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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Celebrating the little things

Today started with a radio interview downtown about the importance of funding education. I walked past beautiful murals in the alleyway, my coffee steaming as I strolled past the European shoe store and the local bakery. The homeless women they call blonde was having a vibrant conversation with the universe, the glass door on the station was smashed and covered with duct tape, “someone got frustrated after leaving the bar Thursday night”, the station manager said.

The interview went well (I think).

Next I headed to the grocery store where I took a little extra time for shopping. A small gift to myself. I treated myself to fresh flowers, a grapefruit, and cilantro. Then picked up an extra bouquet for the family who had my son over for a sleepover last night. It was such a nice experience, like looking through a magazine, it seems luxurious.

I picked up the sweet boy, delivered flowers to a happy friend, visited a delightful cat we are caring for this weekend, and came home with bunches of groceries.

The tall girl roasted chick peas, the little one and I made a basil, tomato, cucumber and the middle one cleaned out the fridge and did the dishes while singing the favorite song of the moment.

Next we went to a birthday party for a 10 year old child. Balloons, piñata, and my new favorite game bananagrams. We immediately went to Target and bought it.

Then off to the last elementary school carnival. With three kids in school, I have been volunteering and driving across town for about 10 years. Cheers to being almost done with that!

A ton of fun was had by all.

On our drive home I asked for a volunteer to help me make dinner. Not surprisingly, no one did, it was like crickets. Post lecture about helping when asked as a sign you love the person, I had a volunteer.

We worked together to make barbecue chicken, salad, and mango sorbet. Light, fresh and colorful, just like summer that is slowly arriving.

It’s moments like this that add up to a beautiful day. Yesterday, I wrote about creating comfort for oneself. Today, was a very good step in the right direction.

Remember to celebrate the little things, it creates joy in the moment and adds up over time to create happiness, we just have to pay attention.

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

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. 

Thank you for letting me love you… 

  I always knew I had a lot of love to give, 

but until you, 

I didn’t know how much.

My daughter, your tiny toes, auburn ringlets, and natural curiousity melted my heart from the start. 

Thank you for letting me love you, my heart has grown bigger because of you. 

Then along came a little brother, plump like a berry. You came out snugly, with strong sense of justice, and a laugh that lights up the world.

Thank you for letting me love you, I have grown as a Mother because of you.

And then you came baby boy, my angel. Such a gentle spirit, community surrounds you because of your kindness. 

Thank you for letting me love you, you have shown me peace and helped me build resilience I did not know I had.

They say the heart expands because there is always enough love to share. 

My family, my heart. 

There are not enough words to say how much I love you all. 

But I promise I will keep trying to show you, 

Everyday. 

So much to be grateful for…

The twinkle in my son’s eye, 

the “good morning, I love you” text,

the perfect shade of purple for my finger nails, 

the granola and blueberries in my mason jar, 

as I sit by the water’s edge. 

The unexpected 2 mile walk with no rain. 

The work day with on time and productive meetings.

The sweet visit with my mama, and the warmth of her hand holding mine. 

The flower and card on the table from a friend. 

The hard working small engineers who folded AND put away their laundry.

The bedtime kisses and tuck in snuggles. 

The honest and loving late night call from my love. 

In this day… 

there is so much to be grateful for…

My name is Love

downloadIt’s interesting all of the labels we give ourselves sometimes, and how they effect us without us even being aware. Today’s labels include: Single Mom, Executive Director, Daughter of a Cancer Patient.

I go back and forth, to and from these labels throughout the day. Bustle kids to school hoping I am doing a good job, call my mom to share how much I love her and she how the day is in her world, walk into work like I know the answers to the questions I will be peppered with. It’s kind of an autopilot experience with the underlining of self-labeling.

In a conversation yesterday with someone who loves me, I realized that I was doing this self-labeling. I thought I was doing at least some of this from a place of owning the label but in retrospect, I think not. How does labeling myself help? I tell the kids not to label other people all the time. And yet, here I am doing the same thing to myself.

Well, that’s interesting.

Upon reflection, it turns out we all have parts of who we are that are special gifts. Mother, daughter, friend, worker, etc. and that is part of what makes us special.

My daughter for example is an actor, horse enthusiast, guitar player, volleyball player, and friend. My mom is a beautiful singer, spiritual counselor, teacher, friend, and absolute warrior.

So if these beautiful women in my life shine these special gifts, who am I? Hmm…

 

In this holiday season, it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of materialism, schedules, and to do lists. We can go on autopilot – just like our cars automatically heading towards the mall at Christmas time to buy things to show we love each other.

This year, I have winter break off with my kids. So far, it has been the usual business of volleyball and shopping with some Christmas movies sprinkled in. The kids are arguing this morning as it rains outside and I try in vain to write and have some quiet.

So my options are… grouch at them. Check. Or…remember who I am, pause the writing, bring them together, have a conversation and tell them how much I love them…. and I need quiet sometimes too. Check.

Note to self: It always feels better when you lead from love.

My kids are now playing Christmas songs together on the piano and guitar as I borrow my son’s headphones and write. A total win-win, and all of us are happier.

To sum this up, we all have parts that make up who we are. And.. we can all choose what we want to focus on. What brings you peace? Focus on that and name that for yourself.

15672630_10211495681851180_8882280913203950574_nMy name is LOVE.

I am a Mother, Daughter, Friend, Writer, Chef, Giver, and Compassionate Human Being.

Ultimately what I am is LOVE. We ALL are.

As the rain turns to snow outside my window, I wish you a very happy holiday season with much peace, love and happiness.

With Love,
Tanya

 

 

 

 

 

 

This moment 

This, 

right here, 

is one of my favorite moments of the day. 

The dishes are washed. 

The kids all tucked in, 

secret handshakes and all. 

I pull out the fuzziest socks and hoodie I can find, 

and finally… 

Sit down. 

Today was full of operational goals, retreat agendas, capital campsigns and scholarships.

Of conference calls and midday dentist appointments for three kids. 

Of crockpot meals, mini tuxedos and holiday concerts. 

It was abundant. 

Reflecting on this day, 

I notice many moments of joy, courage and love. 

As I put on my fuzzy socks, 

I breathe deeply in gratitude, 

for this day, 

for the love I felt sprinkled throughout it,

and this, 

this moment. 

Flying solo 

It’s funny really, I’ve been doing this parenting thing so long by myself that I really don’t realize that I’m flying solo. 10 years, 3 kids, and 1 mama. 

It’s the birthdays and holidays when I remember there was another parent that started this whole journey with me. This weekend was my daughter’s 14th birthday. 7 kids going on a scavenger hunt downtown.  I don’t know where my ex is and I’ve come to terms with that but sure it would be helpful to have a hand sometimes.

Like today for example, it’s a Monday. I woke up tired from an event Thursday and Friday nights, a sleepover, and running the kids around to choir retreats and football games. I decided to wear a power color and picked red. In my cute red dress I made my green smoothie because I care about me, in goes the spinach, apple, cucumber, celery and then… out goes the smoothie, all over my dress.

I ate fried eggs, with my hands, while driving because my fork fell on the floor. The house was a disaster when I left, but hey, at least I remembered to lock the door!

I went to work for 8 hours and left with a bad attitude, which is pretty unusual for me. Then  I went to happy hour with some women leaders and blew off some steam. I came home and the babysitter had cleaned the house. Hallelujah! I sat under my kid’s long legs while we watched a show. Another kid flushed the toilet and water poured out, all over the floor. 10 towels and 1/4 a bottle of cleaning solution later and we were good. 

I put the kids to bed, 1 kid slept in his day clothes, the other had no blanket so we fixed that and the third gave me an extra hug because I “looked sad”. “I’m alright I said, tougher things have happened and tomorrow’s a new day”.

And that’s just it, tomorrow’s a new day. Tonight I’m observing this moment and saying out loud to myself, you’re doing a great job mama!! 

And now this supermama is off for a goodnight’s sleep. Thanks for listening and sweet dreams!

Adventurers in the Sun

It’s been a long time since I have written! I took the summer off to play.

IMG_2562So, let’s bring you up to speed.

The kids and I had a great summer. My daughter was a camp counselor at a farm all summer and the boys did kayak camp, were involved in shenanigans of varying sorts.

As the summer came to a close, we realized although we had been having a ton of fun, we hadn’t been on a camping trip yet. So I popped them in the and we headed to the ocean.

We have done quite a bit of camping with friends but last year was our first mama plus three kids solo trip. After I got over my original anxiety of “what if we get eaten by bears”, we had a blast. So,this summer we went to visit our friend who is a Park Ranger on the Olympic Peninsula.

We packed snacks, sleeping bags and drove a couple of hours to the Lake Quinault. Stopping of course and the largest Spruce tree in the United States.

When we reached the beach, I feel in love with Kalaloch Beach. We walked for miles. We collected shells and wrote messages in the sand. 9E37A231-1ECC-4210-B3FB-61D732D84BB3

We roasted marshmallows in multiple hues from light brown to black. We took turns swinging in the hammock, we sang so many songs and laughed until we eventually fell asleep to the sound of the ocean waves.

I say this often but I really mean it, I love these kids so much. Not only that, I actually like them. They are so much fun. While our life isn’t perfect or even easy some days, I am grateful every day to be the mama to three of the coolest humans I know.

As summer comes to a close and we get out the soup pots and wool socks, I find myself humming gently and remembering these adventures in the sun.