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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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

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.

Who are you?

Who are you?

Are you a Lion raging at life,

or a Mouse hiding from it?

Do you run like a Cheetah,

slide like a Snail,

or glide like a Manta ray?

Do you sing like songbird,

cuddle like a Koala,

or play like a baby Panda?

Do you think you are in charge of everything?

Or do you flow with what life brings you?

Life has a way of lifting us to great heights and bringing us to our knees.

The question in all of this is, who are you?

Do you ride these ups and downs with grace or struggle.

Today I choose the songbird, river otter and eagle to guide my way, with song, playfulness and ease.

Today, who are you?

 

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. 

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. 

Movin on up 

You know as adults there are a lot of things we deal with. We have bills to pay, kids to raise, jobs to work and partners to communicate with. 

I deal with these things everyday just like you all. And it’s not always easy, but still I deal.

Here’s what I don’t deal with very well, sticking your head in the sand and hoping it all gets better. I’m a doer, a passionate lover of life and anything else is frankly lame. Let’s say you work somewhere and you hate it, you talk about it with everyone and complain but you don’t every do anything about it. Then the problem is not the job, it is your inaction about your unhappiness. 

Or let’s say you are a pot smoker. On Saturday you have nothing to do so you just smoke and watch TV all day long. You have a list of projects before you host that house warming party but you never quite get them done. The problem is not that there are so many projects, it’s that you are wasting your life energy by literally smoking it away.  And by doing so you are saying smoking is my priority, not completing projects and gathering with good friends. 

I don’t get it. I understand that people choose to live life that way, but I never will. 

I want to live a full, rich, messy, life. I want deep laugh lines when I’m 80, good girlfriends who have shared fun adventures with me, and kids who have watched me live and love with an open heart. 

Yesterday was tough. I was tired and yet, the day was not without its glories. I walked out of my office to see this…   

Around every corner there is the possibility of blessing, we just have to remember to look up.

As I awoke today, I was grateful for the reminder that each day is a new day, a new opportunity to pour love into the world. Today I will continue to get movin’, radiate love, and keep movin’ on up. 

Have a beautiful day!