Posts tagged family
Love Is An Open Door

Is there a relationship in your life that feels less than perfect right now? One that threatens your inner peace? Consumes too many of your thoughts and leaves you feeling anxious or guilty or generally out of sorts when you think of it?

Maybe it is time to do something to clear the air.

Your well being and peace of mind are valuable allies in creating a balanced happy life. To extend too many thoughts and energies to a situation that doesn't bring you joy, and ultimately makes you feel bad or small, is excess weight you need to get rid of. 

But what is the appropriate course of action? There is no right answer, only suggestions to consider, because the answer is unique to you. The solution has to allow you to move on, to let go, to be okay with the outcome even if it isn't exactly what you hoped for. And it cannot compromise your integrity or your authenticity. While I personally don't believe in lying to make things right, or apologizing for something I don't believe I did wrong, I can and have swept the situation under the rug and simply let it go. But that doesn't always work either.

The ultimate "right" answer is the one that sits well with you.

Here are some possible courses of action:

1. You could be honest with this person, admitting your wrong doing and say you are sorry only for your portion of the conflict. 

2. You could agree to disagree acknowledging it isn't imperative that you two ever agree, just that you are able to accept each others differences and get along for the sake of keeping the peace (in the family, or the workplace, or wherever).

3. You could let go of any expectations this person will change after your attempt to reconcile, because chances are, they will not. Since you are doing this for you and to rid yourself of the lingering feeling of regret at not attempting to clear things up, even if it does not create the outcome you hoped for, you will feel better for having attempted.

4. You could stand in your personal truth and recognize that you don't have to please everyone around you and if you are okay with you, so should everyone else be. Even if you don't see eye to eye, or for that matter even like each other.

5. You could maintain control of your emotions even if the confrontation goes badly or if the other person is not receptive to your wish to make amends. Adding more drama to the situation by losing your cool only effectively hands all control over to the other person.

While no one can tell you what to do, sometimes talking it out with an unbiased person helps to see the situation with more clarity. In any case, holding onto negative feelings for someone only weighs down your mind, body + spirit, not theirs. Take appropriate action in whatever way feels right for you to create change, and to either close that door or open another.

Grace and Life
Grace. I understood it now. It was being able to give up something that it broke your heart to lose, and be happy about it.

— Robert McCammon, Author of Boy's Life

I think I understand it now, too.

It has taken me a long time to learn the true meaning of grace.

For last five years or so I been working hard to take back the reigns of my own power. From my ego. She has ruled for so long that her strategies for keeping control were deeply ingrained in me. I lived by her rules; of planning, organization, accomplishment, and to do lists. She kept me unsettled, and very busily focused on the end goal. As I work to let go of her unhealthy practices that had me not fully appreciating the many little and big moments of the life right in front of me, I have been more easily able to recognize moments of true grace in my world.

Grace = doing the right thing.

Being a planned, organized, control freak doesn't prepare you for the unexpected things in life that happen, like learning your baby is having a baby. Especially not when he is only 19 and clearly not emotionally or financially ready to care for a baby, and isn't even in a relationship anymore. And it does not prepare you for being a grand parent for the first time and not being able to officially claim the role you've been anticipating for years.

The thing that gets you through is grace. Doing the right thing, even if it is the hardest thing you can imagine.

The decision to give my grand baby up for adoption wasn't mine to make, thankfully. And while this situation was one I never thought I would be in, it has shown me how to be thankful for the little things, even if they don't work out the way you once imagined they would. 

I appreciate how very lucky to be even a small part of my grandson's life.

My son showed me the meaning of grace as he wrestled with his decision to either fight to keep his son, or to give him a chance at a life with two loving parents. He understood he wasn't ready to be a father, and wasn't strong enough to navigate a messy co-parenting situation with someone he was no longer even friends with; and yet babies are his thing. He has always had immediate and deep bonds with little ones. I know that making the decision to let go of his own child ate away a part of his heart. As it did mine.

His grace-filled decision to do the right thing was in turn mirrored by the beautiful couple who adopted his child as they agreed to an open adoption. Showing their grace in turn by doing the hard thing and allowing (strangers) to have a presence in their son's life. From the first moment we met them they offered us grace, and while I sometimes have a hard time accepting I am worthy of that kind of grace, I am fully thankful of how awesome it is.

This whole unplanned situation has been a great learning experience for me. It has opened my eyes to the many sides of adoption. I appreciate my grandson's loving parents for their willingness to stand firm in their acceptance of us even in the face of questioning from their family and friends. I realize his other grandparents would rather not share the role with my husband and I, and maybe even secretly wish we'd just fade away. I might feel the same in their shoes.

I understand why their friends and family question their decision to trust us to babysit. It isn't hard to imagine them thinking thoughts about us like "how can you trust them, they clearly didn't do a great job of parenting the first time around." Or, "what is wrong with these people that they wouldn't keep their own grand child?" Because once I might have had similar ones myself.

And I accept that most people may even judge us for giving him up in the first place. At one time I probably would have. Funny thing is, we often think we know what we would do in someone else's shoes, until we find ourselves in them.

I have come to realize, even the best laid plans go haywire sometimes. Every time I think of the family and friends who doubt my grandbaby's parents in letting us get to know him, I want to shout from the rooftops that we don't want to intrude, or to assume someone's rightful role, or to overstep--- we just want our grandson to know that he is/was always loved, always wanted and will forever have all the love in our hearts.

This situation is heartwarming and heartbreaking. Beautiful and Brutiful --in the words of Glennon Melton. Their willingness to include us in his life and in theirs is humbling. It is selfless and scary and overflowing with buckets of grace, and is something I will be forever grateful for.

Picturing my grandson's smiling little face reminds me to take a breath and allow grace to soothe me. To stop being sad for missing the special moments of his life and to rejoice in how lucky I am to even know him. As I continually work to appreciate, I am simply thankful to be a part of his life at all.

Huge gratitude to all the teachers in my life who have shown me through their actions what grace truly is. By their examples I am learning to both accept and offer grace, to myself and to others.  


Remembering Her in All the Little Ways

Blue skies Mom, your favorite.

When someone passes from this life we immediately begin to fear we will forget them --and search out ways to make sure that doesn't happen. Like wearing something special of theirs, or taking a photo or memento to place in plain sight so you won't stop remembering the way they'd smile, or the light in their eyes. Or their hugs. Or their voice.

I saw so so many ways that my husband's family crafted loving ways to remember their beloved momma. From the wearing and sharing of her jewelry and clothes with all the girls-- daughters, daughter-in-law, grand daughters, and great grands, even those part of the family by love not blood or marriage. Each one was able to take something of hers to remember her by.

I know how important this is as I have worn a necklace that was my friend Addie's for over a year. It is a constant reminder of the beautiful girl she was and forever will be in the memories of those who loved her.

My sister-in-laws went to such beautiful lengths to find ways to keep their momma present in their memories and the memories of their own children and grand children. Some will be too young to remember her for long, so they recorded videos of her reading books to them,  snapped endless pictures, chose special mementos to bring back to their own homes. And most importantly they made sure they enjoyed every minute they could with her before she left this world crafting a boatload of new memories to cherish.

It was so beautiful to see. I am so proud of their grace and in awe of their strength. Not surprisingly, they remind me of my mother-in-law.

When a loved one dies there is no right or wrong way to feel really. Sad is usually first, sometimes anger follows, depression -- but there can also be joy. I choose to believe that we can keep our loved ones with us in spirit, if we pay attention to the present.

Even a year ago I might have thought what I am about to say was wishful thinking or maybe a little crazy--and yet I now know that my mother-in-law, and anyone who has passed---remains forever with us, if we pay attention to the signs.

My husband and I both got signs that she was still with us on the day my mother-in-law passed away. His came when he was making the bed so his dad had fresh sheets to sleep on. As he bumped into the recessed headboard while fussing with the sheets, the music box nestled there made one single chime. He acknowledged it with a fleeting thought wondering if his mom was showing him her happiness that he was doing this kind gesture for his dad. Think how hard it would be to make up the bed for the first time knowing you'd be spending this night truly "alone" without your best friend of 55 years beside you?  Just imagining that is enough to bring the most stoic of men to tears, it breaks my heart in two.

When Mike was nearly done with the bed and as he was pulling up the comforter, the little box chimed once more --this time with no help from a headboard bump --and without hesitation Mike told me he said, "You're welcome, Mom." And smiled.

I can only imagine how delighted his mom was knowing he "got" her sign and then acknowledged it right back to her. I will be doing one great big happy dance in heaven if my boys do that for me!

I received my first sign that same evening in the middle of my GROOVE class. It came first as a thought that she might be watching me dance from above and I smiled up the memory of her own beautiful smile and tinkling laugh--and a moment later my music glitched and switched to a new song. Flustered I ran over and in my haste to get the right song back on -- failed to notice which random song it had switched to-- definitely not one of the others on the song list for that evening. I re-hit play on the song that had glitched --it was Wipe Out by the Surfaris- -and it started up again, played a few notes and immediately switched over to another song (it could have even been the same song as the first time but in my panic I failed to notice). As I searched for an answer that made sense, was the battery dying on my speaker, was the ipod connected properly--- I suddenly realized with certainty it was my "sign" and calmly said "well I guess someone doesn't want us to play this song tonite, so let's move to the next one". No surprise that the rest of the tracks played out just fine.

I believe that mom wanted to validate that she was indeed watching me dance when I was thinking of her. In all the times I have played my Ipod for a GROOVE class it has never once jumped songs like that. I have no doubt it was mom letting me know that she was still here.

We get to choose the way we keep our loved ones with us, so make sure to choose to honor those who have left your life in a way that works for you. Wear some of their jewelry, pray with their rosary, get a tattoo over your heart, walk in their shoes, see the blue sky and smile because it was their favorite kind of day--whatever it is, choose to keep them with you and don't let the sadness of their passing isolate or insulate you from the world.

Appreciate and notice the way other people keep your loved one's memories alive, too. Like the picture above of my father-in-law -- taking a walk on a blue-skied day (which his wife loved)-- and noticing the flag placed at half-staff at the entrance to their condo complex in memory of her. Beautiful.

Recognize those who traveled long distances to the funeral to honor your loved one-- and to support you in your time of need. Take note of how loved it made you feel when someone chooses to surprise you with that support, then remember to return the favor when the time comes.

In the months after a death many may offer you a random hug or a shoulder to cry on -- take them up on their offers of support and don't feel guilty when you laugh or joke and create a new memory with them.  You'll not only make them feel good by allowing them to help you, it just might be exactly what you need to move forward yourself.

If you know someone who has lost someone recently, send them a random note or text message after the funeral is over just to let them know you are thinking about them. Or call them to say "hi", even if you don't really know what to that the right words will come. It isn't what you say anyway, it is that you thought of them. It helps. They'll remember those gestures far longer than you think.

No matter how hard we try, our memories will fade a little. No doubt the littlest ones in our family will forget the face of their grandma or great grandma Ceal-- they might even forget the special way she read them stories or painted their toenails-- but there are pictures and videos filled with priceless reminders. And so many precious memories will live on in the hearts of those who loved her. I trust that my sisters-in-law, my own children and my nieces and nephew will make sure that no one who is a part of my mother-in-law's great legacy of love (current and future) will ever forget her.

I once remember thinking that when I passed on I wanted my life to be remembered as meaningful in some way, thinking at the time I had to do something remarkable to be worthy of being remembered.  Now I see that there is great meaning in living a life as simply you. Humble. Kind. Strong. Faithful. Loving. Constant.

Mom, you may have been tiny but your legacy is huge and you will always be remembered for the beautiful person you are.

P.S. And since I'm watching for the signs --- I'll see you soon.