Mami Moments: Planting Roots and Letting Go

I woke up with a song in my head on Sunday and I knew what had to be done.  There's an old school song that mami used to like called Perfume de Gardenia. I've been talking about planting a gardenia bush in this awesome planter that she had in the house but never used. I've been building pictures in my head (and on Pinterest) as to what the outside of the house would be looking like. Mami has been speaking to me this week through flowers and songs.  Through the outdoors as spring begins to bloom.  I'm being drawn outside more and more. In spite of my migraine today, I headed out to plant. I felt such awesome peace at the sight of such simple beauty.  Had tons of different thoughts.  About letting go. About enjoying the present moment and not getting stuck in the drama that we sometimes build for ourselves by focusing too much on the past or on the future.

And out of nowhere, pops out this passage:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:25-34

Anywho, this is what I ended up with:

Seeing the flowers and starting to really picture the front of the house, colorful for spring made me smile.  And it reminded me that life goes on.  That people are not forgotten.  That the words that I tattooed on my back become truer each day: To Live In the Hearts of Those We Leave Behind Is Not to Die. - Thomas Campbell.

I was also reminded not to worry, not to hold on to a grudge or a misunderstanding. The flowers don't. If they did, I doubt they'd have time or energy to grow to be this beautiful.

Have you had a mami moment recently?

Wisdom from the Weeds

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With Spring always around in Florida, I've become obsessed with cleaning, decluttering and most recently: gardening. There is very fertile soil in my parents backyard and I plan on taking full advantage of it. Unfortunately, Pinterest has ruined my simple gardening plans with thoughts of raised beds (that I am never going to build on my own) and blooms that won't make it a day here (what am I? Zone 5?).

I decided to start simply with planting in our mailbox. A few years ago, some dumbass hit the mailbox and my dad built a new one. Out of concrete.  Don't you love the passive aggressiveness?

On each side of the mailbox is a little semi-circle of dirt dedicated to some blooms. For a while now,they have sat empty. This week, I found some cute plants that probably won't make it in the sun and I set to planting it.

The right side was easy. I tilled the soil (is that what it's called?). I dug, pulled out a few lonely weeds here and there and then planted these badboys:

On the other side, however, I found a lot of dried up weeds and what could've been plants trying to make their way out.  As I started tilling the soil I found it difficult and wondered why. And I started questioning why one side was perfectly okay while the other, though it seemed was exactly the same, was not.

Then I realized that there were these roots spread all around the left side. You could see  nothing if you simply looked at it once you pulled up the little growth that was on the surface. But upon trying to till the soil, one could feel a spiderweb of these invisible plants growing beneath.  As I pulled these roots I had these thoughts strike me:

If I hadn't taken the time to till the soil and I would've just planted my flowers here, these invisible roots would've choked the new plants and drained them of their nutrients.

In that moment, I felt like something had been revealed to me about relationships.  At times, we think everything is great. It looks great, it might even feel great on the surface.  But, if you try to plant something new and beautiful without first tilling the earth and ensuring that the weeds of the past have been appropriately dug out of the soil, it will be suffocated by the invisible growth not apparent to our eyes.

I thought this was such a revelation with regards to people in general. These past few months have been quite challenging as I've been struggling and dealing with my dad. The planters reminded me distinctly of my parents. My mother, always smiling and helpful. With a few weeds here and there but nothing that a child couldn't pull out with their bare hands (and the frog princess did just that).  And my dad, on the side of where the sun lays its shadow day in and day out. Growing strong roots of sadness, rancor and never being able to just let go. Having fertile enough soil where he'd want to see beautiful things planted but, not realizing that without the proper work tilling that soil and pulling out the things that ultimately do not matter, none of the beautiful things that he yearns to grow will ever bloom.

This is the wisdom I learned from the weeds. I hope I dug enough, tilled enough and uprooted enough of the growth so that my plants can bloom and flourish.

Of Bliss and Blessings

I went to BlissDom because of an impulse.  I saw something my girl Shell said on Twitter. It stirred something inside of me. And the words in my head were clear as day: you have to go. A series of not so random events took place that had me on a plane late Thursday morning and meeting up with women that I'd only chatted with on Twitter, at the airport. The first lesson? DO NOT underestimate the relationships built within social media. I felt like I'd known these women most of my life. And it's most likely because we are kindred spirits. I was completely at ease and that allowed me to take everything in more completely.

It's hard to do a recap because I feel as if so many of the attendants have already done so and have said everything I was thinking. I have been sick with a cold since I got back and this is my first chance since Monday to sit, think about what I got from BlissDom and put it down into words.

I walked into Jon Acuff speaking on Friday morning and I felt like perhaps he'd been stalking me these last few weeks. Everything he said, my heart had felt. I'd give you a recap of that but Molly captured it best. About prioritizing. About our kids wanting to be our kids and not just our content. I remember I tweeted out a quote from him: "Learn to disappoint the right people". If you take a moment to think about that, it's deep. The second lesson? YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We got some fantastic swag! I never expected that my trying to "pack light" and take a small bag would not work this time around. A great big shout out to Extra Space Storage for giving 150 of the bloggers a free 10 lbs to ship home. So my third lesson was a practical one: Take a BIGGER bag to blogger conferences!

For me, Blissdom was about God answering my questions with clarity: Should I go to this conference? Can I make a living doing what I love? How can I make that happen? Am I on the right track? How am I going to get a tribe? Who will I turn to for jobs? Can I really connect with other women?

And after each question was answered uniquely, He also said: "SEE! Told you!" I am feeling blessed beyond belief. It's taking me a while to even write this because I cannot put words BIG enough to capture the enormity of this.

My BIG fear is that I will forget to mention some of the people that reached out and touched my heart and my spirit.  First off, Gigi, what can I say?  I am eternally grateful for that fateful Tweet where she said that perhaps I could room with her and Natalie.  Gigi is no nonsense and that speaks to my spirit. Thank for your listening, for your words and for caring (and, I love your #fatballs).  And Natalie? Her giving spirit reminds me so much of my own. She is an amazing human being who stayed up with me late at night and listened to my dreams even when she was tired (because she's boo-jah-jah like that).  To my girl Julie who is trying to find her way: I have been there and I promise you, I will be here to help you through it (oh and, I love that you miss my ass, literally!).

 

 

I love that I met bloggers from Orlando at BlissDom.  Melanie and Jennifer, ya'll know we're going to get together!  The spiritual connections were great! None like Miss Lucrecer, though. We will be keeping in touch as we move forward through this path that has been laid before us.

Holly, Nicole, Natalie C., Angela, Jen, Jessica, Carri, Erin, Julie, Morgan, Kim, Deb, Frelle, Carrie, Kimberly,  Tonia, Tawanna, Vanessa, and countless others that I will kick myself for not remembering as soon as I hit publish: you made me laugh, you danced with me, you grabbed my ass (don't act like you didn't!), you smiled, you chatted with me and most of all, you made me feel right at home within your very own tribes. I am eternally grateful for the gift you brought into my life. And so we come to the fourth lesson: connectedness. I say it on my little blurb on the side bar. I believe it and I try to live by it. But BlissDom reminded me shouted at me that in the end, it is all about being connected.

And because I firmly believe in the fifth lesson, I leave you with it and pray that you receive it into your life: there is no such thing as coincidence. From the way I made it to this conference to all of the nuggets that I picked up along the way, it was made clear to me that I am doing what I am meant to do and that I am on the right path.

I have been sick all week. Feeling miserable that I haven't followed up and haven't been on my game. But every time I think of one of these lessons (and one of these people that for whatever reason were put on my path) I can't help but smile. Now if you'll excuse me, there's some Theraflu waiting in my wine glass.

Wishing you bliss and blessings,

Mami Bliss!

It is 9 a.m. right now.  I am working on probably 3 hours of sleep.  The frog princess is sitting in front of a baby doll happily dancing along with her. Monday night, I decided I would check flights to Nashville after seeing a couple of my Tweeps talking about BlissDom.  The flights were still low. (pause for continuing to pack and get ready)

(continued writing this on the plane, 12:30 p.m.)

And thus began the search for my bliss! Within 24 hours, I had a friend sponsor my flight and had procured some pretty cool roomies as well as a ticket to the sold out conference.

If you've been reading this blog for any period of time you know I don't believe in coincidences.  You should also note that, after sending out that Tweet, I prayed.  And I continued to pray and be thankful each time I received and encouraging message or a reference to someone who could help.  I was reminded (YET AGAIN) about The Alchemist and how when you set out to pursue your passion, follow your dreams and go searching for your purpose, the universe will rise up to meet you!

It was difficult for me to leave this week as my little girl spiked a fever about 30 seconds after I purchased my flight. But this was also a reminder to continue to trust in God and leave her in His hands as I have done from the minute I found out I was pregnant (actually, from the day before I did).

So I am off to my bliss! Hoping to find some awesome brands to fall in love with (and vice versa), some great business connections that will allow me to grow as a blogger and an entrepreneur, a chance to make some money in order to support my dreams and a little down time with friends I've had the pleasure of interacting with on various social media networks.

I want this to be a reminder for you to follow your dreams and always listen to the little voice inside of you! If you have a dream and don't know exactly how to make it happen, you're in luck because, I can help! Check out my services page on Dream Coaching and you'll see what I'm talking about.

God has been so good to me and each day He continues to be more and more in my life. The more I trust and the more I ask, the more He gives. It's probably because of this that I feel the need to share my story with you. In case you need a little reminder yourself. Because God sometimes speaks through others. I know He does that to me all the time. And all I can do is smile. So, what's your bliss?

This is my First Blissdom!

Following Your Dream: Stepping Out on Faith

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If you've been around since my redesign, you know that in my services page I offer something called Dream Coaching.  It's my way of helping others reach for their dreams and help provide them with tools to make them happen because I find that most times, many of us have a seed of a dream deep in our souls that would fulfill our purpose but don't water it with positivity or a fertilize it with a plan.  Those happen to be some of my strengths and I harness that in order to make sure that my clients shine through and make their dreams into reality. Some days, though, I have to dig deep down inside myself and all of the tools I recommend, talk about and use, in order to get centered. Today was one of those days. After a few recent conversations, I've started wondering if I'm doing the right thing. If, indeed, I should be trying with all my might to create a brand for myself which will allow me to: write, help others and give me the flexibility to spend more time with the frog princess.

Let's be clear. I no longer have steady income after the layoff.  I wake up to hugs and kisses and can watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse without rushing around trying to get us ready to leave the house any longer.  I've met some awesome people and have had some great experiences during this time but, am I being responsible? Should I put my dream on hold, run back into whatever role I can find in corporate America so that I can make damn near six figures again? Is that success? Is that happiness?

I'm taking a BIG risk. I'm a single mother. I will be 37 next month (holy shit!).  What am I doing!?!

I'm stepping out on faith.  And I'm not looking back. I have felt calm all this time in my decision.  I can't help others achieve their dreams if I do not achieve mine, right? So, as is my usual routine, I had a few conversations with people in my life who are not afraid to tell me the truth (you need at least one of those. I guess I got extra lucky that I have about 6! ;-) ).  I read a book by one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho and then I turned to my Stepping Stones.  These are quotes and excerpts from Lisa Hammond's book Dream Big! which I highly recommend to my clients and which has personally given me profound inspiration to continue on dreaming.

Here are some of my favorite which are marked for easy access during days like this:

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our live." - Annie Dillard (doesn't that just scare you half to death?)

"The most important thing you will ever do is become who you were meant to be.  Blossom into yourself." - Lisa Hammond

"Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible." - Robin Morgan (and ain't I just the absurdest at the moment?)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin

"We always attract into our lives whatever we think about most, believe most strongly, expect on the deepest level, and imagine most vividly." - Shakti Gawain (I've tried this with brownies to see if they will magically appear on my kitchen counter but I don't think it's meant to work for desserts.)

"We can never see the path of our life if we are too busy focusing on the pebbles under our feet." - Anonymous (I think of this one often when I look at what I brought in with unemployment in the last 3 months of the year and how all of that was less than what I'd net out of one pay period before. But you know what? I have wanted for nothing during this time and for that I feel blessed and grateful!)

I guess I write this tonight because I wouldn't be a good coach if I didn't understand the fears, the hesitation and the pressure that we sometimes feel as we move forward and try to achieve a dream that perhaps can only be seen fully and clearly through our eyes.

What dreams do you have for yourself and how long will it be until you attempt what might seem absurd to someone else?

*Stay tuned! I will be expanding my services in the coming weeks.  Social media management anyone?

A Look Back at 2011

I've looked ahead and come up with some mamilutions. I've talked about my reading list for 2012.  I guess on this last day of 2011 I will do a recap.  Where do I begin? New Year's Eve 2010 found me at home with The Man and the frog princess.  I believe she was awakened by fireworks. I called mami who was at MD Anderson Cancer Institute. She was having a party over there and I couldn't help but be a little miffed that no one told me. I figured she'd be asleep.  I chatted with her a bit and then went to bed.

The next day two big things happened: my baby girl took her first steps and she said mama for the first time. The guilt over not being in the hospital was quenched a little because of that.  I started my new job the first week of the year.  Happy Ecstatic and eager to embark in a new adventure.

Mami passed away less than a month later.  I remember sitting in the drive thru as I had this big epiphany only days prior to her passing.  And of course, I remember that last day like it was yesterday.  The blogs I wrote giving the news to my readers and giving you an insight on who my mami was and how she shaped me.  There's no way around it. This year was definitely centered around the death of this larger-than-life figure not just in my life, but in the lives of so many.

I tried my best to adjust though to be honest, I don't think I've accomplished that. Life went on and I had to keep rolling with the punches.  No break. No time to stop.  The man and I broke up in April.  And, life had to go on.

So, when I was let go of my job and found myself needing to be hired again, I secretly took it as a sign from God that it was time to take a break, breathe and deal.

Though this year is filled with the unmistakeable gap my mother left behind, it's been filled with many good things. My frog princess is growing and healthy.  We did have a crazy time period with her, though.  She was diagnosed with febrile seizures in June after her first scary episode.  Since then, we have had to make some tough decisions and though I periodically deal with the PTSD that seeing your child in a seizure brings, I still think it's all good.

This New Year's Eve finds me back in my mother's house after seeing my dad struggle without his partner of 42 years.  I'm not a believer in coincidences. I was let go the week after I moved in.  Sitting here, I pray that the new year will bring me writing opportunities.  The ability to follow my passion because the one thing I've learned this year (again) is that the term success means something different than what most of us think.  Though life has been a struggle lately, I can say without a doubt that being at home and watching and helping my daughter flourish is one of the greatest gifts I've been given.  I revamped the blog (though I really couldn't afford it) and now have a services page that gives you a glimpse at some of the awesomeness I can provide.  Though pretty much anything writing-related, I can handle.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that somehow, things will work out so that I am able to work from home doing the thing that I am passionate about.

Speaking of passionate, my Christmas project was a big highlight of the season.  After the way that Olive Garden came through for me, I'm thinking that perhaps I can try and make this a year-long project and not just for the women and babies in the Dominican Republic.  I love helping people.  This year, however, has reminded me that, every once in a while, I need help myself.

Through a rollercoaster of emotions I am still so grateful for all I've been given.  For the opportunity to have had such an amazing mother and such a beautiful relationship with her. I'm grateful that things were good with us.  That she lived 1 Corinthians 13 to a tee.  I'm blessed that she was there when my child was born.  That she cared for her throughout the first year of her life.  I'm deeply thankful to the man who shifted what I thought would be a middle name to a first and thereby leaving me a child with my mother's name.  This year I have met some wonderful people through this thing that I do.  This ranting, this joking, this pouring out of my feelings.  Thank you for bringing me through some hard days.

I bid farewell to 2011 with a tad bit of sadness.  Because in the overwhelming sorrow of this year I also found unspeakable joy.  How has your year been?

Risks and Faith

I've been running around all day in an emotional rollercoaster.  For a lot of different reasons.  Most, you know. Others, I keep tied to the strings of my heart.  Tonight, as I looked through papers that needed to be purged, old notebooks and cards, I found something.  Now, I am pretty sure I wrote this. Part of me wonders if I really did write this.  But, I was known to write stuff like this and then put it up in poster format so as to pontificate and make it look pretty.  I have no recollection of what I was going through when I did.

But, I'm glad I found it.  From the notebook it was in, this must have been written circa 2005.  I guess 30 year old me figured I would need to hear this today, eh?  This is what it says:

I take risks everyday.  I take them because I refuse to live in a bubble of fear.  Not that I'm not scared to death.  I just push myself (or drag myself, depending on the situation) straight into my fear.  Why? Because as frightened as I am, I still haven't lost my faith.  And that's what keeps me going.  Faith keeps my dreams alive.  It allows me to trust someone wholeheartedly.  To give all I can in everything I do.  It allows me to believe in the impossible, the magical.  In dreams, imaginary friends and fairy tales.  There's no better way to find peace in your heart than faith.  No better comfort in knowing that some things were just meant to be whether or not you're scared.  Nothing better than faith to cure you of your fears.

I'm so glad my faith continues to grow day by day. I don't much love the growing pains but, I know it's not in vain. I do believe in dreams coming true and fairy tales.  Always the fairy tale.  Because we always forget all the hell that the princesses went through in the story and all we remember is the happily ever after.  And not just from a boy/girl perspective. But in everything in life I believe in the fairy tale.  Your dream job, your dream house, your dream car, your dream iPad. You name it.  I'll be posting this somewhere in my line of sight so that I can read it and internalize it even more so.  Because I need this more than anyone right now.

What are your thoughts on faith?

Sunday Blessings: Messages

My blog late on Friday confessing that I wasn't feeling the holidays stirred up some emotions.  It also allowed me to be free from that sense and feeling and focus on the reason for the season.  Thanks to all who sent messages and left comments.  I firmly believe that we all serve a purpose in the divine.  Regardless of what you believe, I am convinced that there's a reason for you being here, reading this blog, right at this moment in your life.  Most times it's not even so that you can get something out of it but, so that you can help me (and others) on our particular journey. I'm not going to get too metaphysical here.  The sermon on Christmas Eve was about getting beyond ourselves during this season. Beyond our feelings of hurt, sorrow and sadness. It was deep and thought-provoking as most, if not all, of Dr. Hunter's messages are.  If you want a more concise explanation, you'll have to check it out for yourself as I'm terrible at paraphrasing sermons.  I equate it to me eating an orange.  When I'm done with it, all that's left is the stuff that I couldn't eat and who wants to put that in their mouths afterwards? In the same fashion, I digest the Word, take out all of the juices and it takes me a while to digest and my body to produce it as nourishment for another (pretty deep, eh? Bet you never thought a sermon was like an orange).

Right after church, I received a message from a kindred spiritual being.  My brother from another mother.  A man that I once shared the stage with. A beautiful dancer with an even more beautiful soul.  To anyone else who might read the message, it might sound harsh.  But knowing him as I do, his words came straight from the heart, with nothing but love and sprinkled with quite a few messages from my mami.

At the root of it was the same message I'd heard minutes prior.  There's more to it than you.  More to it than this pain and in order for me to continue the work that I feel I was put on this earth to do (including shepherding my frog princess along), I need to put my big girl panties on and get going!  As I read his message all I could do was smile and nod in agreement. With that, I was able to enjoy my Christmas Eve as best as I could and I have been able to find peace on this Christmas Day.

I love that as connected beings, we can reach the heart and soul of someone else.  That we can minister with words when actions do not (and vice versa).  That a sorrowful confession on Friday turned into a lesson taught on Saturday and a smiling heart on Sunday.

It is my deepest hope that all of my readers (who I consider family and friends probably because most of you are just that) have found the reason for the season in these past few days.  That you've looked beyond the presents under the tree and looked around to see the presence of those that count.  That you are leading your life with purpose in spite of the hurt, sorrow or disappointments that you might be feeling.

Consider this my Christmas message.  May this coming year lead you to your purpose and may you find or remember the reason not just for the season but for your being.

How was your Christmas?

Finding a Little Christmas Magic

I've fallen off the editorial calendar wagon. It's okay, the grief counselor said not to commit to anything during this first holiday season without mami so, I'm cutting myself some slack and you should too! I'm taking a break from my nervous breakdown earlier today after finding that one of the awesome closet systems I purchased was missing some parts.  A few puffs into a paper bag after looking at the mounds of clothes, bags and boxes that I'd taken out of the closet and voila! I was good as new.  But, I digress.

Have I told you that I love the holidays?  From preparing for Thanksgiving to planning for the new year.  Always have. This time seems magical to me in so many different ways.  Last year, though, mami went in to the hospital on Christmas Eve as I made my way out of town. I'm still working to get over the guilt of that. I turned around and came right back but, the thought that I was not present on her very last Christmas day here on earth is hard to swallow.  Needless to say, I've been on a roller coaster of emotions over the last few weeks.  If you know me, I want to apologize in advance for not being myself.  I hope you understand.  If you don't well, then there are bigger problems to resolve like, how can I get you out of my contact list.

Mami loved Christmas.  She was a giver and I learned that little talent from her.  I love giving.  And this year it has been especially hard because as much as I want to pick something up for this person or that, I can't.  I got a couple of things for the frog princess and the monkey king and that's about it.  The rest of whatever "extra" cash I had has gone to my Bags of Blessings for Babies. I make each and every bag hoping that the person NOT getting a gift from me this year will understand that I've invested in a cause that's near and dear to my heart.  I aim to make these bags in mami's honor.  She loved children.  One day soon, I'll tell you about one of my earliest memories of giving.  In each one, she was very much present.

This week, I told my dad about my Christmas project and expressed how disappointed I was that I didn't think to start this earlier and how I'd love to be able to do more than the 12 bags that I plan on putting together with the help of a few of you who have donated.  And then it happened. The Christmas magic that I have fallen in love with over and over again.

I received a Tweet from Olive Garden:

It didn't refer back to any of my previous Tweets and at first I was slightly suspicious but, I contacted them.  Long story short, they wanted to help with my cause.  And I was shocked.  Speechless even.  I haven't really been able to put words to this until now.  An answered prayer.  Olive Garden wants to help me!  They are giving me a $500 Target gift card! What do you say to that?  Um, YES PLEASE!  I'm praying the card gets here in time for me to take advantage of the totally awesome Target sale that's going on.  They have the majority of the items that I need (snap tees, onesies, towels, blankets) on sale as a buy one, get one 50% off.  If that sale holds, I think I can put together 40 additional bags for these babies (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I took away the one and carried the three during that little bit of remedial math I was forced to engage in).

Thank you does not seem to be enough!  Not just for the mamis and babies that will receive a special package on a most special day when perhaps hope has been lost and they are wondering what will come next.  But for reminding me that in spite of everything that's going on, in spite of the rough year I have had, God still smiles down on me.  That people care about others.  That I'm on the right track as I continue to help others in spite of my circumstances.  And that there's still Christmas magic in my midst.

Have you had anything this week remind you of the magic of Christmas?