Collective Hope

In times of collective grief, trauma, and stress, also live moments of hope.

In 2017, I lost my mom suddenly. It seemed as though the world kept moving and had left me behind. The sadness was palpable in every breath and the grief seeped into every conversation. It felt like it would last forever.

And in those moments it did last forever.

And then forever passed.

And I caught glimpses of laughter and memories of – well, nothing, really. It was all the little moments that made the difference and warmed my heart when I needed it.

Like how she would sing to birds.

Like how she loved to take pictures of clouds.

Like how she brought circus peanuts to family potlucks.

Like how she would clean her house but never really finish cleaning. Ever.

Like how she would laugh with me. Listen to me. Hug me.

And also like James and I this morning. We snuggled and chatted. No topic in particular. Just together. Being goofy.

When we look back on this time of collective loss throughout our world and in each of our families, I think this will be one of the pieces James remembers. Goofiness and glimpses of hope.


Years ago, in one of my moments of feeling loss so deeply, I looked at this sunflower in our garden, through weepy eyes, and there it was…

A heart.

A reminder that hope lies constantly within loss. Resilience exists within enduring what feels too heavy. And love moves us forward together. The sadness comes too, but we wrap it with authenticity and love.

Today, wrap yourself in love. Sometimes sad, always, authentic. Love.

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Glimpses of Gratitude

Last weekend we enjoyed some small town living with the Greens. We meandered through the town square, let the dogs frolic at the reservoir, and played football in between cups of coffee.

It wasn’t with my mom and I miss her dearly… But in the losses are also glimpses of gratitude for what I have. And GG and Papa are some of the best kind of people around. Lots of conversation and the occasional fart joke. Good times. Good people. Smelly dogs. Full hearts.

Make Your Own Rainbow

One positive aspect of social media is the ability to feel connected to a loved one after they’re gone.

I can sign in to Facebook and look at my mom’s beautiful face. In a video I can hear her infectious laugh. I can see her dear friends post about her lovely spirit. And I can read posts she wrote herself, imagining her voice as I read.

Today, I looked at her Facebook photos and something stopped me at this rainbow.

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“Lovely little storm just flitted by, dropped a few raindrops on my patio, and left me with a rainbow. I really appreciate the rainbow.” – Debby Susan Mosher 8/10/2016

What a simple and powerful statement.

But life doesn’t always give us rainbows. Sometimes we have to make our own.

So I told my family I was feeling funky today. I needed to be outside and to somehow connect to the energy and space around me.

We went to the dog park.

We drank afternoon coffee.

We rode our bikes.

We had a paint gun battle.

And in all of this, my funk is still slightly there but I can feel a shift in my presence. I can feel a lighter energy on the horizon – maybe after a family snuggle sesh and good night’s sleep.

Perspective is everything. Seeing the storm as lovely and appreciating the moment no matter the presence of rain or rainbow.

And sometimes we just have to make our own rainbows.

Engage in the Moment

I think about my blog throughout the week, looking for moments of meaning, humor, grief, love, and connection. I had found my moment to write about and sat down at 5:30 on a Friday. It was calm and quiet. I was ready to unpack my thoughts and dig deep.

“MA-AAAWWW-MMM!”

[enter James]

“I’m bored! Will you play basketball with me? Puh-leeeez?”

[pull heartstrings with big 8-year-old sweet puppy dog eyes]

“Hey mom”

[enter Miles]

“Can we make dinner together?”

[pull more heartstrings with the fact that my teenager wants to hang out with me]

“You bet guys. Give me some time to work on this and I’ll come get you.”

“Ok.”

[Miles goes back downstairs]

“But I’m bored!!”

“Why don’t you get started and I’ll be down in just a sec.”

[James goes back downstairs]

I stare at the screen I was going to fill with moments and connection.

What the hell am I doing?! Isn’t the whole point to appreciate what you have in the moment? I closed the screen and went downstairs to make moments with my boys.

[commence losing basketball and eating delicious food]

Hours later, I sat down to write. The moment I was originally going to write about will still be there for a future post, but this one took the spotlight. This moment with my boys is what life is all about.

There will be a day when my body will say goodbye to this world… And when that day comes, the most important things my boys remember about me won’t be my writing or my thought process.

They will remember me playing with them.

They will remember me cooking with them.

They will remember me loving them and connecting with them, over and over again.

So, take a moment to look around the room…

Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Breathe in the moment. See the moment you are in. Appreciate what you have exactly as it is. Find one person to connect with – with whom you can give and receive love.

Now go engage in the moment.

Cultivate Love (AKA Valentine’s Day)

I gave my son a job for the day – to be as kind to as many people as he could. We talked about different things he could do:

  • Tell a friend how much he enjoys being their friend.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Help the teacher with something.
  • Thank the lunch helpers.
  • Tell a girl at his table several nice things today (this led into a conversation about how annoying she is and how she threw peas at him yesterday… which led into a conversation about how much she must need love)

Love.

An unconditional caring for another person.

An ability to be vulnerable to another person, to open your heart and your spirit to them without fear of judgement.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.” -Brene Brown

How did my mom cultivate love?

  • She always hand delivered valentine’s to my family.
  • She showed kindness and compassion to kids she worked with who needed it most.
  • She called friends and ask how they were doing.
  • She shared rides, food, or shelter.
  • She hugged with all her being.

“Love is not something we give or get, it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them – We can only love others as much as we love ourselves.” – Brene Brown

Loving ourselves as much as we love others was not something my mom was very good at. She struggled with depression, low self-esteem, and a life that was not how she envisioned it would be. It is also something I struggle with. Isn’t this true for most of us? Why is it so difficult for us to treat ourselves the way we treat others?

So how can I cultivate love for myself?

  • Breathe and be gentle with my expectations.
  • Remind myself that it is ok for my courage to be slow and soft.
  • Drink coffee alone or with company.
  • Sit in quiet appreciation of what I have in the moment and what I have been given in my life – insane pets, wonderful boys, loving partner, crazy amazing siblings, and kind-beyond-measure parents.

My chest feels heavy with sad-happiness today as I reflect on these things and how much they mean to me. I miss my mom dearly. And I am painfully grateful for the love I have and have been given in my life.

Not only today, but every day… How can we cultivate love for others and ourselves?

Be Amazing Today

What your amazing is doesn’t matter. Maybe its a pajama day snuggling with your kid. Maybe its getting done that to do list you’ve been putting off. Maybe its calling your parent, grandparent or loved one.

Whatever your amazing is today, do it. Make your world a nice place to be. And go to bed happy.

Walking Adventures

My usual morning routine involves a walk with James. Sometimes it is just back and forth on the porch, other times he leads me on excursions around the neighborhood.

Today began with our usual walk. We slowly made our way down the street passing sprinklers that misted our faces, saying hi to our neighbor dog, Spike, and talking about whether or not we would see Mr. Grayson, the nicest kitty cat ever, on the next street.

We turned the corner and immediately, Mr. Grayson came prancing down the sidewalk to say hello. James squealed with excitement. They made circles around each other and James pet him as Mr. Grayson brushed up against James. This lasted a good 10 minutes or so.

I coaxed the kitty cat to start walking down the street, cause I knew I wan’t getting James anywhere fast as long as the kitty cat was still around. He followed us all the way down the street walking alongside his buddy, James. James seemed to be talking to him about the things that he saw and every once in a while squealed when Mr. Grayson brushed up against him for a pet.

Mr. Grayson then plopped down on the sidewalk and arched his head back for a good pet under his chin. As I indulged Mr. Grayson with a nice chin scratch, James made himself comfortable alongside him…

I offered James a piggyback ride and told the kitty cat, “Night, night!” James and I began our journey home as he waved good bye to his friend, Mr. Grayson, babbling about his adventure all the way down the hill.

I never know where my walks will lead me when we leave the house, but we always manage to find something fascinating. What a great way to start the day!

Dirt Hill

As a parent, I am constantly reminded of all the little things that make children happy.

Ice cream. Chocolate milk. Marshmallows. Merry go rounds. Swinging. Grass under toes. Wood chips. Music – no particular type, just music to move with. Reading the same book over and over and over again. Being outside. Being the leader. Walking. Running. Rocks. Bath time. Noises, lots of noises. Sirens. Firetrucks. Animals, absolutely any kind of animal. Climbing stairs. Friends – meeting another person their same size. Watching you make silly faces. Looking at themselves in the mirror.  High fives. Peek-a-boo. Tickles. Kisses. The list goes on and on.

Last night, James found a small incline of dirt that seemed in his mind to be a mountain that he was running down. He spent several minutes walking up and down this hill, smiling with accomplishment at the bottom. Some of my friends commented on how nice it is to be so intrigued with something that it brought you complete joy. That’s one of the many wonderful things about having children. It gives you a chance to see the world through a new perspective, through eyes that see everything as something extraordinary.

Like the rain today. James stands at the door licking the cold glass and watching the rain fall. His dirt hill is mud today, but that’s okay. He’d probably think that was amazing.

Woodchips

Two months ago I began a new chapter as a stay at home mom who is learning what it means to be herself again. Perhaps it is a reinvention of me, or shall I call it a discovery – of who I used to be, who I am, and who I would like to be. A journey to notice the little things that matter and take the time to enjoy them with myself, my family and others.

Yesterday I spent the morning with my youngest son at the park. He spent much of his time walking up and down arched bridges, picking up woodchips from one location and purposefully placing them in another. Sometimes he would replace a woodchip if it seemed to be falling through the cracks or simply not where he preferred it to be. Other times he would just throw it off the bridge.

I watched him do this for a while as I thought of myself and my current journey. Life is simply the discovery of woodchips and the choices we make of where to place them. We may move them when and where we choose, but it takes energy to bend down, balance to stand back up, and perseverance to walk across the bridge to place it elsewhere.

My son then pushed all the woodchips off and watched them fall. He smiled as though he just did the funniest thing ever. I smiled back and he continued on with his woodchips.

So hello world. I hope you find these words inspiring and honest. You may notice a woodchip missing or placed elsewhere, but don’t worry. I am simply discovering and reorganizing.