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The girl I once was is the daughter of a fiery Polish woman. That girl arrived at each ballet recital, band practice and volleyball game with her head held high and left the same way because that is what she was taught. She was wild at heart and asked too many questions.
The girl I once was looked a lot like my daddy and had my mother’s personality. Her imagination was endless. And so were her words.
I’ve thought a lot about that girl recently. The girl I was in this picture. And the woman holding me. In that photograph is the girl I once was. And the mother I loved and lost. And the story of us captured in a single moment.
To understand me better you have to understand who she was. My mother was born in New York in 1958 to a woman who dealt with manic depression and emotional detachment issues. Her mother was emotionally abusive. I saw it myself once. And it rattled me. That encounter also told me that this woman and my mother didn’t have much in common. You see, I found an old journal of my moms recently. She wrote letters to me when I was still a baby. She wrote about how she worked hard to break the cycle of women in her family shaming their daughters. She wanted her relationship with me to be different. She wanted me to feel loved, supported and encouraged in all that I did. My mother found the strength from within to be an example to me in a way that she had to create. It wasn’t something that was modeled to her.
Fourteen years ago she suddenly passed away and every single day since she has held a special place in my heart and is on my mind constantly. When she died, I feel like I lost a piece of who I am. But as I grieve the girl I was, I also continue on, striving to become more and more the woman I am meant to me.
I’m the woman I am today because of her. I’m fiery, stubborn, creative, passionate, a mama bear if you mess with my family. I’m a dreamer and I thrive when others are thriving. So much of who I am is who she was.
And one day when I have my own daughter I will tell stories about her grandmother, I’ll be honored to say that the woman she was and the woman I am now (and becoming more and more of each day) are similar in countless ways.
This story is part of Story Sessions community linkup of The Women We Once Were. Join us in celebrating our voices today, on International Women’s Day at http://www.thestorysessions.com/blog/reclaimingourgirls
We close our eyes and inhale the aroma of a fragrant, just out of the oven apple pie. Or the spices swirling and combining in a pot of paella. The smells that bring us back to a moment in time. A dinner with family. Dining out at your favorite eatery. Your first meal prepared together as newlyweds.
Food nourishes more than just our bellies. It can nourish our spirit as well. Each time I choose a recipe, or I fill my counter top with the ingredients for that day’s meal, or I walk through a farmer’s market to taste and procure, I stop and remember that what I create matters.
Food can be an experience.
Every Tuesday night my husband and I have “leftovers” which to most people is generally seen as twice warmed pizza on a paper plate. But we do things a bit differently. We use the good plates. I put on lipstick and a cute dress. He lights candles, turns on soft music and we make a date out of it. I may serve a casserole made from various extra ingredients from previous meals. Or it could be thawed meatloaf. Nothing fancy, but we stop and enjoy the time together. We nourish our marriage through food and quality time.
Do you take time to let food be a nourishing experience? How can you share that with your family?
Try this Super Immune Boosting Chicken Soup recipe. I generally make enough for that night’s dinner and extra to freeze in containers for a quick meal later on.
Early last month, on the Day of Epiphany, I sat in contemplation. I breathed deeply and thought What do I want my life to manifest more of? What do I want to have seen more throughout the coming year? Well it’s taken the past month to arrive at and then rest in the answer(s).
Joy, freedom, surrender, rest, adventure.
And in order to gain more of the above, it all begins with one word.
After the last few years of participating in OneWord365 when I chose a word to focus on throughout the year, my word finally found me this time around.
-to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth. To cherish, foster, keep alive. To strengthen and build up.
Nourish. That’s it! My body needs more nourishment. My creativity needs to be kept alive and growing this year. My marriage needs to be continually strengthened. I crave more. I WANT more. And no one is going to do it for me. I have to sustain all the good things in me and around me myself.
And you know what? That’s hard. Harder than I imagined. I’ve become so comfortable in helping strengthen those around me. I’ve spent endless hours on the phone, in homes, in coffee shops, writing emails to those I love that needed and cried out for encouragement and nourishment to their hearts and lives. And I gladly did that. But as I continued to give, I saw that I wasn’t asking. I wasn’t taking anything in return many times. And then I’ve wondered why my health failed, why my sleep became so screwed up. Why I don’t take time to stop and feed myself in various ways because there’s just not enough time left.
This year there WILL be time. I’m saying no to others and saying yes to myself more often. Sometimes that will mean missing out on social events. In a few cases it’s going to mean a shift in my friendship with someone. And I see no selfishness in that. I can only give to the extent that I’m filled up and unfortunately I ended last year completely and utterly drained.
This year I will be writing, creating, cooking, photographing, exploring, risking, letting go, speaking truth, ignoring bullshit and resting MORE. All in an effort to gain nourishment for my body, mind and spirit.
Each week I’ll try to write at least two posts on nourishment including thoughts on nourishing body, mind and spirit; my relationships, marriage and faith. Mostly I want this to be a space where I keep myself accountable. But as with any journey, I’m not here alone. I invite you to think about how you can nourish yourself more in the coming days.
Join me! How can you feel nourished today?
We all know life can get hectic
But if you live in the second,
You exist in the present
And that’s how you stay connected
Go through good times and hardships
And if you learn to accept it
And know that every struggle in life,
Is there to teach you a lesson
It’s times like this that make you
It’s always the darkest part of the night, right before the sun has it’s break through
You only create your own ceilings
Life is limitless,
That’s why I try to inhale deep, so I can find peace, and essence can find me.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear — Nelson Mandela
You’ve felt it haven’t you?
In the middle of the night it jolts you awake. When you least expect it, it comes creeping up on you. Someone tells you something that triggers it in an instant. Your heart and mind wait for it. You do everything you can or at least you think you do, but it still arrives.
A four letter word I’m all too familiar with. And I bet you might be too.
I chose to run and hide from it for years. Until I realized that as hard as it was, pushing through the fear was really what I needed. I would have never discovered the extent of my strength, my tenacity and the power one feels when you push yourself to be brave; to muster the courage you know is there…deep down.
There’s a single post it note that is taped to my computer screen these days.
Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.
So whatever it is, whatever the fear has been keeping from you- use the courage within your heart and soul and run towards it. Is it a dream job? A new relationship? A deeper spirituality? A long awaited for but yet attained dream?
Because you know what? Following your heart, having perseverance in the face of adversity, taking a risk and pushing yourself into the unknown IS SO WORTH IT.
Face the fear.
And be ready to discover and learn more than you could have ever imagined.
Take a look at this too:
I have kept a journal for years. Each word on every page is sacred. Each line is part of a story. My story. My journals are filled with many emotions, tears, wine stains and a few brownie crumbs.
For years I would finish a journal, wrap it in paper and place it in a box that would ultimately fill up and be taped shut and placed in my attic. On the outside of each box one word was printed: Fragile. I found that fitting. And that’s where my words began and ended. They were closed, hidden, for my eyes only. And fragile. I couldn’t even imagine at that time having anyone read my thoughts.
But then I moved to Prague. And I began to be pushed and encouraged to share my voice. To SPEAK. And so I did. And it was during that time that I began to blog. As time passed I gained courage and ultimately my true voice. I was no longer ashamed, afraid or apologetic.
“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” — Iyanla Vanzant
This is my space. My words. My moments and memories that I offer to you because they become so much more powerful when they are shared. They have the power to heal.
As part of my Story101 writing course, I’ve been encouraged to write an inventory. A collection of life moments. Some bring back tears, others, fits of laughter. But they all are pieces to my story. And I’m thankful I can share them with you.
Eighteen hour drives to Kentucky each summer.
Riding my Papaw’s horse Prince.
Decorating the family Christmas tree.
Singing Billy Joel songs with my mother.
Going to the Girl Scout daddy daughter dance. I always got to pick the restaurant before the dance.
Had my first kiss in the church parking lot.
Learned to drive with my dad at the greyhound track lot.
Experienced grief and loss in the deepest and most painful of ways.
Enjoyed my first taste of whiskey.
Applied for my first passport.
Sang on stage for the first time.
Attended film school.
Experienced my first west coast sunset.
Danced in Central Park.
Arrived at my first international city- Dublin. And spent the next few weeks falling in love with the Northern Irish people in a tiny town called Killyleagh.
Lost my voice. Surrendered my power to someone who abused it.
Made my 4th move to a new town.
Created my first song writing journal.
Read The Screwtape Letters.
Engaged in true community for the first time.
Started a photography business.
Moved to Prague, Czech Republic.
Kara Sr and Kara Jr were established in our downtown apartment.
Cooked my very first Thanksgiving dinner for 25 Czech students.
Met Shaman in Budapest.
Moved back to Northern California. Settled in and established roots in a new family of friends.
Fell in love with the wrong person.
Sought out new adventures in suburbia.
Kicked cancer’s ass!
Fight Club began and was something I looked forward to each week for over a year.
Fell out of love.
Got my first tattoo.
Read The Four Agreements for the first time.
The Tailgate Club was established…
…and I vowed to never drink jaeger again.
I was reminded of how blessed I am by the people in my life.
Began to risk in new ways.
Fell in love with the right person.
Bought a wedding dress.
Introduced Max to my family.
I said YES! and received my favorite piece of jewelry EVER.
Started a new dream.
Moved and started adapting to the country life.
Made my health a priority for the first time in a long time.
Created boundaries and didn’t waver from my convictions.
Walked down the aisle in my cowboy boots.
Started new family traditions.
Connected with the phrase “mama in waiting”
Started a new job.
Got inspired to FINALLY write the story I have been wanting to share for years!
So that’s my story thus far. And I love that it’s not over. Far from it! There is much much more to be told. New moments to be written and shared.
What are your memorable moments? What story have you yet to share?
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one. Jane Howard
I’m an extrovert. I THRIVE on being surrounded by friends and loved ones. I recharge best and feel energized when I’m laughing, sharing a meal or even on the phone with those who I hold close to my heart.
Over the last decade I was on a journey of personal discovery. Within the the last three years I’ve not only discovered who I am but I’m fully living as the woman I was designed to be! And It. Feels. GOOD. The kinds of relationships I’ve had and the depth of those friendships throughout the past ten years are very telling of the direction and focus of my life at that current time.
Recently I took time to write down a list. A list of my “tribe” Each of these people are valuable and have an important role in my life. And I’ve come to realize they are essential to my continued growth and journey towards all that my heart desires. I’m grateful for each and every one.
I’m thankful for my Encouragers. These are the people who give me hope. They are the best at giving high fives and hugs. They speak truth in love to me, they pick me up on days I’ve crashed and burned. They are the ones cheering me on halfway through the marathon.
I’m thankful for my Yodas. I have two people who I seek wisdom from on a regular basis. They help me navigate the path they have already walked. These “green muppets” wrote the book on hard times and failures. But they got back up, shook off the dirt and kept moving forward. They teach me and I am able to implement so much into my life from our conversations.
I’m thankful for my Back-Coverers. They fight with me in the front lines. They have my back ALL THE TIME. They stick for me and my integrity when I’m not even around.
I’m thankful for the Ass-Kickers. These amazing few bless me forward and have no problem getting in my face when needed. They are bold, don’t accept bullshit and I never doubt they have my best interest in mind. Whenever I get “off track” I know these are the people who will be calling and knocking down my door sooner rather than later.
Do you have these kinds of relationships? Are you aware of your ass kickers or encouragers? Are you a Yoda or a Back coverer to someone in your life?
I never know when I first meet someone who they will be in my life. Or what role I will play in theirs. Some of the ones mentioned above I’ve known since childhood, others have come into my life just in the last few years.
Call it a clan, call it a network. I call it my tribe. We all need at least one filled with unique and amazing souls.
This past week I jumped into a new tribe. For the next ten weeks I will be on a writing journey with 30 other women. Story101 is full of talented writers and creatives. I’m excited to see what is in store for each of us. I’m already aware that there may be lifelong friends I’ve yet to meet in this group. So cheers to a new place to create, share, laugh and cry together!