During the first week of October, the Women’s Law Section of the State Bar of Montana held its every other year continuing education seminar at Chico Hot Springs Spa in Pray, Montana. Eighty women registered for the one-day event; a percent of them spent at least one night, a smaller percent of those also took a soak in the hot springs pool, and an even smaller percent spent more than one night. As far as I have been able to determine, only one took advantage of the massage services at the resort. Continue reading
ELIMINATE ANYTHING TOXIC IN YOUR LIFE. I started with the easy stuff ~ the toxins under the sink, the bad food, and the harmful chemicals in some of the soaps I may have been using. The tougher toxins involved relationships, choices, and incompletions I had tried to sweep under the figurative rug. By completing and resolving those toxic things with love and compassion, first for myself and then for those I have loved and cared for, I was able to ‘cleanse’ my space. I learned to eliminate anything toxic in my life.ILLNESS BEGINS WITH I. WELLNESS BEGINS WITH WE. Only when I allowed myself to receive the contributions of others was I able to return to life. The social commons held exponential opportunities that I could never amass myself. In the words of Groucho Marx, great American philosopher. “Learn from the mistakes of others. You won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” I was learning, through struggle and effort, that I could gain strength, healing, and power by sharing and receiving. This is a game changer for me. Illness begins with I. Wellness begins with we.WHEN YOU CAN’T AND THEN YOU CAN, YOU NEVER WANT TO NOT AGAIN. Many times during those first months, I was asked why I kept going back to the gym. It did not appear that I was getting stronger, slimmer, or healthier. Some days, it probably looked like I was struggling. The truth is I did not know whether it would ultimately extend my life or improve my health. What I did know is that I was not too far removed from having to use a cane to walk, nor from being unable to walk more than three minutes without sitting down and resting for ten minutes. Up to that point, I had taken for granted walking, dancing, and functioning in any way physically. Once I was able to start moving again, I knew I could not take it for granted. I learned that every day is a gift, and to use the gift to its greatest and highest benefit, I needed to do whatever I could. I learned that when you can’t and then you can, you never want to not again.
Source: A Clean Bill of Health
In late March, I was participating in a developmental course, “An Inquiry into Life, Living, and Self.” As part of our conversation, we were challenged to distinguish an area of life where we were committed to growth and development. I instantly reported that I wanted a breakthrough in the area of monetizing what I do ~ and I sounded as excited saying it as you were likely feeling while reading that. It was obviously not something that was inspiring to me. I was not lit up thinking about it. Obviously.
Over the course of the weekend and through a number of great interactions with my fellow participants, I discovered that I am really curious about “Wonder” and what we wonder about … which led me to investigating what money, and specifically, what billing clients meant to me. I noticed that I am regularly not charging, undercharging, giving major discounts, and just routinely avoiding collecting money … from clients or otherwise.
My resistance to collecting fees from clients has led to several (or more) issues for me, from juggling payments to avoiding certain situations where I think I might not be able to afford whatever it is I am being asked to do. This is a familiar pattern, one I developed growing up in a family of 10 folks with a teacher for a dad and a nurse for a mom. (In my home state, both those professions are at least 15% lower than the national average in their categories.) I would not trade my family nor my upbringing for the world. I would, however, prefer a distinct view of my own value, especially financially.
So today, I sat down and prepared invoices. I did not cut corners. I did not discount. I charged what I provided. I sent those invoices … and the earth is still spinning. Really.
And as I worked through the process over the last couple weeks, I have received a couple checks, unexpected, from odd sources. I got a referral check from a car dealership for bringing someone to buy a car. I got a check from the used bookstore for my excess books. I got cash from a thrift store for some items I provided on consignment. I even got cash and checks from clients.
Clearly, I have disrupted a pattern on being unable to ask for money. And the great part? Today, after those invoices were sent this morning, I had a great day. My experience of myself is of being valued and valuable, of being wanted and needed, of being worthy. I felt most of that before … just did not have the dollars to match my own sense of worth. Now, I can pay all the bills without juggling.
I am deeply grateful to those who have and continue to contribute to my growth and development. If becoming a stronger person allows me to make a difference, it is worth whatever pain and embarrassment it takes to get there.
This curse (incorrectly assigned to the Chinese) seems to capture much of how life has occurred for me lately. From clients and the issues they are confronting to illness and injury that seem to be attacking many I love and care for without warning or reason, I have found myself in varying stages of stuck, angry, and grasping.
Today, in what can only be described as an act of defiance, I just kept taking actions. I made a few of the many calls I owe. I waited out the customer service line to recapture the $200 improperly charged to my account. I checked voicemail promptly and returned calls. And people who had messages from me all called me back.
The moral of the story? Taking action makes all the difference. The lesson for me is to ensure that I keep taking action, especially on those days when I find myself in those familiar varying stages.
Isn’t this life thing crazy? We move from joy and elation to sadness and grief, from peace and quiet to noise and chaos, from courage and confidence to fear and trepidation. Experiencing each and every moment can be tiring and leave us fatigued, confused, and weary of the roller coaster of emotions.
And yet, the moments that are most memorable, the ones that leave us feeling most alive, are those very same moments. Without the depth and breadth of experiences, we would likely find ourselves bored with our lives.
So tonight, I close my eyes, knowing that loss and celebration, death and birth, angst and glee are all part of what we signed up for.
Otherwise, what are we here for?
Take a moment today. Take a risk. May you be open to all that life has to offer.
Three older sisters welcomed him into the world August 12, 1934. They had great dreams for him, as all doting sisters do for their baby brothers. His life would come dangerously close to ending when, on October 18, 1935, during a 6.2 magnitude earthquake in Helena, Montana, a chunk of the wall fell into the crib where he had been lying just moments before. (Years later, his then-wife would miss the 7.4 magnitude Hebgen Lake Earthquake on August 17, 1959, as she had been camping there the previous night.)
He grew up in rough and tumble Butte, graduated from Boys’ Central in 1952, and made his way to Carroll College where he studied to be a teacher. One of his best pals was Maurice Mulcahy, a police officer in his adult life, and the pair could find trouble at every turn. When they were just wee lads, during World War II, between 19940 and 1942, Wings cigarettes were being sold in the US. Each pack contained a trading card with the photo and information for US fighter planes of the day. The boys, being fairly industrious, were ambling down Park Street when they came upon a distributor truck making deliveries to the grocers on the street. They found the truck open and inside, they discovered a case of Wing cigarettes. They were crazy about collecting the cards and while they were not interested in the cigarettes, they could not pass up the temptation.They took the case and stashed it in their cave, a hole in the ground above their homes in Dublin Gulch at North Wyoming Street. A smidgen of guilt riddled them, though, so they went to St Mary Church to confess their sins. During their confession, the good Father told them, “It is a sin to steal, but it is also a sin to waste.” After performing their penance, the lads discussed their dilemma and arrived at the only logical conclusion for eight year old boys at the time. They went to the cave, opened the case, and started smoking the cigs! (According to my calculations, at twenty-four cigs per pack, ten packs per carton, and ten cartons per case, that’s 2,400 cigarettes.) While Moe admitted that it took some time, they managed to smoke every cigarette. Neither was a smoker before that incident. Both became smokers thereafter. And no. It did not occur to either of them that the priest would have happily collected the cigarettes FROM them and smoked them himself!
At Carroll College, he drank Hires Orange pop with rum. He was a fun-loving guy who, upon meeting his soon-to-be wife, met his match. She was quiet, studying to be a nurse, and not the least bit impressed with the Butte boy and his ways. No one can really say what brought them together. And thankfully, they got together. They were married in Butte on December 27, 1958 after a most romantic (insert sarcasm here) proposal. The proposal? In a letter to her in October that year, he offered that he would be home for a few days over Christmas from the Army and there was probably time to get married if she wanted to do that. And so… They did.
As a teacher, he served in Wisdom, Ramsay, and Butte. His career was really based at Butte High where he was the typing, general business, and driver’s ed teacher. While not a coach, he was the coaches’ coach. They turned to him to keep stats, score books, the clock, or anything else that was needed. No one was too enamored of the pole vault in those days, so he judged the pole vault. The teams always needed extra chaperones to travel, especially to Kalispell and Libby, so he chaperoned. When he kept the score book, he always edited the information, keeping it colorful, literally. He used purple and green felt tip pens only ~ and usually added some witticism to the details of the game, whether the location, the date, or some other mundane piece of information. He was always behind the scenes, taking care of whatever was necessary to ensure that things ran smoothly. On Friday during Lent, he boarded the bus and asked all the team to bow their heads for a blessing. He then delivered special dispensation to the Catholics on the team from not eating meat on Fridays during Lent, a blessing endorsed by then pastor Father Kevin O’Neill.
He had a rather eclectic sense of humor. He allowed Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He loved Hee Haw. He never allowed Three’s Company or One Day at a Time. He reveled in the non-sequitur and each member of the family had a line that would set off the stream of all the other lines. His favorite joke at the dinner table, especially when there was new company, was: How many tacos does it take to shingle the roof of a doghouse? It depends on whether you walk to work or take your lunch.
He and his loving wife would raise nine children, five girls and four boys. They celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in 1994, not knowing it would be their last. Just two days after the dinner celebration at the Uptown Café, he had a stroke. And two days later, after all those children were able to say goodbye and release him, he died on December 31, 1994 at the tender age of 60. The youngest child was 13. The first three grandchildren were under the age of four. And his wife was left in shock. Her partner, confidante, and best friend was gone.
Most days, I talk with him. Some days, I go to the cemetery where he was placed in the frozen ground in his deep green shining casket. He was a simple, dedicated, industrious man with a memory for details, a sense of humor that few understood at first, and a reluctant Christmas figure, helping Santa out with visits to many homes and parties in town during the last third of his life.
And today, twenty years later, I can see his mark on each of us. We have his sense of humor. We aspire to his commitment to family and community. And we love, maybe not as he loved (without saying much), but with the same depth of care and concern.
It is a blessing to be his daughter. It is a curse to be without him. Love you madly, dad. How many tacos does it take ….
When I was six years old, I was spilled into the deep end of the Y pool intentionally during swim lessons. They wanted me to catch up to the other kids and tread water. It did not work. I had to be pulled from the water by my younger brother. As a teenager, I was taking a tippee test at Camp Tahepia on Georgetown Lake and was pulled from the water by our lifeguard. I was going down again.
Since then, I have not been in the water any higher than my chest and never when I could not touch the bottom of the pool or lake. I have always been afraid of the water.
Until today …
On Monday morning, I got into this water at the Grand Velas Resort in Puerto Vallarta and spent an hour learning to swim. I discovered that I was struggling, even when the water was able to hold me. I found that I stopped breathing which made me sink faster … which did not help me to swim. I learned how to stand without scrambling for the bottom of the pool. I floated on my back, breathing, eyes open, enjoying the sun’s rays and the last glimpses of the moon. And I swam. For the first time in my life, I swam. On Wednesday, I returned for a further lesson. I am thrilled to report that I swam! On my back! On my front! Alone! And I have played in the water a number of times since… and lived to tell of it.
What I discovered is that my six year old self’s brain patterns were very successful in helping me avoid shock and loss … when I was six. And I found that I could alter those brain patterns. By shifting my breathing and my actions, my brain followed suit.
I am so thankful formy friend Christine Arbor for her patience and compassion as I worked through all of it. It is so shocking to me that after all this time, I could overcome my fear. Thanks, my friend, for opening up 70% of the planet to me.
What fear shall I conquer next?