Saturday, December 29, 2012

resolution

As the year winds down, and a new year peeks over the horizon, I can't help but think about what the coming year will bring to me. And what it will require of me.

I don't really make new year's resolutions; or at least I don't call them that. But as I reflect on my hopes and dreams for the next 12 months, I usually find my thoughts centering on a few themes from year to year. That often leads me to a word or phrase that becomes my touchstone for the next year. Something to remind me of the path I chose when I get lost, something to bolster my spirits when I feel low. Over the years my words and phrases have been things like "leap" "heal" and "no room for fear."

As 2013 comes along, I find that this year is no different. When I started thinking about what my word might be, it came to me clear and bright like the stars on a crystal clear night.

Resolve.

My own personal reminder to be determined, be deliberate, be strong and steady. To stick to my guns, stand up for myself. To not allow others to harass or intimidate me. 

What are your plans for the new year? Any hopes and dreams on the horizon?

Friday, August 3, 2012

frolicking friend friday

I have had a rough week. Work is stressful right now. There are things in my personal life causing me stress and distress too, so I've spent 3 out of the last 5 nights with serious insomnia. Then, one of my best friends stopped by at lunch today. And reminded me how much I need my friends when I'm struggling. Just spending a little time chatting and enjoying each others company was all I needed to boost my spirits, remind me to try to look for the positive in what I'm facing, and then relax and have some fun too!

After lunch, I spent the afternoon playing with other friends and family - laughing on the phone with E-man and goofing off with dog park buddies. As the day went on, I could feel myself unwinding even more.

Yes, frolicking friend friday was exactly what I needed!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

coffee boys

I’m lucky to have the flexibility to work from home a couple days a week. It’s so nice to not have to worry about how long my commute will be, knowing my pets don’t have to stay inside or outside for the entire day in whatever elements the Pacific Northwest is showing us this week, and have more time to get a run in, have lunch with one of my besties, and still catch a few extra minutes of sleep.

It’s not all sunshine and daisies though. My work is in communications, and I am by nature a social person. I live alone, so spending more time in my home can be a little isolating. At first, I found myself procrastinating more, and I was stumped as to why I was being less productive with more time on my hands, and then I realized three things:

  1. I really do function better with a cup of coffee in the morning, which is tied to the discovery that I also make terrible coffee. It’s much better when I leave it to the experts.

  2. It’s easier to start crossing things off my list after I’ve gotten ready for the day. If I log in and start working while I’m still in my PJ’s my energy never kicks in.

  3. I need a little social interaction with other people at least sometime during the day.

And that brings me to my mornings with the coffee boys. I changed up my morning routine on my work at home days by making sure I take time for a shower and breakfast before my day begins, and then start my day at a coffee shop close by. I work for an hour or so while savoring my cup o’ joe. Wham! All three things are checked off to help my day start out productive.

Over the last few months, as I’ve settled into this routine, I’ve noticed a few guys who are usually at the coffee shop at the same time. I'm pretty sure they work in construction. There's usually just two of them, but occasionally a third joins them, always at  the table smack dab in the middle of the shop.  They’re about my age, a couple of solid, manly guys. You can also tell they’ve been friends longer than many marriages last. They laugh easily and it’s easy to smile at the way they joke around with each other.

As the weeks go by, we've started joking around with each other, with the staff, and with the other regular group that's there, "the grandpas." It's fun and lighthearted, and I really look forward to my mornings with the coffee boys. They notice and comment if I miss a day because of a meeting in Portland, or if one of us is missing for a week of vacation. Starting the morning with my friends is becoming my favorite part of working from home.

Except for Tank Top Tuesdays... those are just awesome from start to finish!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

fill 'er up



I've noticed a common thread in my conversations with friends and loved ones in the last week or so - trust. It still strikes me a little funny that they all think the single girl is good for relationship advice, but, hey, I'll give it a shot.

The truth is I've struggled quite a bit with trusting men after being cheated on in past relationships. So, I'm not quick to let my guard down and make myself vulnerable to being hurt. But just because someone in my past hurt me doesn't mean the next guy will. I have to remind myself of that sometimes in order to give a new relationship a chance. While still listening to my intuition, of course!

Some people treat trust like it's a thing. Not me. In my world, trust is a verb. It is an action, a choice I make each and every day. When it's been broken, the choice is harder. In fact, in my experience, it's pretty much the end of the relationship. When your partner doesn't trust you, can you really move past that? Can you fully love someone who doesn't believe in you? I can't. Feeling my partner's support and trust is vital to me in order to feel loved. I would almost say that trust is one of the best ways a man can show me he loves me, because then I know I'm getting to see the real person, the vulnerable and lovable man.

The only flaw in the car analogy above is that cars only have one gas tank. Relationships have two trust tanks, one for you and one for them. You're either filling up the gas tanks of your relationship with trust, or you're siphoning it out. You give trust to your loved one in your actions and words all day every day. You can add gas to the tank of trust by honoring your loved one's freedom, individuality, friendship, and time. And you can take gas out of the tank with every undeserved, jealous or insecure question or comment about how they spend their time or peek at their email or phone, and other invasions of privacy.
Some people believe jealousy is a sign of love. Real love involves trust and communication, not accusations and snooping. Signs you have a problem with jealousy include:
-- Calling your partner multiple times to check up
-- Becoming overly upset when your partner is unavailable
-- Feeling compelled to track your partner's every minute of time
-- Feeling tempted to flirt with others just to "show" a supposedly cheating partner
-- Interpreting a partner's fatigue, illness, or distraction as a sign that you are not loved
-- Compulsions to snoop into a partner's e-mail, cell phone records or other private communications

source

The tricky thing about trust is that it's totally up to you. You choose how much trust to put in your relationship's gas tank. I'm not saying you should place trust in a tank that has a big ol' leak and doesn't deserve it. Some guys (or girls) aren't ever going to be worthy of your trust, and you should walk away. Just remember you both have a gas tank to fill. You can fill his up by trusting him, but if he's not filling yours and trusting you, you still aren't getting anywhere.

I plan on going places with my full tanks of gas! Fill 'er up!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

silver and gold

On a brisk fall day, in 1983, two young girls started 7th grade and joined the band. Who would have predicted that 29 years later, those two would still be friends (and band nerds at heart)? How do you know when someone walks into your life that they will forever change you, and will be a defining factor in who you become?

Thank you, my dearest friend for always being a friend. I simply cannot imagine what my world would be like if I hadn't known you. You bring sunshine to the people in your life, and your optimism and love is contagious. I admire the strength and grace with which you face your days.

And yesterday, when I heard your voice, strong and clear, knowing you were once again breathing the air that can only be found in Northwest, my troubled heart was happy. Happy to hear you sounding strong, setting down new roots and standing up tall for yourself. And when you helped me see the silver lining in the dark clouds that came at me this week, I couldn't help but cherish my best friend even more. And now, I'm looking forward to the end of the storm!

On this day, I'd like to propose a toast to our friendship. There's a song we used to sing in Girls Scouts that says, "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." Shauna, you are gold.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

friendsday

There is something about sharing a meal with friends that makes my heart sing. Sitting together, reconnecting, sharing the ups and downs of the last few weeks, feeling listened to, gaining perspective from another point of view and sharing my thoughts with them.

I had such a meal today. With a friend I don't see as often as I'd like. Their situation is complicated and they aren't able to spend time with me, or any friends, like they used to.

So when we get a few golden moments and can actually share the same space for a time, it's extra special these days. And as I sit and reflect on my day...I can hear my heart singing a little tune. It might be Wednesday to the rest of the world, but to me it's friendsday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

monday motivation - love

The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional. The truth is this: love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love.
  Stephen Kendrick

What is unconditional love? Love given freely, without demand. It is kindness, compassion, honesty, loyalty. Unwavering in its truth, unconditional love doesn't fade. It's not infatuation or romance. It's so much simpler, and so much more meaningful. It can be shared among family, friends, even strangers.

My life is full of unconditional love. For the friends and family who choose to love me unconditionally, I am grateful beyond words. And I choose to love you back, regardless of circumstance or distance. In the quiet of your heart, my friend, know that you are forever loved.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

say when

"Say when." My brother was pouring me a glass of Kool-aid.



"Ok, that's enough. You can stop now." I said.

And then my glass over flowed and I got ticked!

"But you didn't say 'when'!" He explained, after I screamed at him as only a little sister can do.

In other words, I didn't use the magic combination of words that would actually make him stop pouring. I said I had enough. He could stop. I gave all the clues that my glass was full enough. But I failed to use the one that actually meant stop to him.

Yes, it was a trick we played on each other as children, and we'd probably still do it today. But I can't help but wonder if that's how some people live their lives as adults. Have some people never outgrown this childish behavior? If you didn't say it just the way I wanted you to, you didn't really mean it, so I can keep bugging you? So, if you ask them to stop interfering in your life, and they continue even after you ask them to leave you alone, what's the magic word? Hopefully there's a kinder, gentler one than "restraining order."

So I'm putting it out there - for those who've been trying to complicate my life and my relationships lately. Stop. I've had enough. When.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

single is not a disease

Being single is not a disease. There aren't any symptoms. I get irritated with those who assume that single = unhappy. Being attached does not necessarily make someone happy. They aren't related. I’ve learned that having a happy and full life is about me, knowing myself inside and out, and making choices that are good for me emotionally. I have to do that whether I am single or attached.

Why do people act as if there is something wrong with being single. Like there’s no possible way you can live life without a boyfriend, so I must go out and find one now. Really? So when we go to happy hour and you spend the whole time complaining about how your boyfriend or husband was

a) acting jealous
b) doesn’t trust you when you spend time with your friends
c) spent money he shouldn’t have
d) possibly or actually cheated on you
e) accused you of cheating on him
f) doesn’t like your family
g) acted pissy because you wanted to watch a different show
h) got mad because you didn’t clean up after him
i) criticized your choice of wardrobe/job/home d├ęcor/spending habits…

are those the signs of a happy and fulfilled life? That’s what I’m missing out on? I’m not missing much, in my opinion.

I know. Not all guys are like that. Not all relationships are energy drains. I have friends who are in happy and healthy relationships, full of respect and love for each other, who communicate with each other and both compromise when needed. I admire them, and they are the benchmark for the type of relationship I want. That benchmark is the reason I hold out for a good man and don’t settle.

And in the meantime, I’m just going to keep on being happy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

mulligan?

Hey.

I was sleeping soundly when I heard it, the sound of a text coming in. It was late, who could be texting me at this hour? I groggily reached over and grabbed my phone. Opening one eye, I tried to focus on the screen. Maybe I should have grabbed my glasses too. Then everything came into focus at once, and my heart lurched. There it was, three little letters, “Hey” From him.

I don’t often end relationships badly. By the time I break up with someone, we’re usually able to stay friends, or at least friendly. Not this guy. He said horrible things to me as he was tearing me down, accusing me of things I didn’t do, and walking away. I still remember trying to reason with him, to explain that he misunderstood my actions, begging him to hear my explanation, and his response, “No way, I hate you.”

If there was a relationship I could use a mulligan on, it’s him. How I’ve wanted for so long to prove to him that I wasn’t the person he accused me of being. How I wanted to show him what he meant to me, to pull him close and make everything all right. But that bridge was burned, I knew he hated me, he said it so clearly, and I wasn’t going to change his mind. So I let him go. Eventually I moved on. But when he crosses my mind, it’s always with a twinge of regret and bittersweet memories. Very few have ever reached that deep into my soul.

So there it was, a simple “hey.” A door open, just a crack. And my mind went off in a million directions at once. Quick, do a happy dance! Should I play it cool or ask him what the hell he wants? Do I ignore him entirely? Why now, after all this time? Is he okay? Will there be a spark when I see him? Does he even want to see me? How will I ever know what made him reach out to me now? For crying out loud answer the damn text already!

After considerable thought, I responded the only possible way I could to such a message. I said, “Hey, what’s up?” Yup. I totally showed him. Literary genius, that’s me.

It worked. The door opened a little more. We started talking. I don’t know that it’ll go anywhere, but at least the anger and hatred is gone. He said he couldn’t hate me. He knows I was honest. We both apologized for our bad behavior that led to the fight that ended any chance we had. Forgiveness feels good.

No promises have been offered. No plans made. But the door is open. That’s enough for today. My heart is a little lighter.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a different brand of crazy

A few weeks ago, I met a new guy. He seemed great. Cute, liked to dance, maybe a little rusty at this game of dating, sweet, and best of all – he really liked me! It’s been a long time since a man called me beautiful and doted on me. Those first moments were blissful and exciting!

And as the days went on, the shiny wore off, like cheap silver plate. As he shared more of himself with me, he held nothing back. He laid all his baggage at my feet, the good and the bad. While a part of me can appreciate his utter honesty about the life he’s led, I prefer to learn those things about someone over time. I was a bit overwhelmed, but since none of the things I’d learned were deal breakers by themselves, I decided to push on and write it off to his enthusiasm for a budding relationship.

Under the shiny exterior, as I started learning more about him, I caught glimpses of the yellow and red flags that would eventually light my way to the exit. I know I’m picky about dating guys. My friends tease me about how fast I can spot a fatal flaw in a relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve held bets on how long it would take me to find it with some of the guys I’ve dated. I wonder what the odds are in Vegas on that?

I honestly wasn’t looking for the fatal flaws. I never do. But there are deal breakers for me in relationships, and when I spot one, I’m not going to waste my time or his. I’m a “rip the band aid off fast” girl. Life is short, and I’m not spending one more minute being miserable than I have to.

So when he started displaying signs of controlling and insecure behavior, the red lights started flashing. Asking me to cancel plans with a friend in order to meet his friends is a big no no in my book. And shortly after, the insecure, needy texts – Where are you? Did you get my text? Why aren’t you answering? Did I say something to offend you? I really like you, why aren’t you answering me? I don’t know why you aren’t answering – maybe my texts aren’t coming through?

No kidding. One night. All those texts and more. I’m not even sure how many phone calls there were because after the first three texts came within an hour or two, I shut my phone off and went to the movies. By myself. Best date night ever. The next morning I broke up with him. I knew that if he needed constant contact, reassurance and control over my time, I’d quickly feel smothered and resentful. No matter how much I like someone, I still need to be me in a relationship.

I know none of us are confident in ourselves 100% of the time. We all have insecure moments. But at least I can recognize my insecurity rising and have learned how to handle those moments without derailing my relationships. I’d say that I wish other people would figure that out as well, but then I wouldn’t get to write blogs about my crazy dating life. Remember the clam chowder incident? Oh, I’ll tell you about it sometime...

Monday, June 4, 2012

happy birthday

Today is Rochelle's birthday. Once upon a time it was one of my favorite days of the year. Now it's a bittersweet day full of tears and just the memories of celebrations past.



In 2009, on the first of Rochelle's birthdays after she passed away, Shauna and I had a virtual best friends date across the miles. We picked a movie that was a little lighthearted, and one that Rochelle would have wanted to see (My Life in Ruins). Then, at approximately the same time - our time zones are two hours apart - we went to the movie. Since mine was the later start, as soon as I got out of the theater, I called Shauna. We laughed, we cried, and then we cried some more. It was a day of survival, more than celebration. Our grief was still too fresh during that year of firsts to feel much of anything but pain that day.

The next year, feeling a little stronger, I had started running, and in honor of my best friend, I ran the 5K Starlight run on her birthday. The Starlight run is a race along the parade route right before the nighttime parade that is one of the signature events of Portland's Rose Festival. Back in 1986, Rochelle, Shauna, and I were all part of the marching band and we'd come to Portland and performed in that parade. I wore a birthday cake tiara, shorts honoring my high school alma mater and professing my band nerd status, and a shirt honoring Rochelle as well. After the run, we watched some of the parade then went out to eat and drink with some of my closest friends and my mom. It was a good way to celebrate Rochelle that year!



Last year was a quieter, more subdued celebration. I was in California, not far from where Rochelle lived until she was 8 or so. My nephew's birthday is the day before Rochelle's, so I was celebrating with him. For his day, we had a lot of cupcakes and a party at a gymnastics center. The next day, Rochelle's birthday, we went to see the Giants game and spent some time in San Francisco. It was a fun day, and spending time with my brother and family was wonderful. I think Rochelle would have been happy to see that day.

This year has been rough on me emotionally, with new grief coming my way and relationship challenges with various people in my life. My support team has also shrunk a little. One of my best friends, someone who has been a part of my life for years, isn't able to be there for me this time around. So that sucks. For Rochelle's birthday, I don't have anything in particular planned. Well that's not entirely true. I have a bag of orange slices (her favorite candy) and ice cream. I have copies of Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias, Top Gun, and Beaches (some of our favorite movies). I have a playlist set up with the songs of our friendship (everything from ABBA to Madonna to Enya). Anyone want to join me for a sentimental movie fest and sugar high? Bonus points if you can sing every song of the soundtracks to those movies. I hate to sing alone.

Happy birthday my dear friend Rochelle. I miss you more than I can ever say. You will always be my very best friend.

Monday, May 28, 2012

monday motivation - memorial

All gave some. Some gave all. For those who gave their lives for our freedom, thank you.

About 21 years ago, I stood in Arlington cemetery with my family watching the guard change at the tomb of the unknown soldier. It's breathtaking and you should see it for yourself if you can.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a few thoughts on writing this blog

Sometimes I wonder who is reading the words I write – I know a couple of you, but not many. I'm always surprised when I look at the stat counter and see how many people have read different posts. I really haven’t told many of my friends and family about this blog. I know that seems counterproductive to growing readership, but so far I think it’s for the best. I haven't hidden it, but I haven't gone out on a self-promotion campaign either.

Someone told me the other day that I am wise. And they weren’t being sarcastic. The best part is that this someone is new in my life. It’s not someone who knows firsthand the heartache I’ve lived with, the pain that’s made me who I am. It’s sweet and flattering to know that he appreciates my perspective on life. And it’s reaffirming to know that my stories have touched someone else’s heart, that the lessons I’ve learned are helpful for someone else.

In general, I’ve found it easier not being aware of who is reading – because I don’t feel the pressure to edit or censor myself. I want to allow myself to be completely honest. I know my own self well enough to know I’d choose different words or filter my stories if I knew certain friends or family members were reading this. I also know that those closest to me would be supportive, they’d comment and encourage and be my cheerleaders, but they do that no matter what I do. I do try not to be disrespectful to those who could someday read my words and recognize themselves here, but my goal is for this blog to reach people who need it. I’m writing from my heart, and I hope it touches yours. Whether you’re someone I already know or not – I’m glad you are here, and I hope you say hi!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

and now for something totally different: wordsmithing

Today I was having a conversation with a coworker about how amazing we both are at our jobs. Well, sort of. It was a meeting of the mutual admiration society. A "gosh you're so smart to know how to do that" and a "well look at how well you did with that beasty project last week" kind of meeting. We're very similar in personality and communication style, and I'm sure it's because we're both Sagittarius, so when we start bantering like this, we usually end up laughing till someone cries. It's also these moments when we often come up with new phrases and buzzwords that should win awards. That is, if there were was such a thing as buzzword awards. What would they be called? A Buzzy?

Whatever. I think the new term we came up with today would totally win a Buzzy.

The topic turned to procrastination. And how sometimes when I put off starting a project, it actually saves my bacon because the project either gets canceled or changes in such a way that I'd have to start over anyway. It doesn't always happen, or else I'd never do anything. Besides, while I pride myself on doing my work efficiently so that I don't have to re-do anything, I also am very proactive and anticipate what my clients will need/want.

But the word procrastination has such a negative tone to it. It's one of those things that I see as a flaw in myself. It's not something I'm proud of. But when my procrastination saves me from extra work and stress, I think "Booya! I totally knew there was a reason I wasn't starting that yet!" So when procrastination is effective, there should be a better word for it, right? Well there is now.

Delayed productivity.

My kitchen remodel has been through a few periods of delayed productivity while I was in decision making, research, and get some cash saved up mode. But as each little project gets done, my kitchen is slowly shaping up and I'm glad I didn't rush in and do the first thing I'd thought of for this space, because this version of it is so much more ME. And I needed that delay, that time of simmering on the back burner before I could start the next project to plan, consider my options, research, shop for bargains and allow space for inspiration to breathe.

I may never procrastinate again. I'll be too busy delaying my productivity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

by and by

After spending a couple hours with a close friend a few evenings ago, I left for home feeling more content and peaceful than I had in days. I'd had a rough couple of days and my heart was feeling a little torn up, so it was comforting to just sit and be with my friend for a little while.  Back at home, as I was settling in for the night, I put on one of my favorite albums and it wasn't long before my favorite song came up to the plate. As I nodded off with these words in the background, I couldn't help but think of how true this is for our friendship. And for that I am ever thankful.

By and By

~Brett Dennen

Listen close, as close as I am to you
like the bell of liberty I'll ring a sound that's true
days go by and seasons too
in time our love may digress with the words we can renew

I tell you that I
I love you by and by
I don't know if I'd survive
without a friend like you in my life

and I know words can be the worst to purvey
how it is I feel for you it's hard for me to say
but if we keep it simple I think it's better that way
tangled words tend to lead my messages astray

I tell you that I
I love you by and by
and I don't know if I'd survive
without a friend like you in my life

this web we weave holds us hand in hand
and if we loosen our grips we may weaken these strands
so let us reinforce our love and let it echo through the land
if we don't we may find ourselves washed up with the sand

I tell you that I
I love you by and by
and I don't know if I'd survive
without a friend like you in my life

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

unconditional love

Today, I can't help but think about the one who loves me like no one else ever will. There is never any judgment in his eyes. He is always happy to see me, he sits with me when I need a snuggle, and he is goofy when I want a giggle. He'll do just about anything to make me smile. He is simply the best thing that has ever happened to me. He's the reason I had to put a child proof lock on the fridge and I don't even have children. He's insanely smart and stubborn and I love him more than life sometimes.



I'm taking my boy Porter in for a surgery he shouldn't have to have. A month ago, I took him in to have two tumors/growths removed. One on his eye, and the other on his right shoulder. There was an error, and they took off a growth on his left shoulder instead. I'm a little nervous about putting him under anesthesia again, since he's an old boy now. But they've assured me he is healthy and strong enough, and there is still that weird tumor on his right shoulder, so here we go.

UPDATE - Mr. Porter is home. It was a rough night though. He wasn't eating or drinking, and is moving pretty slow. He's eaten breakfast now, so that's good, but I feel so bad for the poor baby.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

triumph

A few days ago, I read this post. Apparently, it was just what I needed at the time too. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, trying to figure out why I'm feeling "stuck" again in this path through grief so I can do something about it. I tend to get insomnia when I'm stressed or working through a tough spot, and my sleep pattern has been completely shot lately.

When Holly died last fall, I knew it was ripping open the wounds that had started to heal over Rochelle's passing. It sucked. There's no way of sugar coating it. I wasn't just grieving one loss, I was re-grieving an older one at the same time. Even when you understand grief, when you've walked this road, and you know what to expect, it can still send you for a spin.

As I read Jennifer's story and insights, I had a few new insights myself. Perhaps that was all I needed, a little sample of someone else's perspective, to help me realize fully that I have more grief work ahead of me and I'd better get to it if I want my life to keep moving in the direction I've chosen. Not that I haven't been doing any, but in some respects I have been trying to just move on instead of moving through. And it's those things that I need to pay attention to.

Since the day I read this, something has shifted. I'm feeling a little raw, a little sensitive, and at the same time hopeful and grateful. Spending time with a dear friend yesterday helped tremendously. A little laughter, serious discussions, tears and some hugs, and I slept like a dream last night. Thank you Tammy - you are just as amazing and strong as you think I am. Here's to many more years of cookie butter and smiles!

Monday, April 30, 2012

monday motivation - remarkability



I found out the other day that someone I admire and respect has been talking about me behind my back. In a good way.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

an exotic evening

I had a chance to see an advance screening of a new movie last night. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. A most excellent movie. Amazingly full of the stuff of life. Go see it. I can't even pick a favorite character - the casting was spot-on, and each person's story was a brilliant part of the symphony. Just go see it. I'm no movie critic - but this is funny and sad and serious and sweet all at once.

And it's full of little quote gems, like "It will all be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end." And, "I'm single by choice, just not my choice."

p.s. Judy Densch's character was my favorite. I think.







Thursday, April 19, 2012

Intuition


It seems to come out of nowhere. The sinking feeling in my stomach. My worst fears  come to life. There is no hiding from the truth this time. No avoiding it. This is really happening. This moment that I’ve dreaded for months. And yet, as the pounding in my head starts and my stomach knots up, I also realize that I am not really surprised. At some level, I knew this was coming. I was waiting for this moment. My intuition was right again. (Damnit!)

I know I should listen to my intuition. It’s never been wrong. At least not about the big things. Sure, I might have an “intuition” about whether my favorite football team will be undefeated this year or not and I could be right or wrong about that. But when my intuition really speaks to me, it doesn’t lie. No matter what it is – life, death or love.

Too often, the things my intuition tells me aren’t things I want to hear. I don’t want to know that my friend is ill, that death and grief will soon be part of my life again. I don’t want to know that my friend or lover has betrayed me. I want to hide my head in the sand, pretend everything is okay, avoid the pain that this moment of truth will bring me. Because it will be painful – it will hurt. It will take time to heal, it will paralyze me, it will force me to change somehow.

And yet, sometimes, my intuition tells me good things. Hopeful things. When I realize that this person I just met is going to be a wonderfully significant addition to my life, and could change me in ways I can’t even imagine yet. The knowledge that a lifelong dream may be on the verge of coming true is powerful stuff. It’s still scary and gut wrenching and sometimes a little paralyzing, but in a good way.

How do you know when to listen to your intuition? How can you tell when it’s just your own fears and hopes and you’re over-projecting them to avoid acknowledging the truth about a situation? Just trying to stay in denial a little longer? I certainly don’t have the answers. I do know that I am braver about listening to that voice inside when it’s telling me good news instead of bad. However, I also know that my intuition has a good track record of being right about the bad news.

Maybe intuition is my heart and soul’s disaster warning system? Danger ahead! Prepare for evacuation or battle! Will you run for the hills or stand up and fight?

Several years ago, my best friend Shauna was coming home for a visit. She’d just announced her pregnancy so we were throwing a shower for her while she was home, because we knew we wouldn’t see her again until after the baby was born. She got a call from her doctor the morning before the shower, asking her to schedule another ultrasound as soon as she returned, because “there was some unusual things on her last exam, and they just want to be sure nothing is wrong.” When she told me this, my heart sank, but we put on our happy faces and helped her get through the shower. In the coming weeks, we’d learn more about Trisomy 18 than anyone should ever have to. Jackson was stillborn some weeks later. Intuition=1, Sheryl=0

A few months after my best friend Rochelle’s symptoms started, and shortly after her first hospitalization for uncontrollable pain, she called me after a doctor’s visit. “They found it,” she said. “It’s cancer.” I know that none of us were surprised – at that point, we all suspected it. But to hear the words so clearly made my heart stop. It’s cancer. From the moment her first symptoms appeared to the day we said goodbye was less than six months. Intuition=2, Sheryl=0.

Can you blame me for not wanting to listen to my intuition sometimes? Why bother – it’s just going to tell me bad news – why not put it off to the last possible moment? But I’ve found that when I do listen to the warning signs, when I face it early on, when I acknowledge that I’m scared, it somehow makes it easier to face. I know that Shauna appreciated us being scared right along with her – that it helped her when she had to face the worst news an expectant mother could face. I know that I’m better off having faced my worst fears when Rochelle was sick and dying, and that my life is, in the long run, richer for having been so involved in her last months of life. For standing next to her as she faced death, even when it was the last thing I wanted to do. Those moments were painful, they changed who I am. But I think that having my intuition warn me ahead of time helped me prepare. It helped me face the facts with my warrior gear on.

Looking at it that way, I think I'll take a moment of intuition over a blindside any day of the week. Don't make me wear my emotional armor 24/7. Let me take it off for a while in between battles. My heart and soul appreciate the rest. May your intuition guide you and protect you too.

Monday, April 2, 2012

monday motivation - pause

The sun is out today, after the 3rd rainiest March in the record books. So this seemed appropriate:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

getting out my soapbox

A little bit of relationship advice for anyone who needs it:
Does your partner:
  • insult you in public or private?
  • check up on where you've been and whom you've talked to?
  • criticize your family and friends?
  • pressure or force you to have sex when you don't want to?
  • limit where you can go and what you can do?
  • tell you jealousy is a sign of love?
  • prevent you from leaving the house, getting a job or continuing your education?
  • destroy your belongings?
  • make accusations that you are having an affair?
  • touch you in a way that hurts or frightens you?
  • harm, scare, or threaten you or your children?
IF you answered YES to any of these questions you could be a victim of domestic abuse and you need to GET HELP NOW!

When I saw this earlier this week on a friend's Facebook wall, I was instantly transported back to a time when I felt completely powerless to help a close friend who was struggling with some of these issues in her relationship with someone who appeared to most people to be a kind, generous, thoughtful man. Thankfully I've never experienced abuse in my own relationships, but I am empathetic toward those who have. And being on the outside, watching someone you care about suffer for falling in love with someone who isn't capable of a trusting, loving relationship is hard to do. But I've found it's always better to speak up or ask questions than to stand by and say nothing.

None of the things above are love. Remember that. Pass the word.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

what's on your list

The last summer of Rochelle's life is hard to recall in detail. There was an awkward rhythm in my life, of attempting to maintaining a sense of normalcy in my home life while juggling trips to the hospital at lunch or after work nearly every day. At the end of the day, there wasn't a lot of time for me. My house and pets suffered, my work suffered, and my soul was taking a beating. Looking back, I know I was just in survival mode, but the specifics of that time in my life are muddled and blurry.

Since I was a little girl, I've always loved to read. I started when I was about four, and never stopped. When my mom came to pick me up from day care when I was five, I was reading stories to the other kids. There's a comfort and solace that reading brings me, letting my brain settle into a story, and lessening my worries of the day for a few minutes. Even if I just get a few minutes of reading in, it helps the day feel complete.

I read several books over the course of those weeks between early July and October. It's only now, looking back that I see the common themes and threads of cancer, friendships, and the process of dying that they shared, and realize how much they helped me process all the fears and emotions that came along with Rochelle's cancer and death.

In one of the books I read that summer, a character was battling cancer. She had retreated to her childhood summer home on the beach with her sister and her best friend, and the things that each of them were facing in their lives and relationships followed them there. One passage in the book keeps coming back to me, even now, years later. The main character, as she found out that she had cancer, was a master list maker. But the day of her diagnosis all her lists disappeared. From that day forward, there were really only two lists in her world. The list of things that no longer matter, and the list of things that matter.

The list of things that no longer matter.

The moment your priorities change and your world becomes so simple and so difficult in the same breath. When you hear the word, "cancer." And weeks later, when you are laying next to your best friend, whispering to her that it's okay to let go and leave the pain of this world behind, just hours before she does.

In the years since Rochelle passed away, when life's troubles start to weigh me down again, when my job gets a little stressful, when people I don't care about say mean things to me, I ask myself, "Does this matter?" The answer is almost always no. The typo, the mucked up address file, the name-calling psycho don't matter. They all go on the list of things that no longer matter. Every time. In the totality of my life, these things do not matter. They do not get to suck up my energy and steal my happiness.

The list of things that matter to me is a short and sweet list, and it doesn't have actual "things" on it. It's simply a list of my people. It's love and laughter, peace and contentment, memories made and memories still to come. That's all I need. What's on your list?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday motivation - Leap!



Years ago, I wandered into an art gallery down on the waterfront in Portland. There were a number of pieces by a local artist/poet/calligrapher, Mary Anne Radmacher. I spent the better part of my lunch hour reading and recognizing myself and other loved ones in her work. I've purchased several prints over the years - one holds a place of honor in my entryway, and one was my wedding gift to Rochelle and Dave.

Last year, Mary Anne treated some of her fans to a special Valentine image - using words we had chosen. Bet you can't guess what mine was!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

breaking my silence

Today, I’m changing gears. I have to get something off my chest. I’m bothered by something that is happening in my life and I’ve stayed silent about it for as long as I can. No more. Ready?




Dating sucks.

There! It's out. Whew! Geez, what did you think I was going to say?

I recently had a few dates with a man I’d met and dated a few years ago. I remembered that I really liked his sense of humor and things had been moving in a promising direction back then (even if they weren’t moving at the speed I wanted them to). In short, when we reconnected, I found myself wondering if I’d passed up something good when things fizzled out before.

So I decided to give him another shot. I wanted to see if there was a connection there. Did he still make me laugh? Did we still have the same things in common? Would there be any sparks?

We went on a couple of dates – dinner and a movie, and then a dinner at one of the most romantic spots in Portland. There weren’t any sparks. The chemistry isn’t there. He’s still a good guy, but we aren’t riding the same wave. We can sit and talk and laugh, but I feel like I’m going through the motions. I can tell he likes me. It’s sad. I really wish I liked him more. This is the part of dating that sucks! He's a great guy, for someone else.

I feel like I’ve lost so much in the last few years, and I have grown and learned and become a much healthier, stronger soul for it. I’m ready for a good man in my life. One who understands that I need space to breathe, that I need to laugh, dance, sing and play, and who wants to do some of that with me. One who sees that my life is full, it has pain and it has joy and they balance in a beautiful way that makes me appreciate each day more. I need someone whose own need for freedom and independence balances mine. Someone who speaks the truth, who doesn’t make promises he won’t keep, and who wants me more than he needs me in his life. I’m ready to open my heart to the right man. There's room for him now.

When will he come along? Is he already in my life, and we just haven’t figured it out? Is it the guy who makes my stomach flutter when his hand grazes mine? The guy whose phone calls and texts always make me happy, no matter what kind of day I'm having? Or the guy whose gaze across a room full of people can make my knees weak? The guy who laughs and teases me relentlessly because he knows I love his sarcasm? Have I known him for years, or is he still a stranger to me? Time will tell.

I know I have to just keep on hoping and trying. And putting on my hopeful face and shaving my legs before heading out on hopeful dates. But some days, and some dates, just suck.

Monday, March 19, 2012

monday motivation - you choose

For today's Monday motivation - a little reminder of the power of personal choice. You can't control what others do, what happens to you, or the things people say to you, but once it is part of your life, you get to choose the direction it sends you in.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

re-kindred spirits


You know when you meet someone and you instantly know that you're destined to be friends? That spark of connection between kindred spirits? What a great feeling! To know that someone else in this world "gets" you, and your quirky sense of humor. When you're sitting on the tailgate, eating ice cream cones and telling life stories a few days after meeting, you can't deny the bond that is already formed.

I've been lucky to have a number of friendships that started this way. But even better, I've had old friendships renewed this way. I've always taken friendship (and fun) seriously. But some of those friendships fade over time. We grow up, move away, get married (or not), have kids (or not), careers, houses, illnesses, divorces, heart break. Sometimes, someone or something else is responsible for the interruption in your friendship. Life just happens. A week without talking turns into a month, then a few months... and pretty soon it's been years.

I know I was better prepared than most for losing my best friend, Rochelle. I had 20 years to get used to the idea that I would outlive her. That didn't make it easier, but it did mean that I never, ever, not even once took our friendship for granted. Sure, it helped that we were kindred spirits, so we got along like peanut butter and chocolate. And whenever musketeer #3, Shauna was around, it was more like peanut butter, chocolate, and bananas. I'm not saying Shauna is bananas... oh who am I kidding? That girl is hilarious and funny as only slipping on banana peels can be. (Love you girl!)

I've come to realize that Rochelle left behind some really interesting gifts for me. One of the most remarkable to me is one that keeps appearing when I least expect it. That is the gift of rekindling friendships with those who I have considered kindred spirits. Or, as I might call them, re-kindred spirits! The chance to reconnect after a 2, 5, 15, or 20 year lapse in regular communication. I'm not just talking about catching up on the facts and statistics of our lives, but really reconnecting. Confirming once again, that the spirit is stronger than time and distance. That love, friendship and trust can survive and blossom again. Within minutes of seeing my twin best friends, Kendra and Roxann from 8th grade (after more than 20 years had passed), we were once again sharing stories that are reserved for those closest to our hearts - the ones that are bittersweet or painful. That's the beautiful thing about re-kindred spirits - you already know you can trust them to protect your heart!

In the 3+ years that have passed since Rochelle died, I have lost count of the friends who I've reconnected with. I'm sure she's sending them my way, and I'm grateful for that. She's that sort of friend, even in heaven. It's nice to know she still watches out for me, and sends me old friends to remind me that friendships do last lifetimes.

And I'm also finding that there really is more room in my once-broken heart. Room for new friends, old friends and especially re-kindred spirit friends.

Monday, March 12, 2012

monday motivation - I am

A little motivation for Monday morning. A sweet answer to the childhood chant, "I know I am, but what are you?"


Thursday, March 8, 2012

first class relationship

Recently, I had a rare conversation with my best friend who has three small children. It was rare because she is never alone and can’t always talk freely without someone overhearing. I can’t imagine that she gets much privacy on a regular basis. It was also rare because we were both so honest about what was happening in our lives. There are few people in the world I trust with those conversations, and she is at the top of the list.

Part of the conversation included catching up on a recent trip they’d taken. Her husband had made the travel arrangements. He travels frequently and gets upgraded to first class automatically. When they got to the airport, instead of asking for both of them to be upgraded, he took his first class seat and let his wife sit in coach with an empty seat beside her. By the way, the difference between their seats was about five rows. She could see him the entire flight. While this isn’t terribly surprising to those of us who know him (he can be a bit self-centered), this did hit a new threshold of rudeness. At one point she said, “maybe I’m just a visual learner, but it was a clear picture of how he treats our entire relationship. He’ll never see me on the same level as him.”

The honesty of that statement took us both by surprise. The bell of truth certainly rings a pure clean sound. And, as we both laughed at the craziness of the scenario like you’d laugh at a sitcom (I can see Valerie Bertinelli playing her perfectly!), the fact is, she was right. That made me a little sad, because of all she’s been through in their marriage. And so, I offered her these words of encouragement:

I wish for you to know, once and for all, that you are worthy. Worthy of love and honor. Worthy of trust and devotion. I wish for you to know that taking care of yourself is the first priority and when you do that, your children will grow up to be as self-sufficient, loving, giving and understanding as you are. I wish for you to know the difference between being a nice person and being a doormat. To feel the joy of a pure and accepting love, without conditions, control, judgment or violations of your privacy. To know the freedom that complete trust in your partner can bring. To know that simply being yourself is all that you need to do. I wish for you to know that as your friend, I will be your champion and I will remind you of these things from now to the end of time.

Finally, I wish for you to find someone who adores and accepts you for who you are. How do you know when you’ve found that? He won’t sit in first class while you’re sitting in coach. I wish this for you. And I wish it for all my friends.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

voices carry

The Voice, by Shel Silverstein

Learning how to listen to, and trust, your own voice is hard. It's hard to filter through what our friends, loved ones, family, coworkers and strangers project onto us. Especially when the voice inside your heart is saying something different than they want it to. I do believe that true friendship lies in the harmony and echo of each of our inner voices. That is where love lives. Hmm... I may have to come back to that thought later.

One thing that my experience with the path through grief gave me was a change in perspective. I realized somewhere in the weeks and months after Rochelle died that I was never going to be the same person I was when my best friend was alive. The one thing I knew for sure is that this grief was going to define me one way or another, and I got to choose how. My voice was different now, because it didn't have her echo anymore. I got to decide how my new voice would sound and what songs it would sing.

So, I started listening. I started with myself. Who do I want to be? What kind of person will people say I "was" when I no longer "am"? What matters to me? What no longer matters? And then I listened to what others said to me, and about me. Thankfully, I have some amazing, loving, intelligent, and incredibly honest people in my life. And then, I started using my new voice, trusting that my heart knew the way back to happiness.

Sure, there are setbacks, there are expectations that must be met, there are loved ones whose own problems and hidden agendas cause stress, pain and strain in my relationships. But I try to respond to those situations with kindness, with honesty, from a place of peace. I know I can't change someone else's perspective, and I also know I don't have to echo their voice if it doesn't harmonize with mine.

In the last few months, trusting my voice has been challenged. Relationships have been strained. It was tempting to lash out in anger, to point fingers and toss accusations and old resentment and unhealed hurts back at those who are causing pain in my life. But I held on to my new voice. I trusted myself to speak honestly, to speak from the heart, to temper my words with kindness, while not backing down and taking blame or responsibility that doesn't belong to me.

To be honest, I'm not sure if it worked. At least from the other person's perspective. I don't know if they have heard the kindness and truth in my words. The relationships are still strained. Issues haven't been resolved yet, and may not be for some time. But it's going to be okay. My heart tells me so.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

with every goodbye you learn

Who hasn't experienced the pain of a broken heart? Who hasn't hung their hopes on someone else and then had to rush to pick up the scattered pieces when it fell apart? This poem has had a home on my wall in every home I've had since college, when my first love broke my heart. I always find something in this poem that rings true to whatever relationship I'm in at the time. Yes, it's true, I'm stronger than I think and I can endure, but just once I'd like to not have to. Just once.

AFTER A WHILE (Veronica Shoftshall, 1971)

After a while you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept
your defeats
with your head up
and your eyes ahead
with the grace of an adult,
not the grief of a child

And you learn to build
all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground
is too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way
of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.

And you learn
that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Angel visits

The other day I went to see a friend - someone who has been an inspiration, a mentor, a healer, and a motivator in my life and my journey through grief. I was telling her that I've been having trouble with staying motivated and haven't been running regularly, so she suggested that I run the Starlight run again this year. After all, it was the run that got me started in the first place. Two years ago, I ran it on my best friend's birthday. As the day went on, I was thinking about our conversation and I remembered this passage I'd written a few weeks before my first 5k. I'm looking forward to a few fun ABBA inspired runs as I get ready for the next one... and it never hurts to have an angel cheering you on.

May 26, 2010

Last night, I went out for a 3 mile jog, preparing for the 5k Starlight run that I’m running in my best friend Rochelle’s memory on June 5 (also her birthday). As I was leaving my house, I chose the ABBA gold album to be my running partner. ABBA always reminds me of my best friends Rochelle and Shauna, and the hours we spent driving around our hometown singing at the top of our lungs more than half a lifetime ago.

About two miles into my jog, I was really starting to feel tired. I was thinking about Rochelle, half wondering what she thought of my crazy plan to run a 5k on her birthday. I mean, it’s not something she would have ever done. I’m doing it for myself, my health, dumping my sweat, grief and emotional baggage on the road and leaving it there. The Starlight parade will follow, and Rochelle enjoyed a good parade, so I imagine her silliness, playfulness, and happiness will be with the crowd that night.

Anyway, as I plodded along, feeling weary, this song came on. For the first time in many years, I listened to the words. Heading up that shady wooded path, I started to smile. My breath felt easier, my feet felt lighter, and by the time the second verse started right at the 2 mile mark, I was smiling and laughing as the line “pushing through the darkness still another mile” tickled my ear drums. I couldn’t help but feel that this was Rochelle’s way of letting me know she approves of my crazy plan, she believes I can do it, and that she’s looking forward to the parade on her birthday.

I do believe in angels. My best friend is one.

"I Have A Dream" (Abba)

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream

I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream

Monday, February 13, 2012

Heartburn - and how I named this blog

There's a movie from the 80's called Heartburn. I haven't seen it in many years, but I remember watching it several times with my best friend Rochelle. We were in high school, and it was a very grown up movie for us to see, not our usual fare of Back to the Future and Can't Buy Me Love.

Carly Simon sang a song for the soundtrack of that movie, and it quickly became a favorite song for both Rochelle and me. The song, Coming Around Again, includes children singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. That song has been a frequent flier in the soundtrack of my life, and my favorite lyric is, "so don't mind if I fall apart, there's more room in a broken heart."

Over the last few months, I've been through a bit of an emotional wringer. Another friend, another cancer, another child left to grow up without his mom, and another husband left without the wife he adored. If you know me, you know I've been down this road. I understand what it's like to lose someone you love. This time, however, it wasn't MY best friend. Instead, it was a family member's best friend, and a lifelong family friend. In some ways, that made it harder.

While I was losing a friend too, I felt the pain that my family member was experiencing . I saw what she would go through before she did. I could anticipate the course of emotions, the frustration, the anger, the helplessness, the worry, the need to drop everything and just be with your friend. And yet, I couldn't totally understand because she deals with life differently than I do. This cancer was different. The families involved had different communication issues. There was tension I hadn't felt when Rochelle was ill and dying.  So, while the stories had similar endings and parallels, they are different.

Regardless, my pain in losing Holly was compounded by the memories and pain it stirred up. Things I'd already dealt with and worked through and scars that were healing from when Rochelle died were ripped open. I felt like I'd taken a giant step backwards, and I suppose in some ways I did. I retreated into comfort mode. Comfort food, comfortable clothes, comfortable couch potato life.

But what does that have to do with this blog? Well, let me tell you. I got sick of being comfortable. I was so comfortable some of my clothes were becoming less so. Nothing too drastic, but my running shoes had not been getting much of a workout and it was showing. So, I made a plan to get myself back on track. I started focusing on my diet again. Back to the gym. But I was having trouble staying motivated and sticking to it. Then I realized I was missing the secret ingredient - my monthly dates for acupuncture.

I made an appointment, and back I went. As I was sitting there, catching up with my acupuncturist, telling her the story of the last few months, she reminded me of how far I've come, even though I've slipped backwards for now. There were several things she said that day that stuck with me. She's good at that - planting seeds of thought. One was a suggestion that I write a blog, because I have a different perspective than a lot of people about grief. So much is written on grief about losing a parent, a child, a spouse. But how much have you seen from a friend's perspective? At the end of the appointment, she said something that hit home so hard I couldn't even speak. She said, "I know it sounds cheesy, but there is more room in a broken heart."

So, I'm here to share my stories. I hope they make you laugh and cry and remember and learn. And when the sun comes out and dries up all the rain...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

not a runner




I wrote this last year - but I re-read it the other day, got goose bumps and teared up again, and I knew then that I needed to share it here. The words you say to others are so important. They can shut you down or lift you up.



“But, you’re not a runner.”

That’s what someone said to me two weeks AFTER I ran my first 5k. I know that what he meant was, “Wow! You accomplished something you’ve never done before,” but that’s not the words he used.

Later that day, that phrase came into my head again, “You’re not a runner.” I started thinking about it, and I realized that the statement was true of the old me; the one whose best friend of 23 years hadn’t yet died of cancer; the one whose life and career were in a rut, in imminent danger of becoming stale and burned out. That version of me stopped existing on Oct. 4, 2008.

The new me started growing a few months later, after the shell shock of saying goodbye to Rochelle started to wear off and life started to make sense again. The new me knows that my life will be what I decide to make it, and that I will be whatever I choose, not what anyone else tells me I am or am not. I live with the constant memory of how fragile life is, and am dedicated to having a life that is well-lived. The new me is no longer afraid of failure or success, or of dreaming new dreams and changing course.

Since the day I was reminded that I’m “not a runner,” I have run a half marathon, and I’m currently training to do two more this spring. I’ve experienced the runner’s high, and the injured runner’s low. I’ve had the joy of running on a sunny summer morning, and the pain of 13.1 miles in the pouring rain. I’ve listened to my friends and family tell me how impressed and inspired they are by what I’ve done in such a short time. I’ve watched my own mom turning into a runner, and I’m excited to cheer her on and run with her for her first half marathon.

I wonder how many times I’ve let success slip by me because someone said something that discouraged me. I can think of a few. Because someone else didn’t expect success from me, I let myself live down to their expectations. Instead of living up to my own expectations, I let a dream go unfulfilled. How often have the words and actions of others, disguised as the voices of reason, stifled my dreams? Do I do this to people too? Have I encouraged someone to choose the safe path instead of encouraging them to dream big and try anyway? Perhaps, but I know that the new me doesn’t want to be a voice of reason. I want to be an encouraging spirit in my friends and families’ lives. I hope I am.

Go. Dream. Learn something new. Live your life. Be happy. Grow as needed. Change when necessary. Love without regret. Be there. Try harder. Don’t wait.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

40 things I’ve learned – a collection of personal observations, truthsand some quotes that have shaped me into the person I am

I recently turned 40. A milestone event for sure, but not traumatic as many would want you to believe. I feel stronger, healthier, more centered at 40 than at almost any time in my life. My life is in no way perfect, but it is generally good. I came up with a list of 40 things that make up "me" and wanted to share them with you. Who am I kidding? This is my first blog post - no one is reading it yet...

  1. “Should” is a word that we use too often.

  2. The rhyme we learned as children “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” isn’t necessarily true. Words can hurt. It’s what we choose to do when someone uses a hurtful word that means the most.

  3. A lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.

  4. Sometimes, boys are stupid. I’m not saying girls aren’t, but you can write your own list if you want to say that.

  5. Laughter heals. So do tears.

  6. You can love someone with all your heart and they can still walk away.

  7. Don't pole vault over mouse turds.” Excellent advice about keeping life simple and not overdoing things if it's not necessary.

  8. I hope I’m never too old to remember what it’s like to be a kid.

  9. "A bad habit never disappears miraculously; it's an undo-it-yourself project."– Abigail Van Buren

  10. I really am stronger than I think I am sometimes.

  11. Watching the news is not good for my outlook on humanity. Watching children play is.

  12.  Chocolate and peanut butter will always be my favorite flavor.

  13. Grief is hard work. And even when you’ve walked it yourself, you don’t know what someone else’s path through it will be like.

  14. You don’t get to choose how you are going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now.” - Joan Baez

  15. Just because I like plants doesn’t mean I have a green thumb.

  16. My dog has taught me more about myself than I thought possible.

  17. Qualifying an apology with an excuse destroys the apology. Never say, “I’m sorry, but…”

  18. "If you judge people, you have no time to love them." Mother Teresa

  19. Having a friend who will look you in the eye and tell you something you don’t want to hear, especially when it’s something you need to hear in order to grow, is a gift.

  20. Popcorn and wine for dinner is okay once in a while.

  21. Action is as important as words.

  22. "The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."– Anna Quindlen

  23. I’m extremely grateful for my childhood, my hometown, and the community I grew up in. Even if I tell stories that make it sound otherwise sometimes.

  24. Self esteem is not about anyone but me. It’s not friend esteem, or job esteem, or family esteem, or physical appearance esteem. No one else is responsible for how I feel about myself.

  25. We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.” – Dr. Seuss

  26. It’s possible that I watch too much tv.

  27. The poem “Live with intention” by Mary Anne Radmacher changed my life.

  28. I don’t keep track of how many best friends I have – but there are a lot of them. I’m lucky that way.

  29. Life isn’t always fair.

  30. Sometimes, you just need to get out the paper, scissors, and glue and have a craft day.

  31. The smell of juniper, sage brush, and pine all together smells more like home than anything I know.

  32. Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit." --E.E. Cummings

  33. Being single doesn’t mean that something is wrong with you or that you’re incomplete. It can be a blessing at times. I’m one of the happiest people I know. I can paint my walls any color I like and buy new towels whenever I want.

  34. Nothing beats a good belly laugh. Especially one that involves snorting and crying.

  35. If you don’t end up with marshmallow in your hair, you aren’t making s’mores correctly.

  36. When I was about 6 years old, a dear family friend told me I had music in my heart, and I should always remember to listen to it and sing my own song.

  37.  If you think you want to run a marathon, go cheer on a friend at mile 21. If you want to feel that “good,” go ahead and sign up.

  38. Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.” – Randy Pausch

  39. Avoiding telling someone the truth because you don’t want to hurt them does more damage than telling them.

  40. Live imperfectly with great delight.” – Leigh Standley (Curly Girl Design)