Hundreds and Hundreds of you have already signed up for our SOUL RESTORATION workshop starting in January….but lots of you lovelies WANT to do it but are worried about being an artist…make sure you watch this video if you are having those feelings…..
Wanted to make sure everyone has seen this great video explaining SOUL RESTORATION…lots more videos coming soon!!!
And did you know that THIS POST from last week has been spread all over the world and has been viewed over 20,000 times in the last week? Make sure you read it if you have not…it’s a good one….it will even be printed in a few magazines across the world!!!!!
And THIS sweet and amazing post from some of our favorite friends talking about how they feel about what we are doing… WOW!!!
BRAVE GIRLS CLUB is growing by the thousands daily!!!! We are so happy to have you all here!!!!!
SO MUCH MORE GOODNESS TO COME!!!!
Come back soon!
Hope you are making beautiful things…….making something somewhere….creating is good for the soul!
Sometimes disappointing things happen and you just have to think back to all of the disappointments in life that turned out for the very best. We are doing that with as much enthusiasm as possible right now. And…we are deciding to dig while we wait.
You see, a month or so ago, Kathy and I bought shovels. We were having a little meeting at a cute little coffee house in the town that we were both born in….and we knew for sure that it was time to make some concrete goals about growing Brave Girls Club. We KNOW we’ve got to get our own retreat center near our homes so that we can start hosting a few retreats a month as well as day retreats…4 retreats a year is just NOT enough…we have enough of a waiting list to do at least one a month, so we have GOT to have our own place down here in the valley and we’ve got to get to work just DOING IT…….we have NO IDEA how this will be accomplished. But, when the meeting was over….we just decided that we would go down the street to the hardware store and buy ourselves each a shovel…and we decided that ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, we will use these shovels to break ground on our new retreat center. The details would come together somehow…..we know this from the way all of it has happened…..the shovels would be a visable act of faith to show our belief in what we are doing.
So we did it, we bought some shovels.
Well, immediately little miracles started to happen. Life works like that…you take one step in faith and a thousand steps are taken toward you and your goal. It is very cool.
Well, that following week….we quickly decided, based on our huge waiting list for our sold-out camps, and on the hundreds of emails we get each week about how badly so many dear women want to come to camp….AND the fact that we just WANT TO DO THIS…….that we could not wait a year.
So we decided to look for a place NOW.
So we did.
The next day, on Craigslist,
We found a perfect place.
It was INCREDIBLE.
We met with the owner…everything was a go.
The place did not need to be built…it was already built.
The owners loved the idea. They wanted to sell it but did not yet have a buyer, so they agreed to lease it to us until we could buy it.
Get this…the owner’s name is ART. ART!!!!!!!!!!! (meant to be, I tell ya)
We decided that we would use our shovels to plant flowers instead of break ground on building our own place. It is the perfect time to plant bulbs for Spring…..so that would be the new job of the shovels…
We would plant thousands of flowers around this perfect place, which we had already named BGC Restoration Ranch.
Another thing happened a few days later…I had purchased a cool vintage alphabet on Ebay….and that week…..I got the package in the mail….and with it…THIS thank-you card….from a total stranger who knew nothing of me…..I was collaging my shovel when I opened this card……
I mean…seriously…LOOK! A shovel! A butterfly!!! And our numbers…the date we had chosen for our Soul Restoration class…..1/11/11 AND THEN JUST READ THE VERSE.
…I thought…”THIS HAS GOT TO BE SOME KIND OF SIGN….”
So…it all was working out PERFECTLY…all signs pointed to YES YES YES!!! We were planning to sign papers yesterday. We were thrilled. Everyone involved was thrilled….our children were jumping up and down and everyone we know could not wait to go see it after we signed the papers. We had tons of volunteers to paint, redecorate and get the place ready. Our shovels were happy and ready. We were OVER THE MOON EXCITED!!! It felt so right!!!!
I drove past the place yesterday morning and sat and stared at it. Then I drove a mile away and sat in the parking lot of a drugstore and wrote in my journal. I waited there for the call that it was time to go and sign the papers.
WHAT A MIRACLE that this is happening a year early!!
The phone rang and it was Kathy and she said….”I don’t have good news…”
“A cash offer just came to the table and they are taking it……so, we are out of the running…..the deal is off….”
WHAT??? REALLLY??? HOW??? WHY???
Well, then I just felt a calm peace…reminds me of the way I felt earlier this year when I got the same kinda phonecall….huge and devastating and confusing disappointment over something that I thought was certain…something that we prayed and wished for and felt like was ABSOLUTELY right for our family. But, it wasn’t. The whole story is on my personal blog HERE.
Well……that was yesterday. This is today.
Today I collaged the photos of all of the Brave Girls that have ever come to camp on my shovel. I will soon be filling it with many more faces of others who have written letters….the people who make us want to do this so badly….the women who believe so dearly in this dream…and all of us who NEED this. I Mod Podged lots of “truths” on there too..
But……my shovel does not want to wait. It doesn’t want to sit there doing nothing….it has work to do….work it wants to do.
Might not be the work that I was hoping for at this moment…..
But, while we are waiting for what we hope, wish and BELIEVE will happen someday….why JUST wait????…why not wait while doing things we CAN DO.
Today I will go and buy flower bulbs that I will use my shovel to dig holes that will hide them under the earth and soon under snow and ice…and in the Spring they will magically appear as flowers….even though I won’t be able to see all of the cool stuff that is happening underneath.
You see, I have really been thinking about this.
The soil is there, it is ready to be planted. It is time to plant what needs to be planted right now. The soil is ready because it has been made fertile with all of the compost of my life……just like yours is. Your mind and your heart hold this incredible soil that is ready to be planted…sometimes you are in the phase where it’s being made ready….and it is surprising just what it is that made that soil so rich and ready.
See……my compost…the scraps and waste of my life has been put deep into the soil and now it’s rich and fertile….just like a field or a garden that has been filled with fertilizer and compost that was made from things that we thought were nasty and stinky trash….it is going to be used to make the seeds grow…whatever we plant there, it will be ready to grow. You see how cool this is…how cool life is…that it takes all of this stuff that most people call trash and waste, and it is the very thing that puts the nutrients back into the soil so that whatever we plant there will grow and thrive?
So…we can’t break ground. We can’t plant flowers at our own place yet….we CAN plant lots and lots of other things. And we will.
My challenge to you today is to go buy a shovel. Buy a shovel for that big dream and that big plan that you have in mind. Make it pretty…….then, while you are waiting…USE THAT SHOVEL to plant goodness wherever you go. DON’T WAIT for the big day…..because you will be able to plant so much while you wait…you’ll plant things that will grow in ways you could never have imagined.
And..someday it will be time to break ground. I hope that the shovels will be worn and used and clinked and dinged and in need of sharpening…………..because that’s what shovels are for.
AND……..we will invite you with your shovel to come and help us break ground someday….WHEN IT IS TIME. WHEN IT IS TIME. WHEN IT IS TIME. That is when it will happen. So….please get your shovels ready, you are invited. If you are in need of our shovels in the meantime, we will be ready to use them……
Lots of planting will be happening every day, THAT I promise.
Keep on diggin’, really nothing is more important than that.
I just want to tell you a few wonderful things I have learned this year. Please stick with me here as I go to some kind of negative places at first…..because it all turns around in the end. Being a woman is sometimes just really difficult, ya know? This will be one of the most difficult blog posts I will ever write….but, I am brave, right?
I turned 39 a few weeks ago. I got up, I got dressed….I straightened my hair and I put on make up. I was in a great mood! I put on a sweet little sweater I had just bought, I felt pretty darn good….and then I looked in my bathroom mirror and thought…”wow, I look pretty good for being 39” (maybe it was the lighting?)
Then, I decided that since I looked so great that day….I would take a photo of myself on my laptop with my little built in camera. So, I did.
It was a reality check. I looked old. I looked tired. I looked much different than I thought I looked. In all honesty…I felt kind of angry….disappointed….frustrated….embarrased….ashamed….sooooo…… I sat there for a really long time, looking at myself…trying different poses and faces and really…..
..it just sort of went downhill for a bit….my thoughts went all different directions…. “When did this happen? When did I get this old and saggy and….old looking?” It think I cried a little bit out of frustration…I stayed in the bathroom looking in the mirror for almost an hour.
I have gained 20 or so pounds the last few years and I have taken 10 of it off about 10 times…….it’s back again. It’s one of those things that I just have to buckle down and take care of, I know how to do it…it’s getting harder and I am more tired than I was at the beginning of this decade….but, I still know I can do it…….but, I also know I’ve got to get over some of the things going on in my brain about it, too…..or this cycle will just continue.
Here it is, plain and simple:
I am mean to myself lots of the time. I am mean the way most women that I know are mean to themselves. I rarely tell myself that I am o.k. in this body, in this skin…with this hair and these hips and that flabby stuff that showed up under my arms in the last few years. I am constantly in pursuit of something to help me to look better, to feel better about the way I look….to look younger….and when I finally find something that’s working, I move on to some other part of my body that isn’t right. It really never ends…there is always something on my body that went south while I was working so hard to fix some another part of my body.
I use Spanx and I wear flattering jackets and I know how to use the liquify tool in Photoshop. I am a pro at it!! HAHAHA!!! There are so many temporary fixes. But none of those things are reality, I live in this confusing, perfectly healthy body 24 hours a day that I can’t seem to be o.k. with.
I am embarrassed to admit all of this. I am in tears now….and can feel those tears gaining momentum, burning my eyes because I hide from these feelings a lot because I have some serious shame about them. I don’t want to be like this. I know it is not right to feel like this. I am extraordinarily kind to my soul. (but somehow I separate that?) I have learned to be kind to the girl inside of this body. I know that the worth of ALL of our souls is absolutely immeasurable…as is the wisdom of our souls…but our souls are housed in these bodies…and so much of the time, I treat my body like some disgusting monster…..almost like an enemy……..and then I expect my soul to be happy here. I feel incongruent……but I have yet to crack the code for this one. I am working very hard to change my approach…..
Because something wonderful happened this year that, if I focus on it, instead of on the youth that really is gone, no matter how hard I try to chase it down and beg it to come back…….if I focus on some authentic learning experiences I have had this year, I am at peace with this aging process……..I am at peace with this body, even if only for a few minutes….I am at peace with gravity and what it is doing to my face and my tush and the attention that I used to get from the opposite sex…and that people used to be so shocked when I said that I had 5 children but are not shocked anymore when I say that I have one in college. I am even at peace with the wrinkles and the old looking hands and the fact that I will almost certainly be a grandmother in this decade. If I focus on the TRUTH….I am at peace. It’s when I get stuck in the lies that I start to disintegrate.
One thing I know about myself is that my body image has ALWAYS been my biggest struggle. It is the thing that screams the biggest lies to me and tries hardest to keep me from moving forward and reaching my potential as a human being. I think ALL of us have a biggest struggle…and that we really have to know that it probably will always be something we struggle with to some extent…our whole lives…..whether it’s an addiction, or a chronic illness, or a way of thinking that we know is destructive, or a behavior……I know that we all have a big thing that we will always have to work hard to keep in check. Body image is mine….food, and my relationship with food……….things that sound so dumb and unimportant but that completely consume me if I let them. We all have some crazy secret struggle that keeps us from moving forward, enjoying peace and living to our potential if we give it the power that it seems to always want to take from us.
I really am so embarrassed to be admitting all of this. The more I type, the more I cry..the more I want to delete the whole thing. I DO KNOW that it is the TRUTH that sets us free….and I am facing this truth full on, I am ready. I know the power of living in our own truths and of treating all things and people and situations with love…..I am ready to completely and unconditionally love this part of myself. I am not talking about loving the parts of myself that I feel are too chubby or wrinkly or saggy…I’m talking about full-on embracing and loving the parts of me that STRUGGLE WITH MY BODY IMAGE. I am talking about being honest with myself FINALLY that I will probably ALWAYS struggle with this, but that I am going to embrace that part of myself with the biggest bear hug and tell her that it’s ok….that we are one….she is a part of me…and that we are going to figure this out together so that we CAN love all of the things that are happening as I am aging. I am going to stop HIDING and STUFFING down that part of myself. I am going to stop being ashamed of the way she is feeling….and I am going to confront it. I am going to sit with her and be with her and hear her. I am going to invite her to be part of me….because the more I run from her and hide from her……..the more she controls what is happening in my life. I think she just wants to be heard. I am ready.
This won’t be the last time I will talk about this whole body image issue….it is a HUUUUGE issue for so many of us…holds so many of us prisoner. Over the next months, we will be talking about it a lot….about eating disorders, body shame…about perceptions that we have with our worth being attached to our appearance, or our size, or our weight……about using food as a drug or a punishment rather than as fuel and a nurturing tool…….it’s where I am at in my journey and I’ve gathered lots of women to help me write about it….I am looking forward to working through this with so many of you…..
BUT PLEASE KEEP READING because I haven’t gotten to the best part yet!
For now…I hope that you will join me in having compassion with yourself and the weak parts of you. I have seen the miracles that can happen when we accept and embrace the weak parts of ourselves rather than run from them, or hide them away, or treating them with unkindness and shame…….
I have seen what REAL beauty is and I hope to get better and better at clinging to this truth and staying away from lies that torment women when it comes to our appearance and our age and our body size……..
Let me tell you NOW about a few wonderful experiences that I have had that I am going to cling to when I am feeling weak about this all……
When we held our first Brave Girl Camp, last October…..women walked through the door of all ages and all walks of life…….but the women who fascinated me most…who drew me in…..were the women with the beautiful gray hair and the gorgeous wrinkles…..and the huge hearts and the infinite wisdom…and the peace of soul, even in their struggles….
It happened again at the next camp….
and then the next….and the next….
every morning at breakfast through every night at our share……I would stare at them….their whole alive and twinkling selves….and I was in awe of their beauty…..so raw, transparent and real….so inspiring………so awe-inspiring.
Every time I am at camp…and every time I come home from camp…I have this new feeling about ME. I am not afraid to get old anymore….I am not afraid of wrinkles or a few new curves or ANY of it….I am actually EXCITED for it. I am READY to embrace my authenticity in the way that they are embracing theirs. I WANT TO BE THAT, and DO THAT, and I want to BE OK with that. I want to be the “older woman” in the room who is now in the position to teach the younger girls that it’s not so scary to grow older…that it’s actually quite wonderful. (ok, I often AM the older woman in the room………..I’m just going to EMBRACE IT now….)
These women….TRULY are THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMEN I know…..and perhaps their beauty shines even shinier in my eyes because I DO KNOW THEM…and they KNOW ME. We had the time and we took the time to really, truly SEE each other……..past the wrinkles, the age spots, the pull of gravity on our skin and the wrinkly hands….and we SAW each other. Each camp, I end up having one of the most meaningful conversations of my life with one of the older women. They laugh and they cry with me….with all of us…and they share the wisdom that ONLY CAN COME from living. This true wisdom that radiates through these women and that inner peace hold hands with getting older………..they hold hands…..they are one. They are like young girls and old women all at once. They are YOUNG and they are BEAUTIFUL.
When I am in a weak spot…and all of the lies are coming at me with brutal force…….I really just have to pull one of these photos out and see the ONE MOST USEFUL and EFFECTIVE beauty tip EVER known to man (or woman!) it is…..authenticity. It is happiness…joy….embracing your journey…not resisting it…it is kindness….openness…..love……
……..it shines through your skin and your eyes and your hair and your beautiful, well-earned wise bodies and it makes you the most gorgeous woman alive.
So then I tried that.
I thought about things that make me feel alive….and suddenly, I was just a little bit prettier…..a little less sullen…..my eyes were sparkling and I was o.k.
Pretty easy, huh? No surgery, no diet, no pills………just a little bit of perspective….a choice…
THAT is how to be young and beautiful…forever and ever.
Just over a week has gone by since we all returned home from October Brave Girl Camp. The fun times and soul engravings still linger everywhere in my mind and heart….and I know it’s pretty much the same for everyone who was there. It just happens like this every time. Just like always…the only thing I would change about camp is that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN I KNOW could be there to experience it. Every time we have another camp….it makes me remember all of the camps before it, and miss all of the girls from all of the past camps…and to see all of this grow into something so big and beautiful and lasting is a miracle that I wish everyone could experience. That is why we are working so hard to open a retreat center where we can do camps at least twice a month…….for now….I just want to share with you what the girls of THIS camp have to say about it. We want you to experience all of this magic too….and for now, we are creating an online class with the Brave Girl Camp curriculum and as much of the magic of camp as we can fit into it…you can find out more about that here.
Here are the thoughts of many of the girls…and since we just started this blog last month…I also want to go back sometime soon and pull the blog posts from the Brave Girl Camp alumni of the past year….for now, let me introduce you to some of the many wonderful women of October…(in no particular order because they are all equally spectacular!)
Here’s Kolleen……she has written quite a few posts about her experience….here’s one of my favorite quotes she wrote…
I can honestly say i watched a moment change everything for many many women….i think they would all agree when i say “we are all forever changed.”
her blog is at http://heartwingsisters.blogspot.com
We had the amazing experience of having THREE girls at this camp who attending our VERY FIRST CAMP one year ago…it was so much fun to share our first anniversary with them so we could all celebrate how far Brave Girl’s Club has come in just one year…one of these beautiful girls was Connie…she actually came as staff….I loved reading what she had to say about the difference in coming as a guest and a staffer…
You can find brave Connie’s blog post here
Kelly is angelic and unforgettable….we all got to bask in her lovely glow and her pure zest and love for life and people…she has really written some beautiful posts about camp and post-camp….I am loving reading her posts…
and more too at http://kelly-loveismyreligion.blogspot.com
Mikal is lovely and she has a powerful, calming presence. I looooved having her at camp, we all did. It was wonderful to read her post-camp blog post and have her explain her feelings about things…I love how she put it all into words…
Mikals blog is http://mikalslanding.blogspot.com
p.s…..just in case you were wondering…beautiful Mikal’s name is pronounced just like “Michael”
We all so enjoyed spending time with Lynda. With so many women in one place…the quiet ones are hard to get to sometimes, Lynda was a bright and shining light….in her quiet way….and camp would not have been the same without her…
See Lynda’s beautiful post here
and Lynda’s blog is http://positive-force.blogspot.com
Lara is soulful and artsy….a professional photographer by trade…her art speaks volumes
she is also a blast to be around and we all loved having her & her great laugh there
here’s Lara’s blog post
and her blog can be found at http://modernprairiegirl.com
Chrissy just might be my brunette twin….well, we just like the same clothes and all…and she actually came out of her room several times at camp wearing clothes that I also own. So….we had lots in common. BUT…that’s not what’s so fabulous about Chrissy…..she is just full of so much love and she shared it all with us all throughout camp. She is a ray of sunshine for sure….
So much loveliness……….
I know some of the girls are still working on blog posts, too….so I will be sure to post those when they are done!
Today is my 39th Birthday. I have never been so happy in every single way in all of my life. I can not tell you how overwhelmed with joy I feel on this day that I get to do this…..this beautiful thing called Brave Girl’s Club…this magical experience called Brave Girl Camp……I have to pinch myself every day to make sure it’s real…..so FAR BEYOND a dream come true. I wish every woman could experience this joy. As I said before, we are doing our best to make this happen. I hope you will check out our upcoming online class….SOUL RESTORATION……it is as close to the Brave Girl Camp experience as you can get without actually being there.
Sending out SO MUCH LOVE.
I’m getting ready to share with you all about our October Brave Girl Camp….from my perspective, but I especially want to share the words and photos that many of the graduates have been sharing on their blogs….before I begin, though…
I want to share something first about what I am feeling as I look over the photos from camp…not just THIS camp, but all of the camps we have had so far….something huge is standing out for me….I want to tell you about something that makes me happier than happy….and it’s so simple really…so simple that I don’t understand why it doesn’t happen more often….because it seems to make everyone happy that sees it or does it….I am thinking right now about how often it happens at Brave Girl Camp…and then, after…how each group continues to be in each other’s lives in the most positive ways….it is THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING.
What is this simple thing? Well…I love when I see people lifting the spirits of other people….especially when those doing the lifting have heavy burdens of their own. The miraculous part of it all is that when we lift the burdens of others….somehow OURS are lifted…and for a moment…no one is carrying a burden. It is one of the crazy miracles of life.
People often come to camp full of lots of brokenness, hauling around pain and trials that are so heavy, sometimes they have been lugging these enormous weights for a lifetime. Within the first 24 hours….I see these broken people all doing everything they can to put each other back together. I think that’s why so much happens so fast there….because there’s so much beautiful-ness coming from so many women in every direction…and it just HAPPENS….no one tells anyone to do it…they just do….it is a miracle that I wish I knew the formula to…because the world would be a different place if we all treated each other the way I see women treating each other at every single camp.
I always always always hear at least a few BGC attendees….often many more than a few….comment on how they have rarely been in a group of women that whose main intentions are to lift each other up, rather than tear each other down.
Why is that? Why is it that we hold all of this power in us…as women….to really lift each other up…to encourage, to remind, to support, to love and adore without conditions or expectations? We have all of this enormous power to actually HEAL each other!!! And yet, it often goes unused….and even sometimes that power gets used to destroy rather than to build. We have so much responsibility with this gift we have been given.It once again makes me want to try harder. It makes me want to reach out more and more and more. It makes me want to truly truly truly SEE more people…not just LOOK…but really SEE who they are what they are about….and if they can’t see all of that beauty that’s inside of them…I want to do all that I can to show them. Because I have seen what kind of miracles can happen.
It teaches me once again that in times of burden and hardship and pain….one of the fastest ways to be relieved of the weight of it all is to lift another person up….it is like their lifted iron burdens become a magnet that swoops our own heavy metal burdens up with theirs…..until we are all light and free…………
It’s a beautiful thing. I hope we can all do more of it. I hope that more than I hope for just about anything in the world.
*all of these photos were taken by beautiful brave girls…I will be sharing their blog posts with you next!!!
More to come!
The blogging has suffered because of my wild travel schedule. I am so happy to be home. So happy that this last trip brought so much unexpected R&R because in one week we leave for Brave Girl Camp and I am so excited and so ready!!! Then, believe it or not, I have many months at home! wooohoooo!
Thank you for being so patient. So many blog posts coming this week…..I just got back from Las Vegas…right when I had just gotten back from Minneapolois…and that was my last trip for a long while aside from our beloved Brave Girl Camp next week…I am so looking forward to spending the Fall and Winter mostly at home. We have so many exciting things planned for this blog, for the website…videos, classes, ideas, interviews, guest bloggers and so much fun…thanks so much for being here with us!
Kathy is such a trooper, you know that? She’s always my calm in the storm…..she’s been working her bootie off making sure everything is getting done for camp, while I’m swirling and twirling all over the country, she’s taking care of all administrative things and being the best mentor and big sister I could ever ask for. I could never do all of this if she was not my partner. She does so much that no one ever hears about……
I left last Thursday to speak at an amazing event, and had no idea that it was at a fabulous resort…I was honored to be invited as the keynote speaker at Inspiration Unlimited…..the amazing event put on by world renowned designer, Teresa Collins...who also happens to be a great friend…..and who also happens to be one of the original Brave Girls!
One year ago….she attended our first camp….she believed in us enough to show up even though no one knew exactly what it would be like. We all experienced the unexplainable magic and I’m so happy she was there…It was incredible to see her in her element at HER event. She was a light….just radiant…if you want to go to this event….ya better hurry…that’s all I have to say, it usually sells out within 5 minutes of the opening of registration…I can see why, it is just a decadent event…five star for sure!
And was at a sweet resort/spa……sooooo…really? I feel pretty darn lucky right now to have been invited, and to have been able to actually have a few days all alone to finish my curriculum for BGC, to write my speech for Saturday night…and to catch up on sleep….what a huge blessing. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, TC & IU staff! (is it ok if I share? it was so weird to be in the lap of luxury with no one to share it with…everyone was so busy at the event…I just hung out by myself the whole time at the pool and in my room…..heavenly if ya ask me….)
I loved this:
I REALLLY loved being the keynote at this event, and I loved the hundreds of women who I got to talk to after…you all touched my hearts so much. I wonder if anyone recorded the speech? I hope so….I would love for you to hear it…it’s some things I’ve learned about what happens between where we are now and where we want to end up…..and all of the rocky terrain that sometimes shows up en route……..and how to navigate uncharted trails, high mountain passes that sometimes end up in xero-visibility blizzards and hot deserts and lonely stretches of road to get to the good places we are heading………..if it didn’t get recorded, I will write it all out for ya.
Last week I had fun in Minneapolis too. It was crazy and exhausting and an absolute whirlwind of scheduled meetings and classes to teach, I was running running running for 4 days straight. I was able to do so many things and meet and see and hang out with so many people. LOVED finally meeting Shea…we have gone from FB friends to pals for life….and I got to spend time with my dear sweet pal, Angela too…
Thanks again for being here. It’s so humbling and happy and amazing and wonderful and incredible to see the thousands of women from all over the world who have found Brave Girls Club, and our blog……we promise we have so much in store for you in the coming months…so please come back! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for being here. We love you all so much.
SO MUCH STUFF COMING SOON….keep coming back!
Hi there!!! Whoa. Whew. How do you write the sound out that the sofa makes when you fall into it with your laptop? Kawoooosh. Ok….that was me. Here I am. Assessing the situation….I have been over-doing it. (sound familiar?) I have been sitting here having a serious conversation with myself. I thought I knew better than this by now. I want to tell you some realizations I’ve had over the last few days…..I need to re-adjust some things…
On paper, on a calendar….I knew September was going to be a crazy bear of a month, I’ve known this month was coming all year, with all of the things that I decided to cram into it, thinking I could surely pull it off. Along with all of the things that my sweet hubby had scheduled too, I knew it was going to be a tough one. I knew it was going to be exciting, and a total adventure. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. It has been..all of it….tough, exciting, an adventure. What day is it? We are ¾ through the month, right? I want to talk a little bit about the addiction that can form to being busy. Are you addicted to being busy? I’m looking in the mirror and seeing this, I’m looking all around me at friends and seeing this…..but I have a few friends who are free of this craziness, and I long for this contentment that they have with living a calm life……I want to do better.
I hope I don’t get redundant as I talk over and over again about all of the complexities of “starting over” in so many areas of life. But…ya know, it is what it is. It is where I am….and it is what’s on my mind. It is what I know right now. It is where LOTS of us are, in one way or another. It’s a crazy, uncertain time in life and our country in the world. It’s an exciting in a weird sorta way time. It’s a time of possibilities and trying new things because the old things weren’t working. I see it all over the place. It’s amazing! The opportunities are endless. It’s exhausting….don’t ya think?
We are starting over financially, we are starting whole new careers. We are starting our marriage over. All of this after being married for 20 years. All of this before I even turn 40 next year. I feel like we have lived 20 lifetimes.I bet you feel like that sometimes too. I feel profoundly grateful for what feels like a million years of history with my husband. The kind of history that would be nearly impossible to ever have with anyone else. The kind of history that you have with someone that makes you want to try harder, smile bigger, be more thankful, love all the little moments, and just be happy with what IS and not worry so much about what is to come.
I had the most amazing week last week in Minneapolis at a women’s conference for creative entrepreneurs, called The Creative Connection. I met incredible women who I will never forget. I met incredible women that I already knew and knew about, and got to know them better. I was reminded once again about all of the power that each of us have just in our teenie tiny little finger to go and out and build and create ANYTHING we could ever want to create.
I listened to the stories. They were incredible! I remembered my own stories….they are incredible too. We all have so many amazing stories, don’t we? I think I realized that I know something new now….wisdom I have earned over the last 10 or 20 years that I just really didn’t have before…..is that REALLY REALLY REALLY, we can go out and build and do ANYTHING. We can. But what I didn’t know before is that everything costs SOMETHING, and that is not a bad thing….but it’s just something that we really have to go into our life knowing. We have to know that being a mother is a tremendous sacrifice that brings tremendous joys but that you must be willing to give up SO MUCH to be able to give your children the time they deserve and need… and having a business is a huge sacrifice that could bring huge joys and that giving your art to the world is a giant sacrifice that has the potential to yield tremendous joys…….that NONE of it is without cost. Sometimes those things cost each other…the very things we love take time away from each other. THAT is what makes it a sacrifice, and THAT is what brings the joy later, or if we sacrifice the wrong things, it can bring us the greatest pain later!
Well, where am I going with any of this? I guess I have had this sort of life-changing realization this week about the cost of everything. I have realized that I only have what’s in my pocket right now, and no more….and I gotta decide where it will be spent….I’m talking about time, energy, passion, drive, emotion….and even money….I only have what I have…..just like you do. I have remembered what it takes to do everything I have done, and I am really trying to learn about what it has taken for you and everyone else to do what they have done.
I don’t want to minimize what it takes to do things, and I also don’t want to overestimate to the point of paralyzing myself in fear. It’s all just decisions. I can choose to have a magazine worthy body, and there’s no other way to do it but to spend the time it takes to get it there and keep it there….for me, that pretty much will calculate into a few hours a day, almost every day…and it will cost me the dropping of desserts and bread and pasta and and and….but if I REALLLLLY want it, I know I can do that. This will mean that I will have 2 hours less in my day for other things……if I want to have a big huge business again, it’s going to cost…..if I want a wonderful marriage, it’s going to cost……if I want a close, meaningful relationship with my kids…it’s going to cost………..it goes on and on. It’s just decisions, and each of them has a cost. I don’t want to just be addicted to being busy…I want to choose wisely where I spend my time. I want to be o.k. with having a calm life and not feel like I have to continually fill it up with things to feel like I am doing “enough” or that I am making the most of my life. I know that everything has a cost.
This is not a BAD thing, this is a very good thing. I have always been bad with numbers. I guess I never added up everything to see what the cost would be. I just put everything out there on the counter that I wanted and then I found myself scrambling for years and years and years to pay for it.
Now that I am starting over….now that I am at ground zero, now that I have lived a few lifetimes…now that I am paying attention….I know better what the cost of things can be. I know the exact cost of some things. I know that some things are not worth what they cost. I know that other things are worth anything they cost. I know that I personally can not have everything that I might have my eyes on…not all at once at least….
If you ever wanted to learn something from mistakes I have made…or pain that I have ever had…that MANY of us have had…….just learn the lesson that everything has a cost….and that a very very good, simple and beautiful way to live is to have a few things that you love…..that you love to do….that you believe in and don’t mind sacrificing for…and that you give all that you have to those things instead of spreading yourself thin and scrambling to pay for things that you really didn’t ever want as badly as you thought you did…..whether those are real tangible things, or emotional things or relationship sorts of things……..
This time around, I am going to cherish the things that I cherish, I am going to try harder to pass on the things that are too costly right now….and I am going to make time to love the things that bring joy and peace and meaning……..and stay the heck away from the things that COST me my joy, peace and meaning.
Cha-ching. That was me saving up some peace & happiness in my heart.
Lots of love to y’all.
If you’re feeling stuck…..or out of control…or controlled…….or any way that’s keeping you from who you are and who you want to be….remember….you have choices…if you want to be free of it…….be free of it……sometimes the bravest thing we can ever do is to do whatever it takes to be free……..
artwork by Camille McClelland
I would love to share this experience with you…I am just over the moon happy right now!
OK, seriously…..I feel like the luckiest girl in the whole wide world right now….surrounded by BRAVE GIRLS from all over the place….I am in Minneapolis at one of the coolest, most amazing and inspiring events I have ever seen….I was invited as a special guest, just last week…..and WOW, I am so glad that I said yes. I arrived yesterday and it was a whirlwind of everything I love…..beautiful art everywhere, amazing artists everywhere, inspiring smart and innovative entrepreneurs everywhere (AND CAN YOU BELIEVE I DID NOT EVEN TAKE ONE PHOTO? And I had a totally cute dress on!!!!)….I was just too excited….I spent so much time with the powerhouses behind this event, incredible women just like you ……click HERE to find out more…
So….if you happen to be in town….stop by here FOR SURE….if not, I’m gonna do my best to tell you what I did while I was here….it hasn’t even started yet, officially…today’s the day!!!!!….and I am really only here for a day, next I head down to Mall of America for the fabulous Scrap-Fest where I will be teaching on Friday and Saturday (YAYY!!) I will tell you more about all of that, too!!! SO much fun this week!!! Next week, I head to Las Vegas for Inspiration Unlimited, where I will be the keynote speaker…I will for sure tell you all about that too! SO MUCH FUN STUFF coming up…so many adventures!
I’m having a blast with Shea Fragoso and Debbie Murray , incredible mother/daughter team…Shea and I have been “friends” for a while online…..but meeting someone in person is always THE BEST, especially when they are EVEN MORE AMAZING in person…..we are actually rooming together, and it has been funner than fun! They are helping to put on this incredible event, as well as teaching some fabulous classes….you MUST check out their blog….A Guilded Life….
Ok, so seriously, TODAY I get to meet and hang out with some people that I look up to and follow and gather massive amounts of inspiration from…..already, yesterday, I got to spend lots of time with Jo Packham and Nancy Soriano…..I was featured in Where Women Create magazine in the last issue, so it was so fun to meet and talk to Jo….Nancy is a whiz and I had a blast chatting with her and her sister….Nancy was the editor for Country Living magazine for over a decade….what amazing women!
So that was JUST YESTERDAY! Today holds all sorts of wonderful-ness. Last night, I ran into the product development team from Demdaco, the fabulous company that I designed a line of gifts and home decor for that will be coming out next year…I get to hang out with them again today…LOVE THEM!
And Angela will be here in a few hours to spend the day with me…..one of my besties…..trying to get Margie to come down for a while too. Tomorrow we will all be together at Mall of America for more fun adventures at Archivers! Crazy week!
Angela, Me & Margie in Chicago last month…
But I have to say….the thing that is giving me goosebumps right now is that I get to meet and hang out with Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman in a few hours…….she is keynoting the luncheon and I can NOT wait to meet/talk to her!!!! She is one of the bravest girls, ever….if you’ve never read her blog or her story…you gotta….she is amazing! (just like you are!)
Tonight, even more amazing keynotes from amazing women….I PROMISE I WILL TAKE TONS OF PHOTOS TODAY!! I can not believe I didn’t take ONE photo yesterday!!!
The coolest thing is, friends…these are all just girls….just like you and I….just regular girls doing their thing……down to earth, wonderful girls with regular lives, the same dreams, hopes, concerns, issues that we all have…..we are all so much the same….you would love these women….they would love you! Wish we could all be together!! Hope you are having a spectacular day!
Like I said, I sure wish you all were here! I will post lots of photos so it is just like being here!
So much love to you!
Before I get started….I am going to tell you some good things about me. I am fun….and I am funny. I am super creative and I love to be happy. I am a fiercely loyal and protective wife and mother and I would go to the ends of the earth to make sure that my family knows what they mean to me, and that they have everything they need. I am a pretty darn good sister and I am a super fun aunt. I am friends with most of the people I grew up with, to this day….and I make as much time as I can for my friends, old and new. I can play 5 chords on the guitar…..I care deeply about other people and I try really hard to help out whenever I can….I am a REALLY HARD WORKER…I love to laugh…
Now, let’s talk about the flip-side. I am insanely unorganized. I forget things…a lot. I can’t stop eating cookie dough if it is in front of me. I don’t listen to my phone messages very often. I have 36,000 emails in my inbox that need to be organized (that is not an exaggeration, I hate throwing things away)……some of them even still need to be read. I can go 6 months without talking so someone and forget that we didn’t talk just yesterday. I AM HORRIBLE AT MOST THINGS DOMESTIC (unless they are artsy) I have no concept of time. I get into deep creative zones where I can not hear or see anything that is going on around me. I need to exercise more. I am addicted to drinks at Sonic.
This week I came blow to blow….face to face with the reality of lots of my personal limitations, my weaknesses and my frailties. I hate that….I don’t just hate it…I freakin’ hate it. I really really really really really don’t like having weaknesses, frailties and limitations. I don’t like not being able to do all of the things that I want to do, when I want to do them. But, the ingredients for a little storm all brewed together and there I was……all alone to face ’em. (again)
First…..Mr. Ross went out of town. I know I have said it a million times, if you have read my personal blog for the last 4 years…but Mr. Ross is my rock…and he is half of my brain, and he keeps me together and he keeps things rolling in our household, and he reminds me of all the places that I am strong when I am weak. But he was gone, the kind of in-the-wilderness gone when you can’t even talk on the phone. I will illustrate for you the difference between Mr. Ross and myself….and how things get done when he is here, and how things suffer when he is gone:
Mr. Ross’s closet:
And now….parts of my closet:
Then, I got the flu. And it lasted….and lasted…and lasted. And I had deadlines, and laundry….and 5 kids….and no husband.
And then, to throw in the big stuff…. a few heartbreaking situations came to the surface with great intensity….and I realized that no matter HOW HARD I TRY. No matter WHAT I DO, that in some situations, I will never ever ever be able to do things the way they need to be done. That my best will never be good enough. Combining all of the above mentioned situations……..I had to do some serious thinking how about I was gonna move forward. I had to turn back to the TRUTHS that I teach everyone at Brave Girl Camp to guide their lives by……..because all sorts of mean lies were screaming in my head about how much I just am rotten at the whole LIFE thing…..
What I know, without a doubt in my mind…is that every single one of us is born with strengths that are unique to us…things that we don’t have to try very hard to be good at, and things that we can help others with because we are so gifted in certain areas. We are also born with the ability to work really hard to get good at other things that we are not born good at….and then, we are also born with things that are big huge weaknesses….things that we will struggle with all of our lives….things that will probably always be difficult for us, and will teach us patience, perseverance and help us to know about unconditional love……because there will be so many people in life who will love us even in the weakest parts of our weaknesses.
Remember I told you about the art journal I did 2 years ago that I just found? This is the journal that started me on the road to writing the curriculum for Brave Girl Camp. One of my pages in my YES journal was saying yes to being loved exactly as I am. Let me tell you something…….I wish I was organized. I wish my mind worked in a linear, systematic way. I wish I didn’t completely overcommit to things and never factor in any time to rest, or time for stuff like the flu…I wish I was better at follow-up and follow-through and all that kinda stuff. I wish I was good with numbers. I have tried and tried and tried and tried to be good at left-brain stuff. The mercy of it all is that I am married to someone who is…and somehow, I have been surrounded by people who are…….and the people who make my heart grow SO BIG are the people who see my strengths, and let me see theirs…and then see that if we combined them, we can do amazing things together….people who NEVER ask me to change, and remind me that they don’t WANT me to change, that see my value and understand that I am always doing my very best…and when I fall short, it is not for lack of trying my bootie off.
I had a long talk with Mr. Ross when he returned from his trip. He kissed me on the head about 100 times while I talked…I loved that. He reminded me of all of the things that I am good at. I loved that too. He told me that it hasn’t bothered him for 20 years that I am a free-spirited wild-minded scatter-brained artist, and it’s not going to start bothering him now. He reminded me that exactly the right people were in my life to make up for my weaknesses…and that my strengths made up for MANY of THEIR weaknesses…….and he reminded me how much my strengths helped him every day.
He reminded me that I need to stay out of situations where there’s no way that I could ever be successful, even if I tried my hardest….because it always beats up my soul. He said after you’ve given it your very best, and it’s still beating you up every day…and it’s never going to get any better….it’s time to move on. …it’s time to go where your best is just exactly right…..where it’s seen and needed and valued and matched with someone else’s weaknesses and strengths.
I have INCREDIBLE people in my life. My daughter does all of the grocery shopping and cooking…..my husband runs a tight ship with a chore chart. Sometimes it makes me feel bad instead of thankful (my mother and mother-in-law are both perfect homemakers…gardeners, seamstresses, canners, etc. etc. etc.)………I wish I was the one who was good at that stuff…but I’m not…
I guess the most important thing I learned this week as I revisited this old issues….having to work through them again…is how important it is to protect my soul from the yucky lies that accompany that kind of brain space that you get into…..when you just focus on everything that you are NOT good at, and not anything that you’ve been gifted with. To work hard at getting better and better and better at stuff whenever you can, but really to use your strengths in the places where they are needed to the most…..and staying away from situations, people, etc. that want or need you to change into something that you can never, ever be……no matter how hard you try. Know what I mean?
I have 5 kids who all have different strengths and weaknesses. I think often about report card day….and all of the different grades that walk through the door at the end of the day. I get about the WIDEST range you could probably get…from completely intellectual, disciplined A+ students…..all the way over to just being happy for a passing grade. The conversation goes the same way, every time…….”Did you do your best? Your very very best?” Sometimes the answer is no, usually it is yes………and when the answer is yes….what more can you say? How else can you feel?
Be kind to yourself….be honest with yourself. Where are you weak, and where are you strong? Are you in places where your strengths are not seen or utilized or valued and instead stuck in a place where your weaknesses are exploited or magnified or criticized constantly? Is it the right place?
If you were born a daisy….you will never ever ever be able to be a daffodil…EVER, no matter how hard you try. You might be a rose or a lilac or a lily or an orchid. But…you are what you are…and THANK HEAVENS there are so many different kinds of us…what a boring world it would be if there was only one kind of flower. Don’t ever do yourself the unkindness of trying to be a rose when you are a daisy. Own your daisy-ness and be the best wild and crazy daisy that ever lived.
BE YOU, friend…JUST BE YOU. I am gonna work hard on it too. That’s all I can be, that’s all you can be…..we are awesome at it! We were born to be awesome at it! Let’s get to work, let’s do it…..let’s be the best at just being exactly who we are…..and surround ourselves with others who see the miracle of that.