Intuition always tells the truth

Intuition always tells the truth

Intuition. It’s always there, guiding us, protecting us.   Everyone has it, and everyone has the ability to tune in.  It’s that nudge within us that defies logic, and tells you which way to go.  Sometimes it’s subtle, and sometimes it’s banging on the door.  Either way, it invites you to listen.  When we pay attention, we can be rewarded and amazed. But if we don’t, we can be kicking ourselves later, wishing we had listened to that small voice inside our head. Our intuition wants to be heard so that it can reveal its secrets to us. Intuition always tells the truth.

I love it when I can connect the dots back of why I made a decision that turned out in my favor.  I hate it when I know that I should have listened to my heart, but didn’t.  Those are the times that hurt the most.  One example of not listening to my inner guidance was during a visit to Indiana. I chose to hang out with a friend, when my soul wanted to spend an evening with my Grandma Fellure. Watching TV and catching up with her sounded like the perfect night.  However, I already had plans with my friend, and knew I would see my Grandma later that weekend, so I chose to go with my logical mind and the plans already in place. I now wish that I would have followed my intuition that told me to just rest and lay low. Be present with your Grandma, the time with her is so precious and coming to an end.  Had I spent time with my Grandma that evening, that would have been our last one on one time together. Crossroads like that confirm that I need to listen to my intuition, even if I don’t understand it at the time.

The best feeling is when you follow your intuition and you receive a nice surprise that you didn’t know that you needed. In February 2019, as I watched my Alma Mater’s Girls Basketball team go to the State Finals, I missed friends and family in Benton County. I missed the magic and excitement of Indiana Basketball in a small town. That week, I was going through some old papers, and came across a newspaper with my classmates from high school.  Around the same time, I had the desire for sushi. The kind that I wanted was available at the grocery store where I normally don’t shop. It was right after work, and I would usually avoid the after-work crowd.  I thought, “maybe I should go later, or do I really need sushi right now?   It’s going to be really busy, maybe I should just go another day?”  But, I decided to go anyway.  Sushi and bananas were on my short list.  I’d get my items quickly and then be on my way.  I walked in, and went straight for the bananas, focused on picking the best ones. In my peripheral vision, I saw a few moms with kids in their carts.  And then, as the 2 moms talked from across the aisle, I heard my friend’s voice. Could it really be my classmate who I had just seen in my newspaper clipping? Yes, it was!

The year before, I had ran into another classmate from high school and he had mentioned that our classmate lived in the area.  I had intended to connect with her through social media, but hadn’t gotten a chance to as life brought my focus to other things.  I was so happy to see her and give her a big hug. In that moment, it all made sense why I wanted sushi and needed to go to that specific grocery store right then. To see a friend who I hadn’t seen in 18 years, from a town almost 700 miles away. To hear a voice that I hadn’t heard in 18 years, yet I instantly recognized. She had moved recently to a home 3 miles away from me, and that was her normal grocery store.  During this time, I needed to be reminded of how small this world is, and it became clear why I was there. She was a reminder of my friends and family in Indiana, and proved that you are always in the right place at the right time. I have enjoyed reconnecting with her and her family, and am thankful that I followed my stomach’s hunger for sushi!

Think back to a time that you were grateful that you followed your intuition.  Now think of a time when you wished you would have listened to your gut.  If you are like me, you can think of many examples. Maybe it is as simple as sitting in traffic when you knew you should have taken the country roads. Or as fun as calling a friend to hear them say that they were just thinking of you! When we can prove to ourselves the validity of this inner knowing, why would we not follow it?  Why do we let other’s opinions and our idea of what we think we should be doing get in the way of listening to our heart?  There can be many distractions in our lives, and a lot of them are things that we have the control to release. Taking a moment to check in with what we feel is right for us in our next step can pay us dividends.   It’s easy to ignore our intuition when our society favors logic and reason.  But, the next time you have a hunch or feeling, I invite you trust yourself. You already have the answers within you. The truth is in this moment. Practice letting go of what you feel like you should do, and choose what feels best for you. Allow the unseen world to surprise and delight you.  What if your intuition is just waiting for you to follow it?  Why not take a chance and listen to the whisper within?

Choosing Presence over Escape

Choosing Presence over Escape

Presence.  It’s a gift, and to me it means being fully invested in the moment.  It’s listening intently to the person who is speaking to you.  Not thinking about what you will be saying next, or any other distraction that comes up to take space in your mind.  Presence is being fully engaged with all of our senses.  Seeing the beauty in the moment, no matter how hard it is, and not looking for an escape.  Being okay with the unknown that is surrounding us and embracing what we are experiencing in our current reality.

We all have 24 hours in our days, and we get to decide how we spend our time. It’s so easy to zone out, and allow our minds to be racing on a loop of thoughts that do not serve us.  It’s easy to scroll on social media or reach for ice cream when you are bored or upset.   In the moment, it feels like a good option, but usually doesn’t leave us feeling uplifted or energized. How can we use the gift of presence for ourselves and the people in our life? 

The past month, I found myself spending more time on social media than I wanted to, and I realized that I was using it as an escape from my feelings and having to completely experience the now.  When I didn’t want to think about the grief that I was going through, I found that it was easier to distract myself with mindless scrolling.  I didn’t have to feel any sadness or heaviness if I gave my mind somewhere else to go.  Unfortunately, the grief never went away, and I would just end up feeling worse about myself in the comparison/negative news of social media. What if we absorb ourselves in our day to day life instead of finding a getaway? How would we feel?  Possibly more inspired and connected to this world and our loved ones? 

When we are distracted in the present moment, that’s time that we can’t get back.  Time is our most valuable possession, and we each get the choice to decide how we use ours. How does it feel when you are talking to someone, and they are clearly in another world?  It doesn’t feel good, and it makes you feel not so important.  Distracting yourself from your life is the same thing, and gives yourself the same sign that you aren’t important either.  Mary Kay Ash once said that you should imagine each person in your life with an invisible sign that says “Make me feel important.”  How simple is that?  Giving your full and undivided attention to the person in front of you.  Really listening and hearing what is spoken.  Not just listening to their words, but reading their body language as well.   So many people need someone to listen to them, especially in our current times.  Connection is needed now more than ever.  How can you connect with others?  Who has been on your mind who would love to hear from you?

There were many times over the last year that I didn’t want to be present, but I was as in the moment as I could be.  When my Grandma was in the hospital and in home hospice, I didn’t want to be present.  I wanted to be anywhere else, but I also knew that there would be a time that I would miss being there in that moment with my Grandma and our family, even if it was so hard.  I would miss holding her hand, and being so exhausted from all of the sadness and unknown.  And I didn’t want to be present in November when I drove my Dad and I home, and he started playing songs on his phone that he wanted played at his funeral.  I fought back tears and didn’t want to hear the songs or see the meaning of what he was trying to prepare me for, but I also knew as we drove, I would someday miss that moment.  I would want to be in his truck, trying to pretend that I didn’t know what he was telling me that his time on Earth was coming to a close. I didn’t want to be in his truck hearing Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton sing “As I get where I’m going” with my Dad in the passenger seat, but now I would give anything to go back to that drive on the cold, windy day.  Writing these words takes me right back to those very hard moments, but my hope is that in sharing them, someone who may someday be in my shoes can do their best to show up for their loved ones and themselves in this moments.  Is there something in your life you’d rather not deal with and find an escape from?   How can you bring yourself back into the now?

There’s so many ways to become preoccupied, but there’s also ways to bring ourselves back into the moment.  Each moment is a new beginning. My phone is a big distraction for me, and I have added an app to track my screen time which has helped me to see how much time I am really spending on it.   I removed the notifications from a lot of my apps on my phone, and have put it outside of my bedroom when used as my alarm clock.  I started putting to-do items and papers in an inbox, then dealing with them at a certain time instead of always feeling like there was something that needed my attention.  This all is a work in process, but reminding myself to be conscious and aware has helped.  Maybe try making an effort to become more mindful when you drink a glass or water or eat a meal.  In nature, it’s easier for me to be present as I listen to the birds and watch the branches sway in the wind.  I believe that awareness is the first step.  Do you have any tips for being more present in your life?

I encourage you to take a moment to assess your ability to be present for yourself and others. Know that we all have time that we wish we could take back, but we get a blank sheet each day to write our new story.  Being present isn’t always easy, but I believe that it is always worth it. I am choosing to be present instead of looking for an escape in these unknown times. Is there anything in your life that you wish that you were spending less time doing?  What are some ways that you can become engaged while in a conversation?  How could you be more present and show up for yourself and others?

When your call is answered

When your call is answered

By Tracey Lemming

Think back to a moment in your life when a call was answered. When a prayer was answered.  Was it immediate, or did it take years to receive?  I believe that we all have times in our lives when we can look back and see the connection of a call and a response in our life.  Sometimes it feels as if we will never receive the answer, but if we keep our mind fixed on what we want, it will come to fruition.  Is there a question that you have been asking to a higher power?  Are you sowing seeds of expectancy, or seeds of doubt?

Growing up, I knew that I needed jaw surgery to correct my bite.  It was hard to chew and only my back teeth touched, putting a lot of pressure on them. This could lead to serious problems if it wasn’t corrected. When my older sister was in high school, she had the same jaw surgery that I needed.  At the time, my Dad’s insurance paid for her surgery, but when I was old enough for it, the insurance companies considered it a cosmetic/elective surgery and would not pay for it.  Knowing at a young age that this condition existed, the orthodontist gave me a dental appliance to wear to try to correct my bite. Unfortunately it didn’t work.  Surgery would be the answer, and surgery was very expensive.

After college, I again met with my orthodontist and he referred me to a specialist.  Again, I heard “well you really need to have this surgery, but it will not be covered by insurance.” The specialist and orthodontist wrote letters and sent x-rays to the insurance company showing why the surgery was medially necessary, but the claim was denied.  Of course I adapted and was able to chew, but the jawline affected my profile and how I appeared to the world.  I was always self-conscious of this.  I didn’t feel as confident or as beautiful as I wanted to on the outside.  I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see that it affected my ability to speak my truth. It was easier to blend in and not be seen.

When I moved to North Carolina, I asked my Human Resources contact for recommendations on finding a dentist, and I went to the one that she recommended within a few months of moving there.  Of course, on my initial exam, the dentist asked me if anyone ever told me that I need jaw surgery.  Well yes, I’ve been told this my whole life I explained, but the cost is so much, and wouldn’t be covered by insurance.  Of course, I would love to have this surgery, but it really did feel like a dead end road after years of hearing no.  My dentist mentioned an oral surgeon down the road who was great, and she encouraged me to meet with her.   She said that she had a really good track record of getting this surgery approved by insurance.  I agreed to meet with her and could feel some hope coming back.

When I met with the oral surgeon, I felt like I had finally gone to the right doctor.  I trusted her and her opinion, and I felt comfortable with her and her recommendations.  With this surgery being on my face, I really wanted to make sure that the doctor was someone who I could trust and cared for me as a person and patient.  After going over options, she recommended upper jaw surgery only, which would be less expensive and invasive.  After thinking of the expense as a really expensive car, I decided to go ahead with the process, whether insurance covered it or not. I knew that this would be the best for me in the long run and decided to invest in myself. I would have braces for a year, which would actually make things “worse” but give my teeth room for the the surgery to be performed.  The next year of braces, would be pulling everything back together to perfect my smile.  I was so thankful for this process, and I knew that it would not only help me to chew easier, but I thought that it would also help my confidence as well.  It did just that, and I really felt beautiful inside and out.  

Throughout the 2 year process, friends and family were there to help.  I was thankful to have the time to go to my appointments.  My parents and niece Claire came down for the surgery and stayed for a week.  I know that they wished they could have stayed longer to help, but when they left, my Mary Kay director was there to take me to appointments and make sure that I had enough food (mostly mashed potatoes, soups, ensure protein drinks), since I couldn’t chew for a few weeks.  At this time, I also learned the power of visualization and listening to healing tracks.  I now know the power that your mind and subconscious have on your body, and this definitely sped up my healing. 

About 6 months into the braces and process, the insurance company partially approved my surgery, and I was so thankful that I only had to pay the max out of pocket expenses.  I learned that when you take a step towards what you want, you will always be provided for in some way or another. I truly believe that one of the reasons that I was led to North Carolina was to have this surgery.  The doctors in the area (UNC and Duke) are some of the best in the world.  I even was able to have my surgery in a specialty hospital that had the lowest infection rate in the state of North Carolina.  And at this hospital, I was assured, even when my 24 hours were up, I would not be “kicked out” and would be given the time to be discharged when I was ready. It was truly a great experience from the start to the finish.

After another year of braces, I could finally see my vision realized.  I was so happy to finally feel as beautiful as I always wanted to. My prayer wasn’t answered when I wanted it to be, but there was a better and more aligned time for me to go through this process.  I truly believe that finally having the surgery that I had hoped I would someday have was a huge reason that my journey led me to North Carolina.  Within months of arriving, the 2 year process was set in motion.  The right people showed up at exactly the right time.  Had I had the surgery when I wanted, I may have had both upper and lower jaw surgery as recommended, which may not have been necessary. I may not have been as happy with my results  and the process as I am.   I may not have had such a great experience and the insurance approval of the surgery.  It was truly a great experience, and I know that this call was answered in perfect timing.

So, the next time that you have a prayer, know that it may not be answered on your time.  But, it may be answered in a more aligned and perfect time for you.  It’s easy to give up hope, and the surgery was something I wanted for many years. I knew that it would improve my quality of life, and it did.   It was truly a gift, and I believe if you hold a vision in your mind and let go of how and when it “should” happen, you may be surprised when your call is answered.  But when it is, you will know without a doubt that it was.  Plant seeds of faith, and know that your desire is on it’s way.  Allow yourself to relax and let go of the need to control.  Allow the higher power in your life to surprise and delight you in the unfolding of your journey.  There is so much unknown, but do your best to remain positive, and celebrate the signs that you are headed in the right direction.  When you are call is answered, you will know and the winding roads will all make sense. Is there something you have been praying for for years?  Are you keeping the faith? 

I’m like a bird

I’m like a bird

Written by Tracey Lemming

I ’m like a bird, and you probably are too.  Birds have this intuition to know where to find the best food, and when it’s time to fly south.  One of my favorite movies growing up was “The Mighty Ducks,” about the hockey team who beat the odds and worked together as a team.  They took their signature formation from the birds in the sky in order to be victorious over their stronger opponents. Whenever I see a flying V in the sky, I always stop to take notice.  Amazed about how they have a lead bird, and then when that bird gets tired, it will go to the back and another bird will step in and lead the flock.  They work together for the greater good and common goal. Sometimes I see “stragglers,” but I know that they will catch up with their friends at the next pond, and continue their journey together. 

It’s amazing when we face times of uncertainty, how if we trust our intuition, the right people and circumstances will show up at the perfect time.  Sometimes you just have to take the first step towards what you desire, and then let go and trust.  About 5 years ago, I began to practice yoga on and off.  After my jaw surgery, I couldn’t exercise as rigorously as I was used to, so yoga was a nice way to get a workout in.  I found that I enjoyed how calm and balanced that I felt after a yoga session.  Over the next 4 years, I would jokingly say that I should become a yoga teacher, but usually I would tell my friends that they should become a yoga teacher.  Much easier if someone else does it, and I didn’t really believe that I had the confidence to be in the teacher’s spot.  When I visited my friend’s parents in April 2019, and told them that their daughter should teach yoga and they should get goats for goat yoga, I started to see my pattern of always volunteering someone else to take the risk.  And, I started to think, why not me?  I talked to a friend about attending an upcoming meditation class, and she mentioned how she took a meditation class from her current yoga instructor.  There it was again. Then, I really began to wonder what would happen if I really took the steps towards this desire that I first saw as an impossibility? I checked online at local studios, and saw that there was an intensive summer training coming up at a studio just 3 miles away at the end of the month! What perfect timing! I attended my first class there, and when the instructor quoted my favorite author, I knew that I was in the right place.  Within a few days, I was enrolled for the 200 hour yoga teacher training.  It was great. Even though I missed 2 of the 5 weekends when my Grandma passed away in June of 2019, my teacher set up a time to teach me what I had missed when I returned.  Last September I taught my first yoga class, which was a really rewarding experience.

This last year has brought many ups and downs, and there’s still a lot that I would like to learn about yoga and teaching. I would love to teach yoga more, but I am glad that I took the opportunity when it came up. If I had waited a few months or longer, I may not have been able to go through the in-person training and get my teacher certification.  I had no idea what it would be like to attend the training, or if I would even teach when I went through the training, but I am thankful that I took the time to invest in myself and chose this experience.  I have met a lot of great people, and have been able to share yoga with family and friends.  I learned that “Crow” is my favorite pose, and I am going to start working on “Flying Bird.”

In March 2020, I had the courage to share my first blog post on social media, even though I didn’t know if anyone would read or enjoy my words.  I had the feeling to write, and I created the space and time to take the action.  I still don’t know where it will lead, but that is okay.  It’s all unknown, and I am choosing to keep going.  I am enjoying allowing my creativity to flow, and have received messages of how my words have helped others.  To me, that’s so rewarding and magical, knowing that I can help or inspire others in some way.  I am currently taking a writing course, and looking forward to learning more in this area. If I had not began my blog, I don’t think that I would have realized how much that I really love to write.

So, the next time that you a bird in the sky or hopping around on the ground, notice how unattached they are to the outcome of the moment.  They simply sing because they want to.  They don’t care who hears their tweets, they sing because that’s who they are.  They don’t fly in order to win a race. They simply want to hang out with their friends and family and enjoy the view.  And they always know the best time to flap their wings and soar. Is there something that you’ve been putting off, but have a feeling that it’s time to begin? What if your time to fly is now?

Imperfect Pieces

Imperfect Pieces

By Tracey Lemming

In our lives, there will be times when we lose pieces of our puzzle.  We know that our world won’t ever be the same again.  One by one, we put the pieces back together. But, it looks different. Maybe we add in pieces that we didn’t know we had and take more out along the way. Do we give up because it won’t look like the version that we expected when we started? Or do we keep going and create a new puzzle with missing and imperfect pieces?

When I spent 4 months in Indiana during COVID-19, my Mom and I put together a few puzzles.  It was an activity that I enjoyed, but hadn’t done in quite awhile (beside a rainy beach day in vacation mode).  Seldom did I allow myself the time and space just to enjoy simply putting together a puzzle. The first one was 1,000 pieces and a Fall leaves scene.  At first, it was overwhelming.  So many pieces, and they all looked alike!  But, as we kept going, it got easier, and it was easier to differentiate between the leaves on the trees from the leaves on the ground.  It took patience, presence, and perseverance. Throughout the process, it was fun to find the pieces that fit together. The second puzzle that we decided to tackle was already together when we saw it, but it was missing a piece.  We chose to tear it apart and put it back together anyway.  Knowing that it was missing a piece didn’t make the activity any less enjoyable.  We could have decided that it wasn’t worth our time and energy knowing that it wouldn’t be perfect when it was finished, but had we chosen to not try, we would have missed out on the joy that was still there in the puzzle.

The last few months have left many of us unsure of what path to take, what piece to hold and put down. We can’t quite see over the horizon.  Mountains are in the way that weren’t there before.  It’s all unknown.  Plans that we had were suddenly changed, and we have the choice to surrender to what is, or to fight for what we knew before.  Unfortunately, we can’t go back.  This life as we knew it is completely changed.  Whether you have suffered the loss of a loved one, a job, or an every day activity, it’s okay to take the time to mourn your loss.  Giving yourself the time and space to grieve your loss is one of those “self-care” activities that is easy to bypass, but I believe that it’s important to fully heal.  Your loss is yours, and mine is mine, but collectively we can show compassion for one another.  No one knows the magnitude of your grief but you. No one knows how many pieces are missing from your puzzle, and no one knows what you may find when you begin looking for new pieces.

I would love to go back to a time when all my loved ones were still here to see the sun rise each morning.  I would love to be able to hug my Uncle Steve, my Grandma Fellure, and my Dad.  I will see many sunrises and sunsets without them, which feels so unbearable at times.  If I could only go back 2 years, or 14 months, or just 8 months, maybe things could be different.  But, I choose to keep going.  I choose to put the pieces of the puzzle back together.  Doing my best to honor my loved ones by sharing their stories and sharing mine. Knowing that the puzzle will look different than expected when it’s complete, and that’s okay.  There will be pieces added and removed along the way.  But, there will also be a lot of love and joy in the journey. We all get the choice to decide where we go from here. Will you give up on it all, or will you continue to put together your imperfect pieces?

Brighter than the Sun

Brighter than the Sun

Written by Tracey Lemming

Moths are drawn to the light, and so are we.  Many want to be in the spotlight, brighter than the sun. Our society values likes, selfies and memes over Ideas, Authenticity, and Emotions.  Comparison is a trap, and if we are not careful, we will fall in it.  Keeping up with the Kardashians, filtered photos, and unreal expectations are the name of the game.

But, what if you let go of all the expectations? Yours, others, and society’s.  The striving for perfection, always buying the next best thing, and feeling validated with the number of friends on your social account.  How would it feel to accept where you are in this moment exactly as is?  Take a moment to release the energy of always being “on” and tune into your inner wisdom.  Who do you want to be at this moment?  How will you align with your authentic self?  Your life is a canvas, and you get to paint your own masterpiece.

I found out how little I really needed when I spent 4 months in Indiana when only expecting to stay a week.  Somehow I made it from snow in March to a hot and humid July with a small suitcase.  How did I manage to make my wardrobe last through the seasons?  Friends and family.  When it grew warmer, friends cleaned out their closets and gave me their extra clothes.  I only bought 1 pair of sandals in the 4 months, and that wasn’t even necessary as my friend had let me borrow hers.  I have some really great friends and family, and I bet you do too.

Have you heard of the 80/20 rule?  We use 20% of the items in our life 80% of the time.  And we use the other 80% of our items, only 20% of the time.  This applies to all aspects of our lives.  Do we really need 80% of our items, or have we fallen in the trap of measuring our worthiness by the number of possessions that we have?  When I got back to North Carolina, I was overwhelmed by the number of items surrounding me, and how little I missed or needed them.  Some have meaning and usefulness, but most of them are just unnecessary stuff.  As I am preparing for new flooring, it has been a good time for me to look at what I love and use, and see what I can let go of for others to enjoy.  I have found that the less that I have wanting my energy, the more freedom and clarity that I feel.  What are some things that you could let go of that are weighing you down?

The 80/20 rule also applies to our time.  If you think about it, a lot of us are spending 80% of our time doing the same thing, while there is a vast array of other things we could be focusing on and using our energy towards.  For me, social media can be a good distraction from all the other things in my life that could be more meaningful.  However, I am aware that about 80% of the items on my newsfeed are negative and draining my energy.  I could let go of this habit and use that time connecting with others, spending more time in nature, and practicing healthier habits. If we could let go of what weighs us down, and focus on those things that bring us joy and happiness, I believe that we may find more peace.  When our focus is on the negativity that surrounds us, we see more bad stories and separation.  But if we switch our focus to unity and love, we find people and stories that uplift us.

As we continue on this roller coaster ride that 2020 has become, I invite you to let go of the distractions, the unnecessary, and the negative focus.  Instead, take inventory of those habits, activities, and loved ones who empower and elevate you.  Focus your time and energy on what brings you joy.  Turn off the news, step outside, and call a loved one.  Shifting our focus to what matters most can allow us to live a life brighter than the sun.  We get this choice every day.  Why not begin now?   

Sound decisions come in the silence

Sound decisions come in the silence

Beauty in the Unknown

Written by Tracey Lemming, Photo by David Besh from Pexels

I used to have a habit of overthinking things when it was time to make a decision, big or small. And sometimes I still do! I’d make lists, research, and talk to loved ones about what they would do. I’d look outside myself for some sort of validation. Sitting on the fence for too long can definitely be worse than making a decision, and adjusting if need be. I didn’t want to make the “wrong decision.” The question is, is there ever really a wrong decision?

Sometimes we wish that things had gone a different way, but most of the time, we learn and grow. We pivot, and take knowledge with us to make a better decision next time or help someone else with a new perspective along the way. We can sulk about the past and what we should…

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What hurts the most

What hurts the most

By Tracey Lemming

For me, what hurts the most about losing the ones that I love is no longer being able to communicate with them in this physical world.  At least not in the way that I want and expect to.  It’s still having questions, and not being able to pick up the phone and ask them. It’s trying to imagine that for the rest of my life, they will no longer be here physically with me.  Intuitively I know that they are in a better, more peaceful place.  But the knowing that they won’t be here to celebrate the many happy times left in my life is really hard.  Having them protect and guide me from above is comforting, but it’s not the same.  I gained 3 beautiful angels in the last 2 years, but I wish it had been different. Everyone wants more time.

Unfortunately, it’s not different, and it cannot be changed. I was blessed with more time with my Uncle, Grandma, and Dad than some people are able to spend with their loved ones.  I’ve learned many lessons during this time that I may not have learned until later in life had I not experienced this grief, and I am sure that more lessons will still be revealed as time goes on.  Time is promised to no one, and it truly is a gift.  What we choose to do with our time and energy is something that is up to us. I believe that the more time that you can spend with your loved ones and living your purpose, the better.  When you have a pull to do or ask something, just do it.  When you follow your intuition and your passion, you will feel the most happy, and can go to bed feeling that your day was good and meaningful.

Navigating a life that will never be the same is challenging.  It’s looking through new eyes, and learning as you go.  The plan that you had is no longer the plan. It’s learning how to adapt, and accept what cannot be changed. Although I no longer hear my loved ones voices, we can still communicate. Sometimes it’s through dreams, songs, or seeing something that brings back a sweet memory.  I’ve been lucky enough to receive visions of my Uncle and Dad smiling since they have ascended towards the sky, so that helps me to know that they are safe and happy. I try to remember these images and be happy for them when I am feeling sad.

After my Uncle Steve’s passing and when I was back at work, I was finally feeling a bit more like myself. One day, I drove with my convertible top down and listened to my favorite song.  As I parked and grabbed my bags out of my trunk, I noticed a penny in my parking spot behind my back tire.  It hadn’t been there in the morning when I left for work, and I laughed and said “I wonder who this is from” out loud. As I picked up the penny,  I instantly knew.  1971, the year my Uncle graduated from high school, and a nod from him to keep on enjoying the day and doing what makes me happy. I believe that our loved ones and angels leave us pennies from heaven, as they are noted with the words “In God we trust.” They are signs from above letting us know that we are on the right path and loved.   It’s moments like this that you simply know that there is something greater than what meets the eye.

When I returned to my daily life after my Dad’s passing, I noticed that the motion activated solar lantern next to my front door would blink, although it had never blinked before during the few years that I had it.  Normally, it would turn on only when I was walking up my stairs and opening my screen door.  However, now it would blink on and off.  It would even begin blinking when I was still in my car, and walking towards my door.  It was never able to detect motion from that far away before.  I remember crying in my car before I went inside, and looking at my house.  Sure enough, the lantern was blinking to comfort me, even though there was no motion anywhere. I knew that it was my Dad welcoming me home and letting me know that he was okay and he wanted me to be happy, not sad. Even though he is not physically here in my life, he wants to still be here for me. Because I am open to receiving communication and willing to be present, I have been blessed to receive these gifts.  

About a month before my Dad passed away, I had excitedly told him about the “Woodpecker Birds” at my bird feeder and how big they were.  He laughed and teased me because he thought it was funny that I added the word “Bird” to the obvious “Woodpecker”.  Of course a woodpecker is a bird. After my Dad passed away, my coworker was talking about how he would laugh and tease his daughter, and I mentioned how my Dad would do the same to me, and recently laughed about the “Woodpecker birds.”  The next morning was one of those days that I didn’t really want to get out of bed and face the day, but I did, and I asked for a sign from my Dad and strength to keep going.  As I was getting ready, I suddenly heard tapping outside my window.  It startled me, and I looked outside.  You guessed it, Woodpecker Birds.  I laughed as they had never been so loud before or pecked at my house,  and I knew that it was surely my Dad teasing me and laughing again.

The day after my Dad passed away, I was driving towards my parents house and I saw 3 cardinals. I knew that it was my Grandma, Uncle, and Dad saying hello and having a lot of fun together. I believe that cardinals are good luck and visitors from heaven.  It’s very comforting when I hear the cardinals song, and see their beautiful red feathers.

Life will never be the same when you go through any type of loss.  Grief changes you, but I hope that it changes us for the better.  I hope that it makes us more in-tune with ourselves and this world, and more grateful for those in our life who love us. We now know that everything can change any moment, and it’s important to make the best of each day. Some days are better than others, but as we keep going, we are becoming stronger and can pass our wisdom and life lessons onto others.  We can perceive simple signs and moments, and feel the vastness of this universe. What are some ways that you’ve received signs from those on the other side? What have you learned through experiencing grief?

The part of me

The part of me

By Tracey Lemming

Lately, the chorus from Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” has been coming to my mind, over and over again. “This is the part of me, that you’re never gonna ever take away from me.”  You know it, and it’s probably stuck in your head too now!  I believe there is a part of me, and a part of you that no one can ever take away from us.  As we see more of our freedoms being taken away, our soul, or inner world, is the part of us that is always ours.  No one can ever take away our thoughts, feelings, and imagination.

I once read “Man’s search for meaning” by Victor Frankl.  He was a Holcaust survivor, and what I remember most from this book was how even when he was faced with the worst unthinkable circumstances in the Nazi concentration camps, he chose how he reacted, and did not allow outside circumstances to break his spirit. We are all dealt cards in our life, and we get the choice on how we choose to play them.  Do we fold, or do we choose another card, keep playing, and look for the chance for a royal flush?  Do we find meaning in what has showed up in our life?

When my Dad was 45, he was diagnosed with a very rare, stage 4 cancer.  I was 16, and when my parents told me that he had cancer, that was the first time I remember seeing my Dad cry. My parents didn’t tell me that it was stage 4 cancer with little chance of survival, so although I worried, I truly didn’t know the extent of what my Dad was up against until he passed away 20 years later. He didn’t complain about many of the obstacles he faced, including having a feeding tube at least for the last 10 years of his life and losing the use of his right arm due to the radiation.  And because he didn’t complain, I rarely found things to complain about, and have always been able to see the bright side of things.  One of my Dad’s friends spoke at my Dad’s funeral about how he showed up to work even when he didn’t always feel the best, because he knew if my Dad could show up for work when he faced many obstacles, so could he.  It’s amazing, we really don’t know the example that we are setting for others simply by showing up when it would have been easier to not.  What example are you setting for those around you?

My Dad used his VICTORY over cancer and his life’s journey to be an inspiration and mentor to many others.  What he offered to many who faced their own battle with cancer was a great gift, HOPE.  He was able to show others that no matter what you are facing, miracles happen every day.  I believe that because he didn’t complain about his circumstances and used his creativity to find solutions, he was able to keep going when others may have thrown in the towel.  There was a part of him that refused to give up, that always wanted to win.  He was a champion in life, not just in 1972 when his beloved Pine Knots were Sectional Champs in basketball.  Indiana basketball at its finest.  My Dad kept the winning mentality throughout his life, even when part of him may have felt like giving up.   

When my Dad was first diagnosed with cancer, he was given the books “Small Miracles: Extraordinary coincidences of Everyday Life” by Yitta Halberstam and “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson.  I read those books during this trying time, and these titles have become the themes of my life.  I choose to look for meaning in the coincidences that show up in my life. Coincidence is taken from the word coincide, which means to fit perfectly together.   I know that all that we receive is on purpose and in perfect timing.  In the grand scheme of things, many things we see as big deals in the moment truly aren’t worth the stress and energy.  Like anyone, I can get sucked into stress-response cycles, but they usually don’t last too long.  There is a part of me that knows that all of us in this world are connected.  We can easily see division if we look for it, but we can also see stories of strength, unity, and perseverance.

Think about the part of you that no one else can ever take away.  It’s unique, and yours alone. It’s always with you, and in times of uncertainty and doubt, you will always find it within.  Sometimes the endless chatter in our minds may drown it out, but when you take a moment to center yourself and let go of all the distractions, that is when it will appear.  Keep breathing. Keep going.  Know that no matter what uncertainty we all face at this time, there is a part of you that knows your next best step.  There is a part of you that knows that healing and unity are possible.  Embrace this one-of-a-kind part of you, and together these parts of us can illuminate the darkness.  How will you use your light within you?

If grief had a checklist

If grief had a checklist

Written by Tracey Lemming

If grief had a checklist, I’d be done.  Marking off all of the items, and moving on.  Going through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) all in the same day.  Ready to move on to the next stage of life and smile about the sweet memories that were created.  Calling a loved one, sharing memories, laughing, crying, taking a long bath, reading a book on grief. Doing these things and so much more.  Unfortunately, there is no checklist for grief and it’s something that will be experienced by most of us in our lifetime.  It’s a very individual process, and there will be good and bad days.  There will be times that you know that the timing was right for your loved one to leave this world, but it will never be the right timing for you.  Your world is changed forever, and you will always wish you had more time.  You are changed forever.

I had always heard that grief comes in waves.  That didn’t make a lot of sense until I experienced the loss of my Uncle Steve, Grandma Fellure, and Dad within 16 months.  Then I understood. Grief flows in and out.  Sometimes the tide is low, and sometimes it is high.  Sometimes the waves are gentle and you are able to stay afloat, but sometimes they are rocky and will knock you down.  You know without a doubt that your loved one would want you to be happy, and you do your best, but it’s not easy.  Giving your best is all that you can do though.  Know that your best version may change each day.  It’s okay to laugh and cry minutes apart.  Each day you have the opportunity to show up again, learning and growing as you go.

When I saw my cousin Abigail at my Uncle Steve’s funeral, I knew that I didn’t want to be her.  Every single cell in my body never wanted to be in her position. My heart went out to her for the loss of her Dad, but not having been through an experience like that, I didn’t really know what to say or do except offer a hug and an “I love you.”   The thought of losing my own Dad was an image I couldn’t let myself imagine.  I could not imagine the sadness that she was feeling.  I was thankful and lucky to have my Dad with me in the moment.  Little did I know that in a short 16 months, I’d be the one at my Dad’s funeral and my cousin would be comforting me.  The sadness was intense, but it was nice to have a cousin and friend who had been through this experience and could offer some wisdom and helpful tips.  I truly believe that we are given the perfect family members and friends in our lives, and having Abigail in mine is truly a gift.

What I have learned (and am still learning) through this process is that patience really is a virtue. Being patient with yourself and others, and knowing that it’s okay not to be okay.  This experience has changed you, and it’s okay if you are not the same person you were before.  You do not need to compare your before and after versions.  Your interests may change as your priorities do.  What was enjoyable before may no longer resonate, and you may need more time by yourself to process and reflect.  For me, reading and journaling have helped me to express my emotions.  And sharing good memories and laughs always feels great!  Other people who haven’t yet had this experience may not be sure if you want to bring your loved one up, but I personally love to talk about those on the other side.  Sharing stories keeps your loved one’s spirit alive!

Traditions will change, and the first holidays, birthdays, and special occasions will be hard.  Know that it’s okay if you don’t feel like celebrating, but it is good to spend time with your loved ones if you can.  Just being together can help you feel a bit better.  Acknowledge that this day will never be the same, but you could start a new tradition to honor your loved one, such as lighting a candle in their memory. Whatever feels best at that time, and nothing needs to be forced. 

There is no right or wrong way to go through grief. There is no checklist to follow.  There is no timeline.  My grieving experience may look completely different than yours, and that’s okay.  There is no need to compare your journey to others, as it’s impossible to know what someone else is thinking or going through.  Surround yourself and others going through this experience with love. Take a moment to breathe. Make a gratitude list to look at when you are feeling low.  Keep going when you feel like stopping, and know that tomorrow is another day to show up and share your beautiful light.