Monday, December 30, 2013

Phoenix Rising - Soon

Phoenix by Amy Brown
"2013 was your Phoenix year"

Yes, but the Phoenix rose up from the ashes and soared. My wings are still a bit dirty and I'm still
practicing taking offs.

I'm nowhere close to flying.

I still have days filled with self doubt and a big time lack of confidence. I take full responsibility for this being my issue. No matter what anyone says, only I have the power to allow myself to feel small. I've gotten much better about not listening to those who want to bring me down. What I still struggle with though is listening to my own voices telling me I'm not good enough.

Some days the voices whisper. Some days they shout.

And on days like today when they are shouting at me I don't know how to shut them up.

So when someone says something nice to me I don't know how to respond except list all the ways they are wrong.  It's how I play nice with my voices.

Now logically I know that playing nice and keeping the peace has never gotten me where I wanted to be. But it's what I'm used to. Be a good girl, don't cause trouble. Just be quiet because it probably won't work anyway.

I know I will never rise and fly until I reframe my thinking. What if I do speak up? What if it does work out?

Instead of asking what is the worst that can happen, I want to start asking what is the best that can happen?

Maybe finally then those voices in my head will shut the f* up.

And I will fly.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Vision Boards

It's that time of year again when all my creative, artsy fartsy yoga fairy friends are making vision boards.  My friends Rick and Jilda Watson have created and blogged about their vision boards as long as I've known them. But, then again, Rick and Jilda are artists and musicians and so they have that creative spirit.

I don't consider myself artsy. I don't like crafts. By my own admission my brain is often too steeped in reality. I'm not much into magical thinking. I know from experience that wishing to lose 10 pounds or to find some lost money doesn't make a skinny body with a heavy wallet into reality.

But this vision board thing is interesting. And since I'm now in the process of reinventing my life it seems like the perfect time to really sit down and figure out what I want.

My understanding is that a vision board isn't just magical or wishful thinking. It's to find clarity on what I want to manifest and then placing those images not only onto paper, but into my subconscious where they can percolate and guide the choices I make this year.

The board itself doesn't impact reality; what changes your life is the process of creating the images—combinations of objects and events that will stick in your subconscious mind and steer your choices toward making the vision real.

(Read more:

I don't have a  picture of my vision board to show here because it's not done yet.  I know myself too well. I'll have the tendency to squash my artsy fairy side and be too realistic and logical about it all. So I'm going to take my time and slowly gather images to include as I find them.

I'm looking forward to creating the image of a new life.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2014- Bring It: #reverb13 Day 21

Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following five sentences:

2014 is going to be MY YEAR because...

In 2014, I am going to do...

In 2014, I am going to feel...

In 2014, I am not going to...

In December 2014, I am going to look back and say...

For bonus points, if you participated in #reverb12, compare your answers to the ones you wrote this time last year. What has been revealed? Where are the surprises?

2014 is going to be my year because:  I have claimed it as mine.

In 2014 I am going to: See my book in print. Look only forward.  Follow my bliss. Listen to my heart. Be more present. Be more open.

In 2014 I am going to feel:  Happy. Contented. Excited. Confident. Loved.

In 2014 I am not going to: Talk myself out of taking chances. Be the first to put myself down. Constantly compare myself to others. Play small.

In December 2014 I am going to look back and say: Holy shit, I did it!

I didn't participate in #reverb12 last year. I was still in the eye of the storm of 2012 and nowhere near being ready to look back at what had happened. I certainly was in no condition to be manifesting for the year ahead.

Now as I sit here in December 2013 looking back at what all I've gone through, I can say:
Holy shit, I made it!

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.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Forward: #reverb13 Day 20

Forward is the only direction.

The mirror never lies, but everything in it is backwards. 

Look at what you see in the mirror. How does it change if you view yourself with eyes that can only look forward?

When I look in the mirror I finally see what everyone has been telling me they see for the past year:

I am better.
I am healthy.
I am happy.
I now have the opportunity to make my life what I want it to be.

And it's ok that I'm not always exactly sure what I see for my future because I finally believe I have a future.

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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peace: #reverb13 Day 18

I am often surprised where I find peace, it is usually in the midst of chaos.

In the midst of living, did you find moments to breathe? Were there moments that held you in the embrace of peace and quiet and pure contentment? 

Did these moments catch you by surprise or did you create the space for peace to find you?

Where I find peace:

Spending time with my kids.

This photo was taken by Bing Osterman Photography. I had no idea that Bing and my kids had planned this and I honestly cried when I opened the wrapping paper. Each of the kids wrote on their hand one word they feel describes our family. In difficult times I will look at this picture and remember why I do what I do.

In the yoga studio.

My mat, my space, my time. I realize now that I have to occasionally be "selfish" and take time for myself to attend a class. More important than keeping me physically strong, it keeps me mentally strong.

Quiet time.

Sometimes it's just driving in the car.

Or snuggled up under blankets on a rainy afternoon.

The beach

I live six hours away from the nearest beach. Too far. The smell of the salt air and the sound of the waves calms me like nothing else can.

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.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Habits & Addictions: #reverb13 Day 16

Habits and addictions, some are silly, some serious; when we have issues without answers, they can hold us so tight that we stop moving forward with the life we intended.

Were you able to loosen those fetters this year, and if you were successful, how did you manage it? Did you accept outside help, or work alone?

If you still feel that grasp of addiction or hurtful habits, what will you do differently in the year to come?

I'm more than a little sensitive to the word addiction and I don't use it lightly. Living with an alcoholic for more than 20 years I know the damage done by addictive behaviors. I'm fortunate in that I've never struggled with addiction and I no longer am in an addictive relationship. I'm in a much healthier place now.

However, that doesn't mean I don't still have my own battles to fight.

My dreams and plans are constantly feuding with self sabotage. I don't drink. I don't do drugs. No, instead I harm myself with negative self talk.

I don't really fit in here.
They are just being nice, no one really cares.
I have no talent.
I'm too old. Too fat. Too lazy.

I've played small and talked myself out of taking risks for a long time. I can give a list of reasons, but really the blame lies with me. Now, when I "accidentally" let someone else know of my plans and I know they are waiting for me to follow through, I can go for it and get it done. 

I'm not sure why I'm so mean to myself. The alcoholic drinks to temporarily forget his problems. Addicts get a short-lived high with their behavior. Mine only brings me down.

Playing small may keep me safe, but it doesn't make me happy. It's definitely time to find a little more happy.

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. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sensory Highlights: #reverb13 Day 15

Give us a sensory tour of 2013. How would you describe the year that's passing in terms of: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, Touch?

Joshua Tree National Park 
Sight: A desert sunset. My kids smiles. Little ballerinas in tights and leotards. Extra chairs pulled up to my dining room table. Colorful fruits and vegetables at the farmers market. The smiling face of a
friend walking off a plane. Crossing the finish line. My kids all together.

Sound: Laughter, more laughter and even more laughter. Singing in the car as we drive home. The waves crashing ashore. A late night text just to say hello and I am thinking of you. Music turned way up. 

Smell: Saltwater. An unrolled yoga mat. Vinegar. A Christmas tree. Saltwater again, it soothes me.

Taste: The best clam chowder I've ever eaten. Wine shared with a friend. Eating fresh organic cherries at work during their short summer season.

Touch: Picking up a cactus to keep as a souvenir from the desert and dropping it right away as my hand suddenly felt on fire. The cold Pacific lapping at my feet. The warm sun on my face. An embrace I never want to end. Braiding my girls hair. Snuggling under the covers. 

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 15, 2013

Intentions: #reverb13 Day 14

What are your best intentions for 2014? How do you see yourself actualizing those intentions?

A few years ago I wrote a post titled These Are Not New Years Resolutions. Then two years later I wrote Letter To The Universe.  I'm good at setting intentions.

Not necessarily as good at fulfilling those intentions.

So here I go again: a list of intentions for 2014. With everything that has happened the past year, I believe it's time to get real and make my intentions real. 

  • Pay it forward
Each Christmas it's a family tradition to always put money into the Salvation Army kettle any time we see one. Family legend tells that when my grandfather was a child during The Depression, it was the Salvation Army that kept him and his family alive one long, cold winter. Probably 80 years later now and we are still saying thank you.
A few years ago I was walking with the kids through downtown Philadelphia. We passed by a man in a wheelchair holding a sign that said "homeless vet."  Kid 2, at the time maybe 14 years old, turned around, pulled a few dollars out of his pocket and gave it to the man. As we continued to walk on the guy yelled to me "You've got a fine boy there ma'am."  Yes, I do. Even though we never really know if someone is homeless or it's a scam, my kids believe it's best to err on the side of caution. I've seen them hand over their own money numerous times. 
Fast forward to now and so many people have been generous to me and my family that I can never repay them all. As with any true act of generosity though, they don't want to be paid back and in many cases they don't even want acknowledged for their acts of kindness. So, I will be on the lookout for ways to continue to pay it forward any time and any way I can. 

  • Write more. Write more often. Just write. 
Well, yes I've already put it out there that I am re-committed to finishing my book.  But I also have numerous blog ideas, half written blogs and notes entered into my iPhone. Inspiration never hits me when it's convenient. It usually happens when I'm driving and all I can do is dictate into my phone and hope I don't forget about it. 
My friends Rick and Jilda are fellow bloggers who write every single day. Even during the tornadoes that destroyed their town last year, they managed to continue to blog regularly. I not only admire that but I know it also makes them better writers. In fact, it helped Rick with the discipline he needed to write his book. (Hint, hint to self.)

  • Rewrite my story
Looking back over my blog and now participating in #reverb13, I realize how much of my writing lately centers around my divorce. It's a necessary part of the cathartic process for me so I'm allowing myself to continue to write about it, for now. Eventually though the time will come that I am no longer Jennifer, the one who got divorced. I'll rewrite my story to become Jennifer, the one who.....

  • Let go of the guilt
It's time to let go of why wasn't I good enough? Why did I stay when I so obviously shouldn't? It's time to cut myself some slack on the parenting mistakes I've made and will continue to make.  It's become too heavy to carry the guilt of making myself a priority. Whether that means taking a yoga class, getting a massage, going for a walk or just taking some time alone to recharge, I need it to not only thrive but to survive so that I can be everything to everyone.

  • Be more open
This is something that has been gnawing at me lately. I'm only beginning to be able to put it into words for myself, so I'll leave at I'd like to be more open to any and all opportunities that the Universe has in store for me in 2014. 

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 Elephant Journal.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Community: #reverb13 Day 13

The phrase “It takes a village” is often bandied about, in reference to child-rearing, running a business, just about everything. But if you’re anything like me, you may not be a natural born collaborator.

In 2014, how could you explore what community means to you?

It might be a question of sharing the load, asking for help or signing on someone with a complementary skill set. Or it could be about a creative collaboration that pushes you to explore new ideas and media.

I have always kept my circle of trust tightly closed and well guarded. 

For years this was done for self preservation and protection. Since I was (poorly) hiding a bad marriage to an alcoholic, I had a brave front to put on to the world that all is good and I am happy. Very few people knew the truth of my marital problems. And I naively thought I had everyone else convinced there were no problems. 

When the marriage finally exploded in such a painful and public way, I had to pull my trusted circle of friends even closer and tighter. People I thought I could trust betrayed me. Friends I thought were friends crept away rather than face the ugliness of the truth. I had a lot of work to do making a new life for me and the kids and I didn't trust anyone but myself to get us there. Too many times I didn't even trust myself.

I quickly realized though that building a new life was going to be far too labor intensive to do alone. 

First, I needed a job to not only support me and the kids, but also one that would allow me the freedom to still be the hands-on mom I've always been. Fortunately, someone quickly stepped up and took a chance on me to help run his business. Although I had no choice but to trust him initially, I made it quite clear I was gone as soon as something else came along.  I'm now at the end of the one year I promised him and am thrilled to know that I will be continuing on in my position into 2014. What began as strictly a business relationship has evolved into a valued friendship of mutual trust, not just in business matters but in life as well.

Nanny Lindsey sneaking a pic on one
of her summer outings with my kids.
I needed help being a single mom to six kids. Again, help arrived in an unexpected place. My staff at work is young, very young. Their average age is about 21. They are busy with college, boys, dance clubs, boys, planning their own future and boys. Yet when I had to bring my kids to work they were right there engaging with them. The young guy at work developed an older brother-younger brother type friendship with kid 5 that my son looks forward to. 

Even when not on the clock, a couple of the girls have really stepped up to help with the kids. "Nanny  Lindsey" was a lifesaver for me this summer. On her days off from the fitness center she would take my kids on field trips to the zoo, swimming, movies and for snow cone treats. Although a good 20 years younger than me, Nanny Lindsey has evolved from employee, to nanny, to friend and finally to a part of our family. It actually took two of my staff girls to help me out when I recently went out of town. They arranged their own busy schedules to get my girls to their dance classes each night. We jokingly call Kelly the "nanny in training" although there's really no training involved. Love my kids, protect them and you are invited into my circle.

I've written here before praising my staff. I'm honored that they allow me to be not just their boss but their friend as well. 

When I was married I had lots of "friends" to socialize with as part of a couple. Now that I'm single, my friend list is whittled down drastically. Those old friends left on my now shortened friends list are the ones who were there for me during the worst of times. They were the ones who stepped up to keep things together when I was falling apart. They will be on my friends list forever.

Once you are in my inner sanctum, you are a part of my family. Although others tried to tear my immediate family apart this year, what really ended up happening was my community expanded and in extension grew my family. 

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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Auto-Pilot: #reverb 13 Day 10

Living life on auto-pilot can feel disorienting and dull. How did you cultivate a life worth loving during 2013?

How can you turn off your auto-pilot button in 2014?

This post was meant to be tonight.

Today, I fulfilled a life-long dream and took my first flying lesson. No more living on auto-pilot for
this girl!

Driving there I figured I would probably just get to be a passenger and not do any actual flying on my own. Once in the air,  I turned to my flight instructor and asked how much am I flying and how much are you really in control.

"It's all you," he said. "I"m just along for the ride."

Oh, well maybe I'm not ready for this and you
Selfie at 1200 feet!
My fool flight instructor who trusted me with
controls of an airplane.
should take back control I said. But no, he was right. I got this!

I was so happy driving home I actually cried a little bit. Not just because I finally did something I've always wanted to do, but because I was taking control of my own life. I was flying the plane, I was making my own decisions in life and I could go anywhere I had the courage to go.

Which, even before I saw this prompt tonight, made me think of what have I been on autopilot about lately. The answer is glaringly obvious.

My book.

I wrote a book. The book was 95% complete when I was hit with the unexpected and sudden divorce drama last year. I was so distraught over the ending of my 23 year marriage I threw the book away.

Yes, you read that write. I took almost a years worth of work, walked to the trash can and threw it away. It was stupid and self destructive I know. But I couldn't think straight. My whole world had been thrown upside down and I believed everything I had written about living an authentic life was a lie. I'm a middle aged woman who was clueless her husband was having an affair. What could I possibly have to say of value to the world?

Thankfully though, I either had enough sense or not enough wits about me to even think of it, I did not destroy the copy that was on my hard drive.

A few of those closest to me have inquired a couple times this year , "so how's the book coming?" Umm, yeah I'm going to get back to work on it. I just don't have the time right now. That's what I tell them and that's what I tell myself.

But really, is it true? I have time to sit and blog. I have time to get lost on Pinterest. I even have time to go comatose in front of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Why don't I make the time to finish the book? Fear that it's not any good. Fear that I'm not good enough to do this. Fear that it, and in turn I, will be criticized.

When I had a couple hours on a plane earlier this year I did pull the book up and read through it. You know what? It's good. It still has value. In fact, I think it has even more value now than it did then because now I can say I have lived through it. I made it. Of course it needs some editing and a few parts need rewritten, but the essence of it is still there.

So, here we go.... No more living on autopilot!

This book, my book, will be written. It will be finished. And it will be published.

Oh god, now that I've put it out there I think I'm going to throw up.

Which,  after flying around for about 30 minutes today my flight instructor asked if I got motion sickness. No I don't. Have you ever been to zero G's he asked? Well, no I haven't.

Here we go!

Oh (insert expletive here)!

That was scary as hell! But way cool. Let's do it again!

Finishing this book is scary. But when it's published and out there I know it's going to be way cool too.

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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

What Went Right: #reverb13 Day 8

What went right in 2013?

Maybe you didn't quit smoking or lose those pounds or go to Paris, but something did work, did happen, and/or was realized. What was it?

On my birthday last April I made a list of thing to accomplish now that I am creating a new life: Forty Four For My Next 44. 

Some of the items on the list are still waiting to happen, but looking back I see that quite a few have already come true. What I'm most proud of getting right is actually the last one on this list.

  1. Travel more - This year during my annual California trip I went to Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Who knew I would love the desert and Palm Springs so much? When I'm an old rich person I plan on pushing my little dog in a stroller down the streets of Palm Springs. Late this summer I went to Seattle and absolutely loved that city, and not just because it's the home of Starbucks. They have a fabulous yoga community, food and vibe.
  2. Dance more - I miss dancing the night away.  I haven't been to a dance club in years, but not too long ago there I was in the middle of a club on the dance floor. I had so much fun dancing and laughing and feeling free. I will definitely be going back again. 
  3. Ride in a hot air balloon
  4. Finally find a sun dress that doesn't make my butt look huge -  Thank you to my mom for teaching me to love Macy's and know how to shop their sales. I not only found one sundress that didn't make my butt look huge, I found many of them! (See #7)
  5. Skydive
  6. See the Grand Canyon
  7. Not wait for special occasions to dress up - This turned out to be the summer of sun dresses! (See #4) I wore them almost any day I wasn't at work. It didn't matter if I was going to the farmer's market or out with friends. Because I work in a gym my standard attire is sneakers and yoga pants. It feels good to dress girly when I can!
  8. Swim with dolphins
  9. Go on a cruise
  10. Whale watching
  11. Take an aerobics class in Los Angeles with Richard Simmons at his Slimmons Gym
  12. Ride a cable car in San Francisco
  13. Visit all 50 states - I added one more to my list - Washington state! (see #1)
  14. Have more fresh flowers in my house - So it turns out you don't have to wait for someone to give you flowers, you can buy them for yourself!  Although I actually did receive many beautiful bouquets this year. 
  15. Take a surfing lesson
  16. Take ballroom dance lessons - thanks to a "bring a friend" offer I've already taken two free lessons. Maybe someday I'll be able to afford more lessons.
  17. Be more spontaneous -I did good this year just "going with the flow" and learning to surrender control. It's very freeing to surround myself with people that I can trust to let my guard down. 
  18. Encourage my creative side to flourish - I'm finally writing again and I've printed out some pictures I took this year. I even made a painting all by myself! 
  19. Publish my book (It's in the editing process now. I just need to devote more time to it)
  20. Attend Summer Solstice in Times Square 
  21. Finish my 500 hour RYT
  22. Get back to a regular yoga practice again- And oh how good it feels to be on the mat again.
  23. Get back to a semi-regular meditation practice again - Maybe not quite semi-regular but on its way.
  24. Stress less about finances
  25. Make time to read more - My Kindle is with me almost always.
  26. Redecorate my kitchen
  27. Take more pictures
  28. Walk more
  29. Get a Labradoodle dog
  30. Be able to afford a house cleaner
  31. Watch my kids grow up to be healthy, productive adults
  32. Stay healthy into my old age
  33. Walk the beach more
  34. Take more chances
  35. Attend more live theater -I love the theater! And fortunately I've found a couple friends who also enjoy it. Last month I saw West Side Story and we already have tickets to Wicked in a couple months!
  36. Find a way to combine what I love to do with a way to support myself financially
  37. Laugh more - For a brief time I didn't think I'd ever laugh again. My laughter has returned and I'll be damn sure it doesn't leave me ever again. 
  38. See my book for sale on Amazon (see #19)
  39. Be debt free
  40. Care a little less what people think
  41. Paint a baseball field onto my backyard
  42. Take the kids to Disney World
  43. Find balance 
  44. Be happy- yes I can honestly say I am happy. Of all the things on my list, this is the one I'm most proud to have gotten right this year. In odd moments it would hit me - hey I'm happy! And now that I'm happier than I've been in many, many years, I am more confident in what I want, what I don't want, and ready to set down a path to reach the rest of my goals. 

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

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Reveal Your Self (ie): #reverb13 Day 7

Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2013, self-portrait or otherwise!

That's me in the middle in the Flyer's sweatshirt. To the right are my girls and to my left are my "might-as-well-be-my-girls we are together so much anyway" daughters of my good friend.

It's not my most flattering picture of 2013. It's not even a good quality picture.

It is though my most carefree picture this year. And my happiest.

It was taken on one of those rare days that had no plan, yet the day ended up being absolutely perfect.

When I look at it I see a happy person, someone who can let go of her control issues and just live with abandon. I see laughter and happiness in the faces of those around her.

And, I see someone who can still rock a back bend with pre-teen girls.

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

Books: #reverb13 Day 6

What was a favorite book that you read this year?

Any genre, any author, any subject. Or—choose up to five, if it’s too impossible to narrow it down to a single volume.*
Looking back over my Kindle, there wasn't any one book that grabbed me especially hard this year. Probably because my time is so much more limited now so admittedly I'm not reading what would be considered great quality classic literature.

But I have read some good stuff this year:

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - a suspenseful novel of a bad marriage and a woman on the run. I read it all in one weekend.

2. Heft by Liz Moore - a severely obese man becomes friends with the woman who was once his student. An unlikely friendship begins that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

3. Who Will Cry When You Die  by Robin Sharma - I'm not sure there is really anything original in this book, but he does a great job of breaking down the big picture into simpler 101 tips to living a happy, healthy life. It's an easy read that I keep around to pick up and review when I'm feeling I need to get myself back on track.

4. There's More To Life Than This by Theresa Caputo - Although I haven't yet blogged about it, a couple months ago I saw The Long Island Medium in Memphis. It was a very emotional night. That night and then reading her book have really helped me put to rest some of my questions and doubts about my mom's death. Whether you believe Theresa Caputo can really talk to dead people or not, the woman is funny and has offered healing to many people.

5. Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss - If you've ever thought you were "addicted" to junk food, this book proves you right. The author traces the rise of the processed food industry and uncovers internal records that show the companies actually do use salt, sugar and fat to addict people.

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and manifest the year ahead. This prompt was found on Elephant Journal.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Low Points: #reverb13 Day 3

What was the low point of your year? How did you rise up, heal and move forward?

I didn't write this #reverb13 post last night because I just didn't know what my low point of the year was. Weird right?

My divorce was final. That was pretty low. I had a major falling out with Kid 1. That was horribly low.  

But when I think of low, I think of 2012. I think of sitting in the closet in the middle of the night trying to pry the gun cabinet open with a screw driver. I think of the nights of relentless insomnia where the only thing I could think to do was walk up and down the street at 3am with nothing but my dog by my side. The days that it just wasn't physically possible for me to get out of bed. 

Compared to all that, 2013 is my year to rise up, heal and move forward. 

Never looking back, always moving forward. 

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and manifest the year ahead. I'm following the prompts found on Elephant Journal.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gifts: #reverb13 Day 2

What was the most cherished gift you received this year? What was the best gift you gave?

 The best gift I received this year is the gift of love. 

After a year of being told I am no longer loved and no longer feeling lovable, my heart was in pieces. Shattered to the point I didn't believe it could ever be healed.

Although I still keep my heart closely guarded, those around me gave me the gift of their love this year in so many ways:
  • Friends who held me while I cried and wiped my tears. 
  • New coworkers who have become friends and an extended family. The kind that made sure I wasn't alone on Valentines Day, became caretakers to my kids and encouraged me to create a new life.
  • My children who were strong when I was weak and who stood by my side. My older children have stepped up to help me parent and my younger kids even gave me a card on Fathers Day. 
I spent too much of my adult life questioning how someone can say they love me but not show their love to me in a healthy way. I don't want to question that ever again and I certainly don't want anyone to ever question how I feel about them. I always tell those I love " I love you".

I don't have much to give as gifts. But if I say I love you to you I mean it. They aren't just words to me. It is my gift to you. 

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and manifest the year ahead. I'm following the prompts found on Elephant Journal. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One Word

Encapsulate your 2013 in one word. Why that word? What would you like your word to be for 2014? Why?

2013: Persevere
To continue steadfastly in a course of action especially in spite of opposition. To last or endure tenaciously.

This is supposed to be my rebuilding year, my time to create a new and better life post divorce. No one said it would be easy yet no one warned me about the seemingly constant obstacles I'd have to face.

I've said more than once this year "I'm just so weary of the constant battle."

But there's no rest for the weary when a new life needs designed. So trudge on I must.

2014: Prosper
To be successful or fortunate, thrive, flourish

My hope is this year I have done a good job laying the groundwork so that next year I will prosper creatively, spiritually, emotionally, financially,  socially and professionally.

This post is part of #reverb13, a series of daily writing prompts to explore the year passed and manifest the year ahead. I'm following the prompts found on Elephant Journal. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Grateful for Yoga and DOMS: 108 Sun Salutations

DOMS is setting in. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

I love it.

When I woke up this morning I didn't think I could move my shoulders. My pec muscles hurt just to lift a hairbrush. Tonight, after a day of walking along the Mississippi River, my hamstrings are screaming at me and I have to be careful to bend my knees as I bend over.

It's totally worth it.

Yesterday I went to the annual Thanksgiving Mala of Gratitude at Midtown Yoga Memphis where I joined a roomful of yogis completing 108 Sun Salutations.

Yes, 108.

Broken into 4 rounds of 27 each, the Sun Salutations are done mostly at your own pace and with any modifications needed. Modifications? Hah! Not for this yogi.

At least not for the first 27. And not even so much the next 27. By the third round I was thinking it would be the right yogic choice to listen to my body and maybe modify my chaturanga's (basically a chaturanga is similar to a push up). By the last round of 27 I have no shame in admitting I was doing modified chaturangas. My shoulders are grateful for that decision!

I've written before how yoga saved my life. I know that sounds quite melodramatic, but it's true. I found yoga at a time in my life I was really lost. My yoga journey strengthened me and prepared me for the year of my divorce that completely tore me down. And yoga has been the one staple in my life that has helped me rebuild myself.

I knew 108 Sun Salutations would be physically taxing, but it's always something I've wanted to do yet never allowed myself the privilege of taking the time away from my responsibilities to accomplish. I always felt I "should" be doing something else on Thanksgiving morning rather than playing around with this little yoga thing.

Now I know that wasn't selfless. It was hurting me. So after a difficult week of physical sickness and some depression creeping back in, I decided I was going this year no matter what.

The first round of 27 Sun Salutations are done in honor of ourself and our limitless possibilities. It was nice to begin that way to meditate on where I've been, how far I've come, and where I still want to go. Hopefully I've released some blocked energy that has been keeping me static in certain areas of my life.

The second round of 27 are done in honor of friends, family and "special jewels". Special jewels is a nice word for those people in our life we are having difficulty with.

Friends and family are the easy part. With six kids and an amazing extended friend support network I was able to dedicate many of the salutations to individual people.

But the special jewels part. Ugh, really? Do we have to go there?

But go there I did. I actually felt a little teary meditating on my special jewels. But, again, hopefully some negative energy was released.

Next we dedicated 27 rounds to our greater community. As someone who often feels very alone yet constantly surrounded by people, it was nice to remind myself that I am part of a much bigger whole.

The final 27 rounds were dedicated to our connection with the divine. It's a connection I have struggled with over the years, especially with my moms death and then again through my divorce. The connection hasn't quite been healed yet.

As I lay there in savasana afterwards, I felt better than I had in quite awhile. I knew I was in the right place and I knew I had made the right choice that morning.

Even now, with muscles sore and tired, I am grateful for yoga and my yoga community.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Last night after dinner me and Kid 6 snuggled in to watch Hulu and get caught up on this season's Glee.

I fell asleep 10 minutes in.

So my Thanksgiving 2013 post is a day late. But it was a very good Thanksgiving. Very different than last years Pizza, Pie and Popcorn Thanksgiving. Although last years was pretty good too, much better than expected in fact.

The day began with yoga - always good. While I was away Kid 2 made homemade macaroni and cheese (with one pound of cheese!) and deviled eggs. Once home Kid 4 helped me prepare the turkey. I somehow convinced him it was an honor to be chosen to stick your hand up the turkey's butt to clean it and stuff it. Shh, let's let him keep thinking that.

Then off to the movies we went.

Except... I never turned the oven on! Thankfully I have fabulous neighbors with a key to my house who I can call and they go over and turn it on for me.

We had two extra people at our table this year. I love extras and always am willing to set an extra plate. There was lots of food, laughter, fun and eating.

A few of my favorite moments:

"John don't throw things at the guest!"
"I'll fight you for the last egg"
And, of course the never-ending discussion of how "Mom cheated this year and bought pies. THE PIES AREN'T HOME MADE!"

The bought pies actually weren't as good as home made, but with enough whip cream on top everyone ate them.

I've listed many gratitude moments involving my family at the dinner table. It is truly one of my happiest places to be.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude November 25 - 27

November 25, 2013

Orthopedic surgeons who say "no dear, I didn't say you were getting old. I said your knees have been through a lot of wear and tear over the years."

November 26, 2013

Actual adult conversations with my kids that show me how mature they are growing up to be.

November 27, 2013

Nights off work home with the kids.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grateful To Be Able To Write

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your elephant journal. Thanks for being such an independent strong woman, and for allowing me to be in you and your girls lives. You're definitely some one I look up to. (:

I received this message tonight. To hear that something I write touches someone else means the world to me. 

The funny thing is, what I call my "throw away" pieces, the ones I write and I don't think much of,  tend to be the ones that get the most response. My latest Elephant Journal post had more than 1000 views and was shared to more than 40 Facebook pages before I even knew it was published. Like any piece of literature not all the reviews have been positive. But like Bob Weisenberg told me years ago, even if someone says something negative at least they are reading what you wrote.

Positive, negative or neutral reviews I always write for myself first.  I believe writing helps keep my crazy away. Or at least at a distance. 

Please click the link, comment and share the post if you also enjoy reading it.

You can also read my other posts on Elephant Journal here or by clicking the tab up top titled Elephant Journal. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grateful My Mom Taught Me To Be A Good Mom

November 22, 2013

"Did your mom take you to see your first Nutcracker?"

Kid 6 asked me that tonight as we were waiting to watch Moscow Ballet's The Nutcracker.

Of course she did. Good mom's take their daughters to see the Nutcracker I told her.

"So it's kind of like a tradition," she decided.

I spent more time tonight watching my daughters watch the ballet than I did watching the performance myself.  The awe in their eyes made me a little teary wondering if this is how my mom felt so long ago sitting with me at my first ballet.

I clearly remember my mom taking me to see The Nutcracker probably when I was about Kid 6's age. It may have been a Girl Scout outing because I also remember my mom's friends and their daughters being with us.

I've always said I want to give my kids experiences, not things. I'm certain I learned that from my mom. My kids don't necessarily have the newest and latest clothes, toys or gadgets, but I work hard to make sure they get to experience life.

They've been fortunate to have travelled more than most kids in their classes. Like my mom, I've taught them to appreciate the arts and to enjoy spending time in nature. They willingly entertain themselves with a book - their love of reading comes from me via my mom. My mom laughed, danced, sang and played with me and my sister.

It's exhausting being a single mom working two jobs, but I try every day to fit in a little bit of mommy time. Yes I'm crazy busy, but not too busy to remind my kids I love them. Our newest habit is every morning Kids 5 & 6 crawl back into bed with me for 10 minutes before they leave for the bus. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we doze. But it's a peaceful way to begin our day together - together being the important part.

Just like my mom did, no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing I will drop anything and be with a child who needs me. Even sick teenagers need home-made chicken noodle soup and some extra TLC.

Even as I got older and didn't "need" my mom I always knew I could count on her, no matter what.

Today Kid 4 and her preteen friends launched a text campaign to get me to bring them Subway to school for lunch. She didn't know I had already planned on doing that, so I played along for a little bit telling her and her friends oh no, I couldn't possibly leave work for half an hour to do something as trivial as bring them lunch at school.

I've been told that I'm "too available" for my kids.  Really?

Admittedly my coworkers did look at me a little funny as I left to go deliver lunch, but that's OK. Maybe when she's 16 and hates me she will remember the day I brought Subway for her and her friends. Or maybe when she's a twenty-something trying to be an adult she'll know she's not too old for my chicken noodle soup.

When she has a problem or is afraid, I want her to want to come to me.

I don't ever want my kids to look back and think "my mom wasn't there for me when I needed her."

Someday, I hope my kids will continue the tradition and sit with their daughters at The Nutcracker and remember that cold night in Memphis long ago when the lights went down and their eyes lit up. And maybe they too will get a little teary eyed with the memory.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 19 - 21

November 19, 2013

Comfort food.

November 20, 2013

Doing something I didn't think I could do. Not only doing it, but doing it pretty damn well.

November 21, 2013

Ghosts from the past. And their acknowledgement I hadn't been forgotten.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gratitude November 16-18

November 16, 2013


  • the people
  • the drinks
  • the place to sneak away for a break when needed.

November 17, 2013

1. Sunday family dinners
2. Non-stop laughter during Sunday family dinner

November 18, 2013

Little girls who are way too big to be crawling up into my lap, who crawl up anyway and fall asleep.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Grateful For Kids Who Aren't Afraid Of Work

November 15, 2013

I realized today I have raised kids who understand the value of work. With the many financial changes this year I've had to say no to their requests more than I like. But, I also see now where fortunately the groundwork I've laid over the years has made my "no" to them less harsh to hear and, even more importantly, has given them incentive to find ways to make it a "yes" on their own.

Kid 1 is working full time before he leaves for Navy boot camp in two months. Even last year when he was only working part time while in high school he bought each of his brothers and sisters a Christmas present with his own money. This year he is also buying presents, but when he babysat for me recently I offered him some money to get the kids dinner. "No, I'm working now. I got it", he told me.

Kid 2 is dual enrolled as a junior in high school and a first semester at the local community college. He works part time at the local YMCA in the youth station and child care. He works to help pay his college tuition and car insurance and is never late on a payment. He saved for months to buy his girlfriend a ring. (No, not that kind of ring!)

Kid 3 is too young for a real job at just 15 years old. But he is the go-to babysitter for a friend and her two young children. He also does odd jobs such as mowing yards and helping the dance school owner construct a new dance floor. He still sees the money he's earning as a ticket to Game Stop, but recently he said he is going to start saving part of his pay in a savings account as well.

Kid 4 wants to go on her Honor Society trip this year, but it is just totally out of my budget. I told her if she could find a way to pay it herself she could go. I honestly expected her to just forget about it. But, no, she thought it through and came up with a plan to earn the money herself.

Tonight she really made me proud. Her friends invited her out to dinner and a sleep over. But she had already committed to help a pregnant friend of mine clean her house once per week between now and her trip in June. Kid 3 has been sick all week and couldn't do his regular babysitting job, so kid 4 stepped up to clean and babysit tonight. I wasn't sure how she'd do at first knowing she was missing a night out with her friends. But she didn't once complain. In fact she said, "If I can keep this job for a year I can make a lot of money!"

Even kids 5 & 6 have stepped up to offer their own limited finances when they felt it was necessary. How sweet to have a 10yo offer you his prized $2 bill to help pay for a dinner out for the family. Of course I would never take the money, but just to know they are willing to chip in is all I really need.

I want my kids to enjoy the luxury of childhood and not have the financial worries that I do.

But I am very grateful that they don't feel entitled to luxuries and are willing to work for what they want.

MSOD: My Favorite Yet Most Challenging Yoga Class to Teach

November 14, 2013

Tonight I am grateful for my yoga class at Millington School of Dance.

It is one of the few yoga classes I am still teaching after taking on one full time and an additional part time job this year. There's just not much time left to teach but I was adamant I not lose my MSOD class.

I've written before about my MSOD girls here on the blog and even over on Elephant Journal.  This year we've actually expanded the class to include the teen girls from the pointe class, other dance students, dance moms & dads, students who used to take my classes outside the dance school and the occasional special appearance by kid #5.

With three other competing dance classes going on at the same time, it's not my most quiet, serene class. With the lights on, ballet barres stacked in the corner and dance shoes scattered around the room, it's not my most yoga-studio like class.

It's the only class I teach where I have to use my loud aerobics instructor voice to be heard over the music in all the other rooms leaving me with a strained throat every week.

But it is absolutely without a doubt one of my most favorite classes to teach. I never go in with a plan because I never know what the ratio of teen dancers to adults will be. I will be kind and just say the teens have just a tad bit more flexibility and just a tad bit more ADD than the adults usually do. Although it's one class, I'm really teaching to three or four different populations.

I absolutely love the challenge.

How can I explain the importance of building strength over flexibility to young girls without boring the non-dancers in the room? How can I instruct proper body mechanics to protect the lower back to the adults without boring the younger students who plop into a backbend without a second thought?

Oh and let's not forget the nights I do forget and don't separate the teen boys from the teen girls. The googly eyes looking across the yoga mat at each other and the boys "accidentally" knocking the girls out of a yoga pose are enough to keep me on my toes.

The adults have no trouble dropping into savasanna even with hip hop music pounding from the room next to us. The younger students usually start out tapping their fingers, then gradually even they become quiet and restful.

By Thursday evening I've already worked almost 50 hours for the week and I'm exhausted. But once we all get into the room and lay mats down, my energy is restored. I have never walked out of that class without a smile on my face.

I am thankful to MSOD for providing me a place to teach yoga and students who challenge and inspire me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 13: First World Problems

November 13, 2013

Tonight I am blessed and grateful that most  all of my problems are first world problems.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 10 - 12 Gratitude: Food, a Warm Home and Doctors

November 10, 2013

1. Big Sunday dinners with my table overflowing with food and family.
2. Friends who collect iPhone cases and give me their perfect condition hand-me-down cases.

November 11, 2013

1. Finding out someone remembered an off-handed remark I made a month ago and suddenly I have concert tickets!
2. A house with heat and the ability to pay the gas bill.

November 12, 2012

1. My job.
2. Midday texts/calls just to say hi.
3. Access to quality medical care.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 7 - 9 Gratitude List

November 7, 2013

1. Help in unexpected places.
2. Friends who have turned into family that my kids know they can depend on for anything.

November 8, 2013

1. Kids who know they can always call their momma and I will be there for them.
2. A job that pays me to do what I enjoy with the flexibility I need.

November 9, 2013

1. Homemade chicken noodle soup.
2. Listening to the laughter of goofy girls braiding each others hair.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

As Usual, It's Friends on the Gratitude List: November 4-6

November 4, 2013

1. Friends who are willing to turn their car around at 10:30pm and comfort me.
2. Friends who make me laugh when I want to cry, even if it means I blow snot out my nose crying and laughing at the same time.

November 5, 2013

1. Days that end much better than they begin.
2. My mom for introducing me to and beginning my love affair with the theater.  
3. Friends who give me their orchestra seats to the theater.
4. Friends who share my love of the theater.
5. Friends who walk me around downtown Memphis at night having dinner, drinks and enjoying a rare evening out. 

November 6, 2013

1. Rekindling my love of teaching yoga
2. Noisy dance schools, little girls in tights and leotards, and loud blaring music that little girls smile and dance to all night.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Month of Gratitude 2013

It's that time again.  Bloggers and others are listing what they are grateful for each day of the month of November.

I've participated for the past two years. My 2011 gratitude list was very different than my struggle to find gratitude during my very difficult 2012. This year I'm in a very different, yet better, place and I'm not sure where my gratitude list will go.

I do know though that these past couple years have taught me, if nothing else, even in the darkest of times there is always something to be grateful for. Always.

November 1, 2013

1. Safely guiding my unsafe car to a place I can pull over and call for help.
2. Having car insurance that includes roadside assistance and towing.
3. A pink mohawk tow truck driver who wouldn't leave me alone on the side of the road.
4. Kids and a staff who were willing to drop what they were doing and come rescue me.
5. Long distance phone calls.

November 2, 2013

1. New friends who willingly hand over keys to their brand new car so that I'm not without transportation to work.
2. Old friends who save me money by fixing my car for me.

November 3, 2013

All the kids piled on my bed waiting their turn for one of momma's back massages.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Longing (Poem)

My latest Elephant Journal post. It's quite different than what I usually write. 

It's special to me and I'm proud of it.

I wasn't sure what to expect when it was published, but I've gotten some beautiful emails from people who have read it, felt it, lived it and understand love and longing.

Please click the link, comment and share the post if you also enjoy reading it. 

You can also read my other posts on Elephant Journal here or by clicking the page tab up top titled Elephant Journal.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin

Last week at work, during one of our regular deep philosophical discussion periods, someone said "hey you should listen to this song."

My response was an eye roll and a let's just get back to work now.

But I sat and listened. And as I listened I felt my eyes get moist and my heart become heavy.

Any minute now, my ship is coming in 
I'll keep checking the horizon 
And I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call 
It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon 
It's just that times are lean 

Looking back, I can see now that I've spent too many years waiting for my real life to begin. "It will be better when...", "If I can just make this happen...", "Someday I'll have the time/money/energy..."

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened 
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon 
And down this beaten path, up this cobbled lane 
I'm walking in my old footsteps, once again

The years went by, my life continued and I kept waiting. Waiting for something to happen.

Then something happened. Something big. And I was scared. I'm still a little scared. But I don't want to wait any longer.  I'm ready to find a way to steer my own ship.

I know the sailing won't be easy. But there is something comforting about taking control. I know there are still hard times ahead. I know I'm going to make mistakes. I know times will be lean.

But they will be my times, my terms, mine to overcome.

I know people now who are in a holding pattern waiting for their own lives to begin. I see the same fear and unhappiness in their eyes that I had in mine for so long. I know the pain they feel. I know what 's holding them back.

As sad as I am for those people, there's nothing I can do to help them get moving. When they decide it's their time, or their big scary moment happens, it's up to them to begin their own life.

As I sat and listened to the song I became aware of one of my young staff girls watching me. I looked at her, smiled, wiped the tear away from my eye and pretended to get back to the work on my desk.

But inside I knew I was finally ready. It is time to get to the real work of making my new life begin.