Tears…

Tears of joy
Tears of sorrow
Tears of pain

We shed tears for so many different reasons.

As Ben turned and walked away from us for the 5th time since starting college, I found myself surprisingly tearless.

I guess I’m starting to get used to (or numb to) saying “see you later”.  I don’t like it any more now than the first time – but it doesn’t rip my heart wide open in piercing pain like it did the first few times.

Less than 12 hours later, as our plane begins to taxi down the runway, I am blessed with the window view and one last glimpse of the snow capped Rockies.

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That’s when I unexpectedly burst into tears.  But tears of what I wondered?

Tears of emptiness, accepting that I wouldn’t see Ben again for a few months.

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Tears of gratitude for an awesome ski week with my guy and Ben.

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Tears of comfort, knowing Ben is in such a great place – physically, mentally and emotionally.

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Tears of sadness, since I’ll have to wait 9 months until I can ski again.

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Tears of AWE!

As I looked at the majestic peaks of the Rockies, a chill moved through me and I felt God.  I felt him in and around me – and at the very same time – in and around the mountains.

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It was a moment of intensity and calmness, a moment almost too powerful for words to describe.

Does my connection to the mountains make me feel closer to God?  Or does my relationship with God make me feel more connected to the mountains?

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I guess it doesn’t much matter which came first.  What does matter is the fact that I can no longer deny that my heart and soul belongs in the Colorado Rockies.

I can live a beautiful life at the beach.  But in the mountains – my soul sings, my soul dances, and my soul feels so deeply that it sheds tears.

With Gratitude, Joy & Love,

50 Ways to Celebrate 50 Years

I love celebrating birthdays….OTHER people’s birthdays!

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I have this strange  love – hate relationship with acknowledgment.  Sure, it feels good when a friend remembers or offers to celebrate with me, but at the same time, I do NOT like being the center of attention.  Bottom line, I’d rather celebrate someone else’s birthday than my own!

But here I sit, EXACTLY 365 days away from turning 50 – and I’m realizing it’s kind of a big deal.

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Don’t get me wrong!  It’s not that I’m all of sudden seeking or wanting birthday attention.  It’s just that I can’t stop dwelling on this concept of turning 50 YEARS OLD.

It’s technically not the half way point of one’s life (unless they live to be 100), but it IS one half of a century, and that’s a big number to wrap my brain around.

When I was younger, and turning 50 felt a LONG way away – I had a preconceived notion of what that would look like – frumpy, frazzled, middle aged woman, dressed in a stained apron, baking cookies.  Kind of 1950’s – I know!

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Regardless of the picture in my head, my prior belief was that turning 50 was the beginning of the end, the prime had passed and it was all downhill from there!

The good news is…..NONE OF THAT CRAP IS TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here I am, in the best mental and physical shape of my life!  I don’t for a second view this impending birthday as an ending, but rather a beginning.  I feel a sense of freedom that I’ve never had before.  It’s not freedom based on the age of my children, our financial status or having paid my life dues.  It’s an internal freedom – a freedom to do and go and be ME  – authentically!  A freedom to LIVE LIFE without inhibition.

Why the heck am I writing about this today, when I have a whole year before I turn 50?

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Because I’ve decided to not wait until October 27, 2015, my 50th birthday, to celebrate being 50!

If you think about it – TODAY is the first day of my 50th year.  So I’ve declared this a BIRTHDAY YEAR – as such, I will celebrate throughout the entire year!

That’s a little daunting, to say the least.  But also somewhat exciting, with a bit of liberating mixed in.

Looking at the scope of my whole life, it feels kind of like an intermission; a rest period, a break from the action, time to stand up and stretch before hunkering back down for the rest of the show.

Or as my BFF and favorite Aunt Barb called it – my halftime show!  I won’t be hiring a marching band, pom pom girls or baton twirlers – but that doesn’t mean I can’t fill this year with some HOOPLA of my own!

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50 WAYS TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS

  1. Buy fresh flowers
  2. Go dancing – with my husband
  3. Go dancing with my girlfriends – because that’s a whole different experience than #2!
  4. Drive somewhere I’ve never been, using an old fashion road map to get there (NO GPS!)
  5. Stay in my pj’s and watch 3 movies in a row
  6. Spend the night at a bed & breakfast
  7. Open up my memory box – and read every card and diary entry from my childhood
  8. Have (or go to) a Sip & Paint party
  9. Get a facial
  10. Keep a journal / scrap book documenting my celebration this year
  11. Visit a vineyard to experience real wine tasting
  12. Go to the theater to see a play
  13. Dig my flute out of the junk closet and PLAY it again (maybe take lessons?)
  14. Plan a girl’s ski weekend
  15. Make a photo wall – blow up and frame my favorite pictures from the past 50 years
  16. See a ballet
  17. Get tickets to a concert (U2, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5)
  18. Experiment wearing new lipstick colors
  19. Go on a weekend bike trip (New England, Colorado?)
  20. Make chocolate fondue
  21. Travel back home to Connecticut for a walk down memory lane
  22. Buy a convertible sports car – a girl can dream, right?
  23. Take a surfing lesson
  24. Go to the park – and swing
  25. See a live comedian perform
  26. Prepare my childhood favorite dish – Chicken Divan – and don’t attempt to make it Paleo
  27. Grow a vegetable garden – this could fall under the “a girl can dream, right?” category too!
  28. Write a letter to my grandparents – recalling memories I had of them growing up, things that have stuck with me and traditions I have passed onto my children
  29. Drink an expensive (relative to my norm) bottle of wine
  30. Get a tattoo!
  31. Visit an art museum (in Norfolk….or New York?) with Peter
  32. Return to Burlington, VT to reminisce on my college years
  33. Watch the sun rise at the beach

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Clearly my celebration list is a work in progress.  Celebrating me and my life is not something I do naturally.  This will surely be an interesting year as I dabble in and practice this thing called CELEBRATION.  Since today is the first day of my 50th year – I better go get this party started!

with Gratitude, Joy & Love,

We Are All Connected

Writing was not in my schedule for today.  But as life would have it, I had a simple yet profound experience at the grocery store that must be shared!

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After forty-five minutes of walking up and down every aisle, with pen in a hand and my nose buried in the grocery list, I finally made it to the front of the store.  I scanned the checkout stations from left to right, searching for the shortest line, but was distracted by an older lady unloading groceries in the line directly in front of me.  I say older only because of her gray hair.  Everything else about her screamed young and cool.

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She had a short but contemporary hair cut, was sporting fur lined Merrell clogs, denim jeans with a cute cuff and the clincher was her heavily tie dyed hoodie sweatshirt.  Oh yeah – she had me at the tie dye – took me right back to my college days listening to The Grateful Dead in Burlington, Vermont!

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I no longer cared how quickly I could escape the confines of the grocery store.  I just wanted to meet this hipster grandma.  Item by item I unloaded my grocery cart, barely taking my eyes off her in the hopes that she would turn my way and make eye contact so I could tell her how much I loved her tie dye.  Sure, the sweatshirt was the connection, the thing that drew me in, but what I really wanted was to learn the story behind this gray haired woman who moved with the agility of a fit 50 year old and wore swirling bright colors with confidence and ease.

We never made eye contact.  Not once did she turn her head even slightly to the left so I could catch her attention.  I bent down to grab the items under the cart, and when I stood back up, she was already heading through the front door towards the parking lot.

With an audible sigh of disappointment, I realized I had missed the opportunity…..

Then he appeared, standing as though trying to maintain his balance, right behind my grocery cart.  He was the cutest old man, overdue for a shave, dressed in a suit too big for his frail body, holding nothing but a bunch of bananas.  I would have gladly let him go before me, but the cashier had already begun ringing me up.  I glanced back towards him repeatedly, each time feeling a need to offer him a seat, or a hug….or something.  Finally, I gestured to take his bananas and place them on the counter so he wouldn’t have to hold them any longer.

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As though my thoughts and actions were being guided from above, I handed his bananas to the cashier, asked her to ring them up on my tab, and place them in a grocery bag.  As I turned back to give the bananas to him, he mumbled something about needing to get cash.  It occurred to me that he was unaware of what just happened, so I told him I paid for his bananas and he didn’t have to wait in line any longer.  He looked at me puzzled and softly uttered “You did?”.   I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and told him to have a wonderful day.  As suddenly as he had entered my life, he was gone, shuffling out the same door my little old hippie lady had previously departed through.

With an audible sigh of relief, I realized I had created the opportunity….

The feeling of making a difference, of being a contribution to another human being, is almost indescribable.  At best, it is an experience that one must live through and feel to truly understand.

I will never know the difference my banana purchase really made for that sweet old man.  What I know for certain though, is the impact it had on me, affecting me physically, emotionally and spiritually!

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In our world, introductions are just a formality.  We are all connected simply by virtue of our humanity.  Yet we typically live our lives with our heads buried in our grocery list, so to speak.  We proceed through life within the boundaries of our own individual world, thinking about and interacting with only those things that appear to directly affect us.

In so doing, we miss the opportunity to experience our connection with others, to both make a difference and be contributed to.  We miss the magic, the beauty, the gift, the awesomeness that life has to offer!

It’s really so simple.

Choose to interact with the world.

Be intentional about making a difference.

Open yourself up to the possibility that you will receive back twice the gift you give.

Create the opportunity to contribute.

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As I was loading my groceries into the truck, the mini van to my right began to slowly back out.  I glanced over, only to see my hippie grandma in the driver’s seat.  Without a second’s hesitation, I stopped what I was doing and approached her car.  I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity twice!  As she rolled down her window I blurted out how I’d been admiring her tie dye sweatshirt in the checkout line.  The rest of what I said to her was a blur as my words poured out fast and furiously, seizing this opportunity.  She smiled with both her mouth and her eyes, saying more in that look than words could ever capture.

As we parted, I was left with a sense that we had both experienced a simple, almost inconsequential moment….and yet we had given each other an undefinable gift that still lingers with me.

We gave each other the gift of LOVE.

with Joy, Gratitude & Love,

My One Word Is…..

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LOVE

Love is my one word.

I most certainly did not pick this word.  It chose me, jumped right into my lap and said “well hello there – I’m your word for 2014!”.  But it didn’t just sit in my lap, like crumbs I could brush off as I stood up.  NO – it attached itself to me like glue.

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I am truly dumbfounded.  Lost in the complexity of this one word.  How am I supposed to focus on and live from this thing called love, when I can’t even define it, distinguish it or determine exactly what it is?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot – we aren’t supposed to have this all figured out the first week of the year, are we?

My head is fighting it, but I can hear my heart whispering….

Just live in the space of LOVE, be intentional about LOVE, practice LOVE.

Still, I shake my head in confusion.

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Immersing myself in LOVE leaves me with so many questions….

What is love?

How do we know we are experiencing love?

What’s in the absence of love?

Do we feel love first, then act on it?  Or do we act from love to create the feeling?

How do we distinguish degrees of love?

Is it true – that all we need is love?

Who should we love?

Is love a noun, adjective, verb….or all of the above?

If it doesn’t have a heartbeat, can you love it?

How do we practice love when we aren’t feeling love?

Can we choose love, even if it isn’t present?

WHAT THE HECK IS LOVE???

This word scares me!  Makes me feel vulnerable, overwhelmed and exposed.  I have no idea where this word will take me, but I know with certainty that if I embrace it, commit to it and trust it – living from this word LOVE – I will be forever changed.

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 with Joy, Gratitude & Love,

It’s a New Year….

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Welcome to 2014!

With my 2 week holiday hiatus, followed by the trials of post vacation re-entry, along with my guy being sick (for a whole week)….somehow, the transition from one year to the next snuck up on me.  I’m feeling a need to reflect on the 365 days of this past year before I can fully step into the new year and embrace it.

But it’s already here….

It’s begun….

We are in this “New Year” – day 2, but in it nonetheless!

When I think of 2013, the first word that comes to mind is FULL.  It was so full….

Full of laughter, tears, joy, apprehension, excitement, worry, peace, wonder, discovery.

Full of facing fears, overcoming fears, acting in the face of fears.

Full of creating new opportunities, performing new feats, expressing new thoughts, choosing new beliefs.

It was full like an overflowing hot bowl of soup, not even space for one more tablespoon of liquid.  It wasn’t a perfect year.  It wasn’t a purely positive year.  It wasn’t a year without challenges and obstacles.  But it was a FULL year….and I couldn’t ask for any more.

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I will most likely afford myself more reflection time, in the nooks and crannies of living in the moments of 2014.  But for now, I’m going to jump into this new year with both feet at the same time.  One of those swing your arms, put your whole body into it kind of jump.  Uh oh, I’m seriously having the urge to get up and literally JUMP – but I’m sitting in the middle of a busy Starbucks, and would rather write than explain my unexpected actions to a roomful of strangers.

It’s been two weeks since I last sat at my keyboard, intentionally transferring my thoughts into written words.  After 7 months of disciplining myself to write and publish blog posts on a predictable, regimented schedule, it was freeing to not have to write these past 14 days.  So freeing in fact, I was concerned (ok – scared!) that I might have lost my desire, need and love of writing.

But alas, as my planned writing time this morning crept closer and closer, my brain began to swell with thoughts, ideas, realizations, concepts….things to write about!  When I stepped over the threshold into my mobile office, I literally felt like a kid at the entrance to an amusement park, giddy with excitement but unsure which ride to get on first!

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It feels good to be here again, perched at my computer with my fingers on the keyboard.  These little black keys are like therapy, meditation, and a best friend all wrapped into one.

I returned to my keyboard for me….and for you!  Hopefully to make you laugh and cry.  To remind you that you aren’t alone.  To inspire you to dream big.  To entice you to live fully and embrace the present.  To put a smile on your face.  To make you stop and ponder your life.  To give you courage to step out of your comfort zone.  To go on this journey together.  To help you discover your awesomeness!

Writing without having someone to read the words would be like painting on canvas and hanging the art in the attic.  Or throwing clay into a bowl, but tucking it away in the back of a cabinet.

In 2014 I will continue to write, to blog and to share myself with transparency and authenticity.  The rest will be a crap shoot, so don’t expect predictability!  I may write longer posts or shorter ones.  I may incorporate fewer photos, or none at all.  I may even go to the opposite extreme and create a wordless post, since pictures are worth a 1,000 words, right?  I may publish once, twice, three times a week….or I may go a whole week without publishing anything at all.  I may choose each word with precision, or I might just sit down and write, forcing myself to trust without editing (now that will be a breakthrough!).  What you can count on is that I will continue to write….

The space that is created by affording myself less rigid expectations (of myself), will be the freedom to take the next step on this journey.  I don’t know exactly what it will look like yet, but I’m tinkering with the idea of a workshop or seminar series, perhaps designing a life workbook or possibly writing a real book?  The unknown is scary, but also exciting….and if I learned anything in 2013, it was to trust the process!

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Yep, I definitely just JUMPED into 2014!

What are you waiting for?  JUMP in too!

There are only 363 days left to live life fully in 2014…..

with Love, Joy & Gratitude,

My Extra Special Happy Place

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I believe being happy is a choice – a mindset, not determined by who you are with, what you are doing or where you are.

Happiness is not a place we get to, sometime in the future.  It’s not dependent on having enough money, a spouse, a promotion, or whatever else you might think will bring you happiness.

We can choose a positive outlook over a negative one.

We can choose to notice what we have to be grateful for instead of what’s missing.

We can choose to smile instead of frown.

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A HAPPY PLACE can be exactly where we are, right now – if we choose it!

And yet, there does exist a real place that brings added happiness, by virtue of its impact on us.  I call this our EXTRA SPECIAL HAPPY PLACE!  It’s a real place, separate and distinct from our choosing to be happy in the here and now.  It’s a place that makes you smile simply by thinking about it, a place that envelops you in peace and calmness, a place that allows your spirit to fly free.

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Some people’s extra special happy place is a tropical beach, a lake front cottage or the busy streets of a European city.  My extra special happy place is in the Rocky mountains of Colorado.  It’s hard to describe what it is about skiing in Colorado that brings us such immense joy – probably because it’s everything about the entire experience.

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It’s being together as a family, the exhilaration of traveling at high speeds down a steep slope, the gorgeous snow covered mountain setting, a competitive Uno tournament for our apres ski entertainment, sitting together by a crackling fire while we reminisce about our favorite runs that day, sinking our teeth into a juicy bison burger for dinner, and the physical exhaustion that sends us all to bed early – just to name a few!

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Aaahhhh – it almost feels like I’m there right now!

But wait – I am!!!!!

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I’ll be practicing what I preach, and taking a blogging break to celebrate life with my family!

I may stop by and share some ski photos and possibly repost a few of your favorite past blog pieces.  Or I might just turn my computer off and unplug from the rest of the world for a holiday break?  I guess what I’m saying is, don’t be surprised if you hear from me over the holidays….and don’t be surprised if you don’t!

I wish you and your family a holiday celebration filled with LOVE & LAUGHTER!

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with Joy & Gratitude,