Friday, January 22, 2016

The B Team


You often hear how hard it is to be a girl in our society, but you rarely hear people talk about how hard it is to be a boy today. While I may not be a boy, I can tell you as the mother of TWO boys, it's no walk in the park. I have found that it's easier for those boys that are naturally physically gifted with speed, size, or agility in sports. You know the ones:  they have amazing hand eye coordination, awesome aim, and are blessed with strength. These boys are popular and most boys want to be just like them.

There's a lot of pressure to perform at sports. We've all read articles on youth sports and the coaches and parents that are ruining it with the amount of pressure they put the kids under to "win win win." I'm sure I'm guilty of doing it at some point as well. I also understand that being good at some sports can help your self confidence, but what happens to the kids who have a love and passion for sports, but aren't as good? What happens when your kid is just mediocre at sports? What happens when your tween really starts to understand that he's not as good as some of his best friends are at sports and because of that they start to grow apart? How do I explain to my son that ten years from now, whether he plays for the A team or the B team won't matter, when right now, this is all that matters to him? How do I stop him from putting so much pressure on himself?

You see, I have two boys: one with the passion for sports and a mediocre skill level, and one with the natural skills but very little passion. Yikes. That doesn't help matters. It's hard for the brother with the passion, to watch the brother that has the natural skill. My son was born with a love of playing sports. Baseball, kickball, dodgeball, basketball, football, golf. He loves them all. He's anxious though, and the pressure to perform at any sport stresses him out. So much so, that he has performance anxiety before every game regardless of what sport it is. Take basketball for example. He loves the game and loves to play, but he gets so nervous to be on the court, to have all eyes on him, and to perform, that he mentally freezes up and most often misses the shot. His mind gets the best of him every.single.time. It's frustrating as a parent to watch. No matter how much we yell and cheer from the sidelines, no matter what the coach tries telling him, he can't hear us because the thoughts of, "I have to make a shot or the coach won't play me", or "If I don't play good today, my friends will be mad at me", drown everything else out.

At games when my son misses the shot, or strikes out under the pressure, I take a breath knowing that while he may not be the best best athlete, he's certainly not the worst either. He's a good person who is smart, kind, and genuine and will someday make a great husband and father. I have no doubt that my son will turn out to be an amazing man, but for now, it's just hard for him to be a boy.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Being motherless is weird

This is the first Christmas I will be spending without my mom. I haven't really let myself think about it. At all. Whenever the thought of it crosses my mind, I immediately make myself think of something else. That's my way of outsmarting my grief. If I don't let my self think about it, the pain will somehow disappear. Thanksgiving came and went. That was her favorite holiday. I didn't let myself think about her then either. I didn't want that lump in my throat busting loose. It's so weird that life just goes on after someone dies. I know I know, it's supposed to, but it's....weird. They're here one minute, gone the next. And you're supposed to just keep on going. The circle of life, right? The past few months since I watched my mom struggle and take her last breath, I've learned that grief doesn't flow neatly from one stage to another; it has multiple layers , fluctuating cycles, and lots of ups and downs. My mom will cross my mind at the most unexpected times (like last week at a restaurant), and suddenly I feel that all to familiar lump in my throat start to swell and I can feel a "grief attack' coming on. The thing is, I can't allow myself to cry~ not in a public place anyway, so I swallow that lump in my throat thinking I'll save it for another day, another place, another time; only I don't. It's weird.

Part of the hypnotherapy I'm doing, is allowing myself to feel my feelings. That means, meditating and reliving the moment my mom took her last breath, and feeling my way through it, instead of stumbling my way through it in shock, which is what is did. So I'm trying to do that. Okay, that's a lie. I mean I will try to do that.....someday. After her death I tried to stay busy all the time, avoiding the painful and exhausting work that grief is, hoping that time would eventually heal me. That worked for awhile, until I started planning for Christmas. When we were little, my mom busted her ass (and her bank account and credit) making sure we had wonderful Christmas memories. And just like that, the lump in my throat is back. We may not have been the two closest people, but "Home is where the Heart Is", and even though my kids are my heart and home now, my mom was "my home" most of my life.  I would call her every Christmas morning just to make sure I was making her stuffing recipe just right. After all, when I was ten, she's the one who taught me how to stuff and cook a turkey. She would also make the gravy every year too~ and she would always season it just right. I'm not making stuffing or gravy this year. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite capable of making those things, but it was her thing~ it's what she always did. It's weird.

Life is weird. It's weird that my mom is dead. It's weird that my father and my in laws will be here for Christmas, and not my mom. It's weird being motherless. That lump is back. I'll get to it another day, another time, another place. I have Christmas cookies to bake, presents to wrap, errands to run...lumps to swallow.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bye bye baggage!

When most people think of hypnosis, they usually imagine someone swinging a pocket watch in front of a person while saying something along the lines of, "You are getting sleepy... your eyes are feeling heavy" or something like that.  I remember watching the Carol Burnett show as a child and there was an episode where Carol was hypnotized and every time a bell rang, she would begin to cluck like a chicken. To my nine year old self, it was hysterical. That's what I grew up thinking hypnosis was~ all a stage performance.  I couldn't have been more wrong. Over the past few months I have been delving into every holistic type of healing there is. You name it, I've probably tried it. Holistic healing is right up my alley. It combines the spiritual (that I'm totally in to) with the physical healing (that our bodies were created to do). Holistic medicine treats the whole person~ physical, spiritual, and emotional. Many times, the emotional baggage we carry around (whether we're aware of it or not) is what makes us sick, sad, tired, causes pain, anxiety, depression, weight gain, addictions, and more. I've done acupuncture, cupping, reiki, meditation, yoga, massage, emotional release therapy, breath work, Chinese herbs, essential oils, and my absolute favorite, hypnotherapy. I've enjoyed most of them but none compared to how much I love hypnotherapy. (yoga and meditation are a close second) If you haven't tried it, I highly suggest you do.

As a gift, one of my girlfriends bought me "pampering gift" of a session with a woman who does hypnotherapy. She's a gem of a friend. I was excited. I'm always open to trying new things. We joked that I may come out clucking like a chicken. I had no idea what to expect so I went into the session with a completely open and very excited mind. What hypnosis is, is a very deep state of meditation. No wonder I liked it so much! Meditation is one of my favorite things to do. You're actually very aware of your surroundings, however, with the right therapist, you are literally taken back in time. The therapist takes you back to your childhood and you relive and re-experience different events of your life: young childhood, your teenage years, your twenties and so on. You relive all of the emotions from significant events or situations you experienced so that you can work through, and let go of, the feelings and emotions that you felt in a healthy way. It's dumping of baggage you've been dragging around with you since childhood. You know, the emotional scars all of us have to some degree.  It's very intense. On my first visit, I was taken back to when I was seven years old and back in our old apartment. I could literally feel the green shag carpet under my feet and smell the scent of my mom cooking. As emotional each session is, you leave feeling lighter, better, and ...different.

Hypnosis has been the subject of fascination and intrigue and ridicule for centuries. I've talked to people who used it successfully to stop smoking, lose weight and help with depression. I started it completely out of curiosity and to see if it would help me sleep better, and was totally taken with it. So much so, that I've signed up for classes to become a clinical hypnotherapist. Who would have thought? I can't wait for my next session. If emotional scars and baggage are what causes many diseases, sicknesses, sadness, physical pain, anxiety, or in my case, insomnia, then I'm more than willing to say, "Bye bye baggage! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

All You Need Is Love

"The most important thing in life it to learn to give our love...
and to let it come in" ~ Morrie Schwartz

I read somewhere that the most loving and well rounded people are likely those who have known misery, known defeat, known the heartbreak of losing someone they loved, and have found their way out of the depths of their own despair through the power of love. Truth be told, when hard times hit~ and they will~ you can let it destroy you or change you. When I look back over the past ten months, I see the hidden blessings that sustained me. Here's what I see, what I asked, and what I learned:

1) Being loved is the best~ No kidding--I am often consumed with emotion when I think about how much love and kindness I was surrounded by. I've never experienced anything like it. It was as if I was wrapped up and held in a blanket made purely of love. I know that sounds a little corny and over the top, but it's true.  Each thread of the blanket was made up of my husband, kids, friends, family (some of whom I've never met), and strangers. Not many couples can say they have endured what Chad and I have been through. He has walked me, fed me, held me, changed me, cleaned my wounds, held onto me when they removed the spinal tap, wiped my tears, and more. He even shaved his head to match mine. He's a keeper alright. This whole crazy journey has taken us to a whole new level of loving. A level most other couples will never have the pleasure of knowing. We are closer than two souls can possibly be. We are one. And to top it off, my children got to witness their dad tenderly caring for their mother~ a lesson and a memory I hope they carry with them always. If more people loved and allowed themselves to be loved, the world would surely be a better place.

2) The best friends are people who make your difficulties their difficulties, just so you don't have to endure it alone~ Wow. I have the most amazing loving women in my life. They have literally showered me with love (remember the blanket from #1?). They have cooked for me, provided meals for my family, cleaned for me, taken care of my kids, driven me to places, prayed for me, dropped everything and came for me, laughed with me, wiped my tears, and held onto my faith when I no longer thought I wanted it. They call, come over, and text constantly.  I don't just have friendships, I have intense, authentic, deep loving friendships. The love and light of these awesome women sustained me and will continue to sustain me. They have made my life whole and I love them eternally for it.

3) Being a parent means loving your children more than you've ever loved yourself~ The anxiety and fear I felt in and out of the hospital (both times) was never about me. It was about the two people I love most in the world~ my kids. I'm not sure if I fear death, but I know I fear the thought of my children having to live a life without a mother. All of my prayers, were for their sake. It was my love for them that kept me going, and keeps me going everyday. I'm more calm and gentle with them. I have a deeper appreciation for being a parent. Every moment counts (as cliché as it sounds) and I'm very mindful of that when I'm with them.

4) Letting go is lovely~ When I hear or read what other people complain about it makes me cringe. She wasn't nice to me; she didn't treat me they way I think I should have been treated; I need to lose weight (says the 110 lb woman); I had a terrible day because I sat in traffic for 2 hours...  What I have been able to do since this journey has started, is really let go of pettiness.  I was given an appreciation for my life that most people will never have.  I'm too excited to be alive, almost healed, feeling good, and headed for the light, to harbor any grudges, worry about petty things, or hold onto anger or sadness. I have so much to live for and to do; so many people I want to help, and so much love to give back.

5)  Is God real?~ The past few months had me questioning whether or not God was real, and if he was, who, what, or where was He? Lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV, and hearing that I would need a second operation, I seriously considered the possibility that I was trapped in a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from. I told myself that if there was a God, he clearly forgot about me and everyone else that was suffering. I prayed and prayed for a miracle. I didn't get what I wanted when I wanted it. Instead I got so much more: I got wrapped up in a lot of love, kindness, and compassion. There are hidden blessings that come with every hardship such as strength, wisdom, empathy, or openness to a deeper spiritual awareness. Perhaps I tried to fit God into a mold of what I thought He should be. I'm still not sure of what or where God is, but I don't think life is a cosmic accident that by chance implanted us in outer space. The fact that the seasons change, the sun continues to shine everyday, and things like kindness, love and compassion exist tells me there is something greater out there that set everything into motion. When I look back at when I was walking through the darkness of this year, there are sparkles of light everywhere. I was just too wrapped up in my own thoughts to see it then. Maybe those sparkles were in fact God. He was there all along; sustaining me. He worked through my awesome husband, and my loving and beautiful friends and my family. When I had insomnia, it had to have been Him who gave me strength to get out of bed and keep moving. How else could I have done it? Maybe He wanted to heal my broken soul (which He did with an abundance of love) before He healed my broken body. Who knows? All I do know is that I believe in something greater.

So am I thankful that I had to go through what I've been through? I don't know about that. But I am thankful with what I have~and that's lots, and lots, and lots of L.O.V.E.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Forever changed

"Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away, or don't show up at all; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.”    

We’ve all experienced at least one of them. Those earth-shattering moments that turn your world upside down in less time than it takes to say, “hey, that was unexpected.” Sometimes, the changes that come from these moments are good... and at other times, they’re bad. The kind of bad that leaves you struggling to get out of bed in the morning, because you just don't know how you'll make it through another day. Sometimes those bad moments keep coming, and coming, and you have no time to recover from one moment before the next one comes and knocks you down....again.  I have had my share of  those "moments" this year. 2015 has And while I tried to stay composed and strong on the outside, it turns out that I was all kinds of broken, and sad on the inside.

Here's what my 2015 has looked like: In January, both of my children were diagnosed with a serious heart condition; in April, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor; 15 days after I was diagnosed I found myself in the middle of the night, sitting alone in a hospital room watching my very young mom, the woman who gave me life, suffer and struggle to take her last breath in this world... and then die right in front of me (holy shit, that was painful); in August, I underwent a 7 1/2 hour brain surgery to remove the brain tumor (which was benign thankfully~ but I was left permanently deaf on the left side), I then had occipital neuralgia pain/nerve damage from my head being screwed into a vice for so long during surgery (wow! that was excruciating, but is almost healed thankfully), and now I am dealing with terrible insomnia. Seriously. I can't get a fucking break. I can go days without any sleep. I healed physically from the surgery only to turn around and now deal with this shit. You know what happens when you don't sleep? Ugly things happen when you go days and days with zero sleep. A little thing called anxiety creeps in and begins to feed off the insomnia, and together they take you into the deepest, darkest depths of your soul. A place you've most likely never been to. A lonely place. And you know what you find when you're there inside your soul? You find yourself; your true self. The core of who you really are. Whether it's good, bad, happy, ugly, or sad, it's there. That's exactly what I found: a girl who was strong...yes, but also heartbroken, in shock, sad, exhausted, angry, scared, overwhelmed, and faithless.

I was neck deep in the shit, dirt, and grime and bruising of what 2015 had done to me so far and knew I needed help getting back up. But from who? God and I aren't exactly seeing eye to eye, and I can't call my mom.  I was completely broken wide open with all my crazy anxiety, sleeplessness, and hurt oozing out. It takes a special kind of person, a special kind of friend, whose not afraid to get dirty. Someone who won't judge you. Someone who "shows up". Someone who  recognizes when you’re up to your neck in that dark, tired, ugly, shitty place and they roll up their sleeves, and put on their mud slinging boots, bring a shovel, and walk right directly into the middle of that dirty dark place with you. They see you for who you really are, what you are going through, and choose to love you anyway. They are willing to walk with you through the muck and the mud, and to hold onto you so you don't drown in it.

You really find out who your tribe is...who your "people are"... and the definition of what "love" is, and what a "friend" is, in your darkest hour. Too often, we shy away from vulnerability in our darkest moments because, somehow, it has come to be regarded as the opposite of strength. But the truth is that if you can allow your pain, anguish or suffering to be fully revealed in a safe space, then your experience becomes so much more authentic. This in turn makes your personal insights deeper, your connections with others (and yourself) more truthful and your eventual healing more profound. In my vulnerability, I found my tribe. I have the relentless love of my husband, and on my doorstep this week I had some very special and beautiful women~ my pillars of light as I call them, who literally dropped what they were doing day or night, and showed up on my doorstep, shovel in hand, and walked directly into that dark shitty place and met me there. They aren't afraid to get dirty and to see me where I'm at. They chose to love me at my lowest~ my sleepiest and my messiest. They are going to help dig me out.

I have a whole new respect for people who suffer from insomnia, anxiety, grief, physical pain, sadness, and fear. 2015 has given them all to me. I, too, know what's it's like to walk through the darkness. I'm not the same person was ten months ago. I'm different. My soul is different. My being is different. I'm forever changed. 2015 broke me in half...and I have to accept that.  I have to be okay with not being the same person I was. If you're not okay with that or if my brokenness makes you uncomfortable, that's okay. We weren't meant to be in each others lives. Once I can admit that sometimes in life, everything is not "fine", only then, with the help of my tribe, can I set my intentions and begin to heal...and hopefully sleep, and again be made whole.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Everything You Go Through, Grows You

"Ancient cultures understood the dark night of the soul as a time of transformation. A time of great personal growth. A time when personal strength is tested and the knowledge you've gained over your life thus far, is drawn up from the depths of your being and utilized." 

2015 has been the hardest year of my life, and it is only half over. What I have come to discover since the clock struck midnight on New Year's is that struggles are a part of life. We all know that, right? Most struggles can't be avoided and come at you without warning and plow you over like an eighteen wheeler. Everyone has some sort of battle, whether big or small . Change happens. Shit happens. Everyone has a battle. The thing with struggle is, is that it can change you, if you allow it. The big thing this dark year has taught me is that sometimes things need to fall apart completely before they can truly fall together. It's looking for, and embracing little moments of joy during the darkest times that helps us through. It's having the strength to reach for, and to hang onto, the smallest spark of light and hope, even when we feel broken open and scared. It's showing me to surround myself with only people that speak "light" to me. What I mean is that, if you are not for me, than I won't make room in my life, or my home, for you. Period.  

I read somewhere that the most amazing gifts, and lessons and experiences in life are sometimes found under the clouds. My job is to stay open, and to look for those moments of joy, and to receive. I can't receive if I surround myself with negative, passive aggressive soul suckers. If your that unhappy in your life that the only pleasure you have is taking small subtle diggs at someone else, or completely ignoring someone that is hurting, that's your problem. Your issue. Not mine. There is a quote on Pinterest that says: Some people won't like you just because your strength reminds them of their weakness ~ don't let their hate slow you down. It's true. I really believe that there are some people in the world who would like nothing other than to watch. you. fall. I now try to avoid these people at all costs~ family and acquaintances alike. My health and well being, as well as the health and well being of my kids, depends on it. 

Life is way too short to be around anyone that sucks the life out of you or anyone overflowing with negativity. 2015 is painfully showing me what truly matters. One day you are fine, and the next, you have a sick mom in need of a miracle, a brain tumor, little boys with heart conditions, and many many doctor's appointments. Next thing you know, your mom is dead, there's brain surgery, and still little boys with heart conditions. When my mom died, she took a piece of my soul with her. In its place she left with me the gift of forgiveness and grace. Those gifts, her gifts, have allowed me to continually forgive those who (in their own pain) have said hurtful things to me, and have also given me the strength (and choice) to not surround myself with those types of people anymore. I can forgive you, but I can't fix you. I can't grow in the light if I surround myself with your darkness. When I'm having a hard day or moment, I need people who will fill me with light and kindness. Some people simply love misery. It's their comfort zone. I get it. I'm not one of those people. That's not who I ever want to be.  My glass isn't half empty~ it's three quarters of the way full. Happiness is a choice. Being grateful is a choice. Finding joy is a choice. Despite everything I am going through, I'm a far cry from miserable. I am surrounded everyday by so much love and joy. The love of my husband, the never ending amazing love of my children, the love of my wonderful light filled friends that are really angels in disguise, and the relentless love of a God, that I walked away from and gave up on a few months ago. I have so much to be thankful for, and I refuse to let go of that.