with a family of people I don’t know and an ex-fiance whose HEART he broke who undoubtedly had since healed but I mean geez and also a woman whose health is in tremendous peril who I’d never met but was visiting in hospice and then I’d just be sitting there for hours trying to remember who was who and praying to God that there was no drama for my being his wife and this being his ex-fiance’s sister…my brain became a run-on sentence.
But I know my husband’s ability to obsess. I know what it would have done to his focus if he went the rest of his life having never said goodbye to Stormy (if this was, in fact, goodbye) and how he would feel if I never met her. I hopped in the truck for the 6-hour drive up to Atlanta and said little of my concerns because, as much as it’s hard to believe, not everything is about me and OH MY GOD THIS IS SO WEIRD AND UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ME.

Here’s the thing, though: When we arrived at the hospice center, we walked into a little blue and tan room where two red-headed women (the cousins) greeted me like I was their long-lost family member. One almost-regal woman, Stormy’s mom, hugged me extra-long. Another young woman with dishwater blonde hair hugged me like it was a PLEASURE for her that I’d arrived. And Stormy. Stormy sat up in bed and called my name. She seemed to barely open her mouth and her voice was raspy, but my name was clear. “Yes!” I rushed to her bedside, feeling like I was in a small tornado of southern women, and she hugged me. I mean really, really hugged me. The tornado stopped. When she finally pulled away she grabbed my hands in hers and said, “Your writing. I love your writing. And your videos. And I just love your blog. You’re so wonderful and inspirational and I’m so glad you’re here!”

Keep in mind – this woman is in hospice hooked up to machines and fighting for her life, has never met me, and she’s telling me she loves my blog.

It was everything I had to keep it together and we’d just walked in the door.

Bear held her hands and chuckled with her when she was able to, and fed her ice chips when she asked for them, and stroked her hair. Occasionally she’d ask him a question, or she’d just stare at him and smile and he ask, “Need anything, darlin’?” And she wouldn’t answer. Just smile or go back to sleep.

I sat next to her daughter, the dishwater blonde, and listened to the other women in the room. They joked and quipped with each other in such a traditional southern style you’d have thought we were INSIDE Steel Magnolias.
“Has her skin always been that perfect?” I asked.
“ALWAYS,” her mama said. “She always had that beautiful skin. I think she wants ice chips, Bear…”
But it was the stories the women told about “Bear did this with Stormy’s kids” and “Remember when Bear took Stormy’s kids to the…” and “Remember the condo in Panama City Beach” and “Oh, that one trip we took to Disney World…” I listened for hours to these stories. It painted a whole new side of the picture of a man I thought I knew. I had no idea that little dishwater blonde depended so heavily on Bear as a male figure. I had no idea he had this whole other family who loved him so tremendously. I…I just had no idea.
Bear fed her ice chips while her mama watched. After a few moments she whispered, “Can you believe this is our Stormy?” Bear shook his head.

We sat in the room, trading chairs and stories in between long, silent moments when we all seemed to remember why we were there simultaneously.

“Erin,” Stormy whispered. I jumped to attention and grabbed her hands. This didn’t feel like a woman I’d never met. “You’re an angel. An angel from heaven. A diamond. Take care of him the way he helped me take care of my kids. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Promise me.”
I stared into her glassy eyes before I answered because I didn’t want my voice to crack.
“I promise you.”
I think she went on to say something about having no place to park her airplane. But she also told me I could wear any of the dresses in her closet. The medications she was on began to take effect and she dozed off.
When we left that night, we stopped in the parking lot to cry. Both of us. He for this woman who meant so much to him, and me for this woman who now meant so much to me.

We drove back to the hospice center the next morning to spend a better part of the day before driving home. Stormy was sleeping, her daughter perched in the seat next to her, the women in their chairs where they were the night before. Stormy opened one eye whenever she heard Ryan’s voice.
People I didn’t know filed in and out to see Stormy. I could tell the people who were there to offer their energy and love to her and those who were just visiting to say they did – simply by the way Stormy reacted. Obviously, her reactions weren’t grandiose in any occasion, but she seemed warm and tried to smile when she noticed people visiting because they were lifting her spirits with love. The ones who weren’t didn’t seem quite worth waking up for, let alone conjuring up a memory to share before the visitor walked away 15 minutes later (and they all left after 15 minutes).

Stormy’s dad came in that day, too. He was short, grey, wrinkly, and full of spunk, I could tell. He played a major male role in Bear’s life, too. He got him a job, fished with him, did projects around the house with him…he smiled a very genuine smile when he saw Bear and gave him a long, hard hug. He gave me a hearty squeeze as well. I was really getting a sense, at this point, of where Bear learned so much of what he knows by seeing all these puzzle pieces come together.

Her doctor paid a visit just before lunch. She couldn’t have been more than 40 years old, but looked 20 on account of her porcelain skin and long, light brown hair. Her huge, southern blue eyes dropped when she saw Stormy. She walked to her bedside and told Stormy she had to get better so she could come back to the office and have some more “appointment parties.” Stormy smiled and held her hands. When the doctor stood up and thanked the family for letting her visit, Stormy attempted to give the doctor a hug. She leaned back down to oblige…and she couldn’t hold it together anymore. She wept the kind of tears the look like they hurt coming out. She got down into Stormy’s face. “Stormy. You’re going to be ok, honey, ok? You’re going to keep fighting. I love you Stormy. You can do this.” I think we all cried watching this doctor give what felt like a pep talk.

It was after lunch when Bear suggested it was probably time to head back. I began hugging the people in the room, one by one, and when I got to Stormy, Bear stood next to her bed with his head on her pillow. She wasn’t awake and I told him to wake her, that he’d regret not waking her.
“Stormy, honey. It’s me. I’m leavin’ now.”
She opened her eyes and sat up immediately. She hugged him so tightly and told him how much she loved him. When she noticed me on the other side of the bed, she hugged me. I hugged her as long as she’d let me, and I didn’t let go first. I tried not to cry because it felt wrong to cry when it wasn’t me in the bed. I gently laid her back down when she pulled away, and I kissed her cheeks again and again. She held my hands to her chest and wouldn’t let go, not even when she began to fall asleep. Bear stood arm in arm with Stormy’s daddy, tears streaming down his face.
“It just don’t make no sense, do it?” Stormy’s dad asked.
“No. No it doesn’t,” Bear sniffled.
We hugged everyone else a few more times before we made the 6-hour drive back home. We hadn’t even been in Atlanta a full 24 hours and we were leaving. We drove home and both went back to work.

I’m not kidding.
Just like that.
That’s how it happened.

 

Epilogue
Stormy is still in hospice. I’m reluctant to share more than that as I wouldn’t want to share details her family prefers remain private, but it’s been a harrowing six months for Stormy. I’m just praying everyday that she keeps fighting to be here with us. I haven’t gotten enough time with her yet. She is fun and smart and bossy and amazing. I really, really love her.
If you’re the praying-type or the good thoughts-type, please send all of those to her and her family. They deserve nothing less than a miracle and I’m fervently devoted to that miracle. I believe it can happen. Like Stormy’s mom said, “I don’t need to know how. I don’t need the doctors to know how. I just need her to get up and come home.”

 

 

 

 

 

Your Puzzle

Ooooh I’ve been noticing a lot of different realities lately. But more than that, I’ve seen a lot of realities pronouncing that their realities are the greatest realities. And that no one else should even CONSIDER living a reality different from the one that’s the RIGHT reality and we should go put all these bad realities over here and call them names and blame them for things.

locked-ball-puzzleDid you know that you literally create your own reality? You are living your own creations all the time. If you were raised in an abusive home, you might be living a creation of defensiveness or victimhood. If you experienced several terrible and painful break ups, you might be living a creation of unlovable or “never again!” OR. You might choose to put your pieces together in a way that slowly creates something nicer.
Your pieces give you a point of view that is ALL your own. Your very own, one-of-a-kind, life perspective that we’ll call your puzzle. And you are not required to believe, understand, or agree with anyone else’s reality! Just yours.

I think that might be where we get stuck the most. We’re allowed to create any reality we want rubix_cubeout of the pieces we’ve been given, but once we DO, we think some of those other people ought to create the same or similar realities because ours is right and it works. It must be. It HAS to be. This reality of yours, it is SOOOOOO right to you. You have figured out the answers in your own life and they APPLY to everyone else’s because look at you! You figured it out!
But we all don’t have your pieces. We all have different pieces. And we keep trying to get our pieces to fit together like yours so you’ll like us or so you’ll hire us or so you’ll hug us. Except that we can’t because our pieces won’t ever be your pieces. You spend your time trying to tell us how our puzzle should look like yours, and when we can’t do it (because we were never meant to in the first place) we feel ashamed, unworthy, like losers.

What. If.

What if my puzzle and my pieces allow me to create the most beautiful reality all my own and I get to choose to live in it no matter what you do with your pieces? What if my way is different from yours, my thoughts, opinions, ideas, what if it’s all different from yours? And what if…now take a deep breath…what if neither of our completely different puzzles is wrong? Even though you think his puzzle is intolerant and her puzzle is self-serving and their puzzles are all kinds of fucked up because “they smoke the weed!”…it might be, just maybe, that they are here to live their own puzzles. Not yours.

vintage-puzzle-pieces_23-2147498962(Even better, what if my puzzle isn’t finished? You’re yelling at me for the way it looks, but my puzzle isn’t even finished yet. If you backed off and let me finish my puzzle in peace I just might agree with you anyway!)

Look at your own puzzle. Are you building it the way that makes you happiest? I’m not saying quit your job and go after that invention you once considered in the shower. I’m saying it’s a process, like building anything is. Stop looking at everyone else’s puzzle and just look at your own. Do you want to have more friends? Different cars? A better price for cable? Are you dying to go on vacation or have a date night once a week with your partner? Look at your puzzle, what’s working and what’s not working, and then slowly move the pieces around and find ways to fit them together to make the most beautiful reality you can think of a little bit at a time. As you do, I’ll do the same with my puzzle and I won’t even look at yours; not even if we meet for lunch.

If we all did that, just focused on being happy, we might find that other peoples’ realities didn’t matter near as much and we could spend far less time comparing.

 

 

 

 

Throw a Party Instead

I had an extra 20 minutes today and decided to treat myself to a car wash. A real one where you drive up and actual people take the care to wash your car with their hands. I pulled into the parking lot and quickly realized I was seventh in line just to get out of my car and hand over the keys. Someone swiftly pulled in behind me, so there was no changing my mind. I was stuck. I had to sit in my car and wait.
For a split second I got frustrated about the amount of time this was going to waste. I started scanning my house thinking of work to be done, laundry in the washer, are the dogs lonely? As I slowly inched my car forward, though, I decided to spend the time daydreaming instead of panicking. I looked at things on Pinterest. On Amazon. I dreamed about winning the lottery. It ended up being a lovely 20 minutes waiting to get out of the car.

I got out of the car and walked across the parking lot to the area where people were working hard to dry and detail cars already at the end of the line. I sat and watched them playing frogger across the lanes of cars, bouncing from one to the next, each with their own specialty: tire shine, drying with special cloths, detailing the windows. I saw a young man crouch down next to the car in front of me and begin cleaning them with a small brush. An older woman who also worked there walked up next to him and began complaining. I only caught part of her complaints, but her body language made it clear she was displeased with where they’d been put to work that day: on the tires. She spoke clearly, but not loudly. Her facial expressions indicated to me that she had no trouble communicating, and her tight, blonde pony tail looked barely-salvaged from too much bleach. “It’s not fair,” she said, pointing her rag at the tire he was cleaning. As she hovered over him, she continued her quiet ranting while he remained focused, not looking up.
I wondered how she got this job, or how she ended up with this job. I wondered about her past and if she was a mom trying to bring home an income or a former felon just trying to get back on her feet (or likely somewhere in between). What happened to make her so angry and so bitter? Why did she feel like such a victim?
Soon, a manager called her to a different car. My eyes followed her. She walked to the next car and began her conversation again, this time with a few woman standing near the back of an SUV with rags and spray bottles. She reached down to clean a tire and stood back up to finish a sentence. Her manager seemed to catch up and continued refocusing her until she finally began cleaning one of the cars.

My car crawled down the lane and made it to the finish line in time for someone to shout, “Black Mini Cooper?!” (That’s me.) I stood up and raised my hand, walking toward my car.

A young, black man stood like a tree compared to me in front of my car. I could tell immediately something wasn’t quite right about him. Perhaps he had a brain injury or a speech impediment. His smile suggested maybe he’d even had a stroke at one point. An older black man, shorter, stood next to him. It felt like he was the younger man’s keeper, or maybe his father. They were waiting for me to show them my receipt, which I pulled from my pocket with a smile.
“Black Mini Cooper?” the taller man asked me. His words came out slowly. I held my receipt in the air. “You?” he asked.
“Me!” I smiled.
“Black Mini Cooper!” he announced, “You’re the next contestant on ‘Your Car’s Clean!'”
I laughed and jumped up and down like I’d just won a prize. He cheered and took the receipt from my hand and waived it around while the older man next to him chuckled a wise chuckle and opened my door. This entire experience took 15 seconds, but it made up for waiting almost an hour in the middle of a busy day to get my car washed. As I got to my car door I turned around and high-fived both them men and thanked them for the fun. They both smiled and leaned down to my window once I closed the door to say goodbye.

Both the older woman with the blonde pony tail and the young man who may have experienced some kind of physical trauma in his life were working at the same car wash. One of them complained, found inequities, pointed out the problems. The other worked so quietly and fervently that I didn’t see him until he literally celebrated my arrival at my own car.
One was a victim of her circumstances.
One was throwing a party.
Both were in the exact same place on the exact same day doing the exact same thing.

eb46456cce98b0b5b28e7dc2d798ca62You have a choice to be a victim of your circumstance; and you have a choice to throw a party. You want something different (a different person, a different job, a different house, a different anything) because you think you will be happier in the having of that thing. But wherever you go and whatever changes in your life, you will still be there. You are the only common denominator.
“Yeah, but, my situation is DIFFERENT because…”
No. It’s not. You cannot change your experience overnight, but you can learn to create the positive aspects of it now. Right now.
I focus/struggle to keep an eye on the positive aspects everyday, too. It’s not a destination. I haven’t arrived at “positive aspects.” I practice it. And slowly, the parts of my life I don’t like…change. Almost like magic sometimes.

Find a way to throw a party tomorrow, people. Even at the car wash.


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Actual Vulnerability


I finished Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior. I heard women saying this book was “life-changing”, “eye-opening”, “soul-splitting.”
It takes a lot to change my life, open my eyes, and/or split my soul.

Damnit. This book really did it.

Glennon (we’re on a first name basis) blew me away with her RAW honesty, but even more, her VOICE. She writes in a voice that I hear in my head. It’s my voice. It’s probably your voice, too. I feel like I’ve said so much of her writing so many times. Holy wow. She’s everyone’s sister. And she’s encouraging all of us to show up and just be real.

She does this thing with vulnerability, though, that made me see that word in a whole new way. I used to work for people who touted vulnerability like a badge of honor. It was this new and sexy idea: without splitting open your inner most stories and exposing them to the world, you’re not being vulnerable; you’re not doing the work that creates real change. I could never figure out why I went along with it but didn’t believe it. On the surface, it makes total sense. If you sit down and share a vulnerable moment with a friend/family member/partner, you almost immediately feel closer and more connected. Right?

I heard an interview with author Don Miller once, and he said, “Vulnerability opens pathways, but only when it’s sincere. People can smell fake vulnerability a mile away.”

That’s why I never bought it. Because that vulnerability was manufactured, pulled thin from the giant cotton ball and wrapped around a shiny, plastic spool. Neat, deliverable package. But the intention was questionable. It was a costume. It was a highlight reel. It was presented as vulnerability, but really it was a completely safe share.

I’ve known so, so many people who’ve started oversharing, like that’s going to make us close. I’ve met people who use vulnerability as a weapon: they appear authentic but you’re left feeling icky and manipulated. Neither of these is actual vulnerability, because the real thing is more than just uncomfortable.
It’s terrifying.
It’s going after something you want knowing you could lose more than just the opportunity.
It’s putting it all in the pot without a promise you’ll get anything out.
It’s trusting another soul with your fear.
It’s an honest reveal, a true and unmotivated step towards REAL.
It’s with the intention of service and growth.

Glennon didn’t write a soul-bearing book to sell copies. She didn’t do it to make the New York Times best seller list. She shared her story in hopes that it would serve, help, and reveal truth in others. That is the very reason she sold a bunch of copies and made the NYT best seller list.

Her story illuminated massive truths within me that I hadn’t known were there (and some I’d conveniently forgotten). Truths like:
There is no finish line.
There is no perfect.
There is no cure for pain outside of walking through it.
There is no simple fix (except for macaroni. Macaroni fixes a lot…)

 

And the biggest reminder: No is OK.

That’s how I know her intention: she changed my life with her vulnerability. I both love her and hate her for it, ‘cuz now I can’t unknow what she taught me. Another layer of the onion…

 

Things I Love

imagesSometimes I forget to think about what makes me happy. I spend day after day doing things for other people. So do you, more than likely, if you’re a mom/wife/woman. It’s in our DNA. We don’t mean to completely forget to think about what WE love, and when we remember it’s usually when we get a manicure or a haircut. That stuff is all great, but it’s predictable. We don’t think about the simple things we love (unless it’s our children…when they’re sleeping). We forget to notice what makes us smile. I’m going to start to remember. Here’s my first list:

I love seeing people smile while they’re driving, especially when I have no idea why.

I love surprises. Real, honest surprises.

I love seeing people with problems who try to solve them.

I love watching kids’ faces change when they recognize their parents’ car in the car pool line.

I love the way my dogs wiggle when I get home.

I love laughing so loudly that it’s inappropriate in public.

I love friends who send me random jokes or memes.

I love getting a manicure when no one talks to me, including the manicurist.

I love reading a super juicy book in bed.

I love imagining what my daughter would look like if I had her.

I love watching people get married.

I love when I get my eyebrows right.

I love mowing the lawn. I just do. I can’t explain it.

I love cooking dinner when I go to the grocery store to buy the exact, perfect ingredients.

I love flowers. Wild ones. Ones that people buy me. All of ’em.

I love when a stranger looks me in the eye, smiles, and says hello.

I love watching TV shows about love. Reality TV. Comedies. Dramas. Not movies. TV shows.

I love singing along with Bruno Mars songs and pretending I’m at a big party with a bunch of people who cannot beLIEVE how much I sound like him.

I love finding a craft on Pinterest and devoting an entire Sunday to it.

I love organizing everything.

I love traveling alone and listening to books or podcasts.

I love finding a quote that I feel like I could have said myself.

I love remembering what I love.

 

 

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