The Grit

I wrote this back in 2000 after having a particularly bad day.  For me it is about reaching deep down, deep where the soul meets the heart, and the heart feeds the spirit. When you just don’t know if you can keep going, when the heartache seems insurmountable…but you tap into that inner strength, the steel frame and you push yourself. And by God’s Grace, you pick yourself up and make it.  Then you have the Grit.

GRIT

I am determined.
Sweat on my brow.
Heart in my Throat.
I am at the starting line.

The sound of my heart
Pounds in my head.
Cheers ring in my ears.
They say I can’t.
But I won’t let them win.

I will defy all expectations.
All definitions.
All Doubt.
All Rules.

The naysayers will walk away.
Head Down.
My Will silencing them.

They don’t know the steel frame inside me.
I am determined.
My will pushing me to succeed
Down the hard
Long.
Rocky.
Road ahead.

Ada 06/2000

Garden Memories

These two pieces I wrote showed up in my Facebook Memories. The first was written in  2010, the second in 2014.  Still very good today.  I learned so much working in the garden with my Mom.

In the Garden

When I was a child I would work in my parents garden, helping to plant seeds, making rows, and helping to water the vegetables.  We always had a garden, always bursting at the seems with fresh garden goodness.  There were beans, broccoli, corn, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, and squash.  One summer I ate so many carrots that my skin turned orange. Do you know how many carrots you have to eat for your skin to turn colors?  An entire garden full.

Then there was the ant bed incident.  When I was about 4 I was walking around the garden and tripped into the largest any bed I had ever seen.  I started screaming and my Mom came running over, stripped the ant-ridden clothes off me and (I think), started washing me with water from the hose.  I still hate ants.

The past two weekends have been spent at my parents house getting the garden ready for planting as Spring arrives.  We did a lot of yardwork, tilled the garden and planted corn and beans.  We measured and made sure the rows were spaced evenly, that everything will have ample room and space to grow.  As I packed to leave they gave me seeds for my own garden.

There is is something very comforting about planting seeds passed to me by my parents…the same seed that are planted in their yard are now planted in mine as well.  And Monday night, as I planted by the light of the moon (and the outside lamp), there was a joy that I swear came up from the ground and crept in my bones.

Planting is methodical and grounding (literally).  There must be attention and patience, tenderness and diligence. I am like the garden, like the soil, like the seeds I plant.  We are one in the same.  The seeds of my life are being planted, and what it grows to be requires patience and hard work.  My life is growing, the possibilities are growing, even my thighs are growing (have to get to the treadmill!).

And while my life grows into what it will be, I will plant and tend my garden.  and be grounded by the methodical pace of nature.  I will learn from her and let her show me the virtues of taking my time…letting things unfold. And I look forward to the day the vegetables are ripe on the vine.

***********************************************************************

I remember helping my Mom in the garden a few years ago. We were sitting, taking each one of the little bean plants she planted, and slowly winding them up on a string, so that they would grow up on the string and be easier to pick. We started in the morning, as we drank coffee, each of us working in peaceful silence next to each other, in complete comfort.

 

After so many plants, you actually get a rhythm going. And gently, without breaking the tender baby vines, you wind them up and move on to the next. All day we did this, breaking only for more coffee. And it that gentle morning, I was deep in thought. And it occurred to me that life is very much like winding those little bean sprouts up the string. There is a process for everything, and it takes time to naturally unfold.

 

This past week is the first I really feel like I have my rhythm and groove back. I am taking care of myself, getting rest, unpacking, eating healthy(ish). As soon as it’s warm and not raining, I’ll take a good run/walk in the hills of the neighborhood. I have been taking the time to enjoy and relish in those little perfect moments, taking time to cry when the emotion hits me, and being honest enough to say I am a bit vulnerable right now, so handle with care. It feels good to admit that, it’s actually very freeing to not have to be tough all the time, to allow myself to be “soft.”

 

And surprisingly, at least to me, it is received well. There are hugs, holding hands, kind thoughts and words, well wishes, and sincere smiles.

 

And the result, is more laughter, more smile, more feeling alive than I have in about a year. To really allow myself to just be, whatever it is I am at that moment, is wonderful.And in doing so, I let go, with each heartbeat, all that I have carried. Yes, I am getting my balance, my rhythm, my life and spirit back. Yes, the spring in my step has returned. It is spring, and just like those little bean sprouts, it is time to grow, to bloom and to be magnificent. I am coming alive again.   I am returning to my life, returning to enjoy all accomplishments my hard work has brought to fruition. I have come back to have what is mine.

 

All I l have to do is trust, believe and follow the natural process.

 

And that is how this girl gets her groove back.

 

http://youtu.be/6xjLS6gYujU

 

For Peace and Comfort

In light of what how I feel in my own soul – a  Read this slowly and thoughtfully. And let htere be peace where there is chaos.

Blessing in the Chaos – Jan Richardson

To all that is chaotic in you,
let there come silence.

Let there be a calming of the clamoring,
a stilling of the voices
that have laid their claim on you,
that have made their home in you,
that go with you even to the holy places
but will not let you rest,
will not let you hear your life
with wholeness or feel the grace
that fashioned you.

Let what distracts you cease.
Let what divides you cease.
Let there come an end to
what diminishes and demeans,
and let depart all that keeps you in its cage.

Let there be an opening into the quiet
that lies beneath the chaos,
where you find the peace you did not think possible
and see what shimmers within the storm.

The Conclusion

I wrote this almost two years ago and found it as I was going through old notes I had written.  It still speaks as strongly today as it did then.

The Conclusion

Know why  I am, so hard on you? Because I have  walked through the fires in the pits of hell and by the grace of God, I have come through. So if you are going to be in my life, be fucking present.
I have earned the right have someone present. I have earned the right to be loved. I have earned the right to matter. I have earned the right to be comforted. I have earned the right to be cherished.
There is so much you take for granted because you do not even see the brilliance in the human being in front of you.
I have done all of this with no comfort. No arms, or kindness to hold me. It has all been alone. I did handle it, but it was so hard. So very hard.
So this is me, the good bad and the ugly. But I am me. This is me.
Ada 6/17/15

What I Learned in My First Grief Counseling

Grief. It’s kind of like Space – at this point it seems infinite and like the final frontier. It’ massive. And I need help navigating…because I am not Han Solo and this is not the Millennium Falcon. This is life. My life and I am dealing with death of my parents.

My Father was in the care of Hospice when he passed and there are a lot of benefits for not only a patient, but the family. One of those is 13 months of bereavement counseling. Today was my first session, because I need it. And maybe this might help someone else too. So here is what I learned today:

  • You have to grieve and you have to face it head on in order to do so. Those who don’t and who run away from it often become bitter and angry. I won’t let that be me. I would rather do this head on, no matter how hard or crippling, than become a bitter shell of a human being.
  • Let yourself grieve however you need to every. Day. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to yell, yell. If you need to do whaever to get out those emotions, do it.
  • Respect your grief. Let it out, work through it, handle it.
  • Feeling guilt, shame and like there are still things left to say are normal. I went through a list of things I want to say to my Mom, and what I feel very guily for when it comes to me Dad. She assurred me that I am not alone and I do not need to beat myself up for these things. I did the best I could, I served my time and honored and took care of my parents well. They know this. I need to know it too. If you do not come to terms with whatever shame and guilt you are feeling, and accpet that you did the best you could, then it will make you bitter, angry and depressed.
  • It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be very painful. There is no way around this part, you just have to accept it.
  • This time is precious and sacred. Hold this time as precious and know that this is your time.
  • Lean on your support system. She told me that I am a strong person, but that there is nothing wrong with others taking care of me right now. That others need to take care of me right now, as that is part of healing. I learned that it is part of the process and we need others to take care of use while grieving in order to heal properly.  Those that do not allow others to take care of them during this time, are often bitter and grieve a lot longer than they have to. I never knew that. I thought I was being weak to lean on others too much. She said no, not at all. So let your friend take care of you.
  • Find an outliet – whether it is exercise, crying, writing, or whatever…find a way to channel the grief and stress of this time. I run and exercise. I hike and am out in nature.It helps sooth me.  However, with the weather this cold…
  • Eventually, replace the sad feelings with happy memories.  She told me that after a while, I will be able to think of certain times and memories that will make me laugh, smile and feel good.  It will come eventually and even then I will have good and bad days.  But that at some point, those memories will being me more comfort than sadness. And that is what we are working toward.

There is more but that is all for now. Hope this might also help those others as well

Finding the Sunshine

Since last May, life has been full of doom and gloom. Knowing, seeing that Mom was declining and her eventual; passing.  Dad moving in.  The harsh reality that you pretty much have to give up your own life to take care of an elderly parent – through no fault of theirs. It is just the situation, and you take it on, because you love them more than words can say. Seeing Dad decline and pass. And then the demise of the relationship.

But that is just life…and you deal with it. The universe doesn’t play favorites.

But in between the grief and the heartache there has to be some…fun.  Somewhere, out there, before all the tragedy, I had a life.  And I had a lot of fun.  I think part of getting through grief is reconnecting with the life you had before.  While life will never be the same, it can’t be all sadness and doom.  There must be smiles, and laughter and shared good times.

Somewhere out there, there has to be a fun class to take, or a fun date to have, or a fun experience to enjoy, a fun day, a fun something.  I want to go on a fun trip somewhere warm and wonderful.

I have put in my time, I have done my duties and done them well.  Now, it is time to enjoy this life.  I am exhausted from sadness. I want to see the sun, feel it on my skin, feel the fresh air on my fingertips and just shed this skin of the last year.

The Service and a Pillow

I have long known that a funeral or memorial service is more for those who are left than for the person who is gone.  A good funeral is the last thing we can really do for our loved one. It is the last send off, the last honor, the last “right” thing that is left.

And so it was with my father’s memorial service this past weekend.  The church service was beautiful, an Easter service of celebration. He passed away on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, one of his most cherished religious seasons. Dad respected Lent as a time of quiet introspection. And he had made peace with his situation, so it is fitting that this Lenten season is about grief and grieving.  Forty days to reflect on the past 7-8 months. It is as if he knew. And maybe he did.

At the service there was the family including all of my siblings.  It was truly wonderful to have us all together along with aunts and cousins. My three longest and best friends were there for me, sitting behind me to give me strength, catch me if I fell or make funny faces at me if it looked like I couldn’t make it through the service.  They are the reason I could breath.

And when the service was close to and end, the Honor Guard came, played Taps and presented my father’s flag to me.  If you have never seen that presentation, it is beautiful.  They march out, at attention, then Taps is played.  When that is done, they slowly, silently, purposefully, unfold and refold the flag.  Every movement is crisp and marked by a click of their heels. And when the flag is folded, and they give the proper respect to it, they march, at attention, and kneel down to the next of kin. They say thank you, on behalf of the President of the United States, and of the country and of the Air force (or whichever branch).  I sobbed. I  gently accepted his flag as tears ran down my cheeks.  And my tears fell on my fathers flag before I could get a tissue. That flag is sacred to me.

And then the celebration of life, and the stories and the beer and the food.  I heard the food was delicious and what little bit I ate definitely was.  I spoke, as well as several other friends and family members. And I learned a few things about this humble, quiet man I called Dad.  There was laughter, there were a few tears and there were a lot of hugs and much love.

The siblings got together afterward, along with  my Angels, and we had a great time talking and taking time to decompress after the last several days.  And there was a lot of wine.

And then there was quiet.  And there is still quiet. A silence that is a bit uncomfortable as the finality of the situation sets in.  They are really gone.  And life moves forward. But what life is this that lay before me?  For the first time in 8 years I am taking care of only me.  And I am not sure I know what to do with myself.  One part is very liberating – knowing that you have done right by your parents and loved ones. And another part is terrifying, not remembering what you did before.

It is the blue after the storm. That time after the service, after the commotion, after the shock, after the after…where things are quiet and you are left to figure out the “new normal.” No doubt I will be fine, as everyone goes through this at some point in their life. But it is unsettling and strange.  A person is still delicate in this time.

There was no quiet after Mom passed; it went straight into Dad moving in and me taking care of an elderly parent. It was chaos for 7.5 months. So this in new. And if I am honest, it is a bit scary. The empty nest…but I am sure I will find my way, awkwardly as always. But eventually I’ll get the hang of this thing called life. The fact of the matter is that they are gone. I am here.  Life is here.

In the meantime, as I learn to sleep alone in the house, I am wrapped up in the peace and knowledge that I did right by the Bible and honored my parents. When they are gone, having done right by your parents is the most comfortable pillow in the world.