Powerful Beyond Measure

When Simone, a dear reader, sent me an email to offer support and wisdom for my recent interstate move, she said, “no need to control or fix or worry. All needs are met, and they always have been.” I knew I wanted to hear more so I asked if she would share her story about moving across the country and how it changed her. Here it is. Enjoy.

My plan was simple, move to Los Angeles, spread my professional wings a little further than I was able to in Philadelphia and then, perhaps move back to the east coast.

The first 6 months here, I unraveled, and my plan disappeared.

I became a person I didn’t recognize, like or want to be around.  I was shedding, crying, self-loathing and withdrawing from all the parts of myself I thought I knew and recognized.

2 months into my move, I became introverted and disillusioned. The expectations I had for myself were unrealistic and full of ego.  In Philadelphia, I wore a lot of hats, accomplished some pretty hefty goals and had a lot of titles. I had a BA in journalism from Temple University and an MS in arts administration from Drexel University.  My resume was 3 pages full of outlined experiences, and I cared a great deal about those achievements. They validated me, boosted my courage, and gave me a fantastic sense of self-esteem. Or so I thought.

By month 3, I had been on quite a few interviews, with no call back.  I didn’t understand. I had all the experience, qualified – many times over qualified and nobody wanted me. I was quickly learning that all that used to matter, didn’t matter anymore. What was wrong with me? Was I not enough? What was going to be my fall back plan? I had no job. No real sense of how to get around LA without a GPS (which depressed me) and no creative outlet. I was stuck. It was hard for me to see outside of the cloud I had created for myself. I was drowning in doubt, worrying about going back to Philly and what that would look like and what others would think.

I didn’t recognize myself and had no idea who I was turning into…

I desperately needed an answer, a sign a reminder, warning – something! I wasn’t at all sympathetic to the person I was becoming. I was used to always falling on my feet, while lining things up so that if plan A didn’t work, there was always plan B. I was used to being in control.

Little did I realize, I was that sign I was asking for.

After drowning myself in job applications and interviews, I welcomed any distraction.  I do not remember quite how I stumbled upon the author Marianne Williamson, but I will forever be grateful that I did. The first book I read by her was A Return to Love and digested it within a few days. I was new to the idea of speaking to the Universe, meditation or envisioning how I wanted to feel out of life, rather than what I wanted to happen or do in life. (That’s an important difference)

So, I called out. ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ It felt weird, and I was resistant. I struggled with releasing control and believing that all my needs would be met, without a tangible plan. That knowing (of the unknown) scared me, but I was willing to try.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” –M. Williamson

Was this true? Could I have been afraid of all that was waiting for me to experience? The thought of me being fearful of success or that my wildest dreams and ideas could actually manifest was silly to me.

Me?

Truth is; I was. The Universe gave me exactly what I needed. I needed to sit down and be with myself. Take a real good, long look at who I was, in that present moment. Forget goals, ideas, or dreams. I was a control freak, a perfectionist, and I felt like the world owed me because of the work I put in – I had a huge ego. With so many thoughts flooding my mind, I began to journal more frequently and meditate which became a beautiful distraction.  My thoughts changed from why I moved to LA and what I wanted to accomplish to who I wanted to become and what I wanted my life to mean.

I was here.

I was talented enough. I was experienced enough. I was opening my mind to possibility and definitely not afraid to learn what I didn’t already know.  I stopped rejecting what wasn’t about my life and became more open to what was happening and good about my life. I was exactly where I needed to be. I began to simply enjoy and look forward to every day.

I changed my attitude and approach.

I released the need to control or even worry about what direction I should take. I began to carve out time for reading, writing, job searching, discovering LA, talking to family and friends without shame or embarrassment and that became my routine.

I landed a job by month 6.

Did I particularly enjoy my emotional rollercoaster? No. But, I saw it through. Our truth can knock us down, but it is our willing heart that will always be ready to jump right back in! The question is; will you follow?

“Much of our anxiety and stress comes when we’re focused on fear and disconnected from the voice of our inner guide.” –Gabrielle Bernstein

dawn

“When life descends into the pit
I must become my own candle
willingly burning myself
to light up the darkness around me” – Alice Walker

i’m a wildflower. constantly unfolding, learning, experiencing, and loving…in los angeles. – Simone

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Have you been scared of your own beauty? Have you struggled to follow your heart? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you. 

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Thank you for your beautiful words, Simone!

Trapped

Sometimes I feel trapped. In my body, my mind, my house, my life, none of the above, all of the above.

I am neither depressed nor ill and I know I’m not the first happy person to wrestle with a dull claustrophobic ache now and again.

Maybe it’s because children/job/school/life/whatever demands so much out of us. We live in a culture of do-more-be-more-have-more. Which can be fun and rewarding. And draining and overwhelming. We become trapped by our to-do list. We become trapped by our fears. Worst of all, trapped by what (we think) we want whether it’s a social life or a career or money or children or a partner or something I cannot even imagine.

For some reason the things we want the most can also take the most out of us.

But we can never be trapped for we do not exist in a bubble, we are all-encompassing. We are waves in an ocean, the fingers of the same hand. Ego fools us into thinking we are separate or superior or inferior. Ego with its expectations and ideals and lies. The voice of knowledge, the snake in the garden. Highly conditioned, deeply programmed habits of thought about worth and meaning and value.

Who am I and why am I alive and what should I be doing that I am not doing? Why is there so much to do all the time and why can’t I keep up?

Moving a family to another city and state has proven itself a beast. A beast worth taming. An exciting chase. An adventure that has barely begun. When I feel scared or displaced I realize something: this means I am growing. If it feels uncomfortable, it’s probably good for me. Maybe I can learn to lean towards that kind of discomfort rather than away from it.

When I feel as if I should be doing something else or something more, it’s impossible to be present in this precious moment. We are busy creatures. We say yes. We make promises to ourselves and others. We join groups. We start projects. We take on as much as possible because we think we need to master something. Our careers, our homes, our inner demons.

Perhaps you, like me, are stumbling along, wishing to be better than you are. I recently joined an active parenting forum in San Francisco where mothers go for advice and support (among other things). Mothers post about depression, anxiety, stress. Too-small homes, too-small families, floundering relationships. The struggle is real. Unassailable. Often the first step in overcoming these troubles is airing them. Letting them be seen. Letting your self be seen.

Like the author Gretchen Rubin who studies and chases and writes about happiness because she wants to be happier, I believe in my ability to change. I am made of life and life adapts. That’s what life does because life longs to live. Plants have been known to start trapping and digesting flies for nutrients when the soil becomes depleted. Absolutely anything is possible.

Our struggles are like guideposts. They show us what we need to change.

I need to stay mindful about getting stuck in the drudgery of routine and caring for myself and several other people and do things that inspire me on a daily basis. When I feed my soul with inspiration, my mind is less likely to wander to what I need to “do” (and there will always be more to do), I am more present and able to see the sweetness and beauty of the moment. I set this intention one morning and just a few hours later I discovered a place called Inspiration Point. For the past couple of weeks I’ve unknowingly driven within 300 feet of it many times. Inspiration Point is a lookout with a smorgasbord of sights–ocean and island and tall trees and even a bit of city. A stone’s throw from my regular path. All I had to do was go a little further, venture off of my beaten path. It made me think that if I make my world a bit wider, I won’t feel quite so small.

How are you struggling and what do you think the struggle is trying to change in/about you? Please tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you!

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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The Bright Side

Sometimes I have the distinct sense that the universe is looking out for me. As if my life is a partnership between me and the ether. And like any relationship based on love, whether it is between lovers or friends or family, the universe has the power to hurt me, and it will hurt me. But it also has my back.

I didn’t get the first home I applied for in San Francisco, but I did land in the best place for my family.

I had some negative experiences as a working woman (from 12 hour days and 45 mile commutes to a good solid Ponzi scheme), but those experiences made me that much more inclined to travel, explore, excavate my dreams, and do what I actually love.

I was never skilled at the dating game, but I ended up marrying the perfect man for me.

I feel deeply called to be a writer which is not necessarily an easy career to break into, but I was born with the persistent gene so at least I know I will never give up.

I was also born with the indecisive gene, but I’ve recently discovered that I am never indecisive about the things that truly matter. So when I catch myself in a vacillating state, I can flip the proverbial coin and/or go with my first instinct and know that I made the “right” decision. (Or know that maybe there is no “wrong” decision.)

I’ve struggled to balance my life and also build my business, but because of my openness about this struggle, I may have found some business partners who are strong in the exact ways I am weak.

I get the worst kind of hangovers, my body cannot handle more than a bit of alcohol, but because of this I stopped binge drinking.

I had unhealthy eating habits and a negative body image from a young age. In my attempts to lose weight I discovered a passion for health and wellness. Now I am (generally) mindful of the foods I eat and the example I’m setting for my daughters. I’ve also learned to celebrate my love of food rather than try to fight it.

I have mild scoliosis and a high risk of osteoporosis, giving me extra motivation to make physical fitness (and good posture!) a priority.

The list goes on. Call it a silver lining or the bright side. Call it providence or fate. Call it God or the universe or the ten thousand things. Just call it something. The struggle is real. “Good” and “bad” are in knots so that we cannot have one without the other.

Can you think of something painful that changed you for the better? Do you believe that the universe has your back? Tell me about it in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail [dot] com. I’d love to hear about it. 

To read more of my thoughts on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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Little Animals

This weekend James looked at me over the top of 3 little heads and said, “this is like living in a zoo. These kids are little animals.” And it is and they are.

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Dirt on the carpet. Handprints on the windows. Crumbs on the couch. Candy wrappers in the bed. Halloween is my favorite holiday and a huge deal here in San Francisco. But the day after is a parenting nightmare. On Saturday we gathered our grown-up treats (coffee and fancy french pastries) and retreated to the playground where the little animals could run and climb and jump it off. The rubber ground was teeming with them, these fun crazy tiny people fueled by (sugar and) a zest for life that we tend to lose somewhere along the way.

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On Sunday we ventured to the edge of the west coast, the ocean pulling us in with her cavernous well of magnetism, intoxicating the children with negative ions and subtly salted air. Their smiles swelled with joy. The joy radiated from them, leaving a trail like cookie crumbs or pixie dust.

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They communed with the sand—crawling across it and burrowing under it and face planting into it. Now there’s sand in my car and my shower and my laundry machine. Parenting guarantees a dizzying assortment of messes. And though the infinite work exhausts me, it also fills me up. Because all that laundry means we played today and all those dishes mean we ate and drank well today. We roasted in the sun and tasted the earth and dipped our toes into her generous bounty.

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Everything revolves around our kids these days. Parents are notorious for making extreme sacrifices, our lives no longer belonging to us alone. The needs of our children become the tippy top of our priorities at the expense of our other relationships and passions and commitments. The little animals need us to survive after all, but we need them for something, too. They remind us why we are here. To feel joy when we manage to find it.

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Where do you find joy? Was the day after Halloween as bad for you as it was for me? 

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To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

Depleted & Alive, Uprooted & At Home

I knew that moving to another city and state would be a lot of work… But. This. This is intense. And long. It’s been weeks of anticipating the change (packing, purging, house hunting, house showing, interstate commuting for James and solo parenting for me), weeks of change (signing a new lease, living out of boxes, living without any boxes, saying good bye and hello), and now weeks probably months of processing the change (unpacking, organizing, living around boxes, building a new infrastructure [think--school, gym, insurance, doctor, bank, car mechanic, internet, babysitter, ballet, gymnastics, library, friends ET CETERA]).

Please, friends, do not take your infrastructure for granted. Creating a new one from scratch has given me so much appreciation for everything I left behind. It’s like chipping away at a block of ice with a toothpick. Except I want it all to be done with as soon as possible, set up and settled in. (Just typing this makes me click over to research something or call someone…)

But it took years and many recommendations and serendipitous connections to build the old infrastructure in an area where I’d lived for pretty much my whole life. These things take time. Time and patience. And since patience is part of my struggle in this body in this life, I’ve become somewhat consumed by setting up my new life. Getting it over with and moving along.

Unfortunately, shortcuts aren’t always better and “breaks” aren’t always healthy. I still don’t know if it’s normal and acceptable to neglect parts of me when life overwhelms, or if it’s a sign that my priorities are mixed up and turned around, that I’m lazy or undedicated or taking unimportant things too seriously at the expense of important things. Earlier this month I wrote a bucket list for savoring October. Now when I see it, especially #10, I scoff at my former self. It seems I do a lot of this on my blog. I write from my stream of consciousness, I publish, and then things change. But this outdated snapshot of my thoughts remains on the internet for anyone to see and know and judge. I avoid going through the archives, but when I do, I usually cringe with contempt for my former self. I am self-conscious and self-critical but somehow recognizing my flaws makes them easier to bear.

I’ve felt incredibly depleted by the past couple of weeks and by everything still undone. The boxes still in the hall, the pictures still in the boxes, the walls still unpainted, the dishes still in the sink, the laundry still in the basket. The classes I have yet to find, the doctor I have yet to meet, the strangers I have yet to befriend.

This afternoon marks the first time in weeks I’ve sat down at my computer to write, sitting with the discomfort of being unsettled rather than seeking to sweep it away. I stumbled through the preceding paragraphs, seeking to make sense of this current upheaval and the resulting breed of writer’s block. There’s just so much to do and not enough time to do it and two little girls who grow up a little more every time I turn around.

But I am also alive and enlivened and excited to start every day. I love exploring and getting to know San Francisco which I find warm and welcoming and winsome. I realize more and more that I am a true city girl. I feel at home in my new home, in my element amongst such activity and energy. Even without an established social network, I feel part of something. I am part of something simply by existing here. Perhaps the potential that I sense in San Francisco, the myriad of opportunities and experiences available, is the reason I am overly eager to get the logistics out of the way so I can focus on making friends and art and a life in the context of these sharp hills and valleys.

Onward.

Are you patient? Any tips on building a new infrastructure or recommendations specific to San Francisco? Tell me in the comments or email me lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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I have tears

Written as I soared through the skies on a one-way ticket from my hometown of Seattle to my new home in San Francisco.

There’s been so much to write about this move and everything I’m leaving behind and looking forward to that I haven’t found many words to say at all. And now that my house has been packed into a green Mayflower truck and I’m quite literally in the sky, I feel the need to reflect on this relentless knot in my throat.

All day I’ve felt the tightening and loosening, the gripping ebb and flow of emotion that threatens to unravel my composure without my permission.

Then again, it feels good to cry. A helpful sort of pain. Like a long deep stretch after a long deep sleep.

I’ve had the urge to spread my wings and make a home in California for years. My whole life has been leading up to this point.

And yet. My heart hurts to leave my family and friends, the life and community I’ve built in Seattle for the entire duration of my adult life thus far. I love so many people with such a ferocity that a part of me wishes none of this was happening at all.

I stopped writing to cry and Giovanna caught me. She said, “I looked at you and you had tears and now I have tears.”

She told me she missed Grammy which of course made me miss my parents terribly and I just had lunch with them today. I have the most wonderful and supportive parents and I owe it to them to not just make the most of this move but to be happy. Because what more could you possibly want for your child? They gave me unwavering roots and now it’s time I put my foundation to good use by digging deeper and reaching higher and stretching further than before.

Wish me luck, dear readers. And if you have any tips on living the good life in San Francisco, tell me in the comments or email me at lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I’m all ears.

These photos have no filter like these words.

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Are you doing what you love today?

Have you found something that makes you so clearly happy that you wonder how you ever survived without it?

Things like family, sports, creative outlets, maybe your home or community or even a great job.

But then life gets in the way and you stop running or painting or staying ahead at work or paying much attention to your spouse or kids. Something of this variety happens to all of us now and then because we are human. A distracted breed. We are interesting and beautiful because of our mutability.

It’s not our fault. We have so much to experience. Too much. So many ends to tie up. Too many. (At least it often feels this way!) Billions of unique balls of human energy are firing through the atmosphere at every given moment, getting tangled in one another, inspiring and maddening and exciting and teaching one another.

Every time I drive on the highway these days, I’m struck by my fellow humans, all of us in our respective cars, these hunks of mineral protecting us from one another so that we can fulfill our individualized agendas. Perhaps our life purposes. We have places to go. Down highways and across skies and up mountains. We are smart. We lead complex lives, rich and sumptuous with love for one another and for life itself.

This is all good and well. Until we start dropping ends because we’ve picked up too many. And we feel like we’re in a horror movie because our heads are spinning. We can see in every direction, all of the possible paths. Some call them parallel universes. And because there are many different directions to take, we get confused. We say yes when we mean no. We say no when we mean yes.

It’s easy to lose the way. The way is completely subjective, after all. What you love will be different than what your mother or father or brother or sister or partner or best friend or enemy loves.

In this day and age, distractions are as abundant as opportunities. We have to stay mindful of our daily activities. Are we staying true to our heart’s desire?

I’m interested in this idea of focus. Focusing on what you love most and not letting superfluous distractions steal too much of your most finite resource. Time.

Why is it that we often have to force ourselves to do things that we love such as exercising, writing, even socializing? My cousin loves salsa dancing as much as anyone can love salsa dancing. But as a mother of two battling Lyme Disease and chronic pain, she rarely gets the opportunity to go out and dance. She’s been out of the salsa scene for so long that she’s hardly looking forward to attending the annual conference in San Francisco next month. This was something she used to anticipate for months prior and savor for months afterwards. And I’m sure that once she gets to that conference and onto the dance floor, she will enter the flow, that state of being from which artistic expression arises.

It’s about momentum. When we get into the habit of doing what we love every day or every other day or every week, that’s when we know I could never survive without this. So why do we try?

Are you doing what you love today?

Please tell me what it is YOU love in the comments or send me an email lucymiller7 [at] gmail.com. I love hearing from you! 

To read more of my musings on motherhood, mindfulness and the creative life, please follow my blog or subscribe via feedburner.

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