Friday, July 29, 2011

Yet Another Reason To Love The FedEx Man

Stay or go? Stay or go?

This has become the question that I've asked myself nearly every hour of my day for the last two plus years. This same question has plagued me at night. It's driven me to make countless calls to Bank of America; it's even caused me to break down in tears on more than one of those calls.

But thanks to my sexy Fed Ex guy and early Friday deliveries, I know my answer and it's all good...


At least for now. The trial period is not a guarantee of a permanent loan modification and even if it was, I'm not certain that we're meant to be in this house for years to come. But at least in the short term, I can quit worrying about run-down rentals, lack of studio space and how Ben would survive without his sweet Molly dog.

By Christmas, I should know more about our new loan. Having some breathing room between now and then is a very, very good thing.

I can't end this post without adding that I definitely believe in the power of prayer and in faith, too. Now more than ever in my life, I'm all about conscious contact with God and it is a good, good thing.

We are indeed very, very blessed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Writing In WordPress

I'm going to get this out right now: I.hate.Wordpress.

Around the time that I ran out of business cards (two months ago!) I decided that it would be a good idea to develop a more professional web presence with a predominant theme. Friends told me that WordPress was the way to go and after following many, many blogs in the last few years, I agreed that the WordPress format was definitely superior to Blogger in many ways.

User functionality is not one of those and I only discovered this when I was midway into the project, with many ideas in my head and in my journal and no place to put them because there are widgets and tabs and all kinds of craziness that I simply cannot get my creative brain wrapped around.

So I seriously struggled for about two days and walked away from my computer more than ten, twenty, eighty times in sheer and total frustration.

Since Ben was out of town with his dad, I had no excuse to avoid the project although I did get a pedicure and while I'm not happy yet with the "finished" product, at least I have a functional URL and new business cards in my studio.

I have a few objectives for this site. First, I want to get back to writing about wellness. I dispense so much "advice" on this topic throughout my day that it makes good sense to have it accessible to more people. I also want to give my clients, and potential clients more resources on trends that I see in my industry, particularly in the areas of nutrition and exercise. Lastly, I want to figure out how to get Mr. WordPress off my Comments and also how to make my picture larger without it becoming a complete blur!

For the time being, I'm keeping the two blogs separate so to access the new blog, please use the following link:

And if you have any WordPress secrets, please message me! Soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Committed (and trashed)

Recently I've been trying to be more disciplined about certain areas of my life.

I certainly don't need any more discipline in the exercise department, but I have been making a fairly good attempt at reading, downloading music, hanging out with the dog and just unplugging, in general. It's working fairly well, I think.

One area that I've been neglecting is my writing. Check Spelling
I developed a new web site for my business and I wrote a few hand-written cards last week. I also opened up a brand new (and enormous) journal and filled up three pages. And obviously I've had a few things to say here, too.

But I've been wanting to do more - something that pushes me a bit.

When I happened across a contest in one of my favorite magazines, "Real Simple," I knew that I had found my project.

Real Simple is doing a call for essays on a topic that I think is actually quite trite. In fact, the topic was a bit of a deterrent initially, until I realized what I could do with it, in a way that's totally different and maybe somewhat unique to the editors there.

I have no idea what the prize is; I only noted the submission date (September) and the length of the essay (no more than 1.500 words).

I'm committed. I'm going to do this. With the help of my sister, I hope.

Which brings me to my next point. My sister and I were talking to another writer this weekend about how many words a writer "should" write each day. The general consensus was 1,000 words. My sister said that when she writes any more than 2,000, she's exhausted. But I bet my dad could write 3,000 words and not bat an eyelash.

Well, I can say with certainty that 1,500 words has done me in today. I'm completely trashed and it's only 3:30pm. Not sure how anyone could sit down day after day with a novel unfolding and keep this pace without copious amounts of caffeine, but maybe it's like anything else. I suppose you build stamina.

Nevertheless, I'm stocking up on the iced coffee and will press on with this essay with plans to post it here by September.

Hopefully by then, I'll be pounding out 2,000 words a day with no problem, but until then there are always pool breaks. I think I hear a chaise lounge calling me now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

11 Years.

Recently, I met an engaging and bright woman at a party. She was my age, exactly.

We talked about how hard it was to turn 40, and we talked about our kids and Kindergarten and the fact that boys generally mature later than girls and eventually she shifted the conversation to work. And to me, specifically.

I told her the short version of my marketing turned mother turned Pilates instructor story. She seemed intrigued.

The details of "What do you do?" turned into "What do you want to do?"

I went on about career limitations in Sacramento. I gave her the same speech I'll give anyone who will listen: "Marketing jobs almost never come up in Sacramento and even if they did, I'm not sure how I'd handle the logistics of my son's out-of-the-way (but amazingly great) school. I'll probably teach Pilates for the next 11 years, and then figure it all out."

"Why 11 years?" she asked.

"Because Ben will graduate high school by then and we'll pack him off to whatever school gives him the best scholarship (I can hope, right?)."

She pressed on (I'm telling you, she was engaging!): "That's a long time - 11 years - but, what would you do then?"

I replied, "Sell shoes at Nordstrom, get my Nursing degree, teach more Pilates...who knows?"

"Well," she continued, "what were you doing 11 years ago?"

"Wow, she's good - no pregnant pauses in this conversation," I thought to myself.

And then I was the one who paused.

years ago? How do I even begin to tell her what was happening at age 29?

How I had just landed a highly visible and very coveted position at Visa and how my team there was charged with rolling out the Visa Check Card and how we had the most cache in all of Visa as the ambassadors for this fine new product that would hit the banking market with a frenzy and how the team manager would work me to the bone and how I'd make my way to the women's restroom at least once a day to cry my eyes out and how I'd never sleep because I'd be thinking of all the things that could go wrong with the damn card and how I'd fly to Chicago every few weeks and meet our agency there and how the Travel Department always booked me into the Monaco but one time reserved The House of Blues and how lucky I felt to have such a prestigious job but how I knew that if I stayed, I'd be popping Prozac by 30 and how I walked in and quit one day without another job lined up and how I didn't want to bail out but how was there another choice?

Or how, with all the physical risks I was taking, I was on the fast track to a major injury and how it felt when, flying down a ridiculous steep hill on my roller blades, in the remote hills, I snapped my pelvis - twice - and had to walk six miles to my car and how I drove myself to the ER and how the doctor was stunned by the severity of the fractures and how my mother, upon hearing the news, asked: "Can you still have children?" and how my dad had to drive to the Bay Area, pick me up, and keep me for two months - on his couch - while my bones healed and how I had all this downtime to seriously scrutinize my values and how I was not happy with myself at all.

How life in the "dot com era" was changing me and how everything was about money and how everyone was about money and how my friends were all "rich on paper" and how the outings were unbelievable and how materialism was affecting me and how I was going through a new car every two years and how I wildly spent everything I made on new suits and new make-up and therapy and how I went to the Canadian Rockies with thirty of my friends and how we all spent crazy amounts of money on food, wine and spa treatments and how I didn't like the person I was becoming and how I knew I needed a major change and how very scared I was of leaving the Bay Area and how I was even more afraid to stay.

And how, at 29 going on 30, I knew that life was going to be different, how it had to be different, how the move to Sacramento was oh-so-lonely but how I felt calmer and how the people I met here were down-to-earth and accepting and how my circle of friends would slowly grow and how the consulting work I was doing would become stifling and how my world would be altered forever with marriage and motherhood in just a couple of short years and how quickly my life in the Bay Area was forgotten and how blessed I was to close one chapter and open several more.

In response to this woman's probing question, I took the easy way out: "Oh, you know, at 29, I was working and having fun. 40 always seemed like a long ways away."

The woman looked at me intently - and with marked curiosity - and then we were interrupted by our children again. And in a way, I was relieved.

It's not that I don't appreciate the experiences that I had in my late 20s and 30s; on the contrary, I believe that the opportunities I had, especially professionally, were nothing short of amazing. I can remember being in many business settings, literally reminding myself that yes, indeed, important people wanted my opinion.

But things have changed so much.

Now, when I think of my career, I think of Ben first. That's why it's so easy for me to imagine myself teaching Pilates for another 3, 5, 11 years.

And when I carefully look at myself today, I see someone who wants to grow, someone who wants a healthy and fulfilling life that is rich in relationships and not necessary in wealth, someone who will make every concession possible to eek out just a few more minutes each day with her son, even if it means that there won't be a corner office, spendy client lunches or a stay at The House of Blues.

Although my convictions are strong on this, it's not always a comfortable topic for me to discuss freely.

So, naturally, after the kids were attended to at the party, I shifted my attention back to the woman and intentionally turned the tables.

"Enough about me," I started. "What do you do?"

"Oh, I'm a therapist," she replied.

Of course. Because no one is that interested in a perfect stranger at a party. And no, I did not save myself hundreds of dollars by monopolizing her time with tales of my divorce, parenting and dating.

But I was tempted.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hurry Up, Life.

Recently, it was pointed out to me that I may have less patience than my 7-year-0ld.

Moi? Really?

In fact, I was told that it was an area - this impatience - that I needed to work on.

"But I don't understand," I protested. " I don't push people out of line at the store. I don't drive
aggressively. And I never read the last page of a book before I get there. In fact, I can barely manage the fast forward-ing function on the DVR. It drives my impatient 7-year-old crazy!"

"So," I ventured, "other than wanting to know exactly how my life is going to turn out right now, I have no issues with impatience."

Denial is a lovely thing.

I do admit that I experience impatience at times:

  • I'm certain that my blood pressure increases when Ben procrastinates at bedtime.
  • I can't stand loose Legos, our sucky vacuum cleaner (no pun intended) and Molly's hair; the three together are like a daily rite of passage that makes me question why Legos have to be so tiny, why I skimped on an appliance that ultimately would rule my world and why we had to choose "exploding fur dog" as a breed for our household pet.
  • I have the typical scavenger hunt/obstacle course of lost socks, half-brushed teeth, forgotten lunch money, spilled yogurt and "leave the fur alone on that damn dog right now and get into the car before we are both late for everything," also known as "mornings with small children."

Daily impatience is definitely a part of my world.

After careful consideration, I suppose what I am feeling is global impatience. It's not so much that I tire of the coffee maker's slow pace each morning, it's more about the demands that I place on life to deliver on its promises: a warm and healthy family life, consistently good health and a home that will be ours next week and next year.

Being the spiritual - and religious - gal that I am, I do believe in trusting God for signs and direction. And I also know that patiently waiting for a plan to unfold is much, much smarter than pushing for a hasty - and often messy - outcome.

So it was affirming - and somewhat serendipitous - to open up my workbook of daily "lessons" this morning, and have this passage present itself for today's contemplation:

Or need to control can manifest itself as a need to know what's going on. We cannot always know. The lesson, the purpose, shall reveal itself in time - in its own time. It will all make perfect sense - later.

Today, I will stop straining to know what I don't know, to see what I can't see, to understand what I don't yet understand. Today, I will not be in such a hurry to move on.

Point taken. Adding to this, I will let my son be the impatient one. And maybe by doing this - just maybe - he will actually teach me about patience.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Everything And Nothing.

For my 200th post, I vacillated about what scintillating topic to write about and I came up with...


So, to commemorate countless hours of brain downloading on this blog, I'm going to write about what's been going on in our lives for the last six months. Don't hold your breath; it's not all that exciting and really, unless you're a blood relative you may just want to stop right here because - spoiler alert - this might be very boring.

Ben is seven and eight months now. But who's counting? Apparently, he is because the chatter in our house is all about the 8th birthday and whether or not an iPad will make an appearance in his birthday gifts.

His father and I decided that there would be no birthday party this year as we are really, really tired of the birthday excess (mind you, this was a conversation about Ben's birthday, NOT mine).

So since the birthday party is nixed, Ben wants to know if we can apply the birthday party funds to an iPad. His dad's answer was a resounding "N-O" but I'm a little more soft on the subject given the fact that my *second* Acer laptop is about to die.

I thought I had solved the problem free and clear for us, when I suggested that we both forgo Christmas gifts and instead ask for an iPad from the family. This went over like a lead balloon. Ben simply could not fathom the idea of giving up Lego sets from his Grandpa. Suffice to say, we will probably finish out the year with the cranky Acer and maybe Ben will settle on an iTouch.

Now, the reason that the iPad has become so coveted is because the iPhone - my iPhone - is the hottest commodity in our house. Admittedly, I was beyond excited to get the iPhone earlier this year. Elated even.

But then Ben got his little paws on it, and I'm lucky to squeeze a phone call in. Actually, it's not that bad as I limit his usage each day to whatever time I need to get things done without being accompanied from room to room hearing complaints of how boring it is to stay at home and when when when might Angry Birds come out because there are new seasons, new levels, new worlds, all these grand new experiences that enrich Ben's life so very much.

God help me.

All this inactivity certainly isn't stunting Ben's growth or hindering his appetite. He's almost up to my shoulders and he eats twice, sometimes three times as much as me. His new game, anytime I'm sitting on the couch, but especially at bedtime, is to pin me down and keep me there.

And since he's got me beat on physical strength, my only leverage are those damn birds. At 9pm each night - sometimes later - here's the line that gets me an hour or so of uninterrupted adult time: "Benjamin, get off me right now or there will be no Angry Birds tomorrow!" Don't believe me? Ask the neighbors. Ask anyone in Carmichael. They'll tell you.

During the day, Ben is currently going to two camps: golf camp in the morning and day camp (at my club) in the afternoon. You'd think he'd be too tired to hold me down each night in what always results in a major physical tangle (so not my thing!).

Recently, an acquaintance with a 7-year-old daughter used her Facebook status to report the following: "Seven is heaven." Seriously? Because I was thinking that one was heaven. Really. There wasn't all this attitude and brute force. Granted, there were a lot of diapers and sleepless nights but the pay-off of having a sweet baby who would curl up for hours in my arms was well worth all the inconveniences of babyhood. Those days are so gone.

Now my sweet baby boy is tripping me when I walk by him. He plays "chair gymnastics" each night at the dinner table, and I'm certain that he'll split his head open any day now. He won't take a bath unless I bribe him. He gets into my dark chocolate stash. He shoots at me with his Stampede. He plays "fly the ottoman" across the wood floor and smashes into the glass slider repetitively. But he still asks me to cuddle nearly every night, so I guess there's some semblance of heaven here. Oh, and he'll still hold my hand in the parking lot, too. That's heavenly, for sure.

On the subject of heaven, I believe that Ben and I have broken up with my church. It pains me to write this, but, we - or I- am just not fitting in and I think that church is a place where you have to feel welcomed, or at the very least, comfortable. It's not happening. I don't know why. I really hate that I feel this way.

Also on the subject of uncomfortable things, my childhood BFF is moving to Boston. I'm totally crushed, but also elated for her. It's not like I didn't see this coming. She and her husband have maintained a very jet-setty lifestyle of flying back and forth for months and I believe that the breaking point was finally reached. I can't say I blame her: who wouldn't want to trade the Central Valley for downtown Boston?

Nevertheless, I'm still reeling from her news. This is, after all, the girl who picked up the phone at 10pm over eight years ago, when I called with a positive pregnancy test and 1o months later, in the delivery room, exclaimed, "He smiled! I swear, he just smiled at me!" I don't think I can continue on this topic without crying so I'll move on.

Dating. Now there's a happy topic. Not. The general consensus among my friends is is that "it's time for Janeen to start dating again."

Le sigh. Repeat. Repeat.

It's not that I don't want to date, I simply do not know where to begin and I don't think that the answer lies in my computer (ie - Match, eharmony, etc). Soooo, the friends all have other friends who could be potential set-ups. UGH.

God help me. Again. Please.

There's a single dad in my neighborhood. I've known him for nearly five years, maybe more. He's taking the old 'cat and mouse' game to a new level. "Drive by my house," he texts, "and I'll go out and get the mail and we can talk."

Really, God? REALLY? Is this punishment? I'm sorry I broke up with the church. I'll go back.

I think I like my world of Netflix and Molly time better. It's served me well for months. I sleep better in this world and I don't have to worry about blind dates with gills and the single dad who is scared to be seen with me.

I can't believe that dating, at 40, has come to this. Or maybe I can. Because nothing, in the area of my love life, shocks me anymore.

But a routine visit to the doctor does. It's never good when the doctor barrels in to the exam room saying: "Your cholesterol jumped 101 points this year. Your total number is now 301! You're going to die!" Well, he didn't say the last part, but of course that's where my brain went.

Just in case you didn't read that correctly, let me clarify: THREE - OH - ONE!


The doctor went on to explain the breakdown; that the "good" number wasn't good at all, and that the "bad" number was indeed very bad and did I know about oatmeal and vegetables and fiber and nuts and Cholest-Off and heart disease and stroke and clogged arteries? I asked him to please refer to the occupation listed in my chart (that would be "Wellness Consultant") and to kindly get off my back because my favorite relative lived to 93 and had cholesterol in the 300s and no, I do not eat red meat. Or eggs. Or butter.

Needless to say, there is a Lipitor prescription waiting for me in three months if I don't get my numbers down. So now instead of four vegetables a day, I'm eating eight and instead of a small bowl of oatmeal each day, I'm filling a horse trough. And suddenly dating doesn't seem so concerning.

On a final note, after months - and I mean months - of applying, re-applying, begging, and crying, my mortgage file is finally on the desk of an underwriter. What does this mean? It means that I run to my nearest B of A branch at least twice a day with paystubs, W2s, letters from my ex (really!), and bank statements from last week, last year, last decade.

Last night, the underwriter sent a message marked "Urgent" in the middle of dinner. "Urgent" in B of A terms means that someone lost the fax and could I please send it for the 9th time? Now. You can bet that I did not leave my prime seat outdoors at Zocalo's with three of the loveliest ladies I know and excellent conversation about love, sex, Paris and Viagra to attend to B of A's idiot-ness. No way.

Suffice to say, I've had a bit of anxiety as we come into this final step of the modification process. I figure that at best, I could know the outcome in a week or so, but definitely by the middle of August. I guess the situation was easier to stomach before, because I was just another file hanging in limbo, but now there is a very real possibility that we could be packing next month. Everyone keeps asking me if I have a gut feeling of how this will go. I really don't. And maybe that's what makes it so hard.

What also makes it hard is that I've been unable to shield Ben from the process. Each day he asks me what will happen to Molly if we have to move. I think he has overheard too many adult conversations on this topic and given that his love for Molly is so over-the-top right now, her whereabouts is a top priority for him. I don't have an answer for this - obviously - and can only re-assure him that everything will be fine.

So, while we hang out in this weird space of total uncertainty, I'm trying to keep us both busy. Ben has another week of golf and more day camp, and we'll head to my sister's, and also to the beach in the next few weeks. I've found that pool time is great to calm the persistent thoughts and so is time with my wonderful friends. Molly has become a sweet companion when Ben is away, and when the house is quiet, she must sense my need for company because she never leaves my side.

I will be grateful when things are more solid for us. Being on unsteady ground isn't easy, particularly for someone like me who thrives on planning and known outcomes. But, I still hold on to the notion that The Plan is in the works, and that it will unfold in due time on all fronts: with work, our home, health and love.

Often, in the classes I teach I'll play something that comes directly from my heart. Tonight's choice was "Let It Be."

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be. Let it be.
There will be an answer
Let it be.

I'm letting it be. What other choice do I have?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Alice and Me and the Journey Down The Rabbit Hole

I've been working on this post for months. Months!! It's been re-written a dozen times. Two dozen times. Too many times. The content has been expanded and altered. I've vacillated between saying too much and saying too little. I've been in that space between "Publish" (Go!) and "Save" (No 'effing way!) nearly every day for the last five months. I'm making myself crazy.

I don't think this post is perfect now, but that's okay. The story is here and it needs to be told and I finally have the courage to do it.

Here goes.

Back in December, I turned 40 with very little fanfare.

I was surrounded by my family. My dad took me for a drink at the same place we celebrated my 21st birthday (The Desert Marriott). We rode the Palm Springs tram. I didn't have a cake. But I did have a deluge of birthday texts and calls. My sister and I laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt. I redeemed my free Starbucks drink for a Venti Cappuccino (low fat, half caff, light foam, extra hot). It felt like it was just the right amount of celebrating. I felt lucky. Grateful. Loved.

And tormented. Conflicted. Scared.

While writing this post, I was reminded of a childhood favorite, "Alice In Wonderland." I've always been fascinated about the rabbit hole experience. It seems to me that the rabbit hole was so symbolic and yet so overlooked. Innocent, pristine and lovely Alice, tumbling into a dark abyss of fright and terror. Such a juxtaposition. And yet a perfect comparison for my own sordid story.

I told everyone that I was gracefully stepping into a new decade. But in reality, I was actually losing my foothold and had been for quite some time. Nothing was eloquent about my transition from 30-something to 40. Nothing at all. In fact, the whole segue way was downright ugly.

But you wouldn't know it. Not by how I looked or what I said. I became extremely practiced in the facade of "everything's fine."

I weathered a tough divorce and my ex still wants me back. But everything's fine.

I can't afford my home anymore and, in fact, I'm months behind on the mortgage. But everything's fine.

I can't sleep at night. I lay awake for hours on end. But everything's fine.

I don't know how to be a "good" single parent; I fear I'm failing my sweet son at every turn. But everything's fine.

My heart was broken in Florida last year and I don't know how to fix it. But everything's fine.

I don't think that God loves me anymore. Why else would my prayers go completely unanswered? But everything's fine.

Nothing was fine. Nothing at all.

On the day of my 40th birthday, I was staring down my own rabbit hole and by January, I was falling into it. Rather quickly.

In another moment down went Alice, never once considering how in the world she was to get out.

The mid-life crisis that everyone warned me about - "You know, Janeen, it's coming. No one makes it to 45 without one"- that midlife crisis, indeed had found me.

And I fell further. And faster.

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

Despite the rapid descent into an inky black space, I knew exactly when it all came apart and I knew precisely what I had to do. I honestly don't think that there is a better gift from God then the knowing - without a doubt - what your work is and when the time is right to do it. My work was very clear, and the timing was as simple and as urgent as "now."

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for Alice had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything.

When you are falling down something as dark and dirty and dismal as a rabbit hole, there is a horrible sense that you are moving away - very quickly - from everything you knew to be true, everything you knew about peace, resiliency and hope. And even though the fall can seem so very long, there is time, so much time - like Alice explains - to peer around and to not know; and it was in that unknown space where my own fear began to emerge.

I don't want to get into the details. Not yet anyway. We all have financial issues, disappointments in relationships, challenges with our children. Life sometimes feels like a lesson in crisis management, and I believe that it is, to some extent.

Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? `I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?' Alice said aloud. `I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think--.'

The rabbit hole is like a vortex; you quickly lose sight of the light and the journey to the bottom seems so very endless. There isn't room for anyone else in the confines of the rabbit hole. The tunnel is narrow and harrowing and a place that no one else would voluntarily want to be.

Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, when suddenly, thump! thump! down Alice came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.

I too, landed on the bottom - after the longest tumble of my life - and it was only then that I could appreciate the eager, willing and loving hands that would be there to scoop me up. Like Alice, I knew that the most painful part of it all - the fall - was over. I felt the "thud" of my own rock bottom place and when I looked up, there was a circle of people who handed me tissues, who picked up my son from school and who told me that everything would be okay, that it really, really would be.

Now, in the midst of my own personal ascent, I'm realizing the payoffs of simplifying and the rewards of quiet, reflective space.

I've stopped putting pressure on myself to practice my writing, to be at the gym every day and to eat eighteen varieties of fruit and vegetables at every meal. I haven't rolled out my yoga mat in weeks. I'm saying no to most social invitations. I'm avoiding Target. I'm making some new friends who are in similar life situations to mine. I'm letting go of the burning need to accomplish everything and to settle for nothing less than perfect execution.

I'm feeling - at last - a calmer mind, a more settled sense of being.
And I'm sleeping. A lot!

But I have a long, long way to go. The rabbit hole has become my own metaphor for strength and resiliency in the darkest of days. This was no mere gopher hole.

It's such a long way, that when I'm closer to my destination, I'm convinced I'll have a story to tell. And although I don't know quite how that story will unfold yet, I do know that I'll want to share the experience.

In the meantime, I know that what I'm doing is going to make me a better mom, sister, daughter and friend. I have all the faith in the world that subtle shifts turn into big changes and that every day and every moment of progress equals big steps toward becoming the person I want to be. I believe that God has a hand in all miracles and that I'm witnessing my own. And it will be amazing.

Indeed, year 40 will go down as one that is permanently etched in my memory. It will be the year of sisterhood between Alisa and me. That part is way overdue, yet so very welcomed. It will be the year that Ben saw me the least. That's the part I grapple with most. But there is so much goodness, so much truth to be had on the other side. And my Mom is an awesome stand-in for me.

Now I can look up to the small space where light sparingly peers its way into the rabbit hole and there is solace in the sweet glimmer of of its rays. I'm coming into the warmth. It's closer - every day the narrow space becomes a little wider and I'm starting to believe that the way out is right before my eyes. I just keep looking for the light.

And then Alice opened a secret door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: and she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.

PS - If you got this far in the post, congratulations! And thanks for hanging in. The next post - my 200th - will be lighter in nature, I promise.