Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Am Not Cheeky

I'm not cheeky. It's been a long road to this confession, but there it is.

Part of my job is to keep up on the competition. That means paying a ton of attention to what other copywriters and digital marketers are doing. This isn't a job for the insecure, I tell you. It's easy to compare yourself to others and end up thinking you've got it completely wrong.

There are a ton of people out there selling services exactly like mine. And one thing I keep seeing over and over are the cheeky and irreverent styles of branding. Women who use foul language, writers who turn phrases so their "about" page is a comedy sketch, even manifestos stating these people will not work with negative clients as they only promote positive energy in their businesses. It's all clever, it's all attention grabbing, and it's all not me.

I'm all pro. I'm reliable. I'm responsive. I'm crisp and clear and inspirational. I don't swear (usually), I'm not that funny, and I don't feel the need to set rules about my clients' personalities.

Maybe that makes me stick out in this sea of cheekiness. I hope it does.

It also makes me wonder if I'm doing it right -- because I'm not a typical writer or marketer.

But you know what? I didn't get to where I'm at by holding onto insecurity. I'm good at what I do. Good enough that people not only pay me for it, they refer people to me. Most of my business is referrals, and that is something to be proud of.

I've worked with "typical" creative types a ton in my career. I don't have a lot of patience for them, if you want the truth. Once someone starts getting flaky on me, I find someone else to do the job. Over time, this has enabled me to surround myself with more "unusual creatives" -- creative people who are also organized and reliable. They're a rare breed, and one I happily cultivate in my life.

I might not be cheeky, but I am a rare breed. And that's nothing to be insecure about.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Honest Feelings

Gabrielle Bernstein is another one of those web personalities that I love to follow. She recently posted a vlog (video blog) about not using personal development techniques to hide or bury your true feelings. In other words, throwing affirmations at a problem doesn't help you solve the underlying issue -- so deal with your feelings, let your real self come to the surface and work through your problems as they arise.

This is powerful advice. I often hear things like, "How did you stay so positive after such a big tragedy?" and, "You seem so stable! I wouldn't be nearly as functional as you if I had lost my child." Usually I respond with thanks, and acknowledgment that it is constant work, constant prayer, constant acceptance of my situation -- and a lot of writing and talk therapy. But I am also always very honest about my feelings. I still miss her every single minute of every day. I'm still sad a lot. I still have a hard time being around kids, and an especially hard time when I hear babies crying.

At first this honesty was to assure people I'm not a robot -- and that I'm not hiding my feelings only to lash out later on. But I found it was also very healing. The compound statement of "I am hurting but I will be okay" is a powerful mixture of honesty and positive thinking.

Here is a direct link to Gabby's video if you'd like to see what I'm going on about -- http://youtu.be/lb9fBUFdXJQ -- or I have also embedded it here for you.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Santa Fe Trip

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I've been in Santa Fe for the last four days. My mom and I do a girls' trip every Memorial Day weekend, and we usually end up in Santa Fe or Taos.

I am absolutely in love with Santa Fe. The culture, the hiking, the restaurants, the shopping, the friendly locals -- it's always a great vacation.

I managed to break my toe on Sunday morning, which put the kibosh on hiking around Bandelier National Monument. But other than that, we got to do most of what we wanted to do.

We arrived Friday afternoon and got checked into the Eldorado Hotel downtown. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening around the Plaza. We toured the St Francis Cathedral, which is one of the most beautiful (and recognizable) buildings in town, then we got some coffee and a fruit tart from a French bakery nearby and sat in the park for a little while. Three of the museums on the Plaza had free admission starting at 5pm, so we made our way to the one we hadn't been to before -- the Santa Fe Art Museum. After the museum, we went back to the hotel and had happy hour drinks and appetizers for dinner while we listened to the live music. We wrapped up the evening with a dip in the pool and hot tub on the roof of the hotel.









The park square in the center of the Plaza

East Sculpture Garden at the Santa Fe Art Museum



Saturday morning we were up bright and early to head to Pasqual's for breakfast. Pasqual's is a tiny little cafe near the Plaza that is so popular, there is always a wait. Even though we got there before they opened, we still had to stand in line -- and we were still the second to last table seated! It was worth getting up early for, though, definitely.

After a hearty breakfast, we headed up into Hyde Park for a gentle 2-mile hike. The weather was perfect, there was a slight breeze and there were no bugs. It was heavenly.



From there we made our way to the Railyard to explore the farmers market and neighboring art market. I splurged on some organic body sprays and a honey face cream from one of the herbalists there, and my mom bought us handmade lavender sachets. There was a Monsanto protest going on there, which was interesting. Oh, and how could I forget the street dancers?! A bunch of kids who couldn't be more than 15 years old, breakdancing and doing choreographed hip-hop dancing in the middle of the market. Amazing.



Dinner Saturday night was at La Fonda. WOW. Delicious food, and some of the best service I've ever had.

Sunday morning I tripped in the hotel room and broke my toe. I heard the bone snap, and didn't feel any pain for about 90 seconds, so I knew right away it was broken. Obviously after that I couldn't do nearly as much walking as I would have liked. But I could still drive, so we headed out to Estrella del Norte vineyard for some wine tasting. Again the weather was absolutely perfect, so after we tasted 6 different wines, we sat out in the garden for a while.



That night we had dinner and drinks at Ortega's, out on the balcony overlooking the Plaza. It was the perfect last night in Santa Fe.




Thursday, May 23, 2013

Polite Kids at Walmart (I KNOW!)

Jeremy and I had to go to Walmart last night for curtains for my office window (ICK, I know). You'll remember that the blinds fell on my head about a month ago -- and since that window faces south, it was long past time to get something up there. When you're on a budget, sometimes you have to go to Wal-hell.

But we actually had a pleasant surprise at our least favorite store on the planet. A woman and her three children were shopping around the same area as we were -- and the kids were POLITE. One was running by us at one point, and nowhere near actually bumping into us, but he still said, "Excuse me!"

Wow.  Right?

The woman and her kids happened to get into the same checkout line as us. And I took the opportunity to tell her that she had very polite children. I hope that made her night.

And totally off-topic, here, but I am taking the opportunity to share another B-School resource with you guys. I found out about Alexandra Franzen from one of my classmates, and I have just fallen in love with her work. Check out her shop for great scripts.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Shining a Light on the Shadow Self

I've followed Jennifer Louden's work for about 9 years, and I read every blog post she puts out. One that she put out this morning was a video talking about confidence versus experience. Something she said really hit home for me.

She said that the Internet lends itself to "rah rah, hooray, life is awesome and perfect" mentality, and doesn't necessarily reflect the reality of life. That is, if you spend a lot of time on the Internet (like I do, for my jobs), you're not always seeing the ups and downs that are part of real life. You're not seeing the "shadow side."

I try to be as honest here in this blog as I can muster, but I admit I do fall into that trap of wanting to always appear that I've got my stuff together. Mostly this comes from a place of love -- I want to uplift all my readers, not depress them.

I find that when I write a "down day" post, as I like to call them, I feel guilty about it. Sometimes I'm even tempted to delete them, or at least give a warning before people read it. But those posts get more responses from my readers than all of my other uplifting posts combined. And I know why -- it's because you're seeing what you think is the real me.

The uplifting posts are the real me. I promise. But yes, the sad and discouraged posts are the real me, too. As a human being, I'm multidimensional. We all are. And I'm blessed to have this blog as a space to express every dimension, and blessed to have readers who are curious and open-minded about each one -- from my "rah rah yayyyy!" self to my shadow self.

In my younger years, I used my shadow self as an excuse for bad behavior, or at least an excuse to make bad decisions. Older and wiser, now, I use my shadow self as impetus to shine the light. When the shadow emerges, I turn on the floodlights.

This is different than exploring the shadow self, as many therapists will encourage people to do. Spending time looking at your dark side has its purpose -- but it doesn't necessarily move you forward or change your life. You have to shine the light on the darkness to dispel it.

For me this means self-talk and meditation. Both involve addressing the shadow, but only to the point where I can see the underlying cause and change my patterns. Some examples...

When I found out someone close to me was pregnant unexpectedly, it of course brought up a ton of emotions in me. Especially because I found out this information as Jeremy and I were driving to visit our daughter's grave. But I looked that shadow in the face and told it that this situation has nothing to do with me. Her blessing doesn't diminish the blessings I have coming. And you know what? I'm okay.

I have a hard time striding the line between encouraging people and enabling them. This is part of my shadow self as well. You would think encouragement is always a good thing -- but actually too much can have the effect of stunting someone's growth. Rather than beat myself up over this, I am looking at the underlying cause, letting it sit gently and quietly inside my mind as I meditate and seeing what solutions come to me. Silence is a solution that has come to me recently. Loving silence.

I go through times when my physical energy is almost nonexistent. When going on a walk, or going to a yoga class or making myself a healthy meal are exhausting to even think about -- even though I know they'll make me feel better. I have always thought it was caused by a vitamin/chemical deficiency of some kind, or a dietary need that wasn't being met. I'd like to see a holistic doctor to see if we can identify the underlying cause so we can stop it from happening. But we are a one-income family right now, and $300 is too much for an initial holistic doctor visit that may not even help. This makes me feel angry and discouraged. But when I look at this shadow, and when I shine a light on it, I see that these low energy days are very much outweighed by days when I feel good. And though we are on a tight budget right now, we won't always be. Jeremy will get a job, I'll get a raise, Horizon Peak will take off like a rocket -- something will happen to change our situation. Because change is the only constant in life.

Recognizing you have a shadow self and dwelling in the shadow self are two different things. It's tempting to dwell. It's tempting to obsess, to feel like you have to fix yourself. But our only responsibility in this life is to shine our light, to come from a place of love -- self-love as well as love of others.

Where can you shine a light on yourself today?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Good Dream Can Be a Bad Thing

Warning before you go any further. This is a sad post.

I dreamed about Scarlett last night. I had taken her to church with me, and her kids' group was teaching her how to swim (yes, there was a pool at the church). I was so impressed at how well she was swimming when I went to pick her up after I was done with whatever I was doing. I got caught up talking to some of the other ladies at church as we were walking out, and Scarlett wandered off. I never found her before I woke up.

My heart felt like it was going to swallow me whole when I woke up. I didn't get much sleep after that. I was terrified of dreaming about her again.

There's a scene in the latest Spiderman movie where Aunt May is giving the eulogy at Uncle Ben's funeral, and she says she would give anything for one more moment with him. Then later she breaks down when she's alone with Peter, and she says that was a lie -- that she couldn't have just one more moment with him, because it would never be enough. That's exactly how I feel.

One moment with her, even in a dream, is too much to bear. It's not enough. I wake up panicking because part of me wants to go back into that dream forever and forget the real world, and the other part of me never wants to sleep again because seeing her is just too painful. Dreaming of her is like putting my aching hand on a hot stove -- the burn takes my mind off of the ache, but the burn is so much more painful.

Friends have asked me if I ever feel her presence in our house. There's no clear way to answer that. Her energy, her memory, permeates every atom of every corner of my entire life -- but I don't see her ghost walking around. Of course, I refuse to open my mind to the possibility. The idea of her being trapped here on earth as a ghost is horrifying. She's in heaven, waiting for me, and that's where I want to picture her. I am not looking for her in the shadows here. Imagine how hard it would be for me to move forward in my life if I was always looking for her here.

I have a different perspective on life now, after this great loss. I see myself as a soul with a body, not a body with a soul. My life spans from universe beginning to universe end, with my earthly life just a short blip on that timeline. When this earthly life is done, my spirit continues -- and I will be with her again. That is what keeps me going. Knowing I'll be with her again. Some days that's the only thing that keeps me from crumbling.

I am a child of God, put here for a reason. She was a child of God too, put here for a different reason. Our paths were different lengths, but they lead to the same place.

My counselor believes, and I agree, that I'm in a learning phase right now. There are lessons I must learn in order to move forward. I want more children, but I'm struggling with feeling like that is second best. I want Scarlett. But since I can't have her, I'll take having more children as a consolation prize. And since that isn't happening, I often feel like Scarlett was it for me. So I hold that gift close to my heart and worship it.

Idolatry is a quick way to hell on earth. When you worship anything here in this earthly life, it becomes the barrier between you and God's best. I see myself doing that, using Scarlett as a barrier. Putting her on a pedestal and thinking nothing will ever be as good as her.

Do you see how dangerous these thought patterns are? This is why I read the Bible, and meditate, and spend time with godly women, and write, and see a therapist. Because human nature can twist the most beautiful thing into a path to hell on earth, and these things are powerful ways of keeping myself on the right path.

Even just writing all of this out, admitting to the world that I struggle with idolizing my deceased daughter, feels like a step forward. Shining light on the darkness.

After all, the only thing that can disperse darkness is turning on a light.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Grandma's Mutt and Drizzly Day

My parents had a barbecue yesterday, so Jeremy, the mutts and I went to Castle Pines for the day. It's been TOO long since we've spent a day down there -- so nice to catch up and hang out. My parents and I took Hero for a long walk while Jeremy and Tyr stayed back with my brothers. Hero was so great on his walk, I was a proud mama. And he has really bonded with my mom, which I think is adorable. He's definitely a grandma's boy.

Today Jeremy and I were soooo tired. We're not sure what's going on. Neither of us feel like we're getting sick, but we're both flat-out exhausted. I wonder if it's allergies. We took it easy today, and even got some take-out from Qdoba for dinner so we didn't have to cook.

It's been drizzly all day here in north Denver. Beautiful. I was able to get out for a walk around the lake between bouts of rain, though. I took a nap at lunch rather than go to yoga -- yeah, I was that tired.

Horizon Peak is moving forward more every day. Thanks to B-School and my fellow classmates (resources in and of themselves), I was able to do a lot of research very quickly. This enabled me to get going in the right direction a lot faster than I would have without those resources. Part of that "right direction" means possibly partnering with another local business to handle a portion of my clients' needs. This is so exciting! A new business and a new partnership with some brilliant people. Life is good.

I'm still picking away at a few writing projects, too. Some freelance work through GlobalWrites, and a few ebook projects of my own.

Still, I feel like there's something missing in my work world. Like I should be doing something more... I dunno... spiritual? Feminine? Creative/artistic? I'm trying to figure out where that feeling is coming from.

I'm heading to Santa Fe next weekend for my annual girls' trip with my mom. I know that's going to inspire me. Maybe that's just what I need to discover what that feeling is all about. In the meantime, I'm trying to listen more. God is always whispering... I just don't listen nearly as much as I should.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Learning to Love

One of the reasons I like to go to church on Saturday night is so I can watch Oprah's Super Soul Sunday on Sunday morning. Is that sad? LOL

One of the shows this morning is made of clips from an old Oprah episode, about couples who are on the brink of divorce. When Oprah first interviewed the therapist who is working with these couples, one of the things he talked about is how we bring our childhood wounds into our marriages. And in fact we choose partners who bring up old pain so we have the chance to work through it.

I admit I thought that was a bunch of hooey.

But as he's working with these distraught couples, I see what he's saying. Once you discover details about their childhoods, it's obvious how that is impacting their marriages. Wow, crazy.

Jeremy and I both had pretty normal childhoods. We both have siblings, and both sets of parents are still married. There was no abuse, no big family secrets. But as children we were very, very different. Jeremy matured quickly, and because he worked for his family business from a very early age, he had to learn how to put on an air of confidence that he didn't necessarily always feel inside. I, on the other hand, matured verrrry slowly. I was a very naive girl and didn't really know who I was until I was at least 25. I hid my insecurities from my peers by being overly independent.

If you know us personally, that last paragraph just made you go, "Oh wow, I totally get them now." Right???

I had to learn how to depend on Jeremy, and make him feel like he was the most important person in the world. He had to learn how to see through my independence and proactively help me even when I didn't ask for it.

This didn't come naturally. This was the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of learning to love each other for who we really are.

As I told my friend Angie the other day, "It's about loving each other even when we want to strangle each other."

The loss we endured last year could have torn us apart. But because we had already learned these marriage lessons, we were each other's safe place. We could open up to one another and tell each other how we were truly feeling, without worrying that the other would abandon the marriage. We could cry and know that the other person would just hold us -- without feeling obligation to verbalize the hurt. Jeremy understood when I threw myself into work, and I understood when he needed some time to decide what he was going to do now that he wasn't a stay-at-home dad anymore. Our home was a safe space to process the tragedy.

I read something on Facebook last night that talked about how "falling in love" was a wonderful thing -- but it never lasts. After the hormones fade and the butterflies quiet, you have to learn how to love the one you've chosen. Is it easy? HECK no. Learning to love someone means sacrificing your pride and letting go of control, and that isn't easy for anyone.

But is it worth it?

HECK yes.

Just imagine what I would be writing here, a year after our daughter died, if we hadn't learned to love each other this way.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Owie, Alarm and Twisted Tree

Thursday was just painful. The migraine came back, and nothing helped. I tried everything -- ibuprofen, Excedrin Migraine, extra caffeine, bready food, meditating with a rice-stuffed eye mask on my eyes -- all the stuff that usually makes a difference just didn't touch it.

But I had a coffee date with one of my favorite ladies (my former piano teacher), so at least for that hour I was happily distracted.

I went to bed relatively early -- but at 3:45am, our smoke alarms started going off. I woke up Jeremy (yes, I had to wake him up) and we went looking for the smoke. No smoke. Turns out it was a low battery in one of the Comcast-installed smoke alarms that went with our Xfinity Home Security system. The system went into full fire-alert mode -- no low-battery chirping, just full-on alarm. Do you really need me to go any further into HOW ANNOYED we were? I didn't think so.

Thanks to the migraine (aka ice-pick in my left eyeball), and my racing heart, I had a hard time getting back to sleep. So I slept until 8am Friday morning and went straight to work. No art journaling or anything for me Friday morning. Sad face.

But I did go to my favorite Vinyasa yoga class at lunchtime. And the teacher said I had amazing alignment in Twisted Tree pose. So that made me smile. I make a good twisted tree.

Today is the grand opening of the new park across the open space from our house. Sounds pretty cool. Free boat rides, even. We might have to check it out if I can get far enough along in this freelance project.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Strength and Spirit

My cousin posted a picture this morning that hit me in the gut. The picture was of a framed newspaper article that hangs on his home office wall -- and the subject of the article is our grandfather.

I think my grandfather was in his 40s when he was in that plane crash. I think my math is correct, there -- but I'm sure my family members will correct me quickly if it's not. He was a brilliant business man, who built his construction business up from nothing when he got out of the army. He had 7 children with my grandmother. And when he was in that plane crash, not only did he break his back, but he lost his business to a scheming partner and had to start all over again.

But from his wheelchair, he did start that business all over again, and he did build it back up to the level of success he had enjoyed prior to the accident. The newspaper article talks about how "his back may have been broken, but his spirit was not."

Sounds pretty amazing, right?

But here's the truth.

The truth was that he was a brilliant businessman -- but he was harsh and cold with his family. My grandmother raised all 7 children very much on her own, and then also took care of an 8th human being when my grandfather became paraplegic. My grandfather's spirit may not have been broken, but it wasn't a kind spirit. My memories of him include being at my grandparents' house in San Jose when I was little, and crying because I had skinned my knee, and my grandfather bellowing with that terrifyingly deep voice from across the house, "Shut that kid up!" And my poor mother rushing to my aid, trying to comfort me while simultaneously trying to calm my crying so her father wouldn't get any more upset.

The newspaper article made him out to be this ray of hope -- this man who should have died, rising from the ashes of his plane crash.

I remember it very differently. Hope isn't a word I'd choose to describe him. Stubborn strength and endurance, sure.

And it got me thinking about my own situation. The tragedy I endured last year, and how it could have killed me. I could have just stayed in bed and died after that. But I rose from the ashes. I rise a little more every day.

And I don't think I got that strength from my grandfather.

I got that strength from my parents.

From my mother, a sensitive soul who had to learn how to put on spiritual armor to survive in her childhood home. From my father, who lost his mother to cancer when he was in his early twenties, then lost his only sibling, and finally lost his father who was the last family my dad had.

They both lost a grandchild last year -- but they stayed strong and kind for me. They gave me shoulders to cry on, they made funeral arrangements on our behalf, and they made sure I always knew I wasn't alone in anything I was going through.

They might not ever get that newspaper article. But I don't need one to remind me how strong they are. Their spirits are etched into my heart.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Iron Man 3, Sick Hubby and New Logo

We saw Iron Man 3 last night -- and both of us loved it. It's received mixed reviews, but I'm sorry, I flat-out ADORED it. Of course, Jeremy has gotten me to read several comics with Iron Man as a featured character, so I feel like I know a bit more about the character than the average moviegoer. Maybe that's why some people didn't like it -- the character development is definitely second to the plot. Ben Kingsley, who plays The Mandarin, OMG. AMAZING acting. That's all I can say.

Jeremy is sick today, poor thing. Fighting some kind of sinus thing. Sinus things are the worst -- they make it so difficult to function.

I've got one of my Bible studies going on tonight. I'm excited -- I love these girls. We've got to come up with a new name for our group, though, since we're not technically under Flatirons Church anymore. Gotta get my creative thinking cap on.

My incredible friend and brilliant graphic designer Kirby, of Kirby Inc and Azoogma, just finished the creation of Horizon Peak's official logo. Is this gorgeous or what? The graph lines represent growth in sales from a good digital marketing strategy, but they also make it look like the peaks have snow on them. She's truly a genius.
And I should be launching my new service pages either late tonight or early tomorrow. I'm excited to show you how our business is expanding!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

B-School Graduates

I've finally graduated from Marie Forleo's B-School. It was one heck of a ride. I learned so much, and was so inspired every single day. Even after the program is over, I'm still listening to the Q&A call MP3 downloads, participating in the private Facebook group, re-doing some of the worksheets and watching the videos again. I don't think I'll ever truly be "done."

Along the way, I discovered a few previous B-School grads that I just fell in love with. They are inspiration-inducing, brilliant, superstar business owners whose products I happily consume. And I thought I'd share them here with you.

Leonie Dawson -- Australian creativity business coach and artist
Molly Hahn -- Artist of the increasingly popular Buddha Doodles, a cartoon featured on Huffington Post
Mastin Kipp -- Founder of The Daily Love
Jenny Shih -- Coach & consultant for creative entrepreneurs
Mayi Carles -- Creator of Life is Messy Bootcamp
Amy Porterfield -- Facebook marketing expert

The two biggest lessons from B-School for me were, 1) Get started now, and 2) Everything is figure-out-able. Don't wait until you have the perfect business idea, the perfect business name, or you've quit your day job -- there are no perfect conditions in which to start a business. And there is virtually nothing you can't learn how to do, thanks to the Internet. So start with what inspires you and go for it. Life is short. Leave a mark.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Migraine, Business Inspiration and Blessings

And yet another migraine knocks me down. Argh. I think allergies are the culprit. My allergies have been going crazy for the last two months, and I've had more frequent migraines too. Stuffed sinuses = migraine trigger.

I really wanted to go out for a walk today. It was so nice outside. But alas, throbbing head. So I've been cooped up and working from a reclining position all day. Jeremy made me enchiladas for dinner, though, so I can't be too sad.

I had a great conversation with my father-in-law this past weekend about my consulting business. I wanted to talk to him because I admire his business savvy, but also because he is exactly the type of customer I am targeting -- people who own a small business, want to up their online marketing (or get into online marketing to begin with), and don't have the time or interest to figure it all out on their own.

My father-in-law got me thinking in a totally new direction, which is resulting in a brand new set of services from Horizon Peak. I am soooo excited about this. And I was really hoping to work on it tonight -- but this migraine has me couch-bound. So I'm working on it as I can, and will update you all in a few days. Meanwhile, Horizon Peak is on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn -- so follow us for more immediate updates!

I am having one of Colorado's premiere logo designers create a new logo for Horizon Peak as well. In my long career as a web manager and freelance writer, I have met some really amazing talents -- and I have been lucky to stay in touch with many of them. So when it came time for someone to lovingly craft the new logo for Horizon Peak, I knew just who to call. I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

The other thing I told you I'd update you about is those downloadable daily planning sheets. I completely redesigned jessicamehring.com on Friday night, and put the files there under "Free Stuff." Download to your heart's content!

On a more somber note, we were down in Colorado Springs on Saturday, so we stopped by Scarlett's grave. I'm glad we did. As sad as it always is to visit our daughter there, it was also a reminder of the great gift I once had -- a gift that let me celebrate Mother's Day as a mother.

My gifts are different these days, but I am still being blessed every day. I have a thoughtful husband, a supportive family, great in-laws and friends who lift my heart. I have a career that I love, working with brilliant people on exciting projects.

I hope to be blessed with more children soon. But for now, I'm going to thank God for the long list of blessings I have today.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

This Mother's Day wasn't any easier than the last one. But at least I can tell you I handled it better. Therefore it was a little less painful.

A friend posted something on my Facebook wall about how mothers who "had to give their child back" deserved appreciation and respect. I like that sentiment. That I had to give Scarlett back. Because she didn't belong to me in the first place. Which means I don't belong to my mom either -- I belong to God. And we'll all be together again in His kingdom.

I will see her again. So as painful as today is, I'm looking forward to that.

I've been thinking a lot about the women I know who long to be mothers. The ones who have been told they'll never bear children. The ones who have tried and tried, and have yet to wrap their arms around a child of their own. Today is a very painful day for most of them.

It took us a year and a half to conceive Scarlett. I remember how hard Mother's Day was during that time. When all the moms were oohing and aahing over their kids' gifts -- the handmade art and breakfast in bed -- or waxing poetic about the beauty of being a mother, I was longing.

I'm longing again. Not in the same way I did before Scarlett, though. Carrying her in my body, giving birth to her, raising her for those precious 19 months, those experiences were God's greatest gift to me. I don't take them for granted in any way.

My longing, now, is selfish. I want more of that gift of God called motherhood. I want to be a mom at least second time, if not a third, fourth, fifth... And I want all of the rest of my children to outlive me.

So this post is dedicated to the longing mothers. Those women who are mothers in their hearts but haven't wrapped their arms around a child of their own yet. The longing is painful, I know -- but what a gift to have the heart to raise a child. Your heart is beautiful, precious and radiant. I hope you see that in yourself like I see it in you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Daily Planning and A Players

Oh my goodness I have a problem. I'm not one of those people who claims to have OCD with every little quirk, but I'm seriously concerned I do have it in this realm of my life.

Daily planning.

Oh gosh I'm addicted to daily planning.

But beyond that, I'm obsessed over planning organizers, like daily task lists and editorial calendars. You should see my Google calendar -- it looks like I never have a free moment because I put every little thing on there. And I get goosebumps when I walk into a Franklin Covey store.

Granted, with multiple jobs, I need some pretty strict organization to stay on top of deadlines. But I was up until 2am last night creating a new printable daily task template. I could not go to sleep until it was done.

The only other thing I miss my bedtime for is when I have technical problems. I can't sleep until my PC is up and running again, my network is fixed, or whatever went wonky is straightened out.

I'm planning on putting my printable templates on my freelance website soon, so stay tuned for that. There are a million templates on the web you can download for free, but I designed these specifically for people like me -- freelancers or people working multiple projects at once.

I have to buckle down and put together an editorial calendar for Horizon Peak. I run an editorial calendar for GlobalWrites, so I don't know why I've dragged my feet on creating one for Horizon Peak. I may create a downloadable template for that too.

Yes, I have an addiction to templates too.

Marie Forleo continues to over-deliver with B-School. I'm not even done with the regular classes yet, and she's sent out all this bonus training. One of the bonus trainings talked about how she put her team together, and the things she suggests we look for in employees/teammates. I was soooo happy to hear that she has had the same problem that I have had working with creative types.

I am a creative type. But I am also what Marie calls an "A Player." I bring it. I don't just want to do a good job, I want to do a great job. So working with B or C players is not acceptable to me. I have no time for them.

The problem comes from the fact that most creative types are not like me. I represent a very small percentage of creative types of people. Most creative people are... well, flaky.

If I work with someone who misses a deadline or flakes out one time, I will give them a second chance because I know sh*t happens. But if it happens a second time, I will straight up refuse to work with them again.

Now, I don't always have control over these things. In certain situations, I'm not the boss. And in certain situations, even the boss has no power to give me someone else to work with. But if I have the power -- you'd better believe I only keep A players around.

I'm happy where I'm at right now. I'm using my strengths and passions in every paycheck-producing role. But someday, I have grand visions of putting together an A-player team and making a big impact on this world.

Maybe I should create a template for that...

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Thoughts About Depression

Day 3 of art journaling first thing in the morning, and I'm still loving it.

I got to thinking about depression today because of this Hyperbole and a Half post that The Bloggess pointed people to recently. There is a difference between event-related depression and the depression that happens when your brain stops producing the right chemicals at the right rate. The symptoms can be very similar -- though the conditions are not.

I have been in two situations in my life where I have felt (and doctors have agreed) that I was depressed. The first was after my daughter was born (postpartum) and the other was after she died (trauma-related). In the middle of it, I felt all the same symptoms that a brain-chemical-induced depression produces, and doctors treated me the same as they would someone with a wonky brain. But the medicine didn't help. The only thing that helped was talking, exercising, eating right, meditating, reading, and indulging -- really, self-care is what helped.

So even though I have been through depression, I still can't fully understand what someone with a brain-chemical-induced depression is going through. I didn't understand Jeremy when he went through it years ago, and I don't understand some of my family members who suffer from it. My compulsion is to tell them what worked for me -- but I have to resist because our depressions are different animals.

I don't think depression is understood nearly well enough by medical or psychological professionals. I think they like to lump all depression together -- and that's dangerous. It's not a one-size-fits-all condition.

If you are like me, and you love someone who suffers from brain-chemical-induced depression and you just can't relate, definitely read that Hyperbole post. It sure opened my eyes. It didn't necessarily give me tools to help my loved ones, but it let me see through their eyes a little.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Fight and Art Journaling

Aaahhh. A rainy day. Such a treat in Colorado! I know, my Seattle readers are telling me to shut up right now.

I was a busy bee Monday night and all of yesterday. Jeremy stayed down in the Springs Monday night -- we needed some space after a really stupid argument. Yes, people, we argue. And we need space sometimes. And we can both be really stupid and prideful and let all our "loving rules of engagement" go out the window. I'm happy to say that doesn't happen often. But it happens. Jeremy said when he came home last night, "Well, we haven't had an argument in a while. I guess we were due." All is well, now. Love-filled communication fixes everything.

Anyway, I think it all boiled down to us needing some space from each other. We are home together all day, every day, and while we both love that, it has its challenges. I got SO much done when he was gone. And the TV wasn't on for more than 45 minutes (whereas Jeremy usually has it on around the clock -- just for noise, if anything), so the silence was just delicious. I worked my day job, got started on a GW project, did a ton of house and yard work, ran some errands, and read a lot. Sure, it sucked to be in the middle of a fight with Jeremy -- but I took advantage of the quiet time, because I knew we would be okay.

That's a big benefit of really working on your marriage and making it a priority. No matter how bad your fight is, you know everything will be okay in the end. That helps you get through even the toughest times.

I remember what it was like when I was single and dating, and even the first year of my marriage with Jeremy. Every fight was a reason to split. Ugh -- I never want to live like that again. Now, every fight is a reason to communicate and forgive. Very, very powerful difference.

Shifting gears, now...

I've started a new routine in the mornings. All last year, I would watch sermons online before work -- but this year that has not been motivating me in the mornings. I find myself getting distracted, and checking Facebook while I'm listening. So I knew I needed a change in routine.

I looooove artist Molly Hahn of Buddha Doodles. I follow her on Facebook and YouTube, and I subscribe to her email newsletter. In one of her videos, she talked about how Buddha Doodles started. She was recovering from PTSD, and she started the practice of doodling every morning upon waking. Over time, this became a big part of her healing process -- and it also helped her create her famous little Buddha character.

So after watching that, I thought, ART JOURNALING! I could start a new art journal, and do that each morning before work. So I went and got a few new stamps and a new mixed-media journal from Michael's, and put all my art journaling supplies in my Thirty-One Keep-It Caddy. I filled it with pens, colored pencils, markers, stamps, stamp pads, an art journal, a regular journal and the devotional I'm reading. Molly Hahn reads inspirational quotes every morning to inspire her art -- I'm using my devotional.

I've art-journaled two mornings in a row, now, and I LOVE this new practice. Here are my pages from the last two mornings (don't judge!):



And yes, the rose is a stamp. Sure, I could probably draw that -- if I had all day. I only have an hour in the morning before work, and part of that time is taken up by taking care of the pets and pouring myself a BIG mug of coffee.

I absolutely thrive on routine -- but sometimes I just need to change my routine to keep my motivation high. I felt a little guilty not watching sermons anymore, like God would get mad that I wasn't spending as much time with him. But when I started art journaling, the Holy Spirit reassured me that creating art was as much a spiritual practice as watching a sermon. In fact, creating art gives me the space to really listen for God.

And because I just got done watching SARK's new video series, I couldn't help myself. When I was at Barnes and Noble last night, I saw this book and bought it:



More inspiration!!! My husband is home, my art and writing are flowing, and my heart is full.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Welcome Women

You know what I love about (most) Christian women? They are so welcoming. I didn't know anyone but the mama-to-be at yesterday's baby shower, which was being thrown by members of a Christian women's ministry in Longmont. But within five minutes, I had multiple women asking my name and how I know the mama of honor -- and within ten minutes I had been invited to join a large group of women at one of the tables.

I love that. I'm not afraid to go places alone, or where I don't know anyone -- but when people are open-armed, it sure does make the experience a lot easier.

If I had known how truly community- and connection-oriented women's ministries were, I may have been drawn to Christianity a long time before I was. Especially for someone like me, who has moved a lot in her life and never really felt a sense of community, the welcome banner these women hang over their hearts is breathtaking.

Now I know wherever I go in this world, I can find a community in the church. That is really, really powerful to me. Especially since I never know where life is going to lead me, having that sense of home makes my heart sing.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Free Comic Day, Date and Love Overriding

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. For those of you not "in the know," it is an annual event where most of the bigger comic book publishers give out free comics. These free comics are created specifically for this event, so a lot of them are previews of upcoming series. You have to go to a comic shop in order to get these free comics, and they limit you to three issues.

In order to get as many free comics as we can, we go to several comic stores. It's become a yearly event for us. Last year we went to the shops in Colorado Springs, but this year we stayed in north Denver because one of the big shops had Chris Claremont doing a signing. This is the guy whose stories made Jeremy fall in love with comics, so we HAD to go meet him.

Going to comic shops is always an adventure. Comic shop patrons are an... interesting bunch, to say the least. Jeremy and I definitely don't fit in. But the people-watching is great.

I went to church last night. Lisa went at the same time, so we sat together. I always feel right-side-up again after going to church. Pastor Scott mentioned that a pastor from another church had come to Flatirons recently to see what it was all about. Flatirons has gained a pretty big reputation over these last few years, so pastors visit pretty regularly to see what they can learn and apply to their own churches. Anyway, this visiting pastor went on to write a blog about what he learned from his visit to Flatirons. One of the things he said was that they weren't saying anything new, just saying the same old "usual, conventional Jesus loves you and died for you." And then Pastor Scott teared up. He said, "May I never, ever, get to the point where this amazing gift from God, this once in the history of the universe event, becomes usual." A-freaking-men to that.

I realize, for me, that is the gift of not being raised going to church every weekend. The amazement hasn't worn off. And I hope it never does.

Since my evening meeting got canceled yesterday, I decided to take Jeremy on a date. We went to La Fogata for dinner up in Brighton. And then we came home and read more comics. All-in-all it was a lovely day.

Today I'm going to a baby shower. I'm so insanely excited for my friend! I just hope she can feel the love today. I realize that my life has become the horror story people tell their friends with babies. "I never worried about crib death past a year old until it happened to her." I don't want to be the cautionary tale. I want to be the face of someone who loved her daughter with all her might for the short time she had with her.

I hope my love overrides my tragedy.


Friday, May 03, 2013

God's a People Planter

Through various activities I have gotten involved with over the last year, five of us ladies have come together to create our very own Bible study group.

These women are amazing. They are kind and clever and powerful and beautiful -- and I am so crazy lucky to have found them. Bringing them together all in one place is going to be MAGICAL.

When I was thinking about it last night, I realized what a miracle it is that these women all came into my life. I met them all in unique ways, and they have all brought unique points of view and unique stories. There is no way I could have orchestrated this on my own, bringing all these women together this way. This was God's work.

God releases people from our lives at the right time, too. In my life I have had many friendships that have taken a step back or disappeared altogether. But that's part of the grand plan, too, because it made room for new people in this new phase of my life, and released others from me as well.

But while God orchestrates these friendship ins and outs, it's our job to allow it. It's easy to hold into a clique and not allow new people into your life. It's difficult, sometimes, to let people go. But I'm living proof that God knows what He's doing.

Everyone in your life is there for a reason, to teach you something or to get you through a certain time. Some of those people will be in your life forever. Some won't. Either way, it's important to look at those people as the blessings that they are.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Lap Time

He's gangly and awkward and has a hard time sitting still, but I still call the little mutt up onto my lap for cuddles almost every night.  Yes, I will regret this when he's 60lbs...



Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Training Husbands and Leading Against My Will

Actual conversation between me and my husband tonight:

Me: I'm trying to decide what I want to write about for my next project. All my girlfriends think I should write a relationship book.

Jeremy: You don't need to. Just tell women to find a guy exactly like me and they're all set.

Me: Oh heck no. It was so hard to train you. I don't want any woman to have to go through what I went through to get their husband to be like you. Just kidding! I know you trained me just as much as I trained you.

Jeremy: I trained you way more.

Me: You couldn't just lie to me right then? I would have appreciated a lie.

It's true though, people. We trained each other. With the help of a therapist.

So my Wednesday night Bible study group is changing. Again. This particular group has had a heck of a time working. But long story short, it looks like I'm going to be leading the group, at least through the end of this book.

I keep getting put in the position to lead, and I have been fighting it. I did not feel ready, especially, to lead a Bible study. But God has beat it into my head -- continually put me in this position to either lead or let the group fall apart. So I agreed to lead. And I admit, it felt natural once I stopped fighting it.

So look at me. I'm a Bible study leader. Amazing!