The Warrior’s Walk

I’ve been reflecting on the word warrior lately. It seems I know quite a few. 

One might think that a warrior looks like a big strong man with armor and a mission to save the kingdom, and that may be true, but they also appear in different forms. 

Here are a few- 

Warrior of Light- I am honored to know a women who stands for love and light.  She stands at the alter every morning praying for her loved ones and the world. She has challenges just like the rest of us, but she slices anything not of the light with her Excalibur sword. 

Recently she has been faced with the loss of her partner and the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She has handled both of these with more grace than I have ever imagined possible. Her motto is “love’s victory” and she marches streadfastly towards healing with the strength of a thousand angels. Darkness does not have a chance around this warrior. She is my mother. 

Warrior of Truth- Another warrior appeared in our lives this week. Her knowledge and kindness unparalleled. She is the heroine stories are written about. She road into a situation when all looked dark and brought hope. She’s traversed obstacles like medications, pallatative care, and transportation to doctors appointments swiftly and with ease. She is weaving together a comfort quilt for a loved one with so much care and honor. She is unstoppable. She is my aunt. 

Warrior of Love- I know a warrior who has been fighting against injustice for decades. When he speaks, people listen. When he writes, people buy books to hear how to be more engaged in their lives and with the youth of today. He has returned home from this travels of late and walked back into my life with determination. “Whatever you need” he keeps saying, and proves it with pizza deliveries, neck rubs, light saber battles with teenagers, listening ears and open arms. He is a man of honor and deep love. He is my hero. 

Warrior of the Earth- This friend has been committed to being the earth’s protector for many years. She has studied ecology, planted roots, taught children to care for our planet and volunteered to serve at risk youth through growing good food. Most recently she set up a meal train for a family going through a tough time. She is an inspiration to me. She is my friend.

These warriors all carry missions of hope. They are strong and look obstacles directly in the face and say “I am here to fight for what is right”. They are a constant inspiration to me and I am honored to be walking with them, onward. 

Dear Universe, thanks for the reminder.

Yesterday will go down in history as one of the more eye opening days of my life. 

First, let’s recap the situation… I’m a single mom with three very active kids, my mom is dealing with cancer, I work a robust job as the Executive Director for an educational organization. 

My boss took me to lunch yesterday, which was very kind. Basically, through the course of the conversation I realized this was a “you need to slow down” intervention. First of all, how awesome is that? My boss literally said, you’re doing a great job, cut yourself some slack, it’s ok to coast for a little while when you have a lot going on in your personal life. Oh. 

Now if you are anything like me, I just go. I wake up in the morning with the prayer “please let me be a blessing today” and then my feet hit the floor. My plate is filled with passion until I crawl into bed at night, and I love it. And… as I keep learning there are more sustainable ways to exist than others. 

I left the luncheon in awe and reflection.

The theme seemed to continue throughout the day. It’s like the universe said “I’m going to help you get my point”. 

I called a dear friend and told her about this conversation, she said a lot of wise things, as usual. “Don’t let fear get in the way of your loving truth” was the one that really stuck with me. She too said, it’s ok to slow down and savor this time with my kids, and my mom. 

Next came several conversations with my team, exec committee, and board chairs. My boss suggested I started telling people what’s going on in my life, so I did. The result was so surprising. A felt a huge outpouring of support and kindness from my community. While it was scary to share, it was so worth it. 

I think I have been in on autopilot, just doing the next thing in front of me while adding more and more to my plate. I haven’t wanted to tell anyone because I was afraid of their judgement. What if they think I can’t do all this? I need to believe I can. But the truth is, none of us can do it all, we all need support and that doesn’t make us weak or less of a superstar it just makes us real. 

As Lent starts today, I could give up sugar or Facebook and while those aren’t bad ideas, I think life is calling me to look deeper. I plan to give up trying so hard. Instead, I will work on allowing and embracing life. It takes intention and more space, to allow myself to feel, vision and love more fully. It’s a more vulnerable space, and that’s ok too. Who are we not to fully embrace life? Do not let life make you hard. Let life help you grow tall with empathy, sprinkled with kindness, may you deeply know love. 

And dear universe, thank you for the reminder. 

 

Little Red Hiding Hood

I’ve been praying for answers to a few questions for sometime now. Today, I woke up with a new and helpful realization. 

We all have parts of ourselves that work well, and other patterns or habits that are more challenging. In my world, I have worked with the challenges and blessings of being a sensitive empathic human being. This means I feel things deeply, including world issues, the feelings of my children, family, coworkers, etc. It’s the reason I have dedicated my work time to nonprofit service and helping anyway I can to make sure everyone has opportunities to fulfill their potential.

As it turns out, it’s also the reason I reach for chocolate in stressful situations or hide, unintentionally behind those extra 20 pounds that never seem to come off. 

My realization this morning was, if we are here to be a blessing and shine our unique sparkle, how is hiding behind something helping fulfill my life mission. 

Did God put us on this earth to hide our sparkle? I don’t think so. 

There are lots of reasons for us all to put on our little red “hiding” hoods and run from the big bad wolf. There are a lot of big bad wolves out there these days. But running doesn’t help. It doesn’t work. Perhaps you think it’s the answer in the moment but truthfully, the only thing you are doing by hiding from your fears (through whatever your unhealthy coping mechanism is) is hurting yourself. 

I guess I have known that for awhile but the new learning for each is this: I’m all about empowerment, shining your sparkle and sharing love with the world. I do this all day, everyday. And… deep down if I have a belief that to be safe I have to hide part of myself from the big bad wolf, that doesn’t work very well. 

This feels like a big balloon filled with love that has the tiniest hole. Over time, the balloon will deflate unless the hole is patched. It’s a small hole but a really important one to deal with. 

The first part of healing any issue is becoming aware of the problem. Next, sitting with that and honoring what is. So that’s me today, honoring this unconscious part of me that wants to hide. God bless that part, I sure understand and have compassion for that feeling and yet, now I know that hiding from scary things isn’t the only option. 

The real work is in being brave and vulnerable. Of opening our hearts so we can feel the fullness of life and continue to develop the tools for when times get tough. And giving ourselves the grace to stay in bed and read a book, or say no to another fundraiser, volunteer opportunity or chocolate chip cookie. 

By being proactive and aware of our need for balance in this high paced society, we can get ahead of the desire to stress eat or hide because the world feels too much sometimes. 

Today, is a day for realization and self compassion. It’s for forgiving myself for not knowing earlier and moving forward with a peaceful and open heart, into the beauty of today. 

Go, be brave, the world needs your love. 

Dear grumpy, meet gratitude.

I sit here tonight asking myself, “What is your problem today?”

Sure I started work at 7am with no breaks until 5. Yes, I had frustrating meetings with two of my staff who are behind on their deadlines. Yes, my mom has cancer, my dad is being passive aggressive and my sweetheart is away and I’m not sure when he is coming home. Yes, the organization I have been courting for a year just gave a 1.5 million dollar gift to an organization that I don’t resonate with.Yes, it rained all day long and the scale said I gained two pounds this morning from the chocolate I have been stress eating. Don’t even get me started on climate change or politics.

But my children are great. Adorable, kind and talented. I have someone who will listen to me whine when I need too. Carpool worked today. The concert at school was fun. The guacamole at lunch was amazing and the bath I just took was lovely.

I tell my kids all the time, “it’s not a bad day, just a bad moment”. Some days have more bad moments than others. But generally, we are very fortunate and it is so important to remember that. I had enough food to eat, I didn’t have to walk to work in the rain, I laughed more than I cried today.

What do you do you go from grump to gratitude?

  1. It always comes back to gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for in any situation. I bought garbage bags today. Yes, that might seem like a tiny thing but the meaning I associated with it was, “I am taking care of my family’s needs”. So much of our suffering is what we tell ourselves, isn’t it? What are you grateful for today?
  2. How about a little grace towards ourselves too? When I look at the list of today, I can’t help but take a deep breath and give myself a hug. It’s been a full and multifaceted day. What would you say to a friend who had a day like this? I bet you would show them some compassion. How about sharing some with yourself? It feels amazing.
  3. How about some basic self care. Did you eat tortilla chips or ice cream for dinner? If so, ok. Maybe make a different choice tomorrow. Are you exhausted? How about some well deserved rest.

As you design your personalized formula to get from grump to gratitude, remember these ideas. Enjoy finding your own way and then, pass it forward. We all have things to learn from each other, that is one of the things I am grateful for.

 

Closer to fine

I don’t know anyone who has it totally figured out. By that I mean…this thing called life, how to balance the responsibilities and the fun stuff with a side of self care. How to raise kids perfectly without any contributions to the “therapy jar” for later in life.

I do however know a number of people who have pieces to the puzzle figured out.

I know a single mama friend who travels all the time with her kiddo because she wants him to see the world, no matter how much that adds to her credit card.

Another friend works as an accountant and loves it. He gets up at 5am everyday and plays basketball at the Y with his people, and has done it for years.

Yet another friend does a lot of community work, he is everywhere during the week and on the weekend, he sips a glass of something and looks out his window at the lake in front of him…all weekend long.

I pick up pieces from a lot of people I know that are working to get their life in balance. I get that it’s a process of continuous of improvement. And… when do we get “Closer to fine” as the Indigo Girls say.

Recently I have been sensing that it is less searching out there – through books, facebook posts, spiritual masters and more – allowing what is inherently inside to grow and blossom.

Maybe it is a result of growing up with two parents in the helping professions, or my natural desire to understand equity and the root of suffering since I was tiny. But this search for answers has kept me moving for a long time, reading self help, and striving to figure this whole “life” thing out.

The thing is… I am figuring it out. And to be real, it’s really not something I need to figure out, it’s more a process I get to allow to happen and be as present as I can everyday to let awareness flow.

Today I know a few things I didn’t a few years ago. I know what makes me happy at a new level, I know how to honor my empathetic side instead of suppressing it. I know what empowering, safe and connective love feels like and I want more of it. I know it’s ok to sit on the couch and read a book, for fun.

As we travel this through this life, may you remember to slow down and, be ok right where you are. It’s not always easy, but take it from reformed doer, you’ve got this.

Here’s to being closer to fine, closer to loving openly, closer to daily self care and closer to exhaling into all is well.

 

What if love…

 What if love was the first thought you had in the morning, and last thought at the end of the day?

What if love was an agenda item at the top of your to do list and staff meeting agenda? 

What kind of love? All kinds.

Self love, love of family, kids, partners, each other, people we don’t know, people who are different than us. 

What if love moved beyond a feeling between two people and one day a year with roses and chocolates, to a daily expression to the world around us. 

I love the postman who delivered my letter, the cashier at Trader Joe’s, the nurse how helped my mom. I love my loud kids, my partner who is miles away, and my dad who always wants to help. 

Here’s where it gets harder… I send love to those suffering in countries near and far, to those suffering and making unkind decisions in our government, to those who feel marginalized and afraid today. 

May this love begin like a raindrop and become a full storm, blanketing the world in love.

What if you and your friend, and her mom and your neighbor started this day with love? 

What if just by creating this loving intention, this tide of love starts to build and all of a sudden, someone let’s you in front of them in rush hour traffic, or someone else holds open the door, or a smile from stranger to stranger brightens someone’s day. 

What if? 

What if love… 

Where do you want to go? 

It’s a regular Tuesday morning, time to get up and bustle kids to school. 

Facebook says the United States is still in a mess of arrogant power and injustice, with a side of hope by a growing group of truth speakers. People are protesting, marching and speaking up for truth. 

All of this can be discouraging today the least.

The question in my mind today is, “where do you want to go?” In this day, in life, on a walk. 

It can be so easy to feel stuck or just stop moving forward when outside concerns feel out of our control. 

And yet, we have the power to choose our own reaction to whatever life brings us. We can put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction of our dreams.

Today, I choose to walk in the direction of love. I choose to bring peace with me into this day and pick up some joy and an extra helping of laughter along the way. 

I choose kindness and empowerment of my fellow walkers. I choose health for me, my family and the world. 

As I walk into this day, I am clear and focused on where I want to go. I will not be detoured or distracted by stress or injustice. I will stand in my power as a woman, daughter, and mother. I will walk with love. That is where I want to go today. 

Where do you want to go?