November 2016 archive

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.

If you haven’t joined us yet, please request an add to Mind, Body, Peas on Facebook; a place where we share laughs, losses, and everyday life. 

Mind, Body, Peas

What-If Monsters are the worst.

They keep me from doing the things I want to do and deter me from taking big steps. I’ve wanted to start my own business. I’ve wanted to be a woman who makes a living with honesty and integrity. I’ve wanted financial stability. And I’ve wanted to enjoy a life of truth and joy and service and freedom.

^All of that and more for a long time. And no clue how to do it.^

I often take baby steps in the direction of the things that I want and then I back up because WHAT IF. What if it fails? What if I put my whole self in and the hokey pokey turns to hell? What if people think I’m an unqualified crazy idiot for thinking I could do THAT. I’ve heard other people share their fears, and then I’ve heard them share their victory stories. The people who never fought the What-If Monsters don’t yet have victory stories to share…

I want a victory story.

The other question then becomes: What if it’s awesome?
Could I turn my What-If Monster into a What-If Fairy?

What if I step out into the world and shine my light with reckless abandon and people like it? What if no one likes it and I still feel awesome? What if I find myself, my true passion, my inner fire from putting myself out there?

What if this is the greatest first-step I’ve ever taken?

I’m going to do it, starting today. I’m starting a place for EVERYONE to share life, the real true-blue life. We live in a situation-comedy (if we choose to see it that way) and yet we only see the highlight reels when we open our regular Facebook feeds and witness the “I’m-Fine” smiles in the grocery store. Let’s look for the good, but be honest about the bad. Let’s find ways to encourage each other, but be real with each other. And let’s even create a space where all you have to do is watch (and maybe thumbs up) if sharing is far too uncomfortable for you. No pretense. There are no rules because this isn’t “a thing” yet. I’m making a thing. A thing I’ve always wanted to make.

And I don’t know what the thing is.

But I’m so driven to create this thing that I’m physically unable to stop it from happening. I’m holding my breath. It will inevitably contain my greatest successes and my greatest failures. That makes me sweaty. I pushed “publish” and now you’re invited. What am I doing. (I have no idea.)

Fuck you, What-If Monsters. I don’t have to know what it is to know I’m excited to shine a light and invite the What-If Fairies to dinner.

Welcome to Mind, Body, Peas.
(Click here. Like the page. Invite your friends. It’s for everyone.)


The Real Real Real Real Real Truth

therealtruth-1I got a phone call the other night. I got a phone call I was not at all expecting. The election results were rolling in like tumbleweeds made out of steel wool and I left the TV off to pretend like I couldn’t see what was happening.

I got a phone call.

The phone call was from an ex, a man I saw briefly but fiercely in the midst of my divorce. In all my brokenness, all my confusion and pain, he was a flickering focus. Some days it seemed he’d drive miles for me. Other days I was hardly worth a text message. He came to take from my spirit what his spirit needed without much attempt at returning the favor; and I was perfectly ok with that. I never once disagreed with that logic, or really ever felt badly about it. Even today.
Removing myself from his life as I began to step over the Divorce Mountain into the valley of New World below was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’d become a safety rope for me while I climbed. I could always rely on him to not quite be there, making me stronger and stronger to climb alone.

But when I reached the top, I mourned. I felt such emptiness letting go of the rope I never even needed. That rope was my friend. My security blanket. I wanted to climb back down and get it.

My best friend gave me a chip, similar to one you’d get in an AA meeting. She told me that this was my Him Chip. She said that if I called him, texted him, or Facebooked him, I had to give her the chip back and start over.

I didn’t want to give her the chip back.

And I never did. Almost 3 years later I still had the chip up until a few weeks ago when I decided to pass it on to a girlfriend who, herself, needed a Him Chip.

The thoughts raced through my mind faster than I could click the answer button:
He wants me back and I’m happily married so HA!
He’s lonely and hopes we can be friends because he’s finally alienated everyone good in his life.
He needs money.
He is visiting Jacksonville and wants to know a good place to eat?!

I wasn’t sure if this counted as a chip-infraction to my best friend, but I answered the phone. I answered the phone out of curiosity for what he or his unwitting back pocket could possibly have to say to me. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t scared. I was present.

After a few short pleasantries, my Truth Monster came out and blankly asked what in the world he wanted. His answer was something like this:
“I spent a lot of my life engaging in self-serving activities. I used and abused a lot of people in many different ways to get what I thought would make me feel good with no regard for how it made them feel. I focused solely on what I could get out of people, and I think that you may be a person in my past who fell into that category. I wanted to see if this might have been your experience with me and, if it was, I want to apologize.”

Deep breath.

Have you ever felt the simultaneous rise of the consciousness in all people all at once, starting in your lower intestine and moving up through your chest and out of your body like rays of sunshine?
I have.
In that moment, I felt the rays of sunshine truth.

Having a quite human brain, I of course turned my thinking towards a less romantic motivation. I tried to understand why he was saying this, what he wanted. I dug and dug but couldn’t find any secret agenda other than the truest and sincerest of hearts. He spoke, he listened, he apologized. And just like that, the circle was complete.

It is intensely rare to have a moment of completion this complete. I’d stopped chasing completion years ago, and even forgave it for being open-ended. I allowed it to stay that way, all frayed and dirty at the ends, with my blessing. What I remembered during this conversation is that telling the truth, the real real real real real truth, can have dire consequences.
It can also spin a life on a dime. It can close the circle. It can heal where you didn’t even know you needed healing.
“The truth will set you free,” is the greatest cliche on the planet, sitting atop a giant pile of other discarded, over-used cliches that everyone is sick to death of hearing. We tossed it because in hearing the promise of freedom, many of us started spouting our truths. With a goal of freedom, we over-share, we share with an agenda, we share to make ourselves feel better. But sharing the real real real real real real truth isn’t something you can do in a Facebook rant or a single apology sticky note. The truth will only set you free if in so telling the truth you’re authentically ready to clean up your life and take responsibility for its direction. And that’s scary. So many of us (including myself) have tried to outsmart the truth by telling just enough of it to earn the accolades and the Truth Trophy, but not enough to actually achieve the freedom it promises.

Our conversation ended with a nebulous agreement to remain friends, and even an invitation extended towards my husband and me for dinner. When I hung up my phone I literally clung to the pillow and blanket respectively on each side of me and breathed, as if a mighty wind was blowing away beliefs I’d always held. If this broken man can change, literally anyone can change. No one is stuck being the same forever. But if you’re going to make the change, you have take responsibility, move forward, and tell the real real real real real truth. And sometimes fill up a great, big old bucket of full humility…and apologize.

No matter what is happening in your life, in our country, in your relationships, do not underestimate the human capacity for change.
It can happen.
Do your work.
Tell the truth.

A Disjointed, Complete and Total RANT (and not for the reason you think)

dribble_stop_makingI had to turn off my Facebook feed today, and not for the reason you think.
I woke up to the news and also to the hate. Hate coming out of the mouths of people who have been preaching love. Hate for those who voted for Trump. Hate for those who voted for Hillary. Hate for those who voted for a third-party. You blame people. You celebrate by high-fiving people in the face. You grieve by refusing to be friends anymore.

Go ahead. Have your freak out. Be upset. But even my six-year-old is required to use kind words when he loses.
I know you’re scared. I know you’re angry. I know you’re happy. I know you’re celebrating. I know you’re confused. I know that’s where all your reactionary behavior comes from. I get it. But stop it. It’s not helping.

Take. A. Deep. Breath.

Your only option is to love. Truly love yourself. (If you don’t know how to do that, it’s time to learn.) Because it is only in the loving of yourself that you’ll feel safe enough to let other people have opinions different from yours. You’ll feel safe that your lack of control over them or your circumstances does not limit the control you have over your own choices.
You have the choice to be kind.
Opinions and ideas are your right, but if you choose to share them, then you have opened a reciprocal door giving others the same right.
You want to “fight”.
You want to “show them”.
You want to give the middle finger to the other voters.
You want to HATE them.
And you can. You can do all that.
But don’t expect to get love back when that’s what you share. It’s not how Universal Law works.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
I keep seeing people ask, “What will I tell my children?!”
What will you tell your children?!
You will tell them that you love them! You will tell them how to love others! You will tell them everything you were telling them just yesterday. You will tell them that in the wake of your perceived injustice, or your perceived win, you will still choose to be kind. You can still choose love.

Love doesn’t just apply to your opinion.

You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be unkind. We live in a country that makes it possible for you to be both of those things, freely. But you cannot expect to be those things and then receive love in return. You won’t.

We live in an amazing country during an amazing time. We are chock full of change-makers and love-givers and progress. They’re all still here. It didn’t suddenly change overnight. The world is the same: some horrors and some miracles, every. single. day.
Yesterday was ok.
Today will be, too.
Be kind.
(I love, accept, and cherish all people and opinions, both those I agree with and those I don’t. I want to understand you. I want to understand where you’re coming from. If you choose to comment with an opinion, I welcome it. But keep your tone gentle, and I will do the same.)

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.