Boys watch too

We talk about healthy relationships with our daughters, hoping to teach them to be strong, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. As mothers, and sometimes fathers, we arm our daughters with tools to navigate the world of relationships so that they can stay true to themselves, expect nothing but dignity, respect, truth and honor. We emphasize a bonding between 2 people where friendship, trust, honesty, and unrequited love is an absolute must. We encourage a spiritual bonding as well, letting no one person to stand between such love. We are to lead by example. We strive to protect our daughters from agony, pain and abuse.

I have had some major relationship failures in my past and I am not proud of that. I try to talk about “mistakes” I’ve made so that they are not repeated. I’ve accepted behaviors and withstood abuse because I thought I wasn’t worthy of anything else. I accepted these relationships as normal and believed they were in the name of love. I made excuses, I hid certain behaviors, I denied my true feelings and alienated my friends and family because I was ashamed of what I had become as I accepted these behaviors as normal. It was only after being “outted” by close friends and family, did I realize that I had failed. I had failed myself. I failed my children. I disappointed and worried friends. What I realized was those very friends and family were crying for help on my behalf. Until I could see that, I couldn’t accept that help and feel the love in a very healthy manner.

I have had some pretty in depth conversations lately with my kids. We’ve talked about those failures (I still will not call them mistakes), why they happen and how to never repeat them again. We learn from that. We grow from that. Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through the rain to see the rainbow. My children have seen me go through so much. They have helped me in ways I never thought possible.

I am stronger today than I’ve ever been. I never wanted to be treated “less than” again. I protect my heart as though it has steel built around it. I don’t want my children to see me hurt again. It’s not their job to pick me up, even though that is NOT what I have intended them to do, ever. They want to protect me, just as I want to protect them. I guess it is a codependency of sorts.

All this time I have worried and stressed about my failed relationships and what it has done to my daughter. I’ve always tried to see things through her eyes and only hoped and prayed that the unspoken lessons, actions and prayers have been heard and seen so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes. I want her to be an independent, strong, intelligent woman who will fight for what she needs and wants. Never in a million years did I ever think about my sons.

Our sons are watching and listening too. They are in relationships. I have always taught them to be respectful, honest, trustworthy and kind. I’ve taught them how to treat a woman….how I want to be treated. I have supported them, listened to them and always have an ear to lend and a shoulder to cry on, when needed. They know that abuse of ANY kind is unacceptable….they talk about it and I know they understand. They also know if I ever get wind of such behavior, they will answer to me and that is understood.

Why am I concerned? Just as I lead by example, faults, mistakes, failures and successes, my children can enter relationships that are not healthy and are down right frightening. You see, they can be in a place where they respect, love and do all the things I have taught them to do, but they have let the relationship become abusive to them. They are following in my footsteps and that is NOT good. It pains me to see this happening and delivers a shocking blow to my heart and soul. I never dreamed that I would have to explain the “other side” to my son. Boys need to be taught exactly what we teach our daughters. Be strong, independent, and fight for what you deserve….don’t accept anything less. Manipulation and isolation are evil.

So for now, talk to your sons. Talk to your daughters. Talk about both sides of the coin. Don’t be the abused and don’t be the abuser and don’t accept anything less.

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Tunnel Vision

I feel as though I am in a tunnel…..trying to get to the light. I move, inching ever so slowly towards my goals, but I AM moving. Life is hard. It’s full of challenges, bumps and sometimes mountains, set backs and the daunting disappointments. Sometimes I feel rejected and abandoned. Sometimes I get so discouraged that I want to give up, bury myself in a hole and never come up for air. But time and time again, I do. I keep moving forward. I wonder why and how I manage to keep my head straight, how I regain my focus and find my determination again.

I think it’s easy to blame feelings on a person or a situation. I look at my past and the people who have taught me to be strong, positive and goal-oriented. I look at the people who have undermined my passion for life, the ones who say they support me but really have no intention to do so, and the people that have let me down time after time yet have me yearning for more from them. My disappointment in others is incredibly difficult to understand and even harder to deal with, especially when they are close to my heart.

I have surrounded myself with good people….you know, people that are caring, honest, helpful, funny, kind and hard working. I learn from them. I personally grow from them. Over the years, I’ve learned expect nothing but hope for the best. And I don’t like that. Sometimes that very hope gets squashed, flat as a pancake. Other times, it’s as though the sun rises and it never fades. I feel as though I live in shadows a lot. I guess that’s ok sometimes.

I love to help others….I feel most comfortable, calm, and content when doing so. I feel that role is what I am meant to do. Sometimes, “things” get in the way of me doing so. Sometimes I persist until I can accomplish my need to help. Sometimes I give up because it just seems too obvious that person does not want my help and sometimes, life just gets in the way of me helping others. I understand that completely, after all, I don’t always respond to the people offering me help either. It’s hard to lean on others when it’s needed. My pride gets in the way, my independence is threatened and my ego can sometimes become bruised. Learning to accept the help is definitely process.

Just imagine if we just stopped and listened for a minute. Thinking about a conversation I had recently made me realize that I haven’t been listening. Sure, I heard what was being said, but I was not listening. Until now. Is it too late? Maybe so. There are moments in our lives when we just need to slow down and get back to our roots of loving, embracing and nurturing humankind. Be kind. Practice it. Be loyal and faithful and always, ALWAYS lend a hand. You won’t regret it. I promise you that.

Oh, There You Are!

And then my soul saw you and it kind of went “Oh there you are. I’ve been looking for you.” -Iain S Thomas

We don’t meet people by chance…..it’s all a part of a much bigger plan than we can’t even begin to understand. Sometimes that reason is clear right from the beginning of any new relationship and other times it doesn’t unveil itself for years or, perhaps, never. I have always thought that every person I meet has a lesson to teach me. It may be as simple as a kind gesture, such as lending a cell phone in an emergency situation, or more complex, such as helping to face demons, fears and insecurities. Sometimes the lessons are not wanted or appreciated and we often get angry or sad and slam the “door” on the relationship. But what if we kept it open? What if we really tuned in to the lesson being taught there? Isn’t that when we grow, learn, and move forward in a more positive way? I have had the door slammed in my face on more than one occasion and I have done the same to others. In recent years, my perspective has changed and I try not to let that happen.  Our lives are too short……too precious to harbor negative feelings. We spend entirely too much time and energy being angry, afraid or insecure. We need to let go of what we can not change and focus on our relationships, our love for one another and celebrate and cherish our differences. After all, if we were all the same, life would be pretty boring, don’t you think?

I meet new people all the time and I absolutely love it! It may be a chance encounter with another photographer out on a shoot; it may be another mom watching their child perform in the school play; it may be a waiter that serves me lunch at a restaurant; it may be someone you’ve never met in person, but online instead and had an instant connection. We meet people at the grocery store, parking lots, doctors’ offices, your neighborhood, on a plane or through a friend of a friend.  Have you talked to a person for the first time and they leave you with a lasting impression for some odd reason? Me too.

I have met a few people who have touched my soul. Genuinely good people…..my soul mates.  Now, I am not talking just about mates or companions. I have friends who I consider to be soul mates as well. And guess what?? They have all come into my life at just the right time. A time when my next lesson was about to be taught. I cherish my soul mates with everything inside me. I protect them.  I celebrate them. I love them.

So, my question is this…..do you think your companion, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend also needs to be your soul mate? What if he/she is not, but the love you share is so deep and the connection is so real that you just cant imagine a life without them? What if you believe this person is your soul mate, but there are other characteristics and traits that you find undesirable? Do you overlook them? We will never be perfect, will always make mistakes and will fall down, but the people we surround ourselves with will determine how quickly we get up, take the next step and grow. Will we always be on a quest to find our next soul mate?

I am THAT mom

DSC_0170I woke up this morning tired, dragging and wishing that I could have stayed in bed longer and I could have, but my excitement is too much for my body and mind to rest. You see, my oldest son plays Legion Baseball and are the regional champs this year, which means they are headed to the state tournament! Tonight is the opening ceremonies and the home run derby.

I love baseball, especially when I get to watch my children  play. This summer has been such a great experience for all of us.  Michael  has played ball since he was 4 years old….for the past 13 years, I have been to more practices and games than I can count. I watched him learn the game, work extremely hard at practices and develop a true passion and dedication for baseball. I have listened to him complain and want to quit only for him to wake up the next day ready to put his all back on that field to try again. I have always been supportive and encouraging, knowing that his passion for learning the game has never wavered.

I have watched countless games on TV, taken him to MLB and minor league games, college games and have purchased countless baseballs, t-shirts, uniforms, hats, bat bags, cleats and gloves. I’ve spent hours soaking and washing uniforms to try to get the baseball field dirt out of the fabric. I have filled water bottles, bought Gatorade and snacks for 13 years now. I have watched friendships form with his teammates and have said, more than once, that we do NOT play ball in the house. I have watched him swing his bat in the house for hours. I have dealt with muddy and dirty floor mats in the car. I have listened to him complain when the weather is not “baseball” weather. I’ve seen him inpatient, waiting on the long winter months turn to spring.

I have watched him play from behind home plate, on the bleachers along the 1st and 3rd base lines and from the outfield. I have watched him play 1st, 2nd, 3rd base, shortstop, left and right field and pitch. I have seen him hit a homerun, bunt, hit a line drive, a pop-up, strikeout, foul, and walk. I have seen him hit with the ball one too many times. I have seen him get hurt, only for him to get  right back up and keep going. I have taken thousands of pictures and videos. I have sat in the blazing sun, wicked wind, frigid cold, rain and snow to watch him play.  I have been excited, nervous, anxious, angry, concerned, relieved, sad, and frustrated. I have yelled until my voice is hoarse, disagreed with calls and have rolled my eyes more than a few times. I have celebrated the wins and have mourned the losses.  This is baseball. Anything goes.

I have witnesses over-zealous, over-protective, rude, angry, and just out of line parents. I have made some terrific friends with other baseball moms as well. Baseball is unpredictable and exciting and every single game holds a lesson, not only for the player, but the team, coach and the parents as well. There is skill, talent, planning, persistence, and hard work that goes into each and every single game.

And so, tonight, I will celebrate with my son. I will cheer him on, pray for him, encourage and support him. I will wear my baseball mom shirts this week. I will drive 90 minutes each way for the next 4 days to watch the team. I will be exhausted and I will love it. I am THAT mom. LET’S PLAY BALL!

 

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Elkins Post 29 Team, 2017

 

Fear is a beast

I ask myself, “What do I want”? This question has been swirling in my head for months. I have asked myself this before and I think I have become accustomed to making up some unrealistic or ridiculous answer to appease myself.  So, there are certain wishes/goals/aspirations/hopes/dreams that I want. I have always been a goal-oriented person, but sometimes have issues with follow through and motivation to achieve them.  Why? I don’t think it is laziness. I don’t think that it is because I don’t see the end as important. I think it is more of anxiety; a fear of failing.

I have been around some pretty strong, independent, intelligent and very successful women since I was young  I have witnessed women that have been able to overcome devastating situations ad those that have set the sky as their limit and have shattered all obstacles and have added steps to their ladder to the next goal they plan to achieve. I get my strength from these very women, but my goals and aspirations seem to be insignificant to their own. I know they have failed…..they have picked up the pieces and tried again and again until they succeeded. That is what gave them the strength and why I have always viewed them as incredibly strong women. So, why the fear of failure?

I have never seen these women fail……I know they do from time to time, but the way they handle it with grace, dignity and ownership of their failures makes it look easy. Just like me, they probably are mortified inside, full of anxiety and nervous to try again. Perseverance kicks in and they keep moving forward. For me, I shut down.  I quit.  And I am working on that. It is a very real struggle for me.  You see, I am an emotionally charged individual who wears my heart on my sleeve.  It is hard for me NOT to let people see when I fail. Once people see that, I have a hard time getting back on track.

The other part of this is the people that have been in my life at one time or another that didn’t believe in me……the people that doubted my capabilities and told me my goals were unrealistic and that I would never make it. I guess it was easy to dismiss that early on, but the fact that I hear those words in my head prove that I never did dismiss them. Words hurt. And they stick.

I have new goals today. I will achieve them.  I have new desires. I will chase them. Nothing or no one is going to stop me this time. I believe in myself and where I am going. I will get there, no matter how short my footsteps may be……I will continue to inch forward.

June Bug…..GO AWAY!

For many, June signifies the beginning of summer, a time to get outside, enjoy the weather, work on the yard, BBQ’s, pool time, chasing fireflies, and endless starry nights. For me, June is a month that I dread the other 11 months of the year. As May came to an end this year, my anxiety levels shot through the roof and I have had more than my fair share of panic attacks…..you know, the kind where you can’t breathe, sweating, jittery, dizzy, heart pounding and feeling nauseous. It really is quite amazing how past events can have an affect of your psyche. There have been 3 massive, life changing events during the month of June and as I inch closer to their anniversaries, my breathing becomes shallow, as if I can’t breathe. I really would like to fast forward through the month, but I can not. I will tip toe through each and every day so as not to rock the boat.

You see, it started back on June 12, 1992……my graduation from high school. I know that you are thinking, “What??? That should have been a happy day to celebrate.” And it was, indeed.  My family was there; 2 Aunts flew in from OR and AZ to witness the occasion. I had a beautiful pale pink dress underneath my white graduation cap and gown. The weather was perfect and as the sun was setting for the evening, it gently allowed the surrounding oak trees to cast shadows and provided shade from the sun.LGHS

I was so, so happy that day……but so, so scared at the same time. My dad was dying and had been very ill the week before the big day. I was sure he was going to miss it. The day before graduation, he received a blood transfusion, which was a game changer for him. It was as if the donated blood gave him new life.  He woke up that morning and felt fantastic. He looked full of life…..no longer pale and weak. He looked stronger than I had seen in recent months. He was so excited to feel well enough to attend my graduation. I was elated!! But as the day progressed,  the more exhausted he became and when it was time to leave the house, he looked tired and was unsteady on his feet. I had told him to stay and rest, but he refused and insisted on going. During the whole ceremony, my emotions were all over the place. I tried to stay in the present; I tried to listen to all the speakers; I tried to take it all in. But all I could think about was how my dad was feeling.  I couldn’t see him from where I was sitting and that was worrisome. After the ceremony, I quickly walked over to where my family was sitting and my dad was smiling from ear to ear. He made it! He was tired, but he was able to watch me graduate. ME AND DAD

A few days later, he was admitted to the hospital and on June 23, 1992, he took his last breath, holding mine and my brother’s hand. I continue to miss my dad every day, but he is in my head and every ounce of my heart always. Things and people remind me of him all the time in my daily life……spring daffodils, the never-ending waves in the ocean and the salty air, a beautiful and perfect rose bud, the smile of my kids and the sparkle in their eyes……I often say, “I wish I could just have one more day with dad”…..but really, he gave me all he needed to give me. He is with me each day and I will have another day with him someday.

Fast forward 23 years to 2015……June 6 was a Saturday….. beautiful, cool morning and I went out to mow the lawn. Michael (15) and Alex (5) were in the house watching TV. I had just about completed the front yard when I had a sharp pain that came from my back and down my left arm. It was so intense that I had to let go of the mower with that hand. I kept moving, as I only had one more row to complete. I grabbed the mower and kept walking. As I made my last turn, I began to get dizzy, but kept mowing.  I was almost done. I walked all the way back up to the house when I felt I couldn’t breathe, became nauseous and began to vomit. I dropped to my knees and felt like an elephant had jumped on to my chest. I grabbed it with my hand and as quickly as my symptoms appeared, they disappeared.  But I felt incredibly weak and was trying to get back to the porch where I could go inside. I had to crawl up my front steps……it was as if my legs wouldn’t work. When I opened the screen door, Michael immediately asked me what was wrong, He told me that my face was white. I told him that I just needed to lay down a minute and asked for a glass of water. I was sure that I just overdid it a bit and needed to hydrate my body. Michael kept asking me what happened and I described my symptoms but explained them away as I was feeling much better by then. Little did I know, he was “googling” my symptoms and suggested I had a heart attack. I completely dismissed that…..there was no way I had a heart attack.  I was only 41 and felt fine by then. He had a baseball game that afternoon and I told him I was getting in the shower to get ready.  He suggested going to the ER and skipping his game and I refused. I was fine.

We went to his game and he told his friend’s mom what happened…..she came over to talk to me and encouraged me to go to the hospital. Again, I dismissed it. As the game went on, the pain in my shoulder returned with a debilitating  and pounding headache. I found myself looking for shade, as the sun seemed to be too much for me. I finally caved and agreed to go the ER after the game was finished. I remember sitting in silence as the doctor told me the blood work indicated that I had a heart attack. What did this mean? Why wasn’t I really sick? How did this happen? What happens now? Shortly after finding out the news, I was transported by ambulance to another hospital, known for their cardiac care. I had a heart cath 2 days later where my cardiologist found 5 blockages that were too much for stents. 2 days after that, on June 10, I was prepped for quintuple bypass surgery. At 41 years of age. HA Survivor

Last year, in June, of course, I had some unexplained swelling in my legs. I had gone to my doctor who ordered an ultrasound to check for blood clots. Nothing was found. My cardiologist then referred me for a CT scan with contrasting dye. On June 27, the scan was done and some sort of infection was found in my abdomen and lymphatic system. Once again, I was transferred by ambulance to another hospital for treatment. I had a drain put in the next morning and on June 30, was entering the OR again for exploratory surgery. My appendix had burst (most likely in April……I felt the pain and was in severe discomfort for a few days but it subsided) and infection had taken over that part of my body. The surgeon  removed what was left of my appendix and had to do a bowel resection (12″ of the bowel removed) because if was full of infection. I remained in the hospital until July 6 receiving IV antibiotics and daily blood draws to check my white blood cell count. I was on antibiotics until November, 2016. Pretty nasty stuff!

I just can’t wait to get through this month.  One thing I have learned for sure (I think I have anyways) is LISTEN to your body. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. I have dismissed so many of my concerns as normal aches and pains, but in reality, they could have killed me. We know our bodies best….I pray I get through June unscathed this time.

I can’t hear you

What defines you? Is it your career? Your kids/family? Your success/failures? More often than not, I think most of us wonder, “Who am I”? If we didn’t ask ourselves that, our lives would be over.  It would be boring. Sure, we have an IDEA of who we are, but all of our experiences in life mold us into who we are today. In a split second, that could change though.

I have thought many times that I have it all figured out. And just as fast as that thought crosses my mind, something always happens to remind me that I am not in control. There is a bigger plan for  me……no matter how hard I may try to avoid it. I believe in God and while I talk to Him often throughout every single day, I still struggle to relinquish my worries/fears of my every day life to Him. As hard as I try, it just doesn’t work for me. We are all selfish on some level; we want to control our outcomes; we want to protect ourselves and others from hurt and pain; we all want peace. But our perceptions of those very definitions differ from person to person and from a higher power than us.

I am in a constant state of learning. Life seems to be full of lessons, always propelling itself from day to day down an unfamiliar road. Life is hard. But believe it or not, I am thankful for every single experience, positive or negative, I have encountered.  They have shaped me into the person I am today and I am sure it will continue to change me until the day I die. Every day, I pray that I am making a difference, somehow, not only in my life, but in the lives of others. I am raising 3 kids the best way I know how……I am not perfect and neither are they, but we are learning together along the way. I talk about my experiences/lessons with others with hope that they, too, can learn from my experiences. We must speak out, spread our message, whatever it may be. We have a voice for a reason and it must be heard.  What is your message?

Brushing the surface

Many people have asked me if I had a blog or had thought about writing a book….well, here it is….my first entry on my first blog. Yes, I have thought about doing both for many years, but have always felt a bit overwhelmed. My hope is that by journaling, I will be able to see a place to start my book……definitely a dream I would like to reach.

Just a little about me……I am a single mom to 3 wonderful kids (Michael-16, Abby-12 and Alex-7).  I also have a baby boy, Andrew, who was taken from me entirely too soon.  He would be 10 years old this year…..more on that later. They are my everything, as you would imagine. They define so much of who I am as a person and the amount of pride and love I have for them can not possibly be described with words. While being a mom is the most important job I will ever do in my lifetime, I am more than that as well.

I am hoping that, through my experiences, I will be able to help someone……either by being able to connect to another through a similar situation, raising awareness of a variety of feelings, thoughts, experiences or simply providing something to read that makes you laugh out loud. My promise to all of you…..I will keep it real. Sometimes, it may seem like my raw thoughts or like I am ranting on and on or just completely and utterly boring you to death (I hope not!).

I do have a favor to ask of you……please be kind and respectful. People may comment on my posts and I truly do not want anyone to feel anxious or afraid to do so.  EVERYONE is entitled to their opinions and I have no tolerance for those that feel they are better than another. With that being said, feel free to send me a private message if you wish…..I hope you enjoy reading this blog!