I went to a conference with my boss. The conference is called The Breakthrough Coach. Their byline is: Two days. One life-changing program. A conference entitled “Breakthrough” with a byline like this was something to which I could look forward. I also think I secretly challenged them to their claim.

Within the first five minutes I was engaged. I listened intently to the presenter. In part because he has some type of stutter condition which requires intent listening. I nodded with glee as he engaged us with content that filled my soul. He addressed the most fundamental characteristics and behaviors we expect from each other. Yet as a general rule, our society has a difficult time executing. He brought us back to humanism that slips away as we throw emails, texts, and Post It notes in every direction in every hour without consideration for the recipient of our requests.

For example, communication begins with a request that is clear and includes specifics. The request receives a response, and ends in an agreement between two parties. This will result in completed tasks.

Lemons winked at me when I walked by.

Home is for comfort; work is for productivity. Therefore, the workplace isn’t a place we should design like our home. Our home should be comfortable; our workplace should be sterile, where we can focus with few distractions. This will result in productivity as well as peace.

In my role as a secretary, I am in a position to manage my boss’s time as well as her tasks. The title of secretary has been diluted and dismissed over the years, being replaced with the terms, Administrative Assistant or Executive Assistant. Our Breakthrough coach reminded us that the word secretary comes from the Latin word, secretum, meaning “secret.” The role was to be “set apart” to handle specific tasks that were secret in nature. In our US government, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor, etc are aptly named. Therefore, trust between the manager (my boss) and the secretary is essential and pivotal in making breakthroughs that will produce change and in reaching goals.

I work at a school. We want our students to be life long learners. My principal’s objective from a district standpoint is to improve student achievement. I walk in step with that goal. The paperwork and requirements can get in the way of our objectives. It’s my job to relieve her of those obstacles, and the skills we learned will help us do just that. We ate dinner at an airport restaurant on our way home and recapped our experience. We cheered each other, filled with anticipation as we execute our breakthrough plan.

So much of the Breakthrough model can be applied to our personal lives. In particular, freeing oneself from our attachments to the past. This one thing keeps us chained to the past instead of moving into the future. “Attachments to the past…” Not just holding on to the past, but the attachments to it. My garage is filled with them. I have discarded an incredible amount of things since we had to move from our home 9 years ago. The Goodwill staff wasn’t prepared for the amount of things we brought them, over and over and over for days in a row.

Yet still, with a two-car garage I park my car outside. Insurance questionnaires ask where ones car is parked. They remind me that I’m a hoarder, slothful, fearful, or holding on to the past. Any one of those isn’t what I want for myself and every time I park, a nagging silent voice reminds me that I’m not being my best self. Serving trays, entertainment equipment, decorating décor I once used regularly are stacked on top of each other. One issue is that I need better infrastructure in the garage. One issue is that I’m fearful of discarding something I may need or want in the future. One issue is that I’m holding on to things “in case” I can use it, like I once did. All of these are legitimate, but does this allow me to move into my future?

There’s a favorite verse that I rehearse frequently for inspiration (Isaiah 43:18, 19):

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

I participate in a group called THRIVE at my church.  THRIVE is for, as they put it, “moms flying solo.” I love the richness of the group. There are single moms at all different stages in their single journey. This year the leaders proclaimed it would be a year for breakthroughs. Like the conference I attended and in our THRIVE ministry, a breakthrough is taking action. A breakthrough or change doesn’t happen without a choice upon which one acts.

I experience life changing experiences all the time. I’m always changing and always starting again. I continually fall and continually get back up. The Breakthrough Coach program reminded me that this is okay and they lived up to their claim: Two days. One life-changing program.

The lemon trees, pretty, bright, and complex winked at me in Phoenix.

There aren’t many opportunities for me to write about eating disorders these days. The day-to-day pre-occupation that clouded my days are gone. There was a time that I didn’t even fantasize about a time like this. I hoped and worked toward Bridgette’s full recovery, but I discovered early on that there were no quick fixes. Most days we plodded along in a trance, obedient to the treatment plan, Bridgette as the patient, me as the mom who helped keep her accountable. Some days we plowed through the junk that suffocated us, grasping for fresh air.

Her healthy body giving life to someone else.

While the memories are solidly imprinted in my mind, I don’t linger there. But still, I don’t take anything for granted. The most ordinary developmental behaviors and experiences of a teenage or college age child were elusive for a long time. This year I am celebrating Bridgette’s senior year of college and her experiences. And today, we had a first. Bridgette was able to give blood.

Bridgette has been interested in giving blood since her early years in high school. But since her eating disorder started at 15 and lasted until this last year (with intermissions), her weight never qualified her. In high school she managed the school wide blood drive twice and thrived at managing the event. She was invigorated at the concept of the Red Cross and what they accomplished for so many people.

Today she saw a blood drive being promoted on a street corner, and then saw a couple of friends who were working at it fulfilling volunteer hours. As she made pleasant conversation with them she settled into the old mentality of which she’d become accustom. She didn’t consider she could donate. But suddenly the light bulb went off and she realized that, yes, she could donate blood! Her schedule has been stretched as of late with school and work.

But for this she adjusted her schedule for the 1 1/2 hour appointment and did what she hadn’t yet ever done. She gave blood, and saved 3 lives, as she pointed out.

I would never wish that another parent walk the road of an eating disorder. But it’s true that when something is elusive we appreciate it more. Oh what a bloody good day. Sorry to use my weird sense of humor on this!

OK, I am celebrating Valentine’s Day a little. Winky makes a cute picture so I’ll go with it.


Roses are red, and for people with dates

Or for married couples or people with mates

So no entertaining romantic notions

Instead I celebrate Oregon’s mountains and oceans

Happy Birthday, Oregon! I’m celebrating you

So glad where I live, no feeling blue

You’ve given me lots in our beautiful state

I’m not even sad because of no mate

On this day I will think of all that I’ve done

In the great state of Oregon even though I am one

And laugh as I consider the lengths that I’ll go

To distract me from V Day and that I am solo!

Roses are red, chocolate tastes great

But today it’s Oregon that I celebrate!

I’m officially beginning my blog with the help of Rick Cano at Design Works. For a few years I’ve been endeavoring to host a blog site and playing around with it in some form. I think the timing is great that I’m able to make this official start at the beginning 2018 (even if it is at the end of January). I’m doing it! And now to share with you as my first post, an “I did it!”

I made no new clothes purchases for one year. As some of you gasp, I can say that I too am pleased with myself. Although I will tell you, that as impossible as that mission sounds, it was very possible to execute. In fact, possibly one of the easiest things I’ve been able to do in the form of self-discipline. Certainly easier for me than resisting the cranberry bliss bars that I made over the holidays.

As I was nearing the year-end finish line I shared the big news with a couple of friends. One said, “What’s your take away?” I hadn’t thought about it, but I was glad she’d asked. It gave me an opportunity to consider the outcome of my project and the feelings I’d had along the way. In a nutshell, this is my takeaway:

I’m glad I did it, I learned a lot, and I recommend it. This wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. In fact, it didn’t enter my mind to do this until a friend at work mentioned that she was going to do it. I had never heard of such a thing, but was instantly impressed with the idea. Several thoughts whirled at once in my mind, but the first thing I considered was not how much money I would save (although that is a benefit) but how much time I would save.

I love fashion, but I don’t like to shop. So you wouldn’t consider that time would be an issue. But even not being a shopper, I would find myself frustrated at the amount of time I’d spent scouring Goodwill for the right piece of clothing for the right price. Right away you think I’m cheap. That’s not the case. I am cautious with how I spend my money, and I love fashion, so Goodwill has been a great resource in finding quality clothes (as well as not so quality) at good prices.

My mission of not buying clothes included not buying used clothes, at Goodwill or otherwise. I had two exceptions: functionality (I purchased 2 raincoats, three pairs of underwear, and one bra) and accessories. The raincoats were bad timing; I didn’t get the right coat the first time so had to get a second. Not a story worth repeating. Undergarments tend to get ignored in my effort to reduce expenses (kind of like the bedroom is the last to decorate). I love accessories but didn’t purchase a one. I have had a hard time justifying the expense since being single. I thought this would be the time that I would indulge a little in that area. But as the weeks and months passed and I discovered my ability to do without anything new, I began a streak I didn’t want to break.

About a month into my project, my daughter and I stumbled on to a documentary called The True Cost. https://truecostmovie.com/. I didn’t anticipate the depth of what we were going to watch. I have never watched any of the documentaries about beef or chicken that we hear about. I love meat and I can’t bear to face something that is most likely real. But, like not shopping for clothes for a year was easier than not eating my cranberry bliss bars, I watched The True Cost but still won’t watch a movie about meat!

I have always been a bargain shopper. I’ve been the person who bragged about the cost of an item before thanking a person giving me a compliment on my outfit. I loved sharing a deal with someone and wanted my friends to have the same deal available to them. But The True Cost changed that, and I have no regrets. Maybe it’s my age, but I am weary (sometimes downright disturbed) with the consumerism and greed I see so much of in our world.

This past summer I listened to a book (I love to do that while doing tasks at home) called The Life-Changing Magic of Tyding Up by Marie Kondo. The concept has many great points, but the one I couldn’t get past was looking at a piece of clothing and assessing whether I loved it or not. Most of my clothes would be tossed in the garbage if asked myself that question. I guess that’s her objective. But it’s when that little striped top that sits alone is combined with a pair of khaki capris that I can honestly say that I like it, a lot. I have few clothes if any that I love. Marie Kondo would toss my entire closet. But for this last year, all those lonesome sorry looking pieces were combined with others and saved me precious time not shopping for more.

I wouldn’t say I saved money, because not buying clothes freed me to spend it on things in my home about which I have stressed. For example, I bought new windows. Windows are a huge expense and I was able to source a person who gave me a big discount. The expense was still huge, but at least I found solace because I had eliminated any guilt from money I’d spent on clothing that I didn’t need.

And finally, I felt good that I didn’t contribute to an industry that abuses its workers in third world countries while their profits soar in the face of factory disasters and horrific working conditions.

A friend asked me if I was going to run out and buy something new as soon as January 1st arrived. The answer was no. I’ve established a new behavior. I don’t think I’ll have hard and fast rules, but I want to be more conscientious about my buying decisions. I will look to find clothes from retailers that are manufacturing more humanely. I’ve learned those retailers exist and there’s an effort by people like Livia Firth to encourage better practices. I do love fashion. I’m mesmerized by the models as they float down a runway wearing the beautiful works of art conjured up and created by the designers. I love Nordstrom. As much as I love fashion, I’ve purchased few items in my life at will like I would like. It’s my own hang up about spending money. But knowing the true cost might be the opportunity to spend a little more on a little less and I welcome that new perspective.

Welcome to my first blog post, and thank you!