Far away …

Today my son George officially found out that he will be studying abroad his next school year. He will be heading to Germany, and he will be leaving sometime this summer and he will be returning in late Spring 2020. When he sent me a copy of his acceptance letter I literally stopped and wept. My son’s dream came true. And it’s absolutely beautiful. As much as I struggle with the changes that have come with having adult children and the directions we have all been pulled, I can’t help but feel overjoyed. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunities that have come George’s way. He has worked hard and he has persevered and God has blessed him abundantly. I know that at some point the distance and the time apart will hit me like a ton of bricks. But for now, I’m just going to be happy for my son and grateful that he is living the life that he’s dreamed of.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you get to go FAR AWAY!!!

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Authentic …

In 2016 I survived. BARELY. In 2017 I recovered. THANKFULLY. And in 2018 I lived. HAPPILY. I feel like I loved and found peace and contentment in every moment that I was given this year. I felt joy and found happiness even on my toughest days. And for some reason this came easier than it ever has. I let go of A LOT. Sometimes maybe more than I should have. But I make no apologies. It’s what felt right in the moment that I was sitting in. Sure there are things that I wish I could change and things that I wish I had done differently, but for the most part, 2018 was exactly what I needed it to be. It was life, my life, unfolding and evolving in the most normal of ways. I needed a year like this. BIG TIME. And I am grateful that God blessed me with it. As each day passed I tried to cherish each moment as a treasured gift. I think I did a pretty good job of that. I took each situation and circumstance for what they were and stayed in the moment. I was PRESENT feeling my way through and learning what I could. It was not a year full of change or movement or victories, but it certainly was a year that was packed full of wonderful memories. Memories that were made with some incredible souls. There is no doubt that 2018 was a good year for me.

So what then, can I expect from 2019? The last few days of 2018 I spent a lot of time trying to come up with my New Year Mantra. I have done this for so many years now that it should be easy. But it never is. I really put a lot of thought into it because this one word will follow me for the next 365 days. It is a reminder of what I choose to accept and bring into my life. Last year I chose the word “Free” and I can’t tell you how accurate that became. In 2018 I allowed myself to be freely me and I loved it. Even the messy parts. I didn’t push too hard to grow. I didn’t push too hard to succeed. I didn’t cling to or reach for much of anything. I was just grateful to have the moments God felt I needed. I guess years like this come when you overcome some ugly things. Well, at least it did for me. And again, it felt right.

I remember after my mom passed away, I asked God for some time to JUST BE. I didn’t want to grow or change or mature or be anymore than what I was. Basically I asked for a life break! But it wasn’t what I wanted long term. I just wanted enough time to allow what happened to me to sink in so that I could move gracefully into my future. And He graciously let me have it.

I feel like that was what 2018 was for me. A break. A time when I got back to the basics of ME and nurtured the NEW me that I became after being sick again. This me is different for sure. But I wouldn’t necessarily say it came from growth. It is more along the lines of acceptance. In a good way. Like finding peace over things that I cannot or won’t change. Being content with less. Processing more. Seeing situations clearer. Thinking harder. Appreciating more. And loving deeper in every day that passed and in every experience I had. And never wanting more.

So after a year like 2018, what one word could possibly hold the meaning to all I want 2019? I absolutely loved everything about 2018 but I believe that it’s time to feed the passions that God has poured into me. Again. To do this I need to feed my soul with beautiful things and avoid toxicity as much as possible. I need to make sure that the people who I walk through this life with and the people who I choose to expose myself to are genuine, kind and live with good intentions. I want reciprocal and loving connections with humans who are REAL. I truly feel that God has been calling me for more and to accept less from others could hinder my reply to His calling. To deny the fire that He has placed in my heart would be innately wrong. I see it as squandering the days that I have been given and living disingenuously. But this is a tough one for me. Putting myself out there again, taking chances, setting goals, and chasing dreams is especially difficult coming out of the year I just had. I was comfortable and safe. But I cannot deny that God is moving me to live my truth. Oh boy, is He ever! So I guess I just have to trust Him and know that I’m ready for whatever my future holds. I need to believe that I am capable of whatever He places on my heart and I need to live faithfully, genuinely, passionately and bravely in their pursuit.

Well, I hope you all have a YEAR where you live authentically!!!

And then there were two …

Sid left very early this morning to return to school. With George already at school that leaves just Libs and Reese at home. The whole house sounds and feels different. It looks different too. Inside is a stark aftermath of a busy summer. Outside looks almost barren with the lack of cars. The changes are almost disorienting. After coming home from moving Sid into her dorms her freshman year a friend of mine came over to visit me. She said that she was shocked by the energy change in our home. And I couldn’t agree with her more. I was struck at that very moment with a true understanding of what it meant when people say “making your house a home”. I had always lived that way but it was such a different way to experience those feelings. Our house is a living breathing thing because of the souls who both live and visit here. They are the ones who make it a home. And the changes I see and feel around here are because of the love I feel for them. Do I wish that they were always here? Yes. A million times, yes. But I also love the things that this house has become because of their absence. Adulthood comes with new challenges and new sources of joy. This is now the place where they return to share all of that with me. I am comforted knowing that this house is a place that, no matter where life takes them, will always be their home. It is their safe haven in tough times and a place to celebrate all the good. A place that they can always count on to receive unconditional love.

We are considering a big move in the next two years and my thoughts have been drawn to our future house. Where will it be? What will it look like? It’s a bit anxiety provoking with all the unknowns. But then I remember that it really doesn’t matter where the house will be or what it will look like. That house will be filled with everything this house is and more. Undoubtedly our family will grow with marriages and grandchildren. I simply can’t wait for those kind of wonderful changes! Those kind of blessings sure makes all the growing pains that I feel now seem trivial. And when I get past all my wild emotions, deep down I know that our new house will become a home with a familiar story to tell. The story of a family who’s love, history, adventures and traditions make their house a home.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are down to two!!!

2018 and Free …

2017 was a year filled with so much LIFE … and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I started 2017 in full recovery mode. My second round of meningitis at the end of 2016 was no less devastating than my first ten years earlier. I knew the healing process I had laid before me. At times that knowledge made it worse. Other times it made it better because I knew what to expect. I think in a way it made me more compassionate to myself. A rarity, indeed. But I wasn’t myself and I loathed it. I spent months in a fog. My days were filled with naps to combat the unrelenting fatigue and lists because my memory was so poor. My anxiety was at an all time high. I dealt with a significant amount of PTSD that came with an intense amount of anxiety. I was frightened I would have another recurrence. And that pain is NO JOKE. Understanding the severity of my encephalopathy was unnerving. No one can figure out how I was functioning “normally” with the amount of brain swelling I had. But I believe that the terrifying drug reactions I had after I got home really pushed me into a whole new level of fear. I literally thought I was dying. I don’t think I had ever been that scared in my life and sadly it has stuck with me. I can still get to that level of panic with even the smallest of triggers. Yes, healing is a long process. But I am happy to have to the opportunity to do it all again. This could have gone a different way for me and my precious family. And I refuse to be anything but grateful. Refuse.

In January 2017 I somehow convinced my doctors to let me train for a marathon. I truly believe that this was a huge part of regaining my strength again. As the days passed I got stronger and stronger. My memory improved and my fatigue got better with each passing day. If ever there was a time in my life to redefine myself, this was it. And it was incredibly liberating. Who could have ever imagined that the very illness that confined me gave me so much room to grow?!?! Definitely, not me!

When I look back on 2017 it is with mixed emotions. My illness and recovery made it hard. But life still happened. And that made it WONDERFUL. I was able to celebrate George’s high school graduation and watch him plan out his future. I was in awe of the growth that I saw in all of my children. Being a part of their daily lives is a gift from God that I will never take granted. NOT EVER. Summer was just straight up FUN. Having all four kids home for the entire summer was something I needed more than anything. Family heals folks, family heals!

Traveling was also a huge part of my 2017. We took lots of little trips and I was blessed with an amazing trip to Alaska. We celebrated birthdays and accomplishments. YAY, I was there and healthy enough to enjoy all of it! In 2017 I even managed to complete all 16 CEUs to keep my nutrition certification. Now THAT was a miracle having struggled with memory issues, HA! There was so much more too. The privilege of having these experiences and all the others often left me feeling overwhelmed. Like “WOW, thanks God! I’m here, alert and actually living this life!” Words can’t capture how I have felt time and time again. “Humbly blessed” comes to mind but it still falls gravely short.

Anyway, my point of writing about all of this is that regardless of the underlying need to heal and recover, life amazingly still engulfed me and took me with it. Despite the tough times I faced I felt an abundance of joy. I loved every difficult and fantastic moment of 2017 and everything in between. And surrendering to my new journey released me and allowed me to redefine who I was … again.

2017 was hard, but it was also beautiful. THAT sums up life in a nutshell. And as long as I have breath I will cherish every moment of it. If 2017 has taught me anything, it was that I do not have to remain tethered to unpleasant circumstances. That my mind, body and soul can still seek and find the freedom that hope gives us even in our darkest of hours.

So I guess that brings me to my 2018 New Year Mantra. Here goes …

Well, I hope you all have a year where you feel FREE!!!

Summer’s end and a change of pace …

It's our last Sunday of summer break. Sid and George are at college. Libs and Reese return to school on Tuesday. This summer has been a DOOZEY. Emotional and exciting don't even come close to describing it. The summer of 2017 will go down as one of my all time favorites.

I never want summer to end but there is something about the routine that comes with the start of a new school year that grounds me. Summer months tend to feel (and be) more spontaneous and frivolous. But the Fall, winter and Spring months have a coziness to them. Our days are filled with the orderliness of schedules, sports and school, and by the end of August I'm usually ready for it. Fall and winter around this house are filled with magic and traditions that I have come to love. This year we even have some different things planned as well. I'm looking forward to both the familiar back-to-school regimen and the new life we will carve out for ourselves. Our family dynamics are not the same with two of my four children out of the house now. Life will undoubtedly be different, but I know it will be good for all of us.

So am I ready to say "goodbye" to these incredible days of summer? Yes. I believe I am. I will tuck their memories away in my heart. And I will be grateful for each and every moment that I got to spend with the people I love most in this world. God blessed me with another summer … and I truly can't be more thankful.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are ready for a change of pace!!!

Go with the flow …

Winding down from the past eight days hasn't been easy. Coming home to a house that is down so many in numbers has just been weird. And of course now it's time to get ready for Libs' and Reese's first day of school next week AND their birthdays.

Life is ALWAYS busy. At least mine is. And I love it. I don't mean the busyness. I mean the "life" part. My life is never boring. It's full of change. It's full of happiness and pain. We have great times and we have struggles. It simply amazes me that it all keeps moving fluidly. And we just glide along with all of it mapping out a new course as each day passes.

I agree that times can be hard. I'm currently in one. I'm grieving the changes in our family. I miss my kids and what was. But I know I'll adapt and figure it all out. That is the beauty that comes with accepting life as it is and as it should be. It will come. This time might be difficult but my life is still incredible. I still laugh and enjoy every crazy mixed-up and turned around situation I find myself in. And I love and adore the people who I have chosen and who have chosen me share them with. We drift through this life together like a stream. My life takes many twists and turns. I don't always see what lies beneath the water. Heck, sometimes I don't want to. But it's all a part of this magnificent opportunity we have been given time and time again … to find joy in each new day. And as long as I have breath, no matter what I may be facing, I will seek it.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you go with the flow!!!

Driving away …

Today we leave this town. Today we leave my son George at his college knowing that we won't see him again for two months. This is hard. This is going to be the most difficult day in this whole process so far. I've lived this once before with Sid. I didn't do it gracefully. I cried. Heck, I sobbed. I wasn't myself for a good week and even then I was pretty sketchy. I expect the same will happen again. And I make no excuses. It's not every day that you get in your car and leave your child knowing that you won't see them again for months. I joke and say that this whole thing would be easier if I hadn't been the one to teach my kids how to use a spoon! Seriously, they went from not being able to feed themselves to leaving for college in what seems to be a really short time. Logically I know that I had about 17 years from spoon usage learning to college classes but today that gap in time doesn't seem nearly long enough today. I selfishly want more time with George. But my love for him somehow allows me to also want this new life for him even more. And even though I don't think I'll ever feel ready for it, I know that he is.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you drive away!!!