Rise Up

It is a New Year…a clean slate.  It brings hope, a chance to start over, create the life we want, right?   That feels nice, but what do we choose to do with it?  Reflection is good, but I suppose it is the action that counts.

Rise up. Every day, with every challenge and with every dreary feeling, I must, you must… Rise Up.

Our family has a tradition on New Year’s Eve…we each write down one thing we want to work on and burn it in the fire.  Each person has the choice to share what they write or not.  Mine:  I hope to cuss less when I am frustrated.  The “f” word flies out of my mouth  alot …and now I am noticing I have passed that lovely trait on to my teenage son.  I don’t even think it is bad trait.  I only cuss at home or around trusted friends.  Cussing can relieve frustration.  Still, I have decided to try to use it mostly to celebrate things.  I would rather have my kids remember “that is fucking amazing” more than “this is fucked.” Sometimes it is baby steps…a little less cussing, and hey, let’s make it positive cussing!  And let’s all learn to laugh at ourselves while we are at it.  Rise Up.

Yesterday I took the time to carefully put away Christmas decorations.  I enjoyed a big huge tree this year…every angel, glittery star, swirled glass globe and crafted ornament has a pleasant origin or memory….some are from travels, some are gifts, many are made with pure love by my children.  I chose to reflect on each one while I put it away.  It brought a sense of joy to a task I was dreading.  I felt thankful to have 16 years of treasured memories to store up in the attic every year.  And if I get hit by a bus tomorrow (crass I know),  just maybe my family will appreciate the way each one is packed up in its own little gold tissue or box with care.  Maybe they will say, “Geesh, Mom was really fucking good at organizing Christmas stuff!”  This thought brings a smile to my face.  I also appreciate my own sense of humor.  Rise Up.

Today is Jan 5th.  I live in Seattle, it is cold, it is gray, it is plain dreary and depressing.  It is dripping out.  It feels like the sky is spitting at me.  Luckily I have a younger sister that lives in Portland.  She is sweet, kind, real and oh-so talented.  She is 27.  I am 50.  I love to be around her youth, her determination, her beauty, her voice!  Best of all…she keeps in touch with me.  Luckily, she invited me to run a Shamrock half marathon with her in March.  That is just the nudge I needed.  I received  her text asking me to join her.  I immediately said “YES!  let’s do it.”  Now I must drag my tired body out in the cold gloomy weather to train.  Yes, I will train.  I have something very responsible and sensible inside of me that knows I cannot just go run 13.1 miles one day.  I want to enjoy that run!  I want to conquer that run!  I will kill that fucking run!  I am the WIN in WINter.  I took my first 4.5 mile training run last Sunday…it was freezing, I was miserable, I saw a lot of garbage out on my run…that made me feel awful  (why do people litter?!  I was cussing in my head at them)  But you know what felt great?  I did it!  I walked the last quarter-mile as snowflakes started to fall on my face…I felt euphoric…high on good choices.   Rise Up.

The Little Messengers exhaust me.  My son, while gifted and brilliant when it comes to all things flight or science, cannot pick up a single wrapper or dirty sock to save his life.  For some strange reason, there is never a sheet on his bed. …it is always wadded up on the floor or at the foot of his bed, under Gabby, our loving and shedding German Shepherd.  Apparently he likes to sleep on the bare futon mattress, now covered in extreme dog hair.  And recently, his skater hat and clean Nikes (he takes a toothbrush to them at night) seem to have more importance than any wise words from dear old mom.  It is a bit FRUSTRATING…and oh…I would love to insert a cuss word here.  But, no, I will keep my resolution and also allow him to live like a bachelor in his teen bedroom within our house.  And I will keep assisting him, encouraging him and paying for all of his hopes and dreams.  I promised myself when I had kids I would “follow the child” …just like Maria Montessori.  Rise Up.

Yes!  I am a dreamer idealistic type.  I will continue to notice their passions and cheer them on to be all they can be!  I want to cry and give up and just go get a full-time career position so I can finally have new windows in my house (without mold) and new granite counter tops (they seem to be in). In fact, I do cry.  I sob sometimes.  It happens in the early morning hours, before the kids are up.  I get the whining out of my system.  I complain to my husband by phone on his way to work in the morning (poor guy, that can’t be  very nice way to start his day), how kids do not listen, how being a mother is a thankless job, how he has no idea how hard it is, blah, blah, blah.   I am thankful he listens.  Then he simply says “I love you.”  Rise Up.

And then….  I get up, make a cup of very strong coffee, kiss kids good morning, put another log on the fire and make school lunches.  Today I was even able to sneak in an inspirational talk with my son.  He humbly shocked me with “Thanks for always helping me , mom.”  Perhaps the tears, the snivel, saying the hard stuff out-loud helps me?   Perhaps then I am able to let it all go, carry on, and to be more gentle with myself and others on a daily basis? I know I will look back and remember raising my kids as a life well-lived.  Rise Up.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture….  Life is hard.  If we want to be a success in any way, then we must endure the tough parts, and Rise Up.

My simple advice to you all…Rise Up!

There are many ways to do it.  There are no wrong or right ways.  Do it as you see fit, in the moment you need to do it,  the way you need to do it. Fall apart right before you do it if you need to.  But just make sure you do it!  Every day!  Take the action…  You are worth it!

Rise Up.







Don’t you love it when things gently fall in to place?  It is the absolute BEST!  I have been experiencing a peaceful flow to my life in recent days.  It feels like a clear path is opening up to me day by day…and I am astonished at the simplicity and abundance of it all.

Things seemed so rocky, bumpy, scary…and then, it all shifted.  I do not even know how to explain it.  Did I change?  Did others change?  Is it a cosmic force beyond my control?  I do not have the answers.  I admit I have been drawn to the skies lately…  the blues, the pinks, the perfect colors that only nature can provide. It feels more like a sense of wonder.

Every morning I drive the same familiar roads, toting my kids to school.  There is one distinct point in the journey where we come over the top of a hill and look down from the top. At that moment, the Olympic Mountains rise in the distance, snow-capped in misty layers of purple shading.  It always looks unreal to me.  It feels like a dream… too majestic to be true.   I am realizing it is an amazing vision…and I am living it!

This is a wonderful awakening. Something delightful is happening.  Change.  The seasons change, and we must join them.  We must take note of the sun as it sneaks through the clouds.  As the influential rays break through, they bring such warmth and put a beautiful spin on the earth.  Light can also come in to our lives the same way.  We have great power within us…however we must grant that greatness permission to prevail.

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I am encountering an evolution,  a rising up.  I knew the status quo in my own life wasn’t going to cut it, but I did not know how things would change.  I just knew they had to.  I leapt blindly in to the future with an unknown outcome.  I trusted myself, my instincts, the life I was being drawn to.  I let go.

Transformation happened.

I don’t think I was that far off, but  I was truly stuck, sad and afraid.  Looking back I realize I had been hanging on to some nasty stuff….a little comfort, a bit of control, a lot of blame.  Clinging to those negative thoughts was preventing me from being able to soar to new heights.

Suddenly life is simple.

An old acquaintance pops into my mind.  I have not seen her in years.  Within five minutes she is walking towards me in the post office parking lot.  We have a warm exchange…touching and easy.  It is meant to be.

I routinely enter my 13-year old son’s room at bedtime to deliver my ritual tuck-in and kiss on the cheek.  He softly mentions to me a text that was forward to him…  “Mom, it is mean.”  A middle school girl is hurting.  My son is comforting a friend.  I feel oddly calm as he comes up with his own solution.  I am proud of him.  I realize he is so trustworthy, and will absolutely be an excellent adult.  I then go up to my bedroom to study my coaching lesson for track the next day (I help out with a girls’ team).  The topic for the next day is “cyberbullying.”  The girl who sent the ugly text is in my care that afternoon.  The words come, the support is there…everything flows.  Instead of being worried, I just travel through the day.  It  unfolds in a caring manner for all the students involved.

I wake up another morning delightfully thinking about all the upcoming holiday events my children will participate in.  It is a precious time of year for the Little Messengers.  I have been meaning to send those important dates to my mother-in-law.  She is such a great support and gracious Grandma.  I am so grateful she adores my little people as much as I do.  I look at my calendar…Boy Scout Court of Honor, Gymnastics holiday show, but when is my daughter’s piano recital?  I text the music teacher a quick question. Hours later she responds with “The place said no.  I’m stymied and looking for a new venue.”  I happen to have stopped by my church at that moment, helping a friend with some writing.  I check with the secretary…the only date left open for sanctuary use is the date she needs…December 19th.  done. scheduled. We are all blessed!

Life is precious and falling into place.

These are just a few of many Serendipitous moments I am taking in….more than I can ever remember before!! And they are compounding daily.  I think they have always been there…available to me

THE LESSON:  Life is so much about ALLOWING.  I am finally granting these powerful moments to outstretch.  I am only the tiniest part of a greater solution.  And geesh…this is so much easier than trying to solve the worlds’ problems on my own!!  The Universe steps in.  All I have quietly done is become aware.  It is a bit like tuning in to your favorite radio station.  Quite enjoyable.

I am thinking we should all choose Serendipity.

The Gold Thread

Connection.  I believe it is everything.  We are always affecting others…even if we do not see it.  We are either making drops, ripples or waves in the frequency of our linked experience.  There is a thread holding us all together.

I tell my own little messengers it is like a very colorful quilt.  We all have our own square that we decorate and represent.  One fact is certain.  All of the pieces are woven together.  Some fragments are perfectly clean, embellished and yes, oh so fake!  Others are confusing and dark, clouded with turbulence and pain. Other scraps are just plain disgusting and heavily trampled upon. The hopeful luminous sections continue to pulse out little beams of light, regardless.  Why? They have chosen to overcome.  Do you get the picture?  They are all patched together somehow, someway, forever influencing each other.

Okay, so I started this entire thought process with the intention of sharing my experiences as a Substitute Teacher in a public school district.  Geesh!  That is a dreadfully long introduction, but I do believe it may be necessary.  The public classroom is a great representation of the quilt.

Being a sub isn’t for everyone, but I absolutely affectionately ADORE it!!  I definitely thrive on change in order to feel alive, and there is nothing quite like being thrown in to a different situation from day-to-day (I so badly want to say ‘den of wolves’) and attempting to land on my feet.  Although I want peace, I treasure challenges, so being a sub gives me that great opportunity to act fast, set structure quickly, all the while remembering to pause and feel.  I must gather and be attentive to the students…the little people, the crazy ones, the hurt ones, the ignored ones and the disciplined ones. My goal is to get through the lesson plan and actually accomplish maybe 75% of the items that the organized under-paid real teacher has left us for the day.  It always becomes a vividly lumpy most-marvelous ride.

INSIGHTS:  I have great respect for these real teachers.  I have found them to be exquisitely prizes of humanness…people who can actually influence and teach my own little messengers when I cannot.

The most significant thing I have learned from subbing is that the kids I am toughest on, have to draw the line with, thinking they will hate me forever….are the ones that come running for my hugs in the grocery stores.  They go out of their way to introduce me to their mothers and siblings when I am in my sweats and no make-up on.  It is usually in the moments of my self-loathing that they catch me by surprise.  They let me know that I am their little piece of The Gold Thread.

My own kids rarely listen to my oh-so guided words of wisdom.  Therefore, I am always bewildered that the students in the classroom often respond to me.  Wow!! They can hear my voice?  They can feel my cues?  Yes, they certainly can.

Here are some of their responses just this week:

As I unlock the classroom door and peer out my head,  a 2nd grader runs to me in full embrace and exclaims with a big grin “The best substitute ever for all people!” Really?  With a greeting like that…how can it be a bad day?  It cannot.  She is an artsy soul, always drawing, hardly ever working.  She is one I have to harp on to stay on task.  I know her from another school, another year.  I also praise her…I tell her what a wonderful creative person she is.  We are connected through The Gold Thread.

A 7th grade young lady, after witnessing a rough interaction I experience with a boy taller than me, and with more attitude than me, names me Sensei Sorter. Sorter is my last name.  And really, that is all I actually do all day…sort things out.  I impulsively say out loud “Oh no…was I too mean?” …thinking I do not want to play some one-sided Commander Jerkface role in their lives. This quirky clever student gleams at me with respect all day… and the other students start calling me Sensei Sorter, as well. They explain to me that it is a name of great honor and educate me with mind-boggling weighty historical information.  They’ve got me.  I am wrapped around their beating hearts.  They are studying the Middle Ages with their real teacher.  I am humbled.  I listen and receive even more.  After what for me was a tumultuous start, we end up merrily rolling through the day.  I watch them, they compete to impress me with their hard work.  They all want my approval.  It is funny how the day can turn around in a split-second.  I end up grabbing some elementary stickers out of my messy satchel.  If I was prepared I would have brought chocolate.  I roam the room, handing out smiley faces and little red apples and kittens that say “perfect” to super hip 7th Graders.  They love them.  They lighten up.  Even the tough boys put them on their foreheads, their books, their clothes.  They wear them proudly all day.  We are all vibrating through The Gold Thread.

Another strong, smart, sometimes-naughty 3rd-grade boy recognizes me out at the bus line after school. He has red hair, freckles and reminds me of Dennis-The-Menace. I had to evacuate the entire classroom once for him in Kindergarten while the Vice Principal kindly removed his baby-cheeked chair-throwing persona from the area.  He runs up to me, stops and boastfully yells “I have not gotten into trouble once this year!”  I hold up my hand, beam and give him five.  We will always be connected through The Gold Thread.

On Friday (all teachers are in love with Friday), as I walk around the room of a highly-capable class, I notice that two students are giggling.  They are supposed to be answering questions on a Scholastic News worksheet that we just read through together. I notice they are editing the questions with a red pen.  Then my heart melts.  They have noticed the word “substitute” in one of the questions and have eloquently re-designed the entire inquiry to be about me. Instead of the original, “Which phrase is the best substitute for ‘engaged’ as it is used in the article?”…the paper now states “Which is the best substitute?”  The answer is written in, “Mrs. S.”  The article is on the video game Minecraft.  It debates whether or not it is a learning tool.  The neighboring student has written my name in red.  It proclaims “Ms. S.  Minecraft is nothing compared to her.”

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I am speechless.  These children, born of someone else, are all of our little messengers.  How lucky am I to be connected to their little Gold Threads?

Among the Wildflowers

The house is peaceful.  I adore this time….just me, my thoughts, incense burning, Jackson Browne swooning me in the background.  My spirit feels free, alive, open and spacious.  I feel room to be who I am.  I feel simple. Today I am thankful for a greasy breakfast with a mom friend and my running shoes.

I took in the sun piercing through fall leaves of towering trees as I sat in the parking lot waiting to pick up my little messengers from school.  We then drove straight to a familiar booth, snuggling close and eating fresh made-to-order deli sandwiches.  Their silly giggles mixed with the warmth of a nearby sun-lit window announced another amazing day. Next we adventured through our favorite thrift store…trying on endless possibilities of Halloween costumes.  We chuckled and coined our newest term as we absorbed all the clowns, blood and princesses galore, “That is so Halloweeny!”  We were light on our feet, dancing through the aisles.

“And it was fun…”  another famous quote by my son when he was in first grade. These were the three words he added to the end of every page of his language arts journal.  Brilliance I say.  Shouldn’t the journey be embraced?  Isn’t that a spirit we can carry with us every day?

It seems as if all the deep pain from a tainted year has been suddenly removed from my soul.  Gone…Just like that.  Did I heal?  Did all the counseling kick in… or did the right time just pass by?  Perhaps the triggers have been removed.

I feel truly young again.  I am overjoyed with tenderness and care for myself. Yep, I am a pretty cool soul.

I deserve this peace.  I deserve the inner calm.  I am far from perfect, accepting my humble humanness, yet definitely operating on a higher frequency.  What joy it is to be tuned in to the NOW.  For nine months I have been processing the loss of some extended family members…trying to make sense of rejection.  Nine Months.  It just hit me.  Perhaps I was really birthing a new life of my own?

I know there is much work to be done from here in my own sweet family of four. We must learn to effectively communicate again.  2015-04-04 002

I must admit it feels more like a treasured gift than a chore.  It is some sort of valuable awakening.  Something went horribly wrong this year. However I know somewhere deep inside that we will glide through this growth period, soaring like eagles..rising up.

I recently picked flowers from my neglected summer garden, delivering a wild bouquet of goodness to my dear neighbor.  As we sat on her porch, sharing stories of our daily grind, two eagles flew directly over our path.  We both stopped in pure silence, feeling the depth of the moment.

We belong among the wildflowers, in a place we feel free.

Little Messengers

Meet my little messengers.  These two remind me daily of what breathing is really about.  We must be like a child…have fun…embrace the moments…laugh during the crazy!!  In fact, during the crazy is when our spirits shine bright!  And sometimes….it is going to get tough…I mean really ugly tough… like a 2-year-old overly tired, just ate a whole bag of Halloween candy, melt down kind of awful.

INSIGHTS:  You are not going to get your way.  Nope.  In fact, you are going to fall flat on your face, sobbing out of desperation. You are going to realize that while parts of you have advanced and evolved…other parts of you are totally dirty, grimy and absolutely broken.  You might think for a second (or even a few days) that your world is over..it has been washed away.  The absolutely unexpected nightmare has happened.  Even worse, you allowed it…you probably even caused it.  It comes in the form of BADNESS, a term coined by my son in pre-school after days on end of not fitting into the rules box.  (ie.  “How did it go today?”  “Oh Mom, there was a lot of badness.”)  All of the sudden you will be forced to surrender.  The white flag goes up and it is waving like a bloody soldier at the gates of hell…you will realize that you are certainly more than slightly fucked up.  Guess what?  The jig is up, the news it out, it is finally over.  Oh yes, and songs from your youth will sound through your head in earth shattering rhythyms, sung by choirs of angels in white robes… every lesson flashing through your mind at mega speed.  And then…

Everything will stop.  The silence will be as if time is standing still.  You will still be breathing.  Everything will suddenly halt, like you just pulled the reigns on a wild horse that was fighting in a no-win battle.  It doesn’t feel right, you have lost control… but it sure is a relief.  YOU HAVE ARRIVED IN THE EVER PRESENT MOMENT.  AND NOW THE MAGIC CAN BEGIN.

As a family of 4 we are passing through a storm, or perhaps letting go of the storms inside of us – My hubby and I  each fighting our own battles.  We are separate.  We must learn how to reconnect.  Start over…and from where?

One thing I know for sure is these little creatures may have come from us physically, but they were sent to us in spirit form.  My son tells me last night, “Mom, you know that I would have still been your son in any marriage.”  I giggle back, “What? Are you sure?”  Calmly and as reassuring as the Universe stepping down and speaking to me, he says, “Oh I am quite sure…I just would have looked different.”  Then my daughter pipes in “Yes, and I think I came for Dad.”  Well, this makes perfect sense, yes perfect sense indeed.  I remember dreaming of this very life.

As a little girlOne of eachall I ever dreamed of was becoming a mother. I have clear recollection of a moment in time..I can still feel it as if it were yesterday. I was probably six or seven, playing in my backyard (which was a 280-acre ranch) and I visualized my future.  I pictured a house I would live with my one true love…it had a white picket fence, white washed paint, a big covered porch.  It was in the country, had acreage and most importantly,  the breeze was soft and safe. I can still see this image perfectly, and I can certainly feel it.  It is not the exact house I live in. The one I now reside in with these two precious kiddos is similar…only better.  It is not white and blank – it is full of color, art, laughter, tears, grace, relaxation, work, friends, and certainly life!   I had always cast aside this image from my youth as a ‘normal young girl’s dream’ of having a family. I even blamed society for putting that image in my head.  For years I thought I missed my calling, chasing jobs, achievement, recognition.

Today I know that this beautiful peaceful scene was a small glimpse of all that was meant to be.  I am first and forever a wife and mother.  I am doing my best to care for the emotional and physical well being of my four peeps.  I have it all….at least I hope I still do.  Perhaps I used to.  I am alive and not that well.  My life is kind of messy and real, beautiful and surreal, in the most vulnerable authentic way any dream could ever be.  And I am wide awake.  I hope we can adjust our sails, drop our anchor and find the safe and breezy place we all deserve.