BOLD Living at 49

My friend Cindy says May is the Month of Mayhem. She makes a good point, what with the end of school, graduations, birthdays and barbecues galore, and so many charity runs and events. It’s no wonder May flies by, and that so many of us find ourselves spinning and flitting from one thing to the next.

Something unusual happened to me this May. I paused.

Blame — or rather bless — the rain. According to the team at Weather5280, Denver saw nearly 21 consecutive days of precipitation. And still coming. All this rain has slowed me down, which means that I actually took time to reflect on turning a year older. I celebrated on May 7 and as a gift to myself — and you — I offer insights and strategies about BOLD Living at 49. Why BOLD Living? Well, why not? Life’s richer when you write the story you want to live.

1) Be right where you are. You are enough.

2) Self-effacement is attractive; belittling yourself isn’t.

3) Whatever it takes… rid yourself of shame. Use a sledgehammer if you must.

4) Strive for transparency.

5) Two pounds lost. Three pounds gained. It’s a wash.

6) Find something to be passionate about, real or imagined.

7) Know that catastrophizing only leads to despair.

8) You can’t will things to happen — or not. You just aren’t that powerful.

9) People are quirky. So are you.

10) Assume the best. If you’re wrong, you’ll know it soon enough.

11) To be alive is to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be alive. You can’t have one without the other.

12) Beauty has many forms. What you deem as beautiful is largely up to you.

13) Embrace the gray of everyday life — the joy and sorrow, good and bad, painless and complicated, all at once.

14) Sitting with uncertainty helps you see more clearly.

15) Piles of laundry only accumulate.

16) The shower door won’t get repaired until you make the call.

17) There will always be errands. That’s life.

18) Realize the impossibility of getting “everything” done.

19) Go ahead and take an afternoon nap.

20) Consciously try to break routine if you feel stuck.

21) Change your environment every so often, even for an afternoon.

22) Try your hand at something new — like building a bookcase, learning Spanish, or baking pie.

23) Reward yourself with a metaphorical cookie every day. Acts of kindness are cumulative.

24) Focus on doing one thing well rather than ten things poorly.

25) A scattered life is a scattered mind.

26) Dismantle your fears. You will feel braver.

27) Money matters but you can also find happiness on top of a mountain.

28) Your children are not you. Let go of those expectations.

29) Too much of anything is too much.

30) Stretching’s a pain, but your body will thank you.

31) Have the humility to know what you’re good at and what you ought to delegate.

32) Asking for help could be the most powerful gift you can give yourself.

33) Be a voracious learner — of knowledge and life.

34) Define achievement for yourself. What does it really look like?

35) Disengage from all media at least once a day. You wired mind needs a break.

36) You don’t have to be an extrovert but watch what happens when you smile at others.

37) Rushing almost always leads to mishaps.

38) Try to distill your racing mind.

39) Angst will strangle you if you don’t face it.

40) Feelings can be overpowering but only if they’re facts.

41) If you look hard enough you’ll always find gripes.

42) So much better to see the good around you. Chances are it’s right under your nose.

43) Abe Lincoln was spot on: “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

44) Make the time to connect with those you love.

45) Do one BOLD thing each week. A phone call. An outing. A passion fulfilled.

46) See your life as a prism of possibility.

47) Commit to movement.

48) Don’t stand in the way of your own success.

49) Ask yourself, If not now… when?

What are you waiting for? Join me in a year of BOLD Living. And do write to share what you’re learning along the way.

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Own Your Energy

You know how it is. A new year comes and with it, a surge of resolutions and goals.

We mean well. We do.

Perhaps for the first few weeks of January we find ourselves to be unusually productive: we purge old files, motivated to fill the space with new leads; we mark up day planners in different colored pens; we make all-important networking calls, the ones we managed to postpone for months; we sign up to attend professional development events and then studiously follow-up with new colleagues via email.

It all feels energizing until it doesn’t.

With the best of intentions the energy many of us want to bring to the new year cannot be sustained.

Fast and furious is never the way.

”Slow but steady wins the race,” wrote Aesop, the Greek storyteller, sometime between 620 BC-560 BC.

This is wisdom that holds true with modern times and yet how many of us really heed it? Unless you live in a rural community, contemporary society pushes you to move quicker. Technology is immediate. Why wait for anything? A handwritten note; when’s the last time you wrote or received one from a dear friend? These are the days of instant gratification, and I fear for my own children, that such expectations will only lead to disappointment and burn-out and fractured thinking. It’s no wonder, I think, that ADHD had become so prevalent. Haven’t we all become a bit ADHD in our approach to living?

All week I wrestled with wanting to do more. Sure I crossed things off my list, but I could not muster the energy to tackle some of the bigger to-do’s. There’s really no explanation but lack of energy. Such feelings peaked midweek; I would have preferred to nap and read in bed all day, but lucky for me I had a long-scheduled therapy appointment.

On and on I spoke to my therapist about the swirl of things to do–digging deep into a new book project; necessary sales and marketing for Both Sides Now (tall tasks I really wish someone else would do but obviously cannot); freelance work on a first-time author’s book and new website for single moms; securing new speaking engagements; and more.

I couldn’t help but notice the way I slouched deeper into the sofa. My therapist noticed, too.

“Nancy,” she said calmly, “you must own your energy.”

It was a curious comment so I asked if she would elaborate. Here’s the distilled version:

  • You must ask for what you want from people.
  • Do not dilute your energies.
  • Own what it is that you want to be in the world.

No surprise I left her office feeling lighter. We solved a few nagging issues, devised a priority game-plan, and off I went feeling cleansed and centered.

The rest of the day and throughout the night I found myself repeating her words “Own Your Energy.”

When I woke the next morning the most beautiful sunrise greeted me (it’s pictured here). How good it felt to just look out the window and watch a panoply of pink, purple, blue and gold fill the sky. Life stands still at such moments, and it’s here, looking out at the world where all the hope and yearning inside of us rises to meet the day.

Own your energy. It’s yours to claim.

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Thanksgiving and Awakenings

Painful lessons often yield great blessings. At no time do we feel this more acutely than the holidays.

In 2009, Toti Cadavid, born in Columbia and a longtime resident of Lone, Tree, CO, almost lost her life on Thanksgiving Day. She and her husband Luis and two of their children were in Puerto Rico visiting Luis’ family. On Thanksgiving eve the couple had a joyous dinner with childhood friends, laughing and reminiscing as only old friends can do. When it was time to leave, the streets were very dark and the rain was unrelenting. Luis, who was raised in Puerto Rico and accustomed to driving in heavy rain, drove carefully but still the car skid on a turn and they slammed into the side of a mountain. Hard. So hard that a protruding rock punctured the passenger side floor, stopping the car’s trajectory but pushing the tire inside of the car, instantly crushing Toti’s leg. Luis was bleeding. Yet by the grace of God, they were alive and able to leave the hospital on Thanksgiving afternoon. Toti had a broken foot and severely sprained neck, and both she and Luis were bruised and cut and badly shaken, but that day they feasted on life.

Immediately, on a very deep level, Toti realized that the accident was the awakening she needed to change her life.

By now she’d spent half her career in corporate America working in international marketing and traveling the world. Early on it was glamorous, but the allure faded over time while trying to balance the responsibilities of children, marriage, and real life. “I got to the office at 7 a.m. and felt guilty when I left at 7 p.m.,” she says.

Thinking that the entrepreneurial path would offer her better work-life balance, Toti started Xcelente Marketing, a Hispanic marketing and public relations outfit. Success came quickly but here again Toti found herself falling into old behaviors, and this time, working late nights and weekends from home.

“This was the way I thought it was supposed to be,” she says. “I was raised with high expectations for myself.” Indeed. Toti holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business, a masters’ degree in Marketing, another master’s degree in Management & Organizational Development, and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship, all from the University of Colorado. She’s also a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government Executive Management Program and the Dartmouth University Tuck Minority Business Executive Program.

Still, after the accident, Toti was filled with questions..Did I even like marketing anymore? What did I really want to do in my life? What needs to change? 

She immersed herself in Landmark and classes in Neuro Linguistics Programming. She saw Executive Coaches and began to devour self-help books about finding happiness. “The more I learned, the more I couldn’t figure out how a well educated person like me could be so ignorant about life.”

The questions kept coming until finally Toti discovered that searching for her purpose was the answer.. She would use her own life experience and business skills to help other women awaken to their dreams and find success based upon their passions versus societal expectations. Toti became a transformational coach and founded Ufulfilled. She’s off and running with her new company, but this time, with a very different mindset. “I’m present today, present to myself and present for my family,” says Toti. “Now I understand that happiness emanates from the inside and is possible for everyone.”

It’s never too late to change old ways. This hard-won wisdom has transformed Toti’s relationships with her family, particularly her oldest son Nicholas, 23, who has primordial dwarfism. “I used to think Nicholas happened to me. Now I know that he happened for me.” Which is to say that today she sees Nicholas, with his supremely positive and happy disposition at little more than three feet tall, as a towering gift.

This Thanksgiving marks the fifth anniversary since Toti and Luis’s accident. A milestone. As the family shares a quiet, heartfelt dinner with dear friends they will feast on the American fixings like Turkey and stuffing but “Latinize” it with Tres Leches cake and Vanela Flan. The blessings are abundant.

Be present and mindful this Thanksgiving of all that you have and all that stands in your way. We don’t need an accident like the one that Toti had to move her life in the direction she wanted.

Awaken yourself.

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In Light of Brittany Maynard’s Death, Go Where You Need To Go

For weeks now the world has followed Brittany Maynard’s story of life and death. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of right-to-die, there is much to be learned from this young woman’s passion for living. By facing her own imminent mortality, Brittany Maynard gave herself and her family the gift of living. She did so by making the quality of her days count. Each minute. Each hour. Each day. She traveled and read and triumphantly lived her bucket list, all with a clear mind and open heart. She loved her husband. Her dogs. Her family. Her friends. She loved the world and was brave enough to accept that while she did not want to die, she would in fact die within months from the incurable tumor that had lodged inside her brain.

We go where we need to go. For Brittany Maynard, that meant choosing to end her life while she was still mentally and physically able. For others, including my first husband Brett, who died of a different kind of brain tumor (a medulloblastoma) in 2004, this meant fighting until the last true moment. That moment came nearly six and a half years after his diagnosis when a grand mal seizure landed him in the hospital for several days. He’d had it all—surgeries chemotherapy, radiation, gamma knife, an Ommaya reservoir, palliative care, you name it. By now his bucket list was simple: he wanted only to go to work each day so that he might continue providing for his young wife and toddler children.

But there would be no more going to work for Brett because now he was falling against the walls in our New York City apartment even with his cane. So what did he do? He picked up his briefcase and imagined working from home.

We battled over Brett’s desire for normalcy because it clouded reality. He was a dying man and couldn’t he please just stop and spend whatever time left being wholly present to his life and death. Couldn’t we please just acknowledge our fears as husband and wife and parents? Couldn’t we please have the conversations about where he wanted to die and what kind of funeral he wanted and where he wanted to be buried?

You see, I’d already buried him hundreds of times in my head, a natural response to premature anticipatory grief, so, really, couldn’t we just have these end of life discussions? As it happened, we spoke none of this…even though Brett did manage to do the toughest thing of all, to write a letter to our twins.

Brett died at Calvary Hospice in February 2004 in a script I would never have written.

“I don’t remember all the tiny moments of that day, or how it came to be that a crowd of seventeen shared your death…At the time, it felt wrong, the idea of all these people witnessing such an intimate moment…They circled us like a halo, the force of their gentle chant building. ‘Let go. Let go. Let go.’ The room quieted…’Let go, let go, the chorus of angels began again, softer now. ‘Let go.’ You died in my arms at 4:45 p.m…Some time passed. I can’t say how long but when I looked up from the bed I thought I saw a shaft of window light fall upon the room.”

Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living

 

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I am of the belief that there is no right and wrong when dealing with a terminal illness. Who are we to judge another’s decision unless we walk in their shoes?

We go where we need to go. I didn’t learn this lesson until long after Brett died. This is why I’m so struck by Brittany Maynard’s courage. Because she was able to give voice to her fears in ways I couldn’t have pictured my young self doing. Which in no way casts blame or shame on Brett or me; we managed as best we could, and in the years since Brett’s death, I have worked hard to integrate the whole of my fractured story into one.

My own experience has taught me that we have to be brave enough to face uncertainty and adversity, and to hold all the dualities of joy and sorrow, health and illness, past and present, and life and death together. Anyone who has faced loss – which is everyone – understands that all these paradoxes co-mingle.

We have to be brave enough to have tough conversations, and to put ourselves on the path of living every day.

This I know: the best way to memorialize a loved is to choose life. In the light of Brittany Maynard’s death, live bold. Write the narrative you want to live for today. And please, please live it well.

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Write The Story You Want to Live

As silly as it sounds, there was a time in my life when my shadow became a kind of guardian angel, a surprising friend in what can sometimes be the loneliest of places: New York City. I was a young 20-something working hard to build my career in public relations. Dressed as fashionably as my budget allowed, I’d swing a leather tote and click my cheap heels, admiring the long shadow cast and the way the sunlight warmed me.

My “shadow friend” remained by my side, joining me in corporate meeting rooms and later on humanitarian trips with UNICEF to El Salvador, Haiti, Sarajevo and elsewhere. It escorted me to social outings with old and new friends, and it was right there when I married a boy named Brett from a neighboring town in Connecticut where I’d grown up.

I can pinpoint the moment everything changed. It was when Brett was diagnosed with brain cancer only four years into our married lives. From then on, the light of my shadow fell away; I had lost a sense of self. While no one could predict the path Brett’s cancer would take, all hope and trust and safety in the world felt eclipsed.

Life would take many turns for us over the next seven years (and not all of them bad in spite of my initial terror). As the patient, Brett did all he could to separate himself from his disease. He fought like hell in the chemo clinic and after radiation and surgeries so that he did not have to identify with being a cancer patient. Never did he broadcast his cancer. It was exactly the opposite: he did everything he could to avoid talking about it.

We go where we need to go. Retaining emotional distance was necessary for Brett, but I have an equally brave friend fighting cancer today who shares her setbacks and gains on Facebook many times a week, sometimes twice a day. Members of Christy Bailey’s Facebook Fan Club know when she’s strong enough to go on a hike and when her oncologist gives her a pep talk that the malignant pleural effusion she has isn’t the death sentence she fears it might be. In this way, Christy feels less alone and more supported by the web of friends who would love her to wellness if only we could.

My own style as a cancer caregiver was somewhere in between Brett and Christy’s. Being told your husband had a terminal disease at age 30 meant that fear was always lurking, even if left unsaid. I couldn’t NOT talk about it even though asking for help made me cringe, especially when we were beyond crisis mode, when life simply moved to its altered beat.

“And now that the emergencies were behind us, there was only the numbing sensation of trauma and real life. I wanted you home with me because your very presence reassured me. Instead, I lay in bed and stared mindlessly into your cedar closet. You’d left the door open. Your business shirts lined the front pole, and you kept a full jar of spare change on the top shelf… Eventually, yes, I started my pajama-clad morning from the tiny, makeshift office at the back of our dining room. I sipped my coffee, and began, like always, by looking out the window. In such empty moments, I found that I could separate from your cancer. I gazed at the cracked concrete of the building adjacent to ours. Its imperfections soothed me.” From Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living.

I used to believe that all stories had a beginning, middle and end. Brett died in February of 2004, just shy of his fortieth birthday. I was thirty-seven, and our twins were two and a half years old. While in the most obvious of ways, Brett’s death was a finite end; it would take several years for me to realize not only that the three of us could make a pleasing new life, but that doing so meant rewriting our story. That was the hard part.

For reasons I have yet to fully understand, I wore widowhood like an unsightly blemish. I’m embarrassed by the intensity of my feelings, but that is how I felt. Marked. Tarnished. Out of sync.

Tell me about yourself.

“I’m Nancy Sharp. I’m widowed.”

Imagine. These are the first words I used to introduce myself in any business or social situation. It was less of an apology than a justification for living. Shame is toxic however you view it.

Who was I anymore?

I let “I’m widowed” define me, choosing to ignore all the other parts that made me whole—as mother, daughter, friend, writer, lover of good food, spiritual seeker and the kind of reader who dreams of a week alone on the beach with nothing but books for entertainment. Even after the twins and I left Manhattan for the open skies of Denver in 2006, this was the story I told my new community: “I’m widowed.”

It wasn’t until my second year in Colorado that the story line shifted. I was taking a Kabbalah class and the instructor asked us to introduce ourselves the way we might at a party. I began…“I’m Nancy Sharp. I’m widowed.” This time I stopped myself.

What am I saying?

The tears came fast and were pooled with shame. I had come to this painful truth on my own. How could I possibly make a new life for myself and my children in Denver when I was still tethered to the old story. Now the risks were even higher because I’d begun to seriously date a TV news anchor who also happened to be widowed with two children. Was it even conceivable for us to be together if I was still stuck in the past?

From then on, I began to reframe my story. I simply stopped mentioning the “W” word. I didn’t go out of my way to avoid such talk; I simply chose not to focus on it. I chose to talk about my writing and my children and how much fun I was having in Denver fixing toilets, learning to tell a weed from a flower and grilling chicken kabobs—things I never did during the previous eighteen years in Manhattan. When I slipped and reverted to the old story line, I corrected myself and moved on.

Armed with a more realistic view of myself, I suddenly had a lot more clarity about life. I saw the real possibilities before me in Denver and how I could own my story without letting it define me. Only then did the inner turmoil calm. Only then could I take a chance on Steve, a man whose life had also been torn by loss. Certainly it was complicated. But that’s life. By saying yes to Steve, I said yes to the boys from his first marriage just as he said yes to my twins. We had no choice but to blend past and present. Six years later, our story is still being written. Every day

Is there even one degree of separation between those whose lives have been touched by cancer and those who remain unscathed today? I doubt it.

For the 1.6 million people in the U.S. alone who will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014, do not let cancer become your life narrative.

For the millions of cancer survivors, keep moving forward, living strong and bold.

For all those caregivers and friends who will forever mourn loved ones lost to this disease, hold your memories dear without letting them obscure the present. The best way to memorialize a loved one is to choose life.

Wherever you are, dance to the light of your shadow, and by all means, write the story you want to live.

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Both Sides Now

Many readers know that my book Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living, was published earlier this year. Still…other readers of Vivid Living might only be learning this now because proud as I am of the accomplishment, I have not yet dedicated a single blog post to the book itself. Which begs the question why?

Kind of ridiculous, huh.

Oh, you’ll find fragments and references to Both Sides Now, and certainly, my story and life experience are at the heart of this blog. The quick synopsis for new readers: I gave birth to twins in New York City in 2001 and learned the same day that my husband’s cancer recurred. Everything at once. The book follows the twins and me to Colorado where we started over. Never would I have imagined finding love again in the pages of a Denver magazine, but when you put yourself in the pulse of living amazing, unexpected things happen.

So why haven’t I celebrated the book’s release on Vivid Living? Because I shy away from what I perceive as self-promotion. Take careful note of the phrasing “what I perceive as self-promotion.”

I’m no puritan, but the concept feels wrong to me–and it has for as long as I can remember.

“You’re looking at this the wrong way,” my therapist tells me.”

“Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. What are we going to do with you?” chides a mentor of mine. “If you can’t rightfully acknowledge your book, who will?” (She has a point)

Through their eyes and the broad feedback I’ve received about the book, I see that my decades-old perception is deeply flawed.

I wrote Both Sides Now because I wanted my story and voice to lift others who have experienced loss and hardship. I also want to give hope when hope feels void and truant. This is the real takeaway of the book: that no matter what challenges life presents, you must go forward.

Going forward boldly for me means valuing myself–valuing the way that the book allowed me to integrate the whole of my experience into one, processing in ways that I hadn’t before, and sharing stories with everyday people. No one wants to lose. No one seeks adversity outright. Vulnerability is simply part of the human experience. But so, too, is hope.

So reader, here goes, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. And in the spirit of progress, I’m proud to offer you the gift of bold living that is Both Sides Now.

Do share your stories! They matter.

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They’re Teens!

Holy smokes, the twins are 13. The milestone birthday has them crossing the divide into teendon. MAJOR GULP.

Yes, it really does feel as though we’re entering a new era. They won’t suddenly sprout underarm hair or stubble – no, no, the transition to adolescence, or rather pubescence, will likely be more subtle. Still, the signs are everywhere.

True to the little boy he once was, Casey is ALL TO EAGER to grow up. He’d change time if he could. Right now, his dream is to become a RallyCross racecar driver. Okay, so be it. I’m not putting too much stock into his aspirations just yet, as I hope (and pray) he will discover a world of safer opportunities that equally rouse his passions.  Maybe even a Jennifer Lawrence look-alike (another dream for him). Casey has already tested us with budding hormones. “Mom, what do you expect?” he’ll bellow, shaking his head in a ‘boy are you stupid’ gesture.  “I’m going through puberty!”

The thing is…now that he’s 13, I wonder how long I can get away with my favorite comeback: “likely excuse.”

Rebecca, meanwhile, is far more physically adolescent than her brother,  yet true to her little girl nature, she’d like to stay young forever. I am still the MIP (Most Important Person) in her world. “All I need for my birthday is you,” she tells me tonight. Rebecca’s not the least bit interested in makeup or boys like some of her friends, and that’s just fine for now. She has years and years ahead of her to catch up — or not.

As for me, I’m slow, I think, to grasp the twins’ rate of development. I’m a bit of an innocent (like my daughter) in this regard. I’d rather live the moments with them than read about what to expect.

What I wish for my children’s 13th birthday is a year of self-awareness and advocacy. And I wish them grace amid all the turbulent teenage storms ahead. I wish the same for me.

Any advice?

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WHAT I KNOW AT 48

An old friend called this morning to wish me a happy birthday. “How do you feel at 48?” she wanted to know.

Without pause, I answered ‘I feel both sides now.’

Which is to say I’m more entrenched with my middle years even as I taste the sweetness of my twenties, and the far more bittersweet decade of my thirties. Fifty doesn’t frighten me because at last I’m settling into myself.

What I know at 48 is:

  • It’s good to be wiser, to connect the dots between past and present.
  • Pauses are vital.
  • Dreams are telling. This is as true about the dreams in our sleep as those that occupy us during the day.
  • Vulnerability is part of living.
  • We’re all hardwired differently. Some people laugh more. Others worry. Some people resist change until they have no choice. Others leap.
  • We go where we need to go. What’s right for one person is different for another.
  • Sometimes things just happen.
  • Truly difficult moments, times that feel unbearable, do pass.
  • Perspective is essential.
  • Happiness is contagious.
  • The word perfect should be eliminated from the English language.
  • Taste, touch, feel, smell, hear all that you can. Just not at once.
  • Authenticity is the seed of courage.
  • More often than not, joy and sorrow, loss and gain coexist. Find the middle place.

We needn’t a birthday to remind us of all that we hold dear, the people, ideals, and unique circumstances that make us who we are. Where do you fit in the puzzle of life? Do the pieces align?

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A Life Coach Rekindles His Faith

I was moved to share this post by Gary Hawk, who, along with his wife Cathy, founded Clarity International.  Their company offers business and life coaching that fosters clarity of vision, energy and focus. Cathy and Gary make a powerful duo…which is why Gary’s blog post for Clarity caught my eye. Even life coaches feel vulnerable at times.

Gary writes:

For the past few months, I’ve been dealing with what I have come to call a lack of faith. It’s a lack of faith in my ability to actually improve my approach to life by changing my thoughts. By wallowing in this ineffective thinking, I end up doing my spiritual practices by rote – practicing my thought changing rituals by habit and not consciously bringing them into my body and soul. It’s difficult to be present in the moment when my mind is swirling in doubt that it will work.

Then, because of my doubting anything will work, I quit doing the things that have worked for me in the past. This lack of discipline and dedication conspires with my lack of faith and the downward spiral feeds on itself.

I’m becoming one of those people I’ve always viewed with a high degree of skepticism. Teachers who, in effect, say “do as I say, not as I do.” Teachers who understand the spiritual and scientific truths intellectually but never apply them internally in their own life. They know the talk very well but don’t walk it. It’s obvious in how they treat people and how they respond to life.

Even as I experience this lack of faith that conscious thought focus will bring my energy back, I have “muscle memory” that this focus has improved my life and attitude tremendously for the past 20 years.

And, I continually hear and observe what happens with our clients when they focus on what lights them up; when they use the tools, rituals and concepts to generate vitality in their lives. As Cathy says, we get to participate in others’ holy moments.

To help get my faith mojo back, Cathy and I decided to be students of another teacher. We are participating in a Course of Miracles class with Tama Kieves (another lawyer who became a spiritual teacher). The very first night, she said three things that hit home for me:


“Every teacher has a lot of work to do.”
“Seek not to change the world but change your mind about the world”
“When you use it, it works and that builds faith.”

I’m beginning to work my way back. Knowing that the more I focus on doubting myself, the more pronounced the doubt becomes, I’m shifting the focus to trust and curiosity. I’m staying curious about what new creative endeavors will renew my spirit. More importantly, I’m trusting that all of the work I’ve done and the spirit lifting truths I believe in will support my energy as I move through this confusion. This will help me get back to a dedicated and disciplined practice of above-the-line thinking.

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I gleaned enormous wisdom and humanity from Gary’s column. Hope you do as well.

Keep the faith.

 

 

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His Name is Levi

It’s been one week since we welcomed the newest addition to our family — Levi Saunders. He’s a squirmy, six-pound Havanese puppy who has a face that can melt even the hardest of stares. Not that anyone’s face is hard here. We’re all gushing with love and tenderness, even amid the new responsibilities and schedule.

My son Casey has been asking for a dog since he was six years old. Well, at first he wanted a baby brother but there was no negotiating there. “That’s not happening for all sorts of reasons,” I’d tell him. “Well how about a puppy then?” I ought to have realized then that the kid had a real knack for negotiation.

“Maybe.”

Maybe was the truest answer I could offer.

What I didn’t let on was my fear over loving and someday losing again. Loss of a pet is not the same as loss of a husband or father. Still, I resisted for several years, not able to bear the risk and hurt for myself or my children. I rationalized all of this because Casey and his twin sister Rebecca were young; let’s wait until you’re older, maybe 12.

And so it was in their 12th year that I followed through. The twins are better able to help care for a dog now and it isn’t just the three of us any longer.  We’re settled now. Readers know that I remarried in 2008 and that Steve and I have blended our families. Levi is the love puppy our union has produced. Everyone helps. And the love we feel is greater because it is shared.

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A new friend and I were talking about all of this over breakfast the other morning. She, too, lost her husband at a young age. At the time, her children were 12 and 14. The couple had a dog but he was sick and died soon after the husband’s tragic ski accident. My friend did the exact opposite thing I did. Right away she got another dog. And then when that dog died, another.

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There is no right or wrong. We go where we need to go.

I’m so happy and grateful that Levi is part of our lives today. In ways that have surprised me, he removes the sting of past losses, keeping us grounded to the present.

Speaking of…gotta run. Levi’s chewing my shoe.

 

Posted in Featured, Gratitude, Loss, love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment