re-Viewing my Childhood

As I slowly pivot into this new Adventure of foster parenting I’m astounded by the little ways the Universe is supporting me.

By definition, as a nomad, I don’t have a home of my own to return to so my parents offered for me to stay with them until I figure it all out.

I am beyond grateful for my parents*. One of the things I’m really proud of is how we have managed to navigate the tricky terrain of shifting out of the parent/child dynamic into acknowledging each other as adults. They’re still my parents, I respect and honor them. And they relate to me both as their baby and an adult who’s choices they respect and support. We enjoy each other, we are friends.

While I’ve had extended visits in my parents home, this is the first time since I was a teenager that I have moved back in with my parents, full time, longterm. I’ll be here for at least 3 months.

A lot has changed in 20 years.

I no longer have a bedtime, get yelled at for not cleaning my room, I don’t have chores or a curfew. 🙂 I’ve treated the arrangement the same as I have all of my barter for lodging arrangements over the past few years. We agreed on how I’d pull my own weight, boundaries, communication. So far it’s all been great and logistically, all is well.

But it’s still weird.

There are remnants of my childhood everywhere.

Like the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning :

This box contains cabbage patch dolls and the diaper bag

Or this spot on the wall of the guest room I’m sleeping in which was once the room my brother and I shared as toddlers.

The growth chart – marks of our height over the years.

My high school senior photo is on the living room wall.

A 16 year old me.

The house has been remodeled, but there are still remnants of the house I grew up in.

Notice the total retro flashback, wallpaper included.
That wood panelling used to be on all the walls.

My old bedroom is now Mom’s office, when I go into the closet for office supplies I see boxes of my childhood toys, the Survival Skills for Kids books I read and claimed qualified me to babysit at age 11 (it worked too!).

The organized memories

Given that I am pivoting my life and preparing for this new Adventure of foster parenting, it feels appropriate to return to my roots, to be surrounded by vestiges of my own childhood. What’s interesting is what has come up emotionally.

I expected to have some feelings about the physical surroundings and throwbacks.

What I didn’t expect was the impact of living under my parent’s roof when they are different people than they were when I was a kid.

Now, I’ve already said, we’ve grown, we’ve shifted, I’m well aware of all of this, proud of it even. And yet, some part of me, my inner child, was somehow expecting the mood and vibe to be similar to when I was a kid. And it’s not. And that’s weird and awesome.

Let me explain.

I inherited my own Bipolar Disorder from Dad’s side of the family. When I was a kid they hadn’t found the right medication balance for him so we had to tiptoe a bit because he had two modes, content or rage. Because of this, some part of me expected to still be tiptoeing around Dad’s mood swings, for Mom to accommodate Dad out of a desire to keep the peace.

However, much has changed.

In the first couple weeks of living with them, my Mom became annoyed at something my Dad did. And she told him about it, bluntly. I physically flinched and mentally judged her for poking the bear. I gathered my computer and retreated to my room in anticipation of Dad’s explosive temper.

Now. I have years of evidence that this is no longer how he operates. Dad has evolved and there are better medications and he’s much, much more balanced. Mom has evolved too and no longer accommodates him when he does swing. I know this.

But being back in their home, surrounded by physical reminders of times past, I somehow reverted to old habits and reactions. I didn’t even realize I did this until later.

This reaction in and of itself was fascinating to notice. To realize that some part of me is still dealing with some childhood traumas.

But wait, there’s more.

After I retreated to my room, what followed was something small and yet transformational for my inner child. I could overhear my parents bicker, work through it, find a solution and move on. No explosions, no tension in the house. Just healthy, adult conversation.

This experience was incredibly moving for me. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m tearing up again as I write this and I’ve been searching, seeking to describe the emotions that inspired my tears.

What I’ve come to realize is that even though I’ve developed a healthy friendship with my parents, part of me still worried about them and the way I handle conflict as an adult is heavily influenced by the patterns of conflict in my parent’s house when I was a child.  There was something incredibly healing about being given that private window into their growth and evolution that somehow freed me up. It inspired me.

My Parents in the 70’s

My parents have been married for 45 years. They were married for nearly a decade before I was born, prior to me they fostered boys. The parents those boys experienced were different from the parents I experienced because my parents were different people. My Platonic Wife has siblings 20 years younger than her, her baby sister is being raised by a different set of parents than she was because her parents have changed and evolved as people which impacts how they parent.

Living with my parents again, even with our healthy adult oriented relationship, has given me the experience of being parented by a whole new set of parents. Twenty years, empty nest, new medications, retirement – so many factors have changed.

My parents present day

As a child, my mom was around. All. The. Time. She homeschooled us and we spent a ton of time with her. Dad worked long hours to support the family so Mom could stay home which left Mom without much of a life outside of the family. Now, twenty years later, she has a very full life – she’s gone most of the time. Dad is retired and while he volunteers a lot, he’s home most of the time. This is a complete 180 from my childhood. I have spent more time alone with my dad in the past 6 weeks than in my entire life previous. No exaggeration.

As a kid, I used to wish that Dad would come home and play with us, ask us about school, be involved. But he was exhausted and only had the energy to eat and go to sleep. My adult self completely understands this, but my kid self, she felt a huge missing from my Dad. Now, every day, Dad asks me what I’m up to, tells me about his day, reminds me to take an umbrella or avoid rush hour. It’s such a 180 that, on the occasions when he interrupts a client call or my train of though, I have to remind myself not to be annoyed by how involved he wants to be, it’s literally all I wanted as a kid and here I am, receiving it as an adult.

Me with my Parents in Denver in 2017.

I’ve gotten to see them through a different lens, to be reminded of how much they’ve grown. As humans, as parents, as partners who have been married and done life together for 45 years of ups and downs. It’s been healing for me to revisit some of my childhood ghosts and re-view them through adult my adult perspective. I’ve found that even though I’m adult, I’m still their child and experiencing the parents they are today was exactly what I needed.

Like I said, the Universe has my back and conspires to put me where I need to be. I’ve found another layer of healing from my childhood traumas, an inspiration of how I want to parent and a renewed closeness to my parents as my Parents.

*I feel it important to say here, the trauma that was triggered from my childhood – it’s nothing special or unique and no reflection on my parents. Every child has experienced something that registered as traumatic to them. No parent can prevent this. Its part of childhood, its part of the human experience. In no way do I mean to imply that my parents weren’t good parents, I am so glad I chose them and would do it again.

Taking this act on the road!

It’s been over a year now since I sold my home and found the courage to go 100% nomadic.

I know, it’s been a whole year!?

Thus far I’ve been flying around, but I’ve decided to take this act on the road, head out in my Volkswagon CC and hop around the US for a bit. I’m super excited!

my excited face

I get some amazing thinking, feeling and connecting done from my car…so, well, this could get very interesting!

I’m still very much attracting people who are interested in my Business or Life Strategy services and are wanting to pay via bartering for lodging. But after a year on the road, I have ‘travel families‘ all over the place and after a lifetime of travel and being, well, me, I have friends all over the place too. So I’m going to start there.

the plan as of 7.13.17

Putting something like this together is like putting together a very complicated puzzle where each piece keeps trying to crawl away. It’s also intimidating, but you know, one scary moment….

Here’s how that plays out, for now, sort of:

  • 7/17 – 7/19 : Jacksonville, FL
  • 7/19 – 7/21 : Summerville, SC
  • 7/21 – 7/22 : Raleigh, NC
  • 7/22 – 7/23 : Orange, VA
  • 7/23 – 7/26 : Washington DC?
  • 7/26 – 8/11 : Philadelphia, PA
  • 8/11 – 8/13 : Kingston, NY
  • 8/13 – 8/15 : Conklin, NY
  • 8/15 – 8/17 : Pittsburgh, PA?
  • 8/17 – 8/21 : Anna, OH
  • 8/21 – 9/22 : Chicago, IL
  • 9/22 -9/23 : Des Moines, IA
  • 9/23 – 9/24 : Omaha, NE?
  • 9/24 – 10/24 : Denver, CO

The bolded cities are my ‘anchor points’, where I’ll be setting up shop for several weeks or more. I’m looking for recommendations for co-working spaces, great networking groups or even introductions to movers, shakers and world changers in those cities.

You may have noticed a few question marks, these are the cities where I have people I want to connect with, but no place to sleep, yet. I sent this list out to my tag-a-long adventurers just yesterday and already have new solid options for DC, Des Moines, and Pittsburgh. Got to love the power of community and being willing to ask!

I still don’t know anyone between DesMoines, IA and Denver, CO. Blue Heron Nebraska is about half way and where I’d like to stop for a sleep. If I don’t find anyone to stay with, my plan is to camp in my car…I’ve never camped alone so that would definitely be an adventure! I actually thought about outfitting my car to live out of it (like these guys), but that’s a LOT to think about and I’d rather use that energy to connect with awesome humans.

After an amazing month in Siesta Key, FL house sitting I’m rested and motivated. I have four days in Orlando to raid the storage unit, fit things into my sedan and get my hugs in with my family and then I’ll be hitting the pavement and on my way!

If you want to become a tag-a-long adventurer and get periodic emails about my lessons from the road, stories of who I meet, what I see etc just click here.

Memorial Day

It’s Memorial Day in the US. This is a National Holiday intended to have us remember those who gave their lives in service of the country (commonly confused with Veteran’s Day.)

I’ve talked before about how I’m empathic, with so many people focused on mourning, tragedy, loss, confusion the energy is thick.

I have what I call my God Button, a spot just behind my jawbone on the right side, where I’ll feel pressure when Spirit is attempting to talk to or through me. When I ignore it, it develops into a migraine. Sometimes I don’t know what Spirit is trying to say….like today.

That headache finally started to dissipate about an hour ago when I started going through my contacts and sending a text to all my friends who have been deployed, lost family while on active duty etc. I simply said ‘you have my love and gratitude on this day’, a message that seemed cryptic and overly simplified at first, but based on responses is exactly what was needed. It’s a constant journey to learn how to listen and be of service. 

Priorities trump plans

I planned to be based out of Orlando through the holidays, mid-November until the end of the year, that was the plan. My Platonic Wife, Sarah, has a spare room and loves having me stay so being in town for 6-8 weeks, not a problem. I did manage to get away for a week in Vegas with My Guy, Kirk, in December, and the plan became to go back on the road mid-January.

Best people watching spot in Vegas

Then, something happened. Kirk’s mom went to the hospital complaining of chest pain. The drugs they had her on left her groggy which meant she couldn’t be trusted to communicate/process information from the hospital staff so a family member needed to be there most of the time. I put myself in the rotation and did my daily shift, picked up food, reminded people to sleep, shower…you know the routine. Twenty-four days and 1 open heart surgery later she was discharged. Kirk went back to work, I checked in on the Mom-in-Love regularly and began to plan to get back on the road.

Mom-in-love on way home from hospital

Then, something happened. I went to the specialist about Ms. Gallbladder and was informed she needed to be retired. At first the surgeon said it wasn’t urgent, when I described my lifestyle and that I didn’t plan to be back in town until November he said, Never mind, in your case, it’s urgent. So, I got on the schedule to have laparoscopic surgery in late March, thinking I’d be good as new by early April.

Drugged and ready for surgery

As I recovered I began to get excited about the upcoming European trip with Sarah & Kirk, we were all set to leave in late April. I was hoping all of the soul evolution I’d experienced over the past months would gel as I adventured (as tends to happen with me) such that by the time we returned I’d have clarity and be ready to get back on the road.

Then (are you noticing a pattern here?), something happened. Kirk’s sister had surgery a week before we were scheduled to leave for Europe. While the surgery initially seemed to be successful, a couple of days later there were complications and his sister passed on. We sent Sarah off to Europe (more on that later) and I stayed behind to support him through some very difficult weeks filled with funeral arrangements, family drama and the like.

Dude, with all of these plans down the drain, I’m not going to lie, there were some moments of real frustration. I’m a traveler! I belong on the road! Yet. I’m clear on my priorities:

  1. Me
  2. Family
  3. Joy/Freedom (aka Travel)
  4. Business/Money

Supporting my family and taking care of my own health comes first. Period.

It’s funny, last year this time I was faced with a situation where having clear priorities helped. Last year I was considering a return to corporate to support the house I owned, but when I looked at my priorities it made more sense to sell it. I’m so glad I did.

Similarly, this year I’m so glad I stayed in town. Being there allowed some amazing growth and evolution in my relationship with My Guy. Being there for those emotionally charged times in his family also allowed me to see some new things about myself.

Family Bonding Time

The original plan for Europe was to travel as a Triad. I planned everything, I had worked out all of the transportation, most things were in my name, I’d been practicing the languages. I was going to be their guide. Sarah had never traveled alone or been overseas before. I’m so proud of her for having the courage to go solo, so stinking proud. And she had some amazing experiences she wouldn’t have gotten if we’d been with her. (side note, we got a lot of money back given the circumstances of our cancellation, and she used the things that were nonrefundable, so it wasn’t a huge financial hit)

Sarah in Morrocco

The time in Orlando also allowed me to complete all three levels of Reiki training which has opened up a whole new path in my Spiritual evolution. I’ve given dozens of distance healings and realized it’s something I really enjoy and has added another layer to the services I offer in my barters. I also had time to establish some healthy habits with a personal trainer, and deepen some friendships.

Plans are great. I spend a lot of time helping others define a strategy and plans to fulfill that strategy. It’s just as important to have clarity on your priorities so you know when to ignore the plans and go with the flow.

Like I said, I spent time being frustrated by this, and, I quickly came to see the value in the shift in plans to align to my priorities. I think it happened more quickly this year than last and that’s all I can really hope for, to learn and grow along the way.

Election Day Empathy

I am what some call an empath. This simply means I’m especially sensitive to the emotional state of those around me. So if I’m in a room full of very sad people, I connect more deeply to their sadness than the average person. I know this about myself and I’m fairly good at managing it.

I did not manage my empathy well on election day.

The morning of election day I woke up to an empty house after having spent the past 6 days surrounded by women. It was the day after the Feminine Power Incubator completed, this is an event I’d been working toward for months. So coming out of it I was exhausted and had a lot of lessons to process and digest. Waking up to an empty house was a bit of a shock to the system. Because of the event I had not been on social media or watched the news in about a week.

That afternoon I went to the airport to travel to Canada to stay with a dear friend for a couple of weeks.

When I booked the ticket it did not occur to me that I would be in another country when the next president was decided. I mean, it did, because I voted early so I knew the logistics of it all. But it didn’t occur to me all of the emotions that might come with this experience.

Everyone in the airport was glued to the news. Everyone was, speaking to no one in particular, voicing their opinions and thoughts about how the results were going. Many were not being particularly nice about it. I put on my headphones, sat facing away from a TV and pulled out a book.

As I boarded the plane the flight attendant was moving a man’s seats. The mom was wearing a ‘Nasty Woman’ shirt and the man across the aisle a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat. Apparently their cross aisle debate had become so heated that they needed to be moved.

I found my window seat, turned my music all the way up and focused on my own world.

The tension in the airport, the airplane – the country – was palpable. And as an empath, one that had just depleted my energy leading a 5 day event, it was intense. It was an odd sensation, flying over my country’s capital on the night such a huge election was being decided.

When my flight landed I kept the music on and my eyes down. I asked my friend not to share any results with me. The next morning I woke to a call from My Guy, sharing with me that, as I had suspected for months now, Trump won.

I spent the next couple of days very focused on supporting my friend in preparing for a one day business event he was hosting. I’m grateful for this distraction.

Over the following three days my social media feed transitioned from shock to reports of violence and aggression. Not reports from the media, not reports of things happening to people I don’t know. No, these were reports of hate crimes and violence against people I actually know. Over a dozen of them in 72 hours. Violence on both sides. A friend in south Florida had her rainbow flag ripped from her house and burned, when she went out to stop them they threw the flag on her causing severe burn wounds. A friend in Indiana didn’t send her kids to school because several homes had put out yard signs declaring DT the leader of the KKK, her kids are mixed race. A friend in the North East was harassed getting into his truck outside the grocery store because there was a DT sticker on the back. This is all within three days of the election. These are people I know, who I have hugged, not strangers in random news reports. The running joke (or was it?) from my friends was how to move to Canada.

I began to feel guilty for actually being in Canada while all of these things were happening.

This was likely compounded by the fact that I left Orlando three days after the Pulse nightclub shooting and flew out the night before Hurricane Matthew was expected to hit. I had inadvertently begun a trend of leaving when things got intense in my hometown.

I did end up cutting my trip to Canada short and returning to Florida. In part because I wanted to visit my friend in the hospital and be with my countrymen, but this was not the only reason.

Now that I’m back I’ve had more time to inquire into my guilt. It was during a float in the salt tank that I realized leaving town during these stressful times wasn’t an accident. The Universe has been keeping me away from the intensity, reserving my energy for other endeavors. I am aware that neither of these perspectives is anymore ‘true’ than the other, but the later leaves me empowered so it’s the one I own.

P.S.
I did not vote for Trump. Clearly the majority of my circle is in the same position. I am not, however, comfortable with the ‘not my president’ vibe. Resistance in general feels like the wrong reaction to me – what you resist persists. I’m more interested in doing the work to get clarity about what I want to see our world look like and investing renewed energy into that. With that said, I’m open to conversations about politics (actual conversations with our voices, not text or social media), but I won’t be blogging about it.