Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Joy and Pain

Prompt: Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?
Prompt Author: Brené Brown
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
@brenebrown



I remember "playing" with my son in my sister's pool this summer and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it.  It was an above ground pool and my sister had to remind us over and over again that we couldn't be too active or it might fall apart!  So we made up games and I timed him to see how long he could hold his breath under water and we existed together, quietly, while we floated on rafts.  These are the times I hold dear to my heart.




Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.
Prompt Author: Tara Sophia Mohr
The Women's Seder Sourcebook: Rituals & Readings for Use at the Passover Seder
@tarasophia




I know it sounds cliche, but I really want to achieve balance, physically.  I want to learn how to find that happy medium where my body can handle some sort of activity that will benefit my mind, body, and soul every day. 

Too often, I either feel like I'm too stagnant or I am overdoing it.  And with my physical condition, overdoing it can lead to days, if not weeks, of needing to be inactive to heal.  This is such a frustrating cycle and it often throws me off course.  I believe I would feel like I could accomplish a lot more if I could count on my body feeling something of an equilibrium of wellness.

10 Things:
- go off of the painkillers (except for surgeries) so that I can listen to my body in a more authentic way
- yoga regularly
- listen to my body when it has had enough (easier said than done)
- walk - 20 minutes seems to be my "middle", where I can find that equilibrium; it's so easy to want to push myself to do more, though.  I used to be a runner and loved the feeling I would get after a great run.
- push myself to do something creative every day- even if that means just "mindless" doodling in my journal for five minutes
- some sort of positive affirmations of health and wellness before falling asleep and immediately upon awakening, such as "I am feeling whole" or "I am pain free"
- meditation, maybe one kind (intention, mantra, or mindfulness based, etc) in the morning and a different kind in the evening
- writing down my goals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly)
- continue going to therapy
- eating better- I eat pretty well, but know I could cut out a lot more sugar and preservatives (oh, chocolate, why do I love you so???)

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.







Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mmmmmmmmm

Prompt: Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?
Prompt Author: Elise Marie Collins
An A-Z Guide to Healing Foods: A Shopper's Reference
@mysticflavor



Two words:
Fro. Yo.




this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Smile, My Self

Prompt: Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Prompt Author: Tracey Clark
Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters' Guide to Shooting from the Heart
@shuttersisters


I hate, hate, HATE having my picture taken.  I have two extremely photogenic sisters and tend to "freeze up" whenever there is a photo op.

Two weeks after having my right hip replaced, I got on a Greyhound to visit my son for his Fall Break.  It had been a couple of years since I had seen any of my friends in Indianapolis, so I made it a point to see a few of them at a park in my son's neighborhood while I was in town. 

 I wanted to get a pic of all of us together, so my son offered to take the photo.  He knows how I feel about cameras and tries to get candids of me from time to time.  He snapped this one in between "takes" and I didn't notice it until I got home a few days later.

I love that I'm smiling, laughing at something one of us said, and that my son was there with us to capture it all.  I have missed my friends so much and forgot what a great support they were to me while I was living there.  They were like a family to me and upon seeing them again, it was like no time had passed.

Laughing and smiling is how I like to roll, though I don't always have that opportunity (especially living alone).  But this is how I see myself- without the awkwardness, with love and laughter in my heart, and surrounded by some of the best people I know.

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Relief

Prompt: Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Prompt Author: Kate Inglis
The Dead Crew
@sweetsalty



 My cotton tank is clinging to my back- it's one of those muggy midwest summer nights where the air is so thick you think it might just choke you.

Really it's morning, 2am, and strands of hair are stuck to my face, adhered with salty tears and sweat.  I'm sitting on the back porch steps; I just needed to get outside so I could cry freely. 

It is silent except for the occasional gasps of air I need to keep going.  I don't think anything is going to make this hurt in my heart go away; it feels heavy, deep, damaged.  The tears won't stop, and I have no tissue.  It's just me and the crickets.

Just then, out of nowhere, a small gust of wind carries a lone honeysuckle flower and gently lands the small blossom into my open, bare and outstretched hands. 

There is a pause and slowly, profoundly, my heart begins to open up and soften.

I feel relief.  And I know everything is going to be okay.

*This happened when I was sixteen.  I managed to keep that honeysuckle blossom with me for fifteen years until it got lost in one of my many moves in life.  At first, I was broken apart by the loss until I realized that I will have the memory, and the story, and the feeling, of that night forever.

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm Emily, Nice to Meet You

Prompt: New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?
Prompt Author: Becca Wilcott
Truly, Madly, Deadly: The Unofficial True Blood Companion
@beccawilcott

I took a walk today.  My apartment is just a few blocks from the home I grew up in, but the neighborhoods are worlds apart.  Feeling a bit nostalgic today and took some crappy cell phone pics, but I'm totally including them:


I already feel like I've been so many different versions of myself:

In elementary school and junior high, I was the ethnic minority and my family probably earned in the top 5% compared to my classmates.
jungle gym at my elementary school

In high school, I was in the ethnic majority, but my family probably earned in the lower 5% compared to my classmates.
my childhood home
I know, right?!?

In college, again, I was in the ethnic majority, but my family fell somewhere in the middle as far as finances go.

In college.2, I was ethnically somewhere in the middle, technically impoverished, and raising a son on my own; we had food stamps and medicaid.  Miraculously, I graduated with a 3.7.

For a while, in my professional life, I didn't make a whole lot (I was a teacher), but I could finally pay my bills without having to borrow money or rely on government assistance.

Now, I'm impoverished again due to my disability, and am again on food stamps and medicaid.  For the past couple of years, I have been ashamed of this- no longer.

winter sky and the city hall halfway between my childhood home and my current apartment

I am choosing to live without shame.  I'm someone who works hard- really hard.  I do what I can, and unfortunately, now, I have to learn how to live with my limitations (and even challenge those limitations sometimes).

All of these situations have made me who I am today. I am grateful for all of them; without them, I don't think I'd be able to empathize with many people and I really enjoy connecting with all kinds of souls, despite my hermit ways.

My name is Emily, it's nice to meet you.  I've been in many different financial situations.  Ethnically, I am who I am- that should be plenty.  I have a heart of gold (and it's very, very soft on the inside) but don't even think about messing with my family; I believe in karma.  I'm not perfect and I'm tired of trying to be (so I'm going to stop).  I do my best and I have dreams and aspirations just like all of you.  I will never stop trying to figure things out- it's in my blood, in my soul.  I am a truth seeker.

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travel

Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
Prompt Author: Tara Hunt
The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business
@missrogue




Ode to Greyhound
Pushed aside, I stand firmly with my cane.

I've been waiting in this line for over an hour.

My knees are sore, my hips burn, and my elbow is stiff.

Still, I grasp my cane with swollen fingers and move forward in the line.

A lady old enough to be my grandmother cusses me out and tells me I wasn't in line. (wtf?)

The driver greets me less than enthusiastically and asks for my ticket; when I give him the envelope, he scoffs and asks me to get out the piece he needs. 

 I balance my cane against my hip- it falls, and no one offers to pick it up.  I carefully balance my overstuffed backpack on my shoulders and bend down slowly to retrieve my support.

I hear heavy sighing by now from those behind me, but I remain calm.  I manage to get my ticket out of the envelope and he gives it back almost as soon as he takes it.  I wheel my suitcase over to the luggage compartment and once again get bumped from behind from someone who is apparently in more of a hurry than the rest of us.

Slowly, I make my way up the three steep stairs and find that, despite being one of the first in line, the seat with extra leg room is taken.  And it smells like chicken and farts.

I find a seat, and settle in; I know it will be okay.  For in four and a half hours, I will see my favorite person in the world.

Aside from the pain, rudeness, and smells, I also know how fortunate I am that I am able to make this trip a few times a year.  I live on a fixed income, and extra cash is hard to come by, but somehow, some way (usually through the generosity of my family), I am able to purchase this ticket every now and then.  For that, I am grateful.

Now... if people could just stop farting on the damn bus!  The windows don't open, people.

Next year, I hope to be fortunate enough to make that same trip more often.  I missed one of his concerts for the first time this year, and hate that I wasn't there- I'm his mom.

Oh yeah, and a trip to a tropical island with someone who is tall, dark, and handsome would be pretty fantabulous as well!

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Note to Younger Self

This is in response to the last prompt's bonus question: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?
Prompt Author: Jenny Blake
Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want
@jenny_blake




Let's see.  Ten years ago, I was going through a separation/divorce and my son was two at the time:

Dear Younger Emily (23),
This is one of the hardest things you will have to deal with in this lifetime, but by no means, THE hardest.  You are doing the right thing for everyone involved, so just remember that when the doubt and second-guessing comes in to play.  Sweep the guilt and the shame out the front door, too; they are not welcome playmates in this game and serve no purpose.

Your son will be okay.  It's okay to wonder "how would things have turned out if I had stayed?"  It's healthy to wonder such things, but don't dwell on them.  Let him know he is loved, and that a house full of love is how you want him to grow up.  If that means two houses of love, then that is better than one house fraught with anger, resentment, and fear.  He will find that, one day, that means more people in his life to love and who love him. 

You are about to start a job that you will LOVE and it will lead you in the direction your heart has been yearning to follow for some time now.  You will meet wonderful people and make life-long friends at this job who will support you far beyond this time of separation.  They will cradle you in the hard times, laugh with you in the good times, and share with you in abundant times.

Sometimes "survival mode" is what you need to be in to live through certain events.  You may be in it for some time, but the relationships you forge in the future are so worth it.  Believe it or not, you will be friends with your ex-husband and his new wife; they will even invite you into their home to stay when you need a place to sleep.

Your son will prove to be a most intuitive boy and have many lessons to teach you in life- one of those being a choice you must make for the best interest of his well-being.  You will have to make a heart wrenching decision in 2007 that no mother should be forced to make, but knowing that you are doing the right thing for your child will give you some relief.  However, every tear you shed over this decision heals you in some way.

Stay strong; I know you are tired of holding it together.  Take time to heal in between jobs, school, and raising your beautiful son.  If you neglect yourself, things may get worse.  Believe in yourself; you have talent and you have heart.  Those two things go a long way.  Your emotional and sensitive soul tends to take things very hard- each "thing" that you take has something to teach you.  Don't numb out- listen.  And listen well.

Yours Truly,
Older Emily (33)

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying: I will try again tomorrow." Mary Anne Radmacher

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Honor the Darkness

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)
Prompt Author: Jenny Blake
Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want
@jenny_blake

As I sit here on the Winter Solstice, after a much needed good cry, I have been contemplating this question in relationship to my older self and what advice I may give to 33 year old me in the year to come:



Dear Emily,
Honor the darkness.  When it comes, hold it, sit with it, cry if need be, and let it surface.  The soul needs the dark to appreciate light, fully.  These emotions, these raw and sometimes scary feelings, need to be acknowledged, no matter how hard it is to hear them.  Listen, for they have a story to tell.

Honor the seasons; I know Summer is your favorite because darkness scares you, and when Spring's light and warmth touch your skin and seep down to your muscles, joints, and bones, you feel renewed.  Summer follows Spring's rebirth and brings you more light in your night owl adventures.  But after Summer, Fall arrives, to give you a rest.  Flow with the falling leaves and rest your weary bones, for hibernation is soon upon us, and you want to be comfortable.  Comfort comes in many forms.

You have tried to ignore Winter for far too long- most of your life, actually.  But Winter teaches us to care for ourselves in a different way.  The cold air forces us to bundle up and find ways to stay warm; take this opportunity to address the ways in which you need to feel cozy and nurtured.  Stop looking for nurturance to come from outside sources- it's there, within you.  That is why this season comes.

Hold yourself.  Wrap up in a warm, fuzzy blanket.  Drink tea.  Light a candle.  Honor this darkness.  Honor all sides of your soul.  Honor yourself for the courage you have had to bear.  Go, and live your life with grace, dignity, and confidence, for you are a tender soul who can brave any storm and come out shining.  Shine on.

Love,
Older, Wiser Emily;)


*I think the letter to myself from now to ten years ago may deserve a separate post.  It will come when I'm ready to go there.


this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beyond Making the Art

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
Prompt Author: Jake Nickell
The Threadless Book
@skaw


I'm pretty sure, for me, this goes back to my art.  I have this paralyzing fear/terror that no one will like it.  When my sister feels that way about her photography or the handbags she makes, I often tell her she is silly for thinking such  things!  I think they are fantastic and that she is extremely talented.  But I also totally empathize with her on her fears because I have a lot of the same ones.

I suppose we all have fears that manifest in one way or another- especially us creative types!  When we create, it is often from the soul, and that is scary to put yourself out there like that.  A lot of Reverbers are writers (I, in no way, claim to be!) and I think their writing is fantastic, but I often hear about people being scared to push that "Publish" button.

I tend to go over my post with a quick scan for grammatical and spelling errors but rarely "re-write" or "edit" anything (much like Brooke Farmer).  I like for my writing to be raw and emotional and even boring sometimes because that is how my life is.  Writing, for me, is just kind of an extension of a basic human need, for me.  But for some reason, art can become so scary to put out there.  Hmmm.  I gotta' explore that more, I guess. 

So I suppose my point here is that if I'm that resistant to something that I know would only be good for me, I think I need to try it.  I need to stop avoiding the excuses, face them head on, and tackle this monster so it becomes less scary to me.  Okay, 2011, I guess you will be the year of the heART.  Shit.  I'm scared.


this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Healing and Trying


Prompt: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Prompt Author: Leoni Allan
2011 Creating Your Goddess Year
@GoddessLeoni

I'm just not going to go there with the "physical" healing part of this because I'm having a really bad pain day.  So I'm going to go with physical's counterpart, "emotional" for this post.  Many would say that they are intertwined and connected, and I totally agree.  However, no matter how much "work" I do on the emotional stuff, it really doesn't seem to be affecting how I feel physically.  So, having addressed that part of it...

Saying good-bye to a former boyfriend this year was part of my emotional healing.  I won't get into all the facts of it because facts don't even begin to cover the subtle nuances of any given relationship.  Also, if I just gave the facts, you all might be prompted to say things like, "Why the hell did you stay with him for so long?", and "That must have been really hard!" and I'm not looking for judgement or sympathy.  I would also feel inclined to acknowledge my own shortcomings in the relationship, and trust me, my journal knows those all too well.  No need to rehash them here.  Let's just say that emotionally, I'm glad that relationship is over and I think we're both better off without each other.

Another part of my emotional healing would be re-committing to life, in general.  I had all but given up on any sort of  "normal" life.  Well, what's normal, anyway?  I'm sure that most of you reading this have had some major curve balls thrown your way and you've had to adapt.  I am no different.  Sure, the physical pain makes me want to go to sleep and never wake up sometimes, but I have a son that I love more than life itself, and for him, I keep going.  And I might as well make the best of what I've got while I'm here.  So that is what I am trying to do.


My mom sets an example for me, daily, on getting the most out of life.  I wish that I were more like her just naturally, but the universe handed out the cynical/pessimistic gene to me instead.  So instead of coming by it naturally, I'm going to have to work at it.  And I'm okay with that- it gives me something to do when I'm busy at my pity-party blowing up self-hatred balloons by myself! 

Music, writing, art, and movement heal me.  I wish to continue these forms of emotional healing for myself in the coming year.  And one by one, I'll pop those damn balloons!



Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?

Prompt Author: Kaileen Elise
kaileenelise.com
@kaileenelise

I want to try getting my art into a "Show".  I've been in a few before, but they were all in the beginning/middle of the decade, before the pain started.  I've got a ton of excuses- seriously- but that's all they are.  Excuses.  I don't have the $30 entry fee.  My pieces are too big to frame properly.  I don't have a car to transport my artwork.  I'm not good enough (really, still?).  I don't have anything new.



And I can come up with all the reasons that my excuses are bullshit, too.  So, yeah- this is something I wanted to try this past year, but the excuses won again.  As far as what happened when I didn't go for it, well, you're lookin' at it.  Nothing.  And that's the problem.



this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lesson Learned

Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

Tara Weaver
The Butcher and the Vegetarian
@tea_austen


I learned that sometimes... you just have to start.




And... I don't think I'm going to get my security deposit back for the carpet.  But that's okay; I'm busy creating.


this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Got All (Both) My Sisters With Me

Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

Author: Martha Mihalick
Editor at Harper Collins
@curiousmartha

Shit, I can't count my therapist because I pay her, right?  You see, I'm the type of person who has just a few close friends.  And really not a whole lot of acquaintances.  I've been like this most of my life; sure it ebbs and flows (like when I was in college), but for the most part, my sisters have always been my closest friends.  They still are, to this day, and even more so since I had to move back.

I've dreaded this post all day (okay, since last night when I opened it) because sometimes I just feel like a loser whose only friends are her family.  Now, I know this isn't true, but this is how my thinking goes sometimes.  To tell you the truth, I don't think I could feel any luckier in life to have my two best friends be my sisters.


Childhood in our household was one thing (I remember many fights between the three of us,and I remember us banding together for a lot of things as well), but adulthood has brought our closeness to a whole new level.  Even our mutual friends stare in awe at us when we are all together and lament that they wish they were that close with their sibling(s).

I can't remember one specific thing that either of my sisters (I'm a middle kid) said or did this year that changed my perspective.  But the fact that they are willing to bring over a vacuum cleaner when mine breaks or help me get to and from the grocery store so I don't have to carry all those bags on the bus, just tells me that even though I can be a pain in the ass sometimes, they love me and want to see me happy.


These girls give me continued faith in the world.  Yes, we still get in arguments from time to time, but each one is an opportunity to strengthen our bond and our closeness.  I cherish every moment I spend with them laughing, crying, creating, screaming, singing, hoping, dreaming, caring, and uniting for things we believe in.  I am so fortunate. 

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Snow




Moments, 2010

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.
Prompt Author: Patti Digh
Creative is a Verb: If You're Alive, You're Creative
@pattidigh

Okay, gonna' try to go chronologically since that's easiest for me:
-being in the room with my mom when she found out she had cancer            -every single moment I spent swimming with my mom           -going to my first real yoga class       -the moment I learned of the ultimate betrayal from my ex-boyfriend (it not-so-gently removed the blinders for me)             -meeting my son's new half-brother                 -all the walks I went on with my son and all the little projects we worked on together            -walking in the cancer awareness walk with my sisters                -realizing a business could be made if we (my little sis' and me) wanted it to be made            -sweating my ass off at the 4th of July parade, but loving every minute of watching the sweet interactions between my son and my nephew (and then swimming with the boys afterwards)            -all the FlyChicks meetings we had in my sister's pool, with cocktails           -my mom and her husband's wedding/retirement party          -watching my mom get better after chemo                 -seeing my friends in Indianapolis in the fall                -doing Quent's make-up on Halloween        -spending cozy afternoons in front of the fire at my older sister's house            -the excitement before surgery that I was getting  a new and improved hip          -being with my family on Thanksgiving and giving thanks for such a beautiful family (that includes you, dad!)                -signing up for reverb10,  following through, and meeting so many wonderful souls   

    
this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why Can't I Just Listen?!?

Prompt: Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

Prompt Author: Victoria Klein
27 Things to Know About Yoga
@victoriaklein

I've come to appreciate my intuition.  I know I've had it my whole life, but I've been learning things "the hard way" for some time now.

At least now when I make a crappy decision that goes against my intuition, I can't be all, "What? Why did that just happen?"

Don't get me wrong- I still make bad decisions (shit, I just made one last week!), but I'm appreciative of being able to hear myself and trust myself.  Now... if I could just listen a little better, that would be aces.  Maybe I'll work on that...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baking... and Some Action

Prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?
Prompt Author: Scott Belsky
Making Ideas Happen
@scottbelsky

Hmmm.  I opened this prompt last night in my email account and have had all day to think about it.  Yet it's leaving me stumped.  All I can think about right now is the wonderful day I just had with my mom and sisters.  We spent the day baking four different kinds of cookies.



When my mom broke out her old rolling pin and flour cloth, it immediately took all three of us girls back to our childhood home when we used to watch our mother carefully sift the flour, lovingly knead the dough, evenly roll it out, and cut out little gingerbread men and women.  Then she'd take the leftover molasses outside with her and pour little shapes in the snow.  When it hardened, it was our own little "Little House on the Prairie" treat to eat!



Our mom loves snow; we had a tradition growing up on the first snowfall of the season.  She would wake us up super early (she's a morning person and all three of us girls are night owls, so this made for some interesting winter mornings sometimes!) and make us run around our house, outside, barefoot, the number of times of however many years old we were.  As children, this was fun and exciting.  As teenagers, it became downright torture.  And as adults, we miss it.


I think I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post that I hate cooking.  I can do it, I just loathe it; don't know why, but I do.  Well, I just so happen to LOVE baking and remember learning a lot from my momma as a child.  It kinda' amazed me, what I remembered today about certain aspects, and how I was able to teach my sisters (who are both great cooks) a little something.  Because I have such sucky short-term memory, I already forget what knowledge I actually contributed today, but I know it was something- maybe even a couple somethings.



My next step is to have more moments like today.  I want to share more moments with my mom and my sisters all together (it's like one big ADD firestorm when we are all together and oh, so much fun!), but I also want to feel knowledgeable about something again.  Even though I'm a college graduate, it's been a while since I felt I have been able to contribute- in many ways. 




I plan to become part "small business owner" with my little sis when we go big and legal with our company.  I plan on learning more things from my mom, like swimming strokes and water exercise (now that my doc has cleared me for the pool, I want to resume this practice, even though it is an early morning one).  I plan on finding a way that I can volunteer to make art with kids- this is one I've been thinking about ever since I left the teaching world.  And I plan to make my own personal art-making a priority.



I've got several action steps in place and even have a good start on some of these ideas.  This year has been extremely tough emotionally, but I find that some of the best growth comes from struggle and pain.  To 2011 being the year of action- I hope for all my friends and reverb10-er's wishes, goals and dreams, along with my own, to come true!

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let It Flow, Let Yourself Go

Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

Prompt Author: Patrick Reynolds
The Knowledge Workers Survival Guide
@patrickcantype



95% of the time, I'm in physical pain. 70% of the time, I'm moderately uncomfortable. 50% of the time I have to consciously try things to reduce the pain.  And 25% of the time, I'm begging for mercy.

You wouldn't know it by just looking at me, but pain is a part of almost every minute of my day.  Also, like I said, a quarter of the time, I wish that I didn't even have a body anymore.  I know that sounds rash, but pain can take up a lot of mental and emotional energy.  It can rob you of a "normal" life.  It can dictate what you are able to do and how well you are able to do it.  It can also be really hard to integrate the body and mind when this is the case.  But I'm not writing this post to talk about the pain.

No- I'm writing about the 5% of the time where I don't feel pain- and that feels like heaven on earth to me.  This is when my body and mind feel integrated and I don't even "think" about physical sensations.  There are a few times that I can count on this, for the most part, but it's always a balance and a gamble, so I have to choose my activities wisely, or the pain can jump back around to bite me in the ass (actually my ass is one of the places I never feel pain!).



1.  At the end of a yoga class while laying in Savasana- this can feel like pure bliss for me.  But asana precedes this and I have to be careful not to "overdo" it or I'll pay for it later. 

2.  While creating art.  Have you heard about the concept of Flow?  This is how I've always felt when creating- ever since I was a little girl- like time stood still, or rather, like there was no such thing as time when I was(am) in my own little world of "making".  Again, this too is a delicate balance, and I have to carefully listen to my body and its signals (this can be hard when engaged in flow).

I'd like to say this pic is blurry because it's a memory, but the truth is that my camera was dying during this project four years ago and it's one of the only pics I have from that week!  I've created since then, but no one is really around to document it;)

I cherish the moments in life that I am free of physical pain and have a much deeper appreciation now for those times.  Perhaps, this is one of those things that the pain is trying to teach me- to live as fully as I can.  I hope to find more ways to integrate body and mind in the coming year.


this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Things I No Longer Need

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Prompt Author: Sam Davidson
50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need
@samdavidson

1. Fear
2. Shame (CS, this one's dedicated to you; I'm workin' on a sketch!)
4. Excuses
5. Procrastination
6. Forgiving too easily
7. Not forgiving enough
8. Perfectionism (or, as I like to call myself, a "failed perfectionist" because isn't that how perfectionists roll anyway?  it's never good enough.  hmmm- fuck that. OVER it!)
9. Not listening to my body
11. Sugar   Inaction

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Me? Wisdom?

Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
Prompt Author: Susannah Conway
Unravelling
@photobird

Let me just preface this with the fact that I've made some really smart decisions in my life, and some really dumb ones, too.  But I really don't feel qualified to post as someone who has made a wise decision this past year, let alone, in her life.
Have you ever met a kid who seems light years past his/her age and you just know that they are an "old soul"?  Yeah, well, that's my son.  Don't get me wrong- he's still a kid, and he can definitely still be that typical 12 year old that thinks he's too cool for school, but he's also human.  And I don't try to put him on a pedestal, I just try to learn from him sometimes. 

So... let's put it this way:  This past year, the smartest decision (and maybe wisest, if you want to say that), was probably me choosing to move forward in my life and stop waiting for my situation to magically "change".  These past few years have been fraught with various medical tests, rotating doctors in a clinic (didn't have health insurance), severe pain, and very few answers.

After my mom's diagnosis, I decided to stop wasting time waiting for others to figure out what is wrong with me and I started to figure out what was right with me- to quiet the limitations and just start moving.  Moving physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.  Some days I excel in one of those areas and the others take a back seat.  Some days I'm rollin' on all four.  And some days, I can't even muster the energy to do well in just one of those areas. 

But I've made my choice, and that is to step out of limbo and get the most out of life that I possibly can.  I've got my strong, positive mother to thank for her example and I've got my son who keeps me going in the fight to be a great role model for him.  I've got the tools within me.  It's easy to give up.  It's hard to keep going in the face of adversity.  And... apparently, I like it the hard way.



this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Celebration and Love

Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.
Prompt Author: Shauna Reid
The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl
@shauna

In January, our mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer (she's not a smoker and is actually one of the healthiest women I know on this earth).  The diagnosis has been devastating, as Lung Cancer is one of the deadliest and it has already spread.  But nothing, and I mean nothing, slows this woman down.  She still participates in life with joy, reverence, and wonder, and is SO one of my biggest heroes. 



This Spring, she married her long-time boyfriend, and I gained two new sisters (though it's never been a piece of paper that has always made them feel like family).  They had a small ceremony at their house, but planned a big soiree in mid-summer for the rest of family and friends to join in celebration.  My mom had retired from teaching music two years ago and her husband decided to retire this year (also from teaching music- I swear, they are the cutest couple!) so they wanted to have a "getting-married-and-happy-retirement-party".


The party happened in earlyJuly and boy were we having some scorchers here in St. Louis!  Knowing my naturally wavy hair doesn't play well with humidity, I decided to do a "side-braid-bun" sort of deal.  I wore a black dress I got on clearance at Target months before that I never had found an occasion to wear.  And the best part- my son was here with me to celebrate. 

We got to my mom's house around 6:00pm and the sun still seemed fairly high in the sky (unlike right now when it gets dark at 3:30pm).  The heat had subsided by the time we had arrived and the fireflies made for a wonderful light show at dusk.  There were over 100 people there.  I got to see relatives I hadn't seen in a while, good friends of my mom, my sisters and their significant others, and the beaming bride and groom seemed to rarely leave each other's side. 

I gave a toast to my mom and her new husband; I can't even remember what I said because it was a spur of the moment thing and I think I started tearing up a bit.  Their love inspires me beyond words and that love is what made this party so special.  All of my mom's friends from their different walks of life, standing there, supporting her, made me extra sappy.

I got to talk to a lot of people and tell them how meaningful their presence was at this occasion- an opportunity I might not have otherwise had.  It was a beautiful night and one I will never forget. 

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm Not Different

Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful
Prompt Author: Karen Walrond
The Beauty of Different
@chookooloonks



I don't think I'm much different than anyone else- it's the 'human-ness' that I find so compelling, connective, and beautiful in meeting others. 

I cry.  I anguish.  I scream. I laugh with my whole body.  I dream.  I push on.  I survive.  I rest.  I strive.  I create.  I climb emotional mountains.  I wish.  I meditate.  I move.  I make lists.  I have goals.  I procrastinate.  I love with my whole soul.  I sing when I hope no one is listening.  I write.  I seek knowledge.  I make believe.  I help.  I react.  I live. 

It is all this that I know of others and myself.  And that, is beauty to me. 

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dedicated to You. Yes, YOU!

Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?


Prompt Author: Cali Harris
caligater.com
@caligater

I'd just like to dedicate this to all of my friends, tribes, communities, and people who stop by here on occasion for helping me feel like a part of something.  

There have been times in my life when I have "hermited", like in my early twenties when I was crippled by anxiety and panic attacks.  Often, I would leave in the middle of a three hour art class and just go home.  Or I would wait to the last minute to run to the drug store for diapers and formula.  There was even the time I ended up in the hospital with a resting heart rate of 140, only to learn it was just anxiety. 

I was young, a mother, and all my college friends were still partying.  I was 250 miles away from family, and my marriage was on shaky ground.  Neighbors made efforts, but I chose not to reciprocate; I hope they didn't take it personally.  I heard, "join a church", "take some classes" (I was), and "go out with your colleagues" (I worked with developmentally disabled adults and rarely saw the other caregivers). 

This went on for a couple of years until I started working for this place called the Peace Learning Center in Indianapolis, IN.  I was working through Americorps and I made friends there that have lasted to this day.  I went through a divorce, a custody battle, and cried through many "check-ins".  But there was such a sense of belonging and community there, and it so positively changed my life for the better.



While I worked there, my bosses and colleagues made me feel welcome and accepted, "warts and all" as they say.  I was always so scared that people wouldn't understand me or relate to my situation.  I think I've carried shame around for far too long and am just now realizing how much it has permeated my daily life.  Well, as one commenter and new twitter friend, Creatively Sensitive, recently said, "Shame is a stinky-soul sucker" and boy is she right!

Over the past three years, I went into hermit mode again; I didn't want to face the world with my current situation.  I was embarrassed and ashamed to have "lost everything".  But the more and more I've thought about it, I still have all the important people in my life (including my BF from high school who has never given up on me, no matter where I've lived or my situation!), and that community is what has kept me afloat.

Now, I feel like I've gained a whole new community of supporters through blogging and Reverb10.  It means the world to me every time I get a comment, even if just to say a quick hello.  I try to comment as much as possible on other blogs, too, because I know there are others out there like me.  And they may need the support just as much, if not more, than I do.

So if you are new to this blog, welcome and thank you so much for stopping by!  If you've known me for a while, thank you for reading and responding to my posts! 
this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm Lame.

Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Prompt Author: Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project
@gretchenrubin





So... I'm an artist, right?  I'm a creative soul.  Uh-huh.

Why then, have I been dragging ass ALL DAY just to get through the day.  This is my prompt.  This is the one I'm supposed to excel at. 

But you see, all the vibrations and good energy I've been getting from the Reverb peeps had me buzzin' last night and I couldn't sleep. 

I wanted to spruce up my blog for any new visitors.  I wanted to understand Twitter more, so I researched (still not sure I've got the etiquette down).  I wanted to scheme and plan on what great piece of art I would MAKE today for today's "MAKE" prompt.

Wanna' know what happened?  I stayed up all night (I was also in quite a bit of pain- oh excuses, excuses, I know!) in anticipation of making today a stellar day so that I could impress y'all with an amazing post.  Mmnh hmn.  My sister picked me up for a business meeting and I got more and more slap happy at her house (read: singing Xmas carols at the top of my lungs in a faux opera voice) until I couldn't even perform the simplest of functions. 

Seriously- I couldn't figure out how to resize pics to post on etsy (something I've done several times before).  Right before the tears came from realizing my own lame-ness, my little sis told me to just walk away from the computer and take a break.

I followed her sage advice and just as I was dropping off into a little nap, my phone rang.  It was my son (who rarely calls me); he called to tell me to check my facebook wall (another thing, he will rarely communicate publicly with me on FB, I think it's his age).  I wouldn't have answered that phone for any other soul on earth at that point in my delirium.  And I'm so glad I did.

On my wall was a hilarious picture with a written reference to a game of Balderdash we all played over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I laughed so hard and in that moment, all stress and anxiety of having to "impress" anyone went right out the window.  I may make things a lot but this kid is by far, the best thing I've made to date. 

Now... off to bed for me; I'm up early to see the orthopaedic surgeon for a follow up appointment.  I promise, I will post more things I make- just not tonight!

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just a Little Note...

Since my almost-teenaged son lives 250 miles away from me and isn't a huge "phone-talker" (neither am I), I've tried to find some creative ways of letting him know that I'm always thinking of him.  I send him little pics I find from the internet that I think he'd like through private message on Facebook; we text during episodes of SNL (we always watch it together when he stays with me); and I try to send him cards here and there via snail mail.

Today, as I was making a birthday card for my mom, I put together a little card to send to my son.  Thought you all might enjoy a little peek:



I wrote a little message on the inside, slid it in an envelope, and off in the mail it goes! 

Letting Go of Shame

Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Prompt Author: Alice Bradley
@finslippy


Aside from letting go of a toxic relationship earlier in the year, I've decided to let go of some of the shame I've been carrying around concerning my illness.  I worked my ass off in my twenties to get to where I thought I was supposed to be, only to be blindsided at 29. 

I thought that as soon as my friends had convinced me to see a doctor, that the medical community would figure out what was wrong with me, treat me, and then I could get back to the business of "having it all".  But within three months of seeing that first doctor, my bank account was drained, I had to move into a studio apartment, and give up physical custody of my then nine year old son.  And yet... I still had no answers.

It was soon apparent to me that I would need more help and ended up moving back to my hometown of St. Louis after being gone for 12 years.  I drained my meager retirement fund, had to get on food stamps, and started the process of applying for disability.  This was one of the hardest times in my life.

But it didn't break me.

Oh, it came close- very close.  But I'm still here, and part of the reason I started this blog was to keep my sanity through it all.  I kept this blog private for a while, but after hearing more and more stories similar to mine, I realized that there is no shame in what I am going through.  I couldn't have helped any of this!  I wasn't doing anything wrong to cause this- in fact, just months prior to the onset of the pain, I had quit smoking, started working out regularly, and began eating healthier foods!

After seeing the benefit of moving forward, in an open, honest, and somewhat vulnerable way, I decided to go public with this blog.  So, Reverb10, I have dropped the shame this year!  Celebrate with me!

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wonder



Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
Prompt Author: Jeff Davis
The Journey from the Center to the Page

@JeffreyDavis108


Since my illness has slowed me down physically, this year I've decided to stop fighting it and start working with it- trying to find a way to thank the universe for this dis-ease is a place I'd like to be and to figure out. 
While it's not easy to be thankful for something that is so painful, it is the only possible way for me to start moving forward in my life.  So much of the past three years, I've spent in physical and mental limbo.  Maybe I'm ready because the doctors finally found something- some evidence of why my hips click, pop, burn, and ache.  (If you want to read more about that, go here and here).  Maybe I'm ready because I see how positive and full of joy my mom is in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis, always living each day to the fullest.  Maybe I'm ready because the stars have aligned in some serendipitous way.  Whatever the reason(s), I am ready.



Ready to wonder.  I'm ready to look fear in the face and tell it to stop being the thief of dreams.  I'm ready to live my life, daily, with wonder in my heart, mind, and soul.  Just choosing to make this blog public and stop feeling so ashamed of where I am in life makes the adrenaline start rushing.



I've just reacquainted myself with wonder, and the possibilities are endless.  I'm choosing to dance with it, hold it close in my broken and bruised heart, and to cradle it with grace.  I'm choosing to look at life in a new way; always changing, nothing is static (except for change!).

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air



Reverb, Day 3

Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
Prompt Author: Ali Edwards
Memory Keeping Idea Books
@aliedwards


I would have to say it was a late April day (not sure of the exact date).  I had signed on to be a team leader for a Cancer Awareness walk in late May and knew that I better start training.  Most people don't have to train for a walk, but I'm not most people.  I'm thirty-three and have osteoarthritis, though I didn't know it at the time.  My joints have been giving me problems for three years, so exercise didn't always seem or feel possible.  But ever since my mom's cancer diagnosis in January '10, I wanted to find some different ways that I could help her feel supported.


We had a beautiful April here in St. Louis this year.  We actually had a Spring (most times it goes straight from Winter to Summer with maybe a week of moderate weather in between) this year; the trees were blooming, the sun was gentle, the days were getting longer, and it was the perfect time for some outside activity.  I knew I'd have to start slow, so I began by just walking down the street and back.  I eventually set a goal to see if I could walk to the Art Museum in Forest Park- about a thirty minute walk.

 One gorgeous afternoon, I packed up my backpack with my journal, my camera, a big sheet, and lots of water.  I put in my ear buds and set off for the museum grounds (there is a huge hill  in front of the St. Louis Art Museum nicknamed "Art Hill" that is popular on days like this).  I reached the hill about thirty-five minutes after leaving my front door and commenced climbing to the top.  Breathless, but feeling accomplished, I slid off my shoes and socks to feel the warm green grass under my feet and pulled out my king sized sheet.  As I prepared to lay the sheet down, the wind blew and made it billowy, like a small parachute.

That breeze smelled of fresh cut grass, blooming flowers, and pure sunshine.  I basked in that moment for a while and thanked the universe for the seasons.  Without the cold and sometimes lonely hibernation of Winter, I could never fully appreciate the warm, new birth of Spring.  There were plenty of others there, too- college students perhaps skipping class to come play frisbee on the hill; families with small children, who squealed with delight while rolling down the hill; lovers who came to picnic and appreciate each others' beauty outside in a fresh, new way.

I laid upon my freshly washed sheet and let the rays of light reward me for my hard, sometimes painful, work.  All that walking wasn't easy on my joints, especially the hips, but I knew that it had to be done in order for me to reach my goal for the cancer walk.  I was so proud of myself and even took out my journal later that afternoon to write, but in the moments right after I laid to rest, I just breathed it all in- the sunshine, the air, the cool smell of the water from the pond below.  I knew I could deal with the physical pain because of all the beauty my soul received in that moment.   

this post a part of Reverb10: Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. Use the end of your year as an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.