Happiness

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Happiness is sitting on the couch watching the flames flicker in the fireplace. It is knowing my family is here, all in one room and watching both kids study quietly. Happiness is having no place to be but right here, right now and ending the day with my heart feeling full. These are the moments that matter, those little things that keep you going on difficult days.

How do you define happiness?

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Becoming Me A little More Each Day

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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.

There’s No Place Like Home

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I took my mom to yoga class for the first time today. From the minute we walked in the house, she has been in bed. It’s funny, I remember back to when I did my first class. I swore I was sick. I came home, laid down on the couch and fell asleep for two hours.

I believe many of us mistaken feeling tired for actually feeling relaxed. It took me some time to realize that when the body was relaxed enough to lay down and my mind was quiet enough to turn off, I had finally discovered the true art of feeling relaxed. We are so busy and so uptight that we don’t even really know what relaxed feels like at all. Once we learn though, we never forget. Yoga has changed my life. Its a place my soul feels very much at home. What exactly do I mean by home? It is a place my mind, body and spirit feel at peace, comfortably content to just be wherever I am, whatever time it may be. They say “there’s no place like home” and I’m starting to really believe that’s true.

Broken Down

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The nightmares are starting again. I go through these phases when the little spark of fear lights itself underneath all my senses. Usually if I stay away from the news they go away, but with social media shoving headlines down my throat, sometimes it is hard to escape.

Just this week, two 18 year old boys my daughter has attended school with have been arrested. One for murder and the other rape. The calm mother inside of me tries to assure me everything will be alright but the panicked mother is feeling the fear. I felt safe at school while I was growing up. Sure, bad things happened. There were drugs and accidents and even suicides but rape and murder? Growing up in a small town, someone was always watching. Everyone knew everyone else and if my parents weren’t watching me, you can bet someone else’s parents were. I didn’t have to deal with the severity of what these teens do today. It’s hard as a parent to push the worry aside and pretend a normal day at school is still a normal day at school.

I think about the parents of these two boys. How must they feel knowing their children are in jail? Geez, they are 18 and considered an adult but to me they are still babies trying their best to grow up. This should be an exciting year. The end of their high school chapter and the beginning of who they might have been. I think about the parents of the girls. One girl dead and the other girls emotionally and physically raped. Those parents must lie awake too. My heart hurts for all of them and for our kids too. It hurts for our communities and our world as a whole. Poor impulse control, lack of supervision and a surprising lack of fear toward authorities and consequences. I’ve sat quietly by and watched the transformation. I’ve watched schools protect the wrong kids and not follow through on consequences others really needed. I’ve watched kids become apathetic when it comes to their behavior and reputation because they are so hell bent on living in the moment with little regard or thought for the future. YOLO, isn’t that the theme they live by? I watch parents paying less and less attention because they are struggling in their own bad relationships or just too busy with the demands of their job. What can I possible do? I can’t carry the burden and I cannot change what the world has become. What I can do is make sure that I communicate with my kids. Make sure they can come to me about anything going on knowing I will always be here trying to protect them. This is one of the reasons it is so important to me that home be a soft place to fall. I’m passionate about home being a place they feel loved and safe and protected for a little while each and every day. I pray I am doing all I can to help them through these difficult years and to help them make sense of the chaos around them.

I hope the nightmares stop but deep down I know the truth. When I wake up they are still there and are very much true. They aren’t nightmares at all but the reality of everyday life and I admit, my feathers are ruffled.

The Journey

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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.

A Wall of Welcome

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Every now and then we come to a wall that stands in the way of where we are trying to go. It is not the wall itself that determines if we continue our journey, but rather our attitude about seeking an alternate route. So, I decided to do something inspirational to remind myself that a wall is whatever we believe it to be in our own imagination. And so the idea of the wall of inspiration was born. I decided to use this lesson as a permanent reminder that sometimes we see walls that aren’t actually even there, and other times we have an opportunity to use that wall as a stepping stone to divert us to someplace better. Here is my wall. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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A Walk to Remember

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I was able to attend a fundraiser for the brother of a friend in the town I grew up in today. Last night, as I lay in bed, I was bombarded by memories and the shadow of my life that existed here so many years ago. I couldn’t help but wonder what it might be like to still live here, the place that engulfed me and nourished me as I grew from a young child exploring the world, to a young woman setting out to make a life of my own. What would it be like to raise my kids in a place that was familiar to me as a kid? To send them to school with kids of people I once went to school with? It’s nice to feel part of a community and see faces that were once part of my everyday life. Looking back, I was so excited to graduate and move on in the world. Truth is, I had no idea how large the hole would be when life as I had known it would be no more. Faces I once saw everyday would be gone. Some forever, and a few I might catch up with occasionally on Facebook or briefly at a reunion. There’s something special, a bond perhaps that is formed when a group of people share so many years of their lives together, regardless whether any relationship ever existed. There a comfort in a familiar face. It’s like a gentle hug from our safest place. I always start to dream whenever I come to visit, of people and times that had once meant so much to me. Sometimes, people from my past make time in their busy day to catch up. There is no greater gift than someone validating my life and my existence by making sure our paths cross if fate allows whenever I visit. People are so busy these days. They will cook a meal or fit you in while they are busy going on about their everyday drama, but to stop what they are doing and sit down to take a moment to look into my eyes while making conversation, that is a gift.

I felt really blessed to be part of that event today. Sometimes, problems are so big, but with the love and concern of enough people, that burden can be shared. I wish everyone in the town could have been there to support that young man with ALS. To show that man that his life is important, and his struggle is important, that people care. I hope I gave him and his family that gift today. It is a memory that will always remain in my mind. Being home at the right time to share a life changing event with so many that at one time meant so much is a blessing. Take this lesson with you today. Are you still to busy to take the time to make someone feel important? There is no guarantee that you will have that opportunity another day. Time is precious. It is one thing we can never get back but something we often wish we spent a different way. Next time you cross paths with someone you know, pause, take those few minutes to make them feel their existence is important. A few minutes can make all the difference.