Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Symmetry and Focus

For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.  -Lewis Carrol

I believe that there is balance in the universe.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Awake, asleep.  I believe that if something bad happens to us, then something good will eventually follow.  A simple, yet complex system, set in place to help revive our confidence in life.

I found this fallen bed of bougainvillea leaves blanketing the ground in a corner of our front yard.  Nestled quietly amongst the vibrant castaways, was a single soft yellow petal which had fallen off of a nearby rosebush.  At first, I didn't notice the lone rose petal because I was overwhelmed by the mass of bougainvillea leaves that had settled in such a concentrated way.  The shear volume and color of the leaves demanded my immediate attention and I could focus on nothing else.  After a few moments, I noticed that there was more to see, and my eyes settled on the lone rose petal.  A subtle diversion from the immediately obvious.

I thought about all of the events which had occurred in my life during the past several months.  I reminded myself that if I chose to focus only on the overwhelmingly demanding situations which had taken place, without giving myself the gift of looking somewhere else every once in a while, that I would miss out on the balance in my life.  Sometimes balance means searching for the glimmer.  The single whisper of a reminder that let's us know there is still harmony in our lives.

Very few things are really impossible.  We can survive the worst, knowing that the best is always yet to come.  Sometimes, when our lives seem out of sorts, we must search for the good within the difficult so that we can keep the scales from dipping too far down into the negative.

Wherever you are in your life right now, and whatever you are going through, my wish for you is that you are still able to take notice of the good that exists.  Balance is what keeps us from diving too deeply into the sad, or bad, or impossibly overwhelming times in our lives.  My prayer is that you will be able to find the light among the dark, the smile beyond the tears and the possible within the seemingly impossible.  Namaste.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Defying Gravity

Our oldest angel is finished with school and is home for the summer.  Being home for the summer is not what it used to be, as she is an independent young adult now who has a life which is separate yet still intermingled with ours.  I love having her at home.  We all love having her at home.  I realize that her days in the nest will soon be numbered since she is now entering her senior year in college, but there is something about having all of my angels ensconced safely underneath the same roof that allows me to sleep more peacefully at night.  I think that most Moms feel that way.

Several years ago, Angel Daughter Number One introduced our family to the musical, Wicked. If you are not familiar with the story, it is based on the 1995 novel that tells the story of, "The Wizard of Oz", from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective.  The Wizard of Oz, which was first published over a century ago did not divulge much of the Witch's past nor did it go into her relationship with Galinda the Good Witch.  Wicked gave the reader great insight into how and why the Wicked Witch of the West turned out the way that she did. (She was not really wicked at all, but in some ways the attributes which others labeled her with made her appear to be someone she wasn't.)   When Wicked was made into a musical it took Broadway by storm, and the story of Elphaba(The Wicked Witch of the West) finally had it's day.  The musical is wonderful.  It is funny, touching, and for some reason, I can totally relate to the story of Elphaba.  As a matter of fact, I believe that there are many individuals who would relate strongly to her story.  My first experience seeing Wicked was on Broadway in NYC.  We loved it so much that we ended up seeing it a second time when it came to Los Angeles.  I could sit through it a dozen times and never get bored.  I could be Elphaba if my skin-tone was just a little bit greener in color.
Tonight, AD1 is going to see Wicked with her boyfriend The Cheesemiester, her lovely roommate Tessa, and Tessa's boyfriend.  While she was beautifying herself for the evening, I decided to harass her by following her around with the camera for a bit.  After all, it isn't often that I get to do that anymore! (Besides, if she is ever going to be a famous actor, she needs to get used to the paparazzi now!)  It was fun watching her primp and fluff for her big evening in Los Angeles, and as I watched her go through her routine, it reminded me of how far she has come in just twenty short years.  From my sweet, little angel baby to this beautiful young woman, I could almost visualize her at every single age she has been within the memory of my heart.  Bittersweet and absolutely inspiring, I soaked in every moment without getting too mushy.With her two youngest sisters working as her fashion consultants(AD2 was out looking at college housing for next fall or I am sure that she would have had something to add), she finished getting ready and honored me with one of her campiest, most theatrical poses.  When she finished her outfit with some four-inch heels, she stood a good ten inches above my head.  We all got a very good laugh out of that, and although my younger girls wanted me to take a photo next to her(I don't really mind that my short stature is a source of amusement for them.), I had to refuse as I never really ended up getting dressed today and so I didn't want to memorialize the moment.

As we kissed goodnight, and AD1 teetered out the door(heels will do that!), I made sure to etch the moment upon my heart.  It won't be long before AD1 uses her wings to begin "defying gravity".  After all, she has been test-flying them for the past several years and I think they are almost dry now.(Big sigh...)  Ever since she has gone off to college, I have been making sure to record as much of the teenage years, for all of my angels, as I did of the younger years.  I think we sometimes forget that growth and change is not something which only occurs when our children are little and still losing teeth.  There is a lot that can be cherished between the twelve year old molars and the Wisdom teeth extractions; if we remember that our children's growth is something that will continue to happen even as their physical growth slows.  These four angels, this angel, will always be my little girls.  I will guard their history as only a dedicated mother can do, so that when they ask me someday what they were like at six months, six years, or sixteen years, I will have stories to pull from within the depths of my heart.  And they will know that they were(are, will always be)as important to me as the day they were born.

From the tips of their tiny, down feathers to the majestic lengths of their fully-formed wings.  They will know.

Monday, May 19, 2008

To Life

To be alive.  
To be able to express the feelings of love that we have for one another.  
To take a deep breath. 
To know, somehow, that there is something which is much larger than ourselves.  
To trust.  To feel.  To laugh.  
To observe another sunset.
To live with deep gratitude.
To share great sorrows, but know that there will always be more joy.
To embrace and share the Life Force which connects us all together.
To soar without knowing what might be ahead, but trusting, with all of your might, that the flight will take you where you are meant to go.
To life.

My wish for you is that your list includes an infinite amount of "to's".  It would be such an honor if you would share some of yours here.

With love and deep gratitude,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hold Onto Each Other Above Everything Else

I am making the changes which have plagued my family for generations past.  In many ways, I am a genetic mutation.  I am not referring to the fact that I am the only one in my family who cannot roll their tongue into a hot dog bun.(Watching me try has been a source of constant amusement for my children.)  I am also not referring to the fact that my second toe is longer than my first toe.(Okay, I suppose I didn't have to admit that, but I try to keep things real.)  What I am referring to is the fact that for as many generations as I can count back, there has always, and I mean always, been some sort of ridiculous family rift which has kept people who love each other from remaining in each other's lives.  This is something that has occurred on both my maternal and paternal sides of the family, so I would say that it is pretty strongly embedded within the genetics.  But, alas, I am a genetic mutation and my genetic make-up says that the stupidity stops here.  

Being a realist, I understand that I will not be able to prevent my angels from making spontaneous decisions.  They will face moments of anger and misunderstanding, but during those times I would also hope that they will think back to what I have taught them about family unity.  Being an optimist, I would also hope that some of what I have strived to teach them about love and connection will stick, and that they will overcome any disagreements that they have, quickly and fairly.  My prayer is that they will always find love to be stronger than anger.
We spent our first weekend at the beach, appreciating and loving on one another.  As my girls get older, I find that I have more time to take a step back to observe them within their own dynamics, separate from mine and my husbands.  They are becoming strong, independent women.  Each one of them has a spirit which shines brightly on it's own.
They are unique, self-starting, creative and loving.  They are four parts but together, they make a whole.
I thank God every day, that I found this guy to be my husband and to make my children with.  Together, we have created a family that emphasizes loyalty, unity and above all else, love.  Our genetic puzzles created children that are well-versed in what it means to hold onto each other above everything else.

And for these reasons, I am astoundingly proud to admit that I am a genetic mutation.  A mutation which I pray will carry forth for generations to come.  A mutation that will forgive and forget the stupidity of those who came before.  A mutation that will promote the strength of love above the need to be right.

This is my prayer, not only for my family, but for yours, as well.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Savoring What is Good

I wanted to save this moment in time.  I wanted to hold onto it for a while as I savored the sweetness of its fleeting preciousness.  I wanted to indulge myself in the great feelings that come with observing someone you love as they practice something which they feel great passion for.  I wanted to isolate the present.

Over the years, I have watched many a Shakespeare play in which my Angel Daughter Number One has acted.  Shakespearean theater is very difficult to perform and is even more difficult to understand.  It takes a certain kind of actor to be able to pull it off, yet my daughter does so with talent and grace.  At the beginning of this school year, AD1 auditioned for something known as Guerilla Shakespeare.  I had no idea what the concept behind this was until she explained it to me.  At first, I had visions of people running around in gorilla costumes reciting Shakespeare.  Obviously I was incorrect.(Silly Mommy!)  Guerilla Shakespeare, from what I now understand, is a troupe of actors who go out into public places and perform Shakespeare.  No sets, no costumes, few props.  The actors perform, usually outdoors, and the audience follows them around for the length of the play.  My daughter told me that this form of theater is more common in London.  It is quite challenging for reasons which you can imagine, and so it was a very good experience for my daughter and the other actors who participated.  

The play that was being performed was, A Midsummer Night's Dream.  AD1 played the part of Helena, a beautiful woman who is shunned by the man whom she is attracted to.  He is so cruel and dismissive of her that she loses her self-confidence.
In this photo, Helena is professing her love for Demetrius.  Although the audience cannot be seen from this photo, there were approximately sixty people in attendance.  After snapping this photo, I refrained from taking too many more because I wanted to be able to fully enjoy the play.  It was fun to observe the reactions of people who just happened to be walking by and then found themselves in the middle of a play!  AD1 did a fantastic job with her part.  I am always amazed by her ability to convey the personality of whatever character she is portraying.  The bug of acting bit her at a very young and it has remained with her ever since.   
After the show, we spent some time chatting with AD1.  She was pretty exhausted because she has finals coming up, so we didn't stay for too long.  Thank goodness, there is always time to pose for a photo!  Here are my four angels and AD1 and AD2's boyfriends.  You might recognize The Cheesemeister from some of my previous posts.  AD2's boyfriend, J, is standing next to her on the right.  They have been dating since she was a freshman.  I have watched them grow up together.(and he knows that I have no problem keeping him in line!)

The more that we experience life, the more we realize how important it is to savor the happy times that we get to share with each other.  I have been blessed in so many ways.  I can accept that this is a time in my life when I will sometimes be forced to smile through my tears.  I am learning to love a little bit more than I did the day before, and to savor things that may have quickly gotten by me in the past.  I am learning to slow down and to feel my emotions as they arise.  Savoring what is good means holding onto the sweetness of life for as long as we can.

May you allow yourself the chance to savor all that is right and good in your life.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Until We Meet Again

Why does the mind often bring up things which we do not particularly want to think about?  For instance, why must I put up with having a dream about my mother in which she is chasing me around trying to get me to give her a hug.  In the dream, I keep telling her, "No, it's too late now.", but she persists.  She persists until I wake myself up, obsessively replaying the dream in my mind trying to make sense of it.  After all, she is the one who has caused this rift and I am the one who must live within the ruins of the aftermath.  Yet if I were approached in a loving way, by any one of my now estranged extended family members, my heart would surely open up and I would forgive.  I would forgive because that is what I do.  I would forgive because I am not the one who wanted any of this strife to begin with.  I would forgive because this is so stupid.  I would forgive because I love.
Just in case you have not figured it out by now the angelic little face in these photos is my little brother.  When he passed away suddenly, eleven weeks ago, his death threw our little family into an immediate cyclone.  It has not gotten any better, which is something that I am very, very sorry to say.  I come from a family of right-fighters.  They enjoy the battle, even when there should not be one.  I hate to admit that as much as I loved my brother, he was of the same mold.  Probably the major reason he became an attorney.  I am the aberration.  I have always been the one who seeks peace.  There is something in my soul which seeks out gentleness.  I guess there has to be a "black sheep" in every family.
Today was a pretty bad day for me on the grief front.  And the more I think about it, the more I realize that it directly relates to the dream which haunted me in my sleep.  I don't think we realize how much dreams can affect how our days go, but there is something about the good old subconscious.  Whether we realize it or not, our dreams can affect our waking hours in ways that we do not even fully recognize.
I miss my brother.  My heart is broken in places which will most likely never mend.  We were supposed to grow old together, laughing and picking on each other and sharing little secrets which only people who have grown up together would understand.  He was not supposed to leave me at the young age of 41.  41, a number that will stick inside of my brain for the rest of my life.

Some days are better than others.  A few have been okay but many are still unbearably painful.  I have a great life.  A storybook life with an incredible husband and beautiful daughters.  A unique and supportive family which we worked very hard to create.  But I am sad, and I suspect that I will feel sad underneath all of the happy, for a very long time to come.  Life is like that, isn't it?

I am praying for better dreams tonight.  Dreams in which my brother is alive and whole.  Dreams in which he does not have to return to wherever he is, right now, and say good-bye to me once again...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fallen Rose Petals

I do not often write about my illness, as I am usually trying to distract myself from experiencing the constant pain that my body is forced to combat each day.  It is a daily battle for me.  I try to view it as something from which I am supposed to be learning.  Only there are truly days when I just want to cut school!

During the past several years, I have learned to live life at a much slower pace.  I was one of those Moms who was always running her children around from here to there.  I volunteered as a Room Mom in all of their classrooms and organized activities along with their teachers.  I went on every field trip, attended every assembly and assisted their teachers in any way that I could, usually with a baby or two on my hip.  I was the consummate Super Mom.  There was no stopping me from saying "Yes" to everything that I was asked to do.  

After all of my angels were in school, I felt "called" to our local hospital to volunteer as a Spiritual Care Counselor.  I was able to put my Psychology degree to work in a setting which allowed me the freedom to tend to people on not only an emotional level, but on a soul level, as well.  I felt like I was in the right place at the right time.  I suppose that is why I felt that my work at the hospital was a "calling" and not just another way to be of service.  Motherhood was my first calling and the direction that spiritual care was taking me in felt like a natural extension of that.

When I became ill, I had to learn to say no rather quickly.  I had to say no so that I could say yes to doctor's appointments, blood-work, having a core-biopsy taken from the bone-marrow inside of my hip and having MRI's which told the story of a sadly congenitally damaged spine.  Fused vertebrae, scoliosis, cervical stenosis, and a couple of herniated discs.  The main support system of my body was crumbling right before my eyes.  The fibromyalgia only aggravated my spinal conditions to the point that my entire body throbbed with pain.  I had to make some very quick and drastic changes.  I had to learn to say yes to myself.

Fibromyalgia can drain the life-force out of you.  It is debilitating in the way that only someone who lives with a chronic illness can understand.  If you do not listen to the "voice" of your illness, it will manage to get your attention in another way.  If you have never heard your body scream, you are a very lucky person.

So why the pictures of beautiful roses on a post where I am discussing the severity of my illness?  
Because I am learning from and listening to my body.  I am not always perfect at it and there are days when I rebel and try to pretend that I can do more than I really should, but for the most part, the pace of my life has slowed down.  I am learning, day by day, to stop and smell the roses.

Grammie Hoffman asked me if I would have been a working Mom had I not gotten ill with Fibromyalgia.  The answer to that question is an absolute no.  When Mark and I decided to become parents, we also decided that I would stay home with them.  There was never a question in my mind about being at home with my children.  I viewed them as my full-time job.  Mark, being the fully devoted husband and father that he is, worked his butt off so that I would be able to work my butt off raising our children.  We created a little cocoon of six in which our children could be nurtured and loved.  My only plans for when our girls got older and were all in school, were to utilize my time volunteering and starting a philanthropic foundation.  If I had not become ill, I still would have remained a professional Momma until all of my angels were out of the nest.  Fortunately, the one thing that my illness can never take away from me is my job at being a mom.  Mark and I have now arranged it so that he takes care of most of the physical stuff(ie. driving, going to all of their competitions, etc.), and I take care of the emotional and spiritual stuff.(ie. PMS, boyfriend problems, "Mom, I have nothing to wear!", etc.)
So, back to the roses and slowing down.  Having been a stay-at-home Mom for all of these years, my illness struck at a time when I was able to slow down.  My girls were all in school, so I was able to get them up in the morning, do all of the mommy things with them, and then come home and collapse until they needed to be picked up.  Over time, Mark arranged his schedule so that he could take over the mornings.  I don't really sleep at night.  I also have Restless Leg Syndrome which is very disruptive to my sleep.  Mark understood that having to get up early in the morning to get the girls ready for school and then having to drive to either two or three schools to drop them off, was not a very good thing for my health.  He jumped right in and picked up all of the slack which my illness created.  His generosity of spirit enables me to get all of the rest that I need while knowing that my girls are being well taken care of in the mornings.  He is such an amazing husband and father.  Without him as my life partner, I honestly do not know what I would have done.  He has given me the space I need to create a life that is both manageable and productive.
And so, although the petals must eventually fall from the roses, there is still absolute beauty which is inherent in each rose.  The same is true of people.  Eventually, the body begins to age and things do not work as well as they used to, but there is still absolute loveliness in the essence of each individual which will never fade.

I am learning not only to stop and smell the roses, but to examine their thorns and blemishes and to find the beauty in those, as well.

My blessing for you is that you are able to find some time, a moment in your day, to slow down and take it all in.  Smell the roses, but observe the beauty in their fallen petals.  Cherish not only the perfect, but the imperfect.  May you slow down enough to appreciate who you are now, and say thank you for all that you are still capable of.
Related Posts with Thumbnails