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.

 

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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.

#metoo

metooI was reflecting last night on the #metoo movement. The number of women I know who have experienced sexual violence, unwanted advances, and nonconsensual sex outnumber the women who have not experienced it. That is NOT ok.

How is it that men feel so entitled to a woman’s body without her agreement?

How do I raise my daughter to stand in her power and my boys to never ever pressure someone for sex?

It started in Kindergarten for me I think. A little boy named Bobby flashed me his privates and tried to kiss me. I ran and told the teacher. Bobby got in trouble.

In Elementary school it was boys looking under the table at my legs, or truth or dare kisses that I didn’t want but I had no voice to say it.

I won’t go into all of the details but let’s just say that consent was not something I learned about until later in life.

Let me break it down for anyone who might not know.

No one has a right to a woman’s body. Take your advances, glares, comments, suggestions and desires and knock that shit off. No one wants to feel like an object, a piece of meat that someone else is entitled to devour. We are not your prize, a notch on your bedpost, a number in your little black book.

We are radiant women of God who will be respected, cared for, revered and IF we decide to share our bodies with you, you will treat us with respect, love, and kindness.

Oh, and we can change our mind anytime. It doesn’t matter if you bought dinner, or you are in a relationship, or it’s prom night. It is a consensual agreement. Everytime.

There is so much hurt walking around these days. So many women who have been mistreated. This stops today. It stops by speaking about it out loud, but educating our children, and just saying no to the media’s crazy portrayal of sex.

Love is supposed to be just that – loving, caring, kind, empowering, and supportive,.

I am teaching my kids this kind of love.

Because no young woman every should have to say #metoo again.

 

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.

hd-flying-birds-wallpapers

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.

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

Finding your center

Depositphotos_32107507_l-2015Sometimes, we all get a little lost.

Sometimes it’s lost in love – with a partner or a new baby.

Sometimes it’s lost in grief – from the passing of a loved one or the letting go of a big dream.

Sometimes it’s busyness that we lose ourselves in – the bills, work, volunteering, kid schedules.

Easy to do. The question is, how do you find your center?

It’s different for everyone. Some write books, others travel, some change jobs or relationships or hobbies.

For me it’s about the little things. Making small changes that add up to big results.

This morning, for example, I woke up early and cleaned my room. The floor began to take on an obstacle course vibe with shoes and clothes, everywhere. Sure, I was out of town quite a bit, then a volleyball tournament for my daughter, but regardless it was a disaster. I didn’t realize it, but subconsciously it said I had sort of given up. There was too much to do so, why even try. As it turns out, it didn’t really take that long and now, I am able to sit in a chair with my mom’s favorite pink blanket on my lap as I write. All because of a little tidying that made the whole room open up with possibility.

Yesterday, I decided to sit down and write, for the first time in a couple of years since my Mom was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in 4 months ago, and I just haven’t been able to write words about it or anything really. I decided to just sit down and see what happened. I wrote a post called what words do you say? . It wasn’t easy but after a while, it just sort of flowed. It was healing and rewarding to see that I could still do it. Tonight, I was inspired to write as well. Again, a little step, but in a lovely direction.

If you are looking to make a change in some area, what little thing can you do? It could be in the direction of a certain goal – take a walk if you are looking to get in shape, prepare a new recipe if you want to expand your cooking skills, call a loved one if you want more closeness in your life. Or maybe just do something fun or frivolous – but something that says to you, I am awesome, I matter, I am loved.

Blessings on your journey, it all starts with just one step. Happy travels. Oh and don’t forget to laugh. It’s contagious.

cupcake

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.