Gratitude Confetti When Times are Tough

How many times have you been to hell and back? Maybe in this post-election, holidays-are-coming time of year, you feel the embers of hell at your feet right now. Any type of suffering…physical, mental, familial…it’s hard. The only way to get through it is to sort of turn your hell beast into some sort of anti-superhero.

Kind of like this…
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Why? Because the saying goes, “what you resist, persists.” The more you DENY that your situation sucks right now, the more it holds a grip on you, keeping you from DEALING WITH IT and moving on. You stay stuck. And you burn up. Ouch.

Painful times can help us grow and discover who we are and what we really want out of life. Whether you are in hell right now because it’s your first Christmas without a loved one, your traditions have changed due to separation or divorce, your kids are away from home, you lost a job or your business is suffering, you’re worried about the state of the country with Trump at the helm…know that no matter what THIS TOO SHALL PASS. In some situations, it means you have to get out of your own way to LET IT.  The gurus say that it isn’t the situation that causes us unhappiness but in our REACTION and THOUGHTS about the situation. In other words, it’s us, not them. It’s our own mind that causes us misery.

So what are you going to do about it? Mope for the next four years…or take action to work on a social cause to make a difference?

Spend the entire holiday in mourning…or do something special to lift your spirits or create a new tradition?

I get that “making the most of what you have” is easier said than done, but it is possible. Is it weird and awkward when you switch up a tradition? Can be. But it can also be better than you expected. I had to learn to let go of the importance of “the date” versus an experience around a holiday because I have shared custody of my kids so I have to be flexible and make sure they experience a beautiful time despite what day we celebrate.

The holidays aren’t the same if a loved one has passed and honestly the holidays don’t have the same BIGNESS as they did when my grandmother was in charge of our holiday merriment – and she’s been gone 25 years. They don’t have the GIDDINESS from when my kids were little and we did the whole Santa thing and waking extra early for unwrapping gifts, either.

Because it makes me happy, I put out holiday photos of the kids when they were little and elfish. This year I even added a photo of my grandparents to my mantle display so I can remember the two decades of holidays spent with them and honor their memories.

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Now my kids are older and it’s my third Christmas with the man who recently asked me to marry him. I am so full of love and gratitude and that’s what life is really about, isn’t it?

pic by Valerie Sebestyen
pic by Valerie Sebestyen

My antidote to surviving life’s hellish times is to THROW GRATITUDE LIKE CONFETTI. It’s like throwing water on the fire – extinguishing some of the pain and soothing the burn. Gratitude makes you realize not all of life is so terrible…there’s always something, someone, to be grateful for.

List your confetti…heck, maybe you should even write them down on a  piece of paper, cut them up and throw them over your head. Add the little things, too. I’m so thankful for Lipsense because I can kiss Chris and drink coffee and it still stays on my lips. I’m thankful my daughter is so chatty with me. I’m so thankful for bride tribe of supportive girlfriends. An on and on. List it. Live it. Volunteer. Whatever works to cheer you up.

Namaste. Happy holidays.

xoxo—ready.aim.grow—>

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7 Guaranteed Joy Boosters

Vita Allegre (Joyful Living) is Ramona’s goal in my novel Dating da Vinci. While getting your groove back after a big loss (death, divorce) takes some time, I’ve gathered up 7 Joy Boosters that work for me to shift my energy and keep my spirits up. I’d love to hear yours in comments.

1. Singing really loud and dancing like a crazy person. People who ride with me know this. If you are easily embarrassed by a singing/car dancing driver, then by all means, Uber yo’self. But when I’m in a down mood, I seriously crank it. Current car dance  favorite: Hood Go Crazy.  May seem like a little thing, but a great road trip partner feels like hitting the jackpot. Going on dance competition road trips with my girlfriend Jill made all the difference and shopping with her for decorating clients is so much for fun than going alone. And I’m never, ever bored on a car trip with my guy. I think if you find someone you travel well with on both short and long trips and don’t feel the compulsion to open the door and leave them on the side of the road, that’s a very good sign.

2. Coffee and/or drinks with a girlfriend and one-on-one time with my kiddos. I love a great cup of java and a good red wine so adding in a girlfriend for a venting/laughter sesh turns that frown upside down. If it’s not possible to meet in person, a quick phone call can also do the trick. I also make an effort to schedule one-one-one time with each kid so I can tailor the activity for just them and give them undivided attention. (Which also means putting our phones away.) Since my kids are boy/girl/boy and spread apart in ages, it’s even more important I find that time to connect with them individually. My 17-year-old will watch the nerdiest documentaries with me on Netflix while my 15-year-old daughter says, “Mom! This isn’t health class!” Ha. So with her, it’s best to go shopping or find a ghost story or rom com to watch together.

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3. Getting my nature on. It’s really hard to stay upset when you’re looking at a stream or standing in the path with a deer or looking out at the horizon from atop a mountain. Seriously, go try it. I dare you.

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4. I work out. Getting my heart rate up is a complete no brainer to shift the brain chemistry and get the good feelings flowing. If I’m feeling anxious, I know 20 minutes on the stair master and treadmill will kill it. Feeling tense? Barre3 or Pilates provide a tough workout but also completely relaxes my mind with all the stretching and breathing and whatnot. Concentrating on those small movements keeps you in the present moment while kicking your ass. Love it. If you’re feeling angry, might I recommend kickboxing or lifting weights? Seems to work out my Hulk moods jes’ fine.

Hawaiian selfie on my way to the gym at sunrise in Maui last summer.
Hawaiian selfie on my way to the gym at sunrise in Maui last summer.

5. Kissing. My nerdy side loves the scientific reasoning behind a good lip-lock. In The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, author Sheril Kirshenbaum tells us, “The cascade of biological reactions during a passionate kiss plays a role. Research shows that kissing boosts levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine (which is involved in craving and desire) and serotonin (which elevates mood and can help spark obsessive thoughts about a partner). It also causes a jump in oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” whose release during orgasm triggers attachment between couples. She says kissing helps us evaluate the suitability of a partner, both in the beginning and assessing the health of a relationship long-term. I discuss the language of love in my novel, Dating da Vinci, but it’s way more fun in real life. Anyhoo, more please.

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6. Change your scene. Those of you who have read Family Charms know I based the novel on my estrangement with my mother for twenty years. Our relationship has been a rubber band that stretches over the years and she reached out to me after hearing about my divorce. She’s been a very healthy and helpful presence in my life since last October and we get each other. Last December I was lying in bed on a Friday night in my studio apartment feeling lonely when I called her and she told me to get dressed and go to the mall just to change my scene and energy. I did and shopped for a gift for my daughter and bought a dress for a client’s holiday party, which prompted me to reach out to a guy I’d met earlier that week. He asked me to meet him at a restaurant in front of the mall. So my glum Friday turned into my first date and first kiss with a great guy who likes that I sing and dance like a crazy person in the car and goes on big and little adventures with me. So, yeah, change your scene, change your mood. You may even get a passionate kiss at the end of the night.

A hiking trip with Chris to the Wichita Mountains in February.
A hiking trip with Chris to the Wichita Mountains in February.

7. Try something new/go exploring. I thrive on change and learning so I probably have to do this more than the average bear, but I’ve found it’s not just big new adventures that can keep my spirits up, but those everyday adventures, too like taking the back roads to get to your destination. I also found out I get a high from other people having new experiences. When we took my kids to Carlton Landing and they kayaked for the first time and then to Grand Lake and my oldest learned how to drive a wave runner and when I met a friend for her first paddle board yoga class – it’s the same feeling I get when it’s me having the new adventure. Being an everyday adventurer means exploring wherever you are. When Chris and I stayed at the Waldorf in NYC, we explored the empty ballrooms and got to see much more than if we’d just segregated ourselves to our room and lobby. So reach out and invite someone to do something new with you. Of course writing about someone else’s new adventures works for me, too. In my brain, it’s as if I’ve lived it out. It’s still trippy to me how that works! I often tackle new writing challenges for this reason. Instead of writing from one woman’s point of view, I wrote about four women’s life transitions in Oklahoma City in my novel Something New. Now I’m working on my first mystery.

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The Waldorf, NYC.

What about you? What works to keep your spirits up? 

5 Big Lies Women Tell Themselves

Vita allegre. Joyful living. His eyes danced with excitement and awe and insatiable curiousity. Not just for America. For life. I ached to feel that again. This is why I gave him a ride. This is why I rented my late husband’s studio for scraps. I hoped some of da Vinci’s joy would rub off on me, though I had meant it more in the metaphysical sense than the physical, but that wouldn’t be entirely bad, either. — Ramona in Dating da Vinci

In light of my re-launch of Dating da Vinci, (available now on Amazon) my novel about a woman searching for la dolce vita – the sweet life – two years after her husband dies, I’d like to write a few posts this summer on the topic of Vita Allegre. My job as a novelist is to create the journey for each of my characters, taking them through the highs and lows. In real life, we’re each responsible for our own story and handling those lows is what helps us grow. We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to our happiness. Let’s start with a few lies we’ve all told ourselves, shall we?

1. I don’t deserve X, Y, Z. We get to a certain point and stop believing that our own needs matter. Often this coincides with a baby emerging from our vajayjays or a certain number of candles on your cake. Yes, you deserve your hobbies, interests, me-time, companionship, love, great sex, good friends, fulfilling work, big and little adventure and whatever else strikes your fancy if it’s good for you. The bottom line: you deserve happiness and you don’t have to stay stuck.

2. My body can’t be changed. Not to pick on moms here, but often we believe after we’ve had children that our bodies are just done. While our shape changes after babies and with age, believing this lie could keep us in a cycle of unhealthy choices as time goes on. Look, we’re smart women and we need to pass on not just a healthy body image but also the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Each of our bodies are unique and only 8% of women have the bodies we see in magazines so we need to strive for our own reality, not some fantasy. What can be changed and what can’t? I could reshape my body and get rid of fat and build lean muscle and still be realistic that I would never have a J Lo butt. Since I started focusing on my health two years ago, I’ve lost 25 pounds and have kept it off for more than a year. We need to be patient with ourselves and not rely on a quick fix. My aim was to be healthy and fit, not skinny. I’m certainly not shaming anyone who doesn’t want to live a certain way – it’s our choice, period as long as we realize we are making a choice. Working out regularly is good for our minds, too. I’m less anxious and worried and generally feel more positive, especially when I was going through tough times. Do you want to live longer? The wellness blog at NY Times sheds light on longevity and exercise. And if you need a documentary to prove why this lie is a load of crap, watch the incredible transformations featured in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. What are your misperceptions about your health? Are you willing to put in the work to make it happen?  Your body may not look exactly like it did in years’ past, but it can be healthier and in some cases, the best it’s ever been.

After a stand up paddle board yoga class with friend Laura Nance.
After a stand up paddle board yoga class with friend Laura Nance.

3. Believing other people’s story about you (and giving them the power). Perception is a funny thing. I read a great article last year that talked about everyone’s “story” about you being different because they see you through their own lens. Your mom has one story. Your mate another. Your children, another one still. Work, ditto. Trying to keep up with all of those “labels” and expectations on fitting into other people’s stories can make us lose our own identity. Get Real truth here: you only matter to most people based on what you do for them and of course secondarily how you make them feel. I know that sucks, but the GOOD NEWS is that you matter a ton to a smaller set of people who will love you just the way you are – weird quirks and all. What matters is who you know yourself to be. Self-awareness is crucial. Say yes when you mean “hell, yes!” and no when you sincerely don’t want whatever is being proposed. Put the power of your life back into your hands. Don’t let others make your life choices for you. I was very open to others’ advice before and after my divorce (especially the doctors, therapists and close friends) but be careful because friends and family may work more to “convince” you than listen and understand you. That makes sense because they aren’t you. They aren’t in your head. Yes, they want “the best” for you but sometimes the best means making hard choices and letting go. They may then switch to blame and finding out what’s “wrong” with you. Believe me, I’ve heard it all and while I took some of it to heart, the rest was best left in the “good intentions” waste basket. Another biggie: Be aware of your own self-limiting beliefs. Stop shoulding all over yourself and stop letting others should over you, too.

What do you want from life? Drop the labels and dig in.

4. My happiness is reliant on good circumstances (or others). When I was 28 and started an advertising agency with a friend, I found the quote, “I shall not let circumstances dictate my joy.” That’s been my mantra whenever anything shitty happens in my life. Every struggle is an opportunity to grow and personally I set a time limit on feeling sorry for myself.  I also have go-to “kick in the pants” confidantes to help me see the light.  It may seem counterintuitive to believe we can feel that life is still ultimately good when we are undergoing hard times (divorce, disease, grief, et al) but we can. It’s not about shrugging our shoulders and putting up with the shit, either. In fact, it’s more important than ever to be honest about what’s happening (Get Real) and see what we need to do about it. (If anything.) Divorce and the aftermath is by far the hardest thing I’ve gone through in life, yet I was still ultimately a happy, positive person through the tough times even though I was very unhappy about the circumstance. That’s the difference. Happiness is a slippery slope if you are relying on what’s happening to you versus who you are. At your core, are you happy, positive and hopeful? If not, why not? I also like the quote, “don’t put your happiness in someone else’s pocket.”

5. Love is enough. It’s a huge cliche that “love is all you need” and it’s a big lie we as women start believing when we are tiny tots in pink tutus watching Disney movies. Sure, I think love in all its forms  is why we’re here but it should not be idealized or glamorized and it certainly doesn’t come easy. Yes, this is coming from someone who has a romantic sub-plot in every novel, but even in my stories it’s not roses and unicorns and hot sex and happily ever after. It’s “Wow, relationships are hard and life is tough but I choose you to share my journey with.”

And, parenting? Whew. I love my kiddos to pieces but parenting them is incredibly difficult because they are human beings separate from me, not puppets on a string. I can guide them but not control them. I have to let them make mistakes and yet consistently monitor what’s happening and when I need to step in. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? (And to make the point in #4, if my happiness was reliant on their attitudes of the day, I’d be in a world of hurt.)

Regarding romantic love, I recently discovered author Mark Manson and he does a nice job of discussing the realities of relationships and self-development. In this article, “Love is Not Enough,” his #1 point is “Love does not equal compatibility. Just because you fall in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a good partner for you to be with over the long term. Love is an emotional process; compatibility is a logical process. And the two don’t bleed into one another very well.” In another article he defines how important chemistry and compatibility are for a solid relationship. Unfortunately, loving and caring for someone is not enough. Making worlds (dreams, goals, ambitions, lifestyle) mesh requires practical solutions, not wishful thinking. If you believe “love is the solution” ask yourself if that really solves the problem or if it’s a band-aid that lets you cover up what’s really going on because it’s painful and will require work. You don’t need someone else to complete you, but to complement you. It has to start with self-love.

In Dating da Vinci, Ramona’s inner thorn was not only her grief about losing her husband, but giving herself permission to be happy and find love again. Finally she’s ready to remove those thorns. For some deep reading on this subject, I recommend The Untethered Soul and particularly his analogy on removing inner thorns instead of creating a life to work around the thorn. A big eye opener for me.

I’ll be back next week to talk more about Vita Allegre.  If you read Dating da Vinci the first time around, might you leave a review on Amazon and tell your friends about it? As ever, xo and here’s to every day adventure.

Adventures pics of the week- Grand Lake with all my guys for 4th of July weekend.

My boys tubing. Loved seeing them try new things.
My boys tubing. Loved seeing them try new things.
Heading out for a morning paddle board into the cove.
Heading out for a morning paddle board into the cove.
Three days of boating fun with my captain.
Three days of boating fun with my captain.

5 Reasons You Should be Dancing

“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” – Emma Goldman

I can’t think of a better Every Day Adventure than dancing. I start my days singing and dancing and keep it going in the car and recently decided I should put more dance into my nightlife, too, which is where Groovy’s, a classic dance club in OKC, comes in. Disco ball, smoke machine, confetti, Y-M-C-A, great drinks and strangely you feel you have more energy as the night wears on instead of less. When did you last dance – whether it’s Tom Cruise Risky Business style or in a club? Here’s 5 reasons I think you should just dance.

1. You feel ageless when you dance. When the music takes over and you cut loose, you are just purely living. Yes, you may remember how old your bones are the next day, but then you remember how alive you felt on the dance floor and it’s all worth it. That’s what ibuprofen is for.

2. You can’t be in a bad mood while dancing. It’s a stress reliever. It’s a smile inducer. Even if you don’t attempt to twerk.

3. You already sit on your butt all day long. Yeah, a lot of “nights out” involve more sitting – dinner, movies, plays, all on your ass. If you’re like me and have a desk job, then you really need to get up and shake your groove thing.

4. It’s more fun than the treadmill. So it’s fun *and* you can burn some serious calories? Score. I love when exercise mashes up with cocktails.

5. It’s social. I’ve been reading lots of depressing research about the sad state of “alone together” where we get together but we’re all on our phones. That’s not a problem on the dance floor. You make eye contact, laugh and shake your booties with your besties and strangers, alike. So what are you waiting for? Let’s dance! See you at Groovy’s.

A fun-filled night at Groovy's with some of my favorite humans.
A fun-filled night at Groovy’s with some of my favorite humans.

The real Pinterest: Bowling

“There’s kind of a Zen aspect to bowling. The pins are either staying up or down before you even throw your arm back. It’s kind of a mind-set. You want to be in this perfect mind-set before you released the ball.”

Jeff Bridges

Every Day Adventure is about unplugging and reconnecting in real life. Opening our eyes to what’s out there and saying “yes” to a new route, a new friend, a new possibility for growth through play. Unfortunately play gets a bad rap, yet that’s just what psychologists are telling us we need more of to ward off stress and increase our happiness. Less Facebook, more face time with real people.

When’s the last time you bowled? That long? Why not grab your partner or your kids or some buddies and knock down some pins (and maybe some beers) while you’re at it?

Over the holiday break, my sis and I took our kids to the Woodward Bowling Alley where I found out my nephew is a pretty damn good bowler. And my boys are eight years apart in age so something like bowling is the perfect way to get them to play together.

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He gets his form from me, natch.

Then a couple weeks later, a double date landed us at the swanky Red Pin in downtown OKC. With a full bar and actual appetizing apps, it’s a classier joint. While the traditional double date is probably dinner out, we made ours a playdate with tapas followed by bowling with some fun winner takes all stakes. We had a blast. And, hey, I didn’t suck.

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We’re very serious bowlers as you can see.

So, dear reader, where will you go play today?

If you’re on Instagram, follow my #everydayadventure @malenalott and I’d love to hear about yours.

Get Real: The Four Agreements

What if you had four simple ways to live in peace and increase your happiness? Don Miguel Ruiz gives us a guide in his international bestseller, “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.” 

I recall how helpful the book was back in my early days of co-owning an ad agency ten years ago. This past week I revisited the book to as a way to ground myself in the midst of my divorce and the news of our separation reaches our friends, family and community.fouragreements

While I do want to keep my private life private, I’m also aware that I am called to share some of that publicly as I have all year in what it means to be true to yourself and “get real” and try to live with unconditional happiness. I also write about women’s journeys in my novels and my most important woman’s journey has to be my own. Making tough choices and surviving rough times is part of our story.

One sunny day last week at a park near my new job at a PR firm, I shared what those Four Agreements can do for us.

I hope the book helps you the way it’s helping me through this difficult time. That being said, even for a person who does live with the “glass half full” and a positive attitude, I still feel pain and still get hurt feelings. Our brains WANT us to jump to conclusions and make assumptions and our egos feel attacked and want to defend. Hey, it’s hard being human. I’m trying to be kinder and gentler.

I had to block a family member who sent me about thirty Bible verses and said I’m no longer welcome in her home. People feel like they have to take sides, which is unfortunate, and it hurts to be immediately cut off from half the family that have been a part of your life for so long. Others friends may stay away because it’s awkward. I get it! Many people don’t know what to say, or as I said in the video, it’s going through the lens of their own situation. So you can see why The Four Agreements is pretty helpful if I (we) keep trying to live them.

1. Be impeccable with your word.

2. Don’t take things personally.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

4. Always do your best.

I want to emphasize how important the support and love of friends and family have been. I do believe we are a magnet for what we are sending out so I’m concentrating on love and joy and peace. I have so much to be grateful for.

Not sure what to say or NOT SAY to someone going through a divorce? One blogger shares 5 tips here.  Or know someone who was recently diagnosed with cancer? Six things not to say here. And here are 9 things not to say to a grieving friend. 

Other News:

NaNoWriMo. My goal is to finish the first draft of my brotherhood novel in November. That happens to be National Novel Writing Month so I’m in. Not only do I need the distraction that my fictional world provides, but it will feel great to get this project done because it’s the one I’ve been more excited about writing than any other.

Decorating. I recently finished a project for Sweet Law Firm to give their stale work room some personality. Check out the post and video here. 

FUN NEWS! A new Stork Reality baby! My book club visit in September included a pregnant reader who had just finished reading The Stork Reality, my first novel. I asked her to send me baby pics when her bundle of joy arrived. Welcome to the world, Gigi! Congrats, Megan!

Stork Reality baby, Gigi Franklin.
Stork Reality baby, Gigi Franklin.

Get Happy Week 6: Dark to Light

Getting Happy isn’t focusing on the good stuff or “seeing the bright side.” While that helps, it’s important to get to the deepest part of our core, which means embracing pain and darkness as a foundation for true inner happiness. In my Solo Camping post, I talked about the book Learning to Walk in the Dark in which Barbara Brown Taylor not only describes our fear of physical darkness, but of the “dark nights of our soul.” She discusses how we might get the most out of embracing our dark paths, not repressing them or simply “praying them away.” We have to Get Real about our darkness to deal with it.

Obviously one way I deal with my own demons is by writing stories, which feels like “letting the pressure out of the tire” but it has also slowly removed many thorns in my life. As I write about love and loss and grief as a recurring theme in all of my stories, I’ve been able to deal with my own Dark Passenger, Grief, which I also wrote about in Hope Floats, short stories on loss and living on. hopefloatscovernook

While I’ve dealt with letting go of worry and anxiety that stemmed from a childhood thorn of a fear of abandonment, I hadn’t really dealt with the big thorn of Grief. As I’ve been excavating mySelf this year, I realized it was time to let that go, too. In my 2008 novel, Dating da Vinci, my young widow Ramona, describes life from the viewpoint of either a Normal or a Griever. When you’re a Griever, everything looks different – it’s tinged with a sadness of what was and what could have been and the very painful reality of what is. Her journey is to find la dolce vita, the sweet life. Not the same life she had with her husband, but a new kind of normal. While I had accepted that I do look at life as a Griever and it’s made me appreciate each day I’m given, I do think I had an attachment to that aspect of my life story and I’m ready to REMOVE THE THORN instead of protecting it.url

The thorn theory is in the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Untethered Soul, in which Michael A. Singer writes that, “They let the fear of their inner thorns affect their behavior. They end up limiting their lives just like someone living with an external thorn. Ultimately if there is something disturbing inside of you, you have to make a choice. You can compensate for the disturbing by going outside in an attempt to avoid feeling it, or you can simply remove the thorn and not focus your life around it.”

“You have to decide if you want to continue to walk around with stored pain blocking your heart and limiting your life. The alternative is to be willing to let it go when it gets stimulated. It only hurts for a minute and then it’s over.”

Like pulling a BandAid, but way harder. He writes, “You can look deep within yourself, to the core of your being, and decide that you don’t want the weakest part of you running your life.”

Wow. I know I don’t want that. Do you? I want joy and freedom and utilizing my energy for moving forward, not protecting my pain.

In dealing with our darkness, Singer says, “Just sit in the seat of awareness and never leave. No matter what goes on below you, open your heart and let it go.” He speaks of a world of pure energy that will open up to you as a result and who doesn’t want that?

One of my new favorite mantras came from his book and that’s, “Relax and Release.” When I feel the pang of worry, anxiety, fear or grief begin to stir, I stop the thought short and take in a deep breath and release it. No, that doesn’t guarantee “insta-happiness” but that’s what this series is all about. Happiness WHILE dealing with what is even when that what is is totally crappy.

Yeah, this whole year of Transformation has been about Awareness that can lead to Action and Singer says, “Awareness does not fight; awareness releases.”

Another find that helped me deal with Darkness this summer was a program by Frederick Buechner, who had experienced a great deal of pain early in his life and discovered that he was a Steward of Pain. I encourage you to read or listen to it.

Like Taylor, Buechner tells us NOT to forget it, cover it up, or not talk about things that cause pain OR use it as a sob story or an excuse for your life. We can take the pain and learn from it and release it but keep in touch with it. You’ll never forget it because it changed you but it doesn’t have to keep you down. He says it reminds us of our own powerlessness and that’s a good thing to know. Coupled with Singer’s advice to release your mind of a job to “fix yourself” then we won’t make ourselves crazy trying to control what is OUT of our control. One way to do this is to be an observer of your life. You see that these things are happening to you – but they aren’t you. It can help to grasp that concept with a meditation program where you do sit and see thoughts and feelings pop up but you don’t get distracted by them. To rise above.

Buechner says, “if life and pain is buried, you shrink instead of grow, you become less. Ones who traded with their lives made to be life traders. I have what you need which is me and you have which I need, which is you.” Treasure the pain you’ve gone through helps us feel compassion for other people and can drive us to help others.

I know just thinking about the thorn(s) can be painful and opens us up to that uncomfortable vulnerability to look at love and loss square in the eye, raw and aching. But no one else is going to do it for us. It’s work but it’s worth it. Loving ourselves and loving others is what life is all about.

Grace is ours if we take it.

Questions to ponder: what are the thorns in your life? How have you been protecting the thorns instead of dealing with them? What steps do you need to do to remove them? 

Thanks for being a part of my “Get” year with Get Real, Get Out, Get Fit and Get Happy. I’m taking a blog hiatus so I can work on my novel in progress as well as some short stories in a collection I’m excited about. All of that on top of decorating and branding work and a personal life with a very busy fall.

If you miss me, send me a note or seek me out on social media, where I’ll try not to hang out too much but I do try to respond to messages.

Best of luck on your journey, friends.

xo,

Malena