So I Made Pickles

Perfectionism.  Silly word.  I mean, really.  Who are we kidding?  I call myself a recovering perfectionist, yet the whole idea of “perfectionism” feels false.  Impossible really.  As if anything I could ever possibly do or create or fix or rearrange would ever have even a smidgen of “perfection”? Because what we usually mean when we say “perfectionist” refers to manipulating material things, or our spaces, or perhaps trying to have the “perfect” relationship with our kids and spouses.  Otherwise known as control.  And why on earth would I ever think that being a perfect perfectionist would bring me peace joy love and happiness?  Well, I used to totally believe that.  Perhaps you might recognize this syndrome too.

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You know the drill.  Here’s one example.  Thanksgiving.  At her house, with the extended family and dear friends.   In her late 20’s, a super-driven workaholic, who dreams of creating the “perfect” Thanksgiving experience for her guests.  She can do this!  I’ll, no I mean, she’ll show them how mature gracious warm thoughtful and perfect she is!  Perfectly clean and tasteful house, eclectic decor, comfy and pretty.  Knickknacks arranged just so, not a molecule of dust on any surface (even the tops of the doors!).  Candles, pumpkins and dried corn arranged just so.  Her new expensive perfect white brocade tablecloth, Grandma’s silver and good china, lots of crystal and sparkly things.  She even taught herself calligraphy in order to make the perfect place cards.  Perfect playlist softly in the background.  Perfectly pretty, static, frozen in time.  You get the picture.

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And then there’s the 2 full days of cooking and baking herself into a sweaty frenzy.  Others have offered to bring dishes, but no, she’s gonna do it all herself.  Because she wants to show them how perfectly she can do it all.  No time to talk to anyone, to enjoy her mornings off work, to play with her husband and pets, go for a walk or watch the sunset.  All the while fooling myself, ahem, herself into believing that this slow burn of ridiculous selfless work is her way of showing her love for these people.  Oh no!  She forgot whipped cream!!  Emergency!!!  It throws her into a full-blown last-minute tizzy.  And did I mention that she’s taking no calls?  She can’t possible talk to anyone while striving to be perfect!

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At this point (let’s say an hour before the guests are due to arrive), I am, oops, make that she is nobody that anybody wants to be around.  She is not feeling or being nice, and will probably forgo a shower because she. just. doesn’t. have. time.  (Do you sense a wee bit of martyrdom in this perfectionist scenario?)  All systems are focused on the miraculous perfection that will magically reveal itself when that first guest walks through the door.  Until that moment, she’s a whirling dervish of prickly crankiness.  Maybe that’s why husband has taken the dogs out for a nice long walk…….

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Do I need to go on?  Do I need to describe how she’s delighted to welcome their guests (did she forget deodorant? Sheesh!) and yet has a nagging desire for them all to immediately turn around and leave because she’s exhausted?  Yes, please oooh and ahhh at her lovely decor, yummy perfect appetizers (hot and cold, mind you), and beautiful PERFECT tablescape.  Thank you very much, may she hand you a doggy bag already?  Can we just call it?  A free bottle of very expensive wine to the first person willing to say adios!  Of course that doesn’t happen.  She has spent all her “perfection” energy, and now just feels numb as she proceeds through the afternoon and evening.  She’s not a lot of fun.  She feels like the zombie hostess, very quiet, just going through the paces.  There is no peace joy love or happiness within her tonight.  The dishes are piling up.  Someone dropped one of Grandma’s plates.  Resentful feelings keep welling up inside her, confusing her.  She’s good with the concept of this day of gratitude, but she’s feeling lost.  And not feeling the gratitude at all, even though her loved ones are showering her with praise.  But she’s not listening.  She doesn’t feel any of that because she hasn’t yet learned to be honest with herself.  She feels like she must play a role in order to be loved by others.  Whether or not that’s true, sadly, the only person she’s not concerned about loving her is her.

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That is how I used to think.  For years.  Decades, really.  And now I realize that what I’m really recovering from is a false concept, something that never was possible to begin with.  Only in our dreams can we attain perfection.  They have none of the messy realities of full-blooded real breathing unpredictable natural life.  We can tailor our dreams to our desires.  We can control them.  And therein lies the key.  That word, control.  Why do we think we can control how others feel about us by what we do?  How do we think we can make others love us by what we do?  Having been a guest at someone’s home like the one above, I can tell you that it is uncomfortable for everyone.  You’ve probably experienced something similar.  It’s no fun to witness someone exhaustively slaving away for your benefit, while you’re pretending to have a jolly good time. It doesn’t feel like love, it feels like duty.  And everyone’s playing a role, like actors in a bad play about unrealistic expectations of what a “perfect” Thanksgiving is supposed to be.

Perfectionism is an endless treadmill.  Its high time we all step off.  And concern ourselves with falling in love with ourselves.  Because that’s who those who truly love us love.  Who we are.  Not what we do.  The real authentic genuine us.

Learn calligraphy because we just want to, not because we need to have others’ praise.  Spend our precious time getting to know our own joy, not trying to figure out how to make someone else notice us.  Figure out what’s important to our soul, and then jump in full speed ahead.  Learn to do things the way we want to do them, not the way we think we’re “supposed to” do them.  Think beyond the ways we were taught to do things, the way its “always” been done.  Or comparing our way with others’ ways.  Its our life, and no one else’s.  Shortcuts, ignored dusty corners, pre-washed salad greens, substitutions, take-out, personal time, messy drawers, time to stop and listen to those around us, and make-up free errand days are all the province of recovered perfectionists.  As are peace joy love and happiness.  I know this to be true.

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OK, here’s one little example.  But really it’s huge for me.  Because I had such a block about it.  In my new liberated post-perfectionist life, I tackle things that I’ve “always wanted to do” but was afraid to do for fear of doing them “imperfectly”.   I’m not always “successful”, yet it sure is fun making the attempt.  How many years have I wanted to make pickles?  How many cucumbers have rotted in my fridge?  How many hours have I spent researching canning veggies?  Asking brave home-canning experts about it?  And always coming back to the same conclusion:  its just too dang dangerous!  I mean is a homemade pickle worth the risk of botulism?  Killing my family?  Not for me!  If I can’t make them the “right” way, then I’m not going to make them at all.  And so I drop off yet another newly bought home canning kit to the Salvation Army…………. and then, as providence would have it, I am forced to confront this wall of shame I have constructed.  This summer a couple different friends with prolific gardens inundated us with pickling cucumbers.  I’m talking bushels.  Like a truck dumped this pile onto my kitchen table.  Yet still, I will not can.

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So I go to Pinterest and type in something like “easy pickles” and lo and behold, find a couple recipes for fresh pickles that I cobble together.  Who knew???  Not I!!  You just soak the sliced cukes in a vinegar/water/herb/spice solution, weighted down overnight in the fridge and voila!

Crispy fresh tangy dill pickles!  Easy peasy and soooo much tastier and crisper than canned.  I even store them in pretty mason jars in the fridge!  I love them.  Everyone loves them.  They have become a popular gift.  I mean I could start a business if I was so inclined.  But the point to all of it is this:  I found my own way to do something that has nagged at me for years.  It is not the “perfectionist” way that the old me would have insisted on.  And given up on.  It is relaxed and delightful.  It pleases me to no end.  The fact that others like them too is an added bonus, but not the main point.

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PICKLES

1-1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon each:  mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dill seeds

2 cups hot (tap hot) water

2 pounds pickling (small) cucumbers, sliced 1/4″ thick

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (or more, to taste)

In a mixing bowl, make brine by combining vinegar, sugar, salt, and all seeds.  Add hot water and stir until sugar dissolves.  Cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, toss together cukes, dill and garlic.  Pour brine over and turn cukes to coat them.  Weigh down with a plate or shallow bowl with a couple cans or jars on top, to keep all the cukes in the brine.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Transfer to an airtight container, store in fridge.  Will keep for 2 weeks or more.

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After all this, I haven’t banished the word PERFECT from my vocabulary.  Quite the contrary.  The -ism of it implies a judgment about the epitome of orderliness, appearance and control.  While a degree of those qualities is necessary, even desirable, for a happy life, striving-at-all-costs for the ideal of perfectionism is not.  I actually use the word PERFECT much more now, because for me it has a completely different meaning.  It describes SOUL JOY for me.  Like how making those pickles was a perfect experience for me, and they were perfect because of that.  When I hear words of love, truth and authenticity from those around me, those are perfect words.  When I see the delight bursting from a friend covered with paint and a messy work area, that is a perfect scene.  When I let go and allow my living space to be lived in and not maintained as a show place, that is my perfect home.   When I hear a child learning to read or to sing a new song, with all the repetitions and starting-overs, that is a perfect sound.

The continuum of life, the process, the journey well-traveled with eyes wide open, that is PERFECTION.

post by lisa

 

 

 

Lisa Palmer
lisaville.net

What have you learned that you can “do anyway”?

Earlier this week, we posted a simple question on our Facebook page and the  (160+) responses were SO beautiful and inspiring. Reading them was so touching that we wanted to archive them in a blog post for the rest of the world to appreciate as well. Those of you who are not on Facebook will really enjoy this. Here is the question that we posted:

What have you learned that you can do ‘anyway’? regardless of your circumstances or what others say or your past or whatever it is for you that could get in your way of living the life you want to live, or even of having the day that you want to have? If you’d like…give that some thought and finish this sentence…. “I keep __________ing anyway”. or “I am _________ anyway” or “I _________ anyway”. (For example….I keep being kind anyway. I show up anyway. I am content anyway. Include a little explanation if you’d like.) We’d love to hear from you!

And here are some of the many, many inspiring responses… If you did not post your answer on Facebook, we’d love to see more responses in the comments of this post!


“In spite of depression, I am still ALIVE anyway.” – Muriel


In a world full of bitterness, rudeness, apathy, violence…I keep being kind, compassionate & loving anyway.” -Gloria


“I keep breathing anyway…it sounds simple but my heart has been broken in shreds and Some days just breathing is s big step!” -Bethany


“Even though I was brutally raped over a year ago and never received the services and help necessary, I keep moving forward anyway to fight for my well-being and for that of the women in my community. I’m using my voice as a survivor, not a victim, to change how sexual assault is handled in my town. My family may have unravelled, but I can try to help others anyway so the same might not happen to them.” -Beth


“I was horribly dumped this year after 20 years of marriage (and basically carrying the load), but I am happy with me anyway. I keep my chin up and remain a hopeful romantic.” -Susan


“I keep searching for and finding good anyway. We don’t ignore that there is suffering, but the world needs people to magnify the good that is here too. Magnify the love.” -Rebecca


“I love myself anyway”, because my greatest challenge in life is accepting that I am worthy of love even when my performance doesn’t measure up to whatever unseen standards people set for me.” -Sarah


“I am strong anyway! Even though the odds were against a woman starting a business in a typical man’s industry… I did it anyway!” -Cassy


“Even if no one agrees with me, I keep dreaming my silly dreams and going where my heart takes me anyway.” -Jillian


“I went to a wedding this weekend, I felt fabulous and had a great time. Then last night I saw pics of myself on fb. HORROR!!! I felt sick with embarrassment and HATED how I looked. I decided that I will just NOT GO ANYWHERE until I can lose weight. I went to bed totally disgusted with myself. Then I woke up this morning and thought ‘to hell with that.’ The enemy would love nothing more than for me to snuff out my own light. SO…. I will go out into the world & SHINE MY LIGHT ANYWAY!!!!” -Misty


 “I am choosing the positive over the negative anyway. I have come to observe that people who inspire me most in life have risen, achieved and conquered by being positive.” -Theresa


“I keep getting up on that horse again anyway. I give everybody second chances anyway.” -Michelle


“I keep praying and believe in a happy ending anyways. 2014 brought clarity, confusion, joy, doubt, the loss of two people in my life, renewed friendships, lost relationships and a health scare of my own… It has been a year that has tested my will, patience, beliefs and love… And I keep getting up and putting one foot in front of the other anyways” -Holly


“I have a chronic illness and am in pain every day. I smile anyway (I am very blessed!)” -Toni


“I get up each day and negotiate the sibling fights and the why nots, the so what’s and the it’s not fairs. I keep loving ANYWAY. I do everything for four children and a great husband … And sometimes the ME gets lost — but I keep looking for her ANYWAY.” -Maggie


 “My eldest son has ADHD/ODD/SPD and it is hard. So so so hard, but I fight for him ANYWAY. Our relationship is broken but I love unconditionally ANYWAY. I am beyond exhausted (i also have a 4yo and 4 month old) but I get up to fight another day ANYWAY.” -Tara


“I will sing anyway….. Despite being told as a child and throughout my growing up years that being audible and visible was to be proud, brash and in-feminine.” -Angela


“I am hopeful, loving, steadfast and kind anyway… even after years of caregiving for my husband who eventually lost his battle (but won the war!), after parenting my teenagers without a present spouse, after hearing the naysayers tell me it can’t be done or “you are going to have to do something else” … I keep going anyway. I keep loving anyway. I keep hoping anyway. Despite the voices of naysayers in my head and in my ears telling me what I am trying to do is not just highly improbable and unlikely, but definitely impossible, I believe “I AM ENOUGH” anyway!” -Karen


“Keep showing up and doing my best anyway! I’m a mother to 6 children and I work 40 hours a week! I am often emotionally and physically drained. I am trying to come to terms with not being able to do “everything” that I want to do. I set high expectations for my self and I struggle internally each day when I don’t meet these expectations but… I get out of bed everyday and treat it as a new day and do my best anyway!” -Heidi


“I have been rejected, ignored & thought irrelevant but i am kind & loving to others anyway.” -Faith


“I keep going anyway. Despite the mind games I play with myself about not being good enough or smart enough or talented enough, I will not give up.” -Cheryl


“Even though, as a child, I was told by many different people that I was uncreative and not artistic, I became an artist anyway!” -Suz


“I thrive anyways. I am a single mother of three children. People told me I was setting my life up for failure. I beat the odds anyway. I graduated with my Masters anyways. I carry on anyways.” -Rashondra


“In spite of being betrayed by a false friend and a 13 year marriage, I hold my head up and create a new life anyway.” -Michelle


I keep believing anyway. Believing things will be ok in the end. What’s that great quote from Marigold Hotel, “everything will be alright in the end, if it is not yet alright it is not the end” And keep smiling anyway. A smile always gets me through.” -Helen


I get up and exercise anyway. Even though the scale isn’t showing any progress, I am feeling better both physically and mentally. So I keep doing it anyway!” -Angie


I open my arms to love anyway. I trust my journey anyway.” -Christa


“I choose forgiveness anyway!” -Kayte


“I CAN HAVE HOPE anyway! No matter the circumstances, no matter the trials – the good days & on the hard days… HOPE is always there & it helps me BELIEVE & continue to have FAITH! Hope can change everything!”


I paint anyways, I have my share of grievances..but I rather paint, paint so bright that I start feeling happy..colors speak and change me..I do it regardless of my situation” -Gita


“I keep believing anyway. In spite of the hurts & the issues & the challenges that no one else sees, I just keep on keeping on … knowing that I must embrace this life that I currently have in order to get to the one I want.” -Dianne


“I choose to shine anyway, even though the people I loved didn’t believe in me; I shine anyway and I believe in myself, and I have faith that God, who sees all of me, holds me in the palm of His hand.” -Paula


“I am moving forward anyway, even when I don’t know the end results, make mistakes, get messy, and others don’t agree. I embracing my life joyously, and as wholehearted as I can anyway, even when I’m in the middle of change.” -Stacey


“I keep being kind anyway…despite some terrible people out there, despite very horrific times that make me want to yell and scream and cry and stomp my feet…I keep being kind. and I always will.” -Ann


“I keep showing up and doing my best anyway. My job is very challenging for me. I don’t feel like I will ever catch up. I’ve learned that if I show up and do my best, one day at a time, it will get better. It is getting better.” -Brenda


We hope this encourages you to join the uplifting epidemic of “doing it anyway”! xoxo

2 Years of Middle Age Nightmares PART ONE…my journey of chronic hives, adrenal exhaustion and weight gain

I have been sick for a long time. But I am getting better. I can feel it. Everything has shifted. I haven’t told very many people how bad things have been…I always want to wait until things are better before I tell how bad they were.

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If you have been dealing with any of these same symptoms….I hope I can offer some information to help you. I have been researching for years trying to get this all figured out….and trying one thing after another. I haven’t wanted to write about it until I felt “stabilized” for at least a few months…..and that’s where I’m at, a steady incline for a few months now. Things have only gotten better and better, right after they got really really really bad. I didn’t know some days if I would make it through the summer.

There is a lot I want to tell you. It’s just going to take a long time….because there is just so much. I have been on SUCH a long journey with all of this, and it has not been fun….but I learned so much and also learned that so many other women are going through a lot of the same health problems and I really just want to help. It was so hard to find a way out of this…..and if this can help just ONE of you…it will be worth it to write it all out.

So….I am going to write it out over the next few weeks in a few different posts…this first one I am just going to tell you the timeline of my health decline.

Here are the basic facts.

-I was in the best “shape” of my life when I turned 40. I was wearing a size 6 and I had worked really hard for that. That was 3 years ago. I was also addicted to caffeine, did lots of crazy diets and I worked my fingers to the bone. But I generally felt pretty good…as good as you can feel when you live on caffeine and adrenaline and deadlines. I also felt SO WONDERFUL because I felt confident that my husband was finally on the other side of his brain injury, and so close to a full recovery and our life was starting to be put back together. It had been a long 7 years of taking care of him and watching our life fall apart and trying to hold everything together by myself in our family and business.

-I started getting chronic hives right before I turned 41, no doctors or healers could figure out why, or how to make them go away….they lasted for 2 years…and now I pretty much have them under control. I just turned 43 and I feel like I’ve been in a 2 year battle…a warzone with my own body.

-My adrenal system was completely drained. I was so exhausted, and that got worse and worse. I could not tolerate exercise. I was more tired than there are words to explain but I could not sleep. When I would finally START to go to sleep, I would have a huge panic attack and a surge of massive adrenaline that would make my heart beat for hours, if I did finally go to sleep, the same kind of feeling would wake me up in the middle of the night. Night time was hell.

-I had incredible anxiety…so bad that most days I couldn’t tolerate being with or talking to people outside of my own family…or dealing with life in general. Everything felt overwhelming, and even scary. I cried a lot.

-My hormones were wacked out….mostly depleted. This left me feeling crazy…grouchy and irrational. This is not so fantastic when dealing with relationships. I cried a lot.

-No matter what I did, I kept gaining weight. Currently I think I am about 40 pounds over my weight on my 40th birthday….the weight that I feel comfortable and most like me. I don’t know for sure the exact amount because right now I refuse to weigh myself…but I can feel my body balancing and starting to shed extra weight and I’m going to start exercising again and then I will maybe weigh mysef. I have a fairly public career and it has been a real exercise in self love to allow myself to show up to my job of facilitating women’s retreats and doing online videos with my body ballooning up and hives that were sometimes frightenly disfiguring. Seeing my body change from this illness has made me cry…a lot. But one thing I will tell you before I write a whole post about this subject in general is that learning to sit with myself, to love myself and to accept myself exactly as I am has been absolutely critical in my healing. Even though I am 30-40 pounds heavier than I have ever been, I have learned to love myself, protect myself and take care of myself. This has been the most incredible miracle and one that made it all worth it. I don’t know how I ever would have become who I am meant to be otherwise.

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…so, those are the facts…I will get started on the whole story….

A little more than two years ago, it started with a big uneasiness….anxiety, but deeper than that. I felt a sort of soul deep urgency and a feeling that felt like an out of tune guitar. Like my whole self was sharp, or flat…..just not in tune. I just felt uneasy…..

Then the hives started one August night. I woke up with them. My eyes were swollen shut.  These were no ordinary hives….big welts all over my scalp….that moved to my ears, my neck, my throat……then all over my face. I also had them all over my wrists and arms….and then they moved down my body. Big, itchy swollen welts that felt like bruises when they were touched.

I went to the emergency room when it felt like my throat was swelling. They put me on an IV of Benedryl. The doctor then told me that about 90% of hives cases are never solved. I figured it was something that I ate and I felt certain that they would go away and never come back. The Benedryl didn’t even touch my hives. They wanted to give me steroids and I refused. I just decided they would go away on their own….and I went home. The next morning I had to go on a very important trip…I almost didn’t go. THAT TRIP, however, sent me into the exact relationships that would sustain me through this illness. You can read about that HERE. When I wrote this post, I had no idea that I would still be sick long after it. I was sure the hives were very temporary.

Well…they stayed for a very long time….on and off for more than 2 years. (I still get them if I am not very careful about what I put in my body)  I will write a whole blog post just about the hives. The hives have been one of my greatest teachers, one of my most painful teachers….the hives taught me things I don’t think I could have learned without having lived a few years being disfigured and unrecognizable and even scary some days….having to see myself like that and dig deep for who I am on the inside. Having to show up to the public like that and hope they would see me on the inside too. I still cry when I think about the hives.

Around the same time 2 years ago, I started to get tired….and I acquired anxiety, especially in social situations. This is not a wonderful symptom for a retreat facilitator, but somehow I was able to rally enough to do Brave Girl Camps, mostly because it was in my own home, and I felt safe. Over the last few years, both the exhaustion and the anxiety about talking to others got worse and worse….until I have mostly been staying at home and not really going anywhere except when I have to travel. I have become a hermit.

I guess I just thought that my personality had changed. I know that I am an introvert, but I have always been a very outgoing and social introvert. During this time….the thought of having to talk to anyone except my very closest family and friends brought on so much fear and anxiety that it made me even sicker. I went deeper into the hole.

Then the weight….it just started creeping up. I guess staying in bed didn’t help matters much. No matter what cleanse I tried, what diet I did….even working with a trainer for a while, my weight just kept creeping up and up and up. None of my clothing fits. It’s all stretchy stuff for me. Stretchy and comfy. Lots of old self-loathing during that time. I couldn’t bear seeing myself. SO MUCH of my healing work has been around this. I finally stopped trying to fight the weight and it is just now starting to release…..but I am going to be gentle and easy and kind about it this time around…and who knows if I will ever have my old body back? I have finally let go of that requirement…the requirement I used to have to acheive before I would allow myself to love and accept myself. I have EVERY intention of getting more healthy than I have EVER been, but I have no requirement for what that weight will be, or what that size will be. It will be whatever ends up being very best for my body. No more forcing.

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Ok…THE HORMONES. Ugh. I got a lot of blood tests and saliva tests last Spring…about 6 months ago. I had gotten a lot of blood tests over those few years, but had never done a full panel of hormones and everything else. When I got my tests back…everything was SUPER LOW. Even my cholesterol was severely low! My body was completely drained. One of the things that was making me feel so terrible was how low my progesterone was, especially in comparison to my estrogen. Sticking with a regimen of progesterone cream made a HUGE difference for me on every level….and that’s when my hives started getting under control. That’s when I started to calm down, too. But that was only a small part of the battle.

I also found out from those blood and saliva tests that I was almost in complete adrenal failure. Your adrenals are the tiny little things that give you your energy and do all sorts of other things. I was stage 3 adrenal fatigue…..which means I have depleted just about every last drop of anything that my body has to give. This makes sense as it was just about the 10 year anniversary of my husband’s accident….and I had been running on adrenaline, fear, desperation and big dreams and deadlines for all of those 10 years. When I ran out of my own energy, I just drank more caffeine. I was in energy debt…I’d used up all of mine and more…….and the only way to recover from severe adrenal fatigue is to build it back up. My doctor told me it would take at least a year before I was back at a good level. A year of diligent sleeping, clean nutrition, supplements…..and ugh……emotional healing.

So…then there’s that…emotional healing…and at least one whole post is needed to write about that. I had not been to therapy, or counseling or any kind of consistent support for those 10 years. I was waiting for my husband to get better so we could heal together. In the greatest knock-the-wind-out-of-me moment of all of my life, I found out in what was supposed to be our first healing conversation together, that my husband has no memory of the most horrific things that occured while he was in full-throttle frontal lobe brain injury mode. I had saved all of it, grieved or dealt with none of it, never talked about ANY of it, and kept it all in a cooler…fresh and ready for he and I to heal over it together. Finding out that I was the only one holding those very heavy, horrific memories pretty much sent me into the darkest time of my life.

melody youre not alone sick

So…I spent the Spring and Summer in deep therapy. I have never done that. It sucked. I  felt like I was bleeding to death. My weight kept creeping up. I felt angry, resentful……FURIOUS. I have never ever let myself feel angry in all of my life. I just thought I didn’t know how to do that, or my anger organ was broken or missing. Fact is…I just got really good at repressing it. 42 years of stored up anger came out over a few months.

…AND THEN…I started to heal.

So….you see how it wasn’t just one thing? It has been nutrition, sleep, supplements…..it as been the right doctors and healers. BUT MOST OF ALL….it has been ME finally being COMPLETELY honest with myself about how I feel and what I have been through. It is me OWNING MY PART IN IT. Because I certainly am the one who made all of the decisions I made to get me to where I am now. And just like all of life, the consequences of other’s decisions are thrown in there along with things that are completely out of EVERYONE’s control……things that are just hard about life….

But I did not start to heal until I dug deep and claimed my anger…claimed my mistakes and claimed my awesomeness too. I did not start to heal until I got really really really honest.

Everything has changed for me since then. EVERYTHING. I feel like a new person. Now that I love and accept myself…all of me….even when I look like a monster from hives, or when my bum is extra wide and chubby….I love and accept myself. And when you love and accept yourself….you stop tolerating abuse. You stop tolerating abuse from yourself in the form of overworking and crappy eating and not sleeping………and you stop tolerating abuse from others.  EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.

Ok….that’s it for now.

melody ross today

I will write in detail what I have done to get healthy again….the green juicing…the supplements, the doctors. The 100% refrain from caffeine. (I NEVER thought I could EVER live without caffeine!) The therapies, the doctors…the books…the stuff that has helped.

BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO FEEL AS GOOD AS I DO. And I really really really truly thought I would never feel good again, I was certain that I was ruined. But I stayed with me. I stayed with me no matter what…….and that made all the difference.

more soon!

xoxo

melody

What happens when a group of Brave Girls comes together to make a miracle??

This summer Melody and I were surprised and oh-so-happy to hear from a group of unforgettable Brave Girls that we had the privilege and blessing of having come to Brave Girl Camp. They had a beautiful idea….they wanted to do something extraordinary and life-changing. They told us that they had had such an amazing time at Brave Girl Camp that they wanted to come together and provide a scholarship for another woman so that she could experience what they had experienced. They asked us if that would be okay (are you kidding me?!? Of course!) and if we would help them arrange things.

Well, it didn’t take much time at all for these darling women to make this happen! They named their scholarship the “Heartwood Scholarship”…a particularly meaningful name because of something unusual (and tragic) that happened during their camp:

fallen grandmother tree

“When we were at camp that beautiful tree fell down. Melody was so sad about losing her tree but we were all surprised to look inside that tree and see the heart shape….

Brave Girls Club - heart tree flower

It was such a life lesson for all us. Autumne thought that it would be great to name the scholarship something that related to this wonderful experience we had at camp that touched all of us.
When I researched the names of the different parts of the tree I discovered that the center of the tree is actually called the “Heartwood”
so we all decided that our scholarship should be called the “Heartwood Scholarship”… — Glenda Propst

The lucky, VERY suprised girl who gets to come to Camp in 2015 as a result of this scholarship is someone who is truly deserving. We are keeping her name and situation confidential to protect her privacy…but she wants to tell the angels who made this possible for her that she is SO thankful and honored…that when she received my email letting her know about the scholarship, she cried tears of happiness! Her situation has been difficult and she is still traveling a long and rocky road, so she is very much looking forward to the experience she will have at Camp…something that has been her dream for years.

We see acts of kindness and generosity and loving-ness happen wherever there are Brave Girls gathered together. It warms our hearts and reminds us that there are truly so many good people, good women, all over this world. There is so much in the world that is scary right now, but I think the world is going to be okay…I really do. I mean take a look at these amazing women!….

Brave Girls Club -- Brave Girl Camp June 2014

I think if we just look hard, if we start noticing, we can see goodness all around us. Sometimes we have to create it….sometimes we have to dig for it or search for it…sometimes we just have to open our eyes to it…but it is there.

It’s our greatest joy to see wonderful women come together through their association with Brave Girls Club to do extraordinary things.  This is one beautiful, generous, lovely example. Melody and I are sending hugs and kisses all around. THANK YOU times a million to the Heartwood Scholarship Brave Girls!!

love,

kathy

The thing about fooling yourself…..

The thing about fooling yourself…..

In a culture that worships youth….I don’t care what anyone says, it’s difficult when you start to age….when you start to get older and find yourself no longer young or young-looking and to find yourself having less and less days of young feeling. (Actually, it’s only difficult if you resist it and wish it was different than it is…from what I’m told, it rocks once you start embracing it)

After the summer’s yuck-fest of healing, WAKING UP and getting real with myself…grieving, working hard in therapy and with my doctors and finally finding some beautiful peace and clarity….I wanted to share with you a few more things I have learned. I am getting healthier by the minute….from the inside out…but this 2 year sickness left me about 30 pounds over the weight that I feel comfortable at….and only recently have I been able to start tackling that. It’s hard to have a job where you have to be visible while working through something that you wish you could hide until you are done doing it. I have often felt like my body is betraying me…and wished I could hide it under a blanket until it is the shape I want it to be. And I’m learning that things don’t bounce back as fast at 43 as they did at 25. It’s going to be a long journey for my body…….and I’m only just recently coming to terms with that…..and I’ve asked my body for forgiveness and decided to cooperate with it instead of fight with it and curse it….

be really kind to your reflection

AND……..I ‘ve made it a HUUUUUUUUUUUGE goal to stop fooling myself…to stop fooling myself about ANYTHING. (fooling yourself is absolutely exhausting, by the way) I have very little excess energy these days so I’ve decided to use that energy to just be brave enough to see what is real, to believe what is real, and to live in what is real….whatever imperfect broken beautiful thing that ends up being from day to day.

Because…….

In my mind I’ve been 25. And in my mind I am a nicely toned size 6 and it doesn’t bother me at all to wear very stylish high heeled boots. So…some days when I am deep in my fantasy…it is perplexing that my husband is not also 25 or 32….but heading on up to 50 years old. And then I feel uneasy about both of us…and it comes out in all sorts of twisted up ways. When you fool yourself everything feels so weird. (and please understand that this is not about physical looks….it’s an analogy to the whole dang thing with aging and years going by and losing years and things not turning out the way you planned)

let go of what was

I have been 25 in my mind for over 15 years. Well….maybe I have let myself get all the way up to 32 or 33. (I was 32, 10 years ago when my husband had his accident and I STOPPED everything at that age……..and held on for dear life really believing on some deep level that I could stop the clock until things were back to “normal”) While this worked well as a survival mechanism for the last 10 years…..and while I know that is exactly the craziness that it was…..I still hold on tight to SOME hope some days that things can be like they used to be in some magic trick because that seems like it would only be fair after all of the difficulty of those years. I am a Libra and I am always fighting for what is fair :)

Then I look in the mirror. And I used to be able to stand a certain way in a certain light in certain outfits and it made it easy to fool myself that I could hold on to my youth. Those days seem to be gone. The angles, the lighting and the spanx aren’t even cooperating in my fantasy. My mirror is ever coaxing me into the wise woman years…..trying to convince me that it is good to be in your mid forties. (or at least that it is inevitable) My photos look like a different woman all together…………..

melody aging copy

Oh, the mirror. That is where reality hits. In reality I am not 25. In fact, in reality, my oldest child will be 25 any day now. He and his incredible bride (who I love so dearly) have already given us a precious grandson.

brock n sabrina n leo

I am old enough to be a grandmother. I AM a grandmother…I am Mimi!  But in my mind………I am young and fit and energetic and smooth.

mimi and leo

 

….and some days I actually weep over the loss of my youth when I could be spending my heart time thinking of this precious boy. (is that lame or what?)

don't miss the important stuff

The truth is, I could not be the wild and wacky woman I am TODAY without all of the years it took to get here. I have been in a beautiful, difficult, complex, never ending love story with my beloved for almost 25 years. He is a grandfather…..a Pompie…

leo n pompie

I am the mother to 5 incredible children, 3 of whom are fantastic, contributing to the world adults. I could not be here without having lived to the age I am now.  I have started 2 successful businesses that have gone global…..the first one taught me all of the necessary lessons needed when it crashed and burned and took me along with it. I have written 15+ books and I’m working on my newest book with a major publisher that will be out this Spring. I teach classes to thousands of women every year and I can sit as a peer with the wisest of all humans……..because I have lived all of these years….I’ve won, I’ve failed, I’ve fallen, I’ve gotten back up…I’ve risked…I’ve shown up….I’ve gotten older, and older….and older……and even a little wiser.

……but yet I still try to fool myself sometimes into thinking it would be better if only I was 30 again…..

new adventures are ahead

I wish I was one of those people I have read about who ease into aging with grace and excitement and enough wisdom to know that this is a very good thing. But I have been mourning and aching and fighting it…….and, the worst part of all is that I have indulged in fooling myself into thinking that I would find the “cure” to it if I looked hard enough. I missed a whole decade, really….my 30’s, while being a caretaker to my husband and a CEO to my business and a survivor of so much dang fallout from all of that. I thought some miracle would happen that would even things out and I would get that time back when I was ready….that whole “fair” thing.

This isn’t even about looks….it’s about everything. I want those years back. It’s about hanging on so tight to what is gone and having your body turned so tight in the opposite direction at the road that’s already been traveled that there is no way you could ever see or think about what is ahead….or even what is NOW.

just show up

THAT is the thing about fooling yourself. You think you are going to get that time back, but what is really happening is that you are losing even more time by not living in TODAY. You are losing the precious TODAY. Today my grandson Leo is 5 months old and just started eating baby food. Today I just completed another amazing brave girl camp with my incredible sister as my partner. Today my daughter told me that she will give us another grandchild in 6 months. I could not have any of TODAY’s stuff if I was still 30 years old. If I keep chasing the past, I lose TODAY. And every day there is a new TODAY until 10 more years go by and if you were not going along that ride….you have lost yet another decade wishing you were still in the last decade.

The thing about fooling yourself that you can still be 25 is that you miss being 26, 27, 30, 35, 40………….42…..then 50, 60, 70………YOU MISS YOUR TURN at all of those beautiful ages.

P.S…..the coolest people I know are the older and wiser ones….seriously.

The thing about fooling yourself about ANYTHING at all is that you miss what is real……and the real stuff, with all of it’s ups and downs….the real stuff is where it’s at. It’s the ONLY place it’s at. (I’m pretty sure that’s science…….)

more beautiful days

Dear Melody,

If you want to wear yourself out, suffer a lot and waste a whole lot of time…..keep on fooling yourself and clinging tight to what was. If you want to be happy….to CHOOSE HAPPY…..get real. CLING TO TODAY….let go of the past. You are 43. You are wonderful. You are just right. PLEASE STOP MISSING OUT ON BEING 43.  (p.s. someday you will understand how young 43 really is)

xoxo,

Your 80 year old self

So whether you are 25 now and you are afraid to head into 30…and you wish you were still 18……OR….you are 50 and you wish you were 30. Or you are 18 and you wish you were 25……..or you are 70 and wish you were 50…..whatever it is….PLEASE stop missing out on your turn at being exactly the age that you are right now…because really and truly, you only get to have that turn for one year…..just one year…….

BUT THEN….you get a brand new turn to do a brand new thing…..and you get another chance to make the most of your turn at being that brand new age.

So……….I’m taking this year of being 43 as my BEST TURN EVER at being this age. I’m not gonna wish it forward and I’m not gonna wish it back.

it is your turn

I like it. I like me.

I hope you will join me in taking your turn at your beautiful perfect age. Sure feels lots better this way………..

Here’s to the wise woman years….bring it on.

xoxoxoxo

melody

p.s.

“The only good in pretending is the fun we get out of fooling ourselves that we fool somebody.” – Booth Tarkington

 

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If you have enjoyed this post, you will LOVE Melody’s new Soul School class titled, LET IT GO…LET IT BE! Learn more and register HERE.

 

Why I love Brave Girl Art School (by an Arkansas Brave Girl)….and why WE love it too!

Note from Kathy and the BG Team: We LOVE Art School!!!! We loved every single minute of helping Melody create the class. We LOVE all the amazing projects she created, and we LOVE seeing them on the walls of the Art Barn and in our office and our homes. We LOVE the wild explosion of creativity that we saw from all the girls (including our BG team) who took the class in the last session….we have literally HUNDREDS of photos of art created by Brave Girls of all ages and of all skill levels. We have LOVED seeing girls re-discover their creativity! Melody has such a fun way of teaching us her favorite techniques and how to use different tools and mediums and even things found around the house to make things that are more beautiful (and meaningful) than we ever thought we could. We discovered that WE CAN LEARN IT, and YOU CAN TOO.  Best of all, we LOVE that we get to spend this summer with YOU diving into Brave Girl Art School again!!!

Brave Girl Summer Art School begins Monday (this time combining Art School 1 and Art School: Wings into ONE ‘Fun Package’ at a discounted price…details here) and we just had to share this amazing letter we received a few days ago from D’Wana, a Brave Girl from Arkansas who shares with us how her life changed by taking Art School when it was offered 2 years ago. Art School is SO SO SOOOOOOOOO FUN…but in true Brave Girl style, these classes are also soulful and soul-filled and just might change your life, too!

Here’s D’Wana’s story…. “I cannot lay my head down to sleep without getting these words out tonight….. I just started moving into my newly constructed “Little Art Cabin in the Woods” that my sweet husband, Scotty, built for me. The magnitude of this day is not lost on me. When I was a very young girl, my father built me a “playhouse” ya know, “Little House on the Prairie” style with a loft and all. It’s one of the few “good” memories I have from my childhood. Then LIFE happens….and the little girl in me got very lost……. The journey to this day comes full circle in my soul’s restoration process as now, I have been given a gift that is more than a structure, it’s freedom to create,  heal, and bring my kindreds here to retreat.  I believe this dream was cultivated and fostered by the opportunity to be a part of the first ever BRAVE GIRL ART SCHOOL and the tribe of sisters I found along the way………

3 copy

“When I signed up for Brave Girl Art School, it was a stretch for me. I never considered myself as creative, but I had it in me to learn some new, fun things and after other BG courses, I knew I couldn’t go wrong…. 14 copy “Right from the start I was amazed at the openness of sharing of gifts and techniques. That’s what is was for me. Gifts!!!  I  doodled, played with texture mediums, learned about color, played with polymer clay, took photos with intention, art journaled,  and then the one thing that has altered my life the most……….discovered my LOVE for LEATHER and the POWER of WORDS! A skill that grew after the course ended.  It became a source of provision to help get me to Africa to love on people… I raised funds selling leather cuffs that I learned to do because of Art School. Today, I continue to create and leather cuffs and enjoy a small hobby business named “Mountain Girl Melodies”  that purposes to help people remember the truth they already know. I have also learned to create with a purpose. Intention. The awareness of what we create can breathe life and hope into someone else. That when a friend is struggling, you can give a token of truth at the right times. At divinely appointed times. That’s priceless to me. 1 copy “I can’t begin to express the INSPIRATION shared during the sessions. It was different than the sharing of hard journeys of life. It was light and free and soooooooooooo FUN to watch projects unfold and discoveries made as sisters learned what they could do and in some cases, were already doing yet SHARING their gifts as well.  My most cherished relationships have come out of that community. Never competitive. Always cheering. Always. 11 copy I discovered Annie, who held my hand virtually as I stamped my first cuff……I found Janet, who taught me everything she knew with a CRAZY openness and taught me there was room for everyone (special thanks to Jeanne Oliver, you played a role too), I found Joelle, because her artistry kept drawing me in and we collectively tried to save some magic boots.  :)  These friendships have now lead to more sweet sisters. And what a SACRED time we had when 7 of them came to be with me a couple of months ago and bless my little cabin….. The benefit of Brave Girl Art School goes on and on. Beyond technique. dwana “So thank you, Melody Ross and the Brave Girl Posse for once again, providing life and heart tools that continue to be used in my daily life. You could have chosen to keep every bit of that goodness to yourself…..but you didn’t, you do what you do. You share your gifts, and we learn to share ours.  I notice more BEAUTY in life than I did before and thanks to you, now, I know how to create a little in this world too. My LOVE for you all is GREAT……….” — D’Wana Thank you, D’Wana!

Are you in!?

Here’s what you need to know about Brave Girl Summer Art School…

 

Brave Girls Club - Summer Fun Art School Package

We’re celebrating our 5th Anniversary by combining TWO phenomenal online art classes for ONE low family* price!!

Art School SUMMER FUN PACKAGE… Art School 1 PLUS Art School 2: Wings

Options:

Summer Fun Package (new to both classes) – $149 (save $50) Summer Fun Package (repeating both classes) – $39 (save $11) Summer Fun Package(repeating one class &  new to one class) – $99 (save $25)

Click here to register today

  • With over 85 projects and 176 videos, this package has an actual value of well over $1000!
  • Classroom opens JUNE 2 and you’ll have access through NOV 5 (special pricing ends JUNE 15)
  • You’ll have full access to every module in the classroom from the first day…YOU get to pick and choose where to begin, even if it’s at the end :)
  • One tuition covers EVERY SINGLE PERSON in your HOUSEHOLD!!!
  • Perfect for ANY skill level….beginner, intermediate, or advanced…you can learn it! And it will be SO FUN!
  • In true Brave Girl style, these classes are even more than art…they include a series of online art+life experiences.

Melody will sit with you and teach you  her favorite art techniques, tools, and mediums used in her wildy-creative, unique, playful, out of the box style that is like no one else! She’ll give you so many ideas and projects it’ll make your head spin! It’s all done by video…it’s just like sitting beside her in the turquoise Art Barn for private lessons. And Kathy will join her for even more fun things to learn (sewing and stitchery and such) in the Wings session. 

This is an ENORMOUS premium-quality collection of videos and projects that took over a year to produce…all with the care and attention to detail that you’ve come to expect from Brave Girls Club.

Registration is OPEN NOW

Register HERE

Need more information?

Learn all about Art School 1 and access Supply List  HERE Learn all about Art School 2: Wings  and access Supply List HERE

Let’s create some MEMORIES this summer!

square ad with bench photo

Part 1 -PROJECT LIGHTER & LIGHTER – – – – why I’m dedicating 100 days to get lighter (and an invitation to join me if you want to!) *p.s. warning…this is super personal stuff…

Hello, beautiful brave souls. I’m finally writing this out for you…thanks for being patient. I promise you it will be worth it to read this whole thing…I know it’s long. I hope you will come back to it later if you don’t have time to read it all now. This is important. Ok…I was surprised (and felt incredibly validated) at the enormous reaction to the post I wrote about being angry (here it is if you have not seen it)…and letting myself be angry…..and showing up angry even though “nice girls don’t get angry”…..and how my dang hives are back to remind me to deal with it and my body is manifesting all sorts of things I’ve been ignoring and how I have decided to take this all very seriously and do a whole project around it all summer….take some REAL TIME……..called LIGHTER & LIGHTER…(this name came from my beautiful friend Lisa who told me that she hopes that 2014 is the year of LIGHTER for me….she was right) anyway………..I wanted to tell you that I have begun that project and it’s going beautifully and I want to invite you to join me if you would like. lighter and lighter title zoomed First of all….I need to tell you that I have been working on this for a few weeks (for myself)…..it’s been incredibly cathartic…I have dedicated a tremendous amount of time and prayer into it and it is proving to be quite a miracle for my little old soul (and even my hives, and definitely my anxiety and anger)…..and that is why I want to share it with you. I want you to be able to have this feeling too.  I teach online and live courses for a living….and our team does an incredible job and over-delivers on every front….content and customer service, all of it……what I am giving you now is in the raw…and I am only giving you an idea of something that you could try. lighter and lighter on the rock This is not like the online courses that we offer. I might make some homemade videos for you along the way (but don’t hold me to that)…. I will give you a PDF of the things I typed out to use….I took about 50 photos today to illustrate how to do it and I am sharing very vulnerable and personal pages with you so that you understand. What I am going to ask is that you understand that this is a work in progress…..that there are no rules that I am going to give you….not very many guidelines….and I won’t be able to answer your questions about what to do next beyond what I am going to share with you right now and what I will be sharing every Friday for the next 100 days (every Friday that I  can, that is) ALSO…chances are…this will end up as an online class someday….so please remember that this is how I make my living and please don’t take my content and make your own class out of it, okay? please. I would love for you to do this, to do it with friends, family….hope you will share it with your daughters and the women in your life who need some mothering and sistering…..this is good stuff. I hope you will also look into doing BRAVE GIRL ART SCHOOL  this summer (if you are not already signed up) because these two projects together would be amazing……I’m doing both of them….together. You can learn all about it HERE it is time to let go tree message Okay…so the whole premise of this project is to do things that make us feel lighter. To let go of things that are heavy, or make us feel heavy. To remember things that set us free. To release things that are not true. To smother yucky old beliefs with healing truth. To stop running and running and running and doing and doing and doing and proving and proving and proving just so that you don’t have to stop and feel what needs to be felt. To sit still and feel it…and then let it go. To have fun. To seek, notice and create beauty. To get lighter and lighter and lighter….and lighter.

For 100 days, I just want you to ask yourself

1. Does this make me feel lighter?

2. Does this make me feel heavier?

3. Will doing this make me feel lighter?

4. Will doing this make me feel heavier?

5. Do I need to let go of this heavy thing? (relationship, obligation, shame, blame, memory, grudge, debt, weight, food in your hand)

….and then do something EVERY DAY that makes you feel lighter. Even remembering something good makes you feel lighter…in my book, I am including photos to remind me of times when I felt better, when I felt confident, when I felt healthy, when I felt like I was being brave. Even REMEMBERING what we have already done, and giving ourselves some credit, is an act of making us feel lighter. So…there is remembering and doing and letting go……. I hope you will come back and see the next step here on the blog on Fridays and follow the journey daily on Instagram @bravegirlsclub and if you JOIN US…I hope you will post on Instagram to with hashtag #lighterandlighter so we can all see what we are all up to. I’m stepping away from most of social media during this 100 days but I’d still love to stay connected during this project!! And while we are on the topic of remembering better days…..I want to share this photo with you…..and what it says… this is who I am melody ross I am putting this photo in my book, along with a lot of others, to remind me who I really am. I am not these hives all over my body. I am not this extra 25 pounds I have gained. I am not this anger. I am not this grieving I feel. I am that girl up there. I want you to know THAT I KNOW THAT before I share my pages with you below. I’m going to be sharing some things with you that might cause you to feel sad for me, or be worried about me…or maybe even think that I am losing it and going crazy. In my book…I am just letting go of some things….and they are sad things….and they are difficult things. BUT I KNOW that I am going to get through it, feel better, and be on the other side of it. I KNOW that God loves me and wants to help me. I KNOW that these hives are just trying to help me. I know that I am okay. Soooo…what I would love to ask you to do is just WITNESS me releasing some of this stuff so that I can get lighter…please don’t think I am writing this so that I can transfer my pain to you…..that wouldn’t help anyone. This book is just about releasing. AND THAT is what I want for YOU too. I am okay. I am going to be okay. I am healing and I will continue to heal. P.S. this is what my body looks like when I have hives (I took this photo a few days ago)…except the hives are much bigger than this on the rest of my body and they swell my face up until I can’t even see sometimes…….THIS IS WHY I am willing to stop for 100 days and do this work….. (sorry if this grosses you out…..just wanted you to understand my big time motivation and why I’m stopping the train for 100 days) … they burn and they itch and they hurt and they want me to just get rid of the pain that’s inside my body that I ignore….they are little messengers…   melodys hivey legs So…on that note…let’s begin… All that you will need…if you want to do this…is: -a notebook or sketchbook ( I am planning on filling several over the next 100 days…I have no idea how many) -some gluesticks (I’ve already gone through 3…so you may need a lot of them) -some old books to cut up, old storybooks and novels and poetry books are amazing, so are self help books and books about things that are important to you -an Xacto knife & a cutting mat or some little sharp scissors -the PDF that I am providing for you that you can cut up as it calls to you -I used some cardstock and double sided tape to store all of the words I cut out and keep them in a way that I can see them and they won’t blow away…so you can do that too if you want to -and then…some photos of yourself… -And…some quiet time, some music you love, lots of water and some serious bravery….because this project is all about telling yourself the truth…about everything. let's be honest   I started doing this when I started feeling not so fabulous. On a Tuesday….after getting some news from someone that hurt my heart, an old thing that I didn’t want to ever hear about again….I lost it. Like……I got really really really angry. Like a person inside me got unleashed who has been trapped in there for decades with tape on her mouth….and she is SO MAD. Anyway….I got really angry and the weird new rage…it lasted for a few days….I blogged about that HERE…it was weird. I am not an angry person…….but it was time. Then….my hives came back BIG TIME…then, my energy left. Then………..I decided I needed to listen……THEN….I decided to do something drastic for 100 days…..then, all I could do was sit and cut words out of old books…words and phrases…….and I sat there for days and days and days……not even exactly sure what I would do with them……but it just felt really good to find words to explain all the mixed up ways I was feeling…….. she began cutting out words 2 cutting out words 1 settle down by the fire on cutting board   I want to see me again on black     I both find my voice and lose it on black get it back again on blackthis exercise was awesome because I didn’t have to talk to anyone…I didn’t have to try to write and figure things out…I just poured through books and cut out stuff that spoke to me….all fragmented….it felt good to take the stuff off of pages that spoke to me and throw away the rest because that is what I need to do with my life…….just pick and choose what is best, what is right for me…and let the rest go…that’s what I did….page after page of old books…. and then I decided to make it into a book… lighter and lighter on the cutting boardthis might all look really tedious and horrible to you…..but for me…this has been a great miracle. It has made me sit down and JUST BE…..be open to whatever I will find…be open to whatever will happen with what I find…be open to finding things that I didn’t even know existed….be open to putting things together that I never would have thought of putting together before…I even feel like words that were written years and years and years ago by other humans are the same words that I feel…just strung together in a different way. It makes me feel SO not alone…..and like we are all partnering together to figure things out together for ourselves. I didn’t know exactly how all of these words would go into my book…..but I started anyway…. melody ross lighter and lighter book cover so she began   One of the other things that started making me angry over the last few months was looking at old photos. I have to scour through my photos a lot for work and I see all of these photos of times when I felt good, looked good, had it good…….I see photos of things I have lost and time I have lost and things that happened that didn’t make any sense….I see photos of happy things and sad things….and all of it was making me feel so much anger. THAT is what made me see that I need to find out what this anger is all about. So….I started to just put photos into files on a page so that I can print them out and paste them into my book…and see what they have to say to me…. I remember feeling alive   and then I decided to type a bunch of stuff out that I wanted to include in the book….like…things I remember…and how I want to work toward having that again…and then, how it’s okay to have that in new ways…because some things can never go back to what they used to be…and we have to be open to things happening in brand new ways….so…here’s a photo of some of the stuff that is in the PDF I am giving you… lighter and lighter pdf photo   lighter and lighter today I am And then…I just started pasting…and pasting and pasting and pasting. And I cried a lot..and I prayed a lot. I asked for help. I asked for answers…..I asked for healing…I asked what needs to be healed…what needs attention…what feels neglected….and I searched out my words………..I did this part all from bed because I got a horrible migraine that put me down…..   tons of cut out words   lighter and lighter from my bed Then the messages started coming…..loud and clear…straight from my soul…straight from Heaven….straight from the source of all truth….just for me….and all of these words were the words I had been cutting out for days and days…not quite sure what they were for….   what happened So here’s something very personal…and I asked my husband’s permission to share it….I have been feeling awfully sad and not myself for a few months now. Something happened in March that rocked my world. 2013 was not an easy year, either…….but what happened in March got me all twisted up and turned around and ANGRY and SAD and MAD. It shattered my heart and lots of my hope.  You see……I had decided that 2014 would be THE YEAR OF US……and to me, what that meant was that Marq and I would finally heal from the last 10 years since his brain injury. I had this great fantasy that there would come a day when we would talk about all of the horrors that happened and we would bandage up each other’s wounds and then tell our story and then move forward in victory…..well…..I decided one day in March that it was a good time to start talking about things (believe it or not we have never talked about the worst times, we have just been focused on rebuilding our life) well…..I started to talk to him….and he had NO IDEA what I was talking about. He did not remember ANY of the traumatic events that I have been keeping fresh on ice for the day that we could heal from them together. I only mentioned a few of them and he was so horrified that I realized that I just won’t ever be able to talk to anyone about those things except for God. AND that my big dream of healing together is going to have to happen in a different way. I have delayed my healing for all of these years……..kept it on ice to keep it fresh when I should have let it go a LONG time ago. Anyway…..my cut-out words came out and brought that up……and I am certain this is a HUGE part of my issues…..(I know this is personal…….I am sorry for that….I have thought for all of these years that we would write a memoir about those years….but it’s not gonna happen…this book is how I am getting it on paper) I decided to focus on what I remember about what we DID do together…and what we are working toward to restore what was lost… I remember being in the wilderness the wound longs to be scrubbed clean in the wilderness 2   I cried a lot when I pasted down the next words. This is a pain that has been buried so deep. I really thought we were carrying the same stories….both of us keeping them on ice….but it was just me. There are so many things that I have not let myself really deal with or heal from or feel…things that I have not verbalized. Because I wanted to do it with him. I can not begin to tell you how much lighter I feel from just pasting down these words… he forgot where he was   and how much lighter I feel now that I have decided to let go of how I thought our healing would happen together…..leaving me open to a new way of healing that I don’t even know about yet…..right now it is through pasting down little words…all in a row…(who knew?) I really sat on this bed in the guest room and just cried…I cried a lot. It hurts a lot…..I am grieving over the loss of it all. I kept pasting down words…..I started to have a conversation with Heaven, in prayer…..asking, really asking for what I need….   what do you do with   braved fierce flames   God can see all of it remind me and then the answers came…again…. lets go back accept the offer   be healed I love you   we are going to do this work tuck you into bed   Ok…these are just SOME of my pages. Some are just too personal to share…..but I hope you get the idea. That one right up there…it’s pretty personal too. I wanted to share it because I was cleaning out the art barn and found stacks of curriculum I had written specifically for specific camps. Often, I will stay up late and write new curriculum for a group that really needs it. I found a stack of that material and could not believe how much I NEEDED IT FOR MYSELF. The photo above, I cut out the words of a guided meditation that I did at camp……helping that group of sisters to realize that they are taken care of….and to allow their 80 year old self to nurture them and teach them in the age they are now……but when I pasted the words down…it was God for me. I know I don’t talk a lot about God…but I can’t leave God out of this conversation. ALL THE WHILE of making this book….God keeps asking me to listen…..and to believe that good things are wanted and meant for me…….that I WILL HEAL. That I WILL BE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS better and stronger than ever. God also reminded me that I was born this exact girl that I still am today….and that even my little girl self was along on this journey…to not forget her in this process….. little girl melody ross   she removed the infection inside   this is who I am melody ross     old wounds…old anger…old pain….old stories…….it all gets infected, ya know? It has to be cleaned out and dealt with and mourned and talked about and smothered with truth…..so it doesn’t turn to bitterness and disease and HIVES. :) So…that’s what I am doing…….for 100 days straight and hopefully forever after. This is helping so much. I already feel lighter. It won’t take 100 days to talk about old wounds…so soon….to feel lighter, I will be doing fun things…and I HAVE been doing fun things…… lighter and lighter hello beloved planting tons of flowers…..making art (I REALLY HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME IN SUMMER ART SCHOOL!)……watching movies….working on the new BGC project that we are launching in July…..talking to friends….and even letting myself be angry in fun ways like shooting at targets and smashing things. Just RELEASING IT. It’s too heavy….way too heavy. TIME TO GET LIGHTER AND LIGHTER….. I’m also working on getting my body weight lighter but I will blog about that on another day…. And…to get LIGHTER AND LIGHTER I’m also working with a new doc who totally gets me and I’m doing a new skin care routine and I’m doing all sorts of wonderful things with Marq to make brand new memories……and we are holding our Grandson as often as possible….he makes us feel lighter and lighter and lighter…..(we have the most amazing kids ever, too, and we spend every day with them) melody and leo

 

be healed I love you   Soooooo….are you gonna join me on this journey? I hope so. I hope this is a summer of lighter and lighter and lighter for you, too. I hope you will come back and see the next step here on the blog on Fridays and follow the journey daily on Instagram @bravegirlsclub and if you JOIN US…and remember to post on Instagram to with hashtag #lighterandlighter so we can all see what we are all up to. Like I said…I’m stepping away from most of social media during this 100 days but I’d to see how YOU are doing this project!! (remember there’s no rules and I’m not around to answer questions about HOW to do it…you just get to decide the very best way for YOU to do it…and I will be sharing my very best way for ME to do it) I love you all so much!!! Let’s get lighter and lighter… xoxo melody

P.S. Here’s the PDF for you … I LOVE YOU!   lighter and lighter daily to do

Engaged to Mr. Wrong…from The Brave Girl Post

Truth is patient and kind, but ever so persistent…this story by an anonymous Brave Girl (who chose to remain anonymous to protect tender feelings of those she loves) illustrates that power…in her words:

“We never did anything spectacular, we just loved being together.  He was caring and thoughtful and treated me well.  He was also ridiculously funny.  We took care of each other.  He brought me flowers and slow danced with me in the kitchen.  I made him dinner I knew he’d love and we did the dishes together.  You couldn’t have crafted a better love story if you tried.

But in my heart something felt wrong.

When you were a kid, did you ever try walking outside while looking up?  It’s sort of disorienting and you feel like your mind is spinning around and at the same time you get sick to your stomach.  That’s what it felt like.  What the feeling said very clearly to my mind was, “this person is not for you and you are not for him”.  Click here to read more.

This is an excerpt from our sister site, The Brave Girl Post, a place to share our stories.  We hope you’ll look around and we hope you’ll start to share pieces of your own beautiful story!

Brave Girls Club - Listen to your gut

BRAVE GIRL ART SCHOOL IS BACK FOR THE SUMMER!!

Get ready, friends…because I am going to be bugging the heck out of you for the next few weeks to make sure you check out this amazing deal we are offering to you, our beloveds, for summertime fun for you and your family…..

square ad with bench photo

We said we wouldn’t do it again….because our Art School courses are so incredibly full of content that once we were done, we planned to break them down into separate individual courses …but now it’s summertime!! And it is almost our 5 year Brave Girl Anniversary……….and so we wanted to do something really special and offer BOTH  Brave Girl Art School courses as a complete package one more time before we launch our big surprise later this summer.

Brave Girls Club - Summer Fun Art School Package

 

Drum roll please!……Introducing the Art School Summer Fun Package!!!  It’s Art School 1 PLUS Art School 2: Wings…in one package at a discounted price. We wanted to offer you the Brave Girl deal of a lifetime….and we are SO excited! We want you all to be able to have a wonderful summer of art making…so we are even allowing one login to be used by every member in your household….a summer of family fun making art!!

I will share some photos of some of the cool stuff we will learn to make and at the end I will tell you all about our SUMMER FUN PACKAGE!!

 

I make art melody ross

Flowers, flowers, flowers galore………you are gonna learn how to paint them, draw them, sculpt them, collage them, doodle them…….with all sorts of textures and styles….and that is just the first lesson!

yellow rose

textured fowers

Have you been wanting to learn how to tool leather to make awesome leather cuffs or other leather masterpieces? Well…I will be teaching you how in this course!

showing up to my life

You’ll learn so many different designs…how to doodle and paint them…

doodle edges

We will even teach you cool ways to embroider….like I did on these pants…my favorite brave girl pants to go with my brave girl boots….

brave girl pants

We will be making so many collages…and I will show you many many many different things to create……whole scenes…trees, houses, flowers, clouds…………

girl hugging tree

Did I mention all of the different flowers?? And backgrounds?? And texture techniques?????

funky flower vase photos

flower textures 2

flower textures

One of my favorite things is to make art with words on it…so we will have many projects to put words on your walls, your jewelry…….anything and everything!!

melody painting

Now now now…don’t tell me that you are not an artist and that you could never do artistic things…because YOU CAN LEARN THIS and if your heart is yearning to do it…this is a great place to start….we will start at the beginning and move right through…….YOU CAN!! Do it with your kids!!!

YOU CAN LEARN IT

beautiful things for beautiful souls

just be you

turquoise braids by melody ross

collaged

birds collage

the trail

textures

collaged flowers

clay bird necklace

you are a beautiful soul sign

cover of life restoration book copy

make soulful art

We REALLY want you to join us…will you check out this information page that will tell you all about it???? CLICK HERE and we will take you through the whole thing……..we are giving you this gift to thank you for being with us the last 5 years, and because we want you to join us on our upcoming art adventures and because we KNOW this will add so much fun and meaning to your summer.AND…..it will never ever ever ever be offered at this price again….this is over a $1000 value for only $149!

(The class begins June 2, but registration is open right now! Click here for everything you need to know in a nutshell.)

In these videos, Melody tells you exactly what you’ll be learning and doing in Art School Session 1

IThis video is all about Art School 2: Wings. Enjoy!!

Will you come make art with me? Making art is exactly what I will be doing all summer…and I hope you will join me!

xoxo

melody

 

Brave Girls Club - Summer Art School Fun Package