Just Rip It Off


I’ll never forget the day I left for college. A gaggle of us climbed into a big van and made our way up to PDX so I could board the plane for my big cross-country adventure to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 90 minute drive felt like six hours that day, and boy were there tears. I kept trying to bring it back to the positive; It wasn’t like I would never come back home to Oregon!? There were phones back then or I could send some snail mail. You don’t get rid of me THAT easily!?

images (7)

We finally arrived at the airport and hauled out the two giant suitcases filled with all of my worldy possessions (minus my hope chest and a prom dress or seven), and we made our way inside to the terminal. More tears. At some point, I couldn’t take it any more. I’d made jokes (complete with jazz hands I’m sure;) and reminisced stories of the glory days on Robinson Drive. I was fresh out of distractions for the unavoidable scene that was about to go down. The goodbye. Except I don’t even believe in that word. Growing up with family across the globe in Scotland, I had become used to tearful departures, and quite frankly wasn’t a huge fan. So on this scorching hot August day, I adjusted my big girl undies, turned to my Mom, and told her how this would go down. “Just like a bandaid, you’ve got to just RIP it off.” And that’s how I did it – a huge hug for each person who had made the trek to see me off, and then I walked on that plane. No looking back, no more tears. Except for the fact that I was BAWLING on the inside. Full on, ugly inner crying. I was terrified to be honest. I had NO idea how I was going to pull off this college gig – financially, emotionally, or even academically. But I was going to.


You see, I was all kinds of brave that day, because I had no other choice. I’d made up my mind that I was going to move far away for college so I could have a fresh start, so I could be challenged and grow, so I could step out of my comfort zone and “find myself.” Let me tell you – you find yourself when you’re all you have. You take all the lessons you’ve been given throughout life, and you learn to trust that inner voice. “You’ve got this.” Those were some of the toughest months (years even) of my life – there were times when I wanted to run home, but even that didn’t exist any more. The house that built me had been sold, and the dysfunction junction of Robinson Drive couldn’t even bring false comfort.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s life experience, or just the way that God built me, but the Bandaid approach is how I face most of life. When making a major decision, I tend to gather the information that I need, contemplate my options, then take the leap (just rip it off). I make the decision without even really looking back, and if it doesn’t work out it’s a lesson, not a failure that I dwell on (maybe won’t try THAT again;).  When I set my mind on moving back to Oregon as an adult, it was the same thing – ninja focus, and figure it out. Leaving our friends and adopted family here in Michigan was much the same scene – we said “see you soon” as opposed to the dreaded “goodbye” and we faced the new adventure without having all the answers. Once again, I was terrified on the inside. There were tears that no one saw, but I was determined to chase my dreams (just rip it off).

Back in 1994 (wow THAT was a long time ago), I was brave for my Mom. Today, I rip the Bandaid off for my kids. I try to show them – it’s okay to feel the fear, but you must do it anyway. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel. It just means, I refuse to dwell in the sadness,or the loss of what I’m leaving behind. I’m trusting my inner voice, I’m resting in the peace that what lies ahead is far more amazing than I can even imagine. And that what is meant for me, will never pass me by. So the next time you are at a crossroad, I invite you to ponder your options. Then feel the fear, but do it anyway. Just rip the Bandaid off and trust, that whatever happens next, it will be amazing. You’ve got this. ❤



Day Thirty-One: Next, You Can Kiss Me In Alaska


These were some of my favorite pictures EVER taken with my little man. We were on Spring Break in Las Vegas (Lost Vegas he used to call it;) and his little legs were “all worn out.” So he was negotiating a piggy back ride. “Pllleeeaaassse, Mama.” I can still hear his precious little lisp. My step dad Michael (the kids called him Grumpa) captured these moments, in a series that we shall call “The Negotiator.” I love this series of photos because they captured, forever, some of my fondest memories of vacations with Granny and Grumpa. And Grumpa had SUCH A way of capturing moments like these.


As you can see from the picture above, my little man knew, from a very young age, how to pull out all the stops; how to negotiate the deal. He went in for the sunglasses and was laying it on thick…”wook at me, Mama…FOCUS.” No idea where he got that phrase!? The temps were in the 90’s (at least) and Mama was not feeling like being a pack mule, but the hugs and kisses, and his little arms around my neck were quite persuasive. And you’ll notice from the next picture, there was a handsome, pint-sized winner who emerged from these negotiations.  I always told myself to savor those moments (especially the negotiations;), as one day, he won’t want me to pick him up any more. One day, I won’t be able to. And I’d miss the pack mule days. I sure do.


One day (seems like it was yesterday), I was sure I’d be carrying him into high school with as much of a Klingon as he was. And then THIS morning, on our way into another day of 5th grade (when did THAT happen!?) the little rascal turns to me in the parking lot and says, “I’ll give you your hug out here. Next, you can kiss me in Alaska.” Excuse me!? I grew you in my belly, got stretch marks for you, and got up a jillion times a night to feed and soothe your colicky little soul, and I can kiss you in ALASKA!? The truth is, I would go to Alaska (twice) to have even a small taste of his Klingon days. Those WERE the days. So whatever phase it is that comes next, no matter how challenging it is, I will savor that too. I will tuck these moments in my back pocket. And I will look forward to the next series of negotiations. Even if I have to travel to Alaska to take part. ❤

Photo credit: Jenny Lee Photography

Day Thirty: Lost In the Right Direction


If you know me at all, you know that, of the many gifts I was born with, a sense of direction is NOT included in that package. If you know me, you would never be foolish enough to give me directions in Norths or Souths. Tell me to turn lefty Lucy by the Marriott, but save us both the hassle of any “East side of the street” nonsense. I am all over the Never Eat Shredded Wheat approach to remembering the points of a compass, but for the love of all things holy, please do not ask me to navigate this way!? I’m certainly not bragging about this deficiency, nor am I entirely sure why I have never improved upon this skill (not for a lack of practice;). And the true irony is that I have spent my entire career in some form of territory sales. I drive for a living!? And I can’t find my way out of paper bag. At least not with the help of maps and compasses!


As you can imagine, when I moved to Portland, Oregon a few years ago, and had a territory stretching from the Pearl District to Sauvie Island, and beyond, I was in for quite an adventure.  I grew up in Oregon, of course, but I had rarely ever driven in Portland, let alone had any sense for the bridges and the freeways. Oh mylanta, was that a challenge! I’ll never forget my first few weeks – my step-dad, Michael (lover of all things directional) set me up for success by getting me at least a dozen maps and even highlighted the important roads that I would take. He would have spent hours, if I’d had them, trying to suggest routes depending on time of day and traffic patterns. Something about the freeway, and such and such bridge, and the Willamette, or was it the Columbia River? Wow, was I overwhelmed, at best!?


I remember one day in particular, when I was heading into the heart of downtown Portland, one of my Michigan co-workers called to check in on me. During our short conversation, I crossed the same bridge twice, trying to get over to another bridge and ended up down by the Amtrak station (where zero of my stores were located;). As we were talking I kept saying, “oops, that was the wrong bridge…here we go again…oops, not that street…” I was laughing SO hard at myself. My co-worker was just plain worried about me, but I assured him – “every day I get lost, at least a dozen times. But every day, I get found!” And that became my motto. I didn’t sweat it when I crossed the wrong bridge, or took the wrong freeway (twice;), but I sure enjoyed the beautiful scenery – I was in awe daily that I lived in such a beautiful place, and I didn’t even mind getting “lost”. And before too long, I turned off my Garmin and just trusted my inner compass (if I even HAVE one;).

images (3)

And that’s what I was reminded of in my move (that wasn’t) to Oregon. It feels good to be lost in the right direction, and ironically, when I’m the most “lost”, I feel closest to my true self. I learned SO much about myself in getting lost (literally and figuratively) for those nine months. I’m not at all afraid of questioning the path that I’m on – if a path doesn’t challenge us, change us and grow us, why would we take it!? I’ve never been a huge fan of the easy path, or the popular path – sure there are many people on it, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for me. And when I allow myself to struggle, and get a little lost, I always find that inner voice and compass that leads me back to my true North. So the next time you find yourself a little bit off the beaten path, instead of giving in to the fear and panic, try leaning in to the adventure. You might find yourself and your greater purpose, in the process of being “lost”.

Day Twenty-Nine: Reaching


I recently rediscovered this great song by Caroline Arends (I listened to it almost daily the year I moved 2000 miles from home to go to college in Michigan):

“There’s a time I can recall
Four years old and three feet tall
Trying to touch the stars and the cookie jar
And both were out of reach”

I’ve obviously been recalling the memories of four-year old Tracy – she was definitely a reacher. Always wanting to be, and do more than what others told her was possible. Four year old Tracy would’ve definitely been reaching for cookies (and she had the thunder thighs to prove it;), but she was always reaching for the stars too. I can’t remember exactly what age I was when I first decided that there was a great big world beyond the potholes and bathroom mushrooms of Robinson Drive, but I was determined to take it by storm. I was determined to keep reaching. I always knew there was more. I STILL do.

“We are reaching for the future
We are reaching for the past
And no matter what we have we reach for more
We are desperate to discover
What is just beyond our grasp
But maybe that’s what Heaven is for”

I’ve always been reaching for the future, sometimes to the detriment of the present (that “human condition” again). My reaching for the past has simply been a way of making sense of it all and giving my past a voice. I’m not unpacking and taking up camp in the past. I’m not allowing it to hold me there and keep me small. I’m simply acknowledging the losses and the scars. I’ve been reaching for healing, so to speak. And healing brings a sense of peace within our grasp, so I’m a big fan of making peace with whatever holds you back. Not dealing with the past doesn’t change it, or make it go away.

Most recently, I’ve been reaching for feeling/being healthy. I’ve been missing in action for the last few days because the cough that took me to Urgent Care last weekend, got the better of me this week. It’s been absolutely brutal. I’ve settled in to write every night, and I’ve literally fallen asleep on my laptop. I have at least a dozen drafts floating around in the fog of my chest cold coma. Today, I barely made it out of bed (the sicker than a dog struggle bus;). So I’m reaching for feeling “normal” again (whatever that is;). In the meantime, I’m thinking of what (besides coughing) gets in the way of my current reaching. And how about you – what would you be reaching for if the fear of failing wasn’t getting in the way?


Day Twenty-Eight: The Human Condition

Photo Credit:http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnnnext/dam/assets

So, I finally did it. I took my nagging cough to urgent care last weekend, in search of relief. Went through all the normal hoops – signed in at the desk, held my breath and didn’t touch anything in the waiting room or triage (to avoid the “go in for one symptom, leave with another” syndrome). Stepped on the scale (they don’t even charge you extra for the motivation;), did the blood pressure thing…whole nine yards.  By the time I got to the exam room, I had demonstrated my impressive bark at least a dozen times, and was all kinds of worn out. I hopped up on the table and sorted through some work email while I patiently waited for the doctor.

And finally, in he walked. QUITE the character. He was like a caricature, right down to his coke bottle glasses and his over-exaggerated gestures. We were fast friends. Hard not to bond when chatting about a productive cough and phlegm. He clasped his hands together, closed his eyes and smiled while we talked about how long I had been fighting the crud and how I was sure it was going to get better. Until it didn’t. And now I may not even make it through the afternoon. 😉


“It’s the human condition,” he offered, his smile even wider. He might be my soul mate. My geriatric, physician-type soul mate. I instantly adored him. The human condition. What IS it about the human condition that leads us to suffer for WEEKS with some nagging symptom, only to seek help when it’s gotten WAY worse than it should be, all because we couldn’t get out of our own way? What is it about the human condition, that makes us feel more alone in a room full of hundreds of people than in a room by ourselves? What is it about the human condition, that leads us to take for granted those who love us most, to seek the approval of one or two who have absolutely no regard for us?

My new soul mate definitely solved my cough. I may even pull through this one. But there is no magic pill for the human condition. We rise and we fall, and oh how we struggle. But there is joy in the journey and let us not forget, THAT is where life happens. 


Day Twenty-Seven: What Do You See?

Photo credit:http://godanautobiography.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/reflection.jpg

When I was in high school, I started going to counseling in an attempt to manage the alcoholic parent piece of Robinson Drive. I’d grown up on my mom’s self-help books and had attended several al-anon and al-ateen meetings. I knew the language of counseling long before I got my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I’m no stranger to the techniques and tactics. But one technique that was used, left a lasting impression that I think about often. My counselor at the time, walked me into the cold bathroom of the building we would meet in, and forced my face into the mirror. He held my face there, for what felt like an eternity and kept asking me, “what do you see?” I remember looking at the freckle faced girl in the mirror and all I could do was cry. And he kept repeating, “what do you see?”

To be honest, I don’t even remember if I ever managed an audible response, besides sobbing. I can almost feel his cold hands on the nape of my neck still today. But what DID I see? I saw a girl who was SO incredibly scared on the inside, but played so brave on the outside. “Chin up, smile bright, and no one will know”, I reminded her. What I saw, was a girl who felt ugly, and ashamed and small. I saw the girl who was told, “if obesity was a crime, you would be put away for life.” I saw the girl who so desperately wanted her dad’s approval, to hear just once, that she was pretty, that she was worthwhile.

Over time, I learned to challenge my perception of that girl in the mirror. I learned to tell her all the things she needed to hear. “You are worthwhile, you are enough…” I learned to care less about what other people thought of me, and to care more about being thoughtful of others. I adopted this saying by Mother Teresa:


I would be kind anyway, even when it was not reciprocated. I would do good anyway, even when it wasn’t popular. My worth would not be based on the perception of others. I would give my best anyway. Not all days have been sunny, but I’ve been able to look at the girl in the mirror and like who I see. Not based on the world’s standards of beauty, but based on the difference I set out to make in this world. To encourage others, to love them anyway.

And so I wonder – when you look in the mirror, what do YOU see? Have you bought into the world’s lies that you are not enough? What voices do you listen to when you look in the mirror? And how different would the reflection be if you decided to see your beauty and your worth?