Five Steps To Negotiating With Yourself To Get Where and What You Want

 

Dahlings!

Imagine you are a car. The most amazing car you can fathom. If the car of your dreams has not yet been designed, imaginimg_6625e yourself as whatever that is. A fully loaded, luxury car with everything you could possibly need or want in it to get you to the destinations of your dreams.

As you get ready to embark upon this epic road trip in said car,  you open the door and you find a little kid sitting in the front seat. Maybe even a toddler. You love the toddler. The toddler can be a ton of fun. The toddler provides joy and wonder and playfulness. You definitely want to bring the toddler along for the trip. What do you do? Do you toss the keys to this amazing vehicle at the toddler and say “ok let’s go!”.  Not if you’re sane. Why? Well toddlers don’t know the first thing about driving. If they sit in the driver’s seat chances are they are going to just be happy to chill there in the garage.  Messing around with the steering wheel, honking the horn, jumping on the seats, putting coins and cookies in all the vents.  You aren’t getting anywhere with a toddler at the wheel.  The car is just getting trashed. Eventually the toddler gets bored and wants out. The occasional toddler might actually try to start the car and clearly that ends super badly. So we can all agree that a toddler in the driver’s seat of your luxury car is not the way to go. So you put the toddler in their car-seat, strap them in nice and tight and off you go. That’s better.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Why do we let the toddler drive the bus when it comes to our life. Don’t think you do? Do you follow through consistently with the goals and intentions you set out for yourself or rely on moods or fleeting flashes of motivation? Are you putting off facing something unpleasant and difficult because you are scared and intimidated?  Are you addressing any trauma from your past which is causing you to become triggered in ways you don’t understand?  Are you staying in a toxic job or relationship because you are afraid of new things or to be alone? Almost all of us have some area of our life where the toddler is in the driver’s seat. And that’s keeping us from getting to where we want to be. So here are a few tips for negotiating with the toddler when it acts up so that you can drive that beautiful car to all those gorgeous destinations unfettered.

But first an amusing illustration on how to effectively negotiate with kids. I saw this on facebook the other day and it was so intensely relatable that I could not stop laughing.

Here’s how this was a successfully executed negotiation:

The mother of dragons clearly communicated reasonable expectations. She gets the people to buy into her narrative. They are all on the same team.

She provides short term and longer term incentives and rewards.

Parenting kids effectively requires some basic but consistent negotiation skills. Here’s how I deal with kids and with my own inner kid when it’s trying to get into the driver’s seat and derail me from my goals. I’m going to use the example of exercising.

I’m a really consistent exerciser. I need to be because regular exercise is critical for my mental health.  People tell me that they wish they had my “motivation and energy”.  What I tell them in return is that they certainly don’t want either one of those things.  I almost never wake up with a sense of motivation and I don’t have a particularly high energy level either. I will concede that I have been extraordinarily lucky with good physical health and that’s no small thing, but as for motivation and energy, you don’t want to be coveting my share of them.

What I have honed over the years is the ability to negotiate with myself every day and get myself to exercise.  Again, I use the same methods as I do to negotiate with a tough crowd of kids.

  1. I set out reasonable expectations ahead of time and I communicate them to myself very clearly. I’m pretty deliberate with regards to my fitness goals. I write down an amount of mileage I want to run each week at the beginning of the week and I keep track of it. I do this so that I can respect my energy levels over the course of the week. If I need to run less on one day because I’m very tired or feeling sore or an injury coming on tells me that I need to take a rest day will not mean that the week is shot. I’d caution against setting yourself up for a sense of failure by resolving to jog every day and feeling like you blew it if you miss the Monday.  Same way you don’t want to give a kid a reward chart that only works if they get a star each day of the week. If they blow it on Monday they aren’t going to be the least bit invested in trying the rest of the week. Keep things bite-sized manageable and geared in every possible way to be successfully achieved. You want to set yourself up for success. Success breeds confidence which breeds more success.
  2. I approach the negotiation by showing high regard for the child.  Nobody responds well to being told they are a lazy loser. Nobody responds well to being told to do things “because I said so”.  When I’m negotiating exercise I talk to my inner child with respect and empathy. I remind myself that the way I’m feeling that day isn’t who I AM. I remind myself that I am an athlete, that I have done hard things. Just because I’m feeling sluggish that day doesn’t mean I am a slug.
  3. I offer immediate incentives for good behavior. If my inner toddler is balking about exercising I ask it to visualise how much better a shower feels after a good sweaty work out.  I freshen up my playlist (I also only allow myself to listen to my fun active playlists when I’m running)
  4. I remind myself of longer-term goals in very visceral ways. “Summer is coming, don’t you want to feel confident and comfortable and just enjoy the nice weather? Let’s make sure thighs aren’t rubbing together that’s not a good feeling. I do not want that for you.”
  5. I work with the inner child until she is ready to Just Try One Bite. This is where it’s a strategic give and take. You know how you get a kid to try a new food? You don’t dish up a big bowl of it. You negotiate just one bite. This is no different.  If I’m feeling super intimidated and defeated by the prospect of a longer run I amend the goal to a shorter run for that day. This is where the flexibility I talked about in step 1 comes into play. I tell myself that I can run 2 miles instead of 4 miles and make up the rest of the mileage later in the week. Like 80% of people who “just try one bite” I almost always end up eating more.  Usually I end up running the originally intended mileage and often even more. So much of the battle is just getting started. I make it less intimidating to get started by trimming the goal to that one manageable bite. That said, I have to be honest enough with myself that I will feel content with achieving the smaller goal if that’s all I end up doing.  This is really important because we become way more confident at negotiations and being in the driver’s seat if we experience positive outcomes. Each successful negotiation makes us feel that much more capable of getting the unruly toddler safely buckled into their 5 point harness in the back seat.

Here’s an important caveat which I didn’t have a chance to say in my podcast/youtube video:

It’s really horrific to take a sick kid on a road trip. It’s going to be a miserable experience for all involved if you do.  You will have to stop constantly. There will be much whining. You may have to abandon plans.  Do you see where I am going with this?

If you have unaddressed trauma and the inner child is damaged enough these negotiations will not be as nearly as successful, if at all. This is my daily plug for getting therapy. Complex PTSD will stand in the way of progress. That’s what it does.  Trauma specialised therapy can and will help the inner child to heal and not have to cry constantly to be heard and taken care of. Then both of you can get along with the journey.

Much love! Til next time,

k

This topic is addressed on both my podcast (streams on 10 platforms) and if you are more a visual person for the first time ever you can watch the podcast on youtube! Please like and subscribe to my brand new channel (eeek so exciting) OneInchPastScary

 

 

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Going One Inch Past Scary

img_6123-1Dahlings! The blog. You have spoken. I have listened.  Together we have resurrected her! And it feels so good!

Diving right in shall we?

What has transpired since last she wrote? Well A PODCAST for one thing. Are you listening to my dulcet tones yet? From time to time I have brilliant, funny, wise and altogether delightful guests joining me too.  It’s called Mental Notes from My Minivan. I’ve really enjoyed producing it. Maybe you would enjoy listening to it? Or not. If you prefer the written word, that’s cool. I gotchu.

Since I left you.  It’s been a tempestuous and eventful little journey. The last couple of years have offered no shortage of  The Drama. Most of it played out (when it played out publicly, and most of it did not) on Facebook and my podcast  In time, I plan to consolidate some of those posts onto the blog because some really painful yet necessary topics were addressed and those painful stories, discoveries and lesson learned turned out to be helpful and healing to not just me and some of my family members but many others. That’s the weird thing about pain and drama. The lessons are usually pretty powerful.

Right now I’m in a fairly stable upward trend. Yay! I have had no shortage of Resistance though. Life has been creative and relentless is helping me to get through a non-stop barrage of triggers, situations and circumstance to test my new found growth and stability. There are blips and even valleys. Hard moments and super sad days. Sometimes weeks.  But I haven’t gone back to where I was. I attribute that to many things. Therapy, hard work, vigilance about all the things that help my mental health.  But if I had to be concise it would be an increased understanding and acceptance of Resistance and my duty to look it in the eye and fight against it as though for my life. Because in fact, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I get one life, and I’m fighting for the best shot at it.

Resistance is the one thing we can all count on from the moment we are miraculously conceived to the moment we die.  And it’s a pain. And if we acquiesce to it we will shrivel up and atrophy.  But it’s also what makes the whole thing in any way worthwhile.  I think it’s truly important to recognize that we ourselves as human beings are programmed to vigorously resist the type of growth that will feed our spirits and make our souls (and bodies for that matter)better. Because that sort of growth comes with risk. It comes with getting out of our safe zone. Our comfort zones. And our brains are wired for survival. They don’t want us to do anything but be SAFE and so we are going to come up against immediate resistance every single time we try to circumvent that programming for growth. Which is why it’s really best not to overthink things. Make choices as to what will best serve us, commit to them and then just do the damn thing.  (Just Get the Bloody Thing Done is the title of the first episode of my podcast. Just sayin.)

A little example if you will. So yoga. You know I’m a long-time fan and I’ve been doing yoga for many years. But since last Thanksgiving I have committed to doing it daily. As in Every Damn Day. I’m trying not to skip a day for a whole year. We’ll see.  The benefits have been myriad but more on that later.

There’s this one pose. It’s not that hard really. I mean it’s not the most basic pose, but it’s not something you have to go to India for a year and meditate in silence to master either.  And for years now I’ve been trying to get that damn thing down.  And for years I have been able to get it. But only barely. Like I get up there for a second or two but it never felt the way it’s supposed to feel. In yoga we talk about “floating” and there was nothing floaty about this. It was sheer force of will and a hell of a lot of work and no fun. I could tell that when I was doing it I was essentially faking it and it made me quite cross.

Why? Because come on. I’ve done yoga for ages I should be able to do this. I have sufficient core and arm strength. I’ve got good balance. I’ve certainly put in the time.  So what the hell? Well. First of all hello. If something isn’t working for you don’t keep trying to do it the same way.  Enter youtube.  Looked up the pose and started doing drills for it from a variety of instructors . Everyone had a slightly different emphasis on what was important and it was helpful. I gathered the info and was literally poised in position one day when the next video cued up automatically. Someone I hadn’t listened to before.  She covered the physics of the pose which was helpful but what I really, really needed to hear came right as I was in position…

You have to go one inch past scary” she said. “that’s when your feet will automatically lift off the ground.  You won’t need to use your core as much to haul them up. They will just float.

Then:

And then you need to look forward. Don’t look down or momentum will have you landing on your face. If you prefer to land on your face, look down. I prefer feet so I look forward”

And then came the piece de resistance:

“Once your feet have floated up and you are looking forward..commit to the pose. So often people will find themselves just coming into the pose and back out. Their feet want to be on the ground.  She called it the Wiley Coyote effect. When the coyote runs off the edge of the cliff and he’s floating just fine…and then he looks down, starts pedaling his feet frantically and falls. So be sure to stick with it once you get into it.

As she was talking, I got myself properly into position as I had in so many attempts before, but this time was different. I looked forward,  and then….I shifted one inch past scary. And instead of freaking out that I was going to face plant I now knew that it being scary meant I was on the right track. And Then….Suddenly I was doing it. I didn’t need more strength or flexibility or longer arms or stronger wrists or any of the things I had sadly decided were the problems here. I had always had everything I needed.

But now I knew that I needed to be:

-Looking Forward

-Going One Inch Past Scary

-Committing to the pose.

With those three things in place…suddenly was floating. Finally.

This 43 year old women suddenly had the exuberant buoyancy of a 7 year old. I leaped out the pose jumping up and down with pure unmitigated joy.  “I’m so damn proud of myself!” I kept exclaiming to my husband. All day I kept practicing like a baby who had just learned to walk finding it so liberating and thrilling.

It didn’t take long for me to see how this experience was analogous to, well pretty much everything. To my journey to healing. To the breaking of cycles which keep me from where I want to be. When things aren’t working out for me despite having all the pieces in place for them to do so it’s usually for one of these same reasons:

When I fail to look forward: Accepting the limiting and false beliefs that I have about myself which are rooted in childhood. Accepting trauma triggers and accompanying emotions as personality flaws rather than the temporary things they are.  Not controlling my subsequent thoughts and actions and allowing emotions to ride the bus.  Acting out in ways which served me as a child for survival rather than moving into adult cycles of behavior which serve me now.

Failing to go that one inch past scary. To be honest all the therapy I have done has been a non-stop exercise in going several miles past scary and I’ve been getting better at this all the time. But there are many areas in my life where I am desperately afraid to fail and so I sit paralyzed and doing nothing. Going one inch past comfortable. One inch past “known”. One inch past a sure thing. One inch past safe is what is ultimately necessary to float and fly.  I have a huge deal of resistance to all of these things. A lot of that is tied up to C-PTSD and some of it is just habit and straight up garden variety human laziness. That wiring to stay safe and familiar. This is why I’m trying to make it a daily discipline to intentionally go one inch past scary, safe, comfortable in just one area of my life. You don’t have to become a sky-diver overnight but you can truly change your life if you go one inch past scary in some way every single day.

Failing to commit: You guys. Bad news. But you need to know. Nobody is coming to save us. Nobody is going to do the work for us. Good news? Life is full of resistance , but it’s equally full of opportunity and help.  If we don’t grab onto the opportunities and assistance and then commit to doing our own work. We are just going to continue to fall back out into our old safe, non-floating ways. Truly committing is hard. Tedious. It’s the behind the scenes, doing it even when you don’t feel like it. It’s the grind.  Commitment isn’t glamorous but in and of itself but once we actually commit and stick with it maybe for a long time...that’s when the float comes.

Look forward, go one inch past scary, commit to it and fly high babies! Until next time

xox

k

PS: Lots more good stuff in this vein on the Going One Inch Past Scary episode. Click to listen!

Seven Morning Habits Which Are Highly Effective for This Person

Congratulations brave warrior. Your survived the Monday after Thanksgiving and if it was anything like mine that is to be commended.

The entire holiday weekend had several highlights but it was also looooooaaaaded with triggers as holidays often are for a lot of us. By Sunday night I was headed for trouble and by Monday, mid-morning I was….what they say…”a heated mess? A mess where heat is applied to it so that what once was a little messy is now very messy?” (name that line).  Look the reality is that shit happens to all of us, usually at inconvenient times. I think of overcoming PTSD as a project which takes up a lot of time and energy. But  even when you are involved with a project involving lots of past shit, shit can and does go down real time too.  It’s the nature of living that we can’t schedule our shit to suit us best. This is because most of the shitty life events are outside of our control.

And that can make us feel (and also be) completely out of control too. An out of control person in a crisis situation?  Well, look nobody wants to be that that person or be around that person or even know that person. You want a freaking pilot who is IN CONTROL when the plane starts having mechanical difficulties y’know? Not some freaking idiot who is shrieking about how modern planes are supposed to be able to fly themselves. It’s just not an optimal thing.  I try hard not to be that person.

Yet there was no other way to describe me by Monday aternoon. I was Out Of Control and it was Not Optimal. And then as I scrubbed the walls and baseboards with soapy water, (the only productive thing I could focus on for any length of time whilst trying not to hyperventilate), it occcurred to me that because of the holiday weekend, I had completely slacked off on the careful daily habits I have cultivated over the course of my PTSD-ending Project.  And while I couldn’t control the triggers and I couldn’t control the shitty realities that had cropped up, I really can control whether or not I do my “Daily Disciplines” as I like to call them. And guess what else? They totally help me to become a competent pilot in the shitstorms of life.

I can also tell you that when my mornings are in control,  I feel pretty confident in my ability to keep my shit more or less together for the forseeable future..like, I feel pretty solid about the day ahead, come what may. Before I had these disciplines in place I felt really scared all the time. I couldn’t count on getting through the day if it got too hard. That’s not a cool way to live..and happily it’s not how I live anymore. So long as I keep up with my disciplines. That’s pretty powerful stuff. That’s worth buckling down for a little bit isn’t it?  For me it is. For me it SO IS.  So here I am to share with you what gets me and keeps me on the right track. Maybe all of these work for you too, maybe only one of them looks like something you’d like to try, or adapt to try. Disclaimer: daily disciplines are for everyone, if you have a mental health crisis in addition to this sort of thing you need to be working with care providers (which I do).

Here’s what I’m going to ask you not to do. Not because it annoys me but because I want you to reframe the way you think about your life and its problems. If you are inclined to write to me and tell me how you guess you are just stuck with a sucktastic life because you can’t do these things for xyz million different reasons then remember:  I’m not asking you to do these specific things.  I’m asking you to figure what disciplines you could employ to help you take control of your responses to what life hurls your way. So instead of putting energy into explaining why these things wouldn’t work for you,  go ahead and put it into figuring out what will work for you! Deal? Deal! I’m bossy cos I love you. Without further ado:

Kirsty’s Daily Disciplines.

1. Wake up early.
What?? No! I hate myself for typing those words. I am not an early bird. I don’t understand people who love the early morning, I go to bed too late…blahblahblahblah. I need an alarm to get me up every single day. And it’s dark and it’s cold and I’m sleep deprived because I do like to stay up too late. And if I had to get out of bed early without some sort of accountability it’s almost certain that I wouldn’t. Because I am nothing against the power of a warm comforter and a soft pillow.  Which is why I have organized my life to have people expecting me and waiting for me and even paying me to get up early.  The sad truth is that successful people are almost always early risers. Dammit. Anyway, sunrises are really pretty and when my beautiful friend Stacey died in her 30’s amongst
the words of advice she left were, “get up to see more sunrises”. I like to think of her when I do.

2. Drink a big bottle of water first thing.  Life hack. When you are brushing your teeth every night, fill up a bottle of water, put it on your night stand. Upon awakening…drank. People. Dehydration. Is. So. Bad. It’s bad for your body, it’s bad for your brain, it’s bad for your mood, it’s bad for your looks, your weight control, it’s bad for your breath it’s bad. If in doubt, drink more water. FYI: Coffee is not water, milk is not water, soda is not water, juice is not water. Water is water. Herbal tea without caffeine is a closer substitute than the above things.  Water is not just good it’s really critical for healthy functioning and so many things are going to start working better for you if you just buckle down and drink the right amount of water. Just Do It. Drinking room temp or warm water first thing in the morning is really good for your digestive system.  If I don’t drink about 20 oz first thing, there’s a good chance I’m going to keep on the path of dehydration all day which will lead to bad eating choices,  headaches, digestive issues and a super terrible mood. And that’s just short term. If I do drink it first thing I just function better and I keep hydrated as the day goes on. Good things beget more good things. If you hate water  trick yourself into liking or at least in drinking it: imagine you are in the desert and the water is the oasis you have been dreaming of all this time and glug glug glug… or use a straw or buy a bottle you love (this battered Swell bottle is my constant companion, keeps things hot or cold for ages and it is really really sturdy. (I know because once I used it as a javelin off of my top balcony and it landed on my stone path and it’s still being awesome). Anyway WATER. Drink more. Drink early and often. Life will get better for you. I promise.

3. Do yoga.  Yoga is a brilliant way to wake your mind and body up because it involves stretching, breath awareness and focus on the present. I can’t possibly go into how many ways yoga is beneficial, you have the internet, look it up!  Literally everyone can do a little bit of  SOME KIND OF yoga every day. There are so many different poses and adaptations within those poses. I like the little ritual of playing  “Here Comes The Sun” to kick off my practice every day. I can’t help but smile and feel comforted when I hear it. Even if you can only do one song’s worth of yoga, you did it. It’s so much better than nothing at all.  I chose this of my many yoga pics to share because I’m throwing down in jeans, with my jacket and my sunglasses off to the side on the way out of the door. Yoga doesn’t require lulelemon pants and a fancy studio or a “yoga body”. Just strike some poses where and whenever you can. They add up. A few sun salutations are an excellent way to get some truly beneficial stretches in and start your day off perfectly.

4. Meditate. Over the summer I practiced the very basics of basic zen meditation but with the school year being so much more busy and the weather not being as conducive and inviting to long practices outside in lotus position I turned to apps for help and variety. Head Space and Simple Habits both have very generous free trials to get you on your way (Simple Habits is currently 50% off for the yearly subscription), and they show how easy and accessible meditation really is. It takes no skill whatsoever. Exciting news! YES YOU CAN MEDITATE. Trust me, if I can do it, literally anyone can.  It’s not about emptying your mind of thought and being some kind of levitating genius. Allow me to reiterate: Even I can do this. And I have the attention span of a gnat on crack ok? Meditation is not what you think it is, it really is a very simple process and what’s more all the people you think are so amazing and calm and chill and accomplished probably do some form of meditation or another…try it out..it’s powerful stuff, yo. I’m by no means a pro or an example to live by but when I found myself in profound distress on Monday I discovered my brain automatically switching over to some of the skills I have recently learned through meditation so…yes. It works.

5.Write in a journal. I write 3 pages in an A4 Moleskine journal with a lovely flowy pen every morning. Doesn’t that sound so artistic and delicious?  Ah, I love Beautiful rituals! Someone taught me this “morning pages” concept about a year ago. And it’s such a cherished, satisfying ceremony for me. But  then, I like to write, and I write quickly. If you don’t you could maybe try to start with 5 things you are grateful for. Or write 2 intentions or top priorities for your day.  Since I’ve got 3 pages to fill, I manage to cover thoughts that are floating around, gratitude and intentions most days. But really, just the act of taking a pen and ink and putting your thoughts to page is the goal..at least for me

6. Make my bed.  I choose to ignore that study about how it’s better not to make your bed,  but if you don’t, there is nothing to stop you from smoothing your sheets, fluffing your pillow and pulling your covers back neatly so that you have an inviting place to return to at the end of the day. Creating order in the sacred space of  our room (I do consider our bedroom a sacred little sanctuary and I try to keep it beautiful and tidy because of that) is a very self nurturing and controlled way to start your day before you walk out into the chaos of the world. It’s such a small but deliberate act of discipline which will signals to me that I am in charge of my day and that I’m capable of creating order out of chaos. It’s a little thing that can make a really big
difference.





7. Have a nutritious easy to prepare/eat breakfast.  I give so much credit to my husband for preparing overnight oats for me since this spring or early summer. He’s perfected the recipe for me over time and it includes so many amazingly

healthy things while still being perfectly palatable and delicious. If I skip my oats and coffeeeeeeee, things fall apart predictably around 3pm every day.  As I mentioned above, I am incredibly easily distracted, so having something pre-prepared, appetising, healthy and comforting to eat which will keep my blood sugar stable for many hours is a total game changer for me and probably for the rest of my family who don’t have to deal with my irritability at 4pm when I realise I haven’t eaten all day and suddenly am foraging for all the carbs, writing rants on facebook IN ALL CAPS and being super bitchy to all the people.

Well that’s it for now. I actually have like 10 things but I’m out of time and the 7 seemed like a cool way to leverage off someone else’s success so you get 7 😉 Tell me what your habits for being the competent pilot of your life are! I wanna knoooooowwww! Maybe I wanna copy them! Anything here you like that you think you might incorporate? Tell me that too. Tellllll meeeeeee!!!

You guys remember when I used to do Works for Me Wednesday?? Well it’s Wednesday..these work for me! Ha! Nostalgia!

xox
k

Letting It All Be.

This morning I lay on the couch and I cuddled my precious little girl. Marveling at each of her delicate tiny features and listening to her carefully sounding out the words on her ipad to me and I realised. “She can read! She can really read. And she can write. She can express herself through the written word and she can read the communications of others. And that is a true miracle for any human being and it made me a little breathless. Just as it had when my mom pointed out that I could read when I sounded out “Hot Food” in the food court at Sandton City.

And then I watched as the glass window above the front door filled with a halo of white blonde hair and my youngest son, who is suddenly a man with a deep voice, hurried to pull it open and greet his oldest brother and I listened to them talk, they way men who are friends do. And I thrilled with joy when each of them came over to wish their little sister Happy Thanksgiving and listen to her with amused affection and leaned over to let me ruffle their hair which felt exactly the same as it had when they were 3,6, 10 years old.  And I just soaked in their camaraderie as they laughed and exchanged stories and jokes about Thanksgiving morning football games they had participated in years gone by and I thought to myself. This is my family.  And honestly looking at all these handsome grown men, I still feel like I’m playing a part of mom to teen-aged boys and a girl who has her boyfriend come over to help with the pies. I can’t quite fathom that it’s real. It feels like I dropped into a Folgers coffee Thanksgiving morning commercial to be honest.

I don’t know if everyone feels like this or if it’s because my life is so very white middle class TV-ad American and I’m still very South African. And I only saw scenes like these on TV rather than in real life?  Or perhaps it’s just because I’m still in denial that my son is older than I was when I got married and so none of this can possibly be because I’m still 19?  I’m still 28 with 4 little children in matching outfits. Aren’t I? And then my husband hands me a cup of coffee and he says, “you made all these people. Can you believe it?” And I’m like…”hey so did you and…nope.”

But instead of feeling weirded out or panicked or wistful or wishful, today I allow myself to soak it in completely. To observe it and feel absolute wonderment and gratitude and joy that this happy, peaceful scene of perfect abundance is mine. Is mine! Is of my making and of my good fortune and of my love and the love of those around me. And of the love and the goodness and the hard work and the faith and the commitment and the forgiveness and kindness of everyone in my family, and everyone who had a supportive role in my family over the years through all of our good times and our many struggles and our day to day conundrums of having too many places to take too many children. Someone always stepped in.  The Universe has shown us a tremendous amount of grace and has  never failed to channel love our way and I don’t know why but I do know that this love is responsible for everything so precious and perfect in my tiny sunny living room.  My tiny very humble living room with it’s random assortment of donated and found furniture and the rug which is actually a big piece of fabric from a bolt I found for $5 at Goodwill and put on a rug mat I found at Big Lots and rejoiced because the widths matched EXACTLY,  this morning and I feel purely and entirely thankful.

At the beginning of this month I was committed to posting something every day. I was derailed by PTSD. I kept writing but it was for me.  And I had many other posts lined up in my drafts for today. But none of them wanted to be published. And long ago I decided that if my heart didn’t beat a little bit more quickly when I considered publishing something I wrote, it was to stay in my personal folders until it did. But here’s something I want you to read it’s by Glennon Doyle and it was written last Thanksgiving Eve:

Here’s what we do tomorrow
We stop trying to be the director of the family show
and we just become an amused audience member

we jump on stage when it’s our line
we let everybody in the family play their role

we stop fixing, cajoling, judging, and lobbying

we stop hoping so hard and start accepting

we let it all be.

And here’s something I want you to know. I have a beautiful, blessed life. And I am thankful for it. And a good deal of the time I also struggle with feelings of great sadness and I struggle with them so that I can enjoy the abundance that is real. And I’m getting so much better at winning those struggles but less than 48 hours ago I lay sobbing like a very little girl in my bed, under my covers. Feeling very sad and very, very, very alone and scared and lonely.   And I wished nothing more than that all the holidays would just disappear because they trigger my PTSD rather badly sometimes. But I also know that I have a family and I don’t want their holiday legacy to be tainted by PTSD and so I figured out what would make this day the very easiest for me. And that meant deciding to cater in most of the Thanksgiving meal and handle only the parts that a very scared, overwhelmed little girl felt was doable.  And once I made that decision I felt more and more like a functional adult.  So if you are feeling very sad or very alone as you see pictures on social media of big happy families enjoying time together know that we all have our struggles. Everything is not as it seems.  Be very, very kind to yourself. Do whatever you need to do to stay alive and to be present and to enjoy the abundance that is in front of you. Because it is present for all of us in some form or another. Even if it is just a comfortable place to sit, a hot cup of coffee, running water and a bed where we can rest undisturbed. Shelter from storms and from vermin. Somewhere we can go to get food.  Whatever it is, recognize it and rest in that abundance and ask nothing else from yourself. And if you simply can’t see any abundance because the sadness is just that overwhelming and the fear and panic feelings are just too real, withhold any judgment. Talk to yourself as if you would a small frightened precious child. Because that is who you are. And assure yourself that this too shall pass. And yes the feelings may come back over and over again but there will be breaks in the clouds and there will be sunshine and you only have to handle what is right in front of you on this day. And then find a distraction if you can. A friendly face, something to laugh at, something to do. Move your body. Get outside even if it is just to take the trash out.  See if you can help a neighbour in any small way. All these things help. They helped me a lot in the last 48 hours. We can do this. I hope you can feel my love and my warmth and my reassurance because it’s meant just for you dear reader.

Much love.

K

The Person Who Inspires Me Most

You guys, I’m kinda nailing this November blogging thing. I’m just saying.

OK. SO:

You know those people who don’t get impressed by anything? Well that’s not me. Life can be hard and people are amazing. There are so many people who leave me breathless with their resilience, brilliance, bravery, dedication, creativity, strength, willpower, patience, capacity to love.  Over time, particularly in the last couple of years my inner circle has become extremely small and tight and there is not a single person inside of it who doesn’t completely blow me away in some regard on a daily basis.  I feel like that’s a good rule of thumb for who you want in your inner circle. You want your inner circle to make you smile from the inside out, to light up your soul in some way. You want your chosen people to be the type of people who make you drift away for a moment when you are interacting with them because you are marveling over how incredibly lucky you are to have them in your life.

Sometimes I will mention to a friend how I have replayed something they have said or done in my mind when the going gets tough and I need inspiration.  Usually they have completely forgotten the incident they had a part in which was so inspiring to me (that’s good to remember, you never know who you are inspiring and how).

I am inspired by people I know and love also by people I don’t know. Today, I watched the NYC marathon and got teary eyed along with everyone else as the female winner pumped her fist in triumph when she realised she had won. The first American woman in 40 years to do so.

Ripped from the pages of my facebook feed:
Her “FUCK YES ✊🏻!!!!” as she sprinted at the line…gave me a total lump in my throat. So I pretty much always root for the African but it was so apparent that she was having that one in a million perfect dream come true when every oz of everything you have sacrificed and suffered comes through for you at just the right moment experience and that kind of magic…it’s just an absolute privilege to watch. 

Clearly, I can never relate to the thrill of being an elite major marathon winner, but I can most certainly relate to what it feels like when all the work pays off and you are also blessed with a good running day. Running is so unpredictable and in the course of 26.2 miles alongside thousands of other people, anything can happen to derail your dreams but today, it all fell into place for Shalane Flanagan and that was magical and so inspiring. Just the shot in the arm I needed as I have been struggling with a fearful and pessimistic mindset in my own marathon training. I want to feel some of that joy again. It’s absolutely intoxicating. She was every little girl who had a dream’s hero today.

But if you were to ask me which person I think of the most often when I am really at rock bottom, when the tank is empty, when I can’t get out of bed, when I feel like the worst, most useless or ridiculous human being in the world and I really need to get over that and get on with it. The person who comes to mind is…..

Me.

Why? Because there is nobody I know more intimately.  There is no one whose struggles I am more closely acquainted with.  There is no struggle I can relate to better than my own. I know exactly what I have overcome, and how often I have triumphed in tiny and big ways. Sometimes it’s as small as getting out of bed, and forcing myself to do some household chores before I collapse back into bed to sleep off the grips of a PTSD episode, sometimes it is taking my tired self out into the freezing cold to complete a difficult run, other times it’ humbling myself on the mat as I get tossed around like a rag doll at jiu jitsu or being content to look completely inept at boxing, sometimes it’s as big as giving birth or completing a 1/2 marathon or naming and facing my biggest demons, standing up to my abusers, walking away from things which are breaking me.  But every time something hard comes along, and I fear I will not be able to handle it, the most powerful and effective thing I know to do is remembering all the times I did.

Reminding myself that I have survived 100% of my worst most difficult days, and I will survive this too.  Allowing myself permission to start over, to ask for forgiveness from others, to accept forgiveness from myself.  Reminding myself that this too shall pass, like all the times it did before.  Conjuring up memories of all the times I thought I was done for, when in fact I wasn’t.

Let me be very clear. I don’t believe I’m any better than anyone else. But I know that my victories are hard won and I know they are legit.

Which is why, as I get older and wiser, the days when I’m feeling ok or maybe even better than ok, I try to make hay while the sun shines. I try to do as much as I can. I try to stretch myself, move out of my comfort zone, face a fear, do something new, express my love and appreciation fearlessly. I try to deposit as much as I can into  the Bank of Mama Said There Would Be Days Like This.

So that when those rainy impossible days do come, I can make those withdrawals from my archives of badassery, and I can remind myself of how awesome I am and how brave and tough and strong and fierce I can be when I need to be.

Here’s my advice. Surround yourself with your heroes, always be looking for new ones, but most importantly, be your own.
xoxo








Saturday morning musings. Mormon Regrets? I have a few. Or do I?

This morning as my husband brought me coffee in bed, I mapped out my running schedule for the weekend, knowing I had two full days at my disposal. He mentioned that he had bumped into a former member of our Mormon congregation at the coffee shop and their pleasant interaction,  “Oh good for them! Enjoying that coffee life too!” I exclaimed as I sipped my fresh cup of happiness. And then of course, I commented to him for the millionth time how much more wonderful life is now….

Once again my mind wandered back to a specific moment of one of the many, many times since childhood where I questioned the Mormon church. On this specific day, we had been dressed up in our Sunday best. But it wasn’t a Sunday morning, it was a Saturday night. We were preparing to go to some church event, missing a community function we would have much preferred to be at, and we also had to do our grocery shopping before we left for the church function, because we knew we would be home late in the evening and we wouldn’t be able to shop the next day, it being the Sabbath. I was stressed realizing that once again we had forgotten to get one of our son’s new church shoes and he was going to be stuffing his feet into something 3 sizes too small.  In my tired resigned state I  remarked to my husband, “can you imagine how mad we are going to be when we get to the other side and realize that all of this was for nothing? It was all bullcrap?” (I swore significantly less in those days)   He laughed and shrugged it off. This was a half serious joke I had made since childhood.  My mom’s answer for that was always, “so what if it is? Can you think of a better way you could have spent your life?”

Um. Yes. Yes I could.   The truth is, that I didn’t. I was raised and I raised most of my children for a good portion of their lives in the Mormon church. It is what it is, for good and for ill. And there’s a really good chance that a good portion of it was for good. But we will never know. I have at least one child who deals with a lot of emotional fallout from what I now realize was super inappropriate overreach, controlling, guilt inducing, toxic nonsense. And as a parent I take responsibility for allowing his exposure to that, even encouraging it. I give myself grace though because I was doing the best I knew at the time. I truly was. And so were the people in the church, and they still are. Still, it messed with my kid’s mind to an extent that my kid has had a really tough time since. But that’s ok because when we are supported through struggle we become powerful to help others in turn.

Do I regret all the Sundays I spent stressed, miserable, triggered. Shooting dagger eyes at adorable normal little children we were forced to “sit and be reverent” for the lion’s portion of 3 hours? Yes. I absolutely do.  With all my heart I would like to go back, put those sweet precious little children in comfortable clothing and let them spend all sunday playing outside or going to a church where they learned only about a loving God who expected nothing from them but for them to love as fully and completely as their little hearts could muster. And that this love should start with loving themselves.

Do I regret the relationships they had with older people in lieu of geographically absent and disinterested grandparents ? No I don’t . I am so grateful for every kind, invested, generous and loving older member of our church congregation who gave my children a sense of belonging, of inter-generational family. When Finny would cry because his best friend had two doting and geographically close grandma’s and his grandma didn’t even visit when his baby sister was born, I could point out all the people who did visit. Who did care. Who did love him and lived close enough to show him so.  We formed those relationships through church, nurtured them through weekly attendance and miss them now. Those things were categorically good.

Would my children have been as well behaved, as driven, as responsible as kind to each other if we hadn’t based our parenting on the very specific frameworks set up within the LDS church designed to keep families in touch with each other, high achieving and focused on a common purpose? We were pretty good at playing the Mormon game, I won’t lie. And so I can’t honestly say. I don’t honestly know. I would like to believe that I would have been just as good and focused of a mom and I have a dreadful suspicion that I actually might have been a much better mom without all that pressure and with the assistance of coffee and the lack of permanent crippling guilt and strain of a hundred million expectations (as if raising 5 kids without any extended family assistance whatsoever, is not loaded enough). But I just cannot honestly say.  I see our non-Mormon friends and their happy successful families, their kind, high achieving children, and it’s hard to connect the dots from being a good Mo to having a good family, but truly. There is no way to know how it all might have turned out for us ours and since I feel really grateful for where we currently are as a family, I’m willing to give credit to the church if it’s due.

Here’s what I can say. I can say that life now is so damn good and that I might never have known and fully appreciated, no, cherished how unbelievably wonderful an ordinary life in its simplest form as an autonomous guilt-free adult can be.

How incredibly pleasant it is to live free from the shackles of responsibilities that don’t feel right, that don’t make sense that feel controlling and nonsensical. How blissful it is to drink a hot black cup of coffee and feel nurtured, encouraged and enlivened by that.  How fun it is to enjoy a couple of drinks with friends and feel truly relaxed and enjoy the fact that they too are feeling truly relaxed because life is bloody stressful sometimes and I’ve always said that I can party just as well sans alcohol and oh boy, can I! But not everybody is like me and I like to see others getting that little bit of assistance to have fun too. That’s really fun for me.

Without being a lifelong Mormon, I would never have known the pure and simple joy and elation it is to know on Saturday night that we have a full day on Sunday to work, or relax, or shop, or run.  A whole extra day to spend enjoying each other instead of the tense mornings spent snapping at each other, getting to church late, being judged for getting to church late, spending 3 hours feeling miserable, hypocritical, judgmental, angry, guilty, bored stiff, exhausted, and being cut in half by control top hose . (I do miss the weekly opportunity to wear heels though).   The relief of spending Sundays productive and happy at home rather than going home to a trashed home and a frantic feeding frenzy with a van load of irate, low blood sugared children. Sweet, impressionable, good kids who had not often, but definitely sometimes, been thoroughly mistreated by frustrated resentful exhausted teachers of their own, (or occasionally by completely deranged people who were allowed to teach kids when it was clear they were wrecking their own children in spectacular ways. UGHH. but those are few and mercifully, far between).

Without the Mormon church, I doubt I would be just coming into my own at age 40 and 41 when a lot of people are feeling as if they are fading.  I don’t understand that sense at all. I’m constantly thrilled at how much I feel in my prime at this age and I’m sure that having this huge weight lifted from my shoulders has been the most rejuvenating experience ever. I think it shows up in my face, in my attitude, in my energy level, in the way I feel about myself now, in the way I carry my body. I’m pretty sure that leaving the Mormon church has given me an an unusual new lease on life for a woman of my age or honestly, of any age. I may have more lines around my eyes now, but I’m almost sure they are from laughing more.  Why do I feel such a huge sense of freedom and joie de vivre in my femininity suddenly? Well. For instance:  Instead of wearing bizarre, uncomfortable and restrictive Mormon underwear dictating my fashion choices and reminding me that my sexuality and my body somehow doesn’t quite belong to me. I am finally free to wear my own lingerie. And that feels pretty damn awesome. DO YOU REALISE THAT I WAS AN ADULT OF ALMOST 40 who did not have the option of wearing my own lingerie? Not if I wanted to be with my family forever?  (Go ahead laugh out loud reading that because I’m with you but up until pretty recently, it was a life and eternal death matter, you guys!

Do you understand how liberating it might feel to a woman to finally be able to pick out  her own style of panties? Or to not have to worry about wearing anything to sleep in? Do you know that endowed, temple going (family forever brand Mormons) are required to wear long underwear day and night. Some members take it off for showering and sex only (and they put it right back on post-coital…fun times!!)

I thank the Mormon church for the fact that after being required to wear garments both day and night, sleeping in nothing or next to nothing every night feels like the most luxurious thing of all time. No 800 thread count sheets required. No island vacation required. Every time I get into bed I feel the sublime joy and freedom of a kid skinny dipping in the moonlight. My husband certaintly isn’t sad about it.

Without the Mormon church I don’t think I would be as effective a mother to teenagers as I am today because I understand first hand in a very vivid and recent way that feeling controlled can be suffocating to a person.  That extreme expectations do not help, they hurt. That hypocrites telling you want to do will only make you really really mad and extra rebellious. I have learned the great value in not preaching to kids, not trying to enforce a one size fits all morality on them. I have learned the value of allowing them to make mistakes and of helping them to know that mistakes do not make a man (or woman). I have learned how much better we do as a family when I do not sweat the small stuff. I have learned that a family can be even more united and loving without bringing them together in prayer, without forcing them to gather at inconvenient hours to read from ancient scriptures in language which rings and hollow and irrelevant to most children and teens but instead taking the time to laugh with them over the Office and agonize with them about their problems.

There are Mormon families who seem to have cracked the code. Who don’t feel oppressed or stressed by the expectations. Who find comfort and guidance in the rules. Who have found the sweet spot where they feel all the love and none of the guilt and are able to help their kids find that sweet spot too. I rejoice for them. I do. I bear no ill will for Mormons just doing the best they can and not encroaching on the rights of others. None at all.  I know so many women and wives who genuinely feel blessed by the opportunity to send their kids far away for 2 years with virtually no contact or to give up their husbands to church service for huge portions of their children’s lives.  It works for them. It breaks my heart to even contemplate but they seem genuinely happy. So..ok then. Thank god I only have to worry about living my own life. (That’s new too 😉

And as for me and my house. It’s the heathen life for us. We are delighting in the hedonistic pleasures of the living the “worldly” life which is somehow just suddenly so simple…and it actually feels more wholesome. It really and truly does.  We delight in loving whomever we want to love and allowing others the unequivocal right to do the same. In speaking breathing and believing with no more cognitive dissonance. We are grateful for the lazy Sunday mornings together. We find tremendous joy in parenting our sons and daughters as young autonomous men and women without the expectation that they become missionaries and mothers.  We are are basking in finally feeling fully free and alive. This works for us.  The Mormons quote scripture very often referring to the beauty and necessity of Opposition in All Things.  We have pain so that we may enjoy pleasure.  Well said. Well said.

Regrets are more or less useless. And so, in the end I choose to dwell on none. I am grateful for my path and if it is grace that has led me to this place, it will lead me home too.

Amen, and amen.  Happy Saturday

(this post counts for Friday, I bet I’ll do another before the day is out because I said I was going to do a post a day and I mean what I say…until I get too tired and I want to lie in bed drinking wine and watching Riverdale.)

On the road less traveled, 13 year old FBI agents and other stuff I’m happy about..

In past Novembers I made a habit of posting 5 things I was grateful for every day of the month. This always made November my favourite blogging month because it’s just so much fun to reflect on everything that is awesome about your life.  
Lately, I’ve  tried to make a habit of doing that when I wake up. I have an active and often difficult, troubling and disturbing dream life which means that I’m not always feeling swell when I first wake up. When I remember the dreams it’s easy to start ruminating and getting lost in sadness or trauma and it’s an awful way to start the day. I’ve actively started replacing negative thoughts with thoughts of people I love, funny interactions I have had, sweet little moments between my kids, whatever comes to mind when I direct my head in that direction. The more I do it, the more natural it becomes. But it’s still so nice to have it on record and to share these things from time to time.
I”m not sure if I will do the 5 things on the blog every day of this month because I have so many other things I want to post about this month. We will see. But here are 5 things I’m grateful for today:
People who love me at my worst. This has been a tough week for me and I have had some truly monstrous moments. When I am experiencing a PTSD setback and I am triggered and act awful, nobody could hate me more than I hate myself. It’s a terrible feeling and could easily spiral into a cycle of self loathing and hopelessness. But I am so incredibly lucky to have true blue, ride or die people in my life who are gracious enough to ride out the storm with me even when it’s blowing straight into their faces. To be loved when you are being completely crazy and unlovable is the most healing thing I know of and is something I do not take for granted.

Every time I take the road less traveled 
I saw this scene in the woods when I went running yesterday. My run finally took place after an endless internal struggle  followed by a comedy of errors, stomping around the house in trying to find all the gear I needed (it turned out I was wearing it all along) and the line from Robert Frost’s poem immediately came to mind.
You guys, its so much easier not to do the hard things, not to stick with the program, to give up on on dreams because of the daily grind required to accomplish them. And every time time we do the harder thing we are taking the road less traveled and it really does make all the difference.  I’m so grateful to be in a place where my choices are once again my own. That I have the power and strength to push through the resistance is such a huge gift, so hard won through such a hard fight by so many people on my behalf.
Magical little moments when Ella brings me a book that she has written and put together regarding the joys of it being November 1st. There is just so much to love about this and it’s hard to remember anything else not being completely perfect when I am present to this type of goodness.

A 13 year old son who took on a mammoth sink load of dirty dishes completely on his own initiative while I lay in bed sleeping off my body’s attempt to get sick this afternoon. (I will not get sick because my 13 year old let me sleep and did the dishes and getting sick after that would be the epitome of ingratitude.  Also, he had the best Halloween costume ever as an FBI agent making the type of arrest dreams are made of.
Ongoing traditions and people to share them with. As the kids get older, the traditions evolve slightly but it’s a credit to the organizers of these events and the friendships we have formed that the seniors in high school show up to hang out and hand out candy just as predictably as they did when we were pulling them door to door in wagons.  This is a beautiful thing and I am so grateful and moved that my kids have had the safe happy childhood that they have enjoyed thanks to this village.

Adventures in Float (Sensory Deprivation) Therapy.

It’s November you guys and I’m totally back. I know that’s my line but…hey..

No seriously. This time it’s going to stick. I have missed my blogging so terribly much. So. Terribly. Much.  I have such a backlog of posts in drafts. I have been typing away like a fiend but for some reason I have had such a mental block about getting back in the blogging saddle. But here I am. I am  here.

Several years ago somewhere on this blog (in a post far away which I cannot find) I waxed wishful and wistful about how desperately I would like to have the experience of floating in a sensory deprivation tank. And then.dreams came true and ..this marvelous place opened not very far from my home right in time for my super intense adventures in PTSD. I had read quite a bit about the benefits of floating for PTSD and since I am all about getting that episode of my life dealt with as quickly and properly as possibly, I made an appointment with alacrity. True REST is the acronym representing Reduced Environment Stimulus Therapy which is somewhat different from the idea of total sensory deprivation. The pods offer lights, music and even iphone hook ups so you can listen to whatever you want. They are also equipped with a two way intercom so you are never without access to someone who can answer questions or help you out should you need them.

Just the aesthetics of the True REST float spa are enough to attract anyone looking for some calm and serenity. This glowing orb filled with warm water is nothing short of mesmerizing. MESMERIZING I SAY.  But let’s start at the beginning because the whole thing is An Experience.

When you check in, you trade in  your shoes for flip flops, then you are escorted to the Oasis room where there is all manner of soothing stuff going on. Adult colouring books, soothing instrumentals, herbal tea, fireplace.  It’s the stuff overstimulated mom’s dreams are made of.  At the appointed time you are escorted back to your very own “suite”. It’s all very zen and minimalist.  You shower with the provided shampoo, conditioner and soap, and then you slip into this womb like environment. The photos obviously show people wearing swimsuits but you are encouraged to float naked and since your room is completely private there is no reason not to.

I am horribly claustrophobic to the extent that I have made all of my loved ones promise that I will be buried attached to all sorts of bells and cell phones and shovels and such should it turn out that I was just in a deep coma so I was pretty skeptical as to how well I would cope with getting into a pod and closing the lid. Turns out it really isn’t claustrophobic at all. If you want you can leave the lid open as much as you like (I didn’t like because I didn’t want to get chilly) You are free to push it open at any time. You can also control the lighting from blues, greens, reds or plunge yourself into total darkness, which I only managed to deal with for a few moments at a time. It’s just SO dark.  The pod itself is not small or confining you can float around in there very freely.

My first experience really surprised me because I relaxed and almost fell asleep almost immediately and I am the type of person who can only sleep in my own bed under optimal conditions, when thoroughly exhausted. Ugh so high maintenance.  I felt incredibly relaxed after and the sensation lasted for days after but it wasn’t a very intentional experience and by the time my hour was up that day I was more than ready to get out. I was just so unused to lying still without stimuli.

The next time I went I had the intention of dealing with an injury prior to a race. The extremely high salt content is recommended for athletes and I have had a lot of luck preventing injuries by taking regular Epsom salt baths. And this is way, way next level to that.  I found that the nagging pain in my calf was markedly improved after the first float and so I made an appointment for one more the day before my race.

That’s when the real magic happened. The float started out just as the others, I felt relaxed and delightfully weightless but this time I was able to truly meditate in preparation for my race. For a full hour I was able to really check in with each body part. I spent time visualizing each organ and limb functioning smoothly and healthily. I pictured my heart beating steadily and strong, my lungs expanding fully, I focused on each muscle, tendon, bone. I imagined them, strong and healthy, completing each mile effortlessly.  Then I focused on my mind. I pictured myself feeling the great joy of having overcome so much in the last few years and over the course of my life. Going from completely broken and hopeless to going back to being able to complete goals that that required mental toughness, commitment and consistency. I pictured myself filled with joy and gratitude. At the end of my float I had some playful moments, doing the yoga poses of my dreams in the weightless environment. I felt so completely relaxed and rejuvenated and lo and behold. The pain I had been dealing with for weeks was gone. Entirely gone just in time for my race.  I carried this sense of peaceful, calm confidence in my body and serenity and joy in my mind throughout next 24 hours and my race was truly the stuff that running dreams are made of.  I felt so totally in synch with my body and completely joyful and pain free throughout. I had no anxiety, paced myself perfectly and felt truly triumphant and at peace from beginning to end.

I honestly cannot speak highly enough of the benefits of the float tank. The whole experience is so serene, nurturing, healing and uplifting.  If you are dealing with excess stress physically, mentally, emotionally. If you are dealing with PTSD (the Perrysburg location offers special pricing packages for veterans), if you are an athlete trying to avoid or heal from injury, if you have a chronic condition or illness, this is for  you.  If you like time to yourself, would be interested in taking your meditation to the next level or are just curious as to what this otherworldly womb like state could do for your mind and body, this is for you. Did I mention that they have an oxygen  bar that you can hook up to after your float session? And a beautiful, well appointed dressing room where you can dry your hair, reapply make up and gradually re-enter the real world? It has FLAVOURED oxygen. It’s so incredibly Hollywood!  For more pictures, locations close to you reviews and videos as well as to take advantage of the packages being offered this month be sure to check out their facebook page. 

**I was so impressed with my experience that I felt moved to reach out to True Rest to see if they would be interested in a collaboration to get the word out.  While I have been compensated for this post, all of  the opinions expressed are unsolicited and genuine. 

Stuff I Learned By Going To Mexico With Internet Strangers. By Kirsty. Aged 41.


I came across this passage recently and I thought about a recent experience which would make a real case for it being legit advice. Lots of people

have asked for the story behind my trip to Mexico with internet strangers and so I figured it was time to tell you all about it.

A couple of months ago, I was feeling really angry and stuck in my life. I was feeling as though I had missed out on many opportunities through no true fault of my own. In short I was really focusing on my story of victim-hood and in a mental space of loss and scarcity and I was pouring a lot of energy into finding people to be mad at and things to blame for it.  That’s always a great use of one’s time and it totally draws people to you, I highly recommend it if you wish to feel miserable, have toxic relationships and stop being invited to places.
Every so often though the Universe decides to give you just one more chance and in my fury  (which by the way is perfectly justified and had been triggered by a perfectly valid thing and all of that blah blah blah…..for what all that is worth, WHICH IS LITERALLY NOTHING). One day I just reached overflowing with the pent up resentment and rage and to my surprise I verbalized what was really bothering me. Basically, I was mad that I hadn’t seen more of the world. Because that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little tiny girl. I wanted to see a lot of the world. And so I said it.  I wanted to travel, I needed more adventure in my life. I had the time, the health, the energy, but I didn’t have the cash. I didn’t just verbalize this to my therapist or in my journal. Oh no.  I mused over this conundrum on Facebook. How does someone without much expendable income get to see the world? Putting stuff on Facebook is the equivalent of putting it out into the universe. Whether you have 4 friends or 4000 over there,  recognize that what you put out into the world there carries weight and energy. This is something I often forget and I need to regroup and think about all the time. Because we do have a responsibility for our output of energy. More on that another time 😉 
The response I got was quick and overwhelming. There were hundreds of options for someone in my position and most of them were actually smart and feasible. All of them required a little sacrifice of the comfort zone. That’s the first secret about getting the stuff you think you want, moving to the reality you are dreaming about. It’s only logical that it means sacrificing your current reality. And that’s often a shock to people. They think they want stuff but when it comes down to it, they prefer to just be safe and want it from afar and think about reasons why they can’t have it so they don’t have to take responsibility for not getting it.  I was coming up with all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t do the things the people were suggesting and they were all lame but they suited me,  because then I could stay bitter and in my comfort zone. 
Then a message popped into my facebook messenger.
“OK Where do you want to go?” A friend I had met through the Nasty Women Project book.   And look, honestly, I mean friend in really, the  loosest sense of the word. I knew her name. And I knew she was funny and smart and forthright and I got the instinct that she was honest. We’d had a  handful of conversations on facebook messenger before. I didn’t know what she did for a living, I didn’t know where she lived or whether she had a pet. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know if she had kids. I have developed some really intimate online relationships over the years but that wasn’t this. 
So back to the question at hand. “So Where Do You Want To Go?” The Universe was answering my call with a direct question. It was calling my bluff. 
 
Me: “Ummmm…lol?”
 
The Universe in the form of goddess new friend laid out her plan. She was going to Mexico in a few weeks for a week. Did I want to accompany her?  I would have to pay an unthinkably small amount and she was even fronting the costs. I checked the flights to her hometown in Nevada. We’d be driving the rest of the way to Mexico together.  Screaming deals. If I sacrificed a few personal things I had been budgeting for…I could make this happen.  Within 10 mins I had confirmed with her. I didn’t talk to anyone else about it.  I just decided. This was happening.  “Oh HELL YEAH, I’m in”
 I typed back.    I think we were both in total shock.
After she had booked my room she sent me a link to where we’d be staying.  We would be in a timeshare resort on the Sea of Cortez. I screamed like a little girl. “THE SEA OF CORTEZ?”
When I was a little girl I had become captivated by a book called The Girl of the Sea of Cortez. I don’t know why. It just spoke to me.  That little girl was such a badass. She was so free and so capable and so strong. She discovered amazing things on her fishing adventures, all alone. When I read that book I could feel the sun on my back and smell the salty air. I have always been passionate about the ocean and while Lake Michigan offers beautiful beaches there is nothing like the wild ocean of my South African childhood to make me feel equal parts serene and excited. I even used to spit into my swimming goggles to keep them from clouding up because I read about her doing that in her diving mask. It seemed like a confirmation from Universe.
Go make your little girl dreams come true, chica. Do little Kirsty proud.  So that’s what I did.
Let’s look at the excuses I had for not doing this thing:
1. Um, strangers. Mexico. What? Who does that? It’s irresponsible and dumb.
2. Um. You have five kids. One of them is starting first grade. Another is having a really tough summer. All of them would probably prefer you to be around as they start a new school year.  Who abandons their kids to have fun in Mexico at the start of the school year? 
Who does that? It’s irresponsible and un-maternal.
3. Um. You are poor. Did you forget? You have like 5 kids and they need everything. Plus two of them have birthdays this month. This is the poorest time of year ever for you. You can barely pay for groceries so why don’t you go buy a plane ticket right now? Who does that? It’s irresponsible and crazy.
4. Um. You are married. Your husband works hard .This is so not fair to him to dump him with the burden of 5 kids getting ready for school and also the financial hardship of one more thing. 
Who does that? It’s irresponsible  and selfish.
5. Um. If you don’t mind me saying..you have a lot of issues. You are just finally getting to a really healthy place. What if this experience is terrible and triggering and you have a total spiral and lose all the great progress you’ve made and it’s a nightmare for everyone. It’s irresponsible and imma just throw in crazy because that’s the word we’ve all been thinking this whole time.
So I wrestled with this nonsense for a couple of days. I embraced them in my go-to safe mode of “Be Self Destructive”.  Then I consulted with those I love and trust and got their full support and encouragement to say fuckit to my Safe/Self Destruct Mode.  And this is what I came away with.
Reasons Why All Those Excuses Are Bullshit
1. I have good instincts. If I feel unsafe in any way, I am capable of getting out of harms way.
2. My kids, particularly my daughters, need to see me doing the types of things I want them to feel free to do when and if they become mothers. Because moms who are martyrs do nobody any favours. Martyr moms are the worst and they won’t see that bullshit modeled by me. 
3. I must do this precisely because I am stretched thin financially, and the opportunity to go to Mexico for a week for this little financial outlay might well never present itself again.
4. My husband loves me and wants me to have a good time and is extraordinarily capable of holding down the fort and will only feel the brunt of my resentments if I don’t do this. 
5. I do have a lot of issues. And I’ve worked really hard to successfully overcome them. And if more issues result I have faith that I will do what I need to do to overcome those too.
At the end of the day, this is a simple trip to Mexico not Mars right? It’s not a big deal  But I see, so, so many people, women in particular  being inclined to make doing anything for themselves into a great big fat impossible deal. And so they sit in their safety zone, or they make a martyr of themselves and they tell themselves they had no other choices. “Life is just like that.” 
When in fact they made life like that. 
Ok if you are sick of reading already here’s a spoiler alert: I ended up having the most sublime time. I connected with the two other woman with the greatest of joy and ease, before we even started driving to Mexico my abs were sore from laughing so hard, and I honestly see them as soul mates now. I could not have asked for more hilarious, kind, stimulating, accepting, fun  travel mates. The goddess in the middle is the one who made it all happen. Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful as well as generous. 
 
 I also connected with myself. One day I spent an hour running on the beach and another hour exploring it and all of it’s thrilling offerings in total solitude.  I felt the most simple, profound, uncomplicated child-like wonder and joy. My soul felt weighed down by nothing. I’ve never been under the influence of you know…fun drugs so if I sound high right now it’s just on life. 😉
 
Here’s the truth. Having achieved my childhood dream, I felt filled with nothing but clear, bright light. I was perfectly warm, felt perfectly safe, was perfectly at peace and one hundred percent in that moment. I will treasure that memory always and forever and I brought home an ember of it and the desire to stoke that feeling often.
The far left picture was taken after my solo 10K run and subsequent exploration on the beach. The far right picture was taken after my first dip in the Sea of Cortez. It was at sunset and the sea was pink and the sky was pink and the sea FELT LIKE BATH WATER. And it was so calm. And I was talking to my new sisterfriends as we bobbed gently up and down in the pale pink swells and I was like, “is this real life?”  Another moment I don’t even want to forget.

  As a child I remember telling someone that the only reason I could see for being wealthy would be to help people and to travel wherever you wanted whenever you wanted.  I can’t think of any better way to learn about yourself, spend your money or enliven your mind and soul. I can’t wait to travel and travel and travel some more. My child-self knew what makes me tick.
I am so incredibly grateful for the generosity of an internet “stranger”.  It should also be noted that we would never have connected were it not for difficulty, strife and trauma.  Were it not for shitty stuff in my past. Were it not for me addressing that shitty stuff to the extent that I could put it in its place and move forward.  Were it not for being willing to be uncomfortable and exposed and scared and write about that shitty stuff and have it published in an effort to help others. Were it not for the horrible outcome of the election. Were it not for my frustration and anger the day I posted my “I want to travel but I have no money” post on facebook. Were it not for me verbalizing what I wanted from from my life. Were it not for somebody following through on a kind instinct to help me out. Were it not for a leap of faith from all parties. Were it not for the kindness of my incredibly supportive “village” at home. Were it not for the friends who told me to get over myself and Just Do It.  This is how dreams are achieved.
I know this is kinda a random selfie but it makes me smile all the way through me when I see it. I took this picture in the pitch dark with a flash as I was stargazing and laughing to tears with my friends on the beach one night. We saw so many constellations and shooting stars between our hysterical bouts of laughter. The last time I saw that many stars I was about 12 years old and I had woken up on a camping trip to see them blazing above me and I was in absolute awe. That night I felt the same awe and joy. And  I love that this picture captures exactly how I felt.
 
As always I overpacked. Drastically.  And it made me so, so mad (more on that later. It’s a Whole Thing with me). But I intentionally packed my orange stilettos because to me those shoes  represent girls night out if a shoe ever did. And I knew that I needed a proper girls night out and that these shoes would insist to be worn on such.  I shared this with my new friends and they committed to helping me to have a tangerine stiletto moment. I got to wear them on my last night, back in Phoenix. And after a week wearing nothing but flip flops,  I needed assistance walking to and from the car in them. But I could not drag those damn things back home unworn. I Could Not. And I’m glad I didn’t. Actually, I ended up leaving them for my friend to enjoy wearing all Arizona Winter long. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Stiletto.  I do not recommend overpacking or bringing stilettos to Mexico, but if you do, make the best of it. Have your moment. 
 
Hey did you know that we were celebrating the 50th birthday of that hottie in the front? Which is mesmerizing to me because she looks half my age. She’s also the funniest, smartest. kindest most generous person ever. 
 
Ok. Here’s something else. Let’s look past my gleaming forehead and talk about my dress. I LOVED this dress.  It was so light and so comfortable and so fun to wear…and doesn’t it look so Greek?  That’s because it was Made In Greece! Did you know I’m 1/4 Greek? So basically it was made in Greece For Kirsty.  I found it at Goodwill just before I left, and I almost didn’t buy it. Because you know, it was like a whole $5 and I was feeling strapped for cash so I wasn’t sure about it.  Sometimes I make really poor decisions in the name of frugality, I’m glad this dress wasn’t one of them because I would have regretted it for a long time. That sort of silly self deprivation is called sabotage and I am resolved to stop giving into it because that’s not virtuous, that’s just sad. Enough of all that nonsense. Enough I say! When you find a beautiful comfortable Greek goddess dress from Greece? Buy the damn thing. Even if you aren’t Greek and it doesn’t cost $5.
 One more thing. I felt relaxed finally, on a cellular level in a way I think you can only be relaxed when you are truly accepting of your body and your right to adorn it or cover it however you truly feel most comfortable. Think about the way you would dress if you were totally alone on your private beach and the sun felt just perfectly right and you could feel it soaking up into your bloodstream and your bones making you feel stronger and happier by the second.  Even though I’m naturally pretty uninhibited and fairly accepting regarding my body, and I wear as little clothing as possible in the comfort of my own space,  I’ve lived most of my life in the confines of some pretty extreme ideas on modesty and no matter how silly you think those ideas are,  they do tend to stick with you for a while. Add those to the typical western female body hangups and being in public in a swimsuit has felt really stressful and steeped in all sorts of self shaming for as long as I can remember. For. As. Long. As. I. Can. Remember. Seven years old? Yep.
 
 What I discovered in Mexico is that when you add drinking alcohol to your swimsuit wearing experience, and stare out at the huge big beautiful ocean which has the magical power to make you feel infinite and your problems seem completely insignificant at the same time, you can finally feel totally comfortable and present with the pleasure of just being ALIVE.  And you can just forget about how you look in your bikini. Even though you aren’t at your goal weight, and even though you’ve had 5 kids and there are literally written rules about not wearing two piece swimsuits if you have had any kids, or if you are over a certain age (I’m not sure which age it is but I have strong suspicion it’s long in my rear-view mirror) .  
Staring down those ridiculous rules and then laughing happily in the sun in the face of them is a combination of factors which should be enjoyed by every woman at least once in their life. But preferably every day of their lives. So many women have no idea, have no concept, have no recollection as to what it is to just feel relaxed and happy to be alive and to have the sun on your skin. They have no idea how brilliant it feels to be giving absolutely zero effs  or thought to who else might be watching, or what they may be thinking about your stomach roll or your thigh stretch marks or where the hell your boobs are and what they may be doing at any given time.  You guys. That sense of freedom and acceptance. It’s sublime. Please make it a goal to feel this way sometime soon. One thing: I  guarantee you it won’t come from reaching whatever weight it is you think you should weigh though. So don’t even bother with that.   You don’t even have to be a Mormon first either.  Just put on a swimsuit. Maybe a two piece. Whatever makes you feel natural and comfortable and sexy..  Hell, go nude if it’s allowed. I would have if I’d found the right beach.    And if at first  you don’t feel comfortable wearing that swimsuit, add alcohol until you do, and think about what a gift it is to have a body that can enjoy feeling the sun on it. And once that happens, take a selfie in the flattering light of the sunset and think to yourself, “this was an awesome day, I love being alive and I love the brave, hardworking amazing body I get to live inside of. Yay body, thanks for everything you do for me. You freakin rock “.
 
If that first attempt is a bust,  keep practicing talking to your body kindly as often as you can (yes I know it’s not easy, trust me I’m constantly talking about all the plastic surgery I want between being kind and affirming of myself. I’m really inconsistent with being nice to myself but I reset and try again every day.  It’s a process. We do our best. So keep trying. And then try again.  I predict you will stop needing the alcohol really quickly once you get the hang of it. 
 
Life is very short, my friends and in the words of Jack Kornfield:
“the trouble is, you think you have time”.  None of us are guaranteed more than this day. So ask the Universe for what you want, grab onto it with both hands when it offers it up to you, love yourself, love your people, love your body, love your life. Be grateful.  Let your spirit fly free.  And if there’s a big fat heavy rock sitting on the lid of your box of dreams and your ability to do any of these things, do the work to get it off.  It’s hard but it’s worth it. Don’t wait. There’s no time for that. It’s time to take off and fly babies. xoxoxo.

 

 
 

On Being Fiercely 40 (now that I’m 41)

Darlings. Look at this! A blog post! I had to do it. For posterity. By the time I finish and publish this post I will be celebrating my non-official birthday and will have completed my 40th year on this mortal coil.

And what a year it was, yo.

Honestly? I have lost track of time and space this year. So much has happened it feels like at least 10. Which isn’t a bad way to go when you are 40 and 40 happens to have been your favourite year so far.

I have always heard women proclaiming that their lives began at 40 and everything fell into place and it was the literal best and I was like..the lady doth protest too much, methinks. BUT I AM HERE TO TELL YOU IT IS ALL TRUE.

Which is not to say for a single second that 40 has been one big joyful skip in the meadow of serenity. Not so much. Not at all. I mean when I think back on the year I feel really happy and good about it but apparently lots of shit went down (which I know cognitively and I can even identify to be all too true for several moments like earlier today around 2pm as I sat in my empty bath, fully clothed texting  “FML” messages to a friend).

HOWEVER. HOW.EVER my general sense is that this year has been awesome and that isn’t because it has been easy because it hasn’t all been easy.  It’s just that I feel like me.  And I’m (finally) cool with who I am. All messy and twisty and volatile and angry and peaceful and kind and bitchy and hurt and healed and wise and ridiculous and immature and disciplined and driven and lazy and cool and sexy and dorky and insecure and confident and self loathing and confused and clear thinking. All of me. I’m down with it. I finally am who I am and I love this crazy broad I call Myself.  Yes I do. And I make no apologies for whatever it is I am on any given day because…I am who I am. And that’s what 40 looks like. That’s the gift it’s brought me. Accepting that I am who I am and working within that acceptance to be the best version of me that I can muster on any given day. And some days that looks like just getting out of bed (or getting into bed and staying away from the defenseless public).

Other stuff I love about being 40/41? I’m fortunate enough to be healthy and active and old enough to know how lucky I am to be healthy and active and experienced enough to be good to my body and treat it with the respect it deserves instead of doing crazy things to make it look a certain way I listen to it so that it can feel and function a certain way.  I’m not even going to pretend that I don’t care about how it looks. I want it to look as good as it feels, and when it doesn’t I get frustrated and I’m not sorry about that either. I think enjoying the way we look and feeling confident in our skin is nothing to be ashamed of and certainly something to strive for.  

I’m just not willing to do weird stupid things in the pursuit of appearance at the expense of being able to enjoy life.  I have never enjoyed being inside of my body more than I have this year.  And I know these are jinxing words and I know that this might sound braggy or insensitive to those who are struggling with health issues but please do know that I cherish every moment when I am challenging myself physically or just feeling relaxation or the good type of tired or pleasure in its many forms. I don’t take it for granted. I have had long periods where I have struggled with considerable physical pain with illness and crushing fatigue, I know how soul destroying it is.  Having a healthy, vital body to live inside of as I have continued the hard work of healing from PTSD has been a beautiful gift which I appreciate with a great sense of joy and wonder.  This year I have done some sort of yoga almost every day,  I have kept up with running and I feel like I’m the best runner I have ever been since I started running at age 17. 

I finally figured out good form. Seriously, how did I not know how to run properly all these years and miles later?  A few months ago I started going to a mixed martial arts gym. A couple of years ago I would have laughed at the concept. It was so not me. But do you know what? I left my comfort zone and have discovered that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and boxing have been the most fun, healing things I have done in a long time. But more on that later.

And as ever, the  PTSD thing. Man alive that’s a beast! Am I right? However, it’s a beast that can be conquered. With patience and determination and education and support. It can absolutely be conquered. I still struggle mightily some days. Life has a way of just pulling the freaking rug out whenever you think you are nailing it. Life is a total bitch that way.  But here’s what’s hopeful. I still get triggered from time to time and then I hate everything and it’s the worst and I take a moment to do whatever just to stay alive and then…it passes. It. Passes.  There have not been any major spirals into despair. There haven’t been any more weeks/months lost to torturous pain or perhaps worse..total catatonic numbness. There have been excruciatingly painful, confusing, isolating horrible moments, hours, maybe a day or two and one month in particular this year was grueling, but the reprieves have come quickly and regularly. This is profound progress.  Darlings, please listen to me. If you are in the catatonic numbness or the greyness of the days when you wish you could just cease to exist…please know that this too shall pass and with the right help, you are going to experience those times less and less and even when you are in them the edge will not be quite as sharp and the despair will not be as enveloping and terrifying. It honestly does get better.   And none of this is for naught. I have been so honoured to walk beside others on this journey. In places similar to where I am now, or further down or forward on the path of healing.  As an ex-Mormon, a religion which finds meaning in everything and nothing, it was weird to suddenly find myself at a loose end. Having to define my own belief system. Weird is the wrong word. It was devastating and horrifying and terrifying but also liberating AF and ultimately it has brought me so much peace.  My pain means something if I’m willing to use it to hold space for others who are experiencing their own.  And that’s enough for me. I need nothing else to find meaning in my life. I’m here to help with what I’ve learned through suffering. There’s enough struggle and grief in the world to keep me occupied with that for the rest of my days. And they will be days well spent if I do.

Being 40 has given me focus. I have streamlined my life considerably in recent months. My circle is small and tight, my commitments are few and focused, my goals are reasonable and I am patiently tenacious about achieving them. “Patiently tenacious” means that I am learning to adapt when necessary but that I’m not just rambling around in the dark hoping to get shit down. That’s another thing about being 40, there’s definitely a sense of actually actively figuring out how to get shit down rather than just dreaming and hoping about that “one day” when it will all magically fall into place.  I have checked a lot off the old bucket list this year. And once you get into that zone you find that it becomes easier and easier to do.

In summary this year I have loved my life (even when I’ve been cursing it) and I love my people. I am grateful to have lived another year of this brilliantly brutiful life. I have been incredibly fortunate in my circumstances and my relationships.  I so hope that I can live many more just as eventful, exciting, growth filled, humbling, confusing and fully alive as this one.  Thanks for being along for this ride, and for letting me be a part of yours.

And since I drink now (which by the way is really most enjoyable in moderation in case you were wondering), cheers and L’Chaim and bottoms up and all that!

Kisses,
k