Monday, February 25, 2013

Perfect Moment Monday-SNOWBALLS

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.
On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.


This month we have had actual snow! Inches of it.  Now a little background, I lived in Texas for nearly ten years and I whined and moaned and groaned every winter that I missed snow and seasons!
Therefore, I do not complain of snow.  In the past four years, it has become somewhat of a joke in my family because Texas has had more snow than we have had!  We even had a record number of days without snow here in Chicago. 

Well a week or so ago, we got about 6 inches of snow. We were not going to miss the opportunity to enjoy the cold white stuff.   While I was outside shoveling, Munchkin was feeling well enough to come out and help me.   Well, his "helping" turned into the two of us playing.  I decided it was more fun and far more important to play with him-he will be grown soon enough and not wanting to play with Mommy!

For 20 minutes, it was glorious.  I showed him how to make snowballs, and we threw them at each other.  Laughing, and running around, Munchkin was all smiles.   We then built a mini "sled hill" and he had great fun "sledding" down it.

It was absolutely priceless to be able to just stop and throw snowballs.  To listen to his laughter and just generally have fun with Munchkin!  When we were cold, we went inside and made some hot cocoa-topped with whipped cream.   Sometimes, the best moments are those that just happen.   I hope that as Munchkin grows older, he finds joy in the memories that we make together.  

Simple Joys

Talking to a friend the other day, he asked me what was new. I said with a big triumphant announcement that I.HAVE.A.SLOP.SINK! He looked at me like I had two heads. It's all about finding joy in the little things I told him.

Munchkin managed to get something red all over a the routine cleaning of the never ending laundry pile. I realized something. I have a slop sink. It made me laugh and then smile. For the first time in my grown up life...I have a REAL laundry room.

Now, this may seem strange. Living in Texas, I had become accustomed to doing laundry in a sauna (cough) I mean garage. Yes our washer and dryer were in the GARAGE. That meant that when it was 120 in the shade, I was doing laundry, not in the air conditioning, but in the heat. It also meant that Robert had equal access to the washer and dryer and it was not unusual for them to be covered in tools and car parts, or full of greasy grimy car towels. (for the record, running simple green in hot water will remove the grime). Now, while I fondly remember these facts now, when I had a full load of laundry in my arms, tripped over the ledge to the garage and discovered the aforementioned state of my washing machine-well let's just say I have a very robust vocabulary of four letter words.

Living in an apartment, while I did have a very nice washer and dryer in our unit, well all of those girly things that get line dried...the only place for my drying rack was in our living room. Really, I'm sure my siblings had more views of my undergarments than anyone needs to see or cares to admit. Oh, and soaking clothes stained with preschool masterpieces-the choices were kitchen counter (all four feet of it) bathroom counter (where munchkin could play with it) or a space on the floor.

So yes,I have a slop sink, my messy boy can get as messy as he wants and I have a place to make his clothes presentable. It is the simple things that make me happy.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

That's what little boys are made of....

Oh what a whirlwind of a weekend! Party at a friends house...time with my brothers, building pinewood derby, baking cuddling and reading!

So at this party...Munchkin learned how to climb the walls....literally. Where did he learn this? Well from his buddies...twins a year almost to the day older than him.

Tonight I'm cooking, and he calls to get my attention and was literally climbing the walls. Now, my first reaction was shock...I mean who does that? BOYS that's who! I couldn't help but laugh! See what THEY taught me mom?

I was overcome with gratitude! I mean, I am just not wired to think of these things. I never would have thought to show him the joys of climbing the wall like a spider monkey. Nope. Never. Reading, spelling, singing, cooking, those covered! I can even discuss gross things like snakes and spiders. Climbing...nope not even on my radar!

The fact that we are surrounded by people that love us enough to accept us still, well it is beyond words. Why do I say still? Because, this is the same family that in 2008 and 2009 graciously welcomed us constantly into their home, listened to my sobs, tears and fears, and they still don't slam the door and turn off the lights :) When I say constantly, I mean constantly. Like almost daily. When I say sobs, I mean the horrible messy sobs that necessitated the husband taking all five kids (their four and my one) outside or on a walk while she sat with me and listened. The ones who answer the phone and texts for help regularly and I'm pretty sure they have never told me no. Did I mention that she is my best friend's sister and I have known her pretty much forever? That my best friend comes up here from 2 hours away and does the same for me. Yep that family. In terms of friends, I know that I have some very rare gems :) The fact that those same people have children that are kind, carefree and well just plain rambunctious boys...even better!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Battle scars

Sometimes the biggest battle scars cannot been seen from the outside. Really, if you were to encounter someone without visible scars, would you know by looking at them, that their life had been ripped apart? That they carry wounds of the heart and soul? Wounds that cut to the very core of their being? That they had survived horror that usually is found only in nightmare? Hmm...nope...

But, battle scars are exactly what they are. Several months ago, I was struggling, a lot, having flashbacks of the accident, nightmare again. When I spoke to a very dear friend of mine (who also happens to be widowed and a licensed therapist) he had some really great thoughts.

He said that sometimes, you have to acknowledge the scars that no one else can see. It can help to "touch" and explore them and then acknowledge to yourself that yes, that was really bad, and damn, that scar still hurts. Most importantly that it is ok to do this, especially when these scars and wounds are fighting for attention in our minds.

At the time, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, I mean really...they are not scars, I walked away from the accident without a physical scratch. Perhaps it has taken me almost five years to admit that I have scars, that I do indeed suffer from battle wounds. Perhaps now, that I have acknowledged the wounds, and really taken some time to explore them, perhaps, now they can heal?

I pray often for strength and for endurance, I don't know at I have ever asked God to heal my heart. I have often relied on the scriptures that promise that God will care for the widows and fatherless children. I have given many of my struggles to Him. At times I feel that there is a purpose in this, perhaps I am meant to share those scars so that others can see that it is possible to persevere? In all honesty that is why I started writing here, In 2008 I was blessed to engage with some widows who were farther along than me...I could see that they were OK-they were surviving and some of them were thriving. Perhaps, by showing my battle scars some of you can see it is possible to be OK?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

in the quiet

Sometimes it is just too quiet.  The silence around me makes the thoughts in my heart deafening.  Usually resulting in tears.  Not the silent dripping down my cheeks tears-but the messy sobbing pain of a broken heart. 

Now, thankfully, these episodes are not daily anymore, not weekly or even any predictable regularity.  I am grateful for that. 

I don't think that the pain has lessened from losing Robert.  I think that I have just become used to the void.  Used to the scars, the empty feeling.  I have chosen not to give my brokenness power over the rest of my life.   I am glad that I have made that choice.  That for the most part I can be in the present moment and enjoying time with Munchkin or completing tasks at hand.  

There are times however, where a memory will reach up and slap me.  At those times, I cannot help but to feel my broken heart.  To feel the pain of losing him.  It is crushing, it is earth shattering and it is horribly unfair.  Those are the times that generally result in the sobbing previously mentioned. 

I have a favorite quote: "Take PRIDE in how far you have come, and FAITH in how far you can go"

I try and force myself to take a step back and realize that even though at that moment, I feel horrible-that I really have come very far.  I am not crying 24/7.  I am no longer paralyzed by memories-and at times I can even enjoy sweet memories.  Nightmares and flashbacks of the accident are no longer constant...and dare I say have faded to few and far between.  So yes, I have come very far in the past few years, so I just have to remember that as bad as it feels at that moment, that it will get has gotten better over time and that it will be OK!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

It takes a village...

A very long lifetime ago there was a book written by Hillary Clinton called "it takes a village".  Here is a confession...I didn't read it then, I still haven't read it now.  But let me tell ya, it takes a village!

In the past week:
--My mom and brother hid valentines at my house for my son to give to me
--my other brother babysat for a few hours so I could go out with some girlfirends
--My Brother in law picked munchkin up from school, took him to TaeKwonDo, fed him and put him to bed so that I could attend a business dinner
--My brother came over before 6 am, got munchkin up, fed him breakfast, made sure he actually grabbed all of his crap AKA homework and carted him off to school on time, so that I could give a presentation at work early in the morning.
--my mom picked up some groceries and then offered to cook them with hers if I could bring by some ziplock bags, I would have frozen meals in my freezer to pull out and serve (Seriously, I have NO CLUE what I am going to do when she retires and moves away!)
-my brother was the second set of hands to reprogram the garage door opener after he changed the battery...seriously, I can't move fast enough to get from the keypad to the door!
-My best friend took the time to give me no less than 3 pep talks on the fact that everything will be just fine
-mom was on chat with me at 10pm at night--way past her bedtime helping me debate to call the pediatrician then or wait until 8 am when they opened (you know the usual spousal support!)

So yes, it takes a village, while all of these things seem insignificant to some people, the sum total of all of the love and support that we recieve, well it is simply amazing. 

I am thankful that I belong to such an amazing family!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Munchkin is five. In my mind, that means his world should be consumed by Legos, dirt, laughter and adventure. My wish has always been for him to be a happy healthy child. In fact, that is my prayer to God every day.

In reality, he understands things that he should not have to. Things like death, and heaven and angels. He understands these things so well, that when a teacher in preschool told him that he was an angel-he burst into tears! He told her he didn't want to be an angel because he didn't want to be dead.

The fact that he can make these connections, well it just plain astounds me, In the next breath, it makes me sad. I cannot control the world around us, and I cannot protect him from knowledge that he shouldn't have at his age, I am fairly certain that none of his peers know what death is, the may have a fuzzy concept of heaven from church but they positively have not lost a parent.

As I navigate our reality and explain things to him on his breaks my heart that we even have to have these discussions. I answer his questions when he asks, openly and honestly while at the same time, asking God to comfort both of us.

Because really, how do you help your child understand the inexplicable challenges that the world has thrown at us, when you as an adult can barely grasp them?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What I want my son to know

Social media has a proliferation of "things to teach your son" post lately. Some of them have been good...some have been laughable. Many of the things, like teaching him to cook and clean and survive on his own, well honestly they go without saying.

I have spent many nights praying that I am enough, that I teach him enough. I worry and pray that raising him by myself won't result in horrific social consequences. I try very hard not to watch late night television that shows all of the ads for the ambulance chasers that convince the world that children without a father are destined to go to jail...

But I focus on what I want him to know.

That he is loved, more than he can ever imagine and won't know until he has a child of his own.

I want him to know that marriage is beautiful, and love is worth it. That his father loved me so much and so well.

That being a man isn't all about being crass, that he really should be a gentleman.

That having fun is great, but it should never be done at the expense of someone else.

That working hard is important and expected, in our family we do the best we can at all times.

I hope that in my singleness, I can still show him these things and more. That in spite of the fact that Robert is dead...these are still things he needs to learn and that I need to teach him.

I pray that I am enough.

Needed Moments

This weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with a girlfriend and a new friend. We laughed and chatted and talked about our kids and families. Somehow, this person that I have known for years, did not know that I was widowed. She did not know of the horror that I have lived through. Both of these women were awed. I shared my story, what happened, how I made some choices and how I got here.

One of them told me that she had so much respect for me. That she always thought that I was strong and graceful, but now she really knew it. She said there was just something so kind about my demeanor that she had always been drawn to. I was floored by the compliment!

The other woman, told me, that she thought that I had been destined to do this. That I needed to "own" my story and use it to help other people. That she truly believed that we all have gifts and things to share and that our lives are entwined for a reason. She spoke of some things in her life and shared that God had a plan for me. I was humbled by this interaction.

Now, I have believed that since the accident. There had to be a lesson for me hidden in this tragedy. I know that there was a reason for me to survive, a reason for this whole experience, I found that by holding onto the faith that God has a plan, I can find peace and comfort in that.

As we were talking, one of the women shared a song with me. "Don't Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia. Now, some of the lyrics are:
Don't worry child, heavens got a plan for you,

I found the song to be mesmerizing. It really spoke to me, to my soul. Here I am, far from home, sitting with two women who are sharing with me exactly what God needed me to know in my soul.

This was such a nice afternoon and an affirmation of the fact that there is a greater plan. God gives us people and experiences that we need to show us we are on the right path. Sometimes, we are just given just what we need to hear!

Taking a Breath

In my industry, conferences are a necessity. Last summer as I was bemoaning all of my travels to one of my aunts, she pointed out that I have some pretty great opportunities to nourish my soul in my travels. Generally I can find two hours when I land or before I leave that doesn't add any more time to my trip to just do something for me. Sometimes I am really lucky and the conference is in an amazing venue. Changing that mindset for me has been transformative. I still don't really like being gone, but I have made a conscious choice to stop and smell the roses so to speak.

This weekend was one of those times. I am an early riser, so I got to enjoy watch the sunrise from the beach before the meetings started. As I sat in the sand looking around me I realized how blessed I am. Munchkin is taken care of having a great time with his uncles and Papa and here I am being able to recognize our fortune. I am able to take thirty minutes to just be and enjoy the sunrise, to feel the cool sand between my toes, to listen to the surf hit the sand, listen to the birds and just relax.

In those thirty minutes I am grateful to be able to count my blessings.

Enjoy my picture of the sunrise over the Atlantic and take a minute to share your blessings.