Sunday, December 28, 2014

Creativity: #reverb15 Day 28

Creativity: What does being creative mean to you?  How do you express your creativity?

Creativity - that elusive state that I wish I was in more often.

In the four years that I've had this blog I've actually written less this year than any other. The year of my mom's death and the year of my divorce I wrote more frequently. Although I'm not sure I was more creative during those times, rather I just needed to write as a way to release the pain.

This month has been a bit more of a productive month for me. Thanks to #reverb14 I've written more this month than I have all year. I also have redone my kitchen with new paint, refurbished cabinets and new decor that I created myself. I'm proud of both accomplishments.

Looking back I think I've been feeling kind of stagnant this year.  I've made no forward progression in any area of my life; professionally, socially or economically. That stagnation applies to my creativity as well.

The divorce propelled me forward into new and unknown terrain. But now I'm just sitting here not sure where to go or what to do next. #reverb14 was the jolt I needed to start writing more frequently. Now I just need a kick in the butt to get myself moving forward again too.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Project Reverb.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Thanks & Gratitude: #reverb14 Day 25

What are you so grateful for?  How did you count your blessings in 2014? 

I've written gratitude lists off and on for a few years now. I know that one of the ways to pull myself out of a downward spiral is to step back and look at what I have to be grateful for.

Sometimes I'm good at acknowledging all I have to be grateful for. Sometimes I'm not.

As I was wrapping Christmas gifts late one night this week, I had a temporary moment of feeling sorry for myself. As a single mom the budget is tight. I had been doing pretty good saving ahead for Christmas, but this summer a crisis with one of my kids wiped out that savings in all of 10 minutes. The ensuing bills meant there just wasn't any money left over to save. So I did the best I could and each payday purchased one gift.

Although each of my six kids knew that there would only be two presents a piece under the tree this year, when I saw the gifts all wrapped and ready for the tree I felt sad. And even a little guilty that I couldn't give them more.

But then looking at the 12 gifts sitting on my bedroom floor I realized, wait a minute, this isn't too bad. In fact for the financial hardships I've had this year this is actually pretty good. Each kid was getting what they really wanted! I decided to stop dwelling on what I couldn't do, and instead focus what I had been able to accomplish.

My current gratitude list:

  • My six kids whose list of wants is short
  • Friends who have stepped up to help me make sure my kids are raised surrounded by love
  • Coworkers who have gone from employees, to friends to family
  • Health of my family and friends
  • The special people in my life who know how to make me smile, make me cry and make me laugh through my tears.
  • People there to greet me as I get off an airplane
  • Hard, sweaty gym workouts that clear my head any time I need
  • Technology that allows texts/calls/emails/chats anytime just to say Hi and I'm thinking of you.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Project Reverb

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ending With Certainty: #reverb14 Day 21

Today, I'd like you to revisit what you wrote on 1 December on the first day of Reverb14.
How does that compare to where you are now i.e. what can you say today with certainty?

On the first day of #reverb14 I wrote a pretty dark and depressing post. At the time, I meant everything I said and even now I don't feel the need to take any of it back. The only thing I can say right now with absolute certainty is I still know nothing.

I don't know the future.
I don't know the reasons for everything in my past.
I don't know on some nights how I will make it through the next day, month, year.
I don't know the answers to so many questions I continue to ask.

However, after a few weeks of purging my demons into blog posts and a bit of an emotional breakdown, I am certain of a few things.

I know I have friends who care about me.
I know I am intelligent and have value to offer to the person who is open to accepting it.
I know that the only person in my life I really have any control over is myself.
I know the only thing stopping me from living a life worth living is me.

Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following sentences:
In 2015, I am open to...


In 2015, I want to feel...

Genuine happiness. Love. A sense of accomplishment.

In 2015, I will say no to...

Those who make me feel worthless. Myself when I tell myself I'm not good enough.

In 2015, I will know I am on the right track when… 

I am living my life with ease. My life may not be easy, but I won't be muscling my way through trying to force the world around me to conform, only causing me more suffering.

But when I find myself veering off course, I will gently but firmly…

Force myself back into what I know works: self care, exercise, sleep, asking for help.

In December 2015, I want to look back and say...

This is the year I finally stopped saying "I'm going to..." and instead say " I did...".

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Do It Anyway: #reverb14 Day 15

What are you really proud that you made happen in 2014, despite the gremlins? And what will you do anyway in 2015?

In 2014 I finally, after way too long, finished my book: Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom.

The book was sidelined so many times because of divorce, kids and work. But mostly it took so long because of my own inner demons telling me it was stupid to think I had the ability to write a book. I've written about this picture before. But this picture is by far one of my prouder moments this year.

My kids reading my  book to see if
their names are in it.

I haven't done much since getting the galley copies of the book back. I still need to find someone to help me format it. The two people I asked to read it and give me a small quote for the back cover both told me they just didn't have time. But mostly I haven't done anything further with it because the gremlins are telling me that it really is stupid.

In 2015 it's time to shut the gremlins up. The book may not be a bestseller and it's possible no one will buy it. But I want to see what may very well be the one and only copy ever printed sitting on my bookshelf.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Don't Be An A**hole: #reverb14 Day 17

How can you stop being an a**hole, get out of your own way and make room for more of your magic to happen in 2015?

Today I was a real asshole. In fact, before I even saw this prompt I used the word asshole in referring to my behavior today.

Actually for the past few weeks I've been an asshole. It just all became clear today how much of an asshole I've really been.

It's been a rough patch lately and once again I've been hurt and feel abandoned. So, being the "I'm so strong I don't need anyone" type that I am, I retreated to my usual defense mechanisms and pulled back from the world.

My defense mechanisms have been fine-tuned over time and I'm so good at them, I rarely even notice when I first begin to go into safety mode.

  • Step one: Pull back from those who care about me.
  • Step two: Stop sleeping.
  • Step three: Feel defeated and see the future as hopeless.
  • Step four: Lash out at those closest to me in an attempt to drive them away, thus proving to myself that no one really cares about me anyway. 
  • Step five: Break down crying out of exhaustion, desperation and fear.

It works every time.

Well it works to get me to the point of breaking down crying out of exhaustion, desperation and fear. And then those closest to me, who have endured my wrath patiently, will wrap their arms around me and remind me that I really don't need to always be the strong one. And maybe if I'd just open myself to the possibility of being loved, I would see that I truly am loved.

And then I cry some more. And finally sleep.

It's a pattern I have repeated all too often in my life. And I'm grateful that those closest to me are there to see me through it each time. And are there to pick me up at the end.

In 2015, I'd really really like to stop being so much of an asshole. I'd like to learn to reach out for help instead of retreating out of fear. And opening myself up to the possibility of, well, possibility.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Roots and Anchors: #reverb14 Day 14

The idea of rooting down into your own personal beliefs and center of truth is an ongoing process, and many things can serve as anchors or roots as you move through life.
What rooted or anchored you in 2014?
And where do you want to put down roots in 2015?

Earlier this summer I wrote about feeling weighted down by the responsibilities of the world.  In the post I wrote:

A few weeks ago a coworker returned from her vacation and gifted me with a jeweled anchor necklace. She told me she saw the anchor and thought of me because I'm the one that always anchors everyone together both at work and at home. I mean it when I tell her she's beautiful, the necklace is beautiful and the thought is beautiful.

But what I'm really thinking are anchors are the ones drowning on the bottom trying to keep everyone else afloat. I feel like I'm drowning here. I almost can't breathe I'm dropping so far down.

Who is going to save me? Oh yeah, no one.

I do believe I have some anchors in my life weighing me down and probably keeping me from... well I'm not sure what. Something better? Maybe. Keeping me from exploring new territory? Yes definitely.

In many ways I am stuck. Just kind of bobbing along waiting to see what floats my way. Never really venturing out to navigate on my own. Playing it safe staying tethered to the place I know.

I can use the excuse I have so many people depending on me. I have to play it safe. And that's a very true and valid excuse. But it's also a little stifling.

In 2015 I'd like to take just a few more chances. Risk just a little bit more. And get out of my comfort zone.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Brave Year: #reverb14 Day 13

Step one: set the timer for 5 minutes and write down as many answers as you can think of to the question: 'When and how was I brave in 2014?' Note: remember the private, intimate and small ways in which you were brave as well as the big public ways.

  • On a stormy summer night I looked up at a 19 year old almost man yet who is still my baby, who is taller than me and bigger than me, and said "you will get in this car."
  • I watched as an ER nurse took this almost man/still my baby from me and said "You can't come back here with him."
  • I sat most of the night in the ER staring at the door that my almost man/still my baby was behind. I waited for the nurse to come back and tell me what's going on. I waited all night.
  • I drove home from the ER early the next morning. Alone.
  • Two weeks later I rushed back to the hospital and caught this almost man/still my baby in my arms as he broke down sobbing. I allowed myself to cry with him.
  • I stood up to those who have hurt him/ hurt us and said no more. You will not hurt him/hurt us anymore.

Step two: Choose one of more of those moments of bravery and write a letter yourself back at the beginning of 2014, letting you know how brave you are going to be that year.

Hey, remember those dark and scary nights from 2012 when you thought your life was over? Yeah, well, get ready because you are about to have some dark and scary nights again. Except this time you won't be in fear for your own life. No. This is worse. You will be in fear for your child's life.

But it's OK. Two years ago prepared you. You know how to fight. You know that nothing and no one will stop you from fighting for what you believe in. Or for who you believe in. You know now who to trust and who to confide in. More importantly, you know now who you can never trust. You know who is poison and you are prepared to do what it takes to keep the poison from infecting your family any longer.

Step three: Write yourself a short reminder to tuck into your wallet or post above your desk of just how brave you can and will be in 2015.

YOU GOT THIS. Don't let yourself forget that. Ever. 

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ritual & Routine: #reverb14 Day 11

What tiny rituals: signal that your day is starting; help you ease into a creative project; give you closure from an intensive task; or mark other significant milestones in your day? What new rituals would you like to create in the new year?

I am a creature of habit.

I eat the same things. I go to the same few places. I wear the same clothes.

Each day is basically the same as the day before. Rise, work, eat, work, prepare for the next day, sleep. And repeat. It's my own version of Groundhog Day.

Routine is a necessity with a large family. There's no way six kids could get out the door in the morning without a set routine that can not be deviated. Daily chores are assigned to everyone. They know who is expected to do what and when it is to be done.

For some reason though my kids will sometimes ask "what are we doing tomorrow?" My answer is always the same. "Well I'm going to work and you're going to school." Even they realize that the routine is a bit too much like Groundhog Day.

Because the routine is so structured and so necessary, there is very little room for ritual. At this point a ritual seems a bit extravagant. There's not much time for anything beyond what must be done.

The rituals I have attempted, and enjoyed, come and go based on life circumstances.  I used to be an almost regular at morning meditation. But now I'm too tired to get out of bed early.  For a few months I had a ritual of taking Sunday mornings for myself. But the cost of gas combined with the cost of yoga quickly became financially prohibitive. I'm not a coffee drinker so I don't have that ritual of enjoying the first morning cup like so many others I know. I do enjoy my weekly Friday afternoon 30 minute round trip drive alone into town to deposit my check and pick up an iced tea at Starbucks. I suppose that has become a ritual. Yet even that is a ritual with a purpose - deposit the check to pay the bills.

I think the lack of personal ritual in my life is because I'm so focused on getting things done that I don't take the time to enjoy the process along the way.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Generosity: #reverb14 Day 10

Look back at the last year and consider: how did generosity open your heart? How can you cultivate generosity in the coming year?

Generosity. I've been very fortunate that so many people have been generous with me and my kids. And I'm forever grateful for that.

I am surrounded by people who are having financial struggles right now. Medical bills, car repairs and legal issues have hit most of my small circle this year. We are all struggling. But we are all struggling together.

This past year I've seen items that could have been sold given away to someone who needed them. I've witnessed offers of not just helping someone move, but actually offering to drive the 18 hours to get them to their new home. When one of our group used her savings to help a family member in legal trouble, the rest quickly huddled together to figure out a way to make sure she still had a little something for herself too.

This year I have witnessed first hand that those who have the least tend to give the most.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shades of Grey: #reverb14 Day 9

As you enter into the new year, what would you like to do/make/have/be more often? 

Laugh more. Love more. Travel more. Relax more. Stress less. Doubt less.

How will you bear witness and celebrate the tiny milestones? 

I will stop playing small. Stop saying 'it's no big deal'. Acknowledge that every accomplishment, no matter how small, is still an accomplishment. 

How will you respond on the occasions when your intentions do not come to pass?

I will remind myself that very little is truly black or white. Motives count. Losing weight, writing a book, finding a job, financial stability, etc aren't accomplished in one dramatic action. It's small incremental steps over the long haul. One bad day doesn't make the goal a failure. One bad day (or even too many bad days stringed together) doesn't make me a failure.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Connections: #reverb14 Day 8

How have you created and/or sustained connections in your life this year?

I am overly connected in my life. Yesterday I intentionally put my phone out of reach for 2 hours. When I went back to get it, I had 22 text messages. Twenty-two messages in two hours. Crazy! I am always just a text message away from my kids and my coworkers. Sometimes that gets stifling.

I've been told I am very available to my kids. It's been said in one of those "oh it's a good thing but kind of a bad thing too" kind of way. Yes, if my kids call or text, I will answer. Deal with it.

This summer, what could have been a tragedy, turned out to be an opportunity to reconnect with Kid 1.  For a few years now I've felt him slipping away from me. I don't mean in the usual just getting older kind of way. I mean this kid is checking out. He's not just pulling away from me, he's pulling away from the world.

It scared me. But I couldn't reach him.

In hindsight, I'm thankful everything came crashing in on him this summer. It shocked him back to the world and to the help he needed. Even though for weeks we were separated from each other, we were constantly connected. Twenty-four hours a day that phone was next to me and I answered no matter where I was or what I was doing.

And it was me that he called. No one else. He wanted to connect with me.

Since he's been home, we are re-learning how to connect with each other. At 20 years old he is but a man child. I have learned to sit back and watch him learn to navigate his way to adulthood. And to be available when he needs help.

I don't think I even realized how much he had slipped away. Now that he's back I'm sometimes surprised when he interacts with the family. I always knew he was smart and funny. But now he lets everyone see that. It makes my mom heart happy when I see him reconnecting with his brothers. He makes an effort now to be involved in their life as well. The siblings had distanced themselves from him for many years. They also are learning reconnect with him.

I believe that Kid 1 now sees the importance of staying connected. He has forged a bond with a new group of people that want him to succeed. Recently, he admitted he felt himself having the potential to slip down but instead he reached out and connected with a member of his group.

It was just a phone call. But it was the connection he needed to let him know he's not alone, he's worth fighting for and to make the decision to keep moving forward.

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Selfie: #reverb14 Day 7

Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2014, self-portrait or otherwise

After a day of biking through
New York City
Time for the annual selfie round up. This is actually a fun post to write because it's light hearted and reminds me there were many good times this year.

As I scrolled through my phone looking for which picture to use, one thing jumped out at me. All these pictures were taken when I was happy. The kind of living in the moment, fully present, no holding myself back, letting myself be happy kind of happy.

Black Light 5K
I need more of that kind of happiness in my life.

I need to let myself have more of that kind of happiness in my life.

My chiropractor says I should
lay off TRX training for a bit
because it's causing some shoulder issues.
Ha! My chiro thinks she's funny.
Another interesting thing I noticed is that in all of these happy picture times, I'm being physically active.

There is a scientifically proven link between being physically active and staying mentally healthy. I don't need the science to prove it. I know that when I am more physically active I am better equipped to keep depression away. When I'm physically strong I'm mentally strong.

And it's not even a vanity thing. If I take the time to sweat it out in the gym or flow through yoga, I'm more confident in all areas
of my life. I'm better equipped to handle the stress and uncertainty of being a single mom working two jobs.

Hiking the waterfalls in
Columbia River Gorge
Other happy times are when I take a break from being the working too much, financially stressed single mom and get away for a bit. This year I was lucky enough to take a trip out to Portland. A week of sleeping, yoga, biking, hiking, eating healthy food, laughing and being pampered was what I needed to return refreshed and ready to continue on.

I don't get to travel as much now that my life is different than it was a few years ago. But the desire to travel is still there and still a priority. And one I plan on holding on to no matter what.

Finally, my favorite group selfie this year. It's another time I let myself forget the worries and just have some fun. I saved and scraped for a couple months to take me and the kids to the fair. At $10 per person just to walk in the gate and $20 per person to ride the rides, yes the fair involves pre-planning and saving.

As the Tilt-A-Whirl was spinning at dizzying speeds Kid 4 said 'hey give me your phone' and snapped this picture. I'll eventually be getting this enlarged and hung on our family wall in the living room.

Selfie on the Tilt-A-Whirl
Looking back, my iPhone captured quite a bit of happiness this year.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Biting Back: #reverb14 Day 6

Despite our usually sunny dispositions and dedication to the practice of “assuming positive intent,” we all occasionally find ourselves having to deal with an incredibly unpleasant individual.
While I’m sure you always handle it with the tact and finesse for which you’ve become so well known, I’m going to ask you to step outside yourself for just a moment.
Think back to such a situation: if the gloves were off, how you really would have liked to have dealt with them?

I'm not much of a fighter. Oh I've had daydreams of getting even with those who have done me wrong. I may have even googled a few ideas.

But I have learned that, in the end, it's just not worth it.

Those who do wrong know they are wrong. The time will come when they're alone with no one but their own thoughts. When that time comes, they will have to admit to themselves that they have done wrong. Or,  they will choose to lie to themselves that they haven't done wrong.  Both options are heavy for the soul. Either option is one I don't envy.

However, if I weren't striving to live a life of zen compassion and search for enlightenment, I might, perhaps, take a different approach. I might take the bullshit thrown at me, go to google, place an order,  and throw a nice big pile of poop right back at them. 

I have never ordered from the website in the link. But I do have it saved in my favorites folder. Just in case.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words to Soothe The Weary Soul.

Conduits & Listening: #reverb14 Days 4 & 5

We are all lightning rods, conduits for that which the Universe wants born into this world. What energies did you channel this year?

What is the sound of your own voice?

I'm slightly behind already in #reverb14. Although, no. I'm not behind. These posts just needed a couple extra days to swim through my brain before my writing soul was ready to put them to paper.

I absolutely believe that we are all bundles of energy and each interaction is an exchange of energy. I know that I get anxious when I'm around people whose energy is negative and drags me down. I have learned I am actually quite intuitive regarding other people and I know by now to believe when my intuition tells me someones energy is not positive.

I've said for many years that being a yoga teacher is fabulous, yet also requires so much energy. Not just physical energy. Not just mental/intellectual energy. But spiritual energy. Healing energy.

In the past year I've realized and accepted that despite my love of teaching, despite not having a fear of public speaking and despite everyone elses perception of me, I am actually an introvert. Sure I don't mind being in the front of the room. But I also need time to retreat to recover and be alone. I don't mind large groups. But even in the middle of a large group I often feel isolated.

I have had students that, although I love them and I love the challenge they present, they just mentally drain me. They take so much of my energy I literally feel exhausted after teaching them.

I've been told I'm a good yoga teacher. And I know I put my heart and soul in to it. I've been told I have good energy. But it's an area I make far more deposits than withdrawals.

But sometimes, when I really really need it most, yet won't admit it, I am forced to make a withdraw.

More than once these past few weeks previous students of mine have come to my aid. They know I've been struggling and they know me well enough to know that part of my struggle is being there for everyone else and making sure they are OK. While neglecting myself when I'm not OK.

These women, who had one time stood on their mat in front of me so unsure of themselves, have sought me out and reminded me of what I have taught them. They have used my own words against me. Not against me. They have used my own words and directed them to me, for me.

My voice when I teach yoga is different than in normal conversation. When I step foot in to the yoga room my tone, clarity and cadence change without me being conscious of it. As I've spoken to these women, their voices have changed. Even if it's not in person, I can feel their energy leaning in to me. Whispering to me to ground myself and find my balance.

They have become the conduit for my own voice to reverberate back to me.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Loving What Is: #reverb14 Day 3

It’s all too easy to put off loving where we are until everything is perfect. What can you love about where you are now?

I've had a pretty tough past few weeks. Not the worst I've ever had, but definitely not good. And it sent me spiraling downward in a way that hasn't happened for a couple years.

Thanks to my years of yoga and meditation I've gotten better about realizing when I'm spiraling down and helping myself climb back up. This most recent bout the thought popped into my head a couple times that I need to find something to be grateful for. If I look hard enough there must be something.

I looked. I kinda sorta briefly looked. And I didn't find anything. But it's amazing what a night of sleep and a good, hard sweaty gym session can do for my mental health and outlook.

Get some sleep, drop some sweat and suddenly the world looks a lot different.

My life today isn't any more perfect than it was two weeks ago. But today I can see that the sun actually is still shining. There are people around me who are hurting with me yet we are holding each other up. I hate that I'm in a place now where I have to face the big bad world all alone. But I love knowing that I have the strength to face it, fight it and make it out alive.

I've been very fortunate to have had my years immersed in yoga to help me learn the skills to get through the bad times. And I thank God for the ability to write and get the crazy out of my head and on to the paper.

My life isn't perfect. It never has been. I'm not loving my life right now. But today I am able to have hope that I will one day say "I am in love with this life of mine."

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Release: #reverb14 Day 2

What unfinished projects from 2014 are you willing to release now? (Regret not required.)*

How do you release something you don't want to lose? Even if you know letting it go is what is best for you? What if it's something you are willing to love forever? Even though you know that love isn't reciprocated?

Maybe I'm passionate and optimistic. Or I'm just a fool.

I know I don't ever want to look back with regret or allow the story to become tainted with resentment.

I suppose the trick is finding the balance between the joy and the pain. And having the wisdom to know when the heartbreak of letting go will be less harmful to me than the agony of holding on.

* Some nights you can't write to the prompt as intended, you have to allow your fingers to type out what your soul is trying to release.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Certainty: #reverb14 Day 1

Today, I invite you to take a quiet moment to consider: what can you say right now with certainty?

The only thing I can say right now with absolute certainty is.... I know nothing.

I know I care too much and I feel too deeply. I know this has caused me a lot of pain.
I know that friendships end.
I know jobs you pour your heart and soul in to will eventually come to an end.
I know people you love don't necessarily love you back.
I know that being honest doesn't mean someone won't lie to me.
I know that I am an intelligent woman who has made foolish choices.

What I don't know is why. I don't know why things that feel so right can't just be right. What I don't know is am I being too trusting or is the world too untrustworthy. What I don't know is what lesson I'm supposed to be learning, or if there really is no lesson and it just is what it is.

I believed hard work brought prosperity. Nope, it just brings exhaustion and less time with my family. I believed there was either good or bad. Nope, there are many shades of gray. I believed if I did the right thing others would do right by me. Nope, when it comes down to it people will naturally protect themselves first. I believed the truth was the truth. Nope, two people can tell two very different stories.

I thought my life was on a path with a specific end goal in mind. I was wrong.

I've been wrong about many things and many people.

I know this post is pretty depressing. I don't know how long I'll be in this place.

This post is part of #reverb14, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and to manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie: The Home Improvement Version

A good friend of mine says home improvement projects are very much like one of my favorite children's books, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.

In my version, it goes a little something like this:

If you help me paint my kitchen, I'm going to want to paint my cabinets.
If I take down my cabinet doors I'll have to scrub them clean.
If I am scrubbing clean the cabinet doors I might as well scrub clean the cabinet frames.
If I am going to repaint the cabinet doors, I need to repaint the handles and other hardware.
If I am going to repaint the walls, cabinets and hardware, I need a new kitchen counter.
If I am going to redo my kitchen counter, I'd really like to retile the floor.
Hey if I am retiling the floor can we tile the back splash behind the sink and stove?
Now that my walls are repainted I need new decor.
My kitchen looks so fresh and new I need a new dining room table.
Since the kitchen redo budget is already blown I'm going to paint my table.
But first I need to scrub it clean and sand it down.
And if I'm going to scrub my table clean, I might as well...
Sit and enjoy a cookie in my nice new pretty kitchen.

As of tonight I've accomplished the first four lines of my story. The only reason I quit for the night is because my dad, who is visiting from out of town, is watching football and keeps asking "what are you doing out there?"

So I decided to call it a night and continue tomorrow.

And then I sat and enjoyed a cookie.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Memories of My Mom

Today I stood in the middle of 15,000 people and cried like a baby because I missed my mom.

Mom has been gone for a little more than three years now and I'm still not used to it. I think of her all the time and wish she were here to go to my girls dance recitals, my boys high school graduations or just to talk to about the boring day-to-day stuff like we used to.

Lately there have been quite a few reminders of my mom.  Last year I planted a crepe myrtle tree in
honor of my mom and grandfather. I thought it might not have survived the winter but instead it blossomed beautifully. In my front garden, the morning glories climbed up the trellis, through the garden and down the sidewalk.

Kid 2 was going through some books recently and he found an old boarding pass I had used as a book mark. It  was the boarding pass I used to fly home on Christmas Eve 2010. Me and 6 kids rushed to board a flight, knowing it was my moms last Christmas, but not knowing if we'd get to her before an approaching blizzard. It was a blizzard that ended up shutting down most of the Northeast United States. We landed in Philadelphia just as the snow was starting to accumulate. It was the best/worst/craziest/happiest/saddest most memorable Christmas ever.

That old boarding pass is still sitting on my dresser. For some reason I just haven't thrown it away yet.

Today the kids and I participated in the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure. We've wanted to do the race for a few years now but we always had other commitments. Race For The Cure raises money
and awareness for breast cancer. Since my mom had liver, lung and brain cancer, but not breast cancer, I didn't write down that I was running in memory of my mom.

But then a weird and unexpected thing happened.

As we were standing in the warm up area before the race, I started noticing all the names on other peoples shirts that they were running for. Almost everyone was running either in celebration of, or in memory of, their mother, their sister, their wife or a friend. Some had actual names written on their shirt. Many just said "In memory of my mom".

Standing there in that sea of pink t-shirts, I became totally overwhelmed with emotion and started crying. More like bawling. As music played on the stage and people danced and cheered around me, I just stood there and cried. It was Kid 5 that was the first to notice something was wrong.

I told him I was OK, I just missed my mom. He put his arms around me and said "I miss Mimi too."

I pulled myself together and set out on the 3.2 mile course. I've often said that you meet the nicest people at races, and today was no exception. I talked to a man whose wife had just had a baby last night, but she insisted he be at the race today with their other children to run in honor of their aunt. A woman, not all that much older than me, was racing in memory of her daughter. Not in celebration of, in memory of, her daughter. I can't even imagine. Many women were running for their sisters. And I was surprised and happy to see so many men running in celebration of their wives. It's probably the only place I've ever seen so many men proudly wearing pink.

Tonight my mom, the kids Mimi, was on all our minds. They asked if next year I will put my moms name on my t-shirt even though it wasn't breast cancer that took her. Yes, I told them, I will. Cancer is cancer and cancer took my mom from me.

Next year my t-shirt will say "I run in memory of my mom. And I miss her every day."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Family Time on a Mountain: Way Better Than Minecraft!

I've always said I'd rather give my kids experiences than things.

To be honest,  they have most of the "things" they've asked for. But when I consider gifts or vacations I try and look at what can we do and not what can we buy?

When my sister and I were kids my parents took us on vacation to a different state each summer. I still remember sitting along Mirror Lake New Hampshire listening to the Loons as they swam on the lake. We toured the Baseball Hall of Fame in upstate New York with my dad. We even camped along the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But I don't remember a single souvenir or thing that I bought any of those summers.

Being a military family for twenty years meant we moved every few years. But it also gave my kids the opportunity to see new places and experience new adventures. The travel bug seems to have caught each of the kids as well. Both kids 2 and 4 have worked extra hard these past two years to pay their way through non-family trips to Washington DC, Philadelphia, California and Colorado. Kid 3 is campaigning hard to get permission to travel to ComicCon next year (he's closer to having my permission than he knows) and the other kids have their own dreams and plans as well.

Now that I'm a single mom vacations aren't as financially feasible. But this weekend we took our first
official family vacation since before the divorce. Unfortunately, Kid 1 had to stay home and work. So me and the other five kids packed up the car and headed off for a long weekend trip to Pinnacle Mountain Arkansas. We rode horses, hiked, went to the State Fair, and explored a World War II submarine.

There was lots of laughter and few squabbles. I knew my "experiences not things" motto was working when one of the kids momentarily stopped scrambling up the mountain, turned around and said "this is even better than Minecraft!"

It makes this momma's heart happy to see how when the kids are removed from their daily routine they connect and really seem to enjoy being together.  Kids 2 and 4 - the two who normally argue over who is right - paired off on the hike up and down the mountain.  Kid 3, the most quiet of my crew, and kid 5, the most sensitive of the family, also paired off. More than once on the 5 mile hike up, down and around the mountain those two ventured off on their own to sit and take in the view.

Later that evening we all reached the over-tired laughter on the verge of tears point and I had to remind them that we were in a hotel and the people in the next room might not enjoy hearing the hysterics coming from our room.

Although, even if we did get a little too loud, I hope it's a memory the kids will always smile and remember.

We made it to the top!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Girl Stuff: My Boys Just Don't Get It

"Every day I wake up thankful to be born with a penis." 
-- Kid 2 after a weekend spent listening 
to girl drama

My BFF Kerri is also my hair stylist. Because we are both so busy working and taking care of our families, we rarely have time to see each other anymore. So, problem solved, we schedule my hair appointments for Friday nights after her shop is closed and the kids are taken care of. It's our social time.

We pick up some sushi, turn the iPod on, mix the color and start talking. This week I told her I wanted my red hair to be more red. Like Julianne Moore deep, vibrant red. Kerri is the expert so while I opened up the sushi she mixed the color.

I trust her completely. I trust her so much when I said "hey this is really red" and she said don't worry that I didn't worry.

But it was really red. Like, Bozo red. So.... I laughed and took some pictures while Kerri remixed more color. Five hours later when I finally returned home  - looking absolutely fabulous with my new auburn do - the kids said I was gone "forever".  So each kid one at a time had to hear the story of my hair drama that evening.

The next day we set off for the mall to find a dress for Kid 4 to wear to her Honor Society banquet this week. Kid 4 is the 13-year-old girl and acts, well, like a 13-year-old girl.

Three hours, two boutiques, Macy's and JC Penney's later and we still hadn't found anything for her to wear. To be fair, our school has a pretty strict dress code. Because Kid 4 is tall like me, it can be tough finding a dress that is the required length.

She was frustrated. I was annoyed. Kid 2 thought it was "ridiculous" and Kid 5 was "bored." Why kids two and five, both boys, wanted to even come on this trip I don't know.

To make the day even more fun, we also were finally let in on the girl drama between Kid 4 and her BFF, who just happens to be the daughter of my BFF Kerri. We heard all about the nonsense that often happens between 13-year-old girls when a boy enters the picture.

At this point Kid 5, my 11-year-old boy, had officially lost his patience. He wanted out of the mall and he wanted out now.

I tried to explain to him that this is just life with girls. Whether it's his mom, his sisters or his future girlfriends he will have to sit and wait outside a fitting room. He will have to listen to girl drama and boy troubles. He will have to talk about hair color and be asked repeatedly if he likes a new haircut. Does it look good? Does 'it looks fine' mean it doesn't look good?

The struggle is real to be a girl. It's his lot in life to be a boy and have to listen to the struggle.

Watching and listening to all this, Kid 2 looked over and casually said "Every day I wake up thankful to be born with a penis."

I can't argue with that logic.

Finally Kid 4 decided she would just wear something she already has in her closet at home. As the younger brother Kid 5 realized this whole trip was for nothing, I thought he was going to really lose it. But, instead, he looked at me and said "I'm never coming to the mall with you again. Girl stuff is boring."

He's a boy. He doesn't get it.

Boys 4 (1 not pictured) Girls 2
Yet, girl drama reigns
in the Fields home

Monday, September 22, 2014

Blog Hop 2014

Last week I opened an email from my good friend and fellow blogger Natalie over at May the Schwartz Be With You. Now I love Natalie dearly, however, her email made me groan and want to throw things at her.

Natalie sent me what was basically a chain letter (they still exist?) inviting me to participate in a "Blog Hop." A blog hop is where one blogger nominates other bloggers to answer a few basic questions.

Ugh. But Natalie is smart and she knows me well enough to know exactly what to say to get me to agree:
"The point is, I really like you and would like to see your answers to these questions. Mainly because I know you need to write more.  It's cathartic and therapeutic."

Double Ugh. But when I saw Natalie at dance that week I agreed to write the post. So here we go.

Why do I keep a blog?

Well, my even beginning to blog is because of Natalie as well! She was blogging and I enjoyed reading her posts. I had told her that in my pre-mom days I was a writer and I missed writing. But that blogging was kind of dumb and narcissistic. I don't care what celebrity bloggers have to say and who would care what I have to say?

But she convinced me to at least give it a try. My first post was August 25, 2012. I wrote about my experience with Bikram Yoga, titled Yoga, Tuna & Heat. It's still one of my most favorite posts and, interestingly, still frequently pops up on my stats board as being recently being read. 

With that first blog I was bitten. The urge to write was reawakened within me. I didn't know what to expect and I honestly figured no one would read it anyway.  I had no idea where the blog would lead. The nights I'd write with tears falling on the keyboard during my mom's death from cancer.  The times I'd ache to write but couldn't get the words out during the unexpected ending of my 23 year marriage in a divorce.  And even the times I was so excited I was writing the posts in my head before I could get home to my Mac. 

This blog led to another interesting place too. It turns out a few people did actually read my blog. The right people liked what I wrote and invited me to write for Elephant Journal. Those posts led to being invited into a writers group. And finally it led to me writing my own book

(Shameless plug: Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom available for purchase - well someday. )

So I guess I really owe Natalie for helping me fulfill a life-long dream and writing a book. I hope she will accept payment in ever-lasting love and gratitude.

What motivates me to teach yoga?

This sounds all new agey and woo woo, but I feel called to teach yoga. When I'm teaching is one of the rare times I feel content and confident. Similar to blogging, I kind of fell into teaching yoga. I was
Legs Up The Wall with
my class for savassana one night
a high impact cardio girl that just happened to also teach Pilate's. One day the yoga teacher didn't show up and so my boss asked me to fill in. I had no idea what I was doing. But I figured OK I'll get some training and see where this goes. By my second training weekend I knew this yoga thing was for me. A year or so later I made my first trip to Los Angeles to train and after that week everything changed both for me and within me.

I was a yoga teacher. This feeling, this activity, this "thing" is what I had been searching for. I have said before and I will say it again, yoga saved my life. Although I was all smiles at the gym, I was in a bad place in my private life. I truly believe if I hadn't found yoga when I did that I would not be sitting here right now the (mostly) sane, (mostly) confident, (mostly) put together woman I am.

What is/are my greatest strengths?

I never know how to answer this question. People tell me all the time how strong I am being a single mom of six kids.  How brave I am for fighting for what is right.  How proud they are of me. 

I don't see it. I see only that I've done what I needed to do to keep my family healthy, safe and happy. I've held my kids as they cried and turned into psycho mom defending them when someone tried to hurt them. I've done what all good moms are supposed to do. I hope.

Being organized, sometimes to a fault, is one of my strengths. It has to be with a large family. I've been told many times I'm "controlling." Well yeah, of course I am. How could I not be controlling with six kids and an alcoholic husband. It was the only way to tame the chaos. 

I am very guarded but also very loyal. Once I allow you into my inner circle you are in and I will fight for you till the end. I've stayed loyal to the wrong people for too long in the past, but I believe I now have a better sense of who to trust and who is worthy of trust.

What is my proudest moment?

Well, I'm pretty proud of my six kids. They are smart, funny and kind. Like all siblings do, they fight over everything. And I mean everything. But they will also turn and defend their siblings in a heartbeat. In fact we have the story of a broken hand earned in a fight by Kid 2 defending his younger girl cousin. And many stories of the brothers coming to the aid of their siblings during times of distress. 

I'm proud that I finally wrote my book. I can remember from the time I was very young saying I'm going to write a book. It took a long time, a really long time. But I did it.

Look closely at the kids hands. They each chose a word
to describe our family. 
I'm proud of the life I've built for my kids post divorce. My home is a happier place to be now. My kids now know that home is a place you should never feel afraid. Everyone in my house, and in my life, gets told regularly that I love them. And that's not a phrase I use lightly. If I tell you I love than it's real. I love you.  

If forced to pick just one, I'd say my proudest moment is when all six kids, and maybe some assorted
friends, are all in my house and I hear their laughter. Yes, that's definitely it. My proudest moment is happy, healthy kids.

Geez that was more work than I thought it was going to be! But now to nominate two bloggers I'd like to introduce you to.

First is Anita at Moon Fairy Life and Dreams. Anita is a fellow yoga teacher and soul sister. We both have a large family and full time jobs so we don't see each other nearly as often as we'd like. And, because it's true, I'm going to steal Natalie's line here: I'd really like to read more from her and because I know she needs to write more. It's cathartic and therapeutic.

Second is Rick Watson at Life 101.  Rick and his wife Jilda are both writers, singers and songwriters. Rick also often posts amazing pictures he takes with his iPhone of rural Alabama where he lives.

Natalie thought she would get an award for procrastinating because she didn't post until one hour before her Blog Hop was due. Well, my dear friend,  I did what you asked. And I did it with a full ten minutes to spare before it's due date!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Picture Makes Me Happier Than The Story Behind The Picture

It's a pretty normal, almost boring, picture. Kid 4 and Kid 5 in the backseat of my car reading. But this picture just makes my heart swell with happiness.

You see a couple years ago I did this little thing and I committed to writing a book. Then the divorce drama happened and I shelved the book. Well to be honest I didn't shelf it. I actually picked it up, walked to the trash can and threw it away.

Not my smartest decision I know. But fortunately I wasn't thinking clearly enough at the time to delete it off my hard drive as well so I did still have a copy.

Last year I decided to take a look and see how bad it was. To my surprise there really wasn't much I felt I needed to change. And then, once again, life drama got in the way and I shoved the project aside.

Earlier this year I decided this was it. Pull the darn thing out and just get it finished! It felt like the time was meant to be when a wonderful woman, and a legitimate professional editor, entered my life and offered to take a look at it for me. Like, she's a real editor. For real authors. And she not only was looking at my book but she liked my book!

Since she is a professional editor she works much faster and more efficiently than I do. She sent her edits within a month. Everything she suggested was completely spot on. I went through and made the changes she suggested and...

The shit hit the fan again.

This was a tough summer for my family. As tough, if not more so, than the summer my ex-husband walked out on us. I haven't written about it and I'm not sure I will. I had a major kid crisis and my kids are off limits. So that story will have to wait a little bit.

But, it leads back to the picture above. As I lay awake on yet another sleepless night, not even thinking about the book, it popped into my head what I needed to write. What I needed to write about the kid crisis and what I needed to write to complete the book.

Just a couple short weeks later I was standing in the printers office waiting my turn to pick up a package. The kids were bugging me asking why we were there and what was so important. As the clerk handed me the package, the kids looked at what I was holding. Their eyes got big, their smiles got bigger and they practically shouted "You got your book!"

Yes, the book is complete. I have two galley copies of Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom

As we walked to the car Kid 4 got a gleam in her eye and offered to carry the galleys for me. I knew right away what she was up to.

As she got in the car she handed the second copy to her brother and they both immediately started reading. They don't care so much about the content of the book, they were just reading to find their names. They were very excited when they found them.

What you can just barely see in the picture is Kid 6 in the back seat trying to find out if her name is in the book too. It is.

There are still a few edits to be done. And I need to find someone to help me format it properly for publishing. But, the writing is complete.

One galley copy is in the hands of a trusted friend/professional to read and hopefully write a good review for the back cover. The second copy is sitting on my dresser. Each day I see it and I smile.

Who knows how long it will be until, if ever, it's actually in print and available for purchase. I'm almost OK if it stays for my eyes only and never gets out there to the publishing world. Almost.

I set out to write a book. And I did.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I'm On Fire. Until I'm Not.

Day 6: on fire
What are the signs that you are on fire?
What I mean to say is: I mean to say, how does it feel in your body when something really gets you going?

Day 7: roadblocks or just detours?
What tends to trip you up?
What is your kryptonite? Ask yourself in the most compassionate of ways.

Times I feel on fire are often the times I'm pursuing my passions; writing, exercise and being creative.   Some nights I can't not write. A good sweaty gym session makes me feel strong.  When I'm on fire I feel healthy. I feel happy. And I do the types of self-care things necessary to keep that momentum going - eating healthy, getting enough sleep, quiet time and exercise. 

I am well aware that when I allow myself to take care of myself, not only does my creativity flourish but I am better able to handle the big and small crisis that life throws at me. 

When I'm on fire I feel confident. 

Yet, it's my own self doubt that too often wipes out that confidence. My kryptonite is me.

I'm not really sure why I allow self doubt to be such big part of my life. I know that the voices in my head are liars. I know that it's vital to my physical, mental and emotional health that I keep those negative voices silenced. 

The way to keep the voices away is by taking care of myself: eating healthy, exercise and rest. I know this. I have studied this. I teach this.

Yet I constantly struggle with it.

The voices tell me I'm not a size 2 and never will be so just eat the ice cream because no one likes me if I'm not that size 2. It doesn't matter that size 2 isn't even realistic for my 5' 9" frame.  Everyone probably thinks I'm fat.

The voices tell me that my writing is stupid and self indulgent. No one wants to read what I write. A real writer would have published her book. A real writer spends her days drinking tea, reading, writing and sitting in the sun. A wanna-be spends her days working two jobs, taking care of kids and feeling guilty for not taking more time to write.

I am my own worst critic. There's no need for anyone else to put me down, I can do a pretty good job of that on my own.

I'm aware of my triggers. I'm usually aware when I'm spiraling down to a bad place again. Although I still struggle with the contentment and depression cycle, I do believe the cycles are getting shorter. 

I am more determined, dare I say confident, to stop the low points immediately and to continue on with the self care I know to be necessary to handle the struggles of being a controlling person in a very out of control life.

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Perfect Work & A Perfect Reminder

Day 5: Perfect Work

What would your perfect work day be like?

My perfect work day would be a day where I don't feel like I didn't get enough done and I didn't let anyone down. The perfect work day is where when I'm at work I am fully present at work. When I leave work I actually come home to spend quality time with my family, rather than rush off to job number two. And when I'm at home, I am fully present and in the moment at home.

As I read today's #AugustMoon14 writing prompt I thought yeah right, I haven't had a perfect day in what feels like forever. So I figured why even bother trying to write tonight.

As I perused through Facebook I had a notification from an app called God Wants You To Know. Now I could, and should, write a post just about this app and how I have no idea how it got on my Facebook and some of the notifications I've had from it. But tonight, this is what it said:

Today, Jennifer, we believe God wants you to know that ...
you can give yourself more credit.
Are you juggling too much? Sometimes you don't give yourself enough credit for what you do get done in a day. Today, celebrate your accomplishments.

Well that's just apropos for tonight isn't it?

And I actually did have a couple work accomplishments this week. Also,it's the first full week back to school and back to a four night per week dance schedule and so far the kids have had lunches packed and up for school and out the door without any issues. That's a win. I've managed to keep up my personal workouts this week. And I made three blog entries! 

So as I spend the end of my night preparing for tomorrow, I think for tonight I will cut myself some slack and acknowledge that although today wasn't perfect, it wasn't a fail.

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Right Now, For Now

What is it that you do now? Today, we’re going to look at where we are, exactly as we are, right now. Grab a pen and a piece of paper; sit down in front of a screen with a keyboard; or dictate into one of those fancy smart phone apps!Tell us what fills your weeks, days and hours.

Right now I'm not at work. That's unusual for a Monday evening and feels very weird. Right now I'm also not at dance. Kid 4 has back-to-back dance classes tonight for four hours. It feels even weirder that I'm not at the dance school.

I am constantly struggling to find the balance between work/life/kids/myself. And I mostly fail.

At the beginning of this dance year I committed to only 2 nights per week to teach yoga/pilates and to help at the front desk. Of course I still have my full-time day job as well. Last year working full time days and four nights per week was just too much and my non-dancing kids got unintentionally ignored. As a single mom I'm working multiple jobs out of necessity, but that doesn't make it any easier on the kids who feel that I'm not giving them enough time. 

Since I work at a fitness center I fortunately can build exercise into my day. I go through spurts where I'm good about staying active and spurts where I'm not so active. Not coincidentally I feel better, more creative and am better able to keep the depression at bay when I'm moving and sweating more.

I also haven't been reading and writing as much as I would like to. I have been spending too much time laying in bed in front of reality TV at night. Mostly because I've been working too much, fighting depression and plain old exhausted.

Yes, I'm well aware that working too much and lack of self care are paths leading directly into depression for me. It's that whole struggle with balance thing I've got going on. It's just where I'm at right now.

For now. 

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Exhausted, Scared and (Not Really) Alone

My conversation last night: 

Concerned friend:  You need to write a blog post.
Me:  I don't even know how anymore.
Concerned friend:  Yes you do.

And so here I am.  My first post in four months. I've thought about writing a few times. Many times I sat down to write and nothing would come out. It hasn't been the best of summers. Single mom stress and an unexpected kid crisis have gotten the best of me.

I've spent the past few weeks once again not sleeping well, chronic headaches, nauseous and constantly on the verge of tears. With all my years of yoga, health & fitness training and my time spent in self study and working with life coaches you'd think by now I'd have quite a toolbox of healthy stress relief measures at my disposal.

And I do. I just don't use them.

Instead I retreat into my shell. It's just me against the world. And since I don't know who I can trust I choose to trust no one.  Daily I'm reminded, and more often I remind myself, how scared and alone I am through it all.

Like a caged animal huddling in the corner I lash out and attack anyone who tries to help and comfort me. 

A few weeks ago a coworker returned from her vacation and gifted me with a jeweled anchor necklace. She told me she saw the anchor and thought of me because I'm the one that always anchors everyone together both at work and at home. I mean it when I tell her she's beautiful, the necklace is beautiful and the thought is beautiful.

But what I'm really thinking are anchors are the ones drowning on the bottom trying to keep everyone else afloat. I feel like I'm drowning here. I almost can't breathe I'm dropping so far down.

Who is going to save me? Oh yeah, no one.

Yet I continue on. Get up each morning, put a smile on my face, resist the urge to punch those who tell me how tired I look, try and make ends meet, and do what needs to be done to make sure everyone else is safe and healthy. 

Then this week two different people reminded me that I'm not alone and I need to take care of myself too. One was very nice and made me cry. The other yelled at me and made me cry. Since I didn't quite hear the message the first time I admit I needed the second one too.

One of my personal training clients is moving out of state. She has some unusual health issues that made her the kind of personal training client the other trainers didn't want and were afraid to train. But I love those challenges and we hit it off immediately. She made amazing progress and I'm crazy proud of her.

Before she left for her new home, she came in to the gym one last time. She had a box in her hand and she explained to me that during her time with the fire department she was part of a tradition. She
explained that fire fighters and other first responders will present one another with a gift to thank them for having their back in an emergency. 

When I opened the box I saw a shiny rescue knife. As I took it out of the box she told me, "you've had my back all this time. I want you to remember someone will always have your back too."

Someone will have my back? Really? I wonder who.

Then the phone call yesterday. Those closest to me know when something is wrong. They know when I'm struggling and when I'm not asking for help. They also know I sometimes need tough love. Some words were exchanged. I cried.  I finally admitted I'm exhausted and afraid. 

And here I am now. I've spent most of the day feeling sick. But I think it's more just wore out than regular sickness. 

As directed by my friend I finally wrote a blog post. And tomorrow if I feel better I will go to my first led yoga class in a couple months. It's entirely possible I'll spend most of the class in child's pose crying. And that's OK.

I've been receiving email reminders for a couple weeks now asking me to once again participate in a series of writing prompts that my fellow writer friends use to keep up with their daily writing practice. Day One's prompt is Set An Intention.

So here I go. My intention, no my need, is to stop drowning myself. To remember I have those willing to help if I would just ask. And to recognize those who do love and care about me and stop pushing them away, but rather hold on to them and not let go.

This post is part of #AugustMoon, a series of daily writing prompts found at Kat McNally Words To Soothe The Weary Soul.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Buy A Book To Help A Student

My friend and fellow blogger Rick Watson has written another book. Titled Remembering Big, Rick is doing more than just promoting his book, he's doing something really cool instead. Rick is donating 100% of the proceeds from Remembering Big to the Dora High School scholarship fund. Dora High is a small school with few resources in Alabama where Rick and his wife Jilda live. Jilda is also a blogger and fellow yoga teacher.

I tried to find my review of Rick's first book Life Happens, but apparently I'm not a very good friend and I never got around to writing a review of it. So I'll tell you now that Life Happens is a collection stories of life in rural Alabama that you don't have to be from the South to enjoy. Rick's writing on both his blog and his book are very relatable and down to earth. Life Happens kept me interested and entertained on a red eye flight all the way home from Los Angeles.

One of the things I love most about Rick and Jilda is how humble they are. Not only are they writers and a yoga teacher but they also are song writers. Like legit song writers with songs on the radio. Yet when I was still in shock over my husband walking out on his family, Jilda offered her home to me and my 6 kids as a place to escape and begin to recover. That is compassion in action.

Rick and Jilda don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk as well. I don't know too many others who would put the effort required into writing and publishing a book just to give all the proceeds away. But, Rick sees this as a chance to give a kid in a disadvantaged area the chance to succeed.

You can purchase Remembering Big here.