Love letter to my Mom

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Dear Mom,

We are moving Mom. Into our first sweet house that we actually own. You would be so proud.

We bought 95 boxes of floors today, 3,300 pounds. We rented a truck and the boys moved all of them.  They are so big and strong now.

You would love the house. There is a beautiful dogwood tree in the front yard. The backyard has a place for the tree I told you about, the one I have been wanting to plant since the kids were born.

We are picking just the right hues of blues, greens and yellows for bedrooms and the kitchen. It will be so cheerful and filled with light. One of the rooms will be a study with books lined up to the ceiling, cozy reading chairs, the piano and all of our guitars (I think we are up to 8 now). We will sing songs that you love in this room Mom.

I miss you so much. Everyday, I want to call you and hug you and ask your opinion on something.

Everyday I feel your presence, your joyful laugh, and your warmth when I think of you. And… I want to touch your hand again. I want you to wrap your arms around me when I feel overwhelmed and tell me everything is going to be alright.

It’s been six months now since you passed away. I am ready for you to come back now. It feels like you have been on a long vacation and it’s time to come home. And… I know that’s not going to happen. I watched you fight, for so long, against cancer. I hate cancer sometimes. I blame it for taking you away from us too soon. Other times I remember what you told me, that this was just your time to fly home.

I’m glad you are pain free now, and I know you are watching out for us. I see you in clouds and seagulls and trees. I am working through the pain of you not being here. Somedays are better than others.

As we prepare to move into our new home, I am really missing you. You have helped me move into every home I have ever rented and now we are buying a home and you won’t be there. You always washed down the counters and brought sparkling water for the movers.  You watered the plants and made sure there was a bowl of sliced apples and grapes for everyone. You plugged in lamps and set out towels so we would be comfy after a long day of moving. What a blessing you have always been in our lives.

Mom, we will continue to honor your memory in many ways. We will plant flowers in our backyard in your name. We will sage our new home to bring in all of the good energy. Your plants will move into the house with us where they will have good light and flourish.

We will flourish too Mom. Just like you would want. There will be laughter, music, colorful food, beauty and love. Thank you for showing us how to live a life filled with love and grace.

Loving you always,
T

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I have so much more in me than I know

16161677 - american bald eagle circling in the airI’ve always known it. That I am radiant child of the universe. We all are. From the time I was a little girl, I have known I had a purpose that was much larger than me. I have had a strong connection to the earth, sky, and the universe around me.

I have seen things that fill my insides with light, that I don’t have words to explain. I just know, with my whole being that we are surrounded and loved by a spirit much grander than we can see.

There is a lot in our daily lives these days. Kid activities, work, volunteering, the house, the garden, keeping our bodies healthy.

Tonight I was telling a friend how I watched an eagle soar recently. It was so high in the sky, dark against the clouds, such a strong presence, gliding with grace of a thousand feathers. Next to it flew a sparrow, flapping its wings trying to catch up. I felt such a calling to glide like my friend the eagle. Yet, I realized that I have been flapping my wings like the sparrow. When I look up the meaning of the sparrow, it says “Although it is small, the sparrow animal totem is both powerful and productive. It’s persistence and integrity shows us that we do not have to be big to make a difference.” Yes! I have felt like that for years, persistence and determined to make a difference in the world.

As I sat there, for what seemed like eons, I fell in love with the rhythm of the eagle.

“Eagle symbol comes into our lives, it does so bringing a powerful message with it. We can achieve more than we are, and we can rise above our current struggles on the wings of our Eagle guide. Eagle is a powerful spiritual totem, bringing clear vision to show us the hidden patterns in the world around us. They are right there for us to see, it tells us that we shall achieve the goals we are hunting through hard work and perseverance, and that our intuition should be trusted at this time.”

As I chatted with a friend tonight about my experience with the eagle, I realized that I have been so focused on the “how” of getting things done that I have been forgetting to just let it be and watch it unfold how it is supposed too.

Bless the graceful eagle and the sparrow as they each have parts to play.

As I move into these next days with plenty to do, I embrace the eagle wings and the spirit that is in me from generations of grandmothers and mothers who have come before me. I will honor their legacy with my walk or rather my wings – open, broad, and embracing of life, and with beautiful views as well.

Here’s to soaring…

 

In Search of Comfort

alice-tea-cup-9aA Mother’s comfort is the warmest, most welcoming, loving and whole experience there is, at least in my experience.

If my Mom was an inventor, she would have invented soup – like the entire concept of it – and every amazing recipe you would have ever tried – both tomato basil AND chicken noodle. My Mom must have invented sunlight. It sparkles just like her, it radiates warmth, sunlight makes rainbows, it nourishes the earth, and creates freckles – which she always called – sun kisses.  Fresh berries warmed by the sun must have been one of her creations too. You know the kind you just pick off the vine and they burst with flavor in your mouth, like your own personal berry firework.

My Mom passed away a few months ago, after a two year battle with cancer. I still can’t believe it some moments.

As I was thinking about her the other day, and all of the gifts she brought into my life, I realized one of them was wisdom, another love, and yet another comfort. She was my shoulder to cry on, my sounding board, and someone who loved me without reservation, no matter what. What a magical woman. I feel blessed beyond words to be her daughter.

The first Mother’s Day since her passing was last weekend. We went to the ocean. Someone told me, “the ocean is big enough for your grief, it can handle it. Make an offering to the ocean and she will hear your call”. I took a long walk and offered my grief to the ocean. The ocean was very gracious.

How do you comfort yourself when your Mother is gone from your sight? What does that even mean? Who holds your hand, strokes your hair, and tells you everything is going to be ok? My partner is wonderful, my kids are too, as well as my friends and, they are not her. I want her.

I keep trying to find her. In voice messages and photos, ice cream and chocolate, in TV and staying up too late. God I miss her. She would know the answer.

I have gained 15 pounds in the last six months, I’m exhausted and I still can’t find her.

“Grief is just love that has nowhere to go anymore”.

She would say, “Honey, be gentle with yourself. Get some rest. Ask the kids to help around the house more. Buy yourself some flowers from me”. And I love all of those ideas AND no offense Mom, but they just don’t hold a candle to you. Nothing does.

So, I keep searching for comfort. She would also say, “Comfort does not come from outside sweetheart, it comes from compassion towards yourself. It’s noticing the tea bag steeping in the green mug, it’s the fuzzy slippers I bought for you, it’s the love blanket with all of my prayers I left for you, it’s your memories of loving times together, it’s hugs and candlelight. It’s the intention you have to care for yourself, and then the act of doing that. Take heart dear one, you know how to do this.”

So tonight, I soaked in the bath as the candles flickered, I put on my coziest pajamas, and I am going to bed early because I am slowing learning how to create comfort for myself, one act at a time.

Thank you Mom.

me and mom

Get it together, or at least a few steps in that direction

I totally thought my parents had it together when I was a kid. I ate food everyday, I slept a reasonable amount and had clothing to wear. We weren’t rich but we had enough.

These days, I look around at my friends and it seems like we are all overworked and overtired. We drive 5 hours so our kid can play in a volleyball tournament, cheer loudly, fill up water bottles, come home and start work the next day.

We budget and worry and calculate and measure to make sure there is enough for everyone.

We are getting more gray hair, texting at stoplights, and can’t find any clean socks.

I imagine there are different, better ways to do this. And I’m setting out on an adventure to figure out how. How to fall in love with your life, kids, partner, health, work and friends. How to travel, like actually save up and do it, not just set aside $25 a month and then in a pinch transfer those funds to cover groceries. How to live within our means, use what we have and slow it down enough that we don’t spend money on just being busy.

Step 1 go to sleep. Early. There is no magic show or Facebook post that is going to change your life. You are the only one who can do that. So get some flipping sleep.

Step 2 laugh, like for real. Tell your kids to tell you one of their ridiculous jokes, watch anything with Melissa McCarthy or Ellen. Just let loose for a minute. The laundry-dishes-bills-homework-dinner can wait until you have a good belly chuckle.

Step 3 acquire beauty. Pick a flower, buy yourself some new flowers, a dress, a kitchen towel, a new pair of earrings. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it is beautiful to you, go for it.

Step 4 get yourself a date. With your partner, friend, kid, yourself. The point is to set aside some time for you to be with someone special.

Step 5 repeat. Repeat, and add new steps to this recipe. It doesn’t matter which order, just go for it and repeat. And for the love, add some flare to it. Get your groove going, whatever that is for you.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to put on my India Aire Album, eat all of the orange M-n-Ms, and paint my toes.

Enjoy doing whatever it is that reminds you that you are a beautiful, radiant, imperfect but perfect in your own way, work of art. And your painting starts right here.

Mama love,
T

What words do you say?

It’s been awhile since I have written. For several reasons.

I open up my computer to write and it feels like an arid desert, where their used to be a raging river.

I know a lot of it is because of her. Some call her a guide, or friend, or radiating sunshine on a cloudy day, I call her Mom.

I think it’s been about two years since I have really been able to write.

It’s like the well went dry at the same time she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was 70 years old, ate kale and salmon for most of her life. She didn’t smoke, or drink, or eat sugar, she hosted a prayer ministry for those in need,and was the most loving Grandmother you could ever imagine.

I spent a long time asking why. Why her? Why now? Why not someone else, someone mean-spirited or unkind? Why my Mom, who I have a loving relationship with and not a Mom who wasn’t that great?

I still wonder why. But not as much. She told me once that in her belief system, God was calling her home and had a new special assignment for her. She felt comfort in that, and I guess it helped me too.

I think I stopped writing when she got cancer because she would read my posts and I didn’t want her to have to deal with chemo, pain meds, AND hear about my struggle. She had enough on her plate.

She passed away December 29, 2017, after a two year battle with cancer. I have never seen strength like I experienced in my Mother. A week before she passed away, she was unable to eat anything, she was on morphine every hour, she still managed to sing Christmas carols, and tell me she loved me “forever and ever”.

I took two months off of work to care for her before she passed, I am beyond grateful for that time together. I was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, if given the chance.

She is gone now. Gone from my sight. I have pictures, memories, a special blanket she gave me, and I know that she is not gone, just gone from my sight. I feel her sometimes, in the wind, the butterflies, the flowers and the trees. I know she is loving us from the great universe. I miss her gentle hugs, her lavender smelling hair, and the twinkle in her eye that you think she was part elf or fairy.

What do I do with this ocean of grief? Sometimes I eat too much chocolate, or let my body rest when it is tired, or take a long walk, or cry and offer my grief to the ocean- it seems big enough to hold it.

I certainly don’t have the answers. But I do know I have been blessed to have a Mom like mine. Loving to her very core, fierce in the face of injustice, and radiant, like the sun shining on thousand pink cherry blossoms.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you, forever and ever.

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. 

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.