Life Goes On

I’ve been absent for almost a year.  Life went on, but I feel as though I was just wandering through and not paying as much attention as I should.  It’s coming up on what would have been my mom’s 76th birthday this week, and almost the one year anniversary of her death.  I look back and see all the wonder that she bestowed in my life, the skills and abilities to survive.  And thrive, if I put in the effort.

It’s been hard.  The stress of it all exacerbating my Fibromyalgia causing me additional aches and pains.  And in the midst of it I realized that the pain meds, the short acting opiates, that had been helping me in the past had ceased to be affective.  In this western world of medicine I live in I knew it would be tough to get my team of doctor’s on board with my desire to stop taking them and so I circumvented them altogether.  Tapering myself off little by little like I knew they would have me do if I had included them in my decision.  It took 10 weeks, with bouts of nausea and light headedness throughout but when I came out the other side I felt clear-headed for the first time in years.  Some of the forgetfulness that I’d always attributed to my Fibro lifted and I was able to focus on my life, on what I wanted.

The first thing I had to do was to begin learning all over again how to pace myself.  Accept that I can’t go full throttle all the time, heck even most of the time, but I could move forward if I paced myself.  Little by little my house is becoming the home I’ve dreamed of.  My involvement in Joey’s world has tripled, now not only volunteering at the school, but with Cub Scouts, and Daisies for my niece to be a part of the girl power movement, and baseball.  This year I stepped back, we stepped back, and instead of coaching and managing we are simply parents rooting our son in a pastime that’s overflowing with fun.

I still find myself plagued by pain on a daily basis but it’s no better or worse without the pain meds.  The only real difference is that I feel as though I’m taking my life back and making it into what I want it to be.  In total, family.  It’s what’s most important, the one thing that brings me constant joy and that is not something I just want to coast through.  I want to be devoured by it, immersed in all it’s juicy details.  So far I’m being pretty successful in that pursuit and it suits me to perfection.  I’m back to dating my husband again and going on random adventures with Joey and in doing so, life goes on.

What or Who am I?

This topic comes up for me all the time and it is confusing to me. “What do you do?”. How does one answer that when they are a Homemaker – I’m a chauffeur, a cook, a baseball manager, a sometimes writer, a teacher, a laundress, a domestic engineer, etc. I am not one thing so how does one fill in the blanks or do I just leave the space empty? I mean seriously it is a confusing question. When I answer Homemaker people generally follow-up with “But what do you do?”. What do they mean by that? Is Homemaker not enough? I am raising the next generation. I’m teaching how to be a responsible and kind individual. I am exposing my son to new opportunities and adventures. I am his personal cheerleader. Do I get paid for all I do? The answer to that question is no, not if you’re talking financial compensation but I do not feel that devalues what I do. By the way I do get compensated by my husband and son with acknowledgment and thanks for what I do which I appreciate very much.

At the same time my son is always asking me why I don’t work like Daddy. WHAT? I explain to him over and over that I do work and contribute to our household. I make his life simpler and his Dad’s to. I contribute to my community by helping out in the little league and volunteering at his school when I feel up to it. I also just signed up to be a Daisy Troop Leader with the Girl Scouts – Heart of Central California even though I don’t have a daughter. I do this to contribute to my community, to help the girls in that community grown into the best version of themselves.

As for money, I too contribute financially even though I’m disabled. I’ve worked continuously, often at multiple jobs, since the age of 12. Is it by design that I had to go out on disability when I was only in my mid 30’s? No, it is not a choice I would have made but I’m making the best of it and the silver lining to my predicament is that I get to be a stay-at-home mom to my son.

So am I just a homemaker? Yes and no as I am so much more than the sum of my parts. What do I do you ask, I LIVE, I BREATHE, I LOVE.

A Grateful Heart

My friend Jill posts each day on Facebook a fortune cookie quote. Todays fortune by Melody Beattie really resonated with me as it read, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” I have found this to be so true and yet it is not something I just automatically do. I have to really tune in to being grateful for all I have to notice the small things that make my life that much sweeter. One example of this is that each morning during the week, without fail, my husband brings me a hot cup of tea. Doesn’t take a lot of effort and he probably doesn’t think anything of it, he just simply does it because he knows how much I enjoy it and that it starts my day off on the right note. I always say thank you but I don’t always savor the act and his generosity of heart in doing it and that is where I miss the opportunity to acknowledge my gratitude. This is something I’m really trying to work on as it will not only benefit my life but those around me as well.

Our hearts are full of good fortune

Our hearts are full of good fortune

I believe gratitude is infectious. When I see people exhibiting their gratitude it makes me sit up and take notice, of the act they are grateful for as well as the acts in my own life that I need to be grateful for. Last night my son came to me while I was on the computer and exclaimed, “Momma I set up a whole war in my room using all my guys. Will you please come see?”. I was busy, trying to get some things done but the light in his eyes drew me in and so I responded in the positive that of course I would come. The smile that lit up his face was worth a million bucks to me. We wandered into his room and sure enough he had the massive green army on one side and the smaller beige army on the opposite side of the plastic bob-wire fence, tanks at the ready and the green army’s jet ready to take flight. It was pretty impressive I have to say. He explained to me why he’d set up each area as he did, what he thought was sure to be the outcome of the war, etc. I was so impressed by his creativity. I laid down on the floor and said, “Let’s go… it’s war!” and started to pick up my beige guys (of course I had to let him have the huge green army since they are his to begin with) and attack his green ones. His joy was evident and soon I was under siege and getting massacred by a multi-force attack. The bob-wire fence was being mowed down by his tanks, the jet was swooping in and knocking my guys right off their feet and wouldn’t you know it just when I was down to two guys in swooped another force from the hallway with an alien orb that took out both our armies… it was Daddy. I guess he couldn’t stand all the fun Joey and I were having and just had to get in on the action. My heart was full with gratitude for the familial moment in time and the love and camaraderie we were sharing. It’s moments like this that I want to take stock of, to hold in my heart, and to be grateful for on a daily basis.

I used to keep a gratitude journal at one time when I was very depressed just to help me focus on whatever joys may have been present in my day. Some days were much harder than others to realize and acknowledge five things that I was grateful for but what I found was that there were always at least five when I really took stock of my day. It might have been something as simple as the sun shining that day, or a phone call from a friend. It could have been an unexpected card in the mail with $20 telling me to have lunch on them or to treat myself to a new book. It didn’t matter really what it was so much as my ability to see it with clear, unobstructed eyes and heart. I often think that I need to take that practice back up, to jot at the end of each day five things that have touched me in a positive way that day. I know when I do this that indeed my denial can turn into acceptance, chaos can become order, confusion is transformed into clarity. I know that gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, and a stranger into a friend and I for one am very grateful for the ability to be able to acknowledge that and to make sure it is implemented in my life. How will you acknowledge all that you have to be grateful for today?

Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been giving RAK’s a lot of thought lately. In reflecting on my own blessings during the month of November I’ve come to realize how my family, friends and even strangers impact my life in small and BIG ways. This has made me realize that I to have the opportunity to bless others and have decided to start now and work my way through 2014 seeing just how many RAK’s I can accomplish. My family will be joining me on this adventure whether they truly realize it or not.

This past week I’ve been happy to provide a Thanksgiving meal to my husbands cigar supplier, and more importantly friend, Pedro. Pedro is an awesome old fellow from Cuba with many stories to tell. He’s a master chess player and has not only taught my husband how to play a good game of chess over a cigar or two but is working to make Joey a champion player as well. He enjoys spending time with my boy so much that literally he closes his cigar lounge to any smoking while Joey is there. His family recently relocated to other parts of the U.S. and he has been left to his own devices. He owns a small cigar shop in Carmichael, CA and basically lives and works in a 2-block area. We tried desperately to get him to actually come to our home to join us for Thanksgiving but as he’s not comfortable leaving his 2-block comfort zone we couldn’t convince him to do it so the next best option was to bring a plate to him. Of course it gave my hubby a good opportunity to pick up another cigar to two as well so it was win-win in his mind. I’m hoping that before 2014 is over that we’ll actually get him to come to more of our family events as we’ve adopted him whether he realizes it or not.

I was able to score a few hours to myself the other day and decided to go shopping. I managed to get a good deal or two on several toys for the Toys for Tots motorcycle ride that Larry and Joey participated in on Sunday. They looked so cute, Larry dressed up in a full Santa suit and Joey with his elfin ears and hat with jingle bells. The guys got to spend 4 hours with other motorcycle enthusiasts and the children in our community benefitted with thousands of toys being donated, along with cash donations, to make the holidays a little more cheery.

Santa and his Elf getting ready to deliver some toys.

Santa and his Elf getting ready to deliver some toys.

Joey the Elf show a little love to Puff the Christmas Dragon.

Joey the Elf show a little love to Puff the Christmas Dragon.


Santa securing his load.

Santa securing his load.

I was also able to shop for Larry’s tree angel that he selected from the tree at his office. She had requested a sweater and I found the softest one for her in a beautiful charcoal grey. That was all she asked for but I think I’ll pick up a few more items just to round her gift out and make her holiday a little more joyful.

On Saturday we, along with my in-laws and some friends, went to the Eskaton Care Facility and sang Christmas carols for my Mom and the other residents who wanted to participate. We may not have been in tune on all the songs but it made no difference going by their smiles. Joey, his cousin Elsa and their friend Ari handed out Christmas cards that we’d all signed. When we finished singing I went to the rooms of the residents who are bed ridden and gave them a card and chatted with each of them for a while. It’s amazing how such a small act can brighten someone’s day. I’m going to try to come up with a few other things we can do with the residents over the next several months since this one was such a smashing success. I’m thinking I’ll take my two dogs next, dressed up in their holiday attire, and do some visiting with those residents who like to hang out, talk and pet the dogs.

Joey and I are going to be making up some pre-packed bags for the homeless that we come across on our daily adventures. Not anything extravagant but items that are needed. We were thinking of tooth brushes with a tube of toothpaste, a bottle of water, some gum or mints, gift cards for some our local fast food restaurants, that kind of thing. We’ll also be donating to Joey’s school food drive, the 680 Sock Drive, and providing a coat for one individual to help them get through the coldest days.

If you have any suggestions for RAK’s that I can do, or that we can do as a family, I’d love to hear about them. Who knows, maybe one you suggest will be our next project and I promise to post photo’s of all that we do over the coming months. In the meantime I’d like to ask each of you how you can make an impact, big or small, to bring a little pleasure to the life of another. If you choose to do some RAK’s yourself we’d love to hear about them.

Live Simply

I saw this cute story on FaceBook and it really resonated with me so I thought I would share.

WHY DO DOGS LIVE LESS THAN HUMANS? ANSWER OF A 6 YEAR OLD

This story Melt My heart I wanna Share it ! Must read .

It's the simple things in life that matter.

It’s the simple things in life that matter.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.”

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try to live.

He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued, ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like: When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. Take naps. Stretch before rising. Run, romp, and play daily. Thrive on attention and let people touch you. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you’re not. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently. ENJOY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

Author : Unknown

Is that not perfect or what. So simple and yet so true, at least from my perspective. I’ve never had a dog that didn’t live joyously and in fact have never met a dog that didn’t live that way even when they’ve been beat down and mistreated. Seems to me they still had time to be kind, to find joy in simple pleasures, and to wag their tails. I think this 6-year old boy is very wise and I for one intend to take his observations to heart.

42 Life Lessons

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I felt like writing today but my energy didn’t so instead I’m posting the words of another writer I just discovered.

These words of wisdom were written by Regina Brett – pictured obove, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, out of Cleveland, Ohio.  To celebrate growing older she once wrote a column titled, “42 Lessons Life Taught Me”.  It is the most requested column she’s ever written and since this is the first time I’ve heard of it (via FB) I’m passing her words along to you as I thought they were seriously worth contemplating.
 
1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
 
12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come…

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.
 

To America from a Teacher

To America from a Teacher.

This post really made me sit up and take notice. I have wonderful friends who have chosen to dedicate their lives to the teaching field and for all their efforts they get very little satisfaction as their hands are tied by political manueverings, restrictions on how and when they can communicate with their students, the money available to bring life to their lesson plans… and the list goes on. Each of them sacrifice time for themselves, for their families, just so that they can give their students the best learning, not to mention life, experiences out there. For each and every one of them I give my profound thanks and only wish I had a magic wand that I could wave to bestow on them salaries equal to if not greater than our athletes and actors, funds for rounding out their students learning experiences to go back in time to include art, music, and culture once again along with the reading, writing, and arithmatic.

I have been so blessed to have awesome teachers my whole life. From kindergarten to some college and technical school I can honestly say that I’ve maybe had one bad teacher in the whole mix. 40 years later I still have fond memories of some of them, the gifts they bestowed on me like a love of reading, travel, curiosity of world events and that’s just barely scratching the surface.

So today, my blog salutes all those wonderful teachers who enrich our lives by loving and teaching our kids so well and at so many different levels.