My Leap List

Sunday, July 15, 2012


     I haven't mastered trust yet.  I actually suck at it, so God keeps giving me new chances to practice
     This morning I spent four hours picking beans and weeds on a real life farm.  The people waiting with us at 8 A.M. were as nervous as I was.  Can I actually do this for four hours?  Will I do it right?  We shook hands and stood awkwardly waiting together.  The farmer briefly explained what he needed us to do and then set off on his other tasks.  He continued working in the fields, trusting us to do more good than harm.  As I moved to another crop, I left the backpack behind so I wouldn't miss the new instructions.  I trusted it would be safe where I left it, even though it held a cell phone, id, and money inside.  When I returned, it was right where I had left it.  Untouched.  When I left, the farmer asked me my name and jotted it on a piece of paper from his car.  I trust that he will send my name to the people that keep track of these things so I get credit for working today.  
     On the way home, I stopped the car in the middle of the road to let a mother duck and her ducklings cross the street.  She didn't even hesitate.  She trusted that I would stop and wait and the other cars further down at the light would not come up the hill until the ducklings were safe.  When they got to the other side, the littlest duckling fell on his back trying to climb the curb.  He tried to hop, but that didn't work.  Then he backed up, ran, and hopped.  He finally made it.  The whole time he tried, his mom waited patiently on the curb, trusting he would make it without her help.  He made it just as the cars came up the hill.  The mother duckling turned and led the ducklings off through the underbrush.
     Today someone I thought was my friend showed his true colors.  It hurt to be betrayed.  It hurt even more to find out that I was played.  Just when I think I'm mastering this trust thing, I find out I have a ways to go.  I am vain enough to care what people think of me.  I want to know that people like me just because I am worth liking, not just because of what I can do for them.  This can make me an easy target for people who want to take advantage of me.
     I'm learning balance.  A tough skin for protection that is thin enough to love and be loved.  Protecting my kids without keeping them from climbing their own walls.  Staying safe, but taking risks.  Trusting in the goodness of people without being a target for our baser instincts.
     A random feather landed on my walk today.  Thank you angels for being with me today for the hard lessons in trust and love.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tested for True Character

      The bottom of the tag reads "Tested for true character."  I don't know how you test a hat for its character, but I am grateful for whoever takes the time to do this every day.  What an awesome job!  This is my new litmus test for life.
     When I'm looking for ways to release the clutter in my life, I shall ask, "Does it have true character?"  If so, it will stay.  If not, I will send it on its way to other great adventures.  It will be epic to see.  Gatsby's flying shirts will have nothing on me. 
     I will surround myself with people of true character who inspire me to grow.  I will guard against the ones still learning what it means to have true character.  I will help those trying to find their own.  
     I will fill my mind with books and movies and ideas  that have been tested for true character.  I can't absorb them all in my lifetime, so I will choose the ones that make me more than I already am.
     When tough decisions need to be made, I will choose the ones that show my true character and not the ones that are easy or cowardly.  I will stand with my convictions, even when it is the hardest thing to do.
     I will speak words that reflect my character and not the ones that debase myself or others.  My words will be a source of comfort and love, not another wound for someone to needlessly suffer.  
     My appearance will reveal my true character, not what society judges to be the way a woman should look.  When I look in the mirror, I will speak kindly to myself as a woman with true character would speak to another human being.  I will stop beating myself up over superficial numbers and inches and celebrate the body I have.  
     At the end of my journey here, I hope someone will judge me kindly and give me a tag that reads, "Tested for true character."

Focusing on the Fabulous

     Sometimes I forget how amazing life is and start focusing on the little hiccups along the way.  Luckily I have amazing people who remind me life is a matter of focus.  No matter how perfect our lives seem from the outside, we all have struggles that make us human.
     Baby Joscelyn has gone through two brain surgeries this week, and she is still smiling at her mom and the people taking care of her.  Her indomitable spirit humbles me.  Her mother has the same amazing spirit. Rhea is going through a painful medical treatment that leaves her bruised and battered, but she still checks in on me to make sure I am okay.  There are so many people I could list here that inspire me every day to change my focus and see all the good things in the world.  
     I struggled to write tonight on such an uneventful day, but then I thought of all the amazing people who  would tell me life is a matter of focus.  This is my revised focus day.

  •  I got a surprise visit from a dear friend I haven't seen in years.  She wasn't supposed to be there today, but a fluke scheduling change brought us to the same place at the same time.  
  • There were bunny kisses and bunny paws on my lap while I read the morning paper.  
  • I Skyped for the first time ever and got to hear the voice of a friend in Turkey.  
  • I got a postcard from one of my favorite students.  I was delighted with the picture of a Scottish cow; she is a student ambassador in Europe this summer.    
  • I am down to two Pepsi's a day, which is still a lot, but not bad for a girl who could drink five or six on an average day.  
  • I went for my third walk this week - also a lot for a girl trying to get back in shape.  
  • A cat followed us for part of the walk.  When Mandy kneeled down to pet it, it climbed up in her lap and nuzzled into her neck.  It was amazing to see the instant love.  
  • My sister donated money to baby Joscelyn in my name because she knew it would make me smile and knew I would want to help her.  
  • Many friends offered to join me in a future walk to raise money for suicide prevention.  With their help, we can raise even more money to help kids who need extra love and support.  
  • I got to sit in a hot tub in the rain.  I actually giggled with delight at the combination of hot and cold water on my skin.  
There were so many fabulous things in my life today.  How could I think it was uneventful?  The day was the same; it was my focus that made the difference.    

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Messages from Heaven

     I believe that feathers are messages from Heaven delivered by angels.  When I was fifteen and considering suicide, a voice convinced me not to. When I turned away from death and headed back down the pier, a feather dropped from the sky.  Today the angels sent me four messages from heaven.
     One of my favorite people asked me to join her in the Out of the Darkness walk.  I have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so considering a five-mile walk in September when either the heat or the cold could do me in, is a difficult decision.  But, she and I lost two people we love to suicide.  It was heartbreaking for me, but I can't imagine how she survived losing her brother and sister as a young teen.  This girl has my heart and anything she asks, she gets a "yes" from me.  
    After saying yes and setting up a team, Mandy and I set off for a walk to get in training.  After a few blocks, Mandy found a random feather lying the sidewalk.  She held it out and said, "I think the angels like your decision to join the walk."  A few blocks later I found another feather lying on the sidewalk.  I picked it up and said, "A feather for both of them."  By the time we made it full circle to our home, four feathers had fallen on our path.  One for each of my students who have committed suicide.  I think all of my angels are happy with my decision tonight.  I hope I can make them proud.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Never Enough Love

     The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough is love. 
- Henry Miller.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Seeing Through Mandy's Eyes

     This year is my year of letting go.  One of the hardest parts is letting go of myself.  I hold on really tightly so I don't do anything wrong.  I worry about what people will think of me and what they will say.  I worry about what I write and about how the world will perceive it.  I hate people looking at me, and I absolutely HATE having my picture taken because then I have to change the way I see myself with the way the photo sees me.  I spend forever tearing apart the picture and all the things wrong with it.  This picture would be a perfect example.  There are so many things I could say about what's wrong with it.  Mandy loves it because I look happy...and I was happy in that moment, with my family, Tyler's "celebrations" on my head, celebrating the 4th of July.  I am letting go of the imperfections I see in me and seeing myself through her eyes - happy.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Best Part of Me

      My sister is, and always has been, the very best part of me.   
Happy Birthday, love.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Boy Energy

     I love spending time with this cute guy.  I love his boy energy and his funny sense of humor.  Since his sister was out tonight, I let him pick where we went for dinner.  He was thrilled to pick Chicken Souvlaki because the chicken comes with a stick.  He told me, "Everything tastes better on a stick."  Then he happily speared every one of his fries because they taste better that way.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Life is Fleeting, but Love is Eternal

     Yesterday Mandy and I talked about expectations...and life...and love...and all the other random thoughts that came up as we sat sewing together.  We decided that life, and love, have a way of surprising us and taking us places we never dreamed of at the start of the journey.  Isn't amazing that the life we get is so wonderful that most of us wouldn't trade it for the life we thought we wanted - the children we weren't expecting or the person we never wanted to love or the pets we didn't want or the job that was only temporary?  It amazes me that God, or whoever guides me with such loving grace, knows exactly what we need, even in the darkest nights of despair.
     We all have challenges in life, and I am amazed by people who overcome the toughest times imaginable with courage and quiet strength.  They inspire me to look beyond my little world and see what true strength and faith look like from the ones who are masters of the lessons I am beginning.  Jennifer Dempsey is one of these women.
     After losing her son in a tragic accident, she discovered her baby daughter Joscelyn has horrible seizures that can leave her paralyzed and permanently disabled.  Tonight Joscelyn had half of her brain removed in hopes of saving the other half.  I followed Jennifer's updates all day and marveled at her strength in an unimaginable time.  She posted a blog entry about her dreams for her baby and how they had changed into new dreams.  She has such simple dreams for Joscelyn.  Things that I take for granted as a mother.  She reminds me that life is fleeting, but love is eternal.  Life is much more precious to me tonight as I send my prayers, love, and healing thoughts to Jocelyn and Jennifer.  You can follow their story at  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Declaration of Independence

     Today Patti Digh wrote a blog post that has had me thinking all day.  In it she wrote of her declaration of in(ter)dependence and the freedoms she has gathered to herself in this lifetime.  You can read her eloquent post here .  At the end of the post she challenged us to share our own list today.  I've been trying to come up with an answer all day and am no closer to the answer than I was this morning, but I am going to give it a try anyway.

     I, Tiffany Cooke, hereby give myself the following freedoms:

  • I have the freedom to relinquish control and live in the uncertainty.
  • I have the freedom to be imperfect and love myself completely.
  • I have the freedom to accept life for what it is and to stop waiting for the ideal.
  • I have the freedom to say no.
  • I have the freedom to live my life out loud without censor.
  • I have the freedom to love unconditionally.
  • I have the freedom to feel peace without fear.
  • I have the freedom to be loved.
  • I have the freedom to relax without guilt.
  • I have the freedom to let go of negative thoughts and conclusions.
  • I have the freedom to have a bad day without thinking I have a bad life.
  • I have the freedom to ask for what I need.
  • I have the freedom to forgive.
Happy Independence Day.  Thank you, Patti, for helping me see today in a new light and making me feel lighter.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Letting Go of Perfection

     Sometimes I look at all the things that are still undone and I get overwhelmed. The garden.  Sewing projects still half-finished.  The clutter in my house.  Books still waiting to be read.  I look around and feel stuck.  Today I realized it's part of my endless drive to be perfect.  Everything must be perfect before I can let go and enjoy the moment.

     Today I remembered I can choose to let it go.  You can read about my resolution here - 2012 is my year of Letting Go.   This month I will let go of the perfection and enjoy the process.  I will be present in the moment and let go of the rest. I will focus on the beauty and not the weeds I'm still battling.
    I will also do a little bit every day to help the process.  I can't get everything done in a day or two, but I can celebrate the progress at the end of each day.  I will let go of one more part of my endless drive for perfection.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Love Emerges

    Last year the person you loved offered you the world. You said, "I already have the world."  Even when I kicked you out, you refused to go.  This summer someone offered to love me, but I couldn't go.  It's always been you and me. 

    No matter what happens, love keeps coming up from the depths.  Our roots run deep.  Even when it seems the end, love emerges stronger than before.   

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Quarter Century of Love

     "How are you today?"
     "In love."
     Summer has always been our time.  Our first summer, I was lost.  I was scared.  I was broken.  The love of my life was getting married to someone else and I was determined to be gracious in love and wish them well.  John stayed by my side and even made me laugh once or twice.  On the way home, he told me he loved me.
     A lot can happen in twenty-five years, even to people like us.  Love affairs aren't ever the perfect arc we imagine them to be.  Yet, here we are, together.  My best friend and my love.  For better and for worse.