(source : WhiteCellarDoor on Etsy...and yes, I'll be ordering the print)
Before Dan & I left for Florida in mid-December, I signed up for Susannah Conway's Find Your Word e-course. I knew that it was unlikely that I'd actively participate...one, b/c I am a bit of an e-course dropout, and two, b/c FLORIDA. So. I read each email, glanced at the posts in the FB group, and generally just tried to stay open to finding a word. I read through a few archives of OLW posts on my own blog, and on Ali's. At one point, I thought that my word *might* be miracles, but it just didn't feel exactly right. And then, the Universe kind of whispered...
Okay, listen. I was in Florida, but I was NOT at the Magic Kingdom, nor was I picking out a wand at Harry Potter world (or whatever that is called). I tried to brush it off. It's NOT a Katrina word. It's so unicorns & fairy dust. I wanted a word that had more substance. Something that I could gauge progress against, set goals around. Oh, and did I mention that a hugely-more-popular-than-me blogger had magic as her OLW a few years ago? I didn't want a me-too word. Sigh. I decided to just wait & see if magic faded, and/or another word appeared...
As the Universe would have it, magic has kept coming up...so I'm just going with it. I'm getting comfortable with it. I've started a Pinterest board for it. I'm starting to think of ways that I can embrace it. I still feel a little silly saying it, but maybe that's part of the magic?
What's your One Little Word® for 2015?
I extended my weekend by a day, planning to take a little time to simply exhale. The start of the school year is busy, even in the older grades, and this year's last firsts added to energy. My day quickly became filled with projects, and I had to remind myself to breathe. I headed to a late afternoon acupuncture appointment, constructing yet another list in my head of things that must be done. As I settled in, Julie (my acupuncturist) took my pulse & asked me how I was doing. I detailed the middle-of-the-night back pain that has spiked over the past few days, and explained that I just feel like there's a lot going on. She laughed quietly and said "Yep, you've got some pretty mad Qi."
When I texted that quote to my brother later (b/c that's precisely the sort of thing that I know will make him laugh), I explained that in this case, "mad" is not good (it's not as if Julie said "Girl! You've got mad Qi!"). By the end of the treatment, my Qi had apparently settled down, but was still a bit on edge.
I have this feeling that "mad Qi" may be a theme for September.
I happened across the Big Goals PDF that I created last October. As I scanned the "one year" list of personal, health, work, and home goals, I realized that I've only checked off ONE thing. There's still a possibility that I'll accomplish one or two more by the end of this month....but "date a successful, incredibly handsome guy" seems like a stretch, and "lose an additional 15lbs" would take some unhealthy effort.
September is a month of re-evaluating (it's the new January, y'know), resetting expectations, and rethinking what life is going to look like over the coming 6 months. I'm disappointed that I haven't made more progress, and discouraged that Forward feels a lot like stuck.
So, my singular goal for September is really to pay attention to that mad Qi, and find ways to clear space, to calm, and to center.
P.S. Let me save you the google search - in Chinese medicine, Qi (chi) is your life force/energy.
My great-Aunt Betty uses "magic & miracles" as her signature line, so the combo always reminds me of her.
There's a Buddhist proverb that says "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." I'm confident that's how Gabby's first books came into my life. I picked up Add More -ing several years ago when I was just getting "into" meditation & yoga. I read Spirit Junkie immediately after, and then anxiously awaited the publication of May Cause Miracles.
Gabby is a student & teacher of A Course in Miracles. I've tried to read ACIM, and currently have the workbook & manual sitting on my bedside table. To be honest, I struggle with the SundaySchool-esque language in the Course. Even so, I very much believe in the teachings of love & forgiveness, and often feel like i'm just starting to understand the concept of the ego as fear. Gabby is often hailed as a spiritual teacher for the younger generation. She's in her early 30's (I think)...so a full decade behind me. She often refers to one of HER spiritual teachers - Marianne Williamson - who, at 61, is almost two decades ahead of me. I find myself reaching to both of them as I figure out what that middle ground looks like.
I have Gabby and Marianne's latest books on my meditation altar, and read snippets of each of them daily. They offer guidance, but what I like most is that they encourage practice. One of the #MiracleMessages in Miracles Now that I turned to this week...
#59: Honor your Commitments. Show up for yourself and the world.
This message got me thinking about the tendency that I have to show up for everyone else - but shortchange myself. Whether it's time & space to just be, or marking things off of MY to-do list to create time & space - I'm often near the bottom of the list. Changing that means believing that I am worth the effort - even when it's "only" my effort. Gabby makes the teachings of ACIM accessible and relate-able - which is precisely the reason that I consider her to be one of my spiritual teachers.
Marianne's book, A Year of Miracles, offers short daily reads. I started out following the numbered days, but got frustrated when I'd miss a day (due to travel or whatever) and then got all spun about what day I was on, and what day I was "supposed" to be on. (yes, I overthink...that shouldn't surprise you) So, now I just flip to a random page, and read...and it usuallys turns out that the passage isn't random at all, but is instead EXACTLY what I needed to hear/read at that moment. Marianne's teachings remind me that there is only love, and which is pretty life changing.
Both women teach from one of the basic truths of ACIM - "A miracle is a *shift in perception from fear to love." I don't know about you, but I could use a few more miracles in my life. Thanks, Gabby & Marianne, for helping to show me the path...
*I don't think that it's a coincidence that my 2012 OLW shows up in this work. The Universe is tricky like that.
We all know that it's the most untrue rhyme EVER - sticks & stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Substitute "words" for "names," and the adage fails even more. Words are powerful. I know this. I choose a One Little Word to guide me every year. Words define my Core Desired Feelings. I've been known to write epic emails and pithy texts. I send a birthday email to a dear friend every year - a numbered list that corresponds with his age that contains painstakingly chosen words. I grew up with an Uncle who lovingly (and teasingly) called me "Worth Even Less"...words that stung even though I knew that they came from an innocent place. My first marriage was full of hateful words, followed by apologetic lies. I was skilled with words as a speech & debate competitor. I now fill my life with words...adding them to photos & projects, hanging them on the walls, weaving freelance passions around them.
The end of this week was punctuated by hurtful words. A co-worker described me as "an emotional wreck who cries & yells"....I have been turning those words over in my mind, asking myself if they are true, and finding some comfort in knowing....to my core...that they are not. Was there a time that they may have rung true? Yes...but that time is in the past. Another statement (from someone else) stripped my self-worth in the span of a brief text.
In response to the hurt, the universe practically shouted at me - nothing's gonna hurt you the way that words do when they settle 'neath your skin. I woke up thinking of that song, and have listened to it on repeat all day. Let your words be anything but empty. Why don't you tell them the truth?
I just wanna see ME be brave.
I've reached a point where I am behind on more things than not. No complaints, no pity party....just a fact that I'm trying to get my hands around. For the last few days, I get a glimmer of inspiration & motivation at about 2:00 in the afternoon. Y'know, when I'm at work, and buried in work stuff. I devise grand plans of what I'm going to accomplish after dinner, and then? The internet happens. And before I know it, it's 10pm, and it's time for me to go to bed and check Instagram/Pinterest/Facebookonelasttime on my phone...and then sleep. So. An accounting of what I'm thinking about working on, and planning to get back to....
Project Life. I haven't fallen in love with it yet this year. It will happen. I'm still grappling (isn't that a great dramatic word?) with the implications of a smaller size & monthly focus. And by "grappling," I mean deciding that I'm probably going to return to weekly spreads, but stay with the smaller format. Weighty decisions. Clearly.
One Little Word. It's present. It's good. As I've mentioned, FORWARD is serving as more of a foundation this year. Even baby steps move me forward.
52 Lists. Still love the concept, and still love the prompts. Just need to put fingers to keyboard. This might be an in-flight project on Monday as I fly west again.
Reading. Does reading count as a project? I've got several books that I'm really anxious to get started on - just need to schedule in some time. REALLY looking forward to spring days that invite reading outside (I'm giving Winter Storm Vulcan the stink eye).
The Kitchn Cooking Cure. Angie emailed yesterday asking if we (the girls) wanted to play along (rewinding to the beginning) - and of course, I said yes. Because this project list isn't long enough yet. Also, because I like cooking. Also, food.
Photo books. In the grand plan to declutter & downsize, I'm going to put together photo books of things like kids artwork in an effort to reduce the actual paper that is stuffed into corners of my office.
Barb & Kat's Excellent Adventures Smash Book. There's another excellent adventure being planned (NOLA!), so I need/want to get the last few documented smash-book style. Are Smash Books still a thing? I have no idea....
The Desire Map. Did you see that Danielle Laporte made her digi subscription FREE? Yup. Get #desiremap right here. I'm still working with Freedom, Ease, Lightness & Strength.
And...that's a wrap (at least for now). I regret to inform you that cleaning my house didn't make the project list. What are you working on?
At the end of Jan/beginning of Feb, I was searching for a fresh start. I was anxious to move forward, and I knew that a new fitness/wellness plan would be a part of that. A consistent theme through my pain management journey has been the need to build strength. I had heard about barre classes a few years ago, and had always been more than a wee bit curious. Let's face it - the girl that grew up watching FAME, remembers Flashdance, and was a member of the JV gymnastics team in high school....and then became a dance mom for years....that girl was destined to try barre at some point.
I signed up for a month unlimited pass at All Wellness in Burlington. Then, b/c I am exceedingly practical, I calculated how many barre sculpt classes I'd need to attend to really "get my money's worth." I have an absolutely free gym pass from my employer, so to plunk down money for fitness is a very big deal.
After my first class, I felt old, fat, awkward, inflexible, and out of place. I cried on the drive home. BUT. I also felt kind of awesome. The endorphin rush prompted me to sign up for the next 4 classes. They happened to be scheduled four days in a row. I decided that what didn't kill me would (potentially) literally make me stronger...and so I just went for it.
Oh, friends. This is the part where I get all teary-eyed. This is the part where shit gets all life-changing. This is the part where I tell you about an AMAZING instructor, and equally AMAZING classmates. First, the classmates. By & large, they're young enough to be Hope....and that? That makes me smile. It allows me to spend a few hours a week with awesome energy that reminds me of my baby girl. They smile at me, and say hello. They don't judge that I'm old enough to be their mom. They just unroll their yoga mat next to me and get to work. I don't think that those girls - with their lululemon tights & free spirits - I don't think that they realize how much light they brought to my life in the darkness of February. I am so grateful for those girls.
Second, I have to tell you about the instructor. Hermine. She. Is. My. Hero. She cheered me on during every single class. No matter how hard things got, or how much pain I was in, the sound of her voice saying "beautiful, Katrina!" gave me the sheer courage to keep going. She made me feel special and seen. She made me laugh with her stories of Lifetime movies, and the way that she starts talking about Adam Levine to distract us from the crazy hard isometric movements that we're doing. She makes the phrase "tuck on the tuck" actually seem sensible and do-able. I am not exaggerating when I say that she saved me. She helped me to believe that I could feel strong again. I am not where I want to be yet...but I am so much farther then the day that I started.
I would guesstimate that I have cried after more than 50% of the classes. They are HARD. I won't be going to barre for the next several days b/c I'm headed out to CA tomorrow for a tradeshow. It will be the first stretch of class that I've missed in month (and since I've been going 5x per week, that's significant). I will miss it....and I'll look forward to getting back to it.
In May 2008, my friend May Flaum sent me a box o' product to play with from Fiskars and Fiskars Brands (back then, it was Heidi Grace, Cloud 9 Designs, and Lil Davis Designs). A month later, she gave me a little heads up that Stephenie Hamen might be contacting me about a design team position. On July 1, 2008, I officially joined the team.
Today, I submitted my final assignments to Stephenie. It has been a crazy creative journey, filled with hundreds of assignments, countless punches, and many, many late night photo sessions. It's the end of an orange-handled era. I'm so grateful for the experience, for the opportunity to work with such an amazing company, and for Stephenie's support & friendship. This is a good thing, this ending...it's another step forward.
Two steps forward, three steps back...that's the dance that I've been doing for the last couple of weeks. I've been settling into my OLW this year, witnessing how it's going to show up. In 2012, my OLW was often a battle cry, an order (shift, NOW) from the Universe. FORWARD is quieter, but just as powerful.
This year, I think that FORWARD is going to be a constant foundation. It's not a marching order (although when Barb sends me a text saying FORWARD!, I imagine her in military garb, sitting on a horse, hoisting a rifle in the air...). It's becoming the basis of pretty much everything this year...a starting place from which to rebuild. What's really present for me right now...
Moving FORWARD with fitness. I've been going to Barre Sculpt 5 days per week for the past 2 weeks (separate blog post coming soon). It's hard, and I often shed tears on my drive home....but it's a reminder that I can find physical strength again.
Trying to be kind about practicing forgiveness & moving FORWARD after missteps. I got very frustrated & angry today with a local serviceman. I *swore - not really AT him, but at the situation. It wasn't kind. I'm trying to just move on, rather then berating myself about not being myBESTself. *just to be clear...I swear A LOT, but I don't typically swear at people.
Really, really practicing moving FORWARD in a few relationships, while recognizing that forward may mean moving in separate directions. This is so very hard for me. My friend, Mo, once observed that I "collect" people the way that many collect things. She marvels at the fact that I am still in touch with, and friends with, many people from my childhood and our teenage years. Letting go of friendships is a loss that I never handle well. Working on it.
In the cheeky sense of the word, I was a bit FORWARD about inviting myself to an Instameet in Burlington next weekend. EEEKKKS! What in the world am I thinking? I am an introvert, for pete's sake! Even so, I'm going to meet a bunch of IGers in Burlington. Wish me luck!
I'm also practicing leaning into a few things - and leaning is a FORWARD motion, right?
When you have a name that is a bit unusual (and was even more unusual before a certain hurricane), it's a special kind of happy to meet someone who shares it. I had the privilege of meeting Katrina several years ago at a Mother's Plunge in Boston. Even in the brief exchange of words, I felt her calm & kind energy. Kindred spirit. I read The Gift of an Ordinary Day over the course of several months - a decidedly slow pace for someone who can typically consume a book in a day. There was simply too much (in the best way) to absorb, reflect on, and treasure. I bought a copy of that book for five women who formed the village that helped to guide my children through middle school & early high school. I was honored when Katrina featured a photo of that stack of books on her site.
I didn't read Magical Journey when it was first published in January of last year. It wasn't a conscious decision, but more a symptom of a year that probably wouldn't have embraced it. I think that the release of the paperback was a gentle nudge from the Universe saying "you're ready now." I know that Katrina shares the belief that "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." And appear, she did....
Magical Journey, A Apprenticeship in Contentment is described as "an intimate account of a year of loss, self-discovery, and growth." For me, it was 266 pages of sharing coffee and conversation with Katrina. It was me saying "yep, I get that" with tears in my eyes. It was me putting the book down because it was, again, too much in the best possible way. Katrina writes about her sons - one at university, and one heading off to boarding school. Both experiences resonate - mine centering around Hope being at university, and Austin transitioning to a 2-household life. She writes about the death of a dear friend. I'm thankful that I don't have that specific point of reference, but I have spent much of the past year mourning the loss of aspects of some friendships that I treasured. The central theme of self-discovery - of figuring out what now? and what's next? - is one that I am living every.single.day.
Growth begins in silence, evolution with a heartbeat, journeys from where we are: standing in one place and daring to imagine a new horizon.
My OLW shows up often, making me nod & say "okay, I hear you."
Before I can move forward in my life, I must take the time to go down into it, to deepen it. All I can do is practice.
I've underlined & starred so many passages of this book, but I'll end with this one. I gasped when I read it, and had to wipe tears away. YES. THIS.
...I think that I am finally ready to embrace the assignment. Lately, the weight that I've carried all fall and winter has begun to lift. What felt like emptiness just a few months ago now feels more like breathing room. What I first experienced as loneliness is slowly blossoming into an enriching, surprisingly welcome solitude. And even loss, I see now, is nature's way of urging life to take a new form. Life just as it is meant to be - always changing, and always inviting me to adapt and change along with it.
Thank you, Katrina, for being an inspiration, a teacher, and a friend. I'm thinking that a New England coffee date is in order soon.