The Optimism

You can feel it in the air and it is almost electric.  It is everywhere you go.  What is it? It is optimism.  The optimism of this year, 2018 to be exact. So many of my friends, most everyone I know, has had a really hard couple of years. 2016 and 2017 were terrible.  And, at the risk of sounding brash and trashy – those years can suck it.

Now everyone I know is saying how great this year is and will be.  Every one I talk to has said how great it is, how many great things are happening, and how many exciting things are in the pipeline for later in the year.

And it is a breath of fresh air.  After everyone was seemingly stuck in the muck and mire of the past few years, this optimism is what is needed.  There is new energy, there is excitement, there  are smiles and plans being made.  Everyone is ready, we have all had enough. And it is great to hear the good news from all my friends.  It is wonderful to share good news.

It is almost impossible to describe the energy, or the feeling of joy that comes from seeing and hearing my friends and loved ones tell me their good news. Business is exploding, opportunities are plentiful, ideas are flowing, plans are being made, love is blooming, and so much more.  And it is time.  After many hard times, it is time for the winds of change.

I remember many years ago the energy was very similar. Many people, myself included, felt an optimism about the world, life and the future.  We felt that anything was possible. It was recognizing the light after the dark. It was knowing that everything is cyclical, so the good was on it’s way.

So pop the champagne, because it is here.  And more is coming.

 

 

The Joy

Be strong, Ada. I have tremendous respect for you as one of the most deeply honest and loving people I have ever met. I know those traits, and a few well-chosen friends, will lead you back to joy soon enough.”

I recieved this message not quite a year ago from someone I had not heard from in a very long time. This person could always read my mood and what kind of day I had within 3 seconds of seeing me.

And at the time I read the message, I cried. Because it was such a beautiful message of encouragement and hope, but also because joy seemd so far away. I could not even imagine how, when or where the joy might return. I seemed light years away.

When I would get discouraged, overwhelmed and lost, I would read that message and just hold on and pray. Pray so hard through the tears and beg for the joy.

And finally, the joy is here, not just over the horizon or around the corner, but at my feet, close enough to touch. I can see it, smell it, feel ot, taste it. After hundreds of prayers, thousands of baby steps and millions of heart beats, I feel joy bubbling up from eceey part of me. Still very aware of the darkenss, and I still have my moments, but I know I never have to go through anything like that again.

So thank you for that message, friend. And you were right. While life isn’t perfect, it is joyful. And it is getting better every minute.

“I have a heart full of deep contentment, and joy. So much joy. I know this is all sappy but after the past two years I get to have this and I get to enjoy this.”

I Don’t Want to Wait

There comes a point in life where you simply do not want to wait anymore.  They say patience is a virtue, and yes I agree.  But when you know what you want, patience can be hard to do.  And I know what I want.  And in life that is half the battle.  Once you know what you want you can do what is needed to make it happen.

For the last nine years I have taken care of everyone. I put large parts of my life on hold while I did what was needed for the family.  Putting a nephew through college, taking care of Mom and Dad, then taking a year or so to recover and get my life back on track.

Now everyone is settled.  No one needs so much care that it takes over my life.  I can finally start living for me, building what I want life to be, And what I want it to be is full of love and happiness.  Full of smiles, laughter, travel, writing, and everything that is good. But I do not want these things by myself, I want to build them with someone else.

I have done many things on my own.  I have traveled, taken care of family, built my career, and lived an entire life by myself,  Now it is time to let someone else in.  Now it is time to build with another.

Because I don’t want to wait until I ma 80 to find the love of my life. I had to wait until there was room for another, which took many years and a lot longer than I thought.  I tried to build with others before, but my life was so big that it engulfed everything around it, relationships included.  Now that life is smaller, it is finally time to extrapolate the details and engineer the plans.  There is fertile steady ground beneath, an open heart, and a willing soul.

That is the thing about life, it is what we make it.  Yes, there are plenty of things out of our control, so we must be careful with what is in our own hands.  That is one of the many reasons why living with a purpose is so important. And I want to guild with purpose, write with purpose, and if I am vulnerable and share my heart, I want to do that with a purpose too.  When we do that, we are authentic and we will get that authenticity returned to us. We will attract it.

And so I don’t to wait any more, until this is done, or that is over. The time is now. Life is not slowing down and today is not a dress rehearsal.  And I take a deep breath and a leap of faith. And I cannot wait. I am excited to see how beautiful it all becomes.

The Anger Factor

Some say that anger is a negative emotion.  And to some extent it is.  But it can help motivate us to do things that need to be done.  It can also be part of the healing process when it comes to grief or other traumatic events.  This is where I find myself.  Over the past year, I have had a chance to get over the grief over the death of my parents. But the anger at those around remains.

When it comes to anger, some say you should just “get over”it, that if you don’t there is something wrong with you.  I disagree completely.  Yes, you need to get over anger, but it is a process.  And when it comes to things that are felt deeply, that takes some time. I am working through my anger at these people, but it is a process.

I wanted to write about it for a couple of reasons. First, writing is one of the ways I work through and process the world around me.  Second, there may be others who are working through their anger as well.  Maybe working through . my process will help others working through theirs.  And anger is often so criticized that you may feel guilty for even feeling angry. But anger can, and often is, a healthy part of healing. You must learn to work through the anger before you can let it go.  If you deny yourself the process of working through that is when problems occur and it turns into bitterness.

It take strength and vulnerability to admit anger and work through it.  And I have never been one to shy away. So sit down and get comfortable.

I was the only one who took care of my mother when she was sick.  And then when my father was sick as well.  I have often talked about how hard it was, and that I was alone. I am so angry that I had to go through all of it by myself.  Why didn’t I have help?  And it wasn’t my friends who let me down, it was my family.

When my father died, one of my siblings was there, but none of them were there when Mom died.  And after Dad’s death, after having had taken care of him for 7.5 months, I had to plan and do everything myself again.  Right after Dad died, the ex was being an ass and trying to get my utilities turned off, my siblings were wanting information, I was trying to call all the family and friends, I was arranging everything with the funeral home, arranging things with Hospice and who would need access to the benefits offered. I was dealing with the assisted living facility Dad was at when he died, and what needed to happen since I had a weekend of company coming – I had my brother insisting that he and his kids come down for a visit.

We will start with my ex, who had moved out 2 weeks earlier.  The day after Dad died, he was trying to get my utilities turned off.  He refused to give me the information needed to pay my part of the rent, and he even had his mother come over to “discuss” things with me…all the day after Dad died.  He refused to help or even be nice.  Most people back off when a parent dies…he went into full attack mode, something I will never understand. He continued this behavior right up until the 1st anniversary of my mother’s death. And stopped then only then because he was blocked from every kind of communication. After he treated me this way, I often wonder if he did anything to Dad while it was just the two of them.  When his sweet parents pass, a part of me hopes he has someone around him making his life hell like he did mine.  Then another part of me wouldn’t wish that on anyone.  Only a very sick and damaged person would attack another so unnecessarily when a parent dies.

Then my brother. Dad passed on a Wednesday, Friday I picked up my brother and his two children from the airport. And I was expected to entertain them and make sure that they had a good time on this visit. So, I was a good little robot and did what was expected…..I took care of them, took them out to eat, cooked for them, made sure they were entertained and had a good time.  My brother told me that the one thing I had to do while they were down was to take he and his kids to Nascar. So I paid $800 and took them where they had great seats (I don’t even like Nascar).  The attitude was greedy and Gimme, gimme.  There was no asking “How are you?  Are you OK? Can I do anything?”  There were no offers to help, as still. No offers to help make phone calls, or help plan final arrangements, or answer questions, or talk to the assisted living place.  He only wanted me to entertain he and his kids.

I paid for them to fly down, all entertainment and food out of my own pocket.  Then paid to fly him down again just a few days later for Dad’s service. During that time there was still no offer to help, even though he had been given two all expense paid trips down.  Not even an offer to help drive the 4 hours from Atlanta to Valdosta where the service was held. I had to drive there and back.  I had not slept for days and was terrified I might fall asleep while driving. After the service we all went out for much needed drinks, and one of my best friends paid the tab for all of us.

I had to beg the ex to come to the funeral, and had to beg even harder to get him to day something at the service.  We lived together with Dad, it was appropriate for him to say something about the man he lived with for 7.5 months.  He eventually obliged, but made it clear it was not willingly.  He sat beside me at the service.  I was sobbing uncontrollably when they Honor Guard presented Dad’s flag to be on bended knee.  He refused to comfort me in any way. His response was “compassion must be earned.”

My closest sibling did have a family friend plan the reception after the service so that I did not have to.  All I had to do was pay the bill.  That help was so very much appreciated, as there is no way I could have done it. I heard it was a lovely service, with delicious catered food. I really don’t remember any of it.

None of them were there while I was taking care of our father.  There were no offers to help, no one asking how I was, no offers to fly down for a weekend and even give me a break from being a full time care giver to a termally ill man. There were no offers of financial help, since I was carrying the cost myself. There were no offers of advice or a shoulder or ear offered.  They never called, emailed or text messaged.  I was the one who kept in touch with them and kept them updated on Dad’s status.  The sibling closest to Dad saw him twice, maybe 3 times during the 7.5 months, the others only saw him once when I said they needed to come down before he was too sick.

After Dad passed, 3 of the 4 siblings only wanted ot know about the will, and even chastised me for taking so long to get information to them.  I was shocked by their attitude…and wanted to tell them to shove it, but I kept quiet instead. They were further upset by the will and lashed out at me for the document that was written 14 years prior, as if I had anything to do with it.  Fourteen years ago, two out of the three of them were not even in our lives, as they had made it clear they never wanted anything to do with any of us. Nor were any of them there to help Dad during any of his 6 years of chemo treatment…yet clearly they felt entitled because of blood line. Being a family is more than blood. They complained and lamented about events that happened well before I was born, yet seemed to blame me for the outcome.

The siblings further acted out when they called me overly dramatic, saying that I had lied about many things and that I deserved everything bad that had happened to me in life because “that was life catching up with me.” They said that I didn’t have a relationship with them, that I should “take the hint,” and that what communication they had with me was strange to them and they did not like it. And they did not like me. They said many horrible and hurtful things, before I finally said it was enough. I loved them, but you cannot make anyone love you back. I swallowed the dreams I had of us learning more about each other down with the tears.

During this time I felt so desperately alone. I felt isolated.  I was in so much emotional pain, and there was no family around.  The heartache was palpable and this was a horrible time for me. I felt very depressed. And I felt humiliated.  I had loved them and thought that we could have a relationship. While I was thinking that, they were talking to each other, deciding the information I was giving them was a bunch of lies, even though they had never been around to see anything for themselves. That’s right, they had never lowered themselves to actually be present, but thought so much of themselves that they would make judgements about the situation and about my morality.

I remember my mother warning me about them before she passed away. My mother told me to be careful, because they always had to hate and be angry at someone . They always had to blame someone, ever since they were little.  It is what they were taught my their mother.  But I did not listen.  I thought that all adults involved during that time were dead, so I would not carry that bias. It was a fresh start, in my eyes,  That would not be the case, as they proved my mother right.  I felt stupid and naive.  I had even been warned, and yet I left my heart unguarded.

You know who did ask what they could do during this time?  My friends.  It was my friends who asked what they could do, if I needed anything.  It was my friends who asked if they could help make phone calls, it was my friends who asked if they could run errands for me, help with final arrangements, write Dad’s obituary even.  It was my friends who called to make sure I was OK, who asked if I had had a chance to shower, or eat, or change into clean clothes…it was my friends who help me as I cried, my friends who offered to cook for me, my friends to came over to make sure I was not alone in that big empty house.  My siblings….were happy to not be involved.

So yes, I am angry at my siblings. They let me down during the most painful and desperate time of life. I am the youngest of 5, and yet I have to answer people when they ask why I had to do everything myself, why I was alone through all of it.  And I shrug and tell them the truth – I don’t know.

My cousins were there, and still are there for me.  One cousin was there when Mom died after my sister ran off and left me to take care of both my father and Mom while she was dying. I thank God my cousin was there to comfort Dad while I held Mom’s hand and stroked her hair as she passed.  I am thankful that we all still talk and plan to visit.  I need them.  I need connection to some kind of family.

I sitll have a reasonable relationship with one sibling.  And I have come the furthest with forgiveness for her. The others… one day forgiveness will come, but that is not today.  Today I am still, finally, working through my anger. I am addressing it and naming it, because only then can you deal with it. I should never have had to deal with, plan and do everything alone.  I should have never had to deal with the crazy demented ex who thought that was the best time to get what he wanted from me because that is when I would be at my weakest (he was wrong). This is not a feel-sorry-for-me post, exactly thew opposite.  Because I DID everything without any of them. I have been fine without them. But that does not mean I am a rock.  I am human, I felt pain and I feel anger now.

They say your friends are the family you get to choose.  In that respect, I have the best, most supportive, most loving, incredible family imaginable. And I am beyond thankful for them. It is sad, because all I have ever wanted is a large family with lots of love. But life is life. I have wonderful friends who are there for me. That’s all I need.

It has been cathartic to write and hopefully it will help others who are working through anger as well.  Being able to name and discuss the anger is key to working through it and getting to the other side. And if you don’t deal with it, you become and angry, bitter shell of a human.  I will not let that happen.  I am stronger than the anger. I will work through it and come out better than before.

I have a good life, I am happy, But I am not perfect and neither is life.

Jamaica, Mon

Taking care of yourself is often consideredd to be over rated, or selfish. Taking time for yourself, taking a break, or even just taking the day off to do nothing is hard. We sometimes feel the need to justify why we are sitting on the couch when so much on our to do list needs to be done, and the list seems to grow longer every day.

Sometimes we even feel guilty for taking that time, for not being busy multi-tasking and powering through our chores. There are times in life that we all need to just get away. After the stresses of daily life – the rat race, and the responsibilities of the house, the job, family and just life in general. Sometimes the biggest thing is taking care of your self and taking a break. Sometimes that is the kindness and best thing we can do.

I learned the importance of this after being there full time caregiver for my Father the last 7.5 months of his life. It was full time, 24/7, no breaks and exhausting. Watching a parent slowly get weaker and weaker, while being the sole person taking care of them is beyond exhausting.

I paid for it deeply in the cost of my mental, physical, financial and emotional health. While there are no regrets, I have seen first hand what happens when you cannot or do not take care. You become exhausted and burned out. You become unkind and unable to process even some of the most basic daily tasks and emotions. Your tempter is short and your nerves are shot.

The silver lining was that Dad and I spent a lot of quality time together, and I found out about my now ex’s sexual addictions (high stress always brings out issues sooner rather than later).

God can give blessings even in the most dire of situations. Now there is room for a wonderful, loving, kind, fun, amazing man to come into my life. But isn’t that always the case with life?  I have learned from that situation and will not forget the lessons. Taking care of yourself before you get burned out is incredibly important.

So when you have a chance to take care of yourselves, you should take it. That is part of living life to the fullest. Taking chances, risks, making opportunities and celebrating life. Especially if you have been through a stressful time, you feel like you almost have an obligation – a happy and joyful one.

And so it went that what was on opportunity turned into a rather nice birthday event. I had a credit with an airline from a trip to Puerto Rice I had to cancel last year. Realizing it would expire soon, a trip to Jamaica was booked.

And it was quite perfect. All inclusive, on the beach, little tropical drinks, lots of laughter and fun times, great memories. Reading, writing and falling and napping to the sound of the waves hitting the sand. There were smiles and kisses, holding hands and new experiences. It was wonderful. And taking a break makes you even more ready to conquore the world when you return.

Though I can still hear the waves, I know I am back on the mainland, and am ready to go. So take care of yourself, take the breaks and the pauses to go off for an adventure. You never know the wonderful memories you will make. Part of life is filling it with as many memories, as much laughter and happiness as possible.

A Blessing in the Chaos

A Blessing in the Chaos from Jan Richardson. Read it slowly and thoughtfully. God is in this my friends – if I know anything, I know that!

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.

I read this in my memories tonight and it resonated. At the time I posted that, there was so much chaos that it was hard to hear God’s voice, or anything, above the noise. I was clamoring for somethung, anything, to hold onto.

But my hands werr getting burned from holding the rope so tight, so I let go. And I breathed….and prayed, and cried and worked hard.

Finally, I can sit in a still room and hear not the clamoring, but thw beautiful silence of Peace. Finally, the chaos has ended. Finally.

And when the chaos is gone, other things can be heard. Like joy. Like love. Like trust. Yes, those sacred things make a sound, that the heart does not miss when it comes.

And so it goes, on this peaceful night. My soul finally is centered, followed by the heart and mind. Amd it shimmers.

You Will Survive Being Vested

Vested is defined as secured in the possession of or assigned to a person.  We search for being vested in out careers and in finance with our 401Ks, why not find a way to be vested in life. In our lives?

To me being vested means being in-vested. After all, isn’t that why we want our 401KS vested?  It’s free money, it multiplies and helps us attain our retirement goals.  To me, there is no better investment to make than in yourself.

What does that mean exactly?  That means making sure to take care of yourself so that your spirit, your goodness, you life-force, multiplies. I know what happens when you don’t take care of yourself and get run down.  You get beyond tired and weary.  It is an exhaustion that is felt from the tip of your soul to the bottom of your heart. And it can take years to recover and get your “You” back, to feel 100% again.

Taking care of yourself means getting enough rest, exercise and spiritual food.  We hear it all the time, to take care of yourself, almost to the point where it is cliche’ but there is a reason.  I spent years taking care of others before myself. It took it’s toll. When you are tired like that, down to your heart and soul, you cannot feel happiness or see the good in life because it simply takes too much energy.  So even the amazing is bland.  It’s like being sick on vacation, no matter how great the vacation is, you won’t enjoy it if you are sick.

Yet somehow along the way, taking care of ourselves has become synonymous for “being selfish.”  Except it’s not.  When you don’t take care of yourself, you become depleted and can no longer take care of others. You no longer have anything left to offer, and then you will only take from others.  Because you have to be replenished.  Better to do so before you reach empty rather than after.  Think about it, we don’t let our cars run out of gas before we fill up the tank, why would be do that with ourselves?

But it is more than that, taking care of yourself also means giving ourselves the compassion and forgiveness that we give to others. It is great to hold ourselves to a high standard, but we are all human, and no one is perfect.  Yet we beat ourselves up for not doing everything, being everything, accomplishing everything, and being perfect. Why do we do that?  Why do we give others the love and understanding that we do not allow our very selves to enjoy?

Take time for yourself, listen to some music, get rest, take your vitamins, breath fresh air. The model of doing for others to the detriment of yourselves is co-de pendant and unhealthy.  Maybe in the dark ages, when they had no technology, and science and medicine were in their infant stages.  But in this day and age, we should be able to take a break, invest in our own physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.  Go to the doctor, or psychologist, or psychiatrist, or to yoga, or for a walk, or do what ever you need to do to be happy.

And if you don’t take care of yourself, then who will?  Whose responsibility is it?  Your job, big companies won’t do it. Corporations are looking our for the bottom line.  Your bank won’t do it.  And your family and friends have their own lives and issues to deal with.  Yes, we can lean on our loved ones, but if we won’t help ourselves, take cafe of ourselves, then why would we expect any one else to?  Bottom line is no one else will, so you have to love yourself enough to invest in yourself.

Be vested in yourself and your life.  We are so careful and considerate with our money, shouldn’t we be at least give the same consideration to our health and happiness? I want love to be so present in my life that it is tangible.  That love first has to start with myself.  And like any good investment, that love will multiply, until it envelops everyone in my presence.

For me, love always originates from God.  So I pray for His love, compassion and Grace to be passed on to me, And with His love passed on to me, I can invest it in myself, so that it will multiply and be shared with others.

Because i don’t just want to survive.  Or even just exist.  I want to live.