Countdown

My head spins with emotion. D must make his college decision by this Monday. We had a rich conversation the other night. And oh how this filled me. In ways I tiptoed around the words, the engagement, for fear it would end sooner than I wished.

Bright and stronger than he realizes, D is on the verge of his next life journey. He has no time for me, or rather desires no time with me. This hurts me to my core. I know logically this is healthy. His friends are his world. And he is consciously trying to separate and prepare himself for this incredible change that is waiting to unfold. But it still hurts.

My first born son who I sang to every night and rubbed his head is grown. He now awkwardly gives me a hug as though it’s foreign to him. When all I want to do is squeeze him so tightly. Even now as I right this, I can’t help but cry. How I love this boy so very much. How proud I am of him. How worried, how I hold my breath for him, how I am in shock at how fast this time has come.

As much as I tried to teach him and parent him and help him grow, he taught me as well. This boy helped me grow as a person.

The countdown begins. These next few months will be filled with so much emotion. He’s ready, hesitantly I know. But it is I that I am not sure will ever be truly ready.

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A Change?

Changing careers. Directions. A new path? I have so much to ponder lately. Selling my home in about a year; and the stark reality that a year is not very long. D leaving for college in five months; and yet another hard reality that five months feels like five minutes. T choosing a high school. The empathetic pressure I hold for him. And now, the possibility of me changing course with my career.

As I mentioned it to D last night, he felt it may be difficult to change careers at my age. He so boldly stated “Mom at age 43 it may be tough.” Further explaining a younger generation will have the upper-hand when it comes to applying for new jobs. Instantly feeling as though a challenge had been presented, I felt an overwhelming feeling of “No way. Hell no.” My perseverance, dedication, commitment, and willingness to push limits can serve me well at times. And this time will be no exception. IF I choose to take a new path.

Is this the right time? How will a new job affect my application for a new mortgage next year? And with this question, my mind panics with the knowledge that I will be setting off alone to purchase a new home. There is definitely a sense of empowerment, a feeling that evokes strength. But, fear is walking alongside as well.

I work with children. My job has a deep purpose. But my manager has created an environment in which we all feel stressed, unheard, defeated in many ways, manipulated, and lied to. She is not the reason I am there; And I point this out to myself many times as I try to find the truest answer to my questions “Is this the time to change careers? Should I change careers?”

We celebrated a fellow employee’s retirement last night. Our team of fifteen women shared stories, laughed, and reflected on our career of serving, of creating change, of touching lives. This dinner made me question myself hard about my decision. I realize I can not make a knee-jerk decision based on my manager just as much as I can’t make a knee-jerk decision based on a dinner.

What to do? What to do?

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!

Changing

 

I read an article a few days ago offering advice to respond to situations in a new light. Change old habits of impulse reactions, particularly ones that involve anger, negativity, resentment. Note the usual reaction, stop, and try a new way. Changing thought patterns. Clearing a new path. I like it. I like the suggestion. It feels, I don’t know, hopeful? I actually ¬†practiced it the other night. As I lay thinking about a friend who has hurt me on so many levels, I found my anger rising, my body tightening, and then….I stopped. I acknowledged this almost habitual response and decided to consciously process my response differently. In a more constructive or at least less negative-feeling way. What I have noticed is when I start to feel this anger and hurt, it snowballs. My body and mind pay the price. So in this moment I took a deep breath, placed one hand on my stomach, my center, and one hand on my heart and I let it go. Did it make it hurt any less? Not so much. But what it provided was a place where that hurt could no longer control and weaken me. It was a safe haven of sorts. And I did’t have to physically go anywhere.

It is all here – within me.

Her…

So…a week ago I met her. Leading up to the moment of seeing her for the first time, I was in denial? I know there was a part of me that blocked all feeling. But, I did feel strong. And ready. I couldn’t help but notice her hand shaking as she tried to pass the money to the employee. ¬†She insisted on paying for my tea as well. We made general introductions, shook hands, and sat down. Peering over our cups of tea, our eyes connected and of course a bit of uncomfortableness permeated the air. “Ask me anything,” she said. But, I made it clear – I hope – this was not a test in any way. Only a means to make things easier for all, but most importantly my boys, as we move forward.

My goal was to relay two points. Two views, maybe even two hopes.

Firstly, I do not want my boys to feel bad or as though they are somehow betraying me when they ultimately spend time with her. I want to be able to ease their concerns, worries, possible confusion by letting them know it is okay. And I wanted to be able to do this from an honest stance. A personal stance. And so I simply expressed I’m trying to make this easier for all. Realizing D was sixteen now and has the right to express not wanting to meet her, of this she was understanding and it was she in fact who expressed this point. “Whatever you (both) feel is right.”

Secondly, I desire to grow my family, not diminish it. I explained how important family was to me. Holidays and Birthdays being a gathering I wish to continue for my children – they are the heart of both. I let her know, although I understand it will take time, I hope she can join and welcome her as a part of these celebrations.

We talked much like new friends, sharing our histories at a level. Our education, our children’s sports, places we lived and why, jobs, and even more personal matters – one being her recent experience with Breast Cancer were all discussed over the course of our two hour meeting.

By all accounts, she was intelligent, pretty, hard-working, a dedicated mom, and while seemingly strong, a hesitant, soft, vulnerable, yet loving core was evident.

Each step I make during this process, I think “this was the hard part right?” There have been so many “hard parts” I am starting to think there will be no end to them. However, I’ve noticed I am getting stronger. And more aware. But as with most, there is more work to be done. Shifting perspective, saying goodbye and saying hello. It’s change.

 
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

When it all changed

Nonna passed away August 14, 2011. My grandmother. Italian, trouble maker, selfish, strong yet weak…and I loved her so. We spoke most days. She was a friend. Believe it or not, she did have good advice and she made us laugh. Her life was far from easy. This I know. What I have also come to realize is that her negative energy and ways, spread and contaminated. Do you know how hard it is to separate that harsh reality from love?

Anyway, her passing created a major shift in my life. And to this day, I don’t quite understand how, but it did. Becoming clearer, I started to see things differently. It’s much like a foggy window, where you wipe away some of the condensation and you start to see. See what’s real. What’s just a mirage. Slowly, and slowly still, my focus deepens.

Akin to an awakening, the past several years have been most interesting. Such contradictory emotions, so many heavy days sometimes balanced with light, free days, a world coming undone so that it can be built again with an impenetrable foundation. This has been my awakening.

Yes, everything has changed.

A Quote to Ponder

Because this rings so true for me…

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert