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Being Mormon

Hello, huggable New Year!

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been” 

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000-Ranier Marie Rilke

As it’s a fresh New Year, I thought now was the time to introduce my fresh new blog name.  “The Melbourne Mormon is in the process of rebranding to “Confessions of a Serial Hugger”. It’s still me though…

Back in August, President Nelson (president of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) asked us not to refer to ourselves as “Mormons” anymore. Just to clarify, we are still Mormons and our faith has not changed.  Everything’s the same, except for the nickname that we’ve called ourselves for years (read more about it here). Oh and we shaved off an hour of church starting this year.

Change is always good. I even cut off my long hair.

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New Summer hairdo in the bathroom mirror selfie

One of my favorite things in the world is hugs. It’s been said that a hug is a handshake from the heart. Whoever said this is speaking my language. I am a hugger. Hugs make everyone feel better. Quick, hug someone right now…come on, I double dog dare you.

I hug everyone…especially those who say they are not huggers and even people I’ve just met. Sometimes I warn them I’m about to hug them and sometimes I can sense they are a hugger too. Hugging is a win win.

Who doesn’t love a good hug?

Americans seem to be more huggers and Australians are more kissers. Aussies do the cheek kiss as a greeting.  So when I first moved here, I didn’t know how it worked. I got nervous when I’d arrive somewhere and the lean-in greeting would come my way. What if I lean to the wrong side? or turned the wrong way? What if an intended cheek kiss turned into an accidental lip-lock? Now that I’ve lived in Australia for nineteen years, I’ve learned that men usually kiss the lady’s cheek and we just kiss the air. Or its kind of a go cheek to cheek thing and both kiss the air. It always seems to be right cheek, so tilt your head left. But if you’re kissing a European, you kiss both sides. CON-FUS-ING. But a hug, I think, has no rules at all. Just open your arms and invite them in.

So welcome to the first blog post of Confessions of a Serial Hugger…at least that’s the name I think I’ve decided to go with…I did play around with hug-a-holic???

What do you think?

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Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Happy New Year Everyone

♥♥♥♥♥

Feature photo: by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

 

 

Fluffy life stuff

Your world is only created through you. So what kind of a world are you creating?

Our adult lives begin with a moment of stillness. When you’re not on a forced schedule. When someone is not telling you what to do and when to do it. Then you realize, it’s all up to you. It’s sweet and exciting until it gets hard and then in the back of our heads, we hear our parents’ voices telling us that ‘life is not meant to be easy’.

So we live the best way we know how.  We make mistakes and hopefully we learn from them. We get busy making a life for ourselves. It’s sometimes fun, sometimes hard and sometimes the joy drains out of us and sometimes we live a life that’s just content. I don’t want content.

Do you feel alive? Or are you just going through the motions of someone living?

Are you happy or sad? Satisfied or empty? Full of purpose or out there searching for meaning? Or do you feel stuck and unsure of what your life needs? Maybe something is missing? Does your life have meaning and purpose?

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Meaning and purpose are what make a life. Without these things, we have no story. Without a story, we do not exist.

Everyone has a story and everyone’s story matters, right? Although Sometimes I feel like if I just sat on the couch binge watching Netflix, who would care? But if I did that, then nothing would get done and at the end the day I would feel like I wasted it and my to-do list would still be waiting for me. Things piled up is a worse feeling for me because I get overwhelmed and more all I want to do is hide under the covers or binge watch Netflix.

So a day (or days) spent binge watching can leave you empty.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

In order to come alive, you need to serve something greater than yourself. You need to find that thing that makes your heart beat a little bit faster. What greater purpose are you serving? And are you really serving it? It’s important to be a part of a larger journey.

A life that matters, is a life that has MEANING.

Do something that you are passionate about every day. Every moment you stay longer in a place you shouldn’t be, you start to become extraordinarily ordinary. Because it keeps you from falling into your own truth.

Stand in your truth!

So how do you know you’re heading towards your own truth? Where do you belong? Well, I think your gut tells you. An evolution that lives inside all of us that leads us to where we belong. All those little inklings, those feelings that steer you around in life. God sends messages…your life is always speaking to you. The busy and chaos of today are so loud, distracting and noisy we often don’t hear or feel those messages. It’s only when we allow ourselves to sit still, then we might be able to feel it. God talks to us in the still and these still small voices come from within.

What is your life’s calling? What were you put on this earth to do? We all have one, something that only you can do. Something you came here to fulfill. Your treasure of true self that you already possess.

“Let your life speak”

Your life calling is your foundation.  It’s solid and keeps you grounded especially whenever your house starts to fall apart. You know when you feel not right and off balance. Your foundation is that thing that keeps you going and makes you feel you want to keep working at it no matter whats going on around you…that is your calling.

Be impactful. Where do you have the most impact?

What is your real work and who or what will you fight for? Doing something every day that you do not believe in gives you a scar across your collective soul. Don’t waste your life doing meaningless projects. Don’t talk about “one day” just get started. Do what you know you need to do. Do what you’ve been thinking about. Make that choice.

Be careful of the imposter syndrome…telling yourself “I’m not worthy of this” or “they are going to figure out I’m a fake”. You are in that room because you belong there. Don’t feed yourself cruel words that can barricade or put roadblocks up in your path. I usually know that I’m heading in the right direction when initially its hard or seems crazy or I’m constantly trying to talk myself out of it. But once I start on that path I quickly start to feel right inside and know I’m doing the right thing. Mistakes are all part of life. Even our worst decisions don’t separate us from humanity.

Don’t let people that don’t matter too much, matter too much. 

Your crown has been paid for and all you have to do is put it on your head. Understand the power from which you come from.

 

Figure out what inspires you and do that.

Start today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motherhood

Even a volcano couldn’t keep us away from our Mother-Daughter Bali retreat.

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you tried not to think about it just in case it didn’t happen? And every time you tried to get it out of your head the universe sends you signals that you need it? Little promptings that will not go away? That still small voice.

Well, this happened to me because I desperately wanted something for my daughter that could only happen this year because next year she would be too old for it.

I was able to jump through many obstacles to make it happen. I even took on a volcano! Sometimes it’s easier to fight for someone you love than for yourself.

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The Yellow Sunflower Cafe, Ubud (Our favorite place to eat)

The first week of the school holidays, my daughter and I had an opportunity of experiencing a wonderful mother-daughter retreat in the peaceful calm jungle of Ubud in Bali, Indonesia. Where hotel rooms and cafe’s don’t have walls, Kombucha is a regular drink on every menu and mosquito nets over beds are used for their intended purpose, not just for looks.

The retreat was the creation of Janoel Liddy and ran by her and two other incredible women who genuinely care about empowering, honoring and celebrating women, especially those young ones about to ‘Step into Womanhood’ and that’s the name of this program.  I knew it was something my 13-year-old daughter could benefit from.


I learned about this retreat from another mother back in February. Once I heard about it, my mind and heart wouldn’t let it go. The next week I jumped online and found out as much as I could. The more I read the more I knew we HAD to be a part of it.

It’s a program designed for mothers and daughters ages 11-13 to talk, spend time together and honour everything about being a woman. (Here is the website again for you to explore…www.stepintowomanhood.com)

I spent months churning my wheels in the background doing everything I could to make this happen for my daughter and me. Seemed like the closer I got to taste it, something else would get in the way. I kept plugging away until airline tickets were booked, deposits were paid and bags were packed.

The day before we were due to fly out, Mount Agung, an active volcano in Bali erupted closing the airport in Bali stranding thousands of tourist. It was also my 47th birthday and I spent the night dressed up as my teenage idol dancing the night away with friends at a fundraiser for my son’s primary school. I tried not to think about what would happen in the morning.

All I knew for sure is that the universe wanted me to go but the universe was also telling me something else. My sweet friend, Tui, who had been fighting cancer for over a year moved into palliative care only days before I was due to leave. We parted with a goodbye hug and a promise to see her on the 8th of July when I returned with the small elephant souvenir she asked for.

Everything. was. in. the. Lord’s. hands.

The Uber picked us up at 3:30am. My daughter and I arrived at the airport three hours before our scheduled flight not knowing if we would be taking a taxi back home shortly in the freezing cold. I was sleep deprived and surrendered myself to the will of the stronger current. I had no idea which way it was taking us. As the hours passed it became clear that we were indeed getting on our flight and by that afternoon, we were settled into our beautiful room in sunny Ubud with no TV and sketchy internet. Both of us hardly believing we were really in Bali.

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A red dragonfly my daughter pointed out to me just outside our room. Photo credit: Janoel Liddy

Early the next morning something woke me at 4:16am. It was dark and I almost forgot where I was. I got up to use the toilet and went back to bed. I laid there for only a few mins when I received a text message from one of Tui’s sons…

“Mum just passed. She was holding Carl’s hand looking at me 12 minutes ago.”

Under my princess-like mosquito net, I felt encompassed by Tui’s love. She held me while I cried. She was happy, laughing and smiling. She said “It’s ok Love, I’m with Heavenly Father and I’m not in any pain. It’s beautiful here.’ I was able to text back and forth with her sons as well as send messages to those who loved her from our ward.

By the time the sun came up, I was all cried out and ready to start the day with my beautiful daughter. I was eager and willing to take in every positive thing offered to me.

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Photo credit: Janoel Liddy

After a yummy breakfast of banana pancakes and black rice pudding with coconut milk (delicious!), we walked down to the Wantilan (a Balinese pavilion). As we stood there waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I overheard two mothers talking about how unreliable the internet has been except for this morning when it was working perfectly for a few hours. I thought of Tui.

We were welcomed with beautiful bright flowers inviting us up the stairs and then each of us participated in a traditional smudging to purify or cleanse the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place. We all gladly left anything we didn’t need at the door and entered our space with respect, love and openness.

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Here was our beautiful space inside the wantilan. Looking at the photo now makes me miss all that space held for each of us. Photo credit: Janoel Liddy

We took a seat on a cushion and spent the first hour getting to know the other mothers and daughters as well as our professional hosts for the week; Janoel, Rose and Melissa. It was comfortable, easy and in many ways, I felt like I already knew all of them.

We were lovingly maneuvered through seamless steps of the program and each part mattered deeply. We learned the importance of the words ‘I See You’ as we looked into each other’s eyes and spoke them. I also learned how it felt to ‘be seen’, something we don’t always allow time for in our busy schedules.

We created a safe space that allowed each of us to build on ourselves wherever we were in life. We cried, laughed, shared and danced. We hugged, embraced, loved and opened ourselves up to possibilities we didn’t usually have time for in our busy realities. We explored yoga and meditation with the gorgeous Melissa and learned about our different personality types with sweet Rose.

We could see our daughters as the little girls they still are sometimes and the beautiful women they are becoming.  To see it all unravel before your eyes was a gift, like time standing still.

We were full of courage as we rafted down the Ayung river one day, then sharing our personal stories through tears the next.

We enjoyed being pampered in the open jungle with massages, facials or manicures with our daughters then talking about our cycles, sex and what it means to be a woman the next.

We participated in traditional temple blessings in the morning then after lunch, we stood in a circle while we each of us had a turn sitting in the middle. The person in the middle sat while everyone around the circle shared what they loved about you when all you could do was listen.

We learned the importance of self-care and part of that is allowing yourself space and freedom when you need it without feeling guilty.

With each new day, new experiences, feelings and understandings about ourselves came to light. A little sadness crept in with each day also as it brought us closer to the end of the week. We left old baggage behind and packed new luggage full of everything we learned and experienced. The things we wanted to take and include in our lives back at home.

This week we spent together I will hold forever in my heart. She’s only 13 now but I hope she looks back on this week with fondness. And may the seeds that were planted grow inside her as she finds her own way to womanhood.

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To Tui my Moma Tinker,

You are a beautiful woman who stayed positive throughout the fight. I felt you with us several times throughout the week. Thank you for touching my life.

To Mom,

Thank you for making this trip even possible. You gave both Maddie and me something that we couldn’t give each other without your help. I don’t know how I can ever repay you. I love you.

 

Being Mormon, Growing pains

Wash Day Soup–My Grandma’s solution to an easy dinner on a busy day

 

At my house, we grew up eating ‘Wash Day Soup’. From memory, it was cooked vegetables cut up and served in warm milk. I know right. I’m sure there was more too it but it’s a recipe I never asked for because I was not a fan. It was my grandmother’s invention because back then, doing the wash took an entire day of scrubbing and handwashing clothes. This soup was the only thing of hers that didn’t agree with me.

My grandma made it once a week on washing day for her family when my mom was a girl and in turn, my mom made it for us. She made it because it was easy, fast and cheap but mostly she made it because of the memories. I remember the first time my mom made it for us:

“Mom’s whats for dinner?”

“Wash Day Soup.”

“What the?”

I was sure it was made from the water she just used to wash our dirty clothes.

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 Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

We all ate it begrudgingly but we loved listening to my mom’s stories of when she grew up on the farm. The most famous one being the time my grandpa made her drive the tractor when she was 5-years-old. She had to stand on the pedal to make it go but when she started going out of control she didn’t know what to do. Her older brother (who was only 9 at the time), had to quickly run alongside the tractor and pull her off. Once she was off the pedal, the tractor stopped in its tracks. Such a different world to the world I was growing up in.  In my mind, I imagined her growing up on Little House on the Prairie…a show my own children have never watched.

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Photo by Markus Petritz on Unsplash

Like most families, especially Mormon families, we all gathered together at my grandma and grandpa’s house on Sunday nights.

After church, we’d change out of our church clothes, have dinner then the six of us would pile into the car.  My mom would drive all the way up 3900 South, she never took the freeway. When we got to Foothill Drive there was a massive hill we needed to conquer. It was best to get a running start at it. My mom would always try to make the green lights but even if we made the lights I would close my eyes, hold my breath and say a silent prayer every single time we drove up that hill. I knew one day our old brown wood-paneled station wagon would fall backward on top of itself with us in it.

If we were the first to arrive we would score a parking spot in the driveway. Grandma always holding the front door open and greeting us with a big smile and open arms. I embraced her hugs as everything was always better in her arms. She made me feel like I was the only thing that mattered in the whole world. I had lots to tell her and she always listened happily. Grandpa would quack and wink at me. He was always dressed in his ‘coveralls’ ready to do another job around the house. He hardly ever sat still. Grandma would take us into the kitchen to make us our favorite snack…white buttered bread with a dusting of sugar on top. By the time we finished our snack the other cousins had arrived and were there waiting for Grandma to make theirs. We would run downstairs to play because we didn’t want to hear grandpa’s grumpy comments about how loud we were. “Oh Don, they are just kids. Let them play” grandma would say.

My Grandpa

My grandpa always lived his truth. He went to bed early and woke with the birds. I’m an early riser, just like he was. He was hardworking and incredibly smart with his money. Some people might say frugal but I say smart. He was never a businessman but had a head for business. He never really spoke about his feelings but showed love in other ways. When his heart was touched he was the first to cry and not a silent cry. The first time I saw this I didn’t know what was happening. The sobbing would start and finish within a minute. We all just gave him his space because in a few minutes he would blow his nose (sounding like a trumpet) and start grumbling about something else to change the subject.

He loved my grandma so much he built her a three bedroom double story house x2. He built a duplex but it felt more like a mansion. They occupied one side while tenants rented the other. I remember they were an older couple who never had any grandkids come to visit. My grandpa was not a big chatter but what he had to say was always important like, “Kaylynn when it comes time to buy a house, buy a duplex because the rent from the other side pays your home loan”, I think I was 10-years-old.

Grandma’s House

My Grandma’s house was amazing. The biggest yard to run around in, a laundry shoot,  a sewing nook, two living areas, built in plant boxes above the stairs, a big basement to make up games in, a downstairs chest freezer (all good things came from the freezer) and the way she decorated it for Christmas was magic. We spent all holidays there, together. My grandpa built the house for all of us.

They only had the two kids at home by the time my grandpa built the house. The three older kids were married and started families of their own. There was grandma and grandpa’s room, Aunt Glenda’s room and Uncle Larry’s room. By the time I came along, my aunt and uncle had moved out with families of there own, however, their rooms always remained the same. When no one was looking, I always snuck into Aunt Glenda’s room to see the big pink teddy bear and into Uncle Larry’s room to see the covered wagon lamp.

Rose Garden

My grandma had a big rose garden with every colored rose. In the middle of the garden was a statue of a little black bear. Once, I walked into the kitchen to see my cousin Heidi crying and the mom’s tending to her cuts and scratches all over her legs and arms. When I asked what happened, Heidi said: “I wanted to pat the bear”.

Sewing Nook

My grandpa made my grandma a sewing nook. You opened two doors to reveal a sewing oasis. It was beautiful and orange. It had a built-in sewing machine, a table that extended out into the room and shelves of boxes to keep her sewing stuff in. My grandma covered the boxes with a black and orange fabric. Everything matched. The boxes were full of patterns, needles, fabrics and threads of every color. On the shelf, she also had big jars full of buttons. Every type of button. Gold ones, diamond ones, shiny ones and colored ones. Sometimes she would let me pick a favorite, a treasure to take home. I would watch her sew. Fixing tears, patching holes and picking the hem out of my pants so I could get more wear out of them. She said to me. “Kaylynn, take sewing classes whenever you can. It will save you lots of money when you have your own family one day.”

Magical Doors

In the kitchen, there were magical doors. Behind them were where the makings for hot chocolate lived. I liked to help her make the hot chocolates because I knew where the marshmallows were and she would let me get them out for her.

You opened the two double doors with built-in caddy’s full of jars of jams, boxes of cookies, and bags of chips. There were shelves full of containers of flours, sugars and bags of goodies. The back wall were two more doors. You opened them to reveal an even deeper space with more shelves full of canned goods. The marshmallows were on the right. It was nothing like I had ever seen before and won’t see again. I still remember the sweet smell of her pantry and the sound the doors made when opened.

Homemade Ice Cream Saturdays

When the weather turned warm, my grandpa would turn the covered carport into a patio. He would roll out the fake grass and pull out the outdoor furniture from the shed. There were two chairs, a double sofa that would sway back and forth and my favorite a lounge chair, where you could extend your legs out and almost fall asleep. I would lay there listening to the adults talk as the canyon breeze swept through the conversation.

My grandma gave my grandpa an ice cream maker one year that looked like an old wooden bucket. We would each take turns cranking the leaver. It was hard work, lucky there were lots of us. It was always grandpa’s job to check to and see how close it was to being ready to eat. We wore that machine out and they got a new one that plugged in. I remember it was red, white and blue with stars and stripes, just like the flag. It felt different not having to crank the handle. We just had to be careful not to trip over the cord and listen to it making ice cream then. It was different but the ice cream still tasted delicious. We wore that one out too. I think they went through at least four of them.

Cousin Fun

All the best memories I have with my cousins were made at my Grandparent’s house. While all the adults chatted upstairs, we made up games downstairs or played outside on the grass. I learned so much about life from my cousins and feel so blessed to have them still in my life.

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Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

The hours spent with my cousins flew by like minutes and time to go home always came too quickly.

We played carpet tag, board games and made up dances outside on the front lawn. One of our favorite things to play on was grandma’s exercise machine. I don’t even know if it was an exercise machine, that’s just what we called it. It was like a large folding lounge chair thing, that you would lay down on and it would bend at the waist. It would move in and out. When it was in, it would fold your legs to your torso and when you pushed away or out it would stretch you backward working your stomach muscles (I think?). We, of course, used it in the way it was not intended for. Two people would hold it open while two others laid down on it. Once laying down the kids on the outside would move it up and down really fast trying to knock you out of it. We all had our fingers pinched in it so many times.

I remember coming upstairs hot and sweaty from running around. I would sit on one of my grandma’s sweet little stools near the couch and watch my mother laugh and interact with her siblings.  They were fun and happy times for all.

My Grandma

My grandmother was a journal writer, just like me. She was a special lady who always brought her family together with love, generosity and her food. She was the best cook; fried chicken, lasagne, and we would fight over her homemade rolls. She had so much compassion for children, especially the ones that belonged to her. I don’t know where she found the energy. She had five kids (having my Aunt Glenda in her 40s) of her own. Then those kids had kids. I may be out on my numbers but my grandparents had 21 grandkids, 46 great grandkids.

Once when I slept over at my grandma’s house, we stayed up watching Thoroughly Modern Milly while waiting for our hair to dry after our showers. We cuddled in our nightgowns and laughed together. She had the best laugh and was always laughing.

I’m sad that my two kids never knew her but I tell them all the time that she took care of them up in Heaven while they were waiting for me to become a mama.

Wash Day Soup

Now that I am a busy mother, I understand the need to find easy healthy meals and it got me thinking about what my ‘Wash Day Soup’ is. I think my wash day soup is spaghetti. I wonder if my children will be sick of spaghetti by the time they have their own kids to feed.

Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for always loving us and being our heroes. I feel so blessed to have had two such shining examples in my life growing up.

Thanks for going down memory lane with me. These are just some of my memories but of course, a blog post can’t fit them all in.

So what is your ‘Wash Day Soup’?

 

Feature photo above by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

Being American, Fluffy life stuff

Let’s chat about the ‘FATTY BOOMBA’ stage…you know what I’m talking about!

I eat one naughty treat because I ‘deserve it’, then that leads to another and before I know it I’m like a hoover inhaling every sweet thing I see. Then my clothes feel a bit tight and soon I can’t button my pants. It’s like it sneaks up on me. Like my body didn’t see me sneaking all those sweets and it’s not my fault that I can’t hide my muffin top anymore. Do you know what I’m saying?

My fatty boomba stage ALWAYS seems to happen after the holidays and the start of the cool season.

Christmas is bad but we do Febfast every year and it helps us to get back on track. Febfast is giving up either sugar, coffee, alcohol and/or technology for the whole month of February. My husband and I always give up sugar. I tell everyone I’m giving up sugar, coffee and alcohol. The people who know me well laugh and call me a cheater because they know I don’t drink alcohol or coffee anyway. But giving up sugar is a challenge. I don’t know how you give up technology for a month? Maybe you just give up social media or something.

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Photo by Baher Khairy on Unsplash

So Easter is the worst for me. We have so much chocolate in the house and the only way to get rid of it is to eat it, right? And so we do, I do. I overindulge. I sneak it when the kids are not looking. It calls my name from the pantry. It’s also the end of the warm weather here in Melbourne, so I feel like my body has this animal instinct to put on an extra layer.  Anyway, it’s hard to fight it with all that chocolate in the house. This is when my ‘Fat pants’ get a run.

Fat Pants

After I had my son it was really had to lose the weight I gained during the pregnancy. I didn’t want to buy myself anything new because I was determined to lose the weight and reward myself with a new outfit. Well, when my son turned three, I decided I needed to buy some fat pants. You know what I mean, jeans that look good but when you bend over to tie your shoes it doesn’t cut off your air supply.

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Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

When I was home for Thanksgiving one year, my sister-in-law and I went shopping for Black Friday. We walked past Lucky Jeans and they had a big sale sign in the window. We went in. I asked the lady who greeted us if she had any fatty boomba pants. She laughed and asked me to repeat myself. After explaining my situation, she had me try on a few different pairs of jeans. Stretchy jeans but still looked cool. I spent more money on my fatty boomba jeans than I spend on normal jeans. I figured that maybe I could cut them off into shorts and wear them with a belt or something when I lost the weight. Those fatty boomba pants have been my saving grace over the last 6 years. I hate that I can’t stay slim but I like my food. Food makes me happy especially sugar!

This Morning

So I’m at the gym. My last visit was six months ago. My doctor advised me to put my gym membership on hold after a hernia operation. A 36-year-old hernia, removed. Seriously. I remember going to the doctor when I was 10-years-old for it. They gave me a pamphlet titled ‘Your Hernia and You’. The ‘R’ in Hernia was pushing out like a hernia. That is the only reason I remember it.

As hubby and I were getting ready for bed last night, he asks if I’m going to the gym in the morning. I set my alarm but still hadn’t decided. The alarm goes off and I surprise myself when I get out of bed and throw my gym clothes on. It’s freezing but I get there in time for the 6.15am spin class.

Some of the usual suspects are there and recognize me. I smile. I’ve never had a conversation with them but I know them by the imaginary life I’ve made up for them. There’s the empty-nester who’s unnoticed by her husband and has nothing better to do but exercise. The divorced dad, who’s trying his best to jump back into the dating scene. Two mums that pretend to like each other but secretly compete and the bazaar trio, I can’t figure out which one is married to the guy they come with. This keeps my mind occupied rather than listening to my brain who’s telling me ok, you can stop now.

I was shocked I remembered how to adjust the bike let alone remember the settings that fit me. I get on, strap my feet in and yep, it’s like riding a bike. I start to peddle, check out the new faces and make up stories for them; Pretty girl, that’s crushing on the instructor judging from her full face of makeup, did I mention its a 6.15am class? Sisters who come with mum, the older one desperately trying to fit into that formal dress and the guy that seriously needs a haircut. He’s going to put his neck out by jerking his head left trying to get it out of his face. All is going well except I forgot about the mental checklist I use to go through. It came flooding back to me ten minutes after class started–too late to do anything about it now…

√ Don’t choose a bike next to waterfall man. (sweats so much it waterfalls down his bike–I know and he’s next to me).

√ Check the bike for any clunks before you strap in (I’m feeling a clunk each time my left foot hits the bottom–distracting and annoying).

√ Choose a bike near the fans (It’s freezing at the start but soon I’m dying of heat and ‘visor girl’ who always turns the fans on and then points them to herself, just turned the fans on and pointed them to herself–I don’t know why she always wears a visor, I can assure her the sun will not be getting in her eyes).

√ Don’t choose a bike right in front of the speaker (I’m being blasted out by the instructor who feels he must talk-shout the lyrics from the song to fill in the space-Urgh!).

Don’t overextend your left knee (I forgot about that old war injury. I don’t know why I have it or where it came from but it hurts whenever I overextend it and takes a few days to come good again).

√ GOAL: 18K (I try my best not to look at the other person’s screen but I have a competitive edge that comes out. I. Must. Ride. Further.)

At 6:40am (only 5 mins to go) my brain wins. Remember not to overdo it on your first day back, Kaylynn, you’ve done enough and my feet listen, the peddling slows to a stop. I get off the bike with a sore bum. I stretch then limp over to get a paper towel and spray it with cleaning product trying not to make eye contact with the instructor, if he talks to me it will blare out of the speakers, I then limp back and start cleaning the bike except I notice my water bottle is missing. What did I do with it? Nothing. I’m cleaning the wrong bike. What stories they must make up about me.

I get home to find hubby still laying in bed looking at his phone.

“How come you’re home so early?”

“I’m not.”

It was then I realized I left class 15 mins early. Oh well. I’ll try again after my bum and knee are not so sore anymore.

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Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

 

To anyone who’s in the fatty boomba stage:

Take back your power! Before you put anything in your mouth ask yourself…

  • Am I hungry?
  • Am I bored?
  • Why am I eating this?
  • Will this help me fit back into my skinny jeans?

Have a big drink of water and look at the time. Have you missed a meal? Or how close you are to your next meal? Think healthy! Buy fresh salads, fruit and nuts.

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Photo by Andy Tootell on Unsplash

Let’s make better choices for our immediate health, our future and the example we are setting to those that look up to us. Let’s make sure we are burning more calories then we are putting in…

Let us all avoid becoming this…

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Feature photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Fluffy life stuff

Find your place…a space that makes you smile and brings you back to you.

My smile space has always been books.

Books. Books. Books.

I’m obsessed with books, always have been but not for the reason you would think. Growing up in America people were constantly handing out these little colorful New Testaments. I regularly took one and my mom always said: “That’s not our bible.” And I always wondered what she meant by that. Later I learned that it was Gideon’s bible not the King James version. I took them not because I wanted to read it but because I wanted to touch the binding, see how well it was made, to look at it and hold it.

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It looked exactly like a big book but smaller. The perfect size for a small girl obsessed with small things too. These books were the perfect package.

I would carry that little book around with me. Putting it in my handbag of the moment, play with it until I lost interest and eventually it would disappear. Out of sight out of mind right.

Even though I’ve not thought about those little books until writing this post, the love and obsession I have for books remains. In fact, its grown.

Early school years were tricky for me. The things that seem to come naturally to the other children, I struggled with. It took me ages to learn how to read. Our teacher would have us take turns reading out loud a sentence each. I didn’t even understand what a sentence was. I only knew it was my turn when the person next to me stopped reading and everyone looked at me. I felt sick, nervous, and anxious. My whole body shook as well as my voice as I read aloud. I always mixed up the words or couldn’t pronounce them and it was only a matter of time before the kids snickered. I even caught the teachers exasperated expressions.

We didn’t really read at home but I remember my mom reading ‘The Monster at the End of this Book’ to me. I asked her to read it over and over. I loved it. Even though I knew what was coming, I lived each page as if it was the first time I’d heard it. I had her read it so much that I memorized it and could read it to myself. Maybe she thought I was really reading it?

   

I don’t remember taking books home from school to practice or even reading out loud to my parents at all. I remember trying to read about Jack and Jane and their dog Nip at school. “Run, Jack run”. “No, Nip no”. “Stop, Jane stop”. They were very simple with only a few words on each page. Easy for everyone to read I guess but I didn’t understand them. There was no story on the page. They were boring and uninteresting. I could sound out the simple words but I had a hard time with the vowels. Back then we didn’t learn with phonics and it was just all confusing to me. The words I knew how to pronounce correctly, I memorized. I was too little to understand that I needed to ask for help. I was too young to understand that I was behind the other kids. I was too young to realize how important reading was. I don’t even know if my teachers even talked to my parents. I was a kid left to her own devices.

I grew up knowing I was not smart. I grew up knowing I was different. I had a slow leak and my confidence secretly escaped undetected.  I was quiet and shy, I didn’t know how to make friends. The thoughts I had about myself kept me away from others. Everyone knew I was dumb. It’s as if I walked around with a huge billboard over me that read:

This is Kaylynn, she is dumb. Don’t be her friend or else you might catch what she has”.

Did I mention I was crap at sports too? Always the very last to be picked. But I was good at noticing the other kids who felt the same way about themselves and I started friending them and I learned from them. Some were smart but socially awkward. I learned how to fake confidence until one day I just was.

It wasn’t until year nine that I read my first full novel. It took me forever but I did it and I was very proud of myself. It was also then that I learned I struggled with dyslexia. The letters or words kept changing their order. As an adult, I would borrow books from the library but have to return them before I finished because I was such a slow reader. It was embarrassing.

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Photo by Glen Noble on Unsplash

So really books could have been something I ran from but there has always been a special feeling I get when I step into a library or a bookshop or a room with a big bookcase full of books. They call to my heart somehow and I come back to me. My heart settles and I feel right at home. It’s almost like these places knew something I didn’t know about myself. I held onto that feeling until I figured out a way to keep it. I always felt happy when I wrote. I didn’t know I was a writer. I never thought of myself as a writer. It was only two years ago that I started saying it out loud.

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Photo by Radu Marcusu on Unsplash

So what space makes you happy? Think back about when you were small. Do you remember what made you happy? And how do you recreate it as an adult? What takes your breath away with awe? What do you do just for you? For many years I struggled with what made me happy. I just didn’t know and stopped chasing it.

Create a space that makes you smile. Could it be an area in your house where the sun shines through the window on that comfortable chair that you can relax on? Is it a picture you inherited from your grandma that hangs on your wall? Is it going for a long drive alone with your music and your thoughts? What is it for you? And will you share it with me? I’d love to hear your comments. xoxo Kaylynn

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Photo by Josh Felise on Unsplash
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Me this morning in my pj’s (haha-I love pj’s too) I have 3 book shelves, this is my favorite one.

Featured photo by Eugenio Mazzone on Unsplash

Fluffy life stuff, Growing pains

So what is your happiness?

We all want it. We want it for our children, loved ones, friends but mostly for ourselves. We strive for it but what does it actually look like? We each have our own definition of happiness but do you know what your happiness feels like? When do you know if you’ve achieved it? Are there different levels of happiness and do we stop once we get to the first level? Does your happiness even have levels? Is it a person(s)? Is it a day of the week? Friday? The weekend? Is it your home? Does happiness come after finishing a project? Or is it a feeling that stays with you?

happiness

noun  hap·pi·ness  \ ˈha-pē-nəs \
a state of well-being and contentment: 
joy a pleasurable or satisfying experience

 

If you don’t know what your happiness is, let’s start with unhappiness…

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Photo by Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash

I have two levels of unhappy.

I’m unhappy when my kids tease each other and that teasing turns to tears. I’m unhappy when I open my side of the wardrobe and it bangs into the other door because my husbands left his side open. I’m unhappy when I forgot to pull the meat out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner and it’s 5pm. But maybe all of that is more frustration than unhappiness.

The unhappiness I want to talk about is the one that can be crippling. The one that brings on tears for no reason or the unhappiness that makes you disengage from your life and spend your days in your head with your own private battle going on.

When I’m unhappy like that, I’ve got a nickname for it. A nickname I can say out loud. My close friends know it means “I’m Depressed” without having to say those ugly words. I say ‘I’ve lost my muchness’ and they know.

I started to become aware of my actions when I found myself in that space again and again. I paid attention to the things I do, or stop doing. I stop looking at social media. I stop serving others. I stop accepting invitations to go out. I stop smiling. I stop calling people. I stop answering my phone.  I stop appreciating my life. I just stop being me.

I become silent and crawl into myself. 

I sit at home and wish the time away by watching movies or playing way too much Plants vs Zombies—sometimes simultaneously. When I watch movies, it transports me into someone else’s life. Not a real life, but it helps me to get out of my head. My head is full of jumbled thoughts that are hard to string together. The thoughts are unkind toward me and they turn me into an empty vessel. I have to ride the dark wave until I find my smile again.

Exercise

I’ve never been a skinny person but I do enjoy going to the gym. Always have. I enjoy the classes. It’s fun, it’s social and my body feels so much better after. I’m a 6am girl. I’m so much better in the mornings at everything! So after the gym at 6am, I’ve got so much energy and before 9am, I’ve already put on two loads of washing, vacuumed the house, made breakfast for the kids, got them off to school and that’s just on a workday.

So the start of me going downhill is when I stop exercising. For whatever reason…too tired, too busy, no time…they are just excuses I feed myself. If I stop exercising, within three months I’ll be bottomed out swimming in depression.

It took me years to realize my trigger points. Exercise is my key to maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle.

How come exercise? Well, I’ve thought a lot about this…

No exercise  lack of energy→ eats more sugary foods→weight gain→ more eating because I’m filling a void that’s appeared and before I realize it, I’m saturated with yuck. I’m not happy. I’m not myself and I sink inside.

What are your triggers? I think we all have them… 

I think its really important to figure them out. Once I figured it out, I shared it with my husband so he could catch my fall in case I couldn’t.

Happiness…

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Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

You are in charge of your own happiness!

Happiness is the key to life. Happiness makes everything beautiful. I see the change of the seasons, the beautiful colors that surround us, I hear the birds singing, I want to hug everyone (and I do). When people who really know me see me coming, they just put their arms out because they know they are about to get a big hug. I’m a hugger…when I’m happy. I WANT TO HUG THE WORLD…when I’m happy. I spread good cheer. But I have learned which of my friends are not huggers and give them that space. When I’m happy, I brighten peoples days. I am a great listener and have time for everyone. When I pull away, I wonder if these people miss me (I don’t think twice about it when I’m low). When I’m happy, I can see those around me who need help and it makes me happy to go out of my way to help them. I want to make home improvements. I keep everything clean and organized. Nothing is too hard. I have energy galore and can do anything!

I feel happy when I find a cute bookshop or when I’m listening to music that makes my heart soar. I feel happy when my kids hug me. I always feel happy when I step into the State Library. I feel happy when my to-do list is finished. I feel happy to be sitting on the couch next to my husband after a busy day and I especially feel happy when he opens a bar of chocolate for us to share after the kids have gone to bed. There are lots of things that make me happy but when I’m unhappy I can’t find happiness anywhere.

When I was little, before I knew I was in charge of my own happiness, I could change my mood by thinking of a happy place. I went to Disneyland when I was seven–thinking about that always made me happy. It would change the current mood I was in and get on with my day.

As I grew up I could still use that strategy but of course, my happy places changed until one day even the happiest of my happiest places did not cheer me up. I knew then that I was in trouble. I felt lost and alone. I had to stop and think. Picturing me somewhere having fun was not enough anymore so I started to recreate the last happy feeling I had. I learned how to hold on to that feeling when I was down. It might have been how I felt after someone paid me a compliment or remembering a first kiss or what it feels like to fall in love. Then I would take that feeling and strive to recreate it. Happiness almost became drug-like to me as I was jonesing for the next fix, the next happy moment. But soon I stopped living in the moment. I was either looking too far ahead because I was chasing the happy or I was living in the past holding on to a happy memory trying to resurrect it. This was not good either.

So I’ve done a lot of work to be happy in the present moment. Live it, love it and not look back. I want to live the best life I can and I am done wasting present moments being stuck in the past. I have found happiness and balance with who I am today. I enjoy yoga, hanging out with positive people, being a good mother, going on dates with my husband, but mostly I am a writer that needs to write. This blog has been extremely healthy for me. I’m able to express myself and it has been well received. Thank you.

I wish you all much happiness and balance. It’s a good place to be. I love you all!

GROUP HUG! XOXO

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Photo by Enes Aktas on Unsplash

Featured Photo on top by Fernando Brasil

Australia, Being American

Lest we forget–but first we must understand for those of us too young to remember.

Tomorrow, April 25, Australia and New Zealand will celebrate ANZAC Day–Australia New Zealand Army Corps (for the American’s, it’s our equivalent to Veterans Day). It’s not just a holiday but an occasion where Australians and New Zealanders all over the southern hemisphere (and the world) will wake extremely early to attend one of the several thousand Dawn Service’s held tomorrow morning starting at 5:30am sharp.

This holiday means a lot to me. I am humbled and hold so much respect for the men and women who fought for their country on this ANZAC Day eve.
Shape of Australia in flag colors

I remember having my first ANZAC Day and it didn’t have the same meaning to me as it did to Australians. I didn’t understand the importance of Gallipoli, in fact, I had no idea what Gallipoli even was.

The ANZAC’s attempted to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, a strategic position. The invasion did not succeed. Turkish troops waged battle with the ANZAC forces for eight months, during which over 8,700 Australians and 2,700 New Zealanders died.

The soldiers’ sacrifices and dedication to the cause roused admiration back home. “Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives,” explains Australia’s government, “the actions of Australian and New Zealand forces during the campaign left a powerful legacy.”

People therefore held patriotic events in Australia and New Zealand, and as far away as Egypt and England, on the one-year anniversary of the landing, marking the first Anzac Day as a half-day holiday in 1916.

By 1941, the traditions were well-established when TIME wrote of the day:

In the big continent down under, the scattered cities and distant towns celebrate yearly with prayers, parades and boutonnieres of wattle Australia’s most important holiday, Anzac Day. Australians like to recall that it was on April 25, 1915, when Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli, that the youthful nation ‘first got into trouble.’

In later years, for example during World War II, the memory of Gallipoli—as observed on Anzac Day—was used as a rallying cry to keep fighting even in the bleakest of circumstances.

Now, the dawn vigils are standard, marking the time the soldiers first landed in Gallipoli. People also hold marches, memorial services and play plenty of games of two-up (an Australian game of chance). This year, remembrances are scheduled at memorials in New Zealand and Australia, as well as across the world — including the Gallipoli peninsula itself, where buses will take early-rising groups for a 5:30 a.m. vigil.

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Growing up American, I only really knew about American history…

Teachers and parents taught us how privileged we were to live in a free country and how our forefathers fought for all of us to have that right.

In our thirteen years of school, we got to our feet every Monday morning.  Right hand over our heart, facing the flag and quietly listening to the “The Star-Spangled Banner”–our national anthem. After the song finished, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

“I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” 

Watch an American Olympian receive their gold medal. It’s moving and powerful the amount of respect all Americans have for our flag. The National Anthem kicks off all our big sporting events. The silence is deafening as thousands stand there, right hands over our hearts, facing the flag and listening.

I think ANZAC Day felt different to me because the rituals were foreign to me. For example, I’d never heard the ANZAC Requiem, nor had I ever sang, “Advance Australia Fair” or “God Save the Queen”. We don’t have the Last Post, Reveille, lying of wreaths and poppies were just flowers to me. There is a piper (bagpipes) and a bugler. The Lord’s prayer among other prayers are quoted, hymns are sung and reverence is present. I’d never heard of “Lest we forget” until I came here, but on ANZAC day it’s repeated over and over.

In America

We have Veterans Day to commemorate all veterans in the US military. It occurs on November 11th to memorialize the Armistice which ended the World War I on that date in 1918. This is the same as Australia’s Remembrance Day. We also have Memorial Day on the last Monday in May that commemorates men and women who have died serving the United States. It was first instituted to remember soldiers who died in the Civil War. And we have Flag Day on 14 June which commemorates the official adoption of the US flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. It celebrates the history and symbolic meaning of the American flag and is also an opportunity to remember those who fight to protect it and the nation for which it stands.

We have 3 separate holidays which honor our men and women in the military and their contribution to a free country. But all of them combined is not as big as ANZAC day. Many hours are spent in organizing, preparing and executing the ANZAC Day events throughout the country. That is appreciated by all Australians.

Washington DC

A few years ago my husband and I got the opportunity to go to Washington DC. I had never been there before. There is something so special about seeing the places you grew up learning about come alive.

The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Mt Vernon, and where Martin Luther King stood and gave his famous “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Capitol. All the museums, The Smithsonian’s–I lost count but I think there are about sixteen of them.

There are so many Monuments and Memorials that it’s hard not to be affected.  Standing in front of the Vietnam memorial, I was transported to that moment long ago. It has bigger than life-size bronze soldiers walking in the rain and mud. Some are holding each other up while marching and others are laying in the mud, fallen with fatigue. You can see their faces, feel their pain. I was so overwhelmed it’s like these statues actually had beating hearts that drew me in, taking me to that time.

I have so much gratitude for all soldiers who have ever had the courage to fight in a war.

Arlington National Cemetary

The night before we left, we visited Arlington National Cemetary. My heart broke as I saw acres and acres of gravestones.

It was almost too much to digest.

Just a few facts about Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia:

  • Arlington National Cemetery contains the remains of more than 400,000 people from the United States and 11 other countries, buried there since the 1860s.
  • Nearly 5,000 unknown soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day.
  • The partial remains of the seven astronauts who died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, are buried at the cemetery.

It had been a wonderful tearful adventure. I literally cried the whole week because I was so touched and humbled.

I was emotionally exhausted by the time we got to the airport to fly out. As we were waiting to board, I noticed a few men and women in military dress gather in the next gate over. A Freedom Honor Flight had just landed–A Freedom Honor Flight a non-profit organization that flies veterans (our heroes), who have never been to Washington DC before, to visit the memorials that stand in their honor.

Each military division was represented by current men and women who hold those military positions now. Then they started clapping as veterans were escorted and wheeled off the airplane as they entered the gate. Soon all of us at the surrounding gates joined in the clapping. I noticed all the people helping were wearing the same t-shirt that read “If you can read this, thank a teacher, but if you can read this in English, thank a Veteran.” I was so touched by all of this concentrated patriotism that the tears just streamed down my cheeks. I stood there, with a crowd of other travelers, crying and clapping,  watching over a hundred veterans being slowly wheeled, escorted under the arm and some of them walking themselves, come off that flight. It was truly an honor and a blessing to be there in that moment.

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ANZAC Day

I’ve been living in Australia for 18 years now. I became an Australian 10 years ago in 2009. Since then, ANZAC Day has taken on a new meaning for me. We always go to the dawn service as a family and we always catch up with all of our extended family celebrating and honoring the glorious dead in a march at Dandenong RSL. We all get together to watch our own soldiers march with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In our extended family, we have 2 British, 2 Americans, 3 half American/Australians, 1 Canadian, 2 Canadian/Australians and 2 Australians. We are a melting pot.

I love that Australia spends the whole day honoring our men and women who serve and served their country –no matter where in the world they are. Respect is shown, and stories are shared. We especially honor the heroes who never returned. It’s a day for families to remember. Soldiers to remember. The world to remember.

Thank you to all of those who put their lives on the line or on hold and fought for their country, you are truly brave and we are truly thankful. You gave us the freedom to do what we want.

Let’s be thankful. Let’s not waste that freedom away, do something big with it. Be big and brave in your own lives. Move your own mountains! Lest we forget.

 

Fluffy life stuff

Awareness is a gift!

The other day I was sitting watching my daughter’s ice skating lessons through the cafe window—as it’s a much warmer place to be.  A few seats down there was a woman wearing a big black puffy jacket. She got up, passed behind me bumping me in the back as her big puffy jacket knocked my glasses case to the floor.  I turned to look at her as she walked away oblivious to what had just occurred. I leaned down to pick up my case and continued to watch my daughter. As she came back to sit down I got another bump in the back. I decided to move seats. Just as I did, a guy walked into the cafe, he stunk so bad I needed to put my sleeve over my nose. I looked around and everyone else smelled it too. It was suffocating.

Just as the lady had no idea she was bumping me, this nicotine saturated guy had no idea how bad he smelled. Both people lacked awareness. Just like that person who is talking loud on their phone on a quiet commuter train, possibly right now?

But what is awareness?

I knew the word, I used it in sentences, but it was not until my late thirties that I really started to understand what awareness was. I became aware of others. Aware of my true feelings. Aware of the consequences of my own actions. Aware of how others responded to me. But mostly I became aware of how I needed to change certain things about myself.

Awareness 

[uh-wair-nis]

noun

  1. the state or condition of being aware; having knowledge; consciousness
  2. knowledge that something exists, or understanding of a situation or subject at the present time based on information or experience.

“Awareness is like the sun.

When it shines on things, they are transformed.”

                                                                                                          -Thich Nhat Hanh

So if that’s awareness then what is ‘un-awareness’? Disregard, ignorance, neglect, misunderstanding, unfamiliarity, insensitivity, unconsciousness—all words that I would not associate now with myself.

By the time my son was born in 2009, I was stuck almost full time in my head. I was totally consumed by thoughts from the past or worries about the future. My mind would only stay in the present for a short time before my runaway thoughts would steal me again. I was crippled with worry. I worried about everything.  I worried about where my life was going. If I was a good mother. I worried about my position at work. About wrong decisions, I’d made. It was exhausting living in my body.

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Photo by Aziz Acharki unsplash.com

My precious baby son was a gift. Of course, all babies are but he helped me to become more present and live in the now. Whenever I would drift off, he would demand my attention with a scream, a smile or diaper change and bring me back to the now. When he got a little older he brought me back with his wet kisses, showing me how he could kick the ball or reaching out with his arms saying “uppy”. He brought me back, to him, and I loved him all the more for it. I started becoming aware of just how much I drifted off and how I was always second guessing myself. I started putting my thoughts aside and made an effort to be more present. More involved. I listened to him with my whole self not just an appeasing nod as I half listened.

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Stop and think for a minute.

Are you aware of yourself right now? How are you sitting? Who is around you? Are you comfortable? How do you feel? How is your breathing? Do you feel stressed? Are you mindful of the stresses, worry, fear, doubt, uncertainty, suspicion, panic, unease, and other feelings that are constantly trying to take control? Do you not feel good enough?

Are you happy? Excited about something? In love? Do you remember what it felt like to be in love? Do you remember what brought you to your partner, husband or wife? Why are you with them? Do they bring you light?

How is your life? Are you a slave to it or are you in control? Is it just a rat race or do you find the little joys around you? Do you breathe deeply? Do you enjoy the breath? How does it make your body feel?

Is this the life you anticipated? Were your childhood dreams better? Is your life better than your dreams?

Are the leaves changing colors around you? When was the last time you went for a walk just to be alone with your thoughts? What are you thinking? Do you like who you are? Do you like the vibrations you put off to others?  Are you even aware what vibrations you put off to others? Do you go out of your way to make others smile?

Wake up. Make mindfulness a part of your everyday. Make awareness a gift and pass it on to those around you.

Make sure you engage in the moments you are given.

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Here’s an app (Smiling Mind) that can get you started with your awareness and mindfulness.

 

 

Growing pains

The hurtful things we tell ourselves and believe them.

I do it. You do it. We all do it, but we shouldn’t.

Thoughts pop into my head without permission. I tell myself awful things and worse, I believe them. I speak to myself in harmful tones and destructive ways that I would never speak to others in. Why? Why do we do this?

“I think. Therefore, I am.”

–Descartes, father of modern philosophy

The fact that we can think, reflect on the past, imagine the future, even to be conscious of our own consciousness is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. When we reflect and so often regret the past, imagine and so often fear the future, it traps us and pulls us out of the NOW. The ‘now’ is a healthy place we should all be striving to spend our days in. But it’s very difficult to do all the time. When I’m not living in my ‘now’, I don’t hear my family’s needs because I’m preoccupied fighting a battle within.

I started having unkind thoughts toward myself in my pre-teen years. It was about 5th or 6th grade when I started living in my head. Instead of just being a kid, I started comparing myself to the other girls around me.

I was not skinny enough, popular enough, cool enough, funny enough, interesting enough…pretty enough. My brain would say things like ‘If only your family was not poor you would fit in more’ or I would look at Shelly Love (the most popular girl at my Jr high when I was in 7th grade) ‘If my hair looked like hers or if I had Jordache Jeans, then I would be popular’. Of course, it’s easy as an almost 47-year-old to look back on this and see how silly it was but it was real and that was the world I was living in then.

Jordache Jeans were the key to my popularity. If only I had a pair all my troubles would vanish. I would fantasize about how cool I would be on the day I showed up to school in my Jordache Jeans. The whole school would bow down to me and vote me the coolest kid in all the world and everyone would stumble all over each other trying to be my friend.

I was eleven. I had no job, I had no money. My mom, a single mother was doing it tough making ends meet raising five of us on her own. So Christmas was my only hope for these designer jeans.

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

It’s Christmas 1983 and all I asked for was a pair of Jordache Jeans. I didn’t want anything else…one pair would suffice. If I  had that designer label on my back pocket, the rest my life would be trouble free. FOREVER! I drove my family crazy with talk of Jordache Jeans.

It was hard for my mom to find the time to get all the Christmas presents wrapped. Our tree was usually bare until she would see the worry in her children’s eyes. Was this the year we were going without? We were reminded often about how tight money was. I learned that statement before I even knew what it actually meant. If money was tight, then why do they always talk about loose change?

I know my mom sacrificed sleep get our presents wrapped and under the tree. She had a full-time job in town. She rode the bus until a parking spot came up that she rented monthly. She worked, cooked dinner then crashed, never had time to clean. Homework and school reminders were left up to us. She was always stressed, low on energy and I recall how she lost her smile during those years too.

We woke up one morning a few days before Christmas and the presents appeared under the tree. Phew! Excited, we rushed under the tree to look at the tags, showing each other their presents and each having a guess by feeling them through the paper before mom came in to tell us off.

I found out the truth about Santa Claus only the year before. I was ten. It was Christmas morning and we were unwrapping presents. My mom and older sister were having fun watching us younger kids open our presents. Excitedly,  I asked them “How can Santa really get around the whole world in one night?” They looked at each other and said: “What do you think?” It was just a throwaway comment. I didn’t mean to change my world with the words I said next. Shrugging my shoulders, I said, “Maybe not.”  Then my sister said “You’re right. So who do you think leaves out the presents?” I stopped and looked at them. “What? Are you telling me the rumors are true? It’s the parents?” I looked at my mom. “Yes, honey it’s the parents.” I felt like crying but they told me its a secret and I needed to keep it for my little brother and sister. I looked over at them unwrapping presents their faces full of wonder. I was sad. I felt robbed of my wonder. Then I asked who ate the cookies.

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The next Christmas was not the same after finding out about Santa, but when we were touching all the presents under the tree, I came across one that was the right jean shape, right jean weight and after further braille examination, a jean pocket. My belief in Christmas returned in a flash. I felt my jeans! My Jordache Jeans! They were mine! I quickly put the present back and walked away with the biggest smile on my face. I didn’t care about any of the other presents.

The next day when no one was looking, I double checked again because my mind had convinced me that they were for someone else. I confirmed the present definitely had my name on it.  It just felt too good to be true. I couldn’t remember feeling more excited for Christmas morning in my life!

I was always the first to wake on Christmas (still am, I wake my kids). I woke everyone up and waited as patiently as I could. I thought I was going to explode with excitement.

My mom handed me little presents to open. I opened them and thanked her for them. Then finally she hands me the package I have been waiting for. I rip it open with so much excitement. It all came flooding out. The seel was broken. I saw jean color. I jumped up with excitement! “My Jordache Jeans!” I shouted. “No”, mom said, “I could get two pairs of Lee jeans for the price of one pair of Jordache Jeans.” Silence. It must have been my face because I made my mom cry on Christmas morning. I quickly tried to cover my tracks. “Oh yea, two is better than one.” She offered to return them to get the one pair of Jordache Jeans but I said no, that I was happy with my two pairs of Lee jeans. I was not going to ever be the most popular kid in the world but I knew how to make my own mother happy on Christmas.

Today you can buy Jordache Jeans at Wallmart for $28.

♥♥♥

If you can’t master your thoughts, you are in trouble forever. Surrender…still our minds.

We need to stop listening to what we tell ourselves. We need to control our thinking…It’s not an easy task but if you work at it, like anything you can perfect it. Our mind is trying to take over our body. We need to control our thoughts so we don’t have that internal pull between our body and brain. They must get along to have harmony within. When my mind starts pushing me around I stop and ask myself this question. Who is really thinking this? This is my own little strategy to find out what the ‘real’ is.

Thoughts Are Things.

They can have a positive and negative effect on you.

Thoughts are things that can turn into depressed, angry, frustrated, lonely, disappointed, fearful, worried, sad, and doubtful- know the impact that your thoughts can have on you.

On the positive side, some thoughts can make you smile, laugh out loud, feel a sense of pride, cause you to relax, or make you feel confident.

Our thoughts directly control how you are feeling at any given moment – regardless of whether you are consciously aware of it or not.

The internet is full of advice. We should meditate daily, observe our thoughts, cultivate space between thoughts, learn to stop your thoughts, identify your negative thoughts, find the lie within and rewrite it to a truth and the old classic live in the now…

I think all of it has merit. Do what works for you. I don’t meditate like I should. I have not done yoga in weeks (and before that it was months). But I see a real benefit in stopping my negative thoughts. I am constantly telling my children to talk kinder to each other. My siblings and I grew up were awful to each other. It’s funny how because we feel comfortable with each other, we say things we wouldn’t say to a friend or acquaintance and we do it worse to ourselves.

Awareness.

Awareness is a true gift. When you become aware of how you feel, act and think then you have the power to change it.

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Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash

Often we don’t even realize that we have lost ourselves. A few years ago when my kids were younger and really needed me, I was telling myself that my kids were better off without me. I was a nuisance to all around me. How crazy is that! A child is NEVER better off without their mother unless that mother is hurting the child. Now that I have my wits about me it seems totally insane and you know what it was. It is. I was not in a happy place in me.

When I’m not in my happy place, it spills out onto my family. For the sake of my family, I need to be kinder to myself. Gentle to myself and learn to control my thoughts. I don’t want any negativity living in my body because it chases away my muchness.

Feature photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash