Posts tagged love
Reflections on a Snowy Winters Morn
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Time goes faster the older I get. I didn't anticipate this as a kid sitting on my warm driveway soaking up the endless summer sun. I wish now I would have made a point of appreciating the freedom I had then, the clarity of thought, the uncomplicated simplicity of my life. But I was a kid, who knew that life would eventually roll along at so fast a pace it would seem there was no way to step off for a mindful moment?

My parents might have tried to tell me. But as a kid, who really listens to their parents?

I spent 2017 enjoying the moments directly in front of me, being 'present' as they say, and time didn't slow down at all. If anything, it seemed to move even faster. As I sit here reflecting on the year gone by, I so want to keep each precious moment of 2017 in my heart, relishing the cuddles from my sweet grand daughter, replaying the sound of her giggles and my husband's laughter as they played together, gazing up at the perfect blue sky of a summer day at the lake. Those little things fuel my soul and make my heart sing. I never want to forget them.

Another thing my parents may have tried to tell me way back when, is that everything changes, nothing ever stays the same.

The calendar turning to 2018 brings a brand spanking new chance to appreciate the moments right in front of me for another year. I know that I cannot recreate the ones I loved so much in 2017, but I have to remind myself there is no reason to think the new ones will be any less great.

I've learned at least one thing in my 55 years; you have to find your own joy. What things currently bring you happiness will change as you do, and as time goes by. Sometimes it means I have to dig deep for a silver lining and other times I have to fight to contain the awesomeness of the moment so I won't miss any second of it.

Life will be different for me this coming year as I can feel the winds of change blowing in. In the past I have tended to resist the unknown, to choose safe + familiar over new adventures, but I know if I do that I will become stagnant (again) and I do not want to waste this beautiful life of mine. So I will do my best to surrender to what will be.

In 2018 I will embrace what is, and graciously attempt to let go of what isn't. I will fill my heart with my own simple joys. I will continue to treasure all the moments with the members of my sweet family-- the little grand babies and nieces, my all grown up children and their significant others, the wise old ones (my parents), the one who is always my rock (my husband), and even with the ones that try my patience but give me the best of hugs. I will literally and figuratively "draw" out my own unique artistic talent by pushing past the self-critical voice I hear and find pride + promise in my work. And, I will allow my failures to be my lessons and my successes to be sweet reminders of my growth. I will shine in 2018. And if I am lucky, as I appreciate each wonderful moment, I will be able  to slow down time so I can enjoy life even more! .

Love + Blessings to you in the new year.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Finding Her Worth

And when she allowed herself to feel worthy—something shifted in her. Doors began to open that long had remained closed.

She stopped following everyone else’s rules.

And she began to think on her own.

She found if she listened close, she could hear her own heartbeat again.

With practice it grew louder, stronger, and braver.

Slowly, but with great emotion, she began to blossom.

Her magic began to return in little and big ways.

It started with great sadness at everything.

Then she began to notice beauty all around. Her corner of the world went from grey to brilliant, nearly overnight. She was filled with an energizing wonder. And fueled by awe.

There were leaves on the trees again, dragonflies who landed on her big toe, and sparkles of light on the water that she was certain were a million tiny angels waiting to play.

There was beauty in the sun, in the trees, and in the smiles of every person she encountered.

Her body felt lighter, freer and her spirit began to soar.

To fly.

Like she used to in her dreams when she was little.

In the worst of times she dreamed of tornadoes, teeth falling out, finding money that wasn’t really there and dirty bathrooms. She lived in fear, surrounded by worry, and desperately trying to control everything around her.

Now her dreams were of happier things.

Slowly she stopped being scared that she was doing it all wrong. She un-clenched the tight muscles of her body. She breathed.

Because the fear of screwing it all up had already happened. She had failed. She wasn't perfect, nor she realized, would she ever be. And dwelling on all her past mistakes, both large and small, only kept her trapped.

So she tried something new.

She began to believe in herself again. To take back her power.

And with the courage and joy that came along with the newfound freedom of following her heart, she allowed herself to start doing it all right.

Her way.

She rediscovered the magic.

She found the love.

And all that had once been a distant dream, a hopeful wish, became hers.

She not only began to flourish; she was able to breathe fully for the first time in forever.

 She listened to another voice inside now, and this one was kinder and gentler.

It forgave, it loved, it was compassionate. It didn't judge.

And it said all the right things to bolster her confidence.

And on the day when the voice told her she was indeed worthy of everything she ever dreamed.

She cried.

And cried.

Until the tears finally changed from sadness to relief. No longer were they heavy tears she tried to stem.

Instead the happy, joy-filled tears fell unabashedly, cleansing her soul of years of struggle.

And she began to float with the current, instead of frantically swimming upstream.

Her spirit felt hopeful.

The world was no longer the hostile, busy, noisy, draining place she had allowed it to be.

And since he was no longer fighting so hard to be something she was not, she was at ease in her body.

She became peaceful. Calm. Quiet. A better version of herself.

And when the now tiny mean voice inside tried to make her feel guilty for all the years she wasted trying so hard, she reminded it that it no longer had power over her. She was the one in charge.  

Now when she meets people who struggle like she once did, she wants to shout from the rooftops that it doesn’t have to be so hard. But she knows that everyone has to learn their lessons in their own time.

And nearly everyone not living authentically as their true self needs to hear a new gentler voice inside.

One that says all the right things.

You are worthy.

You are good.

You are loved.

You are blessed.

You are powerful.

You are enough.

Because she now knows if you believe in yourself, your whole world changes.

You CAN soar.

Dear Momma

I've been on a cleaning streak this weekend. I am delighting in the feeling of releasing my junk.

In clearing off my desk I realize that I write a lot. Sometimes I run across things worth posting. Here's one I thought was. It is a letter "Nollie" wrote to her Momma at Christmas. A reminder to all women how important it is to be the best "you", you can be for those who love you. Even if that means taking time out just for you without guilt, or daring to risk failure by following your dreams, or letting the house be dirty while you stop everything to giggle & play.

Stay present with your littles, dream big, take chances, love fully. If we keep ourselves "safe" and live in the 'I wish I would have', our littles may someday do the same. Soar baby. Soar. You've got this!

Dear Momma:

My little hands and little heart want you to know how much I love and appreciate you. To me you are the most beautiful person in the world, and I love you unconditionally. You ARE my world. I watch what you do to know how I should be and count on you for guidance as I grow and learn. Until I am bigger and can talk with words, I can only give you my unconditional love and trust in return.

Well, that and my smile –the one I save just for you—the one that I hope you see reaches all the way to my eyes and lights up my face, and my sloppy open mouthed kisses that show you that I want to eat you up because you are so yummy, and my night time cuddles where I get so close to you that I can smell you and feel your hair and your soft face so that I can feel safe and take in all your momma love to fill me up.

I am growing up fast. I am learning new things. I will always need your help to grow into the best me I can be. Even when I do have words and we argue or disagree. I will always need you to be my rudder, to keep me on track. Right now I want you to read to me, play with me, sing to me, dance with me, explain the world to me the way you see it and I also want you to teach me to dream, to write, to draw to create, to imagine and to tell me that I can be and do anything I choose to. Just like I know you can also achieve anything you really want to do or be.

I want you to also know that you never have to be anything more than “you” around me and I will always be proud that you are my momma. Because I will always love you. Unconditionally.

Some days I know that I challenge you, and as I grow I will probably challenge you more—just like some day you will challenge me. That is the way it should be. With unconditional love, we can be truthful and honest and agree to disagree and that is okay as long as we finish those moments with love and hugs. We will not run away from the tough stuff, we will face it together. That way I will know that it is okay if I make mistakes, and that you will still love me and believe in me, and so I can show you that it is okay if you make mistakes, too.

I know you have things in life you want to accomplish and for that I am so proud of you. Someday I too will have big things (bigger than walking or talking) that I want to accomplish also. I know you will be there to help me through, just as I am here to remind you that you are loved beyond measure and that you can get through anything with me at your side.  Some of the things we want to accomplish will be easier for us than others. I want you to know that I will be here to support you (and know that you will be there to support me, too) even if that just means holding my hand as I grow brave. To wipe my face, clean my poopy diapers, brush my hair, paint my toenails, teach me my colors and my numbers, show me how to navigate the world as my own person. Together we can be each other’s strength.

If things get tough for you I hope that you will feel my little hand in yours, giving you my love and support and encouragement for you to keep going. No dream is unachievable, no wish too great for you to receive. Hold hope, faith, and love in your heart like I will, and together we will be unstoppable.

I count on you to care for me and to inspire me every day. You will always be my sunshine. My comfort. My safe haven. My beloved Momma.

Remember to take care of yourself and be the best you you can be to show me the way.

I love you Momma with all my heart and soul. Thank you for being the best and only Momma for me.

Nollie, Dec. 2015

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.  

Namaste.

Dear Nollie...

...and all the sweet little girls I get to watch grow up--believe in your goodness. Value yourself and stay true to you.

As Grandma TT to a sweet baby girl who lives in our house, I have the unexpected pleasure of not only watching her grow and change daily, but helping guide her. Not a day goes by without me repeating positive affirmations to her sweet little face in hopes that she knows in every cell of her body, heart, mind and soul how loved and wanted she is.  Every time I look into her sweet face I think about all the things I want her to never forget.

Like how beautiful she is.

How strong she is.

How curious she is.

How intelligent she is.

How powerful she is.

I want her to hear those things so often she embraces all that she is and never lets anyone move her off her confident center. I hope she never doubts herself, or her instincts, and never gives anyone else the power to make her feel she is not enough.

If I had a dollar for every time I was told in the 50 years before understanding that I was a highly sensitive person that I asked too many questions, wanted too many details, had a lot of energy or was too intense-- I'd have a nice little nest egg saved up.

Instead those comments went straight to the heart of me and fueled the people pleaser in me who wanted to be liked by everyone, who thought I needed to change to fit in and who believed the goal was to be like everyone else. When in truth what I really needed was to accentuate my differences and be exactly who I was. Simply staying true to me would have been easier and so much less of a struggle in the long run.

I want to make sure Nollie knows exactly who she is, and loves herself fully for it.

As a highly sensitive mother raising a highly sensitive son I can look back and see the many mistakes I made. As Grandma TT, or Aunt TT I have a second chance to do it right. Nollie and all my beautiful nieces are going to know they are loved by me for exactly the unique people they are. Mistakes and all. They are not only going to believe in their uniqueness, but celebrate it---and in doing so will shine their brightest light.

And by doing that, they will change the world.

Believe in the power of you, Nollie. I sure do.

Love,

Grandma TT

 

At Rock Bottom is Grace

It is my experience that you don’t truly transform, until you hit rock bottom.

Or until your heart cracks wide open and you are finally no longer able to keep change from coming in. 

I absolutely remember my rock bottom and when my heart cracked open for good--it was loud and painful. I was in the midst of several big life changes, a new and (stressful to me) job, my youngest child growing up and fighting to do things his way, and a search for a greater meaning and purpose to my life.

I was alone in the house sobbing uncontrollably on a Friday night after a long and stress-filled week. I felt helpless, hopeless, and so far from myself I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Everything felt off. Wrong.

A mixture of shame, guilt, frustration, anger and all the other lower energies took control of me. The sobs came from deep within, the kind that leave a trail of snot and spittle on your shirt and sweat pits under your arms. My stomach hurt, my head hurt, and my heart hurt.  I remember being really scared I would not be able to summon the strength to pull myself back together again, to get myself under control if I let it all out. But keeping it in was no longer an option. My gut was burning.

What I see now looking back is that the breaking of my heart on that day in November of 2012 was not a falling apart to render me helpless, but a cracking open to heal. It was an answer to my prayers for wishing to live happier and freer. It was a letting go of the bottled up negativity that had held me hostage for way too long.

Lying on the basement floor, feeling broken and exhausted, I opened my eyes to the sound of another human being asking me what was the matter. It was the person who I might at the time have been the most worried about, most scared for and certainly the one I was feeling the most disconnected from. It was my youngest son Mitch.

At the time he was struggling with his own set of life issues, his having more to do with the friends he chose to hang out with and the choices he was making about his future. Mine revolved around my need to stay in control, to do things perfectly and to keep my Type A, control freak death grip on life in place. It was no longer working the way I was used to, and I was lost. I had fallen into a deep well of self-doubt and I couldn't find a way out.

His concern, his gentle words and the tender way he touched me, lifted me up and gave me courage to let it all out. I opened my eyes and out spilled all my regret over how I hadn't been the mom I had always wanted to be, how I had tried too hard to keep he and his brother safe and maybe in the process suffocated them and how everyone and everything was falling apart around me. Worst of all I was a mess and I considered myself a failure.  From my low place all I could see was what I had done wrong in my life.

There was no doubt I had gotten lost from my true self somewhere in the busy years of being a mom, wife and working woman. Yet beneath the controlling, judgmental, hypocrite I had become, Mitch still saw hints of the real me underneath the layers of pretend.

And with grace greater than I ever expected from him (or thought I deserved), he said the words I needed to hear. That I was not a parenting failure, that I was not a complete failure as a human being, that he, in fact, wanted to be more like me. Didn't I know that he wanted the kind of marriage, family and life his dad and I had for himself someday?

I looked out through my swollen eyes in disbelief and wonder, and I probably cried harder at that point, but the tears that streamed out were somehow softer, cleansing maybe, and I felt the tightness in my belly and chest begin to loosen. I believe now that this brief exchange at my rock bottom moment created a small space in my heart for the real healing to begin.

As Glennon Melton author of Carry On , Warrior so eloquently said: the call from God doesn’t just come once, if you missed it the first time (or the second or the third) he will find a way to reach you. To offer you that door again to see if you are ready.

I was clearly ready.

Up until that point in my life change had never my friend. Since the same old hadn't worked for me in years, it was time to try something new. When you hit rock bottom the only way to go is up. Changes began in me and around me from that point forward. I won't say the changes were always easy, I experienced many things I never thought I would, and yet I found myself dealing with them in much healthier ways. 

Slowly but surely the broken pieces of me fit back into place --- putting me together in a way I had never been before. Or at least in a way that I did not ever remember being. Creating a better version of me. A more authentic, stronger, happier me.

There is no doubt grace finds a way in through the actions of others, through unexpected acts of kindness and sometimes even through what seems to be a hopeless situation.

For most of my life I feared rock bottom. Now I see it was the solid ground I needed to get to before beginning my ascent.

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Changing the World with Unconditional Love

Twice now I am an almost Grandma. And some days it is bittersweet. 

For those of you who don't know, my youngest son had a baby boy just over a year and a half ago and gave him up for adoption to a beautiful couple who do not live far from us and who are gracious enough to let us be a part of his life. I hesitate to say out loud that I am his "Grandma" because he has two others of his own and I would never want to take away from that. It doesn't stop me however from loving him just as much as his own Grandma's do. I might not get to celebrate the big moments of his life and spend holidays with him (like they do) but he is never far from my heart or my thoughts.

 Most days I am content to sit on the sidelines sending my love and celebrating each milestone he achieves while appreciating how lucky I am that he is in my life at all. It is kind of ironic that one of my number one expressions of gratitude is that he is a part of my life ---and yet that seems to also be the number one thing that people feel the need to remind me of how lucky I am to have. (I know they mean well but it also makes me wonder if they think I am unable to recognize and appreciate that on my own). I do admit there are days when I shed tears of regret-- that the situation isn't different, that I am not a full -fledged Grandma, but mostly I just appreciate.

I biologically have two sons, and yet I also have an "almost" daughter. Most people assume almost daughter means that she is connected to one of my sons, as in daughter in law, but in this case she is not. She is my daughter, well at least she is a daughter in my heart. If she didn't already have a biological mother and an adopted mother, I would love to take on the full fledged mother role for her. But since she is already well covered in the mother department, I am often referred to as the "other mother". And technically the "other mother" has no real rights or significance. I just love her and support her as best I can while honoring that she will forever have her own "real" mothers.

When your "almost daughter" has a baby girl-- you become an "almost Grandma" or the "other Grandma". My almost daughter had a beautiful baby girl about three weeks ago. They currently live in our house until they can swing their own place. Happily I get to be "Grandma TT" for the time they live with me, even longer if I am allowed. And yes, in case you were going to remind me, I AM very thankful for the time I have with them.

Since I once again am not a "real" Grandma, I continue  to tread lightly so as to not step on the real Grandma's toes. (Knowing that you could lose your tentative place at any moment forces you to learn to appreciate every single precious second.)

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be fully and rightfully a legit Grandma who can be loud and proud and not have to worry about doing something wrong and losing my tentative place. I hope so. I'd like to think I have learned a lot of valuable life lessons in the last few years about unconditional love and that my presence will be a loving one in the lives of all of my "almosts."

For now I am thankful to have the opportunity to love on beautiful babies who I feel connected to and who I love as much as one heart can.

As this Mother's Day approaches it makes me appreciate (even more) my own mother and all the "other mothers" who have influenced my life so far. And it encourages me to send some serious gratitude to those "other mothers and grandmothers" I see stepping up to share their love, support and guidance with their "almosts" --simply because their hearts know no other way.

Unconditional love is awesome. I am convinced it has the power to change the world.

A Foundation of Strength

Life has an interesting way of teaching me lessons. As I work to right some of my old patterns of behavior and practice wholehearted and positive living, I seem to be tested at every turn. This year started off with great peace and a feeling that the loves of my life are healthy and well. And then things got rough.

We all  have those times where things literally fall apart, right? The dryer stops heating up, the furnace starts making funny noises and stops heating, the mailbox gets run over, and all of that is stressful and costly to fix, and you complain a little but understand that these things happen. And then the really big thing happens. You walk by a wall one night and discover wetness, then mold, and then this happens.

Followed by more discoveries of leakage. And this happens:

And now what once was your sanctuary AND your workspace resembles an abandoned building.

 

I've learned a couple of valuable lessons in short order. Things can always get worse, nothing lasts forever and ignoring your intuition can be costly. But I have also learned that I am very thankful for heat and a home, and jobs that allow us to make enough money to fix things that break.

As we dig into the source (s) of the water problem, it feels a lot like the digging in process I use to help others (and myself) move forward. We peel back layers of the house to get to the place where we can rebuild from. A place where there is a firm foundation. In the case of our house we need to dig down to where it is dry and solid and strong enough to hold us up. In rebuilding a human it is mining down to the place where we are most pure, honest with ourselves and free of untrue beliefs.  We cannot repair the damage for either in a day, but we can begin one step at time.

For the record, I'm good digging in with humans, the house mess just stresses me out.

I wish for everyone to be solid from the ground up. And I am aware that the process takes time and dedicated effort---yet I am also aware this is a process which does not allow you to cheat the corners or rush the reconstruction. You must begin at the beginning and work from there. One positive step at a time.

Who knew the healing of a structure whether it be a human or home involved the same slow process? To get to the root of the problem we must dig down deep to the foundation, smashing through walls and other barriers, revealing the truth, assessing the damage, then carefully extracting the old and sifting to finding the solid within. The beauty of all the work is in the rebuilding, the opportunity to create what you really wanted all along.

I believe anything strengthened in this way remains solid and steady enough to peacefully ride out any storm that comes next. I know this because if I had not spent the time fixing the structure that is "me", this current situation would have devastated me. Right now I am tired, and a little anxious, but confident that we will come out with a positive solution (and a healthy and clean house).

At times we all struggle, and in that place we are not alone. What we need to remember is that we always have access to peace and love and an inner strength that can fortify us, provided we know how to access it.

I am determined not let this setback shake my foundation. I remain thankful for solid roots, love and an open and trusting heart. I will let love guide me. Let hope lift me. And let faith fuel me.

This quote from Prayers To The Great Creator by Julia Cameron spoke to me this morning:

The Universe Funds Me With Strength

In times of adversity, I remember I am strong enough to meet the challenges of my life. I am equal to every situation, a match for every difficulty. Sourced in the power of the Universe, I allow that power to work through me. I meet calamity with strength, I have stamina. Rather than draw on limited resources, I draw on the infinite power within me that moves through me to accomplish its good. I am fueled by all the love, all the strength there is. Loving strength melts mountains. I am ever partnered and supplied by universal flow. Knowing this, I do not doubt my strength, I am strong and secure.

My Christmas Miracle

I have tears of happiness in my eyes today.

I was granted one of my greatest wishes this weekend.

I was able to babysit my sweet grandbaby two evenings in a row. I got to feed him dinner, change his diaper, play balls and cars with him, give him a bath, read him a story, cuddle him and tell him how much I love him. I got to watch his little face express determination, curiosity, silliness, happiness, frustration and deep intelligence. I saw him walk, not crawl across the room for the first time and I was reminded of how busy a little boy can be.

I do not take those things for granted.

If you are reading a post of mine for the first time you may not know that my son gave his son up for adoption. And by the grace of God it is an open adoption and I am able to know my grandson; a gift so incredible it never fails to move me. Or to start the gratitude to his adoptive parents flowing.

This weekend I was able to watch my husband, the love of my life, be a real grandpa--- to make his grand baby laugh, teach him how to bounce a big ball, bathe him and rock his soft little body to sleep. I was able to see three generations of boy put together a racetrack.

I was also gifted the special moment of experiencing my baby reading a bedtime story to his baby and of seeing the sweet look of love on his face as he rocked him to sleep, their two hearts beating as one for a moment in time. I will lock that moment in my heart forever.

What a gift.

What a joy.

What a blessing.

I will treasure the wonderment of having Ford reach his hand back for mine as I stood by his crib, as if to make sure I was still there.

It made me see that love is all that matters.

It made me wish for him to know that anytime he reaches for it, my hand will be there for the taking. And as he tucked it in close to his chest I felt my heart melt with a rush of unconditional love so big it overwhelms me even now.

It inspired this Christmas Wish:

Ford-- I hope you know that I will always be there to take your hand when needed. I will love you from afar and take every chance I can to be present in your life so that you always know how special, wanted and loved you are. Ashley and Travis, I wish you to know how much I appreciate your grace and trust, and to explain that no matter how hard I try I will never be able to fully express the depth of my gratitude to you for allowing us to know your son.What may seem weird to others is nothing short of a miracle to me. You have inspired me to share grace in any way I can throughout all situations in my life. Your kindness brings me to my knees. When others doubt or question your choices in regards to allowing my little family to know Ford, please remind them that adoption goes both ways with healing. As much as you needed Ford, we needed you to provide for him what we could not. And letting go was the greatest way we knew how to show grace. Allowing us to be a small part of Ford’s life has not only been healing; it has been life changing. I wish for them to see us as additional support, and not as a threat. We never wish to compete with or intrude on the wonderful life you all have made for Ford. We only wish to let him and you know that he is surrounded by loved on all sides.

This Christmas miracle has inspired me from this moment on to take every opportunity I am offered to show LOVE, share LOVE, spread LOVE, and receive LOVE.

Because love is all that matters.

And I will keep the sweet scent of my grand baby’s freshly washed hair in my nostrils, the feel of his little hand in mine, and the joyful sound of his happy giggle in my heart as I head intochallenging times.  When I feel lost or scared I will remember the sweetness of his heart beating next to mine as I rocked him to sleep, and I will know that everything will be okay.

Related blogposts:

The View From Here

My Glass is Truly Half Full

The Here and Now

Growing Into Me

Photo Credit: Terri Spaulding

You know how thinking back over time you can recognize life changing moments, doors that you went through that changed your life forever?

I had one today.

Someone I love (but haven't seen for a while) asked me how I was doing via a short text conversation.

And I immediately answered back: I'm the best I have ever been.

And damn if I didn't mean it. Wholeheartedly. Honestly. Joyfully.

I am doing great. I feel good. NO, I feel great. I feel at peace. I feel purposeful. I feel loved. I feel happy. I feel at ease with me.

It is the best feeling in the world. It is like I got new glasses with a stronger prescription and I can finally see the leaves on the trees again.

Everything is beautiful. Everything makes sense. Everything is going to be okay.

Just needed to share this so I never forget. And so you'd know there is always hope that you can make changes for the better, too.

If I Told You...

Photo Credit: Terri Spaulding

If I told you that you were going to die tomorrow, would it change the way you live today?

It should.

This question may seem irrelevant because you are probably not going to die tomorrow and no one could predict it anyway. But I believe the question should make you do more than think.

It should be a catalyst to bring on changes. Changes that move you into the present moment and out of the future or the past.

If you, like me, have spent way too much of your precious life here on earth doing things that didn't really matter, you might feel a pang of remorse when you ponder the question.

A twinge of regret for the moments lost, adventures rejected, and connections missed while you went about accomplishing all your ridiculous goals. Or a pang of sadness for all the frustrating attempts to prove yourself worthy that ultimately resulted in added  disappointment. You might even experience some reservation at the out of character actions you took trying to be accepted, included and appreciated.

And nothing grabs at a girl's heart more than realizing how silly it was to try to control the future by planning the life out of everyone and everything around her, even if it all started with good intentions.

For highly sensitive people like me, fitting into a world where you feel you stand out (for all the wrong reasons) is sometimes a major objective, a vision clouding objective. We get caught up in the doing, and we forget about the being. What we don't realize is that when we try so hard to 'fit in', those little compromises we make occur at the expense of our souls and eventually mess with our self-worth.

When we don't live in the present, we put off things that matter thinking we will have time to do it later. Until later comes and we comprehend all the missed opportunities.

I'm sure you've heard the saying many times 'live each moment like it is your last'  and maybe you, like me, would pause and reflect for a moment on where you were spending your time and attention, and then go right back to doing things the way you have always done.

When I finally recognized my life was not heading in the right direction, I changed it.

And in doing so not only changed my life, but the lives of those I love. What greater inspiration is there than leading by example?

So many good changes have come from being more aware, from living in the moment right in front of me. For a long, long while I forgot how to appreciate. I was so caught up in planning it all out, in accomplishing things, in making sure that I was responsible and productive, that I lost "me" and life delivered me to my lowest moment. I was emotionally and physically exhausted from all that striving. And I realized I was missing the joyous parts of life.

If you knew that today was your last day--how many people would you want to see, talk to, hug, write a letter to, or tell how much they have meant to you? If you knew you were going to die tomorrow wouldn't you want to spend the minutes of your last day doing things that matter.

I would.

A while back I started to get the sense that my time was limited. Not in an I-am-going-to-die-tomorrow way, but like a wake up call to pay attention to all the little moments I was missing. Stopping to smell the roses was not in my original plan. It is the only plan now.

One moment at a time. One person at a time. One honest declaration of love, one heartfelt I'm sorry, one please forgive me, one hug filled with positive energy, one thank you so much, one I am listening, I see you, I hear you, one you can do it! Those are the moments that matter.

What would you do differently if this were your last day?

There is time to make a change. Follow your heart. Go on an adventure. Do absolutely nothing. Believe in yourself. Whatever it is that is different than what you usually do; do it. And do it with all the focus you can muster, as if it were the last time.

If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

— Dr. Wayne Dyer
The Here and Now

Putting their beautiful heads together. My son playing with his son. A treasured moment in time.

I haven't written anything about my grand baby in a while.

I don't often even say the words ''I am a grandma" or "I have a grand baby."  So most people I meet never even know. I would like to talk about it more, but I don't feel I have much right. You see, my "baby" created a baby and ultimately gave him up for adoption. It could have been a devastating thing, but by some miracle it was an open adoption, and the adoptive couple is gracious and inclusive and a perfect fit for little Ford. We get to see him. Joy of joys.

I've been keeping our interaction 'close to the vest" as the saying goes, not because I am embarrassed about what happened, or worried what others will think, in fact I am really proud of the decision my son made in doing what was best for his child. I am not sure I would have had the courage to make the same decision myself. I am simply not sharing because it hurts too much. It's an open wound.

I suppose I hide it fairly well, my inner sadness that is, but it doesn't stop it from lingering.

It might always be there. Like a hole in my heart. A wish unfulfilled. A dream that crashed and burned. You know, one of those feelings. I am strong enough not to let it rule me, or hold me back, but it when it surfaces, it is painful. Raw. Open.

It used to be that every time I saw a photo of Ford it made me tear up. It isn't like that anymore. I still feel the tug, but it isn't sadness exactly that immediately rushes to the surface--Ford's happy smile in Facebook pics never fails to fill my heart with love, awe and gratitude. But that tug, the one I experience in the area of my heart when I see his picture in everyday life---feels like a sadness, for at least a minute or two.

Until I bring the focus around to him and his happy family. And remember that this is the way it is supposed to be.  And all is well. This isn't about me. Even though it sometimes feels like it is. It feels like a direct sign that I have been judged and have fallen short, so now I have to suffer this loss of my grandchild. Kind of like a punishment for what I should have done, what I should have known.

I know the "tug" I feel is selfish in nature. Self-critical. A waste of energy. But it doesn't stop it from happening. It is a powerful combo of regret and resolution, and a resignation that I don't get a second chance to do it right with Ford.

Ford will never be fully "mine" in the way I wish he could be. It just wasn't meant to be the way I dreamed it to be. He has a couple of other grandma's who see him regularly, who babysit him often, who get the sleepovers and the vacation time I crave with him.

Parenting is a huge responsibility and I have never been anything but conscientious about any responsibilities that have landed on my plate. Problem is, I got too caught up in doing parenting "right", by the book as I had been shown and taught, and I forgot to make time to  enjoy it.

I forgot to have fun. It should have been fun, darn it. But that is not what I remember... and my kids and husband probably don't remember it that way either.

Oh don't get me wrong, I could have done a worse job. I am not saying I was a complete failure, I did manage to keep everyone safe and clean, accident and germ free (for the most part), but I missed all the little precious moments that I can never get back. The moments of being. Of appreciating. Of enjoying. And somehow I allowed my children to think that they were not good enough, as they were. My focus was always on the future... an if you would have done this, then this...kind of a thing. I was taught that from a young age. It didn't serve me. And it didn't serve my children.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.  It was so wrong for me to continue that belief. So far from the truth of what is really important.

I have lived 50 years with a mean inner critic. She isn't about to sit back and not take the opportunity to scold me about this. I recognize that I wasn't the best parent I could have been. I know I had the right intentions, but my execution sucked. While I am not one to dwell on would've, could've should'ves---I would take a do over if I could.

Knowing my grand baby is not really mine and that I won't get a second chance to do it right with him, makes me sad. Really sad. Unexplainably devastated. Because I want(ed) another chance to do it right.

I give out a lot of advice these days. To others. And I firmly believe in living your truth. The good parts and the bad. So I get it. I know I have to be okay with acknowledging that I tried my best with my kids. It might not have been good enough, but it was my best. I did it with the right intentions. With love. 

And I have to be okay with knowing I won't have the luxury of fully being Ford's grandma and learning to appreciate his little habits and quirks. I once imagined having lazy days of babysitting where I'd get to be 100% focused on my grandchild, without any distractions and free from the responsibility of doing it right. As a grandparent it wouldn't be all up to me--I could be the kind of person I always wanted to be.  I could Spoil. Meander. Play. Indulge.

But it isn't meant to be. Not yet.

So parents...spoil your kids with your time and love. Love every second of your time with them: the good and the bad. Savor those sleepy weekend mornings, the movie time snuggling (even if it is for the the 50th time), and the slow walks in the woods. The ones where you never actually get anywhere. Let your kids get dirty, play in the rain, and stay up so late they see the moon. Let them wear mismatched shoes out in public and not think it is a reflection on your ability to parent;  let your kids instead be proud they dressed themselves.

Live in the moment. Your example of living in and acknowledging the "now", will be so much more important than keeping your house clean or getting the laundry done.

I see so many young parents doing it right these days and I am so happy for them --and at the same time sad that I wasn't smart enough to have done the same.

Stop trying to follow the advice of your parents and grand parents --chances are when they do become grandparents--they will be attempting to make up for the time they lost, too. Trying to right wrongs they were taught to believe in.

What I would do differently.

Show your kids by example what is really important. Listen to them. Answer them to the best of your ability. Align your words and actions. Spend time --QUALITY time--with them, sharing everything you can. Stop making a plan for everything, instead give yourself time to just enjoy the moment. Even if the moment has you feeling frazzled, tired, frustrated, or exasperated.  Learn to appreciate that you will never have that moment again.

Be present, and also be the best parent you can be in the present moment. Don't save your best self for an opportunity for a do over with your grand baby that may never come.

I understand that my adorable grandson is exactly where he is supposed to be, and with who he is supposed to be with. That makes my heart happy, and now most of the time when I look at a picture of him, it makes me smile with joy that at least he is in my life. No matter if it is different than I once thought. No matter that my do over, my second chance will have to wait.

Related posts: 

http://get-off-go.squarespace.com/blog/my-heart-is-full

http://www.getoffgo.com/blog/the-view-from-here

One cool dude is right.

Don't Wanna Be Just Like You

There are life changing moments and there are life defining moments.

My life defining moment came at the lowest point of my life. From the person I was most worried about. Not sure what set me off on this particular day, but I hit my rock bottom.

Sad, lonely, depressed, stuck, anxious, scared.....I was sitting in our basement miserable in my puddle of tears. No one else was home. I think I chose this day to crack as I knew it was too scary to share this breakdown with anyone anyway. I just needed to let it all out, face my darkness and start crawling out of the hole I had dug for myself. I was tired of trying so hard to be perfect and seeing the reminders every day of how much I had failed at exactly that.

In the throes of my sobbing from that deep deep part of me, I heard a noise behind me. It was Mitch. He was suddenly there. Oh boy. It was too late to stop the flow, the release-- there was no way I would be able to collect myself and pretend that everything was okay.

He asked: What's wrong mom? Are you okay? He gave me a hug which just made me cry more.

"No"-- was all I could manage. No I thought, how can I be okay when the world feels like it is crashing around me. Everything I worked so hard to control is crashing and burning right in front of me. Even you. Especially you. I am scared for you, worried for you, lost in how to reach out to you.  Tired of trying and failing and trying and failing. At being a mother. At being a career woman. At being happy. At being me.

I have no idea what I am doing. Fresh tears tore through my gut. My heart. My whole self.

I think I said something to the effect of: "I will be okay."

But I didn't feel okay. It was a lie at that moment. I didn't feel like it would be okay at that moment. Or ever. I was sorry. I was sorry for being sorry. I was lost. I was unhappy. My stomach hurt 24/7 and I wasn't sleeping well either. I was just plain miserable. And ready for a change.

But what came out of my mouth was a mom thing:  "I will be okay I just need to let this all out."

"Sorry for what?" he queried.

"Everything. Everything I ever did wrong." I said.

Everything I have screwed up with you. With Alec. With Sadie. I am so sorry I thought.

"Mom, I am fine. I will be fine. You and dad are the best people I know. I want to be just like you when I grow up." And there were nicer words that followed but I cannot remember them. I could not hear them.

His first words struck a chord deep down in my misery.

What? Did he really just say what I think he said?

I stopped crying. And I began to breathe again.

From this seemingly unlikely source, the person I felt most disconnected from, and was most worried about--came the exact words I needed to hear to begin my journey forward. Back to me.

What I wasn't quite yet ready to admit to my son at that moment was this:

I am a joke. I am 50 years old and I have no idea what I am doing or how to really be me. One thing I know for sure is you do not want to be just like me.

You want to be just like YOU.

You are more than enough just the way are. No changes needed --just find and keep your center. It is the heart of you and all that is good. It is all you ever need.

Stay true to you. Don't let the world dumb you down, keep you safe, or stop your dreams. Live as YOU and the rest of your life will fall into place. Don't do things to please others, which is not to say don't be nice to others or show compassion and thoughtfulness, that is important too.

Just do what you know to be right for you --do not lose touch with your center and what feels right, though this is the secret no one tells us as kids. You are born knowing what is right for you.

We learn it someone else's way, through someone else's filter when we are young. And that is where the trouble starts, the losing our own center part.

My way is just that --my way.

And that means that your way is just that also ---your way.

Both are right. And both are occasionally wrong.

Both are enough. Both are important. Both are necessary.

Son of mine, you are: right, enough, important, necessary and LOVED.

 

Letting Go With Love

Dragonflies were all around me this past weekend. They are symbols of change and transformation.

The theme for weeks now has been letting go. And I am doing a pretty decent job of that. So far I have let go of worrying about my grown children --and instead say prayers to keep them surrounded by protective light and positivity. I have let go of doing, and have moved toward just being. I now after years of constant motion, finally allow myself to relax and say "no" when I feel the need. When a to-do list (former accomplishment freak here) begins to take over my head, I breathe deeply and just think of the most immediate thing I need to do, and I start (and sometimes even end) right there.

Perhaps the hardest part of letting go is watching those I care about in various stages of suffering and recognize that unless I am asked, it is not my deal to fix.

My "spidey sense" always sees right down to the heart of most matters, and it always sees possible solutions. I've come to learn that just because I see a possible solution does not mean I need to do anything about it. That part is the most difficult thing to let go of. I hate to see people hurting and I want to help, but I also have learned the hard way --it is not my deal. Everyone has their own lessons to learn, their own journey to take--just as I have mine.

I wonder if some people's ultimate life lesson is to learn to be vulnerable enough to ask for help. To stop trying to do things all by themselves and to be open to considering things from another perspective. I especially wonder this when I see people miss multiple opportunities to learn a lesson, and repeat the same mistakes without much growth or awareness. Sometimes I wish they'd ask for help---and really be ready to hear what I have to say.

Being empathic and recently understanding that I can keep my energy separate from the energy of others around me, has proven invaluable in keeping my peaceful inner center and my focus more properly directed inward.

"This is me (drawing an imaginary circle around myself) and this is you (drawing the same imaginary circle around the other person). This visual helps me keep myself in check. Although I can feel your pain, and read your emotions, the responsibility to do something to alleviate that pain is not mine. Where I once used to take on your pain as my own, I now am able to feel it and discern it isn't mine, and let it go. At least for now. At least until you ask me for help.

Empathy is an interesting thing. So many years I lived and loved clueless that not everyone lived and loved in the same way I did. It all makes so much sense now. And, well, it brings up a lot of questions, too.

It for sure makes me sorry for sticking my nose in where it did not belong. For offering help when I was not  actually asked.

To my kids: I truly did not understand that I experienced the world differently.  I wanted to smooth the bumps in the road that I saw so clearly ahead for you. Silly me, I thought it would save you the suffering. I never meant to take away your power. I did not ever wish to make you feel less than. And I have certainly never stopped believing in you.

My years of barging through barriers are over. I plan to stay centered, yet ready to help when I am asked. I'm here if you need help. Always. Because I have "let go" does not mean that I love you less, it just means I recognize that your struggle is YOUR struggle. Your lesson. And I cannot learn it for you, nor save you the pain of living it.

Just know that I will listen without judgment, and provide an armful of solutions should you wish for them. I am here when you are ready.

It feels really good to finally get it.


Finding My Essence

Big Star Lake

You have the power within you. Those words might be the only mantra I need for life. Now that I realize their truth, they are my answer for everything.

I've been wearing the ruby slippers for years and hadn't realized their power. My power.

To do Anything. Everything. or Nothing.

Why did I spend so many years giving up my power to others? Questioning my own intuition. Thinking I needed someone else's buy in to my ideas to make things happen. Why didn't I trust myself more?

I do now and I am not about to give up that power again.

In recent weeks I have recognized my ability to be fully me. To say yes when I mean yes, and no when I mean no. To go forward when I recognize that I am on the right path. To be connected with others when I want to and also to recognize my body's warning signs when I need time to dis "connect", or to as I call it "turtle in". To see the positive in the situations around me where I once might have focused on the negative.

Life is so much less complicated now. The drama is outside of my bubble. I have an inner peace that rocks.

Today I sat outside and appreciated the beauty of the lake before me. I appreciated the fantastic life I have been blessed to live. My beautiful talented soft-hearted boys, my gorgeous husband, my often crazy family who make me laugh and cry, and the many "others" who think that I am something special and call upon me to be their safe haven.

The sheer wonder of such a great life caused tears to leak. No one was around to see or notice, so I'm sharing that secret with you.

I'm not sure why I ever lost the ability to appreciate every. single. thing. about my life, but I am sure glad that gratitude is back in full force.

Happy. Happy. Happy. And so fully blessed!


Happy Anniversary to the Man of My Dreams

My dream boat.

Fact.

I met the man of my dreams at age 17. He however, was not yet convinced that I was the girl of his dreams, at least not for a while. Four things cemented my surety that he was the one for me in record time.

1. He had the kind of eyes I'd only read about in my Harlequin romance novels. You could get lost in them. They had the power to make me feel like I was the most beautiful girl in the world. They still do.

2. He kissed me for the first time in a closet wearing a toga--it was the best kiss I'd ever had, and to this day it remains untouchable. It might have been the way he held my face as if I was precious, or it might have been the way I felt perfectly safe with him (in a closet at a college toga party, a week after meeting him).  Either way I will never forget that kiss.

3. He is the first (and only boy) to ever sit by my bed and help me through a night of drunken sickness. It wasn't pretty. I am sure I smelled like the worst kind of gross. He never made me feel dumb for asking for him to come and sit by my bed (when I barely even knew him and wasn't even officially dating him) or for smelling like poo. All I know is that he was there for me when I needed him.

Hair styles and clothing styles may have come and gone but one thing remains constant, love.

4. He is the only person who can make me laugh, cry, scream in frustration, shake my head in confusion, feel like the prettiest girl in the world, and keep me grounded and safe, while giving me wings to fly. He is my biggest fan, my greatest cheerleader and my inspiration. No one has ever come close to accepting me for who I am like he has. 

29 years ago today.

Today marks 29 years we have been married. I was in love with him for four years before that. Clearly I have been with Mike longer than I have been without him. Looking back on the day we took our wedding vows I really had no idea what through thick and thin even meant. Sickness and health, yeah I understood that part. Love, honor and cherish should have been a no brainer as well. Thick and thin....who knew?

Our time together hasn't always been rosy. Let's be real, you don't start out as kids and end up as parents, then over fifty grown ups without a few rough patches. I married my best friend at 22. Our oldest son is 22, I can't imagine him getting married now. Heck,  I can't imagine us getting married at that age. I wasn't even fully formed yet (thus the rough patches).  I changed. He changed. We changed. We grew apart. We grew together. We had children. Things got busy. Then busier. Then our children grew into teenagers. Things got very hard. Soon many of those things you think are never going to happen to your kids; happen. Your world is rocked. And either you find a safe place to land together or you split.

Some people we know didn't make it through the tough times. Some stayed together for the kids. Some stayed together for the kids and then split.  And some are still just going through the motions.

Yet some, like us, survived the storms, came out stronger on the other side and are loving the chance to explore life together again.

I remember people who said we would never last when we first started dating. At first it scared me because I thought they might be seeing something that I didn't. And then as time went on I knew that the truth was that no one was seeing what I could see. No one made me feel the way Mike did. No one accepted me for who I was, loved me anyway, and somehow inspired me to get up each day and be a better version of myself.

I cannot really remember life without Mike. I do not want to contemplate a future without him. I am my own person and he is his, but together we are a unit, a team. Unstoppable.

When I am down, he is strong and reminds me that I am enough. When he is down I am there to let him know that he means the world to me and to remind him that he is the best person I know.

He snores. He tailgates. He saves way too much stuff. And he also fixes everything and anything. Perfectly. He cares for everyone around him, is always willing to help someone out and knows the exact right thing to do in any situation. I love him dearly for being my rock. And for making me laugh like no other (sometimes at him). Most of all I love him for knowing me better than I know myself most days....

I am blessed to be his wife, best friend, and mother of his children.

We are blessed to be better together than we ever were apart. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thankful for life with him by my side and also for our children--our boys and our almost daughter--and the many others who allow us to "parent" them from time to time, our loving and fun families, all our friends and our adorable grand baby.

Happy 29th Anniversary to the man of my dreams. I have loved you since I was 17 and didn't really even know what that meant yet, and I will love you forever. I hope we have 29 more years to grow stronger together.

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 say....trust 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.

 

 

 

Minutes From Heaven

Christmas 2013

As I sat at the computer this morning with my beautiful mother-in-law on my mind, and having just re-read my post about Angel Addie, I didn’t realize she was taking her final steps into the light of Heaven. I knew the end of her time here on earth was near, after an early morning phone call and several texts I’d received as my husband made his way to Jackson, but not that it was actually happening while I sat and let my tears and words flow. It comforts me now to know that even though I wasn’t physically there with her and the rest of the family ---I was thinking of her—and connected in spirit---at pretty much the exact moment she moved on.

My husband feels bad that he missed being at her bedside by only minutes because he thoughtfully stopped on his way into town to get some food for everyone who had stayed over at the house. He feels guilty thinking she was holding on for him to get there, and the food stop caused him to miss her passing by mere minutes. 

What if she wasn't waiting for him to physically arrive, instead she just wanted to make sure he was safely back in town and ready to step in and be a calming force in the sea of ensuing sadness her departure was sure to leave?  I think what she needed most was to know that everything and everyone would all be okay --and his place wasn't to actually be with her in those final moments, but to facilitate her peaceful release by giving her the last piece of reassurance she needed that it was okay to go. Once she knew he was in line paying for those donuts she was able to let go of any lingering doubt and leave peacefully.

I hope that is how it will be for me someday --- when I am minutes from Heaven, I too will just want reassurance that my family will all be okay.

Here is what I was writing as my mother-in-law met Jesus. I was even playing the song she loved, too. http://youtu.be/N_lrrq_opng

Dear Mom:

You are minutes from Heaven and I am so thankful that of all the mother in law’s in the world, I was lucky enough to get you. These past two years while you have raged your battle against cancer, you have done so with such grace.

As I wait here praying that the angels bring Mike safely to your side, the tears are slowly falling.

We will miss you here in this world but know that you are heading home and you are not scared. You are ready. We were the ones not quite ready for you to leave us. Your obvious excitement at meeting Jesus however has given us comfort that you will be more than okay in your new home.

This is hard sitting here and waiting. I see why so many have trouble letting their loved ones go. We don’t want you to leave. But we also do not want you to suffer. So go peacefully mom. Don’t fight the light and the extended hands of those who have gone before you. They are patiently waiting for you as well. I know Grandma Wallis is first in line—say hi to her for me will you? And hugs and love to Grandma and Grandpa Spaulding.

Mike is almost there. I don’t want to call him because I don’t want him to start driving faster to get there, either you will wait or you will be drawn to the light just before he gets there. The timing will be perfect whatever it turns out to be.

It is interesting that yesterday I celebrated Addie’s life and felt her presence so strongly all day and now today you will be joining her in Heaven.

Will we feel you, will you send us signs? I hope so. It is so comforting to be able to know that love never really ends – it changes sure, but we will still feel your love and send our love to you. Always and forever, until we meet again. XO

Your daughter in love.

Happy Anniversary to the One I Love

DSC_0329Today is our 28th wedding anniversary.

It is super hard to believe that it was 1985 when we got married. It sounds like forever ago and yet it feels like only yesterday.

As college sweethearts we were all fresh-faced, in love and completely naïve to what life had in store for us. Two kids, two houses and a cottage later, we are still together. Solidly together. But it has not always been a piece of cake; we've had our challenges, the inevitable ups and down, and yet somehow we worked through them all and have come out the other side -- stronger together.

I recognize that we are among the lucky ones.

I suppose as a kid I always assumed that life got easier as we grew up. Not sure how I came to that conclusion, I guess grown ups just seemed to have things together and made it look easy. I always aspired to be like them. Little did I know that with grown up lives come grown up responsibilities. It isn't easier -- it is just more complicated. The stakes are higher. And there is no one to fix things for you.

Raising our boys, with all their busy hands and minds,  and later endless activities --- seemed like that was going to be the most stressful time in life. Working, being a mom of two little ones, staying involved, keeping the house clean, food stocked, clothes washed, remembering to be a wife, a friend, a daughter a sister --- it all can seem overwhelming when you are in the middle of it. Especially when you are always striving to cross the next thing off your to-do-list---like I always was.

I spent many years trying to get control of things I should have just let go of. Who cares if my house is messy or dusty, or the baseboards have never been washed....are you really supposed to clean them? Who looks anyway.

I've learned the importance of slowing life down, of being present, of throwing aside the to do list when someone needs you, and in not living for tomorrow or next week. I'm learning to linger in the present and make each day count.

I am learning to appreciate the little things. Like...

Walks in the sun. Holding hands. Cuddles. A cat call (or two) when I wear something nice. Generous hugs. Smiles. Belly laughs. A kiss just because. A compliment I wasn't expecting. A "how is your day" text. Comfortable silences. The warmth of falling asleep beside the one you love on a cold dark night.

And the relief I feel from the certainty that when I am at my wit's end, my husband will take over for me--no questions asked.

I love that about him.

His little gestures of thoughtfulness and respect mean so much more to me than expensive presents ever could---finding the coffee made for the next morning, laundry folded and put away, the windows washed, the milk replaced in the refrigerator, my computer fixed, whatever I needed help with done when I get home exhausted after a late meeting. Every small thing means so much.

6 months ago when he said: "Just quit your job. I'm not worried you will find another. You will figure it out." I darn near melted.

When someone believes in you that much all things are possible.

28 years ago today I married my best friend. It continues to surprise me how much more I love him every day. Every once in a while I realize that we are not the spring chickens we once were and I try even harder not to take anything for granted. I want a lot more years with my husband, and I certainly do not want it to whir by as fast as the first 28 did.

My house might never be truly clean again. I don't cook homemade meals like I once did, at least not very often. I'm learning not to care. But I am so lucky that even on the darkest days (and there have been some lately) I have great strength by my side. Together I know we can get through whatever challenges life throws at us.

Happy Anniversary to the man I love. It is truly a joy to be your wife.

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