Saturday, March 29, 2014

The dilution of support

When the drama is most intense many draw to it like mosquitoes to a bug zapper. They come with good intentions but their support quickly burns out.

What is it in our culture that is quick to downgrade the importance of supporting one another? The root might be buried under our secret lives that we decorate daily with intentions of crafting our public facing persona. I have heard the term of supporting someone as becoming an enabler, not letting the person pull themselves up by their own boot straps or being accused of thinking that person can't handle it. On the other side I wonder if those of us seeking support fear the love. Letting people in to support us leaves our true self vulnerable to being seen, judged and possibly we think we are valued as people based on those judgments. Do we ultimately fear the love we do and don't give and do and don't receive is a reflection of how valuable we are? I understanding the mental core programming, but I don't agree with it.

Talking with a friend about her recent experience losing her husband, I told her I seek to be the change I want to see. I want to be the long term supporter. 

The problem, after the drama fades the support dilutes or diminishes all together. Those seeking the thrill of being the savior, rescuer or getting credit for being the light in the dark move on to their next dramatic adventure. Those left behind are the wise, those who truly understand how love works and how it must be nurtured to be kept healthy.

I promise to pace myself in order not to burn out, I will keep in touch and nurture those I know need more than ever to be told over and over again they are not alone nor forgotten. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Seizing the Opportunity to Heal

View of the water in Oysterville
There are moments I am able to seize, it's then I spend the time to sift through my own thoughts. The label seeker raises red flags with me. When I am given an opportunity I take it, yet hunting them down isn't my priority. Seeking once was a way to give myself hope, the carrot at the end of the stick, the lure of the light at the end of the tunnel. These coping tactics blinded me and I missed much of the journey, which meant I learned lessons much later than necessary. 

The opportunity to process the experience of having my daughter came up in late 2013. I had till February to think it over and send in a deposit to reserve my spot. I read the description of the event, I settled and put faith in the retreat's ability to give me a weekend in a supportive environment, beyond that I refrained from adding any more expectations. 

Every morning I wake up skeptical. I am I doing the right things? What can I do better? These attitudes prime me for being an excellent candidate to work in the nimble startup world. Fail fast, learn faster. 

Photo taken by the midwife
in the recovery room.
A memory I don't have.
As the retreat date crept up I decided I needed to choose a focus. I assumed I had processed the heavier elements of Clara's delivery, I knew there was a high chance I was wrong. The topic that came to mind was around family. I hated it. Every excuse ran through my mind on why I shouldn't go. Work, missing my niece's second birthday, loss of rare and precious family time, nurturing relationships with friends, my own health, the long intimidating drive, being vulnerable with strangers, my longing to try riding my horses again, and the list went on, and on. 

The opportunity was there, and bravely I seized it. Politely I told the excuses pumping through my mind conversations to be quiet and stand out of the way. My manager OK'd the adventure, my remote working hours and basically said, "have a great time." Text messages from my network trickled in with genuine intention I would absorb the love and support I was given. I channeled a time where I was confident driving, our new sedan picked up the slack and gave me peace of mind. What else did I need? Thinking time. 

The trip to Oysterville took a little over four hours of driving, a few breaks to stretch my legs, refuel and re-caffeinate my tiring body. Pulling into the gravel driveway was a relief. My mind had badgered me with anxiety. Every drive is exhausting, whether it is the house to the coffee shop, or a multiple hour tour to an familiar adventure. The"what if" thoughts are the hardest to quiet. I was surprised to be confronted with the sinking feeling I had left my little family, four plus hours away. Cell service was unreliable at best. I was greeted with a warm yet anxious tone. I was late. I couldn't have pushed harder even if I had tried. It just was what it was. 

The house had been given new energy. Fresh, clean, full of intention and an eagerness to share as well as participate. The entry door welcomed HBC moms with a sign, and the theme of words, art and bright colors continued even into our sleeping areas. Here was a moment to to sift through my own thoughts, so I asked myself, "what are you excited about and how can you bring that to this space for others to be excited about too?". I was eager to be my true self, willing to be vulnerable, honest and be solid for others. 

The first circle that was formed with all the women was apprehensive. The traveling hours had taken it's toll. Then the bell rang, the candle was lit and a moment of silence, from that moment on our energy had no threats. 

The weekend flowed in a cycle of prompt, expression, processing, support and relaxation. The universe at sent me to a soul spa. I soaked my tired spirit in my the purse essence forgiveness, wholeness, and love.

Parked in front of Oysterville's best
espresso stand, Captain's Coffee
Oysterville as a town doesn't have a lot to offer. There is a goat farm that I didn't visit, an amazing coffee shop that turned out to be my go-to place for caffeine and a consistent friendly face and a view of the water around mini mountains of oyster shells.

The few hours allotted as free time on Saturday gave me a sense of wanting to bolt. I wanted to listen to heat pumping loud music. I wanted to feel the caffeine in my system and let my mind go on auto pilot in a place far away from the weekend's topics and the thoughts erupting. I was bolting, as usual for a release.

Thankfully there was a touristy town about a half hour away. That was the perfect amount of time for me to get my bass blasting music out of my system. Longbeach an odd little town that reminded me a bit of the Oregon coast. There were an obvious mix of local folks and visitors cordially co-existing.  The grocery store had a limited supply of things I am used to finding at my natural food stores. Saturday evening was a potluck dinner at the retreat house. Two vegetarians and a vegan meant I was scrambling for a tasty dish to bring to the table. I decided to invest in $10 worth of asparagus. A local asked me if there was a secret sale on the long tender greens I was purchasing, confused I looked at the signs, her hands that were holding the most recent printed promotion of the store's sales, and then back at my asparagus, "oh, I don't know" was the gateway into a lovely conversation much to do about nothing in particular. I left the store with a handful of Halls cough drop rolls, asparagus, the fanciest bottle of lemon vinaigrette I could find and a glass jar of capers. Keeping it classy in Oysterville.

I had plenty of time left, so I talked myself into taking a left instead of heading back towards the camp. In a few minutes I found myself parked at the beach and exploring the board walk. I missed Eli. I wished for many things, one was that I had nudged maybe even bribed the other gals into joining me. I felt guilty experiencing this adventure on my own, it was too beautiful to share on my own.

The only constant is change. Every change is a transition to the next. The signature of the end of this retreat was a beautiful appreciation exercise. The purpose to dedicate time to express our thanks and reflections over the weekend specifically about each person. Instead of Sunday brunch, I am dreaming for a ritual of Sunday appreciations.

There are a lot of details saved for other posts, discussions over coffee or late night topics to nurture our relationships. Until then I celebrate spring, this time of blooming, new colors and my bravery in seizing the opportunity to heal. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Leaving camp to begin the hike

I have been given my fair share of time to come up to speed. Now it's time to put in the miles. Not unlike a young horse with great potential it's time to walk the rough roads bravely and ready to take on great responsibility. 

The outsider sees the obvious and may never understand the significance. That is okay. And as long as I don't pay too much mind to what those onlookers may or may not think I will retain space in my mind to be nimble, creative and vigilant. 

For those who want to share in my journey, I have stated the requirements. Many lives will cross paths during this trek. I am not seeking to be their leader and when I get to be their guide for even a moment I am honored. There are those who have found themselves wishing to share my path, I will invite them and make space around the evening campfires for them to rest and share. Accepting the truth can be unsettling, I now know that many of those wishing to share my path will wish I don't leave the campfire and may even beg that I don't leave them. I must leave them to battle their own fears of the dark, fears of being alone and lost. I will not be the last person they cross in their journey. My job is not to carry them, end my adventure or steer their feet, it is to minister to them in kindness. 

To further my understanding of love I must practice love for those I meet as well as  love for myself. 

Thankful for the time I was given to prepare. I am packed up with a good understanding of the tools and tasks at hand. Cheers to leveling up and embarking on another transition of learning. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Working Through Instead of Around

There is a premium price to running on max. I weighed the risks, and went cheap. I got sick. For what is now going on five days I have been fighting a very determined bug. One, that sadly my 21 month old daughter also caught. The two of us have eaten a lot of saltines. 

It's only my third week back at work. At first I was incredibly disappointed to be missing work. I has been trudging around in the storming phase of team building. Yet, that wasn't what was meant to be so I got to spent half that third with my daughter flying through Daniel Tiger episodes and tissues. 

No matter how much time passes I still have a lot to learn. I seem to be grasping the skill of being able to zoom out on myself and reflect on a larger picture. Why I am forfeiting my right to speak up? I believe unspoken expectations and assumptions are the root of all evil. What lessons do I need to learn? How can I break up learning them into small steps? 
  • Being assertive: It isn't rude to speak up for those who have no voice. It's your responsibility. 
  • Be clear and kind: a world without passive aggressiveness would be a fine oiled machine. 
  • Ask more questions: Don't assume, ever. 
  • Few people will share all my values: Find the good in people, and save space for the differences.
What is easier than learning and practicing these lessons? Oh just about anything else. Avoidance, distraction, retail therapy are all ways I have been taught to work around issues instead of work through them. Working through the muck is the hard part. I am very familiar with the life cycle of how teams grow into becoming productive. 

Forming: Someone new is added to the group or someone leaves. Everyone is cordial and prepares themselves for changes.
Storming: the stage where everyone feels they have to adjust, even if in just a small way it is distracts, irritates and demands more of them then they first were expecting. 
Norming: Everyone has settled into understanding how their role, what others do and see value in making working agreements and guides.
Performing: the team enjoys their role, feels valued and contributes value. Everyone on the team is productive, efficient and dedicated to working towards improvement in every opportunity. Major gains are seen during this phase in performance, profits and communication. 

The part that is challenging to accept is that when the dynamic changes everything starts back at phase 1. Those companies with high turn over struggle or never see their teams at performing. Too much time mucking around in the forming and storming phase. 

These cycles seem to apply on even the tiny situations in my life; asking for a better deal on that big purchase, speaking up about care quality, developing a plan taking on new foreign skills. Unfortunately there isn't a way to learn these great skills without practice. 


The artist that understands how to work through an issue ends up with a master piece. Could you imagine if the great artists attempted to just work around their issues, maybe even practice avoidance, distraction or took off for some retail therapy? There would be a lot of dusty half done pieces of art instead of the pieces we now enjoy and treasure.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Anticipation of Falling and Failing

While the last surgery did get my leg straighter it came with some frustrating and discouraging side effects. The leg is still weak, especially and barely usable when extended past where I had been able to use in pre-surgery. The quadriceps are being given poor signals due to the motor nerve damage and don't hold or even contract consistently. Those two issues means I have a very very unreliable leg.

Every step is a gamble.

Just when I think I am doing well the leg fails. Today, I found myself brought to tears as my leg failed me and as I desperately attempted to balance I bumped into a little girl sending her flat on her back and her head hitting the floor. The apologizes to her and her mother flowed from me in a sad pathetic attempt to reconcile my actions and her pain.

I attempted to decompress. Spent the next hour with a friend. Then found my mental self going down a deep dark hole. My wandering mind asked me if me going back to work is because I believe I can't trust my leg, and can't operate at the capacity in which to serve my daughter. Is prodded again asking if that is a core reason why I am handing her off to others that are more capable. As my chest tightened and my mind wondered I found myself frustrated at those who have ignored my challenges and stepped out of my family's and my life for petty reasons.

While my leg is unreliable, I don't feel that I am.

Driving puts me into a high functioning anxiety. The responsibility for constant vigilance is exhausting. When other drivers become aggressive with me on any level I am immediately on guard. Nervously wondering what they are going to do. Knowing if I have to stop quickly Clara will be okay in her rear facing seat, yes, I actively tell myself "the car seat will take the force, if you need to stop quickly she will be okay". Reminders like that steal my focus and thank goodness they do.

It's not just the leg, the pain or the frustration, it's the quality of life. Right now the quality feels cheap and compromised.

I must regain strength at extension or the leg will continue to fail. So as I finish this sentence I am going to go on my stationary bike and work towards the goal of feeling whole and capable again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Freedom dreaming with a side of insomnia

After a short night of sleeping and a long night of hoping to do so, I am now making friends with caffeine. The odds of sleeping were stacked against me. Both the kiddo and I had an incurable case of busy brain. 

There are big changes around the corner. Thankfully, I am pleased to look forward. A tad nervous, but pleased. I am also attempting to gently wean myself off of looking back, occasionally is okay but not too often. Gaining confidence in that these upcoming changes are a mix of carefully made choices with a splash of destiny. 

For the last two weekends I have happily found myself back walking on my favorite trail with my family. Walk for a bit then my leg gives out, walk for a bit then my leg gives out. There are moments I forget that I am not whole. Then I smile thinking about how donuts aren't always "whole", sometimes they have a hole! Yeah. Cheesy joke. However, I will take whatever I can get.

The generous dose of real vitamin D, quality time with my family and gentle exercise clears out the cobwebs in my mind. The infuriating distractions are melted away one step at a time. 

Often I find those around me are either unaware or discounting their options and resources. I watch friends and family choose the burning bridge that is shorter over the longer bridge worthy of trust. Tough to watch after sharing my most fair and sensitive warning. If I can learn from others I will. A quick stop to chat to a Park Ranger will give me the insight I need to move forward, or turn back depending on the conditions of the trail. I don't need the ranger to take on the responsibility of my actions, just give me insight from their experience. Like a friend the Ranger is there to remind me of my options and give me a heads up to things I may not have been expecting. Since, like a friend they would prefer I have a wonderful journey that doesn't include getting stuck somewhere, injured or worse.

There are times, like now, I have to be my own Park Ranger. The term pulling myself up by my own boot straps might fit. I am carefully crafting more options. Exploring the paths laid ahead of me and preparing as best as I know how now for the long journey. Choices equal freedom. When I give up a choice I give up freedom. From relationships to finances these decisions shape the now and lay down the foundation of the future. Tricky task! 

That was the case of busy brain I had, and have. If only the preparations where as simple as slapping peanut butter and jelly onto bread and stuffing it into a bag. It's not that simple. Some of this is rather daunting. The piece of preparing that is extra difficult is making the decisions for those who can't, in this case, Clara.

Devouring research, statistics and listening to friends and family has me leaning towards finding a full time pre-school for her. At minimum three days a week, at most five. There are so many angles in which I can look at this task. The one that inspires, shows me Clara enjoying a day enriched with other kids, thoughtfully prepared curriculum from teachers that will be tickled seeing her delight for learning. There is also the angle of fear that encompasses how overwhelming the class might be, how tired she may get and lumps in all the "what ifs" any parents can think of. There is also the perspective of guilt, that the lifestyle I have chosen pushes us in this direction, possibly too soon, maybe even too late? 

Removing the doubt, and the fears and focusing on the possibilities makes it easier to find the right questions to ask and choosing the best path for the now, not the "what if" whens.

The quote "the only constant is change" is consistently true and encouraging. This next round is being given to me to leverage the opportunity. Yes, some of it will be a bet in hopes of propelling us as a family to the next chapter. Our goals revolve around being more prepared and having more options than we have now. More options and more choices equal more freedom.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Inspirational Quotes to Close 2013

A collection of quotes I have saved. All with a ingredient towards healing, creating a deeper connection and appreciation for this amazingly complex journey. Raise a glass, let's toast to closing the chapter on 2013 and turning to a blank page in 2014. Let's write the future!

Reflecting on Milestones

Patience is something I am re-learning.

As a kid I remember patience meant waiting, lots of waiting. Before I ever owned a cell phone I would sit waiting for a ride home after school. Being out of district for all but a couple years of my education meant no school bus, I had to be taken to school and picked up.

I had to be in sight of my ride, no wandering. I barely remember moving too far from the bike rack or handlebars. School was locked up until the next day, no sanctuary or ability to call and check-in on my ride. It was just me dabbling in the art of patience, swinging my feet daydreaming.

Patience and I have been spending a lot of time bickering recently. It's soft nature tends to pat me on the head which I take to be condescending and rude. I am not a child! However, it might have a point when it comes to patience I feel as though I can become quite immature. Haven't I been patient enough?

The last two years have tested and re-tested me. Walking away from a challenge I celebrate believing in my gut I feel like I did great! Then like a boomerang the challenge comes right back around a slightly different spin. This upcoming surgery feels a lot like a forced re-test. So, Universe do you just need to be sure I got the memo?

Seven months of obsessing over milestones has become my new hobby. Oh boy, that's not good. I struggle to keep my mind from wallowing in these thoughts for too long. Writing releases the words, the emotion and frees my mind to refocus. So, I write. Leave the words here to wait for me to return if I so need to. If I need to be reminded of where I went so that I remember the lesson and move forward.

The first milestone was becoming mobile. The wheelchair in this old 70s house was tricky, but not impossible. My left leg was relentlessly called upon to do my bidding pushing myself from room to room. Even a tortoise would have smirked at my meager attempts.

At the Nissan dealership I was put in charger of supervising my daughter, Clara in the dealership's playroom. Eli worked with the sales team to draw up papers to purchase our new family hauler. Faster than a flash that toddler bypassed me calling for her Dad in front of what felt like a herd of people. I pushed myself with my left leg, and attempted to use my left hand to maneuver the wheel chair. I pleaded with her to come to me. I reached for the collar of her shirt and caught her like I dog. She cried as I sat her on my lap, hating every moment she wasn't with her Dad. I hate that memory. 

Getting the OK from the hand surgeon to use crutches was like being told I could graduate to using a fork from a spoon. It seemed simple but now I felt more effective. More efficient! I embraced my new appendages to explore the house with a new appreciation. I swapped out my cute pink purse for an old across the body sack. Determined to help myself I would hobble into the kitchen, load up my bag with a water bottle, a few snacks, tissues, chap-stick and hobble back to the couch. That might be the closest I ever get to feeling like a pirate.

Sitting in front of Dennis my physical therapist I struggled not to cry. When I feel tears welling and pushing against my eyes and old friend's voice pops into my head, "you cry too much", and the tears give up and quiet down. As if I was explaining to a customer a strategy to increase conversions I laid out a plan in front of Dennis of how I was going to reach the milestone of taking a shower on my own. The goal, lower myself with one leg and arm to sit in the tub and then begin praying I get out. Eventually my scheme worked! Shower alone, check.

Driving gave me freedom but for months increased cortisol dumps. Every intersection turned on a red alert in my brain, I could hear my heart beating in-between my ears. Eventually I calmed down and even convinced myself to cross the intersection of the accident. Then I went a little further to Starbucks and ordered whatever the hell I wanted. Venturing out further to the feed store was better than a trip to Disneyland. I smiled for at least an hour while reading pet food labels, giddy to have gotten that far and be in a land of dressed up pet pot belly pigs and little girls with pink cowgirl boots.

I gave in to September's demands to be present. The mother hen in me delighted in planning a birthday party for my husband. It was a whistle while I worked week of delegating tasks, smores and me being ultra smug only using a cane. The melted marshmallows and ability to tend the campfire a bit were two scrumptious treats.

I need to learn to treasure what I dig up. I revisited this Facebook status update.

Remember how I said I try not to cry? I can't read that update and suppress tears. That memory is surreal. Did I actually do a good job? Did I make up for lost time? Maybe, maybe not. As I said before, I need to learn to treasure memories I dig up.

Leaving behind the obsession of the next milestone might be the next milestone. I am not ready to go cold turkey. I need these goals right now to see straight. Surgery is scheduled for the 9th and I need to see past those hours and mentally focus on the following day at physical therapy. I need to marinate my mind in manifestations of healing, honesty and communicating my needs.

Thankfully I am stubborn. This post too shall be recorded in my blog so if I so choose to look back upon it it will be there. Text to be read, memories to be treasured and milestones labeled achieved.