Archive for the ‘Personal Growth’ Category

There is a saying from the late, great Stephen Covey that goes, ‘The main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing.’

Tricky to understand yes. Even trickier to follow through with for two reasons. (more…)

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One of my handy dandy little hobbies is reading tarot cards.  My mom has read them for countless years, and I’ve kind of tagged along doing it mostly for friends who are open to it, and to help get clear in my own head

So, here’s the deal, comment on this post and I’ll pull a card for you. This isn’t a full reading, you can contact me for that. This is a one card, what you need to know now kind of thing.

I use the Universal Waite cards, there are no negative cards. There may be lessons you need to hear, you may get the shake down to get your head on straight, or you may just need to get out into nature more.

So If you’re interested, comment below, and I’ll pull a card for you!

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This is a powerful blog post by a fellow mommy blogger called “Meet Penny”.

Please take the time to read it.



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From Wikipedia: “Saint John of the Cross’ poem narrates the journey of the soul from its bodily home to its union with God. The journey is called “The Dark Night”, because darkness represents the hardships and difficulties the soul meets in detachment from the world and reaching the light of the union with the Creator.”

While I haven’t had the ultimate journey to my Creator yet, I feel we can certainly have our own ‘dark night’ here on earth.

It’s funny, how we say, ‘that dark night’ when, usually, its several nights. Perhaps months or even years. Dark times sometimes befall us and it just lingers for a while. Sometimes we learn the lessons presented to us, sometimes we suffer over and over from them.

I had my dark nights over and over while going through my divorce. My divorce and custody battles lasted four years. Even now, I’m still not sure what the ex may have up his sleeve.

Reading court papers about you can be extremely hard on the emotions. When my friend went through her divorce, I was able to look at her court docs from a detached view and help her, logically, and without much emotion. Looking at my papers, even now, gets my heart racing and my palms sweaty.

During the process, I had a lot of supporters. People who knew what I had been through, and was going through, were there for me. I vented to them, talked things out with them, and tried to strategize using their knowledge, wisdom, and experience.

With all their support, love, and input it still came down to this; I was all alone in my head. I could not escape myself or the committee. I could not escape the experience I was going through and no matter how many people were ‘around’ me, I was walking through this experience alone. There was no pinch hitter to step in for me. It was my experience and it was stifling how alone I felt.

These were my dark nights, when the thought of walking through the experience paralyzed me with sadness, fear, anger, and other emotions I can’t even put words to. These were the nights that dropped me to my knees begging God to hold my hand and bathe me in Its love.

Recently, my friend and her husband discovered he has pancreatic cancer. He’s 42 with three children, the youngest being just four years old.

They are in the thick of it, too. He was diagnosed and they immediately operated, placed the port, and started chemo and radiation. His chemo side affects are typical; loss of appetite, weight loss, sores in the mouth, intestinal distress, and so on.

The thought of her losing her husband, the love of her life is heart stopping for my friend. And when I last spoke with her, the dark nights were rolling in one after another for her.

With me, she knows she can say anything and it doesn’t bother me. She can cry, yell, get angry, scream, whatever and I quietly sit and give her the sacred space to do that without any reservation or judgement.

Interestingly enough, she said exactly what I had experienced while going through the divorce; no matter how many people stop by, send cards, call, email, or pray, her experience of this must be done alone. And it’s terrifying and it pisses her off.

For most, we don’t know how to walk through it. It’s like walking a tight rope with nowhere to land should we fall off, or lose our grip on the situation. It’s the release of ego and, ultimately, release of control. Terrifying for most.

Eventually, I came to a point where I had to make my life all about, ‘one day at a time’. If necessary, it became one hour at a time, one minute, one second. And if I could make it that one hour, I figured I could probably make it another hour.

My friend is figuring this out as well. Some moments all we can do is promise ourself, ‘ok, I’m just going to do my best to get through this minute and then we’ll take it from there.’

There is no thinking about the minute or hour or day to come. We can only take on that moment at hand. Otherwise, it we suffocate. It teaches us, truly, how to live in the moment, lest we go mad with the thoughts that come flooding into our head.

It is one of the greatest lessons I took away from that disaster that was my marriage and subsequent divorce. It is the one lesson I am able to fall on when things come crashing down around me. It is what I grabbed on to in desperation during all those dark nights. It was in this space that I was able to meet the quiet compassion and strength of my Creator and develop a relationship with that energy.

I know my friend and her husband aren’t quite there to closing this chapter on their lives but as they move through the process, I can see my friend learning the necessity of just getting through the moment. I watch and think, ‘isn’t it amazing how differently we learn the same lesson.’

And in that, I can find the beauty within all the pain.

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Close to what I look like on the bike, but not exactly. I wear a helmet.

This past week I rediscovered a love of mine and have been busy with it.

I was talking with a friend the other day about mt. biking. I have an incredible mt bike that I was able to score a swinging deal on years ago from Bianchi. It was easier back then to get toys like that, as I worked in the sports and outdoor industry. When I purchased the Grizzly from Bianchi, it was one of their top of the line mountain bikes.

My husband at the time was a major bike-geek and spent hundreds more upgrading many of the components on the bike because he wanted to ride it. By the time I left him the shock had been upgraded, as had the bars, the saddle and rear cassette, stem, grips, etc. Needless to say, it is a dream bike to ride.

One of the things about the ex was in the beginning of our relationship, he was attracted to my athletic abilities. I had been racing in triathlon for about 10 years and had done pretty ok with it.

After a while, he became really competitive with me. A regular Saturday run or ride became a competition where he needed to finish before me. It stopped being about a couple that ran together, and became a ‘I must leave you in the dust.’ effort.

Eventually, I stopped training with him altogether. Who wants the stress of that?

When ever we raced together, he made sure he pointed out all my mistakes. If Ihad done well, he’d insist that it wasn’t ‘that’ good. When I did Ironman Canada, he was more jealous than proud of my efforts and made sure he told me that ‘anyone’ could do an Ironman. He hardly spoke to me before and after the event. Even though, for me, the thrill of just being able to train and race was enough to make me happy, I was sad that my husband was more about bringing me down about my training and racing than happy to be with me doing it together.

After a while, because of that, because of the kids, because of the divorce, I stopped riding altogether. I had sold my road bike to help pay for bills and didn’t have any one to go mountain biking with, so I hung it up. But I refused to sell it.

Eventually, I purchased a ‘used’ road bike and got back out on the road (even raced a triathlon late last year!).

Then, for the first time in four years, I dusted off my mountain bike, lubed the chain, pumped up the tires and went out this past week.

It wasn’t anything extreme. The runkeeper app on my iPhone says it was a 10.9 mile ride. Just under 90 minutes of climbing and descents.

Oh. Boy. It was like being a kid again. I was SO thankful for my granny gear chain ring on the heavy climbs. Just when I think I’m in shape, I do something to show me that there is always room for improvement!

The downhills were fast, and exhilarating.   I was astonished at how well the Grizzly handled. It practically steered itself, and there were numerous times when I had to remind myself to ease back on my grip on the bars.

I came home full of adrenaline, higher than a kite. I bubbled all day long, was ravenous for good, clean food, and slept well that night. It was a feeling of passion that I had not felt in years. YEARS.

I went again on Wednesday. I had taught a spin class at 6 am and thought I might blow it off, but felt good enough that I decided to go. I did the same ride. Somehow, I managed to go a bit further in less time. Again, the adrenaline came, the feeling of accomplishment, and getting a good workout in all while having fun.

This is exactly how it used to feel when I trained and why I used to compete so much. It was pure JOY!

During the ride, I started thinking…I’ve been riding for years. I mean, YEARS. And I still had to remind myself of basic techniques to keep me from going off into the brush, to increase my speed, and to improve my pedal stroke on the climbs.

This got me thinking of last year when I was doing assistant coaching for a triathlon team, I worked with the participants (mostly women) on bicycle handling skills. These were women who had either done their first triathlon, or were training to do their first one.  As we rode, I could see many of them struggling with their bikes. They weren’t seated correctly, their bikes weren’t fitted properly, they were struggling to hold a line (stay in a straight line), they were fighting getting up the hills, they had death grips on their bars, and so on.

I also remembered a story my friend told me of a time he was racing and an amateur competitor cut him off, clipped his wheel, and down my friend went. As the amateur continued on down the road, my friend dealt with road rash, a broken collar-bone and damaged bike.

And the thought came to me, there needs to be more bicycle handling skills clinics for beginning cyclists. I know many people who say they like to ride their bikes, but it makes them nervous. These are the same people who then take on a triathlon and endanger themselves and other participants.

So I’m thinking, what if I offered a clinic only to women to learn the basics of bicycle safety, changing tires, changing gears, proper nutrition, clothing, etc, as well as basic bike handling skills?

I know the huge rush of happy happy I get when riding my bike, but I’m so comfortable on my bikes that I can practically let go of the bars and trust my current skills in most situations.

While I don’t expect others to get there with one bike clinic, at least they can be more comfortable on the bike and that means more fun, and that can lead to more time on the bike, and becoming more comfortable, and more fun and..well….you get the idea.

Anyway, I think I am going to look into it. Perhaps start with the local community activity calendar. Jeez, combining my love of riding with something that can help others. Is this what is mean when they say, ‘do what you love’? It sure does feel good.

What do you think? Would you take something like that? Would you like your kids to have a clinic similar that as they learn how to ride? what would you be willing to pay for a one or two-day clinic?

What would you like to see, or be offered with a bike clinic? Where do you think you would need some help when it comes to riding a bicycle?

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Start by reading the infographic and meet me at the bottom. Or, if you’re like me, scroll right to the bottom, read the post, grab a bite to eat, check facebook, make sure the kids aren’t demolishing the house,  then go back to the infographic.

The Descent into Credit Card Debt Hell

graphic by mint.com

I got my first credit card back when I started attending college. So it was, you know, only about five years ago. ha. Anyway, they based my credit ‘worthiness’ on my parent’s income, not mine. If they had based it on mine, it would have been declined. DUH. I was 19 years old and my working career consisted of a few years at a pizza parlor. The card was an American Express, believe it or not.

My mom snatched that card from my spendy little hands, before I even knew how to triumphantly say ‘CHHHARRRRRGE IT!’ properly.

Months later, I got a discover card. Then a Visa. Then the first bill. Guess they weren’t gonna let me keep that new guitar for nothing.

Then the burden of the debt climbed onto my back like a good little monkey. It’s almost like a rite of passage these days. I was fortunate, I didn’t leave college with a mountain of college loans. Then again, back then, tuition was $350 a semester and living in a three bedroom flat with several roommates brought the costs down.

Fast forward to my thirties. I was married with one child, we had our first house, a new car, and one other vehicle that I had been paying for on a five-year loan. We ‘thought’ we were living the American dream. We both thought, ‘well, this is what being an adult is about.’

Fast forward again another five years, we now had two children, two new vehicles, moved to another state with a bigger house and more debt. Crap. But my husband’s company was being acquired by UPS, so I knew we’d be able to pay it all off quickly.

Now, it didn’t help our situation that my then husband was an alcoholic, loved to buy things for himself, and ended up taking a job that paid $25K less than his current job. The stress of our debt was overwhelming and we lost everything except my truck. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYthing. We filed for bankruptcy, and walked away from our house and property. The trustee for the court for the bankruptcy scrutinized all our belongings trying to figure out a way that he could get money from us to pay off some of what we owed.

Eventually, we ended up with a $3,000 bill to the trustee because we had a little fart of a car that he felt was worth that amount. We wished. Plus we still needed the car, so we couldn’t sell it to pay off the debt. Even with bankruptcy, we ended up in debt. Go figure.

I didn’t realize the weight that the debt had placed on me. Even though I wanted to pay off that debt, I was truly relieved by the stress I was able to let go of after the bankruptcy. Still, it’s a better feeling when it can get paid off in full.

I vowed to take control of my personal finances and never depend on credit cards or credit again. My credit score was in the tanker, so I couldn’t have cared less about that and I knew if I did it right, my credit score would never matter again anyway.

Needless to say, the divorce came shortly thereafter. I became a wizard with the small income my two children and I were living off of.

Fortunately, by the time my 2nd husband and I were married I had educated myself on how to get out of debt. He came with quite a bit of it debt and had lost his house as well due to his divorce and the housing market.

When I told him my plan, and that I needed him to trust me, he let go of the financial reigns and allowed me take over. A month or so ago I came to him and showed him where we were.

Within three months, we have paid more than $4500 off and will be debt free in less than a year. That might not sound like a big deal, but that means we will have paid off more than $20K in just about a year.

This was without me going back to work (I stay at home). This was without us generating any more income than what we previously had. This was without ‘suffering’ through eating only top ramen. We eat really well, in fact. We still do things as a family (now with three kids) and he recently rebuilt the front end on his 1970 Chevelle.

When I told my husband our estimated ‘freedom from debt’ date he replied, ‘Really? That soon? Oh, man, that is amazing. Thank you.’. The emotion in his voice told the story of the burden HE has been carrying all these years.

I’m now starting to educate myself on sound investments because, baby, I’ll tell you what. Based on the money I was able to save each month to put towards debt, I will be putting towards investments when it’s all said and done.

We will not be in the 98% where people over 65 are either dead or dead broke. How about you?

The best part of all of this is, I get to show my kids how to make sound financial choices, how to save, how to spend, how to tithe (it’s not left at the church like we’ve all been taught!), how to create money and more. They see me working the finances, we talk about money when they get some and how to handle it, what it means, where it comes from, how to create more of what we have from what we have, etc.

I don’t know about you, but I was never given a financial education as a kid. No wonder I went into debt. I saw the credit cards as a kid, just never saw the bills that came in later! I won’t make that mistake with my kids. I hope you don’t either.

So the question is, are you ready to get rid of the debt you may have? Have you paid off debt? Would you care to share your story and how you were able to get out of debt?

If you have any tips that you feel contributed to you getting out of debt, I’d love to see them. If you are interested in how I did it, let me know and I’ll tell you what I did.

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As promised, here’s the 2nd video. Did you watch the first one yet? What did you think? I love when she asks about the Wiggles. Like I don’t know the Wiggles. Psshh.

This one is a bit longer, but Soooooo worth it. Your heart will get all gooey and squishy because you’ll ‘get it’. I’ve watched it several times and catch something new every time.

Validating others is like the old saying of chopping your own wood. It warms you twice, once when you cut it, and once when you burn it.

Validating (or edifying) others is the same way to me. I know they are receiving, whether they acknowledge it or not. Speaking good to and of someone is always awsomeness to the other person. It also feels good to do. We are so bombarded by negativity, the ‘sarcastic’ comments that really have a deeper dig than we realize, that when someone speaks highly of and to someone, and really validates them, people catch it.

Turn to whoever is closest and throw down a compliment. Validate them. I’m not kidding, it will totally change their day, your day, and shift the energy.

I’ve tried this with people I’m a bit prickly with (ex husband, ex in-laws, etc. There is a reason they are the exes). People I normally want to pinch so hard they cry. As much as I want to be far away from these people, I have to interact with them, so I do my best to do the opposite. I validate them. If there is a compliment I can genuinely give, I do. It changes the energy.

I’m not just kissing their ass. I’m not up for that. But I will throw down a genuine compliment or validate what they are saying.

It’s called being grown up.

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