Get it together, or at least a few steps in that direction

I totally thought my parents had it together when I was a kid. I ate food everyday, I slept a reasonable amount and had clothing to wear. We weren’t rich but we had enough.

These days, I look around at my friends and it seems like we are all overworked and overtired. We drive 5 hours so our kid can play in a volleyball tournament, cheer loudly, fill up water bottles, come home and start work the next day.

We budget and worry and calculate and measure to make sure there is enough for everyone.

We are getting more gray hair, texting at stoplights, and can’t find any clean socks.

I imagine there are different, better ways to do this. And I’m setting out on an adventure to figure out how. How to fall in love with your life, kids, partner, health, work and friends. How to travel, like actually save up and do it, not just set aside $25 a month and then in a pinch transfer those funds to cover groceries. How to live within our means, use what we have and slow it down enough that we don’t spend money on just being busy.

Step 1 go to sleep. Early. There is no magic show or Facebook post that is going to change your life. You are the only one who can do that. So get some flipping sleep.

Step 2 laugh, like for real. Tell your kids to tell you one of their ridiculous jokes, watch anything with Melissa McCarthy or Ellen. Just let loose for a minute. The laundry-dishes-bills-homework-dinner can wait until you have a good belly chuckle.

Step 3 acquire beauty. Pick a flower, buy yourself some new flowers, a dress, a kitchen towel, a new pair of earrings. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it is beautiful to you, go for it.

Step 4 get yourself a date. With your partner, friend, kid, yourself. The point is to set aside some time for you to be with someone special.

Step 5 repeat. Repeat, and add new steps to this recipe. It doesn’t matter which order, just go for it and repeat. And for the love, add some flare to it. Get your groove going, whatever that is for you.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to put on my India Aire Album, eat all of the orange M-n-Ms, and paint my toes.

Enjoy doing whatever it is that reminds you that you are a beautiful, radiant, imperfect but perfect in your own way, work of art. And your painting starts right here.

Mama love,
T

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Finding your center

Depositphotos_32107507_l-2015Sometimes, we all get a little lost.

Sometimes it’s lost in love – with a partner or a new baby.

Sometimes it’s lost in grief – from the passing of a loved one or the letting go of a big dream.

Sometimes it’s busyness that we lose ourselves in – the bills, work, volunteering, kid schedules.

Easy to do. The question is, how do you find your center?

It’s different for everyone. Some write books, others travel, some change jobs or relationships or hobbies.

For me it’s about the little things. Making small changes that add up to big results.

This morning, for example, I woke up early and cleaned my room. The floor began to take on an obstacle course vibe with shoes and clothes, everywhere. Sure, I was out of town quite a bit, then a volleyball tournament for my daughter, but regardless it was a disaster. I didn’t realize it, but subconsciously it said I had sort of given up. There was too much to do so, why even try. As it turns out, it didn’t really take that long and now, I am able to sit in a chair with my mom’s favorite pink blanket on my lap as I write. All because of a little tidying that made the whole room open up with possibility.

Yesterday, I decided to sit down and write, for the first time in a couple of years since my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in 4 months ago, and I just haven’t been able to write words about it or anything really. I decided to just sit down and see what happened. I wrote a post called what words do you say? . It wasn’t easy but after a while, it just sort of flowed. It was healing and rewarding to see that I could still do it. Tonight, I was inspired to write as well. Again, a little step, but in a lovely direction.

If you are looking to make a change in some area, what little thing can you do? It could be in the direction of a certain goal – take a walk if you are looking to get in shape, prepare a new recipe if you want to expand your cooking skills, call a loved one if you want more closeness in your life. Or maybe just do something fun or frivolous – but something that says to you, I am awesome, I matter, I am loved.

Blessings on your journey, it all starts with just one step. Happy travels. Oh and don’t forget to laugh. It’s contagious.

cupcake

What words do you say?

It’s been awhile since I have written. For several reasons.

I open up my computer to write and it feels like an arid desert, where their used to be a raging river.

I know a lot of it is because of her. Some call her a guide, or friend, or radiating sunshine on a cloudy day, I call her Mom.

I think it’s been about two years since I have really been able to write.

It’s like the well went dry at the same time she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 70 years old, ate kale and salmon for most of her life. She didn’t smoke, or drink, or eat sugar, she hosted a prayer ministry for those in need,and was the most loving Grandmother you could ever imagine.

I spent a long time asking why. Why her? Why now? Why not someone else, someone mean-spirited or unkind? Why my Mom, who I have a loving relationship with and not a Mom who wasn’t that great?

I still wonder why. But not as much. She told me once that in her belief system, God was calling her home and had a new special assignment for her. She felt comfort in that, and I guess it helped me too.

I think I stopped writing when she got cancer because she would read my posts and I didn’t want her to have to deal with chemo, pain meds, AND hear about my struggle. She had enough on her plate.

She passed away December 29, 2017, after a two year battle with cancer. I have never seen strength like I experienced in my Mother. A week before she passed away, she was unable to eat anything, she was on morphine every hour, she still managed to sing Christmas carols, and tell me she loved me “forever and ever”.

I took two months off of work to care for her before she passed, I am beyond grateful for that time together. I was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, if given the chance.

She is gone now. Gone from my sight. I have pictures, memories, a special blanket she gave me, and I know that she is not gone, just gone from my sight. I feel her sometimes, in the wind, the butterflies, the flowers and the trees. I know she is loving us from the great universe. I miss her gentle hugs, her lavender smelling hair, and the twinkle in her eye that you think she was part elf or fairy.

What do I do with this ocean of grief? Sometimes I eat too much chocolate, or let my body rest when it is tired, or take a long walk, or cry and offer my grief to the ocean- it seems big enough to hold it.

I certainly don’t have the answers. But I do know I have been blessed to have a Mom like mine. Loving to her very core, fierce in the face of injustice, and radiant, like the sun shining on thousand pink cherry blossoms.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you, forever and ever.

reboot

You know how those wise computer people say to turn off your computer on the weekends so it can reboot and install updates? Well, I kinda learned that this week.

While I’ve started this post with computer references, let me just go on record and say I know nothing about computers and this, as with all of my posts, is about life, and figuring it out (or at least attempting too).

I have had a lot going on for awhile. Let me illustrate:

I’ve been a single mama of three hella bright precocious children for 10 years.

My beautiful, inspiring mom was diagnosed with cancer last year and is fighting with the strength of 1000 warriors.

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit Educational Organization. I raised $400,000 in 4 meetings last week (woot!).

My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and plays club volleyball which has us all over the region every weekend.

All of my kids are musical, they take piano lessons, play guitar, sing in choirs, etc.

My two boys…one is building a rocket on the dining room table as I write, the other one is at grampa’s house, helping him make gluten free bread.

(When I write all of this, it looks ridiculous. Like hello, one person is not capable of doing all of this!)

So anyways, I started not feeling well a few days ago. I’m anemic and I thought it was that. Turns out after a long day in ER that my stress was so high, my heart created an irregular rhythm to try to deal with it. Oh.

The ER doctor gave me a letter that said, no work until next Tuesday. Huh.

So, I came home (by that I mean my dad drove me home) and sat on the couch, for a long time. My dad made dinner, and I worked on chilling the heck out.

I started with working on my belly breathing (thanks yoga) and figuring out what I can take off my list. I decided to send my daughter to the volleyball tournament this weekend with another family. I asked my dad to take the boys for the weekend. I wrote and I wrote and I cried and I breathed. I started to feel much better. Today, I feel pretty much back to normal.

This was a wake up call. I have been running for so long without stopping that my operating system was thinking about getting out of whack. Hence, the reboot.

Today, after I said goodbye to my daughter, I had a huge meltdown. She is getting older and I have 4 years with her before she graduates and takes on the world herself. Time is so precious. As I sat there with the tears pouring onto my hoodie, I felt like such a failure. Failing at doing all of the things I want to do. Failing at self care and being a good mom and spending enough time with my kids, my mom, my dad, my friends. Failing at holding it all together.

And then I remembered something a dear friend said to me once, she said, “Tanya, why are you being so hard on yourself? If this was happening to a friend of yours or one of your kids, you would wrap them up in your arms, tell them how much you love them and how capable they are. Do that for yourself.” Oh.

Another friend said, “it’s not you that is broken, it’s the system. The go all the time, crazy rush of American life.” Oh. 

So, it is with self compassion I say to myself, “you’ve come a long way baby. You deserve a break to slow down and reboot. Welcome it with open arms, it’s a message and you need to hear it.”

So, the rebooting starts. I will be offline, in nature, with loved ones and learning how to sustain and balance this precious life. 

Take care of yourself. Reboot if needed. Breathe and repeat. You’ve got this. And do do I. 

Time 

The hourglass,

The seasons,

Timelines and deadlines,

Graduations 

Beginnings and endings. 

Time sees all.

Occasionally I think I can control and affect time, 

But then I realize she is a force all her own. 

“It goes so fast”, people say. Others have “all the time in the world”.

I mostly say “I want more time”. With loved ones, to create poetry and art, to move my body. 

How do we create more time? Is there an answer the this mystic question?

I don’t know. 

But today, I will say how grateful I am for time.  

To be, laugh, rest, inspire, love and imagine. 

To grow, live, empower and adventure. 

I will acknowledge time as my ally in this walk.

With intention and grace I will continue to balance priorities,

and embrace time, 

as a friend.

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.

 

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… 

My name is Love

downloadIt’s interesting all of the labels we give ourselves sometimes, and how they effect us without us even being aware. Today’s labels include: Single Mom, Executive Director, Daughter of a Cancer Patient.

I go back and forth, to and from these labels throughout the day. Bustle kids to school hoping I am doing a good job, call my mom to share how much I love her and she how the day is in her world, walk into work like I know the answers to the questions I will be peppered with. It’s kind of an autopilot experience with the underlining of self-labeling.

In a conversation yesterday with someone who loves me, I realized that I was doing this self-labeling. I thought I was doing at least some of this from a place of owning the label but in retrospect, I think not. How does labeling myself help? I tell the kids not to label other people all the time. And yet, here I am doing the same thing to myself.

Well, that’s interesting.

Upon reflection, it turns out we all have parts of who we are that are special gifts. Mother, daughter, friend, worker, etc. and that is part of what makes us special.

My daughter for example is an actor, horse enthusiast, guitar player, volleyball player, and friend. My mom is a beautiful singer, spiritual counselor, teacher, friend, and absolute warrior.

So if these beautiful women in my life shine these special gifts, who am I? Hmm…

 

In this holiday season, it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of materialism, schedules, and to do lists. We can go on autopilot – just like our cars automatically heading towards the mall at Christmas time to buy things to show we love each other.

This year, I have winter break off with my kids. So far, it has been the usual business of volleyball and shopping with some Christmas movies sprinkled in. The kids are arguing this morning as it rains outside and I try in vain to write and have some quiet.

So my options are… grouch at them. Check. Or…remember who I am, pause the writing, bring them together, have a conversation and tell them how much I love them…. and I need quiet sometimes too. Check.

Note to self: It always feels better when you lead from love.

My kids are now playing Christmas songs together on the piano and guitar as I borrow my son’s headphones and write. A total win-win, and all of us are happier.

To sum this up, we all have parts that make up who we are. And.. we can all choose what we want to focus on. What brings you peace? Focus on that and name that for yourself.

15672630_10211495681851180_8882280913203950574_nMy name is LOVE.

I am a Mother, Daughter, Friend, Writer, Chef, Giver, and Compassionate Human Being.

Ultimately what I am is LOVE. We ALL are.

As the rain turns to snow outside my window, I wish you a very happy holiday season with much peace, love and happiness.

With Love,
Tanya