Sheltering Safe Alone

I am always late to the party. Cell phones, Facebook, almost every age and stage, I’m never the first one to arrive. In fact, when the quarantine began, I didn’t believe it was real. Friends in other states were very serious and concerned. Businesses and gyms closed down, people began self-quarantining and still I didn’t believe. It easily took me two weeks to understand and realize that not only was the shelter safe order real, it was happening.
And I was going to shelter alone.
As I listened to my friends complain about having their entire family at home and reading on-line about all the sourdough bread baking, I was hearing NPR and CBS This Morning reporting on the changes that were slowly and then quickly taking place.
I was stunned.
Wait.
I’m here by myself.
I’m completely happy with my own company.
But 24/7 for weeks on end?
Oh…I was going to end up not speaking to myself, I could just feel it.
Luckily, webinars began popping up. Many coaches and experts urged us to consider this quarantine a unique opportunity.
A fleeting chance to experience what it’s like to be with myself. To get to know myself, know and believe that I am whole and complete and I will be okay.
But 24/7 for weeks on end?
I wanted to learn the skills to get through this alone and continue speaking to myself. I wanted to talk to others that were also sheltering alone.
Lisa Bobyak founder and creator of Living Fully Balanced (livingfullybalanced.com) offered, (free) “Reclaiming Control in Times of Uncertainty” on a Saturday early into the quarantine. We met years ago when she spoke at a Coaches meeting in St. Louis and I interviewed her about clearing out space in our lives. Remaining in contact her words of wisdom over the years have brought many a smile and an AHA moment. She has a gentle touch, a way with words and her ideas are based in practical solutions about living a balanced life.
She began by quoting Steven Covey who suggests beginning with the end in mind. Lisa asked us to think about what we would be happy to have experienced…once the initial scare was behind us. “What do you want to say you are proud of?” I’m guessing ice cream for quarantine dinner might not be exactly what she was thinking- Still, I was hooked. An unexpected gift, she reminded us could offer an EASING of the expectations we have of ourselves to be constantly productive.
Action alleviates anxiety. Pausing and resetting, getting clear on what needed to happen: practically and emotionally: I thought what do I need? What’s going to make me feel my best?
Lisa suggested starting slow…by being accountable: do one thing in the next 24 hours. And her suggestion of meditation and relaxation techniques armed me with suggestions that made me feel better immediately.
A few days later I happened on life-coach Laurel Fuller-Clark’s (https://www.facebook.com/laurel.f.clark.7) webinar, “Living Alone While Sheltering in Place: How to Nurture and Nourish”. I was front and center. Laurel had great suggestions.
First, I needed to be gentle with myself and more compassionate with my friends who have the unique opportunity to shelter with partners and families. Like any experience we are living in our own shoes.
Even during a quarantine, I can create a happy, joyous life, remembering that I choose this journey (well, I didn’t choose to be quarantined) and listening to my heart. Be curious…what am I going to discover about myself during this time? The world is giving us permission to rediscover JOY.
Laurel suggested looking for small ways to be kind/share joy with other people. When walking outside: breathe and pay attention to nature-the sights and sounds; allow silence and hear what’s coming up in your mind. Celebrate my strength (I’m quarantining alone) and for all of us, grieve what we had planned…it’s okay to be sad that something didn’t turn out how we expected.
It took me a while to integrate and take action. I readily admit those first two weeks I slept in enjoying the free time. And then something changed. I was asked to continue part-time work therefore using my brain which helped me organize my days. I began walking every day, remembering Laurel’s words to only focus on nature, pocket my phone, to breathe and enjoy. Either by myself or with friends at a safe distance. I found on-line work-out classes; a group fitness instructor from my gym began offering daily classes on Facebook which encouraged timely sweating every day. Those first weeks were actually funny as I yoga-ed using headphones-I was constantly getting tangled up in the cords. Taking care of myself, I purchased $10 speakers. It changed how I worked out. Exercise has always structured my free-lance days clearing my head for work. I realized that the more I was taking care of myself physically, the more I was taking care of myself across the board.
Somehow, as I stumbled through my day, life began taking structure…and the days and I became more energetic.
A few weeks into the quarantine I said to my sister, “Let’s walk. Let’s watch a movie and order dinner.” She was all-in. Being with my sister always calms me down. She has a way of looking at life in a real way and pointing out how pie-in-the-sky my ideas are. And she calls me on the many crazy thoughts that haunt me. She’s one of my favorite people to be with. We began spending one afternoon a week walking the beautiful trail in her neighborhood, looking at neighborhoods that we might want to move into, ordering dinner (which I had not done before, she makes me brave in all sorts of ways) and watching movies. We laugh, talk and catch up.
These afternoons with Staci are the high-light of my week during this quarantine.
What I’m noticing, what I’m realizing is that I have the choice to manage my mindset, emotions and choices. Any situation can be a blessing or a curse. Though I still get overwhelmed, I try to remember to stop and breathe, reach out to others, talk myself down and remember I have to ability to control my attitude (chocolate helps).
I find sunshine, fun and adventure wherever I can. I love to hear the generous stories of people being kind and reaching out. I love the animal videos. I am being as proactive as I possibly can be. I love to learn and each day I’ve decided I will read or listen to a podcast-if I don’t get to it, I’m gentle with myself.
Envisioning the end of the quarantine, I hope that I have survived and thrived…knowing and understanding that I AM INCREIDBLY GRATEFUL FOR WHAT I HAVE. Each and every day. All of it. The tribe, the Warriors’, the ability to work part-time. My ability to stay home and stay healthy. The opportunity to continue creating a life of joy and happiness.
24/7 and I’m still speaking to myself. I’m gonna make it after all….

Curve Balls and My New Story

the woman i am today

The last week in December through me a few curve balls.
Not that I hadn’t had curve balls thrown before. I have. And I’ve survived. Always with a little help from my friends.
In one week, in the space actually of two days, three interesting balls lobbed my way.
First, after weeks of my car sometimes starting, sometimes not, I had dropped it at my favorite mechanic, Car Docs, knowing something was up. Hoping against hope each time I got in my car those last few weeks that my car would start!
That little car started in order for me to get it to Car Docs. It was one of the last times it would start. It was unfortunate; however, my 2009 Ford Escape Hybrid would start only one more time. Speaking with Ed at Car Docs, I had to have it towed to a Ford dealer so that the computer systems could be checked out. My insurance kicked in and the Escape was towed, with no promise of them looking at it until next week. My intuition told me this was probably it for the little car that I had loved and my kids learned to drive on.
This all happened when I was out of town! I was in Iowa organizing and talking almost the entire drive home. I frantically called car rentals and friends to figure out what I would do without a car for almost a week.
At some point I realized quite calmly, that it was very possible I might have to buy a new car.
The next curve ball thrown was a forgotten suitcase in Iowa. I had packed it, zipped it and left it where I was staying. I didn’t figure this out until we reached my house. There was nothing really in the suitcase except clothes, (including laundry that needed to be washed) and to my chagrin, my make-up and jewelry. I NEVER pack my make-up. I NEVER pack jewelry. I always carry it with me or have it on me. And yet this time, I packed it.
That evening, exhausted and worn out, worried about what I might have to do, I received a bullying email from you guessed it-the narcissist I divorced over 18 months ago. The email was the in the same tone that I had experienced in the later years of my marriage.-Threats, bullying and ridiculous claims.
HERE is where my story CHANGES. The original version of this included much more information that if you’ve read my previous blogs or know me, you understand. I do NOT have to once again go into any detail. I just don’t. You get it. We all get it. It’s no longer necessary to talk about this. Not for me.
My story is MY story. And I chose this life for a reason. I chose to be happy. To live a life filled with happiness, good work, purpose and vision. I GET TO DECIDE how to live my life; filling it with light surrounded by family, friends, fun and adventure. THIS is my decision. There was a reason this particular event happened when it did.
Because as I began to look forward to 2020 I was also preparing lessons for memoir classes. The question that continued to come up: What story do I want to tell? What is MY intention? How do I want to spend my time, energy and heart?
While encouraging us to “resolve to evolve”, Jennifer Cooper, yogi, reiterated this, “Faith is believing that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand on or that you will be taught to fly.” She asked us to think about what was weighing us down, what fears no longer serve us (did they ever?!) and what places or people we needed to cut the ties. I realized that taking care of problems immediately and NOT engaging does quite a bit for my mental health.
Yes, this might have been a curve ball, but I am ready. First to fly, second to shake off that which is weighing me down and to shoo away the fears. Thereby cutting ties to a story that NO LONGER REFLECTS WHO I AM.
Yes, this is part of my history; however, I am choosing to live in the NOW.
After a fun, lovely trip with my friend Jeff who simply witnessed most of this in his gentle kind way, he offered suggestions as I dealt with the car, assured me he would retrieve my suitcase and then made me dinner. Suggesting we go out for drinks, instead I asked, “Can we just go on a walk?” I asked. “I need the fresh air.”
I looked at this kind soul who was simply supporting me, making me laugh and making sure I was fed.
Heading out into the cold winter night I stopped and looked at him and burst into tears.
Much to his credit, he simply held me, let me cry (and it was NOT a Hallmark movie cry-it was big sobs, weeping, and snotty, entire body shaking crying). He let me cry it out. He continued to hug me and when I was ready we walked it off.
I talked and cried some more, “You cry when you’re frustrated, don’t you?” he asked.
Yes, and it takes a lot to frustrate me.
One by one, I worked the problem.
Enlisting another friend for help, I ended up at Lou Fusz where they offered to buy the car. Then we test drove a Buick Encore (hello, a Buick?!) and zoomed out of the parking lot. I looked at Jeff. “This is amazing”. Though I hadn’t planned on it, I ended up selling my car to the amazing people at Lou Fusz (thanks Mike, Scott, Nathan and the entire crew) and buying an Encore.
My friend Sandye texted me, “Time to move forward. I think it’s interesting your car during your marriage was an “escape” and today you bought an Encore”. Coincidence?
The suitcase would solve itself in time. I could buy more make up (mascara is necessary) and the jewelry would find its way back to me.
Curve balls? Okay. In this ball game, I’m having an encore. I’m choosing my story and those that I want in it. I am choosing how to spend my time, my energy and my heart and wow, does that FEEL GOOD.
That curve ball might fly…AND I CAN TOO. I’m gonna make it after all.

The Yoga Studio

IMG_3492 (2).JPG Yoga Room for blog
It’s Tuesday or Wednesday or Friday or Sunday and I’m in one of my very favorite places and spaces. The Yoga Studio at Lifetime Fitness. I hit that door and I know without a shadow of a doubt something is going to happen…change…I will find clarity or hear a message that I need to hear atthatexactmomentintime.
It happens all the time. In every single yoga class I attend.
Just when I least expect it, the instructor says something amazing that I could have heard a million times before and yet, this time it sinks into my cells. Into my brain. Into my heart. And I never know when it’s going to happen. But it does. Constantly and continuously.
Breathing easier in the yoga studio is a truth for me. I can be turned upside down, challenging myself in a tripod pose or simply flowing and I know I am where I am supposed to be.
It was in THIS yoga studio that I found my Warrior. In those beginning classes during a particularly rough time, I needed Warrior One and Warrior Two. Over time Warrior Two became one of my very favorite poses….for so many reasons. It represented strength like no other pose and it made me feel STRONG. The way you can settle into this pose and look forward while stretching enables me to stand in my center. I still love Warrior Two.
I also love tree pose and often take pictures of myself on cliff edges and beaches in tree pose. I stretch my limbs to the sky while rooting myself in my life. Nothing feels quite the same.
As a yogi….I was late to yoga. I didn’t really get it-couldn’t understand what was expected of me and most likely wasn’t in the right place. A few years ago Lifetime Fitness opened their Yoga Studios to all students as part of our membership and I was determined to give it another try.
Everyone who practiced yoga enjoyed it. I was curious.
And in this way…I found myself in the studio that would often offer me a safe haven in a very rough storm.
Those first classes were challenging, fun, hot and not what I expected. I wanted to learn as much as I could. I drank the Kool-Aid because I felt the lightness. In this studio, I felt myself grieving, growing, adapting, learning and trusting again.
I kept coming back day after day, week after week, slowly understanding the Yoga way of life, listening, hearing and breathing. Always breathing.
It just so happened that this occurred at the same time I was going through an incredibly hard time in my life. A challenging time that I thought I might not survive. Yoga calmed me. Yoga helped me hear myself. Yoga taught me to center myself.
One morning after a class that I spent weeping, and when I say weeping, I mean weeping in the way that the tears wouldn’t stop I wondered what was going on. I’m not normally a crier, I usually cry when I’m frustrated-or when watching a sappy commercial or This is Us. But on this day….the tears seeped out of my eyes, down my face, sideways, into my ears and I just let it go. Pretty sure it wasn’t what we saw in the movies. And yet, I just went with the feeling. Obviously something deeper was happening and my body and heart knew what it needed.
Seeking out Ashley Gormley, the Group Fitness director I shyly told her what had happened. Thinking, she is going to think I’m completely crazy! She smiled kindly and warmly as she said, “Oh that happens all the time! We get very vulnerable in yoga and in the studio and with what is going on. Completely normal.”
Every now and again during that horrible time I found myself crying in yoga. Nobody ever said anything or commented. I imagine many others found themselves in the same position.
I continued going back. Because the more I went, the better I felt. I was growing, evolving and changing and the Yoga Studio was and is a safe place for this to happen. It is darkened although there are windows. It is quiet, although often we hear the weights being dropped and once or twice we heard water aerobics. It is still. Perhaps one of the only places in my world where I allow myself to BE still. It is a respected room-no shoes. No cell phones. And for this hour that is more than okay.
In this Yoga Studio, I have found courage, fearlessness, love and comradery, laughter and balance. In this Yoga Studio, I figured out how to take care of myself.
Interestingly enough, I’ve attended two Yoga Under the Stars programs and though we meet on the pool deck, the feelings are the same. We are quiet, we practice together and last summer, Jennifer Cooper had us all reach out and hold arms in a gesture of supporting our Yoga community. That brought me to tears as I was with my Yoga Tribe and we had been through the hardships of life together. How fortunate that yoga has brought into my world some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met and grateful to call friend.
My favorite Yogi’s welcome us in kindly and openly with their giant smiles and “good morning” wishes. They know each of us and take the time to prepare the room and then they prepare us. They work hard and it shows. They share their life lessons with us and through this they extend their love and kindness. I’ve heard about unconditional love, balancing a life out of balance; I’ve been encouraged to find my edge both mentally and physically. I’ve heard about rooting my feet into the earth and allowing my palms to face downward to alleviate anxiety.
And always, always always there is understanding that we are all where we are. In that moment, in that day. On that mat. For that time.
I’m gonna make it after all. In the yoga room and when I take my practice off the mat, out into my daily life.
(note: this was written about the West County Club-I have not had the opportunity to try the new club, however, I imagine it will be just as amazing)

Karma

IMG_7851.JPG Karen Kessler Karma hike
“Talk to me about Karma,” I say to my friend and yoga instructor Karen Kessler as we hike up the massive hill at Castle Wood State Park one spring morning two years ago. We have known each other for years, we have talked about everything you can imagine and I have witnessed Karen becoming an extraordinary yoga teacher (her adjustments rock). I feel fortunate to have her completely to myself and plan to ask a question or two and then…be quiet, absorb, listen and learn.
Karen smiles. She listened as I continued.
“My concern is that I did something really awful to a loving amazing person right after college because I was young and thought I knew what I was doing. I never meant to hurt this person who loved me unconditionally since I was 19. He’s happy. He told me he forgave me and that he wished me a happy life. But is it possible that what I did all those years ago is now payback for this horrible divorce I’m battling?” (note: the divorce was finalized May 2018 and yet the crazy continues). It makes me wonder if I pissed off the Goddess of All Things Right and Good. (can you just see her? She wears a cape…boots…spreads light and love)
“Karma doesn’t work like that,” she assured me. “It just doesn’t,” and she proceeded to talk us through the hike. Up the hills, looking over the river, down the steps, and across the lawn I listened. I cried. I opened my heart and my mind as Karen calmly and lovingly assured me that I had not pissed off the Goddess of All Things Right and Good.
This past month I once again had the opportunity to listen to Karen talk about Karma as we co-facilitated the Writing Workshop at Cancer Support Community. I thought this would be a well-received topic and it was. As always, I was impressed with the magnitude of writing and deep, enlightened thinking.
My thoughts on Karma hadn’t changed much. I still felt that, “Karma never forgets an address,” and that, “Karma is a bigger bitch than me.” And yet, after Karen led us through a breathing exercise to create positive energy, I opened my heart to hear and listen. After all, here was yet another opportunity to learn and come to terms with what I thought about Karma. I wanted to make peace with Karma if I could and I was fascinated.
“According to Buddha, intention is Karma. It’s intending-in our body, speech and intellect. It is a way of living.”
All the years of yoga I have I have now had the opportunity to practice indicated this is a choice as well. A way of living. With positive, loving, light-filled intention. What you think you become. We practice on the mat for the world off the mat.
“Karma is never, “What did I do to deserve this?” We want Karma to “get” someone who did us wrong, however, bad simply equals bad and good equals good. Karma really has nothing to do with our actions. The things that happen to us just happen…it is HOW we deal with it that matters most. ” (I want to object here. To once again tell my story of how someone did me wrong. And yet…something stops me.)
“It is how you are doing and living within that is really Karma. If you have positive energy, than you attract positive energy. Your choice to react with a positive attitude is within your reach. It’s within each of us.” Challenging, but achievable. One day at a time. One step at a time.
I’ve always thought this. I’ve always felt this. I bet you have as well. You know immediately if you click with someone based on their energy. And you know if you need to walk away because you can feel energy that might not be good for you. It’s okay to do this. In addition, we can all change our energy. We have the power to do this as well. It takes hard work, but it can be done. It starts within our heart.
We do not ever need to absorb negative energy from anyone. We decide how we want to live with the actions of others. Keep your power-for the positive the light, the gratitude and the happiness. In fact, positive energy is TWICE as powerful as negative.
I am reminded by a participant in class of Wayne Dyer’s quote, “How people treat you is their Karma. How you react is yours.”
Love begets love. Smiles yield smiles. Love is light. And I am here to tell you that once I left a life that was filled with spite and negativity; I could FEEL the light and energy change. In fact, that is probably what convinced me to make the changes that I did. At the time I had no idea that my energy was shifting, however, there isn’t a way I could live without the positive optimistic energy that is my default mode. As I learn more about energy, I am convinced more than ever that what you put out you really do attract. I look around at the people and Warriors, friends and sisters in my life and know that here is a good place.
“We need to say to ourselves, “I’m here today. Things are good today and live life to the fullest. Let’s look and learn from what’s happening.”
Mindfulness can help as well. If we are IN the moment, living IN each moment fully we can simply look at our reaction, not judge it. “Everything changes”, Karen reminds us-both the good and the bad. Focus on what is good and positive. Live a life of positive, loving intention. We can change the world this way.
Karen continues, ““Karma is yoga in action. It is the intentions behind our actions, our language, and our thoughts. Stay open-minded, practice acceptance not judgement and do no harm. That’s how you live Karma in action. Be part of something bigger if you can, be in service to others and live your life selflessly and compassionately. Live this way because it’s in your heart. This is what will come back. This is Karma.”
Once again, Karen sets my heart at ease. Choices made are choices lived with. It is simply my choice to move forward on the path I’m creating. And leave everything else to Karma.
Over the past few years I have felt my life and light continue to change, grow, evolve and adapt. I have managed to let go of that connecting thought from all those years ago. I still hope Karma never forgets an address (old habit), but my energy is now used daily to live a happy, productive life full of adventure, fun and challenge. Thank you Goddess of All Things Right and Good.

Biking into my Present

IMG_2128.jpg NEW bike

The bike that I love, that has been with me since I was 28 has seen a lot of miles. That bike and I rode with my friend Jenny once a week for years as we chatted about life. A lot of problems were solved on that bike! That bike pulled a baby trailer and carried toddlers on the back as they talked to me as I pedaled. I love that bike.
That bike, though is part of my past.
It is HEAVY. A mountain bike, all the rage in 1989, it was meant for trails. I was given this bike as a birthday gift many years ago and it fit me well. It was fast and allowed me to ride with the kids as they got older. With huge tires and a million gears, I could barely lift it onto the bike rack. I could, however, manage to get it into my car.
Like many things from my past life that I have shed, I knew the time would eventually come that I would buy a new bike. I had been talking about it for years ever since my friend Karen showed up on a hybrid bike with huge tires that went faster in a more efficient way. I might be huffing and puffing, but Karen was rolling along. I just could never make the move to buy a new one, even after a Backroads trip on a cool bike that weighed 2 pounds!
That bike stayed with me as the big house was cleared out. It was mine, after all. I had been the only one riding it and everyone else had their own. I moved it into the kitchen at some point, because the garage was a free for all and anything not nailed down was taken. So, into the kitchen my mountain bike lived.
At some point during the divorce process we had to decide where all the “stuff” was going to go. It was called inventory and because I was the keeper of the house until it sold, at my lawyers request I took photos of everything left to divide. There wasn’t much. Just enough to show the house well.
I wasn’t thinking because when I took a photo of the kitchen table, the bike was in the picture.
At the next meeting when “property” was discussed and pictures evaluated, my former spouse said, “I want that bike.”
“It’s my bike, “I responded.
“I want it, “he said.
He wanted everything. Every stick of furniture, every photo, every re-imagined memory, every penny he hid, he wanted it all.
At first I thought I wanted some of the household goods.
It turns, out though, when you start shedding, it becomes easier to leave the past behind. And this was one more thing for him to fight about. Costing me thousands in legal fees-to decide who would take ownership of which TV, which dishes, which lamps. We even had to hire a special “counsel” to sift through the inventory list. My lawyers kept asking if I really wanted the big purple couch.
At some point, I realized I wanted NOTHING.
Except my dignity, my grace, my space and my life. As well as all the marital assets that were mine that were stolen and hidden. Which we found. At least we think we found it all. Who really knows?
Believe it or not, those assets were easier for the lawyers to see and deal with.
During the meeting with the special “counsel”, I surprised everyone with my statement; “I don’t want any of it.” Imagine the surprise that there was no fight to be had. (believe me, he found many other things to fight about)
Lightly and happily, I gladly walked away from a 4000 square foot house with two beds, a kitchen table, my desk, three chairs, and an old funky couch to my name.
And my bike.
Yes. My bike.
HIS lawyer calmly asked, “Whose bike is it? How was it bought?” and when I said “It’s mine, it was a birthday gift,” she turned to him and said, “It’s her bike.”
The bike stayed. I wish I could say the same about the money he squandered by fighting over every little thing, lying, hiding information and being unreasonable.
While I lived with my sister I didn’t ride that much. The bike lived in the garage and occasionally I would take it out.
When I moved into my sweet little bungalow I was closer than ever to parks that would be gorgeous to ride in. But this bike was so damn heavy I could barely make myself ride it.
The bike was heavy and I knew it was something else too.
When my friend Chris saw the bike the response was, “Look on Craigslist for a lighter bike. I’ll help you. But you have to promise, when you get a new bike, you give this one away.”
What?
Give this bike away? No way. I’m hanging it in the great room decorated with lights. I’m keeping this bike. I fought too damn hard for it.
When I repeated this story to my friend Sally, a big ball of love and light, she looked at me, smiling and said, “Get rid of the bike. You’ve cleaned everything out of your life that you didn’t want. You’ve gotten rid of everything heavy. Get rid of it.”
I looked at her. Not saying a word, I thought about it.
“You know what Sal-Gal, you’re right.”
I was ready to let go of the bike.
Telling Chris this story, I was surprised one day to find a bike from craigslist at my house. We took a quick 5 mile ride and I loved the lightness of the bike. It was the same blue Schwinn, but updated and lighter…like my life. It had less history, less gears, bells and whistles, but it was mine free and clear.
The old bike was cleaned up by Chris and given to a friend that day. Just like that. No thought. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and knew that the bike and I had had our time. We had had our ride. It was now meant to be with someone else. It was time to let go. As Chris commented, “Time to pass the love on.”
I love my new bike. I’ve ridden it a few times and slowly we are getting used to one another. I’ve never been attached to things and this was another experience that showed me I was right to WALK AWAY FROM EVEYRTHING THAT WAS WEIGHING ME DOWN.
As Melody Ross said in her Daily Truth post on July 12th: “Let go of what is heavy – let go of what is no longer helping you to grow. You don’t have to suffer anymore. You don’t have to hold it anymore. You get to be wise now. You get to be happy now.”
Damn right.
I’m gonna make it after all.

Difficult Conversations

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I’m debating what, if anything to say to a friend who has pushed past all friendship boundaries and is not hearing what I am saying. She is self-absorbed, inwardly focused and often talks so much I find myself making a grocery list in my head.
I have another friend who is making me uncomfortable with her need to pick up the check whenever we are out. And not just for me, but for the entire table. It makes me uncomfortable because I, too, want to be generous. I just want to choose when I’m going to be-I don’t like the forced-ness of it. Then that thought makes me feel bad!
Is it worth it to say anything? If I do, will it change anything? The friendship? What are my goals here? Is the conversation even necessary?
Most of us do not like confrontations and will do anything in our power to avoid them. A difficult conversation CAN feel like a confrontation, but it doesn’t have to. Not all conversations have to be difficult. Most of the time according to Jessica Kutcha Miller, MA Counseling Psychology, JD/licensed attorney, EdD candidate, and certified organizational ombuds practitioner (CO-OP®) she suggests, asking ourselves why a conversation isn’t moving in the direction we thought it would go. When this happens, stop and ask yourself why.
Recently I participated in her workshop, “Difficult Conversations” at The Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. I was fascinated by her problem solving skills (which she assures me can be learned) and how calm and centered she was. In short, she considers herself to be an empathetic problem-solver who facilitates the construction of meaning within a community of learners.
Humans are a community of learners, of which I belong. I wanted to learn as much as possible.
We aren’t mind readers, so ask yourself, “What am I thinking?” when you decide to have a conversation. Clear communication is priority. In addition, decide if it’s worth it to have a conversation that might not result or resolve how you want.
When you take the time to re-visit the idea of tackling a difficult conversation-you’ve decided the relationship might be worth it. Reframe and try to assess the energy that each person is bringing to the discussion. Its okay to back off and say, “Now isn’t a good time.”

Kutcha-Miller has more ideas: Decide if the conversation is even going to happen. Is the method a good idea? Sometimes an email is the better way to go, capturing your intent and ideas that you are trying to convey. Think about the goal of the conversation and ask yourself: What do I hope will happen? Do I want to invest in this and what is the cost of saying something? Most conversations need to remain brief, informative and friendly while we remain firm in what it is we need. If you decide to pursue the discussion, another strategy Kutcha-Miller says is to try saying, “I want to talk with you about something that bothers me and not sure what to make of it,” It’s important to have talking points. Nothing ever goes well if you don’t know what you are going to say because you haven’t thought about what you want to say or how you want to say it. Always use “I” messages: “I was uncomfortable when….” setting boundaries, being direct. Using “I wonder” statements offers everyone the chance to ask if they are being heard, are they listening with intent, what might be frustrating and what might keep you in the conversation.

I’ve had a difficult discussion where I indeed remained firm, focused and thought I was crystal clear. The other person refused to acknowledge my experience stating, “That can’t possibly happen.” When I heard this after the second conversation, I decided to walk away from the friendship. I didn’t formally “end” it; I just don’t reach out and try to only be with this person in a group situation. My expectations were not met, I didn’t feel honored or heard and so I decided to let go.

In addition, someone might want to have a conversation with me that I don’t want to have. If the person persists or asks why, a simple “because I’d rather not” should suffice. You shouldn’t have to explain why you are not comfortable or why you don’t want to talk about it. Rather than explain, attempt to shift the conversation to another topic. I have actually used this with a friend who thought it was perfectly okay to tell me all the mistakes I made as a parent. I calmly looked at her and said firmly, “I don’t want to talk about this”. The point was made.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone says to me, “We will just have to agree to disagree.” To me, this is a signal that they are done and not offering clarity. I look at disagreements as ways to bridge the gap and understand differences. I am NEVER about changing someone’s mind because honestly, in a discussion with disagreements you are most likely not going to change mine. I don’t want to be yelled at, bullied or manipulated. I honestly want to hear what you have to say AND I want to be heard.

For me it always circles back to, “Is it worth it?” “How much do I want to hold someone responsible for?” and “How much do I want to hear?” Sometimes it’s better to continue forward. In many situations ask yourself how open you are to feedback. Not everything needs to be discussed. Kutcha-Miller reminds me, “Can you live with the dynamics of the relationship/friendship and the repercussions of setting boundaries for yourself in terms of listening, opening the lines of communication or in some situations walking away?”

You may be wondering what I decided to do? In the first instance, I let it go. It wasn’t worth it to engage because I was pretty sure this friend would never hear me. In addition, it’s been nice to be free of her drama. In the second, I’m thinking about what I’m going to say. My sister reminded me that if I say nothing I will continue to be miserable. And I reminded my sister that I worked too hard to find my voice not to use it. I’m always practicing boundaries these days. And so even in difficult conversations we find ourselves asking about boundaries-our own and other people’s.

We are just human after all. Sandy Tomey reminds me, “Everything can be figured out with great communication. Be curious.” We want our voices to be heard. We want to be listened to. And I truly believe the healthiest of us want to understand how to communicate in an appropriate, respectful way.

Here’s to difficult conversations getting easier with practice.

I’m gonna make it after all.

I’m Gonna Make It After All

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Ann Bauer, kick-ass Warrior lawyer and Pam shared a smile at a book launch on Saturday, June 29. Pam is happy to report that she is “living well” in her post-divorce life….taking it step by step, day by day, proudly wearing her cape with her boots firmly ON the ground.

Today I am sitting and writing this chapter for the third time. The first two versions weren’t what I wanted to say. In fact, I have so much to say, I’m not sure where to start. This often happens. I wanted to start with HERE AND NOW and bypass “my story” and yet, I realize without context and back-story my today, my present isn’t complete. Almost a year has gone by since I’ve been living the life I always thought possible. A life of joy, freedom, fun, peace and kindness. A life that I could barely envision a few years ago. And yet, here I am. Still standing. In fact, I’m more than standing…I’m surviving and thriving. On this day, in these twenty-four hours, I stand tall, owning myself, my power, happy in my center. This is my story to write. My stand to take. I have magic in my heart and my life. I am stronger than I know, more optimistic than ever before and dealing with the choices I made in the past.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, or when I’m sitting at my giant window working, writing, thinking…and say to myself, “I can’t believe this is my life.” At first, the thought was, “I can’t believe this is my life,” in total denial of where I am and where I’m going. And then, one day out of the blue, I thought, “I can’t believe this is my life!” It was reframed in the positive, the optimistic, the joyous and the hopeful. When Ann Bauer, my attorney first said to me, “Pam, the best revenge is to live a happy life,” we were finishing some sort of meeting or deposition or court date. I’m sure I was crying, angry, frustrated. I’m sure I wasn’t shy about how I was feeling. It was a long legal battle made worse by dealing with a narcissist who lies, cheats and steals. Did I know this? Not in the beginning. I only realized a few years into the divorce that I had married a wolf in sheep’s clothing. From a pack of wolves that also lied, cheated, stole and walk the world as if they own it. They don’t. My lawyers taught me that.
Every meeting we had, every nasty email and phone conversation left me needing to shower to wash off the toxicity. I’m not sure how the lawyers handled it. I had my Warriors either with me physically or with me in spirit. I never hesitated to reach out….asking for positive intentions. They always came through. As did the Warrior lawyers I had to hire, pay enormous amounts of money to in order to protect myself. You would think that the person you marry, the person with whom you have children is the last person in the world who would try to decimate and destroy you. Healthy functioning people understand that everything is not a win-lose proposition. Healthy functioning people realize that kids can’t ever have too many people that love them. Healthy functioning people put their kids first and foremost. Healthy functioning people support one another and their values, hopes and dreams. You would think that. In my case, the person I married turned out to be my very worst nightmare. It didn’t start that way…and yet, as I think of the last years of that negative, toxic, unhealthy marriage, the behavior had been in place for quite some time. Looking back, I realize I was just trying to survive. Each and every day. For my kids and for myself. It took enormous amounts of energy. I have to forgive myself for this. For not knowing better. For not getting us out when I had the chance. For not being stronger. For not understanding that the toxicity of the system from which he came, from which he operates was soul-sucking. I knew for some time he lied whenever the circumstance benefitted him.
When I finally got out, I was surprised to find that the people in my world knew more of what was happening than I let on. Time and again, Warriors who showed up for me commented, “We were hoping you would get out. Leave. Find yourself.” This was not how I intended to or raised my kids. I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be and I don’t want to be (where is the fun in being “perfect”?!). I raised my kids to be honest, open-minded, strong and kind. I wanted my kids to be independent and courageous. It makes me sad to know that my kids saw a coward who bullied to get his way. I have discovered that when you are in a negative, scarce place that is teaming with toxicity, the best thing any of us can do is simply survive.
And that’s what we did. Over the past few years, teachers have been sent to me by the Universe. The yoga instructors helped me rediscover my light. My ease. My peace. The Warrior Sisters picked me up when I needed help, they hugged me when I needed to cry and made me laugh when I thought I would never laugh again. New friends with incredible energy. Women who reach out when I most need them with messages of hope, love, kindness and often humor. And the Wonder Woman team of lawyers, financial wizards and mental health professionals who showed me what it was to stand strong. To look deep inside and understand that my truth is my truth. That I get to choose the life I live. Today my energy has completely changed. I live in a happy house that is peaceful and full of light, plants and posters that remind me of where I’ve been and where I am. Mostly it looks like a teen-ager lives here. It’s a very happy place. The energy is positive, up-beat, abundant and kind. I’m astounded. I’ve worked hard to BE in this place. I know that I cannot be defined by the tragedy of a marriage gone horribly wrong. I cannot be defined by anyone else except myself. I am defined by my response and how I choose to put one foot in front of the other…each and every day.
My story is still being written…and I’m the one writing it. As I am learning to stand in my own power, something is changing, shifting, and feeling different. The energy around me is different…I look around and the people are healthy, fun, full of a sunshine I knew was in the world. It is an embarrassment of riches the friends and Warriors I can count on and enjoy laughing with. I continue doing good work, believing in myself more than ever-that my gift is worthwhile. I’m still on this journey and yet every step of the way feels as if I’m moving towards what is supposed to be. As I write my story whenever I can, learn from the world around me including the Universe who often sends me messages via songs on the radio when I need them (She often plays The Warrior by Scandal or Since You’ve Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson)…I came to understand the living well IS the best revenge.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned: Be grateful for the moment. Whatever that moment might be. I don’t always feel this way, however, I try to pull myself back when I can. Go outside and look at the sky, the sun, and the stars. It will help you be in that moment. Nature always helps. Get to the ocean as often as possible. It’s healing and empowering. It takes courage to battle the battle I did. Courage. Power. Strength. Wisdom. Wonder. I learned to put on my cape, my bracelets, hold my shield high and made sure my boots were on the ground. I found the Warrior inside of me (oh, there you are!). Every day I work on being the healthiest person I can be. I listen, ask questions, tell my truth and remember the love that I have in my heart. In every moment we can choose happiness and love. Laugh. A lot. Humor is important and healthy and fun. And there’s no substitute for a SENSE of humor. Use a power move if you have to. Karma never forgets an address.
Find your passion and make it happen. Dance. Dance. Dance. Rock out to the music! Sing loud and proud. Be your best self. Respect and admire those that love you and you love. Allow people to BE who they are. Find that tribe that encourages and supports you being who you are, too. The energy you put out….is the energy that is returned. All. The. Time. Never ever give up. Over those years there were moments I wanted to give up. And I could not. I would not. I continued searching for my truth. Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries. The best way to send a message: be well, centered and calm. As the song says, I celebrate when, “I can see clearly now.” When you grow…grow into someone incredible. Let go and move forward. This often trips me up. This is when I am reminded to, take a deep breath. I Inhale peace for myself and exhale reactivity. Second and third chances are about acceptance…of who I am. Acceptance can bring me to the place I’ve been coming to all along. I can control my own behavior, thoughts and emotions. I cannot (and do not want to) control anyone else’s behavior or crazy. I have to figure out what to do with my behaviors, thoughts and emotions. And when I do, this frees me. Freedom is the best. Freedom is hard won. Freedom is how I live. Anything is possible if we truly believe. And then we make it happen. A lie runs until it’s taken over by the truth. Believe in the magic. Wonder. Inspire other people with your passion, talent, love and kindness.
Never under-estimate JOY. I know that deep within myself there is joy and it cannot be touched. I will not allow it to ever be compromised again. I will protect my joy and my heart with everything I am. Believe in yourself. Celebrate your wins. Whatever that is. Every single time. Thoughts turn into actions. Focus on where you want to go. See your future from where you are standing. Be the light. Have FUN. And then have more fun. It’s the time to start trusting in the magic of new beginnings. To believe in the pixie dust. Independent, strong women (think Mary Tyler Moore, Lucy, Ann-Marie, Carrie Bradshaw, Savannah Guthrie, Gloria Steinem, and Ellen DeGeneres) and a host of women in my life inspire me every day in every way. We need to continue to uplift our sisters. Hug them, love them and laugh with them. After writing this and thinking about it I realize and know, my backstory is just that. The past. It’s a small part of my story…aspects of it turned me into a Warrior, someone who can stand in my center. Someone I like. My true self. My life, my living well is today. Now. The present. With all the joy, happy, peace and light. My success, joy and happiness are my pay back. My living well. I have a voice and I’m going to continue to use it and inspire with it. I’m gonna make it after all.

Good Evening St. Louis!

IMG_2921.JPG Charlie Tuna Show June 10

It’s Monday night and the Charlie Tuna Show is rocking. We are at 590 The Fan in Kirkwood, headphones on, laughing and enjoying the back and forth. Charlie leads the charge as Matt, Tom, Joe Davis (producer) and I chime in with our thoughts, ideas and questions. Including what Charlie calls, “Joe’s Take” and “Pam’s Take”. Monday nights also play host to “Get it off your chest” a segment where each of can talk about anything that annoys us. (who wouldn’t love to talk about this?!)
You might be asking yourself: Wait. You’re doing what?
I have always wanted to be on the radio. Mostly, because I feel I have so much to say and want to share everything I know with anyone who will listen. Many years ago I auditioned for a radio job and landed it! Then, I ended up moving to St. Louis and that particular dream was put on hold.
Until now.
Over the years I’ve had many ideas for a radio show. I thought it would be great to read my blog (about my oh-so-interesting life) and talk about it with listeners. At one point, my first playgroup brainstormed a local “View”-like idea for a radio show. Together our personalities made a great noise. Every now and then I would have an idea for a radio show and then of course pod-casts and Facebook live entered the picture. I love the immediacy of Facebook live. As for pod-casts, I think my blog and thoughts would fit this venue, too. This would of course require a little tekky work on my part….
However.
Instead of all that, on Monday nights you have the opportunity to hear The Charlie Tuna Show which I am now happy and grateful to be a part of!
In early May I was at Brick Tops with Carolyn celebrating my birthday. Yes, my birthday is in May however we give each other a grace period. We went for Happy Hour and enjoyed ourselves catching up and laughing as only you can with your oldest, truest friends. We had arrived at the start of Happy Hour and by the time we were winding down; Carolyn hopped up for the restroom. A gentleman behind us asked if we were leaving and then recognized Carolyn from Church. She offered her seat and he sat down.
Something told me to put my phone down. You know how your first response is to pull your phone out when your friends leave the table or bar? I slipped mine back into my backpack and turned to the gentleman sitting beside me.
“Are you here alone?” I asked, and then, “I love to people watch, don’t you? I’m a writer and it’s fascinating.”
“You’re a writer? I’m looking for a writer!” and he proceeded to tell me out-right funny stories about his life.
“And you need me for your radio show too!” I added.
“It turns out, I’m looking for a female voice older than 27,” Charlie Tuna said.
Hmmmmm The Universe often knows where to put us so that opportunities appear. Carolyn and I had picked this date randomly. We picked the place as somewhere fun to celebrate.
And who walks in? And then sits down near us.
Charlie Tuna, local radio personality.
We chatted for about thirty minutes, trading contact info and he asked me to come to the show the following week, “just to check it out”.
Charlie and I texted throughout the weekend and I was so excited. I listened to as many of his shows that I could on-line. Often laughing out loud. Always intrigued.
Walking in the next week, my guess was that I would listen, watch and learn.
Not with Charlie.
He instructed me to put on head-phones and jump in.
So I did.
Matt, Tom, Joe and Charlie are steeped in sports knowledge. They know the most obscure facts and numbers. They know players, stats, teams, and have opinions about all of this. Often just listening to their back and forth I come to understand more than I thought I ever would.
When I started telling my friends about the opportunity that “appeared around the corner” as Charlie likes to say, they smiled and said, “What do you know about sports?” Yea, never count me out! Because as a friend advised, “This is fun AND super fun!” As always…All In.
Well, as it turns out, I’m learning quite a bit. I read, I listen to the radio, tv reports and while we are on-air we have sports on a giant tv which makes for up-to-date learning. We watched the Blues play-off games and the Stanley Cup finals. We’ve watched ESPN and Cardinals baseball. We watch basketball. A lot of basketball.
And Charlie has the most interesting guests who call in. Who knew?!
Charlie has reassured me that he wants a female voice and not someone who agrees with him. And so our discussions have included racial tension, the abortion ban, women in sports, celebrities who use their fame for undesirable actions, the the Blues games , the standing ovation that Albert Pujols received, the glass ceiling, domestic abuse. One week Charlie started a discussion about how sports is life and the lessons we can learn from sports can help us live better lives. I loved that!
We talk about things that annoy us such as people who take over in gym locker rooms, crazy drivers, millennials who walk and text at the same time bumping into us. We talk about the teams we like, St. Louis and being home-town fans and suggestions to make the city a better place. I’ve given shout outs to friends which is always fun.
And a few weeks ago I brought Trivia questions for the guys. I’m learning what they are talking about however I figured I would try to stump them! Sometimes I do…sometimes they are just too smart. And smart they are.
Each Monday I am having a great time; learning a new skill and proud that I can hold my own against the powerhouse that is Charlie Tuna and his team of smart, funny, knowledgeable sports fans. They are fun; interesting guys and I appreciate their welcome.
I just need my own pair of headphones.
Listen to the Charlie Tuna Show on 590 The Fan Monday-Thursday 7-9pm on AM radio and find us on-line at: https://590thefan.com/radio-shows/the-charlie-tuna-show/

Dancing Through My Life

for may 24
May 23rd holds special significance for me. It is a day of happiness, celebration, peace. It was hard-earned and I will carry the battle scars with me forever more. May 23rd represents the day I really became free.
The day I liberated myself legally from a marriage that was unhealthy, toxic and negative.
I understand intellectually, that as I’ve lived, survived and thrived this year, May 23rd is a legal emancipation and that my real freedom began that day I knew I needed and wanted to be free, go forth and stand tall and strong in my center. In my power. With my cape, shield, bracelets and boots on the ground.
Yet in our society we celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and arrival days. I’ve been celebrating this divorce since the moment the papers were signed. I was stunned. I looked at the lawyers who hugged me and didn’t know how to feel. Was it really over? Was the legal battle to be free done? I laughed, I cried, I talked. I walked. I danced. And then I danced a little more. For weeks anytime I was with friends and Warriors we celebrated. It was a happy time. They, too, had fought the battle with me, standing side by side as we looked into darkness.
And then there was light.
May 23rd.
Even though papers were signed by all parties involved, including a judge it took until July 7th for everything to be completely settled, because even then, the thief I was formerly married to was still playing a power game that was over. My lawyers had to get back involved. My financial team had to go above their pay grade in order to access what was mine.
And what was mine was mine. Free and clear. I would never recoup all of the funds this liar and thief had stolen, hidden and tried to give away. I would end up paying legal fees in the amount that could fund a small third-world country for three years. My lawyers had done their best, but in the end, there was a lot that couldn’t be accounted for in the years that this former spouse spent freely while locking me out of all accounts and changing passwords. In fact, for over a year I lived on a credit card while he freely helped himself to marital funds. Time and again this was brought to the other legal team’s attention. Luckily, I had a legal team that could do math, wanted to see me treated fairly and had their boots on the ground.
Here’s where I am now.
I have the choice with what to do with my past. I can’t ever change the fact that the wolf in sheep’s clothing I married lied, cheated and stole. I can’t change the fact that he forged my name on documents twenty years into the marriage and started a secret fund in his name only funded with marital assets. I can’t change the fact that twenty years into the marriage he changed a will that not only cut me out of everything but actually stated that. I cannot change the fact that someone broke into the house I was living in, (sometimes taking things), and once even tossing my bedroom looking for something. I can’t change the fact that my season tickets to the Muny have been high-jacked. I can’t change the fact that normal, every-day parenting/mothering was turned against me to create an unhealthy, untrue narrative.
I cannot change the fact that I was married to a very unhealthy narcissist. Who choose to drag kids into a legal battle and use them in his fight. I cannot change the fact that this thief continued to move money around without my knowledge or consent and lies to the kids about what was and is happening. The process of alienation started long before I became aware of the lies and narrative being used to suit his needs. When you see and hear something often enough and are too young, inexperienced and scared to ask questions and trust your heart, unfortunately you accept this as truth and act on it.
There are NEVER too many people who can love our kids.
I cannot turn back time.
What I can do?
I can learn from my past, not get stuck in it; learn the lessons and continue in my journey of healthy, fun, light, kindness and purpose. I’ve felt those feelings, but I’m not going to get blocked in those feelings. I am strong. I’ve handled what I had no idea I could handle. I can simply move forward and not let any of the past (or present crazy) get to me. I refuse to project onto my present or my future the toxicity of my past. I was bullied and didn’t trust my gut or my instincts.
I trust them now. I trust me, I trust my gut.
Since I’VE been gone… I can breathe…I’m so moving on. I’m a bad-ass Warrior.
The people in my world, old friends and new can see this new light….and I can, too. It feels amazing. This is what freedom is. This is what it’s like to make my own choices, stand in my power, and believe in myself and the life I’m choosing. Me? I’m going to be okay. I already am….one day at a time. One step in front of the other. Energy and focus on the positive. Kindness and love are always the answer.

No journey is easy, and I understand that. However, I also know that life is what I make it. How I respond to the stressors in my world. Over the past two years, especially this last year, I’ve grown into a woman I am proud of. I’ve shaken off the past in more ways than one. I know who I am. I know the mother I was and am. Nobody ever can take that away from my kids and I. I will continue to live in the light; sending out love and prayers, listening to the messages around me from teachers of all sorts and the Universe. I continue to sparkle…

May 23rd holds special significance for me. It is a day of happiness, celebration, peace. It was hard-earned and I will carry the battle scars with me forever more. May 23rd represents the day I really became free. It’s time. I’m going to dance right through my life.
I’m gonna make it after all.

Beach Trip and Warrior Mermaid

La Jolla

I am in my happy place.
The beach.
Always the beach.
The ocean is healing for me, a Water Girl.
The ocean often calls to me…and given the chance, the beach is always my first destination of choice. (followed closely by NYC)
Wondering if I’m part Mermaid. (I know I’m definitely part Warrior Mermaid!)
What made this beach/beach trip even better is who I was with. I’ve traveled to San Diego with two amazing Warrior girlfriends who laugh and just want to have fun. We are all easy with one another and the plans or no-plans; we have different strengths and perceptions of life. We have wildly different backgrounds and so much in common.
A few months ago as I was listening to spring break plans, I realized I needed a spring break myself. No longer on a school schedule, my spring break could be anytime. At brunch one Saturday after our dance class, sitting at the bar at the Shack over omelets I casually asked Sandye and Lisa, “Want to go on a trip somewhere?”
The words were barely out of my mouth when both of them said, “YES!” and “Where?” and “When?”
Well, that was easy.
Having never been to San Diego, I threw it out as an option.
It was the only option, as both women said, “Yes, let’s do it.”
Within five hours of that conversation, I had booked us airfare for a weekend in San Diego in April. It would prove to be one of the most enjoyable trips of my life.
Know this. My suit-case and backpack are always packed-on standby for lift-off. I’m ready to go at a moment’s notice. Well, I say that, because I’d like to believe it, but give me a couple days, and I will travel with you anywhere. Will I over-pack? Unfortunately yes. Will I end up wearing the same thing a million times? Yes. Will I care about any of that? Not really.
I’m about the adventure, the fun, the comradery. The exploration.
This trip at this time was especially significant for me.
I had been having a rougher time than usual in a place in my life I didn’t expect and certainly don’t deserve. One place in my world brings me such sadness and melancholy, which I knew in my soul, the beach would be a good place for inspiration and healing. I just didn’t’ know at the time how much I would need that.
Why, you might ask, if I feel this way about the beach, don’t I pick myself up and move? A few reasons-first, my tribe of Warriors including my sister Staci have kept me sane, grounded and connected. They live here. Second, I can’t take my dog out of state (long story.) Lastly, maybe it’s not time for me quite yet to live full out Mermaid.
We traveled on a Wednesday laughing on the plane and touching ground by 8pm. The hotel sent us a car. We were in our correct room (don’t ask) by 10pm. The resort lost electricity for ten minutes which made us question ourselves.
Not for long. The next morning we headed to Pacific Beach for breakfast at Kona, a local, surfer hang-out and walked two miles along the beach and boardwalk, sunning ourselves. Heading to Coronado Island that afternoon we tripped up the steps through the lobby on the advice of our Uber driver finding a magical land meant for us surely? Finding ourselves on the beach, we played and walked, danced on the beach and did yoga poses and even found gold in the sand. It was here that I had the second best chocolate chip cookie of my life. That evening found us in Little Italy admiring the pretty people and enjoying yummy Italian food. The next day we decided to head to La Jolla, a perfectly Dr. Seuss-like place that boasts seals and their pups ON the beach, around the beach and sunning themselves. I’ve never been that close to a seal. They reminded me of dogs as they curled themselves together and barked at one another. Babies played in the water. I had the idea they were observing us as much as we observed them. Though our resort had two rescued seals, who I talked to whenever I had the chance, there is nothing like seeing animals in their natural habitat.
That afternoon, we went to Georges-of the “million dollar views”. Honestly, I’m not sure how long we were on the veranda, however, this particular day really felt like a vacation day. We relaxed, laughed and slowly enjoyed our view and our lunch. On Saturday we strolled the short walk to Mission Beach stopping at the WE Care Café and surf shop. Their mission is to build animal shelters-their acai frozen fruit bowls are what heaven must surely serve. Favorite breakfast of my life-fruit, sorbet, granola and chocolate. Oh, and it was called The Mermaid Bowl.
I spent most late afternoons in a cabana on the bay at our hotel. Glimpsing the ocean, I pounced on the opportunity to feel the sand and the surf whenever I could and knew that I would need some time to myself on the beach.
After breakfast on the beach, as Sandye and Lisa collected seashells, I had the opportunity to commune with the ocean, the waves, the Universe and anything else that would listen. I had received good advice before I left, “Find your happy place, dancing or imagining the beach. Keep breathing and know in this moment you can choose happiness and love. One day at a time. Leave it all out there. Toss it into the ocean. Perfect timing. Amazing what nature can do…especially the beach,” Sandy Tomey suggested. I decided that I was going to let the beach start to heal me.
And that’s what I did.
I walked, I talked, I sang, I cried. I prayed. I thought of those two special people who have been hurt as much as I have been and sent love, kindness and special mother-prayers to them and to the Universe, knowing that I would continue to keep my heart open. I returned to the beach later that day and sat looking into the horizon. It had been a journey to reach this place and I knew once more that I needed and wanted to talk with the Universe…and those two special people. I sent out the message that I wanted them to hear-with all the mother’s love in my heart….and, then…let it all go, took deep breaths and crossed my fingers.
Before heading to Old Town that evening to enjoy Mexican food and the birthplace of California, ogling the handsome men (well I did) and flirting with the waiter (well, I did.) I had the good fortune to connect with two very good friends for lunch. They were what I needed as well-people who know me and offered solid advice, “You are doing an amazing job of survival and sparkle maintenance. Keep it up. XO”
Over the course of five days, we also interviewed our Uber drivers (stay tuned for that blog), laughed more than I’ve laughed in a long time, danced on the beach and anywhere we could find, shared dessert, walked the beaches, explored a beautiful place and understood on a deeper level, that these moments are as important as anything else. Why we want to be with people who love and accept us. Catch us when we fall, dance on the beach with us; allow us to BE who we are.
This was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I needed the release of the beach and the ocean. The healing powers of my Mermaid kin as I talked with the Universe and sent my messages of love and hope; the hugs of amazing Warrior girlfriends who intuitively understood my need for the ocean and the waves. The smiles and laughter that we shared over the weekend in my happy place.
I’m gonna make it after all.