Reflection on a spring morning

This morning I sit quietly,

my cup of coffee steaming on the windowsill,

as the rain streams down outside.

It’s late spring in our region,

the sky is watering my tiny swiss chard and kale plants.

The weeks leading up to this moment of peace have been challenging.

My body told me to slow down with bronchitis and exhaustion.

My stepfather passed away of a heart attack unexpectedly.

Two of my three kids are out of school for the summer.

And my mom’s cancer treatment continues.

I sit quietly this morning and reflect on all of this,

and all of the blessings that have come into my life.

As I write, I am enfolded by a comfort quilt gifted by a friend.

It was made by members of a local church and I can feel the love that went into making it.

My colleagues have set up a meal plan for my family.

I have been surrounded by comforting arms and cried with many loved ones.

I have received cards and love from far and wide.

In all of this, every aspect of life,

from the happy to the sad,

I know that I am surrounded by love,

and with love anything is possible.

 

 

 

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Selling yourself for the cause

I have been reading recently about simplicity. About slowing life down so we can appreciate the sweet moments and tastes of life.

It occurred to me as I was reading today, that unintentionally as it might have been, I have been selling myself for the cause.

I have been in nonprofit service for 20 years both on staff and as a volunteer. I have volunteered for my kids field trips, joined fundraising committees, chaired galas, joined Rotary and Women’s marches and community organizing gatherings. I have also worked for multiple organizations raising money for disaster preparedness, the environment, low income families, scholarships and emergency funding for students.

All of this is great, and I love that I am a very giving person. But, for years I have been prioritizing “the cause” and “changing the world” over relationships, family, and my health. It is time for that to stop.

If I’m honest, I think I have gravitating to saving the world because, A. I am good at raising funds to support a cause I believe in (and I get great feedback and acknowledgement for that) and B. there are so many people and organizations in need that the compassionate part of me can not sit back and watch, when I know I can help.

The trouble is, I am burning myself out. I have gone from wanting to attend every gala, to dreading the next invitation. I have gone from dreaming and scheming on how to get more resources for my organization, to dreading the “yes, your request has been approved”, because I know that means more work.

I have been meditating this weekend on filling in this sentence, “I am a person who….”

I person who is living a peaceful and peace-filled life.

I have energy to spend meaningful time with my family.

I am living a long, healthy life with a strong and vibrant body and mind.

I am becoming more connected to the source of all life, the spirit that surrounds us and is in us all.

I experience joy through creativity and laughter.

I am a loving partner, mother, daughter and friend.

When we move from saving everyone else, to saving ourselves, this may sound selfish. But in reality, it is the kindest thing we can do, to love ourselves and never, ever sell ourselves for any cause. The price is too high.

As my quiet retreat comes to a close, and I move into the week, I am taking these mantras with me. My life is changing as I learn to enjoy life more fully, love more openly and say “yes” to my own well being. As you move into this week, may you know love and a smile that radiates from your insides saying, “All is well.”

 

Waiting for the season to change 

I can feel it coming, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

The clouds are bursting with raindrops,

nourishment for the baby vegetables just we planted. 

I have seen more rainbows in the last two weeks, than I have in a long while. 

Daffodils are trumpeting “spring is coming”. 

We wait in anticipation of the sun on our skin again. 

My favorite barista is dressed in all flowers. 

The party I will attend tomorrow is “bright colors only, no black or gray allowed!”

We are all beckoning the light and warmth to return.

It will come, in the right season. I know this to be true. 

Today, we welcome the raindrops and know that spring will come soon. 

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. 

 

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