Crying “Uncle!”

According to Wikipedia: The Roman Empire theory says, Roman children, when beset by a bully, would be forced to say the Latin phrase, “Patrue, mi Patruissimo,” or, “Uncle, my best Uncle,” in order to surrender and be freed.

Common, Kid, just do what I do, and you’ll be fine.

I’ve learned over these single parenting years, especially, not to be ashamed when I hit a brick wall.  I mean, everyone hits them…that place where, left to our own devices, no clear path presents itself.  I usually have to hit the same wall a few times, no, maybe several times, befor I cry “Uncle!”

“Patrue, mi Patruissimo!”

As my daughter approaches her teen years, I find myself continually perplexed by my parenting inconsistencies.  One minute things are fabulous, and I’m sledding smoothly down the hills of Mt. Pinos, the next minute Mt. Everest shows up, and I lack any sort of mountain climbing skills.  Yesterday I was singing “Riser” by Derks Bentley, and today I’m a Yahoo News headline: Single mom drowns in a sea of tween drama.

I can be calm, cool, and collected, and in ten seconds switch to screaming, ranting Mommy Dearest.

All it takes is one trigger, one button push, one hot spot (and I don’t mean AT & T).

Whoa, Nelly, I didn’t ask for this!

I’ve also learned through various trials that, typically, it’s what I’m doing that is the biggest part of the problem. I whole-heartedly believe in looking in the mirror. No, I’m not taking full blame for every attitudinal tantrum or smart remark made by my pre-teen, but I am willingly admitting that when I step outside myself and take a deep breath, I usually mitigate the situation.

I’m the adult. I’m the one who’s lived the life, been a kid, been an adolescent, teenager, 20-something, etc, etc, etc.  I have the experiences of decades to remind me of the turmoil and trials that pervade these developing years.  Sure, I can tout, “Well, that’s just the way it is.  We’ll get through it.   We all survive and turn out okay.”  Fairly true, but as y’all probably know by now, that’s not my style.

Case in point…with horses in training, the more you force them to do something they don’t want to do, the more they plain and simple will not do it.  Sound familiar?  See any correlation?  On the contrary…as soon as a horse believes that what you’d like him to do is actually his idea in the first place, it happens.  Sure, it might take more than one try, one baby step at a time (usually it does), but it does indeed happen and in a much nicer fashion than, “I said do this!  Do it now, dag-gummit!”

Now you’re gettin’ it.  Good job!

Not that my daughter should be compared to a horse (although, I don’t think she’d mind, knowing how much she loves them), but I am at a place where I’m asking myself, “What on earth am I thinking?  Why am I acting like this?  What can I do to change myself and to help us both along?”

I’ve been so frustrated trying to make my kid do what I want her to do (basically, I want her to do things just like me, duh), with ZERO REWARD, instead of looking for a different path.  Brick walls abound, and I am humbled by the ever-present realization that my way is not the only way or the necessary way, and her way may be different but equally worthy and sufficient for success.

So, I am embarking on some parenting research to help me cope with my own insecurities and fear and to help guide me through these unchartered waters.

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today by Ian Leighton, a renowned horse trainer, which says this:

I wonder what it is about some people that find unpleasantness rewarding.
I can’t think of an animal that thinks that way.

I do not find unpleasantness rewarding, and I know that my kiddo doesn’t either.  I will not settle for things “just being” because of her age and my inexperience as a pre-teen parent.

I ordered book on Amazon called Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens by Laura S. Kastner.  Her parenting techniques go along with the “Mindfulness” movement.  I reviewed the book and scanned the intro, and it completely hit home.  When I read the following statistic, As of 2010 more than nine million families with children under the age of eighteen were being maintained by single mothers, I knew this person had done her research and was going to address things from a real world perspective-not a glorified, shiny, “quick fix” perspective.  Not only will I have the book for reference, but there is an online community to reach out to for support through the author’s website, entitled the same.

We will see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, I already feel hopeful by taking this step.  And, I have faith that while there will be ups and downs, they will certainly be better than hitting brick walls.

Mom may not always get it right, but she’ll always love you.

Have any of you had to cry “Uncle!” with your kids?  If so, what measures did you take at that point to encourage positive change?  Please share!

Life is short…too short not to chuckle about the journey, so c’mon, give it a try. Oh, and thanks, Google, for the awesome photos!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

Inspired by…

Inspire: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

I recently read a post from a blogging friend of mine about what she finds inspirational.  Of course, this got me thinking about my own life and what inspires me….to put one foot in front of the other, to keep on keepin’ on, to try new things, to do whatever it takes for my daughter to be happy, to believe in dreams.

Central Coast Sunshine

I had to think, “Am I inspired by ideas such as hope, faith, peace, or love?”  “Am I inspired by the ability to accumulate things, aka, money and tangibles?”  “Am I inspired by beauty as in a gorgeous sky, the flowing manes of horses, ocean landscapes, or the changing colors of the leaves?”

DSC01951

As I pondered this question of inspiration over the last few weeks I realized that while all of these make me smile (yes, even a little cha-ching in my pocket), none of them INSPIRE me.  Nope, I came to the conclusion that I am inspired by…

Joy.

My daily inspiration. XOXO

My daughter fighting through anxiety disorder at age 10 and making honor roll, my friends who selflessly help me muck 14 stalls in the dark so I can finish early and go home, my pastor who has endured illness and strife in her life yet persevered to help others, my mom who took care of my grandma for over 20 years with little appreciation shown, my sister who was determined to get a master’s degree despite potential obstacles, bloggers who expose their triumphs so I may empathize and learn, my boss who does what it takes to keep her employees satisfied and fulfilled,  fathers posting pics of their family vacations on Facebook with joy in their eyes, my dad saying, “You are a wonderful mother.”

PEOPLE.

Kasey on Hi C

 

 

 

 

 

When I think of all the people who have come into my life over the years as well as the ones who’ve always been there, I find it’s them, it’s their stories, it’s their support, their ideas, their shared experiences, their encouragement, and their love that inspires me.

Pretty darn well! (And, she knows how  much I love her, especially!)

Above all else.

People have inspired me to…

Learn piano, make the drum line, return to school after a teenage pregnancy, graduate with honors,  get a degree, believe in marriage, become a mom, survive divorce, buy a house, learn to ride horses, forgive, move forward, be an example to my daughter, seek God, accept change, pursue new goals, love with all of my heart and soul, not be afraid.

To name a few.

me n Jess

Friends inspire me by saying, “You’re such a cowgirl!”

 

I’m grateful for these inspirations, as without them, without all of these people, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn to share.  After all, life is short, Readers.   Seek inspiration, watch the evolution within yourself, oh, and give a chuckle along the way.

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XOXO,

SWM

Listen

I’m 40.  I need to say this (okay, write this) out loud (on the computer) because lately I’ve been eluding myself that I’m “that age”.  Not that I honestly think about it often or anything like that, but certainly, sometimes I do.  40. It seems like only yesterday I was 10 years old and had a plan….to be a “garden worker” (aka, gardener).  I didn’t want children, didn’t want to get married (I mean, after going through a nasty divorce with my folks, didn’t seem worth the try).  I just wanted to work outside in the yard with my pets.  Simple, huh?

Then came 6th grade, and I upped my ante to “teacher”.  I wanted to become a teacher because my 6th grade teacher roomed with Medusa.  She was scary, she was mean, and we shared the same last name, “Clark”, oh, and she dated my dad a few times.  Yuck.  No teacher should ever date her student’s dad, unless he’s not MY dad, and unless the teacher is super COOL.  Mine wasn’t, so in order to make the world a better place with less mean and devilish teachers I decided I’d become one myself.  Age 11, I had a plan.  Still no marriages, still no kids, just teach and live my life.

40.  Obviously, plans change.  And, change. And, change again.  Over and over and over.  I’m not a teacher; I’m an admin assistant for a vineyard management company, and I love my work.  I’m also not married, but I have been, more than once, and I’ve learned my lesson.   I have a daughter, and I can’t imagine my life without her, ever.  And, my life is anything but simple, pretty much like the rest of the world.

This past Friday I celebrated 15 years clean and sober.  No need to go into my history…you can enjoy early blog posts if you want to catch up a bit.  Please do!  But, 15 seems strange because it was at 15 my drinking truly became a problem, and not only did my life’s plan change, the options did, also.  I’m grateful I’m sober today.  I’m grateful my daughter has never seen me drunk.  I’m grateful I have a slight fear of ever taking a drink again…a healthy fear.  I’m grateful I enjoy life with a clear mind and a clean heart because for me, sober is the only way I can do that. So, now at 15 I begin anew and apart from who I was at my first 15.  Pretty darn awesome!

40.  One thing about celebrating sobriety birthdays is I tend to reflect.  More-so than my belly button birthday I think about what I was like before, the choices I made, the behavior I displayed, and the constant turmoil I felt every time things got out of hand.  A co-worker of mine offered me 2 bottles of wine last Friday because he had an abundance given to him this past Christmas. Ironic? Sure it was.  I reminded him that I don’t drink, and he said, “Really?”  Obviously this tells you that I can act just as ridiculous as the next girl at a party with or without being intoxicated, ha, ha. (Love it!)  Then he said, “Well, it’s over-rated anyways.”  Interesting.  I thought about his comment, and I shared his sentiment.   As the day went on I felt immense joy fill my heart. 15.

I’ve learned to listen a bit.  I’ve learned to listen to my gut, my heart, and my own mind, but I’ve also learned to listen to those who’ve gone before me.  Those whom I trust.  Those whose intentions are not self-seeking but rather knowledgeable and caring.  It was in my early days of sobriety I believe this transformation began.  Instead of doing everything my way no matter what (look where it got me) I had to rely on the suggestions of others to make it through one day at a time without drinking.  I held on for dear life.  I went breath by breath, moment by moment sometimes waiting through the nerves and the discomfort as if every hour was filled with 120 minutes instead of 60. And, I realized it pays to listen.  It pays even bigger to follow what is laid before me from the right folks with the right intentions-my mom, my closest friends, my boss.  I don’t always do it, of course, but when I do I find more times than not these wiserthanI people are right!

I got a call from my kiddo Thursday who was down south visiting Grandma and then going to her dad’s for the remainder of the weekend.  She’d been gone the entire week-only the second time we’ve done this, and for the same reason: lack of childcare during winter break.  She was upset and crying and said she missed me and wanted to come home.  Now, she did miss me, this is true, and I know she wanted to come home. But, truthfully, she was also upset because Grandma had put her foot down about a certain situation, and Maycee didn’t like it.  I texted her dad, “Maycee’s having a rough time.  Might need to get her early this weekend.”  Then, I told my boss about the call.  She said emphatically, “She’ll be fine.  You don’t need to rescue her!  You need to enjoy this last bit of Kasey time. Ride your horse tomorrow-alone.  Don’t go get her early. She can handle it, and her dad can handle it.”

I went home that night and thought it over.  I called Maycee and talked to her only to hear the sadness entirely gone from her voice.  “I don’t think I can get you early, Sweetie.  You have the birthday party to go to with your dad, and it’s at 5:00 on Saturday.”  “That’s okay, Mama (chewing in my ear as she had her dinner), I’ll be fine!  I’m better now.”  My boss said she’ll be fine…I trust my boss…she has been where I am.  Her dad texted me, “You can get her early on Sunday, otherwise, we’ll be fine this weekend.”  The confidence in his voice affirmed his words.  I listened. FINE, FINE, and FINE.  Well, okay, then!  Three “fines” makes an A-Okay in my book!

At 40 and 15 what’s the new plan??? To keep doing what I’ve been doing.  To keep working towards the simplicity desired in my childhood years.  To be open to change because it’s always waiting; it’s the only thing that is guaranteed.  And, to keep listening and following when I know it’s the right thing to do.  The results speak for themselves.

And ride!

Fancy says, “And, to ride! Don’t forget to ride, Mom!”

Life is short, Readers.  Listen carefully, be happy, and always, always give a chuckle!

XOXO-SWM

Inspired Minds Want to Know

The rules: 1-Display the Award logo on your blog. 2-Link back to the person who nominated you. 3-State 7 things about yourself. 4-Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link back to them. 5-Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award requirements.

Back in the day (a whole long 2 1/2 years ago), I decided to blog about my life as a single working mom.  My best friend’s hubby was blogging through WordPress about being a stay-at-home-dad.  I loved reading his stories. Then, I watched the movie Julie and Julia about which a woman decides she will blog her way through Julia Child’s entire cookbook one recipe at a time, one day at a time.  These two events led me down the blogging road to a place I now consider my blogging home: Single Working Mom (SWM). 

I didn’t really know what would happen.  I didn’t know if people would read my words.  I didn’t know if I’d be able to touch another’s heart with the shared knowledge that in trudging this path we aren’t alone.  I didn’t know anything except that in my head I had much to say, I had experiences to share, and writing seemed to release the pressure of doing it all on my own.

Since starting this blog I’ve grown immensely.  I’ve healed tremendously. And, I’ve done so by building relationships in this computer-based world with people from various walks of life who have broadened my horizons and helped me see the light.  I no longer wonder what will happen when I write.  I know that connections will be made, feelings will be validated, and my life will be enriched beyond my wildest imagination!

I’m so happy to have received the nomination for the “Very Inspiring Blogger Award”!  Thank you so much, Shandra Harris.  Getting this nomination made my day and put a neverending smile on my face because, well, to me,  inspiring each other is blogging at its finest.

So, here’s the rest of what I’m required to do as a recipient of this awesome award:

Seven Things About Me:

1. I have a motorcycle license, and I owned a classic 1979 Honda 650 (rootbeer brown) before Maycee was born.

2. I didn’t want to have children when I was younger. Then, at age 30, I freaked my ex-husband out and decided, “Holy, Crap, the clock is ticking! If I don’t have kids I’m so going to regret it.” 30 days later I  was pregnant, and now I can’t imagine life without my daughter.  EVER.

3. I’m a musician.  I’ve been playing the piano since age 7, drums since age 14, and streel drums since college along with guitar and bass.  I toured with a 22-piece steel drum band when I attended Humboldt State and loved it!

4. I have an art degree.  Yes…a totally useless art degree.  But, it’s okay, and I’m at peace with my past as well as with my inner artistic self.

5. I’ve decided that the reason I could never make marriage work (tried 3 times and gave up) is that I thought I needed a man, but what I really needed was a horse.  Now, I don’t fret, I just ride off into the sunset….pure bliss.

6. I didn’t believe in God until I got sober.  However, there was absolutely NO other logical answer to my recovery. 14 sober years and counting I’ll preach this truth!

7. I’m not really turning 40 this August…seriously.  And, I’m not in denial either. Promise.

My Inspiring Nominations (in alphabetical order):

1. …from the bungalow-Chris writes from his heart…always inspiring.

2.  A Slice of Mudpie-Great mix of fun stuff and the reality of single parenting.

3. Hot Rod Cowgirl-If you like pics of breathtaking scenery and animals and heartwarming stories….she’s the gal!

4. My New Favorite Day-Just the title is inspirational, and Shannon’s journey is, too.

5. QBG_Tilted Tiara-Valentine says what she means and means what she says and says things I want to say and mean, too. And her Flash in the Pans are awesome!

6. Running from Hell with ElTalented indie writer who poignantly tells stories that need to be shared and heard.

7. Shandra Harris With Heart Wide OpenI’m new to her blog, but she reminds me to stay vigilent to my faith as well as who’s in charge (not me).

8. She’s A Maineiac-I can’t make it through the week without a laugh from Darla-you won’t want to, either! Her top ten lists ROCK!

9. Surviving the Madhouse-I love the Sunday Funnies!

10. Taking the World on with a Smile-My NY blogging buddy inspires me weekly; I freak out if there isn’t a post in my in-box by Sunday.

11. Transitioning Mom-She’s graceful in style and yet deals with the impending empty nest syndrome by guiding us right along with her.

12. The Lucky Mom-Lisha’s last post is a must-read…and then when you’re finished, go back and check out everything else, too!

13. The Monster In Your Closet-I could not complete my list without including my longest subscribing reader, Deb, as well as a woman who’s inspired hundreds of bloggers with me top of the list.

Yes, I know I didn’t quite make it to 15, but these are the blogs I read regularly and the people who implore me to keep on keepin’ on.  I hope you visit each and every one of them!

Reader’s, thank you for your support. Thank you for being a part of my journey. Now if your U.S. bound I hope you enjoy our country’s birthday tomorrow.  I’ll be with my sweet girl riding horsies and then barbequeing up some pork ribs before fireworks!  Yummy!

Now, remember, life is short so be happy and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

This Memorial Day…Thank You for the Now

Wow.  Three whole days off in a row without too much housework, yard work, or otherwise work-related tasks to catch up on…  Lift it up!  My Memorial Day Weekend has been Memorial-worthy in its own right, but not without honoring the true meaning behind the barbecue and beach-ridden holiday: those who have served and continue to serve our country to protect our freedoms and our beloved U.S.A., the best country in the whole, wide world.  As Maycee and I headed off to stake our place in the warm Cali sand today with our cheese sandwiches and carrot sticks, we passed the local cemetery holding a service for those who have left us. American flags placed throughout the entire grassy area, uniformed soldiers standing at attention, and a few folks speckled in the white folding chairs arranged neatly in rows caught my eye and caused a lump to swell in my throat, tears to pool in my eyes.  I love this land of the free and home of the brave.

But, as the start of this post mentioned, I had new memories of my own to create as Friday arrived.  All week long before and after work I cleaned, trimmed, laundered, and took care of business in preparation for a special guest coming to dinner.  You ALL will be excited to hear that this special guest was my oldest brother, whom I met for the very first time back in October 2011!  Yes, for months we’d been planning a get-together, and it was finally here!  I was a bit nervous all over again but also incredibly excited as not only was I seeing M- for the second time, but he would be meeting Maycee, my boyfriend, and his kids, as well. I kept the meal plan simple with burgers and dogs, chips and baked beans, sweet green grapes, and homemade brownies covered in fresh Mesa strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. 

As soon as M- arrived my nerves turned to uncontainable joy.  I gathered Maycee, and we ran outside to greet him [and his girlfriend] with open arms.  Oh, the warmth and relief I felt as we embraced and as I introduced Maycee to him and watched them hug. To hear M- call me “sis'”, it still feels surreal. Yet, as we went inside and got re-acquainted along with introducing him to my boyfriend and his children, as we proceeded to talk-a-plenty, there was no denying the familiarity born and bred between us that no amount of distance, secrets, or decades of unknowing could deny.

We had a wonderful dinner filled with laughter and stories.  So much to learn, so much take in that the hours flew by, and I secretly wished the clock would stop ticking.

Saturday we also had a chance to meet for lunch before they headed up the coast to continue with their vacation.  Maycee chose our favorite spot, Fat Cats, for the best clam chowder (in a bread bowl for me). My brother, who used to live in this area (coincidence?) couldn’t wait to order the mouth-watering fish tacos that he so misses where he lives now.  With only an hour left of our visit we continued to try and chip away at the missing pieces.  I saw pictures of his daughters and learned more about them, he asked me how my bf and I met, about my college years, how long I’d been sober, to name a few subjects.  He asked, “Why?  Why didn’t Dad want us to know each other?  So many years lost…” All I could answer was, “I don’t know.”  I figure we never will know. 

With Maycee sitting next to me, I kept shifting my eyes to see if she was paying much attention to the conversation. I saw her working on her clam chowder, content with focusing on each creamy spoonful, picking out pieces of pink clams and eating them separately as she fished for them.  In the morning I had lots of time to do her hair in two braids with different colored hairbands and butterfly clips.  She looked adorable, and the look on her face as she ate matched that perfectly.  Through her expressions I was able to ground myself and share with M-, “What matters is now.  Thank goodness we have now, and I hope our next visit is much, much longer.”  He agreed. “We definitely need more than a couple of days.”  We finished up our lunch and had to say our good-byes, and then my brother grabbed my hand.  I felt him hold on a little longer…he then turned his head, and I could see the tears in his eyes…too.

Maycee and I enjoyed the remainder of Saturday partaking in the local Strawberry Festival.  Sunday we went to church in the morning for the regular worship service and also in the evening for the end-of-the-month Night of Praise that I lead.  And, then today we got up early and hit the donut shop before getting ready for the beach. I love this land of the free and home of the brave, the people who protect and serve us so that we can enjoy all that we have…what we have…the time we have…now.  And, I can’t wait to see my big brother again. 

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Memorial Day weekend, 2012.

My Favorite Day

MOM’S TO-DO LIST:

Wake up, feed the dogs, make coffee, make Maycee’s lunch, do the dishes, wake Maycee up, get showered and dressed, make pancakes for Fun Friday breakfast, off to school and work at 8:30Am.  ***Leave work, run car through car wash, pick Maycee up from school, run home to change for swimming lessons and get a snack, swimming lessons, back home, start oven for dinner, run outside to vacuum out car, back inside to put dinner in oven, back outside to pull weeds, back inside to eat dinner with kiddo, back outside to trim grass and cut down crazy growing grapevines, finish up around 8:00Pm.  Maycee to the bath, Maycee pick up the floor in your room, DVD in the TV before bedtime, change out laundry to the dryer (oh, yeah, that went in before dinner), bathe the dogs, pack bag for tomorrow, Maycee to bed at 9:30Pm, BLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOG.

YES, WE DESERVE A DAY OF HONOR….DON’T WE?

You know it’s coming….Mother’s Day!  For me, this is my most favorite day of the entire year.  It ranks above my birthday, beyond Christmas, and in front of Easter.  I can remember my first Mother’s Day like it was yesterday (well, sort of), going to church and getting the Mother’s Day carnation, breakfast at Cafe 126 with Maycee in her carrier sitting in the booth.  I remember the excitement over getting my first Mother’s Day cards…the joy swelling inside of me because I had this beautiful bundle, my little girl.

Mom, Maycee, and Me…two months before my FIRST Mother’s Day

Nothing pleased me more at that time in my life that bearing the title of “Mom”.

As each year has come and gone, this day still remains my favorite.  The cards have dwindled as we’ve (Maycee and me) gotten older and the “new baby” pink clouds have parted.  But, regardless, I love it, I get excited as it draws near, and I give thanks for the biggest gift that God has blessed me with: Maycee.

I’ve begun celebrating early, as  Maycee asked me to take her to K-Mart to shop for my Mother’s Day gift using her very own money on Tuesday.  “I want to go to the craft section and pick out something to make you, ” she told me.  So, off we went, and I left her alone in the artsy aisle to find the “perfect gift”.  Oh….it was hard.  I’ve never done such a thing without at least having sight of her out of the corner of my eye.  As I returned with the couple of items I needed, her little shopping bag was loaded, and she was ready to hit the check-out line.  Again, I let her tackle the task alone, only keeping within talking distance, my back turned away from the checker as he scanned each item.  I told her no more than $10 could be spent…she went up to $20 (with one thing she bought for herself), but I let it be as I knew this was a big deal for my precocious, growing, 8-year-old.  On the drive home, it was all I could do to fight back the tears, realizing the years that are passing us by, and the milestones yet to achieve.

The past two days she’s worked after school on my presents, her room “off-limits” and the craft table in the patio room, as well.  With minimal assistance, she put everything together including the final wrapping job, which was completed last night.  This morning, beginning with our “Fun Friday” pancake breakfast I’ve recently insisted we eat (to ban the SWM’s quickie cold cereal for a day), Mother’s Day 2012 kicked off.

SWM’s tire of cold cereal? Make it a Fun Friday with pancakes!

Mommy, are you ready to open your presents yet?

 

Yes, I did good!

I painted him all by myself, and even planted the seeds that will grow soon!

 

Just how well does Maycee know her mama?

 

Pretty darn well! (And, she knows how much I love her, especially!)

Yes, Readers, this is me, and I’m wearing a beanie on my head. Love it!

Prior to this I received a card from my mom with grocery money for the Dollar Tree…YAY!  I also received a sweet card from Maycee’s dad, thanking me for all I do for our little girl along with a Starbucks gift card…what a treat!  Tomorrow we’ll head south, pick up my totally terrific bf, and make our way to Mom’s for her annual Mother’s Day Meatloaf and Bingo, with “really good prizes” this year…she tells me.  The thing is, I’ve already won, any way you cut it. I’VE ALREADY WON!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my mommy followers and to mothers everywhere who strive their hardest to be the best moms ever.  It’s a full-time job in and of itself, it’s deserving of recognition and praise, and this I give to each of you!  Now, off to bed I go, as I can’t WAIT to give my own mom a big hug and watch her open her cards and presents…I hope I can wait until Sunday…

Remember: life is short, share love with the moms you know this weekend, and take time to remember all that they have done whether they are with us now or have already passed to a better place.  Oh, and while you’re remembering (because there will be funny stories involved, I’m sure)…give a chuckle and know that I’m smiling at you with adoration.

CELEBRATE!

Stained Glass

It's beautiful.

We were discussing how I felt about the worship team I was leading, years ago, at my old church in Southern Cali.  My pastor at the time said this, “Kasey, this is why you wouldn’t make a very good boss.” I asked, “What?  Why?  What do you mean?”  He clarified, “Well, all you want to see is the good in everyone, and that is a great trait to have, but…”  He was referring to a member of the band that wasn’t quite holding his own-in fact, many times, he’d leave the worship team in a lurch on Sunday morning with last minute “can’t make-its”.  It was tough, and I knew it was tough, but I chose to accept the situation because I felt in the long run it was worth showing this boy love rather than telling him he couldn’t play anymore.  Not to mention, for the many times he bailed on us he also bailed us out.  “…but, sometimes you have to see the writing on the wall.”

I’ve often thought about that pastor’s comments to me…Did I look at things with rose-colored glasses?  Did I choose to look beyond what was in front of my face, the tip of my nose, into a blue sky with no clouds? How many choices in my life did I make because I thought the other person would change, or the situation would improve, or the weatherman’s prediction was wrong?  And, how many of those decisions, albeit many leading to sorrow, ended up okay or downright awesome?  Hmmmm, well, I’m not going to analyze my MaryTylerMooreness to death.  I’m just not.  I’ve lived in Pessimism, Sarcasm, and Apathy before, and those towns stink.  Therefore, I prefer living in Hope where each day begins anew.

Two weekends ago the church I attended when I moved to the Central Coast held its final service–a beautiful sanctuary fifty years of age with a church history dating back 136 years.  Stained glass windows blanket the entire face of the building telling the story of the beginning of time to Jesus’ death-each scene intricately designed and placed so that a passer-by doesn’t need a Bible to receive the message.  The message I cling to even though life often makes no sense.

The reasons for the closure at this point are immaterial.  What’s done is done.  I had already begun my journey to find a new spiritual home months ago when Maycee changed schools.  As I arrived at the church to play what would be my final worship set in this location, 150-200 visitors filling the sanctuary to say good-bye, share old stories, and put in bids to attend “their” places of worship, my drummer asked, “Did you see the windows?”  I replied, “No.  What about them, where?”  “Ah, man, someone vandalized the church and broke out a bunch of the stained glass.”

I quickly walked to the front of the narthex and saw the damage.  How did I miss it when I walked in?  How?  Was I wearing my rose-colored glasses this day?  There it was, in plain sight.  Damage.  Broken pieces of blue, green, red, and yellow speckled on the floor.  The wrought iron bars in between bent, and one whole pane in the front door knocked out (this is visible in the picture above on the right).  The church’s last day. Who would do this?  The vandals apparently weren’t finished as more wreckage was found later the following week after the church was officially closed.  Again, my drummer called to see if there was anything I wanted out of the sanctuary-they were removing as much as possible in case whoever was doing this decided they also wanted to steal the church’s property.  T- eluded that he thought a member of the church might be responsible.  I cried out, “No! There’s no way someone from OUR congregation would do something like this.  Who?  There’s NO WAY.”

Of course, there is A WAY.   Despite what my pastor said to me all those years ago, I do see clearly, eventually.   Luckily, it’s not up to me to determine the “who” or the “why”.  I know, however, that it takes a lot more than broken stained glass to break a believer’s spirit.  What remains is still beautiful.  And, even in the wake of something that has made my heart feel so heavy and sad, I also see Hope–all the way through my rose-colored glasses beyond the tip of my nose to the blue sky.

-Photo courtesy of Santamariatimes.com.

Sparkling Streets

You might have an inkling that I’m going to write about the beauty of the Christmas lights lining the streets around our city…or perhaps you think I’m going to write about the street cleaner doing one heck-of-a-job lately…or maybe the ice glistening on the roads early in the morning.  But, no…these are streets of a different variety…the kind that map the inside of a person’s soul…the kind that only the person herself or himself can clean or decorate.

Last week, on Monday night, my dear ol’ dad was visiting us for a little early Christmas exchange.  We had gone out to dinner at a great local steakhouse, only about five miles into town from the Yellow Submarine.  We enjoyed a hearty meal of tri-tip, shrimp, and the ohsocan’tdowithout chicken fingers, and with bellies full, it was time to head home for some presents to be unwrapped and perhaps a cup of warm tea.

There are only two ways to easily get back up the hill to where we live.  Both are a bit scary and require diligent driving and a keen sense of awareness.  This night, this trip, my dear ol’ dad driving his black Ford Freestyle, we slowly curved in and out and around only to be confronted head-on by a semi-truck-passing the blindest curve of all, driving into our lane.  My dad stayed steady, swerved to the right near the guard rail, but stated, “Where do I go?” As he honked the horn alerting the other driver to what seemed to be a no-way-out situation, the road opened up, and the semi-truck veered left, back into his lane, and continued winding down the hill as we realized we were still alive.  Maycee shouted, “He almost hit our license plate!  We almost died!” She was right, and my dad and I were speechless.

Once safe at home, only a few more comments were made, but not by my father, and just some “uh-huh’s” by me, as I tried to keep Maycee focused on the fun about to occur with opening Grandpa’s gifts.  Easily swayed, into the living room we ventured and had a terrific time watching our little girl unwrap the prized American Girl doll bed she’d wanted for over a year.  Whew…I’m so grateful we had that distraction.

However, as the sun came up next morning, and Dad departed on his way, the event of the night before seated heavily on my heart.  How did we avoid that truck?  How did the road seem to widen like that and we survived?  How many lives do we really have?  The answers differ for every situation, for every person…How does this relate with sparkling streets you ask?

There is a motto in twelve-step recovery, at least back where I got sober, and the motto is this: Keep your own side of the street clean.  I have this listed on my Facebook profile, and I try to live by it, sometimes to the point of obsession.  But here’s the deal, street cleaning is constant.  Streets never stay clean for very long.  They require upkeep, sweeping, cleaning the gutters, and re-paving when they get really bad.  I can’t clean another person’s street for them-at least not without wearing myself out-before the brush and muck build up again and again…I must focus on my side, with or without twinkling lights shining bright.

I have sent out most of my Christmas cards.  One remains in the box, and it awaits a little letter, a simple apology, that on my account is necessary from me to another person.  The other night my family almost left Mother Earth.  I wasn’t ready to go, and what I know is that when my time comes, I want to have sparkling streets surrounding Kasey Lane.  Street cleaning isn’t about who’s right, who’s wrong, who did what to whom, or getting anything back.  It’s about simply doing it because I should, because there is no healthy benefit to letting the dirt sit.  I can safely say that by living this way, re-paving is a rarity.  So, tomorrow, I’m going to send my Christmas apology letter to the deserving person.  That’s it.  No more waiting. 

There are signs all around us shouting: YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOUR TIME IS UP!  YOU NEVER KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not every sign is as blatant or frightening as the one I received last Monday, but they are there.  I’ve never done well holding grudges or harboring anger, so maybe street cleaning hasn’t been so difficult to come by.  And, every once in while I swish around in some justifiable resentment that ultimately stares me in the face and says, “Really? Do you want to keep me around?”  The answer: NO…I want clean streets for all to enjoy, and most certainly during Santa’s season, I want the bling bling to stand out.

So, Readers, it’s going to be a new day soon (for some of us sooner than others).  Today, if there’s some debris piling up in your street gutter, well, just get out that push broom and get rid of it!  Life is short.  Be happy, and take time to give a chuckle.

Brothers…and Me (Part Two)-I Couldn’t Have Asked for More

October 7th, 2011.  I was crying off and on before I ever touched ground in San Francisco.  It was hard to believe after months of anticipation I had left Maycee in Santa Barbara with her dad so I could board a little plane bound for reunion.  Literally, there is no way to describe the emotions.  They just flowed like running water, like waves in the ocean, coming and going, one to the next, in and out, no visible seam.  When the plane landed I became more and more nervous.  Walking through the terminal, looking at all of the would’vebeenreallyneat displays of vintage televisions and I Love Lucy photographs, calling Dad on my cell phone to let him know I was there, my hands became sweaty and my heartbeat tiny and fast.  Down the escalator, out through the doors, onto the sidewalk, horns honking, cars swerving, I waited.  I missed Maycee.  I wished she was by my side so I’d be distracted with her excitement, the oooooh’s and ahhhhh’s only a child can express amidst total chaos.   

In a matter of minutes (that seemed to be hours) a dark green Lexus appeared with three men, looking at me through the windows.  There they were: Dad…and…my…brothers.  As Dad got out of the car to help me with my bag (only one backpack–master packer I am), I hugged him.  He opened the backseat door.  Time was up, oldest brother was in the back with me, second oldest driving the car, introductions…a weekend that would change my life forever began, and it was wonderful.

Older brother, Dad, me, Oldest brother

We came to play!

Smiling faces even with CU being left in the dust

I love you, Dad, and I couldn't have asked for more.

 

You never know what life will bring. Sometimes...it's brothers.

 I experienced the true chemistry of family relating with two men I didn’t know but found I knew just as well.  I was lucky enough to grasp little snipits of time with each one individually, saying only a few words about the past, and then move on, all of us eager to build on this beginning.  I found that I was grateful I was at this age, not younger and lesser wise, because the reasons and details of whowhatwherewhenwhy didn’t matter to me.  Why should they?  Can anything change the past?  No.  No.  No.  So, being settled, being one with myself, believing that letting go of hurts is the only way to trudge ahead, not judging anyone lest I might as well be judged, stories were shared, common threads revealed, and laughter abounded through every hour spent together.

Ultimately, my dear ol’ dad choked up…I felt his heaviness lift and hopefully fly away, years of holding us back suddenly gone.  Children from two completely different books in his life bonding like siblings should. Before saying goodbye we vowed to keep in touch and to let each other know when we were going to be able to see each other again.  More chances to learn, more chances to grow, and more chances to enjoy being brothers and sister.  It was an amazing weekend that left me soaking up the beauty and revelry of life.

I have many beliefs and much, much more to learn, but this, this I must pay forward:

Do not let the past determine your present.

Do not let the past determine your present.

Do not let the past determine your present.

Because if you do, imagine all of the presents you will indeed never receive.

Readers, I’m so grateful for you whether you read via a WordPress subscription, Facebook friendship, or just log in to see what’s happening with this SWM.  To be able to share my experience, strength, and hope no matter how trivial or how monumental is a blessing.  So, with that, please, be happy and give a chuckle because life…is…short.

Brothers…and Me

In two weeks I will be meeting a couple of men whom I’ve never met before. Brothers.  My brothers.  It feels strange to even utter the words, really.  “Brothers.”  Growing up there was my sister, J., and often I related to life as an only child, J. being eleven years my senior.  At age 16, after enduring a teenage pregnancy through which I chose to have the baby and adopt out, my dad had a pang of conscience larger than he could bare-at least this is what I imagine.  Watching my heart break, although we never discussed it, I suppose he felt it was time to reveal to me that he, too, hadn’t always followed the path of the straight and straighter still (not that I didn’t know of some stories already).  And, one Saturday morning, when I awoke during a visit at his house, snuggled in my bathrobe, he came to my room, sat on my bed next to me, and told me he had something to say. I have brothers.  Three of them.  Strangers to me in every sense of the word. 

He didn’t tell me their names. He didn’t tell me much of anything.  Knowing that my dad didn’t care to dwell on subjects of an emotional nature, me already processing major internal grief from my present circumstances at such a young age, well, I wasn’t up for more than I was given then.  I cried.  Of course I had questions: why did he leave them?  What about their mom?  Why didn’t he keep in touch?  Why did he stick around to raise me?  Why me?  WHY?  WHY? WHY?  I’ve thought about these siblings here and there, but secrets create a fearful dynamic.  What does one do with hidden knowledge?  Who will it affect, and how,  if I choose to act on it?  I’ve pondered these questions as they pertain to my past and knowing at some point I will have a similar discussion with my own daughter.  Irony at its best.  I decided to let Time steer the course: living through any sort of pain, be it physical, emotional, or mental, one knows that It is indeed the Great Healer, as well as the Great Revealer, God-given, and meant to be utilitilized when no clear path exists.

Here I am…22 years later…and my brothers want to meet me.  They apparently reached out to my dad and started making a trip to see him for one pro-football game, a different team, each year.  They come from various parts of the country: Colorado, Georgia, and Texas to make this happen.  I don’t even know how long this has been going on and only found out by mere happenstance a few years ago when my dad’s secretary told me he was flying to Texas to go to a football game with “his sons”.  Hmmmm.  Really?   My brothers want to meet me.  This year, I’m invited, and it just happened to work out that the game they chose is right here in good ol’ Cali, and Maycee will be visiting her dad on the given weekend.  I felt this was best, that I meet them alone to stick my toes in the water.  My brothers…and me.   The day is drawing closer, and with two decades of wondering and waiting behind me, I’m ready. 

Earlier I read a comment to my last post, “Sunday Afternoon Mish-Mosh and More Metaphors”, from a blogger who said, “You live a very eventful life!”  I chuckled to myself, partly because these days I think my life is fairly tame, and partly because my precious mom has lost wind listenining to me re-count portions of my history, or even a weekend’s worth of activities upon occasion.    I responded to the comment by saying that “Life is short.”  I don’t know what it is about me that takes things head on. I don’t know what compels me to face that fearful dynamic, to follow my heart (even when it leads to broken pieces and swollen eyes), to be willing to open up another hallway door and see where it leads (sometimes dead center, other times left field).  I don’t know…but it comes from deep within, a feeling of not wanting to miss…anything.

So, this will be yet another event. 

Breaking news on October 7th, at 11. 

I promise, I’ll keep you “posted”.

(Pun intended.)

And, Readers, if you’ve experienced anything remotely such as this, please, do tell…and in the meanwhile, be happy and laugh heartily because I do believe: Life is short.