Category Archives: children

Be Kind

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Julie Andres 1959. Photo Credit: 1stdibs

You wouldn’t believe the number of people who approach me and say how timely our business is. The whole MeToo movement, and all. Oddly enough, even though we are a women’s empowerment company, and having been raped myself possess an intimate understanding of the trials and hardships involved; I’ve never zeroed in and tried to push our presence within the movement. The business was started before the movement, not because of it. 

We are here to support women, not capitalize from their pain. Ours aren’t viral quotes slapped onto t-shirts. Our messages are hard-lived, intelligent and far from flippant. And our clothes are quality pieces, responsibly sourced from company’s with ethical work practices. We’ve chosen to empower from thread up. 

Most of all, we are here for all women, regardless of who they are, where they live, how much money they make or the level of education they’ve received. We don’t care the size, shape or ethnicity. We know, first hand, that we’re all one – and we’re not the product of our past. We are not what has been done to us, and we are not what has been said about us. That’s where the rebel kicks in. I come from a long line of rebels. And I think every woman needs to dig deep and find the rebel within. And in doing so, rebel against the idea that they are not enough.

I had someone once say they love one of our pieces, the one that reads: Believe In Yourself – you are enough. Except, she said, it needs to read: you are more than enough. I get what she was saying. However, what she was saying goes against one of the pillars with which we’re built. I want us to stop measuring ourselves. Plain and simple. Once you realize that you are enough – you’ve always been enough – it was how you were born – it is how you will always be – stay there. 

Once you incorporate the word “more,” things get dicey, things get judgy. It’s sly and insidious, but trust me on this one, once you start considering yourself to be more of anything, than the voice in your mind also begins to toy with the notion that you are less. But when you are – enough – you are enough. You are not barely enough. You are enough. 

I don’t know why all of this is on my mind so heavily today. Perhaps because as I continue to grow this company, the pressures begin to mount; the forks in the road become a bit more stressful. Go this way for more money, or this way for more purpose. I’ve never been ruled by money, I generally choose purpose and let the cards fall where they may. And my purpose in investing all that I am and all that have in this company is to help women to be kinder to themselves; to stop judging themselves so harshly. Once we are kinder to ourselves, we are naturally kinder to others. And in that we help to empower everyone. 

It takes great strength to be kind. Especially in a world where kindness is seen as weakness. But believe me, it takes phenomenal strength, often warranting reaching mega deep within one’s self, to be kind in the face of adversity or fear. Anyone can be a jerk. The world is filled with people behaving as jack-asses. Doing so is easy. So, as you embark on your weekend think about being kind. When the voice in your head is critical of you or others – don’t reward it with your attention. It’s merely the weakest muscle responding from habitual use – it’s a habit. Be good to you. At your core you are pure positive energy; love. Tap into it, even if it takes a bit of reaching. In time, it’ll get easier. In time those muscles will grow. And in time, it will be your new habit and oh, how good it will feel.

Sane

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My Mother. My Safe Space.

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The Young Writer, Awards Night with Mom.

I remember one time in middle school having to call home. I can’t recall my reason. Complaints of illness, perhaps. My father was in the hospital a lot during that time; his body shutting down due to his advanced alcoholism. I mustered all the courage I could find to make my way to the office to express my needs. An anxiety-inducing task for this shy, young girl, in and of itself. But the office secretary required me to call and talk to my mother, directly. As soon as I heard her voice, on the other end, I cried. There’s just something about my mother’s voice that cuts to the core of me, and exposes my heart wide.

Most likely because my soul knew that with her, I was safe. Safety can do that to a person. The ego, which so often tells us how hardened we must be due to this world, has a difficult time convincing us of the same when it comes to certain safe people.

After rushing my son to the hospital due to his brain tumor, it was my mother who again provided this safe space in my hotel room each night. Not my husband. My mother. She sat quiet while I railed against God for coming after my son. She sat quiet while I wept afterward, asking forgiveness for all the harsh words I had just spoken. Her silence wasn’t judgmental. She did one of the most giving things one can do for another, she allowed me to work through my emotions while holding me in the safe space of Love and Light.

I went through a rather hard time at the conclusion of this last year. One that pushed me not only to the edge of my physical being, but more importantly, one that made me question myself as a spiritual guide. It was she that I called. And as soon as I heard her voice I cried.

My tears have always been safe with my mother. I am so grateful for her.

Dear reader, people matter. People are one of the most significant, magical, loving ways through which Spirit works with us, and for us. I lost my mother the other night. It was unexpected. I didn’t get to say goodbye.

While racing to the hospital I spoke directly to her spirit. Oh dear reader don’t think for a second that the little girl in me didn’t want to beg her to stay. It did. But my own soul wouldn’t let me be selfish. Instead, it pushed me to operate from a place of love. So I told my mother that if she wanted to stay that the Heavens would support her. But if she wanted to go, I understood. It was okay. I wouldn’t hold it against her. Within seconds of my words entering the air around me, my mother’s presence entered my Jeep, and settle onto the passenger seat beside me. At first I felt my body resist, as if I could push against, and thus change reality. Then I softly broke, and felt her riding along next to me. I knew.

And now I find myself bouncing between the world of extremes. My physical, emotional and spiritual being wanting only to feel her dainty arms wrapped around me, once again. And the world that demands that I discuss how to handle her passing, often using terms so technical I have to remind myself they are actually talking about my mother.

When I left the hospital, the other night, I told her that I wasn’t strong enough for this, not yet. She returned to the passenger seat, cigarette in hand, as it usually was, and said, “Yes you are.” She never really did mince words. The majority of who I am agrees with her. The small child in me needs time. But the all of me sees the love, knows the love and feels the love. And the all of me is so very grateful that I was given this beautiful, feisty, little Indian scout as a mother. She pulled me through so many rough times. She held me like no other. She loved me like no other. She was like no other. I hope I blessed her life as much as she blessed mine.

Sane

Getting Them There

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My son suffers from what is called, atypical migraines. This being a side effect he endures from a year and half of chemotherapy. Even early on, after having his first bout, we both agreed that he is blessed. The list of possible side effects given to me prior to his surgery and treatment was so lengthy, even with something as debilitating as migraines are, he is blessed to have so few residuals from his time spent with cancer.

Life provides us the tools we need to grow in various ways. They do not always come by way of religious text or even spiritual text. Some of our most important catalysts for expansion come by way of every day things. My son’s atypical migraines are no exception. They have been a pivotal learning point for him as well as me.

Many of you already know I used to speak publicly on the subject of raising confident children. It is what sits at the heart of my children’s chapter book series and it sits at the core of how I parent. But it wasn’t always that way. There was a pivotal point in my life that caused me to change how I view everything, both inward and outward. Whereas I used to believe I was on this earth solely to bring my children into this world and tend to them while here, certain spiritual events occurred that revealed the error of my perception. The souls housed within my children had chosen me as their guide. Their souls were not concerned with the level of wealth I could drape upon them. Nor were their souls concerned with the ease of living I could provide. The soul never cares about such things. There is a line in my favorite poem by Kahlil Gibran that reads: You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. And that is what their souls wanted from me.

I’m not afraid to admit dear reader, that prior to this vital time in my life I was blind to my own ways. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t empowered. Both due to my own choices. And that unfulfilled bow was the launching point from which the arrows that are my children flew. Everything changed for me once my awareness shifted. Everything. I began empowering myself, thereby empowering them. One moment in particular displays this shift in clarity. My son was driving back from college with his sister in tow. He called home. An atypical migraine was descending upon him. He didn’t know what to do. And everything in me wanted to scoop him under my wing and drive him home. For those who don’t know, atypical migraines involve having a temporary, pixelated impairment to one eye, among other things. What I did next would either disable him or enable him. Instead of dropping the bow, I held it steady and guided him on how to do it on his own. The plan: Don’t panic. Compensate for the visual disturbance. Go slow. And if it becomes dangerous, I’ll come get you.

I sat for the next hour with tears in my eyes and breath suspended in my chest. I knew he was being given the chance to experience for himself his own strength. I could not make the moment about me and mine. The moment was about him and his. So I did as I knew I was suppose to do, I steadily launched the arrow, and waited.

He made it home safe, and I exhaled. But now, so many years later he knows his own power. A truth he would not own if I had taken it from him. When the effects of a migraine descend upon him he knows he’ll be alright. Like a small child who falls for the first time then looks at their parent for the appropriate response my son looked to me. What my response was then, is his response now. Don’t panic. You can do this. You’ll be alright. And yesterday, my very typical college son who works a meager paying job for summer employment did not call in to work when he awoke with an atypical migraine, he texted me instead and said: I can do this. I’ll be alright.

I don’t believe parenting is so difficult. But parenting well is. Often it has required a level of strength within me I wasn’t sure I had. That’s how I know these catalysts were meant for me, as well. I’m blessed to be launching these two souls. I make many mistakes along the way, but I know they bring to the world their joy, strength and depth. And I hope my bow is what gets them there.

Sane

Individual Distinction

I have never had the desire for normalcy, not in the sense of being like the rest. This made for an odd-fitting youth. But as I aged, I realized there was nothing to be gained by being a close facsimile to someone else. We all have the ability to stand out. But few are those that move their feet away from the crowd.

I have an interview tomorrow in which I will discuss my children’s book series. More importantly, I will discuss how to raise a confident child. I wasn’t confident when young. I clawed my way toward self acceptance. Let’s just say I have strong arms now. Many of us come about it in that way, but it needn’t be. So if I can help even one child, I will.

When we stand alone, unique in our presence, our beauty, our very way of being, we tend to think we are flawed. And there will be many that will contribute to that belief, if allowed.

I could easily say: Love yourself, accept yourself, you aren’t different. But that is too simplistic and not necessarily the truth. We are all a bit different. But many do not have the courage to allow that which is within and sets us apart to shine through. Instead, we work hard to become a vanilla-bland, homogenized version of everyone else. No good can come of that. To deny oneself is the worst crime imaginable. And one that will haunt us till our final days.

Individual distinction; actors build careers from being it, writers depend upon it, artists seek it out.

Better to realize that rarely is a movie fascinating to watch, a book thrilling to read, if the lead character isn’t also unique. As a writer, we build our careers from gleaning the stand out’s from the crowd, and telling their story. My children’s books center around a girl who faces the challenges of being different. My novels parallel my own world, and we all know that I am not quite like the rest. But who should want such a thing. I don’t. I know when I buy a painting, I only do so because it is truly different in its beauty. Our eyes scan over that which is alike, but stop when viewing something unique.

We work hard to become cookie cutter humans, and yet I don’t feel that was ever our intent. If so, our finger prints would be alike. No. We are all given unique characteristics both inside and out. We either cover them up, or we let them stand on their own. The one may help to ensure less challenges and ridicule, but the latter brings the greater reward.

If I could say anything to every child out there it would be that nothing is better than standing a bit left of center. Those whom you will find there are the best of the lot. And not only is there more elbow room, the view is spectacular.

Sane

Running Away

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One of the most tangible memories I have as a child was of my brother, mother and me fleeing for our lives from my father. It seemed even while on vacation we were not given a reprieve from the instability that was the crux of my childhood. As memories go, it is one that still has texture and sound. I can hear my mother screaming for us to get into the car. I can hear my father beating his fist hard on the hood as the motor struggled to turn over. I remember the way I trembled. I remember the fear in my mother’s eyes. I remember the profound silence that permeated the chaos of the moment. More than anything, I can still taste the powerlessness.

As the miles separating us from my father’s alcoholic rage increased, I tried to breathe. But I learned early that it was wise only to release small breathes, because soon enough I might be required to once again hold my breath. But there was relief; small but sure. Until my mother turned the car around. And I realized in that instant it was not safe to relax, as we were heading back into the unpredictable storm.

Although this is far from my worst memory. It is a stone imbedded into the foundation that sits at the base of who I am. Held in by years of mortar, this stone would take an army to dislodge. However, I have no intention of doing so, as its not necessary. This one painful piece of foundation carries a purpose. That incident, among many, taught me the delicate-finger hold mankind has on sanity. The frailty that is revealed, the frailty that is hidden.

Although as a child I was powerlessness, as an adult I am not. I look back proudly at my tumultuous past. Because all of those moments created within me a person who would rather wrestle dragons than run from them. My foundation, although painful, is strong. Perhaps something beyond me knew I would require such a footing, and thus it was given to me. Either way, I have it now.

The things that matter to me, differ greatly from many of the things that matter to others. Things that I think little of revealing, often make others cringe due their raw, seemingly vulnerable nature. And yet, to me, these things are neither raw nor vulnerable. They are truths. And truths regardless of their ugliness or concealed sacredness, are strengthened by our acknowledgement of them. More so, we are strengthened by our acknowledgment of them. And by doing such, these markers, stones from our past, take on their own profound beauty. Beauty isn’t always created by the lovely things in life. Beauty can be found through the shades of strength required to survive. Beauty is as much that which is pretty as that which is profound. And through that knowing, I think little of sharing my beauty, as painful as it may be, with you. As I know, it helps you to see the beauty within the part of you that you may view as raw and vulnerable.

There are many kinds of beauty to be seen in this world, if we know where to look. I think its best not to turn our eye only onto those things that are glossy and picturesque. Instead, see beauty in a leaf that has turned its last shade of deep amber before falling to the ground. See it in the eyes of a child who’s waiting nervously to hear that they did well. See it within the most blustery day, and coldest night. Most of all see it when you look at the most frail amongst us, because hidden within them, is someone who has not yet discovered their beauty.

Sane

Listening to Spinnerette – Baptized By Fire

Old Souls

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I was talking with a friend the other day, and the comment was made about old souls. This comment being made by me, as I’m a believer in such. I have no evidence to support this belief. Regardless, it is a belief by which I stand. Let me tell you why.

When one takes a bird’s eye view of the world, their perception changes. Some people can’t remove themselves to that extent. But for those who can, people are seen in a different light. From this angle, no one is better than. No one is worse than. Instead, everyone is seen merely reacting to life.

It is in how they react that convinces me that they are either an old soul or a new soul. I have to imagine a new soul is much like that of a child. They dive into this world with wonder, but they also act out easily. When hurt they hurt back. When scared, they run and hide.They struggle to articulate what rests upon their heart. And often, have a hard time seeing beyond their own feelings. Very much like that of a child. But children also carry with them an innocence that is breathtaking, and can’t be found within those who’ve been around awhile. A child’s optimism is contagious and addictive.

And then there are those who react less impetuously. They aren’t filled with as much fear, jealousy and insecurity. They’d rather give than take. They tend to ensure the happiness of others a bit more than that of themselves. They often think beyond their initial impulse and question the impact of their actions. I would go so far as to say these souls have had time to age. Often, the downside to such aging is that a bit of enthusiasm gets lost along the way. These souls are tired. Not angry, spiteful or bitter. Just tired from having logged the many years since they too were young.

Regardless of age, people can add to the life of another, just as easily as they can take from that life. It isn’t easy to preserve oneself while dealing with the actions of others. But its easier when their actions are viewed from a distance. Once objectively viewed, the soul’s maturity is revealed.These might just be the whimsical thoughts of this peculiar writer. But if so, one has to question why someone who is fifty can be riddled with fear, all the while someone of the same age knows: all is well. How two people of the same physical age can have two vastly different views; how one who has been subjected to great tragedy has the ability to react with inner peace, while one who has seen little turmoil reacts overtly amazes me. Surely there is a reason for this. But then again, I tend to want to believe we are more than just the chemical and electrical impulses coursing through our body. I believe it is the part of ourselves that we can’t quite account for, that defines us. Philosophers, predating me by hundreds of years, have always professed that the mind gathers knowledge while the soul gathers wisdom. The mind thinks, the soul knows. I agree. Of course, I could be wrong. But I don’t think so.

Sane

I’d Like To Introduce Myself

I had mentioned that I was writing an article for a magazine: The Day That Changed Your Life. My mother wanted me to enter this particular contest, and thus I have. It’s a 2,000 word essay, although mine comes in under that mark. Have no worries, it’s a quick read. As many of you know, I write like the current. I purposefully try to pull you along with me until we reach the end.

For those who have wondered who I am, these words paint that picture. My hope is that I’ve done so eloquently and poignantly. Either way, this is me – exposed. By viewing those who allow themselves to be seen, we can finally view ourselves. So please, look on.

The Weight of Many Moments

Its said that time is not linear. Instead, time is like that of a column. And within that column all moments exist in the present. Even though science supports this, my logical mind struggles to comprehend its true meaning. But then my soul speaks, and tries to explain: We are the culmination of all things, all experiences, and all moments in time. The moment that is now, is the moment that was then.

When the soul speaks it doesn’t always do so with a gentle voice. It may start with a delicate whisper, but once gasping for air – its forced to yell. For many of us, it shouts through the voice of depression. All my life I’ve struggled with depression. My life felt much like that of wearing a coat that didn’t fit. Regardless of how suffocatingly tight it was, I kept forcing the buttons to close. I knew the coat; its familiarity was comforting even if I hated how it made me feel.

One day the buttons burst, and as a result, I was forced to confront the exposed person within. That was the day I wrote my first novel. Within that moment, a certain energy moved through my fingers, and onto the page. The words that came into focus before me, were the words my soul needed to say. Four weeks later, the novel had been written. And no longer was I able to hide myself within a coat that didn’t fit.

I was forced to sit alone, in a room with my demons. I talked to them, and they talked to me. I learned that all that dwells within us is there for a reason; a purposeful intent. If allowed room to breathe, if not smothered but seen for the valuable elements they are, we come into balance. This type of balance isn’t achieved by jettisoning the parts of our inner self with which we are uncomfortable. Its achieved by repositioning them and seeing them in a different light. The whole of my soul had work to do, and the only one standing in its way was me.

By staring at the darkness within me, I was able to see that it possessed a certain beauty. Without darkness we have no reason for light. My darkness, or that which I believed to be the dark and ugly within me, was integral to the foundation on which my inner beauty sits. For a painting to come to life, it often has to be set against a dark background. Dark contrast is required to make the lighter, more delicate colors stand out. Soft pink is easily overlooked when set against equally demure hues. Every painter knows, such contrast is a must. The soul is similar to a painting; it’s an expression of God and one’s self.

My novel flowed so quickly, it wasn’t until I read it for myself that I processed its true meaning: Do not deny who you are. And with that, my mind’s eye glanced back over the last forty years of my life; from the days when I would sit wide-eyed with my alcoholic father, trying to explain to him a God that exceeds all explanation, to the day the Universe honored my wish and attempted to end my life. With my struggles now sitting across from me, I formed a kinship with all that I had previously tried to disown. And because of that, I now wear my darkness as proudly as I wear my light.

Life is a great deal like a card game. We look at what’s in our hand, pull out the worst of it, and slide it face down across the table. In the doing, we hope Fate slides something better our way. We hesitantly pick up the card and try to make sense of what we are seeing. I never could. But that’s because I viewed a bad card as punishment. I could not see how something that hurt, could ever bring about a winning hand.

With every passing day, with every card we pull from our fingers, another is given to us. I had reached a point where I had no more desire to live than I had to die. Neither prompted a response in me. Death, at least, brought a certain relief. This I knew. Knowing that feeling, I can fault no one that chooses such an end. For some of us there comes a sincere moment when all we want, is to slowly set the cards down, push our chair from the table, and walk away. There is peace within that feeling. I had that feeling. Instead of dreaming of an ocean front home or standing on the shore with my children, I dreamt of no longer listening to my mind try to make sense of a nonsensical world.

On an evening when a blue moon sat in the sky, I came within two millimeters of losing my life. Lying on the side of the road, unconscious to the world around me, I became conscious of the world that lives beyond. I looked, but not with eyes, I listened, but not with ears. I knew the space I occupied was without end. I had no heartbeat and no pain. It was divine. While there I knew my fate was being decided. And as if a meeting was taking place behind closed doors, I waited for a decision to be made. I felt things shift, and forced back into place. My mind tumbled painfully into the world for which I was most familiar. Apparently, my work was not yet done.

A year later to the day, I slid my body down the wall and onto the floor of the Intensive Care Unit outside my son’s room. Within the constant noise of the hospital, my world was once again turned quiet. When I walked, there was no ground beneath my feet. And when I looked to the future, I did so unsure if my son would survive the malignant brain tumor that had decided to grow inside his bright and beautiful body.

In the evening, away from the watchful eyes of the medical staff, I howled against God. Listening to my mournful cries, my mother could offer nothing but her silence and a steady stream of tears. She watched as her daughter was forced to live out the nightmare all mother’s fear: losing one’s child. As cards go, it’s the one we know is in the deck, yet pray is never slid in our direction. As I held the card, I screamed against a God that could be so cruel. I screamed against a God that would repeatedly give me a life filled with pain. I shouted against Life, Fate and All Things. In a pile upon the floor, I cried.

This elusive being that is almighty, had forsaken me for the last time. I knew God was my adversary. I knew that I was my adversary. I wanted only to complete my time on this earth, and never do it again.

As often is the case, when we forcefully push against something – it breaks. I broke in that moment. I broke a small part of the wall that separated me from All That Is. And through that newly opened space, God began to whisper.

During the many hours of my son’s surgery, little signs of God’s presence were shown to me. Often, these signs were revealed to my mother, who like a good soldier, immediately reported them to the ranking official. I listened. I carefully analyzed them, then waited. But as I did, I no longer did so with eyes that were closed off. My eyes now looked beyond the world of tangible objects and people. And as I kept looking, more was revealed. Little signs that said, “Despite all appearances – all is well.”

Leaning over my son’s bed, looking at his young freckled face as it lay quiet, I breathed deep. Aware of the litany of possible outcomes awaiting him, I knew I had no control of what happened next; that had been decided between my son and his God. Then with his eyes closed he whispered, “Mom, your carbon dioxide is making me sick.” In that instant I knew my son’s work was not done. Like me, he had returned, with his wit intact.

Often it is only by walking through pain that we discover the larger part of ourselves. It is through the realization that every card handed us has purpose. I no longer clamor to express those things within me that are most pleasing to others, while hiding that which may seem dark and brooding. Through the culmination of these moments in my life, I now know that its only through the use of all the colors dolloped upon my palette that I can paint the portrait of my life. There is no color better than the rest. By using each hue, in balance, I create a life that is beautiful to behold.

Reading my novel, I had to release the coat that no longer fit. I had to redefine my life. I let go of a marriage that did not honor me. I let go of a way of thinking that did not honor me. Most of all, I finally let go of the walls that surrounded my heart. Fate didn’t allow such a transition to happen gracefully. Often there is a struggle when letting go. That which we are trying to release fights with wild abandon. But with my walls down, God was finally able to walk with me. When I was but a child, my most fervent prayer was that Jesus would sit with me. Even when young, I felt alone. Because my soul decided to take one final gasp of air, and force its story into written word – I was made to see that God sits with me – because God sits within me.

As I move ahead with life, and new cards come my way, I’ve come to understand my life’s work; the reason I was given another chance. Within my words, I am to help others shed the coat that doesn’t fit. I am to help others balance their palette; to accept and love their many shades. We are all beautiful. We are not so flawed as we suspect. All that dwells within us, is there for a reason – it’s up to us to find the reason.

There are those who walk through this life with soft steps. And then there are those who walk and leave an indention, something for the world to see. My footsteps are meant to awaken the smothered soul in all of us. It took the weight of many moments to discover this.

Listening to Royal Teeth – Wild