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Once a month I open my eyes in the middle of the night and the moon is streaming in, bright as daylight. The full moon always feels ungrounded and chaotic, illuminating even brighter all the things I already know I can’t control like my kids safety, the inevitable aging process, earthquakes, other people’s happiness….the list goes on and on. Since I was in college I have slept with the curtains at least cracked, no matter what I learn about the best environment for good sleep, I’ve always liked to wake up with natural light, so the full moon cycle is part of the process. I hate alarm clocks…I only set them if there is a plane to catch at a before dawn hour and never have trouble waking up. But this back pain was a game changer, it left me feeling foggy, unable to sleep, and groggy with the sunrise…for two months. And the world started to go a little gray. My vision was cloudy, everything sounded hard, I didn’t feel social, but then in the next moment felt lonely. I’d been to acupuncture, chiropractor, orthopedist, I was trying to figure things out, it felt like it was taking forever to get any relief. I thought I was having trouble with my mind and outlook because I couldn’t exercise, but a week after getting a steroid epidural injection to ease the pain, and still with no volleyball or hot yoga under my belt yet, I realize that the trouble wasn’t the workout schedule, it was the pain, which was turning chronic because it had no end in sight. And I’m here to tell you pain killers are not the answer. By Saturday last weekend, the sky was a new shade of blue and I found myself venturing out to Venice Ball in Venice Beach and The Wedge in Newport Beach on Sunday. The cloud that was hanging over me had lifted and my eyes could see clearly again. My perspective on chronic pain has changed with my own experience, and I’m certain this isn’t the last experience I will have with it, so while this epidural is taking the edge off and I’m learning new exercises to strengthen all the little muscles in my lower back, my glutes, and hips, I’m also thinking about how my body has taught me more about life again. 

  1. Take note of this feeling and be there for others when you see them going through it. I can be hard if we don’t pay attention and ask a few disarming questions because more often than not, people don’t raise their hand and say, “I’m suffering from pain.” I feel better equipped to listen for the little things or look for the signs and understand now how the smallest things can make a difference. A back rub, groceries, or a ride somewhere can go a long way. Not to mention, being of service to someone else is also one of the quickest ways to lift your own spirit and take your mind off any of your own pain. I don’t mean fixing…just showing the love and connecting through the experience.

  2. There is no point in comparing pain. Handle what’s in front of you, don’t hide or distract yourself from it. It’s here to teach you something about yourself and the way you fit in this world. Just like any other comparison in life, how your pain measures up against anyone else’s doesn’t matter. What matters is how you take care of yourself and listen to your body through the experience. Attempts to ignore or mask it will only make it worse, have it come back stronger, or create new pain that ultimately needs to be dealt with. Stare it down and do the next right thing to deal with it then you will be equipped to help others too.

  3. Don’t keep pushing toward burnout, those are real and dark days. Let yourself slow down in the ways that you can, no guilt. I’ve rediscovered my love for novels through this pain. I love to read, but had been on non fiction for awhile, but stories were one of the only things that helped take my mind off my back. Even now that I’m feeling better, novels will be a lasting habit.

Growth and meaning are always found in life when we take the next brave step forward, no matter how small or how slow. As my wise chiropractor Frank pointed out to me, pain will slow you down, even cause a momentary side step or two, before you can go forward again, but just like the moon every month, there is a cycle to everything in this life. The most important thing is not to get stuck in any particular one or we lose our connection to ourselves and the impact we can make in the world. 

With love & optimism,

Wendy

This one came on after dinner with Lauren while visiting her at school…another cycle, they just keep coming.

The world is back in full swing.  Morning routines, schedules, pressure to perform according to the clock, the calendar, the grades, and the score, are mounting again. As unsettling as this pandemic down time has been, I always knew there was a part of me that would miss the slower pace, the kids being around and a closeness to the simple that I always find a way to appreciate. There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t grateful for the people in my life, the roof over my head, the gas in my car, or the food in my fridge. In such a crazy time fraught with so much uncertainty and sadness, there was peace in the simplicity that my soul craves. It’s the simple things that are the biggest blessings…everything else is icing on the cake. Now the morning is back to getting out the door, traffic, and the dog looking at me by 9 am like “where did everyone go?” while the cats rejoice that everyone has left.  

Returning to the regular school year calendar has made me reflect on the milestones of the past years. Having four very different kids makes each journey of time different. Their interests, abilities, and habits all reflect their experiences in life and influence our relationships in ways that I learn from as each day passes.  I was a gym mom for my first two, a place I felt most in my own element, even though they face so much more pressure at a young age with the levels they have propelled themselves to than I ever did, something I am in awe of one moment, and then wondering if it’s too much the next. The second two look so different, embracing theatre, surfing, and animals, but with the same work ethic and care for what they do and how they do it. I see the edges of perfectionism creeping in with all they have been through, wanting so much to live up, fill up, please, and experience life…and yet my desire to help them each create calm order in their lives and understand themselves and their gifts in a way that doesn’t need extra validation is my highest calling.  No matter how different the activities look, the underlying current of what I want them to understand about life is the same.  

The cool thing about parenting is that the things I learn through teaching them I am still learning on deeper levels every day myself. They are my greatest gift and inspiration to keep getting better.  No matter what else I seek to accomplish in this life, the sun rises and sets with the values, safety and love I am able to pass on to them.   

With love & optimism,

Wendy

I found this because I am slightly obsessed with John Mayer’s new album…but this is an old one;)

There is nothing like travel to remind you that there is always more than one way to do things.  I spent the last week enjoying Spain with Luke, his teammate and his mom.  Traveling with people can be an interesting experience, all of our true colors come out when we are jet lagged, lost, or have different opinions on where to go or what to do next, but we were in sync the entire week.  I’m so grateful for this opportunity we had to travel together. Over the last few weeks and throughout our trip, as I battled some pain from this herniated disc I’ve been dealing with, watched New Orleans and the East Coast get pummeled by Hurricane Ida, and experienced the 20 year anniversary of 9/11, the idea of rebuilding and what it takes to do it right, has circulated in my head.

When it comes to our bodies, aging, and what I have encountered with mine the last few months, I often picture what it looks like when a toddler starts to walk.  How they bend their knees, their heels stay glued to the floor, and they go up and down with ease a hundred times a day.  To say that I feel a long way from that point would be an understatement, and I let myself feel sad for a minute because I miss playing volleyball and going to yoga so much. What I know for sure is that I know how to rebuild because I’ve done it before, and the process is always bigger than just me. Rebuilding doesn’t have to mean going back to the way things were originally, because as I’ve learned through my life and travel, there are many ways to do something right, and lots of ways that things can look and still be successful. In recognizing this, we open ourselves up to a lot of growth and progress along the way.

Ways to Rebuild With Intention

  1. Work from Our Strengths - Whether we are talking about our own bodies and minds or entire communities, we are always best served when we are able to recognize and work from our strengths. Understanding what we do best or what our strongest attributes are helps lead us through our greatest challenges. I used to feel uncomfortable or less than humble if I led from my strengths, but now I see how that held me back from making my greatest impact. Every reinvention is built upon solid strength, make sure you know what yours are and don’t be afraid to share them.

  2. Be Honest about Our Weaknesses - If we can’t assess and be honest about where we struggle, we can’t garner the support we may need to get stronger. Every person or system has inherent weaknesses, when we understand what they are, we can rebuild and fortify ourselves and our communities. It’s contrary to what our ego wants, but weaknesses can become strengths the more we shine a light on them.

  3. Assess Our Coping Mechanisms - A solid rebuilding plan is based on having healthy coping mechanisms. Are we able to be transparent with our communities, or at least trusted members within them? As I heard so brilliantly stated at an #AA meeting I went to a few weeks ago,

 “Our secrets keep us sick.” 

I found that statement to be brilliantly clear.   Community, movement, connection, music, breath, journaling…these are the things that will help us and future generations rebuild. Nothing that takes us away from the feelings we feel or tries to bury our hurts will put us in a position to rebuild and heal. 

4. Be of Service to Others - Nothing takes us out of our own heads faster than extending ourselves to help someone in need.  Sometimes there are storms in our lives that just have to be weathered.  When these times come, we emerge from our own storm stronger when we are able to help someone else rebuild.  Being a part of a greater community takes the emphasis off of us and the world gets stronger as it benefits from our effort. 

5. Don’t judge - One thing I have noticed as I have come through the road bumps of life is that those of us with a few more bumps and bruises tend to be less judgmental of anyone else’s process. Nothing gives us more freedom to rebuild than admitting we do not know what another person has gone through until they decide to tell us, so why judge.  We can only be of service to ourselves and others when we approach situations and people with an open mind.  The best rebuilding projects come out of openness and collaboration.  When rebuilding, forget knee jerk assumptions, listen, and get ready to do some work. 

Rebuilding, whether its bodies, minds, relationships, or entire communities is not for the faint of heart.  But I have seen it done time and again by regular people countless times in my life.  There are things that haven’t faded since that fateful day 20 years ago like the 24 hour news ticker, longer security lines, and stricter measures to keep us safe. But what would it be like if the unity we felt as Americans was the same as it was 20 years ago.  That is something that is worth rebuilding, and the truth is it starts with the mind, body, and spirit of every person in this country.  Rebuilding the individual translates to stronger communities, connections, our country, and our world, so don’t let anyone tell you that what you do every day doesn’t matter. Choose wisely, go easy on the judgment both on yourself and others, and let’s see what we can rebuild together because as I’ve said so many times before, it’s all connected.

With love & optimism for whatever rebuild you need,

Wendy

Zac Brown was a big part of my last rebuild…was happy to find this new one this week.

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