Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

The Power of One

I have to say, mustering up as much humility as I can, that I’m extremely proud and honored to be a commissioned chaplain with the Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy Service. It is one of the most beautiful examples I know of people of all faiths setting aside their differences and coming together around a common purpose – to love their neighbor. It’s a unique and powerful model that I hope every city will imitate. Click here to find out about it!

Today I had a chaplain’s call out that was very inspiring. A woman who lived on Social Security, in low-income housing, and had suffered multiple physical ailments passed away in her apartment last night. She was missed this morning by all her friends in the neighboring apartments. You see, every morning she would sit out on her step and greet her neighbors as they came and went – to get their mail, walk their dogs, or go to their cars. She would buy groceries for ailing neighbors, drive them to their doctors’ appointments, or cook them meals when they needed a little help. She would loan them money if they were a little short, and always had a pot of coffee on for those who wanted to come over and chat. She was a supporter, encourager, and all around kind human being. So when she was not on her step this morning and her dog was in her apartment barking, the neighbors knew something was wrong and called 911. Her simple acts of kindness created a community that did not exist before her arrival in this complex. I got to sit with a dozen of her neighbors in an impromptu memorial in the carport outside her apartment while they hugged each other, shared stories, cried, and promised to continue her legacy by looking out for each other. None of these people knew each other before her arrival in the complex. Now they are making plans to share Thanksgiving together in her honor.

In this fragmented world where so many lonely people hide behind their locked doors, one person can be the glue that pulls a community together. We all long for community – maybe, just maybe, our community is longing for us to call it forth.

Say hello to your neighbor today. Your smile just might change a life.

Be The Chooser

At Lake Tahoe with Steve to celebrate our anniversary, review and renew our goals, have some much needed time together enjoying Autumn in this beautiful place, and spend time reading and preparing for my upcoming Break Through Into Love coaching group for single women over 30. And Wallace came too.

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In the book I’m reading, Conscious Dating by David Steele, he has this quote that grabbed me.

“Choosers know what they want and how to get it. Choosers take responsibility for what happens and know that they are in charge of their lives. Being a Chooser takes a certain amount of confidence and effort, but anyone can be one! Finding the love of your life is not about hoping to be picked. You need to know yourself so that you can be The Chooser, rather than waiting to be chosen. Being The Chooser means taking initiative and responsibility for your outcomes: you are in charge of creating what you want in life. You do not restrict yourself to what or who chooses you.”

What do you think about that? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It makes me think about how I was raised. I picked up the messages that first as a child and then as a woman I am to wait to be chosen. I grew up with some old fashioned ideas – many of which I celebrate – but some of which I now question. This is one of them. So much of my life has been spent waiting to be chosen, waiting to be noticed and recognized, not only in relationships with men but also in other areas of life.

When we’re not The Chooser, we’re the Victim. We get to settle for the life that we have; and we get to blame our mother, our boss, our ex-husband, our ex-best friend, our neighbor, the other driver, anyone else; and we get to be right about it.

Think of an area in your life that you’re not completely satisfied with. How have you let circumstances or other people dictate who you will be in this area? Now consider what might be possible if you became The Chooser in this area. What choices are available to you? Is it really the circumstances or other people who are keeping you stuck here? Or is it instead your own choice? Perhaps changing the situation might require some bold risky action that you have been unwilling to take. Recognizing that you have CHOSEN this part of your life and you are responsible, might change your perspective about it. How might your relationship to this situation change if you owned it like that? How might that affect how you relate to others?

I’m really looking forward to exploring this more deeply with my Break Through Into Love Coaching group for Single Women over 30, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. I have three seats left in the group which starts Wednesday, October 19. If you, or someone you love, are considering this group, now is the time to contact me.

Eleven Years Ago Yesterday, I Married my Best Friend.

So, what did we do for our anniversary? Sat across from each other in the living room with our dueling laptops to see who got their post written first! Then we celebrated with dinner and a movie.

I love writing, but it can take me the whole day to put one of these things together! Arrgghh! I need to speed up, or just retire and be a full-time writer. How does Kim do it?

But there was Steve across the room, tap-tap-tapping away. I had to get tapping too. Nothing like a little marital competition to get the juices flowing.

Steve is actually a really good writer. I did not know this about him before we were married. I’m an English teacher for goodness sake! He, on the other hand, actually writes. Sigh. He’s thoughtful about it, like he is about everything he does. He types with two fingers. I type with twelve.

I discovered his gift for words in the MIDDLE of our wedding. We each had written a portion of our vows, then read them to each other in the ceremony. I had been rushed with all the wedding preparations and had put off writing the vows (Procrastination is the name of one of my personal gremlins). Steve had given himself some time and space to hear his own heart in what he wanted to say. So when he read his vows to me during the ceremony, his words were so deep, intimate, personal, and straight out of his heart with tears in his eyes, I began to tremble. First because I was so moved by the huge pulsating heart that came with this man I was marrying. And second because I was next!

My vows felt flat and superficial compared to his. Not that we should be comparing or anything (but Comparison is the name of another personal gremlin). What I learned from my husband that day was, take the time to go deep, and marry a man with a giant heart!

So, here’s where I put in my shameless plug for my Break Through Into Love coaching group. This is an opportunity for single women over 30 to experience the benefits of working with a professional coach, while creating a small community who can support each other along the way.

In preparation, I’ve been reading the book Conscious Dating by David Steele. As I read, I’m beginning to get a clearer picture about why I made Steve wait five long years – and why it took me until I was 40 (FORTY) to get married.

We all get stuck at times in patterns that keep us from living the life we were created for. Sometimes, all it takes is a small shift in our perspective and new choices appear that we didn’t know we had.

Ah, if only…. We might be celebrating our fifteenth anniversary today!

I’m realizing that for most of my 20s and 30s I was unconsciously dating. Drifting into and out of whatever relationship presented itself. I longed oh so much to fall in love and to have someone sweep me off my feet. But I see now that I was for most of those two decades incapable of such a feat. Here’s why.

A. I had a false image of myself. I had constructed a fantasy out of who I thought the people I looked up to wanted me to be.
B. Because of A., I had no idea how to love another; I was too busy looking for someone who would help me fulfill my fantasy.
C. Because of B., I got into relationships with men I didn’t love. And of course, it never worked.
D. Because of C., I broke a lot of hearts: Genuine, honest men, who cared about me and were seriously looking for a life partner. Eventually, as they would get more serious, I would get more panicky until I would break it off.

Finally, after hitting the wall in a disastrous relationship, I stopped – swore off men, and began meeting informally with a coach, and my entire perspective on life began to shift. When I began to let go of the false image of myself, and lift my eyes outward, I began to see Steve, maybe for the first time. When I stopped focusing on who he isn’t, I began to see and appreciate who he is. The more I let go of my old perspective, the more deeply in love with him I fell. Within a year, we were engaged.

That’s why I’m such a believer in coaching and why I want to offer the opportunity to single women over 30 to gain clarity about this most important choice.

If you’re stuck in an unproductive pattern in your relationships, check in with your own heart. What view of yourself are you trying to hold on to? What might be possible if you were to release it? I’d love to hear your comments.

If you know a single woman over 30 who lives in Sonoma County and who is looking forward to life-long love, please let her know about the Break Through Into Love group coaching program beginning October 19. And let her know about my free Evening of Hope, happening this Wednesday, October 5, where she’ll get to experience new possibilities in her life and perspective.

Ha! My post got done first. 🙂

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Well, dear friends. It’s been more than a month since my last post. I so want to post more often – but my wee little break on Fridays! Glorious Fridays! – has been filled this summer with the project I mentioned in my July 10 post on The Great Birthday Massacre.

I’ve been cooking up a new coaching program for single women over 30 who would like to be married.

To see it, check out my new Break Through Into Love page.

I’m a big fan of strong, healthy relationships and marriages. I think they’re foundational to EVERYTHING else! Call me old fashioned – but I think that many of our nation’s current woes are directly or indirectly connected to a breakdown in relationships – starting with family.

I’m also a big fan of strong, healthy singleness. Strong, healthy singles are not half people waiting for their “better half”. They are whole and complete in themselves – capable of changing the world in ways married folks only dream about. Their singleness can be their greatest asset and gift. There are more opportunities than ever before for single people to do great things and have powerful fulfilling lives.

But if it’s time to transition from successful single to successful married, especially in today’s confusing and fragmented culture, the challenge can be overwhelming. Preparing yourself, finding your life partner, and setting your relationship up for success is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, honesty, humility, and a really good sense of humor, not to mention patience and perseverance. If you’re over 30, you’ve probably already experienced some set backs in this arena which can be challenging to overcome. I know, I didn’t get married until I was 40.

That’s why I’ve been reading up, interviewing singles, doing some coaching, and tapping into my own experience and training to develop this program.

I’m very excited to launch my pilot Break Through Into Love coaching group on October 19.

This first group will be local – right here in Sonoma County – in my own living room.

After that – well – we’ll just see where it goes. I’d like to make this available to women outside this area as well.

If you’re single, and over 30, and a woman, and you think you’re ready to make the transition…. and you live in the vicinity of Santa Rosa, California …. (or if you know someone who fits these criteria) then check out my offering. It could change your life.

Contact me for more information and please tell your friends.

The Great Birthday Massacre!

Hello Friends,

Friday was my birthday, so I thought it was about time for me to come back and post on my dusty old blog again. I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since my Fiftieth Birthday Journey. I’ve been reminiscing, reading the old postings, looking at the pictures, and missing my girlfriends.

I’ve taken some time away from the blog to re-tool and re-focus why I started this blog in the first place. I’m passionate about relationships – healthy ones. And I hope to challenge you and support you into creating healthy thriving relationships in your own life. And I’m challenging myself along the way.

I’m working on a project with my coaching practice that I’m very excited about. I’ll be sharing that with you in the coming weeks. But for now, let me tell you about my great birthday massacre.

It all started in March. I had decided to try growing my tomatoes from seed this year – to see what might happen. I followed the directions on the seed packets – well for the most part. I made holes in the soil about 18 inches apart and dropped a few seeds into each one and covered them up.

Now, the directions on the seed packet say to thin the tomatoes once they get to be a few inches tall.

We’ve had a strange spring with lots of cold late rain. And when it finally got nice out, I had other plans on the weekends…. So with all that rain, followed by beautiful sun, and in really good organic soil, along with some neglect on my part, my tomatoes took off. Tall and beautiful and compacted together in the bed like one giant tomato bush. Without a single tomato.

Notice the chopped off nubs of former soil-mates.

Notice the chopped off nubs.

They had become enmeshed with each other. They didn’t need structural supports like other tomatoes do, they had each other. Clinging tightly together, their leaves shaded each other, preventing the sun from reaching the lower leaves. Their roots competed for nutrients from the soil, and their top stems stretched to find whatever sun they could catch. There was no energy left to make any fruit.

Steve, bless his heart, enrolled our dear friend, and master gardener Richard, to come over and help. It was my birthday present! Richard handed me clippers and said for each of the tomato groupings, I needed to pick one to save and cut the rest off at the root. Oh the humanity! The agony. Cutting off healthy tomato stems and casting them in the compost heap! It was a tragic massacre. By the time we were done, my poor garden looked sparse and pathetic. The plants that were left were too weak to stand on their own and needed immediate support. The stems were long with scrawny spread apart leaves. Steve and Richard worked together to build supports for the plants, and I tied them up carefully. Now each one has something solid to cling too. There’s room around them so the sun shines on the lower reaches and air circulates around them. I realize now how emaciated my poor plants had become.

Each individual plant needs its own external Frame, its own access to the sun and soil, or it will never produce fruit.

Too week to stand alone.

Too weak to stand alone

Made me think about relationships in my life. I have been in relationships, heck in a whole community, that was so enmeshed together that we had each become like those emaciated plants. We looked great together from a distance, but look at us closely as individuals, and we had become too week and frail to stand on our own, and we bore very little fruit.

How healthy are your relationships? Are you so dependent on each other that if one of you moves the other will fall down? OR do you each have something that individually supports you? Your own faith, your own sense of self? Do you give each other enough space to receive the warmth of the sun and the nourishment of the earth? Not sure? Take a look at the fruit. If you are each thriving, there will be fruit. Don’t see fruit? Consider what boundaries need to be negotiated into your relationships so that each of you can begin to thrive. Healthy relationships encourage us to dig our roots deep and open to the source of our nourishment directly. They don’t make us dependent; they make us strong and fruitful.

Rebuilding Community. Let the sunshine in!

Sandy

Sandy and I met probably about twenty years ago at church when I first moved to Santa Rosa. However, we didn’t really become friends until she moved in with Harrah around 1994.

Harrah had initiated a little group of seven friends for the purpose of supporting and loving each through all the changes in life that would be coming our way. We called ourselves the seven sisters. I know some people were a bit hurt by our exclusive little club, and we tried to not be so exclusive… but you can guess how well that worked. We did adopt some honorary members along the way.

We all had a relationship with Harrah though not necessarily with each other, though we all were in some way acquainted. Over the years, our little group has evolved. Everyone has moved out of town except for me, which has been a bit painful since I became pretty attached to this wonderful group of women. Hence my fiftieth birthday gift to myself. Most everyone stays in touch with one or a few of the others. Some have drifted away. Some have worked hard to stay close. Harrah is like the Mom who at least tries to stay connected. We all have little gifts we’ve given to each other. Like the Claddagh ring I wear. Everyone has one, but I think I’m the only one who still wears mine. I even wore it at my wedding to symbolize my commitment to hold my friendships close to my heart even as I took vows to my husband. We have taken turns giving each other little men… We’ve had some fun with this one! We’ve had a few reunions, though it’s been quite a while since the last one.

Sandy was Harrah’s housemate and was part of the seven sisters. This is how we started to become close. Then as one by one those we were closest too moved away, and as I got married, Sandy and I began to gravitate more and more to each other. We were involved in several projects together, a marriage workshop called One Accord, The Gap Youth Training, and finally Friends On Purpose.

She was also the girlfriend I would call to go do girl things. She was the one I’d call to help me decorate a room, or go shopping. I’m not a shopper, but Sandy is a master at it. She was a confident and dear friend.

Then… she left me too. Married Paul and ran off to Hawaii. I was her Matron of Honor and sobbed through the entire toast. Sigh…. It really is all about me! When she left, she generously gave to me many of the lovely things she had collected on her many shopping excursions. Beautiful garden pots, art work, throw blankets, etc. I have little reminders of Sandy all over my house.

Steve and I went a few years ago, on my birthday, to Oahu to visit Sandy and Paul. We spent the 4th of July and my birthday with them before heading to Kauai for vacation.

When Sandy and Paul came to Santa Rosa to visit they stayed with us. I came home from work one day, and found Sandy busy in the back yard planting lovely flowers in all the empty pots she had given me the year before. She had purchased the plants, the soil, the mulch, and the fertilizer. I jumped in to help, and she taught me all about how to plant arrange and care for flowers so that they would look fabulous for a long time. All the rest of that summer I had an amazing show garden that made me smile with joy and gratitude every time I visited it. Now, every spring I plant my flowers and think of Sandy – and wish she were here to enjoy the process with me. Everything is so much better when shared with a friend.

Fried Okra

Fryin' up the Okra with Sandy

When I was young, my mom, who is from Texas, used to make fried Okra. I loved it. Like most things otherwise considered nasty, Mom would get us to eat it by smothering it with sauce. i.e. broccoli and cauliflower always came smothered in melted cheese, cooked spinach always came with a hefty dose of a yummy pepper vinegar sauce. Liver was always buried under a pile of sautéed onions (this one never worked though. It’s liver after all…). Okra was no different, and being a good Texas girl, Mom kept to her roots even while raising her family in California. She’d slice it really thin, dip it in egg, then in corn meal, and fry it in oil. (My grandmother used Crisco ’cause “they didn’t know any better back then”). Then you serve it with ketchup. Simple.

So – being here in Louisiana, I asked Sandy about getting us some good Southern Fried Okra. I had some with Kim in North Carolina, but I think they use flour instead of corn meal. Sandy had NEVER had it (and frankly wasn’t very excited about the prospect)! So I told her about my mom’s yummy recipe. We called my mom and got the instructions. First you slice it into really thin pinwheels, quarter of an inch or less. Then you dip it in egg, followed by cornmeal. Fry it in hot oil until very crisp. Serve with ketchup. This takes all the sliminess out of it.

So here I am the Texas to California transplant teaching my dear England to California to Hawaii to Louisiana transplant friend how to cook good Southern Fried Okra.

To make it fun, we called our friend Roy… the same one who took the photos of Sandy’s house. Roy was born and raised in Louisiana, not far from here, transplanted to California, then back to Austin, Texas. Not only is Roy a great photographer, but he’s known back home in California as a world-class chef. Roy, of all people should know how to cook fried Okra. So we called him. Notice the cell phones on the counter while Sandy and I are cooking. Turns out Roy HATES Okra. (See yesterday’s sermon about hate, dear Roy). His mom had tried to get him to eat it in some kind of soup and it was slimy and yucky. Won’t touch the stuff. Sandy had a similar experience when her mom was out of town and left Sandy and her sister with some canned food, including a can of slimy okra to eat. Poor poor dears. They didn’t have MY Texas mother to fry it up nice and crisp for them.

We followed Mom’s recipe, and sho ‘nuf, turned out great. Everyone loved it. Some went back for seconds. Only thing we would change would be to add more seasoning to the egg or corn meal for flavor. Crunchy and delicious. I just love being right.