Another Christmas Past

This year Christmas was different. Different than it has been for nearly 20 years. I was not invited to my ex-husband’s parents’ home to celebrate the day. In fact, there was no discussion. Simply a text that asked if taking the boys at noon and returning them later that evening would be an acceptable plan. And that was how I came to find out I was not welcome. Texts from my mother-in-law voicing I was in their thoughts didn’t quite make me feel any better. As they did not express any consideration either. I will say my parents have and continue to let my ex-husband know he is always welcome to a family gathering even if to just stop by and say hi to family members he no longer sees. But…he never does.

I thought I was okay. I had time to mentally prepare myself for the day. And truthfully I was with my boys, the most important part of the day, all morning. But when my house fell silent and the emptiness started to invade me, I made a last minute decision to go to my brothers. He and his in-laws had already expressed a desire for me to join them. In fact they somewhat pleaded this case. And with all their sweet intentions and definitely heartfelt words, there was a feeling of pity splattered on top that never sits well with me. The last thing I want is pity. I overlooked this and headed north just the same.

I was greeted by my sweet nieces taking me by the hand and excitedly showing me all that Santa left that morning. Their hugs were medicinal. My brother and his wife have a simple way of exuding love. It lacks any unnecessary negativity, stress, and certainly is never pretentious. As a result, my mood was stable and I felt fairly balanced…until I returned home.

I couldn’t deny the excitement of my boys, particularly T. He was floating on air, bouncing, happy. And I did all that I could do to try and smile. When my ex-husband asked what I did, as I knew he would, I reluctantly told him. In his mind I had a good day, I did something and was with family. “That’s great!” Oh, how I wanted to scream and cry and curse right then. It wasn’t until I lay in my bed all tucked in under my covers later that night that I cried. A release in many ways I was not expecting. I woke to swollen eyes that caught co-workers attention. I felt so vulnerable and exposed.

So yes, another Christmas passed by..this one less extravagant than ones prior. I have no amazing stories of the day. I have no report of any epiphanies realized. I only have a shift. Another shift. Hesitantly looking forward to the new year, I remain bruised.

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Giving

Here we are on Thanksgiving Eve. Please tell me how a year went by so very fast! Last year my post was a reflection on 10 things for which I am thankful. One year later, it all remains true..and then some. But Thanksgiving is not only about being thankful but also about giving РThanks  Giving.

So this year I’d like to focus on what I can give. Like last year, I’ll break it down to a top 10. I can give:

  1. A smile – to everyone. As I reminded T just this week, the smile you give may be the only one someone sees for the day. A smile can be the simplest sign of hope.
  2. My undivided attention – to my boys..without distractions, no phone, no computer, no cleaning. Just focus on what they are telling me.
  3. My time – whether it be volunteering at my boys’ schools, meeting with a friend who needs support, or sitting with patients who need that extra minute.
  4. My expertise – to help change children’s lives for the better. One at a time.
  5. My best – to my family, my friends, my co-workers. Just give my all to all I do.
  6. My love – I’ve learned it’s one thing to say the words “I love you” but quite another to show and give love.
  7. My compassion – whether it’s a simple gesture of kindness or offering a hand to hold.
  8. My respect – for those who keep us safe, for those who everyday put one foot in front of the other despite the obstacles, for those consistently standing up for what they believe to be true.
  9. My positive thoughts – thoughts become and blossom into actions. I will feed my positive wishes so they grow for you.
  10. My heart..someday. It’s pretty well protected today. But someday, soon I hope, I will give all my heart to someone who can hold it as if it were their most precious treasure.

I truly live in abundance. I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What Next?

A few weeks ago I wrote about my amazing experience running and completing the Marine Corps Marathon. Since then I have been medically advised to take a step back from running as well as any truly vigorous exercise. To heal. Though the recommendation is medical based and relevant to my GI tract, I believe it’s also about me healing emotionally. Time seems to have sped up in a way that the days get ahead of me. I literally lose words. I am exhausted. While I try to process the marathon or rather hold tight to the liberating emotions of that day, I find myself struggling to keep up.

And I am trying to figure out what next. Yet, slowly opening myself to allow “what next” to find me. Somehow that seems more romantic.

Long walks and heated yoga classes, good books, new recipes, and pauses to look out the window are all part of my current prescription. Oh, and keeping warm under a cozy quilt.

When the moments seem to be on fast forward, what do you do to find the calm amongst it all?

It Changed Me

26.2 miles. Sunshine. Music. Runners. Posters. American Flags. Helicopters. Marines. Family. Strangers. Cheers. Clapping. So much inspiration.

It. Changed. Me.

For the first time in my life, I was PRESENT for it all. Immersed in all of the experience. The energy melted into my being. Like being transported to another place, another capacity of time, I was completely in it. And it felt amazing. My legs held me strong, propelling me forward. My lungs happily exchanging air. My breath so rhythmic, it was calming. “I’m doing it,” I smiled, high-fiving my brother at mile 18.

This was beyond a runner’s high. This was a transformation.

The disabled war veterans competing, the hundreds of marines lining the fuel stations, the race course and greeting all at the finish line with a medal was humbling and inspirational. Gratitude doesn’t quite capture what I feel for all servicemen and servicewomen.

This race was a test for me. A test of my mental capacity and ability to push through. I needed to do this. I needed to get to the other side. And the relative ease in which I accomplished this feat, was exhilarating. More than a race, it was a marker for me of where I am beyond any physical measure.

Running and completing a marathon requires dedication, commitment, perseverance, flexibility, desire. Running in the Marine Corps Marathon requires all of it…but then humbles you in a way that is uplifting and motivational.

Well, I think I just might be a runner!

Do You Regret..the Divorce?

I have asked my close friend this very question on more than one occasion. Do you regret the divorce? Her answer – yes. She would have stayed married if she had known how things would have turned out when she got a divorce. Her ex-husband was extremely hurt by the divorce. The hurt morphed into anger and the anger has been fueled by his current girlfriend. Who is suffering? The three innocent children caught in between. So had she had known, she would have stayed to avoid the hurt caused to her children on a consistent basis. But no one can predict the future. Even a well thought out divorce can stray from the initial intentions. Nothing is ever easy.

Asking her this question, made me think about myself. Do I regret the divorce? I don’t. I am sad. And there are still moments of grief for what was lost. Sometimes the sadness can even present as regret. But as the days unfolded during our separation and ultimate divorce, the reasons why it was for the best slowly rose to the surface. Initially, I felt guilty, feeling unfulfilled in a way which made me feel awful. What I didn’t understand then was why. Why did I feel this way? I was very much on the surface then, not digging or discovering how I got to that point. Yet, there was so much.

So no, I don’t regret the divorce.

13 Years Ago

It was just a short 13 years ago I was washing the kitchen floor, my belly uncomfortably big as it stretched to hold you, keeping you safe and warm and nestled. The phone rang. It was the doctor. “How do you feel about having the baby tomorrow morning?” You were a scheduled C-Section planned for October 10th. It would only be two days sooner, but it instantly became an overwhelming thought “No, I am not ready.” Having two days to finish cleaning, preparing mentally and physically seemed like a necessity. But, in the end the pros outweighed the cons. A few phone calls later, making plans for someone to watch your big brother, and the decision was made. I would be the first scheduled C-Section of the day. October 8, 2004.

I will admit when I learned I was pregnant for a second time, I was not overjoyed. I was scared. I felt guilty. Feeling as though I did not perfect being a mom to your big brother, I wondered how I could become a mom to two. I remember even apologizing to your big brother – he had no clue why – but in a weird, distorted way I felt like I was betraying him. I didn’t want to fail this mom gig.

You were here. And suddenly, I was a mom to two boys. You screamed as they quite literally opened up your world. I can imagine the bright lights of the operating room pierced your snug home. A beautiful, perfect baby boy. And how you looked so much like your dad. You had so many visitors, so many people who could not wait to hold you. A big brother who wore a baseball cap that proudly stated such looked at you admiringly. We brought you home a day early, ready to begin yet another chapter. I recovered much quicker and certainly much easier than with your brother. There were still challenging days and difficult moments, but it all fell into place.

You have been a miracle. A soul that is so full of love and kindness. A remarkable human being. I once thought how could my heart possibly have room for the love of another child. And yet, my heart does not remember how it felt without you in it. You and your brother together filled up my heart to completeness. You were given to me despite me not feeling ready or worthy. Someone or something obviously knew better than I. Thank you for being my son. Thank you for letting me be your mom. My world is so much brighter because of you. I love you my sweetest.

Some days

Some days I just want to cry

and some days, I just do

Some days I roll all the windows down in the car and sing loudly to the music playing on the radio

and some days, I hide behind my sunglasses and retreat into my head

Some days I run with strength and energy and confidence

and some days, I feel like my legs are made of stone

Some days I feel so clear, so ready for the future

and some days, I am so scared and confused

Some days I look out the window and smile

and some days, I wipe the tears feeling overwhelmed

Some days I feel so accomplished at work

and some days, I feel like my brain is useless

Some days I hold my breath waiting for something good

and some days, I hold my breath fearing something bad

Some days I can’t help but feel happy

and some days, I am filled with anger

Some days I long for what was

and some days, I long for what will be

Some days, I am reminded of all that is positive

and some days, I am faced with only negative

It will all balance, it will all be right, it will all be okay

Someday