Life Is Sweeter When It’s Shared

I really wanted to share with you this sweet Halloween picture of my son Collin and his wife, Aubree, and their lion cub Nellie. Then I thought about a possible post. And I realized that the reason this picture is so precious is because they created and participated in it together. They did it as a family, a unit, a team. The fact that their experience was shared is what makes it powerful.

Christopher McCandless said, “Happiness is only real when it is shared.”

Ironic then, that my fellow hiker and now world-renown itinerant traveler died alone. Maybe you’ve seen his story portrayed in the movie Into the Wild or read about him in books and articles. I just came back from hiking the wilds of Alaska so I have some idea what his last days were like and it makes me sad that he was alone.

It makes me said when people feel alone.

As a divorced woman, I know something about loneliness. I also know something about the joy of sharing life. I’ve got an existence crammed with people I love. Every day I try to add to those numbers. But still, there are times when I’m alone. Being alone can be a very good thing…if you want to be alone. If you don’t…put yourself out there in search of someone who is lonely too. Your presence can remedy their loneliness. I warned you up front that my favorite book is the Old Testament. One scripture that doesn’t get quoted enough comes from Proverbs 18:24. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly.”

Not easy if you’re shy or insecure. Not easy for me. But I’ve found that it’s well worth the effort and the risk of rejection. So my hope for you on this Halloween day, as I take the little g-babies trick or treating, is that we encounter one another. That we share the experience of costumes and candy, because even sugar, cherished friends, tastes sweeter when it’s shared.

 

References

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/the-brain-on-love/?_r=0

http://momastery.com/blog/?s=share

My Love Affair With Halloween

It’s a nice idea, don’t you think…that the spirits of the dead come back one night each year to revisit their homes and loved ones? That’s sorta, kinda how it all began in Ireland and parts of Britain. Then the Catholic church got involved and Christianity and paganism grafted when the church named November 1st ALL SAINTS DAY making October 31st ALL HALLOWS EVE. If you’ve seen Hocus Pocus, it’s all familiar.

Later Irish immigrants introduced the practice to the USA with a night when treats were shared and mischief was made. After that commercialization stepped in and now we can purchase 36 tiny, individually wrapped and specially printed Snickers bars for $9 at our corner Walgreens.

Wait. When you stop to think about it, Hallween is a confusing holiday. We teach our kids never to take candy from strangers. Except on Halloween, when as Rita Rudner pointed out, we dress them up and tell them to beg for it.

Still, I LOVE Halloween! Not the candy as much as I love the idea that we can put on new faces and become someone different than we are the rest of the year. So far this year I’ve been a zombie, an owl, a clown, a witch, and tomorrow I’ll be a brain surgeon.

Mostly, I love the wee ghosts and goblins in their adorableness. The creativity of people boggles my mind. The costume and decorations. The pumpkin carving and the autumn culinary treats. Mostly though, I love how Halloween unites people. Last night at a party it was easy to make friends with strangers. A bat. Glenda, the good witch of the north. The Joker. The Grim Reaper. Skeletons. Pirates. And because this is a political year there were lots of Donalds and Hillaries.

Not all were in good taste.

One Hillary was in chains and in prison orange. I actually approached the most convincing Donald. “That’s a terrific Trump wig,” I told the guy who was dressed as the devil, horns on top of a wind-swept blond mop.

He glowered. “It’s not a wig.”

Oops.

Thankfully, I was able to flare my cape and blend back into a crowd of other ghouls.

FYI…the photo for this post always makes me smile. It was taken a couple of years back when some of my kids indulged me and dressed as zombies. They didn’t want to do it, but this mother doesn’t ask much…just, “Shred your clothes, drench yourselves in fake blood and follow me into the forest.”

I would love to hear your memorable Halloween stories.

Happy All Hallows Eve, friends! Be safe and spooky at the same time.

I Bow To You

There is no calling in the world that can compare to parenthood. That includes all of you who love a child and protect and provide for that child. This is a snapshot of my daughter, Taylor, and her daughter, Adelaide. Fortunately, Mark is a wonderful husband and father to them. But that’s not how it is for nearly 14 million parents in the U.S. who are raising 22 million children. It’s been a decade since I became a single mother, so I’ve been thinking about you, the fathers and mothers out there who go it alone. This is my very feeble attempt to pay tribute to you. I hope you’ll forgive my lack of poetic talent and feel the sentiment and share it if you love someone who might benefit from a little bow.

If you have no arms

To hold your crying child but your own arms

And no legs but your own to run the stairs one more time

To fetch what was forgotten

I bow to you

If you have no vehicle

To tote your wee one but the wheels that you drive

And no one else  to worry, “Is my baby okay?”

When you have to say goodbye on the doorsteps of daycare

or on that cursed first day of school

I bow to you

If you have no skill but your own skill

To replenish an ever-emptying bank account

And no answers but your own to

Satisfy the endless whys, hows, and whens your child asks and asks again

I bow to you

If you have no tongue to tell the truth

To keep your beloved on the path without a precipice

And no wisdom to impart

Except the wisdom that you’ve acquired

I bow to you

If the second chair is empty

Across the desk from a scornful, judging authority waiting

For your child’s father to appear

And you straighten your spine where you sit

And manage to smile and say, “No one else is coming—I’m it.”

Oh, I bow to you

If your head aches when the spotlight finally shines

on your child because your hands are the only hands there to applaud

I bow to you

If your heart aches because you’ve given until everything in you is gone

And your kid declares, “It’s not enough.”

And you feel the crack of your own soul as you whisper,

“I know, baby. But it’s all mama’s got.”

Oh, how I bow to you

If they are your life while you are their nurse, tutor, maid

Bread winner and bread baker,

Coach, cheerleader and teammate…

If you bleed when your child falls down

I bow, I bow, I bow

If you’re both punisher and hugger

And your own tears are drowned out by the running of the bathroom faucet

because children can’t know that mamas hurt too

Oh, mother of mothers, I bow to you.

—Toni Sorenson



Inspiration from Single Parent Bloggers Worth Checking Out

www.singlemothersbychoice.org/blog

epicmommyadventures.com

http://www.jrrmblog.com/

http://arlsworld.net

http://www.spellyourhappiness.com

http://icitizenmag.com/articles.html

http://thesuccessfulsinglemom.blogspot.com/

Benefits of Bare Feet and Bare Ground

One of the things I love best about public speaking is the meet and greet before and after. I’m honored and humbled to connect with people, to hear their stories and to be reminded that we’re all taking our turn on this planet at the same time, sharing the same natural resources and many of the same experiences and emotions. I believe we should be helping each other and not competing or battling each other.

So for Wally, who asked me to be specific about this blog’s intent…that’s it. I want to share experiences; emotions and ideas that will somehow connect us, unite us and strengthen us. Sometimes it will just entertain me. Because I’m absolutely passionate about the human brain, I’m hoping to drop some “brain stuff” in along the way. I’m not an expert—in anything. Just a student of life and someone who is climbing out of a very deep, dark pit, regaining my joy, my health, my strength, and my purpose. If something works for me, I want to share it with you.

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “One step at a time is good walking.”

That’s all any of us can manage.

So thanks too, to Howie, for reminding me of something I’d forgotten: when we lose our connection to the earth itself, we lose a vital energy and stability. Yet we live in a world where our skin seldom comes in contact with soil, sand, rock, even with grass. Instead, we operate in an environment of asphalt and laminate. Of carpet, wood and tile. Our shoes are constructed of non-conductive materials like rubber and plastic which prevent nature from coming into contact with the tender soles of our feet. Think back to yesterday. Did your feet actually touch anything that wasn’t man made? When is the last time the gardener in you plunged your bare hands into loamy soil?

Earthing or Grounding

No wonder there’s an age-old new-age healing technique being heralded by wellness experts from across the globe. It’s called earthing or grounding. The idea is that our bodies are jam packed with positive electrons we acquire from common things like cell phones, computers, WI-FI, and even microwaves. By coupling our skin to the earth’s ground we become suffused with negative charged free electrons and we “get grounded”. When we find this balance the health benefits range from a reduction in inflammation to a better night’s sleep and all kinds of health perks in between.

It’s undeniable that we’re made from Earth (oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, etc.), so it stands to reason that a disconnection from her serenity and strength leads us away from our own peace and power. Studies show that our anterior insular cortex, the part of the brain associated with empathy and love, is stimulated by contact with nature. Getting “in touch” with nature alters our chemistry and thereby alters our moods.

Thanks to the challenge of a friend, for the past few weeks, I’ve been making a conscious effort to re-connect with earth and nature in general. I’m walking through the grass barefoot, grateful for the emotional shift (also grateful that we have a tiny dog.) I’m not sure my family would say my mood has improved, but I find myself really looking forward to my time in nature.

It’s A Business

Earthing is a booming business, a trend that offers expensive kits with special mats made of silver conductive thread, all kinds of wires and bands so you can get grounded even when you’re inside. Some even come with packages of soil or root chakra crystals you can carry in your pocket and clutch when you feel disconnected, can’t sleep, and or suffer the pangs of anxiety. Lots of users praise the practice. I’ll keep you posted on my own progress and feel free to share your experiences.

I’ve included some links to give you more in-depth information. For now I’m sticking with the least expensive methods and the simplest way to connect and ground to earth. I’m heading outside to breath fresh air, to feel the soil against my skin and maybe even to hug a tree.

References:

Book: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever

Hartig, T. (1991). Restorative effects of natural environment experiences. Environment and Behavior, 23, 3.

Energy Healing Info: http://www.energy-healing-info.com/grounding-techniques.html

Stardrift:www.stardrift.net/survivor/senses.html

Dr. Well:www.drweil.com/…/is-there-anything-to-earthing

http://chemistry.about.com/cs/howthingswork/f/blbodyelements.htm

https://bartonpublishing.com/

Naming Monsters

You can’t make this stuff up. And no, there’s no redeeming value in the telling of this tale. But this afternoon I’m sitting in the car with three of my g-babies while my daughter, Devyn, runs into the toy store to buy birthday present for a friend.

Kindergarten Tennyson climbs up front with me. “My mom’s going to buy Rosie a Monster High doll.”

“Which one?”

Her little eyes roll back and forth, the way they do when she thinks hard. “Let’s see…I’ve got Frankie. Atticus has Lagoona. Rosie’s gonna get Draculaura!”

I pretend to feel left out. “What about me—what should I get?”

She sighs and does a couple more eye rolls.

Tennyson’s my eldest, and as you can see from the photos, she’s the one who gets into the spirit of Halloween with me, so I growl and make my hand into a claw because there’s a doll called Clawdeen.

Tennyson is thinking hard, but really struggling to recall the name.

To prod her, I growl again and bring my claw hand toward her face.

“I got it, G-Mom!” she shouts. “You should get Clawmydia!”

The Question Most of the World Can’t Answer…but now you can.

This morning I woke up at 4:57 a.m. with a song in my head demanding to know, “What Does The Fox Say?”

It’s pitch dark in my room at 4:57 a.m.

And deadly silent.

For a second I thought I was being punked.

But no. It was all me and my crazy brain.

So I did my morning yoga practice bobbing to that song playing in my head. Nothing tranquil about that, so I grabbed my tablet, and looked up Ylvis. You remember the Norwegian brothers Vegard and Bard Ylvisaker. No? Well, you’ll remember their 2013 song. To date, “What Does The Fox Say?” has a measly 628,999,032 views.

The photo is of our little Tennyson, being the fox.

Was it only three years ago? That catchy lil’ tune was on a constant loop playing on late night television, as background music in  grocery stores and blaring from cars idling at the stop light. It was everywhere. And then it wasn’t.

It had its moment.

That’s all any of us ever really get. A moment. A moment to be a child. A moment to be a teenager. A moment when love is new and tingly. A moment to hold that brand new, still-wrinkly-from-being-crammed-in-the-womb, baby. A moment to make a difference. A moment and no more.

Then everything changes. Everyone changes.

Carpe diem is the Latin aphorism meaning “to seize the day.” But what about seizing the moment?  That means living right now and not waiting for the right moment, but like they say, to make the moment right.

Since this blog asks questions and seeks answers, I asked a weird question. Nobody can call us dumb if we know something most of the world doesn’t know: HOW LONG IS A MOMENT?

Here’s the research paraphrased: A moment was actually a medieval time unit based on a solar hour—40 movements of a shadow on a sundial. An hour meant one twelfth of the period between sunrise and sunset, so the hour depended on the length of the day, which like today, varies with the season.

The short answer is 90 seconds. A moment equates to 90 seconds.

So now you know something most people don’t know. You also know that you don’t have a moment to waste, and you’ve got reason to have a stellar day because you’re smarter than you were a moment ago.

The Secret To Being Strong When You Feel Weak

My friend A is going through the challenge of her life. This past summer she discovered that her husband is a closet drug addict, that he’s plummeted their family into a whirlpool of debt, and that he lost his job—months ago. A feels betrayed. Stupid. Lost. Frightened. “But mostly I feel weak,” she admits. “Right now I need to be stronger than I ever have, for myself, our children, and our family. How do I do it?”

It wasn’t that many years ago I was where A is. One night I waited until the kids were all asleep. I knelt at my bedside and tried to pray. I didn’t have the strength to muster a single word. All I could do was curl like a comma on the floor, all night long, too empty and broken and weak to even reach for a cover to pull over my cold, bare feet. That’s how weak I was.

Fast forward to this past weekend. With God’s help, I hiked a mountain.

So yeah, it’s possible to do the impossible. It’s possible for anyone.

If you’re going through something that requires strength, but you feel weak, there’s no one-size-stretches-to-fit-all solution. But there is a way to be stronger than you suspect possible. Over the past thirty years I’ve worked with 12-steppers, addicts and displaced people from all corners of the globe. I’ve seen lives as shattered as Humpty-Dumpty’s. The people who manage to rise in wisdom and strength all have one thing in common. Let’s spell it out.

  • F is for FEEL. Just because we feel weak doesn’t mean we are. Strong people understand the nature of feelings. They’re fickle and fleeting. Even the good ones. So strong people feel what they feel. They don’t deny, suppress or try to change their feelings. They might not even act on them. They simple identify and accept what they’re feeling, but refuse to feel sorry for themselves or blame someone else for how they feel.
  • X is for X-ING OUT what needs to be gone. Strong people X out the parts of their past that caused them pain. They don’t deny that painful things happened, but they don’t allow them to keep happening. X out old stories that always end with you as the victim. X out hurdles that make your mind palace an obstacle course. We refer to our former lovers as our “exes.” Know why? Because ex is a Latin word for “out of.” So get whatever hurts you “out of” your life. Put up borders and boundaries and buy guard dogs if you have to, to keep those X’ed out things from coming back. And don’t you dare feel guilty for X-ing out what needs to be out. It’s your sanity. It’s your sanctuary. It’s your strength. Keep these things safe at all costs.
  • E is for ENERGIZE. Strong people look for sources that bring them strength. It might be a nutritious meal. It might be a sweaty workout. It might be a heartfelt prayer or a long meditation. Go for a walk in nature to renew and restore your energy resources. Read a book that inspires you or just transports you to somewhere you want to be. Make love all night long. There’s nothing like the human touch to energize you. And don’t underestimate the replenishing powers of a good night’s sleep. It’s when  glial cells detoxify your brain. Seriously. These hard working brain cells (only recently discovered) put their best effort forth while you’re fast asleep. They remove toxins and leftover residue from the billions of chemical reactions that take place every day in your brain.
  • L is for LET GO. “Let go and Let God” is a tattered, but powerful AA motto. It means to let go of whatever is holding you down and holding you back. Let go of fear, resentment, unforgiveness, hatred, disappointment, pain, frustration, whatever it is. Let it go.
  • U is for UNITY.   It’s true that strength is found in numbers, and that we all need our tribe of people we can count on. More than that, strong people are internally uified. There’s harmony in the mind and the heart. In an earlier post we learned that integrity means whole. Strong people are not internally divided. Though they might be broken and bruised, what they believe on the inside is what they live on the outside.
  • R is for REPAIR. This is huge. Strong people take the time to repair things right away when they break. Strong people don’t tolerate leaky faucets. They stop the drip before it drives them slowly crazy. Same with a leaky character. They repair as they go and don’t wait until the problem is so big it can’t be fixed.
  • E is for EXPECT. Strong people expect good things to happen—when they happen. They take an, “It’ll all work out,” approach to life. That means admitting that we are powerless. God is the only one with the ultimate controller in His hand. He says when life starts, when it stops, when it slows down and when it speeds up. Struggle is part of life. It’s what makes is strong.

You’ve just spelled our word of the day: FLEXURE.

FLEXURE means to bend. It’s the secret I want you to always  remember. The strongest people on earth are people who bend and roll with the punches. They don’t go rigid and brittle and break when they take a hit. They accept and adapt through flexure. The overused analogy is a tree in a storm.. It does not uproot…because it bends. It does not stop providing shelter or shade because it bends. It does not stop being a mighty tree because it bends. It survives because it bends. And because it bends it takes on a shape unique to the challenges it conquers. In other words,  it becomes stronger.

Learn to bend, my friend, A, and my friends everywhere. It’s how to be strong when you feel weak.