Dad

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Today is Father’s Day!  Father’s Day was started in the the early 20th century by Sonora Smart Dodd.  Dodd was raised (along with five other siblings) by a single father after her mother died in childbirth.  She advocated for a paternal alternative to Mother’s Day to recognize fathers and the special role they play in raising children.

The truth is, mother and father relationships aren’t what Leave It to Beaver might have had you believe.  Some mothers do the lion share of the work in child-raising.  Some fathers (like Dodd’s) do.  Sometimes it is equal.  Sometimes it is not.

I really appreciated this thought from one of my girl crush’s June Diane Raphael which she shared on Instagram last Mother’s Day,”special love to those of us who have lost our moms, have a difficult relationship w our moms, have lost children, or are struggling to become mothers.”

It isn’t always as simple as a Hallmark card.

My dad and I weren’t always close when I was growing up.  He lived four hours away and I only saw him once a month.  Extended time over the summer.  Naturally, since we lived so far apart, a lot of our time together was spent in a car.  In fact, my favorite memories of my dad from when I was a kid were those long hours in the car.  I always snagged the front seat (brothers go in the back) so my dad and I would spend endless hours catching up with each other and cracking bad jokes.  There was nothing remarkable about any of those hours or conversations, but the special was in the ordinary.

Here’s me and my dad when I was a kid, we probably had had one of those long conversations during a car ride recently.  Plus, it was the 80s so you could sit a kid this little in the front seat:

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Now, that I’ve grown up we both have to navigate a new relationship.  A few years ago, I went through a particularly rough time and my dad was there for me.  Even more remarkable, we weren’t just a parent/child relationship any more.  We weren’t even a parent/adult child relationship.  My dad became my friend.

Now I’m so grateful for the special relationship that we have.  We still have the same dry, sarcastic sense of humor which can (accidentally) offend others.  We both know what it feels like to have to apologize because you offended someone with your sense of humor.  We both love to sing along with the radio in the car.  We both know what it feels like to lose sleep because of anxious thoughts and worries.  We both love social interactions and parties but need mental energy to prepare and alone time to recover from them.  We love talking about ideas and family and what makes people tick.  I’m really glad my dad is my friend.

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He doesn’t even know this, but seven years ago, when my paternal grandmother died we were getting dressed for the funeral and my stepmother said we had to be sure to take handkerchiefs with us in case we started crying.  I’ve never owned or used a handkerchief before in my life, but ok.  She gave me one of my dad’s that was embroidered with a letter “S” which is the first letter of his first name.

I didn’t cry that day or use the handkerchief, but I kept it.  I’ve carried it with me everywhere I’ve gone for the past seven years.  It is one of my valued possessions and I know I will continue to carry it with me for the rest of my life.    It feels like I am taking a small part of my dad with me everywhere that I go.  On particularly hard days, I sleep with it under my pillow.

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I know it’s just a handkerchief, but the symbolism is something much deeper than that.  I will carry the lessons I have learned from my dad and the love he has shown me everywhere I go.  I hope you have had those blessings from a father the way that I have, but if you are one of those with difficult or strained relationships or someone with a father that has passed on, you have my compassion and just remember that lessons and love will come from many people and many relationships over the years as long as you are willing to accept them.

If you need to, I’ll even let you borrow my handkerchief.

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Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Yoga in the Dog Puke

Since I’ve been staying with my friend Katie (first time we have lived together since college in 2002-2003), we’ve gotten into a really good routine of self-care and being productive.  One thing we schedule into every day is exercise which is often yoga since we both love it.

Unfortunately, Katie’s adorable dogs decided to throw up all over the carpet in the room where we do yoga.

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What do you do in this situation?  You’ve created a space for self-care and relaxation and someone went and puked all of it.  What a fabulous metaphor for life!  You can spend the rest of your life planning on how you will take the best care of yourself or making plans and inevitably someone will come along and vomit all over your plans.

So what do you do?

You do what Katie and I did.  You clean and sanitize then roll out your yoga mat and get your zen on.

Don’t get distracted by the puke coming your way, clean it up, and get on with the business of caring for yourself and being your best self.  Namaste.

 

 

 

God Laughs

When I started this blog, it was supposed to be about my adventure of quitting my job, driving to California alone, and starting a new life and finding new opportunities out there.  After six weeks of this next chapter in my life, I’ve been reminded of something:

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I love to make plans.  I love planners and calendars and schedules and organization.  I thought I had a plan.  I thought I knew the future.  All the while, God was having a good ol’ chuckle!  California was not a good fit and it was a negative experience.  I don’t want to harp on the negativity, but reflect and look forward to the positive.  I will share what I learned most from the experience:  This whole idea and “plan” came after a year of personal growth and development.  A path of learning to deeply and completely love and accept myself just as I am.  What I didn’t fully realize until now is that when you learn to love yourself and treat yourself well, you become a lot less tolerant of people who don’t.    Change can be a painful process, both when life seems to be getting worse and when it seems to be getting better. Change is hard.  Period.  Doesn’t matter how good or bad the change is.  Part of this is experience is learning when things don’t fit anymore.

Here is what I learned doesn’t fit: old clothes because of weight loss.  Old relationships because some people preferred you with low self-esteem.  Old jobs or careers because of shifting interests and priorities.  Don’t try to make the old fit again.  It doesn’t and it is good that it doesn’t.  Find your new clothes, new relationships, and new career.  Or in words of the great philosopher Patrick Verona, from 10 Things I Hate About You, “Don’t let anyone ever make you feel like you don’t deserve what you want.”

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God might have been laughing at me, but He had an amazing plan in the future beyond what I could have imagined.

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Let’s back up to last October.  I had been working on my self-improvement journey for about five months at that point.  Out of the blue, my old college roommate Katie contacted me.  Katie and I hadn’t spoken in thirteen years.  We hadn’t seen each other, talked, Facebooked, anything for THIRTEEN YEARS.  We started talking again.  We caught up on each other’s lives.  Over the next few months, our relationship grew from texting to phone calls and in March, I drove down to Charlotte to visit her and meet her husband.  They were contemplating a move to San Antonio, TX because Katie is pregnant and were wanting to settle into a community, closer to family, as they begin to raise their family.  Katie and I had some late night, deep conversations about many topics, but one of which was my contemplation about moving to California.

Fast forward to May and I’m in the midst of moving to California and Katie is planning her family’s move to San Antonio.  I was on the phone with Katie a lot while I was in California because it wasn’t feeling right and I was so confused about how my plans were not working out.  When it was finally enough and I left California, I had no idea what my next steps were going to be.  I figured I would go home to Virginia but as I was driving through New Mexico, my phone rang.  Here is how the conversation basically went down:

Laura: “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I know California wasn’t it.”

Katie: “So where are you right now?”

Laura: “I’m in New Mexico.”

Katie: “I’m getting into San Antonio tomorrow, we can get into our new house at noon.  Unpacking is going to be so stressful because Evan (her husband) has to go back to Georgia to finish up his job for three weeks.  It’s going to be really lonely in that house while he’s gone.”

*my brain starts to spark*

Katie: “You know, New Mexico isn’t that far from Texas.  How far are you from San Antonio?”

Laura: “About eight hours.”

Katie: “Why don’t you just move to Texas?”

Twelve hours and lots of phone calls and conversations later, we had a new plan.  Or maybe God had a plan all along.

I could be a blessing to Katie by staying with her and keeping her company for three weeks so she isn’t pregnant and alone in a new city trying to unpack an entire house.  Katie could be a blessing to me by letting me stay with her and introducing me to the community and family she already knows in San Antonio.

Just like that, my life had changed again.

Now, here I am, living in Texas.  The time I have spent with Katie has been the most uplifting, encouraging, and happy experience I have had in a long time.  We have so many plans, including growing our business (if you want to drop body fat and optimize your life, call us!). I’m job searching and apartment hunting as I contemplate if I’ll stay in San Antonio or maybe go to Austin.

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It feels good to know that I can be helpful to her in keeping her company and helping her unpack and set up her house.

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We’ve also had an amazing time connecting with Katie’s friends and family in the area.

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I also get to hang out with Maia and Finn.

The truth is, I don’t know where the future is going to take me.  All I know is that it is going to be amazing because this was a path laid out for me by a higher power and it is definitely in service of what this whole blog is about: being my best self.  I’m going to drop the ego that clung to an idea of a future in California and just ride the waves I’ve been given.  For me, for now, that is Texas.  For the first time in a long time, I’m surrounded by people that love me, that respect me, that treat me well.  Most importantly, I love and respect myself.

And you know what?  It is way more fun…to be surprised.

 

 

The Hard is What Makes It Great

 

It has been almost a month since I moved to California and I think the fairy-tale elements have started to wear thin.  The reality of starting over in a completely new place with no support system has really started to sink in for me.  There have been some major challenges for me lately and struggles to keep my spirits high and not regress into a negative thought patterns.

I’ll be honest.  There have been some really bad days.  But, I call this blog 100% potential because I not only want to live my own 100% potential, but I hope I can help in some way for other people to want to reach for theirs.  Growth isn’t always a pretty process.  There are hard, ugly, messy days along the way to 100% potential.  Steps forward and steps back.

There’s a few things I remind myself along the way.

First, there’s always a hard part before it gets good again.  If it wasn’t hard then everyone would do it and everyone won’t do it because some people won’t change.  Some people are content to stay the same, some are afraid of changing, and some aren’t willing to fail. I’m none of those kinds of people, so I persist.  I like this quote from A League of Their Own, “Of course, it’s hard.  It’s supposed to be hard.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  Hard is what makes it great.”

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To get through the hard days, I’ve developed some strategies.

  1. Phone a friend.  My friend Katie spent two and a half hours on the phone with me during a bad day last week.
  2. Journal.  Pen.  Paper.  No computer.  Something about writing down your thoughts, slowing them down, helps tremendously.  Think of it like throwing up when you are sick.  Sometimes you just gotta get it out.
  3. Exercise.  Shoes on.  Walk.
  4. Watch a comforting movie.  For me, this is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
  5. Meditation.  HayHouse Meditations Podcast has been great for getting me through some less-than-optimal days.
  6. Read.  I’ve been reading 1-2 books a week which was a very specific goal I set up myself.  Holding myself accountable to that is a good way to keep my mind busy when it wants to wallow or worry.
  7. Remember why you started.  Picture who you were a year ago.  Picture what you look like if you are living up to 100% of your potential.  Which one do you want to be?

Some things I have intentionally NOT done to cheer myself up:

  1. Eat.  In the past I would have drowned my sorrows in ice cream or chocolate chip cookies.  It might feel good in the moment, but that temporary fix makes for a long term problem and it still doesn’t solve whatever you were upset about in the first place.  Food is fuel, not comfort.
  2. Shopping.  See above.  The burst of serotonin from purchasing a new outfit might feel good for an hour, but it doesn’t last and eventually you end up with no money and the same problems. 

I decided to write about this because I would hate to portray that my move to California is nothing short of perfection.  I feel like too often people try to portray their lives as perfect because they are afraid to show the scars.  The truth is I love California and I’m excited to make it my home.  The other side of the truth is that is REALLY hard to start over somewhere by yourself even when your intuition is telling you it is the right choice. Walking by faith alone, at least for me, is often filled with doubt, uncertainty, and insecurity.  But I don’t use these as an excuse to turn back.

I will persevere.

I will strive every day for 100% potential.

And the hard will be what makes it great.