My parents, Philip C. Holmen and Jeannine R. Calande on their wedding day.
I’m writing this as my father is preparing himself to transition from this Earth into the expansive form of himself. I called him yesterday in the ICU to tell him how much I loved him. I could tell by his faint whisper of a voice that it wouldn’t be much longer. I had asked him several times if he wanted me to see him, and he said it was okay. I knew that I wanted my last memory of him to be of him smiling and telling jokes, not the frail shell of a man he is today.
I hold those memories close to my heart. I know I will be judged by my siblings of my decision not to rush to the hospital, but I have to do what feels right for me. I don’t believe in doing things out of guilt anymore, but doing things because it is out of Love. I chose to remember all of the things my father taught me over the years and it was because he loved me.
We all have a story to tell about our parents, though some may have a story of why their parents weren’t in their life. I was lucky to have both growing up. Being a writer, reflection is my pastime. I often reflect where I was in my life to understand where I am going. It’s within these reflections that I have grown. Entwined in my childhood were the lessons that my father taught me.
It’s a surreal time for me knowing I am here at this juncture. Knowing this is a normal process; we all must die. But to know someone’s time is bridging closer makes it all more clear to me. Reflecting on our life while living is the most important thinking we can do. I’m grateful for the times I’ve had to learn a little about this man and little more about me. Continue reading
10,000 miles in seven weeks has brought me to my new life. Leaving our 3,700 square foot home to our new 45 foot boat in Florida brings many unexpected challenges and joy. Giving up the safety-net job of teaching was the first step, then it was putting all of my life into the back of my Dodge Avenger. (That’s when I realized that everything in my life was truly temporary!) I also realized that picking and choosing items to keep in life and those to let go of can be emotional, yet freeing.
Things to Keep
Some things were easy to keep. The things that make life a little easier, as well as things that brought me joy. It was the memories of friends I had made in the past 25 years living in Nevada. They were there for me for a reason or a season, though only a few were for longer. The memories of those that made me laugh or listened to my sorrows will always hold a special place in my heart. The memories of having groups of friends where monthly get-togethers were fun diversions, to watching their children grow making us feel a little older and wiser. Also, the beauty of Lake Tahoe and the places that brought me happiness. I often visit those places in my mind when I need a pick me up.
Things I Got Rid Of Continue reading
I don’t regret going to Alaska. It taught me so much about my intuition and those that suffer from mental illness. I feel this journey only made me a better writer exploring the human experience.
Signs Like a Totem Pole
The plane landed in Anchorage without delay. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first views of Alaska after researching it for the past five months. Green, lush pine groves, tall snow laden mountains and large blue skies would be the backdrop to my first feature film.
Krystal had already grabbed her backpack and was bubbling over with anticipation and a little apprehension. Would this be the same Alaska she knew 25 years ago? I was to write her life story, a feature film about the events that led her back to the man who broke her heart so many years ago and the woman she had now become.
It was a story of survival and redemption. I was excited that this movie could launch her career as a Life Coach. Little did I know that this trip would be a shocking discovery of broken dreams, harsh realities and a tattered soul.
When I started teaching mindfulness based stress reduction with my 3rd graders, I worried there would be push-back from my parents thinking I would be teaching meditation, although the word was not used in the curriculum.
However, within the first week of practice, students would use the word meditation from their own background knowledge of the word.
Students practicing breathing techniques.
Knowing this could be cause for concern, I briefly taught the students the difference between practicing breathing techniques to calm the brain and Meditation. Since then, in the nine years of teaching Mindfulness, I’ve only had one incident where a parent discontinued their child in the activities, due to religious choice.
The program I implemented was called The MindUp Curriculum by the Hawn Foundation. I chose this program, because it is non-secular in its teaching of mindfulness using brain-based research in the 15 activities.
Students were taught in the first three lessons how their body responds to stress and how to regulate the stress through mindful breathing techniques called Core Practice. For the rest of the twelve lessons in the program, the students learned how to be Mindful, practice Empathy, and to self regulate during stressful or excitable situations.
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.” ~ Buddha
I had the privilege this year to teach over 175 eighth graders the art of mindfulness once a week for over 10 weeks. It was a profound experience for them and completely eye-opening for me. Although I had taught hundreds of elementary aged children mindfulness, I did not realize how desperate our teenagers were for this practice in their life.
It wasn’t instant buy-in at first.
I recall the first time the students walked into their Science class that Friday to see me sitting at the side of the room. They immediately went into ‘substitute teacher’ mode. I smiled and walked to the front of the room and stood quietly, ignoring their comments and rambunctiousness. I had forewarned their Science teacher, sitting in the back of the room, to let them just be themselves and not correct their behavior. She was visibly nervous.
I was asked recently what my films are about and the short answer is the Human Experience. Of course they said, “Isn’t that what all films are about?”
Yes, in short they are, however I want to create films that make people walk away thinking that they can do the impossible, too. Every one of my films speak to those people who view their life as impossible. Overcoming adversity is a human condition, one that always feels impossible, until one day there is a catalyst of change.
It truly takes just one small thing to change in a person’s life to make a profound impact.
Trash of Angels takes place in South Carolina in the 1950’s during the Jim Crow Laws. It flashes back to a scene where Avery Booth is beaten by his step-father and until he is rescued by a negro garbage man, Barnaby Holmes. Avery is taken under Barnaby’s wing and shown a completely new perspective in his town of Crescent Glenn. It’s a story of our ever-changing perspectives and how easily we are swayed by those around us.
I believe in people and their ability to grow. I want to share that with my audiences.
It took several years to get to the point in my life that I could honestly say, “I feel fulfilled.” This came through the realization that I was finally at peace by myself. I could be anywhere at anytime and feel content to share that space alone and not feel desperate to have someone beside me. This didn’t mean I didn’t want to share my life with someone. I just didn’t feel the need to have someone there to feel fulfilled.
I wasn’t a needy child nor adult. I was very comfortable being independent and doing things by myself. Maybe I had it easier than most, but I did notice I could have gone down a different path if I didn’t start questioning myself why I wanted certain things or people in my life.
I have experienced many women friends unable to feel truly happy unless they were in a relationship. Many of them also felt the need to surround themselves with things, only to feel the same once they put the items in a closet.
Our media has inundated us with people desperately needing to have things or someone in their life; clothing, home goods, an animal, another piece of something they are after.
Yet, I also noticed many people always reaching for “something else,” again and again and still feeling lack.
Practicing the life of a writer is much more fun than the practicality of it. I could be bogged down with the fears of how was I going to make it, rather than the sheer joy of creating.
I am taking a leave of absence from teaching to heal myself from stress and begin my life as a writer. It took me several years to finally get myself to this point and start my dream.
Why did it take so long? Life got in the way. From being a mother and wife, then a divorce to freedom, I never found the inner strength I needed to believe in myself.
Then the pieces seemed to fall into place, once I allowed myself to see the signs. Continue reading
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”- Goethe
Day 1 of the first day of my NEW LIFE.
I am jumping out of education for five months to heal my body and to lift my soul. Crazy, huh?
I am going to write and to follow my passions. I was going through the agony of deciding to leave education where I had felt very successful, when my doctor made it for me. I had the full-blown symptoms of adrenal fatigue, so it was a shock when he said those words, “You need to take time off to heal.”
To actually act upon those words was another thing. It’s hard to leave a profession I had done so well in to jump into the unknown, but every thing in the Universe had pointed me in that direction. I could not ignore all the signs that said to take a leap of faith.
“You need to take time off to heal.”
The signs were obvious. Continue reading
”I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics.”
Sir Richard Branson
I can’t tell you how much of my life’s biggest ah-ha moments, deepest pain, and most joyous revelations all boiled down to me following my intuition or ignoring it! The process of learning to discern my intuition versus my logic brain actually didn’t take much practice. I learned quickly that if I put too much reasoning or logic behind my action/words, I would almost always regret my choice.
…learning to discern my intuition versus my logic brain
actually didn’t take much practice…
Since I was a little girl, my gut instinct was very strong, however I was not surrounded by people willing to let me know if I was ‘reading’ the situation correctly or not. It’s not easy telling someone they are being insecure or fearful because your gut told you so, and then asking them if you were right. More than likely they’d respond with, ” you don’t know what you’re talking about,” or “what do you know, you’re just a kid.” Training myself to believe in my gut became easier as I got older, especially after I got married. Now it wasn’t because marriage brought a sense of peace and tranquility into my life. It was exactly the opposite.
We can all recall, those of us with siblings, the lasting memories of childhood and the instigators in our life we call brother or sister. Many of us had close, bonding relationships that made us feel protected, and others recall times of utter chaos and torment. Some of us felt our birth position as powerful, such as the first born dictates, or how much you were able to get away with things being the baby in the family. But no matter the type of relationship you had with your siblings, they shaped us in ways we are now finding impacts how well we adjust in our daily adult lives.
“There may be no relationship… that’s closer, finer, harder, sweeter, happier, sadder, more filled with joy or fraught with woe, that the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters.” – Jeffrey Kluger, TED Radio Hour.
They know your real Persona.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, … to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell
I was 10 years old when my family went to 6 Flags Great Adventure. It was my first time on a roller coaster with my twin brother, and we were so excited, though our stomachs were tied in knots! I remember the attendant putting the measly safety bar down onto our laps. I looked at my brother just as the car started to move up the steep climb and scooted over to him. We lurched to the top and paused just long enough to take a breath.
As soon as the car dove over the edge, everyone screamed in typical roller coaster fashion, however I wasn’t screaming. My body had left the seat and began to go over the front of the car! I grabbed desperately for anything, but the momentum and steep descent kept pulling me out. My brother frantically grabbed my belt and wedged me into the corner of the seat until we hit the bottom of the hill. I was petrified! We got off shaking, telling the attendants that the bar didn’t hold me in. They just looked at us and moved us along. I will never forget that day, so grateful my brother was there.
My body had left the seat and began to go over the front of the car!