Posts from the ‘inspiration’ category

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Mojo.

Confidence.

Comfortable in your own skin.

Authentic self.

I think it’s quite safe to say that everyone is here on earth to find it. No matter what you call “it,” it is at the core of happiness and the true sign of success. Many people are fooled to believe that such happiness is purchased with cash (or credit–depends on the person) and it’s meant to be shown off to the world. You’re successful when you have a large home, new cars in the driveway, glamorous vacations multiple times a year, and…

Wrong.

I remember there was a point during my first marriage when I felt as though something was missing in my life, and I couldn’t identify it. I felt like there was something more in the world/my life for me and my family. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I knew I needed to find it.

This comes as a surprising admission from a girl who seemed to have it all from the outside. Even as I write this it’s strange to admit out loud. I was a woman who had just had her second child–the second of two in two years. Two wonderful boys. We had a beautiful home, and we both had worked hard so I would only have to work part-time and could be home with my kids. I had always wanted to be a mother, and these children were my greatest blessings. Yet somehow, I felt lost in my life. My life as Lori.

One day, as my baby and my 21 month-old napped, I turned the channel over to Oprah and watched as she interviewed Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of her new book, Something More. I listened as her and Oprah chatted about gratitude, joy, simplicity. All the things I longed for in my life yet couldn’t see in front of me. I looked around at my life and felt quite selfish for wanting more when it seemed I already had so much.

I soon picked up the book and began to read it. I felt embarrassed for my then husband to see it, because I knew he would judge me and make fun of me as he often did when I went on one of my “personal growth” journeys. I read through the exercises and made mental notes about “returning to my childhood” and “excavating my authentic self.” I began tapping into the Lori I used to be, but I never did finish that book or my personal journey…life, more children, and other distractions took over my day-to-day.

It’s a shame I stopped “searching,” really. Because now, I look back at that moment in time, and I see that’s when I realized things in my life were becoming very empty. My ex had become friends with a woman at work, her husband had called me to see why our home number was appearing on his phone bill all of the time, and I was told I was “overreacting” when I asked my spouse about the phone call. The tides were changing in our marriage, and I became more and more the strong mother rather than nurture myself or my already failing marriage. The feeling of something is missing was pushed to the side and I went into survival mode.

I became the girl who looked forward to “someday.” “Someday,” when my kids are older. “Someday,” when we have more money. “Someday,” when we build our dream house. “Someday,” when I go back to work full-time. The list went on and on.

But life was happening right then. I was so busy planning for life to be “less messy” and figured that’s when I would start “living.”

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Today, I know I’ve found my mojo. I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. I’ve done the “work.” I’ve asked myself all of the questions. Who am I? What feels right for me? And ya know what? I’ve figured it out. And the way I feel inside is powerful, sexy, and strong.

It’s a slight rush, really, to come home and be almost giddy when you ponder your life and your day-to-day. There is laughter in my home, there is passion and love in my marriage, and there is strength in my family. I am successful, and I am happy.

When my son texts me and asks if we can all have family time and watch a movie together–that is success.

When my husband texts me “Good morning beautiful!” and pulls me into him every night to snuggle–that is success.

When my 3 year old step-son looks up at me and says, “I love you Lowi!”–that is success.

When I can help out a friend, or someone sends me a note about how much my blog has helped them–that is success.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This quote from Henry David Thoreau spells out success beautifully. He urges us to advance confidently in the direction of our dreams. Have a dream. Let me say that again, HAVE A DREAM! Dreaming is not a waste of time!

Endeavor to live the life which you have imagined. That means to try, every day, to live that life. It also means that you may not live in the moment of “the life you have imagined” at all times. And that’s okay. Carry on. And most certainly, do not wait until you’ve reached that ever-so-talked about “finish line” to begin living that life. Live it today.

And finally, in the “common hours” of your life, be thankful. Be aware. Success will happen everyday. Make each day an occasion–and rise to it. (Thank you, Mr. Magorium, for such wise words!)

“When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit!”

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Lori Out of Darkness

Have you ever lived your life on auto-pilot? You know that feeling…like when you’re driving down the freeway and your brain disappears into thought for a moment while your eyes focus on the car in front you when you find yourself nearly 5 miles down the highway and you kind of think to yourself Wait! How did I get here so fast? Not in a dangerous sort of checked-out way. Alert and engaged, but not paying close attention to all the details around you.

I think most of us slip into moments like this in our life. It could be in your job. It could be in your friendships. It could even be in your parenting or your marriage. The suck of routines, habits and repetition can get the best of anyone.

There was a time in my life where everything was a bit blurred. I went through the motions of “getting things done” and chalked it all up to “happiness” and “comfort.” I later realized that during that phase, something inside me was slowly dying.

Imagine, if you will, having to wrap up your arm, place it in a sling, and no longer being able to use the arm to do every-day things. You cannot move it. You cannot wash it or care for it. You cannot allow it to see the sunshine. You’re still the same, happy person you always were, but you cannot use your arm. OK. That’s manageable, wouldn’t you say?

Days and weeks go by, and the arm gets weaker. The cells in the arm start to deteriorate, and Atrophy sets in. It’s a slow, gradual process. The arm has been neglected. Your demeanor changes. You’re happiness turns to complacency, because you’re used to having to function under the circumstances. And you feel as though you have no choice, because that is the lot you were dealt.

This is exactly what it feels like when you’re living a life feeling controlled and manipulated by something or someone. It can be an addiction, a parent, a spouse, or even a child. When you’re living in this situation, you go through the motions of life and the color and energy within you is trapped.

But a day can come where you can unwrap, move again, and stand in the sunshine. It starts with believing in yourself and not allowing something or someone to confine you or control you. How can I do that, you ask? Start small:

  1. Pick up a skill, hobby or interest you had in your childhood or when you were happiest. My start began with photography and scrapbooking. I dove straight in and remembered how freaking amazing it felt to do something just for myself. Doing this small thing for yourself will build your confidence in you and your abilities.
  2. Spend time outside! Breathe the air. See the beautiful things around you. Take a walk and allow yourself to dream of a life where you are in control and moving forward. DREAM!
  3. Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. If you’re on auto-pilot, chances are that you aren’t laughing very much. Schedule a girls night at your house and eat junk food and wear sweats and dish about your latest awful days, dates or sexy crushes.
  4. Turn up the music! LOUD! For the 2-year period post-divorce, I woke up every day, turned on a music channel on our TV, and blasted music for all of us as we got out of bed and got moving in the mornings–some of them were difficult mornings. I did this more for myself than for my kids. I didn’t realize the impact it had on my kids until the other day, when I turned some music up (loud, of course) in the morning and my youngest said, “We haven’t had music on in the mornings like this for awhile. I remember when we did that in the old house all the time!” She liked that routine and missed it.
  5. Do push ups, or sit ups, or both. I know this sounds lame, but if you do a few every day you will get stronger. You will feel stronger. You will be stronger. And strength within gets a boost when your body is strong.

It’s amazing how these 5 small things will wake you up! You will see with more clarity. You will begin to feed your soul. And most importantly, you will start to live with more purpose and be engaged more.

My life is filled now with laughter, hope, love, and anticipation, and it all began with these 5 things. Opening your eyes doesn’t have to start as the result of a big shift in your life like mine did. That journey can start when you choose to snap out of it and turn off the auto-pilot.

One of my favorite quotes I found after I got divorced is a daily reminder to me that I do not have to settle or tolerate something or someone that is not good for me, and I leave it now with you:

We cannot make the sun shine, but we can remove from that which may cast a shadow on us. ~Rev. C.H. Spurgeon

Remember that your power and energy should go to yourself. Don’t waste it on someone who isn’t worthy of receiving it. Walk away from those things or people that are nothing but darkness. Embrace the light.

 

 

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Sometimes I wonder: What would my life look like had I not followed the “right thing” and instead, looked within and chosen things for myself? What if I would have paid close attention to the red flags along the way during my courtship and marriage rather than view and disregard them–as if only gazing quickly at them from a window in a speeding car. What if I would have pursued photography and art in high school as I had dreamed of? Then continued that passion in college? What if I would have realized, at 22, the possessiveness and control was real in my soon-to-be-husband and had stood strong after I tried to break up with him and moved on, alone?

What if I would have shut out my mother’s critiques of the things I expressed I liked or her judgements of my artistic father? I wouldn’t have been so scared to choose for myself. I wouldn’t have thought art was a waste of time and pursuing photography would have been something I did, like my father.

All of these “what ifs” are here because I was afraid of disappointing. My father didn’t graduate from college, and photography was his major, so of course I saw photography as a dead-end career. He and his mother painted and my mother critiqued both of them, and I certainly didn’t want to be critiqued. So, I did the “right thing” from childhood on. Got good grades. Skipped a grade. Graduated. Got a job and put myself through night school trying to earn a business management degree. All because it was the “right thing to do.” Never was I authentically happy. I was good at it, but not happy.

The problem with doing the “right thing” for so long is that as you grow older, and stronger, you reach a point where you don’t even know what it is you would choose. You’re so used to doing the things your husband likes and eating at the places he chooses and decorating the house the way he prefers that once you’re on your own you get lost in the forest of no identity.

After my divorce, I became close friends with a sweet, divorced art teacher at the school I worked for. We bonded quickly over divorce talks, photography, and had great outings together and with our girls. We were both evolving together and breathing in our newly court-ordered freedom.

I’ll never forget the day she first walked into my large, stuffy home where I had lived the last 8 years of my marriage and declared, “This place looks nothing like you–it’s so not what I imagined your house to look like!” I chuckled and said, “That’s because it’s him.”

I know that being married to a narcissist has a way of washing away your identity. Your life becomes all about them. That’s why I cut myself slack as I try to determine who I really am. I’ve come a long way. But there are dips and bumps in the road of self-discovery. I struggle with this a lot. It’s a lesson I guess I keep re-learning, because I haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.

Now, I know, had I not lived the life I had, I wouldn’t have my four amazing children. I’m so thankful for them. Being a mother is my greatest fulfillment in life and my path has taught me many, many things.

But sometimes, I can’t help but dream about the Lori that could have been.

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Is it because I’m in “mid-life”? Perhaps I’m still mourning and healing after my miscarriage. Whatever it is, I’m feeling extremely fidgety.

I’ve been searching (digging deep) over the last few weeks…I call it cocooning. I read a lot. I ponder a lot. I dream a lot. I look within and try to get a handle on who I am and where my happiness lives.

I’m learning, still, so many things about myself. Some of those things are small, some are big, and some are downright stupid and pointless, but they have to do with me so I chalk it up to a small piece of what makes up Lori.

I have this yearning–deep down in my soul–to change what I’m doing. I want to work from home. Oh. My. Gosh. the energy I feel at home when I’m writing or editing photos or working on website things, then running into the other room to throw in laundry–and maybe even sneaking in a walk before lunch. I find that when I can create my own schedule, I get a hell of a lot of things done.

In my full-time, day job I write, blog, create and update websites and landing pages and fight fires. (that means I do basically all the shit at work people can’t figure out, because I’m tech savvy and I’m a project manager–give it to me and I’ll figure it out) I don’t feel fulfilled at work. Not one bit. I feel chained to the desk and like a monkey asked to perform–at the last freakin’ minute.

I want to create. I want to try and I want to throw all caution to the wind and not have to be “on” all the time. At work, I have to deliver. And I work with a bunch of people who skate by at the last minute, don’t have processes, and throw the fiery ball of flames over my fence and expect me to handle it–at the last freakin’ minute. I don’t work well that way. Hell no, I don’t!

Do you know how many damn websites I’ve created in a few days and burned the midnight oil for? Jeez!

Brain

The last time I felt fulfilled in my work was when I wrote, edited and created for a magazine. I never realized I could be so right-brained. CREATIVE even. I’m pretty good at straddling the middle-o’-the-brain in all of those brain tests. We’re talking dead center. So I’ve always been the planner, go-getter, get ‘er done kind of girl. I’m ready to uncover the right side and see what she can bring to the party.

How do I get there? What do I want to do? I don’t know! I know I enjoy people, technology, writing, editing, photography, memory keeping, talking to people and teaching and helping them achieve their goals. According to my last boss, he told me, “When it comes to dealing with people, Lori, you shine.” Really? I do?

I’m on a quest. I’ve got more reading to do and a few ideas brewing in this head of mine. But I am filled with doubt and questions.

What are you good at? I mean really good at? Anything? Maybe you’re just kinda good at lots of things.

What can you do that you can turn in to a business and contribute to the family but fulfill yourself and the people you work with/for?

I know that money isn’t important to me–well, I have bills to pay, but I’m not looking to make millions. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire. I want to lead people to a better self/business/family.

It almost feels like I have ADD. My interests are vast and I read and research and soak it in, but I also can get lost in my learning. Time to get focused. Put on some ol’ lady glasses and look in the mirror, girl, because it’s about time you see that girl who’s ready to get out! But where the hell do I start?

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Forces-Quote
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been in a funk lately. I haven’t been quite able to put a finger on what it is, but it’s definitely a funk.

It’s almost like I’ve hit a wall in my life and when this happens, I spend time (perhaps too much time) evaluating how to either get around it, move it, or punch the hell out of it and go through it. I tend to do this a lot in my life when I feel things get off kilter or out-of-balance. It’s sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse. When things push against me, I push back. I push so I can hold ground–stay strong. But sometimes the only thing pushing back does is tire you out.

One of the first things I’ve started doing when I feel one of these “moods” coming on is reach out to friends or to my husband. The sharing, talking and escaping into their stories and their lives helps me to forget some of the issues I’m dealing or struggling with and it also helps me realize that I’m very blessed in my life. I was lucky to get to experience a dinner the other night that was just what the doctor ordered. It was a dinner with 3 of my friends I’ve come to know through a special friend of mine. She is the common thread between all of us and brought us together for one group dinner 2 years ago. We called our dinner group the “Strong Women’s Group” because each of us, in some way or another, has experienced being involved in a relationship with a narcissistic, controlling or over-bearing person.

Each of these women come with their own stories. One has been through her share of pain, court hearings, and arguments with her ex. Another is dealing with a manipulative man and their infant baby and she is trying to distance herself (and her little one) from the damaging situation. We don’t get together often, but we do support each other on Facebook, and dinner the other night was both refreshing and informative.

What did I learn at that dinner?

During that dinner, the stories shared by the other women stirred me. Listening to each of them share their stories about pain, altering their happy lives to deal with their exes, and the power they’ve gained in standing up and playing the same “game” their ex’s do. In a moment of clarity, I realized that I’m still too afraid of my ex. Too afraid of “getting in trouble” by the courts for stupid, stupid things (being 15 minutes late or allowing my kids to stay home from their dad’s if they don’t feel like going), because I want to do the “right thing”. I let him push my “good girl/follow the rules gal” buttons much too often. Right then I asked myself Why? Why am I expending so much energy in smoothing things over and making everyone happy when I know damn well I do the best I can? In that moment I realized that I spend too much time still trying to please him. And in that moment, I was done.

That strength has carried me for the past few days, and when my ex demands over and over and over via text to know when I’m taking our son to get his driving permit and I don’t respond so he texts my oldest son for an answer, I don’t keep quiet and apologize for my ex. I don’t worry that I didn’t answer him right away or the “right way”. I didn’t stress about him 1) critiquing my answer 2) giving me crap because it’s not according to his “timeline” or 3) getting backlash for whatever answer I do or don’t give. What I did do is call him on his shit. In fact, I’ve called him on his shit multiple times over the past few days, and the power is living within me. Why can he treat all of us like this–because it’s what he’s always done? No more. No more pushing against the flow.

Work is a whole different kind of funk

Another area of my life that is completely out of balance is work. I work with amazing people. They are all nice, friendly, hardworking. You know, dream co-workers. But I also know that I’m not fulfilled at work. After working for multiple years at Creating Keepsakes magazine, the creative bug I always knew lived within me was set free. I wrote, edited, created and dreamed daily. It was a job that brought me so much joy. I happily drove 1 hour each way to commute to and from work to make things happen. It didn’t feel like work at all. My job now involves pulling teeth to get web-site data, deliverables, etc. and people that procrastinate and move from one fire to the next, well THAT feels like a slow, painful death for me. And I get no joy from it.

In my quest for balance, I’ve begun learning more about the art of being creative and about the internal need we all have to create something. I’ve discovered that being creative is who I am. It’s what I need to be doing daily. During my multiple searches, I’ve been virtually introduced to Tina Roth Eisenberg. No, she doesn’t know me from Adam (but she should, right?!), but she truly inspires me. She is the brain behind Swiss Miss, Tattly.com and CreativeMornings.com and is married and the mommy to two kids. Her life has evolved into doing what she loves because it means something to her. That, my friends, is what life should be about. I’m not a lover of money or status. I just want to be with good people, love and support them and get the same back in return, and create and grow.

One quote she shared in a her Keynote at at the SXSW Interactive 2013 struck me. It is what I strive for. It is the balance that I crave. I want to do something I’m good at, grow with it and make a difference (but what the HELL is that?…sorry, I digress). Here’s the quote:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” ~L.P. Jack, Education Through Recreation (1932)

For my creative friends, I urge you to watch Tina’s SXSW talk below and learn more about her 11 rules she lives by in life and work. It will make you think.

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