The most precious day 

Today was a day for the memory books. My sweet mom and I went to visit the church where she would like to hold her celebration of life. 

She will want a small, intimate gathering of friends and family, so we looked at the small sanctuary first. It was very functional with plenty of tables and chairs but it didn’t feel quite right, so we decided to seek out other spaces. My friend Tammy, the minister walked us to the main sanctuary. As she turned the key and opened the door, I could  feel the warmth radiate from the room. Exquisite stained glass windows lined the space as rose colored light flooded the room. We could feel the love enfold us. 

This is where my parents got married, this is where my grandfather and then my grandmother held their celebrations of life, this is where my mom’s will be held too. 

We talked through the details of linens, flowers, music and then with hugs said thank you. 

We left and decided what to do next. Ice cream? A walk? What do you do after a conversation like that? 

We decided to go for a walk, and pick up cupcakes for the birthday kids on the way. 

I took my mom to Mystical cupcakes, there were so many flavors, she looked like a kid in a candy store. We bought cupcakes for everyone and she even got two to take home! 

Next we walked through the farmers market, mother and daughter, arm and arm. We visited the lavender stand where she visited with her favorite vendor, mom has been buying gifts for her friends and family there for years. I could feel the heart connection between the two of them. She picked up some sweet items for loved ones and told her lavender friend she would be praying for her. 

We walked, hand in hand through the garden, finding a sweet bench to share. My mom is so loving. I am so honored to be her daughter. 

Next I took her to North Point. This is a place near and dear to my heart. It’s where I fell in love with my partner. He and I shared many hopes and dreams while gazing at the sound and watching the boats go by. Mom and I strolled along, finding a sweet bench to just sit. And then we did, we just sat, gazing at the water, watching sailboats, a seal bobbing its head and the sky, the big open sky. It was so precious to share this time with my mom who I love so much. Both of us deeply appreciative of this moment in time, and for the gift of loving each other. 

I will never forget this day, this most precious day. 

Advertisements

Balancing act 

I don’t seem to know how to write much these days. My mom has cancer and she is living with us now. Each day is totally different. I wake up in the morning and check on her and the day starts from there. I administer pain pills or talk finances or give hugs, then wake up the kids and take them to their various places. By the time I get to work sometimes I feel like I’ve had a full day already. 

She’s off to chemo today with a friend. She doesn’t feel well already but is determined to go. God Bless her strength and determination. 

I don’t know how to do this, I’ve never done it before. I see my self care slipping by the wayside with everyone else’s needs. I haven’t seemed to figure out how to get enough quiet, sleep, good food and exercise while managing all of these factors. Instead it’s been slow strolls, grabbing salads for lunch, coffee on the way to work, and ice cream before bed. I have goals of exercise first thing in the morning and bedtime routines that foster sleep, those goals are a work in progress these days. 

I read once that if you want to change something in your life you should live by the 5% rule. Do something 5% more or less each day. Get on the treadmill for 5 minutes if that’s what you have, do a little bit of straightening the house, have sorbet instead of ice cream. But then do that 5% consistently and add on as you can. 

So that’s my goal for today, be 5% more loving to myself, with a gentle walk, and some self compassion.

Balancing all of these factors is a challenge. Another way of saying that is… balancing all of these factors is an opportunity for growth. I choose opportunity. And I choose to be loving to my wonderful family and to myself, one moment at a time. 

The Warrior’s Walk

I’ve been reflecting on the word warrior lately. It seems I know quite a few. 

One might think that a warrior looks like a big strong man with armor and a mission to save the kingdom, and that may be true, but they also appear in different forms. 

Here are a few- 

Warrior of Light- I am honored to know a women who stands for love and light.  She stands at the alter every morning praying for her loved ones and the world. She has challenges just like the rest of us, but she slices anything not of the light with her Excalibur sword. 

Recently she has been faced with the loss of her partner and the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. She has handled both of these with more grace than I have ever imagined possible. Her motto is “love’s victory” and she marches streadfastly towards healing with the strength of a thousand angels. Darkness does not have a chance around this warrior. She is my mother. 

Warrior of Truth- Another warrior appeared in our lives this week. Her knowledge and kindness unparalleled. She is the heroine stories are written about. She road into a situation when all looked dark and brought hope. She’s traversed obstacles like medications, pallatative care, and transportation to doctors appointments swiftly and with ease. She is weaving together a comfort quilt for a loved one with so much care and honor. She is unstoppable. She is my aunt. 

Warrior of Love- I know a warrior who has been fighting against injustice for decades. When he speaks, people listen. When he writes, people buy books to hear how to be more engaged in their lives and with the youth of today. He has returned home from this travels of late and walked back into my life with determination. “Whatever you need” he keeps saying, and proves it with pizza deliveries, neck rubs, light saber battles with teenagers, listening ears and open arms. He is a man of honor and deep love. He is my hero. 

Warrior of the Earth- This friend has been committed to being the earth’s protector for many years. She has studied ecology, planted roots, taught children to care for our planet and volunteered to serve at risk youth through growing good food. Most recently she set up a meal train for a family going through a tough time. She is an inspiration to me. She is my friend.

These warriors all carry missions of hope. They are strong and look obstacles directly in the face and say “I am here to fight for what is right”. They are a constant inspiration to me and I am honored to be walking with them, onward. 

Reflection on a spring morning

This morning I sit quietly,

my cup of coffee steaming on the windowsill,

as the rain streams down outside.

It’s late spring in our region,

the sky is watering my tiny swiss chard and kale plants.

The weeks leading up to this moment of peace have been challenging.

My body told me to slow down with bronchitis and exhaustion.

My stepfather passed away of a heart attack unexpectedly.

Two of my three kids are out of school for the summer.

And my mom’s cancer treatment continues.

I sit quietly this morning and reflect on all of this,

and all of the blessings that have come into my life.

As I write, I am enfolded by a comfort quilt gifted by a friend.

It was made by members of a local church and I can feel the love that went into making it.

My colleagues have set up a meal plan for my family.

I have been surrounded by comforting arms and cried with many loved ones.

I have received cards and love from far and wide.

In all of this, every aspect of life,

from the happy to the sad,

I know that I am surrounded by love,

and with love anything is possible.

 

 

 

I am a different person

oak-trees-18Sometimes we have to crash face first over the bicycle rails to see things clearly. Metaphorically, I did that recently. It wasn’t fun. But then, I picked myself up and said to myself, I am starting a new life. I life lived in balance and in love.

I am brave.

I am in charge of my life. The schedule or the kids needs do not control me.

I am raising three kids by myself. And that hurts and it’s hard. But I am not going to run myself into the ground any more to avoid the pain. I am going to sit with it and let it move through me, like waves on the beach. And I will rise, perhaps a little drenched but free.

I am doing my best. I have recently learned that I was going way too fast (hence the crash). Now that I know better, I can do different.

It won’t be easy, this new habit and lifestyle of slowing down enough to feel. And yet, I am ok with that. Because, this, right here, is the messy, beauty of life.

I will not hide from the wind as it rushes, past bringing stories of old and fears on its tails. I will stand, like the mighty oak tree and let it blow through my branches. Yes, the leaves with rustle, yes the rain will wash down my smooth bark and still, I will stand.

I will stand, rooted in life, love, God and the knowing that I am a different person than I was before.

 

reboot

You know how those wise computer people say to turn off your computer on the weekends so it can reboot and install updates? Well, I kinda learned that this week.

While I’ve started this post with computer references, let me just go on record and say I know nothing about computers and this, as with all of my posts, is about life, and figuring it out (or at least attempting too).

I have had a lot going on for awhile. Let me illustrate:

I’ve been a single mama of three hella bright precocious children for 10 years.

My beautiful, inspiring mom was diagnosed with cancer last year and is fighting with the strength of 1000 warriors.

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit Educational Organization. I raised $400,000 in 4 meetings last week (woot!).

My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and plays club volleyball which has us all over the region every weekend.

All of my kids are musical, they take piano lessons, play guitar, sing in choirs, etc.

My two boys…one is building a rocket on the dining room table as I write, the other one is at grampa’s house, helping him make gluten free bread.

(When I write all of this, it looks ridiculous. Like hello, one person is not capable of doing all of this!)

So anyways, I started not feeling well a few days ago. I’m anemic and I thought it was that. Turns out after a long day in ER that my stress was so high, my heart created an irregular rhythm to try to deal with it. Oh.

The ER doctor gave me a letter that said, no work until next Tuesday. Huh.

So, I came home (by that I mean my dad drove me home) and sat on the couch, for a long time. My dad made dinner, and I worked on chilling the heck out.

I started with working on my belly breathing (thanks yoga) and figuring out what I can take off my list. I decided to send my daughter to the volleyball tournament this weekend with another family. I asked my dad to take the boys for the weekend. I wrote and I wrote and I cried and I breathed. I started to feel much better. Today, I feel pretty much back to normal.

This was a wake up call. I have been running for so long without stopping that my operating system was thinking about getting out of whack. Hence, the reboot.

Today, after I said goodbye to my daughter, I had a huge meltdown. She is getting older and I have 4 years with her before she graduates and takes on the world herself. Time is so precious. As I sat there with the tears pouring onto my hoodie, I felt like such a failure. Failing at doing all of the things I want to do. Failing at self care and being a good mom and spending enough time with my kids, my mom, my dad, my friends. Failing at holding it all together.

And then I remembered something a dear friend said to me once, she said, “Tanya, why are you being so hard on yourself? If this was happening to a friend of yours or one of your kids, you would wrap them up in your arms, tell them how much you love them and how capable they are. Do that for yourself.” Oh.

Another friend said, “it’s not you that is broken, it’s the system. The go all the time, crazy rush of American life.” Oh. 

So, it is with self compassion I say to myself, “you’ve come a long way baby. You deserve a break to slow down and reboot. Welcome it with open arms, it’s a message and you need to hear it.”

So, the rebooting starts. I will be offline, in nature, with loved ones and learning how to sustain and balance this precious life. 

Take care of yourself. Reboot if needed. Breathe and repeat. You’ve got this. And do do I. 

Too much

Too much. There is too much on my plate.

I don’t even know where to start. Work is a full-time plus job. Three kids by myself with activities galore, sure that’s a lot. It’s my youngest son’s birthday this week so I will be belaying 8 boys at the rock climbing gym and then they will be all sleeping over. There is no time to get the food or clean the house because I am going to work and to hear the results of my mom’s cancer tests in Seattle tomorrow. But don’t worry, i’ve got it all, just like I always do.

But you know what I have to say to that? Not cool. Not cool that I am doing this all. In fact, it’s a miracle that I am holding all of this together. Tonight, I just lost all energy. I picked up kids from piano $80, after picking up my car from the shop $1569, ordered pizza $45, sat on the couch and ate 4 pieces, washing it down with a glass of wine and cup of chocolate chips while ordering tickets to my son’s concert on Saturday $66. Too much. Too much money, crappy food, work, stress, and lack of down time. Too much raising kids in isolation instead of a community. Too much sadness in my heart that doesn’t have time or room to release. Too many dishes, granola bar wrappers and dirty socks.

Too much.

So, you might be thinking, what is she going to do about it? Right?! Great question.

Well…

  1. take a bath with candles
  2. drink water (instead of the coffee I have been drinking all day)
  3. write it out
  4. make a plan
  5. go to bed on time
  6. show myself some compassion
  7. listen and express my feelings 
  8. Trust God 

I am so angry. Angry that I am in this situation. Angry that my mom has cancer. Angry that my house is a mess and I don’t have anyone to back me up. Angry that I keep up appearances, so that everything will look pretty and no one will worry. When in fact, i’m pissed. My room is a mess, no amount of buying clothes or watching TV is fixing the fact that my mom has cancer and I’m scared. I’m scared of losing her. I want time to stop and time for me to catch my breath and just sit and hold her hand.

Logically I know that pizza, tv or dessert will not numb the sad and scared feelings. But some part of me just wants some kind of comfort and respite from these feelings.

I should go for a walk, or pick the clothes off my floor but just have no motivation to do that. Because, why should I things be better for me when she has cancer. Why do I deserve more than she is having right now. I can’t take the cancer away, but at least I can be miserable too. (that is some crazy logic now that I write it down). Who am I to be powerful, strong and bold when she is uncomfortable.

Would I want my daughter to stop taking care of herself because I wasn’t well? Heck no. That is not a sign of solidarity, that is a sign of depression and self sabatoge.

Dear me, this moment is hard. It totally sucks. And, you are stronger than you know. Be strong for your mom and yourself.

So, as this moment comes to a close, I take a deep breath, feel the feelings and thank God for the beauty that is my life. In any situation, ALWAYS, there is room for gratitude. And #trustgod