The Search for Wholeness

the search for wholenessYou remember Feris Bueller's saying: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."  That is how I feel today.  It is like in a blink another year has come and gone and I'm left wondering, did I miss it?  

I think as mothers we're often consumed by the little details so much that we miss the big picture.  We are so busy doing everything that we don't enjoy it.  Can we be in the thick of it and participate fully or can we be present.

I dug into MaverickRx in 2019 at the expense of The Mama Bird.  Now when I sit and look back on the moments that really busted me up in 2019, I feel remiss for not writing them down.  It is disappointing; I have to acknowledge and accept my own limitations in my personal, creative spaces.  Who likes to accept their own limitations?  Um.... no one.  Zero people want to talk about the shit they didn't get around to doing.  The thing is MaverickRx did distract me from writing; but it also gave me a wild goal wrought with challenges and littered with dreams.  

Every year I have LOFTY goals.  Thanks for that, Dad.  I want so badly to reach each goal.  I try and try and keep trying.  But in the midst of all that trying, something gets left undone.  I cannot be an exceptional mother, with a spotless house, laundry folded and put away, teach fitness, build a YouTube channel, write a blog, see my friends and family, read books, date my husband, maintain a lovely yard, and have a full-time job. Or can I?  

Someone recently asked, "how do you do it all?"  Super simple.  This is one you'll need to write down: I don't do it all.  

Acknowledging my limitations and fessing up to what I'm not going to get done is how I don't do it all.  Things that truly matter are the only things I'm giving brain space to in the twenties - the things that make me feel entirely WHOLE. For example, how clean my house is or if my yard is pretty have nothing to do with what makes me feel whole; and the laundry can jump off a bridge for all I care.  Let's not even go there.  These are not unique aspects of what make a life.  These are universal "have-to's".  Disinfect, clean, mow, fold... everyone has to do this stuff.  It cannot, therefore, consume any brain space or plague us with stress.  

Before I was a mother there were a few things that made me, well me.  I lived to read and write.  I spent hour upon hour listening to music.  I hung around people who refueled me with laughter.  We talked about books, music, and culture. Those are non-negotiables for me to be me.  Creating, feeding my brain, and connecting with the most valuable people in my life, even for a quick coffee or phone call, give me a boost.  

I fell in love before I was "Mom!"  I fell in love with a man who makes me laugh and snort and who puts up with my countless lists and dreams.  He supports almost all of my ideas and when he doesn't he says so.  Although, I can't think of a time he said so exactly.  He might have made fun of an idea a time or two or screamed at me, "You and your ideas!"  But for the most part, 98% of the time, he is all in.  

Once I became a mother, I also fell in love with my kids and fitness.  I didn't teach fitness until I had my first daughter.  Over the course of the past thirteen years, fitness has become engrained in my being.  It is my sanity saver.  Motivating other humans to move, picking them up when workouts get really hard, and making them smile through the challenges really lights my fire.  

My kids are my favorite people, hands down.  They each have an energy all their own, unique quirks and personality traits that sometimes resemble me or their dad, but are most definitely their own spin on existence.  Most of the time we get along well, until someone breaks an XBox controller, the tv, or drags around in the morning and makes mom late to work which forces mom to come unglued.  But my mom friends assure me, that's normal.

Brain space is limited.  What we allow into our brain space - what we allow into our lives is absolutely within our control.  To feel like a complete, whole human we get to select where, what, and who we want to put energy into.  My goal for 2020 is to allow my brain space to be filled with three essential aspects of my life that make me feel whole: human connection, creativity, and movement.  

I invite you to take a minute and assess what will fill your brain space in 2020.  What makes you whole and uniquely you?  What doesn't actually matter in your life that you are allowing to fill your brain space with and, in so doing, creating stress?  Let go of the non-essentials and focus on the aspects of life that fill you with energy and excite you every day.  


Can You "Censor" Rude?

I went to dinner with my parents and children in the city on Monday.  As we were walking toward the restaurant I could hear a rowdy group of people sitting in front of the restaurant.  They were LOUD and cussing like truck drivers.  Which, let's be honest, I've been known to do myself.  My friend Brooke will testify to it.  I have a potty mouth.  But when I had kids, I had the decency to clean my act up and not speak with such colorful language around them.

It seems LOGICAL to me.  If I want my children to speak without profanity, I have to speak without profanity.  Am I perfect?  Absolutely not.  There are times when oops the F word sneaks out.  Like the day I got attacked by a swarm of earwigs.  Or when I scraped a dead mouse out of my dryer with my bare hands.  Things happen.

But on the daily, nope.  We keep it clean.  As we neared the group of boisterous, margarita sipping fools I made a mental note "sit inside."  I ordered for myself and the children, which took a decade.  My parents ordered and were outside setting up a table before I could suggest we just wait for a table inside.  I get it, no one likes waiting, but for my own sanity in that situation, I would have waited.  

Outside our table set up doesn't meet managers regulation and we are asked to move next to the table of cussing hoodlums or go inside.  I said to the manager, "well, I wish I could sit outside, but those kids are using a level of profanity known only to truck drivers or Snoop Dogg."  She giggled, apologized and said she'd set us up somehow inside.  

My darling mother, in the meantime, decided to approach the obscenity loving table of idiots.  She politely asked them to tone down their profanity.  At the table sat six men and a single woman.  The men all quickly apologized, "of course...we're sorry...we'll clean it up."  The woman, on the other hand, would not have it.  She loudly exerted her opinion, "I WILL NOT!  I will not censure myself because of YOUR CHILDREN!"  To which I laughed heartily because, really?  I said, "Oh hunny... I hope one day you have your own children then."  And she said, "I won't."  And I replied, "Of course not."  She quickly replied with the classiest of rebuttals, "FUUUUCCCCKKKK YOU."

Now, as I mentioned, I have a mouth of my own and have often been un-censurable.  Usually, like this nit-wit, I've had one too many margaritas or some other tasty cold alcohol rich drink.  I also, while being a very patient and kind person, do have a temper.  Usually, lets be honest, I stuff my anger down real deep in prayer.  

Truly though, I wanted to rip her head off.  She told ME to F OFF in front of my kids?!  I felt frozen.  I felt like if I rip this little girl a new one in front of my children and parents, that's not exactly setting the best example.  Instead, I sat down inside, and quietly raged while eating my dinner.  I dreamed of pouring a margarita over her incredibly ugly hair.  I dreamed of picking her up from the table by her ear and walking her up to my children and forcing her to apologize for her incredibly rude and terribly awful manners.  I dreamed of physically harming her while politely eating my burrito bowl. 

But I also knew that assault is assault no matter how you slice it.    

On my drive home from the city I wondered, what gives people the right to be such assholes?  Why on earth does asking a person to behave like a big girl and be polite in front of small children qualify as censorship?  Isn't it just RESPECTFUL?  Aren't we just talking about using our MANNERS?  

When did respecting other people around you and using your manners become a challenge?  Honestly, I do not understand.  

It will please you to know that really, in the end, I won.  That same night, I had a dream that my family was under attack by a werewolf.  It was a giant beast of a creature, which I can only assume was a subconscious way of representing the rude woman from dinner with the hideous hair.  In the dream, I protected the children but the beast kept coming at me.  Lunging with wild crazy eyes, intolerably bad breath, and a dreadfully frizzy coat of wild unkempt hair.  I called for my husband and he came running at the werewolf with a Ziploc 1 gallon freezer bag.  I held the beasts head down, with my knee in her neck as my husband suffocated her with the freezer bag.  

I also won because I am not an asshole with the audacity to verbally (or really) assaulting other humans.  

The End.


Choose Grit.

Today my children sat in on a seminar [read: school assembly] on a concept that adults often find a struggle: GRIT. 

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Lee Duckworth explores how this aspect of the growth mindset, developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, can impact student beliefs about failure.  Duckworth suggests that "what we eventually accomplish may depend more on our passion and perseverance than on our innate talent." 

Mrs. Duckworth has leveled the playing field, my friends.

Up to now, we're all under this assumption that our innate talent or our IQ sets the standard for success.  Then, in walks Duckworth.  Guess what she's doing - she is calling bullshit.

Is my sister better at math than me?  Yes.  It is because she is smarter than me?  No.  Could it be that when math got tough, I didn't have the grit to persevere and figure that shit out?  A person can be very talented, very intelligent, but in the absence of grit she will not be successful.

The lessons my children have learned within their elementary school about the concepts of having a growth mindset and grit are as valuable as the lessons they have learned about arithmetic and history.  This concept leads me to wonder and explore HOW as parents we can encourage these concepts, teach these life skills, and nurture our children's grit.

I think most of life's challenges can be eliminated with the right perspective.  Of course we each have our own - and we each have to rise to the challenge of creating our own positive perspective in times of struggle.  I find the right perspective in constant communication with God.  There isn't a day that starts without our conversation.  In so doing, I am able to stay the course.  Maintain a positive mind-set and seek personal growth.  I believe I am talented.  I believe I am smart.  But I also believe, I will not be successful with my talents or intelligence without grit.

How many talented, intelligent people do you know that are not particularly successful?  Take a minute and think of them.  Now consider this: is their perception of success the same as yours?  In Shift Happens: How to Live and Inspired Life...Starting Right Now! by Robert Holden I've been exploring this concept of perspective.  I've come to decide that perspective is literally EVERYTHING.  What I perceive as success, how I feel happiness, how I feel worthy, how I feel I contribute to the world, where I see myself heading, the connection and relationships I develop - all entirely of my perspective.

People often ask me how I am.  Though they say it in a way that leads me to believe they think I am not doing well, they seem to think I am "over-doing it".  Their questions are laden with their perspective that I am too busy to enjoy life.  "You're so busy... how do you do it all?"  "You must be stressed with so much work."  I am busy.  I have a lot of work.  I like it that way.  I prefer busting ass all day and pushing myself to work hard, learn new things, and shine my light into the world in my own way every day.  I prefer it to "down time".  I don't consider the challenges of my days as negative.  I think challenges are opportunities.  Let's see how we can tackle this mountain.  Let's figure out how we can eat this frog.  Is having grit and working toward my goals easy?  No.  But does my perspective allow me to see it as a positive and forward moving experience so that I want to do it.  Yes.  I choose grit.

After the school assembly today my boys came home happy and feeling charged up.  The Happy Critter said, "Today I am ready to take off my training wheels."  He was influenced by the motivational concept of grit.  We took his training wheels off the bike.  We gave it a go.  He chanted several times that he has grit.  We worked at it for thirty minutes.  I suggested we take a break, try again before dinner.  He immediately broke into tears.  He said, "I can't do it!"  Sobbing hysterically.

I calmed him down.  I said, "Wait, I thought you had grit."  He said, "I did for a little bit, but it must be gone because I can't ride the bike."  I said, "Listen, grit doesn't come and go.  Grit tackles the bike riding one lesson at a time until it gets done. Grit is trying again and again, keeping at it."  I asked him, "Will you keep trying?"  He said, "Yes."  I said, "See you do have grit."

Grit can be taught.  But it must be talked about.  My kid's first perception was that grit was a one trick pony.  How can we share how gritty we are with our children?  How can we include perspective and our own growth mindsets with our children?

Talk about it as it happens.  When something needs fixed, bring them along on the journey with you.  I never really learned how to be gritty when it came to math.  But I sure as shit learned to be gritty.  My parents each, in their own ways, modeled pieces of their grittiness with me - I developed it and learned it from their behavior.

In trying to live outside this little comfort zone of mine, I am sharing my grit.  In working until the wee hours trying to understand new software platforms, rules of using YouTube, best practices of this or that within my professional space - my children see my grit.  When my bag is overflowing with notes from my workout, my mornings spent creating Indoor cycle playlists, or my hands callused from weights they see my grit.  When the faucet is clogged and it takes not one but three trips to ACE to get the right materials to fix it, our children see grit.  When the hubs is up at 4 and home at 9, they see grit.  When we share and show our passion for our work, for each other, for our community - we share and show our grit.  We do not have it all figured out.  We are not good at everything, but we will bust our ass until we are.  That is how we Choose Grit in our house.  


For all the books mentioned in this blog post and a few suggestions for encouraging grit in your children click here.  


I Already Miss the Sea

When I was little my grandmothers lived hours from me.  We would travel to visit and every time I left them, I would cry.  My parents would pack my brother, sister, and I back into the car and I would wish desperately that we could stay longer.  Leaving them felt like I was leaving part of me. 

I lived a wonderful childhood.  I come from a loving, kind, fun family and it was not that I was leaving them and heading to some version of torture.  I just really liked being near them. 

As an adult, I feel that way about the sea.  When I am not near it, I wish I was.  I can close my eyes and take a moment to escape back to it in my imagination.  When I am at the doctor and they say, "go to your happy place" before taking my blood pressure, I go to the sea.  The sound of it.  The smell of it.  The sheer expanse and beauty of it.  The depth of colors and textures within.  The feel of the sand and the joy of touching it - all bring me back to a calm that I feel deep in my heart and belly. 

The children and I were fortunate to take a few days for spring vacation with some friends to Destin, Florida.  It was a bright spot in the middle of this dreary, lingering winter.  When it came time to pile back into the cars, I took my boys back to the magical place where the stairs lead to the sand to share with them my tradition of saying goodbye to the sea.  A feeling much like that of leaving my grandmothers as a child, it brings tears to my eyes. 

I longed to be home.  I looked forward to seeing my husband and sleeping in my own bed.  The comforts of our life here in our little bubble are inviting.  But I wish, always, when I leave it that I don't have to.  I wish that I could be closer to it.  I wish that it could be bottled up and moved closer to wear my home is.  I daydream the whole ride home about returning to it and finding my own little piece of home near it.   

Last night, I turned on the sounds of the sea to fall asleep and was filled with the wonderful memories we made with our friends while on vacation.  I felt full, blessed, and thankful to have had my time at the sea again. 


The truth is...

Often I think social media and the blog·o·sphere do a heck of a good job of putting lipstick on pigs.  The social media happy spin.

Even I have asked people to read a book on authenticity with me and take a 12 days of kindness challenge; I've posted holiday baking, the kids end of year shows, and all the festive goodness of this time of year.  But behind it all, I'm also doing the social media spin/lipstick on the pig.  

So here it goes:  The truth is I am very, very sad.  I lost my friend and colleague, Robert, last week.  I told my children that he went to bed and didn't wake up; but the reality is he took his own life.  Suicide.  I am not trying to lie to my kids - they are very young and I am just not ready to start talking with them about suicide as part of life in any way. 

I am lucky to have known Robert.  I feel genuinely blessed to have had him in my life the past two years.  Two short years.  Robert hired me as a marketing independent contractor to work with him for his fitness company.  We spoke on a weekly basis for work.  We planned, schemed and dreamed.  But we also talked often about fear and regret; we talked about living outside of our comfort zones and learning how to grow.  

In the past eight days I have run through the gamete of emotions and questions.  Why was he so happy on Friday and then Monday completely without hope?  I look through my missed calls and wonder what if I'd answered those calls... what if I had sent him the reminder text on Sunday evening instead of Monday afternoon?    

What if.

And why.  Why is totally out of my scope of understanding.  I will never understand because what I thought of him, and what he thought of himself, were not the same thing.  I saw an incredibly talented, intelligent and kind person.  I saw a man with so much information and insight.  He knew everybody, he remembered everything, and he could tell story after story about traveling and fitness without missing a beat.  

While he was interesting, he was also interested.  He would ask about my life, my family, my goals.  He would question my plans and nudge me into directions I hadn't really thought all the way through.  He asked, no kidding, the best questions - he was incredibly inquisitive -of anyone, too, not just me.  We would be on the phone with someone and Robert would expect a certain outcome; he could ask the right questions to create the outcome he desired.  Sometimes, even if he knew the answer, he would still ask the questions and get me thinking about it and then I start questioning, why do I think that, and then before I knew it my perspective on the situation was broader.  

The small glimpses he shared with me about his sadness were just that - small glimpses into his reality.  Never enough information that I ever thought he was where he was.  Now though, that he has taken his life, I replay our conversations in my head and I think and wonder, "Oh Melissa..that..that one was a bad day for him."  

We talked often recently about direction for the business.  We talked about how to keep growing and thriving in an industry that is always changing.  We talked about our immediate actions and our long term goals.  Maybe while I felt hopeful for the future he felt anxious about it?  The simple fact is, now I will never know.  And it makes me incredibly angry that I do not get to talk to him anymore.  My heart breaks for his broken heart and I ache for his family.  

In October Robert was here in my home, having dinner with my family, and playing piano with my daughter.  He said, "Let's set up a zoom video conference for me and the Goose to practice again...she has an incredible ear, Melissa."  I've watched the footage of him standing beside her, in his comfortable way, umpteen times.  I've listened to his voicemail and scoured the email threads - looking for something unknown.  

I still talk to him when I am working.  He always says the same thing, "Listen...we will never know until we try...Let's do it once, and then go from there...If we get 10% I'm happy..."  Listen.  Listen.  He said listen incessantly.  "Listen, I think it's a good idea, but I've been down that road before... Listen, I don't want you to get too excited about this...Listen, one good post is all we need this week.  Listen, recovery is as important as the exercise."  

Now that I've taken the lipstick off the pig.  There is something else I'd like to mention.  If you see me, you don't have to look at me like I'm broken.  You can simply say, "How are you doing today?"  It is not an imposition to be asked questions about him or about what I'm feeling that day, because I'll be honest some more - every day I have felt different than the day before.  I am sad, but I am trying to keep my light shining because I believe 100% that God put me on a path to meet Robert and I will follow His lead.  I pray for the ability to continue Robert's mission; I can only say that it was an honor to work along side him for the brief time I could.  
He was the best mentor and I miss him.