My Truths

I am almost 42 years old, in the middle chapter of my life. Large volumes of experiences are now behind me and large volumes are yet to come, if I am lucky.

I have been married for 18 years and started my marriage when I was a baby. I didn’t know anything when I started down the path of marriage with my young husband.

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I have birthed two kids and raised them to where they are now, ages seven and nine.

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I have dog I love as much as a person can love a dog and I have lost a dog that I also love although she has been gone for 5 years now.

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Over the course of time, and these great many life experiences, I have learned a few things. I’m a work in progress and still have so much to figure out but here are the things I do know:

Life is highs and lows

As I get older and the passage of time becomes more evident and real, the more I experience these immense highs and crashing lows. I find myself wanting to take a mental snap shot of experiences I know I will never have again so I can preserve the high. At the same time, I almost fear these elevated moments because I know they will be accompanied by extreme plummeting lows. This is life. You cannot experience high without also experiencing low. It is part of our human journey and it is important to accept and embrace both of these emotions.

It’s ok not to know

In my younger years, I would spend so much time trying to figure life out, to nail down my spiritually, to have a concrete belief system. I wanted it all to make sense. At some point though, I made the choice to accept that I wasn’t going to have the answers and that was fine. Embracing the unknown is calming.  Spinning your wheels trying to figure out the answers to all of life’s big questions can lead to an ultimate drain. It really is acceptable not have it all figured out. 

Be present

Living in the past, especially the bad bits, gets you nowhere. You will never be able to change the past, good or bad. The choices you make form you and you can never know what a different choice may have brought you in life. You learn from your choices because they form you so accept, embrace, and move on. Start fresh and grab each new day, learn something each day, and accept each day as it comes. It is all fleeting and each experience is meaningful and powerful in some way. Just be.

Relationships are hard

Marriage is hard and loads of work. The relationship with your children is difficult. Friendships aren’t easy either. It’s all work, nurturing, attention and time. It is so worth it, though. You can never expect your relationship not to take work, not to cause thoughtfulness, not to come with highs and lows, or to be on cruise-control. I have mentally divorced and re-marred my husband at least a hundred times over the course of our 18 year marriage. I have fallen in and out of and back in love with him at least that many times. All things worthwhile take effort. All things worthwhile change and grow over time. I have to apologize more than I ever thought possible to my spouse and my kids. They have to be forgiving and accepting of my flaws, and I have to be of theirs. They get the best of me and the worst of me because I love them the most. I frequently have to tell my friends that even if I fail them, I still love them with all my heart and I have to know the same is true on their side of our friendship. Relationships are a constant dance and somedays you have no rhythm and other days you are beautifully choreographed.

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You make your own happiness

Your happiness is all about your attitude and how you process the information of your life. You can learn from any experience, even the challenging ones. There is always knowledge to be gained. You make it or break it by how you process and categorize information within your own mind.  You MUST look up TedTalks about positive and negative self-talk. You won’t regret it, there is such amazing information out there on this topic. You can literally change everything by the way you think. Your happiness largely relies on you.

Give

Never, ever, ever be afraid to be giving. Generosity is so basic, so important and so empowering. Give of your time, your wealth, your heart, your kindness and your thoughts. Just give. We are all in the human experience together and we are community. Nourish your people. I have never regretted giving to the people I love.

That’s what I have in my library of knowledge at this moment. I’m sure as time passes, I will learn more and add to my list.  I can’t see anything on this list fading away. These are my truths. I hope the things I have learned in my life help you to think about the things you have learned in your life. Your lessons might be completely different than mine, and that is great.  I urge you spend a few minutes today thinking about your truths. This exercise made my mind work, brought my memories forward, and delivered much needed introspection to my busy life.

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2017 Year-End Review, Resolution Style

I completely and utterly adore goals. 

It’s possible I actually might have a goal and resolution addiction. A good deal of time and energy is spent thinking about and working on my goals.  It might be annoying to the people around me; you can ask my husband for his thoughts on the matter.  Nevertheless, I like to spend some time reflecting on my New Year’s resolutions this time of the year.  Shall we do this together this year?  I thought you would share my enthusiasm.  So let’s do this.  First, here is my list of resolutions for 2017. 

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1)      Less coffee

2)      Savings jar

3)      Drink less

4)      Fitness – run, etc.

5)      Use less plastic

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First, I will explore my love of coffee and this goal.  My long-term love affair with coffee dates back some 25 years.  It has been with me through thick and thin, in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health.  We will continue this love affair until death parts us.  This goal was not intended to compromise my relationship with my love, coffee, but rather to save money.  The objective was really to stop going out to coffee every single day.  I rocked it!  For a few months anyway, then it did eventually creep back in to my daily habit.  However, on the positive side, I did switch to a less expensive drink, exclusively buy local, more often than not I use a for-here cup, and I don’t go every single day of the week anymore.  In summary, a win.  Boom, resolution number one, check!  Good work me!

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Second, start a savings jar to save money for trips.  If you know me, you know I have the travel bug something severe.  Every moment of my life would be spent traveling if money were no object and my kids didn’t need to go to school.  Staying in one place for too long is not my strong suit, in fact my kids have called me a hyper-active chipmunk.  I am always on the move.  I did indeed start my savings jar and at first I put in the money I saved from my coffee habit into said savings jar.  Then it progressed to taking a second job and putting all my earnings in the jar.  Then my kids and I started cashing in cans for deposit money and stashing that in the jar.  Our savings techniques grew from there, we sold things, we cut out things we weren’t using, we found coins on the ground, you name it, we did it.  In November, I did decide to crack into the savings jar and use some of my jar money to fund my trip to Valencia Spain to see the Moto GP World Championship.   My savings jar covered the entire trip and I still had a little left after the trip.  In summary, huge win. Boom, goal two rocked!  Great work me!

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Third, I resolved to drink less alcohol not because I suspected a drinking problem, just because I wanted to lose weight and this is such an easy way to cut out calories.  My plan was easy – no drinking at home and only drinking one time per month for special occasions.  Side note, vacations were free and there were no restrictions since it was one big special occasion.  In summary, I did it and I did lose weight.  I also learned that I feel better and am still fun even when I don’t drink.  One added bonus from this resolution was that it tied into my savings goals. Win, win and win!

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Fourth, as usual I had a goal related to fitness.  I am a fitness fanatic.  My brain works very fast and exercise helps me calm my racing mind.  I could write a hundred pieces on me and my relationship with food and exercise but, lucky for you, I won’t.  I will just say this, I aspired to get back to my previous years records with regard to running and this did not happen in 2017.  My life of running is probably over now.  It was therapeutic to close this door and say goodbye to a workout that can be punishing and harsh on the body.  This year I was very mindful about doing what felt good to my body and my soul.  I spent more time walking and hiking, which I love.  I continued my love of Barre 3 here in Bend, they are my people and the workout is ever-changing and ever-challenging.   Barre 3 feels  good to me inside and out. I would summarize this resolution as a success since I grew, learned and changed.  With each passing year I feel more accepting of my body and I know this is healthy. So, win!

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Finally, I aspired to use less plastic.  After much focus and energy I realized this is a super difficult goal.  Everything uses plastic.  It is literally everywhere.  I had some small wins in that I never used a plastic bags to pack my kids lunches this entire year – YAY!  I did do tons of canning – win! I never, ever, ever use plastic bags for produce or for groceries.  My kids learned to ask wait staff not to include straws when we dine out.  I had small wins and a lot of mindful conversations and thoughts in our family around waste and being good stewards.  But, I had a million loses.  I tried to make my own granola bars to save on packaging – bigtime fail since no one would eat them.  I attempted to make my own chocolate nut butter to save a plastic jar and to be healthier – this was just a partial fail since they did eat it but it increased the complaining by a thousand percent at our house.   At the end of 2017, I have to sum this one up as a work in progress.  I will continue working on this and thinking about it in hopes that one day we can call it a win. 

Excitedly I look towards my goals for this upcoming year.  I am already doing a lot of pondering in this arena.  I can’t wait to get started on my new ambitions for 2018.  I fondly look back at 2017 because it was an amazing year for my family.  It was so full of joy and happiness.  As with any year, there were serious moments of despair when looking at the big picture in our country and the world.  I won’t focus on that.  Focus on my people, my community and the good, I most definitely will. 

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Kids and Stuff

I am feeling very committed to giving my kids a cultural experience versus things in these tumultuous times.

As an American parent, we can feel bombarded with consumerism -- you must buy, consume, carry-on this capitalist ideal. Well, what if we don’t? What if we don’t buy a bunch of things we don’t need? What if we have meaningful experiences with our family and children instead? It is my theory, reinforced by my lifestyle, that a family will not miss the things, in fact, most people are happier without more stuff and with rich experiences.

This past summer we went to Europe with our two kids. We visited three countries and spent our son’s birthday overseas. We didn’t bring gifts for his birthday but explained to him that he was getting this amazing experience instead. And guess what?! There was never a complaint or even a musing about not getting stuff that day to mark his ninth birthday. We got to go to the village of Tavullia in the Italian region Marche, the hometown of his MotoGP hero, Valentino Rossi. We were fortunate enough to be there on a MotoGP race weekend and to watch the race amongst the Italian people.  It was a loud, raucous, memorable race day spent with local fans. Later that day we visited Castle Gradara where he saw a real dungeon. Now if you know most nine-year-old boys, you know it was a huge event to stand in a real dungeon and pretend to lock his little sister up in the restraints. He remembers these things about his birthday. If you were to ask him what he got last Christmas, I doubt he could recall it, but if you ask him about where Valentino Rossi lives or about being in a dungeon, I bet he could tell you every detail of our adventure that day.

Each of my kids got to pick something they wanted to see on this trip and my daughter chose castles. And castles we did see. Not just one castle either, we saw so many castles.  The big one though was Neuschwanstein, the fairytale castle of King Ludwig II.  This is the castle that one of the famous theme park castles was based upon and let me just say, it is a more enriching experience being at the real castle than at the theme park castle.  Neuschwanstein’s walls are filled with history and art and, even to a seven-year-old, it is awe inspiring. When my children look back on their childhood, and their family memories, I do believe our trip to Europe will be there, vivid and real. 

You don’t have to spend fortune to have these cool adventures. There are times in our lives where the budget is tight and we can’t jet off somewhere so culturally different. We have had adventures minutes from our home. One year we did a staycation for spring break and it cost almost nothing. We went on a local brewery tour, visited local geological sites, and went to state parks which, in every region, can be rich with culture and history. It’s worthwhile to spend time seeking out local adventures as well as adventures in far off lands. Most of all, it is worthwhile to make memories with your family. When we take an inventory of our lives, these experiences are really priceless and more meaningful than most any procession you can acquire. 

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Travel with your people, people.

I love the idea of traveling with people outside of your usual “people” - instead of exploring with your family, partner, whatever, go with someone new.

Give yourself a chance to learn, experience novelty, the wonder of newness and the unexpected. I have had a handful of these experiences in my life, not as many as I would like, but we have to work with the schedule and money we have and just take what we can get. My favorite of these experiences happens when traveling with my mom-friends. I went with a group of these girls this past weekend and none of us had ever gone anywhere together before, aside from walks, coffee, pick-up and drop-off at our children’s school. We just spontaneously (10 months prior to our travel date) decided - let’s do this. Let’s leave the cold, kids and hubs at home and hit the road together. Warmth was the only real criteria, so we decided on the Coachella Valley as our destination. Finally we all boarded a plane in the wee (COLD) hours of the morning and off we went with too many shoes and outfit changes for our long weekend away together. What struck me and always strikes me when I get together with my mom friends is how we all easily flow together - we are all so used to caring for others that we just click into an orderly, calm, easy rhythm together. On this trip we were in a condo with a few rooms, a kitchen and a few bathrooms. We ate with ease, showered with ease, it all just clicked together - no worries, no drama. It’s refreshing as a caretaker to have such an easy experience with other people. Our whole existence is juggling, instructing, planning, deciding, dictating, and nurturing - when you have this shared responsibility and purpose when you leave there is just ease. I can’t say we did anything all that momentous over our days together (okay, there was one epic night of fine food and drink) but it was momentously impactful. It was a recharge, reboot, therapy session and more. In addition to our shared experiences as mothers and wives, we have the shared experiences of being women exiting a particular chapter of life and entering another. We have been through marriage, pregnancies, and babies and we have made it to the other side of that which seems like surviving a war and a tremendous blessing all at once. Our kids are in school, somehow in spite of all the odds our marriages have survived (mostly) and though our individual paths and histories have been so vastly different we are still women and we are still experiencing this closure of one phase and the birth of another phase. I find comfort in the similarities and intrigue in the differences. I think every woman, mom, and wife owes it to themselves to do this. It is important and empowering. And, most of all, it is really, really fun. Not to mention, it is refreshing to arrive home missing your partner and children. Absence really does make the heart fonder - there’s a reason this cliché exists – it’s actually true. 

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Get out there and travel.

Live in a big way.

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Inspiration via Film: The Tenth Step

The Tenth Step Directed by Gerry Moffatt and produced by Pia Saengswang Moffatt

This weekend my family went to The Tenth Step, a documentary featured at the Bend Film Festival in our lovely home town of Bend, Oregon. I first proposed this movie to the family because it looked like an epic adventure across the Himalaya done via motorcycle, perfect! And it was this, an epic adventure, but so much more than just a motorcycle trip. It was this completely inspiring spiritual journey filled with breathtaking scenery, captivating writing, and a story of growth, change and life. I left the film feeling so inspired.

The film follows Gerry Moffatt on his motorcycle trip taken to celebrate his 50th birthday. First off let me say I completely love the idea of celebrating a milestone in life by doing, experiencing, living. This is perfection to me.  I always say in my life that we need to make memories and not collect shit. When we scan back over our lives the things we experience, the connections we make and the people we love are actually what mean something. At any rate, in the process of this adventurous milestone the story reflects on his previous adventures including his career in white water raft guiding,  his journey into and out of addiction and fast forwards to his present in service in the areas of the world which impacted him so greatly and inspired him in his journey. 

You simply must watch this film. You will leave feeling inspired to impact the world in a positive way, you will relate to the struggles, and you will spend time in thoughtful contemplation.  At minimum, you might want to plan an adventure.

Check out the film trailer here:  www.thunderdragonfund.org

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