Hippie Academy – Freedom Gone too Far!

I was in the third grade at Middlebelt Elementary School, a public school, when my father apparently had a disagreement with the principal, and the principal told him he was crazy. This was not the first time somebody called my dad crazy, by the way, but this time the situation got heated and my father told the principal that he would be removing his children from school. So, what is a hippie dad to do – take his kids to “the Free School”, of course.

bus 2The Free School was a school that basically didn’t have any teachers, per se, but definitely had a few adults roaming around keeping an eye on things. There was also no teaching going on, there was just this honor system type style of “teaching”. They gave us a math book and told us to complete the pages when we felt moved to do so and then we were to place a check mark on the board when it was complete. Thank goodness for the check marks because the inner pleaser in me had to know that somebody knew I was doing the right thing.

I don’t recall any art or music classes, but we did swim once a week in the city pool and watch movies.  And then there was that one “naked massage” class where two naked hippies walked into the room with a massage table and told us they were going to “teach” us how to do massage – now they decide to teach us something! They asked for volunteers and my siblings and I, with wide-eyes, declined.

I have to laugh imagining this going on today.  Helicopters would be flying above the school and the police would have them on the ground, in handcuffs, before they even had the chance to ask for volunteers.  It was the 70’s though, and it was sort of an anything goes kind of era, at least where I grew up.

I don’t recall why we left the Free School, but I am fairly certain it had nothing to do with the naked massage lesson. Looking back, I don’t think we even told our parents, we just wanted to forget it ever happened. We went back to public school, and we were understandably behind and a little embarrassed, but like every experience in life there was a gift.

There was a really nice mix of kids from various backgrounds at the Free School, and that showed me early on that there are all types of people living in all types of situations, and one is not better than the next, just different. This lesson prepared me for having to attend ten different schools after the Free School with a generous mix of cultures in each.

I quickly learned to trust my instincts too when I was asked to volunteer in the massage class. This was one of my first memorable experiences of feeling my instincts deep down inside my gut and trusting them.  That’s a feeling I will never forget, it has served me well.

Finally, I learned self-reliance while taking it upon myself to learn math, even though I did it to please others (another lesson I learned over and over later in life). I needed to know how to rely upon myself just two years later when my father passed away, and so the Free School was simply the practice I needed for “the Big Show”.

We often have experiences that come into our lives quickly and move out just as fast, leaving us with memorable and meaningful lessons.  They are short and sweet. I’m grateful that in the three short months I attended the Free School, I learned many valuable lessons, aside from math, that have stayed with me throughout my life.

A+ Student, not so much #13

The greatest gifts in my life have come in the form of breast cancer, foreclosure, my drug and sex addicted father, who passed away when I was ten years old, my ex-husband, my children, Jake and Jonah, and their sister, Sydnee, who died two days shy of her due date.

One might smallest just breathe logoask how losing a father at a young age, getting divorced, losing a child or having cancer could possibly be considered gifts. There is no doubt that these were very challenging times in my life, but once the dust settled, and maybe even during some of the later experiences, I was able to see the gift in each and every experience in my life.

Within each of our not-so-normal lives, we are faced with challenges along the way, nobody is exempt. These challenges show up for us to help us grow. Each and every one of those experiences leaves us with a “gift”. The catch is, we don’t actually get the gift until we are aware it’s there for us. Imagine a beautifully wrapped present hiding way up high in the closet, but you don’t know it exists. It only becomes exciting when you know it’s there and you have the chance to tear it open. The good news is it’s never too late to find them, we just need to open our minds to another way of seeing things.

My hope is that through this series of dysfunctional, crazy, funny, challenging and sometimes embarrassing glances into my life, you will learn to spot the silver linings in your life, unveiling these precious gems that have the power to bring you freedom and peace of mind.

I’m going to tell you some very personal details about my life and you will likely have thoughts of judgment, maybe anger at some point, but don’t stress out, just breathe. I forgive you. Xo

A+ STUDENT, NOT SO MUCH

As long as I can remember, I thought of myself as the person in my family who had the good grades, the first to go to college and so on. I prided myself on this story, until recently when I had to request my high school transcripts and was shocked to find that I bombed several classes in 9th and 10th grade. As if that wasn’t enough, they were the classes I thought I excelled in, math and English. It’s ironic that I eventually chose to become a writer when I literally failed English in 9th grade and managed to raise my grade to a whopping D the second time I took it in 10th grade. It just goes to show you that a high school transcript is not necessarily a picture of one’s future.

I’ve always seen myself as a numbers geek too, I still do today. I find things related to numbers interesting, like investigating and tracking financial accounts to determine the trail of funds, for example. My memory of math in school was that it came very easily to me, and that I got straight A’s. And yet, I did not do well in math my first two years of high school. Hmmm…perhaps the brownies and cookies I gave to my teachers didn’t work as well as I remembered.

The good news is I eventually woke up and improved each semester until I graduated 34th in my class of 350 students (I’m not even sure how I know that). It may or may not be a coincidence that my grades improved significantly after we moved in 11th grade, and again in 12th grade.  I am certain all of the drugs I did in 9th and 10th grade had nothing to do with the D’s and E’s either.  But, because I have chosen to be completely honest, I have to admit I got into drugs starting in 7th grade and this continuing on through the end of high school. It obviously showed in my grades, and evidently effected my memory of my grades too!

The thing about honesty though, is that we all have a very different perception of the truth depending on our vantage point and our experiences. In this case, since my mother never yelled at me about homework or my grades like she did my siblings, and since I spent many of my days high on one thing or another during those years, the part I played in my movie was one of a straight A student. The truth was a very different story. If you had asked me prior to seeing the grades in black and white, I would have sworn to you that I was a straight A student. mymovieWe all see life through different lenses. Some people see the glass as half empty, some see it half full. Some people see life through rose-colored glasses, some with dark shades. Some folks bury their heads in the sand or sweep things under the rug, but each of us sees life through our own viewfinder which is continually changing throughout our lives based on everything we see and experience.  If we were to witness an event at age 20 and then witness that same event at age 40, we would have very different stories to report. Similarly, when several people are witnessing the same event, you’ll hear them tell different stories of how the events unfolded, and they will defend their individual positions vehemently. The truth is, they are all right, because they all saw it happen through their viewfinder. It’s their truth.

So the next time you find yourself defending your position, just breathe, and consider that maybe being right isn’t all that practical, and maybe it isn’t all that important either. Maybe having peace in your relationships is far more important than being right.

Ooooommmmmm… #7

The greatest gifts in my life have come in the form of breast cancer, foreclosure, my drug and sex addicted father, who passed away when I was ten years old, my ex-husband, my children, Jake and Jonah, and their sister, Sydnee, who died two days shy of her due date.

One might smallest just breathe logoask how losing a father at a young age, getting divorced, losing a child or having cancer could possibly be considered gifts. There is no doubt that these were very challenging times in my life, but once the dust settled, and maybe even during some of the later experiences, I was able to see the gift in each and every experience in my life.

Within each of our not-so-normal lives, we are faced with challenges along the way, nobody is exempt. These challenges show up for us to help us grow. Each and every one of those experiences leaves us with a “gift”. The catch is, we don’t actually get the gift until we are aware it’s there for us. Imagine a beautifully wrapped present hiding way up high in the closet, but you don’t know it exists. It only becomes exciting when you know it’s there and you have the chance to tear it open. The good news is it’s never too late to find them, we just need to open our minds to another way of seeing things.

My hope is that through this series of dysfunctional, crazy, funny, challenging and sometimes embarrassing glances into my life, you will learn to spot the silver linings in your life, unveiling these precious gems that have the power to bring you freedom and peace of mind.

I’m going to tell you some very personal details about my life and you will likely have thoughts of judgment, maybe anger at some point, but don’t stress out, just breathe. I forgive you. Xo

Oooooommmmmm…

When I was ten years old, I vividly remember coming down the stairs to leave for the dentist office before school when my mom told us that our dad died. I don’t recall crying or even really feeling anything in particular. My dad was not exactly “present” in our lives, physically or mentally.

Despite the hippie upbringing, when my dad died we really didn’t talk about it. It was business as usual; back to school, play with friends, etc. We definitely didn’t go to therapy. It was 1975 and sweeping things under the rug seemed to be modus operandi. We did however go to TM, Transcendental Meditation, we were hippies after all. We learned how to mediate and even got our very own secret “Mantra” – a word one focuses on while meditating. To this day my siblings and I laugh about how we have never told anybody our secret mantra, joking about how we all probably have the same one. Maybe that’s only funny to us though.

While the whole “meditation thing” seemed really weird when I was ten years old, and definitely didn’t replace much needed therapy, but I am grateful today because I have a regular meditation practice that I can’t imagine living without. Meditation along with yoga keeps me sane, most of the time. It’s my happy hour, my anti-depressant, my unconditional love for me. It allows me to slow the thoughts down and choose my reactions. I notice when I don’t have time to meditate or do yoga for a while, it becomes challenging to tame the monkey mind, and I see the crazy mind coming my way; overreacting, believing the stories, making assumptions, etc.

Meditation simply makes me feel good, better than any drug I’ve taken, and I’ve taken a few in my day. My kids ask me why I don’t drink or take drugs, and the truth is because nothing makes me feel as good as yoga and meditation.

Don’t Miss the Bus!!! #5

The greatest gifts in my life have come in the form of breast cancer, foreclosure, my drug and sex addicted father, who passed away when I was ten years old, my ex-husband, my children, Jake and Jonah, and their sister, Sydnee, who died two days shy of her due date.

One might smallest just breathe logoask how losing a father at a young age, getting divorced, losing a child or having cancer could possibly be considered gifts. There is no doubt that these were very challenging times in my life, but once the dust settled, and maybe even during some of the later experiences, I was able to see the gift in each and every experience in my life.

Within each of our not-so-normal lives, we are faced with challenges along the way, nobody is exempt. These challenges show up for us to help us grow. Each and every one of those experiences leaves us with a “gift”. The catch is, we don’t actually get the gift until we are aware it’s there for us. Imagine a beautifully wrapped present hiding way up high in the closet, but you don’t know it exists. It only becomes exciting when you know it’s there and you have the chance to tear it open. The good news is it’s never too late to find them, we just need to open our minds to another way of seeing things.

My hope is that through this series of dysfunctional, crazy, funny, challenging and sometimes embarrassing glances into my life, you will learn to spot the silver linings in your life, unveiling these precious gems that have the power to bring you freedom and peace of mind.

I’m going to tell you some very personal details about my life and you will likely have thoughts of judgment, maybe anger at some point, but don’t stress out, just breathe. I forgive you. Xo

Don’t Miss the Bus!!

For most of my early life, my mom was a stay-at-home mom. I remember how she and my aunts would spend their days together drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes while all of us kids played. It was a pretty great set up. Everybody had everybody else’s back and kept them company so if the kids got out of hand there was a united front.

After my dad died in 1975, when my brother, sister and I were roughly 8, 10 and 12, my mom had to go to work and became a hair stylist. She also lived a fast life during these years – the beauty shops back then tended to be known to draw the party crowd, especially after hours. It was a fun time with fond memories for my mom, I’m sure. No judgment, I’m happy she enjoyed her life.

The only problem with mama’s late nights was that her elementary-age kids needed to get up for school five days a week. I’m not sure how we did it, but somehow the three of us got ourselves up, dressed, fed, and to the bus every morning while she slept in. She has always loved her sleep, the more the better.

Now there were those few occasions when we missed the bus. This was the ultimate sin in our house. We had to wake our mom up to get a ride to school, and she was not happy! “I’m sleeping! Can’t you get a ride from one of the neighbor kid’s parents,” she would say. It was a rare occasion and a memorable one for all of us, which is why it didn’t happen often.

Most days, I’m grateful that it worked out that way for me and my siblings. It gave the three of us a camaraderie that we wouldn’t otherwise have had. It taught us to work together, and quietly, so we didn’t wake our mom. It also taught us a senses of responsibility for ourselves which we may not have necessarily discovered otherwise.

It also taught me that even when I don’t feel like getting up at 5:45 a.m. to get my kids off to school, I do it anyways because I know how much it means to have somebody be there for me.

I have no doubt that my mom loved me and that she always did her best, and to this day she still loves to sleep in.  Shhhhh, Mom’s sleeping.

The Age of Aquarius #1

The greatest gifts in my life have come in the form of breast cancer, foreclosure, my drug and sex addicted father, who passed away when I was ten years old, my ex-husband, my children, Jake and Jonah, and their sister, Sydnee, who died two days shy of her due date.

One might smallest just breathe logoask how losing a father at a young age, getting divorced, losing a child or having cancer could possibly be considered gifts. There is no doubt that these were very challenging times in my life, but once the dust settled, and maybe even during some of the later experiences, I was able to see the gift in each and every experience in my life.

Within each of our not-so-normal lives, we are faced with challenges along the way, nobody is exempt. These challenges show up for us to help us grow. Each and every one of those experiences leaves us with a “gift”. The catch is, we don’t actually get the gift until we are aware it’s there for us. Imagine a beautifully wrapped present hiding way up high in the closet, but you don’t know it exists. It only becomes exciting when you know it’s there and you have the chance to tear it open. The good news is it’s never too late to find them, we just need to open our minds to another way of seeing things.

My hope is that through this series of dysfunctional, crazy, funny, challenging and sometimes embarrassing glances into my life, you will learn to spot the silver linings in your life, unveiling these precious gems that have the power to bring you freedom and peace of mind.

I’m going to tell you some very personal details about my life and you will likely have thoughts of judgment, maybe anger at some point, but don’t stress out, just breathe. I forgive you. Xo

 

The Age of Aquarius

Born in the 60’s to two beautiful, free-thinking hippies, life was anything but “normal”. Our jet-setting parents, who resembled movie stars, had big parties, big hair, took us on fancy vacations and exposed us to a fast-paced way of life. Not your typical hippies, I suppose.

We regularly attended public school – except that one time which you will learn about later. Oy veh.  We performed dance routines on the lawn for our parents with the neighbor kids, we rode our bikes all day until dusk, and we spent our days doing what most typical kids did back in the 60’s and 70’s. Looking back, it’s pretty clear that our lives were “different” than most of the kids on our block.

Believe me when I tell you I had plenty to be potentially embarrassed about growing up. I could have walked around in shame because my family looked and acted differently, but over time I was able to see the blessings that came with being raised by hippies. I learned to see my life through eyes of appreciation, freeing myself of shame – a very harmful substance to store in one’s body.

This “peace/love” world taught me to be open-minded and accepting of all types of people and circumstances without much effort. “Live and let live” was the mantra of their generation and in our house. Imagine a world where everybody accepted everybody else for who they are and with love for their neighbor. The world would be a very different place today. I’m proud of this gift I was given at a young age, and to this day strangers regularly approach me and tell me their stories effortlessly as if they have known me forever. I feel truly blessed that people feel safe to share their lives with me.

Having been raised by two parents who were “otherwise focused” taught me to be low maintenance and independent, too. I see how hard people work to keep up appearances and how they rely so heavily on others, and I am grateful to have learned to take care of myself without needing material objects to make me happy. This made things much easier when I lost my job later in life and had to downsize my life considerably.

Our parents teach us in many ways, and some of their best lessons are in the form of what not to do. I learned that a life of partying and drugs was not the life for me by watching others using drugs in excess. I may have had a completely different experience in another family, but I cherish my past and all of its dysfunction…I have no regrets.

Just Breathe…

The greatest smallest just breathe logogifts in my life have come in the form of breast cancer, foreclosure, my drug and sex addicted father, who passed away when I was ten years old, my ex-husband, my children, Jake and Jonah, and their sister, Sydnee, who died two days shy of her due date.

One might ask how losing a father at a young age, getting divorced, losing a child or having cancer could possibly be considered gifts. There is no doubt that these were very challenging times in my life, but once the dust settled, and maybe even during some of the later experiences, I was able to see the gift in each and every experience in my life.

Within each of our not-so-normal lives, we are faced with challenges along the way, nobody is exempt. These challenges show up for us to help us grow. Each and every one of those experiences leaves us with a “gift”. The catch is, we don’t actually get the gift until we are aware it’s there for us. Imagine a beautifully wrapped present hiding way up high in the closet, but you don’t know it exists. It only becomes exciting when you know it’s there and you have the chance to tear it open. The good news is it’s never too late to find them, we just need to open our minds to another way of seeing things.

My hope is that through this series of dysfunctional, crazy, funny, challenging and sometimes embarrassing glances into my life, you will learn to spot the silver linings in your life, unveiling these precious gems that have the power to bring you freedom and peace of mind.

I’m going to tell you some very personal details about my life and you will likely have thoughts of judgment, maybe anger at some point, but don’t stress out, just breathe. I forgive you. Xo