Cheerleaders

This is a topic I scribbled in a notebook before I even started the blog.  It was a fall-back topic if I needed something to write about.  Today I’m writing about it because it is genuinely on my mind.

Back in the Spring, after church one day, I stopped for a quick chat with our minister.  “Your spiritual mommies are so proud of you.”  She said to me.  Spiritual mommies? My mom had been in for a visit the week before, was that what she was talking about?  I can’t remember if I asked or the look on my face asked for me, but she announced the names of two women in church that I had been in book group with and had a strong connection to.  I thought of the encouragement they give me nearly every time I am in their presence.  I have to admit that sometimes when they compliment me I think to myself that surely they are confusing me with someone else.  I’m not sure that I’ve even met this person they describe.

So Rev. Jean got me thinking about the spiritual mommy concept and I actually think that within my church I now have four.  I sat with one of them on Sunday.  When the service was over she hugged me and said “I love being in your essence.”  Wow.  This wise, beautiful, loving, strong, spirit-filled woman loves my essence?

Aside from my “spiritual mommies,”  I have other cheerleaders.  I have a partner who quietly watches my success and then announces that he always knew I could do it.  I have my writing fairy godmother who sends me emails after our Wednesday meetings and cheers on my work, reminding me to keep going.  There is the occasional awesome soul who gets goose bumps when I share an idea I have or a project I’m working on.  There are those who read what I’ve written and express how moved they are.  There are those who hold a vision for my “career” that even I can’t conjure up.

I don’t know if in the past I really recognized my cheerleaders.  I think we often choose people in our lives that we want to support us and get disappointed when they don’t.   I’ve been there too, sharing my dreams and goals to no avail.  I’ve learned that I haven’t completely let go of a desire for approval from certain people in my life, but I have let go enough to see the loving support all around me.

My cheerleaders are wonderful!  They give me confidence when I am lacking in that department.  They hold the high watch of my dreams when I am feeling frustrated and rejected.  They see glimpses of the best in me and aren’t afraid to tell me so.  I am so very grateful for all of them!

Enjoy!

Passion, pleasure, bliss, ecstasy….

When I hear those words my knee jerk emotion is the opposite of the feelings behind any of them.  Something within me thinks the search for any of the above would be indulgent and downright selfish.  My happiness should not be important.  The only thing that should matter is that my family and friends are happier because of what I do for them.  This results in an endless cycle of guilt, because frankly I can never do enough.  I mean I can’t buy Bella that horse farm she wants, provide sundresses warm enough to keep Callee from having to wear pants in the winter, and build an extra sound proof room onto the house for Mark to practice his music in.    Like Leigh said in a comment on Monday, I am not Superwoman!

I am learning that I can put aside the shoulds and the guilt and try to nurture my soul and my spirit by daring to enjoy my life.  There are certain activities we are drawn to.  When we take part in them we might just experience passion, pleasure, bliss and even ecstasy. This is OK… Experiencing those feelings is a lot like hitting the jackpot.  It means we’ve connected with a vital piece of ourselves.  It provides us with insight about our life’s direction and contribution to society.  Right now I love to write this blog, read spiritual/metaphysical/new age books, meditate, and engage in conversations on various related topics.  Sometimes I wonder where these activities are taking me.  Despite the joy I get from a conversation about spirit guides and chakras, I wonder if I just have my head in the clouds.  But when I stop doing these things, when I try to read normal books, lurk around on the internet, and stick my nose into other people’s drama, I find I am no longer in-joy.  There is no pleasure, passion, bliss or ecstasy.  All of that is replaced with agitation and unease.

The agitation and unease that comes with neglecting my soul’s desires affects me and thus affects my family.  When I’ve wasted my time and energy all day without doing anything that fulfills me, I am empty and often grumpy during my time with them.  When I’ve been inspired and engaged passionately in an activity I feel excited.  Yesterday, for example, after going to the gym I came home and had a great meditation session, finished reading an interesting book, and worked on blog stuff.  I felt incredible and the time zoomed by.  Our family time that evening was truly quality time because I wasn’t in my head thinking about the things I wished I would have accomplished.

I am going to make a point to acknowledge the moments I feel pure joy.  I’m also going to ask to be shown more ways to experience passion, bliss, pleasure, and ecstasy.  If I have learned nothing else from the great loss I experienced last year, I’ve learned that our time here is not guaranteed and happiness is our birthright if only we are willing to claim it!!  So what about you…what’s waiting in the wings to bring you joy?

Resolutions?

I don’t really believe in making resolutions.  I’ve only ever been successful at keeping a resolution once and that was about 9 years ago.  But if I was going to make them, here are some of the things I’d like to do/be/achieve this year.

1.  Lose 20 pounds by eating healthy and exercising every day.  (Even if I don’t lose the 20, I still want to eat healthy and exercise daily because I just feel better and my body works better when I do.)

2.  Meditate twice a day totalling at least 40 minutes every day no matter what!

3.  Read from the Bible (thanks Heather), A Course in Miracles, or Joel S. Goldsmith for at least 10 or 20 minutes a day.

4.  Start volunteering once a month with a friend from church at The Shelter feeding a meal to the homeless.

5.  Write a novel!

6.  Continue to post on the blog daily.

7.  Journal each day especially about all that I am grateful for.

8.  Keep in touch with people.

9.  Keep the house clean and clutter-free.

10.  Practice yoga at least 3 times a week.

11.  Set a schedule for internet “checks” and stick with it!

12.  Last but absolutely MOST IMPORTANT is to spend more quality time with the girls and Mark!!!!

So now that I’ve made the list, I am surrendering it!  Some of it will happen because it is meant to and some of it will not.  As long as I am aware enough to hear the still small voice and to pay attention to the signals my body sends me, I should be just fine.  I have a good feeling about 2010, that is for sure.  2009 was a year for change and rebirth, 2010 will be the year for me to discover who I am and what I’m capable of now!

2009 in Review

Today I got home from my trip to NC.  I didn’t do as much as I’d planned to on the trip (sorry if I flaked on you and you’re reading), but did get to spend time with my family, my best friends,  Amy’s mom and the baby boys.  We arrived home this evening two hours later than planned, thanks to some terrible traffic in SC and GA.  Mark just brought in the mail and something very special was in it.  Every 1st Sunday of the year at Unity Eastside, we write a letter to God describing the vision that we hope to create in our life for the year.  So I thought I’d share last year’s letter dated 1-4-09.

Dear God,

I set aside the little I and now focus on the big I.  I keep my mind on you, with you, and in you.  My life shows forth that which you have planned for me.  I am an instrument and I am fulfilling your purpose for me.  I am propelled to do that which is of service to others and is directed by you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I am aware and awake.  My life is in you.

Leslee

I was a bit surprised to read the letter.  I remembered it being more of a “surrendering to the plan” rather than setting goals for myself, but it was still interesting to read almost a year after writing it.  I don’t think I’ve been successful at setting aside the little I (the ego) as much as I’d hoped.  This year has certainly had it’s share of drama and I’ve let myself get caught up in it at times.  I do think that so much of what has happened this year has been a part of the plan and I feel like I am following an inner guidance that, despite how it feels at times, has everything in control.

I plan to write a similar letter this year (despite lots of “resolutions” that I may write about tomorrow).  The best thing I can do for myself is to just let go of the wheel.

A lot has happened this year.  I’ve healed and made stronger some relationships, while others have experienced blows.  I’ve dealt with the death of one of my oldest and dearest friends, but was able to hold her baby boys just two days ago.  I started this blog and have exposed my inner thoughts, gone out on a limb, and stepped on a few toes along the way.  I’ve learned both easy and hard lessons here.  I’ve met some amazing writers and bloggers who inspire me daily.  I’ve continued to ask questions and take notice when the answers present themselves to me.  I have been incredibly human and also had beautiful moments in communion with God.  I’ve reminded myself far too often to “be present” and stop thinking about the past and the future!  Mostly I’ve tried to be the instrument as often as I can.  If even one person received something from my words or my deeds this year than I succeeded in that!

Happy New Year everyone!  Have fun tonight and be safe…

Blog Award

So I have actually received two of these blog awards before and failed to do the assignment because I was too lazy!  But my friend, Karen, over at “Modern Day Storyteller” gave me this one and I have decided to participate.

*Realized that in writing this post yesterday I spent so much brain power on thinking of 7 things and 7 blogs that I failed to express the huge amount of gratitude I feel for receiving this award from Karen.  Karen is one of those I place in the “brilliant writer” category, so it is truly an honor for her to acknowledge my blog in this way.  Thank you sooo much Karen!!!

The requirement here is for me to tell 7 things about myself that you do not know and choose 7 blogs to pass the honor onto. So here goes:

1.  I have been the proud dog mommy to Oscar and Lilly (2 mini Dachshunds) for 10 years and somehow have managed to allow them to become MONSTERS!  As they are entering their golden years they seem to be more spastic and wild then ever before and I am at a loss as to how to control them.

2.  I met my husband at a cheesy night club and was attracted to him because he had long hair (and subsequently months later I was the one who encouraged him to cut it all off).

3.  I am about 6 credit hours short of having a history degree, but probably couldn’t beat a fifth grader in a history quiz contest.

4.  The very first time I attended my Unity Church and listened to the female minister speak the thought (via the still small voice) that went through my head was “That’s what I want to do.”   (Now whether or not I ever do it is a whole other story…)

5.  Two of my all time favorite movies are “Fight Club” and “American History X” both of which star Edward Norton and have some intense violence.

6.  When I was in Junior High I was a bit delusional and wanted to be a model…so instead of going with my family on a trip to Hawaii, I chose to attend  John Casablanca’s Modeling School.

7.  I taught for two years in an inner-city school, where my second graders threw chairs, flipped desks, and cursed when they got upset… But all that being said, I loved them and always seemed to connect the most with the kids the other teachers warned me about.

Now who to pass the award on to….

1.  My friend Stacia has started blogging fairly recently.  After only a handful of posts she has managed to stir my emotions more than any other blogger I’ve read.  I have laughed out loud, cried, and shared in her annoyance! It is a treat to stop by “Ribbon Off My Eyes.”

2.  Kasey happens to be one of the most positive and genuinely sweet people I know.  I’ve been following her blog from day 1 and it is always a joy to read.  She shares her love for music, movies, family, friends, and God with her readers.  Her blog is titled “Midnite Monologues.”

3.  I know I have mentioned “Why Is Daddy Crying” before and must give him another shout-out for being funny and entertaining.  Currently he is dealing with what a lot of other Americans are dealing with…job loss.  His blog of course now has a new twist.  We are all meeting a whole new side of Daddy as he takes on more responsibility with the kids as his “wifey” goes off to work.  I wish him much luck in his job search!

4. The first time I ever visited @OpinionatedGift’s blog the post was exactly what I needed to read at the moment.  After that, I sort of made a point to become his friend.  That was 5 or so months ago and now I think I can officially call him “friend.”  His blog is called “Gifts of Thought” and reading his opinions is quite a gift!

5.  Carlene was the very first tweeter that I started following.  She is a survivor of abuse and refuses to cling to a victim mindset.  She is amazingly strong and talented.  You can read her writing and see her photography (which mostly stars her adorable Yorkie, Cooper) at “An Unrelenting Optimist.”

6.  Kelli’s (AKA: Mountain Mama) was the first blog I ever started reading regularly.  What struck me immediately was her beautiful writing.  I am so often inspired by her posts.  She reminds me to be in the moment, take care of my family lovingly, and most of all nourish my soul.  She writes quite a bit about raising a family in the mountains of Kentucky and it is all fascinating to this “city girl.”  Take the time to visit “A Mountain Mama’s Blog.”

7.  Renee started blogging shortly after I did.  Like Kelli, she is an amazingly talented writer!  She is blunt and honest as she writes about her life and observations.  Renee is also very interactive and rarely lets a comment go without a response.  You can read her posts at “An Unexplored Wilderness.”

8.  Okay, I’m cheating now but I can’t end this post without mentioning the lovely and inspiring Grateful Kim!  Her blog is a joyful and uplifting must-read! You can visit it here…”Gratefulkim’s Blog.”

*If you got a nod from me here, you are supposed to pass it on and of course mention my blog when you do, but I’ll forgive you if you don’t.  Trust me, I understand!

WTF?!?

It is Wednesday night.  Tomorrow I am posting a beautiful click story from Kim Wencl and on Friday you will read this.  It occurred to me that following Kim’s love-filled post with a sad and angry rant might not be the best idea, but right now I want to put what I feel into words.

It’s been a little over a month since Amy died.  I don’t really get this whole grief thing – I’m new to it.  I’ve been told, much to my dismay, that you don’t really move through the stages of grief evenly as much as you bounce around between them.  I think in the beginning I just skipped anger.

There’s a reason for everything.

We all choose our path and make our contracts before we enter this life.

We are all going to learn and grow because of this.

Amy completed her journey, accomplished her goals, achieved her dreams, and she was ready to go.

Something good will come from this.

This is what I told myself.  This is how I kept from getting angry.  But tonight I sat down to meditate and all that I could think was WHAT THE FUCK?

I want to call my best friend.  There are things I need to tell her.  And yes, I know, she’s with me and she’s listening and she’s sending me signs.  I know this, I really do.  I get the signs (or some of them) and I understand.  But what I really want is to hear her say “I’m proud of you, Les.”  I want to hear her ask me to move back home just one more time.  I want to hear about her big plans to redecorate the house.  I want her to write on my Facebook page about how “Aunt Amy” will play dress-up and put on make-up with Bella and Callee. I want her to be standing in front of me so I can look at her one more time and be in awe at how small and perfectly shaped she is and wonder how the hell she got her hair to grow so long and thick so quickly.

The thing is mostly I’ve gone back to the routine.  I think about Amy as much as I did before she died.  I think about her when her name pops up on Facebook, when I hear or see something that reminds me of her, or when there is something I want to tell her.  Because of the distance she wasn’t a daily part of my life.  I don’t experience the loss as much as others.  So here I am feeling so sad and so lost and then I think of Kristin, Tim, Susie, Brad, and Candie and I just think what the fuck?

From what I have read on Facebook, Gavin came home from the hospital today.  I want Amy to call me and tell me what it’s like to have both of her twin baby boys home.  But then I remember, she’s not going to call.  Christmas day will mark the two month anniversary of her death and Gavin and Brantley’s first Christmas.  What the fuck?  It sucks and tonight I’m angry about it.  For the first time, I’m really angry.  It is just not right.  It is not right that my best friend died without ever seeing or touching her baby boys.  It is not right that her husband, mom, and sister have to hire a nanny to do the job that she was supposed to do.  It’s not right that she doesn’t get to be the matron of honor in Kristin’s wedding.  And it’s not right that I can’t call her and talk to her RIGHT NOW!

So tonight, in this moment, I am totally human and filled with a very sad anger.  Since I can’t call Kristin (we usually cry..I mean talk every week but she’s out of town) and cry in anger with her, I did it while I typed.  Thanks for bearing with me on this one.

Georgia On My Mind

Last year was our first Thanksgiving as a (more or less) vegetarian family.  I made spaghetti squash and cheese ravioli.  It sucked!  Besides waking up to the parade on TV and being off from school/work, it felt like just another day.  Holidays are tricky every year because we live so far away from our families.  In the past, the girls have not made for good traveling companions so we would avoid it (traveling) at all costs.  Now we have added an extra obstacle to the holiday season…not eating meat.  This year, after the option of my mother-in-law visiting was taken off the table, we decided to take a Thanksgiving vacation.  Tomorrow we leave for Savannah where we intend to make Thanksgiving less about turkey and more about experience, culture, history, and ghosts!

The last time I was in Savannah was in April of 2009, with my three best friends…Amy, Kristin, and Heather.  I am so thankful to be returning to a place where I now have great memories of mi amigas!  Here we are seven months ago:

sav1

Above: Heather, Amy and me at The Chart House restaurant.

sav2

Above: Kristin and me (getting the first glass of wine).

sav3 Left: Me, Kristin and Heather in the garden of The Davenport House … Amy was in the room busy napping and growing babies!

sav4Right: Me, Amy and Kristin getting our belly dancing lesson at The Kasbah Morroccan restaurant.

Above: Amy tipping the belly dancer at Kasbah.