A Quiet Friday Night

It’s Friday night; I’m home after a long day. I traveled to Holmes County today, ran work errands, caught up on email, then got things together for tomorrow’s event. I’m finally sitting down to write, sip wine, and enjoy the quiet. I stop, ponder the moment, marvel at how I got here without even noticing it.

I’m not referring to how I physically got here today. I’m talking about how I got here, in life. As I sit in a mostly noiseless house, I listen to the fridge hum and the dogs snore. I recognize that I’m in a totally different place than just five years ago — physically, mentally, spiritually. M was thirteen. We were busy all the time. And when we weren’t running for sports, school functions, and young teen hangouts, we were gathering with friends with kids in tow. Friday nights these days aren’t like they used to be. I don’t mind it, but there is some nostalgia and angst in looking back.

I’m settled. It feels nice. It occurs to me that I’m becoming my mom. I never thought I’d become her, and while I’m different in many ways, I never considered I’d be anything like her. (It’s not a bad thing. I just didn’t consider it.) I’m a homebody who prefers reading over most other activities, just like my mom. Maybe it’s that way for all of us. We don’t notice the way life moves, day by day. Suddenly we simply ‘arrive.’ Of course it’s been happening all along, but when life is busy, it’s hard to reflect. It’s hard to clearly see.

What happens next? Will I be more mindful in my middle years? Will I be more brave? I hope so. I think a lot about where I’ve been and where I’m going. This age has merit and context and, dare I say, wisdom? I look forward to my days. I don’t feel as though I’m going through the motions at all. I hope I never do. For now I believe I’ll enjoy this simple glass of Pinot Grigio in my quiet home, and bed before ten sounds amazing.

 

 

My Current Life Survey

A fun little exercise provided by my writing coach, a life survey: rate self from 1 – 10 with 10 being highest, 1 needs lots of work. I liked this exercise. It made me think about things I don’t normally think about. How will I ever meet my goals if I never take personal inventory of where I am and where I want to go? Try it for yourself.

Creative Support System: 5
My husband fully supports my personal endeavors and I have more time than I used to but I don’t have writing friends, or even friends who read a lot. (I would love to start a book club to keep my reading on track too.)

Readings/Forums/Blogs/Podcasts that center on writing: 5
I have a few writing books I have read and am reading but need a lot more support in this area.

Daily Rhythm/Routine: 8
I write every single day, always for work, and I now accomplish my personal writing goals more consistently than I used to.

Physical Health: 7
I feel good most days. I still need to eat more veggies and exercise regularly. I move my body a lot but not as much as I should.

Nutrition: 7
See above.

Social Life: 6
We have a circle of friends we can count on. I would like to meet more women that have similar interests as my own.

Professional Life: 8
I love my work. I am finally settling into a new rhythm. I want to grow professionally.

Family Life: 7
My family is small. Mostly it’s J & I home together, unless he’s traveling. M & I are well connected though I wish we spent more time together.

Time in nature: 9
We live in the middle of the woods. For this, I am truly grateful.

Reflection/Mindfulness/Spiritual Health: 9
My life centers around this.

Fun/Adventure/Trying New Things: 3
Needs work.

Outreach/Showing up for others: 7
I am here for my family and friends. I believe they know they can count on me.

Hobbies/Outlets/Creativity: 7
Writing soothes my soul above all else. I want to start knitting again this winter.

Communication with Writing Coach: 7
I feel I am responsive. I read all communication and do many of the prompts. They keep me focused.

Commitment to current writing goals: 7
I am writing each day but I need to dive back in to my book; it’s nearly complete but lacks direction.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Commit to Ten

What is important to you? What must you do everyday? What is not currently a habit that you want to become one?

I have been wanting to establish an every day writing habit for years now and I’ve mostly succeeded. I purposefully write about five days per week, even more if you count work. But the purposeful, personal writing is the habit I’m interested in achieving. I want my writing to be an absolute part of me for the rest of my life.

Reading about writing, taking writing classes, talking to other writers, I seek to understand what it will take to make it happen. A few weeks ago I hired a writing coach; her daily check-ins keep me focused and provide direction.

I’ve learned over the years that if I want something to happen in my day, something that is non-essential to other people, I’ve gotta do it first. Mornings are sacred to me, ritualistic even, and my writing generally happens then.

Except when it doesn’t. Some days work has me up earlier than normal and at an event first thing. In those situations, my tea with honey and essential oils is the only sacredness I get.

My writing coach, Jen, says ten minutes a day. No matter what, carve out ten minutes in your day. If it’s usually mornings, go for it, but on those days when that’s not possible, commit to ten somewhere in the day.

Being a perfectionist makes life feel impossible. It’s really not a good thing. I write wanting the words to flow. That’s not how it works, at least not for me. The writing, the very act of it, is about getting words on the page (or screen), coherent or not. Editing is something else altogether. Editing shapes the words and sentences into something others might understand, and I guess that’s my dilemma. I not only want to write every day. I want to polish a piece for other people’s eyes.

After going through many years of not writing and feeling the difference between then and now, I want to keep a momentum. I want to write, edit and publish here each day. It’s my way of recording life. So much moves through. I want to watch it. I want to see growth. Now that my mom is gone and I have nothing left of her, writing is my commitment to my daughter. Ten minutes a day may not get me all three, but it will put me one step closer to my goal.

So whatever it is for you, writing, reading, being in nature, practicing yoga, playing an instrument, drawing, sitting in meditation, painting … commit to ten. It will become part of you, an essential part you’re not willing to part with.

Doing the Right Thing for the Sake of Doing It

Human behavior fascinates me. I’m surprised, baffled and appalled by the way people behave. Each of us is different; this I know, and it’s a good thing, but when I see people behaving badly, I’m unnerved.

I’m not perfect, far from it, but I do deeply care about TRYING to do the right thing.

I had a difficult situation this weekend and was faced with a choice — do what someone close to me wanted me to do that I didn’t want to do (knowing how I’d be treated), or protect my sanity by doing what I felt was right for me. I chose the latter and I’m glad I did. It didn’t save me altogether but I had more choice than I would have had otherwise.

The situation involved an official college visit for my daughter, welcoming her and her teammates for the first time, together, on campus. Her father would be there and while I didn’t know exactly what would go down, I knew there would be unpleasantness.

I was faced with a few uncomfortable situations. My dad and I were left out of a group (me, purposely; he by association), a group we were supposed to be included in for Maddie’s sake. I did nothing; there wasn’t anything I could do. Her dad facilitated the separation.

So while I prefer trying to get along, he chooses to make things harder than they have to be. I am truly baffled that he can’t let things go. Honestly I’m not sure what needs to be let go of; things with he and I just are. We have not been together for sixteen years of her life. Maddie is eighteen now.

Why is it so hard? Why can’t he suck it up for her? I feel like he makes it about him, but I’m not him so I don’t know. I simply can’t understand and I struggle because of it. I thought life would soften throughout the years. Instead the edges feel sharper than they used to. My heart breaks because I know she wants her parents to get along. I want that for her too.

“The only person’s behavior I can control is my own” becomes my mantra.

I almost didn’t write this post for fear of who might read it, but it’s truth, and what is writing if not truth telling? It helps me make sense of life. And now that it’s been written, I must let it go. Allowing myself to relive negative situations deprives me of energy and sanity. Once is enough.

. . .

We are all doing the best we know how. Yes, even people whose behavior we can’t make sense of. We are all different. We cannot possibly understand another person’s motives and we shouldn’t try.

. . .

As always, I choose to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. There’s a voice inside of me, beckoning me to do so. I recognize it as my mom’s. The difference, however, is that she did the right thing forsaking herself. I cannot, will not, give that much of me.

I will do the right thing because I feel better for it, but not at my own expense. In this situation, letting go is the only resolve. If I keep replaying it, I’m the one who hurts. I may not ‘win’, but that’s not the point anyway. In the grand scheme of things, there aren’t winners and losers. Life isn’t black and white.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Take the Chance

We create our reality. Every action, inaction, chance, avoidance; it all matters. We set the stage and, in part, the plot of our lives. We choose; every choice matters. One choice leads us one way,  while another takes us down a different road altogether.

I say if you want something bad enough, go for it. Never at the cost of others, of course, but if its doable, even if you’re scared, do it!

I met my husband by ‘chance,’ but once I met him I knew there was a connection. It wasn’t a know it with my head sense; it was an I feel this deeply in my heart sense. I couldn’t explain it but I knew it felt right and I couldn’t NOT see him again.

J is not shy but he is extremely reserved, prone more to inaction than action. I knew I’d have to make the move if I wanted to see him again. I was scared and unsure, having just ended another long term relationship, but I also knew, like I said before, that I had to take a chance.

One day, I bought a coffee at Tim Hortons, during the yearly “Roll Up to Win” sweepstakes. I told myself, if I win anything I’ll call him.

I rarely win things. Do you? But this day I did. A sign, a grand, amazing opportunity to put myself out there. I only won a coffee but I vowed to get his number and call that week. He answered and, as they say, ‘the rest is history.’

If you want something, go for it. It could change your life. You could marry Mr. Right because of a chance you take; I am. You could land the job of your dreams, or the house you’ve always wanted. Your new best friend might be standing in front of you but it takes courage to be vulnerable. Ask her to lunch, coffee or cocktails. Make the call. Send the text, or email. Turn in your application or resume. Lay it all on the line. Show your heart. Say what you really feel. “This might be crazy, but…”“Give me another chance.”“I am in love with you.” “I am perfect for this job.”  

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

Lewis Carroll

Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash

A Letter to my Eight Year Old Self, an Excerpt

I’ve never been fond of writing prompts, but to be honest, I’ve not given them a chance. Often, I have topic ideas in mind and when I don’t, I write Morning Pages. Now that I’m working with a writing coach she’s giving me tools to ensure daily pointed writing. I need it; I’m lacking consistency.

Today’s assignment: write a letter to your eight year old self. I set a timer for thirty minutes and was surprised by what came out — specific hardships and ways to avoid them, deep rooted pain that I must learn to accept as part of me, and other insight I’ve had before but framed in a different way. Writing a letter to self provided a new perspective.

The last several sentences are universal enough to share.

You will still be trying to figure things out in forty years, yes at almost fifty, but you’ll finally know who you are. The ‘figuring things out’ is an ongoing process. With each new thing that happens to you, an insight will ‘pop.’ Life will be a series of these insights. It’s your job to be present and heed their calls.

You live in a universe that supports you; believe that. There is groundedness in this truth and from that space you can draw strength you didn’t know existed.

Love others instead of judging them. Know–like fully know–that everyone is doing the best they know how. Living in this truth will make you kinder and more accepting.

Sometimes you’ll fail, probably often, but it’s okay. Its just life teaching you what you still need to learn.

And for goodness sake, laugh, and take very little seriously. Being too serious will be the hardest thing for you to break. THIS IS YOUR LIFE. It shouldn’t be taken lightly but it should be lived from the HEART instead of the head.

I love you, as do many others. Be a force in the world, but in a quiet, gentle way. Let others see your soul. It’s the most beautiful part of you.

If you like to journal, write and reflect and have never tried this prompt, I urge to see what comes out.

We Teach People How to Treat Us

“We teach people how to treat us.” This has been my theme song this week.

There are a few situations that I’ve allowed others to decide for me, and a few people I’ve almost completely given my power to. I’ve catered and caved to their whims and it hasn’t worked out well–for me or them. I am not a pushover, at least I’ve never considered myself so, but I’m definitely a people pleaser in some situations. Funnily, in other scenarios I will not bend at all. I have been a people pleaser in two specific yet unrelated situations recently. And trying to please each of them did not garner positive results.

There’s something to be said for doing things the way I think they should be done and allowing others to conform to me. It’s not a self-serving, holier-than-thou thing. It’s a ‘you take care of you, I’ll take care of me’ thing. I had a huge ‘a ha’ this week regarding this situation. I discovered that, in many ways, I don’t treat myself like I have a right to a voice or to even be here. It’s unhealthy and unfair, to me and to the others I interact with.

We are all winging it, some of us better than others. And those who wing it and believe in themselves do a much better job than those who second guess. I choose to be in the former category.

Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 25th

It’s kind of crazy to watch yourself change and grow. I’ve been in a massive shift, a huge transformation, over the last year. I guess I sort of knew it but didn’t acknowledge it. It’s my life, after all. I’m mostly in the business of living it. Introspection and retrospection are gifts, but we often don’t use them when we’re just trying to make it through.

I was forced into incredible change by two of the most important people in my life, my mom and daughter. It had to happen. God, psyche and the Universe all knew the plan. I didn’t. As I ponder all of the events and the synchronous ways they were weaved together, I try to figure out what it all means. Maybe that’s not the way life works though. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know until we are through it. Like the saying, “life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards,” or “the only way out is through.” Damnit.

So far, I have worked my way through with the help of an amazing coach who mirrored my goodness and wholeness back to me. I didn’t see (or feel) whole when we started working together. I was broken, beat down, defeated. I was in a state of severe depression. I knew I couldn’t climb out of the hole alone. She helped (and continues to help) me see that many answers are inside of me and that I am stronger than I think.

She gives me permission to be easier on myself (that’s often not easy to do). She says words I need to hear and acknowledges me as an amazing human with gifts and talents I often don’t see. As I’m coming out on the other side of grief, I recognize more patterns that need broken. I also recognize how easy it could be to follow in my mom’s footsteps. But I don’t choose that for myself. I choose to be strong, to have a voice. I choose not to be a victim. I choose to claim my power before it feels like it’s too late.

I recognize that there is aliveness here and that aliveness brings joy, triumph, mistakes, wonder, grief … a span of emotions that make up the human experience. I choose to live in it all, knowing that with every hardship, light will return, and that with each ‘a ha’ a new way of being will present itself.

Photo by boram kim on Unsplash

Wednesday, September 19th

It’s fascinating to me that I’ve practiced yoga and mindfulness all these years but still haven’t integrated the lessons fully into my being. I’m referring to slowing down … like reeeeeaaaaaaalllly slowing down. Like never reacting. Is that possible?

As I walked into Starbucks today to get some work done, I stopped and talked to the girl at the counter prior to ordering. I know a few of the baristas but had never met her. Sydney. I had a lovely, easy conversation with her.

Now, it’s not like I’ve never done this before. I look each one in the eyes and talk to them. It’s hard to explain but today’s encounter was different. I was more at ease. It was like I completely LANDED in my body and stayed there throughout the conversation. I didn’t DO anything special. It wasn’t an intentional activity. I was just IN my body far more than in my head, and that’s what makes all the difference.

I am in my head so much. It’s how I’m built. I am a great listener, generally actively listening, not thinking about the next thing I will say, but there’s less ease in more situations than I’d like. I’m always conscious of what the other person might be thinking of me. It’s disorienting (and generally un-peaceful) to live this way. I feel like I am seeing myself more clearly, while taking myself less seriously lately. It feels nice.

My new practice in all public settings (or as many as possible) in order to find more ease and groundedness, in order to embody myself:

  • Stop.
  • Breathe.
  • Feel my feet on the ground. Feel myself land IN my body.
  • Look the person in the eyes. See them.
  • Say hello.
  • Wait for their response.
  • Listen … like really listen … to what they say and how they say.
  • Respond in a natural way, making light but meaningful conversation.

Y’all may think I’m crazy. Sometimes I think I am too. Do most people do this? It’s not an easy, natural thing for me. My whole life has been about R E A C T I O N.

It’s about presence and intention. Seems simple enough but I forget to slow down too often. If I’m not doing this practice, what the hell am I doing?

Photo by Petr Sevcovic on Unsplash

Tuesday, September 18th

Why should I care? Why should you care? Why should anyone care?

Maybe no one does, but I absolutely know that I feel better when I write. I feel more me. I feel less stressed about life. My mind isn’t nearly as cluttered as it would be otherwise.

I am a writer, not necessarily because I’m good at it but because I WRITE. It’s what I do. I established this habit many years ago and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

Since my mom’s death I’ve been called even more to write consistently. Why? Because I literally have nothing left of her. I gave her a journal for Mother’s Day the year before her death. I wanted to know what was in her heart. She was going through so much during the last few years. As I was going through her things after she passed, I found that journal — empty. My heart sank. I don’t ever want my daughter to wonder what was in my heart. It will all be here, in my journals and the other place I write, in black and white.

Photo by The Journal Garden | Vera Bitterer on Unsplash

H I !   I ‘ M   H E A T H E R   S A G E  . . . 

. . . a writer, blogger and yoga teacher (who rarely teaches in the traditional sense anymore). Also a softball mom, happy wife and flawed human doing the best I can. I love books, stationary, hot tea, wine, essential oils, quiet mornings, playing outside and many other simple things in life.

Life changes all the time. It’s the only constant. Beautiful, mundane, joyful, awful, insightful, random, the way things move through; my practice here is of ‘recording life’ in words and images. The name of this blog, on the 19, is where we live. Find more meaningful writing on soul fabric and Medium.