Mother’s Day

Melancholy rolled over me yesterday for a few different reasons and while I largely tried to ignore it, I couldn’t shake it off either.

Mother’s Day is always a mixed bag for me. I try to focus on my kids and the moment and just enjoy them, but I feel my own mom’s absence even more acutely on this day because reminders are everywhere and inescapable. And then I get texts in the middle of church from my sis about how she is struggling today too and I’m the only one who understands, and it becomes exceedingly difficult to not get teary myself, both because I know she’s feeling sad and the reason why, and she’s too far away to actually see and hug today. I feel guilty sometimes that I cannot fully embrace the day and just enjoy it with my kids, and selfish that a large part of me would like to skip it completely.

So when today dawned gray, foggy, and rainy, I didn’t mind.

I enjoy posts and pics about people and their moms, but seeing them also makes me achy, so I only peek at the internet here and there or mostly stay away. People have every right to enjoy time with their moms and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who has that privilege not to waste it, it is a thing to be treasured and cherished. Admittedly, seeing the pics, sometimes I have all the envy, but I am also happy for those people.

They passed out tulips to all the ladies at church today, and that was a thoughtful thing to do. I appreciated it.

The pastor talked about handwritten letters and how they’ve really become a lost art, and then he read a story about a woman who wrote letters, many, many letters. She had told one of her children that she had always wanted to write a novel, and they asked why she hadn’t. Her response was something about her purpose in life being to write letters and that she believed that the act of writing them could somehow connect the person to her words and they would feel them, even if the letters never actually reached them, that letters connect us to each other.

I love that thought. I love the idea that writing words about and to someone could affect them in a positive way even if the actual paper they’re written on never reaches them, and how much more powerful it must then be when they hold the missive in their hands and see the words meant for them. I have always thought of writing letters as sending a little love out into the world, maybe a little light, but this story transcended that and took the thought to a whole new level.

Earlier this week I decided to commit to writing letters again since it’d been awhile, so the timing of this felt a bit like affirmation. Going with that woman’s line of thought, that the words affect people even if they never read them, I may have to write some letters to send some love and good thoughts outward, even though I can’t mail them, in hopes that they will reach those people.

That lady may have been onto something. The notes I have from my parents in their handwriting, and especially letters from my mom, are very powerful ties to them for me. I read her words and in my head I can almost hear her voice again, her inflections, her laugh, and most of all, the love. For a brief flash, I can almost feel her presence again, enough that reading one moves me to tears every single time I see her handwriting and read her thoughts. Most of them are just simple glimpses of a few minutes of her day or week, but I absolutely cherish them.

I needed a bit of her with me today, so I wore this.

My mom apparently had a charm bracelet with four charms on it, one with the name and birthdate of each of her four children. The Christmas following her death, one of my brothers surprised us by giving my sister and me each a bracelet and my brother a keychain holding our individual charm. It has been one of my favorite pieces of jewelry since.

Judging by the scratches and somewhat worn look to the charms, I’d guess she wore the bracelet quite a bit at some point. I know some people might get the scratches polished off and make it smooth and shiny again, but those scratches mean she wore it, that it was next to her skin, and that it got dinged during her movements. To me, those scratches represent life, her life, and this simple little bracelet is one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.

I’m not really sad, but my heart is a bit achy. I’m enjoying the day and trying to relax. I decided to come home and put on some of my favorite soft clothes with a touch of black lace (I am a huge fan of black lace) and now that it’s quiet, I’m about to curl up with a cup of tea in my mom’s teacup (Mom loved her tea) and a book I’ve put off reading because even though I know it’s really good, when I started it months ago, I was in tears before page 3, so tremendous was my empathy for the protagonist, and I put it back down because I didn’t want to be weepy. Today seems like a good day to pick it up again and dive in, because I feel a little weepy. I think I kind of need to cry a little.

And that’s not a bad thing, or even a sad thing, not really. It’s actually a joyous thing, because I was so blessed, so fortunate to have once been so loved that the loss of that love and that understanding has echoed through 19 years and is felt every bit as strongly today as it was then.

So today I’m a little teary. And grateful for it.

But my kids make me smile.

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Surrounded by Beauty

Lake Michigan

There is so much beauty in this world. Out your window, in the person next to you or the one you pass on the street, sometimes in the cracks in the sidewalk or the most unexpected places. Sometimes in some of the sounds we tune out. Pause for a minute and look for it. Listen. Seek it out. Find the beauty in your days, large and small. Take a moment. Breathe it in. It helps restore your spirit. It lets your soul breathe. Sometimes it’s subtle and you have to really look for it, but if you seek it, you will find it. You’re surrounded by beauty in so many forms. Don’t miss it!

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

  • The weather warning being canceled and only getting a small amount of snow.
  • Notebooks, journals, writing utensils, and quiet time to write to my heart’s content
  • A husband who is a good provider and is allowing me the luxury and support of time at this point in my life to pursue my passions
  • The internet that brings so many people, places, forums, and opportunities into my world, without which I would never have access to or even know about
  • A spark of creativity that just the small act of nurturing it for a bit has been a mood booster.

I hope you are all having a good day. Please know that no matter what is happening in your life right now, you matter. (Hug)

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:

1. My pup, who is always by my side – literally – I have tripped over her multiple times today. Currently, she has her head on my lap, all sweet face and pretty eyes, patiently waiting for a Cheez-It.

2. Friends, old (ha) and not so old who make me smile and chuckle and are close in heart, no matter how far in miles.

3. Bacon.

4. Bones!

5. A kid with a sharp mind who likes to challenge me in games, especially word games, even if he starts SEVENTEEN games of the same game all at once and it takes me half an hour to catch up on all of them.

(Hug!)

Onward

December 31st is usually a time for reflection for me. I usually look back on the year with maybe a bit of frustration with myself, certainly a bit of melancholy for how quickly time passes, and always to find moments of joy for which to be grateful. Some years they are more difficult to find than others, but there is always something.

I had hopes for 2014, plans, serious expectations of myself, and none of it really came to fruition. I’ve decided that beating myself up further over my failures is pointless, and it would be wiser to redirect that energy into a renewed determination to do better in 2015.

The past 4 years have been very difficult in various ways. They have certainly been very rough emotionally. Stress has been a nearly constant companion far too often since early 2011; that was one of the few years I can ever remember being absolutely eager to bid goodbye and good riddance to and firmly turn my back upon. It didn’t really work though, as in some ways 2011 sort of slowly crept back in and then finally demanded that I feel and face the things I didn’t have the luxury of doing in the middle of it all in 2011, made more difficult by losing a major source of support and encouragement. Of course, 2014 presented its own challenges, as each new year does. All in all, it’s just been a rough couple of years and I am so very ready for a good year.

This next year will bring more changes that are inevitable and very good, but also cause those twinges of mixed feelings. Those I look forward to, even though my mind can scarcely comprehend how it is possible that time has passed so astonishingly quickly.

I have hopes for 2015. I hope to learn to teach my inner voice to encourage me rather than berate me, to build me up instead of tearing me down. I need that voice to believe in me. If I can just get that voice to start believing in me, I think there is much I might be able to do. I dream of touching lives, one at a time, with my words, with my writing, with a simple heartfelt hug, just to let one person know they matter.

I’ve decided not to set goals for the year, but rather for each month. I’m going to decide what I want to accomplish each month and challenge myself to follow through with those things for 30 days, then assess what I’ve accomplished, what I need/want to do next, and set the challenges for the next 30 days. A 12-month goal seems so daunting and like a huge unscalable mountain. I think I will accomplish much more if I attempt to climb small hills, one at a time, for 30 days. By the end of 2015, I hope to be able to look back and see more accomplishments than failures, to be less frustrated and disappointed in myself, and to hopefully have laughed at myself and experienced more joy along the way.

The last few years have definitely felt like they have taken more than they have given, and I’ve spent too much time stressed out and emotionally wrung out. I’m going to try to change that. I’m going to try very hard to focus on loving people as often as I can, when and where I can, and as hard as I can, and if they accept it, yay, and if they don’t, I’m going to love anyway and just try not to dwell on it. I’m going to try to teach myself to reject rejection and not internalize it, to just love and let go.

The years are flying and time feels ever more fleeting and infinitely more precious. I don’t want to waste it on negative feelings or thinking, and I’ve realized this past year that I need to value my own time more highly, as I do others’, and be more discerning where and how I spend it. I am trying to live with more intention, and it is my heart’s desire that the omphalos of that intention is always love.

Love comes in many forms, and even though you may be waiting on romantic love, if you have the love and loyalty of family – be it blood or chosen, a staunch pet, or a single unwavering and indefatigable friend, you are rich indeed in a way many are not.

As we leave this year behind, I want to say to anyone who has lost someone this year that I know how emotionally difficult the turning of the year can be. There are the mixed emotions of wanting to put some distance between you and the pain of loss, but there is also the gut-wrenching realization that this is the end of the last year, the last memories, you will ever have with that person, that they will have have no part in this new year, and that is really rough. I know there is nothing I can say or do to ease that, but please know that you will get through it, and to you I offer a hug of silent understanding.

For 2015, for all of you, as well as myself, my sincerest wishes are for hope that remains unshakeable, love that is steadfast, faith in yourself as well as someone who believes in you, and peace in your soul.

Happy New Year!

and the last ((hugs!!)) of 2014

Thankful Thursday

In an effort to shake off the residue of awful nightmares, a wicked migraine, and a lack of holly jolly, I am focusing on gratitude. So, today I am thankful for:

1. In spite of how it affects my head currently, sunshine! Because it is so infrequent this time of year and it is making a pretty rainbow on my ceiling. I appreciate simple beauty.

2. My girl will be home tonight!

3. My girl is en route!

4. My girl is just a few hours away!

5. My girl will be home for 3 weeks! That means there will be days when our family unit is once again intact. There will be annoyances and bickering among siblings, good-natured teasing, exasperation, too much stuff everywhere, more laundry, and lots and lots of love and laughter. And I will love every minute of all of it even when it’s maddening and smile to myself when I hear my childen’s voices intermingled in squabbling, teasing, and laughter, because I know these days are oh so precious and there aren’t many more of them to come in quite this way. I will find joy in those cherished moments and hide them in my heart.

Thankful Thursday

I’ve been fighting a bit of the melancholy this week. I looked at the calendar this morning and realized why and got teary. My subconscious always knows even when things aren’t at the forefront of my brain. So, in an effort to combat that, some gratitude and an attempt to shift focus.

Today I am thankful for:

Sunshine. There is some today and it has been so very gray lately, I am ever so grateful for any bright rays we get.

My kiddos and the fact that they are alive and healthy. I can never be thankful enough for that and I will never take it for granted.

Today is the last home boys’ middle school basketball game of the season and it is parents’ night. I am thankful I have the opportunity tonight to go and be there for my youngest.

That my car has heat on a cold winter’s morning and a kid old enough to start the car. (I so miss my remote start in winter, but I was thankful for it while I had it.)

Ice scrapers and a teenage boy to wield same at 7:30 a.m. (I was only driving that early because of him, so it’s fair.)

I hope your day is good. (Hug)

Thankful Thursday – Thanksgiving Edition

It’s been a long day, but one filled with love and laughter, and my heart (and belly) is full. I hope you have all had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well, whether you were surrounded by friends and family or, as some of my friends far away, had a day of solitude and self-pampering.

There is much for which to be thankful, and I hope you can all think of several things today.

Today I am thankful for:

* My family.

* The sounds of my children’s voices all together and especially their laughter.

* Warm clothing on cold, snowy, 15-degree nights. Also tea and pie.

* The aroma of all the foods cooking today.

* YOU. Yes, I am thankful for you, people who are following me, people I have connected with here, people I have yet to connect with, people just passing by. Each and every one of you who sees these words is a unique individual who brings your own special gifts to the world, so today I am thankful for you. You matter.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Hug)

What Is the Best Thing that Anyone Has Ever Said to You?

What is the best thing that anyone has ever said to you?

A friend posed this question to me awhile back.

I’ve been pondering this for awhile now, and I know there is something I am forgetting, a moment when I remember saying the exact words “that’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.” The fact that I can’t recall what it was now is driving me batty.

I can say that I have been told several times that I am easy to talk to and, even better, the words “I trust you” and “I trust you completely.” When someone says that to me, especially someone who hasn’t really known me all that long, or maybe not even actually met me but communicated with me only through some form of the written word, that means the world to me, that they have that much faith in me, that they feel they can trust me with their more private selves, and I value that incredibly highly. I don’t even know how to aptly put into words how that makes me feel. Deeply honored.

However, one instance in particular does stand out in my mind.

A few years ago while we were out shopping, my kids opted to take a rest around a patio table that was set up in the store while we went to check something out. (My oldest was old enough to be responsible for them.) When we returned, there was an older gentleman sitting at the table with the kids, chatting.

He told us who he was, his age – in his eighties, I believe, and a bit of his personal history, that he had met all kinds of people in his lifetime. He then went on to tell us that he had been chatting with my kids, and what a pleasant exchange they’d had.

He said he wanted to take the opportunity to let us know what a nice little family we were, that my children were well mannered, bright, and how he was impressed with their answers to his questions about various topics. He even went on to say that he thought my youngest could become President one day, that he had leadership qualities, and that he would certainly vote for him.

What really got me, however, was when he made a point to say that as parents we were really doing something right, that we were raising really great kids.

As someone who more often than not has wondered if I am doing anything right as a parent, who has often experienced self-doubt and felt like I have floundered badly, this was really something to hear.

I have keenly felt the loss of the benefit of being able to go to my own parents for wisdom and parenting advice, or even encouragement, so this struck right at the heart of me. After he left, I welled up with tears – and am again now just thinking about it as I write this – and I don’t think I was able to speak much for awhile.

For a complete stranger to take the time to get to know my children a little, to see such good qualities in them, and to make a point to offer such words of encouragement and praise about parenting them, that has really stayed with me, and is truly one of the very nicest things anyone has ever said to me.