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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Anticipation, Perfectly Paused

Happy Sunday, Journeyer!
As I round out this day, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I slept in, had a little fun playing phone games, completed a few tax tasks, transported Big Guy to a soccer event an hour from home, made a few scrumptious meals, completed this post, and worked a little on my upcoming speech.
I am overjoyed to have been asked to join such a talented group of people on the stage! If you’re anywhere near the Fingerlakes region, consider making a day trip for some winter inspiration. You deserve it!
Here are a few flashes of random joy from my week!
Thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr, for giving our great nation a day to pause and reflect on your wonderful work on humanitarianism and peace.
I filled my early morning cup with your words of inspiration and then I tackled a long checklist of things I needed to do to expand and promote The Five Facets Philosophy, my own contribution to helping heal a world of hurt.
I baked banana bread and chocolate chip bars, and assembled little gift packages, which I distributed to Beauty and Fave, their significant others, and an elderly, widowed neighbor.
I included a few fun things I’d picked up at a local dollar store, one of which was a box of fortune cookies that I divided up.
Of course I had to include Warren, and Big Guy, and myself.
Look at what my fortune had to tell me!
"Soon you will receive pleasant news"
I just realized that the question and title will likely make you think of the movie with Kevin Costner… Let’s just say that that one week in my life felt equally inspiring.
I’m hoping my pleasant news includes word from Hay House that I’ve won the grand prize in the book proposal contest that was offered at that workshop!
Reid Tracey and his crew are announcing the top three winners THIS WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28!!
The anticipation is killing me, Journeyer, but in a good way, one that reminds me of those classic Heinz Ketchup commercials.
Will you continue to send out super positive vibes for my next book, the one I proposed to them? It’s titled The Little Book of Healing: Live Your Best Life, Even in the Face of Adversity.
I’m super excited to be moving forward with this groundbreaking work on healing, one I believe is going to help heal a world of hurt. Though I believe it’s going to change many lives, if it helps but one person triumph over some tragedy in her life, then it is a success.
Watch the Hay House Writer’s Workshop Facebook page, Journeyer; for no matter who wins this contest, you’re going to be introduced to one powerful and inspiring writer, one who is sure to change the world in positive ways.
Anything positive always tops my list of #HappyHappens moments!
Here are a few other moments that brought a smile to my face this past week…
Big Guy received acceptance notices to both colleges he wants to attend, and into their selective, accelerated DPT (doctorate of physical therapy) programs.

I’m happy for him and for Warren and me, ‘cause when our tired, old bones and muscles need a little attention, we’ll have a doctor who hopefully won’t put us on a long waiting list. ;)
I found these photos of this wooden ornament I recently purchased for my collection.

In addition to happy moments I’m creating with my eldest son, Gavin, the ornament also brings back fond reflections of a fabulous day spent with Beauty, Fave’s girlfriend Squirrel and some of her most favorite friends.
Looks like some ascended masters are trying to connect again. Notice the 333?

I purchased the most comfy bathrobes for Warren and me to use to go to the hot tub. The spa is the place where we spend most of our relaxation and down time, so the gift was even more perfect since the robes Warren had purchased us years ago were plum worn out.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when the package arrived with a hand signature from the company! That little detail brought a smile to my face.
Sadly, I chose to allow one negative review about sizing persuade me to go with a bigger size for mine, which ended up dwarfing me, so I had to wait for an exchange.
I have to tell you that the entire process has been full of nothing but pleasant experiences. The product quality is exceptional and the customer service is unparalleled.
Next time you’re in the need of bed linens or luxury bath products, check out e-luxury. You’ll be glad you did.
A side note that this glowing testimonial is purely my own and not given in lieu of anything other than my own joy in sharing my enthusiasm with you.
Who wouldn’t be delighted by seeing this handwritten note on the outside of a delivery box!

A couple of free nights gave me the opportunity to enjoy a few hours of just sitting in my pajamas on the couch. One night, our kitty hopped up onto my lap for a little cuddle time. Normally she prefers Warren’s lap and his big recliner.

While wandering around the internet, I stumbled across Gretchen Rubin’s new quiz on habits and tendencies. Why am I not surprised that my replies resulted in a “Questioner” quality.

And why I am not surprised this booklover couldn’t resist the temptation to pre-order Gretchen’s forthcoming book Better than Before?
Warren and I had a couple’s date night with some friends. Rather than dine out, their eleven-year-old budding chef asked if she could prepare a meal for us.
If it weren’t for child labor laws, I might be tempted to hire her at our house!
She made everything from scratch: rice balls filled with mozzarella, chicken rolls filled with fresh asparagus and a basil cream mixture, and this mouthwatering peach pastry topped with a fresh raspberry reduction sauce and homemade whipped cream…

This little one has some exciting culinary prospects in the works and I’m excited to see what unfolds for her!
The message on the back of her shirt was a pure bonus for me!

The last little moment I’d like to share with you is this perfectly formed paw print.

I was returning from a walk with my boy Thunder when I spotted it in the slushy snow in our drive. I was mid-step when I noticed how intact and fresh the form was.
Time seemed to stop mid-stride. Kairos…that instant where time pauses to allow space for something to happen…in this case, Happy happened as I drank in one of nature’s simple pleasures and gained a glimpse into her beautiful abundance…
Sometimes we spend so much time anticipating and waiting for Happy to arrive, we forget to pause long enough to notice its many nuances…
What about you, Journeyer? Have you ever experienced a Kairos sort of joy? Share your experience here and spread a little inspiration.
Until next time,
One last thing… Have you joined our neighborhood yet? Joining our neighborhood broadens our reach, Journeyer! Together we can heal a world of hurt! Joining us couldn't be any easier! Just click here and a few keystrokes later your home is there, right next door to our growing group of gorgeously spirited friends! When you sign up, I'll also send you a digital poster that includes ten of my top power mantras, quotes from some of our favorite inspirational guides and two that lead The Five Facets work... 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Over the River and Through the Woods of Mental Health

Happy Thursday, Journeyer!
I have a post that needs to incubate a little longer, and I’m a little curious about a few things…
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Every year since my children were born, I have purchased Christmas ornaments for each one of them and one for Warren and me.
The decorations are themed around some event that year, an embellished sand dollar for our beach vacation; a kangaroo for Beauty’s first year at college represented her university's mascot, and a Santa on an alligator a reminder of Fave’s fun in Louisiana.
As each ball comes out of its space in the tote, I am reminded of the joyful times in my family’s life and in the process I am creating another happy event unto itself.
My family will vouch that decorating our tree is an event
When I finally have no choice but to remove the tree, dismantling it is another event that I like to do leisurely so that I can enjoy each special piece before it is packed away for the year.
This is an ornament I hand-painted back in 1995.

The woman who facilitated the painting project commented several times about the precise nature of my brush strokes, about how I seemed to be giving a painstaking attention to detail, and seemed a little astonished at the many color hues I created by mixing different paints.
I’m wondering if you’d take a second to ask yourself what this bauble evokes for you, and then if you’d be ever so kind to leave a comment in the box below, I’d be ever so appreciative.
That’s part one.
Now for part two…
There were one or two years that I didn’t put out this special piece and until recent years I felt twinges of sadness and shame every time I saw it.
You see, this ornament is one of the craft projects offered to us while I was in the Behavioral Science Unit of our local hospital, a ward often referred to as The BSU or The Psych Ward.
Art Therapy.
Severe depression had left me feeling emotionally bankrupt and in that dark place where I believed I wanted nothing more than to die, in a conscious state where I prayed numerous nights to that merciful God to end my suffering by claiming my life.
I spent six weeks of my life relegated to one floor of the hospital, where exit doors were locked tight, sharp objects were put away, and I not only had to request permission to smoke, I had to ask for a cigarette and the flame with which to light it.
An interlude: I am so, SO, SO glad I kicked that habit to the curb eight years ago. I celebrate that feat every time I pass someone holding a cancer stick to her lips, or when I walk through a plume of smoke.
As my insurance neared the maximum six-week stay allowance, the staff began issuing home visit passes.
Trial runs designed to test my ability to reenter society and a normal life.
What comes to mind in this moment is Glennon Melton’s mantra: "We can do hard things."
Depression is hard.
We can do Depression.
This Christmas ornament is proof that we can traverse Depression's hard, ice-cold surface and find our way through its thick, dark forest…
Now that you know the story behind the ornament, I’d be even more delighted if you’d add to your previous comment by sharing what thoughts or emotions now come to mind when you think about this piece of my mental health.
This year as I ran my fingers over the ceramic surface, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride, peace, and hope…for myself and for the world of people who are hurting.
Together, Journeyer, we are neighbors in grief and allies in healing…

Together we can heal a world of hurt.
Until next time,
Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,

One last thing, Journeyer. If you found a measure of hope, healing, and happiness here, I'd love it if you'd sign up to join our neighborhood! When you do, I'll send you a digital poster that includes ten of my top power mantras, quotes from some of our favorite inspirational guides and two that lead The Five Facets work... Additionally, it is my ultimate goal to send out one monthly newsletter, though you'll have to wait a bit for that! :)

Joining our neighborhood broadens our reach, Journeyer! Together we can heal a world of hurt! Joining us couldn't be any easier! Just click here and a few keystrokes later your home is there, right next door to our growing group of gorgeously spirited friends!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Angels, Friends, and The Fool

Happy Sunday (now Monday), Journeyer!

It’s been an equally delightful and dreary week.
The frigid temps forced me to break out my coat of all winter coats, a knee-length down parka, and my furry hat.
You know it’s cold when I break out a hat.
I especially miss sunshine this time of year…
We arrived home one evening early in the week to find that our chest freezer had quit working; bad timing given the fact that we replaced our on-its-last-legs refrigerator last week!
Warren and I had a fairly frosty counseling session, “a little regression that’s not uncommon,” the counselor said.
As I type that, the old cliché, “one step forward and two steps back,” comes to mind.
And yet, I’m happy to report that I don’t feel our paces regressed to that degree, maybe a half-step digression.
For all you journeyers who are working hard on your relationships, please know that you are never alone, whether you’re celebrating or concentrating on ways to make it better!
My week was full of normal stuff like work, a visit to the oral surgeon to have Big Guy’s wisdom teeth evaluated, cooking, cleaning, and deconstructing our Christmas tree (kicking and screaming, I might add…)
Walking side-by-side with the mundane were numerous bright flashes.
Speaking of frosty, look at this adorable handprint I spotted on the side of a school bus! Doesn’t it just create all sorts of joyous images?

 I finished and submitted the copy for my upcoming speech at this Clarity Connects event in New York’s great Fingerlakes Region.
If you’re anywhere near, you should definitely consider sharing these few hours of inspiration with us!
Saturday night I hosted a customized psychic party, where I spent several glorious hours with ten old and new friends.
The reader told me that Gavin is my Joy Guide; she asked me about my miscarriages and if I wanted to know the sex.
One girl who is Gavin’s sidekick and had her arm locked into his, and another son…
Beauty, who begged me to bring her a sister, would be delighted to know she has a female sibling, a spirit who is always watching over her.
We talked about angels and their roles in our lives, and I learned that the 333 repeating numbers I see all the time means that ascended master angels are connecting with me.
Today's 555 sighting, which is Warren's repeating numbers, comes from a new connection & is a reminder to finish this week's #HappyHappens post!

I’m excited to do some more research in that area and to become more aware of their presence!
The tarot readings produced several entertaining discussions, including my captivating draw: The Fool.
 This drawer's partner fits this very description
Who can resist The Lovers?

My evening muse...
When the facilitator asked me what the image represented to me, this is what I told her: “The first thing I thought about when I read the card was the naysayer’s voice inside my head. It’s that voice that says Who do you think you are and what do you think makes you qualified to present some groundbreaking body of work to the world? That’s just foolish.”
You know that voice, right?; that negative chatter that tries to tell us we aren’t good enough, smart enough, fast enough, pretty enough?
“But then I looked closer at the image. I noted the guy’s pack and his sidekick dog, and saw how he was just sort of strolling along some path on his journey, smiling at the heavens and saying, I’ve got this. That’s how I feel with the work I’m doing with The Five Facets Philosophy of Healing.”
The leader smiled as she told me that The Fool is often associated with being on a journey.
Journeyers, I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that! It was all just so…serendipitous!
A longtime friend who didn’t know about my book or this work wrote me this morning to tell me she’s been reading the blog and referred to herself as Journeyer Hiawatha.
Isn’t that beautiful and exciting and kind of inspiring? What if each of us had an inspirational alias?!
The night of the party, this friend drew The Queen of Swords card, which reminded her of her grandmother, “the Matriarch of the family,” who always said, “Your voice is your shield.”

That statement is pure magic, isn’t it?
Yesterday morning Warren, Big Guy, and I actually had a homemade breakfast, which we ate together, around our dining room table…
I think The Fool took control of my body for a few minutes because I challenged Big Guy to a game of toss the grape into a wide-open mouth…
Grapes in my grandma's cut glass bowl

A little bit of cutting loose and silliness never hurt anyone…right?
Last night Big Guy had twelve of his friends up for an overnight.
I always enjoy seeing bodies spread out all over the room and listening to the camaraderie and laughter.
Earlier this week I’d created a new magnetic art poem, and this morning I woke to find someone had added a new opening line.

Every time I discover that someone paused long enough to string together words, I smile.
Words are my wonder, the cure for my wounds, and the wellspring of my inspiration…
And in the midst of it all is joy, Journeyer…
Martin Luther King Jr’s quote sums it up, Friend: “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

What about you? What Moment(s) made you smile or brought you a sense of peace this week? Share them here and spread some inspiration!
Until we meet again,
Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,

One last thing, Journeyer. If you found a measure of hope, healing, and happiness here, I'd love it if you'd sign up to join our neighborhood! When you do, I'll send you a digital poster that includes ten of my top power mantras, quotes from some of our favorite inspirational guides and two that lead The Five Facets work... Additionally, it is my ultimate goal to send out one monthly newsletter, though you'll have to wait a bit for that! :)

Joining our neighborhood broadens our reach, Journeyer! Together we can heal a world of hurt! Joining us couldn't be any easier! Just click here and a few keystrokes later and your home is right there, right next door to our growing group of gorgeously spirited friends!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Healing and the Two Sides of Fear

Well, Journeyer, it’s been one heck of a couple of days!

Two days ago a cyber monster ate my five-hundred and some new and saved e-mails.


Totally, absolutely, one-hundred percent gone…

Though most of them were correspondences I’d saved for further research, there were a few critical ones I’d hoped to refer back to.

If you are waiting for anything from me, please reach out, again!

Now, as I sit down to put the final edit on today’s post, I cannot find it.

It seems my computer did an automatic update and shut down. I hadn’t saved it.

I have two choices: To sit here and whine about all that is lost, or decide to celebrate the fact that I no longer have to fret over the mounting pile of mail, and to assume the notion that the absence of the previous post is this post’s gain.

The universe has such a way of connecting the dots of our lives!

The Fear topic seems to be circulating. If you missed this article by Richard Branson, one of the world’s most influential entrepreneurs, take a moment to read his take on how to calm public speaking jitters.

Last night I submitted a draft of the speech I’ll be giving at Clarity Connect’s upcoming event. If you live anywhere in the Fingerlakes region of New York, you should definitely consider attending their inaugural event!

The topic of my speech? What fills the space between caution and accomplishment? Fear, Journeyer, either in the form of healthy fear or unhealthy fear.

While doing some research for this talk, I stumbled across this post on fear; it’s one of my favorites, Journeyer, so I’m happy to share it with you again.

May this reading take your fear to an entirely new and liberating level.

* * *

Georgia O’Keefe’s Fear, Glennon Melton’s Sacred Scared, and Choosing Healing
First published February, 2014

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every second of my life-and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

Journeyer, I came across this quote while reading Glennon Melton’s post Sacred Scared.

Wow, just wow…

Glennon has this beautiful and forceful, yet gentle at the same time, way of reminding us all that we are okay just the way we are.

In Digging for the Light, I talk about how I was that terribly scared person, held back from living my best life both before and after the rape, but how I also realized that even when I didn’t think I was attaining any type of productive, inspiring, and not anywhere near some sort of wholeness, I actually was.

I was probably afraid. Of myself. I’m guessing I believed the whole incident was my fault.
I was the one who was in the wrong place.

I must have done something to deserve the trouble I’d gotten myself into.

Everything was always my fault.

Something was wrong with me.

So I thought.

Dad and I never spoke of it again.

Forget about it. What’s done is done.

That was the message. And that’s what I tried to do. My mom didn’t know until years later.

But it stalked me: I couldn’t see it, and I didn’t know what it was, but I could smell it, like a tail-flicking, ears-pointed, hoof-stomping deer.

* * *
Sometime near the end of my junior year, I changed. It happened practically overnight, and the change in my behavior, my attitude, and my lifestyle shocked everyone.

I started drinking a lot, which frequently brought me to a state of depression and tears. I occasionally skipped school and developed an “I don’t give a damn” attitude.

Outwardly, I portrayed a confident, gregarious, mature-beyond-her-years girl with a warm heart, deep emotions, and a little flair for the dramatic.

Inwardly, I felt like a confused, babbling, didn’t-measure-up, massive flesh of insecurities.
This divergence of self existed for many reasons: some inherent and likely gender-related, some culturally induced…and for some I may never know.

I realize now that the brewing turmoil had existed long before that fateful night at the bar. It was probably that night, however, that became the catalyst for my outward expression of the internal conflict I’d bottled inside for so many years.

You see, even though I didn’t feel confident or outgoing or like I was making any kind of positive impact in this world, I was. And as my counselor so poignantly pointed out, “People just can’t fake that stuff, Annah. Not even you.”

Though I absolutely agree 100% with Glennon, that we all need to feel empowered to show up with our grubby hands and messy lives to do the things we are called to do, I also believe this: That it is equally important that we recognize all of the little things in our life that indicate that we are moving forward, that we are living and breathing and accomplishing something, even if it is just brushing our teeth or opening our eyes and then choosing to close them, again, because we feel as if we don’t have it in us to stay awake or get out of bed.

Those are choices, Journeyer.


That choice is an indication that we are doing something, that we are alive, that we are not victims of our circumstance, but rather someone who is capable of deciding what we are going to do in the face of something crippling. And we are taking action, Journeyer, even when it feels like we aren’t doing what we want to be doing, we are…we are just choosing one action over another…

Even when we are telling ourselves we want to be doing something different than eating all sixty-four-ounces of Mint-ting-a-ling straight from the carton, and that Depression or Grief or Loss or Circumstance are in control…we are the ones making the choices…

We might tell ourselves that our choice to stay home and hide beneath the covers or behind a half gallon of ice cream are a bad thing, but I ask you this? Is it? Is the choice to give ourselves respite or to actually sit with our sadness, to honor our grief, a bad thing?

Now, I’m not suggesting that we make a life out of staying beneath the covers, buy stock in Ben & Jerry’s, or one of walking around with the stench of depression hanging like a cloud around us. But here’s the thing, all too often we feel as if that depression or grief or loss or chaos or [insert your word] is our identity, when in essence it is only a part of us.

I believed my depression consumed me entirely, that it defined me, that I was barely functioning, that I was at a standstill and everything was passing me by.

Obviously, that was not the case.

I did function.

I was moving.

I was breathing.

I was alive with energy, even if I didn’t recognize it.

Read on as I summarize a mere portion of events I wrote about in my journals.

* * *
I laughed and played with my children and my husband. There were trips to McDonald’s™, the mall, a light show, movies, and a ”Miracle on 34th Street.” Swimming and snow angels and frosty snowmen. Home videos, photos, puzzles, and games. My creation of the “grouchy monster,” a silly monster that nibbles on you in your sleep and makes you cranky in the morning. Two Halloweens, two Christmas celebrations, four custom children’s birthday parties—including the transformation of our yard into Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods. One birthday celebrated in heaven. Numerous other celebrations. Two Father’s Days, a Mother’s Day, an anniversary getaway, family gatherings, Easter bunnies. Valentine’s hearts. Kissing and making up. Pre-school and kindergarten, stories and nap time (a lot of the latter for me)…

Those of us who aren’t living our best lives are often holding back because of some sense of loss: Loss of security, confidence, courage…

As Glennon points out, we tell ourselves that we have to “be ready” for the next challenge or course of action, that we have to have reconciled our conflicts and to have healed our hurts before we can move forward into the life we want… a different life from the one we have.

So many of us get stuck here because we have some sense that we aren’t in control, that we are puppets to our circumstance…

Acknowledging that we are breathing, moving, and functioning not only buoys us, it’s like a mega dose of encouragement.

Accepting that we are the ones making the decisions about our decisions is empowering and motivating.

Knowing little about Georgia O’Keefe’s life, I did a quick search to discover that this brilliant artist’s early life included many hardships; that she left the work she loved for many years because she didn’t want to conform to the styles she had been taught; that she became involved with a married man, one who was a big driving force behind the recognition of her artwork; and that she suffered a nervous breakdown in her mid 40s, which is attributed in part to the affair her husband had with a much younger woman.

I don’t know when in her storied career she made the statement at the front of this post, but I do believe that taken out of context it appears to be some magical, effortless piece of advice, like some invisible shield that protected her and allowed her to walk right past those fears, thumbing her nose at them and giving them the finger with her other hand.

Sometimes we make choices that turn out to be not-such-a-good-thing for us. I would surmise that after her husband began an affair with another woman, O’Keefe questioned if she shouldn’t have seen that writing on the wall when he left his previous wife for her.

I certainly know that, when my clothes become a little snug and the dial on the scale climbs, that I lament my weeks of food abuse.

What do we do when those thoughts creep in?

We often get depressed about being depressed, we eat more ice cream all the while fretting about the calories, we become even angrier about being angry in the first place, our sadness becomes even sadder, and before we know it, we aren’t sad or angry or depressed, we are Sad, Angry, or Depressed.

I think there are three parts to O’Keefe’s statement: Fear, Failure, and Forgiveness, maybe?

Times in her life when she felt crippling fear and loss. Times when she succumbed to those things. Times when she forgave herself for those things she considered to be failures, thus allowing her to forge on living her best life.
That said, looks like there are four parts to O’Keefe’s inspirational statement and what we’re seeing are the first and the last.

Fear. Failure. Forgiveness. Forging on.

Though we cannot control fear, we can control how we react to it.

We can also choose to perceive failure as a pitfall or a stepping stone.
We can choose to accept failure as inevitable and grant ourselves grace and gentleness for those times we err.

We can choose to keep moving forward, trying new things, having open minds, and believing…believing that we are worthy, just as we exist in any given moment…

J.M. Barrie, the brilliant mind behind Peter Pan, has this to say about failure: “We are all failures-at least the best of us are.”

Less literally, we aren’t Failure, but we are beings who fail.

The most significant piece of that truth is this: When we aren’t failing, we are succeeding…

It is impossible to fail at everything and quite possible to be successful in many…

Acknowledging our accomplishments and those little, daily triumphs, is the armor we need to walk hand in hand with fear and failure, to embrace them in a manner that will enable them to enable us to live our very best lives…

And if you don’t believe me, check out these videos, and see for yourself one of the ways Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert accomplished great things all the while being human and living with fear…

Let’s be human together, shall we?