Did I Really Just DO That?

I just did something that I always knew was coming, but as usual I kept telling myself that “there are years before that happens.” Well, I can’t say that anymore…I just wished my son a Happy 20th Birthday…I no longer have a teenager. Wow…just WOW… Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was holding him for the first time and promising him that we would always love him and that he could do anything he set his mind to accomplish. As much as things change over the years, the more they stay the same. I find myself still telling him this very thing. I look back over the years and I am amazed at how much he has grown and matured over time. Gone are the days of him putting a plastic bucket on his head and running into things, immediately cackling with laughter; gone are the days that he needs his Beary Bear to comfort him through the night. Gone are the days that he needs me to do everything for him. A lot of things have come and gone in 20 years. (yes, still letting that one sink in) A lot of good, and a lot of bad have happened to us. The one constant in all of this is the love I have for him and what he does/will do. He is an amazing young man who just happens to be my son! I know that there are many amazing young men out there, but I happen to know for a fact that mine is the absolute best! If you doubt me, check my Mom’s Prerogative and have no doubt. I am entitled to and I would dare say required to believe this!

Anyway, I digress. ( I can guarantee you NEVER thought I would do that.  LOL)  Today is a milestone for him, but also for me. He gets the wonder, excitement, fear and anxiety of leaving his teen years behind him and I…well, I get the fear, anxiety, wonder and excitement of him leaving his teen years behind him. While I know he is more than capable, there is (and always will be) a part of me that so strongly wants to be there to help. I guess my new mission is to fully trust that what I have done has been enough to get him a head start and even a heads up to what is coming. While I fully acknowledge that I made a LOT of mistakes, I also see that he is turning our pretty well and – inspire of my efforts – is more than OK.

Today is the first day of the rest of his life, but it is also the first day of the rest of MY life. Not only does he have to adjust to his new reality of adulthood and such — I have to adjust to him no longer being a teen. All I know is that no matter what comes, I will always be his Mom and he will ALWAYS be my baby boy. Somehow, someway we WILL make it through and the future is bright! How could it NOT be with a son like mine?  🙂

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

The List

As the 5 year anniversary of my Mom’s passing approaches, my mind goes back to the months following that day. As many of you understand, the first year after the loss of a loved one is full of firsts — firsts days, first weeks, first months and so on. In the midst of this comes the first holidays, birthdays and anniversaries and no clearcut guidelines as to how to approach and deal with these events. Looking back, the first few months are a blur and I really don’t know just how I processed those first few months, especially that first Mothers’ Day — I just know I did. As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approached, I found it to be more difficult than I though it would be — you know what I mean. It had been several months and I was “supposed to” be getting on with my life and starting to heal, but that wasn’t the case. Because of this I knew that I would have to make a concerted effort to bring my focus back to where it needed to be. My Mom would not want me moping around feeling sorry for myself and missing out on the true purpose of these holidays, so I made a plan and, thankfully, I stuck to it. Sometime in October I made my mind up that on November 1st, I would start a list of things I am thankful for and post it to Facebook each and every day the month of November. Looking back, it really did allow me to search for things that were a positive in my life and there were many. I also chose to stop posting them after November 30th; that doesn’t mean that I stopped being thankful, it simply means that I make it a more private endeavor — and the things became more and more personal as Christmas approached, but the habit was in place. For that I am very thankful because I needed the focus for a while longer. For some reason, I kept that paper with my list — I guess it was a symbol of how strong I could be when necessary; then I lost track of that list, or so I thought…

While going through some papers the other day, that list reappeared and at that moment I remembered why I had put it in that place. It was one of those days that I needed a pick-me-up and I was not disappointed. In honor of April 23, 2009, I want to share this list with you. Please keep in mind that the list you are reading is a much condensed version of what I posted each day to Facebook in November of 2009, but I am still thankful for each and every one of them. I hope this list brings positive things to your mind.

I am thankful for:  You, yes you…God is… True Friends… Music… Family… Forgiveness… Freedom… Today… Military… Veterans & their Families… Inspired Writers… Justin… Change of Seasons… Laughter… Andy… Andy’s continued employment… Memories… Random Acts of Kindness… Conversation and Dialogue… Andy’s Contest Entry & win… Another Day… Time with Mom… In-laws… Joy… Thanksgiving… Relationships… Love… Anniversaries… Simple Pleasures…

When originally posted, I expanded on some of these a little, others a great deal and still others were simply left alone — it all depended upon how much I chose to share at  the time. At first sight of this list the other day a smile immediately came to my face and a lot of emotions followed — yes some sad, but mainly happy. While it is true I am a fairly private person, I needed to share this list 5 years ago, but I also need to share this now. Looking back, my list is in no way complete — it doesn’t even come close to covering all that came to my mind while I was doing it. This list helped me through a tough time, but more importantly, it taught me that I could and would make it through a very rough time in my life. I hope those of you that are going through something will be inspired to find your strength to persevere and push forward.

My Mom is no longer here with us, but her spirit, her memories and her energy will always be a part of my life. Was my relationship with my Mom perfect? Absolutely not, but there are plenty of good things and pleasant memories I have to keep her alive in my heart. Maybe one day I will write a blog on her, but we will have to see about that.

 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Braver, Stronger and Smarter

When I was a little girl…just a couple of years ago…I absolutely LOVED a certain cartoon bear named Winnie the Pooh! That relationship still exists to this day — he is a special source of comfort and friendship for me. It is for this reason that I introduced my son to him from the very beginning; it just so happened that Disney decided that the world had been devoid of a full length movie about that lovable bear and his friends not long after his birth. Before the time “Pooh’s Grand Adventure” was available on tape, we were limited to a variety of short videos starring this “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” From the very start, Justin was just as enthralled with him as I was; this of course was heavenly for me. There is one quote from that movie that still lives in our family. A. A. Milne had it right when he wrote: “Promise me you’ll always remember You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” To this day, those words have special meaning and touching memories tied to them for our family.

Isn’t that the epitome of what we, as parents, dream for our children — that they would be confident in themselves and their abilities? That they would be braver, stronger and smarter? Of course it is! Naturally, each child is different and one or more of those qualities will be more readily attained than the others. In addition to that, some kids are naturally more receptive to the encouraging we provide and even some of us, as parents, are a little lacking in the abilities to follow through with our ideal plan. Even with those limitations, we still hope and dream that our kids will achieve greater than we did and become the very best they can be and achieve lofty goals — because of, or inspire of, our own involvement.

Justin turned 19 yesterday and I wanted to write something on his Facebook wall for the world to see. As I sat there trying to come up with something particularly witty or sentimental, my mind kept drifting to the above quote; I quickly determined that this quote was exactly what I wanted to say and that I didn’t need to reword it or even try to catch the sentiment. I really needed him to hear — ok, read those words from me. Then the realization happened; at that moment I realized that I needed to say them. Not because I thought he had forgotten or that I was afraid he would not remember — I needed those words to flow between us because I just needed the connection. From his 13th birthday through his 17th, I was not able to celebrate his special day with him — it has always been put off for a day or 2…or 5 because of traveling with his youth group. They returned from the trip ON his 18th, so at least I saw him for a few hours of it. All of that was ok because I had the luxury of seeing him daily leading up to and following. This year is different; not only did I not get to see him ON his birthday, but I don’t get to see him daily any more. That is just how it works when college years attack. We are at the phase of his life that he is spreading his wings and learning to fly on his own. I guess in a very real sense I am doing the very same thing, but that is a good thing. (That is not the subject of this post, but it may come out in another — who knows?!)

The entire quote goes like this:  “Promise me you’ll always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is,even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.

As Justin has grown and matured through the years, this quote has always been a part of our lives — and I expect it always will be. We learned it well before he started school and repeated it as recently as yesterday — its message remains the same. To be honest, I expect him to be telling me this one day as he moves on with this adventure called life. When that day happens, I will have to remember that I am braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. But the most important thing is, even when we are apart, you (Justin) will always be with me. 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

The little Things

Well, I am back and hopefully I will be better about the regularity of my posts. As I type this, Justin is less than a month into his second semester at the University of Tennessee at Martin and doing very well! He is now the Assistant Sports Editor at UTM’s paper — not too shabby for a Freshman!  In addition to this, he is set to join the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society in February! Yes, I am more than a little proud of my boy, but I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. There is just something so satisfying about having a son doing so well AND enjoying himself in the process! Yes, I said it — satisfying. Some of you know what I am trying to say, while others of you do not — and that is OK! I am learning that it is all about recognizing and acknowledging the little things — the little things that build the foundation for the bigger and better things yet to come.

One thing I am trying to do is step back and let him take over the reins of his life — not an easy thing for this Mom to do. If you know me at all, you know this to be true. I know this is a learning process for all of us, but it is a necessary thing that must happen. As a Mom, I have always believed my main job is to teach, mold and direct my son in such a way that he is ready to step out into the real world and start down his own path. The thing is — somewhere in the process I forgot to prepare MYSELF for the transition and had to play catch-up. The one question I came up with early into his first semester away at school was this:  Who thought it was a good idea  to take a group of recent high school graduates and put them in a dorm  hours away from home with limited supervision? I mean REALLY?! Some of you really grasp that, others of you have no clue, but many of you WILL!  🙂  When those thoughts creep into my head, I have to take a moment and chuckle and then just take a deep breath to regroup. Then and only then can I take a step forward and remind myself that it is just one more step to his independence. For some of you this is old hat and you have much more experience than I do, but for me it is all a little fresh and new. All I can say is that I too am going through a growing process.

Throughout this process I am learning that tiny steps of progress pave the way for more little steps forward that will lead to full strides. All in all I am doing well — most days. There are still days that I wonder who thought this whole college thing away from home is a good idea, but most days I really do see how it aids maturity. For the first time in his life he has to make day-to-day decisions without his Dad or I there to guide him. Yes, there are always phone calls, emails and other modes of communication, but it is different. Gone are the days that I make all of his meals to make sure he eats his veggies or keep track of his schedule so nothing is forgotten — we are full into the days where he has to learn self-sufficiency. Gone are the days that I control exactly how he spends his money — he must now figure out a budget, priorities and balance. Gone are the days that I  vet his friends and protect him –now he must navigate roommate relationships and all that entails.

I am remiss if I simply dwell on what is no more; I am unfair if I concentrate on what “used to be.” and I fail if I neglect to focus on the good, the positive and the growth that I see. Since moving into his dorm, I see evidence of the flashes of brilliance I longed for as the Mom of a middle schooler — those moments when I can actually say “He gets it!” I see evidence of little things that give me hope. You know what I am talking about, I know you do! After years and years of preaching to Justin about planning ahead and not waiting until the last moment, I actually see evidence that he is starting to do just that. Not only did he plan his classes well, but he did so with forethought into future semesters. Granted, he has the help of the advisors, but he asks the questions and makes the plan! And it goes beyond that — thankfully!

In addition to that, he is dealing with some very real situations involving peer pressure. Yes, I know there are always things in high school, but somehow college roommates up the ante. Thankfully, Justin has been open with both his Dad and me about things he is facing, and that is good. We have told him all of his life that we are here for him — not just for teaching, but also for listening. Without going into detail, I will just say that he as faced some pretty tempting things in his dorm room and has made some good choices. I am not by any means saying ALL his choices have been perfect since moving into his dorm, but I am pretty pleased. There is hope — and I cannot express just HOW thankful I am for that.

In all of this I do keep reminding myself to stay focussed on the big picture. My newborn infant is no more; he is growing and developing into a smart, independent and capable young man. That being said, he will ALWAYS by my baby, and he has resigned himself to this — much to his chagrin!  As his Mom, it is up to me to set the example, and I am trying. I would be doing him, and me a disservice to neglect to see the progress he is making. I have found that when I look for the good or positive, I usually find it, or the opportunity for it to blossom. I can spend my time lamenting the fact that my son is not a baby any more or I can just be overjoyed that he is growing physically, mentally and emotionally enough to be away at school. I can dwell on the fact that he is no longer under my roof and my protection or I can celebrate the fact that he is no longer under my roof and protection.  Think about that one for a moment. 🙂

On that note, and with a very happy heart, I will leave you for now. I will keep trying to look for the positive and I hope that you can too. If that sound familiar, I hope that means that you have read some of my previous posts. I can only share with you my experiences — and I hope that I can at least encourage you to try to take one step at a time into the world of looking for the good and positive. Don’t worry — I am right there with you. We can take the steps together and as always…

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas — and a day full of Peace!

Ah Christmas — that free-flowing, relaxed, pressure free time that we can just put out feet up and enjoy those around us!! Those around us are those that we hold most dear and just enjoy having around all year-long; no pressure, no stress and of course no guilt!  Such a wonderful time of the year!

Wait — What?  You think I am crazy? Well, the jury is still out on that, but you may have a point about my opening statement. Most of us, myself included have had the exact opposite of the peaceful, joy filled experience referenced above at least once in our lives. We live in a time where there is much pressure in place to make the Holidays “just so,” throw the “perfect party,” or simply find “the” gift; we feel the need to match someone else’s idea of Holiday cheer or be labeled a failure by others, or even worse, by ourselves. If for some reason we don’t spend enough, look long enough or labor hard enough, our Holiday is a complete disaster and we may as well have just thrown in the towel to begin with because we knew from the outset that we were just not up to snuff, so why did we even try?!  WHY oh WHY can’t Christmas just be over already!!???

OK  — STOP!!!  Breathe… good.  Inhale…Exhale…good. Repeat as necessary — I’ll wait for you!  🙂 Continue reading

Enough

Christmas — the most wonderful time of the year! At least that is what the song says, right? It’s the time for us to run out, make snow angels, smile all the time and just generally make merry and walk around with tons of boxes wrapped just so– right? So, what’s up with that?  Hmmm…

The reality of it all is that for many, maybe you, it is a great deal less than ideal. What should be a magical and festive time of the year has become a stressful, debt inducing, socially crazy and out of control monster. For others, it is simply a reminder of how things used to be, but cannot be anymore. Maybe due to the loss of a special loved one, lack of employment, sickness or a whole myriad of other reasons, Christmas just isn’t quite so joyous for you this year. I get it — I really do. Sometimes life just gets in the way and it is difficult if not impossible to overcome “stuff.” No matter how many times we are told to keep in mind the real reason for the season, we just can’t get there.

Even for those of us that absolutely adore Christmas it can seem that society has hijacked our perfectly good Christmas with a spirit of over-commercialization and grandeur that only the most wealthy are able to maintain. We feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’ or the Smith’s or whoever; then for some reason, instead of joy and peace in our lives we are left with a sense of guilt and shame that we “couldn’t do more.” Too often we are left just wanting the whole Holiday season to be done so we can go back to our normal lives and not worry about this stuff anymore.

Still others concentrate so intently on the baby that the man he became is lost somewhere in the shuffle.

I know some reading this will be able to say that they don’t fall into any of the above situations, and I say that is FANTASTIC!!! I just ask that you think about those around you that do.

Regardless of how you feel about Christmas — love it, loathe it or just don’t care at all — I want to encourage you to take a fresh look at the Season this year. I hope that you will find something — just one thing to start with — that makes you smile. It might be an ornament, lights or just the smiles on the faces around you — ANYTHING — Just choose! Once you do, you can go back to it in your mind’s eye when the negative “stuff” comes rushing in. You might just find that it is your anchor, your oasis. Because when we get down to it, at its most basic, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the tree or even the lights and songs. Christmas isn’t even about a baby — it is about relationships; the true spirit of Christmas is not to brag about how much you love Christmas,or its true meaning — it is about showing how much you love people. Christmas is about giving — giving from the heart; sometimes that doesn’t involve any money at all. Christmas is about love…Christmas is a chance to make a difference.

Some time ago I read a story by Bob Perks in one of the Chicken Soup books. Part of the story included the following passage:

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”

For Christmas this year, I wish you Enough!

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Choosing Thankfulness

Three years ago, facing my first Holiday season without my Mom and a few other difficult situations, I was at one of the lowest points I can remember; I was having a difficult time finding myself. It was at that time that I knew that if I was to have a chance to move forward I would have to do so intentionally and on purpose — it wasn’t happening spontaneously. Somewhere during that October I decided to make November a month of thankfulness; instead of having one Thanksgiving Day, I would have 30 days of it. I purposed to start on November 1st and post something for which I was thankful on Facebook and I did it. Some days were easier than others but I did not give up and I not only made it through the Holiday season, I found a way to enjoy it — I had been able to move forward. My Mom was still gone and my difficult situations had not improved, but I had changed my focus.

Every year since, I have continued to do the same thing and I am finding that it is refreshing to stop and find something positive in each day. I am faced again with circumstances that could easily distract me and sap my joy, but I am again determined to keep my focus on the blessings in my life — and there are many. I have been reminded many times over the last 3 years that it is not always about the big, boisterous resounding events; it is often as simple as seeing my favorite Fall tree turn into a blazing crimson torch letting me know I am almost home. It is about stopping to notice the random acts of kindness going on around me each and every day. And it is in the great joy that a phone call can bring at the most unexpected moment. Life is our gift and it is up to us to choose how we focus our energy.

Since this is the first day of November, I want to start off my Thanksgiving month in this blog. So, to kick it off, I want to say that I am thankful for you, the reader of this blog. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read what I have to say! I greatly appreciate you and hope that you will share this with those you think would enjoy reading it too.

Now, while I won’t promise a blog every day — I can actually promise there won’t be 30 blogs this month — I can promise that I will keep looking for, AND FINDING things that bring positive to my life.

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!