Tag Archive | family

Swinging With Mom

swingingwith mom

There are times in life when we question whether the truth should be revealed or if we should leave well enough alone.  Having a parent with Alzheimer’s, I hop on the porch swing with Mom daily.  Growing up in the South, her childhood home had a porch swing which we all remember fondly.  Due to her disease though, I never know where we are on the porch swing when we come together to enjoy an afternoon.  Sometimes we are in the past, sometimes we are in the present and sometimes reality gets muddied.  It changes sometimes very quickly so I am never sure where she is at any given moment.

Mom is a happy and healthy otherwise.  When she is in the moment, a great Present of Presence, we talk about the day and enjoy a chocolate milkshake because everything is happier with ice cream.  We laugh and joke and nothing makes me feel better than to hear her laugh.  I will say outrageous things to her just to see if she’s actually listening to me or if she is taking her cues from reading my expression.  I will ask her to recount  funny stories from her past, sometimes initializing stories I have heard hundreds of times before, just to hear her tell them to me again and to share a laugh.

Her sister passed away earlier this year and because they lived in the same home, it was hard on Mom.  With Alzheimer’s, they stay calm in the moment when something doesn’t trigger a memory and believe me, I try to stay in the moment with her often.  But when I went to visit the other day, chocolate milkshakes in hand as per our tradition, after a few moments, she told me how sad she was that her sister Mable had passed away.  I wrote about it here.  She told me how she missed her and how she was sad that she hadn’t attended her funeral.  I assured her that she had and that she had been with her whole family, seen her childhood home and reminisced over countless photos surrounded by her loving extended family.  She listened carefully and calmly told me she didn’t remember any of it, but that she was grateful that she had been there.

Then she began to talk about my Dad who passed away years ago.  She was angry that he hadn’t been talking with her and she didn’t know where he was.  She was embroiled in the hurt and anger that she felt because he wasn’t here with her.  I debated for quite awhile as she told her side of the story and how if he wasn’t talking with her, then she would not reach out to him (mind you, she didn’t know how to get in touch with him).  I took her hand in mine, looked into her eyes and spoke the words I dreaded saying again.

Mom, I am sorry to tell you this, but Daddy passed away.

What?  He’s dead?  Tears began to well up in her eyes and I immediately felt so badly.  We have had this conversation countless times since he passed away and it hurt me to tell her and have her hurt again.  But in my heart, I didn’t want her to feel that he had abandoned her by not being here.

Yes, Mommy.  He passed away a few years ago.

Oh, I didn’t know.  Oh my, where is he buried?  Did I go to the funeral?

As I began to answer her questions, it soothed her to know that she had indeed been there, that his funeral was greatly attended and then I threw in a few giggles that only our family could at a time like this – because I couldn’t stand seeing her so upset.  I soothed her sadness with love and light and hugged her, trying to heal her hurting heart.

I guess I”m losing my mind here.  I just don’t remember anymore.

It’s ok.  It happens to the best of us Mom.

It’s better sometimes to allow the grief to fade and to concentrate on today, on our milk shakes and our happy times.

So, I snuggled up to her, like only a daughter can, on her bed, by her side, holding her as if she were my daughter and reversed the roles.  She held on tightly in my embrace and my heart overflowed with sadness and yet, with gratitude for this one precious moment.

Moms comfort their children throughout their lives.  That’s what we do.  But sometimes, there comes a time when the roles reverse and we are our Mother’s Mother.  We comfort and soothe in the maternal way we learned through our Moms.

I wish she didn’t have this disease for it has robbed her of her memory.  But I am also truly grateful that she remains in there, loving us with all her might and knowing who we are.  Sometimes we just know that these moments are precious and are to be treasured.  Isn’t that what life’s about?  Stringing together those precious pearls of connection?  And swinging on a porch swing, sipping a chocolate milkshake and enjoying the calm in a Southern hospitality way?

Shine On!

xo

 

The Benefits In Troubles and Challenges

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If you read the title of my post today and scoffed, I don’t blame you.  When I wrote it, I scoffed a bit too because frankly, who wants to be grateful for troubles and challenges?  Heck, those are things we shy away from, even run from as fast as possible!

Who is their right mind would say there are benefits in troubles and challenges?

Me!  And maybe even you?!

Because I’ve endured quite a few, (cancer, divorce, family with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, death of family, just to name a few), I can attest to their benefits (of course, this is AFTER they happened).  After the fact, we can see how individual challenges make us grow and strengthen us.  The challenges force us, sometimes unwillingly, to look at our lives with a different perspective.  They inspire us to deep deeper into ourselves to find the strength, the courage, and the inspiration to get through the difficult times.  We find out what we are really made of when we have challenges in life.  We are offered choices on life’s path and the beauty that we can choose again at any time makes life interesting.  Challenges and growth opportunities allow us to see how far we’ve come in our lives.

We can see troubles and challenges as building blocks on the road to life.  Our ability to endure them and to triumph over them (or to not) shapes us in different ways.  We enable our innate personality traits to be tweaked.  We learn new ways of coping.  We tune our minds into new avenues of solutions.  We can make new friends who open our eyes to finding peace in stressful situations.

The potential for growth, mentally, emotionally and psychologically during troubles and challenges can be exponential.  True, it can be maddening and frustrating as heck to have to deal with difficulties, but the benefits in the end, can outweigh the discomforts.

I know, you are probably thinking that I just don’t understand your troubles and challenges and you are right.  We all have our own path, but as I have found, they sometimes intersect and we can walk a path together with a friend (or a stranger who becomes a friend) and we can help each other, and support each other as we move through the tough times.

At least that’s been my experience throughout this lifetime.  I find that the higher power in my life, call it what you may, God, Universe, Infinite Spirit, your own higher power – helps me along the way through the hard times by planting strangers disguised as angels, friends, synchronizations, coincidences, etc. in order to help me overcome whatever is holding me back.  These in turn encourage me to grow, to learn and to accept what previously I may have deemed unacceptable.  But in the long run, I know that they were necessary growth spurts to get to me to where I am now.

It’s hard to believe for some of us that there’s a light at the end of a dark tunnel and that in the end, all the hard times were worth the changes that were hard won.  It’s mind-blowing at times that we can see in hindsight the benefits that come after enduring these life lessons.

But they are there.  Truly, they are there.

So please, if you are wondering if it’s karma or back luck or whatever you are thinking in order to blame the bad that’s going on in your life right now, just stop.  Accept it.  Keep going through it and move on.

That light at the end of the tunnel is beckoning you with sunshine!  Come on, hold my hand.  I’ll walk the path with you!

Shine On!

xo

 

 

Leaving The Traditional Behind

leavingthetraditionalbehind

What’s the traditional to you?  Years ago, I would have declared I was the traditional wife, mother, daughter, niece and caregiver to family.  I would have happily regaled you with stories about the traditions as a family we enjoyed and how I came to rely on those traditions, even when I sometimes dreaded the work that the traditions held.  You know what I mean right?  Making huge family holiday feasts, plastering a smile on my face, even when I felt like crying and pretending that all was well, for the sake of the traditions that had come to be expected?

Have you ever felt that way?

But I have been released from the traditional now.  My life has changed dramatically.  No longer am I a wife, but instead, I am a divorced mom.  Today marks the first time I am completely alone as my children have gone to visit my Ex’s family on vacation.  The divorce is official and we have moved into our own little rental for the time being.

It’s a strange in-between place for me.

I was contemplating this when I saw the Traditional – Daily Prompt which I thought fit me well.  I’m embracing a limbo of sorts until I decide what I want to do next.  I have a few days of solitude ahead in which to fill the hours with whatever I choose.  I can’t remember the last time I had time like this!  Being in a new rental means I have no memories of traditions that pin me to the past.  It’s like there’s a clean slate on which to write my next chapter.  As I sipped my morning coffee, I realized for the first time in my life, I have freedom to choose what makes me happy at least for the next few days without worrying about how it could impact anyone else.  I have freedom from the traditional day of routine, of motherhood, of responsibilities.

There’s a plethora of possibilities in my head, swimming around, ripe to pluck and execute.  Do I go for a walk on the beach and inhale the enticing sea air?  Do I take a nap, curled up on the couch and eat bon bons?  Do I call a friend to meet for lunch and enjoy a glass of wine in the middle of the day to celebrate the break from traditional?  Do I stuff myself with popcorn and candies and watch a chick-flick?  Do I read in peaceful silence?  Do I go out shopping and buy myself something fabulous?

Ahhh…the release from the traditional!

All these choices are spinning in my mind and instead of being sad that I am alone, as my children are away, I am divorced, living in a rental and my life is not how I had traditionally planned it to be – in my heart I am planning on embracing the freedom from the traditional!  Of course, I’m sitting here writing to you, but it’s time for me to dip my toes in the sea of possibilities!  So off I go – into the unknown and with love and light, I send you hugs for a Tuesday!

May you also enjoy a break from the traditional – I think it’s time we all have a little moment to break free from the confines that bind us to the plethora of shoulds that cage us at times.  I’m not suggesting you go out and do something wicked.  That’s not me!  But to shake up the routine a bit, now that’s a possibility!  What new tradition can you make today?  Got any ideas?  Please share!

Shine On!

xo

Cancer Changed Me

cancerchangedme

Hope ~ Strength ~ Power ~ Belief ~ Courage ~ Honor ~ Determination

I have been told that cancer changed me.  Indeed, it wasn’t said it in the nicest of ways.  In fact, it was taken as a disparaging comment and I was appalled by the off-hand comment.  My first reaction was to defend myself at the time, to show how cancer didn’t change me.  But I left well-enough alone and decided to say nothing.  However, I was hurt by the retort.

Had cancer really changed me?

The question mulled in my head for days and many sleepless nights, more than I’d like to admit, but it’s true.  I’ve written how cancer changes you enough times in this blog to know that the reality is – YES, cancer changes most of us.  It has to, or we wouldn’t still be here.  For we have seen into the yawning mouth of our own demise, endured the most feared emotions and have come out of it alive, so far.  Looking at your own potential death does change you.

It makes you more aware for the most part.  Some of us now see with finite definition that life is short and there are no guarantees how much time we have on this earth.  We become grateful for the beauty in nature, for the simple pleasures that kindness brings and for a real, loving hug which can cure many ills.  We look to connect with others more because we know what it’s like to feel alone.  We share our stories, encourage each other and find the courage to be who we authentically are!  We smile when we are tired.  We work hard to overcome obstacles and to be there for others, even when we feel depleted.  We take that extra moment to smile and to enjoy goodness when it comes into our lives.  We are grateful for the support that we have been given and we look to support others to continue the flow of goodness.  We share tips to help others and happily receive tips to make our lives easier.

We know that all the money in the world, with all the frivolities are fleeting and really don’t mean a damn when death comes knocking at our door.  It’s that silence between ourselves and our maker (or our beliefs) in the quiet of the night that counts.  It’s regarding peace within as a precious gift, time spent with loved ones and a centered calm in which to retreat when life becomes hard.  It’s the voice within the stillness which speaks of love, gratitude, peace with ourselves and others and God.

Yes, cancer changed me.  That’s for sure.  Perhaps it was the misunderstanding of me that caused this person to spout the ‘dig’ as I took it.  Sometimes it takes a loss for us to be humble and perhaps there will be people who simply never understand.  And that’s ok with me.

I am me, authentically me.  I make mistakes, I ask for forgiveness and I forgive.  I choose to live in a state of peace within when I can, but I am always evolving, ever growing and yet, trying to do all things with love.  I intend to do my best, at any given moment, but I’m human.  I’m a work in progress.  Aren’t we all?

What’s precious to me in my life is love, kindness and connections and I strive every day to live with those three precious gems in my life.  Cancer made me a better person by giving me so many lessons in my life.  I’ve learned so much from cancer, even though I never wanted to endure that disease.  Looking back on my life, I realize that I am who I am today because of cancer.  Even if others don’t understand me, it’s ok now.  I’m at peace and I’m ever grateful for the peace within me.

Shine On!

xo

Smooth Seas

smoothsea

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sometimes we wonder why hard times fall on us.  We blame karma, bad luck, ourselves or others for the sad times.  We can’t understand why or how bad things happen to good people.  Have you ever felt this way?

I love the quote above as it makes sense to me.  Sadly I agree that in good seas, we don’t have to practice what we preach.  It is only when the storms arise that we must walk our talk and talk our walk or however that quote goes.  You know what I mean, don’t you?

During stormy seas, we realize who our true friends are and who we can count on.  Unexpected friendships can arise and we may even be surprised by who reaches out in kindness…and who doesn’t.   We may even finally realize who supports us and who doesn’t, as words without actions are simply words.

Kindness goes a long way, especially when you are hurting.  Being a warm, safe haven for someone is a precious gift, especially during stormy seas.  I want to thank those who have helped me over the years, the ones whose kindness never waned and whose support I felt even in my darkest hours.

Shine On!

xo

I’m Fine

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The average person tells 4 lies a day

or 1460 a year;

a total of 86,700 by the age of 60. 

And the most common lie is:

I’m fine.

How many of us go about our day telling ourselves and anyone else who asks, “I’m fine,” even when we know we aren’t.  Denying the state of unrest within us doesn’t do anyone else any good, least of all ourselves.

Sure there are those of us who think we are inner powerhouses, who believe innately that we can work through the chaos and if we just put a little more effort into it, we can survive.  We continue to take each hurdle as it comes and keep moving forward, even when our body, mind, heart and soul yearn to rest.  But there’s no rest when we are amidst chaos.  We can’t let someone else down, nor ourselves.  We have to keep on, keeping on, in order to make it through, putting our best foot forward, because we are the responsible ones.  We are the ones whom everyone else is counting on and we just can’t let them down, nor can we face that sorry fact that we need help where we are.

If we were observant, we would face the truth and tell ourselves to reach out and we would know in our hearts that there are people who can and would help us.  Sometimes we do reach out, but if the person to whom we reach out can’t help us or won’t help us, we are doubly determined to just do it alone.  And so goes on that vicious circle of “I’m fine.”

But honestly. we are not alone.  You are not alone, nor am I.

And at times, we are certainly, NOT FINE.

Sure, I could tell you to rest and allow the weight of the world to fall off your shoulders at night so that you could sleep in peace.  You could hang your worries on a branch and give them over to God.  You could pray for solutions and look for signs from above.  You could reach out to friends and family for support or to trained professionals for guidance.  You could hire someone to do what it is you are so determined to do yourself.  It all depends on what is weighing you down and what is not fine.

But will you do that?

It’s a choice to get help when things are chaotic (and even when they aren’t).  It’s a letting go of the control and of the belief that I can do it.  It’s dropping the role that you’ve lead your entire life of being the responsible one and taking on obligations that maybe weren’t really even yours in the first place, but because nobody else stepped up, you did.

There will be those who criticize you if you choose to allow yourself to honestly say, “I’m not fine.”  There will be those who simply don’t understand what’s so hard for you when they look from the outside with their perception into your life.  There are those who will turn their backs and walk away.  Then there will be those who stay, who hold your hand, listen and pick up a shovel to help you get rid of the mess.

Those are the ones I want at my side.  What about you?

Trust in those who hold your hand with a loving heart space.  Allow their kindness, generosity and love to heal you, to help you and to ease the burdens you carry.  Trust in God that He can help you through these tough times.  And for goodness sake, get rid of the I’m fine, except when you know it will fall on deaf ears or when you really mean it.  Trust in I’m not fine, with those whose hearts are open to yours.

So if you’re asking me, “I’m not fine” today, but as Scarlett O’Hara once said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

How are you?

Shine On!

xo

Bird’s Nest – Is It A Sign?

nest

I was sitting outside the other morning as I often do, enjoying the peace and quiet of Mother’s Nature’s gifts before the hubbub of the day begins.  From across the yard, I saw something drop and I heard a thud as it landed on the ground.  Immediately, I thought a squirrel might have fallen out of the tree as I could see that what had fallen wasn’t moving.  I contemplated going to look as I watched a squirrel race by, stopping only for a moment by the unknown object and continuing on his way.  Curiously I went over to see for myself what had fallen with a thud.

It was the nest pictured above which had fallen with an audible thud.  No eggs to be seen, yet the weight of it as it had somehow gotten dislodged from its branch!  Coincidentally two days before, I had 2 little birds trying to build a nest in my dryer vent!  For days we battled.  They would stuff the vent and I would unstuff it.  Finally they gave up and moved to a different place.  Whew.  I didn’t want to cook the eggs with the dryer heat!  I didn’t want that on my conscience.  Not to mention the fire hazard!

As you may know, I’m looking for a house to move to as the closing sale date of our home creeps closer.  I wonder what it means to have the nest fall or to have birds trying to nest in my home?

I’m praying for the perfect home to come to us as the time edges closer, but so far, nothing definitive has appeared.  I keep thinking that God is never too late so I continue to let go and Let God.  But whew, it’s hard when worry plagues me and because I’m a planner, letting go of control and trying to find one when none are available are at odds in my head.

Any thoughts on my situation?  What do you think of the nest falling in front of me?  Or the birds trying to build a nest in the dryer vent?  Are they signs?  What do you think it means?

Shine On!

xo