family roads

My husband took this photo when were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Louisville this past October. They live in the quintessential Kentucky home, a lovely updated farmhouse on several rolling acres at the end of a long, winding driveway. When we got to their house that afternoon, their son Evan greeted us at the door. Evan has autism. He has worked really hard, undergoing intense therapy and schooling for fifteen years now and I know the journey hasn’t been easy for the entire family. But I also know that despite the ups and downs of his challenges, the young man that opened the door that afternoon has one of the purest, gentlest souls in our family.

See other (nearly) Wordless Wednesday entrants here!

love rules

I usually have two books going at once, one fiction and one non-fiction. Yesterday, I was scanning my bookshelf in the family room looking for something motivational/comforting/self-helpish and I spotted What Happy People Know by Dan Baker, Ph.D. I read it a few years ago, but apparently I’ve forgotten “what happy people know” because I’ve been feeling pretty blue lately. After rereading it I decided to play along with the Teaser Tuesdays Blog meme at MizB’s Should Be Reading blog. I randomly opened the book to page 94 and picked out this quote to share. “From that day on, I realized that there was something happy people know that unhappy people don’t: No matter what happens in life, there’s always something left to love, and the love that remains is always stronger than anything that goes against it.”

I like that, the idea that love rules, that the capacity of our hearts to appreciate and love unconditionally can overcome the craziness in our minds. Craziness that is almost always motivated by fear. Fear that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t loveable, fear of loss, fear that things won’t get better, fear that we are helpless to “fix” the broken pieces of our life. I think we all have to dig deep sometimes to find the courage to quiet that fear-based voice with a conscious prayer that begins and ends in gratefulness and love. My take away after reading Dr. Baker’s book again is simply this: Life is a dance and we all might be a little happier if we remember to lead with love, not fear.

angel stripes

This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “stripes”. I pulled this simple angel sketch from my journal because I thought her hair and wings fit the topic. I haven’t been feeling so great this week, it always scares me a little when I don’t feel well. I worry that I’ll begin sliding down that slippery slope back into full blown Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I hate that name, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, most people in the CFS community do since fatigue is only a small part of the illness. The CFIDS Association of America has been around since 1987, advocating and educating doctors, patients, and the public about the disability and suffering caused by CFS. In a way, they’ve been an angel to people with the illness, especially years ago when I first got sick and no one knew anything about it. I feel a bit better today, so hopefully this past week was just a little bump in the road. It is nice to know though, that we have angels like the dedicated people at the The CFIDS Association looking out for us, and maybe, just maybe we have angels like the one in my drawing standing beside us, whispering hope and touching us with grace when we need it most.

“If you can’t hear the angels, try quieting the static of worry.”  ~Terri Guillemets

my book

For a long time after my mom passed away, I lost my voice and my creative juices. It wasn’t just the losing her, although I had never experienced the death of someone so close to me before, but it was also the many months that led up to that day. It was her long illness and the heartbreak and helplessness of watching her disappear before my eyes as she slowly lost her breath to COPD, and finally her life. There were other losses during that time, many other reluctant goodbyes, and it all simply emptied me out. So I set my writing life aside and tried to figure out how to process the layers of grief and regret, how to regain my emotional footing after a yearlong free-fall. Eight months ago, words started to bubble up in my head, little teases and glimpses of ideas and improvements for the book I was working on before my mom got sick. At first I ignored them. I just wasn’t interested. But eventually, I couldn’t ignore them anymore and I reread the book and began to work on it again.

And now it’s finished, and although I thought it would be published early in September, it somehow happened that September 30th was the day it was finally ready to go, which I think is pretty cool. Because it was three years ago on 9/30/08 that my mom died and it suddenly felt like I had been given the opportunity to take that date back and fill it with something joyful to honor my mom and my own creative spirit. By the end of the day on the 30th however, it didn’t look like I’d get the okay from CreateSpace in time to publish and I was pretty depressed as I got ready for bed that night. Just before midnight, I went downstairs to check my e-mail one last time and the notification was there! It felt like my own moment of ordinary magic as I sat in the dark in front of a glowing computer screen and hit the “publish” button just minutes before September 30th ended.

A blogging friend wrote this recently in a comment,  “I still miss my Mom, and she died a long, long time ago. Luckily, her spirit still inspires me.” Now, every year when September 30th rolls around, I will still think of my mom. I’ll think how lucky am I to have had her in my life for as long as I did, to have grown up in a house full of books and love, to have so many wonderful memories of my mom to inspire me as I go forward. How lucky am I? Damn lucky indeed.

If you think you’d like to take a chance on a newly minted author and read my book, the paperback is available now on Amazon and it will be coming soon to Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Nook, and iBooks:)

birthday boy

Today is my son’s birthday. He’s a dad now, with two little ones of his own, and yes, I watch my baby hold his babies and I wonder how we got from there to here so quickly. Of course, I was warned. By my mother and grandmother and aging aunties; I was told to gather the tender moments from the childhoods of my two children and hold them close because they would fly by. And I tried, I really did. But there was housework to do and bills to pay, a marriage to maintain and health problems to overcome, and before I knew it I was sitting in a hospital waiting room looking forward to holding my new granddaughter in my empty arms. The greatest joy of being a grandparent is that you get one more chance to honor the precious days of childhood as you watch your grandchildren grow up, and as an added bonus, you do it armed with a good night’s sleep and a little more wisdom. I think of my mother on days like today, dancing with Andy at his wedding 6 years ago, her head on the shoulder of her first grandchild and I know exactly what she was thinking…how did we get from there to here so quickly?

friday fill-ins

1. We need to let go of the past and live in the moment.
2. My new granddaughter laughed and it made me smile.
3. If you want “others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” ~ Dalai Lama
4. I bite the candy coating off Tootsie Pops because I have no patience and want to get to the chocolate middle.
5. Massachusetts has a proposed 5% sales tax on elective cosmetic surgery; I think we should all have to pay the price for beauty.
6. Family coming together makes for a happy holiday.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to dinner with the bitches (a.k.a. the PTO ladies) , tomorrow my plans include Costco for shopping, new glasses, and contacts and Sunday, I want to relax and get ready for out of town company to arrive for Thanksgiving!

Click on the pic to see more Friday Fill-ins! FridayFillIn-Graphic2