Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Your Secret Super Power a Few Years Down the Road

I wrote a piece several years ago for a wonderful website called “Inspire Me Today”.  I wrote it while my now deceased husband was still alive and we were fighting for his life.  It is being reposted today and I hope you will revisit it by clicking here

As I reread the piece it made me reflect on how much as happened since I wrote it and how my view of the world has sharpened over time.  Even though Jim did not survive, our collective belief in ourselves, our family, our strength, and our knowledge that Jim would be healed in some way has not changed.  Our resilience got both Jim and I through some incredibly hard times.  Jim had chronic neurological Lyme disease that expressed itself with overlapping ALS-symptoms.  It got to the point that Jim could no longer walk, move, talk or breathe on his own.  Yet through these years Jim managed to touch people, to smile when friends showed up, to be present for our children.  His will was incredible and he survived longer than many physicians thought he would because of his belief in himself.  I juggled a job and raising children, managed to keep our family functioning as a family, and spearheaded Jim’s care because of my belief in self, lifted up with God’s help, and supported by many loving family and friends.

During the end of Jim’s life a friend said something profound to me that helped me realize that regardless of whether Jim would be healed while on Earth, it was guaranteed he would be healed after death.  In heaven, Jim is healthy again.  Our belief in self and our belief and faith in God supports that inner resilience and can make reality happen here or after in heaven.  My super power is still found within – it has taken a beating, but the joy I can feel for life and my children has been highlighted more brightly because of the pain of what we went through.  Not in spite of, but because of….. the secret super power is still present in full force – helping me carve a new path of my own choosing.

 

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When Details Are Important

As we all know, time can go by so quickly and yet so slowly at the same time.  Painful times that seemed to last a lifetime in some sense could be flagged by fleeting moments where it is hard to believe years have passed already.  Two years since my late husband was here with me, two more years in which our children have grown and transformed into their own persons, two blinks of an eye where it seems sometimes that Jim might still be at the house when I return from work but at the same time two long years where so much has changed.

Jim’s heaven day was two years ago.  Another widow introduced me to this term and its name is powerful and appropriate.  Rather than thinking about a death anniversary as a sad event for me and many others still here, it is right to remember that Jim is in heaven and marking that as a wonderful event for him.  As I reflect on Jim and try to remember him as the person he was – his good qualities, his not so good qualities, his quirks, his personality, his style, his essence – I know remembering the details is important.  I remember his smile, the way his eyes would sparkle, the way he looked when he wore a blue shirt, the way he said my name, his laugh, the way he walked, the jokes he told, the gentleness he expressed to strangers, our vacations, the way he meticulously mowed the lawn, the countless camera shots he took of our kids to capture all those precise moments, the way he drove his car, the expressions he would use that I never completely understood until he explained them to me.  The list goes on, but when I am in survival mode or busy mode trying to get it all done, I don’t take the time to remember the details.  But the details are so important.

The details provide the substance, the gift, the life that Jim was and gave.  Recalling these details for my kids helps to make their daddy a real person rather than a photo in an album.  Remembering the fine points, the nuances, the details, the private interactions – all this honors Jim and his memory.  These details help me remember healthy Jim, rather than sick Jim.  They help me see the good in people, despite their flaws.  They release emotions and remind me that Jim mattered, our life together mattered, and every person has value.

That being said, when considering my future, I also have come to appreciate that fretting over details is one of my worst enemies.  Where there is real value in recalling details of the past, there is danger over obsessing over details as it relates to the future.  Instead, I have learned the future must be met with broad strokes.  Considering goals and visions is necessary and then trusting and working to make these a reality is appropriate.  If I try to consider too many details and/or control things, I lose.  This doesn’t mean I am laxidasical about my future or that I do not plan for it.  It does mean that I have stopped trying to control the happenstances along the road.  I have learned to accept what happens and consider that setbacks or changes in directions are alright.  This isn’t necessarily easy either – I can cry with the best of them; however, it is liberating to give up the control and know and trust that God will handle things such that my kids and I will be alright. 

So critically analyzing the past and mulling over details – yes; but using this same strategy for the     future – no.  Instead my new mantra has become to move forward with confidence without controlling every detail, but I do know that this is alright.  Moving forward with confidence with that general vision for the future but knowing things will change and morph and not go the way I envision completely.  And knowing too that this is alright as well.

There have been several scriptures over the years that have spoken to me and have helped to get me through some difficult, dark, and frankly horrible days.  This one again speaks to me and reminds me to let go of the control and the details when it comes to the future:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28

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Is Skiing akin to Life?

It was one of my late husband’s favorite activities. The exhilaration of moving with ease quickly down a mountain, the challenge of a steep section of terrain, the beauty and peace of nature and the rush of crisp air.  He wanted to share this experience with his children.  He wanted to teach them to ski.  He wanted to laugh at their successes and celebrate their improvements over the years.  But it was not meant to be.  Jim died before the kids were old enough to start their training.

So I have taken up the cause, knowing this was one of a handful of “musts” in Jim’s mind. The kids participated in two days of ski school (or in my son’s case – snowboarding school) and on the third day we went out together.  At the beginning of the trip, things started off questionable – my daughter’s boots were too tight and she wailed and flung her body on the ground; my son had a fall that knocked the wind out of him and scared him such that I wasn’t sure he would get back on the slopes.  But then it all clicked.  After a brief rough start on day three, we were all moving well down the slopes.  I stayed behind the kids watching.  My maternal instincts of “you are going too fast” and “you are getting too close to the edge” had to be kept in check.  I held my tongue and hoped for the best, trusting that everything would be fine.

My worry turned to pride. My doubts turned to confidence.  In the end, all was well.

And then it occurred to me that this ski trip was a metaphor of our life as a family. Shaky starts.  Doubts.  Periods of scary times.  The need to trust.  In the end, with some practice, we are getting it “right” just as with skiing – we are finding confidence, joy, and peace.  Skiing does teach life lessons and is a reminder to look inward as well as outwards – believe in yourself, work hard to accomplish something meaningful, but at the same time, look outward – appreciate nature, look to others for help, and trust in something bigger than yourself.

Needless to say, we are already planning next year’s adventure.

The Faces of True Friendship

Relationships make life worth living. And of course relationships take on all forms: romantic, parental, siblings, friends, colleagues, neighbors, etc. One of the strongest foundational types of relationships lies with friendships. When times get tough and often when there are problems with the other types of relationships, a person often looks to a friend for help and kindness.

I have been pondering friends a lot lately. My late husband’s one-year death anniversary recently passed and at the same time two other personal events happened that caused me much sadness and distress. So much pain was hitting me at the same time that I couldn’t handle it alone as I so often have attempted to do in the past. And so I did the obvious – I turned to my friends for help.

Friends come in all varieties and we certainly need them all. There is the long-term friend who knows you better than you know yourself sometimes. She is the one with the history, the one who understands your values and your core. She has seen you mature, grow, and develop over years. Then there is the sassy friend – the one who says what you wish you could say. The one who cusses when you should. The one who says it like it is. Another valuable friend is the spiritual one – she is the one who keeps you grounded, who reminds you of what is important – the one who calls you to be a better person and see things from a different perspective. The fourth type is the nurturing friend – the one who lets you cry on her shoulder, pats your back and tells you it will all be alright, and the one that will listen to you for hours even though she has heard the same story many, many, many times already. The sisterly friend is that person who is the straight shooter – she sees through it all and after listening to you, gives you the advice you know is true but you don’t really want to hear it. She is the “tough love” friend. Finally there is the considerate friend. This is the friend that invites you to Christmas dinner when she knows you will be alone. She is the one who sends you a Starbucks gift card and a nice note to remind you to hang in there.

One friend may have several of these qualities and another friend only one. Regardless, the personalities, the values, and the gifts these friends offer are unique and to be valued. When I consider how I would have survived the last couple of months without these friends, I realize that I would still be sinking without their kindness. A friend is such a gift and not to be forgotten when we are considering our days and what and whom to be grateful for.

So for all my beautiful and wonderful friends, thank you for your presence in my life. I am truly grateful!

Trees, Lessons, and Life

The tree that looked different from the rest – it felt like it was looming over me.  It felt like the moon feels sometimes – you move to a new spot and there it was.  Following me.  I sat among all the other soccer moms.  I was different though.  They all appeared to know each other, talking with one another while I sat alone, contemplative in my thoughts.  I looked around at my daughter and her teammates. They were smiling, running, having a good time.  The way 5 year olds should.  I looked across to the other field where I could see my 8 year old getting instructions and engaging with his teammates in his competitive style.  I was happy.  But, I was also sad.  I felt tears welling in my eyes and was glad for the sunglasses I still had on my eyes to hide the tears.  The other soccer moms all appeared married with husbands who came to the games, to some practices and engaged with their kids.  I was glad for that intact family unit.  How I longed for that full unit again with a husband and father to these two sweet kids of ours.  Jim has been dead for only a few months and I ached for my kids.

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And then there was the tree.  I felt its presence again.  I looked up.  I felt comfort looking at that tree over the past many weeks of soccer.  I thought it was because of its unusual branching and geometric shaping across the sky.  I thought it was because of the straightness to its form, its proper looking stance and directness.  But then, on this particular soccer night as that tree called to me again, I looked and realized why I was drawn to it.  The tree was absolutely leafless – it was dead.  And there this tree was surrounded by living trees.  The dead among the living.  Both trees present.  Both trees making their mark on the world.  Both trees working together in such a way that by being together it was much more of a wonderful sight.

Life is Unpredictable, Goodness and Gratitude are Constant

My husband’s health is deteriorating.  My children (ages 7 and 5) are growing more anxious.  I don’t know what the next many weeks will bring.  Jim is too young for any of this.  I want him to get his life back.  I want my kids to have a father who can talk with them, play with them, and teach them all the things he knows so well.  I want my husband back.  Still, in the midst of all the sadness, there is gratitude and goodness.

I wrote an article months ago that was just published.  It was a wonderful reminder of gratitude at the time I needed to read it.  I hope you will enjoy the article too.  Here is the link.

The Circus Lesson – Why a Kid Thinks One Act is Better than the Others

Ringling Brothers Circus

Ringling Brothers Circus (Photo credit: Bob n Renee)

Recently my kids and I went to the circus.  It was one of the smaller ones that comes to town for just a day and had that feeling of circuses from years past.  At intermission we were even allowed to visit  the floor to ride elephants, ponies, and have photos taken with all kinds of exotic animals.  The performances were quite dramatic as well – tiger tamers, motorcycle stunts, flying trapezes, magic, juggling (even with flames and knives), gymnastic routines, and trained dogs jumping through hoops.  There was even an act where a man and woman would change outfits right in front of your eyes.  I still can’t figure out how they pulled that off.  It was impressive to say the least.

 

At the end of the show, I asked my kids, ages 7 and 5, what they liked best about the circus.  I would have lost a lot of money for I was sure I knew their answers even before they said them.  My daughter loves gymnastics and horses these days and I was sure she would say one of those acts.  My son has always loved tigers and so my guess was with that performance.

But how mistaken I was.  Of all the acts we saw, what both of my kids said almost at the same time and with such enthusiasm and gusto that it took me a bit by surprise “The chairs!”  I stopped dead in my tracks for a brief moment.

The chair act.  Really?  This one act lasted only a few minutes.  It seemed to pale in comparison to the other more glitzy, fancy, and magical acts.  The chairs, really?

For this act, a man took one straight-back wooden chair and placed it on a table.  Then he took another straight-back wooden chair and placed it strategically on top of the first chair.  Then he added a third chair.  Then a fourth.  I never counted how many in total he added.  I am guessing six.  After he added the last, he gently climbed up the sides and then stood on top of the chair mountain, arms extended in triumph and music trumpeting his success.

The chair act, really?  I was still thinking about this as we walked to our car.  When I asked my kids why this was the best act, they didn’t really have an answer for me.  My son stated, “It was cool!”  My daughter basically said the same thing as she jumped up and down clapping.

What was it that got them so excited about this act?  Frankly, I was much more impressed with several of the other acts.  This one didn’t hold my attention.  I pondered this some more as I drove home.  Rounding into my driveway, I struck upon something I shared with the kids.  When I told them, they looked at me with that sweet child-stare that says without saying “Of course mom – that’s what we said.  What took you so long?”

As the car rolled into the garage, I stopped, turned off the car and then faced the kids in the backseat.  “Was the chair act awesome because it was something you can do too?”

After that sweet look and wide-eyed gesture paled, my son squinted his eyes, cocked his head ever so slightly and quietly said, “Yeah, but really I can do all of it if I really wanted to Mom.”

I was so proud…….

Stacked

Stacked (Photo credit: hypercatalecta)

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