Monthly Archives: August 2012

Scars

Standard

A little over a week ago, Jordan had his post-surgery follow-up with the surgeon who spent seven hours getting to know an unconscious Jordan as he lay with his chest open on an operating table. He delicately removed the mass that had entangled itself in Jordan’s chest for 17 ½ years. After wiring his sternum back together and closing Jordan’s chest with a clean row of stitches, the surgeon let us know he had the feeling all would be well. And it is. Jordan recovered very quickly and has been given the go-ahead to resume normal activity. He’s been doing 1000 push-ups a day and is breathing easier, his attitude as carefree and positive as ever. If not for the stainless steel wires in his chest and the scar that marks the experience, you’d never know he’d been through such a frightening ordeal.

This morning I made the final drive to Children’s Hospital. Jordan and I grabbed a couple drinks at Starbucks on the way (sorry, Bob and Frankie…) and talked on the way there about music and the goofiness of some words in the English language. We walked into the doors and headed up to the Infectious Disease department. The nurse did the usual height, weight, blood pressure check. All is normal and, in fact, he is two pounds away from his pre-surgery weight! The doctor then looked Jordan over and questioned him about his experience with the antibiotics to take care of his bacterial infection. It was a quick visit. We headed downstairs to the lab for one final blood draw. Two months of needle pokes and lab work finally came to an end.

When we left the hospital, we were both glad to be done with medication and doctor visits. A few days ago, Jordan posted a picture of his scar on Facebook with the following words: “This surgery was probably the hardest thing I’ve gone through, but in a weird way I’m glad I went through it.”

Last night we talked about why he said those words. He wasn’t exactly sure, it was just a feeling he had. I told him it might be because no matter what happens in his life from this point on, he knows he can handle it. He agreed. It puts life in perspective. He has been through a lot in the last six months. So has his brother. So have I. Unlike Brian and me, however, Jordan has something tangible and vivid to remind himself that he is resilient, that he can face adversity and tragedy and overcome it.

In response to Jordan’s Facebook post, I shared the following quote: “There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.” (Harry Crews) I am happy for the scar that remains and what it will mean to Jordan, to Brian, and to me. It’s beautiful.

Scars = Joy

Get Real!

Standard

Some say the world is a dangerous place and filled with hurtful, angry people. Others won’t even think of bringing a child into a world like this. No, we cannot let kids roam free like they used to and often we don’t even know our neighbors’ names, much less socialize with them. We build fences and stronger locks to keep people out and away. We arm ourselves against our fear of unknown violence. We honk and curse and shake fists at one another on the roadways. We look down and avoid eye contact and certainly don’t smile at strangers. We scurry from place to place, consumed with our own lives. Yes, this is how we live… sometimes.

But there are souls in this world who long to change that, who have soft hearts that desire to spread goodness, peace, comfort, and, of course, joy, to others. Today I was the recipient of something truly extraordinary. A group of women in a neighboring city gather on a regular basis and collect money as they share time together as friends. Every quarter they choose someone to receive the money they have collected. I was nominated for this gift several months ago, unbeknownst to me. Until today, I had never heard of Womenade of Highlands Ranch. I had no idea that complete strangers had decided to give to me out of the kindness they feel inside.

There was a letter inside along with the gift, and also a note from the individual who nominated me. She shared that “even though their gifts may be small, their compassion for other women is vast.” I have to disagree. I believe their gifts are monumental because of their compassion. They give selflessly, to complete strangers, and expect nothing in return. That is the best way to give. That is the heart of compassion and love. These women, and others like them, unlock the doors, put gates on the fences, seek to know their neighbors, look deep into another’s eyes, wave and smile on the highway, and offer smiles readily to everyone. That is kindness. That is generosity of spirit. That will melt anger and turn hurt into healing. That will make the world beautiful and fill it with delight. The lovely woman who nominated me thanked me for being real. I thank her and the other members of Womenade, and countless people around the world, for choosing to be real as well. Yes, in her words…

Real People = Joy 

Search Terms

Standard

Just for fun, and because I’m easily entertained, I enjoy reading through the list of search terms that have led people to click on Joyful on Purpose.  So, just for more fun, I thought I’d share some here and my thoughts on them.

Best response when someone is not honest: I’m not sure what I wrote that would have led someone to my blog who was searching for the answer. My best response is to gently confront in a very non-confrontational way. Yeah, you read that correctly! I go the very long route when dealing with things like this. Actually, my response is usually to try to understand the root of the dishonesty and then forgive it. I’ve written about forgiveness before, and I could write a lot more on the subject, but the first rule in my book on the subject is “just do it.” It doesn’t mean things will be rosy or that relationships will be mended, but your heart and mind will be healthier.

Didn’t even break a nail: I’m one of those girls who loves to do things that might break a nail, but I’m very proud when I come away with a perfectly intact mani and pedi. I love to get muddy and messy on occasion, not from gardening or anything as lovely as that, but from races or adventures. And afterward, I like to put on a dress and look as though I would never even consider doing such an unladylike thing as romping through the mud! If you are anything like me, then you must consider the Badass Bash, an obstacle race taking place in Florida next spring. I plan to go and get sweaty and dirty and maybe a little beat up…without breaking a nail. (http://www.badassbash.com/)

Cool purple tattoos: Hmm, all I can say here is, “Yes, I’d like one.”

Pull the rug from under my feet: Oh boy! I have felt that like that countless times. But, what I am learning is that it’s okay when that happens. It hurts like crazy and can knock the wind right out of you. While you’re on the ground, take a minute to just look around and breathe a little. Then, begin to pick yourself up and surround yourself with people who care about you, who will help you tend to any bruises or scrapes, and move on. It will be okay.

Why do the voices in my head tell me lies?: I wish I had the answer to this question. It’s so maddening that some of the voices in my head can’t tell the truth. Ever. This is also a situation where at least one good friend or loved one is so crucial. They can replace the lying voices with truthful voices. And if you listen to the truthful voices, they will start to speak louder and drown out the lies. One of my friends wrote me a letter responding to my bingeing and starving cycle. I kept that email because it is filled with things I need to know and believe about myself. Every now and then I read it all the way through and then read it one more time for good measure. It’s my way of screaming back at the loud and dishonest voices. I may never know why the voices lie, but I hope I can learn to silence them.

Diagnosis for being an overthinker: I love that someone was searching this! There’s your diagnosis right there. Do you Google everything? Do you ask yourself questions and then answer yourself with new questions? Then you, my friend, are an overthinker. You’re probably a people-pleaser, a perfectionist, super detailed, and have a mind that never shuts down. The only prescription I have is to journal, journal, journal. Well, it’s also good to have a coffee date with a patient friend who will listen and then tell you what you need to hear – that you don’t have to have all the answers and that most things will work themselves out. Of course, you’ll leave that coffee date thinking about exactly how things will work themselves out…

Conclusion of mother an ideal homemaker: I found this search term very intriguing, so I typed it into Google and my blog was the first thing to show up. I tried for years and years to be the perfect mother and ideal homemaker. I think the only conclusion you can draw is that there may be no such thing. You do the best you can with what you’ve got. You fail and succeed, sometimes in the same hour. You make huge mistakes one day and wise decisions the next. You choose your battles and only fight the ones that are important to you or that will make the biggest difference in the long run. There is, however, one vital ingredient, one absolutely essential quality that you must possess to even think about being an ideal homemaker or mother, or person for that matter. L-O-V-E.

Does carrot cake help after surgery: Well, DUH… it can’t hurt! I would personally recommend cheesecake or a tangy piece of key lime pie. But if carrot cake makes you happy, go for it.

Can a place make you feel unanchored: This one led to my journal about nurturing your friendships. Friends make wonderful anchors and there can be a very long chain leading from you to those anchors. I have anchors in Texas, Florida, California, and even Dubai. They help me remember that I’m rooted to more than just the spot where my feet touch the ground. I’m rooted to other hearts and minds.

Okay, after all that, I should probably explain what my Yoda coffee cup cozy has to do with it. Well, I was searching the Internet for something completely different when I ran across my little knitted Yoda in an Etsy shop. I don’t even remember what I was searching for now! Sometimes that happens when we search – we come up with something unexpected. I hope that the people who went searching for the things I’ve just shared found what they were looking for, but I also hope that when they clicked on Joyful on Purpose, they found some unexpected joy. We can all use a little more of that.

The Unexpected = Joy 

The Art of Letting Go

Standard

My favorite picture of Brian and Jordan, taken at Garden of the Gods in 1995

Today was day two of school… only 184 left before I’m officially done as a homeschooling mom. I’ve spent more than 2,150 days being my kids’ primary teacher and had the absolute privilege of spending over 17 years as a full-time homemaker. Wow! It is hard to believe. When I became a mother for the first time, people told me to cherish every day and savor the moments because they would go by in the blink of an eye. Fast forward a couple of years and I had a toddler running around and a very active baby on my hip. My days consisted of bottles, diapers, toys, cleaning messes, diapers, running errands with car seats and strollers, diapers, laundry, little meals for tiny hands, and more diapers. It was hard to believe that those years were going to fly by. Now I’m looking at one son beginning his senior year of high school and another son getting ready to become a husband. I’m a believer; the years do fly by.

Some moms are very sentimental and their eyes well up with tears and their heart strings are pulled tight at the thought of the empty nest. I hope this is okay to say, but I’m looking forward to it. Now, don’t misunderstand me! I love being a mother. I have spent almost every single day of motherhood right alongside my children. They only went to public school for two years. We have had more quality and quantity time together than a lot of parents and children, something I’ll be forever grateful for. I’ve thoroughly loved every bit of it, even those days when we all wanted to pull our hair out and scream!

We’ve all had those days as parents, the ones that make you question your sanity and that of your children, and wondering what possessed you to think you could raise children. In fairness to kids, they feel that way too, wondering why their parents are so crazy and what made them think they had skills to take care of other human beings! But I have found that the worst days are, almost without exception, followed by the best days. The best days are grand, filled with smiles, love, laughter, and lots of good vibes. They make the bad days a distant memory.

Now, back to that empty nest… Yes, I have loved motherhood. Maybe it’s because I have two boys and don’t know what it’s like to raise a daughter, but I am excited about the empty nest. Perhaps it’s easier to see boys leave. I am thrilled at the thought that my sons are going to go out into the world and do their own thing, pursue whatever dreams they have, make good and bad choices along the way, screw up and succeed, and learn all about life along the way. I’m excited for whatever the future holds for them, and the privilege to watch it all from the sidelines.

It’s a little scary to launch your kids into the world too. I mean, what if you messed up and forgot something incredibly important? Well, what I’ve figured out is this: they’ll let you know and ask for help, or they will figure it out… more often the latter. They will be okay. I’ve watched my older son from 2000 miles away as he set up his own apartment and his life. He is more responsible and mature than I even realized. I love hearing from him and knowing how he is doing and what he’s up to. I love hearing from my spies that he’s a great young man and doing quite well. (Yes, Brian, there are spies…) He sends me cooking tips and lots of wonderful trivia about things. I’m learning from him – learning to let go, to trust, and to just enjoy watching from a distance.

In less than a year I will do it all again, and watch as another son strikes out on his own and starts leading the life he’s meant to live. It will still be a little unnerving and I’ll wonder, once again, if I messed up and forgot something incredibly important. Maybe then I’ll look back at the words I just wrote and remember that it’s all going to be fine and it’s just the next part of the journey.

Preparing to Let Go = Joy

Joyful Creativity

Standard

Art. It used to be part of my every day. I used to draw a lot, paint a little, and sculpted once or twice. I used to make pieces of jewelry with tiny seed beads and wire and stones. I used to make lovely little things out of paper and ink, leaving my hands gloriously messy. Then I got busy with other things – mainly life – and art projects and creativity began to take the back seat more regularly, then the trunk, then the dusty corner of the garage.

I’ve heard before that if you have a talent you should use it so you won’t lose it. I think there’s a degree of truth to that. Once upon a time I played the flute, but now I can’t even read music. Every now and then I will sit down and draw something, but it does feel a bit foreign and the pencil doesn’t create lines quite the way it used to in my hand.

One of my goals and dreams over the next year is to actively create. Drawing, painting, designing and, of course, writing. It’s a little scary, if I can be truthful. My son, Brian, is an incredible artist. His talent astounds me and makes me a little jealous. Okay, a lot jealous! But he has also been a source of encouragement. We’ve had a few talks about art and the practice of creativity. He’s admitted that it can be difficult for him too sometimes, to get the lines just right, especially when it’s been a while between creative periods.

Well, tonight I sat down to write a letter to my fairy princess pen pal. The other day she sent me the most beautiful card. It had hibiscus blossoms and leaves intricately cut by her hand on the edges of the paper. So pretty and the perfect accent to the words she penned, which brought tears to my eyes! So, what did I decide to create in return? A skull… But she loves skulls. Really, she does! I sat at my desk and got out my pens and started designing a sugar skull with her in mind, putting in a few small touches that I hope will make her happy because they reflect pieces of her I find endearing.

It was great to get my hands messy again, even on something as simple as a hand-drawn card. Creativity is one of the greatest gifts we have, in my opinion. It takes on many forms, art being one of my favorites. Finding our expression through art is marvelous. Seeing the world through the eyes of other artists can be moving, in breathtaking or unpleasant ways, bringing all sorts of emotions to the surface.

My little sugar skull is by no means a masterpiece, but tonight just the simple act of creating it brought me happiness and joy. My goal is to find joy in every little thing. This little thing counts.

A Little Art = Joy