adult children, clarity, communication, life, responsibility

The Coffee Shop

   Saturday morning… the satisfaction of waking up thinking about something other than mundane tasks of a weekday morning routine.  I woke up joyful today. Texted the kids to see if either of them could meet me for bagels and coffee?  One answers immediately… he can fit it in before work “if you can be there in 5”.  Of course I’ll be there in 5… jump up and quick get ready.

I get there before my 19 year old son, my youngest of 3 adult children.  I order for us both and sit down in a corner seat.  I mention to a friend at a nearby table that my boy was meeting me and he’s heading to work … “I may only get a few minutes, but a few minutes I’ll take” I say to her.  Knowing smiles cross both of our faces. He joins me moments later and his smile fuels me for my day.  He sits with me and we chat a bit, just being with him after the crazy work week I’ve had completes me somehow.  He scoffs down his bagel in a way only a 19 year old can and gulps his chai… he’s out the door… off to work.  Off to continue his journey… his becoming. I love watching this, I love hearing him share that he’s got to pick up his buddy on his way to work and wouldn’t want to be late because then delivery times get “screwed up”.  This might all sound so simple and not worth mentioning, or blogging about for that matter, but I feel it is more than worth it.

What I’ve clearly learned over time is that most other people don’t see the world the way I do.  I realize this is a daily exchange of many as a day begins, but for me it’s me watching the growth in my son, the learning of responsibility, he makes me proud.  I find such joy and emotion in everything around me. I find that it’s the simple things that bring the greatest joy… small daily accomplishments all leading to bigger ones down the line.  Don’t be mistaken… with this strong emotional attachment to the little things that I say bring me “joy”… the small things also rock my world in a way that other’s can’t always understand. I FEEL everything… and strongly might I add.  The good and the bad.  I internalize things and overthink them… is this a bad thing? I’m not sure, I just know it’s me and I know that I am beginning to understand myself more everyday.  I have felt misunderstood for much of my life.

Sitting in the coffee shop after my son left was different for me, I don’t often sit alone like that.  I sat committed to finishing my coffee and taking in the morning buzz of the people around me. I live in a small community so there were many familiar “hellos” but just as many unfamiliar faces too.   Chit chatter surrounded me, I consciously worked at not pulling out my phone… I honestly wanted to “see” and be seen!  I sipped and observed.  I saw many so engrossed in their phone screens that they would need to come out of that trance to even remember where they had landed for coffee that morning.  Others are “regulars” here and had friendly conversations amongst them.  A gentleman sat alone in the opposite corner from me reading the morning news.  Chatter across the counter while folks waited for their orders… I noticed one man who was so kind and followed each “Good Morning” greeting with “How are you doing anyway?”  — A man after my own heart.  He wants to know more, head lifted, eye contact, genuinely interested in how another person is “doing”.  I honed in on one conversation at the counter that sounded a bit deep, they were discussing a poster hung up for a fundraiser for a local musician who’s battling cancer. The man who wants to know more asked the barristas how his battle was going.  The response came from one of my favorite people behind the counter,  his response was “he’s ok… but this just may be his last loop around the planet.”  This resonated in me. I pondered that thought and knew I would write this morning.

I have not been turning to this blog for a while… I have been preferring my pen flowing across the pages of my personal journals…Yes that was plural… I have multiple journals around my home, always ready for me to jot down my many thoughts. This feels good today.

My coffee shop experience this morning left me humbled to be human. The last gentleman to leave the shop before me made his rounds to say goodbye and told us all that “Life is just a big wave… we are all on a tiny surfboard! Stay steady!”  Peace.

 

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.

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

 

adult children, anxiety, family, identity, life, purpose

Getting here…

I am a mother. I am a mother with anxiety. I was a child with anxiety that grew into an adult with anxiety. I have children with anxiety. I feel like when I write this it is different than when I speak it.  When I try to talk to someone about having anxiety, I feel the average person questions it. It is a label, not an understanding.

I’ve been told when I’m in an emotional state over something that it’s better to push that feeling away and stay focused… “keep working and stay busy, that feeling will go away!”  What I know is that is called suppressing your feelings, not fully acknowledging what is showing up for you and not dealing with it. With all of my heart and soul I do not agree that this is good practice, those feelings are going to turn up some how some way! Sometimes in bad habits, bad decisions and even physical pain.  I like to deal with things head on ~ when they are directly in front of me, I don’t set it aside and pretend it’s not there! Most people I know don’t have time for all of this self reflection and dealing with it… it is all business and there is no time for feelings.

Until my children reached the age that they were beginning to feel crippled from this disease themselves my husband and I helped them without professionals. I would read and learn and teach them. We would practice breathing techniques and learned to find ways to shift their negative mind.  My sons anxiety has been evident and present since he was 3 years old. My daughter’s didn’t become evident and spoken of until she was college age when she developed depression along with her anxiety.

My story now is that I feel such new struggles with mine since my children have grown.  I believe motherhood may have given me a way to hide. My social anxieties were relieved with going places as a family and my focus could be on my children, not on me.  It helped me to feel comfortable and have something to “do” or someone to always talk to.  I have felt it get worse and worse as the kids don’t need me as much, but now, with them gone off to college and my husband and I learning to be just us, it is feeling scary.  I believe it may be scary for the average person but with anxiety it feels magnified. Horrifying really.

I wonder… How will I have a conversation and not have a way “out” -The “Excuse me… I’ll be right back I need to go help my son.”  and never return.  I always had an escape from what was uncomfortable. I am feeling like I should own up to something I’ve tried to hide most of my life.  Tell people, explain myself to others. Why am I so ashamed of this?  Why is it such a big reveal? Maybe it has already presented in many of my life situations and I’m the only one not facing it? It’s been a lifetime of feeling like this… questions, shame, guilt, ridicule.  All the things I have coached my children to not fall into the trap of, all the while trying to help myself.  The answer to why I don’t own up to it… reveal it… is because I have attempted to do so to some of my closest friends and family and there often feels there isn’t much understanding. Just blank stares with words behind the glare that feel uncomfortable. Because there are no words I make up my own. I can hear their words without them even saying them.  A childhood full of being told not to be “so sensitive”, that everything’s not always about me. Not feeling supported when I needed reassurance on things I felt I had done well.  I did need a lot of reassurance, school didn’t come as easily to me as it did for my sister. I loved art, I loved being creative, I loved drawing with my grandmother.  The things I found important and valuable were often not shared by others.  I honestly do not remember doing much right.

I am strange. I am different. I have known this for a long time, even as a young child. I most often felt misunderstood, I often feel those same feelings today.  I am a work in progress, aren’t we all? I live everyday to try to understand myself better and find peace in other’s perspectives. Forgiving for hurts I felt. I often share what I have learned with others who will listen. This makes me strange.  In a world of move faster and achieve greater things than the person standing beside you, I am SO different. I am not in any form of a race with any individual to get to any type of end point. I am on a journey. I believe that each situation I am faced with and each person that crosses my path has something to give me – maybe in the form of wisdom, growth, or maybe just joy.

I work with children in a school as my profession. I love children. I love the innocence, the truth and honesty they convey. I am brought great joy through a child’s smile.  I work as a paraprofessional in a school, my colleagues are lead teachers who want kids to perform well… achieve, achieve, achieve… I want them to be, be, be.  My love for the kids shines through everyday ~ some people embrace this and others do not. I remember being a struggling child. I came from a great home, a two parent household, my parents worked at home, we were taught respect, from the outside looking in I had no reason to struggle, but I was. I know now that it was my anxiety. I can remember testing in school… I would freeze up, I knew nothing, absolutely nothing. I felt so stupid. I still often feel stupid. That little girl is still inside of me… fearful, shameful, misunderstood.  I identify with children who struggle in this way. Being a paraprofessional I feel I have a unique opportunity to connect with children and be available to help them.  I work in our town’s elementary school library, after years of being there I feel it is my calling.

I have great empathy for individuals in pain. Not just people I know, but people I see in distress, I want to be able to help people who suffer.  It is programmed inside of me and I often feel if I know someone hurts and I do not aid in making it better than I have failed. I am often left exhausted over situations that I could never have changed or helped but spend so much energy on wishing I could have.

“As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”  ~ Audrey Hepburn

awakening, clarity, family, identity, life, peace, purpose, respect, responsibility, self esteem, time

I guess that’s why they call it work…

I have been in a working relationship with a difficult person for 10 years. I have attempted to look at this problem from so many points of view and perspectives that I have exhausted myself time and time again.  I am a fixer, if there is a problem I want to fix it. This one, there seems to be no fix. I have had to learn to “fix” from within.  This has been such a growing period in my life that I honestly feel as though this situation has been given to me. Like maybe I should even thank her for the struggle, because I am a stronger person for it.

I could call her names (I certainly have done that over the years)… she’s controlling, she’s heartless, she’s self-centered, she’s C-R-A-Z-Y!   What I’ve come to see and understand is that this doesn’t help me. Finding her faults and focusing on them doesn’t help me be better at who I am and how I conduct my work.  I have become stronger because I have learned to see my strengths and weaknesses through it all and work on them instead.  I cannot work on her… I cannot help her, I have to concentrate on helping myself.

Leaving was never an option. I absolutely love my job. I am very clear that it is my calling. I am very good at it, it is aligned with my passions and beliefs, and I will not give it up because we cannot get along.  I have been supported by my administration which has been a blessing. They see how valuable I am and I am proud of that.

My advice to people struggling with co-workers is to take all of it and look inward. Do not allow your ego to get involved. When my ego steps in and wants to take over it gets all befuddled. I need to stay focused and calm with my eye on my goal. The goal isn’t to beat her, be better than her, or to prove anything.  It is to personally have a good day, to do the job I am there to do and do it well. I have learned to leave my emotions at the door.  We do not speak about our personal lives to each other, we are strictly business and this works for us. I am such a social person that not having a personal relationship with someone I spend so much time with has been an adjustment, but with doing it I see it is for the best.

I do have to admit that I am in a new stage of life and it has helped me at work this year. My husband and I became empty nesters this year, our youngest has flown the coop and my home-work life balance is feeling much better. I believe I contributed to much of the “stuff” at work by having inner turmoil about not being able to be 100% at either place. I like to give all of myself to where I’m needed and I never felt fully respected for what I have had to give to my family over the years of working in this job.  I am on the other side of it now and my family is strong. My kids are succeeding, I have raised good humans and I am in my 25th year of a beautiful marriage. I pat myself on the back for where I am today and have also learned that I don’t need anyone else to do the “patting”, I know what I’ve done is right and I am stronger for it all.

As a mother, as a wife, as a daughter and as an employee I feel I have had to make my decisions day to day to where my loyalty has had to be. I will have to continue to do that and go forward having faith that it will feel balanced.  I plan to continue on this journey becoming stronger and better than I was yesterday. I’m happy with me!

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  ~ Mahatma Gandhi