Looking inside

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.”

I was procrastinating my run today and Josh got me out the door with that quote. I started strong and motivated. I set my goal at 4 miles.  After huffing and puffing through mile one I felt great & increased my goal to 5 miles; over ambitious to say the least.

The run back got really tough. By mile 4 I started to get achy. I wanted to quit. I started to talk to myself and I finally found myself saying, come on mom help me out. Nothing. Willie Nelson was playing, Always On My Mind. That song always reminds me of my mom. I started thinking about Elizabeth and our talk Sunday night in bed. She shared with me how it sounded weird but she always used to talk to Grammy Corkins, especially when she was scared. She always used to feel her around. But lately she said she couldn’t visualize her or feel her anymore. I felt myself profoundly sad when she told me that. One of my biggest fears has always been my girls forgetting my parents. Both of my parents loved them in ways that I never wanted them to forget. They were lucky and got the best of both of my parents.

But the truth was I couldn’t say a word when Elizabeth told me she didn’t feel my mom anymore. The truth was that I hadn’t felt her either. I hadn’t felt her in a really long time. Until today’s run.

So today, out of desperation I called out to her in my mind & under my breathe. Come on mom. Where are you? Help me. And suddenly I realized she wasn’t “out there” anymore. Elizabeth was right. I suddenly remembered a rare moment I had with her in her kitchen before she died.

I was putting off opening my store at the mall because she was so sick. I kept telling her excuses why I couldn’t so she didn’t feel bad that the real reason was her sickness.

“You have to get that store opened Darcey Ann Marie”, she scolded me in the kitchen as I stood in the doorway to leave.

“Mom. I still have to buy the shelving and it’s really expensive. Don’t worry.” The shelving was my latest excuse.

She went in her room and told me to wait a minute.  When she came back out she had something in her hand. She came over to me to hug me goodbye and she slipped me a 100 dollar bill. I was shocked.

“Mom. What are you doing? I don’t need this.”

“It’s for your shelves. Buy your shelves. Open your store. I will be fine.”

I will never forget the moment. It wasn’t about the money. It wasn’t about opening the store or our disagreements. I instantly started crying and I said what was really in my heart. “Mom. What will I ever do without you? Who will ever care if I open my store? Who will ever love me like you do?”

She took my hand tightly in hers and put it on my chest & said, “I will always be right here.”

Tonight, I will tell  Elizabeth we both need to look inside from now on for Grammy Corkins. The goodness we found in her and her life are deep inside us if we simply choose to dig deep & look.  Thanks for the reminder today, mom.

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For the love of .. me

I have been struggling for weeks trying to come up with a more appropriate name for this blog. I wanted the name to reflect so many things. I wanted it to capture candle making and my business, For the Love of Lizzy Candles. I wanted it to capture my struggles with turning 40 and my new love of running. It needed to capture my renewed love of writing. I thought of lots of catchy names but none of them felt right.

So true to how my brain and creativity seem to work these days, it just came to me on yesterday’s run. It seemed so simple. And as I ran I had the odd sense that it had been there all along. It’s almost as if the act of running somehow gets my mind flowing. The physical movement somehow unlocks my imagination and my creativity. It was really pretty simple. For the love of me. I’m 40 years old and all the things I’m finally doing and discovering are finally for the love of me. I’m learning to love myself at 40. I’m reflecting on my life, my choices and planning my future. My business reflects light in the candles I produce, but also in the freedom it allows me. I can see the light in my children everyday thanks to my business. I can see the light in the gratitude from the folks at the community kitchen.

It’s interesting that the name of my blog came from the name of my business. I started my business for family balance when I had my daughter, Elizabeth.  It was perfect. I could be home more while earning an income and spending time with her. I remember I struggled with a name for the business 11 years ago also. I remember the name came to me out of no where. It was simple and as soon as I thought it, I knew it was right much in the same way this feels right. It feels like it’s finally my time.

I’m so grateful for yesterday’s revelation. I am grateful that it came to me and that I have an outlet for my thoughts and feelings doing so many things I love. It’s amazing how this blog has allowed me to pull all the aspects of myself together in a way that is finally starting to make sense. Sometimes I feel like one big contradiction. Nothing I love seemed to fit together. But through running and writing, getting jobs and quitting jobs, sharing my successes and failures, opening myself up to others, and through accepting things as they are, I have discovered everything fits. For the love of… me. Writing, running and reflecting light. My journey to discover and integrate who I am, what I do and what I love.

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Choosing persistence

I could see the sun shining through the thin smudged glass window and a hint of the vibrant blue sky as I sat rocking and drinking my morning coffee deep in thought. The rocking felt good. It felt comforting except for the annoying thought that the rocking was getting me no where. You should be running in the sunshine, the little voice in my head whispered. I continued to sit, comfortably planted in my chair, wondering why it was so difficult for me to do something I knew would ultimately make me feel better. Sure, a run today would be harder than usual. I have been way too sporadic in my running routine lately. Running and I have had all the components of an intense love affair. There was the initial spark in running. The attraction that catches your eye, that moment you see the really fit chick running, looking svelte and comfortable without a care in the world. And you want that. You want that feeling.  You think to yourself, maybe I can have that. Maybe that could be me. You are instantly attracted.

The next phase approaches fast and furious and you start to see the reality of the work it’s going to take. But your excitement softens reality and you keep the vision in your head and you push forward. Somewhere the excitement turns into a kind of obsession and you are hooked. It’s like a drug. It’s like the steamy romance novel we have all read at one time or another. Running consumes your thoughts like that intoxicating attraction for that one person you just can’t get enough of.

Just like most intense steamy love affairs, the initial excitement eventually subsides. You are left to decide whether to push forward without the heart stopping intensity or just give up. But a quote quickly comes to mind about strength. “A river cuts through rock not by it’s power but its persistence.”

Today as I rock in my chair, I am missing feeling the intensity. Today I have to make the decision and choice to be patient and persistent. I need to choose to push forward and reach a place I’m unsure I can ever really get to. But I have to try. I remember my mom used to say anything worth having is worth waiting for.

So I’m out the door. I get up and head out mindlessly. It’s a beautiful day and I recognize the beauty instantly in spite of a nagging sadness. One of my oldest friends recently lost her mom and I am profoundly sad. She was a great mom and person and the world lost her far too soon. She was the kind of mom everyone wishes they had. I connected with my friend in so many ways having lost both of my own parents. The most intense recognition for me was simply the look on my friend’s face when I last saw her. When she got out of my car I instantly recognized the look in her eyes as she lingered in the passenger door for a split moment. You are just never the same when you lose your mom. As disappointed as I was my friend and I didn’t have more time to talk about all the details,  I realized she really didn’t need to say anything. I already knew. I got it.

So as I was running today I thought about her and her mom. I decided that I would dedicate my run today to her memory. It was a four mile run down memory lane. As I ran I remembered when I met her and her family at 15 years old. I remembered how they were the family I had always wished for. A real family, with a mom and a dad and 3 kids. They ate dinner together. They were exactly what I had always wanted.

As I ran I thought about how grateful I was to have reconnected with her as an adult woman. She was able to meet my family and see my life now. Ironically we were able to talk about my mom and how hard the loss was for me the last time we got together. She encouraged me and really made me feel good about my move to Canandaigua and my accomplishments. I am always grateful for the surrogate moms that have popped in my life and helped me along the way. She was definitely one of those people and I was lucky to have known her.

I’m glad I forced myself out the door today. I’m glad I’m pushing forward even though the spark is less intense and replaced by the need for effort. I’m glad I’m making the decision to continue to run even on days I don’t really want to. I have faith that someday soon I will reach my goal. In the meantime I will choose to be persistent. “A river cuts through rock not by it’s power but its persistence.”

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The Little Old Woman

I’ve had a bad case of spring fever or winter blues, whatever you want to call it, this past week. Spring fever if you are a glass half full kind of person. Seasonal winter depression if you’re a glass half empty person. Either way I basically just haven’t felt like me. I’ve been all wrapped up in myself and paying far too much attention to my worries and fears. I haven’t run in a week, since my last post, which is definitely a clue that something is off.

I woke up today tired which has been pretty common recently. I procrastinated what I should do. It’s February break week and we aren’t going away this year like we had hoped, which really stinks. Josh was at work already. The kids were quiet. I had lots of work I needed to do for my business and big decisions I needed to make regarding it. And yet I laid there feeling paralyzed. I felt overwhelmed. Life felt really complicated. I thought about a recent blurb I had read comparing worrying to the weight of a glass half full of water. How heavy is a glass half full of water? The weight depends on how long you hold it. The glass of water is similar to our worries. If you hold the glass of water for a moment and put it down your arm only hurts a little. If you hold it for an hour your arm will begin to ache. If you hold it all day your arm will feel numb and will begin to feel paralyzed. Paralyzed? Hmm. I knew that feeling. The same is true for worries. You need to let go of them as quickly as you can to avoid the effects of long term stress. Unfortunately the article didn’t say how to do that.

So I got myself up and around and started my day. Olivia had a friend coming over. I had an important business call to make. I had marketing material arriving today and an account to stock. In spite of all that I had to do, I found my mind preoccupied by stuff that really wasn’t important. I dilly dallied as my mom would say and looked at my Facebook. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Facebook lately.

My day went on. After squeezing a trip to Wegman’s in my to-do list, I bought ingredients for chocolate chip cookies to keep my oldest daughter Elizabeth busy. We all got home with 30 minutes to spare before Olivia’s play date, except one thing. No eggs. Time to run to the store again.

I’m in my car and I’m at the corner waiting to turn onto Main St. Main St is crazy busy. Perfect, I thought to myself, hearing the sarcasm in my own head. There is a cross walk at our corner with lights. IN THEORY pedestrians are supposed to push the button and the 4 lane traffic is supposed to stop. Yes all 4 lanes. However after many runs and walks with the girls when we first moved here, it quickly became apparent that even if the first 2 lanes stop, inevitably one or both of the other 2 don’t. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

Today as I’m rushing to the store for eggs I see an older woman with a walker standing at that corner in the freezing cold. Cars are whizzing by ignoring the blinking lights clearly indicating to stop. Ugh. I didn’t have time for this. You don’t have time to help her, look away, I tell myself. I was lost in my own thoughts and worries. Shit. I reflexively put the car in park in spite of the part of me that wanted to just look away. I got out and ran up to her to ask if I could help her cross the street. When she turned to look at me she had this huge smile on her face and I immediately recognized her from my volunteer job at the community kitchen. Gosh I missed that place, I instantly thought to myself.

I was surprised she was walking in the cold. She always came to the kitchen with the old shorter man that drove. But I suddenly remembered he told me he had been having heart trouble the last time I was there. Did something happen to him? The corner wasn’t the place for this. My presence part way onto Main St had already stopped 2 lanes of traffic. I quickly crossed her and hopped back in my car.

When I got to the store I just stopped and sat in the car for a few minutes feeling kind of weepy and not sure why. As I sat there things got really clear. I hoped my short old man friend from the kitchen was okay. Wow. Had it really been months since I had been there? I thought to myself. I suddenly realized how self focused I had been lately. It wasn’t me and I thought, “This is me. This is who I am. This is what’s important. And if a woman in her 80′s walking with a walker to get food in the freezing cold can still have a smile on her face… maybe I can too.”

I really needed that moment today. I’m so grateful an old woman crossing the street could help guide me back to a place I had veered from. The experience reminds me of my friend John from Elmira. John was an older man diagnosed with mental health issues. I used to go weekly to take him out for errands and to lunch. I started out doing it as a favor to his brother but realized in the end John helped me more than I ever helped him. I called it “The John Effect” and I will post a piece about that another day. But just like I realized with John, I always seem to find that I am profoundly humbled whenever I think I am doing a kindness for someone else. It never fails that I get back way more than I give. Thank you to the little old woman crossing the street for reminding who I am and what’s really important.

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Shake it Out

I’m usually way behind when it comes to music but I just discovered Florence and the Machine and this song on SNL! Awesome song!

Florence and the Machine, Shake it Out

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Left turns

My runs seem to parallel my life. It always amazes me how a journey by myself with only my body to move me to a new place always seems to intersect with what’s happening in my life and it almost always gives me a new perspective.

I ran part of an old route and part of new route today. I started with what I knew and then decided to take a new left hand turn.

I was excited at first. I had been really bored running on the treadmill all winter and I was ready for an invigorating new outdoor run. I had high expectations. The road I turned on was really long and slightly uphill. I felt really tired and a little scared that I would end up walking shortly after I turned. I was distracted and overall the road didn’t feel right. I thought that was odd because I was almost sure I had run a portion of it last year. I told myself it was all in my head and to keep going. Halfway down the street, lost in my thoughts, I stumbled and tripped on the sidewalk. It felt like a slow motion clip in a movie. I was lunging forward and my legs were wildly continuing forward trying to balance my body. It lasted seconds but it felt like minutes. In those split seconds I felt wildly out of control. I focused on my legs keeping up with my body. And after a few seconds I caught my balance again. My heart was racing at the near disaster. But after a moment I realized I was ok. I had caught myself and saved myself from what would have been a pretty bad fall. I was running again, albeit slower, but I kept going. Eventually I came to a familiar road and I turned. I had to run up a big hill to get to it. It was hard. Painful to be precise. But I pushed up and before long I was back on a route I knew. I decided to get off the sidewalk and I ran on the side of the road. It was smooth and familiar and it felt good to be back to a place I knew. I decided that maybe I would try the new road another day. I wasn’t sure if it was the wrong road or the wrong day and time for it. The only thing that was clear was that today just wasn’t the right time as much as I wanted it to be.

On my way home I thought about how I had stumbled and tripped in parts of my life the past few months. I ventured down several new roads and as exciting as it was in the beginning, I ended up tripping and nearly falling right on my face. Thankfully I’m heading back on course now, with a new appreciation for my life. Even though tripping and nearly falling can hurt, it can also provide an invaluable lesson along the road of life. It can reveal that you are moving too fast or that you are on the wrong course. It can be the way life stops you dead in your tracks and forces you to change direction. Or it can simply be a way to get your heart racing again! Mid life is such an interesting time. In some ways it almost mirrors puberty except with a keen new awareness of our limited time in the world and a newly visible finish line you now start to see in the distance. You feel the need to make all your moments count, to rediscover who you are, re evaluate where you have been and decide where you want to go in your second half.

Running is the one activity that I do alone. I have to count on myself to make it. Every time I cross a finish line or reach my destination or goal time, I gain more confidence in myself. What’s interesting is that the confidence transfers into my life in so many ways. I feel more confident in my decisions about the girls, my business, my appearance.

I realized today after my stumble that running keeps me humble and reminds me that life, with its left turns, heart racing near falls, and smoother familiar roads are all part of my unique journey. And in the end life is really all about the journey.


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There’s no place like home….

Note to self.. Blogging can be dangerous for those of us that tend to be reallyyyy open and have loose lips for lack of a better word!!! Yes that would be me!!

Once upon a time there was a girl that constantly looked out her window and dreamed of doing great things. The grass was always greener. She turned 40 and she started to really examine her life. Her parents were dead. Her family was almost non existent. She hadn’t finished her degree yet. She moved to a new city and left the comfort of her friends and everything familiar. She dreamed of making a difference. She wanted to do great things. She wanted to help people. She wanted a steady income and the security of knowing she could support herself. So she decided to get a job. And she found one. And she thought she would love it. She was finally going to make a difference!

But during the process she learned some very unexpected and big lessons in a very short time. You can help people and make a difference in lots of ways. One way is through a job. Another way is standing on the sidewalk as your 6 year old blonde haired beauty comes running down the sidewalk from the bus stop and jumps in your arms when you resign from the job that prevented you from standing there the past week.

My girls need me right now and the biggest difference I can make for right now is in their lives loving & supporting them. And that’s ok! I don’t need to defend that or inflate that or make a case for that. I started my business 11 years ago so I could work from home and have more time and flexibility to be with them.  I think after 11 years I finally get the difference my business makes and I am truly grateful! Maybe that realization can finally take me to the next level.

So I’m done looking out the window for now. There’s lots to look at in myself and my family & my volunteering job at the community kitchen that I love and have missed just down the street. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to make a difference. There’s my own unique way. Little acts of kindness in the lives of those I care about and come across each day can make as much of an impact as touching hundreds of lives in small ways. The challenge is recognizing those moments and being present in them.

I keep thinking of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy returns home to Kansas and her reply when she is asked what she has learned…

“I’ve learned that it wasn’t enough to want to see Uncle Harry and Auntie Em… And that if I ever go looking for my hearts desire again, I shouldn’t go looking any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there then I never really lost it to begin with.”

There’s no place like home!!!!

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Tomorrow I start a new chapter in my life. 11 years ago I left my career to work from home and take care of my girls and my dad. For 11 years I have enjoyed working my own business, learning lessons with my girls and watching them grow. The flexibility of the business allowed me precious daily time with my dad after his stroke for 2.5 years before he died. It’s been both challenging and rewarding. While I wouldn’t trade my time with them for anything, the past 11 years I’ve heard a nagging whisper nudging me. I remember it started one night when I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream and the phrase, “be a fisher of men.” I had no clue what that meant. But through the years the whisper to help people, to find my purpose, to make a difference has grown to a volume I don’t want to ignore anymore. I think the time may finally be right. I feel like its finally my time to explore what I am meant to do and be, to challenge myself and to make a difference in the world. The only thing I know for sure is that I want my life to make a difference and I want to help people. I used to think that sounded silly and hokey. And to some it may. But I don’t apologize for it anymore. It’s who I am.

So I’m starting my journey tomorrow morning at my first job in 11 years. I will be working as a telecounselor for a helpline/hotline. I will be talking to people with a variety of needs from, “I need help finding a support group for cancer survivors” to “I’m having thoughts of suicide.” I think back over my life and my own experiences and hope that all the listening and love I was afforded by so many people throughout my life will come full circle in my new job. I hope I will be able to give back by connecting people to resources that will help and empower them and by listening in a way that reflects love and kindness and a sense that everything will be okay. It feels like a good place to start the second half of my life.

In some ways I feel like I did on my first day of kindergarten. I remember that day vividly. I was in Mrs Duffy’s afternoon class. I clutched my mom and I hid behind her terrified. At 40 that same feeling is there, but she is not. So I take a deep breath and I summon a new sense of confidence that at times I fake until I make. And I step forward all on my own now in front of my fear.

I’m excited. And I’m scared. But I think I’m ready. Wish me luck :)

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Holding on and letting go

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and hanging on.” Henry Ellis

How true is that? The challenge then becomes specifically who and what do I hold onto? Who and what do I let go of? Life would be much simpler if we knew exactly what is meant to stay and what is meant to go. It’s true for almost everything; feelings, loved ones, jobs, endings, hopes, and dreams. What is the best way to make these decisions? If only I could just get a glimpse of the secret ending in this story called, “My Life”. What is it supposed to look like when all is said and done? What was I born to do? What should my circle look like? In some ways it seems that if I knew then maybe the letting go and the holding on would be clearer. Unfortunately the older I get the more I realize that the  journey most likely determines the end. The choices I make while at times feeling almost blindfolded as I move through life determine my end. And that scares me. Do I trust my gut, my intuition? Do I trust feelings that I feel intensely with every part of my being? Or do I dig deep for logic and reason and do what makes sense. What do I even want my end to look like? Ellis’ quote describes the art of living as a fine mingling of holding on and letting go. Art is beautiful and it is a process. I suppose the key lies in trusting the process and just living life the best you can. And when all else fails it helps to remember that if we love something and let it go and it comes back, it is ours to hold onto. If it doesn’t, it never was.







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The long run

The lake trail

Today’s run took me a long way from home. It was my furthest outdoor distance at 6 miles and a very long way for this girl who still considers herself some kind of running imposter. I’ve been running now for a little over a year and I still feel like I’m an imposter when it comes to running. I have a really hard time seeing myself as a “real runner.”

Today I ran a new route, mainly because I had a lot on my mind & it was Sunday and my long run. I needed to try to focus on some new thoughts and change my state of mind.

My run took me down Main St passed storefronts, lakeside for a long stretch, past beautiful condos, delicious smelling restaurants, a trailer park, down a highway, and back again. I decided part way through this run was almost like a mirror to my inner life lately. Parts were easy & I was excited getting to the view of the lake. But soon past I started to tire and all I could think of was the delicious aromas coming from the Italian restaurant I had just passed. I wanted to stop and envelope myself in the comfort of a yummy pasta dinner. The smell triggered a memory of my mom and her homemade sauce and suddenly I missed her profoundly. The reality of the distance ahead started to set in.  But I kept going.

I was distracted and questioning my goal distance by the 3 mile mark. I passed a run-down trailer park and in my mind I felt as emotionally run down these days as the trailers I saw there. But I kept going.

I ran through the next half mile where the sidewalk had ended and I was afraid the shoulder wasn’t wide enough. I’m a rule follower, a “stay on the sidewalk kind of girl” I rarely venture into the unknown or the dangerous, until lately. But I pushed past the fear and I kept running.

I suddenly saw the turn-around point in the distance. I was almost halfway done. I felt proud of myself & energized but soon after I started to get a side stitch so I had to slow down. I don’t like slowing down. But if I didn’t slow my pace and adjust for the pain I knew I would end up having to walk. I hate walking more than slowing down so I slowed my pace and kept running. Slowly, I kept pushing forward looking only at the few feet of sidewalk now ahead of me. I couldn’t help thinking of the MLK quote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other even when you aren’t really sure where life is leading you and just keep pushing forward at your own pace.

The best part of today’s run was when I hit mile 4.5. I finally felt like my brain and my body were in sync. My breathing was effortless and I hit that point where you feel invincible and like you could just go forever. It’s almost a kind of high. I haven’t hit it in a really, really long time. But once I hit it, there is not much that is more satisfying. Suddenly my mind is clear and I feel like life is smooth and effortless. It doesn’t matter if I go or stay. Love and life are complicated but in this moment none of that really matters. It will all just work and all I need to do right now is put one foot in front of the other and eventually I’ll arrive at my destination.

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