And the journey down your path of life continues…

Something is tugging at your insides. It’s leaving you feeling unsettled. It just keeps nagging at you. That little voice inside your head is telling you, “it’s time for a change”. You could call it gut instinct. You may believe that feeling, or even that little voice to be God’s messages, guiding your journey.

trust-your-gutIf you know what I’m talking about, then you’ve likely experienced this before, and I think you are pretty lucky! Why is that? Because you are getting guidance for your life! There is nothing fun about wandering through life without direction or any idea of what’s in store.

There are times in our lives when we may have an immediate answer or understanding about our gut instincts and what they mean. We may come to an obvious fork in the proverbial road of our lives and are faced with making a decision. The choice may come in the form of this gut feeling or God’s voice inside you. When the feeling is recognizable, it can bring us confidence in our decisions.

But, at other times, this nagging feeling is just sitting inside us, with no obvious fork in the road. If you ignore it, it will surely resurface until you make a change. So, what do you do? How do you identify it? How can you answer it and ultimately satisfy it? You can start by taking a few steps and doing a few exercises…

  1. Allow yourself to dream again. As many of us progress through life, we find that it dare-to-dreambecomes ordinary, cyclical and routine. We, ourselves may become complacent in our relationships, work/careers, and in our personal growth (which is crucial to find true success in our lives). During these ordinary or complacent phases, we may find that we’ve stopped dreaming.  Dreaming about the big things to come – vacations, a new home or home improvements, debt-free living, and maybe even our life’s purpose. Firing up those sparks again may give you direction for that nagging feeling you have.
    Have a purposeful conversation with your spouse or a close friend about what dreams you may have temporarily stashed away. Actually close your eyes and will yourself to conjure up images of fun, excitement, success of all forms, and take note of those images.
  2. Create a vision board. From those metal images you created while dreaming, create or find real images to represent your dreams. From the smallest little one to the most grandiose, put them all onto paper – big, poster sized paper – and display it in your home where you are reminded daily of your dreams. As the visions are cast the nagging feeling will take shape and direction.
  3. Examine your life for happiness and discontents. Break it down into categories to really help you explore. Examples could include:
    • Relationships:
      • romantic
      • family
      • friends
      • co-workers
      • God
    • Finances:
      • savings
      • retirement
      • debt
      • flexibility
      • cash flow
    • Work/Career:
      • 5-year track
      • 10-year track
      • fulfillment
      • benefit
      • purpose
    • Personal:
      • hobbies
      • fun
      • volunteerism
      • growth
      • education
    • Material:
      • home
      • clothes
      • toys

Highlight areas that bother you or you are struggling with. Pay attention to trends that may pop up, where you can cast your focus. In a different color, highlight areas that create fulfillment and happiness for you. Then identify ways to increase those positive areas. Changing the areas of discontent is likely to naturally result in increasing your happy too!

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The most important thing, as you go through these exercises and exploration… Open Your Eyes. When you have feelings of anxiety, discontent, internal nagging that something needs to change, it may be the universe telling you to open your eyes so you don’t miss the fork in the road or your next opportunity. Being complacent and just going through the motions may not give you the ability to see what is right under your nose, sitting next to your on a plane, or written on the pages of a book. Life is a series of messages trying to find us. Open your eyes, mind and heart to allow these messages to penetrate us and create change that will bring you forward in your life’s journey.

change.jpgSpeaking of your journey… When going through changes in your life it is important to look forward to the future, where the road is freshly paved. Not through the rear view mirror where you’ve hit bumps in the road. It is true that it is the bumps that shape our lives and our character. The bumps are our lessons. But the bumps don’t define our potential. That is what lies ahead. There is a reason the windshield is larger than the review mirror…. it is more important! Send your gratitude up above for where you’ve been and then set your sights on what is ahead so you don’t miss the signs for the next turn or stop.

Lastly, don’t fear what lies ahead. It is in the unknown where we may find our greatness. Keep your eyes open and on the road ahead, embracing life’s changes, knowing that there are surely more bumps to come. Embrace those too, so the lessons aren’t missed. Be a student of your own life, and get excited about making changes! They are only painful if you make them that way. Change is fun and good and necessary and what gets us closer and closer to the greatness we were meant for on this earth!

How to have a successful summer

After living in Florida for almost 8 years, I grew accustomed to only living with one and a half seasons – summer and “sorta spring”. So when we moved back to New England, it took some getting used to having 4 solid seasons again. When the summer finally arrives for its short, 2 1/2 month visit, it is pretty common for north-easterners to go into serious overdrive. July is fun and relaxing, albeit busy busy. Then all of a sudden August arrives and everyone freaks out saying things like “summer is practically over!!” and then starts packing in the beach, mini vacations, play dates, day trips and more! Or you are just so damn tired that you waste away in the air conditioning… then have serious guilt set in!

Oh No FaceDown in Florida there was always “another day” and “next weekend” to make up for things like sleeping in on the weekend or lounging around being lazy when you fully intended to get out for a long bike ride or a beach day with the kids. In New England if you say one of those phrases even once, there’s immediate shame and guilt associated with it because it’s well known that summer doesn’t stick around forever…

fashionable-woman-relaxing-poolside-summer-vacation-back-view-fashion-luxury-resort-spa-young-lady-wearing-sun-hat-69339140So this year, when the nice weather started approaching, and school was drawing to a close, I made a decision to have the “best summer eva!” (those who know me know that I mysteriously don’t have a Massachusetts accent, despite being born and raised here and in NH). I knew that I would have the ability to work my business wherever I needed to whether it be poolside or away for a weekend, and having a beautiful pool in our backyard was a key factor in my best summer ever vision. I would be able to have a well-balanced, fun, adventurous, restful, peaceful summer… yeah right! For the last two weeks all I have been thinking about is how “it’s almost August” and “I can’t believe the kids will be going back to school soon” and “I don’t ever want this hot weather to go away”.

Then I said to myself, “self… chill out! Pump the breaks. Enjoy the moment like you have told yourself to do the entire last year…”. And then my other self, the one who likes to plan and write and evaluate, came up with this list:

TIPS TO HAVING A QUALITY SUMMER THAT DOESN’T FLY BY IN AN INSTANT:

  1. Don’t over-schedule yourself OR your kids. Multiple camps for your kids will leave them overstimulated and exhausted, then bored when they aren’t at camp being entertained. Plus you have to be their chauffeur, and that’s NOT relaxing. And multiple vacations or weekend after weekend on the run will leave the whole family feeling drained and it’s a sure way to feel like the summer flew by. There’s nothing like the anticipation and excitement of an approaching vacation only to have it over in an instant and feel instantly disappointed.
  2. Beach DaySchedule time to do NOTHING. When you have busy schedules with kids and/or work, sometimes it’s necessary to put a block of time in to do nothing. And if you can’t handle not having anything planned in this “down time” then schedule a relaxing day reading in the shade on a hot day, or by the pool or beach to force yourself to slow down.
  3. Don’t schedule your weekdays more than a week in advance. With weekends mostly reserved for traveling and making plans with friends and family, it’s quite possible that you’ll end up only having weekdays left. If you start booking up your weekdays in advance too, you’ll get frustrated that you can’t fit everything in. Leave the weekdays up in the air so you can unwind, clean the house, go to bed early and generally catch up with your life.
  4. Pick at least 2 weekends where you aren’t allowed to make any plans in advance. Then when the weekend arrives, be open to whatever comes up, even if that is nothing!
  5. Take random weekdays off from work to just hang out at home with the family or relax quietly by the pool. There’s something really exciting about being home from the office when it’s not a Saturday or Sunday.
  6. Get up early and go to bed late, then take a nap at the beach🙂
  7. With all this talk of pool and beach… if you spend a lot of time at either or both, plan a day each week where you don’t hit up the water. Take some down time and give your body a rest from the action. Not to mention your hair and skin from the sun, sand and sunscreen. (By the way if you need help repairing or protecting your hair or skin… I’ve got you covered😉 Just message me if you need help finding ways to save!)
  8. Let Friday evenings come along without a game plan and just go with the flow… snack for dinner while you enjoy the fresh air and cocktails on the back deck!
  9. If you can’t afford the time or money to do a big vacation, try planning little overnighters or day trips here and there to hike a mountain, go visit a new lake, or just hang out with family and friends.
  10. Lay off the booze during the week… the warmth of the summer leaves many people drinking extra beers, fruity cocktails and whatever else comes across their lips! By August you’ll feel like you need to be checked into rehab if you’re drinking extra on the weekend AND consuming regularly throughout the week… trust me…

download (1)All-in-all I am terrible at taking my own advice. I freaked out when August arrived. I over scheduled myself. I drank too much in the past 4-6 weeks. So, guess what? I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train and it’s August 4th… Time for this mama to go sit pool side and nap!!!

What’s the significance?

At some point you just start wondering the purpose of certain phrases, or you just start contemplating why things are the way they are. Oh, you don’t? That’s just me? Well them humor me… I was recently contemplating the significance my husband has in my life due to an extended work trip of his, out of country. As I thought about my life without him for 5 weeks, I realized there is (of course) a pretty good reason we refer to our spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, mates and better halves as our significant other.

Five weeks without my husband, especially since we have three children, is a significant amount of time, with significant impact on our lives. My significant other left significant holes in our little world.

And now that word sounds weird for saying it so many times, doesn’t it?

I came out of this little exercise in patience and fortitude with gratitude for him, myself and many others. But first, I have to say that I have never been able to fathom being married to a man in the service who may be required to be overseas defending our country for many months at a time, often times in grave peril. I still cannot fathom it now, despite my husband’s somewhat dangerous trip – crashing his fancy car, getting lost on safari trails, being just mere feet from some of the largest and deadliest animals in the world and sitting atop the world’s largest waterfall! Still none of that compares to the terror that a military significant other must go through with their loved one abroad in this international climate.

Second to being fearful of your significant other being hurt or killed while serving overseas, I would also fear the “getting used to it” part. There was a point about two and a half weeks in to Casey’s trip where we evened out and felt like we were really getting by nicely. Things were running smoothly in the house. The middle of the bed didn’t feel so lonely and the kids were occupied on the weekends with plenty of friends and activities. It’s not that we didn’t miss him, we certainly would have opted for having him home as opposed to still away. But we were used to him being gone.

Imagine doing that for 9 months straight (or more!) while your significant other is on tour in the Middle East. By the time he or she comes home it might actually feel out of place to have them home. That is a HUGE deal to go through. Mentally you want to be glad to have them home, and you are, but you’re so busy bouncing around the kitchen trying to figure out how to dance with them again during ordinary life that you both just feel completely out of place. It truly takes strong human beings to go through these emotional imbalances regularly through the course of a relationship. 0930love2

But back to my exercise in patience and fortitude… there are a few things I’d like to point out that came to mind as the worst part of being a single parent of three, albeit temporarily…

  • Being responsible for all the dishes, all day long, sucks
  • The fitted sheet is just too fitted for my apparent ability
  • No matter who, what, when or where – I gotta get up when duty calls in the middle of the night… oh except for that time I was so tired and maybe a little saturated from a lovely red, that I slept through the baby “screaming bloody murder” and my brother-in-law had to get him and TRY to wake me up
  • At the end of the day no one shows up
  • At the end of the day there is no one to talk to about all the boring stuff from the day

I discovered patience I did not know existed, and I allowed myself to veer from striving from perfection. Ironically enough, it made me better than before… imagine that. I made it a point to give my kids extra attention since they weren’t getting any from Daddy while he was gone and it benefited me just as much as them. And it made me wonder… why I can’t be like that when he’s here? (That’s another blog topic I fear)

My significant other is pretty damn significant in my life. And while I may have found a way to be perfectly functional and even, dare I say, efficient at living my life and running our household alone… I wouldn’t choose it. The significance of that is well, significant!

Oh! The Ways We Will Grow!

I can’t wait to look back upon this in 5-10 years and realize that today, I was only on the brink of self-discovery and inner knowing. At some point in our lives, many of us find ourselves to be on a clearly laid out, divine path. Others may not even see their path up ahead, oblivious to the twists, turns and meanings at every crossroads. One may argue that this second way of going through life may be a simpler way, one with far less stress and drama. Others may argue that such a life lacks depth. Maybe the difference may be the age of our souls… The oblivious soul may just be one of youth and naivety, while the aging soul has already been down this road and is working on perfecting it.

However one may view the various paths through life we choose to take, I think we can all agree there are lessons to be learned along the way. I am of the mindset that these lessons are meant to be noted, deposited in our bank of growth, and later called upon for service to ourselves, and more importantly – to others.

I believe I am at a pit stop of reflection. A place where contentment is what currently needs to be noted. Whatever it may be… it caused me to hug my children just a little bit longer and tighter at bed time tonight. It was an opportunity for gratitude that I could not ignore. And so now, to reflect, these are the ways in which we grow, and the lessons that we learn that have come to be oh so important in my life!

downloadIt’s not about you. Multi-faceted to say the least. One of the hardest things in life is knowing when it’s not about YOU! So often we emotionally react to the perception of another person’s words because we allow ourselves to take those words at face value. What we have failed to realize is that those words are truly a reflection of the person speaking them, along with their ego and insecurities. It’s not about you when:

  • someone is mean to you
  • someone is intimidated by you
  • someone disapproves of you.

In another facet of life, business, we tent to spend a large majority of our time while in conversation with others, making up stories about what the other is thinking about us. When in reality that aren’t thinking of us at all, or if they are, it is in a glowing light! And when, in business, someone turns down our offer, we make it all about us. But guess what?! It’s not about you!

In our relationships, namely romantic, when our counterpart expresses their frustration and we put up walls of defense to withstand their “attack”, then we begin to fire back upon them in retaliation… did you know? It’s not about you! Frustration and anger come from within. And not only is it not about you, but whatever your significant other says they are angry about, is NOT what they are really angry about. We do a pretty darn good job of masking what the real problem is with silly stuff, like the dishes, the laundry and the DIY project that never seems to be finished. Allow yourselves to drop the dishes issue and look deeper to uncover a real problem that can actually be worked on and resolved.

PrintIt’s about the journey, not the destination. We spend so much time in life “looking forward” to the next thing, the next moment, milestone, promotion, vacation. When you are constantly looking forward, down the road, you miss the scenery of the moment you’re currently living in. Time for a Chinese Fire Drill and get in the passenger seat! Look around at everything you DO have, the scenery of where you ARE and most importantly look at WHO you are with. There is not one grieving person in the world that wouldn’t advise you to slow down and appreciate your life, to live in the moment. I’m not suggesting not to plan or glimpse ahead here and there. If you don’t, you may miss the signs for your next turn or path. So be the kind of passenger that the driver can’t do without – be your own life’s co-pilot.

If you think about your life as a journey, the destination is death. So enjoy all of the pit stops, roadside motels, bumps, hiccups and potholes. Appreciate every detour for the lesson that it serves you with, because there are many. And guess what? It wasn’t actually a detour – it was the path you were meant to be on, even if you feel like you’ve been “re-routed”. If you are sitting there doing a Sudoku in the passenger seat you’ll completely miss the route you are meant to be on.

So, stop saying “I can’t wait until…”. Trust me, it will be here soon enough. For now, roll down the windows and crank up the tunes!

comfort-zone.jpgLive outside your comfort zone. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

Being comfortable is so overrated. Nothing amazing ever happened while you were curled up in your sweats with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on the couch! Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but make that kind of night the exception, not the rule.

To stretch ourselves in ways we couldn’t imagine is to grow. Even my 7-year old says so! He came home one day and told me that when you challenge your mind you grow. So I took the opportunity to tell him about living outside your comfort zone and he totally got it! Imagine that?

Physically challenge yourself to do more, run harder, stretch further. You’ll be rewarded with more energy, and better health.

Mentally challenge yourself by learning something new all the time. Read books, lots of books, about lots of topics. Read adventure stories to get your creativity flowing. Read personal development books to work on becoming the best version of you possible. Read professional development books to expand your horizons in your career, or maybe open up your mind to possibilities you hadn’t previously considered.

Emotionally challenge yourself by letting yourself delve into your fears. Dig deep, where the scary stuff lives to help weed out the crap that isn’t serving you. Maybe drop down the walls of defense with your loved ones and put yourself in their shoes, or consider that they may be right. What if they were right and you are being stubborn? What’s so bad about admitting it and working on it? Doesn’t everyone win that way?

When you feel uncomfortable just remember that you are growing and we should never stop growing!

Work on becoming the best possible version of you! Do you know that when you work out the junk in your head and the junk that’s bogging down your health, you start to become your best self? Being the best possible version of you serves you, the ones you love and those that love you. When you get yourself straight, you can love unconditionally because you start to love yourself unconditionally. I bet you didn’t even know that you may not love yourself. Most of us struggle with that on some level…

5.121.jpgWhen you choose to live in your comfort zone and in fear, you aren’t allowing your true self to be seen. What everyone around you gets is a half-assed, angry and/or anxious version of you. We are born with 2 fears: the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. These are our reflexes. ALL other fears are completely made up in our heads.

Surround yourself with like minded individuals because you will reflect the ways and attitudes of the 5 people you surround yourself most with. Do you want to be like the whiny, complaining friend that always brings her baggage to the party? If not, then start to redirect your energy to friends that lift you up, not bring you down. As your circle changes, you change.

When you are working to become a better person, the universe rewards you for the little steps of progress along the way. Soon you’ll start to notice your relationships changing and you’ll start to enjoy your life a bit more.

One of the most profound moments I’ve experienced on my journey was when I told my husband that “I’m working on making myself better” and his response was “but I like you just the way your are – I think you’re pretty great!”. Instead of just sitting back and relaxing and accepting that what he thinks of me is enough, I chose to continue down my path of self-discovery and guess what? He started to follow me… to join me. I felt so rewarded when I discovered that we are still on this journey together, that we are even in the same car most days!! After 13 years together, we’ve gone through peaks and valleys and the recent valley we were in I wasn’t sure if I had left him at a rest stop or if he was hitchhiking or what!

This isn’t to say that no one is good enough as they are, but we are constantly up against life’s challenges and if we aren’t working hard to be our best selves, life might get the best of us…

Regret is an emotion that is a complete waste of time. What happened cannot be changed. So if you cannot change it, why spend your energy on wondering what would have happened or what could have been? There will never be a way to go back and make a different choice or take a different path.

546100_415556485172502_2130470327_nThere are many quotes about this sentiment, but my favorite is “there is a reason that the rear-view mirror is a lot smaller than the windshield… where you’re going is much more important than where you’ve been”.

So while there is no sense in expressing regret about your past, there is absolutely merit to understanding why you did the things you aren’t proud of or why your life unfolded in a certain why. Learning from your mistakes is crucial! A common example is regretting marrying your ex when you have a couple of beautiful kids because of it. That is certainly nothing to regret, but looking for the reason that your marriage didn’t work or why you allowed yourself to stay with an abusive person is worth all the tea in China! And guess what? The answer is not them… this is when it IS about YOU!

The answers always come from within. Always. Don’t beat yourself up while you go through life, just love yourself and all will fall into place.

Why doesn’t anyone talk about this stuff…

Breastfeeding is one of those things in life that is dubbed as “beautiful”, “natural” and a variety of other harmonious adjectives. While it is – when it goes smoothly – it is also so many other antonyms of those words at the exact same time.

breastfeeding-momWhile I don’t like to harp on what is hard, negative or challenging in my life, I do find this particular strife to be an interesting topic to dwell on because it is the aforementioned harmony that most people find to be synonymous with the phrase “breastfeeding”. Society is very adamant about “breast is best” (and I agree), but society fails to mention the precursor to that statement – “while breastfeeding is ridiculously challenging in all meanings of the word… breast is best!”

Fortunately I have never felt pressure from society or anyone close to me personally to breast feed my children. It has only been my own desire that has driven me to stick to it. And I have also never looked down upon a mother who didn’t breast feed her child. But I have always felt the need to quantify and qualify my breastfeeding experiences when talking to others. For example, when asked if I breastfed my other two children, my answer isn’t a simple “yes”. The answer is: ” Yes, with Parker I exclusively pumped for 8 months because I couldn’t get him to latch on and Connor for 3 months until he went to daycare.” No one asked for all that info! Thanks a lot society…

In the first hour of my 3rd little guy’s life, the phrase “Very sucky!” spoken by Will Ferrell in the movie “Elf” was the only thing that came to mind. He was immediately a vacuum-packed bundle of joy.

It was around 8 weeks after my Riley was born when our breastfeeding experience together had just started to become relatively easy. Still not entirely pain-free, but compared to the first 4-6 weeks, it was a nice walk in the park. And even in the subsequent weeks it continued to improve to what is now the harmonious activity it is dubbed to be. Imagine that?! 8 weeks! It’s no wonder that so many women just throw in the towel and succumb to the grocery store shelves full of options.

For anyone reading that hasn’t experienced the pleasure of breastfeeding… here’s a sampling of what the first few weeks or even months may be like:

  • cracks, blood and blisters
  • gnawing
  • 45 minute feeding sessions followed by a 15 minute nap (on you), gas pains for 30 minutes, a giant poop up the back followed by another 45 minute nosh sesh
  • gushes of hormones upon latching that cause sudden bursts of rage from your total and utter lack of control over anything in your immediate surroundings
  • gushes of hormones during letdown that cause massive hot flashes
  • armpit odor from another place and time – the words “dirty hippie” come to mind
  • swells of guilt when you wonder if it’s time to quit
  • swells of satisfaction when the doc says “impressive weight gain”
  • a pool of breast milk making a cute bulls eye on your tank top
  • siblings looking at their own nipples and trying to feed their stuffed animals

Just one more notch on the Joys of Motherhood belt. Despite all of the harsh realities, it really is quite a beautiful thing, all of it. And it’s also quite astounding to my brain. Imagine being a little kid experiencing this part of human nature? They totally have no way of understanding conception, fetal development, birth or breast feeding, especially when it’s hard enough understanding it as an adult! Just trying to fathom how a couple of cells turns into a real live human, blows my mind…