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 🦋

The never ending winter

“How could I Make you so small when you’re the ONE who holds it ALL?

“When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the World?”

Such a powerful song by Natalie Grant.

King of the World.

Came across this song on a February day and it paralyzed me.

It was the message I had been thirsting for. The answer to a prayer.

And He brought it to me.

And because of this song, His Grace, and the stillness that I was “forced” into, over the course of this winter, I must share.

I’ve been away. And I missed this life.

But, I had to leave for awhile and truly feel…and heal. He knew what was best for me.

I missed the 5am workouts, the hustle and bustle of my career, the laughter of friends…I missed my life. Unknown to me at the time, I had to step away.

They say you don’t truly appreciate something until it is taken away from you. I now believe that is true.

You may wonder what happened? Was it a cancer scare? A life altering event? What?

None of the above, my friends.

It was a wisdom tooth.

I could go back to early December and tell you how my siblings contacted me to tell me my Dad was dying. I could share how aggressive and evil they were. I could share how my Dad was in hospice care,only 5 minutes from my home, and my Mom and Sister kept that from my children and I. I could tell you he passed on the last day on 2017….and we never had the chance to say goodbye.

But, I’ll save that for another time because… “I’m over it”, “I’m over the grief”, “I have moved on with my life” and “it doesn’t hurt anymore”.

Well, that’s what I thought anyway.

I was reminded of my pain when my jaw started to “bang”.

As I reflect on life, I continue to see.

Like, actually SEE how God’s best masterpieces are molded in the darkness.

This February, He began reshaping me.

I really struggled with the passing of my Dad. I truly didn’t know how to grieve for the “loss”of him.

All the kind messages, cards and people reaching out. I imagined that in another’s world, it would be a horrific tragedy.

To lose your role model in life, your “first love”, your Daddy.

But I didn’t have any of those feelings or really even a Dad.

So…How do you cry for a man who caused you so much pain? I didn’t have a lot of memories to hold onto. No special gifts, only a handful of photos, not even a card signed in his handwriting.

My husband, children, even very close friends…didn’t know how to comfort me. They didn’t know what to do or say. And, I didn’t know what to tell them.

Because, for almost a decade, I had boasted “when He dies someday, it won’t affect me”…he had been absent most of my childhood…and I had walked away. I believed all if my “self talk”, until the winter came…and stayed.

I pushed through my busy, upbeat life. Giving myself a week of “down” time. I ached for things to go back to normal.

With no funeral or service planned, I had to do something for closure.

I submitted an obituary. My children, husband and I held a small service for my Dad. We lit paper lanterns and had root beer floats(his favorite treat),and I even made a playlist.

All the songs I once dreaded singing to…were all I had left to hold onto.

I’ve realized that the grief that I choked down would eventually Rise out of me, but I figured it would be little by little. And over time…in my time… when it was convenient and planned. But, I was reminded that I am NOT in control… in a most unexpected way.

My wisdom tooth stopped me in my tracks that ordinary Monday.

Now, some may say I am “reaching” with how it all went down. Some would say it was nothing. Others wouldn’t react the way that I did. Some may say I could turn my events into anything I wanted. It may have been just a wisdom tooth, but to me, it was an awakening.

I’ll tell you this…. you didn’t pray my specific prayers. You didn’t sit in the stillness. You didn’t feel and grow and cry and heal with me. You can’t ever “see” what I was shown.

It was all for a reason.

I will always believe 💕

Long story short……

God took back control.

Id like to think He’d been letting me hold the reins for the past year or so.

In my small world, I had life licked.

4am wake up, structured day, happy life, healthy, secure… and all is well. Pretty easy to be positive and strong when everything is going right.

But, I think He wanted me to sit with Him for awhile. So, He flipped the table over and all the dishes, cups, and “structures” came crashing down. At first, I was angry with Him for making a mess out of my perfectly planned little life.

I had forgotten how far I had come. I had been lacking appreciation for the small things. I had been fooling myself, thinking I was “strong enough” on my own.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I pray daily.

I trust, I rely, I worship.

Or do I?

I was awakened.

I started feeling like I was coming down with something during a Friday morning workout. My jaw hurt, I was having trouble working out, and had chills. I told myself I was probably getting the flu everyone had.

I decided to take it slow the rest of the day and laid low all weekend. By Sunday, I accepted that maybe I had an infected tooth. Called the dentist Monday and went in to see what was up. Something small, I’m sure.

I’ll be back at it tomorrow.

But God had a different plan.

I had a severe infection due to a wisdom tooth and needed it out asap. It was very bad, almost dangerous. Well, that would explain the way I felt.

If you’ve ever seen Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll know this…

“Trauma 1”.

For me, it has a bit of a different meaning. My anxiety went through the roof and I was in full blown emergency mode. I probably should have been put in a trauma room 😉

Because of childhood events, many unexpected things present themselves in very dramatic ways for me.

Most people can “deal” with inconvenient events. I usually can as well. Frustrated to have to put my schedule on hold, an unplanned expense, right? I wish.

This “unexpected ” event became a big one.

But, bigger and more aggressive than it should have been. And I now realize it was so I would be still.

I had the wisdom tooth surgery in early February and recovered quite quickly. In any “normal” circumstance, I should have been back at it. I was cleared for the gym, physically healthy, looked good, pain free. But, I just couldn’t get past something.

At first I thought it was anxiety. I practiced yoga, walked the dog, did meditation, and prayed.

I just felt heavy.

I couldn’t seem to keep my appointments with friends. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to see anyone. And I had forgotten all that I had in front of me. The grief that I had been hiding from had come to sit with me.

And I felt like it wasn’t just sitting with me, but it was holding me down.

I learned, many years ago, that in order to release an emotion, you must acknowledge it and literally SIT with it.

Feel it, breathe it in.

Once you have acknowledged and released it, it no longer has power over you.

All of these years, all the work I had put into myself and my healing.

I had forgotten the most important rule.

“What you resist will persist “.

So God took my life back.

He used my wisdom tooth to quiet me. When I fought that and tried to run, He brought my anxiety in.

When I thought I was more powerful than that, He brought me to Grief.

And there I sat…..in the middle of this gray, cold winter ❄️

Pissed off because I was missing out.

Mad as hell because I wasn’t “on vacation”, wasn’t busy, couldn’t, would never….it’s not fair!!!!!!!

And then, I turned on Spotify.

I felt like someone slapped me in the face.

“When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the World?”

I was speechless. The tears of relief and release came. Why was I carrying this heavy load?

He wants to care for me. He wants to take my burdens away.

He’s got it under control.

At that moment, a light switch went on!

He silenced me in order to hold me….and heal me.

Perfectly. Precisely. With His unconditional, unimaginable LOVE ❤️.

In the silent moments, He reminded me of memories I had long forgotten of my Dad.

He showed me how much my Dad loved me(in the ways he knew how).

And through my pain, depression, and severe anxiety…..allowed me to feel empathy for my Dads struggles.

I “felt” and could finally understand my Father’s life long pain. I felt sadness, compassion for my Dad, and a new form of peace I had not felt before.

There is beauty in the release.

I cried for my Dad, because of him, and for the future there will never be. I let it all go and accepted that he will always be with me and a will be a part of me. And I made a promise to myself to celebrate that intricate piece of me. I’ll sing loud, Dad. I’ll dance when I’m happy. And I’ll alway toast you when I drink a root beer float and..probably….cry a little bit, too when I see a shooting ⭐️ star.

There is peace in the passing.

Through forgiveness, I can only see the good memories now. I can remember that day we sat outside, drinking fresh lemonade. I can feel his hand holding mine, while we searched for the constellations in the summer sky.

And I would never be, could have never known, and now can be….all He has planned for me, because of this time. And for that, I am grateful.

To say that I am HERE…. would be an understatement.

To say that I can finally SEE the gratitude in the morning.

To feel the warmth of my loved ones hands.

The simplicity of the laughter.

The humor in this “never ending” winter…..❄️

This was not the way I had “planned” for the last couple of months to go.

But, I now believe, more than I ever have…that God’s plans are always so much better than mine.

There’ll be more to come, friends.

For today, love, live and look up.

And don’t forget WHO is in control 😉

I hope this offers you peace, empathy for others, and the strength to share ☀️

Much love,

Linda🦋

25 days

Well, hello.

“Welcome back”.

Maybe that’s what my readers should be saying to me. I have been “absent” from my days and I am finally back.

It has been a long ass Month. Let me tell you.

I mean, I had my goals written down, my schedule prepped for the weeks ahead and a fool proof gameplan for unstoppable success.

And then, life took back control. And I had to remember “who” was really in charge.

You know, you think you can prepare yourself. You think all the physical and mental work will be at your beck and call.

Then, your heart gets in the way and screws it all up. Let’s just say, I knew I had to grieve.

We don’t get back to our Power without first going through the PAIN.

I felt it.

And I learned some life lessons along the way. Remember, every ounce of struggle is an opportunity to grow.

I felt the call to write about the past 25 days or so and share some lessons , well, about this thing we refer to as LIFE.

In 25 days, I was reminded of it’s fragility. Of it’s uncertainty and just how very precious it truly is.

All from some very unrelated subjects and people.

We seem to move through each day flawlessly. The minutes and hours blend into days, routines, developed schedules and months. And for whatever reason, time flies by, but yet…there never seems to be enough.

I often hear(and use) the phrase,” I can’t make it, we are so busy”, or “let’s make a plan” (6 weeks out). Well, with what I have learned and have been awakened to in the last 25 days….I will be making every effort to live life NOW.

My husband’s family has been traveling to Door County for an extended Christmas vacation for many years now. This year was no different. Same cabin, same games, amazing memories, loving life, and family.

A few weeks before the holidays, I was contacted by one of my siblings, letting me know my Dad was not well and he was placed in hospice care. My father and I have not spoken or seen one another for almost 8 years due to many previous and recurring toxic events. I distanced myself to save myself and break the vicious cycle. I always thought that the day I would “get the news” of my parents passing or being ill, it wouldn’t affect me, as I hadn’t seen them in so many years.

Boy, was I wrong.

It knocked me on my ass.

I didn’t realize that all of the years we had missed would hit me so hard. So much time had been wasted, and now, that time was quickly running out.

My first reaction, as you can imagine, was panic. “What do I do?” “Do I go see him and say my goodbyes?”

But, in the quiet Moments of prayer, I realized, I had done so many years prior.

It’s a long, chaotic story of the how’s and whys, but just keep this part tucked away for now.

In the midst of hearing the news about my Dad, my oldest daughter had reached out to my Mom and sister to find out where he was. They wouldn’t tell her. In their cyclone of anger, they took away the opportunity for my daughter to see her Grandpa, maybe for the last time.

We moved past it, as we do. And accepted things for what they were.

My oldest son said it best. He said,”why don’t you just wait to see Grandpa on the other side someday?” That calmed us and brought peace back into our hearts.

The tables turned on us, however, when we found out that he was in the hospital in our city. My Mom and sister took away our right to visit him….and he was only minutes away!

Once we found that out, my daughter and I decided we would go visit him after the First of the year, when we had returned from vacation.

But, God had a different plan in place.

As we were leaving the area to head home, we got the call. My Dad passed away on December 31st. Time had run out.

That was Lesson #1.

Upon grieving and working through this beautiful, chaotic, confusing mess of grief, I learned that some former clients of mine were about to go “into battle”.

I am a Realtor. That in itself should say it all. I am a Mom, Counselor, Educator, Trusted Advisor, Advocate and ultimately…..Friend. I go through a huge life changing event with each person and we bond. To say that this couple was any different, would be untrue.

When I met them, they were this beautiful, young couple; set to be married, excited about their new journey.

That was Only 3 years ago.

And now, the young husband learns he has cancer, after an emergency room visit one night. They had also found out they were expecting.

I wish I could tell you the story had a happy ending…..he lost his battle with cancer just the other day and their baby also passed away. Tragedy. Unimaginable loss.

Now, she is left with a life…..changed in moments… and turned upside down. It all happened….within a moment.

That was Lesson #2

Then, on a completely separate note, I didn’t “show up” for my assignment last week.

If you have read “The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabby Bernstein, you’ll know what I mean. If not, let me explain.

The “universe”, God, your creator…whatever you may believe, invites you, opens doors for you, shows you who you are created to be, need to be, and CAN be. We, as humans, tend to be blind and sometimes, ignore the signs.

My definition of “blind” is afraid, weak, fearful. Those emotions and LOVE cannot coexist.

I didn’t show up for an opportunity and freaked out when I thought it was missed.

Luckily, it wasn’t. I was open enough to “see” it and grab on in a different way. In this instance, there was still “time”.

This was Lesson #3.

So many lessons, so much education, in so little time. Just 25 DAYS!

That’s where I have been, friends.

Rerouted. Still. Receiving. Healing. Grateful.

However,

Lesson #1, showed me that I have FORGIVEN my Father and released my past completely and fully. I have found so much collateral beauty after his passing. He is finally at rest.

A new relationship with my oldest brother, a confirmation of “why” I had the childhood I did, and the knowledge that my Dad and I loved one another. Funny how the things I once despised(country music songs we used to sing) have brought me comfort and joy.

Beautiful, precious release.

And, absolute PEACE.

I couldn’t understand it all when I was young. But, it has been shown to me now. It was all for a reason. That reason, was NOW.

My journey through my past led me to seek out a way to help others “like me”. I signed up for a coaching class last August and received my Certification this November, just days before I received the news of my Dad’s condition. And, I knew it was time.

Not only will I continue to be a FULL time Realtor, but I have decided to share my gift of healing with others. My mission is to heal adults from childhood trauma, with my experience and knowledge. To Renovate others from the inside out, so they, too, may Rise. 🦋

And, the beauty is that this GIFT would not be a part of me without the climb I had to take to be who I am today.

And I am thankful for the journey.

And Lesson #2….

My client’s journey revealed to me how very precious our time here is. And how unpredictable each minute, hour, day can…and will be.

It reminded me to grab each opportunity, loved one, friend, moment. And to not be AFRAID. To love big, crazy, and without regard. So look out friends and family!💋

And to be PRESENT….more than ever before. Because the “What ifs” encircled my head and the “How would I handle this” hammered at my heart.

I will be HERE, NOW, in THIS moment….so if this is the last MOMENT , I will have lived it well💜

And Lesson #3…

Well, I learned that I need to get out of my own way. My husband will smile at that. He’s been telling me that phrase for YEARS. And, I finally understand what it really means in my world.

So, I’m back💥💥💥

In all sorts of amazing, enlightened ways.

My empathy, compassion and true understanding for others has been amplified. And my quest for my BEST SELF and fulfillment of my ULTIMATE PURPOSE solidified.

I’m starting the NEW YEAR today, January 24, 2018….and I know that is ok.

It took 25 days of being knocked down, caught off guard, carried back to gratitude and healing, to get me to the top of my mountain.

I’m back on top…..and the view???? It is BREATHTAKING ☀️☀️☀️

Stay tuned.

As I sometimes say, “Shit’s about to get real”

My eyes are open, my running shoes are on and I am ready to MOVE✅

See the beauty in it all. The struggle. The pain.

“No more sadness, no more pain. Only peace and love remain “❤

Thanks for all the lessons….I “get it” now.

Much love,

Linda 💜