28 September - Take Inventory, Defy and Renew

"Are you in a funk?" he asked. I smiled at my husband and asked, "Why?" Was it because I was two blog entries behind? Or that we were staring at the four loads of laundry still sitting on our tufted chocolate chaise in our bedroom? The underwear were now spilling onto the cream shag rug, which my husband called a game of Go Fish. "Is THIS my matching black sock? Nope. Go fish." My answer was "no, moreso uninspired." My blog became the antithesis of what I intended...a chore versus an inspiring task. In setting up this personal project, I knew myself too well. Anyone can set out to learn or try something new, but the blog was to represent a commitment, documented for no one but myself - a public diary to keep me accountable.

I realized it was time to just be. Exist. Take inventory and soak in where I was in my life. Deadline shmeadline. It was MY blog, for crying out loud. I knew if I just let myself be open, my senses would heighten and I would become more aware and open to receiving...whatever I was meant to. Therefore, appreciation and answers would begin to fill my cup. So I listened.

The week started with a Facebook note my friend wrote about decluttering. Declutter your body from poisons, your life from the noise and your circle of false friendships. It made me evaluate the lethargy I was feeling and what I could do to change it. What were the poisons from my life that were distracting me from my focus? Who was dear to me versus who held me dear? Whom had I cared for unconditionally and who was absent or judgmental in my time of need? I remembered that life is too short. Love them anyway, but declutter.

Then, remember where you came from. I sat in the kitchen, prolonging Mom's departure back home. The anticipated void began to create its warm nest in my stomach. She began her incredible storytelling over our ritual breakfast - oatmeal, coffee and tea. I interviewed her about her childhood. Her expressions, role playing, laughter and character lines that bring to life her history...of the innocent trouble she would start but blame her sister; the Japanese regime that made her family flee to the mountains and travel by night; the joys of jam sessions and teenage love; her growing up in poverty which set the path of a determined well-paying, adventurous nursing career; saving my dad's life in Laos during their tenure at "Operation Brotherhood"; to becoming the mother my friends always longed for...all without a mother of her own. How did she find the strength, clarity and wisdom? I documented these stories in tears, remembering the fabric from which I was cut and created. I will always remember this, our coffee, tea and oatmeal ritual.

In order to appreciate, you have to look where you have been. I re-evaluated my benchmark and what this year brought me so far…jumping in Lake Michigan with the polar bears and friend Burkle, visiting my former dojang to learn a new weapon form, surfing in the Shark Capital of the World, singing with Broadway's Christine from Phantom of the Opera, to playing sous chef to Top Chef Winner Stephanie Izard. More importantly, I had the fortune to visit with the elderly, feed the hungry and clothe those getting off their feet and seeking employment. I have met incredible people on this trip, including TV executives interested in what I had to say.

And most importantly, where I landed in this past year’s search brought me … home. All came full circle when I realized I already have all that I need -- an incredible husband, family (which includes friends) and God. So how horrific to be ... uninspired?? Indeed, the purpose of documenting in the form of a blog was for times like these. To remember.

I decided to mark this week with something I won't forget. A DEFY bag with my logo. My former advertising buddy and roommate Julie from Chicago sent me a link of her husband's new line of messenger bags made from recycled billboard vinyl. I perused and found my favorite. The Letterpress image would represent my writing, with my blog logo to remind me of the trail behind me and the path yet ahead.

Lastly, what better way to end the week than with a Women's Retreat. I always wondered what happened at these things. Do we all have mirrors and look at our privates like in “Fried GreenTomatoes?” Uh...not at all. As I walked in nonchalantly and made mental profiles of each woman, I found myself choked up within the first hour. I sat in a room of attorneys, artists, moms, superintendents, accountants, athletes.... And for the sake of keeping it sacred for the next group, I will not divulge what brought me the peace, intimacy and renewal needed in walking away. In listening and talking with these women, I heard key phrases like, "people should never assume they understand another's situation or hardship"; “there are no problems, only creative solutions”; “above all, persevere”; “when I was open to the doors being opened, I was pushed to where I was afraid to go.” These were stories of overcoming and empowerment.

I ended the week in gratitude, decluttering, making peace with the past, feeling cleansed and renewed. Ironically, today's quote of the day on this blog is "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." – George Bernard Shaw.

For more information on recycled Defy messenger bags, please visit www.defybags.com.