You are…

You are a radiant. Glowing.

You are a glorious flower in God’s garden.

You have a clear vision for your life and you are manifesting it.

You are insightful.

You are brave and fight with honor and strength of your ancestors.

You are paving the way for the next generation.

You are worthy of your own focus and love.

Your laugh tickles the insides of those around you.

Your smile is like sunshine.

You are blooming where you were planted.

You believe and others do too.

You adventure to wild lands, majestic peaks and golden beaches.

You are a blessing.

You are grounded in faith and love.

You bring hope to those who have lost it.

You are truth in action.

You are… loved.

 

 

 

 

 

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Contemplation in the morning

downloadIt’s a gray morning, after many blazing summer days. My partner listens to Frank Sinatra and writes in the other room. My coffee steams in the cup.

I love the mornings, the house is quiet, with just time to be. Three little kids sleep soundly, the fourth is rowing on the sound this early morning.

There is a contentment to this life that is new to me.

We recently moved into our new home. After an extensive remodel, we are slowly moving in. There are boxes at my feet brimming with books to be but away, I can’t find a bill I need to pay, and this is our home. We own it. The kids play music and chase each other around here. Our tuxedo cat, Colette naps in the morning sun.

This place is new to me. As a young person, I moved a lot – 18 times before I was 18 to be exact. The reasons were many, which I won’t get into here, but the point is being in a home that is ours, that stability, is new. I imagine others have experienced this for years, to me it is a precious gift.

My gratitude cup is full, may I remember to refill it often.

 

Just let it go… inch by inch…

mother-daughter-quote-6-picture-quote-1I sit here wrapped in a blanket gazing out the window. I’m overwhelmed, by my responsibilities, grief from losing my mom, all of the shoulds that are knocking down the door.

This is the first week I have taken off to regroup in years. I have taken vacations with the kids, flown to places like Reno for my daughter’s volleyball tournament but the last time I just sat? I couldn’t tell you.

Let’s recap, my mom was diagnosed with cancer this time 3 years ago, she passed away last December, we scattered her ashes this Sunday, what would have been her 73rd birthday was Tuesday.

It’s Thursday. Somehow I had myself convinced that I was over grieving now. That now I should apply for grad school (while I work full-time and manage the lives of four teenager and a partner who is building a business).

Um hello girl, give yourself a break.

Does anyone else have this life force, this vision for positive, social change and hope that is so big and powerful? Most days it’s awesome, I’m raising funds to support access to education, empowering staff, advancing equity and just rocking it by being the best version of love I know how to be. And… sometimes I just have to hold tight to the reigns and say woa…. slow down sister and catch your breath.

I run a nonprofit, have 4 active kids, I’m on 3 nonprofit boards, I volunteer for my kids school, we just bought a house and renovated it. Last week we hosted Thanksgiving for 13 and another dinner party for 12. I love it, I love ALL of it. But at this moment, I’m fried. I’m not sure if i’m french fries, chicken strips,  or jalapeno poppers, but definitely something fried. Oh, I’m tater tots, because who doesn’t love some tots??

So…. what now? Cry, miss my mom, eat an “encouragemint” a friend brought over, write, listen to India Arie, pray for guidance on the next steps and exhale.

And just like that…India Arie is singing “Let it go, inch by inch, and do it again, one day you will see..” India Arie – Just let it go 

It’s hard to let go. Of my mom, of doing things perfectly, of not being able to do it all. So, I listen, I grieve, do the next thing in front of me.

The thing is… I’m awesome. When I stop shoulding on myself I remember that I am powerful, capable and born to carry on the legacy of strong women. Women who raised kids during wartimes, poverty, divorce, and they thrived. I have been through my share of challenges and you know what? I thrive too. It’s not always easy and sure the roller coaster of life makes me queasy sometimes but straight up – I’ve got this… inch by inch,,, I just let go…

May you be gentle with yourself, whatever you are going through. You are awesome. Remember that and remember to just let go and let life be the magic it is meant to be.

Blessings.

 

My Mother’s Ashes

32440475_10216213823921783_7458237836517441536_nToday was the day I have dreaded. My Mom passed away last December. We held her Celebration of Life in February. I have held onto her ashes while we moved, renovated the house, my youngest son started middle school, I have held onto them for almost a year.

Today, my family flew in from Alaska, Spokane and Seattle to lay this final piece to rest. We met at her favorite park, with multiple waterfalls and lovely paths. She walked it regularly for meditation and with loved ones. Sword Ferns, Japanese Maples, and Salmon are a few of the native species that inhabit this magical place.

When she entered Hospice, she knew she was going to die from cancer. So she had time to plan out how she wanted to be remembered. Her Celebration of Life was regal, in a beautiful cathedral befitting of the spiritual goddess she had become. She knew just where she wanted her ashes to be spread as well.

Today we bundled up, in scarves and hats – it is November after all. Aunts, uncles, grandkids all joined together to honor this beloved soul. We gathered at a bridge and my sweetheart said an opening prayer. He has a way with words as an author and speaker, I think this was one of his finer moments. We handed out a pink rose (mom’s favorite) to each person to hold along the walk. We strolled along the pathway rotating people to hug until we reached the lower falls. The water was booming down the rocks and the spray made my face sparkle. How she loved the falls. So powerful and strong, just like God she would say, and I would say, just like her.

There is a special spot the kids discovered with their Grandma years ago, they called it “slippery rock” and they would climb to the top and feel like the kings and queens of the world. Next to slippery rock. there was a quiet pool, like something out of a painting, so still, only when an autumn leaf fell would you see a ripple in the pond. Around the corner from the lower falls and the slippery rock was a small beach where you could walk to the water. In the fall, the salmon run so close you could touch them and Merganser Ducks splash playfully in the water.

On this special day, we said a prayer, cried a river (and then some), tossed ashes into the water, followed by a pink rose each. We sang a few of her favorite songs and hugged a lot. I know she was there watching us and I know she loved it. We closed with a prayer and walked back up the trail. As I hugged my Dad walking up the hill, I thought, “She is free, totally completely free and soaring I know”.

At the top of the hill there just happened to be a restaurant with lunch space for 13 people overlooking the falls. We drank tea to warm up and visited with family, just enjoying each other’s company.

It was perfect. The whole afternoon.

We came home and fell asleep. When we woke up, I felt a new energy, to write, to clean my altar and bedroom. I think I have been holding on and dreading this final moment for so long, I forgot that there are other things in life to build, grow and enjoy. I have been mourning for a year. And I know the grief will continue in waves but at this moment, I feel a lightness and happiness for my Mom, and for all of us. She is free!

Victory and loving kindness were always her mottos. Congratulations on your Victory Mom, I know you are being welcomed with open arms to your God Star Home. I love you forever and ever and ever.

Falling in love with life

Tonight as I tucked the kids in, I fell in love all over again.

It was a long day, full of too much. I came home to a beautiful dinner, sweet kids playing various things, doing homework, being at activities.

My partner and I split the day with a sick kid. He fell asleep in the chair, head tilted to one side, with his computer on his knees. Such a hard working, loving man. My heart swelled with love and gratitude.

As I tucked each of the four kids in, we talked about our gratitudes for the day. One said friends, another said family, one said the rain, and the other said our cat. I love hearing their joys and sorrows of the day. It makes me feel like I am the luckiest person in the world. It witness these moments is pure magic.

As I say my gratitudes tonight, there are too many to list but for starters it’s our little family, my loving mom, working with people who advocate for equity and education, the rain and my partner who lights my days with laughter.

Tonight, I fell in love with my life, all over again.

May love and gratitude fill your days .

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

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.

Ocean blessing 

The sun radiates light, making jewels on the ocean.

I taste saltwater on my lips from the waves crashing on the jetty.

A seal surfs in the water, murky from the storm yesterday.

I sit. Rest. Breathe. Pray.

The ebb and flow of the ocean is the music I hear.

My family plays around the corner.

My partner the pirate, chasing wayward soldiers and kite flyers.

These are the moments that fill the soul, warm the heart and make memories for years to come.

How grateful I am.

I see a whale surface on the horizon, a happy birthday to my love.

A seagull flys towards me again, playing in the breeze.

I feel the spirit of my mother here. She waves a wing to me as if to say “I love you forever”.

I know she sees me. I feel her giving me strength and patience, grace and kindness.

I see her spirit soaring too.

She shares this day, this ocean blessing with me.