Week 8 – Life is but a dream

I’m starting to notice all the missed opportunities that sneak by due to my lack of follow up or fear of success. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at a Bariatric Convention in Georgia. I didn’t do it because there wasn’t enough time to prepare and it didn’t pay more than the cost of my hotel. In hind sight, it would have been great to visit a warm state in the middle of winter and it would have helped me gain experience and an audience to follow me. This year someone called me to give me their completely functioning almost new refrigerator, which was awesome as ours recently has been having issues, but I didn’t call him back in time. I forgot about the message he left before we went on vacation. By the time I got a hold of him, he had given it to someone else. I’ve missed photography and speaking opportunities because I didn’t call back right away. It makes me wonder why I am doing this to myself? Why am I holding back? Why am I afraid to be successful? Maybe it’s because I haven’t attained success with out my world crashing down around me soon after? Maybe because it’s really balance, not success I seek? Am I just reluctant to change, or is it not what’s in my heart’s desire to do?  Were these opportunities just not meant to be? Sometimes it works out best I didn’t do it in the long run. It’s hard to read the signs and know the right path.

There have been new opportunities to come along that I have grabbed a hold of, like this coarse. I’ve also been invited to go to Florence, Italy to study Photography and Lighting from 2 of my favorite Master Photographers and would be traveling with another photographer friend from Michigan. Florence is one of the places I’ve wanted to go since Art school. The only problem; it costs $4,000 to do it. My heart wants to grab all my credit cards to pool the $1500 down I need right away and figure out the rest as I go, but how selfish is that when I have three kids at home who need things? How can I justify spending that on myself when my step-son needs braces? When my husband works hard to support the financial responsibilities. How do I break the old blue print? I’ve already asked myself what can I sell/book to make this happen, but there still that voice of doubt whispering in my ear.

I was looking forward to the call on Sunday and am happy to see that I am completely committed to blocking off that time. I was also happy to hear that they are thinking of having a live workshop there in Kauai. Yes, please! Hawaii is the beginning of my awakening twelve years ago and is someplace I know I must return to in a full circle of change. They also mentioned that it would be in May of next year, which is the same month as the Italy trip. Well then. Trying to get my mind to reach to the notion that I might make this Italy thing possible and now find out about the other workshop in Kauai the same month, my mind is blown. How can I make them both possible in such a short amount of time and with out my husband divorcing me? I say this jokingly because he works hard too and after seven years of marriage, we have yet to have a honeymoon. I’ll tell you one thing, I deserve them both for all of my hard work and efforts these last twelve years. Perhaps Kauai and my Hawaii experience are not the full circle I am trying to make it to be. I have never been to Kauai and want the chance to return to the Big Island and Oahu to re-experience them with both my new body, new knowledge of photography and with the right husband (more details on that life changing trip will have to be in another post). My mind is left racing with the possibilities while the clock is ticking down. Maybe it will all come together. Maybe I should just see how much I can come up with and see where it gets me? At least I can say I tried right?

Last week we were to start putting together a dream board with the associated shapes and colors from our index cards. I have started a dream wall and will be putting up all things Italian and Hawaiian, but am seriously lacking in the index card area. I messed up when I did the first card. I gave myself too hard of a task and didn’t follow through with it. I was pretty disgusted with myself and I haven’t touched an index card since. I feel like I have just confessed a cardinal sin. I have made steps toward doing it again, like re watching that webinar, but then find excuses or procrastinate. I still wonder if I am too far gone, but I always keep my promises and will find a way to catch up. DO IT NOW! DO IT NOW! DO IT NOW! Right after I give the kids a bath and put them to bed.

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Our first family vacation

We were on our first family vacation since Lily, age 5 and Jackson, age 4 were born. We managed to get all of us together and even had Mason (21), Zack (11) and Piper the dog along for the grand adventure. After a 4 hour ride, we arrived at the beautiful little town of Mackinaw City to spend the night. This was a beautiful gift and idea from my husband so that I could have time to photograph the Mackinaw bridge, Sunset on Lake Michigan and Sunrise on Lake Huron. We pulled into the parking lot of our hotel which was a large building with tan siding and lots of large white trimmed windows. The kids all piled out of the car and walked toward the building. Lily excited called out, “Is this our new house?!” while we were walking up the stairs to our room. I chuckled as I opened the door and let the kids in. Lily and Jackson looked about the room in amazement and agreed to each other with eager nods that this must indeed be our new house and thought it was cool that all the beds were in the same room. I tried to explain to them that we were only staying there for a night, but they were so excited that they chose not to hear such things from me.up-w-3-0107

Lily, Jackson and I walked back out to the car to get some more luggage. Meanwhile, another family had parked near us and were also bringing their belongings to their room. The father happen to be walking up the flight of stairs opposite to us and we landed on the next level at the same time. This caught Lily by surprise and she immediately took a defensive pose in front of all of us and said to the stranger with hand out and finger pointed, “HEY! THIS IS OUR HOUSE!” The man smiled at her tenacity and went off to his room while I explained to Lily and Jackson that there were many people staying in the same big house. Lily seemed reluctant that this could be a possible truth as she scowled at the man walking down the long exterior corridor in the opposite direction, but after he opened another door and went in, she happily skipped to our room, ran inside and plopped down on a bed.

Not only was that experience one that my family will look back on and laugh, but it illustrates my daughter’s strong spirit and that she will defend her family and fight for what she thinks is right. It’s amazing how young these traits shine through. She already knows who she is, just like we all did when we were 5 years old. She hasn’t gone though all of the “learning” that us adults have and is as pure minded as I now long to become. Maybe my kids can help me take off some of those layers of education.

Week 7 – And I start over again…

I did this either week one or the week prior to the class starting. I’m not sure which, but I like that I have already attempted the 7 day mental diet before and have already seen how negative my thoughts are. I am excited to go through it again after feeling like I have made some progress. The first thing I did, was put together the texts in a book format, about the size of “The Greatest Salesman.” I had done this because I felt the large text on horizontal pages hard to flip through, making the task harder for me to commit to. Once I did that, I was pleased with how much I followed through with the readings.

I thought I would do much better this time around, but I have to admit, I still have a lot of negative thoughts. I’ve had to start over every day and that’s even with reading the second scroll and starting each day with love. I kind of would like to restart the whole coarse now and am hoping they let us retake it along with the next group. I love everything I am learning, but not sure I can catch back up to the point that I will gain maximum benefit. I am not going to stop now though. I told myself I can do it and do it I will.

I am enlisting the help of my son Zack, whom is only 11, but could also benefit from this coarse. I love the idea of him realizing the potential inside him and feel that he has a thirst for knowledge and understanding that can lead him to greatness. If anything, the principals taught in the Mastermind coarse is the greatest gift I could give him. I am hoping that starting over with him while maintaining what I am now learning will not only spark great enthusiasm in him, but help me to catch up on my index cards and dream board.

Week 6 – I will begin each day with love.

It is with perfect timing I receive the second scroll. The last week has been a whirlwind of events and emotions for me. With the election, protests at Standing Rock, and maintaining a family of five while trying to run a business, I’ve been running a little dry. It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness life and forget what you are striving for, especially when life throws you a curve ball. Here comes one for me. My Aunt has cancer again and just had a tumor removed from her neck. This is already enough cause for some deep contemplation in my life. She was only 39 when she found out she had breast cancer, only two years older than I am now. Thankfully she made it with a partial mastectomy and has lived a full life since, yet I know the thought of having to go through it all again scares her and it scares me. Now let’s throw another one. They also found a lump in my mom’s neck.

Wow, that one hit me like a ton of bricks and though we have very little information at this time, it has made me think about my relationships, especially the one between my mother and I and me and my kids. My mother and I have always butted heads so to speak. She never really accepted or understood me and held me to a set of expectations that were unattainable with my style of development. I was often the brunt of her own insecurities and self-hate turned outward in an explosion or ridicule and lies, but I now understand how she was really overwhelmed and needed to love herself before she could love anyone else. To this day my poor mother is still trapped a skewed perspective at times, but I know she’s got to be the one who wants to change and I must remain open and compassionate to her efforts.

I know it’s not possible that my mother would be infallible, but it certainly didn’t seem like anything could happen to her as she always seemed tough as nails or in control of everything. I have noticed this shift in her existence in her recent years and am proud of her for at least trying. In return, I have responded by practicing forgiveness and compassion. Now she continues to teach me how to be strong and persevere in the face of adversity. I’ve watched this woman go through so much and still persevere. This experience has somehow forced my consciousness beyond my body, allowing me to see a bigger picture. I am now the observer and as such, it has made me reevaluate what I really want out of this life and the legacy I want to leave behind. I begin each day with love in my heart and now I will focus it to be the first thought in every interaction. I now see how important love is and how much we as people need it and are even deprived of this most basic of needs.

So now that I have gained this important insight, her biopsy will come back good and balance will be restored to our family.

I am happy to report this last manifestation came true. She’s fine.

Little Tiger Lily

Little girls are supposed to be sugar, spice and everything nice right? Well, I’m here to tell you, somehow there was a little extra spice put in my little girl. Even when she was still growing inside me, she made my life difficult. I was sick every day of my pregnancy. Literally, I dry heaved every day, multiple times a day. I could not gain weight. I was anemic and at high risk for preterm delivery. I spent the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy on bed rest because she could literally fall out of me at 32 weeks. She came out with the same intensity and demands when she was born 2 weeks early, weighing in at a mere 5lbs, 9oz and was otherwise completely healthy.

I was a first time mom and let’s face it, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. Lily, the poor girl, was having a hard time keeping anything down. She had colic, acid reflux and never seemed satisfied as a baby. Dave always laughed and said, “She goes 0-90 in 2 seconds.” And she did. It is legend in my family that if a girl is born in mid-September, she will be blessed with certain traits like a strong will and a feisty temperament.  This has been true so far in my Great-Grandmother, born September 15th, my Grandmother, born September 21st, and my sister, also born September 15th and now my Lily… born September 19th. I have to admit, it’s uncanny how much my Lily is like my little sister, whom was always pushing boundaries and my buttons when she was a kid. I guess it’s karma that my first would be like her. I have to admit that she was such a hard, demanding and exhausting personality for me that I wasn’t sure I could go through it all again. It was around her one year birthday that I finally felt a shimmer of my old self return to me and that I might actually make it through all of this still sane. That when I found out I was pregnant again.

Fast forward a couple of years to Lily at age 3-4 and in Preschool. Preschool was no different for me. I was still always jumping through the next hoop only to find that I had missed it entirely. I never had her book orders ready, I didn’t volunteer much to help out and when I did, Jackson who was only 18 months old made things…well interesting. Every day Lily would throw a fit about going to school and when she was there, she would not follow along with the rest of the class. She would only wear sweat pants and a mismatched sweatshirt. That’s what was comfy to her. She hated dresses or anything that required me touching her hair. Finally one day I caught her in a happy mood and she wanted to dress pretty for school. This may have been because a couple of girls in her class were noticing that she was never as neatly dressed as they were. So, we picked out a cute little pink skirt, matching shirt and some leggings, did her hair and she was ready to go. I walk in to school feeling like I finally got my shit together, only to find out that it was pajama day. Face palm. This is a metaphor for my entire existence as a parent.

Voting Day

I was feeling the dismal effect of this harsh, cold and bitter election. Normally I am proud to serve my country, but I have felt overwhelmed about one of the candidates. So I brought my 4 year old along with me to vote today. I could have left him home with his dad, but I kind of wanted the entertainment. He was excited to go to this new place where they had the “boats” and proceeded to pack his fart can. “Woah…. what do you got there bud?” I asked. Jackson replies with enthusiasm, “My Fart Can!” I respond, “Yes, I see that, but what are you going to do with it?” “I’m going to stand behind someone and push this button like this! And they will think they farted. *can makes farting noise while he cracks up*””Yea, the fart can has to stay home.” I quickly reply. I have to admit though, given the bleakness of the crowd at the polls, the fart can may have been the highlight of the day. Jackson left the voting polls thinking it was the coolest place ever even though he didn’t see any boats and was very pleased with the amount of free stickers he got! It’s like walking around with Curious George. I love it! Thanks for making my voting experience great regardless of who the candidates are.

When Lily and Jackson got home from school, Jackson proudly displayed his “I Voted” stickers to Lily and told her the he and I went to vote today, but that she couldn’t do it because she was at school. Lily then screamed, “WHAT?! I LOVE TO VOTE!” and proceeded to scold me, “MOMMY! DID YOU GO AND VOTE WITH OUT ME?! To which I replied carefully, “Yeeessss, but Daddy still has to go vote. Perhaps he will take you with him?” After convincing Dave to take bother her and Jackson,  she then informed me that you had to be 18 to vote and I agreed. So, off goes Dave to the polls with both Lily and Jackson. On the way, Lily made sure to tell Dave that you had to be 18 to vote as well and asked him how old he was. Upon finding out his age, she was amazed at how much older than 18 he was. She seemed hesitant to go into the polling place and told Dave she didn’t want anyone to see her. He finally convinced her to go in. When they were greeted by the volunteer inside, Lily immediately told the woman that she was not 18; she was 6 and Jackson was 4.  Jackson then backed her up with arms spread like wings and a big grin while shouting heroically, “Captain America!” and flying away from the situation. I bet that lady will remember that one all night.

I guess this experience has taught me that showmanship is everything. Even to a six year old.

Week 5- No Opinion Needed

One of our challenges this week was to not have an opinion. This is something that has been in the back of my mind for years as I am a Dale Carnegie Graduate and Assistant Coach and think that rule number one, Don’t criticize, condemn and complain,  is one of the most important of all the 10 human relations principals and feel that this exercise is very similar to this. Yet my years of experience and training didn’t help me live this concept any easier. Though I agree with it completely, I still felt and saw that I had many opinions and even when I didn’t speak them, my family already knew they were there because my face would change for the minute they popped in and popped back out of my head.

I was also challenged by the very world around me as many as seven Native American tribes came together to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline and began to set up camp, creating the largest Native American stand since we invaded and took over their land. In an instant, I was reminded of when I was a little girl and listening to my elderly neighbor talk about his childhood. One of the most disturbing stories he told me was of the Native Americans that lived here in Michigan, on the very land that my family now owned. He said they co-existed together and were friends. They helped them understand and work the land, just like they taught us in school. But one day, they came and took them from their homes, put them in cages and moved them far away out west. His family even tried to hide their friends in their cellar, but they were found and taken away. One might think he was telling a tall tale or maybe trying to scare me, but the ghost white look on his face and the fear in is eyes as he relived the traumatizing experience told me otherwise. I felt a deep cry with in to stand up for what I thought was right.

There are many controversies surrounded the situation at Standing Rock, ND and I found it hard to not have an opinion on it as both the environment and how we treated Indigenous peoples mean a lot to me. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to get involved in preserving our environment and remember the Exxon spill in the early 90’s being a catalyst in my awakening to the problems that faced my generation. I couldn’t help but immerse myself in it. I shared all of the posts, cries for help and documentation of what was going on. I sent them a donation, encouraged my friends to help and even planned to go to a protest to be held on the Capitol lawn in Lansing. On one hand, it felt great to be a part of a movement, to be following through with something that was so important to me as a child. I felt that I had finally acknowledged a core belief and my inner self was so happy to be heard. At the same time, I felt like this was also counter productive to my ultimate goal to influence my life with positive things and well to not have an opinion. My soul felt heavy with sorrow and powerless to evoke real change. If our minds are so powerful that they can manifest our reality, then I should be able to stop all of this once I learn how to master my mind right?