Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Give it to YOUrself first . . .

One thing I've noticed in my own experience and in the lives of others, is that many us tend to try to get our needs met from the outside in. For me, this has proven to be a painful pattern. What that has meant for me in the past is that I've depended on the attention and actions of others to fill the spaces inside of me. What I learned to do was to either camouflage myself or turn into a chameleon--so I became what I thought others would approve of, like, or accept; this was how I maintained the illusion that I could control others, and this is how I lost sight of myself over and over in relationships. I gave up core parts of myself until there was seemingly nothing left of the real me--in me

As I write that, it sounds altogether miserable, and it truly is.  

Thing is, I didn't know any better until my recent past--I just didn't get that the only way I can fill myself up is with a loving relationship with myself and with my God

It's funny and strange to "awaken" in my mid-forties only to realize that one of my highest callings in this lifetime is to just be myself, to love myself, and to just be. This has called for some revolutionary changes on my part, and putting myself first has been the most transformational but also the most difficult, especially since I have put others before me for much of my life. This kind of giving, although I didn't know it at the time, was actually motivated by my need for others to need me, like me, approve of me, and depend on me---AND it's not healthy for anyone. But I didn't know . . .

It truly was not in my developmental capacity--until recently. But now I do know, and it's such a relief; the pressure's finally off, with no apologies (although I have had some guilt from time to time about putting myself first).

One of my mentor's once told me that I am the one who can meet my needs with amazing self-care, and I have found that to be so true. That doesn't mean I don't need other people, or that I can live independently, free from relationships. On the contrary! It actually means that my relationship with myself comes first, and then I can freely give to others from my heart with no expectations and with strings attached. One result is that my connections with others have deepened as a result of connecting with my own spirit.

How do connecting with yourself and Spirit deepen your relationships? Share your experience in the blog comments!

Lots of Love!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

wOrdS to LivE by . . .

Go(o)d dAy, aMaZiNg yOU!
Have you thought a little bit about your mantras? You may have even written them down! When I was teaching 8th grade last year, we were talking about cool sayings that have been passed down in our families. SO many of my students told awesome and amazing stories about where they had first heard their special words to live by.

First, I showed them this amazing 
SoulPancake (OprahWinfreyNetwork)
video called Big Think:
Check it out!

Then, I had each of my kids write down a mantra or special saying that speaks to their heart
or that they try to live by.
Here's what it ended up looking like by the end of the day!
Here's a couple of close ups . . . 
By the end of the day, look at what we had--over 200 !! 

Even teachers came to add their special sayings to our board!

Some words to live by from my fAbuliscious 8th grade kiddos!
  • Chocolate makes you happy!
  • Everyone smiles in the same language.
  • Be the person you want to be.
  • Freedom is not free.
  • Let your wings soar to the sky!
  • Be yourself; don’t change for anyone. 
  • Live life strong, or when you are old you will regret it.
  • Breathe!
  • Choose the life you want to live.
  • The only responsibility you have is to be the fullest expression of yourself.
  • Immature love is I love you cause I need you; mature love is I love you cause I love you.
  • Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, be a trail. If you can't be the sun, be a star. For it is not by size you win or fail; be the best at whatever you are.
  • Yesterday was the past, tomorrow is the future, today is a gift--that’s why they call it the present.
  • Keep calm and carry on.
  • There are 7 billion people in the world why are you letting one ruin your life?
  • Working hard is smart in the end.
  • Pick flowers instead of fights!
Do you have a favorite inspiring phrase? Would love to hear it below in our comments!

So mUcH LoVe!
;) dana

Monday, May 25, 2015

On Memorial Day: My Brother's Eulogy

Christopher James Allan Curry

I’m Dana, and this is my sister, Shelley. Thank you all for being here. Thanks to team Curry, especially to Chris's best friend, Mark McCleary, and to John Mulkern.
I am privileged to give voice and honor to the memory of my brother and my best friend, Christopher James Allan Curry.

To know Chris was to know a truly radiant man of great love and enormous heart. There was absolutely no one like him. He was incredibly intelligent and a brilliant attorney, but at the same time Chris was extremely humble. He was adventurous and outgoing; Chris loved his family, and Chris loved people. To be with Chris was to be in the company of a man who was extremely present. For those of us who had the honor of knowing him, he always gave us our full and undivided attention. Just like his father, Sheldon, Chris treated every person in his life as family, and as a holy encounter.
Chris was the kindest and most generous person I knew, and would have given the shirt off his back to a stranger---especially at the State Fair. You may have seen him there; he was THAT GUY who walked around the State Fair WITHOUT A SHIRT, sporting a fanny pack, eating corn on a stick--that was my brother--he was THAT GUY with the crack attack. He didn’t care; he was just being fully himself.

Chris loved nature, and was a Boy Scout at heart. If could have earned a decent living being a camp counselor, he would have done it in a heartbeat. He worked at Tomahawk Scout Reservation for years as the beach director--a perfect place for him as you well know, because Chris loved to be tan. I can picture Chris laying out in the sun with his arms stretched above his head so he could tan his trimmed armpits; as a forerunner of fashion and style, Chris cut his armpit hair far before man-scaping came to the United States of America. And he had salon quality hair.

While brilliant and highly credentialed, Chris was humble and was a kid at heart. I remember after he graduated from William Mitchell, his dad's alma mater, he went to work in a fancy law firm downtown where there was an unspoken dress code for wearing Cole Haan shoes; he got in trouble for humming and whistling in the hallways because it was unprofessional—he didn’t stay there long, he needed to sing his song. Working at Gage offered him a place where he could shine his light, be himself, . . . and he could wear jeans and size medium shirts.

When Chris got married and began a family, his wife and children became the center of his life. Above all, Chris was a family man. Cate—Chris loved you with his whole heart; Aidan, Rowan, and Bronach—you all were the apple in your daddy's eye. Chris loved decorating for holidays, having parties, and surrounding himself with the people he loved. And everyone was welcome. His door was wide open to anyone who had no place to go, and to Chris, everyone was family. In his memory, I ask that in the face of this tragedy, to please open your hearts and your doors to Chris's beloved family, and help Cate raise their three beautiful girls. Pull them in, love them, and support them, just as Chris had done for others, and would have done for each and every one of us. I know Chris is here, and can feel the love from all of us in his newly-mended heart—the heart that so tragically failed him last Sunday.

When our father passed away, he gave my mother the gift of waiting to take his last breaths just minutes into their 26th wedding anniversary, Chris left this life on Mother’s Day for a reason. The sun was shining, and when I spoke to him early, he mentioned what a beautiful day it was. That morning, Chris went to church, sang in the choir, and later picked up the girls, and brought them to my son, Max’s, school play. At one point, he looked over to me and smiled, saying, “Well, I guess God’s in the driver’s seat, Dana. It’s not me anymore.”  

It was Mother's Day for a reason, and we were blessed to be together on the last day of Chris's life. Those of us who have children know that THEY are our best teachers, and during the play intermission, my mom reminded my brother what a blessing he was, and Chris told HER he just couldn't do it without her. She also gave Chris a copy of this poem she had written two years earlier.

If I were to choose a son,
I would choose you
for your kind heart,
for your integrity,
for your thoughtfulness,
for your sunny disposition,
for your loyalty,
for your honesty,
for your tenaciousness,
for your sense of fun,
for your strength of mind,
for your stability,
for your sound values,
for your self-discipline,
for your capacity to love.
God loves you, and and so do I.
You have enriched my life immeasurably.

~~Written on Mother’s Day, 2012

That afternoon, he went running, and his friend, Matt, told me that Chris shared that he was finally ready to start a new life, and let go of the past. While Chris was on his run, I sat in his backyard watching the girls jump on the trampoline, talking to the babysitter. My daughter, Chloe, and I stayed for longer than planned, and when we finally left, we took a different route home for the first time, and decided to drive around Lake Harriet. When we reached South Beach, we saw paramedics, and we both looked at each other and said, “It’s Uncle Chris.” I pulled over in the one parking space that was waiting for us, and Chloe ran out and crossed the street to see who was in trouble. She came back and found me and said, “Mom, it’s not him,” and I looked up to see Chris’ running buddy, Matt, and asked, “Is it Chris?” and he nodded yes. Chloe hadn't recognized him. Chris suffered a heart attack and was never revived, even though they attempted for over an hour. His big, beautiful heart was done. I believe Chloe and I were led to Chris by a higher power, and we are so grateful to have witnessed his last minutes. As the paramedics left the beach and we drove to the ER, it began to softly rain. You can’t make this stuff up.

I want you to know that I connected with and spoke with Chris for over an hour. He didn't want to die. I read him his eulogy; of course, he kept interrupting me with words like,

"Stop it, already!"
"Don't say that!" and,
"I'm hot! I looked good!"
When we came in, his words were,
"What the f#@ happened?"
He said he had a headache, but that wasn't a big deal . . . and he was pissed.
"You mean I'm  $#@ING dead?"
"What? Is this real?'
"Tell everyone I love them."
"Tell my kids that Daddy will be home always."
"I am who I am because all of you."
"I am here."
"It was as it should be." 
"It sucks. Do what you gotta do."

In the end, my brother’s life was a luminous, ongoing prayer of hope for the future, and for peace. And while it was sometimes wrought with challenges, with pain, and with fear--Chris was also committed to joy and laughter, and kept his head held high, and continued to run into life with his arms wide open, and his heart full of love. Chris was sustained on a momentary basis by his renewed faith in God. And while we are not always IN on God’s plan for us, I know in MY heart that God had a plan for my brother, Chris. In the last months of his life when he was struggling, he was able to dig deep and live in his gratitude for all his blessings. We can’t just be grateful to God when things go our way, that in the daily struggles and in the pain there is love and there is learning—we humans may not see it because we JUST can’t get big enough. I reassured him that every experience is perfectly designed for us here on Earth so that we are presented with the lessons suited just for us. Sometimes, I just needed to remind Chris to breathe.

When I picked up my kids after leaving the ER, my daughter Chloe, smiled, pulled me close to her and whispered in my ear, “Mom, sometimes things just don’t work out here on Earth. He’s in a better place”—and she pointed to the heavens. Christopher James Allan Curry was a beloved son, devoted husband, a dedicated father, an amazing brother, a loyal friend, and a model of how to live a life of integrity with a dash of whimsy and irreverence—. Throughout his journey, and as a result of surrounding himself with people who loved him most, and through his close faith community here at Mount Olivet, Chris came to a place of great faith in his life. We can rest in knowing that he is now up in heaven sitting by a campfire, eating cosmic rosettes, rocking a Speedo, looking down at his beautiful family and his beloved friends. He is safely nestled, at peace, in the hand of God.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Let Go (d)

Shedding that which is not me.
Dear FunFreePeeps;

A couple of weeks ago, I read that recovery and healing is not just about me adopting new ways of thinking, feeling, behaving, and coping in the world--it's equally about "shedding all that which is not me."

This may sound pretty obvious to some, but I believe this statement to be extremely profound. In a society where many of us have tried to fit in, we have cloaked our true nature, our real selves. 

We have behaved in ways that have not been real versions of ourselves--we either puff up and become MORE THAN,  or we have acted in ways that keep us SMALL for a variety of reasons. I would argue that most of these reasons are rooted in fear:
  • to get approval
  • to feel significant
  • to look smart
  • to keep the peace
  • to impress or please others
  • to not outshine and intimidate those around us
  • to prevent abandonment
How does this pattern work for you?


Saturday, May 23, 2015

heLLo . . . & gO(o)d . . . bYe . . .

Whether obvious or not, and usually it's not,
everyone in your life is there to help you,
AND, they're actually doing so right now.

We call this the
Everyone In Your Life Is There To Help You Rule.


The Universe

Which, incidentally, doesn't mean you have to keep them there.
In fact, their offering may simply be to teach you to say "adios."


Looking back at my life, I can see how every person I've met and each relationship in my life has taught me very much--and, if I trust the Universe, I know these relationships were sent to me intentionally for my benefit. For me, this means feeling gratitude for the amazing people I know and (and this is harder for me to wrap my brain around) for the difficult people and relationships in my life, too.

Just like my message from the Universe says--sometimes, people are sent to us in relationship to help us learn what we don't want, what we will no longer tolerate, or what no longer serves our highest good. In other words, sometimes characters arrive for us so we can learn boundaries, . . . and eventually how to detach with love and say Go(o)dbye, or adios

Sometimes it doesn't take too long to say hello & goodbye . . . and sometimes, we may hang on trying to make things work for years, while on the inside we are already saying goodbye 'cuz we're so lonely . . . we grieve alone quietly while we are still physically in the relationship . . . in which case our goodbyes can take years, even decades.

But that's okay, too. We say goodbye when we are ready. It's all perfect timing.

Thankfully, we can turn away from those relationships that no longer fit, and continue on our journey with gratitude, knowing that even the tough ones have been our best teachers. 

Saying goodbye takes courage, and faith, and and a deep inner knowing that all is well and will continue to be well. When we say goodbye, we open up an amazing space of possibilities for all the great stuff to arrive! We can continue to do our best and stay in our integrity--with the help of our faithful friends, and the Universe behind us.

Lots of Love ;)