Transition

“It’s the oldest story in the world. One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life.” – Anonymous

I’m not sure those words could reflect more accurately how I’ve been feeling as I approach my 30th birthday. Time has evaded me. Almost three decades on this intricate planet of ours and I still have an overwhelming amount of self-awareness to achieve. I would file the past three years in particular under “lessons learned” and “harsh realities”. Life changing for both the good and the bad. In that time, I have managed to experience some of the most exhilarating moments of my life; hit rock bottom (or what I certainly hope is my rock bottom), both emotionally and financially; seen some of the ugliest sides of life, as well as people (myself included); rebuilt some relationships and abandoned others completely; and struggled with a mountain of guilt, regret, and loss (not all in that order).

There have been times I didn’t think I could possibly feel more alone…imprisoned in my own whirling thoughts. Times I didn’t think I could feel more alive and enlightened. And times I truly didn’t know how or what to feel, so I sort of just stopped feeling. But that, I’ve come to understand and embrace, is life. The only thing predictable about it is it’s unwavering ability to be unpredictable.

This period of transition I find myself on the brink of is pivotal to my evolution. No, the earth won’t stop turning the day I turn 30; nor will life suddenly change in some sort of drastic or abrupt way. However, the opportunity presents itself to exhale the negative from the past decade of my life (a decade full of self doubt and self scrutiny, more rash decisions than I’d like to recall, and more hard losses than I was able to cope with) and to instead breathe in a new decade. One of potential, one where I focus on self love, personal growth, and strengthening my ability to be more patient and understanding of others, and most importantly, MYSELF.

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Chaotic Soul 

Her very essence is one of chaos

Her mind, her heart, even her hair…all untamable

She’s a tumbleweed; bound together by her brokenness

She’s fearful of planting roots; for to her that means giving up what could be

Always carrying in her back pocket, a flight plan

Living life with the freedom that accompanies the giving up of expectations and the holding of ones’ breath

Realizing nothing is stable, nothing is constant ~ This is a blessing and a curse

Knowing now that an ending is merely the beginning of new possibility

She makes as little promises as the ones she holds onto

She figures life out long enough to remember she doesn’t want to ~ There’s beauty behind the madness

“The best thing you could do is master the chaos in you. You are not thrown into the fire, YOU ARE THE FIRE.” ~ Mama Indigo

Note to My Dad

Last night I picked up your guitar for the first time in years. The acoustic one you used to play us. I dug it out of the back closet, dusted it off, and strummed the strings slowly. Maybe I thought if I did I could hear your singing voice more vividly in my head. I’m scared. Three years and I feel like I’m losing grasp of some of my memories of you. Yesterday I actually sat through the entire song I had picked out for your funeral without crying. Why does that make me feel a tinge of guilt? Time heals….healing is good right?

You’d be so proud of me; that I know with certainty. My boys, your Grandson’s, are growing up to be such sweet, respectable individuals. They would make you smile and laugh every day. I have a great career I know you’d love to hear about. You and Mom raised a strong, independent woman. And the man that has blessed my life, boy would you love him. He’s musically gifted like you and works well with his hands.

Life is good now, even though I wish I could show you.

When you were in the hospital bed, I held your hand and I sang to you. I think you heard me, because I saw a tear roll down your cheek. The song we sang growing up:

 

I remember daddy’s hands folded silently in prayer
And reachin’ out to hold me, when I had a nightmare
You could read quite a story in the callous’ and lines
Years of work and worry had left their mark behind

 

I remember daddy’s hands how they held my mama tight
And patted my back for something done right
There are things that I’d forgotten that I loved about the man
But I’ll always remember the love in daddy’s hands

 

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’
Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand
There was always love in daddy’s hands

 

I remember daddy’s hands workin’ ’til they bled
Sacrificed unselfishly just to keep us all fed
If I could do things over, I’d live my life again
And never take for granted the love in daddy’s hands

 

Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’
Daddy’s hands were hard as steel when I’d done wrong
Daddy’s hands weren’t always gentle but I’ve come to understand
There was always love in daddy’s hands

 

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I have plenty more to tell you. Until next time, Dad.

 

 

Motherhood

The house is dark and still, and the boys are fast asleep. In true Mom fashion, I sneak into each of their rooms and plant the softest kiss on their heads and adjust their blankets. Motherhood is the most natural process that exists, and yet it stirs up the most complicated emotions imaginable. Never does a woman know worry, self-doubt, sacrifice, and pure love like she does when she becomes a Mother. I don’t believe there exists a perfect age or set of circumstances that can fully prepare one for the challenges and changes that come along with Motherhood. 

I think about my own Mother. At a fairly young age (having enough knowledge about the struggles related to her upbringing), I realized the tremendous emotional obstacles she had to have overcome to become a nurturing, loving Mother. The mold she had to break from her own childhood experiences. I’m not sure how she did it, but for her strength, I am grateful. My sister and I were her world; her priority in life, from the time we took our first breath through most of our formative years. We were always well fed and well dressed. She took in our friends as if they were her own; taught us how to cook; to love music and to dance our little hearts out. She helped us succeed in school, and tried hard to keep us entertained and out of trouble (sorry Mom). Her and I are a lot alike in some ways. We love people……too much. We give to others even beyond our means at times and are willing to sacrifice a great deal (even our own inner happiness) for those we love. I admire her ability to love past great faults. She is all of the soft aspects of my soul. 


I look at my boys sleeping peacefully; with their soft faces and their perfect button noses. It’s amazing really…to give life to these little people that reflect you, and yet they show you the world in their own unique way. My hope as their Mother is that they grow up knowing they are loved, valued, and irreplaceable. That they thirst for knowledge and adventure. I want them to truly embrace the world. Not to be complacent or ever allow the world to make them angry or cold. To love even those who act unlovable and to open their hearts, even at the risk of having them broken. I hope they view the world as their oyster and never be confined by how or where they were brought up. Even though I was still practically raising myself when I first became a Mother, I tried to create a carefree life for them. Sometimes I succeeded, other times I failed miserably. At the end of the day however, I want them to know that my heart beats for them. They will always be my greatest accomplishment; my reason to smile. I can fall asleep with a full heart. 


“Successful Mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.” ~ Sharon Jaynes

“When my children remember their childhood, I want only for them to remember that their Mother gave it her all. She worried too much, she failed at times and she did not always get it right…but she tried her hardest to teach them about kindness, love, compassion, and honesty. Even if she had to learn it from her own mistakes, she loved them enough to keep going, even when things seemed hopeless, even when life knocked her down. I want them to remember me as the Woman who always got back up.” ~ Annonymous 

Darkness

I remember the first non fiction book I read as an adult. It was about the expectations that we ourselves, as well as others around us, put upon Mothers. I was a young, stay at home, first time Mother at the time. Parts of the book made me laugh, others actually made me cry because I felt relief. It was then that I really, truly began to realize our need as humans to be understood and to feel as though we aren’t alone; in our thoughts and in our struggles. I felt the same, powerful resignation with the next “self-help” type book I read many years later about patience in life. Whether it’s a heart to heart talk with my sister or close friend, or words I’ve read; there’s something so therapeutic about truly identifying with others’ feelings and experiences. The greatest gift I’ve been given from my entrance into the “blogging world” thus far, has been my ability to emotionally connect with many of the things I’ve read from other writers. To sympathize with the phases they are at in their lives, the harsh realities they have faced, and the passing thoughts they share. 

As I mentioned in my first post, I try very hard to be an upbeat, glass half full type person. Usually, I succeed. But like any normal person, I experience emotional highs and lows; often depending on the circumstances of my life at that very moment. In an effort to keep consistently open and honest throughout this writing process, I’ve decided to share even the thoughts I’ve had that aren’t the most nourishing. Because those thoughts, in a way, may prove to be just as helpful to others as the positive ones are. 

After a long day of fighting a cold, shuffling children around, cleaning up after them, feeding them, and getting them to bed, I was feeling pretty spent. But I told myself to sit in bed and write; just whatever came to my mind the second the pencil hit the notebook. And here’s what came out:

I feel as though I am at a disadvantage. To grow the imagination, the originality within me. Although it would kill me not to. It would appear as though I’m stuck. My future has been written out for me. Maybe not the details, but the outline. What I can express, what I can create, is my way to escape; my ability to scream without making a sound. I was born a free bird; I was meant to fly far away and do great things. My mind wanders always. But our choices dictate the direction we’re headed, and I feel I’m on a one way road. This is my truth, my reality. I wonder how many others have felt they are prisoners at the mercy of their pasts? 

Much of these feelings of being confined and somewhat resentful at times, stem from my being a caregiver, a wife, and a mother too early in life. Then divorcing and having to hit rock bottom before I could climb my way back up. I’ve truly felt at times as though my life would have turned out much differently, possibly much more fulfilling, had I not made the choices I wasn’t mentally or emotionally equipped to make. I never had the time to focus only on myself and to pursue some of the things that were in my heart to do. But despite those very legitimate feelings of frustration and regret, here is what I concluded with:

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars” ~ MLK Jr.

We all have darkness of varying shades and depth. For me, that darkness tends to intensify when I am feeling weighed down by the encumbrance and accountability of being a single Mother. The life decisions I am often faced with that sit heavy on my mind many anxious nights. The ones I wish someone else would make for me. Implosion, however, is not an option. Nor will I be content with dutifully moving through life without passion, without intensity. If it takes years of flickering before the star that is my soul shines brighter than the rest, well then, let it flicker. 

The point of all of this being, sometimes we are mentally stronger than other times. Sometimes, even if just for a brief moment, we wallow in self pity. But there are always others who can relate in some capacity. Others who have hit the same walls, and yet come out on the other side. Even though life didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, it can still be beautiful and fulfilling. It’s ok to entertain negative thoughts for a moment, as long as we turn them around and realize that we have the ability to shine, even if it takes us a little longer than most. Life is a process, one we are all trying to figure out as we go. One that’s easier to figure out together. Maybe my life could have been easier in some ways, even more exciting. But there’s no telling if the darkness I’ve experienced and the frustrations I encountered early on in life, have actually made me a deeper, more well rounded, more inwardly beautiful person than I would have been if it had been smooth sailing. 

My mindset for the upcoming months:

“Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Now is your time. Walk closely with people you love. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.” 

Friday

It’s Friday morning. The only weekday morning I don’t have my children. This usually means I can wake up to the sunlight peeking through the shades, rather than the sound of fighting over whose bowl of cereal is more full or the nails on chalkboard sound of cartoon characters blaring through the TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love those little monsters with every fiber in my body. But the silence and ease of Friday mornings remains idyllic.

As I listen to music and get ready for my day, I look to the coming weekend with anticipation. I have a few things planned, but for the most part, I’m free (which doesn’t happen often enough). I decide to head to my favorite coffee shop in town. It’s downtown and completely out of my way to work, but I love the place. The inside is too small for the amount of patrons they see on a daily basis; especially on Saturday mornings when people are out enjoying the farmer’s market. What it lacks in size, however, it makes up for in charm. The establishment is a reminder of the small town that this rapidly growing commuter location once was. The young employees are always eager and cheery and dare I say, actually seem to enjoy their job. Their Chai lattes (my drink of choice) taste earthy and robust, unlike the over processed/syrupy concoction Starbucks has to offer. Their bagels are always so fresh and toasted to perfection. It’s just one of those things in life that make me happy, albeit small and seemingly insignificant.

Upon walking in, I see familiar faces. A group of old retired men that sit there every morning chatting about sports and politics. I wonder how many of them consider that the highlight of their day. I’m reminded that no matter our age, we never lose that need to belong, to be in the company of peers. I also see a Grandma sitting with her little Granddaughter, enjoying a drink and something sweet. The smile on both of their faces is so bright that I can’t help but smile myself. They are unsuccessfully taking a “selfie”, so I offer to take their picture for them. The Grandma gladly relinquishes the phone to me and tells me they are having a special “Grandma/Granddaughter Day”. Growing up, I never had Grandparents I was close to and in that quick moment, I was happy to have captured the memory they were making together. How beautiful that life offers us so many different types of relationships to nourish and enjoy.

As I wait for my order, I sit at an empty table next to a middle aged woman. She was probably in her mid to late forties, sitting in yoga pants, reading the newspaper and sipping her perfectly foamed cappuccino. I envied her for a second, sitting there enjoying her morning, with no apparent rush. Suddenly she looks over at me with an endearing smile and says: “I love your outfit; your skirt with those cute sandals….very pretty. I saw you walk in and wanted to tell you.” Those are the best compliments, the random ones….with no ulterior motive, no hesitations. I thanked her and headed off to work.

On my drive I thought about those few minutes in the coffee shop. How many people we come across on a daily basis and how we have the power to impact one another with a smile, a kind word, or gesture. How we are all in different stages of our lives and yet we are all in pursuit of the same basic things. I wondered, too, where I’d be when I was that woman’s age, the one that offered the compliment. Approaching my 30th birthday now, feeling the pressure of having life more “together” than I do at this moment, although not really knowing what that entails. Wondering how I will let the events in my life shape me in the next 15-20 years. Will I let them make me bitter or better?  Will I continue to look for the good in people and in the situations that I am faced with?

On this particular Friday morning, however, I am a young, single, working Mother of two. Like the loving Grandma, the relaxed middle aged woman, and the retired comrade’s, I have something to offer to those around me. With drink in hand and head held high, I’m ready to take on the day; and the world for that matter.

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“Wake up early. Drink coffee. Be ambitious, keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It is time to start living.” ~ Anonymous

Friendship

It’s only April, but it feels more like a balmy California summer night….the ones I grew up relishing. All four of our children are in the house playing, dare I say, peacefully. As I sit next to the fire pit in my best friends backyard, sipping some particularly fruity wine, the two of us singing along to the best of 90’s country music (yet another thing we have in common); I feel comfortable. Not just comfortable in the physical sense. Comfortable with the company whose presence I’m in; with where my life is at in this particular moment; and in the sense that I no longer fear the future, even though I have no idea what’s in store. Much of that comfort stems from this friendship.

I suppose it sounds a bit adolescent to refer to someone as your “best friend” when you’re this close to 30. But anything less just won’t suffice. Ever since that first Saturday morning we met for coffee almost 2 years ago, our lives have never stopped merging paths. Perhaps it’s because we were at the same complicated crossroad in our lives. Fresh off of divorce; trying to find the balance between being super (single) mom, and becoming our own person once again. I wouldn’t be able to paint you an accurate picture of my life without mentioning Amber. We are the friends that make no sense but perfect sense all in one. A random adventure, car karaoke, belly laugh, inside joke, human diary, closer than most family, once in a lifetime type of friendship.

In essence, this unexpected friendship has allowed us both to recapture some of those young, careless years we missed when we were thrown into a grown-up world far too soon. We have thrived off of the moments that let us briefly forget the decisions we have made, and those that were made for us that led us here. Two tired, young moms trying to be self-sufficient; trying to manage guilt of varying magnitudes; trying to rebuild our happily ever after. Whether we are picking up each other’s kids because we are in a bind; talking through another broken heart; walking along the streets of San Francisco at 4 AM to get pizza; admiring the fireworks from a beach in Hawaii on the Fourth of July; or freezing our butts off on a late night ferry from Seattle to catch the skyline view from the water……we have learned and we have proven that true friendship makes life worth living. It makes the hard times a little less hard and the good times, amazing.

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“Close Friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh

For true friendship, I am eternally grateful. For the few people that come along in life exactly when we need them to, and they never leave our side. The ones that help heal our wounds and readjust our thoughts when we’re ready to throw the towel in on life. Here’s to old memories, and those yet to be made with the people that make our days a little brighter, our transitions a little smoother, and our hearts a little fuller.