Prayers

This is my beautiful friend Melissa, who is fighting cancer. Please also say many prayers for her, her husband and their children.

Update:

Warning: If you are offended easy or do not find frank talk about the body appealing, then please skip:

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The Burden of Being Loved

Being loved is an incredible gift, but it can also be a burden.  By this I mean that it can be hard to accept that love, unconditionally, honestly, wholly, in all of its beautiful glory.  Because accepting that love means accepting help when you are unable to help yourself.  And many feel that they are not worthy, or that they do not want to be a burden.  Let me tell you – you are not a burden to those who love you.

One of my close friends is very sick with triple cancer. She is weak, in pain and not feeling well at all.  And she is at the point where she needs help with things, like fixing meals and caring for her small child.  But this is so very hard for her because she is beautiful and independent and crafty and smart and has never had to depend on anyone.  She has always had to strength and will to do for herself.  But this is cancer, and cancer is hard. She does not want to be a burden to those who love her. She is being strong, doing what she can and accepting help when she needs it, but it is not easy.

It was very hard taking care of my father when he had cancer. But it was my honor and privilege to be there for him.  And I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I would give anything to have another day with him, to hug him, help him, tell him that I love him.  He hated having to depend on me, he didn’t want to be a burden either.  But he never was.  I loved taking care of him and those days are some of the most cherished memories that I have with him.  Honestly, my siblings were the burden – they were too selfish, or busy, or scared, or just too disinterested, to help. But they still made demands and wanted consideration.  They were the burden, but never my Dad.

I served my father with Joy.  But it was not easy for him to let others help him either. And no one talks about how hard that is.  Everyone just says how lucky you are to have others help, and that is true.  But it also requires surrendering to the fact that you need help, and letting others love you enough to be there.

My Mom couldn’t do it.  She loved others deeply, but for some reason was unable to let anyone help her.  She needlessly suffered in silence.  She would not let anyone close enough to admit that she was scared, or depressed, or tired.  I loved her with all of my heart, and I desperately wanted to help her, but she wouldn’t let me or anyone else.  This drove a wedge between us and made communication difficult.  I felt helpless as I knew she was hurting but could do nothing but sit by and watch.

The ironic thing is that she is the one who taught me the importance of accepting love and help from others.  She said that you have to allow others the gift of helping you.  Because there are some people who are put on the earth to give, to serve, and to help.  If you do not allow them, then you are denying them their purpose.  There are people who need to give.  And in accepting their gifts we allow them to fulfill that need.

And that is the burden, the beautiful burden, of being loved.  And many times, it is the hardest lesson. Because it requires us to be vulnerable, and to be helpless and to give up our independence and face our own humanity and limitations. And that makes us uncomfortable. But love is a great and patient teacher.

I needed to give to my parents. I believe that was one of my purposes on this Earth. I needed to be there, taking care of them. Because that is the only gift I could give them that would even come close to repaying all that they had done for me.

So if you are in need, don’t worry about being a burden.  Love and loving is never burdensome.  Let those who need to give, give to you. Not because you need it so much, but because they do.

The Habit of Happiness

We can get into a habit of almost anything.  In fact there have been many books written about how to create habits, from drinking water, to being organized to exercising (which I am still working on). But most people over look one critical habit:  The habit of happiness. Most are under the impression that happiness just happens.  It’s magic, one day you are miserable and then one day 0 poof! – you turn happy.  In reality it doesn’t happen that way.

Many also think that once they achieve or gain “X”, that they will be happy.  It could be a new job or promotion or relationship, or car, or whatever…but the bottom line is while those things may make you happy for a little while, that doesn’t last either.  And if you were not satisfied before, you will not be after either.

The truth is that happiness is a lot of work.  It isn’t magic, it is purposefully working at it every day, setting your intentions and following through with actions.  That is the only way to take the illusion of happiness into reality.  But…how do we do that?

First, know that you can change your circumstance if you are not happy.  It truly doesn’t matter where you start, it is where you want to be and how hard you are willing to work at it.  You are not a tree, you can move and grow.  You can change your position any time you. Like.  That is the magic about life, you can write your own story.  The change will not be instant, it will take time.  But eventually it will change.

Helping others will also bring a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.  Maybe it is getting your mind off your own problems, or realizing that in comparison, your issues may not be as bad as others.  Maybe it is the endorphins that are released into the body, maybe it is Karma I don’t know.  But helping others will boost your happiness as well.

Also fostering meaningful connections helps to.  Do this by being very intentional with how you second your time.  Wonder why they say those who spend more time on social media are more depressed and less satisfied?  Because they agree not really connecting with anyone.  They are seeing life through filters…which is not real.  There is no substantial sharing.  Gossip, small talk, complaining and negative conversations tend to drain you of your energy.

It may sound basic, but getting enough sleep and enough exercise is key to happiness as well.  We don’t function well if we are tired. And our bodies won’t feel good if we are sedentary.  Get off the couch, put the phone down, and go for a run or walk.  The exercise will help you sleep better too.

Be aware of the company you keep. If you have those who are constantly miserable, have drama or are always involving you in unnecessary dramas, then run, run like the wind!  These people are vampires and can suck the happiness right out of a room. Do not waste your precious time and energy on what doesn’t serve you. Instead, surround yourself with those who are positive and supportive.  I don’t mean “yes” people, I mean people who spend there time working to better themselves and their lives s well. People who will support you. In your dreams by being honest and those who are willing to help.

But to me the most important factor in being happy is paying close attention to how your life feels right now, and how you want it to feel.  IF you want to be fulfilled, then do and go after only that which makes you feel that way.  If you want a life filled with laughter, then be around what makes you laugh.  Don’t attached happiness to a list, simply follow what feels good, what makes you laugh.  And if it doesn’t make you feel the way you want your life to feel?  Then get rid of it.  That includes people.

I have learned that life is too short to waste of that which does not make you happy.  Knw that you have the power to make your life whatever you want it to be.  You may have to change your way t=of thinking, but happiness can be a habit too.

Go Deep or Go Home

The older I get it becomes more and more apparent that you must enjoy what is in front of you. This life is fleeting, is make it spectacular. Make it meaningful.  Make it profound.  Don’t just settle for small talk, get into the nitty gritty and really connect.  Appreciate all the little moments as gifts, because they are.

The past week I have learned that a dear friend has three types of cancer. Another passed away suddenly and left behind the love of her life devastated. When events like this happen, they inevitably make you look at your own life and what you want.

I’ve come from a place of such heartbreak and loss, that I want to deeply enjoy every moment that I have. I don’t just want connections, I want deep connections, and deep friendships, and deep conversations, and a deep life. I want to have the things that mean the most close to me. I want to be immersed in all the moments in this life, because you never know what might happen.

I think this is because when you get hurt and are in pain, that pain carves out deep spaces within you.  And what satisfied you before isn’t enough afterward. Your capacity for joy, love and beauty is much more, so it takes more to fill you. You love deeper, feel deeper, experience life on a deeper level, because you are a more profound individual. I think, that what makes the pain worth it is that the joy far surpasses the pain.  And that is as it must be.

But in this day and age of Kardashians, and Instagram filters makimg you look beautiful and happy even when you’re not, and where outward appearances are everything, how do you get that? When everything is shallow and what is below the surface doesn’t seem to matter?

I think it has to do with intentions. You have to set your intentions to seek out what is meaningful, to find more than just a small talk, to see what’s behind someone’s eyes. You have to be brave enough to ask the purposeful questions and be willing to listen to the relevant answers.   Everyone is craving better more meaningful connections, so if you approach others with that intention, they will respond in kind.

You also have to search for people who have the same depth and breadth as you in life. You must seek out those who have the same level of commitment to loyalty, honor, and integrity. Because trust me, if you settle for those who don’t have the same level of commitment, those people will hurt you. It is as much about self-preservation, as it is about living a good life. And once you find them, your people, then you begin to live life on a more profound level.

Our satisfaction, fulfillment and impact depend on the intentions that we set.  We cannot have significant connections if we are not willing to go below the surface – to be curious about life, and people, and things.

And those are my intentions. It is not so much Carpe Diem and it is Carpe Deeper.  For me it is not about seizing the day as it is seizing the opportunity to enjoy each small moment. It doesn’t have to be loud or conspicuous, or loaded up selfies on social media.  It can be as quiet as enjoying a good night’s sleep, and then a delicious cup of coffee on the front porch the next morning.  It can be seeing the beauty in the smiling eyes of a child.  It can be seeing the miracle of birds and flowers. It can be a thousand different things in a million different ways, but being aware and committed enough to get to the most substantial meaning out of each experience. So never be afraid to go deeper.

My Royal Opinion, Because it Matters

In case you live under a rock and did not know, the royal wedding was this weekend. As much as I wanted to get up and see it, my bed is very comfortable.  SO when the alarm went off at 4am, I turned it off, rolled over and went back to sleep.  But one of the great things about living in the digital age, is that you don’t have to watch anything live any more.

I knew the wedding would be all over the internet, and indeed it was.  Along with all the comments and opinions. And the only thing I have to say is – Wow, we have become a truly ugly society.

Internet trolls have been around since the internet, but is it just me or does it seem like they are multiplying in record numbers?  Most comments used to be nice, with a few negatives.  Now, everyone has to say something ugly.

The new royal was criticized for wearing too much make up, for not wearing enough make up, for not looking like a princess, for having a dress that is too plain and not ornate enough for the public, for her hair, her figure, for…everything.  Celebrity after celebrity saying what they thought was wrong. One even saying that she would have gone to one more fitting for the dress…Well, Since Megan was working with the designer, I am sure it fit exactly the way it was supposed to. And her new husband didn’t seem to mind….

Since when did we become so negative?  Since when is it in fashion to trash someone just to get your 5 seconds of internet fame? Since when is it OK to tear others down to make ourselves feel more important? And since when it is wrong just because you would have made a different choice?

What is my opinion on the royal wedding?  I think that if the bride and groom were happy, then it was a success, and what everyone else thinks is irrelevant.

And what’s up with all the mean mimes about the Queen or anyone else involved? Maybe the queen just has RBF?

Why can’t we just be positive?  They are a young couple who are in love…and happen to be royalty.  I can’t help but remember Princess Dianna when I watched that royal wedding as a child. She was beautiful and radiant. And no one said anything bad.  I wonder if that would be the case today, or if our society today would rip her apart too.

If any one us faced the criticisms, judgements and negative comments that young people in the media are subjected to today, none of us would have the courage to leave the house. Why can’t we just wish this young couple a lifetime of happiness?  Why criticize her make up?  If you don’t like how little make up she was wearing, when you get married, you can cake it on.  If you don’t like the dress, wear a different one when you get married.  If you don’t like her hair, wear your different at your wedding.  Otherwise, if you can’t say something nice…just keep quiet.

Dad’s Last Lesson

Out parents teach us many lessons in our lives.  They are our first teachers, our first relationships, our first authority figures, our first home, our first friends.  From learning how to tie our shoes, to learning how to eat a first, how to use the toilette, and how write our names, how to read, how to clean out room…and so many more things that I cannot even begin to list.  And sometimes we do not even realize a lesson they taught us until after they are gone.

Such is the case with my father. Even though he has been gone over a year, and there are things I am just realizing that he taught me.  These moments are wonderful undiscovered gifts, wrapped up in a bow; a package inconspicuously sitting in a corner.  Sometimes it takes some distance to see the picture clearly. I am not only seeing what he taught me, but I am also seeing the situation for what it truly was.

It was hard after Mom died when Dad came to live with me.  It is hard taking care of an elderly terminally ill man who is grieving the loss of his wife, while you are grieving the loss of your mother.  The weight of it is almost unbearable.  But you get through.

And it dawned on that taking care of my father kept me grounded.  I would have been tempted to have compromised and given up too much of myself if he had not been there.  Life has a way of showing you where your priorities should be.

At the time I did not know that I was dating a man who was a narcissist.  Everything had to be centered around him, all of the time.  When my father moved in the ex was no longer the center.  At first the ex was OK with it, but after a few months, he decided he was done. He never said it out loud, but the shift was audible.

This made the load exceptionally heavy to carry, but it also made me focus on what was truly important.  In a relationship, sometimes we can have a tendency to give too much of ourselves.  We acquiesce when we really don’t want to, we make concessions to please our partner, or to avoid a fight. I am a nurturer, and I want to please, so I have to be careful about giving too much and depleting. Myself.

The ex and I began to fight all of the time, because he was not the center. Because I was giving too much to my father. Dad had to remain the focus and that enraged the ex. I was placed in the position where was something so important, that the situation could not be compromised.

 

No matter how much I wanted to please my partner, I knew that my father’s health came first, and I did not, could not, would not give in.  Instead of bargaining to avoid a fight, I fought for the best interest of my father.  Instead of being manipulated into acquiescing to unhealthy demands, I stood strong where my father was concerned. I found something more important that myself, or even that relationship, and I was not going to settle.

And by having something more important than myself, I learned the difference between healthy arrangements and unhealthy covenants.  Because of taking care of Dad, I learned the difference between healthy boundaries and unhealthy requirements.

These lessons have already helped me in my life moving forward.  Understanding how healthy negotiations work in a functional relationship is an important lesson. If Dad had not been there, I would have given far too much of myself. Instead of ending up in an unhealthy downward spiral, I held onto my beliefs to keep my father and myself in an emotionally safe place during a difficult situation.

That was my Dad’s lesson to me:  I saw and understood how it should and should not happen.  I know how two people who love each other should support and compromise in a way that is beneficial to all parties.

So thank you Daddy.  I will remember what you taught me, and I will always be thankful for my time with you and taking care of you.

Come with Me

Come with me
Hold my hand
Feel my heart
And hold both as sacred

For I want to love you
Need to need you
Long to kiss you and
Hope to see you

I love your smile
And they way you laugh
I enjoy your company
And the conversation of your voice

There is no pretense
No forced rymes in this note
No false airs
Just my words

Just my feelings
On the screen of paper
Just what my heart whispers
As night is quiet

And so I hope
Even though it is not fancy
Or in the least bit flashy
That we can build this life

And that you will accept me
and this humble heart
As it is offered to you
It is all I have