Who Am I? Why Do You Care?

I am a woman on a journey. Where I'll end up is yet to be discovered.


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Embrace Kindness

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What are your hopes and dreams for 2017? What do you want to accomplish this year? Are you prepared for what needs to be done in order to see those goals realized?

On New Year’s Eve my daughter and I set fire to the things we didn’t want to carry into the coming year. Emotional burdens and hurdles like anger, negativity and past hurts. Some things did seem to evaporate in the smoke from that little garbage pail fire on the back porch, while others are going to take a bit more work – but still – the thought is the same. We no longer need to carry the things from the past that hold us back. We need to shed those things in order to see a brighter future.

At the same time, we wrote down the things we wanted to do more of in the coming year. Some may call them resolutions, I just like to think of them as the things that will help me to become the person I really want to be. My daughter had several wishes for herself in the coming year, but to me, one of the most powerful was the little statement she wrote above.

Embrace people’s kindness.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? How hard can that be? Truth be told, how many of us are free to embrace the kindness of others in our daily lives? I’ll bet it isn’t as often as you think.

Too many times we refuse the kindness someone tries to show by the gift of their help. We tell them, “Oh, you can’t do that, it’s too much!” Or we see simpler things as something we should be able to do for ourselves. “Oh, no, I can do it, but thanks for asking!”

Sound familiar? It’s hard to accept help, isn’t it? But by offering help, those people are extending kindness.

My daughter knows she has a difficult time accepting acts of kindness. She doesn’t like to be complimented, she doesn’t like to accept help, she doesn’t like for anyone to do anything for her because she then sees herself as a burden.

Accepting kindness is a way to be vulnerable and open yourself up to others. This can be terrifying. Vulnerability is scary. I know. But as humans, without that vulnerability, without opening ourselves up to others, we lose the very connection that makes us human. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give up on that. Are you?

I believe that this very simple thing has the power to transform lives. It can be easy to show kindness to others, but accepting it in return is the the difficult part. Choose to allow kindness in, and I imagine you will start to see the world, and yourself, differently.


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Book Launch Awesomeness

Last night was the launch party for Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain. Wow. Attendance was good, not everyone who said they were coming managed to make it, but still, enough people were there that I was feeling the love.  🙂

First of all, I have to say what an amazing nephew I have. Not only did he share his photos and trip experiences from Quepos, Costa Rica with me while I was writing the book, he has been a constant and steadfast supporter. When the idea to have this launch party came, he was willing to jump in and do anything to help. He helped plan the party from the decor to the food. The week of the event, he mowed my lawn, and then put a fabulous pond on my front porch and filled my front and back porches with fountains and tropical plants. It was gorgeous. He helped prepare all the food, fussing over presentation and wanting everything to be “just right” for me. The display was gorgeous. I couldn’t have done any of it without him. I hope he knows how much I appreciate all his hard work and effort. I’m one lucky gal to have him not only as my nephew but as as a friend.

My best friend made a twenty hour drive to be there to celebrate with me. It’s truly wonderful to have someone in your life that cares that much. Someone who is with you even when the crazy shows. I’ve been blessed to have her in my life for thirteen years, and it will be interesting to see what the future holds. I was very fortunate to also get to meet someone else for the first time. A lovely woman who has been a faithful supporter, who reads my blogs and always offers a kind word, actually lives close to me. I’d never met her in person, so it was a highlight for me when she and her husband were able to attend. (now whether or not she was happy to have met me, is another story altogether! 😉 Hopefully, she was not disappointed that she came.)  Add a few friends and relatives to the mix, and it truly was a nice evening.

I had a limited supply of books available at the launch, and I happily sold all of them and took orders for more. A few bought multiple copies to give as gifts, which was especially nice! As a writer, I worry sometimes over whether someone who purchased my book enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful feeling when, after reading, they purchase several more to give as gifts. It is the ultimate compliment.

I’ve been blessed in so many ways, and that is what this celebration was really all about. It wasn’t just the launch of a new book, it was the launch of so much more than that. When I started this blog, I said I was on a journey and had no idea where it was going to lead. Being on the right path makes all the difference. This launch was a celebration of the life I’m now living. It is the celebration of a life that I love, a life I’ve made with my beautiful daughter, and the love and support of some wonderful friends and a few key family members. You can’t pick your family, and believe me, I have my share of relations that I have to let go because they are toxic, but the few that I happily surround myself with are more precious to me than they will ever know. By the same token, I’ve never been an extrovert with tons of friends, so the small circle of friends I have made mean the world to me. Their support and encouragement, and even their interest in my work has been astonishing to me. Sometimes I sit back and I just can’t believe that there are people out there who actually CARE. People who want me to succeed. People who are kind to me and have allowed me into their life. I feel so very blessed.

Some of you may know that I put writing aside for over twenty years before picking it back up again. When I joined the writing community after such a long absence, everything had changed, and the writing world was a different place than I’d left. I learned much, and have much left to learn. Still, the community has embraced me, and I am grateful. Writing again – being on the path that I was meant to be on – is a wonderfully freeing thing. I feel complete and more content with my life than I have in a very long time. Possibly ever. Part of that is not just the writing, but in also freeing myself from the toxic familial relationships I spoke about. I finally feel like I can, without guilt, lead my own life, regardless of what others may think. I can be my own person, and I can free myself from the guilt and the shame. I’m not completely there, I still have some fear of totally omitting some people from my life, but now I know that I can, and that I will be okay. The world will keep on moving as it is intended, and I will be a happier, healthier person for it.

I would consider the book launch a success, and for the first time, I would consider myself one as well. Not in a snotty, bragging, “I’m-so-wonderful” kind of way (we all know that sure as heck isn’t true!) but in a healthy, “I’m-in-a-good-place” kind of way. That makes all the difference.

Who am I? Why do you care? The former is many things, and the latter..well…I’m not sure if you do or not. No reason why you should really, but my journey is a life in the making. I’ve heard people say before that their life began at forty. I’m starting to see the wisdom in that. I have a feeling that the years to come just may be the best yet. Who knows where I will go or what I will do from here, but it will be interesting to find out. I’m kinda excited about it.

So really,  who am I? I’m a writer. I’m a mom. I’m an ADHD tornado of chaos waiting to happen. I’m many things. Too many to name. If you don’t care, I’m okay with that. If you do, then thanks. Stick with me and we’ll make some memories and have some fun. I’ve got lots to do. Right now I’m tired, but stay tuned….


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Not Quite so Depressing

I’m feeling a bit better about things since my last tangled up post. I haven’t quite figured out how best to deal with the whole family situation, but for the time being, I’m just going to concentrate on my little family right here. Summer is flying by. It doesn’t help that half my daughter’s summer is spent at her father’s so it just seems like I barely see her before she is gone again. I know, I know…but I’m used to her being around. I’m used to her noise, her laughter, her sarcasm and her….um…noise. She spent the night with one of her aunts last night and over and over again, I’d find myself with my head cocked just listening. The silence was deafening. I should be grateful for those times of blessed silence, but it just doesn’t feel right. 🙂

I will be on vacation at the end of July and am so looking forward to it. I may do some writing, but I will not have my computer and I will be avoiding the real world and all social media for a solid 8 days. I am going to relax, have fun with my daughter and disconnect from everything. I am so ready.

Writing projects? I have a few. First draft is done of a book I’ve been working on and it is truly, honestly horrible. Not kidding even a little bit. First drafts are supposed to be horrible, so I’m not worried. I’ve pulled it out a time or two and given it a read through and scribbled some thoughts for changes, I’ll get to work on it in earnest when I’m back from vacation. I’ve also started another project, but I know I will have to work on it a little at a time. It’s an intensely personal undertaking, and one that is going to be an emotional black hole. I mentioned before that there was a story that wanted to be written, yet I did not want to write it. I don’t even know why I feel compelled to do so. Maybe, as the post regarding that work stated, I’m hoping the truth can set me free. I’ve decided to tackle the project through fiction, however. I think giving myself some leeway with the facts or the way I put them together will prove to save my sanity. Still, I know how hard the process is going to be, and I will not allow myself to get immersed in it without coming up for air. So…I’m working on it a little at a time. I’m only about 3,000 words in. Weaving the facts into fiction isn’t as easy as I had thought it would be, but I just don’t feel the need for a memoir style handling of this. So –what else?  I’m working on the final stages of Blessed Light, Cleansing Rain. Seems like I’ve been at these final stages for a while now. That’s okay, I want it to be the best it can be, so all the little tweaks at the end are necessary. Almost there!

All in all, things are going well. DD enjoyed participating in band camp last week and will have three more days of it this coming week. She’s learned a lot and has been super excited. I’m always glad to see her get excited over something. She tends to be so hard on herself, and her frustration level with learning new things can be high, so I am beyond pleased with how much she enjoys band and how much her confidence has grown because of it. It’s always a bonus when she makes new friends, too.

I’m writing, and I’m learning to not be so hard on myself. I’m working on my organization and I’m working on keeping the stress down. I’m practicing being mindful and grateful. I’m working on not letting my shoulder injury get the best of me. I think I’ve whined a lot in the last week. I’m done with that. Whining doesn’t help. What would help would be for me to learn to be more careful. Probably not going to happen. I do intend to go to the doctor again next week to see what more I’ve done to it. Kind of don’t want to know…

Constant work in progress. That’s me.

 


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Tales From Christmases Past

This Christmas now joins the ranks of other bygone Christmases, living only in memory.  Some memories we wish to forget.  Holidays are nothing if not sometimes unpredictable, amusing, a bit ridiculous, maybe obnoxious, embarrassing and stressful.

Those things just aren’t what it’s all about.  Those are things that happen.  Those are things we can’t stop and we can’t control. People are going to do whatever they do, and in families, there is always that one person that seems hell bent on ruining things for everyone else.  That person doesn’t respect themselves, how can they respect others?  That person is not what Christmas or family is all about.  We forget that sometimes.  We allow that person control over how we feel.  That’s not fair to ourselves.

Christmas Eve, I was feeling that way.  I was wondering why we bothered trying to plan a nice holiday.  I was wondering what the point was.  I forgot something important.  I forgot (for just a moment) that there were a LOT more people in that room, all wanting the same thing I was wanting.  To be together.  To make memories for ourselves and our children that would make us smile.  To enjoy eachother’s company and to celebrate the true spirit of Christmas.  I wouldn’t let the actions of one person ruin that for me or for my daughter.  We did our best to enjoy what remained of the night.

As a child I loved Christmas.  It was my favorite time of year, with the twinkling lights and the decorations.  I couldn’t wait to take out the decorations and to set up the nativity.  I sang Christmas carols nonstop, much to the chagrin of the sister that still lived at home, I’m sure.  I remember the time of year being happy and filled with magic.  I’ve lost that the last few years.  I had to force myself to make cookies, and most of those I ruined.  Baking at Christmas used to be a highlight.  I didn’t even get my Christmas cards mailed this year.  It is a sad state of affairs when you wish your aunt Merry Christmas on Facebook.  Really?  I was already fighting the bah-humbug mood I was in when Christmas Eve Disaster struck.  I felt my mood slipping.  I really didn’t  care.

Christmas Day dawned earlier than usual I think.  It may have started rather bleary eyed, but I was able to spend the morning with my daughter, and watching her opening her presents made me happy.  Knowing that the week before she had given her last five dollars to a family in a store parking lot that looked like they could use the help, no matter how small, made me happy.  Watching her open a special present that a kind, anonymous angel had gone through a lot of trouble to give to her, made me happy.  That is what Christmas is about. Christmas is about sharing what we have, no matter how little it is, with others.  It’s kindness in our hearts.  It is the song on our lips.  One of my sisters had invited us to her house later that day, so we went.  There I was reminded again of what Christmas could be.  Watching my sister with her children and grandchildren, knowing how happy it made her to have them there, seeing her smile and laugh with her grandchildren, again made me happy.  I was reminded that Christmas is not about those that are too selfish to make the holidays special for others, but about the people in our lives, family and friends, who show us all year that we are important.  People who rally around us when we are in need, people who pick us up and help us to stand when we fall, people who offer their support, understanding, kindness and love all year round.  That is the spirit of Christmas.  That is the spirit of family.  Families are never perfect.  We all have our forms of dysfunction in one way or another, but those do not speak for the rest of us.  Those do not define our families.  We cannot help their actions.  Their actions do not speak for the rest of us, and they are most certainly not our faults.  I thank my sister for having my daughter and me join her family on Christmas Day, and I thank my nephews who go out of their way to include an aunt and a cousin in their lives.

Christmas isn’t about lights, presents and bows.  Those things can be fun, but they aren’t what it’s about. Christmas isn’t about the people in our lives that we can’t control.  Christmas is so much more than that.  As we celebrate the birth of Christ, remember that there lies the spirit of Christmas.  Carry that spirit on in our hearts and in our actions.  Show love and kindness to others, and remember that there is joy to be found in not only this season, but in everything around us, every day.

For those that celebrate Christmas, Merry Christmas to you.  For those that do not, I wish you a very Happy New Year, filled with joy and happiness.  May we all learn that we can get along, no matter what our personal beliefs may be.  May we learn that is is okay to disagree, and even okay to speak our minds.  May we learn that it is not okay to hurt others by our words and actions.

I hope the New Year brings you much peace.


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Love, Family and Long Conversations

My daughter and I had an interesting conversation last night.  We have a lot of interesting conversations, the kind that go into the late hours, despite the fact that she has to get up to go to school the next morning.  Once she gets an idea knocking around in her head, she has to talk it out.  She was talking about family and the love, or lack of love, that can be in a family.

Growing up, I never had to worry whether or not my parents loved me, or if I loved them.  I was lucky.  Sure, I thought my mother was harsh and I never believed I would live up to her strict moral code.  I didn’t try her.  I was too afraid of her disapproval to get into any trouble.  (and quite honestly I was too shy to have gone looking for it in the first place)  I knew my mother would protect me to the death, but she didn’t know me as well as she thought she did.  We got along great.  I just kept my opinions to myself because it made things easier.  Although I did worry about her approval, I never worried about love.  My mother loved me fiercely.  Sometimes too fiercely.  My father was very different from my mother.  I was the last child, and Dad was older when I came along.  I don’t know what he was like to my older siblings, but all my personal memories of my Dad are the warm, fuzzy sort.  I trailed after him like a puppy and he took me fishing and pitched endless baseballs.  I loved my Dad dearly.  He never even raised his voice to me that I can remember.  I didn’t want to disappoint him, either, so I never tried to take advantage or be “bad”.   (I’m sure I have a couple siblings that would say I might not have been “bad” but could definitely be “annoying” at times) I know how fortunate I was as a child.  Yes, bad things happened, some of those things haunt me to this day, but no matter what, I had the love of two parents.  Always.

My daughter’s initial question was whether it was “wrong” to cut a parent out of your life.  That is certainly a tough one.  My opinion on the matter is that if a parent is toxic to you, and you can recognize that, then you owe it to your health to not put yourself in the situation if you don’t have to.

My daughter struggles with some issues in her life.  I hate  it for her, I can help her through as best I can, but at the end of the day there is precious little I can do about any of it.  When she is older she will have to make her own decisions about what is, and is not, best for her.  I don’t like to talk about it all, really.  (yes, I do sometimes rant and rave to a select few who are willing to listen)  For the most part, I do not like to dwell on negativity.  I do not like to live in constant drama.  I prefer to find the joy in life, and to be grateful for my many blessings.  Negativity is toxic.  There are certain things that bring stress, and things that will always have to be taken care of, but I choose to let go of as much of it as I can.

Without going into the details of the conversation, all I can say is how lucky I am to have never had to wonder if I was loved.  To know, that even when your parents drive you mad, that they love you and support you, is something I really always took for granted.  I cannot imagine an existence where I have to wonder if a parent loves me, or cares about me at all.  I don’t know what it’s like to feel that you are a possession to be controlled, not a child to be loved.  I can feel the pain of others, especially my own daughter.  When she hurts I can feel it to the core of my being, but at the same time, sometimes I do not know how it feels to be in her shoes.

Children have opinions.  They might even be different than yours.  Children have their own manner of speaking, of walking, of being.  Maybe it reminds you of someone else and you don’t like it, but it isn’t up to you to change it.  Children are smarter than some people give them credit for.  Children are not a possession.  They are not something to be controlled at any cost.  Teach them to use their own judgement and to trust themselves.  Teach them the value of love, kindness and sincerity.  Teach them what it takes to go out into this world as a productive member of society that can contribute something to the world, not a puppet who only knows how to please.  Be firm with your children , but not cruel.  Teach them values and responsibility — but know that one day their values may be different than your own.  You are teaching them to live their own life, not lead an exact replica of your own.  Teach your children that you love and support them to your last breath, but teach them also, that sometimes they have to fight a battle for themselves.  Cherish your child’s thoughts.  Encourage them to be the person they are meant to be.  Talk to them and listen to what they say.  Make rules for their safety, expect rules to be adhered to, but make sure the rules are there for their betterment, not just because you need to dictate something.  Allow them to have their own personality, their own way of doing things.  So what if it isn’t like yours?

I am grateful every day for my daughter and the lessons she teaches me.  I look forward to our talks, no matter how late in the night they go, because I can think of nothing better than the fact that she wants to share her thoughts with me.  She is full of new insights, a different way of seeing things; and sometimes I am amazed by the maturity of those thoughts and ideas.  We are heading into precarious territory over the next few years — the thought of parenting a teen quite frankly causes me to shudder.  I only hope that no matter what, she knows I love her.  I hope that no matter what, she is always confident enough to share with me, and allow me into her thoughts.  I hope that she is not so terrified of disappointing me that she can’t be the person she is meant to be.  Little does she know that she could never disappoint me.

I am grateful for having two parents that I know loved me.  Sure, each in their own way, but I always had love.  I can’t imagine the not knowing.  My daughter thinks it would be easier to know that your parents didn’t love you at all, than to wonder if they do.  To always wonder what they expect out of you, and why you can never seem to get it right.  She says the stress of not knowing how to act, or how to talk or how to think without being belittled for it is just too much.  I think she’s right. It is too much.  Why do we insist on hurting the people we are supposed to love the most?