Quiet Strength & Boat Docks

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to spend time in beautiful Trout Creek, Montana. What an opportunity for a previous Montana girl! I was thrilled to be in a gorgeous setting surrounded by people who have done nothing but bless me since I’ve known them. It was refreshing to be somewhat off the grid while being in such a space that allowed me to recharge and focus on¬†getting back to what is truly important in this life. I take sole responsibility for the fact that there was no post last week but am also owning up to the fact that this life is meant to be enjoyed. I’ve also come to the conclusion that one post I’m proud of and took time to write is better than two hurried posts in one week. All about balance friends. ūüôā

A short walk from our cabin (and I mean merely steps), was a dock. On my last evening in Montana, I headed for the dock, book in hand and fully ready for peace. While I was laying there, with the sun dancing out at me whenever the clouds fancied moving out of the way, I was content. As the dock gently held me, I listened to the water swishing against the sides of it and felt such stillness. Between all going on in my life, these moments are rare for me. I become contemplative and exceedingly grateful whenever I am lucky enough to have such experiences.

IMG_20170602_154334612Towards the end of my Montana weekend, I had heard this word, “quiet strength,” used in reference to me. I didn’t know that I had entirely believed it at first but the more I allowed myself to accept love not only from others but also myself, the more I realized it might not be so crazy after all.

When the waves and water are crashing up against the side of the dock, it remains strong and in place. It might sway a bit with the forces of nature going on around it but will continue to stand firmly. I have been pushed along and nearly faltered at times, yet this reserve of strength within keeps me going. It was never about whether the dock moved when situations were uncertain or trying. But rather, the fact that it was able to hold itself up no matter what came at it. Even supporting others in the process at times. What is below the surface when the world is doing its very best to drag us down is the source of something incredibly great.

Our unique characteristics and personalities are not to be shied away from. Each of us exudes our strength differently and perhaps, some are still on the journey to find what that looks like. After the passing of my mom and the events that followed, I began to see how clearly defined my strength really was. It didn’t look like my sister’s, my mom’s or even the woman next to me. It was divinely my own. How I performed under pressure, the choices I made in the aftermath of hurt and seeking to focus on being the very best me I can, no matter what. Looking back, I was shaken and life crashed down on me hard. The waves still rock me, reminding me of the fragility of it all and to take nothing for granted. ¬†One of the absolute best take-aways from these past couple of years is to finally know me. To stand with my head held high in the face of conflict, to admit when I am wrong and to accept others with the same grace I ask for. I am blessed to walk in that knowledge each day. To face the woman in the mirror with 100% confidence and say, “Quiet strength is anything but weak. You are fierce. You are mighty. You are enough.”

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Boundaries & Blooming

Once a week, I have lunch with a spunky and sassy 7th grader. We’ve been doing this for two years now. Back then, she used to whoop me at Connect Four or Hangman in the library. Now, she loves fake nails and the subject of boys most always pops into our conversations. The school she’s at is bursting at the seams with toughness and she has grown to fit her environment. The cafeteria, with its chaotic symphony of curse words and reprimanding teachers, makes me dizzy. This has been my toughest year as her mentor. I honestly don’t know how we made it to the end of the school year some days.

A couple of weeks ago, I¬†made the decision to end our mentoring session early. I 100% didn’t want to do this but her actions spoke loudly that day. I can see how much we both have shifted. Her, on the cusp of childhood ending and wandering into that space where we discover who we are as women. Me, wanting to let her know that absolutely anything she yearns for in this life is attainable. Both of us at a standstill in this space. I have come to adore all pieces of her because even in the moments of frustration, when the language is unbearable, I catch glimpses of her sweetness. I’ve learned she is not the sum of these actions but trying to stay afloat in the sea of changes she is constantly presented with has worn her out.

I didn’t want to walk away that day but I needed to. We had consistently approached the topic of respecting our time together and that day, all such discussions went out the window. I told her friend I needed to leave and explained why. I went to my car, with the tears flowing from the weight of my decision. Being a mentor (at least through this program) is a fine line some days. It is limited to contact only within the school and there are guidelines, understandably, for the safety of the students. I needed her to know how great she was but how do I convey that when everything else is trying to pull her down?

We create boundaries, not only out of need for ourselves, but to say we care. Drawing that line. Saying no more. They don’t seem like acts of love do they? They are when we show up again. When we know the lesson is needed. When we halt, take that person by the hand and say, “I want you to see all you are capable of. The brushstrokes you will one day leave behind on the masterpiece of life. But, it can’t be here. Not while you are unwilling to take care of yourself. We need to resolve that part first.” So, we build the fence and leave that opening. Healthy boundaries mean we recognize that person can come back when they’re ready. And you’ll be there waiting, ready to take those next steps.

I’m beginning my Masters’ program in the fall and will have to put off mentoring. I felt guilty about this at first but have finally been able to find some peace. I haven’t the slightest idea if she’ll remember me down the road. If the truth I spoke into her life will make a difference. She needs room to bloom though, that I can tell. I will keep hoping and praying she knows she is enough. That this big world can be pretty sucky (especially middle and high school) but it’s how many times you get back up that counts. I’d love for her to do great and wonderful things in this life. I also have to accept the fact that not everything blooms. Some struggle and pop out of the ground, suddenly, after years of nothing. Some might not at all and the ground will be tilled in order to begin again.

We can never discount the simple fact of showing up, each week, as a reminder that someone will be there.¬†Though difficult and heart-wrenching it may be, boundaries create space for love. When there is struggle and strife, when we are challenged to meet that person in uncertainty and where we may not feel comfortable, it’s not the time to quit. Make the line in the sand. Let them know you’re there. And when they’re ready, they just might take your hand. Ready to erase the line and welcome in something new. That which they might not have recognized before is now so clear. The simple and delightful notion that they are loved.

Dreampods & Cultivating Gifts

Friends, I’m working on having a¬†consistent weekly day/time for when new posts are released! Every Sunday at 8 am! (Pacific time) Perfect for you to read over your morning coffee (or brunch for you Midwesterners/Easterners). ūüôā

This week I partook in¬†something quite like anything else. An experience I will try to describe and one in which I would encourage anyone to look in to if they have even the slightest interest. I went “floating” and would gladly do it again. What exactly is “floating” you may ask…..

Float Spokane lists the opening line on their website as:

IMAGINE A WAY TO MELT AWAY THE STRESSES WE ALL FACE IN OUR DAILY LIVES. SOMEWHERE THAT ALLOWS YOU PEACE AND TRANQUILITY IN AN ULTRA SAFE ENVIRONMENT. A PLACE WHERE IT’S JUST YOU AND YOUR HEARTBEAT, THE SOUND OF YOUR OWN BREATH, AND THE QUIETNESS YOUR SOUL YEARNS FOR…

Super descriptive right?! While it does sound rather meditative (or perhaps like an intro for a retirement community) in the singing bowls, chakra-what sort of way, I can assure you that it lives up to its promise. (Disclaimer: We are all at varying places in our life journey. We all respond to our environments differently. While I soak up the thought of being in stillness whether through yoga/meditation/etc., I realize that is not the case for everyone. This is simply based on what I took away from my float.)

A further description on the website lists “floating” as:

During a float session, you are suspended in a high density solution of magnesium sulfates (epsom salts) and 225 gallons of 93 degree skin temperature water. The idea behind floating is to deprive the user of all external stimuli and allow the body and mind to go about finding areas that it needs to naturally heal. All of this takes place in our top of the line Dreampod floatation tanks, one of the most luxurious pods on the market. Entering the Dreampod transports the user into a new world of calm and tranquility where stresses and pains seem to just disappear. Backed by 30 years of research, floatation therapy is a natural tune up for the mind and body.

If you had previously asked me to do this in my lifetime, I¬†would not have been sure how to answer that.¬†However, I had received a gift certificate for my birthday and didn’t want to let it go to waste. I had heard some stories from friends and what I read online but also knew I wouldn’t truly understand if I didn’t at least try it out. So, I booked my appointment, prepared myself best I could and was on my way to float!

I arrived at the location and it had a very spa-like feeling upon entering. They had me watch a brief video about what the experience would be like and then I was on my way. Initially, upon entering the pod, it felt considerably akin to a large bath. I settled in and did my best to enjoy this. I chose to completely shut my pod door and turn off the inside light for the full effect. As I became accustomed to what was happening around me, my brain slowly began to turn off its chatter and I was enveloped in stillness, along with extreme peacefulness. How I felt throughout my float would morph during what I could describe as different phases. I was able to sink in to¬†more of a meditative state after about 20 minutes in and found myself finding answers to questions I’d tucked away.

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My Dreampod

 

One such question was whether I was truly cultivating that which has been given to me in this life. Call it God, the Universe, that little voice inside, or your subconscious. I am not certified to answer what exactly. All that I had been wondering and questioning within myself had suddenly been brought to light and while I didn’t always like what was being addressed, it was much needed. When asked if I was doing everything in my power to bring my gifts to the world I was met with a resounding, “No.” So simple, so concise, so quiet and yet it spoke so loudly. I thought I would be angrier with this revelation but I wasn’t.

In my acceptance, I simply reflected during this one peaceful hour of time I had allotted to myself. We enter this “Dreampod” of life and it is already filled for us. With our talents, gifts, unique perspective and all the magic of our souls we will sprinkle on to the world during our stay here. Our goal though, is to uncover it. How can we find, strengthen and grow that which we are given? You want to learn a new hobby. You’d like to implement change in your community. Maybe you’re thinking about going back to school. Or perhaps, feeding that creative, inspiring soul of yours.

Your pod has a little light and the temperature starts out just right. We are filled to the brim with uncertainty when we step in. What if I DON’T actually float? What if I sink? What if I’m uncomfortable? All of those add up, making this floating idea seem pretty dang frightening.¬†I have been semi-comfortable lately. Complacent in my current situation but knowing I need more depth. I recently made a decision to bring life goals to the forefront but I will 100% admit that my blog goals and writing took a backseat to all else. And while I believe in giving ourselves grace, I can also admit when Procrasto Girl (my alter ego) is making more appearances than usual.

 

13064489_10153649131893763_8137156684240159683_oI found that which fuels me….writing. To let that fizzle out with the constant….”I’ll do it tomorrows” would be doing myself a great disservice. I didn’t arrive here with answers but I am prepared to keep pushing and digging deep, to uncover those talents and keep polishing them. Perfecting them for an imperfect world. It isn’t easy and it isn’t meant to be. The very first time I published a blog post out in to the internet world for all to see was extremely terrifying. But, I received so much love from friends, family, and others I didn’t even know. An open heart and a love of written words. Those were two pieces that made me Heather. I was only just beginning to see how far they would take me at the time. Looking ahead, I see that there is only infinite room for me to¬†hone those skills. May you all have the chance to do the same while we’re here.

Shine on friends.

 

 

 

Cavities & Do-Overs

I was in the grocery store a couple days ago and I spent an excessive amount of time in the oral care aisle. Immediately, two things came to mind:

  1. I’m getting older/more adultish/boring?!

  2. When did this become such a priority?

First of all, I would just like to state the extensive quantity of oral hygiene options that exist. From multi-flavored flosses to more toothpaste than I care to think about, it is, like most options in society, far more than we probably need.

Also, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t previously care about my teeth because I did. However, I also had settled on the fact that between my sisters and I, (at least the one closest in age to me), I received the short end of stick when it comes to being blessed with next to perfect teeth. I had braces, cavities and my wisdom teeth removed. On the other hand, my sister could scarf down 4 Jawbreakers, a bag of Hershey Kisses and a box of Milk Duds, all while not getting a single cavity in the process. How nice. (I love you anyways Han.)

I had a dentist appointment this past January and while I didn’t have any cavities that needed immediate attention, there were a couple trying to sneak their way in. My dentist informed me that with proper brushing, flossing and a slight cut back in sweets (gasp!), I could potentially reverse this process. While I am an avid fan of brushing my teeth, I do not excel quite as much in the flossing department. I really put forth a solid effort for awhile and then it just falls to the wayside. One of those things I’ll do tomorrow ya know? And then it is sort of forgotten about altogether or done occasionally, much like Thanksgiving dinner or cleaning the inside of your car. And that whole cutting back on sweets? I’m not even sure how to start that without some shedding some tears. (Especially these past couple of weeks—>Life changes which led to stress such as the following but are not limited to: A break-up, moving, taking my first CASA (guardian ad litem) case, leading a community group, wanting to be awesome in my new residential mentor role, etc.) So yes, sweets and I have become the very best of friends. Can I just add that I work at a place where we make frozen custard, which is pure deliciousness?? And Easter candy is out which means one fantastic piece of magic is currently in my life….Starburst Jellybeans. 1,000 times yes.

But, I have also acknowledged my increased sugar intake recently (as has my skin) and while it makes my nerve endings all happy with delight, it is also not so great for my overall health. Nor is it ideal for keeping my teeth for a good while longer. So, there I was, staring at the Scope, Crest and Colgate options filling the shelf. Flosses, toothpastes and mouthwashes oh my. I selected my items and left the store in the hopes of reaching a cavity-less future.

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May you find your love, light and peace within those chances at a fresh start

I got to thinking that we can often reverse or undo those greater decisions that we find ourselves in. Those choices or situations where we didn’t get it right the first time around but are greatly anticipating our chance at¬†a do-over. It can take more work, focus and discipline than we originally had planned. We maybe need to spend more time in the self-care aisle of life, selecting the resources or people¬†that will help us reach our desired outcome. Sometimes we slip up a bit, forgetting our routine regimen, but we also know how to self-correct in order to find our course again.¬†This season of my life has steadily been teaching me that. Just because I find myself alone again, I don’t have to fall back into old habits and unhealthy ways of coping. I can seek my footing in my faith, friends, and family. In the assuredness of who I am in this moment and all I am working towards becoming.¬†Never have I felt more peace and understanding in those doors that have been opened for me lately. Here’s to perseverance in the pursuit of keeping that which hinders our growth at bay.

Happy Sunday friends.

 

 

 

Blessed by Your Love: What I Found in Losing My Mom

I have put off writing this. All day I have wrestled internally with keeping it together so nobody knows the immense hurt that is bubbling to the surface inside. I have wanted to put off this “feelings” part altogether because the pain is unreal. Contrary to the hours, days and weeks we account for, grief is one aspect that cannot be measured. The loss of your presence in my life strikes abruptly. Tiny ¬†moments and increments that sneak into my life. At a wedding when a mom looks at her daughter with more love than she could ever hope to convey. When I find something that reminds me of you. A holiday, birthday or anniversary.

I didn’t know the world would keep spinning. That time would creep on, ever so slowly, keeping us all in its steady rhythm. That my tears would flow less often but my heart would still bear a fault line, your name forever etched in. How certain memories might make me burst into a smile with thoughts of you, yet others would cause me to pause in the moment as I realize I can no longer reminisce with you. How different of a world this is than the one I had envisioned, the one where you were there.

A friend once told me that my mom isn’t really gone, that I can simply start talking wherever I am, out in nature or during my day. That she’s right there with me. I’d like to note that, even as a woman of faith, just how badly I wanted to call bull on that. How I have still spent these past two years hurting, harboring anger at times, and navigating the ways in which I can lighten this burden. But then, I thought, what if she’s right? What if this is part of the healing process? This hurting heart is searching for peace and despite how stubborn I can be, I’m willing to try.

Dear Mom,

I feel I never thanked you as much as I should have. That I am still mad at how life played out and a couple of years during college were wasted in anger. I am simply amazed by all I still learn from you, how much more sure I am of myself now and that I know you would be so proud of me. Your strength was remarkable and your unending love was displayed in your willingness to always put your children first. I’m the luckiest for being able to call you mom!

I found fun in everyday moments. I found courage to stand up for what is right and true. I found that family doesn’t always mean blood but as long as the love is strong and welcoming, none of that matters. We were able to mesh that which was familiar and that which was new to create something lasting. Families are NOT picture perfect and I am so sorry I felt they needed to be. You will forever be an incredible woman and mother to me.¬†

 

I found somebody who believed in me. Someone who watched me play the clarinet at festivals and concerts, supporting my love of music. My biggest fan at my school plays, laughing in all the right places. You gave so much of yourself that I often wonder if there was any room left over for you? I will never understand how you did it all. Working late hours each day, dinners often prepared for us ahead of time, and still attending our events. You held us up and you held us together. The hardest working woman I knew, hands down.

I’m just now beginning to see how extensively you shaped me. How your love is still reaching me even after you’re gone. And no matter how many times others may have said that to me in the past, it is only now starting to feel that way. So yes, maybe I did need to get out of my own way. Quit overthinking and drop my uncertainty. (I’m also learning that there are no rules in grief, more of a feeling things out as you go along.)

In reflecting over all that you were, you helped me to discover who I am. I am capable and gifted. I am strong and loving. I am able to give because you continually gave all. I am forever held up by you and that can never be taken away from me. The pieces of you that reside within me are cherished and shared with the world.

Instead of wishing for more time, I’m going to be praying for more grace and keep filling my life with as much love as I can. Undoubtedly, your love was the best gift of all. The one which allowed me to reach the pinnacle in order to view myself and our relationship with more clarity. Sweet, sweet love that keeps finding a way to open my heart a little more each day.¬†

I love you Mom.

 

 

 

Who Are You When Nothing is Left?

I can’t speak for every single person but I do believe that the majority of us will arrive at a point in our lives where we will be tested beyond all measure. We will doubt ourselves and whether we can truly come back from this black hole of despair we have disappeared into. Life will seem to have lost its glow¬†and those rainy days will make it seem as if the whole world is feeling your pain. These situations look different for each and every one of us. It could be the loss of somebody close to you, a terrible break-up, toiling away effortlessly but not landing that dream job or maybe a divorce from somebody you spent countless years loving. It could be a combination of these because when it rains it most certainly can pour. How do you stand tall in the face of the hurricane? Regain that sparkle you once had?

The pain of my step-mother’s passing from ovarian cancer is still raw and fresh in my heart. A month and a half ago her spirit was carried away from a body that could no longer fight for her. It is painful and it hurts. No matter if we are ready for a loss or not, the emotions that are felt when that moment actually arrives¬†are indescribable. It is a head-spinning, leave you breathless, knock you to the ground and bring you to your knees kind of pain. It is real and unreal at the same time. All the words, hugs and prayers cannot rescue you from the depths of just how far these feelings reach. Nobody can fathom the moments that were shared, the memories you hold dear and the love you exuded for this person. You are left feeling utterly alone in this wide, open expanse.

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The person you are when you have nothing left can only be described as a heartbreaking test of character.

In addition, my boyfriend will be moving out this month and I will move in with a friend this summer when our lease is up. The word “breakup” is not easy for me to say. Not for somebody I’ve known for over six years. Not for somebody I moved thousands of miles for. Not for somebody I have loved with my heart and soul. This is a painful task for both of us and while I respect he needs to work on some things, I feel as though I know where things will go from here. A heart can only handle so much and mine is bursting at the seams recently. I wish I was better at following the advice I give to my friends because I would love nothing more than to walk away. However, I know he is hurting (for reasons I wish not to share) and no matter the circumstances I do not have it in me to abandon somebody who has meant so much to me. Is it worse when there aren’t hard feelings but you both know it has to end? Even though I have experienced both types of breakups, I’m not really sure I have the answer to that one.

All I can pray for at this time is peace and patience. The hurt and pain will subside in time. Just how much time is needed, well that I do not know. What I do know though is that one day the sun will feel just a bit warmer on my skin, the color of the flowers will be a bit brighter, my heart will smile again and I will laugh. But now is not that time. Life is about seasons and this is my storm that I am weathering. I am resilient and fierce. I will stand bravely in the face of the hurricane and I will come out on the other side, stronger and more confident than ever.