The Secret in the Whole

There are times when we feel overwhelmed and like we cannot possible do it all, as the to do list grows and grows and grows.  Sometimes it can even be hard to breath.  Waking up in the middle of the night, gripped with anxiety that there are not enough hours in the day…So what do we do when we are wracked with all that emotion and that every growing list?

I am not sure I know completely, but lately I have felt very overwhelmed by all of the responsibility.  And what seems to quiet my mind when I wake up in the middle of the night, worried that I cannot get it all done, is to accept that I cannot get it all done. And I pray for guidance and wisdom in choosing the priorities, patience and compassion for myself, and grace and stamina general.  Because let’s face it, life is hard.  And there is no instruction book.

I also find that slowing down a bit helps too.  While that may sound counterintuitive when so many things need to get done, and writing deadlines are looming, it actually helps with focus.   This is because when our minds are racing with all that has to be done, and we multi-task our way through the day, it is hard to focus and give the attention in the capacity it is needed.

When we accept that we cannot get everything done it automatically reduces the stress. Then it is just a matter of prioritizing what is urgent, and what can wait.  We can organize tasks into little piles, so to speak.  And then when we look at what needs to be done, it is more manageable. Even if the same of amount os tasks need to be completed, they don’t seem as menacing of they are organized my importance.  We have a plan, and know how to approach it.  Having a plan of action helps me feel batter and like I have something under control.

First though, we have to find a way to slow down, take a breath and put our minds at ease. Then life is more manageable.

What puts my mind at ease and calms my thoughts is praying, a lot.  I have to.  My faith is what saves me from 1. going crazy, 2. yelling a lot more and 3. I am pretty sure has saved me from going to jail when I encounter stupid people. And I want to meditate more.  To me, meditation is an extended and relaxing form of prayer.  I want to feel more in line with my faith, because when I wake up panicked, I feel far from God, even though I know he is close.

We need to feel grounded in something, whether family, faith, friends or a combination of all of them.  And when we feel grounded, we can hold on to those roots while we feel overwhelmed.  That holding on while letting go and allowing ourselves to not be perfect, to not get everything done, to be a little bit of a mess (or a lot), will ease our discomfort.

So don’t worry about being perfect all the time.  I’ll let you in on a little secret: No one ever is.  Even those who look like they have it all together all the time – don’t.  Not really. And that’s OK.  We don’t have to perfect to be a whole. beautiful, wonderful human.





Motivation and Beliefs

I wrote this a few years ago…and it is very timely now…Enjoy!

When I was a little girl, I was told I could do anything. Somehow in adult hood, and the search for the perfect job, partner, car, life, that gets washed away. Somehow we still have to get up in the morning, face the world, and somehow find the motivation to believe. Believe, against the odds, against what we hear on the news, the stories we see in the paper – that we still can do everything and anything we want.

We all go through those times in our life where we are so overwhelmed by what we have left to do to get to that road of success, that we just freeze up and do nothing…not even knowing where to begin. We know where we want to be, but seem to be surrounded by fog and have no idea which way to go to even start the journey. We have lost not only motivation, but also direction. We feel lost…a very small boat in a big sea of uncertainty. How do we get back to land, back to a safe harbor?

Motivation is, in essence, a system of belief. We must believe, everyday, that we have the power to make our dreams come true. And this takes a lot of work. One of the biggest misconceptions is that being confident and happy is easy. It’s not. Dolly Parton once said “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.”…well, it takes a lot of work to make happiness and optimism look this easy.

First you must make the decision to be motivated and happy, and then you must re-make that decision every day. You must decide everyday when you get up to believe in motivation. The following are the decisions of belief I re-make every day.

Belief you are not alone -Think you are special in your circumstances and de-motivation? You’re not. There are thousands just like you everywhere in the world. You are very special – because you are unique and gifted – not because of your circumstance. The only reason your circumstances are important to you is because they affect you and your world. The gift in that is that you are not alone. Everyone has been where you are right now, and everyone understands. We all go through it many times in our life.

It also means that because there are so many who have been or are in the same spot you are in, that there will be few guests at a pity party should you throw one for yourself. That means it may be time to get off your tail and do something. In other words (to quote a great Southern saying): “Get off the cross honey, other people need the wood!”

It means you must realize you are strong and capable enough to make your goals come to fruition. You have everything you need right there inside of you. All you have to do is believe in yourself, reach deep down inside and pull it out.

Belief in abundance -Repeat these words to yourself every day, every hour…every time you start to feel scared or discouraged: There is an abundance of work, there is an abundance of jobs, there is an abundance of money. And there is. There are more resources and abundance in the universe that we could ever know what to do with. And you deserve all that you want.

Belief in the Universe- It is impossible for you to fail. It is against all the laws of the Universe for you to fail. Repeat this often. And know that it is true. Everything in the universe wants us (you) to be happy and successful. The whole universe exists for you to happy and successful. And because of this, it is impossible for you to fail at anything. When you try something and it doesn’t work, that is not a failure, it is a lesson. And it is because there is something better waiting for you. You must believe this with all your heart. Whatever you need, will be there for you. Because you cannot fail. You were not meant to fail.
Sometimes we get so attached to an idea – like wanting a certain job – and we get so fixated on that that we don’t see that there is a better option for us…but the Universe sees it and will place us it the path of success whether we like it or not. Think about trying to swim up the current of a fast river…why would you do this? All you have to do is stop fighting it. Go with the flow and current of the Universe. The flow will take you were you are supposed to go.

Belief in being stubborn – Defiance is a good thing. Defy all those who doubt you, be stubborn enough to proof them wrong. So many times we believe the doubts that other people say and put into our heads. We believe the news about the unemployment rates, about the housing market, about everything negative…it is hard to believe that we would be the one to beat the odds. But you can. You have everything you need already there to beat any odds you want. Be stubborn. Be defiant. Be the one that can flip them off and say “you were wrong.”

Belief in yourself- Believe that you truly can do whatever you want, that everything you need is already inside you. Believe it because it is true. Everything you need is there, inside you, waiting to come out. You have every tool, every talent, every everything already. All you have to do is believe it.

Belief that it will be – Businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner Anita Roddick said “To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.” We could all learn from this simple, yet incredibly complex statement. If we believe with the passion of every fiber in our being, it will be. Believe in your abilities, your life, your passion and most of all YOU.

Belief in being open to change – Change is coming…so you might as well welcome it. This goes along with going with the flow. You may not know where you are going end up, and the fear of the unknown may rare it’s ugly head now and then, but if you are open to change, you will find it sooner rather than later. You will also find yourself having a better adventure during a time of change if you have a good attitude about it than if you don’t. It’s coming, whether you like it or are ready for it or not. You might as well enjoy the ride.
Belief that it’s not about the sale – when you talk to people in the coffee shop, networking group – or wherever – remember it’s not about the sale. If you talk to people with just the purpose of meeting people to get customers for your company they will say no. Simply meet people. It’s not about the sale. It’s about talking and learning about people. Ask questions. Be genuinely interested in their answers. They will respond and remember you. If the opportunity comes up great , if not you just met a cool person.

Belief that it’s not about them, it’s about you – Because it is. When we are not sure of where we are going it is easy to follow others paths…then we find that we are not where we should or need to be. It’s not about them, it’s about you. Sit quiet, be still and listen to who you are. Remember who you are. This is your life and today is not a dress rehearsal. How do you want your life to be? Forget about them, this is about you. It’s OK to be selfish enough to listen to what you want and how you want your life to be, what will make you happy and what you need. It’s not about them, it’s about you.

Belief in the subconscious- Goal boards, lists, motivational sayings on the fridge, and pictures of what you want to accomplish, they may sound a bit corny – but they work. Decide what you want and put it in front of you every day. This is a very powerful subconscious reminder…while we are doing what we do every day, we will subconsciously do things that lead us to what is in front of us. So make what is in front of you where you want to be.

Believe in your friends –You have surrounded yourself with loyal friends who know and love you no matter what. Lean on them, vent to them, let them inspire and motivate you when you are low. Asking for help has been especially hard for me…it’s not bad or weak for someone else to ask for help, but somehow it is for me. That is bull and I know it…but I still feel it. I have to stop it – and so do you. I have swallowed my pride (a hard thing for a proud southern girl like me to do) and asked my friends and family for help. You know what I found? So much help I didn’t know what to do with it all! The people who love me where more than happy to help me; they wanted to help me.
Another thing you must realize is that sometimes it is a giving a gift to someone when you ask them for help. It is allowing that other person to give something of themselves, and that is tremendous – especially if it is someone who you have helped in the past. It allows them to return the favor. Don’t be selfish…allow your friends the gift of helping you.

The Origins of Compassion

I was once told that compassion must be earned.  I’ll just leave this right here…

We all have things in which we wonder. We all have questions to which we seek answers. One of those questions for me is what is the origin of compassion? From where does it come? Where is that spark first ignited? Compassion literally means come with passion. But it is much more than just that. It is to share suffering and feeling the pain with someone, to share the vulnerability of being known. And yet it is more than a necessity, in my opinion, it is survival. We must have compassion for those around us. We must take care of those we love and be there for them, serve them, with compassion.


When it comes to compassion, and just in general, you can’t force the heart. You either feel it or you don’t. You cannot press a bottom and make it appear. Genuine compassion cannot be composed. And true compassion is a hard thing, especially when we are tired or worn out ourselves and feel like we have nothing to give. So from where does compassion begin? And why is it that some are much more compassionate than others?


I don’t know why others seem to be born with more compassion than others, but I do have a theory of how it starts otherwise. I think that living life and going through struggles of our own gives us compassion for others. God takes us through the journey of our life, gives us these experiences, so that we might understand and be compassionate to those around us. The struggles we experience strip us down until there is nothing left, no ego, no pride, no superficiality, just our true selves at the core. This experience, this vulnerability is the birth of compassion.


We are often like wet cement, and the events of life mold us to be the people we are supposed to become. You follow a journey that transforms your heart to compassionate space. It is a process. As we go through life , the hard times and experiences we have carve out deep spaces within us. And each time we hurt, we hurt a little deeper, so that each time we feel joy or love, we feel it deeper too. Our emotions fill up those spaces from the depths of our soul outward.


I also think a little time alone helps develop compassion. Solitude often lets us get back to our true authentic selves by getting us away from the noise of outside distractions. We prioritize, contemplate and listen deep. Once we get rid of distractions, we are able to sit still and listen, to ourselves, to God, to the hum of the inner Divine – that part of ourselves in which God truly lives. Some call it the soul, some call it the inner self. Regardless of the name, I think this is where compassion lives


I also think compassion is God’s gift to the Human race. To have the ability to share and lighten the load, to be a shoulder. Compassion can help heal a broken soul, sooth a hurt, fix a bad day or make someone smile. Every day I strive to be a better more compassionate person. And hopefully I succeed a little more every day too. And maybe if we all try a little every day, we can make the world just a little better every day. Sound corny? Just try it…

The Sale

It is a strange things, to have the family compound for sale. While lot has been up for sale for quite a while now, but this time it is different. This time I think that it will sell because this is a different kind of real estate agent.

And when it sells there will be an emotional goodbye to all the history and memories that live there as well. It is the last place that the family was all together and happy, the place where I went to recharge, belong and be loved. But it is time for it to be that for another family. But when the compound is sold, all that history will be sold with it.

I have been through it before, in a way. I had to pack up and move all of Dad’s things out of his apartment at the assisted living place after he died. To see his apartment, the last place I saw him, spoke to him, hugged him, empty was heartbreaking. That was hard and the sale of the family house will be harder. There are so many more things, and 20 years worth of memories.

When the compound sells, there will be no place that exists where I will have memories of being a daughter. No place to go to remind me of what it was like to be their daughter. It will all be memories, but memories fail. And I am terrified of forgetting.

I want to have friends down, and take my boyfriend there as well. I want to share with them this beautiful place that means so much to me. I want to tell my boyfriend the stories and the history. I want him to know where it is that I come from. I want to tell the stories of the fruit trees, mowing the lawn and where the gardens where. I want them to see the beauty of the sunrise on the water, here the eagles cry and the owls at night. The frogs and crickets, and look up to see how many stars are really in the sky when you get away from the city lights.

There are stories and memories that make me who I am and why and how. I call taking care of the compound a “joyful burden.” Taking care of the place, making sure it is clean, and good, and inviting, is the last thing I can do for my parents. And anything that I can do for them, or in their memory, is a joy. It is a burden because it was never supposed to be taken on by one. In that respect it can be overwhelming, extremely emotional and difficult. This was a place created by and with love, it was their love that made the space so beautiful. And so it must be cared for with love. I truly believe that people can feel when there is love connected with a space.

And so I will handle the joyful burden, and enjoy making a few more memories with those closest, tell the stories, share tears and laughter and wine and beer. All things in life are fluid and temporary, so enjoy them while you can and make them great. Make great memories, have meaningful moments and love.

A Walk with Dad: Conclusion

It’s hard to believe that it has been an entire year without my father. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 2 years without my mother. It seems that we learn everything in life except how to live without our parents. And then suddenly, we have to find out how to do it. But I don’t think even if we read a thousand books on the topic that we would really truly be ready. I don’t think that’s ever something that you are quite ready for. So all we can do is love our parents as best and as much as we can while they’re still with us. So that we have fewer regrets when we look back on life with them.

As I sit on my mother’s couch, and my parents house, I sit back and reflect on the past year or 18 months. And it feels like I’ve been in a war almost. And there is a feeling of just being still shell-shocked. And a feeling of oh my gosh what have I just been through? Was all of that real? And then you realize that yes it indeed was.

And since his death it has been very difficult as well.  Not only dealing with the grief, but being the only one dealing with the estate and all the needs to be done. Planning his services, handling all of the final arrangements, moving his things out of the assisted living place, taking care of the family compound, making all legal and financial decisions, going through his things and deciding who gets what (which is still on going), dealing with real estate, businesses, without any advice or support is tough.

And when I think back of what I’ve learned, it is truly hard to comprehend. How do you express what you’ve learned when you are in tire world has been turned upside down, completely rearranged, and you are left stunned, shaking your head, and what in the world just happened? I guess what I’ve learned is to cherish those you love. And I’ve learned at the end of the day, at the end of a life, people just want to know that they’re loved. They want to know that they matter. No matter who you are, or what you’ve done, or where you live, or how much money you’ve made, at the end of life you just want to know that you matter and that you’re loved and that you’ve been heard and that you’ve been understood.

At the end of life a person looks at those they love and asks was that okay? Did I matter to you? Did the things I did matter to you? Did you hear me? Did you understand?

My mother said that people just want to be validated and know that they are heard. And I would have to agree that at the end of everything else,above all else, is to be loved and understood.

I have learned that you are often stronger than you think, and that when times are really tough, you really can reach deep down inside of you and pull through. I have learned that sometimes love just isn’t enough, and that you cannot will something to be (unless you are my mother). And just because you love someone doesn’t mean they will love you back, whether it’s family, or a lover, or a friend. I have learned that fair is often times a relative term that is subjective to the eye of the beholder. I have learned more about grief than I ever wanted to know or could possibly comprehend. And I have learned that while grief may be ever present, you can learn to live with it, and even thrive. I have learned that roots are very important, but we are you plant them is everything. I have learned that friends can truly be family. And I have learned to live with heartache and that just because your heartaches doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy. Life is so multifaceted that I don’t think happiness, or even sorrow, can be defined by one event, or circumstance, or point of view.

I have learned that you cannot make anyone help you, or support you, or do the right thing. I have learned that you have to accept that some people and family and too selfish to have compassion or empathy. I have learned how to live without family. I feel like I am one of those people you read about, where their entire family gets wiped out…those people can learn to live without family, I can too. and I have.  I heave learned that tough times do not build character, they build self reliance, compassion and strength, because you do not know how strong you are until you have no choice.  I have also leaned that those hard times can bend even the strongest of steel frames, because there is only so much stress a person can take.  So you must take care of yourself.

And I have also learned how lonely it is when the people you always turn to for support and instruction and guidance, are no longer there. But what an accomplishment it is to find your own way, your own purpose, and trust your own instincts.

Yes I’ve learned all that in a year, well maybe 18 months. And I have learned that I want to be happy. Because life does go on, it doesn’t stop just because someone you love is no longer there. So you just have to find a way. And you have faith, and you pray, and you talk to yourself, and you talk to your loved ones who aren’t there anymore, and you treasure the memories, and you build. You build a life, in The New Normal, one baby step, 1 foot step, one heartbeat, at a time. And slowly, but surely, you will emerge having walked through fire.

Dad, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I heard your voice, since I sat and ate breakfast with you, since I had a conversation with you, hug you, hold your hand, I just enjoyed your company. I can’t believe it’s been so long, and I just sometimes wonder how could it have been that long? I thought you would be around forever. Thank you for being here as long as you are for teaching me everything, for showing me by example, by being such a wonderful father, and a wonderful husband to my mom. Thank you for having enough faith in me that you knew I could get through this too. Thank you for so many, many more things. Please tell Mom that I love and miss her, just like I love and miss you. Please watch over me, and please visit me in my dreams.

A Walk with Dad: The Last Day

The hospice nurse came in early the next morning to examine Dad.  He held his stethoscope to Dad’s abdomen and listened.  I held my breath and asked if he heard anything. he said No.  I quietly said I know what that means.  The nurse, Terry, seemed relieved that I knew, because he did not want to tell me.  The other nurse came in too. After they both talked and reviewed everything they told me what I already knew, that Dad had maybe 24 hours left.When there are no more sounds in the abdomen, the body is shutting down. The kidneys, liver and intestines are shutting down.

I called everyone to let them know . Then I tried to get in touch with my closets sister. I sent test messages, emails, emails to he sons and husband…but heard nothing back.  I had no idea if she got the messages, if she believed me, if she was going to be there or skip out like she did with mom.  I was terrified that I would have to go through Dad’s death alone.  One of my best friends told me that no matter what, if my sister didn’t come, she would be there.  I would not have to go through this alone. She would hold my hand as I held Dad’s.

I told my ex that he needed to get there if he wanted to see Dad and say goodbye.  And he also tried to get a hold of my sister for me as well, calling her and her sons, and emailing as well.  I can’t say many good things about the ex, but I was frantic trying to find my sister to let her know.  And I appreciated his help.  I didn’t know if she would show up, but if she didn’t, I had to know that I did everything to let her know.  No matter what, I would have a clear conscience.

She did get one of the messages and said she was coming and bringing her family to say goodbye.  I knew Dad would be happy.  Even when a patient is not conscience, they can hear, they know who is around them and what is going on.  Dad would know he was surrounded by those he loved most – his children and grandchildren.

The staff and I met everyone before they went in and explained Dad’s condition. None of them had ever seen anyone like that, and I knew how terrible it would be.  But even when someone warns you, you are still never prepared.  They were so upset, and were crying even before they went on to see him. It broke my heart to see them like that.

We went in and the next few hours was spent crying, praying taking, laughing, saying goodbye. One of my best friends had come to say goodbye and make sure that I was OK. My ex had come to say goodbye, but left to go meet a prostitute names Pearl Prime after he got an email from her. A man from Hospice came for music therapy. O never knew how comforting it would be, until this kind man sat quietly and played his guitar softly for us. His compassion was tangible and he played beautifully.

A priest came to give Dad Last Rites, and the man from Hospice played Ava Maria, which was Dad’s favorite. It was beautiful and I cried. My best friend and my nephews left after that.  To my surprise my sister stayed and stated she was not leaving.  I was beyond thankful.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it alone. I thanks God for answering  my prayer that she would be there.

And so they left and it was just the four of us – Me, my sister, Dad and the continuous care nurse. She had been there since early that morning. A continuous care nurse is a beautiful service Hospice provides. It is a nurse whose entire purpose s only to take care of the patient, no matter who else is in the room.  They stay with the patient 24/7, until they pass.  They make sure they are comfortable, and have everything that they need.  But it is more than that. This nurse was there  only to tend to Dad. She made sure he was more than comfortable, she made sure he was peaceful. The staff at the assisted living facility were amazing. They checked in on Dad and also us, making sure we had everything we needed – Did we need food?  Or anything to rink?  Would we like some hot tea or coffee?

And so it was, My sister and I stayed with Dad, held his hand, told our favorite stories, I sung to Dad, and told him I loved him. And his breathing slowly became less and less…until…it was his last at 2:55am.

It was beautiful and he was peaceful. He actually had an almost smile on his face. He was surrounded by love. And Mom took him across, I am sure of it. He passed away on Ash Wednesday, his favorite day of the religious year.

I love you Dad. And I will miss you always.


A Walk with Dad: The Conversation

The next day was the the news that what dad was going through was 90% the dying process.  They said that miracles do happen, but it did not look good.  I didn’t know what to do.  I paced around a lot. That was the the 27th, Monday.  I called my cousins and aunts to let them know.  I called my friends, and i called the three siblings to let them know, find out of they wanted to fly in to say goodbye. They did not, just to keep them updated and let them know when he passed.  I still could not get hold of  my closest sister and wasn’t sure if she wold believe me if I told her anyway. Then I called the ex and asked him to see me after work because it was an emergency and I needed and face to face conversation.  To my surprise, he agreed to come.

That day was spent talking with nurses and staff, making plans, telling family and friends. Praying, a lot of praying. And crying.  Dad was not getting better. He was getting worse it seemed.  He was not really talking much, and terminal restlessness has started. That is when the patient gets restless, cannot get comfortable, picks at the covers or tubes, tries to get up, sit up, lay down, etc.  It is incredibly distressing, even when you know what it is, which is a natural part of the dying process.  I recognized it it from when Mom was dying. Even then, it was hard.  I recognized other things as well.  But Dad was comfortable and well taken care of.  He was at peace with dying, he had said it before.

When the ex arrived, I pulled him aside and explained to him that Dad was dying, that he was not very responsive, that he had terminal restlessness.  That it would be very stressful to see, but that dad was actually not in any way suffering and was natural part of the process.  Even then, the ex had never seen anyone dying and it was very distressing to him.  I asked the ex to be in the room with me when I told Dad that it was OK to let go and be with Mom.  You have to tell those who are dying that it is OK, you have to break your own heart and tell them to let go.

And so I did.  I held Dad’s hand and told him that I loved him more than words could say, but that I knew he was tired.  I knew that he missed Mom, the love of his life, and that he wanted to be with her.  I told him that I would be OK, that all of his children and grandchildren would be OK, and that if he wanted to let go, to be with Mom, it was OK.  I understood, and that he could let go. It was the second hardest conversation I have ever had to have in mu life.  The first was the same conversation I had with Mom.  Dad was not responsive with words, but he held my hand and squeezed it. I knew he hard and understood.  That was the conversation.

After that the ex went and got cognac and beer for Dad.  I had been giving Dad water  on little spurge to keep his mouth dry.  Dad could no longer swallow so he could not drink any liquids or take his medicine.  So I would take the sponge and squeeze it as drop went into his mouth.  When the ex came back. I put some cognac on the sponge and asked if he wanted some.  He parted his lips and grunted enthusiastically. I put some on his lips and in his mouth.  It must have hurt his lips (they were cracked) and then out water on them  We sat with Dad for a while longer, talking to him, making sure he was OK.  He was restless and kept trying to get out of the bed or sit up.  That was terminal restlessness.  The Hospice nurse gave him something to help calm him and he was OK.  The ex however, was visible shaken, so I told him I would take him for a beer. We went to a terrible restaurant were we both had a beer and two double shots.

I stayed with Dad that night.  I sang to him, and talked to him about my favorite times we spent together.  I wanted to make sure that he knew he wasn’t alone.