Stretch Yourself


All I ever hear is how nobody has enough time. I believe we have an immense amount of time but we lose track of how careless we become with it. I asked myself the other day, is there any quality in my time? After some painful truth I got real and decided I would accept a new challenge to give more time to others. What better time than the season of giving to spread myself out doing exactly that? This is week one and I am excited and nervous at the same time. My goal is to provide love, food and support to those who need it most and I pray I am up to the challenge. So today I challenge you and invite you to walk with me on this journey. Quality over quantity is today’s mantra!

This is a reminder to stretch yourself. Set a goal to reach out to someone in need. Volunteer, cook someone a meal, help someone out. Turn off the tv, put down your phone and use your time to do something that really matters to somebody else. What do you say?

I Never Knew Parenting Would Grow Me


19 years ago I imagined how amazing it would be to watch my daughter grow. I looked forward to having a little girl and dressing her up in fancy dresses and putting curls in her hair. I had no idea that this tiny baby was going to change my life in ways I never imagined. That tiny baby began to crawl and walk. She went off to school and learned to drive. This year she went off to college. She has been a blessing in so many ways. She has taught me to be myself without apology and to own every single part of myself. She has taught me never to hide in a corner or allow anyone to make me fell shame because of a mistake I made. She made me learn to continue to love and respect a person whose ideas do not match up with my own. She has taught me that my actions have consequences and if I want people to respect me then I too have to treat them with respect regardless of how frustrated or angry I may feel. She taught me to be silly and to appreciate someone who can break through the serious to make others laugh. She taught me that while I watched her grow, I too would grow right along with her. She is my heart and soul. She is my inspiration on the darkest days and a smile on my face that shines through the darkest pain. This little girl was chosen just for me, to change me in the most significant ways so I could be this person I am today. Happy birthday to my silly little Kayleigh who no matter how old she becomes, will always be my little girl. Happy birthday to my little groundhog who always rushes into everyday full speed ahead, excited about the future and never looking back to catch a glimpse of the shadow of who she used to be. You are beautifully you, truly unique in the most amazing ways. May this year be your best year yet. I love you more than you will ever know.

Getting Real


I often find my mind judging the people I love the most. I have this idea of who I think they should be and when they come up short my disappointment shows. I have a new mantra that I repeat to myself every day throughout the day. 

Today I will accept and love people exactly as they are. I will not try and mold them into who I want them to be. I will appreciate their unique mind, body and spirit and trust they are exactly who they are meant to be.

Sometimes you have to admit to yourself some realizations that aren’t very pretty. This year I am committed to getting real with myself even when it hurts so I can continue to my own growth and development.

Baby Steps


I found a beautiful rose bush last spring and was immediately drawn to it. I don’t normally notice white roses but the ones on this bush were so delicate, beautiful. I was apprehensive about planting it behind the pool at the back of my fence. I wanted it to be closer to the house so I could look out my window and enjoy the roses every day. My husband strongly encouraged me to stick with the plan and put it in the back and so I agreed. I could see the bush shrinking in size as the number of blooms also decreased. The leaves seemed to be losing their color and finally the bush became so small I could barely see it. I had my husband dig it up and replant it in the original place I wanted it to be. Today, for the first time in months, I noticed a bloom.

This is a reminder to never give up. If you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, sometimes you need to make a change. Ask yourself, what am I doing that is holding me back? Is it carrying around a negative attitude, staying in a job or relationship that is robbing you of the happiness, allowing yourself to remain stuck because you are convincing yourself that is your fate? Sometimes the first step is moving your own feel. You will know you are headed in the right direction because just like the roses, you will start to grow. Make a change. Have the courage to take the first step.

Becoming Me A little More Each Day


I wrote this post a year ago today and I can honestly say I have moved closer and closer to the person I want to be. It’s so important to reflect back and make sure you are always moving in the direction you want to go. Make sure you are on your own path.

As I get ready to travel tomorrow to the place I grew up, I am forced to take a look at who I’ve become. I am still that small town girl. I am most comfortable in an area with trees and space and fresh air to breathe. It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve spent away, home will always influence who I am.
Recently I was hiking in the Grand Canyon. It was a steep climb with loose dirt. It was easy to slip or feel unsure of my footage. I noticed there were rocks that lined the trail on both sides. Just like a kid all those years ago hopping from one rock to the next on my way to and from the bus, I hopped on those canyon rocks and the climb became so much easier. My memory kicked in and my body followed. It seems like just yesterday that I was that little girl happily skipping home from school. Sometimes the adult in us makes things look so complicated and the child in us finds the easiest way.
Time jumps. That’s just the way it is. It doesn’t feel like it slips by one moment at a time. It jumps in big leaps. I was 5, then, 12, then 18, 21, 30 and now I’m 43. The moments are sometimes forgotten but the milestones stick. I hope there are many more of them. My goals and my prayers and my hopes and my dreams become much different as the years pass by. I used to believe life was about being a certain weight, looking a certain way and holding an important job. I believed those silly things would make me happy. I did my very best to strive for perfection in every area of my life. It didn’t take me long though to discover that perfection is a myth. I could waste years of my life trying to be something that was not realistic or attainable or even worse, trying to be who others thought I should be. Then I found the freedom to love myself just as I am. What I am is perfectly imperfect, just the way I am meant to be. I am beautifully flawed and tragically damaged and I am so much more than I ever imagined through the foolish eyes of a young girl. We spend years of our lives being conditioned to become someone who doesn’t feel comfortable. Then, ironically, we spend years undoing who we become. That is where we really live. In that small window peering out where we finally get a real glimpse from our own eyes.
I dream that someday everyone will find a sense of peace. I dream everyone will feel the joy of happiness in every day. My hope is that there will always be someone waiting in the window when I finally get to visit home. My goal is that I find a reason to be happy and grateful each and every day. I pray that we learn to forgive each other’s weaknesses and love and accept each other with our whole hearts, just as they are without apology. I hope we stop carrying the weight of the world when it starts to weigh us down and admit when we are weak so someone else can take our burden. I hope I can create moments in each day where I can laugh with my kids and surprise them with my silliness. I hope even people who will not like me will respect my consistency. My actions and words will always tell the story of who I am. Some may not like the book but I promise there will not be any surprises when it comes to my character. I am free from others opinions because I now know the only opinion that really holds any weight is the one I have of myself. I have to carry my weight and wear my shoes. I know who I am and am no longer threatened by those who will never see me for who I really am. I hope that I will get better at breathing more and talking less, responding and not reacting, having more moments of quiet and less of noise, discovering more happy than sad and finding healing and patience where there is pain.
Wish me luck on my journey back home. It is always bitter sweet. Always great to see the faces of the people I love and even harder to look away when it’s time to go.

Things Are Not What They Appear To Be


I do not have a green thumb but I do my best to keep my yard looking nice. Roses grow really well here and my favorite is in a small corner of the yard where I like to sit. Every single day I would go outside and admire those roses. They were like a happy little pick me up on any given day. Then the rain came…and more rain….and flooding and rain. The leaves had all fallen off the bush and it looked like there would be no more beautiful roses blooming anytime soon. Part of me wanted to dig it up because the sight of it was causing me distress. It had acquired black spot disease and I had almost given up. I bought some treatment and although the stems were completely bare I stayed with it. I am happy to report that the leaves are slowly growing back. The new red growth was a sight for sore eyes and I am pretty confident it will come back strong. 

I can’t help but think how many times a situation looked hopeless in my own life. I think of how many times I quit when I should have hung on just a little bit longer. That is my message today. Things are not always what they appear to be. There can be some pretty angry storm clouds that pass over and never spill a single drop of rain. Be open to hope. Be open to things turning out better than you ever dreamed. Be the beautiful rose that blooms even when the odds are stacked against it. The way you look at something is much more important than the way it appears to be.

Just For A Moment


I left the house very early today to drive my son to basketball practice. It had been raining most of the night and the fog had engulfed the town like an angry shadow. As I drove, I thought about how uncomfortable the fog made me feel. I wanted to turn around and go back to the house. I could barely see a few feet in front of the car. It reminded me of how uncomfortable I feel in the center of negativity. You try and shine your own light on the crowd but the negativity winds around getting closer and closer swallowing you up until you choke on the taste of what negativity becomes. How do people get that way? Once fun and full of love and life and hope only to eventually turn into a walking cloud of despair. It’s so hard to watch. Sometimes I just want to shake people and turn them upside down, stand them on their head so they can maybe try and see a different perspective. Negativity is a fog that forms over the window of the soul. If you don’t clean it off, it will become the only view you will ever see. The real hard fact is that I cannot change a single person around me. People have to want to change. They have to try, as hard as it seems to see the good in people and the life that they are blessed enough to adventure through. I get people get depressed. I get that bad things happen. I get that sometimes it seems like everyone around them sucks but isn’t there something, even one thing to focus on to be grateful for? Sometimes the way we feel taints what our eyes allow us to see and what our hearts allow us to feel. My question is who wants to feel that awful? At some point you have to stop pointing a finger at everyone else and take responsibility for how you feel. Do what sets your heart free. Stop complaining. Stop speaking nothing but angry, negative words and find something to focus on that makes you feel good. That fog will block your vision until it brings you to a complete standstill and you crash and burn.

It’s been said that there are no coincidences. That everyone in your life is there to teach you more about yourself. They are not there to torture you or continue to make your life difficult. They are there forcing you to learn and encouraging you to grow. I see so many fight it and just become miserable and start to resent, hate, and blame everyone around them for the life they have. We are meant to be happy. We are meant to overcome the obstacles and find the real person we were meant to be. Happiness is not created or destroyed by anyone else. It exists in each and every one of us. It is a choice. It is choosing loving thoughts and practicing loving actions regardless of the response we get from others. When we love the way we should and we treat everyone around us with respect rather than being the judge and jury of whether they deserve our respect, there is a shift that occurs and the results are indiscribable. When you are the best version of yourself and you are continually striving to do more and be more, you no longer notice every little flaw in the people around you. You choose to see good. You choose to acknowledge that we as people are imperfect and do not have the right to judge anyone but ourselves. And eventually, we do judge ourselves more gently and the more we learn to forgive and love ourselves, the easier it becomes to love, forgive and accept others.

Just for a moment, if I could have one wish granted, I would wish that for one whole day everyone could feel their heartbeat in their chest. I wish they could feel complete joy and love and childlike happiness like opening the very best gift on Christmas Day. Just for a moment, I wish everyone could feel less lonely, less horrible and feel so much love that their heart feels like it’s about to explode. If only. Just for a moment.

What Challenges You?


I was thinking the other day of what I find most challenging in my life. Two things came to mind almost immediately. The first one for me and probably the one that causes me the most frustration and the greatest opportunity of learning would have to be people. It seems more and more that people are losing their filters. They think nothing of spitting out their opinion of me personally or the way I choose to live my life. I am forced to remind myself that I do not have to take offense or even respond. It is also a reminder that just because I live a different way does not mean I am doing something wrong. We are all different and what is right for me may not be right for you. Does that make you wrong? Of course not, it just makes you different. I am reminded to keep some things to myself. Some things just do not need to be said ever. There will always be those people who think they know more. Note to self: that does not mean they really know more and sticky note: it does not mean they know less. So the question is, when I start feeling that pull of a reaction internally, how do I recognize it quickly, accept it for what it is and just let it go? Well, I think I just answered that for myself. Acknowledge it for what it is and just move on.

Onto number two. The second ongoing challenge is not responding. Choosing to stay silent is a valuable tool. Sometimes, silence in itself or lack of response is enough to stop a conversation in its tracks. I have become much better at this one through the years but I can’t deny it will always be something I will need to actively work on. People do not need to hear my personal opinion about everything in the world, they just don’t. No different than the fact that I do not want to hear theirs. And, if I know my opinion differs from someone else’s and I know there are no words that will change their mind, why waste my energy on those words in the first place? Sometimes, I simply disagree is enough response without a lengthy debate or confrontation.

As I come to the close of another year, I always reflect on the challenges and growth. We can learn so much in a single year and change profoundly if we are truly dedicated to becoming better than the person we were before. What challenges have you faced and how have you grown the most?

A Row of trees


I was driving to pick up Chase after school. On my way, there were a row of trees. One of them caught my eye. I thought about how sometimes I feel like that tree that doesn’t look like all the rest. It’s tough to accept that you don’t fit in. It’s tough when you have a mind of your own and stay true to who you are. It is a lonely place when you look around and realize you are the leader of an invisible army and although you don’t understand it, you know you are different. Sometimes I just want to blend in and disappear.

Then I smiled to myself because that tree was beautiful, it was full of color and it stood out to the point I had to take notice. If it looked like the others, I would have driven by and never have seen it. Yes, I want to be that tree. Sometimes to be beautiful, you have to be different from all the rest.