Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5 things that might make you happier

This is not an essay on 5 ways to be happy, because happiness is truly a choice. You can't read an article on happiness, and suddenly be happier. Nope, you alone must do then do the work. I'm simply going to suggest some tried and true ways that can create more happiness. Maybe you are already doing some or all. Maybe you could use some help. I share this with you, because I want to live one of my most favorite quotes ever, by Roger Egbert:

"I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try.”

  • Listen To Yourself More And The Outside Less
We become so conditioned to do what we think we are supposed to do, and think what we are supposed to think, that sometimes we don't even remember how to listen to our insides. Man, I've been there, and that's scary. Who are we, if not a collection of our genuine needs, thoughts and wants? Sometimes we've kept our inner voice on mute for too long. So listen for that whisper. Listen to when your body says you are tired. Pay attention to the times that something gives you a sick feeling and you can't put your finger on why. Your insides- HATE to be ignored. And when you do- you physically end up feeling bad. How many of us suffer from SO many of the things on this list? It's not ok. You don't have to figure out and fix everything at once. For now, simply pay attention to how you feel throughout the day. Keep a log. What stresses you out most? When are you most calm?

  • Surround Yourself With People Who Lift You Up. 
Who you hang out with matters. Spend time with people who cherish you. Who want to spend time with you too. People who encourage your success and passion. People who throw a rope to help you out of a bad place. Most importantly- BE THAT PERSON TOO. It feels so good to help others. Steer clear of negative assholes intent on teaching you how to be like them. THEY SUCK. Ever heard of mirror neurons? They are fascinating. In the early 1990s, researchers made an astonishing and unexpected discovery.  They had implanted electrodes in the brains of several macaque monkeys to study the animals’ brain activity during different motor actions, including the clutching of food. One day, as a researcher reached for his own food, he noticed neurons begin to fire in the monkeys’ premotor cortex—the same area that showed activity when the animals made a similar hand movement. How could this be happening when the monkeys were sitting still and merely watching him? During the ensuing two decades, this serendipitous discovery of mirror neurons—a special class of brain cells that fire not only when an individual performs an action, but also when the individual observes someone else make the same movement—has radically altered the way we think about our brains and ourselves, particularly our social selves. Our body has the ability to feel and mirror what others are doing. Be around good people.

  • Say NO More
Especially things you do because of guilt or obligation. Things that don't fill you up. It's so important to figure out what means the most to you in life. If you had to name the top 3-5 things in your life, what would they be? So often we find ourselves naming things that we aren't consistently contributing towards. We must do in action instead of simply say in words. What three words do you want used to describe your character on your obituary? (Mine are encouraging, genuine and loving) Write them down, put them on a post it and put it on your mirror or in your car. Make more choices that contribute towards who you want to be and what means most to you. Let some of the other stuff slide.

  • Go On An Inspiration Diet.  
No, no, no- this has nothing to do with eating kale. (You're welcome.) But if you like kale- eat away. An Inspiration Diet has to do with things besides food that you feed your body with. Ingest good books and positive messages. Pay attention to what you read, what you watch and what you think about. Pay attention to how you feel after doing those activities. Most importantly, pay attention to how you talk to yourself. Author of the book, Hustle, Joshua Medcalf says, "At some point in my life I realized my story was mine. I realized that the story I told myself about myself matters greatly. Most importantly, I realized that while I have very little control over what happens to me, I have 100% control over the meaning I give it. It's amazing to me how often people use this narrative to brainwash themselves into believing the worst possible story about themselves.

  • Take care of YOU. 
Life is crazy, and there is never enough time to do everything that matters, but you must find time to take care of yourself. Chances are, no one else is going to do it for you. One thing that I do NOT skimp on is taking care of myself. When I don't- I am not ok. I'm a bad mom, wife, human and friend. How do I do this? I wake up before the rest of my family so I have time to breathe, drink coffee, and mentally prepare for the day ahead. These moments have become sacred to me, and the best way to start the day on a good note. I also make sure I have at least one thing scheduled week to look forward to. This may be coffee or a walk with a friend, or a girl's night out. It doesn't have to be anything big. But human interaction- non-kid and non-work related is needed by every one of us. It gives more than it takes from our day.

I also work out at least four days a week. I need endorphins more than most people I know. If I have gone a few days without getting exercise I feel foggy and anxious. Endorphins trigger positive feelings in the body, similar to that of morphine. I am prone to anxiety and depression, and regular exercise helps keep those monsters away. Sometimes when I'm in the middle of a funk, even going for a walk feels impossible. Same days I just can't. But some days I can and do. Even a 15 minute walk around my neighborhood can work MAGIC. I get out of the prison of my mind, I think my problems out logically- instead of just spinning them around on a loop. I am a NEW person when I reenter my house. 

Lastly, just for bonus points, look at these pictures. GUARANTEED to make you actually feel some happy right now...

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Scenes from the pool today.

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So here they are. I work on happy DAILY, because it's important to me. We weren't put on earth to feel miserable. Do the hard work, add some happy to your life. The work is worth the reward.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I'll stop the world and melt with you

You've seen the difference and it's getting better all the time 

And there's nothing you and I won't do

I'll stop the world and melt with you 

It was so hard for Grey to get up and start Mondaying yesterday. Hard for me too; I danced several rounds with snooze. We didn't brush teeth or hair. We made it to school five minutes later than usual which was enough to throw both Greyson and me off. 

Encourager. It's my favorite, and hardest roll as a parent. I get down on my knees and look into his fleeting eyes, tears forage a path down his cheeks as he begs to get back in bed. Yes, you can do this buddy. I know you are sad, and boy do I know it's hard. But you are so good at life. So good at this. So good at Mondays, simply because you've made it through every single one you've ever encountered. 

I was happy that impatience wasn't around, sometimes, especially on Mondays it likes to hang out. On this day though, there was only love. I wiped away his tears and I hugged him tight. 

Parenting is encouraging them, when you could use a little encouragement of your own. 

It's filling them when you feel empty. 

It's feeding them when you are hungry.

It's all so draining...and so filling at once.

Juxtaposition: noun the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect. I've always been in awe of the juxtaposition of the world. And even the world juxtaposition that seems to convey its very own meaning. So smooth, chaotic, jagged, contrasting. 

Children are so strong, so fragile. Layers of therapy required to undo pain caused in childhood. So often a pain that never really goes away. Children are so strong, making it through autism, divorce, abuse, death, pain.

This morning I drove Greyson to school with the seat heaters and AC on. Juxtaposition. The sun was out at its brightest, auditioning for Summer. Modern English- I Melt With You, was on the radio. 

Dream of better lives the kind which never hate

Trapped in a state of imaginary grace

I made a pilgrimage to save this humans race

Never comprehending a race that's long gone by 

Because of him, I now wince at loud noises, vicariously feeling his pain. I get overstimulated easier. I can hardly handle itchy shirt tags, I can't focus when they are bothering me.

Because of him, I also see beauty in the sunroof. 

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God, it's breath taking... The hum of it opening, the ease and predictability of the buttons. In an instant, the whole world spilling into our car. The calm of wide open spaces surrounds us, and the air dances quickly inside. I see beauty in watching cars drive by, in steam dancing off of a hot pan, in items lined up, perfectly in a row. The very beginning of waves rippling on an otherwise still pool. The world is so beautiful, I can hardly stand it.


So much beauty. Everywhere. So much pain.

This is life.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

the beauty of pain

Sometimes I don't remember my life before parenthood. Or my life before special needs. I have to remind myself I'm only five years in. I know I was the same before, at least I think I was. But also so incredibly different. I don't know how the two can coexist, but it's true. I think adversity in life enhances qualities that were already there. 

Most days, I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm willing to figure it out as I go along. Each new stage brings with it different challenges, different lessons, different things I realize I know NOTHING about. But this is my journey and I am lucky to learn it and live it.

Every so often, I am shocked with the truth of the world. A truth of an "us versus them" mentality. A truth I want to change. My boys are not them. THERE IS NO THEM. There is only us. The other day this truth was brought to my attention in an interaction concerning Grey...with an adult. A thinking I may have expected or felt better prepared to address if coming from a child. And my soul was bruised. My husband Michael travels for work each week, and I was alone. Soon after a babysitter got to our house that evening, I went into my car and I cried. I sat in my driveway crying. The tears fell like a thunderstorm and wouldn't stop. I felt helpless. I wanted to do something, anything. So I wrote the following and shared it on our Facebook page

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This is my son Greyson. By most people's standards he is not an easy kid. Grey has autism. He does not always follow directions the first time you ask, or even on the tenth. He will challenge you. He's stubborn, so you really have to think on your toes to out-stubborn or teach him, but it can be done. And when you are able to reach him and connect, it feels like the warm golden sunshine is shining just for you.

Grey does not sit quietly or nicely. He makes ticking and humming noises that sound funny to people who are not used to them. He may bump into you mistakenly. He's not always aware of what his body is doing. He won't play games with you or take an interest in what you are doing- (unless of course this is Lightning McQueen reading this). And lately Grey yells. A lot. A loud, disarming kind of yell. A yell that fills me with the same kind of anger you might feel after you stub your toe. I imagine if I had autism and could not speak- but desperately wanted to - I would probably yell too. A lot. We are working so hard to give him the tools to express himself in ways more socially acceptable, so he can feel less frustrated. Life isn't easy for him.

All parents want their children to be loved and accepted. But when you have a child with special needs, there is also a burning fear that they won't be. There will be times you see this happen first hand and you can feel it crush your lungs and the shiniest parts of your soul.

We all say we love and accept people who are different. And I think we mean it. It's so easy to love people in words, but so much harder to do so in action. Because there's usually an unspoken parenthesis after saying "I love and accept all people." A parenthesis that says- as long as I am not disrupted or inconvenienced. As long as you follow my same morale compass. As long as you don't look different. As long as I don't have to invite you to my birthday party. As long as I do not have to hire you. As long as I don't have to sit next to you. As long as I understand why you do what you do. As long as you do not make me feel uncomfortable.

But as a Momma, these parenthesis turn my heart inside out. I wish so desperately that God had made ME different instead of Grey. That God had granted him my voice. In the darkness of night I wake up and pray for a world that will genuinely include my son in this one life he's been given. It's not his fault that he is the one that is different. I wish making the world a more accepting place was like writing a term paper - and I could stay up all night and do whatever it takes to make that happen.

But instead, here I sit here with swollen, sobbing eyes doing the only thing I can do. Share my heart and my words to give you just a glimpse. And beg you to love different in action, not just in words. Grey's different has made me into a better person than I ever could have been on my own. You may just find yourself learning huge and beautiful things about the world by letting a little different into your life too.
Greyson's Mom

It took me a couple of days to feel right again. I had to do something I am quite awful at- I had to feel my bad feelings. It felt like a feelings flu. I couldn't side step or silver line them, I couldn't ignore them. I couldn't look on the bright side, or understand the underlying lesson. I simply had to feel them and ache. That was the only way to move forward.

My message was shared over 500 times and reached almost 130,000 people. I am so grateful to all of you for your love, your comments, and your help in sharing the message that there is no US versus THEM. Together I believe we can change the world. 

Sometimes pain slowly molds its way into knowledge and beauty. You just have to be wiling to wait.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

whispers from God

Some magical scenes from our backyard tonight...

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I asked God to help me provide words to those of you struggling...these are for you. 

I am so proud of you. What you are doing isn't easy, but it's right. Most people couldn't do what you are doing. You are not most people. Wade through the agony of the in between. Why do you think you need to know all the answers right now? That's a lie your mind tells yourself.

All you need to know is today. Today you can do.

You think you are not the right person for this job, that you are not cut out for it. I picked you because you are perfect for it actually. TRUST ME. You are so good at it. Give yourself a chance. You can't see how beautiful your story is, because you are telling yourself lies. Tell yourself a better story. Pretend that I wrote every word of your current life into existence on purpose- because it's true. Don't ask why me. Figure it out- why you. Why I chose you to
live this tale. Be proud of your story. Not because it's easy or perfect or all good, but because it's real. Because you can go to bed every night and say "I tried. I loved. I do what I hope is right."

That is enough. You are enough. Even in the places you feel empty. Even in the places you feel like too much.

Sometimes loving causes more pain than pain can. Loving can ache and twist and turn your gut inside out. Put your hand on the outside of your heart. It's still there, it's beating. Welcome to your life. I knew I could trust you with this story. I am so proud of you.

You are allowed to be frustrated and angry at times. You do not need my permission to be human. Human away. Big things are required to make big change. You did nothing wrong. Feel no shame, no regrets, no fear, no intimidation. I will guide you daily. Listen for me.

Make no mistake, this will be uncomfortable. You will learn new skills from this journey. You will find enough courage for the day each day. You do not believe its in there, but trust me, it is.

I made you. I know. I put it in there.

Don't look for normal. Look for your normal- it's different than you expected. Be faithful to the process, but surrender the outcome. Do not think about tomorrow. Do not think about the past if it makes you sad. Just live in this moment. And in this moment, you are ok. Dig deep and find the courage and strength that's already there. I promise you will laugh again.

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(thank you so much for this incredible sign, JB. It's God's work on earth.xoxo)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

mother's day 2016

Being a mom is the greatest...

The greatest love. The greatest pain. The greatest fear. The greatest joy.

Being a mom is eating broken chips and burned waffles. A half of a chicken nugget and three random fries. Its sleeping with one eye open for the rest of your life. It's wishing it was you that was sick instead of them. It's nails that are not always painted and hair with inches of roots. It's their favorite places turning into your own. It's a reminder to get dirty, to touch the earth, to notice the details, to take your time.

Scenes from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo today.
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It is not a coincidence that mom is a wow upside down.

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Wow this is amazing. Wow, this is hard. Wow, I'm not cut out for this. Wow, I don't even know what this is. Wow, I never knew life could be this good, this hard, this graceful, this chaotic. 

Being a mom is so wow.

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Being a mom is being happy when they are.Being a mom is getting excited to buy shoes, that aren't even for you. Being a mom is loving them bigger and stronger and better than you've ever loved anything or anyone before. Being a mom is a God and magic tsunami on earth. Being a mom is guilt and goodness, happiness and grief. Exhaustion and energy. Black and white with a million slivers of sparkling gray in between.

It's molding me into a better human than I ever could have been on my own. It challenges me in ways I've never experienced or expected, and fills me with a fear that is sometime paralyzing. When you are a mom, you can't quit or walk away from the hard thing, because it's not you that needs it- it's them. And they are worth any amount of uncomfortable the world may offer.

Being a mom is looking at the sun. It's so warm and bright and sometimes it's just too much. Being a mom is consistency, routine, crazy and unpredictable. But the love, the crazy magic filling gracious eye opening heart exploding love is always bigger than the fear. Than the grief. Than the pain of the unexpected. The love becomes your soul, your purpose, your breath, your everything.

The love is so wow.

When you sift it all together, at the end of the day, it turns into only love.

To all of you that are moms, to those that have lost moms, to those who are single moms, to those who had moms who weren't the stuff hallmark cards were made of- to my beautiful and amazing mom who has always been there when we needed her-

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This one is for you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

teacher appreciation world

I still remember a small handful of Teachers I've had over my lifetime. My kindergarten Teacher, Mrs. VonTage. I was fascinated by her. I remember I got to sit by her on the bus during one of our school field trips. My first grade Teacher, Mrs. Summers. She was awesome and patient and kind and kind of a school legend. Then in college, there was Mr. Jackson. I don't even remember the class he taught- just that it was Communications related. The lessons he taught me on life and character stand out more than even the subject he taught. He had integrity, work ethic and passion. He was the kind of guy that made you want to come to class to make him proud. 

No matter who we are, there is something we all have in common. We have all been taught at one time or another in our lives.

When I first learned Greyson had Special Needs, I would stay up for hours reading about everysinglething I could even imagine google'ing. Praying I could find that one big fix to help him or change it. We tried every diet, every pill, creams and injections. Soon after, I realized I couldn't stop or change it, and a new pain bled throughout my entire body.

I slowly had to accept, THERE IS NO ONE BIG THING. Fudgggge. I hated that it was true, but it was. But after that, I also discovered there are a million, little things we CAN do daily that can make his life easier and better.

That's also when I realized how important Teachers would be on our journey. They are like Rock Stars, but underpaid and under acknowledged (and don't do drugs or have groupies!) I saw what a great Teacher could do for our life. For my boys lives. For my entire families well being. They have given us gifts I will never be able to repay with anything but gratitude.

Please know, this mom is grateful.

Teachers have given us the gift of sound. The words they can say. Oh my, they outdo even angels singing! The few they string together that make sense. The ability to say "Yes" or "No". I never thought that would happen. So now, even if they can't tell me what they want, I can offer them options, and they can say yes or no. I can say, Does your tummy hurt? And they can say yes or no now!!! That is HUGE!!!  I can say "Do you want to go to the park?" And they can say yes or no. (Who am I kidding, that one is always yes.) It's made our minutes and hours and days- so much better, so much calmer, so much happier. And it's made my boys feel so much more understood. I know how important it is to feel seen and understood.

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Teachers have helped shape my boys into someone who lines up with the rest of the kids, someone who waits their turn, someone who stays with the group (still shaping this one for Parker!), someone who plays on the playground! (You know- instead of running the opposite way. Or instead playing with the trash can or just trying to eat the mulch at the playground!) They are learning to follow along with the rest of the group- but also be themselves. I watch them do these things- my boys who used to literally try and run into traffic and I still feel dazed and amazed. Is this really happening?

Teachers have loved my boys at their hitting or screaming worst. They redirect again and again and again and again. They have patience to try something one million and one times- and it is then- when most others would have given up- that something finally clicks. Some people have teaching in their blood and in their soul. I'm certain they were tapped by God to do this and to be this. They look at my boys as a puzzle to figure out, and they try and try and try again every which way. They try left then right then purple then spaghetti then outside then evidence based then out of the box. The point is, they never stop trying. They do whatever it takes.

Teachers, I see you- you amaze me.

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I want you to know I notice you. We love you. We notice your hard work. I feel the passion that oozes out of your eyes. I feel your joy when my son does something amazing. I feel your pain when he's frustrated or angry or unresponsive. I want you to know you make a true difference in our lives, long after we leave your classroom. And you will for the rest of our lives.

Teaching is even more important than any diet, any text book intervention, or specific form of therapy. It's all about the person who is teaching your child, not just the method or intervention. When your child has Special Needs, learning is their medicine. It's something we can't function without. It's given us freedom to leave the house. It gives us the ability to enjoy the world and all it's gifts. 

For every amazing Teacher (which includes therapists, SLP's and tutors!) my boys have been so lucky to have, thank you for changing the world. Thank you for changing our world.

So Much Love,


Share this with a Teacher that has made a difference in your life. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

building my house

Lately it's been hard for me to get in touch with my Chrissyness.

In case you are not familiar with "ness", it's one of my favorite suffixes, ever, explained in the movie "You, Me & Dupree". Ok, so it's no "Shawshank Redemption" but it made me laugh and more importantly, made me feel. In the movie, the off the wall, unexpected hero Dupree is giving a motivational seminar where he shares: 

"Life may knock you down. Scratch that. It will knock you down. It'll kick you in the gut and knock you to the curb. But you can't let it rob you of your "ness." Now what's ness? It's your name plus ness."

But the truth is, we get the Ness knocked out of us all the time. Sometimes being a human is so hard. And our Ness is our everything. It's what makes us the wonderful and unique human we were meant to be! It's what makes us the fighter or lover or learner or friend or teacher that we are. We have an ability to completely underestimate our Ness--until it goes away. Then we feel the weight of that ache to feel like ourselves again. Oftentimes, our Ness escapes us and we don't even realize it at first.

While my Chrissyness has been MIA, I've been in close touch with my grumpiness. My tiredness. My angriness. My bitterness. My emptiness. And bad Ness loves to overstay their welcome.

My (desperately coveted) alone time has been to hide from the world, and hasn't left me feeling fully recharged.  And sometimes those kind of feelings just sneak right on in on you, in the middle of you just trying to live your life the best way you know how. 

It's easy to lose track of what's important. I lose track of who I want to be. How I want to do life. I want to be a Warrior. A capital M Mom, a writer, a friend and feeler who changes the world for my boys and anyone struggling with feeling different. But lately I've traded in my Warrior gigs to be a worrier. A worrier of the future, of the past, of the current, a worrier of my children, and my life.

Have you ever noticed how close Warrior and worrier are? Sometimes we just need to rearrange a couple of letters to reset our mind.

First, I had started to let go of some of my routines. The rituals we all rely on to make ourselves real. I usually wake up and drink lemon water with salt.

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I started doing this in January and I've only been sick once since. In previous years, I can usually depend on getting sick at least 3-4 times every Winter. There are a million benefits of this concoction and you can read all about HERE. And even if it's placebo effect- I'll take it. But lately, I just started thinking-What's the point? It takes too long. After I make it I then have to wash the knife aaaaaand the cutting board aaaaaaaand the juice squeezer thing. And for some reason all of that sounded endless and exhausting.

I try and treat my body well, because I expect it to do so many things for me. But when my Ness goes, I forgot that. Suddenly lemon water gets replaced with things like Skittles. At least the yellow ones are lemon flavored- right?

Usually on Monday through Friday I'm the best version of myself- on the weekend I like to take a break and eat whatever the heck I want. I work out five days a week for my brain. I eat healthy. But when you are a worrier, none of those things make much sense and take too much of a mental investment. Moaping and eating make way more sense. So instead, I ate some more sugar than usual. And skipped some workouts. And ate my feelings at night. 

My brain argued with my thoughts a lot. You need to go for a walk. Get outside. You will feel better. Don't eat that- you will feel worse. I argued back. Leave me alone. I need rest. I need to sit here and get lost in the television. I need some alone time. Worriers lie to themselves all the time. Whatever sounds easiest and best is what worrier suggests, because when you are using all that energy for worry, you don't have much energy left for the good stuff.

A couple of weeks ago I remembered- Wait- I want to be a Warrior. And although I couldn't fully remember why at the time, I still knew that was true. And to be a Warrior,  I have to take good care of me. It's really hard to make good choices when you are tired and sad and already on a bad choice making roll. So I started slow. One morning I woke up and squeezed my lemons for the first time in a couple of weeks. And it was a tiny bit exhausting and annoying. The first thing is always the hardest. And the second one too. Maybe even the third. But somewhere along the way, you lose track because you aren't keeping score anymore. That's how you know it's real. And then it all just got a little easier each day. I'm still working on choosing Warrior every day. I'm not perfect at it. I am however doing a great job for an imperfect human.

If you are lost, do one good thing. It may get you over the hump. Don't turn a bad moment into a forever.

I have a tendency to get lost in the output. The final creation. That's where my worth lies- when I can hold that perfect shiny project in my hands and watch the light flicker off it. I think, See here! Look at my shiny. Am I worthy now? Am I at least good enough? Do you love me? And if you say "No", I say I don't care about what you say, but I feel less inside. And if you say "Yes", well, I feel good for a second, but then I just don't believe you. So I am learning to enjoy the middle part more. To feel worthy from the love I pour into a single day, not the finished product at the end of a day or a month or a year. When you measure yourself by heart and intent, something little like drinking a little lemon juice makes a difference.

I want to share with you an excerpt from the book, "Chop Wood, Carry Water," by Joshua Medcalf. In it he shares the parable...

"...there once was a man named Kota who built some of the finest houses in all of Tokyo. His work became world famous due to his dedication to the process, his willingness to beat on his craft, and his relentless devotion to keep learning, even late into his career.

Eventually though, Kota grew tired of building homes for other people and he was ready to retire. He had been building homes for over thirty years, and he was ready to move on. He wanted to travel and spend lots of time with his grandkids.

One day, Kota approached his boss, and turned in his two-week notice.

His boss said, “Kota, we are forever indebted to you for the magnificent work you have done for our company, and we are so grateful you have worked for us for so long. We do have one favor to ask of you though. Could you please build one more house? It is a very important house, for a very important client, and everyone in the company agreed it needs your magic touch!”

Kota was frustrated. He would have to cancel two trips and postpone his new life, all for one house. He told his boss that he needed a day to think about it. After talking it over with his wife, he gave in and decided he would build one more house. But he told his boss, “This is the very last one!”

But while Kota had agreed with his head to build this last house, his heart was no longer in it. He had always been very hands-on through the entire building process, always selecting the finest materials by hand and making sure every detail was diligently tended to.

But this house was different.

He viewed it more as an obligation than an opportunity. He delegated much of the work, and consequently a lot of things started slipping through the cracks. The house would be up to code, but as it started to come together, it was obvious that it lacked the “wow” factor that Kota’s other homes were known for.

Kota knew in his heart that this was far from his best work, but he was over it and ready to move on to the next phase of his life. The next phase was much more appealing and important to him.

“He went back to his boss, telling him, “I did what you asked. Now I am asking, one last time, for your blessing to retire.”

His boss said, “Thank you Kota! We just have one more thing!”

Now Kota was beginning to get really upset because he thought they were going to ask him to build another house.

His boss reached into his desk and pulled out a very small black box with a red ribbon tied around it. He handed the box to Kota, and said, “We are so grateful for you, Kota. This gift is a token of our appreciation.”

Kota pulled the ribbon, opening the box to discover a set of shiny new keys. His boss smiled, “The house is yours! You deserve it!

Immediately, his heart sank. Unbeknownst to Kota, the whole time he had been building his own house. If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have cared so much more. He would have only used the finest materials, and he would have overseen every detail and given it his all like he had always done. But now, it was too late."

Author Joshua Medcalf states,  “The only thing that is truly significant about today, or any other day, is who you become in the process. Each of us are building our own house. Sometimes you might think you are building for your school, your family, your company, or your team, but you are always building your own house… I hope you build wisely.”

You can read more about Medcalf's life changing work HERE.

When doing for others, when working a job we don't love, or interacting with people that challenge you- it's easy to want to withhold our greatest gifts- because maybe they don't deserve them. But it's better for your head, your heart and soul- to do and be your best you, no matter who you are dealing with. They may not deserve it- but you do.

Greyson tried for years to attempt the monkey bars. Hand over hand he practiced while Dad held his legs and cheered him along. I watched kids without autism, kids whose brain and body don't have communication issues do it with ease. I wondered if it would ever happen for Grey.

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And it did, because Grey is always willing to do the hard work. His Ness is always there. Even when it looks like it isn't. He's hard working and brave and thrives in a world that often feels like a foreign country to his mind and his body. 

Hard work takes hard work. There's no way around it. Great things don't happen while your hiding in your room. Great things don't happen when you give up on yourself and treat your body like crap. Great things don't happen when you eat your feelings or feel consumed by worry. Great things happen when you are willing to do the hard work. When you are willing to sacrifice. When you are willing to get blisters on the palm of your hands from doing the monkey all morning long- or are willing to experience whatever worse case scenario your particular story brings you.

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Life. It's up to you to choose how you look at things. How you talk about things. What sorts of things you think about. What you do with your time. Life is not circumstances. Life is inside us, guiding our eyes and our hearts and our words and our minds.

Do you choose to see the mud, or do you choose to take the blue sky in whatever form it finds you? I guess that depends on whose house you are building.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

happiness in doses

What are you struggling with?

Maybe it's just life. Like all of it. Which is hard. Right? I mean even when it isn't- I know I sometimes make it hard. Sometimes emptying the dishwasher and making lunch first thing in the morning feels insurmountable. Mainly because I know as soon as it's done the chaos begins. The kids are up and no one wants to get dressed. The past couple of weeks Parker screams and kicks and fights off the clothes. My head grows big like a balloon and flies up into the air holding my anger and frustration in. I want to take a pin and pop my balloon head and scream.

But I don't. Usually. But that builds up.

Maybe you are struggling with your job. You can't yell at your job and force it to put its clothes on. People can really be inflexible, self-centered assholes sometimes. I don't get how some people are not hard wired to be kind or understanding or even polite.

Maybe it's your marriage. I've often said that marriage is harder than my hardest day of parenting. Not because he is bad or I am good, but because we are just really different. I'm expressive. He's not. I'm type A, he's not. I'm mostly introverted. He's mostly extroverted. Plus like 100 other things. This can leave us both feeling really misunderstood. Being misunderstood is the root of so much pain. I feel it. I see it in my sons. And that's hard, because you can not control other people. Grown ups or kids. And when someone doesn't understand you, you can't make them. You can make people DO things. You cannot however, make people FEEL things.

Only you. You can only make you do and feel things. So let's focus on that. YOU. ME. It's a start. Especially if life feels extra out of control. This has been my mantra this week: “Anything that happens to me today is in my best interest and it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.” Excerpt From: Medcalf, Joshua. Chop Wood Carry Water.

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Happiness. It's not available for days, but it is available in doses. So I soak them up when they come. I try like mad to create them when they don't.

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Whatever you are stuggling with, I wish I had a magic wand to take it away. I will say that lately, I've been struggling too.  I can't whip out a magic wand, but I can share with you some words. A quote by Willa Cather..."There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in a storm."

Off to grab us some umbrellas.