It’s the body you’ve earned, not the body you were given.
It’s the body that stretched and grew and ached to create life.
The body that tore and broke to give birth.
The body that fed and rocked and comforted your babies.
It’s the body that you drag out of bed for 5 AM workouts.
The body that craves caffeine and chocolate but thanks you for water and vitamins.
The body that you celebrated love in and grieved heart break in.
It’s the body with scars that houses a heart with scars.
But a body that has astounded you with its strength, potential, and ability to heal.
It’s the body that sometimes you have hated.
But learned to love.
Love your mom bod for all that she is and will become.
In July 2007 I woke to a phone call that changed our lives forever.
Fast forward to July 2020. This morning when my phone dinged, as I was just about to head out for my run, it was a text from my daughter letting me know she’s been accepted to one of her top colleges.
And in these moments my heart explodes with joy, and sinks with grief.
Sometimes I don’t even recognize what I’m feeling until my feet hit pavement. Today. Today, I ran long and hard and I let myself break.
It’s not fair that the ONE other person who would be as proud of her as I am isn’t here.
It’s not fair that he’s missed birthdays and recitals and Casey’s graduation and first dates and boyfriends.
It’s not fair that Casey is navigating the work force for the first time without the leadership of his dad. It’s not fair that Lydia doesn’t have a man to tell her she’s beautiful and worthy and amazing.
It all came pouring out of me this morning, in the form of sweat and tears and my feet pounding the pavement for mile after mile.
A lot of you might read this and think, “it’s been 13 years, time to get over it already.” Yes - thirteen years of watching our kids reach milestones he’s not here for. Thirteen fathers days that we visited a grave instead of a threw a party. Thirteen years since we’ve felt his presence or heard his voice. And I’m here to tell you that time doesn’t heal a loss like this. Sometimes… time makes it harder.
But we’ve also experienced thirteen years of watching God show up when the passing time and the heavy absence of the man we loved so much is just too much. We’ve watched him heal and re-heal our hearts. Because “healing” isn’t a one time event. It’s a process of breaking and healing and breaking again and healing again. I personally have been through thirteen years of becoming closer to a God who, frankly, I don’t get. And growing in a faith that doesn’t look anything like what the christian devotionals say it should.
And my constant prayer and hope has been
“beauty for ashes, Lord”.
“Turn the pain into something good, Lord”
“Take what was meant to break us and use it to make us stronger, closer, wiser, Lord”
And what I’ve learned is that one of the gifts of a grieving heart is being able to live and find peace somewhere in the middle of the healing and the breaking. It’s understanding that some questions won’t get answered and some pain will never go away, but believing and trusting in spite of it all is the essence of faith.
Maybe that’s the Gray.
A place where it’s ok not to have all the answers, a place to be breaking and healing at the same time.
There was a time in my life when the fog of grief and uncertainty felt this thick.
Today, when I saw the fog rolling in over the lake, I made a detour as I headed to my shop to my favorite lake spot … just to be present in the moment as it formed.
I made my way down the trail to the waters edge. And as I sat there, a hush fell over the lake. There was a moment when I couldn’t tell the sky from the water. The horizon started to blend into one.
And I remembered.
I remembered when I couldn’t tell up from down. I couldn’t see to take even a tiny step forward. I remembered the thick heavy weight of the fog I felt around me. And I remembered the silence of my soul.
And in my quietness God reminded me…
“your certainty lies not in your circumstances”
“it lies not in what you can see ahead of you”
“your direction cannot be found by making your own way”
When my vision for my future and my life was clouded with a fog this thick, I learned to depend solely and completely on the one who created my life to guide it. The power to move in any direction was no longer mine.
I HAD TO TRUST.
This lesson resonates with me even today as I navigate life and the future.
I believe that even on the clear and beautiful days, God desires me to trust Him like I did when the horizon in front of me was blurred into a haze of fog.
Like I did when my heart was broken.
My dreams were lost.
And my plans destroyed.
You would think I would have it down by now.
But I don’t.
I’m just thankful for a heart awake to the reminders and a spirit willing to keep trying.
I go to bed tonight shook from today’s news.
Not because Kobe was such a super star athlete.
Not because everyone knows him.
My heart actually aches for those he leaves behind.
Tomorrow starts a journey his loved ones never asked for or could ever fathom. And they’ll only learn to navigate it as they actually go through it. Grief is darkness. It is confusion. It is silence and abandonment when you are desperate for help.
There is no manual. No right way. Just hold on and let go all at the same time.
The hardest part of grieving as a mom and wife was that it was the hardest thing I’d ever done and I had to do it without the one person I had grown to lean on and confide in. The one person I needed to go to for love and comfort, was gone. It felt like being asked to climb a giant mountain but my limbs weren’t functioning.
And I had to be a source of strength for my kids, but I had little strength to give on most days.
All the news coverage brings me to a place of so many feelings and so many memories.
And I just pray.
I pray for God to give strength that only He can give. And that though this mother’s heart might be broken for a season, that it will be mended and healed and that she will rise from these ashes with strength and wisdom and faith and straight up LOVE like she’s never known.
I was thinking tonight about the strength of a woman. The mama’s heart that will not surrender to the heartache this world can and does throw at her. The woman who takes all that was meant to destroy her and her family…and instead surrenders it to God, grows through it, fights through it, prays through it, and in the end USES it to live more full and alive and awake than ever before.
This is my mission. And it’s not one and done. It’s a daily choice to remember my pain, and to live on anyway. To not just survive the loss, but to allow the breaking to produce growth that honors the relationship and time I spent with the one I lost.
Our days are limited. People don’t seem to get it. Even though we get reminders all the time. It’s why I hate gossip and pettiness and drama.
Life is short. What are you doing with your time?
As a counselor in a high school for 10 years, I KNOW FOR SURE THAT YOUNG WOMEN NEED AND ARE HUNGRY FOR A BETTER EXAMPLE.
Daily, I worked with teenage girls at war with one another over mean words, hurtful looks, judgmental comments, emotional isolation, etc...
It frustrated me to my core some days to feel like I was fighting a battle for the hearts and minds of young women, only to come home and open social media or talk with a friend and see or hear grown up women doing the exact same thing to each other.
Friends, our daughters will learn from us!!
Will we be bold and brave enough to teach them that another woman’s success (her great body, her amazing marriage, her new car, her successful business, her killer work out routine, her rad outfit, her awesome vacation, her advanced degree) is not equal to our failure?
Will we teach the next generation of women that when we empower another female, we empower ourselves?
Will we teach her that lifting others up and setting aside jealousy and comparison doesn’t make us less than, but rather it’s a reflection of real beauty and strength?
Will we teach her that we don’t have to like every girl, but we do have to at the very least BE KIND?
Will we teach her that mean girls are hurting girls and that the best remedy is kindness, not revenge?
I believe that in order for young women to believe this message, they must see it modeled and have opportunity to put it into practice. I want to lead the way by helping to model this message in my own life.
Recently, I heard about a girl who is having a hard time with other girls at school. Today is World Kindness Day and I determined to make it my mission to make sure she knows she’s special and valued!
★Because one of the very reasons I wanted to open Gold+Gray was so that I could use it to be a voice for this issue★
Girls, notice someone today!
Go out of your way to do a simple act of kindness for another girl.
Moms, talk to your girls about being mean.
Model for them a better way.
BE THE CHANGE YOU HOPE FOR 🖤
I’ve never been the type of girl to do things by the book. In fact, said book doesn’t even exist and not to blow everyone’s cover, but we’re all just winging it anyway.
As a new business owner, I’ve pretty much stayed true to this way of being.
For example :
I’d rather work as a team with my competition than try to beat them.
I ask models if it’s ok to post pictures before I post them. Apparently not common.
I plan a schedule around my family rather than planning my family around my schedule.
I don’t do drama, gossip, or mean girl bull shit.
I think people are more important than profit.
From the perspective of many in the entrepreneur/business world, I probably don’t fit in. But - I’m ok with that. I feel like the essence of even being an entrepreneur is to think about and do things differently than everyone else. And, if I’m real honest, I learn best from failure anyway.
So even if I read “said” book that doesn’t even exist and followed the rules, I still wouldn’t learn or be as successful as I am through the process of trying and failing.
Truth is, 2019 was an uphill battle. I started this holiday break pretty numb and tired. I allowed myself to get to the point where I was super burnt out. After the stress of moving again, a huge set back with my ex that damaged literally years of growth and healing, and still adjusting to a new version of me and new life and the change in my identity, I needed to step away from all things business related for a minute.
And in this quiet space, here’s what I’ve learned. I’m still letting go of the old me. Figuring out if the counselor in me should remain and if so, how she looks and who she is and how she fits in to my new life. The sales person I need to be doesn’t exist. I don’t like how being “sales like” feels and I don’t care enough about money to care. All I’ve ever wanted to do is make a difference. I’ve always aspired to make others’ lives better. And now that I am no longer a school counselor, my challenge is to figure out how to do that as an entrepreneur. And my challenge is to learn how to do it even though money does not motivate me (because that’s the barometer for success on this side of things).
My starting point :
Asking myself these two questions :
1 - What do I want to achieve?
2 - How will I know when I’m successful?
These are the two BIG questions I’ll be asking myself as I mediate on and envision the year of 2020. I’ll develop a plan, but hold it loosely. Loss taught me that one … and so as I forge forward into a new year that is my objective. To plan for the upcoming year but to stay open to failure and potential and opportunity and so much more learning.
Sometimes when I run I listen to loud, fast music with more than enough curse words.
Sometimes I listen to the Bible.
Go figure that one out.
As a nine on the enneagram, people can sometimes hear the label “peacemaker” and think that means passive or not assertive.
But now that I’m 42 years old and have been living with my type nine self for as long as I have, I’ve learned a few things. I’ve also been studying the enneagram for about two years now and am continually learning about all the styles, especially mine.
Running … Enneagram … Where am I going?
Well here’s what I know.
The underlying emotion of the NINE is anger (this is also the underlying emotion of some other types). An unhealthy nine can express this anger passive-aggressively. Passive meaning it’s not in your face, but it’s still very aggressive. An unhealthy nine is passive aggressive because she feels and thinks very strongly, but she is unwilling or unable to DECLARE her needs and wants.
I have learned to recognize my anger, over time, and now try really hard to use it to push me forward to the peace I desire.
Like with running. I had the best and longest run this morning that I’ve had in a while. But my life has been super stressful lately and to be honest (although you may not see it written on my face), I’ve been really pissed about it. I’ve cried, I’ve prayed, I’ve talked to friends — but what to do with that anger?
A healthy NINE is always leaning into her struggle. Always seeking the greater meaning. Always in pursuit of DECLARING her wants and needs.
Nines have a sense that all things are connected. Spiritual + Mental + Physical. Running allows me to express the anger I’m feeling in a very healthy way. Physically I benefit, but girl let me tell you mentally and spiritually the benefits are so much greater for me!
The aggressive part of my nine is someone I’m starting to really really like. I like that she sets boundaries. I like that she says NO to people and things that aren’t aligning with her belief system. I like that she runs hard and long. I like that she is accepting of everyone, but not influenced easily by others.
Because what I will fight really hard for is peace and community and integrity. I will run hard for it. I will work hard for it. I will say no to a lot of shit for it. And I will say YES to the right shit for it.
Happy running, friends. Or whatever healthy thing you do that helps you heal and grow.
And for real, if you still haven’t taken the REAL enneagram (not a fake test), go do it!! Self awareness is pretty badass ; )
If you've ever struggled with anxiety, you know it can strike at the most random of times. Like the other night when I was on a date and at dinner I started to feel panicky and my heart started to race. For no reason. I wasn't having a bad time or stressed about being on a date. It just hit me out of nowhere. Embarasssssing (lol, like most of my dates these days.)
That's an entirely different blog post.
Anxiety is freaking unpredictable. And for someone who's been through some real shit in life, I've been kind of shocked and even disappointed in myself for the amount of anxiety I have struggled with during my first year in business. I mean, in the big scheme of things this year has been nothing compared to loss and grief and other big changes in my life.
BUTTTTT, no one told me how hard this would be. I mean, I expected it to not be easy...but starting and running a business ALL alone is legit hard. Add to that being a single mom and well, enough said.
So, when the panic starts to rear it's head...I've learned some strategies that help. I'm a psychology major and love to learn about the psyche and personality, so when I did some research on anxiety and stress, I discovered a few tools that have helped me manage (not cure) this issue.
- Cold air or water to the face (this helps to shock or reset your systems and distracts your mind from focusing on the panic attack).
- Music ( for me this year, oddly enough, it's been country music that seems to help ease my anxiety).
-Running (and not just random here and there when I can fit it in...INTENTIONAL, regular work outs that physically exhaust my body are a huge help with anxiety.)
-QUIET ( radio off, tv off, complete and total quietness sometimes really helps .)
-Social Media (my feed is filled with women I respect and admire who are real about life, make me laugh, inspire and encourage me...and in that case social media has helped me ward off some of the effects of anxiety.)
-Minimizing ANY drama (keeping life real simple and hanging with those who focus on the good and real and best in me and others, helps a TON).
All that said, for some people these little strategies are laughable and stronger tools like therapy and medication are needed. Don't you dare not get help if you need it. Life is too short to let something like anxiety steal your purpose and passion. Be proactive and own your growth and healing!
As an on again off again fan of the hit TV show “Say Yes to the Dress”, I feel like the modern bride can get a bad rap. It makes for good TV, but in real life I see a trend happening with the modern bride. And my best friends wedding provides me the perfect opportunity to share with you.
Girl, I love modern weddings and I love me some love … but what I love even more is when a bride takes this ultra special day and makes it totally personal to her and her partner. This is what my friend did. And this is the trend I see happening with more and more modern brides. So, let me tell you all about her rad style.
First of all, she was the epitome of a NON-bridezilla. The wedding day wasn’t about pleasing anyone and everyone else, it was all about the two people getting married - with pieces of her loved ones intertwined all throughout her outfit.
She wore her mom’s dress (with some stylish tweaks of course) and made her own veil. Her moms vintage dress had been tucked away for some 50ish years! My friend pulled it out, did some research, had it adjusted a little, and literally looked so stunning in this dress from the 70’s! The modern bride is more concerned with meaning than money.
She decided that her shoes would be her “something blue”. This might have been, hands down, the best part of her entire look. Her open toe, ankle strap heels were a cobalt blue and totally set an “I am in love and I want everyone to know” vibe. The modern bride isn’t afraid to add her own personality to her look, especially if it adds a creative flare to what is traditional.
Her something borrowed was a simple tennis bracelet that my late husband gave to me on our 10 year wedding anniversary. The modern bride uses style to bring meaning and purpose to her day.
So, take that TLC. You don’t have to score a Pnina Tornai to have the most amazing wedding day ever.