Going Dark

I’m pretty sure that 10 years ago people didn’t have to “go dark” when they had a down spell. I think we just kept to ourselves a bit. We didn’t accept invitations, certainly didn’t invite anyone over. And then, enter social media.

We live in the age of letting everyone know what you’re doing at all times, so “going dark” ain’t what it used to be. So many of us use social media for business as well as socializing, and that makes it extra tricky. Have you ever had a tough month? A bad quarter? How about a rough year? I’ve had all of those in my lifetime. I think I’ve even had a succession of years that kind of sucked, let’s say 3 or 4 in a row (it’s much easier to look at those with a 15-years-out perspective. While in the midst of it I’m sure I don’t know what the hell was up). I happen to be going through a rough patch right now (length to be determined) and it feels different than when I went through something similar 5 years ago, because now…well, now social media is EVERYWHERE. And what are the rules about all that?

I’ll be honest, I don’t know. I’ve avoided social media as much as possible lately, and have hoped that astute friends would see I’m not posting much and not judge me for it. I’m on social media here and there, bingeing at times (hello, 48 hours post-election). I take care of what I need to. On some days I feel better and you may see some likes from me as I peruse other people’s posts. On other days I lay around in my pajamas and curse the life choices I’ve made. Such is life, eh?

At my family Christmas last week, I spoke to a cousin who said she felt such relief when she recently deactivated her Facebook page. She had 15 friends. I get it. I have over 950. Damn.

We’ve been listening to a lot of Diamond Rugs in our house lately. That may seem like a non sequitur, but their music has felt very relevant lately. At least my kids jam out to their music so we have some positive movement going on.

I spent some time with a dear friend last night, celebrating her birthday. We are on different ends of the parenting spectrum, but both challenged by what’s in front of us. She’s a 5th grade teacher and in our conversation she offered the book “Things Fall Apart” as a source of support, explaining that human suffering is universal, wherever you stand.

This too shall pass. This I know from experience, although as each month drags out it seems interminable. My Christmas wish for myself and all of you: strength, peace, and clarity. Namaste.

(And for non-Yogis who may not understand the full meaning of Namaste–it can be translated as:  “The divine light in me acknowledges the divine light in you.”) ūüôŹūüŹĽ

ADDENDUM:  I feel compelled to add an explanatory note to this post.  There are many aspects to human health.  For some reason, discussing mental health is often taboo while discussing physical health is not.  The fact is:  we all go through ups and downs in our mental wellness, just as we do in our physical wellness.  This post was an acknowledgement of that.  We can’t choose the genes we inherit from our parents.  Knowing we have a family history of heart disease or diabetes can certainly help shape the lifestyle choices we make or the treatments we seek.  The same goes for knowing we have a family history of depression, addiction, or OCD.  I speak openly about the ups & downs of mental wellness in an effort to help normalize it.  I want my two boys to know that going in for a mental health checkup is just as important and available as going in for a physical health checkup.  I don’t want them to feel ashamed about their genetics; I want them to feel empowered about all aspects of their health.  For those of you who reached out to me to check on me or send words of encouragement, I appreciate you.  I’m okay today partly because I was raised in a family that taught me from a young age how to reach out for support when I don’t feel okay.  And for those of you who reached out to me to share that you too have been struggling–thank you for sharing.  You are not alone.

Christmas Pikachu!


Fluffy and Katie LOVE their costumes, can you tell?


Heater hugger extraordinaire


Two Tigers ūüźĮūüźĮ!!

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Posted in Daily Life, Health, Life Passages, Motherhood, Overcoming Challenges, Retreat, Wellness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

#thestruggleisreal

For me, summertime didn’t REALLY exist (in it’s current incarnation) until I had children. Sure, I was once a kid.  And then I grew up and lived in San Diego (where “summer” is a term we use loosely–it’s kind of always summer there).  And THEN…I had a child.  And left San Diego to move back to New England.  And I finally really understood summer.

Summer, although it technically exists in time and space (aka June 20th or so until September 20th or so), it’s really more of a feeling.  It means you don’t have to get up until you want to in the morning.  It means you can make pancakes (or avocado toast, my current fave) for breakfast every  morning if you want to.  It means you can stay up late, eat ice cream every day, and watch stupid TV in the late afternoon instead of doing homework.  Summer = Rest and Play and Fun and BE.

For us, this summer has been a bit odd.  Jerry and I traveled A TON (mostly without the kids and a little bit with the kids).  As I may have mentioned already, I’ve been partying like it’s 2005 (aka before I birthed my first child).  I’ve been to Colorado, Alaska, Vancouver, Seattle, on a Phish run (which is really it’s own stratosphere), and to Newport.  I’m headed for camping, Great Wolf Lodge, Canobie Lake, and laser tag (August is all about the kids).  When I’ve been home I’ve been preparing for the next departure or working my butt off to handle my life in the short time I had available.

And then there was today.  Each boy had a friend over and we went to the pool.  I made all the kids lunch, we all stayed hydrated and protected against the sun, and we even caught some Pokemon on the way to and from, and yet…I spent a good part of the day beating myself up.  In my mind, there were two ways I could spend my time while at the pool–watching webinars on how to improve my website (which is actually something I really need to do) or watching Wentworth (a really good show on Netflix based on an Australian women’s prison–kind of like the Australian Orange is the New Black–thanks for the recommendation Kathy!).  And you know what?  I chose Wentworth.  And then I came home, washed all the towels, sent a child off with his grandmother, and climbed into my bed to drink wine and watch more Wentworth.  Yet I felt guilty that I was doing it.

If I’m truthful with myself, I think this is a struggle that comes up every summer.  And because this summer has been SO FREAKING AWESOME (and full of enriching activities), I’ve avoided it until now.  But here I am, about 1/3 of the way through August, and the “not doing enough” feeling starts to rear it’s ugly head.  I see you, scarcity conversation–and I recognize you for what you are.  Whatever this nonsense is, I promise you it doesn’t exist at the same level in children.  I watched my kids tonight eating nachos and watching stupid TV (in my opinion at least) and they didn’t bat an eyelash at any of it.  So why do we?  Next time I start to get all hung up on wasting a little time here or there (aka the point of summer), I’m going to ask myself WWDCD?  (What would Dylan & Cooper do?)  I have a feeling I would have their approval all day long.

With our dear friend Anne, my mom’s best friend since I was a wee lass.

My boys were on their best behavior on the Amazing Grace, the Newport Harbor tour.

 

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Daddy is the best playground buddy and Pokemon hunter.

This girl.  16 years old and no shame in her game.

Pearl Jam at Fenway Park.  Thank you for 25+ years of memories and an amazing Friday Fenway show!

The Cleary Cousins, circa 1982 or so, 1683 State Road, Plymouth MA.  We tried to recreate this pose in the picture below.

 

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We, the Folk

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~Jimmy Dean

There’s this thing that happens in Newport ’round about the 3rd or 4th weekend in July: ¬†it’s when the folk flow in. We bring with us an energy; you can feel it vibrate all around you as it’s carried on the sound waves from an acoustic guitar. ¬†It’s an energy that stays with you long after you’ve made your last exit through the gates at Fort Adams, an energy that brings with it a not quite asleep, not quite awake, pseudo-dream state, that space where seeds turn into thoughts turn into possibilities turn into visions turn into reality, and maybe it’s all kind of the same anyway in this beautiful triangle where Newport + life + folk music + energy combine.

We flowed through the gates of the Festival bright with the memory of last year’s pinnacle performance. ¬†Would this year’s Folk meet the mark? ¬†As in life and gravity, the laws of physics always apply. ¬†We can’t truly know the highs without the lows; we cannot truly expand unless we are also willing to contract. ¬†What felt exceedingly special about last year’s Festival was the one-ness that occurred on Friday at the Fort as Roger Waters, My Morning Jacket, festival-goers and festival producers joined forces to create an epic performance that will be referenced for many years to come; even the weather got in on the act. ¬†Last year caused a ripple that stretched beyond the bounds of the Newport Triangle; the world took note. Somebody somewhere who has created a system to weigh and measure and distinguish such events as festival experiences thus awarded Newport Folk the Festival of the Year 2015 (as I learned yesterday by skimming a review of 2016’s Festival written by Ben Kaye of The Consequence of Sound). ¬†Did that draw different folk to the Festival this year? ¬†Perhaps. ¬†But it also drew many of the same folk back. ¬†And we folk know how to flow.

At first glance, Newport may seem to be a space like many others where there are clear distinctions between artists and patrons, musicians and fans, producers and attendees. ¬†The fact is, we are all creating, all the time, constantly. ¬†Some expressions vibe on an output level, some vibe more on an intake. ¬†Just as the tree and human body experience is closely interwoven through the exchange of CO2 and oxygen, so too is the life of a musical note given breadth and movement by the physical expression of those around to feel and hear it. ¬†We saw this happen in the Museum Stage on Sunday in the dance hall created by those of us lucky enough to find our way in at just the right time to hear the Savoy Family Cajun Band. ¬†Here in Newport we the folk have got a job to do too. ¬†We help create the space for magic to happen, building off an energy that’s been held in trust by the walls of Fort Adams through the generations, an energy that’s orchestrated and curated by the powers that be of Jay Sweet and company, of production and operations and foundations and advisors and boards. ¬†For all the hours that go into a festival, all the phone calls, meetings, logistics, and details, all we have to do is show up, let go, and receive.

As we step across the hallowed threshold each year, how many of us question if our experience will measure up to the magic of years past? ¬†Magic is funny though, it ebbs and flows and shifts and transforms in its own right. ¬†Maybe my brand of magic isn’t your brand of magic; what delights and mesmerizes me may not do the same for you. ¬†But that’s okay, it’s to be expected–go seek your magic and I’ll seek mine. ¬†My 2016 brand of magic was less likely to be found on the Fort Stage and more likely to be found on the Museum Stage. ¬†It was less likely to be found while crossing familiar paths and more likely to be found in walking where others were not and dancing in the company of strangers. ¬†We found magic in our conversations with vendors, we formed bonds with those we formed lines with, we inspired, delighted and amplified those around us by our beings and our presence and our vibes.

This Folk Festival was more educational for me than in years past. ¬†Drawn to the Museum Stage for the Savoy Family Cajun Band (the highlight of my festival experience), I caught the story of how New Orleans and Newport became forever intertwined when in 1964 the Folk Festival first introduced Cajun music to the world outside of Louisiana, much to our delight. ¬†As the band’s patriarch told it, Cajun music was clouded with a bit of shame in Louisiana in those days; Newport gave it a space to shine as it was received by a whole new audience. ¬†Laissez les bon temps rouler!

The Bob Boilen show at Jane Pickens Theatre on Saturday night was phenomenal. ¬†Our crew can most often be found at Newport Blues Cafe late night, enjoying the company of Deer Tick and Friends, a different kind of master class than “Your Song Changed My Life.” ¬†Bob Boilen’s production, echoing his book of the same name, let us peek into the artists’ minds as they described what brought them to play the kind of music they play and the impact a specific song had on their experience as artists and human beings. ¬†We watched an artist confuse the lines to her favorite song (I didn’t know until you told us, Kam!); she owned it onstage and came back stronger and more present, vulnerable and open, and brought her audience there too. ¬†As Mr. Boilen pointed out, we are all human; when we allow our humanity to shine with our perfect imperfections we often forge our strongest connections.

We can’t ignore the give and take that occurs at the Festival, on all levels, all the time. ¬†We’re responsible for our contributions to the soup. ¬†I love the idea that we get to show up, take part and receive, but also that we get to say. ¬†If we don’t like the vibe we can change it with a smile or a kind thought. ¬†There are those I spoke to that were frustrated by lines or by what they say were newfound inconveniences this year. ¬†As so many have said before me, the only constant in life is change. ¬†The more we flow and the less we resist, the more the shifts in life occur simply as an experience of “where we are now” rather than a traumatic event that we need to get through.

We’ll be back next year no doubt, all with a year’s worth more of experiences under our belt. ¬†We’ll rely on Jay and company to do their job, and we’ll do ours. ¬†I’ll smile at you if we share space at next year’s Festival, and you’ll smile at me, and together we’ll send this message of peace and love and understanding out to the world yet one more time.

Until we meet again…

XO, Danielle









Posted in Energy, Experiences, magic, Music, Newport Folk Festival, Opening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Space to Release

Clench.  Grip.  Tighten.  Hold On.

Relax.  Open.  Loosen.  Release.

And so between two extremes the pendulum swings…back and forth, back and forth. ¬†Or does it?

I just spent a week in Colorado.  The first five days were planned, with almost every hour accounted for, allowing a small amount of time for flexibility and the unexpected.  Jerry and I celebrated 11 years married on Sunday May 29th, and My Morning Jacket was playing at Red Rocks for the weekend.  It was a trip where all the stars aligned:  our flights were free using Southwest miles; we had a free place to stay thanks to the generosity of some friends who were out of town for the holiday weekend; we were hooked up with amazing seats courtesy of our friends who work in music promotion in Denver.

On Friday night we ventured to Boulder.  The ladies we were visiting had booked a Monday through Wednesday trip to Steamboat Springs to unwind and relax after the weekend of music.  They invited me to join them.  A master of spontaneity I am not.  But I DO recognize a gift from the Universe when I see one, and this was clearly that.

For me, the last few months have been all about holding on (at times by a thread). I held onto my 6 year old son as I watched him endure severe pain and undergo surgery for a broken arm. ¬†I held onto my 9 year old’s first pet (Fluffy the guinea pig) as we attempted to rehabilitate her from a fall that threatened to permanently damage her ability to walk. ¬†I had been holding onto fear and worry along with some shame and embarrassment (what kind of parent has two¬†“children” with major limb damage within a 3 week period!?). ¬†While we weathered these most recent storms of life, I clenched my teeth, slept lightly, hugged my cat for therapy, and held onto the knowledge¬†that this too would pass.

We live in a culture that encourages holding on. ¬†“Hang in there!” we say to our friends¬†going through tough times. ¬†We admire perseverance and determination in people. ¬†We celebrate that aspect of our human race that battles on, overcomes, and never says die. ¬†With so much “hanging on,” how do we have space for new energy and experiences to come our way?

When I received the invitation to stay on for a couple of extra days and take a road trip through the mountains to the hot springs with the ladies…how could I say no? ¬†Jerry encouraged me to make it work, and my mom was happy to continue feeding¬†the kids so I could feed my soul. ¬†Jen and Sonya (my Steamboat Springs road-tripping friends) were willing to shift their plans a bit to help make it workable for me. ¬†They planned to leave later on Monday (so I could spend a little more time with Jerry as we closed out our anniversary weekend) and return earlier on Wednesday (so I could make a flight that wouldn’t cost any additional miles).

We set out with an intention to release and renew, to enjoy mountaintop meditations and hot springs massages, to eat great food and drink great wine, to hike and laugh and connect.  We NAILED it.

For me, the RELEASING started in Denver, as I enjoyed a more relaxed schedule, explored the beauty of new scenery, adjusted to the change in altitude, and danced my face off to Tom Petty/Mudcrutch and My Morning Jacket.  The releasing continued in Steamboat Springs as we went with the flow, massaged and soaked out our tensions, and stayed open to magic.

At the core, we are all energy.  By letting go of the energy, emotions, habits and beliefs that no longer serve us, we make way for a new future to open up.  I spent the two days leading up to our Colorado trip cleaning out my closet and drawers, an action that seemed somewhat impractical at the time (how about using those 2 days to pack and get the house and kids set up?!) but now seems perfectly in alignment with what was about to go down.  It was a deep purge, and I cleared out some items from 12+ years ago:  before marriage, before children, back when I was a San Diego resident.  If our drawers are filled with clothes that no longer fit or suit us, how will we make space for those that do match our bodies and style right now?  If our heads and hearts are filled with pain and stress and worry from the experiences of months and years gone by, how will we be free and open to enjoy the wonder of all that life has to offer today?

My first night sleeping in Steamboat Springs, I noticed a few things. ¬†I had some CRAZY lucid dreams, which is apparently quite common when visiting higher altitudes. ¬†I had some difficulty breathing while sleeping that first night, and my normal sleep position (on my side, hugging a pillow or a cat, shoulders hunched) wasn’t going to allow me the space I needed in my lungs to breathe comfortably. ¬†I was forced into a new position, lying on my back with my arms wide open (with an occasional hug for Dan, Sonya’s canine companion, to help ground me in reality after some intensely vivid dreams). ¬†I embraced this openness as¬†my second theme for the week. ¬†As I experienced one of the best massages of my life at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, I alternately focused on those mantras: Release and Open. ¬†Release and Open. ¬†Release and Open.

On Wednesday morning I got a call from Southwest that my flight was canceled. ¬†I re-booked it for Thursday midday, to coincide with Jen’s flight out from Denver. ¬†We ladies were able to spend a leisurely day in Steamboat Springs and one more night in Boulder together. ¬†Sonya only had to make one trip to the Denver airport. ¬†I even got a refund for my Early Bird Check-In, making the flight less expensive than the one I traded in. ¬†I connected in Fort Lauderdale and spent a few extra hours in the airport there due to bad weather in Texas. ¬†The delay allowed me to finish taking notes on¬†some final lectures for school (yes, I graduated 2 1/2 months ago) and allowed Jerry to squeeze in a Dark Star Orchestra show in Providence before picking me up at the airport.

I came across this picture on Instagram upon my return home:

Idil Ahmed

If holding on isn’t going so well…maybe try on letting go? ¬†Where are you holding onto¬†energy that doesn’t honor who you are today or the future that you’re creating?

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This post is dedicated to all those who helped make magic happen in Colorado, especially Jerry for encouraging the reverse Ummm, Babe and my mom and boys for releasing me for the week.

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Here’s what Jerry and I were up to 11 years ago on Sunday May 29th…Balboa Park, San Diego

 

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Having been out to Red Rocks before, Jerry thought I would appreciate seeing the venue before the craziness of a concert. He was right. It was incredible.

 

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Rainbow over Red Rocks. It felt like we were in Ireland. I could just hang out in the parking lot and be happy.

 

Nordic Lodge

This is where we stayed in Steamboat Springs (photo courtesy of expedia.com). Owner/operator Grzegorz (you can call him Greg) was Ah-mah-zing. He nailed it with every recommendation. If ever in Steamboat Springs, you should stay here too (as Gregor would say, “It’s a no brainer!”).

 

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See that little house at the top of the mountain? That’s where we meditated during one of our hikes.

 

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The massage hut at Strawberry Park, where I met Shama with the healing hands

 

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The amazing beauty of the Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, CO

 

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One last photo on our way back to Boulder from Steamboat Springs.

 

Posted in Energy, Friendships, magic, Music, Opening, Overcoming Challenges, Reflections, Release, Retreat, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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