I was on the phone this week talking to one of my dearest dearest friends, who lives in another state….we were talking about a conversation we had a few months ago that made her mad……..she was telling me NOW that it made her mad then, but what she didn’t know was that I already knew that…….and it was one of those conversations that you HATE having anyway, but you just do, because it is important. Now…this was not drama, or scandal, or anger….it was just me telling her something that I had learned, something that I didn’t want to learn, but had….I just told her that sometimes you go one step forward, and then something happens, and you go two steps back. She had called to tell me how excited she was that something VERY HUGE, a REALLY BIG TRAUMA in her family’s life, had been completely resolved….that it was finally over. I told her that maybe she should brace herself for a setback, just in case, prepare mentally…and that it was TOTALLY o.k. if that happened, because it was just part of the deal sometimes, and that it didn’t mean failure, it didn’t mean progress was not being made…..but that sometimes, it was just part of the process. She told me she was mad at me for saying that back then……but she called this week to tell me that the “two steps back” thing had happened, and that she was pretty devastated.
My 14 year old daughter saw that little orange sign up there in my studio, picked it up and read it and said…”that is the truest quote I have ever read…” When does life start feeling so confusing??? Well, sometimes it just is downright confusing. Let me tell you what I have learned about the way we are always wanting to be moving forward so fast….but that sometimes the most important thing we can do, sometimes the ONLY THING WE CAN DO is to just FACE the direction that we want to go….whether it feels like we are moving very fast or not…whether it feels like we are going forward or backward….just FACE the direction we want to go, and keep moving moving moving in that direction, even if it’s only with our hearts and minds….
I have learned, and continue to learn every day, that if I can just do this ONE THING, I will be ok. No matter what happens, as long as I am staying focused on where I want to be, on the end goal….that I have to just trust the journey that is going to take me there. Sometimes the journey is SO MADDENING. SO CONFUSING….I mean…how can you possibly call it progress if it feels like you are going back to where you started to begin with…or maybe even FURTHER back? Well….I don’t know a fraction of the reasons or explanations for this…but I do know a few of them…from experience….can I just tell you some things I know for absolutely, positively SURE? (p.s….there’s fifty jillion things I don’t know, but I do know a few things from experience)
I want to tell you why I know this is important. Take a look at my beloved green boots…..my best pals for years and years and years…..never let me down. Carried me through so much stuff that I’m surprised they are still kickin’. What I want you to notice is how worn out the heels are….they are so worn out because of the miles and miles and miles and miles that THEY HAVE WALKED BACKWARDS.
Sheeeesh, I have fallen on my face so many times….skinned my knees, and my elbows….gotten fat lips and road rash. I have had to go backward SOOOO MANY TIMES. But the minute I decided to walk backwards, facing forward, rather than turning my whole body around, with my BACK TO THE PLACE I WANTED BE, everything changed. Sometimes I still have to remind myself to keep my “face to the place” because when life inevitably sends me two steps backward when I have only managed to go one step forward, it sure doesn’t feel good….and I am tempted to turn my back on the good stuff and turn around and yell at the past……….as long as we are facing TODAY and facing TOMORROW…..we are not stuck in the past…and WE ARE MOVING FORWARD.
When I think about this, the first thing that comes to mind is in 2006 when I was ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY 100% sure that my husband was recovered. Because I came home from a business trip, and there he was…HIM. I was sure he was back. It lasted 10 or 12 days and then he crashed back to the horrible place he had been for 2 years, in some ways…even worse. It felt so cruel…like such a setback. But…then I did a lot of research over the next years, and realized that this is exactly how brain injury recovery goes. THIS IS HOW SO MUCH OF LIFE GOES. It seems like it should all keep getting better and better….but sometimes life has to go through weird and confusing dark forests on it’s way to where it’s going…and there’s no other route to get there. I wrote this blog post….almost EXACTLY 4 years ago when I thought it REALLY WAS OVER. I was so embarrassed…bitter, sad, CONFUSED, and felt SO FORGOTTEN when things actually went downhill again after this. Things did not get better for more than 3 YEARS AFTER THIS!!! Wow, I remember how confused I was. Devastated. Here’s the photo from that blog post…..
Even though I thought things were better, and that they were going to continue to get BETTER AND BETTER, 2006 marked the beginning of the VERY HARDEST, MOST PAINFUL years for us. We lost our business, we lost our home…we lost Marq more and more every day………THEN, things started to get better.
BUT ALL ALONG THINGS REALLY WERE HEADED TO THE BEST PLACE. THE RIGHT PLACE FOR US.…..all along. I just didn’t know it at the time, and it was very very very hard.
Soooo….if you are going through a setback like this…whether it’s financial, or physical, or in a relationship, or mentally or spiritually or creatively. IF YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD ALREADY run through the finish line of this particular journey…and then found yourself MILES from the end…..take heart, little lovelies….it’s all good…it really is. You are so super tough. You are so capable of taking this on. You are so much smarter, stronger and braver than you realize. You are going to see some incredible things come out of that body, mind and soul of yours…….things you never even knew existed. Someday you might even understand why all of this had to happen the way it is happening. Someday, for sure….you will be thankful for all that you learned from it…THIS I know for sure.
I know the road seems long…totally unfair, and downright sucky….but remember, EVERYTHING is on it’s way to somewhere else….everything is temporary. Everything comes into our lives exactly when it’s supposed to, lasts exactly as long as it’s supposed to last, and teaches us exactly what we are supposed to learn. Life is so amazing like that. You can do it…..I dare you.
Yesterday, after we launched the blog and website…I went to lunch to celebrate with two of my best friends. It was really a beautiful, amazing day….and so much of it fit into what I wanted to write about today. Then…I came home and ran a hot bath….and went to look for my favorite bubble bath that I haven’t used in a REALLLLLY long time, but it seemed like the perfect day to indulge. Right there….under the sink….with all of my bath-y stuff…….was an art journal I have been looking for at least a year. I have no idea why it was there…..but what was inside was miraculous and I haven’t opened that journal since I did the pages almost 3 years ago. I can’t wait to photograph and write about every page…and even use lots of it in our upcoming 6 week online course. But I wanted to share a couple of the pages because they fit right in with where I’m at right now, and what I want to share:
This reminds me clearly of where I was at during that time…and some of the lies that were running through my brain about how the world works……what life is supposed to be like….what life turns into, etc. I really, truly believed that I had my chance at happiness and joy, and now it was over. I believed I needed to suffer for my mistakes or for the trauma I was living through. I believed that I had been so blessed to be able to endure all of it, that I had used up my quota on blessings and that I should not ask for me. I believed that even if there were good days…..they wouldn’t last, so I needed to brace myself for more hard days. I believed this was my new life. I believed those things because those were the mean lies that were in my head…you know the cowardly lies that show up when you are weak, tired and discouraged……and kick you when you are done. The lies that destroy parts of our soul and want to destroy the whole of us.
Well, I sure didn’t WANT to believe those things…so I started that journal above….it was a YES journal…it was all of the things that I wanted to say YES to, and just ignoring the things I wanted to say no to…….as I look through all of the pages, it’s like puzzle pieces that show the picture even more clearly….and show me how I got to HERE and how I could never have gotten to HERE without going through THERE.
THIS is what I know now…
It’s kind of silly now that I think about it. It’s sad too. It’s sad that I spent ANY time thinking this way….that I had used up all of the good stuff that was allotted to me in life, and therefore could not ask for more. I believed for a while that God had helped me with SO MANY THINGS that He was sick of hearing from me and sick of all of my drama. I stopped asking for help. I believed that I had made mistakes and therefore believed that I could not be trusted with blessings. That I needed to suffer more…….to make up for all of it. That I needed to suffer to show how much I wanted my husband to get better….that it would be a slap in the face if I laughed or had a good time or believed in big and beautiful things while my life was such a mess. I think I pretty much got addicted to suffering. And…again, I am not going to knock myself. I did the best I could and I really did have lots of reasons to feel the way I felt. I just wish I knew what I know now….because it would have helped me to know that it was not required of me to sit in the cesspool of my own suffering, but that it was entirely ok for me to get up and enjoy life whenever I could. That it did not mean that I was not working hard to pull myself out of all of the messes I was in….and mostly that God did not want that for me…He did not want me to be unhappy….and all of Heaven was trying desperately to show me that there was a better way.
HAPPINESS DOES NOT HAVE A LIMIT PER USER!
JOY IS NOT RATIONED OUT!!!!
We will do ourselves all a big huge favor if we accept the gifts that are waiting for us, even when we are in the midst of lots of craziness, chaos, despair, confusion. Even if we think there are parts of our mess that are entirely our own fault and that therefore we should be suffering through as much as possible.
Really??? Could that REALLY be the way it works? Think of a child that you love fiercely. Think of that child burning her hand on the stove. Would you REALLLLLLY withhold the bandages, the burn ointment, the hugs the kisses, the ice…..ANYTHING you could possibly do to make it better. Would you REALLY hold that back because that child touched the stove, and it was her own fault. REALLY? No way. Blessings are there always, the givers of blessings want to give them…we have to accept them. We have to believe that happiness, joy, comfort, love, progress and success are what is meant for us.
So this is Maria…after we had lunch yesterday we went for a walk by the river. We explored and we laughed and had a total blast. We have been talking a lot about the stuff I just wrote about….about how hard it is to go from that funky place to a place of total joy, peace and happiness and to be able to trust that it will last….or that we deserve it. She is amazing…she just keeps telling me to enjoy it. JUST ENJOY IT she says….who cares about what happens tomorrow…that is not in your control. She is my free bird friend…and one of those friends I talked about in my last post that I totally would have missed out on if I had given up. She is one of the greatest gifts in my life. So…on our walk…we both picked words…….here’s hers:
I stated in my blog post at the very beginning of the year that my word for the year was ENJOY…and let me tell you, I am enjoying life SO MUCH…AS MUCH AS I POSSIBLY CAN!!! But it’s a new habit that I’ve had to get into…and I’ve had to consciously defeat those mean lies that show up that say it’s not time for the suffering to be over yet. HOW LAME!!! Lies are lame….so so so lame. Whatever, man….suffering is NOT required. Suffering is part of life, but it is never ever required. I don’t believe that God wants us to suffer, I think there’s always a better way to choose….and now that I know that, I am going to walk towards it no matter what….no matter what kind of mess I am in. Because life is messy and I’m sure there will be more messes. I just know more now…….and I will use it next time for sure.
We walked through the rocks and the dirt and then RIGHT THERE in the middle of the rocks and dirt was one tiny, perfect, happy little yellow flower…
I had to put my purse down and take a photo of it….it reminds me of you and of me and of life…….that we get to choose to bloom amidst the rocks…..and the dirt…wherever we are. Thank goodness for brave little yellow flowers.
I am so honored to write the very first post of the new official Brave Girls Club blog. First, I want to welcome you all here…it’s hard to believe that it has been just under a year since we launched this little idea with our first BRAVE GIRL CAMP and that already, we have thousands and thousands of women all over the world who are a part of Brave Girls Club. Kathy and I are OVER THE MOON EXCITED to finally bring you this blog…with so many surprises in store in the next few weeks. Brave Girls unite!!! This really is incredible…and there’s not a day that goes by that I am not profoundly grateful to be a part of it. So, once again…WELCOME!!! We hope you will come back every day…even several times a day…because there will be new and wonderful things to find and be a part of every day…and we would LOVE for you to be here with us!
Now…for what I have chosen to write about for our first post….I am going to write about GIVING UP.
This is going to be long and I hope you will read it anyway…because if I was going to die tomorrow, this is the last thing I would ever want to say to you…it’s that important. I promise that my upcoming posts won’t be this long…..:) And…bear with me as I talk WAAAYYY too much about myself…it’s going somewhere….
I have actually wanted to write about this for months…because every day my gratitude grows and grows and grows, until it is squished so tightly in my heart that hardly any more gratitude can fit…….and what I am thankful for is that I did not give up.
Because it was a close one. I almost did….lots of times…lots and lots and lots of times. And frankly, I would not have blamed myself….I had lots of valid reasons to give up. But….I can look back at that girl who woke up every day and decided to try one more time, and I just want to tell her……”good job, amazing girl…..you did it.” Does that sound braggy???? Well, too bad…I am proud of that girl, I really am.
Some weeks ago…I was in Chicago at a trade show for the craft and hobby industry that I am a part of. It was the first time in 13 years of going that I did not have to be working in a booth…and I just got to walk the show and see the products, see my friends, see what’s going on. I had a blast! When I got home…friends started to send photos…and when I got this one….I started to laugh…and I think I even shed a couple of tears………let me tell you why….
What is so extraordinary about this photo is that I did not know it was being taken…and therefore, I was not posing…I was not TRYING to look happy, relaxed and together. I was not psyching myself up, imagining happy and funny things so that I could pull off a real smile.
I was just sitting there…..BE-ing. And someone captured it……and let me tell you, I have not felt the thrill of victory so passionately many times the way I felt it when I saw this photo.
THIS is the melody that at one time, I thought was gone forever. Happy, confident, hopeful, colorful, funky, relaxed, fun…on track….dancing to the rhythm of her own drum….heck, DANCING AT ALL! I was not trying to be her, or find her……..THERE I WAS…I am HER AGAIN!
While I was in Chicago….I had the greatest time with friends….effortlessly enjoying life and doing things that made me happy….and FEELING happy….without trying. Does this all sound insane and ridiculous that it makes me so happy???? That it is such a victory? Let me tell you why this is all such a big deal to me….
For the last 3-5 years…a big string of horrible experiences came into my life..some huge and life altering, some small and seemly insignificant. I held it all together pretty well for a while…but then I ran out of steam. I am not sure when it started….how long it lasted…not sure of many huge details for certain…………but girls, I was in a funk. I was depressed. I was sad….I was devastated. I was SURE that I had lived my best years and that this was how it was going to be forever……..and I had lots of reasons to believe this…….stuff I will maybe go into later, …or if you are really want to know…go read archives from my blog about my totally awesome disaster of a life!!! 🙂 That same life that I honestly wouldn’t change if I could.
Anyway…during that time…I pretty much isolated myself as much as I could…..and as more time passed…I ACTUALLY MADE A DECISION that I fully planned on living up to…that I would NEVER make another new friend (I had been very hurt too many times, and even unintentionally hurt others too) that I would NEVER have my own business again (I felt like a complete failure) and that I would just try to survive the state that my marriage was in……(my husband was suffering from a traumatic brain injury and our marriage pretty much went away) I decided that I would stay RIGHT where I was and not go anywhere else…literally and figuratively…that way I would never fail again, never get hurt again, never hurt anyone else again.
I remember during that time, working working working myself into oblivion. Every once in awhile I would accidentally bump the webcamera button and suddenly I would appear on screen. I would think “WHO IN THE WORLD IS THAT WOMAN?” I did not recognize the lifeless shell of a person that showed up on the screen……..so I started to take pictures of myself……….here’s a few…I will explain some of them…
The thing that strikes me about these photos is how many times I changed my hair. It is one of those things that women do when they want to feel better…feel different, feel anything…….and I remember I wanted desperately to feel better. I put some of the winners in here…..the jet black hair…the princess leah side buns….the wavy brown hair with big streaks in it…….the sad sad sad face….I want to crawl in the screen and wrap that girl in a blanket and hold her on the couch and tell her everything is going to be ok….wow, she was in a rough place…..and it went on for years.
Well….she didn’t give up. She kept getting up anyway. She kept trying to smile anyway. She kept trying to remember her old dreams anyway. She kept loving her husband anyway. She kept accepting the only kind of love he could give anyway. She kept trying trying trying anyway. Almost every day.
Then one day she took a risk….and she decided to reach out again……to her friends, to her family. It was scary…but she did it. She took a step toward them…they took hundreds of steps toward her.
After lots and lots of days of this….weeks months…she started dreaming again. She started trusting again…she even started smiling for real again……….
The people who loved her were patient and kind and wonderful. She would pray and ask God if she was still in there…..and who “SHE” even was.
And I learned that SHE was me. And that I was still in there……..
And THIS my friends….is why the dream of BRAVE GIRLS CLUB was born….because too many of us stay in that stuck place….that place that I was….that I didn’t think I could ever get out of…..the place that would have kept me from THIS:
It took a lot of years, but I am here enjoying the sweetest, tenderest, truest and most gratifying and comforting marriage I could have ever imagined. With patience and love and faith and suuuuuuch a long wait, my husband finally recovered and his soul came back to me. BUT I ALMOST GAVE UP. I did…I am not gonna lie…almost every day, I almost gave up. But I decided to give it one more shot…almost every day…and after years and years of that……..I have the best marriage ever.
And…..I would have missed out on this if I would have given up:
This one gives me the chills. WHAT IF I HAD GIVEN UP? There would be no Brave Girls Club…there would be no BRAVE GIRL CAMP. I would never have met the hundreds of women who have walked through the door of our cabin and became lifelong soul friends. THEY MIGHT NOT EVER HAVE MET EACH OTHER!!! ACK!!! There would be no DAILY TRUTHS and no midnight Creme Brulee and all those weird vintage funky things we bought to decorate with would probably still be at Salvation Army…..Oh man…what if I had given up? What if I had not accepted the miracles that came straight from heaven to set it all straight…what if I’d just given up?
And…I gave up on my art for the longest time…for years. I never touched a paint brush….I never stepped into an art store…even though art is my blood and my air and my joy…what if I’d given up?
Here’s what I want to tell you, beautiful women of the world……….PLEASE give it a chance to work itself out…please see it through. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t give up.
You just don’t know what’s ahead for you that you would miss out on if you threw in the towel. You don’t know about all of the things that are being orchestrated for you right this minute…there to greet you as soon as you cross the finish line of your journey over those high mountains. You never know why you are stripped off of the path you are on so that you can be put on another………….but PLEASE, give it a chance…SEE IT THROUGH.
Friend…it is worth it. I promise I won’t give up if you wont…in fact, I am just gonna come right out and say it…because sometimes we just need that in life…we need someone to grab our face in their hands….look us in the eye…and say with all the conviction in their voice…’DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP!”
You have so much to look forward to. Keep going………I’m gonna tell you how I did it, I hope we can all tell each other how we do it every day.
Sending you SO MUCH LOVE, so much HAPPINESS…and so many funky dance moves……
Let’s live a big life!!!!!
I looooove jewelry…..and I have TONS of it….now I’m not talking about the valuable, expensive gemstones, diamonds and precious metals kind…..I’m talking about super fun costume jewelry that is colorful and funky and a little work of art in itself……
Sooo…..I can not stand to get rid of it, so I keep it forever…and I also can not stand to PUT it away. I love to look at it!!! Here’s a sweet little idea that you can implement with stuff you probably already have around the house….
Turn your jewelry into wall art!
So this is an old white frame I had….it has been in my garage with an inch of dust keeping it cozy…I brought it in…cleaned it up, took all the glass and backing out…and then painted the top of it yellow. THEN…I just added a necklace and a brooch…and I used that sticky blue stuff that holds everything but doesn’t leave a mark…so I can change it out whenever I want to!
Here are some more ideas…
Put your pretty brooches on a black background with a colorful frame and they will be beautifully showcased…this is another ugly old 90’s looking frame that I had…I painted it, Mod Podged and antiqued it…..now I love it!
This one is just a scrap of wood I found in my husband’s stash…then I Mod Podged fabric onto it, and painted a little design to showcase whatever necklace I am going to hang from the pretty brass nail I tacked into the top of it…easy peasy!!
Here’s one more simple idea……using a shadow box lid…but you can just use a frame with glass, too….it’s kind of cool to have the stuff on the OUTSIDE instead of the inside…
So you’ll need a shadow box or frame, some old jewelry (I used a bracelet and a brooch) and some pretty paper or fabric to put inside:
Now…just put the fabric or paper into the back of the frame or shadow box…I actually just put it on the wall with the tack that I put into the wall to hang it by…then I used the above mentioned blue sticky stuff to tack the corners down…then I hung the frame part on the same nail…….and put the jewelry on with the blue sticky stuff!! You could use hot glue or E6000 or Gorilla Glue if you want to make it more permanent…but me, I like change!! This is so easy to switch around….and I can also continue to wear the jewelry when I use the blue sticky stuff!!!!
Here’s how it looks when it’s done:
Give your jewelry the attention it deserves!!! YAY FOR JEWELRY that is WALL ART!!