When a shirt is more than just a shirt


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!


Year of the Warrior – Take back my life

I have declared for myself that 2018 is my Year of the Warrior.   It is the year that I don’t allow anything, including my own deep seated fears and BS stories to hold me back. It is the year that I radically, powerfully, joyfully take back my life and reclaim on a daily basis my belief that we can transform our lives in magical ways.

For 3 years, Rachel Platten’s song “Fight Song” has been my theme song.  I’ve written about it. I play it over and over again. I dance to it.  I share it with others who are seeking to come back from something and deeply need to believe in their amazingness.   It touches emotional cords in me that go deeper than even I know.  It calls me to more every single time I listen to it as the words and the music beat deep into my heart.

Tonight, as I ran on the treadmill I listened to Fight Song for my cool down as I’ve done for the past 4 days.  It is the song I need to listen to as the reminder that I AM A WARRIOR, passionately ready to release the phoenix who has slowly been rising from the ashes of my life over the past few years.   As I walked through my final minutes on the treadmill tonight, listening to Fight Song I felt like the drum was trying to pound directly into my soul.  Tears bubbled up and out as the refrain moved me stronger than ever before.

“This is MY fight song. Take back my life song. Prove I’m alright song.  My power’s turned on, starting right now I’ll be strong. I’ll play MY fight song and I don’t care if nobody else believes because I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me.”  

YES, YES, YES!  My year of the Warrior is this.  Being a Warrior is being ME as authentically as I can possible be. Being a Warrior means following my heart, my path.   Being a Warrior means being strong in MY power that is most definitely turned on.  Being a Warrior means acknowledging my fears and doing it anyway.  Being a Warrior means inviting others who are ready to journey with me to feel the magic of their own journeys.  Being a Warrior means saying yes and trusting that as long as I listen to my intuition and take action the path will open up before me.  Being a Warrior means believing in me and what I feel called to do even if it seems no one else does.  Being a Warrior means I will follow my heart and my path which means sharing my wisdom journey with the world.

NOW is the time for me to finally, joyfully take action on all of the hundreds of things that have been stirring inside for me the past several years.  As much as I may have wanted for these to come to be much sooner than now, I really wasn’t ready.  But I am NOW!  As I walk the land of Avalon, I can feel the magic of that land stirring again in ways it hasn’t been able to for probably 4 years.  Oh, magical things have still been happening because it is an amazing place, people and creatures.  But there is a magic that pulses through the land that I haven’t felt as deeply.  Until recently!

As I declare myself a Warrior for love, peace and joy I can hear the land of Avalon sing again.  It is as if the very land drums in beat to the new rhythm that is coming singing up from inside of me.  New life is pulsing through me and in turn new life is pulsing throughout all the areas of my life.   As I plan the upcoming “I am a Warrior” retreats, there is so much awakening inside of me.   I want to share the wisdom that has come to me as I have traveled in the shadow places between the light and the dark.  I want to help others find the Warrior residing inside of them who is wanting to give them the power to be strong and find joy.  And this is only the beginning!

“There’s a fire burning in my bones, still believe, yeah I still believe.”

Daily I am taking back my life and allowing life to take me back.   My commitment to living an entire year (and probably way more) with the mindset of a Warrior is exciting.   I feel the fire burning inside of me as my entire being is lit up ready to live and love with joy!



Spring in winter

spring2     Winter – Day 66/89

Today feels so much like spring I am having a challenging time wrapping my brain around the fact that it’s February. It feels like the end of April. With flowers blooming it looks like it too.

As I wandered my property with Rue and Hinata today I was reminded of the first day we saw this place. I remembered that it was on the Spring Equinox 13 years ago. I’d seen the ad for this place for several months but never thought to go check it out. I’d looked up where it was and the fact that it’s on the same road as PT’s (a strip club) kept me from looking. Plus the thought of prepping a house to sell with 3 kids under 6 was wayyyy too daunting.


That Spring Equinox the kids and I were returning from the zoo and I thought “what the heck, let’s just drive by and see. The price is too right to at least not check it out.” The house had little appeal for me, but I instantly fell in love with the land itself. You can’t see the house from the road and it’s like being in our own little valley. The daffodils were blooming along the walkway, the grass was green and the giant tree in the back yard (my first magic tree) was amazing. I knew we had to come back with Russell and check it out, which we did a few days later. It was a done deal after that.

I’m very thankful for these memories today of other Spring Equinoxes I have loved. With that being the anniversary date of Russell’s death now there’s a sadness in looking towards the first day of spring. I am grateful to my core for memories of joy and for the incredible blessing of having days like today in the middle of winter.



Halfway Point


Winter – Day 45/89

We’ve done it folks! We’ve made it halfway through winter. Today, Imbolc, marks the halfway point between winter and spring.

Now is the time to dig deep and believe that we can make it all the way through. Holding onto the hope for spring while allowing the beauties of winter to still gift us can be a challenging thing for many of us. At least, I know it often is for me.

The first half of winter I can usually stay pretty positive with myself and with others. But then we hit February and I start to slip and slide into the more negative places of myself. Oh, I keep trying to stay positive but I find myself getting pissier and more desiring hibernation as winter progresses.

Last winter and this winter, with the added reality of grieving Russell, the pissiness is really more of a bone deep weariness and a lethargy that is very hard to shake. This morning I didn’t even want to go to archery and this has been my new found joy. We went anyway with me pushing myself to not give into the weariness. the first half of our time was okay. I didn’t feel as excited as I have but I intentionally channeled all of the sadness, weariness, angst, and powerlessness I’ve been feeling into each shot. I focused on breathing deep, standing tall and just shooting my arrows.

Then halfway through just as Demetri and I were about ready to stop shooting, I got to shoot at balloons. The first time I hit one it felt like a jolt of energy shot through me as the balloon popped. It woke me up and infused delight through my entire body. I felt the excitement for this new joy arise in me again as I shot 3 more balloons. I felt all my swirly, weary emotions drain away as I laughed each time I hit a balloon.

The rest of the day I’ve felt lighter and more ready to keep on moving forward. And I bought some balloons to use as targets at archery from here on out. If popping some balloons with arrows can create such a charge for me I think I need to go shoot arrows as often as I can.

At this halfway point in winter what might your balloons be? What can keep you moving forward this winter and give you the extra charge you need to stay energized?

We’ve got this people! WE CAN DO IT!

#embracingwinter #warriorwomanseekingjoy
#halfwaytospring #archeryrules

Warrior Woman Seeking Joy


2017 is the year of this Warrior Woman Seeking Joy!  This focus, this intent, the idea of what this could look like for me is the only thing that is waking me up and causing me to actually want to leave the warm safe shell that has formed around myself in the past year or so.  And for the first time in weeks something has excited me enough to want to write again.  The relief of that is huge!

This second year of living without Russell has kicked my ass.  That really is the most honest way to put it.  The first year was hard but this second year has been so subtly challenging that it’s only been in the past month and a half or so that I’ve been able to get a handle on what all has been happening for me.  I’ve tried many, many times to write about it either as a blog post or even just in my journal but the words just keep flitting away from me like those no-see-um gnats in the summer. You know there is something there annoying you but you just can’t see it to get rid of it.  So there is a constant irritation that you can’t get away from.

One of the most challenging things of this second year has been that some of the things I used to love the most – horses, dancing, teaching, spending time just talking with people – no longer energize or even interest me enough to want me to actually leave my house.    It’s made living the life I have chosen seem empty and rudderless. My go-to things that used to leave me feeling happy and confident just don’t anymore; more often I just feel “meh” or very sad missing the joy I used to feel. Not a very fun thing to feel everyday.

Someday soon, I think, I will write more about this second year and the insights about it I am growing into.  But today is about what it means to me to become a Warrior Woman Seeking Joy.    It means finding those things that grab my interest and hold it for longer than a few seconds.  It means seeking the things that leave me excited enough to readily say yes to leaving my house.  It means doing things that leave me feeling powerful, strong and capable of anything.  It means breaking out of my “always done and loved” into “now I do and love” activities. It means digging deep, listening to my inner self, and trying new things or sometimes old things in a new way.  It means saying yes to breaking out of my shell and living deeply again.

This morning I tried something brand new. Soren, Demetri and I started archery classes.  They have both been wanting to take archery for a few years but we just never quite pulled it together with a time that works.  I got hooked on the idea a few months ago when I saw video of a woman who does archery from horseback.  The horse looks like Karoly and I could immediately envision myself someday doing that.  It began the awakening thought of becoming this wild, free Warrior Woman.

The glee that I had during archery this morning was amazing.  I was so excited I kept rambling about my excitement to our instructor, Jack. He just smiled, along with Soren and Demetri, and would tell me a few more stories.  When Jack told all 3 of us that we were doing much better than the average beginners I felt like a kid who had just gotten a gold star.  And the two times I got a bulls-eye I whooped so loudly I startled everyone.


My inner Warrior Woman Seeking Joy gave a resounding YES today. Archery will definitely be one of the regular things I add into my schedule.  All day I have felt lighter, stronger, more awake and those are glorious things for me to feel again.  Demetri and Soren expressed similar feelings which simply adds to my joy that all 3 of us have found something fun and new to share.

While I hope to find renewed joy for the things that I’ve always loved, I am most hopeful that I will continue to seek new, interesting things to continue my awakening, my emergence from my protective shell.  Already other ideas are popping into my head of things to try. I am committed to listening to what feels right for me, doing it even if I must do it alone. I want to feel strong, purposeful, brave, and able to handle anything.  I want to let go of the lethargic, sad, rudderless feelings that have wrapped around me for far too long.

Most of all,  I want to become a joy-filled woman who is a warrior for healing herself and the world.  I want to be a wild woman who brings wonder and happiness to those around her.  I want to free my muse to write with power and vulnerability again. I want to live as a Warrior Woman Seeking Joy who lets nothing and no one stop her from living a powerfully authentic, joy-filled life.

2017 here I come!

archery 2.jpg

Project Seeking JOY

There is much swirling around inside of me this week and many musings that I am writing in my journal to be shared on my blog soon.  But this one that I started on Thanksgiving in the early morning hours, reflecting upon the trip to Mizzou with Walter, my daughter’s horse, the day before and all of the crashing into the dark places I went that day.    Since much of this musing is connected in with things I want to and need to reclaim for myself at Avalon I wanted to share it with all of you first.
THIS – Project Seeking JOY! This is one of the bits of wisdom that flitted into my being last night as I drove home from the farm after getting Walter settled back in. In the quiet of my truck I heard this quiet, yet very confident whisper “Your next focus is to reclaim JOY – joy of horses, joy of the land of Avalon you’ve been entrusted with, joy of play, joy of living. This will be your new fight song, your reclaiming of a power that is unique to you alone. Joy in all of the little ways it can lighten our hearts; seek this again.”
I felt my body breathe a sigh of relief as I imagined just sitting with the horses again, grooming them, breathing in their smell that I love so much, remembering the joyfulness of horses not just the heartaches, taking Karoly or Magic for walks to the pond, walking with my Tara, Willow, and Hinata through the woods, sitting under our Magic tree to just be (and now in the Sanctuary room), playing with the kids and teens in my life in all the silly ways I used to do; and profoundly playing my way back to a joy for life that I miss.  Choosing ways to play first!
I can feel the YESNESS of this welling up inside of me as I write.  The picture I shared here is one of those wonderful moments of JOY – barefoot, bareheaded, riding bareback on Karoly with one of my wonderful dogs by my side.  Ah yes and the sun is shining, and I had just finished swimming with Karoly in the pond.   JOY!
I’ve become so very bogged down in the tasks of my life – chores, work, business planning, helping the kids find their way forward on new paths – that it’s become easy for me to forget the great JOY available to me everyday. This is especially true at Avalon.  As has always been and always will be true there is way more to do each day than any of could ever possibly get done. Projects, events, coordinating lessons, teaching, farm work, problem solving, on and on and on.   Yes all of these things are important things but it is easy to lose the joy, the pure, unadulterated JOY for the horses I’ve known all my life in this.
So I am taking steps forward to SEEK JOY.  All of the extra horsey things at Avalon – sunrise rides, parades, full moon rides, drill team, just hanging with my horses, finger painting Karoly, brushing a horse – these are the things that bring that sweet, innocent, playful joy of horses to me.  I think this is probably true for most of us and that each of us could stand to remember that doing the playful things together and with our horses helps us remember why we want to do what we do.
Saturday we will ride at sunrise. Yes it will be EARLY and it will probably feel cold too.  But it is one of the most magical things to ride a horse as the sun comes up, feeling the heat of their bodies warming your legs.  And wow does the hot chocolate taste even better after we’re done.
I will be seeking many, many ways to play more paying attention to the kids in my life to help remind me of what I want to bring forth into my life.  I will be inviting anyone and everyone to come along with me as I seek ways to play again and experience joy in my life.  I will be seeking ways at Avalon and outside of it to just be silly and have fun.  It sure can make all of the work a whole lot easier to deal with if I play first.
So if you’re ready to play more, to lighten your heart and breathe a little easier join me in Project Seeking JOY!  It might make winter a whole lot more fun.

Flying to Wonderland


If someone came to me inviting me to race dragons in the moonlight I would laugh with glee and race out the door ready to fly away.  I would barely stop to take a breath before jumping onto a dragon’s back.  Oh the wonder and joy at just the thought of this!

Dragons and imagining them as real is part of Wonderland for me – the place where all things of joy, hope, peace and wonder are possible.  Wonderland is the place of dreams come to life.  It is the magical place of walking, and flying, as a whole, healed person.

Wonderland is the opposite of Cuckoo Luckoo Land. Cuckoo Luckoo land is the place of dark and twisted paths. It is the place I dropped into when Russell entered the hospital and still travel into at times as I heal from his death.  In Cuckoo Luckoo Land up is down, in is out, left is right, nothing is as it should be.  There is much wisdom to be gained while traveling in this place but the drops into it are truly like stepping into a rabbit hole and sliding down a windy slide with the speed of light.

Wonderland is the place of light, open skies, peaceful winds and freedom.  Just today in reading this lovely dream of a picture I have named that place I go inside myself where I feel at peace and feel ready to fly on a dragon.  Wonderland it is; the place where I believe dragons are real and I picture myself riding one to healing. All things are possible here and I believe that I can transform my life into one of Joy. Ahhh Wonderland.

I’m going to play with creating a picture board of what Wonderland looks like to me, calling in all of the magic of that place to me.  I want to invoke the light, laughter, love, healing and joy I imagine as I picture myself flying on my dragon under the moonlight.  I may also as I play with what the wisdom of Wonderland holds for me create another board revealing what Cuckoo Luckoo Land means to me.  There is wisdom in the dark paths I travel when I am there.

I cannot, in all honesty, have one without the other.  They are both part of my dance; the light and the dark, the grieving and the healing.  For tonight, I will go to sleep dreaming of someone coming in the moonlight with my dragon.  Oh do I want to fly to Wonderland!