Growth

Solstice.

Uprooted.

(Again).

This time, upheaval,
little earthquakes

Hearts on the line.

Downrooted.

Searching

Root down

Find a branch and hang on,

Then another.

Growth can be gnarly
ugly
throbbing.

Aching hearts

Roots down,
uprooted.

Seasons change
Winter turns to spring
(Thank God)

Transition

Wafts through the air
so thick I can’t see

One heavy foot marches
in front of the other

In the tunnel
treading water
until we can breathe again

“Just keep swimming”

We fall,
scar our knees

Brush off and trudge on

Our bodies erupt in strange ways

Spring wounds are tender, oozing, inflamed
raw to the touch

Third eye pulses with hot lava,
recalibrating

I want to stay in bed a while,
forgotten how to rest.

All I ask is to hang on,

a little bit longer

Wait for the truth to settle

To wash over my naked soul
bathed in this cold ocean

Blossoms lie, waiting in the dirt

Cells turnover

Hold on.

Seasons change

Solstice emerges
First a crack, too bright
garish

And then
Blessed light comes

more softly now
it spreads without looking

Things are different out here.

Don’t fear little one

Far away, dry

Vast

Root down.

In the desert I will
find the green

Before a mirage
Hazy,

now a clearing

The longest day on the spinning planet

Relieved to be closer
to the ball of fire in the sky

Face in the sun,
I am shielded from the shadows.

Work
with the struggle
accept what is

League of her own

He caught a
big fish, he said
too slippery, just out of grasp

Love big
or go home
right?

Forge your path
bushwhack as
you must

Tears dry on their own
she croons

Throw yourself into something,
anything

Time is a healer

The panacea of
platitudes

Listen.
Ear to ground.

Bit by agonizing bit, the road clears
One layer of fog
at a time

2.0 Uprising

So much gratitude
to the earth for letting me learn to radiate

For what got me here
And what will get me
there.

For giving me a strong sturdy ground
to jump from

Peace arrives
on a warm breeze...


And I inhale.


~ V.A.S., 2018

Comments

packing light: part II.

Most of us have heard of the geographic cure concept- the idea that changing location will magically cure our problems. It can be so appealing for so many reasons, and the reasons are not all bad- there is much to be said for having a fresh start and new surroundings.

My friend questioned me about this multiple times when I was making this move. “Is that any part of this move for you?” she would say.

All I knew was that I was certain I was running TO something rather than away. I had done the years of work, put in my time. It was time to lighten the load, which I had been doing incrementally for years, and take a step forward into the unknown and bright future that was calling me. I had cleared away the “wreckage of my past”, or at least made peace with much of it, and was ready to move on to what’s next. And sure, the thought of inspiring new surroundings was a big draw for me- I was hungry to experience more and have expanded influences that aligned with the person I was growing into.

One of my mentors, Dave, quotes Carol Dweck who says the future is “unknown and unknowable.” There are endless possibilities. Today, this thought fills me with hope and excitement about what lies ahead. When I was 22 and just out of college, it was completely crippling.

I’ve written previously about some of my “tricks” to packing light. As the years pass and the aging process marches on, the need for some things (such as the many self-help books I’d amassed) falls away. What I couldn’t grasp at 22 I now realize at 40 (hmmm, as of last week, 41...) and do not take for granted, all that life is with its magnificent gifts. With time passing, I don’t wrestle with the same thoughts that paralyzed me in my early 20’s. After graduating from the safe college cocoon I had mastered I was terrified, shielding my eyes from the big, bright, overwhelming sun of The Future. The world was my oyster...  and it was simply much too much to handle.

So I didn’t handle it. I stayed up until 4:00am watching movies and sleeping until noon. I had a box of index cards that I wrote movie reviews on for my own nerdy benefit, and I shed a lot of tears. Looking back, this was the best tool I had to process my emotions at the time. I was craving support and watching other people’s depiction of stories provided that. I made frequent pilgrimages to the movie store, my mecca, to rent VHS tapes that would offer me some insight and relief from the swirling, intense thoughts in my head.

I ate junk food and mostly avoided getting on the healthy diet wagon I was supposed to be eating for my chronic illness (I’m sorry, but who the hell wants “a nice lentil soup” for breakfast?!), pulsing with a strong undercurrent of rebellion. I laid on the floor of my Tucson house alone in what I remember to be the dramatic depths of despair and talked on the phone with my friend Corey (who was impressively "older and wiser") for hours, who had the difficult job of convincing me not to give up when I felt ready to. He was incredibly empathetic and patient with my episodes, and, thankfully, also talented at making me laugh in my sorry state.

One of my favorite quotes from Noah Baumbach’s movie Greenberg is “youth is wasted on the young.” And so it goes- I look around, all of a sudden somehow 40, no 41, wrinkly and bumpy, my fresh, easy beauty gone. My inner beauty, however, beams radiant and strong, freed of so many of the mental chains of the past that kept me stuck.

As we journey along on our paths, there are little lifelines and clues to cling to even as it seems we are stumbling around in the dark. When I was very ill and in the thick of my health struggles upon newly arriving in North Carolina, a yoga instructor told me that I had a very strong life force. This filled me with hope because I could feel that it was true. I always knew deep down that I had a lot to offer the world. My current coach would say that I just need to get out of my own way to unleash my potential, and I see now that’s what I was working to do all those years.
To get out of my own way. This gets to the emotional aspect of packing light. We will be continually faced with opportunities to challenge our old beliefs and let them go, to make room for the new, healthier present moments that await us.

Wherever you go, there you are.” This is what we encounter when we make a move, particularly geographic. We come with us, ALL of us, including our rich pasts, our unique way of viewing the world, our experiences that shape our perspective. Here's a recent personal example from this summer.

The internet had stopped working a while back for several months where I was living during a particularly busy work stint and I started staying at my partner’s place more as a result. He welcomed me with a gracious heart into his home which provided a quiet work environment, strong Wifi and espresso (three things that have come to be Very Important to me these days). I was humbled by the offer and went overboard doing my share and then some of the cleaning and procuring provisions because I wanted to “earn my keep.”

I made jokes about being Vagabond Val, traipsing in with my plethora of bags each time- laptop and work materials, food, drinks, ergonomic work desk, clothes, toiletries, and so on. We laughed about how ridiculous I looked, a colorful pack mule crossing the street, lugging in all my stuff up to his apartment.
I was the one making fun at my own expense, a classic deflection. The next time I had a call with my coach she could tell the housing stuff was really weighing on me, and before we could move on to higher level stuff we had to address it. Shelter is a basic necessity, a Maslow's bottom of the pyramid survival element. What came up for me was some very old feelings of worrying about being a burden to those I love, likely stemming from longtime childhood illness. Not only do I feel more comfortable as the giver than the receiver in general, but I was overcompensating and in fear about even the small possibility of being a burden to someone else.

What my coach helps me realize is that I am depriving others of the opportunity to support and be there for me if I buy into this line of thinking. It can be quite hard to see it from outside ourselves, but I know if the tables were turned I would want to be there for the ones I love, no question, and would feel badly if I couldn't be. She suggested I write a poem about it as I worked my way through my thoughts. It was a helpful assignment and the words flowed out of me within 15 minutes. Here it is:


He doesn’t care about the crumbs
but I do

I’ve turned into my mother it seems

That’s OK, I declare
We all have our quirks

Or warts as Mom would say
We go right on loving them anyway

Grace grace grace
Give us some grace
I give you grace but not me

Bar is set higher you see

Old voices sting

Ring in my ears whispering
You’re too much

But what are we if not safe havens for each other?
Aren’t we all a bit too much sometimes?

Breathe.
Breathe.
Feel your feet in your shoes.
Let it sink in.

You’re safe. You’re here.
You’re VALued and loved
You deserve to take up space

You’re among the trees now
The stars shine bright for you
Look up and see
Beautiful and free

New kitty reminds me I’m enough

I’ve earned her affections
Like I earn them all-
With love, generosity and a spirit of the other

A genuine desire to foster acceptance and grace

Where does that leave me?

I’m creating this story
From dusty old yarns

It isn’t true, never was
But it’s familiar, well worn
And stubbornly clings to neural pathways

Screw the eggshells
They’re to keep chicks safe not people

Lay your burdens down they say

Lay them down at your feet

Allow yourself to be held
Take a chance on this love

People love me anyway
They love me although
They love me because

Listen up girl its true
They love you for you
You’ve got nothing to prove

I’m actually doing pretty good considering, I say
And its true

I’m doing pretty darn good anyway

And that’s enough for today.


~ VAS 7.14.17



14591711_10154265349712935_113046577225086815_n
Rainbow upon arriving in California last year after 4 days of driving across the country.
Pretty good sign!


Comments

packing light: part I.

My sweet cousin Nicole shared a book she loved with me recently as I was working on making the move out to California called Packing Light: Thoughts On Living Life With Less Baggage. It came to me at the perfect time, and I eagerly dug into the soulful thoughts the author Allison Vesterfelt shares with her readers. Truthfully, I carried this book around with me a bit like the tattered Velveteen Rabbit as I traversed the country that year, reading it on the plane and as my eyes grew heavy at night, folding over many of its pages, underlining and scribbling notes with vigorous head noddings and a-has. Her words were a source of comfort and strength as I figured out what the biggest transition of my life to date was going to look like, sans road map. If other people could do big scary things, I could too! I highly recommend it as a companion for anyone experiencing any kind of growth or life transformation.

Our brains are funny in times of transition. The closer we get to taking a leap or making a big change, the more fear creeps in and makes us want to cling to the walls, screaming with a megaphone in our ear all the reasons why we can’t do it. Fears also come up for the people who love us as change is in the air, and the overwhelm can get, well, overwhelming.

My ex-boyfriend Mike coined a phrase
Exhilafrightciting to explain the times in life such as these, and I find myself using it a lot lately. Exhilarating, frightening, exciting. It describes many of life’s moments: new love, new changes, new adventures, new anything.

Vesterfelt writes: “We get so focused on what we think is going to happen, so worried about it, we don’t even consider something better might be coming, something we couldn’t have possibly dreamed up ourselves.” That is one of the key lessons for me of this book- lightening our loads, emotionally and physically, leaves us more free to pursue what is truly important and open to receiving infinite possibilities that might come our way.

I’ve been working on ‘packing light’ for a long time. As my Dad likes to joke when he asks me what I’m doing, I usually answer “getting organized.” I spend a lot of my time getting ready to do something. This is somewhat due to my procrastinating, recovering-perfectionist nature to be sure. But also because, I’m Busy. Hopefully less of the culturally glorified Busy that is starting to be frowned upon instead of being worn as a badge of honor (which I am certainly guilty of), and more of the truly just-have-mucho-stuff going on. I like it, obviously, because I’ve lived this way as long as I can remember. If you asked my people to describe the definition of busy they would say that my photo is next to it in the dictionary. My Mom frequently says supportively: “We all know Val needs more hours in the day.”

In peak childhood days circa age six to ten I was churning out colorful loom potholders, coloring intricate designs on graphic outlines, and watching my favorite TV shows of the 80’s simultaneously, usually Saturday morning cartoons or sitcoms such as the Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Little House on the Prairie, and later the Love Boat and Three’s Company, the latter much to my mother’s chagrin. Come and knock on our door… I digress!

My varied ADHD-esque interests and curious nature left me with with lots of eclectic items in my possession. It began with collections: book series, special soaps in the shape of things like animals and golf balls, pencils with unique eraser toppers, paper napkins, stamps, baseball cards, paper and office supplies.

I can still smell the soaps and remember the feel of them and the oils on my hands. They were all beautiful and unique. A swan, a flower, a heart. I have moved several times over the years around the country, but due to my illness was unable to effectively purge things during most of those and my physical and emotional load grew increasingly heavier.

When I left Austin, Texas for North Carolina to seek answers for my health concerns, I took a babystep and let go of some of these special childhood treasures. I snapped a photo of my soap collection and said goodbye. It was not easy to part with. I came across the photo technique in one of the million of organizing books I had amassed and it felt like a decent solution.

As an archiver of life, letting go of special items with sentimental value feels damn near impossible. The professional organizer I hired many years later said that these types of possessions were the toughest to part with for most people, and her recommendation was to start with evaluating (and getting rid of) the easy stuff first. Some early quick “wins” give us a boost of confidence to keep moving forward.

I think about the irony that our possessions can so easily possess us. The stuff keeping us stuck. I used to love binge watching a show called Clean House, where the crew would intervene on a household struggling with too much stuff. The deeper reasons behind these situations was usually some kind of familial or career loss, illness, or other personal struggle.

I felt a lot of empathy for the participants, drawing strong parallels with my own story. It was powerful to see the end result (albeit at an orchestrated-for-TV mach speed pace), where the participants have lightened their loads considerably, faced some deep emotional demons head on, and are left with a peaceful home environment and a fresh start.

Vesterfelt’s book captures some of the heart of this process for me. “If we want to be truly alive, truly awake to the reality of the world around us, packing light will be a continued, daily struggle.”

As we embark on exhilafrightciting new adventures, I keep in mind what my doctor says: it's not “leap and the net will appear,” it’s leap and build the net on the way down. That’s what I take Packing Light’s message to be- when we follow what’s calling us on our journey, we are provided with the support we need in one way or another, even if it takes an unexpected or perhaps initially undesirable form. We are open to new opportunities. This echos Paulo Coelho’s concept behind
The Alchemist- all the universe conspiring to help us achieve our dreams once we follow our path or personal legend. Fodder for another post! 

I want to know - how are you practicing packing light in your lives?

Travel-Must-Haves-For-Amazing-Hair-

Comments

sail away from the safe harbor...

I’m about to embark on a new life adventure and fulfill a longstanding dream deferred. In the early 2000s I went to San Francisco, CA for the first time with my soul friend Caitlin (this photo of me below was my first SF pre-cell phone camera selfie in the summer of 2000 Happy) I immediately fell head over heels in love with the city and returned several more times. I loved its breathtaking beauty, the hills, the trees, the water, the horizon, its diversity and culture, and most of all, its expansive healthy lifestyle and nourishment options on every corner. We were supposed to move there together in the great Unwreckable Journey of 2000 (made tee shirts and everything, complete with a fuzzy iron-on letter misspelling! Happy).

My twenties were a tumultuous roller coaster of severe chronic illness (Crohn’s) ups and downs, and while Caity made it out there, I never did. Life happens to all of us, and I believe it is the way we handle our circumstances that define us. Because I’m driven to continual learning and personal success, I admit a bit sheepishly my pride that despite my adversities I have been continuously employed since the age of 15, and graduated from college with honors after many hospitalizations and incompletes. More education may be in my future, but I am content with what I have already accomplished and embrace that I am enough, no matter how many twists and turns my journey has taken or how long it takes me to achieve my goals. We all have obstacles in our paths that challenge us and I am grateful for all of mine because they have chiseled me into who am today: a fighter, a survivor, and a person that I have grown to be very proud of. I haven’t always been able to give myself that grace.

And so, sixteen years later, I now have the opportunity to make this dream come true and move to the Bay Area in early October of this year and I could not be more excited. Many of you have heard about this over the past two years and supported me in a variety of ways as I have worked to forge a path for this to happen.

Today is my last official day at CCL. I will remain closely connected as a consultant and they will be one of my biggest clients. Little will change as I will stay on my two current primary projects, RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows and the Young Women’s Leadership programming and see those through. In addition I will be working to grow CCL’s social sector work and already have some promising leads. The good news is I will be back in North Carolina several times over the next year for a couple weeks at a time so will be able to stay connected to my community and family here.

It is the right time to take this leap and build my net on the way down. I have expanded my consulting business, vallmark* LLC (
www.vallmark.com) and am currently accepting new clients. My passions include helping build and deliver leadership programs for young people, empowering young women, coaching, writing, communications and speaking.

This shift will allow me the flexibility to be open to possibilities that present themselves as I find my niche out West. Yes, it has changed a lot in the 16 years that I've been longing to be in its midst, and the irony is not lost on me that I am a low-tech grassroots gal drawn to this current hub of innovation and massive growth. I am interested to find what is calling me there, whether its to be a grounding source for community work, a person/people, learning opportunities, all of the above... I remain open.

Over the past 9 years I have been so privileged to be surrounded by incredibly intelligent, caring, thoughtful and dedicated colleagues at CCL who continually inspire me, motivate me to dream bigger and bolder, and who have become trusted friends and advisors that I am beyond thankful for. I'm happy that won't change!

Meanwhile- little old Greensboro, NC over these almost 13! years since I was “banished” here from Austin, TX to get well- has grown into a place very near and dear to my heart. I now know I came here to meet some of my best lifelong friends who have been, quite literally, crucial to my survival and development into the most fully realized version of myself yet. I am getting verklempt... Really, just a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for what you have given to enrich my life in all ways.

My sister and I have joked that over the years we have followed my parents around the country as they move- they keep running away and we keep following Happy. This is the first move I’ve made on my own and I know that in order to be the best family member I can be I have to follow my heart, even though it will feel hard and far away at times! I love them to pieces for loving and supporting me unconditionally.

Are things perfect? Of course not. Its true what they say about not waiting until everything is to do something. Do your research, prepare as best as you can, hedge your bets and jump in! Because #onelife, #yolo, and #betterlatethannever right?

How the West was won almost two centuries ago is a great narrative of facing and overcoming adversity on the quest for exploration and navigating unchartered territory.

It was during my Girl Scouts program almost 4 years ago where something clicked and I reached that state of flow and pure joy in my work. I realized that in order to be a role model, particularly for young women, it is of the utmost importance to live my fullest, most authentic life, no matter how scary that might feel to do, and to share my story and truth with others. I fight my humility by remembering I also owe it to all those who have not been as fortunate to see their dreams manifested. So with that, here I go…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ H. Jackson Brown’s mother

SF post

Comments

transitions.

There have been lots of comings and goings in my world lately, people wise. I have been spending this week helping my second set of neighbor/friends in a month pack up and move, and it is a process. You know you have made it to true friend status when you help someone move- you are down in the nitty gritty of their most intimate stuff, and they trust you to know what to throw away and what to keep- when I think about it, it's actually a privilege.

Even someone else's trash is satisfying to me Happy and I have gotten lots of joy and inspiration helping my friend get rid of 4 huge bags of clothes this week, and a whole bunch of other stuff. It's amazing how powerful simply having a witness or "body double" can be in doing this kind of thing and it is so helpful to have someone to check your reality with and offer another perspective. It's honestly exhilarating and addicting to purge and I've just been on a roll with it personally, so its fun to help others also.

It is interesting what kinds of things this work brings up. Tonight after a long week of late nights, early mornings and full days (tired just typing that) I had some really fascinating thoughts about my own upcoming life transitions. Lingering old thoughts/messages/tapes popping up, visiting again for what is perhaps soon to be the last time before they are tossed out with the rest of the old and no longer useful. Actually just having the feelings out with my friend and then continuing a packing burst helped churn it for me and I feel better.

Something about clearing a space, all the dust and dirt and past it digs up, floating in the air, breathing it in. There is a time where you are suspended in a haze cloud that is much worse than when you started, even though you are well on your way to freedom and a fresh and paired down new space and life. That inbetween time is something intense and palpable for everyone involved! Louise Hay uses the analogy of a dirty dishpan. When you scrub the pan, all the gunk comes to the surface and it is way worse than when you started. Eventually, after more scrubbing and cleaning, the pan is empty and shiny and clean.

Here's a song I recently wrote as a capstone to this lovely renaissance period of our lives here in the Fisher Park Neighborhood, dedicated to these friends:
https://vimeo.com/131736670

I've also had an influx of new friends, particularly younger people, come into my life recently. Maybe it's the summertime... maybe it's the good energy in the air. Either way, I'm enjoying it!

Update: I just found out it is a blue moon- no wonder...
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/07/unprecedented-blue-moon-in-aquarius-now-or-never/ This excerpt from the above article explains a lot:

Our souls can sense that we are on the verge of something big—but it’s up to us to initiate change.

We are on the threshold of having massive pieces of the puzzle collide. There may be big changes or upsets in the status quo during the next several weeks. We may find ourselves acting in ways that only a few weeks ago we never thought possible, but Aquarius is lighting a fire inside of our hearts and daring us to break the boundaries that have held us back for far too long.

We can only deny ourselves of what we want the most for so long.

While we may feel anxious at all of the possible changes being presented to ourselves—know that the universe won’t bring us anything we aren’t ready for.

The truth of it is there is no such thing as the perfect time—so now is as good a time as any.

Everything that we have been going through the past year has been leading up to this moon. It’s the time of infinite possibilities, of desires bubbling over and manifesting themselves in our lives in ways we never thought possible.

No matter what has come in or out of our lives in the past few years, once in a while we are given the chance to have everything we’ve always wanted—we just have to make the choice now to not let it go.

Because certain chances only come around once in a blue moon.


Moving madness Happy
11800160_10103662313925393_5208728221572794645_nphotoddd 4phossssto 2
Pals

aaaa

Comments

heart wide open.

This is interesting to get my mind around, or at least try to articulate. After years of work and babysteps (my favorite thing ever), I’m getting very close to “returning to myself”. What does this mean?

For me, it means being able to be my authentic self in 99% of situations, including work, family, etc. I like myself and who I am, no apologies. I spent years running and hiding from the true me, even if subtly at times. Years tamping down my brilliance, sparkle, radiance, energy, light, boldness, vibrancy, joy, fun. Censoring what I really think, fighting against my core values, being with people who sapped my energy instead of lifting me up.
 
It has been a slow crawl of a process of releasing perfectionism, not waiting until things are perfect to show my face, learning how to show my face when it is imperfect, flawed, messy, loud, “too much” at times. I created a new hashtag recently that I love and have been weaving through my life: #growoutloud

The simple secret is that life is really really fucking short. Too short. Heartbreakingly short.
 
I want to dance! Laugh. Smile. Feel light. Be with the ones I love. Why do we let all these other “shoulds” and stressors cloud our way to joy? Life. It takes what it takes. Youth is wasted on the young, as
Greenberg says. Haha… bittersweetly true. As skin start to sag, wrinkle, get bumpy and sunspotty, inner radiance, wisdom, and beauty grows stronger, more stable and confident- so ironic. Happy
 
It has happened in the smallest of ways, unfolding a day, week, month, year, years at a time, peeling back the onion layers, slowly lightening the heavy load we choose to carry, think we are supposed to carry. After a few years of quiet, I can hear my heartbeat, and my song humming. The music has returned, my zeal and thirst for learning is piqued, and I’m hungry for the stuff of being present and available. I’m here, and it feels good.  
 
My friends can see it way better than I can. It is invaluable to have witnesses to go through life with, who can tell you how you are doing when you don’t know and can’t see… they have seen this growth and change and transformation and help me know I’m heading in the right direction. They don’t judge me for taking so long. I’ve learned to gently stand up for what I believe in, to be firm and still kind, to hold people and love them for exactly who they are at any given moment (always continually working on that one Happy).
 
I’m finally doing work I really care about and connect to deeply, and that is so important to me. Since doing it, all kinds of other good things have flowed from this.
 
People can see light in us that we often can’t see.
 
If I have 38 years of being half asleep, and 5 years of being awake, I’ll take that any day over 100 years half asleep. I’m really looking forward to what’s next for me.
 
Here is the deal- the world actually WANTS you to be your truest self! It seems incredible, I know. We are our own worst enemies.
 
It’s all love. Here and now, and forever more. Embrace who you are. Others are so eager to also. Let it happen and open your heart. Watch out- blazing suns ahead! Happy

 

10427337_8065540660blog!47575_6021622000530140748_n11025171_816906045012377_801772761477blog8913898_nblog

Comments

new things.

In order to get something different you have to do something different. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I have been in the learning curve space recently, and lots of new and challenging things have come into my path this past year. Getting out of our comfort zones is one of these cliche things we hear platitudes about and don't give a second thought. But actually BEING out of the comfort zone on a regular basis in several different areas of life- whew! The learning curve is something we talk about in my work with people on their leadership journeys, where we see our growth over time, then a plateau... we can either grow again and learn something new, which dips us down into a valley initially, but we end up higher than when we started, or stay where we are, comfortable and content. If we choose continual growth, the cycle repeats and we go through valleys, and then new, higher peaks with each new area we develop.

This is embodying a growth (versus fixed) mindset (Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization). Being in a growth/learning phase can be uncomfortable! Tonight for example, I went to an event alone. I just realized coming home that I went to an event alone and sober on New Year's Eve! And it was no big deal! There were plenty of people there that I knew so I wasn't the least bit worried. I got a migraine today and so drinking was out of the question. My favorite place in this area was having its last show ever tonight, and I knew it was the right place for me to be so I went. Didn't think anything of going alone, until several people mentioned it and questioned me on it (when asked why, they said, because they never go places alone). Sure, there were a few awkward moments and me just standing around, decidedly more sober than everyone else present. But I just did my thing anyway- why would I let a little social awkwardness get to me? Everyone is awkward in some way or another.

Towards the end of the night when I was getting my coat on to leave, I ended up in an unexpected and really nice conversation with someone that would not have happened had I not ridden through those awkward moments. I ended up rambling on to this person about all the growing pains I'm experiencing from the stretches in my life currently, and even talked about the learning curve effect, and how my confidence has been shaken a bit in certain areas. To steal a line from Meredith in a recent Grey's Anatomy episode, "Progress looks like a bunch of failures." Yes!

I talked to my party companion about how happy I am currently with my own company, and how I realized doing my biannual New Year's letter today all the growth that has been transpiring, and how when I let go of something that kept me squarely in the comfort zone (which can be so hard to get out of, because - its comfortable!) it opened up tremendous space for movement in my life that hasn't stopped coming!


I don't really know how to fake things, truthfully, particularly in conversation... but what you will get from me is genuineness. I don't know how to put on an act or play a game. I am just me at face value, and I "put things out there" as the saying goes. While it can feel unnerving sometimes for me, I'm thinking that maybe it is a good quality to have (we really suck at being insightful in any way towards ourselves). I've been saying a lot lately that the coach needs a coach! And tonight I was pleasantly surprised to have one. I brought up the saying that we are most like the 5 people we spend the most time with, so choose wisely... and we discussed trusting our instincts with people. I left with a smile on my face and inspired to write this post. Not bad for an evening out, alone Happy.


learner-know-thyself-27-638
This quote reminds me of something my friend Cat says that works for her- you want to find the sweet spot where you feel both Safe, and Brave. Don't you just love that? My word for 2014 was Change and my 2015 word is Courage. So I hope to introduce them both even more in the New Year!

clampitt-figure-1-jan-2002

Comments

start each day like it's your birthday!

Below was my Facebook post on my birthday today after a fantastic day all around, having lunch with my family, decorating my Charlie Brown Christmas tree (well, my Grandma decorating it- one of her favorite things to do), special phone calls and songs from little ones, and a cozy bonfire in my front yard with my neighbor friends! Great little article on why fire is so enjoyable and restorative: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/6171508

I am going to get deep for a moment (it’s my birthday post and I can do what I wanna… Laugh):
Birthdays are a great time for me to practice the powerful 4 agreements: Don’t take anything personally. Always do your best. Don’t make assumptions. Be impeccable with your word. Let go of expectations is another one I see rolled up in these as well. 

As I reflect on the kaleidoscope of people in my personal network, I know you all from very different places and times and contexts in my life, scattered around the globe, some in closer mental/physical proximity than others, and yet here you are, still sticking around and showing up for me in various ways. I’m feeling mushy about that. Happy I expected to be thankful at the end of today, but didn’t expect to be so moved by the breadth of love from so many good souls in my life, each one of you making me smile. It is a rich fabric of unique connections that I feel blanketed in. Big love.

This has been a renaissance year for me. There has been hard news too, and I try to remember that the sun and the rain are what make up my rainbow. 

It is truly wild for me to get this opportunity to share myself with so many in the most authentic way I know how. It’s scary at times right? All these different groups and types of people. It’s a thrill in some ways to continue, despite fear, in everything I do, so that I can keep learning and growing. Thanks for bearing witness to that for me, and letting me practice this life stuff with you. Here’s a thought: no one knows what they are doing! So thus we are free to face the world with confidence. Happy Much love and so glad you are with me on this journey. 


20140206-191350 copy
Our cozy fire pit
10649584_10152572253067935_5657900874092227725_n
Me after a great night tonight - got this beautiful cashmere hat as an unexpected gift, thanks Eric Happy
phosdddddto

Comments

vision boards.

I first learned about vision boards I think from Nadia, an employee at the cafe that I ran in Austin, TX, who was completely beautiful inside and out, and had a dry spell of no dating for quite some time. She made a vision board and I remember that when I went back to see her after I had left the cafe, she had found a love and was so happy... and she felt that the vision board helped manifest that in her life.

When I was going through a very challenging time in 2008 (major life challenges were converging at once: my Mom diagnosed with breast cancer, new job, break up with boyfriend, personal health challenges...) I went to a counselor because I was having "trouble with balance!", who encouraged me to do a vision board. I like to do things right when I do them Happy, so I made this kick ass board... and she was very impressed. Since then, it has hung in a couple different places in my home and not too long ago I moved it into my bedroom so I would see it more frequently than in the hall- it makes me happy.

It was time to make a new vision board for 2015, and as I got it started at our first girl's craft night a couple weeks ago, I wondered about this one and if any of it had even come true before I embarked on the next vision. My friend immediately said YES, things have definitely come true! I know I am not a good judge... that is why I have friends thankfully! It is like having a child and being around that child all the time, and not seeing the dramatic growth and change that takes place as well as someone who sees them only a couple times a year. I've gotten a bit desensitized to this thing and couldn't look at it clearly. It's exciting to look at it now and see that my health has drastically improved, my relationships are strong, my work is fulfilling and inspiring, there is joy in my life... it worked right before my eyes and I didn't even realize it!

I hope to finish the new vision board in the coming weeks, and as I look back fondly on this one again, really look at it (something I am working to be better at doing, absorbing the good), I see that Terri is right, and things really have come true. Happy

This exercise is a powerful tool for me, and I'm looking forward to manifesting even more on both in the New Year!


vision boardphsdfsdfdsfoto

Comments

Renaissance-y.

I wrote these scraps of thought on the go, and as I'm coming back to it, I'm just leaving it as it came out- its simple enough to make sense (mostly I think? Winking).

I wanna be a success story- for others to look to. Here's why I'm pushing through fear, self-imposed boundaries, junk, and overcoming barriers and obstacles to expand my contribution. My favorite quote explains it all in a nutshell (fear of success):



Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~ Marianne Williamson

I had my fortune read for me recently, this summer. It was cool. Tarot cards. I got a hermit card for the one that was "behind" me. Since then I've found some connections to this hermit hiding idea. I have to be honest and say that I have been hiding somewhat, in my house, in my life. That is coming to an end, and it's a strange process. Its awkward and messy at times like learning anything is, but ultimately I'm doin' it... Happy To be vulnerable means to be able to be loved. Without even knowing it, I had built up little walls around things, keeping people and things out. Its insidious. Safe. They were stripped down, and had crept up again! Its been an intense few years, and its understandable that I went into turtle shell protect mode. But its time to peek my head out- the coast is clear.

What this "coming out" of hiding is allowing me to do, primarily, is be there for my core best friends/family. It's really touching for me to get my head out of my ass and see that there are people who actually need me! A huge gift that I did not realize because I was only thinking about things from my own, tunnel-vision perspective. Sad

So the way I see it I have two choices:

1) Old way- hiding (hermit). I drew this quote yesterday at a dinner party: "Nothing is more capable of troubling our reason, and consuming our health, than secret notions of jealousy in solitude." ~ Aphra Behn. I wasn't sure what it meant until my friend pointed out it was the hermit concept. Oh! Man.

2) New way- move forward. Be who I am. Be afraid and do it anyway. Do it BECAUSE I am afraid.

Once you know another way, its pretty much impossible to go back anyway. We still do it, but it really sucks and we feel guilty for doing it. Its worse than not knowing! Ugh. OK, for you non-conceptual thinkers, I know I am losing you. Happy But bear with me!

I have been calling this period my Renaissance. It has been the summer of love, the summer of freedom, summer of facing reality, summer of discovery, summer of the creative and the brave. I can hear the universe whispering to me, saying "it's your time now, child." "Go be your full, rainbow-ific self!" People are being put in my path that support me and my philosophy, and that want to help me. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!


Fear-Redmoon

Comments

25 years of Crohn's.

25 years of Crohn's. Woah does that sound heavy looking at it in a sentence, in word form. So concrete and data parametered, defined. There's no hiding from numbers.

Thing is, numbers don't mean much to me, just swirl around in a survivor's haze, and I peek my head out now and then to come up for air. I feel young and "behind" and just waking up, which is why I always describe the experience as Rip VanWinkle-y. Nowadays I'm hitting my stride more and it's so exciting. For the first time, I am living my life from a stronger platform, getting to make informed choices and experience the present more fully. There are still plenty of challenges, of course. But I'll take these struggles any day over all the rest.

I think about what has kept me going, and even though at first glance my aesthetic may appear fluffy and over the top with all it's cheery rainbow goodness, it runs deep. The motto came to me at a time when I was having my first relapse of Crohn's and was out of high school for a month. I felt like I was dying, and I had to rely on the small things to keep me going. When I received a love note from someone that said "It takes both the sun and the rain to make a rainbow," it clicked. I didn't always like the fact that there were hard times, and I was 16- quite a dramatic and tumultuous time. The phrase has taken on deeper layers of understanding over the years for sure, and I can look back now at that streaky blur of an existence I had, clinging on for dear life while the wind blew me sideways, and see that rainbows
are roads between dreams- those rainbows during the dark times kept me hanging on and believing that there was a higher purpose. The roads have been long, 25 years long some of them, and I am weary sometimes. But I continue to trudge the road of happy destiny, because these roads are leading me to my dreams! It doesn't matter how long it takes. Being on the road is the journey that is important to where I will go and the dreams I have, I now realize. Those roads and walks are making me who I am: strong, funny, mentally tough, appreciative, grateful, tenacious, persistent, dedicated, sharp, competent, knowledgeable, my own Chief Medical Officer and health case worker/manager. I know stuff! People come to me for advice.

I remember visiting my cousin Guy in England and talking to him about his job- he is a private investigator for Scotland Yard, which is like the Brit's version of the FBI. I used to want to be in the FBI as a special agent (until my poor vision shattered those dreams!) and I was enthralled by his work, and wanted to know how I could sign up! He laughed and told me that I needed to put in my time as a beat cop for 20 years first. Wahhh Whannt Whaaaa.... that was a letdown! Happy But I think of it now seeing this magnet on my fridge below, and feel warm inside knowing that my connection with rainbows is something to the core and almost indescribable (yet I still try) - somehow I knew as a kid that they were placeholders, transporters to other dimensions and places (a la Rainbow Brite) and that I could rely on them to get me safely to the place I needed to be, when the time was right.

photxddo

Being a bone fide child of the 80's, I LOVED Rainbow Brite. I can vividly remember Starlite's (her horse) clomping as they trotted away on a rainbow bridge that they made appear with stardust to go help or save something. I always wanted to stand on a rainbow like they did, and still do Happy

rb-and-starlite-rainbow-brite-263731_300_236

Paint a Rainbow In Your Heart
If this doesn't make you smile, or get stuck in your head the rest of the day... Happy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMLJ3JJOBFs

Comments