love

the k-k-key’s in the c-c-conch shell…..

It’s cold outside! My conch shell is out of place. When my son-in-law found it for me, it was at least 15 feet below the surface of the crystal clear Caribbean sea. I brought it home with me one year, not too long ago, to remind me of my time in the Islands. Here it is on my deck, with a tiny snowman. Looking at it all covered in snow still brings me happiness and peace. One thing is for sure, when I go back to find my little cottage on the beach, there will actually be a key in this conch shell for friends to enter when they come to see me.

On the first day of the new year, I look forward. I hope for a better year. Last year was a very difficult year for many people, me included. I pray for change. New and better. I think it’s a common thread at the beginning of a new year for all of us. Particularly though in my life, and those I love, I hope 2017 brings much happiness and transformation, more than ever before. I can already feel that change is coming. I’m not sure how or when, but a certain gravitational inclination is at work.

So many tragedies and such sadness last year turns my thinking toward much needed optimism, blessedness and bliss. Some of our loved ones are not here any longer, but some of us have had additions to our families. Weddings and babies are especially happy times. I feel privileged to have a son-in-law and new grandchild on the way in June 2017. I’ll be traveling to Tortola, in the BVI for this long-awaited event in the summertime.

(Photo by Necesse Photography) You can see the whole story in photos here.

I also feel very blessed to have lost just over 70 pounds since July 2016 – gone forever. I have 40 pounds to go and look forward to being back to my “normal” self. I haven’t taken any photos yet as I still have the mind set of being too heavy. It’s one thing to lose the weight physically; but perhaps most difficult, you have to lose it mentally too. After 6 children (more than 20 years ago), I decided to have weight loss surgery. I am SO happy I did it. Not one regret, other than I wish I had done it sooner. This year is going to focus on all things I am happy about.

I have particularly enjoyed my time at home over the last week. For those of us who have to work for a living, its nice to de-stress a little around this time of year. It’s cold outside, warm inside, and just resting with a good book or watching a movie seems like a good thing to do. The holidays are over and we can all focus on the new year and what it means for each of us.

In this new year, I hope to see my daughter who lives in San Diego more often. I know I’ll travel to the Virgin Islands, which is my happy place. I hope all my children will make the same trip to see their new little niece or nephew in June, and experience the waves, sun and fun of this special place.

I’m going to try to visualize the positive and actually go there in my mind to maximize my chances of having an amazing new year. Every year I have hoped to lose weight. Well I’ve finally achieved that goal and its gone forever. Its time to move on, so to speak. I am also consciously going to try to be happier, I’m going to look for the good in every situation. I am going to let go of all the things I cannot control. Believe me, this is a HUGE undertaking in my life. As a mom, its natural to try to fix everyone. Not anymore. I’m going to focus on my health and doing positive things to reduce stress in my life. This will in turn hopefully reduce the symptoms of MS.

I am also going to let go of the occasional sadness felt living in an empty nest. It’s a good thing, and it’s time to let it BE a good thing. I have never focused on me and my own happiness. My kids have always come first, as they should have back then. That’s what it means to be a mom.

This year I am going to take a deep breath, breathe in and out, and I am going to love every minute of this new year whether I like it or not! After all, I am blessed beyond belief with amazing children and family, a great work life, a cozy roof over my head, a car to drive, the opportunity to go to the Virgin Islands every year where I can nourish my salty soul, and look forward to another trip around the sun!

peace is my priority

Mixed feelings come at this time of year. The Holidays. It’s beautiful, joyful, exciting and peaceful. It’s also difficult, sad, stressful and lonely depending on who you are and how you are. I celebrate Christmas, as does my family. I’ve always found it a difficult time of year since I began “adulting.” Financially stressful, especially. I’ve never had ‘lots’ of money in my adult life and I think that definitely makes a difference.

Money doesn’t solve all your problems. For instance, it can’t buy happiness, but it sure does help a lot.

We should know the holidays are not about money or gifts. The reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ, is what we need to remember. Now, I don’t want to get into religious debates with anyone, but I do feel a definite holiness about this time of year. I love Christmas and the memories I have as a child. I hope my children have some happy childhood holiday memories too. We didn’t always have a lot but we had each other. Nowadays, my nest is empty, and its especially hard when my babies are adulting themselves.

Peace is most apropos at this time of year. I feel a necessity to find peace in my life during the holidays. I miss the younger years with my children, wishing I could have a do-over of just one Christmas eve. I smile and think about those times and reminisce about the joy of Christmas morning. Living in Seattle, we don’t get much snow, but there were a few years Seattle saw a white Christmas.

Remembering the things I am thankful for gives me peace. My family, my cozy home, my work family and friends, my pets and knowing that I am fortunate enough to go to my happy place at least once every year in the British Virgin Islands. In concentrating on peace and solace this year, I find I am less stressed than any other year before. I’m positively unsure how this works, but for some reason it does.

For some of us, loved ones have passed on and we miss them most during the holiday season. And, for some, there are new babies to bring joy to our lives, whether as grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or our own children.

Some enjoy baking during the holidays, cooking big meals for our families, wrapping gifts, going to church, and just having everyone under the same roof. I think being surrounded by the ones we love is extra special. Of course sometimes our families are spread all over the planet, in far away places, or unfriendly lands fighting for our country. All of us are so different, yet we all want to belong and yearn to be part of something bigger. Thinking of that, remembering my blessings, brings me peace.

Then I watch my husband shovel snow for me at 6 a.m. so I can get down the driveway to get to work without ending up in the lake, and I truly feel grateful. (In Seattle, this is a blizzard)!

Peace. It’s one of those words that means different things to different people. In the world we live in, I’m fortunate. Blessed. My wish for anyone reading this, is that you find some sort of peace this year. Recognize the people who do nice things for you or simply smile at you. Take note of how fortunate you are to just be alive. We are all exactly where we are supposed to be. I guess we can find peace in that fact alone.

My soul is peaceful this year, it’s a priority.

lines in the sand

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush described the initiation of the Gulf War as drawing “a line in the sand.”

Lines in the sand. We make them every day, for almost any situation. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve created a line. Possibly, even frequently, we wish we had…. or we hadn’t, drawn that fated line….

The thing is, even if you’ve drawn the stupid thing, you can NEVER go back and erase it. You can’t stomp it out, use a twig to write “I love you,” instead. It will always be a line in the sand. Something on which you refuse to compromise.

The proverbial line in the sand is said to be, “the point beyond which one will proceed no further.” Similarly, a secondary meaning, “a point beyond which, once the decision to go beyond is made, the decision and its resulting consequences are permanently decided and irreversible.” Wikipedia.

I think this second meaning is more of the working definition I’m speaking of, the speculation that you can never go back.

crossing-the-line

Sometimes as parents, we draw a line in the sand for our children. Then the child crosses that line. Now what? You can’t go back and think to yourself, “did I really mean it?”

I know I crossed every line my parents drew, and my mom was considered an artist. I did it without even really bothering to think. If they said ‘No,’ well, then I was determined to hurtle that line. Looking back I don’t think it was such a great thing, just more of a challenge at that time. I’m not going to lie, I was a triple threat when it came to crossing lines (I was also considered an artist, adored calligraphy), which of course does not make it okay. I’m an adult now. I realize my mistakes, right?

The trouble is, that sand is full of watercolor emotions. Love, anger, relentless anxiety, that punch-in-the-stomach kind of pain, and forgiveness too. Anything you can feel, that sand represents. Draw a line in it, and all bets are off. Sand feels like a precarious balance between the conscious and the unconscious; what you want and what you think you want. Physically it squishes through your toes and runs like water through your fingers. Try to hold a wave on the sand. It won’t ever happen.

I feel having children is kind of like sand. You can build a sandcastle and it lasts for a little while but never forever. Kids never stay the same, even though we try to make them. Choices. Eventually they make them. You draw a line in the sand and dare them to cross it. When they do, you can never go back or change your mind. You have to remain strong and resilient like the waves that keep returning to the sand. Parents everywhere hope they make the correct choices.

Just so kids know, there was no instructional manual when it came to raising you. We did the best we could with what we had in our tool chest. I think all parents say that at some point to their kids but it’s so true. Staying the course, making a stand and continuity are the most difficult choices I have ever made. I hope and pray my kids will all be okay, God knows I do.

Sometimes I wish I could shake them and say, “Wake up! Listen to me! You need to hear what I have to say!” All any parent can really do is hope they heard you the first time. We don’t say these things for our health! (I’ve heard my mom say that at least 10,000 times). I heard you Mom. I hear you now. Is it so wrong to just want everything to be okay for your sweet babies? I think not.

I just wish there really was an Owner’s Manual for having a kid. It would certainly list the high alarm rate, the specific safety hazards and unfamiliar features which accompany said kid. It would definitely tell you about any technological advances a future kid could inherently have, basic operating instructions and any peripherals included with your kid, but most helpful would be the step-by-step EZ method of deactivating said kid until trouble has passed.

We parents would be much better off.

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