Fathers Day

Today is Fathers Day. A day to remember and honor Fathers everywhere.

I didn’t have the greatest examples for a father. My birth father walked out when I was a year old, leaving my mother, who was pregnant at the time, and me. My first experience with trust and fatherly love. And my adoptive father, well…. abandonment, abuse…. not a great example. My second experience in my young life with trust and fatherly love. Neither of those men showed me what a father was supposed to be and both taught me to distrust men.

You know that Kelly Clarkson song, “Piece by Piece”? I don’t know how, but she knew what my life was like and she sang that song as if it was meant for me, too. I know sadly, that many others can relate as well.

I had friends with dads who were good men, but I still didn’t trust them…. And I still didn’t believe that I would ever find that man who would be a good dad….

Until I married my husband and saw him with our firstborn.

My husband and I were just kids ourselves when we became parents. We were scared. I did not understand that saying “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad”, until that moment that I saw him hold our oldest son, tears in his eyes, and then five years later when he held our youngest son with tears in his eyes. Yes, my husband was that someone special.

He showed me what a dad should be, could be, and was.

My husband was a career Air Force man and yes, the Air Force had to come first. He was deployed, sent far from us for trainings, worked long hours… yet he still managed to show our boys just how much he loved them!

When he was away from home he would send postcards and letters just for our boys, letting them know what adventures he was having and how much he missed them and loved them. He called just to talk to them and when email came about, he would send them notes in emails. Our boys knew their dad loved them, even from far away.

Then there were the nights when he would put our oldest to bed, while I was taking care of our youngest. He would read to him, but more often than not he would climb onto our oldest son’s top bunk with him and they would look at the map of the world hanging on his wall and discuss geography. And then when our youngest was old enough, he would read to both boys before they went to bed. Precious time spent between a father and his sons.

My husband was always finding ways to exercise our boys’ minds… through history, traveling places, and math games on long road trips. He taught them both to do math in their head, quickly (man, I could never keep up with the three of them) and the boys soaked it all in, loving those times with their dad. As the boys grew, he would have deep conversations with them about everything and anything. I loved to sit and listen to their conversations, even when they were way out of my understanding. Watching them interact filled my heart with such joy.

He taught them to love the outdoors and traveling, spending hours planning amazing adventures for our family from the weekend camping trips to the multi-week road trips. He taught them both to skip rocks and the three of them skipped rocks in multiple countries and many states. Adventures were found everywhere he took our boys.

My husband spent many weekend afternoons taking the boys to movies, playing catch with them, reading with them and creating things with them. He coached their baseball teams when the Air Force had him home for the season. He attended their games, school programs and listened to their many hours of musical practice. He took them four-wheeling in the hills when we lived in South Dakota and planned fun things to do with the kids when I took off on my mother’s weekend getaways, NEVER saying or feeling like it was a chore to spend time with our boys.

My husband showed me and my boys that dads stay… that dads hug…. that dads are tough and soft…. that dads love unconditionally!

Was he perfect at parenting? No, but who is? My husband was the best dad I could have ever asked for. So today, I honor the man he is, and the dad he is.

My husband showed me through his actions that a man can be a dad, that a dad is involved with his kids, loves them unconditionally, and never leaves. And he showed me, that a dad builds his children up rather than tearing them down.

He has been the rock in our family, supporting each of us at our times of need. He has dropped everything and flown to see our boys when they needed him.

There are many times I wish that I had had a dad like him…….. and I am so grateful that my boys have had him as their dad.

I thank God every day for this man! And I am now and forever will be in awe of the dad my husband is!

I took the leap and trusted this man and I could not have asked for a better parenting partner or dad for my boys!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Finding Calm in the Water

Water…. soothing, peaceful, healing……

I have always been attracted to water whether it was a stream, lake, river, ocean and yes, even a pool.

For two summers in a row while I was young, my mom would take us on summer vacation to Bend, OR, and we would stay in a hotel right on the river. I loved that spot. I would walk down and climb around the river, listening to the sound the water made as it ran through, over and around the rocks. I loved that sound…. It was soothing. And there on the river I would relax.

There was also a pool at that hotel and I swam as much as I could. My mom called me a fish. I loved to be in water, feeling the coolness roll over my skin, floating…. letting the water take all my cares away.

There have been many pool, lake, river and ocean swims since those early summers with my mom, each bringing peace to my soul.

I told my husband many times over the years that I would really like to have a pool of my own, in my backyard that I could use anytime I wanted. We both dreamed about the forever home we would one day have and the pool we would build (even if it had to be an indoor pool in the Pacific Northwest!).

And then we moved to Arizona…. a pool year ‘round!

This past week our pool was finally finished and we could swim.

I knew I would love having a pool, even with the work it would take to keep it clean and running…. I just KNEW I was going to love it…

I was right. I have been in our pool at least twice a day, and sometimes more, since it has been full of water and running. I love swimming. I love floating. I love the water.

And I have found the place where I can be mindful…. And just breathe.

I knew I would love the pool but what I didn’t realize was just how much I needed the pool and how much my time spent in it would soothe my soul, bringing peace and calmness to my crazy life.

So early in the morning, before anyone else was up in the house, I got in my swimsuit and headed out to the pool. The water was COLD! At first anyway….

I braved the cold and swam. I started out swimming laps for exercise. But soon, I was not counting the laps anymore…I was just swimming….and noticing……

The birds were serenading me as I moved silently through the water. One bird, in particular, sang to me… different notes, different sounds…all from the same bird. It was if the bird was trying out every “ring tone” it had in its repertoire, making me smile as I listened and swam. Birds were flying above me and they were beautiful.

Early morning, just me and the birds… oh and the cow! At first I thought someone was disturbing my peace and yelling, but alas it was a cow that had wandered from its home and it was talking to me through the wall. I laughed.

20180528_072329_HDR copy

As I swam one direction in the pool, I could feel the cool water passing slowly over my body. And then I noticed my shadow, swimming slightly ahead of me. Beautiful. My inner child was there swimming with me, enjoying the serenity of the morning…. Happy!

Swimming back the other direction, instead of my shadow swimming, I noticed the light from the sun dancing along the bottom of the pool, creating light green and blue designs that delighted my heart and mesmerized my soul. Stunning!

And then I noticed the sparkle of the sea glass and abalone in the pool interior. Wow! It was if there were hundreds of crystals and gems sparkling just for me. Again, I smiled.

I floated for a bit and noticed the dancing light bouncing off of the water, dancing on the wall and trees beyond. Dancing just for me, to the music created by the birds all around. Beautiful. Soulful.

This was my moment. My mindful moment. Here I was, alone with the natural world around me, soothed by the water. And I was just there. Present. Mindful.

I spent time last week talking with the members in my Weight Watchers meetings about being mindful… present….. in the here and now….. and how much our minds and souls need those moments to just take a pause, a step back and breathe.

And that is just what I did for the couple of hours I was in the pool. I was there. Present. Mindful. And I just breathed. The worries of yesterday were gone. The worries of tomorrow were gone. The “to do” list for the day forgotten. It was just me, the water, the birds and my prayers.

Mindful, present moments help us to recharge, renew and begin the day in a calm way.

Who knew that having a pool would be one of the things I would need to soothe my soul and take my cares and stress away?

You will find me, many times a day, in the pool…. swimming, enjoying, relaxing and breathing!

Mothers Day

As a young girl I had dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up….a teacher, a writer, a singer, an actress and then a social worker.  The ideas changed and the dreams changed as I grew and learned more about myself and the world around me.

But there was one dream that never changed….. that of being a mother.  From a very young age I dreamed of having my own children and being a mom.  Of course my dream of becoming a mom was for selfish reasons….I wanted to love and be loved.  And I knew that having a child of my own, then I would be loved, unconditionally.

At my very core, the core of all that I am, I wanted to be a mom!

File0335

 

I was 20 years old when I became a mom for the first time. From the day I was told that I was pregnant, I loved my son.  I was thrilled, excited and scared. When he was born and placed in my arms, my heart melted.

I never knew a person could love so deeply so instantaneously!

And then, five years later, I became a mom for the second time.  And, like with his older brother, I lovedimg283 copy him before he was born.  When my youngest son was born, my heart melted again….Never could I imagine loving so deeply, so instantaneously…not once, but twice in my lifetime!

My dream to be a mom had come true!

My greatest joy in life has been being their mother. Reading to them, traveling with them, exploring with them, playing games, running outside, playing in the sand, laughing with them, crying with them and watching them grow and learn and develop into individuals with their own thoughts and personalities!

Each of my boys is a caring, big hearted individual..… they both are smart, curious and adventurous…… they both make me laugh with their corny sense of humor they got from their dad (which I love about all of them, even when I am rolling my eyes)…. They each challenge me to look at the world differently….. and they each have their own passions and opinions about the world around us and I am so thankful they do.  I am proud that they think for themselves and challenge me to think differently and see differently.

I am so proud of my boys!

I love my boys deeply and unconditionally!

I was not and am not perfect as a mother…. No one gives us a manual to tell us exactly what to do and when we should do it.  I yelled too much, I helicoptered at times, and I didn’t always know what I should do or how to help these boys of mine to grow up into men.  I loved and I worried…about them and about whether or not I was screwing them up…. I did the best I could do, knowing what I knew then.

But I know deep inside me at the very core, that I did do one thing right with my boys, the thing I promised myself I would do as a mom…. I hugged my boys, I made sure they knew they were loved and that they were wanted.

Today, I am so blessed to be mom to these two men.

Oh my, what joy they have brought into my life!

And today, as we celebrate mother’s everywhere, I am reminded of how blessed my life is and how much richer my life is because of the gifts God sent me in the form of my two boys, my babies!

It Starts With Me

I opened my Facebook feed this morning, and there it was for the umpteenth time in the past few months….a meme shared that perpetuates misinformation about addicts.

I was angry seeing it, yet again.

And then it had me thinking about everything the past couple of years—the comments, the questions, the looks, and I was angry again…..with family, friends, acquaintances, doctors, psychiatrists, addiction professionals and strangers who have continued to judge and perpetuate the stigma and misinformation surrounding addicts and their families.

I was angry because for the past couple of years I have had to explain to others my son and our situation and the choices we have made that they “kindly” tell me are wrong. And angry because I continue to need to correct the misinformation and have to continue to fight for help for my son from professionals who make decisions on care based on their own judgements and beliefs about addicts.

I was just angry with everyone this morning.

And I realized just how tired I am of all of it.

I. AM. TIRED.

Some days are just like that.

And then my day went on.

My son is having to deal with some health and dental issues now that are a result of his life these past few years. And he was not mentally ready to go to one of those needed appointments today……I was not happy.

We argued.

He said he was just having a really bad day…..and I said I was too….I wasn’t feeling well and wished I could have just stayed in bed today…….

And then, just before my next words came out of my mouth…..it hit me. Another epiphany!

I was about to tell my son that we all have to do things we don’t want to do and we just do it……BUT it hit me in that moment…..I still didn’t completely understand…….

I have been living with my son’s emotional ups and downs his entire life. I have been his biggest advocate for help. I am advocating for change within our broken system. And I have been living and explaining life with a loved one who suffers from mental illnesses and addiction, yet I STILL don’t completely GET IT!

And if I still struggle to understand…..if I still struggle to wrap my head around it when he just cannot get out of his bed or cannot look someone in the eye or cannot do the daily things the rest of us do….then HOW can I expect anyone else to understand? How can I expect anyone else to “get it”? To know what it is like? And how can I expect compassion?

And how can I be angry with those who do not understand….who have never walked this walk……who have never been in my shoes?

I realized that it is up to me to help others to understand what this life is like, to understand the realities and the truths instead of the myths and stigma and stereotypes. I need to help others so that they can find compassion for those who are sick and for their families…….

And my anger left me…..my anger at the world and my anger with my son.

No matter how tired I am, I must continue to explain, to advocate for aid and to advocate for change. And I cannot judge others who have never walked in my shoes, my son’s shoes or my family’s shoes.

I am now taking the leap and formulating what it is I want you all to know……the lessons we have learned, the loneliness and isolation, the fear, the dread…… And I will share this soon, in the hope that it will help to change the narrative surrounding those with mental health illnesses.

The change starts with me.

That View….

My husband and I just spent an extended weekend in San Francisco, visiting our youngest son and daughter-in-law. We had a great time seeing this city through their eyes….food, drinks, shopping, site-seeing, and hiking. A wonderful trip for us and time spent with our kids was priceless.

My husband normally plans all of our trips and what we are going to do. Those trips are filled with so much that we often need a vacation to recover from our vacation. So, when we planned this extended weekend, we let our son do the planning for us….. with time spent with the two of them the priority. And we wanted to see San Francisco through the eyes of these two young adults, to see what they loved about their city, their home.

Our son and daughter-in-law did a fantastic job of planning just the right amount of things to see and do and quite a variety. We completely enjoyed our time with them, creating more memories to look back on.

I could write a book about our trip and all that there is to see and do in San Francisco. But, this blog post is all about THAT View….

Our son planned a hike for us for Sunday morning. Saturday night we watched the fog roll into the city from their living room.   Of course, we checked the weather apps to see what the morning would be like and if the fog would lift before our hike.

And the weather apps all said it would lift about 8am. Yes! We would get to see those views our son had told us about.

He chose to take us on the Lands End trail hike. And said that hike would offer us spectacular, out of this world views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the ocean and the bay. We were excited and my camera was ready to go.

Sunday morning came and we were ready for our hike. The fog was hanging on, but the weather apps said it would lift about 9am now. So, off the four of us went.

We started from the ocean, hiking toward the Golden Gate bridge and the bay.

And the fog hung on…..that view our son and daughter-in-law said was so spectacular was shrouded in mystery. The fog was surreal and mystical. And it was beautiful, creating an air of mystery all along the trail.

Our views were spectacular. And magical. And beautiful.

As we hiked and talked and took in the surrounding areas, I couldn’t help but realize that THAT VIEW was THIS—my family….my son, my daughter-in-law, my husband.

THAT view was spectacular. THAT view was beautiful. THAT view made my heart dance. THAT view was just what I needed and wanted. And THAT view will make my heart sing and bring a smile to my face for many, many years to come.

My son and daughter-in-law were right. The hike would give us amazing views! And time spent with them, talking, laughing, sweating…..all AMAZING!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The love of family and time spent with family is absolutely priceless and NOTHING beats it!

“I have been waiting my whole life for this”

body 1

I have heard this phrase many times….and even shared it with the members who attend my meetings. I talk a lot to others about being kind to ourselves….

“Would you say that to a friend?” “What if a friend said that? How would you respond?”

We are our own worst critics and sometimes…. actually often…our first thoughts, those words we say to ourselves are not kind…

“That was stupid!” “Really? How stupid was that?” “I am so fat!” Well, you get the idea.

The thing is, I talk to others about being kind and about that voice inside their heads. But I forget to listen to my own advice sometimes….don’t we all?

And today, as I looked in the mirror, I said some not so nice things…out loud. And my husband was there. And he looked at me and asked, “What would you say if one of your members said those words?”

SMACK! Way to hit me with my own words!

And I stopped and thought about it for a minute. What would I say when someone says “I am so disgusted! Look at this! Just disgusting!” I wouldn’t agree with them that is for sure. I would tell them they were beautiful! And I would ask them to focus on that one thing they find positive about their bodies, instead of the things that is driving the negative voice.

So, my husband was right to ask me that (please don’t tell him I said so!).

And that little exchange had me thinking or rather rethinking how I am talking to myself and about myself. Because, yes, my body hears EVERYTHING my mind thinks and says. And I have worked REALLY hard to get that voice out of my head…the one I grew up listening to that told me I was worthless, not pretty, not funny, not…. anything!

I have worked REALLY hard to get rid of my dad’s voice telling me at every chance he could that I wasn’t good enough…..NEVER good enough…..and his words became my words…..after all, I must have been ugly, disgusting and worthless because my own father, the one man who was supposed to protect and love me, said those things about me.

It took me more than 40 years to FINALLY realize that I AM WORTH IT! I AM BEAUTIFUL! And I got there by believing in myself, by looking for the positives to focus on rather than the negative, by saying those four words (I am worth it!) every day looking in the mirror and by forgiving my dad (more one day about forgiving someone who never believed they needed to be forgiven). It took a lot of my life to finally be my own friend and to treat myself as I would a friend.

Still, there are times that despite the changes and despite thinking that I have gotten rid of that voice, well……it creeps in and it takes me a minute to realize what is happening…..and then I kick that voice right out of my head. My dad was the one with the problem, not me. And it was because of his inner ugliness that he had to make me feel less than…..

But no more. A loving reminder from my husband and I am back to being kind. It took me a long, long, long time to get here and A LOT of tears….so there is NO going back. I may slip into an old habit, we all do, but I will not stay there.

I am no one’s victim! I am me…beautiful, caring, loving, adventurous me! And I am worth it! Every day!

body

Finding My “Why”

This month I celebrate 10 years since reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers. 10 years.

Never. Going. Back. There. Again.

These 10 years have not been perfect. Most of these 10 years I maintained at or below my goal weight, but not always. Yet, each time my weight would edge up, I would get back where I needed to be….sometimes it took me a little while, but I always stopped before I went up too much because I WAS NOT going to go back to where I started. And not wanting to feel the way that girl felt, the heavier and unhealthier me, was a powerful motivator to get me back on track.

But, I am an emotional eater. And these past couple of years have been hard. Old habits crept in to give me the comfort I was seeking. But I kept telling myself I wouldn’t go back……I’ve got this…..I know what to do……

I am not at my goal weight.

Wow. That is hard to admit, despite the fact that I have known this, and those I work for have known this. And I have struggled to figure out why I am having such a difficult time losing the weight. Thankfully, I am maintaining….because I will NOT gain it all back!

I have been going to meetings as a member to help me. But for the past two years I have gone to meetings and not weighed….why would I get on the scale at the meeting when I know I am up. And I only needed to weigh “officially” once a month for my job. So…… I kept struggling. There was no real accountability or commitment…….

Then two weeks ago I spent the week talking to the members in my Weight Watchers meetings about their “why”…..that reason for walking through the door and the reason they wanted to lose weight and get healthy.

I shared the reason I walked through the door of my meeting back in 2006. And my reason to continue. I asked my members to rediscover and get in touch with their “why”….. yet, I couldn’t answer the same questions I asked my members.

Here I am, a lifetime member and a Leader for Weight Watchers and I was struggling to find my “why”.  

And I didn’t understand how I could not know my “why”…… until yesterday when I had my epiphany, and it clicked with me that I needed a ”why”….I needed to remember the reason I started, the reason I continue, but more importantly, I needed to have a new “why”….one to motivate me to get back to the healthy me I wanted to be and one to motivate me to get to the personal goal I had set long ago, and never reached.

But no matter how hard I tried, I could not answer that question.

So, I decided to start with accountability and with the mindset of a new member. And last week I went to my meeting, at a location where the members do not know me or that I work for Weight Watchers (I need the anonymity) and I stepped on the scale.

I. STEPPED. ON. THE. SCALE.

Boy was that a big smack upside my head.

I knew what it was going to say. I knew. But seeing it written in my weigh-in book, the tears started. Crap! What have I done to myself? How could I do this to myself? I was so mad at me. And disappointed in me. My leader was amazing in that moment. She “got” it. She knew what I was feeling. No lecture. No questions. No judgement. I remembered in that moment how safe those meetings feel for me. And how much I need them—for the accountability, for the support and for the judgement free zone.

Okay. Done. Now to get back to where I want to be. And that meant doing the next step….tracking my current weight in my Weight Watchers app, which I have not done in a really long time. Another smack upside my head. That day was becoming a “reality-hit-you-upside-your-head” kind of day. But I needed it!

This week was better but still hasn’t gone as planned….why? Because I was still struggling to find my “why”. Still struggling to keep tracking….hmmmm…….and then……

AHHH! Epiphany! I realized yesterday, in one of my many conversations with myself, that I wasn’t finding my “why”, because I wasn’t being honest with myself. I wasn’t being honest about where I was and what I had been doing. Stepping on the scale helped me to see the reality, but I still needed to quit hiding. Yes, hiding from the truth of it all and I needed to stop pretending that everything was great and that I was at my goal.

How can I find my “why” when I was not facing the whole picture and telling myself everything was fine? Kind of hard to get in touch with a “why” when you don’t think you need one.

THAT was my epiphany!

And then my “why” showed up. I want to get back to my goal weight and to my personal goal because I want to be around for my grandchildren that will one day come into this world….but I don’t just want to be alive—I want to run with them, get down on the floor and play, skip with them, swim with them, hike and camp with them… I want to be able to take them on trips and dance at their weddings. Yes, I am looking far into the future…..but if I continue on the path I am currently on, even if I stay right here and maintain, I won’t get to that far off future with the grandkids I hope to have one day. I need to look to the future, I need to dream about the things I want to do—hiking with my husband for our 50th wedding anniversary, traveling, and living to be 100—a healthy, vibrant and active 100-year-old. I am getting older, the arthritis is setting in, and I know that getting to the healthiest version of me will make all the things I dream of possible.

There is my “why”.

And once I found it, my week went better…. Tracking, mindset, food choices all were healthier because of my epiphany that led me to my why.

I am taking the leap and looking forward to a healthy, active and very, very long life.