Category Archives: Inspiration

Unconditional Love

In order to begin this conversation with you; I must first define the word – Unconditional.

Webster’s defines unconditional as without conditions or reservations; absolute.

My question to you —is there such a thing as giving too much or loving too much?  My answer to this is, NO—if the giving and the loving are unconditional.  Unconditional loving and giving are I’m afraid, rarer than you may imagine.  There are people that love so that they will get something in return…love, money, happiness, sex, material things etc…there are unspoken conditions on their loving and when the other person fails to deliver, the love is taken away in punishment.  The same is true for some folks in the giving department…they give and then they expect something in return and when they don’t get it, problems arise.

There is also the case of the person suspect of being unconditionally loved or given to—this indicates an inability to receive on their end…you see in order to be a balanced giver you must be able to receive as graciously as you give…there are those that only want to give and become very uptight when on the receiving end of gifts or love.  They wonder what the other person is “up to” giving all these gifts and expressing all this love, they become certain that things cannot be as simple as they seem—there must be some ‘ulterior motive’ to all this generosity…

Funny thing is if you gain a deep understanding of how life really works you would love and give yourself SILLY…for those of us that get it there is nothing else to do but give and give and give and love people unconditionally…really and truly that is what we are here for…to share…to share ourselves and our ‘stuff’…

So many people walk around so tightly wound up about what is ‘theirs’ and what hoops have to be jumped through in order for someone to gain their love…there are times when we see what people are really made of and sadly those times mostly come when tragedy strikes…do you remember how loving and generous people were with each other after 9-11-2001?  Strangers helping each other however they could, sharing, offering love, strength, help, money, clothes, food…anything — we all gave anything we had and we were glad to do so…we allowed ourselves to feel love for people just because and it made us all stronger at a time when we needed it most…well what happened folks???

Did our need for generous hearts subside???  No, in fact it seems to me that we could use generous hearts more than ever right now—-we could use a lot less complaining and criticism and a lot more unconditional giving and loving.  Look around you—the world needs a lot of help from people that understand…there are so many things that we could say are wrong, however when do we begin to say what’s right with everything?  That kind of looking starts with you…there is good in everything, you just need to have faith that it is there and then you have to be willing to SEE it…sometimes it takes awhile…

We have to wake up, we have to be responsible to make things better for ourselves and everyone around us—there is nobody else folks, this is our job.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to:

love too much, give too many presents, celebrate too many things, be too forgiving, be too generous, be too happy, see too much good, help too many people, give too much money, volunteer too much, serve too much…

Nobody ever died from giving too much of themselves, actually it enlivens and empowers you…maybe you should give it a whirl, may make you live longer…when you get busy contributing to other people your own small grievances hardly show up anymore…

I leave you with a quote from St. John of the Cross:

“A generous heart will never care

to go part way; it won’t be cowed

if there is passage anywhere,

but set out on the hardest road;

nothing can cause it misery,

and with faith soaring like a cloud

it feeds on something I don’t know

that one may come on randomly.”

 

~Noelle

It Could Be You

It could be you….Picture it.  You’re late for work and the driver in front of you is going…so…slow.  I mean – molasses in January in Maine slow.  You want to honk.  You want to scream.  You’re literally losing your mind. Am I right?  Why are people so self-absorbed and inconsiderate? You just want to get where you need to be!

Now imagine you’ve had a super long day and you’ve run into the grocery store to grab a few things.  You’ve beat the crowds and you’re next in line, when some lady saunters up and sets her stuff down in front of you.  Did she really just cut in line?  What do you say to her?  How do you feel?  Wow.  The audacity!

Typical stuff in modern life when out and about.  We’ve all experienced one of these things – or something like them.  And we probably all felt a little outraged, angry or indignant.  Maybe you even said something to the person – a cutting remark meant to remind them of their horrible behavior and put them in their place.  “Hey buddy – gas pedal is on the right!” or “What the hell?” C’mon – we’ve all done it.  They deserved it, right?

Maybe not.

What do you know about the slow driver or the line cutter?  Truly.  What do you know about them other than the fact that they seem to be oblivious to others?  Probably nothing.  You don’t need to know anything to know that they’re rude, do you?

Actually, you do.

That slow driver might have just said goodbye to their mom or dad for the last time.  Maybe they’re driving home after having just received a terminal diagnosis.  Perhaps that line cutter was distracted because those pads she’s buying are because she’s currently miscarrying.  Or maybe she’s in the middle of a divorce and rushing home to her kids who are home alone for the first time.  You don’t know.

Maybe you don’t care.  I mean after all – they’re still being rude, right?

But here’s the thing.  They could be you.  Someday you’ll be old, and you might struggle to drive.  Someday you will lose a loved one and, in your grief, you might do something you didn’t intend to do.  Someday your world may come crashing down and you will be them without even realizing it.

I tell you this from experience.  I’ve run a stop sign during a time of grief.  I’ve snapped at a cashier during a miscarriage.  I’ve lost my shit during a divorce and I’ve been the slow driver after I was told my baby might not survive.  But do you know what?  If you ask my friends and family, I probably say please and thank you more than anyone I know and I’m typically pretty considerate.  Those actions were not me.  One less honk, one less middle finger and one more wave of “it’s ok – it happens to the best of us” would have meant the world in those moments.

When things happen we often jump to conclusions, assuming the worst motives and assigning blame.  But that doesn’t make the world a kinder place.  Maybe those people are just rude.  But maybe they’re not.  Maybe they’re sick, hurting, distracted or afraid.  And maybe, in a year or five or ten, they will be you or your loved one.  And when that time comes, I guarantee that you will be grateful for the stranger who gives you the benefit of the doubt.  So please, be kind.  Judge less.  Care more.  Remember what you don’t know.  And never forget that someday, it could be you.

 

~Cassandra

Don’t Write About Me(!)

I have been writing since I can remember. I am not one for poems or fiction because to be blunt I’m pretty awful at it. My wheelhouse has always been pulling from what I’m going through.You can blame that on the many friends and family members who bought me diaries and journals.

The hard lesson I’ve learned over the years is when you write from the heart not only is it painful to put on paper it’s equally painful to read.

So as I was getting ready to approach this new chapter in my writing journey… see what I did there? I let those close to me know.

My sweet Dad who is to blame for me being both an avid reader and writer immediately yelled out “don’t write about me!”

I promise this is probably it Dad.. Sorta. But it is a slippery slope.

Every week I put myself out there.

I usually do have a plan. I keep a bunch of post its with topic ideas handy in case my ritual of an adult beverage and accompanying music of the moment leave me stuck.

But full transparency these blogs come from moments. They’re  moments that I think if I’m feeling this way maybe someone else is too and maybe just maybe they will read this and maybe not feel better, but know they’re not alone.

That can sometimes be the hardest thing. No matter who you are. But when I first left my ex husband I felt it. Hard. There were a few people who really stepped up and they know who they are.  That leads me back to the beginning of this post. When I write these I am trying so hard to not be hurtful, to keep things that are mine, mine but still share those moments.

In a recent post I alluded to a new person in my life. He caught it. Believe it or not I’m actually a pretty guarded person. If you read my series the Fixer of Broken Boys … well you know why. I’m working on it. So it can be hard for me to tell the people I care about what they mean to me, but I can write it here.

I know I don’t get it either.

Again, working on it.

It’s scary. Sharing your life. Your joys. Your not so great days. The ugly. The great. The newest wrinkle.

But that’s WHY I’m here. That’s why I’m write. That’s why I share. So on those days- YOU know someone’s got you Momma.

 

Hi there- my name is Caprise, I’m your tattoo’d, music loving, Henry Rollins obsessed, Mom of the  amazing G, single working Mom cheerleader… and I’m going to try my hardest to remind you we got this.

<3

Every Action Has An Equal And Opposite Reaction

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I say this because recently some people whom haven’t out grown their high school behaviors had came into my life.With these people in my life I noticed myself second guessing my decisions and goal, my stress level was at an all time high and I have been completely distracted. I let these people affect my peace, an old habit that I’m still not 100% better at. The difference from this time and others is that I haven’t been excusing or dismissing red flags, being constantly on high alert is why my stress level has been so high.

One of these individuals has been involved or on the receiving end of some gossip about me. Instead of talking to me this person decided that what ever they have been told is true and decided to end our friendship. Which is fine, I let them know that the drama level had been getting to me and that I was already taking a step back, I wished them the best and went on my way.

The level of growth I see in my self for responding this way is astronomical. Just a few years ago, I would have been bending over backwards to save this friendship, trying to prove that I didn’t do whatever it is that was said I did. Now, I don’t see the point, If anyone wants to walk out of my I will let them. My peace progress and happiness are more sacred than any single person in my life.

I’ve noticed that these people are not happy with my non reactive approach and are trying to get a response from me. Which is fine, I know if I let it be they will eventually get bored and leave me alone. I refuse to allow anyone to pull my focus in other directions. I am very blessed for the amount of growth I have experienced these last few years and I am excited to keep growing.

 

Always be unapologetically true too yourself,

-Ali

Empathy-Wearing Your Heart On Your Sleeve?

The word empathy is a noun. It means the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Depending on who you talk to it can also be viewed as a sign of weakness. Empathy. Being in touch with your emotions, wearing your heart on your sleeve.

I can’t tell you how many ex’s have told me I’m too sensitive.

I have been told by those closest to me it is the thing the love and hate the most about me. They know it means I keep my heart open when I shouldn’t. I cry when I am mad. I read into things. I can be jealous. But if I love you. I love you with all my soul. I will take care of you. Gestures no matter how small mean everything and I will do what I can in my guarded way to make sure you know.

I know guarded and empathetic seem like they don’t go but it’s the empathy that makes me guarded. Until it doesn’t.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about my proud Mommy moment.

Watching my beautiful daughter turn into a nurturer. Be aware of others around her and want to take care of them. Most recently with her cousins who are visiting from the East coast. She sees them if she is lucky once a year. Since she is an only child she refers to them as her cousin/siblings. She is in middle school so we have definitely started with some preteen eye rolls and occasional comment.

Overall though she shows me somewhere along the way she got the importance of being kind and caring. Don’t get me wrong she still stands her ground.

Do you know how great it is to be in a conference with four teachers and have them tell me how kind she is?Get that in an email from her guidance counselor.

In how she describes her friends. She makes sure to highlight details. Explain. Tell you why it’s ok. She listens.

Every night she tells me she loves me. She does the same when she leaves for school in the morning. She recognizes some of her friends are different but makes sure to impress upon us why it’s important it’s not a big deal. Her eyes are wide open and so is her beautiful heart.

In a world where people can be so incredibly cruel it makes me so proud my girl is making her own path and leading with a strong heart.

I’m a proud Mama. Who is also sending all of you lots of love from heart on my sleeve.

~~Caprise

Single Mom of the amazing Dbl G
Teacher
Sometime DJ
T-shirt collector
Henry Rollins Middle Aged Punk Prom Date

Happy New Year To Me

Happy New Year, Happy New Year, Happy New Year….

That’s what I’m hearing from lots of people, from every direction, all day for the past few days. I get it. But I feel like it’s more of a traditional salutation than a real heartfelt one. Although some people may seriously mean it… from the bottom of their heart…wishing others a HAPPY new year and all. While some may deeply long for something new in their own lives and really want to spread the vibe to others. Some may long for happiness at every level. And some may not even realize that their wishes are empty because their eyeglasses are just too rosey. Some, like me are excited for what God has planned.

“Lest Not Judge” Right…… so let us not judge the proclamations of others but instead look internally at our own longing for a Happy New Year. A Joyful New Year. Or how about a Glorious, Vivacious, Stupendous, Blessed New Year? I like the sound of that!!

We get to make it up in our mind. We get to say how it is for us. We get to move in that direction, trusting that we have what it takes. We will walk our walk while talking our talk and we will live through those thoughts that WE proclaim. Easy right? Not so much?

Start somewhere. Claim the adjectives that you’re going to place on your new year. Wrap your mind around them. Maybe even make a Vision Board full of pictures that speak to those beautiful adjectives that you’ve chosen as yours. Talk about them, sing about them, brag about them. Use these new words in conversations. Get so damn comfortable with them that they fee like fuzzy slippers on a cold day. And watch. Watch your life begin to move into the direction of something NEW for YOU. I’m choosing “Glorious, Vivacious, Stupendous, Blessed. What are your new words?

Your God Girl,

Tracy xoxo

Battles In Every Day

Battles. There are battles every day for you to face. The most powerful one is the battle in your mind. You could be happy one minute and sad the next. Joyful one and mad the next. On track one minute and falling apart the next. AND…. there may not be any rhyme or reason as to why except- it just is.

Can you see it coming? Can you feel it as it’s showing up? Can you name it and claim it and do something about it? That’s the key. Can you do something about it? With God you can for sure!

Then the next questions is, do you want to? Do you want to live for your higher purpose? Do you want to live the life God has planned out for you? Do you want to take on the Battle in your mind and make it right?

The enemy is sly. And a liar. So you’ve got to ask yourself, why on earth are you listening to that!!!? Jesus has more power in His baby finger than satan has in his whole army. Seriously! The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy and God came so that You may LIVE. So the next time there SEEMS to be a battle going on, remember you have on the armour of God and NOTHING can penetrate that.

My WORST day with Him is far better than my BEST day without Him.

My goal is to finish what God started.

Do what’s right even when life isn’t right.

Not only saved from something but saved for something

Created by God, Built for a purpose

Where are you looking?

“The grass is always greener on the other side, but it still needs to be mowed.”

Your God Girl,

Tracy xoxo

Practical Changes

Below is my piece, Practical Changes, from 2007 when I was a contributing columnist to The Southern Ledger newspaper with my Practical Changes column, the night before my son’s birthday…as you all know my son graduated from High School early and will be 18 this coming May.  I wanted to share this old blog because it speaks to parenting and how it was for me back in those days where many of you are now…enjoy and hope everyone had a great holiday season.

XO, Noelle

WOW…I am writing a night early…Mr. Southern Ledger will surely fall out of his chair from shock tomorrow morning when he sits down to write that ‘friendly little reminder’ to the bloggers and notices that my column is already posted…HA

Six years ago tonight I was in a hospital in Plymouth, MA in the midst of 30 hours of HARD labor waiting for my son to make his first appearance…tomorrow he turns six and we have been counting down the days since Christmas…everything he sees goes under the ‘ I want this for my birthday’ category.  Those of you that know me well are now saying to yourselves, “just like his mother” and I can hear you.

In retrospect, I believe that was the hardest night of my life…I won’t bore you with the scenario of 30 hours, but trust me when I say it was FAR from pleasant…it taught me that if I could do that and endure that, then I could certainly do anything…what a good, smart, handsome little boy he is and funny and stubborn…sometimes I feel like the kid got a raw deal, all I do is work and it seems like some days I am always yelling…I have two modes loud and louder…it runs in my Italian family, we talk too much and most everything is loud.  Then there is that whole emotionally unkempt thing, which runs in my family too.

Sometimes I feel like I am doing such a bad job at all this…I think I should be nicer and more patient, yet someone or something is always pulling at me and I just have to keep moving because I don’t see anyone else around here paying for anything…granted this was my choice, to get a divorce rather than live in a situation that I was finished with just for the sake of security…I’m pretty sure the kid is normal, whatever that means anymore…I mean he goes to private school and has the best of everything and he is with me all the time…I have a great staff that helps a lot and without whom I would fail to function.

I think that no matter how smart we are there are always those times when we are second guessing ourselves, wondering if we are good enough or if we are doing it ‘right’…we must be doing okay around here though because we are starting year number six and that feels like a huge accomplishment.

As I sit here tonight I think back to who I was six years ago and I realize that so much has changed…I think that I am gaining some insight and wisdom as I go along…that’s a good thing…I am learning how to let things go, how to let someone else have the last word, how to walk away instead of react when someone is unpleasant, how to trust God and not be so scared all the time about everything turning out ok…I am learning how to take deep breaths and learning to remember that it will all still be there tomorrow.

I have also learned that I am too old to be blond anymore.  Recently, I had my hair highlighted and a lot of blond put in—it has been that way for about two and a half weeks and I have felt off the whole time—I kept looking at myself in the mirror and thinking how not like myself I looked, too washed out, too old and then finally this morning I wondered why I had done it, what was I hoping to prove?  In my other life I could carry blond, this life requires dark hair and ‘on purpose’ behavior—tonight my hair has been returned to a darker state and I recognize the chick I see in the mirror…  She has a messy desk, is emotionally unkempt, is a workaholic, is probably starting to wrinkle and sag, drinks too much coffee, shops too much and is not currently working out as much as she needs to, however, she knows how to get stuff done, she has a great kid, she has incredible friends, she is generous beyond measure, she knows how to laugh at herself and she understands that life is really about who we are and not what we have…I like that chick, she has dark hair and she’s not afraid to tell it like it is.

It’s good to mark time, to look back and see how far you have come…it makes us grateful for progress, grateful for all the gifts that we have been given…most everyone is always rushing through birthdays, Christmas Days, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days…how many times do we stop and remember the years past, how much do we acknowledge how far we have come?

We should you know, we should make a practice of acknowledging how much advancement we have gained over the years.  It is virtually impossible not to gain wisdom as time passes…life itself is such a profound teacher.

I will take my leave of you now as I have gifts to wrap in Spiderman paper and tomorrow there is a trip to Chuck E. Cheese in my future…I know y’all are jealous.

Please Pass The Eggnog

Please pass the eggnog.

Holiday party season is in full swing. Which means I get grilled. You get grilled. There is not a single person at a holiday party,gathering or function who is safe except maybe someone’s Grammy. As she should be as she is a big part of why we are all gathered and typically in my experience brings the best baked goods.

Please pass the eggnog.

Sadly that’s not what this blog is about.

It’s about that uncomfortable questioning that comes each holiday season.

It makes me so uncomfortable my eczema flares up. This year I was hoping my flare was because of my new tattoo, but I’ve been going to the same guy for five years with no issues. Also, said ink is nowhere near my flare up location.

It was because I had a holiday work event with new people and I knew I would get questions about my plans for the holidays.

Which honestly is a perfectly acceptable thing to ask. It’s people’s reactions to my answers that can be tough.

At  this year’s gathering I was asked what I was doing for the holidays to which I said my family was visiting from the East Coast.

I then was asked if we spent time with my husband’s family.

No. I’m not married. Divorced.

Oh … you’re not married. Remarried?

No

Oh. Do you have a boyfriend.

Ummm… well kinda, it’s new so…

So just you and your daughter?

Well…

Oh that’s too bad.

Wait, wait, wait. First of all it’s not just me and my daughter. It’s her grandparents and aunt, uncles, cousins. AND even if it was just us, WHICH it has been many times we have traditions in place.

Like our gingerbread house that gets attacked by dinosaurs that we build every year no matter what. It gets attacked because frankly gingerbread houses are hard.

Cookie baking.

Hanging out in jammies all day on Christmas.

Going to a movie.

Pizza!

Yule log for breakfast!

My Christmas may not fit the mold but it’s mine and hers and even at what I thought was the hardest and worst she didn’t, and shame on me I shouldn’t have either because I had her.

At the end of the day as hard as it is to answer the questions and feel like it’s not perfect, remember and I believe Noelle sings a similar song on the regular… it’s about moments. It’s about time. It’s about each other.

I sometimes forget I have the best Christmas gift of all, she’s eleven, she’s almost taller than me and it does make me giggle that singing Jump Around at the top of my lungs embarrasses her a little.

In the meantime though, maybe pass me some eggnog with a little something extra in it.

Remember Mommas we got this and I got you.

Much love and Happy Holidays,

~~Caprise

Single Mom of the amazing Dbl G
Teacher
Sometime DJ
T-shirt collector
Henry Rollins Middle Aged Punk Prom Date

Lessons and Changes Within Leadership

I was listening to a T.D. Jakes sermon this morning while on the treadmill and he said that “with new levels come new devils.”  He went on to explain that success and leadership are actually very painful and arrive with a whole new set of things to overcome.  When God has placed a calling on your life He sets out to equip you for it.  This usually involves challenges and circumstances that will bring you to your knees.   When you are in God’s leadership training you don’t actually know it at first, you don’t get a letter in the mail, no email comes, no memo, no warnings.  Life just starts to kick the crap out of you, challenges come at you, people betray you, and relationships disappoint you. You navigate each situation and you get stronger.  Every time you pick yourself up, you keep going and you never quit.  Then one day you look back and see that there was a reason for all of those things

Success is often viewed as leadership.  People in positions of leadership are seen as having ‘made it’ in some way.  They are thought to be the winners, the ones that have reached their goals and achieved some modicum of prosperity.

A lot of people want to be Leaders; they envision that being a Leader is important, filled with glory and has a lot of perks…perhaps they even think that being a Leader is where the ‘money’ is.  The truth?  Being a Leader, is in fact, more difficult than any other task. Being a good or great Leader?  That requires more work than most people can even fathom.

In order to lead you must be able to follow…happily and humbly.  You must be able to take direction and work within someone else’s framework even if you think you could do it better. If you can’t follow someone else then NOBODY will ever follow you, no matter how amazing you perceive yourself to be.  This is an important skill to instill in young people, the act of following happily and humbly.  I promise you that every great Leader began by following someone else first.

To lead successfully you must also lead by example, you must first have done the task that you now wish to entrust to someone else.  You must have executed that task to fully learn how to do it with excellence and to understand what it feels like to do that particular thing.  If you want to order people around then you better be coming from a place that includes already doing that work, otherwise people will not do as you ask and they will resent you.  If you think you are too good to clean windows or toilets or empty trash, then I suggest you remember where you came from and I suggest that you don’t imagine that someone “beneath” you should do those things.

I don’t care who you are or who you think you are—nobody is beneath you and you are not better than anyone else on this planet.  You may be different and you may have more advanced skills and you may make more money, however you are not ‘better’ than any other human being.  God created all of us equal and to be a great Leader you will do well to remember this and to treat people accordingly.

Real Leaders want to build people up and help them get to the next level in their lives; Leaders know that their job is to leave this planet better than they found it.  They make it their business to INSPIRE other people, not make fun of them or put them down.

I see so many people trying to succeed and trying to lead and they just seem to keep forgetting the source of true leadership which is to lead by example.  You must first FOLLOW the disciplines that you wish to teach, you must walk the walk and succeed there before anyone will listen to you.  Sure, you can lead without doing this and whatever you are trying to do will not hold water, eventually it will collapse on top of you and you won’t prosper to your full ability.

You can’t sleep late, live like a pig, be rude, make fun of people, and lack self-discipline and then get dressed up and go and tell people how to be a success.  People may look like they are listening, yet you will lack the authenticity needed to produce results.  You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.  You can even put eye shadow and a dress on it, but it is still a pig.

Gandhi said “be the change in the world that you want to see”, that is really good advice.

Be authentic and don’t try to teach people things that you haven’t already walked through.

~Noelle