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I can feel the shift.  I know we are all afraid to anticipate things at this point, because everything in our lives over the last year has taught us the only thing we can count on is change, disruption, and a chance to do things very differently, whether we like it or not. But the vaccines are rolling, I’m sure we all know quite a few people who have had two rounds, and a year ago at this time we didn’t know we would need a new vaccine to live life to the fullest…but it came to pass and if we are among the ones still here, it feels like its time to get down to business.  

This week I’ve been reflecting on what we’ve learned since last March. It’s strange how I want the world to be normal again but at the same time not sure what that is anymore.  Going back to the way it was almost creates a weird feeling of anxiety in me…one that I know I will get over when whatever normal is comes, but at the same time makes me think about how intentional I want real life to be.  I don’t want to sling shot back into the rushing around, sitting in traffic, slotting every minute of every day.  COVID has been a worldwide tragedy, but as so many things in life are, there is a duality to what we experienced and the slow down for me for an introverted homebody like me has been more than refreshing on a lot of levels.  So I sit here today asking, what do I want the return to look like and here are a few thoughts I came up with:

  1. Live BIg. With over a half million deaths in the US alone, it is clear that many loved ones have been lost and that experience is devastating. The way to honor those lives lost though is to live bigger and less afraid than ever before. The impact of the lives lost in the last year has been so immense, it can only illustrate how precious a day on this earth can be for ourselves and the people connected to us. If we are still here, we still have a purpose that is asking to be fulfilled. How will you meet that challenge? Do you know what that purpose is? If not, how will you discover it? We short change ourselves in life when we play small or live consumed by worry or fear. The better we get to know ourselves, the more we will be able to map our our purpose and unleash our impact on the world. And even when that natural fear creeps in, we know how to recognize and reframe it to keep leveling up. We can honor ourselves, and the people who aren’t with us today by living a life of impact.

  2. Gratitude for simple things. The routines that have come from a slower pace of life are refreshing. Time to appreciate the little things like morning light, the right cup of coffee, or time for a second one, and sunset walks after dinner. Life before had almost eliminated the concept of sitting down to dinner. The deep things in life are strikingly simple, but if we get moving too fast again we forget to notice them. I’m vowing to myself not to make that mistake.

  3. Be More, Do Less. Coming through the challenges we have in the last year has given us a chance to evolve, to know ourselves better, to develop more empathy, and understand that people and their beliefs are complex. How can we not live with less judgment and more presence now that we realize how drastically life can change worldwide in what feels like and instant? We’ve been given the chance in the last year to know ourselves better, understand what we value and in being forced to slow down feel more. Time to sink into ourselves and understand more what we want out of life, and I don’t want to go back.

As I was out on the beach this week playing and watching some of the best volleyball players come alive with the chance to compete, the energy and joy was palpable. It was life being fully lived, without fear, or judgment of who was close to who and people embracing strength and health and it felt so good.  I don’t want to lose the connection I felt, the nicknames, the inside jokes, my girls bonding over TicTok and Netflix, but the time is coming, normal is coming…it’s time to decide what we want our normal to look like. 

With Love & Optimism,

Wendy

Squarespace isn’t cooperating with me to get a song on here this week…Technical difficulties!

Photo Credit: @amoorephoto_

I’m in a strange spot with my blog this week…having a hard time tying it all up with a bow, even with the most amazing energy and butterflies in my stomach for what is to come.  But it’s Sunday, and I’m a creature of habit so I’m checking in. 

Trust your vision and work to clarify it.

These are the words that come to me time and again in my mindfulness practice. I started my blog to find clarity on my own journey, and with the hope of helping the next generation learn things from my insights, grounded in optimism, younger than I learned them. I like to call it the ‘game of life’. 

I feel such a connection, not just to my own kids, but to the relationships I have made because of them. It’s so easy to generalize, and put a label on a generation or a group of people, one of life’s greatest lessons for me has been to challenge myself not to do that; to take the time to get to know people, one on one, rather than believe a label or what someone else has said about them.  Real connection is the name of the game and when I have one on one conversations with kids from this next generation, their strength and insight inspires me.  I’m grateful for my strong emotional memory, because I can still remember what it feels like to be 15 or 18 - both the joy and wonder of it, and the struggle.  And each time I get the chance to be with one of these remarkable young people, I am in awe of their wisdom and strength.  Yesterday, that was my experience with Allie Taylor, almost 14 and showing up for it all in life. I shared some of her wisdom back in November in this blog - What Matters Most - about how we can honor differences, get along, and understand each other better. She knows it’s good to have a passion and apply yourself to it - her’s is dance and music.  I had the blessing of seeing her Christmas dance production and it brought tears to my eyes it was so beautiful. She understands that challenges come along to make us greater versions of ourselves… and she meets hers head on with bravery and love.  Her game of life is the stage, much like my third born Kate. And the lessons of discipline, tenacity, confidence and so many others are the same as sports. Passion is an amazing catalyst for growth. No matter what our age, we are all works in progress, and passion for what we want to create in our lives will open us up (and hopefully allow our ego to soften a bit) for new insight to impact and change us.

This past week, the signs have been everywhere for me.  The energy has shifted and doors are opening I wouldn’t have imagined a week ago.  The game of life has been in full swing…from Save Stanford Men’s Volleyball, to watching Luke’s first college game on Zoom, to anticipating the opening of TCU Beach Volleyball season next weekend, to a trip to St. George to visit one of my dearest friends (credit 1990 volleyball season for our lifelong friendship) the theme is there.  What we learn on the court, we carry with us our entire life.  

From my deep clay roots to my bare feet in the sand, this process of evolving and paying attention to the energy I attract has taught me that the greatest journey is one of openness and strong boundaries, inclusion and the ability to honor our uniqueness, and forgiveness, both of myself and others. With a spirit of non-judgment, we can help generational stories evolve into traditions of strength and deep inner knowing that make the world a more healed and stronger place. When we find our passion in doing the work, the sky is the limit, and what is coming has my heart full of gratitude and excitement.  I can’t wait to share it all with you. 

With love & optimism,

Wendy

Feeling these lyrics this week…a little wisdom from Florida Georgia Line

While I’ve always felt that it is important to ask the question, because it happens a lot in American culture these days, I don’t live vicariously through my children, but I am always willing to take a stand next to them if I have seen them show up in full force for themselves.  Maybe it’s easier for me separate my dreams from theirs because with four of them with various interests and abilities, there wasn’t always time to sink deep into their experience, it was more a matter of making sure the parental things were done, like signing permission slips, making reservations, driving, and of course paying for things.  But as we go through these quickly passing days as parents, we get attached, not to their success, but to the people that they are becoming in front of our eyes as we sit in the stands, watch them perform, or drive them to practice, because as they pursue what interests them, they learn how to take ownership of who they are, and from there, learn how to lead themselves and others, and, no matter how many games they win, there is no greater feeling than watching leadership and grace under fire develop.  For Luke, since he was 12 years old, that place has been on the volleyball court and being asked to pivot on that commitment isn’t ok, not for him or any of the other athletes involved in this terrible decision by the university.

Back in July, Stanford broke the hearts of 240 student athletes that had honed their craft and built their leadership skills through thousands of collective hours on the mat, in the pool, on the fields, the water, and in the gym by cutting 11 Olympic sports, citing finances as a reason. The hours that these athletes have dedicated to their craft have helped shape the young adults they have become and they were recruited by Stanford without any indication that their program was under fire.  Each of these athletes have unfinished goals and they were all of a sudden left wondering how to accomplish them. It’s not about the scholarship that they say will be honored, it’s about the experience of being a full fledged Division 1 college athlete in the sport that they have spent so much of their life training and falling in love with and that helped shape their identity ( and let’s not forget, in most cases they are 18-21, not 40) To be a Stanford athlete is an opportunity that each of them earned, and had the ability to take to other universities to continue their training and grow their skills as leaders, something that will not only benefit themselves but the world at large, once their days on the court are finished. I’m sure the majority of them would have made a different school choice if they had been alerted to the danger that was lurking for their program. The dedication that it took for them to get to this level required greater sacrifice and focus to achieve their goal of not just becoming a college athlete, but becoming a Stanford athlete. For Luke, that was the dream since attending his first Stanford football game when he was 8 years old, watching Andrew Luck and playing catch with Coach Harbaugh’s wife at the pregame tailgate.  And although he is a die hard Stanford, Fantasy Football, and Colt’s fan to this day, his dream of wearing a Stanford jersey didn’t come with pads and cleats, and as mom, I’m thankful that his body and mind will be better off because of that.  Sports, as an athletic experience or as a spectator, has the ability to shape and change our lives, and an institution like Stanford, with the breadth of knowledge it has on campus and in the world can do better. 

Olympic memories go back in my mind to 1984, to Mary Lou Retton’s perfect 10 in the all around at the Los Angeles Games and continue through Janet Evans in 1992, Missy Franklin and Michael Phelps crushing the medal stands, Dara Torres defying age in her fifth Olympics in 2008 and Kerri & Misty’s runs in 2004, 2008 & 2012.  Although each of these athletes have made money through their sports, mostly through endorsements, there are hundreds more unsung heroes who despite great financial hardship, have the dedication to make it to the Olympics and provide us as the public with memories that inspire us through our own lives (think Cool Runnings and the Jamaican bobsled team). None of these sports are money makers for collegiate athletics.  If the focus of college sports becomes solely about making a profit, or capitalizing on the athletes that have the potential to sign multi million dollar deals after their collegiate careers, we all lose. 

After months of being stonewalled by Stanford, even with an impressive list of alumni working hard to raise funds to endow their own programs, the University has been unwilling to budge. The fight isn’t over yet, because as alumni, parents, and athletes, we will fight for the what is best for these athletes, the public at large, and what Stanford can’t see clearly for itself right now.  It’s time to put the passion back into college sports and take the price tag off the commitment that Stanford made to these 240 athletes, because something that life has taught me thus far, is that nothing that is done for the almighty dollar alone, ever, in the end is worth it.  

Here is some more information to keep up with the fight by United 11 (the parent group that was started to seek reinstatement) and 36 Strong (the alumni group helping to seek alternative funding solutions). There will be more to come in the next few months, I have no doubt. Honor their dreams and the commitment you made to them Stanford, these athletes deserve better.

Sports Illustrated - Inside The Growing Fight to Save Olympic College Sports

Stanford AD under major fire

With love & so much optimism,

Wendy

And my song of the week is a classic and cheesy as it feels, I couldn’t get it out of my head;)

Life moves fast, and our choices create patterns…some of which we want to continue, some that if we are observant, we learn from and choose to change.  There is nothing that inspires me more, and raises my vibration, than making choices that not only make my days brighter, but help put the next generation on their own path to greatness. It might sound like a lot of pressure, but it’s actually not, because what elevates our days, and helps elevate theirs, is to live, not hide from or try to control life. When we break through to the freedom of being real, surrender the need to control the narrative of life, and stop sweeping things under the rug. Under that rug is where all the low vibrations live and I have a visual that runs through my mind frequently of pulling it up off the ground and shaking it out…and the bad energy just dissipates. And that’s when we find our flow. 

As our country has moved through some serious states of upheaval in the past year, I have watched, participated, and taken in the energy around me. Its crazy to realize how directly what goes on in our own kitchen’s influences the world.  To put it simply, we have a responsibility to our connections, community, and the world to be people who raise instead of lower the vibration around us. If you are new to vibrational energy, let me explain a little further.  Our world is made of energy, every atom vibrates with it, and on a human level, that includes not just our physical bodies, but our thoughts and emotions as well.  Certain emotions are associated with certain vibrations.  High vibrations are marked by contentment, happiness, optimism, kindness, love, joy, freedom….you get the idea, all the emotions that make life great.  We feel low vibrations when we or the people around us embody the emotions of fear, shame, guilt, pessimism, jealousy, rage, powerlessness…you get the idea and I’m sure you’ve encountered the difference of how you feel when these emotions are within you or circling around you. If our vibration is high, we feel the repelling quality of low vibrations…and it works the other way around too.  Some people won’t want to be around high vibrations if they are stuck in cycles of guilt, shame, or fear and work subconsciously to bring the high vibrations down. 

What we learn is what we teach.  All my life, I have been sensitive to the energy that I feel from other people.  Learning how it affects my thoughts, emotions and the productivity of my day has been a major focus and lesson for me over the last five years.  There was a time when I didn’t know how to recognize it, low vibrations would make me feel uncomfortable, sad, or like I had nothing to add to a situation, or even worse, that it was my job to fix. Unless you understand what’s going on vibrationally, you can get sucked into a sea of sadness and can’t understand you feel so low.  These days, I know what to do, how to identify what I feel and set my boundaries accordingly.

Life happens, so much of it is not in our control, but it’s empowering to believe that even just our thoughts can create positive momentum around us.  Vibration is a state of being.  When we learn how to release fear, live in the present, and embrace forgiveness, there is no limit for how high we can go. Sometimes people get stuck in a low vibration that feels normal to them because fear, shame, and guilt have a hold of them. They have been living it for so long they don’t even know it.  Vibrations that continue over time set up generational patterns and conditioning. And if low vibrations have taken hold, and even repeated themselves, as patterns in families have a tendency to do, we have to know how to release the lower vibrations for higher vibrations. This is where the investment comes in. In order to change the pattern, the generational vibration has to be strong, by at least one person, and that is what inspires me everyday and continues to help me live in a state of mindfulness, optimism, and even joy most of the time and see quickly if I am being tripped up by a lower vibrational force. 

Here are a few fast ways to raise your vibrational energy when it’s low:

  1. Take a walk barefooted in the soil - Grounding, as it is called, has been shown to anchor us and make us feel more stable and calm

  2. Do a Yoga Flow - the breath to movement of yoga calms our nervous system and raises our vibration in a matter of minutes. Stick with it for 30 mins or an hour and add some heat and prepare for transformation.

  3. Make a ‘Let it go list’. Read it out loud, then burn it and let it go. Surrender is always the first step to progress

  4. Connection with a friend who has good vibes. We don’t always have to be on the giving end or give off false positivity. Sometimes its our turn to receive, trust that you will be there for your friends on the day that they need you and lean in.

  5. Burn sage throughout your living space. When sage is burned it releases negative ions, which is linked to putting people in a positive mood. Works for me every time!

I’ll leave you with a quote that struck me this week: 

"Children do not need answers from us as much as they need to see us model peace with not knowing.”

In the end, there is so much out of our control, but peace will leave us with a high vibration and improve life for ourselves and everyone around us.  Through mindfulness we can control our thoughts, and with our thoughts we can raise our vibration.  The most enlightened among us know that they don’t have all the answers, but they sure do seem to enjoy the process…and that’s what I aspire to learn and teach every single day. 

With Love & Optimism,

Wendy

Missed seeing this girl in concert with Tim McGraw back in September…great voice & lyrics…can’t wait for live music to make it’s comeback!

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