queen of sheba

We live in a shiny world.

There’s a whole lot of bling and bright lights and stages and soap-boxes. There are folks that everybody knows and whose voices are louder and whose connections are deeper and who wind up all superfabulous in the spotlight. There are people who get a lot of love for something wonderful they’ve accomplished or for their brilliant ideas or for their athletic talent. In some cases, this is good stuff; I’m all about sending emotional bling to the Desmond Tutus of the world! (In some cases, this is not so good; I mean, really, why so much attention for the Kardashian sisters?)

It’s easy to admire those that have light shining on them.

Today, however, is all about sending a shout-out to all the people in the world who do amazing things, every single day, and never get the shine.

It’s about spreading a little bit of that light to the custodian at school whose day begins as mine is ending, who cleans up after hundreds of teenagers with a wide grin on his face and remembers everyone’s birthday. To the security guard in my building who works two jobs to pay for his wife’s medical bills and gives me a hard time about basketball. To my student who, even though the spotlight tries to shine on him, finds ways to focus the light on his teammates. To my dear friend who left a comfortable job to take on a crazy challenge at a new school with no resources, who is making significant change in the lives of the kids she is working with and still manages to go home and be a mom to three little hooligans all while going to school at night. To my dad who is simply kind, all of the time, to everyone he meets.

These people don’t do what they do because they want to be acknowledged. They are rocking out and changing the world with their integrity because it’s just who they are. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be acknowledged; some recognition might feel good and encourage them to be even kinder, even more industrious, even more real. And how great would the world be if the great ones became even greater?!

Part of what makes them so great is that they don’t realize how great they really are.

Shiny bling is cool! But all of the humble-rockstars in the shadows? Now, they are the truly fabulous and spotlight-worthy.

Today, remember to snuggle the people who do it all for the love.

ms. fat booty

I need a personal drill-sergeant.

I need a relentless voice who will reach through my alarm clock, shake me awake and stay up in my face until I take some serious action.

Two mornings in a row I have set my alarm for 5:30 with the great intention of waking up, working out and feeling like a fabulous hot mama for the rest of the day. Instead, for two mornings in a row, I have hit the snoozer every ten minutes for an hour and spent the rest of the day cursing myself for being a lazy sloth.

Years ago, without a drill-sergeant, I hiked in high altitudes to Machu Picchu for hours and hours, steep mountain passes and treacherous down-hill climbs, all the while marveling at how incredible it was that my body could do this, that my body had brought me to such a beautiful place. Maybe it was altitude-delirium, but I remember being able to see myself, as if I was outside of my own body, hiking along a narrow pass, in total awe that the person doing this was me: complete mind-body-spirit balance-bliss.

The whole mind-body-spirit thing is completely out of whack for me right now.

I take care of my spirit like it’s my job: I surround myself with great people, I rest when I need to, I write, I meditate, I knit, I laugh and carry on and make sure that my soul is well-fed.

I take good care of my mind: I work in an environment that challenges me, I take classes to push myself to learn more, I read a ton and I don’t shy away from a hearty debate.

But for some reason, no matter how much I know it’s good for me on all sorts of levels, I am struggling to take care of my body. I have completely strayed from what I know that I need.

Going to the gym is torture for me. Last year I got into a fitness-DVD routine that I was hooked on for awhile but now if I go near the TV to put the DVD on, I have the uncontrollable urge to put my hand through the screen and choke the smiling, muscly guy who keeps telling me to push myself a little harder. I have fallen into a rut of lazing on the couch and amassing a stockpile of excuses for why I can’t exercise.

What is holding me back from doing what is good for me?

I love how I feel when I go for a long power walk, when I ride my bike with my dad, when I Zumba/laugh-my-self-silly and when I practice yoga. I feel beautiful. Strong. I feel energized and positive and like I can do anything.

When I take care of my body, I remind myself that the imperfect parts of myself serve a wonderful purpose and are really quite fantastic.

So maybe mornings aren’t for me, but it’s time to nurture Ms. Fat Booty.

I may not be climbing a mountain anytime soon, but that balanced-bliss, feeling fabulous about myself thing?

I’m ready.

stress pudding

Yesterday I almost drowned in a sea of paper.

I was at my desk plodding through mounds of work when, all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. Literally. I was struck breathless by stress.

You have to know that I’ve been floating along this year on a calm sea of cold-chilling, chocolate-pudding happiness. Even in the moments that I knew the water beneath me was deep, I was blissfully swimming along, making progress while ignoring the circling sharks.

And then, yesterday, I got caught in some weird undertow and was suddenly swallowing gallons of water, spitting and spurting, my eyeballs bulging, arms flailing all in the name of stress.

Everyone knows that flailing when you are drowning just makes things worse. But when you’re drowning, you bug out; all rational thought goes out the window.

Yesterday, I was flailing. I sat at my desk, rummaging aimlessly through piles of paper, talking to myself, gasping for air. Until I finally admitted to myself that I was overwhelmed.

As soon as I confessed to myself that I was, indeed, stressed, a life-raft arrived.

My friends.

Friends who just listened. Friends who gave me long hugs. Friends who reminded me that I dont have to do everything myself. Friends who told me to go home and take a nap.

I count on my friends all of the time to help me put things into perspective. They help me remember how to swim around sharks and to stop every now and then for a breather.

I am no good to anyone when I’m drowning. So that pile of papers? A great reminder that I need to nurture myself. I need to do right by my self. I need to listen to my body when it tells me it’s tired, listen to my soul. I need to care for my self with the same gusto with which I care for others.

Yesterday was a bummer.

Today?

Today I took the time to thank each of the friends that helped me through yesterday. Spending that moment with each of them made my today even better. Today I put music on in my office and rocked out while I made my way through the piles. I asked for help with what felt like too much and let go of everything having to be just so. I laughed. A lot.

I talked about what was contributing to my stress and the processing with friends helped me move through the muck back into a space of calm.

Today, thanks to my friends, I was swimming in the chocolate pudding with long, even strokes.

Mmmmmmmm chocolate pudding.

l*ve, h@pe and other four letter words

I swear like a sailor.

Despite my mother’s attempts to instill in me a fabulous vocabulary with which to express myself in times of strife, I have been known to curse like a truck-driver who’s stuck in traffic with an empty tank of gas.

It feels good! It’s verbal release! And in those moments when I struggle to be brave enough to articulate how I really feel, swearing does the job. I’m pretty good at censoring myself, I do work with kids all day, so I’ve gotten pretty good at leaving out the ugliness. I do not insert bleeps, I just find more appropriate words to express myself. But there’s just something about the throwing down a curse that provides emphasis like no other word; it’s an exclamation point!

The first time I ever got caught swearing I was 8 years old. I had good reason, I was being dragged by the rope-tow up a mountain. One ski was left ten feet behind me, the other was twisting my leg into some inhumane position. I’d taken my mittens off at the bottom as I was sweating from being nervous; I now had the beginnings of rope burn on my palms and still had half the hill left to be dragged up.

I didn’t say it loudly. Just above my breath. But WOW. It felt good. It felt daring. It also was louder than I thought because my mother, who was standing in front of me, heard it pop out. She whipped around and grabbed me by my rope-burned hand, pulled me off of the rope tow and proceeded to lecture me about my language right there on the bunny hill. Embarrassing yes, but enough to scare the swears right out of me, no.

So when a dear friend sent an update a while back about the status of her husband’s cancer, I responded to her email with the classic F-bomb. That was just how I felt. I didn’t really give it much thought.

It didn’t do anything, my swear-word. It didn’t help. No relief; not for me, not for my friend, not for her amazing husband. It just sat there like an undetonated grenade.

My friend gracefully responded that they had surely uttered their fair-share of F-bombs but, given their circumstances, had decided that there were much better four-letter words for them to focus on.

I don’t recall much of what my mom said on the bunny hill that day, just that as she turned to ski away, she looked me dead in the eye and proclaimed, “So Negative!” and left me sitting there, unable to move, in the snow.

So while saying certain words does give release, relief, or even invoke a response, it doesn’t change anything. Negativity doesn’t provide a solution. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so beautifully said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

The light I intended to shine that day for my friend was lost in dark words. What I meant to say was, “I love you. I wish I had something magical to help you through this challenge. I am in awe of you and your strength, your optimism, your ability to still be there for others when you are going through so much.” I meant to say, “Thank you. Thank you for reminding me about what is important.”

So today, I’m moving forward with the intention to choose my four-letter words with more wisdom. Today, to my friends, I say LOVE, HOPE, PRAY, WISH, SING, KISS, REST and STAR-WARS (okay, it’s hyphenated, so what!?).

Words have power.

Choose wisely.

bring on the hamster bubble!

I want one of those hamster bubbles.

You know the kind you can stick a hamster in and then watch it run around furiously on it’s little tiny legs while the bubble rolls around the room?

I want one. (Except mine is invisible and I’m not trapped in it and everyone around me isn’t laughing at how ridiculous I look.)

I want an invisible forcefield between me and all of the negative energy swirling around out there in the universe.

Not germs, I can handle germs, but some shield between me and those folks that just can’t seem to find the good in anything. My hamster bubble would only be penetrated by good energy. All of that other stuff…the nastiness, the disappointments, the dissatisfaction that everyone is dealing with and projecting out on to others…none of that can get in. I will just roll around all day in positive-bubble-wonderland.

I get that sometimes people need to whine and complain and just generally kvetch about this and that to get things off their chests. I’m a counselor, after all, it’s my job to help people work through those moments.  The world is crazy right now. Everywhere we turn there is tragedy, poverty, conflict, oppression.  The weather is all sorts of strange and the economy is terrible; everyone is completely stressed out in all sorts of ways.  Negativity is floating all around us, engulfing us; on the news, at work, on the road, in the world.

In this stressed-out, crazy world, it’s hard to find refuge from all of the rough-stuff and we end up taking it out on each other. We forget to say hello. We neglect to say thank you. We vent ad nauseum. We get caught up in all of the ugly stuff because sometimes it’s easier to see than the good.

I’m not throwing stones; while my glass is generally half-full, I have plenty of those nasty moments myself.

I get snarky and tired and hungry and hurt and disappointed and I take that out on other people. I hint that I need someone to give me the sympathetic face while I moan about my aching back or  beg for someone to snuggle me quickly to remind me that things will look up soon. I vent and bitch and moan and need someone to give me advice on how to solve a problem that’s nagging at me. I often need a friend to give me a fierce “snap out of it!” when I’m really on a whiney bender.

We all have our moments when we’re stuck in the rut, even those of us positive, optimistic, lemonade-out-of-lemons folks that rock the rose-colored glasses.  Life isn’t perfect and pretending that it is would be painful. I thank my lucky stars ten times a day for my family and friends and confidantes who indulge me with their time and their sympathy and their words of wisdom when I’m in the rut.

But at the end of the day, even when it’s been a really bad day, life is just easier when we can find the good in it.

And though it’s not perfect, in fact, it’s often incredibly hard, overall, life is pretty amazing. And if I allow myself to be consumed by all that is wrong, when I focus my energy on all that isn’t working, I fail to see all that is working, all that is good, all that I CAN do.

The positive energy can get sucked out of a space in the blink of an eye.

I can do that. I can suck the life out of a room when I’m in a bad mood.

We all can.

And, holy smokes, that’s a lot of power.

When I stop and think about the amount of people I interact with on a daily basis and remember that everyone I’m connecting with is getting some of my energy, for better or worse; that’s a lot of responsibility. And since the giant hamster bubble is probably not going to happen, I have to take care of my energy all on my own. I owe it to myself. I owe it to everyone that I interact with.

After all, in this crazy world, there are no invisible forcefields.

All we’ve really got is each other.  How cool is that?!

inhale peace, exhale stress

Last year I cried in yoga class.

Sixty plus people packed into a room to salute the sun and stretch away their stress and I was that girl who fell to the floor in a puddle of tears.

I walked in to the practice that night wound up tight. A parent at school was upset with me and I took her words to heart instead of considering that they came from a place of difficulty in her own life. I had taken on too much at work, wasn’t making enough time for myself or the people that I love and my body was carrying all of the garbage that comes with stress. I was unbalanced.

So there I was flowing along, telling myself that with each breath I inhaled peace, exhaled stress; with each new pose I was releasing the tension that had wound me up so tight I couldn’t see straight.

And then we did Goddess pose; known in Susannah-land as make-yourself-as-vulnerable-as-possible pose.

As I stood there, open, exposed, surrounded by strangers, open, tears began to stream down my face.  Just as I began to cry, my instructor stood face to face with me.  She looked me in the eyes. She mirrored my pose and said, “Be a goddess.” I nodded, still in my pose,  thinking, “yup, right, I am so NOT a goddess right now.” I mean, how could I be a goddess with snot dripping down my lip?

She didn’t blink. She didn’t move and said again, “BE A GODDESS.”

And then the floodgates. In that quiet room with all of those people whose feet were planted so solidly on the ground, I fell to the floor and sobbed.

I sobbed for a long time. And no one came over to ask me if I was okay. Or told me it would be alright. No one assured me that if I just stopped crying I would feel better. I just sobbed, curled in a ball on my yoga mat with the quiet hand of my instructor on the center of my back.  It was the first time in a long time that I could just let go.  I could just feel how I felt without having to explain it to anyone. Without having to apologize to anyone. Without having to feel badly that I was making anyone else feel uncomfortable or put out by my feelings.

Everyone in the room just carried on. And the world didn’t fall apart. And neither did I.

Ah, sweet relief.  Sweet release.

This goddess gathered herself up and joined in for Tree pose; her balance had never been better.

jackdaddy

It’s Monday and everyone’s dreaming about Friday.

I hadn’t even made it through ten minutes of the workday and people were already moaning about the weekend being over, how much they can’t wait for vacation, how tired they are, how much they hate Mondays.

Don’t get me wrong, I was right there with them. This morning my alarm clock and I were far from friends. I managed to get through the day. I whined occasionally about how I didn’t feel good, raced through to get as much work done as I possibly could and then got out of there as soon as I possibly could.

Monday. Done.

And then I saw a note that an old friend wrote about her day. She wrote about the kindness of others, the kindness she experienced while running errands with her father who has Parkinson’s. She wrote about the gentle greeting of the woman at the dry cleaner who hugged her dad upon his arrival and departure and about the man who sang a Christmas carol while helping her dad walk and about the many people who waited with patience as she and her dad slowly made their way through doors.

Her note made me reflect on my own day, the day I had wished away.

The little girl bogged down with a huge backpack and giant saxophone case who rushed to hold the door open for me this morning. The excitement in the eyes of one of my kids who got her first college acceptance in the mail. The cup of hot tea my mom joined me for after a long day at work. The old man who waved me in to merge with traffic even though everyone behind him was honking. The texts with Kate about the amazing bowl full of heads that she crocheted for me. The memory of my friend’s dad playing the drums with wild abandon in his pajamas in their front hallway.

Thank you to my old friend and her jackdaddy for reminding me that today is more important than tomorrow.

My Monday wasn’t much, but it sure had it’s beautiful moments.

eat the whole pie

I have a lot on my plate.

You know, the kind of overflowing-plate-feeling that jolts you awake at 3:42 in the morning? Where you toss and turn until you get up and write down what you’re thinking for fear that you’ll forget it and things, then, wouldn’t be as they should?

I’m busy. Aren’t we all?

I am well aware that my busy is ridiculously un-busy compared to most. I don’t have any kids, I don’t have a yard, I don’t sit in traffic on my way to work.  But somehow, I am always consumed with something.  Even when I’m relaxing, I am planning my next move, thinking about what’s next and all the million and five things that I have to do, should do, could do.

It seems as if everyone around me is on this same crazed trip.  We’ve been programmed this way.  To do. To have. To know. To get where we are going.

Somewhere along the crazy rat race of it all, I have forgotten that I already am where I am going.

My dad and I went on a trip a few years back up to Newfoundland; 3600 miles on the back of my dad’s bike.  He mapped out the trip, plotted our course and steered the beemer; all I had to do was hold on.

In the first minutes of the trip I marveled at how much I could smell, hear, see from my perch on the road.  And then, just outside of Hartford, my mind took over.

Instead of just being, I began thinking about being. And then I began criticizing myself for thinking!

Before I knew it we were halfway to Nova Scotia and I had already planned and re-planned the next year of my life, judged myself for it and forgotten all about how amazing the wind felt rushing through my helmet and how cool it was to smell the trees as we entered Maine.  I had no where to go but my mind wouldn’t stop.

We pulled into a pie-shack that Dad had raved about and ordered one up for the two of us. Not one slice, one pie.  Dad stretched and proclaimed, “this is living!” and we sat together at a picnic table on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.

I can still taste those blueberries. I can still hear Dad making up stories about the lives of the little old ladies who worked in the shack.  I can hear the cars whizzing by and feel the soreness of my butt from not being used to the bike seat. My mind was quiet enough, finally, to notice and really feel all of those things.

We ate the whole amazingly delicious pie.

Yup, life is busy. My mind is busy. I can plan my next move three-million times.  I can run myself ragged with work and school and obligations. I can try to find that next-best thing that might just be around the corner.

Or, I can slow down and savor the now.

Next Newer Entries

%d bloggers like this: