A Little Secret

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I’m going to let you all in on a little secret, a secret that keeps me stuck in more ways than I can decipher even for myself somedays. I experience massive anxiety most days. I’ve always leaned towards being an introvert, but the anxiety I’ve experienced in varying ways since Russell died leaves me wishing desperately somedays I could be a hermit, on a beach, talking to no one for days on end.

When I’m with people I love being with them, especially if it’s my kids. When I talk to people on the phone I love the conversations. But, I’m not going to lie, I could seriously be alone in my house for a VERY long time before feeling any desire to talk to anyone. And it can take A LOT of psyching myself up for even one interaction.

I don’t feel the anxiety until I know I’m about to leave the house or make the phone call. And the anxiety eases fairly quickly once I’m actually engaged in conversation with someone. When I’m experiencing it, it’s like trying to walk through quicksand with wader boots filled with concrete. Some periods of time are worse than others but it can shift randomly. But always it’s there waiting to invite me deeper into silent aloneness.

Most of the quotes and memes I share each day are what I NEED to read just to keep myself moving. I WILL create my best life and my biggest obstacle is myself.

I’ve got this and so do you!

Lion King

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Lion King kind of wrecked me. I cried off and on from beginning to end. Here’s why…

1. Not only was it the first movie Russell Peterson and I saw together, it was when I first admitted (to myself) I was irrevocably in love with him. And he was on track to be a priest so it felt a little doomed.

2. This is the first time I’ve allowed myself to watch it since he died.

3. The symbolism of life, death, purpose, passing the torch, and so much more has always been enough for me to write a book.

4. The dad dying tragically and suddenly, leaving his kid, is way too close to home.

5. The belief that we carry on the mission and the love of those who’ve died is powerfully alive as I strive to create a life in which I can bring change to the world. That was Russell’s greatest desire – to make a difference.

6. I just really miss Russ tonight as I had a great evening with two of our kids. That all of my kids still like and seek to spend time with me is one of my greatest joys and gratitude’s.

7. I know Russell would be so proud of the adults our kids are growing into and I hope someday they can really believe that too.

8. I feel emotional things so deeply sometimes, even if it’s “just” fiction. To me, who has a very active imagination, even fiction becomes real for at least a little while.

Circle of life! 💖💖💖💖

Step away from the rabbit hole

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Early on in my grieving/healing journey I wrote often of my drop into Cuckoo Luckoo Land.   It was the land I believed I stepped into the day Russell went into the hospital for a still mysterious reason.   I stayed there through his week of hospitalization and then for months after his death as our kids and I wandered around in shock and sorrow.

In Cuckoo Luckoo Land things are even more bizarre than in Alice’s Wonderland.  Not only are things bizarre and weird they, but even the most joyous of events like birthdays and holidays are twined up with pain and grief.  It’s such a bizarro place.   What’s up is down. What’s in is over. What’s out is in between.   There are no clear opposites.  There is a little of everything in life  – light, darkness, pain, joy, hope, despair, love, loss.  It’s simply Cuckoo Luckoo.

Most of the time now, I no longer wander in that land.   My healing journey has slowly and steadily brought me out of that space which I am very grateful for.  But every once in awhile I can feel myself inching closer to there.  What I discovered last week is that I will sometimes start seeking the hidden door that would drop me down in there again.   As memories pop up on Facebook around this time it’s super easy to get sucked back into Cuckoo Luckoo Land as I remember all of that crazy first 6 months.   I read one thing and next thing I know I’m reading dozens and crying my way through my day.

I did that goofy, open the door to the memories and Cuckoo Luckoo Land several times last week, getting pulled deeper and deeper into the depressive dark places. It really sucked considering there were some gorgeous, sunny days and I didn’t want to leave my house even for the sun.  Finally after a few days of that, which included some emotional eating, I said enough and stopped reading the Facebook memories.  Well now, what a fascinating thing.  I stopped slipping and sliding as much through my days.

So often we simply can’t stop ourselves for just taking a peek at the memories from the past, no matter how painful they might be.   For me that can take me way too close to stepping into Cuckoo Luckoo Land and I’ve just got to STOP!  I experience enough pop up memories and grief bursts that I don’t need to go seeking them out.

I’m in control of what I look at and what doors I choose to open.   That’s what I am remembering and embracing this week!  I really can say no to reading all of those things in the past and say YES to staying in THIS time, THIS moment.  Hmmm, taking my own wisdom advice might be a good thing.

 

2019 – Year of the Phoenix Warrior

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2019 – Year of the Phoenix Warrior

What will you create for your new year? Who do you want to become and be?

Intention setting is one of my favorite things to do. For years, I have set an intention or a theme for myself at the beginning of each year. Rather than declare specific new year’s resolutions that I often leave in the dust within a month or two, I pick what energy I want to create for my life in the upcoming year. Then throughout the entire year, I thread that energy, that theme, that intention into all that I do.

Interestingly four years ago at this exact time, the final Christmas /New Year’s week that Russell Peterson was still with us, I set my intention for the upcoming year as “Let go and just breathe”. There was much in our lives that was in chaos and disarray to a very deep level and I knew I had to let go of a whole lot to create something new. Of course, little did I know at the time, how that mantra “Let go and Just Breathe” would become the strength I needed to survive the hardest time of my life.

Setting intentions can be weird and kind of magical that way. There is a stirring that goes inside of me, and I believe most of us, of a deeper knowing what we need to move ever closer to our most authentic selves. Sometimes I listen to her and sometimes I don’t. This time of year in which there is the cool blend of letting go of one year and getting ready to step into a new one, I allow myself to listen pretty closely to what is needed to get even more real.

This year has been the Year of the Warrior for me and there have been some badass, wonder woman, mother of dragons kind of movements. Mounted archery, running a 5k, starting a new career as a health coach filled with passion and purpose, doing my first horse shows, holding warrior woman retreats, and axe throwing are just a few of this year’s awesome adventures. The ways in which these have changed me is kind of amazing.

2019 is going to be the Year of The Phoenix Warrior for me. I am rising more strongly every single day from the ashes of the past several years. All of what those years have been for me – sorrow and joy, peace and despair, love and loss, light and darkness – come with me as part of who I am. But they will not leave me bogged down in the ashes anymore. I am dreaming big, bold dreams for my life and the lives of my kids. I am working daily to learn how to fly with these new, powerful wings that my warrior has formed. I am becoming more disciplined and determined to be my absolute healthiest, bravest, and most loving self. I am letting go of the fears I have of what others will think and simply speaking what is in my heart, knowing others will choose to journey along with me if it is right for them. I am flying with purpose, passion and joy towards a life of abundance in finances and in experiences.

I believe that I truly can create the life of my biggest dreams. I WILL do what it takes to make that happen and by this time next year will have an even more amazing story of life transformation than I do right now.

I am a Warrior. I am a Phoenix. I am a Phoenix Warrior!

Watch me fly or fly with me – the choice is yours!

 

Returning and Rising

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Returning and Rising – that is what has been running through my mind all day. Really it’s been moving around inside of me for awhile, but today especially I’ve been thinking about my journey and the ways in which I am returning and rising all in the very same movements.     It’s as if with the inhale of my breath I am returning to myself at the time when I first me Russell which was a time in my life I felt the most confident about who I was in my body, heart and mind.  And then in the next moment as I exhale, I am rising into a new, on fire me who is once again gaining confidence in herself body, heart and mind.  Returning and Rising!

Today this is especially true as it is the 20th of the month.  Russell died on the 20th of the month of March and so every single 20th day since then I have been uber aware of him, like the tingling of skin with a mild sunburn.  There is a kind of constant awareness that occurs, sometime super painful and at others just an enhanced awareness. This is what life is like for me on the 20th of each month.   Most of the time recently it is just an enhanced awareness, but I can still slip into that super painful place at a moment’s notice.   Today was just an enhanced awareness kind of day which brought more thoughts of him and what he would think of who I am becoming.

Today also marks my 1 year anniversary of becoming a health coach, which was a flukey kind of undertaking simply because my friend, Kathy, wanted to get healthier and my coach, Carrie, told me I should try it.   I went into last year not thinking I’d do anything more than “coach” Kathy.  Heck, I live a busy life with one business I run already. Who needed two?  Not me.  But now, a year later, I am in love with OPTAVIA and the profound opportunity it provides for people just like me who are wanting to get healthier but just need  the extra support, the extra education, the ease of a program to help them on their way. I am in love with getting to be part of people’s journeys to awakening to what a healthier life for their body, minds, hearts and finances can look like. I’m in love with being part of a ginormous community that is ALL about positivity and empowerment.  In an entire year, I’ve experienced not bit of negativity and that is astounding to me.  I am in love with how cheerleading other people helps me stay on my best path.

I am in love with the person I am rising into as she is also the one I am returning to.   She is a woman aware of her own power to influence her world.  She is a woman falling in love with her body again and finding joy in it.  She is a woman who feels confident about her path forward. She is a woman who knows that cravings are only temporary and so she chooses healthier options most of the time (margaritas and chips still call like a siren to me – lol).  She is a woman whose creative brain is so awake and energized that sleep is becoming less of a priority – what?!  She is a woman whose body feels stronger, younger and more capable than it has since it started birthing children. She is a woman whose body and mind feels like her own again, not just an extension of others.  She is a woman who is falling in love with life and seeking new adventures because her body can handle it again.  She is a woman whose heart is healing more rapidly and more deeply because it’s no longer hidden under layers upon layers of comfort food clogging it all up.  She is a woman who is rising from the ashes of her grief with a passion and a desire to help people live their very best lives in whatever way they dream of .  She is a woman who is a warrior, refusing to let fear of what others will think stop her from speaking her truth and going after her dreams.

So today on the 20th day of December I am remembering Russell, missing him and wishing he was here, while also knowing he would be my biggest cheerleader for my own health journey and for the ways I am using my greater health to pay it forward to the world.  He would cheerlead me loudly and persistently as I dreamed of a world where people were healed and whole and believed in themselves as much as I do.

So today I am returning to that woman he fell in love with as I also rise into the woman I can once again be in love with.   What a massive reclaiming of who I am and who I want to be is happening right now in this time and in this moment.   The gratitude I feel goes beyond words.

On The Other Side of Fear

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Fear and the recognition of the things that I am afraid of has become quite a lively interaction within myself these past few weeks. I’ve never really thought of myself as a fearful person and have always worked hard to act from a place of thoughtful calmness rather than from an anxious, reactive place. Heck, all that I have gone through in the past 3 1/2 years with my commitment to living my life out loud has been about acting towards my dreams rather than reacting from my fears. While that hasn’t really changed some new awarenesses of myself are arising with the entry of Phoenix into my life.

Rising from the ashes indeed with new intentions of living my bravest, most daring life is what I am being called to do. This photo of me with my two horsey loves right now is such a perfect depiction of what they signify for me. And it speaks to the part of my journey right now of moving past comfort, even if that feels shaky and crazy scary sometimes. I will continue to speak my journey out loud as I move through my fears one by one because I must if I am to release the stranglehold they can have over me.

Karoly is all about comfort for me. Just riding him is like riding the comfiest couch – it’s 100 %safe, it’s cozy, it’s like being permanently wrapped in a perfectly heated blanket, it’s about bringing light into my dark days. There is never any fear in riding Karoly. In fact, he can dispel the dark threads of anxiety from me quicker than just about anything. Just grooming him warms my heart and eases my breathing into a gloriously balanced space. This photo of me with him is from a mere 3 weeks after Russell died and it was a day of laughing and joy in the midst of one of the heaviest periods of my entire life.

Phoenix, I am discovering, is all about tapping ever deeper into my inner warrior. I fell in love with him immediately and was drawn to the fact that he is the image of what I have wanted since I was a young girl. A black pony with a desire to explore and connect with everyone and everything around him. He comes when I call. He loves to be groomed. He wants to trust. He’s the perfect riding size for me. And he also has pulled back the curtain of comfortable contentment I’ve had with Karoly to reveal some real fears lurking in the shadows. Fears that I must face if I am ever to be free of them. Fears I must move beyond if I am every to completely become the empowering warrior woman I dream of being. In many ways, Phoenix is symbolizing the dark threads within the light. Fascinating.

Phoenix wants to go and be in charge at all times. He’s super willing to try and listen to me, but definitely has a lot of anxiety hidden behind a mask of confidence. (Hmmm, sounding like me). He is so forward and so quick to react I can too easily see falling if I can’t learn to stay calm and balanced on him. Staying balanced on Karoly is as easy as breathing. Staying balanced on a much smaller and narrower pony is not quite so easy. I often hold my breath as I ride, forgetting that the very act of breathing deeply will help me stay grounded and balanced. So many life lessons being opened up before me to embrace or to ignore. With every moment I feel scared of what might happen if he spooks or bolts and I fall, and then I keep going anyway, I add a small bravery thread to my inner warrior and I’m a little less afraid.

People often comment on how many white animals I surround myself with – my dogs and 4 of my horses have all been white. While I think it’s circumstance, there is also the reality that in all things I try to focus on choosing the light paths of life – hope, love, possibility, joy, positive spins on things. Intentionally buying a black pony speaks to my belief that the dark side of life – pain, despair, grief, fear – all of these hold just as much value and wisdom for me. Walking the place between light and dark is a lifelong commitment of mine to live all of life to the fullest I can.

I am committing to exploring my fears as they pop up then gently yet firmly calling myself to step forward through and past them. I imagine I will be sharing lots about this in the comings days, weeks and months as I seek to lie a brave, transformative, hopeful life. I am so grateful to have 2 horses who are facilitating such a radical part of my rising and transformation. What an amazing, absolutely precious gift that is.

When a shirt is more than just a shirt

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I know I keep sharing A LOT of stories right now about how happy I feel with my health transformation.  But I just can’t help myself.  Everyday there is something new that I am discovering and experiencing.  For all of you have been following me through the rollercoaster of the past 3 years, I want to share the ways that joy is becoming a stronger thread in my life.  As I unfold more parts of my healing journey I stand in awe of the power we have to heal ourselves, especially if we are blessed enough to be wrapped in love from communities of people.   I simply can hardly believe how many shifts I am personally experiencing right now.

The shirt I am wearing in the picture here is one I bought on a shopping spree with my kids in the first few months after Russell died. We were quite impulsive in those first few months, saying YES to anything that brought even a few moments of a smile and some happiness. When I bought this shirt I bought it because of the tree that reminded me of the tree necklace my sister, Becca, had given me that never left my neck in the week Russell was in the hospital and for the months after he died. That necklace was my talisman and I held it ALL of the time as I would focus on just breathing through my days. When I saw the shirt I knew I had to have it, even though it was way too small and I might never be able to wear it. Just having it in my closet as another visual to take a breath and be gentle with myself was all that I needed.

Grief clogs our bodies as if lead has been poured directly into our bones.   As we travel through the first days, weeks, months, and years the toll upon our beings goes far beyond anything we can imagine.  The shock of everything in those early times can send us spinning into a space of seeking comfort in any way we possibly can, just to find even a few moments of ease for our aching hearts and minds.  We practice self-care. We cry. We laugh at the craziest of things. We hugs the people and animals who bring us relief. We shop. We sleep. We look for things that can bring us glimmers of joy. We spend time with people who will support and love us even on our darkest days.  We just focus on our breathe some days. We eat whatever brings us comfort.   We do whatever we can simply to get through our days without falling completely apart.

Some of the things we do are able to bring us true comfort and ease, even if only for a short time.  But some of the things, in bringing us temporary ease, can set us onto a path that further clogs up our hearts, our minds and our bodies.    The unclogging of ourselves, after the shock has settled, can be as monumental of a task as learning to live a life without our loved ones.   Even with a lot of support, it can feel so daunting that we spend years moving through our lives as if we are stuck in mud up to our knees. Oh we can make progress forward towards living a new  life, but getting there through the muckity muck we are now immersed in can feel beyond exhausting.   We take a step, yanking our leg up out of the mud that keeps us stuck, then we take another and wonder if we will ever, truly feel free to move again.

It is only recently, in my new dedication to learning healthier habits and reclaiming my body, that I am coming to realize how deeply the emotions and internal struggles of the past 3 years since Russell died have settled into my physical body.   All of the aches and pains and inability to move has been connected to my physical weight, but more powerfully it has been the physical manifestation of my emotional, grieving and healing journey.  My poor body has held sooooo much pain of my own and the others close to me who are grieving.   That I’ve not had a complete physical breakdown is a kind of miracle. Actually, I think that is true for all of us who experience traumatic losses in our lives.

As I lose the weight that has physically weighed down my body, the greater joy for me is the feeling that my heart and mind are losing the heavy weight of grief as well.   It’s as if, in saying YES to fueling my body in healthier ways and watching the pounds melt away, I am also saying YES to releasing some of the threads of grief that are wrapped around me.   Not only is my body moving more freely but my whole being feels lighter and ready to transform into a newer version of me.

For 2 1/2 years my tree shirt has hung in my closet, front and center all of the time, to serve as a goal for that someday that I can wear; that someday that I have released enough of the weight to fit into it. On Saturday night, I decided it was time to try it.  And IT FIT!  I cannot describe adequately enough what it felt like to wear this shirt that is sooo much more than a shirt.  Yes the shirt is one I love and am very excited to be able to wear again because of my physical transformation.  But more importantly, it speaks to the heart transformation I am experiencing.

Just as I’ve held onto a lot of extra pounds, I’ve held onto my grief for the deepest loss in my life so far.  As I stared at myself in the mirror with this shirt that I had to have “just because”, I was struck by the freedom I felt.  The freedom to wear something I’ve wanted to wear for 2 1/2 years; the freedom to believe that my transformation is really happening; the freedom to admit that the mantle of grief I’ve been wrapped up in is beginning to ease away.

I have no doubt that there will be moments for the rest of my life that I will grieve but for the first time in 3 years I am freely moving with new things that are completely my own, not connected with Russell.  The cottage we live in is ours.  The new “I am a Warrior” path and retreats are mine. The new steps as a health coach are mine.  I am actively creating a life for myself that is not under the umbrella of my grief.  And that brings me great joy.

This tree shirt is about way more than a shirt or even about losing physical pounds. It is about how, like a warrior, I am striving for the transformation I want even if it takes me years to get where I dream of being.     I am feeling way too good about my body, my heart, my mind, and my life’s purpose to stop now.   And if I can hold onto a shirt for 2 12 years with deep hope that someday I would be able to fit my body into it, then I can most definitely hold onto hope that I WILL  become the person I most long to be.  What a joyous thing that is!