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

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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. 

 

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.

 

Flying solo 

It’s funny really, I’ve been doing this parenting thing so long by myself that I really don’t realize that I’m flying solo. 10 years, 3 kids, and 1 mama. 

It’s the birthdays and holidays when I remember there was another parent that started this whole journey with me. This weekend was my daughter’s 14th birthday. 7 kids going on a scavenger hunt downtown.  I don’t know where my ex is and I’ve come to terms with that but sure it would be helpful to have a hand sometimes.

Like today for example, it’s a Monday. I woke up tired from an event Thursday and Friday nights, a sleepover, and running the kids around to choir retreats and football games. I decided to wear a power color and picked red. In my cute red dress I made my green smoothie because I care about me, in goes the spinach, apple, cucumber, celery and then… out goes the smoothie, all over my dress.

I ate fried eggs, with my hands, while driving because my fork fell on the floor. The house was a disaster when I left, but hey, at least I remembered to lock the door!

I went to work for 8 hours and left with a bad attitude, which is pretty unusual for me. Then  I went to happy hour with some women leaders and blew off some steam. I came home and the babysitter had cleaned the house. Hallelujah! I sat under my kid’s long legs while we watched a show. Another kid flushed the toilet and water poured out, all over the floor. 10 towels and 1/4 a bottle of cleaning solution later and we were good. 

I put the kids to bed, 1 kid slept in his day clothes, the other had no blanket so we fixed that and the third gave me an extra hug because I “looked sad”. “I’m alright I said, tougher things have happened and tomorrow’s a new day”.

And that’s just it, tomorrow’s a new day. Tonight I’m observing this moment and saying out loud to myself, you’re doing a great job mama!! 

And now this supermama is off for a goodnight’s sleep. Thanks for listening and sweet dreams!

Opportunity 

Everyday is a new opportunity.

Somedays begin with boundless energy

others with a tired 

but willful 

sense of purpose.

Today the rain falls softly outside my window,

Two twelve hour days are now behind me,

I am ready to create a slower pace.

Today is my son’s birthday and a luncheon with the Govenor.

Today is an opportunity.

An opportunity to rise above,

To be loving,

And create memories.

Today is an opportunity for balance,

less coffee and more water,

slower footsteps

and less meetings.

Today is an opportunity 

just like everyday

to share my love with the world. 

And so, 

I rise

with intention

and embrace 

the opportunity of today. 

Happy

 
I woke up this morning with a cloud raining down on me. I don’t know exactly why, it was just one of those moments.  

I ran through my morning routine, a little pouty. 

Until I remembered, I can choose to be happy. Happiness is not dependant on a guy, wealth, sunny days. Happiness is a choice. An attitude. A way of being. 

I got dressed for work in crazy tights, a gray dress and a hot pink scarf. I put the red lipstick on instead of the neutral “sensible” color. I pulled my hair band out so my natural curls can go crazy. 

I have non-stop meetings today and you know what? That’s fine. I’m going in with flare.

As I park and walk to the office, students walk to classes, talking about climate change, statistics and the creative movement of the paintbrush on the canvas.

As I walk, cherry blossoms wave at me in the light breeze. The clouds linger on the tops of the buildings, embracing them in a good morning hug. 

These are the treasures that brighten my day, reminding me happiness is all around us, we just have to look. 

A day in the life of the single mom

 It’s remarkable how many things can happen in 12 hours, isn’t it? 

6am got up and dressed, check emails, made breakfast and lunch 

7:30am drove my daughter to school, signed son up for a middle school tour and test date, drive home.

8am drove boys to school, told the teacher one would need to get picked up early, reminded about, lunches, coats, backpacks and having a great day as they got out of the car.

8:30am drive to work. Call my mom, drive through for coffee, call my assistant and work through the schedule.

9am work. Check emails. Meetings at 10 and 11am.

Noon eat an apple while walking to statistics class and talking to my assistant.

1pm warm up lunch, eat while walking to the car, call school and tell them I am on my way to get my kiddo.

1:30pm pick up kiddo and drive to doctor’s appointment 45 min away.

2:20 doc appt, fill out specialist paperwork, appt, doc says kid is normal – thankful. Take a deep breath, possibly the first one today.

3pm drive to local health food store, frittata and smoothie for the kiddo, coffee for mom. 

4pm drive home. Talk to 2 coworkers on the way. 

5pm home, make dinner, do dishes, pack lunches, do statistics homework, check mail.

6pm eat dinner and talk about days, fill out baseball papwrwork, research piano lessons, check emails. 

7pm talk to my mom and dad.

7:30 melt and eat dark chocolate. Then practice lines for the school play with a kiddo.

8pm fix the printer

8:30pm tuck in kids

9pm bath and then sleep

A day in the life. 

It’s not bad, but certainly a challenge some days. The great thing is that everyday is a new gift. 

I am truly so grateful to be able to witness the lives of these three amazing kids. They brighten my life in so many immeasurable ways. While it’s not always easy, I am certainly and always so grateful to be their mom. Single parents: we’ve got this.