Category Archives: Clarity

Finding Success in Failures

So, it’s been a super long time since I’ve wrote but something happened today that was well worth writing about.

My daughter is now 23. (Yeah, 23, as in years.) She graduated nursing school in December (so proud!) and took her board exam yesterday. She messaged last night, devastated that she did not pass. Being the Mom I am, I immediately spouted words of encouragement: ‘suck it up buttercup‘, ‘failure is only when you quit tryin‘…blah blah blah…but I could tell it wasn’t what she really wanted to hear at that moment. She was hurting. Sometimes the last thing you want to hear is ‘keep your head up’. Sometimes you’re just hurt and you just need to feel the pain. It was tough, but I shut up, told her I love her, and let her be. Sometimes we need to be mad at ourselves. We need time to reflect…we just aren’t supposed to stay there.

This morning she texted and confirmed she did not pass. My heart wept inside. I sympathized and started with the encouragements: she can try again; not the first to fail. Then she texted something that shocked me “I’m trying to stay positive. I’m surprisingly happier than I would have anticipated.” I assumed she had come to terms with it and was relieved. My girl is not one to give up.

We continued texting and I told her that I’m a big believer that things happen for a reason, even in what appears to be bad. I told her that maybe there is something she needed to learn yet that will help her save a life one day. This is God’s way of making sure she knows it. Her reply? She’s actually happy she didn’t pass – she didn’t want to ‘barely’ become a nurse, she wants to knock it out of the park.

Then I saw that she announced to the Facebook world: “Well folks, I didn’t pass this time around. but I’m staying in good spirits. Some of the best nurses I know had to take the exam twice. I’m just gonna study my tail off and kill it next time.”

Bottom line is, it’s hard as a parent to watch our kids struggle or fail. We want to help them, heal the boo-boo’s, wrap them in bubble wrap and shield them from the pains of the world…but we can’t and we shouldn’t. Sometimes we need to fall. It’s only after a cold that you realize how great it is to be able to breathe without your mouth open. When we fall we learn the most, both about the world, and more importantly, about ourselves. The world is rough; the world is harsh. We are flawed, but we are also resilient. Attitude is truly everything. You can be down on yourself, beat yourself up, but don’t stay there; at some point we need to admit what we did wrong, let it go, and truly resolve to do better the next time. We have to find the light in the dark, even if that means being the one who builds a fire.

I thought I was proud when she graduated, but surprisingly, I’m actually more proud of her attitude after not passing the board exam. It shows she has the ability to turn failure into success; to see the good even in the most painful of times. It shows that she is resilient…mature. I feel confident that when failure strikes again, she will prevail. As a parent, that is one of the best attribute we can hope our children possess: perseverance. The only true form of failure is when we stop trying and she isn’t stopping. That’s my girl!

 

Before You Know It

Happy Monday, folks. Well, I’ve had my coffee and have succombed to the morning, so it’s happy, but more so because I say it is. Plus, I woke up. That’s a bonus.

It seems my emotional state has been heightened lately. Maybe that is partly from not living on our own yet. I love his folks but not having your privacy takes it toll. And maybe part of that is being away from my kids. Maybe not being away, but realizing that they are all adults now. They don’t need me like they use to. They still need me, of course, but now it’s different.

I became a grandma in September 2012 and again in April 2013. Seeing my boys with their own children…that’s just a crazy feeling. People tout how great it is being a grandparent – and yes, it is all that but there’s another level that is often overlooked: seeing your child become a parent. The look in their eyes when they hold their child. The concern in their voice. It brings back memories of when I held them. And now, look at them, holding their own.

Missouri-139-v2 Mom use to tell me that you always worry about your kids, no matter how old. Man. Was she right. I pray for their marriages, for their kids, for their health, for their jobs, for the ability to make good decisions and cling to their faith. It’s never ending. And yes, Mom was right. The worry gets bigger as they get bigger. It’s no longer just a matter o worrying if they will scrap a knee or get their feelings hurt at school…

We also hear oh so often how “I’m turning into my mother/father”. Well, I definitely feel like I’m looking through different lenses. It’s like I’ve crossed another threshhold. Like when I watch my kids with their kids; I think to myself “So this is how my Mom felt.” It makes me miss her. My older siblings do not know how blessed they were. I was 33 when Mom passed. (And in that instant, I turned 5 again.) She didn’t get to see my grandkids. She didn’t get to meet Dave. She didn’t get to see me overcome my addictions and really make something of my life. I believe she is still around me. Albeit not the same, I find comfort in believing that she visits and knows how happy I am and how far I’ve come. I believe she sees that all the prayers she prayed for me, worked.

I guess what has gotten to me is, the realization that time doesn’t stop. Some threshholds are bigger than others… I can recall hollering for my mom to watch me do flips on the clothesline pole. I remember her opening the back door and hollering for me when I didn’t want come in from the rain. I remember her disappointment when I was caught playing sick at school and she had to come pick me up, when I stayed out past my curfew, when I dropped out of school. I remember her walking into the hospital room the day I gave birth to my first child. I remember her in her wheelchair, being there for my first college graduation. I remember that call at 4am that she had a stroke…I remember seeing her. It didn’t look like her. I remember her hospital bed in the living room and sitting on her bedside, crying when she asked what I wanted after she passed. Some day that will be me…I can only hope that I have a slue of grandkids, a book of stories, and all the aches and pains that come with age. And I can only hope that I’ve instilled good values in my children who will pass them on to their children, who will ultimately carry it forward after I’m gone. Maybe that’s why I’m so into photography. It’s a way you can stop time. Capture a memory, share it and relive it.

So, what’s the moral of this post? Heck. I don’t know. The old cliches just don’t seem to cut it anymore: ‘Live life to the fullest’, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade’, ‘Give it all you’ve got’…when we reach the end, who knows what happens next. All I know is, we will all makes mistakes. We will all have some type of regret. We will all fall down and hopefully, we will all get up better than we were before. We will all have good memories and yes, they will be sprinkled with some bad. I guess the moral is, own it. It’s yours. Take photos. Document your life. Leave behind something good. Be grateful for today, be grateful for yesterday and for as many tomorrows as you can get. Embrace the good and the bad and all the treshholds of life. It’s over before we know it.

Seeing the Beauty

So. It’s a gloomy 8:13am in middle Georgia. The sky is spewing rain yet the air is warm. The trees are drenched and the puddles in the driveway expand. Grumbles of thunder loom in the distance. The rain stops and the birds start to sing. A couple of them zoom in on a puddle and start to bathe themselves. Spring flowers dot the landscape, just beginning to emerge with their bright and bold colors; an amazing fragrance fills the air. The green of the trees is enhanced as drips of water hit the moist ground. Then, the rain returns. Life is great. That’s pretty much it.

I guess that’s all I really want to share today: life is great, even though to some it may not appear to be. I am amazed at how great my life has turned out. I’ve had some pretty rough patches. I’ve been knocked down so many times in so many ways, but all that, all that has brought me here, to this amazing time in my life – and I am so incredibly thankful you cannot imagine. No. Things aren’t perfect, but, that’s the beauty of it. Nothing is horribly wrong, nothing is even remotely wrong. There is nothing in my life right now that I fear, and for that I am grateful.

You’ve all heard that life is what we make of it. True, but it goes much deeper than that. If you want something, you have to believe. If you want something, you have to work for it. Ok. Some people don’t work for it, which I think is a shame, because without working for it, you don’t gain the appreciation of having it. This world has become too ‘gimme’. We are a society who feels indebted, as if we somehow earned happiness as a birth right. Well, we haven’t. Some don’t have it as hard, some have it worse. While it may seem unfair, life has this natural balance. It’s hard to ascertain a person’s level of happiness just by looking at them or reviewing their bank statements. We all do it, but stereotyping someone is the biggest fail. Some emotions do not have a face. They are felt so deep inside that they are hard to judge. Just because someone has money doesn’t mean they are happy. Just because someone smiles, doesn’t mean they are happy. Just because someone has ‘things’ doesn’t mean they are enjoying life. Some of the wealthiest people are having the worst time of their lives. Wealth isn’t in ‘things’, it’s inside. That’s what makes us unique. Some people do not look deep inside, the expect happiness to follow them, to come to them in the form of another person. I’m learning that ‘happy’ is a state of mind that starts inside. Peace isn’t the absence of pain or trials, it’s knowing who you are in the midst of it. It’s working for what we want and appreciating who it makes us in the process. For all I have inside, and out, I extend my deepest appreciation.

Thank you, Lord, for watching over me. I ask that you watch over my children and help them to succeed in this life. Show them true happiness that does not fade. Shower them with your unfailing love like You do the flowers and the trees. Thank you for the nuturing you provide my soul. Thank you for helping me become the person I am today, for the realization of what greatness lies within me. Thank you Lord, for the beauty that surrounds me, even if at times I cannot see it as clearly as I do now. Help me to continue to grow and be this person I always knew was here. Thank you for forgiving me and loving me through my faults. And thank you Lord, for the rain, and the sunshine.

~Amen

Way Too Long

Well hello there! Remember me? Sorry for it being so long since I last posted. I’ll try to do better in 2013.

So, we got moved to Georgia in mid September of 2012 and the day after – yes, the day after we unloaded the last truck, we got the dreaded call – the contract had fell through. Yep. We loaded one more truck and headed home to Indiana. That was a scary and defeated feeling. I hated those days. Saying goodbye to something that I had no sooner said hello. The thoughts that rushed through me were common; ‘Why?’ Why did we literally pack everything we own and spend $1000’s of dollars just to move right back? My Mom taught me the most valueable lesson of my life in her last days. “There’s always a reason, we just aren’t meant to know why sometimes.”

By the end of October we were back in Indiana. His folks visited us a couple time for the holidays and I was very happy to host my family twice when my sons came to visit. My middle son came first the beginning of December with his wife and my first grandson, Riott. We had 21 family members over for Sunday dinner. It was amazing! Always wanted a place big enough to host my ever-growing family. If you think 21 is large – that was not even half of my immediate family. My nephew and niece-in-law announced their big news: due in July!! Yes, yet another grandchild to add to the family tree. What a joyous moment!

Hosting the family wasn’t near as much stress as I thought it would be and I was glad to do it again in January when my oldest son visited with his new wife. She’s due May 22 – yes, going to be grandma x2! YAY!! Another branch extends forth!! Found out it will be another boy, Noah. Can’t wait to meet him. Sucks that we live so far away. Doesn’t matter if I live in Indiana or Georgia or ‘Timbucktoo’; both my sons live in Missouri. That’s probably the part I don’t like about my life most right now; I can’t just stop over and see my kids/grandkids. Can’t just babysit and spoil my offspring’s offspring…but thank God for modern technology. I can text, call, Skype and keep up on their to-do-n’s on Facebook. I can see progressive baby belly pics and hear all about her craving and emotional boundings. I can still offer my motherly advise and be involved. It’s the little things 🙂

I found a new job – one I love so much. I work from home now. It’s great!! I actually turned down 2 other offers in town. That was scary. I’ve never worked on a contract like this before and after what happened to Dave’s contract last year, I feared the worse. Besides, I cannot recall ever turning down a job offer, but something told me to take this one. I knew it meant I had to disciplined. I knew the risks. It took almost a month before I actually started. I worried if it was real. But my worries were soon layed to rest. When I started working, it was just as I remembered. It was like dusting off a bike and hopping back on – I was a little wobbly the first couple days but before I knew it, I was doing flips and coasting with my hands up in the air! The people I work with are fun, dedicated, understanding and just down right great people. They have faith and that really sold me on them. They weren’t afraid to say it in both my interviews. Know how when you talk to someone, you just click? Well, that’s the way it was with this team. I’m glad I listened to my gut.

And it’s a good thing I took that remote job – we are back in Georgia!! Yep. Last truck is unloaded and no call yet. (And there better not be, God willing! Lol!) I have faith that this time is it. We are here for good. Today marks his first day at his new job. Kinda scary, but in a good way. Dave and I are as strong as ever. He even left me a little note in my office this morning. Love those little moments…don’t think he realizes how much…

So, what’s the moral of this blog? Don’t give up. Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the best things happen out of the worst circumstances. It is our struggles – our victories and our defeats – that makes us who we are. We can chose to begrudge life and anticipate the next hurdle or we can face each day for what it is, knowing that we have the opportunity to rise above, grow and be grateful. I got to host my family not once, but twice. I got to have my sons over and create some new memories together. I got to spend some quality time with my daugther who is growing into the woman I knew she could be. I got to overcome one of life worst disappointments with the one I love. I am thankful for technology that allows me to stay connected no matter where I am. I am thankful for my faith that continues to see me through – and I am reminded that through God’s strength, we can do anything.

Until next time!

 

“The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.”  ~ Psalm 69:32

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”  ~ Romans 12:2

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7

In a World Where Everything Changes, Love Remains the Same

 Lately, I find myself getting sad for no reason. No. This isn’t a rare occurrence. I’ve experienced this momentary lag of reason many times over the course of my life. And as the analytical type that I am, I’m always trying to figure out the ‘why’. It is fact that our bodies let us know when it needs water or specific nutrients, (also known as cravings). So if you think about it, it’s not a far stretch to think that our bodies – or our minds – are in need of something when it responds in a way such as displaced sadness.

When I was very young, maybe 8 or 9 years old, I recall very vividly, my mother sitting with her head down on the kitchen table, crying uncontrollably. Scared and confused, I approached her and asked what was wrong. She looked up and me and sobbed, “I don’t know why. I’m just sad.” That moment was forever etched deep within me. It honestly terrified me. I didn’t understand. I remember thinking, how can you be sad without a reason?? Part of me thought she was nuts. As I grew older I realized that she did suffer from depression. I’m sure that was part of it, but having the experiences I’ve had in life, I have a hard time comprehending ‘depression’ as an illness. I think it is self-driven. Let me stop you there. Yes. I have suffered ‘depression’ in my years. But, do I think a pill will fix it? A big: HELL NO. I think getting to the core of the problem is where the remedy lives. Not all things can be fixed, but they have to be accepted. Sometimes we cannot get there alone. We need our closest friends or even a counselor. Until we succumb to doing whatever it takes to get to the root of the fear, we will continue dancing around the fire, and some will continue to fall further into a pit of despair, getting more and more depressed as they convince themselves they are nuts. They aren’t. We aren’t. We’re just human.

It’s human nature to be fearful of change, and change is a major facet of life; you cannot have one without the other. Change is probably the one true constant we can depend on. For some reason we get accustom to a certain way of life and when even the slightest thing changes, we freak out. Eventually, some things will change: jobs, children, relationships, friends, bills…. We busted our asses in school to get a good job just to lose it. We raise our children with the best of intentions just to witness them growing up, making decisions on their own, sometimes as we watch in horror. Experience has taught us the outcome already. We brace for what is to come just as if we were watching an accident getting ready to unfold. But they have to learn on their own. Of course we love them and we don’t want them to hurt, but they are on a new journey and unfortunately as parents, that part doesn’t include us holding their hand. Why do we react in shock as if things are supposed to remain constant? As if life is somehow supposed to be perfect all the time? THAT is living in a fantasy world.

Long ago, I resolved that this feeling of displaced sadness is normal. It kind of threw me off this time, because I couldn’t be happier right now. The last six months has been phenomenal…so, why am I so sad? What is it that my body fears? Then it hits me: unconditional love. I don’t think I’ve honestly ever felt it from someone of the opposite sex. I know I felt unconditional love from my mother, but my Dad is another story. There was always a string attached to things he did for me, and he didn’t hesitate to tell me I’d never amount to shit if I didn’t do things his way. Sad. But true. When I was younger, I walked on egg shells always fearing that if I disappointed those I love, they would leave or say mean things to me. If I didn’t do things right, I would lose it all. It really sucks to feel that your Dad only loves you based on your performance. Don’t worry. I don’t need a therapist. I have come to grips with how I feel about my Dad. I love him, and I know he loves me in the best way he knows how. He’s 82. It’s not going to change. I will never be Daddy’s girl. I’ll never have that precious moment where he dances with me and tells me how proud he is of me. This is just the way he is. He means no harm and he definitely doesn’t want it to make me cry. So I let it hurt for a moment, then I press on. THAT is how I avoid depression: I accept. I mourn. I do what I can, then I move on. I have way too many things to be thankful for. I cannot allow something I don’t have to define me.

Through it all, I see how I’ve harbored this emptiness with my relationships with men. Always struggling to feel accepted, to quiet the fear of being left, to quench the tears of a relationship I never had with my dad. In my past, I have mistaken love for many other things and I’ve allowed this blindness to permit myself to be used, abused and misled. Likewise, my past has taught me to see signs and separate myself from someone. Make a quick exit. Cut my losses. Keep my head about me and my priorities in order. I’ve always known deep down that someday, someone would come around and he would be it. Life is all about learning. And I’ve learned a lot about what love is and what love isn’t.

So what is it? What is my body telling me? Well, I think it has to do with change and with love. My youngest child graduates next month. A lengthy chapter in my life is coming to an end. I realize the fear of their well-being and safety won’t stop here, but my job as a full-time Mother is definitely changing. She’s moving out on her own and even though I’m scared, I’m so incredibly proud of her. And here I am getting ready to move out of the house I’ve lived in for over 20 years to move in with the man of my dreams. Sometimes it seems surreal. I’ve always felt that I would find love, but it is here. Right here. Right now. How do I know that? I can’t explain it. I just do. And here in lies the realization of my fear: maybe I was wrong. Maybe all things don’t change.

Unconditional love is truly the one thing that doesn’t change. It is always there. I have become so accustom to living on guard, walking on egg shells, defending my ground…and I don’t have to anymore. For once, I can breathe. The man who has my heart, truly has my heart. He has all of me. That in and of itself is scary. My body is not use to this and maybe it just needs time to adjust (lol).  I love him with all that I am. I can actually see myself in him. Sounds kinda corny but it’s true. And because of that, it isn’t hard to imagine that he loves me the same way, too…I know he has his own set of fears. Yet, I trust him. Yes. I said that. I fully and completely trust him.

So what do I need? I need to let go of the “what if’s”. I need to leave behind all my fears and the memories that have created them. I need to accept that not all love is like the love of my Dad. I need to forgive me Dad for my loving me how I want him, too and simply accept him for who he is. And I need to remind myself that I deserve to be happy, without the fear of acceptance, or floor of egg shells. I need to continue accepting, mourning, growing and moving forward. I am the author of my biography. Each chapter is better than the next. And in a world where everything changes, love remains.

 

Bigger than the Biggest

So. I feel like blogging…so many things to blog about. The hard part is picking one. It’s the day after Christmas. Just got off the phone with my second oldest sister. This topic seems appropriate. For those who don’t know me, I’m the baby of 8 full-blooded siblings. My folks were married almost 50 years. I’m the youngest. Sixteen years separate me from the oldest. All but me and a brother are married and every one of us have at least 1 child. You’d think our Christmas would be filled with merriment and joy and family upon family. But no.

This blog will not be filled with happiness and joy, nor oozing with holiday delight and moments of love and cherished memories. No. I’m pissed. I’m pissed that I have such a large family and we don’t take the time to be together like we use to. If my Mom were still alive, she’d be pissed too. Oh yeah. We are getting together, on New Year’s Day. No food. Just stop by between 2pm and 5pm. I doubt everyone will stay 3 hours. Several nieces and nephews won’t be there and half of us live out of state. I wonder if everyone is going out of desirement or requirement. (I know it’s not a word. Sue me.) What gets me most is, back in the day, it was “we eat at noon.” You could show up early but rarely did anyone ever show up late without cause. And while it was hard to find a day when no one had committments with their inlaws, most stuck around until it was dark. What the hell is 2pm-5pm?? Having a beginning and ending time sounds more like a meeting, not a gathering of family. Maybe I should take doughnuts. (Yes. It’s okay to laugh. I am.)

Every year we use to gather on Christmas. If not Christmas day, a day very close to it. My old bedroom usually served as the coat room: I smile when I think about my old bed hidden with stacks of coats, scarfs, purses and gloves. And as you would suspect with a family my size, there were more gift than the livingroom could accomodate, but even better, it was a necessity to drag every chair and table from the basement upstairs so that no one had to stand. Everyone worked together, everyone pitched in. (No. I really had to go to the bathroom when it was time to do dishes. 😉 ) Kids chased each other down the hall, their laughs echoed from the basement where the adults would also congregate eventually to play ping pong or pool. The holiday feativites fostered a time for nieces and nephews to stregthen their bonds. A time for brothers and sisters to poke fun at ugly sweaters, compliment new hairdos, talk about new things in our lives, and maybe make a joke or two. 

An array of food always adorned several tables and nooks and crannies in the kitchen. There was always chicken and dumplings – a specialty my Mom and Grandma would tediously and religiously begin preparing the night before. And everyone brought a dish. Some we became accustom to every year: my sister-in-laws famous 8-way potatoes. Another sister’s spin on broccoli casserole. Always the familiar, and ever so popular peanut butter balls, fudge and sugar cookies with the Hershey’s kiss on the top that my second oldest sister would make. They weren’t even popular that first year she made them. Oh. She has a way with desserts. When I saw her pull up, I always ran out to help her bring stuff in just so I could get a sniff.

We are a strong family based on faith, yet while we always said grace before a meal, one of my sister’s would always include Jesus by telling a story. Usually before opening gifts to remind us what the season was all about. My niece and nephews even put on a show one year, costumes and all. They were so proud and we were proud just watching them.

All of these things – the food, the family, the traditions, the working together, the laughs, the pokes, the attempts to avoid doing dishes, the watching grandma fall asleep upright in the recliner –  it was what made the holiday special. Man. I love those memories. I can close my eyes and I’m there again.

If you find yourself complaining about traveling to visit inlaws, or trying to juggling seeing both sides of the family during the holidays, next year, just do it and be thankful. Don’t let the holiday’s become a chore. It’s not about presents and food and ugly sweaters. It’s about spending time together. Even if it’s in 3 hour allottment… No present, no dish, no card, will ever replace those moments. Maybe next year will be better. Until then, I’m going to enjoy every second, even if there’s no sugar cookie with a hershey’s kiss in the middle, because it’s more about just being together because when you take all those little things in life and put them together, they become bigger than the biggest things. And those are often the most irreplaceable.

I’m not pissed anymore. The holidays may make me sad, but I know I’m still blessed. Even my own children were scattered around the states with their significant others. So, the holidays may not be exactly as I wish they would be, but I do appreciate the memories. Maybe that’s why I’m the first to volunteer to do dishes now….

You don’t need a holiday to hug the ones you love.

Oh! And let me add: remember the movie “A Christmas Story”? The mom goes through all the work to make a big meal, and the dog eats the turkey and ruins dinner so they go to a Chinese restaurant? It wasn’t about the food, it was about being together. Thanks for reminding me of that, Dave. While we just went there to eat, it meant much more to me than you know. But that’s how God works. In the simple details. I love you.

Screaming in Silence: Allowing the Inner Child to Cry

Funny how I can be thinking of what I want to write and no sooner do I sit down and start typing, something else comes out. Sometimes it sucks to come face to face with ourselves, but some times that the only way we can truly grow. Being transparent isn’t easy…especially in the mirror, but it sure is enlightening. Oh, well. Guess this was what I was suppose to write about. So…here goes.

Oh, the holidays…joyous days filled with frolick, family, smiling faces, and cheerful music. Sounds great, right? But oh, how I’ve grown to despise this time of year. Over the years, all holidays have done for me is add weight to an already overflowing mind. I try to look at it as any other day. And I think I’m over it until I start writing about it and the emotions just start flooding back. I know other’s have this holiday heaviness. So…I guess it’s time to be transparent and just write about it. I tell people bits and pieces of this story and then shrug off the implication that it was really ‘that’ bad, but it was…it impacted me for a long time…and it still haunts me on occasion. Holidays – and my childhood – have been instrumental in teaching me that if you don’t expect anything, when you don’t get it, it won’t matter.

Growing up in a large family of 10, you would think this time of year is naturally full of family memories and traditions. But. It’s not. Sad, but true. We do spend Christmas’ together but Thanksgiving, that’s another story. I do good to even speak to a family member during this time. It all started many years ago – I’d say mid 1990’s – I hugged each of my kids as they piled into their dad’s car for an extended weekend stay. Back in the house, I bounced over to the phone to call Mom and check what time I should come out for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspecting my contribution to the festivities in the oven, the phone rang and rang. No answer. That’s odd. I called my sister who, to my shock, informed me that they were in New York visiting my other sister. WHAT?? Why didn’t they tell me? And more importantly, what now??

My mom had vocalized her growing detest for Thanksgiving. Starting on the eve of the holiday, my mother would toil away for hours in the kitchen making the best of the best, only to have everyone come out solely to eat and then move onto their inlaws house. She wanted more time for visiting, a small concession for sweating over the stove. I can’t blame her. Yet, I didn’t have inlaws. I couldn’t imagine our family not breaking bread on a day such as this. Besides, without my family Thanksgiving…where would I go?? Well, that year, the unspeakable happened and the answer was Shoney’s…a popular buffet just down the street. Table for one please.

It was hard watching all those families interacting together. I would’ve given my right arm to fight over the last biscuit or to have my brother give me crap about how much I could pile on my plate. For the life of me, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my parents didn’t tell me they were going to be out of town. Could I have really been forgotten?? Surely they didn’t decide to fly out the night before. Knowing my Mom’s innate ability to squeeze a penny, this had to have been planned for quite a while. Nothing hurt more then the reality that I had been forgotten by my own family…not one sibling called me that day…or even that month. Which isn’t out of sorts to begin with. But not even my sister who delivered the blow thought to soften it. I’m sure they were busy with the bustle of their own holiday merriment. And I am sincerely happy and thankful for all my family, however, the little girl inside me was left scared in solitude, screaming in silence.

For a couple years, another lone neighbor of mine and I would cook an elaborate spread for our kids and invite other ‘loners’ to join in our meager festivities. That made me feel awesome, like I was just another toy on Misfit Island; flawed but not alone. I most wanted to be with my kids, if possible, and others who could appreciate life’s simplest blessings. That’s what Thanksgiving is about to me. Always has been, always will be. And a couple years I did accept invitations to dine with other families. It was nice to be a part of someone’s celebration…even if they couldn’t remember my name, yet it was never the same. I actually didn’t expect it to be. I was grateful to be there but honestly didn’t mind being alone. What I craved most was my immediate family. Not turkey, not dressing, just me and my kids. 

Being alone can be tough on any day yet the holidays can serve as a proverbial diving board, plunging us head first into an inescapable confrontation of how we really feel inside: that little girl that absorbed all of life’s blows. There, it is easy to drown ourselves with the ‘what ifs’ and ‘poor mes’. Each cheerful melody on the radio, submerging our frail inner child deeper into the suppressed darkness, cutting off our breath and compressing our lungs. It’s hard to breathe there. The ability to mask this saddness become an art. We pretend to be grown up on the outside. Yes. Certain songs, events or whatever can set us back even on regular days, but the holidays…they are almost impossible to conceal with a smile. …but you know what? That’s just the devil coaxing us into a pit of self pity using what he knows will hurt us the most. We have to remind ourselves that we all have that inner child, and we all have a right to be sad. God said overcoming our trials would be worth it, yet He never said it would be easy. Our most pronounced growth comes from taking the time to learn about ourselves, connect with that inner self and relearn how we have come to percieve things as a result of our experiences. This process can be downright painful…it’s hard to look that little girl/boy inside of us eye to eye, but we must. Some times we need to do an overhaul on our perception. Change the lens in which were percieve life. Some times we even have to change our surroundings completely, least it drain us of our ability to enjoy even the simplest things in life. We have to do what we must in order to understand how we got to thinking one way before we can redirect that idealogy and start creating new, more fulfilling memories. We have to hold that child inside of us and let them know it’s okay to feel bad.

I honestly don’t think we were designed to be alone. It is natural to long for a closeness with someone, even our families; but in life, that just isn’t always possible. Things don’t just happen because we want them to, we all know that. And some times it’s darkest before the dawn. We were not made to never be sad. We were not built to always hold it in. It has to come out at some point to avoid errupting as anger and hostility. That child inside needs to be held. They DEMAND it. Once we realize the cause of our pain, we can work on understanding it and letting it go for good. We need to enjoy EVERY moment we are given and use each opportunity to make memories, even the simple ones – whether it’s on a holiday or not. We have a right – no, a duty – to allow ourselves to ability to feel and validate even the most painful emotions.  It’s ok to admit that you are hurt. No one has to agree with you or give you permission. No one has to say they are sorry. The key is remembering that we cannot permit ourselves to STAY there. Lay it out to let it go. And I’m not saying you should call your best bud and just start laying out all the boo-hoo’s of your life; we should go to a private place, give our worries, disappointments and fears to God. Let that child inside of us feel what they feel. Give ourselves time to mourn. Tell Him what we are feeling and ask that He help us understand and let go of the saddness. Ask that He just hold us. In time, it will happen. That little child will smile.

So, I guess the bigger lesson life has taught me is that if you fall 10 times, get up 11. Life will continue to try and knock me down, but I refuse to let it knock me out. I will continue to expect things, and when they don’t come true, I will just chalk it up to timing, but I will never give in. I will find the lesson in every trial and make the most of everything opportunity in which a new memory can be created, however trivial it may be. And if that little girl inside need to cry again, I’m just going to hug her, give her permission to cry, and remind her it’s going to be alright. I’ll hold you, and one day, we will both smile again.

 

“If you live your Life fully, you will die only once. But if you are scared of every step, fear will kill you everyday.”~Paulo Coehlo
 
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” ~ James 1:12