Stories

"Write Your Story...I've Got Your Back." -God

Twenty plus years ago, I sat at my computer in a little office I created. I wanted it to be perfect. I bought an antique pine desk and nestled it in the dormer of our bedroom. I found a pretty glass lamp and used an extra dining chair that held me comfortably, as I sat cross legged with a blanket across my thighs. In that chair, at that desk, I wrote a sentence that changed my life. One sentence. 

                     my pretty pine desk

                    my pretty pine desk

After I wrote it, I sat back, surprised. Very surprised. I remember the pause as I sat in my chair. Even now, I see my shocked younger self, hands pulling away from the keys, the rise and fall of my chest as I inhaled the gift. And with that very breath, I came to know my true self. 

Where did that come from? I read the sentence over and over in a southern drawl and allowed the character that was alive inside me, the freedom to finally be. The joy was overwhelming. I looked out the window of our first home, grinning in gratitude. I found the gift God gave me in that instant of breath and God and I, well, we were having a moment. The joy we both felt was palpable and fiercely alive. 

My baby girl was napping in her nursery below me, my husband was off at work and in that stillness, at that desk, I was in the presence of God. And a  treasure of pure joy literally moved through my fingertips.

How long had I ignored my characters knock at the door? How often had God whispered, write and I, full of fear, had quickly pushed it away. The rush of adrenaline from ignoring the fear and freeing the gift, surged through me. I was awake. Finally. Aware that God finds His joy in us finding ours. I continued to write. 

We had another child, a boy. Our home grew small and we moved. My desk thoughtfully placed in a new home, a new space. The children kept me busy. I wrote here and there. My story grew and so did our family, we had two more babies and moved again. My precious time with God and my story took a back seat to raising my family; my desk, now a console table in our living room. 

When the gifts weren't used, fear crept in. Every time I'd look at my desk, I'd hear my inner critic's negative bullying. Hah, look at you, thinking you really had something there, and you’ll never finish it, so why even start? Or Who would want to read this anyway? You're wasting your time. There is an emptiness that comes with believing the lies of the critic and not pursuing your gifts. No one else knows something is missing, because it's just below the surface of everyday life, but your heart aches for more. It has too. 

About two years ago, I redesigned my life. I decided to stop the ache and kill the critic. I created the possibility of living POWERFULLY and CREATIVELY, and the moment I did...God and I, well...We REJOICED!

I pulled out my computer, prayed and got to work. The characters were right there, like they'd always been-waiting for me to believe in the gift again. I feel closest to God in these moments, which is why I write. A LOT! And here's the cool thing, I don't really care if anyone ever reads it or if anyone thinks it's even good, because I'm at peace pursuing the things that make me happy, that please God and that make me come alive in Him. Phillipains 1:6 reads, "HE WHO HAS BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL COMPLETE IT." And honestly, that is the only encouragement I need. 

Committing to living powerfully and creatively looks like this: I went on a writing retreat, I joined a weekly writing group (that I love,) I started a blog, where I am free to create, whether it's an inspiring room or a story like this one. I tried out for Listen To Your Mother with a piece I wrote about my son and was picked to be a part of the cast, I created an instagram account (@sweetshadylane) that is a feed full of rooms, vignettes and designs that inspire. Along with my novel, I dream of producing a coffee table book on decor and with God rejoicing in all my creative endeavors, I plan to finish my novel, one sentence at a time.

My pursuits have to be fearless, so everyday, with God by my side, I fight the critic. I have to. Because living out God's possibility for me is worth fighting for. I stopped worrying what others may think, do or say. No, I don't have a degree in design or even writing for that matter, and that's just the thing...Becoming your true self, means letting go of the things that get in the way. Trust me, my critic has previously mentioned those things and one of us already won that fight. 

Coco Chanel said, “beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” And isn’t that so true? That instant of time, at that pretty pine desk, was my moment.

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Canker sores, goodbye boys and getting present to love!

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In a few short weeks, my two boys, Jack and Miles will be heading off to Los Angeles. Jack will be coaching hockey for the Junior LA Kings and Miles will be attending the New York Film Academy. CALIFORNIA, I HOPE YOU ARE READY FOR THESE TWO!!!

The story of my goodbye goes like this...I woke up one morning and I had a canker sore. Gross Heather! Why are you telling us about your canker sores? I know, but it's important and you'll find out why. Later that day, I got another one. By the next morning I had two on my tongue, one on my inner lip and two on the inside of my cheek. WOW, this is really too much information! And I thought this was a blog about decorating!! Well, please hang in there, because in just a few short paragraphs you are going to see some lovely decor pictures of what 980 Shady really looks like when it is inhabited by one teenager and one young adult.

Now back to my canker sores. I had never had a canker sore on my tongue before, let alone TWO of them and the pain was REALLY bad. Worse, I couldn’t speak, eat or swallow without severe pain. If you know me at all, you know not eating would become a real challenge, not to mention that I would become a bigger challenge to be around. Really, just no fun for anyone. Especially me!

I spent sixty dollars at Walgreens and bought every canker sore medication they sold. I was desperate for relief. I called all my yoga friends and begged them to sub my classes. I sulked around my house, nearly in tears and tried to explain my discomfort to anyone that would listen. Looking back, I really was a walking, mumbling-disaster! I tried the Walgreens medicine for a few days, but nothing helped. I was thankful for sleep, but by morning, the sores would be irritated again. I was back to square one, which was no relief in site!

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Weeks before the canker sores appeared, I found myself being quite crabby towards my boys. They live in this beautiful attic space that was renovated just for them. Here's just a small window into the mess I avoid on a daily basis. Here's picture of what it looks like when Jack and Miles attempt to do their laundry. SCARY! I know! I mean why bother taking out the leather belt in your shorts? Mom will do it anyway!

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Needless to say, when I'm not cleaning up everyday messes, I am left to deal with their frequent mini tornadoes. A fun highlight happened a few months ago when I was prepping the house for a party. I decided to take a quick peek at their bathroom before the guests arrived. This is what I found... After my heart attack, I asked the boys about the stickers. They both panicked and said, "Don't take those down! You didn't did you?" That fun little exchange left me speechless, walking away positive that they were clearly NOT my children!

In my already irritated state, I was bothered by everything! Their laundry, their friends, the gross dishes full of old Chinese food that they didn't even bother to rinse out, the chores that were ignored, the dirty socks all over house, the smell that came from their room, the X-box controllers and TV left on and not to mention their beautiful tiled shower that was now covered in skateboarding stickers!

You name it, I was irritated by it! So you get the picture right? I was a cranky mom and at the time, I really didn't know why. On top of my frustrations-I noticed that anytime my husband and I talked about the boys leaving, I would feel an irritating lump form in the back of my throat and would quickly deflect the conversation to something else. Looking back, I see that CLEARLY I was avoiding feeling what was really present. And yes, this is leading up to why I had so many canker sores!

My sister, Holly called me and I painstakingly tried to tell her about my canker sores. Remember, it is literally quite hard to speak. First, she was laughing, because I sounded like I had been to the dentist and my face was numb. I told her that I couldn’t speak and she quickly had compassion as she knew how painful they could be.

She asked, “Is there something you need to say to someone?” I said, “What do you mean?” She replied, “well, I believe that canker sores are a sign of not saying what needs to be said.” I said, “Ummm, listen crazy lady, I don’t think so, I believe they are a virus of some kind.” We continued the conversation and I told her I was going to make a doctor appointment. Lucky for me, the doctor could see me that day. I was thrilled! Finally, I was going to get some relief.

As I sat with the doctor, I was sure she would prescribe something to make the pesky little buggers disappear. I quickly listed off everything I had tried, how much pain I was experiencing, how I couldn’t eat and I eagerly waited for her to start typing up a prescription. Instead, she stopped typing, looked at me and asked a very simple question.

“Heather, is there an area in your life that has caused you stress?” I paused, a bit irritated that she hadn't already prescribed something. I looked at her and mumbled, "you know, my boys are moving in a few weeks and I think I’m sad." Ahhh! There it was! The truth! All of a sudden, I was present to my love for my boys and the tears started to flow!

And just so we are clear on how present...You know that scene in "Raising Arizona" where Holly Hunt is hysterically crying about loving someone? Well, that's kinda how I felt! Click the play button to see how my own hysterics were played out. [embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GIyTFl4Cb4[/embed] Thankfully my doctor is patient and kind and just let me "feel."

My doctor is a mother of a young boy and I said what every adult said to me…"Enjoy every minute, because it goes by too fast." I made a promise to myself that I would share what I was feeling with my boys.

“Boys, I have been cranky and irritable and I have a mouth full of canker sores and I realized today that there is something I have been needing to say to you both. I’m going to miss you both so much! And just getting and being present to that feeling makes me cry, but they are tears of gratitude because I have been given a great love for you both. I thank God for the presence of His love in my life and the gifts He has given me in the two of you. My beautiful boys, how lucky I am to love so big.”

With in minutes, the replies where “ I love you mom.” And they even added little emoji hearts!

I felt such freedom in sharing my love that I almost failed to notice that my mouth wasn’t hurting anymore. I swallowed and it was effortless. My first thought was, get this lady some food!! No, but really I couldn't believe that my sister was right! I was holding onto love when it desperately wanted to be given away. My body was trying to tell me something and now I was finally listening. When I got home, I couldn't help but smile at all the silly nuances of living with teenage boys. I found the details of their daily living quite charming. I thought, who has time for a "perfect" home anyways? Joyfully, I knew the answer was not me!

I was so blown away by the concept of body and emotion, that I themed a whole yoga class on it. I always say in my classes, “fully present, fully alive!” Funny how for weeks, I ignored my own advice. I shared my experience with my students at Core Power Yoga and I encouraged them to create a clearing by sharing and saying what needs to be said to the people in their own lives.

“I don’t know what it is or who it is. Maybe it’s a simple thank you, maybe it’s an I’m sorry or I forgive you. Maybe it’s I love you or have I told you lately how special you are in my life. Or maybe it’s as simple as mine was, I’m just going to miss you so much.”

As I ended with that declaration, I felt the tears well up and that familiar lump in my throat and instead of running from the present moment, I just sat there with my students and it was lovely and beautiful, because it was true.

Saying goodbye to Heathcote...

We currently live in an idyllic neighborhood and I mean one that rivals Mayberry. We know every neighbor by their first name. We know their kids and the schools they attend. We know which dogs belong to whom. It is a neighborhood where both doors and hearts are wide open and everyone seems to find the time to simply connect. Often, Jay and I will be on a walk when a neighbor will push their front door wide open just to say "Hello!"

Needless to say, it is not going to be easy to say "Goodbye".

This realization hit me a few weeks ago as our eldest daugther, Emmie (20), packed up her room at the end of her winter break. As Emmie placed her belongings into boxes, the memories of her childhood rushed to greet her. It is no surprise that there would be tears...Leaving something so special behind is hard.

Jay and I were waiting to bring her to the airport and heard her as she walked down the same stairs she had run down so many times as child, a teenager and now a young woman. I heard the familiar sound of her steps and then a big pause. She took a deep breath and as she turned the corner, the tears came. Jay and I wrapped our arms around her, in tears ourselves and tried to comfort her with the only words we could find, "we know sweetie, we know."

We have raised four children in this wonderful neighborhood full of families. Within seconds of opening the back door, Emmie could be eating pancakes with Katie at the Friedlander's kitchen counter or building a fort made out of sticks in their back yard. If she wasn't at the Fried's house, you could find her sitting by the fire at the Holden's, indulging in Ellie's home baked goods with Abbey. (And let's not forget her first kiss in the woods, otherwise known by the kids as "the village"!)

It won't be long before Jack (18), Miles (15) and Ruby (13) have to say their goodbyes and Ruby has been pointing out an abundance of "lasts" for quite some time now...Mom, that was the last time I will walk over to Josie's house." I couldn't help but picture the thousands of times Ruby has walked or pedaled her way over to the Lacombe's.

For Jack and Miles it will be good-bye to our yard that served as a make-shift battle field for a pretend army as well as a great snow mobile trail! They will miss the memories they created with Jack Holden, like the makeshift yard sale they held out of their red flyer wagon, halloween nights with Emmett and the rest of the neighborhood boys. The countless dips in the Holden's pool. They will all remember lunch bunch, bike rides on the trail, swimming at the Wyer's and night games with the entire neighborhood.

Needless to say, there was never a dull moment for any of the kids growing up, TOGETHER on Heathcote!

And, of all the things to miss, Jack will surely miss our driveway most of all!  Asphalt?  Yes! But, to a kid growing up loving the game of hockey, that driveway has served as the ice during the final game of the Stanley cup - with roaring crowds cheering him on as he scores the winning goal!

So many beautiful moments in our children's lives...I am so full of gratitude.  Next week, the rest of us will say our goodbyes and I'm sure there will be tears. But for now, I want to embrace the memories and the love and affection we have had for this neighborhood and its families.

I want to say... THANK YOU, HEATHCOTE!!

Sixteen years ago, we arrived as a couple of twenty-somethings with then a small family. We were enamored with the 4th of July parades, the ice-cream socials and the 100% participation of the street lined Christmas luminaries. We found comfort in the daily sights and sounds of the neighborhood...Dogs barking, kids biking, swinging, laughing. We were the youngest couple in the hood and you, our neighbors, unconditionally invited us, one by one, into your book club, ornament exchanges, tool exchanges (remember those?)...Your homes and your hearts. You showed us what good parenting looked like. You taught us how to "keep" a home and the true meaning of "neighbor!"

We have fallen madly in love with the beautiful families of Heathcote...And for this, we will be forever grateful. Thank You.

14 years ago, we built a white picket fence that spans the whole yard to keep our kids safe. Every year since, I have taken pictures of the kids in front of this fence...I'd say "get in front of the fence," and they would all moan and groan. Thankfully, they appeased their mom just one last time.

I didn't realize at the time, but this is the last picture taken in front of the fence!
I didn't realize at the time, but this is the last picture taken in front of the fence!