When life gets heavy

You may notice a theme in my blog posts lately.  The titles include words like off track, undertow, and heavy.  As in, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses over here.  I can’t even blame the horrid winter we had (the weather this winter was really quite mild and easy to deal with).  Last night I walked into a house empty of boys, filled with only my lady animal companions, a situation that comes along very rarely for me (my husband works from home, and if he’s gone and I’m home, I usually have the kids with me). In times past this has filled me with delight–oh, what to do with a house to myself?! In the solitude yesterday however, I was confronted by the heavy energy that has surrounded me lately.

So here we are.  Sometimes life is sad.  Things don’t go down the way we planned.  Accidents happen.  Children get hurt.  Parents get sick.  Animals sustain injuries (I’m looking at you, Fluffy the guinea pig).  Rock icons die (is anyone else tearing up throughout the day since learning of Prince’s passing?).  Businesses fold.  Relationships end.  Job offers don’t pan out.  Dreams and hopes and plans for the future are forever altered by circumstances beyond our control.  We are reminded, once again, that we really aren’t in charge here and that life can turn on a dime.

I’ve been hanging out in this space for an amount of time that I can’t even clearly define.  I’d barely know what day or month it is except that my kids have been home from school all week, so it must be April vacation.  I feel distracted, and justifiably so.  I feel disconnected from myself and in my head a LOT of the time (ignoring my mantra to not go there alone, it’s a bad neighborhood).  It’s so tempting to make this space that I’m in wrong.  I mean, there MUST be something wrong, right?  Why do I feel so worn out, why can’t I focus, what’s going on here?

Two weeks ago (or maybe it was three?  Can’t tell from inside my time warp) I decided that enough was enough.  It was time to buckle down, refocus, and get back on track.  Enough with letting my circumstances knock me around.  I refocused on activities that I know help me feel more powerful and grounded.  I made my meal plan for the week.  I listened to some Institute for Integrative Nutrition lectures that I hadn’t yet completed.  I made it to some yoga classes and worked out at home and finished a task that had hung over my head for months (hello, taxes).  I basically flipped a switch one Sunday.  I made the choice, and the next day I showed up a different person.  One that wasn’t confused and murky and held down by the weight of the world.

And then…life showed up again.  Cuz that’s what it does.  And I lost track of time, and my kids were home from school, and my exercise plans involved more “massive overhaul of LEGO apocalypse bedroom space” and less “super zen yoga timeout.”  Jerry and I celebrated 18 years together this past Monday.  It was our 18 on the 18th and it fell on a Massachusetts holiday (Patriots Day).  The weather reports predicted 70+ degrees.  Jerry took the day off from work so we could have a family fun day.  The day promised to be the stuff memories are made from…and it sure was when we awoke to screams of terror from our children.  Fluffy (one of our two guinea pigs) had fallen out of Dylan’s grasp when he picked her up from her cage, and now she was dragging her back legs behind her. We rushed downstairs in a panic and, instead of breakfast in bed, I started my day googling what to do in such an emergency.  We found an animal hospital that was open (thankfully not everyone in Massachusetts takes Patriots Day off) and could fit us in that day.  Instead of enjoying a nice meal with my family at 6pm that night, I was instead waiting for the prognosis on Fluffy’s injury.  We did x-rays and were grateful to learn that her spine isn’t severed and there’s no clear sign of spinal misalignment.  I’ll be giving her steroids every day for two weeks, and we’re hopeful she’ll recover.  I did enough google searches to see that this sometimes happens to guinea pigs, even in the most careful of households.  I’ve read enough stories of recovery to have hope myself.  But man, that sure wasn’t how I expected to spend my 18 year anniversary with my man.

The rest of this week passed by in a bit of a blur.  Cooper had his cast removed Friday morning, just when we had all gotten used to it.  He’s rocking a splint now, and we’re supposed to remove it at night and encourage him to exercise his arm.  Apparently when you don’t move a body part for a few weeks while it’s in a cast, it’s REALLY sore when you start moving it again.  Coops made that abundantly clear to everyone at University Orthopedics on Friday.  He was NOT interested in us removing that splint Friday night.  We did NOT have the energy to fight him.  It has now been 27 days since he’s showered or washed his hair (we did sponge baths–he’s 6, so not super gross yet).  I’m dying to clean that kid and Friday night as we were discussing why it was important for him to get a thorough washing he asked (with terror in his voice): “If you don’t wash a part of your body for a long time, does it grow hair? AM I GOING TO BE HAIRY LIKE DADDY?!?!?!”  (It’s a fair question.  Jerry was shaving by age 12).

I spent most of this weekend at a conference for Pure Haven Essentials, the company I partnered with in 2011.  I educate people about toxins in personal care products and teach them how to make safer choices.  It’s been a passion of mine for many years, and I’m usually thrilled to hang out with my tribe for a couple of days straight.  However, Friday night at 10pm I could NOT wrap my brain around stepping away from all the drama in North Attleboro to spend the whole of Saturday, 7:30am to 11pm, in Providence at a business conference (only 20 minutes away, but miles away from what I’ve been focused on over here).  I gave myself permission to leave at 4:30pm and not return for the dinner and awards ceremony. The thought of bringing an outfit to change into was just too much…just getting there at all felt like an accomplishment.  After I arrived and settled into my day, it all started to feel more do-able.  I gave myself permission to change my mind about going back for the awards dinner…I allowed myself to go with the flow.  I knew I would be returning home after the daytime session ended (someone’s got to give Fluffy her steroids!), but the thought of going back in my fancy wear to be with people who I’ve worked alongside for the last 4+ years suddenly didn’t seem so daunting. As I sat in the daytime sessions, I still felt distracted, but I didn’t make it wrong.  JUST SHOWING UP was important.  I showed up again last night, and today.  I spent some time formulating my plan to flip the switch again, writing down those things that I know I can do on Monday morning to refocus again:  get up earlier; create a morning ritual that involves morning pages or meditation; schedule my workouts; create our meal plan for the week; start to integrate some of the tasks that I’ve been avoiding (i.e. changing out the kids’ clothes; decluttering my closet).  Basically:  just show up, and show up, and show up again.  And when life shows up, deal with it.  Lose track of time, and then refocus.  Sleep.  Eat.  Play.  Do laundry.  Listen to music.  Take your vitamins.  Repeat.

As I prepare to turn 40 years old in September, what I’m noticing is that there isn’t any great trick to balancing life.  It’s ALWAYS out of balance.  The teeter totter never stays exactly in the middle for more than a few seconds.  For me the answer is in not getting knocked off the beam for too long.  Take a break as needed, drink some water (or wine), phone a friend, have a good cry, and then get right back up there.  Life is lived on the beam.

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This post is dedicated to my dear cousin Erin, one of my earliest playmates and closest confidantes.  I have her to thank for the “beam” analogy above.  Erin, my soul sister–it’s been an honor and a joy to journey through this life alongside you.  Thank you for your support, your love, and your listening.

Rocking a bowl cut at my first communion. Erin, age 5, Danielle, age 7.

Rocking a bowl cut at my first communion. Erin, age 5, Danielle, age 7.


Celebrating Erin's graduation from high school, circa 1997.

Celebrating Erin’s graduation from high school, circa 1997.


My boy Coops, trying to be brave (but clearly terrified and in pain) as we waited for x-rays. They took those pins out after confirming that all was healing well.

My boy Coops, trying to be brave (but clearly terrified and in pain) as we waited for x-rays. They took those pins out after confirming that all was healing well.


Words of a visionary.

Words of a visionary.

Posted in Daily Life, Friendships, Life Passages, Overcoming Challenges, Personal Growth, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Caught in the Undertow

I feel a bit like I’m underwater at the moment.  Sounds are muffled, objects ahead look blurry, normal sensations are heightened by the experience of being surrounded by a massive body of water.  I’m trying to swim to the surface, trying to inhale some fresh air, but each time I get close I’m pushed back under again.  Interestingly enough, I’m not alone.  I see friends, family, acquaintances, all in the same undertow.  Some of us are at the bottom of a wave, some are at the top.  But we’re all here, rolling with the punches, just trying to catch our breath, to catch a break, to ride the wave instead of being pummeled by it.

It’s tempting to want to “figure out” what’s going on.  As a child of the Information Age, I’ve often sought out new information as the way to solve life’s challenges.  What I’ve learned over the years is that more “knowing in the head” doesn’t seem to give me what I’m looking for.  Cerebral intelligence can be a helpful place to start, but gut or intuitive intelligence is where I really find peace and understanding.

For me, writing can be a way to access my intuitive side.  When thoughts pop into my head and just won’t leave me alone, I know it’s time to sit down and see what flows out.  Some people use meditation, exercise, painting, listening to music, being in nature…whatever it is that connects each of us to our bodies and gets us out of our heads.  Sometimes I sit down and write and I get some answers.  I come to the conclusion of an issue that’s been plaguing me, and the piece of writing I have to show for it is complete and concise and pours onto the page with ease.  Sometimes I write and it’s a struggle.  There is no answer, at least not yet.  But for me, the writing is part of the process, it’s part of how I will get to the answer, and although I would love to be there now, I’m just not.  It’s tempting to save the struggle for my eyes only, to not reveal the man behind the green curtain.  So often we hear about people only when they’ve “made it”–they’ve won the game or defeated the illness or made the best seller list.  Most of the time though, we are in process.  We’re battling our demons, doing the best we can every day, and we’re overwhelmed, under rested, over caffeinated, and just trying to catch our breath.

If you’re one of the folks who’s struggling in the same wave I am right now, know that you aren’t alone.  Breathe deeply.  Give yourself a break.  Reach out for support, and trust that the laws of physics are alive and well…what goes down must also go up.

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Sunny days in San Diego over February vacation

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At the top of One World Trade Center…Cooper is the photographer. We were in New York City for my conference at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

 

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3rd graders have Colonial Day in school. Dylan spoke with a British accent and put on a serious face for his role as the town cooper.

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Giggles with Katie

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Brothers at play

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Lady hanging with her sisters

 

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Just before surgery to have his broken left arm reset with pins. He challenged the O.R. nurse that he would make it backwards from 10 before the anesthesia knocked him out. He made it up to 20 (apparently a new record). The nurse decorated his swiss cheese sponge while he was under. Charming Cooper, working his magic even while in pain!

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Spy glasses complete the look. Thanks Grandma!

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Cooper lost his 1st tooth 4 days after surgery. The intubation tube may or may not have played a role in that. Either way…go big or go home!

 

Posted in Daily Life, Energy, Intuition, Life Passages, Personal Growth, Reflections | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When being “off track” is on track

Ahh, January.  Standing in December in the midst of the holiday chaos, January looks so bright and shiny and new.  It’s the month that is going to change EVERYTHING.  We will set our intentions and create our resolutions.  We will go to the gym EVERY.DAMN.DAY.  We will go straight from eating all the sugar in the house to eating none at all.  In December it all looks completely reasonable and possible.  Never mind how many January firsts we’ve experienced before, this year we will meet and exceed all of our own high expectations.  And then…enter reality.

We all have our own version of what January looks like.  If you’re like me, January has a slightly different flavor each year.  In the year 2000, January was when Jerry and I decided enough was enough (aka we were fed up with winter and snow), and made our plan to head to a warmer climate before the end of the year.  In September 2000 we made good on that promise as we stuffed our Hyundai Elantra with as many belongings as we could shove in there, and drove off into the sunrise…with San Diego as our final destination, sight unseen by either one of us.  In January 2004 I started a new job, which was a big deal.  A serial entrepreneur, I had been working at home (at that point for 2 1/2 years) and it was time to make a change.  That year we were very focused on cleaning up our finances; in September of 2004 we paid off $17,000 in credit card debt.  Early January 2006 brought the news that I was pregnant with my first child; that month we also previewed Bob Dylan’s The Times They are A’Changin’ at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, before it headed to Broadway.  Dylan Robert Theroux was born on September 5, 2006.

Since Jerry started working in life insurance sales that same year, January has meant long workdays, no time off, his busiest month.  Through the years, January’s have brought potty training success, vision boards, business launch parties, and business closings.  In January 2014 I prepared for my first Gathering of Women:  Creating Intentions; hosting that event symbolized a stepping into my future as a health and wellness coach.  Last January I started a challenge I had created for myself, what I called my Year of Radical Wellness.  I gave up alcohol at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  I registered for school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  I laid a groundwork for a future that was exciting and worth living.  And I lived it.

At midnight on 12/31/15, my Year of Radical Wellness ended.  Just like that, another January had begun.  Last year I had a very clear focus, I had a plan, and I fulfilled on that plan.  This year, things felt different.  Things WERE different.  Most notably, January has brought a major slowing down, a shift in perspective.  For me and for my family, January has represented a rebalancing in many ways.  What that looks like and feels like in many ways is that we’ve gone “off track.”  After drinking no alcohol for 12 months, drinking even 2 glasses of wine feels like too much.  We’ve eaten lots of pizza and not enough veggies (except for that one week Jerry & I went on a kale salad bender…good while it lasted).  We’ve had two weeks worth of illness, my kids have missed 5 1/2 days of school, I’ve canceled more plans in the last 3 weeks than I did in the previous 3 months.  I’ve been in the middle of quite a few short-term projects for quite a few weeks, yet I’m one of those people who has, many times, sacrificed sleep rather than stop in the middle of a project.  I caught up on schoolwork, caught up on sleep, caught up on Empire.  I registered domain names, created websites, ordered business cards.  I’ve spent more time and energy dwelling in creating the future (thanks to Mike Dooley’s 30 Day Infinite Possibilities Project) than I’ve spent “doing” the tasks in the present.  My house is a mess, we haven’t eaten at the dining room table all month, and our second garage bay is filled with bikes and scooters and Cub Scout supplies instead of our Jeep (and it’s starting to snow).

By the end of last week, I started to get uncomfortable.  Although I knew that my intention for January was to retreat, withdraw, catch up on school, slow down, work on launching my health coaching business, etc., the reality of what that felt like was a bit disconcerting.  Sometimes when our intentions become reality, it can feel uncomfortable.  We have to grow into a new reality.  To get to that new reality, we have to let go of beliefs and behaviors that are familiar, but that will no longer serve us as we create something different.  For someone like myself who is what you may call a Type A personality (just a little bit), someone who is used to being “on track,” that has meant getting comfortable with being “off track.”  This isn’t a new theme for me.  After graduating from Harvard cum laude in 1998, working an average of 3 jobs at any given time, and sleeping an average of 4-5 hours/night for years, I spent the next two years working ONE job (in a restaurant that didn’t open until 4pm), slowing down, and catching up on sleep.  I slept for HOURS and HOURS those two years.  I’m sure I thought there was something wrong, but at some point I realized that it was just the laws of physics at play once again.  What goes up must come down.  I needed some yin to balance my yang.

Fast forward to September 2006.  Dylan was breech, and I was scheduled for a c-section on the Tuesday after Labor Day.  I packed up my desk the Friday before, enjoyed one last beach-filled, sun-soaked San Diego weekend with friends, and checked into Scripps La Jolla as scheduled.  But–I was self-employed as a loan officer, and I had five loans in process when he was born.  Jerry had just started at his current company 3 months prior, and for the past few years I had been the primary breadwinner (does anyone else dislike that word?).  The future of babies and nursing and diapers was quite foreign to me; working was my comfort zone.  I remember calling clients from the hospital while I was on a morphine drip and Dylan was in the NICU with a breathing issue.  Yeah.

So here I am, January 2016.  2015 brought MANY changes, and all change, good and bad, requires some adjustment…physical, emotional, psychological.  Sometimes that adjustment may look like physical illness in the body, or a pull towards whatever we’ve been depriving ourselves of.  We may have emotional breakdowns or explosions.  We will likely need time and space to process through the happenings and changes of life.  It’s okay and it’s normal, and resisting it just drags things out.  So I choose to give in.  I give myself permission to be where I am, rather than fight it.  I’m taking January 2016 for what it is:  I’m not making it wrong or making myself wrong or making my experience wrong.  With six days left in January I’m giving being “off track” all I’ve got; from where I stand, that should leave me right on track.
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I certainly have a lot of pictures from January, considering I didn’t feel like we did too much…

 

Winter cuddles with my buddies

Dylan earned his yellow belt in karate

Jerry learned how to play Pokemon so that he could crush the spirits of all the neighborhood children in epic battles

This was during our week of salads…it was good while it lasted!

Coop belly

This kid’s belly is GIGANTIC…always has been

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Midday wine, carbs, and Empire


Cousin Jen & I visited Aunt Riri’s grave on a blustery January day

 

I did my time at Chuck E Cheese this month…and caught up on a lot of schoolwork!

Squamster!!

 

Posted in Daily Life, Life Passages, Motherhood, Personal Growth, Reflections, Sufficiency, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Energy of Yellow

If I look back over the years, I find that my mood on New Year’s Eve can be just as varied as our plans.  At times I’ve been excited and celebratory:  out with the old, in with the new. Other years have left me feeling exhausted and worn-out from the busy-ness of Christmas and the responsibilities of raising two kids.  On New Year’s Eve 2012, I remember feeling a profound sadness in the aftermath of the December 14th shooting at Sandy Hook.  Although I was surrounded by my husband and some of my best friends, listening to one of my favorite bands, feelings of joy and celebration were not easy to come by that year. Considering the lives that had been forever altered just 2 1/2 weeks before, it felt like the least I could do to have a more subdued New Year’s Eve.

Some years bring big changes, and as December turns to January I eagerly move from celebration mode into the heart of winter, knowing that as the earth lies dormant, I too may find some quiet time to process the thoughts, emotions and experiences of the previous year.  2015 was one of those years for me.  I intended it to be, and it did not disappoint.  The woman stepping forward into 2016 is a more self-actualized human than the woman who stumbled into 2015.  To feel that one has made a shift in one’s life, that one is now more clearly on the path of fulfilling one’s potential–how to make that shift without experiencing some emotional challenges and disturbing the ground beneath us and those around us?  I don’t think it’s possible, nor desirable.  Emotional ups and downs are part of the yin and yang of life, they adhere to the laws of physics:  what goes up must come down.  They can, however, be confronting and disorienting when we are caught up in the energy of them, they can feel like ‘something is wrong.’  That was the state of my psyche as I walked into Madison Square Garden on December 31, 2015.

If you’ve read my blog before, you will know that my husband, friends and I are avid concert-goers.  As my friend Carra describes it, music is her religion.  We gather in large arenas and crowded clubs, and as we prepare to worship you can feel the excitement in the air.  Over the last two decades, late December into early January has found many members of our congregation at a Phish show.  My last New Year’s Eve show was a warm-weather extravaganza in Miami as 2003 became 2004.  Since Phish disbanded in 2004 in a search for their own self-actualization, and regrouped in 2009 after motherhood had become part of my journey, securing the tickets, transportation and childcare necessary to be physically present on 12/31 has become a bit more difficult.  With a 9-month old at home, I was thrilled to sneak away to Worcester on 12/27/2010 for an early celebration, both of Phish-loving friend Neil’s birthday (12/29) and the ringing in of the New Year.  With the advances of technology, we music fans can stream the live broadcasts of our favorite bands in the comfort of our own homes (#couchtour).  More than once I’ve shimmied away the last hours of the year alongside friends and family, generating our own version of the New Year’s celebration, and adding our own vibes to the waves of energy that are passing among Phish and their phans, wherever they may be.

It had been a while since I had seen Phish live.  Their 2014 and 2015 tours included just one stop in New England, and although my husband Jerry was able to travel for a few shows, I opted to stay home and hold down the fort.  During these past two years we’ve tuned into other great bands; our places of worship have included many smaller venues in the greater Providence and Boston area.  But I suppose a big year calls for a big blowout, and when the New Year’s run at Madison Square Garden was announced, Jerry and I made our plans.  As fortune would have it, we secured New Year’s Eve tickets in the public sale on October 2nd; the rest of the plans flowed from there.  We pushed our New Year’s plans to the background as we focused on the intensity of the fall season, revisiting them as needed but saving our excitement and anticipation until our own holiday run was behind us, and we could grant ourselves permission to feel free.

As the end of 2015 approached, rather than feel satisfied with my accomplishments and excited for the New Year’s Eve festivities, I felt trapped on an emotional roller coaster inside my head.  As I’ve told many a friend in the past, “Your head is a bad neighborhood–don’t go there alone.”  Yet I was ignoring my own advice.  The journey that was 2015 continued to gain momentum as the year progressed, and I continued to seek clarity and understanding of all that had occurred, and of my successes and failings in how I handled the multitude of challenges that arose.  Often, though, clarity cannot be gained by continuing to poke and probe and search.  Sometimes we need to just let it be, and in the quiet space that opens up, we will come to understand that which eluded us until we shut off our flashlight.

Having been to quite a few musical experiences in my lifetime, I know that my headspace and comfort level can make a huge difference in my experience at the show.  My comfort level touches upon everything from the shoes I have on, to the energy of the other people at the show, to where my kids are staying while I’m out having fun.  My headspace includes all that stuff, along with everything else that you can imagine it would.  The amount of activity that goes on in my head at any one moment can be both a blessing and a curse.  One of the things I love most about listening to live music is that it brings me out of my head and into the present moment, into my body.  The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary describes “losing yourself in something” as “to become so interested in something that it takes all your attention.”  There’s  no time to fret about the little things in life when you’re fully engaged in the magic happening in front of you.  Any discomfort I may feel in my being or headspace experiences an equal and opposite pull towards losing myself in the music.  The music wins as long as I allow myself to let go.

And so here we are…New Year’s Eve, 2015.  I’ve got all this stuff looming over me.  I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to let it go.  I was worried about our seats (they weren’t great, and I knew Jerry would want to find a spot closer to the action; I don’t like to infringe on others’ space–it can lead to that issue of discomfort).  I was fretting over the future, rather than living in the moment.  Or, in Phish speak, “Things are falling down on me, heavy things I could not see; when I finally came around, something small would pin me down.”

We spent the first of three sets trying to lock down a good location.  Our ticketed seats were about five rows from the back of the venue, filled with smoke and loud with chatter. It was crowded and the sound was terrible.  But this is a Phish show and, much to the chagrin of the event staff, we look at aisles as free for the claiming.  We managed to claim some prime aisle space near our friends; we made new friends as we introduced ourselves to the people we would be sharing energy and space with for the close of 2015.  We endured several sweeps from the security guards, one of which resulted in an eviction from section 116; but we knew they couldn’t fight the battle all night, and said eviction turned into a well-timed bathroom break as I saw the security guards leaving our adopted section just as I exited the ladies’ room.  We made our way back down to Erin, Matt, Neil (different Neil) and Beth Anne 😉, our new found friends at the ends of the aisles we danced next to.  At Phish shows, generosity abounds; our aisle buddies made space for us to tuck in when the security guards came a-knockin’ and they let us use their tickets to get back in after beverage or bathroom runs.

Phish songs are rarely played on the radio, but they can sell out four nights at Madison Square Garden in a matter of minutes.  Why is that?  To the non-phan, the lyrics may seem silly, bordering on ridiculous.  A song all about a possum being run over?  Yup.  A song focused on characters with lumpy heads?  Absolutely.  Musical jams that can easily top 10 minutes or more?  It happens regularly.  There are multiple websites where Phish fans flock to study and weigh in on the various meanings of all things Phish.  There are people (or software, I hope!) who track when songs were last played and keep a running tally of which songs were played when.  I’m not one of those phans, although I do track the shows I’ve attended:  my current total is 31 since July of 1999, which pales in comparison to some of our pals, who are well into the triple digits.  I do enjoy myself a good live Phish show.  I’ll admit, when I walked into MSG on 12/31/15 I felt a little rusty.  Not only had I not seen Phish in a while, but we haven’t been listening to them too much.  I was in my funky headspace.  With such an intense year under my belt, I had enough wherewithal to pick up a sequined shirt, but not enough mental energy to put towards anything fancier or sillier than that.

And then the show began.  And I remembered why I’ve so happily joined Jerry at Phish shows, and why I always come back.  Trey, Page, Mike and Jon are masters at elevating the energy in a room.  They pull out the best in us.  What that looks like to the untrained eye is a bunch of aging hippies twirling their hands through the air.  What that feels like when you’re a part of the music?  It feels like your soul is being elevated.  Like your spirit is healing.  About halfway through the show, I felt a profound sense of peace.  My perspective totally shifted, I realized I had stopped worrying, and I knew exactly what to do to clear up any unresolved tension.  That, my friends, is the gift of a Phish show, and that is why we always come back.

New Year’s Eve shows have an extra promise included, some sort of jazzy excitement to look forward to.  In 1994 they flew around Boston Garden in a giant hot dog.  In 2013 the band brought a replica (or was it real?) of their first equipment truck onto the floor of Madison Square Garden, and played the second set on top of the truck, complete with original equipment.  This year Phish set up a second stage and started their third set there, until a funnel-shaped screen came down over them, hiding them from view and allowing them to return to the original stage.  And then midnight came, and along with it came the yellow.  Balloons fell from the ceiling, and yellow squares of tissue paper were shot from the stage, over and over and over again.

Admittedly, I gravitate towards yellow.  I grew up in a yellow bedroom, I live in a yellow house, my nickname is “Yell-o” or “Yell-bell” in some circles, I even carried a yellow purse with me to the show.  When I asked my husband if he noticed all the yellow at the show, he looked at me blankly.  That would be a no.  I think some people were disappointed that the stunt wasn’t more fancy.  In my mind, Phish must adhere to the laws of physics as well:  what goes up must come down.  You can’t always ride a giant hot dog around the arena.  At its most basic, music is energy.  Phish are masters of affecting energy.  And yellow is the color of joy, of hope, and of sunshine.  What better way to ring in 2016 than to be surrounded by those emotions and feelings as we ride the wave of another Phish tune.

As I sit in my home office space looking out at the frozen tundra of my backyard, I keep my square of yellow close.  We are still in the beginning of a shiny new year…anything seems possible against the backdrop of a fresh early January.  But as the challenges of the year crop up as we know they will, I will look to my patch of yellow to guide me, to remind me that all is well.  All is at peace.  And it’s okay to let go.

May 2016 bring you love and light and the strength to face all of your challenges.

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My little patch of yellow


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Woof


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A monkey, flanked by two mystery animals…one of which is Irish.  And the other which looks remarkably like our new guinea pig Fluffy…but will forever be known as a Squamster.


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#somanyeyes


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Tricksters


caldy NYE

Pure joy from Mr. Calderon, aka The Mayor


carra view NYE

Carra and company’s view from the floor


Elise view NYE

Elise and Vikas’s view from above


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Our view from the best non-seats ever.  Hello, Yellow.

A special thank you to Neil & Jenny, who actually had seats in section 116 and let us use their tickets to get in the door; our aisle buddies Erin & Matt and Neil & Mary Beth (or Beth Anne, as I like to call her); the many employees of Madison Square Garden who welcome the Phish freaks back every year and eventually stop trying to get us to behave; Carra and Elise for letting me post their pictures; Jerry for being the yang to my yin; my friends for being so “awesome & funny,” always; my mom and brother for showing my children a good time while I partied it up at MSG; and to you, for reading.

 

Posted in Energy, Friendships, Music, New Year's Eve, Phish, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Logic Interferes with Intuition

I’ve got a craving lately.  Picture:  a hot bath, a good book, a warm blanket.  The mood and atmosphere present:  serenity and silence.  The chosen activity:  withdraw, retreat, reflect.

In my training to be a health coach we look at cravings as a tool to understand what is out of balance.  They are your body speaking to you.  Often times when people crave food, it’s a substitute for something else that they’re missing.  We eat so that we don’t feel lonely.  We drink so that we can ignore that we’re in a relationship that doesn’t work for us.  We smoke because it gives us permission to take a break at work and experience a moment of solitude.

We’re entering the holidays, a time of year that can feel very conflicting for people, myself included.  This “most wonderful time of the year” carries with it a folklore that suicides spike around Christmastime.  I’ve bought into that belief for many years, and just learned a moment ago that it’s false (according to studies by the people who study such things).  I think it says a lot about our culture that we have created this myth and that we perpetuate it.  It speaks to the yin and yang we feel as we enter the winter season.  We spend more time with family–which can be a blessing and a curse.  I feel like the holidays have the potential to bring out a manic side of people.  Sometimes we get manic in a good way, sometimes…not so much.  I feel like there’s a societal and cultural pressure for every Christmas to be better than the last, to choose (or make!) the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, to throw a party with the right amount of both fancy and fun.  If you’re from a divorced family like both myself and my husband are, there are many schedules to coordinate, many people to please.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing (talking to you mom, dad, Lorry and Jerry 😉), it just means that the holidays for me involve a lot of logistics, they have from a very young age, and they likely will for as long as I walk this Earth as Danielle Cleary.

When I think back on the ghosts of Christmas Past, there’s one Christmas in particular that stands out for me.  It draws my attention and my longing and I dream out loud to Jerry about recreating that Christmas.  I don’t remember what year it was, maybe 2004 or 2005?  Definitely before babies, and probably after Phish broke up for a bit (we often align our travels with seeing music).  The Christmas that I yearn for is the one that Jerry and I spent hiking in Joshua Tree National Park.  We stayed in Palm Springs, I remember putting our few Christmas presents underneath the fake plant in our motel room.  We spent most of the day in the park, probably packed a picnic lunch, definitely brought some wine.  It was quiet, we encountered just a few other hikers on our journeys.  One thing I loved about living in Southern California is that it’s SO different than New England.  That contrast also made me long for New England while I was living in Southern California.  But what a trip it is for a native New Englander to experience the desert, to hear the electric energy in the air, to see flora and fauna that just don’t exist in the part of the world I hail from.

Whenever people came out to visit me, I made it a point to bring them to the desert.  For me, visiting the desert was a spiritual journey.  The heat, the quiet, the landscape both barren and alive with energy.  Cell phones didn’t work and the likelihood you’d run into someone on a Tuesday afternoon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park weren’t very high.  Of course, that meant if you got into trouble…it could get interesting.  I took my brother out for a visit once, and my trusty little Hyundai Sonata got stuck on a rock.  As I drove over it, my car got wedged on top of the rock, specifically my gas tank or something else I deemed important (this was 12 years ago now, my memory is a bit fuzzy).  We were faced with the challenge of removing ourselves from the rock without removing or piercing a hole in the part of the undercarriage that was stuck.  We made it off the rock and made it home in one piece (as did my Hyundai) but we were shaping up to be in the kind of situation that Dateline specials are made of.

There are aspects of the yang desert energy that don’t appeal to me.  In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang represent two opposite yet complementary forces.  We need them to be in balance in order to experience health and wellness.  Yin is a feminine energy, its defining qualities are:  cool, dark, moist, moon/night, passive, intuition, up, female, sensitive, expansive, and future.  Yang is known as a masculine energy, its defining qualities are:  hot, light, dry, sun/day, active, logic, down, male, strong, contractive, past.  Over time the extreme dryness of the desert makes me feel like my whole body is parched.  This New England girl never quite adapted to the hot days that turned into freezing cold nights.  I’m from the land where when it’s hot, it’s hot all damn day and night, and you didn’t need 6 different changes of clothes or multiple layers to survive a 24 hour period.  And when it’s cold here, it’s cold.  I missed hot and humid summer August evenings, although I sure did love watching the Super Bowl outdoors and celebrating Easter with a picnic by the bay.

Flash back to present day, and I see that I have a deep longing for the spiritual energy of the desert.  Ask any of my friends and they will tell you I’m a “busy” person.  I create busy, I attract busy, it’s both a pleasure and a burden for me.  I love the feeling of connecting with people, I love making a difference in the lives of others, I love me some positive energy and a good time.  It took a long time, however, to honor my need for yin energy.  I can remember walking into my dorm room one afternoon my senior year in college.  As a full-time Harvard student who juggled up to four jobs at any given point in my college career, it was a rare afternoon where I found myself with nothing to do.  On this particular day, my common room was empty of roommates, so I headed downstairs to visit our friends in the “8-Man” (yes, 8 men lived there).  Nobody there either.  This was before the time of cell phones and texting; if people weren’t home, that was that.  I may have looked further for someone to hang out with, that piece of the story hasn’t stuck with me, but what HAS stuck with me was this overwhelming feeling that I MUST find people to be with.  The thought of being by myself, in my room, with my own thoughts, was unbearable.

For someone who had built a life on DOING, BEING was unbearable.  You want to get shit done?  Call me.  I’ll do it.  It may crush my spirit, but I can produce.  I may resent you every step of the way, but I’ll do whatever I can to check things off that list.  Except…except.  Lately?  Maybe not.  You see, I’ve got this craving.  And it seems to have coincided with my kids both entering school full time.  And it seems to be that the more I feed it, the more I want it.  It was always there, whether I acknowledged it or not.  It’s that craving that drives me to “consume” books, like when I read all of the books in the Game of Thrones Series (4,273 pages) in a 60 day span in 2012.  It’s that craving that makes escaping into a hot bath one of my favorite relaxation activities (especially in winter).  And although I actively disliked running for most of my life, it’s that craving that made me appreciate running as a moving meditation, one that allowed me to escape and be free of other people’s (especially little people’s) needs and chatter, whether for 50 minutes or just 15.

So here we are, on the first day of the last month of 2015.  24 more shopping days ’til Christmas, 30 days left to hit your sales goals (I’m married to a salesman), and how are you doing with all those things you said you were going to do this year?  There are parties to plan, cookies to bake, cards to mail, presents to wrap.  I find myself wanting to escape from all of it.  At the very least, I’m resisting getting caught up in it.  The logical yang side of me wants to make this craving wrong.  Who has time to sit on the couch and read when there is so much to do and so little time to do it?  Although I felt a very strong pull this afternoon to sit down and write to process through the thoughts running through my head, that too was an exercise in contradiction.  I just wrote and published a blog entry last weekend.  I should be doing something else with my time.  Who has time to read any of this stuff around this time of year anyway?

As it turns out, I listened to my intuition, the yin side of me, the side that I’m learning to love and respect and honor this year.  By allowing for more balance in my life, I’m now craving it.  The Christmas spent in Joshua Tree National Park was special because it honored that side of me that was long neglected.  It’s a special moment in my past, and it has many lessons for me if I slow down long enough to notice them.  What I’m finally starting to understand is that I don’t need to head to the desert on Christmas Day to meet my need for quiet and solitude; with young kids, I can’t imagine that would be appropriate or enjoyable.  But where can I bring the energy of the desert into my New England December?  When can I quiet the voices in my head, the voices that are judging and critiquing how I spend my time this month?  How can I meet my needs and still meet the needs of those around me?

I don’t have the answers yet; I may not ever have them.  And if I figure something out this year, it likely won’t apply next year (ahh, the beauty of living a dynamic and ever-changing life).  The value is in the inquiry.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  This December, I’m choosing to let my intuition rule over my logic, to honor my needs rather than make them wrong, to create space for quiet reflection regularly.  What will you create this December?

P.S.  After writing this, I’ve been reflecting more on my draw to the desert.  In April 2002, Jerry proposed to me in the desert.  We got up super early on our dating anniversary, drove to the desert, and hiked to an oasis.  He asked me to marry him as the sun rose.  In April 2006, we took our babymoon to the Sedona, Arizona, and drove through lots of desert to get there.  Until I sat down to write this I had totally dismissed and forgotten the role the desert played in my life.  Are there any parts of yourself that you’ve forgotten about that, if remembered, would reignite your soul?

TBTwDYlan

Me and 2-year-old Dylan in a December escape to Florida

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Cub Scout Pack 32 marching in our town’s annual holiday parade on Sunday.

 

It’s funny because it’s true! I love Anne Taintor’s stuff.

 

Posted in Energy, Health, Personal Growth, Reflections, Wellness, Year of Radical Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doing more of the Stuff that lets me BE.

My soul was itchy.

When I think about what started my Year of Radical Wellness, that’s the best way I can describe it.  There was nothing “wrong” per se.  But just because nothing is wrong doesn’t mean there isn’t a different place to be.

I spent 7 years as a full-time stay at home mom with some part time self-expressions.  Some activities or commitments started as self expressions and as my life and responsibilities changed, they felt more like burdens.  At some point along the way I gave myself permission to let go of those things that didn’t serve me, so I could focus on those that did.

Over the last 2 years I’ve been shifting into part-time stay at home mom mode, re-entering the “outside of the home” work force, sending my youngest son off to preschool.  Engaging in this process has been like finding a favorite pair of jeans from long ago.  I love them, but they don’t fit.  Or maybe they fit, but they don’t really look that good because after birthing two children my body has changed shape.  Getting rid of them just doesn’t feel right because I REALLY loved them once, they were my favorite jeans, I wore them for many important (and not so important) milestones.  But yet…they don’t work for me anymore, I don’t feel good about myself when I put them on, and let’s face it, life is different now.  What am I trying to hold onto?

Going back to work after seven full years at home was kind of a big deal.  The last time I worked in an office was in San Diego in 2006, the 2nd of two jobs I held in the mortgage business.  You can imagine how that was going–in 2006 in Southern California, it was a good time to get out.  I had never clocked in anywhere since I took on the responsibility of having children, and most of my post-college working life was spent in a climate where it didn’t snow.  So many changes to adjust to!

As scary as it was to figure out what to do and where to work, being out of the game for so long came with its own blessings.  I understood myself better than I did before I had children.  I knew I wanted to spend my time somewhere that I could make a difference in the world.  Although I was unclear about many aspects of the job I wanted to take, I was very clear about my need for flexibility and the ability to work for a company that supported my need to put my family first.  I spent some time journaling and “creating” my job in my mind and on paper, and then I went looking.  I was fortunate to have a friend who enthusiastically recommended me to his company, and they became my first employer in seven years.  It was rocky at times, and uncomfortable.  It took me a few re-workings to create a schedule that worked for all of us and didn’t make Jerry want to punch holes in the wall.  I questioned my purpose there, created a purpose for myself, and when I felt I had fulfilled upon that purpose, I knew it was time to move on.

How did I know?  Well, my soul got itchy.  As Maya Angelou so eloquently said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  In the early years of my children’s lives, I gave myself permission to focus on the task at hand, to allow raising my kids to be my number one priority.  I pushed non-essential activities aside and cut myself some slack.  I tried to be at peace with the mantra “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.”  These adjustments came with their own learning curve and bouts of discomfort, and things sometimes unfolded in a way that I didn’t plan for or expect, but I knew that I would never regret those early years spent nurturing and raising my children…even if I sometimes felt like I needed a cocktail before noon, or like I couldn’t possibly push Percy around the track ONE. MORE. TIME.

As I tried on the role of “Danielle, working mother” I was both excited and nervous.  I knew in my gut that I needed to be back out in the world, I needed an outside perspective on the skills I had developed and honed over my years at home.  It’s easy to lose perspective on our skill set when we spend our days generating structure and scheduling activities for the discerning taste of two children under the age of five.  But, just like those jeans I loved pre-pregnancy…how would everything fit?  Would I still be able to rock them?  Or would I find that, just like my jeans, life was different now and things didn’t quite work the same?

As it turns out, both statements are true.  My years of creating a peaceful and structured home did translate into real skills in the marketplace.  It felt good to have outside adults appreciate what I brought to the table.  And yet, that could only take me so far.  My inner story still had yet to be told.  It would wait for me to get some external validation, enough to make me appreciate what I had been creating over my years at home and to see that the qualities I took for granted in myself were the very qualities I would use to make the difference I yearned to make in the world.  Once I had fulfilled upon my purpose at my chosen job, that’s when I started to get uncomfortable.  I could ease the discomfort with some well-placed wine and chocolate, but I’ve spent too many years cultivating my intuition to ignore it for long.  And so I wrote.  And when I wrote, it became clear to me…the time had come to start telling my story.

How do we do that?  How do we connect to that which is our unique gift and purpose on this planet?  What steps do we take?  For me, it became about DOING more stuff that allowed me to BE.  I believe the soul lives in the plane of being.  The soul is not out on a Friday night, throwing back shots of peppermint schnapps and hitting on the bouncer, although I’m certain that my soul played a part in my body going out to do that; 17+ years later, the bouncer and I are still going strong.  The soul is present in the quiet moments, in the times of reflection, self-awareness and peace.  I’m a “do-er” by nature, and being still has never come easy for me.  Fortunately, in my experience, those deep soul connections don’t need to take a lot of time out of our lives to be able to make a huge impact.  I’ve been able to create a pretty fantastic life with spotty attempts at meditation and sporadic attention to harnessing the creative power of the Universe.  Walking through this Year of Radical Wellness, I’ve become more aware of my actions, of my daily activities, and how they add up to the life that I’m creating.  Through this awareness, I’ve also become aware of my penchant for “doing” and although that can be useful in many situations, I was clear that it wouldn’t help me to BE a more authentic version of myself.  So I focused on DOING things that would let me BE.  Here are the activities that allow me to be:  cultivating my self-expression through writing; dancing to music that moves me; practicing Bikram yoga; and listening to guided meditations.  As we enter the fullness of the holiday season, I know I can find peace through connecting with friends, cuddling with my cat, preparing healthy food to share, and spending time in nature.  By choosing the right activities, I can honor my body’s need for doing as a way to access my soul’s need to be.

Just last week I came across those favorite jeans from so long ago.  I pulled them out of a bag headed for the consignment shop (where they’ve been for about 3 years–clearly not one of my strengths).  For the first time in 8 years they actually fit me, better than many of the pants in my closet do at the moment.  BUT….  But.  Life is different now.  I’m different.  Just because those jeans fit doesn’t mean I’ll choose to wear them.  Just because a path is familiar doesn’t mean we have to keep walking down it.

May the completion of 2015 bring you peace, joy, an understanding of what makes your soul itch, and the strength to forge a new path.

Coop&Lady11.2015

Cuddle Buddies.

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This bouncer prefers his turkeys with bacon jackets.

ladycuddles

Lady can get comfortable anywhere.

 

Posted in Daily Life, Energy, Life Passages, Motherhood, Personal Growth, Reflections, Year of Radical Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Boundaries of the Box

As a little girl, I remember how special I felt when I received my very first jewelry box.  My magic box had a spinning ballerina and played a little tune when opened.  I imagine I received that prized possession around the time I first got my ears pierced, another rite of passage for many little girls.  Over the years, my choice of jewelry organizers and their contents has evolved along with my love (obsession?) with boxes to contain and organize my life.

I’ve often joked that i’m the opposite of claustrophobic–I LOVE a small space that contains everything I need right there.  Freud would likely say it’s a throwback to being in the womb–the ultimate in warmth and safety, a space where our needs are met without us needing to even express them.  As a kid I was obsessed with airplane bathrooms (so tiny and yet so functional!) and with my brother I dreamed up bunk bed designs that had walls and doors and everything we needed in an enclosed and cozy space.

Why such a fascination with enclosed structures?  I find it comforting to know the exact dimensions of objects and spaces.  I like to know where things begin and where they end.  I love compartments and drawers and places to store stuff.  It puts my mind and soul at ease to have a place for everything and everything in its place.

I’ve started to realize lately that this tendency towards a neat and organized life extends beyond my physical world.  I yearn to apply it to my relationships, my children, my career. How lovely when the expectations are neatly laid out, and we know what measures we need to reach, and by when, in order to make the grade.  I love step-by-step instructions and how-to videos, especially in areas where I have limited experience or expertise.

The culture we live in today supports this trend of organizing ourselves via boxes.  36-45? Check.  Married?  Check.  Caucasian?  Check.  But what about those areas that are less clear?  Or what happens when the box we’re in serves to stifle us rather than support us?

Looking back, there are times in my life that worked really well under clear parameters.  I could wrap my brain around college:  4 years, one major, $X of financial aid.  The path was well laid out with class syllabi and a core curriculum.  The college experience is designed to be a time of growth and development, a stretching of wings, but all done within well-defined boundaries.  I went off to Harvard prepared to have the experience of a lifetime, expecting to grow, ready to expand my horizons and broaden my perspective.  I did all of that and thrived within the guidelines set forth.  The Harvard “box” was large enough for me to explore adulthood and experience independence, but not too large that I got lost.

As my undergraduate experience drew to a close, life got a little scary.  I lined up a job for the summer immediately following graduation–I would be working at a summer program for youth in the Cambridge area–but beyond that I was at a loss.  I had spent so much of my life focused on getting to Harvard (it was my dream and goal since age 6), I hadn’t considered what came next.  Many of my classmates entered the world of investment banking and consulting, some went on to pursue graduate degrees or teach in other countries.  I moved into my boyfriend’s dorm room (he was a year behind me in school).  When I saw former classmates in Harvard Square, I crossed the street to avoid the dreaded question:  “So where are you now?”  If I didn’t dodge my acquaintance quickly enough, I would reply:  “Oh, I stayed local.”  I’m pretty sure “I share an extra-long twin bed in Winthrop House” isn’t the answer anyone was looking for from a recent Harvard grad.

Fortunately, the guy I asked out over a keg two months before graduation turned out to be a good catch, and he became my partner in creating the next stage of my life.  Our relationship became the “box” or structure that would continue to support and guide me.  Together we moved to California, started multiple businesses, bought our first condo, adopted two cats.  We created two children, shared seven different addresses, lost one home to foreclosure, danced at too many concerts to count.  In 2015, we celebrated 10 years of marriage.  As a family we agreed that I would stay home and raise the small humans, which can be a lonely and challenging proposition.  When we moved back to New England in 2007 (eight months after our first son was born), Jerry’s company allowed him to work from home; how wonderful to have another adult human to interact with and be supported by while I was in the trenches of early motherhood.

2015 promised to bring great changes…or, rather, I started 2015 with an idea that threatened to make me uncomfortable.  At 38, the only box that seems to change these days is my age.  We’ve had our kids.  We’ve bought the home we plan to raise our kids in.  I’ve gotten used to checking the same boxes.  From my perspective, there were no changes hovering on the horizon that would be profound enough to cause me to check off a different box.  There are times in life when we’re on a journey and it’s easily recognized by both ourselves and the outside world.  We accept the journey, we embrace it, we roll with it.  College was like that for me.  I imagine joining the military is like that for some people.  Studying abroad, moving cross-country, getting married.  All of those are journeys that we enter into with an understanding that things won’t always turn out as we expected, but that’s part of the experience.

And then there are those times when we sense that we should have arrived already, dammit.

Living a life where the boxes aren’t expected to change much has left me with the false idea that if I’m sailing the same seas, I should know how to navigate them.  As I move forward through the undertakings of my life, I find myself asking:  “Shouldn’t I have this figured out already?”; “Why is this still so hard?”; “Am I ever going to get a handle on all the papers that come home from school?”; and “Will my household projects ever get done?”

I sent my little guy off to Kindergarten this year.  I feel like I should be able to check a new box for that, but I haven’t come across one yet.  Instead I’m forced to navigate the much more confusing question of whether or not I’m “employed.”  I certainly haven’t been hanging out watching re-runs of “Small Wonder” and “Who’s the Boss?” for the last 9 years.  And yet our culture doesn’t consider it “employment” when a parent steps out of the workforce to give their days and nights to wiping endless snotty noses and bums.

So, back to my uncomfortable idea.  By the end of 2014, I was feeling restless.  Life was good, but I sensed that there was something else to reach for.  It wasn’t anything that I would find by staying safely within the clearly defined and visible boxes of my life.  What was there for me to discover existed in a different realm, one just outside of our vision. We can feel its presence, but until we create from that realm and move our dreams into reality, we can’t “see” the fruits of our labor.  As 2014 came to a close, I stepped into that realm of the unknown, the land where we throw our hat over the fence knowing that we will then have to go pursue it.  Once I allowed myself to pursue one small dream (starting my blog–I posted my first entry in September 2014), it was like I gave myself permission to pursue more and bigger dreams.  I realized that, with my little guy heading off to all-day Kindergarten in the fall of 2015, I’d have some time to fill.  And one thing I have learned in my 9 years as a stay-at-home mom is that if I don’t fill my time intentionally, it will get filled with things like never-ending piles of laundry and dishes.  So I made a plan to pursue another dream that I had been cultivating for a few years, to get certified as an Integrative Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  I gave my five month notice at work and started laying my plans and dreaming more dreams.

I realized that if 2015 was the year I was going to really go for it, I wanted to “up my game” in all areas of my life.  Why not, right?  If life doesn’t hand us different boxes to check, may as well create our own!  I created a “Year of Radical Wellness” for myself…what that would look like was yet to be determined.  I knew that to be radically and radiantly “well,” I would have to give up drinking for the year.  My ancestors and I have a long and troubled relationship with alcohol; it seemed best just to put it aside for the time being.  No need to keep anything around that may muddy the waters.  January 2015 arrived, and I weighed in, logged in, took some pictures.  I blogged about my upcoming adventure, did regular video updates on my phone (for myself), wrote down my experiences of the journey.  I thought I was going to structure things a certain way (I do love my boxes!)…and then I realized that in the land of Radical Wellness, structure isn’t always required or desired.  I gave myself over to listening to my gut, going with the flow, and being in the moment.

Here we are, November 11, 2015.  My Year of Radical Wellness is coming to a close.  There are areas of my life I haven’t yet handled.  I haven’t posted a blog entry in 3 1/2 months.  I fell off the phone video update train sometime in May (I think?).  Months went by without a single weigh-in.  I fell behind in my Integrative Nutrition schoolwork in the summertime, and I still haven’t fully caught up.  I took on more than I could handle, bit off more than I could chew, and forgot I make the rules (that’s the title to a blog entry I started and stopped a few times, couldn’t see it through to completion, maybe you’ll see it next year).

And yet, here I am.  As of today, I’m 17 pounds lighter than I was in January 2015.  I’ve reached a weight that I didn’t think I’d see since having kids.  I’m 2/3 of the way through my certification to become an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (and I started officially seeing clients in August).  In July I cut 10 inches off my hair.  In September I cut it shorter and went blonde.  In 2015 I created a space for myself where it was okay to not have the answers, to make mistakes, and to question my own self-imposed limitations.  I’ve had to say no to some things so that I could say yes to others.  Instead of walking the same old path in the same old shoes, I chose to create a new path.  And I’m still going.

It’s been scary at times.  At times it’s been a bit rocky on the home front.  From August through mid-October I was in a state of deep overwhelm, and I wasn’t the most pleasant person to be around.  I haven’t always handled things with grace and ease, but that is part of the journey too.

The idea for this blog post came when I completed a project I’ve been working on for the last year.  Since we bought our home 3 1/2 years ago, I haven’t felt like my bedroom was a haven for me.  In our first year, it’s where we shoved all the boxes that we didn’t want  visitors to see.  I finally moved the boxes out, but I still felt like it invited clutter.  So I rearranged the furniture.  I tried out different spots for the bed.  I got new shades, and I  searched high and low for yellow curtains.  And then last fall, I realized that the focal point of my dresser, the beloved antique jewelry box I had chosen as a Christmas gift the year we bought our condo in San Diego–well, it no longer served me.

Box from the days of yore...

Box from the days of yore…

It was dark, and what I am seeking is light.  It has lots of drawers and compartments, but what I’m cultivating this year is expansion and maybe even a little bit of chaos.  My trusty jewelry box has kept everything safe and secure for the past 11 years, but what I need right now is an open space where I can see all of my treasures.

so many drawers!

so many drawers!

I was living the principle of keeping the clutter of life locked away, of keeping the door closed on the operations room.  I’m now realizing that the clutter and the behind-the-scenes operations ARE the beauty of life.  Throughout the past year, I sought out jewelry organizers that were art, and that spoke to me at this stage of life.  I asked for them for Christmas, Mother’s Day, my birthday.  I looked on Pinterest, and saved pictures of other people’s projects; people that were likely more crafty than me, and less busy than me, people who most certainly spent their weekends reading “Home & Garden” magazine rather than “Boy’s Life” magazine.  For almost a year I looked for a vase that seemed worthy of being a focal point of my dresser, one that would hold vases and rocks and match my color scheme.  I finally found it when I wasn’t looking (of course).  This 5×1 foot surface of my dresser has become my happy place, my zen timeout, my altar.  Despite what chaos may be going on around me, I can simply walk into my room, look at the result of my year-long transformation, and feel a sense of peace.  The end result of this year of intention and focus is below.  When I challenged the boundaries of the box I was living inside, this is what I created:

Zen Timeout Space

Zen Timeout Space


The Yellow Bird Piece is from Newport Folk Festival

The yellow bird piece is from Newport Folk Festival


Elephants are my spirit animal

Elephants are my spirit animal


My Pinterest project complete!

My Pinterest project complete!

Posted in Life Passages, Motherhood, Personal Growth, Reflections, Wellness, Year of Radical Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments