Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Keep Digging

Huh. I remember sitting here looking at this blinking cursor a few years ago, and not thinking twice. Typing like my life depended on it. Not stopping to over analyze. Not second guessing my motive. Not worried about the reaction the post might elicit. Not censoring or  sugar coating. Just knowing. Knowing I was supposed to be writing, supposed to be sharing, and following my soul's very loud instructions.

I miss that. I want that again. I want the walls down. I want the heart open vastness that living in your true naked power brings. And there is the key word, naked.

I have to allow the complete disrobing of myself. I have to say "fuck it" and just be me. Just speak my truth as I know it. And not just to allow it to be seen...but to live in it. To feel it truly and live it.

As year follows year I realize how very cyclical nature is. Our outer world, more obviously, but  our inner world just as potently, if not more. We don't get to see those inner cycles as easily. We have to attune to them, to feel them and recognize them, which takes time. We can look outside and see it's time for leaves to fall. But learning how to look inside to find that same knowledge takes continual practice.

On the outside, I don't seem to be someone who seems to worry much about "being me". I don't really consider myself one to be overly concerned about how I appear to others, or how they perceive me. I'm not easily embarrassed, nor very modest. I don't filter my photos or try to be someone I am not. And yet, there is a part of me, that lives in terror.

She lives in complete fear of being hurt. Of not being heard. Of not being enough. Of being over powered. Of being made fun of. Of failing. Of hurting others. Of making mistakes. Of being too loud. Of being wrong. Of rocking the boat. Of opening herself up.

I'm in a season of excavation. I believe we all go through these seasons, or cycles (see above :), and I think that may happen more for me then some because of my Scorpio-ness. The constant shedding and transformation. I think a lot of us shove it aside. We feel the nudge and discomfort. We know it's time to dig in and clean stuff out. But we also know that it ain't gonna be pretty, or easy, or feel good, and so we shush it. "Shhhhh" we tell that part of ourselves trying to heal and grow. "Not now, I don't want to."

I've realized during this most recent archaeological dig, that as much as I have grown, as much as I have become more aware of my thought processes and the way my body and mind react to one another, more aware of my tendencies to put up walls and stow away, there is still so much more to uncover. Or shall I say, those same places have much deeper and darker caves to be explored. So many split second decisions made, with out my conscious awareness, based on the conditioning and pain of my childhood that affect my relationships, my sense of self worth, and my ability to communicate. This conditioning that has directed my path thus far, has been based on fear mostly.

None of us leave childhood behind unscathed. Most of us know we "have baggage", but figure it's better left behind us where it happened. Why rehash? Why open old wounds? But how many of us take a magnifying glass to those old wounds? Invite them to tell their story? Look at the way those old owies are still showing up in our lives, and therefore, if a parent, the lives of our children? I believe this is our responsibility. This is an endeavor we must gather courage for and to see through, no matter how difficult. When it's time, you'll know.

That's where I am, friends. Peering closely at those boo boos and trying to really learn from them. To really heal them. To really forgive myself for decisions that I have made based on them. Trying to stay soft and open when all of my survival instincts are screaming for me to armor up and shut it down.

Shared, as always, will so much love. xo

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Time for Jr. High!

A letter to our kids (yours as well, if this applies), as we embark on this newest season. I wrote a version of this to my boy. It contained some additions, that were for his sweet eyes only. I hope my sharing this version can serve you and yours. We are living this life together, all of us. Whether I know you or not, you are part of my world, our world. Let us strive to serve one another and share our truths. Let us strive to raise young people into this world of OURS that lead with their hearts. Young people who treat themselves and the people around them with care and attention.

Time for Jr. High!

So here we are …Jr. High, and all the stuff that comes with it. All the changes. Your body and mind are being inundated with hormones, questions, challenging emotions… as are all of your classmates. There will be great days, and not so fun days as all of these changes take place. Friendships may fall to the wayside while new ones form. Studies actually show, that a very high percentage of Jr. High friendships are short term and/or don’t last through to high school. It’s happening to all of you though, what matters most is how you handle it.
Try to remember a few things for me as we tread these new waters…..
You always have us. Mom and Dad, and even brother. We are here to listen, to support, to guide and to enjoy one another. You can talk to us about ANYTHING. We will never judge you. We may not always have answers, sometimes situations just need to run their course, but we will always have your back.
You are a unique and beautiful person. Made exactly how God wanted you. Try to remember that when you are tempted to get down on yourself. God did not make us to be perfect. Not at all.
Use and sharpen your tools. These tools are NOT just for difficult times. They are life tools! They will serve you through out every stage. Breathing, meditation and prayer, journaling, paying attention to the way you talk to yourself and the way your thoughts are making you feel in your body (because you can change those thoughts to build you up rather than tear you down), exercise, time in nature, getting enough sleep and eating well. If you need help figuring out what tools to use, ask. If you are struggling, assess which tools you may be neglecting and kick it up a notch. You will notice a shift in a positive direction rather quickly. If you need additional support we can reach out for that too.
Remember to take risks. Nothing magical happens inside of your comfort zone. No growth or new learning. No new insight, nor adventure. You have to be willing to step out. Not every risk will pan out, or turn out how you hoped, but each one will always offer lessons and growth. You love learning, and taking risks is a great way to do that and to experience new things.
Lead with love and do your best. That does not mean you always have to “be nice” and get straight A’s.
That means, treat YOURSELF and the people you interact with, with love, respect and compassion. If they don’t treat you that way, give grace, maybe a second chance, because everyone is transitioning and people make mistakes, and then move on from them if they continue to act without care because you aren’t a doormat. Stand up for what you believe in, while understanding that others may not be on the same page.
 It means do your best by trying hard and giving yourself the appropriate amount of time and support. Trying to take your time and give things your attention. Practice to get more skilled, study to be sure you know the material, and give it your best shot.
Grow your gifts. Whatever those things are that light you up inside. That keep you wanting to learn more and always curious. The experiences that fill you up, bring you peace, make you feel more alive. Feed those, and share those. Keep us in the loop on what those things are so we can help you find opportunities to do them.
I think that covers it for now. I know these next couple of years will be filled with ups and downs. We will ride the waves together, as a family.
You are an amazing person, truly. We are blessed to be living this life with you. 
All my love, every second of every day,  Mom  

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Journey Continues

This post is a more detailed version of my OCD story, which I have shared previously. This post contains much more vivid recall of some of the intrusive thoughts that I've dealt with, in particular, those in the wheelhouse of HOCD and specifically those that came on after becoming a mom.

The journey continues....

It started when I was six years old. I constantly checked for my own heartbeat. I can’t tell you what I was thinking then, what obsessions were playing like a broken record in my mind. All I remember is feeling like I needed to make sure my heart was beating. I’d bring my shaky little hand to my chest and hold it there, waiting, eyes wide, until I was sure my heart was doing what it was supposed to, and I would continue living. I remember my mom saying, “Honey your heart is beating, you wouldn’t be breathing if it wasn’t”.

When I was about twelve I had to cough and flick my fingers. It’s like I was expelling the bad juju. I had to forcefully breathe it out and away. I can remember sitting in my living room, looking out the window coughing and flicking. I usually had to look outside when doing it, so I could direct the juju out there somewhere and not into whatever space I was in where it could be re-inhaled.

There were obsessions about the devil possessing me.

There were obsessions about being gay, when I was barely even old enough to know what that meant.

I would hold my breath around certain people that gave me weird vibes.

I avoided certain rooms in our house because they were cursed.

I’ve obsessed over my food being poisoned or contaminated.

There were times in which if I touched something with one hand, I had to touch it with the other, so I could feel balanced.

I've compulsively prayed. Over and over the same prayers from childhood. Not offering any solace, only making noise in my mind and giving me a moments reprieve from the fear.

I was somehow able to keep any outward compulsions mostly sequestered to home or in the car. I didn’t perform them at school or where anyone else, besides my family would see me. The majority of my compulsions were, and still are, mental, so most people would never know the way my own mind tormented me. They would never imagine the pure terror that coursed through my veins throughout most days. Besides being a little quirky, I probably seemed like a pretty average kid. Of course, my parents knew. My mom struggled with OCD herself growing up and knew right away what was happening with her little girl. She tried to find help, reaching out to the pediatrician, but in the 80’s there was not a lot of support for kids with OCD. The doctor gave me pills to help my anxious tummy and told me I was too young to be worrying so much.

I don’t remember having any real specific obsessions in high school. OCD, as I had known it, had taken a back seat. Anxiety and panic took the lead when I was about 16 years old. It came and went throughout high school, until one night when I was about 20. I was living with my boyfriend (now husband) at the time. We were in bed, when suddenly I had the most vivid thought of stabbing him through the chest. I broke out into a cold sweat. I shook with fear, and was terrified to move, because if I moved, I might move right on over to the kitchen to grab the knife. When I was able to get myself out of the bed I called my mom. I could always count on my mom. I told her what was happening. I don’t remember the details, but she talked me down somehow. Again, I was a master of disguise, completely composing my outward appearance. The man I lived with didn’t even know I was a soon to be ax murderer. Some months, or years later, I found a therapist.

I had been to therapy before that. Mostly talk therapy, for the anxiety, but had never seen an actual psychiatrist until somewhere around 23 years old. God, I can remember that appointment so well. I hold a special place in my heart for that doctor. I went into his office, sure he was going to tell me I was a threat to society, a sociopath killer about to be unleashed at any second. I knew I had to be honest and tell him everything. He made it easy. He had such a warm presence. When I was done spilling my guts and explaining how I was certain I was on the verge of completely losing my sanity, he looked at me with such compassion and certainty in his eyes. “You have OCD. A mild to moderate case. You are not crazy, and you are not dangerous.” Just thinking of it now, 2 decades later, still fills me with relief. It had a name. It was a real thing. The doctor had no question on the diagnosis. Of course, that didn’t leave me completely convinced, because OCD is the “doubting disease”. “What if he’s wrong? What if I’m the first case…the first one who actually does it, who acts out their obsession? Maybe he doesn’t see the whole picture and I’m really a dangerous killer?” He explained the way OCD works. He defined obsessions and compulsions for me. He explained treatment options. He emphatically insisted OCD was not who I was. In fact, very opposite of who I was at the core of my being. He told me that we would begin ERP and medication. He compared OCD to diabetes, saying just as a diabetic needs to take medication and care for themselves with diet and exercise, so would I. That with therapy, medication and self-care, I should find significant relief.

And I did. It took time. There was probably a year or so in which holding knives or cutting things panicked me. Many years in which I adamantly avoided the news and violent movies. But it got better, little by little. I plowed through, cut chicken even though it petrified me and, although it often sent me into a tail spin, even let myself be exposed to the terrible nightly news. For years following, I was nearly free of OCD. Or at least, when obsessions came, I was mostly able to recognize, relabel them, and refocus. I got married, had a career in banking and moved on. Then I got pregnant. At the time I was on Paxil, so immediately started weaning. I lasted almost the whole pregnancy. I began struggling again towards my last month (replaying past guilt inducing events over and over like a broken movie film in my mind) and the OBGYN started a very low dose of Zoloft. I had the baby, and post-partum OCD hit like a bullet train.

The first week or so home with the baby, I don’t necessarily recall intrusive thoughts, just intense consuming anxiety. I was not able to eat and constantly shaking. I was still able to care for him but looking back I’m not sure how I did.  It didn’t take long for OCD to pick a new obsession, and really it wasn’t new. The theme was the same thing I struggled against for years, now it just had a new target. The obsessions, of course, centered around my sweet new bundle of joy. More specifically, on throwing my precious baby against the wall and killing him. I have a vivid imagination which enables these types of intrusive thoughts to be very realistic and detailed. I saw every millisecond in slow motion. I’m leaning over my beautiful boy as he lay on his changing table looking up into my face. I go to pick him up, like I always do. Then, instead of holding him to my chest and kissing his head, I throw him, with all my strength, against the far wall. His arms and legs flail. He looks at me, wide eyed. His cry pierces my heart. I hear his head hit the hard-flat surface and see the blood on the light blue wall as his quiet body falls to the floor. My body would instantly be inundated with cortisol. My breath became shallow and sweat poured from me in sheets.

It’s difficult to remember this time with accuracy. I can’t recollect what behaviors I performed to counteract the intrusive thoughts, other than falling back into compulsive praying and reciting certain phrases in my mind on a loop ("it's alright, it's okay"). I remember some lovely moments of rocking him to sleep while singing to him. Looking into his angel face, nuzzling into his neck. I think it was just all mixed together. Pleasure and pain, moment to moment. But I was lucky in a sense. OCD was not new to me. Although I was completely overwhelmed and sickened by it, I knew what it was. I recognized this bully, even in its new mask.

 My trusty old therapist who began my OCD recovery was not available, but his office recommended another. I made an appointment and met another angel and we got to work. At this point I was a pissed off mamma bear. I was completely terrified, yes absolutely, but I was not going to let myself go down this pit. I was going to fight this with every ounce of my being, because now it was for my baby. I needed to be a strong and healthy mommy, and I knew that meant ERP. The new doctor and I got down to the nitty gritty immediately. I was habituating the obsessions by purposefully and vividly bringing on the images that filled me with panic. I was doing so many times each day. I was singing about killing my baby as I took my bath, letting the fear flood my body and the tears run down my face. As we strolled down the sidewalk on our daily walk I told myself out loud, today was the day, today I was going to kill him.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever EVER done.  And it worked. The obsession lost its power within a month or two. It no longer paralyzed me. The intrusive thoughts were not gone. They still popped in, but the fear associated with them, the worry that these thoughts meant something, was completely minimized.

That was 12 years ago. I stayed on Zoloft and continued to use “my tools” when things came up.
About 4 years ago I became a passionate yoga student. Followed by practicing meditation, then becoming a Reiki practitioner and teaching yoga. Almost a year ago I went off the medication, feeling I had the tools I needed to do this without the pills. I have grown so much since the beginning of my journey. I have learned breathing practices and mindfulness. I have delved into non-attachment, acceptance and the subtle energy body. I have essential oils and herbal remedies……

And…..several months ago I reintroduced Zoloft. I have grown, and I do have amazing tools and beautiful practices that have opened a whole new way of seeing the world and the people living in it…and I STILL HAVE OCD. My old friend, harm obsessions, came back to remind me of that. Gosh, I swear, you’d think OCD would come up with some new material after decades. It’s sneaky though. Even if the theme of the thoughts is the same (harming a loved one) the specifics will be slightly different. Just enough to create the rise of panic OCD feeds off of. Different enough to enable the worry that this thought is different, therefore a new manifestation of the truly hidden desire to kill those closest to me. Tricky tricky.  I habituated these old but new obsessions immediately. I, mostly, stole their thunder. I felt like sh*@ while doing it, but I did it anyway. And it gifted me with the opportunity to reexamine my self-care, and my beliefs. It allowed me to practice giving myself grace that I would not have otherwise known was lacking.

Grace because...when I began feeling like maybe it was best to go back to having the medication as part of my self-care potpourri, I struggled. I overthought it. I analyzed and investigated. I pro-ed and con-ed it to death. I reread vast amounts of information on OCD, what causes it and what treatments are most successful. Of course, this in itself was compulsive.

Ultimately, I was feeling beaten. I was looking at this as a failed attempt to live without the support that medication brings. I was taking the easy way out. I was blocking my path to enlightenment by adding this substance back into my body, into my life. I was admitting defeat, admitting that I didn’t have the mental or spiritual strength to do the work, to walk the path I’ve been given.

Oh, how we beat ourselves up. How we talk down to ourselves. How we twist our own reality. We sometimes expect so much more out of ourselves then we do anyone else. If my friend were in the position I am in, I know what I’d say. I’d support them. I’d tell them “you are a warrior, not broken but completely perfect in your imperfection.” That taking medication does not make them weak. It does not block their truest potential but actually allows it and supports it. That caring for themselves the best that they can, whatever that means, is the right thing to do.

So, I’m taking own advice. I’ve reintroduced medication. I’m continuing with my yoga, Reiki and meditation practice. I’m absolutely using ERP, and mindfulness. I'm allowing for various paths and supports to continue healing. And I’m remembering….

I am a warrior. I am not broken but completely perfect in my imperfection. I am just as I was meant to be. OCD and all.

I share this story with hope in my heart, that it will serve someone. That my story will shed light on OCD, in its various forms, for those who are unfamiliar with the disorder. And mainly, for other sufferers. New moms who are being tormented by terrifying intrusive thoughts and all-consuming anxiety. New moms who are afraid they will hurt their babies. Who only want to be the best parent that they can be but are battling for their lives in secret. You are not alone. This pain, this fiend has a name. And it’s not yours. It’s OCD. There is help and there is hope. Don’t hide in shame. Come into the light. There are lots of us here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

What Do You Believe About Yourself?

As adults, we have had lots and lots of years to form our belief systems. We have so many, even core beliefs, that we are unaware of, and yet our beliefs act as our subconscious autopilot.

Most of our core beliefs are formed when we are children. Our family dynamic, our earliest friendships, our primary school experiences, and for some, trauma, are the instigators to our deeply held beliefs about the world around us, and especially about who we are.

As children we internalize what we see, believe what we are told, and begin assigning meaning to things as a result, including our own strengths and weaknesses. We begin to differentiate between what we believe is good or bad. We begin to decide what we find beautiful and what we see as ugly. What is appropriate and inappropriate. What is worthy and unworthy. We begin to label things and people based on these new beliefs. We begin to label ourselves too.

Our beliefs affect out behavior, our thoughts and our emotions. They dictate our decisions and our responses.

Beliefs can be empowering or they can be limiting. They can build us up and invoke positivity, or the can weigh heavy on your shoulders, making us feel incapable or broken. Beliefs can enable us to share acceptance and compassion, or they can demand we seclude and judge.

Have you ever taken any time to examine your beliefs?  I know that sounds daunting! I mean there are so many, so many. But as with everything, we can start small, start where we are, and just grow from there.

I find catching my own self talk, a good clue into some of my long held core beliefs about myself. We say things to ourselves all day long. When something doesn't go the way we want it to. When something goes smashingly! When we make a mistake. When we are stuck in traffic. When we yell at our kids. When we finish a project. When we walk by the homeless man on the way to lunch. All day, all the time, we are talking to ourselves. I talk to myself out loud often too... at my desk , in the car, but that's another story :)

Becoming aware of that automatic self talk can be a huge light onto your hiding beliefs. And once you shine the light on them, guess what?! You get to decide...is this belief TRUE? Just because I believe this does not mean it's accurate. Or, even if it were true at some previous point, is it still? Is this belief building me up and pointing my in a positive direction? Is it helping me to feel strong and feel worthy? Or is this belief making me see myself as weak or unlovable? Is this belief enabling connection with other people? Allowing me to see them and love them? Or is it pushing me to create distance and judgment?

We get to decide you guys. We get to choose what we want to believe about our world, ourselves and each other. Our beliefs can and will change, as we grow and change. Look at your should and always and never statements and hold them to the light. It's not easy peasy, especially the older we get, but it's work worth doing.

Especially now, with so much attention on mental health, and for good reason, opinions are flying around. Statistics being quoted. Our beliefs rearing their heads and hopefully allowing support of ourselves and others, but possibly building walls instead. Our hearts affect our minds, our minds affect our bodies, our souls are always true and round and round it goes.

And if I may be so bold.......

Believe that you are strong
Believe that you are healthy
Believe that you are beautiful
Believe that you are worthy of every good thing
Believe that you are needed
Believe that you are loved
Believe that you make a difference
Believe that we are all connected
Believe that you are compassionate
Believe that there is always hope

Friday, February 23, 2018

Light, Please

"Shine your light!" I say it often, to myself and to my kids. It's usually the last thing I say to them in the morning, after I love you, as they swing open the car doors to race to the school playground.

I consider it part of my life purpose, to shine my light, and to remind you to shine yours. Every light, just like every being, is completely unique. Your light is different then my light. Brighter, softer, a different color, serves a different purpose. Not better, but different. Your light offers something that mine doesn't, and I need to see what that is. Your light offers growth and truth for me, as mine does for you.

Light can be understood in many ways. Just look up light on dictionary.com and you'll find a page of various definitions, nouns, adjectives, verbs. As I speak of light, I refer to something along the lines of....

the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible

Now, I know I'm a bit of a logophile and find excitement in words, but I love this definition. Light makes things visible. Basically we help each other see by shining our lights. How cool is that? I think it's pretty magical.

What does shining your light mean? How do you do it? Is there a hidden switch somewhere that you were not aware of? Can every person shine their light? What if I don't wanna shine my light? What if I wanna keep my light to myself. I'm not even sure I have a light.

We all have a light. Everyone of us. It never ever dies. It may go dim. It may struggle to shine. It may scare you to let it be seen. Maybe it's a funky and fantastic tie dye rainbow swirl and you are convinced there is something wrong with it. There is not. Your light is perfect. If you aren't ready to shine your light, that's okay. At least allow yourself to recognize it. Acknowledge it's presence. The more you acquaint yourself with your light, the more likely you are to begin to share it.

When I think of shining my light, I consider the why. I think, although the meta purpose for all of us is to walk each other through this earthly plane, sharing personal truth and offering support... opening eyes to things that may have never been seen, I believe each of us has a smaller more intimate place in that big picture.

When I shine my light I am authentic. I am ME. I do not filter myself, nor diffuse myself. I allow my personal truth to be known. My human struggles and my soul's desires. I puke my guts into a blog post and share it with you. I do not play small, instead allowing myself to fill the space if it's supposed to. I, for that time, live in my power, knowing my power offers you power. It offers you an opportunity to see something you may not have seen before. Most importantly when I shine my light, it invites you to shine your light. Like one candle lighting another. I gently bend to you, flame burning, wax melting and offer you ignition.

Sometimes I shine my light by offering comfort. By holding space for another and allowing them to just be. Giving them time to connect with their own light, maybe long since forgotten, or becoming aware of what might be blocking their light from shining.

Other times I shine my light by being silly. By encouraging us to laugh at ourselves. By telling personal stories with cuss words, extreme hand gestures and award winning facial expressions. It's a thing.

So maybe take a minute today. Think about your light. Visualize it inside of you and surrounding you. See it's color. See it's breadth. Feel whatever feels it brings on. Then ponder on how you share it. What are you doing when it shines most true? Do more of that. We need you to help us see.


Monday, February 5, 2018

The Self-Care Mash Up - Pills to Savasana

Self Care. It's become a bit of a buzz word I guess, but seriously, I think it's worthy of the buzz. I imagine some of the responses when people hear self care mentioned probably go something like this....

"Oh geez, people, come on. Quit worrying so much about whoo whoo self care and just sack up already."

"Self care? Who has time for self care. I work, and have kids, and don't have enough hours in my day as it is. I'm lucky if I get the gym twice a week"

" Does wine count as self care?"

"I'm all about self care! Meditation, yoga, plant medicine and all natural EVERYTHING all the time!"

It can be tricky, finding a version of self care that works for you, and understanding that it can and will change.

Self-care can be defined as any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”

As with most things, I have found giving grace in this area is the key. Grace allows for balance. Because honestly, it's easy to get wrapped up in all or nothing thinking.

I've kind of always been one of those people who has friends in various circles. I find different points of view intriguing, and like to give and take. Sharing ideas, beliefs, ways of doing things that differ, that get you thinking and exploring, and then deciding which of those you can add into your potpourri, and hopefully offering something that someone else can add to theirs. I do believe we are all different for a blessed reason, and no one way is right for everyone.

I am a student and teacher of yoga. I meditate and share guided meditation with my yoga classes in most instances. I have been attuned to Reiki, share Reiki and have attuned others to Reiki. Being part of this circle of gorgeous souls, has taught me so very much. I have become open to parts of myself I really wasn't sure existed, and have grown in my capacity to give and receive love and compassion, and my ability to train my breath, thoughts and reactions exponentially.

I have found that some in this "circle" of wellness can be anti-western medicine at all costs, leaving it ostracized from their self care regimen. Medication may be considered poison and likely blocking you from reaching your fullest potential. Plants, breath, self inquiry and awareness, essential oils, juicing and supplements are IT. All you need to live a healthy, happy, authentic life.  I love all of those things, but do not believe they are the only way.

 I hold faith close to my heart and have a treasured relationship with God. The Creator loves us unconditionally, as we are and as we can be, and every single one of us has God's love. No matter your religion, no matter your sexual preference, no matter if you read the bible, the Torah , the Qu'ran or any sacred text at all. Even whether or not you believe in the One, God, Goddess, Great Spirit, etc. He/She/It believes in you.

I have found that some in the "circle" of spirituality can put so much emphasis on religion that they neglect to see the other beautiful options of self care available. So much fear of good versus evil, causes them to try to pray away their trouble, which is likely caused (in their minds) by sin or the devil. They are often afraid of "letting things in" or "letting their guard down", which unfortunately can be very limiting for your self care options.

I've done quite a bit of self study in terms of the science of the brain and mind, as well as mind body connection. I'm not a trained professional. I am not a doctor. I've been to see a few though (as have most of us), doctors for my physical health as well as my mental health. I've participated in therapy, and even took part in a study through John Hopkins on the role genetics plays in OCD.

I have found some in this "circle" of science find it hard to believe in anything without having experienced it themselves and/or cold hard facts. Alternative therapies aren't given much support, not often recommended and kind of looked as..."sure try it, it can't hurt, but don't expect it to actually work." Sometimes they want to throw medication at everything and that is scary.

I do see this changing, which I think is very exciting. I recognize that many more alternative therapies are being covered by health insurance companies, and offered in hospitals as supportive/in-tandem options. This very much plays into my potpourri theory.

As you read this please know, I am not trying to create a separation between these some and the rest. I believe with my whole heart that we are one. I am pointing these things out to say, not everyone (inside or outside of your circle) is going to support your self care plan, and that is absolutely okay. Doctors may recommend things that don't ring true for you. You can say no. Friends may not agree with your choices. That is their prerogative and it really doesn't matter.  The only one that needs to believe in your plan is you. That's were the potpourri comes in......

I recently posted something on Instagram about prayer. I described my prayer life, and the potpourri I have created, that serves me well. I look at self care the same way. I love potpourri you guys! I little bit of this and a little bit of that. Exactly what is right for you, and only you. I can often be overheard saying, "take it with a grain of salt'. What I mean by that is... read that book that everyone is recommending....try that class that your friend guarantees will make you feel great....learn the stuff. And as you do, listen to yourself. Take the parts of that book, or class, or whatever that work for you and leave what doesn't. You don't need 100% buy in all the time.

My self care potpourri changes occasionally, but the main ingredients usually stay pretty true. I shoot for balance in these areas, sometimes I achieve it, sometimes I don't. All about balance and grace y'all!

I allow western and eastern and alternative therapies and medications to work together for my mind and body (that has included an anti-anxiety med. in the past, and may again someday in the future because that works for me, and there is no shame in my game).

 I exercise mostly by staying active in things I enjoy doing like hiking with my family, yoga, and even sometimes working out (I don't really enjoy that last one very much, but as I get older I see the benefits and feel it is worthy of a place in my potpourri).

I am conscious about what I eat (most of the time). I enjoy food and like to keep it nourishing. I don't eat animals or dairy. I juice... sometimes.

I pray the way I want to (see the aforementioned IG post) and I meditate.

I write and take pictures, re purpose things and paint rocks with my boys to feed my creativity.

I allow myself to rock out to loud music and dance with the kids, and in my car, and whenever it feels like a good time.

I support others, through sharing yoga, Reiki and holding space, through volunteering at my kids school and by being there for my loved ones. You may not see that one as self care but I do. Giving to others is a beautiful and unique way to give to ourselves and fills a very special place. Again balance is key. Can't support others without supporting ourselves; can't pour from an empty vessel, all that jazz.

Maybe take a few minutes today to ponder your self care potpourri. Have you been allowing others' ideas and beliefs to limit what you allow yourself access to? Have you been stuck in the scenario of no time for me? Do you sometimes feel defeated before you even start? Remember, it doesn't have to be all or nothing guys. It doesn't have to be a perfect plan, and it doesn't have to be right for anyone but you.

Take care of you, whatever that means and however feels rights. You know best.

So much love.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Weight on Our Shoulders

This morning, is one of those mornings already. One of those mornings in which I feel the weight of responsibility heavy on my shoulders and tight in my chest. I'm weepy and stressed and I've been awake for an hour. Today is Wednesday. On Wednesday I don't go into the office. The boys have a short day at school, so I have about 4.5 hours of the morning to myself. I always intend to use this weekly allowance as "me time". Ya know, yoga, maybe a hike, or read a book in the sun, just some time for me to breathe and center. Because truly, a happy and healthy mamma, makes for a happier and healthier family. That happens about a third of the time.

We just wrapped up a several week break from school and work. This is our first week back to the regularly scheduled program. So this Wednesday, today, I have a list a mile long. Phone calls that need to be made, stores I need to go to so I can feed my people and my pets, some bills to pay, you know the drill. And you know what friends? It just feels like a lot.

I feel, this morning, like I am responsible for EVERYTHING. And I'm sharing this with you, because I know you've felt it too.

Grocery Shopping (which entails several stores because everyone needs something special) This is my least favorite chore of all chores. I may have mentioned that before.

Cleaning up the house


Scheduling appointments

Calling on accounts because we can't remember user names and passwords


Backing up technology

Giving the damn dogs their flee medicine


Pick up the kids

After school crossfit and homework




All the stufffffff


I want to shout....I can't do everything! I can't remember every one's everything!

Then as the shouting subsides, a little quieter I realize, ... I don't want to do it all.

And now, pours forth the real feels, the wordless and soundless and buried......I sometimes feel like I'm drowning in other peoples expectations of all that I am supposed to do and keep track of.....I'm sorry I am not always able to do it all.....I feel like a failure..... sometimes I want to hide away where no one can expect me to get things for them, know the answer to every question, remember every story and request, be the strong and positive cheerleader and make everything better. Tears. Anger. Why doesn't he help more? Why do I have to feel the weight of all of this? Why can't he see how much this all is? Guilt. Because how blessed I am to have this family and these things and money and a home and food. And how can I complain and bitch and moan while people an hour away are loosing homes and LIVES to natural disaster? Worry. Tension. Emotions battling for the most attention. Release.

Deep breaths now. Lots of deep slow breaths.

Forgiveness now. Because I am human. They are human.

Gratitude now. I am truly honored to be their mom, and happy to be his wife. Because we are alive. Because I get to think and feel these things and then choose a new way to think and feel.

Feeling more centered now. Grounding. Breathing. Oh breath, how I love thee.

Moving now. Away from the keyboard. Off to get dressed and get on with my day. With a little less weight on my shoulders and a bit more pep in my step. <3

Monday, September 11, 2017

There are Always Reminders

It began like most other weekend mornings. I tried to sleep in. The kids "tried" to be quiet. Around 8:30 I took off the black sleep mask and shuffled to the kitchen to make my coffee. That's what I do, and everyone knows not to ask too much of me until that warm cup of joe is in my hands and I've had a few sips. I had kicked the coffee habit a while ago. No coffee at all for about 6 months. I'm back to one cup in the morning, usually no more. But still, that one cup is like the light switch right? Sometimes, before I go to bed, I get excited thinking about how I am going to wake up and drink a cup of coffee. More on that sad state of affairs another day.

Anyway, got my wake up juice, and perched myself on the outside step, sun in my face, welcoming the day. The plan was to head to the beach. We usually spend at least one of the weekend days at the beach, the other normally ends up being chock full of chores. Whether it's playing on the dunes, or getting in the water, it is one of our favorite ways to spend time as a family. On our beach mornings there is usually a little bit of back and forth between the hubs and I as to when we should leave. He has an incessant need to be early for things. He likes to get up and go. Be there early, before everyone else gets there. Easier parking, less traffic, lots of day left by time we get home. Blah blah blah. I, on the other hand, am usually in no hurry. I like to cruise around the house, drink my coffee, pick up a little bit. I don't really care how many people are there or if we need to park a little bit away. I'm usually not in any race against the clock to get home either (laundry, vacuuming, and the dreaded grocery shopping are waiting for me there). There is also the fact that I like to wait until it's a bit warmed up, and he prefers it on the chillier side.

While he and I hammer out the itinerary, the boys are usually playing a video game together. Still in their jammies (well one is probably in his chonies and the other is usually naked - because he sleeps nude and on the average is only half dressed if we are lucky). We begin yelling down the hall "get your swim trunks on and grab an extra set of clothes" knowing very well that we will do this at least 4 more times before it happens.

Hubs starts packing up the surf board, the boogie board, the wetsuits, if we are bringing the dogs, all of their crap. I gather towels and a blanket. I grab snacks and drinks. Eventually the boys are ready, and we load up into the truck. At this point someone is beginning to get grumpy because of something. Now, one of the boys remembers they forgot something and has to go back into the house. Dad starts getting impatient, and the other boy is mocking his brother for always forgetting things. Now, everyone is in, buckled, and ready to ride. Tension may now be felt via the vibes.

This last weekend all of this went down just as usual, except there was some additional arguing. At this point, I honestly could not tell ya what it was that happened, but littlest dude was full of some major 'tude and in tears by time we got around the corner to the gas station and had announced he did NOT want to go to the dumb beach. I grabbed the worry stone husband keeps in his center console, along side the squeezy stress ball. I slowly and methodically started rubbing the shit outta that thing. I felt the lava building up to a boiling point and really did not want to spew something mean, or "turn this truck around" and go home, but was very close.

As I was sitting there, caressing the flat obsidian stone, trying to bring forth calm (imagine big furrow/crease in between my brows cause that is exactly what happens), a friend drove by. She didn't see me, but I saw her, and was instantly put-in-check. Just seconds prior my self talk consisted of "what the fuck?! This family can't just go have a nice day at the beach without arguing and fighting. Why can't we just be nice to one another? When will this end? I need a freaking break!"  I thanked my angles right then, the moment I saw her face through that windshield, knowing that seeing her was my reminder that this shit show was a blessing. I was lucky to have my pouty and sassy faced boys in the back of the truck and my, probably grumpy by now, husband who was pumping gas. Just because it's hard as hell sometimes, doesn't mean it's not worth every second of it. AND, it could all change, immediately and without warning.

My friend, the one that angles sent at that moment, lost her son about 5 years ago. Very suddenly he was gone from this world, from her world, gone. I worked with her at the time. I saw it all go down...her getting the phone call. I remember seeing the doodles she had been making on her notepad that lay on her desk, only moments before the call came in. Feeling the weight of her world imploding, leaving her and her family breathless, in unfathomable shock, reeling, reeling, reeling. I will never forget it.

When I saw her it was an instant wake up slap to the face. Was there anything in this world she would not give to have her boy back? Even with attitude, rolled eyes and frowny face. She would give anything and everything. Angels can backhand ya pretty hard when they need to. And messages can come instantaneously...

Stop focusing on the stuff that makes you feel UNgrateful

Stop perpetuating this negativity

Energy flows where your attention goes

Look behind you at those boys, love on them now, no matter what

They are learning from you Trisha. Learning how to be in this world. How to handle their frustrations and disappointments. How to express their feelings. Your reaction to situations like these mean everything.

People, even the ones you love, will not always behave the way you wish them to. You can only control the way you behave.

Calm promotes calm. Be the light. Be the example. Teach them.

The hubs got back into the car and gave his own little "let us start over and have a good day" speech. It was just what everyone needed to hear to push the reset button.

We made it to the beach. Littlest just wasn't into to it that day. My oldest totally was. So he and dad played in the ocean for an hour or more. The dogs ran and swam and got filthy. And my youngest and I chilled on the sand. He complained and pouted now and then. I grumbled about his attitude a couple of times...just cause I got the wake up slap doesn't mean I'm gonna be the perfect-grateful-calm mom all of the sudden, come on (insert eye roll here). I reminded him how lucky we are to live where we do. To get to be at the beach every week if we want to be. We talked about what is happening in Texas and Florida and how that scares him and how sad it is. It's so eye opening to just listen to their little hearts and the thoughts invading their minds sometimes. I would be a grumpy little shit too every now and then if I had all of that goin' on inside of me. Which we all do, ergo our occasional grown up tantrums.

The day wasn't extraordinary. It was typical. A usual Saturday for our little tribe. Well intentioned plans, some attitude and grumbling, some fun in the sun, gratitude re-found, new promises to self to and to each other. And the reminder. Ya'll know I love reminders <3

Thankful for my boys (big and small). For our imperfect family, that struggles and fights and comes back together to keep trying and to love fiercely. For the angles who don't give up on me and continue to offer guidance and reminders. For the good, the bad and the ugly.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School

Here we are, about to start another new school year. In just a few days, the boys will be waking up early, packing lunches and new backpacks, and heading to their new classrooms for the year. They are excited and a little nervous, just as I always was the days before the first day of school when I was young. I remember not being able to sleep. Laying in bed, looking at my first day of school outfit hanging on my closet door.

 I find it difficult to sleep these days leading up to the first day of school as well. I lay in bed once everyone gets to sleep and begin to think, wonder, visualize and pray. Not so much worry anymore, just pondering, and becoming clear on what I hope their time at school will be like. Things come to mind, that sometimes I jot down in one of the journals laying on my bedside table. Things that I want to make sure that they truly know.

So, to my boys, on this eve of our newest chapter....

You know once Mommy gets writing things just start pouring out. I'll try to keep this clear and not super long. I lay awake last night thinking of you both, seeing your faces in my mind's eye. Thinking about how much you have grown over the last year, about your individual gifts, about the areas that challenge you, and most of all, your sweet hearts.

First of all, the love that each of you holds in your hearts is tangible. You are both deep feelers. You both express those feelings in very different ways. But you both have soft, sweet hearts. As we get older, we begin to be challenged by numerous situations, some of which threaten to, little by little, harden our hearts.

We might be treated disrespectfully, or even cruelly,  by an unkind classmate. We might feel judged by others for what we wear, how we look or the things we enjoy. We might have a teacher who doesn't seem to understand us and may not offer the support that we need. We might really struggle in certain academic areas leaving us feeling like a failure. We might begin to feel pressure to act a certain way to fit in, even when it doesn't feel right inside. Oh my babies, growing up is not all ice cream sundaes. BUT, as we have agreed to in our family, we get to decide how to respond to every situation. We don't have to be swept away helplessly. We can choose to look at these situations that maybe hurt our hearts and make us sad or mad, and use them in our favor, and in the favor of others. These are opportunities to learn new things about ourselves and to become stronger, braver and more compassionate.

Let us not allow the difficult times to harden our hearts. Let us allow those times to open our minds and hearts to new ways of being an even brighter light in the world. Let us treat everyone kindly. Let us be good examples of God's love by being honest, caring and encouraging, with ourselves and with others.

You are worthy of respect, just as you give respect and real friendship. Do not accept "friendships" that feel disrespectful. Friends are there to build one another up. To enjoy time together and share interests. To encourage and support. If you have a "friend" who talks badly about you, or is unkind, they are not your friend. You are empowered to stick up for yourself, doing so calmly and with clarity.

Give everyone a chance. Smile at the new kids and ask them to join you on the playground. You know how hard it can be to feel like you are on the outside looking in. They may be afraid to talk to the other kids, maybe have no one to sit with at lunch. Let's help them feel included and welcomed. Even if there are other kids giving them the side eye, or passing judgment, cause that's just so not cool. You may never end up talking to the new kid again after a day or two, or they could end up being your new bff. You never know.

Enjoy being part of a team when the time is right. Working together with other people isn't always easy. Everyone has different ideas, personalities. and boundaries. That is exactly why it's important to do it. It gives us a chance to hear other peoples' ideas, and maybe think about things in a new way. It lets us be part of some give and take, some compromise. You guys are smart cookies, but you don't know everything. Allow yourself to see things from another point of view. There is no reason to fear other people's beliefs or ideas...your heart will always lead you back to truth, AND your truth might just expand to include some cool new stuff.

Give it your all. I know some school work can be boring. It can be hard, but hard is not bad. Hard stretches us, grows our perseverance and patience. You may want to do things differently than you are being made to do them. Share your ideas with the teacher if he/she asks. Ask questions, lots of them. There will be subjects that you really enjoy, that excite you and spark ideas....and there will be some that you just have to get through. But doing our best, no matter how much we really like the work, is an important lesson. Don't do things willy-nilly just to get by, AND don't expect perfection from yourself, because there is no such thing. Just do your best work. Again, your heart knows what that is. That little voice will speak to you if you listen. It'll tell ya whether or not you are giving it all you've got. Getting an education is a gift. This is only the tip of the iceberg. The world has so much to offer. There are so many adventures to be had. We are students throughout our lifetime, only a small portion of that learning actually happens in school. These school years will be a distant memory before you know it.

Talk to Mom and Dad about all of it. Don't be afraid to share with us. You will never be judged. You will always be accepted and forever and ever loved for exactly who you are. We will help guide you. We will correct you when it's needed. We will kick ya in the ass if you are wallowing or not living nearly to your potential. We will be honest with you. We will laugh and cry with you. We will hug you and love on you. We will advocate for you. We will do hard things with you. We will encourage you to take the risk, to climb the mountain, to push yourself enough.

Lastly, my little dudes, just be you! Be who you are, wear what you want to wear. Listen to the music you want to listen to. Like the stuff that you like, even if the other kids aren't into it. Remember that you are who you are for a very special reason. We need your unique gifts. You have tremendous things to offer this world just by being yourself.

Here's to a year filled with new experiences, growth, self discovery and fun <3

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Time to Stop Hiding

The stigma surrounding mental health is a such an enormous barrier in terms of healing. So many people are afraid to speak about their struggles. We don't want to be seen as weak. We don't want to be considered ill or broken, unstable or dangerous. We worry it will effect friendships and professional lives. We worry and we hide.

But there are so many of us you guys! Honestly, I don't know of a human being that does not combat demons, whether or not they are diagnosed with a mental illness. I mean, think about all of the people running around who are tormented and stay silent, never receive a diagnosis, never get treatment or support of any kind. That is heartbreaking to me.

Why do those who are challenged in a mental/emotional way, get treated differently then those challenged by a physical illness? Because we can't "see it", and we only believe what we can see? We have all seen someone with a mental illness that is noticeable in an outward manner. Usually homeless, wandering, talking to imaginary people, possibly acting out aggressively. Those people we know and believe are ill because we can see it. It more than likely makes us uncomfortable, and we probably avoid them.

Now, I've never really been one to care too much about what other people think of me. It's a double edged sword of course, but it does allow me to be honest and not beat around the bush. And yet, as I look back at my child self, I can recognize now, how at a very early age I learned to hide part of myself from the public at large, and build walls to protect myself from being found out and consequently hurt.

I started noticeably struggling with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. Without getting into all the medical and scientific "stuff" there are several types of OCD, one being that which runs in families, is passed down genetically. This type usually starts rearing it's head in childhood versus adolescence. I come from a long line of superstitious triple checkers. Cousins that couldn't pass buy certain bushes without touching them and uncles who made funny twitches with their mouth before they took a drink, cause they just had to. My mom had obsessions and compulsions as a child, and knew immediately what was happening when she noticed my first compulsion, which was feeling for my heartbeat to make sure it was still beating. Poor Mom, she knew the terror I felt inside. She tried to help, but there wasn't a lot of information on OCD 35 years ago. We all just thought we had a quirky family.

As I got older the obsessions and compulsions changed. I was always able to keep it mostly hidden at school or away from home. No one ever knew about the broken record that was incessantly playing in the background of my mind or the petrifying fear that would overtake my body by the visual obsessions that would flash through my thoughts uninvited and unwelcome. There were times when OCD wasn't even evident and I had a break in the action. I don't remember having too much of it in high school, but then traded the obsessions and compulsions for anxiety and panic attacks.

I tried talk therapy. I prayed. And finally in my early twenties, when the violent obsessions and panic attacks became so challenging, I saw my first real psychiatrist. Mind you, I was working and going to school... in retail management, and some college courses. No one suspected a thing. I lived with my boyfriend (now husband) and he knew I struggled with anxiety, that I sometimes got nervous or spacey, but had no real idea about what I was going through. My mom knew of course, I could always talk to her in detail about the scary thoughts and feelings and she always understood. But as terrifying as it all was, as much as it literally took my breath away, I was somehow able to maintain the facade. I was working and going to school. I didn't ever miss days due to "illness". I was dedicated in whatever I was doing and would not allow myself to "be weak".

I still remember my first appointment with Dr. Plesons, and still hold a tender place for him in my heart. He listened and asked questions. I thought for sure I was crazy and dangerous and he was going to tell me so. He was so kind, and so knowledgeable. He comforted me and shared with me about his own family. And he gave me the first official diagnosis of OCD. "It's a mild case" he said. "NO way!" I said...."there are people that have it worse then me?!" I immediately held such compassion in my heart for them. We discussed the genetics, the ways to talk back to it, and even challenge it, began ERP and I started taking medication. I saw Dr. Plesons for some time. I remember one time asking him "but WHY, why do I have these terrible thoughts, what if I actually do something really horrible one day?!" And so clearly recall the sweet look on his face, and his calm and confident response "I would trust you with my son in a heartbeat. OCD is not you. It is not who you are. It is the opposite of who you are, that is why it terrifies you to your core"

He eventually took a hiatus. Going on a sailing trip with his family, and I ventured out on my own. Throughout the years, I continued to take medication, read countless books and found another fabulous therapist. I obtained so many cognitive behavioral tools that I continue to use to this day, and even teach my own kids. I discontinued medication 10 years later when I became pregnant and resumed it after I had the baby, because the post partum hormones and a very vulnerable new baby who's life was purely in my hands, brought OCD and anxiety back with a punch to the gut. But it didn't last long. I faced it. I applied exposure therapy and made myself continue to fight. I had even more reason now to be strong and to be badass. I was not backing down or hiding in a corner afraid of the dark. I couldn't and I wouldn't. I even volunteered to become part of a study through John Hopkins University. I gave a blood sample, as did my parents. I did surveys. I gave what I could to the research because I believe knowledge is power and I want to be of service.

I'll be 42 this year. This has been part of my life for 36 of those years, on and off. When I was about 38 I began practicing yoga, meditating, and learning about Reiki, plant medicine and other alternative therapies. I have always been an avid learner, not always the best academic student, but always thirsty for knowledge and propelled to share what I learn to offer help and support to others. It took time for me to soften myself after years of holding a defensive posture. It took time to quiet myself after years of endless mind chatter. It took time to open myself after years of ceaseless fear. And I have found a new level of healing. It's a whole healing, not just a healing of the mind. It's amazing and magical. And I know, I will still find challenges along this path. It's not all unicorns and rainbows. I don't ever count out the possibility of medication or therapy as a support again, and I, to this day still utilize self directed exposure therapy when things come up. But I live in today as much as possible, not in yesterday and not in tomorrow, so I will take it as it comes. I know I don't struggle alone, nor do I struggle as badly as many. I strongly believe OCD has been part of my life experience for a reason. I don't hate it, even though there have been so many times (years worth) that I have wished it away. I am not ashamed of it, and will not hide from it, or from you. I now use this part of who I am to support others in healing. It is the most beautiful gift.

You guys know by now, I am a believer in sharing, and letting it all hang out. I don't want to hide things about my human experience that could support or encourage you, even if it is scary for me to share. I want you to know you are not alone. You are not broken (even it you feel that way). It is never ever hopeless. It's okay to come out of the shadows. I know you think you are the only one, that no one could really understand, and probably that there is something "wrong" with you. There is nothing wrong with you. You are exactly who you are supposed to be. There are people who can help, and there are people who love you. It doesn't matter what the ones that don't think or perceive. They are seeing you through their eyes, and their dream. No matter what you do, that is the case. There will always be people who judge. People will give you opinions, even if you don't ask for them (take medication, don't take medication, talk to someone, therapists are just quacks, try acupuncture, don't waste your time...you get the picture). You have to discover what works for you. YOU are the only YOU there is. Completely unique from any other person. Their experience is not yours. My experience is not yours. There will likely be several ways to support yourself, some conventional, some alternative, or who knows, maybe you'll come up with one of your own. Find your mental wellness.

Be who you are, because I know in my heart, we are all who we are for a reason. We need each other's healing. We need each other's contribution. I need you to be the gift that you are meant to be. I know it's terrifying...AND I know you can do hard and scary things.

With abundant love

Monday, May 22, 2017


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Making a Promise to Not Forget

We too often forget. We forget that this earthly life is fleeting. That our days here our not promised. We forget that when it's time to move on to the next life, we will go, whether or not we, or our loved ones, are ready. It can happen with no warning. At any moment this version of ourselves can end.

We too often forget. As we live life, day to day. Going to work, getting kids off to school, going grocery shopping, running errands. We rush in and out, from one place to the next. We assume, that tomorrow will come. That we have time, to make time, for the stuff the matters but never seems to make the tip top of this list. Like the talk you keep meaning to have with your spouse when the time is right. Like how you promised the kids you would play with them after you were finished with the very important project. There is the visit you keep putting off to your parents' house. The dreams that keep getting pushed to the back burner until you can carve out quality time for them, until things settle down. Like the book you've secretly been dreaming of writing or the volunteer work at the hospital you've been hoping to begin.

We too often forget that time is an illusion.

We too often forget to listen to out heart's desires instead of our ego's.

We too often forget to cherish the present moment and all of its blessings. So busy planning ahead or looking behind with regret.

We too often forget the impact our lives have on others and how much we mean to some.

We too often forget that the individual gifts that are bestowed upon us purposeful and meant to be shared.

Something always happens to remind us. Usually several times at different stages of life. Often completely unexpected and tragic. It knocks us back leaving us stunned, heartbroken, and very confused. It causes us to question things...our beliefs, our priorities, our way of living. It reminds us. It wakes us up. It pulls back the veil.

For a while we live there; raw and vulnerable. Knowing what matters. Reminded of how precious this life is. We commit to ourselves to heed the warning this time. We tell ourselves something like..." from this day forward I will live with purpose and gratitude. I will not take anything for granted. Not time, not people, not the air I breathe nor the water I drink."

It lasts a while. and then things settle.Life starts pulling you in again. Into all the worldly issues. Into the plans and responsibilities. Into the schedules and commitments. You find yourself less awake, beginning to forget again. The feeling, the fire, not as strong.

We have recently had one of these reminders. Our little community just lost two beautiful young mothers in a terrible car accident. Families have been left behind, in shock and heartache that I can not imagine. It takes my breath away to think of how they must be feeling. It's an unbelievable loss that has rocked our small town. One of them was a friend. She was spunky and kind and strong. She meant a lot to a lot of people, and her absence will definitely leave this realm much less sparkly. Although she is physically gone from our world, what she was about will remain. Her "go get 'em" attitude, her silliness, her love, her essence will stay with us all.

I always tell me kids not to make a promise that they can not keep. Promises are binding and heartfelt. Neither of them make promises lightly, nor do I.

Right now I am promising, to myself, and you, that I WILL NOT FORGET. I will do the work that needs to be done to stay awake and conscious. I will feed my soul, mind and body with the food that nourishes it at its highest level. I will be a light, a reminder, a source. I will live with purpose and with love, leading the way.

This is not an empty promise. I am not naive enough to believe that this promise will be easy to keep. I know life will pull at me. I know distractions will wrestle for center stage. I know there will be hurdles, pain, and stress.

But there will also be this promise. Pulling me back each time. Back to my center and purpose. Back to what matters in this short life.

If you are so inclined to make any sort of similar promise to yourself, and you are ready to really mean it, do it now. Do it, and live it, and be certain that you are powerful enough to make it happen. And know, that I am here to support and encourage you too keep those eyes and hearts open. This life is meant to be an unfolding. An opportunity for spiritual growth. It's not always easy or comfortable. But it IS always glorious!!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Love, Light and Panic Attacks

So here we are in 2017. Today is day 7 of the new year. General consensus seems to be 2016 sucked hard, and most are hoping and praying for a better 2017. I would agree that last year had it's challenges and disappointments (some of us here in the US ended November with a zinger, President Trump). That was a tough one to swallow. In my usual fashion, I also look back to parts of the year that were kind of amazing. Reflect over lessons learned, ideas brought to fruition, the growth and health of my self and my boys.

I can honestly say for me, I think the last few weeks of 2016 and this first week of 2017 have been the most difficult. Although the holidays brought lovely family time, especially some wonderful days with my Dad who I hadn't seen in a few years, it also brought chaos. The usual holiday hustle and bustle, but something more as well. Our winter here in California has been really cold and wet. I know, that sounds fricken' ridiculous to those of you living places where it is under 50 degrees and covered in snow. I don't know how you guys do it! You are like some kind of super humans. I am struggling hard with the lack of sunlight, being indoors all time, and being constantly bundled in sweater and blankets. How badly I long for the warmth and light of the sun.

I had someone very close to me struggling for a while, mentally. Something that had been working it's way to the surface for a while that chose the week before Christmas to show it's face. Not great timing on the surface huh? But gotta have faith that the timing is always right. Being there for her wasn't hard, it was second nature, but I guess, it did effect me, as now I seem to be struggling a bit as well.

The kids have been home from school for going on three weeks. I love my babies to teeny tiny pieces. Spending time with them is a gift. AND, it's flippin' not easy either. The said weather is keeping us cooped up and a bit stir crazy. Our usual beach trips and hikes have not been happening. It's been a lot more electronics, board games (that too often end in arguments), and 2 young boys needing to get their willies out, which turns into fighting and whining over in here. Not gonna lie and say it's been dreamy and cozy people. It has had it's moments, even days, and it's also been stressful and stifling.

So I've been trying to get my head above the clouds here. Trying to get in the flow. I've been wanting to meditate on 2017, and my hopes and dreams for the new year. I've been wanting to talk with the boys about what they are hoping to become in this next 365. I've got the books out, the journal out, crystals, oils, incense. I've jotted down things here and there. Not resolutions, not promises...wishes and intentions. Knowing things will start moving forward next week as we get back into the swing of "regular life" (school, work, schedules).

I haven't been stressed or unhappy, just a little heavy I guess. Not so much my light and love, glitter and rainbows version. Then a couple of nights ago, I woke in the night to a full blown panic attack. Now, it's been yeeearrs since I've had one of these babies. Like maybe a decade or so. And yet, as it flooded over me, it was like it had been no time at all.

The fire rose from my belly up through my chest, and then through my arms. My legs went fuzzy like they were asleep. I was sweating but clammy. My head was swimming, my breath rapid an shallow. I was petrified. The terrifying thoughts started banging around in my head like grenades going off. "Am I going crazy? Am I loosing control? Am I dangerous?" I sat up in bed and looked through the darkness. I knew what this was, but why?! Why, after so long had I allowed this to happen? All of these years of recovery, of healing, of therapy. Years of learning to breathe through it, to refocus, to live in the moment. What the fuck? I thought I was stronger than this. Healthier than this. More full of light than this. How could this happen? Of course, this wasn't my fault. It wasn't due to a lack of trying, and lack of light, a lack of health, nor a lack of strength.

I breathed slowly, deeply and well. Filling my belly, then up behind my ribs, then my chest. I got a drink of water. Started visualizing the healing light filling my body, oh.... and then I got up and took a pill. I still have a stash of anxiety medication. Something I usually dig out of the back of the medicine cabinet for when a friend is in need. This time, it was for me. I was disappointed and scared. "Shit, is this the beginning of daily panic attacks and anxiety?" I lived that for years, and don't want to go back. Found a part of myself feeling defeated for going to the medication. Like I was giving up and taking the easy way out.

I cuddled up next to the hubs. And I fell asleep. It didn't last long, maybe 15 minutes. The next morning I woke up, still concerned. Not knowing why it happened, where it came form, what it meant for today. The few days that followed, there were fleeting moments of a feeling. Like a physical buzz accompanied by fear, that told me it was still in  my system, but I breathed right through those and reminded myself about who I was, my strength and wellness. Then I started to look at the situation again, differently. Although I knew there was some worry inside of me, I decided to reflect on the stuff that I did that worked. The choices I made that were healthy and right when the panic attack came. Although it's called a panic attack, I didn't panic. My body did. I felt the anxiety and fear flow through me, turning my belly inside out. But I did not allow my mind to panic. I focused and yet somehow I relaxed my mind. I breathed and visualized. I used the medication that was there for a purpose, even after all of those years. I did  everything I could do. I didn't let it take me by the hair and run me through the fire. I stayed grounded as much as possible.

I'm not certain why I had that panic attack. I suppose, even after all of the healing I've done, I have to make room for the fact that it can and will still happen. My physiology has this knack for fight or flight, for no real reason, at inappropriate times. And, anxiety doesn't always need a source or a trigger. It can just happen. It's tricky that way. I am a sensitive being (like so many of you reading this are). I feel things and absorb things, and yet, don't always consciously even realize it. That energy, good or not so good, builds up inside when I am not flowing creatively, or getting out into nature enough, it effects me. Apparently, it was time for a panic attack and the reminders and lessons that it brought.

So why tell everyone that I started the year with a yucky panic attack? Why not pretend it's all good, 2017 is here, and I am taking it by the whatevers and making shit happen? Well, I will be doing that, but it started with a little something else. And I share this with you, for a couple of reasons. One, mental health stigma has GOT TO STOP. We are all living in this fractured world together, most of us doing our best to contribute good things. There is no doubt in my mind, that every single person walking this planet struggles. Mentally, physically, spiritually. Some of us struggle in silence. Afraid of what others will think of us. Afraid of being seen as weak, or weird, broken, or ill...mentally ill. It's like a bad word that needs to be whispered. Some people reach out for help, for therapy, for medication, biofeedback, acupuncture, Reiki, whatever, but they don't share that either. They don't want people to think they are weak, or weird, broken, or ill. It's okay to have some sort of physical ailment, because people around you can see that. They can see your pain, and understand your burden. When it's in your mind, or even in your body (like so many autoimmune diseases) and can't been seen with the human eyes, the problem is looked at as something made up or over exaggerated.

I am here to say, I have been challenged in this life by anxiety disorders. I am not weak, not broken, not ill....maybe I am technically mentally ill. But I don't feel ill. And maybe a little weird, but that isn't because of anxiety. That is because I find weird beautiful :) I have been to therapy, have taken medication, have taken advantage of alternative therapies. They have all worked, and supported me in their own ways, at their own times. I am a Reiki practitioner and holder of space. I am honored to encourage others on the journey to wellness if they are called to utilize me for that purpose. Even those of us that are helping fellow beings through their struggle, are challenged ourselves. We are ALL challenged.

And, as it should be. We grow through the mud. We become strong and beautiful while breaking through the chrysalis. We are meant to learn it the hard way. We are meant to HEAL, to journey through brokenness and pain, to find faith and wholeness, strength and oneness. We are meant to hold our arms open for one another. To make it through our own hard times and then say to the one next to us...."We all have tough times. I'm sorry it hurts. I am here for you. YOU ARE NOT ALONE."

So here we are in 2017. I'll be busy this year, spreading bunches of love and light, glitter and healing energy, and maybe having a panic attack or two. And I want you to know, you are not alone.You are necessary. You are perfect. You are loved.


Happy New Year.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Ebb and Flow

It keeps coming up for me. I am continually reminded lately how much of this dance of life is going along with the ebb AND the flow. We know about "going with the flow" right?  We know if we mean to be chill, to not stress, to just take it as it comes, we are gonna go with the flow. Going with the flow is kind of easy, like coasting on a bike. You don't have to do much, just put your arms out, lay back, take a breath and let the flow take you.

For some people, going with the flow is torture. Giving up control is the hardest part. They want to direct the flow. Letting it take them for a ride is very very scary. Where will it lead? They can't just willy nilly go with that flow. How do they know that flow is the right one for them? They could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. They have a plan, and said flow is not part of it.

A few years ago I would have found it difficult. I was beginning to realize control wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but letting go was still really tough. I definitely used to have a plan, or at least would get one together in a jiffy if need be, before I went flowin' anywhere. Thinking back to that version of me, I can actually feel my physical body tighten up. I can feel my breath become shallow. My neck and jaw stiffen. I was rigid and fearful, even though I never would have thought so at the time.

 Anyway back to the ebb and flow stuff. Ebb is defined as 1. The reflux of the tide toward the sea; the flowing back of the tide as the water returns to the sea. 2. A point or condition of decline; a flowing backward or away; a decline or decay.  So the ebb is probably seen as the not so fun and easy part of this whole deal right? Unless you have been practicing, you likely don't just "go with the ebb." The flow might be a little fast or windy, but the ebb is gonna pull you down. It's gonna yank you into the deep.

So why would we want to go with the ebb? Shouldn't we be avoiding the ebb at all costs? The control freaks are like..."okay okay, the flow isn't so bad...I can do the flow..just don't make me face the ebb!" And I use that term in jest, as I was one for a huge part of my life.

I've been in the ebb the last couple of months. Neither the ebb or the flow are necessarily swift. So how do I know I've been in the ebb? I haven't been flowing forward. My creative juices have been kind of still. I've been a little low (partially to blame on a cold gloomy winter when I am a totally solar powered sun worshiper). I've haven't been feeding myself the good stuff consistently. Meaning I haven't been practicing yoga or meditating daily. I haven't been spending enough time in nature. I haven't been creating. I have just kind of been living and sporadically caring for myself.

And as I begin to reach toward the shore now, coming closer to a point of flow, although not quite there yet, I can try to appreciate the ebb. I mean, I don't know that we are meant to be in the flow all the time. We are able to see the goodness in the flow, because we have experienced it's opposite. And, we have to be reminded now and then. Once we are more aware, and able to actually distinguish where we are, we can use that place for it's intended purpose, I can look at that definition of ebb and see some good stuff in it. Flowing backward isn't ideal, but maybe there are some things we need to look at before we continue to move forward. Decay and/or decline doesn't sound fun at all, but maybe there is something that needs to die in order for something new to grow in it's place. Maybe we need to have these times, these ebbs, so that when the tide comes in again, full of life and strength and beauty, we can be ready.

I look forward to the next flow. I feel it gearing up. I am excited to get in there and let it take me for a ride. I will celebrate my time in the flow. I won't take it for granted. I will move forward, and create, and heal, and grow. And when the ebb starts to reach for me again, I will go willingly knowing it too has it's purpose.