when a mural is painted over… your gift erased

I came across these photos yesterday of these murals that I painted about 15 years ago in my parents house.  My mom had been wanting something with this Tuscan feel and when Skylar was a baby there was a time that we lived with them so I painted these murals kind of as my rent and a thank you to her and my dad.  I was about 25 years old or so.

This piece was on a large wall that went up the middle of the house in the main living area.

italian countryside mural  

Over in the hallway both sides were lined with similar styled, soft glowing italian countryside inspired art.

So these murals stayed up for about 5-6  years I believe.  My mom told me many times how much she loved them and the feel it gave their home.  My mom passed away in early 2009, her passing was unexpected and shook my world as you can imagine.

Fast forward a few years later and my dad and his girlfriend are living in this house and getting it ready to sell.  My dad’s girlfriend expressed a desire to paint over all these murals with a soft gray color.    I was completely okay with this.   What I didn’t expect was the number of relatives and family members who heard that these murals would be painted over and came to me with complete disapproval.  They couldn’t believe that they’d choose to paint over these.  Over and over for years I heard this from people

I want to share why I felt so at peace with giving my permission.  I think it translates to so many other areas of life.   Even though I had spent dozens of hours painting these pieces, I knew that that was as a gift of love to my mom.  As much as my dad was also there and appreciated them, it was really for her.  I knew that I was okay with keeping those pieces sacred with her, when she was no longer there to appreciate them and enjoy them, then I was okay with understanding that the purpose they fulfilled was complete.   They were no longer needed.

My next reason was more practical, I understood that these murals were not everyone’s taste and neutral colors sell better.

So, I consciously said goodbye to them, thanked them for bringing my mom joy and also felt gratitude that I was able to do something to have brought joy.

I don’t have a clear picture of that wall after it was painted but you can get a feel for the space after:

I share this because it’s not just about the murals.  This could be any heartfelt, handmade gift that is no longer needed.  Giving both the giver and receiver permission to release it knowing it’s purpose was served, love and gratitude were felt and it’s okay to let it go on to provide those to another.  Or in the case like the mural, it won’t be re-gifted… it’s just done. No longer there.   This could be a piece of decor that has brought great joy, like a bowl, dish, etc that gets broken.  Instead of focusing on the breaking part, focus on the joy it brought. Say thank you for that joy or usefulness.

Everything has a cycle, a time.  Sometimes we hold things past when they are meant to be there for us.  I think as a society we have a lot of work to do in giving ourselves permission to release things that no longer light us up.  Or to simply say thank you and let things, people, experiences go on their way. Hold gratitude for the role they played.  This can also be a friendship or job… not all are meant to be forever.  Things will sometimes end, don’t let the ending cloud the lesson and rewards of the experience.

My sister and Skylar in front of the mural one Christmas.

Me, Skylar and my mom

The question I’ll leave you with this this, is there something you’ve been holding on to that you need to let go?  Or a way you can re-frame an experience to find appreciation for it instead of focusing on the loss?

Sending you all love.

 

do you have a friend or loved one who has lost a parent or a child? Here is something you can do.

NEW – Introducing my newest Sacred Hellos remembrance greeting cards 

There are those days that come up; Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, perhaps a wedding, birth of a child or a deceased loved one’s birthday.

These are days where it would be so nice to have a card to send to the family member or friend who is desperately aching for a parent or child that they miss.

These cards are the perfect fit for those occasions.  Letting that person know you are holding them in love, for that specific day and all days. Letting them know you know and see them and their love, their pain. Acknowledging what they are going through without having to come up with the words yourself.

Do you know someone who has recently lost someone close to them?  Get this card, then set a reminder for 51 weeks from now, or for the anniversary of the passing to give that card to them. You’ll be prepared and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Click on the picture for more information or to see closeups.

For the parent missing a child who has passed:

   

For the person missing a Mother –

   

For the person missing a Father –

   

You can click on the pictures above or go to my etsy site to see all the cards. These cards to not mention a specific holiday so they are perfect for any day that you know your friend or loved one could use a little extra love.

I love living in a world, were even when we go through loss and hard times we can be surrounded by friends, co-workers and loved ones who take a moment to let us know they’ve got our backs, are holding us in prayer and surrounding us with love through those especially hard days.

Please share this post or a card link with anyone you know that would love to have this share with a person in their life.  Thanks,

Butterfly wishes from Grandma

This past year I’ve been shown in a million ways that I am supposed to paint the Sacred Hellos artwork.  Validation to others, they aren’t crazy when they see signs; especially the ones who aren’t as vocal as I am about talking about those signs.  Also a comforting, recognition to the hellos I have gotten. They give me so much comfort and peace. After losing my own mom and other’s since I’ve been open to receiving and paying attention to the signs thsey send.  I’m so grateful.  I don’t go looking for them but I do try to notice them once they are there.      Well I have tears today as I realize another perfectly orchestrated hello from a new angel in Heaven.

Since I created the Sacred Hellos artwork I’ve had people asking me if I had any butterfly art. But this week it was all amplified. This week I’ve been overtaken by inspiration, numerous people asking for butterfly art.  I knew that I now was the time to paint them.  I sketched, plotted then I worked all day on Wednesday painting butterflies.

Today, in a completely different mind space I spent time this morning watching videos that my ex-brother in law has taken of his Grandma. This would be my exes Grandma. Sky’s great-grandma.  She was an AMAZING woman.  I feel so blessed to have known and loved her these past 18 years. She passed away earlier this week.  I’ve felt a range of sadness for those she’s left behind and complete happiness for her; imaging her reuniting with her husband who passed away long before I knew her and also seeing her parents again.  She was ready to go be with them.

Below is one of the videos I was watching. It’s a couple years old, yet I haven’t ever seen it.  Feel free to jump to the 6 minute mark.

She talks about how she wants to come back as a butterfly.   Chills and tears.

 

Hal has taken hundreds of hours of video of Grandma. She grew up in New York and is a bold, beautiful Italian woman.  Her blunt, bold style was a new world for me after growing up with my reserved, Minnesota family.  She was full of love.  Her and Skylar shared a birthday. We were all Capricorns and she called us her Minnesota Nanny Goats.

I just sit today in rememberance of her.  I feel like I got a visit that I wasn’t even aware I was getting now looking back at the paintings of butterflies that have overtaken my week.

Thank you for the hello Grandma.  Love you forever!

Here are the paintings from this week. You can click on them to learn more.

Monarch_Visitor_onGreen_Etsy

etsy_Web_Joyful_Visitor

 

Cheerful_Visitor_monarch_butterfly_web

I am grateful I followed the nudge to paint these.  It’ll be fun to see who there were meant for.

Noelle_Signature

 

 

Lessons after death

A few nights ago at 11pm I had a sudden urge that I had to listen to the CD recording from the only reading I’ve had from a medium since my mom passed.  It’s been over a year since I have heard the chilling and comforting messages my mom brought from the other side.  Before I start into that, let’s rewind a bit shall we?

After my mom passed away in early 2009, my heart ached.  It still does.  It was unexpected when it happened so along with the shock there was a lot of grieving.  As my and my sisters continued to have more babies, get married and all of us make more life changes there was also so many times a tangible feeling of deep loss at those events, not being able to see my mom there with us.  We’ve each felt her around at different times, we’ve all gotten signs, had dreams.  But there is nothing like the direct hug, conversation or looking into her beautiful loving eyes.

I’ve always been skeptical of people who say they can communicate with spirit.  I still am actually.  But I’ve know too many times where I know it to be true that I don’t doubt it’s possible.  I know in fact that my mother has came to me in dreams, I’ve been given answers to deep questions I’ve prayed about.  I pray, ask for help my angels, talk to my spirit guide and talk to my mom often as if she’s hear with me.

Back to the CD, in listening to this call the medium (Dwanna Paul) talked about things very clearly that had just happened that day.  She talked about what my husband had just said to me right before the call, passed along my mom’s motherly guidance based on what my sister and I had talked about the night before.  When I asked about messages for my brothers or dad the next 3 things she talked about in a row were for 1 brother, then something exactly regarding my younger brother, then my dad.   It was unbelievable.  I loved too that during the call there were a couple things I didn’t understand.  One for instance was she said my mom was showing her a strand of pearls. That didn’t mean much to me during the call. So she told me to just keep it in mind and I’ll know what it’s supposed to mean.   The next morning I was sitting having coffee and I looked down and my mug and gasped…   the mug was from my honeymoon cruise.  The cruise I was ready to board when I found out my mom had passed away; the Norwegian Pearl. Along the side of the ship was a strand of pearls.   The same ship that we re-took our cancelled honeymoon on 10 months later.   The same ship that randomly at 3am I went out to our balcony of sobbled, deep cathartic cries of missing my mom and talking with her about my life. My missing her, but being really happy otherwise. Talking to her about all the random things I would have when she was alive.   Then I remembered that right before the call the night before with Dwanna, I asked my mom to bring up that conversation as a sign.  Wow.  She sure did.

pearlMug

Months later I noticed a song on the radio all the time.  When I’d walk into the garage that song was on, I got goosebumps from it.  I’d heard it in the car, on the radio. Each time I’d have a physical reaction of knowing to it.   One night I was reading a book by Allison DuBois (the medium that the show Medium is based on) and she talked about her dad that had passed on and how he’d communicate with her through song.  That next morning I went to a networking meeting and on my way home I turned on the radio and that same song was on.  This time, for the first time I listened to the words.  I was stunned.  Here are some of the lyrics,

“Yes, I understand that every life must end, aw-huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw-huh,..
Oh I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands
the ones I love,”       Read more: Pearl Jam – Just Breathe Lyrics | MetroLyrics

The last line of the song is, “meet you on the other side”.

I just sat and cried.   Then I got home and googled it.  I studied the words and listened to it a million times.  It was so healing.  Then I really payed attention to who it was by… Pearl Jam…   yep another pearl reference..    mom, you are amazing!!!!  Looking back the song was released the year she passed away, yet I never was aware of it until all the above happened in 2011.  Really cool.

I’m not looking for anyone to agree with me.  I don’t care.  We all have our comfort levels, what we know deep down.  What we’re scared to know because of fear.  Fear of the unknown and also fear that religion has pushed on us (Highly recommend the book “Messages from Spirit” by Colette Baron-Reid where she really gets into when the Church transitioned from working with spirit mediums to instilling fear about them because they conflicted with the church’s agenda… fascinating read).   For me I have found peace as a Christian but I also believe in an afterlife, the beauty that can come from communicating, trusting, learning and also working with Angels, and more.  I also have found peace in parts of messages from other religions and spiritual teachings as well. But that’s another story…

I recently read a comment from a friend that she had shared on another’s page.  She was talking about the frustration she was having because her mom is in a dark place, not able to see her light, her gifts.  She’s depressed, hoarding and near death.  It’s SO heartbreaking when we want to help someone and they won’t accept our help.  I’ve dealt enough with people with addictions and depression also to know this to be true.  Its the deepest kind of frustrating, and especially when the person passes on it leaves us with a pile of what ifs.  What if I could have spoke up more, earlier.  What if I was too rough.   What if I wouldn’t have judged but instead would have just loved?  What if I wouldn’t have just loved them but instead would have helped them get help….   it is a loop of unrest, and questions that can’t always be answered.

I’ve settled on a deep comfort of believing that no one passes before their time. We all have a time that we’ve planned out before we even got here in this body.  It’s all divinely perfect.  From a human level we often don’t get it, but from a spiritual and soulful level, it’s perfect.   There is a peacefulness that can come from this.  It’s allowed me to go from anger to gratitude and surrender.

 Feather_Closeup

When we’ve lost someone we love, our biggest shift can come when we stop focusing so much on their passing and instead start to focus on the gratitude for their time in our lives.  Our experiences shared, lessons taught and learned.  The love we gave and received.   When we can pull ourselves from the anger of not having longer and instead sit in gratitude for having what we did.

Today I sit in gratitude for those who are in my life.  I savor the memories of those who have passed.  I work to live my life in a way that others will someday look back at their times with me and feel love.

Noelle_Signature

 

New artwork line coming soon!

I am so thrilled to announce that my new artwork line will soon debut!

web_SacredHellos_Logo

Starting over 6 years ago, the night after my mom passed away I had my first “visit” dream.  I knew that she met me in my dream to let me know she was okay.  I woke up from that dream with so much peace about her.  To this day years later I can see the vision from that dream and feel that same feeling of her letting me hold her sweet face in my hands and we poured love into one another.  I will always cherish it.

Fast forward to the night Aspen was born.  I thought my water has broke and started to trickle. I wasn’t sure.   Out loud I asked my mom, “Mom, help me out.”   I went and laid back in bed, then the contractions started.   I got up from bed and it was like it was slow motion, I looked at the clock as I stood up and just as it clicked 11:11pm, mom water broke and gushed out.   Thank you mom.   I counted hundreds of signs I’ve received since her passing.   Songs on the radio that I kept hearing, finally listening to the words and knowing it was from her.  A talk with a medium who validated so many things.  Feathers.  Many feathers.  Tvs, lights doing things.  Dreams.  Birds, heart clouds.   Things that when I saw them, I knew. I felt though every part of me they were hellos from her.

Have you ever experienced this?    I’ve been longing for years to visually bring these experiences to life.  Artwork to inspire, remind us of those who have passed.  Artwork to remind us that we are loved, never forgotten and we will see them again.

 

Today as I was painting one of the paintings for this series, I had to stop because I noticed something wierd going on with my brush.  Yes, this is what I saw.   Thank you spirit for yet another sign, I am listening!

DSCN6456_2

Noelle_Signature

 

 

Make sure you’re not making your family feel this way

It’s a cold, make that very cold few days here in Minnesota, because of that the kids are off school today and Bruce’s shop closed for the day so we are all cozied inside playing games and watching movies. 

I wanted to take a few minutes to connect with you and share a few very personal lessons I’ve learned.

 

Some of you may not know why I feel so passionate about helping women re-find themselves and their place in this world.  It’s a very raw story and I share it with you with the intent of using the lessons learned from it to help other families never go through what mine did.  My new e-course starts in a couple weeks and it’s not just a class to me, it’s about women coming together and helping each other through the life’s variety of paths and making space for our lights to shine.

 

I think back to 2008 feeling so helpless, shedding tears yet again, trying to figure out what I could do or say to help my dear, sweet mother.  I was watching the woman I looked up to my whole life not see her value in the world.  It broke my heart.

 

I don’t want ANYONE to feel what I felt then.  Sadly I’m learning it’s a silent epidemic that people everywhere are going through, thinking they are alone.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

 

While my mother was an expert at creating the best family get togethers, giving the perfect gift or even cutting our hair when we were young, later on she didn’t take enough time in her life to stop and invest in her own well being.  Her joys, her passions, her friends, the way she could connect with the world and what she had to offer it all took a back seat to making sure everyone else around her had what they needed. Those last 20 years it was all about her family.  

On one hand, as a member of her family this was an amazing gift she gave us. We all had a best friend on standby ready to help us, hear about what we needed to say and help us figure out lifes messes.  On the other hand had she taken time for her self, learned to say no more often and had better boundaries I believe she would still be here today. Regardless of whether that last part is true, undoubtedly she would have had a much more joyous last few years here on earth.  

She passed away unexpectedly from pancreatitis in January of 2009.  

I can’t speak for the other people in her life but I can share the lessons I learned from those days, her death and the years following.

 

I made a vow to myself that I would help women just like my mom; Beautiful, loving, wise, strong women.  This was a woman who raised 5 kids and had more love for people than I’ve ever seen.  The thing is her feeling bad didn’t happen over night.  It came after years of her taking on more than she needed, thinking things would get better on their own. Choosing to think that there was something wrong with her instead of realizing her emotions were very normal for someone going through what she was. Also, feeling shame that she couldn’t fix everything she felt and that was happening around her. 

 

 

I learned a few very important things in the following months.

 

1) Taking on everyone else’s problems and not having healthy boundaries can actually, really kill you.

 

2) We all think we have forever.  We don’t. It’s so important we spend our lives doing things that matter, that make a difference and then are in alignment with our truest selves.  

 

3) You can’t take the stuff with you. Don’t spend your life focused on things. It’s the love, memories and wisdom you shared during your life that matters after you’re gone.

 

4) Shame is deadly.  Don’t let yourself live in shame. Get help if you need it, pray, ask for forgiveness, talk to those who care about you. Often the power those things we are so scared of others knowing have over us are diminished once we talk about them.

 

5) No matter how much you want to fix the problems of someone around you, they have to be willing to do the work and WANT TO CHANGE.  You CAN’T do it for them. 

 

6) If you are noticing that you are feeling sad, out of sorts or you’ve lost your confidence and aren’t sure what your life is about as you enter a new chapter then please know that there are resources out there for you and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

 

Even if you don’t take my e-course or resonate with the other things I’m saying please listen to this one thing:  If you aren’t feeling well, or your intuition tells you something isn’t right, please get help, get checked out.  My mom passed away of pancreatitis.  A very curable condition if caught in time. Be proactiv with your health.  That includes your mental health. Talk to someone, journal, find an online group that fits what you’re needing.  If you have a family member going through this, I understand how awkward it can be to have these tough conversations but try to have them, lovingly. If you can’t say it, try to write a heartfelt letter or have a qualified 3rd party help in communicating the message and hope of getting through it.

 

The thing is, I hope to reach women much earlier than those darkest days, so none of us will never have to feel that despair.  Even if you don’t know what it is that you should be focusing on, we’ll be laying out a variety of topics to help get you started in the right direction. Equally important to the information is the community this e-course will bring. Loving, wise, compassionate women, each with their own gifts.

 


 

If you are interested in really honest, open coversations about the subjects above and more, please join me for the Finding Myself in the Moonlight e-course!

You can learn more information and watch videos about the course here.

 

I  have a great new payment option also if you would like to break up the enrollment into 2 payments.

 

The online journey starts in a couple weeks on January 19th!!  Click the links or the photo

 

I give you permission to say, “NO”

I give you permission to say no.

I grew up with a superhero a superhero momma. She gave us haircuts or perms more than once the night before school pictures when we begged. Sewed our Halloween costumes, patched our clothing, even hand sewed on hundreds of beads onto my prom dress for me and made a purse to go with it my senior year. She showed up to every sporting event for all 5 of us kids, and even let me move back in with my daughter while I was going through a divorce years ago.  I learned how to be a devoted mother from my mom, I learned how to create a calming, love filled home from her. My biggest lesson however came from my mother as we picked up the pieces after she passed away.

Somewhere in her my mom associated her value with the sacrifices she made for all of us around her.  I watched my mom put each of our needs above her own.  I watched her take on caring part time for my nephew, watching my daughter when she could, I watched my brother come home with a dog (even after my mom told him he couldn’t have a dog in their home) but she gave in and let him keep it because she couldn’t say no. I later watched this dog cause thousands of dollars in damage in her gorgeous, beautifully decorated home.  Thousands of dollars in rugs with holes in them, a solid wood, carved dining room table with the legs chewed around the bottom, she bought a steam cleaner so she could keep up with the pee on the carpets, on and on. Plus then my parents bought the food for the dog, cared for the dog and my mom pretty much eventually stopped going out of town because she knew my brother wouldn’t care for the dog and it would cause more damage.  I watched my adult brother still living at home as if he was a child, my mom still giving him spending money and letting him pursue his dream of being the next Eminem rapper with God knows who coming in and out of their basement recording on the sound system set up down there. All hours of the night these creepy people would be coming in and out with names like Shadow and stuff. Can we just all agree that this in INSANE!!!!  Somewhere along the line I watched my mom blur the line in being loving and caring with enabling and not setting healthy boundaries.

When I was an adult and was back living in Minnesota again I thought it was great that she was going through a wine and cheese phase. . We’d watch movies together and have different wines and cheese and crackers or breads with different dipping oils. It was so much fun.  Pretty much any movie that included a Christmas scene or a house with fun decorating was always our favorites to watch.  What evolved in the years following however none of us saw coming.

Rewind to 2002 My mom was the peak of health, obsessed with vitamins and cooking healthy. She looked great, my sister and I had just had our first babies and our family was at such a fun place.  I was back down in Dallas from 2003-2004 and when I moved back in 2004 things were starting to be a little different. My mom had a knee replacement and was working on recovering from that, at the same time my youngest sister moved out and started college.  My brother was facing ongoing legal battles still haunting him from his wild teenage years and me back home with my daughter going through a divorce.  And then menopause hit. It was a perfect storm.  Had any one of these hit I am confident she would have made it through relatively unscathed.  However that’s not how it happened; the drinking increased secretly, (we didn’t find this out until later, I have since found out that increased drinking is very common during the menopause years) she became more depressed and from that showed even fewer healthy boundaries. She was so busy trying to make sure we were all okay and helping us fix our problems that she didn’t take the time out for herself.  What she needed then was to start saying no. No to the dog, no to spending money as an escape, no to all the relatives, no to us kids, no to trying to solve my brothers legal issues, no to paying for those legal issues, no to watching our kids so much… on and on.  I literally watched my mother’s inability to set healthy boundaries and her selfless act of helping others around no matter what it cost her ultimately kill her.  Her actual cause of death was pancreatitis but I know deep down that the world sucked her dry.

Oh how I wish I could go back and give her permission to be the bad guy a little bit. Tell people occasionally to fix their own shit, find that dog a new home so she could go take a vacation in peace. In fact tell my brother to go find a new home so she could regain her comfort in her own home. Tell all of us that she is not a daycare center.  I would make sure she knew that it’s okay to say no to organizing another event and she needed no other reason then because she needed a night to curl up and watch a much needed movie with my dad.  Sometimes you have to put yourself first; your life can literally depend on it. I wish I could tell my mom that she wouldn’t be letting us down if we had a small Christmas without all the gifts, gourmet meals and amazing décor.  I wish I could tell her that we would still know that she loved us even if she would have just said what she felt instead of feeling guilty that she might be a bad person because she felt resentful about trying to hold the world together for all of us. I wish I could just hug her and tell her that we love her for her and not for the things she did for us.

I’ve really been working on having healthier boundaries myself since she passed.  And just as important; giving myself permission to not have to justify my every moment or decision when setting those boundaries, speak my mind more when I am feeling resentful and explain more why some things I allowed to go for years no longer work for me.  Example: “I wish I could watch my sweet nephews every day of the week but I can’t do that and build my career. Dad, I wish I could continue helping you with your company for virtually free but it no longer works for me. I wish I could give away my artwork anytime someone says they like it but that won’t pay my bills. Sorry brother but until you help yourself by doing steps 1,2 and 3 don’t call me again. Once you do those things I will happily help you with step 4 but I don’t want to have one more phone conversation with you telling me I need to fix your problems and hear about your life falling apart when you haven’t even completed the first fucking step !!!!”

I have learned that there needs to be an equal exchange of energy in any transaction otherwise one person won’t feel satisfied.  How often have you helped someone with something that really put you out.  Only to later realize they really didn’t even appreciate it?  I did this with my ex; I would try to fix his problems, invest a ton of my energy, time and problem solving only to later be bitter that he wasn’t grateful. Finally one day I realized that he hadn’t even asked or wanted my help.  Light bulb moment.

So now I give you permission also to say no, speak your mind and tune into your inner knowing. You can be loving, classy, kind and giving and still have effective boundaries.  You are not bad if you decide you don’t want the neighbors kids showing up at your home at all hours looking for entertainment. You are not a bad person if you say no to someone who wants to borrow money and you know in your gut that the money will not help them or it will cause you to not to be able to cover your own bills. I give you permission to just say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me”.  It may help build the no muscle to start with, “sorry I will have to get back to you after I check my schedule.” This will buy you time to really decide if something is a good decision instead of saying yes immediately and then later regretting it. Or for example say, “that day doesn’t work for me to watch your dog but if you are able to do help me fix my garage door  tomorrow that will free me up to be able to come over and pet sit for you this weekend when you’re out of town.”… you get the idea.  It’s sometimes helpful to think about if you’re going to feel resentful after doing whatever it is that has been asked of you, if you are then maybe you’re better off saying no or changing the terms of the agreement.   I’d love to hear any of your stories about how you’ve learned to improve in these areas or times you wish you had.

One of my favorite memories of my mom is her last Christmas just 3 weeks before she passed, my husband, daughter, my mom, a few others and I were all quietly chattering and taking in the peacefulness on a late stroll down her dark, quiet dead end street on the Christmas night of 2008. The snow peacefully falling on us, we were all together and we were all so happy and content.  It was simple, free and fair for all us.  It was also a moment that she didn’t have to sacrifice her own happiness or feel guilty in order for us to be happy.

Added 7/24/2012:  I feel the need to add one more thing to this post.  The reason I’ve chosen to share this incredibly personal and private story is because I know that it was something we as a family never talked about while it was happening.  It was one of those things that was off-limits. There is shame so often felt when we are going through a rough patch.  But if this could happen to my happy, articulate, loving family then it could happen to any family.  And even more importantly if my mom could go through this so could anyone. She was (is) a shining soul, loving and supportive person.  She radiated love and light to all around her. I share my perspective of her journey with a goal of helping other fabulously loving women see another side, another voice outside of their own homes and give them a reason to value themselves and their space, their dreams and cherish them.

girl doing cheers at restaurant

Outside of the “real world”

There can be an aching so deep and so widespread that creeps up so quietly you don’t even notice it’s there.  It may be your own aching or it may be the pain of another…

I remember myself lying next to my mom in her bed on Halloween night a few years ago. I’m holding her hand, my daughter is stroking her hair. My mom is crying.  She in the depths of a darkness that she doesn’t even know how she got into.  I lay with her and tell her that I’m here for her, I know it’s been hard lately but that she can turn the page and really embrace this next chapter of her life.  She says through tears, “I want to Noelle, I do. I just don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know how but I want to.”  My heart is breaking; here is my mom, my nurturer, my best friend and my teacher and I don’t know how to help her.

I rewind in my mind to 8 years prior: My parents had come down to Texas to visit me, I had just had my daughter a couple days before. It was their first granddaughter and they were beyond excited.  My mom looked the best I’d ever seen her, she glowed with peace and happiness from the inside out.  We spent the week doing touristy things and just laying around staring at this new baby. Six months later we moved to Minnesota and stayed with them while we found a place.  I was home w/ my daughter during this time just doing artwork part time so every day my mom, my sister and her newborn and myself would go on walks, hang out with the kids, have movie nights once we got the kids down. Life was good.  I moved to Texas again for a bit and then when I came back to Minnesota (sans husband) during my divorce in 2004 I noticed a slight change in my mom over the following years.  My best assessment is that she got caught in a Bermuda triangle-like whirlwind that she didn’t see coming.  Kids growing up and moving out (she had devoted that last decade of her life solely to her husband and raising 5 kids), knee surgery, menopause, income changes while my dad started his new company and I think for the first time since before she had kids she had a moment to think about her life. She had time to reflect upon her childhood and feel some of the feelings that she hadn’t even had time to notice.  She was a strong woman, any one of these things she would’ve handled no problem but I think the whole sum of them along with her not setting the best boundaries (see more here on that: http://noellerollinsart.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/i-give-you-permission-to-say-no/   )  set her into a tailspin.

As a daughter I wish I could’ve done more to help her. I wish I could have helped her earlier to get involved with some sort of activity that didn’t revolve around her family. I wish I could have helped her to believe in her amazing-ness.  Be an interior designer or some other career or volunteer position that would help her to see her gifts.  She felt so paralyzed by fear and insecurity after not being out “in the real world” for so long that it seemed impossible, and unappealing to her.

My mom came from a culture where there was no sharing of personal problems.  You smiled and pretended everything was fine to the outside world. From that there was an unspoken rule to not discuss what she was going through.  The clash comes though that my sisters and I especially are from a generation where we share everything, we learn from each other, we celebrate each other and we know that because someone is going through a hard time it doesn’t mean they are a failure. It went against her every instinct to share her struggles.  I know she is not the only one to go through this.

Back to that Halloween night a few years ago; while I’m glad I was able to just be there for her and listen I wish with every part of myself I would have been able to help her. I know my mom wanted to be in a better space mentally, and while that Halloween was definitely a low point she had many other really happy times over the next 80 days. I got to have a phone conversation with her where she was feeling down and she was worried about us. I got to tell my mom that she was the best mom, that because of her we had confidence in ourselves. That because of her we know how to love, make good decisions and be loving parents ourselves.  I got to thank her for being such a great mom and list example after example of ways that she helped us and we talked about happy memories from my childhood. I got to tell her how much I love her and she apologized for anything she ever did through our lives that made us feel bad and I got to tell her that I couldn’t think of a single one.

This call I now know was a gift, she passed away just days after.

No one knew she was sick, I still believed that she was going to pull through this funk and return to her happy, conquer the world self.  While she didn’t know that she would ultimately get pancreatitis, her soul knew that the end was near.  My phone call was just one of many calls or visits that she made those final days that helped to give so many of us peace.  Someday I’ll share more about so many of the synchronicities that occurred.

I’m trying to write this in the most honest heart felt way that I can both to possibly help others and help myself in finding peace but also respect my mom’s dignity, privacy and her spirit.   I know my mom is now at peace but I realize through my tears that I still have a bit of a longing for what could have been and for what I wish I could have done and mostly a deep need to take her story and turn it into something that can help myself and others from possibly knowing they are not alone. There are many facets to the feelings and emotions that go along with raising a family, honoring ourselves and loving one another; no one should have to feel alone while going through them.

It’s my dream to create a safe space to help women that are going through life’s big changes (divorce, children moving out, menopause, career changes, new baby, etc.) Help through honesty, infusing creativity, giving permission to take time for yourself and spread the message that you are worth a fun hobby, a new group of friends that get you and it actually makes you a better mom, friends, sister, daughter, etc.   It’s my vision to create a space for women that encourages authentic, soulful living, self-discovery, support and creativity. I want to create and share my work in a way that provides value and encouragement to others, help them on their own creative journeys meanwhile helping all of us to live our most abundant lives.  I am not completely sure how this vision will unfold, but I know while I am allowing those answers to come through I will continue to reach out, create artwork to inspire and move into a space where I can teach art classes.  Art classes where the final painting isn’t the focus, it’s the journey, the tuning into our creative voices, learning something new, and just going for it.  You were created and put on this earth for a reason. I believe with all of my being that we each have a soul mission.

My hope is that if it’s meant to be that our paths will cross in the future as we help one another on this journey.

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I give you permission to say NO

I give you permission to say no.

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I grew up with a superhero a superhero momma. She gave us haircuts or perms more than once the night before school pictures when we begged. Sewed our Halloween costumes, patched our clothing, even hand sewed on hundreds of beads onto my prom dress for me and made a purse to go with it my senior year. She showed up to every sporting event for all 5 of us kids, and even let me move back in with my daughter while I was going through a divorce years ago.  I learned how to be a devoted mother from my mom, I learned how to create a calming, love filled home from her. My biggest lesson however came from my mother as we picked up the pieces after she passed away.

Somewhere in her my mom associated her value with the sacrifices she made for all of us around her.  I watched my mom put each of our needs above her own.  I watched her take on caring part time for my nephew, watching my daughter when she could, I watched my brother come home with a dog (even after my mom told him he couldn’t have a dog in their home) but she gave in and let him keep it because she couldn’t say no. I later watched this dog cause thousands of dollars in damage in her gorgeous, beautifully decorated home.  Thousands of dollars in rugs with holes in them, a solid wood, carved dining room table with the legs chewed around the bottom, she bought a steam cleaner so she could keep up with the pee on the carpets, on and on. Plus then my parents bought the food for the dog, cared for the dog and my mom pretty much eventually stopped going out of town because she knew my brother wouldn’t care for the dog and it would cause more damage.  I watched my adult brother still living at home as if he was a child, my mom still giving him spending money and letting him pursue his dream of being the next Eminem rapper with God knows who coming in and out of their basement recording on the sound system set up down there. All hours of the night these creepy people would be coming in and out with names like Shadow and stuff. Can we just all agree that this in INSANE!!!!  Somewhere along the line I watched my mom blur the line in being loving and caring with enabling and not setting healthy boundaries.

When I was an adult and was back living in Minnesota again I thought it was great that she was going through a wine and cheese phase. . We’d watch movies together and have different wines and cheese and crackers or breads with different dipping oils. It was so much fun.  Pretty much any movie that included a Christmas scene or a house with fun decorating was always our favorites to watch.  What evolved in the years following however none of us saw coming.

Rewind to 2002 My mom was the peak of health, obsessed with vitamins and cooking healthy. She looked great, my sister and I had just had our first babies and our family was at such a fun place.  I was back down in Dallas from 2003-2004 and when I moved back in 2004 things were starting to be a little different. My mom had a knee replacement and was working on recovering from that, at the same time my youngest sister moved out and started college.  My brother was facing ongoing legal battles still haunting him from his wild teenage years and me back home with my daughter going through a divorce.  And then menopause hit. It was a perfect storm.  Had any one of these hit I am confident she would have made it through relatively unscathed.  However that’s not how it happened; the drinking increased secretly, (we didn’t find this out until later, I have since found out that increased drinking is very common during the menopause years) she became more depressed and from that showed even fewer healthy boundaries. She was so busy trying to make sure we were all okay and helping us fix our problems that she didn’t take the time out for herself.  What she needed then was to start saying no. No to the dog, no to spending money as an escape, no to all the relatives, no to us kids, no to trying to solve my brothers legal issues, no to paying for those legal issues, no to watching our kids so much… on and on.  I literally watched my mother’s inability to set healthy boundaries and her selfless act of helping others around no matter what it cost her ultimately kill her.  Her actual cause of death was pancreatitis but I know deep down that the world sucked her dry.

Oh how I wish I could go back and give her permission to be the bad guy a little bit. Tell people occasionally to fix their own shit, find that dog a new home so she could go take a vacation in peace. In fact tell my brother to go find a new home so she could regain her comfort in her own home. Tell all of us that she is not a daycare center.  I would make sure she knew that it’s okay to say no to organizing another event and she needed no other reason then because she needed a night to curl up and watch a much needed movie with my dad.  Sometimes you have to put yourself first; your life can literally depend on it. I wish I could tell my mom that she wouldn’t be letting us down if we had a small Christmas without all the gifts, gourmet meals and amazing décor.  I wish I could tell her that we would still know that she loved us even if she would have just said what she felt instead of feeling guilty that she might be a bad person because she felt resentful about trying to hold the world together for all of us. I wish I could just hug her and tell her that we love her for her and not for the things she did for us.

I’ve really been working on having healthier boundaries myself since she passed.  And just as important; giving myself permission to not have to justify my every moment or decision when setting those boundaries, speak my mind more when I am feeling resentful and explain more why some things I allowed to go for years no longer work for me.  Example: “I wish I could watch my sweet nephews every day of the week but I can’t do that and build my career. Dad, I wish I could continue helping you with your company for virtually free but it no longer works for me. I wish I could give away my artwork anytime someone says they like it but that won’t pay my bills. Sorry brother but until you help yourself by doing steps 1,2 and 3 don’t call me again. Once you do those things I will happily help you with step 4 but I don’t want to have one more phone conversation with you telling me I need to fix your problems and hear about your life falling apart when you haven’t even completed the first fucking step !!!!”

I have learned that there needs to be an equal exchange of energy in any transaction otherwise one person won’t feel satisfied.  How often have you helped someone with something that really put you out.  Only to later realize they really didn’t even appreciate it?  I did this with my ex; I would try to fix his problems, invest a ton of my energy, time and problem solving only to later be bitter that he wasn’t grateful. Finally one day I realized that he hadn’t even asked or wanted my help.  Light bulb moment.

So now I give you permission also to say no, speak your mind and tune into your inner knowing. You can be loving, classy, kind and giving and still have effective boundaries.  You are not bad if you decide you don’t want the neighbors kids showing up at your home at all hours looking for entertainment. You are not a bad person if you say no to someone who wants to borrow money and you know in your gut that the money will not help them or it will cause you to not to be able to cover your own bills. I give you permission to just say, “Sorry, that doesn’t work for me”.  It may help build the no muscle to start with, “sorry I will have to get back to you after I check my schedule.” This will buy you time to really decide if something is a good decision instead of saying yes immediately and then later regretting it. Or for example say, “that day doesn’t work for me to watch your dog but if you are able to do help me fix my garage door  tomorrow that will free me up to be able to come over and pet sit for you this weekend when you’re out of town.”… you get the idea.  It’s sometimes helpful to think about if you’re going to feel resentful after doing whatever it is that has been asked of you, if you are then maybe you’re better off saying no or changing the terms of the agreement.   I’d love to hear any of your stories about how you’ve learned to improve in these areas or times you wish you had.

One of my favorite memories of my mom is her last Christmas just 3 weeks before she passed, my husband, daughter, my mom, a few others and I were all quietly chattering and taking in the peacefulness on a late stroll down her dark, quiet dead end street on the Christmas night of 2008. The snow peacefully falling on us, we were all together and we were all so happy and content.  It was simple, free and fair for all us.  It was also a moment that she didn’t have to sacrifice her own happiness or feel guilty in order for us to be happy.

Added 7/24/2012:  I feel the need to add one more thing to this post.  The reason I’ve chosen to share this incredibly personal and private story is because I know that it was something we as a family never talked about while it was happening.  It was one of those things that was off-limits. There is shame so often felt when we are going through a rough patch.  But if this could happen to my happy, articulate, loving family then it could happen to any family.  And even more importantly if my mom could go through this so could anyone. She was (is) a shining soul, loving and supportive person.  She radiated love and light to all around her. I share my perspective of her journey with a goal of helping other fabulously loving women see another side, another voice outside of their own homes and give them a reason to value themselves and their space, their dreams and cherish them.

girl doing cheers at restaurant

Cheers to you momma!

more on the heart chakra – love, healing and spirituality

upward facing dog yoga pose artwork

My life, like yours has unmistakable life events that shape how I catalog the timeline of any event in my mind: high school, college, the day I had my daughter, when I met Bruce, the day my mom died, the day I had my son.  The last 4 are most easily identified with love. I didn’t know what love was until I had my daughter, I admire her spunk, boldness and her heart. I’ll never forget the day when she was only 2, we were living in Dallas and visiting my then husbands grandma in the hospital.  My daughter walked over and got her great grandmas slippers for her, set them on her bed and then rubbed her feet a little before helping her with them. Unprompted, thoughtful and compassionate.

I thought I knew what it was like to love a man, then when I met my husband I knew that my heart grew and I not only loved him but I loved who let me be when I was with him and who we are together.

The day I lost my mom is the day that shattered my old reality.  I hadn’t ever thought about it while she was here but now I look back at the first 30 years of my life so differently. I refer to it as my innocence period. I always knew my family was close, loving and supportive of each other. But my mom, she was (is) love.  She made every holiday so special, she’d whip up gourmet meals and just beg us to come over and let her try out new recipes.  Christmas was like it is in the movies, I love how she held all of our family, friends, relatives together.  Much of it was a thankless job. We did thank her but we really didn’t get how amazing it all was until after she was gone. I’ll never forget planning my sister’s baby shower a couple of months after my mom’s passing.  Suddenly it was up to us to do all the food (wow parties require a lot of food… and wow, food is expensive when buying that much!). The gifts, the decor, the perfect music, and extra touches that take a party from ‘eh to ahhh. She was a master at these and we wanted to re-create them.  I know without a doubt that she is still around here and there. I know she got to meet my son before I did and I see glimpses of her especially in my daughter and her loving nature.  My biggest spiritual test also happened when my mom passed away; I knew what I had believed my whole life happened but then when my mom’s soul was no longer in her body I wanted to do everything I could to verify my beliefs and know that she was in a good place.  I found myself with  a hunger for knowledge and studying on the afterlife, angels, ghosts, heaven, near death experiences others have had and what they said it was like.  I have talked with a few mediums, tarot card readers and learned to listen to my own inner voice, look for signs and oh the dreams I’ve had… AMAZING.  I’ve discovered I fully believe in angels, heaven, I even had the most amazingly comforting visit from my mom the night after she passed. I talked with a couple mediums that were so accurate on what they told me and had messages that provided so much specific peace for me and my loved ones and a couple that I felt like were in over their head and not so accurate.  Most of all I’ve learned that these things have increased my faith and spirituality. I shy more away from many organized religious structures the last few years and more into my personal relationship with God. I am seeing the correlation between faith and intuition.  They are different threads of the same muscle. The more I quiet down and listen to my intuition, my inner voice, the greater my spiritual connection is to God,  myself and others.

Which leads me to that last life changing event; my son.  This is a boy that was so destined to be a part of our family. He perfectly fits, like the fourth side of our square, the balancing energy and he’s so full of love.

My spirituality has grown so much deeper in the last few years, I’ve changed my perspective so much from the more rigid views I’ve heard around me in my life. I truly believe that 99% of all religions should focus on love and our human similarities instead of people’s differences, guilt and man-made rules. Love yourself, love others, love God, love that you are a part of Him, love what gifts he gave you, love the earth, love your family.  The last 1 percent is all the other stuff.  I have been studying parts of many religions the last few years, connecting with the parts of them that revolve around connection, peace and love.

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Heart chakra meditation is a technique to release sadness and fear and bring compassion and love into your life.  You can find more info here at www.yogabasics.com/meditation/heartMeditation.html