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I didn’t realize when I pulled out of my driveway last Saturday to take Luke to Stanford that the trip up I5 was going to be a tour of the last 25 years of my life.  Given that I didn’t let it sink in until maybe 24 hours before that he was actually going to make it to campus, to an actual college dorm room, with a roommate, I certainly didn’t think about how I felt about getting him there. This hasn’t exactly been your typical college send off, so different than taking Lauren last year. The experience was a beautiful win all the way around though, from the conversation and excitement in the car, the 80’s music that Luke has on his Spotify,  to the way my mind traveled down memory lane without any tears, because I felt such gratitude for the life that I have experienced, the things it has produced, the strength I have gained through the challenges, and for the anticipation of what is yet to come. So many exits along that vast expanse of California mean something to me. They are the experiences and relationships that make me who I am…connected and yet different than anyone else.  I was born to grow and be transplanted in many different soils so I could learn to thrive in all of them…I wouldn’t trade country music, beach volleyball, or the opportunities all of these places have provided for my kids for any other path.

People often comment that the journey up I5 is boring, that vast, flat expanse of unpopulated land does tend to stretch on for awhile, but it takes me back to simpler times.  Getting mountain bikes or trucks stuck in the sticky clay mud, kitchens where dinner was being prepared but the cook still had to haul water in from an outside well to fill the tank in the house, and wondering if cotton would be knee high by the 4th of July.  No joke, that was 1997 for me, and just a short decade later, I had been to DC, London, and Paris, dined in some of the world’s finest restaurants, and brought four kids into the world. Life changes, but if we pay attention, the things we want to bring with us become part of our own soil - the dirt under our feet that grounds us.  

Arriving at Stanford with Luke, I realized it had been 24 years to the month that we moved in to married student housing. It felt like some crazy figment of my imagination, I was 22 years old and six months out of college.  In all these years, I never internalized any thought that I would have a child that went to school there.  I can count the number of times I checked his grades online in high school on one hand, this journey is his own, just like mine has been. It’s not for lack of deep care, but for the belief that we are meant to expose and guide them, not attempt to control their path.  I am of course so proud of where he arrived last Saturday, and although I’m sure he thinks he gets lots of mom advice from me, it’s his efforts that got him to this place. I can picture the moments of his volleyball career, the five set matches and game points where his back was up against the wall, that helped him achieve his dream of wearing a Stanford uniform. The optimist in me tells me those days are not over, as hard as Stanford is trying to make them be.  The words run through my head daily:

“The path will appear.”  

I’m blessed by so many amazing friendships that support and ground me, and help me connect my thoughts.  After checking Luke into his dorm, Kate and I made our way to Santa Cruz and one of them. Another relationship born on that I5 corridor over 20 years ago. Sarah and I were the only two women our age working on the westside,  because of course at that time, even women five years older seemed light years away from where we were, but even by that measure, there still weren’t many of us. Sarah flies planes, owns her own business, and bakes her own sourdough bread…she has serious skills in all arenas. Over the years we have been to Normandy, Prague, Paris, and London, and dined at Denny’s at 5am for the free birthday breakfast. Now eight kids between us that we have hauled from two year old preschool all the way to college, my circle was complete when Kate and I stopped at Cal Poly on the way home Sunday to take her oldest to lunch.  The two little boys that used to count trucks on the freeway on the way to Miss Paige’s are in college.  And sitting on that patio at Firestone Grill, on Sunday, it could have been 1995, when my favorite tri-tip sandwich restaurant first opened and I lived down the street, I didn’t feel as far away as I am from being the student instead of the mom buying lunch.

COVID life has brought me closer to phone conversations than I have been since I was 15.  There is something about isolation that makes hearing people’s voices so much better than texting.  So after we got home, I digested the contents of my weekend with another deep connection, my friend Chrissy, who is simply the most passionate, devoted, and talented human, mom, writer and friend, (Check out her amazing blog here) she put some brilliant words on my swirling nostalgic thoughts.  

“Nostalgia is like a warm blanket you wrap yourself in for the journey ahead, instead of a place you long to return to.” 

That was an instant yes for me…but it hasn’t always been that way.  So I started thinking about what has helped me make that shift in my life, where I can see the beauty in the past, but not long for it and feel like the best days are behind me.  Chrissy admitted it is something she struggles with as her beautiful boys get older, need her less, and time does its thing marching on. We have to tread gently on that spot when we realize that life, no matter how hard we try, doesn’t make Uturns. So what do we do to keep growing, evolving, and effect change for ourselves that pays forward to the next generation? Here are a few of my realizations:

My life has been influenced by so many arrivals and departures along the I5 and 101 corridor. There isn’t a place in the world that has the unique beauty that this state holds.  True success in life happens when you understand where your roots are planted, and have the ability to flourish even when a transplant occurs…and knowing that even though life doesn’t make ‘Uturns’, we can master the art of ‘Youturns’. Once again, I find myself grateful for the heavy clay that taught me what is important to hold on to, and the light and airy sand that has shown me how to let go.  

Proud of you Luke Turner.  You have strong roots too. Looking forward to seeing where you decide to grow from here.  

With love & optimism,

Wendy

Here’s my choice for song of the week…there were a few, I’ve spent a lot of time in cars and planes this last week listening!

I’ve been struggling on the volleyball court lately.  Losing more than I win, seeing things that my body isn’t quick enough to react to, letting my mind wander to different areas of my life outside the court and realizing (with the help of some of the awesome people I play with) how hard I am on myself. It’s crazy how long it has taken me to absorb this realization. I mean seriously, I’m in the sunshine in January with my feet in the sand and getting my movement in, does anything else really matter?  I’m 46 years old, and I’m finally recognizing this conditioning, to always expect more of myself, and then see how chasing that is something that zaps my energy instead of catalyzing it.  I know that I am not alone in this boat.  We all have our days, some of us more than others, that we are too hard on ourselves, expect more than we should, or set impossible standards instead of recognizing the good and then letting that grounding energy help bring amazing things to fruition in our lives.  So the reframe for me lately is this - evolving is way better than aging. Evolving is so exciting it puts a little flutter in my stomach that feels like attraction on the deepest level…like falling in love with yourself and the process you get to invent when you fully embrace your story. 

While I’m sure there are hundreds, maybe thousands of ways we can embrace our own evolution as we walk our paths, my meditations have been revealing things to me in fives. So here are five ways I have found to find flow and embrace evolution over aging. 

  1. Learn to recognize and work with your state - I have talked a lot about breath work and how to recognize the state of our nervous system. It is fundamental to understanding how we respond and perform in the world. Recognizing our state and learning how to operate and find balance between our sympathetic and parasympathetic response is huge. Having tools under our belts to respond when we are anxious and overwhelmed in sympathetic (fight or flight), or when we have dropped too deep into parasympathetic (rest & digest) state is key to maintaining our energy and to be able to learn and retain new information. This is true at any age, and I have learned so much by raising Matthew and watching him learn and come out of states of hyper vigilance to where he is open and trusting - and then he learns. He is no different than the rest of us and breath is the key. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed slow down and take a deep breath, in through your nose and then an extra long exhale to follow. Take a few if you need to and feel the reset wash over you. If you are feeling sluggish or even low grade depressed…which can look like procrastination or low to no motivation, try breath of fire, it will help bring you back into sympathetic balance.

  2. Value sharing knowledge as a collective experience, not a competition. For all of the difficult things the news cycle is trying its best to overwhelm us with, there is so much good energy and wisdom being spread out there. Podcasts, books, audio books…these are lights that shine through the darkness and perspectives we wouldn’t have taken in if we didn’t have the humility to listen. I’m always amazed at the like minds and cool conversations that cross my path when my I share my interests about growth mindset and generational wisdom and health and wellness. Like attracts like, and as I continue to learn and share daily with these connections, without any feeling of comparison or judgement, it feels light and beautiful. We don’t have to have it all mapped out, we only need to have the awareness to acknowledge the next step and let our interests guide our way.

  3. Shift from a scarcity to an abundance mindset. I know that I lived a long time making decisions for what I didn’t want to happen. I didn’t want to fail, I didn’t want to feel sad, I didn’t want to be judged by others. But living for what we don’t want pales in comparison to creating what we do! A scarcity mindset keeps our options limited and our circle small. When we shift to an abundance mindset we are free to create and show up in the world without feeling like we are taking away space from anyone else. It stops imposter syndrome in its tracks and helps us find gratitude for our uniqueness. Then we can see clearly to the places where we can show up for other people and also rest in the moments where people show up for us. It produces calm and free flowing energy that radiates through our days.

  4. Allow yourself to be changed by others while setting boundaries for your healthy life. Evolving helps us see what information is helpful and what certain perspectives are meant to bring into our lives. Whether they are intelligence or counterintelligence, they show up for a reason. Sometimes they can even be a little bit of both. Understanding ourselves helps us not to feel so much conflict with what we don’t agree with or stubbornness if we feel the pull of being changed by another. We are here to learn and grow together, self awareness shows us where those connections exists and the confidence we gain by accepting ourselves completely allows us to set proper boundaries to create the life and connections that are meant for us.

  5. Have confidence in what you have to offer, but understand that people have to be in the right place on their path to receive it. This one is huge and has been a pain point in my life more than once. Evolving means creating space for ourselves and others to grow, but understanding that information is taken in at different times, when we are ready, and that we are not always meant to deliver the message. It shows us that we are all at different points on our paths and that sometimes those journeys are coming together and other times they are divergent. The beauty for us is to know that if we stay true to ourselves, connection will always teach something, even if it is the lesson of learning to let go.

These days, my mind and heart are set on finding maximum flow in my life, and in that regard, I’m feeling much better than I have been in the sand lately. Life is full of ebbs and flows, usually I’m telling you about how the court teaches us about life…but maybe this week the flow I’m feeling in life will learn to follow me back to the court. Evolve, find your flow, and pass the good work on to the next generation.  It’s the gift that will unite us. 

With love & optimism,

Wendy

Some more real lyrics for you this week…love the honesty and loyalty in his words

Most days this time of year I click the light on in the morning and it’s usually still dark outside. I have thoughts and words running through my head and they wake me up, even though I’m not sure exactly how they will take shape when I start writing. Writing for me is like giving my brain a massage, it eases the tension in my always thinking mind, it’s part of my routine, and comforting on so many levels. In short, I’ve realized that me writing to you is therapy, and I’m always happy when it connects us or resonates with something going on in your life too.  

It’s hit me hard multiple times this week how much life has changed in a year. A day in the life looks so much different than I thought it would right now, and that’s been the case for quite some time. Tensions are high out there, there is fear, stress, and high rates of burnout. As humans we want to connect, have spontaneity in our lives, and know that our actions matter, and, on some level, each of these things is evading us right now. Businesses are under pressure because sick or exposed customers can’t come in, employees are spread thin with so many people out sick, we can’t gather for a night out and a quick trip away from the madness is not an option…and I think somehow we just didn’t think it would all last this long. So I’m back to the drawing board to figure out my thoughts and focus on how can we make it better, for ourselves and for each other.

1.Turn off the news and call your friend. On my walk the other day, it occurred to me that there wasn’t one person without a phone…taking pictures, scrolling, listening to music, and yes, taking in too much of the dreaded 24 hour new cycle. If we are going to have these things embedded in our palms, we may as well use them to find connection. Reach out and show someone that you care about what happened in their day. Ask questions and sit back and listen. Long and deep conversations have been one of the greatest gifts of the past year.

2. Cultivate the energy you want to be around. 

It’s hard to do that if we allow ourselves to be controlled by outside forces like the news or social media scrolling that makes us feel distracted, anxious, and negative.  No matter how difficult things get out there, everything we need to succeed is already within us.

My focus these days is:

Imagine -> Decide -> Focus -> Fruition

All of that is within my control and it feels free. And freedom is energy.

Create a framework that works for you and focus your energy there.

3. Surrender to what is, it’s the difference between working against the grain and finding flow.  Allow yourself to feel what you are fighting against, and then let it go. Right now, changing plans is just part of the process, it’s a great exercise in learning to stay present and flexible. Routine is tricky, it’s something that comforts us one moment, bores us the next, and then just when we think we have a great plan, it gets shut down by things we can’t control. If we have our health, we have what we need to keep moving, even if the way forward wasn’t what we anticipated.

My message is short and hopefully sweet enough for you this week. Don’t burnout. Keep taking care of yourself. Yes, we are locked into  a lot of big responsibilities that feel heavy right now. But we’ll get through it with connection, good energy, and knowing when to surrender.  We need to create boundaries for ourselves that will keep us undivided. When we stand strong in who we are, we are more equipped to connect with others. We were never meant to go it alone, so if you are feeling lonely reach out. I get it, but know we’ve got this. We’re rounding a corner, I can feel it. A day in this life is what you make it, and there are too many people this year who didn’t get another chance at another day to take one second of sunshine for granted. 

And the much anticipated song of the week was as even better than I thought it would be, it really is this simple. Undivided, This one is an instant classic.

I was a Morning in America child of the 80’s.  I grew up listening to the news and writing letters to the editor. Today, I read the paper in the morning because I want a glance at what is relevant,  but unless a major news alert pops up on my phone, the TV is hardly ever on at my house. Podcasts deliver so much more optimism than the news these days.  But there is a problem if we choose not to inform ourselves, because the opposite of empathy is apathy. And a democracy is only as strong as its informed citizens.  We need leaders who want to serve, and have empathy for what morning in America feels like right now.  We are due for an awakening. 

After I finished this amazing talk on Generational Consciousness with Jeri Reeder last Wednesday, my news alerts were buzzing, so I cautiously flipped on the TV. What I saw squeezed my American heart so tight.  As my friend Chrissy put it, what I saw at the Capitol was the opposite of evolution, and it sure wasn’t any kind of awakening. And that’s when I picked up my phone and posted this video that resonated with some and upset others, which seems to be standard when you speak your mind about something these days. Some think that when we show emotion, it’s an untethered moment, but for me it was a deep connection to who I am and what I believe. I’m finally comfortable enough with myself and the camera to talk to you guys, instead of just write to you about what I think. When I started out, even writing felt scary, telling you what I thought and felt was intimidating and I just knew someone was judging me…”she needs attention, why doesn’t she just go talk to a friend”…and I cared. But I knew I wanted a record of my thoughts for my kids, I needed to unwind my monkey mind, and hoped to help others in the process, so I pressed on. Imposter syndrome and fear of what you thought of me loomed large. With video, I fought my demons that whispered you have to know everything (as if that’s even possible) to say anything, and you better look good and like your voice before you share a post. I had to learn to recognize and wrestle with self sabotage and give it a name, but that is all part of awakening and what keeps my bare feet on the path of growth. I remind myself often that a life lived with good intention, and what we learn from it, can’t be wrong unless we stop trying. Every day is an opportunity to learn and correct course if the need arises. So I press on, and know my intention is to spread light and inspire other real voices to know and share their own stories, so that we can connect, release shame, and set an example for the next generation… and now that camera doesn’t phase me anymore. I can check that one off my list;) 

It feels rough out there right now. This week we have seen a nation in fight or flight. For so many reasons, we don’t feel safe, we do feel isolated, and we’ve seen the worst in humanity magnified in a 24 hour news cycle.  We’ve retreated to our corners, pointed fingers and want to have something to blame to make sense of it all, or know that we are right, as if somehow that is going to help us find the safety that we are craving. And while I have opinions and deep disappointments, I feel the calming difference between awakening and activism, so while I don’t have all the answers for the vexing issues and deep divide in our country right now, I know that awakened citizens make better activists. Awakening starts with understanding our state and our story, and helps us move away from dualistic thinking.  It allows us to hold space for divergent ideas and not jump to extreme conclusions quickly.  It helps us find trust and compassion in our common humanity and pray for each other no matter what our beliefs. It helps us to know that our story isn’t the only story, and teaches us to seek connection instead of comparison when we speak.  Awakening helps us see our own conditioning, how we have come to stand in the place we are today, and why we think what we think.  Values are stronger tenants for living if we know how we arrived at them. And one thing I know for sure, radical thinking isn’t awakened, it’s fear based, and it sells.  

Many people asked when I felt hurt by what went on at the Capitol if I was just as outraged at the riots and looting over the summer, and the short answer is yes. I don’t believe in violence as a means of social justice ever, and I know that in a crowd of many, the extremists will move to the front and find their ten seconds of fame on camera, but that doesn’t change the fact that the damage done at the Capitol was heartbreaking to see. The reason I spoke out on Wednesday was because patriotism and love for this country and it’s institutions are things that run deep in my DNA, even if I am disappointed in corrupted power structures and ego driven leaders. My story includes honorable and decent people who taught me about leadership and civic responsibility that looked nothing like what I see today. We have deep problems in our system from government, to corporate America, to the rise of technology that is outpacing our brains and hijacks our emotions on a daily basis, so what I know to do at this point is work to find presence in a chaotic world.

Here are some ideas, all of which you have heard from me before, 

  1. Embrace Solitude: Take a phone break, turn off the TV, stop scrolling and find a quiet corner of the house or take a walk by yourself. Our minds and nervous systems need silence to move us away from fight or flight.

  2. Breathe to Find Presence: Nasal breathing is a game changer.  Just four rounds of four second box breathing will activate your parasympathetic nervous system.  Inhale four seconds, pause at the top four seconds, exhale four seconds, pause at the bottom four seconds. Or simply take 10 deep breathes, letting your exhale be longer than your inhale. Next time you are feeling stressed by what the world has to offer, stop and breathe. 

  3. Move - All of my life I have had a form of play and I don’t know what I’d do without it.  For decades, it’s been my go to for stress relief.  Whether it’s been running, pilates, swimming, volleyball, or yoga I am always mentally and physically better off than when I started.  Find something you like to do and make time for it, it does wonders for completing the stress cycle. 

    4.Get Adequate Sleep - Ironically, one of the keys to ‘awakening’ is to get enough sleep. When we don’t, our mental abilities and emotional state are negatively affected and we find it more difficult to handle and complete the stress response in our bodies, leaving us irritable and with a weakened immune systems…something we especially don’t need these days. 

    5. Eat Clean & Hydrate - I’m doing a January cleanse.  It’s all about repairing the Gut/Brain connection and flushing the toxins from our body. It helps me sleep better, reduces brain fog, and reduces inflammation. It also helps drop a few pounds.  Everything works better and our cells can communicate more efficiently when we eat clean and are hydrated. If you are feeling like you need help in the nutritional arena or want more information let me know! 

It’s not about getting all of these things right everyday, we can find grace and progress in the same moment.  With so much out of our control and with every new day that still feels raw and unknown, we are better equipped to handle it if we know how to take care of ourselves. Awakening is about finding the presence to live in a world of opposing issues and understand our values at the same time, so we know how to be conscious activists for the issues that mean the most to us. And those issues don’t have to be the same or compared to each other to matter. Morning in America still happens everyday, what does your routine look like? Let’s find ideas we can connect on, and sit down and figure out how to build bridges to talk calmly about the rest. Maybe we the people can show the ‘leaders’ what to do.

I really wish that Tim McGraw’s & Tyler Hubbard’s new song, Undivided, was out to put on this blog…gotta wait until Wednesday. But the lyrics in this song are still speaking to me:)

With love & optimism,

Wendy

While we can all look back and say that 2020 was a year we are happy to see go, it was also the year that taught us about how important human connection is to health and thriving.  Technology came through for us in a big way (man, I wish I owned a bunch of Zoom stock pre pandemic) and the simple things like fresh air and long walks became the celebrations, which is probably the way it always should have been.  As it always seems to be, challenge teaches us a lot if we choose to reflect, so, here are my hopes for a new normal because I know that there is health and healing ahead for all of us if we choose to invite it. 

Come Back Kinder - As much as I want kids to be back learning in the classroom, I have to admit there has been a certain lightness for me as a mom not having to think about “the mean kids”.  I have always said that there is no amount you could pay me to return to junior high, and when Matthew started, I hated thinking about the kids who don’t get him.  I’ve seen it firsthand throughout his school days, kids can be terribly mean when they see something that looks or processes different than what they are used to, and in so many ways he has thrived at home away from what can be an overwhelming, fight or flight scene at school. My hope is that kids will all have missed socializing together so much, they will look to make friends, and everyone will be met with kindness and connection when they finally get to return. Praying hard for this one. Feel free to join in with me on this prayer:)

Keep growing - I listen to podcasts, read articles and books, and talk with people to expose myself to new thoughts and hear perspectives other than my own.  It’s not because I don’t know myself, or lack confidence in what I think, but because this exposure broadens my horizons. Learning is one of the greatest keys to longevity in this life.  We are never too old to learn something new and the greatest barrier I have seen to embracing new concepts and ideas, is thinking that other people have more to learn than we do.  It’s not a competition, or a scale, but staying set in your ways without investigating new ideas is a fast way to shrink your world and your connection with it. I hope that we can carve out the time to take in new knowledge and perspective no matter what challenges we are facing. Knowledge connects us and helps us find compassion for the experience of others. In the end, it’s a choice. 

Get organized - This podcast with James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, is great for the New Year and the quote I loved out of it most was this one:

“ You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

Simple genius is my favorite and this one rang loud and clear for me. In any new year, we have an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality.  Most of us  spend some time organizing and planning for what we want to accomplish.  Do you have systems? Healthy life design?  How we do the small things is how we do the big things.  Where do you want to start?  Need help? Let me know:) 

Do Power Differently - It starts with ourselves, how we view power and how we claim it. Power as we traditionally think of it in America has been abused and corrupted so much that the word has a negative vibe. I’ve said many times this year, the power structures are broken.  Thoughts of trying to fix the structures often overwhelm me and I have to retrace my steps and bring it back down to myself, my thoughts, and my actions.  Even my family structure challenges me, without a partner, I feel the weight of power…and the fear of claiming it sometimes. Single parenting is hard, there is no one to back you up. I have a value system I want to teach and uphold and it takes power to convey a message. I’ve learned to stay the course and have the tough conversations because real power is connection, not domination. We all have a purpose, a light that should shine in this world, that doesn’t take away from anyone else and their own light.  Imagine if we all claimed our true and authentic power, not to oppress or project on others, or prove that we are right, but to be bold enough to stand in our truth and have the confidence to listen as others do the same.  We would create opportunities for ourselves and for others at the same time and we could lift each other up - away from self doubt and gaslighting one another to prove our own truth, and into a place of safety to tell our own story. This is real power, and what I most want to see in leaders today…and we are the leaders. 

2020 taught us that gratitude for a roof over our head, food in the fridge, and someone to hug and talk to are among our greatest earthly gifts.  How will you honor those gifts in your own life this year?  Or offer a hand to someone who struggles to find any of vital needs? How can we be better for ourselves so we can be more helpful to others? 

If you are a reader and connector with my words, you can help me.  This blog started as an expression for myself, and a place to give insight to my kids when they are old enough to be curious about what their mom was thinking way back when.  I have been in the business of growing myself and others for a long time, but 2021 is the year to make it official. I’d be honored if you would share my words or If you or anyone you love needs coaching to find greater calm and connection and better life design to raise your vibration, find deeper health, or more flow in life, I am ready to help.  I would love to hear about some of your hopes for 2021! Here’s is to a prosperous 2021, with strong backs that can carry and protect, and soft hearts that are ready to listen and receive.  

Here’s my pick for song of the week - it’s a older one - but the lyrics are genius and always put a lump in my throat.

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