What do you fill holes with?

Imagine you are lost, tired and starving. Lips parched. Eyesight playing tricks on you. Thoughts in your head that you can’t sort or organize because they have no beginning and no ending but each one feels more ominous and heavy than the last.

Now imagine you stumble suddenly out of the darkness onto a stream of water. Muddy and dirty but its WATER. In your lap-of-luxury life prior to this series of miserable events that brought you to now, you would have stepped through the stream, or over it.

You would never have considered it drinkable; worried about bacteria, disease, germs, contamination, etc. But here, today, this moment, THIS stream is as close to perfect as you can imagine.

You gulp readily, taking it in. The good, the bad. Consequences like contamination never even cross your mind. It’s salvation. Temporary and bound to have some sort of side effect eventually but it’s all you’ve got and you’re all in, drinking it up.

While the example above is rather extreme, and the likeliness of you being in a similar situation may seem fairly far fetched, it’s an effective way to set the tone for the scene I’m going to ask you to imagine next.

You’re at your desk. Your boss has just given you an assignment that took every ounce of energy to respond positively to. You feel exhaustion in your bones. The same old record, the scratch making the same section play on repeat. You decide you’ve had enough for the day so you begin the same route home.

You call your partner on the way and determine what’s on the menu for dinner. Stop at the store, grab the necessities plus a bottle of wine or two, you know, to go with the food. You arrive home. Take a deep breath and kick off your shoes. You can’t bear to repeat the same story about your day again, so you don’t.

You put on your best smile and greet your partner. Maybe you make a little small talk. Maybe you share a bit about how bad your day was with an eye roll and a joke, downplaying the deeper truth. Maybe you bare your soul and let it all out, feeling guilty that your partner has become a dumping ground for your stress. Pop open the wine. Commiserate. Drink. Numb. Sleep. Rest. Repeat.

Now maybe it’s not the job that’s the problem. Maybe it’s the partner. Or maybe it’s the wine, or the online shopping, or something else filling your holes, bringing temporary relief of your suffering. Who knows because things are muddled up and you don’t dare take too close up of a look at any of it; lest the delicate balance you’ve achieved starts to topple like a Jenga game that’s gotten too tall. Or maybe you stay so spectacularly busy that there is absolutely no time to stop and look.

How does this second scene sit with you? Think about it for a minute. Can you relate to any of it? How did imagining that scene make you feel? Take a deep breath, all sensations are just information. 

Perhaps you felt relief. You know this story, you’ve lived it, it’s in your rear-view now. If so, congratulations and keep up the good fight. Share your story. We need to hear it.

Maybe this scene got under your skin a little? Did it remind you of someone you know?

Or, did it hurt like a slap across the face? Did it make you want to punch, scream or cry?  Do you feel provoked? If so, you’re not alone. I can describe this scene so well because it was mine not so long ago.

I’ve taken to calling the above scenario as living with holes. And I can find examples of it almost everywhere I look. Just like the person at the start, lost without food and water (extreme holes in this case), you are almost forced to make choices from a place of starvation. So inevitably, those choices, while immediately gratifying, generally have no real lasting value or contribution. Which, you may have guessed, usually requires either a higher quantity or a change in hole-filling material.

In my case, I filled my holes with alcohol, shopping and busy-ness. I was also terribly afraid of being alone. So I also filled my holes with social outings and other people. I spent my days and nights, my relationships and my work in some form of performance.

Putting on the “right” clothes, the “right” job titles and the perfect smile so no one looked too deeply past the veneer. I was a master at riding the line between being genuine enough to establish healthy relationships and distant enough to not let anyone in on my real story. Until my hole-filling became a recognizable problem that I couldn’t hide from anymore. My addictions had become visible to others.

If you’ve been around my writing for a while you’ll know the journey from there to here has been long and varied. The short version, if you’re new, is I went on a self-discovery journey; giving myself the freedom to research and study whatever I wanted. As a result, and over a series of years, I dismantled my life as I knew it, including my marriage and my career. I started over and over and over again, each time getting closer to my kind of right (as opposed to everyone else’s).

Today I live in a rental home I love, with my two beautiful daughters who spend 50% of their time with me. These growing young ladies get to witness and feel my joy for living passionately;  I am deeply proud of the example I am setting for them as a human being, a mother and a woman. In addition, I have the most incredible people around me who know my entire story, the dark and ugly and beautiful, and love me deeply for all of it.

How did I get here? I got here by studying my life. By looking at my holes and at how they came to exist. At understanding my patterns of handling them and how I was mimicking what I saw or learned as a child. I got here by addressing my deeply ingrained habits and behaviors through coaching and therapy.

I got better at understanding MY personal needs and wants vs. what I was told/taught to want. And then, I worked on using my voice to ask for it. I worked on eliminating my holes, one by one so the fillers became less and less necessary. In the process, I lost friends. I lost family. A few times, I even lost myself.

Here’s what I know, now. Everyone has a story. Everyone has some level of desire that is currently unfulfilled. These unmet desires, if they are misunderstood or unclear, are the things that create the holes. The fillers we use for those holes, are the materials that make the pain of those unmet desires feel better. They make the disappointment sting less. They make identifying the root cause of the pain even less clear and solving for it, a less desirable activity.

Our holes cause us to feel shame in having conversations about our “first world problems” even with those we deem as our closest allies. The inability to talk about our problems and our hole-fillers without shame creates isolation and loneliness – another dangerous hole. Talking about our pain and what feels real for us, is not socially acceptable; however, hole-fillers are. Hole fillers are coping mechanisms that create camaraderie and distraction. They are known and celebrated for easing our discomfort. This relief is both temporary and potentially dangerous.

Sustainable relief and the ultimate release from hole-filling comes from knowing deeply who you are now, who you desire to be (if there’s a gap between here and there) and how you desire to live. It comes from knowing, with clarity, what kind of life you want to actively engage in building and feeling confident that you can make the choices that best serve your ultimate goals.

This type of confidence comes from self knowledge. From understanding where you are when you’re making your next choice (along the spectrum of starvation and fullness) and the intention with which you are choosing.

Do I still make hole-filling choices? Of course I do. The difference is I know I’m making them and I understand why I’m making them. Self knowledge is the key. So next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re up against something that feels uncomfortable, ask yourself the following: How did I get here? Why am I making this choice? If I had a chance to chose differently, what would I change? And then, when the opportunity presents itself again, make a different choice and watch what happens as a result. Ask. Choose. Experience. Reflect. Repeat. 

One choice at a time, one moment at a time. And, grace. Please be gentle with yourself when you dive into this activity. It’s much harder to study yourself if you’re beating yourself up along the way.

Why am I telling you this? Because if even a sentence of the above resonates with you I want you to know that you’re not alone. Being seen and heard are basic human needs. This is my way of telling you I see you. Sharing my story is a way for me to say I hear you.

If someone you know popped into your mind when you were reading this, pass it along, so that person doesn’t feel alone, either. You passing it along says the same thing to the people you care about. It also has the potential to form a bridge; an invitation into a conversation that sounds something like: “I see you. I want to help you. Please tell me how.” Because those words are some of the most nourishing and healthy hole-filling materials available.

I Just Got Schooled by a Podcast

What I’m about to share is all fairly fresh so I’m going to do my best to work through my experience while I’m communicating. Typically, I’ll write when I’ve already finished the processing part of my self-discovery and I understand it all. That’s when I sit down to write; after the processing. This feels – more raw, like I’m writing in my personal journal, not anything I’m preparing to share.

My inspiration to invite you “behind the scenes” was sparked by a comment from my inner circle about how quickly I can move from discomfort to epiphany. The more practice I have, the more efficient I become. Perhaps, sharing the processing with you is a way to help you practice also?

This latest and most fresh form of discomfort comes from blindly disliking another human being for an unknown reason. The object of my disdain comes packaged as a former-athlete-turned-successful self-development entrepreneur, author and speaker named Lewis Howes.

I’m still wondering at which moment I decided to “follow” him on Instagram. I’m fascinated why up until yesterday, I was still following him, even though I’ve never watched his videos for more than a few seconds because every time I did, I felt my skin crawl and moved on. As I actively practice non-judgement of others, this thought is equally uncomfortable. 

By the online face of Lewis, and the snippets of his work I’ve seen, what I knew about him before these last two days, was teensy tiny. Besides the above, I know he has some formula for how he moves through the world. He has a structure. (This sparks something I’ve said I’ve been lacking recently). I watched him make his bed. (Seriously, it was on Instagram and p.s. I do the same). I watched a moment of him running. He has a routine. He’s attractive, healthy and successful. He looks like a wholesome human being, perhaps even charming. I can’t claim to understand, even as I type this, why his style irks me so much, or more specifically he irks me.

Immediately before I sat down to write this, after leaving a polo message for a friend with tears in my eyes, I had just finished a podcast between Rob Bell and Lewis Howes.

I adore Rob. The Robcast is my version of church. I had a few minutes to drive yesterday and was craving some Rob so I clicked on the interview. After knowing who it was with (Lewis), I stopped listening and tried to find another episode. I tried FIVE other episodes that wouldn’t load/play so, with a deep breath, I resigned and went back to Rob and Lewis. 

Clearly I was meant to hear this one. 

It turns out Lewis and I have some things in common that I never would have suspected. From growing up lower-middle class, to having some publicly-broadcast family disruptions as a child, to Toastmasters as a game changer. The podcast with Rob was specifically related to a book Lewis wrote called The School of Greatness which is also the title of Lewis’s podcast. 

I’ve never listened to Lewis’s podcast but, I just ordered his book. I ordered it by justifying that it was a gift for someone who I think WILL resonate with him. Still not certain I could be that person. 

I have blindly disliked this human, for zero reasons I can justify, UNTIL I heard his story. Now he’s piqued my curiosity. His story is something I want to know more about.

There’s a few threads in the podcast that I’m connecting in a new way as I think through this unfolding scene. Rob and Lewis talk about creating something from nothing, about breakthroughs and vulnerability. They cover pain and medicine, money and time. All of these topics and the views they share resonate as truth. More specifically, they resonate as MY truth. So I’ve been avoiding this human and his messages because they make me uncomfortable and yet I’ve found truth in it. Isn’t the truth sometimes the thing that’s most uncomfortable?

My sophomore year of high school, a few days into my new biology class, I realized I didn’t like my teacher. This is strange for me. I loved school and I had great relationships with most of my teachers. But this one, I didn’t like. I remember my Mom asking me what I was going to do about it. I knew myself well enough by then to know that having good relationships with my teachers was as important to my success and enjoyment of school as anything else, so I decided I was going to volunteer to be her lab assistant. My Mom was shocked. I told her, that I needed to like my teacher and I wasn’t going to get there by avoiding her. I was going to get there by understanding who she was and working with her. This is who I was as a teenager; it’s who I was born to be. It’s who I’ve come back to on my self-discovery journey. The person who says I don’t understand (read: like) this, let me get closer. 

So, ( I shake my head as I type this) the moment has come to dive deeper into the world of Lewis Howes. To read the book before I gift it. To venture into his podcasts. To allow him to take the role of teacher and mentor in my life through his words and his work because perhaps, my discomfort is a sign that he’s going to help me grow in ways I could never have imagined. 

The lessons we need and the people we need to deliver them, come to us in the most interesting ways. I’m fascinated to see where this thorn in my side in the form of Lewis will take me. I can’t deny that I was moved in a different way while listening to his personal story.

Whether someone is on your radar for a good reason or, like in this case, a not so good one…they are still on your radar. It’s not an accident. It never is. It’s always a chance to learn.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that he IS an attractive, successful (male?) human. (I don’t feel this way about others.) Maybe it’s because he’s figured something out that I haven’t. (I wouldn’t label myself as a jealous person and this thought applies to A LOT of others.) Maybe it’s because I’ve got a thing about “jocks” from my childhood. I have NO idea what has kept me actively avoiding this man and his work for so long. I just know that the time has come to stop. 

I’ve got the age-old adage of not judging a book by it’s cover running through my head.

I’m grateful for Rob and everything I’ve listened or read of his work previously. These things have set a precedence of trust and growth. If it weren’t for that trust, I’m not certain I could have so openly (even if reluctantly) tuned into this conversation between him and Lewis. The conversation that has brought this new awareness. The conversation that will bring me to Lewis’s work in earnest. The one that will now take me into my next steps in a new way, because I’m taking on a new teacher. I’m opening myself up to the discomfort of attending The School of Greatness.

5 Reasons Why Your Divorce is a GOOD Thing

I’ve been divorced for a little over five years now. And while I still get a little emotional around what would have been my wedding anniversary; it’s because my life has changed so dramatically and in so many beautiful ways. I’m emotional with gratitude for the experiences I’ve lived, both before and after. I’m not sure I could have dreamed of the life (or love) I experience now, when I was married. It seemed down right impossible.

My former husband and I did our divorce in a really healthy and respectful way. We have a co-parenting relationship that makes me super proud. I know this isn’t everyone’s story. I’ve had divorce lawyers wide-eyed with jaws to the floor when I tell our story.

Divorce can be challenging. Life goals and dreams are disrupted. Your “person” is no longer yours in the same sense. All of this can be fear inducing and heart breaking (even if the divorce is amicable and mutually beneficial). For me the hardest part was not letting go of the “now”, it was releasing the dreams I had built in my head and heart for a future that would no longer exist. 

It took me a while to be able to build the list below. Depending on how fresh your wounds are; it might take a while for all of it to sink in, but I promise you, over time, it will.  

Reason 1: “This or something better…”. Let’s face it. No one gets divorced because things are going swimmingly. Regardless of who instigated the divorce, or even their reasons why, I’d much rather be somewhere I’m wanted, loved, honored and appreciated than anywhere I’m not. Yes, there’s pain. There’s also release from all of the animosity, frustration and “bending” you did as a couple to make life work. My favorite coping mantra for situations like this is “This or something better”. Meaning, if it’s not this thing I love (loved), then I get the chance for it to be even better. Take a deep breath into that one. 

Reason 2: I call this the “no more socks on the floor” relief. Make a list of all of the annoying little things or habits that your former spouse did that drove you nuts. Those little annoying things that you just “didn’t bother with” because either when you tried it didn’t make a difference, or you finally gave up after the millionth request. For me, it was socks. My former husband’s socks were everywhere. Under the desk in the office. On the floor in front of the TV. Under the kitchen table. On the carpet, in the closet – mere inches from the laundry basket. Frankly, they were where ever he decided to take them off, with his feet, at the end of his day.  It drove me nuts. No more husband? No more sock problem. {Side note: My former husband is an incredible human being. I will forever love him because he’s an integral part of my life’s story. Early in the divorce these little things calmed me down when the sadness set in. Think of the small reliefs as technique vs. a long term strategy. Not going to lie though, I’m still grateful to not have to deal with the socks.}

Reason 3: YOU become a priority! Depending on your experience of love and marriage, this will vary, but work with me here. When’s the last time you got to decide what you want to eat for dinner without consulting anyone else? When’s the last time you got to stay out later than would normally be “ok” just because you were having fun, without having to explain it to anyone (or worse being accused of doing something wrong/inappropriate)? When’s the last time you got to do something extravagant for yourself without having to justify the expenditure (be it money, time, etc.)?

Depending on how long you’ve been hitched for, there are so many things that get molded to find harmony in a relationship that sometimes, you don’t even realize you’ve given your desires over completely to the other person, until someone asks you how you want your eggs and you suddenly realize you have no idea how YOU like them cooked.

For the first time in what might feel like a lifetime; you’ve got the ability to choose for yourself. Scary? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely! Welcome home to yourself, darling. 

Reason 4: Space to learn who you are NOW. Again, independent of how long you’ve been coupled, in and around that time, you’ve grown and changed. Who you are IS different than who you were when you committed to your partner. Scientifically, this is true for your physical body, but it’s also true for your emotions, your heart, your brain…all of you. 

Maybe the following is less true for you but most married people I know (and it was true for me) have become something of a “combined” identity with their spouse. While both people continue to grow and evolve, it happens together. Individuality is key to what brought you together in the first place so this evolutionary merger, besides likely undermining your relationship, is also detrimental to each individual in the relationship over time. 

Kahlil Gibran says this best in The Prophet: “And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Are you the cypress or the oak? It’s time to find out. Take stock, not only of your growth so far but where you want to go next. It’s a blank page…what are you going to write on it?

Reason 5: You get to fall in love again. If you’re fresh in the post-divorce dating scene, chances are this one might cause some heartburn. It doesn’t make it any less true. Butterflies, first dates, etc. all get to happen again. The best part? This time you’ve got the knowledge, wisdom, experience  and opportunity to know exactly what you want (or make a concerted effort to try eggs in as many ways as they can be cooked, so you can answer that question (Thank you, Julia Roberts.)).

My point is, through every relationship I’ve had post-divorce; from the nightmare first date stories that became topics for my Toastmaster speeches to the toe-curling, romantic, dancing in the moonlight guy who disappointed a few weeks later with an unauthorized naked photo of me, to the quiet sensation of new love rooting in my heart and blooming spectacularly –  forever changing my relationship game; I’ve spanned the whole spectrum. And while not all of these experiences were note-worthy they were all necessary. Necessary in my personal evolution. 

It was necessary for me to get divorced so I could bloom into who I am today. The same holds true for you, darling. 

I stand by the philosophy that my soul didn’t come to this planet to have a specific job, or marry a specific human. My soul is here to learn and grow. Each experience I have in this human lifetime is a part of that growth. And, as with all things, I can fight it and make myself miserable, or I can embrace it, arms wide and heart open and trust that on the other side, dazzling beauty and soul-nourishing love are waiting. 

Trust that things are unfolding for you, too, exactly as they’re meant to. Trust that what you’re seeking is just around the corner. Trust yourself. 

 Missing one daughter, but notice the joy on every single face in this photo…
Missing one daughter, but notice the joy on every single face in this photo…

What a difference a decade makes

HMD….That’s what the subject line of the email said. Curious, I clicked on the message and immediately regretted my choice to do so. It was from him. 

Have you ever made a decision or a choice that in hindsight you realized was incredibly stupid? That’s the story of how this email ended up in my inbox. And I’m finding that this story isn’t all that uncommon or unfamiliar but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

It’s a weeknight and I’m traveling for work. My husband is at home taking care of our toddler-aged daughter and I’m in a sexy dress with just a bra sitting at the hotel bar drinking a whiskey, neat. The sexy dress is because I want to feel authentic to my truth; which is, I’m falling in love with this friend of mine I’m supposed to be meeting for dinner and I want to look and feel attractive. 

He sees me in a way I haven’t felt before and it’s intoxicating. It’s almost as if he sees through everything outside of me and into the core of who I am. Our energetic connection is unlike anything I’ve known up until this point in my life; it’s raw and powerful. When we are near one another it’s like someone put my skin on extra sensitive and it’s buzzing with electricity. 

Only at this point in the evening, my friend has started an argument with his girlfriend and is no longer coming to dinner. I’m drinking to take the edge off the pain I feel at this change in plans. It’s not an unusual course of action for me to have a few drinks after work. These ones are sliding down smoothly. 

Theiry, the bartender and I are almost friends, based on how much I travel and how often I’m at this particular hotel. Javier is my waiter for dinner. I alway sit at the same table. Although I wasn’t supposed to be with Theiry or Javier on this particular night; I am. 

When I first started traveling, I hated being alone. Routines like the same table and the same people took the edge off of my loneliness.

On this particular evening I’m feeling extra intentional about dulling my pain receptors. Theiry asks about my choice in attire. I explain that I was stood up. Cue the guy at the bar next to me to engage in a conversation. I don’t remember his name. He too is married. It’s a friendly enough conversation but there’s something underneath the seemingly innocuous conversation. 

At some point, in my now inebriated state, he walks me back to my room. 

We end up sitting on the couch in my space, talking. He rubs my feet. That’s as much physical contact as there will be between us. Thank goodness, because this isn’t the first time I’ve invited a stranger into my space and the other few didn’t end as easily.

These are challenging things for me to share because I look back now, as my daughters are older and I’m on a sober curious adventure and think “WTF were you thinking?!”. It doesn’t make the story any less true.

The foot rub guy stays in touch via email even though I ignore every single one of them. This HMD one is the only one I remember vividly because it was a well wish: Happy Mother’s Day and that struck me as interesting. That on Mothers’ Day, I would be someone that would cross his mind; a stranger, in a hotel room, on a random business trip. Clearly, I also meant something else to him. I don’t believe in coincidence so I know that this human is part of a much larger web of interconnected experiences that led me to the life I have today. 

For all of these little pieces, I am grateful. (The gratitude will come, in time, for your stories too).

This story took place over 9 years ago but I thought of it for the first time this past Sunday and I haven’t been able to let go of it. When that happens it’s usually because I have this work – this writing, this sharing, to do. 

Looking back  at myself from my current place in time, I see a lonely and unhappy woman, numbing herself and putting herself and her safety in jeopardy, to feel something other than the truth of her real story. To feel anything at all, other than the pain of the life she’s built that she doesn’t yet see a way out of.

I see a woman afraid of her own company, because she doesn’t love who she is and doesn’t like what she sees.

I see a woman living the life she was taught was “right” because it most closely fit the mold of others, all the while doing self-destructive or “rule-breaking” things to feel closer to some semblance of alive.

Now, almost a decade later, with a firmer grasp on my own inner knowing, more connected to my intuition and the benefit of time and wisdom, I can articulate this story. 

At the time I could only tell you the narrative. I’m a new mom, I travel for work, I fell in love with someone who isn’t my husband and I’m acting out in ways that are destructive and harmful to everyone, but I can’t stop, because stopping and surrendering to my life as it is now, is equivalent to death. 

I realize how dramatic this sounds. I also know if you’ve been anywhere close to this point in your life that you know exactly where I was at. 

Deep breath, lovely. I see you, I know you, I’ve been you.

There’s another way. It won’t be simple. There will be bumps and bruises along the path, not only for you but also for those you love. It’s also 100% worth it.

However, the most important question I want you to ask yourself right now, that came from a remarkable coach I flourished with named Lola Pickett; is “What do I need right now?” 

That’s the question I want you to ask yourself. What do you need right now?

Then, find a safe place to speak (or write) the answer out loud. If you don’t have a safe space, I’m here. 

Tomorrow night is a full moon. It’s a time for releasing things that no longer serve you. Now is the time to begin the steps toward releasing the layers of life holding you back from being the truest version of yourself. Reach out if you need a helping hand. I’m here. 

A townhouse, an alchemist and a raven

In July of 2018, the date of my last blog, I was saying goodbye to the first house I had purchased as a divorced mom of two little girls, shortly before I took an abrupt departure from my corporate career (and my self confidence incidentally, but that’s another story). 

Since I’ve shared last, I’ve moved homes twice. From my owned property of ~ 3200 sq. feet to a ~ 1500 sq. foot rental townhouse and from the townhouse to a rental house that’s 9.8 miles West and now walking distance to my daughter’s schools, all within a nine month window. 

Needless to say, when downsizing to the degree that we did, there is an element of purging that has to happen. Not to mention the work and effort involved in moving twice in a short window, which ushered in, as you might have guessed, even more of a release. 

When I wrote the last blog, I had no idea where my girls and I were headed. I couldn’t have predicted we’d end up in my youngest’s daughter’s best friend’s previous rental. I could also not have predicted my relationship both to material things, to coping mechanisms (like alcohol) and to myself would change so drastically. 

Sitting in my office, typing this blog, I feel more at home than I have felt in the 20 years I’ve lived in WA state. Both physically in the space I’m in with my butter-colored walls and windows that were built in the 40s, but also in my own body, heart, mind and soul. 

I started 2018 with a friend asking me (electronically) if he could do anything for me, what would I ask for. The words I typed were “Material and location freedom as a single mom with two kids.” Asked and answered my dear reader but oh my, I wish I had put some qualifiers in that request regarding ease and pace. I also know, well enough by now, if I had, I might not have gotten here and it has been SO worth it. 

Shedding, as I have, over the last 9 months, has also created such incredible space for “new” to arrive in the form of people, ideas and yes, in some instances material things. I’ll give you the bullet point highlights, each of which could easily be a blog in their own right but for now…highlights:

  • I did some deep work with a powerful and gifted coach, Lola Pickett. www.lolapickett.com

  • I took Lola’s empatholgoy course (which I can’t recommend enough) if you’re an empath and/or in a relationship (of any sort) with one.

  • I traveled to Paris, France, a bucket list trip, for the first time.

  • I started writing a book.

  • I started studying alchemy, which, I discovered is at the heart of who and what I am; I am an alchemist. 

  • I created a multi-media piece of poetry that was a gift for my brother and his new wife; putting my writing out in the world in a more unique way (that also feels more vulnerable). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTCcoAJEMzI&t=1s

  • I stepped into a deeper level of wisdom regarding my use/abuse of alcohol and have successfully started a sober curious journey.

  • My heart was activated when I very unexpectedly fell in love with a man I grew up with (the relationship ended quickly; the activation was the key element).

  • I started my work as an executive coach for Amazon employees.

  • I started doing Reiki for dogs as a volunteer at the Seattle Humane. This work has transformed (read: deepened, broadened, strengthened) my skills as energy healer. 

  • I discovered pieces of my life that I miss from my corporate days and began actively searching for more income I love to generate, outside of my personal business, that uses my brain and stretches me in different ways than my coaching and card reading work. (After discovering that there’s so much more room in my days than I originally thought).

And last, but clearly not least, I revamped my business and my product offering so that my brand and my conversation with the world continues to evolve as I do because that, after all, is why I do this work. There’s a new look, a new feel and a new feathered spirit animal.

Life is very rarely the ideal picture that we have in our minds or were told/taught it “should” be. 

My commitment when I started my business and writing was to open the doors to my view of the world. To share my “mess”. To create a place for context, juxtaposition, vulnerability, and honesty. To invite people into a conversation by exposing my truth at a level that felt visceral (to me), in the hopes that others would find a sanctuary; a place where they could come to be who and what they are, authentically, 100% of the time. 

To that end, I’m here, sharing, again and now with new stuff locally and more stuff in the works. 

  • I’ve got a local, upcoming tarot card reading event that I’m thrilled to be at for the second year in a row with an amazing purpose; https://interactive.king5.com/konnected-2019/. Three-card readings for free all evening long during the event.

  • I’m relaunching my healing hours! An hour of guided meditation and reiki, hosted in my new sanctuary. Donation-based so everyone can have access. The schedule is here

  • I’m working on a Self Discovery Library. Think of it like a pocket-Lani. I’m building a resource library, with downloadable workbooks that give you a step-by-step guided list of questions and actions to help you sort through whatever challenge you’re working on with a goal to help you gain some level of clarity for your next steps in conquering that challenge, all at your fingertips and for a fraction of my coaching fees. 

Stepping into the unknown

I remember when I first got divorced, a friend who had also been through a divorce told me that “all the firsts” were particularly painful. First holidays, first anniversaries, first birthdays etc. were a challenge and then, after a while, what was awkward becomes normal. 

I’m reflecting on this idea now because what’s most poignant for me in the moment are my lasts. 

As I sit in front of my fire pit in my back yard, watching the stars in the sky in between thoughts, I’m honoring my last summer in the mediation garden that I built last year. I’m listening to the lighted water feature that’s a few feet away, enchanted by the amber glow and the stream of water as it cascades down, knowing this will be the last evening I can claim that I own this thing of beauty. 

This is my last evening as the owner of the house I currently call home. Tomorrow I become a renter for a month and then, I walk away to start my next adventure under a new roof.  

This was the first house I purchased after my divorce. I bought it as a director for a global travel company when my life was corporate dialog and activity: fitting the “act of living” around the core of that existence. 

I walked away from the title and the money just a bit over three years ago having no idea where life would take me. 

I was listening to a podcast from Rob Bell called the Robcast recently. (The Robcast is my current version of church.) In this episode, Rob is talking about how we are given only the knowledge we can handle in the moment because, to know it all, would essentially short-circuit our ability to process. 

As I reflect on the last five years of my life, I am comforted by this statement because it rings with truth. 

If you had told me five years ago, that I would sell my beloved house (my former sanctuary), become divorced, quit my job, start a business that wasn’t successful (in conventional terms), rent a house filled with enormous spiders, be the victim of a home break-in, which prompted the purchase of my current sanctuary, to turn around almost four years later and sell that one, I’m not sure I would have been functional. 

Add into that mix a dementia diagnosis for my mom, her transition into a nursing home, the decline of my father’s health (and his wealth to care for my mom), and the death of my beloved dog; well, you get the point. I think it’s fair to say it’s a damn good thing I didn’t know all of that was going to happen. 

If I had, I might have shied away from taking the first step. The steps that also led me to myself; to my self love, my self confidence and my strength. The steps that took me to spend as much time with my family across the US as I could manage. 

The steps that took me sky diving for the first time, prompted me to tattoo my mom’s handwriting on my body, carried me through a 10-day silent meditation retreat and brought me to a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. 

The steps that brought me some of the most amazing humans I’ve ever known who have rallied around me to form my “created” family. The steps that have showed my daughters, by example, that there is more than one way to move through this fast paced, technology-powered universe. 

So yes, there’s been a lot. In all frankness, I wouldn’t trade a damn moment of it. 

My resilience is one of the many gifts I discovered along this path. 

So as I sit, for a final time as the owner of the fire pit upon which my feet rest as I type, with absolutely zero idea of where my daughters and I will live next; I’m humbled, grateful and curious about what the universe has in store for us. 

I trust that it will be exactly what (and where) it’s supposed to be. I also trust, that in divine timing, I’ll have a better vision of the road ahead. Right now, I’m sticking with what I can see before me: the water, the fire and the stars. 

Safe journey, my glorious fellow traveler. 

Until we meet again,

Lani Catherine

 

the train ride down memory lane

I’m on a train, sitting facing backwards. A broken down building and crushed cars were just in view.  A few cows too. I’m wearing a long black sleeveless dress and my cowboy boots because my destination and cowboy boots go together like coffee and cream.

As an added bonus, my boots make me happy. My entire outfit does. I don’t waste my time putting anything in or on my body anymore that doesn’t feel joyous.

About 48 hours ago, I was navigating my way through a very busy part of Seattle. In anticipation of a seminar I was presenting at Amazon. It’s material I created a few years ago when my personal self-discovery journey started. It’s called Finding Your Center of Power. I define your center of power as the intersection between the things that bring you joy, your innate strengths and talents and your personal definition of success.

As my life shifts and changes around me; these anchor points, as well as my core desired feelings (CDFs) are my onboard guidance systems. I use them to triage any choice I make; does it bring me closer to how I want to feel? If the answers is yes, I lean in.

A glimpse out the window and I see two people and two dogs in a wide open lot and I’m transported back in time.  When I first moved to WA, I was with a former boyfriend. My intention was to attend university somewhere where the options when I got out of school were greater than what the Hawaiian Islands had to offer.

I moved to Seattle in November and by February my 3.5 year relationship with said boyfriend was over. I was 21 and in a new city by myself. I knew three other people in the state (besides my coworkers) who were not connected to my boyfriend.

One of them had a family who was traveling for 3 weeks and needed a house sitter. It was a place to land for a bit. After meeting the family, I was invited to help in exchange for room and board. Everything I owned at the time fit into the back of a Ford Explorer.

Three weeks turned into nine months, and that stretch of time changed my life.

Dan, the father of the family was a hunter and had trained hunting dogs as pets. There were two when I moved in; Moose and Sam. Moose would stay with me (along with the three cats, the iguana named Bob and the hedgehog) when everyone traveled. Sammy, the clear favorite and a fabulous dog, was always continuing his training when the family traveled.

When everyone was home, Dan, Sam and I would go out to a field and continue his training. Animals and nature have always been a thing for me, so these moments were very special. Dan died a few years back from complications related to cancer. I miss him regularly.

At times when my life feels in shambles, the ache for his wisdom becomes even more tangible.

The views along this train route are reminding me of him and our time together.

I can’t help but think that HE would know how to help me right now. He would know just the right words to say. He would know exactly how to remind me of my power and my capabilities.  

I’m traveling because things are feeling muddy. Distance from my normal day-to-day habits and routines has a way of refreshing and resetting the perspective of things. I find it helpful to get out of my own way to gain an alternative view of any situation.

I’ve got some fairly big and life-altering decisions coming up and at the moment; tuning into my intuition and listening to my internal guidance system has been a static-filled line at best. This trip called to me loudly and with clarity and so I’m here; eyes and heart open; waiting for the clear leads I’ve called the universe to provide.

In any situation, where I’m lost, I always find it best to ask for help. From people, from my trusted tribe and/or from the universe. Sometimes from all three.

I always forget how easy it is to ask. I forget how challenging it is to be patient and listen.

It is however, truly that simple. Tune into what matters most to you, how you want to feel, what brings you joy and from that place, ask for guidance. Then listen and act when you feel called to do so.

That is what brought me here. That is what put me on this train. That is what brought me down memory lane and gave me the gift of those special moments with Dan. The beginning of my journey in this stunningly beautiful part of the world.

These are the roots of my courage, my fearlessness and my resiliency and an independent woman in the face of the unknown. This is a reminder of my power to create; when I juxtapose the beginning to now, I can SEE it.

That is why I’m telling you this story. I can only trust that you needed to hear it as much as I needed to tell it.

Travel well, beautiful soul.

“May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you, and the pure light within you guide your way on.” – Irish blessing.

 

 

 

Knocking on doors…

It’s Saturday night. I’ve just landed from a flight to see one of my tribe; the name I’ve given to a select core group of people, both male and female, who are in the deepest and most intimate inner circle of my life. These people are my most trusted advisors and my most sacred relationships. This trip lifted my heart. It was a gift.

My belly is full from my favorite roll at my favorite sushi place. A place that knows me so well, I barely have to ask for my custom order.

I’m sitting in my backyard. I remodeled it last year into a meditation garden complete with sitting rocks, and all the elements: earth, wind, water, fire. As such, the flames of the fire pit dance before me atop lava rocks (because when your roots are Hawaiian, lava means something) and I can both see and hear the waterfall that forms the center attraction of the space.

Besides typing on this computer, I’m taking pauses in between to watch the stars emerge as the sky darkens into night.

I cannot, at this moment, get over the fact that THIS is the life I am blessed to live.

The past few weeks have been exceptionally tough for me on all levels. It’s frighteningly easy to fall down into the dark parts of our journeys and to stay there. I’ve spent more time there lately than I’ve ever dreamed I would.

Major shifts are happening in my world. I’m finding I’m not alone. Astrology forecasts also back up what I’m feeling.

In my work with clients I talk a lot about being self aware. Being present in the moment. Like now for instance, my left leg is crossed over my right ankle and my right ankle is feeling a bit too much heat from the flames of the fire pit, as is the arch of my left foot.  As I tune in more, I can feel a slight breeze coming at the left side of my face, brushing gently at my nose, cheeks and the left top most lip.

I tune into my breath. It’s deep and slow. I am relaxed. (It’s hard not to relax back here…). And as I type, I’m not exactly sure where this is going. The inspiration to write came upon me suddenly and I followed it.

Three years ago to this week, I left my job to explore how I wanted my life to look and feel. I am exceptionally proud of what I’ve done. I am grateful for each trip, each teacher, each nap, each lesson, each moment where I got to choose actively how my time would be spent.

The lifestyle I’ve led is full of abundance. At the end of 2016 there was an influx of financial abundance as well which gave me even greater freedom to choose how to spend my time.

I traveled. I built this garden. I changed how I see the world (both literally through Lasik surgery and figuratively working with well known life coaches like Martha Beck and L’Erin Alta).

I explored the universe, both physically and spiritually. This time has been a tremendous gift.

I’m ready now, to return to something different. I’ve talked about my pendulum theory in blogs before. It is, in short, the theory that when we leave one thing which created pain, misery or suffering we will quickly run to the farthest point opposite to balance the pain only to realize in the end, that we probably would be most happy in the middle.

I had this experience with my former husband who was the polar opposite of my long-term three year relationship before him.

I’m experiencing it now having run completely away from my corporate career (mostly, in hindsight, to escape my toxic boss) into as much of a gypsy lifestyle as I could manage as a single mom with two kids. I was dead-set on showing my daughters that life could be more than rushing, laptops after dinner and conference calls that would disrupt our morning routine.

I’ve showed them. I’m ready to show them what balance (to me) looks like.

I’ve discovered and learned so much growing and launching my business. I’ve explored technology in a completely new way, launching two CRMs and building and maintaining a website (not to mention all the little connections that go into a website…I have five additional systems that support these).

I’ve created content from scratch and facilitated workshops and seminars for large and well known corporations. I’ve been on stages for the National Diversity Counsel and for a women’s conference for Microsoft. These things make me proud.

I’ve also discovered that entrepreneurship can be, for me, lonely and isolating.

I miss being on (and leading) a team.  I miss the feeling that comes from a group of collaborators celebrating an accomplishment, or the brainstorming of a solution. I miss crunching numbers and modeling options on the backside of the crunch.

My personal business didn’t grow big enough to provide these things for me. Instead, it was a testing ground for all the ways I might have the opportunity to help people make the most of being alive.

I have a love of business in general and how it works. I miss the front row seat of my career, where I got to watch some massive business engines in action.

I miss being a part of something that’s bigger than myself.

When I built my company, I built it on the person I was three years ago. Today, I am a completely different human in countless ways. I’ve grown and developed in a way that working in a head’s down, climbing-the-ladder corporate career could never have provided. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m smarter, more fearless and more confident in my skills.

When I left my job I would often comment that I left my career and that I was never going back.

It turns out, no matter what, you can’t go back.

Because once you learn who you really are and what truly makes you tick; you can’t unlearn these things.

I’m ready now, to make a bigger difference in the world.

I have no idea what that looks like. I trust that in time, where I’m supposed to be will be crystal clear. As per my usual M.O., I’ll keep knocking on doors and see which ones open. I’ll look at everything that comes my way and actively chase the ones that make me feel lighter and more expansive.

I don’t know the path I’m going to walk next. I am excited to find it and embrace it.

Tonight, however, I’m simply going to open a bottle of wine, and count the stars. Perhaps I’ll add a s’more or two to the mix…because I can.

Tomorrow, as I’ve also learned, can wait until it becomes today.

 

 

 

Don’t take this for granted…

I remember when I was younger, my mother used to comment on her hands (a lot). Always saying how “old” they looked. Another of her favorites was “You can always tell a woman’s age by her hands.”

With my mom now fully in the throws of her dementia (she’s late stage 6, early stage 7 (and there are only 7 stages)), she’s still concerned with her hands and how they look. She points at them, at the various flaws she sees and makes a “yuck” face.  

I have a gorgeous and very dear friend who LOVES jewelry and at her age, in the mid 60s, she refuses to wear her rings because it calls attention to her aging hands. I believe this assessment is rooted in the generation in which my friend and mom were raised. 

I believe this because when I see their hands, I don’t think age, I think wisdom.

This dear friend also sings in her community choir. Each spring and winter season there is a concert. I always attend and I always bring my daughters. 

The concerts are wonderful. Even more wonderful than the concerts, are the choir members and the musicians. These humans have lived full lives. What I see when I am in that room and they are all on stage is YEARS of collective wisdom. 

I see the stories of their lives written on their faces. I hear the power of their wisdom as it resonates in their voices as they sing. I witness their joy and heartache as songs pull different emotions; reflective of the stories from their lifetimes. I feel their understanding. I honor their journeys to the moment. 

I feel blessed to be in witness and a recipient of this beauty; this gift. 

One of my most prominent memories when I was pregnant with my first daughter was the freedom to wear what felt good to me. I’ve always been rather petite, albeit athletically built. It was different to feel the weight and roundness of my pregnant body. Each day I would dress, first and foremost for comfort. The last thing I thought about was my “presentation” or how I looked. 

It was revolutionarily freeing. 

For the first time in my life, I had ZERO control over what my body looked like and I embraced it fully. I reveled in my denim skirts with elastic waist bands, tightly fitted shirts stretched over my proudly protruding belly and my cowboy boots because it felt good to contain my swollen ankles.

I felt zero shame and a significant amount of fascination in every ounce of my body simply because my focus was on growing a human being inside of me. (Two kids later, this concept still blows me away.)

When I am in that concert hall, listening to my beloved friend and her fellow choir singers doing their thing, I am again, gifted with the same freedom; this time from outside of myself. The freedom to pursue joy and comfort.

This is the dream I have always had for my parents. To feel the freedom to embrace and share their wisdom and life experiences. To revel in their collective and individual journeys. To throw caution to the wind and explore the things they never gave themselves permission to do. To stop holding back because they were not “qualified” by society standards or it wasn’t an “appropriate” thing to do. 

Their current reality however, is different. 

My parents are, quite simply (at the moment), lacking reasons to celebrate. 

Their “golden” years are anything but. Instead, in a recent conversation, my dad called them the “rusty” years. 

This rust has eaten at Mom’s brain leaving her unable to talk or speak a complete thought. Knowing that I am her baby, as indicated by pointing at me and rocking her arms cradled back and forth, but unable to speak my name. 

The rust has eaten at Dad’s lungs rendering breathing and processing oxygen a significantly difficult task. 

This rust is now eating at their life savings because of the medical help my mom needs just to be safe. 

My entire family is working diligently to find a way to help them restore their joy and freedom, their stimulation and comfort; simple things their illness has robbed from them. 

These are basics; basics that a fully functioning human being takes completely for granted. There’s another quote that comes to mind as I type the last sentence: “Youth is wasted on the young.” 

I don’t agree that it’s wasted. I do agree that at some point in our lives we will take advantage of our precious human bodies. We will drink too much and eat foods that do not serve our systems. We will deprive our bodies of sleep, perhaps we will add a toxicity to its system that it tries diligently to work through as to not harm us permanently. 

Your healthy body is a gift. 

Your joy, access to joy and power to create joy, is a gift. 

Your youth (regardless of your age) is a gift. 

My advice? Do not squander these gifts. Do not take them for granted. USE them to create the foundation of the life that will serve you late into your years. Drop the need to please. Choose what feels best to you. Embrace joy and freedom. 

At the end of your days, let your hands be a statement of the work you’ve done to leave the world a better place than when you entered it.

Be proud of the story that your hands will tell because someone like me, who is watching you, will be inspired and honored to learn from what you’ve done in your lifetime. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It doesn’t have to be amazing. 

I pray only that your stories are authentic to you and that you have the mindfulness to value them for the wisdom they have the power to impart to others.

 

 

 

A fork in the road

After having recently finished Tara Mohr’s Playing Big, a book I highly recommend (note: it’s written for a female audience), there’s a line that repeatedly keeps playing audibly in my head.

The line is “my slice of the truth to tell”. 

Tara’s reference in this comment addresses a common misconception among women that if they don’t have a degree or are not certified or an “expert” in something then they don’t feel “qualified” to be able to speak or share ideas on the subject. I know, that in my own life, this is truer than true. 

I call myself a coach for lack of a better title but I do not have a coaching certificate. (Which is frankly why I hesitate to use the title). When I went through the process involving the research and expense of a coaching certification I realized, early on and very quickly, that I wanted the strength of my services to come from my diverse passions and interests and to be less rooted in any one specific program or method. 

Learning is a strength of mine; I’m always in study of something new that fascinates me and I incorporate as much of that knowledge into my work. I allow my life’s experiences to take me in what ever direction I’m intended to flow. Sometimes that direction surprises me.

Sometimes it takes me to places I never intended to go. I’ve recently had a fork in efforts that has caught me off guard and made me feel that sense of “Who am I?” to which I now respond…THIS is my truth. 

The essence and root for me of  “my slice of the truth to tell”, as I personalize Tara’s words, are  that my own personal experiences are enough for me to speak from because they are my experiences. There is no one else on this planet like me (or like any of us) therefore, the experience I have is unique. That I have the lens and the ability, permission and dare I say, responsibility to share my view.

This was reinforced last night, before I sit today writing this, by a line in my Desire Map planner that said “Your scars are someone else’s signs of hope”.

As a result, this post will follow one prong of the new fork because, at the primary moment, the lightening bolt that has hit me on this very close-to-home topic, is all consuming.

My beloved mother, Sonjie (SON-ya), has Frontotemporal demential (FTD) aka Pick’s disease. By as much as my family can calculate going back to really early symptoms we mistook as something else, we think perhaps she’s been sick for 9 years or so. She was officially diagnosed 3 years ago. 

Dementia itself is not a disease, it’s a description of a collection of diseases that all have common symptoms including memory loss and lack of ability to execute on the normal tasks of day-to-day living. Alzheimer’s is the most common. 

Pick’s disease affects the frontal lobe of the brain first and most significantly. This part of our brain is the part that controls personality, emotions, behavior and language. We first noticed an issue when it was obvious in her language.

It was, however, when we connected the symptoms backwards across time that we realized a lot of my mom’s idiosyncrasies were connected to this disease. I’m not sure if this common or not, as it’s not the simplest to research however with my mom, what’s happened is that all of her uniques qualities, things as a child that would make me roll my eyes and say “oh, Mom…” have been exponentially amplified.  

One example is her desire to make sure everything looks “right”. Whether it’s on her person, or in her home; presentation has always been important to my mother. She was hyper-vigilant when I was a child.

With her disease, this manifests in the inability for her to sit still. She’s always fussing with this and that. Or when someone like me, her comparatively messy and expansive daughter shows up and puts things here and there, I can’t tell you how often they disappear because she has “stashed” them away to keep things clean.  

Over the course of time, watching my mother’s disease progress, especially at a distance (she’s in New Hampshire and I’m in Washington state), has been – well, everything you would expect it to be. 

There have been moments, because it’s not 100% in front of me, that I can live my normal day-to-day without much disruption and days when I feel helpless because my capacity to be there is limited by time, resources and a 6+ hour plane flight. 

It’s only recently, as my mom’s decline has been more pronounced and we are getting into the thick of needing more help; as our conversations have gotten less and less and the ones I have with my dad have become more ominous, that the gravity of the situation is weighing heavy. 

A I prepare for a trip a to see my parents in less than a week, the immenseness of what I’m flying into is hitting me. My mother has recently been further affected by a series of mini strokes which left her brain bleeding which even more deeply diminished her already limited physical resources. 

My family is remarkable. She’s surrounded by 3 of my 4 amazing brothers and sisters and their spouses and some life-long friends who have also been a tremendous amount of love and support.

My other “out-of-town” sister from Denver was just there last week during my mom’s week of rehabilitation making plans for the inevitable with the local funeral home and talking to social workers trying to gather as much information to plan ahead as possible.  

Being so far away, it’s been challenging to avoid guilt. As a result of my distance, I’m finding myself turning to the internet to try and help close gaps and solve problems that have arisen as her health continues to decline. 

What I have found is a terribly broken and confusing system and, gratefully, a whole host of advocacy groups trying to make a difference. 

I’ve always been bothered by the fact that as we age, we are asked to make decisions for our future; decisions that have a massive financial and legal impacts on our comfort and security in our elder years. 

These decisions require a lawyer and a financial planner and one more key thing, foresight. 

We know now that we are supposed to “save for our future” and it wasn’t the kind of knowledge my 80-year old father or even my 69-year old mother grew up with.

It wasn’t until my dad’s final job in his career that he had a 401K plan and then he stashed away the maximum amount. At the maximum it wasn’t going to make up the gap in time where a retirement account didn’t exist. 

Knowing I’ve heard stories like this in the past from others, I dug in and did some research. It won’t likely surprise you that our population is living longer. What might surprise you is the Alzheimer’s Association quotes that 1 in 3 aging adults will have some form of dementia. 

Dementia diseases are incurable. If all the primary caregivers of adults with dementia (like my father who up until a few weeks ago was my mom’s primary caregiver) were paid, it would be valued at approximately $450 billion dollars and raise the cost of money spent on dementia care (vs. what’s nationally funded by Medicaid) by 116%. (www.TheSCANFoundation.org- Who pays for Long-Term Care?)

All those sobering facts and statistics can be found on the internet.

Here’s my version:

My parents will have to spend half of their estate in it’s entirety (until they can prove that half of the estate has less than $2,500 total) before Medicaid will kick in because their Medicare insurance my dad just switched to in order to save some money is now essentially worthless for my mom’s condition. 

At present, my parents have to make themselves poor. The money they have to spend won’t be spent on anything to celebrate their upcoming 45th wedding anniversary; it will be spent on installing railings and safety equipment in their home and the $4,000 a week, 24-hour nursing care that they need to ensure both of my parents are safe and comfortable, which again isn’t covered by their insurance. (My dad, at 80, with his own health problems is no longer capable of caring for my mom in her declined state.)

They will pay for in-home nursing care until we can get my mom a bed in a facility, somewhere, any of which is about $10,000/month until Medicaid kicks in (assuming the place we get accepts Medicaid) which essentially cuts the in home expense to about half and extends how long my mom can have the help she requires.

All the places locally where she is on a “waitlist” gave us a timeline for availability of approximately one year. We’ve been told the Medicaid approval process can take anywhere between 6-9 months.

If you’re doing the math with me on the expense and the approval timelines, my parents would need to have at least $120,000 in the bank just to cover my mom’s care (and nothing else) until they can get government help. My parents don’t have that kind of money. 

So then what? 

I don’t know. That’s what. 

After reading the NH State Plan on Aging written by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)  and the Bureau of Elderly and Aging Services (BEAS) – (Side note: there are more acroymns in this system than when I was working at Microsoft, T-Mobile and Expedia Inc. combined, to the point where I had to make myself a glossary just to read the documents. I wish I was joking.) 

It’s on the second page of actual content in the plan that references the budget cuts and hiring freeze which had left the NH State DHHS department running with 350 vacant positions (as of the writing of the document a few years back). It’s no wonder I haven’t gotten a call back from anyone when I called to ask about navigating this complex and broken system.  Did I mention that the aging population is growing exponentially? I’m sensing a huge divide in the people who need help and the ones who are in a position to actually help. 

There are resources in the market you can pay for; consultants and the like who specialize in helping families like ours navigate these waters but what happens in families that are less resourced than my parents?

My heart hurts as I write these words and it’s hard for me to go a day without tears; not only for my mom but for all of the other people in similar situations who don’t have my families’ time, resources and connections. My sister-in-law has been a hero. My mom calls her the sweet lady because she can’t remember her name. Honestly, when I see her next week, I don’t know if she will remember mine. 

It doesn’t matter to me if she knows my name. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to hold her hand and to smile at her and love on her. I’m grateful to have the resources to see long-term care facilities side by side with my dad and hopefully be in a position to hold space for him to grieve. Something he hasn’t really had a chance to do. 

Dementia has stolen my mother piece by piece. It has also stolen the life my parents dreamed of post retirement. 

The system that is supposed to be available to take care of her is broken. 

My mom has more help and champions than most and we are still struggling, frustrated and tired and I’m not even in the thick of it. My heart breaks for all of it.

There has to be a better way. I have no idea at the moment what that it is.

I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what steps to take. I know only that there’s a problem and I’m engulfed by a desire to fix it. I have no idea where this desire will lead.

If I’ve learned anything in my journey, it’s that when I get really emotional about something; it’s a sign and one I can’t ignore. 

I’ll continue to do what I always do; I’m asking each day for the divine and infinite intelligence of the universe to guide me to where I can do my best work and as opportunities make themselves known, I’ll lean in and learn and I’ll keep sharing it.

Because I’m the only me there will ever be and this is how I do my work in the world. 

In continued love and gratitude for you and your family, 

LC