| If I could say one thing to you tonight, I’d say thank you. Thank you for all of the wrong decisions that you’ve made, so that I can recognize the right ones. I’d say you’re braver than you know, even when you’re shaking on the inside. I’d say you could walk through fire and rise up from the ashes, if only you would listen to your heart and not your head. I’d say you can climb out of anything when you say thank you for your life.
If I could say one thing to you tonight, I’d say that all is well and right. All is well, and timing is everything so don’t worry it will come. I’d say that your dreams are worth following, even if the road dead ends at times. It doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it, just place your struggles in the light. I’d say that you are learning, so cut yourself a little break. I’d say you can do anything when you believe that all is well and right.
If I could say one thing to you tonight, I’d say above all others trust yourself. Trust yourself to know what’s right, not for others, but for yourself. I’d say that sometimes no is more powerful than yes. To many times we say yes without thinking of the cost. I’d say that once you’ve mastered trust in yourself it spreads like ripples to the world.
If I could say one thing to you tonight, I’d say know thyself. Written on the Oracle of Delphi is where you find this simple secret left from times that have gone by. It’s just two simple words, but they need no more embellishment. Just know thyself and that is all.
If I could say one thing to you tonight, I’d say always be open. New experiences make new life, always be open when they come. I’d say I was more afraid of staying than going and it’s time to do the hard things not let those old fears run your life. I’d say always be open, let the change come where it may.
If I could say one thing to you tonight, I’d just say I love you. I love you for who you’ve been, who you are and who you are becoming. I’d say keep your heart open, love is your weapon and your shield. I’d say these are the lessons that I leave to the girl I used to be, the woman that I aspire to be and to the women I hope for my daughters to be. Always be grateful, all is well, trust yourself, know yourself, stay open, and above all else LOVE with all your heart.
The Wealthiest place on the planet is the graveyard, because in the graveyard we will find inventions that we were never exposed to, ideas, dreams that never became a reality, hopes and aspirations that were never acted upon.” ~Les Brown
I think about the above quote a lot lately. I guess it’s a side affect of talking to people about death every day. Oddly death isn’t really the thing it makes me think about, but because I talk about death all day when I’m alone my thoughts turn more to life. I’ve made my peace with death already, not in a I’m ready to go kind of way. I would describe it is as more of a I’m not afraid of you, so you no longer rule my life type of way. Funny thing is that I have noticed that there are more people out there that are afraid of life than they are of death. I don’t know about you but when the bright light comes and beckons me to follow it, I want to be able to move on knowing I did the things that brought me joy and not look back and wonder, but did I live…..
I know I lived in the sense that I had the jobs, made the money, paid the bills and did the things that I was taught to do. None of those things necessarily any more fulfilling than the other, they all amount to a hamster wheel we seem to get caught up on and can’t seem to find our way off. I’ve had the weddings, the divorces, the relationships that I just can’t seem to get right. Don’t get me wrong they all gave me what I needed at the time and I wouldn’t be half of who I am without even one of them. All those things thrown into a scrapbook together will certainly make a life, but that bigger question to me lies just a little deeper below the surface and it still asks, I know I had a life, but did I live….
Did I ever, even just once throw a dream up into the air so high I couldn’t see if it was coming back, and just hold my arms out open wide, eyes closed with faith that I could catch it? Did I stay so closed off in my walls of distrust that I missed the fact that I could have made a difference, or did I live with a completely open heart? Did I help when I could? Did I speak out when someone needed a voice, or did I pretend that mine didn’t matter? Did I write the book? Did I take the trip? Did I sing the song, the one that only I can hear? These are the things I ponder when I hear the words, but did I live…
Trust me when I say that contemplating death makes people come up with notebooks full of regret. Things they wish they had done different, people that they wish they would have stayed in touch with and a body that they wished they would have loved enough to take care of. More people than we realize have a mind so full of regret the it’s the first to die. I hope that like me, you refuse to be the person with the deathbed regrets. I hope you live with a wide-open heart, ready for all possibilities. I hope you live with gratitude for life, because each second is a gift. I hope you cultivate joy in your life and not just things. Make memories and not just paychecks. I hope you take a deep dive into the mysteries of life and if you ever find yourself asking the question, but did I live….
I hope the only answer that you can shout from the rooftops is YES!
I just saw a quote, that fell in love with me and doesn’t seem to want to leave my head. I don’t know where it came from, it doesn’t say or I could give it proper credit. “My scars are part of my story. They are reminders of how life tried to break me…..and failed.” I don’t often think about my scars, I’m well aware that they exist and I know the story to all of them. When that quote struck me I started thinking about why of all the things in life that I have been through, would these seemingly bad moments when something hurt so bad that it left a permanent mark to remind me of the pain, why would these be moments that I want to remember. Why would that moment need marked?
The oldest scar that I can remember getting is a tiny round one on my right hand just below my thumb. I’ve had that scar since I was about 6 years old. I got a wood splinter in my hand and it was so small that you couldn’t see It. I’m not sure how long it had been there when my hand became infected. I remember my grandmother was the one who found it, and she was the home remedy grandma, not the emergency room grandma. So she basically held me down and used a safety pin dipped in alcohol and lots of alcohol to clean out my infection. Again my mind wonders….why this moment? Who wants to remember this? I had so many amazing moments with my grandmother why did I have to keep this one? Maybe …..that moment was the moment where I developed a love for home remedies. Maybe, on a deeper level, that was the first moment that I experienced that level of compassion from someone. To love someone so much that you were going to help them even if they fight you.
Maybe I thought there is something to this scar thing, but maybe it’s not all pain like the quote suggests, maybe those scars are the greatest moments of love that you’ve experienced here?
Having never thought about this much before, this thought will need some more examining…..
My next set of scars that I remember are on my face, my lips to be exact. I crashed my grandfather’s ATV when I went up a steep hill that I had never tried to go up before. I always watched everyone else bravely ride to the top while I parked and walked up my uncles house. This day though I was out by myself. I pulled up to the creek beside which I would normally park next to when I would walk. I sat there for a few minutes and thought to myself that I knew I could make it to the top no problem. All I had to do was stand up just as I got through the water and throw my weight forward like everyone else did when they did it. How hard is that? That’s it I thought, today is the day. Tomorrow my brother will no longer be able to make fun of me for having to park and walk, tomorrow they would all know that I could do it to! So I started going really fast and got across the water no problem, and the next thing I really remember is lying on my back and watching the ATV coming down on top of me. I was 12 I would have been crushed. The handle of the big bike hit me in the mouth, knocked out teeth, cracked others split my lips open in 2 places, and then instead of continuing to come down on top of me it rolled to the side and fell back down into the water.
After that, the next moment I remember I was spitting out teeth in the creek and trying to wash the blood out of my mouth with water. Then I walked the rest of the way to my uncle’s house ( this was in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors to see what had happened and long before cell phones), I went inside, got some washcloths and tried again to clean up and was able to assess the damage. I know I thought about calling my mom, but thought she was going to be really mad and my face hurt, my head hurt and my arm was really hurting, I didn’t feel like getting yelled at, so I decided to walk the mile home. As if somehow by walking home I was going to be able to hide the fact that I was missing teeth and my face was split open. But again, I was 12 so I know somehow this made sense in my head. When I got home my mom was gone, but my dad was there. He of course wanted to know what happened so I choked it out through a thousand tears. He told me to go lay down and that he would be back. He went to get my mom and see if the ATV could be taken home. My mom took me to the hospital where it turned out that I had a broken arm, needed 6 stiches in the corner of my lip and another 8 in the center of my bottom lip, and after all of that I was going to require multiple dentist visits that I wasn’t looking forward to. As I think about this I have to once again wonder, why this moment? With all of the good times that we had playing on those why is this one the main one that I had to keep? Maybe it was all so that I could learn that some things are dangerous and if I was always trying to keep up with the boys something really bad was going to happen. Or maybe, if you go a level deeper, then maybe this was the first moment that I had the experience that life is precious. One bad decision, could quickly take it all away. Once again I wondered if instead of what I always thought was such a bad thing, or even an ugly thing especially being on my face, maybe this to was love.
I could go on and on, as I have numerous scars, and I could tell you the stories of each and every one of them. How they came to be, which shoes I was wearing when I got a certain blister, what I am discovering about each one. How inevitably weather it was a moment that almost took my life, or a moment that changed my life like the stretch marks that line my belly I found a moment in there that was nothing but pure love. I could also go through the one’s that you cannot see with your eyes, I can only feel them with my heart. They are the inside scars the ones we carry for our loved ones no longer here, or for those that broke our hearts on the journey to where we sit today. Those also carry with them profound lessons and so much love. I could tell you about them all like I said, but I think you get the point.
They say that everything in life is love, that in the truth of everything that we have done or experienced, be it what we think is bad or what we think is good at the core of it when we look back on it there was always love there. I’ll never look at my scars the same. Where there is love there is life, and that is what we are all covered up with….life! Now I think that the more scars one has is just how much they have lived, experienced and loved, and isn’t that the point?
Piece of paper staring up at me right now and I am wondering when I lost my connection to the written word. Not just words, but actually taking the pen and writing on the paper. I used to not be able to write anything coherent unless it was with a pad and pen. Now years spend staring at the computer screen have tainted that relationship, or on nights like this I have to wonder if maybe it just means that I have nothing to say.
Seriously….I am surrounded by everything in the world that I need to inspire me to write the most insightful post I’ve ever written. I’m sitting on the bank of one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen staring across. Listening as she peacefully glides along. Birds making all kinds of noise in the background, forest surrounding me. There’s a chill in the air, but nothing that a light sweater won’t fix. I am literally sitting in the middle of the most inspiring place I’ve ever seen! Yet I sit here staring at the paper as she stares at me. I’ve been waiting a week to clear my head and find some time to write. So here I am. Close my eyes, take a deep breath, plant both feet on the ground – Breath again, and stare at empty paper.
The only noise in this place is the sound of a train whistling in the distance, water tumbling over the rocks making its way so effortlessly towards the ocean. All I can think in this moment is how I wish I could bottle the energy of this place so I could keep it with me all the time. I don’t know if you have ever been somewhere and been completely aware of the fact that that place was healing something inside of you. That’s what I feel right now. Like I said I wish that I could bottle this place and carry it with me where ever I go. Although I know these kind of moments are only to be experienced in the blink of an eye. How present we were in that moment will determine how much of it we are allowed to carry into the future with us.
Tonight in the spirit of being present and not losing this moment for a long time to come, I am going to put the pen down, put the phone away and get lost in the river for just a bit longer.
Just like that magic happens. As I am disconnecting the most beautiful sunset unfolds over the river. I finally have a word….perfect, this couldn’t be any more perfect.
In my life I have been lucky enough to have had many amazing people walk through my world. There are however very few that I would say that I really look up to in such a way that I strive to be like them. In the handful of those amazing souls my two amazing daughters are at the top of that list. Some people might think it a little backwards for the parent to look up to their children, I just think it means that as a parent I did my job right. To raise a child that is so amazing that you admire them….I kind of think that was my job and I did it not once, but twice. We should all be so lucky. Today I want to honor my youngest daughter Alyssa Crawford, for all that she is and all that she is yet to become. She is 23 years old today, and in those 23 years this will be the first birthday that I have missed. Although I am away with her blessing and her encouragement, this is the hardest day that I have been away from home so far.
So Miss Alyssa, here’s to you…..
On this day 23 years ago I held you in my arms for the first time, there is nothing in the world like the moment that they put this tiny person in your arms that you have been waiting to meet for what seems like forever. Unfortunately I was a little drugged so the moment was quick, but it was the first of many amazing moments yet to come with you in my arms and your big, beautiful presence in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today without my daughters. We learn from each other, it has never been just my children learning from me. That is how I think it should be, as our children know more than we ever give them credit for. I am happy to say that at the end of the day I know that when it’s needed that I am the little voice of reason sitting on your shoulder helping you make wiser decisions, just as you and your sister are mine. It’s hard to believe sometimes that you are already 23 because in some ways time has gone by all too quickly, although this journey of ours has not always been an easy one and sometimes it seems like it’s been longer.
I’d like today to tell everyone all of the amazing things about Alyssa, but I’d be writing all night and I’d like to post this while it’s still her birthday. So here are just a few of the things about my daughter that make her so special, and a superhero in my eyes.
- Beautiful – Inside and out. I love that as you are getting older you get more beautiful. I will never forget the time you told me that you thought that you would never be more beautiful than you were in one of your pictures from high school. Then you realized that you were just loving life and it was the energy you had around you that made you glow so much and you realized that when you get happy in your life it shows on the outside. Keep cultivating that energy and take it with you your whole life.
- Giving – Always you are coming home with stories about the people that you give to. You don’t just roll down the window and pass some change out like most of us do. You take the time to go get a gift card and some cash, sometimes a meal and take it back to them. You my lady are truly an angel, you just show up for people in a way that I envy. Never lose that giving side of yourself in this world that can be sometimes cold, you are a breath of fresh air.
- Funny – I know the entire world doesn’t always get our sense of humor, but put me, you and Ashton in a room together and we can laugh all night. I don’t care if anyone else thinks we are funny…the important part is that we do!! Keep laughing, life is too short for anything else.
- Strong – You have a strength that most people don’t know about. In the short 23 years that you have graced us with your presence you have been through some stuff! I know there are times when you want to let things bring you down, but you always find the strength to get back up and come out on top. Watching you has brought me strength in so many untold ways. Always stay strong enough to cry, and strong enough to know when it’s time to wipe your tears and get back up.
- Loving – They say you never lose by loving, you only lose by holding back. You throw your heart in the ring and go for it…always. It doesn’t matter if it is friends, family or the man in your life, when you love, you love. I am blessed to be your mother and be one of the people in this world that gets to be loved by you. Never lose that all in love you have in your heart…it’s a rare thing in this world.
There are a million more reasons why I look up to you, but those are the ones I’ll tell the world today. Happy Birthday Alyssa Crawford. It is one of the greatest pleasures in this life to have the privilege to be your Mom. I love you! Here is to the next 23!!
P.S. I would have posted some embarrassing childhood photos, but I didn’t bring them on the trip. Lucky Girl!!
If you ever get a chance to travel, I highly suggest you do. Not a vacation, travel it’s different. As few hotels as possible, stay with family, friends and sleep out in the great outdoors. There’s so much more to life than the next Hilton down the freeway. If you can’t afford to travel far then travel in your home state. I guarantee you there are a million wonders there that you have never seen. I for instance have lived in Arizona my entire life and I have never seen the Grand Canyon except from a plane. After this adventure and getting back in touch with how amazing the world is, I guarantee it is now on the priority list. How far you travel is not the issue, just go. Go somewhere, go everywhere, see the world, see some sights. I am not even two weeks into a 14 month adventure around this beautiful country and around every corner I find a new land. I almost feel like I have seen it all, not imagining that around the next corner there will be a sight more beautiful than the last. Some of these places I swear I could only imagine existing in a fairytale, some mythical place like Neverland. I have already seen the most beautiful rivers, the most enchanted forests, and tonight I am sleeping beneath a giant redwood that could tell stories of this earth that we could never imagine in the thousand years since it has been standing.
I have always loved pictures, I’m a photographer at heart. That was in fact a big part of why I wanted to take this trip. Give myself an excuse to get out my camera and get my creative juices flowing again. The only sad part about that is that no picture could ever do justice to the amazing beauty that my eyes see every day. The most amazing part of all of it is that it’s only just begun, this epic journey of mine. When I said I knew that I would come home different, I think that was an understatement. I’ve already changed, and the journey has just begun. Who knows what tomorrow will bring or where it will lead. My favorite part, for as much as it drives me crazy is the not knowing. If you ever get a chance to travel, travel like that. Let the wind blow you where it may, try not to keep to many schedules, let the days come and be in it, all of it.
If you ever get a chance to travel, forget all of the reasons why you can’t and just find a few reasons why you can. I have no doubt that this trip came into my life at the exact moment that it was supposed to, but I’ve been putting it off my whole life. Finally I had to listen to the whispers on the wind that were telling me to go. If I had to go home tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret a moment of it. Already I have seen more beauty in the world than I have ever imagined existed, and I know there is more waiting for me tomorrow. The only side effect that may come from this, is I might have a hard time keeping my feet in one place for two long for many years to come. Grateful am I to have the opportunity to lay here under a tree that has lived at least twenty lifetimes to my one and wait for the full moon to come over the horizon and bless me with this magickal night, then wake in the morning and see where the wind blows us and fly.
“You’ll get what you want in life when you stop making excuses on why you don’t have it” – Unknown
I want to walk one more time in a meadow full of wildflowers and put them in my hair like I did when I was little. That is one time in every girls life that she gets to feel like a real princess.
I want to walk barefooted through the sand, jump some waves and feel the feeling of the water between my toes. Wake up in the morning after two showers and wonder how is my bed still full of sand…and not care.
I want to walk through the woods the smell of evergreens on the breeze, and feel no fear. Not worry if I’ll get lost, completely oblivious to the fact that the wolf is watching. Somehow though in her innocence of not knowing that she should even be afraid of the wolf, he leaves her alone. Yeah…I want to be that girl again.
I want to ride a horse like I’ve never fallen off. All the confidence in the world that the amazing animal that’s carrying you around would never hurt you. I miss the innocence before the fall.
“If you want something, get it. Period.” – Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happiness
I want to write books. Meaningful, life changing, mind altering books. The kind you always have to read twice to understand, but once you do it’s your favorite. The you’ve turned the pages so much the cover’s falling off kind of books.
…..and then, after I’ve written them…
I want to speak them. The words there on those pages that you love to read so much. I want to speak them to whoever will listen, or just out loud to myself if no one else can hear.
I want to remember. Not just this moment or the next, but all of the little ones in between. By some definition out there I saw somewhere, you might even call me a hoarder of moments. I like to hold on to them, cherish them and share them. I think that’s why I love pictures so much. My pictures, your pictures….even someone I don’t know. It gives you a snapshot of a living breathing moment…so we can remember.
I want to believe in love with my whole heart and not just the broken pieces that I’ve been afraid to put back together. To finally understand that there is no wall thick enough to keep your heart from breaking. So you might as well put it all on the line and bet on yourself in the game.
“ The first step in getting what you want, is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t.” – Unknown
I want to see things as they are, not as I would like them to be or how the world says they should be. How they really are. Underneath all the makeup and regret. Then I want to see them as they could be so that the future is better than the past.
I want to count the stars and stare at the moon. Watch it moving above me like I’m sitting still. Contemplate a world so cool that the moon actually follows me around.
I want to be remembered someday, not for all of the things that I didn’t do, but for all of the things that I did. All of the things that impacted someone else, because I believe that when you are living your life to your greatest and highest levels that it spreads and others do the same.
Why you ask……
Because I want to……
“When you want something you’ve never had. You have to do something you’ve never done” – Unknown