Monday, May 30, 2016

Summer Girl-what is this all about??

Something amazing has been happening.  And I need to step back a few weeks to explain how this amazing thing got a seed of a start in my whirling drunken squirrel party of a brain.

I am a very lucky girl in that I had magical summers up until the time I went to college and got real summer jobs,  I spent my summers in a funky and perfect little house in very small town on a peninsula of land between a bay full of soft sand beaches with water perfect for swimming, sailing and water skiing and the ocean on the west side, a short drive away. Our house was about a 5 minute walk to the edge of Tomales Bay.  We spent every single summer moved into a 2 bedroom house with a porch on the back for sunning, eating and friend gathering.... and a front porch with a couple of sleeping spots and stairs made  for perching when I wanted to read or embroider.  We had no tv, dishwasher or inside washer and dryer.  We spent sunny days at the beach and foggy days hanging with other summer families who became our family.  During the week it was mostly the moms and kids, dads came up on the weekends and so did "company".  Dinner during the week was often platters of cheese, salami and crackers while the moms played dominoes, had cocktails and laughed until it was time to go home. Weekends were large groups on our special beach with boats, sand and water everywhere.  The kids were allowed to roam the streets between everyone's home even in the dark. It was carefree and magical and I know as an adult what a very very fortunate girl I was.  At the time however.....I was surrounded mostly by boys.  My 2 brothers and a collection of the most annoying boys in the world.  So I found ways to entertain myself as a summer girl must do.  I turned to reading, painting rocks, embroidering on shirts and jeans and playing the guitar.  When the other two girls in the group were around, we did those things together but often it was me on the porch with my skinny legs tucked under me, using what we had around to make things or get lost in a book.  I learned to summer this way from my mom and the other moms because they summered like it was their job. I was left to be me, hair unruly, freckles encouraged to catch fire from  days on the beach.  I was barefoot except when I was forced to slip into my flip flops for safety.  My mom made the best apple and blackberry pie and if we picked enough of either, she would whip out a couple of pies before the beach. Pie for dessert and pie for breakfast on the porch in the sun.  Bathing suits and sandy towels were perpetually drying on the porch railing. It was simply the best way to grow up and to spend summer days.  Allowed to be my own tangled teenage self, I was probably the most at home and the most me I can remember.

A couple of weeks ago I was in a cabin in the mountains with some lovely women.   We were there to indulge in our projects, sewing machines, cutting tables and fabric were everywhere.  I happened to grab an embroidery project along the way and pulled that out on the first day.  As I sank into the stitches, I was taken back.  Back to what it felt like to just fall back into myself.  Stitching while we chatted or while we got quiet, I thought a great deal about the gift those summers had given me. I wanted to feel the way it felt when the world fell away a bit and summer was magical.  The more I embroidered, the more I traveled to that place and the more I wanted to recreate what that was like. That summer girl place, where the young carefree teenage girl lived for a few months each year.  Barefoot, unruly hair and sun on my face.  And Grow Wild Summer Girl was born.  First a hashtag on an Instagram post, the idea nagged at me. I shared my thoughts with a friend who jumped at the notion of being a summer girl and she encouraged me to write about it. And then I wrote the first Blog Post (one post back from this one)  Shared it on social media and something insane and beautiful happened.   A whole lot of you responded. And when I say a whole lot, more than any other blog post I have written..  And I knew that I wasn't the only one......

I wanted to share embroidery, reading ideas, summer thoughts, friendship bracelets and mostly friendships. I wanted to create summer for myself and see who else wanted to summer with me.  Connecting in a place that feels like home to our weary grown up girl selves....We carry the world and lots of worry about life and the people we are raising or love.  We carry so much more than we need to and adult life sometimes sucks the girl right out of us.  I say we take it back.  We can't all quit our jobs and summer like we did at 17 but we surely can give ourselves that place in bits and pieces.   So that is what this Summer Girl thing is all about.  connecting.  Connecting to other summer girls who need to laugh and let go a bit and connecting to ourselves.   Create a tribe of summer girls, exchange gifts, exchange pie recipes, exchange thoughts, exchange pieces of your heart. Whisper to each other and to yourself the things you don't let out in the other seasons , trust yourself to let your truths out and set down your burdens for just a while. Let go and be yourself...Just be a Summer Girl even for an hour at a time.

I've created a place for you to come gather with us..A Facebook page just for all of this wonder and magic..

I've also just started on Pinterest a Summer Girl Board and will be adding in some Summer Girl activities and reading list boards, all will start with Summer Girl...(I already started an Embroidery board).

So join us, become your Summer Girl, grow wild a bit.   There is no age that defines a summer girl, we are all the same in summer.  The Facebook page is filling up with lots of other Summer Girls from everywhere! Bring your friends, create a tribe, start summering and please please please share your stories and projects.  That is what we do as Summer Girls, we connect and we remember what that girl we sometimes leave behind.  Laugh hard, get sunshine on your face , play dominos and have cheese and crackers for dinner once in a while. Put down your phone, pick up something that feels like a deep sigh to your soul.   The world will look much brighter when you tuck your legs under you and settle in just a bit.   Welcome home Summer Girl. I'm so happy you are here.
<3 Barbara

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Grow Wild Summer Girl

I remember her well.  My teenage summer girl.  I was fortunate enough to spend my summers a house built by my great great greats in a small village near the beach.  We had a group of other families that spent summers with us in their houses built by their great great greats and we spent our days together at the beach, picking blackberries, making jam, playing dominos and guitars late into the summer nights and just doing what comes next in summer.   There was lots of time to entertain ourselves so I spent hours embroidering chambray shirts, painting rocks, making things like friendship bracelets and reading on my bed on the porch.  My sheets were delightfully mismatched, laundry was hung on the line and sandy towels hung over the balcony every day after the beach.  No TV...lots of quiet time for a girl to spend just being who she was.  The way she came to this world with her true wild guiding her.  I yearn for that feeling, of just being absorbed in the business of summer.  Barefoot with messy hair, my freckles glowing from days in the sun.  My mom's blackberry pie for breakfast, reading late at night out on the porch in my bed with a flashlight.  The time when I was just me, before life got a hold of me and shook me all around.  I miss my summer girl.....

I've decided it's time to bring her back in every way that I can. I've decided to take back my summer and bring back that girl.   While I cannot leave my job or spend hours a day, every day at the beach. I can grab onto moments of summer girl pursuits.  And I have enlisted a few friends to do the same, I've gathered a tribe and it took just a moment of sharing my thoughts with a few friends who shouted "I'M IN" without hesitation because  clearly we all need this.  I'll be sharing ideas and the ways that we join together  from where we are, to live a summer girl life.  It will be different for everyone but I know that there is a way to find that part of you that you've been missing.  We take care of so many other people and things, life gets a little hectic and heavy sometimes.   Put it down just a bit, the should dos and business of being busy. Remember what summer is for. Your kids, they can entertain themselves without you for a bit, or if they can't...train them.  Teach them to be summer kids.  Take off your shoes and walk in the grass, find a book you want to read and curl up in a cozy spot and give yourself an hour.  Float in water, paint rocks and have pie for breakfast.  The world will not come apart if you fall back into yourself. I just won't.  

There's a wild, wild whisper
Blowin' in the wind
Callin' out my name
Like a long lost friend
Oh, I miss those days
As the years go by
Oh, nothin' sweeter than summertime
And American honey
~Lady Antebellum!  

I'll be sharing lots of good summer girl ideas but my first is to gather a reading list and make some  friendship bracelets for my tribe. There are tons of tutorials and YouTube videos out there..I'm starting with this one

Come with me won't you, gather a group of girlfriends who also are feeling a bit like adulting has taken a bite out of them.  Find ways to immerse yourselves even for small pieces of time in what it was like to just be you.  A summer camp for your soul....Can you imagine if all the girls you know decided to do the same.  I think your world and mine would be a better place full of happier women giving themselves over to just being who they are and doing things that make them happy .  Less social media, more reading with flashlights.   I desperately need to let go of all the stuff that has been weighing down my world, not quit it all but put it in it's place.  Get right with myself and embroider my jeans and for goodness sake.... lighten up.  Back to the girl I have missed so much.  Let your hair free, turn your face to the sun and listen to that whisper calling your name. I will be doing a series of blogposts about the Summer Girl Life....I hope you will come along with me and summer the heck out of this Summer.  Welcome home summer girl, grow wild and free.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Strong is Beautiful

So.... I've been wanting to write this post for a bit but I wasn't quite ready until now.   It's all about love....

My name is Barbara....I am 58 years old and on December 26, 2015 I weighed in at 234.5 pounds.  I could tell you all the reasons why, 5 babies, changing metabolism, menopause, inactivity, indecision, stress, worry, hopelessness and probably a bit of depression, anxiety and inertia thrown in as well.  I've tried many things to change all of these circumstances and feelings...many things.  And never ever quite could get past the things holding me back.... which at the end of the day was fear and the inability to care enough about myself to do better. ...I was my own problem.  I have had bursts of energy for walking, dance cardio in my kitchen, really healthy eating but always always, it trickledl through my hands like water and I gave up.  I've tried over the past 6 years to really do something about it all but I couldn't stick with it.  I allowed cruel words and my own jungle of crippling self doubt and again FEAR put me back into the safe and easy place of wallowing.

Nights for the past 5-7 years have been spent over thinking, entertaining worries that became bigger in the dark and kept me quiet and deeply sad.  Weakness and fear.   LIARS....both of them..... I watched my own children turn themselves into fit and healthy people, I watched friends turn themselves into fit and healthy people, with a glow that I knew might be inside but I honestly had so many excuses rooted in those fear and weakness lies that I just didn't put myself on the list of people I wanted to see healthy.  I didn't put myself on the list of people who I loved enough to believe in.  I'm going to say that again because it's the thing, the only thing..  I DIDN'T PUT MYSELF ON THE LIST OF PEOPLE I LOVED ENOUGH TO BELIEVE IN.... I didn't love me enough to take care of me.  Sadness, excuses and fear....  You can see how I got to that place... I just didn't see beyond the lies that happened in the dark.

 I wanted to be happy, free to be my own true self, unafraid and strong.. I wanted my barefoot and messy girl to be free to breathe, laugh, cry  and LIVE TRUE . I didn't want the critical voice of others or myself to count anymore. I wanted to be brave and unafraid. I wanted to be able to bend over and tie my shoes and to slip into clothes that didn't have 2 X's in the size. I wanted to shed the girl that I had become so that the girl I truly am could fly a bit, oh heck, I wanted to fly a whole lot. I wanted the life I WANTED and I wanted it now...Not sure when or how that all happened, I have to say it was a huge light bulb of an AHA moment.  just like that.... But.... I didn't know where to start except with my body. I wanted to glow and feel good about me. I wanted to feel love and give it to myself.  I wanted to put myself on the list of people I love I did...honestly like that I did...And on December 26, 2016 with all 234.5 pounds of me, I joined a gym.

And so it started.  After a couple of treadmill sessions and one amazingly awesome treadmill accident that should have been caught on video, I asked my sons for help.  And they took me to the weights.   The part of the gym that was the most frightening and overwhelming, we went there.  I guess if you are taking on fears, you should take on the biggest ones.  I looked and felt totally out of place but we started. With  gentle but firm guidance I started learning to lift weights, learning what would impact what muscles. Learned how to manage a workout and what I wanted to get out of it.  I learned what was what and how to negotiate the sea of fit bodies and get my own spot on the floor in front of the big scary mirror so I could watch my form and concentrate.  I learned about the sauna after and how amazing it feels to sweat a bit at the end of a good workout and how it keeps soreness somewhat at bay. And I learned that I loved being stronger. Learned to push myself beyond what I think I can do. And I have learned to keep going.....through what is frightening.  Take on new challenges and triumph over things that I don't think I can do.....TRIUMPH...what an amazing word....

A few weeks ago, I experienced, a girlfriend's betrayal in a personal up close kind of way. ...My old self wanted to curl into a ball and cry.  My old self almost went into victim mode, a place that feels safe and justified.   But that isn't who I have worked to become.  I confronted the now former friend, told her that I knew what she had said about me, violating every bit of trust and ending our friendship forever. My old self would have negotiated around the hard stuff and let her remain in my life. My new self took care of me like I would take care of someone I loved. And instead of curling into a ball and crying for days, I headed to the gym. I sweated out a furious amazing workout, I did 2 miles on the treadmill until I could not do more.  And I knew that I was no longer afraid of anything.  Strong felt really good that day....Strong feels really good every day.

So after 4 months of learning to do hard things, lift heavy weights, fast walk for  many miles and feeling at home at the gym I should be able to show you a before and after picture.  I could, but  my "before" may look a bit like my "right now".   I've not lost a pound. I lose a pound here and there and seem to gain it back (SERIOUSLY????).  My clothes still have 2 Xs in the size label.  But I can bend over and tie my shoes, I am starting to get some muscles that show,I can do what I couldn't before and I am unafraid.  Because strong is more than my body, I believe you can't change one thing without changing everything about yourself.  It's a ripple kind of of thing... Strong is Mind Body and Spirit.  I am becoming  the girl I wanted to be. Unapologetically .  I am making some plans and setting some boundaries I didn't have before to have the life I WANT to have. To live free. I now sleep through the night, I eat better because it tastes better, I surround myself with people who are good for my soul, I am not afraid because I am stronger.   I am at the TOP of the list of people I believe in....I am at peace about losing the weight, I know it will shake loose eventually.  What I didn't expect was how much I would love all of this. Every single bit of rising up.  And that is why I had to write this love letter to myself and to you.. Because it's everything.

The title of this post was inspired by this piece.....

I just ordered it from my friend at The Rusted Chain.... Beki has lots of stuff with good words but truly these may be my favorite right now..  ..

Strong comes in many forms, it's different for everyone.  But for me, it had to come from learning that I am indeed capable of doing hard things and learning that fear isn't something to run from. Fear is something to turn around, look in the eye and face down.... Fear will run from strong every single time. Because fear is a liar and only exists when you let it and strong girls are beautiful....  Even with 2 x's on their tee shirt labels.

<3 B