New Beginnings, Be Patient

This time of year is filled with new beginnings.  As a teacher, it is the start to a new school year. As a mama, it is the start of having two children now in high school with new teachers, new teammates and new expectations. This year, I am back in a classroom as a student again too. Personally, I am having new awakenings to who I really am and what stokes my fire. This is bringing me new opportunities to present material I am passionate about and placing me on a new stage. As my family and I begin to step into this new way of being, the message I keep hearing is “be patient.” Be patient with others and most of all be patient with yourself. 

Patience Mama. My younger daughter, new to the high school scene, has forgotten at least one thing everyday this first week of school–her soccer practice shirt one day, her house key another day, her correct soccer uniform a third day and her cleats the last day. In making this huge transition to high school which has included making the soccer team and taking a challenging course load, she is struggling to stay organized.

At first, I battled with myself with how best to help her. I wanted to fix the problem for her and continued to say “make sure you have everything before you leave.” This was not helpful. In stepping back, the thought hit me that this was a growth experience for her and me intervening was taking away that growth. Instead of jumping in again, I embodied patience. As each day went by and she reported forgetting something, she became more and more upset. Eventually, the tears came, she made the shift, and got to the place of taking action. She created a checklist of things that she needs for soccer and things she needs for school. Cleverly, she put her checklist in a page protector. This enables her to use a dry erase marker to check off her items as she puts them in her backpack. Then she can erase to reuse it the next day. She left for her soccer game this weekend empowered and well equipped. Be patient Mama.

Patience Gina. I am also offering the gift of patience to myself. We are juggling a lot of activities in our family and I am the household scheduler. Sometimes life happens and one of the balls we are juggling drops. When this happens, I treat myself with kindness, apologize to those affected and move on. I breathe and realize that I am doing the best that I can. In fitting together the schedule puzzle that is our current lives, I trust that there is actually enough time in the day, especially when I put my self-care as a priority. Rested and refilled Gina is much more enjoyable and effective.

Instead of pushing the flow of life, I sit back patiently and allow the new understanding, the new solution to emerge. How am I going to figure out this situation? Relax, breathe, and the solution appears in the clarity that emerges. As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu once said, “Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.”

So it is patience, not pushing for me these days. Sometimes quick, pushing action is needed. I remember the power of that in the delivery room years ago. But in the nine months leading up to that, patience and allowing the natural flow of things was equally as powerful. Be patient Gina.

Birthing a New World

We are at an important moment in our world’s history. At first glance, things look bleak. Mass shootings are a regular occurrence. Our political representatives spend more time arguing than making policy that keeps us all safe and healthy. Climate change is real and we are incredibly slow in making the adjustments needed to replenish all we humans have done to our earth. Many of us are tired and scared and continue to turn on each other, locking ourselves into our group bubbles and refusing to find a way out for all of us.

But, here’s the thing. We are going to be okay. All this shifting and chaos has a purpose. We are shedding our old ways that no longer serve. We are reforming our old structures that were only built to support some of us. We are literally creating a new world. 

Birth is messy. Birth is painful. Birth is progress and then patience and then progress again. Birth is trusting in our innate human wisdom. 

Often I feel like I don’t know what I can do to help create our new world. I can’t stop the fires in the Amazon. I can’t rescue the children locked at our borders. I can’t stop the violence in my hometown. I feel helpless sometimes. But I am learning to trust the birthing process and make it a practice to listen to my own innate human wisdom. It sounds crazy I know. How can connecting with myself help heal our world? 

I remember one of my favorite songs that we used to sing in church. It is called “Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let It Begin With Me.” The song was written in 1955 by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller. In an interview, Jill Jackson said that the lyrics to the song were written following an awakening she had after trying to commit suicide. She said “I had an eternal moment of truth, in which I knew I was loved, and I knew I was here for a purpose.” Following this experience, she spent time tuning into her divine wisdom and exploring her purpose. She found that she loved writing, became a songwriter and later penned this beautiful song that “went viral” in the 50’s.

I take her words to heart. “I am loved and I am here for a purpose.” How different our world would be if each of us felt this. How different my world would be if I truly, from the depths of my being, felt this. And that is my goal. To uncover the parts of myself that are hiding. To treat myself with kindness and take time for self care. To cultivate healthy, mutually supportive relationships.To identify my gifts and explore how I can bring them to our world. To act and speak from a place of knowing that I can be loving because I am loved.

As we each heal our own inner pain and disharmony and embrace the fact that we are unconditionally loved and here for a reason, we will change our world. The momentum is already happening. Hold the vision of our new world clearly in your mind. Do the inner work. Find a community of people who are moving forward with you and are able to provide support. Stay connected to your inner wisdom so you can know when to push and when to be patient. The beauty is in the balance of both.

Go With The Flow

Last month, Tony and I took the girls to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia for a white water tubing trip. It was a gorgeous day and we were excited to have some family time. We rented our tubes, listened to the safety talk, and climbed onto the bus for the trip to the drop off spot. Once there, we carried our tubes down to the river and climbed into them, squealing as the cold water touched our bodies. Looking across the great expanse of the Shenandoah River, a red flag popped into my mind and I thought,”hmm, I didn’t realize that this was so wide. It is going to be hard to stay together.” I felt a nugget of anxiety in my chest. As we started the float, we practiced leaning back in our tubes to paddle. Brooke, my younger daughter, was having some trouble reaching over the tube to get her arms fully in the water, which made it hard for her to steer. Another little red flag popped up in my mind and I thought “I wonder how she is going to be able to navigate her way through the rapids.” The nugget in my chest began to grow. 

Brooke didn’t seem to be bothered, seemingly confident in the fact that she was moving downstream and she didn’t have to make much effort. I, on the other hand, envisioned the rapids ahead, her tube flipping over and us not being close enough to help. I cursed all those weekend mornings of sleeping in, instead of making her sign up for the swim team. What was I thinking?

I kept close to Brooke during the entire trip downstream. I even gave her the rope attached to my tube to hold onto for part of it. At one point, hooked together, we both got stuck in a rapid for what seemed like forever. In actuality, it was probably only 5 seconds. My mind jumped to a past experience I had had many years before when my raft had gotten stuck in the rapids and overturned. I ended up drifting down the remainder of the rapids to safety, but it freaked me out! 

So, in that quick 5 seconds, the anxiety nugget became a boulder and I totally came unglued. I scrambled about trying to unstick our tubes. I shouted directions at Brooke and she yelled back at me trying to figure out what she needed to do. Her previously chill state turned into one of panic. Eventually our tubes released and we were casually floating down the river again. Brooke looked over at me and said, “You just freaked me out! What the heck?” Realizing my extreme reaction to such small rapids and a situation that was not, in hindsight, dangerous at all, I said with embarrassment, “Sorry, girl. I won’t do it again.” 

As we continued down the river, I watched how relaxed Brooke was in her tube, leaning back, fully stretched out like a lizard basking in the sun. I felt how tight I was holding my body and asked myself how I could let go of the anxiety that had set up camp in my body. I had started to melt down into the tube a little bit more when I saw that we were almost to the end of the ride. When we came to our exit point and took our tubes out of the river, they told us that we had time to go down again. Since everyone else seemed excited about the opportunity, I held in the “NO!” waiting to escape my lips and we climbed back up into the bus.

We reached the drop off spot and walked down to the river again. Before I placed my tube into the water this time, I made a conscious choice to ride down the river differently. My motto would be: “WWBD: What would Brooke do?” Like her, I decided to trust, surrender, and literally go with the flow of the river. I set the intention to enjoy riding over the rapids, my tube bobbing and bouncing, out of my control.

What a different experience I had this second time. I laid back in my tube to let the sun hit my face. I stretched out, looked at the passing trees, and breathed more deeply than I had in awhile. I watched the birds fly by me and listened to the laughter of the other tubers all around me. It was pure enjoyment in the moment. No nuggets or boulders other than those in the river. 

I learned an important lesson that day. I realized that what I focus on becomes my reality. On my first trip down the river, when I was literally trying to control the river, I experienced anxiety, fear, and discomfort. On my second trip down the river, when I chose to go with what was presently flowing, I was able to put the past behind and truly experience the now.

This is the beauty of the feminine. Trusting that I am safe in the flow of life. Knowing that I don’t need to control it all. Surrendering to what is right in front of me. There is always a time and place for taking control of a situation, but what glorious freedom bubbles up when you lose yourself in the moment and enjoy the ride.

Being Fully Present: I Am Here Now

“The Muddy Road” from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Two Zen Buddhist months, Tanzan and Ekido, were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. “Come on girl,” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Ekido did not speak until the night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could contain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?” “I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

I have been re-listening to The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Even though it was written in 1997, his words ring true more than ever. His message is a simple one: live in the present moment. It seems obvious, but how much of our day is spent dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. I know for me it is a constant practice to stay here, now. Even as I write this, I am re-living an event that happened yesterday and worrying about the future health of someone I love. If I were living in the moment, I would see my daughters happily chatting together as they finish up a huge puzzle we have been working on. I would see my husband contentedly sipping his coffee while checking out the news on his computer. I would recognize that I am enjoying my writing time while listening to the birds and insects outside my screen door. All is well in this moment and yet my mind continues to be drawn to other things. 

So, how can I stay present in this beautiful moment. It is, in fact, a much nicer place to be than my scary thoughts. The best way that I have found to stay in the moment is to concentrate on my breath. Feel it move in and out of my body. Breathe in for three counts, hold for three counts, and then breathe out for three counts. Breath is always in the here and now, so it is the perfect tool.

Another tool that is always available to me is my power of observation. I can choose something in my environment to observe whether it be my coffee mug or a candle or even my cat. If I am really lucky, I am somewhere close to nature and I can go sit outside or look out my window and watch all the present moment action as it happens. 

I can also practice mindfulness in any task or activity that I am doing. I can feel the water and soap running over my hands while I wash the dishes. I can taste the sweet flavor of the banana in my cereal. I can feel my feet on the floor. I can turn on my favorite Spotify station and sing along while I sweep the floor. I can look into my daughter’s eyes as she is speaking to me. Our senses are amazing tools for guiding us back to the present moment. 

In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle says “The moment you realize you are not present, you are present.” What a gift. Every moment is an opportunity to recalibrate back to the here and now. Every moment is an opportunity to live life more fully. 

So, I will choose to live in this moment right now, and right now, and right now. It is a choice and a practice. I will forgive myself when I forget and use my tools to slide back into my true life with ease.

We Are Miracle Makers (And So Is Mama Duck)

It was a beautiful night in Kansas where my brother, Peter, and his family live. After our two day, 18 hour road trip, my daughters and I were happy to stretch our legs at the local park. After playing in the small stream for a bit, we made our way down to the lake at the edge of the park. 

Looking into the lake, we noticed a family of ducks: Mama, Papa and seven ducklings. My brother and his girlfriend, Tonya, told us that they had seen nine ducklings before and wondered where the other two had gone. We watched the ducklings swim around the lake for awhile and then noticed that the Mama Duck was hanging out near the water storm drain at the side of the lake. At first we thought she was trying to keep us away, but she didn’t seem aggressive. We were intrigued by her behavior and walked over to see her more closely.

As we approached, Mama Duck continued to make noises directed towards us. We noticed that she was swimming back and forth near the storm drain. She really did seem like she was communicating with us. What was she trying to say? We started to listen a little more deeply, watch a little more closely, really focusing in. And that was when Tonya heard it. The sound of baby ducks—coming from inside the storm drain.

We all ran over to the storm drain grate and looked down. Sure enough, there were the two little ducklings huddled together in the corner of the cement drain, 8 feet down. We were horrified at the idea that the two ducklings were stuck without any hope for getting out. Peter tried to lift up the metal grate, but it was too heavy. We sighed in frustration. What next? Peter and Tonya then tried to lift up the grate together and felt it move slightly. Motivated by this tiny bit of success, I grabbed a corner and we tried again. More movement this time.

Others in the park noticed our activity and wandered over. Mama Duck was keeping watch and through her presence, encouraging us to keep going. We made a plan to lift the grate together and then slide it to the side so that one of us could climb down the small ladder on the cement wall. A bunch of us grabbed a piece of the grate and lifted in synchronicity. It slowly moved and together we were able to slide it over just enough for Tonya to climb down. The ducklings frantically ran away from her quacking noisily in fear, but eventually she was able to gently grab each one and place it safely back into the water next to its awaiting mama. 

The most beautiful moment came when Mama Duck saw her babies back in the water. She flapped her wings rapidly in our direction and then made a loud honk of gratitude before swimming off with all nine of her ducklings, safe and sound. 

This small, yet potent experience taught me a lesson about the power of engaging fully in the present moment. We slowed down and focused in so we could listen more deeply. This enabled Tonya to hear the ducklings and all of us to collectively solve the problem. We could have walked away, giving up in defeat. Or we could have simply called the park office and left it in their hands, hopeful that they would take care of it. But instead, realizing that we could actually make a difference, we took action. 

It reminds me of the story of the starfish by Loren Eisley. 

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one.”

It is so easy nowadays to zone out, to put the responsibility on someone else, to disconnect from each other and from ourselves. There are lots of things to distract us. They keep us from living in the present moment and seeing the opportunities for miracles that are right there in front of us. Slowing down, paying attention, and actively using our senses allow us to make miracles happen. Especially when they are the motivation behind the actions we choose. 

We can make a difference. Our world (and Mama Duck) is calling for us to do so.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is though everything is a miracle.”    Albert Einstein

I See You: A Lesson For Difficult Times

We all want to be seen. It is in our nature. I remember when my daughters were toddlers and called for my husband and I over and over “Mommy, watch me jump. Daddy, look at my drawing. Mommy did you see me run so fast? Daddy watch me dance.” It went on and on.

As we grow, this desire never goes away. Even the most introverted of us still yearns to be seen.

On my daughter’s last day of middle school, I met the bus driver at the bus stop and gave her a thank you card and a gift of chocolates. I thanked her for keeping my daughter safe on her way to and from school. I wanted her to know that I saw her hard work and dedication despite a challenging year. She smiled a huge smile and with heartfelt gratitude said thank you.

Seeing people who are being kind and helpful is easy. It doesn’t take much effort to connect when things are running smoothly and you are on the same wavelength. It feels nice.

But what happens when we believe differently than someone? When life starts to shake up and we become unsettled? This doesn’t feel quite so nice. Instead of being gracious, we grasp for control and speak our opinion louder. We start to tune out the others because we are fearful of not getting our needs met. We close our eyes to the truth of another. We do not want to see anymore.

I just finished watching the Netflix series “When They See Us”. I was deeply moved in so many ways—a testament to its quality. Honestly, it was hard to watch. The way the boys were treated by both the court system and the prison system—the inability of their parents to help—the struggle the young men had after they were released—the unrelenting focus of the district attorney’s office to convict. While bearing witness to the story, I was able to see the boys and their families.

What is more of a challenge for me is finding some connection with the people who plowed ahead with the case against the boys despite lack of evidence. I want to see them. I want to understand. I know that they were acting from a place of fear and that is understandable. But the rest is hard to grasp.

In this time of great divide and transition, the ability to see the viewpoints of others is so important. I admit. I am quite the beginner at it. Seeing each other is hard work. The feminine qualities of empathy and sensitivity help me navigate these turbulent waters. I can choose to listen with an open ear when others speak. Not with the intention of having to agree, but instead to hold space for them to be heard. I can also choose to look at my own prejudices and beliefs that keep me locked on my own viewpoints.

Like our toddler selves embodied, we all want to be seen and acknowledged. Even those who seem most different from us. The success of others does not mean lack for us. There is room for all of us here.

Man Up: A Soccer Mom Lesson

Today, my daughter had one of the last games of her spring soccer season. While her spring had been dominated by her technical theater commitments at school and studying for the AP exam she took in early May, she was excited to get back onto the soccer field and play one of the last games she would play with this team of girls.

It was hot—about 86 degrees. The parents were all sitting in the stands with water and sunscreen and umbrellas shading ourselves from the windless sunny weather. There were not enough girls to field a full team so they had to play one girl down for the entire game. There were no subs. Playing against a competitive team and having less time recently for conditioning, my daughter was exhausted by the middle of the first half.

From the sidelines (under my big shady umbrella) I yelled, “C’mon get in the game. Hustle.” “Go, go, go!” I yelled some more, “Put your body into it. Get to the ball!” I started to feel this upset rising through my body. Why wasn’t she trying harder? It was only the first half of the game. What was she doing? I was embarrassed of these thoughts I was having but they only got stronger as the game went on. Why were some of her teammates able to hang? Why isn’t she trying harder? The thoughts went on and on but at least by the middle of the second half I covered my mouth and kept my lips zipped.

As my daughter came off the field at the end of the game, it was all she could do to put one foot in front of the other. The upset in my heart began to dissipate a bit as I shared my umbrella and we walked to the car. I still wanted to ask her questions to see why the game was so tough for her. She wanted to chill in the car, figuratively and literally and so it was a quiet car ride home. This was a good thing. It enabled me to ask the questions instead of myself.

Why did I get so incredibly triggered by this game? My ass was sitting on the sidelines under an umbrella while hers was running around in the heat index of almost 90. Why was I comparing her to her teammates? Why wasn’t I happier that she was not pushing herself to collapse?

Like most everything else, it goes back to the “tapes” that were created in my mind early in life. You know the ones that we continue to play even though they are not helpful for us. Songs created in response to the words of family and friends, popular culture, even institutions of learning and praying. One oldie but goodie from my playlist, “man up: work harder, better, faster” was on repeat play at today’s game.

I have valued my ability to be independent and tough. I have pushed through situations and can put in herculean time and effort to succeed. But it has come at a cost. The cost has been my discomfort in failing, in letting someone down, in having a less than stellar performance. While intellectually, I know that failure is a part of growth, I don’t need to please anyone, and many times we have less than stellar performances, emotionally it still hurts. And the thing that really hurts is the realization that I am passing this song to my daughter.

I breathe. I stay with the hurt of this. I breathe some more. I have a choice. Since I have recognized the “man up” song today, I can let my daughter know that she doesn’t have to add that one to her playlist. And I can work on deleting it from mine. I am sure it will not be a one time erasure. It has been one of the standards of my musical collection. But, each awareness that I have gives it less playtime.

Thank you again my dear daughter for being my mirror. Thank you for letting this day roll off of you with ease and teaching your mama a thing or two about forgiveness and worth. I am ready to sit in the stands tomorrow with a new mindset, a new playlist, and my trusty umbrella.

Mama Needs A Timeout

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”   Erma Bombeck

May is in full swing and we are heading into the end of the school year. As a teacher and a mom of school aged children, life has just taken it up a notch—concerts, plays, field trips, tournaments, tryouts, rehearsals, ceremonies–just to name a few. At school, my day is spent convincing my students that they are still in school (a.k.a. herding cats). After work, I rack up the miles on my car, run errands and watch my daughters participate in all of their end of year events.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a bit of charm to this time of year. Everyone has worked hard and the celebratory energy feels good. I love the feeling of pride that comes with completion and a job well done. But, damn I am tired. My house looks like a cyclone hit it, paint projects are still sitting on the floor in our entryway, the dishes are overflowing on the counter and our dinners have consisted of sandwiches and “whatever you can find in the house.”

I know I am not alone. Moms, you know what I am saying, right? Sure, we get one day this month to take a break, thank you Mother’s Day, but afterwards we are right back in it.

So, what do we do?

Number One: We realize that we are in the wild, unruly chaos, that life is flowing swiftly and that we need a timeout.

Number Two: We decide what type of timeout we really want. Is it a warm, bubbly bath or a hot, sweaty run? Maybe a glass of wine and a chat with a girlfriend?  A class at a yoga studio or an impromptu dance party in our living room? Sitting outside by ourself for a few moments or singing at the top of our lungs while driving? A 10 minute power nap in our car while we are waiting for our son’s soccer practice to end or like me today, a power nap that turned into a two hour sleep because my body needed more? Any retreat from responsibility for just a bit can provide respite in a busy day.

Number Three: Be careful of the old habit of putting off self-care until you are caught up with everything else. Here is a hot tip: we will never be caught up with everything else. Our self care needs to be a priority. Seriously. We are worth it. And honestly, our families are worth having a mama who takes care of herself. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first as they say at Southwest. Without it, you aren’t much help to others.

Number Four:  Let go of expectations. Do you need to go to EVERY sporting event that your child has? Do you need to buy the PERFECT gift for your child’s teacher? If your daughter has both a play production and a soccer game scheduled slightly apart, do you NEED to rush in order to take her to the game until halftime and then run her over to the theater for call time? The answers are NO, NO, and NO! We are not superhuman and our families will love us no matter.

Number Five: Let the shit hit the fan sometimes. This is a hard one for me. Perfectionism and doing the right thing have been my constant companions. But, I am learning that my health and well being is much more important than the idea of not letting someone down. I will continue to make mistakes. Might as well make them while taking care of myself in the process.

Number Six: Look for the good. It is there among the dirty dishes and piled up laundry. It is there when your cat throws up on your bed and when the lawn is almost as tall as your mailbox. The small beautiful moments when your partner smiles that smile that made your heart flutter the first time you met, when your daughter offers to make dinner or when your son lets you take a selfie of the two of you together.  

Each day is filled with those kind of moments and when we let go of all the ways we think life should be going, we can see all the ways that life is flowing. How life is loving us. Amidst the sassy teenagers and the clingy toddlers. Amidst the fussy infants and the husbands who do things different from you. The magic is there. And I am realizing that the magic appears more when I take time to refill and renew–step away from the chaos. Take some time in my playpen until I am ready to enter the fray again.

So, let’s make a commitment to our self care. Let’s find at least one way each day to take good care of ourselves. Remember what brings you the most joy in this practice and do it more and more. We mamas are amazing and we deserve all the care and support we give to others. Enjoy!

Honoring Our Divine Feminine: A Letter From a Mama to Her Daughter

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share the letter that I wrote to my daughter, Brooke, on her 13th birthday this past November. I am so grateful that our world is re-awakening to the importance of the divine feminine. May all who consciously embody this beautiful energy, be celebrated today.

Dearest Brooke,

I am amazed that the little girl that I held in my arms for the first time thirteen years ago is now a teenager. You have grown into such a kind, caring, fun loving, creative and strong minded young woman, Daddy, Maya and I are so blessed to have you in our lives.

You are turning thirteen at a really special time in our world’s history. Women are beginning to rise up and speak their story in unprecedented ways. We are claiming the power of our feminine energy and its importance to our survival as humans. Our feminine voices are essential and they are worthy of being spoken.

We claim our collective power by speaking our individual truth. This is not always an easy thing to do. Honestly, it has taken me more than 40 years to learn how to do it! It begins with knowing that you are valuable and that you are unquestionably loved–no matter what.

In my early years, I kept my voice quiet. I was afraid of the reactions and opinions of others. I was afraid of not being understood. I was afraid that I would say the wrong thing. My voice was missing to me and my voice was missed by others.

I now realize that the reactions and opinions of others are theirs to have. I am getting better at not taking them personally. They truly are not personal. I am cool now with doing things differently than the norm. I would rather be myself than conform. I am learning that there is no wrong thing to say as long as I take a moment to connect with my heart before speaking. My voice is no longer missing and others have benefitted from my sharing it.

Girl, you have a powerful soul. Your heart is filled with love and you are ever ready to share it. Sing your beautiful song to the world. The world is longing to hear your gravely low notes and your uplifting high ones.

This life is a wonderful adventure. All experiences are learning opportunities. There is no perfect, no right way, no have to, and no should be. It is all possible and you, my love, are infinitely creative.

You are fully supported by life. You have a community of women around you—holding space for you to be all you desire. Women who know how to laugh and have fun. Women who know how to cry and feel pain. Women who know how to listen deeply and how to speak their thoughts. You are also blessed to have a community of men who support you as well. This is a true gift.

Brooke, I am grateful beyond words that you chose me to be your mother. You are my role model of living life in the moment and finding ways to play each day. Your easy laughter and smile lights up the room and you seem to have a healing presence that affects those around you, humans and animals alike. You are a blessing to our family. I look forward to many, many more memories together on our journey this time around!



What You Are Looking For Determines What You See

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I first heard this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer over 20 years ago. I loved it so much that I bought a sign with the quote. It still hangs in my kitchen where I check it out every morning when I come down to make my coffee. I smile when I read it and think “oh man, that is so true.” Have I been putting it into practice for 20 years? Well……..

To be honest, I have had a lot of experience at being judgmental and looking at what is not going right. I think we humans are conditioned to do this. Just listen to the news one night. It is so much easier to blame other people or to see things in a negative light. There is less responsibility in being the victim or the martyr. “Poor me” gets you more positive attention than “I screwed up” Perhaps our survival instincts keep us seeing life through this lens. When we keep our eyes on the enemy, we can live to see another day. It works. It has kept us humans alive for 66 million years.

But, maybe we can evolve from this mindset. Maybe it is time for us to throw away our “let me find what is wrong and needs fixin and then blame others” colored glasses and get us some “let’s look on the bright side and be grateful” shades. They may be a bit too big on us at first, but I am certain that given time, we will grow into them.

In their bestselling book, The Art of Possibility, the authors Zander and Zander discuss scientific findings that offer proof that our brains are hardwired to create stories to explain our experiences. The stories can have a positive or negative spin on them, it just depends on what story is created. According to the authors, because you have the ability to create an explanation for what you experience, you “might as well invent a story or framework of meaning that enhances [your] quality of life and the life of those around [you].

As I have begun to shift my stories to focus on gratitude and what is going right, my life has been filled with more joy. Yesterday morning I went to the car dealership to have a small repair done. The shop was packed. It was pouring rain and the pace was ssslllllloooooowww. I chose to put on my “I am patient and grateful” spectacles. I was friendly to the repairmen and the other customers who were waiting and in less than an hour, my car was ready (despite predictions of at least a 3 hour wait). The service assistant gave me my key back with a smile and a “have a great day” and I was able to sneak in an acupuncture appointment with my extra time.

Now, it doesn’t always go down this way. Some days we wait for hours. But, no matter what life presents, I have the choice of whether to sit and wait in upset or spend my time in peace.

I am also creating new stories about the wonderful qualities in others and in myself. I see the little gestures of kindness that my daughters give to each other. I observe my coworkers gently caring for the students at our school. I notice how my husband reaches for my hand when we are walking together. I am telling people more and more how much I appreciate them and this has created amazing shifts in my relationships.

And most importantly, I am looking at myself with kinder, gentler, more loving eyes. Yes the wrinkles and gray hair are abundant. But so is my wisdom. Sure, I still occasionally put on those freakin’ “woe is me” glasses. But, they are starting to feel uncomfortable and make me look a bit too old. I am a beginner at loving life in all its ups and downs. Trusting that life can actually be flowing with me and then enjoying the ride. Perhaps I am a dreamer, but I believe that we can all get there. We can reach the tipping point. We can shift our world’s focus from fear and avoidance to one of connectedness and love. It is possible because we are infinitely creative.