Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Each morning

Post by Taralee Hurff for the Kind Kindred series.

photo courtesy of photologue_np on Flickr

Each morning that we wake up, stretch our bodies and put two feet on the floor is a gift. We have the ability to decide at that moment if we will choose a smile or a frown, happiness or sadness, or positivity versus negativity. I choose with each morning that I am gifted to be grateful, to put a smile on my face, to be happy and to choose positivity Some mornings are easier than others to make these choices, but I know I can get through any day better by starting off this way. If I can’t talk myself into it on a given morning before getting out of bed then in my bathroom there is a reminder taped to the mirror. It reads, “I am grateful for today, for my life, for my body, for my children, for my husband, for my family and loved ones and for the ability to be of service. Thank you, Thank you, Thank You.” On a good morning I add to that list and on a rough morning I stick with the script.

I am ready to tackle the day and armed with gratefulness. This sounds wonderful right? It is and this mindset can manifest so many incredible things in your everyday life. Making it even more powerful is truly feeling and exuding this through every fiber of your being. Create the smiles, happiness and positive presence throughout your day for yourself and those around you. Happiness attracts happiness. I practice this everyday but let me share with you my biggest hurdle. There are times when I struggle to stay in my happy and positive mindset when the actions of others are the exact polar opposite; when someone else chose to wear a frown, chose sadness or anger, and chose negativity which they then project onto me simply because I am there or because I crossed their path at a bad moment. It is like a fight or flight response to being attacked. I know I should rise above the attack. I know that if I do I can have the control to diffuse the situation, walk away or at least be calm enough to make a better choice than attacking back in a manner that I will most likely regret later. My inner voice is there reassuring me that I don’t deserve to be treated this way and that I have the control, I just need to be aware and present enough to act on it accordingly.

When I am dealing with this with a stranger or someone whom I know is in a bad space, going through a difficult time or just needs to unload in order to move beyond that block, I can manage my response with ease. I can take that step back and recognize it isn’t really about me or an attack on me. I see there is a deeper hurt or need for their actions. On the other side I can see they are just simply unhappy/angry/negative and it is what it is. I get through the interaction, reset myself, say a prayer and keep moving along with my day in the way I woke up and intended for it to be. The struggle for me is when it is a family member or another loved one who attacks for the sake of attacking. Instead of dealing with whatever they have going on they attack on whoever hits the trigger, a trigger that most often is something completely random that just rubs them the wrong way at that moment. World War III ensues and now I am enveloped in a confrontation because I am being attacked, even if I know there was something underlying that waged the war. I go into protect mode. I struggle to rise above in these situations that are fortunately not an everyday occurrence. But when they do occur, the aftermath lingers for days as I question my behavior, their behavior, what was said, who meant what…you get the idea right? Have you been there? I think most people have at one time or another. It sucks the energy and positive vibes right out from me. I have to force myself to stay on track. I literally repeat positive mantras to myself while I work through the emotions.

Above all else, I have learned there is no other way to firmly get back on track with being happy and positive and wearing that genuine smile if I cannot forgive the person and myself. There needs to be a peace treaty in my heart. Sometimes this can happen quickly and other times it takes time to work through it, but in the end forgiveness can save relationships and it will lessen the weight of the load you carry. We must accept when we are wrong, but not take the blame for others’ actions. We can only be responsible for ourselves. Apologize for what you need to and then find peace in the forgiveness you have given them and yourself. Forgiveness is not always easy and forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget. Forgiveness does free your heart and your mind of the negative, the sadness or anger and takes away the frowns. I can tell you that in some cases I actually end up being grateful. Grateful to have learned something from that moment and grateful to be armed with more awareness for the next time I am confronted with a similar war.

I want to be the one who can bring peace into these moments of chaos. I am not able to do that without forgiveness, without knowing my faults, without accepting all of me, without accepting others and without learning from all the interactions in life. Life will present me wars that will leave shrapnel behind, but I will still treat each day as a gift and be grateful. I will choose smiles, happiness and positivity. I hope that you will too.

Taralee received a dual Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology and Criminal Justice from Moravian College. She received her Special Education Teacher certification from DeSales University. Taralee is a NJ certified Teacher of the Handicapped, and has been working in the home and school settings for over 15 years. Taralee is currently President of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Regional New Jersey Early Intervention Collaborative, she is serving in her fourth year as a Board member. 
Taralee’s most important job is raising her three creative and inquisitive children (ages 9, 7, and 4) in Southern NJ. 
Taralee's book "100 Things To Do Before You Are 10" was published in April 2014. 
Please visit her Facebook page or send an e-mail for ordering information.
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Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunshine all the time makes a desert

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Sunny beaches are my happy place. They're my first choice for vacation and somewhere that I feel EXACTLY how I want to feel; yet I've often wondered if I would appreciate them as much if I lived there. If I never knew rain or clouds or storms or snow again, would I somehow stop appreciating sunshine? Would I long for the quiet snow covered ground? Would I crave a heavy thunderstorm that knocks out the power?

The truth is that I'm not going to have to worry about any of those questions anytime soon! I plan to continue living in a place that has 4 seasons, crazy storms, and as much as it makes me cranky these days...snow.

I feel the same way about joy. I wonder...if I lived in a constant state of blissful joy, would I still appreciate it?

OK, clearly I don't have to worry about the answer to that question, either...but it does make me think.

The first sunny day after a long, cloudy winter, feels so much more incredible to me than the 10th sunny day in a row.

The first joyful day after a long funk, evokes so much more gratitude in me than the 10th consecutive day of feeling good.

I was talking to a new friend early last week, and we were comparing notes on a little mini-funk we were both experiencing. We told each other that it would pass, we needed to take care of ourselves, etc. All the true things you tell yourself, but don't really connect to. Later in the week, the mutual mini-funk had passed, and it was like the first day on a sunny beach. The gratitude for my joy after some emotional clouds, was intense.

So, while it's always nice to dream of living on a sunny beach and feeling constant bliss, for me, right now, I'm choosing to send some love to the clouds. Without them, I may not appreciate the sun.

Thanks for being on the journey with me.

❤, Lara

CLICK TO TWEET Sunshine all the time makes a desert.
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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Twilight Life

The ancient path of mud and moss
With myriad trodden stories sleeps
In paddles squashed
The stolen alms of darker skies
Are washed by heavy boots
That crunch the twigs in dying grass
With swollen feet and sinking eyes
That close
The moaning of the clouds in prose
Ashamed of steady poles – the sound
Of light in fighting colours
Finds and binds the night in sight
To follow deeper down the drowned
Abyssal journey of the Sun
In chasms lost in time and space,
But leaves the shadow of a face.

Adriano Bulla, a servant of Calliope, was born in Italy and lives in London. He has been publishing books since 2005, when his first collection of poetry, Ybo' and Other Lies hit the shelves; he has since published a surreal and unusual novel, The Road to London, which mixes poetry and prose, a collection of short stories, Tales for the Free Mind and Open Heart and a second book of poetry, Queer Poems, he has also published a study on Dante and Coleridge and a grammar book. His constant search for new and innovative forms in Literature, intense and unusual imagery has been accompanied by a growing awareness of social and psychological issues.
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Letter to Myself on My 41st Birthday

Post by Anna Davison for the Love for Love series.

photo courtesy of erin leigh mcconnell on Flickr

Dear Anna,

41 years, you! It’s a bit unbelievable that you have been on this earth for 41 years. Looking back, there have been so many things you worried about needlessly. There were so many times you missed the moment because you were thinking about the past or stressing about the future. Sweetheart, let’s not do that for the next 41 years, OK? Can we agree on that? Good.

In an effort to put things in perspective, let’s reflect on some of life’s major moments and the difference a little time makes in our understanding of things. Here is what I would say, if I could turn back the clock and talk to you.

To myself at 5: It isn’t your fault he is leaving. This event is going to define so much of your personality. You are going to spend the next 40 years secretly believing that nobody will ever be willing to take care of your feelings or love you enough not to hurt you. This belief will cause you so much pain. It also means you will always care about other people's feelings more than you care about your own. If there is one thing I could change – just one thing – it would be this moment. I wish I could hold you in my arms and tell you, “You are perfect, little Annie. Your feelings matter. You are so very lovable. And it is not your fault he is leaving.” Then I wouldn't let go until you believed me.

To myself at 11: You are not a birdbrain, no matter what husband #2 says. The only thing I can tell you is that even though it hurts, you are going to use this as motivation to make sure you are wicked smart. You will overcompensate, but I can’t say it will be a bad thing. That drive is going to serve you very, very well in life. Oh, and he won’t be any concern for you after you're 19. She's going to divorce again and husband #3 is a keeper with a heart of gold. Hang in there.

To myself at 19: Six months after your 19th birthday, you are going to be engaged. You crazy girl! You’re just young, in love and marriage sounds like such a great idea. (Sigh.) A year later, you will wake up and realize this may not actually be what you want. You will make the bravest decision of your life (so far) and leave to go to San Diego State. I can’t even tell you how proud I am of that decision. Calling off the engagement was scary because it felt selfish. It was about time for a little selfishness! The move to San Diego is going to put you on a whole new course and I’m so happy that you took care of yourself for a change.

To myself at 23: The guy of your dreams is right in front of you. What are you waiting for? Dump the idiot you’re dating - NOW. (Sigh. Again.) Oh well, the good news is that great guy is going to wait for you. The year you spend being friends, and trying to set him up with your girlfriends, will pay off because it will give your relationship a solid start. You will both laugh about it on your wedding day.

To myself at 25: You are married and a full-time stepmom now. You are doing such a great job, but the secret you won’t admit to anyone is your fear that you will always somehow be second best. She isn't ever going to come back and try to be a parent to them and you won't ever understand why. You worry that even though day in and day out you are doing all the work of a mom, and you love them with all of your heart as a mom, they will still somehow always love her more. You are so ashamed of these feelings, honey. You feel so insecure about your role sometimes and you work so hard to be a perfect parent. The truth is that nobody can be perfect.

I wish I could tell you to just be you. Just love them. It is all going to work out. You wouldn't believe me, but there will come a day when you will never even think of these feelings. Ever. These moment and any thoughts of her will be some distant memory to you – no longer any part of your life.

These hard times are the fire that is tempering the steel of your family. The hours and days of caring for them, guiding them, and parenting them will turn into a love for each other that is going to be stronger than anything you can imagine. Biology doesn't matter; it's all about the love and nurturing you give them.

To myself at 28: Babies are really difficult. Please, please don’t be so hard on yourself. Stop and enjoy this. Take in his smell, enjoy lazy days at the park, and don’t go back to work for a while longer. You are doing fine. Enjoy the time with this little guy and stop trying to schedule and control everything. Relax a little!

To myself at 30: You aren't very happy right now and you and the hubby are pretty much fighting like cats and dogs, but it isn't the end of the world. You will fall back in love with him – I promise. Raising toddlers and teenagers is tough business. Keep going to marriage counseling. The sooner you can both learn some better skills, the better off you are going to be.

Oh, and make sure you go spend more time with you sister. She isn't going to live in San Diego forever and you are going to kick yourself that you didn't spend more time with her when she lived here. I don't care that you are busy and she is busy. You are going to wish you made time for what matters.

To myself at 35: I am so proud of you for being brave and taking the new job. It was scary, but you are trusting your instincts and it is going to be amazing. You are going to learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of. This change is going to lead to amazing things for you. You are going to wonder if you can really do it all. You CAN. Pat yourself on the back.

To myself at 38: You’re going to uncover a lot of old pain this year. It’s going to hurt. Keep breathing. Be gentle with yourself. This year is going to prove that you are stronger than you know. You’ve been a people-pleaser for a long time. That won’t change overnight. In many ways, you are just waking up. It’s a hard process. Be patient. It won’t hurt like this forever.

And today, to myself at 41: When challenges come in the future, can you please keep reminding yourself that these things aren’t as big, or as bad, as they seem at the time? Take comfort in the loving family and amazing friends you have in your life. Keep taking risks and being brave. Oh – and when it gets hard, ask yourself what the 80 year old Anna would say to you. I bet she will have some good advice.

In the meantime, keep meditating and do more yoga. Do whatever you can to be present in each moment and enjoy your life. You’ve earned it.

Love always,

Anna Davison has always been a fierce lover of written words. She studied American Literature in college and her favorite book is Kate Chopin's "The Awakening". She tries to quiet her busy mind with daily meditation, yoga and running. She is inspired by the bravery of others in sharing their stories. She is particularly in awe of the power of connection that comes when we are vulnerable and open about our pain and our triumphs.
She lives in San Diego, CA with her family.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Change vs Transformation

Post by Renee Avard for the Kind Kindred series.

photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Hearing the word change creates anxiety in me while transformation sparks an incredible joy in my heart.

So many factors of Life do in fact change. A job change, moving, or rearranging your schedule is change. Change makes it seem as though what you just went through is wrong and should be forgotten. This whole process can be hard and uncomfortable but necessary. Change also signals short-term. I am always hearing “do not worry, things will change.” I fell into that trap before with an ex of mine. I kept thinking that if so and so happened, change would occur until I finally realized it was not change I actually needed. I needed a complete overhaul. I want to make sure you know that I do not think change is bad. I welcome change (and sometimes I am not so friendly about it), but it is a part of this human experience It was a complete transformation that I really was looking for.

Transformation implies permanence. It does not treat the past as wrong. It just transforms it and assists in creating the person you are today. It can make the past easier to comprehend and learn from. It can also open up all sorts of opportunities now and give you hope for the future. Once it all makes sense to me, then I know I am on the right track.

Opportunities will only be presented to you when you are ready. The only way to know you are ready is that 'feeling' you get deep down that says to go for it; that you are at the point where that is possible. That is Spirit and you. That is what most people forget. You know yourself better than anyone else. So, why would you even think of questioning yourself? So, before you go and try to change others or even certain situations, please work on the most important person first: yourself. And, always listen intently to your heart whispers and soul echoes; you are being guided to personal transformation.

The awakening of your soul is such a private and personal experience and this major transformation cannot be undone. Once you go through that, you are done with the way it was before, whereas change means that you can always take it back or make a different choice. Change often keeps people stuck. It is so easy to just redo things or change things around, which threatens the validity of the action in the first place. So, for me: transformation = permanence and change = temporary.

As for me, I have gone through many changes and transformations alike. I have gone through various jobs, cars, places to live, relationships of all kind and even the type of juice I am drinking at the time. I accept myself and all of the varying things that are going on at any given time. I accept that I am capable of undergoing a complete transformation when needed and I know that if a major change comes my way, I am well-equipped to handle it.

“Very often, a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.” – Arthur Christopher Benson

Change is inevitable. There will always be something going on and whether you are on board with it or not, the change is still going to take place. As for transformations, you will know when you are on the brink of a major one and just ride it out. Let it take you to the stars and back. Breathe everything in and smile because you are right where you are supposed to be.

Published author and eclectic Earth-Based Spiritualist, Renee Avard-Furlow,“Unique-tivity Guide",focuses on bringing out the unique and creative side each person already has inside them. By offering guidance to restore harmony she shows all how can allow their Star inside to lighten Life outside. She brings in and imparts wisdom and whimsy leading an amazing truth: we are ALL worth catching. 
She can be found Online and on Facebook.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I'm better than you

Post by Claire McCarthy for the Love for Love series.

printable typography art made by WishfulPrinting on Etsy

That might be a bold statement, but it’s true.

If there is something you want, regardless of what it is, chances are you are competing with someone or something to accomplish it.

Competition is healthy when it drives us to do better, push further and conquer more. When we can look at a co-worker, friend or peer and say, if they can do it, so can I! This is SO possible. This is SO happening. It can give us that extra oomph to complete a task or take on a new project.

As women, we compete for the promotion, for starting position on the team, for the guy, for the opportunity, for the gig. We compete in the boardroom, bedroom, and classroom. We compete even when we don’t even realize we’re competing. We’re sneaky like that, aren’t we?

Competition is also destructive. It can paralyze us as we compare our career, appearance, relationship status, education, possessions (or lack thereof) and fuel fears of inadequacies while wreaking havoc to our self-esteem and self-worth.

It can cause us to change for others in an attempt to fit in a neat package, box or mold. Maybe it’s unattainable perfection in body, mind or relationship that you seek (thank you mainstream media). Whatever it is, it’s exhausting, that keeping up with the girl next door and Jones’ business and a competition that cannot be won.

Fortunately, your fight is not with others, it’s with yourself, and that’s a fight you can win.

There are thousands upon thousands of coaches and entrepreneurs in my field. My competition, if you will. So how do I win? It’s rather simple actually. What separates me from my peers, competitors and colleagues? While we have similar, if not the same, training but no one can be ME and have my unique background, big personality, no BS, straight talking approach, personal style, insight and stories, accompanied by a never-ending stream of sarcasm and quirks. Me, in all my awkward glory.

So what makes you amazing? Not compared to others amazing, just because you’re you amazing. Chances are you’re not the one and only person in your profession or organization or institution that does what you do. But the way you do it…well, that’s a different story baby. Are you known for your diligence, attention to detail, upbeat can do attitude regardless of circumstance? Do you sing when you concentrate? Do you dress for the job you want, not the one you have? Do you smile at strangers and make everyone feel welcome? Are you reliable, innovative, and resourceful? Others might be able to do your job or have your business or career, but no one will ever be you in the way that they do it!

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland.

I’m better than you…at being me!

You’re better than me…at being you!

In February 2008, I was busy living my version of the American dream when my life changed in the blink of an eye. My daughter Peyton died followed by the almost immediate disintegration of my 10-year marriage and the death of my father just a year later.
I was a wreck. Devastated, out of work, penniless, overweight, depressed and hopeless, facing the toughest 5 years of my life.
I became a Certified Professional Coach and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist to help others navigate life after loss and rebuild their lives. 

I make my home in gorgeous North Scottsdale, AZ with my rock star son. Doing my darndest to raise a young man of integrity while navigating life after death and divorce. 
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