Sorry I missed your call…I was talking to my MOM💕

Life is so beautiful and full of the unexpected.

One of my favorite sayings is “Every day comes with its own surprises”.

And I’m so grateful. ❤

If you follow my blog, you’ve read the unraveling.

You’ve witnessed just a portion of the inner workings of Faith.

Faith can move mountains.

And true surrender will CHANGE your life.

Let me share….

My early days were not so good. Life was tumultuous (is that even a word?) at best. The chaos, the abuse, the ups and downs of life as a child in an alcoholic home.

As I grew and became an adult, had children of my own, and developed my own world, I realized just how toxic my family really was.

I distanced myself to save myself.

Literally.

I blocked my parents and siblings from my phone, sent back letters, and all together allowed them to disappear from my world.

I know that sounds tragic. And it was. But, I couldn’t take the abuse anymore. 34 years of the madness, the anger, the rage.

It was just too much.

And my soul was exhausted.

For the past decade, I have devoted my time and energy to healing myself.

Through prayer, fitness, lifestyle changes, and only allowing things into my life that serve my highest purpose, I became a stronger, more defined woman.

And after all this time, I have learned to love myself again.

Let me tell you, I have worked SO hard to get to this place. Many minutes, hours, days and years spent “undoing” what was done.

Resisting the shutdowns, fighting the fear, and sloughing off all of the limiting beliefs put upon me.

I thought I was done with the past….. then my Mom wrote me a letter. ❤

My Dad passed away a little over a year ago. He left behind the aftermath of his destructive behaviors. And it seems that only when the debris has cleared, can you truly see the damage that was done.

Have you ever heard the saying “Hurt people just hurt”?

Well, unfortunately, that defines him.

Ironically, in the past year, I feel like I have built a better relationship with him than we had in this world.

I talk to him, sing songs that remind me of us, and even go on runs “with” him.

His spirit and all the good in him lives on.

As I have shared with my children, I don’t remember any of the bad things anymore.

Truly.

Forgiveness, I tell you, wipes away all of the gunk.

Since my Dad’s passing, unexplainable beauty continues to filter into my life.

It’s almost as if he is up in Heaven, mending all of the broken pieces; one by one.

And I am all about helping him. 😉

The first “mend” was last February.

My anxiety and depression brought me to absolute forgiveness for what my Dad had lived with and through. A newfound understanding of part of the reasons of what he did, was, and why he continued to stay where he was at.

My daughter said it best….”the world was too loud for him”.

And that sparked my anxiety discussion group. To empower and equip others dealing with the demon.

Beauty from the destruction. ❤

The next event, being the reconnection with my oldest brother. A visit that was so full of laughter and love. A 19 year hiatus with a new beginning.

A friendship and the amazing feeling of belonging.

And 2 weeks ago, a message of love from my Mom. ❤

After being center stage with the abuser for 64 years, she had her reasons.

Though her and I see life differently, I didn’t walk in her shoes.

I don’t understand why she didn’t leave.

I don’t know what was said to her, what role she played in it, or how it all went down.

I just know that when I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, I walked away.

I will never know why she put her 6 children through it all.

And that is ok. ❤

The past sometimes needs to remain just where it is… in the past.

We can’t change it.

And if we weren’t there to endure it, we don’t really have the full story.

And to judge? That’s pointless.

I read my Mom’s letter that day and decided it was time to move forward.

I wanted to put the past behind me and see why God was bringing her back into my life.

I have missed my Mom more than words can express.

So many times I have laid in a fetal position crying, “I just want my Mom”….true story, my husband can attest.

When I was being a nasty teenager, my Mom would always tell me, “No one can ever replace your Mom”.

And, that proved to be right.

Others may fill the void, but I shared her body for 9 months. You really can’t top that. 😉

So, I prayed on it and decided to make myself a cup of tea ☕️.

I sat with the idea of hearing her voice again, maybe even seeing her, but then I stepped back.

Part of the reason I left so many years ago was because my family caused me so much undeserving pain.

They were so mean and inconsistent.

I wondered if I called her, would she be kind or ??? Who knows what I would get that day.

I reached out to my “board of directors” as I refer to them.

They are the people in my life that continue to “show up”.

Those who have my complete trust…..and, believe me, that is hard to achieve.

My husband, 4 children, my mother in law, and a couple treasured friends.

I sipped my tea, took a deep breath and called my Mom.

I wasn’t sure how I would start the conversation, but God helped me. ❤

I said, “Hi Mom, it’s me, Linda”.

And we both cried tears of joy.

She had missed me just as I had missed her. Needed me just the same. And, something different from what I had gotten years ago…she Thanked me for calling her.

We caught up and only skimmed the surface of the big issues. I suggested we talk of those when we see each other.

We picked back up like 2 long lost friends.

Since that day, we’ve talked almost daily.

It has been this unexpected gift that I get to open.

I call her on my way home from meetings, on my way to the store.

And I couldn’t take my husband’s call Saturday because I was talking to my Mom.

When I called him back, that’s what I said.

“Sorry I couldn’t take your call, I was talking to my Mom”.

The most beautiful sounding words ever. ❤

Let me tell you this….

When we fully surrender for the plans God has for us, He unleashes this unexplainable peace and vibrant love that cannot be dimmed by words.

He allows true forgiveness and love to enter your heart in a way that is not earthly.

And He covers your eyes with LOVE.

That is all you can see.

No more regret, guilt, anger or fear.

Just LOVE.

That’s what we are here for.

That’s what remains when we die.

Spread it, friends and give it freely.

I promise you, it will change you ❤

I’ll end here for today, as I am about to prepare a care package to send to my Mom❤

Let the journey unfold in His perfect time….He’s got you.

This much, I know.


Much love,

Linda 💕

Spread some MAGIC 🎁

I absolutely love this time of year.

There is so much Magic all around.

I’m certain it’s always been there, but I just recently began to see it.

It’s as if God continues to sprinkle glitter from the Heavens and I feel like it keeps falling in front of my face.

In the last few days, I actually had a clear calendar.

That, in itself, has been Magical😉.

What it has allowed me to do is to be still.

To feel.

See.

Reflect.

I’m sure the glitter and sparkles are there the whole year, but everything seems to shimmer more brightly during the Holidays.

Don’t you think?

So, I woke up at 3:07 am today….not sure why. But, as I lie awake, trying to fall asleep, a question came to mind.

Why are we all so happy and willing to give so much love this time of year?

Why isn’t everyone smiling, meeting for coffee, helping a stranger, donating food to a local pantry, hosting parties, or calling a loved one “just because ” throughout the year?

How different the world would be, as well as individual lives, if we went the extra mile each and every day.

Can you imagine the lives we could impact?

Here’s where my thoughts turned…

My Grandma, aka, Groom.

The most influential human in my life, to date. She was my world until she passed when I was 11. The Magic of her life was how well she lived it.

She had a massive stroke when I was 4 and lost her ability to speak. She could make noises, but could no longer communicate through words.

What I learned from spending my childhood with her is how to “do”.

She couldn’t tell my family or I how she felt, or how much she loved us, but we knew.

How?

By her acts of love and kindness.

Whenever I needed a hug, she was there.

She spent time with me, but I mean actual time. She was present. Her attention was completely on me.

She baked and made us delicious meals.

And she always, no matter what her health entailed, showed up.

Through her example, she changed many lives, and continues to impact mine❤.

Then, there’s my husband’s Grandpa Charlie.

I only met him a few times. However, I feel like I’ve known him most of my life.

A simple man, he owned his own business as a plumber. He worked long hours to provide for his wife and children and still managed to “show up” and “do” for others.

When we visited Omaha, some years ago, a gal came over to thank him. He repaired some plumbing for her Grandma, even though she couldn’t pay. That’s one of many acts of kindness Charlie handed out.

I have noticed in the reminiscing of his life, through my husband and mother in law, he was also present.

Family vacations, in a time where that was rare. PTA meetings, and he also devoted his time to being a Shriner.

He used to take my husband to work for the day during the summer and teach him his trade.

Those are some of Brian’s most treasured memories. He learned work ethic, the worth of a handshake, and to always do the right thing.

Most of all, he remembers that he gave him his time and shared his talents. Two beautiful gifts money could never buy.

Another life….well lived. Many ripples came from Charlie’s good deeds.

Groom has been gone from this place for almost 33 years. My children, friends, and husband never met her.

Yet, they know her as well as if she came over for dinner every Sunday. I have so many stories, memories and beauty that I have carried with me all these years.

She made a difference in my life.

Grandpa Charlie left us only a few years ago, but his presence in our world has not changed. We speak about him, smile and laugh at memories made.

If only we could live a life so well.

This Christmas Eve morning, and onward, let’s live a life that leaves Magic behind.

Be present.

Be real.

Love hard.

Freely spread kindness.

Love unconditionally.

Oh, and one last thing……

After you read this today, step outside.

Look up to the Heavens, take a deep breath in.

Smile and remember.

Then, do one thing today to celebrate a loved one who has passed away.

Honor them.

Bake a favorite pie, play their favorite Christmas song, or just be as good as they were when they were here.

Spread some Magic, friends.

It is everywhere 💥

Merry Christmas 🎁

Much love,

Linda 🎄

May the flowers remind us why the rain was so necessary 🦋

It’s 6am, on a snowy Wednesday morning…and I am awake, reflecting on this year.

My breath is calm, I’m enjoying a cup of coffee, preparing to head to yoga soon.

All is well.

But as I look back on 2018, most of it was exhausting…..and I now know why.

This past year did not start how I had planned. My planner stated, in blue ink, that January 1st was “Go Time”.

And instead, I became “paralyzed “.

You see, a lot of Life happened this past year. All while I was “planning” on living the way I had pictured.

1. My Dad, who I had a nonexistent relationship with for over a decade, passed away.

It hit me hard.

To the core.

I couldn’t run fast enough from the memories and the pain of what would never be.

2. My body decided to play tricks on me. Being a 40+ year old woman, you can only imagine.

3. My last child grew up, graduated high school, and left home. I was left empty handed, without an ” identity ” of the mother I had been for 24 years.

4. I had a career change.

Humbling, new, and scary.

5……And, most importantly, I lost the life I had so diligently scripted. And, in the “loss”, found who I am meant to be.

I didn’t realize until a few months ago, that the hardships I faced early this year were actually shaping me into the woman I had been praying for.

A healer, a coach, a better wife, friend and mother.

A strong, unshakable human with a laser focused purpose.

I kept getting up and praying each morning.

I’d ask God to “direct my path”, “show me your ways”, and “please help me”.

I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t answer my prayers.

All the while, he was handing the answers to me.

I was so frustrated as I watched countless people find their joy. Their blessings were being handed out like candy at a parade.

And all I could think of is “when is it my turn?”

All the while, God was blessing me too.

Just in a different way than I had imagined.

You see, life is all about perspective.

I get that now.

He was putting me through the trials I needed to endure to prepare me for my specific, beautiful journey.

Not hers… or his…. or theirs……

MINE 🦋.

And I can finally appreciate that.

And now……

I am done sulking about what could have been or how it should have gone down in my mind.

I am an instrument in this worldly band. I need to play loud, be bright and learn to appreciate my own sound.

And, I am. 🦋

I was recently talking to my husband about this past year. We were driving home from a trip and I broke down crying.

I said,” I suffered so much loss this past year”.

I lost my Dad, my daughter, my old job, etc, etc, blah,blah, blahhhhhh😩

He put it into a different perspective.

Look at what you actually “found”.

And, you know what?

He was right.

1. I found my Anxiety Discussion group through the loss of my Dad. In dealing with my own severe bout of debilitating anxiety, I felt a compassion for my Father and the pain he lived with every day. My brother, who I lost to suicide, must have felt it too. I decided I didn’t want anyone else in the world to feel alone in their journey through anxiety. And so “Renovation Station” was born. I “found” beauty in the pain.

2. Through the struggles of my body, I learned about gratitude. We often forget how good we feel when we are healthy. I know I certainly take it for granted. You don’t realize how blessed you are until you can’t do the things you once could. Can’t “be” who you once were because of limitations. I “found” a blessing in the struggle. I no longer complain about “doing” things, working out, being busy, etc….I am blessed beyond measure because I AM ABLE to do these things, while others are not as fortunate. In the midst of the lesson, I decided to start running.

Why????

Because I CAN 🦋

3. And then I became an empty nester…. and then my son broke his leg.

Odd statement….but, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Selfish, maybe, but it also changed him in many ways as well.

I was NEEDED again and He was forced to be still.

I was able to take care of him, get to know him all over again, and be a MOM again.

I believe he learned gratitude, strength, patience and compassion in the midst of his struggle.

The blessing in the setback is that I “found” that I will never lose my identity as a Mother…the job description just changes.

4. My husband and I transitioned to a new company this summer. That was a bigger change than I could have imagined. After being what I considered an “expert” in my field, for many years, I realized I didn’t know everything 😉

I was humbled. What I “found” in the change was my love for lifelong learning. And so I began….asking questions, jumping in with both feet, and embracing new ideas and information.

I KNOW the coming year will be one of my most successful, as my mind is open and the possibilities are endless.

Through the last few months, I continue to have “ah ha”‘moments.

Literally stopping in my tracks and thanking God.

Like, “oh, ok… I get it now.” “That’s why it didn’t work out”. And, “that’s why you changed directions on me”, so on and so forth.

I get it now.

And I plan to Run with it…..

God had a different chapter written for me in 2018. I spent most of it angry, feeling ripped off and bitter.

I remember the day I took back my Power.

And I won’t give it away… ever again.

My faith and trust in God is my Power.

After 44 years, I now TRULY believe that HE has a much more vibrant, extraordinary purpose for me than my human mind could ever imagine.

So, for 2019, I’m going with that❤

Follow by Faith, not by sight.

And as you begin your New Year, may you be reminded WHY the Rain was so necessary.

It is only to Help You GROW🦋

Blessings and much love,

Linda ❤

Be the Light

I’ve had about a week to reflect on my latest adventure and I wanted to share.

About this time last year, I found out my Dad’s cancer was terminal and he was being transferred to hospice. I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in almost a decade, nor my siblings or my mother. The news was hard to hear. My oldest brother was the go between and was keeping me posted and being a true brother. He also had left the family many years ago, like myself. We left to save ourselves and our children/spouses from the madness.

In the midst of the news, my brother and I started to reconnect.

If you follow my blog or my Facebook page, Renovate and Rise, you know my story.

It’s a sad one to start.

Full of trauma, loneliness and struggles.

But the ending, my friends is all about forgiveness and collateral beauty. ❤

Growing up was tough.

It was for my siblings as well.

Our parents were alcoholics and both seemed to have mental illnesses they we’re battling as well.

That’s a catastrophic mix.

Throw 6 children in, toss in financial hardships and add illness and family dynamics and it’s a recipe for Hell.

A Hell we were born into.

As a young girl, I would sometimes get angry with God. I never understood what I did Wrong to deserve such a horrific childhood.

But the beauty in His plan is that He had it all Right.

He knew the reason for it all.

After my Dad’s passing last year, my brother and I continued to communicate.

However, I could sense we both were guarded with one another.

After all, we’d been through a lot with each person in our immediate family.

It was very hard to trust.

But as our relationship grew, I began to see he was the same person each time we talked or texted. Kind, funny and quite similar to me. He loves his wife, lives for his children and still hurts from the past.

One Sunday morning, as we were sending each other photos of our dogs, I felt a pull in my heart.

I randomly texted, “I’m thinking of coming to visit next week, Are you available?”

He said he was and seemed to be excited. We chose a couple days for me to drive down and stay with him and “meet” my family again.

I hadn’t seen my niece and nephew or my brother and his wife since I hosted a family reunion 19 years ago!

Can you imagine the life that had passed, how many days had gone by, and how much we had missed?

But, as I grow in my journey of this thing called Life, I have begun to realize so many things.

I don’t have to be perfect.

It’s God’s timing, not mine.

And the way to the Light is through Love. ❤

So I decided last Tuesday, to follow the light in my heart and see where it took me.

God had put it there, before I was born.

It had been there for 19 years, but I decided to acknowledge it that morning when I was led to develop a relationship with my brother.

I hadn’t been so excited for something in a very long time. It felt like Christmas morning, the euphoria at the end of a race, and the peaceful feeling of a calm morning all at once.

My brother and I went to lunch, he showed me where I was born and where we once lived. He told me stories, about himself and of a time gone by.

It was wonderful.

For one of the first times in my life, I “recognized ” someone! And there was actually someone in this world that could truly “recognize ” me.

What I mean by that, is I never felt like I belonged in my family. Everyday was an “out of body” experience growing up. My parents fought, the siblings didn’t protect one another, but knocked each other down. My family’s actions never made any sense to me. I remember being very young and being so very confused.

My brother felt the same.

As an adult, I even found comfort in wondering if I was adopted.

Through my life, I learned to cope, as survivors do. You Learn to make the best out of any situation.

God placed souls in my life that I could understand and associate with, but it was never the same as having a real family.

Some of my close friends, that have also come from difficult childhoods, have become my siblings. Some of my friends parents, my “adopted” mom and dads.

Again, it’s just not the same.

So, to have this other human, who actually knows what we lived through, knows what we had to overcome, and who is a part of me…. that is a feeling beyond words.

I “recognized ” him.

He is my brother ❤

We caught up on 19 years of life in a short 24 hours.

The beauty was indescribable. Gods presence was everywhere.

To look into my brothers eyes and see my reflection.

To “meet” my grown niece and nephew and their spouses.

My sister in law.

My great nephew.

The life my brother helped create, in spite of it all.

I will carry that with me forever.

I am so incredibly grateful for it all.

All of it.

Every piece of the madness.

Every ounce of pain.

Every late night.

Every struggle.

Every weak moment.

God was there through it all.

Right beside me, guiding me, and molding me into who I am today.

Now to look back, I can see how meticulous He was in crafting me.

I am truly His masterpiece.

And I am so happy I grew up the way that I did, because now I can see the Light.

So much beauty, forgiveness, and understanding had come through my Dad’s passing.

God brought to me this place to open my eyes.

The “chapter ” I was in this past year was not what I had planned, but yet, so much more than I could have ever imagined.

This life is not about the jobs, the cars, money or status.

It’s about the things that you leave behind.

A life well lived, forgiveness, love, and faith.

That’s what I call the Light.

We are all in a “season” at this very moment.

You may be going through a dark winter, or blessed with a vibrant spring.

No matter your “chapter” or “season”, please remember, there’s a bigger picture for it all.

As we embark upon the Holiday season, keep that thought close to heart.

Be the Light.

Light is bright, warm and inviting.

Light signifies hope, happiness and life.

Be the Light.

I plan to.

Thank you, Lord, for blessing me according to YOUR Plan❤

Much love to all ,

Linda❤️

The warm yellow light

People always ask me why I do what I do.

“You give so much, but came from so very little.”

Uh, thanks…I guess?

I think that’s what sets the survivors apart from the victims. The doers from the dreamers and the strong from the weak.

We get it.

We’ve been there and back. To hell, that is.

We know pain.

We know hunger, sadness and loss.

And we don’t ever want another to feel what we had to in order to be who we are.

And that’s why I do what I do.

I recently started an anxiety discussion group in my city.

I had a fair turnout for the first meeting.

My husband respectfully joked that I probably wouldn’t have a large number of attendees, as this is an “anxiety” based group and there may be some with social anxiety that would not be able to make it that night, they’d cancel or just not show. And I needed to prepare for that. It happened that way and I get it.

Believe me…I totally understand.

For the ones who did come out, I explained my reason for this group….my “Why”.

I had a really long winter. It was full of new and old traumas. It was exhausting and dark and difficult.

And, I am so very grateful for it all❤

In the midst of my depression and anxiety, I found beauty. And understanding….Of a time gone by.

My God took me to a new level of empathy for my father and brother, and for those who suffer from these illnesses.

It’s maddening, the anxiety.

I’ve described it to some as though you are being possessed. You can see your strong, calm self in the distance, but just can’t seem to reach her. You know you want to be social and happy and light…but are held down by this huge, defiant hand.

It is a funnel cloud you are swept up in, with no way out.

Believe me, I get it.

And there is hope.

In today’s world, we have so many more resources than our parents, grandparents and older siblings did.

There is yoga, meditation, fitness, nutrition and counseling; just to name a few.

My hope for my group is to educate each person on these areas to alleviate some of the burden of anxiety.

To allow acknowledgement, acceptance and action to take hold over this illness.

What I know is that we are more alike than we are different. We are stronger than we think and more awesome than we believe. And we need to recognize that!

In my lifetime, I watched my father destroy his beautiful family, hold his wife “hostage” from who she was, quit jobs, fall to alcoholism, become isolated, and lose the meaning of life…he actually stopped LIVING.

I never understood. Until this past February.

He was so far gone. So deep in the mud. There was no way out.

He didn’t know he had resources.

You didn’t talk about mental illness in his “day”.

He had to be strong.

And you know what?

Sometimes he couldn’t be.

His sadness expelled as anger and rage.

His fear as withdrawal and isolation.

His anxiety took over who he truly was.

And, I miss him.

I lost a lifetime with my Dad to this demon.

I would get glimpses of him from time to time. I learned of his soft side, when we talked in the middle of the night.

He was a good person, deep inside.

He was struggling and misunderstood, as so many are.

And I want to help people change that.

Anxiety.

It’s a demon.

One of strength and control, that is relentless. And I want that demon to know that I am stronger and more determined than it 🤺

My father lost his battle.

So did my brother, at the age of 36. He, too, suffered anxiety and depression.

His way of coping was with pills and vodka. And when that no longer silenced the “noise”, he took back control the only way he knew how…. by taking his life.

Know this.

You are not alone. You are not alone.

You

Are

Not

Alone.

As real as the symptoms of anxiety are, the remedies and coping strategies are even more real.

I have worked for years to conquer my anxiety and now realize it is a battle that I will fight for the rest of my life.

However, in realizing that, there is power.

In knowing what I have to do to stay healthy and in control, there is even more power.

And in accepting that I am not perfect, there is so…much… power.

Don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Don’t be afraid to share.

To be flawed, real, and vulnerable.

It may help someone❤

I came across this beautiful quote below a couple years ago and it made my heart flutter.

I have been blessed with my experiences, strengthened by my God, and here to serve as a light.

A “warm, yellow light”.

I am here and ready.

Ready to empower others to be “here” too.

Be strong. God’s got you. ❤

Much love,

Linda

The First Day

I just knew I wouldn’t cry.

But, as I go through old photos today, I realize time has gotten away from me. Or so it may seem.

Our youngest moved out for school about a month ago today.

I didn’t cry much at all before the actual day.

I kind of surprised myself, to be honest.

I was strong, kept it together, and moved forward as an empty nester.

I knew to stay busy right off the bat.

I dove into my workouts, agreed to do a local dance event, and even started prepping to run a discussion group. Real estate is busy, my husband and I have been traveling, having a cocktail on a Sunday afternoon, and after all these years….sleeping in.

Life is good.

God is good.

So why the tears today?

Well, at breakfast this morning, I realized that we had taken the last “First day of school” photos about one year ago today.

Why that brought me to tears, I don’t know.

It’s just a picture, on my phone…that I posted on Facebook…and sent to family and friends… a few times.

Well, clearly, it was much more than that ❤

It was a moment.

And all at once, I felt something stir inside.

It’s a time that we can’t have again.

A time of innocence that can never return to the front entry way of our home.

I always enjoyed my children’s first day of school.

For so many reasons……

When the kids were young, I was the Mom who wanted them to have the most memorable “first day” every year.

From “Welcome Home” signs and balloons, elaborate breakfasts, and the first day of school cards and gifts(which they all got again this year), and probably will forever😉, I did it all.

I felt so very blessed to be able to watch every new year unfold.

To be there for the skinned knees, listening to them read at night, the proms, girlfriends, sports…and just to see it all.

I sometimes think I gave them those memories because I had wanted something similar to that growing up. And I can only hope it meant as much to them as it did to me.

The past month has been a whirlwind for me. In every sense of the word.

But, I realized in the quiet of today, that I am feeling and learning things about myself that have been dormant for a long time.

It’s quite inspiring, actually.

As I continue to move toward this new chapter, I have to keep reminding my heart to keep up.

My body and mind are going toward the new adventures and learning about the young adults they have become, but my heart so desperately wants the little curly haired boy and the little girl with the bouncy pony tails to walk through the door one(or two) more times.😉

But, as life goes on, we must adjust and grow.

And growing is one of my very favorite things to do!

I’ll keep the old photos close, the memories even closer.

And, as my children grow, I realize I’ll just have to adjust the lens and keep creating new snapshots to smile, laugh and cry over.

I’m finding joy in the accomplishment of raising 4 wonderful humans. Finding satisfaction in their successes and their strengths. And hoping that maybe I had a small part in it.

So, tomorrow morning, I’ll work out. I’ll make breakfast, kiss my husband, and go on with my day.

And, maybe for a moment, I’ll pause and remember all those amazing “first days”.

Tomorrow may not be another “first day” of school in my house, but it is definitely another First Day.

Another chance to live, to enjoy and to make more memories.

Life.

It’s so….

Full of possibilities.

Full of gratitude.

Full of love.

To my babies, “Thanks for the memories, the “awful” school supply shopping days, the mornings of packing lunches, the warm cookies, the times I walked you home from the bus”.

Those were the days.

Some of the best days(so far) of my entire life. 💕

And to begin again?

What a beautiful blessing from above.

Now… onto taking the photos of my daughter teaching, my son’s, who work so hard, and my youngest becoming an adult.

I

Can’t

Wait.

To capture it all!!!

With age and time, wisdom does step in.

I know now what I didn’t know then.

Be ever present and take every moment in, like it’s your last breath.

Because after the moments pass, all we have is a snapshot of a memory. ❤

Here’s to new beginnings for so many tomorrow and always.

Much love,

Linda 🦋

Just a moment🦋

Today feels like any other day.

Woke up, drank my coffee, and thought about what to have for Sunday breakfast.

My husband and I will probably enjoy our usual Sunday routine; relax, have our business meeting(we are partners in real estate), meal prep, and if it doesn’t rain, take a motorcycle ride to get ice cream!

I truly do love my life. I have seen darkness and hard times, so believe me when I say, I know how blessed I am.

This Sunday, is anything but ordinary.

Yesterday, we moved our last baby to her new apartment. Our little peanut left the nest.

Now, what?

I had never really thought much about this day. I was too busy raising my 4 children, at one time, all under the age of 6! In those early years, I barely had time to eat or take a bathroom break….much less think about the next 18+ years.

But, after our son left for school last fall, I knew my time as a full time mama was drawing to a close.

I have been a mom since the early age of 20. I’m now 44.

24 years!

My entire adulthood has been encircled my babies. From diapers to driving. Proms, bonfires, step throat, boyfriends, girlfriends, and of course teenage drama….I’ve done it all.

Now I must take time to remember who I truly am once again. Take time to care for “me”.

That should be interesting.

Time to reinvent.

I didn’t really “freak out” until she and her girlfriend took a few things over to the apartment early on Friday night. I was doing my hair and the reality of what was happening struck me. It actually brought me to my knees on the bathroom floor. Of course my dog was there to lick my tears and let me cry. And my mother in law took my call, which was just me…sobbing.

I wanted to stop her from leaving. I wanted my old life back.

However, I know life must go on.

As I have been reflecting, I recently realized, it all happened in a moment.

Like, literally, A MOMENT.

A flash of lightning in the night sky.

And just like that, the 4 souls that God gifted to me have grown up.

A friend told me a quote recently that really hit home. “Our children are not ours, but are gifts lent to us by God. Our job is to help them to learn to fly”.

I feel incredibly blessed that God chose me to be their mom. And, I have to say I am pretty damn proud of who they have become.

Caring, hard working, generous, respectful individuals who know their worth.

They have all flown and done well transitioning into adult life. And I’ve done pretty well adjusting too.

I see the older three each week. I have my running buddy, coffee date, and my personal shopper.

It seems you have to “navigate” your way as a mom when they leave home. Kind of find your new relationship with each of them, as they have grown and changed, but so have you.

It works out nicely for the most part.

But, still, here I sit, logically knowing this, while tears well up on my cheeks.

I think it must be normal to feel the emotions that are trudging through my heart. Panic…what will I do when? Who will I take care of? And all the what ifs.

Sadness…realizing that time of childhood is over. Rushing through memories to make sure I burn them into my mind. And wishing(kind of) to have it all go back to the way it once was.

But, then, I look to the future. And I feel excitement. We can travel, go out as late as we want(that would be 10pm for us), make dinner for 2!, and maybe I can get away with doing laundry once or twice a week?!?

Haha. I know it’ll all be ok.

Gods got it.

And it is such a gift. I was able to be present, be near and there for this beautiful journey.

To watch a soul come into the world and take their first breath is extraordinary. But to be able to nurture them and stand back to watch them blossom has been one of the most miraculous experiences of my entire life. That may sound dramatic, but I don’t care. It is, oh, so true.

And now that last little “birdie” has flown, what do I do?

Well, luckily, my husband had been preparing us for this day for years. We have already planned more travel adventures, we’ll continue to take cycle trips, dive further into our business, and I plan to continue to enjoy all that this life has to offer. Hobbies are such an important part of finding your identity again. Mine happen to be healthy ones, crossfit and yoga. I may, however, need to take up retail therapy again….. just to ease the pain😉

With all of my blogs, and in all that I share, I hope this helps the other “empty nesters” out there.

We did it!

We raised our children to be strong and confident enough to go out and change the world.

Parenting, Phase 1…..complete ✔️

Now onto the fun stuff….phase 2, 3 and ???

“Enjoy the little things, because one day you will wake up and realize those were really the big things.”

Much love,

Linda ❤

It’s OK.

As I sit here this morning, gently waking from a beautiful night of rest, I feel the urge to tell you my story.

I’m nervous inside, wondering…”what will they think?”, “how will they view me?”.

Then, I decided, I don’t really care.

I just know there must be someone out there just like me and I want to help them. Sometimes, just knowing you are not alone makes all the difference in the world.

I’m a mother of 4, a loving wife, a devoted friend, have a successful career. I’m fit, appear flawless when you approach me, and wear a smile, even on the darkest of days.

But, here’s what you don’t see…. I have Anxiety.

And that makes me different.

I often tell my husband that he doesn’t understand because he isn’t like me. When he has asked what that meant, I tried to explain.

After conversing with many close friends, I have found that life for others is not what I know. It’s unfamiliar territory.

Your “normal” is not mine.

And that is OK 👌🏻.

You see, I don’t wake up feeling refreshed most days. I wake up with my heart racing, feeling fear…and sometimes dread. I go through my day pulling back “curtains”, moving scary thoughts and blocks out of my way. My mind doesn’t stop, unless I am working out, getting a massage or sleeping.

I’m not like you.

And that is OK 👌🏻.

I’m finding that so many of us suffer from things unseen. By that, I mean, we work with someone who “looks” healthy, only to find they have an autoimmune disorder and are in terrible pain. We may have a friend who “appears” healthy, only to find they need surgery. Or, if you are like me, you may look put together, but many times a day, it’s like there is glass shattering inside of you.

After much research, education and self analysis, I have come to the conclusion that Anxiety, too, is an illness.

It isn’t something that can be ignored.

Anxiety is tricky, however, and symptoms come and go. We may begin to feel better, so we stop our healthy protocol and slack off on our daily doses of coping mechanisms….and 💥poof💥….the symptoms return.

It’s no different than having diabetes or high blood pressure and stopping your medication. The result? Symptoms return and you feel like garbage again.

This winter, I was made aware of this. My anxiety came back with a vengeance.

As I was struggling through it, I felt as it was gathering strength and would certainly destroy me. I was living inside of a tornado I could not escape. I was watching my beautiful life swirling around me, but just couldn’t be a part of it.

And , then one afternoon, I jumped out.

Out of the tornado.

I took back control.

I had gotten a glimpse of what my Dad and Brother may have lived with. Maybe how their daily lives felt.

Constant fear, unwarranted health concerns(hypochondria),deep sadness, and isolation.

And let me just say, I did not like it.

As a child, I could never understand why my Dad “had” to drink everyday. Until I had a gin and soda….and finally felt some relief.

I never fully understood why my Brother took his own life, but I can now sympathize with his battles.

They both suffered from SEVERE anxiety. But, unfortunately, they were never able to take back control of it.

They didn’t have the ability or knowledge to work out, seek cognitive therapy, have a strong, understanding support system, or maybe have the energy to fight it daily.

And, that saddens me.

I definitely have a heightened understanding of their lives and my level of empathy for them has increased significantly.

Keep in mind, Anxiety can be hereditary. Anxiety can also transpire into other illnesses. Such as depression and OCD, just to name a couple.

And the anxiety?

Well, it most definitely came to find me.

However, in the midst of my winter tornado, I was able to see just how blessed my life is.

Blessed…Beyond words.

I am a firm believer that Jesus puts the most perfect souls in our life to guide us through this world.

My husband, with his psychology background, some of my best friends; who struggle with similar demons, and my family.

I have an army ready to listen and “protect ” me at all times. And, for that, I am so very grateful.

Through our education about anxiety , our realization of its potential inheritance to any one of them, and their understanding of me, we have a system in place.

But, I also have to put in daily work to stay level and strong. When I do, the anxiety stays silent.

I’m more of a natural type of person. Medication, Doctors ….not really my jam. I seek the advice of my chiropractor often and choose more neutral ways to treat my condition.

But, it isn’t for everyone. It takes more time and much discipline. In all, I think it’s worth it.

Through the years, I have learned what works for me. I must eat clean(avoiding dairy, sugars and most grains), I rarely drink alcohol, I have to work out(at least 3-4 times/week), I pray and meditate daily, and I spend time alone when I need to “shut down”.

If you read my previous blogs, you will see that this winter was very traumatic for me. I didn’t realize how negatively my family affected me until recently, as I still have been battling the after effects to some degree.

The reason I am sharing this is for the sole purpose of awareness.

I scroll the Facebook newsfeed and read how society is in shock because Kate Spade committed suicide. We were all taken back by learning of Robin Williams struggles. They seemed to have it all. Happy, beautiful, put together…right? And, what about the people we come in contact with every single day?!

Our friends, coworkers, children…..the ones who “seem” to be in control.

Are they?…..

Or are they silently suffering from anxiety, depression or some other illness?

With social media use at an all time high, have we, as a society, forgotten how to physically communicate?

There is a NEED for coffee dates, for 60 second hugs, for bike rides with friends, picnics in the park, and putting the cell phone and snap chat AWAY!

Ask YOUR people how they are.

How they TRULY are.

I will be honest and say that on some of my darkest days this winter, I may have replied to texts with a winky face😉and maybe even…an exclamation point…or two.

I must have been happy and on top of things, right?

We can’t possibly see how our loved ones are doing through a phone. So, get out there and be present. It may save someone’s life. ❤

And once again, I have found that there is collateral beauty that follows the chaos.

I am more aware and more open to others and their potential struggles. I am a more empathetic and sympathetic human.

And most importantly, I realized that I am OK, just the way that I am and it is going to be OK 🦋

We are where we are supposed to be at this very moment. Going through this precious life, learning and growing. It is our classroom.

If you are struggling, reach out. Don’t hide your truth from your loved ones.

Seek support.

Talk about it.

Be REAL.

Remember, friends, we must FEEL in order to HEAL.

Many blessings.

Much love,

Linda 💕

Time to Fly

I still remember when I found out I was pregnant with her, at the age of 26. I recall thinking, “Wow, I’ll be 43 when she graduates high school!” That seemed so old, and so very far away……

I write this today with so much gratitude. Gratitude for time.

I have watched my 4 beautiful children emerge into adults. And, it has been, without a doubt, one of the most amazing events my eyes have seen.

My youngest daughter is just a few days away from walking across the stage to receive her high school diploma and all the while, these words circle my mind, “Where did the time go?”

I remember calling my mom when the kids were all very small. 4 children, under the age of 6 was a lot. I remember a specific conversation with her. I called her crying, exhausted, and feeling defeated. I just couldn’t keep up anymore. The laundry was never ending, the diapers, the crying, etc. She calmly said, “Enjoy every moment because you will BLINK and they will be gone”. I remember thinking she was crazy. At that moment, I could only dream about having a quiet moment to myself.

But, she was 100% correct.

The years flew.

In reflecting, I find, that we “scream” through our years. Like a freight train, rushing to get somewhere, but barely staying on the tracks.

The soccer games, volleyball tournaments, dance recitals, softball, track, cross country, dinner, homework, laundry, jobs, and …..POOF💥

You wake up one morning and realize you JUST packed her the very last school lunch. You will watch her walk out the door for school one last time. And she GREW up, right before your very eyes.

I BLINKED.

There isn’t much I would do differently, nothing I would change. However, if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t spend time doing dishes or laundry. I’d sit and read them that book. I’d run outside with them in the rain. Because that’s what they’ll remember the most.

As my youngest child embarks on her new adventures and her new found freedom, I, too, will begin again.

The term “empty nester” isn’t as scary anymore. I like to think of myself as a “graduate” instead. I completed course 1 in motherhood. And I cannot wait to start the 2nd phase.

I’ve learned, as the others have grown into adults, there is another level to motherhood. They still need me, but in different ways. We still make memories, just new ones. And phase 2 involves a lot less diapers and laundry!

As the memories flood through my head the next few days, I will be thankful.

43 is here. And my prayers, all these years have been answered. I was blessed to be a part of this journey. To be an integral part in 4 souls blossoming into adults.

And if I did my job well, they will fly.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Charlotte’s Web”? There’s the original version where Charlotte’s babies have “hatched”. Apparently, some spiders fly off when they are born. There is this part where her babies are flying away and she is not ready. She calls to them, “Wait, I didn’t get to say goodbye, I’m not ready”.

That’s this phase. 1.5😉

In a few days, ready or not, my daughter will begin her flight.

And unlike the spiders, never returning home, I will see her many more times.

She is ready. And so am I.

Just like I’ve always told her, “Your wings are ready, all you have to do is FLY”.

Congratulations, baby girl!🎓

We are so very proud of you❤

And for all the mamas out there, be thankful. Be blessed. Be exhausted, excited, and a mess. It’s ok.

Celebrate each minute, day and year…because each moment will pass quickly. This, I know.

God has given us a miracle every day…..Our children.

I have 4 miracles in my life.

It has been, and will continue to be…

MY GREATEST JOY💕

Celebrate the moments!

Much love,

Linda❤

Pull back the curtain

Yes it’s 5am on a Thursday morning.

And yes, I am awake.

My day has begun.

For that, I am grateful.

I woke up this morning, before my alarm. My plan was to head to the gym.

But,my heart was pulling me to this.

I went to bed last night with an odd thought.

“Pull back the curtain”.

👌🏻 okay then. Must have been thinking of when I performed in musicals or “hoping ” to see one?

“Pull back the curtain”.

“I don’t know. Guess I’ll sleep for now”.

I’m a big believer that as we develop a closer relationship with our God, the Universe, or whatever your belief may be, we start to “hear” again.

And, I think that particular phrase was meant for me.

As I shared last week, the last few months have been ones of transition for me, to say the least.

My Dad passed away, I had some unexpected setbacks, health concerns, and fought with anxiety once again. Through my faith, support systems, and the stubborn Norwegian blood that runs through my veins, I got back up…again.

You know, life really is a roller coaster. It can be quite a ride, don’t you agree?

As I have been “waking up” the last month or so, reflecting and self analyzing (as I often do), I realized so many other priceless lessons came from the uncertainty and unplanned “events” this winter.

I met a friend for coffee, earlier this week.

In our area, we just had a historic April snowstorm.

I was saying how crazy it was and how I just needed winter to end. Ugh 😑.

Be done already! Go away snow and ice!

Pleeeease !!!

His perspective was a bit different and it got the wheels turning.

What if this is how it was meant to be?

What if there were so many others that needed the stillness, maybe the lesson of patience was taught… or the gentle reminder of how little we can control?

What if the timing of the seasons was just right? Maybe spring hadn’t been “delayed”, maybe winter wasn’t lagging on, just maybe.

What if?

This never ending winter caused me to look deep…. and some days, “dig deep”.

I learned to appreciate the warmer, sunny days. My phone and social media went as silent as it could, so I could be immersed in the moments of spring. Because “what if” it was the only nice day for a long time?

It makes you stop and think about all sorts of things. “Could that be the last time I see him/her?” “What if that was not possible any longer?” “What if I couldn’t do those things?”

If it was your “last”——(fill in the blank)….maybe you would appreciate each gift a little bit more. I know I would.

I learned “presence and gratitude “.

I was forced to realize “it is what it is”, as the snow continued to fall.

I had to find the warmth and beauty in other areas of my life.

I yearned for the sunshine and the excitement of the buds on the trees. I wished for it to be like it was years ago. 2 years ago, I was walking my dog with shorts on!

But that isn’t today.

I have to enjoy today and hope for tomorrow. It was a reminder of faith. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain do what we cannot see”.

Spring will come again. That I do believe.

So with that, I was reminded to “trust and have faith “.

Beautiful reminders. And for those, I am grateful.

However, one lesson did catch me off guard.

I was blessed with the down time to examine ME. My inner workings. What makes me tick, happy, passionate, and Alive.

And my findings were quite interesting.

I thought I was living out loud. I was pretty sure I was giving 110%. But, when I “pulled back the curtain” to my life, I can now see that I have just been waiting offstage.

I made a decision to be the true, raw, real, open ME.

The ME that walks out on the stage and grabs life by the horns (or balls)…whatever slang you prefer😉.

The ME who grabs my family and friends for a second hug, just because.

The ME who dances around the kitchen and plays air guitar to Panama, by Van Halen.

The ME who is honest and blunt.

The ME who survived and feels compelled to heal.

The ME He has deigned me to be.

What I’m trying to say is this…

This winter, in my stillness, I realized I have been waiting BEHIND the curtain. Knees shaking, nervous and afraid. Of what? I’m not sure.

In the core of my soul, that is not who I am or was destined to be. And I was reminded, once again, that this is the only “performance” there will ever be.

So, as frightening and exhilarating and crazy as it may seem…….I have PULLED BACK THE CURTAIN…..and taken on the lifelong LEADING role…. as the ONE and ONLY “ME”.

And, I also decided I kind of liked this winter, after all.

Underneath all the cold, the gray skies and snow…something was blossoming. Fighting hard to survive, pushing with all her might to break through.

It was ME💜

SO………..

Who’s ready to audition?

Pull back the curtain?

Be the Star ⭐️ of your own life again?

Be free, be bold, be who you are designed to be?!

Let’s do it, friends.

Today, show up as the TRUE YOU, cuz I’m showin’ up as ME🎉

Much love,

Linda 🦋