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

Be A Student of Life and Life Will Bring You Teachers

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A savior is one who brings salvation, one who can can provide you liberation from ignorance.  Even when we skillfully prepare for life events there are still things you never knew you never knew.  Acknowledging this lack of awareness while at the same time being truly open to new experiences you often gain the most useful and definitive knowledge.  Be a student of life and life will bring you teachers.  My children are my saviors.  My children have become my teachers.

Parenting has presented me with abundant opportunity to flounder and plenty of liberty to become versed on living in the moment and being open to admitting that I don’t even come close to knowing it all.  Knowledge of human nature, for example, is best acquired by seeing it grow from the moment parenthood begins.  There is no better way to grasp human kind than by being a parent.  I didn’t know this until I became a parent.  Even the experience of being a person doesn’t prepare you for raising one.  This in itself is a conundrum.  But the wonderful, unexpected part of parenting is that you have the lucky chance to learn a great deal about the person that you already are, the person you bring with you and the person you want to become all by entering into this new undertaking.  You are suddenly presented with a key to unlock a secret part of your brain that opens up a new level of concern, caring, kindness, and love.  With this unlocking, you gain the opportunity to expand your ability to love and devote yourself to others in an entirely heightened manner.   My children have not only expanded my ability to grow into a reawakened version of the self that had felt at a plateau, they have unlocked courage to pursue interests in ways I never dreamed achievable.

I want to be the best version of myself regardless the sacrifice.  I recognize parenting as a practice much like many other pursuits in life.  Each experience builds your knowledge base and prepares you for the next, and every person you meet has something unique and salient to impart on you.   Just make it your aim to pay close attention and decipher the messages in the right way at the right time.

“Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”  -Maya Angelou

Happy Christmas!

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Here we are at the close of another year and I’m feeling grateful for another season of giving and receiving love.  Seeking happiness has led me to find it in some wonderfully unexpected places.  It’s also led me to have a deeper appreciation for a music icon for whom I have always had a strong admiration.

It may not have been John Lennon’s intention to give the world such a highly recognized Christmas standard when he released Happy Xmas (War Is Over) considering his original intentions were more politically aligned with protesting the Vietnam War, but as with all art, we can all extract our own beauty and meaning from his brilliant words.

The song itself has been covered by so many artists, but I prefer to hear John himself sing it to me.  Each time I hear the song I get lost in his words and his simple message that seems so easy to understand.  He hopes I had a nice year and he thinks I should look back and consider what I did and didn’t accomplish and it’s pretty important to remember my loved ones this time of year.

And then there is the new year.  He hopes it’s a good one, that’s a nice thought.  I hope it is too.  And I wish he was still here to enjoy more time, it’s sad that he didn’t have more time to enjoy.

So, no matter who you are, where you are from, or how old you are, he hopes you have a very, merry Christmas and a happy new year…and that bears repeating…

Happy Xmas by John Lennon

So this is Christmas

And what have you done

Another year over

A new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear ones

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

For weak and for strong

The rich and the poor ones

The road is so long

So happy Christmas

For black and for white

For yellow and red ones

Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Christmas

And what have we done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Christmas

And we hope you have fun

The near and the dear ones

The old and the young

A very merry Christmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

War is over, if you want it

War is over now

Merry Christmas!

Advice From A Tree

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The deep rooted symbolism of a tree is hard to deny, and over the last year of my life in particular, the strong, massive presence of trees and what they stand for has been an undeniable presence in my life and down my life’s path.  I would like to recognize their importance in my life and take notice of what lessons they have to impart.

A forest full of trees is as beautiful as it is dangerous which makes the allure even more great.  The lessons that I have learned while walking through this particular stretch of forest have been as daunting as a dark forest in the dead of night and as inspiring as a lush, green path at the break of new day.  I’m taking it all in.  I’m learning and growing slowly, like a tree.

A flower may grow to it’s full beauty in one season, quick and noticeable, but that’s not what I’m after.  A tree grows long and true. A tree stands firm and strong for years to come.  A flower may attract more attention in the short term, but the tree stands it’s ground and lays roots as far and wide spread underground as it does above ground.  You may not realize as you stand next to a tree just how much is underneath the surface.

Wood is solid, wood is long lasting, but at the same time with a spark can be burned to the ground.  Even the strongest of oak trees has a weakness.  But the symbolism of a large, abounding tree is unmistakeable.  There is much to be learned from our forest friends and I am in constant awe of their lessons and beauty.

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On Being Content

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A funny thing happened on the way to being happy. I learned that being happy is an embellished state of being and not a completely sustainable state. It’s like adding bling to being content, or at least that’s how it feels sometimes. But, there is a way to raise your content state if it’s been set down too low and needs a bit of raising. I have found that the more ‘happy habits’ I incorporate into my days, the happier I find my sustainable happy state to be.

Some of my happy habits include:

1. Have conversations with my happy friends and try very hard to avoid communication with the people in my life that tend to be more negative.

2. When people ask me to do them a favor I always do everything I can to say yes.

3. Purge some of the everyday stressors…I changed careers and am now A Nutritional Cleanse Coach and help people get healthy and flush their body and life of toxins and negativity!

4. I mind my own business. I am working on being mindful about not making other people’s drama and emergencies my own unless completely necessary.

5. The complaint department is closed. It’s a lot more fun to share good news than complain about what is not exactly perfect. Life is pretty good, after all.

Instead of riding the highs and lows so frequently, I am finding it much more enjoyable to find the middle ground and coast; like going for a boat ride on a clear day when the water is like glass and the bumps seem even and soothing. I’m not going to miss riding the boat during the 6 foot waves when it feels like a storm is coming and the end is near; the days when you need to know exactly where your life vest is at all times because you never know when you’ll have to reach for it.

Finding my best self has meant finding that nice, comfortable middle ground. Life is full of storms, I don’t need to create my own on perfectly clear days, which is exactly what I was doing before I made my happy promise. Maybe I should have called it My Content Promise, but that just didn’t have the same ring.

Above photo courtesy of my relaxed and floating friend Shannon. Even her pretty toes look content.

Happy Trails

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A happy wife means a happy life, but lately it’s been nice to see my husband so happy about his new obsession…racing. He is becoming his own finely tuned machine, and it’s pretty fun to watch it happening. Paul has been a PE teacher, personal trainer, swim coach, tennis coach, and Australian Rules football player and coach since I’ve known him. He’s always loved to run, swim, bike, lift weights and just generally push the envelope, but something changed a few months ago when we both did a nutritional cleanse. We each dropped 25 pounds and ran our first races, me a 5k and Paul a half marathon. We both felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and knew we would be doing more races in the future.

Not long after, Paul announced he had signed us up for another 5k and that he would be running his first triathlon after that. I knew he was addicted. Any free minute he had he was going for a run, hopping on his bike, or swimming laps in the pool. His training was really starting to show. After shedding those pounds and getting focused on these races, his body is starting to look better than it has since I’ve known him! I’m very proud of him and in awe of the hard work and endurance it takes to complete these long races. Immediately after each finish he seeks the next starting line and starts training all over again. What a great display of character and determination and what a wonderful lesson to be teaching our daughters. Watching my husband pursue this new interest has made this wife happy and in turn our life happy.

A special congratulations to my honey for finishing 1st in his age group this past weekend at The Waterloo Fit City Triathlon! Way to go honey! What’s next?

Paul Waterloo Triathlon

My Giving Tree

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Family traditions have to start somewhere and my family is just getting started.  So, I’m planting some good, solid roots that can grow into long established traditions in years to come.  A dream of mine is to someday own a lake house where my family can gather and spend lazy days and nights gathered around delicious meals and campfires.  As of now I don’t have that lake house of my dreams, so for now, I’m planting the seeds of summer time vacations spent together at a place that is very close to my heart, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

As a little girl, for 5 summers I took the ride up to Elkhart Lake to spend my summer at Harand Theater Camp…..a fairy tale memory of childhood dreams of endless days and nights, bonfires and beach games, swimming and roller skating and all that magically happened in between.  When thoughts of summer camp roll around in my head, I remember friends as they were in camp t-shirts eating ice cream cones and opening care packages, sitting on bunk beds and passing pitchers of bug juice down long tables of laughing campers excited to embark on the night’s next activity.

In the heart of camp sat the main building (which was appropriately called Wonderful Town) that over the years has served different purposes to different owners which I learned as I walked down the halls of the now beautiful, family-friendly resort that sits on what used to be Harand Camp.  Old photographs of generations from even before Camp Harand was in existence tell the stories of what had come before.  I imagined what those people would have thought had they visited our camp years after the land had changed from the way they had known it.  Nostalgia abounding, my mind was spinning with curiosity about the people that have wandered those grounds over the years.

It’s still hard for me to stretch my mind enough to remember where the cabins sat, where the lush green pastures lay and how that piece of land could have possibly been the same place that pops up in my dreams so regularly.  But somehow, in my dreams, the lawn is untouched and every inch is as it was decades ago.  But as I walk the property with my daughters telling them stories of why there are concrete handprints from friends I knew back then that I am still happy to call my friends today, I try my best to realize exactly what has replaced those treasured buildings from my childhood.

As I enjoyed a peaceful massage at what is now a beautiful spa, in my mind I could hear the sounds of the screen door slamming and friends laughing and running around on the porch of Wonderful Town.  When I left the spa, my mind projected campers running to Sam’s Place (our dining hall) and as I turned to walk back to my room, I heard echoes of campers singing “No Man Is An Island” in Gaffin Theater as if Uncle Byron himself were on stage leading the group.  I began to think….even if camp was still standing as it were when I was a little girl, I would still never be able to go back to those memories the way they live in my head.  I keep those in my mind and just being there helps me to remember.

The corner of the world where Camp Harand stood for all those years has been my Giving Tree throughout my life.  As bittersweet as it has always been since the minute I heard that camp Harand as I knew it was coming to an end, during this trip to Elkhart Lake I came to peace with that end as if finding a resolution to a long time quarrel.  I discovered a beautiful PEARL that has been resting there, waiting for me to find it.  What was once a childhood fantasy has now become a family wonderland.  This place has changed through the years almost identically to fit my needs and for that I have found a way to be grateful.

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Finding Zen In Organization

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The act of organizing seems so un-zen, but a completely organized, clutter-free abode is so completely zen that I’m feeling myself being pulled in that direction.  I’m so acutely aware of my surroundings lately that it’s like I’m seeing my clutter with new eyes.  It’s as if I’m a new visitor judging another’s piles of stuff and feeling the need to weed through the chaos.

I enjoy the feeling of a comfortable, lived-in home.  I want you to come in and feel like you can relax, sit wherever you want, and let your kids run around and touch stuff.  Kick off your shoes, grab a drink and plop down on the couch for a nice chat.  I grew up in a house that felt that way and I aim to make my house as welcoming and cozy as my parent’s home.  Between my husband, myself and two toddlers we have a lot of stuff.  The problem is keeping it all in check.  I don’t want my guests to come in and see piles of papers, toys and laundry and have to take flying leaps over shoes, backpacks and dolls.  This family needs to find a way to get organized, and as the Mom, I’m in charge of “Project Organize This House!”  As of right now, it feels like my ducks are pretty far from being all in a row.

I can’t organize an entire house at once, I have to organize one room at a time.  So, the first thing I need to do is make a list of rooms in order of their priority.  Which room overhauls will make the biggest difference for my family?  Which changes will make our lives flow easier?  In which rooms can I uncover the most happiness for my family?

Here is my plan of attack:

1. Family Room

2. Girl’s Rooms and Bathroom

3. Master Bedroom and Bathroom

4. Laundry Room/Storage Room

5. Linen Closet

6. Coat Closet

7. Playroom

8. Kitchen

9. Office

10. Garage

I’m allowing myself 8 weeks to complete this task and granting myself a reward if I am able to complete the entire task on time.  I believe a day at the spa will be in order, that seems pretty zen to me….om.

Sense and Sensibility

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Strong, confident mothers make me happy.  Watching mothers drench themselves in their children’s enchantment delights me.  Mothers with a diligent commitment to their children’s well-being are a gift to this world and it is a mother’s natural intuition that sets the stage for the path down which we lead our children.  Good intentions and sensibility doesn’t guarantee a good result, but it does provide us with the promise of a mother’s love.

I believe in my own intuition and that I usually know when to trust my gut and when to look beyond my wisdom and seek the advice of others.  Who is to say what is right, what is wrong, and what makes sense for your family?  In the end, we are all perfectly imperfect.  Mother nature shows us the beauty of imperfection all around us.  A wild, natural field of systematic equal lines and measures would be awkward and unnerving.  Nature tells us that magnificence means random splendor and haphazard protocol.

Every mother is born with intuition; that feeling in your gut that speaks to your heart and guides your hands and feet.  We all have it, but with so many “experts” with so many different theories, do we ever have an opportunity to exercise it?  Always being told exactly how to handle every scenario doesn’t leave much room for going with our motherly guts.  Are some of us missing the connection to our own innate mother’s wisdom due to lack of self confidence?  Modern mothers often seem to fear drawing their own conclusions.  Maybe we are just simply afraid of being wrong.  We are constantly turning to the “experts” on our children to solve even the most mild issues, or non-issues.  I wish more mother’s would trust their instincts before consulting a professional; listen to their heart before listening to anyone else.  Why should a doctor’s diagnosis always be more important than a mother’s intuition?

YOU are the expert on your child.  Whether you gave birth, adopted, or inherited the child you are caring for, it is you, and only you, that knows your child better than anyone else in the world.  Making a decision takes time and consideration.  Sometimes your intuition tells you to consult with someone you trust.  If it’s a friend, make sure you want their opinion.  If you speak to a professional and your intuition tells you something is off, consult another.  Take time to come to a conclusion, don’t jump to a label or course of action because you feel bullied.  There is value in professional advice or advice from a loved one, and they have a lot of it.  Make sure you weigh it against what your gut tells you is right.

Mothers, let your intuition guide you.  Don’t be afraid to listen to the unexplainable, often visceral, voice that speaks from your gut and longs to guide your heart.  Trust what your Mother gave you.

On Being Right and Wrong

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It’s hard to admit when you’re wrong.  It’s humbling and uncomfortable to eat crow.  People avoid it at all cost even to the point of driving a dead end point to it’s nonsensical conclusion to avoid being wrong at times.  Wouldn’t it feel better to just give yourself license to be wrong sometimes?  It takes true character to admit defeat, even if only in silence, and create a moment to learn and grow.  It takes confidence and wisdom to concede being right and give way to being kind.  There is more happiness to be found even in the most basic, daily interactions.  I’d like to see what happens when I surrender being right and try listening more openly to what others have to say without feeling the compulsion to counterpoint.  Sometimes the Devil doesn’t need an advocate.

It’s staggering how much your thoughts show up on your face.  (I’m sometimes bothered by how my thoughts translate and can be felt by those around me even if that is not my intention.  I clearly need to work on my poker face)  What is lost in being tenacious about debating your stance?  What is gained in letting it go and allowing yourself to relinquish control?  Which leads to more happiness?  Even the look on your face will change along with your thoughts, but no one controls those thoughts but you.  “You haven’t lost your smile at all, it’s right under your nose. You just forgot it was there” – Unknown

Change the way you process and respond, and the people around you will respond back in a new way.  It’s easier to go with the flow and be open to other’s point of view when you feel engaged and supported by those around you instead of feeling strife and turbulence.  When you change yourself, you change the world around you.

“Be kind to unkind people. They need it the most.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant

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