A Celebration of Love

Our youngest son….our baby, got married this past weekend. Surrounded by Redwood trees, in an outdoor ceremony witnessed by many of their friends and family, they became husband and wife….Mr. and Mrs.

We are thrilled!

Our family has been through a lot this past couple of years and the joy that this wedding brought us is priceless…..I am having a hard time putting into words what this wedding has meant to me and to my family.

We arrived in California Wednesday evening, ready to celebrate with family and friends. We all had been waiting for the day of the wedding to arrive.

My son and his now wife are perfect for each other and together they planned a celebration that reflects not only who they are as individuals but who they are as a couple…..

And it was beautiful!

As their friends and family gathered the few days before the wedding, I could see just how loved the two of them were and how much those who were there represented who the two of them were.

I was emotional every day leading up to the wedding and at the wedding.

This was my baby…..

And now he is married, a husband.

For years and years, I prayed for the perfect person for my son to spend his life with…someone who would challenge him, share his sense of adventure, and someone who would love him as much as he loved her. And our new daughter-in-love is that perfect partner and so much more for our son. I couldn’t have imagined a better person for him to share life with and to share in all the adventures that lay ahead of them.

4 years ago our son brought his now wife home to meet us for the first time. We introduced her to our family style of site-seeing…..and she didn’t run away! I knew that first time we met her, that she was THE one for our son. And she became a part of our family the day my son brought her home. Now, 4 years later we were “officially” welcoming her into our family and it felt so right! She stole our sons heart and she stole ours, too!

The two of them inspire my husband and I to be more present in the now, and challenge us to see the world a little differently. They make us so proud! And celebrating them was more than I could have imagined.

The wedding venue….the adventure theme…..the family and friends….the love…..perfect!

My heart is filled with joy….overflowing with happiness and love….

My family has grown…I now have a daughter! (And I did not have to go through labor to gain this beautiful daughter) And we have more extended family now….wonderful!

I am so looking forward to the adventures that are ahead for these two and cannot wait to see where this life takes them!

For 5 days, I left the world and the worry behind me….and I enjoyed! I cherished each moment, each conversation I had, each new person I met, and the love that flowed in every aspect of this wonderful Wedding.

I was mindful and present…..and though we missed our oldest son being there, our youngest still found a way for him to be present, through a recorded reading…..

My heart is bursting with love!

I wish my son and daughter-in-love many, many years filled with adventures and love!

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AHA! Moment

It has been a rough month……year, actually. Every step forward was followed by multiple backward steps……and then this past month happened.

And I am struggling, trying to be strong, trying to take care of my family, trying to help my son through this hurdle, trying to help my son and family navigate the court, jail, probation system while navigating the addiction treatment options and still managing the mental health illnesses…..all while continuing to navigate and manage the “normal” day-to-day responsibilities……..and I have forgotten, somewhere along the way that I need to take care of me, that I need to make time for me, that I need to save some energy for me.

And I am struggling……..feeling as if I am drowning, trying desperately to just get through the day, to just breathe.

I have had many conversations with members attending the Weight Watchers meetings I work about making time to take care of themselves during times of stress and crisis. I ask my members who are going through difficult times, what they are doing to take care of themselves, even if it is just 5 minutes, just a moment where they can step back and just breathe.

And here I am……

I am exhausted, emotionally and physically…..too tired to add “me” to the “to do” list.

Then yesterday I had two conversations that made me think…..both of my friends asked me what I was doing to take care of me and asked me to set some time aside for me, because otherwise all of THIS is going to drain me…..leave me empty.

I am already there. There is not much left in the tank. But what they said to me made me think.

I am an addict. My addiction is food. I have not had the easiest life……the abandonment, the abuse—physical, emotional and sexual, my mother’s death at a pivotal point in my life….all left me needing something, needing comfort. And I turned to food to deal with the emotions and the emergence of long repressed memories……food is how I deal with the difficulties in life.

I realized that I was a food addict while on my journey to lose weight and get healthy with Weight Watchers. And that day, when that light bulb went off, I began to make changes…..I began to deal with my emotions and the memories and the worthless feelings in ways other than to eat them. And it worked. And I lost the weight. And I found my self-worth.

But this past year has brought about some real difficulties. Testing just how strong I can be. And last month when my son hit his most recent bottom, I was tested again…..and old habits came back. I am tired…..tired of being strong……tired of not having my life as my own…….tired of the fear, worry and yes, anger……….I am JUST TIRED! And I stopped doing the things that work for me, that re-energize me, that help me to navigate my emotions……

Instead I ATE them.

And now I am struggling……

But the conversations yesterday, reminded me of what worked…..of why I had made the changes all those years ago…….of why I don’t want to go back to that girl again.

And beginning this morning, I remembered what worked for me, I remembered that I am worth it. And I remembered that I can get through anything as long as I rely on those things that help me to take care of me.

So, I started writing. Writing about life and about my emotions helps me to clear all the clutter in my head and to breathe. My time spent writing helps me to take care of me. And I decided that I need that 5 or 10 minutes to write, to reflect and to deal with my life. To think clearer. Old habits creep in so quickly that before I knew it I was on my way back THERE again.

But like we talked about in meetings, the past couple of weeks, slips happen…..life happens and then we find a way to get back on track. We figure out where we veered, how we fell into the hole and what we need to do to get back on track.

I kept telling myself that I just needed to get back to tracking my food and then things would get better. So I would track and then go right back to feeding my emotions.

I would tell myself, just don’t buy that food…..and then I would go right back to feeding my emotions.

I would tell myself to get some exercise….and then I would go right back to feeding my emotions.

And then yesterday, after those two conversations, I knew……yes, I need to track—it works. Yes, I need to buy the right foods—it works. Yes, I need to exercise—it works. Yes, I need to go to meetings as a member—it works………….But NONE of that works if I don’t TAKE CARE of me, if I don’t make me a PRIORITY and find that moment each day when I can step back and JUST BREATHE!

My AHA moment!

And despite the stormy morning I had today, I have found a few minutes to just breathe. And it makes ALL the DIFFERENCE.

Life isn’t going to be easy for a while…….but I know now that if I find a way to take care of me, then I can get through this, WITHOUT eating my emotions and going back to THAT girl again.

I just needed to be reminded. Thankful for friends on this Weight Watchers journey, who get it and who ask the questions that get me thinking……..

A Promise of a New Day

I am a west coast girl. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.

We have lived all over the United States—the Midwest, the northern tier, the south, the east coast, the southwest and the west coast. No matter where we lived, my heart was always out west.

Being a west coast girl, I have always preferred sunsets to the sunrises. And everywhere we have lived and visited, I have watched the sun set. The sky is beautiful as the sun sets on my day, reminding me of the beauty in the world even on the days that were difficult. The sunset was a reminder that I survived the day.

I have seen the sunset over the Aegean Sea, over Europe, over the English Channel from France, and all over the U.S. But my favorite place to see the sun set is over the Pacific Ocean. There is nothing more calming for me than to sit on a beach and watch the sun slowly dip into the ocean, disappearing in a fiery horizon. I LOVE the sunset on the west coast!

When we lived on the east coast and would visit the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, I would rise before the sun and walk the beach as it rose above the water. The sunrise was beautiful and the morning alone on the beach was so serene. But….I still preferred my sunsets and missed the west coast.

I guess I just wasn’t ready for what the sunrise would come to represent for me.

Now, living here in Arizona, I get to see spectacular, colorful sunsets. The blue sky is painted in shades of reds and purple as the sun disappears on the horizon.

But the sunrises are just as spectacular.

And I am discovering that I LOVE the sunrise.

I am up early, often on my way to work when the sun awakens and the glow of the sun illuminates the sky in hues of yellow, orange and red.

The sunrise has come to represent a promise of a new day…..a chance for change……a promise that today is going to be better. And that is what I need.

The sunrise brings a smile to my face and more importantly it brings hope to my heart.

This longtime, west coast girl who preferred sunsets to sunrises is falling in love with the morning sunrise….the beauty and peace found in the promise of a new day and the hope that it brings.

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Watching the sun rise gives me a moment when I can step back and just breathe.

Lesson in Patience

Patience…..something I have struggled with at different times throughout my life.

I was so impatient as a child that I would hunt for the Christmas presents and peek……and I continued to peek at presents well into my adulthood. No one knew I looked…..it was so easy to delicately peel back the tape, unwrap the gift and then rewrap the gift. My husband and boys figured it out though and each Christmas they would pride themselves on the massive amount of tape they would use for my gifts so I couldn’t peek. A lesson in patience.

Patience is difficult.

I want it NOW! I wanted to lose weight NOW! I wanted Christmas to come NOW! I wanted my babies to arrive NOW! Though I can find ways to be patient and can go long periods of time where I am living in the moment and slowing down, I do struggle with it.

Right now, I am struggling with being patient……

I often turn to God to help me learn to be more patient, too slow down and enjoy the moment rather than constantly look to the future.

And God has shown me that He has a sense of humor when it comes to helping me to learn patience.

Many years ago, when my youngest was in junior high, I had another lesson in patience…….a lesson in which God showed me His humor. I had been very impatient at that time and for weeks had been praying for patience and for help in slowing down. On this particular day I was late picking my son up from school and found myself behind one of those line painting vehicles on the highway…..we were driving 15mph in a 55mph zone…..ugh! At this rate I would NEVER get to the school and my son would not know why.

Then I remembered there was another route to take to get to his school, and though it was slightly longer, it would be faster on this day. So, I pulled a U-turn and stepped on the gas….I did not want to get rear-ended by a car coming up behind me. Before I knew it I was going FAST (not my fault….my husband’s car picked up speed too quickly) so I pulled my foot off the gas……too late!

Coming toward me at that moment was a sheriffs car……..and in my rear view mirror I saw his lights go on and he u-turned to catch me……..Yes, I was caught speeding in my haste to get somewhere quickly. Not only was I speeding, but the speed he tagged me at was high enough to warrant a reckless driving charge and a summons to go before the judge………..

I was mortified. I was scared. I had NEVER been pulled over. And I was now even later getting to the school to pick up my son…….lesson learned. Okay, God, I got it. I will slow down and breathe.

A lesson in patience was learned.

I would love to say that it only took one or two lessons to teach me to slow down, to appreciate the moment and to be patient…….but no…….I still struggle.

And now I find myself struggling to be patient in the healing of my foot. I want to go hiking. I want to go for a walk. I want to go to the zoo and Botanic Garden. I want to be pain free. And I want it all NOW!

And I am astounded that I miss being active, I miss my walks and I miss exercise. Me, the person who detested exercise, who made a million excuses to skip it, now misses it. And I am getting very impatient to get back to it.

The pain in my foot reminds me to slow down and be patient. Sometimes impatience can lead to unwanted consequences and I do not want to permanently damage my foot.

So patient I must be.

This injury to my foot is a reminder to take it slow, to step back and enjoy the moment and just breathe.

And is another lesson for me in patience.

Got it! Now it is time to move on…………

My First Half Marathon, it’s About More Than the Distance

The morning had finally arrived….the morning I was supposed to complete my first half marathon.

But life happened…….detours occurred……..and life stepped in the way in unexpected ways to keep me from starting and thus completing my first half marathon.

This past week I had to make a difficult decision about the race. 3 weeks ago, on my long training walk, the arch of my foot “popped” at mile 7. I was in immense pain and completing the 1.87 miles of that walk was difficult and long. But I made it home…….I really had no choice in the matter since I was 1.87 miles from home. My doctor ordered an x-ray, which showed that there was no fracture, so I took it easy on my foot. I rested, iced and taped my foot, hoping that something would make it better.

But nothing seemed to help.

After long conversations with my husband, I knew I needed to make a decision or risk a serious, long-term injury to my foot.

But my heart was not ready to do what my head knew I should do.

You see, the half marathon was about more than 13.1 miles. It was about more than crossing the finish line and receiving a medal.

Over the course of this past year, the half marathon became a symbol for me……a symbol of all that I have experienced this year………of the all the moments where I stepped outside my comfort zone…….of all the moments that I had to be stronger than I thought I could ever be…….of all that I cried about, laughed about and prayed about……..of all that I survived this year……..of all that I overcame and the personal growth that resulted………about all of those “life” moments that my mother never had the chance to experience…….and crossing the finish line of the half marathon would prove I was alive, that I survived and that I am thriving.

So, for me, not completing the half marathon was not a choice. I NEEDED to complete this race. And having to make the decision was ripping my heart out. EVERY time that I thought about not racing had my tears flowing. The emotions were hard to get past and the emotions were what I was basing my decision on………

Until……..

The day we left for Florida, walking through the airport, the pain shooting through my foot…..I knew then that I would not be able to complete the 13.1 miles. I could hardly walk to my gate. So, I made the decision while sitting in the airport that I would be there to support my husband and soon–to-be daughter-in-law, while they ran the half marathon and I would be there to support my son and his fiancé’s sister as they ran the full marathon. I was sad. I felt that I had given in to defeat.

But then my husband asked me what I had accomplished this year and what my mother would say to me. I have come a long way this year…..I stepped outside my comfort zone a number of times and I said “yes” more than I said “no” to experiences that sometimes brought fear to me and tested me. And this year I discovered just how strong I can be. I also had a HUGE shift in my mindset when it comes to exercise. This year I saw my son get engaged, something my mother never got to do. And I went Wedding Dress shopping, something mom and I looked forward to when I grew up. I LIVED this year instead of just existing and I learned to take better care of me. My mom would be so proud of me and of all the changes I have made and how I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

So, I was not going to walk the half marathon that I had committed to almost a year ago. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t do it. And as I picked up my race bib and t-shirt from the expo, with tears in my eyes, I told my husband that I WILL complete this half marathon when my foot heals and then he could give me my shirt. I wouldn’t have my medal, so the race shirt would be my reward……..

And then mother nature stepped in and in a twist, the half marathon was canceled because of lightening. This meant that all of those registered to run the half marathon would get their medals at the expo. And my husband and I spent time this morning when he should have been running and I should have been supporting him, at the expo.

When the young lady handed me my medal she sweetly asked if I wanted to wear it and I said “No thanks, I am not wearing it until I finish my 13.1 miles, when I will have earned it.”

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And finish it, I WILL! And mom will be right there smiling proudly.