Living on The Brightest Side

Love yourself enough brightest side

I’ve been feeling a bit sick from the vertigo of transition. The forked snake tongue on the road ahead feels daunting as the deep dark forest just after dusk. The feelings of obligation overwhelm my waking hours and the guilt that I feel pushes down on my shoulders and keeps my pace like a snail.

OR

Change and transition is when the real magic of life happens. The varied opportunities that lie ahead excite me to my soul bone and I’m throwing myself down the path and feeling open to wherever it may lead. The solace I have gifted myself has made my own authentic voice more confident to speak up and be heard. I am grateful and hopeful for what is to come.

It’s all about how you look at it. Attitude is everything.

After a lifetime of negativity and toxic truths, I decided to take a leap of faith and start living on The Brightest Side. It took strength, confidence and self-love to let go of the personal dogma engrained so deep in my habitually chaotic brain. So, I sat with the questions instead of demanding the answers. I focused on solutions instead of problems. I reevaluated all the varied doctrine I had held tight for so long. The process of trying to empty myself of programmed mental and emotional responses and open up to new, authentic thought came from a place of pure self love. Pure self love comes from a realization that you really want to be happy and tend mindfully to yourself. The key to my happiness has been consistently letting go of expectations and outcomes and letting it all unravel one glorious moment at a time.

Letting things be what they are and not what I am expecting or hoping for has been a labor of love and worth every effort.

So, after 4+ years of writing this blog I am transitioning my effort and energy to living permanently on The Brightest Side where I will continue to write about my journey, but also write about how others can make their own promise to live life with positivity and kindness both to themselves and others.

I hope you will join me and together we can enjoy being at peace with our lives paths. 

Sending love to my dear Desiree who took the above photo of me during a weekend on the beach

Under The Knife

solo yoga mountain

At first I thought awakening my spiritual energy would help me become more calm and zen. So, I dove in head first, took courses in healing, began focusing on my nutrition and did my first 48-hour cleanse, became a yoga teacher, got certified in Reiki, bought a Reiki table and started writing a blog about my journey.

Ooohhhmmmmm….. not.

I learned a lot, but I wouldn’t say I automatically became an enlightened being. After I took a breath, I realized I may not ever actually teach yoga. I sold the Reiki table. I decided that all of this was great for me personally, but was not going to be my new career path, at least not in the way that I had imagined it.    

We are all born with everything we need to live a happy life. Imagine that. It’s inside you right now. You have every tool necessary. So, what is holding me back?  What is holding you back?

Life. Circumstances. Obligation. Responsibility. Injuries. Pain. Fear. Guilt. All of it is holding me back, but now I acknowledge it. So, now it becomes about how to undo and let go of those things. But, getting to this point of naming and understanding the shackles binding me was an important process. And, the more I learn, the more I understand how much more I have to learn….

What have I done? What did I start? This whole journey has shown me just as much heartbreak as it has healing. This has become a process of unlearning, relearning and learning it all over again.

…over and over and over and SNAP!

I tore my labrum right off the bone and the cycle that I had been living in suddenly changed. I went to Urgent Care, had an X-ray, saw an Orthopedic doctor, had an MRI, took some time off work, found out I had to have surgery, filed for Medical Leave from work, had surgery, went home to heal, got lots of help and here I am. It feels like it all just happened in a fog, one thing after another, and now here I am 5 weeks post-op and in the thick of painful physical therapy, sitting around with ice packs and popping big horse pills to help dull the pain.

But even in times like this we have a choice. We can chose how to heal, and while choosing how to heal I found some things to be grateful for.

Without the last 5 years of intense introspection and this mindful poking at my spiritual energy, I may have crumbled under all of this physical pain and struggling. Without the mind-body-spirit connection I have started, I may have suffered from overwhelming emotional pain along with the physical. But that’s not how I chose to heal. My body knows just what to do if I let it, but it was my pride that was struggling through this healing process, so I gave it some space to try and figure out why. 

Instead of feeling deflated that I had to ask for help (which I certainly did), I realized the validating side of it. I recognized that it takes a lot of effort for people to replace what I was doing to keep my family healthy, safe and clean. Validation often comes in interesting forms. I was able to see that even the little things that I do each day (that may seem monotonous and meaningless) are important to those two sweet little girls that depend on me and my ability to do each one of those menial tasks. Put all of those tasks together and you see my life, my responsibilities, and my joy.

I took a moment.

I took several moments laying there in my bed as a patient with wounds and meds and ice packs. I thought about the human-ness of it all and how this is just part of my journey. I made more of the moments in-between and I let gratitude for all of the love being shown to me absorb into who I am.

I throw a lot of energy into feeling pride of accomplishment and the thrill of independence. I believe the Universe sent me this lesson to slow me down and make me re-evaluate my connection with others. I had to go under the knife to rise above just a little bit higher. And for that I am grateful.

Plot Twist

this is not about me

Plot twist: My story isn’t always calm. But, it’s my story to tell, and in my own way.

The key to my own happiness has been consistently and mindfully letting go of expectations and outcomes and letting it all unravel one glorious moment at a time. Letting things be what they are and not what I’m expecting or hoping for has been a labor of love and worth every effort. Being grateful and seeing the glass half full leads to feelings of peace, pleasure and calm. But, instead of finding the strength to be grateful, often we settle into feelings of entitlement which leads to bitterness, sadness, or frustration. Both of these ends of the human experience spectrum can be born from both chaos or calm, the reaction is always in the hands of the person enduring the circumstance. Even if the pain and the struggle are real, we all process emotion and produce the resulting behavior according to our inner process, motives and our needs in the moment. And that is human.

We all find a different lesson in the same mess. So, what’s YOUR process?

One choice is catastrophozing (an irrational thought process leading us to believe that something is far worse or much more intense than it actually is) a situation or outcome and I wonder if this behavior serves people well or if it is simply a negative attention-getting strategy. We often create a happy-chaos or good-madness just to be surrounded by drama. Some people exist better in crisis mode, or at least feel more relevant or needed when there is a problem to solve.

The opposite of catastrophizing is occhiolism (the awareness of the smallness of your perspective) which may help you stay more grounded and capable of navigating the authentic storms when they pass through your life. Or maybe the opposite of catastrophizing is magnificentizing… it all depends, and it’s all ok, just let it go. It’s really not about you, no matter how much it feels like it is. Too much self-concern can overwhelm a person to the point of having no room left for humility. Too much narrow focus on your own problems creates a warped vision and experience of reality. (Google synonyms of “selfconcerned” for a more detailed list of the mean and negative words that this practice can lead to… spoiler alert: narcissism)

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure” Henry Kissinger. So what becomes of the coal that cannot stand the pressure? It becomes dust, even though it had the natural potential to be a diamond. It’s not always easy to stay present and let go of the urge to fall apart and catastophize, but think of the potential for that little piece of coal that was able to grin and bear it… it becomes something that cannot be broken… But, sometimes being broken is human. “She was brave and strong and broken all at once” -Anna Funder

So, imagine yourself happy and let go of expectations. What is your current process? If you begin to be mindful and more aware of your process, will that lead to more moments of calm? There will always be storms and there will always be rainbows. The key is to find the lesson in the mess.

Little Sufferings

Sun in hand

Being healthy can be stressful.

Making an effort to get rid of the stress in my life is really stressing me out.

There are days I think making all these changes to become my best self may be the actual thing making it all harder. It’s easy to sink back into old habits that were keeping me stagnant.

But then I take a breath and reflect on how much good all these changes have brought to me, and how much better the future looks because of all these shifts. The little sufferings along the way teach me valuable lessons and help me grow. And that’s all they are, little.

I believe my future is as bright as my attitude about today. I’m grateful for the past and I’m ready for the future.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”. -Peter F Drucker

Gratitude to Dedulo Photos on morguefile.com for the beautiful photo above

Simply Grateful

fall pumpkin

Be grateful.

Sometimes less is more, so just keep it simple today.

There is always something to be grateful for.

Enough is a feast. – Buddhist Proverb

Today I am grateful.

photo courtesy of a2jc4life on morguefile.com

Practicing Motherhood

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When I wake up in the morning, I think about the ones in my life that make my heart smile and that thought catapults me contentedly into my day. I look forward to discovering what I can do to make them happy that day and wonder what they will do to make me smile. The opportunity to feel good motivates me. I like being happy, and I like knowing that I will most likely have some lovely peaceful moments coming my way.

I enjoy making breakfast for my girls and getting us all ready for the day ahead. I pack lunches, organize backpacks and put on little shoes. We say goodbye to our dog and hurry out the door. We listen to music and sing in the car after we discuss the day’s schedule. I do all of these things for my girls, but I also do them for myself.

I consider being a work-at-home mom a gift.  It’s a gift for me and it’s a gift for my family. I enjoy being the one who is available to drive kids here and pick them up there. I arrange doctor appointments, activities, holidays and chaperone school outings. I can bring a forgotten special show-and-tell item to school at a moment’s notice and I can be the first mom standing outside the door when the school bell rings. I can take a little girl out for a special lunch for no special reason on any given day of the week and I can grocery shop at off peak hours to make the trip a little easier. I am the depositor of checks in the bank and the filler of prescriptions. I am the 24-hour sick care nurse, the wiper of tears and the Director of The Complaint Department.

How did I get this lucky?

My personal life and my professional life both revolve a lot around making sure people’s needs are met. Having no set work schedule and no office to go to means that I can also cater to my own needs as well. I enjoy being the one who can help out and I’m grateful that I have the time and freedom to do it.

As you revolve around your loved ones, what is your mindset? I could have named all of these activities I do all day long as chores that bring me aggravation and stress, and there are some days that it all does seem like a bit too much.  But, even though my days are filled with surprises and life can be messy and unpredictable, I feel a general gratefulness to be doing what I’m doing with my life. There are far more moments of joy than moments of anguish and there are so many reasons to be grateful for this life that I lead.

The best part about my role is that I’m getting better at it as I go. Mothering is a practice. You could say it is the original and most important job in the world.  The fascinating part of mothering is that we all do it differently and still do it well. My wish is that more mothers would shift their perspective and take pride in their mothering role and feel less guilt about “staying home” because that is so far from what we do. There is so much joy to be found in practicing Motherhood and I will continue to find ways to bring smiles to the faces that I love so much, it’s just part of my job.

And So It Goes

white lily

Over the last week, I have watched five of my dear friends lose either a parent or grandparent.  It’s hard to hear such news, and it’s even harder to see it in such mass.  The idea of transition as we begin a new school year and approach the end of summer always brings about all kinds of change and feelings of uncertainty for what is to come.  But this year, the idea of transition has meant major life changes and adjustments for several people whom I hold dear.  I thought it strange at first when the news kept rolling in one after the other of these deaths, but I began to understand that life works in mysterious cycles and it is not for me to question these things.

With endings come new beginnings and with new beginnings come possibilities for renewal and new found confidence and certainty that when we can stand strong during times of great change and struggle, we can find ourselves even more powerful and capable than before.  As I move through funerals and shivas and showing my support and love to those who need it, I feel grateful.  I feel grateful to have so many blessings in my life and I feel grateful to be able to have the strength to show my love to these people who need it right now.

When I was 18, three of my friends mothers and three of my dear friends passed away within months of each other.  Six people.  It seemed like a thousand.  It wasn’t my first experience with loss, but when the waves of sad news kept coming it seemed to be too much to bare these sorrow feelings for all of these people and families.  I remember attending funerals and shedding tears with the ones left to pick up the pieces.  At that age, it’s hard to process the world changing so much and so rapidly.  But now, even though the sadness still lingers after a loss, I know from experience that life will go on and change and flow for those left behind.  We accept the love offered to us and feel the emotions as it happens around us.  We learn about love and we reminisce.

After a loss, families and friends gather, eat, talk, love, cry, hug…. This goes on for days and the support is necessary and beautiful.  And as the wave of sadness subsides, the masses scatter and the loss changes, transitions and settles.  Life shifts and people go on.  I don’t think we ever accept the mortality of our loved ones, but we naturally gather the feelings, make them a part of who we are and the loss becomes part of our identity.

I hope for you that grief is an emotion that leaves you stiff and sore the next day because that would mean it is not exercised very often.  Feeling true sadness reminds us just how human we have become.  Moving forward when that soreness fades doesn’t mean we let go of the grief, it means we have become stronger and can more easily carry it with us along our way.

 

photo courtesy of morguefile.com

The Story of a House

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Just after coming back from a lovely walk, a car slowed to a stop in front of my house.  I yelled out a “hello” and asked if he needed something.  He was a nice, Hungarian gentleman who went on to tell me that his name was Laslo and he had built our house with his bare hands in the 1950’s.  He said he had lived here for 20 years after he built it and raised a son here.  Every time he is in the area he takes a drive past the house, this time I just happened to be outside.  He told me that our house was the first one built on the street and that he used to walk to his job just up the road at a factory.  He explained that in the beginning, the house would flood when it rained because of the pitch of the driveway which was why he installed the sump pump at the base of the driveway.  He told me that he put a penny in every corner of the main room under the wood floor.

I invited him to come in and take a look to see what had changed in the house over the years.  I told him about the addition the previous owners had built and about how much we had done to the backyard.  He declined and even started to drive away when I mentioned it.  I think his memory served him well and he wanted to visit this place in his memory, not learn about what we had done to change things.  He looked over at my neighbor Pete, also Hungarian, who was in front of his house trimming the hedge.  He explained that Pete’s house was the second on the street and built in the 1960’s.  He said they knew each other back then and that they helped build the street we live on.  To my surprise, he never took a second glance at Pete or slowed his car as he passed him to offer a hello to his old neighbor.  When we were done talking he just took a long last look and drove away.

I went inside with new thoughts about my house, this place that I come home to every day without even thinking about it.  You get numb to your routine, you find comfort and settle in to a pattern.  So often we forget to be grateful for all of the things that surround us.  After meeting Laslo I took a new look around my house.  I became grateful for his hard work and his care of this house all those years ago.  I wondered who else had lived here since then and I realized that I was now a part of the story of this house.  Maybe someday I will drive past and tell my part of the story to a new family of how I raised my daughters here and spent countless, relaxing hours at the park right across the street.

People spend a lot of energy and time making their private space just the way they want it.  We leave our mark on the world with the way we live in those moments.  At home is where you relax and let it all go, hopefully.  I thought about how attached people become to their homes when really I think they are attached to the space in time represented by that house.  I don’t necessarily feel attached to the brick and mortar of this house, but rather I feel an affection for the times I have had here.  I’m grateful for the strength and integrity of the house itself, but it’s the memories and the time that I will carry with me long after I leave this place.  I have other special places like this as well, and something still makes me long to be in those spaces sometimes.  Being there helps me remember, feel, and even smell the memory from way back when…. and that is nice.

So, thank you Laslo, for coming by and paying a visit to your memory.  Thank you for reminding me that life goes on and that we should take time to be grateful along the way.

Picture Perfect

Image

The most beautiful moments in life are frozen in time.  Maybe they live as a perfect picture on paper or in your memory.  And, even though we may feel melancholy as we remember those times, they are never really over.  Memories melt into our existence and give us peace and hope of living more beautiful moments.

When you can see your beauty, strength and potential in the eyes of another, possibility and hope abound.  The present is a creation built from the past and future.  Memories and moments play like an old movie in my head.  I am the joyful, lone movie goer in a big, empty theater while I remember…. and I’m grateful.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss

From our experiences we hold souvenirs and meticulously incorporate them into our trinkets on a shelf and they become part of our story.  Maybe we wear them around our neck or tuck them into a pocket and carry them with us as a reminder.  We look at them, touch them, turn them over and over in our hands to incorporate tangible senses into our remembering.  The story of my life is told on the shelves and walls of my house as well as live in my heart.  Those souvenirs remind you that those memories actually happened, the story is written and will stay with you.  Some of the best memories are the ones you didn’t know you were creating at the time, they come from life flowing around you and letting yourself fall in love with that moment without even realizing it’s happening.

Life may happen between those moments, but those moments are the magic.  I live for picture perfect times like that.  But, it’s the past and no one can live there.  We move on to the next phase and wait for new moments and memories to find us.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” – LP Hartley

Create moments, gather memories and live your life as if you are walking through a garden.

 

photo above was taken by me on a picture perfect morning

Discovering my Om

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Meditation has been a vibrating part of my journey and has shown itself in many forms.  Whether it falls to the background and lays silent or resonates loudly, I constantly feel the presence of Om and all I have learned about it’s value which reflects no beginning or end and embraces all things.  The quest for a quiet mind and a mindful existence can be elusive at times and a calm partner in others.

Many have mentioned to me that they struggle with the idea of meditation and the thought of sitting still in silence for long periods of time.  This is when I refer them to the Zen Proverb “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day, unless you’re too busy.  Then you should sit for an hour.”  It’s about shifting your mindset from being busy to having priorities.  There is always a choice.

When I began meditating, I was told to imagine a white room and as thoughts came into my head acknowledge them as if they entered through one door and then escort them out another door on the opposite side of the room.  In the beginning, I remember thinking:

“I am sitting here all alone in this imagined room with all of these thoughts!”

As I sat in meditation that became:

“I am here in this room with my thoughts.”

As I sat more and more often that evolved to:

“I am here in this room” 

and then:

“I am here”

Eventually, I was able to get to:

“I am”

and now I feel like I am approaching

“Om”.

Tonight I attended a Gong Meditation Bath with Gong Spirit along side some of my close friends.  It was nice to sit in silent awe of these ancient therapeutic sounds with every frequency tapping into different parts of my meditation.  I sank deep, and I appreciated the time.  I feel a major difference when I sit in silence and when I meditate with sound.  The gong is a stress reliever and a mood enhancer.  My body had a natural calming response from the first sound.  Time had no meaning, there was no time and plenty of time.  The sound of the gong is at once a driving force and a calming lull.  A gamut of emotions are experienced, confusion comes into focus.

All too often we jump to a conclusion or make a snap decision or judgement.  The next time you have the opportunity to make a move in the game of life, try meditation.  Your final result may be a more relaxed response to your true self.  For this lesson from the gong I am grateful.

photo taken on a meditation walk in Sarasota, Florida

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