Sunday, September 29, 2013

What's Your Favorite Space?

I've been spending a lot of time in my house lately. The kids are back in school and I'm FINALLY moved in all the way. Well, that may be an outright lie--what I really mean is, is that I can find my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night without running into a wall.

Anyway, all this box unpacking has made me reflect on my favorite spaces. I'm still getting to acquaint myself with all this newness, so I'm not sure I can define a "favorite" space in my home yet, but I will say that I really love not sharing a bathroom with my kids anymore. I'm also a fan of my office--even though I can't locate anything in that wonderfully chaotic room. It's thick with books and stories and projects just waiting to be attempted. I walk in and feel the possibilities of creation.

Tall bookshelves line one long wall. My desk faces the window. Baskets filled with office supplies fill more than a few shelves. Behind me, sits my piano. When I get frustrated or hit a block, I play for a while and maintain that playing the piano is way cheaper than therapy. My daughter's harps, which sit next to the piano, sometimes reverberate with echos when I play too loud. I often imagine an angel (or two) playing a duet with me.

The walls are a deep deep grey; the color of the sky in Montreal just before it rains on a Spring morning. When I work in that room I imagine myself soaking up all of the energy of that dark sky and funneling it into my head and out my heart.
I love that room.

What's your favorite space?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Best Advice I've Ever Received

Yes, yes, I'm still in September's blog challenge--although you wouldn't know it from the few posts I've written this month. Most of my blogging, as of late, is happening in my head, which makes it difficult for you to read.

Today's blog challenge prompt is, "What is the best advice you've ever received?"

The best advice I've ever received was from my friend, Jackie Gibson. Her daughter is one of my near and dears. Clover and I went to college together, but didn't room together our first year. It was one of my big regrets. I was standing in Jackie's kitchen one night, lamenting that, "I really wished Clover and I had been roommates our first year." Jackie replied with, "If you two had been roommates, you wouldn't be standing in my kitchen now (20 years later). Regret is a waste of time. Life is too short for regret."

Life is too short for regret.
All the mistakes I've made are past and they've shaped my life as it is today, for good or ill. I can either dwell in my regrets, or I can bow deeply to the lessons that my mistakes have taught me and develop compassion for myself (and then by extension) to others. I feel that when we are most compassionate and merciful with ourselves, that that compassion overflows into everything else that we do. It behooves us choose interpretations of the past that empower us instead of overwhelm us in hopelessness.

Before you ask, "What do you mean by choosing interpretations of the past?" Let me tell ya: We all choose interpretations of the past ALL the time. Remember that son-of-a-gun who cut you off in traffic? The boss who wronged you? That time you did the dumbest thing ever?? That mean girl in high school? Yep, me too. We've each chosen the "stories" that fit our version of events with those who we come into contact with. The trick is choosing interpretations of situations that, at first, seem to dis empower us, and surround them in compassion, so that they ultimately empower us instead.

Let me show you what I mean: Remember that mean girl?

Interpretation 1: "SHE IS SUCH A WITCH. I hate her, I mean, I can't believe she called me that name, and stole my boyfriend. I hate her! I hope she gets spat on by a demonic baby who pukes acid."

Interpretation 2: "Wow. Those words that she called me really hurt. I feel really bad. She must have some self hatred of her own to call someone else something so mean. I still feel really awful, but I don't think it was personal. I can protect myself from her meanness by steering clear of her in the future, and if I choose, perhaps (sometime down the road) extend her some kindness because it appears she may need some."

Here's another example:

Remember that time you got angry/drunk/made a stupid choice?

Interpretation 1: "I am SO stupid. I can't BELIEVE I did that. I am such an IDIOT. Why am I even alive? I can't believe someone so stupid is allowed to walk around. I feel so much shame."

Interpretation 2: "Whoa. That was dumb. What was I thinking? Well, clearly that wasn't the best choice I could have made, but there it is. But it was a bad choice, I'm not a bad person. I'm just a person who made a mistake and I can begin again."

By choosing your own interpretations about choices you've made or things that have happened to you, you get to walk the path of compassion instead of anger. Anger is easy, but compassion liberating. By letting go of regrets and exercising compassion with our dear, sweet selves, we honor that beautiful spirit that makes us who we are.

And the truth is, we all are worthy of compassion.
So live without regret and choose well.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stuff I Learned in High School that I Probably Shouldn't Have

I was invited (I invited myself) to join a blogging challenge from a couple of my real life friends who are both FANTASTIC bloggers. Sherilee, over at Sweet Tea & Sunshine, and Jen, over at Stuff Jen Says both write amazing blogs that lift my spirit and fill my soul. They are writing every day in September to get back in the swing of things, so, like any annoying person who wants to hang with the cool kids, I totally invited myself along for the ride. Thanks, ladies!!

With all these children heading off to school this week, and my own child beginning high school this year, the topic of today's post was supposed to be, "Stuff School Didn't Teach Me"...but THAT post would be the length of a Bible, so I'm going to tweak the topic a little to: Stuff I Learned in High School that I Probably Shouldn't Have Learned, But Did Anyway.

Here are a few things I learned in high school that I probably shouldn't have, but I did anyway:

1. I learned how to forge my mother's signature.
I skipped class a lot. (Like so much, I'm not really sure how I actually graduated.) I did this with a complicit father who was a chronic school skipper in his day, and with a signature EXACTLY like my mother's. You may think that at 39 that there would be no need to sign my mom's name, but you'd be gravely mistaken. Now I benefit from running to the store with her credit card when I'm visiting home and signing her name to perfection.

Don't ask to see my I.D. though, we don't look anything alike.

2. I learned how to sneak out.
Ok, I'm going to be honest, I didn't really sneak out in high school--but that's not for lack of trying. There was just no need. I also didn't have a curfew. None. Nada. Our only rule growing up was to, "Watch out for cars" and "Check in when you get home." This never got us into trouble. My parents trusted us implicitly and, well, we were perfect angels.

3. I learned how to lie.
"We were perfect angels." See?

And yes, my pants are on fire.

What did you learn in high school that you really shouldn't have?

Monday, September 2, 2013

To the Journey Ahead

Marriage is hard.

Don't you think it is amazing so many people commit to relationships to begin with?
Doe-eyed hope, is all I can figure.
Sometimes couples make the journey together, sometimes their roads lead them in different paths.

The best quote I ever heard on marriage was this: "In all our years of marriage, I never once considered divorce. Murder, yes. Divorce, never."

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?

I chose pretty well in the life partner department, I will admit it. But even the last three or so years have wrung us dry.

You see, we got married ever so young. We were just children at 23 and 24 years old. We jumped head first into love, and marriage and then baby carriages. And marriage has been fun--and wonderful--and full of joy.

         ....just as darkness exposes light, we've had our portioned share of disappointments along the path. Deaths, career changes, family responsibilities, transitions, depression, addiction, repeated moves, and just life have taken it's fierce and often unkind toll on us as the years have passed.

I recently had a dear friend tell me that she wished she had a marriage like mine. And then she wisely corrected her statement, "Well, but I guess what I see is the blogger version of your marriage, huh?"

Yes, my friend. My marriage (and yours) has some blog worthy stories. Stories that will make you laugh and maybe even cry with their sweetness, but real married life is full of heavenly highs and the darkest of lows. We are real people, who are messy and chaotic and, therefore, produce messy and chaotic relationships. If we're lucky, we lay our vulnerable selves out on the altar, in full view of our partner to be received and appreciated and just loved.  For the most part, this has been our path together--and even though this has been our path, it doesn't mean that we haven't known our own kind of heartache.

And so we approached a crossroads.

The young, bright eyed children who married sixteen years ago are gone. Grayish haired (some more than others, a-hem) seasoned, middle aged adults remain to make a choice as to where our path leads next.

Three days ago Mountain Man and I stood on the beach of the Pacific Ocean as sunrise to recommit to the journey we started as children. As the sun rose, we ushered in the the dawn dressed in white and told one another the secret promises of our hearts.
A seagull was our witness.

And while the road may still be rough in places through the coming years, we've recommitted to traveling it together.

My face is all puffy because I had a cold. And I'd been crying. Stop judging me. ;)

This seagull did NOT try to peck out my eye, make a rude toast at our reception
or interrrupt. He was the perfect witness.

Picturesque, n'est pas?

I like waves.

Let's be honest, I'm vain and the only reason this picture made the
cut is because the damn humidity hadn't flattened my hair out yet and
it still looks good. OH, what I mean is--how did THIS picture get in here?!?

There's no enjoyment without a wicked sense of humor.
 Also, ear plugs and separate sinks don't hurt.

What's the best piece of advice you ever received, or gave to a newly married couple?