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little posy

Finding my way through life, stopping to smell the posies along the way.

Muddy Suffering

I have come to strongly believe there is purpose in suffering.  If it was something easy such as losing weight, exercising, learning a musical instrument or foreign language, everyone would be so well versed. We like easy.  Easy is comfortable.  Easy has no requirements.  Easy has no movement, no progress, no development.  Observing the end of my father’s life, I had such a strong awareness that there was a purpose to his suffering and what we were about to experience in our loss.

I sat at the foot of my father’s bed as he slept.  It was his last night in the hospital.  My brother had traveled home and my mom went back to the house.  I stayed behind to talk with the night nurses about his medications.  As I sat in the chair, trying to entertain other thoughts than the obvious, I was still acutely aware that I was watching him die, and realized this is how people lose their faith.   I texted the sentiment to a friend.  At this point, my father was resting peacefully, even though I noticed his breathing was very audible and labored.  Although I knew, I didn’t know.  I had no idea of what was truly to come.  The next day he came home and later into the early hours of my 15th wedding anniversary passed away.

Was it an easy passing?  The answer depends on who you ask.  It was labored, but very quick.  My short time professionally practicing in long term care taught me that this process can drag on for days, and even weeks.  My father and family are blessed that his passing was hours long.  Did he suffer?   I’m sure he did, despite our best efforts to keep him comfortable.  I felt an overwhelming sense of relief the moment, the very moment he was no longer with us.  His pain was forever over.  I somehow was able to equate it with Christ’s passing on the cross.  “It is finished,” echoed through every fiber of my being.

Suffering has many ugly faces.  It can look like exclusion, pressures from internal or external forces, loss of a loved one, addiction, the absences of basic needs, struggling relationships, goal achievement, the list is long.  The reward becomes growth.  Likewise, growth has many faces.  My growth is finding the purpose and meaning.   is the necessary fuel your growth when you are trapped in the quick sand that is the “mud?”  I cannot pretend to know the pain of losing a child, the throws of addiction, or the pains of abuse.  It’s all pain, and each of us will know one or more forms.  What I do realize is there IS a purpose.

Is it because Christ suffered, that we must, too?  I do not know.  I believe that everyone one of us in life or death will suffer.  We cannot escape it.  My mother’s priest who presided over the funeral spoke briefly of the role of suffering.  The remainder of the service, we prayed for my father’s soul.  There was a purpose in every action.  This soothed my soul.  I had no tolerance for false reassurance.  Father Joseph spoke of suffering, it’s purpose, and the reward comes afterward.  The ultimate reward being eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven. I don’t necessarily believe God wants tragedy, but I do believe that he never allows it to be in vain.  I accept that it is beyond our comprehension to understand the inner workings of God.

I accept the suffering and its challenges because I have faith that whatever is on the other side of the pain will be worthwhile and more fruitful than I ever imagined.  My personal evolution confirms this to be true.  I would never have expected to be writing, or have begun to discover my authentic self without living through the pain and adversity of the past two years of grief, depression, anxiety, and health issues.  My gratitude and acceptance are just a few pieces that I’ve found in the aftermath of my suffering.  The rewards are not accidents in vain, but meaningful blessings.  Yes, it’s dirty and muddy that suffering, but it has a way of growing the most unexpected, beautiful little posies.

Wishes in the Wind

Wishes in the wind

Make me believe

Delicate and free

Seed of hope into the unknown

A destination of roots to sow

Wishes in the wind

Much to be seen

Miles to go

Fly away simple beauty

Carry my dream

The Fall Out

There are those times that change you.  Good and bad, that alter your being in a way that you are since and forever different than who you were prior.  Some moments are slight and others are earth shattering.  Equally so is the fall out, the period in which all of the effects of the cause are facing you, demanding your attention.  It’s the cleaning and repairing the storm’s devastation.  It can be the planning of the next step, or the hope of a new life as it gazes before you in your arms.  It’s the now what phase.  Barely mentioned is the actual event, let alone is the fall out.  As unprepared as I was for the event, the fall out holds a relative disorient.

I can’t go back.  I want to go back.  I can’t trade it. I don’t want to trade it.  It’s now a part of me, or I’m a part of it.  Pieces of me have remained, with some pieces now clearer.  There are those pieces that are damaged, and then there those pieces that are simply missing.  Some have grown, and some have disintegrated.  I’ve learned and grown.  I’ve also regressed, feeling that I’m starting over from scratch.

The fall out becomes the lost friends, a clearer and yet foggier, more confusing perspective all resulting in a new self.  You find yourself rediscovering yourself.  It’s an odd process.  It’s you, you know you.  You know what you like and don’t and need, right?  Only you don’t.  Now you discover that some things are no longer acceptable.  You find an intolerance to certain situations or people.  New sensitivities, interests, boundaries, and strengths grow from this intense process of self-identification.   Or maybe, you find a need to examine what serves you.  It’s a time of transition which Bekah Jane Pogue describes in her book, Choosing Real,

“When transition happens, it’s scattered with a gamut of emotions from one end of the spectrum to the other.  Starting is the exciting ideal, but it’s the journey through the middle where faith and identity are refined.”

This is where I currently find myself, transitioning from the event into the fall out.  It is here that I am finding the presence and purpose of life’s uncertainty.  Or at least, I’m working on it.  I am finding peace in the moment.  With nothing guaranteed, and yesterday in the past, I’m also learning the present moment is the sweet spot of life.  Even during the stress, I’m open to the lesson, hope, and growth that exists among the chaos.  I attempt to savor the delicious joy as it comes my way, not missing out because of preoccupations.  I’m making time to breathe in life, whatever its form.  I’m opening my heart to further explore my relationship with God, and allowing His presence to guide me; not the other way around as I’ve done previously.  I continue to recalibrate my filter to only focus on the truly important matters, not becoming overwhelmed with the unnecessary that occupies all too much of our daily lives.  I am giving myself rest, the place for all of this to be possible.

I know it may be a lifelong challenge, almost assuredly so.  Life will present multiple events, each one creating new, additional fall outs that will continue to alter my soul.  It’s up to me to find that space, that sweetness, or purpose to allow myself the benefit of true growth and strength.

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Magic

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I believe in magic.  Present and all around us, it is happening outside of our control without explanation.  Sometimes seen, other times only felt.  It is never contained.  It can not, nor will not, be rationalized or controlled.  It merely exists and survives.  A child’s wonder, laugh, or innocence, the rise and fall of the sun and moon, the love that is awakened and stirred between souls; all are nothing less than magic.

Despite the darkest moment, it persists.  Magic bubbles and surfaces to surprise us when we least expect it, reminding us of the beauty in life.  Moments that are slyly hidden, teaching us to search deeper to discover its treasure.  Transversely, there are those embolden moments that bring us to our knees, cause us to tremor with emotion, and demand our attention.  In our most desperate need, it saves.  Magic has a way all its own. We can only bear witness to its power.  So make a wish, hold on tight, and let the magic shine its light.

 

Lenten Goals

I find myself mentally prepared and ready for investment and renewal.  I’ve done my preparation and now I’m ready to put the realizations and lessons into practice. I haven’t been diligent in my self care lately.  I haven’t exercised as I should, and I’ve been careless with my diet.  My emotional and mental health have struggled.  Looking back, I recall that when this happens, it usually calls for rebalancing and grounding. Enter the season of Lent.

As a converted Catholic, I enjoy Lent. The schedule of extra masses and participation of Stations of the Cross can be undesirable as the weeks accumulate.  However, I find this time very productive in terms of growth, grounding, and spiritual connection.  It has a way of clearing out the mental and spiritual clutter that accumulates after the holidays.  It’s a time to come back to the New Year resolutions after the daily grind has worn them away. In past years I’ve given up tv, social media, and chocolate.  Other years I’ve added prayer and devotional time. Much like my resolutions, I don’t always fully achieve my Lenten goals, but I finish the season better than I started.

This year I’m choosing 6 goals. Yes, this is a very lofty list.  A few are common place, and a few are new, but necessary additions.  Hopefully after Lent has passed, I will have gained mental clarity, spiritual grounding, and a healthier body.  With my mind, body, and spirit renewed, I hope to find a more peaceful and balanced lifestyle.  I wish you a meaningful Lent.  Peace be with you throughout this Lenten season.

Busy American Days

Alarm, Snooze, Repeat x 3

I pull myself out of bed and into the shower.  At some point during the hottest shower I can endure, I feel the wake up.  My body and mind begin to wake up and the fog lifts momentarily.  I finish and get dressed.  Take one child to school.  Return home to hurry the next child and myself along.  Pack the lunch, maybe eat breakfast, and do hair and make-up.  Take the dog out and pour the coffee.  Coats, bags, and coffee on and in hand as we rush out the door.  If it’s like most mornings, we are behind schedule at this point.  Drop child off at school, and I’m on my way, praying not to get a speeding ticket or have an accident.

On my commute, I redirect my attention to the current events via NPR.  Oh, how I love NPR.  It’s my daily education.  If you follow my posts, you know how much I enjoy learning.  It’s almost meditative.  I’m able to disconnect from myself and thoughts and give my attention to what I would consider bigger, more important matters.  Then the sleepiness returns.  It’s about 8:20, and at 8:30 I arrive safely at work praising God and hailing Mary.  Seriously.

My anxiety and depression come to their first peak of the day.  With a full day ahead, I do not feel hopeful..  I feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities and highly under-equipped for success.  I attempt to decompress.  Deep breaths, check email, prepare lessons.  The morning is underway and I surrender to the day.  Once the bulk is over, I begin to feel better.  Lunch time not only provides refueling, but a rest, and a relief in knowing that I’m making it through.

Throughout the day there are instructional, behavioral, and professional challenges.  Some days it’s truly overwhelming.  The critiques and demands from administration combined with the challenges each student brings, weigh on me.  I feel pressure to be the expert, the all-knowing guru of my profession.  I’m to know what and how to offer the most effective treatment and cure.  Some days, I do.  Some days I don’t.  Sometimes, I’m able to remind myself that I don’t have a magic wand. Occasionally, I’m able to remind myself that every one, adult and child, bring their unique circumstances with them that are out of my control.  I can only offer my best which is the result of my training, clinical observation, intuition, and human kindness.

Alas, the lessons are done.  Some were effective, others would welcome improvement.  End of the day paperwork is completed.  I pack up and head home.  Once I’m home it’s time to rest, maybe nap, if I’m lucky.  This is not for the lack of other chores and responsibilities that are calling me.  It’s that I simply cannot go any further without collapsing.  By this point in the day I’m ravishingly hungry, or hangry AND tired, which is the absolute worst combination.  Over the next hour, I snack and rest.  Run down the homework needs and play with the dog.  Talk about multi-tasking, and this is my rest!  Husband returns home to an exhausted wife that is a mere shell of the young woman he married.  He is tired and frustrated with the day and life just as I am.  We exchange our pleasantries.  I listen to his daily recap only when he truly answers, “How was your day?”  Most days he opts to not relive it or burden me.  Kids are shuttled to and from their activities.  Dinner is somehow prepared or purchased.  Workouts may or may not have occurred.

At some point, everyone is fed, showered, and fall into bed.  Everyone except for me.  My anxiety and depression peak again.  This isn’t to say that I haven’t had existential thoughts throughout the day.  They just peak in the morning and at a night.  I’m convinced that I will be a sun downer when I’m elderly.  At night, when the house is quiet, the day surfaces and I begin to process it and everything else I’ve had to push away just to keep going, to survive.  Thoughts of running checklists and tallying the day’s events race through.  Judgements are placed.  Memories surface, some recent memories, and some are memories that float up from childhood that give me better self-understanding.  Fears arise.  The what ifs bubble up. Sometimes I can pop them.  Other times, they stick and linger a little too long.   Thoughts then turn to the tomorrow.  I escape through “Friends” on Netflix.  I know it’s silly and lame, but it’s my go to feel good escape.  Eventually, I peel myself off of the couch and go to bed.  I say my prayers, and sleep for about 6.5 all to wake up and begin again.

I know I’m not special.  I know I’m truly blessed.  But I get the feeling that there’s a high volume of folks traveling through life just as I am, and just like me they are very uncomfortable with this passive existence.  I am not worried about water, food, or shelter.  No one in my family is sick, and my relationships lack any abuse.  I’ve learned that is what truly matters.  For these gifts, I am incredibly thankful.  I am grateful that my existential ramblings and wonderings are the greatest of my concerns.  I know it could be much worse.  I am blessed, searching, but still blessed.  Sure, my job/career provides a multitude of conveniences and without them I would have a lot more valid concerns to express rather than, “What do I want my life to be?”  The mere choice is a blessing.

Our parents’ generation did the grunt work for us.  They put in the hours and formed the unions so we could have a better life.  Perhaps, this better life is not wealth, but enlightenment.  Not that I am wealthy, but my needs are met, and now the focus is on my wants.  We were taught that we’d be happy if we checked all the boxes:  got good grades, played nicely, went to college, got a degree or two, and then got a ‘good job.’ I don’t think our parents had any idea that happiness went beyond their main objective to feed, clothe, and house their families without struggle.  That was the goal, and certainly remains.  Repeatedly, my parents would tell me that they didn’t want us to struggle as they did.  This was a financial struggle.  We were taught that happiness comes from survival and financial stability, and that everything else would fall into place as a result.  What I’m now trying to understand is how to truly achieve fulfillment and what role my career plays.

What I do know is that this is not working for me.  My hope is that someday it will pay off.  I attempt to channel patience and gratitude.  Often, I shamefully fail.  Every ounce of me is crying for a change.   I crave more time with my loved ones, and not just more time, but quality time.  I want to be able to welcome them home every day with a smile and a hug.  I want to discuss the ins and outs of their day.  I want to make them feel important, because they are.  I want to create joyful experiences that produce life long memories.  I don’t want to be remembered for yelling about shoes left out or clothes in the bathroom.   I want day-to-day routines and traditions that teach my children what really matters.  I know that 90% of all the stuff in our days doesn’t really matter, but my children don’t.  I want the time to love and nourish them, not just to shuttle them from one thing to the next.  Right now, I feel that I’m teaching them how to hurry, how to rush through life without noticing its gifts all around us.  I’m teaching them not to take time for love and affection.  I find it terribly unfortunate that although it may not matter, it is necessary when you’re in the race.  Right now, I’m teaching them how to race.   Now I wonder, against what or whom, and how do we stop?

 

Post Election Writer’s Block on the Kitchen Floor

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Some people choose the bathroom floor. I choose the kitchen floor. It’s a middle earth of sorts. I can hear the activity in the living room, and hide in solitude all at the same time. This is often where I find myself reading, writing, or just sitting drinking. The kitchen really is the soul of the home.

This evening, I sit once again in post snow day bliss. On the kitchen floor, enjoying a late afternoon coffee, I think and try to process these exhausting few weeks since the election. Everyday I’m bombarded, yes by my choosing, with the news of the president’s actions and the controversies that follow. I’m deeply concerned as an American.  All the while, my personal life remains busy. Children, work, marriage, friendships, and my internal dialogue pull me in every imaginable direction. I attempt make sense of the weight, trying to sort through it all like my equally intimidating pile of laundry.

I sit quietly. Breathe. “Begin,” a voice whispers. Begin what? The new chapter of a book, my career, my life?  Too much, too big.  I think smaller. Begin where I am, with the word. All I have in this moment are the words flying through my mind. “Find the words that will spur action. Find the words that will excite and captivate,” my inner critic rages. The volume overwhelms me . It all feels too deep, like a surreal ocean with new, unimaginable creatures and characters within an alternate universe complete with its own set of “alternative facts.”

I sense that we are the fringe of a new time. How beneficial or detrimental has yet to be confirmed. As most beginnings, it is bewildering. Recognizing the vast capacity of its potential effects is a start. Ignorance has brought us here. Hopefully, intelligence and empathy will rescue us. I haven’t figured out the recipe to healing, or success. I don’t yet have a formed argument or the necessary corresponding solution. Likewise, there is no cure for my own purposes.  Only rambling, blurry thoughts and emotions circle around the center that holds the golden box of answers.

Today, I haven’t discovered the answers, or written a profound piece that will inspire generations. I present only my internal dialogue that may or may not have entertained the reader. This evening, in the safety of my kitchen, I reflect on it all. I sit watching the tie dyed colors of my personal micro vs macrocosm mix and mingle, entertaining me just enough to remain on the kitchen floor. Yet, with the simple act of discussion through writing, I find a morsel of peace.  I put the words down.  I wrote, no matter how poor or eloquent. The kitchen truly is the soul of the home that has fed mine.

 

*Photo credit: Little Posy featuring:  Present Over Perfect by Shauna Neiguist.

Inauguration Day 2017

Foreword:

I typically do not publicly express political opinion.  However, much like many others, I am feeling the weight of the current political climate.  Sitting in silence is not a productive solution, nor is merely spouting my opinion.  Therefore, I’m offering both my opinion and service.  In the near future I will be participating in my local political process by learning what I can peacefully offer and assist with at the local level.  I’m starting with my circle of control, starting small, but starting.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~Gandhi

Today my heart is heavy.  My mind is busy as I struggle to find the words to express all that swirling within.  Today history is in the making.  True, that can be said of every day, but today a new global leader takes the stage to represent our citizens and serve as living democracy.

I have disagreed with most of his public statements, his tone, lack of respect, and his incitement of fear and lies.  I have often listened to speeches and cringed at the sound of his inarticulate use of opinions as facts, and sweeping generalizations without substantiation.  Upon his election, I was deeply troubled, saddened, and ashamed of my fellow Americans.  How is it that we chose THIS man to lead us?  How is it that we chose this bully to represent us in the global community?  There are a multitude of things that I do not understand.  This is one of many.  I simply do not understand how the electorate found agreement with his messages.  I do not understand how the working class felt that this swindler, thieving, top 1% billionaire, racist will be the average middle class, lower class citizens’ martyr in our diverse nation of immigrants.  I remain baffled.

Election day came and went.  Everyone survived.  Mr. President Elect and President Obama met publicly and privately.  It was a peaceful, respectful meeting that gave me hope.  I hoped that it was all an act.  I had hoped that Mr. Trump’s campaign was a performance, and that if/when he took office, he would command honor.  After all, he is a showman and businessman at heart.  Was it all a ploy to gain votes, to tell his base what they wanted to hear?  He knows how to tap into mass psyche and sell.  He is indisputably successful in that regard.  Hopefully, if anything, that will be a strength and not a weapon.  Hopefully, it will continue to serve him well and our nation well in the next 4 years.

Despite my new-found hope and open mind, I was soon dismayed once again.  A presidency is more that the man in charge.  It’s an administration.  Mr. Trump began to choose his cabinet.  What?  Seriously?  These are who you have chosen to guide your decision making???  In my opinion, he chose individuals who are unqualified or misplaced by their expertise in their given position.  Why was Mr. Ben Carson appointed for Housing and not the Surgeon General?  He chose someone who previously disagreed with the sheer presence of the EPA, to now govern it.  And let’s not forget his choice for PUBLIC Education.  These selections are riddled with multiple conflicts of interest both in theory and in business ethics. Again, I dive deep to scrape some hope together.  I hold on tightly to the belief that we all want the same principles, but we differ on the ‘how’ best to achieve them. Perhaps, these individuals in top leadership offices will bring about positive reformation that will indeed benefit our nation and better our lives.  Perhaps, these individuals will think outside the box to reach logical compromises.  Perhaps, I am completely mistaken.  Perhaps…

As Mr. Trump peacefully takes his oath as President of the United States of America, it is with gratitude for the process, and wavering hope that I observe the day’s events.  It is my sincere, enduring hope for empathy, respect, and bi-partisanship to guide innovative progress and replace ignorance, fear, and greed.  I pray that my initial conclusions are wrong.  I pray my disappointment and disgust are inaccurate.   Although, Mr. Trump may not be my chosen president, he is OUR president.  May God guide him and our leaders to lead by His Holy example.  May God Bless America.

Realization & Reliance

Your heart doesn’t need a corrector or a rescuer –
it needs a companion. This is why you are here. To be for yourself what no one else was capable of being for you. Yearn to be nowhere else but wherever your heart seems to be; welcoming each concern, honoring every worry, consoling any pain,
and celebrating all inspirations, one meaningful moment at a time. This is the heart of realization.
– Matt Khan

I have found that there are times when there is no cure for sadness. No amount of chocolate, alcohol, sunshine, hugs, sleep, water, distraction, quiet, or anything else can take away the pain. It simply must be felt. There is no hiding from it, and that’s okay.  This is what it is. I can not control it. I can only feel, cry, rest, or breathe in order to honor my needs. Maybe I channel my energies into art or clearing my space. Maybe I walk or run. Maybe I just sit. Either, or all, is fine.

There may not be that one person to hold you and quiet your fears. The friend that you have relied on may have moved on and grown in their own way. I have found times when I need to be my person for myself. I need to sit with myself, give the comfort, space, and love that no one else can give.  Once again, I accept the pain is mine, no one else’s.

There are times that grief schedules a visit, when I feel that I need to brace myself and prepare. Sometimes when it all returns, it slithers in.  Other times it attacks unexpectedly. There is no shame, no judgment. It’s an energy all it’s own. I commit to honoring it and myself. Welcome self reliance.

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