The uncharted waters of a pandemic

When the cornonavirus first came onto the scene in the USA none of us had a clue how our lives would be changed and for how long we would be living this altered universe nightmare.  As these crazy times roll forward with new information added from officials on a daily basis, the media frenzy of blow by blow gloom and doom of the virus and new mandates that change our basic way of life – I have struggled.  Struggled with what the life I so purposefully built will now look like.  I have struggled with how to protect my children, especially the one of the bunch that is the most vulnerable.  I have struggled with the setbacks of the girls school year and what it will look like when and even if they return to school.  I am sure my struggles are very similar to others in our country.  And I have struggled for perspective – how can i live my best life with the hand I’ve been dealt.  Once again, just like with divorce – I am left to find a new normal – a new way of life.

And to be very honest, I have been resistant to change, resistant to the reality that life as I once knew it is gone forever – I want it back. But just like with all things, after the temper tantrum I throw is over, I try to find perspective on the situation.  And here is what I have come up with.

Life is different, but as I am well aware of – different isn’t always bad – its just different.  Throughout the last 6 months I have gotten to experience the best family quality time ever.  All of my kids have been home (which I love) and because we are stuck at home we have had to make the most of idle time.  Puzzles, nerf wars, cooking, board games, volleyball.  We have had some great times making the best memories.  And oh the spirited debates we have over topics such as Masks, Vaccines, immune systems, Politics, etc.  It offers great comedic relief as we all banter back and forth.

I fully realize how my life would just not be the same without my friends.  They offer so much connection and joy in my life.  And as the old saying goes – absence makes the heart grow fonder – well its certainly true – I miss them dearly and when we do have an opportunity to get together, I can feel the sheer exuberance and excitement of being together even if we are social distancing outside having a conversation or riding our bikes or having a meal together.  I do long for the days when our visits are more frequent and we can see each other more regularly.

Lastly and certainly not least – I am learning to be ok with life at a slow pace, learning to recognize the extraordinary in the simple and small everyday things.  And if life is THIS for the rest of my days – I will grieve a bit for what once was but I will also embrace the beauty in a slow and simple life.  I have also embraced that doing life with a partner like Dean and having a beautiful relationship like we do – makes life in general fun and exciting – even in the simplest of interactions or the mundanes of everyday life.  I have been super focused on getting fit and eating healthy and to have my partner cheering me on and joining me in physical activities such as biking, running, tennis swimming, etc makes life even sweeter.

Just to close…. this virus, economic shut down sucks – don’t get me wrong.  I hate it and empathize with small business owners like me and employees that are now unemployed or furloughed just like everyone else.  I just can’t live in that “Mad at the World” bubble for long.  I recognize it and must find a way of doing life and not wasting anymore time worrying and fretting over what I certainly can not fix.  I will do what we can do for now and enjoy it to the fullest and If at the end of the day back porch afternoons with Dean and the kids is all I have….. then I will gladly take it. (but i am fervently praying that I can resume traveling one day lol)

 

 

Update on Mom

Many of you have asked me about my Mom and how she is doing these days without my dad, so I thought I would pen a post about her.  I won’t lie, at first it was extremely difficult for her and I would imagine she still has her dark days – Death is brutal you know and grief takes you on a long journey of which none of us are equipped for.  And for me it has been heartbreaking and painful to watch her battle that grief – Soulmates and life partners separated by death – it brings tears to my eyes even typing it.

BUT in her difficult journey – adding insult to injury – a Pandemic comes along- one that requires everyone to isolate and quarantine.  Let me just say, that mixture can magnify the grief and the fact that you are alone.  Most would have buckled, given up…. but not my mom. As she says, we come from a long line of survivors!

She has had a resolve within her to continue to live her best life – as she is a young 70 something and has a good number of years left on this earth.  She still works part time, is very physically active and refuses to hire someone to tend to her yard work.  She told me shortly after my dad died that she would not refuse any invitation – if invited she would go – and she has held true to that.  Going to dinners with friends and family, girl trips out of town, and even playing tennis (she is still a beast on the court).  She has even traveled with my family on vacation – even when she knew it wouldn’t feel right – she muscled through it and managed to enjoy herself through her tears.  Even though this has to be the most painful thing she has ever gone through she has kept her spirits high  – she is rebuilding her life and making plans for lots more travel and time with friends (after the pandemic of course).

One silver lining to the pandemic is that life has slowed down for me and my bunch.  I am around more and my littles spend many hours at her house – cooking, sewing, gardening and just chilling with her.  She is even able to see the bigs as they are working from home.

And let me mention my parent’s wonderful friends – that have embraced her, checked on her and invite her.  The community of people they so loved have shown up and continue to do so.  That kind of friendship and loyalty you cannot put a price on.

I am so proud of her – never letting even her grief or coronavirus ever dampen her light, remaining steadfast and positive.  Even finding it within her to encourage others in their times of trouble.

My dad is certainly smiling down on her and I know that he is grateful that she is doing good – not that he ever thought any different – he knew her well!

If you are reading this and you have someone that you know is alone, whether widowed or divorced, reach out – The isolation of all that is going on can be hard.  Let’s pass on some love!  The world definitely needs it.

 

 

 

A New Father’s Day Perspective

I’ve been silent for several months dealing with many things – the Covid stay at home order being front and center. Some good things have come from me being forced to sit still – A lot of family time, soul searching and really dealing with some baggage I carry from my past – as we all do (that’s for another post).   I’ve been quiet on social media as well to just allow myself a little time out of the spotlight.  Life got a little crazy at the beginning of this year but I have emerged on this most important day with something to say.

Father’s Day is forever changed for me.  Without my dad to celebrate I am left to celebrate his memory and I will forever compare the other men in my life to see how they measure up to my dad.  This post focus’s on one important man in my life that is a dad.  Dean…..

Dean and I spent the weekend with his boys at the river.  Throughout the weekend I watched Dean and his interactions with his boys.  I tend to think deeply about small interactions and the seeds that they plant.  And like I said I am comparing Dean as a Dad to my dad.  And here is what this weekend (and everyday life with Dean) revealed:

– Dean Loves his children – authentically and fully loves those boys

– He embraces life with 2 little boys which at times requires you to wear a wrestling referee shirt – as they fight and wrestle – I’m sure as most brothers do.

– He cares about what life lessons he is teaching them and wants them to be grounded in the simplicity of life and not caught up in “things”.  He wants them to learn that experiences are far better than that $50 toy.

– He takes time to teach them about things that boys need to know how to do – such as how to throw and set an anchor on a boat, how to assemble something with tools., etc.  He even takes time to explain the many “why” questions his boys ask – like why is that house left abandoned on the river or why can’t I watch a particular you tube video.  He wants them to understand fully the ways of the world.

– He not only loves his boys – He loves my children – all 4.  He makes it a point to have positive interactions with each, especially my littles.   He is careful and considerate to never overstep his role within their lives and feels so blessed and honored that his life’s path led him to be part of their lives.

-His goal is to model and be an example of what a stable, loving and healthy relationship looks like for all of our children.  It is of utmost importance to him.

– And much like my dad, who never sat me down to teach me all the things he did – he just modeled it in the way he lived his life – Dean is passionately working to leave a similar legacy for his children (and mine) of a life well lived.

– He doesn’t always get it right, this parenting thing (but who of us ever gets it right all the time) but he is humble enough to listen and learn when wisdom is offered and never ever gives up – he just keeps persevering.

I thought it was worthy this Father’s Day to highlight someone in my life that is doing it right – It makes me think of my dad and the legacy he left me.  I feel very grateful this Father’s Day…. Grateful that my dad and I had such a beautiful relationship and that I have no regrets..  I am also grateful that in his absence I have someone else in my life that measures up in terms of being a Father, as well as is willing to stand in the gap with my children just as my father did with them.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad out there.  Hug your children, put moments with them in front of things and leave a legacy, its powerful!

 

365

It has been 365 days since you left this earth and my life.  365 days.  It seems like only yesterday since I heard your voice and yet seems like forever all at the same time.  I don’t have a lot of words for this day, 365 days later.  It still hurts the same, the void is just as big and I still haven’t recovered.

I was privileged to be his daughter – he was a great daddy!  I was privileged for him to have been there when I took my first breath and even more privileged to have been there when he took his last.  I miss him with every ounce of my being, every day, for the last 365 days.

 

I have decided that me and my family will honor him and carry on a piece of him on this most difficult day.  We will rejoice in the legacy he leaves behind through playing a little driveway basketball tournament and thinking about him with every bounce of the ball and basket made.

If you have a spare moment, send a prayer my mothers way – the void of him is even bigger for her…..

What I wouldn’t do for 5 more minutes with him………

 

Happy New Year…

We are turning a page to not only a new year but a new decade.  I am taking stock of what 2019 brought and all I have accomplished, survived and overcame.  All in All 2019 was a good year.  Looking forward to the new year and new decade I want something different.  The last few years were about survival and regaining my footing in this crazy life.  Life has normalized a bit and my focus in life is now shifting.

No new years resolutions for me – it has always been 1 word themes for what I want my year to look like.  2020 is the year of humbleness.  The perspective that I have gained through my struggles, the overwhelming fact of how abundantly blessed I am and how I have been quite self absorbed (rightfully so) the last few years have given me a burning desire for 2020 to be more than just about me – I want this year to be filled with humility, humbleness, service to others and a spirit of giving.

I have talked to my children and we are on a quest to make a difference and give back – to be humble servants in our community.  As my littles were once part of the population of the forgotten – we will focus our giving efforts on those that society often forgets – the elderly, orphans, children in foster care and we will strive to make an impact.  As I always say….. I cannot do everything. but just because I cannot do everything I Will Not refuse to do something.  And we will be doing something, many things all year – big and small.

I am excited once again what the new year brings.  I am most excited about the opportunity for me and my family to serve others and the blessings that doing so will bring us.  Happy New Year!

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A look back at 2019

What a year!  When I look through all of my photos and memories of 2019 – I just keep saying “what a year it has been”.  Before I began this post I re-read my New Years Post from earlier this year – just to gain a perspective of what I was anticipating 2019 to look like.  Reading that post, I smiled thinking all that I had hoped for has been delivered in 2019 and then some.  Although I was stopped in my tracks in April with the deafening loss of my dad, I soldiered on and made 2019 a year to remember.

From College Graduation, the start of middle school, giving back to my community, amazing travels, growth in my business, to a healing of a family, an engagement and a wonderful holiday season.  What more could I ask for?!

I just keep looking at the big picture of 2019 and think WOW – how far I have come and what a beautiful life I now have.  2019 theme’s was perseverance and preserved I have.  I pushed through to capture everything GOD had in store for me this year.  He has been so faithful!  Perseverance isn’t mastered overnight – it is the will to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other (despite what your facing) through whatever time you have to – to get to what you want. And I finally feel like I have “arrived” so to speak.  Although there is more to do – 2020 will see a shift in my direction again – stay tuned for 2020 New Years post.  But today, before we turn that page and march on to a new year – I just wanted to take a final look at what 2019 became….. and it was good.

 

 

 

 

Thankful…

Every year like clock work I write a post reflecting on what I have to be thankful for.  This year is no different.  And what a year of things to be thankful for.  Where do I even begin.

I am thankful for:

– Adoption.  November is National Adoption Awareness Month and it always makes me even more keenly aware of the beauty of adoption and what it means to my family.

– Travel.  The ability to travel all over the world and especially with my family enjoying beautiful experiences and making memories.  Some people live their entire lives wanting to travel and see the world and never get to as they age, get sick or just don’t have the funds.

 

– Friends and family.    My amazing friend group and inner circle of family who has stood in the gap for me time after time and who always stand by my side.  I love them with all my heart and am so blessed to have each of them in my life.

– Mended Fences.  For 5 years prayers were storming the Heavens for healing, forgiveness and kindness to be commonplace with me and my ex.  We have finally made it.  Forgiveness is beautiful and our relationship is how it should be.  We are able to finally enjoy the family we built together in peace and unity.

 

– My bigs significant others.  Both Collin and Emily love my children the way I prayed that someone would.  They embrace our crazy family and love each of us. They bring out the best in my Bigs and I see the love my Bigs have for them.  Its everything I prayed it would be.  They bring so much into this family and  I love them just as I love my own.

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– My beautiful children.  I AM SO PROUD OF WHO EACH OF THEM ARE!  I could write a blog post just about how amazing they are and how big I love them!  I’m thankful for who they have become and are becoming and the relationship I have with each one!

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– My person.  Dean loves me and everything about me – even the not so flattering moments I sometimes have. I am so thankful for our lives together and that he will forever be by my side, walking with me through life.

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– Laughter.  Laughter is sometimes the best mechanism for joy in your life.  I’m thankful dean and I enjoy so much laughter in our relationship!

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– New additions.  2 sweet little boys and a new extended family that has welcomed me and mine with open arms. I am thankful for each one of them and look so forward to more time together in the future!

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And last but certainly not least……

– I am immensely thankful for the long list of memories I have of my dad and that I have absolutely no regrets… He loved me and I knew it…. I fiercely loved him and he knew it!

Thankful… it’s a big word this year! Hug your peeps, love them fiercely, embrace your journey.  And if you look around there is certainly lots to be thankful for!  Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

He’s in the Waiting… Part 1

I listened to this song by Elevation Worship numerous times over the past few years called Take Courage.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Slow down, take time, breath in He said,  – He’d reveal what’s to come

The thoughts in HIS mind always higher than mine, He’ll reveal all to come

– Take Courage my Heart, Stay Steadfast my Soul…. HE’S IN THE WAITING

Hold onto your hope as your Triumph unfolds…. HE’S NEVER FAILING

Do not forget his great faithfulness… He’ll finish all He’s begun

I re-listened to that song again today – as I was talking to someone about God being “in the waiting”.  I remember singing that song so many times as a cry and an attempt to hold on to hope in the midst of the storm.  Today when I listened I was moved to tears for a very different reason…. All of those years of being “In the Wait” and now I am living my unfolding Triumph.  It was sweet to think back to all of the times God was faithful in the Wait and what that wait has brought forth for me.

I rarely write about Dean and get all mushy but this post is about so much more.  It is realizing that God did see me through the wait and he is finishing what he began when he removed me from my marriage (kicking and screaming I might add – and Mad that it happened).  But God gently allowed me some time to breath and then on cue – when God knew I was ready and so was everyone else in my life – Dean walked in.  And the walk with Dean has been a journey in and of itself…

God knew that the man walking into my life would need to come with certain qualities.  Dean’s sweet spirit and his enduring patience was instrumental in the healing of my soul and my broken heart.  He didn’t know the depth of my sorrow and the vastness of my pain and guilt when he arrived nor did he ask.  What he did is exactly what I needed.  He humbly let me work out my issues – stepping quietly to the side – letting me have my moments in the valley and being ever present and ready to resume when I would come through, always loving me.

He embraces my life chasing after my 4 kids, bending to their needs and wants, even if they are far fetched, unreasonable or demanding or I am – he smiles, nods and says “wherever you are.. I am.

And in my quest for finding happiness and finding a partner – I guess I just always thought it would look the same….  Exchange one life for the exact other just with a different face.  What I got is a stark difference but one that my heart so needed and so desired.   That previous life where chaos abounded and  life was always blasting forward to bigger better, more stuff, more money… more more more.  A race to be somebody and to be known by many.  In stark contrast  my beautiful new life is filled with someone who is content, has a minimalist outlook, likes nature and outdoor activities, embraces a simple existence with low drama and treasures simplistic, yet deep interactions.  There is no race for fame or to be known, me knowing his inner most thoughts and feelings is enough for him.  A touch, a glance, a conversation is what is highly regarded and valued now.  It was the wait that brought me further away from the chaos and allowed me to see the value in these things and to embrace a beautiful and meaningful relationship with a man who loves me like no other ever has.

The wait was so worth it!  He has healed my soul and opened the opportunity to a beautifully happy loving future!

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And btw I said YES!

 

 

Kindness

My youngest daughter had a recent encounter that has compelled me to write about.  Here’s the cliff notes version of what happened:  We were at a local high school football game.  She was playing with her friend under the bleachers where the other kids play.  When we were about to leave we noticed that she was surrounded by older kids from a neighboring school and what seemed to be innocent was not at all.  They had surrounded her and her friend and were saying mean things to them and not allowing them to leave.  When we approached and said it was time to go – the older children scattered like ants (so we knew there was something fishy) I am not certain what transpired before we walked upon it – what I do know is what my daughter reported that those kids were saying to her and her friend.  One statement in particular struck me to my core, so much that it has prompted this post.  They told them “If you were adopted I bet your parents would want to return you to the adoption center”.  Now…. I am certain that none of those children knew Mia was adopted.  However, they weren’t teasing her because she was adopted or they even suspected that she was… they were using the “adoption dig” as something just plain mean and degrading to another child regardless.

Please teach your children to be kind.  Raise them so that when they are away from you and your watchful eyes that they will always do and say the right thing.  Be an example of kindness as well, in your home and your community – your kids are watching you.  Kindness is easy.  Teach your children Adoption is beautiful and should never be looked at as though it is a “bad” or something to be ostracized or used to ridicule someone.

If you are reading this take time today to have a conversation with your children about kindness and the beauty in all people.

For me, this was the first time that I had to admit that my children just may be targets of prejudice and hateful things that are said and done because they are different.  A worry that no mom should have to carry with her.

I am thankful that we attend a school that has some diversity in its student body and teaches kindness and recognizes the beauty in being different.  Being a part of this school for 14 years I know that those qualities are embraced and supported throughout the school and it shows in the student body.  The world however hasn’t come that far yet.  So please do your part…

 

A praying mother

There is something powerful about a praying mother.  A mother, on her knees, face down, praying over and over, day after day because she sees her child and grandchildren suffer – its the only action she can take, the only one that brings about true change.  I am talking about my mother who has spent countless hours praying that the toxic person that infiltrated our lives and changed our path forever would be removed.  BUT My mom also prayed that she would be blessed as she moved on.  Wow!  Not many of us moms would pray that prayer for the ones that hurt our children.  She did and her prayers were answered recently.

The “girl” that had a hand in the destruction of my marriage is now gone and out of our lives.  Not the ending my ex was hoping for in his relationship but the one we all needed – desperately needed.  With her exit from our lives – we can all begin to heal.  Needless to say it has been a long hard road filled with many battles and a constant state of turmoil.  My ex and I were never allowed to deal with our own stuff that led to the end of our 25 year relationship nor allowed to figure out how we co-parent our children together.  That one person kept us in battle mode at all times.  After her departure, my children and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, almost instantaneously – as well as He did.   I think he realized the grass wasn’t greener and what a mess he had to clean up after her departure – because frankly the carnage of infidelity has a ripple affect that continues and continues –  a hard lesson he has had to learn.  But here’s the thing about family – my children showed up and stood up for him – as did I.

The good news is that We, as a family are healing.  Fences are being mended, relationships that were estranged are being repaired, forgiveness and grace abound.  And although it is not the way I thought it would look 25 years ago – it is good – its just different.  My ex and I are co-parenting our beautiful littles and they are thriving – all of our children have access to us and we communicate fluidly about family stuff.  He has someone new in his life, whom I like and get along beautifully with.

So let me give you just a glimpse at what GOD can do with those prayers from my mother and what my family’s reality is now -Mia’s Gotcha Day celebration brought all of our children, me and my family and him and his family together – United!   At a soccer tournament recently – we all went and sat together as a family to cheer Maddie on and after had a meal; Me, my ex, both of our significant others and our 3 girls.  That felt good.  When I think about our lives and the reality we are now living it brings tears to my eyes.  Knowing how far we have come to get to this point, all the water under the bridge and yet GOD still can heal and bring beauty from ashes.

I never in a million years thought that this was possible – but again never underestimate what GOD can do.  He can move mountains!  He does honor and hear our prayers, especially those sent to him by a mother.

This certainly isn’t the end of the story, but just the beginning.  I finally feel like I have closure with that part of my life and it finally feels “right” and in order.  It frees me to move on.  What a journey…. I’m excited to see the next chapters.

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