Poetry can be inspiring, motivating, heart-wrenching, powerful, but it always inflicts emotion. It can pull at my heartstrings or just make me laugh. Writing poetry is a hobby for me and have decided to keep a notebook in my backpack just for this purpose. While sitting at the car wash a couple of weeks ago (why does it take them so long?) I penned this one I call The Big Fat Fail.
Enjoy and let me know what emotions you feel when reading it by commenting below. Feel free to share your stories of taking your “sucking lemons” failing moments and how you turned them into “sweet lemonade”!
The Big Fat Fail
Fail forward, they say! And I can’t disagree, but it’s hard to focus while nursing skinned knees.
Bumps, bruises, scrapes, the inevitable aches, the road rash of crashing, but that’s what it takes.
To live is to fail, that’s the lesson I’ve learned through age and experience, or just getting burned.
20/20 vision for me has ALWAYS revealed, every fail that I’ve suffered has earned me more steel.
Failure = Opportunity! To this I confess, I love who I am now, having passed or “failed” each test.
Be sad in the moment, scream, cry or kick, but look for the good, and lickety-split,
you’ll find your opportunity, practice! Give it a whirl! The Big Fat Fail can turn (I promise) into your pearl.
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A Story of My Best Friend’s DepressionThe Back Story
Have you ever had one of those days? Or maybe one of those weeks, or months, or a year? How about multiple years? Well, this is a story of my most precious friend in the entire world who was in his second year of things not going well at all and me being in such a dilemma watching him suffer that I just had to figure out some way to help. My best friend is my husband and he was drowning.The back story all started when his mom passed away in March of 2014. No, I think it actually began around December of 2013 so let’s begin there. Our family-owned business was doing great! While we are a very small company, we had always seen an increase every year or at least stayed level, even during the recession. We had been in business for ten years and decided it was time to expand our space. We spent quite a bit of money with upgrades and of course the new rent amount, double the utility bills…you get the picture. Not two months later everything stopped. Quite literally stopped. I swear that our clients were abducted by aliens and left the planet for at least six months. Business was that bad. That’s enough to cause anyone stress, right?Enter mom falling again and going into the hospital. She was in ICU for awhile, began to get better, was moved to the rehab facility that we didn’t like much and during this whole transition, my hubby contracted bronchitis. Not only is bronchitis a knock-down, drag-out illness, but it rendered him unable to visit his mom for fear of getting her sick in her current condition. While he was on the mend with crazy antibiotics and rest, mom took a turn for the worst while still in rehab by catching a deadly form of pneumonia that put her back in ICU to what would become a fight for her life that she was unable to win.Not only was business bad and he was sick, but his mom had passed away which is always a heart-wrenching thing. He was close to his mom, taking her out to dinner on Wednesday nights and us having family dinner with her and the rest of the family every Sunday. While after 5 weeks of her being in the hospital it wasn’t completely unexpected, it changed everything.A couple months of sadness pass and we enter the summer months. Business still isn’t going as well as we would like and while his mom and dad had a trust (WHICH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND) so that things run more smoothly, you still have to take care of things…lots of things. Bank accounts, the house, furniture, knick-knacks, jewelry, the dog, and enough Christmas decorations to light up the White House…you get the idea. That’s when the shingles hit. More antibiotics, more rest.Then come your first set of holidays without your mom with whom you’ve spent every Christmas with the exception of maybe one or two from the time you were born. No one feels like celebrating, much less decorating, even if you have White House worthy decorations. That can just be tough. Really tough…more depression.
January rolls around and he feels a little ambitious. The business picks up just a tad and he starts riding his bike again, but this time he isn’t recovering very well. Gym workouts? Same thing. Sore for too many days than you should be sore. He hates going to the doctor so he toughs it out for a few months to around the one-year anniversary of his mom passing and takes a little fall on his bike. Nothing major, just a little “owie” on his elbow that starts to get better until about two weeks after when the scab gets bumped off and it gets infected. So infected that his one arm looks like Popeye (no joke!) and of course we were out of town so you end up at an unfamiliar urgent care. Dual shots of antibiotics in both butt cheeks (writhing on the bed kind of pain for those shots!) and oral antibiotics just for kicks….let’s just knock this out along with any good flora you might have had left in your intestines up until now.That was the last straw. He felt so miserable, so depressed, couldn’t work out, didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I imagine that this is the definition of a permanent funk that just won’t go away. It was awful to watch. It didn’t matter what I did or how much I tried to “pump him up” as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say…it just wasn’t enough. I felt completely helpless as to how to help.
As a last ditch effort, we tried what I call a “voodoo doctor”. Tons of blood tests run, loads of supplements taken (and when I say loads…I mean LOADS), more blood tests in certain intervals. No dice. My man was shot so full of holes you could strain spaghetti through him. His body had been hurt multiple times, his heart hurt over the loss of his mother, he couldn’t work out because it was debilitating which left his self-esteem in the toilet, and work wasn’t altogether going well either. Sleep was the order of the day and the more of it the better. I had to do something!The Physical Plan
I am a Certified Holistic Health Coach, have taken classes through Dr. John McDougall and received a certificate in plant-based nutrition through eCornell University. I started researching everything I could about healing your immune system while my husband started reading books on the subject. While there is a ton of information out there and only varied opinions on the subject, we made a plan to repair his health.We started a 5-day juice fast following the incredible recipes out there by Joe Cross from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. (He has the best ones out there, hands down…although anything that juices a turnip ends up like smelly gym socks or disgusting body odor, so I don’t recommend anything with turnips in it!). Admittedly, after day 2 we were so sluggish that we decided to add a light, healthy dinner as we just couldn’t function at work without more food in our guts, it was wonderful and it made me feel great! It was the perfect re-boot for our bodies.We then followed up with a 21-day elimination diet that took out known trigger foods. All that means is that while you may not have a specific allergy to a food, you could have some sort of reactions to particular foods. We eliminated gluten products, corn, and soy because while they recommend also nixing dairy, we are already vegan so no worries there!We then followed that up with a 2-week round of Arbonne’s pre-biotic/pro-biotic packets once per day. Needless to say…it worked! While it took several months to re-gain strength and endurance (imagine not working out for 18 months…you’re a bit out of shape), but he’s doing fantastically well physically. He’s not 100% yet as I can still beat him uphill on a mountain bike, but he’s sticking right with me now so I know it’s only a matter of time before he will be kicking my rear end again!The Emotional PlanWhat happened with the emotional part, though? I can hardly wait to tell you! This is by far the most interesting and fun endeavor I’ve undertaken…all in the name of love and hope! I call it Eddy’s 60 Days of Sunshine and it brought my hubby’s soul back from the dead…literally. (You can download it for FREE when you sign up for my weekly emails on my website HERE)I got to thinking that the only way to reverse engineer something is to do the opposite of what got you there in the first place. The negativity had built up over a period of time. It snuck in until it had taken over the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body. While we had fixed the physical part which in turn helped the mental state, the emotional and spiritual still needed a tune-up.Enter a plan that included friends and family. I printed out 2 months worth of calendars for a total of 60 days and made a list of all friends and family members I could think of that cared about my best friend. The list totaled over 80 people. I then started making phone calls, texting, Facebook messaging all of them. I assigned one person each one day and the only guidance I gave them was to just check in, see how he was doing and let him know they cared and loved him and why.At first I decided not to tell him what was happening. Let’s just say that he was so far down what he would later call a “wormhole” that he didn’t even figure it out or get suspicious until day 16! Day 16!! I was at my mom’s and out of town for the weekend when he called me and I had to confess what I was doing. When I told him it was day 16 he was flabbergasted. I had to tell him who had been assigned which day just to convince him.He will admit that at first it seemed a bit saddening to learn it wasn’t the “universe” just reaching out to him in his time of need, but I figured we are instruments in the Lord’s hands and he has a lot to do so he uses us to answer others prayers for help. Even if they don’t realize they need the help.Some sent him texts or emails. Some took him to lunch or dinner. Some called and visited for an hour. It was an awesome experience to watch that much love being shown for one individual. And you know what? It worked! The 60 days ended with a trip up to San Francisco for him to play a golf tournament with his buddies and visit old friends. The perfect ending to a perfect 60 days.
My only dilemma as the days were coming to an end was how to keep the love going. I created a Facebook page dedicated to him and invited all of his friends to post about their experience they had on their assigned day. On day 60, I added my hubby to the group and he was able to read their messages. He will then be able to go back and read them when he’s feeling blue. He is also more connected to some long, lost friendships that had needed some attention.The best side effect getting out of this depression was the reaction from the friends and family I had asked to participate. I did not anticipate the good will felt, the love felt of service being rendered. The gratitude of those people that they were made a part of something bigger that quite literally saved a life.Today I am grateful again for my husband who supports me in all I do, even if it’s off-your-rocker kinda crazy (which lots of my ideas are). I am grateful to all who pitched in to make this project work. I am grateful to my daughter who would help me text and make some calls while we ran errands to set up the next week’s participants. It worked!You can listen to Eddy’s side of this story by going to Apple Podcasts, Lauri’s Lemonade Stand, Episode #011.While I am not a clinical psychologist and you should seek professional help if you are depressed,this worked for us and I am so happy it did.
You Are a Super HeroSuper Heroes vs VillainsI am a crazy movie addict. I will just admit that now and get it out of the way. I also am admittedly an OCD organizational freakazoid. That means that not only do I love movies with super heroes, but I had shelving built on one wall around my TV to house them, separated by genre AND alphabetized within their genre. Crazy, right? (Wait until you learn about how I send my birthday cards every year) Not only do I have them organized in such a way, but I have a list on my phone called “Movies”. Within that list are movies coming out that I want to see and the date they debut, movies I want to add to my collection, and a list of VHS tapes I have left to switch over to DVD’s. I love movies!
I am a sucker for a good tear-jerker, love the action films and chick-flicks, and Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightley is the one I’ve watched the most. Not only am I addicted to movies, but I believe I’m simply addicted to happy endings. I want to fly without wings, make people laugh like Lucille Ball, have magical powers like Samantha from Bewitched, be strong and have courage like Cinderella, sing like Queen Latifah, and kick ass like Lara Croft. That’s not asking too much, right?One of the things I’ve learned is that you cannot have heroes without villains. If the villains did not exist, super heroes would not be discovered or needed. The super heroes themselves might not ever know that they are super heroes because nothing challenged them to become more than they already were. In the latest Cinderella movie, her mother charged her to be strong and have courage. This was simply a dying wish of a mother to her daughter until the wicked stepmother and stepsisters entered her life to test her and try her. Wonder Woman (Linda Carter) was living an oblivious, innocent life in the Bermuda Triangle on an island paradise knowing nothing of the outside world until she took her invisible plane to the United States and discovered she could make a difference there and not let bad guys win. The Bionic Woman, Emma in Once Upon a Time, the latest Maleficent, the list goes on.
I believe so much in happy endings and in super heroes, that I’ve decided to create my own happy ending and become a super hero myself. A lofty goal you say? Mock me if you must, but I’m living the dream. No, not a dream…a reality. 20 years ago if you had told me I would grow up to be a super hero I would have laughed right out loud. Heck, even 10 years ago would have had me doubting through and through. But here I am, a living breathing super hero. Guess what? You are, too! Or can decide to be if that is your goal and that it’s what YOU want to be when you grow up.The good news is that it is never to late to decide to be a super hero. You cannot say, “I’m too old, or too worn out, or too many bad things have happened to me, or I’ve caused too many bad things to happen”. Those are just excuses that need to be kicked to the curb where they belong. Faith wins over fear if you will let it.Does being a super hero free you from ever having bad things happen to you again? NO! Superman had kryptonite and Lex Luthor. Lara Croft had the Luminoti, not to mention her own heart to worry about. Batman, The Arrow, X-Men, Wonder Woman, The Incredibles all had new villains to battle. I suppose that’s job security. Or, it is how you too can continue to learn that you are capable of more than you could ever imagine. I’ve watched The Flash get knocked down time and time again and still that dude is optimistic – how does he do that? Just when you thought you had learned every lesson, there was more of you to discover. Things you never knew you could do or imagined were possible. These villains make us stronger.So, who is your villain right now? For me, I might not have known I was even fighting a villain until the battle was over. Sometimes, I could see the villain coming from a mile away and I had to choose to run or stand up and fight. Other times it was a crime against my heart that hurt so bad I could barely breathe, or eat, or sleep. Others still were crimes brought to me unbidden, but had to be dealt with just the same.
Let me share one of my oldest villains with you. Teenage pregnancy. I don’t think any little girl sets her dream to be pregnant by the time she is 16, especially one that has a future as a super hero. While I do not have anyone to blame but myself, it is a fact that “most people end up in this situation in a misguided attempt to fulfill some pretty basic human needs. We all have a need to feel loved and worthwhile. We all seek to have joy and happiness in our lives.” (Ezra Taft Benson) If those needs are not met, we seek them in places that are unhealthy to ourselves and others. (Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that your decisions effect only you…just like positive choices leave ripple effects, so do poor choices.)My villain changed my life and the lives of those around me. I was married at 16 1/2 years of age, having my first daughter at age 17. I did not finish high school and I did not attend Prom. My love for playing on the high school basketball team was squashed and my flute would gather dust for years. I had disappointed my parents and ignored all advice from people who were trying to help me take a better path and who cared about me a great deal.My decisions led me to many more poor choices in relationships for lots of years, but as I’ve told others before, I would rather change my course than be completely derailed. Because inevitably that is what happened…I was completely derailed, lying on the floor, unable to make another decision in my life, good or bad. All of my choices had led me to the side of my bed, on my knees, praying for help. Help to loosen these chains of bad habits in the area of my love life. I asked God to let me be happy with the life I had with my three beautiful daughters as a single mom. To be content with who I had become as a woman even if my relationship woes were unsightly to say the least.And you know what? He did so much more. Not everyone believes that there is a God and I’m not out to convert you with this blog, but I want to be honest in my story-telling here. When I turned my life over to Him, instead of pushing my own agenda, things changed. He was incredibly more kind to me than I ever had been to myself. He led me and guided me to a path that led to a beautiful marriage. A safe haven to figure out how to be a super hero despite any human frailties I may have experienced in my life to date. Just like SuperMan had to go away for awhile to get things figured out and learn of his true potential, I was given the gift of another second chance.
Just over 8 years ago, I married my hero, my best friend. My heart has been healed and my capacity to love has grown. While I had earned my GED as a teenager, I wanted my high school diploma because it was something I had deprived myself of. (As a side note, don’t try this at home…it is SO MUCH EASIER to pass high school as a teenager than an adult…TRUST ME!!) I went back to adult school and the math that I hated with a passion and earned my diploma. Not only was that super, crazy kind of hard, but I took graduation pictures, attained a class ring, and even spoke at my graduation where lots of friends and family were in attendance (including my tutor I had to get to pass math!). They didn’t even have the CAHSEE (California High School Exit Exam) when I was in high school! It seemed so unfair, but I passed! I graduated at the ripe old age of 41!Conquering a villain is an amazing feeling. After I graduated high school I felt like I could take on the world! I could do anything! Be anything! I took certificate courses online, became a Certified Holistic Health Coach, started teaching cooking classes locally. I just can’t stop! It is part of the reason I am writing this blog and pursuing a career as a public speaker. To help women realize their potential and to believe in this small, four-letter word…hope.There will be many more villains that will need their ass kicked and the only one to do it will be me because those villains are mine to fight. Whatever or whomever your latest villain is in your life, I want you to know that you can be the super hero in your life. You can have your happy ending. It will not be easy and may involve a lot of hard work. Learn to love work. Do something! If all you can do is just think it, think it. But then say it, whisper it if you need to. Then say it out loud. Now louder! Now take that first step. What action can you take to begin your journey?I believe in hope. I believe in faith. I believe in love.I believe in you. I believe in us.
Bright LinesI have friends from many different faiths. Some of my friends and even strangers have asked me how I can be in what they deem such a “rigid” faith. So many rules…so many restrictions. But I believe that rules bring freedom. Enter in: Bright Lines.The proof is in the pudding…or jail. Yes, jail. Very simply put, there are rules set in place that if you break, you go to jail. In jail all of your freedoms are taken from you. Now, someone else is in charge of what used to be your decisions. They decide what you get to eat, to wear, and where you can and cannot go. You no longer have control over your life because you broke the rules.Just recently I was introduced to the concept of Bright Lines. I looked it up on Google and here is what they had to say: “A bright-line rule is a clearly defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation. The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application.”Let me give you a few examples of Bright Lines in my life so you can see that you have Bright Lines already established in your life as well. I have a Bright Line that I have drawn about never consuming alcohol or doing drugs. I will not eat any animal products or watch R-rated movies. I even have one for never driving over 37 mph in our neighborhood because the cops are always perched somewhere and I don’t want a ticket! These particular Bright Lines keep my body happy and cheerful physically, my brain happy and cheerful mentally, and my bank account happy and cheerful for not getting that speeding ticket!There have been times in my life that even though those Bright Lines were established in what I thought to be in stone, I broke. I’m not talking about coming up and putting my toe right against the line. I’m talking about wiping the line away, jumping completely on the other side, feeling a moment of exhilaration for having broken the rules, and then eventually feeling guilt over my decision and the inevitable consequences.You have every freedom in making your decisions, but you are not in charge of the consequences. Good or bad, you do not have control over the consequences of your decisions.The reason I am introducing this Bright Line concept to you today is that no matter what your past has been and the rules that we have all broken, we can begin today to set up new Bright Lines for ourselves. Maybe it is something as simple as developing a habit to brush your teeth in the evening and not just in the morning. (My dad is a dentist and I’m still working on this one!) Maybe it is to not say something critical to anyone today, especially your loved ones. Maybe it is not to have critical thoughts towards yourself. Maybe it’s a bigger goal that you have in mind.Whatever your goal is, draw a Bright Line and as my friend and mentor, Susan Pierce Thompson says, “Simply Resume”. Don’t beat yourself up over having crossed the line. Just draw another one and resume. I wish you good luck with your Bright Lines! Sending love to you wherever you are in your journey.