Inspiration

The First Birthday … After…

Today is my darling daughter’s 11th birthday.  I say “daughter” because she’s part of my new family, my new reality and she’s grown herself into the depths of my heart.  She’s not biological but nonetheless, she’s the breath of fresh air every single day. I am so honored her parents agreed to allow me to raise her after their passing.

Today I get to have lunch at the school with her. I get to bring her a cupcake and a little bag of treats. I get to see her smile, and hear her laugh. I get to see the happiness that will bring on her face, and part of me feels guilt because it’s not her momma.  Not her real one anyway. I cannot help but think Jennifer, her mom, is up in heaven wishing beyond all that is natural that today it could be her in front of her daughter.

Often, I bow my head and I cry. Not for me.  For the loss the two of them must feel.  I only hope that the gifts I buy, the cakes I serve, or the numerous silly kisses will wash away the pain of understanding that this is the very first birthday without either of her parents.  Will she think of them? I hope so. Will she be sad? I pray only moments.

Today I feel blessed. Completely and utterly focused on raising her and her two siblings the best I can. It can be so overwhelming. The challenges of raising three traumatized kids, but my husband and I wouldn’t turn away from our responsibility no matter what. We love them just as though they’ve been with us since birth.  That won’t ever change.

Inspiration, The Children

“The Year of the 1st’s”…The Introduction

Recently, as many of you know, I have taken on the enormous yet honorable role of raising three adorable children who’s parents have passed on.  I thought I would be in for the hardest time when I found out that no one had been setting boundaries, teaching them how to take care of their bodies or their home.  I thought that life would be sad, difficult in that nothing would be as it appears. There would be outbursts, anger fits, and tears. I was wrong. Kids are more resilient than people give them credit.

These three are no different. In the coming months I hope to introduce you to each of their unique personalities.  I hope to show you through their stories how trials and joy bubble up without permission.  I hope that you, as I have will fall in love with them, want to fight for them, and ultimately join me in encouraging these kids.  They need a cheerleader, and a parent who loves them as they do their own.  That’s me.

I wonder if you’ll be interested in learning about all the firsts?  You see, people think about the emotions of the loss, but what they forget is that life for all the wonderfulness of not knowing what is about to happen is all about moving on.  The first birthday without either of their parents.  The first time they plan for their future without their parents. It’s about the moments that come and go and will ever be shared with mom or dad.  Even something incredibly joyful and to see that bright face turn around and exclaim how much they want to share it with– and then there’s the realization that that person isn’t around anymore.

As they become their own individual souls who embrace their special talents, the path to success begins to reveal itself.  Learning to love, and to give thanks to those who support them is making these kids into powerful beings.  They’re more than just victims and then survivors. These kids are amazing beautiful children who are happy more than 90 percent of their day. They’re hopeful. They’re productive.  It’s a full-on-board all hands on deck inclusive and enthusiastic approach to teaching, guiding and molding behaviors.

Inspiration

Just A City Girl Living in a Country World

Just a big city girl for sure. Along time ago I realized that I adore being close to everything a city offers. I love the theater, shopping, dining, art, and the intellect that educated cultured individuals bring to a conversation. I love café’s where I can sit and people watch. I love the hustle in the bustle that lends quickness to my day. Most of all I love that undeniable sense of purpose that everybody seems to have.

When my children were born, I was moved to the suburbs. “Sensible shoes” took the place of beautiful long leg extending strappy sandals. Sweaters took the place of button-down-flowing feminine looking shirts or blouses. All my scarves went into the closet. My dangly earrings put in storage. My wardrobe went from fabulous to functional!

The toughness of ball-busting formidable women in the city extends an even greater judgement from suburban housewives when one doesn’t comply with unwritten social etiquette of how to act around husbands and families. Step outside those bounds once and the paws and claws come out!

These women who make this “family style” living look like it’s a breeze are simply amazing to me. I think that I was that person once, a long time ago? I was so worried about the outcome of my efforts that I lost my own identity along the way. In short I pretended to have it all together so as to fit into a lifestyle I never wanted nor was ever comfortable with!

In my experience you can move into a neighborhood and it can be the worst or it can be the best. People can either support and create that village it takes to raise children or they can come at you with judgement and do everything they can to tear you down. I’ve been in both neighborhoods. The later is more prevalent for sure.

My neighborhood here on the peninsula of my 6 acres the back up to the Bayou somewhere in Louisiana is the Safehaven for me. It is real and it is peaceful. It is quiet. What resonates the most about the house is not as fancy Decour or price tag. It is the overwhelming sense of being one with all the elements around.

This home is the exception to the suburban rule because it has no restrictions on home, land or property. None on behavior or actions other than laws. It’s pure country living. I enjoy being here…until I can’t wait to get back to my strappy sandals and colorful tunics!

I have to say that everyone needs a moment of silence to squash the voices of self-doubt. I have had that and I feel grateful. However, as much as I fight it and want to stay it is time for me to get back to the city. It’s time to walk among the fast and furious. Summer for me is over. I’ve rested and I’m grateful for the relaxation, but it’s time for purpose to begin again.

The Children

Why did God choose me?

Three years ago she asked, “Will you love them like they’re your own?” And I answered, “Of course!”  Did I understand the consequences of my agreement at the time? Probably not!  I believe I just wanted then what I want now, and that is to be part of the proverbial “village” that is needed to raise the kids?

Three years of not being able to hug a parent, or play ball, or talk to them, or shop, or eat dinners, or believe that the security they provide is actually going to last?  These kids came to me broken.  They’re all riddled with the absence of constant attention. Their grades plummeted.  Their behaviors were horrible.  It wasn’t because their mom and dad didn’t love them.  In fact, what really matter is that the base of a good kid is in each one due to the fact that their parent’s adored them!  They’re all just sucking the life out of everything they can, because they each believe that people come into our lives, and then they leave.

In the process of becoming the authority, the responsible adult, the security blanket, poor Aunt Rebecca became the disciplinarian. Yes, and in doing that, I lost my fun Aunt Rebecca title and became, “mean Aunt Rebecca!” I have to tell you that the beginning was not as much fun as I thought it was going to be. In the end, though, this journey is proving to be an incredibly honorable experience. I’m not only learning about them, but the second turn of raising a set of kids is forcing me to learn more of myself.

There’s so much to do.  There’s so much to say.  There’s so many things that I want to teach them.  Much to prepare them for.  I’m up to the challenge. I am.  Sometimes, I fade into the despair of what it must be like to lose both your parents at once.  Sometimes I weep because they didn’t know how absolutely incredibly loved their parents were.

Here’s what I do know. I try every single day to be a better person. To be kind and put the frustrations of my inadequacies behind me.  I don’t show weakness to the children. I show them consistency. I know I am not supposed to be their friend, I am the person who puts them before myself, or anyone or anything. That’s my job.  I don’t take it lightly.  It is my belief that I am profoundly and irrevocably committed to their overall happiness and well being.

I’m no longer complain. I try to do things a little different and let go of my own expectations.  I’m not going to try and reason or understand because it does me no good. I’m not going to spend this year lost in the muck of pain and anger of what has been lost, or what will come when the ultimate loss is paid.  All I can do is push through to the good, the joy of what I see in the community around me. Take stock in the kindness of others and not ask what the angle is. To revel in the fact that I have the skills necessary to do this job and thank the good Lord he saw fit to prepare me for this journey.

I pray every day that I do a job that deserves praise.  I love them. Unconditionally. I may never know why God chose me, but what I do know, is that I thank God every day that he did.  Amen.

Inspiration

Random Act of Kindness

Have you ever sat down in tears, and thought, “I feel so blessed!”  Well, today that was me.  For a moment there were no words. No strife, no anger, no pain, no concern, and no worry.  There was only immense gratefulness.  A moment of humility unlike any other I’ve ever felt. I have always been a hopeful person, but I have never maintained a level of faith in another human being. From time to time they disappoint me. Some leave me devastated in their selfish wake. Today, when kindness brought me to the point of tears, I sat down and let them fall. All I felt was the love from the people who show me kindness.

It was then that I replayed the past year over in my head. A few incredible women popped out and as my tears fell, my heart warmed.  If I have ever lost faith in kindness, that would be all but proven lately that more people are kind than they are not.  For this girl, who has lived through the worst things imaginable; believing in the kindness of others has been my challenge.  I’ve remained transparent even in the wake of pain that followed; all with the belief that is what God has called me to do.  Believing in my own faith that if I did the right thing time and time again, despite that the outcome has not always matched in justice; things would work out in the end. Not that my choices have anything to do with other’s kindness, or that any of this is my doing; it’s just that it lend credibility to the astounding sense of overwhelming love I felt and why.

A woman named Kim Whiting organized several families to help us with Christmas this year.  Well, with grandma’s and aunts, and uncles, and extended family here in Dallas; I just didn’t know how I was going to be able to do Christmas.  The three new kids’ and both of mine in NOLA in college, meant for a difficult budget.  Jennifer, the mom of the three kids sick, and money running out due to in home 24/7 care so she doesn’t have to be at a senior facility and you have one stressed out Rebecca.  Kim came to the rescue and sent a lovely family to us bearing a ton of Christmas gifts for the kids.  They’re a lifesaver!  Sent from God above!  Thank you Kim for reaching out to your network to help us! You have a huge loving heart.

That’s when it reminded me of a wonderful woman named Lynn Ellis who organized food deliveries when I was so overwhelmed with new after school activities and couldn’t afford the dinners or time to cook my own.  It takes everything I have to put my pride aside and accept help. I usually the one who gives it. I was so humbled by Lynn’s generosity though and found her willingness to support Jennifer’s family and my efforts inspiring. She listed the family on a website that organized a community of wonderful moms who brought amazing dinners.  I cannot express in enough words how incredibly helpful she’s been to my family and how profoundly proud I am to know her.  Thank you Lynn for giving us such a precious gift of life; food. Your grace inspires me.

Kim Whitehead heard that we were in desperate need of school clothes and rallied together all the grade and middle school parents who donated an entire wardrobe for all three kids.  She’s a precious inspiration who continues to awe and shock me with how much she is able to accomplish. C.E.O.’s should take notice!  Her heart of gold helped me at a time when again I was overwhelmed with medical costs and strategic planning of my own.  I cannot thank you enough for adding me to your already extensive to do list, just to bless this family with your kindness. You are truly inspirational.

Shannon Quick and Gina McCoy who are amazing women, helped Jennifer clean and organize her home this past year. They packed, and served whenever called.  They love her with unconditional non judgement truthfulness and for that I am profoundly grateful. I love you ladies, and I treasure your help.

The Moms of Plano and the Moms of Murphy who continue to support Jen. Special Delivery where Dwight used to work who provide the insurance so she can continue treatment, The Karate Place where Dwight used to take the kids who continue to raise money each year. Those funds go directly to her medical and daily living expenses. Every dollar has been used to keep this family together.  We’re so thankful that you rallied around this family. Thank you for being so incredible selfless and kind.

To my girlfriends Gail Marks, Dawn Smith, Mary Jarcy, Leanna Cannon, Debbie Smith, my daughter Elizabeth and the girls from social media who are too many to list who support me through Facebook; I get so much from you. You listen to me rant and keep the grace I know you have.  Thank you for being there for me.

I wish I could thank each one of the GOFUNDME people who support Jen and her family this past year. We could NOT have done any of this had it not been for you. I wish I could thank the individuals to brought dinners, or gave gift cards or cash or helped or supported, or drove, or listened when it was all too overwhelming for me.  How can I possibly tell you that if it weren’t for you this past year, I don’t know what I would have done? Thank you everyone for the smaller donation to the biggest. Your kindness continues to raise this family up.

Now you know why it all just hit me and I couldn’t stand.  I felt God today. I feel him more lately than I have ever felt him.  I feel so humbled, so thankful, so incredibly inspired to be the best human being I can be because of these amazing women. I want to say that I am truly thankful for you. I am honored that you wanted to help, and I treasure you more than rubies and gold.  You are everything this world needs. I wish everyone knew how incredibly wonderful each and every one of you are; from the woman who brought me food, to the girl who cleaned the house, to the leaders who rallied a community to support us. You are everything a woman should be, and all that I hope one day a woman says about me.  Thank you, from the bottom of my warmest humbled heart for your selfless acts of kindness. I truly mean it when I say that I pray generously that God blesses you in the very same kind manner that you have blessed this family.  Thank you for being the light of God and shining that light where there was darkness and now there is hope and faith.  Merry Christmas!

Inspiration

God in Motion – A Heartfelt Thank You!

Jennifer, my sister-in-law and I are best friends. We’ve been besties for over twenty years. When she got sick five years ago, I was devastated. She endured two years of testing only to be completely frustrated. because the doctors she was seeing “knew there was a carcinoma, but couldn’t find it.” She knew something was wrong. Two years later, in the wake of immense pain in her abdomen, she learned that she had liver cancer. The doctors believed it was metastasized from another type of cancer so they asked Jen at the age of forty-five if she’d ever had a mammogram. She replied “No.” The doctors never asked for that test. It was then when she learned she had stage four breast, pelvic, and liver metastasized cancers.

The family was devastated, but her doctor, Dr. Trumbly, was ready to do whatever he could to make certain that she lived a long life. He has gone above and beyond with every newest treatment known to cure her. Unfortunately, after winning the battle twice, Jennifer is now at the end of a very difficult struggle.

Jennifer is a widow. Her husband Dwight found out that he had stage four colon cancer within the two weeks she was diagnosed. In March 2015, Dwight lost his hard fought battle for life. They have three beautiful children. Brandon is thirteen. Sami is eleven and Laura is ten. The children are exceptionally normal kids considering both their parents have been sick for three years.

Jennifer, Dwight and the kids are all steadfast believers. They love the Lord. As a result of their faithfulness, Jennifer has remained hopeful about her condition and positive towards her children. So much so, that I was afraid she may not fully comprehend the seriousness of her condition. However, last night I had a rare unique opportunity to witness God in motion.

When Jen gets an infection it affects the cancer now growing in her brain. The drugs are ineffective in crossing the blood barrier between the body and the brain. Upon visits for three days I felt that Jennifer’s rapid decline in cognitive ability meant she has another infection. I called Dr. Trumbly immediately and we admitted her in the ER yesterday. It may seem like I am rambling, because most of you already know the situation. She’s been so publicly transparent about her struggle. Hopefully in an effort to motivate other’s into a faithful path. Nonetheless, I promise if you bear with me I will make a point that just might touch your heart too today.

I’m sitting in the emergency room with her and I notice that all the men and women who are there know her. They’re alarmed at her confusion. They begin in unison as if she’s been there a hundred times. They’ve wheeled in the Cat Scans. (She’s completely immobile.) They have the best blood-extracting nurse on the floor in to get some. (She bruises easy.) They’re wheeling and dealing all the while laughing and joking with her. They like her! She’s responding with laughter and joking and cutting up. It was quite a sight to see. She’s comfortable!

When they leave the room, she cries. I stand next to her as her hands cover her eyes. She’s scared, and she lowers them long enough to whisper through her tears, “I need you.” I touch her hand and I tell her that they’re going to find out why she’s so confused. This isn’t the end. I’m trying to smooth it over. Just like the song. It doesn’t work. She knows better. She says, “I’m so mad at you. This is me! Don’t lie to me.” You see, she knows me. We’re best friends. I know her and she knows how I handle difficulty. “It’s okay to hurt,” she says. And I do. Tears fill my eyes, but darn it as long as I’m in public I have a hard time crying! So I don’t let them fall. “You’re too tough!” She hisses. “Come on over to the love side.” And then someone comes in, and her tears are wiped away.

I sit in the chair and listen as if I am watching a heartwarming movie. I’m afraid too. I don’t want to lose her! I don’t know if it’s just an infection. I’m thinking “Oh God. What if this is it?! What do I need to do.” Unfortunately for me, everything I feel/think/process streams on my face. She notices.

The internal doctor comes over to introduce himself to me and asks what I think might be causing it. I told him about the discussion with Trumbly and that the doc thinks she has an infection somewhere. He concurs. I feel better! “So, she’ll get better?” I plead.

“Yes, she probably will in a few days. We’ll get our Jennifer back.” His Jennifer?! Yeah buddy! They’re emotionally invested. I am seeing the first of many good signs “God’s got this.” They decide to admit her.

I met them upstairs and before I got to the room at least twenty nurses and doctors and techs were saying hello to her. She’s commanding attention and doesn’t have a clue what she’s saying or what they’re saying, but they don’t care! One by one; patient, kind and considerate people are saying hello through bright shiny white smiles. They’re happy to see her. That’s the second sign of God. It brings a sense of stillness to her anxiety. She’s beginning to calm down a bit.

Once they took vitals and poked and prodded, we settled in. I wanted to go to this Plano Moms book club I’ve been looking so forward to all month. I was so excited to talk about the book, The Good Girl. I have never ready anything like that. I transgress. Anyway, I tell her I need to go. She won’t have it! She says, “Hey, I haven’t had anything to eat, so order me something.” It’s getting late and they’ve stopped serving food at the hospital so I agree. It’s almost 7 o’clock when I am supposed to be at the Club. I call Scott, (my husband) and tell him I’m not able to go. I need him to get to the kids and make sure they have dinner. He agrees, and I settle in with Jen.

I’m disappointed. I don’t know why?! I feel guilty. I know I am exactly right where I need to be, but part of me is frustrated after a long tumultuous day. I sigh heavily. I sit in the chair and begin to give everyone text updates. I cancel the orders for the next day to transport her to the new residence she was going to. I call the facility owner, I inform the family she will probably be okay and talk to the kids about what is expected of them for the evening. Scott won’t be there until 7 o’clock. Brandon, the oldest kicks into gear and cooks mac and cheese for them. He empties the dishwasher, feeds the dog and makes sure the girls are showered. It’s picture day Wednesday. What a guy! Thirteen and already a fine young man! That’s the third sign of God.

Jen gets her food and calls me over. She says, “I’m mad at you. I miss you.” She cries again. “I never get girl time anymore. I’ve ruined your life!” Now she’s sobbing and can barely ask, “Can you just stay with me?”

“The kids are not ruining my life!” I softly shout. It’s time. I can tell you that I am tough. She knows it. Anyone who knows me knows it. I’ve spent the whole day frustrated and angry about not being able to get things done and feeling so helpless. I don’t know if you know my story but I’ve had a life filled with obstacles of my own. I’ve been raped, and beaten. I’ve been through a terrible accident that took the life of my unborn child. I’ve lived through a fire that took all my belongings and almost my life. I’ve been so poor I haven’t had hot running water. I’ve been homeless. I have witnessed those I love die. I survived ten surgeries of my own. To say I am tough doesn’t measure the reality that little can make me break. But at that moment I broke! I let the tears fall. I grasped her hand and held it in mine and we both sobbed together.

She wipes her eyes and tells me, “If this is it, I want you to be okay. I know it’s the end of my journey.” That’s what she calls it. I find that so faithful don’t you? She never says, “I’m dying,” because she believes she’s passing on to Heaven and that this is not the end. I don’t correct her this time. She hasn’t been able to come to grips with the fact that she’s losing this fight. For a brief moment she’s Jen. She’s clear. She says, “I know I am going to be alright, because I can watch my children from heaven. I have to learn to let go and I’m getting that now.”

I’m crying writing this today. Not because it makes me sad. Oh no, she wouldn’t have that! I’m in tears because she is at peace. She knows she’s headed to Heaven. She knows he’s got her kids by placing them in my hands. I’ve got this! God’s prepared me in the face of all the human unkindness I’ve suffered. He’s kept me protected, and he’s given me joy in the face of the horribleness I had to endure. I’m crying because I know why I stayed strong. Why I never got lost in my own sadness. Why I didn’t take my own life at the low points. He made me strong so I could sit in that very moment and help her tears fall. So I could help her know how much I love her! How valuable her life is. How she threw a pebble and how that rippled a community’s love to grow. I reminded her.

I’m at peace, because we finished crying. Then we reminisced about funny things long past. We talked for hours. She’s still confused, but it was the best few hours I’ve spent in a long time. We had a girl’s night last night. It was EPIC! Something I won’t forget anytime soon. If you ask me about it, I may tear up, but I process these things well, so just expect I’ll be fine. After all, it’s really not about me; it’s all about her. I’m so very relieved that God has worked such miracles in her life, and that she sees them. I’m touched that he chose me to care for those precious children! I’m humbled more than any words can possibly convey to you how restored my faith is in humanity because of the kindness of everyone who has come to know Jennifer. I cannot thank everyone enough on all of our behalf for the generosity, the kindness, the prayers and all the empathy that everyone has shown. I don’t know if the words I write today will be able to convey how thankful the family is that friends and family alike have made such an impact. I will thank you, although I will never really truly feel that is enough. Thank you. The ripples from her pebble have filled our sea. I’ve witnessed God in motion.

Inspiration

Self Doubt – Don’t Let it Control You!

There are so many days when I try to put my head toward the wind, and my shoulders steady enough to embrace the gust that follows.  I am certain that life comes with more challenges than it does opportunity to feel the moments of happiness.  At least, that’s my life, as I know it.

When others get involved, and despite what I feel, how I try to continue to do all the right things, that’s when it gets tricky.  Not only do I offend those I am trying to assist, impart knowledge, help out, etc., but I seem to do more harm than good.

Someone told me today that they listen to what God asks of them instead of what they think they should do. As if God himself hit me with a golden two by four (BY THE WAY that hurts!) I got my ah-ha moment.

Just food for thought, because the LAST thing I want to do today is try  to impart or put my own control crap on to you, I’d like to add: Maybe when you think to yourself, “I should say something.” or “I should do something.” Pause.  These moments when I pay that word, ‘pause’ is so important. It can save you in incredible ways!!!

Think about your immediate reaction. Then think to yourself, “Is my response going to hurt me or the person I am conversing with?” Then respond. You might be very surprised what comes out of your mouth.  Friends and family, well? They’re a gift. Remember that as you proceed.

G’night my friends.  May the world keep your perspective on the great things that surround you, and may that perspective help you to identify the lies for someone else, and may that connection bring you both great joy and friendship.

Inspiration

Making My Life Matter – 2015

I watch my sisters and my brothers go through some of the most difficult things in their lives. Mostly health issues that threaten their existence on earth. I wonder often, what I would do if by some chance tomorrow altered my reality? If I found myself in their shoes, walking their mile, at the end of my own life. Would I be angry? Would I be fearful? How come I do not ponder these questions as they open up to me? How can I listen better? Let them know they’re heard? That thought, that simple concept, makes me pause.

In the moments that come next, is the swell of pride, regret, joy, fears, and moments that make up what I call my life. Do I feel a sense of being alive? Did my life involve emotions that left every nerve open to new experiences? That’s what I set out to accomplish in my life. Cash nor security, no endeavoring to fit in, never enter into my equation. So did I accomplish what I set out to do, when I was such a young girl? The moments I can without hesitation say that this is true, is the moments I have felt the most joy in my life. Joy that comes from the depths of my soul knowing that I am doing exactly what I should be doing. Even if it comes with a little consequence.

I am a woman of introspection. I constantly self check to see if I am actually treating this wonderful existence given to me as the treasure it is, or if my doubts and fears about mankind in general taints my opinions or thoughts? So, I therefore ask myself if the things that bring me joy can combine with the audacity that it has always been part of my personality. The very same emotion that begs me to ask the question, “has any of the intense life I have created for myself impacted anyone else in a positive or profound way?” The answer scares me.

I believe in hope. In goodness. That common sense will eventually win in the end. That people are basically good although all of us possess some form of darkness that varies in degree. I believe in joy and not happenstance because that is merely moments of happiness. I believe in ever ending unconditional love. I care about emotions and passion, all of them that make us all who we are, down deep to our souls.

Having lived half a century I can tell you that without out a doubt I often feel invisible. As though my life, has only been an illusion. My thoughts and wishes do not matter. None of them will be taken into account and certainly if so, not for very long. The albums that store the thousands of photos I have chronologically placed in memoriam will not be shared, are not wanted? They’re my memories, and no one will share their importance, but me.

In furthering my ego, I often wonder if all the advice I’ve given my children landed on open ears. I would like to know if the love I provided my husband was enough to sustain him for his whole life? I would like for the books that I write to help women who are struggling come into confident valued people? I’d like for those writings to help the understanding of how to let the light in and let that remarkable action extinguish the dark. I would like for women to know they’re not alone. They’re not judged. We are all the same. Doesn’t matter what skin color or gender or race we come from we are all human beings putting on this earth to strive to something better than ourselves.

If today is the last day of my life, what profound impact could I have with some last words to my children? Would those last words matter? To my husband I would confess that I have been selfish. That sometimes my words are self centered and unfocused on love. I would ask him to forgive me for the moments when I wanted to give up on us. Moments when my respect didn’t come when it was warranted. I would tell him that the years that I share with him, are the best moments of my life. I want more of that, for all time. I would like to know him into eternity. I treasure the cards, the songs, the dancing, the meeting people, the sharing, the caring and all the things that have made us so happy all these years. When I look back, I can recall all the good and nearly none of the bad. That to me, is a successful relationship. Now, more than ever that desire to be with him, still resides deeply in my soul. It always will.

For my children, I have wanted them to be “happy productive members of society” but what I have learned is that is not a wide enough wish. I want their journey to be one of legends. I want for each the pain that comes from trying, the happiness that comes from unconditional love, the desire to try their hardest at whatever they choose to do, respect for each other and an abundance of friends who share their common interests. Ultimately forgiveness because that will be the one thing to keep their souls clear of the darkness that consumes the joys in our lives.

To my friends to know that the moments we’ve shared are real to me. That I sincerely feel blessed to know them. I am sincerely honored they call me friends. I’ve hurt so many people in my lifetime, because of my selfish desires, vanity, ego, etc.—that I cannot undo those things. I have lived with the regret of my part in all of that injustice to someone and forgiven all those who have unjustly accused me. So the end result is that I treasure all friendships close, far and wide. They’re gifts I take seriously. Every moment in that friendship means something to me, and as a collective accumulation of memories I could myself shocked, humbled, and ultimately thankful.

To the people I meet who I have tried to impart my knowledge, my experience, or my thoughts. Pay attention or don’t. This is your life not mine. Live it the way you see fit. I’m sorry I thought for one moment that what I have to say is any more powerful that anything you want to tell me. I should have listened more, and spoke less.

To the family that continues to love me despite my intolerance, impatience, or my apathetic approach to things I cannot understand. It’s my issue not yours. I have struggled with a path that God will see is just, fair and for Him. I continue that path. I continue to want to help. I wish for one moment that the family that I knew would see the woman I have become instead of the child they knew so long ago, for I am positive that if they did, they would know, understand that we could be close. The misunderstandings of yesterday would seem trivial, because each of us have our perspective of the rights and wrongs that we’ve felt. Everyone is at best, trying just to be heard, and I have been no different.

To the people I’ve counseled, supported, engaged with, lifted up, helped, fed, reached out to, etc.—Thank you for teaching me the gift of thankfulness, gratefulness and ultimate sacrifice. Without you, I would know the blessings I have been shown, and who to thank for it.

To my parents, who have set me on the course for my whole life. Without a doubt, you are who I have become. Regardless of my intent, what you were and how all of that was to me, is deeply engaged in all of who I have become. I value the lessons, I value the moments of great joy. I value you. Unconditionally, for I cannot do so without the expressed understanding that I have so many faults, erroneous decisions, moments of uncertainty or downright hateful actions of my own. I cannot throw that first stone. My love for you is abundantly unconditional.

In a few years post my death, no one will bother to visit, think of me, long for my existence. But I will know that while I was here, for the moments all that time is, that impacted others while I navigated through the space I was born into. That has to be enough for me. While in the millions of years the earth’s existence will continue, my life will mean nothing. I am merely an illusion, but for a small moment in time, for however short or long that is, my life mattered to someone. That gives me some peace.

Don’t take today for granted. Live it out loud, with joy. Leave the judgment at home, say hello to a homeless man, reach out to a family in need, pat an old friend on the back, and tell that someone who connects to your own soul how very much they matter to you. Talk to them. Tell them. Verbalize, because every one of us will meet each other in front of the pearly gates some day. We’re all on the same path to death, but there’s no promise that neither you nor I have tomorrow. May you truly comprehend the volume of that responsibility.

Inspiration, Uncategorized

Being Kind Should Be Easy

Today I told someone I am about as transparent as I can be. I thought I was!

I tell people about my life-my circumstances-my choices all the time. What was pointed out to me, was that it seemed, “unbelievable.”  The person to whom I was vocalizing my past in an almost chronological newsworthy kind of way, revealed that to them my words seemed shallow.  As I listened further, I learned that she felt I was lying due to the limited emotional attachment to some pretty heavy circumstances. I thought, You know what? She may be right?

I am a survivor. That is undeniable. I lived through a ton of crap, all to become this tough passionatly tenacious cookie everyone sees.  Whatever happened to the girl inside? What happened the young woman that actually felt all that pain? Had I learned so well to forgive, that I no longer have emotional attachment to the pain? Or have I just entered a PTSD scenario, where I push all my feeling inward? That’s my modus operandi, so when she informed me of her perceptions I had to pause. I asked myself one seriously mind-boggling question. Am I still able to feel after all this time? After all that’s happened? Can I allow myself to let the pain in?

My internal dialog seemed to continue without my permission in an almost audacious fashion. I wondered, Do I allow others to see me feel pain? When was the last time I could remember feeling emotions of empathy or sorrow? The outer shell that I strategically placed around my feelings all those years ago cracked, and for one moment insecurity swept through me, just as if I had full-body entered a cool-pool of water. My brain betrayed me.

I spent the afternoon postulating that I had opened some form of flood gate.  My emotions all over the place reeked havoc. I decided the only place I was safe from altering my perspective was solitude. I went home. Retreated. Left in a massive hurry to collect my thoughts. To do something to get my rejection compartmentalized, and then it hit me.  I am doing exactly what I feared. I suppressed the pain of rejection so that I can move forward. She was right. I had no feeling in my story when I spoke to her. It was if it happened to someone else the way I told it.  Who wouldn’t feel like I was lying?

Survivors deal with things in a whole different way than people who have never had darkness in their life.  People who have life challenges like separating parents, or divorce, or financial difficulties, have tough circumstances they have to go through. I don’t want to make light of that pain. What I have learned is it’s a whole different thing to be a victim of something you didn’t do, and couldn’t control. It changes everything. It’s altering, to some life shattering, and at best burdensome to endure. Add several life circumstances back to back and you should have one blazing nut job!  (I may seem a little nutty but I assure you I am sane.)

If I am as transparent as I tout, shouldn’t I be willing to put some humanness in my story? Shouldn’t that include a touch of sentiment? Inflection in my voice? Some sense of burden I carry? So that maybe when anyone should hear of my successes, they will comprehend the great courage that it took to get there? If you were listening would it matter to you?

I sit here this evening compartmentalizing all that I have felt today so that I can make sense of the things that I recall. I have to go through forgiveness drills so that I can wake in the morning with a new perspective to touch another with hope. I really pray that my message is heard. That message being that there is someone who was strong enough to overcome much of the same circumstances causing them pain. There is someone who believes that if you want to change who you are, to become who you think you should be, you can.  Life can be filled with joy!

If I can share this with you, I hope that when you see someone who seemingly has no emotion, who is just as rigid in stance or maybe composed as I was earlier, you will know that there is a flood of something going on down deep. There is a story there. Everyone has an untold story. Everyone is a real person with real feelings, who has triggers that will set them off.  Everyone has a sense of being uncomfortable in a very unforgiving world.  Show love. Show compassion.

I put my ego back in check. I chalked the experience up to a lesson learned. Each one of us is different in how we process our pain. I will inject some kind of personal emotion when I tell my stories now. I have to. I want to include others when I engage in conversation. I want people to know I am sincere when I type what has happened. I want to connect on a personal level.

The last thing I want someone to feel about me is that I am attempting to remain shallow. So while her rejection prompted a childlike reflex, and subsequent retraction from people, I am glad that she spoke to me with truth. I am not afraid of introspection. It’s part of my growth process, and I hope and pray that you too find it part of your growth too. We cannot change what we need to without knowing what it is that we need to change.

Inspiration

By The Grace of God

This past week stories rocked the trending world.  One of my Facebook friends suggested that the reason that Nepal had such a catastrophic earthquake is because a few random ignorant people killed a man in public.  My Facebook friend believes that God is punishing the entire region of Nepal in retribution for this act.  I read the post and I hung my head.  The God that man knows is not the loving God that I know. I know the man who saved lives. Who held those accountable without hurting innocent people to do it.  I wasn’t angry, I was saddened.  Moreover, I was heartbroken that he does know the loving God I do.

With that said, I wonder if the woman who violently and in a fit of fearful rage slapped and shouted many an explicative at her young son would have done so if Jesus was standing directly behind her. Further if you saw Jesus would you put that woman’s actions on a pedestal for her rage? Or would you define the fact that maybe he feels justified to act that way is because he was taught that in response to pain or fear; physical violence is the answer?  Would you claim that should be “Mother of the Year?” Or would you rather just say she was a woman who lost her temper in the moment and handled a situation wrong? What will it take for you, and me to stop reacting to the outrage of what those boys were doing so that we may see the young man was hurting. He felt his people were being brutally mistreated.  The mother, although violent and raged filled was in fear for his life.  Were either wrong or right? Certainly not. Nor should either be hailed as anything but a moment of two wrongs not making a right.

My opinion opposes that of the masses.  I suppose I am looking at this from love. A mother’s love and a concern for mother’s everywhere who may feel it’s appropriate to act this way when they fear.  It only takes one moment of acceptance to alter the way a society thinks.

The floods in Kenya, the shootings throughout my city and yours. Killing our officers who are sworn to protect us. Making all men pay for the audacity of few? When did that become acceptable?

I hear your cry for injustice. I hear the screams from the pain of suppression. I see the tears that fall because your loved ones are harmed at the hands of the ignorant. I listen with shock and awe as you speak of the unimaginable treatment you had to endure. I walk next to you and I too am rejected. I hear you, man. I am listening. We are all listening… Some of us are committed to action. Keep going… have hope… your day of resolution is upon us.

For the rest of us, let’s stay calm. Let’s discuss options. Let’s view this from love, not rage, nor condemnation of our unjust intolerance.  Let’s all simmer a bit in the magic of grace and hug one another. Let’s spread some love and not rage. Let’s help these boys and girls who riot understand violence, by the few or by the protesters is still violence.  That won’t end the problem. Let’s all work to an end that will.