Tag Archives: family

happy for no reason

Did You Feel That?

In the mornings long before the other residents of my home arise, I practice what I preach to my clients. I read from great books, exercise and meditate. I do it more or less well depending on the day, my mood or the weather.

It is the meditation that can be so very challenging, though with the pesky cold I have my workout was lackluster this morning at best. It’s one thing to lack energy. Make time for some rest, drink plenty of fluids and sooner or later we’re back on our feet. But focus? That’s the final frontier.

Meditation takes many forms for me. I practice yoga, I sit in a classic pose for twenty minutes and clear my brain, I paint and I exercise feelings.

Not like hate or love. Not those kinds of feelings. The feelings I explore have more to do with being in the energy of happiness, productivity and even faith.

I think the reason some people lovelovelove the holidays is not so much about sugar plum faeries, though who doesn’t love a sugar plum faery no matter what time of year, but they love Christmas because of that feeling.

It’s about warmth and safety and knowing there is good in the world

Add to that a faith in ourselves that we can and will do anything we want, that “it’s” all going to come together beautifully and that everything in our lives, and in the lives of those we love is unfolding exactly as it should.

It’s like Christmas, only for every day of the year, and if we can capture the feeling.

Each morning I wake up and I do my exercise. I read something powerful, maybe practice some yoga poses and then, then I practice my favorite feelings, trying them on and observing how accurately I can create them without the triggers.

Don’t get me wrong, as my smart son, Max, reminded me when we discussed this idea, so much of the feeling is about the ritual. My smart husband, Mr Dreamboat, reminded me it’s about community coming together is celebration. And my smart son-in-law Ian reminded me we get choose whatever meaning we want on everything.

It’s not every day I am successful in feeling successful. I admit that fully, but every day I practice is. Every day I wonder how I can do this day and experience this day better than I did yesterday.

I think we’ll go get our tree tomorrow too. It can only help.

comfort and joy

Holiday Fear… I Meant Cheer…

It is December. It is the season. The season of FamilySpendingStressWorshipandTonsandTonsofFood. I believe that’s the official name of the entire season. But really, I don’t want to talk so much about the holidays. I want to talk about you. And me. And living life in a brilliant way.

I recently read that in order to have successful New Year’s Resolutions, one should start 6 weeks in advance. Technically we’re already past that date, but today is the last day of November and, let’s be honest, if we start working on them today it’s way sooner than we’ve ever done before.

“But it’s FamilySpendingStressWorshipandTonsandTonsofFood season,” you might say to me. “How am I ever going to have the time and energy to focus on anything but that?” (Let’s call it what it is, you whined that part.)

Yeah. I get that. But recently I had an epiphany. It was in mid October when my mind rankled me out of an autumnal bliss and reminded me that the holidays were nearly upon us. “Rude!” I screamed to myself, but then I remembered: Whatever experience I’m having, I am choosing to have it. While circumstances, like holidays and viruses may come and go as they please, the way in which I experience them is all me.


It is nearly December and holiday cheer is sidling up to each and every one of us like a cuddly kitten that may or may not scratch us without provocation. We can ease our holiday anxieties with too much food and an attitude of simply getting through it all, or we can focus on creating goals for the coming year and experiencing the holidays with gratitude and humor.

I’ll take a second helping of the latter if you don’t mind.

bill murray awesome

Why You Matter

One time Mr Dreamboat took his hand off my back and I thought I was going to die. Literally, not figuratively.

I was in that super-cool, super human state where my body was expelling a completely separate human and was practically turning inside out to do it. Because of the intense concentration it required of me to keep from howling at the moon, the floor and anyone within a 27 mile radius, I hadn’t stopped to mention, “Hey, your hand on my back is tethering me and without it I will most certainly float into the Abyss of Agony and never, ever return. Thanks for that.”

When he removed my connection to our reality I focused with all my might and said just that in the most precise words possible, “Put. Your. Hand. Back.” Not my most poetic work, but it did the trick.

Look! I created this perfectly lovely human being!
Look! I created this perfectly lovely human being!

I come back to this story often when I am doing something I don’t necessarily want to do. Not convinced it makes any difference to anyone if I show up to a party, support a friend’s child’s fundraiser, make a phone call or offer a smile on a day that the energy expense is considerable, with this incident firmly planted in my labor-traumatized mind, almost without exception, I do the deed anyway.

Maybe it wasn’t the incident that continues to remind me to matter, but our conversation after the fact that impacted me so completely.

“Why did you move your hand when I needed it so much?” I asked Mr D.

“I didn’t think it was making a difference,” he explained.

Too many times I’ve said harsh things thinking it didn’t matter, decided my presence wasn’t of any real import and thoughtlessly pursued the voices that drive my own needs. Though that conversation took place almost 17 years ago (Can it really be almost 17 years ago?), I continue to make those same mistakes, though I certainly try not to.

We are so fragile. Almost none of us are immune to the need to be understood, loved and supported. Try as we might to “first, do no harm” like the Doctors of Love we most certainly are, no one gets by without offending someone at some time.

Whether we realize it or not, our kindnesses, reaching out and gentle touches tether our loved ones as well as strangers to a  world in desperate need of more kindness. We need to remember that. Remember that our omissions can sometimes do harm and that goes against the Oath of The Universe. I’m sure there is one, we just don’t remember taking it.

We will harm each other. It’s what we do. We’re human. But when we remember that we matter, our presence matters, the words we say and the things we do, they matter, then we’ll do a better job of doing good, healing hearts and tethering one another to a more beautiful world.

Grateful always grateful

It’s Not What You Think It Is

Months ago I adopted and warped a meditation to my liking, originally of the Dalia Lama’s making. In it, I meditated on life and love and all the richness of living on purpose. So delicious..

However when my meditation came to fruition, I was, at least for a short time, disgruntled and anxious. You know what they say about being careful what you ask for…

The specific part of the meditation to which I refer is, “May I live a life rich in love…” It sounded good on paper, but its arrival was through a back door and I didn’t know my visitor when it landed.

What I saw was an overly taxed schedule as well as a steep learning curve.

zoe and ianIn a very short period of time I played the role of Mother of the bride (also known at our house as, the Maid of Mommer) and the maid of honor to one of my best friends. I shopped for wedding dresses, wedding shoes, threw a Stag-ette party for my friend and a bridal shower for my daughter. There were barbecues, late nights laughing and the chaos that is living and loving and celebration.

For a little while, before I saw the whole thing as it should be seen, what I believed was that I was a bit of a slave to obligation ~ forgive the dramatics. I thought I was over-taxed and under-prepared.

Perhaps in our age of “Business = Importance”, in some way I felt justified by my stress, but busy-ness never was happiness.

My turnabout came one day as I was driving, likely on the way to the party store, when suddenly I connected my meditation with my circumstances.

How lucky I am to have a daughter who wants me involved in her wedding and a friend andrea and michaelwho wants me intimately involved in the most important decision of her life.

Rich in love. I am living a life truly rich in love.

It was a stunning revelation and with its arrival my stress level plummeted and my pleasure meter sang at the red end of the spectrum, instantaneously drenching me in joy.

They say we have everything we need within our reach and I have seen this to be true. Sometimes we don’t even have to reach for it, we just have to see it for what it is. And then be grateful for it. Always grateful.

Like, share, comment, tweet and tell me, do you make this mistake too?

more happy

One Time I Thought I Knew ~ A List Of Ten Things

In my twenties I knew a lot of things. In my thirties, beliefs started dropping like flies at the end of a long, hot summer. In my forties, just a bit gun-shy for having made so many broad assumptions in the beginning, I began collecting things I believe.

It would be foolish to say I will always believe the things that seem so obvious to me today, but I have quite a lot of confidence in these, and so I present them to you:

1. I believe that miracles multiply. Once we start noticing them, they’re everywhere for us to pick up like gems along the path. This is not unlike buying a black Jetta and suddenly they seem to be swarming the highways. Only better than that.
2. Though it’s difficult to embrace it when it’s happening to us, I believe that when people behaveroald dahl quote badly it has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them. While it doesn’t make it more fun, it’s just an explanation that if embraced, makes the ordeal less painful.
3. Audrey Hepburn is one of my heroes and to that end; I believe that happy girls are the prettiest. Sure, put on mascara, but live a life you love and the whole world will look at you in wonder.
4. Having been around the block a few years, I now see love less like a feeling and more like a complex root system to be nurtured. While root systems can look similar, there is a multitude of plants out there and they can be quite different. Don’t worry how your “love” looks, concern yourself with what it needs in order to thrive.
5. If I were in charge of the world, and let’s face it, that doesn’t seem like a wise idea, but if I were in charge, I’d make core curriculum testing way less important than teaching young people how to think critically and trust their intuition. I would totally sign up for those classes today if anyone would please offer them.
6. It’s an ugly truth that “nap time” is eradicated from life just when we don’t resent it any longer.
7. Audacity is possibly the most underrated characteristic out there. If we all put on our Audacity Capes, we would achieve great feats of bravery and every one of us would change the world in a big way. Put on your cape. Please, for all our sakes.
8. We’d all feel a lot better if we never clicked on links to negative and outrageous stuff like, “Cute child stars who got ugly when they grew up.” Sure it’s a curiosity, but who amongst us would want someone clicking on a negative page about us? Scroll on by.
9. Choosing to believe in miracles and magic is simply more fun. Everyone should try just a bit of it.
10. I believe in love. I believe in laughter and dancing in the rain, by yourself or with someone you who sets your soul on fire. I believe if we were all taught true, pure, self-love, we could love each other better. I believe pettiness never was happiness and I believe the road to perfection is paved with embracing imperfection and simply being wildly and joyfully human.

Like, share, comment, tweet and hey, reach out if you’d like a little help along your own path. I’ve got some rockin’ cool stuff to help you along the way.

wild rumpus

Get Down With Yo Bad Self ~ My Therapist’s Prescription

Michelle At Play came about at a time when I was all out of . I was woefully low on dreams. Life was so hard I couldn’t see the magic if a rabbit popped out of the tophat in front of me.

I was worn out, washed up and began every day just as tired as I’d ended the one before.

A year at a Buddhist monastery wasn’t on the radar and so I limped through my own version of reparative therapy. It involved actual therapy along with plenty of exercise, prescription medication and an aversion to doing anything I didn’t want to do.

That part was actually an ongoing assignment from the therapist I was seeing at the time. “Don’t do anything you don’t want to do,” she told me. I think I looked at her as if she’d grown horns on the spot or started speaking Vulcan or something.

“What’s that you say,” I asked? “Don’t do anything I don’t want to do?”

Happy Girls WMShe patiently explained that some basics like brushing my teeth and general care of my children might be required, but beyond that, nothing.

I practically had an anxiety attack on the spot.

This, my friends, is why I preach what I preach. Playing through life does not come naturally to me and perhaps it’s the reason I feel so strongly about it. Maybe it’s why I know exactly how important play is, because I forget to do it. To this day.

I hope that play and joy and a natural belief in magic is your strong suit. I hope that today you don’t just preach happiness but that you live it. And if it doesn’t come easily to you, as it doesn’t for me, I hope you declare today a play day and even if it’s just in one, tiny, little way, you allow your inner child out to romp for a bit.

You won’t regret it. I know I won’t.

Let the wild rumpus start!

Like, share, comment, tweet and put on your tiara and have a dance party with yo’ bad self.

29_Young Family_8981

A Guide To The Rollercoaster Ride Of Parenting ~ A List Of Ten Things

Last night I could not sleep for concern over my kids. That said, my children, like yours, bring me a great deal of joy. As I look back over the time I’ve had with them, more than 26 years in all, I can see more than a few things they’ve taught me.

Here I present to you ten of them:

1. As much as Jr. may or may not look like you, Jr. is not you and Jr. does not want to be you. Give the kid some space and don’t take his divergence from you so seriously. In fact, celebrate it.
2. Your children are going to get beaten up by life. No matter the quality of your parenting, bad stuff will happen on your watch. It’s terrifying, but it’s true. That said, we would not be turning out the excellent products we do without them learning that life is a roller coaster. Sure you’ll mourn this fact, but celebrate it too.
3. If you suffer with your children, who will be there to comfort them? Have empathy, but have faith that they can handle the mishaps of life, and then put your oxygen mask on first. You know what I’m saying here. Do. It.
4. As cute as that little button is when they first arrive in your arms, be assured this is not always going to be easy and it’s not going to be pretty. In fact, the birthing process is quite possibly the tranquil part.
5. Parenting will teach you that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. As clear as the path may seem to you, when Jr. strays from it, it’s not the end of the world. There are many paths but one destination. Yeah, I just said that. And I’m not sorry.
6. It is completely unwise to believe you are going to be best friends while you raise them. Someone has to be in charge and it better be you. Letting children rule the roost is not fair to them or the people sitting by you at the restaurant. Take charge and people will like your little peanut a whole lot more. This is good for self-esteem. Yours and theirs.
7. It is said that having a child is like cutting your heart out and letting it walk around in the world without you. I concur. This job takes guts and it’s better to know now that you will have your heart broken a number of times. But it will heal too.
8. If you are willing, you will learn more from the wisdom of your children than you ever thought possible. As they grow up, they will teach you marvelous things. Make sure and pay attention.
9. Good parenting involves quite a lot of faith in very young human beings. When we extend our faith to our children, faith that they are brave enough, smart enough and strong enough to be successful in this world, almost without exception they will prove us right. But first you must extend and communicate faith.
10. And if you put in all the particular ingredients required in the recipe of your family, when you’re done raising them, or even mostly done, you can be best friends then. And THAT is the big payday. And grandchildren. They’re a big payday too.

Like, share, comment, tweet and may god have mercy on every parent’s soul.

holidays coming

Bringing Up Spud ~ A Guide To The Garden Of Parenting

The tricky part about having children is that we somehow believe, and maybe this is some sort of scheme of nature, that they are an extension of us.

It serves us well, this belief, when they are little spuds, crying and yowling their needs to us in the middle of the night. But by the time they’re 10, 12, 17 years old, it is not as charming. It’s not nearly so endearing.

If we are incapable of making the leap from, “Spud is an extension of me,” to, “Spud is his/her own human being completely separate from my interests and goals,” there will be some hell to pay. On both sides.

The memory is as vivid to me as if it happened yesterday. I was taking one of my little spuds to middle school and for the gazillionth time I was carping about hygiene. I whined and chided, I pointed out flaws in the system and made suggestions for improvements.

That’s not the part that struck me, since I’d done it so many times before.

What really caught me was the sudden realization that I was sending Spud out into the world with bad feelings and diminished self-esteem. The car ride to school allows no opportunity to brush one’s teeth or put on deodorant. That is, unless your car is significantly differently equipped than mine is.

I stopped right there in my tracks and proffered one of a million apologies I’ve given over the years to my Spuds.

Because apologies go a lot further than criticisms. And we need more of them in this world. Especially from parents.

Since that pivotal day I have found myself, from time to time, issuing observations and desires as well as criticisms. I try to stop myself and remember that these people, because our children our first and foremost people, don’t necessarily think how I think and they probably don’t want the same things I want.

What they want, need and deserve is my respect. And that, I shall always give to them.

Our children will learn what they need from life. They will teach us things we need to know and together we will walk the path of life, just as our ancestors did before us. My only goal is maybe to do it a little bit lighter and a little bit kinder than I understood was possible.

Like, share, comment, tweet and look in the mirror and give your inner child a high five for being awesome.
29_Young Family_8981

lower your standards

Secrets Of Happiness ~ A List Of Ten

The “Science Of Happiness” is an interesting animal. There are definitely specifics to it, but in the end, we are each unique and as varied as the falling snow. A perfect afternoon for me (in my studio alone, dance party, paint everywhere) may be hours of anxiety and pain for you. Tuh-may-toe/ Toe-mah-toe.

I would never prescribe you with the particulars of how to spend your day to achieve happiness, but there are some very reliable studies that can give us a few hints toward happiness. I don’t know about you, but I could use a few hints about life.

Here are ten of them:

1. Real happiness does not reside in the acquisition of stuff. Happy people revel in what they have and opt out of comparing it to others. Easier said than done, right? But there are a few tricks that can help us get there. When we find ourselves in that comparative place, taking a moment and redirecting our thoughts to those things that are awesome (“Hey, I’m so happy my computer works.”) reminds us of reasons to rejoice. Let us rejoice!
2. While the perfect bank account is a comfort, money isn’t happiness. Nor is the perfect relationship if the money part is freaking you out. Achieving a sense of balance (not to be confused with perfection) is the path to happiness.
3. Likewise, winning isn’t everything. Ultracompetitive people are not happy people because losing happens. And when we expect to win every time, we can’t be dazzled, we’re only mollified for a moment. Losing sometimes, occasional failures, these things are good for us. Think of it as medicinal. Makes it go down smoother.
4. Taking the time to comfort others is good for the soul. It takes us out of our own, sometimes petty, concerns and strengthens relationships. Somehow comforting others, comforts us. It’s magic. Don’t ask me how it works.
5. When Mr Dreamboat was in jail I honestly believed that all the good times were past. I was not yet forty. Deeply depressed much? Yes. Yes I was. But it’s not uncommon for us to think that when our youth is past, so are the best of times. Studies show the opposite. The halcyon days of youth are a story someone made up. Maybe so we would be shocked to get to our later years and find the party was always waiting there for us. Party on, Garth.
6. Back to that wondrous and seemingly elusive thing called balance, we must remember to align our goals. We may say we want to make millions of dollars and then declare we seek tons of free time to relax on the beach. Um… how’s that gonna work? Take a good look at what lights you up in all areas of your life and then balance those out so it’s a harmonious story you’re creating.
7. Sometimes, and I try to keep it to a bare minimum, I think cranky thoughts and ruminate on sad, ugly stories. The stories may be true, and to a certain degree need to be acknowledged, but after that, the rumination doesn’t do a speck of good. When I catch myself in the ugly stories, that may, or may not even be true, I pat my self on my metaphorical head and turn the other way. This is a far more powerful tool than one would think. You’re welcome.
8. Laugh. Laugh at yourself. Laugh when no one else thinks it’s funny. Just laugh. Cat videos might help. A good, belly laugh is an amazing reparative practice. Whatever it is that makes you laugh, do it and do it often. Here, let me help you:

9. I ran a girls camp for years. The very first year it rained the entire week. It was cold, we had no indoor buildings available and the one thing I remember saying over and over again was, “We are willows, we bend but do not break.” One of the keys to happiness is being flexible. When things have to be on our terms we tend to get frustrated and anxious. Letting things flow as they will brings us peace and a happiness not to be found when things only go our way.
10. I jokingly say that at our house we’re never disappointed because we lower the bar. That way, every morning all I have to do is get up and step right over the top of it. But there’s an element of truth to it. A truth that permeates all of the previous tips. Stuff’s gonnna happen, disappointments are inevitable, but when we wake up and we find we can get out of bed, we have love in our lives, we have people who care about us, boom! Life is a success and there’s everything to be happy about. Do yourself a favor and lower the bar.

Like, share, comment, tweet and don’t worry, be happy!
more happy

How To Succeed At Your Best Failures

If you were to ask anyone of my children what the definition of an adventure is, they would all respond virtually identically.

“An adventure is something you’ve never tried before. You might like it, love it or hate it. The important thing is that you try.”

Do not tell them, but this particular definition masked my anxiety as my little band of midgets accompanied me out into the world. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was trying and by damn, they were going to come with me.

Denis said it best.

They would also tell you, each with their unique voice and perspective, that some of our adventures they liked, some they loved and some they absolutely loathed. I would have to agree with them. There were the sucky ones too. There is always “suck” in the adventures from time to time.

One time I took all five of my children, aged 15 to 1 on a hike that accidentally turned into a nine-mile ordeal. I have a difficult time thinking about my then four-year-old son’s wobbling legs before we finally picked him up. Oopsy…

Here’s to adventure!

Beyond the joy of discovering things you never knew you loved, or hated, are the stories you accumulate. Telling a story of a flawless one mile hike with one’s children isn’t nearly as interesting as an almost abusively long hike and my children stepping up to help one another back to our camping spot. At the very least, a botched adventure usually gives you a great story and a few good lessons to go with it.

Adventures are on my mind as this morning I begin another for myself.

I’ve loved life coaching my private clients and today I begin my first group coaching event.

I am way more excited than I am nervous. But I am nervous. That’s how I know it’s an adventure.

We travelers on the road of life seek many things. We seek connection, knowledge, comfort and joy. Even more, we wish those things for the people that we love, and for good reason. But today, because my heart pounds a little bit faster, because I know I could most certainly fail, but also that I might fly, I wish for you adventure.

May your choices be wise and wild, may your dreams be clear and crazy and may you seek adventures more than comforts.

Like, share, comment, tweet and carpe vitam!