brink…

It was the September of my 20th year when the combination of feel and scent in the air took me back, ala’ movie montage moment, to so many Septembers past. High school Septembers, Jr. High autumn evenings. Flooding, internally, from one to the next.

When I was thirteen, I declared I would one day have a daughter and name her September. It turns out that I neither had a daughter, nor named a child (or pet) that. I do not regret this, just so we’re clear.

All in all, if we were keeping score, September probably shouldn’t be a favorably definitive month for me. It was when school years began, and growing up I was not a lover of school. September marked my first full month as a group home kid, when I was 12.

It carried me into my two definitive adolescent romances, which led, in different ways, to deeply broken hearts…

It also, in fairness, introduced me to my husband, when I was seventeen. That September nearly killed me, as I dealt with a health crisis of extreme proportions, which may (or may not- we will never know) have led to my inability to carry a pregnancy to term. Pretty much nothing, at all, was going remotely ok that September, but in walked Chw and I knew that the two of us would be married, so for that I will declare September 1993 a victory.

A year later, September would bring us full circle, to a horrific miscarriage.

Why it stands out to me that Septembers marked more loss than gain, I’ll never know. Sometimes my biggest gifts (I met each of the kids I loved like a mother loves, in Septembers. First, 2000 and then 2003.) Beautiful gifts, further falling in love and inevitable heartbreak.

Shattering.

Destroyed irreparably.

September…

Two of my three beloved dog besties were laid to rest in Septembers.

My husband left me for another woman in September. Though we reconciled two years later, that first September had us glued to the tv as planes hit the towers and we gained perspective unlike we’d ever had before.

SO MANY milestones of trauma mark the ninth calendar month, of the year.

And still… still, I find myself to be a lover of September. The autumn air ushers in this crisp scented magic, and I am here for it.

This year’s janky calendar had hoards of people unable to wait for summer, because summer would fix the world.

Then it didn’t.

And now, now people are chasing after pumpkins, and spice and new sweaters earlier than ever, with a misplaced faith in this next season bringing the reset needed to right the world.

I don’t know… Maybe it will. September has proven to be a magical and tricky beast. These Sept’s of past have been known to bring about some incredibly unexpected gifts- I’ll just caution us all to be weary.

Whatever these days actually hold, (and let’s be honest- it’s 2020, September could bring us ANYTHING!) I’m pretty certain we will arrive at the first of October scathed in someway.

For all of us, I hope it is a beautiful healing way… A restorative way.

I’m cautious, but also here for it. Despite the track record, I’m a September girl through and through…

yesterday…

Yesterday was one of those days when you log on, for one reason or another, and are bombarded by the news…

*The shattering grief and updates from Kobe & Gigi’s memorial, for one. I have so many thoughts and feelings on the pieces of that, which flooded my twitter feed, but they aren’t important in this space. The grief is felt by a giant community of fans and human beings, let us not forget though that the actual grief belongs to the people who really knew them. Their grief is not meme worthy, front page headline/clickbait fodder, or appropriate for anything beyond us kindly giving them space to have it…

*The news of Katherine Johnson passing was remarkably sad and humbling. As someone who works, every single day, with women, I hope that I never cease to find myself in awe of the brave and powerful women who have accomplished many amazing feats, simply by engaging in their authentic journey. She lived 101 deep years, may we honor her and her family for that many more years to come…

*Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of rape. He is facing trial for four additional counts. (I realize I don’t normally delve into topics like this, but bear with me a minute, please.) If convicted on these additional charges, Weinstein faces a max sentence of 25 years.

The definition of rape is: To take something by forceful robbery or spoiling.

Most people would agree that rape is a violent crime, even when a weapon is not directly involved. A black man, in America, who is convicted of one violent robbery could face up to 25 years in prison. Tell me, how is this justice then, regarding what Weinstein has done? (And mind you, there are many other women. Twenty years ago, women were warning Hollywood newcomers to steer clear of him.)

It is worth noting: I have been clear that while I believe Weinstein is a monster. I also believe that he was shaped to become such, by an industry of powerful men who abused women in every possible manor, simply to keep them dependent and controllable. Why should a woman’s life have little value? The effects of psychological trauma and sexual assault, at the hands of Weinstein AND men like him, shape her life in unimaginable ways and will stay with her until she dies…

*I’m not even going to talk about the health or political nightmares continually on rotation, in the news… My point is, that the news is a VERY small portion of what real life looks like. As I type this, my dear friend is sitting vigil, waiting for a family member to pass. My own mother in law lost her sister, this weekend. A sweet friend experienced a terrifying moment with her son yesterday. A dear friend is grieving the loss of her baby girl… Miscarriages are happening; terminal diagnosis are being given; marriages are ending, and the loved ones belonging to every day people, are taking their last breaths…

The news is overwhelming, because LIFE is overwhelming.

When we allow ourselves to be consumed by all of the negative- getting swept up in all of the FEAR directed our way- we will drown. Maybe our heart will go on beating, but surviving is not living.

I’m encouraging us to change the way we see things, starting TODAY.

  • Acknowledge the hard things with grace and love.
  • Extend kindness whenever possible.
  • Listen to our instincts when they encourage us to fill a gap. (tell her she looks pretty in that sweater, offer to bring a family a meal, buy that person’s coffee, etc…)
  • Keep stock (an actual list, if possible) of the beautiful things happening around you. Big things, small things, even if all you can find is that first sip of your morning coffee, when the flavor and temperature are just right. We HAVE TO CLING to the good bits with FAR MORE tenacity than we reflect on the bad.

Yesterday was a hard news day.

Yesterday was a hard day, for a lot of people I love.

It is quite possible that yesterday was overwhelming for you too.

Yesterday is over. Sure, there are ways its contents can reach into today, and beyond, but we can’t worry about yesterday anymore.

Focus on TODAY. Find your things, and hold on tight…

never too old…

I have, for a long time now, been inspired by the people who challenge us to reflect back on our growths and progress. The very act leads me to more intentional choices. For a long time I’ve followed along as Emily P. Freeman has blogged these things, and once or twice I may have even half heartedly played along.

The truth is, that at the start of every month (and every season) I determine that I am going to create a place for inspired reflection, within this space. And every single month there is something that happens, which makes me release myself from that plan.

Every single month.

So, throughout January I was adamant with personal notes (in my planner) that I would NOT let this fall to the wayside again. And then, as January wrapped up, what happened? I was hit with a blinding aura followed by a cluster migraine that dominated my brain for the better part of five days… As I reentered life and began to take note of the work I needed to make up, the glaring realization of yet another month failed, smacked me right in my side.

Maybe it is February fourth.

Maybe it feels too late, like what’s the point now?

If that’s true, ok. I’m here anyway…

In January I learned-

  • I cannot hold any element of my reality to an unrealistic ‘one size fits all’ standard.
  • How absolutely valuable and motivating it is to have a trusted group of women who I know will offer me honest feedback, speak truth to/over me and inspire me.
  • Oddly, a lot about sugar.
  • How my illness has affected so many parts of my life, most unexpectedly being my tastebuds. Every single day, dietarily, is like a trip to the Craps table in Vegas…
  • That bouncing/dancing/exercising on a rebounder is maybe the most fun way to burn calories EVER. (then you add in all of the amazing benefits it offers the body, immune system, etc.) win/win!

In her email Emily asked three thought provoking questions, for reflection…

What was my most life-giving YES this month? I would have to say it belongs to an opportunity that I can’t publicly share just yet, but it will be amazing and I can’t wait until I can!

What was my most life-giving NO this month? Ohh… I had been leading a small group for a few local women whom I have grown to cherish. While I really value them, and loved our time together, I came to a point work wise where SOMETHING had to go. It was a good thing, but hard too.

What is one thing I want to leave behind, moving into February? Looking for reasons to bundle up with Netflix. I know, it was cold and grey out. I had flare attacks. I get it. But also, a lot of those times I could have actually slept/rested, or picked up a book. Netflix has become too easy. I don’t want to leave down times like that, behind me. Just the ALWAYS resorting to that choice…

On that Note- What I watched and enjoyed:

Anne with an E season 3

Younger

Jojo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What I read:

The Ten Thousand Doors of January (beautifully written but, in the end, not my style of book.)

The F*cK It Diet (still reading this… but it is BRILLIANT and necessary!)

Real Life Changing Discoveries:

My Rebounder (this isn’t my first rebounder experience. This thing is THE BEST rebounder we’ve ever seen though. At least for under $100)

Dog Hair Roller (If you have pets… this may be your best purchase. CHANGED OUR LIVES!)

Things I did and LOVED:

  • sent handwritten letters every week.
  • kept my Christmas cards hung up all month. My husband was annoyed, but they brought me so much joy! (they came down 2/1 because I love my marriage)
  • continued listening to the Catlick podcast. (HOOKED!)
  • Coffee dates with my husband. We’ve had some RICH time together in our local coffee spots.
  • Time out, quiet Sundays.

Did you salvage any January growth/amazement/accomplishments/discoveries? If so, I’d love to know!

the little things…

Back in the Fall, my husband and I had planned a mini-weekend trip. We have season passes to a fairly popular amusement park, in Ohio, and decided to spend a Saturday there, and then hit up Costco on Sunday morning, while coming home.We LOVE Costco. Before we moved to Pennyslvania, Costco was our weekly source of organic produce and misc. foods. We miss it, a lot.

Amusement parks are pretty amazing, aren’t they? If you love rides, they are made for you. If you love ridiculously overpriced (and mega unhealthy) fair-style food- ALSO for you. If you love live performances, sometimes random in nature, this is your scene. As an empath and an observer, I love the energy of amusement parks. There is so much adrenaline and thrill induced JOY. Sometimes, simply walking through the park, I am in awe of the priceless memories and moments being made. Countless people, all coming from vastly different places in life, together for something GOOD. I love it!

We were so excited to go! We’d made sure our dog, Elenor was cared for. We made sure we would return from our trip exhausted, but welcomed by a clean home. We had done all of the things that one is supposed to do… As we crawled into bed, the night before, I quietly said something so off-the-wall strange-

“I don’t know if I’m more excited about the amusement park, or Costco!” I had said it to be funny, but it was also true. What I didn’t expect was for my husband’s face to contort into a surprised understanding as he exclaimed “I know! I keep thinking the same thing!”

The first time those words had made their way into my brain, I felt pretty stupid. Warehouse stores are known for being anti-minimalism and promoting a consumer culture of MORE. Neither my husband nor I ascribe to that culture of accumulating simply because. Even so, my brain chided me for being materialistic. My husband is my life partner. We have shared everything over the past twenty-six years, including some pretty hellish experiences, and yet- yet, I found myself hesitant to admit that silly truth, to him.

The next day, we sat in the car for far longer than either of us wanted. Beyond the trip there, the park was shut down due to being over capacity, and this was AFTER we’d sat in bumper to bumper traffic for HOURS, just waiting to get in. We were both working overtime to maintain a sense of patience and adventure, but our will was fading. Oddly enough, the one thing that our forced conversation and banter returned to again and again was our optimism for Costco, the next day. We had connected over something SO silly, and that connection got us through a frustrating time.

Life is hard, and marriage is no exception. We live in a society OBSESSED with wedding culture, but the general attitude of marriage tends to be akin to death. It’s sad really, because, despite how hard it can be, marriage can be rewarding in the way that no other relationship is. There is not another person on the planet I would rather have travelled through the pits of hell with, just like there isn’t anyone else who I would willingly have gone through the stages of hangry with, when it seemed our fun adventure was a bust…

We eventually left the line, and went back to our room. We were disappointed, while each trying to act like it was OK, because it was an adventure. Eventually we made our way to a great little waterfront place for dinner, and as we decided to walk along the twilight pier, after our meal, I noticed headlights on the road leading to the park.

Dare we? I asked… I knew he was frustrated and I was certain he’d say no. Instead he shrugged and said, why not?

We did, and it was really fun! We had five fun filled, night time hours. We met truly fascinating people, each of us having our own stories to share about the day the park shut down. It was an awesome adventure, and we can’t wait to do it again! None of it had gone as planned, but because we opened up to each other (even about the trivial and embarrassing stuff) it went better than we could have imagined. Marriage is like that too… It requires honesty, vulnerability and sticking out the inevitable frustrations. It isn’t easy, but it is SO worth it.

In the end, it is the little things that bring about human connection. The shared interests and experiences. That is the very foundation of our relationships. The big moments matter, but it is the little things that make the life.

If you’re curios, Costco was AMAZING! Equally as fun, (no, I’m not exaggerating) I give it a 10 out of 10.

Magic wrapped joy…

Anyone who truly knows me can attest to the fact that i LOVE gifts. Long before anyone was publishing books about Love Languages, I was enamored by the mystery of a wrapped present. I loved the magic of giving them, even when I clearly knew what was inside. Emotionally, I engaged in the unveiling of the secrets, with the recipient. I am even an absolute fan girl of the empty wrapped gifts meant only to adorn hotel lobbies in December. I don’t know why.

I was just sharing a story, with a friend, about one Christmas when I was a little girl. My grandmother would put her wrapped gifts out weeks before Christmas and I loved looking at each one. While I obviously had a vested interest in the packages with my name on them, I held a pretty committed intrigue to each gift, regardless of who it belonged to. On this particular Christmas, my grandmother had a wrapped gift for me, in the shape of an octagon. It was roughly ten inches long, and octagonal around. I was enchanted. Every empty moment spent at her home, that season, became filled with me sitting cross-legged beneath her tree, that gift in my hands. What WAS it? What could it possibly be? I would rack my brain imagining everything I knew, shaped even remotely similar. I concluded it had to be a candle. A really large, octagon shaped pillar candle. The disappointment of receiving a candle for Christmas was real, but also much smaller than the satisfaction I would obviously feel, come Christmas Eve, when I unwrapped it and had been right.

If gift guessing had been an Olympic sport, I would have gone out for it EVERY SINGLE YEAR… (I also would have been disqualified in ’85 for tearing 2″ pieces off of the back of every present beneath my mom’s tree- the equivalent to “doping”, in this event)

Christmas Eve finally came. Our tamales were eaten, merriment was high and, as the youngest, my time came to begin the unwrapping festivities. I’m sure you will be surprised to learn that the amazing mystery gift was not a candle. In fact, it was two Barbie boxes taped together. (because Barbie boxes used to not be square) It was absolutely GENIUS and while I give my grandmother full credit for being the family Einstein of gift wrapping, she inspired my creative gift wrapping beast to emerge… (Yes, I DID learn it from watching her! Thanks, ’80’s, for the commercial sentiment that is applicable to so many things!)

So yeah, now that it’s a legit “love language”, it is safe to say that gifts are mine. As I’ve matured, my gift giving has too. i LOVE it. It is my absolute favorite thing, of all times. (EVER!!!) If I had the money and corporate sponsorships of Oprah, everyone would be getting presents, all of the time. I keep running gift lists for everyone in my life, from friends to family. I have a ridiculous number of loved ones reach out to me for guidance and direction year round. (I wouldn’t say I’m a gift expert, but I will say I am pretty ok at it.)

I’m not Oprah though. I’m not Ellen. I don’t have awesome companies giving me things to give to people I like. I have me. I have my starving artist budget. The plus side to this shiny (and yet equally dull) coin is that this means I am far more intentional about the gifts I do give. The less than fun flip side is that I don’t get to give a fraction of what I would like. (If you were hoping that this silly post might end with presents galore, it won’t. I’m sorry- but I do promise imaginary puppies for everyone!!!)

Take my husband, for instance. Gifts are NOT his love language. They are not something he cares too much about. He could never again give a gift to anyone and be absolutely capable of both sleeping at night, and seeing his reflection in the mirror… (I know, it sounds like I’m describing a MONSTER, but I’m not. Chw is a really great guy, he’s just a little flawed when it comes to presents. I have learned to accept him…) He also, hasn’t been the best gift receiver. Personally I feel that it may be my purpose, on this earth, to one day create a course helping weak receivers not shatter the hearts of the generous givers they love- because this is REAL. If you’ve never known such hell, count your lucky stars… Because when you pour all of your love (and thought and time, and therefore self) into the perfect gift, for it to end up shoved in a drawer or never worn/used- it kills… You just can’t please some people… (by no fault of their own, of course. They just don’t care. And are damaged. They may crush souls for breakfast, but I’m not here to judge. Whatever.) Even with this reality, I love him, so I continue to torture myself and therefore, for him, I have three gift lists…

There’s the:

  • ridiculously boring stuff he actually wants that, in my opinion, make for really crappy gifts. (a tire gauge? really? Nothing says Merry Christmas, you are the love of my life like a tire gauge- am I right?)
  • awesome gift ideas that he should love, yet fit within my crazy small budget.
  • the ten million dollar list of things that i KNOW would make him blissfully happy, (Apocalypse Tesla? YES! Your own Japanese Steakhouse, on call, in your own kitchen? DONE!) but that I also know I will never get to give him, and that’s ok… It’s still fun to dream, and the dreams that really make me happiest are the ones when I imagine I get to give really wonderful gifts to the people I love…

Take my podcast, for instance. Every single guest I talk to, I think of the perfect gift for them. I can’t buy it for them, but I deeply wish that I could in an overwhelmingly powerful way, send them a creatively packaged present, after we chat, so that they could hold how much I value, respect and appreciate them, within the palm of their hands.

Perhaps loving via gifts, is less of a gift itself… I don’t know. I am a tortured, writer soul, i am no expert. What I do know is that Christmas is around the corner and so many of us go above and beyond (heart wise, time wise, stress wise, and financially) and it isn’t healthy. This season that we are approaching is the most depression filled, suicidal season within the average calendar year. While there are many factors at play here- finances and the expectations around our capabilities concerning our money/spending/gifts/travel are huge. It doesn’t have to be that way. I have something coming, that can help… If you aren’t on my email list- sign up to stay in the loop because next Friday a few great things are happening. Relevant and timely things… (Just keep in mind, I’m not Oprah!)

Back to that Octagon Christmas… While I remember the amazement I felt, discovering what the package was- I couldn’t begin to recall which Barbie’s they were. I can’t tell you anything else I unwrapped, that year. I have literally zero recollection of what Santa brought Christmas morning. I am forty-three years old, and do you know what I DO remember? The beauty and the magic of that gift. The mystery, and the weeks of wondering, which led me to absolute joy.

The moral of this story: The JOY is in the giving. (the second, somewhat deeper moral: If there’s no joy in the process- it’s not right and you need to stop.)