adult children, anxiety, awakening, identity, life, purpose

In Nature All Things Transform, Even People…

I woke up this morning thinking about my daughter.

She will be home after her exams in about two weeks. She is struggling. I always want to take the hurt away, find an answer… a solution. We’ve been at this a while, she has battled depression for almost 2 years now and all I’ve had to really offer is listening and understanding. Medication worked for a while but now seems to not be? Her stress levels are currently very high as she heads into exam week, this exacerbates her anxiety as well.

This morning I awoke with a renewal of hope. I woke up thinking of nature… thinking about how everything that is worth it takes time and nurturing.  Flowers begin as tiny seeds finding their way through rock and soil to meet the sun, they need water and light to begin to grow. They then form buds and gradually open themselves up into great beauty to share with the rest of us, all the while never doing this at the same time as the seed beside them.

The great enormous tree in our backyard began as a tiny acorn, finding ways to sprout despite all the adversity it’s faced. As a young tree it faced the wind and had to learn to stand tall, maybe changing form here and there to withstand the beating weather. But it is there now… with strong roots and providing shade and shelter to the rest of us.

The symbol I most thought of as I thought about my daughter this morning was the butterfly.  How the butterfly begins as a caterpillar… Haven’t we all felt like the caterpillar? The transformation and the morphing they must endure to eventually become the butterfly is inspiring. The interesting part to me is THE CATERPILLAR NEVER KNOWS IT”S HAPPENING.  They gradually go through natures plan, often very slowly, feeling undeveloped, feeling very unnoticed.

I saw my daughter clearly this morning as the caterpillar.  Not for it’s form or dullness… but for it’s desire, for it’s willingness to push on when all feels slow and unexciting. She is doing the inner work now to be able to fly off in grace and beauty… she is morphing and transforming right in front of me. I am so inspired by her strength and her ability to continue to smile when feeling such inner pain and turmoil. I am so proud of her and can so clearly see how today’s effort and strife will lead her to her transformation.

All of my children bring me such joy.  They are adults now.  I have such admiration for them, watching them take what my husband and I have instilled in them and seeing them apply it to their own lives, priceless!

“The butterfly is only beautiful because the caterpillar was brave.”  ~ Anonymous

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, expectations, family, identity, life, purpose, school

Taking Life One Day at a Time

So…. It’s Spring.  Spring of 2018, the weather in New England may not be saying so, but the calendar indeed does.  Spring is a marked time for new beginnings, a time to launch into our days with renewed energy and vitality after a long winter.  This has always been the time of year that I break free of my own version of winter hibernation and begin to stretch.  With warmer weather and longer days it feels natural to begin to feel and think “brighter”.

My two youngest children have been away at college and will return home for summer in 2 weeks time. Our daughter is half way through her junior year and our youngest son is completing his freshman year. If you’ve read my earlier posts you would know that this was my husband and I’s dreaded year of “empty nesting”. A major shift in our family dynamic, one of which has been shifting since our oldest son left for college over 6 years ago.  He has completed his college degree and has found a career path that he is delighted in.

We had a big celebration weekend this past weekend for our daughter’s 21st Birthday…WOW! What a milestone! We are enjoying our adult children so very much! With family time for us come discussion time…

We have been well aware that our two younger children have not found college to be as exciting and rewarding as our oldest son did. It has been a struggle. Our daughter in three years time has taken a semester off, transferred schools and is still just not feeling happy with her experience there.  She has made some good friends but often feels surrounded by negativity and feels she has no escape. Campus life just has not been fulfilling or rewarding for her. Our youngest son never really knew if college was right for him, he would throw around different ideas when he was in high school and not fully deciding on going to college until end of his junior year. He had mentored at our local elementary school as a Phys Ed teacher and decided to pursue that path.  College courses have proven difficult for him leaving him with feelings of frustration and often feeling like a failure. They have both shared with us that they do not want to return to college in the Fall.

This did not come as much of a surprise.  My husband and I have wondered if spending the money for them to just go through the motions and not feel fulfilled is the right thing for them anyhow. The feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction they’ve shared throughout their journey has left us to feel this may be best as well.  Our daughter has decided she will finish her degree online while working at building her new dog business.  She has a passion for dogs and has run her own dog walking business for a couple summers and would like to grow her business into something more.  She gets excited when she talks about this and it is clear it is the path she will follow for now just not knowing what’s around the corners up ahead.

This leads me to our daughter’s anxiety and depression.  It has flared up terribly in the last few months. I do feel a lot of it has to do with her age and not being able to “see” where she is headed, or what is around the next corner.  She is very often in a very heightened state of stress.  She has battled with autoimmunity with unexplained body rashes, sicknesses that can’t be explained, such as severely inflamed throat and fevers that test negative to strep or mono (she has been tested many times over the last 3 years) … it is always a result of high white blood cell count showing her body is fighting infection but no illness per se.  This is very unsettling.  A lot of what I have seen happening (sickness, weight gain, anxiety, depression, etc)  all seem to point in the direction of her gut health.  She has taken antibiotics over the years for these illnesses and I feel she may be way off in her gut chemistry.  My mission now is to get her home and begin healthy eating with the addition of prebiotics and probiotics and hope to get her back on track with her health and see if her other health issues iron themselves out.

Our son has also battled with major anxiety.  He was diagnosed with a mild form of OCD with his anxiety last summer.  My children do not “present” themselves as having these illnesses, they have always been active community members, good students and were top athletes in the sports programs they’ve been a part of.  Most of my friends do not even know we battle the way we do with these everyday struggles. I don’t know that I am necessarily keeping it a “secret” it’s just that often I just don’t feel like it is my place to tell their story.  It is their path, their journey and they should be able to tell it as they see it and as they wish when the time is right for them.  I have chosen to tell my own story of anxiety at the age of 46.

So here we are… Spring… new beginnings.  My son wants to travel, he wants to experience life! Our daughter wants to also travel, she talks about jumping on a plane and heading out to some sort of conference or dog trade shows… they are ready to “fly” in different ways.   One thing I can say with sincere positivity is they will be okay…. they struggle today because they are so in-tune with their inner selves that they feel everything… they want answers for what feels unsettling.  They are not drowning out what this feels like with drugs and alcohol, and to be perfectly honest with the decisions to not be on a college campus right now, I am clear that they don’t like seeing others doing this either.  I am proud of them and we support their journey!

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.  – Arthur Ashe

 

communication, expectations, family, life, marriage, respect, responsibility, trust, Uncategorized

Marriage ~ working together

This morning I am reflecting on my life;  I am reflecting on how I have gotten to today.  When I take time to stop and reflect ~ I am truly grateful.  I often speak in my posts of my time and my relationship with my children, but the truth is my marriage, my husband, is the root to our beautiful family. It takes work to be grateful, it takes work to have a good marriage… I am blessed that I have a partner beside me willing to work.

Marriage is defined as ‘a union of two elements’… A union is ‘the action or fact of joining or being joined’.  When my husband and I joined each other in this life we became teammates, partners, allies, and honestly… best friends.  You certainly don’t know this is the case right away!  You begin by living together, trusting each other, ironing out differences, listening…  If you really listen you learn about one another and learn from one another!  In every decision we make in life we must put effort into it to make it work… marriage follows this rule threefold!!

What I find interesting in this life is that each simple moment leads to things you could have never imagined.  My husband and I have been married 23 years and 6 months!  Could I have ever imagined us being here? No. Did I know then that each struggle, each decision, each triumph together and literally each moment (good or bad) would lead us to the strength in togetherness we feel today? No.  We have built the life we live today.  By being true to ourselves and true to each other we strengthen our bond minute to minute.  When I hear others complain about their husband or wife I have a hard time understanding it. If you have agreed to be married… to be partners & teammates to one another… I believe you better find the good in what another is attempting to do and learn to share it, learn to tell them and others what is good about what they are contributing.  We can all find fault, we can all blame others, but being teammates means you rely on each others strengths to ‘join together in a cooperative effort’.  Venting what you dislike about your partner , your teammate, to others will always weaken your bond. Work hard to tell others what’s *great* about your partner, and most importantly when you identify the good in them… work hard to tell THEM what is great about them!! This will strengthen your bond!!

My husband is exceptional.  He is reliable, he is willing,  he is committed, he is flexible, he is consistently respectful and supportive.  Now, does he occasionally veer away from these many attributes? Of course! Do I? Of course!  Do we need to focus on the times we veer away from being our best? No.  Always focus on the good, be grateful for the times we are able to accomplish our best intentions… realize that each other is trying!  Learning to respect the good in one another is your key to happiness… bring each other up not down!  Of course there will be times when things are off balance and you can’t find the good if there isn’t any to be found… but when you chose to have this person as your partner, your teammate in this life, there was good… if you find the courage and work hard to voice what you love about them and show gratitude for what is good when it is good ~ then when things are off balance you have leverage to speak about it. Respect comes from built trust… if you have put honest gratitude into your partners emotional bank, if you have allowed them to see and believe their worth and excellence to you over time, it is easier to talk about and deal with the tough stuff.  I’ve said it in parenting… but I believe it to also be true in marriage… All we expect is respect!

My husband is my best friend. We laugh together and  we cry together. This isn’t something that comes magically, there isn’t a soul mate out there that is just the right one that you skip out into the flower-filled field with and run into the sunset… but there is a partner willing to work along side of you and be your forever teammate.  They will sacrifice self for you and they will tell you when you’ve done well and they’ll tell you when you’ve done bad.  They will love you for you.  The hard work you put in is so worth the time, so worth the struggle… if you take care of every moment, be your best and demand the best from them… you will lead yourself to a place you never knew existed.  23 years ago I was young, I was learning…I met this man and we fell in love,  we have built a successful life, a life to be proud of.  Through all the changes and transitions we remain modest and grateful for one another.  We have built true love… it didn’t just come to us… we continue to work at it… side by side… we are stronger together than we are apart!  I wish true love to be created by all.

purpose

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Fredrick Douglass

We seem to need a cultural shift.  The majority of families in society seem to be struggling so much. What do we do? How does the average person who can see this have an impact?

I work in a K-12 elementary school.  I am very blessed to work in the library, I am the library assistant.  I service every student and every adult in the building.  In all reality, this means I see everything! I see clearly the struggle of teachers trying to teach state standards to their students, many of which are unable to learn due to their own personal struggles, I see and feel the struggles of these kids daily.  I see administration and counselors working tirelessly day in and day out, often just to be scrutinized by staff for what they “didn’t do” or what they “should have done differently”.  I see paraprofessionals in classrooms supporting full-time teachers and often having inter-personal difficulties between them that there seems to be nowhere to turn for help.  I recently became the ESP representative in our building, sitting on the ESP Advisory Board, to try to help these issues.

The library is a quiet safe space, my students often open up to me, I am a listener by nature.  I enjoy my role and feel I have been placed here.  Our library class is considered a “special” on the kids schedule from Kindergarten through 5th Grade. We have most classes twice a week for 30 minutes. Often the kids are just coming in from recess, or maybe gym, and they walk into the library with unresolved social issues that popped up during their unstructured time out of their academics.  They may walk in bickering or whispering, crying or with noticeable tension, whatever it may be it feels to me to be a teachable moment. They want to talk about it, they want to resolve it, they want help with the way it feels.  The part that I don’t understand and see differently is that they are just shuffled through… “keep quiet, keep in line, come into class we are waiting on you now!”   There is no understanding of one’s feelings, no discussion to what socially just happened… just keep moving, push those emotions aside we have work to do!  I just don’t get that.  Isn’t that something we as adults need to also learn?  What then are we creating for these kids? More disconnect, no communication skills.  What is being taught to these kids about understanding their emotions and how to deal with them as they grow and have even more complex emotions?

We are the library, there is no grade given, there are no tests.  Yes, the literacy piece is undoubtedly important… but my point is, can’t there be 5-10 minutes if it’s needed to help these kids resolve some feelings?  Wouldn’t this be the time for them to be able to take a breath and feel the calm before shuffling along again? I get the lead teachers who need to push content during academic blocks, I get that wholeheartedly,  but I also think this is equally important.  I went to a library symposium recently and it is a fact that libraries are sanctuaries to some of our most vulnerable people in society.  Shouldn’t this feeling be taught to kids in the early years?  The feeling you get from your first library will last a lifetime. That is what I feel is most important in my job, creating an environment that’s bright, cheery, and a welcoming space for all.

The definition of school is an institution for educating children.  “Educating children”… to me that means the whole child, to support the growth and advancement of that little person.  Doesn’t that include mind, body and spirit?  If it doesn’t then I think we’ve turned the wrong direction somewhere along the way in education and may be contributing to some of our societal problems right from the start. Our young people have to be taught how to be people, not just succeed in academics, but succeed as people in a society!!

The school I am a part of does this better than many, I am sure of that!  But knowing that what we do is “better” than most and observing the struggle daily is very unsettling.

I see parents working hard… trying to do the right thing.  But they are having to make tough decisions between family and work just to make ends meet and pay the bills.  The stress that comes along with having to make these decisions leaves them exhausted and lacking patience for what their children need from them to succeed.  Who do we help? Parents, kids, entire families?  Do they even know they need help?  What are the steps communities can take to help?  Where in the world do we start?

I cannot reiterate enough that I see and feel the pain!  I see the hurt!  These kids are voicing it – asking for help!  I see kids at younger and younger ages understanding the dysfunction happening at home but feeling out of control of it themselves.  Imagine 6, 7 and 8 year old children knowing something doesn’t feel right and then living with feeling out of control for an entire childhood.  Those same young people feeling out of control of their environment become teenagers and then adults.  Coping skills and a full tool box of how to combat these feelings are so important to them when they are young.  Do we really question the human disconnect and lack of empathy of school shooters?  They were never listened to, they voiced all along what they needed and they were shuffled along through the halls and classrooms being “taught”.  What are we teaching?

The only motive I’ve EVER seen in a young child’s crying or misbehaving is the motive to be listened to, to be understood, or to simply be loved! Some of the children who act out most are those who need the most!

I was that child… because of my needy-ness I was taught to not like myself very much, that something was wrong with me for “feeling”… this carried over into my adult life and I have found ways to make sense of these things.  I have a loving supportive family, a dynamic husband who listens intently to my often crazy ideas.  But what about the kid who doesn’t have that support as they grow?  They continue to feel stupid, unloved, and misunderstood… What a horrible state of being to be in! Is this what we want to continue to create? I don’t.

“Listen to Your Children Now so They’ll Talk Later”

awakening, clarity, gratitude, husband, life, marriage, New England, purpose, seasons, Spring

The Sweet Sound of Wind Chimes

March is finally coming to an end.  The month of March in New England is just a miserable month.  Dreary, cold, long… but the anticipation of spring ahead keeps us going.

My husband has been putzing around outside a lot more these days with the extended daylight in the late afternoons.  He awakened the grill from it’s winter slumber and we have grilled out a few evenings this past week, what a treat!

Yesterday was my sacred Saturday morning, waking to silence and no commitments to run off to, just the quiet of early morning with my coffee.  As I sat reflecting on my week with sun flooding into the living room I heard a different but familiar sound… The sweet sound of wind chimes.

My husband had hung our wind chimes for the season.  I didn’t know he had done it… oh what a pleasant surprise!

There is surely something to be said for being grateful.  Knowing and acknowledging the simple things is a true gift.  It can change so much, just being still and listening… allowing ourselves to embrace what is good around us and not give our attention and energy to  negatives, this is gratitude.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie