Light Bulb Moment No. 2

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Photo courtesy of Her Kind of Tea Tumblr.com

It was only day two at my new gig and I was so tired.  Like showered, in my pajamas, dinner devoured, on my couch, feet up, television on by 6:30pm and we’ll see if I stay awake past 9pm tired. But even in my weariness, I was determined that I wasn’t going out like that tonight. The night before I absolutely gave in to the tired and watched TV until I woke up and realized TV was watching me. Tonight I knew I needed to make some time to do something that feeds my soul. Michael Ealy on my television wasn’t gonna cut it. So, I decided I’d listen to a pod cast.

The pod cast that caught my eye…“7 tip for Surviving Seasons of Change” with Chrystal Evans Hurst. Kinda perfect for a chick like me on her third out of state move forte last three summers. As I listened and she talked about giving yourself time. Like slow it down. Be flexible. And then giving yourself space. Physically, but also mentally, and emotionally. Then she said “Change is hard. Change takes work.” “Oh my gosh yes!,” I said to the four walls of my bedroom.

You’d think that as a counselor by training, practice, and purpose in life I would know this. That I would eat, sleep, breathe this fact. However, I knew that part of my weariness was not just because of all that comes with a new life change but how I was managing it and how gracious I was not being with myself in the change.  How much I was leaning on my grit, and leaving behind the grace that is needed because change, even when it is necessary or chosen in hopes of something amazing, it is hard and it takes work.  The things in life that are hard and take work (relationships, loss of any kind, trauma, a promotion, going to school or back to school, weight management, etc.), are the things in life where we are all the better for when we choose to honor this truth and treat ourselves with grace, love, understanding, and care. 

Here’s hoping this adds a little light to your day! xxoo

Welcome Back to Wednesday

We are back at Wednesday and back at the end of yet another month leaving us mere months away from another new year. It has been a strange week for a number of reasons, but sitting here in my in progressing home office sipping tea and reflecting back on the day and the days before I find myself swiftly moving past some recollections and lingering in the fondness of others. I suppose that’s how the whole looking back thing goes right? Look back just long enough to have perfect hindsight but not too long as we need not get stuck in the past, no matter how awful or awesome it was.  Here are a few wise words abut looking back to get you over the hump! xxoo

back quoute1

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Sober Julie.com

Photo courtesy of Sober Julie.com

Photo courtesy of Wishes Quotes.com

Photo courtesy of Wishes Quotes.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Back at Starbucks

Photo courtesy of Virginia Fasulyan

We were sitting in Starbucks. My dad and I. For those reading this and you know my dad, and Starbucks, go ahead and laugh. I wooed my dad to Starbucks with their lemon cake. If I went to Starbucks, after my writing, reading, and sipping was done, I’d grab a piece of lemon cake for him and he’d swing by my space to visit and indulge in lemony goodness. Our Sundays were busy and I’d soon be heading back to Maryland, so we decided to gather at Starbucks. He got his lemon cake and a mocha. We talked, laughed, and about an hour and a half later we parted ways. Not long after we parted ways he sent me a text thanking me and sharing he enjoyed himself. At 31 years old, it was the first time my dad and I went to Starbucks.

Fifteen years ago I sat in a different Starbucks with my mother. Instead of a tall soy green tea latte, I was sipping a tall vanilla latte. I shared with my mother that once in college I had no intent on maintaining a relationship with my dad. College was my out and I was using it as such. While I am sure many families have their share of dysfunction I was certain my family was one of the few who went back to the buffet of dysfunction for a second serving. I was too young at the time to see that my father was not the sole proprietor of the dysfunction which was why I had no interest in maintaining a relationship with him. Truthfully, I was not interested in maintaining a relationship with dysfunction.

Photo courtesy of Antonio Mora

Photo courtesy of Antonio Mora

Had you told me when I was fifteen that my dad and I would sit at a Starbucks, enjoy each other’s company, tease each other about our beverages of choice, I would not have believed you. I would have respectfully listened, maybe interrupted with slight protest, awkwardly and nervously laughed, and as soon as we parted ways rolled my eyes and called you a liar. Looking back, I just didn’t see that happening. It was not a part of my plan to work on myself and my relationship with my dad. How could it have been at 16?

At age 17 I decided to do some work, primarily at the encouragement of my mother. I started counseling the spring semester of my first year of college and stuck with it until my senior year spring semester. I only stopped seeing my counselor because I was at a different campus that semester.

At age 21, a few months after I  graduated undergrad, started my first full time job at a non profit in downtown Philadelphia, my mother decided to leave my father after 22 years of marriage.  At age 21, I decided that I was going to work on myself and my relationship with my dad. I decided to find a counselor, use my hard earned non profit not quite $30000.00 a year money to pay out of pocket, and go to counseling.  At age 31, that decision was one of the absolute best decisions I have made.

Photo courtesy of Lucia O'Connor McCarthy

Photo courtesy of Lucia O’Connor McCarthy

Looking back, choosing to go to counseling taught me:

  1. I can ask for help and receive help.
  2. Asking for help is not a demonstration of weakness or incompetency.
  3. I am responsible for me.
  4. It’s okay to say no. People may not like it and that is for them to manage, not me.
  5. I am not my parents and I am not destined to their successes or failures.
  6. I am not my past; yet I can use it as a powerful tool to craft my future.
  7. Boundaries keep what needs to be in my life in and what needs to stay out of my life out.
  8. I’m not crazy and when I am in relationships or environments that constantly make me feel crazy it is appropriate for me to assess and exit as needed.
  9. Commitment is a choice and not a trap.
  10. It’s okay to not be in relationship with people who don’t know how to value me.
  11. It’s okay to disagree and to communicate that I disagree.
  12. I get to choose who is worthy of me sharing myself and my life with.

There are lots of other things I have learned from being in counseling over the years. Yet I find that these handful of takeaways are ones I refer back to from time to time. These are the ones weren’t a part of my upbringing, yet weren’t too late to learn and implement for a more grounded and joyful present,and certainly a more positive and hopeful future. These are the ones that I regularly remind clients, students, family members, ad friends of as they navigate their own life journeys.

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks talking about the power of looking back and even going back from time to time. It’s easy to let the past lay alone as a memory mentally shelved in a closet labeled “do not open.” It’s easy to not go back, or to decide that going back somehow either reflects poorly on us or is a badge of honor if going back proves difficult. If we can go back to that which was painful or hard then back can be a good thing. Poppycock.

Photo courtesy of Lala sparkles Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Lala sparkles Tumblr.com

The reality is that as long as we know when and how to let go of whatever happened in the “back,”we are fine. It’s when we don’t that we impede our present and either stumble towards or never get to our futures. When we allow going back to become mountains in the valleys of our lives, we risk never getting to our promised land. When we can look back or go back and see what we need to glean, gather it, and carry on, then that indeed is just another way we can be, do, and LIVE well.

Mind The Gap & Take The Leap

As the train lurched into the station to a slow screeching stop an announcement was made “Please watch the gap as you are exiting the train.”  I was curious as to how big this gap was, especially as it was announcement worthy. Nonetheless as I made my exit, oversized tote bag in hand, I was mindful of the gap. As I walked toward the stairs I glanced back at the train and the gap between it and the platform. It wasn’t a huge gap, but it was there, and I knew that if I or any other passengers weren’t paying much attention we could get hurt.

Looking forward it’s often easy to see things so that we can know how to plan and navigate accordingly. We step left to miss the puddle. We swerve right to avoid the pot hole. We purchase the extra bottle of wine in case someone shows but forgot to RSVP. We remember the meeting may be in a frigid space and we grab the cardigan before heading out. We listen to the announcement and we mind the gap, stepping over it carefully.

Photo courtesy of Yellow Trace Tumblr.com

Looking back, there is no planning or navigating. The event has happened. We stepped in the dog mess so now we are cleaning of four shoes. We hit the pot hole and Uncle Ralph can squeeze us in at 5:30 this evening to fix the axel. We didn’t get to the store for the wine because we were already running late to our own party and four people who didn’t RSVP did show up. We forgot the sweater and by the time it was our turn to give the report we were shivering and our nipples were embarrassingly showing through the blush colored silk blouse we wore. We look back at the gap, and we are thankful for the announcement.

A few weeks ago one of the speakers at The Yellow Conference shared that as she looked back at her time abroad and the things that moved her, looked at her present employment situation which she knew was pretty fantastic, and looked forward to what she wanted for her life, there was a gap. There was a gap between her past experience abroad working to empower women in a country where they were anything but, and her present. She was presently employed with a great company, working in the field she had studied in undergraduate school. There was also a gap between her present and her future. In her future she saw herself empowering women and doing so closely related to how she had been able to do so when she was abroad.  She decided to mind the gap. She decided to be mindful about the gap. With the gap on her mind, she closed it by quitting her job and going back to empower those women to create items she would sell in the US and these women would have income and be able to complete their education.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Before I got off the train and before the announcement was ever made I was reading a magazine. The article was about what some article at some point in just about every women’s magazine is about at some point in the year- having it all. As an aside, I personally don’t want it all, and other than balancing checkbooks, I’m not pro life balance as much as integration. I’m pro being one whole person, not two selves that need constant balance. I digress. The article reminded me of the gap between the few things I wanted for myself and paralleled them against my realty.  But I didn’t get stuck in the gap. I didn’t fall in. I spent the remaining twenty minutes thinking of ways to close the gap and being mindful of my current reality. I was choosing to mind the gap in my life. 

I don’t want to look back at the gaps in my life and see that they have become vast canyons that I could slip into at any moment. I don’t want to waste my life digging myself out of gaps I knew existed but never paid attention to. I don’t want to be so close to the platform of what’s next for me, but allowing my foot to get stuck between the experiences that brought me to the moment and my entry into the opportunity.

Photo courtesy B Smart Guide.com

Photo courtesy B Smart Guide.com

Mondays are great days to mind the gap for your entire week. How much of your week will get planned around anything and everything but what you need and want for yourself?  How many days will you choose not to update your resume and apply for a new job, talk to your adviser and switch majors, decide that your child does not need to be in ballet, soccer, and karate and by scaling back one activity you get more time to I don’t know finish writing that cook book you started eight years and two children ago?

I don’t want Friday to come this week and you look back and the gap has become a chasm. May you mind the gap this Monday. xxoo

Simply Celebrating…The End?!?

Photo courtesy of One Fab Day.com

Photo courtesy of One Fab Day.com

It was barely 8pm and there I was curled up on my sister’s couch with a glass of red wine courtesy of my mom, in my night clothes, ready to call it a Sunday night. The weekend had been eventful, the day long, and Monday was on the rise with girlfriend catch ups with some of my best girls.

Within the hour the tv was off, wine consumed, lights out, and I was staring at the ceiling replaying the day. We had a Party!
My Dad graduated and 40 of his closest friends from age 3 to 82 gathered to toast and roast him. There was good and music, laughter and games, a sweet video of congratulatory shenanigans from his family that my youngest brother created, water ice, pretzels, and cake. There were tears of joy, of recalled memories of how trying his last 3 years of school and life had been, and of gratitude for every person, encouraging word, joke, and prayer that helped carry him through. It was lovely, I was tired, and yet felt strangely happy and curious upon its ending.Cross country party planning is not easy, but it was so worth it.

Photo courtesy of Tirzah Magazine

Photo courtesy of Tirzah Magazine

If I am honest that strangely happy curious feeling has made itself my companion this month. I have celebrated several endings, and will celebrate another this evening with my dear friend Magda.

There is a true joy that comes with something coming to an end. Sometimes that joy is immediate, like when you were tight on funds and payday comes, and sometimes it takes time to catch up, like when we end the relationship we convinced ourselves was as good as it gets and then an even better one really does come along (and sometimes that even better relationship is with ourselves!!!). My Dad was certainly happy school came to an end and months ago as the end neared he started working on what he wanted to be next. I won’t lie, as I removed the last of the decorations for the party I asked…”So who graduates next?”.
There was the last day of my job this month. That joy was rather immediate. There’s moving…again. Although the last day in my current space is next month, there is the happiness that has come with packing and my brief chapter on Spokane, WA coming to a close. There’s boatloads of curiosity, excitement, anticipation, and expectation for what will happen next, which I am still figuring out. If you are reading this and have been a part of my Spokane, WA experience, yes there is sadness, but that’s for a different post. I promise.

Photo courtesy of Hailey Cheyanne

Photo courtesy of Hailey Cheyanne

There’s saying adios to a safe haven of mine. It’s my friend’s place and she is moving. But for years it was one of the best places I could be vulnerable. While I know it is with her I can be vulnerable with, it just isn’t the same as walking to her place with food from one of our favorite local eateries and sharing and enjoying the gift of our friendship amid those ivory walls, blue carpets, and the randomly humming heater. Yet I couldn’t be more excited and curious for this new chapter in her life.

In fact, I don’t know too many endings that don’t make room for new beginnings. I think endings AND beginnings are celebration worthy. They are worthy of validating and acknowledging what has happened and gearing up for what can and/or will happen. Here’s to the end of the month and the start of the week. Here’s to all that was accomplished this month, memories made, and decisions decided upon. Here’s to next month and the opportunities it will bring to create new memories, make new decisions, and LIVE well.

Photo courtesy of LaLa Lovely via Liz Marie Blog.com

Photo courtesy of LaLa Lovely via Liz Marie Blog.com

The Simply LIVED Life Turns Dos xxoo

The Simply LIVED Life is two sweet years old this today!!! It was a huge year of transition, from changing the frequency of postings to giving the blog a makeover, increasing community members to include some amazing regular readers from the west coast, to keeping a slow and steady beat while I tended to some offline business. There was moving across the country and preparing to move across the country again (I think), doing my speaking at national conferences thing again, publishing a book, meeting someone pretty super cool (and it was on Christmas eve no less and he’s still in the picture. wink wink.), and so on and so on. Yet and still we  (the blog and I) are still here and beyond excited about what the next year has in store. Hopefully…cupcakes, bubbly, wisdom, truth, adventure, community, and you! Scroll through the sweet celebratory pictures courtesy of my friend Jolyn Dahlvig and leave a few well wishes, words of wisdom, and things you hope to read and chat about on the blog in the next year will ya? #DareToShare  xxoo

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