Tag Archives: home

Home

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Home

Home is a little word packed with meaning. It is what we call our physical address, the GPS coordinates that identify where we keep our “stuff” on the planet. It’s where we tell people we’re going when we leave work or school, the location we choose to rest our weary heads at the end of a long day. I looked up the word home in the dictionary and all the expected definitions were there: permanent place of residence, a family or social unit occupying a place, a house or apartment, etc. But one definition caught my eye: a place where something flourishes. Isn’t that true?

Talking about home at this time of year conjures up visions of families around the dinner table for holiday meals and the way people usually come together to celebrate the season. It also brings to mind those who, unfortunately, are without a place to call home – a sad reality that I wish I could change. Home is different things to different people, but I think it typically is a place of belonging.

The word home has been in my thoughts a lot these days. It’s not a big secret that I don’t like being cold, am not a fan of snowy weather, and prefer flip flops to almost any other form of footwear (second only to no footwear). So, living in Colorado has been a bit of a climate adjustment. Sometimes I’ve handled it well and other times I’ve cried or screamed (inwardly) about being here. It’s also been an adjustment because of the circumstances that brought me to this place. Going somewhere completely by choice is a far cry from packing up and moving so family can be around your loved one as he is dying. Colorado has it’s good points of course: the goodness of family and the comfort of people who care about me. And, by definition, I can say I’ve begun to flourish here in new ways.

There is only one place I’ve ever lived, however, that feels like home. That would be [insert drumroll] Florida. From the time I arrived there I felt as though I belonged. Even though we didn’t really know a soul when we pulled up in the driveway of a rental house we’d found online and rented without ever stepping foot inside, I knew I was going to flourish in that place. Fort Myers was truly the first place we ever put down roots and felt a sense of community. The sunshine, tropical temperatures, and proximity to the Gulf helped a lot too. Those are big draws for someone who doesn’t enjoy cold toes! When I think about Colorado or Missouri I have fond memories of fun family times and days spent with friends, but if I hear “home” attached to those places I picture the dwelling places – the houses and apartments we lived in. When I think about Florida I have those same fond memories of friends and family and times shared with people, but when I hear the word “home” it is far more than a house or a condo. I feel sea breezes, sand under my feet, the salt water on my skin, the sunshine and warmth all year long. I remember that there I share a playground with dolphins! I think of the sense of belonging I had. My home there was everything that surrounded me, not just the four walls that sheltered me.

Lately, my true home has really been tugging at my heart again, so I plan to get there in 2013 and re-establish those roots that were pulled up unexpectedly. Until then, I’m following some advice I’ve received, to enjoy where I am until the time comes to move on, cold winter weather and snowstorms included. So, I’ll work on blossoming and flourishing here until I can get back… home.

My Heart’s Home = Joy

Playing Favorites

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Today is a good day for thinking warm thoughts and reflecting on things that make me happy. Part of being Joyful on Purpose is looking around and noticing the little things that make your everyday more delightful, the tiny details that make you smile. I have a lot of favorite things. Now, I will warn you that this list is not going to be nearly as impressive as Oprah’s and not a single one of you will be receiving these things as part of my virtual studio audience, but perhaps looking at them will cause you to look around your own room or house, or even your office, and notice the joyful things that surround you. Without further ado…

Purple is one of my favorite colors lately. It’s kind of funny because I loved purple as a child, but fell out of love with it as I grew older. Now it shows up everywhere for me. Hmm, could it be because it’s the color of royalty? 😉 Maybe. These pillows are on my bed and I love the colors and textures of them. They make great seating and good lap desks and, well, they are just pretty.

I love wine corks! I don’t care much for the new ones… the corks not made of cork. This is a love I cannot explain.

My modest collection of malas bring me joy. Each one has a different meaning and no matter what religious tradition you come from, you can find a purpose for malas. Count your blessings, repeat your mantras or affirmations, say your prayers, find your sense of calm. I’m especially fond of the one in the center because of the meaning of the beads and also because I appreciate and admire the person who gave it to me.

This is a small stone I picked up on a trip to the mountains. It’s a tiny reminder to me that I need to trust others and myself. It reminds me that things are going to be okay and I can trust my intuition.

I love my “not a bookshelf” and it’s ever-changing collection of books and treasures. I have things up there that remind me of trips I’ve taken, places I’ve lived, the losses and gains I’ve experienced, some simply wonderful reading material that makes me laugh, cry, and teaches me about myself and others, and my very favorite book of all time, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s also a great place for my sock monkeys to hang out. Maybe I talk to them… maybe they talk back!

Sharpies. Where do I begin in my declaration of love for Sharpies? I love everything about them from the array of colors to the fine point that grows fatter the more the marker is used. I like to write notes, draw pictures, sign cards and letters. Sigh… yes, I love you, Sharpies.

I also have a love for mini legal pads (which are technically not legal pads I guess). I love them so much I buy them in bulk. I think I like them because they are small, but look important! I also love Pilot G-2 pens. I go through two or three a month… yeah, I’m a little weird in my love for paper and writing instruments! Those little pens are the only ones allowed to grace the pages of my journals unless tragedy strikes and I’m outta ink.

This picture doesn’t mean I love clothes. I like them. I’m a supporter of wearing them. But what I do love is a closet that’s organized by color. Yeah, it’s pretty practical and that would be a word that describes me. But, to be honest, it just makes me smile when I open the closet and see that everything is where it should be, all the colors in order.

Finally, on this chilly Colorado day that began with a blanket of fresh snow on the ground, I absolutely love my apothecary jar filled with souvenirs from the sea. I love my tiny, perfect sand dollar, my pieces of coral, the shells I’ve collected and one or two I’ve purchased because they are too hard to find, and my little stone stingray that brings back memories of beaches, sand, salty water, and fresh tropical air. I’m content where I am right now, but I can’t help smiling when I recall the beautiful Florida coast and my beloved sea.

Look around you today and find the pieces of your world that bring you joy and happiness.

Favorites = Joy

The Art of Letting Go

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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

Happy in Socked Feet

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My love for Florida is well documented in this journal. I’ve shared that love openly and without shame! Brian has had a wish, almost since we touched the Colorado soil, to return to Florida. He loves it there too – the sunshine, the water, and the friends. I know a big factor for him has been my desire to settle down there and resume my life. However, the cancer in his body is now making its final takeover. Returning is, for him, not going to become reality.

I have been planning a move back to that sunshiny place I love and think of as home. I have been determined to make Brian’s final wish a reality and get myself back as well. Moving truck booked, arrangements falling into place, details being worked out…

And now I can’t go.

Brian’s days have looked like a ride on a fantastically topsy-turvy, curvy roller coaster, and my thoughts and decisions have been mimicking that ride. I thought I had it all figured out and then something happened. I can’t fully explain it but I’m deciding to embark on a journey by embracing where I am at this moment.

This blog, and my life, are about being joyful on purpose. Deliberately choosing joy. Finding it in every little thing. Going to Florida has been my dream, my wish, and my plan. However, I do believe that things happen for a reason, that if I were to zoom out and look at everything from a magical aerial view, I’d see dots connecting people and events. I’d no doubt comment here and there, “Oh, how wonderfully unexpected!” The closer I come to telling Brian good-bye forever, the more I am convinced that I should stay where I am and see where the joy-seeking road goes. There are reasons to return to Florida and there are reasons to stay in Colorado. I can make a great case for either decision and no one would find fault in my choice.

A lot of thoughts have been making their way into my mind and the ones taking up residence are about the present, about being totally present where I am, not consumed with where I want to be…or think I want to be. My happiness isn’t a sure thing if I am living on the Gulf coast of Florida. I just told a friend the other day, who is waiting to make a move back to the place he loves, to “smile and be happy anyway.” I haven’t really been listening to my own advice. I’ve been whining about the cold weather, the lack of ocean breezes, the dry air…I’ve been finding fault left and right. But those thoughts that are settling down have been taking my complaints, one by one, and throwing them away, replacing them with happier thoughts and positive vibes.

I cancelled the moving truck, undid arrangements that had been made, unworked the details. Then I bought some socks.

I don’t like wearing socks. So I purposely bought socks that are colorful and cute and don’t match a darn thing in my closet. And I’m going to put those socks on whenever I’m in a funk, when my feet are cold and I’m wondering if I was right to make this decision. I’m going to look at them, smile, and be happy. Then I’m going to put those feet firmly on the ground. I have no idea exactly how this next phase of my life will pan out. I have hopes and dreams and plans to pursue. I can pursue and dream and hope anywhere, so why not here, in socked feet?

Socks = Joy

Healing Waters

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Our hospice team is like a little band of super heroes and I feel so blessed to know each and every one of them. I’m saying this after experiencing a truly great day, but I feel exactly the same on days we struggle. If you spent a day or two with them you would understand what I feel. They get frustrated along with us at every little setback and they cheer enthusiastically with every little (and big) triumph. Agape means love and that’s what I feel for our super heroes.

The change in Brian today was quite impressive. His demeanor was calm, he laughed hard and smiled big. He even joked around like he used to. I saw his personality return. He’s a little slow and somewhat tired…kinda like he has cancer or something. 😉 For him to be able to describe the way he feels as “perfect” pretty much sums up the improvement from yesterday.

This evening a high school friend of ours stopped by for a visit and Brian was able to talk and reminisce for a couple hours. She commented that she couldn’t believe it’s been 20 years since we’ve seen each other. Time does fly by. Someone once said, “the days are long, but the years are short,” and that is certainly true. Twenty years ago we were all beginning to plan the next big phase of our lives and now here we are having experienced all the ups and downs that come with the human experience.

Another visit we had today was from our chaplain. We talked about many things, but in the course of our discussion I had a lightbulb moment. I stumbled upon the reason I feel so connected to Florida and why it became, and will forever be, home. Over the last three years Brian and I have had some intense struggles and faced some things we almost could not bear. Also during that period we began paddleboarding and not all of our time on the water was spent chasing sharks. There were other times we paddled far out into the Gulf, to the point we could no longer be seen from shore. Out there we saw incredible creatures, of course. We also found peace, tranquility, and solitude. It’s easy to clear your head when you are surrounded by blue water in front of you as far as the eye can see. The “world,” represented by all those on the beach looking as tiny as ants, is far behind you. We would sometimes just lie down on our boards and stare up at the clouds, listening to the sounds of birds and water and occasionally fish or a sea turtle. Serenity. Other times we would talk and argue, occasionally even fight. It was a safe place for those difficult conversations though. No one could hear us and we always seemed to be able to work through our differences and difficulties. One day I told Brian I felt like the sea was healing us. And it was in many ways. We learned important lessons about ourselves and each other. Our perspective was forever changed. It’s hard to feel self-centered when you are standing on a board surrounded by millions of gallons of water and a never-ending sky. It’s humbling. That water has been here much longer than I have, going through its cycle over and over and over. I’m a tiny speck on the shore. One small person. Here for a limited amount of time. But while I’m here I get to choose how I spend my time. I’d prefer to spend my time being grateful for each day and for the people I’m surrounded by. I want to experience the beauty of the world. I want to practice kindness and compassion.

I learned so much of that in the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, paddling out into the blue, living in my little slice of paradise called Fort Myers. And that is why it will always be my home.