Archive | August, 2012

Five Minuite Friday – Stretch

17 Aug

ImageThis has been al life season of stretching, sometimes to the point I think I will break.  Stretching to be a good parent to a budding adult.  Stretching to be a write turned author.  Stretching to not be the mom who knows that the end of my stay at home days are coming and doing nothing about it.  Even stretching to get a healthy, fit body back.  Oh and not to mention stretching every fiber in my being to finally get a grip on our finances.  I’ve been so stretched that the stretch marks I’ve always disliked don’t even seem to matter anymore.  They are a reminder of other times I’ve been stretched and survived, but the emotional ties are cut.  I am not maimed.  I am grown.  I am stretched.  I am complete.  I am growing. I am complete, and I will continue to stretch all the days of my life.  That is, after all, the purpose of life, is it not?  To stretch and grow and become and after you plateau, start over and stretch again.

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A College Bound Love Letter

17 Aug

A College Bound Love Letter.

A College Bound Love Letter

17 Aug

This month I became part of a phenomenon that has been going on for centuries and that is the club of mothers who watch their children go into the world as new adults. In my case, that means that my oldest child is off to college. Because of that, I’ve seen other moms do what I’m doing, and I’ve learned a lot.

My husband is the youngest of nine children in a close family, so we have been watching parents raise and launch young adults into the world for a very long time. Some have gone to college, some directly into the work force and some have become parents at a very young age. From watching friends and family, I’ve seen some parents who can hardly wait to get their kids out of the house, some who can hardly bear to let go and most who fluctuate between the two. I would fit into the last category.

This past year may be the most difficult I’ve ever had as a parent. I’ve had moments of utter joy watching my oldest son take steps into adulthood. He’s maintained great grades, held down a job and played varsity sports, all while having a girlfriend. Only those who have been there will truly appreciate the magnitude of that for a teenage boy. I’ve also been frustrated to the end of my wits when deadlines are looming and paperwork wasn’t finished, when I had to wake him because he slept through his alarm, again, and I nearly broke my neck traversing the mess he calls his room and when I had to remind him for the umpteenth time that spending every single evening at his girlfriend’s house is hurtful, whether he meant it to be or not.

During those most difficult times, there are several pearls of wisdom I’ve hung onto. The most important piece of advice I can think of is that as much as we struggle with them, they also struggle with us. While we are trying to decide how much control we want them to have over their lives and how much we should step in and be the authority figure, they are trying to figure out how much adult responsibility they want. In many cases, I’ve heard parents say that their child wants all the control without the responsibility of adulthood. Can anyone relate to that one? I know for a fact that several people can. Our children, on the other hand, long for the freedom to make their own decisions but struggle with the fact that it’s the first time the consequences of their actions really are theirs. That is a lot of pressure and they don’t want to get it wrong.

I think that the way you finally launch your children into the world has more to do with faith than anything else; not religious faith, but faith in yourself, your parenting and ultimately, your child. I once heard someone say that you need to give your children roots and wings; roots to stay grounded and know they always have a place of love and support to come home to and wings to fly to the heights of their abilities. If you’ve done this, you can confidently send them into the world, knowing they will be successful by their own definition. If you haven’t, it’s never too late to start.

My son is already on campus, and the day he moved in was extraordinary. Because he moved in early for some leadership training, there were not too many people on campus so we could take our time with the process. I know that many others won’t have that luxury, but through the process I learned a lot. First, my son was not himself. He is usually very engaged in his own process and takes charge whenever he can. That day, he let his dad and I do more for him than usual. He was quiet, when in the past; he had always been so excited to get to college. It was strange and a bit frustrating, but it all became clear as we got ready to leave. My husband left the room, and I asked my son if he was ok. At that moment, he admitted he was going to miss us. For my son, that was huge. For me, it explained everything he had done that day and why he had acted so strangely. It also reminded me that my struggle wasn’t the only one going on, and it made me love my son even more. I know that everyone’s experience will be unique, but if parents can step back just a bit from their own internal drama, I think the process can go so much better.

I am so grateful to the parents, especially moms, that have gone before me and given me great advice and support. I so appreciate those who have happily and confidently raised their children to be the best they can be and showed me how to be a better parent. To those who have already sent your children into the world whether to college or the military or some other path, I salute you and would hug you if I could. For those who have yet to go through it, I hope you have great role models like I did and you can send your child out into the world in loving confidence that the world will be a better place because of your child and the person you’ve helped them to become. Finally, if you need just a little more inspiration, please click on this link, listen to this song while thinking about your child and whatever happens, don’t give up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1-4u9W-bns&feature=youtube_gdata_player. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

Living Differently

12 Aug

Living Differently.

Living Differently

12 Aug

Those who know me well have probably heard me say that my family lives differently than most. The reason is that my husband has type 1 or juvenile diabetes. Every day, when my husband leaves for work, I know in a very real way that it may be the last time I ever see him. I have seen my husband near death more than once as emergency crews saved his life, and it changed me in a profound way. You see, when you know in the most practical way that this really could be the last day you spend with someone you love, you live differently. You fight less and love more. You have a much clearer idea of what you want out of life, and you say the things that are important to say, hopefully in the kindest way you can. You learn to let go and let God, the Divine, the Universe take over and trust that everything will be just as it’s meant to be, unless you want to make yourself crazy.

Last night I found out that one of my son’s good friends lost a parent to cancer. The parents are self-employed and have some hefty medical bills. They have two sons about to leave for college; one for the first time. They have one son, adopted internationally, that is still at home. Through this entire process, they have been positive and uplifting and full of gratitude. Even the notice that shared his passing was a beautiful tribute to a man I wish I had known better because without knowing it, they have both made me a better person. They even inspired me to start this blog, and I will be forever grateful for their contribution to my life.

A few years ago, a beloved member of our community was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and was given only weeks to live. He lived about eight more months and also shared his journey in a blog. He was the father of two teen boys and the husband of his high school sweetheart. He was a teacher in our school district and coached several sports. He knew so many in our community and was loved by many. So many wanted to help, and this very private family shared the journey through cancer in a very public way. I know it took enormous courage to share with thousands of readers, and I hope that others were as uplifted by the faith filled words as I was. The illness also brought out the best in our community. Donations of every kind poured in, including meals, cash and vacations. I sometimes wonder if part of his life plan was to teach all of us to give just a little more and in some cases, a lot more. Just recently, his loving wife was able to marry again in a small ceremony she shared on facebook. She is now able to carry on her legacy of love with her new, blended family, and I wish her all the happiness in the world.

I once said to a group of people that cancer can be a gift. I might as well have said that Hitler was a great guy. I would have gotten the same look, but I think the gift lies in how you deal with cancer. Yes, cancer does terrible things to a body, but it often does beautiful things to a soul. Almost everyone I’ve ever known who has cancer releases the minutiae of life to focus on what is most important to them. In so many cases, they heal old hurts, release old grudges and focus on loving the important people in their lives the best they can. With my own father, we healed more in the six months before he died than we had in the previous thirty or so years he had been my parent. We didn’t fight at all. I read the Bible to him and sang Amazing Grace to him because it soothed him. I lovingly let him go because allowing him to be free of his suffering became more important than me wanting him to be here to watch his grandchildren grow up. We had the opportunity to heal our hearts and let go in love. To this day, I rejoice in the day that he left his body behind because he was free from physical and emotional pain. Notice I didn’t say left this Earth because I feel that a part of him shows up often. For me, that is seeing the number 451, which is a significant number in his life. Every time I see it, I always say hi to my dad.

Last night, I was talking to my son about his friend and his father’s passing and my son said something interesting. He said that when someone dies, you can either be sad, mad or happy, but the person is still gone. Nothing you do will change that. At first, I was a bit shocked by how callous those words sounded, but as I thought about it, I realized the wisdom in them. Like me, my son believes that the journey doesn’t end when the body ceases to function. He believes that there is something bigger and better than the life we live here. When my father in law was dying of cancer, he told one of our family members that he felt sorry for all of us. The family member was shocked and asked why. My father in law said that if he beat the cancer, he got to stay here with the family he loved and the wife he adored. If he didn’t, he got to go to an even better place and be with the Lord. For him, it was a win-win situation; talk about perspective!

I understand that everyone has their own process for dealing with loss, but what if we chose to grieve differently? What if every time we started to feel bad, we chose instead to send blessings to our loved ones, to ask for healing blessings upon ourselves and to rejoice in the best memories we can think of regarding that person? I know in the beginning that might feel awkward, but with practice it would get easier. With practice, we could get to the point where we can celebrate life instead of mourn death. With practice, we could live in joy and gratitude every day, so that when the day comes that a loved one passes, especially from cancer, that we can release them to a better place and know they’ll be there to welcome us when our time comes. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

Taking the Big Step

9 Aug

So now I’ve gone and done it. I’ve committed myself to writing a book and to finishing it by September 27, 2012. How? I entered a contest, and that’s the deadline. I’ve drawn a line in the sand, and the flood of emotion begins. I’m excited because I’ve moved forward on a goal I’ve had for a long time. I’m terrified that I’m not good enough as a writer to be published or that my subject matter isn’t good enough. I’m thrilled that the deadline will motivate me to focus, and I’m afraid that my sidetracked nature will keep me from reaching my goal. It’s quite a party in my head with all of the voices telling me all of the things that could go wrong and the other ones that detail what could happen if things go right. So now what do I do?

The first thing that occurs to me is to run to the kitchen and stuff myself with carbs. I want to push that voice of fear away in a food coma that will silence it for hours or maybe even days. I know that isn’t the grown up answer I’ll eventually follow, but the thought of losing myself in a chocolate and potato chip frenzy for the day does make me smile. Another part of me thinks about all of the nice things we could do for others like baking cookies and bread or making a meal for some friends that are in need. Doing for others always makes me feel better and is a good thing. A mentor of mine once told me, though, that it is so much easier to fix everyone else than to do the work of improving ourselves, so as worthy as it is, I guess I’ll let someone else get the kudos this time. I’ve also considered just turning on the TV and zoning out in the Olympic glory or the smorgasbord that is the Food Channel. That would work for a bit, because I’m inspired by the athletes and distracted by the fun food shows, but at the end of the night, the book will still be unwritten and each day the task will grow more frightening and monster like.

So, what’s the next step? For me, the answer always seems to lie in some kind of system. To get my home, mostly, organized and create routines to keep it that way, I use a combination of two systems that I really like. To get our finances in order, we used a different system. To get this book written, I’ll need to use what I already know and create a new system to “git ‘er done” as Larry the Cable Guy would say. So, I’m about to create the system and start putting it into practice. Hopefully, I can do something I’ve never done in the next seven weeks and that is to bring a book to life. I want to do it to inspire and teach my children that even the most challenging goals are within reach. I want to do it to show my husband that I can be the person he’s always envisioned me to be. I want to do it most of all to prove to myself that I am a writer worthy of being published and being called an author. To do such a thing is a dream, and I’ve always believed that dreams can come true. It’s time to wake up, get up and make it happen.

For a little extra boost of courage, I’ll keep repeating Mark Twain’s quote to “do the thing you fear most, and the death of fear is certain.” Anyone want to face a few fears with me? I would welcome the company. If not, I’ll keep plugging along by myself. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

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