hoping & coping…

On April fourteenth, three years ago, I launched this tiny little notion of a podcast. The idea behind it was to build a platform for women, where they could safely share their stories. Period. There would be no political or religious filtering, no checklist of qualifications they would need to own. The truth is, women need women. This isn’t to negate that humans need connection, or that men are any less deserving of relationship. Those things are valid, but for THIS show, the heart was women…

I wasn’t sure what would come of it, honestly… Right off the bat there were some issues, not ironically related to the very heart behind why the show met a need. From the very start of its inception, years before, I was firm in stating that I wasn’t after growth or numbers, popularity or riches. While many felt my goal of “financially self supporting” was too small, for something I was so personally invested in- my heart was always for the woman out there who’d need the moment. I knew that whoever should be involved, would be, and have held to that. It turned out that something about the project resonated, and as more women came to the mic and exposed pieces of their journeys, a beautiful community began to grow. Women began to allow the light shed by other’s experiences, to illuminate the lies and shame they’ve allowed to hold them down. Women began to say (and believe) the words “I am not alone”. Beauty grew, in abundance, from the words brave women would speak.

Honestly, three years later, I can’t explain it.

I have had the gift of not only connecting with women from all parts of the world, but watching our community of women rise up to support each other. Nothing within my professional life has ever filled my heart with such warmth, as seeing that happen every day.

On April fourteenth, the third season of this beautiful little show was going to launch. The recording schedule was laid out and confirmed months ago. I am a planner, so it all fell together smoothly. (I also have a pretty great support team that give me life!) Approaching this third season, I was really starting to feel like I might finally know a little of what I was doing. We also, in our “down time”, brought together a beautiful virtual conference of EMPOWERING women. The energy was AMAZING, for all of it. The show is NOT financially self sufficient yet, but the conference would make that a reality. (coupled with our Patreon)

And then, March came and life imploded…

Women began reaching out more, asking for prayer, needing an ear, sharing their daily moments, and I thought about why we are here- and why the Collective Podcast began, in the first place.

Weeks ahead of schedule, today, our third season is launching. Our guest is Samantha Ruckles, who began an amazing kindness initiative in Australia, that is now recognized around the globe. Sam’s story is the PERFECT inspiration we need right now. (You can go here to get her episode)

In the next few weeks we have episodes coming that need to be shared, within this current world we live in. Episodes and guests who were scheduled months before we even knew anything about Covid-19 or could fathom things like self-isolation and worldwide shelter-in-place plans… We are showing up early because someone, even if it is just one person, needs us to.

As for the conference… It is this beautifully empowering day, (ironically already virtual) that has the possibility to leave every woman who attends feeling empowered, capable and more able to navigate this season of life. Is it something I truly believe can help women? Absolutely! However, the current climate of anxieties and emotions has numbed the enthusiastic energy from weeks ago. Where hundreds of women couldn’t wait for the tickets to be available, now many are silent. I get it, you can’t eat or practice hygiene with a virtual conference pass. I also know that, with the financial climate as it is, I may not be able to sustain the show without it.

If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, I’m asking you to take that leap of faith with us. Here’s the information about the Gathering, the brilliant women involved and what to expect. It is a modest price, with a percentage going to two amazing charities. We truly are better together! I know it is scary to spend money right now, but please know that our mental/emotional health is AS IMPORTANT as our physical health. It truly IS an investment, this group of women has the heart FOR YOU. FOR community…

And if it isn’t right for you, that’s ok too. As long as the Collective can be around, it will be. And when it no longer can, well, then I have to trust the divinity in that too…

p.s. three…

{image credit Debby Hudson}

Dear Mom, 

Although we are friends now, we haven’t always been in this place in life. When I was growing up, you were distant. Not distant in a way that I couldn’t see, hear or touch you, but you just had somewhat “checked out” as a mom. Being the baby of six kids, I always felt like maybe you gave birth to me but just didn’t want to raise another child. 

As I got older, I learned that you didn’t have the best upbringing yourself, losing your birth mother at a young age, having your father say he couldn’t care for his children so putting them in foster care (which ultimately tore you away from most of your siblings, except one sister), then being adopted and raised by a mother who wasn’t the best suited for the job. 

All of that made me realize you had some baggage to deal with. Maybe because of that baggage you just had no idea how to really be a mom. But then as I got even older, I learned of some things about you that probably led to you also not being a close mother to me during the formidable years.

I learned that you were raised Mormon, but broke the rules and got pregnant in High School. Because of that you were forced to leave that comfort and the support of home, you moved into a place with your boyfriend and started a family. The two of you were married and had 4 children together. He was a traveling sales man, leaving you alone to raise the children by yourself. I think this took a real toll on you and you got involved with another man and ended up pregnant. Although you attempted to hide this from your husband, he knew that child couldn’t be his. So he divorced you, so once again you were alone raising children, but now you are also pregnant and raising children. 

When your “baby” was a little over one, you met a man (who would ultimately become my father) and began dating him. The two of you eventually married, when your youngest child was 2 years old. When your youngest child was 4, you gave birth to another child (me). I am not sure if I was a planned pregnancy or if you were giving your husband a child he wanted. But either way, you never seemed ready for another child. Even reading back in the baby book put together for me, the comments you wrote in the book are shocking. When the book asks you to document what you thought when you found out you were pregnant, you wrote “I hope this is the last”. When it asks what your first thoughts were when you first laid eyes on me, you wrote “its a girl”. I would’ve hoped your answers would have been a little more enthusiastic. 

You and my dad filled your lives with lots of alcohol and partying. You would also get involved in the “Swinger” lifestyle, hosting parties at your home. These parties were often full of food and alcohol and lots of people, while us kids were told to go to the basement and stay there until we were told to come up. I remember venturing upstairs once, because the smell of the food was just too tempting, and although I didn’t “see” anything, to this day I can remember the panic on your face as you tried to scurry me back down to the basement. It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out from one of my siblings that you guys were Swingers. Then I started piecing all that together. 

My point here, Mom, is this: I know you love me. I know you genuinely want the best for me. I now feel like we can talk about anything and you always have good advice. It has taken us some time to get here though and although you played a bigger role (being a more mature, motherly figure that should have been your role) I also take some responsibility in keeping us from a wonderful relationship for all those years. 

Love you!

p.s. two…

{image credit Debby Hudson}

It took 9 years, past our divorce, for me to face that you were the love of my life. Maybe we just weren’t good together. I don’t know. When it seemed like you not only stopped loving me, and touching me, but also liking me- I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t put words to the feeling, for so long, but today I can:

Imagine living, while your heart beat far outside your body.

Maybe I heard that in a lyric, or a movie somewhere. It sounds way to profound to come from me. Perhaps I watched it, on the tv one night, and thought “yes, that is it! That is how I feel. That is what it was like.”

But then I would have turned to the total absence of anyone, and realized that even though I knew- I had lost.

I had lost you.

What was it, about me, that you could no longer love? Was it that I wasn’t younger?

I kissed a colleague, and you left me. Unwilling to work it out. His kiss, though electric and exciting, hadn’t ever felt like home.

Like you.

My entire self was reaching, somehow, for you, but though your body was sleeping beside me, you’d never been farther from my reach.

I tried to tell you those things, but you were so walled up from hearing the words I spoke, that you couldn’t hear me.

My love, you are remarried now, and finally a father. This is something I could not give you, and because of your new wife’s ability to, I will forever believe in the worthlessness of me.

I am working on it. Working through accepting. I’ve always been better with numbers than words, and the math is that I couldn’t grow our family, you pulled away and shut me out. You looked for me to mess up, and when I did, you tossed me out. You replaced me with a non-faulty woman, and in the end got everything you’d always wanted.

I guess what you had wanted was a family and a wife who could give you that. That had never been me.

You will forever be the love of my life, but I have long since set you free.

p.s. one…

As a part of a new, limited micro-series entitled Post Script, launching under the Collective Podcast, I will be sharing anonymously submitted letters, written by women within the community. Each week that a mini-episode launches, a coordinating post, containing the letter, will be here…

{image credit, Debby Hudson}

Mom,

Hello, how are things going for you? Hope everything is well. Things here are good. I just need to say some things. It may not sound like what you want to hear but it is something I have been needing to tell you for awhile now.

I feel like I have given you chance after chance to get to know me. You keep throwing it away and I only wish you could understand how that makes me feel. I realize that just because one is related to you biologically doesn’t at all mean they have to accept you. I just can’t comprehend it, though. I mean, the fact of the matter is I am your child. Does that even mean anything to you?

I want you to be part of my life. You say you want me to be a part of your life but do you call and check in or write? I am sick of always having to be the first one to do it. I know maybe I may not be the ideal child to have, let alone raise, but a mother is supposed to love her children unconditionally.

I will not give up on you. You will always be my mother no matter what, and I have never blamed you for leaving me, actually, I thanked you. I know I wouldn’t be alive today if you hadn’t walked out. I’m not intending to make you feel guilty or hurt, but when is it going to be the time when you are going to face the reality that sometimes we make bad choices but we have to live with them and deal?

I think that you are doing a wonderful job raising the rest of the children. I just wish you had five minutes to spare for me. For as much as it may be worth to you, I do love you very much.

P.S. I would hope that you would just think about this and consider a relationship. 

what i learned…

One of my first ever, favorite blogs belonged to Emily P. Freeman, way back in the early days. I still read and follow her, and find such value in this voice she has developed.

For a long time now, she has sat aside space to share what life’s seasons have taught her, issuing the challenge to her readers as well, and occasionally I have. One of the things I am trying to do, this year, is be more intentionally about noticing, breathing, and using this space for such. Reflecting on the winter months of this year seams like a great place to start… Here’s what I’ve learned-

1.} I overcomplicate…

A simple conversation, with a woman whom I respect and value so much, led to the “official” coming together of a group of like-valued women, on a regular basis. While it is mastermind-esque, it is something different too. From the first moment it was clear that this was an important, nurturing and vital space.

For a very long time I’ve dreamed of being a part of something like that, but I have stayed quiet, within that dream. It seemed too big… impossible…not for me. And yet, one silly afternoon conversation became this unboxable thing. While I like to think it hadn’t happened before because life was waiting for us to come together, in that exact moment, I have to admit that I stand in my way a lot. I overcomplicate things, believing they are far bigger than they are… When we get hide inside our thoughts, we miss out…

2.} sometimes over-complication looks like…

Avoidance.

I was playing an odd “dance” with my memoir, for awhile now. I would lose myself in it, for a season, and then when I needed breath I would pull out, and avoid it.

Over and over again.

I am practicing boundaries within my work. Self care through the hard things. Sometimes this is a walk, while other times it may look like losing an afternoon to a shallow book.

3.} I might be a bar person…

My husband is from an alcoholic family, and so our only (shared) experience of people who hang out at bars, stemmed from that. If someone had told me they were a “bar person”, I would instantly picture a falling-down-drunk person, or an intoxicated-fist-fights person. To be honest, I think my imagery may have been heavily influenced by movies and tv too…

But the thing is, there is something really special about finding a spot that feels like yours. I place that is not home, where you can sit with your spouse and just breathe. Take in the live music, maybe dance a little, and enjoy the company of friends.

4.} If you look, you WILL find it…

In my line of work, I have a lot of women who confide in me that they are desperate for a community of women who see them, love them and find value in them. This is an ache I identify with. Much of my adulthood looked just like that…

We are so fortunate to live in an era where there are worldwide, online communities, connecting people with commonalities, 24/7. It is amazing really. I’ve known this, but it wasn’t until this particular season when I really had my eyes opened to the powerhouse of community that we can become a part of, through social media.

5.} Five minutes here, really helps…

I have lived a majority of my adult life procrastinating the more tedious “chores”, in life, pushing it until I had more time… These same columns of tasks would travel, from day to day, on my agenda. Whenever my eyes would land on them, I would feel equal parts shame and guilt. My negative self talk would chime in with words like lazy.

It didn’t seem to matter that there may have been 73 tasks on a particular days list, and I accomplished all but the Tedious Four, that rolled over, yet again. LAZY, I’d think. Lazy? SMH.

Then I began to realize a few minutes today, does make it easier. It sounds so simple, but I just didn’t get it. Its like I’m finally growing up!

6.} it is ok to say “no”…

As I transitioned through December, and into the start of this year, there were a few areas of life that I had to strongly evaluate. Things that I was a part of, that were only leading to overwhelm.

The guilt was HUGE, as I cut those commitments. There were people who were disappointed, but I had to acknowledge that I was allowed to choose things to fill my time that kept me on the path I needed to be on. Maybe, to outsiders, this sounds selfish.

In truth, I needed to be free to invest myself in my biggest priorities. Being spread too thin meant that nothing was getting enough of me.

What did you learn, during this winter? {Also, have you entered to win two Fandango movie tickets? The winner will be chosen tomorrow.)