Breathe and Be. You break or you build from here.

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“You have this between you now as part of your history together. There’s been hurt on both sides. That changes things. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Either way, things will never be the same as they were. You break or you build from here.”  The Queen’s Bargain Anne Bishop

Emotions rush through me, up from the darkest place of my being, like a swollen river raging out of control.   Memories that have been playing in my mind for a weeks come flooding in with a fierceness that takes my breath away.  I feel out of breath from the punch to the gut I experience.   I am rocked to my core and want nothing more than to run away.   I jump up out of my  chair ready to run to something else to do, anything that will stop my feelings.   Maybe I will get some food. Maybe I will turn on my phone and FB scroll.  Maybe I will turn on Netflix.  Maybe I will find some brainless task to do.  Anything to stop the flood of feelings and the panic that rushes over me as I experience being very close to some truth that won’t be silenced anymore.

All of this happens in the span of a minute or less, though the intensity of it all feels like a lifetime.  Then something inside of me, that wisdom self who seeks to call me to deeper healing, speaks up.   “Stop Lara! Right now, stop running.   Sit down and breathe into the pain that desperately wants to be healed.   Breathe into and know that you are strong enough for this truth and you are ready to heal that wound a little bit more today.   Stop. Breathe. Be.”

So I stop. I breathe. I allow myself to be in this time and this moment.   I stop running.  I breathe into the pain rather than push it away.   I trust that I can hear what I need to hear.   Stop. Breathe. Be.

Russell and I were in a very broken place in our relationship when he died.   We had started counseling which helps me believe that we would have found our way back to one another.   But we had just started and the brokenness was the predominant thread within our relationship. My memories of our brokenness and the hurts we had each inflicted upon each other have been playing over and over and over in my mind for much of this year.  Why this year, I am not sure.   Maybe because I’ve had so much more time to think about things. Maybe because I’m watching all of the hurt that people are inflicting upon one another in our world and so it is spotlighting my own history more.  Maybe because I am ready to listen to what wisdom I can gain from these truths.  Maybe because it is time to forgive myself for what I did and forgive him for what he did so that I can stop beating US up for the brokenness we created.   Maybe so I can stop feeling like a complete failure.  Maybe so I can let it go and move into a deeper place of healing and a new part of my life journey.   Maybe because there is a growing part of me that wants to stop moving through my life as a sleepwalker.  Maybe I want to fully wake up. Maybe, probably, all of these things and more.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Stop. Breathe. Be. Stop. Breathe. Be.

“Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting – whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention.  That intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realize our connection with all beings. Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or put us to sleep. Allowing it to awaken us is up to us.” Comfortable with Uncertainty Pema Chodron.

Whatever the reasons are for why I can’t stop thinking of Russell, our brokenness and the hope I hold that we would have learned to build a new path for US, it is clear it is time for me to sit with it all.  It is time for me to journal all that I can – the pain, the hope, the dark, the light.  It is time for me to stop running from it all using food, busyness, and escapes to avoid thinking about it.  It is time for me to say yes to listening to what needs to be heard.  It is time for me to say yes to healing this.  I stand at a tipping point of either breaking further or building from here.

Stop. Breathe. Be. Believe.

 

Breathe! It will be okay.

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Horses hold heart space like no other creature I have ever encountered.  For anyone they will hold space in a profound way, and especially for one who have they have decided is worthy of their trust and their attention and their hearts.    Tonight, I was radically reminded of the powerful way a horse can hold quiet, solid space even as deep emotions swirl around them.  Tonight, I allowed myself to let go, trust and collapse into the heart space of a horse.  I am in awe of the gift I was given.

A year ago, we could barely get near Penny, the sweet, little lesson pony who came to Avalon with clear evidence of some significant trauma having happened to her at some point in her life.  She desperately wanted to connect with people.  She desperately wanted to believe that the gestures of patience, love and healing were real.  But it took her months and months of quietness before she stopped flinching every time someone came near her, especially around her head.  It’s only been in the past three months or so that she gives into the bliss of being rubbed on her head and her ears.  Now, she calls to everyone who comes near and is often the first to say hello.    Her fear has turned into a trusting choice to believe that people really do want the very best for and will only shower her with love here.

Well tonight, this sweet, little thing stood with all the confidence of 100 horses as I stood with my head buried in her neck sobbing my heart out.  Not only did she stand there with her heart wide open to me, she made it very clear to the other two horses in the field to back the hell off as she became my shield.   They weren’t doing anything except being curious and wanting to love on me too, but for that time, I was 100% hers to breathe with and they weren’t allowed in.  Considering she is one of the most gentle, forgiving, laid back ponies I’ve ever seen in a herd this was quite stunning.  She quietly made it crystal clear that she was creating the heart bubble space for me to just let go and cry.   That is what horses do when they show up to hold heart space for a person.  Penny stood there with me hanging all over her, sobbing, and all she did was breathe.  She did this even to the point of taking a huge inhalation and letting it audibly go as if to say “Lara, I have got you!!  Until you can breathe deeply again, I will do it for you. Just let go as much as you need to. You are safe. You are loved.  You are not alone. I am HERE!”

With all of the amazing blessings that are present in my life right now and I am deeply grateful for, emotionally I am in a very dark season of my life.  The number of unresolved things from the past several years that I am becoming aware of how deep some of the hurts run is kind of stunning.  One after the other they are bubbling up and out.    I’ve been trying to just keep moving, not write or speak about it, and just stay focused on all of the positives.  Well now, I am planning to keep moving and to stay focused on the positives, and I am also going to start writing and speaking again about what is REALLY going on for me.

I am at my very best when I am writing my truth.  I am at my very worst when I am not giving myself permission to write and speak my truth but rather I allow some random (sometimes imagined) others to dictate what I should write and share.    I am at my very best when I am being honest about my struggles and my pain.  I am at my very worst when I try to just put on a happy face and act as if everything is ok.  I am at my very best when I name my fears out loud, then breathe right through them as I bravely take my next best step.  I am at my very worst when I try to act as if there is nothing to be afraid of and I just need to focus on something else.  I am at my very best when I find joy in the simplest of things and share that with the world as if I have found the most amazing treasure. I am at my worst when I think the lens through which I view the world is silly or unnecessary.  I am at my very, very, very best when I stay in this time and this moment and live out loud whatever is showing up for me RIGHT NOW.

Horses mirror back to us what is really and truly going on inside of us.  And they bring hearts of love energy that is bigger than anything we can really imagine.  Tonight, in this time and in this moment I am deeply grateful for a sweet little pony who held my heart with fierce, unwavering love.  I am breathing deeper. I am opening my heart up to my most authentic journey. And I know I will not only be okay, I AM OKAY!

 

Dear World, You May Keep Revolving

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Today was the first Big Day – anniversary or birthday or holiday – since Russell died 4 plus years ago that the driving thought all day wasn’t “World, WTF?  How are you still revolving? Russell isn’t here!   Everything should stop!”  It was the first Big Day I didn’t brace myself from beginning to end waiting for the crash into the darker, despairing side of memories. It was the first Big Day I didn’t feel the need at the very start of it to “rally” my troops and make specific mention of what is missing. It was the first Big Day that I just moved through my day with flashes of memories that brought only smiles, joy, love and peace.

Big Days are WICKED hard for people who are grieving.   And, those Big Days stay wicked hard farrrrr longer than the first year that the world seems to think is the “okay” time to grieve and be sad.  It’s incredibly hard to understand how the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt, when it feels like that is exactly what our hearts have done.  I’m at the tail end of year 4 and just now experiencing a Big Day as one I can simply breathe with love and joy through, without expectations that the entire world stop for the day.  4, ALMOST 5, YEARS!  And I am in no way the exception.

We MUST find ways to love people as fiercely in the years after that first one as we do in the first shocking one.  We must gently walk with people with compassion and patience until they one day walk through a Big Day without a thread of pain woven throughout.  We must allow people their own journeys, in their own time no matter where they are.   We must remember that grief has no time frame or blueprint for how to navigate through it.

So tonight Dear World, thank you for continuing to ebb and flow around me as I navigate this still new, often strange journey I find myself on.  Thank you World, for loving me gently, fiercely, unendingly as I dance my dance between joy and sorrow, dark and light, love and loss.    Dear World, you may keep revolving.

When you lose your mojo…

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Stream of consciousness writing is one of the things I usually reserve for my journal only.  As inspired as I usually feel when I write one of my musings, they tend to write themselves almost completely in my head before I put them into my blog.  Not this morning.   My mind has been such a muddle the past week or so and I have no clear idea of what sent me spiraling down into the land of muckity muck but there I am.   Stuck, not really caring that I’m stuck, and yet feeling ickity enough that I want out.

I’ve created some amazing things in my life.   I consider myself a successful, inspired, dedicated to going after my dreams kind of person.     I think I am resilient, creative, resourceful and can be hard working.   I can usually motivate myself to go after what I want but also love the support of a community.   The last few years especially I have done some awesome things, especially in light of the dark thread that has woven through our lives.

You know what though, I am tired.  I don’t mean physically tired really as I am finally getting enough sleep most nights.  I mean emotionally, mentally, energetically tired.  I mean to the bone tired. Actually deeper than that even.    I am weary of being strong, of going after bigger dreams, of working, of staying connected, of trying to figure it all out, of trying to be the absolute best I can be, of doing anything more than just being in each moment.  I am afraid I have not only set aside my mojo, but that I have somehow completely lost it.   I am tired.

This exhaustion is leaving me with such a pervasive “whatever” mentality that I actually feel like I am going backwards in creating the life I want for myself and my family.   Oh, I am still going through the bare minimum things I need to do to stay afloat but striving to really create a life of massive financial and time abundance – pfffttt!   That doesn’t seem to be happening right now. I’m too tired.

I don’t even want to think about or do the things that I know may pull me up and out of this funky place.   Because when I am just resting in the place of being tired and not sure if I want to be a massive go-getter anymore, I feel less tired.   There is a peace in that space.  And then, I wonder if maybe I don’t REALLY want to be a massive go-getter.   Maybe, I just want to find a job that has insurance and a 401k, so I don’t have to constantly worry about these things.   Maybe I just want to go do my hours and then be done for the day.   Maybe I don’t want to do the constant work needed to create new businesses, even though I love coaching and retreat facilitating.  Maybe I am too tired to be constantly dreaming, doing and creating.   Maybe I am too tired because I’m done being in charge of everything in my life and I just want to be a minion for awhile.

There are lots of maybes and lots of things to explore within this muckity muck place. While I am here I will do what I can. While I am here I will write all the muckity muck in my journal. While I am here I will be gentle with myself and trust that I won’t be here forever. While I am here I will try to just be curious about all that is rising up in me. While I am here I will do at least 1 thing each day that gets me moving just a little.   While I am here I will be grateful that I have my writing which provides some magical relief for me.   While I am here I will just be tired and focus on one thing at a time, without expectation that I do a million things each day.  While I am here I will love myself and know that I am doing the best that I can even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

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.

 

It’s time to ACT

 

“We are the most obese, medicated, addicted, and in-debt Americans EVER!” Brene Brown

Brene Brown’s words shared below ring so true for me.  For decades, I “knew” all I needed to do to lose weight and get healthy.  I’d tried so many different paths each one with varying degrees of success.   I “knew” if I could focus on meal prepping consistently with lots of good protein, veggies and little starches it would do the trick.  But “knowing” did nothing for me, because I didn’t want to do meal prep all of the time. I didn’t want to think about food so much. I didn’t really want to do any of the extra stuff I’d need to do.

See the problem wasn’t what I “thought” I knew about food.  The problem wasn’t even what I judged to be laziness about meal prep on my part.   The real problem for my steady, deep decline into the darker places of my health was my emotions.   The depth and breadth of my overwhelm finally took over completely and I used food to mask, soothe, “heal”, reward and deal with all of the pain and stress in my life.

I for sure don’t beat myself up about any of those choices I made as I firmly believe that was doing the best I could throughout it all.  But wowza, am I ever grateful that I am learning to feel my feelings in every given moment, instead of feeding them with foods that leave me feeling worse than I did before I ate them.  It can be a harder road to travel at times, but most of the time it is a freeing, joyous one to journey.  And the reward is spectacular – a body and mind that is free to move through the feelings and not allow them to become barriers to growth.

From the Gifts of Imperfection…

“We know how to eat healthy.  We also know how to make good choices with our money. We know how to take care of our emotional needs. We know all of this, yet…

We are the most obese, medicated, addicted, and in-debt Americans EVER!

Why are we struggling like never before? Because we don’t talk about the things that get in the way of doing what we know is best for us, our children, our families and our communities.

We don’t talk about what keeps us eating until we’re sick, busy beyond human scale, desperate to numb and take the edge off, and full of so much anxiety and self-doubt that we don’t act on what we KNOW is best for us.”

 

YES, YES, YES!!!!!  It is time to ACT!!!

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.