Tuesday, August 17, 2010

life: Aren't I supposed to be.....

I always thought that once I was pregnant that somehow my life would drastically change. That I would have some kind of identity crisis or need to reevaluate who i am as a person or something. So far, none of that has happened to me yet and it makes me wonder, am i doing this right?

I'm sure that the answer to that, like all things, is that there is no "right" or "wrong" with any of these life moments or experiences. I know that that's the truth but whenever i hear that i feel so unfulfilled by it. It's like when I was little and I would ask my mother, "who do i look like the most in our family?" and she would respond with, "you look like yourself and that's perfect." I would always roll my eyes at that, i wanted to know who i resembled and being just myself was never enough, it scared me in fact. I wanted to belong.

I guess it's the same feeling that drives my "am i doing this right?" obsession in my life. I want to have the right check marks at the right places so my list can be diverse and i can cover all the bases.

Whenever I play one of those videogames where you get to roam around a world and do quests on your own time and in your own way this trait of mine shows up almost twice as strong. I'm a compulsive explorer. i talk to EVERYONE, i search for everything, i cover every piece of ground i can. I spend huge quantities of time searching regions for secrets, i perfect my skills in every way possible. I love that there are quests that open up and I can watch one by one as they get checked off and I know that I am definitively making progress. It's somehow so fulfilling to me to see that - to see things get crossed off of the list and to know that at the end i will not only win but I will also know all of the secrets.

I would love so much to have a guide like that to life. I know I approach life in the same way: exploring every part of it i can, getting certified in every imaginable endeavor possible so i know everything there is to know about everything (areas in which i'm certified: interior decorating, wedding planning, personal training, lifeguarding, obviously life coaching but that was a legitimate one, there are more but i'm forgetting them now...). I just want to amass as much information about the things that I think are important as possible. i guess i'm hoping that somewhere there is someone keeping track of all of this stuff and that I am making some kind of progress here, that all of these thoughts and activities and weird jobs and endeavors haven't been for naught (i like getting to use that word) and that it will ultimately just MEAN something. Wouldn't that be great?

So when I reach a Major Life Point like being pregnant/preparing for a family and I'm somehow not having the overhaul experience that I thought i was supposed to have, a distant part of me worries a little bit. "Aren't I supposed to be wondering what it means to be a Mom?", "Aren't I supposed to be obsessing about how this is going to impact my life?", "Aren't I supposed to be frantically trying to join mommy groups or set up activities that help indoctrinate me into parenthood?" and so on and so forth.

The answer is that I don't know if that's what I'm supposed to be doing or not. I'm not doing those things and I don't know if I will be at some point but for now, i'm just kind of going with the flow and waiting with excitement and anticipation for my baby to get here and for our lives to continue forward. I don't know what any of it means but for once, I'm really not trying to figure it all out.

and i think that's a good thing? at least, i hope so...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

life: a wish for like-hearted people coming together

I've noticed that there really isn't anywhere for people to go to just congregate together and be amidst positivity.

I know that in theory that's what churches and places of worship are for, but i've found that in practice that is hardly true for me. I don't ascribe to many of the beliefs that institutions of those natures require and I cannot simply overlook certain words or practices in lieu of being part of a community. It just feels wrong.

I guess i wish for a place of what i can only describe as truth. It seems like that just doesn't exist. Truthfulness and positivity. People together because they want to do their part to advance goodness and positivity. Not even necessarily in the world on the whole (although of course that's a natural side effect) but more so simply within themselves. A place where people come together and hold a place of peace and positivity for one another, to share their insights about life and the world, to reinforce one another and support each other through another week.

Life is challenging. It can be tough and that's honest. But there are those of us out here in the world who believe that there is a point to overlooking that part of life and really focusing on goodness, kindness, on sharing love with ourselves and through extension with all of humanity.

But it can be daunting to feel like you're in it alone. Wouldn't it be so lovely to have a place where people who are similar to you just stood together each week, held a loving space, supported one another through the challenges of life, discussed mutual philosophies about how to approach life, expressed gratitude and celebration for positive experiences and then moved on?

I want a place like that. I almost want it to feature a service where each week someone stands and discusses the fundamental truths of life - you know, the truths that if you choose to live them make life better (anything can be a truth, it just depends how much credence you give it). I want my truths to be things like: people are fundamentally good. Life has purpose. I can make a difference in the world. Love is the most important thing to give and express. Blessings abound. Ultimately, everything is more good than it is not good.

I want a group of like-minded souls to help reinforce those beliefs. I want a group of people who stand together and decide together to see life that way.

Any belief system is an active choice based in a fundamental inclination. That's what I think this should be. Fundamentally inside my deepest heart of hearts I believe all of those things to be true. I believe them and I want to live them. But it's hard being a lonely satellite out there. I can see other stars around me, I imagine that they can see me too but there is something isolating in it. That's why community is so important.

No one can live a completely isolated and detached life. Everyone needs support and assistance. That's what I'm discussing here. People who see the world the same, or even people who just WANT to see the world like that, coming together, sharing a space, making it sacred simply through their conviction in it and helping each other get through another week. A place of just absolute faith in positivity and the importance of being present in a positive way in this life.

I wish that existed. I wish for it so much. And sometimes I even think that maybe i'll just go out and start it but I have no idea how to do that or if anyone would ever even want to do it with me. That's fear and doubt talking though and I know it. That's precisely the kind of thing I'm talking about wanting to avoid being a part of, that I want to avoid letting into my life at all.

Just my thoughts today.

listen to this:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coaching: How to change your life

Recently I was discussing something with a client of mine and he asked me how to go about changing things in your life when there is so much to change. 

Basically, what he wanted to know was "where do you start?"
I realized that this would be a good subject for a blog post and so, with permission from my client, I am going to be discussing that very topic here:

How do you change something about your life? 

This specific client of mine wants to make things better in his relationship so I will use the subject of relationships here for my example but please know that this methodology applies to wanting to change anything in your life at all.  

He said (and i am paraphrasing), "I know there are a lot of ways that I could do things better, but I don't know how to begin. It all just seems so disorganized and muddled up."

Here's where you start with any major changes in life: 

1. You start at the end.  

Ask yourself, what is the ultimate goal that I want to attain through my changes?  In this case the answer would be: "I want to be a better boyfriend/husband/fiance".  

Notice how I made that goal specific to the person who is doing the changing? That's the second part:

2. Make it about you. 

As we all know, in life you can only control yourself and your own actions. So when you are hoping for things to be better in life, you can only focus on what You can do and who You are. Do you want to have a better relationship? Focus on being a better part of that relationship yourself before you turn around and point any fingers at anyone else. Do you want more romance? Ask yourself how romantic you are. Do you want better communication? How clearly do you communicate yourself? Work on those things and soon you will find that things start falling into place. 

and then of course there's the third part:

3. Keep trying and have patience.  

Change isn't easy. Any life coach or therapist or personal trainer or infomercial who tries to tell you that changing your life is easy is lying to you and you should turn around and walk away from them. It's not easy. It's hard and it's messy and sometimes it's the last thing you WANT to do. But it IS worth it. 

Changing your actions, your behaviors and your belief systems is a difficult undertaking for anyone. It takes work and effort and MOST IMPORTANTLY it takes diligence. You MUST stick with it. You must understand that results don't happen over night and you must know that any change takes time, effort, and repetition.  

And at the end of all of that effort and time you will find that something remarkable has happened: you have transformed. You are much happier, much more centered, you know yourself more and you have fulfilled a goal that you have struggled with for years. 

So for my client here, what I suggested he do is fill in the blank:

If I were a successful boyfriend (which is his goal), I would do the following: ___________________. 

You must know the definition of the outcome that you are seeking.  What does it mean to have a fulfilling career? What does it mean to be a good wife?  What does it MEAN to be happy? What does it mean to fall in love? What does it mean when you say you want to find your purpose?  You must fill in the blanks, you must know EXACTLY what that goal you want is. You must have a definition for this arbitrary phrase you think you want. 

You say you want a good relationship but so often people don't even know what that means to them. Does that mean that your significant other makes you coffee every morning? Does it mean that s/he buys you extravagant gifts? Does it mean you stay up late into the night discussing philosophy? Does it mean that they enjoy kung fu movies as much as you do?  What does it MEAN to you specifically to have a GOOD relationship. What does YOUR PART of that relationship look like?

With any goal you must ask yourself these questions and get very specific so yo know exactly what it is that you REALLY want from life. It's easy to just throw blanket phrases around but that is setting yourself up for disaster. Your idea of a healthy lifestyle might be very different than your personal trainer's idea or from your mother's idea or your friend's idea so you really must get clear and honest with yourself so that you know how to fulfill your own goals. 

The point is really, without doing this how will you know when you've got it if you have no idea what it even means?

If this man wants to have success in his relationship he first has to know what a successful relationship even looks like to him. Then he has to know what his part of that successful relationship is. Then he knows where to begin. 

If a successful boyfriend to him is someone who listens, who is romantic and who is financially stable than he has to take steps to cultivate those traits within himself. He must begin to ask questions of his partner and really hear the answers.  He must ask himself what romance looks like and begin to follow through on those romantic gestures he comes up with.  He must ask himself what financial stability means for him and he must then work hard to gain that level of success.  

He lays the rules, he defines the terms and he is in control of how he gets there.

He will never become a successful boyfriend however if he doesn't ever figure out exactly what that means. 

So you should try this too. If you have a goal in life, any goal at all, you must ask yourself: what will it look like when i get there? How will I know when I am living it? What steps can I take today to begin to embody that change? 

Sit down, define the outcome for yourself and then start LIVING that outcome. If you want to be more social and your definition for that term includes being more outgoing than you must start practicing that today.  Start somewhere small and manageable. You want to do something that it outside of your normal realm of comfort but that doesn't terrify you. Maybe for example set a goal to say hello to 3 strangers a week or to make small talk with people in lines or elevators. Whatever you decide to do, the point is that you must start living like you would if you already had those traits and before you know it, you'll will have them down and you will be more confident. 

Changing requires conscious actions and purposeful movements in a certain direction. As long as you define what it is you want to be, you keep it about yourself and you never give up, you will find that you can change anything you want about yourself and your life. Just keep faith and be willing to actually go forward and do it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

life: purpose

it's weird how getting older changes you. Or how you change by getting older....i'm not really sure which way it works but I'm pretty convinced that it is relevant to know the difference.

My friend Nadine recently said something about how your 20s are supposedly the most self-absorbed time in your life. I can totally see that in a way. (although in another way I'd like to point out that my mid-to-late teens were also incredibly self-absorbed. I think that really 15 to 25 counts as the absolute most obnoxiously the-world-revolves-around-me era of life...but what do i know, i've only just cleared 25 by a few years).

In another way though my 20s have been about learning how to not be so obsessed with myself; how to get over myself actually. Maybe that's the process known as maturation, I don't know.

I'm not sure how i feel about all this maturity, however (if that's what it is). It's a little disarming if i'm going to be honest. I've gone from someone so enamored with her own thoughts that she had countless journals filled with ~*deep and moving*~ paragraphs to being someone who can barely muster up an opinion on various current events. 
I used to "take a stand" (which probably really only ended up materializing itself as throwing a tantrum or creating a scene or being juvenile) on a regular basis. I would argue at dinner tables, debate on car rides, post pithy quotations and status updates on my various internet portals to the world. Now though? Now I sort-of play it safe, I bite my tongue, I don't formulate ideas or come up with arguments. I don't even really think about things the way I used to. 

I literally used to drive around in my car and contemplate the meaning of my existence. I would analyze how i felt and why, I would constantly try to improve upon myself and I would debate with myself questions of morality and ethics.  Now I listen to NPR and wear my sunglasses and refrain from texting while driving and it's not even that I think about things that are less interesting than i used to...it's more that i don't think about anything at all.

I'm not sure if this means that I have matured, that i've gotten over myself, that i've grown up, that i've become an adult or if in fact it means that I have just finally lost my own personal "it", whatever "it" was (you know, my own personal purpose in life, my personality, that force which makes me a unique and identifiable individual...it's that Thing that all American's are brought up believing they have - their special snowflakeness, their individuality). 

'Cause I used to feel this super driving sense of purpose about life, I had this idealistic "if i could change the world I would be the sunlight in your universe" kinda point of view (that's from a song by Eric Clapton) about things. Now I don't feel much of anything about anything anymore. I don't feel a driving purpose, i don't feel idealism. I see things and I sigh at them. I predict people's actions and am disappointed when I'm right and don't care to analyze it when I'm wrong. 

And i do realize the irony of writing this post about how I'm no longer self-absorbed and the whole thing is focused on me and the way i used to think and act and how that is juxtaposed with the way i currently think and act. I know, i get it. It's amusing in one way but sad in another. 

I guess what I'm saying is that I have realized for a while now that this magical sense of "I can be and do anything in life" and "Every life matters" has just kind of drifted away and I don't know if i should go chasing after it like a lost kite on a summer afternoon or if i should just stand on the ground and watch it float away, the way that we all have to release some childhood beliefs at one time or another. 

But isn't there a sadness to that? Isn't there something awful about resigning to life? Haven't there been great thinkers and do-ers and people who populate our history books and our oral traditions who didn't give up on those childhood beliefs?  What would the world be without the people who still thought that they had the capacity to do or be something in the world? And how did those people exist without having at least some ounce of self-absorption? Don't you have to be somewhat self-obsessed in order to trust yourself enough to go out there in life and CHANGE things for real?

I don't know, I don't even know what the real point is that I'm trying to get at. I guess I just wish I could climb to a mountain top and hear the booming voice of some benevolent creator tell me that I matter and that my life matters and to never give up and to go forward and to make something fabulous happen in my life because in the end it will all be worthwhile afterall. 
I guess on the one hand that's an immature wish to have.  But on the other, part of me thinks that the real thing to do is to learn how to hear those words in my own head and from my own heart. To go forth and believe those words fully, even if I'm the only one saying them. 

Because life just ends up being about what we choose to see and what we choose to do anyway. Sure, we could die and the lights could go out and that could be the end of it all; there could ultimately be no purpose whatsoever to any of this. But is that a reason to sit around and do nothing meaningful with your life? I don't think it is. I think that it's best to live life like there might be something more to it. I think it's better to find some kind of purpose and to go out there and hang onto that purpose with everything you have and to allow it to infuse meaning into everything you do because that's the only way that this whole thing will make any sense whatsoever. That's the only way to feel truly alive and not like you're just going through the motions.

At the end of the day it won't matter if you were right or wrong when your last breath leaves you and you find out the secrets if there are any. What will matter is whether you wasted the time you had here or whether you had the courage to really live. 
And i guess for me part of that courage would require me to stay self-absorbed. To continue to be moved by totally emo song lyrics and to wear clothes that reflect my mood and to start up long conversations with random people about whether they're happy in life or not (I once spent a whole night talking to the coat-check-person about their aspirations to join the FBI). I would like to go back to being that person who i used to be because I've spent the last two and a half years as this other person who has just decided to go with the flow of life and it's been boring and depressing and worst of all, it's been pretty pointless. And I don't wanna feel that way anymore. 

So i guess the hard part now is just figuring out how to get back there again...suggestions are welcomed. I hope it's not too late.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Life: getting TRULY healthy

it's been way too long since i've updated here. 

Why? Because I was holding off until I made my big announcement: I'm pregnant!  

i won't be going too in depth with that right now at the moment, I'll save that for the blog I'm writing about my pregnancy over at: a yellow giraffe but I will say that it was too much of a huge secret for me to keep AND update this blog at once so in a way, that explains my relative silence over here. 

Enough of that, though. 

What I really want to talk about here today is my new obsession: eating healthy.

My relationship with eating healthy has been an up-and-down journey over the years.  Back in the day, when I was young and in my early 20's i never thought about what I was eating.  I was raised in a very lenient household, my mother (who is a wonderful woman) was the kind of mom who would never force us to eat things we didn't like and who more often than not would end up making three or four dinners a night. Consequentially I never really learned to eat outside of my own box, I never even really thought about eating. Food wasn't something that was there for nourishment, it was based on taste and preference and that was it to me.  

Then when I was about 22 years old I decided that I wasn't at a weight that I liked. I made the decision that I wanted to make a change and that I wanted to "get healthy". This was in 2004. I did some research, talked with some friends and settled upon a solution: I joined Weight Watchers. I was determined to this the "healthy" way. 

I say healthy in quotation marks up there because as anyone who has done Weight Watchers knows, "health" isn't really the biggest priority (nor should it be, that's not what they advertise and it's often not what their participants are looking for).  Their priority is weight loss and that is the first and foremost matter of importance with them, and why shouldn't it be? That is what they're selling.  Of course, I didn't realize this at the time, I assumed that learning to eat "better" or to pay attention to my calories meant that I was being healthy.  But unfortunately, there are lots of ways to lose weight without being healthy about it at all. 

Weight Watchers isn't all bad, though I will say that. They do offer food guides, they give you lists of "filling foods" and two plans to choose from: one that is made up of healthy foods that you can eat as much as you want of (but you do have to greatly limit your intake of processed foods if you choose that plan) and another that is made up of "anything you want" but you modify food, eat less of it and count all of the food you eat. 

I am overly-simplifying all of this and it honestly doesn't even matter because 1. Weight Watchers might be different by now and 2. this isn't a post about WW at all.  This is a post about being healthy. 

So on my journey to "getting healthy" I joined Weight Watchers. I opted, of course, for the "Eat what you want" plan and that's how I learned about substitution and low fat and low calorie and artificial sweeteners and all of the things that a seasoned WW veteran is knowledgeable about.  

See, instead of learning about what foods are GOOD for your body, the foods that you need to function, thrive on and to fuel yourself with, I learned how to beat the system.  I basically learned how to keep up all of my unhealthy habits but to just modify them so that they were "okay".  I learned to drink diet soda instead of regular. I learned to eat light bread instead of regular bread. I learned about spray butter, spray salad dressings, fat free cool whip, diet-soda-cake (where you take a box of cake mix, mix it with one can of diet soda and bake - rendering you a cake with significantly less calories than if you add the eggs and oil....). I learned a whole variety of things and know what? It worked.  I dropped almost 15 pounds in two months.  I looked fantastic and I thought wow being healthy isn't really all that hard after all! (and i guess some of it was healthier: I had switched to egg whites and was eating salads instead of fries when I went out to dinner). 

Again, I'm not bashing Weight Watchers here, they're a good company and if LOSING WEIGHT is your only goal, they are the place to go because their plan really works. 

Unfortunately, that's not my only goal anymore.  (well, right now it seems that gaining weight is my goal....even though that's been a tough pill to swallow lol).  

After Weight Watchers I began to question some of my activities...was pouring splenda into my coffee really a good idea? What's IN that stuff anyway?  And what about the fact that the no fat yogurt was FULL of high fructose corn syrup? Does that matter?  I started to think about these things more and more and slowly I became preoccupied with them. And then I became fixated on something else: meat. 

I've never really been too into meat. I haven't had pork ever (i don't think) and the last time i had beef was when i was 10 years old on New Years Eve (don't know why I remember that but i do).  In fact, the only meat i ate with consistency was chicken but there was something nagging me about that too.   Weren't most of the truly healthy people vegetarians?  Wasn't there a lot of information out there about how bad meat is for you? Aren't they injecting the meat with hormones and antibiotics and keeping the animals in horrible living conditions? I did some research and was very affected by the things i learned.

So in 2007 I became a vegetarian.  I started focusing a lot more on the REAL definition of healthy: organic foods, eating lots of vegetables, only eating whole grains, things of that nature. 

Unfortunately for me, I was also broke. I lived with my fiance (who is now my husband) and while giving up meat was easier for both of us than I expected it to be (he went veggie with me), the cost of making better eating decisions was a little more than we were used to spending.  Not only that but switching over all of our diet completely wasn't something that I think either of us were prepared for on either an educational level or an emotional one. 

There's an interesting correlation in our culture which I suppose is a luxury afforded to us by living in such an affluent society; that correlation is between emotions and food.  We all seem to have these attachments between what we eat and how we feel. Eating brings about feelings and in many cases, feelings bring about eating as well. And that's where the problems begin I believe. I found that it was HARD for me to give up Pizza Friday or to get up early and go for a road trip and NOT stop at McDonalds for breakfast like we used to do when I was little.  It was strange to me to substitute a salad for the creamy, saucy side of rice that I was accustomed to.  And so while I remained a vegetarian, I slowly began slipping back into unhealthy habits and soon I was a pretty unhealthy vegetarian. I didn't eat meat but i did eat pizza.  I skipped fish but i partook in frozen tv dinners (and those are AWFUL for you).  I had french fries and doritos and desserts because I was "allowed" to.  It was almost as if I used my CHOICE not to eat meat as a way to justify eating whatever else I wanted to. 

And so after more than two years as a vegetarian I became accountable to myself and realized that I wasn't doing it for the right reasons anymore and that worst of all, I wasn't being healthy about it either.  I stopped being a vegetarian and started integrating (free-range, organic) chicken and fish back into my diet (I hadn't been getting anywhere near enough protein as a vegetarian - something that was my own fault - there are absolutely vegetarians out there who do it the healthy way and they are an inspiration to me). 

And so here we are today.  I haven't been a vegetarian for almost a year now and while I don't regret that decision, I do wonder what exactly I am doing.  My husband and I discuss food quite often and analyze the influence it has on our lives.  We have mutually come to the conclusion (and actually, my husband got there first and has really been the catalyst for this process for me this time around) that we are really just interested in having a truly HEALTHY life, whatever that may mean. 

Somehow something has clicked within us recently that has just changed the way we're looking at what we're eating.  

Because the truth is that the food out there is full of chemicals and toxins!  There are preservatives and literal poisons in the food that we buy on the shelves of the stores.  The thought of these truths is just mind-boggling and terrifying to both my husband and myself and we honestly don't want any part of it any more.  

I don't want to feed my unborn baby some chemical derivative whose only purpose is to turn the fake berries in my pop tart blue.  I don't want to eat things loaded with fake sweeteners and fake fats and polluted with dyes and chemicals and colorings and poisons. 

I'm not trying to get too extreme here but this is a real issue. There are things that are simply unsafe in the food that's available today. How is it possible that they make bread that doesn't go bad for weeks? Doesn't that tell you something? Doesn't that just seem wrong? Do you want those preservatives in your body?  What do you think they are doing to your organs in there?

I think it's no wonder that cancer is such an epidemic. It's no wonder that children are being born with autism at astonishing rates.  It's no wonder that this country is now facing a new generation of children who are predicted to have a SHORTER LIFE SPAN than their parents' generation for the first time in recorded history. 

Don't these things speak to you? Don't they say "oh my god, this is an epidemic, this is a serious problem, something has to stop!!"  They do to me.

We are allowing corporations to put toxic foods on our shelves and we are buying those foods and we are eating them and we don't understand why we wake up absolutely exhausted, why we have chronic aches, pains and depression and why we are all basically just waiting for the time in our lives WHEN (not if) we get our cancer diagnosis. 

This is a travesty and the worst part is that it is totally avoidable. 

So I'm on a new mission here, a mission to discover what Healthy Eating really and truly means and to start to implement that healthy eating into my life, whatever it takes.  I think that having a healthy lifestyle is one of the utmost priorities in life - it is the thing that we should be focusing on the most. What else is there that matters more? If you aren't healthy, you cannot live and you cannot achieve the things that you want to so there is no point. 

And so I have made it my goal this year to become as healthy as possible and to learn as much as I can as about what that means.  That's the funny thing, I don't even really know what it MEANS to be healthy! I know to eat whole grains, I know to eat vegetables with my meals, I know to buy organic but I don't know what choices to make in the store.  What kind of dairy products are safe? How should I prepare my foods? What kinds of breakfast foods are okay and what aren't? What is an actually Healthy lunch? I'm going to question and reevaluate all of my choices and preconceived notions, I'm going to throw out everything I thought I knew and go forward and learn new things because I believe in the importance of this issue so much that I am willing to fully reeducate myself on this topic. 

And YES that will require much more effort on my part but I am up for the challenge and I embrace the opportunity with open arms because these are the things that are important, these are the things that matter. If I can bring better health and a higher quality of life to my child, my husband and myself than I have made a huge difference and that is all that matters. 

And I encourage you to do the same. 

And if you need more encouragement, watch this video, it will absolutely change your world:

thank you for reading if you have and please feel free to join me as I make these changes and continue forward with this movement.  Comments are always appreciated <3

Monday, April 12, 2010

Coaching: how to get coached

I've had a few people contact me recently about my Life Coaching business asking me if I still do coaching or if I'm just blogging with coaching tips and ideas. 

The answer is Yes! I definitely still do coaching!

I realized I've never really addressed this here, so I'm gonna do that now:

I am a Certified Life Coach (notice the capital letters? fancy, right?). I didn't just decide to call myself one because it made a catchy blog title (although that would have been a heck of a lot cheaper! ;) lol). But instead I actually went through a really intensive 18 month program based out in Colorado in order to get my certification. I have been certified since 2007 and have been working with clients since 2005 (we are trained to coach by coaching so I had to have a client since day one of my coaching program! Talk about throwing us into the fire! Scary stuff but it was great lol). 

Anyway, it's been a challenge these past few years to maintain a business that is considered a "luxury". When the economy took a downturn so, unfortunately did my business. I didn't give up though and I continued to channel my passion for coaching and self-development into other projects. I wrote my first novel (which I am editing and hoping to shop around to agents by the end of the summer), I outlined several book ideas for non-fiction, coaching-style books and when clients were in short supply, I was able to focus my coaching-like energy into my friends (those who wanted me to, of course! I don't go around offering unsolicited advice).  My best friend actually has started calling me her Spiritual Adviser which is something that both flatters me and makes me really excited at the same time lol. 

ANYWAY, we are off on a tangent, which is apparently one of my strengths haha.

So coaching, where does the business stand now and what the hell is it?

Well, in brief: life coaching is like working with a personal trainer but instead of helping you get thin or buff we're helping you work through the places in your life that are keeping you from being who or what you want to be. We help you identify and change situations in your life that are keeping you stuck.  Ever notice that there seem to be cycles in your life? Bad relationships, not getting promoted, unable to stick to a new habit or routine?  These are all things you can definitely change! That's what a coach helps you do! We help you figure out where you're getting stuck and we help you figure out how to start doing different behaviors to get around those roadblocks! :) 

And so yes I am still coaching! Yay! *applause* It's just a different kind of coaching than I was doing right out of coaching school.

I recently came up with an economy-friendly way of coaching that has actually been really popular (and it's earth-friendly, too!). The idea came to me a few months ago and ever since I spread the word out there to my former clients, blog readers and friends I have been working with people every week on a really consistent basis!  That's great because it proves that this is a really effective method of coaching and that it's really working for people!

Here's what it is: Email Coaching!  Email coaching offered on a per-session basis. 

How is this different than "regular" coaching? Well, before when I had my business, I was trained to offer coaching in packages. 6 weeks for X dollars. 12 weeks for Y dollars, 15 weeks for Z dollars and so on. The belief is that in order to really and truly change, you must be committed to a program and willing to do the work over a consistent period of time. I understand this mentality and believe it to be true but i also know that right now it is not practical for people to spend large chunks of money like that, it's just not.  And i'd rather give people the option to still get SOME coaching than to get none at all. The all-or-nothing mentality seems to be the exact opposite of the spirit of the thing.

So Email Coaching seemed like a great alternative to me. Especially because it is on a per diem basis. 

I am charging a really, really, really, REALLY low rate for this guys, just so you know. I realized that my love for coaching is greater than my desire to make arbitrary amounts of income at this point in my life.  Coaching is a huge part of me and when I am unable to work with clients I am not as grounded and healthy as I can be (and neither are my potential clients who aren't getting to be coached).

Coaching is what I am meant to do in this life. It is who I am. I knew that I had to find a way to bring coaching to everyone and make it affordable. In this economic situation all-or-nothing often ends up just being nothing and that is a no-win scenario for everyone. 

Plus, I believe that things always work out in life and someday if i am meant to make a lot of money, I will. I can't force it to happen, I can't wish the lotto winnings into my bank account and honestly, I don't even want to do that. I am content, I am happy and I am fine. Right now instead of focusing on the money or the outcome, I have to do what i feel to be right in my heart and luckily for you guys, that means offering ridiculously cheap email coaching! lol :)

So here's how it works: you email me and let me know that you would like to do email coaching (this is just so I know to be on the lookout for your email). You will pay me for the session (either by paypal or check), I will reply and let you know how the whole process works and then we will begin!

You will email me and explain your situation; whatever the topic is that you would like coaching on.  Some examples are: you could be having a fight with your spouse, you could be feeling a lack of motivation for your health and fitness plan, you could be struggling with asking for a raise at your job. Whatever it is, you give me some background information and let me know what the issue is.  

Then I email you back. I give you advice, ask you questions, give you some insight and assign a little "assignment" to do that is fitting for your specific situation. Don't worry, there are no tests, you will not be graded lol the assignment is just something to get you up and moving towards health and resolution to the issue.  My emails are often quite lengthy and full of lots of different ideas. Don't worry if you are overwhelmed at first, it's okay to take it one step at a time.

After you do the assignment, you email me again and let me know how it went. You tell me what you're thinking and feeling, how you're reacting to things after the assignment, what your thoughts are and where you're going now. You'll answer the questions I posed to you in the last email as well. I will reply to you with some follow-up questions for you to consider, some insight based on everything you said in your second email and I will give you feedback. I will also share with you some more ideas for how to continue implementing these changes into your situation as you go forward and continue to make improvements.  

And that's it!  You are free to turn around and set up another session with me if you want to right away and that's fine, I've definitely had people do that before. Or you can just take the one session and be off on your merry way! Whatever you want or need to do is fine with me!

Oh, and I should mention the cost :) I do these email sessions for only $20. 

I don't know if this sounds inexpensive to you guys but I have to tell you that it TRULY is.  A phone session with a real certified life coach (just like me) usually averages about $70 for an hour.  And honestly, when you consider how much a life coach is helping you - that is a really reasonable price. I know, however, that most people cannot afford something like that, especially right now. And so that's why I came up with this idea of the email coaching. I also offer phone coaching for a ridiculously slashed price as well ($30 for two sessions within a one week time period) but I've found that a lot of people are gravitating towards the email coaching, not just because of the price but I think because in this era there is something comforting about being able to just write out your thoughts and receive a response also in writing. 

So there we have it!  Coaching by email!  It's a new era lol

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here or be in touch with me. If you want to set up a session let me know that too! It's a great time and a great price. 

And thanks to everyone who has been asking me for information about this, it prompted me to realize that I haven't really mentioned it here even though I keep meaning to!

Oh! and last thing: it doesn't matter if i KNOW you in real life or online or whatever, I can still coach you if I know you. There are strict confidentiality rules (i even have a legal document drawn up that I will gladly sign and send your way if you'd like (i've done it before several times! it's totally not a big deal for me to do it)) and it doesn't make anything "Weird" or whatever. Like i said, this is my calling in this life, this is literally my reason for being here. I am definitely able to handle things professionally and be detached from you as the person i'm coaching and you as the person who I run into at Target doing errands on a Sunday. Don't worry, this is totally normal for me and not a big deal. I know the majority of my clients in real life in all honesty and I've found that many have told me that they feel better about the process because they knew me at least a little bit before getting involved in the coaching. It's like with anything else, it's best to get a feel for someone before opening up. That's normal and it's normal to feel more comfortable because you know me on some level.  Just please have no worries about that aspect of it at all. Like i said, I know the majority of my clients.

Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there. Wow this has gotten longer than I expected so I'll end it now!

I hope this helps clear things up though and I hope that you keep it in your back pocket as an idea. Life is challenging right now and no one is expected to be able to get through it all alone. If you need someone to talk to who can offer you some insight into a situation you're going through, feel free to just send me an email and I'll let you know if coaching would work for this or not.  Lots of times it really just helps to have someone with an alternative opinion look at the situation you're going through and offer some insight. It's even better when that person is a trained professional :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Coaching: it's gettin' hot in here - thoughts about wishes

I'm glad to know that someone out there was listening a few weeks ago when, standing in the snow I wished loudly that summer would hurry up and get here already. 

It's nice to feel heard.

The weather, as you know if you live anywhere near me (East Coast area) has been absolutely crazy hot. It's been in the upper 80's lower 90's this whole week. Honestly, I'm kind of overjoyed by this weather. It's nice to have sunlight and warmth for a change, for the tree outside of my window to be covered with tiny little buds and berries. To need a fan to blow on my bare legs while I read in the afternoon.

But no one likes a whole post about the weather and so that's why I want to point something else out here too...this post isn't just about weather, this post really is about Granted Wishes.

See, like i said, a few weeks ago when it was bitter and freezing and we were on our third or fourth blizzard and I had to walk through the snow with my jeans on top of leggings tucked into boots with holes in them, tube socks pulled halfway up my legs and three shirts, a sweater and a coat on, I said to myself, "Can't it please just be summer soon? Can't we skip the cold, wet, rainy spring and just jump right into summer? I would love some 90 degree days!"

And look around you, my friends. That's exactly what happened.

Now obviously I'm not suggesting that I have some magical pull with the universe or the weatherverse or any verses-that-be (but maybe i do, you never know!) but what I am saying is this: Wishes are Granted all the time. 

That's the thing of it - people walk around speaking out loud about what they want in life, and they don't stop and realize how often they get it!

A few years ago i taught a class about this, about how the way we communicate and the words we say can (and do) shape our worlds.  People don't understand this, they don't know that the words that they expel into the atmosphere around them become a part of that atmosphere and shape it. Their words are literally creating their realities. This is true because on a very non-new-agey-level, whatever you say when you aren't alone can be heard by other people and we all know that the words we say are often the largest influences on the people around us.

So without going off onto too huge a tangent here (too late?) I want to express this thought: What you say and specifically for the sake of this post what you ask for and what you want in life often comes to you, you just don't stop to realize it or to see it or to appreciate it for what it is when it gets there.

Many people have forgotten how much they would've loved a day like this a few weeks ago. Instead they're complaining about the heat, driving with their AC on already, shutting the blinds and the windows and cranking up the air, complaining that it's too hot to move or to go anywhere.  I want to say to them, "Remember your former self? You from three weeks ago? That individual is kicking you right now for not appreciating this!"

How many women wish for more romance in their lives? And yet when their husbands fill their cars with gas or when they suggest they go out for ice cream after dinner these same women don't stop and realize that their wish is being granted. Sure, it might not always look like exactly what you had in your mind, but what kind of world would that be? Who do you want to be married to? Yourself?

The thing to do here is to pay more attention to the world around you. Look at the ways in which your wishes are being granted.  Are you upset because you never have time to yourself and then all of a sudden your kids' friends invite them over for a few hours? Bam. Wish granted. Don't fill that time with stupid errands or other obligations or by doing whatever you would be doing if the kids were still around - go out there and do whatever you wished you could be doing if you had more time! You are being given this gift, don't waste it.

The point of this is (if i haven't yet beaten this thing to death): we are all being given the things we ask for in life. You just have to learn to open your eyes and open your heart to seeing that.  Do you want more flowers? Stop and notice how often you'll see pictures of flowers, books with flowers on them, commercials about flowers. Play a game with yourself, ask the Universe to show you something totally weird like pink bunnies or keychains with your initials on them or whatever and i promise you that without fail you will be seeing pink bunnies every day (and you'll be sober too! (hopefully!)).

Sure, has it been suggested to me that this could be a case of "what you seek you shall find" and that really all the pink bunnies were there all along? Yes. Definitely. And I don't debate that for a second - that could totally be true. But I ask you this: SO WHAT? Isn't it better to begin to actively look for the things we DO want in life than it is to search for the things we don't? Why not see the happiness, the positivity? Why not find those wishes for ourselves if that's the case. It doesn't really fundamentally matter either way if the Universe is responding to you or if you are just seeing what's already there. Either way your wishes are being granted and even the most cynical person out there hast to admit that there's something a little bit magical in that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Life: There's something amiss here.

i've been thinking recently and i've come to the conclusion that our culture is focused on the wrong things. 

Try not to say "duh" and roll your eyes at me for just a second. I'm aware that this is a fairly obvious observation.  But please, allow me to explain what specifically I mean...

See, I'm the kind of person who is very obsessed with the "Meaning Of Life" (all in capital glowing letters with an orchestra playing triumphant music in the background). I like to sit around and ponder, I like to fill my time with things that I feel are enhancing to me on either a mental, spiritual, physical or emotional level. I pretty much don't do things if they don't fit one or another of those criteria. 

As you can expect, this has made for a fairly nontraditional lifestyle for me. 

My weird life aside (we'll save the details for another day), I kind of want to talk about the principals that drive these decisions and I'd like to wonder why more people, or really, society on the whole isn't governed in more of this direction. 

Look at how most people spend their time (and this is NOT a criticism, just an observation): Get up, go to work, come home, watch TV, eat, go to sleep. Weekends are for errands and home maintenance and, more often than not, some heavy or at least moderate drinking.  Lather, rinse, repeat. If you have children, work them in around the seams - either drop them off at school/daycare, pick them up and include some baths and maybe some children's movies or hopefully some playtime and that's about it.

But what i want to know is where is the time for the REAL priorities? And why has our culture evolved to the state of existence where this is an absurd question?

Sure, it's one thing if you're the kind of person who LOVES their job and lives for it and who feels fundamentally fulfilled as a person by the work you're doing. Than I definitely think that spending 10 hours a day in commute/at work is not only a valid way to spend your time but a GREAT way to spend it. Unfortunately, of the probaly 1,000 people i know, there is literally only ONE person in my life who fits that criteria.  Most of the other people I know are working/living life like this because they have to, because there is not another option.  Isn't that unfortunate? 
Why do we live in a society where there is really no other choice?  Why is the best option to pick the job that appeals to us the most out of all the other options?  Why are we settling for the least crappy choice? 

I mean honestly, wouldn't it be nice if our culture was more focused on family and enriching activities?  What if it was more like it used to be in the middle ages, where a family ran the household together, where they were all responsible for their livelihood and they made what was needed for themselves and their neighbors and that was enough.  Why is it that suddenly life is focused on being outside of the home, away from the family, becoming a robot in a cubicle and spending all the best years of your life (and hours of your day) by imputing information into the great machine of the Corporation? 

There is no focus on community anymore, instead it's the Global Community.  There is no Neighborhood Unity, no Family Focus.  Time with your children (from BOTH parents) is a luxury.  It's all about these meaningless things - arbitrary steps in a system that is fabricated to give us false senses of meaning: promotions, bonuses, projects, deadlines. Outside of the building that you work in these things don't even exist, they have no universal currency, they mean nothing to anyone else but the people on your Team or in your office complex.  Time spent with family however, THAT is a universal concept that has meaning. Enriching your spirit, that holds real value. Doing something that stirs you on an absolutely fundamental level - that's the stuff that lives have revolved around since the beginning of time...or at least they used to.

What has happened to out culture?  Why do all of these pursuits get shuffled to the back of the line? Why is family time often the last thing on our list yet getting to some gray building on time in the morning is first?  Why does it matter what reports get filed when? How will that ever ultimately stir something within you on any level that's real?  How will that ever be the thing that really truly makes your life not just a series of passed hours but instead a series of Events that have something to do with You. 

Sure, you can inject yourself into your work, you definitely can make a difference in these corporations. I don't want to suggest that you can't or that they don't give you a chance to do that...but I do ask why it's so hard for the people who just don't want that life.  Why does this culture shun the idea of being LESS work-focused and more family/life focused. Why is it taboo to want to LIVE more and work less?

The culture has even tried to take mothering away from us. How many women now choose a career over their family?  And why? Because somehow it is socially unacceptable not to be a career woman.  Somehow it is no longer okay to stay home and raise your children and NOT worry about what your career title it is.  

And even worse, it's now officially way harder financially to be a one-income home. That's the other thing the culture has done to us - made it Necessary for us to work because we cannot be educated members of society if we are unable to repay those debts. 

It just seems unfair to me.  Unfair and skewed.  I have a husband who would love nothing more than to immerse himself in studying history and learning as much as he can about it and i KNOW that if he had the chance to do that he would be enriched and fulfilled beyond all words. He would eventually contribute back to society in great ways through writing or lecturing or other things that would come to him by getting to live this dream.  But is he ever going to be able to do that?  I doubt it.  And why? Because our culture doesn't really make it possible. 

He cannot throw himself into learning and have a family, nor can he do it and go to school.  He can't abandon the workforce at this stage of his life because then he will have to explain himself to potential future employers and the odds are that they wouldn't respect his lapse from the workforce. 

The point is, he cannot live his dream and so he tries to tell himself that he just simply doesn't want to do it. 

But i know that's a lie.  and that breaks my heart. 

I don't understand a society that is designed to put all of it's citizens into little slots where they have to do repetitive tasks over and over again in order to pay their dues and pay back the schooling that they HAD to do to get them there in the first place.  It seems unfair and it seems to me like the priorities are seriously screwed up. 

If I could restructure things, I would. I would have a much more community-oriented culture with the priority on family, on using and taking and creating only what you need and on giving back.  People would work of course but they would do things they liked, they would support one another and they would not need to work forever.  The culture would be focused on finding what is inside people's hearts and souls and helping them achieve those goals. My husband would study and I would write and we would still be able to exist somehow.  Others would get to have their antique shops, their horse farms, their artist studios and everyone would be home in the early afternoon to see their children and their spouses and families would get together on the weekends and just enjoy one another. 

I don't know why that world is so far-fetched. Why is that kind of life so impossible to have?  What has happened to us that imagining all of that is just farcical at this point?  Why do i seem like a naive child when i write this instead of someone who has an innovative perspective?  Because something is wrong here in this culture, that's why. 

And i honestly have no idea how to fix it. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Life: i do not like the cone of shame

My cat is a cone-head.

I feel badly about this because, honestly, she's depressed. She lazes around more than usual (she is a kitten afterall) and often sits with her cone facing downwards towards the floor, just staring at her little circle of carpet. It's pretty heartbreaking.

At night she climbs onto me and puts her cone on my face, and we breathe on each other and sleep uncomfortably but tangled up because at least she feels better being close to me I think.

I wish that I could explain to her why she has to wear this thing on her head. It's pretty clear that she's ticked off at me for it. Yesterday I took it off for a while so she could have a break and she took off running around the house for two hours. I couldn't catch her. Occasionally she would run by and take a swipe at me or bite at my ankles.

I got her messages loud and clear.

I want to tell her that it's not my fault, but I can't. This shows me just how much I hate when people are mad at me and I can't talk them out of it, lol. She's a cat, she is wearing a plastic cone 24/7 and I'm the one who keeps putting it back on her. Of course she's going to be annoyed, who wouldn't?

I'm just looking forward to Monday when her stitches come out and we can ditch the cone permanently. It will be nice when I don't have to stare into her sad little eyes anymore, or fix her ears that have gotten pushed backwards into the cone.  Her sad little ears, they get all bent up and folded backwards and she looks like a little piglet.

Talk about a guilt-complex, right? I literally just wrote a whole post dedicated to wishing i could explain the cone-head to my cat so she wouldn't still be mad at me, lol. Oh well. I know it's for her own good and I'm starting to suspect that it's for MY own good as well. I think I'm learning something by not being able to convince her that I'm not the bad guy lol. Like maybe I need to just let go and not be such a control freak sometimes?

Nah, that doesn't sound right. lol

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Coaching: Patience is hard

My Motto


Patience is something that's hard to come by. At least for me it is.

It feels like our culture doesn't really get the concept of patience.  It's like in America the idea of waiting and non-instant-gratification is annoying, it's something we don't think we should have to do. I know it's cliche but i totally blame TV for this. Things seem to magically just happen on TV. People have wealth and satisfaction and test results all within seconds on the screen.

In real life though, things unfortunately don't work like that.

Real life requires a lot of waiting and working and doing and then waiting some more.

And to be honest, I hate that!

The rock pictured above is on my desk.  I keep it there to remind me obviously that I should Never Give Up and to inspire me to keep going when I want to do exactly that.  It also makes me think of that saying that goes something like, "if things aren't better yet than you haven't reached the end".  I guess what i mean is that I have recently come upon the belief that you can't fail at something if you don't stop trying and giving it your all. Just Never Give Up and you will be okay.

Weight loss and fitness is a good example of this: it's hard to lose weight and to get into shape, anyone can tell you that. It's hard to undergo an entire "Lifestyle Change" (a phrase which seems like just another corny title applied to something to make it sell but which is in fact an incredibly accurate description of what a weight loss and fitness routine is). It's hard but if you are diligent with Health and Fitness and if you eat right and work out then EVENTUALLY it will pay off.  It may take weeks or even months to show any sign of progress (trust me, I recently worked out 5 times a week for three weeks only to see the scale go UP before finally going down 1.2 pounds) but eventually it will show up, it will pay off.

Imagine if I had given up on my fitness routine before I had seen that weight loss? I never would have known that if I had stuck it out, I would have found results.

The same is true of everything we want in life, as long as we are TRYING at it and we don't give up we are at the very least bound to learn incredibly valuable life lessons. We must be adaptable, we must be willing to be open to the information we receive along those paths but at long as we do those things (adapt, try, grow, and wait) eventually fortune will smile upon us and all of the pain of patience will be worth while.

And if our lives were TV shows, all of that stuff I just described would fall to the editing-room floor.

But that's okay because I have the sneaking suspicion that the waiting and trying is what makes it taste extra sweet (or extra healthy if your goal is weight loss lol) at the end.

So I'm trying to take my own advice here, to never give up on myself and my ambitions, to put one foot in front of the other and to be patient and wait for my dreams to come true.

What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life: Cupcakes make the world a better place

Sometimes when it's winter and it's cold and it's raining and miserable you just need a little bit of joy in your life to get through it.

On days like that I sit around and plan my eventual move to warm and sunny climates. I literally look up real estate in places like Florida, California and the Caribbean.

I am a big believer in making our own happiness though, and so today I figured that I should take that quite literally:


through baking, of course.

I think that when we make things, no matter what it is that we make we are doing something that is essential in the Universe. The act of creation is a part of us, it is the driving force behind all living things. And on a simplistic level, it makes us feel better to know that we are capable of creating something from a pile of separate components.


today I created cupcakes.

Well, cupcakes and some other things but none of the other things are tangible (they're all words strung into sentences that are living inside my computer...hopefully one day they'll become something tangible though! that's the goal after all)

cupcakes are love

Cupcakes. Happy little pieces of perfection. They are the best thing to make on a cold, rainy February day when you find yourself wondering if you do in fact have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

and there is something so great about putting the sparkling little sprinkles on top.

Chocolate cupcakes!
purple sprinkles

So get out there and make something today. Even if it's something totally indulgent like cupcakes. It still counts!


Monday, February 22, 2010

Life: One Year Later


Today marks one year since The Fire that came and burned down the home where I grew up and tried to take my parents and their dogs along with it.

This has been a hard year for me, it's been full of ups and downs. I will never forget that night...when I went to bed and the world was normal and I woke up and an entirely new era had begun.

I don't mean to dramatize things and I know that there is a seductive allure in telling our own stories so much that they become Epic Tales but this really was a big deal in my life. It's everyone's worst nightmare: to hear the phone ring in the middle of the night when no one is pregnant so it can't be good news.

That's what happened to me a year ago. Only my phone didn't ring, Ryan's did. Why? Because I had absentmindedly left mine on silent, something I never do anymore. Leaving your phone on silent all night is a luxury afforded to those who have never gotten calls like this in the middle of sleeping. It's a luxury I miss but I am glad to avoid now.

When Ryan's phone rang at 2:30 in the morning and he saw who was calling he handed it to me to answer. It was my mom and when I said, "Is everything okay" she said "No." and sobbed.

I remember snippets of the call, mostly her saying the words "the house is gone" over and over again and telling me that Heather (my sister) was on her way to pick her up and she would be at Heather's house (which was then across the street from my own house) soon. I remember collapsing to the floor and then, like a frantic bolt of lightening I darted out of our room, out my front door and across the street where I collapsed onto Heather's front steps sobbing in my nightgown in the middle of the freezing February night. All I knew was that my parents were on their way and that our house was gone.

Ryan came out to try and bring me back inside but I couldn't move from there, I had to wait, my mother said she was on her way and I had to see her, to touch her, to know she was truly okay. He  brought clothes out to me and I dressed on the porch and shivered.

When my mother, father and their two little dogs arrived I burst into tears. My mother looked stunned, my father kept shaking his head.  I wrapped my arms around my mom and buried my face in her hair. It smelled like a campfire, a scent that would linger around all of us for weeks to come.

A few hours later, my siblings and I congregated at Heather's house with the exception of my other sister. My brother, Heather, my mother, Ryan and myself set off to make the trek down to our family home to see what was left. I know I went mostly to find out if this was all Really Real or not. I had to see it, I just had to know.

When we turned onto our street I thought that it had begun to snow. I was wrong. Ash fell from the sky like tragic little snowflakes. Ash. Remnants of our old lives falling all around the car, coating the street. I put my hand to the window and stared.

The house was still standing, but it was still completely gone. Charred and collapsed inside, there really was nothing left.

I remember saying "No, no, no, no, no" and falling to my knees in a pile of rubble that was once my mother's desk and bookshelves and a chest I had made that housed all of our family photos. I dug and dug and dug through broken glass and wet pieces of wall just to try and find anything that I could in that pile. There was nothing there.

Smoke still hung in the walls like the ghosts of our memories.


and as we all looked around at the place where we each used to lived, it dawned upon me: this is Really Real.



For weeks afterward, everywhere I went I had the morbid ability to imagine whatever room I was in transformed to it's post-fire skeletal form. I knew what lived underneath of plaster and drywall and I could picture anywhere in ruins. It was terrifying. I felt like the little boy in the Sixth Sense: haunted, stalked by the dead but in my case it was dead rooms and not dead people.

We would make return visits to our house, some things in the attic had survived, some things from the dining room and an old guest bedroom were in tact still. Every time we entered the house, we had to wear masks and don our 'Fire Clothes' - articles of clothing my father kept in the trunk of his car. These were items that we would only wear into the house because that smell never comes off.

It was post-apocalyptic the way we looked. And in many ways, for us, that felt appropriate.


But this isn't all bad news, I promise, it's not.

Over the time that has passed between now and that morning I spent digging on my knees through the ash of my old memories, there has been a lot of growth.

For one thing, we have all learned to cherish every day and one another very much. I never take any moments with my loved ones for granted anymore. Not even a little bit (like a woman at my book club joked the other day, "you never screen mom's calls again!" how true that is). 

For another, we've had the chance to really define for ourselves just what it means to have a Home.

A house is one thing. It's a building where people live.

A Home however...well, a Home is something else entirely. A Home is a magical sort of thing, alive in the same way that memories are. A Home is a place that holds you, it keeps you, it's where you belong, it's where part of you always is, even if the rest of you has moved on.

And over this year I've had to really come to terms with myself about what A Home really means to me and what it means to lose a Home. I've had to learn that I can lose my Home and not lose the parts of myself that used to live there as well.

Sure, some of it is gone. There was a death in our lives after-all, the death of what used to be, of where we used to live. I had to mourn that death, I had to grieve for it and let it take over me and let myself go through all of the pain of having to figure out just what it all meant. I had to write a letter saying Goodbye to my Home and to those photos and moments that are forever lost.

But in doing that I was able to really clarify for myself just exactly how valuable a Home really is, how much meaning and power it has. A Home: the family member i didn't even realize I had until it was gone.

And now I am aware of what a gift it is to even HAVE a Home, to have a family, to have people in my life that make me feel like there is somewhere I belong. I only felt so empty because I once had felt so full. That is a blessing, truly. A gift like that is one that nothing can ever destroy, not even a hungry fire in the middle of a February night.

So I am grateful. I can truly say that now. I am grateful and I am at peace. I understand that what has been has been and that it is important to honor your past, to respect it and to move on when it is gone. I also have learned that it is equally as important to cherish the present, to absolutely revel in it, to roll around in it and wrap it around you like a warm blanket because that is when all of life is happening: right now at this very moment. And not to be all doom-and-gloom but it is very true when they say that no one ever knows what tomorrow may bring. So live and love today for today. Plain and simple.

As for my parents, they are doing well and are so grateful for the outpouring of love and care they have received over this year. Their house has been rebuilt and while it is very different from the old place that used to live within those walls, it is still theirs nonetheless. And every day it moves farther and farther away from being a House and gets closer and closer to becoming a Home again.

Thank you to everyone who has been there for me and for us this year. I am eternally grateful to you. <3