Thursday, February 28, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes

We make a weekly menu, and each person in the family has his or her assigned night.  Tonight, the 3-year-old had selected pancakes.  This is his regular request, a welcome change after several months of having spaghetti every Thursday night.  Now I'm getting very good at making pancakes.

In an effort to change things up, I decided to get creative with some frozen blueberries.  I made "belly-button" pancakes (little dudes with one berry in the middle of each), a heart pancake with berries in a heart (for my daughter), a smiling bear (for my son), and even pancakes with each of our initials.  I was having so much fun and really looking forward to sharing with my family.

When I called my family to the table, the first thing my husband said was, "Oh, you put blueberries in them.  Are there any without?"  The first thing my 5-year-old daughter said was, "I see circles.  Can I have a belly button pancake instead?"  The first thing my 3-year-old son said was, "I don't want pancakes!  I don't want blueberries!  I want strawberries!"

Needless to say, this was not the general response I was anticipating.  My heart started racing and I started to feel tears welling up.  All I could do was get up from the table and head upstairs for some quiet time.  I laid on my bed and tried to breathe deeply.  I wasn't sure if this was a moment when I should just let myself feel and cry, or if I needed to breathe through it and accept the reality of the moment.

I was so proud of my cute little blueberry pancakes.  As I sat in the dark and thought about it, I realized that I had anticipated a reaction without letting the others know what I needed.  They were all being honest with me, but they were not feeling what I wanted them to feel.  I was taking their lack of enthusiasm personally.

The process of making the pancakes and putting the berries in them was a lot of fun for me.  It was an experience of beauty to be a little bit creative with food.  Being challenged by my family was ultimately beautiful.  It forced me to recognize that my project was an expression of love for my family:  I have put the love out there, but I cannot control how it is received.

How often do I do or say something with hopes of praise or recognition, only to fall flat?  I was really anticipating excitement, but none came.  The challenge is to rest on enjoying my pancakes, and enjoying the fun of making them.  External recognition and rewards are fun and uplifting, but they cannot be the end purpose of my actions.  It comes back around to living in the moment.  As I was making the pancakes, I was anticipating what would happen when everyone came to the table, rather than dwelling where I was.

Next time, I will try to simply live in the moment of making them and enjoying the process.  When it comes time to eat, I will live in the moment of knowing that I have nourished my family in love, and enjoy eating the fruits of my labor.  If the others don't enjoy it or react less-than-kindly, I will accept the feedback for the next time, breathe deeply and focus on my own enjoyment of the food.

Darn it, belly-button pancakes are fun and silly, and therefore are a beautiful thing!

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beautiful Things #51-100

This is my second installment of Beautiful Things.  There is so much beauty around me, I started listing things I am thankful for in general.  Here are more of the things I find beautiful in my life!

51. Balance Bars
52. My red couch
53. My Lunette
54. Dental floss
55. My Calphalon pans
56. My tiny spatulas
57. Purple pens
58. Sex
59. My Bamboo tablet and pen
60. Clean sheets
61. Jigsaw puzzles
62. Jenga
63. Scrabble
64. Monopoly
65. Rook
67. Wikipedia
68. IMDb
69. Photography
70. Hypnotherapy
71. The cedar chest my Grandpa made for my Grandma, which I inherited.
72. My Beanie Baby gorilla who sits on the dryer and helps me do laundry
73. Ice Cream
74. Dr. Seuss
75. Eggs
76. Cheese
77. Lasagne
78. Google Chrome
79. Outlook
80. Pidgin
82. My nieces
83. Five functioning senses
84. Happy Donuts in Puyallup
85. A really good steak, cooked medium
86. The Scones at the Puyallup Fair
87. Teflon
88. Coconut Oil
89. Ticonderoga pencils
90. Moss
91. Cedar fencing
92. Chakra healing meditations
93. My husband's photographic memory
94. Honey
95. Fresh cinnamon raisin bread
96. Real butter
97. A full night's sleep
98. A down comforter
99. Gone With the Wind (movie AND book!)
100. Pride and Prejudice (exclusively the Colin Firth miniseries version AND the book!)

What are the beautiful things in YOUR life?

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Buy Yourself Some Flowers

I was telling a friend that I was in a funk.  I was in a general "I really don't want to" funk about taking care of myself, my home, and my responsibilities in general.  He said, "I don't know quite how to say this.  Go buy yourself some flowers."  I just laughed and went on from there.  A few hours later it started replaying in my mind, and I've been thinking about it for a while.

Flowers are the classic epitome of beauty.  They are beautiful without trying.  Nobody can argue against flowers being a beautiful thing.  If I buy myself a big bouquet, I will be giving myself some very tangible beauty that I so deserve.  I will be adding beauty to my home in a very organic, unforced way.

I have decided I like cut flowers better than potted flowers.  When the cut flowers eventually fade and die, I know for a fact that I didn't kill them.  Also, they are an excellent exercise for me in accepting the impermanence of some forms of beauty.  They are there to bring me joy for a while, then they fade into a pleasant memory.

My most recent bouquet is a combination of red, pink and white carnations.  They have this wonderful fresh smell, and they have a certain stalwart quality to them.  It really brings me pleasure to place them at the center of the kitchen table after I have scrubbed and swept for the evening.  I handle them every day and they make me smile.  My children ask every day to be allowed to touch them and to sniff them.

Part of me wants flowers to be purchased for me.  I will never turn them down as a gift.  But I am realizing that the act of purchasing them for myself causes me to look at them differently.  The only energy or intention imbued within the bouquet is what has been placed there by me.  I deserve them, and have therefore provided them for myself.  They are a thoroughly selfish act of beauty and love which I entirely deserve.  From now on I intend to furnish my home with fresh flowers on a regular basis.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Key Saga Continues

My keys and I have a history.  They run away from me, and I frantically search for them.  It's our routine, every day, no matter where we are.

The kids and I went to Fred Meyer, and things were going well.  I was feeling good, I felt very present, and I thought I was existing consciously.  After getting the kids out of the car, we went a few feet and I had to return and make sure the door was locked.  This should have been an indicator to me that I wasn't quite as present as I thought I was, because I was completely blank and have no memory of locking the door.  My attention was fractured between my coupon binder, the 5-year-old grabbing a cart, the 3-year-old whining about getting out of the car, and the fact that I smashed my shoulder on the mirror of the truck next to us.

After my shopping was complete, I realized that my keys were nowhere to be found.  Much to my own surprise, I didn't panic, sweat or start shaking - even when I was talking to customer service, running out to peek in my car window, or retracing my steps.  As soon as I realized they were missing and felt my blood pressure on the rise, I sat down on a bench and took three deep, cleansing breaths.  I continued reminding myself to breathe, and repeating over and over, "Remain present...Remain present...Remain present..."  I'm actually quite proud of myself, because this shows that I've made some progress.

I called my husband at work.  Should I call AAA?  What could they do?  Open an unmoving car.

I am so thankful that Fred Meyer has their Playland.  It is a beautiful thing to be able to drop the kids off for an hour of free childcare while I am shopping.  Today I was doubly thankful because it was easier for me to keep my stress in check by knowing that the kids were taken care of.

Unsure of what to do next, I decided to take the kids and walk across the lot to a restaurant for supper.  As we were getting jacketed up, the keys fell out of the 3-year-old's pocket.  How did HE get the keys?  Why were they in his pocket?  At what point between locking the door and my general practice of putting them in my purse did they get intercepted?  I called my husband again and he got a good laugh out of it...which in turn prompted me to be amused rather than frustrated.

I was so sure that I was present and conscious.  That should have been my first signal that I was clearly not present. There are a few lessons I have taken from (or at least reinforced through) this experience:

1)  If I am confident in my consciousness, I need to take a deep breath and re-evaluate.
2)  If I need to double-check if the door is locked, I need to ground myself.
3)  There is always enough time to sit down and take three deep breaths.
4)  Laughing at the end of a "duh" moment makes it so much sweeter.
And MOST importantly...
5) Don't let the 3-year-old have the keys.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Doctor is Fantastic

Both of my children had their appointments for their annual check ups this morning.  There was so much cause for frustration and living outside of the moment.  It was raining, my children were dawdling, the paperwork wasn't ready at the desk, and we were in the little holding cell for nearly an hour.  All of this with antsy 3- and 5-year-olds in tow is stressful and unpleasant.  Top that with the medical assistant coming in and telling us that the doctor delivered six babies last night and may end up canceling her appointments for the day, and I found myself in a foul mood.

Then, something happened.  She walked in the room and immediately engaged the children.  I knew she was exhausted and wanted to be at home in bed rather than talking to yet another mom about her kids.  Somehow, her professionalism won out, but there was more than that.  She was completely present in the room with us.

It was yet another lesson for me on remaining fully present and in the now.  She has been our doctor since I was expecting my first child, she was my OB, and she is our Family Practitioner.  We have always appreciated and respected the care she gives us, and now I understand why.  Even though she has hundreds of patients and an insane schedule, she has always been fully present towards our needs.  Part of it is because she is a "people-person", but part of it is because she knows how to practice in the moment.

I have never felt as though she devalues my family or our concerns, I have never felt as though she needs to rush out of the room to the next patient.  She enters the room with only our needs as her priority, and when she leaves the room I can tell she lets us go and prioritizes the family in the next room.  We have often said that if it wasn't for her, we'd find a new medical facility to serve our needs because it is a frustrating company to work with.  Our doctor is truly a rare find.  Through the act of simply remaining present, she can engage at a deeper and more concerned level.

Our doctor is admirable and present.  We are truly a fortunate family to have found someone so beautifully engaged.  It is giving me reason to pause and consider things about myself this morning.  Do I fully engage the moment, even when I feel ill or sleep-deprived?  How do I treat the time and concerns of those around me when their personal priorities are not the same as my own?  How can I practice living in the moment in such a way that I do not sacrifice my own needs, but still remain fully present?  I wish to make note of how my behaviors change when I am fully engaged versus simply going through the motions.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Get To

In my efforts to remain present, a new tactic has arisen. I was working on something unpleasant and I began to say to myself..."Half an hour until I get to vacuum."  The next task is something I "Get to" do.  Combine this with I CAN, and positivity about tasks finds itself creeping in.

I'm trying to reconcile this with remaining present in my current task at any given time.  I read a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh where he says that, "People sacrifice the present for the future, and life is available only in the present moment."  He is speaking about living consciously and remaining wholly present where you are, living a meditative life.  

There is a desire to work towards a reward, saying that if I can just stick it out through my current task, I get to do something fun or something else.  I mean, what am I really depriving myself of when I choose to focus on the pleasant thing that will come next?  What does it mean to remain fully present in something unpleasant?

Let's say I am pulling weeds, and I know that when my task is done I get to sit down with a glass of lemonade.  As I kneel in the dirt, straining by back, hurting my hands and generally disliking the experience, why should I remain present?  I've been thinking a lot about this.  My conclusion is that I need to remain present because that is where I am.  If I repeat to myself that I can pull the next weed, I can do this one foot of ground, I am performing an act of empowerment.  My back still hurts, my knees still ache, and I'm still itchy, but I am empowered by the act of consciously believing that I am completely capable of this task.  

It all boils down to a habit of self-talk.  I am trying to change how I speak to myself and about myself.  If I continue the habit of saying, "I hate this.  I am miserable.  I want to quit.  This is boring." I will not find any fulfillment in the necessary task.  It is hard for any sort of calm or pleasure to arise amidst a storm of negativity.  The effect is cumulative, so if I remind myself at all times that I am fully capable of doing the exact task in my hands at the moment, I am living universally empowered.

So, again, how do I reconcile this with a reward at the end of a particularly arduous task?  How do I reconcile this with looking forward to something far more pleasant (or at least less unpleasant)?  Perhaps I can set a timer.  I get to do this other thing when the timer goes of.  I get to do it.  I CAN do it.  This way I can remain fully present in the moment, and let the timer take care of what happens next.  There's nothing wrong with having a plan, I really like knowing what is happening next, and having plans eases my mind.  Once I have a plan, and if I continuously empower myself by remaining in the exact moment and time where I am, then what happens next will naturally occur with little effort on my part.

When I complete a task and manage to remain fully present throughout, the reward is generally one of beauty.  I have reaped that reward several times.  A sense of contentment and fulfillment at the task complete, as well as a deeper sense of ownership over the final result.  Because I was present and mindful for the task, I see a piece of myself reflected in the final result and I like what I see.  

Sipping a glass of lemonade while fully enjoying the results of my efforts is an added bonus.  And suddenly finding myself excited that now I "get to" vacuum somehow makes task completion happen with greater joy.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Leave a Note

On Sunday, I had responsibilities after church, so my husband took the kids to the mall to entertain them.  When he came out, there was a note on the windshield from my friend Sarah.  He saved it for me.  When I saw it, I grinned from ear to ear.  This little note on the back of an envelope is a happy and beautiful thing.

Sarah took a few moments out of her day to say hello, and that is all it took.  This simple act of acknowledgement and friendship done in passing warmed my spirit.  It is just a little note, the event is brief yet meaningful, and it is now over:  a pleasant memory.

I recently watched an interview with the amazing Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn in which he said, "To be loved means to be recognized as truly existing."  In my day-to-day life, the world and I seem to be on autopilot.  Sure, I know the folks around me exist, but how often do I take a moment to recognize and appreciate them?  Sarah could have noticed my car and carried on.  But instead, she took a brief moment to acknowledge me and leave an unexpected bit of beauty for me to find.

Finding a note always gives me pause to smile.  When my husband leaves me a note, or sends me a random text message that says "@~>~~" (a flower) or something equally as indicative,  it shakes me out of my rut.  I am trying to find and rest upon the beauty in my life that I can independently own, but a little bit of external reinforcement never hurts.

I treasure those little unexpected bits of acknowledgement.  A note scribbled on the back of an envelope can carry a great deal of beauty.  I am working on moderating my desire to hang onto notes and little gestures, because the physical pile can become clutter and lose its beauty.  This is an impermanent thing, but the beauty will live in my heart as a moment of warmth, love and friendship.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beautiful Things #1-50

So many beautiful things abound.  I am on a quest to name as many beautiful things as I can.  Here are my first 50 (in no particular order).  This is my gratitude list of beauty.

1. My children and my husband
2. The first day of school
3. The last day of school
4. Berenstain Bears
5. Little House on the Prairie book series
6. Cable TV
7. High-Speed internet
8. Sweatpants
9. Chocolate
10. Sunrise over Mount Rainier in the Spring
11. How weird my brother is
12. Math
13. Lavender
14. Lilac-scented candles
15. Diamonds
16. Hemp Body Butter from The Body Shop
17. Bubble baths
18. Rain
19. Hyacinth blossoms
20. A freshly mopped kitchen floor
21. Successfully attempting a new recipe
22. Successfully inventing a new recipe
23. Tutoring a student, then feeling their pride when they get a B on the test.
24. Gratitude
25. The constellation Orion
26. Star Trek (all of them!)
27. Funny typos
28. Silpada earrings
29. Being able to knit and crochet
30. Disposable contact lenses
31. Coupons
32. My Smartphone
33. Single Dad Laughing
34. Parenting.  Illustrated with Crappy Pictures
35. Food Network
36. On Demand
37. The Lion King
38. Kirtan
39. My TI-84 Plus Silver Edition
40. Fred Meyer Playland
41. A steady paycheck
42. A job I love
43. Post-It Notes
44. My little red lamp
45. The funny things my children say
46. Holding a small child's hand
47. Rocking a child to sleep
48. Snuggling a sleepy child
49. Kindergarten
50. Facebook

What are the beautiful things in YOUR life?

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Not Feeling It

I don't feel deserving and I don't feel beautiful today.  Today is a tough one.  For some reason there is no passion.  I feel empty. Numb.  I think I must need to meditate.

My 3-year-old son "helped" me build an etagere in the bathroom, and that was fun, even though a quarter of  the time was spent intermittently convincing him to give me back the screwdriver.  I even was able to keep my spirits up when I had to take the thing apart three times because I wasn't paying enough attention.  Now I have a wobbly, but nice, shelf over my toilet.  It is a beautiful thing.  Now I can put my towels there, and have room in the one closet in my house for other things, like blankets.  I have a little bit of a spark looking forward to figuring out how to use it efficiently and beautifully.

Consciously, I know it is true that I deserve beauty.  Today, at my core, I feel like I deserve the 2 days' worth of grime on the kitchen floor, the slowly building pile by the door, last night's dirty dishes, and this downtrodden feeling.

I hate it when days like this pop up.  No matter what or how much I try, I can't seem to shake it.  I have tried deep breathing, I tried completing a project, I tried singing...nothing.  I am still a basket case, and I am still furious with my children for the smallest, pretty typical, things.

I know I deserve beauty in my life.  I know I can keep going because tomorrow is going to be a new day.  I know that if I just make it through the minimum motions, I will get past this.  The symptoms jump up so quickly, I haven't had an opportunity to watch for where they come from.  Is it cyclical?  Is it weather-related?  Sleep? I think I need to keep a log, but I am not sure of what.

Today is resting on the fact that I accomplished one thing that I have wanted to do for weeks.  I know that soon enough I will get my feet back under me, I just need to work today on keeping my vision in front of me rather than behind.  Things will get better, they always do.  One foot in front of the other.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Look How Beautiful I Am Today!

My 5-year-old daughter came downstairs and announced, "Look how beautiful I am today!"  She was wearing a t-shirt, pink shorts, knee high socks and shiny boots.  It was all topped off with a purple hoodie and some sunglasses.  In February.

She is beautiful.  Every day.  She is not shy about declaring her feelings and taking full ownership of her own beauty, but she is so genuine that I have no fear of vanity.  She doesn't go crazy, but she is not going to hold back if she feels beautiful.

I pray that this honest and pure feeling of personal beauty never fades.

What about my own personal beauty?  I spend so much time loathing my outward appearance, it is bound to influence her.  I am the predominant female in her life, and the behavior I model for her is to look in the mirror with disdain.  What am I modeling for my son about how the woman he loves should perceive of herself?

I am thinking today about the need to start trying to look in the mirror with different purpose.  I need to start declaring, "Look how beautiful I am today!" every morning.  If I don't like what I see, I am the only person with the power to change it.  I am the beauty I deserve.  Perhaps if this becomes a part of my self-talk regimen, I will eventually believe it on a deeper level.  I deserve to see and feel the beauty on the inside for myself.

My eyes will be where I will start.  I have always liked my eyes.  They are dark brown, large and bright, and an anomaly on both sides of my family.  Neither of my children inherited them, either.  I will focus on my eyes, the aspect of my body that I can most readily accept as beautiful.  Look how beautiful my eyes are today!  After this becomes habit, I think I will move on to another part of me that I can accept with little resistance.

Eventually I will change my skin-care regimen, because I know I have been blessed with smooth and soft skin...which I have allowed to fall into disrepair.   This is going to be a long process, an uphill battle against a deeply ingrained habit of disrespect for my physical being.  But I earnestly believe I am worth it.  My outsides deserve the same care as my insides.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cleaning in Process

I love the energy of cleaning in process.  The washing machine going, something airing dry that has just been scrubbed, bleach soaking in a toilet and so on.  For some odd reason, hearing the washer and dryer going makes me feel like things are really being done and it energizes me.

It feels like forward momentum.  It feels like light and air.  It feels positive, especially when there is teamwork involved.  Perhaps this is why the kids like helping with cleaning.  They are so sensitive to energy, and the flow and movement of it is uplifting.  If I am cleaning in the kitchen and hear someone else banging around while cleaning in the bathroom, it feels like teamwork.

When I know there are tasks to complete but I feel like a lump, I repeat to myself my empowering mantra that I can, and I find a load to throw in the washing machine.  The sounds of the washing, the hum of the pump, the rhythmic sounds of the dryer...for some reason which I don't understand, they help me with my momentum.  It feels like things are really getting accomplished, and it feels good.

The hardest part is getting out of my chair.  When I have a case of the "I don't wanna", it takes a lot of self-talk to get going.  Repeating I can do this over and over amps me up, but sometimes it takes a long time to work.  If I am persistent and patient, eventually I can convince myself that it will be worth it.  Putting in a load of laundry is often my first step. There is always a load of something that can be washed. The dish washer doesn't have the same effect, but when all else fails it will do in a pinch.

A washer and dryer are a beautiful thing.  Once they are running, I can start other tasks, and momentum starts to fire.  I love the feeling of cleaning in process because it is such a good thing.  The energy of active cleaning, or tidying up after cleaning, is refreshing and satisfying.  My favorites are the early spring days, when all the windows are open, bedding is airing, the washer is going, something is drying over the sink after being scrubbed and tasks are being completed.

Cleaning in process has an energy that I enjoy.  The kitchen chairs stacked on the table while the floor dries after a mopping make me feel like there is something worth waiting for about to happen. Rags drying on the rack perk me up.  I know I will need to put them away, but that is okay.  Putting them away adds a finality and wrap-up to efforts well spent, uncovering the beauty that I so deserve and already have.  There is a twofold beauty...a clean home and elevated spirits, and it is a wonderful thing.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Child's Smile

While walking with my 5-year-old on Saturday evening, I had my head focused on getting to the RedBox and getting home again as quickly as possible.  She was walking a little more slowly and paused now and then, much to my single-minded frustration.

I saw a scruffy man sitting inside the windows, resting on the motorized scooters that were parked by the shopping carts.  I "accidentally" made eye contact with him and looked away, as I was scurrying past.  My daughter made eye contact with him, paused for a moment, and then smiled and waved.  The man was so surprised he grinned and waved back at her before he knew what had happened.  When he caught himself, he looked at me again, and I waved and smiled as well.

My daughter adds beauty to my life on a regular basis.  She does it so effortlessly and easily.  If we are at a restaurant, she will smile and wave at any person walking by her window.  When we are in the car, she will wave at the people in the car next to us at the red light.  It is rare for a person to NOT smile and wave back.  Often, if they are with someone, they will immediately speak to their friend and then they will both wave at her some more.  That always makes her day.

This is such a beautiful thing.  She is passing her own little ray of sunshine through panes of glass.  I deny myself of the beauty of the people around me by averting my eyes.  There is a kind of awkwardness when you are approaching someone and don't know where to look.  I'm always afraid of seeming like I am staring or weird.  My daughter isn't afraid.  She just behaves as naturally as she always does, and when the time is right she welcomes them into a briefly shared existence and then releases them when the moment is up.

There is much to be said for the innocence of a child.  I don't need to be smiling and waving at every person I meet, but what's wrong with eye contact and a nod?  My daughter could be the only person with positive energy that someone experiences in a day.  When she sends her small greetings, she generally receives just as much in return.  I could offer the beauty of acknowledgement to every person I see, just like she does.  It is not that hard, nor is it weird.

That man on the scooter was an invisible person.  He was passing some time, and being passed by.  My daughter didn't see him as scruffy or spooky, she saw his soul.  He deserves beauty in his life, and she did what she has the power to do.  I love my daughter and the beautiful lessons she teaches me every day.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I need to remove the word "Should" from my vocabulary.  I need to replace it with "I can" or "I am able to"  This is more empowering.

I should get things back in order...versus I can put things back in order.
I should sweep...versus I have five minutes in which I can sweep.

I CAN do this.  I CAN.  This makes me feel stronger every time I say it, and makes tasks less daunting somehow.  It causes me to feel less resentful.  It makes me own my progress, rather than feeling like I am putting in on or making progress for someone else or what I should be doing.  It somehow feels like less of an affront to my being.  I don't dig in my heels quite as deep when I focus on breathing the statement, "I CAN do this."  I am fully able to do this one task, just this one.

I am a strong, capable and intelligent woman.  This pile of laundry will not do me in.

It isn't about "I think I can".  It is not about "I know I can".  It is about "I CAN".  It is a statement of universal truth, a truth that is so much larger than myself.  The more I repeat that I CAN reclaim my strength and I CAN redeem my home and I CAN keep reaching for my goals...the more empowered I feel.  There's even a little bit of optimistic excitement and joy about feeling positive about myself and my abilities and the results that will follow.

Today I was still wallowing in feeling like failure is inevitably going to catch me.  For the last three days I have looked around and thought, this will take half an hour and I really should just do it. I should just get up and resume my efforts.  This wasn't working for me, so this afternoon I looked around and I saw the kids' craft box spilling over.  I said, "I can straighten that up."  The more I said it, the more I believed it and felt  that it wasn't all that bad of a task to be assigning myself.  The whole time I was working on it, I was iterating in my mind, "Markers - I can do that.  Glue - I can take care of that.  Stickers - I can package those..." and in no time it was complete.

It energized me.  I looked in the kitchen and did some of the cards from my Beauty Box.  "Microwave-I can wipe that down".  Suddenly, the card that scares me on Kitchen Day was a no-brainer:  "Mop the floor-I can totally do that."  I even moved all the tables and chairs out of the way and busted out the Shark steamer. I put in some elbow grease, and a miserable job was still a pain...but I did it and the reward is worth it.  I deserve the rewards of I can.

I have been told several times to really watch my wording.  Intellectually I understand it.  Of course self-talk is a powerful tool.  Today, I truly experienced it.  I repeated over and over again that I can regain my momentum, and I can keep going, and I can be successful.  I deserve success, and an I CAN mantra is a powerful tool that will get me one step closer.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

More to Beauty

There is more to the beauty in my life than a clean home.

I have been sucked into tunnel-vision.  My goal is to allow and accept the beauty into my life that is already there, but I have started operating in a single-track fashion, focusing only on cleaning my home.  I do have a goal to create and maintain a clean home, but I need to sit back and breathe while enjoying all of the other forms of beauty begging for my acceptance.

What about the laughter my family shared last night when my husband found a googley-eye and we took turns sticking it to our foreheads?  That is beautiful.  I need to bask in it.

What about the beauty I feel when I volunteer in my daughter's Kindergarten class?  I usually have to drag myself in, but by the time I'm done I have a little contact high from all the delightful kids.  There is a lot of beauty to be found in finger painting with 5-year-olds, or cutting cardstock for the teacher.

What about the beauty of the first sunny day in weeks?  Yes, it is winter in Washington, and I accept and embrace the rain...but a sunny day is easily beautiful.  I need to open my blinds wide and accept the beauty of the sunshine.

Is there beauty in the cranky sounds of the chickens in my neighbor's yard?  I appreciate the fact that they aren't MY chickens to maintain.  I guess there is beauty in the funny noises they make, and the childhood memories of the chickens my father raised.

I have a job that I enjoy.  I get to teach math, I get to impact young people in an alternative way, and I get to do it from the comfort of my own home.  While teaching in the classroom, I began to lose the fulfillment, and was not enjoying it for the last couple of years.  I took the plunge and here I am.  It is a beautiful thing to have such freedom and flexibility, while still maintaining my professional skills and doing the work I feel called to do.

There is some Tillamook Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream in the freezer.  The joy I feel when I eat a small enough bowl to feel no shame is a beautiful thing.  This is, quite undeniably, the best ice cream in the known universe.  Eating it slowly and lavishing every bite is a far more beautiful experience than wolfing down the whole carton and feeling sick for hours afterward.

These things are easy.  The question I'm wrestling with at the moment is whether I need to find beauty in every experience, or if some are just plain not beautiful.  Is it beautiful that my son has a deep cough and can't sleep?  Is there beauty in being overweight, severely nearsighted and blessed with rosacea?  Is the discovery that one of my hub-caps flew off while driving and is now lost a beautiful thing?  Is my daughter's lactose intolerance a thing of beauty?

Beauty is taking on a strange definition for me.  I honestly think that I believe there is beauty to be found in every experience, whether I want to see it or not.  Sometimes I have to look deeper, and sometimes it doesn't occur to me until much later.  Sometimes the beauty is a result of the experience, and not in the experience itself.  This is a tricky one for me, because if I don't see or understand the beauty right away, I discount it and ultimately can't accept it.  I wish to welcome ALL forms of beauty into my life.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over

It is getting a little more difficult to feel the urgency to wipe, clean or pick up.  Old habits are trying hard to come back.  Being conscious is helping me fight them off, but it is hard. I'm in the "ready to quit" stage.  I'm in the FORCING myself stage.  I have already begun to resume the "I'll do it later" response to piles.

I was afraid of one snag that would trip me up.  A week ago, I was sick and went to bed without wrapping the house up.  I woke up to a pan in the sink, laundry in the dryer, cushions in the living room in disarray and crusties on the floor.  I headed straight to the victim ideas about failure.  It took me almost an entire day just to get my momentum to keep moving FORWARD.  I was ready to give up.  I still feel a bit flat from it this much later - like I started an avalanche that is inevitable so I may as well let it come.

Why do I allow grime this kind of power over my psyche?  A wet rag and thirty seconds will wipe the counter.  One minute of scurrying will tidy the Family Room.  Two minutes of sweeping will fix the kitchen.  How do I feel like a failure already?  This is so discouraging and triggering my shame responses.

I went on a retreat this weekend.  For the three days I was gone, my family did their best to maintain order and tidiness, so I was pleasantly surprised when I returned.  Being out of my loop has put a ding in my momentum again, though.  Someone said to me this weekend, "If you move your butt, your head will follow."  I have been trying to tell myself this for the past three days and I feel my energy and passion getting lower and lower.

The beauty I deserve is still there.  My craving for beauty is as strong as ever.  The general untidiness feels like it is creeping in, one misplaced item at a time.  I feel like I'm trying to hold off a tidal wave.  Even though I have made it okay to skip my cleaning tasks for a day when I am sick, I just don't believe in myself to be able to recover from it.

My goal for today is to meditate and stay present.  I will make sure to breathe deep and get back in touch with the inspiration I felt at the beginning of my journey.  Deep down I know there is still that giddy feeling of a clean kitchen floor and a shiny coffee table.  I need to get back in touch with and wholly reclaim that feeling.  I know that I am strong enough, and I know that I am worth it.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Credit Where it is Due

A feeling is welling up within me to send powerful gratitude to several individuals who have been integral parts of my journey.  I have been on the road to making some significant changes in my life, and I feel stronger every day.  There are many in my life who have helped me along the way, but there are some who I wish to call extra blessings upon for their patience, expertise and guidance.  

In March of 2012, I started seeing a therapist named Dawn Johnson.  I was unhappy.  When she asked me what I needed and what I wanted out of therapy, I just said I just wanted to be happy again, to feel anything other than despair, and she accepted me wholly.  She is a licensed hypnotherapist, and has training through the Wellness Institute.  I didn't know anything about hypnotherapy until I started seeing Dawn on a regular basis, and certainly had never heard of Wellness.

What a surprise to me, hypnotherapy is nothing like what you see on TV.  There is no quacking like a duck, and you are actually conscious the entire time.  It relaxes you to a point that your filters come off and you don't censor yourself or your reactions.  I must say, it is astonishing what can be gleaned through a good hypno session.

Dawn has used her training and expertise to help me release a great deal of my own shame and grief.  She has been patient, caring and brutally honest.  My family will never be the same as a result of the treatment and loving care she has provided.  She has been my ally, my nemesis, sounding board, my helper, my irritant, my balm, my friend and my biggest cheerleader.  Dawn has a gentleness of spirit and trustworthiness, and she is also genuine and real about her own fragility.  She is endearing and accepting, but knows just where to prod to make me take the steps I need towards healing.

Without Dawn's pressure, I never would have met Rob and Mary Anne Speigel.  They are also certified hypnotherapists and work with the Wellness Institute.  They have been using hypnotherapy, in combination with other methods of therapy, to help people work towards healing for decades.  Rob and Mary Anne are a power-couple, they have a combined strength and compassion for their clients/students that I cannot do justice to.  They are fully engaged, fully committed, and full of love.

Rob is a button-pusher to the extreme.  He won't let a person wishy-wash their way out of a difficult situation.  He is forceful and he excels at making people very angry; he has infuriated me on so many levels.  He is opinionated and won't take crap, and I love him for it.  Rob is kind and gentle and full of heart.  Just this past weekend I was having a very painful experience while in trance and he was there for me from start to finish with nothing but wisdom and compassion in his spirit.

Mary Anne is the perfect complement to Rob.  She exudes a maternal strength and care with an incredible gentleness and firmness of heart.  Where Rob makes you want to smack him through making you so mad you suddenly see the light, she nudges you out of your own way and shakes your rugs and opens your curtains.  She is very wise, relaxed and genuine.

They offer an intensive series of weekends called Personal Transformation Intensive (PTI).  This is one weekend a month for five months, and I just completed week three.  Attending PTI, I have met 8 other people on their own journeys through personal pain.  After just three weekends together I feel greater care and concern for these people than I have ever held for a group in my life.  They truly are a second family, people I have come to trust implicitly.  We have shared the deepest and darkest parts of ourselves, and worked as a team to shore one another up through our processes.  The experiences we have shared, both wonderful and terrible, have bonded us together like I never could have imagined.  I know that I can rely on them, trust them and believe in my PTI colleagues with my entire being.

All of these people have pushed me on this journey towards the beauty I know I deserve.  I had to take the first step and get myself out there, but without them, there would be no journey.  I would not have discovered the strength to continue to do this.  I would not have realized that BEAUTY is what I deserve, and DESERVEDNESS is what I crave.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Space is Too Big

There is a strangely emotional side-effect to a tidy home with nothing on the floor or tabletops.  Suddenly, there is a lot of space in my living areas.  There is a lot of space in my kitchen, particularly with the two-story ceiling and the skylight.  Sometimes I get nervous because it feels like there is nowhere to hide.  Everything is beautiful and in its place, and I feel anxious.  I deserve open space and room to move.  I deserve this beauty...I think.

Everything feels big and empty, and I feel exposed.  I wanted to be free of clutter and grime, and I have achieved a big chunk of what I was asking for.  There is now a lot of open space that I don't know how to fill.  The energy of the shame from clutter is being removed, and now there is a kind of void or vacuum there.  This is an odd feeling.  What is the root of this?  Why do the open space and cleanliness make me so nervous all of a sudden?

I don't feel this way when I am in nature, either in woods or an open field.  The fresh air and space are freeing and joyous to me.  My desire is to impart some of this energy into the newly opened spaces of my home. Clutter invokes "darkness" to me, and openness invokes "light", so perhaps my eyes just haven't adjusted yet.

The only doors in the downstairs section of my home are to the bathroom and the outside.  My kitchen ceiling is the full two stories high, with a skylight.  From room to room there are only wide, large openings.    There are a lot of strange corners and angles where walls and spaces meet, but ultimately there is mostly just openness and air.

There is beauty in feeling like there is light and air in spaces were there were darkness and clutter.  As I strive against the clutter, there is part of me that is still crying out for it and fearing it at the same time.  The conflict going on inside of me is distressing and uncomfortable.  My 3-year-old dumped out all of the toys this morning and I didn't notice it until after he was already at daycare.  The messy pile triggered something within me, both relief over clutter and fear that this was going to be the event that ends my success.  Perhaps I am grieving the changes, the loss of my old way of living.  I am trying to not fall into being a victim of my home while sorting out what realistic living looks like, and it is really hard.

I deserve BEAUTY in my life!