My father-in-law’s sudden passing has caused us to be temporarily situated in a golf and beach community in South Carolina. I’d love to share that we’ve been gallivanting about, via golf cart, wearing funny pants, and attempting to be under par, but we’ve not. I’d, also, like to tell you about sand between my toes and shells in my beach pail, but I can’t write about that either. We’ve been doing the sad task that many 50-somethings must do after their last parent passes; settling an estate.
My husband is the only surviving sibling, so the two of us have been handling all arrangements, attending to all legal matters, and sorting through the home that is proving to be a time machine into my husband’s past. I’ve seen has birth announcement, hand written by my mother-in-law 58 years ago. I’ve read a letter from his sixth grade teacher, telling of his kindness and brilliance. I’ve held the picture that won him a beautiful baby contest; a story my mother-in-law often referenced when bragging about how good looking her son was–and still is!
Though this task is in its beginning stages, I’ve sorted through what feels like a million papers and boxed up a plethora of things for donations, sale, and haul away. In spite of the sadness, there’s been a measure of joy in getting to know another side of my in-laws. I’ve read ancient letters from friends, throughout the years, who complimented their ability to laugh and find fun in nearly every situation. I’ve viewed photos of them in their late teens through their early 80s, taken at the various homes they lived in and places all around the world that they visited. No matter the scenery, their smile and their loving gaze was a constant. I’ve shuffled through business plans and product prototypes to discover that they were brave risk-takers. I’ve held my mother-in-law’s wild costume jewelry earrings from the sixties up to my own ears and tried to imagine the crazy parties that she may have wore them to in her younger years.
Oddly, there is a healing in this unavoidable process and a deeper wisdom. In the end, there are things that remain that will tell our stories; most are simple pieces of paper with words or pictures marking milestones, successes, failures, events and memories. There are other things, silly things, like favorite sweaters and worn-out slippers, or eye glasses near a favorite book, or even half eaten bags of potato chips that remind us that we’re all so damned human and habitual.
Love the people you’re blessed to have in your life and reach out to those around you.
We may be down here for another week or so, tying up loose ends before we head back to the cold weather of West Virginia. One of the many silver linings of this entire trip has been enjoying weather in the 70s in February. I wish I could ship some of the sunshine to my northeastern blogging buddies!
As for my disappearance from WP lately, please don’t give up on me! I plan to reappear as things settle down. Hope everyone is doing well. 🙂
Last year, on December 16th, I attended an informational meeting about Optifast at our hospital’s bariatric center. I was nearly 230 pounds and physically miserable. My health was on a downward spiral of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, and limited mobility. My spirit was in even worse shape. In fact, shortly before my first bariatric visit, a silly family conversation about the Zombie Apocalypse* turned pretty serious as each family member was discussing their special skill in defeating the undead. My husband’s years in the Army have given him amazing survival skills, coupled with a sniper-like aim with any weapon available. My younger daughter is super fast, fearless, and strong. Her fiancé is resourceful and also an expert in survival and weaponry. My oldest daughter is cunning, has expert medical skills, and extremely resilient, and her husband is wily, quick and strong. After talking out a few scenarios that slayed more than a slew of zombies, my family turned to me,
“What would you do Mom?” my oldest asked.
“I’m fat,” I replied, “I’d be your diversion.”
With that, their happy conversation ceased and I spent the next hour, promising them that I would get healthy.
Fast forward to yesterday. My oldest I were happily dancing around the kitchen to holiday music with a few twerking songs thrown in, when she reminded me of last year’s Zombie Apocalypse conversation.
“What would you do now, Mom?” she questioned **
I answered with a high, karate-style kick that finished just inches from her head.
“I’d kick their asses!,” I replied with a smile.
With just one year of extremely hard work, I’ve gone from a Zombie’s holiday meal, to the undead’s worst enemy. I’m nearly 100 pounds lighter, am no longer pre-diabetic, no longer have sleep apnea, depression, or high blood pressure. My asthma medication has been cut in half, and I’m physically fit. I’ve met new, wonderful people through my gym and this blog. I don’t fear life anymore, and I’m certainly not afraid of a few zombies!
I feel so immensely blessed this wonderful holiday season. I’m thankful for the love of my friends and family, for my health, and for all of the caring, sweet people that I’ve met here on WordPress. I feel like I know all of you as friends and wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays! ❤ ❤ ❤
*Something that people who have years of advanced education tend to do, along with lengthy discussions of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other various super cool subjects!
As a life-long avid reader, I loved to raid my mother’s bookshelf when I was teenager. Trapped in a crummy marriage and riddled with health problems, my mother had an array of self-help books . Fortunately for me, a good majority of them were about love and positivity. Though I remember my mother as an extremely humorous and loving person, positivity and unconditional love from my father were elements that were often lacking in my dysfunctional household. Because of this, I held the words in purloined books like Dr. Leo Buscalia’s, Love, and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s, The Power of Positive Thinking, especially close and dear. While my classmates were devouring VC Andrew’s latest offerings, (which I’ll admit to also reading), I was a 16 year-old with a stack of bedside books by two older men who wrote about God, love and positive thinking. Being only slightly deeper that most other 16 year-olds, I’m not sure how much of their messages stuck with me. However, these books were written proof that all men weren’t Troglodytes and that there were people whose lives were changed by simply making the choice to love others, love ourselves, and to think positively.
I’m not sure what happened to my mom’s copy of Love, but sometime after her death, I managed to get her copy of The Power of Positive Thinking and it was often the book I fell asleep to during challenging times. At times I’ve thrived on Peale’s suggestions of visualizing success and replacing negative notions with positive ones. Other times, like all humans, I’ve put these thoughts and teachings to the wayside.
Back in 2006, a big deal was made on The Oprah Winfrey Show about Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret.I usually love Oprah’s book suggestions, so I bought a copy and skimmed it. 2006 was a chaotic year for us, with my daughter’s illness still not fully under control. The Secrets’ message of using positive thinking and the law of attraction to manifest the things you want in your life sort of seemed impossible to me at the time. My copy of The Secret was soon hidden away among my massive book collection.
Then, a few years ago, while scrolling through Netflix, I noticed the movie version of The Secret and decided to give it another chance. While parts of the film were a little campy, the basic message of positive thinking attracts positive elements in our lives reminded me of Dr. Peale’s teachings. I tend to be a positive thinker, by nature, and the film compelled me to not only gratefully reflect on the wonderful things that I already have in my life, but to visualize the things that I want as if I already have them.
My now 81 pound weight loss is proof to me that positive visualization and thinking puts the law of attraction into play. Before I even began losing, I began to see myself at a healthy weight. Day and night, I visualized myself easily climbing stairs and stepping lightly wherever I walked. I pictured myself not winded and my joints not aching from carrying my excess poundage. In my mind’s eye I was trim and svelte. I found clothing easily and when I put it on, it was flattering and comfortable. While exercising, I’d imagine that I looked fit and confident and that I was someone who inspired other people at my gym. Often when I found myself growing tired with still minutes to go on a machine, I’d inwardly recite my mantra, “I’m feeling fit, healthy, energized and beautiful,” over and over until it was all I was focusing on.
My positive outlook with regaining my health, attracted the teachers and people that I needed in my life: a supportive family; a wonderful, dedicated bariatric doctor; a caring weight loss counselor, and an awesomely positive trainer and gym environment. Now, when I look in the mirror, I see the person that I visualized all those months ago. When I run up and down stairs and workout at my gym, I feel the health and vigor that I once convinced myself that I had. The realist in me says my success isn’t a result of “magical thinking.” It was my own hard work at sacrifice that’s gotten me to my goal weight. That may be true, but without m positive attitude and approach, would I have lost my weight so easily? Would I have encountered so many awesome people? I don’t think so.
This past weekend my daughter and I decided to further test the law of attraction by making vision boards to help give focus to the things that we want in our lives. I began my board by making a list of “I am” statements that reflect the elements that I’d like to attract. Using an “I am” statement, puts things in the present and shows that you’re living as if you’ve already met your goal. It might sound a little silly, but it puts lots of good thoughts in your head to replace any negative ones that might attempt to slip in.
Here are my “I am” statements: (They’re not in any particular order of importance)
I am blogging several times each week and writing for pleasure and profit.
I am enjoying continued physical, emotional and spiritual health.
I am enjoying eating healthy foods and exercising.
I am a loving, giving partner in my happy and fulfilling marriage. (this one’s already very true!)
I am showing compassion to others and making a positive change in my family, community, and world.
I am living a life of honesty, and am able to freely express myself.
I am earning more than enough money to enjoy life and responsibly take care of our needs and wants.
I am keeping a balanced budget and spending wisely.
I am finding ways to continue my education, both formally and informally.
I am using my creativity, talents, and people skills to have a stress-free career that feels like a hobby.
I am living in a 3 to 4 bedroom, 2 to3 bath home, that is at least 1,400 or more square feet, with a pool, in a safe flood zone, in the Outer Banks of NC.
I am surrounded by the beauty of nature.
After completing my “I am” statements, I created a board with pictures and memorabilia that reflect my words. Morning and evening, I read my statements out loud and imagine myself in each situation. I’ll wrap things up with some pictures of my board.
What would some of your “I am” statements be? What would you like to manifest in your life? Do you believe in the law of attraction?
My mother called me at college, early in the morning, on the day of her death, to remind me to turn in my financial aid information for my impending senior year. Our conversation was brief and ended with our usual, “I love you,” and little did I suspect that she would turn the final page in the story of our lives together that spring afternoon.
On the separate occasions that my own daughters were presented to me, squalling in their disdain of leaving my warmth, I had already begun the tale of our lives together. I’d nurtured them in utero with good food, music that I thought any developing fetus might love, and stories by Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Margaret Brown and all of my childhood favorites. Becoming a mother, the role that I take most sacredly, made me an integral supporting character in the story of their lives. No matter what milestone they reached, success they accomplished, or heartache they endured, my presence was written firmly on their pages in indelible ink. As my own mother had been the arms waiting to hold me, the ears open to listening, and the words of guidance that I most cherished, I endeavored to be the same for them.
Most of the time our plot was sunny and full of the natural fun and laughter that we all craved. When storms, like heartbreak, illness, or the impulsive choices of the teenaged brain struck, we bolstered in and rode it out together. Though the situations may have differed we were still writing a book that I’d read before.
When my daughters reached young adulthood, I entered into a dauntingly unfamiliar territory. When I was 18, my mother’s terminal illness caused her to weakly hand the pen to me to continue our tale. Immaturity, inexperience, and grief made my version of the story scattered and our plot weak. I veered off into dark subplots and invited in characters that I normally would have avoided. While my greatest supporting character was dying, I couldn’t consult her expertise.
As my own daughters broached 18, I was struck by a foreignness that I couldn’t shake for the first few years. Of course, I was still there, but not in every sense of the way. There were doubts and questions. How do I guide them when they seem so grown? How can I conjure advice that I was never given? Where does my character fit in this scenario? Fortunately, I was driven by the only memory that I had of being their age; needing her. Just simply, purely and fully still needing my mother, no matter how grown I looked, or how capable I mostly seemed, I needed her. Knowing this, aided me in learning my new role. I realized that no matter how adroitly or eloquently they wrote, there would be times that the pen would be handed back to me. I relaxed, I listened, and the advice came as I began to see where I belonged.
This morning, I watched my youngest leave for work. Dressed In smart business attire, she approached this Monday with a bright smile, eager to begin her day as a recently promoted human resources specialist. This past weekend, I was equally impressed with my oldest as she ran at full speed through a local store’s parking lot to help an elderly woman that she’d witnessed falling. While they both still live at home; my youngest saving money as she waits for her fiancé to graduate this fall, and my oldest as she finishes her medical school rotations, I am blessed to witness these vignettes. However, I am sometimes struck with the sadness that my mother never got to do the same. At our denouement I was still stuck in conflict without a resolution in sight. I was, at my best, a struggling college junior with a crappy boyfriend, and underdeveloped coping skills. She didn’t see my achievements, advancements, acts of compassion, or the strong capable woman that I am today.
Thankfully, I’ve experienced the growth of my children, from conception to adulthood, in full circle. Gratefully, I have the memory and insight of the faith that I had in their ability to do the right thing even in their darkest of situations. I like to think that my mother was soothed by that same insight and faith in me as she handed me the pen to finish our story. Perhaps, the gift in all of this, the true denouement, is the supreme level of reverence and appreciation that I hold for every miniscule moment, every tiny memory and sequence, that I share with my precious adult children.
What do you hold most sacred? Who are the most important characters in your story?
This week’s Wisdom Wednesday post is happily brought to you by me! I’ve had such a busy week that I wasn’t quite certain what to write about. Then my husband came home from work in a slightly grumpy mood last night, and I had to remind him of all of the things that I appreciate about our home and our life together.
My husband works in one of the wealthiest counties in the country. Every morning,as he winds his way to his office, he passes rolling horse farms, polo fields, and sprawling multi-million dollar homes. Every evening, as he makes his way home, he departs the majesty of wealth and enters back into the dingier world of middle and lower class mediocrity. He pulls his sensibly priced commuter car into garage-less driveway and walks up three unadorned steps to our front door where I usually greet him with a hug and kiss. The house he enters smells of dinner cooking and fresh laundry. It’s warmly lit and comfortably decorated One cat is sleeping on a chair by the front door and the other is curled in his seat as if keeping it warm for his arrival.
Sometimes his day has been good, while other times it’s been filled with a strife that only dealing with the entitled public can bring. It’s on those days that he apologizes for our small house and our crowded life. It’s those days that he insists that I should be living in a house big enough to get lost in; with a pool and a fireplace, and a bathroom for every kid. I reject his apology and deny my desire for the extras that my wealthier counterparts a few dozen miles away may have. I’ve lived in far smaller places without heat, functioning appliances, or even the smallest patch of yard to call my own. I’ve lived without a working car, enough food in my refrigerator, and without enough money to buy a new coat when my old one was falling apart and the winds were howling. Worst of all, I’ve lived without the very thing that my 1,100 square foot home encapsulates; love, family,and security.
I remind my husband that I say a prayer of appreciation every time I load my dishwasher, or do a load of laundry. I remind him that when icy winds blow that our little place stays warm and snug. I remind him that I brim with delight when I sit on the backyard swing with the sun in my face and my toes in the grass. I remind him of the birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones that we’ve shared under our tiny roof. And finally, I remind him that this is the place that I wait for him to come home to me in. I don’t need bigger, better, fancier, or more elegant; I appreciate the home I have, and the life and love that I have in it!
What are you most appreciative of?
***** Attention Blogging Friends! If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom. I welcome writers of all ages and experiences. *****************
It’s finally happened! I saw him! The seasonal celebrity that I’ve been waiting for was posing sprightly on a four-foot pile of snow right in MY front yard this morning. No, it wasn’t Hugh Jackman, because it’s scientifically proven that his mere presence near snow would cause instantaneous melting! 😉 It was none other than the jaunty little messenger of Spring; the Robin. I ran to get my phone to snap a photo, but alas he had taken his flight before my return. Yet, still, I saw him with my own, two winter-weary eyes, and for this I am deeply thankful.
I’m genuinely thankful for lots of other things, too.
The ever-abiding love and support of my husband and children
The sisterly love of my best friend who has been everything a perfect friend could be to me (even when I haven’t been perfect) for most of my life
My cats, who make me laugh every single day
The health and happiness of myself and my loved ones
The appliances that make my life easier (sounds silly, but I lived in an apartment for many years without a washer and dryer or dishwasher)
Shakes to drink :), books to read, art to appreciate, a house to clean
The ability and desire to seek joy and help others
Conversation, laughter and connectedness
Hot tea and good blogs to read
Having a heart too full and a page too short to list everything that I’m thankful for! 🙂
What are you most thankful for on this beautiful day?
(By the way, it’s my weigh-in day. I’ll post my progress this evening after my appointment. Wish me luck!) I’m sorry, I almost forgot to update! I lost 3 more pounds!! 🙂