feeling blessed

I have long known the power of gratitude, and I genuinely try to be a practitioner of gratitude consciousness, remaining ever aware of my blessings. This is difficult to do when one’s primary relationship is toxic and while going through a divorce, so there were several years during which I struggled mightily to maintain a positive outlook.

I can honestly say that I’m mostly there now…feeling happy and blessed is my normal state of mind. Further, I believe I’m experiencing the results of this energy; things I’ve wanted to manifest for some time are practically hurtling toward me.

Take, for example, my home:  I’ve had contractors for two separate household projects either begin work or call to move up the start date of their respective projects. How perfect that I’ve just had a long weekend with a free day to drive around shopping for paint colors, tile, knobs and fixtures until I was positively exhausted! How cool to have finally found a combination of elements that inspired me and I believe will come together perfectly!

The other day, one of my children proclaimed me “awesome” and went on to enumerate the reasons I’m a great mother. It warmed my heart!

Another example is all the friends, neighbors and even complete strangers who’ve offered to set me up on dates. A wonderful married couple in my neighborhood are conspiring to have a backyard party where I will be in the company of a single man they think might be a match — at the very least we have a few things in common. And the woman who helped me at a tile shop the other day asked me if I’d like to meet her brother-in-law. Yes.

Finally, I was reading a book about financial abundance (money) that suggested writing down everything incoming each day, regardless of the source. (Obviously, this is meant for entrepreneurs, not folks like me who receive a salary.) Still, I added up my salary, bonus and even the support I receive for my children and realized that the number I’d given myself as an annual target a couple of years ago has already been surpassed. I finally feel as though I’ve recovered (financially) from my divorce and can really focus on planning for my and my family’s future. It’s time to set a new goal and open myself to other ways of receiving!

Getting to spend two days on the lake — getting sunshine, exercise and a chance to catch up with girlfriends — over this long holiday weekend was the icing on the cake. As a dear friend often says, “to the bounty!”

Cheers…to the bounty, indeed!

spring status

It’s been a while since I’ve dropped in for a simple status update, so here it is:

  • I mentioned earlier that I’m getting a bit of attention since going back online. I’ve got two or three dates lined up for this weekend. Should be fun! There are actually a couple of the guys with whom I’m really enjoying communicating, and I’m looking forward to meeting them.
  • While I don’t listen to him exclusively / obsessively anymore, I’m still mad about Bob Schneider, the man who got me through the worst days of my divorce — and I think you should check out his tunage when you can.
  • I am so happy and I love my life so much! The children are at a spectacular age, I’m enjoying time outdoors and I am so fulfilled with the richness and blessings in my life. Gratitude!
  • I go to work each day happy for the challenges I face and the rewarding work I get to do. And today was an incredibly productive day — yay!
  • I get the weekend off! Which is great, because I actually have studying to do and I can’t wait to dig in and learn something new.
  • The berries are becoming ripe and the rhubarb is ready for harvest (again) — I love the fecundity of my little patch of soil. And I can’t wait to make a rhubarb crisp to share with my work colleagues.
  • My daughter’s teacher was a real hard ass about “may” vs. “can.” As a result, my daughter uses “may I…” — hooray for proper grammar!

You see? It really is the simple things that bring so much joy.

What else have I brought up that I need to close the loop? Let me know if there’s something you’re dying to hear about.

Independence Day status report

Today, Independence Day to be exact, seems like as good a day as any to report on the status of my own independence…and I do have some good news to report:

Today I felt that old, elusive feeling…the feeling I recall feeling at thirty (a decade ago), after I’d purchased my first condo and luxury car, knowing that I was self-reliant and could allow myself abundance. I felt a glimpse of that in-the-flow, abundant feeling, completely fulfilled, with no need of anything more than what I have here; complete in and grateful for all that I am and all that I have.

Wow! Seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this way, and recognizing it brings the realization that I’ve spent too much time in the past couple of years feeling inadequate, damaged or lonely… in a word, like a failure.

The hidden message or blessing in this is that I don’t feel like I need a man in my life to be complete. At some point, I’d love to find a co-conspirator and partner, but right now I feel happy to be single me, happy to be a mother to my littles and simply filled with joy at being present.

Sure, I’m still dealing with some lingering pain, loneliness and resentment…but even acknowledging that is an act of further letting go, further allowing myself to heal.

And here’s where I come back to the dating thing. At this very moment, I don’t care if I date any time soon. Sure, I’d love to go out and have some fun — and to have someone fun with whom to have fun. But I do have those people — I have girlfriends. Many of the men I’ve met online have proven flaky and seem to not have taken the time to heal themselves. I’m not saying that as a judgment, because I’ve been pretty wishy-washy, too.

What I am saying is “do the work, people!” It’s worth it to heal yourself and be whole before you try it all over again.

on discovering the power of gratitude

About eleven years ago…

I had been seeing a chiropractor who practices applied kinesiology (AK) for more than a year, and I loved that my body and mind had embraced this process for healing and growth. For those of you who are not familiar, AK (sometimes called Body Talk) practitioners initiate a dialogue with the body’s energy, using the arm as a lever, to diagnose and identify optimal treatment.

Over the past many months, I had experienced better adrenal function, detoxified my liver and kidneys, nearly eliminated symptoms of PMS and more. Then, as I lay on my back with arm held straight in the air, I heard, “You are experiencing lack in your ovaries, and your body is asking for a lifestyle change.”

Crap! Was I about to be asked to stop drinking?

Continuing to use my arm as a lever to determine how my body wanted to heal, we learned that the lifestyle change related to money. So my chiropractor asked me to tell him what was going on with money in my life.

At the time, I lived in a rental duplex, owned two cars, had no revolving debt and lived as well or better than many of the friends I knew. Still, I had certain ideas about my situation, which I expressed something like this:

  • I felt as though I was living check to check, yet I was putting $400 per month into an investment account and could easily lower that amount if I needed more accessible cash.
  • I was renting, and the real estate market was climbing rapidly. By not owning property, I believed I was missing out on an investment growth opportunity, equity in a home.
  • Owning two cars seemed ridiculous. I loved them both, but had no storage for the impractical sports car that needed extra love and care.

However, when we tried my arm as a lever on solutions to any of the above — free up cash, buy a home, sell a car — none worked. My chiropractor had a few suggestions of his own. My body responded to “practice gratitude consciousness.”

I was thus assigned the homework of practicing gratitude for an hour each day. When I awoke each morning, I was to choose a time, randomizing my sessions, so that I didn’t make a habit of defaulting to a time of day when I was naturally more inclined to feel good. And then I was to think about what I was grateful for during the specified time.

I began with what I thought would be easy — my new car. I had recently purchased a luxury car with leather seats, a great stereo, moon roof, etc. For months, every time I got in my car, I thanked myself. So it was a huge surprise to hear a little argument go on in my head:

“I love my car. I’m so grateful that I allowed myself to have something so nice!”

“Yeah, but all my friends drive BMWs.”

“My car drives even nicer than their BMWs.”

“Still, BMWs have more prestige…”

Observing my own back talk was a revelation to me, and it took a conscious effort to quiet the voice of dissent inside.

Another observation was that I hated paying bills — internet, phone, insurance, rent… But I was practicing gratitude, so I had to develop a new way of thinking about them. I learned to bless each bill as I received and paid it, thinking about how grateful I was to be blessed with whatever each bill represented. I didn’t grow up with internet service — and it was a wonderful new way to stay connected with friends around the world; I wore beautiful designer clothing, so I could easily be grateful for my department store credit card bill, and so on… Bills became friendly reminders of my abundant life.

A month passed and I was back in my chiropractor’s office. “How did it go?” he asked about my homework.

I chuckled hesitantly:  “I’m not sure I did very well at it.”


“Well, it was difficult to maintain for an hour — I experienced a lot of back talk.”

“You didn’t think you had to list things for an hour, did you?”

“No, but I thought that I should be able to just feel gratitude, and then ride the wave of that great feeling for longer than I was able to sustain it.”

My body no longer requested the practice, but I tried to keep it up in my daily life. It brought about a nice feeling of contentment. But the astounding part of this story is what and how quickly other intentions manifested in my life:

  • I continued to contribute to my investment account, and was able to release the check-to-check feeling.
  • Within six weeks, I had sold my sports car for more than I’d paid for it.
  • Within three months, I had bought and moved into a condo in a great neighborhood.
  • And, finally, you’ll recall that the issue my gratitude practice was to resolve was a feeling of lack in my ovaries. Approximately six months later, I was pregnant with my first child!

It’s been a challenge to feel grateful for much of these past couple of years, and I’m happy to have the practice back into my life!

a few random things about me

I keep a gratitude journal, and find great value in noticing and reflecting on the blessings each of us knows in our lives. I genuinely believe that gratitude is among the most powerful emotions, and I’ve personally experienced profound changes in my life from practicing it.

I dance in my kitchen and sing along with the radio, iTunes or Pandora…despite the fact that I might as well be tone-deaf. I am a truly average singer, and I limit my karaoke episodes to bi-annual occasions and I choose either rap or The Tide is High by Blondie for the limited vocal range required.

When I’m having a really crabby day, I force myself to step out of my emotional stinginess by tipping better. It always helps to realize that there are others in society around me that contribute to my lifestyle, and I am able to be more generous and contribute to theirs. It doesn’t always make me feel better in the moment, but I like the idea of how this practice forces me to step outside of my own bad mood and give.

I like hats. All kinds of hats. But I only look good in some of them.

One of my dreams is to live in a custom-built modern home that may incorporate reclaimed shipping containers. What a cool concept! And I think modern can be incredibly warm and inviting.

I believe we create karma, and that we will attract the energy we put out into the universe.

I love reading fortunes from fortune cookies! And horoscopes. Fun! And I actually believe there can be some validity to the latter of these.

My longest committed relationship is with my hair stylist, with whom I’ve been for roughly 16.5 years.

I was a “Becky Homecky” in my youth:  I learned to bake, garden, sew and craft, participated in my county’s 4-H program and even won a trip or two to the State Fair for my efforts. Still, I have many friends who can out Martha me.

I am more religious about seeing my applied kinesiologist/chiropractor once a month than I am about anything else. He does this muscle testing stuff that allows him to have a dialogue with my body’s energy. I know, it sounds crazy…I always feel as though I’m saying something like, “I was abducted by a UFO…No, really! You’ve got to believe me!” But I always walk out feeling better.

I am a Libra, a romantic, a fool for love. I crush easily and hard. I am in love with being in love. Maybe even addicted to it.

I try to eat organic and local foods, recycle, compost and otherwise minimize my impact on the environment.

I’m a late bloomer. Many of the relationship lessons I’ve learned along the way and I’m writing about now are things I feel I should have learned earlier or known intuitively.

I’m a sucker for cheesy romantic pop songs, a la “Marry Me” by Train to actually good songs like “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel. (I also like good music…usually alternative…often via the public radio station here.)

I miss traveling internationally. It’s been too long, and Italy, France and Thailand are calling! I’d prefer to immerse myself into the culture and learn through connecting to the natives than by engaging in the typical tourist experiences.

I was once told by a “seer” that my spiritual symbol is a frog. I sit and I sit and I sit…and then I leap. Right now, my legs are starting to twitch. Watch how far I go!

I’m a complete blabbermouth. If you tell me something is a secret, I will take it to my grave. If you don’t tell me it’s a secret, there’s a good likelihood that absolutely everyone knows. I also have little discretion and no filter. There, I said it.

I am equally comfortable in worn jeans at a dive bar and in a cocktail dress at the opera. I relish the great diversity of experiences life has to offer!

I believe commitment has its own rewards. I believe that working on a relationship and emerging stronger and more resilient after a difficult time will pay great dividends to those who persevere.

I don’t believe in saving things for a special occasion that will never come. Every day is special. (I do, however, keep a stash of activities for children that I can pull out on a rainy day.)

My cup is always at least half full and, often, overflowing! Happiness and optimism are conscious decisions and an outlook we can choose to adopt. I also believe these qualities can be taught or nurtured in our children.

My deepest desire is to find someone to share with — a companion, mate and co-conspirator! But I have a pretty damn rockin’ life independently, as well. Oh, and write. My other deepest desire is to write…which I’m doing…now, in fact. I’m writing right now.

an update on my life as a cliche

I wrote earlier that I quit my job and that I was seeing some really positive results, and I’d like to elaborate on what’s been going on. Essentially, the issue was that I was at a very big company and, no matter how hard I worked or what fantastic programs I created or what results I achieved, my impact was never going to be visible. It was a really big ship, headed a certain direction, with a few people steering. I was merely one among of thousands of paddlers.

Each day since, I’ve tried to fit yoga or some form of exercise and meditation into my life. I truly want to stretch the boundaries of the abundance I’m willing to welcome into my life, so I am really working at creating and visualizing an amazing new opportunity. I’m having coffees and lunches regularly, re-activating my network and meeting entirely new people to talk about my strengths and passions, and what opportunities there may be in fields of interest.

I’ve applied for some jobs online, and here’s what’s strange about that:  I remember the chore of navigating the online applications (I hate you, Taleo!) only for those jobs I didn’t care about. I don’t even recall applying for the jobs I really wanted to learn more about. And, the beautiful news is that all the right companies have been calling me back. The companies and roles in which I’m truly interested, in which I can make an impact for the good of the world, and where I can be as much or more steersman than paddler are the ones for which I’m being interviewed. And it feels great to pace the kitchen in my pajamas, untethered by phone cord, business attire or office, and speak knowledgeably and candidly about why I left my last role and how I can contribute in a new one.

In no fewer than five phone or in-person conversations, I interviewed for two manager roles and one senior director role. I think because of my previous title and the way really big companies have to dumb them down to squeeze in all those layers, I didn’t really know where I might fit into smaller organizations, so I’ve been applying to a range of positions. Interestingly, the manager-level interviews were the greatest struggle. The positions are in small-enough organizations so that I would be the be-all, end-all servant of all things mar-comm. And I’m better at forward thinking, planning, challenging and innovating than I am at a heavy load of donkey work.

When I spoke with the executive recruiter for the senior director position, I was surprised at how confident and at home I felt in the level of discussion. The roles and responsibilities for the position matched my strengths and experience well. We were on the same wavelength. It felt great! In the midst of all this, I had some additional and very encouraging networking lunches and a new business meeting, too. Positive feedback was coming from every direction, and I was starting to feel like a power manifester!

So, by Friday, I was ready for a break. A girlfriend invited me to a spontaneous lunch, and I was delighted. I thought about canceling my early afternoon networking meeting in favor of doing some shopping. But I went anyway. Sure enough, while talking with my contact, he told me that all the director-level positions within the organization had been filled…and then he recommended that I apply for another opportunity that had just opened up, Vice President of Marketing. Woo-hoo! Once again, I am reminded that the universe has a delightful sense of humor.

So, to briefly recap the evolution of my search:

  • I had to leave the position I was in to spend the time and effort figuring out what my next step might be. I’m still not crystal clear and the opportunities for which I’ve interviewed have all been vastly different, but their commonalities are that I will feel I’m putting something more positive into the world, that I will be able to make a greater immediate contribution to the organization and have greater visibility.
  • Even though I am not safely, happily and comfortably within a new role, I feel great about where I’m at and that I’m being authentic to myself in the path I’m taking. Speaking my truth and having that met with positive cues or responses is contributing to my belief that I’m taking all the right steps.
  • I would not have had the confidence to apply for a vice president position while in my old role — and, in fact, the progression of interviewing for two manager positions and realizing the senior director role is a much better match is what’s given me the confidence to go for it!

So you see, I’ve made a certain amount of progress on my path. I’m going to keep working my plan, putting my authentic self out there, knowing that the right one of these wonderful opportunities will manifest at the right time. Meanwhile, I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity to go about this my way.

Up next:  an online dating update.

true story: the gift that kept on giving

Every so often I get a call from an old friend to tell me a truly heartwarming story…about a car. I know this sounds really weird, but bear with me.

There was a time in my late twenties during which I lived in an apartment, owned two cars — a luxury model my friends dubbed “the golden slipper” and a sports car — both of which were parked on the street. And I got tired of maintaining them both — trying to wash off the tree crud and wax them and insure them both. It seemed a little ridiculous for a single gal. And, as much as I loved my responsive little Mazda RX-7 and manual 5-speed transmission, I was ready to let her go.

Some background:  I had purchased the RX-7 from my mother and stepfather. It was originally a California car, in pristine condition, never exposed to road salt or the elements. I don’t recall the year anymore — only that it was deemed one of the best years in terms of design. I paid $3,000 in $500 installments, unloading a Ford Taurus in the process.

I loved and babied the car, storing it during the midwest winters. Eighteen months after I’d purchased it, the RX-7 and I were caught in a hail storm. The insurance company deemed it a total loss and assigned the fair market value at something approaching $5,700. After deducting the salvage cost, I drove my car home with a $3,800 check in hand — on the white finish, you could barely see the hail dents.

A year later, I realized it was time to sell one of my cars. I was ready to let the RX-7 go. I took some photos and cobbled together the kind of flyer you see posted on bulletin boards, with tear-off phone numbers along the bottom, and sent these along to work with several friends. A few days later, I had a message from someone who worked with my friend Joe. He came with his 17-year-old son to look at the RX-7. I cautioned him:  she wasn’t a car for a teenager, she should be stored in the winter, a young kid with no experience driving a stick shift could get in trouble with a high-revving responsive car like this. The more I cautioned them, the more determined they seemed. I suddenly didn’t want to sell my car, at least not to a 17-year-old boy, yet I eventually let her go for $3,750.

And that’s how a boy named Evan drove off with a car that captivated his interest and imagination. The RX-7, with its Wankel rotary engine, quickly became his passion and obsession. He was able to give the car more love and attention than I had, and he reached out to online forums and groups to chat, learn and explore everything there was to know about the car and its engine. He worked to make payments on the car and for his insurance, and bought parts to replace any that were no longer pristine. Regular updates came to me from Joe, who heard these things from the boy’s father. Evan’s older brother had turned to drugs, and their father was positively convinced that a car, my car, had saved his son’s life.

After graduating high school, Evan moved to Arizona and opened a mechanic’s shop, specializing in his passion for RX-7s and the rotary engine. He had an online presence and sold parts. He was doing very well for himself and his father was proud to go visit him.

It’s been the better part of a decade since I’ve heard updates from Joe on his co-worker’s son. So it was fun to hear recently, out of the blue, what Evan’s up to now:

He acquired an RX-8 when they came out and began playing with that, too, replacing, upgrading and customizing. He shared his work on YouTube. And Mazda saw what he was doing and asked him to do some work for them.

I don’t know the details. I only know that it feels so good to hear that someone’s life can be touched randomly, when they find that one thing that sparks their passion. And it’s lovely to think that an object, a possession, might be truly special — special enough to give me back more than I paid for it twice, and special enough to alter a young man’s life permanently. His return on investment must be much, much greater than mine. That car was charmed, I swear, and I am grateful to have been a steward of her magic, even if for such a short time.

And, in the same way that hearing the latest in this story warmed my heart earlier this week, I hope you got a warm, fuzzy feeling reading about it. Personally, I needed a little something positive today.

mantras and meditations

Trying to get my groove back has taken me back to some old-school ways — like yoga and meditation.

When my mind is racing and I have trouble falling asleep, I’ve taken to using a mantra as I focus on my breath. Sometimes, just focusing on my breathing isn’t enough. It takes words to overwrite the words of the racing thoughts. So, when I breathe in, I think “abundance,” and when I breathe out I think “gratitude.” In other words, I’m allowing myself to take in abundance from the universe and sending gratitude back out into the universe. And it does calm my mind.

I’ve added another two-word combo to my repertoire recently:  “allow” on the inhale, “release” on the exhale. I could use a regular reminder to allow myself to be open to blessings, and to release anything negative by exhaling it out.

What two-word combos will you practice?