Unpacking my suitcase and my heart…

I totally unpacked my suitcase today.  I just dumped it out on the floor. Socks, shorts, pj’s, underwear, shirts,loose change  and little pieces of trash spread in a not so artistic heap on the rug at the end of my bed.  I  went to the bathroom and dumped my other bag and watched my makeup, hairdryer, shampoo and other stuff tumble  all over the vanity and into the sinks.

I shut the door and walked away.  Later tonight or tomorrow I will gather it up and repack it for the umpteenth time since March 31st.

Max , my goofy golden retriever, understands.  I dumped his bag out as well  and then hid it.  He is tired of being packed up as well.

I wish it was as easy to unpack my heart.

I didn’t mean to put my grief on hold.  It just happened.  I was the one to make the phone calls.  My sisters cried, my brother swore. I immediately went into nurse mode where I parked my emotions and did the tasks at hand.  I packed as quickly as I could and got on the road to be with Mom.

Almost 3 months later I have not spent an entire week at home.  I long for that sense of routine, the comfort of my own bed, and the warmth of familiar surroundings.  I get a few days here and there but not enough to settle in and truly be with all that has happened.

I need that time to unpack my heart.

Unpacking my heart cannot be done quickly.  Unlike my suitcase I will not unceremoniously dump it onto the floor.  It will take some care and finesse.  I want to embrace the memories and feel my Dads’ presence as I unpack.  Much like pulling a well loved book or photo off the shelf I see myself running my hand over the cover or image and smiling as the texture of each memory feels familiar in my hand and my heart.  Gently I will place it where it will wait patiently  to be brought forth again and again and fill me not with sorrow but with gratitude and joy.

I needed to dump my suitcase today if for nothing else than to realize I cannot do the same to my heart.  A gesture out of frustration and weariness unexpectedly led me to a new beginning.

Everyday I have prayed for guidance to help my family and especially my Mom.  I forgot to pray for my own needs and yet I realized today I was not forgotten. I did not ask and yet I received.

I know He  will be beside me as I unpack my heart and I am grateful for His presence.

 

 

 

 

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My Year of Wonder Vs. My Year of Sadness

I’ve fallen down on the job, faltered on my own commitment to pause, be in the moment and savor each one.  Or maybe not.  I started my project “My Year of Wonder” on my  birthday in January and vowed to take a photo each day and post it to Instagram as a way of honoring my word of the year “Wonder”.

As I mentioned in my first post about this project ( find it here) I wanted to make my word of the year an important part of my life.  Wonder might not be a verb but I really wanted to make it one.

And it worked!

I missed a few days here and there but vowed to catch up.  I wanted and did make it a fun thing to do and not a “have to” or an obligation that made me drag myself out of bed at 11:30 pm because I suddenly remembered I hadn’t posted that day.

New things popped up on my daily walks with my goofy golden, Max.  Everywhere I went there seemed to something new in the old and familiar.  I was slowing down to take in these things I had missed so many times before.  It was a glorious wondrous start to my new year!

It worked… it worked really really well until…… a rainy, dreary March 31st.  My very active, fun loving, joke telling  90 yr old Dad died quite suddenly from a heart attack.

 

Just as suddenly as he died my year of wonder turned into my year of sadness.

 

Not much seemed important anymore.  Posting on Instagram seemed to fall to that list of things that no longer mattered.  That unwritten list was incredibly long and I silently beat myself up for even thinking such things had any significance at all.

The month of April is pretty much a blur of not being home, paperwork, supporting my Mom, more paperwork and trying to find some time for myself to reconnect, to breathe and to grieve.

As life starts to settle down a tiny bit and I get back to some of the things on that unimportant list I actually thought of changing my project from “My Year of Wonder” to “My Year of Sadness”.

SERIOUSLY????

My Dad would NOT have approved.

After all he left me a lot to celebrate and  be in “wonder” about!

  • At 90 he had more energy than most people
  • We had to plead with him not to get on the roof ( we failed)
  • He told more funny involved stories than anyone I know
  • How he remembered all those jokes and stories is beyond me
  • He demonstrated to our family, his grandkids and great grandkids how to stay active until the last minute

Mom and Dad celebrating 65 years together 2016

In honor of my Dad it will continue to be My Year of Wonder and I don’t have to wonder one bit if he will approve.

Go out today and celebrate your life…it is a  “wonder” ful life!

Love you Dad!!

 

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In the midst of my year of running, life happened ..sadly!

After a long absence from running which I blamed on breaking my wrist a year ago ( lame excuse but an excuse) I started out the new year with high hopes to get back into running consistently and training for a local 10k on April 1st.  The irony of having my first race of 2017 on April Fools Day did  not escape me.

I was doing well but got discouraged.  Despite joining a training team and being more consistent I was  slow, tired and my legs ached all the time.  The slow part didn’t bother me as I have never been fast.  The fatigue and aching legs did concern me.

I took a break when we had a trip out West.  I planned to do a 5k trail run but it turned into a hike because the trail was uphill, full of big rocks and loose gravel and if it hadn’t been for the guys ( Go Navy!) I was with I would have face planted several times.  Still it was a workout.

Came home and I was on fire.  That little rest did me a world of good and just this past week I ran three times.  Here was my thought process after each run:

First run: “Wow that was great, I’ve got this..I think there is a marathon in my future

Second run:  ” That was challenging…man I hurt but hey I did it…not sure about a marathon”

Third run:  “I’m either going to puke or die right now”

I survived and as they say ( whoever “they” are) :

A bad run is just a bad run Click To Tweet

Except I ran all this mileage in three days and proceeded to perfect the fine art of tossing my cookies on run #3.

Not my best moment..not my worst but not my best.

Update:  I had no idea my worst moment was just on the horizon.

I wrote this the middle of  March.  It appeared that this would be my year for running.  I was excited about my consistency, my dedication and the irony that the 10k I had planned was on April 1st.  I even had several half marathons planned.

And yet as they say “Life happens” and on March 31st my worst moment came when my Dad suddenly died and my life got turned upside down.  He lived a good long life and was active up until the very last minute.  I miss him terribly and running is hard with a heavy heart but after 3 weeks it is time to get back into it because running is my therapy in motion.

Obviously I didn’t get to do the 10k but my Dad would want me to look forward not behind.  Not sure what races I will do but Dad will be cheering me on and he will be with me especially when it gets hard.

Love you Dad

Miss you Dad

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday….We’ve all said this but please stop!

I was watching a heartbreaking video by a Mom about her severely non verbal  autistic son.  It was sincere, honest and brought me to tears.  She was confessing that she had to let go of the dreams she originally had for her son.  We all have those dreams for our children.  Dreams of success, adventures and possibilities.

This Mom had one last dream for her son.  To be happy. She was struggling to let that be enough and at the same time  she was dreading going into work because the night before she and many of her co-workers went with their children to see Elmo. Her  friends witnessed  the struggles she was having with her son.  That was okay with her and not what she was dreading.

She was dreading the one sentence that we all say.  We mean it as a compliment but it really isn’t despite our good intentions.

That one sentence is ” I don’t know how you do it”

Innocent enough.  It has been said to me multiple times over the years when Paul was on Navy Deployments, when my kids were little and when I was going to school and Paul was traveling and most recently while he has been working 1300 miles away from home.

I’m sure that Mom would like to say out loud to those who “compliment ” her what was being said in her head:

“Wait don’t you get it?  I don’t have a choice.  This is my life and I do what needs to be done just like you would and by saying that you are also saying to me that you are so glad it’s not you.  You may have never intended to say that but the subtle message is there.”

In my current situation we did have a choice and I chose to stay here and let him go to a job that he really wanted and we knew it would be semi-temporary.  Yet wives of military guys, Moms of special needs kids or parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s have no choice.  Neither do the people who lose spouses or children to cancer, car accidents, or heart attacks.

We do what we have to do.

Please do not beat yourself as you think back about ALL the times you have said it.  We all have.  Now you know it’s not really a compliment.  Find something else to say.  Bring her a cup of coffee, or flowers, a post it  with a sweet note or chocolate.  Chocolate is always good. Make her laugh!

Most times in these situations you can’t change what has happened or what is happening and it  will continue to be a part of your friend or loved ones life.  You CAN be there for them in little ways and those seemingly little ways are HUGE!!

Words are powerful, use them wisely.  Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One!!!

P.S.  Here is the link to the heartfelt video from Cooper’s Mom :https://www.facebook.com/findingcoopersvoice/videos/823629497779513/

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Forever and Always My Baby You’ll Be!

All those parenting books never tell you the one truth that you have to figure out on your own.  Parenting never ends.  No matter how old your children get, or how many amazing grandchildren they give you, you never stop being their parent.

Nope!

And it is all okay.  We signed up for this gig many many years ago and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but some days  my heart is a little more tender than others.

This past Monday we waved good-bye to our youngest and only son. He is heading overseas to a new job and we probably won’t see him for another year.  It was time for him to go.  He had taken a break from his previous job and stayed with us for a few months and now he is on to new adventures.  Still I started missing him the moment he firmed up his travel arrangements.

He is a grown man and has been out on his own for several years and yet I did not see a grown man wave to us one last time as he walked down the jetway.  This is what I saw:

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At home in a way too quiet house I sought to console myself.  My husband ( as Dads tend to be) was more philosophical about it relying on the knowledge that it was time for him to move on.  I needed something.  So I baked chocolate chip cookies, ate way too many and saved the rest for the grandkids.

I am grateful for the long visit we had, his sense of humor and especially that THIS time I did not need a hazmat suit to enter his room after he left!   He left his mark as most adult children do.  I will be spending the next couple of months figuring out where he put stuff  away in the kitchen.  He tried but I am finding things in the oddest places.

I am also grateful that we can Skype, text message or hangout thanks to Google.

And yet this week will be one of continual Thoughtful Thursdays and honoring all my emotions.

Most of all I am grateful that this parenting gig never ends and my children, no matter how old they get, are always with me even when they are far away.

And yes even when I find petrified PB&J’s under the bed along with dirty laundry. Some things never change!!

There will come a day when he finds the same stuff under his son’s bed!

So your assignment this week is to go out and be thoughtful to yourself and give yourself permission to stretch Thoughtful Thursday into a whole week..sometimes you need it.  Well that and some warm chocolate chip cookies and  a big hug.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful one!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! The Boomerang Effect of Great Ideas!

So a couple of years ago I had this idea.  I have no idea where it came from but it certainly came from a place of love.  We had 5 of our 6 grandchildren in quick succession.  One a year for 5 years ( 2 are only 5 months apart)!

Whoa!  I barely had time to get used to being a Grandma when they came fast and furious. Obviously my little talk about us being a fertile family did not take!

Needless to say it was a little like Romper Room around here when they came to visit.  And just when I was wistfully thinking about what I would do with 3 pack n plays little Tristun made an appearance to even us out at 3 granddaughters and 3 grandsons!

I wanted some one on one time with each of them so I came up with Grandma and Me day.  It has been a huge success and a scheduling challenge since 5 out of the 6 are now in school and we love to do it in the summer!

Here is the very amazing part.  While it is my gift to them I have had the privilege and joy of getting to know them outside of their family and away from their siblings. It was so surprising to see how different they are when it is just me and them!  I get to see a whole new side of them and it is so fun.

We get to talk, do quiet or very loud things and lately VERY adventurous things
( hope my body holds out).

I see aspects of their grandpa, their parents,  and their aunts and uncles.  Common traits that touch my heart to see them continuing on in a new generation.

So all this time I thought I was doing this really fun grandma thing FOR them.  Little did I know how very much it would also be fun and heartwarming for me!

From shoe shopping and fashion shows ( with my clothes and shoes) to swimming, ice skating in the summer and swinging from the trees at “Go Ape” it has been a blast.

So my Thoughtful Thursday challenge to all of you is this..go have some one on one time with someone you always see in a group or family..it could be your Mom or Dad, a sibling, an Aunt or Uncle, a co-worker, or a friend.  You will appreciate a whole new vision of them and it will do your heart good! And as always..go make it a Thoughtful One!

Here are a few photos from our latest adventures!

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Living Single While Very Married… The Mystery of the Burnt Out Bulb..

Any of you fans of Nancy Drew when you were growing up?  I was and at least one of those books kept me up one night scared to death.  I read “The Ghost of Blackwood Hall” one warm summer night in the back bedroom of my grandparents farmhouse.  All the adults were downstairs and I could hear their voices drift up the back staircase and yet when I finished the book and turned out the lights every single noise scared me.  From the big clock ticking in the hallway to the old  furniture creaking as it adjusted to the heat. Yes old furniture contracts and expands as the weather changes and voices its  opinion of the warm non air-conditioned  house by making very scary noises.  Well at 10 years old they scared me.

I survived the night but never read another mystery late at night and all these years later I still remember that book vividly.img_1204

Fast forward to the present day and I discovered I had my own mysteries to solve right here at my house.  Not as scary as the ghost in the old mansion but almost as perplexing.

With Paul busy learning the ropes of his new job many miles away I had lots of projects to get done as well as keep up with house.  Strange things started to happen.  The lighting just wasn’t the same, my car started looking like a Christmas tree with all the lights that blinked on the dashboard, laundry took forever, cabinet doors were open and I kept cracking my head on them and the yard was out of control.

To be honest the funniest one was the light bulbs…I saw many had burnt out and I meant to change them, really I did but for some reason I didn’t.  It took me awhile to figure out why I was waiting and this time it just wasn’t the procrastination gene I inherited.

The mystery was easy to solve.  All of these things and many more were all things that Paul took care of and either I never noticed or it just wasn’t on my radar to do.  The light bulbs go out all the time but he is so quick to change them that I never bothered.

The car maintenance was also his deal and we both dropped the ball on getting it inspected ( a nice military officer informed me it was 4 months overdue and no I couldn’t get on base with an expired inspection sticker..yikes)! How I escaped getting a ticket is yet another mystery.

The cabinet doors..well I have a really bad habit of not closing them and Paul always closed them if I forgot.

The laundry..well he always helped, especially with the folding.  I sure wish someone would invent a folding and put away machine.  As for the yard..no matter how hard I tried it just didn’t look as good as when he did it..I managed and it was a good work out but not my forte.

Changing the light bulbs just reminded me that he would not be home to do it for a long time.  The other stuff gave me new appreciation for all he does around here that I did not notice.

Many people thought and still think we were crazy to do this living single while very married thing.  Maybe we are but so many good things have happened.   It has given us new appreciation for the little things we do each day to help each other out.  It gave us a taste for life without each other ( no thanks!)  and our love and commitment to each other has grown.

I can’t say I can recommend doing this to strengthen your relationship but I can tell you that noticing the little things he or she does for you, the family and the house will make you smile and love your special guy or gal even more!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! This gift is always “enough” !

It’s September 1st and while others are mourning the loss of summer I am relishing that things will get back to a regular rhythm. The kids are back in school  (or in my case the grandkids), there will be some really gorgeous fall days and crisp mornings and I, for one, am ready for the change of seasons.

Our family will kick off the fall by celebrating my Dad’s 90th birthday.  I cherish this time I have with my parents and know that each day is a gift.  Except for some hearing issues and forgetfulness my parents are doing well.  The internet and “the facebook” baffle my Mom.  My Dad does know how to send an email or play solitaire on his computer.  Downloads confuse him but then they sometimes hang me up as well.

My Dad requested no gifts for his birthday.  He just wants to be around family.  I actually had to convince him that a family gathering would be nice ( he didn’t want a party).  In the end it was a matter of semantics as we are having a party but not using the “p” word.

Despite my mothers confusion about computers she is aware of Amazon and will ask me to order things.  Recently it was a gift for a friend who is turning 90.  My mother was concerned it wasn’t “enough” of a gift.

We have all been down that road before.

I really dislike the notion of any gift not being “enough”. Who decides what is enough?  My parents are actually going to the party which in my mind is gift enough but my mother would not let it go.

Finally I came up with the perfect addition to the gift.  Feel free to steal this and use this as we approach the holidays.  It is definitely the quintessential one size fits all and will be universally loved by all who receive it.

I told my Mom to write Sylvia a note and include all the special memories they have shared and why her friendship and connection through these many years has meant so much.

It is one thing to know this.  It is one thing to verbalize it.  Having it written down adds a new dimension.  It can be read, and reread, held close to the heart and touched.  Running a hand over a written note can be soothing and a connection can be felt to the words and the time and sentiment that went in to writing the words on paper.

A handwritten note is a gift that fills the heart. It can be read, and reread, held close to the… Click To Tweet

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I’m pretty sure something like this can’t be bought at Amazon…or at any store.

Not to spoil the surprise but I know what I want to give and receive as a gift these coming months..and it is more than enough!

Now you know what to do…go out and make it a Thoughtful one!!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday…Cherishing those 45 seconds

It was a busy weekday afternoon.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Life at my daughters’ house was full of kids, laughter, teasing and loud voices.

The voice of  urgency to get everyone ready for soccer practice rang out a familiar tune as kids ran around getting things together, filling water bottles, looking for lost shoes.

A little deja vu for me from years past.  I sometimes missed those crazy days and enjoyed being in the midst of all the chaos for a bit.

Ava Grace sat on her Dad’s lap getting soccer shoes tied with her long wavy hair in tangles around her head sweaty from a day of soccer camp.  She jumped down and handed me her hair elastic to help her put her hair up.  I was grateful there was no need to brush out the many tangles but I made an attempt as I gathered her hair up and stroked it gently…braid or pony tail ….pony tail…I gathered up her hair like I had done her for her Mom for  many years and quickly made a pony tail wrapping the elastic around it…akin to riding a bike, something I could do blindfolded.

How many times and how many pony tails had I gathered up for my daughters?  Did I relish the moment?  Did I cherish it? Did I know how special it was to have that moment.?  Nope. And  today I got a do over in my heart .

It was only 45 seconds.  Ava Grace did not give it a second thought, but I did.  There is something special and elegantly simple in creating a ponytail.  It is just an everyday ordinary moment that I have done a zillion times. And yet today it meant something.  If felt like an honor to do something so ordinary, so simple.  It is those simple things in life that connect us.  Making a meal together, doing dishes, brushing hair, whispering good nights.

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It is the simple things in life that connect us Click To Tweet

My wish for you on this Thoughtful Thursday is to honor those wonderful but often ignored moments.  Cherish those 45 seconds and savor them.  They are quick but oh so important.  Now you know what to do 🙂  go out and make it Thoughtful One.

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday: # Kindness Counts

Yes !

Kindness counts in so many ways.  

This has been on my mind for a long time.  Just today it came up again as I was reading a post from a blogging friend.  She was uber excited about a trip her family is on and fortunately for those of us who have the pleasure of knowing her, she is keeping us updated on every detail.

Normally I wouldn’t want to hear every detail but this trip is different. The purpose of this trip is both heartbreaking and heartwarming so when I eagerly read her post this morning my heart sank when one of the people commented that she needed to remember the focus of the trip and to curb her enthusiasm.

I wanted to cry.

There is no way my friend could forget the purpose of the trip to Disney or why they were taking it.  She has been preparing for months.  Her organizational skills astonish me.  She has 7 kids.  Most are adopted and have special needs.

I can barely get myself out of the door let alone do it for a family of nine.  And she does it with a smile.

As you may have guessed this  is a “Make a Wish Trip”.  One of her daughters has a limited life span and they are taking the trip while she can enjoy it.

So no she hasn’t forgotten the purpose of the trip .  I applaud her enthusiasm and excitement.  I hope she enjoys it just as much as the kids or even more.

Maybe the person commenting was having a bad day or jealous of their adventure. Who knows?  It’s easy to comment negatively on social media sites.  I wonder if this person would have said the same thing to her in person.

That is my top rule.  If  I wouldn’t say it in person it has no business being posted or written anywhere .

Let’s start a movement of being kind to one another, supporting one another and celebrating others excitement and enthusiasm.

Start now.  Pick up the phone, write a note, celebrate an adventure, support your friends with kindness.

Kindness does count and we all could use a daily infusion of it.

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Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One!!

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