Saturday, August 24, 2019

Finding Things

This morning, I cried.

I looked at one of the final boxes that I had not unpacked after moving to Rhode Island a year ago, and something caught my eye.  I almost dismissed the need to open it thinking it was just some of this and that.

Well, I couldn't be more wrong.

In that box, it was filled with memories and precious things.

Things like reminders of the good work I have done in the world that I buried under my self-esteem, my forgetting due to shame.  I also found artifacts from my darling daughter's early years.  Things like mementos from her first birthday and other babyhood treasures.

I also found my missing Christmas ornaments. I thought that they were lost forever, and with them, some of my herstory.

I cried and cried.

Last holiday season, as Lila and I began our tradition of decorating our tree in our new home for the first time, I couldn't find my precious ornaments.  My heart deflated and sadness filled it back up.

I love my things.  I know it isn't very zen of me but my things have stories attached to them. And, I only keep things that have good stories.  Like my red velvet chair that I have moved countless times.  It reminds me of when I arrived in Portland, Oregon in the fall of 1995.  Starting one of the biggest adventures of my adult life.  It was one of the first pieces of furniture I purchased for myself. Like my $20 paper Ikea lamp that I purchased on a shopping trip with my friend, Carla. She is my favorite travel companion and one of the most generous souls I know. It is with me here in Providence.  Like the butterfly ceramic cup that my longtime friend, Dottie, gave to me during our last visit in Pennsylvania a few months ago. I have known her since 1987 and we remain friends.  The sculpture I picked up in Baltimore, Maryland when I went to visit Lesley, a friend who is no longer in my life due to some unspoken hurt. But I have that art that I look at everyday and I am reminded of that visit in 2007, when life was really shitty but that visit brought me joy.

The list goes on and on.

We are warned not to be attached to our material things but mine are filled with love and I wouldn't change it for the world. It is my history and reminds me to a certain degree of my belonging, especially when I feel lonely, forgotten, invisible.

I quickly sent a text to my darling daughter about the find and she is thrilled, too.  In four months, we will stand by our second tree since moving to Rhode Island and decorate it with our history.  I know that there will be moments of tears because of some much that is behind us but there will also be joy because we are together making a new history.

This is a lesson for me. A lesson that the impossible can certainly be possible, which is something that I will always need reminding, especially during times of transition.  What I love about that is, it is like a little treasure of goodness that can fill a room with hope.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, August 23, 2019


Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big fan of personal development.  I pretty much only read that genre and have at least one box full of notes from all the books I have read over the years.

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash
One thing that has come to mind, is the you-can-have-anything-you-want-as-long-as-you-visualize-it approach that comes up in many of the recommended approaches to it.  What really gets me is when I hear, "Well, Oprah did it. So can you."


What do you think the chances are that the world will have another Oprah?

Don't get me wrong: I am not a personal development naysayer.  I live to read the next new book that might teach me another approach to pursuing my dreams.  Some of my favorites are The Success Principles, Girl Wash Your Face, and Create A Life Worth Living - just to name a few.

I think what is missing out there are guides written by women over 40 for women over 40. I'll tell you, it is a different world out there for us babes who have been around the sun four decades plus. I went looking - using the Google search bar - for a 'the female version of Anthony Robbins' and that is how I discovered Rachel Holllis' podcast. I have learned about all kinds of resources and women making things happen.  I've been listening to it everyday as I take my walk and want to catch up to current day episodes.  I love what she is offering - so much wisdom. I encourage you to check it out.

Dreaming of big, audacious goals is a must.  It isn't like someone is going to come up to you in the mall and say, 'Hey! We are looking for a new talk show host on ABC.  Are you interested?'.  You have to figure out your dreams and then do some work to get there.  But my point is, how realistic and helpful is it to even think about the likelihood of hitting the out-of-the-ballpark kind of life experiences you dream about? How do you navigate disappointment and keep moving forward?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Let's Make Lemonade

One of my favorite summertime drinks is lemonade.  You take something that is awfully sour and turn it into something sweet.  You can even jazz it up with some ingredients like lavender or liquor.  What a beautifully versatile drink.

I think lemonade and life have a lot in common:  You can change it up depending on what you add to it or keep it just as it is.  I am the type of gal who likes to mix it up, I've come to learn.  But with anything out of the familiar, it is a risk, and risk-taking can provide some big wins or big losses.

When I was younger, I wasn't as cautious about a lot of things.  I think that is the case for many of us.  We learn to be fearful as we grow older and I lost my optimism and throw-caution-to-the-wind attitude over the years.  Many people who know me would gasp at such a reflection but I struggled for many years trying to regain an inner sense of my can-do attitude.  

It took a lot of work over a period of time, but I got my groove back.  It is how I moved across the country to a city I've never been to; how I followed my passion to produce a podcast about the arts and find some funding to help support it; it is how I committed to writing a book for women over 40 who think the world can go eff itself for thinking it can pretend we don't exist or matter.  

One of my always present intentions is to make choices that make me proud but also my daughter proud.  A lesson or nugget of wisdom I hope to share with her is to dream big and go for it.

Over the past year or so, I have made it a point to welcome failure as one of the realities to embrace.  No one I know likes that "F" word.  With baby steps, I have been pausing to look at what didn't work and find the wisdom I can carry forward from the experience. And it is due to that shift in perspective that has led me to pursue something I have wanted to do for eons but lacked the confidence to do it: launch my own business!

After years in the nonprofit sector, I've learned a thing or two, and the knowledge applies in any part of the country.  I am taking my two decades plus of across-the-board experience and offering it to organizations who want to raise the bar on getting their message out into the world.  All nonprofits want to do that but lack the capacity to do it.  My role is focusing support for those who lack the resources.

More to come later!  I have a plethora of skills that came out of success and failure.  I remind myself that we have to fail in order to learn.

I'm failing my way to happiness.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Follow the Joy

Somewhere buried under the rubble of invisibility and expectation, lies your true self. The person who is kind and generous; the curious person who loves to explore; the powerful person of conviction and integrity. Your transformation is tied into circumstances or circumstances come into being because you are growing and changing. There lies a mighty question mark: Are you feeling empowered to follow your inner compass of exploration and pushing out the sides of the box society seems to shove you into when given a chance? I made a decision about how to reclaim my power with regards to my professional identity. It feels like a thirst has been quenched! I know so much but remain aware of very little. So much to discover. So much to learn. I know I'm strong and capable - just as you are. Just looking at my life over the past year reminds me of fantastic life experiences and I know it's far from over.

As you contemplate your next steps, I encourage you to look back at your life successes and your lessons learned before you take your next step forward. Now I'm not suggesting to be so  lost in your history because that will keep you stuck in the muck, but understanding your blessings and your lessons will help you make wiser choices as you move forward.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed with not knowing which path to take and as I grow older, society has dismissed me to a certain degree as either ineffective or uninteresting.  I am determined to set that record straight and I hope you will join me in acknowledging our worth and contributions.

In this process of my reflection on ‘what’s next?’, part of me feels like a failure for starting over yet again.  But then I feel invigorated with an opportunity to explore a new adventure.  On one hand, I feel energized by new options but then some weak voice will murmur something to put me in my place.

I admit it can be kind of exhausting to keep your head above the waterline of doubt and not knowing where to turn when the newsfeed is horrific on a daily basis.  But what I do know is that joy is an antidote for disconnection and fear.

If you are swimming in self-doubt, anxiety, or uncertainty spend a little time with yourself and just ‘be’. Then do something that causes your heart to go pitter-patter.  This past weekend, I was feeling the fear and took a spontaneous solo day trip to a nearby park and it replenished my spirits.  I could have made a choice to stay home and do a host of chores but instead, I chose to do something exciting and joyful. It shifted my whole perspective for the day.  Try it.  You might like it.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Boosters or Busters

I just finished reading the book - Brave, Not Perfect - and the timing was perfect (as all gifts from the Universe typically are, yes?). I was thinking about my self-confidence over the past few weeks as I transition into my next Big Adventure (more on that in another future post).

I had recent conversations with two people who I happen to be very close with.  In the first chat, I was sharing how confident I was feeling of late around my leadership skills.  I don't recall the particular details of what I was expressing, admittedly, but what I do remember was the person I was talking said something to the effect, 'well, don't forget about your bossy behavior.' If you have been reading my blog, you might recall some feelings I have about the "B-word" via my little rant about being called a bossy cow.

Needless to say, I was pissed off by that comment.

Later, in another conversation, I was sharing my insights about another set of skills that I am good at and I was told, 'you sure know how to brag'.

What gives? Is it not possible for a woman to be confident and vocal about her abilities?  I mean, I've never heard a guy called 'bossy' and I hear plenty of them telling the world - and anyone who is willing to listen- how good they are at...everything.

I am proud that I moved cross country, uncertain of what lay in waiting; I feel mighty good about taking last night's a baking class AND without taking a friend in tow; I feel good about letting my sparkle shine on my head (my natural hair color is now bright white).

These are just some of my recent accomplishments that I feel really good about.

I also have noticed for a very long time, the rarity of people giving each other public shout outs on social media.  I practice 'amplification' of women's accomplishments on Facebook and LinkedIn as often as I can.  Wouldn't it be something if more people did that?  I mean, what would the harm be?  There are plenty posts about complaining.  What if we posted a compliment instead? Okay, will it fix all the problems in the world? Not exactly. It is based in kindness and being kind can go a long way. But if you can rally to the occasion, the least you can do is not say something hurtful.  Deal?

And, if I happen to pass by you in conversation and you are sharing some insights about your talents, please be sure to put your hand out ... so I can give you a high five.


Monday, August 5, 2019

Where's My Spin?

A reflection on release and abundance is where I am at today. Those seem, or feel, totally not connected, but I do get it. This is a new way of looking at the start of a new experience and it occurs to me, this is kind of a start of a new year for myself. They say, you always need to prime a well to start the pump. So, I am going to focus on an inflow of positive energy to prime my personal pump. I've decided that when I hear the murmurs of fear, I will talk to it with loving-kindness. They say that works! 

As I reflect on this time of change, one thing it provides is an opportunity to explore. That is my word for the year, you know. I will be a willow tree in these new winds of change - flexible and graceful.

Now, releasing the ways that are familiar to me is very scary and quite uncomfortable. You know what I am talking about, right? Regardless of how useful it may or may not be, not holding onto a bad habit is a true test of strength of your spirit. How can I be a true blue explorer and not be stopped in my tracks due to fear?

I think about how magnificent it would be to live in Paris, but then I think about it and know it would be lonely, namely, because of the language barrier and cultural differences. I think about this as a reminder that nothing is absolute perfection, but the joy that is aligned with exploration is a fine reason to take a few leaps of faith here and there. Nothing is guaranteed on this journey called life, so why not take some chances.

I'm trying to release a long-lived learned habit of assuming the absolute worst is bound to happen (someone called it catastrophizing) and it's an interesting way to live. Not. I suppose the reasoning is, it likely couldn't be that bad, but if it is, I'm prepared and not disappointed with the outcome. Isn't that crazy?  Instead, what if I spent the next few weeks imagining the best possible outcome and relearning to live with a saturation of optimism? What if I use my brain and my heart to imagine the best of outcomes and if the actual outcome is different, then I will embrace it with love, acceptance, and understanding before releasing it. I encourage you to also give it a go and let me know your tricks to letting go and letting in, okay?

I know this reads a whole lot of woo-woo, but when you think of healthy options to transition, it kinda sounds good, doesn’t it? Or, I could just try a Wonder Woman spin.

via Gfycat

Friday, August 2, 2019

Out with the old....

“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” ― Michelle Obama, Becoming

Today is a big day for me.  It is my final day of employment with an organization I have been with for the past three years.  I have enjoyed my role there and I am sad to leave. I accomplished a lot in my work as a fundraiser and enjoyed spending time with my colleagues supporting their work in providing care to foster and adopted children.

Last August, I started telecommuting for the agency since I moved to Rhode Island from Oregon.  My heart is heavy and I am scared but I am also excited about what could be next for me, professionally.  Yesterday was August 1, my one year anniversary of leaving Portland to drive cross country with my dear friend, Liam. I recall that day of excitement, free pie from Village Inn (we went there for breakfast and they had leftovers from pie day - score!), and the open road. It was one heck of an adventure and an experience I will treasure for rest of my days.

Now I am facing another journey, another change - a welcome one but not without some anxiety.  I have some plans that I am not quite ready to reveal at this point, but stay tuned!  Right now I want to be present for the process, for this transition, of letting go.  

We live in a world that changes in a heartbeat and it is a challenge to just slow down and enjoy it.  We are bombarded by loss, struggle, fear, anxiety - just to name a few.  We bear witness to the struggles and heartbreak of others. Sometimes, it is just plain hard to be happy among the realities of the world.  I find it way easier to 'check out' with a few hours of binge watching Netflix or Hulu, but I have to admit, I don't feel a whole lot better afterwards.  

I decided to mark this transition as a significant one that I will honor.  Have you ever intentionally done something to honor a celebration or a loss?  Years ago, I purchased a book called The Women's Retreat Book: A Guide to Restoring, Rediscovering, and Reawakening Your True Self - in a Moment, an Hour, a Day, or a Weekend.  I highly recommend it to those of you who like to pause and reflect.  The activities I have used from the book have helped me with some major life changes.

I am blessed with people, near and far, who believe in me, like my daughter and my closest of friends. My heart swells with gratitude when someone shares kind regards with me. Thank you. This knowledge will help me move forward.

When I finish this final day for this particular experience, I am going to take care of myself and inhale the beauty that is my life. I encourage you to welcome opportunities to pause and just be.  It can make a world of difference, believe me, and get you just a little bit closer to happy. Aw, heck.  Go out an hug someone you love, too. It wouldn't hurt.