Thursday, April 23, 2009

Little Miss Fierce

This past weekend, Mark, myself and our four Angel Daughters were here.  At the Wynn Hotel.  In Las Vegas, Nevada, a city I used to love, but which now just causes my brain to ache.  When our girls were little, Mark and I used to visit Las Vegas as a get-away.  I used to enjoy competing in Black-Jack tournaments and Mark, who does not gamble at all, would use the time to relax while catching up on business.  At night, we would go out to dinner and catch a show or spend time with our good friends who moved out to Nevada about ten years ago.  These days, a lot of national cheer and dance competitions are held in Las Vegas, which is what brought us out there this past weekend.
I love the way that my Angel Daughters support one another.  I think it is wonderful to have your own built-in cheering section that will always be there to strengthen your morale.  So, when we weren't relaxing in our room or visiting with our friends, we were at the convention center cheering Angel Daughter Number Four on!
Angel Daughter Number Four is the captain of her Hip-Hop team.  She is the little one who is front and center.  And although AD4 is small in stature:
She is a fierce little dancer!  When she hits the stage, you can almost see the adrenaline begin coursing throughout her veins as she takes on the personality of the music.
And although Hip-Hop is her style of choice right now, she can just as easily become a graceful ballerina with a simple song change.  Movement and dance live inside of her soul and I am so grateful that she follows the call.

We had a great time on our little family adventure.  We even got the opportunity to see Le Reve which is an amazing Cirque Du Soleil production.  It was truly one of my favorites.  Absolutely breathtaking.  If you ever get the chance to see any of The Cirque productions, you must.  The things that these individuals can do with their bodies is beyond almost anything you can imagine.  

Angel Daughter Number Four's team won first place out of seven teams!  Their performance was crisp, energetic and fabulous!  They had a great season winning first place, plus overall Grand Champions out of the entire competition in their last three competitions.  I am so proud of my girls.  When driven to do something that they love, they do so with all of their hearts.  To me, there is nothing like watching my daughters living a life that they love.  I want their lives to always feel full and purpose-driven.  I want to watch them as they continue to sprout new feathers on their wings and as they share their gifts with the world.  These are some of the things which fill my soul.  These are the moments when my own feathers feel the fullest.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

So many of us try to live up to an impossible standard which is neither realistic, nor ultimately achievable.  We spend our days striving to live up to something that is virtually impossible in so many senses of the word and in the process, many of us end up driving ourselves to the point of craziness.  As I was stopping to take in the beauty of our rose garden yesterday afternoon, I was struck by the idea that no matter how hard we try to find or achieve it, there is no such thing as perfection.  And as I sit here pondering the true meaning of the word "perfect", a certain sense of tension seeps into my muscles.  I must admit that a single word can bring on these uncomfortable sensations.  A single word, with seven little letters is able to bring on some very negative feelings in my body, and yet, I am not a perfectionist.  Or at least I don't think that I am.  Hence the title of my blog, Four Angels Momma (most days).  For you see, I am a realist.  I truly am.  Not in the "keeping it real" sense for which so many blogs are noted, but in the "I know that life is tough, but I choose to enjoy as much of it as possible" sense.   I may choose to view the world with a more positive spin, but the optimum word here is definitely "choose".   In the Four Angels Momma household, we have as many issues going on throughout any given day, as the next family does.  There are no perfect angels here, only real people living real lives while striving to evolve.  There are no roses without thorns.
I discussed this idea with my dad about a month ago, when he suddenly discovered my blog.   I knew something was up when he began referring to my daughters by number instead of name.  I played along for a while until one day, I decided to let him know that I was on to the fact that he was on to me.  He is a very smart man and there was never any reason for me to believe that he would not someday discover that his daughter(me) was writing a blog.  It was just that it didn't matter whether he or anyone else I know personally, found out that I was keeping a blog.  Mark and I sometimes refer friends and family members who live far away to my site as a way for them to check in when they want to.  Most of them do not bother but that is okay, too.  People's lives get very busy and sometimes they forget to think about those who are far away on a regular basis.  The loss is not ours.  But back to the idea of perfection and what that has to do with my father discovering my blog.
My father and I have a very open relationship when it comes to the truth, so when he found my blog, he asked me two things.  One-"Where did all of the "airy-fairy" angel stuff come from in my describing my life?" and two-"Why in the heck am I not writing?  No, really writing."  Through some nervous giggles, I tried to answer him as best I could.  I told him that I wasn't trying to be all "airy-fairy", but that I would never write anything about my family(on my blog) husband or my four daughters which would ever hurt, embarrass, or evade their privacy in a negative way.  They all know that I keep this blog and they also read it, so anything that I publish here is meant for all of us, plus my wonderful readers and friends.  My family is not perfect.  My daughters are not always angels.  They are normal, energetic, creative, transforming, active, growing, dependent, independent young women.  What I admitted to my father is that what I have written here over the past couple of years is not about perfection or trying to portray my life as perfect.  Anyone who has been reading here for a while or who has scrolled through some of my archives understands full well that I hold an honest and very raw perspective about life.  My perspective comes from the side of the glass which I choose to focus on.  The half-empty or the half-full side.  You see, I know that the glass can often be viewed as half-empty.  Much of my life has happened in an extended family which tends to focus on that very perspective.  But for some strange reason, call it genetic-defect, call it God, call it airy-fairy, I have mostly focused on the fullness of life, rather than the emptiness.  Nothing is ever perfect, but I have never, ever, ever seen a situation that could not be made better.  A rosebush that did not improve with a bit of fertilizer, sunlight and water.  An angel whose wings did not grow fuller and more beautiful with a bit of love, attention and support.
As for the second question that my dad asked me, as to why the heck I am not writing, the answer is still evolving.  Inside of the answer lies something to do with fear, insecurity and more worries about perfection.  Inside of the answer I can still hear the voices of non-supportive teachers, parents who were dealing with so many personal problems that they couldn't even see the gift that needed to be nurtured within their own daughter, and a quiet little girl who often did not feel worthy of being heard.
But as I grow, I allow my own inner-voice to speak out much more robustly.  I understand that it is not only okay to live on the positive side of life, but that I like it here and I don't want to live anywhere else.  I might not believe in perfection, but I damn well believe in goodness and transformation and striving to do more.  I believe in roses, even though I know there are thorns.  And I believe in angels even though I know there is gravity.

My dad is a tough man, but he is also an incredible cheerleader.  In so many ways, I am who I am because of him.  A realist who chooses to believe that we can all do great things.

Strive to do something great.  Not perfect, just fantastic.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flower Colored Rainbows/The Flower Fields of Carlsbad, California

Angel Daughter Number Four and I decided to take a little journey the other day, and ended up visiting The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California.  For a better part of the year, these nutrient-rich fields lay dormant, dusty and brown.  But if you are lucky enough to come upon them during the months of March through mid-May, you will find a fifty acre rainbow of gorgeous color.  This is the time of the year when the Giant Tecolote Ranunculous flowers open their huge blossoms in a spectacular display of beauty.  Even driving by the exit where these lovely flowers bloom is like coming into the Poppy fields of Oz.  It is an absolutely breathtaking sight.
Out of the millions of flowers that blossom in these fields, only 1-2%(about 3,000,000!) of the flowers are cut and shipped throughout the US and Canada in colorful bouquets.  The rest are left to shine for a short while, and then allowed to wither so that their bulbs can be harvested at a rate of approximately 200,000 per acre.  The bulbs are then packaged and shipped throughout the world!  In the photo above, you can see some of the workers who hand-pluck these beautiful flowers, stem by stem, from the plants.  The work is difficult and back-braking and is done mostly by Mexican migrant workers who truly appreciate their jobs.  When Angel Daughter Number Four and I were there, there were at least one hundred men bent over in the hot sun harvesting the flowers.  
The colors range anywhere from a vibrant ruby-red to a soft, pure white.  Each one is perfect in its own right.
Angel Daughter Number Four was in awe of the vast beauty which was blanketed all around us.  She wanted, so badly, to run through the flowers but there are spies everywhere who ride around in little golf-carts and they are very quick to yell at anyone who dare even consider crossing over the yellow caution tape.  It's almost like they can read your mind.  You can almost feel their eyes following your every step...Like Flying Monkeys ready to pounce at any moment.  I can see their point, but maybe out of the 50 acres, there might be one tiny little area that could be set aside for the people who are young and young at heart!
Perfect rows set up by color are everywhere the eye can see.

AD4 and I loved the white ones.  There is something so pure and clean about these stunning blossoms.
Some of the flowers even have double-blossoms which make them puff out like those tissue-paper flowers that many of us created as children.  
If you would like to read more about these gorgeous fields of flowers, click on the photo above to enlarge the print.  You can also go to the link which I provided above.  
At the end of the day, all of the blossoms are leaning toward the late-afternoon sun.  There is a cool, salty breeze coming in off of the Pacific Ocean which looms in the background.  The migrant workers collect their finished bouquets and head off to the trucks that bring them back to the nursery.
Sometimes, there is nothing quite like taking a little journey in your own neighborhood.  There is so much around us that we often forget to notice.  

May you take some time to go on your own little adventure.  I would love to hear what you discover or rediscover in your own neighborhood.  There are so many places that we take for granted but that many others will never get to see.  If there is anything that you would care to share, I would love to link it to my site for others to see!

Have a colorful day, my friends!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gifts From the Sea

Walking along the shoreline, one dreary afternoon a few months ago, I spotted something much larger and much bluer than the pieces of seaglass that I typically come across on my weekend journeys.  The beaches on which I do my searching are neither known for, nor do they usually yield large or unusual pieces of seaglass and so, I am always quite happy with whatever I am able to find during my walks.  But every now and then, something extraordinary will turn up and I must shake my head with thoughts of "Why me?  Why this moment?"  And I feel lucky, as my spirit quietly jumps up and down inside of my body, trying not to let anyone else who might be glancing in my direction see that I am secretly ecstatic.  That I am secretly lucky.  Is it more that I think that they will run up behind me, taking me down at the knees in order to steal my special find?  Or is it my own inner-voice trying to save me from becoming too excited about something that might surely disappoint me?  That it won't really end up being what my eyes have perceived I have seen.  My intuition would tell me that it is a little bit of both.  The need to not display too outwardly, the stroke of luck that I have just come upon, as well as the self-protective mechanism which often kicks in when we feel we might have just momentarily gotten a little too lucky.

Yet we are so willing to accept the negative.  We are so willing to accept the strokes of bad luck or misfortune.  Somehow we view life's school of hard knocks as something we deserve, while perceiving the good fortune that comes our way as undeserved or unearned.  I have become somewhat of an expert at this, over the past several years, not questioning the unfairness of my life, but readily wondering what I have done to earn the "lucky" parts.  Wondering how I got so lucky in finding the right man and having the right children while building the right life for ourselves, yet never questioning why I must live with a chronic illness, or as a brotherless sister.  Why is it okay to question the positive things that happen as if we are undeserving, but then accept the negatives as though we had them coming?  The more I think about it, the stupider it sounds.  Yet it is a mindset which is difficult to change.  To admit that we do deserve all of the good that comes into our lives and that sometimes, just sometimes, we have the absolute right to question the crap.

After doing a little research, I found out that the large piece of cobalt seaglass which washed up right in front of me on the shore, came from a bottle which was produced during the years 1900-1915.  Cobalt bottles were used mainly for medicines which is why finding even a tiny shard from a cobalt bottle is fairly rare.  Somehow, and in someway, this little remnant found its way over oceans and time and unknown depths to the coastline right as a wave carried it onto the shore just below my feet.  My feet!  And guess what?  Nobody tried to take me down at the knees for getting excited about it.  Not even God.

So the next time something wonderfully unexpected happens, try something new.  Consider it a gift from The Universe or God or even your higher-self.  And instead of saying, "Why me?  What did I do in order to deserve such good fortune?", just try saying, "Thank you".  I wonder what might happen if we all decided to give ourselves the credit which we truly deserve and then reverently just accepted it.

May you allow yourself to openly and freely accept the good which can sometimes wash up in the waves of your life, without wondering why.  May you give yourself some credit for the good, while understanding the balance which will always exist.  And may you accept the gifts, without trying to tell yourself that you do not deserve them.  You do.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Learning to Compartmentalize Well

There is something about having several children that teaches a mother how to love more than one person completely, equally, but differently, all at one time.  There is also some built-in mechanism that creates the ability for a mother to have each one of her children believe that they are the favorite, at any given moment, but to hold onto that knowledge without making the other siblings feel badly about it.  This ability, this innate capacity to divide one's attention and affection is what makes a mother unique.  If there were a job description for motherhood, one of the qualifications would surely be; Must be able to compartmentalize well.  

So, I have learned over the past twenty-one years.  I have learned to divide and conquer.  I have learned to place all of my energy into being a wife and a mother.  I have learned through on-the-job training.  I have learned without the benefit of having a good example.  I have learned through trial and error.  I have learned to compartmentalize well.  I would be the first one to admit that I have not always done everything right, but my intentions were always in the right place and for that, I will give myself credit.  If someone accused me of being somewhat over-protective, overly-concerned, or sometimes over-indulgent with my four Angel Daughters, I would have to accept blame.  They are my life.  However, after reading a poem that Angel Daughter Number Four wrote for a school assignment, I can now see the other side of blame.  It is all about perspective.

The days moved on,
And we were young.
It was only us girls and not a son.
Pure joy within one's soul,
For we were starting to grow old,
In the very own heart of our home.

She is the cause for who I am.
And yes, I blame her.
I blame her for making me happy,
I blame her for helping me through every step,
She is the blame for creating and raising me without mistakes.
She is my mother.

Everything started out wonderfully.
Yet little did she know, an illness was on its way.
There was no warning sign, but thankfully,
It was nothing that was going to sway her away.
And carrying on with nothing but hope,
She was not one to sit around and mope.

For she is like a piece of seaglass,
Long lasting and beautiful.
She has been tossed around and tumbled through the waters,
But she comes out prettier and more original than before.
And with God on our side, she is still and will always be blessed.

Because of her I can.
Because of her, I am.

-Copied with permission of Angel Daughter Number Four, my fifteen year old.

Because of my four daughters, I have learned not only how to compartmentalize, but also how to do it well.  I have also learned that the more we love, the better we become at loving.  And yes, I blame my children for that.

Looking through some photos which were taken this past weekend, I came across the one that I posted above.  It is a picture of me and my four Angel Daughters, but it captured something much more quiet and private than a family moment.  It captured a look and a unique connection which I share with my youngest daughter.  Yes, I have this with all four of my daughters and yes, there are different times when the connection comes across in a glance or a smile, but mostly, it is something that can only be explained in feelings.  Feelings of knowing that there will not only always be enough room to share, but also to own.  My girls have never asked me which one of them is my favorite, and maybe this is because each one of them understands that in their own way, they are all my favorites.  They each hold a certain space inside of my heart which can never be changed, shared or replaced.  I love each one of them separately, uniquely and the most. 

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