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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Healing and the Two Sides of Change


A thick and frigid, wintry haze blocked the sunrise and dampened my spirit as I drove to work this morning.
Bob Segar’s, Turn the page suddenly penetrated my yawns, sighs, and sense of dread.
I was taken back to my teenage years, to a night when two boys and two girls were doing things they shouldn’t have been, and then many months later a date to see the man himself in concert.
It was my first concert that brought me home from college and I’ll never forget how the crowd went wild begging Bob to sing this favorite tune.
As I listened to the lyrics this morning, I thought about how I was undergoing so many changes during that time of my life, how most of us transform during those in-between years where we’re no longer a kid yet not quite an adult.
Each day we are turning the pages of our hopes, dreams, relationships, and wisdom…
Sometimes that change is scary as we navigate through the dark underbrush of the unknown…
Other times that change is exhilarating as we anticipate what is yet to come.
Too often we resist change, bracing against it begrudgingly, as if it were something bad or counterproductive.
It’s amazing, though, how quickly we lean into the comforts of change, once we stop pushing against it.
My work with The Five Facets Philosophy is in the midst of undergoing major changes, Journeyer!
I’ve spent the past year trying to find someone to help me with some of the technical programming stuff with my website and the blog…
I’ve reached out to a number of designers who have never responded to my inquiry, which made change scary, frustrating, and disheartening.
That all changed last week when someone got back to me with a “Yes!”
We’re turning the pages, literally!
I’ll be on hiatus for the next couple of weeks to give the developer a chance to do his work without interference.
Next time you see us we’ll have a brand new look!
What about you, Journeyer, how do you approach change? Does it energize or inhibit you?
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
      ~AE

Monday, February 23, 2015

Clarity, Joy, Wisdom



Happy Monday, Journeyer!

I’m totally exhausted, the good kind of fatigue that follows an emotional high.
It was another full week filled with appointments and preparations; but thankfully we had the week off, which gave me so much more productive time.
Big Guy had a college visit on Monday and Tuesday. Check out this old barn along the route. It’s a structure that I’ve been dreaming of owning for more than twenty years. Wouldn’t she make a great retreat location for The Five Facets workshops?


Big Guy also had surgery to remove all four of his wisdom teeth on Wednesday. The timing just wasn’t going to work during the spring and summer breaks with the activities he already has planned. I spent that day tending to my boy’s needs.
Big Guy’s reaction when coming out from under anesthesia

I’m so happy that my last not-so-little-anymore youngest is excited about going away to college and is taking a lead role in figuring out what he wants to do.
I’ve said so many times to all three of my cherubs that “I’m so glad the universe picked me to be your mom.” Not that we haven’t experienced some typical teenage angst, but for the most part our children have been pretty easy to raise.
I consider myself blessed.
Speaking of the universe and blessings, I spent a good deal of the week preparing for Saturday’s speech.

Beauty and her roommate came in Thursday night so they could attend the event, and though my daughter didn’t want to let me practice with her as an audience (she wanted to be surprise), she set up this little menagerie of folk for me to rehearse in front of.
She was born with a remarkably creative mind.
My daughter also took a big leap of faith and rose above one of her fears. I’m honored that she decided to include me in this little bit of growth…
I am still having a hard time wrapping my brain around the many wonderful and inspirational people I met this weekend and the topics…so much to reflect on…to digest…a few things I want to study further and a few people I want to continue to stay in touch with…
The themes were pretty consistent: Fear and Courage, Perseverance, Spirituality, Connection, and Clarity about what we want from life and a few resources to help us get there…
These are some of the people that inspired me to fatigue!
Alex Thomson


Nicole Bondellio


Ruth Goodwin


Kim, Annah, Diva, Bonnie

One of the other recurring mentions as we speakers talked was the notion that if there were just one person in the audience who needed to hear what we had to say, then our work had been successful, that we’d accomplished making a change in the world.
I met my “one” as I was leaving the after-event gathering. I was headed to the door when a girl thanked me for my messages, pointed to one of her friends at the table and said, “She needed to hear what you had to say today. She could literally spend hours one-on-one with you.” The other two girls chimed in with agreement.
Missy, Kelly, Katrina, Melissa (My One)

I stopped to chat, and as I asked a few questions, The One told me how my stories and the message that we can’t possibly prepare for every potential problem resonated with her because she and her hubby are about to leave their teenage children alone for the first time in their lives. The parents are taking a trip to Ireland (if memory serves me right) and due to a passport snafu, the children are going to have to stay behind with a relative.
This mom had some very valid concerns and a few that she recognized as causing her a great deal of stress and conflict about going away, strife that was sucking the joy out of her and her husband’s impending trip.
Somehow, I helped diffuse some of this neighbor’s angst during my twelve minutes on the stage.
I began the speech by talking about a childhood dream of changing the world by ending hate, injustice, and suffering. For years I was held back because I dreamt about literally changing the world on a global scale.
But in recent years I’ve come to view my impact a little like the joke “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
How do you change the world? One person at a time.
During the intermission, four people stopped to chat with me, three who purchased my book and shared a little of their stories, and the fourth a professor at a local college. As karma goes, she’s someone who a mutual friend had suggested I reach out to almost two years ago; she believed my work with The Five Facets would be of interest. After I received no return contact, I figured it was a dead end and I had to keep moving forward as opposed to sitting and waiting.
The second she mentioned her school affiliation, I had a hunch, one that was validated when I asked her her name. Turns out she was on sabbatical for a year and never received my correspondences.

I don’t know if anything further will come of our chance meeting, but I do know this: the world works in truly mysterious and magical ways.
The two amazing gals who put together this incredible event chose Clarity Connects as the event theme because they believe that connection and clarity are two of the things that will help us get in touch with our best selves.

One of the speakers, who also became my ground during my speech, offered everyone in the audience a bag of stones from which we could draw one…
I drew one during Thursday’s rehearsal which said, “Joy.” Ruth told me to be sure to draw one on Saturday, too. As I rummaged in the bag, one particular stone seemed to choose me. Its challenge couldn’t have been any more poignant given the place I’m at right now with The Five Facets Philosophy: Trust your wisdom.

That inspiration not only lifted me up, Journeyer, it tied everything together…clarity, joy, wisdom…
The week ended with a few glasses of Margarita and camaraderie to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

What about you, Journeyer, what moments brought you a little clearness, happiness, or inspirational awareness this past week? Share your thoughts and spread a little joy!
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
      ~AE

Friday, February 20, 2015

Healing and the Two Sides of Compassion


Today, I am a proud part of something that is sweeping the blogosphere.
It began with one writer discussing her need, her desire for emotional and physical support her in adulthoodlamenting how that proverbial Village disappears as we transition from childhood to adolescence and then into that Grown-Up state.
One of my greatest supporters, a writer whom I’ve never met and don’t even know her name, suggested this event to me and me to the organizers.
Live by Surprise often brings me pleasant surprises like this, what first began as an expected, albeit most timely, positive comment on one of my posts.
And then another, and another, and another…
Liv, as I’ve come to think of her, is one of my village’s chiefs, a leader who seems to be everywhere, watching, encouraging, nudging, and providing a strong, silent sort of embrace, just when I need it.
Thank you, Liv.
As my crazy week has unfolded, this #1000Speak for compassion event has been in the back of my mind.
Numerous ideas have come and gone…
Now, as the time is upon me, I sit at my desk, tired, exhausted, a little bit stressed about this speech I’m going to rehearse in a few short hours and then present in front of nearly two-hundred people in two days…
My head pounded and my eyes throbbed in their sockets as I opened this file, and all I could think about was that if I didn’t get this post written, I’d be missing this window of opportunity, I’d be letting down the people who believed in me, in my ability to write about compassion, how I live compassion, and what compassion means to me.
The #1000Speak homepage lists one definition of compassion as the “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”
A few other thoughts they list on the subject include “kindness, love, caring, non-judgment, self-love.”
Pardon me for a second while I do a little jig because I just noticed the global date for this live event is February 20…which means the universe has just gifted me with another thirty hours to write, edit, and post this piece!
Shit…pardon my French, but I feel better already!
Okay…I’m back…a little more rested, and a little less stressed about tomorrow’s speech.
Beauty and her college roommate came in late last night to attend the speaking event. Today I treated us all to manicures. I have horribly brittle nails that are constantly splitting and tearing, so I indulged in some lengthening gel nails.
Self-love. What Pam Luttrell and I would call an act that says I Matter.
That’s the part of compassion I want to talk about today.
So many of us spend a great deal of time offering compassion to others. We offer forgiveness, understanding, patience, empathy, love.
We pardon their trespasses, accept their flaws, love without judgment, we hold space and offer hugs when times are tough.
We console, reassure, encourage, and lift up those in our lives.
And we do these things completely and with the greatest of kindnesses.
But when it comes to our self?
Too often we chastise our mistakes, loathe our faults, judge our middle-aged bellies and laugh-lines, and we pressure ourselves to be Super Human.
Counselor Hank used to call it The Hammer. “Put down the hammer, Annah,” he’d say when I wasn’t treating myself with the same courtesies I afford others.
I’ve share that analogy with so many others in an effort to encourage them to exercise personal compassion.
I have to work very hard to remember to remind myself.
But I’m getting better at it, Journeyer. You see, I’ve learned that when we don’t fill ourselves up with compassion, there is much less of it to go around.
As we visit our neighboring tribes in the coming days, please let’s remember that we, too, are a member of the village and that we deserve the same considerations and compassions we afford others…
Let us honor the I in compassion…
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
      ~AE

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love is...


Happy Sunday, Journeyer!
Do you have a Love hangover today?
All I can say is I’m glad the best cure for a hangover is “the hair of the dog that bit ya,” ‘cause I’ve got one more meme to add to the mix…

Love is the warmth that fills our insides when we give to others…
Love is the warmth that fills our insides when we receive from others…
Love is the warmth that fills our insides when the giving and receiving is directed to Self…
Love is the electricity that courses through our veins with that first kiss…
Love is the flutter that courses through our veins with that last kiss…
Love is the awe that fills the space of our breath when we first lay eyes on a newborn…
Love is the ache that fills the space of our breath when death alights on our doorstep…
Love is a lifetime of days strung together, sometimes consecutive…sometimes interrupted…
If we choose to acknowledge her, Love is the continuum that is eternal life…

Love fed my happy this week, Journeyer…
Love…spending time with Warren and Big Guy on our weekly dinner out to support Project Graduation…

Love…playing cyber games with family and friends…

Love…watching Warren’s eyes light up when he beats my mother at Words with Friends…
Love…applying lotion and care to my entire, fifty-pounds-heavier body…
Love…taking time to play…and time to work on my dreams and goals…
Love…comforting neighbors who grieve…
Love...taking care of my tired self by hunkering down on the sofa with a mug of hot tea filled with Emergen-C…
Love…nominating a few writers that inspire me for the VIBA…
Love…a nice, long chat with Fave about nothing and everything…
Love…Beauty is coming to watch my upcoming talk…
Love…preparing a Valentine’s breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and heart-shaped waffles…

Love…Hubby and I choosing the same gift card theme…
Warren and a few friends loving refer to me as Squirrel...
Love…celebrating with homemade chicken parmesan, herb potatoes, cheesy biscuits, a bottle of wine, and the movie Couples’ Retreat
 What about you, Journeyer?
What moments filled your happy organ this past week? Share something that touched your heart and spread some love!
And one final note, Journeyer. If you love the inspiration you find here, please join our neighborhood. It’s the place where we receive inspiration from our neighbors and share the same. When you sign up you’ll receive a FREE digital poster with ten of my top power mantras and our FREE monthly newsletter, morsels designed to feed your soul and fuel your inspiration.
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
      ~AE

Friday, February 13, 2015

Healing and the Two Sides of Inspiration

Happy Thursday-Friday, Journeyer!
I had a different topic slated for today, but then I received an exciting comment from blogger Live by Surprise.
I’m surprised, humbled, and oh so happy to be have been nominated as a Very Inspirational Blogger this week!

Liv’s comments on my blog posts are always one of my week’s happy highlights and I’m just plum tickled pink to be included in her list.
I am inspired by her story to rise above a painful divorce and ongoing troubles with her ex; it takes a great deal of heart, hope, and healing to keep moving forward in the face of such adversity.
In the same way she says I inspire her, she inspires me.
That is the two sides of inspiration, Journeyer, sometimes we are the inspirer and sometimes we are the inspired.
I’ve met so many kind, compassionate, and creatively genius people in this blogosphere! Please join me in sharing some of my favorites.
The Rules:
Thank the person who nominated you, and link to their blog. (check)
Display the award logo (check)
Nominate 15 (or so) other bloggers and provide a link where they may be found.
Go to their blog, leave a comment to let them know they have been nominated.
Mention three things that inspired you the most during the past few weeks.
Wow…every blog I visit moves me in some way, and though I’m not able to read as much as I’d like, there are a few who I always enjoy hunkering down on my sofa to catch up with…
An old favorite, and one of the first connections I made after I started blogging, DAWolf over at Daily Plate of Crazy has her own smorgasbord going at her site; from fun to familiar, joyous to juicy, and everything in between, you’re sure to find something to stimulate your brain and tickle your fancy!
Angela over at The Reluctant Grandmother inspires me in so many ways, but mostly in the way she’s moving through her grief journey with grace, hope, and happiness, encouraging others by sharing the richness of her grief and her healing…
Midlife Boulevard. What can I say? Sharon and Ann are forces to be reckoned with. In a short period of time these two women have created an empire, a space that gives voice to a generation that is very different from our middle-aged predecessors.
Carol Cassara always gives me something to reflect on or some adventure I can live vicariously in through her!
Lana over at Two Teens and Their Mama has this gentle quality to her writing, a style that always manages to bring a sense of peace when I’m able to pop in and catch up on her latest stories.
Pam Luttrell over at Over50Feeling40 has been transforming her life and inspiring countless others along the way, from her weekly I Matter column, to her weight loss success, to honing in on her brand, she’s got it all going on!
I also love the way Glennon Melton of Momastery is able to make us feel like she’s sitting in the room right next to me. I am in awe of her ability to draw readers in like long lost friends…
There are others, Journeyer, but it’s now way past my bedtime. That alarm is going to sound might early!
Finally…it’s now Friday evening and I’m able to put the finishing touches on this post and hit the submit button…
Three things that have inspired me in the past few weeks? Commitment to myself: Continuing to carry on my weekly #HappyHappens column, managing to continue to squeeze in a second weekly post, finishing The Five Facets Philosophy brochures…
Watching the girls behind this awesome event break down barriers and spread such infectious enthusiasm!
Pick any one of the recent posts from the blogs listed above…
May you always know the two sides of inspiration, Journeyer…
Before you go… Have you? Joined our neighborhood? This is the place where we receive inspiration from our neighbors and share the same. When you sign up you’ll receive a FREE digital poster of ten of my top power mantras and our FREE monthly newsletter, morsels designed to feed your soul and fuel your inspiration.
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
      ~AE

Monday, February 9, 2015

Chocolate is Salad, Happiness is a Smorgasbord



Happy Sunday, Journeyer!
Right now, we’re returning from an out-of-town trip for Big Guy.
I have to say that in this moment, as Warren drives through intermittent freezing rain and snow, I’m grateful that my boy doesn’t have use of his license right now.
Chuckle… I guess there really are two sides to nearly every emotion…
My youngest was driving a little too fast on the way to school one morning, which culminated in a speeding ticket. New York law says if you receive a speeding violation before you turn eighteen, your license is suspended. In my boy’s case, for sixty days.
He’s one involved young man, which means Warren and I have been very busy playing taxi again.
I really liked my own independence that came with my child’s freedom. Though being Mom Driver again has been a little hectic and requires me to once again sit and wait in parking lots, I can say it’s been a little more palatable because Big Guy hasn’t taken our time for granted.
Ice is forming on the windshield and frozen crystals are glistening in the headlights. Right now I’m happy that my young man isn’t making the hour long trip alone.
I’m also happy for technology and shared responsibility. Warren and I each have Sunday projects to attend, so we decided we’d both go, allowing us to tag team and then to enjoy a dinner out.
I wish I’d taken a photo, but if you ever been to a Cracker Barrel you know just how warm and cozy that big old fireplace was tonight.
Even better than the food and the fireplace was this little bit of fun I found in the gift shop.

“Chocolate comes from cocoa. That makes it a plant. Chocolate is salad.”

This logic is downright hilarious and reminds me of those DirecTV commercials, which Warren says remind him of me and the way I think.
Happiness is a bit like that salad, random and filled with a wide assortment of ingredients, like a smorgasbord that includes your favorite foods.
Other moments that fed my happy organ include the completion of many, many tasks and goals…
I was honored to be a guest on the Good Grief Radio show with host Cheryl Jones. Honestly, talking with her felt like I was chatting with a long lost friend.
I designed and ordered brochures for The Five Facets Philosophy and finally finalized some ongoing copyright problems pertaining to my memoir, Digging for the Light.



Speaking of my book, I felt a great deal of joy realizing that this week marks the one-year anniversary of her release and the one year anniversary of my TEDx Talk, “The Power of ‘What if?’  
It’s amazing how much can happen in such a relatively short period of time!
I created the Powerpoint presentation for my upcoming speech, sent out some long-overdue thank you cards, mailed a few pay-it-forward surprises, took care of some Project Graduation details, managed to reduce the clutter in my office by actually throwing out a few things, and almost finished pulling together the information for this year’s income tax return.
That, Journeyer, is probably one of the highlights of my week because I’ve been a little anxious about the tax stuff as I’ve never had to deal with a start-up business before. I felt a great sense of accomplishment to discover that my records are in pretty good shape and that I had a better understanding of how I needed to organize the materials than I thought I did…
Two other things that always top my happy list are time with my family and music.
Most of the time when I’m belting out song lyrics, I’m behind the wheel of a car, which means I rarely have the chance to make notations that I can come back to for this weekly column.
I was able to jot down these two titles in the past few days. Paul McCartney’s Listen to What the Man Said and The Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother is one that seems to fully fill up the space around me, as if the finest surround system is set to high volume.
So true, isn’t it? Love is blind and it will grow if we allow it…and…
We’re all brothers and sisters, aren’t we Journeyer? I love the beauty that happens when we work together, when we take turns bearing the load, sometimes the carrier…other times the one being carried…


Yesterday I enjoyed watching Big Guy compete in a school trivia contest, and I had several delightful conversations with Beauty and Fave throughout the week.
Then there’s this beautiful little handmade gem of jewelry. Isn’t it beautiful? I’m going to feel like a million bucks when I give that speech in a few weeks…every little detail helps to curb the nerves!

One of the most exhilarating parts of my week included the framing of the very first concept design of The Five Facets Philosophy. This event was made even sweeter when I used the $50 gift certificate I won in a Midlife Boulevard giveaway! These gals have a wagonload of sisters, all taking turns carrying one another down the boulevard of midlife. Check out the many great things they are doing and writing about!

Journeyer, I had a little bit of a glitch while writing this piece. You see, this thought crossed my mind, Why would anyone want to read about the details of my week? It kind of felt a little, I don’t know…over-indulgent?
But the definition of hedonistic best describes why I do this. This practice is definitely “a devotion, especially a self-indulgent one, to pleasure and happiness as a way of life.”
This column is a way to encourage us all to pay homage to those fleeting moments that bring a smile to our face or warmth to our heart.
Join me, Journeyer? Share one of your week’s happy moments in the comment below.
And lastly…have you? Joined our neighborhood? This is the place where we are neighbors in grief and allies in healing, the place we take turns carrying one another on our journey to living our best life, even in the face of adversity. When you sign up I’ll send you a FREE digital poster of ten of my top power mantras and our FREE monthly newsletter, morsels designed to feed your soul and fuel your inspiration.
Until we meet again, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,
      ~AE

Oh, yes… Candy Crush…after a month-long battle, I’ve finally beaten Level 452…tenacity, Journeyer…never give up… ;)