Snow and Puddles

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I got home around 5:15 from This Is My Brave auditions on Saturday and immediately began to wrangle the kids away from the ipad they were playing on. We needed to get outside. My body was craving the Vitamin D. And although the sun was mostly behind the clouds, I still felt it.

The air was crisp and refreshing. The kids decided to go sans coats, but I had zipped up my winter coat as we left the house, knowing it wasn’t quite as warm as I’d like to go without a coat wrapped around me. The snow from Monday’s big storm had melted to almost nothing, yet there were still plenty of stubborn piles scattered about. But with temps in the upper 50’s, it would all be gone soon.

We called it a nature walk. I gave each of them a snack baggie and told them to “collect things from nature,” enjoying the obscurity of my instructions. Their faces lit up and they ran ahead of me on the asphalt path towards the little playground in our neighborhood.

Snow-puddles

“Mommy, I found a acorn!” my daughter announced, crouched down in the mulch.

“I got a rock!” cried my little man.

I let the breeze enter my lungs and took deep cleansing breaths as we walked. The younger one gleefully finished filling her baggie by tossing in chubby little handfuls of snow, despite my warning that it would only melt by the time we got home.

As we neared the end of the path’s loop which took us home, a mess of sloppy, wet, sloshy snow blocked our way. Instead of turning back the way we came, I decided to forge ahead. I tiptoed in my sneakers, while the kids had a ball stomping and splashing our way through.

On the other side I realized they had more fun than I did. And I decided their approach was definitely the way to go. In life and in snow and puddles.

Best Day of My Life

{Have you heard the song ‘Best Day of My Life’ by American Authors yet?}

I woke up this morning to the sound of my daughter stirring in the room next to ours. Peeking into her room, I saw her sitting up smiling brightly in her teeny toddler bed, still tangled up in the flannel sheets with her lovey beside her.

Her eyes met mine and I managed a sleepy grin and a “Good morning, Sweetie” as I walked over to turn off her fan.

She hopped out of bed and I opened my arms wide to hold her and start our morning off with a hug. Her legs wrapped around my middle, wrists gripped snug behind my neck, she declared the perfect start to our day:

“This is going to be the best day evah!”

Yes, my sweet girl. With that attitude, you’re right. It’s another day we have together.

I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast because that’s what’s on the menu for the best day ever, of course. As I flipped the last of the golden brown circles into the pan, I eavesdropped on the conversation between my two littles at the kitchen table. They were exchanging giggles over whether to feed their Transformers tangerine slices or bites of pancakes, and I couldn’t help but catch it on video.

They play together while I do dishes and between sudsing up the pan and rinsing it off I look up through the steam to notice the snow that has started to fall outside the window. In the back of my mind I’m hoping this is the last time we see the white stuff this winter, but as I dry off the pan I am reminded of my daughter’s declaration and with that I remember the art project I had been saving for an occasion just like today.

A few minutes later the kids are elbow-deep in tempera paint when my son looks up at me and says, “Mommy, sometimes my dreams look like this.”

best-day-of-my-life

And I think, you know what bud? My dream looks like this, too. Except it’s not a dream. It’s real and it’s every day.

It’s the best day ever.

Trusting My Sacred Scared

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One of my favorite writers posted a new blog this week about being afraid in life and yet going for what we want anyway, just showing up. She talked about how if we all waited until we were all shiny and perfect and ready, we’d be waiting for eternity. No one is flawless, we’re all messy and complicated, she goes on to say. And if we could all start opening up and talking about what scares us the most, the thing we’re afraid to admit out loud because we’re scared it would make us unloveable, if we do this, we reveal our humanity to the world. When those around us see us taking off our armour, we hear them breathe an audible sigh of relief, and instead of living a life in fear, we can face them bravely together. Because, Love Wins.

I have so many fears. I wrote some of them out last summer in a post I titled: The Truth About Living Openly With Bipolar Disorder. I was scared to hit publish on that post, but I’m glad I did. Because people related to it. They saw me showing my messy, imperfect life and they got it because theirs is messy and imperfect, too.

Now, seven months later, those same fears are all still here, only now it seems as if they’ve multiplied like bacteria in a petri dish.

Lately it feels like not only am I worrying about whether I made the right decision, at the right time, to open up about living with a mental illness, I also worry about whether the show will be a smashing success or a big, fat flop. {I’m banking on the huge success, especially since I know some of the brilliant, talented individuals signed up for auditions, but still, the fear creeps into the back of my mind when I’m not having a confident day.} I’m scared that our petition to convert This Is My Brave, LLC to This Is My Brave – the Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit will fall through, and even if it does work out, how will I figure out the grant-writing process having never done it before and will I ever be able to make a living out of my passion for mental health advocacy work so that I can contribute financially to our family? I am also intimidated by hard-core activists who might say that what I’m doing with the show is just a song-and-dance and it will never make a difference to the state of mental health programs in our country.

Man, hitting publish on this one is going to be incredibly unnerving.

I hate that I have these fears. On a good day, they barely whisper. But on a day when I can’t catch a break, it’s as if they are taunting me just to see if they can get a rise out of me. They choke me and sometimes cause me to worry so much I’m paralyzed with fear and in turn, nothing gets done and I stress even more about my ability to pull this off.

The thing is, even though these fears remain, I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. I know in my heart that I’m doing the right thing with my life. The emails I receive from people who have been touched by my writing drive me to keep going. To keep putting one foot in front of the other and to keep tapping on my keyboard each week. And this show/non-profit organization/community of people who are supporting each other through living with a mental illness, they are my tribe, my flock. I want them to know that I love them just the way they are and that they make me feel less alone and I hope I do the same for them. We’re all in this together and it feels so much better than the loneliness of hiding from what we’re afraid of.

Do you know the biggest lesson I’ve learned through this process of being scared and vulnerable and talking about my fears and my messy life openly? I’ve learned to trust my gut. That place in the middle which you can only sense when you’re super quiet and listening really, really closely, with intention to find purpose. I can feel it in my bones that I’m meant to do this and it brings me peace, no matter how loud my fears are on a particular day.

I’ve experienced what I have because I was meant to come out on the other side so that others can find hope. I truly believe this. So what if I have no idea what I’m doing? So what if I make mistakes along the way? These days I’m able to find comfort in the fact that I’m trusting the world with my messy, beautiful life.

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Sunshine Award

sunshine-awardWhen I got pregnant for the first time, I started blogging. I felt the need to document the exciting stuff we were going through for our friends and family who lived far away. Primarily, my parents who were living in Florida. I wanted them to be able to check our blog for updates on the pregnancy and all the pictures we’d take once the baby arrived and started growing up.

That was in January of 2008. I never imagined I’d keep going for six years. [Read more…]