Monthly Archives: April 2014

Universal Love ~ Sometimes We Can All Agree

I read a string under a post my son made yesterday. It was about a controversial team owner and some seriously disturbing comments he made. Let’s not get into it. But “get into it” they did on Facebook. I think open conversation and civilized disagreement are healthy for everyone. I love social media for many reasons and one of them is we can sit in our own living rooms and be exposed to other people’s opinions. As much or as little as we please.

While I found the conversation to be interesting and appropriate, sometimes it’s nice to come to a consensus. It feels good to be human and agree to agree. In my heart I know you might take issue with these things, but if you would just try and give them a chance… wouldn’t it feel nice to just get along?

Let’s all get:

  • Pedicures. I was in my 30’s before I had my first and they are now a regular part of my self-care regimen. Studies show that foot health is very important, especially as we age. I submit to you that health insurance should cover these expenses. Can I get an amen?
  • Grilling one’s dinner on a warm spring afternoon. I don’t care if you’re a carnivore or vegan, there are magical things that can be done in the sun on a grill. And kitchen clean up is kept to a minimum. Gracias.
  • Babies giggling. I’ve never heard angels sing, but if they did, it would sound like my pierson on the thronegrandson’s laugh. I’m convinced of this.
  • Doing something that scares the h@ll out of you and being successful at it. It could be big, it could be small, but when we make an effort to do something we’re not at all sure we will succeed in, and emerge victorious… Yum…
  • Random acts of kindness. In the very worst space of my life I had an opportunity to offer a stranger help. I don’t believe it was an accident she was placed before me, I believe it was the only medicine that could have made me feel better. And it did.
  • Laughing until you cry. Talk about medicine. I’ve always had a hard time with tears, they just don’t come easily for me. But in their place it has been quite common for me to laugh until my sides hurt, tears rolling down my face. Sweet, sweet relief.
  • Food is a complex topic for this girl, but I believe the purest food, the most delicious of meals is… wait for it… a smashed peanut butter and jam sandwich on whole wheat bread after a hard and long hike. The perfect side is the view from the top of a mountain. Sure I might not be much of a cryer, but over a PB&J sandwich at the top of a climb, I weep.

 

Ten Things I Would Do If I Knew I Was Beautiful

Once upon a time, for some of us, many years ago, we each believed in our own personal awesomeness. We awoke every morning finely tuned to the fact that we deserved all things good and wonderful and, moreover, that something fantastic could happen at any given moment. We were prepared. We insisted on wearing our favorite shirt.

Every day. Because when you don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen, you’re always prepared.

And then we turned 7. I don’t know why it is that 7 is the un-magic number. I’m sure there are scientific studies that would explain it, but frankly, that’s not the business we’re in. We know it happened. That’s enough for our purposes.

What matters today is that we get it back. It matters that we are reminded we are brilliant. It matters that we remember to wear our favorite shirt (though, because we’re a bit more sophisticated, we may want to rotate through a few options) because something amazing could happen on any day at any time.

There are ways of being and ways of thinking that take us to that place. If I knew all the way to my toes, or more importantly, if I wanted to remember my awesomeness, these are things I would do:

  1. “Suit up”! Seriously. I’d dress for my own version of success EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m not saying what that is for you, but life is too short to not feel stunning every day.
  2. I was once accused of being a bit pretentious because when I hold a glass I hold out my pinky finger in what appears to be High Class British Breeding. The truth of the matter is that neither of my pinky fingers straightens naturally. But how AWESOME is that? We should all put on airs and be high-faluten and stuff. And others should join in. High pinkies one and all!
  1. If I knew I was beautiful I would smile unabashedly wherever I went. I mean full on, Julia Roberts wattage. Every day. Everywhere I went. It would be my gift.
  2. I would speak up and speak out whenever I felt so inspired. I would not hide my voice and my thoughts because I would not be self-conscious.
  3. With beauty on my side, I could certainly be more generous to everyone else. Whatever we see in ourselves we project onto others. Think how much prettier the world would be, just from one person feeling beautiful.
  4. If I were certain of my brilliance, I would take more and bigger chances every day. I wouldn’t be so worried about mistakes, I would simply do what I believed I should do. And to that end…
  5. I would trust myself. I would ask more questions and rely on the little voice inside my head to sort it all out. Instead of using the many voices from all the different places to befuddle and confound me and eventually send me home having accomplished nothing.
  6. Were I convinced of my awesomeness, I would use my time more carefully, more thoughtfully. With that much bitchin’ energy and insight, comes much responsibility. You don’t throw that stuff away, ya know?
  7. If powerful brilliance were on my side, I would make the time to mentor others. I would slow down and share my wisdom and perhaps beauty secrets with the rest of the world. You can’t let something that amazing die with you. It wouldn’t be right.
  8. If I was sure, I mean 5-year-old-Michelle-sure, that I was all that and a bag of Black & Bleu Cheese Kettle Chips, I would relax. I wouldn’t be so worried all the time about everything. Because I would know that with my brilliant smile and my lucky shirt on, something amazing would happen at any minute.

The Way Dreams Work ~ Take It Or Leave It

Sometimes I think life is, well, I think it’s kinda weird. I think all those things I thought about how dreams come true were just silly and I learned them from Hollywood movies and faerie tales.

Saturday evening was ushered in with a typical spring deluge. I drove out of my driveway and my car was baptized as my windshield wipers banged back and forth in the fading light. I am currently training for a half marathon and on Saturday morning I ran 8 miles (slog style).

Between the weather and my already admittedly tired feet, the idea of running a 5k was unappealing. I mean, I’m not trying to be a stick in the mud, but even with the “cosmic glow”, despite the electronic music, none of it was enticing to this 46-year-old runner, especially since it started at 8:30. I didn’t get a nap that day. I think you know what I’m saying here.

Adam and Ashley Cosmic runNonetheless, I put on my running shoes and I made sure I had sufficient layers and I drove myself to the Portland International Raceway to run the Cosmic Run with my son and daughter-in-law.

Life is weird and dreams don’t usually come true the way they do in movies and faerie tales. Would that they did. Regardless of the fact that dreams don’t come true the way we think they should, they do come true and I’m smart enough to know how that works.

The way that works is on cold and rainy nights when your feet are tired and you’re not all that interested in leaving the house, no less going for an outdoor run with people mostly a couple decades younger than yourself.

Two of those people were my son and daughter-in-law. For years I’ve dreamed of doing running events with my family.  Dreams aren’t always thoughtful enough to arrive on temperate days when your feet are well rested.

The end of the story is that I had a total blast. The rain settled down and my running buddies were lively and funny and welcoming. The music was intoxicating as I found myself in what I could only assume was an entirely sober rave. You’re never too old I guess.

Life might be weird, but we have to accept it on its own terms and when we’re willing to meet it half way, when we’re willing to get a little wet and be ever so slightly inconvenienced, well, dreams will come true all the time.

I know mine do.

Cosmic Run

A Perfect You ~ Michelle Church

I was raised in a religious household, and choose to remain so today. I like that it’s a conscious choice now. It feels right for me and I also respect whatever it is you find right for you. Organized religion is a sticky wicket as it is “the will of God” so to speak, and it is administered through very flawed humans. What are you gonna do?

One of the messages I feel I didn’t receive – And here we will make a side note and mention that I’m not saying it wasn’t sent, only that I didn’t receive it. I mean to throw no one under the bus – but one of the messages I didn’t receive was that we are good enough, lovely enough, perfect enough and acceptable to God “as is”, today, no changes necessary. You be you.

I’m a total believer in self improvement, high standards and personal course correction. Yeah. I’m down with all of that. But it seems to me that one of the high points of having a relationship with God is to find comfort, safety and acceptance in it. Otherwise I could just hang out with mean girls instead of pray, right?

If you really take a look at it, if you give it a bit of thought, your choices and mistakes and varying paths and ups and downs and ins and outs and pains and colossal failures and glorious triumphs, they are all a part of this experience. And truthfully, I don’t think we’re supposed to have shame in any of them. Ever.

We’re just having an experience and we neither strengthen nor diminish God in doing so. He’s bigger than that. At least mine is. I can’t speak for yours.

But just in case you’re wondering, and if you’ve made it this far into the post, I suppose you probably are, you’re good enough today. You’re perfectly imperfect. You’re on a path. You’re having experiences and you’re doing it just exactly right. Relax. Take a deep breath and feel that. Feels good, eh?

This sabbath day, I hope you feel rest. I hope you find peace in your spiritual practice and, perhaps more than anything else, I hope whatever you believe, you’ve chosen to believe it. All by yourself. All on your own. And I hope it fits you like a custom fit robe and a matching tiara.

Amen.

It’s A Great Day To Be Alive

One of my favorite things about being me is that I do stuff all the time that scares me. Sometimes, okay, only when I know it’s a family member calling, I answer the phone, “It’s a great day to be Michelle.” It’s sort of homage to the way they answer the phone at Mr Dreamboat’s office. It’s sort of an affirmation I give to myself. Every day should be a good day to be ourselves, so why not say it out loud?

Today it’s good to be me because I’ve done something entirely scary. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and I wrote a book. Seriously. You doubt me? It started out as a marketing idea and it quickly became something I feel quite passionate about. It’s about beauty. It’s about life. And life is about being scared and doing things that are uncomfortable and it’s about success and it’s about failure and it’s ultimately about having a life experience. Aren’t we having fun now!

One of the fun parts about writing the book was going on a quote hunt. If you’re sad or feeling down, you should go a’hunting for quotes. Especially those about beauty. There were so many that I couldn’t begin to include them all and some of them were so beautiful but didn’t really work with what I was writing. One of my favorites has me thinking,

“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
― Frederick Buechner

While it didn’t really fit in my book, it fits with my life. And I suspect it fits right into yours.

Life is tenuous. It is lovely to look into a child’s eyes, it is emancipating to grow up and learn about life and live out big dreams. And terrible things happen to each of us. And we learn from those things. And we cry and we suffer. Oh my, how we suffer. And there is beauty in the suffering because it is part of being human. And it is even more beautiful when we stand up, all empty from the pain and the suffering, and in standing up, we ask life to fill us up again. And it does. Every time.

“Here is the world…” indeed. It was given to us to enjoy and to learn. It’s a great day to be in it. It’s a great day to be ourselves.

Call me, won’t you? I’ll be brave and answer my phone just how I feel. It’s a great day to be Michelle. You should answer it that way too. You know, only with your name in it. Duh.

 

The Closet Introvert & The Case For Meditation

I’ve branded myself a closet introvert. Sure, some people take exception to labels, but labels make me feel comfortable. I like them. They help me make sense of the world. And so I make sense of myself with the label, “Closet Introvert”.

You might like to use the label yourself. Perhaps you prefer extrovert or omnivert (a recent update on personality types). It doesn’t really matter. We all have our preferences. Painful as it is, we’re probably not the unique, little snowflakes we imagine ourselves to be. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

Whether we claim to be introverts or admire the extrovert, each of us needs a little time alone. It’s good for the soul no matter which way you lean. As I write this I find myself in a silent household. The lack of other occupants has not inspired me to turn on the TV for background noise, I feel no need to listen to the radio. The sound of rain and a deep breathing dog is plenty of company for me just now.

I am an avid fan of meditation. There is a deep calm to be found when we still our bodies and still our minds.

And while many people aren’t quite sure how to do it, in Michelle Land it is quite simple.

  • Sit quietly
  • Try not to think about stuff
  • Fail at it
  • Try again
  • And again
  • And again
  • Until you’ve tried it for a while (like 8 minutes or even 20)

There is a time and a place for company. To be in the company of those we love is rejuvenating and brings us joy. But the time we spend with ourselves is just as important. Our mind can be a place of sanctuary, but when we let the horses of our thoughts run wild, it becomes a place from which we wish to escape. That’s just sad if you think about it.

Meditation calms the horses of our minds. There is no vacation from our problems, but when we meditate, even for just a few minutes a day, we find relief and a safe haven from all that bothers us.

I am sitting in a quiet house with solitude my hearty companion. I have no need for entertainment and even the computer feels a bit too much. I have showered myself in sights and sounds and stimulation, even a die hard extrovert would need a break. I can feel it now like the need for a shower after a long trip into the out of doors. I need a retreat and the simple and easy answer is meditation. Don’t mind if I do.

“The whole of meditation practice can be essentialized into these 3 crucial points: Bring your mind home. Release. And relax!”  – Sogyal Rinpoche

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Less Well Is Less Fun

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling “less well” than I would like. I’m trying hard not to say stronger words than that. Maybe I’m just superstitious, but it seems like the more focus I give to… you know, “bad words” the worse I feel.

I like to feel “more well”. As a matter of fact, I like to feel awesome. I like to feel exuberant and vivacious and excited about my life. Less well is less fun.

I don’t think we always have as much control over these things as we’d like. Sure, I did a bit of indulgent eating over the weekend, that’s true. But “less well” can sneak up on us like a rabid opossum. Though I’ve never actually met one, I imagine they’re stealthy little devils.

With”less well” as my companion, I ventured into my day, and I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with my picks. I’m not always very good about honoring how I feel and so it was a total win in my book when I ran 3 miles instead of my planned 5. I took the time to meditate and I listened to things that make me feel inspired and uplifted while I drove to granny’s house… Over the river and through the woods… I said no to good things, because when you feel “less well” sometimes good things aren’t good for you. And I ate foods that were supportive to my system and made me feel “more well”.

My granny always says, “Every day is a good day, some are just better than others.” She’s a smart lady and I suspect she’s had her share of “less well”, just like the rest of us. It’s not a matter of avoiding those days, I think it’s a matter of respecting them and doing what we can. It is my hope, and experience has taught me to expect it, that when I honor the “less well”, “more well” comes back to me sooner.

In my book, “sick” is the worst four-letter word of all.

be well

It’s Not Just The Events ~ It’s Life

These last few days, weeks and even months, it sometimes seems, have been so very busy. It’s not just that I’m trying to build my own, new future, it’s the traveling and it’s the events. It’s life.

We just got back last night from a long weekend at the coast celebrating Easter and celebrating Mr Dreamboat’s 50th birthday. We had friends and all the kids and their spouses and our grandson there. We had so much delicious food, courtesy of our head chef, Miss Zoë’s boyfriend. We took pictures, we went to church. We played games and had a bonfire down on the beach. You will not hear me complain. Life is good. I am blessed.

And, if I may, I’d like to add just a little bit to it.

So often we think of the perfect life and all the things we want. It can be a fun game we play with ourselves… “I can’t wait until _____”, “Won’t it be awesome when _____”, and, “I would love to have_____”. Those are valid. They’re good plans. I sometimes think longing and yearning are built in systems made for us to grow. And…

There is something very pure in living in simplicity. There is something quite lovely in the quiet of our lives. I think balance is going from one state of imbalance and balancing it out with the next state of imbalance. Feast to fast and then back again.

I’m not trying to promote extremes. I’m just saying there is value and wonder in exactly the place you find yourself today. A loud and busy home will someday be balanced with a quiet and serene one. Neither is superior. Both are to be enjoyed in their time. It’s either that or live exclusively in yearning and longing.

Today feels like Monday to me, and as such, I will take it as a new start. The beginning of this week, for me. I will relish the quiet. I will take pleasure in the mundane. There’s something quite sacred about each circumstance. All we need to do is enjoy them.

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Mr Dreamboat Turns 50 ~ A Trip To The Coast

I am sitting in my room at the beach house. Outside my door there is a stunning cacophony of people that I love. They are talking and joking. They are being competitive in a blackout Bingo game to win a pair of movie tickets. They are learning things about one another and there is a fair amount of teasing and a generous dose of laughter.

I have been in the middle of it all morning. I created the Bingo game, I oversaw breakfast (Carrie & Dakota made crepes and Ian made a delicious chicken carbonara filling), and truthfully, I gathered them all here.

I love these kinds of holidays and I love being in the middle of the action. But realistically,

This is what the new 50 looks like.
This is what the new 50 looks like.

sometimes it feels like I can be more present when I take a few minutes and listen to the magic. It feels more digestible to move from the room and simply observe the interactions.

This weekend we celebrate a half century of delight that has been Mr Dreamboat’s life. He turns fifty years old tomorrow and this is the reason for a long weekend party. It’s the excuse to gather friends and family and eat wonderful food and become ridiculously competitive to win a pair of movie tickets.

Since tomorrow is Easter, I’ll just take this moment and dedicate this post to my very own Mr Dreamboat. It’s stunning to realize we have been together for more than 27 years. I feel deeply and sincerely blessed to be his wife, to watch him and learn from him. Every day I try to love him as well as he loves me. The man sets the bar high in whatever he does.

So here’s to weekends with surf and sand. Here’s to friends and family and beautiful surroundings and here’s to the man I love, may we share 50 more years together because the first 27 have been one hell of an awesome ride.

Ten Things I Choose To Think Today

I ascribe meaning to everything. We all do whether we’re aware of it or not. But the definitions are uniquely our own. What we believe something means is reality. It’s our reality and that’s the only world in which we live. Webster’s be damned.

Our definitions come to us by choice or by default. We all walk through life with these meanings and they make us happy or they make us sad. I suspect we’ve all been unconscious to the definitions, but I say, “No more!” Let us rise up and define things in a way that makes us happy. No one can tell us we’re wrong, not unless they’ve decided to live in our reality, and when they do that, they’ve adopted our meanings. We win.

I want to, need to and ultimately get to be happy, often based on my definitions. Here are a few I choose this Good Friday:

  1. Failure isn’t the “F” word. Failure is feedback. Failure is proof I’m trying. Failure is one step closer to success.
  2. When people and things fall away from our lives, it isn’t rejection, it is all of us progressing toward our destinations. Some things and some people where never meant to be in your whole story. They’re meant to play their part and move on in their own journey.
  3. There is time well spent and their is time wasted. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference, but you’re the one who gets to decide, no one else. Not a magazine article or your neighbor who always has one eyebrow raised or your significant other. Only you. 
  4. Scary does not equal bad. Scary is simply the edge where what you know meets what you don’t. Scary is an opportunity to be free.
  5. Beauty is something entirely different than genetics and propaganda. I aspire to it, and have even reached it from time to time. But my definition might well be something quite different than yours.
  6. Prosperity is something everyone deserves, and it too has its own unique flavors and earmarks. To prosper is something joyous and holistic and has much more to do with sunlight than caviar. But let us not disregard caviar. It might just have its place in your prosperity too.
  7. Death is inevitable and much friendlier when we invite it into our reality than when we pretend it has no place in our lives. It’s been there since the beginning and will be there at the end. Duh.
  8. Education is something that happens throughout our lives and the quality of it has little to do with pieces of paper or credits. 
  9. Everything has value. Everything. The good and the bad, the big and the small, the scary and the ebullient all has value. Whether we extract that value is our choice, but it’s there either way.
  10. True happiness is being present. Feeling what you’re feeling. Fully receiving what is being offered and taking things at face value without deconstructing them.

Today I choose to think happy thoughts, and that is the best reality we can create for ourselves. You should have some too. They’re free and they make everything better.