Defiance Moment

What do we hide from?

We hide from the things we fear.

What do we hide from others?

We hide the deepest truth of our hearts.

We live in a constant state of fear and scarcity, never believing that there will be enough to go around, enough to cover it all. We hold ourselves back from truly diving into life and living authentically because we’re afraid we won’t be accepted as we are or that love is somehow a limited resource that we will lose. So instead, we paint on a face that we think will satisfy the “thems” and “theys” and quietly let our truths and dreams die inside.

But when will the defining moment, or the defiance moment, be the turning point that sets you free? It’s up to you. You are the only one who can decide to look fear in the face and move past it. You are the only one who can choose to push past the discomfort of owning your truth and shed the skin of your pretense to become the person you’re truly meant to be.

It’s in learning to let go of preconceived ideas, subconscious baggage, and the knee jerk response to control that you will find the deepest levels of growth. The only person you own is yourself. The only person you can control is yourself. When we stop trying to control things from a place of fear, we can begin to live from a place of authenticity and experience life in its fullest and most beautiful form.

On the other side of fear is your freedom.

 

 

As My Girl Enters 1st Grade

Miss M starts first grade tomorrow and as she goes into another school I am sitting here thinking about the power of voice, the power of owning your story and knowing that what you have to say is of value. My hope for her this year and every year ahead is that she will know the power of her own voice, that she will own who she is and stand confidently in herself. That she will be confident but kind. That she will say what she needs to say and stand up for those who need her to be their voice.

Too often as women and girls, we are told to tone it down and to be “lady like,” which typically implies quiet and small. While I want my daughter to have class and to be polite, I refuse to ask her to fit into the stereotypical mold of “being a lady.” She has too much insight and love to offer the world to just sit back quietly.

I want her to be brave, to forge ahead even when she is scared and accomplish all the things she feels in her heart she is meant to do. I don’t want her to feel that she has to “fit in,” rather my desire is that she would find the courage and strength to bring others in instead. To bring those around her into a place of love and acceptance, as they are and for who they are.

“Kind people are brave people. Brave is not something you should wait to feel. Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

When she was born, she came out yelling and she has been a force ever since. She continually challenges me. She is smart, she is tenacious and she is full of passion for life. She is also tenderhearted and kind. I hope that she will never lose these qualities. I pray that as her mom, I will be able to channel her in the right directions, encourage her, stand by her and never try to change who she is. My heart breaks and burst with pride at the same time as I watch her learn and grow.

So into a new school year we go, hand in hand.

Madi –

You are the joy of my heart, you are the greatest gift. May you always know the power you hold deep inside. May you continue to let your love and light shine brightly. May you always have courage and be kind.

I love you, xo

Mom

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Let There Be Spaces

New relationships are always challenging, but when you begin one in the midst of chaos and change it adds another level of pressure. It has been a little over two years since R. and I started dating. He has been through some of the worst moments of my life with me and most certainly has seen me at my lowest point. We struggled, we went back and forth, we still struggle to meld two lives together. Something that came naturally in my 20’s is a whole lot harder in my 30’s. I have different ideas, a different outlook on life in general, I am a lot more opinionated and I still struggle to develop healthy headspace.

I didn’t grow up with a good sense of healthy boundaries, especially when it came to expressing emotion. We were a hot headed, loud and large family. We yelled a lot. When I got married, at twenty one, I continued this pattern in my marriage; high emotion and yelling. I thought this was normal, it was my normal but it was not healthy. My ex husband and I are both intense and emotional people, we did not know how to express our feelings appropriately or work out conflict in a constructive way. In some ways, this led to the breakdown of our relationship.

I am not saying that emotion is wrong or that you should stifle what you feel. I am a firm believer in being in touch with your emotions and your feelings. However, there’s a certain level of self control and self awareness that needs to exist so that your emotions do not control you or alienate others. As someone who also deals with anxiety, this is very difficult for me both in a relationship and as a parent. Some days I am able to internally cope and regulate, other days I miss the mark completely and end up hurting those closest to me.

One of the things that I have come to appreciate about R. is his ability to call me out on my crap. Obviously, I don’t appreciate it immediately but over time I have come to see the benefit of his insight and ability to stay calm more often than not. He has helped me to realize that plowing ahead full force with all my emotion and feeling is not healthy and in fact creates a disconnect with the people I love most. This was insight and understanding that I had never received before. I had never experienced life in any other way. My parent’s relationship was fraught with tension and emotion, my childhood and teenage years were full of high emotion and intensity, and my marriage followed the same pattern.

So here I am, in my 30’s trying to reconstruct my life and change the destructive patterns I have created in my life. I would love to say that I have figured this all out and that I am on my way. However, I am really at the beginning stages of mental reconstruction and self awareness. I have been presented with the challenge to change. I have said quite often that I believe change is a choice and I guess now would be the time for me to take those words to heart in a new way.

A few years ago, I participated the My One Word project. According to their website, “It’s okay to want to be a better you—the question is, how? My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. When you choose a single word, you have a single focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past … This process provides clarity by taking all your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single focus. Just one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future.” So although I am a little late to the party, I have decided that my word this year will be “Space.”

I need to develop a healthier head space, I need to make time for my own space in life, and I need to give those around me the space they need. In doing so, I believe that I will begin to develop better strategies for coping with my own emotions and also minimize my anxiety.

When it comes to relationships, I am all about togetherness but I am finally realizing that for a relationship to grow and to remain healthy, there must be “spaces in your togetherness.” You can not be your best self if you do not take the time and space to develop your best self. So this is my challenge and goal for the year.

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

Lessons in Brokenness and Beauty

These past two years have brought a lot of changes, a lot of emotional ups and downs, mental and emotional challenges that sometimes seemed insurmountable. Here on the other side now though, I have come to deeper understanding of what it means to live alive, to live without limits, and I have found that there is such beauty, strength, and peace here on the other side. There’s no such things as a “waste of time,” rather every moment becomes a part of you, a part of your story, your journey. If you allow it to, it will give you new depth, soften your hard edges, allow you to see what truly matters, and fill your heart with gratitude – All things work as they should.

Here are some of the things that I have written and learned along this journey …

2013 

You let yourself be vulnerable

And now your scared
Let it go
Quiet your spinning mind
And just trust
If one door closes, it was meant too
Another one will open
Be Brave
Know your worth
Ignore those who don’t
You are worth so much more
You are beautiful


It was all I ever wanted until it wasn’t anymore
Decided to take a leap of faith or insanity, I’m not sure
The thrill intoxicating, went straight to my head
The fire that was burning, demanding to be fed
Reaching for the unknown
Standing on unsteady feet
There’s courage in this uncertainty
Cause freedom is never free
I will stand my ground
Face my demons down
Find the courage I’ve been lacking
Even if my heart is breaking

I’m falling apart at the seams

My heart just keeps taking these hits
And I wonder how long I can go
With a heart wide open
Ever hopeful, I keep pressing on
But it seems so misguided these days
And I am constantly fighting the pain
Of giving so much of myself
Just to find this emptiness
I believe in love
It’s the very essence of all I am
Yet here I am doubting myself
Doubting the value of what I give
Stretched to the point of no return
I keep landing on my face
I know there is beauty to be found
I just can’t see it right now
My vision is so clouded with doubt
Where do I go from here?

Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as the field of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.
― Eckhart Tolle
2014

And she changed and she grew

Through the storms and the pain
She learned she was braver
Than she once knew
And she started to regain
Her place in this world
Finding a new life amidst the rubble
Of what was once her normal

“Sisu is a word that has no direct translation, but it refers to the idea of continuing to act even in the face of repeated failures and extreme odds. It is a way of living life by displaying perseverance even when you have reached the end of your mental and physical capacities”

2015

HAVE COURAGE & BE KIND

This is not a story of waste and loss, this is a story of something beautiful that you have done …

You gave that person your best and that’s all you can do.
The sacrifice makes it sacred. The cost makes it a holy act.
All the heartache becomes a sacred act of worship.
 — Rob Bell

Life is a balancing act of Fiercely holding on and gently letting go

Sometimes you just get broken and it sucks it really does. Moving forward feels like you’re struggling through deep mud, but above the sun is still shining and you hear the birds chirping and this keeps that tiny spark of hope inside of you alive. Your emotions are on roller coaster mode, anger, laughter, and tears keep arriving in a surprising succession. Your heart feels like the heaviest object you’ve ever carried. It doesn’t make sense and it probably never will but someday it won’t matter if it makes sense, it will just be. You know that giving up is just not an option so you force yourself to steady your aching heart and racing mind and keep pushing past all that appears to be waste, holding on to the lesson you’ve learned time and again, nothing is ever a waste.
There is always a purpose in the chaos.

Clinging tightly holds you back from the possibility of what could be   …

To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But, I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace.
– Brene Brown

Keep your eyes forward and your heart grateful, happiness will follow, I promise.

Always extend your self in love and in friendship because when you need it the most, it will come right back around to you in the most beautiful and unexpected ways. People are worth your heart and your time, that’s the real purpose of life. Community & Connection, We Belong to Each other.

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

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What If …

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What if we stopped worrying so much about what others are thinking and just allowed ourselves the freedom of being real? We are all in this crazy, chaotic, wonderfully messy, beautiful life together. Yet, we isolate ourselves because we’re afraid of others seeing our real, authentic selves.

I don’t have it all together, you don’t have it all together, but what if we decided to just do this thing called life together anyway?

We strive so hard to prove ourselves and find such loneliness in the process. We are hard wired for love, connection, and community.

What if we let go of our need for perfection? What if we allowed others to see us for who we really are? I know … It makes me cringe too. I don’t want others to see my dark, my weakness, my vulnerability. It’s scary to allow someone that close. But we have to open ourselves up to allow the light in …

So let me begin … Here I am and I have no idea where I’m going quite yet. Life has never gone according to my plan. Yet, the more I focus on how plans fell through, went haywire, or just plain fell apart the less time I’m able to spend in the moments of beauty that flow through each day of my life.

We will never do it all right, we will never attain perfection, we will never have it all together … The facade that these things are attainable keeps us apart. It’s time to let it go, to the let the love and light of connection flood the deepest, darkest parts of our souls.

We all, we all, we’re gonna be alright
We got, we got, we always got the fight in us. – Ingrid Michaelson

Reckless Heart

I will not stop giving my heart away

Recklessly

I will not stop loving with everything

I have

I will embrace this gut wrenching pain

I will take it and run with it

I will breath it in as fuel

To power my journey

It is the force that pushes me forward

Outside of myself

Into places I never thought I could go

It’s terrifying

The plunge that my heart continues to take

But it gives me life at its fullest

It spills over and washes my world

In full color

It allows me to see life

In all its bittersweet glory

And I’ll come to last leg of this journey

Knowing that I never gave just a little

There was no half way

And the reward will be in knowing

That there is no regret in love

Only brokenness made beautiful in the end

Falling Down Girl

A couple of weeks ago, Madi and I were in the yard and she was running around in her own imaginary world as she likes to do. When out of her mouth came this phrase, “The power of falling down! It happens to everyone.” I was struck by the power of the statement itself and her ability to put such a deep concept into words. In some ways it was a proud Mama moment as I realized that all the times I have told her, “Its ok, mistakes happen, let’s try again…” has now become a part of her subconscious. What amazing strength we would all have if we were able to approach life like this on a consistent basis!

There is power in falling down – it means you were trying to do something bigger than you’ve ever done before. Even though you didn’t make it all the way, you were still brave for trying. You put yourself out there, you were “actually in the arena.”

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while DARING GREATLY.” – T. Roosevelt

As she continued to play, she started to chant to herself, “I’m the falling down girl, I’m the falling down girl.” Again, I was struck by the depth of this statement and her proud ownership of this title. Too often, we shy away from the raw and the real, we want to appear as if we have it all together and that everything is perfect. In reality, there is nothing perfect and put together about life, its one big, crazy, chaotic, beautiful mess and we’re all just doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising everytime we fall. ― Nelson Mandela

So in our house, we’ll proudly say, we’re the falling down girls,  but we’re going to keep getting up over and over again!

So fall hard, fall with abandon, fall wildly, fall gracefully, fall however you will … but whatever you do, don’t be afraid to fall.

xo
Leah

Beautifully Imperfect – Happy New Year!

Today I have been contemplating the ending of a year and the beginning of a new one – In a similar way, one chapter of my life is ending and another is beginning. I committed to authenticity this year, it was my “one little word” for the year. It required deep soul searching, gut wrenching life decisions, and drastic changes. Now that sounds kinda awful and in some ways it was/is. However, along the journey, I also found true courage, moments of joy, unexpected grace, and new beginnings. It has not been easy but it has been worth it.

The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself. ― C. JoyBell C.

In a conversation I had recently, it was pointed out to me that I am currently “under renovation.” This is something that I am holding onto in many ways. If you have ever been through a renovation, you know that things never go as planned and that the process always takes longer than projected. Despite the chaos and mess involved though, the end product is always worth it; a new and improved version of what was there before. I have often heard the phrase “the house has good bones;” to me, that has always meant that a home has great potential for beauty, given some time and attention. I think life is like that; every life has “good bones” and the potential for beauty, it’s just a matter of being willing to embrace the pain of “renovation,” while holding onto the knowledge that it will all be worth it in the end.

I am reminded of the Japanese philosophy, wabi-sabi – the art of imperfection.

Wabi-sabi finds beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, accepting the cycle of growth, decay and death. It’s slow and uncluttered, and regards authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not laminate. Minimalist wabi-sabi respects age and celebrates humans over invulnerable machines. It finds beauty in cracks and crevices and all the marks that time, weather and use leave behind. It reminds us that we are transient beings — that our bodies and the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which they came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the impersonal sadness of liver spots, rust and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.  – Robin Griggs Lawrence

Wabi-sabi, creating beauty from imperfection and brokenness.

ImageI am thankful for so many blessings throughout this journey of life, but most of all I am grateful for those who have willingly and still willingly, stand by me in moments of joy as well as through moments of breakdown. They are somehow able to see that there is still “beauty in the breakdown.”

“So, let go, let go,

Jump in.

Oh well, what you waiting for?

It’s all right,

‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

So, let go, let go.”

Imogen Heap

Wishing you a Beautifully Imperfect 2014!

xo

Leah

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Authenticity – That One Powerful Word

When I chose the word “Authenticity” as my word for the year, I had no set plan. I went forward blindly and without thought. At some points, I even forgot that it was my goal for the year. However, life did not forget. In fact, life seemed to think it was a pretty funny joke to play on me. You get what you ask for let me tell you! Just last night, in conversation about my chosen word, I said, “Why didn’t I pick a word like “Peaceful?” Yes, indeed. Why didn’t I? However, I am sure that no matter which word I had chosen, I would have been challenged in some way because that is how growth occurs and that was after all, my ultimate goal.

What I had never considered before I started this journey is that Authenticity and Vulnerability walk hand in hand. You can not have one without the other. This is both a deeply rewarding and deeply painful journey at the same time. I am always convinced though that the benefits of growth far out way the discomfort and pain that precede. As a fellow blogger wrote:

A big part of my journey has been to become better at expressing myself. At sharing my thoughts, feelings, and honestly bearing my whole heart and soul sometimes. Vulnerability has been a biggy for me too … This is me. This is how I feel. This is how I feel about you. I love you. You’re beautiful. You’re perfect. You’re awesome. I’m not afraid to hug. To cry. I want to feel life and all its emotions. Good or bad, how else can I grow? What lesson is this teaching me? I face plant regularly, but each experience makes me a better person. – Brittany Paulin

Yes, exactly, how else can we grow? And if we are not growing, than we are not fully living.

I grew up trying to be anyone but myself. I wanted to make everyone happy even if it was at my own expense. I thought that being “good” meant keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself so as not to rock the boat. My need for affirmation and acceptance was greater than my need to be true to myself. I was willing to live without freedom because it seemed so much easier to pretend that I was fine, everything was fine, and everyone liked me. I would like to say that I no longer care what people think; but, I do. When you choose to be yourself and stand up for what you believe to be true, not everyone is going to applaud you for this choice. In fact, you may lose people in your life that you thought would always be there because they don’t like the “new” you.

Let’s examine the options though … You can continue to be a people pleaser and never live fully alive, never grow any deeper, and never change or you can step off the ledge and learn to fly. The learning curve is deeply painful and at times feels like it costs more than it’s worth; but, trust me, you will actually begin to like yourself, be yourself, and eventually love and trust yourself.

You are enough. The Authentic you is Beautiful and expressing your self wholeheartedly and unashamedly is the Bravest choice you could ever make.

And so …

I wish you joy in the pain and and hope in the darkness of your journey. BE BRAVE!

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