The Best Gift

I could not go without sharing this post from five years ago that I wrote for my mother. Two re-posts in one day…but I think she is worth it. Happy Mothers’ Day to all who are mothers…

BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE

It seems like yesterday that I turned 18 years of age and could not wait to leave home.  That’s what children are supposed to do, right?

And there were many bumps and bruises along the way as I maneuvered (sometimes) aimlessly through this maze of life, unaware too late that time is limited.

I know others who also lament that time passes too quickly, while memories of better times fade.

Yet, the dense fog of hurt, sadness and pride seems to roll-in and hover endlessly. And when that fog finally starts to lift, it is often too late.

Too late to say what needs to be said. Too late to say, “I’m sorry.”

Too late to say, “I love you.”

I am so grateful to have spent Mothers’ Day 2011 WITH my mother. There were far too many other years that I simply sent cards and/or flowers. Oh, to be…

View original post 117 more words

Advertisements

Mothers’ Day Without My Mom

There isn’t a year since my mother passed away that I don’t fight the urge to pick up the phone to call her. I wrote this post three years ago, and I feel the same today, wishing I could hear her voice again.

BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE

It has been (what feels like) forever ago since the last time I saw my Mom. Yet, it is difficult to believe that it will be four years next month since she passed from this earthly world.

On the eve of Mothers’ Day, I find myself thinking about the last Mothers’ Day that she was alive.

I flew down to California to spend a few days.  She was still in a rehab facility, and we were trying to come up with a plan to get her back to her home.

I do not remember a lot about that day. In fact, my memories might be inaccurate, as I was making the trip down every couple of weeks to do what I could. Some of the details (below) about who was there and what all transpired is now a bit fuzzy for me.

I do remember that several of her friends and family…

View original post 346 more words

Shaking off the funk and stepping out

I am just as guilty as the next person of not following through with what I say I want or will do.  It is not easy to admit the truth of this, especially as I become irritated or “butt-hurt” for others doing the same. I suppose when it comes to others and how I react, it is directly tied to those experiences from many years ago.

Now, I can immediately hear some of you out there yelling, “Get over it already! Stop living in the past!”

I get it. I am yelling it with you.  I do not always understand how the circumstances of the past can rear their ugly heads and grab me when I least expect it.  Or maybe it is that I really do expect it?

I have vacillated throughout life between “ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away” mode and “look-at-it-dead-in-the-eye-and-take-it-on” mode. It is classic all-or-nothing behavior.  And yet, it irritates me when I behave this way or I see it in others.

I believe that our past does not define us, but that it does influence us in ways that we do not always see or understand.  But the beauty in being aware of our past is that we can choose to look at our own patterns of behavior as we relate to others and what we decide is important in our lives.

In these last few months, I have allowed myself to fall into a bit of a funk. I have allowed what certain others feel, think, and do to affect my own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

One of my automatic thoughts (of which I have been unaware) has been, “If they don’t care enough to (fill-in-the-blank), as they said they would, then why should I?” 

What I now recognize is my reaction that I learned in my formative years.  It bore deeply into my core, which has given me trouble throughout the years in feeling valued, and has transcended into a limiting belief that value comes from others and whether or not they treat me a certain way or follow through with me in a way that they say they will.

The worst part of it?  I do it, too.  Guilty. I have done it to others.  AND I do it to myself.

Life is a series of lessons and awareness. Understanding our past, and taking responsibility for our current thoughts and behaviors will give us more tools and knowledge to help us as we move forward in our lives.

I am at a stage of life that I am growing weary of having to revisit some of the same lessons.  If I am going to get “butt-hurt” at anyone for not doing what they will say they will do, I might as well look in the mirror.  But even this guilt-move is fruitless.

Today is a new day to consciously follow-through with what I say that I will do. 

And today starts with shaking off clouds of funk,  taking a good look at what I have neglected, and getting showered, dressed, and out for an early morning walk.

 

Why I dislike these cute little kitties

Cute kittens are my enemies. I really don’t like them very much because they are insidious in the way they creep their way into my heart.

They do everything in their power to make me want to like them, acting as if they want me to adopt them. They offer humor, playfulness, occasional cuddling, and so many other things that make them so appealing.

But then… the evil little creatures prick me with their claws, they will rub all over me with their fur, they will sometimes lick my face or hands.

If these things happen I swell up with large bumps from the little claws, my eyes swell shut, my lungs decide to overreact, and I can end up in the hospital.

It’s easier if I just could learn to hate these little devils. Being allergic to them is my hell.

Otherwise, I would have a dozen of them!!

Photo credit: Pixabay, public domain

Walking the walk and walking away

We all have encountered those who go on about how people “should” do this or that, citing common decency and religious values. However, they do not blink an eye when they act out the ugliness within their hearts, somehow able to justify the disparity in their messages from their behavior. I have always been extremely frustrated by those who have mastered talking the talk, but who will not walk the walk.

I do not claim perfection in my life. I know how easy it can be to make the wrong decisions. It is also true that none of us is perfect, and we will trip up from time-to-time.

However, if there is one thing I have learned in life is that I need to pay attention to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

This also means that when people ARE watching, one does not have to amp it up in order to try to impress or compete. Many others will recognize it for what it truly is–ego-driven sanctimony.

All we encounter in life is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. I truly believe this to be truth. However, in the words of a wonderfully wise and dear friend, “…more that the lesson is (theirs) to learn, and (they refuse) to even consider the possibility. Whatever may come, don’t feel you must follow through…it’s OK to walk away…”

Perhaps, “walking the walk” is also learning to be okay with walking away.

Enjoy life? Too much to do first!

As we all go through life, we may look around us and try to justify why we should or should not allow ourselves to do things to relax and have fun, especially if there is something else that needs to be done.

So many of us were taught that being productive is the only way to live one’s life.  Anything else is “laziness.”

Sometimes, the things that we have been taught need to be reexamined.

The all-or-nothing approach to life is not a balanced one. It is one of the reasons that so many of us seem to have  issues with balancing the all of the things we have going on in our lives. We just cannot seem to win.

When we choose to do something that is fun and breathes life into us, even when there are things that stare us in the face that need to be done, we do NOT need to feel shame and guilt for doing so.  We may even hear those damned voices loud and telling us otherwise.

So many of us have come to believe that life is “black or white,” “good or bad,” “either (this) or (that).”  Others fall in the middle with a belief that life is “gray,” all being mixtures of the two.

I have learned (and am continuing to learn) that explanations are not all that simple.

Life is BOTH black-and-white, good-and-bad, this-and-that. Recognizing this as truth allows for us to face the difficult things AND enjoy ourselves in the process. Learning to rid ourselves of the shame and guilt of life is not easy, but by learning how to enjoy life in the midst of all the tough stuff is important!

Photo credit:  Pixabay, public domain

Do it before it’s too late

It’s been nearly eight years ago since a dear friend of mine died at the age of 41 from aggressive metastatic breast cancer.  I met her early in 2006 on a training walk. She had been diagnosed several months earlier, at the age of 37.

We spent some face-to-face time together from time-to-time, but most of our friendship was spent talking on the telephone. There was an instant connection between us, whether we saw one another at events, had lunch together, or talked for minutes or hours.

I was 13 years older than she was, but Kim was wise beyond her years, and I learned so much from her.

As the time came closer to losing her battle, I remember the weekend that Kim, her husband and young son, sister and brother-in-law, and mother went to the coast together to take Dad’s ashes to scatter them into the ocean.  Kim’s Mom had kept the urn in the bedroom for the 10 years, but as Kim told it to me, “She needs to let him go as she faces losing another family member.”

It broke my heart on so many levels. I was glad that they were able to do this as a family.  It certainly marked a moment of reality in their lives.  It was a remarkably bittersweet moment of love and family.

It serves as a reminder to me (to us all?) that family get-togethers are important to take when they are joyous memory builders.  The same can be said for friendships.

How often are we “too busy” to make time for friends and family? How often do we simply NOT take the time for those we say are important to us? How often can you “not afford” to share in moments that may cost nothing more than time and willingness?

At the point that I met Kim, I had not dealt with the loss of too many people, other than those who were quite old.  Losing young people I knew personally was new for me. I could not imagine having lost a child or a sister.

I was as involved as I could be toward her end-of-life. It was not easy, but I learned the pain of life and of death having gone through it with this woman and her family, all whom I loved dearly.

Since Kim’s death in 2010, I have lost some significant people in my life, ranging in age from their 20s to 80s. Each is loved as a child, parent, friend, friend and more. It escapes no one.  I have also know many other people in my life who has shared their heartaches of losing with me.

There is universal advice that I have heard throughout the years since Kim has passed…

Spend time together, no matter how small and insignificant it may seem to be…not just once a year on an obligatory holiday. Whether by phone, through regular mail, or face-to-face, take time to laugh and cry with one another. Let one another know your secrets.  Make memories. Include, do not exclude. Ensure that they feel loved.

Not everyone has as a family that was as intact as what I experienced with Kim and her family.  I was lucky to experience it and to be included in the family as a friend and extended family member.

We can choose friends to be the family we do not have. We can build on what we do have with family members who are important to us.

The important thing to remember is to get-together.  Laugh. Make memories. Love one another. Take time. Show love. Create. And, please…

Do it before “losing another…”

Kim 2009

 

Photo credit:  (Photo 1) My photo of Kim carrying the strength banner at the 2008 Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day.  (Photo 2) 2009 photo shared at her memorial.  Kim passed away in May 2010, just three days before her 42nd birthday.

Forgiveness

Without forgiveness there is no future. ~~ Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of resentment.  It can lead to having compassion and empathy for one who has hurt you.  This does not take away someone’s responsibility for their actions that have hurt you. Nor does it justify what was done to wrong you. But forgiveness allows you a sense of peace that can bring about a certain level of understanding.

Forgiveness creates opportunities to show kindness and compassion, and fosters a willingness to grow past the transgression and work on building a healthier relationship.

There are times when you must also ask FOR forgiveness.  It requires an honest look at what you have done and how it has impacted someone else.  If you are truly sorry for something you did or said, it may be that you talk to the person that you have hurt and share your sincere regret and specifically ask  for forgiveness.  No excuses. But remember that you are human, and making mistakes are part of being so.

Remember, too, that not everyone will forgive you.  You cannot force someone to forgive you. Others will have to come to terms with the situation as they feel they can and move toward forgiveness in their own time.

Whatever the outcome, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect…AND….commit to treating yourself with the same.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today, I wanted to pick up the phone to talk to my mother. I wonder if it gets easier. Today would have been her 84th birthday.

I share this piece from five years ago (2013) to honor her again on her birthday.

BEYOND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE

I woke up this morning wanting to pick up the phone to call to wish her, “Happy Birthday, Mom!

She would have been 79 years old today. 

It still is hard to believe my mother is gone from this physical world.  It’s been nearly two years. I wonder if it ever becomes believable.

Though not “close” by what others’ definitions might be, my Mom and I had a unique relationship.

In some ways, we were as different as night and day.

But in other ways…

There was a time when I would have never admitted that we shared anything in common.

Nowadays, I often tell my friends,  “You’ve just met my mother, Marian!” as I laugh (or cringe) while recognizing her voice and  words coming out of my mouth.

And there are  times I see her facial expressions in photographs of me or staring back at me…

View original post 122 more words

To see life more clearly

FOCUS…

…may be all it takes when you think you cannot handle one more minute of dealing with life’s situations, challenges, or difficult people.

FOCUS…

…can be our code word…the one that we can say aloud to ourselves or  that a friend might say to us, in order to remember to inspire a thought and a smile.

FOCUS…

…is one simple word with so many meanings.