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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Letting Go

0ef54ba44185e87083fa870085203b27--bird-flock-bird-flyingThey say our loved ones speak to us after they are gone. Sometimes in symbols, other times through dreams.

I had a dream about my mom last night. I was in the hospital with her, I had been there for hours but for some reason had not been into her room. Perhaps I thought she was sleeping. I heard one of the nurses say to another that she was scheduled to start radiation tomorrow. I was surprised. She had been doing chemo for months and it wasn’t going well so why would they be starting her on another treatment?

I walked into her room and saw her lying there in the most uncomfortable position. Her arm was outstretched off the bed and I could see she was struggling with the strength to move it back to the bed. I rushed to her and gently scooped up her arm and enfolded her in the biggest hug. She melted like butter into my arms and said, “I want peace honey. I want peace.” I said, “I know Mom, you will. Very soon.”

She has been gone for 5 months now. I woke up this morning realizing perhaps it is time to scatter her ashes.

I don’t want to. It’s so final.

I want her with me when we move next month, I want her to be at our wedding in 3 months, and my daughter’s graduation and my son’s games. I want her to see the flowers we plant in the backyard in her honor, so many flowers. I want her to stay with me forever and ever.

Letting go is so hard. And, that doesn’t mean it is the wrong thing to do.

Part of me knows she will be with me forever. In butterflies, rainbows, memories, and songs. Her beautiful spirit will radiate forever.

There is a river her heart felt called to around here. I will plan to go visit it this week and see if it is the right place for her ashes. I will plan to let the tears flow, as I write this, and as I think about letting her go, or I guess another way of thinking about it is, setting her free.

I want that freedom for her, and I know she already has it, and it is becoming time to complete the cycle. No matter how much it aches.

I love you Mom. I want you to fly like the joyful sparrow that you are, swooping and playing in the breeze, your joy filled spirit singing as you dance.

I am learning to let go, and with that set free the most loving angel I have ever known,

I love you Mom, forever and ever and ever.

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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

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. 

Dear Universe, thanks for the reminder.

Yesterday will go down in history as one of the more eye opening days of my life. 

First, let’s recap the situation… I’m a single mom with three very active kids, my mom is dealing with cancer, I work a robust job as the Executive Director for an educational organization. 

My boss took me to lunch yesterday, which was very kind. Basically, through the course of the conversation I realized this was a “you need to slow down” intervention. First of all, how awesome is that? My boss literally said, you’re doing a great job, cut yourself some slack, it’s ok to coast for a little while when you have a lot going on in your personal life. Oh. 

Now if you are anything like me, I just go. I wake up in the morning with the prayer “please let me be a blessing today” and then my feet hit the floor. My plate is filled with passion until I crawl into bed at night, and I love it. And… as I keep learning there are more sustainable ways to exist than others. 

I left the luncheon in awe and reflection.

The theme seemed to continue throughout the day. It’s like the universe said “I’m going to help you get my point”. 

I called a dear friend and told her about this conversation, she said a lot of wise things, as usual. “Don’t let fear get in the way of your loving truth” was the one that really stuck with me. She too said, it’s ok to slow down and savor this time with my kids, and my mom. 

Next came several conversations with my team, exec committee, and board chairs. My boss suggested I started telling people what’s going on in my life, so I did. The result was so surprising. A felt a huge outpouring of support and kindness from my community. While it was scary to share, it was so worth it. 

I think I have been in on autopilot, just doing the next thing in front of me while adding more and more to my plate. I haven’t wanted to tell anyone because I was afraid of their judgement. What if they think I can’t do all this? I need to believe I can. But the truth is, none of us can do it all, we all need support and that doesn’t make us weak or less of a superstar it just makes us real. 

As Lent starts today, I could give up sugar or Facebook and while those aren’t bad ideas, I think life is calling me to look deeper. I plan to give up trying so hard. Instead, I will work on allowing and embracing life. It takes intention and more space, to allow myself to feel, vision and love more fully. It’s a more vulnerable space, and that’s ok too. Who are we not to fully embrace life? Do not let life make you hard. Let life help you grow tall with empathy, sprinkled with kindness, may you deeply know love. 

And dear universe, thank you for the reminder. 

 

Little Red Hiding Hood

I’ve been praying for answers to a few questions for sometime now. Today, I woke up with a new and helpful realization. 

We all have parts of ourselves that work well, and other patterns or habits that are more challenging. In my world, I have worked with the challenges and blessings of being a sensitive empathic human being. This means I feel things deeply, including world issues, the feelings of my children, family, coworkers, etc. It’s the reason I have dedicated my work time to nonprofit service and helping anyway I can to make sure everyone has opportunities to fulfill their potential.

As it turns out, it’s also the reason I reach for chocolate in stressful situations or hide, unintentionally behind those extra 20 pounds that never seem to come off. 

My realization this morning was, if we are here to be a blessing and shine our unique sparkle, how is hiding behind something helping fulfill my life mission. 

Did God put us on this earth to hide our sparkle? I don’t think so. 

There are lots of reasons for us all to put on our little red “hiding” hoods and run from the big bad wolf. There are a lot of big bad wolves out there these days. But running doesn’t help. It doesn’t work. Perhaps you think it’s the answer in the moment but truthfully, the only thing you are doing by hiding from your fears (through whatever your unhealthy coping mechanism is) is hurting yourself. 

I guess I have known that for awhile but the new learning for each is this: I’m all about empowerment, shining your sparkle and sharing love with the world. I do this all day, everyday. And… deep down if I have a belief that to be safe I have to hide part of myself from the big bad wolf, that doesn’t work very well. 

This feels like a big balloon filled with love that has the tiniest hole. Over time, the balloon will deflate unless the hole is patched. It’s a small hole but a really important one to deal with. 

The first part of healing any issue is becoming aware of the problem. Next, sitting with that and honoring what is. So that’s me today, honoring this unconscious part of me that wants to hide. God bless that part, I sure understand and have compassion for that feeling and yet, now I know that hiding from scary things isn’t the only option. 

The real work is in being brave and vulnerable. Of opening our hearts so we can feel the fullness of life and continue to develop the tools for when times get tough. And giving ourselves the grace to stay in bed and read a book, or say no to another fundraiser, volunteer opportunity or chocolate chip cookie. 

By being proactive and aware of our need for balance in this high paced society, we can get ahead of the desire to stress eat or hide because the world feels too much sometimes. 

Today, is a day for realization and self compassion. It’s for forgiving myself for not knowing earlier and moving forward with a peaceful and open heart, into the beauty of today. 

Go, be brave, the world needs your love. 

What if love…

 What if love was the first thought you had in the morning, and last thought at the end of the day?

What if love was an agenda item at the top of your to do list and staff meeting agenda? 

What kind of love? All kinds.

Self love, love of family, kids, partners, each other, people we don’t know, people who are different than us. 

What if love moved beyond a feeling between two people and one day a year with roses and chocolates, to a daily expression to the world around us. 

I love the postman who delivered my letter, the cashier at Trader Joe’s, the nurse how helped my mom. I love my loud kids, my partner who is miles away, and my dad who always wants to help. 

Here’s where it gets harder… I send love to those suffering in countries near and far, to those suffering and making unkind decisions in our government, to those who feel marginalized and afraid today. 

May this love begin like a raindrop and become a full storm, blanketing the world in love.

What if you and your friend, and her mom and your neighbor started this day with love? 

What if just by creating this loving intention, this tide of love starts to build and all of a sudden, someone let’s you in front of them in rush hour traffic, or someone else holds open the door, or a smile from stranger to stranger brightens someone’s day. 

What if? 

What if love… 

Where do you want to go? 

It’s a regular Tuesday morning, time to get up and bustle kids to school. 

Facebook says the United States is still in a mess of arrogant power and injustice, with a side of hope by a growing group of truth speakers. People are protesting, marching and speaking up for truth. 

All of this can be discouraging today the least.

The question in my mind today is, “where do you want to go?” In this day, in life, on a walk. 

It can be so easy to feel stuck or just stop moving forward when outside concerns feel out of our control. 

And yet, we have the power to choose our own reaction to whatever life brings us. We can put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction of our dreams.

Today, I choose to walk in the direction of love. I choose to bring peace with me into this day and pick up some joy and an extra helping of laughter along the way. 

I choose kindness and empowerment of my fellow walkers. I choose health for me, my family and the world. 

As I walk into this day, I am clear and focused on where I want to go. I will not be detoured or distracted by stress or injustice. I will stand in my power as a woman, daughter, and mother. I will walk with love. That is where I want to go today. 

Where do you want to go? 

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.