2016- The Year of Connection

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Missing Hawaii

It is midway through December. The Christmas tree is up, and that combined with the smell of pine and fallen leaves outside the house has me in a nostalgic mood.  It has me thinking about the past year.  God, so much has changed.  This time last year, I lived in Kailua, the most gorgeous place on the planet.  I dare you to tell me different.  I lived a mile away from a beautiful beach.  My best friends lived in walking distance from me.  On a Saturday morning I had a dozen people I could call at the drop of a hat to invite to a last minute hike or walk on the beach.  I knew my neighbors, and I had healthy, active people surrounding me.  I could walk to Crossfit and my work was a mere 15 minutes away.

Why then does it feel so right that I’ve moved to this out of the way place, where we are surrounded by squirrels, deer, bugs and birds?  Where Walmart is the best option for produce?  Where the beach (which in no way compares to Kailua) is a half hour drive away?  Where we are afraid to let our dogs run loose because they might get eaten by alligators or snatched up by large predatory birds?

One major answer is family.  I am missing my best friends like hell, and I am going to have to figure out how to visit soon, but now I feel like I live on the same planet as my family.  When I call them in the morning, it is also morning for them.  I don’t get the news 6 hours later than they do.  I saw my family and Nathan’s family in July.  Then I drove to New York for Thanksgiving.  Twice.  I am going to see

them again over the Christmas break.  I think Nathan said it most eloquently when we spoke of it in the car the other night.  He said, “This last time we drove away from the house, I was sad, because I would miss them, but I wasn’t thinking Is this the last time I am going to see them?”

How shitty is that question?  This is why I moved from Hawaii.  If someone in my family gets sick, or a family member gets married, or a family member has a baby, those things matter to me.  And living in Hawaii, you start to question whether you can afford to go see them.  That’s screwed up.  My mother-in-law had a liver transplant.  My sister-in-law gave her half of her own liver.  That’s freaking amazing.  And when we got married, they couldn’t come to Hawaii, because traveling when you’ve gotten a liver transplant is pretty freaking difficult, especially at first.  That sucked.  Big time.

Living so close feels amazing.  I feel like I am getting to know them again.  And it’s not like I didn’t talk to my siblings or my parents.  We kept and still do keep up a pretty good conversation via facebook

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Seeing Family is Priceless

and email and I was able to have Skype conversations with them on most of the holidays over the years.

Seeing Family Is Priceless
Seeing Family Is Priceless

But, let’s be honest.  It’s not the same.  It’s not the same as trying to sleep on the top bunk at your parents’ house when your oldest sister is sleeping on the bottom bunk and you’ve got years of catching up to do.  It’s not the same as being able to clear your crap out of your parents’ house for them.  It’s not the same as having a cup of coffee with them across the island in the kitchen or building a bonfire or playing Pandemic or talking about the Dragonriders of Pern books or simply being in their presence.  It’s not the same as spending time with your nieces and nephews and the dogs.  And it’s definitely not the same as being able to give them a hug.

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Seeing Family is Priceless

I feel like I missed a lot over the years, but at the same time, I grew up in Hawaii.  I became a big girl there.  I learned how to be a kind, loving, healthy, individual.  I learned how to love myself and I found friends there that became my family.
So how, in 2016 do I find what I had in Hawaii (not the beaches, but the friends and the lifestyle) and stay close to my family?  How do I find that connection somewhere close enough to New York?

I haven’t found the answer yet.  My husband and I are looking for employment possibly near Asheville, NC or in Colorado.  I need to find a group of people who are interested in health and wellness like I am.  We need to find a place that doesn’t have an undercurrent of discrimination.  And I need a place to be able to hike and work out, but this place can’t cost as much as Hawaii did.  I refuse to be a slave to the price of a plane ticket home.
Any ideas?  Comment below!  Where do you think the best place to live is?

 

Missing my Hawaii Family
Missing my Hawaii Family

First Ever Podcast (Explicit- some vulgar language)

 

 

First Ever Podcast!!

 

This is super exciting for me.  Nathan and I have been talking about recording a podcast for an awfully long time.  I finally got the equipment up and running.  Bear with us, I had to go back and increase Nathan’s volume, but I think it came out pretty great.  Also, we couldn’t help it, we both cursed.  Maybe don’t listen with your kids.

We basically just are introducing ourselves, talking to Anna, my sister who is travelling, and discussing the gun and knife show in Greenville that we will probably go to tomorrow.  Nothing spectacular.  We are going to schedule these in once a week.  Also, Nathan’s laugh is infectious.

Edit: I should also add that Nathan and I are not actually going to buy up tons of guns from the gun show.  We were joking.  The recent events and the tragedies going down in the US these days are out of control.  We don’t plan on being a part of the problem.

Let us know what you think!

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The World Needs Healing

Whenever a tragedy happens somewhere on the planet, I become torn in so many directions.  Generally Facebook or the Daily Show are my only sources of news these days.  I have stopped watching the news in the morning because I refuse to start my day with shootings and fatal car accidents and bombings.  Sometimes I’ll watch the local news in the evenings to figure out what kinds of activities are happening nearby, but that half hour segment is usually rife with devastation.  Is that the only kind of news that exists?  No, but it’s the only kind that gets ratings, so it’s what is played.

Shows like The View, anything on Fox News and even the Morning news shows are so opinionated and generated to appease the viewers, actually give me a physical response.  The other day at the car shop the TV was set to The View and curiously I listened in for a minute.  I couldn’t help myself, but roll my eyes and shake my head to the nonsense that they were discussing.

I keep asking myself “why.”  Why are we talking about red cups instead of poverty?  Why are we only talking about Lions being killed in Africa when Foxes are endangered right here in the US?  In fact, there’s 16,306 animals on the Endangered List.  That’s not including the Threatened level species.  There are hundreds of species of animals nearby my current location threatened by the number of fast food cups that appear on the side of my road daily.

Why do we share what we do on social media?  What is the criteria by which you select the stories to share?  When the stories about Paris appeared on my news feed last night, I was deeply saddened.  The number of people killed was at 127 last time I looked.

This is tragic, yes.  But what is it about Paris that makes us change our profile pictures to the French flag?  Or send our thoughts and prayers to those souls in those attacks?  What is it about a school shooting or a child’s death that puts those on the trending list on my home page?

A quick search on Wikipedia puts the death toll of the ebola outbreak at more than 10,000.  What happened to our terror at the outbreak?  It was exciting for a little while, maybe it was fun to be scared of it, but now it’s old news.

So before I respond to a tragedy like the seeming coordinated attacks in Paris, I ask myself “why.”  Why am I posting this update?  Who is going to read it?  If I type “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris” what is my purpose?  Do I think Paris is reading it and will be thankful?  Am I putting out good energy into the world?  Am I just joining in to the conversation to feel like I am a part of something bigger?  Why?

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  All energy you put into the universe goes somewhere.  When you add your voice to the love, there is a build up of energy.  And when you add your voice of hatred, blaming Muslims for the violence, your energy builds up there.  Who do you want to read your post?  What do you want them to think or do or say?  What is your purpose for the words you put out there?

What does Fox News want us to think or do or say when they play a constant stream of “news” asking whether or not Isis is gaining any momentum or traction from this attack?  Just for kicks I just logged onto Fox News Live Stream and it was playing exactly that.  I always get the feeling that the why behind their stories is to tell me that I should live in terror and that “we” should attack all the scary people out there.

So while I am deeply saddened by the horrific events in Paris, today I don’t just pray for Paris.  I pray for the world.  I pray that this event won’t widen the divide.  I pray for us.  I pray that you stop using the word “they” when you talk about the tragedy.  It is not “them” vs “us.”  There is only us.  What we put into this world comes back to us and this whole world needs healing.  More violence is not my answer.  I hope it is not yours.

I am going to take this particular incident as a reminder to spend my day sending out love, helping others, being a part of the solution.  Picking up fast food containers from my street.  Recycling the plastic we use.  Waving hello to strangers in my town.  Giving a hand to someone who has fallen or dropped something.  This is where it starts.  Peace begins in your own home, in your own town.

Let’s all be a part of the solution.

What Happened to Thanksgiving?

Three weeks ago I was walking in Walmart in the gardening section.  And there, tucked quietly on the side, in a row, near the patio furniture, were Christmas trees.  This was before Halloween.  I feel like the school year just started.

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Now, this is not a rant on how we are celebrating Christmas earlier and earlier.  Frankly, I don’t care about that in particular.  I’m sure there are people who quite brilliantly leave their Christmas tree up year round because it takes less energy.  That I don’t mind.  What I do mind is that the “holidays” based on getting stuff are squeezing out the holiday for appreciating the stuff.

Halloween has always been about dressing up and getting candy.  What’s cooler than dressing up and becoming something or someone completely different from yourself for one evening?  And getting Snickers bars to boot?  That’s amazing.

After Halloween is supposed to come Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is a holiday about family, about quality time spent together, about playing soccer or football in the backyard after eating a ton of food around a huge table packed with loved ones.  The whole idea of Thanksgiving is preparing food for someone else.  It’s spending hours together in the kitchen getting different dishes ready.  It’s everyone pitching in to make an entree or a dessert.  It’s guests helping you clean your dishes when half the party has left.  It’s playing Atari with your cousins in the basement and going on a long walk in the woods to counteract the tryptophan from the turkey.  This holiday is all about giving and thanking and community and kindness and gratitude.

No wonder it’s been completely overshadowed by the Christmas holiday season.  I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but here in America we like to get stuff.  We think our kids deserve hundreds of presents and we think other people should know what expensive thing we want to get under the tree.  In every school I’ve worked at over the years, Santa has become a bargaining tool for the children.  If you’re good you’ll get stuff, but if you don’t listen, Santa won’t come.

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So we go from dressing up and getting stuff in October, to a quick thanks for a second in November to “give me, give me, give me” in December.  January we have a momentary break and then we jump into February’s candy and card fest.

I guess I don’t need to go on, you can see where this is going.  We have become a country run by the gifts we get for each other.  We deserve the new car, the newest iPhone, and my child should have all the things on his Halloween, birthday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day lists.  We have become collectors of shiny stuff.

This year, I challenge you to cover your eyes and ears when the commercials for Christmas come on.  Stop believing the advertisements telling you how much you need.

What do you really need?  You need Thanksgiving.  Over and over and over again.  Remove yourself from the craziness.  I’m not saying not to give gifts.  But you don’t have to get everyone you’ve ever met a gift.  You don’t have to make a card for everyone who has ever crossed your path.  Your loved ones don’t need more than one present from you.

holding-handsThis holiday season (whatever that means) do your best to schedule time for the people you love.  Get out a board game.  Go outside for a walk.  Read a book together.  Create a meal from scratch together.  Do anything, but do it with someone.  Put your phones and your iPads down and look each other square in the eyes.  Whether you pray or not at your holiday of choice, you should still sit next to each other around a table and hold hands for a moment.  Maybe just take a deep breath together.  The human connection is something we’re losing.  Be the one to bring it back to your group.

Stop asking for more and appreciate all the things and people you have.

Do you have any plans with friends and family for the holidays?  Share it below!

Lost in the Comments

20130324-sss-brene-brown-4-949x534I remember watching Brene Brown for the first time.  I saw her on SuperSoul Sunday, one of my favorite shows in the world.  Brene, who researches and is an expert on vulnerability, was talking about her first TedTalk (which is a definite must-see).  Now, the entire talk is amazing, but that’s not what caught my attention at the time.  Oprah was interviewing her about the TedTalk and how she felt afterwards.  I’m paraphrasing in my own words, but basically when she did the talk, she didn’t think anyone was going to watch it.  It was recorded and shared online and soon after it had thousands of views.  Her friends and family told her about this, but they warned her not to read the comments.  And she did anyway.  And people are cruel in comments.  She talked about how devastating they were, how viciously people attacked her from the anonymity of the youtube account.  They attacked her weight and her looks and her parenting.  And afterwords she went into a deep spiral of sadness.

This stuck out to me because I find myself reading an article that I think is interesting and then, as if I can’t help myself, I scroll down to see the comments.  I am drawn to them.  I feel the need to know what other people thought about this article.  And then I get caught up.  I want to argue.  I want to agree.  I want to fact check for people and let them know how stupid they are.  I get very close to being the anonymous asshole.  Luckily my mama taught me to think before I act and I often type something out, read it over and carefully press the backspace key.  I have a rule that I will not say face to face or anonymously any statement that is meant specifically to hurt someone.  I will not hold back the truth if it actually needs to be said, but generally, a comment thread on an article is not a place for this.

Right before I decided to post this, I was reading a beautiful Facebook post sharing.  The heart of the post was to teach your daughter about how beautiful life is through sports and activities, through hiking and dancing and enjoying food and having experiences.  It was said through the lense of avoiding any conversation and comments about your daughter’s weight and looks.  The message was to focus on other aspects of beauty and not to focus on body image.

As I do, I read this beautiful post and then I scrolled down to read the comments.  There were so many commenters talking about how dumb the post was because if you don’t talk to your daughter about your weight, then who will and then she will get fat.  So you have to teach her about dieting.  Oy.  And I had to wrench my attention away.  This is what reminded me of the interview with Brene.  The comments can suck you in.  You know you shouldn’t read them and you just continue scrolling and scrolling.

I’m not sure why I read the comments.  I ended up responding several times to comments on the above example page.  Maybe I want to get a feel for how many people agree with me and how other people feel about it.  It’s like I’m taking a poll.  That seems to be my initial reason for reading on.  Once I get past a couple though, I feel myself getting sucked in to arguments.  I read mean remarks and I read the replies to see if anyone has taught them a lesson yet.  I read the back and forth on and on and on.  Religion, politics and dieting always get nasty arguments.  I am floored and amazed by the level of racism, elitism, and machism that get tossed in.

As I write this I’m thinking to myself, “New rule!  Never read the comments!”  And I know that’s a great idea.  But it’s a rule I have a very difficult time following.  Does anybody else have this issue?  I want to commit to avoiding comments, but I feel in my mind I am waffling.  I think if I promise I won’t do it, I might break that promise.  How do you all feel about this?  Advice?

Allowing Yourself to Let Go

This weekend I visited my sister in Charleston, SC.  It was an amazing, super fun, last minute trip and I’ll write about that another day.  My dogs also had a fabulous time.  They love a good road trip and they got so excited to see their Anna, Nick and Jackson.  On the way home in the car, they were still pretty excited.  I think they wanted to stay awake to be a part of all of the action.  My small dog, Gizmo, was really tired, but kept moving around on my lap, and standing up so he wouldn’t go to sleep.  He kept shifting and moving and going back and forth between my lap and the back seat.  Then, finally, there was a moment when he got on my lap and his whole body relaxed.  He gave in.  He let go, and fell asleep.  And then he snoozed for a few hours.  You could see his whole body go from tensed to relaxed in a matter of moments and as he fell deeper asleep his legs and head just splayed out and drooped.  0630151300

I told my husband how touching it is to be with someone when they finally let go.  It is a beautiful thing to be a part of that process.  For my dog to feel safe enough in a moving vehicle, to trust that I would keep him safe and he could let us take over.  And he could just relax.  And as I was thinking about this, I realized that this is something I love about life coaching and therapy as well.

When someone makes a decision to come into your office for the first time, or make that first phone call, generally they have let the stress and frustration and anxiety and anger build up for a long time.  American humans have a tendency to hold on to what is bothering them for a really long time.  We don’t ask for help.  We don’t want anyone to see how weak we are.  We want everyone to think that our lives our perfect, that everything is great, that we have got it all together.  Sowhen someone has gotten to the point to finally tell me their story, to admit that things have gotten tough, that they could use a little guidance, or a little motivation, or just a little nudge in the right direction, I always get this amazing experience.  Someone starts out talking fast, or in spurts, there are high emotions, there is a story about how they got to where they are now.  And at some point in the conversation, there is always a release.  There is a moment when they pause, take a breath, and let go.  That moment in an interaction with others is something I absolutely love.  It’s a necessary process, a turning point, when someone can let go of the story they’ve been telling, and start to build a new one.

I have the pleasure of being a catalyst for that process, I am there in the moment, I offer someone the space to relax, but it is not about me.  If you are feeling that kind of stress that knots up your whole body, that you feel like you can’t relax, you can’t sleep, you can’t breathe really deeply, then find someone to talk to who will just listen.  It can be a friend, your partner, your parent, a sibling.  Or maybe it’s a therapist, a life coach, a masseuse, your crossfit coach, a psychic, a doctor.  It’s such a healing experience.  Find someone who you feel comfortable telling that you are having a hard time.  When you can release that story, when you can finally pause, and take that deep breath, it allows room for you to start something new.

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Adulting

1029151915a_HDRToday was a new day.  If you read yesterday’s blog you know that I had a temporary meltdown.  I think that’s par for the course, that everyone has days like that.  I was tired, hungry, and spent the day trying to look busy.  So the follow-up of a dead battery and a car that wouldn’t start pushed me over the edge.  I’m pretty sure everyone has days like this every once in a while.

Today was a much different kind of day and it’s the reason I can tell that all of the hard work I’ve been doing over the years is working.  Rewind back just 7 years and this type of incident might have set off days or weeks of feeling down.  For me that usually looks just fine, maybe slightly frazzled or a little tired at work.  I would hold it in and put on a happy face for my professional colleagues and then I would drive straight home to crash.  I would watch tv, read a book, or just sleep.  I would definitely eat like crap and isolate myself.

Today it’s a different story.  This morning I knew that I was going to wake up feeling junky.  That’s expected after a day like yesterday.  Especially since I replayed the incident over and over in my head over night instead of getting a good night’s rest.  But, I’ve been here before, and I know what to expect.  So this morning my alarm went off and I angrily jumped out of bed to silence it.  I got straight into the shower, then turned on all of the lights, turned on some music and made coffee.  I took the time to sit in my sunroom to meditate this morning.  I listened to the crickets chirp, the jets flying over head and the birds.  I took the time to center myself for the day.

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When I got to work I wrote down my Core Desired Feelings.  If you’ve never heard of Danielle Laporte and her Core Desired Feelings, you’re missing out.  The very, very basic of it is to identify not what you want to do, but how you want to feel.  I put “supported, connected, joy, freedom.”  I took the time to seek out friendly faces, to smile and chat for a moment.  And as the morning went on I started to feel very good.  This afternoon I texted my friend to go for a walk around the track.  We did 2 miles, talked, and then did some random plyometric moves and had a good laugh about it.

When I got home I decided to take this thing all the way, so I made dinner on an actual plate (courtesy of my in-laws) and set the table for myself.  I ate looking out the window at my front yard and listened to the crickets chirp again.

This wasn’t easy.  It took a lot of work to continue to take actions to make myself feel better and dig myself out of the hole.  But it was worth it.  Tomorrow I know I’m going to wake up in a better mood and hopefully I can enjoy my weekend instead of curling up in my jammies.

Now that I’ve adulted all day I’m going to search for last night’s Criminal Minds episode, and hit the sack early.

Today is the Only Day

What if today was the last day?  What if today was the only day?

Recently I was asked the question:

“What do you want your legacy to be?”

Wow.  What a question, right?  But, it’s an important question.  When you ask yourself this question, it makes you dig deep about what you want to leave behind.  What would you want family and friends to remember about you?  What would you want your children to know if you could only pass on a short message in a letter or a video?  It makes you clear away the clutter and get to the heart of what your message in this world is.

I had a few ideas.  I’m sure this is a list that will grow, expand, and change as I continue to live my life.  Today, here is what I want you to know:

I want  you to know how incredibly essential and significant you are.  Yes, you.  Right there, reading this.  You.  This world needs you.  Your actions and words and thoughts and energy are an integral part of this universe.  And knowing that, I want you to believe in yourself and the potential that is in you.  That thing you want?  That you tell yourself is too big or expensive or grand or improbable.  You can have that.  The barriers are an illusion.  They are not real.  There are obstacles, but they are conquerable.  Every single one of them.  

That’s what I want you to know.

What I want you to do is test this.  Stop believing what you read or see on tv.  Try with something small that you’ve been putting off.  Figure out what the obstacles are and figure out how to get through and over and under and around.  Have fun, be creative, ask for help, get messy and laugh.  And then all of a sudden you’ll see you have or have done the thing.  Congratulations!  Now do something bigger.

 

That’s what I want you to know.  Believe in yourself.  Do cool shit.  In the great words of L’Oreal “You’re worth it.”So now it’s your turn.  What’s the legacy you want to leave?

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Oasis at Night

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30 Day Blog Challenge

 

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Hello my dear friends! As a member of the Easily Distracted crowd, I have probably mentioned before that I have a tendency to get an idea, start an activity, and then forget about it before I finish.  That is why, even though I love crafting, I have to pick projects that can be finished in a few hours, otherwise it might end up incomplete in the Land of Unfinished Toys.  When I moved from Hawaii to North Carolina I was forced to finish or give away many eyeless and earless elephants, unstuffed monster pillows, and cut, but not sewn bags.  The vault of half-finished ventures includes a list of about 20 blog post drafts, carefully thought out, started and abandoned.

Other than limiting myself to projects that can be complete in one day, it helps if I can find a group of folks that can motivate me.  So, in the name of those abandoned posts, my friends and I have begun a 30 day blog challenge.  I am hoping that this will light a fire under me to get in the habit of completing posts and publishing them rather than banishing them.

This post counts as Day Number 1.

My goal for this challenge is to create habits.  Hopefully along the way you will be entertained and informed.  My hope as always is for you to feel empowered, brave, and free.

I’m not sure what’s in store for tomorrow!

P.S.  If you’d like to join our facebook group and get motivated to blog with us, comment here or message me on my facebook page.

What and who do I stand for?

I stand for:

The helpers and healers in the world.

I stand for teachers who are raising our next generation.

I stand for mental health workers – our psychotherapists, our social workers, our probation and parole officers.

I stand for our police officers who have the almost impossible job of protecting us despite our fear and sometimes outright hatred for them.

I stand for our military service members who are on the ground fighting to keep us safe from harm and to defend our freedom. (Despite not always believing in or understanding the war they are fighting).

I stand for our non-profit workers, creating massive change in their organizations.

I stand for our nurses, our medical doctors, our dietitians, our physical therapists, all of those in the medical fields.

I stand for you, who are undervalued, underpaid, who work to help others often working harder than your clients or those you are trying to help to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. I stand for you.

I believe that we need to take care of ourselves. We need to stop believing that everyone else is more important than we are.

I believe that we need a strong team of individuals who are going to stand up and say that the systems we are working in are broken. But we are not just going to complain. We are going to make significant changes that will begin to heal our society as a whole.

I believe that we CAN do this. That we do not need to keep running the rat race. That we don’t need to continue to work in jobs that keep people sick. We do not need to be a part of the systems that generate and proliferate fear.

I believe that we can change the school systems, the health care systems, the prison systems.

And I believe that when we stop living as if there is not enough, when we recognize the abundance this universe has to offer we will see that we already have the tools and resources to do it, we already have the people, we already know how. We just need to work together and stop accepting the status quo.

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