Righteous Anger: How COVID Effed With My Growth Mindset

I spent the last decade fully bought into the self development world and dabbling in spirituality, mindfulness, and now neuroscience. I am the one with the growth mindset, the perspective, the flowery words and the lilting, leading tone to make you believe in something within as well as something bigger than you. I still believe it. Ish.

“Pandemic,” as my friends are now referring to it, has added an edge to my grace, a darkness to my dry humor, and heart palpitations for added measure. This was the year my startup was to find investors. The year my weird little blended family was going to click into place. This was the year that all the manifesting I did was going to bloom and show itself.

Instead I write this in the robe I slept in and next to an unlit Christmas tree I put up way too early in the hopes I could usher in the spirit of joy. My toxic positivity was going to save us with peppermint-spiked everything and The Grinch and Home Alone on repeat. I jingle jangled all over the living room almost exactly a week before my boyfriend’s daughter showed her first mild signs of COVID. By the time my boyfriend was knocked out on the couch, feverish and covered with a blanket like Jesus in the shroud of Turin, I knew we were in trouble.

We did the things we were supposed to do. We separated everyone, notified the exes and anyone we could’ve exposed. Everyone got tested. Up the nose, tears, with pleading, “I’m so scared,” squeezed hands and the RN’s sigh, “I really hate testing children.” She stopped for a moment and locked eyes with me over Liv’s sobs. It was a glimpse of her exhaustion, her humanity and a defeated moment where we both nodded, understanding what wasn’t being said.

The positives, as I’ve now lovingly named them, are isolated upstairs with all the devices, arts & crafts, Chloroseptic, pain relievers, and fluids their little hearts could desire. In rapid succession our co-parents have made care package deliveries for both children because we are the modern #coparentinginapandemicgoals family. All the women in this village agree we like each other more than the men most of the time and that we really should have our own reality show.

My daughter and I – the negatives – wait. For what, we haven’t figured out yet. Are we waiting for the first signs of illness, the health of our loved ones, the aliens that would not even be outlandish for 2020 at this point?

When we are not waiting I deliver meals and meds to closed doors and clean like I alone will uncover the physical veil between us and the matrix. My daughter has named my delivery service, “Momazon,” and my house is run like a Navy Destroyer ship. She is currently creating a comic book (from the art supplies dad just dropped off) where COVarty, the villain, is being beaten by the hero of this story, “Momazon,” complete with the robe, “that hair” as she refers to it, and fluffy Cheetah slippers.

There are roll call texts in the morning, instructions for movement, bathing, laundry, trash pick up, lunch, snack and dinner Momazon deliveries, and lots and lots of FaceTime calls. Some between my boyfriend and I as we confirm symptoms and discuss what he will eat with a throat on fire. The evening FaceTime call has taken place of our family evening prayers.

There are days when it is really funny. When my boyfriend peeks his head out of his lair, fully masked, and says, “I am an independent man. You don’t control me. I do what I want. I go where I want to go,” and then turns and retreats to where I’ve banished him to cough and sputter until he gets his next charge of energy.

There are days when it is really hard. When trying to serve, care for and keep myself and my daughter healthy feels overwhelming. When the positives really want to move and the boredom and malaise makes them mopey. When I have to tell a ten year old child she has to stay isolated even though she feels much better than she did when this unholy disease found its way into our lives. When I just want to find a time machine or know the ending to this particular story.

A very close friend called, “Tell me. The real.” I laughed, “I’m mad. I have done everything to keep this God-forsaken virus out of my house and it is in here with its spikes and its bullshit infesting my home and my people and I’m fucking angry.”

He said that was a good place to be.

Optimism is great when it serves you, but this is not a space where I’m about to share lessons learned. No, I want to tell you that this is not my favorite situation. Maybe in two years we’ll have lessons learned and life will be so good we can sit within the glow of toxic positivity once again, like naive grifters selling themselves on their own grass instead of the green on the other side. Maybe we won’t have to do that because we’ll have seen both sides and we’ll land in the middle, fully embodying our growth and the traits that make us survivors. Maybe “Pandemic” is what bridges us from our extremes and our need to box ourselves in and create ways to judge our very humanness.

But today?

I am riddled with anxiety and panic attacks as I hear the positives coughing. I forced my boyfriend to change the subject when he started the “handling affairs” convo and wanted to make sure I knew how to get in touch with his family. I feel bad/sorrowful/apologetic that I’m caring for two girls who deserve to be playing with their friends, hugging their other parents and siblings. I apologized to my daughter last night. I told her that I’m supposed to keep her safe. It is my biggest charge as her mom and I feel like I’ve failed her… as we wait… for what we still don’t know. She wouldn’t accept my apology. She said there was no need for it, because “you are the best mom ever.”

I don’t know what tomorrow brings.

I don’t know much of anything and that is becoming the space I now hold and hold well. Just being. Just making the next best decision. Just feeding people because it is the thing I can do. It is the only thing I can control. The kitchen and my iPhone have become my command deck and I promise you everyone feels safer, calmer and more at ease because I act like I know what I’m doing and I’m really good at telling people what to do. #momlife

Right this second I know that I made the breakfast Momazon deliveries and everyone is comfortable.

I know that I will serve pineapple as a lunchtime side for two of the people in the house, because the third only likes things that are “4% sour.” She’ll get strawberries.

I know that I am a really good mom.

I know that I lucked out in the co-parent lottery with an entire group of people across multiple homes who all act like we share DNA.

I know there are no certainties, and that this storyline has been far worse for so many other people. I know that I “should” sit in gratitude for all we have and yea, yea, yea, I promise we’re doing that too.

I also know that this is real, there are no answers or magic 8 balls, control freaks are losing their shit, and maybe that is the lesson we weren’t ready for in 2020.

My dear friend, who agreed that my anger was righteous, asked me what I saw on the other side of this situation, and for us in particular. I immediately saw an image of small green shoots, new growth, new perspectives. I’m holding on to that image. It may not be profound, but it is hopeful, and we could all use a little hope right now. Even if it is the size of a fledgling sprout.

Please stay safe out there. You have no idea how one small decision you make for your own comfort could affect an entire family or community. This. Is. Not. Fun. Nor do I want it for your family.

Now, how do I start a Gofundme for the vacation to Hawaii when this is all over…..

Originally posted at loveisviral.com

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 68: Intentional Dating with Crystal Irom

Crystal Irom is one of the top relationship coaches and experts in the world. She helps single women create happy, healthy, and loving relationships through manifesting and intentional dating.

Her signature approach is based on years of studying men, relationships, manifesting, and dating. She applied everything she learned to go from single to happily married to the love of her life within 10 months.

Crystal has worked one-on-one high-achieving women including millionaires, multi-millionaires, and celebrities and also offers online courses. She serves an audience of over 10,000 via social media and her weekly podcast Rise in Love which exists to change the narrative around 21st-century dating and relationships.

Today Crystal and I dig into the steps to manifesting love and talk at length about the importance of confidence in self and why it is important to remain receptive to love.

I LOVED this conversation. It was packed full of amazing insights and reminders as to how we can call in the love we desire and deserve.

Crystal has created an amazing gift for the Gold audience. Go to crystalirom.com/gold to Discover Your Love Type. You can also follow Crystal on Instagram @crystalirom

Today Gold is brought to you by LIV Media and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Through mindfulness and accountability offerings – including meditation, breath work, intentional living routines, challenges, and lifestyle coaching – the new LIV app will provide you with the tools, community and support you need to live your very best life, leveling up in every aspect.

LIV meets you where you are and grows with you.

For a limited time LIV is available for free for Apple iOS users. Download LIV today!

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

J

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 46: Legendary Love with Jamie Rea & Kelsey Grant

Jamie Rea and Kelsey Grant believe that true intimacy introduces us to our true selves and that we must face the depths of our own pain in order to call in legendary love. Prior to meeting, both experienced traumatic breakups and dove deep into their shadow work and personal healing. It provided them the foundation and the tools needed to create a healthy, conscious relationship. 

Jamie Rea & Kelsey Grant are love and relationship coaches, Co-Hosts of the Power Couple Podcast, as well as Co-Founders of the online relationship school The Legendary Love Academy. They’re intent on bringing you all the essential love skills you need while having loads of fun along the way. Learning doesn’t have to be lame. In fact, when it comes to learning skills for love, dating and partnership, having fun and enjoying the process only make it stick faster and more efficiently. Their mission is to honour the sacred spaces of healing, repair and old hurts while also knowing when humour, lightness and open-hearted fun are needed. 

Today Jamie, Kelsey, and I dig deep into what makes a great love relationship work, and how to create one through intention, self-awareness, and open communication. We talk about understanding our triggers and how to work through them, the the benefit of finding someone who is willing to do the work with you, and how to own the ways that you contribute to the relationship, whether good or bad.

Let’s dig in. 

Thank you for joining me today! I loved this conversation so much. I could talk about love forever. I love Jamie and Kelsey’s advice to seek for wholeness over happiness, and to meet ourselves fully within so that we may embrace the magical connection to the world around us. Remembering that self-acceptance breeds so much power, and the most valuable thing we own is our story.

You can find Jamie & Kelsey on The Power Couple podcast, at www.legendaryloveacademy.com or on IG @thelegendaryloveacademy

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites.

Today Gold is brought to you by LIV Media and I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

LIV is an app that will launch Christmas 2019. I have partnered with a team previously of Disney/Pixar who wants so deeply to use tech for good.. and we’re using tech for great. 

Through mindfulness and accountability offerings – including meditation, breath work, intentional living routines, challenges, and lifestyle coaching – LIV will provide you with the tools, community and support you need to live your very best life, leveling up in every aspect. 

LIV meets you where you are and grows with you.

I have a special VIP experience built out and planned for my Gold listeners. You guys have been on this journey with me so I can’t wait to introduce you to my baby. Don’t forget – Gold listeners will receive a free 30 day VIP experience. That means access to all of the bells and whistles by using code GOLDVIP at loveisviral.com. Join the movement.

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 45: Success and Identity In An Achievement Culture with Guy Golan

Guy Golan, Ph.D. is an executive coach who specializes in empowering clients from the highly demanding fields of medicine, tech, finance and law. He also specializes in coaching the spouses of high achieving professionals who are often the unsung heroes of their spouses’ highly demanding careers. 

Guy and I talk about the clash of identity and success in life and career. He shares that high achievers may not be able to reprogram their vision of success, but can instead create a sustainable home life through reprioritization. Guy shares the importance of quality over quantity in personal time spent and asks his clients “What are you doing when you are available?” and “What kind of energy are you bringing to the family when you have time with them?”

The #1 dynamic Guy experiences with his clients is strained relationships with their partners. He talks about the unique dynamic of the supporting spouse who has many time seen their own careers and dreams suffer, their needs being unmet, faded identity, and a feeling of disempowerment. 

Guy argues that who you marry has everything to do with who you become. Your financial future, mental well being, physical health and who your children become is dependent upon who you select to live life alongside you.

Then we nerd out on the science of identities. 

Guy Golan has published more than 45 peer reviewed journal articles in the field of media and social psychology. His research was cited nearly 4,000 times in peer reviewed academic journals. Applying research findings to the real world, Golan has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Bloomberg News and Slate Magazine.

Thank you so much for joining today. I absolutely 100% adore the notion that your partner is the power player in your life and to those singles out there worried about clocks… I hope you find some relief in the idea that you find the best person for you, not to fit someone else’s timeline. 

Connect with Guy

Website: marriedtobusy.com

Podcast: Married to Busy

As always, please subscribe to this podcast, leave a review and don’t forget to share with your friends. I’m always interested in content that uplifts, so if you have things you’d like to hear about, please share them with me in the comments. You can also find me on Instagram @ms.jeanetteschneider or Twitter @msjwrites.

Today Gold is brought to you by LIV Media and I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

LIV is an app that will launch Christmas 2019. I have partnered with a team previously of Disney/Pixar who wants so deeply to use tech for good.. and we’re using tech for great. 

Through mindfulness and accountability offerings – including meditation, breath work, intentional living routines, challenges, and lifestyle coaching – LIV will provide you with the tools, community and support you need to live your very best life, leveling up in every aspect. 

LIV meets you where you are and grows with you.

I have a special VIP experience built out and planned for my Gold listeners. You guys have been on this journey with me so I can’t wait to introduce you to my baby. Don’t forget – Gold listeners will receive a free 30 day VIP experience. That means access to all of the bells and whistles by using code GOLDVIP at loveisviral.com. Join the movement.

Until next time – in the words of my grandma, “Love each other every day.”

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

Gold with Jeanette Schneider Episode 1: Conflict, Intimacy and Relationships with Dr. Melanie Ross Mills

Welcome to Gold with Jeanette Schneider. Nuggets of inspiration for a bigger, badder life. Each week we share wisdom, insights and gold from those living their best lives.

My pilot episode is with Dr. Melanie Ross Mills, Life Strategist, Relationship & Friendship Expert, and licensed Temperament Therapist. 

Dr. Mel was in Las Vegas so we sat down in the sound studios at The Space LV to talk relationships in all their forms – partners, family or friends. We dug deep into conflict and intimacy, hashed out the difference between emotional vulnerability v emotional availability and talked love, significance and security. Dr. Mel shared her thoughts on relationships where one partner is growing and the other is not and we agreed purposeful relationships are where it is at.

Dr. Mel is also the host of the Life Bonds™ iTunes Podcast, authors Life Bonds™ Books (The Friendship Bond, The Identity Bond, and The Couples Bond), and Life Bonds™ Workshops. She has partnered with companies like Clinique® and Bank of America and is described as FOX News Radio’s “go-to” Relationship Expert.

Please subscribe to Gold, love this episode up, share it with your friends, and leave a review. It would mean the absolute world to me and the lovely guests sharing their gold every week. You can also find me at http://www.jeanetteschneider.com, on IG @ms.jeanetteschneider and on Twitter @msjwrites. I’m always on the hunt for content that uplifts, so if you have ideas or want to hear about a specific subject, leave your thoughts in the comments.

If you want to get deep in the work with me, pick up my book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

In your ears, filling your heart.

Xo,

J

You Are Precious — Letter to My Younger Self by Kim Fredrickson

Kim Age 5

It is wonderful to hear from women who believe in using their words and stories to help others. I was recently contacted by Kim Fredrickson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, with a beautiful story and a desire to spread her message of self-compassion. Kim dug in and below you will find the newest Love Letter to grace LORE. I am delighted to include her voice.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Kim Fredrickson –

KimVPCBestOrigsmall

Dear Kimmy,

You are a precious little girl. You have such a bright future ahead of you. You are likable, delightful and have a very kind heart. You are smart, hard-working and a very good friend.

You have many wonderful experiences ahead of you, enjoying life and making an impact on your world. You also have some hard times ahead, just like we all do. I’d like to encourage you to spend your time and energy on things that matter and will help you on the road ahead.

Have Fun!

Enjoy life. Do things that you enjoy, energize you and give your life. Try new things, seek out new experiences, and enjoy each day to the fullest!

Draw Close to God

God loves you and will be by your side no matter what. He created you uniquely, and He is so proud of you. Take time to get to learn about Him in the Bible, and through prayer. No matter what happens in your life, you can draw near to Him. He will help you and never leave you, no matter what.

Cultivate Your Friendships

Your friends will be a second family to you, and they will be your lifeline through thick and thin. You will have many fun and meaningful experiences with them, that will fill your heart over your lifetime. You will have struggles and misunderstandings with some friends which is normal. Do all you can to talk things through, and apologize for your part of the problem. If you feel repeatedly harmed by a friend, despite trying to work things out, you may need to say goodbye to that friendship. This is normal. Some friendships are for a season, and some for a lifetime.

Work Hard

You are very bright, and catch on quickly. Work hard at school and your future jobs. The sky is the limit for you. There will be times you will feel like a challenge is too big for you. It isn’t. Take it one piece at a time, and you will grow and succeed. The world needs what you have to offer. God has given you abilities, a compassionate heart, and a message that He wants you to share.

Work Through Your Emotions

You will go through difficult times, and have many confusing emotions. This is normal. Seek help to process your emotions, regulate them, and learn to soothe yourself when you are distressed. These skills will help you make wise decisions and stay connected to yourself. Friends, books and counselors can be great resources to help you work through the normal emotions of life. Don’t hesitate to get help when you need it.

Face into Conflict

It can be scary and difficult to deal with conflict. That’s normal. The reality is that every relationship, job and friendship will have conflicts. Learn what you think, feel and need, and share with others in ways that don’t harm you or the other person. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable during these conversations. You can work through conflict most of the time. Learn to negotiate, and stand up for yourself. You don’t deserve abuse, and can remove yourself from situations and relationships that are harming you.

Grieve Well

You may be surprised to find out that grief can be your best friend. It is God’s answer to processing loss, pain, and disappointment. You may be afraid of these intense feelings and can’t believe they are good. I know. But they are. God is an expert at grief and transitions, and He completely understands. He doesn’t expect you to have your grief processed within a certain amount of time. He is faithful to love us through difficult times.

Being able to grieve throughout your life will be a big part of getting through difficult times. Grieving difficult times will help you feel the emotions, adjust to reality, and eventually adjust to your new normal. Even with times of loss, there are still wonderful times to come.

Learn How to Forgive

Life is full of well-meaning imperfect people who will hurt you, and whom you will hurt. Work through the pain of what has happened, grieve what you are going through and seek comfort and help as needed. Learn how to forgive yourself and others. Lack of forgiveness will keep you stuck in the past and will keep you imprisoned in your pain. You’ll need to learn to forgive yourself too. It’s normal to make mistakes and hurt others and yourself in the process. You can be a good friend to yourself by forgiving yourself for being human.

Be Your Own Best Friend

The way you treat yourself has more impact on you than any other relationship in your life. Learn how to treat yourself with kindness, as you would a dear friend. Don’t allow an inner critic to be your companion. Learn how to acknowledge your mistakes without beating yourself up. Listen to your instincts and speak out about things that are important to you.

In conclusion, you are a delight! You are a precious creation with so much of life ahead of you. I know you, I know what you are made of, and I know your kind and tender heart. I hold you close to my heart, and encourage you to hold you close to yourself too.

Love Always,

Kim

Kim Fredrickson is a licensed marriage and family therapist of thirty-plus years. She loves to teach others about the power of self-compassion from a faith perspective. Kim believes that learning to advocate for yourself with kindness and compassion, just as you would for a good friend, makes living life a little easier. She is the author of Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend and Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and Your Children. She recently retired from her counseling practice when diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal lung disease that developed as a rare complication from the chemotherapy and radiation she received for breast cancer.

After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, she decided to write Give Your Kids a Break as a way to have a positive influence in the lives of her adult children and their future grandchildren. Kim wanted to help them with the challenges of parenting, when the time came. She knew she wouldn’t be around to hold her grandbabies, and help her children raise them in person. Originally it was only going to be for them. As Kim wrote, she thought others might benefit as well, so decided to self-publish it.

Kim has been married to her husband, Dave for thirty-nine years and they have two grown children. Learn more and read her blog at http://www.kimfredrickson.com She also writes a weekly patient column for Pulmonary Fibrosis News, Just Breathe…Compassionate Help for the PF Journey. Thousands of patients and their loved ones read her column all over the world.

You can find Kim on IG @kimfredrickson, Twitter @kimfredrickson, or Facebook

This Woman Is Tired: Female Competition and Her Role In The Patriarchy

 

BethanyPaigephoto-2480

There are times when issues are swirling around me, leaving me disquieted, confused, and I can’t quite put my finger on the source. I find myself tucking words, sentences and articles in the Notes function of my phone, hoping it will all make sense at some point.

But, some things don’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense that women are using their voices to out their abusers, marching in solidarity, hash tagging our support and love, and then finding ways to also hate or shame one another. I revel in all of this stripping away of silence, adore the cultural move from one of shame to one of insolence and action. I hoped it would bring us closer to one another, but was smacked by the reminder we don’t all feel the same. This week I have been, over and over again, reminded of how far we have to go.

I walked into a meeting and another powerful woman refused to look at me when I spoke. Over the course of the following four hours we spent in one another’s company she refused to acknowledge me, and then belittled me to another when I was in earshot.

I introduced myself to a woman who then gave me the once over, head to toe and back up again, shaming me for wearing a dress that shows, God forbid, I have a body. A body that was fully covered, neck to knee. I felt my shoulders collapse into one another, becoming insecure. My only sin was that I had a dress altered to fit me.

Another woman called me a curse word because she didn’t like the way I showed up in conversation.

My daughter’s step mom showed me a group text in which she was completely obliterated by a long-term friend, called unfortunate descriptors, and reminded that everyone has had a baby so she’s not that special.

None of this makes sense and for a very good reason. It is much harder to unravel cultural and social bias than it is to play along, continuing the story that sits within our bones. This is about power and the unconscious bias against women, and more specifically, powerful women. We hate women. All of us. Even those of us who believe we are die-hard feminists. We have been programmed to compete with one another for jobs, men and security and, my loves, we have to get this part right. It is easy to say you want women to succeed, but then hate the woman next to you who is vying for the same job, man or social status. It is a static within us, deeply enmeshed into the folklore of our lives. It’s time to untangle ourselves from it.

Another very large issue that has come to light is the way women choose to dress with all these claims of sexual harassment and abuse. Both men and women have asked, “If she doesn’t want to be harassed, why is she trying to be seen?”

First, and most importantly, we all want to be seen. But, what does “seen” mean to each of us in a world rife with competition? Competition led by cultural and social belief systems and served up in a neat (and devastatingly cutting) advertising bow. This hits very close to home for me and I have remained quiet while I’ve tried to wrap my head around my thoughts.

Growing up I was taught that my body was shameful. That it made men do things. So I hid it. I am a curvy woman and have been since I was sixteen. I have worn extremely loose clothes to make sure I didn’t bring about unwanted attention. As I got older and wanted a partner, I was told that I had to look sexier, wear more makeup, never let my roots show, flaunt those curves so they knew what was under those “rags.” I found a way to hint at a body, while still remaining covered up. Then I began to rise up the ranks of Corporate America. I learned that the men at the table have their own opinions of women in the room. If you are too sexy they don’t take you seriously. If you are simply attractive they don’t take you seriously. If you are anything other than a big old bookish nerd covered from head to toe, they don’t take you seriously. Then you are just brainy, but, girl, you will never get a man, you need to try harder.

What man has ever walked around with such bullshit in his head about who he has to be and how he shows up in every aspect of his life?

Dear Men, here is a little known secret: Women have to figure out who we are going to be for you every single day.

We have been told that we have to figure out how to dress so as not to get raped, sexually harassed or be considered “dumb” and unworthy of your attention. But, we also have to figure out how to be beautiful to get or keep our partner’s attention, feel confident and seen. But, not be too seen, because then we are “extra.” We’ve been told that if we don’t keep up the maintenance there is another woman in the wings waiting to take our place. We have to figure out how to express our opinions without being considered bitchy. We have to figure out how to be heard without coming across as arrogant, full of ourselves or bossy.

Men can be assertive and aggressive, bless.

Women have to be chameleons to survive.

Unraveling patriarchal and unconscious bias will not happen easily. It was created by men, but ladies we are complicit in its toxicity. It will require us to be more aware of our internal talk as we find ourselves put off by one another. It will require self awareness of not only how we view other women, but how we raise our daughters to believe they have to show up for men and for one another. Big idea? Let’s start by refusing to call one another “bitch” and talking to our girls about their power, healthy friendships and their voices.

I will not be a mean girl. I will not raise a mean girl. Say it with me.

We have so much work to do, but I have such hope. I see the glimmers of change, the conversation shifting. I just ask that we don’t let it end in the headlines and instead do the internal work to unwind the patriarchal belief that we are in competition with one another.

This woman is tired.

Xo,

J

The Best Things In Life: Moving Toward Purpose

BethanyPaigephoto-2230

“What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?

It is a question that continues to surface. I’ve answered it a thousand times, yet, again and again, when life seems difficult, it arises. I’ve included it in my book as a guidepost when understanding self, and offer it as same in workshops I’ve facilitated.

Yet, here I am again, ruminating on the same question.

At first, and much like most parents, I immediately answered, “My daughter,” when I thought about the best events or experiences in my life. Becoming Olivia’s mother, has been the best, albeit hardest, thing I’ve ever done. This little person made me a mother and a much better woman. I am calmer, more insightful, and conscious of the being I’m gifting to the world. When once asked what my job is, she told her teacher, “My mom is my guide and protector.”

Olivia knows I’m a banker and an author, but to her, my job is far more complex and soulful. I have written since I was thirteen years old, but becoming her mother created a focus I never had before. I always knew my words were powerful, but raising a girl in a world made for men gave them direction and clarity.

The next thing that came to mind was my faith. I was raised in a very religious family, but never once felt as if I was connected to the God of my childhood. Everything was rote, prayers were memorized, allegiances feigned. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties and someone asked, “Jeanette, you keep saying ‘I was taught to believe.’ What do you believe?” that I realized I had no foundation of faith.  I was stunned, “I’ve been told what to believe my entire life. I have no idea.”

I was connected to nothing. I was jealous of those who would kneel before alters or offer their supplications to a God I couldn’t wrap my head around. I wondered what it was like to have that feeling and to believe in something. Then, in a very quick span of time I lost three friends in death, one to the messiness of life, and my husband in divorce. I needed to hurt, to bleed my stories and be stripped down to the flesh and marrow before I was ready or able to fully open myself up to something bigger than me. I have often said, “I found my faith,” but it would be more correct to say that faith found me and has not let me go.

The third best thing that has ever happened to me was finding my voice. They say you pick your parents. If I did, I picked a mother who kept me small, quiet and frightened, so that I could rise above, squeak, warble and then sing. I had to be held tight, silenced and shushed so that I could truly understand the power behind the words that sit so deeply within my chest. She once asked me not to write about her when I’d posted about being raised in the shadow of addiction. Rather than fight, I asked her to allow me to own my story. She thought I was writing about her, not realizing that she gifted me this story as it was the framework of my childhood. I’d received three messages from women who were also raised by alcoholics and addicts just that day, thanking me for finding the words they themselves couldn’t. I shared that with my mother, explaining that by using my voice I’d helped someone else.

My voice, it seems, is my most powerful attribute.

I have words within my veins like lace and cobwebs. They were put there by something bigger than me and they want desperately to be seen and heard. It has been through my daughter, my faith and my voice that they have found their way out of me and onto the page, the stage and into the hearts of others.

The best things that ever happened to me brought me to my purpose.

Now tell me, what is the best thing that ever happened to you?

Xo,

J

My Dearest Livi Rabbit on Your Sixth Birthday

 

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My Dearest Livi Rabbit:

Yesterday you turned six and my heart hurt a little. In that bittersweet mom way that includes memories and pride. In that way that makes me want to wrap you up in my arms and tell you that I’ve got this, you don’t have to grow up any more, I’ll take it from here. You’ve already told me that’s not possible and I love the way you are so logical and so funny at the same time. You have the best sense of humor and dear God, girl, sense of self. I won’t have to worry about you in life. You know who you are and I promise that I will always honor that about you.

I love watching the new facets of your personality shine forth. I giggled inside when you hit the Emergency Stop button on the escalator at Dillards and then pretended you didn’t know who did it when the alarm went off. You slid your little hand in mine, your co-conspirator, eyes straight ahead as you trusted me to get you safely away without telling on you, “I won’t do that again.” I love that you trust me and oh how I hope that when you are hitting life’s Emergency buttons in the future you will trust that I’m still a soft place to land.

When you downloaded over $300 worth of Apple apps I shook my head. You very responsibly helped with chores around the house until we “paid off” your debt. Your heart hurts that I hide my passcode from your sneaky little eyes now, but we had a gorgeous conversation about responsibility and I saw how conscientious you are through and through.

I love what a big heart you have and I have adored watching you become a big sister to your dad’s new baby. Your voice becomes very soft and nurturing when you talk to him. You have a maternal quality about you and he is very lucky to have you. You will be the most important influence in his life and I know this because I know you. You leave little pieces of yourself with everyone you touch.

The other night you crawled into bed with me because your growing pains were keeping you up. You snuggled your head into my neck and told me I smelled like lavender before your breathing slowed and you fell asleep. I felt a tear slide down my cheek as I remember a very specific night in your nursery when you were only a few months old. I had just slathered lavender lotion on you, fed you a bottle and swaddled you. You dug your little upturned nose into my neck and made the same little sweet sounds as you breathed deeply at first and then fell asleep. I know these moments will be fewer and farther between, but I will always be here to comfort you, lavender or not.

As I told you the morning you were born – I will always choose you. I will always be here to advocate for you, hold you, help you, be your biggest cheerleader and safety net. I will try to do it in a thoughtful way so that you are wise and prepared when you experience the bad things we all have to in order to grow. When those lessons and heartbreaks come your way, I will be there with bandaids, snacks, be it Goldfish or wine, and a soul’s worth of support. You will never doubt that you can slide your little hand in mine.

You, my love, are so bright. You have the world awaiting you and I adore your strength, your voice, your inquisitive nature. You have pure light running through your veins. I am truly honored to be your mother. Thank you for picking me.

Love you to the moon and back, bigger than the Universe, deeper than the Ocean and more than chocolate or shoes,

Mom

 

 

 

 

 

Keep An Open Heart

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We took a selfie one day, giggling in the snow. The snowflakes stayed in tact when they landed in her soft curls while my hair looked every bit wet dog. It’s an image, a moment, I can’t find in my phone, but forever burned in my brain.

We’d ski, drink spiked hot chocolate and share crazy stories. There were so many trips, date nights and dinners in pajamas with glasses of wine. Our friendship was one of ease and in the past few weeks I have seen her everywhere. In the profile of a woman at a conference in Salt Lake. In dark curls bouncing through a crowd. The freckles in someone else’s Instagram post. I randomly found myself in the same restaurant we were in during a blizzard in Utah. I ordered her favorite salad without even realizing that’s what it was until it was placed in front of me.

What are you trying to tell me, Briar?

I hold enormous guilt. You see, we had a falling out before she died. I was there for her the day she was diagnosed with brain cancer and I was there for a long while. When she first fell into a coma her husband and I walked behind the bed the surgeons were wheeling her away in as we clutched each other and cried the big tears that you don’t wipe away. Then I went through a divorce and stories were twisted and I saw how the pain of my breakup was hurting her. After I shared my tearful side of the story I heard her sob after she thought I’d hung up the phone. I felt selfish. She was undergoing hardcore chemo and radiation therapies and I was talking about my problems. I decided not to talk to her about it anymore.

She tried to get us back together. She begged. She asked me to keep an open heart, to listen to her, to accept a marriage intervention of sorts. I stopped talking to her altogether because I was in pain. I was hurting and I was hurting her and it was easier to hide inside myself. So I did. She sent me emails, texts. I explained that it was hard to see her because I knew she was spending time with my ex and that we used to be couple friends. That I just needed some time to get over everything.

I didn’t have time.

She didn’t have time.

My ex husband called me almost two years ago, “Jeanette, Briar is dying and you are going to regret it if you don’t see her.”

The doctor had determined it was the end. She had maybe a week and I immediately left the office and went straight over to her house. I felt her in my chest as soon as I entered the room. It almost knocked me over. Her pastor and several friends were sitting with her while I wished them away. I finally realized they were there for her and whatever was about to transpire. They knew our rift was the last thing she had to resolve so were firmly planted, no excuses.

I took a deep breath to steel myself, “I have to say this….” The room got incredibly quiet, “Briar, I was never mad at you.”

She immediately started crying, “I know.”

“I was hurting and I was so broken and I didn’t want to talk to you about it. I was losing my family and never once was I ever mad at you. Never once. I need you to know that.”

Now, in hindsight, I realize I probably could’ve included another sentence or three, “I knew I was losing you as well. I was too weak to handle all of that loss at the same time. I’m a jerk.”

We both sat there crying, softly sobbing and nodding. No more words needed to be said and before long her pastor asked if he could say a prayer.

Briar lost consciousness soon after my visit and passed away several days later.

Sometime before that day and between the emails, texts and tears, I shared the biggest gift she ever gave me and I know it filled her heart. She brought me back to faith. I’d forgotten the God of my childhood and I found some semblance of him; different, more amenable and forgiving, in the prayers that came after Briar’s first seizure. I thanked her for helping me find the courage to give something bigger than me a chance again.

At her funeral her mother and I locked eyes and moved directly into each others arms, crying. I apologized through sobs and she shushed me, “She loved you so much. That was her unfinished business. You helped her let go. Thank you.”

I felt guilty for my tears, guilty that I was mourning someone I’d abandoned. I didn’t feel deserving of my grief or time with Briar before she passed. I ran from the loss rather than facing it head on. I also didn’t know that I was still carrying all of this with me until this past week.

When I saw flickers of my friend in the life of others.

I’d like to believe she was sending me a message. That she’s ok. That she’s at peace. That WE are at peace and all is forgiven. I don’t think she’d say it exactly that way. I’m pretty sure it would be like, “I’ve seen your tears. Cut that shit out. We’re good. Have you seen my wings? They’re ridiculous.”

She’d probably have a beer in hand.

Say the things you need to say to the people you love. Say them before you can’t. Forgive like its your job. Love them when they’re in front of you. Love them hard.

And, in the words of my friend, “Keep an open heart.”

Miss you Briar.

xo