Meditation-hello, old friend…

You ever have moments in your life where you look around and in all the chaos, you realize that it’s all gonna be ok? Ok-I know in our current climate that seems a little daunting at the moment. Maybe the best you can hope for is to make it to five o’clock to get that glass of wine in your hand. 

Watching the news hasn’t made me feel that way much, lately but I started doing something again recently that I had gotten away from. I had forgotten how easy and how difficult it was and how much I needed it and missed it. Meditating. 

For those of you a little fearful of that word or believe it’s some hokey-pokey crap, I urge you to take a moment to open your mind. No, really-meditating will help you do that. 

I’m not the person to walk you through it or to explain what needs to happen for you to reach a place where you forget where you are and even who you are for a moment and why it can be so amazing. There are all sorts of guided meditations for that and books to help you understand the process. For me, it was a little more complicated…

As one who has a slight “type A” personality and whose brain is often like the programs you don’t close out on your phone and it makes it run slowly-I struggled to figure it out. I found my mind wandering thinking about to-do lists I had and when I’d think of something, I’d stop to write it down, afraid I’d forget it later(hello, pretty much every mom I know!). I soon realized I was meditating for no more than about thirty seconds at a time. I felt like I was failing before I even really got started. 

Once you begin to meditate, you grow to understand that we are constantly inundated with messages and images that keep our brain from processing the true intentions of our thoughts. When you try and quiet all of that or be absent of thought, you emphatically know how crazy all our brains have become. Trust me-the first time you try it, it’ll feel like minutes are hours. That’s how I felt anyway-don’t be judgin’! Sometimes for us to be aware of what we need to do for our bodies and mind, we have to be absent of thought for awhile. Free up some space to get to the good stuff! 

When I began meditating again, it woke me up to something I already knew I was doing-living without intention. Even when I first started again, it felt weird and forced and then I began to surrender to all the crap. That’s when the thing happened. It was like a giant friend showed up to tell me they had missed me and they got this and I didn’t have to be anything but in my own space for awhile. Wow-what a great feeling. To know that the only thing I needed for the minutes I was doing it was the breath in my lungs. That was it! So easy but yet so difficult. 

We’re taught if we’re not busy doing something, we haven’t been productive. We haven’t added value. Sometimes our lack of busyness is when the good stuff shows up. The quiet moments to think or to not think. To be in your space and not need anything except your own body to breathe. It’s pretty liberating. 

Once you learn to let go-you’ll notice something else starts to happen. Things start coming at you. Of course they are because your mind is open to accepting those things now! Ta-da-you’re now living with intention. 

Even the past year that has had moments of complete shit-when I have paid attention to how my body was responding to something sad or enraging, I learned to let it go a lot quicker. Holding onto it only poisons you. The world keeps going. Do I vent to my mom or girlfriends? Hell yeah, I do but then I come back and realize what I need to do to find that space where I can live intentionally. 

Some days are a struggle. I wouldn’t be human if they weren’t-but this year has given me so many gifts. I never thought I’d say that six months ago. New friends, new opportunities, new experiences with my family and when I get a little whack-a-doodle in my brain and it feels flooded and overwhelmed, I find that place where I know the only thing I have to be or do is in my own body and that feels safe. 

This period in history seems very chaotic and sometimes self-preservation is all you’ve got. How are you going to live? Take the time to get frustrated and scream that our Prez is leading from behind his phone in Twitter-land and then go find your safe place. Wherever that is. Go hang out with your mom and have a great conversation with her. Go play with your kids and play like a kid. Drink that glass of wine like those grapes died for you. They did. Drink that wine and savor it. 

I have a sign in my bathroom that says,”Wherever You Are, Be All There”. I’m going to keep working on that. Living and loving with purpose is our only saving grace in this crazy world spinning in space. If you stop long enough, you’ll realize what you’ve been missing…promise. 

Mother’s Day mantra in the time of Trump…

I’m not gonna sugar-coat this. My Mother’s Day stories are normally filled with Hallmark-induced nauseum about how much I love my kids or my mom and sister. While none of that has changed at all, I feel the need to talk about the necessity of women as a whole this year. 

As a child growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I had the emotional and physical benefit of watching women take anchor in a man’s world. We were moving up on the food chain. Enjoying benefits only afforded to the male population for years and years before. My mother was a strong, working woman navigating her way through a pervasive and often unforgiving field dominated by men. Her strength and tenacity encouraged me, as we were much alike but I had a difficult time appreciating the waters she had to swim through before reaching the other side. 

It wasn’t until this election cycle while we were watching the debate between Hilary and Trump that she responded to the “pussy-grabbing” comment with anger and out-loud, that she, too, had been sexually harassed at work. She also reminded me that few women she knew back then hadn’t been sexually harassed in the workplace. 

As I watched the healthcare debacle unfold last week, it made me realize that as a woman, in 2017, pretty much anything that can happen to us is a pre-existing condition.

Post-partum depression after helping to populate the earth? Pre-existing. Having a period? Pre-existing. C-section? Pre-existing. Get cancer and have to have your breasts removed? Pre-existing. Rape? Pre-existing.  Your brain isn’t working right? Pre-existing. Menopause? Pre-existing. You know what’s not pre-existing? Erectile dysfunction. Let that sink in for a moment. No, really. Say it-outloud and see how it feels as it comes out. 

To have a baby and possibly need a cesarean section is a pre-existing condition under the new healthcare plan but erectile dysfunction is not. Please dudes-don’t think I’m picking on you! I know it must be incredibly debilitating to not be able to get it up. I can’t imagine the sleepless nights you’ve had or anxiety surrounding it. I feel for you. I really do. Periods, cramps, childbirth, post-partum, infertility, pap-smears, mammograms, birth control and menopause-sheesh-we got nothin’ on erectile dysfunction!!! 

Yes-I’m being facicious because when you say those things out loud, it not only SOUNDS ridiculous-you realize how truly far we’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. So far, in fact, the Mad Hatter is beginning to look normal. Poor thing, though-if he presented with all of his syndromes in this day and age, he’d be a pre-existing condition, too. 

If as a society, we are measured by the success and health of our people, then what have we become? If we have decided as a nation, that we are no longer expected to care for our women, children, elderly or vets, then what is the standard with which we measure everything against? 

It should not only be a privilege but a right and responsibility to take care of one another. A nation only successfully functions when the sum total of its population decides their quality of life matters more than what its governing parts have allowed. Only then can we change the outcome, because this-this is unacceptable. 

Women are not a pre-existing condition. We are the connection to life. We are strong. We are beautiful. We are smart and funny and sarcastic and driven and we are bad-ass. We are NOT a pre-existing condition. We should not accept that our bodies have become a chess piece. A sound bite. Our health and our mental well-being are not a pre-existing condition. 

To my mom-thank you for teaching me that I matter and that I had the power all along. To my daughter-I hope I have shown you the way. To my girlfriends-I feel humbled to be in your company. 

Go out there and fight like a mother!

International Women’s Day and why it matters…

I know there are many who don’t understand the necessity of it. Or don’t care why. 

As I seek to grasp how we went from a sweet spot of feeling like, as women, we were on our way to the top; to feeling like we’re being kicked down a spiral staircase, slowly-I fail to wrap my head around any of it. 

It seems like just yesterday I was raising this little girl with pigtails, telling her she was strong and she could do anything she put her mind to. Now I watch her in college, hoping the boys attending don’t decide she’s nothing more than a pretty girl and try and hurt her. Or when she ventures out in the working world, her boss will find her worth equally as valuable as her male counterpart. These are the things I worry about now. 

It’s easy to say that “locker-room” talk was so casually dismissed in our presidential election. Or that female reporters are still mocked about their level of hotness. Our current commander-in-chief rates women on a scale of 1-10 or if he’d be willing to have sex with them, at all. This has become the norm. For our boys to hear. For our girls to hear. For the world to hear. 

But we’re the lucky ones. If you look at other places in the world, we are far better off. As of 1998, we only have 17.7 million women who were victims of an attempted sexual assault or completed rape. In other countries the numbers are much higher. That’s not including the staggering statistics of sex-trafficking. 

We’re the lucky ones? And if anyone dares to wonder why this year’s election struck a chord with so many-this is just a small fragment as to why. 

The years of women who have come before us to fight and work and protest that our bodies are not ravaged, that our minds are free to think and spirits aren’t broken by another-this is why it all matters. 

The numbers tell a small story but it can’t translate the nuisances of what grief feels like. The pain that comes from fighting for change. The struggles of fighting for something you know you might fail to gain. 

My mom was and is a strong woman. She always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. She reminded me there would be times I would fail, and fail miserably, I have-but she also taught me how to pick myself back up and keep going. She taught me to fight for those who couldn’t and to put up a fight when I knew I was doing the right thing. 

As women, we have often been taught to be ruled by shame. Shame of the fear of not doing enough or being enough. We’ve let shame rule our limitless possibilities, halting our own progress, at times. We can no longer allow that. Going back to the way things once were or accepting what is, isn’t the future we’re meant to have. 

Progress is a staggering course. It was never going to be easy but it will always be worth it. 

We have today as our day, but let us use our days with strength and courage to go forward with all the might in our hearts to continue the work that needs to be done. For our girls. For our boys. For all of us. 

On this International Women’s Day, I’d like to thank my mom who taught me that women are tough and sweet and sometimes a little scary when they get worked up about something they believe in. 

Let’s stay a little worked up, ladies…

The night owls…

I remember when I was little, my mom would say a thousand times,”go to sleep, Kelli”. My mind wandered aimlessly as the sounds from crickets outside or a creaking in the house kept me imagining what things were stirring. There I’d lay, in the dark, begging my mind to rest. Sometimes I’d think about the tomorrow or the weekend and soon I’d be drifting once again. 

Tonight I sit, listening to the slightest snore of my nearly thirteen-year old dog. She twitches every now and then and as I watch her, I’m jealous at the ease with which she slumbers. It’s funny to watch her nose twitch and I wonder what she dreams of. I’m jealous, too-wishing sleeping came that easily for me these days. 

I’ve read numerous stories of creative people finding their most inspiration in the quiet of the night. When nothing is moving. There’s no noise. The absence of sounds lends an invitation for creativity to dance in the mind. I use to think there was something wrong with me-that when everyone was sleeping, I’d dare to dream-only with my eyes open. 

Pain does the same thing. I keep hearing that I need to get more rest. I need to sleep. While I’m sure this is true, the quiet also helps to heal. It tells the soul that there is peace in the absence of chaos and if you listen, you can begin to hear your heart pumping like it’s suppose to. You can remember the way you once saw things. You can feel the spark begin to ignite again. 

Being alone doesn’t have to feel lonely. Nighttime doesn’t have to be scary. It can be the best moments of true awakening before you sleep. There’s something calming about watching the house sleep peacefully. 

My wandering thoughts I once felt frustrated by, are the very things that remind me of the beauty the night can bring. The quiet. The ability to fully think. The possibility of a night full of wonderful dreams and a new day to start all over again. 

This year has felt heavy. I’m embracing it. I think some really creative things come from unexpected conundrums and insomnia. Or that’s what all the great artists say, anyway…

Normally the titles of my blogs come easily to me. This time…I got nothin’. 

Sometimes when your entire world gets turned upside down, you have a severe absence of thought.  Your brain freezes. Your body becomes numb. Nothing prepares you for your life unraveling. The one you just had moments ago. 

Maybe it’s a bad dream? How do you do something about something you can’t really do anything about? How do you make the pain stop? You can’t, unfortunately. I’ve been down this road before and you have to just go right through it. 

There are moments when you are putting things back together, you feel strong. You feel powerful, in fact. “I can do this again”, you think. Then the pain comes in the form of a song or a moment you remember and it hits you like a train. It takes your breath away and you float between trying to move and trying to wake up from this thing that still feels unreal. 

The funny thing about grief is you figure out who your tribe really is. It’s easy in the good times to relish the laughter and dancing with your people. It’s not until the tidal wave hits and you are collapsed on the floor or in the bathtub and can’t move, that you realize who the rocks are that help build you back up. When you have to pack and start over. When you have to paint and you cry, sitting on a ladder because your nephew plays a song that absolutely breaks you but tells you, you are stronger than you know and you’ll be ok. When your girlfriends rally around you like warriors. When your mom and sister become the protectors of your heart daring anyone to invade. When your children wrap their arms around you and remind you that they are the reason you’ll be ok. 

I hadn’t read over my blog in a long time. Hearing my own words of things I’ve thought through the years and places I’ve been emotionally, reminded me we are all broken at times but my words comforted me. It was like visiting an old friend. Someone who knows me well or has observed my life and is here to tell me that,”it really will be ok.”

2016 was a year full of some of the best moments of my life and some of the worst. Like for many of you, though-it summoned me to a place in my heart and mind where I felt I had gotten a little off track. 

One thing I’ve learned this year is that you should never doubt or lose your convictions. Hold steady and true to them. They will keep you going in the darkest of times. Even when it means giving up something in your life that was once so big, nothing is worth sacrificing who you are. The people who love you will never ask that of you. They love you because of them. 

Life doesn’t always turn out like we imagined but sometimes it turns out even better. Right now, my mind feels like a giant storm but this too shall pass. It always does. 

I hope for all of you in 2017, you find the peace that you need. I pray that you share love and receive love and if you lose your way-have faith you will find it again. As corny and cliche as this sounds, the moments I have been the most lost are when I have found the greatest things in my life. 

Peace and love for the new year. Love to you all…

Long ways to go…

As a person who doesn’t watch football, I didn’t know about the controversy that transpired over the guy who wouldn’t stand for the National Anthem. 

I started seeing crazy ranting and people dousing his jersey in lighter fluid. Even after I heard what he had done, I still thought,”why is everyone so upset?  He’s making a statement about something he is passionate about.” Apparently, I’m not the norm in my frame of thinking. 

Before you go and assume I’m not patriotic-oh hell-go ahead and call me “unpatriotic”. I don’t care. I’m so tired of people being confused or misinformed or judgmental about what it means to be “patriotic”. 

Whether or not you agree with what he did, we have to ask ourselves a few things about the very notion of what makes us a “patriotic” people. 

If you look at the headlines lately, they’re washed over with football and basketball players and swimmers who have been charged with sexual assaults. Many getting a slap on the wrist by a school, organization or a judicial system based off of their status or financial ability to dismiss their wrong-doing. Last I checked, nobody burned a jersey over these things. 

We have The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution which talk about things like all men being created equal, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and freedom of speech. 

Again-you don’t have to like what he did or agree with it-but when as a society we burn a man’s jersey in protest(yes, you have the right to do so)because he decides to exercise his right to not participate for whatever reason, but we aren’t outraged by the men who play on professional teams who are sexually assaulting women and absolutely nothing happens to them? There is something broken here. Deeply. 

The Second Amendment gave us the right to bare arms. In the twenty first century, that right  also gave us an astronomical amount of blood shed from gun violence. It gave us mass shootings that kill children, teachers and police officers. 

Before you stop and say,”he’s being unpatriotic and should be fired and he’s not an American!”, ask yourselves what the Constitution actually says. Did he break a law? Did he physically hurt anyone? No. 

Yes, our veterans go to war defending our rights as citizens and like it or not-he exercised his right to one of those-without causing harm to another. He made a statement in a peaceful way. You don’t have to like it and you can even hate him for it but if what he did incites more anger in you than the amount of mass shootings we have or the amount of pro football players you pay money to watch who assault women who are never punished for it-then there might be something wrong with your patriotism for your country or the manner in which you express it. 

If we are more angered by this than a man who is running for president who is openly racist, homophobic and sexist and is suppose to be the pillar of what patriotism and being an American is-then there is something wrong with us. 

We have a Congress who has cut funds for our military vets numerous times while continuously sending them to war and we don’t get outraged? There isn’t anything more un-American I can think of. 

We have a long way to go…

Better days are coming…

Sometimes when I stop to write, I often times don’t know what it is I really want to say. Sometimes I have a need to just get my thoughts out and sometimes I’ve thought so much about it I can’t write fast enough. 

Ben just came out and asked what was on my mind. He laughed and I smiled. He knows I’ve had a lot on my mind. 

Sitting in the backyard with my coffee amongst the trees, I’m thinking in this moment how peaceful everything sounds. It’s a nice place to be. 

Over the last several months however, probably like many of you; I’ve been in a place of confusion-huddling between observing the good moments with my kids or friends enjoying summer and watching things unfold that seem impossible to fathom. 

The other night I was catching up on the speeches from the DNC. We had been in Florida that week and I promised myself I would focus on the beautiful turquoise water and the family I had in front of me instead of speeches that I knew I could always catch sound bites on when we got back. 

I already know where I fall on the political spectrum so I didn’t think it were necessary to hear what all the attendees had to say. I had watched most of the RNC. I wanted to have hope things weren’t as polarizing on the other side as I felt they were. 

Clients and friends kept telling me I needed to watch the whole thing. Both of my children sat with me and listened and Britt was even watching Obama’s speech for the second time. She warned me that I would probably cry and grabbed her chest and said,”I’m going to miss him when he goes”. 

I honestly love the fact that we live in a country where people are allowed and encouraged to have differing opinions. I even believe it’s what drives our innovativeness and tenacity to propel us to be one of the best places on earth. 

As I as sat there with my children intently listening, I realized though the words that touch their ears make an impact. A giant one. If racism and fear and bigotry is what they hear from a parent or teacher or friend or politician, it becomes entrenched in their brain. They grow up feeling and thinking those statements are true. They look to us for leadership and part of those lessons implore us to teach not just getting along with others, but embracing and learning from the differences we each have. 

Policy debates on healthcare or foreign policy should be debated. There is always room for improvement in the world. There should always be a dialogue happening on ways to better educate our children. Let those be spirited and thoughtful and progressive. 

This isn’t about what side is right or wrong. This presidential cycle has turned into so much more than that. It has turned into a lesson for our children in dealing with bullies. About turning away hate. About loving your neighbor. Not calling people names. Remembering that the pigment in our skin is the only difference in how our bodies are made. That we all have a place. We all have a voice. That violence is never the answer. 

No matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on, it is imperative that our children look to a leader that at the very least, has kindness, decency and respect for the citizens that will elect he or she. That they understand the magnitude of their words. The impact with which they deliver them carries weight. 

I know it does, because as we were finishing up Barack Obama’s speech, Ben said,”do you think I’d make a good President someday?” and Britt looked at me and said,”I finally get why this matters.”

Whatever they choose to do with their lives or whomever it is they vote for someday, I hope it is because they have listened and been thoughtful in their decisions. 

I hear so often people say their vote doesn’t count. Why do we not at least try? What are we teaching our children if we don’t at least try? If we teach them that caring enough to try is half the battle, don’t you think that will transfer to other areas of their lives? 

I know outward expressions of love, kindness and respect might seem too small to fix such large problems but it will help to slowly mend things. I know putting up walls only serves to separate us instead of learning to embrace, blend and celebrate each of us. 

Staring at the beautiful blue turquoise water in Destin, it reminded me how the ocean flows together. There is no separation. What one country puts into the water eventually shows up somewhere else. Pollution flows. Sea life travels and is affected by something someone else on the other side of the globe does. Everything we do has ramifications. 

As one of my clients put it who is eighty two said,”we better get it together and figure it out because this is not what my dad or husband both fought for when they went to war. Shame on us.” 

Yes ma’am. We can do better…

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