Friday, July 26, 2013

My Me-Shine

This summer, we have developed a new nap-time routine.  My kids lay on either side of me on the big bed, and we each sing a song as we settle in.  My 5-year-old daughter sings all four verses of the Caspar Babypants version of "Baa Baa Black Sheep", my 3-year-old son sings the alphabet, and I sing our own variation of "You Are My Sunshine."

I have been singing that song to my children since before they were born.  I wanted something to sing to them, and as I wracked my brain, it is the best I could come up with.  Now, whenever they hear it they call it "Mommy's song." I am glad that I have given them something positive to associate with me.

My kids then tell me to sing it about different people, Daddy, Grandma, each gets to be a bit of a tongue-twister, but I do it.  They love the last line, where I say, for example, "Please don't take my Daddy-shine away!"

My daughter said to me earlier this week, "You need to add a verse about yourself!  We love you, so you need your own verse, too."

It took a bit for me to choke the words out through my own hesitations, but I made it through.  Each time they tell me to make sure I sing about myself.  It has grown into a real exercise in valuing myself and loving me as much as I do others:
I am my sunshine, my only sunshine.
I make me happy when skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear, how much I love me.
Please don't take my me-shine away.

At first it seems a bit narcissistic and awkward.  Granted, it is a bit silly.  But how often do I sing a love-song to myself?  If I struggle to see my own beauty and value enough to sing a silly song, how can I be serious about it?  Can I make me happy when skies are grey?  Are my internal resources close enough to mind for me to be the sunshine for my own soul?

I am thankful for my daughter for telling me to sing a song of love for myself.  She was really onto something, there.  How often do I forget to send my love inwards, as I am so intent on sending it out?

I am a good, decent and kind person.  There is nothing so awful about me to make me undeserving of love or beauty.  So, why do I find it so hard to love myself in general?  I've gone back up into my head, trying to convince myself that I deserve beauty, having let my focus away from the internal and deeper knowing of my own deservedness, power and beauty.  I thank my children for forcing me to look at it again.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Nine Years

Nine years ago today, I was in Northern Minnesota, marrying the man I had come to love, my best friend since the first day of freshman orientation in college.  We were married in the church where he grew up.  I was wearing the most beautiful dress I had ever seen, and my mother-in-law's veil. Family and friends came from far and wide, and the weather was just perfect.  It was a beautiful event on a beautiful day.

Today, I am in Western Washington, living a beautiful life with the same man: the man I have come to love even more deeply than that day long ago.

Two kids, four vehicles, an apartment, a mortgage, seven job-changes and an intentional "I love you" every day...and here we are.

It would be a lie to say that every moment has been wonderful, but the truth of the matter is that I would not want to spend my life with any other person.  We frustrate and annoy each other like no other human could.  We fill in where the other falls short, we knock each other's rough edges, and we *get* each other.  We have the ability to geek out like there's no tomorrow, and love each other because of it all.

Never once has my devotion to my husband, or commitment to our vows, or my desire to cherish our relationship ever wavered.  I know he feels the same.  We made a public promise, and we are both stubbornly true to our word.

I lead a blessed and loving life. The man who has chosen to remain by my side through thick and thin is a large part of it.  We are both working towards greater self-identity and spiritual awareness, working away from enmeshment and codependency.  As a result, we are healthier, happier and functioning higher on a daily basis.  It is a lot of work, and we both firmly believe it is worth it.

Happy Anniversary to the man I love, my best friend, my partner in life, the father of my children, the perfect match for my soul, a central feature in the beauty of my life.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Just This Moment

When Pope Francis was elected, I watched on TV.  I was so intrigued by the fact that so many people were recording on their phones and devices, I wondered if any of them were actually watching the event.  Of the thousands of people there, only a handful of them were actually there.  How often have I been so hard-set on getting a picture or video that I actually miss what is going on?

I realized it for myself when I was at the Children's Museum with my kids a while ago.  The theme was yellow rubber duckies, and there was a play pit full of them.  The kids were having a blast, rolling around and piling them up.  I had my phone out and was calling to them to look here, pose there, smile at me...and when I looked at the pictures later I realized I hadn't spent one second of the time simply watching them play or even playing along.  I couldn't even remember their laughter as they giggled in a pit of rubber ducks.

A bit after the fact, but still pretty cool.
This evening, the moon was rising over Mount Rainier in a phenomenal view.  It was just coming over the top, and as such the moon was enormous and almost full.  I started darting my attention around, trying to find a place to pull over and capture it.  There was a man on a motorcycle who was almost frantically trying to find a place to take a picture.  He would zoom past me, pull over, snap a shot, then zoom further down the road to take another shot.

I realized that in my desperation to take a picture, I was denying myself the enjoyment of this sight.  I took a breath and really let it sink in.  The moon was soft and nearly full, and appeared almost as wide as the top of the mountain.  It was extraordinary, like something you'd see in a National Geographic magazine, or a coffee table book.  True, having a picture to share on Facebook would be fun, but does the pursuit of the picture need to override the moment itself?

How annoyed am I that I missed one of Ichiro's final home-runs as a Mariner because I was trying so hard to get a picture of it?  It is an interesting mind-set to explore.  The great thing about the digital era is that I can take a thousand pictures of something and not be "wasteful".  But I wonder how much of my own life-experience I am missing because I'm trapping myself behind a lens.  How much of my children's joy am I genuinely missing because I'm so busy trying to capture photographic evidence?

I love taking pictures.  I love the challenge of figuring out how to frame a picture for maximum impact.  I love being able to capture a moment of beauty when it arises.  I need to find balance.  There is a beauty in balance, how much photo time I need to put in and how much time with my camera in the bag simply soaking up the energy of the moment.  My children won't remember all of the pictures I take, but they will remember if I was looking at them in person or through a viewfinder.  It is not often I see the full moon behind the mountain in such a breathtaking way, why not simply experience it?

That's it.  I need to clarify within myself when to capture beauty, and when to simply let it flow.  For now, I plan to practice observing and enjoying beauty, and letting some of the fleeting moments go.  They are fleeting for a reason.  The beauty is to be experienced and shared.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Little Hiccup

I haven't written in over a month, and I have missed it greatly.

This blog is a form of journal for me, a way to keep my thoughts straight and figure out what I'm thinking, feeling and learning along the way.

For a while now I have felt lost, a bit confused, and adrift.  My desire to be on a quest for beauty waned somewhat, and I lost sight of it.  Only this week, in conversation with a friend from my PTI, did I realize how much my focus on DESERVING beauty has waned.  I have been feeling weak, ugly, incapable and like a fraud.  It was too embarrassing to think about getting back to writing because I had fallen so far from my original intent.

Even though I know it is somewhat silly, I often find the messages in fortune cookies to be timely.  My favorite was the one I got on December 19, 2007 that said, "Welcome the change coming soon into your life."  I was 8 months pregnant at the time, and my daughter was born about 10 hours later.  That one is pasted in her baby book.

Yesterday, I got one that said, "Functioning superbly comes automatically to you."  I got to thinking about it, and decided it is more of a blessing than a fortune.  You know what?  I can function superbly.  This is encouraging to me.  I've been in a very rough spot, personally and spiritually, but I have been feeling a kind of up-swing this week.  I think I am ready to get back to having my eyes forward, practicing functioning superbly again.

I deserve to function superbly.  I deserve the beauty of functioning well.  I deserve feelings of gratitude for life and its challenges.  I deserve to be on the other side of this funk and get back to beauty.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Cheering Squad

This morning, I was nervous to spend a whole day with my kids alone.  My husband is working a Saturday shift, and I have really been struggling with feeling frazzled by my kids lately.  I went to bed last night determined that this would be a GOOD day.

I woke up early, before the kids and my husband.  I sat in the cool quiet downstairs and steeled myself for the day.  I wanted to have a good day and that would be it. The intentions were set, and that is how it was going to be.

It is fascinating how really setting my intentions can make something happen.  I dressed intelligently, and made sure to put on my standard jewelry, which often goes unused on "regular" days.  I put on my charm bracelet, my orange rhino bracelets, my silver necklace, my little earrings and my wedding band.  Decked out, I put on a nice shirt and even shaved my legs.  Starting the day with self-care and beautification really helps.

My friend was running the Sound to Narrows 12K in Tacoma.  She is the one who really got me ready and helped me stay inspired to run my first 5K, so I really wanted to show her our support. My 5-year-old and I made a sign, with the design and the lettering being entirely up to her.  Why not?  It's cute and a bit awkward, just what some fatigued runners may enjoy seeing along the way.

As the kids ate breakfast, I decided I would sit with them during the entire torturous process.  I was determined to enjoy them today, so I did.  It sounds forced, and sometimes felt that way, but it was my goal.

We made the drive to Tacoma, and I promptly got lost.  This was gonna be a good day, dang it, so I relaxed, took some deep breaths and asked for directions.  Long sections of road were closed off for the race, which had already begun, so I had to be creative.  We parked and walked...and walked...and walked...and I was completely lost.  There are a lot of roads and paths in the park.  I asked for directions, then found out that the man I asked didn't even speak English. Oh well.

The kids were starting to complain about being tired and having sore feet.  I was determined to have a good day, so I told them that we would rest when we found Kelly.  We could stop when we found the runners.  We kept our goal of finding the race at the forefront, and I just kept walking.  They stopped whining and kept up with me when they realized I wasn't stopping.  We got to a corner, and there the runners were!  We stood for a few minutes and then Kelly came into view.  She waved, we waved, we all cheered and did high-fives, and the other runners got big smiles on their faces.  Mission Accomplished!  Good day achieved!

Then I figured, since the runners are going in a big loop and we already have this awesome sign, why not catch Kelly at the other end?  So, after a bit more getting lost and asking for directions and being confused, we ended up walking along the back side of the zoo and seeing some buffalo (or maybe yaks?) and some peacocks along the back fence.  Spontaneous fun!  Mission Accomplished More!

We trudged and walked, the kids complained, and I promised snacks at our next stop.  I refused to let the complaining sink in...I let it go by me instead.  We found a corner at the other end, right before the last mile of straight uphill.  We got our sign ready, and I burned off some energy clapping and cheering for all the runners I saw.  They were on the home-stretch!  My daughter planted herself on the ground and waved at the runners.  There were so many smiles I lost count.  Kelly came around the bend and we cheered our heads off.  We stuck around a bit longer and cheered for more runners, really spreading the love.

I realized that in my determination to have a darn good day, I was energized and excited to love these strangers who were pushing themselves for the race.  I had good energy, and sharing it only made my energy stronger.  I felt a bit self-conscious for the first while that I was cheering and clapping, standing on a corner by the zoo parking lot, with two little kids rustling in the bushes.  Then as I got more into it, I remembered how much I loved having people clap for me in my race.  I gave it all I had just for them and I gained so much positivity it was fantastic.  Mission Accomplished Even More!

The kids finally got bored enough that we headed back to the main park.  I asked for directions from a police officer and immediately got lost again (don't judge:  Point Defiance Park is enormous!).  Thank goodness for GPS on my phone.  We walked until we found our bearings...and a duck pond!  We sat and ate granola bars, and talked about which ducks are boys or girls, why they dip under the water, what they eat and why we shouldn't give them our granola bars.  We wandered over to the bathrooms...and they were clean!  And my son's pants were accident-free!  Mission Accomplishment Reaching Maximum!

There is a huge fenced-in rose garden in the park, so the kids and I went in.  Being early June, they were all in their blooms of glory, and the kids ran around exclaiming over each and every blossom, sniffing and loving on the flowers. There was a fuschia test-garden, and then more roses.  I sat on a bench while the kids soaked up every blossom they could.  I wanted to take pictures, but then I decided to totally experience the fun instead.  Mission Experienced!

By this time our feet were sore and it was time to head home for lunch.  On the way back to the van, I realized that I was in a wonderful mood, the kids were doing great, and nobody had shouted or been angry once all morning.  We were tired, and all of us were a little cranky from it, but we were in good spirits.  Starting the day with strong intentions and a desire for a good day really made a difference.  Taking a little bit of time for myself to draw my mind to where I wanted it to be made the morning what it was.

I have control.  I can make it happen.  Once the momentum starts, it is easy to keep up.  Taking those few minutes to get myself in the mind-space I wanted got me off on the right foot.  I even asked my kids how they felt about the day, and they talked about watching ducks, cheering for Kelly, seeing buffalo and sniffing roses.  They don't even mention the "death-marches" or the twisty roads or the sore feet.  I think they took their cues from me and that was all it took.

There is a power to determined positivity.  It works, and it is self-perpetuating.  It just needs to be planted and watered and allowed to bloom.  Positivity is a choice, a choice that is not always easy or palatable.  Sometimes it feels forced, but ultimately it is worth it!

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Celebrating Imperfection

"I drive myself less crazy when I focus on the things I can control." --Love & Logic Facebook feed

I've been doing a lot of self-improvement this year.  For some reason, I have decided to embark on a journey of discovering self-love and improving the type of person I am.  This has been a difficult, often painful journey.  Just this morning I was thinking about it and wondering, "Why now?"  Am I getting wiser as I get older?  I'm not so old (unless you ask my kids) that I don't have a whole lot to learn.  

But in the past 6-8 months, improving my relationship with myself has been a top priority.

I think it really started when I went to a 3-day workshop called "Letting Go of What Has You" back in October.  For about 6 months prior to that I had been seeing a therapist for depression and general angst, and she encouraged me to attend.  I wasn't sure I wanted to, but she pushed hard enough that I did.  For this I am thankful, because it started me on a steeply uphill, but ultimately rewarding and life-changing journey.

As my journey has progressed, it seems that the tools for what I need just manifest themselves out of sincerity.  This is important to me, and because I am dedicated, everything I need is simply being made known with little to no effort on my own.

After the Letting Go Seminar, I attended PTI.  Out of that came a community I didn't realize I needed.  I already knew I was lonely, but hadn't realized how lonely I really was.  Friends like these only come along under rare and fortunate circumstances.  Honestly, the bonds formed after experiencing PTI are like none other I have ever known.

My home needed cleaning, and I found the courage to ask for help from my parents, then shortly after that, I re-discovered my Beauty Box.

As I gained momentum, my guilt and shame over some poor parenting habits came to the surface.  It was painful to work through them, and I really am making an effort.  It is really, really hard to be the kind of Mom I want to be.  I have had to work through and release some of my preconceived notions, and some of my own guilt.  With the internet right there, I had really spiraled myself into feeling like I was an utter and complete failure.  I was setting my standards based on what I was reading on Facebook, Pinterest and the blogs of the world.  How can I possibly measure up?  I must be a failure.

I'm not!!  I discovered Love&Logic parenting, Celebrate Calm and The Orange Rhino.  I now get their newsletters in my email, and I follow them on Facebook.  I don't need to be scolded about yelling, reminded how terrible TV is, or berated for thinking Otter Pops are a good snack.  I need to be reassured that parenting is hard, that being compassionate every second of the day is not humanly possible, and that it is okay to dust myself off, apologize to the kids, and try again.  A few tips for being successful for the next time are always welcome encouragement as well.

Then I started running.  I have discovered that I think I might like it.  The running just started really on its own, with encouragement from a friend.  The app I used was so easy, it tricked me into thinking I could do a 5K...and it was right. I still laugh when I think about it.  Okay, so it wasn't quite that easy, but it really was surprisingly less difficult to train for than I thought it would be.

So many opportunities for fine-tuning myself have shown up in the past few months.  I really wonder what the corner was that I turned, but I definitely like it.

I am working on being more forgiving of myself.  My imperfections are a part of me, they are who I am.  This doesn't mean that I can't polish them up a bit, maybe sand down a few rough spots.   This quest to recognize the beauty in my life is an adventure.  In simply celebrating my imperfections, recognizing what I can do to bolster them up, and having greater love for the little things, I am feeling lighter and cleaner.

Some parts are still pretty rough.  Housekeeping is such a drudgery and a challenge for me.  I recognize this about myself, but the next step is to have enough love for myself to refuse to be a victim.  I will not be a victim of a messy house, or my stubborn refusal to maintain it.  I will do what I need to do to have a pleasant, live-able space for my family...and I will get back up again when I fall.

Seeing others with compassion is something that has gotten easier for me this year, while having pride in myself and believing in my own power.  I was challenged by a colleague to transfer this to having compassion  for myself.  I really do feel like I am on track, and it is a beautiful thing!

Today, I celebrate imperfection and everything beautiful that entails. I celebrate my humanity, that I am dust, that my imperfection gives me opportunities for redemption in my relationships. Imperfection means I walk without the burden of the perfect answer, the perfect solution…because sometimes there isn't one. It relieves me of the compulsion to control people and situations. Imperfection allows grace and mercy to flood my life. Imperfection means right relationships are more important than right behavior. –Celebrate Calm

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, June 3, 2013

We Were All Sick

A very potent tummy bug hit my house at the end of last week.  This is not your standard tummy bug, no 24-hour ickiness.  It was horrendous.

To spare details, let's just say that everyone in my house has either been throwing up or cleaning up since Thursday evening, and I'm still lacking in appetite.  It hit me Saturday evening, and I spent all day Sunday feeling for all the world like I had malaria again...fever, headache, bone ache, sweats and chills, nausea...terrible.

Part of my journey is to seek the beauty in my every day life.  Some days it is easier than others.  I have not seen much obvious beauty in the past 5 days.  Here is my attempt to recognize the beauty that has made itself known during these dreadful several days:

  • Only one of us was sick at a time...and my husband didn't catch it at all.
  • Coffee grounds sprinkled generously on a spatter will absorb the mess and cover the smell, making it much easier to clean up.
  • Resolve Carpet Cleaner is a beautiful thing.  It's like an infomercial in a bottle.
  • My husband's trusty Shop-Vac got a hefty workout and never once quit or failed on us.
  • Swiffer Wet-Jet with refills.  'Nuff said. 
  • I stocked up on Gatorade a few months ago when it was really cheap.  I was able to just put it in the fridge from the pantry to have on hand, rather than having to run to the store.
  • My washer and dryer are work-horses.  They were going all weekend with sheets, blankets, clothes and jammies, and they never complained a bit.
  • Scented candles are my friend.
  • Lysol wipes get dried on ANYTHING off of ANYTHING.  So do Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.
  • Toddler mattresses are covered in plastic so when the diapers continuously fail at night or nap, clean-up is nowhere near as bad as it could have been.
  • Tylenol reduces fever so that this exhausted Mommy could rest at night.
  • Hot showers feel soooo good at the end of a day of fever 'n' ague.
  • We are all able-bodied and strong enough to withstand a long-weekend plague and come out ultimately unscathed on the other side.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, June 2, 2013


You know what's hard?  Hopscotch.  If you play it right, there are a lot of moving pieces involved!

There's the hopping bit, but also the tossing of the stone and picking it back up again on the way back!  You have to remember which square you are on, try not to step on the lines, pick up the rock without falling on your face, and survive the cardio. Drawing a relatively square hopscotch is pretty tough, too.

I was soundly beaten by my 5-year-old.  The kid is really good!  She would play every single day if we could.

Nothing shakes the blahs like a good round of hopscotch.  I need to find a way to play it inside on a rainy day, since we get our fair share of them in Washington.  Just a bit of movement, giggles about falling over, and the physical challenge can really help ease tension.

Hmmm....I need to get creative.  Maybe I can make something out of string, or strips of fabric.  Maybe I could paint it on the kitchen floor with tempera paint, let it dry and then wash it off when we're done.  I'm not sure yet, but I have decided I need indoor hopscotch.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The logo on my t-shirt
I ran my lifetime first 5K earlier this week on Memorial Day.  That's 3.1 miles.  I jogged the entire way, without stopping, and it didn't kill me!  The steep hill at the end was a dirty trick, but I didn't once fall on my face, get sick, or stop. I gagged on the water they gave out half way through and ended up spitting it out, but I never stopped!

I blazed the race, placing 222 out of 264.  I averaged a 15:55 mile, finishing in a glorious 49:20.4.   I have been practicing since the middle of March, when it seemed like the end of May was a long ways off.  There is a free app I downloaded on my phone called "Couch to 5K" by ZenLabs, which made learning how to run so far an attainable task.  Before I knew it, race day was here...and I DID IT.

That last 0.1mi was straight uphill.
I saw my smiling husband and children.
They are worth the extraordinary effort that it took to wave.
You know you are a slow jogger when a man in sandals with a limp walks beside you and jaws your ear off for the first mile...before dashing off to join his wife several yards ahead of you.

You know you are a slow jogger when the race-winners are on the back leg of the route, passing you on their way back IN before you even exit the property.

You know you are a slow jogger when all of the stroller-walker Mommies pass you.

You know you are a slow jogger when you have to scoot to the side of the road on your way to the finish line to avoid being hit by all of the winners driving away after the awards ceremony.

And you know what...this slow jogger did it with 100% effort and deserved success.  I had to dig really deep, and I did it.

My daughter's rendition of the events of the day.
I believe I am the one at the bottom.
You know you are loved when your half-marathoner friend says that if you do a 5K, she will run it with you. She then celebrates with you on Facebook chat every single day as you practice and check in with her on your progress.  And at the end she gives you a medal and a runner car-decal as a prize because she is so proud of you.

You know you are loved when another friend surprises you and drives over an hour to show up to cheer you at the start, and cheer you on at the finish.

You know you are loved when a precious girlfriend sends an email the night before that says, "I picture you joyous, fierce, and glorious as you glide through that 5K tomorrow. You are the embodiment of beautiful.  You put the cour (heart!) in courage. Love you, I am cheering you on until my voice goes hoarse."

You know you are loved when your husband hauls the 5-year-old and the 3-year-old to your race, and wrangles them in the rain while brandishing a camera to capture your moment of triumph.

You know you are loved when the 5-year-old and the 3-year-old are jumping and cheering "Go Mommy!" as you gasp your way to the finish line.  They then meet you with palms full of squished flowers as your award.

You know you are a winner when you can't control the laughter and tears as you cross the line.

I don't know who these doggies are, or who took the pic. I just found it somewhere
once and it amuses me to no end. I look like the dog on the right when I run.
You know you are a winner when you listen to the theme from Rocky in the car on the way home...followed by Chariots of Fire, of course, and feebly dance with what strength you have left.

You know you are a winner when you wear your new t-shirt the next day and fairly burst with pride, hoping every person you see recognizes what a cool thing you just did.

You know you are a winner when the 5-year-old says she is proud of you because she knows you worked really really hard and you did the best job out of anybody there.

The route was simple enough, mostly flat.  It was a cool, drizzly day, so the mountains that would have been visible were left to the imagination.  I chugged past several horse pastures, and that as a great deal of fun to watch the horses kick around in response to the crowd.

By the last half-mile I was toast.  I was digging deep for strength, and the face of a friend appeared to me.  He was almost tangibly present as I felt him running beside me and urging me on, beaming broadly at me.  I asked him about it the next day, and he said that at about that same time he was at his breakfast table wishing me strength and success.  Honestly, I believe we connected in a spiritual way at that moment.  What a cool experience that was!

I have another friend who runs ultra-marathons.  She loves it, but I think she is insane.  I will stick to my little races, thank you very much.  But she was very excited for me when I told her about my 5K, as if I had just broken a World Record or something.  I joked about being slow, and she said, "Speed doesn't matter.  What matters is getting to the start line.  Then you worry about the finish line."  I am a winner because I got there at all.

I am so proud of myself that I don't have the words.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Little Saucier

Last Friday, I woke up bored.  Just bored.  I didn't want to do anything, but I wanted something to do.  I was just...bored.

My daughter has Kindergarten every other Friday, and this was her "off" day.  Another game?  Another nail painting?  Another Clifford book...ugh.  I was so stinking bored and uninspired.

It struck me that I was growing steadily unhappier in my funk, so I decided to make my own happy and get un-bored.  It was just a matter of making it happen.  Yes, I know, that is one of those annoyingly true things moms say that make their children roll their eyes (no matter what their ages).

I realized that I had a plethora of options if I REALLY wanted to use them.  I had a whole bunch of apples that were on sale that week, and I also had a 2lb box of quickly over-ripening strawberries.

It could only mean one thing..strawberry jam and apple sauce were in our future!

I hadn't noticed  how much my state was affecting my daughter.  She was behaving crabby and mopey, and as such was being very needy.  I got out the apple slicer and taught her how to use a paring knife.  I used the peeler.  She dumped in horrifying amounts of cinnamon.  I had on my hands the happiest little saucier in the world.  We made apple super yummy, no sugar required.

After filling our bellies with that goodness, we went after the strawberries.  We all love strawberry jam in my family, so a quick batch for the freezer is a delight.  I found my leftover pectin from last year, and she measured scoops of that and some honey.  We washed the berries, hulled them and let the blender work its magic.  Much yumminess ensued and we had peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches for lunch.  We seriously rocked the deliciousness that day.

By the time we were done creating delicious things, we were both out of the doldrums.  Finding something productive and creative helps me realize beauty when my perception is clouded.  Doing some thing fun with an enthusiastic child, doing something delicious with fruit, doing something beautiful and creatively spontaneous...they really help.  I need to trust my spontaneity, because it serves me well.  Whenever I have allowed myself to be spontaneously creative, my spirits lighten and I have energy and beauty to last for the rest of my day.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Climbed a Mountain

You see that awesome woman?  That's me in July, 2011.
You see that behind me?  That's Ketchikan, Alaska and the Inside Passage.
You see me up in the air?  That's Deer Mountain.

I was cleaning out my phone yesterday and found this forgotten snap my brother took.  I feel particularly proud when I look at this picture.  It was REALLY HARD and I did it.  By the time I got back down, my legs were jelly, my knees were shot, I was drenched, and I have never felt so good in all my life.

I climbed with my retired US Marine of a brother, and his athletic wife.  I am not a svelte individual.  My father, in the most loving manner possible, offered several times to come get me if I needed him.  He insisted I take my cell phone to call if I got stranded.  Dad reminded me several times in the days leading up to my adventure that there was no shame in turning around and coming down early.  My dad is kind and consistent, so none of this was entirely a surprise.  However, it just drove my stubborn streak deeper, and pushed me harder (who knows, that may have been his intent).  By the time I reached the bottom I think I was at least half an hour behind my brother and sister-in-law, but I DID IT.

Tenacity is something I have in spades.  For some reason, I forget that about myself until it rises up at the moment of need.  I am a strong person, I know how to push myself when I have to.  This is something that I neglect to resource so very often.  I have always been proud of my stick-to-it nature, my stubborn drive when pushed.  When it comes to physically accomplishing something, proving my I CAN, I am most certainly not a quitter.

The great challenge is finding this same drive when it is not imperative.  I give up on myself a lot, feeling like a failure or like I am ugly and unworthy.  This stubborn nature of mine, this dig-deep strength, is just as much a part of me as anything else.  I wonder why I push it away or hide when it could really serve me the most.  Where is that trigger, the one deep inside that fires when the pressure is on?  How can I reach it when I want it, when I am not an an adrenaline rush or physical challenge?  What will it take for me to be able to reach it on request?  I deserve it.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Birds

I saw this on Facebook a couple of times last week.  Bob Ross is so soothing to watch on TV, his energy and his outlook are just the energy I need sometimes.  Does it matter if he said it?  Nope.  I like it.  I like the sentiment tied to his outlook.  Who doesn't love Bob's "happy little clouds"?

Little birds are incredible creatures.  When I meditate and pray, I imagine my distracting thoughts about mistakes I have made becoming little birds, they flutter up and make their nests in the trees.  They are all there if I need to reference them, chattering and tending to their business.  I don't need them right now, I don't need them all the time.  Of course, I have to learn from them, and remember their lessons...then let them become little birds.  Beautiful, sweet, life-enhancing little birds.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Loving My Anger

I struggle with a deep-seeded anger.  I have been working on it for years, trying to understand why I go from fine to red-line in a snap of a finger.  This isn't a seething crabbiness I'm talking about, it is an explosive fury.  Part of my personal journey has been to really recognize it, catch it, and understand it.

A realization hit me not that long ago.  I need to love my anger, and nurture it like a child.  It is part of me, part of who I am.  My journey is not so much to change myself, but to recognize, love and improve what is already there.

When I recognize the rising barometer in time, I take a deep breath and close my eyes if I can.  I press my feet hard into the floor, and stretch my fingers.  I breathe in and out deeply a few times.  "I love my anger.  My anger is part of me.  My anger needs something.  I nurture and claim my anger.  Hello, my anger.  What is it I really need?"

Funny anger wanes.  It really is like a child.  When a child acts out, and I acknowledge and love them and recognize they have needs, it often confuses them to a point where they are able to come down and express what those needs actually are.  My inner child has been screaming for love an attention for so long, it is like an inconsolable toddler.  Seemingly irrational and out of control, but simply needing to be heard and helped to come back down to earth.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work unless I catch the anger right when it starts to boil.  Sometimes it explodes out of me with a force that scares me.  Like this morning, I shouted at my children with only a mild provocation.  Almost immediately I was filled with remorse, and began to feel myself spiraling into shame.

When I reach that point, I can only catch it on the way down.  I am human, and I am working to accept my weaknesses.  Being fallible stinks.  My struggle with anger is a reality, and it is an integral part of me.  Simply suppressing it or shaming myself will not help me through.  Recognizing, loving and paying attention to the needs of my inner child, and soothing it with my wise adult, are the only ways I will remain functional and level.

I love my inner child.  She is beautiful and creative, she is sweet and good.  She has needs that only my wise adult can meet, and I am working hard every day to listen to what those needs are.  Above all, I need to love  myself with enough respect that it shows in the mirror every time I look.  That is a really tall order, and a difficult one to fill, but I have faith that in time I will get closer and closer.  For the time being, I love and nurture my anger.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Meatballs of Love

At supper a few nights ago, there was a lot of love flowing around the table from my family.

"Thank you for meatballs, Mommy!"
"Mommy's meatballs are my favorite!"
"I love it when you make meatballs, Mommy!"
"Dinner is delicious, hon."
"I love Mommy!  I love Daddy!"

I realized part way through that it was all glancing off of me, I wasn't just soaking it in.  That is to say, I noticed that for some reason I was blocking all of this positivity before it could reach my soul.  There was an outpouring of beauty, freely and joyfully given, and I was denying myself the right to receive it.

In the flip side of that, I ask why do I soak in and absorb all of the negativity?  When my kids squabble, or throw tantrums, or I lose my temper...I absorb it instantly.  I tend to welcome it with open arms into my heart in order to tread on my spirit.

None of the ugliness is said or done with any more sincerity than the beautiful comments.  Everything my children and my husband said at dinner was with love and gratitude, and it was all sincere.  Once I realized what I was doing to myself, I opened my ears and my heart a little bit wider.  I smiled into each face and really took in the shining light of their love.

When good or loving things happen, I don't tend to ask "Why me?" or dwell on them with the same ponderance as I do with bad things. It is odd to me that it is harder to internalize praise and joy than it is negativity and judgment.

I am excited about this realization; I now have another tool.  I can be more watchful for the beauty to absorb.  I think I have blocked the frequency for so long out of some kind of feeling that I don't deserve or am embarrassed by the kind words, only hearing the ugly ones.  This was a fantastic reminder to keep that eye out for the beauty that exists all around me, tuning my radar just a little bit finer to pick up the little notes of love that flow in my direction on a regular basis.  It is all right there, right in front of me, ready to for me to gobble it up.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Bracelet

I had a session with my therapist today, and the topic came up of how many animals and symbols I have encountered during my personal journey.  They all mean different things to me, and speak different messages.

She suggested that I make myself a charm bracelet.  I had been considering the idea, and decided to run with it when she brought it up as well.

There is a bat, which represents the purple bat which came to me during a guided meditation with my therapist following a particularly difficult and Spirit-filled personal meditation.  He brought a message of calm and listening.  Bat is reminding me to use the gift of listening to better hear and understand the world around me, as well as listening closer to my own messages for myself alongside those the Holy Spirit may bring. As a totem, bats represent clairaudience and perception as well as an encouragement of precision.

There is a bird.  During a group hypnotherapy session once, I experienced a visit from a silly red bird.  It is included to remind me to take life one step at a time.  My personal journey can only be taken through small, bird-sized steps, not big pieces.  I need to be patient and do tiny bits.  As a totem, little birds represent empowerment and dignity in self-worth.

There are three little silver hearts, representing my husband and my children.  There is a larger red heart representing myself, deliberately on the center link.  I love my three little hearts, and it is critical that I reserve a great amount of love for myself.  I am vitally important and need to stand out in my process of finding beauty and taking care.

There is a giraffe.  He came to me during a group meditation.  I was feeling a great deal of negative body-image.  I asked him why I can't be tall, slender and graceful like him.  His answer was to say, "Watch me drink from this pool, then ask me how elegant I am."  We aren't all elegant all the time.  He symbolizes my journey towards accepting the inherent beauty, and remembering that we are all fallible, I don't hold the monopoly.  As a totem, giraffes represent the connection between the material world and the Divine.

There is a snake.  During my last PTI weekend breathwork, he came to me.  In my breathwork he was blue.  I don't know what his message is, but he has come to me a few times.  The blue chakra is about creativity, personal voice and self-expression.  As a totem, snakes represent change and introspection.

There is a dog.  My strongest, most persistent representation of the Spirit is a big, doofy black dog my family had for a year when I was a Middle Schooler.  His name was Goliath, and he sits with me when I meditate, pray or rest.  He symbolizes to me strength and peace.  The first time he came to me in a meditation, I asked what his message was for me...and he promptly laid down and took a nap.  He tells me to stay grounded, to remain loyal, and to really just take it easy.  As a totem, dogs represent healing, love, clairaudience and companionship.

I love my new bracelet.  When I look at my arm, there is usually a different charm on top.  I use it to remember my messages, learnings and goals.  It is gentle and pretty, with room for representations of more delightful visitors and spiritual manifestations through dreams, prayers and meditation.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kahlil Gibran

I have some amazing and beautiful friends.  A few days ago, a dear girlfriend sent this to me in an email.  It was without comment, and it is astonishing.  This friend is well-versed in my personal quest for beauty and so I wholly understand and appreciate the relevance of why she sent it to me.  There is a lot to think about in this verse. I am still working my way through it, but I believe in part it is about how beauty just is.  If I open my eyes, I will see it everywhere and in everything.  If I wait for the next corner, I will completely miss what I have and where I am, and the beauty of existing in the now.
On Beauty
 Kahlil Gibran
Where shall you seek beauty, and how shall you find her unless she herself be your way and your guide?
And how shall you speak of her except she be the weaver of your speech?

The aggrieved and the injured say, "Beauty is kind and gentle.
Like a young mother half-shy of her own glory she walks among us."
And the passionate say, "Nay, beauty is a thing of might and dread.
Like the tempest she shakes the earth beneath us and the sky above us."

The tired and the weary say, "Beauty is of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
Her voice yields to our silences like a faint light that quivers in fear of the shadow."
But the restless say, "We have heard her shouting among the mountains,
And with her cries came the sound of hoofs, and the beating of wings and the roaring of lions."

At night the watchmen of the city say, "Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the east."
And at noontide the toilers and the wayfarers say,
"We have seen her leaning over the earth from the windows of the sunset."

In winter say the snow-bound, "She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills." 
And in the summer heat the reapers say, 
"We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, 
and we saw a drift of snow in her hair."
All these things have you said of beauty, 
Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of needs unsatisfied,
And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy. 
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,
But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.
It is not the sap within the furrowed bark, nor a wing attached to a claw,
But rather a garden for ever in bloom and a flock of angels for ever in flight.

People of Orphalese, beauty is life when life unveils her holy face.
But you are life and you are the veil.
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Lilacs

As I was out for my morning bit of exercise around my neighborhood and area, I saw dozens of lilac bushes in bloom.  They perfumed the air, and brightened my morning.

The birds were singing, scolding, flying and chattering.  They spoke to me and cheered me on, reminding me of my Little Red Bird, and the promises he conveyed that I will make it through with growth and strength, one little bit at a time.

Everywhere I looked, there were lilacs in all shades of purple and white.  They waved in the breeze and greeted me along the way.

The sun was shining, and I worked up a sweat.  Nothing makes me feel like I got some healthy exercise like a sweaty neck and soaked hair.  My shoes were really squeaky for some reason, and they made me giggle.

The lilacs.  Oh, the lilacs.  They kept marking my progress, and encouraging me.  It was like every time I passed one, I would look for the next one and make it my goal.  Every time I reached one, I imagined blessings and beauty washing over me.

The smokers on their porches waved and called out greetings to me.  The drivers of the delivery trucks all smiled and waved.  Every morning a little black pug dog chases me for about 8 feet before he gets winded and concedes my victory.

I think I want a lilac bush.  Maybe three of them.  I think they would be a beautiful reminder of the peace and beauty that surround me.  I want lavender, too.

On morning like these, it is so easy to see the beauty of creation, the beauty of existence, the beauty of this life.  I am so thankful for mornings like these, where I can feel at peace with the world and encouraged about my progress through life.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I Believe in Angels

Last summer, I took my kids to WalMart for a few necessities.  They were ages 2 and 4 at the time, so I had my hands full on a very warm day.  I don't like going to WalMart, I don't like the energy or the atmosphere there, but sometimes you have to go.

My son decided to kick up the grand-daddy of all tantrums, the purple-faced, gaping mouth, "PickMeUpPutMeDownPickMeUpWAAAAAAA".  I got several dirty looks and someone spontaneously said to me, "Carry the kid, lady!  Show him some love."

I finally plunked him in the cart and went to the toothpaste aisle.  I was trying to remain calm and keep my cool.  He was screaming and thrashing and going nuts.  I was trying to talk calmly to him, and get my necessities quickly to get out of there.  Someone from the next aisle over shouted, "Shut that F*#^ing kid up!"

As I scurried from toothpaste to diapers, my son was choking from screaming so hard.  I was getting glares and judgment from all corners, people saying things that really don't help.  All the while, my daughter was doing her best to just keep up and stay out of the way.  She did such a good job.

At check out, of course, there were only 4 of the 40 registers open and long lines.  I got in line and started again trying to soothe this insane beast that had burst from my child.  The woman in line in front of me actually asked me how I could possibly treat my child this way if I really loved him.  She said that I needed to take him out of the store because he was really messing with her personal energy (Lady, you are shopping at kid is not what is messing with your energy).  She questioned why I was at the store in the first place if my child was being this way (I was getting diapers...why do you think I'm at the store?).  She said that if I really loved my children, I wouldn't make them wait in line while they were clearly so upset (but she didn't offer me HER place in line).

By the time I paid for my wares, my daughter was in complete shut-down, my son was still going full-force, and my soul felt utterly crushed.  I was in wide-eyed calm out-of-body mode.

After I got my kids buckled into their carseats, an elderly woman with soft makeup and a purple blouse walked up to me from nowhere.  She didn't say anything, and just wrapped me up in a big hug.  Before I  knew what was happening, I was sobbing on her shoulder.  She asked if she could be of any help, and I blubbered out the entire story to her.

This beautiful woman passed no judgment, she simply listened and empathized.  She leaned down and talked to my daughter through the window a little bit, telling her she was being so well behaved and so patient.  Then she talked across my daughter to my son and assured him that things were okay, Mommy loves him, and he could go home now.  My son suddenly stopped screaming and just beheld her with wide (if somewhat tantrum-swollen) eyes.

I will forever believe in angels.  This beautiful soul appeared exactly when I needed her, and when we were done talking she disappeared into the store.  I pray that I may be such a blessing to others.

Angels are real; and sometimes they have fluffy white hair, soft makeup and a pale purple blouse.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Bead

At 6pm last night, my 5-year-old tells me, "I stuck a bead in my ear at nap time."


"It was pretty and I wanted to save it for you and I didn't have any pockets and I couldn't get up because it was nap time!"

A few minutes later, there was a tearful moan from the back seat, "Mommy!  I am so embarrassed because I really think that I probably know better!"

Our walk-in clinic was closed by then, and I really didn't want to drag my kids all the way to the ER on a night my husband was working late.  I started to feel my head spinning, then I automatically took a deep breath and assessed my options.  There was a lot of beauty that came flooding into my consciousness.

Beauty:  My cousin is an Otorhinolaryngologist (ear/nose/throat doc) and ALWAYS replies to my texts (Love that guy!).  From stories I've heard, he has removed some pretty incredible things from little ears and noses (and a few big ones as well).  He said it is not an emergency.

Beauty:  The bead looked huge and pretty deep, but she was feeling no pain.  She would say it just felt like a bead rolling around in her head.

Beauty:  This is a moment for her to learn from her own actions.  If my daughter spends a day with weird feelings in her ear and then an afternoon with a nurse digging around in her ear canal...she will learn the lesson better than any scolding or overreacting I may do.

I didn't overreact!  I am gaining ground!  I breathed a bit, asked her why, then empathized.  I tried mild efforts to dig it out with no results, so I told her she just had to wait until the clinic opened the next day.  My inner-adult prevailed!  Success!

I am finding more and more that I am not genuinely a freak-out mom.  The bead won't be causing any major diseases any time soon.  This morning I sent her to school like always, and I told the teacher just in case my daughter mentioned something about it.  The teacher got this horrified look on her face, like she thought I was insane for sending her to school with a bead in her ear rather than rushing to the ER, and proceeded to scold me about ear infections.  I thanked her and left.

We were in and out of the clinic in no time this afternoon.  The longest part of the procedure was waiting to be taken back to a room.  Once we were in, the PA-C got it over and done with in no time flat with a tiny little pink plastic crochet hook.  Over-all, it happened in the best possible way.  I even remembered to bring a box of Craisins for the 3-year-old to occupy himself with during his sister's procedure.

The benefits of choosing to breathe deeply as a habit made themselves known over the past 24 hours.  I was not tempted to freak out, when in the past I would have scolded and been upset.  I am finding and enjoying my inner-adult, one kicking and screaming inner-child moment at a time.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Not So Bad

Last weekend my father came or a visit, so of course I spent much of Friday doing the "clean-up scurry" around the house.  I was feeling awful because he and my mother expended so much effort and love in January to help me get on top of things, and I had failed to maintain, despite my best laid intentions.

I was so distracted on Friday morning that I misread my daughter's Kindergarten calendar.  I thought she had school this week, so we went through all of the routine of getting there.  Once at school, I realized I didn't recognize any of the other kids or parents in the hallway, and they informed me that it was a "red" Friday instead of a "blue" one.  Well...that was a wake-up call to me that it was going to be quite a day.

As it turns out, having my daughter home that day was a blessing.  She really kept me on my toes, and her excitement about Grandpa coming never waned.  Her ability to keep the ultimate purpose of our efforts in the forefront really kept me motivated.  For entirely selfish reasons, I set her to scrubbing pots (being mom has its privileges ).  She is so sweet, I really got a lot done around the kitchen while listening to her singing a made-up little ditty:

"Scrubby!  Scrubbing!  Pots-pots-pots-pots!
Bubbly!  Bubbles!  Pots-pots-pots-pots!
Rinse-y!  Rinsing!  Pots-pots-pots-pots!"

 That was the most beautiful music I could have in that moment.

She loves to vacuum as well.  I have a little Dirt Devil stick vac, which she has laid claim to since the first day she saw it at barely age 2.  I use the big Hoover and she uses the stick, and we vacuum together.  She has taught me that vacuuming is a fun process when you make it a game that is a cross between bumper-cars and power cord limbo.

As the day progressed, I realized that the house wasn't really that bad!  Sure, we still had to scrub pots, vacuum, make beds and clean bathrooms...but it all was surface.  In the past I would be rearranging the mess, dusting the piles and scurrying, collapsing in an exhausted, sweaty fit of shame and "good enough".  This time, I was able to actually clean and restore my home back to a nice place!

I believe that this is because the underlying energy of love and openness was still there.  My house is almost back in order and it only took an afternoon.  There were piles and dirty dishes and the floor was in dire need of some TLC, and I was able to do it all (with some very adorable help).

I need to discover how to be gentler on myself.  It seemed like a big job up front because in the past it was a big job.  I think that over the course of the past few months, several small habits have changed and that is making the difference.  I am so very hard on myself and I see even the ugliness or "failure" so quickly and clearly.  I treasure beauty so deeply, why don't I focus on that first?  There is a lot of self-talk involved here.

I AM NOT a failure
I AM a beauty-work in progress

I AM NOT a failure
I AM capable of maintaining beauty

I AM NOT a failure
I AM a success

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Dandelions are ugly.

Dandelions stink.

Dandelions don't die.

Dandelions litter my yard.

Dandelions are evil incarnate.

"Mommy!  I picked all of these for you because they are yellow and so pretty!"
Mashed, mangled, truncated and bundled dandelions in the grubby hands of a loving child.

Dandelions are love.

Dandelions are bright.

Dandelions are beautiful.

Dandelions represent a heart the size of this world.

Dandelions might not be so bad.

Sometimes, I guess, it is all just a matter of perspective.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Shining Light

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

Marianne Williamson, Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

A friend sent this quote to me in an email a few days ago.  I think I have read through it a hundred times since.  There is something about it that resonates with me deeply.  The fear of success, my hesitance to recognize my own beauty, my hiding from my own light not only injures myself, but deprives those around me of the beauty I have to offer.

My goal is to eventually come to understand and truly believe how deserving I am, without even thinking of asking, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"  Who am I?  I am me, and I am enough.  I have what it takes to shine brilliantly, as I was designed to do from the day I was born.  

This paragraph has so many important ideas within.  It is a very inspiring call to move past my learned behavior of self-annihilation, of abandonment of my true light.  Seeing God in my children is quite simple, and admiring the Divine within my husband is a snap.  Seeing the true light of beauty within others through personal compassion is something that is getting easier every time I do it.  The call here is to look in the mirror and see God within myself and let His light shine through me.

There is nothing wrong with admiring myself and the work that God has created within me, but it is so hard.  I spend so much time telling my children that I love and admire them, in the hopes that they will believe that they deserve to feel the same about themselves.  Again, I am reminded, the only way they will learn it is if I do it for myself. Compassion for others comes more readily than compassion for myself...but unless I have it for myself, what I have to offer others is only a partial truth.  Making myself smaller in the hopes of disappearing or raising up others serves nobody.

That is a tall order.  It makes me nervous, but it also gives me resolve.  I am a work of God with light and love to share.  I deserve every bit of light that I possess, and I deserve to believe in and continually celebrate  the worth of my own beauty and power.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Promise I Will Never Tell

Last night I was reading with my 5-year-old daughter before bed.  She suddenly fell quiet, and in a tiny, sad voice she said, "Mommy, I need to tell you something..." and she proceeded to tell me about something she saw a few days ago that she is pretty sure she shouldn't have.  I was so proud of her for coming forward like that, even though the adult in me knew that it wasn't really anything of concern.

She was so embarrassed and sad, I felt bad for her.  We talked and she explained that it was a careless "oopsie" that she saw it.  I explained that if it really was an accident, then she did absolutely nothing wrong.  I could tell that she didn't entirely believe me, so I asked her if she wanted to hear a story about how I accidentally saw the same thing once when I was in high school.  As I proceeded to tell her my story, a look of relief washed over her face and she said my story made her feel better and less sad.  We discussed how, when we feel this way, it is really important to talk about it with me or another trusted adult.

In the end, she said she felt a bit better, but still a little embarrassed.  Then she asked me to promise to never tell anybody ever what happened.  I promised, and then even reiterated my promise to her this morning.  A promise to a child is a sacred and beautiful thing...whether what happened is a big deal or not in the grown-up world.

I came down from this conversation with a sense of relief.  So much of my time is spent fighting with and berating myself over my failures and shortcomings as a mother.  Even though I am not the poster-child for awesome parenting, I am doing something inherently right.  I love her so completely, and so unconditionally, that she knows she can trust me implicitly.  Of all the people in the world she can and deserves to trust, her mother should be the one at the top of her list.  And that is me.

How beautiful is it to know that my child feels she can share an embarrassing moment with no fear of shame. She was so nervous telling me, and her eyes became so vibrant when I empathized with her plight.  It was a truly beautiful moment between a mother and her daughter that I was so blessed to be a part of.  My love and acceptance of her will never wane, and my prayer going forward is that the strength of this love will always assure her that she can trust me completely.

My daughter deserves this beauty in her life.  Every little girl deserves a Mommy she can rely on.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mommy or Me?

I had my fifth and final week of PTI this past weekend. It was challenging and beautiful, exhausting and exhilarating, just as PTI always is.  The life-changing aspects, along with the ugly truths that I was forced to face, have made the journey completely worth it.  I would never go back to where I was before this journey.

I didn't have as many instantaneous ah-ha moments this time around, but I did a lot of important work nonetheless.  I am currently sitting with my muddled-up feelings, and trying very hard to be patient while my conscious and unconscious minds chew things over.  The beauty of it all is that I know that if I give myself time and don't try to push it, things will slowly come to me.  They have in the past, and I just need to wait for the beauty to unfold in its own time.

One of the exercises we do on these weekends is called Energetic Psychodrama.  There's not much I can say about it beyond the statement that it is like hypnotherapy times about a hundred.  Never have I gone through something so intense or informative.  It is done with the support of the whole group, and the combined energy is second to nothing.  So much happened in that hour, I know it is going to take me weeks to put it all together.

Part of the take-away that I have been able to act on with immediacy is to stop calling myself "Mommy" when I talk to the kids.  When I say, "Mommy loves you" it does not have the same staying power nor ownership as the statement "I love you".  "Please bring that to Mommy," versus "Please bring that to me."

Somewhere along the journey of my life, my comfort in the identity of me, apart from those I love, has fallen away.  As far as I can remember, my personal identity has always been my father's daughter, my husband's wife, my children's mother...where does that leave me?  I have always been torn between the need to be independent and strong and the feeling of enmeshment with those I love.  Where is the line?

Since I started calling myself "me" instead of "Mommy", I have noticed a tiny shift.  I don't know for sure where the shift lies, is it in my children, in me, in our common energy?  My children seem slightly more respectful, and more apt to listen.  They are little kids, but I think this one change is truly resonating in their little brains.  My words are more meaningful, more powerful, and game-changing.  I feel that my relationship to my children has become slightly clearer and stronger because I am feeling stronger.

Who knew that referring to myself in the first person would make such a difference in such a short time.  It is actually really hard to do on a consistent basis.  I hadn't really realized how often I referred to myself as Mommy in stead of me.  Sometimes it feels somewhat cold and distant, as if some of the endearment is no longer there.  I think this is part of the journey towards reclaiming my own identity, though.  I will have to sever some of the enmeshment in order to stand on my own. The more I have grown accustomed to referring to myself in the first person, the easier it is becoming.  I feel somehow lighter and a bit freer, and stronger with more love to give.

I am one small step closer to being the kind of person I would want my children to emulate.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

2013 Dodge Grand Caravan AVP

After a long and arduous week, here it is!  My shiny, beautiful new mode of transportation.

It was a bit of a challenge, figuring out how to get people from point A to point B, so we decided to rent a car for a week so the family could function.  I will say one thing good about the assured me that we would not be buying a 2012 Ford Fusion.  I smashed my head on the door frame every time I got in or out of the thing.

My husband and I did research.  To be perfectly honest, he did most of the work.  He drove through lots and scoured online and really did the homework.  It was very stressful for him, and the thought of haggling with a car dealer caused a great deal of anxiety.  In the end, he wound up in the hands of a very capable team at Larson Dodge in Puyallup.  They made the process seamless and low pressure, so it was as pleasant as it could be.  They even purchased the Escort from us!

They let him do a test-drive to bring it home.  We put it in the garage (almost had to grease the sides, but it fits!) and let the kids climb around and explore it a bit.  The right car at the right price fell into our hands.

The pricing was phenomenal.  I mean, Dodge has this American Value Package where the vehicle does not have any frills, it is a people-mover with air conditioning.  It was actually a better price to get this vehicle brand-new off the lot than it would have been to get any other brand of minivan pre-owned.  My guess is because the other minivans all come with the frills standard.

Once we settled on this van, things just fell into place rapidly.  We got the best financing we possibly could, and it came through with lightning speed.  Suddenly the money was in our account, instantly we got a cashier's check...went to the dealer and signed the paperwork.

Spending this much money is never a fun thing.  That being said, this happened in the fastest, easiest way it could possibly have.  I still giggle when I get into my van, it is so much fun.

I DESERVE a new vehicle!
I DESERVE great financing!
I DESERVE rapid turn-around on a decision!
I DESERVE to be proud of my vehicle!
I DESERVE a sweet new ride :-)

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!