Mom-isms & Mending

So, I realize when I say mom this can be somewhat confusing because to me, I always sort of felt there were two ladies that I was able to call “Mom.” I lived with my birth mom in Wisconsin until I was about 6 years old and then I moved to Montana, where I was raised by my stepmom and dad. I visited my mom in Wisconsin every summer, at Christmas, and eventually lived in Wisconsin for awhile, where I graduated college. While the story doesn’t fit into the mold of your typical household, I’d like to think that these two gave me unique perspectives and love in this lifetime of mine. Many of you have heard me share stories of my stepmom and now, I’d like to delve into what I’ve gained in my other relationship.

My mom flew from Wisconsin to visit me this past week and while the weather was dreary and gray most days, we made the best of it. We took a trip to Wallace, Idaho and although our hike was put on hold due to the snow, we found some unique spots to stop at. There was shopping, cleaning and maintenance of my living space (thanks Mom), wine tasting and Mamma Mia. Oh, and let us not forget the delicious meals! So yes, it was an enjoyable trip and I’m thankful I could show her the place I’ve called home for the past three years. In light of this week, here are a few tidbits I’ve taken away from my mother:

  1. A love of wine.
  2. Dance parties in the living room to the musical stylings of ABBA will always be needed.
  3. Never underestimate what a great pair of shoes can do for your day.
  4. Sometimes you will make mistakes but the very best people in your life will keep loving you.
  5. Moms will often know your life and/or decisions before they happen. For example: break-ups, relationships, whether or not I will go back to school, etc. I have yet to understand this strange phenomenon because I do not have children of my own. When I call her with the latest happenings in my life, she generally has already informed me things would go this way at some point in the past. I’ve found I often have to learn these lessons for myself and she can just keep predicting the future in the mom way that she does.
  6. Laughing at yourself makes life a whole lot easier.
  7. Standing on our own isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it is essential to seeking out that which makes us who we really are. 
  8. Don’t forget to have fun or life will really suck.
  9. Sometimes you just need to cry to your mom.
  10. Each relationship in our life will look a little different. It isn’t about HOW it looks, but instead, if we are doing our very best to cultivate it, even if it’s difficult. Life is rocky, uncertain and all around frightening at times. Mending those relationships doesn’t mean we are settling. (Unless that person is harming you physically or emotionally, in which case, you should stay far away.) After the dust has cleared and we take a step back, we can find good. 

img_20170323_171130217.jpg

img_20170321_131335918_hdr.jpg

33188.jpeg

Thanks for visiting me Mom. Looking forward to more adventures in the near future. 🙂

Cavities & Do-Overs

I was in the grocery store a couple days ago and I spent an excessive amount of time in the oral care aisle. Immediately, two things came to mind:

  1. I’m getting older/more adultish/boring?!

  2. When did this become such a priority?

First of all, I would just like to state the extensive quantity of oral hygiene options that exist. From multi-flavored flosses to more toothpaste than I care to think about, it is, like most options in society, far more than we probably need.

Also, I don’t want you to think that I didn’t previously care about my teeth because I did. However, I also had settled on the fact that between my sisters and I, (at least the one closest in age to me), I received the short end of stick when it comes to being blessed with next to perfect teeth. I had braces, cavities and my wisdom teeth removed. On the other hand, my sister could scarf down 4 Jawbreakers, a bag of Hershey Kisses and a box of Milk Duds, all while not getting a single cavity in the process. How nice. (I love you anyways Han.)

I had a dentist appointment this past January and while I didn’t have any cavities that needed immediate attention, there were a couple trying to sneak their way in. My dentist informed me that with proper brushing, flossing and a slight cut back in sweets (gasp!), I could potentially reverse this process. While I am an avid fan of brushing my teeth, I do not excel quite as much in the flossing department. I really put forth a solid effort for awhile and then it just falls to the wayside. One of those things I’ll do tomorrow ya know? And then it is sort of forgotten about altogether or done occasionally, much like Thanksgiving dinner or cleaning the inside of your car. And that whole cutting back on sweets? I’m not even sure how to start that without some shedding some tears. (Especially these past couple of weeks—>Life changes which led to stress such as the following but are not limited to: A break-up, moving, taking my first CASA (guardian ad litem) case, leading a community group, wanting to be awesome in my new residential mentor role, etc.) So yes, sweets and I have become the very best of friends. Can I just add that I work at a place where we make frozen custard, which is pure deliciousness?? And Easter candy is out which means one fantastic piece of magic is currently in my life….Starburst Jellybeans. 1,000 times yes.

But, I have also acknowledged my increased sugar intake recently (as has my skin) and while it makes my nerve endings all happy with delight, it is also not so great for my overall health. Nor is it ideal for keeping my teeth for a good while longer. So, there I was, staring at the Scope, Crest and Colgate options filling the shelf. Flosses, toothpastes and mouthwashes oh my. I selected my items and left the store in the hopes of reaching a cavity-less future.

img_20170310_071116.jpg

May you find your love, light and peace within those chances at a fresh start

I got to thinking that we can often reverse or undo those greater decisions that we find ourselves in. Those choices or situations where we didn’t get it right the first time around but are greatly anticipating our chance at a do-over. It can take more work, focus and discipline than we originally had planned. We maybe need to spend more time in the self-care aisle of life, selecting the resources or people that will help us reach our desired outcome. Sometimes we slip up a bit, forgetting our routine regimen, but we also know how to self-correct in order to find our course again. This season of my life has steadily been teaching me that. Just because I find myself alone again, I don’t have to fall back into old habits and unhealthy ways of coping. I can seek my footing in my faith, friends, and family. In the assuredness of who I am in this moment and all I am working towards becoming. Never have I felt more peace and understanding in those doors that have been opened for me lately. Here’s to perseverance in the pursuit of keeping that which hinders our growth at bay.

Happy Sunday friends.

 

 

 

Blessed by Your Love: What I Found in Losing My Mom

I have put off writing this. All day I have wrestled internally with keeping it together so nobody knows the immense hurt that is bubbling to the surface inside. I have wanted to put off this “feelings” part altogether because the pain is unreal. Contrary to the hours, days and weeks we account for, grief is one aspect that cannot be measured. The loss of your presence in my life strikes abruptly. Tiny  moments and increments that sneak into my life. At a wedding when a mom looks at her daughter with more love than she could ever hope to convey. When I find something that reminds me of you. A holiday, birthday or anniversary.

I didn’t know the world would keep spinning. That time would creep on, ever so slowly, keeping us all in its steady rhythm. That my tears would flow less often but my heart would still bear a fault line, your name forever etched in. How certain memories might make me burst into a smile with thoughts of you, yet others would cause me to pause in the moment as I realize I can no longer reminisce with you. How different of a world this is than the one I had envisioned, the one where you were there.

A friend once told me that my mom isn’t really gone, that I can simply start talking wherever I am, out in nature or during my day. That she’s right there with me. I’d like to note that, even as a woman of faith, just how badly I wanted to call bull on that. How I have still spent these past two years hurting, harboring anger at times, and navigating the ways in which I can lighten this burden. But then, I thought, what if she’s right? What if this is part of the healing process? This hurting heart is searching for peace and despite how stubborn I can be, I’m willing to try.

Dear Mom,

I feel I never thanked you as much as I should have. That I am still mad at how life played out and a couple of years during college were wasted in anger. I am simply amazed by all I still learn from you, how much more sure I am of myself now and that I know you would be so proud of me. Your strength was remarkable and your unending love was displayed in your willingness to always put your children first. I’m the luckiest for being able to call you mom!

I found fun in everyday moments. I found courage to stand up for what is right and true. I found that family doesn’t always mean blood but as long as the love is strong and welcoming, none of that matters. We were able to mesh that which was familiar and that which was new to create something lasting. Families are NOT picture perfect and I am so sorry I felt they needed to be. You will forever be an incredible woman and mother to me. 

 

I found somebody who believed in me. Someone who watched me play the clarinet at festivals and concerts, supporting my love of music. My biggest fan at my school plays, laughing in all the right places. You gave so much of yourself that I often wonder if there was any room left over for you? I will never understand how you did it all. Working late hours each day, dinners often prepared for us ahead of time, and still attending our events. You held us up and you held us together. The hardest working woman I knew, hands down.

I’m just now beginning to see how extensively you shaped me. How your love is still reaching me even after you’re gone. And no matter how many times others may have said that to me in the past, it is only now starting to feel that way. So yes, maybe I did need to get out of my own way. Quit overthinking and drop my uncertainty. (I’m also learning that there are no rules in grief, more of a feeling things out as you go along.)

In reflecting over all that you were, you helped me to discover who I am. I am capable and gifted. I am strong and loving. I am able to give because you continually gave all. I am forever held up by you and that can never be taken away from me. The pieces of you that reside within me are cherished and shared with the world.

Instead of wishing for more time, I’m going to be praying for more grace and keep filling my life with as much love as I can. Undoubtedly, your love was the best gift of all. The one which allowed me to reach the pinnacle in order to view myself and our relationship with more clarity. Sweet, sweet love that keeps finding a way to open my heart a little more each day. 

I love you Mom.

 

 

 

How Volunteering Changed My Heart

When I walked through the darkness I experienced in the spring of 2015, I was unaware of the ripples that would span for years to come. After the loss of my mom, coupled with my most painful breakup, I knew I needed something else to focus on. Hence, I made the decision to become a mentor. At the time I started mentoring her, she was a darling 5th grader. As of this spring, she has grown into a fierce and spunky 7th grader. I honestly wasn’t sure if she would still want me in her life when she reached junior high, fearing that having a mentor was “uncool.” But, here we are. I spend 30 minutes with her each week during her lunch break. It doesn’t sound like much and for all the moments where I wonder if I have any sort of impact on her life, there are 1,000 other moments where she pours her heart out to me in which I realize that yes, this is where I’m supposed to be.

I had always felt compelled to give but never truly devoted myself to it. (Aside from kids’ ministry at my church in Wisconsin, which has forever touched my heart). Mentoring sparked something in me and I found that the traits of my unique design I previously felt made me flawed or too different, could be put to great use. My compassion and emotional sensitivity were not to be changed but instead, channeled. So, that’s precisely what I did. After finding a church I meshed with, I immersed myself within it by volunteering there. And am I so thankful I did! The people I met and the relationships formed have brought tremendous change, strength and positive growth into my life. After that, I was called to bigger projects where I formed even more connections. I’ve worked alongside refugees as they develop the tools to one day operate a small business. I’ve seen little kids approach me in wonder to tell me all about their day while I listened patiently. Finally, I am being urged to lead other young women in a variety of ways and while I never pictured myself landing here, I am nonetheless willing to stick my toes over the line that is my comfort zone as I take these steps towards something bigger.

26019917581_43b98ab8a7

Photo Credit: symphony of love Flickr via Compfight cc

 

It’s true that when we start giving, we want to give even more. I couldn’t imagine a life without service to others. Where my eyes and my heart have been opened by true, meaningful experiences. Where I have shared and listened. Where I have found myself feeling as if I am the one receiving more than I thought I would. Here I am, yet again, after another breakup and leaning deeper into the giving of my time. It is here, when I listen, lean in, close my eyes and trust in all I am capable of. Here, in this period of change and the in-betweens of life, that I have been the beneficiary of sweet reminders. Reminders of how blessed I am, of all those who love me in this life, and of the unopened doors I have yet to enter during this next journey.