Tag Archives: Love

Embracing the Blessings

25 Aug

12049231_10206140076553761_743071400173545284_nSo last week I wrote about feeling inadequate because of my lack of first day school pictures. This past weekend, both my older boys headed back to college, and I have been on a roller coaster of emotions. My middle son moved back to school in stages which made the moving process easier. He’s close to home and we get to see him fairly often, so it isn’t as difficult leaving him. We will even be on campus this week for a local soccer club game and to watch his younger brother perform in a special football game being held at the college on Friday. We might get in a quick visit each night, especially if there is dinner involved, so, there will probably be dinner involved because this mom is not above a food bribe to get a quick visit. Sending the oldest off was a bit trickier because it was the last time. This is his last semester of college. He will probably be working out of town when he graduates. He will be getting married next year and there will be so many lasts. He laughs at me every time I cry and tells me it’s not like he won’t be back and asked me one time why I cry so much, especially over him. My answer is that every new thing that happens for him is an ending for me.

This week several friends and family members are sending their little ones off to preschool and kindergarten for the first time. There is so much nervousness, and I understand. My son was less than six months from starting full time school when Columbine happened. Up until then, we all thought that school was a safe place for our children; now we had doubts. My son was in first grade on 9/11 as I watched the twin towers fall and knew our lives would never be the same, and they aren’t. I thought about homeschooling my children because of those incidents, but I realized that was fear talking, my fear and my erroneous thoughts that I could somehow protect them from the world. Please understand that I know many people homeschool successfully, and I admire them greatly. This just means that my reasons would have been based in fear, and when I realized that, I knew it would be an unhealthy decision for us.

I remember dropping my oldest off for kindergarten like it was yesterday. He was so very excited, and I was so nervous. His classroom had a door directly to the outside, so the teacher met him at the door and told my son to say goodbye to us. He did and disappeared into the building. We had walked to school, and I made it all the way down the block before I burst into tears. My husband laughed at me and said, “You made it through the hard stuff. Why are you crying now?” I laughed and told him to shut up and give me my moment, and that was all it was, a moment. You see, I didn’t have the words for it back then and just saying that I was sad because my little guy was growing up seemed inadequate. I was excited for him because he was excited and ready for school. I was thrilled for him to blossom like I knew he would as he was challenged to learn more and more. I was amazed at how easily he seemed to manage, a trait I have admired in him over and over as he has grown into a very responsible young man. What I couldn’t grasp back then was how I could be so incredibly proud of him, how I could love him so much and how I could hurt so badly at the same time, but I believe now that it was the fear of change and more specifically the fear of the unknown.

When people move onto a new adventure, we can go along for the ride or we can resist what’s happening. When we can see the benefit for ourselves, it’s easier to let go. When seeing the benefit to us is clouded by what we think we are losing, we suffer. For me, the resistance seems to happen with firsts. I didn’t cry when my second and third children went to preschool or kindergarten for the first time because I knew from the first one that we would all be just fine. The same thing happened with my second book. I felt so much less fear because I knew that whatever happened, I would be fine, and I was. Now that I’m writing my third book, it feels like sending my third child off to school. We do the steps to get ready and we launch; easy peasy. So why did sending my oldest child off to college for the last time set me off? Like when he was in kindergarten, I have no idea what to expect next. He’ll be married by this time next year. He won’t be coming home for breaks and spending time with us like he has before. Our lives will change, and I don’t know if I’ll like the new arrangement. I’m afraid I’ll lose him, and there is the biggie. I’m afraid that the little boy who ran headlong into the preschool room and had to be begged for a hug goodbye, the boy who happily disappeared into the kindergarten classroom, and the boy who couldn’t wait to drive, travel to Europe and go away to college might not come back. I’m afraid that this piece of my heart will fly away and never return, and I have no idea how I would deal with that. It’s a feeling I don’t want to think about, but it’s one that I need to make peace with because when I do, the feeling will subside. Once, when this very brave young man was very small, he was afraid of thunderstorms. I asked him what the worst of the storm could be, and he replied that he could die. We practice a Christian faith, and I asked him what would happen if he died, and he said he would go to Heaven. I then reminded him that as Christians that is the ultimate thing we aspire to, so the worst thing that could happen to him was actually the best thing that could happen to him. He thought about that for a moment, and I could see the stress leaving his body and mind as he relaxed at the thought of going to Heaven. Then he looked at me and said very matter of factly, “but I still don’t want to die.” I laughed and told him I didn’t either but that when we make peace with the worst that can happen, we can move through the fear and he’s been doing that ever since.

Lately, that lesson seems to be coming back to me on a different level. You see, I am very blessed. If you read my blog regularly, you know I also have challenges, but I realized recently that I feel that I have to qualify my blessings with my challenges. It’s like I have this accounting system in my head that needs to balance the good with the bad, so others won’t feel bad about my good. I know I am privileged. I know I am lucky. I am also learning to stop being ashamed of any of that because someone else doesn’t have it. Instead, I intend to use my gifts and my privilege and my luck to make the world a better place in every way that I can because as lucky and privileged as I am, I work hard to make a good life better. I do my best to live with purpose and on purpose. Yes, I understand that not everyone has the ability to do that, but I also understand that many do and choose to blame others rather than take responsibility for their own lives and choices. I know children of World War II survivors whose parents came here with nothing. They taught their families to work hard and save well and now they are very well off financially and people call them lucky and privileged. I know immigrants from Asia that came here with nothing more than a skill to sew or cook and have made a very comfortable life. Many have sponsored others to come here, not expecting repayment, to allow others to live a better life. I know a family who lived in slavery in this country for years until they risked their lives to get free and now live a comfortable life and do what they can to help others. All of them know of others who were not as lucky as they were and are. None of them is ashamed of what they have, but they are grateful, and they inspire me constantly to be a better person. They also remind me that although I may shed a tear or two as my son goes off to college for his final semester, watching him drive away is a privilege, a blessing and a moment to savor. The difference isn’t that he is 22 rather than 3 or 5. The difference is how I choose to look at it, and that is a beautiful thing. I wish you all your very own beautiful things and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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A Slice of My Life

28 Jul

What a week this has been. On Sunday, our aging dog, Jessie, began making a crazy noise while she eats. We know she’s at the end of her time with us. We can see her going downhill, so we took her to the vet on Monday, and the vet confirmed what we’ve been preparing for. It’s time to let her go and do her the service of allowing it to be painless and quick. We have an appointment on Saturday morning to say goodbye to our sweet, furry friend. As much as I know it’s time, I find myself tearing up at the most normal of times. I’m aware of how few times there will be to feed her, to scratch her behind her ear when I tell her goodnight and to have her sit at my feet when I sit on the sofa in our living room. As she has aged, Jessie has become a bit of a nag. She seems happiest when I’m sitting, and she is at my feet. She stands in the living room imploring me with those big brown eyes to sit and rest, and with only days left to indulge her, I find myself drawn to that sofa. I am writing this post while sitting there, and I’ve been doing so much paperwork to spend those moments with my furry friend.

On Saturday, we have an appointment to have my son’s car looked at. It was hit a month ago and since he can only be here on the weekends when he isn’t working, we are very limited to the time we can go to the claims center. My son and husband are in a golf outing in memory of my father in law that afternoon, and I’ll be joining them for dinner with at least 20 of our family members. The thing about life is that life goes on. We have moments that feel like it has stopped, but it never does. The best we can do is savor the good moments and let go of the bad. This week, I’m savoring the feel of my puppy’s fur. I’m watching her sleep like I watched my children when they were little. I tell her she will be able to rest soon, and I’m more emotional about it than I thought I would be, but there is a grace for me in this process. It keeps me from getting overly emotional about politics. It keeps me from being overly critical of myself for moving slower than I would like on the book.

Last week I posted about having more fun, and last weekend I had a blast. I drove 5 hours to Chattanooga to meet two online friends and attend part of a writer’s conference. Then, the following evening, I drove back home. It was a whirlwind and a joy. It was just the kind of fun I’ve been looking for and just the kind of memories that help you get through a week like this that is more challenging. So many people think badly of social media, but I met both of these kindred spirits online. We have nothing in common and yet we have everything in common. We come from different parts of the country. We come from different political backgrounds, a dicey area right now in the US. We have different lifestyles from a traditional mom to a mom who raised her only child while working full time to choosing not to have children. In some ways we shouldn’t be friends, but here’s the joy of it; we all write. One is a published poet who is a force of nature who draws people like a moth to a flame. One is a fiction writer with a keen eye for understanding and creating character. One is a blogger who writes about life. We have the same fears and yet admire each other. We had a fantastic time just being together, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I’ve also joined a blogging group and a WordPress group, and I’m learning there is so much more to learn. I’m also learning that every step is leading me to something else. It might be another gathering or a workshop or a weekend in Chattanooga, but it’s exciting and fun and it’s chasing a dream of writing for a living, even though I’m not sure what form that will take. I’ve written books and enjoyed that. I blog and enjoy that. I’ve begun making videos, and I enjoy that. I’m even working with my future daughter in love and enjoying that. No, that’s not a typo. It’s a phrase I heard years ago and one I like very much. This week has had and will have moments that are challenging and not enjoyable but I find that if I sail with the wind rather than against it, life flows more smoothly. So I’m setting my sails to catch as much wind as I can, and I’ll be sailing along the best I can, and some weeks that’s the best you can do. I wish you a week of smooth sailing and as always, thank you for being you and have a great day.

May I Have This Dance?

2 Jul

Recently, I attended the wedding of my best friend’s son. I’m not sure where else this might happen, but in our part of the country, there is a moment in most receptions that the DJ or singer for the band asks for all married couples to come to the dance floor for a dance. During the dance, the couples are asked to leave the floor depending upon how long they’ve been married. Of course, the newlyweds are the first to vacate the floor, and then the rest of the couples are called out at various intervals. At this particular wedding, the dance floor was filled with married couples. A few couples left at 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, but when my husband and I left the dance floor when they called for everyone under 25 years to leave, over half of the couples were still left. Several left after 30, 35, 40 and 45 years were called, but there were still four couples left after 50 years. The final couple, who also happened to be the grandparents of the groom, has been married 58 years.

I couldn’t help but think what great role models for marriage this young couple has. Then I thought about all the people in this world who don’t have role models like this. I happen to be one of them. My parents said they loved each other, but they didn’t get along. I was born 10 months after my parents married, and I never remember feeling like they were a happy couple. Yes, they had their happy moments, but I never felt like theirs was a marriage that I wanted to emulate. Unfortunately, I did. My first marriage was very much like my parents’ marriage. We could never quite sync up. I felt abused and like I could never be good enough. It wasn’t until I was told I was no longer attractive at 5 ft. 7 in. and 140 pounds that I realized my marriage was in trouble. A week later, after I had lost seven pounds, my then husband commented how good a friend of mine looked because she looked like she had lost weight. I was devastated. I had done the very thing he’d asked me to do, and he didn’t even notice. That was when I knew my marriage was over, and although it might sound like a small thing, it was the culmination of too many small things over several years, and it was time for me to move on. I knew I would never be good enough no matter what I did. It took some weeks of counseling to work up the courage to leave, but I did it. I tell this story because I married again, and it has been wonderful for 23 years. I know what it is to be in the wrong marriage, and I fault no one for walking away from an unhealthy relationship, but to be at a wedding with that many people still married after all that time seemed extraordinary to me. I don’t know all of their stories, but I do know the stories of the grandparents who were the last ones dancing. I know they are older than they look, which is amazing to me because I know they were children in Eastern Europe during World War II. I know their stories, and although they are not mine to tell, I will share that no child should have to live through what either of them did. The most incredible fact, though, is that they have lived a beautiful life since. They raised three boys. They have traveled, and they still volunteer. They are such an inspiration to me, and I find it difficult to complain about my own life whenever I think of them as children.

In some way, they are the reason I am sitting at the keyboard today because this could be a week of self-pity. This week we found out our son needs surgery. For most it would be no big deal, but this is a person for whom a broken bone or needing stitches or even getting the flu can be life threatening. It adds stress, but life is always filled with choices. I could sit on the couch eating chips and/or ice cream while I think about how unfair life is, or I could do something productive that will help me feel better at the end of the day. I chose the latter. I started with calling in an accident claim because someone hit my son’s car this weekend. The good news is that no one was in the car when it was hit and the person who hit him came to the door to tell me. It is inconvenient, but it will be fairly simple to fix and then we can move on with minimal inconvenience. There is so much I could be doing, like every other person I know. I could work in the yard. I could clean the house. I could do laundry, but instead I am sitting at the keyboard because it helps me think and helps me clear my head.

Lately, I have been facing some of the emotional demons that come with setting new goals. I know some people don’t set them because they don’t want to be disappointed. I know some people find it difficult to get started; some find it difficult to follow through, and some get so scared of both failing and succeeding that they shut down from the overwhelm. I’ve experienced every single one of these, but I’ve learned with each goal, that the journey is always worth it. It can be harrowing some days and blissful on others. I’ve found that when we align with our highest purpose, life seems to open up in ways we never expected. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have challenges, but the challenges don’t derail you as much. You realize that no one became successful without some challenges. Nearly everyone knows about someone who overcame great obstacles to be successful. The list is endless; Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Jim Carrey, Steve Jobs and the list goes on. Now, I don’t aspire to have the kind of fame any of those people have, but I do want to make a significant impact with my life. Parenting is one of the ways I’ve made a contribution, and I truly want to help others make that same type of contribution as well. I also want to keep writing books and teaching courses, so I have to keep growing and writing and learning so that I can help others. It’s scary to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, and some days it’s downright frustrating, but those steps out of the comfort zone are helping me to become the person I aspire to be, although I mess it up frequently.

Yes, I mess up. I let days go by without writing or working on any of the other creative endeavors I’ve started. I get frustrated with myself or my family members, and sometimes I react badly rather than respond like the calm, cool and collected person I aspire to be. Some days the undone housework calls louder than the creativity, and sometimes the events of life do the same. This weekend, though, I realized that I have 100 days until my next book launch. It is a schedule that can change a bit, but there is so much to do between now and then. I’m working with a team of amazing people, but most of the work has to come from me. I recently joined a writer’s accountability group, and I’m excited to learn from them. I belong to a private creativity salon, and I am delighted and inspired by them daily. I have goals and dreams beyond anything I could have dreamed when I was younger, but I also have moments that stop me in my tracks, and I am reminded that this journey we call life is rarely a straight line. It is filled with hills and valleys and twists and turns and just when we think we’ve got it figured out, it feels like someone changes the rules. So what’s a girl to do? Well, today I’m putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to do what will make me feel better at the end of the day. I’m choosing to work my way through a to-do list that will make life better. I also put the kettle on and had a lovely cup of tea. It didn’t fix everything, but some days you just do the best you can. Right now doing my best means taking extra care to eat healthier, walk daily and get adequate sleep so that I can write most days and still keep up with the rest of my life. Our tentative date to launch a book about having an easier holiday season is October 4th. I’ll be starting a Facebook group for that soon with a working title of Happiest Holidays with a countdown and lots of extras along the way. Next Thursday, I’m due to debut my online course called Mom Mastery. It’s a four week course designed to help moms create a more peaceful and stress free life, so there’s much to do, and I’m loving life as much as possible while I am helping others to do the same. It’s a life I love and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I hope you’ll come along and join in the fun wherever it suits you, and if none of it does, I hope you’ll continue to hang out with me here. If you know my life, you know it’s rarely boring, and my motto is almost always, the more the merrier. For those in the US, have a spectacular holiday weekend. For those in other parts of the world, I still wish you a wonderful weekend. It just won’t be quite as long as ours. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Bigger than the Book Journey

9 Jun

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, partly because of a book launch and partly because of a crisis of faith; not the capital F type of Faith because as low as I’ve been in my life, that one seems to stay intact. Rather it is the little F of faith that has been shaken – faith in humanity and the goodness of others. For those who follow the blog or my Better Living Daily Facebook page, you know about the book launch last month. I am very proud of Everyday Heroes of Motherhood. For those who haven’t read it, it is a series of letters to those who have been a great influence on my own motherhood journey. It isn’t scientific or filled with facts and figures. It is a work of the heart to encourage mothers of every kind, including those who have not given birth, to understand that people do watch and appreciate moms who do their best, regardless of their circumstances. It was a labor of love to write the book. It was a series of huge leaps out of my comfort zone to bring the book to market, and it has been an incredible life experience to see the best and worst in others as they have reacted to the book itself.

Most of the response has been incredibly positive. I’ve been contacted by people I wrote letters to in the past who remember what I wrote and how it helped them in a difficult time. It’s nice to know that the letters fulfilled their intended purposes. Most of the women I included in the book were shocked to think I wanted to include them because they were doing what they do, not to be noticed, but just to mother the best they can, and that was what I found inspiring. Each letter is truly about how my life changed because of these people, and I can only hope that they will inspire others as much as they have inspired me. One person even told me that she is inspired to write a book about her unique mothering situation because of my book. I know what her situation is, and I am sure that she will be able to help so many people by writing her book, and that brings me to today’s blog.

Not all of the feedback has been positive. Some of it has been through innuendo and not so nice comments and some of them have hurt. I’ve hashed them over with my husband, who reminds me that none of the people who have been critical have actually written a book, much less published one. I’ve talked things over with a close friend who reminds me that if they criticize me and/or the book, they miss the point of the book entirely. And I’ve turned the most hurtful comments over to the Divine, who in subtle ways reminds me that those comments are much more about the person who espouses them than it ever is about me. The only reason for me to put any stock in them is if I agree with them, which in most cases, I don’t, but if I do, I can thank the person for showing me where I need to grow.

You see, I’m well aware that this is not the next great American novel. I never set out for it to be. I am aware that it is not some great scholarly work filled with charts and studies. I wasn’t reaching for that either. What this book attempts to be is a way to encourage moms in every life situation. I’ve been a mom for over two decades, and I dedicated my life to being the best mom I can. I’ve read books and listened to programs and taken classes along the way. I’ve spent my life improving myself to improve my parenting, and although I’m far from perfect, I have given my very best to my husband and children as I know so many others have. The amazing part of life is that my best mothering is so very different from what others’ best mothering looks like. It’s why I have loved writing the book and why I love working with moms who are struggling because I know we can always get better, whatever that means to each of us.

Yesterday, I was reminded of one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned; that life is a choice. I read a challenge years ago to replace the phrases “have to”, “need to”, “ought to”, “should” or anything like that with “choose to” or “could choose to”. Imagine choosing to clean, do laundry, change the baby’s diaper, pay bills, go to work, or any other number of things we normally complain about. It was one of the most eye opening life exercises I’ve ever gone through. It changed my life because I realized nearly everything is a choice. We might not like the choices we are faced with, but everything is a choice. This morning I woke up to dog barf and dog poop in my house. Our dog is old, and she is sick. She has an inflamed gall bladder, but the removal of the gall bladder is costly and there are no guarantees that it will help her, and even if it does help her, there is no guarantee that is the only problem. She is twelve years old and coming to the end of her life. Truly, I have been cleaning up dog barf for most mornings during the past four months; thank goodness for piddle pads. Most days she hits the pad when she gets sick. We’re not so lucky with the poop, but luckily we have hardwood floors, so I’m not scrubbing carpets, and it is not a daily occurrence. I could leave the mess for one of my boys to clean. I could complain about it, which I do from time to time, but most days I choose to clean it up and just go on with life, knowing that the dog’s time to leave us is coming soon and being upset with her doesn’t help anyone.

I’ve tried to use this same lesson with the few negative moments with my book journey. I could choose to grouse and be upset and feel horrible about myself, which I have done on occasion. I am human after all. But the pity party is usually a short one because writing the two books that I have published has been an incredible journey of personal growth that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It is fueling the next two books and perhaps a course that will help others as well, and this time I get to work with some of my favorite people in the world to make it happen. At one point in this process I told one of my mentors that I was so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn’t even see it anymore. Her response? Good, that’s where growth happens, and I have certainly done some of that. It hasn’t been easy because putting your words out there for a writer is like displaying a piece of your soul. I’ve done it twice now and the process was still difficult the second time. I faced so many of my personal demons, not about the content because I knew the stories were amazing, but about my ability to tell them in a way that would touch others as much as they touched me. I feel that with every blog post on some level as well because I want this process to be helpful for everyone who reads the blog or what’s the point? So, I hope this blog post has helped you in some way. This journey has certainly helped me define who I want to be and how I want to be in this world, and I am grateful that it has helped me be a more caring, loving and encouraging person. It is a wonderful way to live, and I am blessed to be on the journey with all who choose to come along. I am hoping to be more present with the blog now that the big push is over, but regardless, I wish you all a joy filled and peaceful journey each day. I also hope that each of you will find a dream that you are willing to pursue, one that stretches you and helps you become a better person because all those I know who have pursued a dream, especially those who have achieved those dreams, are the most supportive people of others dreams that I have ever met. I believe we need more of that in the world, and I am finding more and more people who agree with me on that, which restores my faith in humanity. Dream big, and if you need a cheerleader, coach or friend who will believe in you, you can find me here, on my Better Living Daily Facebook page or connect with me on LinkedIn as Karen Bemmes. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Thanking Mothers and Others

14 Apr

Love Letters to Mom Day (1)Some days the words flow out of me and I am in awe of how the Divine works. Other days, I completely understand Ernest Hemingway when he said that writing was nothing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. Although we’re on keyboards and screens these days, the idea is the same. Some days the words fly, and some days you wrestle them to the ground. Today I felt like I was on the losing end of that wrestling match. Maybe it’s because I have a task associated with my writing, which is rarely the case. On Thursday May 5th I’ll be launching a book titled, Everyday Heroes of Motherhood, Love Letters to Extraordinary Moms. The book is a celebration of motherhood in its many forms, traditional and nontraditional. On that same day, I am calling on everyone to participate in Love Letters to Mom Day, a day that will celebrate great mothering moments whether it came from the woman who gave you birth, direction, belief or love. The roles of mothers are more diverse now than ever. Some women work full time. Some work part time. Women raise children alone by choice and by chance and some raise children they didn’t give birth to . Some mother in traditional ways and some use a screen, and so many have been mothered beautifully by those who would never even call themselves a mother at all.

I’ve been working with a coach and a team to help me bring this book to market. If you ever want to write and self-publish a book, I highly recommend Bestseller in a Weekend and the Publish to Profit follow up program. I love the energy of the writing and the coaching group. I love the idea of Love Letters to Mom Day. I love the sometimes hilariously crazy ideas they have given me for all of the other marketing, but when I sat down at the keyboard to bring it to all of you, it came out stilted and stupid. It sounded like a bad infomercial. Crap! Then I realized I was trying to sell the idea of the day and the book, and that isn’t what it’s about at all. I’ve been a letter writer all my life. I send letters to encourage, to comfort and to let people know what they mean to me. I especially love sending them when they aren’t expected, and I used to wonder whether they meant anything to the recipient until one day, a former coach of one of my children showed me a tattered envelope in the back of his planner with a letter I had written several years before to thank him for being a great coach and a great role model. He told me that he looked at that letter whenever he needed encouragement and to remember that some parents did appreciate what he did as a coach and as a role model to his athletes. I understood at that moment that those words mattered; not the words themselves, but the meaning behind them. It wasn’t about being eloquent. It was about speaking from the heart, and that’s what I want Love Letters Day to be. I want those who need it and those who deserve it to get some recognition. I want people to write to that teacher, that friend, that family member who did something that changed you for the better to know how much it meant to you, especially if you never told them. Don’t know where to send them? We are hoping to work with local and national media to share this idea, so maybe your letter will reach the recipient that way. Maybe we’ll launch another book with those letters in them. I have no idea where this idea is going to take me, but I am excited to share the letters I’ve written to some amazing moms and even more excited to send my letter to a woman who helped make this day possible. I only wish I could be there when she reads it, so join me friends, and I’ll let you know what other shenanigans we’ll be getting up to on May 5th and the days leading up to it. I’m getting out of my comfort zone in a way I never have before to make this all happen, including creating the artwork for this blog post, so who knows what could happen? I certainly don’t, but I can hardly wait to find out. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day!

The Up and Down Weekend

24 Mar

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8558331

I’m about to write something I rarely write or even think. This weekend sucked; well, parts of it did. All three of my boys, at two different colleges and one still in high school, had the weekend off for spring break, although one was on his way back to campus from Florida and could only stay for a night or two, but having my boys home at the same time is always a treat. I was invited to a shower, and I hadn’t seen most of the people there for years so it was a great time to catch up. I had dinner with some of my high school friends, two of whom I hadn’t spent time with in about five years. It should have been one of my best weekends in a long time, and in some ways it was, but in other ways, it was the worst weekend I had been through because my husband and I are out of sync. It hurts to type that, but it’s true. It happens now and then and we both hate it, but I’ve learned that we can come through it stronger when we both let go of what we think should have happened and move on with a new plan and a renewed spirit. The monkey wrench in the works this week is that I’m preparing for Easter and he’s out of town. We can’t look each other in the eye and hold hands and hug it out like we usually do. What we’re left with is email and texts and phone calls that can only happen after work because he is on site and can’t just casually disappear for an hour at lunch. I’ve been grousing about is all day in my head, and I have been to some pretty ugly and dark corners. Part of me wants to forgive everything and just go on pretending everything will be fine, but the wiser part of me knows that we need to talk this one out because if we just let it slide, it will keep happening until we address the real issues. What are the real issues? I think that depends on which one of us you talk to. From his perspective, he feels like he is trying to do everything that he can to make me happy. He just wants me to tell him what to do, and he will do it. He assures me that as I come close to finishing my next book and creating a coaching program that he and the boys will step up and do whatever needs to be done, and I am hopeful that they will do exactly what he promises, until Saturday happened.

Admittedly, I made most of the mess that I left in the kitchen, but my husband assured me that he would take care of the dishes. I also left a load of whites in the dryer and asked him to get them out, and he assured me he would take care of that as well. He also had planned to work in the basement because Easter is early, and we host 40-60 people, and if it’s cold and rainy, we need somewhere to put everyone, including the basement. I’ve been asking since December for my guys to clean up the basement. I’ve done pretty much as much as I can on my own and need their input and muscle to get the rest of the basement usable and safe for younger children. All four of my guys are wood workers and we have a decent set of power tools and machines to make their projects easier. Did I mention I’ve been asking since December for 15 minutes per week? On Saturday, it wasn’t finished, not even close, and I had done most of it. My husband had golf plans on Sunday and was leaving town on Monday, not returning until Wednesday, after garbage had been picked up for the week. Doesn’t sound like a big deal but since we fill the garbage can on Easter Sunday, its best if we don’t fill it beforehand. So, on Saturday evening, when I got home, there were clean dishes in the dishwasher, but the table was still a mess with dirty ones. The laundry was out of the dryer but was still in the basket unfolded, and the basement was still far from being finished. I was hurt. I was angry, and I felt betrayed.

That might sound like a strong reaction to one day, but as I thought about it, I realized it was the symptom of a much bigger issue between my husband and me. When I wrote my first book, we both had to face so many fears. What should have taken a few months ended up taking two years. This time it’s taken me a much shorter time to finish a book, but I’m also creating a coaching course to go along with the book. It’s a much bigger endeavor, and it requires so much more of my time and effort. I am in a constant battle of what needs my attention most: my home, my family or my work. I have worked for twenty years to have a family and home I’m proud of, but I am feeling called to do this work. My family is very encouraging and tells me often that they will be happy to step up, but we’ve gotten into an unhealthy pattern. I ask, and they ignore me until I scream, yell or become so angry, they look at me like I’m a lunatic and figure they better comply before I go completely mental. I’ve been aware of it for years with my children, and for the most part, we’ve gotten passed it. I actually tell them that I would really appreciate it if they would comply before I turn into a raving lunatic, and they get the message. It isn’t threatening; it’s just a realization that doing what’s being asked is easier on all of us, especially since I take great steps to give an appropriate amount of time to do the task and make the task reasonable. If it doesn’t happen, though, at some point you have to call the person out or do it yourself. That’s when things went wrong for us this weekend. I called my husband out when we were both tired and under-slept, so neither of us was in a reasonable mood, the evening ended badly, and the next day didn’t go well either. Now, he’s hundreds of miles away.

This morning I read a blog post of a fellow mom blogger, and it’s amazing how reading someone else’s perspective can change yours. Her blog post, Nest Stress, http://shalavee.com/nest-stress/ got to me in a strange way. When I read her post, I realized we were having our own version of nest stress, and we have to be careful not to knock over the rocking nest. It has rocked before and it will probably rock again, but right now we’re trying to steady the wobble so we can enjoy this week of spring break and get ready for Easter with less and less stress. That was goal three months ago and is still the goal today; make progress and enjoy the process as much as possible. Today my kids pitched in, on order from their dad. We made progress. I don’t know how much they enjoyed it, but I think they’re proud of what we accomplished. I’m slowly on the mend from this weekend and I hope my husband is too. I wish he was here so we could work this out. I wish it wasn’t so exhausting. I wish I had a magic wand that could make it all happen without effort, but it’s bringing clarity to so many things that I may yet find a blessing and a miracle somewhere in the mess. My husband has apologized by email. I haven’t yet replied because this blog post will be my reply. I’ll get his input, and perhaps post a follow up before I even post the original. Perhaps this blog post will never see the light of day other than in his inbox, but I felt compelled to write about it to process my own anger and frustration and figure out the next best steps to take. I want to finish the book. I want to make my family proud. I want my family to step up, and I want us all to have the best spring break and Easter possible. As an eternal optimist, I believe that can happen, and being that it’s Holy Week, I can think of no better time for a miracle. So that’s what’s happening in my corner of the world. I hope your weekend was better than mine, and I hope we all have an amazing Easter weekend however we choose to celebrate or not.

Postscript – The hubs and I talked and more importantly, we listened. Isn’t rainbows and unicorns, but it’s better, much better. We are moving forward with a better understanding of each other, where we think our lives are headed and what got us out of sync in the first place. I am grateful for a man who is willing to listen and to talk and for a blog post that helped me get passed my own nest stress. Thanks for being you and have a great day!

Divine Whispers and Bricks

3 Mar
Our newly painted kitchen

Our newly painted kitchen

 

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Some days I feel like the Divine whispers to me, and I need to be still to listen. Some days I feel like the Divine hits me upside the head with a brick. I meditate to hear the whispers, and I am sometimes surprised by the bricks that accompany the whispers. The other day was a combination of whispers and bricks that leaves me laughing at myself and humanity in general.

Unless you are brand new to the blog, you know that I’ve been involved in a creativity bootcamp that ran the entire month of February. My goal was to finish a manuscript for one of the books I’m writing. I didn’t make it. I’m much closer than I was at the beginning of the month, but life got in the way, sort of. You see, I was excited to see that I had nothing on the schedule for the last weekend of the month. Friday through Sunday was wide open so I could spend as much time as I wanted writing, and life happened. My sister in law, who teaches Physical Education at a small private school asked me to help her teach volleyball on Friday. I’ve played, coached and/or been an official the sport for nearly forty years, so I know the game well. I said yes. Then, my oldest son decided to visit for the weekend. He will be graduating college in December and has recently gotten engaged, so I know our time with him is limited and I welcome every moment we get to spend with him. It was not the weekend I planned, but I figured it was the one the Divine wanted me to have, so I decided I would write early and move on with the day after that. On Friday morning, I felt awful and chose to lay down for a bit to see if I could shake whatever was making me feel ill. I felt great when I woke up but didn’t have time to write before I had to be out the door. By the time I came home, I had to pick up my youngest from school, and I was exhausted and no writing happened.

Saturday, I woke up and thought I would get plenty of writing accomplished before we headed to church in the afternoon, but apparently the Divine had other ideas for my day. My husband woke up with the idea of finishing the marathon painting of the kitchen that had been going on. I’ve been painting the kitchen ever so slowly (taking over a month because I found out I needed to paint the trim as well as the walls), and I was to a point where I really needed help to pull out appliances and do a few other jobs to keep the job moving along. My husband detests painting, so it was shocking to see him be so motivated. I’m sure he was sick of seeing our kitchen torn up and the cabinet doors missing. Those details don’t bother me much, but they get to him. I wish I could tell you I was thrilled for the help and we worked swimmingly together, but that wasn’t the case. He is a very detail oriented person. I am a big picture girl. We are a great team most of the time, but we did not start off that way Saturday morning. I was resentful that he “high jacked” my morning, although I never told him that I had planned to write all day. I felt like he was silently commenting on the fact that I wasn’t moving fast enough on the painting of the kitchen, although he never said anything to confirm that. I felt judged and angry and overwhelmed, and frankly, I was not hiding it well. I went to the basement to take a breath and walk away from the situation and just think. Why was this upsetting me so? Why was working with him such a struggle? After a few minutes, my husband came downstairs to check on me. I admitted that I was struggling, and I didn’t know why, but just being willing to admit that seemed to soften the situation. We talked about what each of us was doing that was irritating the other, and we worked the rest of the day without issue. It wasn’t until Sunday morning while meditating that the cosmic brick came flying.

It has been said that prayer is when you talk to the Divine and meditation is when the Divine talks to you. I made a goal at the beginning of the month to finish a manuscript and paint the kitchen. I knew I wasn’t going to finish the manuscript and was disappointed with myself. I am not the greatest at finishing tasks, so I was feeling particularly upset with myself that I had failed once again. Within minutes of feeling that way, my husband began talking about painting the kitchen and being able to work together to finish the painting by the end of the weekend. I was so focused on my failure to finish the manuscript that I totally missed the blessing in front of me. Here was this man who detested painting offering up his day to help me, and I was resisting the help. It wasn’t until the next morning, while meditating, that I realized what a beautiful gift I’d been given. The kitchen is now finished. I love the color. I love the progress, but most of all; I love that man for putting up with his grouchy wife when she couldn’t see the miracle and blessing she was receiving until later. We’ve talked about it, by the way, and he thought it was hilarious because he really couldn’t pinpoint why he felt so motivated to help me and now playfully blames me and the Divine for inspiring to do something he normally does not like doing.

The irony is that everywhere I look these days I seem to see things that say to receive a miracle, you have to be willing to receive it, but miracles don’t always look like we think they will. We have this idea that if we get a miracle, we get everything we want. I am finding that miracles and blessings don’t work that way. Sometimes, miracles and blessings come disguised as work or heartache. Sometimes it’s only when we look back that we can see them for what they truly are; at least that’s the case for me. When I was getting divorced from my first husband, it didn’t feel like a blessing, but it led me to the life I have now, so it surely was one. When my dad was dying of cancer, it didn’t feel like a miracle, but we healed a lifetime of hurts and pain and when he passed I could let him go with love rather than regret. When my father in law was passing from cancer no one thought it could be a blessing but knowing that each of us had the opportunity to tell him what he meant to us and in my case, to thank him for loving me and my children and for raising such a fine father for them is one of my most cherished memories. Each one of these things ended up being such a blessing in my life eventually, but it didn’t always feel like it while I was going through it.

This time when I realized the blessing I was receiving, I had laundry in the washer and the dryer that needed attention. I had half of a kitchen painted. I was still in my pajamas because that is one of the perks of being a writer. You don’t have to get dressed to go to the office, especially when you get hit by a Divine brick on a Sunday morning. I now have a kitchen that is painted and thrills me when I look at it. I love the color. I love that there is less clutter, but most of all, I love that it will constantly remind me of the blessings and miracles that happen in life even when we are not aware of them. I’m still wishing for, praying for and working on being open to miracles and blessings. I hope for my husband’s sake that I get better at recognizing them when they show up, especially with him as the delivery system, but even if I don’t, I’ll figure it out eventually and be as grateful when I do as I am for those I have already figured out. I would wish you all the same miracles and blessings, but I know we don’t all wish for the same things. Instead, I’ll wish that each of you finds your best life, your best path and the best miracles and blessings for your life. As always, thanks for taking the time to read this, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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