It began in late March. My father walked into the hospital for what was promised to be a simple procedure, which later took his life. It was 4.5 months of watching him waste away, unable to recover as his 80 year old body fought for life. It was late into the night of August 13, around 11pm, that my sister called. "We are headed to the ER. Don't come. I'll let you know." At 2am the next call came. "Come now." The news was grim. 48 hours. Maybe a little more. Maybe a little less. Then, we took him home, my 2 sisters and I. For the next two and half days, the three of us, and my eldest niece, cared for him around the clock. We were joined by hospice, which was a tremendous help.
Death is so interesting and horrible and beautiful and I wish that each person would have, if they desire, the ability to pass away at home, surrounded by the things and the people they love and who love them. Both of my parents had this experience. We, those they left behind, were blessed by being able to support their transition in this way.
Honestly, there are moments when that time, those moments etched in my mind, are unreal. A bad dream. How could he be gone? So fast. Too soon. Is 80 years too soon? A Leo who lived a BIG LIFE. I mean BIG. The stories, his accomplishments. I could write a book about this man. He was the stuff of legends. Honestly, I have always thought that and then my mother-in-law, hearing some of the stories said it as well.
There is a part of me that thinks, "does everyone feel like this, take death so hard?" Actually, I am doing better with my father's death than I did with my mom's. As I have wept in the quiet, still moments of my day the last two weeks (which I can tell you has not been enough), I have considered this grief and how each of my parent's deaths was different. My mother lived a very blessed (after meeting my father and beginning her family) yet very horrible life. Her childhood was filled with abuse of various kinds, followed by men who mistreated her (not my father, the ones that came before), alcoholism and who knows what else that I have not been privy to. When she passed I grieved for her life, the pain, who she was and who she could have been had she been able to move beyond her suffering. I grieved the relationship that we never truly had, though I believe we both longed for.
With my father, this grief is different. It is a hole. A man who championed his children, always stood behind us, taught us everything. A hero to the grandchildren and friend to all he met. The son of a sharecropper, with an 8th grade education, he went on to run the entire manufacturing arm of the 3rd largest die-casting company in the United States. He traveled and met CEO's in the US and Europe working out contracts and specs on car parts and more. No small feat in a global economy for man who quit school to work in the fields so that there was food on the table! And avid reader, armchair political commentator, gardener and amateur engineer, there was nothing he could not do.
Growing up, we had our share of problems. Alcoholism with my mom, issues with my siblings, we had it all. We also had big Sunday dinners where friends and family would gather to swim in our pool, great family vacations, family businesses that brought us together in the best and worst ways possible. We are a close family and there are times that I marvel in our relationships and ability to get along and give thanks for the emphasis put on family that we had.
At this point I know I am beginning to become close to rambling, please forgive me. My husband's grandparents, in their late 80's, blessed us with joining us for the funeral and then lunch at my parent's home. Mammaw hugged me and told me that it will get better but that I will always hurt. This from a woman who loved her daddy more than life and lost him probably 25 or 30 years ago. It will get easier, but it will always hurt. There will be a day when I don't cry in the stillness of the day, when that hole will not burn through my chest. I know there will be a day when I will have stillness then remember and recognize that it has gotten easier.
This grief is layered with not just my loss or the loss of a grandparent for my children or the loss of a brother for those siblings my dad left behind. There is another grief that I am sure sits in my heart around my daughter. I cannot talk about it now as it deserves it's own place, but I will write about it later.
I'll leave you with my fave pic of my dad in the last few years. He is with Noah at his 8th grade graduation in 2016. I am so glad my children had the chance to know him.
Thank you everyone who has been understanding during this time.
"After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure." - Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
3 weeks ago I turned 45. I was dreading this birthday. It seemed heavy to me, like a turning point on a wheel that is rapidly spinning and a reminder that I still have so much to do and need to make every moment count. When my friend Angela called and asked me to host a Pampered Chef party (yes, I do occasionally buy things), I said yes and let's do it on my birthday. We invited 60 women and as I know how these parties sometimes go, I assumed we would have 4 or 5 women show up. Was I wrong. But, that's not what this post is about.
The week leading up the party seemed fairly normal with the RSVP list, then the day prior to and the day before, the RSVP's started rolling in. When all was said and done, I had about 15 women, 10 kiddos, the hubby and 2 dogs plus myself and my Pampered Chef consultant all in attendance. I'm not gonna lie. We cleaned. I mean, it's me, right? The kids and I spent part of Monday and a little bit of Tuesday cleaning and tidying the house. We put things away, swept and vacuumed all of the floors, made the beds, cleaned the mirrors and the glass doors. In other words, we did what should be done each and every week but some of these things get missed. In a couple of hours on Monday and a couple of hours on Tuesday, we cleaned the entire house from top to bottom. Mostly. There were a few things that I could have done. I could have wet mopped the hardwoods or cleaned the baseboards or wiped down the chairs.
But, we didn't and we had the party anyway, because we could.
What I mean by this is thanks to keeping a fairly organized, clutter free home, it does not take us long to literally get the entire space ready to host a large gathering.
I'll be really frank with you. We have had to remove the storm door on the front due to shattering the glass, there are two pieces of tiles broken in one of our bathrooms, our downstairs carpet needs a very good cleaning and I need to reupholster two chairs that I have currently slipcovered.
It doesn't matter. No one cared about those things. They cared about me and they cared about us. And, I decided to not sweat the small items. I want to assist you in getting your space to where you want it to be. Do not forgo your joy because of your fear of a less than perfect home. You may have a few small hotspots that need to be addressed before you achieve perfection. You may have a home that is just shy of a Hoarders episode that need the chairs excavated so you can move into joyful living. You may have something in between.
We can tackle your big problems in your home through my new program and then the small stuff won't seem as big!
My Clearing the Way Course will help you to create a welcoming space in your home for your loved ones and for yourself. It's NOT ABOUT PERFECTION. It's about releasing yourself from your stuff. It's about freedom. It's about a respite from the storms of life. If you are not sure if this is for you, email me at email@example.com and we can chat or follow the link below for all the goods on this life-changing course.
If you are ready to step into sanctuary, it is only a click away.
I have this dream of sanctuary. Okay, I want to be honest. I have sanctuary. My dream may be more that everyone has sanctuary. There are so many days when I drive up my driveway and walk into the front door, lay down my things and find gratitude in having this space to walk into. I think I recognize it more after working with clients and knowing that so many struggle with this in their lives.
I'm that person that when I go into people's space, they apologize. The apologize for the mess, the clutter, the disorganization. They assume that my home is perfect all of the time. Truthfully, I suppose that it is fairly clean and organized most of the time. Even the kids frequently say, "it doesn't have to be perfect, Mom!" It's not about perfection. I promise. It's not.
It's about having a place to have laughter and joy and space to dream and, unfortunately, shelter from the storms that we weather throughout our lives.
Having a clutter free home is not the answer to preventing disease or infidelity or financial woes (though it can help). It does not mean your life is perfect. But, it can be your place of ease when faced with any of these.
So, let's talk about how it can help. If your bed is filled with clean and/or dirty laundry you or your spouse are sleeping on the couch or in the recliner each night and not making a space in your bedroom for the energy of love, then it can create problems. If you are a binge shopper and purchase the same items over and over because you never emptied the bags from the last 10 shopping trips and your home is so cluttered that you cannot find items, thus purchasing new ones, it can contribute to your financial woes. What about your health? Does your home have lots of spaces for mice to live and to create waste due to the mounds of "stuff"? I promise you, if your home is severely cluttered, it's a real possibility and I have seen it in home after home after home. (Mice are a real problem in the cleanest and most orderly of homes and can easily be dealt with as the evidence can be seen, but it is amplified in cluttered homes.) What about your mental health?
Let's stop here. This. This is what I am most concerned with for SOME of the folks I work with. It's the walking in the front door to the piles, then into the kitchen where you do not have room to prep healthy fresh food, then into the bedroom with 6 baskets of laundry and no room to put them. Then, you begin the cycle of overwhelm. For some of you, you know what I mean.
I work with clients at all levels. I have clients who just need some tweaking in their space or dealing with that one hot spot. On the other end are the clients who have a home full of furniture but no where to sit as ever space is covered with things. And, of course, there is everything in between.
I am not here to judge you. It is the last thing on my mind. There are those days when I wish my own home looked like something out of a magazine. I see the door that fell off the cabinet in the kitchen, waiting to be repaired or the carpet in the den that needs to be replaced. And then, there are those days when I teach a class and show photos of my own home as examples and have people in the room say they wish their home were so empty of items and am reminded that the struggle to find sanctuary in our homes is so real.
On August 1, I am launching an online program to support you in your journey to sanctuary. I'm going to be showing you into my home, my less than perfect, but clutter free home, giving you tips and tricks, talking about why we have clutter and so much more! I know I've been hinting at this for a while, but creating a program like this takes some time!!! I'm almost ready to launch this thing and you will be the first to know. Are you ready?
Let me go back and explain some things about me. I am not a feminist. There was a time when I would have claimed that title and you can be sure that I am SO GRATEFUL for those women in our past who have worn this as a crown to allow me the freedom to be whomever I choose to be. I am a woman. A daughter, a sister, a friend, a mother, a wife, an entrepreneur, a priestess. I am all of these things and I get to choose these things. But, there came time when I no longer could say, "I am a feminist" in the way we view it in our society. I believe in gender roles (there, I said it). I believe that that MAJORITY of us fall into gender roles and are happy to be associated with our gender while some do not. To each their own, but, I am comfortable in my woman-ness and know I can be a badass woman who loves, parents, relates, and leads ferociously.
This Goddess-worshipping Southern woman chooses her own path each and every day and revels in being a W-O-M-A-N.
And, this is why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie above all others. I mean really. I am even going to see it again. An island full of warrior women. They are lovers and fighters and teachers. Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta, is the perfect feminine archetype. She is soft and loving and wears her wrinkles like a beautiful piece of art, all while wielding a sword and shield to protect her tribe and her family. Her sister, General Antiope is the harsher of the two. Beautiful, hard, and aged like a fine wine to show that beauty is not only for the youth but those in mid-life and beyond, she has a softness for Diana and her students that is rarely revealed. I identified so much with both of these characters. Hippolyta, the leader and the mother, Antiope who teaches in much the same way as I parent, I am nearly at a loss for words and cannot get enough.
To me, this movie is everything that represents women at our best. It is the story that needs to be told. Is there a group of Amazonian women living eternally due to their connection with the gods? Well, even I don't think so. Nevertheless, this is the story of women and our abilities, it is what I didn't even know we needed right now in this moment in time. We need this for each woman from 18 to 88 and for each girl who is growing up now. I need it for my daughter to show her what she can do. I need it for my son so that he knows that women can be strong. I need it for me to remind me that being in my mid-life can be beautiful and fierce. We have needed this story for longer than I can say.
I was not going to let the Moon see the movie. It is a little more violent and edgier than we normally allow her to see. I have tried to stand my ground. But, my hubby is the one who is insistent. I don't know if he is worried about her in some way or just knows somewhere inside that the girls of this generation, in the face of where we are as a society, needs this. With this aaaaallllll said, I'll leave you with this quote from the movie:
“YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU BELIEVE. YOU HAVE GREATER POWERS THAN YOU KNOW.” - Antiope
I've been pondering the meaning of life. A lot. Like every moment of every day. Okay, maybe not that much. But, close. What I spend a lot of time thinking about are past choices that brought me to where I am in life and where my family is. This year has brought tremendous emotional growth but has also been full of huge ups and downs and one thing I have come to the conclusion of is there is no "normal". I used to have this dialogue in my head that said, "once things get back to normal".
Once our schedule normalized.
Once my income normalized.
Once my health normalized.
What does this even mean?
I'm going to talk more about this in future posts, but today, I want to take this idea of "normal" and reframe it into "habits". How? The reality is there is no "normal". Not in my world and quite frankly, not in the world of anyone else I know. So, if there is no normal, how do we live life? How do we operate and bring any form of consistency in a world of constant change?
Through habits. This has been on my mind and I decided to make this the summer of developing good habits. I looked up the meaning of habit for this post and here is our friends at Merriam-Webster have to say:
Okay, so we want some repetition, or at least I do. The school year is NOT a good time to develop good habits. What happens during the school year is a big part of the reason I want to develop these habits as more often than not, we find that we are not in "normal" and are frequently in CHAOS as schedules shift and change, holidays fall, illness creeps in. I truly believe it is in a handful of good habits that we will find a bit of normal amid the inconsistency.
We already have a few good habits. Each morning the dishwasher is emptied. There's one! Honestly, that may be the only one.
I have begun looking at other writers to see what habits they have and how they win at life through the use of habit. Of course, there is the iconic 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey (by the way, I just ordered EVERY ONE of his books through our library) and my fave, Tim Ferriss (check out this article). but, are their habits my habits? Some of them.
After reading several articles, thinking of my pet peeves and knowing where the chaos happens in our home when we are NOT in good habit and what we need to be health in body, mind and spirit, I have come up with these habits to work on over the next 11 weeks:
1. Making the bed upon rising. Always. No matter what.
2. Get my diffuser filled with my favorite oils to set our mood for the day.
3. Reviewing my goals and journaling. (I am also working with Elizabeth Purvis over at the Goddess Business School, so for me, that is a huge part of my journaling.)
4. Meditate or read something inspirational.
6. Clean the kitchen (the kitchen is usually clean when we wake up, but when I leave in the mornings, I also want to come home to a clean kitchen). This is a group effort at the Croy house.
7. Reboot the laundry every night before bed.
I may add to this over the summer, but seriously, if we can implement these items individually, we will be able to take the chaos thrown at us each day when life strays outside the lines and "normal" is no where to be found. An example of a not so normal day below. We threw off the shackles of yard work and house cleaning and headed downtown for an afternoon of fun!
Please share your habits with me today over on FB!
Is there anything as lovely and as promising as freshly laid eggs? I am sure there is but this was a lovely promise for me yesterday. I want to tell you how I received the eggs and about my immense gratitude and I want to tell you what these eggs mean to me.
You probably remember that nearly a year ago I embarked on Elemental Space Clearing Certification with Denise Linn, renowned expert on sacred space and best-selling Hay House author. As part of the certification, I am required to offer 18 clearings (preferably with no charge, though if we are already in this field we are allowed to do so). Despite having been doing this work for nearly half of my life in some way or another, I decided to take the route of offering these services at no charge. Why? Why is this a requirement and why take this road and where am I now?
There was a time when spiritual training was lifelong or at least lasted a long time. There were apprenticeships and mentorships and while you may have been out there doing the work, there was study and intention. We now live in a fast paced world where people are receiving energetic attunements via the internet (I have released judgement on this one) and are declaring that they are a shaman based on having read a book. There are amazing things happening in the world and there are also those practicing without the knowledge to energetically hold their clients - many different modalities.
I once sat in a marketing class with a young woman who was dressed in a boho style and draped with jewelry and when we went around the circle and said what we hoped to gain from the class, she said she wanted to be a spiritual guru like Harv Eker teaching others to be spiritual gurus. What? That was her goal. To be a famous spiritual guru. (My secret wish for this girl was to achieve what she wanted but first to find a phenomenal teacher to show her the way along with a little humility.)
These things have lead me to where I am today. I have performed 10 clearings toward my certification. 1 of which I did accept a monetary payment for. The others, well, let's say those who received the clearings gave me other gifts. I have received dinner, lunch, a beautiful drawing by a 5 year old girl, lovely emails of thanks and yesterday, well, yesterday put me in an interesting place.
I teach a class called Step Out of Your Fear and Into Your Story. In this class one of the things I talk about is learning to accept payment for your services and stand in that worthiness and step out of poverty consciousness. I say that we no longer are paid in chickens and eggs. And then, yesterday, my client was so happy with the clearing, which she received at not charge, she quickly went to her hens and gathered a dozen eggs for me to take home to my family.
There was a shift that happened for me. It was a final step into this tradition and this work. There are 8 clearings remaining before I achieve certification. But, now, I feel I can return to accepting monetary payment as opposed to standing in the place of student only. This is not new work for me. I have been doing it for so many years.
The gratitude I felt when receiving those eggs was immense and intense. We will enjoy those eggs as a family (well, I won't but my family will enjoy what I cook with them!).
I am a big believer of what I call "going to the mountain". Truly receiving our spiritual training and becoming as adept as we can through long study before going out into the world to declare we are experts. I am not an expert. I have SO much still to learn in this life. But, these eggs were symbolic to me that I have been reborn and am ready to go forth into the world to share this work.
Today, I sit in this gratitude and humility as I prepare to share what I do this weekend at the Galactic Expo in Nashville!
I hope to see you there.
but it is too long to list. I say, "we" as my hubby did the 30 days with me. He conquered like a champ. That's just him. He grew a little tired of chicken and cauliflower, but otherwise, he found it to be fairly easy and he seemed to enjoy the challenge of finding W30 compliant snacks for work and packing on a 10 mile overnight backpacking trip with foods that match the plan. So, good for him. Not so good for me.
On the Whole 30, there is the requirement that all forms of cream and sugar be eliminated from coffee. You could have compliant cream such as coconut or almond milk, but beyond that....you must suffer. Across the entire 30 days, this is where I failed. Every. Single Day. I actually replaced my half and half with compliant almond milk and was able to successfully do this during the Virgin Diet as well. But, this go around, like that one, I still added a little sugar to my coffee. But, I am not ashamed. This was the only place I had sugar. In fact, believe it or not, I had tea about 4 times while I was out at dinner and was stunned to find I could drink it unsweetened. More on that little gem below!
Let's talk about sugar. We have very few things we purchase pre-made. In fact, my the last time my sister house sat for us, she said, there is nothing to eat in your home that does not have to be prepped and cooked. True story. But, when I looked at the hand-full of items I purchase, half have sugar. And, we drink sweet-tea. Almost every night. So, going back through and ensuring that nothing has added sugar wasn't a huge deal for us, but it was disappointing at the amount of sugar snuck into our clean diet. Though I did keep a little sugar and cream in my coffee, that is the only sugar I had daily and I can tell you without a doubt that the difference in my body and in my taste buds was HUGE.
Full Disclosure. On about day 8, I had a breakdown and went to Sonic. I purchased a sweet tea - half sweet and half unsweet. I took one sip and had to throw it in the trash. Even drinking my coffee, by eliminating all of the other sugar in my diet, it radically changed my tastebuds in only 8 days. The other cool thing? I picked up one for each of the kids. They drank theirs but asked when Sonic started making their tea so sweet. This breakdown was actually a good thing!
I had maybe 4 other times that I veered from the plan. One was for my sister's birthday. I used milk in the mashed potatoes as it was all I had, verses the chicken stock I normally use. I also had a sweet tea that evening. One day I met with a client and had fresh local Mexican with corn tortillas as well as Nachos with cheese and sour cream. My final day of total non-compliance I will talk about a little below.
Going back to sugar, can you see how this supported me in eliminating the habit of sugar? I don't even have a sugar habit compared to what is in most foods and the American diet, but I had enough that this reset me and I am SO THANKFUL. On these moments of non-compliance, I can tell you that I did okay, but not great. What I mean by this is I didn't feel great after having the butter and milk in my potatoes (I have been only eating homemade ghee until this point), the corn was good and a treat, but left me feeling overly full and the sweet tea, we will not even talk about how I felt after that!)
We didn't force the kids to be completely Whole 30 compliant. I actually feel that is unhealthy for growing kids and ones as physically active as ours. But, other than a couple of exceptions (no added sugar juice and organic dark chocolate) I removed the excess sugars from their diet as well. Okay, let's be honest. They get organic low-sugar granola bars and .......a little sugar in their mayo....and sweet tea. When I think about it, our sugars are really low! Here's the cool thing! I replaced our sweet tea with plain lemon water that I steep in the afternoons before they get home from school and they love it. Noah has had a couple of rough days due to the high school soccer season that I have treated him with sweet tea when he got home from the games, but otherwise, lemon water. Oh! And, they didn't even notice that I cut the sugar in the tea to half. Who knew?
So, that's all the good. Now, I want to address the bad and ugly. I think there is an idea that for many folks following this diet that eggs are a staple. I know from the Virgin Diet, when I eliminated eggs, that they have been a major culprit of inflammation for me (especially with my thyroid) and once they were gone, a lot changed for me. The texture of my skin, my bowel issues, my heartburn...with the W30, I really went full force on eggs again and within 3 weeks, was feeling the results which for me where not good. In addition, the idea is to increase your plant intake. Here's the deal. I don't need to increase my plant intake. So, I was not adding a lot of plant based foods. Greens, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, these things are all part of my daily diet. But, something in the elimination of all grains, adding back in the eggs and maybe the almond milk, shut my digestive system down pretty much completely. I won't go into the gory details, but after two days of severe discomfort to the point of not sleeping, I got up and had a non-compliant breakfast and lunch to attempt to reset. This was in the way of oatmeal and lunch at a local Indian restaurant. By the next day, things had begun to right themselves. The decision was made to stick to the plan. Just because we had to finish, find completion.
The longest 6 days of my life. We were counting the days....Nathan and I...and the kids as the Moon was anxious to get back to baking.
You would think we would return to every bad old habit once finished! We did and we didn't. I had gf biscuits and gravy Friday morning but only had homemade chicken broth for lunch. We had sushi for dinner. I was mostly "compliant" on Saturday during the day but ordered Mexican for dinner. There's an interesting story. I ordered two chicken enchiladas with suiza (green) sauce. It came with beans and rice. I asked that the rice be replaced with a second bean. You see, on one of my non-compliant days I had rice. It is entirely possible that I will never eat rice again. I do not need it, cannot digest it, it has very little value for me and only bloated me and gave me abdominal pain. With my Mexican also came chips and salsa. A test! I sat down and thought I would do what I normally do with Mexican food - polish it off. Nope. I literally ate half and put the remainder in the fridge for Sunday's lunch. I also was up most of the night with horrific heartburn. You can bet that instead of being a grain staple for me, even in the most organic non-GMO way, that corn is now low on my food list. Not only have I cut my sugar almost completely out, I have reduced my portions by half. Let the weight roll off!
That's the story of me and Whole 30 and over the last week and still today, I am pondering where I go from here. I have some things banging around in my head and hope to cement this by the end of the day. I'll let you know when I figure it out!
Here's to your health,
I’m Dana Croy and I am a modern day mama. Balancing family and work is not always easy (not to mention a little self-care). Though being Mama to two fantastic kiddos is a huge part of my life, that was not always the case. I wear many other hats and invite to sit down and find harmony with me.