Category Archives: Parenting

Single mom, sexuality, dating, two-year-olds, infidelity, divorce

The Death Grip of Holding On Too Tight

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This post is dedicated to all I have a hard time with letting go. Even those that I just mentally hang on to, maybe especially for them.🙂

So, I find myself on this Tuesday morning in my house alone. It is quiet, except for construction workers getting ready for a day in the sun building the beach mansion across from me for a wealthy Sketcher family member. (I try not to get angry about it, but it’s blocking my view of the ocean as I live in an original surf shack, one of the few, sigh.) And then of course, I can hear the ever-present surfers slamming car doors excitedly, filled with energy, ready to run to the surf and tackle waves. I love them in a way I can’t explain. No, it’s not for the abs and sexy shoulders gals. It’s because they remind me, that every day is new. You’ll see excitement in the old guys and the young ones who can’t wait to find out just how tough or soft the waves are that morning. This spot in front of my house is never the same. It may look the same, but underneath is magic. A full moon appears and the ocean responds with so much energy you can feel the electric pull along with all those trying to ride. The sun sets, especially in winter, and it’s exploding apricot and violet and cinnamon just at its edge and I’m filled with gratitude with my neighbors who watch with me while sipping their wine. (I sit in the sand, they sit on the balconies of their mansions, but we are all the same in that moment.)

Why am I sharing this? Because lately, I’ve been away and my mind became cluttered with negative energy and fear. I’ve missed just watching these daily rituals in my hood that remind me that every day is filled with raw potential and it demands that I get in that flow and out of my house and my head. (a hard task for a writer!) This morning I find myself writing in my empty house and listening to the world outside that is asking me to join in. But I stay inside as I find myself hold on mentally to those I love. How are my boys, now away and with their dad for the first time in what, five months? How is my friend who is suffering from depression? Why hasn’t another dear friend gotten back to me? Is he ok? Is he mad at me? Am I a good enough friend? And then there is this, that I’ve been hanging on to for years…why do I still want to hear from that person who is clearly wrong for me? Sigh. These thoughts swirl in my mind. So instead of going for a run on the beach, or doing my yoga routine or the 22 pushups I’m doing every day for 22 days as a challenge, I’m sitting with my thoughts, my worries, and allowing them to just be. Today, I will embrace them. Then I’m going to let them go. (And really let them go, as I have to leave to teach some beautiful souls fighting cancer. It’s hard to not be in the present moment with those who are acutely aware that today may be their last.) But back to my lingering, looping thoughts of those I just won’t let out of my heart and mind…When it comes to my friends and those who I need to let go, I will see them in a golden light. I will see them as free and happy and I will mentally lift them up to the clouds. When it comes to my children, well that’s a bit harder.

For the longest time I thought letting go meant I was a bad mother. But in reality, I don’t own my children. I can love them and give them guidance, but then I have to let them follow their own path. I adore this passage by Kahlil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

 

When I hold on it takes the mental form of worrying or being filled with regret or longing or what ifs. It’s a form of fear. It’s a form of distraction, as it’s keeping me from embracing the new day, the new potential, the new chance to ride my own wave and get into a flow with the Universe.

 

Jack Kornfield, renown Buddhist author and monk  said in his article Letting Go:

“In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing. Both ways do not seek to possess. Both allow us to touch each moment of this changing life and allow us to be there fully for whatever arises next.”

And I’ll add that allowing ‘whatever arises next’ is not in ANY way a form of disregarding or disrespecting the love you have for others. For a few months now I have been letting go some very dear souls and it is a loss. A deep loss. But they need to follow different paths and I want them to be happy. It’s that simple. If you love in the truest sense, you want everyone to be happy. Not happy doing what you envision. Not happy being there for you always. But happy in the way they define happy. So I love them and want them to do what makes their hearts sing, even if that is without me in their lives.

Once I start letting go, others come in. But for whatever reason, when I start to let others in, I feel a bit unfaithful to those who used to be such a big part of my life. It’s silly. It’s another form or getting in my own way and stopping the flow or current the Universe wants me to be in. This weekend I’m meeting some beautiful souls. They are even staying with me, although I don’t yet know them. They are yoga teachers from the East Coast who are dear friends with a new friend of mine I met in Peru. These guys have started a clothing line and need a place to stay as they go on photo shoots, etc. to promote it. Every time we speak or text, it’s quite funny as we are in sync. Both have to go to meditate and get more sleep after being in or teaching a class. They are definitely sweet souls and new friends with viewpoints I get and a positivity that is infectious.

My friends from my TUT trip to Peru are coming in as well this week. One of my yoga students has given us her house in Topanga—only one of my favorite places in LA or the world! How lucky am I?? I’m beyond excited to hike and practice yoga and just reconnect with these new girlfriends that I adore. And on Monday, my soul sister I met last summer in Barcelona is coming in. She is a new friend, yet an old one. It’s hard to explain. It’s like we knew each other before or have been friends a very, long time. So she’ll be here visiting till Wed. and may go to classes with me, hang on the beach. I’m so very lucky to have such soulful friends. The connections are pure and deep and it’s what I’ve always wanted.

So, I pause today, feeling my feelings of loss. I will accept that I miss some people who are precious to me, still very important to me, yet aren’t in my life right now. I accept that I miss them. I accept that they still have pieces of my heart with their names on them, pieces that will always be theirs. But I do not own them. And they do not own me. I will accept these feelings that I have. Even the ones where I worry that I’m being unfaithful by embarking on new friendships. I am not. I just miss them. But they are on their own journey. I respect that. Love is free. Love is simple. Love just requires us to love, accept and let others be happy on their journey. The only crime is when I don’t love myself enough to let myself be free, fly, flow, and seek out a new day with new opportunities, new friendships. So to love others freely, requires that I love myself with as much compassion.

My habit for the past year, every day when I wake up, is to mentally say to myself: thank you for this new day. May I love well. May I live presently and please God, let me let go.

I don’t own this life. I am only passing through. I don’t even own this body. So just because I love my children or love family or friends doesn’t mean that I own them either. My love isn’t a chain. It doesn’t mean they are forced to DO anything. They are free to live how they choose, even if that way hurts themselves or shuts me out or goes down a path that I never considered. I let go with love. I wish them well with love. Because in the end, love is all about letting go. It is all about acceptance and not just validation or meeting my needs. If I truly love someone, anyone, then I want them to be happy. It’s as simple as that. And only those who are wild and free and following their dreams are truly happy. Those who feel chained or trapped out of obligation can never truly be content.

Just my wandering Tuesday morning thoughts, straight from my heart, filled with love.

Have a beautiful day,

Laura

100+ Follows!

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WOOHOO!! I received word a few weeks ago that I reached a milestone of 100 followers…I believe it’s 104 today. Isn’t that amazing? I’m so grateful to all of you who read my musings and who are on this journey with me as I evolve into a more conscious human being and navigate this world of mine as a single mom, yoga teacher, writer and budding novelist. Phew! That’s a lot isn’t it? Geez. And that doesn’t even touch my day to day life juggling needs as a FT mom and being single: striving to stay positive, focussed, motivated and find time to eek in a little fun, love, travel, adventure. You know, what we all seek—the spice in our rice, the music that makes us want to dance, or the moment our heart races when we recognize a person as a dear friend or potential ‘one’ that makes life so much more than just life. You know?

 

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you—new and old followers—of NavigatingVita. Since I started this blog August 26, 2011 a lot has changed in my life. My divorce became official. I broke up with a man that I thought I might marry. (The first man I had kissed in 15 years since my husband, so maybe I needed more experience dating too…) I joined a support group. I began and finished 4 yoga trainings. I now teach yoga. I wrote a novel. Yup, after taking a 15 year hiatus from creative writing after I completed my first novel in grad school, well, I jumped back in. I wrote a novel that was inspired by a true story uncovered when I was a newspaper reporter in the North Carolina mountains, moons ago. And, I started writing another novel. (See excerpt here.) I’ve travelled a lot: England, Italy (3 x), Spain, Czech, Hawaii (3x) Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico…And stumbled upon some cool experiences, such as being on the Queen Latifah show as a Contestant # 3 for her Dating Game Show. A well-intentioned neighbor, who happened to be a producer for her, decided I needed help finding a date since I rarely get out except to take or do yoga. It was a hilarious experience! And even with the help of Queen Latifah, her bachelor chose the grandmother out of the three contestants because she was the one who talked dirty and promised sex on the first date. (Men, is that all that it takes? Maybe for another blog post, but seriously?! My kids were watching too, could NOT go there. Hmmm.) Here I am last Feb. embarrassed after Queen Latifah tried to insinuate that I was a southern good girl, but not that good. Go figure. Still didn’t get the date! Probably a good thing.🙂
The Queen Latifah Show Season 2

So, what can I say? Life is good. Life is challenging. Life can be upsetting and then suddenly delicious. It can become overwhelming and tedious and boring and then suddenly beautiful without words sufficient to express that beauty or the enormous amount of gratitude felt. Throughout it all: throughout the disappointments of agents not accepting my work, and then the high of one who does— or the boy who breaks my heart so completely that I can barely function … And of course my boys who are my anchor and mean everything to me. Throughout it all, I write as a means to seek, to find my center, to garner a balance, catch my breath and to embrace compassion, patience and forgiveness. And…still find time to dance and travel—at least once a  year! This is what motivates all my blog posts in one way or another. Even if indirectly as I am somewhat private. If I write about how to discover your worth and uncover hidden, sabotaging beliefs, trust me, it’s because I need to write about that topic due to poor or impulsive choices. If I write about how yoga enhances creativity and helps bash self-doubt, it’s likely because I’m teaching too much, not practicing daily yoga and therefore, finding it hard to carve out time every day to feel entitled to write that novel. Who do I think I am, right? So, I often write about what I need to learn. It’s the same when I teach yoga as each week there is a theme to my classes: forgiveness, acceptance, surrender, strength, combating anger, staying open, trust, faith, etc. You get the idea. I teach and write about what I need to learn. And if any of this has resonated with you, I’m truly honored.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

I’m sending so much love & light & laughter to you all. Life is a trip—and one only worth navigating with dear friends. Thank you for the support.

With gratitude,

Laura x

New Friends on My Journey

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Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens

Taking baby steps onto my path, my journey to open up a future living my dreams, can be scary. But what I’ve been learning over the past two and a half years especially, is that as I move forward into my truth to live an authentic life that reflects my soul’s purpose, I meet people on the way who instantly feel like family. It’s a beautiful thing. As a single mom of two, it would be very easy for me to just continue with a traditional job and ensure that I have a safe life. But three years ago, after recovering from my divorce, I still felt as if my soul was sinking, getting buried into a life that wasn’t my own. I wasn’t myself. I longed to trust myself and not continue to do the right thing or be who others might want me to be. I took an intensive yoga teacher training and  reconnected to my inner voice. That voice can get drowned out by the needs of children and the expectations of others. I connected with soulful, supportive friends, like my yoga teacher and was able to find the courage to explore my heart’s desire. Just before that training began in September 2013, I had started writing creatively again. I’ve been a journalist and editor since I was 19 years old…but I stopped writing creatively after my first son was born. I wrote a book in graduate school, then met my husband soon after. And I began living for my son and for my husband— trying to ‘be’ what was expected of me to be the best mom I could, while also bringing in income for the family. The divorce woke me up. It didn’t feel good, but now I see that it was necessary. I had lost my way. My inner voice was silent. I was listening to other’s limited beliefs about who I was or what I could accomplish or the kind of life I should be living.

The past two and a half years have been amazing. Two more intensive yoga trainings later, and after creating a supportive writer’s group with friends who also feel like family, I finished my novel Uriel’s Mask and am half way through my next novel Between Thoughts of You! It’s funny how life works. For me, once I began to take baby steps into my authentic life and really trust the Universe, I began meeting others on similar soul-searching journeys. It’s beautiful. I love the synchronicity. It’s like the Universe saying: “See? I told you you aren’t alone and it’s more fabulous when you step outside of your comfort zone and into your purpose, isn’t it?!”

This week, Tory, of the GingertAle blog sent me a long note that made me cry. She said that my posts felt like words from a guardian angel as she’s now a single mom of a three-year-old and trying to launch a new career. She said she just needed the inspiration to keep on her journey, to not cave to other’s limited viewpoints on what she could accomplish. She sent me this post: “Live Deep and Suck the Marrow Out of Life”. Read it. It’s beautiful. As she takes baby steps into her dreams, while also striving for balance to take the best care she can of her daughter, she’ll discover friends along the way, like angels, to inspire and support her. I know I have.🙂 I’m so grateful for them, too.

For instance, last summer I met another writer, Ann Marie Frohoff , who has written three novels and is working on a documentary and another non-fiction project while also a dedicated mom. She lives in my home town! I met her randomly when on a date to a concert. The date and I decided we are better off friends, but I met Ann through one of his friends. I love when these things happen. Just knowing she’s out there writing every day, has been a huge inspiration to me.

Also last summer, while the boys were with their Dad in London & France, I decided to go to Barcelona, (my ex flew me to London with the boys, so it was a short, inexpensive flight!). I found a  roof-top apartment via airbnb that allowed me to have panoramic views of the city and water and even sleep under the stars! Had I listened to anyone who lamented that it isn’t safe for women to travel solo, I wouldn’t have had such an amazing journey. I did yoga every morning, wrote, explored the city. It was hard sometimes being alone, but I was able to take the art tours I wanted and to go up to the mountains of Montserrat. On one museum tour, I met a beautiful soul, who is now one of my best friends. She’s from San Francisco and was traveling solo after a break up. We couldn’t stop chatting and ended up going out to eat, to the beach, on a sailing cruise and then to a support group she had found. She’s coming to visit me this August. We chat quite a lot supporting each other as she is also starting a new career and on a similar spiritual path. Definitely a soul sister.

I’ve been an avid TUT.com fan since the Notes from the Universe first began. Mike Dooley’s notes resonate with me, especially after I had an apprenticeship with a medium and life coach in 2012. So, at the last minute, I decided that I’d take the risk and go to the TUT Peru trip last March. It was a trip that was a little out of my budget, I didn’t know anyone there, but I felt compelled to go. I’m so glad I did! On that trip I met so many soulful and fun friends. Two are visiting me this August as well, while  the boys are with their dad. One is also a yoga teacher and the other is originally from the South and very creative. We just ‘get’ each other.

I’m so grateful for all those on my journey. Some have read chapters of my novels and given me support and guidance that is priceless. I’m not one used to anyone giving to me. I like to give to others, it’s who I am. But I’m realizing that by allowing others on my journey to give to me, I can give back in numerous ways, and hopefully inspire them as well. We all need a little support to confirm we are on the right path, or that all will be OK. It’s scary to climb out on a limb reaching for a dream. But what I’m learning, is that it’s also so very rewarding. The journey means I’m alive. I’m excited. I following my truth and doing exactly what I love, every damn day. I’m writing. I’m teaching or doing yoga. I’m living with the two most important spiritual teachers in my life, my two boys. Sure, I’d love for my books to get published by a mainstream publisher, or the love of my life to finally find me …but you know what? Where I am right now, is so sweet. I’m beyond grateful for this beautiful life and the soulful friends I’m making on this journey.

If you are taking the first few baby steps onto your journey, consider me a friend along the way. If you’re following your heart, your intuition, your purpose—what lights up your soul—you’re on the right path. And you just might discover that the journey is as magical and the destination.🙂 I know that’s how I feel.

LOVE & LIGHT XO

 

The Anti-Pity Party

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Sunday F-Me Day. That’s the single mom mantra. That, or: TGIM! (Thank God it’s Monday!). I’m so pooped by Sunday night that I can go to a very dark place if I’m not careful. Yes, I love my kids endlessly. But F Me, it’s been 6 weeks again without a break or a weekend off. I didn’t sign up for this. When I married my husband, an Eagle Scout who had worked for Jimmy Carter at one point, I had NO clue that he’d leave after our 2nd baby was born. I never imagined that he’d choose another life, another person. And when I say leave, I mean leave. He lives in Europe and sees the boys 4 weeks a year. My break 6 weeks ago was due to my thoughtful mother-in-law who came to help. I’m so grateful for her. We’ve had our ups and downs; probably like all daughters & mother-in-laws, but she really understands what I’m going through and is baffled as well. Her son had the opportunity to take a job in San Francisco and even told his boys that he was taking it and would see them more often. He told them San Fran or New York, yay! They got so excited. But then, he didn’t take those jobs. And they haven’t seen him in a long time. His new job is in Amsterdam. Sigh. I can’t control him. I wish he hadn’t said anything to them, but I can’t change that either. So, I’m sad for them, AND lets be honest, I’m sad for me, too.

 

Lets face it. I’m ON 337 days a year without breaks! The 2 afternoons a week I have a sitter, I’m working, so it’s not really a break.. And it’s been 7 YEARS of this. So that’s ON Full-Time with the boys for nearly 2,359 days. It’s exhausting. It taken a toil on my social life, my work productivity, sometimes my sanity and most definitely my love life.

So that’s me having a pity party. Do I have cancer or am dying? NO. Am I homeless? NO. Are my boys the best things that ever happened to me and the best spiritual teachers in my life? YES.

Intellectually I know I’m the luckiest gal in the world. BUT…by Sunday evening, I’m pooped. And I think it has a lot to do with the way my weekends go. I can’t teach or do yoga on weekends because of their soccer schedules. So I’m racing around and not doing things for me. I don’t go out much anymore either, not since I ramped up my yoga teaching and am still writing! Yes, I’m working on my 3rd novel and am ridiculously excited about it, more so than the other two! So life is good, right?

Well, only, and I do mean only, if I take care of myself and get into the right head space.

The old me of three years ago, the pre-yoga, support group and TUT (tut.com) mentality, would whine and complain, and have a pity party. Mostly to myself—but still. It kept my vibration and my outlook bleak. I’m still a work in progress. If I get sick, or my kids do, and I’ve been ON for 5 to 6 weeks straight without help I can spiral again without self care. Two weeks ago I hit a low point again. It happens. I realized that with my 7 weekly classes of yoga I teach, I’m not actually working out much myself. The mucky brain, mild depression or pity party builds slowly, but usually by Sunday, with a little one who doesn’t want to get out much, and isn’t terribly independent, we can both get stuck in a rut. I try to turn inward. How can I love myself more? What can I do to take better care of myself?

Often times that means saying no to someone who is demanding. It’s not a coincidence that I attract people who want or seem to need a lot of my time or want help just to keep afloat. These folks distract me from taking care of myself. It’s a co-dependent side of me that I’m working on. But once I clear the deck and make space for clarity and calm me-time, I have the chance to mentally flip a switch and stop whatever tape is playing in my head, like a record rip in the old days: RRRIIIPPPP! and then I can take a deep breath and figure out what I need.

 

Last Sunday I had a family meeting with my two boys and asked my oldest to babysit every Sunday evening at 6 for a 2 hours so I can go to a friend’s Yin yoga class. That will be my treat after shopping, cooking, schlepping to soccer games all weekend. My oldest wasn’t happy about it at first, but when I explained that I need time for me, that we’re traveling all over California for his soccer games and then he’s out with his friends every weekend night till 9:30/10…there isn’t balance in the household. He needs to give back to me and his little brother who schleps around all weekend for his big brother’s stuff, too. My son was very sweet about it. It’ll give me a break and a little time to breathe. 

I can’t control what my ex does or doesn’t do.

I can’t change the past. I can’t change my situation. But I can change my outlook. I can embrace healthy habits, like a morning workout ritual, meditation, gratitude journals and my new practice of doing ‘That’s Rights’ taught to me by an awesome Andy Dooley in Peru last March. So, life is good. Life can be exhausting. But life is also so very precious. My mom just passed. My oldest will be in college in 3 years. I need to garner perspective.  I spent all weekend with my boys. Soccer games, beach time, biking, pizza, snuggling with movies, library time. And now, I’m off to zen out with lovely yogis who make my soul smile. This isn’t how I envisioned my life to be 10 years ago. Not at all. But maybe, just maybe, it’s better than how I envisioned it. Maybe I’d never have written my 2nd novel? (My 1st was written pre-marriage in grad school.) Maybe I’d never know my strength? Maybe I’d never realize my worth. Maybe I’d still be feeling inadequate and trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Maybe I’d be hiding my spirituality and my intuitive gifts? Maybe I’d also never have found the courage to go through 4 yoga trainings and teach—after turning 40. Maybe I’d still feel tethered to the good-girl syndrome of trying to make everyone else happy? Hmmm…so many things have changed for the better haven’t they?

So maybe, just maybe, my authentic, conscious life is just beginning. Every Sunday F-Me Day, needs to be re-arranged in my mind as Sunday Fantastic Me Day. ha ha.

Thanks for reading! And if you can relate to my life, promise me you’ll do one thing for yourself today. You deserve it.❤

With Love & Gratitude ~

Laura x  

 

 

What my mother told me after she died.

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That title may alarm some people. But the fact is, our loved ones communicate with us all the time after they die. It’s as simple as one thought away. And it’s the most beautiful aspect of grief and death. So many people are distracted and numb and out of alignment so the idea of magic and eternal love and light isn’t a reality in their every day life. Yet it is. They are just not aware of it. When someone you love dearly dies, for weeks afterwards, you can feel them, dream about them, sometimes even hear their voice. It’s remarkable and it brings so much hope to those who have forgotten that there is life after death. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. But life drones on. Responsibilities, work, routines can keep us from day dreaming, noticing beauty, magic. Hurts and regrets and pain can compound our vibration so that our hearts are heavy and we can barely muster hope when we see a beautiful sunset. We become out of sync with our divine selves. We are out of the frequency to hear or see the messages our loved ones send us.

When someone dies, however, we are forced to stop everything. We stop our daily routine. We stop work. We focus. We remember. We pray. We become grateful for what this person gave to us. We open up to the magic of life. And in this grateful, open, vulnerable state, we notice, or hear the messages. That is the gift when someone dies.

My mother died May 20th of this year. I flew to North Carolina on the 21st and on the 22nd (a dear friend will love that number, you know who you are!) I saw this double rainbow forming over the highway. I was driving with one of my sisters two hours to her house as she had the best picture of my mother that we all decided must be enlarged and placed at the entrance of her memorial service. So, we drove the two hours to my sister’s house. As we were driving the two hours back to Chapel Hill, this amazing rainbow started forming. Another formed on top. I took a video of it that I can’t upload for some reason…But right after I videoed the rainbow and was still watching it form, my dad called. I am not close with my dad. Well, that’s an understatement. I have forgiven him for the many disrespectful choices and things he did to my mother. I’ve forgiven him for things I still can’t mention, toward me and to my oldest sister, but I keep a boundary up for my own health. Yet I could feel my mother present with us and I could feel her forgiveness. I could feel her urging me and so I answered my sister’s phone and I spoke kindly to my father and even agreed to pick him up from the airport and take him to his hotel. He wanted to come to my mom’s funeral. He likely doesn’t even remember half of what happened during our childhood or even forgot some events with mom later—that’s what is so puzzling and hurtful and insane about alcoholism, and whatever else came into play. But I decided to let it go. He is old. He was sad. And clearly, my mother forgave him years ago.

On May 25th, the day of my mother’s funeral, the minister surprised the family by asking everyone to sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Us four siblings had put together the program and we all agreed upon speaking. I was the one who spoke about the power of music, as my mom played piano  by ear and communicated through music. I even provided her top song list as I kept it after we moved her into an Alzheimer’s facility. Somewhere Over the Rainbow wasn’t on it, nor was it mentioned. Perhaps one of my sisters suddenly asked the minister to add this? I don’t know. But my oldest sister and I began crying as we remembered the rainbow forming in the car just a few days earlier. It wasn’t a coincidence. Mom was telling us everything would be ok. Listen to the lyrics. My two sisters aren’t physically well. They both have autoimmune disorders and serious stress and I wish so much I could take away their pain. My big brother even admitted to losing his faith in God after my mom developed early-onset Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t fair. She was a social worker with a huge, kind heart, and helped so many without ever asking for anything in return. He felt it was cruel. It was hard on him to see her, and he lived so close to her facility. It was hard on all of us to lose her. My mom was sending us all a message of hope. To not harden or become cynical in life. To stay aware of the magic that is subtle, but always there.

That evening, as I was coming home to my brother’s house, after walking around with my childhood best friend, we saw this little lime green frog on my brother’s door.

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Frogs like this just don’t appear on doors in North Carolina. I know a lot about frogs. As a little girl I collected them. In fact, I would sit by a pond in the woods surrounding the horse trails and watch for hours waiting for the tadpoles to finally leap out of the water onto the Earth as precious little frogs. I’d put them in containers and take care of them until they were big enough (or so I thought) to ward off predators. Some kids had imaginary friends, I had friend frogs. Neighbors would capture rare red ones or orange ones and bring them to me for my collection. Yup, I was that kind of kid. To this day, my siblings still buy me frog paraphernalia for birthday or Christmas gifts. So to see this frog on the evening of my mom’s funeral was just a little reminder that I was loved, watched after, and was special. I was teased a lot as a child for being stupid. Not by my mom, but by my dad and siblings. I barely spoke until I was 11 and daydreamed constantly. I guess you could say I have always been partly in another dimension or watching for what was happening underneath the surface. I could sit outside watching birds fight for territory for hours. I would get mesmerized by the way light sparkles on dust particles. Listening to the wind through the pines I’d imagine someone whispering to me. Inside the house, I sometimes wrote invisible words or names on the ceiling and imagined them dancing or fighting over me. When sitting at the table for dinner, I paid attention to how words were spoken and whether a person’s eyes were sad or angry, or whether arms were crossed—and often didn’t hear or listen to what was actually being said.

Mom was telling me that was my gift. That’s why I can still hear her. For weeks she’s come to me in my dreams. I see her in her garden. I see her playing her piano. Talking with me about boys in her blue kitchen. One dream was funny, with her and her friends laughing over her fridge magnet of Nixon with the words: “Thank God he kept our boys out of Northern Ireland.” She was suggesting a similar one about Trump. It was funny. She was engaging. I loved talking politics with her. When I became a journalist, I had ground my day dreaming wire, but I still watched body language, especially when covering murder trials or interviewing politicians. I’m glad I’m not in that world anymore, but I remember how much fun it was to talk with my mom about it all.

My dreams showed me her quirky side before her mind was ravaged by Alzheimer’s or before she was stressed and heart broken. And I could feel that she’s returned to her quirky, beautiful, poetic, funny, musical self.

Over the past two months, through signs and messages and songs and dreams, these are the things she has told me:

There is no way to sum up the entire life of another person with a quick comment, so don’t read gossip crappy news or watch any of it. Don’t participate in judgmental gossip.

Strive to be happy now, with your life exactly as it is.

Forgive everyone. We have to let go of our judgements against others based on one or two things that they may have done. That doesn’t mean we become door mats and let in every person who hurts us over and over again—but let go of resentment.

You are enough, exactly as you are.

You are special.

You don’t need to prove yourself to anyone.

Those who hurt us the most are expressing their own internal pain. They are bleeding inside from issues and scars we may know nothing about it. So ignore whatever hurtful words they say to you.

Follow your heart.

Get out in nature every day if possible.

Don’t Let In anyone go who is negative or who stirs up drama in any way.

Have fun. Be silly. Laugh more. Let the dishes stay in the sink every now and then.

Don’t try to fit in. Be nice and polite when needed, but show your true feelings whenever you can.

Take risks. True love exists for every person at any age.

Stay true to yourself.

Take care of yourself: your body is your temple.

You are deserving—remember that, but don’t forget to give back.

Be grateful.

Be humble.

Own up to your mistakes, but don’t punish yourself for them.

If you’re ever on an ego trip, pause and give to someone else.

If you give too much of yourself or try to control others, step back and allow others the dignity to make their own mistakes and choices.

Trust your gut, not your ego.

Don’t worry so much about pleasing others. Please yourself and be yourself and those who float into your life will be divinely orchestrated to be with you.

~ Thanks for reading this long post! My wish is that it brings a little ray of hope into your day.

Make it a beautiful one.

Laura XO

 

He Left You, Don’t Abandon You, Too

 

This post is for the single mom who wrote to me privately after reading my post Being Worth The Effort. Our dialogue broke my heart. When you wrote: “I’ll never feel worthy of a man’s love,” I could tell that your mind was made up. There was nothing I could say to reach into that depth of pain and change your mind. Platitudes don’t work.

The pain that a woman feels after being cheated on and abandoned with little children to take care of is unbearable. It sinks deep into your bones. And it’s very hard to come out from this feeling positive and trusting and hopeful—or worthy of a good life. But it is possible. And you’re on the right track. I know because you are feeling it. The women who run from it, point fingers, blame, drink a lot, date a lot, are masking the pain. And there’s no shame. We all do what we can to survive. You are going to get through this.

I don’t have all the answers. I know what worked, and didn’t work,  for me. And I want to share this as the club we are in, the full-time single mom’s club, is one that no one should comment on unless they have membership. To say our lives are hard, is an understatement. To say our lives have more meaning than most is also an understatement. To that end, I focus. I am the rock for my kids. I, like you, am the one who cooks, cleans, shuffles back and forth to school & practices and who has very little social life because of a lack of support. We are the ones going solo to games, celebrations, helping with homework, staying up all night when they are sick. We have no weekends off, unless there is help from family. Sometimes family isn’t always uplifting help either. We are bombarded with guilt and exhaustion and loneliness.

But please promise me that you will never, EVER, say you are not worthy of a man’s love again. What your husband said to you as he was leaving shows his level of consciousness. Shame on him. Don’t let what he did—or what he said to justify what he did—eat away at your soul. It’s easier said then done. I know. This is also a club whose membership is one that few want admittance to. But it’s our journey. And when you come out on the other side, I hope you’ll feel as lucky and as hopeful as I do today.

With that said, I know how painful it is, especially with really little children. I get it. You are tired. You are lonely. But you are also so very special and strong. Your children love you endlessly. They are safe because of you. They see the world with love and peace because of you. Their father, if he shows back up in any way, will still be the one who gave them up, who left, who put another woman or selfish needs above them. YOU, are showing them that they are more important than anything in this Universe. Is there anything more precious than that?

Intellectually you get that, I know. But when you’re in the trenches and exhausted and sleep deprived, it’s hard for the message to sink in. Just keep going. Your children are babies. It’s hard to garner a really good perspective when feeling alone, abandoned and exhausted. I so remember those days. I don’t like to think about them anymore. But I will share them for YOU. I will share them because 7 years ago I was where you are now and am in such a better place today. I, too, had nights when I was up and down with a baby alone. I recall sobbing into my pillow while breastfeeding and praying my older child wouldn’t hear. I had no idea how I would make it. Who to trust. When my ex left he said horrible things to me, like I wasn’t enough. When he left, we had an 8 month old and a devastated 7 year old. The things he called me to justify what he did, aren’t suitable for this forum. But they ate at my soul. Between exhaustion, depression and little sleep, after a year, I nearly broke down. I began having panic attacks. I fell down on a city street with the baby in a bjorn. No one helped me up. I remember seeing stars on the walk home and thinking how badly I wanted to call my mom, then riddled with Alzheimer’s. I had never felt more alone. I didn’t want to ask for help or tell anyone, because I feared it would sound like I was having a pity party.

When I went back to work, my baby, now 2, kept getting sick, three emergency room visits within a year. (I found out later it was due to toxic mold in our house.) I was at my wits end. I was up all night. My first boyfriend post separation was jealous of my time with the kids and with work and the pressure nearly killed me. He urged me to quit my job due to my stress and health, but was overly involved and threatening about it, suggesting he might even cheat from lack of seeing me. It triggered my need not to let things fall apart. The needless guilt I carried over for not ‘being enough’ for my husband was projected onto this man unconsciously, and I put him first and resigned from a job. I wasn’t stable due to the lack of sleep and from not taking enough time to heal before I started dating. I lost friends because of it. I apologized, but the damage was done. In the end, people who haven’t experienced this sort of trauma, and it is a kind of trauma, just can’t understand. Keep your head up and don’t try to make people understand. Here is a list of things that I feel strongly about, that helped me. Hopefully these will help you on this journey too:

  • Fake it till you make it.
  • Tell yourself your life is great when you wake up. Seriously, do it. “Thank you for an amazing life. Thank you for another day. Thank you for my babies. Thank you for this bed, this apartment”…these are what I used to say.
  • Smile every time you leave your house. Make it look easy until you start to feel like it is easy. People will wonder what your secret is. Let them. Don’t let them know you cried yourself to sleep. Don’t be ashamed of it, but just know you are moving forward. Smile like a Cheshire cat with a secret, because you DO have one. Your life is going to be great and on your terms, very soon.
  • Trust in the Universe. I know, it’s hard, but try it anyway.You have a journey and an important reason for being here. You are divine, eternal. Trust you will be OK.
  • Be patient with your kids and remember they are gifts from God. Count to 10 if they tantrum. Mine had colic. Put him in a swing or crib and take 10 deep breaths before coming back. This, too, shall pass.
  • Tell your children they are special. Tell them you love them, every, damn day.
  • Tell people how wonderful your children are, even on days when they have tantrums.
  • Write in a journal the funny things they do or say so you can give them to them when they are older.
  • Take a lot of pictures of the kids smiling, of you and the kids smiling.
  • Every time you smile, remember your smile is an awesome achievement! Your ex can’t take away your right to be happy. Wear your smile proudly.
  • Write in a gratitude journal every night, even if you only write: ‘I am grateful I ate dinner.’ It’ll snowball until you are bursting with gratitude.
  • Find a way to exercise and get out of your head. Even if you take the stairs at work, or buy an exercise video and do it in the morning or night. Maybe put the little ones in a stroller and run in the morning. Find a way to get endorphins flowing.
  • Swap babysitting with a friend.
  • Join a library and join a free reading group for the kids or for you! If they have a career group with your library, or speakers go, it’s free!
  • Start exploring every thing you liked to do before you had kids. Make a list and a dream board.
  •  Join a Meetup group for meditation or hiking or picnics with other single parents.
  • Join support groups, but limit your time in ones where parents are bashing their exes or wallowing in their stories without figuring out ways to improve their lives. You’ll get lost in their stories and their fear may linger into your day.
  • Don’t bash your ex EVER in front of the kids.
  • Avoid going out with friends who drink too much or talk smack about their exes in front of your kids.
  • Begin your own traditions. Kids love them.
  • Be super selective when you start to date. Avoid men who insinuate your children are in the way. Break it off with anyone who belittles you or drinks and is obnoxious in front of your children. Your children will ONLY see people being respectful to you from now on.
  • Find a spiritual practice. Whether it is  yoga (I know that’s expensive, but check out cheap online yoga or DVDs!), church, meditation, a positive therapy support group, etc. Find a way to surround yourself with messaging that you are enough.
  • Don’t tell your story to everyone. Many people won’t understand or will freak out about it. It’s human nature to want to point fingers, to find reasons to explain something. She must have done something. Or she wasn’t a good wife, etc. because then it assures them that they will never have to go through anything similar. I tried to talk with a friend who asked about my situation and she kept saying things like, “You must have had a clue you were in a bad marriage” or “There must have been signs that he wasn’t happy.” That conversation poured salt into my wounds and no, I hadn’t a clue and we were happier than most of our married friends. Go figure. So, be very careful who you talk with as the ‘talk’ may end up making you miserable. You don’t need it.
  • Remember, sometimes shit happens and it’s not a reflection on you. YOU are NOT to blame for your husband’s infidelity. AT ALL.You are both on your own journeys. You are worthy of love and of having a faithful husband. We can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond to them. Remind yourself of this during the divorce process as it gets worse sometimes before it gets better.
  • Get a weekly game plan. By Sunday you will be so exhausted you might cry when watching cartoons. How can you get a break? Is there a daycare at a church? Even if you sleep while they are in daycare an hour, it’s worth it! Do you have a supportive bff who could watch the kids for an hour while you sleep?
  • As you start to heal and find moments of happiness, strength and health, don’t get discouraged if some of your friends aren’t supportive or happy for you. It reflects their consciousness, fears or that they are stuck in the victim role. Some want to be miserable with others. Some want to have complaining buddies. Don’t go there. Just drift and say a prayer or light a candle for them. We ALL deserve to be happy, healthy and at peace.
  • Post the word RESPECT in all caps on your bathroom mirror. You have been through a lot. Respect yourself. Not many can do what you do with as much grace and love. I’ve seen CEOs & olympic athletes fall apart when their kids have tantrums. What you do is HARD.
  • It will get better. Life will become easier. Believe that.
  • The love and patience you show your children, will come back to you.
  • Your children will never, ever forget what you do for them. They are worth it and you are worth it.
  • No man will ever bring you happiness and a feeling of worth. Not completely. And That’s OK. Be happy anyway.
  • Breathe deeply every day and know you are getting closer to your best life, your best self.

 

 

With much Love & RESPECT,

Laura xo

Locked & Loaded in Need of Reform

kid-reaching-for-gun

This independence day had me questioning, once again, whether we are truly better off as a nation since garnering independence from Britain. I’ve lived in England, and as a parent, must say how refreshing it was not to have to worry about guns. There was no need to call parents before play-dates and ask if the guns were locked in a safe. (My fellow southern moms know what that’s like.) And there was no worry that schools will get shut down as an armed teenage gunman seeks bloody vengeance. Living through a school shooting as a teen has given me an appreciation for just how insane our country is to allow easy access to guns for mentally unstable teens or adults for that matter.

So who is to blame when parents allow children access to loaded guns? And, at what point should our government get involved? Do we lock up parents who don’t lock up their guns? Do we give jail time to the parent who takes a child to shooting range when someone is killed? Do we need better legislation such as age restrictions at shooting ranges?

Yesterday I cried while reading this story about a Florida father who accidentally killed his 14-year-old son at a shooting range. After the video within this story, I saw another video about a child who never got over accidentally killing his baby sister when playing with his father’s loaded gun. Can you imagine? And then there is the horrific story of a nine-year-old girl who accidentally shot and killed her gun instructor with an uzi while taking lessons at a gun range. Nicole Flatow’s article  The Tragic Insanity of Gun Ranges points out that there are no age restrictions at gun ranges and, sadly, no checks are in place to rent guns at ranges. WTF?

“They don’t have to pass a criminal background check. There’s no check of their mental health records, although some require individuals to attest to their mental competence. Many gun ranges don’t even collect names or identification. And that’s not even the worst part,” Flatow reported.

Because gun renters aren’t “in possession” of the fire arms, they are only renting them, no background checks are legally required or allowed. Which explains why one mentally unstable mom in Florida shot her son and herself at a range in 2009.

No charges were filed in any of the deaths that I described. Maybe we should reconsider this? Should it be legal, for instance, to give a nine-year-old an uzi? Is it legal to allow children access to loaded guns within the house? If a death occurs, shouldn’t the parent, the person the gun is licensed to, carry some blame, almost like an accomplice? Shouldn’t their gun license, in the very least, be revoked and some jail time or public service be demanded? Just how are we trying to stop these events from continuing?

Seriously, how many accidental shootings do we need to hear about before making viable gun legislation? Is the NRA that powerful? Surely no one would argue that the 2nd amendment was created to give irresponsible parents the right to give children and teens access to loaded guns? I think not. And should children be allowed to go into shooting ranges? Do they really need to know how to shoot uzis or automatic riffles? For peat sake.

I am sick to death of gun deaths. Over July 4th weekend, shootings occurred in every state, with at least 64 shootings and 10 deaths in Chicago alone.

I found this site called Gun Violence Archive, a non profit organization providing public information about gun violence in America. As of June 18th, there has been nearly 27,000 ‘incidents’. Out of that, 1,500 teens have been killed, 302 children and 1,143 ‘accidental’ shootings. There have been nearly 7,000 deaths by guns and more than 14,324 injuries by shootings. And it’s only July. As the heat soars, experts say shootings increase.  According to TheTrace.org in the summer of 2015, 4,080 people were killed by guns, and more than 9,000 Americans were wounded in shootings. The article Just Another Bloody Summer is eye-opening. Sadly, MomsRising.org calculated that 2,500 children die each year in America from gun shootings.

 

I’m tired of it. I’m almost ready to go back to England. Moms out there, does it bother you too? Are you as disgusted as I am? Most of us moms aren’t hunters or as big of gun enthusiasts as our men out there, but we can vote. We can pressure congress for gun legislation. MomsRising.org is a group vying for rights for families and is behind gun legislation reform. Go to their GunSafety Page to sign up and join their petitions to congress to create affective gun safety laws, such as criminal background checks for all gun purchases.

Lets, for once, put children first in #merica. Do you agree?

Sick and tired today,

Laura

 

 

 

 

Wives Who Refuse to Work: Strikes Chord

holding finger

This morning I woke up to read a post by the always insightful Lisa Belkin, whom I’ve been following for at least 15 years. Today she asked her followers on social media for thoughts about this Letter published in The Guardian newspaper entitled: A Letter to My Wife, Who Won’t Get a Job, While I Work Myself To Death.

 

As I read the letter, and the many comments and harsh judgements in response, I started wondering what else was going on in this couple’s relationship. There is undoubtedly more to the story than meets the eye.And isn’t that always the case when only one side is presented? Didn’t he mention that she did work part-time at one point but it didn’t pay well? But for arguments sake, lets just imagine that this man’s letter is truthful and reveals the whole story.

 

Wow, as a former parenting & pregnancy editor, and a careers writer for years—and a single mom, this letter struck a chord. And, apparently, it did with many other women as well. Remember all the trends in parenting over the past decade? There’s been the Lean In argument verses the Opt Out one. Lisa Belkin actually coined the Opt Out term, referring to educated women who stop working. Here’s a Pew Research Study that confirms 10 % of all educated women in America permanently opt out of the workforce.

Women are their worst enemies it seems. We can publicly shame others and find fault in just about anything a mom does or doesn’t do. Opt out and homeschool? You are ignorant, fearful and financially irresponsible. Work long hours as a partner in a law firm? You must be selfish, materialistic and risking your kids’ health and well-being. Remember the backlash on Tiger Parenting? (Time Magazine wrote a piece about the real effects of Tiger Moms on their children. Go Here to read it.)

Women criticize each other on just about everything—where as men seem to shrug things off more with a Live and Let Live attitude. Maybe a man disapproves of another man’s choice to stay home with his kids for a few years while his wife works, but rarely does that man get angry and write a scathing letter or op-ed to The Wall Street Journal or New York Times bludgeoning that man’s choice. Women, however, are different. We seem to want to make others’ choices wrong so we can feel better about our own—a sign that we are too caught up in worrying about what others think? At least, that’s how it seems to me. Or, we want to justify what we choose, like Opting Out of the workforce for a few years, so that others can see our point of view and still approve of us. But at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what you and your partner feel good about. If a person decides to spend more time with his/her kiddos, that’s his/her choice. And if a woman opts out, the husband had to have been on board with it at some point.

So when does that point end? My question for the author of that letter is at what point did your wife ‘not working’ become a massive bourdon filling you with anger, resentment and seething indignation? And did you relay this information to her clearly and honestly? This letter feels like a justification for leaving her.

I strongly feel that couples often don’t communicate strongly enough and clearly enough about their agreements. If they did, they could each adjust and change and move forward. But sometimes, they don’t want to adjust, change and move forward. They want an exit strategy. I would guess that even if this woman got a job tomorrow, her husband’s resentment wouldn’t vanish and they may split anyway. There are other matters at work if the two couldn’t talk about this issue before and start working toward a solution.

I can relate to what this husband is relaying, however, because I slightly lived through it. I never opted out entirely from the workforce, but I didn’t live up to my husband’s changing standards. I’ll explain. After our baby was born, my husband and I decided that I’d stay a freelancer, rather than enter the full-time workforce, until our child entered kindergarten. My husband was on board with this agreement, until he wasn’t. And that was discovered via stressed out comments and me over-hearing what he said to male friends whose wives worked full-time. It was a harsh wake up call to me that our agreement didn’t matter and somehow I was the last to know.

Here’s how our agreement (to let me freelance verses full-time work) began. I was offered a full-time journalism teaching position at Loyola Marymount University when my oldest was 9 months old. I panicked. Yes, it was a cool gig and I’d edit the student newspaper and all other publications while teaching students and mentoring the student writers at the paper. And then suddenly it seemed like an awful lot of work for very little pay. Day care cost more than what I’d earn. So, we decided as a couple, that I’d turn the position down and just continue to freelance as an editor and writer until our baby was in kindergarten. It would also allow us to be mobile—a good thing since we moved to Atlanta and to London within a two year time frame and my clients went with me.

I thought, as a wife who continued to freelance and keep her career track stable, while also doing the lion share of parenting, allowing my hubs to work long hours and move up in his field, that I was a very good egg. But clearly I wasn’t in his eyes, even though he rarely told me. Again, I overheard things or would get snide comments.

Thank God kindergarten started one year earlier in England than in the US, as my husband was clearly “over” our agreement and on a campaign to change me. I’m such a smart person, shouldn’t I be doing something other than writing so I can actually earn more money? He was over my profession in general. I was editing books on contract and writing for magazines that didn’t pay terribly well, but was also able to spend more time with our three-year-old, allowing my husband to travel, work long hours and rise within his company and attract eyes of recruiters. I thought I was pitching in. But he was stressed out. Yes we moved for his job. Yes, he wanted to live in London. Yes, I was the only expatriate wife that I knew in our circle of friends who was able to work part-time. Still, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Once I took a full-time editor job, it was like a huge audible sigh was released within our marriage. The pressure was off of him completely. The job paid well and I could work from home, so I oversaw the part-time nanny, was still able to go to parent-teacher conferences or school plays and could still manage our household—allowing husband to continue work travel and his long hours. We could save more, vacation more and just breathe.

Why am I sharing this personal tidbit? Because I think couples often get stuck in a rut of holding tightly to past agreements. I wanted to sternly hold on to the understanding that I’d go back to full time work once my son was in kindergarten. It was rational. It made sense. But living in London and all it’s massive expense, was triggering fear in my husband. The agreement needed to be re-thought out. And it was. But there was another side to this story too. I WAS working and doing most of the parenting, allowing the husband to be able to do whatever it took to rise in his field. I wonder what the real story is in this letter? Did this woman work part-time but didn’t want to be a partner because of the hours and because her husband wasn’t around? Perhaps he needed to work extremely long hours to make partner and she wanted that for him? And besides, when kids were small,  she’d still have to do the majority of the parenting, cooking, help with homework, carpooling, etc.? Maybe now she is planning on working now that the kiddos are off to college?

This couple has let so many years go by that likely the husband has bottled up his anger and it’s now overflowing. She likely may feel entitled and mis-understood and not appreciated. Raising kids isn’t easy work. Maybe she manages all their finances and cooks, cleans and manages all the family vacations and family communications. (Why is it that women tend to send out all the holiday cards, plan all the birthday parties, for instance? Is it demanded within our XX chromosome? I hate that.)

What are your thoughts? Some followers of Lisa Belkin wrote in scathingly to the wife of this letter—even calling her stupid. In their eyes, she was stupid for putting her marriage at risk, for not being a good role model for her children, for not contributing financially, and more importantly, for not keeping her career on track in case her husband died or left her “for a younger model.”

Ouch. How much fear is in all of those statements??

 

I instinctively feel that it’s always important for a woman to work, even if just part-time or freelance in order to stay in the game. It’s good for the pocketbook, it’s good for the self esteem and it provides intellectual stimulation away from the family dynamic. But, my view, by no means, is a harsh judgement against my fellow stay-at-home moms. Some women feel that their husbands would have NO way to move up in their fields if their wives didn’t do all the childrearing.  We live in a country that allows freedom of choice and we are all on own journey of self discovery. She was married to an attorney. Maybe his hours were brutal? Maybe she thought it was the best for their family and he agreed and couldn’t bring himself to say differently until he was DONE. Maybe he has his eye on a young female attorney and just wants an exit clause? Who knows.

Thoughts? Is it okay in this day and age for a well-educated woman to stay home until her kids enter college? Does a husband need his wife to earn money in order to “feel loved?” And, if so, to flip that coin, a wife must need a partner to help with raising the kids and household tasks to “feel loved.” Hmmm….I’m suddenly feeling better about not being married anymore. Sigh. Doing all the work without expectations of help, or without resentment or feelings of unworthiness due to this drama, is actually a relief.

Feel the same? Feel different?

Chime in!

Always grateful to those of you who read my musings!

Laura

Being Worth the Effort

makineffort

WORTH.

It’s a loaded word. And people write A LOT about it. Here are some quotes swirling around social media these days:

“When you know your worth, you’ll stop giving people discounts.”

“The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”

“Your Value Doesn’t Decrease Based on Someone’s Inability to See Your Worth.” (My favorite.)

“Never force yourself to have a space in anyone’s life. If they know your worth, they will surely create one for you.”

“Know your worth. It makes no sense to be second in someone’s life when you can be first in someone else’s.”

“Make sure you don’t start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don’t value you. Know your worth, even if they don’t.”

###

Ok, here’s what I think about all of this short tough love worth advice:

Knowing intellectually that you are worthy of love and deserving of being treated respectfully is one thing. It’s on an intellectual level. But truly feeling your worth on a cellular level—and living your life based on that deep knowing—is a different matter entirely.

Think about it.

There are a lot of factors in why we allow others to treat us badly. Some have been abused as children or watched neglect or abuse between their parents and on some subconscious level, don’t feel worthy of anything different. I’ve known wonderful, extremely talented and kind people who say they want to be treated well, but keep taking back neglectful, hurtful, toxic, or abusive boyfriends or spouses or girlfriends.

Some in this world appear to have enslaved themselves within dead or abusive marriages, too. From the outside it’s hard to understand.

Having lived on both sides of the spectrum: the side that watched abuse and neglect as a child and who allowed neglect and abuse in my relationships—to the person who owns her worth, is on her own, and who will no longer tolerate the abuse, neglect drama cycle…I know compliance to ANY type of abuse: emotional, physical or psychological, boils down to deep-rooted fears.

Intellectually I’ve always felt worthy—even when I stayed with someone who belittled, neglected and disrespected me. Even when I was with someone who never accepted me for who I am and tried to change me, while comparing me to others. I still felt worthy. I’ve been with a few people like that. And shame on me. Intellectually I knew I deserved better.But maybe this type of behavior ebbed and flowed? Maybe it was what I knew—what I grew up with. What I was comfortable living within the parameters of. EVEN though I would never, ever admit it. And, with girlfriends, would complain and always say I deserved better, bla bla. Perhaps I thought things would change? Perhaps I thought therapy, or my own inner work would make things different? Perhaps I bought into the other person’s viewpoint and tried to change until I no longer knew who I was? I mean, the love was there, right? Or was it? I was stuck in a drama rut. That’s what I now call it. And it’s insane. And it’s disrespectful to both parties as it always spirals into a destructive dynamic based on unmet and dashed expectations, hurt feelings and perhaps depression or an inability to communicate. It’s soul crushing. But many of us live in the lows and the highs and get used to this turbulent and distracting ride. It distracts us from reaching our highest potential. It distracts us from truly living, loving, growing and having authentic relationships filled with gratitude, respect and open communication.

I imagine that 99.5% of us would agree with every quote that I listed above. We agree intellectually. But less than half of us likely take the steps necessary to get out of bad relationships until they are beyond destructive and our health and wellbeing is tanking.

It’s due to fears. The biggies? A fear that there will be no one else out there better for us. Or the fear that it’ll be too hard or impossible to survive financially solo. Or maybe the fear is about being too old to start over? Another biggie: the fear of judgement. What will  family and friends think? Oh, there are so many fears.

Knowing your worth, therefore, is intrinsically linked with trusting the Universe. More people would leave a person who belittled, abused, cheated  or neglected them—if they trusted that life would be OK after walking out the door. Fear is debilitating.

Think about it. If you trusted more and feared less, what would you still put up with? And if you’d decide to keep trying, how long would you put up with it? After one year of therapy wtihout any change? Two years? Would you finally settle back into the status quo?  

What if  your guardian angel whispered in your ear tonight that you would definitely win the $10 million lottery jackpot and lose 15 pounds this year, how would you feel? Would you change anything in your life right now? Think about it. Would you be more confident? Would you want to keep the current relationships you now have—exactly as they are? Would you wait to see if others were sincere and were willing to make an effort before letting them into your now valuable and desirable life?

Read those two paragraphs again. Maybe journal on it. It’s powerful.

What’s even more powerful, is if you lived ‘as if’ all of the above is true.

Because it is.

Your life is already valuable and desirable because it is yours. YOU, (and I) are valuable and desirable and deserving of love and deserving of others making an effort for. But maybe you need more proof before making any changes or standing up for yourself or your needs?

It takes a leap of faith—especially for those of us who weren’t validated as children or by spouses or who were raised to give and give and expect nothing in return. You are worth someone making an effort for. And you are worth making more of your own effort for … like taking a step in a positive direction.

It takes faith. It takes trust. It’s a powerful combination. Put together, they form a kind of mental pixie dust that starts to erode your fears, letting you take baby steps toward your best life.

Thanks for reading my musings.

Love & Light XO

 

 

 

Editor & Yoga Teacher: Like Peas & Carrots

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Photo by Chloe Moore Photography

I’m up for two editor jobs. Two really interesting editor jobs. And both can be done mostly from home. Amazing. I’ve gone through one round of interviews that were both positive. I put it out to the Universe that I’d begin work with a magazine or webzine full time by September if there wasn’t movement on my book getting published. Alimony ends Sept 1st. I have two boys to take care of full-time. And I’m a writer. It’s what I do—and have been doing as a journalist, blogger, editor, most of my life. I used to say that writing was how I communicate best. I’m not completely sure that’s entirely true anymore. It may be how I relay my thoughts, interviews, stories, figure out my viewpoint. But it isn’t a two-way conversation. It isn’t heart-felt, healing connection with others. Not like yoga. Which is why I plan to continue teaching at least 3 classes a week after I start my job. Maybe that sounds nuts to some who are thinking she’s a full-time single mom too! But I can’t imagine my life without these classes right now. Five years ago I would never have believed that I’d be writing this, but maybe I communicate authentically in a healing and very real and present way through my yoga classes.

All I know is that the past two years of teaching has taught me incredible things about myself. My life may even be more stressful on some levels, but I am less stressed, more confident, more grateful, more open to love, new experiences, and much more trusting of what comes. So  those that I help, are actually helping me. I learn so much from my yogi friends about what it truly means to be brave.

I teach therapeutic & restorative yoga and meditation at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Each class begins with a lot of pranayama so stress can be lowered and energies centered. Then I always ask what’s up. It’s a bit group therapy. Some have fallen. Some have lymphedema flareups. Some have other injuries related to hip or knee replacement surgeries, or the need for them. Others are going through the real pain and severe anxiety of caring for a dying spouse or family member. It manifests in severe headaches, spasms, major muscle cramps in the neck, back, shoulders, gut. I’ve devised flows that include modified yoga poses, balancing postures, T’ai Chi, visualization, acupressure holds, chakra alignment breathing… to help each issue. It’s part yoga, part physical therapy, part group therapy. The cool thing is that I keep learning. For instance, what I’ve learned about what the hamstring, IT band, iliopsoas & rhomboid muscles do to an aging, stressed out individual is just cruel. They work in tandem like rusted rubber band bullies gripping on the hips and back. And those who are swelling due to chemo and radiation from years ago, are still dealing with its feisty unpredictable, lymphedema flares. Finding a way to allow the lymph system to flow just gets me juiced. No pun intended. During one class, I watched the arm of a sweet yogi reduce its swelling size by half after we kept opening up the muscles of the sternum and collarbone and upper arm over and over like we were all doing synchronized swimming circles with deep breaths.

It’s transformative—and mostly for me. I see every week how important deep breathing, meditation, stretching, finding space to re-align body and attitude are. And while that may sound depressing to some—to work with this demographic instead of with the youthful in yoga studios—it is the exact opposite. I couldn’t find more inspiring, uplifting friends on the planet to hang out with 5 hours a week. Honestly. They are like family.

A dear yogi has been in the hospital for 25 days, staying by her husband’s bedside. Her husband had a quadruple bypass-and spine surgery. She finally took her first break and came to my Monday night class. I shared something that a yoga teacher told me in a class earlier that week: that tension is temporary, change is constant,  but bliss is possible. Ananda, bliss: a state we can achieve from deep breathing, stretching, re-aligning heart, body, muscles, soul—trusting the Universe with gratitude—is so attainable, even during stressful times. I received a text from her today saying that she told her husband and the nurses in the ICU, who then posted: “Tension is temporary, Change is constant, but Bliss is possible” on the nurses station wall. Wow, I love the ripple of the positive vibration!

See what I mean? My students teach me about the power of a positive attitude, the courage to take care of oneself, and the ability to reach out to others in a positive community for support. There is nothing like deep Ujjayi breathing for an hour to lower stress, cortisol levels, and boost serotonin release from the gut. Add a lavender oil temple massage during savasana, meditation, and we all leave class feeling blissful, grateful, cared-for, trusting, and just a little be happier than when we walked in. That vibration carries over and lifts others around us. All yoga does this. But for me, my regular hospital yogis, make me feel amazing. I’ve seen such a change in all of them for the past two years. Most had never done yoga before. The seniors clearly aren’t doing handstands or vinyasa power flow. But, like after any restorative class, they walk straighter and with more balance when they leave. They are in better alignment. And they all seem to be dealing with their anxiety so much better. I love the love I feel when I walk into the rooms. It’s hard to describe. I love these people dearly. And every time I quote someone important about why we keep our hearts open, or why we focus on what’s working, or why we can start again with each breath, I’m reminding myself of these things too—usually at exactly the right moment. When we feel good—mind, body and spirit—it’s empowering. Yes brain-washed terrorists may still strike. Yes, a driver may cut you off. Yes, our loved ones die. We can’t control everything in life. But we can breathe deeply. We can force ourselves to stay vulnerable and to break through resistance, breath through our fears, make intentions and do so with loving supportive people who remind us, just by their presence, that there are more kind, considerate, caring people in this world, than there are nasty, vengeful, violent folk.

This is powerful. Positive thoughts are so much more powerful than negative or fearful ones. And they help us to be calmer, more present, caring and in tune with one another.

After I teach,  I go home, relieve the sitter and am a much better mom. And usually, on the nights I teach, I stay uplifted and grateful, even while I’m writing or working late into the night. I feel like the luckiest woman alive. And it all started with the sweet yoga teachers who kept reminding me six years ago to breathe deeply, know it’s all going to be ok, and to relax into and accept the space of NOW.

Have a beautiful day. Ironically, by my next post I may be back in the news full-time as an editor, but I’m advising you, just for a few days, to turn off daily news. Lets not focus on the tragedies we can’t control. Take deep breaths. Light a candle. Say a prayer if that helps you feel more at peace. If you can, put a drop of lavender oil into your hands, rub them, place your fingers on your temples and lightly make circles while thinking: Life is Good. All is Well. I am taken care of. I am So Blessed.

Be well,

Laura, xo