A Better Home

I flew home last night from Charlotte, NC. There have been less than a hand full of times I’ve ever needed to be home so badly. You see I’ve been gone all but about four days since early February. Not only did I miss two snowfalls we had in Chicago during that time but also, I missed home. It’s that simple. As much as I’ve said in other posts that home is where the heart is and though my heart traveled with me, I’ve been away from all the comforts my personal home brings me – coffee in the wee hours each morning with my David while we play Scrabble on our IPads, solitary walks in nature, my own home-cooked meals, my dog and my writing (hard to do when traveling) to name a few. Most of all I’ve missed my quiet time with David. He is absolutely positively the love of my life. As is our tradition when I return home from traveling, last night we went to our fave restaurant just a stone’s throw away from our house. Vincitori’s Italian – quaint and ever so yummy, it is my comfort place to go to when I get home. The restaurant was packed so we ate at the bar. Let me tell you, I was giddy with happiness. I kept patting David’s leg, rubbing his back and smiling at him while thinking in my head, there’s no place like home. Hallelujah, I felt finally home. Truly, home never felt better than this. And that my friends made me realize that being away from home for so long and dealing with all that went on these last few weeks gave me a new appreciation for home which in turn gave me a better home to return to.

Two other people I know have recently been gifted a better home to live in. One I learned about through a chance encounter one of the hair stylists at the salon I go to had with a new client. The other I know personally. Both of these people are now living in better homes. I know they are blessed and I know their families are as well. Let me explain…

Maurice’s gift gave someone a better home

No matter where I go I tend to be a “Chatty Cathy” and have tons of unusual stories to tell. Even at the salon I go to many of the stylists there know me and know this about me so the last time I was there getting highlights one of the stylists came over to talk. In no time she told me about the odd encounter she had the day before. A walk-in client had come in and so she cut her hair. They began a casual conversation and before long they started talking about where they both went to high school. When the stylist said where she went the woman in the chair said, “I didn’t go there but the mother of the boy that gave me his kidney did.” That remark led to more connecting the dots until oddly enough the hair stylist realized the boy she was talking about was Maurice, a 16-year-old boy that had lived with his mother above her condo years ago in Chicago. You see some guys that wanted his jacket gunned down Maurice in cold blood in front of their building on a day Maurice was excited about going to a concert that evening with his mother, the hair stylist and her son. He later died at the hospital from the gunshot wound. His mother decided to donate all his organs that could be donated. Now all these years later a woman that was a recipient of Maurice’s kidney was sitting in her chair. Talk about synchronicity! What a gift both these women received. The hair stylist got to see what Maurice had done for someone and the woman; well Maurice gave her a better home to live in while here on earth.

A better home for Chris

Chris Brami is my daughter-in-law Kathleen’s father. Well, actually he was her father as he recently passed away. He was diagnosed a few years ago with Alzheimer’s – what my own mother has so I understand it in an up close and personal way. But for a man so young, it was heart wrenching to have happen. He was in the prime of life if you ask me. Chris’s condition rapidly progressed the last few months and just this February while I was visiting he passed away. Kathleen, her mother (Susan) and her sister (Meredith) dealt with some pretty horrific stuff while he spiraled down. Finally towards the end it was apparent to them all that he needed to go home to a better place. I’ll never forget the last days of his life as I was staying with Kathleen and my son. The morning he passed will be etched in my mind forever. I awoke and walked out of my bedroom. As early as it was Kathleen and Ben were dressed and leaving. She had just gotten the call from her mother that he had passed. Kathleen said to me, “We said our goodbyes last night and left him in private. We knew he was ready to go to a better place. We gave him the space to do it and he did it in his own way. He went home to a better place.”

Strive for the best home right here and now

I think everything we experience, every person we meet can teach us valuable lessons. I remember the day the hair stylist told me her story I asked her what she learned from it all. She said, “Well, I learned the importance of donating organs. Maurice’s kidney saved someone’s life and really, donating is a simple thing to do.” And I’ll never forget the peace that came for everyone knowing Chris had gone on to a better home. Maurice’s story and Chris’s family consciously letting him go to a better place have given me much to ponder. Add to that the weeks upon weeks I have been gone from my own home and believe you me, I feel more connected to home than ever before. How about you? Is your home all you want it to be? Can you think of ways to make it better? If so, why not start now to make a change? After all, home should offer us the best sanctuary for our souls that is possible.

To being home…

Chris Brami, July 22,1955 ~ February 7,2013

Chris Brami, July 22,1955 ~ February 7,2013

Truly Alive In My HOME

My recent post, Willingness… To Do What?, was about how I am choosing to be “willing” this year.  Willing to do what?  Well, many things actually.  My list of big things I am “willing” to do include to practice more patience, be more focused and a super biggy – finish my book.  Heck I’m even willing to cuss less when playing Spades on my IPad (my imaginary partner, Megan really makes D.U.M.B. moves over and over!)  Most importantly, I am willing to be me in all the areas of my life, no longer afraid to completely expose myself.

As a young girl I “felt” there was something I was supposed to do.  Perhaps many of you knew as kids or teenagers what your vocation in life would be.  I had no clue, only that there was something.  At the same time while growing up, I was a good Catholic.  I used my Rosary, went to Confession and Communion regularly and devoutly prayed daily.  It must have been weird because I’ll never forget one time I overheard my mother telling my grandmother (my dear Nana) that she was afraid I might become a Nun.  In my child’s mind I deduced that I was too religious.  Well, I’m here to tell you my mother worried for naught – I love physical intimacy way too much to be celibate (sorry kids but it’s the truth)!  Through the years I did stay for want of a better word “religious”.  In college I joined Campus Crusade.  As a married adult I was always active in church.  But for all the years and the various stages of my life my faith participation was in mainstream ways that kept me “safe”.  Even my “then” husband kept me in check.  To this day I can still remember him parking at church with our three kids in the back seat each Sunday.  More often than not after turning off the car engine he would turn and look at me.  He would then gently pat my leg and say, “ Now baby, you know you learn a lot more when you listen so please don’t speak up in Sunday school.”  Not speaking up kept me safe from potential criticism (at home and everywhere else) so I would stifle myself, certain that he was lovingly telling me I was too opinionated, particularly when it came to my faith.  Call it poor self-esteem if you want but I somehow saw my devoutness as a negative and wished I could be looser and more fun.  (Silly me!)

Understand that I’m not looking for sympathy here.  I don’t for a second blame either one of them for making me feel like whom I really was needed some toning down.  I’m the one who chose to take their words and let them affect me in a negative way to the point that I kept my deeply spiritual nature at bay.

Beginning at the age of 40 serious trauma-drama began to creep into my life over and over again.  Each new challenge strengthened my faith only I still kept my spirituality somewhat to myself.  So, I guess I had to get a huge roadside flare to get my attention.  That flare came on December 6, 2006 in the form of a woman from my past suddenly there to expose stuff.  To this day I am grateful for her and the far-reaching tentacles of consequences her talk with me created.  Many things in my life changed at that point and I truly, truly began to open up and express my spiritual side.  I started a Blog.  However, even with my Blog I was gingerly showing my true self trying to be ever so subtle with expressing my views.

All that changed when I received the email from Lori.  Lori’s word for me, “WILLINGNESS” reinforced the voice I had been hearing in my head for several months telling me to put myself out there once and for all.  I call it coming out of the closet because to me, I am choosing to tell the truth about myself much like others do when they have something important to say about themselves that they are afraid to share but can’t hold in any longer.  So here’s what I’m willing to say…

I am a deeply spiritual human being. I believe that my body is a vessel for my Soul.  I believe that this vessel should be as free of negative things like anger, hostility, jealousy and fear as possible to honor my Soul.  I believe that my Soul is more important than my Ego.  I passionately believe in God, the Universe and yes, even Angels.  I believe in goodness and want to be an active participant in spreading it.  Though I view myself as a simple Soul, I am an “Old Soul” with a deep understanding of things.  I believe that I have a purpose in life that is meant to be for the greater good of mankind.  I believe that I am a healer and have the gift of healing with my words.  I also believe I have the ability to heal through creating beauty spatially and when I work in people’s homes as a Decorator I feel the energy and know where it needs to be balanced.  I have no desire to attach myself to any specific denomination or creed, as I believe my purpose is to include rather than exclude.  While I will not hold tight to religious rules and regulations, I spend much of my time in prayer and would put on my Bucket List a chance to go on a pilgrimage journey.  (By the way I have no real clue what I mean by that – just that my heart and Soul yearn for it.)  I believe that our world is a changing and people like me want to show a better way through love and care.  I believe that Peace is attainable.  I believe that Love is attainable.  I believe that Harmony is attainable.  It is all a matter of choice.  Most of all my spirituality is part of every moment of every day and at the end of each day my hope is that it has shown in all my actions and yes, reactions to my life’s journey that day – including what I write on my Blog.

I read something the other day that really spoke to me.  “Many of us are struggling to stay true to what we know is the right way for us to be.”  That’s how I was for over 56 years.  I struggled with who I am because I thought I was weird.  No longer.  The rest of the time I have here on this earth I’ll be truly alive in my Home, my vessel for my Soul.  I’m finally free to be me.  Oh and after all these years I’ve figured out what I’m supposed to do as my vocation in life – encourage and promote Peace, Love and Harmony.

To being alive…

How Music Can Influence Your Space

While taking my daily walk in nature this morning,  the weather changed and what started as a slight mist turned into a gentle rain.  Without realizing it I began singing an old song  in my head by B.J. Thomas, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”.

Once I realized what I was doing not only did I chuckle but, I realized how good I felt even while walking in the rain with no umbrella handy.  This upbeat song was making me feel good!

Music has the power to do this.

The power of music

Music has the power to influence our attitudes and behaviors.  It can make you happy, it can make you sad.  It can give you inspiration and it can keep you stuck.  It can fill you with all kinds of warm fuzzies and it can fill you with anger.  It can affect you and even make shifts in you that you are unaware of.  It’s no coincidence that medical offices, elevators and other places that have the opportunity to heighten stress levels in us use soothing background music.  My own dentist offers you earphones to listen to soothing music while sitting in the dental chair.  Retailers market music for our babies with offerings of CD’s of soothing sounds and lullabies.  All you need do is spend an hour in a baby store and you will see what manufacturers believe every child should hear!

Colors of nature

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

As far back as 1974 in a high school psychology experiment I hypothesized that music had incredible psychological power. I had a great teacher, Mrs. Jackie Wilkerson and she really made  class fun.  During the year she assigned us class projects and I decided to do mine on the influence music has on our eating habits.  My study was based on the hypothesis that if you increase the beat and rhythm of a song, the rate of chewing also increases.  I did my experiment on kids in the school cafeteria.  Now I am the first to admit that the study had to be full of incredible extraneous variables that I didn’t have the wherewithal to include or allow for in my experiment.  Nonetheless, for a high school psychology experiment, the results were conclusive to my hypothesis.  Kids did chew faster during fast tempos and slower during slower tempos.  I call that food for thought!

(By the way, I actually called my old high school teacher the other day to let her know I would be writing this article.  Mind you, I haven’t talked to her since 1974 and wasn’t even sure if she would remember me.  Wow!  Mrs. Wilkerson is now Dr. Wilkerson, a licensed therapist.  What an inspiration to know that her work as a high school psychology teacher led her to go for the gusto and live her passion in such a way!)

In researching data for this post I came upon some interesting findings.  Because I don’t care to have my posts full of statistical data and more about what I have learned  for myself first hand, I choose not to site various and sundry articles that I have gleaned data from. However, feel free to contact me if you want to know where I get some of my information. I will be happy to pass it on to you. With that said, these are some of the interesting tidbits of research findings about music I have read that give pause for consideration:

  • Music can slow down or speed up the heart rate.
  • Music can reduce muscle tension, improve body movement and coordination.
  • Music can regulate stress-related hormones.
  • Music can change our perception of time and space.
  • Music can strengthen our memory.
  • Music can enhance romance and sexuality.
  • Music can aid in digestion.
  • Music can generate a feeling of safety and well-being.
  • Music can enhance an unconscious receptivity to symbolism.

Music speaks what the soul feels (or should)

I absolutely, positively believe in the power of music.  It has certainly affected me through the years and when I look back on specific times in my life I realize that the music I listened to often mirrored what my heart and soul were feeling at the time.  (Or vice versa.)  I suspect it is the same for most people.

Leaves falling in water

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

For example, during the months and months of enduring an extremely painful separation and subsequent divorce I started listening to country music for the first time.  I can remember times when the kids would be at school and I would turn up the volume full blast on soulful ballads and sing my heart and lungs out while I walked through the empty house feeling safe to express my grief.  I never listened to perky music.  Instead I listened to music that was full of angst, sorrow and despair.  I would cocoon myself in songs like this while I grieved the death of a marriage and a family unit.  In hindsight, I believe I should have chosen songs with more positive lyrics instead of ones that kept me glued to my pity pot.

Listening to music with positive messages, an upbeat tempo or simply a soothing instrumental song can change the energy of you and your space.  The only thing is that like the chicken and the egg, I am not sure which comes first.  DO we choose our music based on what our Soul is feeling OR is our Soul affected by the music we choose?  Regardless of the answer to this, we all should consciously choose the music we listen to in order to enhance our true selves!

Allow music to make your heart sing

Leaves among the rocks

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

The fact that I unconsciously began singing, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” today while I was out walking in nature doesn’t surprise me.  Through all the trauma-drama in my life I have emerged on the other side full of bliss.  My choices in music mirror that, even the ones in my head.  Sure I still love Reba McEntire and some of the other great country songs.  I just fill my head with the positive ones like one of my all-time favorites by The Dixie Chicks, “Wide Open Spaces”.  To this day that song reminds me of two women I deeply admire – Lori Saylor Milan and Blair Kernodle Scheepers – both of whom went in search of wide open spaces for their souls.  Or, for a quick smile I listen to Jimmy Buffet’s song, “Cheeseburgers In Paradise” as my son, Jimmy and I used to love to dance in the kitchen around the center island to the song while systematically pulling from the fridge all the ingredients in the song.  More often than not though, I enjoy the sounds of silence as I expressed in my post, Let Nature Restoreth Your Soul (And Your Home) in order to hear life around me!

Choose music that can do all kinds of wonderful things for you.  Choose music to positively impact your energy and the energy of your space.  The music you choose is a choice you make.  It is that simple.  Choose music that speaks what your soul feels.

I read somewhere that music IS the heart of a person.  The heart is formed in the home, which again speaks to my firm belief – everything begins in the home.  Honor your home with the best you can give it.

There is music in all of us – we just need to listen…

Strive to Thrive

As I have expressed time and again through my work as a homespace coach, how you live in your homespace must reflect who you are.  Without your physical space in which you dwell aligning with your most inner space (your soul) you forever are out of sync.  You may not know it but, on a subconscious level things just aren’t cohesive.

When I moved to the Chicago area a little over two years ago I left more than my dear family and friends behind.  I left all my business and professional contacts as well.  I had to start over and get into the groove of finding new doctors, new industry colleagues and yes, a new business coach.

I found Patti Baron Schreiber of The Spirited Path.

Now, some of you might say, “A business coach at this stage of your life and career?”

Yep.

The Spirited Path

As with anyone I choose to work with, Patti fit the criteria of being what I call a “conscious” professional.  By that I mean that she has integrated into her work the most important aspect of life~ the spirit.

Working with Patti proved to be beneficial for me for several reasons.

First, she helped me to get back on course with my career path in my new digs- Chicago.  I don’t care what anyone else says, the mid-west is far different than the south from which I hail.  Patti has helped me venture out so to speak in this new culture.

Second, Patti has helped me to continue my journey of truth of whom I am, what I want to do and how I want to live.  Without the crucial connection of my spiritual self in the equation, I would have been missing the real continuation of my journey.  In other words, while working with Patti I have not had to leave the spiritual side of me on the sidelines.

Bridge over stream

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Third, and most importantly, Patti has the unique gift of helping her clients heal wounds they have in their personal lives.  And, I have certainly had my share.  Patti has helped me along this process of healing in ways I am grateful for.

Finally, in both working with Patti and also getting to know her, I have opened a window of opportunity for my blog.  What a wonderful added and surprise benefit of working with her.  Patti has agreed to be a guest author on my blog and give to you readers some of what I have learned myself!

Unconscious to conscious

As a way for readers to get to know Patti, I recently sat down with her in an interview.  Here’s our Q&A.  I hope you enjoy getting to know her and become interested in her future posts.

How did you become a life coach?

“This field actually chose me.  As a result of my own painful journey over ten years ago, I went from unconscious to conscious in a matter of seconds.  It was as if the universe picked me up from one path (the mainstream business world) and plopped me on another (personal and business coaching with an emphasis on aligning yourself with your spirit).”

What have you learned on this new path?

“Once you get past the place of nakedness you can begin the work of embracing who you are.  In other words, once you begin to embrace pain, you can begin to return to your true spirit.“

How do you help your clients?

“There are many ways I help move clients on their own journey of both personal and career growth.  For example, I help my clients understand and confront the multitude of distractions they find to veer away from their true spirit.  Over half of my clients have forgotten “how to play”.  So, I bring “playfulness” back into their lives so that they can get back to the basics of who they are.  Mostly, I help my clients create what I call their “spiritual toolbox” to use on their own as I believe they don’t need to be perpetual students of my coaching (or any other for that matter) but instead, take ownership of their path.  These tools in their toolbox will give them the ability to maintain a life of joy and peace on their own.“

How does your coaching integrate home?

“What I do is help people become aligned with their spirit.  Home starts in the heart and so in healing the heart, they can understand how to connect and be nurtured in their structural home.  The structural home thereby becomes the sanctuary for their soul if you will.”

What best sums up your vantage point of life?

“I read this quote recently in the Chicago Tribune, ‘When your greatest fear comes to pass and you survive, you discover who you really are’ (Mary Schmich, mschmich@tribune.com).”

What topics will you address on this blog?

“There are several that I plan to write about.  One is about how home is the space in which we can do the personal growth work in order to thrive.  Said another way, a calm place to give you the courage to strive to thrive.  We all deserve to thrive!  Another post will be about how to shift energy in your home in order to create a peaceful sanctuary for your soul.“  

Any final thoughts?

“All of us have the ability to create a life we love.  Go out there and do it!“

Look for Patti’s upcoming posts this fall.  Until then, check out her website (www.thespiritedpath.com) and also her Webinar Series that you can find information for on her site.  There is a lot you can learn from her!

Happy thriving…

Thriving flower

Photo credit: Susan Muehl