Point Your Fingers Towards the Future: Lessons From My Run

Yesterday, I awoke anxious and unsettled. I took my daughter to and from soccer practice in the morning and ran some errands in between. When we got home, I was still feeling off and had this disconcerting energy. I started fussing to my husband about life and all its busyness. The conversation then led me to meddle into his business and so I decided that instead, I was going to quiet my mind and see what was really up. When I checked in with myself, I realized my desire to exercise and move my body. So I threw on my running shoes and headed out the door.

The movement felt good and the time for my mind to clear felt even better. I started to observe the scenery around me and the way my breathing took on an even rhythm. I noticed my lungs begin to wake up (and scream a little). I heard my shoes pounding on the gravel road. I noticed my arms pumping back and forth racking up the steps on my Fitbit. Then I looked down at my hands and noticed my thumbs tucked snuggly inside my fingers. I had noticed this before but I had not thought much more of it other than “Hmm, that is interesting. I wonder why I do that”. Today though, the thought stuck with me. “Why DO I do that?” I didn’t have an answer, so I decided to pull my thumbs out, open my fingers wide and run with my hands splayed open like I have seen some Olympic runners do. Running this way felt a bit awkward at first but it was oh so freeing. I felt a new surge of energy and began to focus more on the path in front of me, my thumbs leading the way. It was then that I realized that this was a metaphor for my life.

My blog post last Sunday was about connecting with my future self and taking one step each day towards my passion. I have made that my practice this week and have allowed new information and ideas to arise. This has been beautiful. Yet, like my fingers were showing me, there is still a part of me that is looking to the past and tucking my vulnerable self in.

There is a lot of stuff in my family’s lineage back there in the past. There are some things I wished I would have done differently. Heck, even today I wished I would have stop my complaining and gotten on with things. But, the past is the past and I am living right here, right now.

I know that the past is important. It has thankfully gotten me and my family this far. But sometimes the energy of the past slides up and overwhelms me with emotion. Like when I found out that a child I know was molested this school year. Or when I heard that my first boyfriend died of a heroin overdose last month. Or when I saw my nephew on CNN in July walking with his hands up out of a hostage situation (to safety thank God). These things makes me want to curl back up into myself and not take the risk. It is hard to be vulnerable when news like this can hit you at anytime.

But, the thing is that when I do not allow myself to be vulnerable and continue to move forward despite uncertainty, I cut off an essential piece of myself—my heart’s deepest desire. I am learning to breathe into my vulnerability and trust that it will all be ok. I am learning to tap into my inner knowing so I can get the support I need to make it through the bumpy patches.  Like the quote from Anais Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” So, let’s together continue to blossom. Let’s spread our hands wide and pump those arms. Our future selves are on top of the hill calling us forward.

Take One Step To Fuel Your Passion Each Day

“Did you take one step toward something that makes you come alive today? If you’re willing to take one humble and meaningful step toward making a dream come true, the Universe will take two. You will be aided. You will get the help you desire and desperately need. Take the step. You’ll win or you’ll learn.”

Leslie Odom Jr., Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning

My book club is reading Leslie Odom, Jr’s book right now and the timing is perfect. So many days lately, this is the message I need to hear. I get caught up in seeing the big picture and then realize how far away I am from the goal line. I feel disheartened and either spend time doing things that are not as important to me or I give up completely and do nothing.

Now the logical part of me knows that this is bullshit. If someone else was telling me this story, I would encourage them to take the next step forward towards their dreams. It seems like an easy decision to make. It’s my passion—why not? But yet, our passions are connected to our hearts and the fear that can come up keeps us tied to the security of what is already known.

What if I take this next step and I fail? How can I ever get to that place I envision? Am I even worthy of that dream? Is this door that is shutting in my life a sign that I should take a different path? Why isn’t this coming easily to me? If it is truly my calling, shouldn’t it be coming more easily?

When these questions fill my head, I know that it is time to stop. It is time to take a breath. It is time to remind myself that I don’t need to do it all today. I only need to take one step in the direction of my goal to bring it that much closer.

I was listening to a talk recently by Kathleen Yarborough, a member of the On Purpose Women Community. One of the suggestions she had for keeping on track with your vision was to ask questions to your future self. If you could give your current self advice from your future self who is already living the life you desire, what would s/he say? Listen to the guidance and know that your future self is always there to support you.

I love this idea. My current self needs some support! How beautiful to look to my future self who already knows what to do. Many belief systems call this version of ourselves our higher self or real self. The part of us not tied into ego concerns. The part of us that knows we are worthy and capable and supported. It is the truth. All my thinking otherwise does not change this fact.

So in this springtime moving forward energy, I commit to taking one step each day to fuel my passion: reading an article on the topic, taking a walk in my neighborhood to allow new inspiration to come in,  calling a friend to talk over an idea. Even the tiniest step forward is enough.

Gratitude Check: Putting Things Into Perspective

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”  Cynthia Ozick

One of my beautiful students was 6 months old when her parents found out that she needed a new heart. Crushed, confused and scared out of their minds, they prayed and prayed for a little infant heart to replace their daughter’s broken one. After many painful days, they got the answer they desperately wanted. Their daughter was going to get a new chance at life.

Flash forward 12 years later, their little girl is thriving: healthy, happy and so very full of love. Even though they sometimes sit on pins and needles during the winter flu season and cross their fingers with all their might during doctor check up visits, they spend their days feeling so much gratitude for the little things in life…their daughter’s smile, an excited explanation of a creative story she wrote, a thumbs up on a doctor’s visit, and cuddling on the couch watching movies together. These parents, like many others facing similar life and death situations, know what it is like to feel grateful. It is all a gift.

Their lives inspire me so much. Thinking of them reminds me to keep my complaints in check. Sure, my house is a mess. Yes, my car needs repairs. And man, these hot flashes are soaking my clothes. I start to go down the rabbit hole. Then I think of her smiling face and my thoughts begin to shift. I have a house. I have a car. I am moving on to a phase in my life filled with new opportunities. And my student is living her beautiful life. Life is truly good.

And Then We Will Live Happily Ever After…..Um, Not Exactly

“I will meet my prince, have a beautiful wedding, and then live happily, happily, happily ever after.” Gina Strauss

“A successful marriage involves falling in love many times, always with the same person.”   Mignon McLaughlin

As a young woman, I dreamed of finding “the one.” Someone who would “complete me” and “make me whole” like the songs and movies said. Someone who would know my every need and meet it without being asked. Someone with whom I would move through life peacefully without ever having to doubt our relationship or our future together. That is what happened to Cinderella, Belle and Sleeping Beauty. They lived happily ever after. Why not me?

When I first met Tony, I was so attracted to his sense of humor, his love of adventure, and his zest for life. We hit it off from the start and enjoyed the intimacy and excitement that new relationships bring. As we dated, we worked through some baggage that both of us brought to the relationship. He let go of some reticence about giving up a bachelor’s life and I developed a deeper level of trust in relationships. We eventually came to a place where we were ready to commit to one another in marriage.

In our early part of marriage, we traveled on a roller coaster. There was excitement living in our new home and creating our new life together as a married couple. At the same time, we struggled with infertility and this put a huge stressor on our marriage. Later, as new parents, we found it hard to carve out time for ourselves and our relationship in the middle of providing for these very needy beings who were so precious to us. It took us time to figure out what our new dance as married people with kids looked like. Putting so much focus on our girls caused us to forget about the need for special time as a couple. Speaking with other parents, I realize that this is not an uncommon experience. As parents, we want to give our children the best of us. While this is a beautiful idea, the flip side of it is that we lose giving the best of us to ourselves and to our partners.

I remember bombarding Tony one evening as he walked in the door from a long day at work. After having spent another day with my then 2 year old and 9 month old, I looked at him with desperate eyes and said “I need a break. You and I need a break together. And we need a break together NOW.” I didn’t care where we went. I didn’t care what we did. All I knew whas that I was feeling myself slipping away and with it the intimacy, fun and adventure we used to share together. Oh sure, it is intimate to watch our little girls learn to walk and it is fun to take our girls to the zoo and watch them coo to the animals and it is adventurous to take two kids to the beach for the day. But I was looking for something different, the old days, the newlywed days, you know.

I hated the fact that I had yearned so long for a child and now that I had two of them, the thing that I wanted most was to be alone without them for a little while. But it was the truth. It was my truth in that moment. No joke.

Thankfully Tony heard me. He really heard me. Instead of the weekend trip to Cape May that I was thinking of, he came home the next day with brochures to Jamaica. OH YEAH! That is what I was really talking about! Going against all the “guilty mom” feelings that I was feeling, we decided to take our trip a few months later. Even the anticipation of the trip was enough to hold me over until the actual trip. I have to admit. It was A-MA-ZING! No diaper bags, no scheduled naps (besides our own), no toddler tantrums, only my hubby and I traveling around the resort with only a room key to carry (well, maybe a drink or two). The kids loved their time with their grandparents (they were treated like royalty) and we came back home reconnected, refreshed and ready to share our love with our babies again.

As busy parents of teenagers now, we still make a practice of making special time to be together. Life is still full of ups and downs (and it always will be). But we know the importance of reconnecting when we start to drift apart. We just planned an overnight trip to a local destination for next weekend. And we know that while planning for a trip away from the routine is wonderful, we don’t need to do too much to reconnect. Sure time for amazing sex always helps, but so does a dinner out without the kids, a shared appointment at a local community acupuncture center or a hike together at the local reservoir. In the end, the more we find time to connect and reignite that passion from our earlier years, the happier our family will be.

So, maybe it is not so much “and they lived happily ever after”. Maybe instead it is “and sometimes life was smooth and they felt connected and sometimes life was bumpy and they were carried away from each other but they were aware of each other’s value and took steps to reconnect when needed and this led them to fall in love with each other over and over again.” Well, something like that.

Mama Moment: It’s A New Day

“In the morning, I feel like I was just made all over again.”  (age 6)

In the new morning I remember what I did yesterday and then I do something new. I forget yesterday’s stuff and start all over again. (age 5)

These wise and insightful quotes are taken from Mimi Doe’s book The 10 Principles of Spiritual Parenting. This is one of my favorite books relating to parenting and one of my inspirations to begin to look at life with more conscious eyes. The quotes relate to her 10th principle: Make Each Day a New Beginning.

Like these children already know, each day is a start of something new. The sun has set on yesterday and has risen again for the new day. This is particularly evident in the spring. Spring is a time for new beginnings. The trees show their buds and the flowers bloom again. Life is literally starting anew.

How important this is to remember in our relationship with our children! One of the most powerful things that we can do as a parent is to show our children how to start over.

One way to do this, described by my dear parenting mentor Molly Koch, is to make time for “necessary conversations.” In these conversations, perhaps in the car or at bedtime, we model apologizing for a mistake we’ve made or letting go of a negative feeling we’ve been having. This might not be an easy thing to do. In fact, it can require the summoning of all your courage. At the same time, it is critically important in building trust and respect in your relationship with your child.

One night several years ago, after a particularly stressful day, I lost my temper and said some things to my daughter that made me cringe even while saying them. Instantly, I felt horrible for having said them but I knew since they were out of my mouth and into her ears, it was too late to take them back. It was one of those mama moments that I swore would never happen. For a while, I rode the waves of guilt and self-criticism. Eventually I realized that this wasn’t helping either one of us so I decided to talk to my daughter and have that “necessary conversation.”

As I began to apologize for my unkind words, I saw her shoulders relax.  Her eyes begin to water and her breathing started to deepen. Tears of relief ran down her face. After holding her in my arms, she smiled and said “I forgive you.” Then I began to cry, overcome with a tremendous sense of love and gratitude for my daughter. In that moment, we were both able to let go of the hurt feelings and reconnect on an even deeper level. It was a gift.

Nowadays, parenting teenagers, my “necessary conversations” seem to happen more often as we are dancing to this new song of independence and letting go of control. It is equally as humbling and just as important.

As we move more completely into springtime energy, remember that each day, each hour, each moment brings us opportunity to start anew. Thank goodness for that.

Goat Yoga to the Rescue

Peanut Butter and I

My daughter, Brooke, has been asking to go to a goat yoga class since we first learned about it over a year ago. I have been procrastinating for several reasons not the least of which is the idea of goats climbing all over me and peeing on my yoga mat. But, I love animals and it didn’t take much arm twisting for her to finally win me over when we saw there was a class offered in our neighborhood. We asked my other daughter, Maya, and their close friend to join us and by the time the class came around, we were all ready for this new adventure.

Let me set the scene for you. This past week, perimenopausal hormones have been surging in my body and I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions. Lots has been bubbling up for me and to be honest, earlier that day I had been feeling a little depressed. So, when we walked in the door of the yoga studio and were greeted by an adorable white and brown goat, I felt a lightness begin to come over me. A smile broke out on my face as I bent over to pet this little furry being coming over to welcome me.

After filling out the paperwork, we all walked into the yoga room. It was a full house and yoga mats covered almost every inch of the floor. Brooke and her friend grabbed two spots by the front, Maya grabbed a space at the back and I landed right in the middle of the room. Before the class began, one of the leaders handed out carrots and animal crackers so that we could entice the goats to come back to us and give us opportunities for more pets and cuddles.

The class began after a short update by the yoga teacher who explained that we will be doing a regular yoga class, but that it was understandable if we wanted to stop our posing in order to take pictures with the goats or take a moment to snuggle with them. After all, the goal is a peaceful mind, right?

The stars of the event were an adorable pair of goat brothers who were only 3 weeks old. Peanut Butter and Jelly were highly sought after and brought sheer delight as they circled the room. Some of us were the lucky ones who caught one of them as they walked by and brought them close for a hug. My daughter, Maya, was love-struck by Peanut Butter. After he melted into her body while she was holding him, she laid him on her lap and he slept there for the entire class, 50 minutes worth.

The class was an experience of relaxed and pleasurable commotion. Lots of laughs were shared as the goats meandered around the room eating the animal crackers, unwantedly nibbling on shirts, patiently receiving loving strokes, and awkwardly climbing on class participants. The teacher, sensing the bonding that was happening, finished off the class with some group poses that involved reaching out for each other’s hands for support while holding a difficult pose. It was a love fest all around.

After the class, people hung around to take more pictures of the goats and to get a few more snuggles in before leaving. After prying Peanut Butter from Maya’s arms, we were able to say our goodbyes and head home.

I left the class with a renewed sense of hope and a heart filled with joy. The unconditional love that I felt from these animals along with the love emanating from the community that formed around them was palpable. Even though we had challenged our bodies and worked through some shit (literally), we found a sense of merriment in the experience. I realized that like the goats, we can all be awkward and have poor timing and at times need to get away from it all and take a long nap. But, no matter, we are still loveable and can bring immense joy to those around us. Thank you Peanut Butter, Jelly and all your goat buddies for teaching me this lesson. Breakaway Yoga Studio, I’ll be baaaaaack.

My Body is Worthy: A Tale of Percentages

I remember going to the doctor’s office when I was a little girl. “Your daughter is in the 90th percentile of height and weight” was what the doctor would tell my mother each time we went. Cool, I thought. If this is anything like the tests I take in math, I am scoring pretty high. It was not until my body started to shift into puberty that I began to understand what those percentiles actually meant. I was taller and heavier than 90% of the other girls my age. It made sense. I towered over every girl in my 8th grade class and there were only 2 boys in the entire school who were taller than me. I wanted to be petite and cute like many of the other girls in my class. They were the ones that the boys liked, something I so desperately wanted at that time. In my head, I associated short stature and a thin body with beauty. I wanted to shrink–to take up less space so that my size was less noticeable. I denigraded my large framed body because I thought it was ugly and fat and too much. At 14, my biggest goal was to lose 30 pounds off of my 150 pound, 5’7” frame.

Through my teenage years, this wanting to be smaller oozed its way into my emotional being. I shrank my wants and needs so that the people around me could have the space instead of me. I shut down my feelings and quieted my voice in an effort to go under the radar and go unnoticed.

As I got older, the bodies of others caught up in size to mine. In college, I felt less awkward but I was still concerned about my weight. I tried the “no fat”, cabbage soup, shake for dinner, and “no carb” diets. I exercised religiously but instead of working out to make my body feel good, my goal was to force it into submission. I was happy when I was “in shape” but racked with shame when I veered off track. I remember feeling so guilty when I ate a much desired Snickers after running a marathon, 26.2 miles!

Throughout my adolescence, the guys I dated were kind hearted and loved my body without any ounce of criticism. When I met my dear husband, Tony, I was so scared of him finding another woman, someone smaller and prettier than me, that my fears and mistrust almost ended our relationship.

This mistrust and at times hatred of my body continued through the beginning of our marriage and ramped up when we were trying to have our first child. It was the thing that I wanted most in the world–to be a mother. Month after month of negative readings on the pregnancy test stick, month after month of the pressure, the strained sex, the emotional roller coaster, the ”your uterus is hostile to his sperm” diagnosis, no ovulation– all failure that was my body’s fault.

It really wasn’t until I truly listened to my body that I was able to heal. Using my goal of motherhood as my inspiration, I found support while I gave a voice to the parts of my body I had previously condemned. Acupuncture, massages, bubble baths, yoga, herbal remedies, craniosacral therapy combined with counseling allowed me to touch layers of pain, comfort myself and release my body from many of its stuck points. My body that up to that point had gotten me to where I was–the body that had made its way through some childhood shocks, run a marathon, backpacked through Europe, finished a Master’s degree and created a beautiful home. This connection and newfound love for my body allowed me to have my two beautiful daughters and set me on the path to building a strong supportive marriage with my man.

Even though I am still on this journey, here is what I have learned so far.  There is no comparison to us. We are unique yet at the same time part of the whole. Our hips, our stomach, our face, our hair, our breasts, our arms, our inner body systems are perfect. No comparison needed. We are God—gentle, good hearted, capable, protected, loved fully and complete no matter what.

Instead of checking the scale for our weight, looking to the media for others to compare ourselves to, and listening to the advice of well meaning family and friends, there is another way. We don’t have to follow anyone’s guidelines as to who we are. Instead we can ask ourselves some questions. How do I feel? How am I treating myself? Am I surrounding myself with support? Am I living in joy? And if the answers to these questions are not what we want to hear, then we can take action to make the necessary changes. We are that powerful. We are that infinitely creative.

All the charts and all the scales and all the data are meaningless. We are not 90% anything. We are 100% everything.

Sex, Drugs and Gratitude: What I’ve Learned From Chauffeuring My Teenagers

“I know a lot of people at my school who are vaping now.”

“Yeah, there are a bunch of kids at my school who smoke weed. They post pictures of themselves on Instagram lighting up.”

“One boy at my school just got caught for selling cocaine in the bathroom.”

“One girl in my class is having sex and living with her boyfriend.”

I am listening to my 13 year old daughter talk to her friend while driving them home one afternoon. I begin to comment on the discussion when Rumi’s words pop into my head “the quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.” So I zip my lips and tune my ears to listen a little deeper.

I am not naive enough to think that kids aren’t doing drugs or having sex in middle school. With hormones surging, independence from parents blooming and questions of “where do I fit in?” ever present, it is not surprising. What I am surprised about is how these things are a part of my daughter’s  normal conversations with friends. And I didn’t know.

I sit in silence because I want to learn more. As they continue to talk, I work on keeping my mind open and free from judgements about their classmates. Someday these will be conversations that hit a little closer to home.

I hold myself back from yelling out “Wait girls, wait! It will be here soon enough.” I want to tell them that they will one day have sex. And perhaps one day they will smoke weed. And maybe one day even live with their boyfriend. I have to admit to a yes for me on all accounts. But, I also want to tell them that those waters are deep so take time before jumping in. Adulthood will come soon enough and with it all the emotions and experiences that are a part of it. I want to tell them to enjoy the innocence and lightness that comes with a life not beholden to drugs or boyfriends or having to act a certain way to fit in or feel loved.

I want to tell them this but I know that now is not the moment. I hear that they are not asking for my opinion. So instead I sit in silence and I listen. In my listening, I am able to dip into the feelings that are bubbling up in me. Fear, anxiety, apprehension are pushing and shoving to get to the forefront of my mind. I wonder what else is going on that I don’t know about. Will she be able to navigate her way through high school relationships and pressures? Have Tony and I done enough to prepare her?

I take a deep breath.  And then I breathe again. A small wave of gratitude begins to emerge, pushing past the fear. Hmmm, pretty cool that they trust me enough to talk about things in front of me (even though they probably have forgotten that I am there!). Breathe. The small wave gains momentum. Equally cool that they recognize that they have choices to make as opposed to simply doing what everyone else is doing. Breathe. My daughter does not live in a bubble and I do not want her to. She was born to be resilient and strong and trusting of her inner wisdom. Breathe.

With each breath, my fear begins to dissipate. All is well. I am simply the parent of a teenager who is beginning her move into adulthood and spread her wings. I settle into my seat a little more and smile understanding the precious gift that this chauffeuring gig has given me. And my heart gives a little flutter knowing there is much more to come.  

Feel the Fear

Life’s unknowns are uncomfortable. Hands sweaty, heart racing kind of uncomfortable. As much as I love the idea of change and growth and the excitement of new possibilities, the idea of not knowing scares me. I know it comes from wanting to be in control or at least knowing what is coming next. While most of me trusts that a higher power is taking care of me, I have moments, some days more than others, where I want to run back and hide in my comfort zone. It is so cozy in there. I know what to expect and the bartender knows my name. But, after awhile the coziness begins to feel stifling and my heart starts to tell me that there is more waiting for me outside. From past experience, I recognize that my heart knows what it is talking about and if I don’t listen, I will get an even bigger nudge from Life.

We have been spending time on the weekends going to open houses. About a year ago, we decided that we wanted to move out of our home in order to downsize and move into a space that would afford us more freedom and simplicity. Since the new year, we have been preparing our house for the move–doing the renovations that we can, hiring someone to help us with what we can’t and going through our huge collection of stuff in order to take with us only what fills us with joy. Thank you Marie Kondo. I am excited for the move and yet I feel fear rise up in me. Are we doing this for the right reasons? What if we can’t find a home in our price range that matches our desires? What if I miss our old house too much?

The move also brings up the realization that I am preparing for a new phase of my life. A life without my daughters living in the same house with me. This thought makes my heart tighten even as I write this. Empty nesters. While it was a term I dreamed about when my girls were both fiercely “no-saying” toddlers, now that it is almost upon me, fear and sadness rise up with the strength of a volcano. What will I do without them at home? So much time on my hands. Will they be safe in their adult adventures? There is so much out there. Would it be too intrusive to text them everyday and tell them that I love them and to use condoms? Well, maybe.

Next week, my daughter Brooke will find out if she gets into her much desired high school. She spent her fall cooking, singing and writing so that she would be ready for the auditions that she had early in the winter. Her heart was beating out of her chest before, during and after each audition but she held true to her desire and breathed through her fear. She told me that no matter what the email says on Friday, she knows that she gave it her all and that is what matter mosts.

Last week, my husband, Tony, had an interview for a job that he has been pursuing for several months. The job is an opportunity that matches his skills more directly, is closer to home and will offer him the daily support and challenge he is desiring. His excitement for the new experience was palpable. He was a recruiters dream. He researched the company, prepared questions for the interviewers, brought copies of his resume, and even wore a newly purchased suit that reflected his professionalism and sophistication. Clear in his intentions, he walked into the interview both nervous and confident, ready for this next step. The smoking hot new suit helped too I am sure.

I guess that is how it goes. At least for those of us wanting to live life fully on the dance floor. Whether we are applying to a dream high school, interviewing for a more fulfilling job or publishing a blog for all to see (yes I am terrified), when we leave our comfort zone, fear is going to be there. Our primitive brain still has a job to do and even though we are not being chased by saber-toothed tigers, it still wants to protect us. We can say “thank you amygdala for doing your job. We got this.”

We can feel the fear, let it move through us and take the next step forward knowing that on the other side of our fear is a deeper sense of confidence. Now more than ever, our world needs us to be brave. Brave with love for ourselves and love for others. Brave in living our very best life, our heart’s deepest longing. Let’s give it our all. That is what matters most.

Staying In My Own Lane

My title and topic were inspired by my dear friend and coach Elizabeth St. Germain

I love to drive. I love to get behind the wheel and navigate from one place to another. Sitting behind the wheel, I am in control of my car. There are lots of possibilities and adventures awaiting me, yet I am the navigator who chooses how fast to go, which route to take, and who I am inviting along for the ride.

The thing is that I have become very practiced at not only driving my own car but also taking over the wheel of others. I take it upon myself to become a kind of GPS system for others. Thinking that I am being helpful, I share my opinion. Only in the name of love, I offer unsolicited advice. With the best intentions in mind, I attempt to shape the choices made by others.

You see, I am one of those people whose comes up as “caretaker” in all those quizzes that pop up on Buzzfeed (yes, I admit I take them). I feel good inside when I know that I have helped someone else. Others even thank me for my help. It is not a bad thing. Really. However, when I  cross over that yellow line into someone else’s lane, I take away their personal power and authority. I also take away their opportunity to navigate how fast to go, which route to take and who they want to invite along for the ride. This is not a good thing. Really.

One of my favorite quotes from Glennon Doyle is maybe love is just the opposite of control”. When I first heard this, “BAM” it hit me right in my heart space. She was saying when you love others, cleanly love others, you do not try to control them. Not even a little. You do not try to control how they look, act, or speak. You leave room for them to share their ideas, disagree, feel and express their emotions. You let them make their own choices. In essence, you set them free from your expectations.

Interestingly, I have come to know that in setting my loved ones free, I also set myself free. No longer do I want to spend my energy worrying about their choices. When I let go, I have more  time and energy to figure out what I want to do in my own life. I am using less of my time to control others which is allowing me more time to live my happy life.

To be honest, as a recovering caretaker, this can be scary as sh*t. I am looking into some deep places to find out who I truly am and what will bring me joy. I am letting the proverbial poo hit the fan in the lives of others instead of jumping in to caretake. I am recognizing that I am worth honoring first in my life and that others can handle themselves just fine. It is not easy. We all work in very subtle ways. But, the beautiful shifts that are happening in my relationships and within me are worth the effort.

So, now my goal is to drive with both hands on the wheel. My wheel. I help when asked only after checking in with my inner knowing to make sure that my intentions are pure. I stay focused on my joy and take responsibility for being the one to bring it to my life. I have to say that this feeling of freedom that is bubbling up in me is greater than any road trip I could imagine.