Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crazy Little Thing Called Life

Life really is a crazy thing.  

The last couple of years has brought about so many changes, realizations and experiences.  From the loss of my sister, to the opening of my coaching and speaking business (Woman UP),  to the launching of kids into the world, to the transitions of my own aging... each new thing has brought a new realization.

Today, on the anniversary of my sister's passing - who was the same age I am now, I am feeling reflective about the things that I have learned about life.  So, bear with me, humor me, or reflect with me while I share.

What 45 years has taught me about life: 

  • It takes you on twists and turns that seldom fit into your plan. 
  • It brings you joys and challenges that you would never expect.  
  • It is painful in ways that break you down, but also in ways that allow you to be rebuilt stronger.
  • It provides opportunity for joy and service - IF you open your heart to those opportunities. 
  • It is intrusive when you choose to let it happen TO you, but a bit more polite when YOU happen to it. 
  • It is both happy and sad. 
  • It doesn't happen solely on the mountaintops or in the depths - it happens mostly at the horizon. 
  • It provides you with what you need, and what you don't. 
  • It is mixed up, but so ordered at the same time. 
  • It's full of colors blended in every way possible, but also starkly black and white. 
  • It rolls on whether we want it to or not. 
  • It is turned upside down, but always rights itself. 
  • It is either suffocating or liberating - depending on what we CHOOSE it to be. 
  • It is individual to each of us, yet so dependent upon others. 
  • It brings and it takes. 
  • It WILL bring moments, events, and experiences that you will never understand.
  • It will bring you wisdom if you listen to it. 
  • It is unexpected but expectant of us. 
  • It resists being controlled, yet requires us to take control.
  • It has its own balance - regardless of how we try to define it. 
  • It runs in a time structure that is known only to it - and no matter how hard we try to schedule it, it doesn't change its structure. 
  • It shows us, ultimately the things that are important. 
  • It craves being cherished. 
  • It despises being wasted. 
  • It wants to be stamped with our unique marks and purpose. 

Ultimately, what what this list shows me  is that "existing" is easy. - that's just a matter of showing up and breathing.  BUT LIVING.... LIFE... it's complicated, it's messy, it's joyful, it's painful, it's necessary, and it's worth it.  We can take charge of it, but we can't always control it.  That's OK.  We just need to honor it by bringing our best to it. Life really is a crazy thing.

Are you honoring life by bringing your best to it?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Launching Planets

Today I dropped my youngest child off to take her SAT tests.

You'd think that after having gone through this two other times, having a child in her mid 20's and out of college, and another that's almost 20 and halfway through college, I'd be a pro at this whole letting them go thing.  Truth be told, it was pretty easy with the first two... not that I wanted to let them go, but I guess there was a bit of knowing that I still had time before they were all gone.  But today, when I dropped off my baby for the test, I actually welled up.

Now I'm not saying that I will be totally lost in my empty nesting years.  I will miss having my house filled with the giggly laughter, the excitement of boyfriends and dances and girl time, and yes even the hormonal tension and fighting that happens when the three teen girls and their mother occupy the same space. But I am looking forward to knowing and growing me, and knowing and growing my husband and I as a couple again.

As much as I know there is before me, I will miss what is in the chapter behind me. Motherhood (as is fatherhood) was a time of me growing, teaching and guiding my children into being productive, independent and contributing members of society.  That was my job  - to parent them and to let them go into the world. It is an awesome responsibility, but also an awesome privilege and time of learning for me.

It's funny, how when we are awaiting their arrival into the world, they are our sun. We are like a planet that's orbit - our time, space, effort, and life revolve around the day the sun born. Then the moment they are born, we become one as they depend on every thing from us, and us from them.  Slowly they gain independence and start breaking away, often in fiery fashion, like the solar flares and explosions. As time moves forward and we do our job, the separation process cools down. We equip them to be whole and complete in the world, able to sustain life, support living, and be abundant.  And when the planet is complete, we become more like the moon, being a shining spot bringing them light, but letting them find a new sun to shine on them.

As I was driving away and welling up, I felt the honor, the privilege, the learning experience, and the joy it is to have raised my babies.  I am not perfect in my job as parent.  No one is. But I have done a pretty good job at bringing up three independent, self sufficient, and good people - planets... I realized that my job as parent, was launching planets.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

A Memorial Day Walk
Photo By  Rebekah Mozilo
The AZ Mom of Many Hats Blog has been quiet for a while.  I have not abandoned it, but I have slowed down posting a bit as I have been making some life changes - professional certifications, opening my coaching and speaking business - Woman Up Movement, and launching my children into the world as self sufficient and good human beings.

As I sit here this morning, it strikes me that it is  in this great country, where my family has a long history and commitment to freedom - dating back to the Mayflower and The American Revolution, that I have the opportunity to discover, rediscover, live out my passions and purpose, raise my children in faith of my choice, speak the words of my heart with freedom, and the freedom to work in a field of my choice and reap the benefits of my hard work.

On this day, I am so eternally grateful to those who lived and died in service, so that today, May 26, 2014, that my children and  I would be able to live our lives in freedom.  The post below, holds special meaning to me in that it is a shared experience with one of my daughters. It also holds special meaning in what each person gave to defend the rights and freedoms of all who call the USA home.

A Memorial Day Walk

Not long ago, I took my daughter to the Veterans Cemetery in our town.  She is an avid and very talented photographer and was drawn to the emotion, the landscape, and the composition of the cemetery.  As a tribute to those that served in the military and our country, she wanted to capture a respectful and beautiful image of what is often remembered as a dark and sad place.

The Cemetery is along a major road that we travel often so we catch a glimpse of it regularly.  But when on days when there is a national celebration of Veterans and Service Persons, or on days when another is committed back to the earth after a life of service or a sacrifice in service, it is even more noticeable. On those days, the land is peppered with the colors that represent the freedoms we have in the United States. The usually brown and grey desert landscape is brightened by the Red White and Blue.

Service support groups lovingly and patiently place a flag at each headstone at the cemetery. I thought of that loving service that they provided as we walked through the rows of headstones on the day I took my daughter to capture the images.  What a wonderful tribute and show of appreciation on the part of the organizations so dedicated to making sure our service members have the colors they served adorn their resting places.

But, as we we walked through the headstones and eventually parted directions, my focus shifted as I began reading the epitaphs.

I saw the awards, medals, and commendations by those that lay beneath.  The dates etched in the stones so clearly defined the moments in history that they walked the earth, served their country, and fought for our freedoms.  The realizations that some had long life and others only a brief walk on this earthly home sat on my heart as I could only try to feel the sacrifice that not only they, but their families gave so I had the freedom to live my life in the way that I wanted to. Whether they had a good and successful life outside of service or struggled upon coming back to the life that so many of us take for granted, each of them in their time was a hero.

My daughter and I met up again and gazed at the rows of seemingly unending flags surrounding us. We spoke in quiet respect about the gratitude an bravery of the men and women that we briefly came to know through the stories on their headstones.  Somber words of what the service personnel and their families endured as they were separated for long periods of time, and for some through the loss of their loved one were choked back. We were both moved - me in internal emotion, her in creative emotion through her photographs.  We both left the cemetery that day with our hearts full of thanks to every man and woman that has served in person or has served in supporting their loved one in service to others.  We were both changed.

To every woman and man that has, is or will ever serve this great country, THANK YOU! And to every family that is home waiting for their loved one who is serving, THANK YOU! Each one of us that calls the U.S. home is indebted to you for giving of yourself and your loved ones, so that we have the choices and freedoms that allow us the opportunity to live a good and free life.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Truth About Will Power!

"I can't seem to get started.  "
"Being healthy is hard.  It takes too much work."
"I tried it once, and I just can't seem to stick to it. I don't have the will power!"

I hate the term "will power".  It's a term that always has a have or don't have attached to it.  If someone tries to make a change and doesn't the reason is that they don't have will power.  If someone accomplishes a tough goal that requires sustained effort and change, it is credited to the fact that they do have will power.  Will power becomes a trait of the haves and the have nots.


Everyone has will power.

Every day,  you make voluntary decisions (not the involuntary decisions like breathing and blinking) based on will.    Albeit the process of decision making can be very quick and very subconscious, you still make decisions - you exercise your will.  You have power to exercise your will - or, will power.

You know that cookie in the cupboard that is calling your name? That is will power.  If you know it is something you should not have but have it anyway, your will powered you to partake, not to abstain.  If you abstain, your will powered you to walk away rather than partake. Will power can be positive and move you towards where you want to be. Will power can be negative and keep you away or move you further away from where you want to be.  The difference in the direction will power takes you is choice.

WOMAN UP!  You ALWAYS have choice. Own the choice. Account for the choice. Manage the choice.

If you say you have no choice, you are not owning the power of your free will and you are fooling yourself.  If you say there is NOTHING you can do to move you toward the positive side of will power, you are not taking accountability for your exercise of choice.  If you say that this is just the way it is and you just have to live with the negative side of will, you are making excuses - you are not managing the power or choice that you've been given.

Even if you can't choose to step into the positive side of will power in the blink of an eye, you can own your choice and will power, and choose to move in small increments toward that direction-seek out help and information,  or a support group.  Be accountable for your  will power and choice by changing an attitude about your will, realizing that it is not responsible for you, you are responsible for you. Manage your will and change in a way that is sustainable by making one small change at a time, or by looking for things you are already doing or are capable of doing that will move you toward your goals. Each thing you do to change direction moves you one step closer to the goal line.  Each thing you do powers your will toward your goal rather than away from it.

With all of that being said, realize that if at times your choices in your will don't move you in the positive direction, it does not mean you have failed. It means you are human! But also realize that if you tend to not be making overall progress in the positive direction, you need to step back and reassess. You are the ONLY one accountable for your will power.  Don't permanently give that part of your personal power away to anything.

Your will is amazingly powerful.  Steward it in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I Hate Pink Ribbons

I hate pink ribbons....

As I sit here at my screen, I am looking at a jar of hand cream.

It is an unassuming jar - nothing really that special about the cream itself. It's not imported or infused with oils, scents, or the latest antioxidants.  But still this jar of hand cream is catching me, and weighing heavy on my heart.  I don't move it because it is a connection I have to my sister.

I hate pink ribbons....

This jar of hand cream is the jar that my sister used during her battle with inflammatory breast cancer.  Her chemo and treatment were so harsh on her skin, that she had to bath her burning, itching, peeling skin during her 4 year and 9 month long life and death battle with a bitch, a demon, a monster of a disease.

I hate pink ribbons... 

As a family with a history of breast cancer, we were MORE than AWARE of breast cancer.  My sisters and I have had regular mammograms, done self-exams, and had clinical exams.  Some of us had them earlier than the "recommended" age. We looked for the symptoms that the happy, pinkified campaigns suggested. We always looked for the lump. We were aware. And we didn't know what we didn't know.

I hate pink ribbons...

Still, my sister had symptoms of breast cancer for months and didn't know.  She was diagnosed at stage IV of inflammatory breast cancer.  SHE HAD NO LUMP.  She had what she thought was a rash. She had some swelling that she attributed to being lopsided.  She had a dimply - orange peel like texture to her breast that she thought had to do with hormones or the rash.

I hate pink ribbons. 

None of what we were aware of ever told us to stop and take a good LOOK at our breasts. We weren't aware of the symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer. With as many pink ribbons as we saw, as many lumps we looked for, as "aware" as we were as a family, none of us knew about this type of breast cancer and these symptoms. We learned pretty damn quickly that this type of breast cancer leaves women with only a 35-40% 5 year survival prognosis. My sister died 4 years and 9 months after her diagnosis. We learned that it is a less common type of cancer but a very aggressive cancer that is diagnosed at a younger average age than other types of breast cancer. We learned very quickly that it often does not manifest in the form of a lump. We learned that there are visual changes that can accompany IBC, that we were not aware of. (For more information about IBC - inflammatory breast cancer visit The IBC Network, and see the sister check graphic above for possible visual cues. )

I hate pink ribbons...

So why do I hate pink ribbons? I hate them because they do not tell the whole story.  The pink ribbon has become the symbol of the "cause of awareness".  I hear slogans of "support awareness"- just what the hell does that mean? At this point in history, if you are not aware that there is something called breast cancer you have lived your life under a rock.  I hear of parents fighting for their kids right to wear a band with the word "boobies" on it as a matter of their right to free speech and belief.  I see retailers and businesses pushing pink in "support", but fail to mention if any of your purchase supports anything.  I see the pink ribbon associated with community, and happiness, and fun - which is not a bad thing, but that was not the ending of the story for my sister and our family.

I hate the pink ribbons because to me, they trivialize my sister's death.  To me, they don't support research, education, action, prevention, access to support for patients and families that are in the trenches of the war with cancer.  The pink ribbon doesn't show what families that have lost loved ones have gone through.  They don't show the grieving, the heartache, the life change that happens when a woman or a man dies as a result of breast cancer. I hate the pink ribbons because they leave out the what you don't want to hear about cancer. They are a symbol for awareness. We could have all the awareness in the world. But without action, education, research, support for patients and family, it means absolutely nothing.

I hate pink ribbons because they show the pretty side of the pink movement - cancer is anything but pretty.

Is this an angry writing? Yes. My writings about this used to be hopeful as she truly fought the good fight. She won a lot of battles. But in the end - cancer won the battle for her breath. My anger comes from losing my sister. It comes from grieving.  It comes from wishing there was a better prognosis for women who are affected by IBC. It comes from feeling like we were on top of awareness, and we weren't.

To be clear, I am not saying that you should not engage in any campaigns. MANY organizations do good.  I am simply saying to be aware that there is more that is needed than just awareness. Please - educate yourself.  In today's information age, you have access to search and learn about breast cancer. There are so many good resources out there.  Don't rely solely on a campaign or an awareness month to understand YOUR health.  Be a good steward of your life. Take action and accountability where you can - learn what you can.

Let me revisit a statement a few lines back.  In the end, cancer won the battle for my sister's breath. BUT, it did not win the battle for her spirit and her soul.  She is singing praises in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that brings us peace. However, in our humanness, until we see her again, we will miss and grieve for her. No number of pink ribbons can change that.

As I sit here looking at this jar of hand cream, I think of my sister. And I think I HATE PINK RIBBONS.

Here's a challenge: Ask a business person who is pushing pink in support just how much they are donating toward a research cause, a patient support cause, a treatment cause, and education cause... if they are donating something, than great. If not, take what you would have spent on that item and donate it directly to an organization that supports beyond awareness. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Momma's Never Forget.... A Crafty Repurpose Dry Erase Project

Reclaimed Cupboard Door Dry Erase Boards

In a busy world, you sometimes need reminders to help keep you focused and on track.  Even the savviest of momma's need a reminder to not forget everything that is on their plate! Technology is a great tool for some. But for many, the tactile and visual experience of a written note is a better option to help them keep organized. Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to create a beautiful dry-erase board for those notes, using repurposed items.

You Will Need:

  • Reclaimed Cupboard Door* 
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Clear Contact Paper/Shelf Liner 
  • Masking Tape 
  • Sand paper 
  • Gentle Soap and a wash cloth 
  • Dry erase pens and eraser ** 

Directions:  (Check out the video link below for a demonstration)

1. Begin prepping the reclaimed cupboard door by wiping it down with a gentle soap and water solution and a wash cloth to remove any household residue. Once it is thoroughly dry, gently sand the center panel of the door with a fine sand paper. Wipe of any residue from the sanding.

2. Use masking tape (or any painter’s tape) to tape-off the area that will be painted.

3. Paint the taped off area with two coats, letting the first coat dry completely before painting the second. Let second coat dry completely before moving to the next step.

4. Measure the painted area and cut a piece of clear contact paper/shelf liner to the same dimension.

5. Pull back one edge of the contact paper far enough to match it up with the edge of painted surface. Apply the exposed (sticky) side to the edge of the painted surface. Slowly peel away paper backing while smoothing the surface side against the painted surface. When it is completely applied use your hands to smooth out any air bubbles. Note: If using dark colored paint, the surface will have a chalk board look to it.

Use the existing drill holes from the hardware as a guide for affixing wall hanging hooks to your finished board. Hang it up and write away! 

Check out this link for an on air segment demonstrating this fun craft!

*If a cupboard door is not available, any board with a flat surface can be used.

**If using dark paint, use bright or neon pens. If using a lighter paint, note that you may need to change out the contact paper on occasion to keep the board looking fresh. Terrycloth square can be used in place of an eraser if needed.

Monday, August 5, 2013

They're Watching...

I was at the climbing gym with my middle daughter. She shared with me that I inspired her to step just a bit more. When we climb, even when I am tired, I push myself to do just one more wall, even though I know it's going to be tough. She told me that example inspires her to step out with just a bit more effort than she THINKS she has. That moment showed me how important my example to my daughters is and how important it is for me to recognize my own determination.

My oldest daughter was making her first big move away for a job and was having some anxiety over the change.  We talked about all the wonderful things that it could bring, but also that if she didn't like it, that the changes she makes in life never have to be permanent. She went on to make the move and had a wonderful growing experience but realized she wanted to be closer to family. After about 18 months she moved back. She also updated her favorite quote on Facebook to read

 "Nothing ever has to be permanent. ~ My Mom"

That showed me how impacting and lasting my words to my daughters can be. 

My youngest daughter took her first summer job.  When she started we let her know that she was responsible for getting up on her own and too work on her own.  That's a challenge for any first job, but even more considering that she had to be at work at 7am every day, and that she does not yet drive.  We have always given them accountability over themselves- the level increased as they got older.  She took on her responsibility and did it all summer long without complaining.  That showed me the importance of teaching them life skill and responsibility.  It stays with them as the step off into the world.

All of these things were not overt lessons that happened in single conversations or commands barked- although conversations were had.  They were more of lessons by example, consistency, and perseverance.  My children watched me, listened to my words, and learned from the boundaries and responsibilities of our household.  

As parents, it's difficult to see the rewards and the progress of parenting in each day.  But, it does come.  As they step into the world the impact you have had shines directly back to you like your reflection in a mirror.  They have been absorbing  how to be in the world through their relationship with you.  Certainly social examples have an influence, but at the core of their foundation, what they have watched and learned from you is what steers them. It is a huge responsibility to be such a large part of their compass.  

The next decision you make, the next words you speak, the next time you handle anger or failure, the next crisis you navigate, the next triumph you have, the next goal you work towards, the next time you show compassion - keep in mind that it sets the narrative of who your children are and how they have learned to be in the world. They can be either empowered or encumbered by what they see.  Choose wisely and steward your life in the way that fills their understanding with useful tools. 

Remember - they're watching...