Friday, November 30, 2012

La Bella Luna

Did you happen to catch a glimpse of the full moon the past few nights and her sidekick, Jupiter?  Gorgeous!

Did you feel the celestial energy on Wednesday?  The full moon, a lunar eclipse and a planetary alignment that brought intense energy to those sensitive to it.  Were your kids a little nutty?  Was there chaos in your day or unpredictability?  I can tell you, the emergency rooms were busy!  There were probably a fair number of babies born.  There IS something to a full moon energy!

I was fortunate enough to catch the moon rise last evening.  The moon had a beautiful orange glow, very sacral chakra-ish!  It was low on the horizon and appeared huge!  Above and to the right shone a bright star, the planet Jupiter.  It was captivating.  As the moon rose, they appeared to get closer to each other.  Stunning.

Later in the evening, the full moon was high in the sky, like a mirror, shining the light of the reflected sun down on the earth, illuminating the night.  The sky was clear.  The stars were twinkling.  The air was cold and crisp.  Peaceful.  Amazing how much light is reflected back to earth and the beauty of the landscape in the moonlight in contrast to the sunlight.

The full moon is a wonderful opportunity to release and cleanse.  To set the intention for the next lunar cycle. To prepare for the new moon, the new beginnings in your life.  It's cyclical, like life itself.  Although the moon is now waning towards the new moon, try to catch a glimpse and be present in her beauty.  Soak in the stillness of the night.  Take a deep breath and observe the stars.

We are such a tiny speck in the grand scheme of the galaxy.  Yet, here, on Earth, to at least a few people, you are everything.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Power ball, power thought, power dreams

So, did you buy a power-ball ticket for last night's drawing?  Do you only buy one when the jackpot is hyped because it's so large?  I will admit, I did.  One quick pick.  I have bought maybe 5 lottery tickets in my life, all for similar circumstances.  I have never won.  I never really expected to.

What is it about HUGE sums of money that inspire us to do something we ordinarily wouldn't do?  What is it that drive people who have no discretionary income to spend any amount of money on lottery tickets on a daily or weekly basis and then throw $100 into power-ball tickets when the chance of winning is something like 1 in 365 million?

I think it's the dream.  I found myself wondering, as I'm sure many people did, what would I do if I actually won?

First, I'd get a good attorney and a good accountant!!

Yes, I'd quit my job.  Not because I want to fully retire, although that's tempting, but because I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I love.  Teaching about birth, safety and Reiki.  I'd take the opportunity to volunteer more, to get involved in the community and to make a difference.  I'd work on Meghan's Hope and Katie's Foundation the way I've always wanted to and then I'd have the finances to do what needs to be done to truly get our message heard around the world.  I'd write a book or two.  I'd have more time to devote to my kids and their pursuits.

I'd clean my house!  I'd complete all those home improvement projects!  I'd get my 3 season room!

I'd actually exercise.  Regularly!  And cook!  And eat well!  Imagine that!

I'd travel with my family.  I'd take the extended family on a vacation.  Perhaps a cruise or a trip to Hawaii.  A tour of the National Parks.  I could spend the summers WITH my children!!

I'd donate some to my family members so they could get out of debt.

I'd donate to my favorite charities.  Not the big ones that get huge amounts of donations and sit on endowments, but the little guys.  The grassroots charities who are trying to get their word out and advance their cause.  I'd but lots of gifts for toys for tots, buy tons of food to feed the hungry.

But most of it would go into retirement and college fund savings.

Wait.  Why do we all have to wait for an impossibly high jackpot in a lottery game that is nearly impossible to win to dream?  Why can't we manifest these things without millions of dollars falling into our hands by chance?

Sure, some of my dreams require money.  Focused savings and prioritization can help me attain those goals over time.  Many of them are not necessary to living.  I can do on a smaller scale what I'd do on a larger scale if I had more time and money.

Many of my dreams don't require money.  They do require time and dedication.  Also something that is difficult to come by when working full time, but not outside the realm of possibility.  It's about prioritization, organization and dedication.  I could attain that dream now.  Perhaps not as quickly or efficiently as I otherwise could, but it does not require my winning the lottery to do.

I can take a more modest vacation.  I can donate what I can afford  to the charities of my choice.  I can volunteer, just not as long or as often.  I could find a different job, a way to support my family and my ultimate dream.  I could exercise regularly.  I can and do teach and write, just not as much as I'd like.  I do share Meghan's message, just not to the degree I wish I could.  I can't do it all.  I can't do it to the same degree I could or would if I had unlimited finances, but I can do it.

Maybe we simply don't dare to dream until there is also the dream of a way to make our dreams come true. That's sad.  We are incredibly powerful energetically.  We should be able to manifest what we need in our lives.

So I didn't win power-ball.  I didn't need to.  No loss there.  I congratulate the people who did.  I hope they truly needed the money and will use it for the greater good.  I already have what I truly need.  I am grateful for the roof over my head, the food on the table, a happy and healthy family, my fur babies, my ability to give to others in need, the time I make to write and the ability to pursue my passions even if only in a limited capacity.  There are so many others who struggle for warmth and nourishment, how dare I dream at all?

I also have to wonder.  Why is there all this screaming about our fiscal crisis in the government?  Why are we crying about paying more taxes and not being able to afford health care?  I'm sure those same law makers spent tons of money on their power-ball tickets.  If everyone in the country gave the $2/week to the government instead of to the lottery or their DD or Starbucks coffee, how long would it take us to pay off the deficit?

Ah, the power of dreaming.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There is no *better* way, no *right* way...

Heaven has another child.  Gone too soon.  It seems so unfair.

Sweet Kai transitioned from this earthly plane in his momma's arms last night.  No doubt he was surrounded by love.  I can think of no greater gift if you must lose a child, than to be there to hold them with unconditional love as they pass through you on their way to the next place.  To be there when they enter the world and to be there when they leave it.  The true circle of life.  You can read his mamma's blog and how she told her readers here Kai's Fight Club

This song is for you and for your family sweet one. Visitor from Heaven by Twila Paris

Although I don't know Kai or his family directly, I certainly know what they are probably experiencing right now.  There is no 'good' way to say goodbye to a child.  There is nothing at all comforting about watching your child take their last breath, no matter how prepared you might have been for the moment, when you live it, it's a bittersweet hell.  Relief that his suffering is over.  Excruciating emotional pain at the death of the very being they created and loved.

I remember what it was like leaving the hospital without my child.  What it was like to walk out into the crisp and cool air with only a box of mementos and the memories in my mind.  Hand and foot prints.  A lock of hair.  A brochure on grief.  My heart so heavy and my mind so numb that I literally had no idea how I managed to put one foot in front of the other.  Dread over having to tell her brothers.  It was surreal.  Knowing I'd never see that face, touch her silky hair, feel her skin, hear her voice, read her Pajama Time or Goodnight Moon, watch her and her twin together, see her grow up...  It was too much to bear.  So much so, it took a long time for the tears to fall.  Then there were her toys, her clothes, her car seat, looking for her and forgetting she was gone for the first few days...  Then, the anger...

I read of Kai's passing this morning.  I cried.  Not so much for him, for he is where he needs to be now.  No, I cried for the pain I know his parents are feeling right now.  I am one of the few that truly knows what it's like.  I weep for their pain.  For the depth of their sorrow.  For the memories they have.  For how this day much have been so difficult for them, to drive home for the the first time without him.  To go to his room, where he will never be again.  For the hellacious roller coaster they have endured and have yet to endure.  Planning his memorial service or funeral.  Celebrating the 'first' holidays without him.  The triggers they have no idea will blindside them, but they will.

In a way I can imagine their grief, yet in a way I cannot.  Meg's death was tragic and completely unexpected.  We had no warning.  I kissed her good night and the next morning I did CPR on her when she was found lifeless under her dresser.  I never got to say goodbye.  My baby died all alone.  That haunts me to this day.

As horrible and traumatic as Meg's death was (and I had PTSD from it) I can't imagine watching a child struggle with a terminal illness.  The roller coaster of joy and sorrow.  Watching them slip away little by little.  Making the decision to withdraw active treatment or life support.  Literally watching them die before your eyes, powerless to help them.  Simultaneously wanting to hasten the process for both of you and yet never wanting it to end because saying goodbye hurts too much, not matter how right you feel it is.

I can't imagine what the Bish family endured and still endures.  The parents of any child that disappears.  How do they do it?  No closure. Not wanting to give up but, oh, I just can't even go there.  Only a few of her remains found years later.  No suspect in custody.  Wondering what happened to her.  Was she scared?  Did she suffer?  OMG, just thinking about it makes me crazy.  How do these families cope?  I cannot even fathom.  I've had the tremendous pleasure of meeting John and Maggie.  Amazing people.  Amazing.  The foundation they established in Molly's memory does such good work to protect kids from abduction.

People say stupid things when a child dies.  Don't be one of those people.  "They are better off now"  "God needed a special Angel"  "They are in a better place"  Fuck that.  There is no better place to be than in your mama's arms. Period.  End of story.

We say these platitudes to make us here on earth feel better.  It helps us to make sense of it.  Sure, it may be a tenant of faith for us and that's wonderful.  But no parent wishes their child die.  It's ok for the parent to say any of these things.  It is not ok for anyone else to say it to them.  Anyone who has lost a child would give anything to get them back, whole and healthy and their family the way it was supposed to be, the way it was imagined to be forever.  God doesn't need children.  Mamas and daddies do. Siblings do.  Grandparents do.

Lots of people seemed to think I needed to hear these things, along with "I'm sure (or at least) she didn't suffer".  Really?  How are you sure?  Were you there? You didn't see what she looked like.  You didn't see the mark on her neck where her airway was compressed by the weight of the dresser.  She suffocated.  For at least a minute or two, I'm sure she was scared as hell.  Helpless, unable to cry, unable to move.  I'm sure once she saw the 'light' she was at peace, but I seriously doubt it was without some pain and suffering, however short.  And it could've been prevented.  Try to live with that.

The truth is there is nothing you can say to a parent that is grieving the death of their child that will make them 'feel better'.  What they want is to be respected for whatever feelings they have.  Whatever they do or do not want.  To be supported in their space.  People told me to eat constantly.  I could've screamed.  I think I did a few times.  My daughter just died, eating is NOT what I care about right now.

Meet them where they are.  Offer to just listen.  Offer to do things for them, but respect if they say no.  Ask again later. Send a card.  Send another one on the first month anniversary, the year anniversary, birthdays, holidays, mother's day and father's day, send one just because you thought of their child today. Make a gift in memory of their child.  A scrapbook page. A  quilt of their clothes.  An ornament.

Even now, years later, I love it when someone tells me something they remember about Meg or something they like about a picture they saw.  Makes my day!  They think about their children every day.  They want to hear their names.  They don't want their child to be forgotten.  Don't worry about 'upsetting' them.  They know their child died.  They live with it every second of every day.  They want other people to remember their LIFE.

I remember after Meg died we got a card from an 86 year old woman who read her obituary.  She said she lost her only son when he was 3 60 years prior!  She said she thinks of him every day.  Every day for SIXTY years.  That it still hurt.  She has never forgotten.  That he will always live in her heart.  She wanted us to know she was thinking of US and sending her love.  To let us know she wouldn't forget her beautiful face even though we had no idea who this woman was.  It was profound.  Mothers never forget.

I find myself comparing the death of my child with other parents and the death of their children.  How ridiculous is that?  The mind is a fascinating thing.  While I couldn't imagine what Kai's family endured, being prepared for his death, having a chance to say goodbye, to prepare, to grieve before the grief were gifts I never had.  To be able to hold their sweet child in their arms while he took is last breath, has agonizing and painful as it must have been for them was a gift.  One they may not yet comprehend.  One I desperately wish I had.   I'm so happy for them they had the support they did through this journey.

There is no better way.  There is no right way.  It's just not right.  It should never happen that parents outlive their kids, ever.  Yet death is a part of life.  We lose children in utero, in birth, in infancy, in childhood and as adult children.  They are always our children.  The age at which they died or the circumstances they died from really don't matter to us.  We love them.  We miss them.  We were robbed of our parenting, of our dreams of our babies.  Our children were robbed of their lives.  No matter what your beliefs are, no matter your faith or lack thereof, no matter whether you believe in Heaven, an afterlife or reincarnation, no matter what there will always be love.  There will always be the memories.  There will always be gratitude for the time we were blessed to have with our children, no matter how short.  It doesn't take away the pain, but it helps to sustain us through the difficult times.

Sending love and light and tremendous prayers for peace and healing for Kai's family as they walk this lonely and difficult road.  They are surrounded by an amazing Village of care givers, family, friends and even strangers who are there for them in whatever capacity they can be.  They are so blessed in that way.

Children have the most amazing way of bringing people together.  In life and in death.

Rest in peace sweet child.  Fly high and fly free. Shine your light on your family and may they feel your grace today and always.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interviews and Insight

This must be the week for interviews.  I seem to be the subject of said inquiries.  Who thought I was that interesting?  Huh.

My week started with a phone call from a neighbor who never talks to us.  Mostly because we don't see them out and about and because they are rather private.  She called to ask if I'd be willing to have her nephew call me as he needed to interview a PT for an assignment for one of his college classes.  He is aspiring to a career as a PT.  I said sure.  I spoke to him this evening.  A delightful young man.  He had his questions all ready.  Literally 20 of them!

Many of them were a bit of a walk down memory lane.  What inspired you to pursue a career as a PT?  How long have you been at your current job?  What do you do?  Do you enjoy it?  What is the starting salary?  What is the best thing about your job?  The worst?  Is it easy to start your own business?  What extra courses should I focus on?  Do I need to minor in business?  What can I do to make myself more marketable as a PT?  How is the job market?  Describe a typical day...

Gosh.  It's been 20 years since I graduated from college with a BS in PT.  It's now an entry level doctorate program (don't even get me started).  I really chose it as a career on a whim.  It was either that, or social work, which I'd have enjoyed as well, but health care really intrigued me.

I've experienced quite a few different settings as a therapist from outpatient to acute care, chest PT, cardiac rehab, sub-acute rehab, long term care and I even dabbled in pediatrics.  I've worked in private clinics, small hospitals, large hospitals and nursing homes. I've been a clinical instructor for PT students.  I've taught 'back school' and countless other orientation type classes for other health care professionals.  I've been a middle manager and a regional consultant.  I've hired and fired people.  I've used my clinical knowledge in my other pursuits as a birth doula and childbirth educator and as a member of the medical reserve corps.  I've used my knowledge in articles I've written and classes I've taught.  I am now in a marketing and rehab liaison/screening position and the front seat of my car is my office.  The only thing I have not done is home care!  If nothing else, my career choice has afforded me great flexibility and many avenues to pursue.  I have learned a tremendous amount and I've met some amazing people along the way.

It was an opportunity to reflect and be grateful for the choice I made 25 years ago to be a PT.  It really wasn't made with a whole lot of forethought.  It was made because health care appealed to me and all the nurses in my family said 'DON'T go into nursing!'.  I toyed with medical school or the Physician Assistant program after I graduated.  I pondered getting my Nursing Home Administration License or a graduate degree in business.  I never followed up on any of them, mostly because of the expense and the uncertainty of where I wanted to go with my career.

Turns out, I ended up exactly where I needed to be.  Go figure!  This job has long been my 'dream' job.  If only it were able to be done part time!  :-)  There is so much more I want to do with my life and other pursuits... I do enjoy the opportunity it affords me to use my clinical knowledge, my love of teaching and the flexibility to reach out to my customers in a way that can be tailored to their needs.  It's... fun!  At least a good amount of the time.

It may not be the job I retire from, but it's a good fit for now.  I guess pursuing PT wasn't so bad after all.  :-)

Monday, November 26, 2012

@*&$%^!* Christmas tree!

Yesterday, I posted about the amazing experience I had re-connecting with Meg.  While that is wonderful and amazing and still with me, I still find it hard to reconcile it with what the Christmas season does to me emotionally.  Knowing she is with me in spirit does not make the pain of her loss any less in the physical plane.

I used to love Christmas.  Our family had a rich holiday tradition.  I looked forward to it throughout my childhood and into adulthood.  When I got my own home, I loved decorating for the holidays, outside and inside.  Each year acquiring new decor.  I was even crafty, making wreaths and centerpieces and wall hangings out of silk flowers.  The Christmas section of the attic is by far the one with the most plastic storage bins!

Having children of my own made it that much more magical.  Sharing family traditions and attempting to create new ones. Seeing the joy and excitement they had for the season. The ornaments they made, the ones I bought to reflect milestones or their interests at the time and the picture frame ornaments that are a delightful walk down memory lane.  As we grew older, grandparents passed on to the next place, relatives moved away and/or married and had families of their own. We grew too big, too busy, too far apart to carry on the traditions as they once were.  I miss it.  I am nostalgic for it.

The tree is, of course, the centerpiece.  I remember the trees of Christmases past.  The shapes, the aromas, the big colorful hot lights!  The quintessential symbol of the season, at least for us.  I absolutely love to sit in the peace and quiet staring at the lights on the tree.  I always have. It's as hypnotizing as gazing into a fire to me.  It's almost as if I can see all of the Christmases past.  The memories.  The traditions.  The anticipation of what this year will bring.  There is peace in it.

The last Christmas tree decorating I truly enjoyed was in 2004.  We had a huge tree.  We were planning to host a huge Christmas dinner for our combined families. It was on our second floor playroom in front of the giant window.  The biggest, most beautiful tree I'd ever had!  We went to the tree farm to cut it down together.  It was freezing that day!  Trying to corral a 6-year-old and 3-year-old twins was challenging enough, let alone trying to select a tree!  We decorated it the next evening to traditional holiday music.  The cats underneath it the entire time.  Trying to knock the lower ornaments off almost as fast as the kids could hang them.  I remember the twins pretending to play the musical instrument themed ornaments we had.  Meggie insisted on hanging all the cat ornaments and of course hung them in a cluster on the lower right hand corner of the tree at about her waist height for she knelt to hang them.  They were so heavy, the branches nearly touched the floor.  I remember sitting on the floor and the twins jumping into my lap for a snuggle while my older son ran around crazy.  Then they all ran around crazy.  Why we thought doing it before bedtime was a good idea is beyond me...

Barely two weeks later, exactly one week before Christmas itself, my experience of Christmas changed forever.  There is nothing like losing a child to take the joy out of the season.  She was buried December 22nd.  Is it any wonder Christmas is a trigger for the pain and grief of her loss no matter how much I have integrated the experience and healed from it?  It shouldn't be.  Sure, holidays are difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one.  When you lose them so close to the holiday itself, and especially a young child, it seems to be exponentially more difficult and painful.  It stirs up the anger and the pain that is easier to manage at other times of the year.  It's an anniversary.  It's a trigger month.  At least for me.

Still, it'll be 8 years this Christmas.  Each year, it does get a wee bit different.  I won't say easy or better, but different.  The pain is not as sharp.  I do find ways to have fun, to laugh, to be silly.  I am trying really hard to make a conscious effort to find the joy of season I once held in my heart.  It is not easy.  Not at all.  But each year, the pain is softer, the pain less visceral.  Anticipatory grief I've found, is the sort I dread the most.  You know it's coming.  You have no idea exactly how you will respond.  What will blindside you this year?  When will it 'hit' you?  Will it 'hit' you at all?  Is this the year it really is easier?

Christmas music, particularly the traditional songs played on the radio or in stores this time of year make me crazy.  Can't listen to them.  It's literally like nails on a chalkboard to me.  So I avoid it as much as I can.  I avoid shopping in stores.  Hooray for the internet!  I've found new music by new or different artists that I can tolerate.  Some I even genuinely enjoy.  It's my new Christmas.

For the past 8 years, tree shopping is like this:  Go to nearest tree establishment.  Randomly pick a tree.  This year all of us went instead of just me and we actually looked at maybe 4 of them before I said "this one" and was done.  This is a huge step!  I really didn't much care.  A tree is a tree.  I didn't always feel that way.  In way, it's made me a much more efficient tree shopper.  I pay the outrageous tree price and we drive it home.  We set it up this morning to warm up.  I dreaded the decorating as much as I was looking forward to it.  It's the acknowledgement that it is that time of year again.  I hate it.  It keeps coming.  Every.  Damn.  Year.

I have this fantasy of a fun family tree decorating 'party' like I used to have as a child.  When you live in a house where Bullwinkle J. Moose is your tree topper instead of a star or an angel, you tend to have lots of fun.  I miss it.  I want to have it with my kids. I have tried for 14 years to cultivate that in my own family.  Every year I fail.

There is always some sort of stress.  The kids don't want to do it.  They won't hang their ornaments.  They think we're silly for wearing our Santa hats.  They think I'm weird because I have a purple Tinkerbell Santa hat!!  They fight over where to put their ornaments.  It's never what I hope for or imagine.  I have little patience for it but I take a deep breath, sit on the floor, let them attempt to work it out and fight off tears.  I ask nicely if we could do this as a friendly, loving family.  I point out that it doesn't take long.  You should be nice to your mother.  Then, I dismiss them, because they really don't want to do it and it's not worth insisting they do and they gleefully run off.  It hurts, but it is what it is.  Maybe because they are boys.  Maybe because they just don't care.  Maybe because on some level, they feel the same way I do and it's difficult for them, too.  I hang the ornaments.  Remembering when it came into my hands and why.  Maybe it's really the way it should be, instead of my fantasy way.

I have many ornaments.  I put maybe half of them on the tree.  It looks a bit sparse.  It's a respectable tree considering the lack of effort or attention in selecting it.  I step back, in the quiet, and gaze at it.  It is certainly filled with love just the same.  The most meaningful ones are there, nestled in the branches among the twinkling white lights.  The hand made ones by the kids I snuck on after they left the room because they refused to hang them out of embarrassment   The baby's first Christmas ones, with the twins hung together, of course.  A new 'Our first Christmas Together' ornament, a claddagh, as a keepsake of our wedding theme and one to remember our honeymoon by.  There are the crocheted snow flakes my beloved Gram made.  There are ornaments from my youth and gifted to me over the years.  Those kitties Meg hung her last year alive, every year we hang them in the exact same spot she did.  It makes me smile.  The memorial ornaments for Meg we get every year at the Compassionate Friends Candle Lighting ceremony.  The Merry Christmas From Heaven ornament gifted to us by the Funeral Home.  Then, there are all the Tinkerbell ornaments.  Meg loved Tink.  So do I.  Every year, there is a new Tinkerbell ornament in her stocking on Christmas morning and her twin brother hangs it on the tree.  We have a whole lot of pixie power in our tree!  There is even pixie dust!  The angel is hung.  I found her at a craft fair the year Meg died.  She is lovely and folksy.  She looks perfect as the guardian of our memories.

As I sit here now and reflect upon it, perhaps my mistake is in having expectations about the tree.  Perhaps having expectations about anything related to the season at all is a mistake.  Even if those expectations are positive.  I should know better.  Triggers are triggers.  Some you know are coming, some blindside you, but the impact on you is the same.  There is really no preparing for it.  There is no ignoring it.  Well, there is, but it will only manifest in another way.  It is what it is.  I will always feel Meg's loss more strongly this time of year.  It's the anniversary of her death concurrent with a major family holiday.  A recipe for a bittersweet experience under the best of circumstances.

This is where I must pay more attention.  Remember how I was told Meg gets upset I don't pay attention to her?  I made the mistake of focusing on my grief instead of being fully present in the moment.  Now I feel Meg's presence.  She's much happier now.  :-)  I know she was there with us when we were decorating, but I was too wrapped up in my disappointment and grief to recognize it and acknowledge it.  I wish I was more aware in the moment.  Note to self...

I will try to be.  The next several weeks are the most difficult for me of the entire year.  It is fraught with triggers.  I am embarking on an emotional roller coaster that must be experienced as it is.  A combination of joy and sorrow.  Of what used to be and what is now.

Now, every day, I can look at our tree full of Pixie power and  memories and smile.  When the lights sparkle, it will remind me of her light.

I think, after some reflection, for the first time in eight years, I'm happy to see a Christmas tree in my living room.  It's pretty.  It smells like Christmas.  The cats like to sit under it.  It makes me smile. And it's a testament to my journey.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How I got my baby girl back

This post has been a difficult one to write.  It's been a full week of processing.  It's a challenge only in that it's difficult to put into words the experience.  Alas, I shall try.  All I ask of you is an open mind.

I often marvel at how the Universe seems to provide for us in ways that cannot be anticipated or even imagined.  Some may say these occurrences are 'coincidence' or 'wishful thinking'.  I do not believe in coincidence.  The hows and whys of that are too complicated and numerous to expound upon here.  Suffice it to say, I do believe everything that happens is connected to something that happened previously and will be connected to the future in some way.

There are gifts in every experience be it perceived as good, bad or indifferent at the time.  Perception, pre-conceived beliefs and fear can all cloud the lessons or gifts in an experience.  Living life with an open mind and an open heart is key.  Scientific theories have been proven wrong before.  Or maybe it's that something that is metaphysical or spiritual can actually co-exist with science.  Many of these experiences cannot be explained, even by science, yet have been experienced by scientists.

First, a bit of background and food for thought.  My family is one that is spiritually 'gifted'.  There are members of my family that could be considered, no, who ARE psychic or at the very least, highly intuitive.  Many others are simply spiritual and open to the fact there is a connection between 'heaven' and earth, between those who have left their bodies in physical death and a belief that their energy, soul or essence lives  on in another space and time.  Some are able to communicate with these 'people', some even see them.  Others feel or hear them.

Believe what you will, but respect that this is a very real thing for many people.  Some know they have a spiritual gift but are afraid of it or don't understand it.  In order to understand this post, you must be open minded and respectful of what I am about to share, regardless of your personal beliefs.

Many people with these 'gifts' do not speak of them with others, especially those not open to the possibility.  Those with the gift, or at least those open minded to the possibility, almost universally believe that whatever is meant to happen will happen and it is all part of a spiritual journey.  We do tend to run into each other in our 'travels' however.  A community of those looking to understand and ultimately, who seek only peace for themselves, their families and the world.

I have a gift.  I am clairvoyant at times, but mostly clairsentient.  I am highly intuitive.  I always have been.  I *know* stuff but it's always a feeling.  It's not clear cut like a billboard message.  I cannot tell you the winning power ball numbers, though I wish I could.  It scares the living crap out of me sometimes and I turn it off.  I ignore it.  Which is unfortunate, because it takes a lot longer for me to arrive at answers that way.  It also makes for 'dis-ease' or an emotional feeling I can't explain until I pay attention to the information and do something with it.

At other times, I am open to it.  I could provide countless examples of personal experience, but this is not a book!  Just take my word for it and when I write the book, you can read the rest!  :-)

I alluded in a previous post to the butterfly effect.  As you know if you know me or have read my blog, I lost a daughter when she was 3.  She was a twin.  Her twin brother, by the way, is also clairvoyant and psychically gifted.  I saw it after she died and I've seen it ever since.  He doesn't talk about it directly, but indirectly in things he says or the questions he asks.  He's beginning to embrace it more.  I wish he could tell me more about his experiences when he was younger.

Meg's death sent me on a journey that started with diving into my faith for about a year.  I was raised Catholic. I sought solace in the church.  I didn't find it there.  For the first time I really paid attention.  I thought about the readings, the recitations, the same-ness of every mass, the dictatorial fear based teachings. It felt cult-ish.  The teachings were in direct opposition to many of the experiences I was having.  I found it difficult to speak out loud for the words were no longer truth to me.  For the first time in my life, I realized the teachings of the church did not resonate with me because I *knew* in the depths of my soul it was not all true.  At least not for me.  I eventually rejected it and embraced spirituality rather than religious doctrine.  I sought to make sense of my experiences.  I read, I received lots of body work, I read, I wrote, I became Reiki certified, I discovered the joy in living life in the moment and in not having expectations.  It was freeing.

Many things happened along the way.  I got divorced.  I met this guy.  We eventually started dating.  We got engaged.  We got married!  Why?  Because is was all absolutely the right thing to do and at exactly the right time.  We somehow knew each other on another plane energetically.  It was just meant to be.  And so it is.  He is a self-proclaimed agnostic and man of science.  He tolerates my spiritual beliefs and pursuits but he doesn't 'buy' them because he, himself, has not had the experience.  He has become more open-minded in the years that we've been together and is interested, but wants hard proof validated by science.

He got his first dose of experience the day he realized people can send/receive energy to each other through my gift of Reiki to him.  He became more open-minded.  He carries the crystals I gave him in his pocket every day.  Perhaps not so much because he believes it will make a difference, but because he knows it can't hurt.  Besides, no one knows they are there.  Except you reading this now, of course.

The more profound realization came the day he proposed.  He *felt* his grandmother's presence and said so with a bewildered tone in his voice and tears in his eyes.  I said, 'Of course you do, she's right there with my grandmother'.  To me, it's as obvious as the sun in the sky.  It just is.

Fast forward six years from when I met this guy, who is now my husband.  In his wedding vows to me, he tearfully mentioned that if he could, he'd reach into the heavens and bring Meggie back to me, even if it meant we wouldn't ever have met or be together.  He's said this many times in our 6 years together.  I think every one of our guests had a tear in their eyes.  I didn't cry, but only because I knew this already.  It's sweet and he means it.  We both know it can't happen, and maybe it somehow was all part of a 'contract' we agreed to before incarnating in this life (if you believe such things) but the sentiment is beautiful and full of love.

In my vows to him, I mentioned how the first time I looked into his eyes, I recognized his soul and knew we were meant to be together.  I thanked him for helping to mend my broken heart and bring the color back to my life and that of my boys.  Not everyone gains a step-angel when they marry.  :-)

We made many choices along the way, individually and together that brought us to last Saturday. If it were not for those choices, it might never have happened.  Of course the simple spiritualistic belief is that it was exactly what was supposed to happen.  The path was there, we just needed to choose it. Here is my best attempt at explaining it in terms that make sense.

We had plans with the boys for last weekend.  One on one time for them with us and they had been looking forward to it for a long time.  We were also hosting friends Saturday evening.  Earlier in the week, a friend had told us about a serendipitous meeting with a very gifted intuitive healer.  She and her family had sessions with this woman and she said it was incredible.  Out of the blue, she asked if we were available on Saturday as she thought, knowing some of our 'issues', we could all benefit from a session if the healer was available and it worked for us.

He looked at me sort of wary and asked me what I thought.  In a heartbeat, I said 'We should do it'.  He asked why.  I explained because it was meant to be.  He hates that!  Still, I left it up to him. Something about it resonated with him, and we rearranged our Saturday to see this earth angel.  Everyone but me was sort of skeptical.  I was told I should go first.

It was a profoundly amazing experience, even for me.  This woman knew nothing of our family other than we were friends of the person who connected us (who she had met literally a few days earlier), I was a Reiki practitioner and we were open to the healing.  Keep in mind, not everything she said during out time together resonated with me, but I was open to the experience and the information and just let it unfold.

I lay on the massage table, took a deep breath and closed my eyes.  She put her hands on me and said something about Pleiades.  She said I am from there.  That may be another post entirely.  It didn't fully resonate, I'd never been told this before, but it is what it is.

Immediately she said something to the effect of "oh, oh my, oh.... honey... oh my, so strong... your heart... it's so very, very broken... oh, sweetie, what happened?"  Impressive.  Really. Is it that energetically obvious?  I told her simply 'My daughter died'.  She fixated on blood.  Lots of blood.  She asked repeatedly if it was hers. I said no, absolutely not.  Not external, not internal bleeding.  She questioned, sort of to no one in particular, "someone in your family...murder?  Has anyone been murdered?" No, not to my knowledge.  "Oh, it's you, you were shot... in a previous lifetime... by a lover, yes, definitely a lover.  Someone you have had a relationship with in this life.  Were you in an abusive relationship?"  Hmmm.  Interesting information.  Resonates with dreams and visions I've had during energy work where I sensed that scenario.  I really didn't say much about it other than "Huh, interesting..."

She moved back to my broken heart.  She said she sensed quite a layer above it.  A wall.  A very tough and well woven wall, protective.  I am living from the wall around my heart, not my true heart.  Fear, pain, it blocks my ability to truly heal and live from my heart.  This is not news to me.  Probably not even hard to guess based on the prior information she received about the death of Meg, but she was right and maybe, just maybe, she could help me break it down.  I want that.  I really do.

She also made note of a hole in my solar plexus.  Not entirely off base, but surprising.  Perhaps I've built a wall there, too?

What happened for the rest of the session was nothing short of energetically amazing.  If you are familiar with energy work, she helped to break up that wall with visualization and energy balancing.  I swear to the heavens I could feel it.  It was a bit surreal.

She said Meggie wanted to know why I can't see her, why I don't pay attention when she is tugging at me trying to get me to see and feel her near.  Answer is simple.  Not ready.  Odd, I know.  You'd think I'd want to see her, want to feel her.  I was much more open to it in the days and weeks after she died, and I did feel her.  Strongly.  I'm much more comfortable with the symbolism like the heart clouds than I am with actually feeling or seeing her presence, although at times I am aware of it.  I'm afraid it would be too painful to truly feel her and certainly to see her.  I can't handle the pain.  It hurts.  Too much.  Integrating the spiritual with the physical loss hurts like hell.  I don't want to feel it.  I know the only way out is through, but dammit, it scares me. I was able to say that out loud, and be heard.  It was... freeing.

She said it wasn't her time to die.  It wasn't supposed to happen that day, that way, but a portal opened, she saw the light, she had to go to it.  She was not destined to live a long life, not more than 5 years the healer said, and her death would still have been tragic, but it wasn't supposed to be then or in that way.  This also resonated with me on some level.  She said she was reluctant to cross over, she didn't want to leave, she knew it wasn't the right time, except she had to, she wanted to know what she did wrong.  This resonated less with me, the part about the crossing over, the part about her not knowing.  I really feel she has crossed over but comes through the veil at will.  I may not always notice, but I do feel it happens.  Others see her.   Literally see her.  Or get message from her.  They are not crazy people, either.

The healer asked Meg to hold my hand and to let her know when I felt her tiny hand in mine.  At first I had a flashback of holding her in the ER after she died, examining her beautiful little hands.  Then I felt a tingle in my hand.  A slight weight. I did. Wishful thinking?  Does it matter?

She asked Meg to lie with me, head on my right shoulder, snuggled up to me (where she always snuggled, same side, same way!) and to tell her when I felt her there.  I DID!  I really did.  Was it memory?  Was it wishful thinking?  Was she really, energetically there?  I felt the weight of her body, or a weight, not her full 28 pounds, I felt the energy.  I *saw* her in a way I can't articulate.  I cried silent hot tears, although I was unaware of it at the time.  The healer said she was tired, she just wanted me to feel her, to hold her.  Ok.  I can do that!  Can I lay here forever like this??? Please?

She spent the next I don't know how long connecting Meg's energy to mine, infusing it with my heart.   I felt it.  It was fascinating and amazing.  I tried not to let my rational mind in on the experience, I just wanted to feel, to let it unfold.  It felt as if the darkness that was there, in that wall covering my heart was becoming brighter, a little ray of light was coming through.  It was warm and tingly.  It was love.  In my mind's eye I saw the most brilliant white and glowing light I've ever seen.  I smiled through the tears.  I felt my baby girl in my arms, in my heart. I really, really did!  Then I started to sob.  Huge, heart wrenching, whole body shaking sobs (and yes, I'm crying now as I write this), a tremendous release of pent up grief, of joy in finding her again, at least energetically, of thankfulness for the tremendous gift I had just been given and in marvel at the Universe for leading me to her this day.  I felt her, I really felt her!  She was back.  Back with her mommy.  Not in body, but in spirit.  The healer and her assistant sobbed right along with me.  The light in my third eye was almost blinding but so, SO beautiful.  Such peace filled my body, my heart, my soul.

There are no words to truly describe what it felt like.  No words to express the depth of my gratitude for the gift I received that day.  It didn't end there.

My boys both got a session as did my husband.  The boys were profoundly impacted as well.  My oldest surprised me not only by being open to the first session, but by willingly and almost excitedly going back for a second the next day.  For someone to be able to reach him on a spiritual and personal level his HUGE.  My youngest, Meg's twin, got validation of his psychic gifts, and also reconnected with his sister.  My husband also received a gift of healing, but he hasn't said much about it.  Nor have the kids.  I know it was beneficial for all of them.  I know it was exactly what we all needed.  I am so grateful for the gift.

We were invited back the next day for a bit more work.  We went.  My session was shorter and focused on opening my very stubborn third eye and reconnecting energy meridians.  It was fascinating as I could feel where the energy was stuck and without saying so out loud, the healer correctly identified it, cleared it (OMG, that was amazing, as if I could feel her hands inside my body pulling out the 'gunk') and helped to balance it.  Chakras connected.  Meridians cleared.  Aura fluffed, dosed with sparkles and sealed, with Meg's energy intertwined with mine.  Tears again.  I emerged with a sense of balance and peace I've not known in a long time, if ever.

It matters not whether or not it makes sense.  If it's 'real' or not.  It was healing on many levels.  It was what we needed.  Individually and as a family.  Such a gift.  It couldn't have been planned.  It could not have even been wished for, for I had no idea such a gifted person was in our midst.  That what I experienced was even possible or needed in that way or at that time, if at all.

It was realized, and said out loud by observation, that if not for the series of life choices and events that transpired to bring us to each other, then to meeting this particular friend who then met and led us to this amazingly gifted earth Angel, that I wouldn't have received the gifts I did.  My gratitude is so difficult to articulate.  Thank you, Universe.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you for all the people in our lives that led us to that day.  Thank you for the beautiful earth Angel named Christina who helped to heal my entire family.  I am so blessed.

Remember Joe's wedding vows to me?  Last Sunday, November 18th, it was said to me during my session and realized in my heart, that Joe DID bring Meggie back to me.  No, not physically, in the sense he meant for he wanted to prevent it from ever happening in the first place, but energetically.  He gave me a gift of healing and connection I might never have otherwise received.  He brought my baby girl back to me, to my heart.  She is part of me.  I'd lost her in my grief.  He helped me to find her.  He accomplished the one thing he desperately wished he could've done for me and without even realizing that's what he was doing.  Maybe that was why we ended up exactly where we needed to be last weekend.

What is it about the number 18 and that girl???

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Feathered Friends

"Look at all the birdeeeeeeeees!"

I can still hear Meggie exclaim one of her favorite phrases.  Whenever she saw a bunch of birds, she would get all excited, point at them and demand, in her very Meggie way, that we look at all those birdies!  She loved the birds.  Their colors.  Their movement.  Especially when they'd flock together and land in our yard.  It was hard to tell who was more excited, the cats or her!  Of course if we were outside, her exclamations would immediately scare them off, prompting a petulant "Where the birdies go?!"

I guess it's not at all unusual she loved birds.  One of my first memories as a child was my mother sitting by the window in our little apartment house in the wee hours of the morning.  I was maybe five or six.  She'd have her bathrobe on and a cup of tea in her hand.  There was a little nook where the radiator was.  She'd sit there every morning on the kitchen chair and watch the birds.  She would tell me their names.  I was fascinated there were so many types of birds and that she knew their names!  Who knows this stuff?

As I grew up, I remember how she loved those birds.  She always had a gazillion feeders and she kept them filled year round.  In the winter, the first thing she'd shovel was not the driveway, it was a path to the bird feeders!  By then, we'd sit by the window together, in our bigger but still modest home and watch the birds, along with the family cat(s).  I learned their names and could identify them myself.  My father made up silly names for all of them.  My favorite to this day for the woodpecker is "little pecker red head".

My uncle Dino had a way with the birds, too.  He knew them all.  He knew stuff about birds even my mother didn't know!  He had a gift with them.  They'd have all this bird conversation no one but they understood.  He was the hummingbird whisperer. To this day, whenever I see hummingbirds, I think of him.

My mother's best friend was an expert on birds of prey.  She knew everything about owls.  I've taken an interest in them over the past few years.  I love hawks.  I am fascinated by owls.  I'd love to watch bald eagles.  They all seem so wise, so graceful, so peaceful.  OK, until they attack their prey, but even that is the circle of life and amazing to behold.

When we were in Ireland a few years ago we took a 'hawk walk'.  We spent 90 minutes with an expert in Harris Hawks during our stay at Ashford Castle.  Just the three of us and two hawks.  It was absolutely amazing.  It was the highlight of our trip (apologies to Paul and Kara, whose wedding we were there to attend.  It was an amazing wedding, but OMG, the hawks were a dream come true for me).
We learned so much about them and even watched them hunt.  They flew freely to and from us (for raw meat, of course) and when they passed us walking through the woods they were absolutely silent!  I could've spent all day with them!  This is a squinty-eyed picture of me with my hawk.  Look at those talons!!

We also visited a bird sanctuary in Ireland.  These were a few of my favorites.

Now, one of my favorite ways to spend a morning is to sit by our bay window with the cat or my youngest son and watch the birds.  Cup of tea in hand.  Most enjoyable as the sun rises and warms the earth and the cat and I through the southern exposed window.  I have several feeders throughout the yard, most in view of this window.  I spend way too much money on bird food.  It's fascinating to watch them flit about.  To observe which birds prefer which type of seed.  The work it takes the chickadees to get a sunflower seed, fly to my lilac bush (right next to the window) and repeatedly bang it on a branch until it breaks.  Repeat.  Over and over.  I love how 'tuft', the tufted titmouse, comes to the window feeder and has learned the cats cannot get it through the glass.  I swear, the bird torments the cat on purpose.  It's hysterical.  I now know their names and refer to many of them by my father's 'pet' names for them!  My youngest son loves to sketch them.  He has an amazing talent for drawing birds.  I enjoy photographing them.

OMG, have I turned into my mother!?!?!?  :-)  Fear not, I will never shovel a path to the feeders.  I may trudge through the snow, however.  More likely, I'll just open the door and toss handfuls of seed on top of the snow.  I'm kinda lazy like that.

It's meditative in a way.  If you watch them, it's soothing.  The way they communicate effortlessly.  They look out for each other.  Well, the little ones seem to have a clique to oppose the bully blue jays and crows, or 'lawn chickens' as my mother refers to them.  They even line up on the deck railing to take turns at a perch! The way they glide through the air with graceful arcs.  They seem to be having fun.  There is a sense of playfulness.  Their ability to transcend earth and sky.  Watching the hawk glide and circle and then perch high in a tree. The epitome of wisdom and grace.  The way the parents share equal responsibility for making the nest and raising the young, giving them flying lessons and motherly bird scoldings for their own safety. I find watching them brings a sense of calm and peacefulness.  It always makes me happy.

Then there are the wild turkeys.  Oh, they provide much laughter.  They wander through the yard.  They munch on seed on the ground or berries.  They literally try to jump to reach the ones beyond the stretch of their neck.  Often clueless if they just moved a few feet in either direction, there were some in easy reach.  They wander in circles.  They chatter.  It's just fun to watch them.  Even though they ate some of my flowers!

When the flock of brown headed cow birds flies in and lands in the yard or I see all those birds lined up on a wire somewhere, I hear a little voice that exclaims "Look at all the birdeeeeeeees!"  I smile. It reminds me of my Meggie.  It gives me hope she has 'wings' now, too.  That she can fly effortlessly transcending earth and sky into eternity.  I'm sure she'd be a pink bird.  With sparkles.  ;-)

Our feathered friends have much to offer us in bird wisdom.  The importance of flocking together.  We do need our family and friends to survive in life.  It takes a village...The importance of building a good and safe nest or home.  The importance of family and working together to raise the young.  Most birds are monogamous.  The importance of singing and using your voice.  Finding a wholesome meal to give us energy to survive.  The fact that we are diverse in size, shape and color  and even perceived beauty, yet we can coexist peacefully and even look out for each other.  The reminder that we can be both grounded on the earth and touch the skies, perhaps not physically as humans, but certainly spiritually.

Sometimes, it's the simplest of things that provide the most joy and insight.

What have you learned from the birds?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Not worth it

It's black Friday!  Sounds sort of morbid, doesn't it?  In a way, it is.

I remember when the day after Thanksgiving was a big deal.  My dad and I would get up at *gasp* 5:30 am and drive to Caldor and Bradlees and Lechemere for their big early bird opening at 6 am.  We'd actually get really good deals on things we wanted to purchase anyway.  We even got free gifts!  I love free gifts!  We'd be home by 9 am.  No crazy lines.  No camping out.  No impulse buys.  No retailer tricks of 'doorbusters' that are more expensive than previous sales have been!  We went with a list.  A practical one.  We had a limited budget.  We hated crazy crowds.  There really were not any back in the 'olden' days.

Every year the lure of retail bargains encroaches ever closer to the holiday.  The Black Friday sales and advertisements have gotten crazy.  Earlier and earlier openings on Friday.  4 am.  3 am.  1 am.  midnight.  Now some stores opening on the evening of Thanksgiving!  Enticing shoppers with amazing doorbuster deals for the first hour or two only.  People literally showing up hours if not days ahead of time by the hundreds if not thousands with lists, store maps, teams of family and friends ready to scatter and fight for the limited stock of the best deals.  Advertising is starting days ahead, with pre-Thanksgiving doorbuster sales and sneak peeks at what's coming for Friday only.

I get it.  I fell for it.  A few years ago Target had a particularly good black Friday sale with several items I wanted to purchase.  They were opening at 4 am.  I had not been shopping on black Friday since I was a teenager so I showed up at 4:15, thinking no problem and I'd not have to wait in line.  There was not a single wagon available!  There was already a checkout line 3/4 of the way around the main aisle of the store and with most of the registers open.  There was no room to get down the other aisles with a wagon there was so much extra stock and sale items just stacked in random places.  Most of the sale items were already gone.  I literally walked in about 50 feet, looked around and walked out.  Got in my car.  Drove home and went back to bed.  Totally.  Not.  Worth.  It.  I swore I'd never do it again.

I went back about 4 pm.  The store was empty.  3/4 of the non-big ticket items were still available.  Some of the 'doorbuster' deals were not, but I later found them for the same or slightly more cost elsewhere and with no hassle.  The rest, it turned out, were still on sale the following week.

I understand why some people love it.  It's tradition.  It's wild and crazy.  There are good deals to be had and when you are on a budget, deals are worth fighting for.  FIGURATIVELY.  Some people have to work on the day after Thanksgiving so the wee hour of the morning shopping opportunities are the only opportunity they have to take advantage of the sales and deals.

I've noticed the deals are not as good this year as in years past.  In fact, several of the 'doorbusters' are no less than the store's regular price or more than recently advertised sale prices!  They are taking advantage of the public's desire to *think* they are getting a deal.  It's not about helping you save money, it's about helping them make money.  That's why it's called BLACK FRIDAY.

Back when I used to shop with my daddy, we didn't have a computer let alone the internet.  We only had the Sunday paper with the sales flyers.  There was really very little comparison shopping or research that could be done.  Now, you can shop the same black Friday deals at the stores from your computer.  Many of the sites offer free shipping, though not all.  Another change from years past.  Now, there is Cyber Monday.  A whole new way to hype. This appeals to me only in that it is my preferred method of shopping, no matter what the day of the year is!

Given the fact I don't like shopping anyway and Christmas time is a huge trigger for me, I avoid the stores like the plague this time of year.  I usually have my shopping done by now.  My choices are thoughtful and sometimes rather outside the box.  I don't mind paying a little more for a peaceful shopping experience.

Instead of the commercialism and hype, how about supporting a local business?  Tomorrow, Saturday, is small business Saturday.  Spend your money locally.  Visit a store in your community.  Perhaps on something hand made and meaningful.  Something purchased with love and forethought.  Supporting your local community and neighbors instead of the outsourcing of products and manufacturing to China and other countries where labor is cheap and at times done by children.  Visit a local shop.  Visit Etsy.  Attend a craft fair.  Perhaps make something yourself!

Don't lose sight of the fact, the greatest gift is not the most popular one or the most expensive one.  It's one from the heart.  It's the one you get when you see the recipient's appreciation and thoughtfulness in your choice.  It's the gift WE receive by GIVING.  It's not about the material object.  It's about the fact you cared enough to choose something thoughtful and unique.  The old adage that it's the thought that counts.  It really is.  It shouldn't be about expectation.

Some of the greatest gifts, are not even 'gifts' in the traditional sense at all.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks giving

I am filled with gratitude this day and every day.  The reasons for which are far too numerous to list.  Suffice it to say I am grateful for the abundant blessings in my life.  A wonderful family and extended family.  Our health.  Our fantastic friends. The fun we have together.  The food we share.  The love we share.  For every minute we have together.

I could go on, but I am not particularly grateful for the virus that has inhabited my body this day.  I shall go lay in my cozy bed and rest like my body is telling me to do.

I hope you had a Thanks giving filled with family, friends and gratitude for all that you have.

Please send a thought or prayer to those who are not as fortunate.  Perhaps while you are shopping on line or in the stores you will pick up a gift for Toys for Tots or some extra food for the local food pantry or perhaps something to send a solider over seas.

Count your blessings.  Hug your children.  Say I love you to those you love.

Oh, and enjoy your leftovers!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A wee bit homesick

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  A day that makes me nostalgic for the days of my youth.  Going to the high school football game.  Coming home to a house full of family and a delicious abundant and never ending feast.  Squeezing some 8+ people into a tiny kitchen where a table for 4 barely fit was nothing short of a miracle in and of itself!

Of course in the 25 years since I left home and went off to college, things have changed.  I married. I moved to another town. I had children.  All but one of my grandparents have died.  My parents eventually moved to Florida.  My grandmother and aunt followed them.  I got divorced.  My sister got married and has a family of her own.  I got remarried.  My family and extended family has changed quite a bit over the years.

Despite having a family of my own, I long for a good old fashioned Thanksgiving.  The way it used to be.

My husband, my boys and I are running a 5K in the morning, aptly named the Gobble Wobble.  It's in my hometown.  There are plenty of Thanksgiving 5K's around and some closer to where we now reside, but this is the one that resonates with me.  It's in familiar territory.  It begins at my old elementary school.  It re-connects me with memories of my childhood.

Today I went to pick up our race packets.  The recreation center is housed in my old kindergarten center.  Funny, the building looks a lot smaller than I remember.  ;-)  As I drove through my hometown I reminisced about growing up there.  The library, the schools, the cemetery where my grandparents are buried, the Saturday morning breakfast place, streets where my friends once lived and so it went.  I was a bit melancholy by the time I made my way home.

I can't recreate Thanksgivings past.  The best I can do is attempt to run a 5K in my hometown instead.  It's as close to coming home as it gets.

When the race is over, I shall come home, put the turkey in the over and assume the position as matriarch, at least of my household.  We shall give thanks for all that we have and all that we are.  My sister and her husband and my nephews will come over and join us.  There will be way too much food.  We will re-live and re-create moments from our youth.   We will Skype with our parents.  We might even fight over the wish bone.  We are creating our own traditions that maybe, someday, my boys will look back on with fond memories, just like the ones I have of my own childhood.

Now, to sleep!  I must be well rested to run, walk or wobble as the T-shirt says!

Wish me luck! I'm hoping it earns me extra pie!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Best laid plans

It's 6:12 am.  I sit at my computer.  In my jammies.  My head is cobwebby.  The cat is staring at me because her food dish is empty.  My wakey tea is not doing it's job very well, although it's warm, which is somewhat helpful.  The hum of the dishwasher is my white noise.  It's dark outside.

I do not want to be sitting here.  I want to be in my bed.  Cozy, warm and asleep.  I want more sleep!

Instead, I forced myself to get up.  It wouldn't be so bad, for I usually enjoy the peaceful time in the morning while the rest of the house sleeps.  As of late, that just hasn't been the case.  I'm usually literally up with the sun.  This time of year I just don't begin to function until the sun has risen and it's light has touched my eyes.

Instead, I drag myself reluctantly out of bed.  It's time for the morning battle.  The one where I nag my teen to get up and out of the house on time so he doesn't miss the bus.  It's a stressful half hour for both of us.  Followed by nagging the tween to do the same.  Somewhere in between the nagging, I need to shower and get myself organized and ready for work.

I made the mistake of looking at the calendar for today.  It's crazy.  I had carefully planned my day with little wiggle room for unexpected things because I really had no choice.  Work requires me to be in Boston this afternoon until 4 pm.  In the middle of hospital mecca.  It could be a challenging drive home.  At least 90 minutes. I need to fetch the tween, get him home, feed him and get him to soccer, in the opposite direction for 6:30.  I have barely enough time to do so.

Then, this morning, the teen tells me he's staying after school for a soccer party.  I was unaware of this.  No, not entirely true.  I remember seeing something about the possibility of it but never a confirmation.  While a small victory he remembered BEFORE the end of school today, this is not a good day for such a surprise.  Now, in my afternoon where there is no wiggle room, I need to go in the complete opposite direction to get him.  A full hour round trip that I do not have the time for.

It means there will be no time to come home and feed either of them before soccer. I have no idea where I will find the time to feed them.  Drive by pizza?  It means instead of coming home and working on his physics project like he planned to, he will have to come to soccer with us.  It means my afternoon just got way more chaotic, complicated and stressful.  It means my morning just got a bit more compressed because I now need to be sure I have everything everyone needs when I leave the house this morning for work, because I won't have time to come back to get it.

I want more sleep.  I want another arm.  I want a cook, house cleaner, personal shopper and wife!  I want more hours in the day or fewer things to do in those hours. I want a clone of me!  Whoa.  THAT is a scary thought.  What if there were clones we could take out of the closet to do stuff for us and then put away?  I want the ability to teleport.  It'd be so cool and most helpful to be able to be in two places at once, maybe even three.  One of me would be in bed, one of me would be working and one of me would be writing that damn book.

I feel badly whining.  In part, I created the mess that is my day today.  I could say no to soccer, except it's a commitment.  I could say no to the soccer party, but that's not fair.  I could say no to work, but yeah, I kinda need to work.  I guess it is what it is.

Being such, I should stop writing about it and get busy on getting out the door.  The teen is on his way.  *sigh* he went upstairs instead of out the door.  Will he ever be able to do this without me being his clock?!

Now, to dislodge the warm, purring and content kitty from my lap.  Don't wanna.

I am SO coming back as a cat!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The butterfly effect

Have you ever had a sense of 'right timing'?  Or the sense of being in the right place at the right time but none of it making sense until that moment?  Only in that moment, in retrospect, does all the seemingly little or otherwise insignificant things that came before it suddenly make sense.  

Have you ever made a choice because you *knew* it was the right one, even if it was completely inconvenient, unplanned or out of character?  Even if your rational mind was trying to talk you out of it?  Were you surprised at where it led you?  Was it to exactly what you needed?  Perhaps without knowing it was what you needed until you were there?  

Every day we make hundreds of choices.  Some of them are conscious and deliberate.  Some are made without our conscious awareness.  In our lives, the choices we made range from the benign and insignificant to the tremendously profound and life changing ones.  Some we'd rather not have to make at all.  Some, are seemingly made for us.  Or are they?  

In the same vein, people come into and out of our lives in many ways.  Some are family members, with us for  life or at least for as long as we or they live.  Others are friends who may be with us for only a short time before the friendship changes and moves on, or they could be our BFF's, perhaps for a lifetime.  There are our teachers, our co-workers, the people on the bus or train or plane, the wait staff at our favorite restaurants the clerks at the stores we shop and the list goes on.  We have a relationship with each and every person we interact with.  

All of our choices impact the next ones.  As the butterfly effect illustrates.  A simple change can drastically alter the outcome.  The future.  Perhaps even your life.
Have you ever stopped and thought about how your actions impact another person?  Have you ever realized how their choices impact your feelings?  Your actions?  Your energy?  How do those relationships make you feel?  Do they nurture your soul?  Do they frustrate you?  Is there a lesson there for either/both of you?  

Sometimes, people come into our lives with a purpose beyond the obvious.  Maybe they will be the one who has the connection to the 'right' person for the right 'thing' or time.  Maybe they will be the one to help you learn and grow in ways you hadn't imagined.  Maybe they will be a catalyst for you to embrace your calling or make a necessary change.  

My life is full of these circumstances.  People who have had a profound impact on my life.  Who were able to give me tremendous gifts.  They were not necessarily gifts wrapped with ribbons and bows and happiness and love.  Some were gifts disguised as painful relationships, losses and challenge.  Others were amazing and full of love and light.  

I was blessed to have yet another experience of being led, through a series of completely unrelated experiences over the past few years, to not only exactly what I needed, but to a gift my husband and boys needed too.  We were all so blessed to have been led to this gift by whatever you might believe drives the gears of life.  It was all realized this weekend.  

I'm still processing it, for it was profound.  Once I get it to the point at which I can articulate it, I shall share.

Until then, the message is to be aware.  Know that every single person you interact with has information for you.  It may be via spoken word, a glance, an energetic exchange or an observation.  Know you have information for everyone you interact with.  Remember, you don't know why they are behaving or dressed the way they are anymore than they know that about you.  Don't pass judgment.  Just be present.  Be aware.  Be mindful.  Be open minded.  Just be.  

Oh, and listen to your intuition! 


Last night I had the opportunity to teach a multiple birth private childbirth class.  It's a specialty area and one I really enjoy teaching.  It was a very informal one, which can be ideal.  It's such a wonderful gift to the parents to be able to go to them.  It's so important to allow them to get the questions that are important to them answered, something that happens in a group class, but also includes a set curriculum and order of presentation and often includes information that doesn't pertain to everyone.  Those with a sibling have a different educational need than those having their first babies. Having a class all about you, personalized to your needs is such a gift.

It's early enough in their pregnancy that they have time to digest and process the information, for it can be overwhelming.  This is so important!  They will have time to read all the material I left with them, watch a few DVD's I loaned them and formulate questions to ask their OB and themselves in preparation for the transition from a family of 3 to a family of 5.  I made myself available to them for questions or information anytime.  I shared a lot of information in a few short hours.  I always worry it's overwhelming.  I know it's nothing compared to having newborn twins and a pre-schooler, so I guess it's good practice.  ;-)

I had the added gift of teaching a very excited big brother a little bit about his new baby brother and sister.  I showed him a micro-preemie hat and diaper and a newborn hat and diaper to show him why, although he's awfully excited to meet them, that they really need to stay inside mom for a few more months.  He just laughed.  A lot.  :-)

It re-awakened in me the realization that I LOVE teaching.  I miss it.  I wish I could do it more often and have the time to do so.  That's not where I am in my life right now, but I sure wish I was.

It, as it always does, reminds me of my twin pregnancy and birth.  The gifts of the experience of twinship that parents, siblings and the twins themselves are blessed to have.  It's bittersweet, for I was robbed of the full twin experience.  I also know that twinship trancends death.  I see it in Meg's twin.  The connection persists.

Still, I feel passionate about helping families through their own twinshock and  transition to parenting twins.  I know it's something I am called to do.  There is so much to know and understand that just is not shared in the mainstream medical community.  The real-life, practical you have choices and here's what they are aspect of care and parenting is what parents really want and need.  I trust those that need me to do so for/with them, will find me.  I can only hope it is helpful for them.

It is such an honor to be invited to facilitate the journey of a couple on their way to parenthood.  I am blessed.  Twincerely blessed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The power women hold over men. Or...He danced with me! He danced with me!

We women.  Amazing what we can get our men to do.  Equally amazing how early we use our superpower.

Today, I thank another woman, because he danced with me!  My eldest son.  Yes.  The teenager.  The one who schleps around with his head hung.  The one who comes to the dance studio and plays with his iPod the entire time.  The one I forced to dance with me for 30 seconds at my wedding and it was such a challenge. The shy, easily embarrassed  gross motor challenged one!  Last night he danced with me!  Several times!  Granted, for a few seconds here, there and everywhere, but he did it.

It wasn't because I wanted him to dance with me.  Nope.  It was because his girlfriend came and SHE wanted to dance.  Ah, the power we women have over men...

They wanted to see each other.  The don't go to the same school or live particularly close to each other as they met at summer camp.  I suggested she come to our dance studio party and they hang out there.  There is music, food, fun people and the opportunity to learn a new dance or just dance freestyle.  She had been briefly once before and was clearly interested, so that was my suggestion.  And so it was.

There was a beginner Bachata class.  They took the class!  They did really well!  K even looked like he was almost enjoying it after he figured out the timing and the feet.  She was in heaven because he was touching her in dance hold!  It was cute.  But then...we had to switch partners!!  He got to dance with the other women AND HIS MOTHER!  HA!  Ok.  So I back led.  But he did it!

Later in the evening we used that Bachata for a group 'circle' dance.  They both participated!  He danced with me again as he spun by.  We learned a Samba line dance and they both did that!  One of the other instructors showed them the basic Rumba and they did that together.

My youngest, who loves to dance and knows many of the basic steps to many dances did his favorite, the tango, and a cha-cha, rumba and foxtrot with me.

By the end of the evening, they both looked like they were having a really fun time.  By far, the youngest dancers there.  K and his girlfriend learned how to have fun in a new way, they learned some dance steps and it didn't cost them a penny.  They didn't seem overwhelmed by the presence of so many adults, although granted, many of us dressed for the "used to be cool" theme, so it was sort of like Halloween and well, it's hard to feel 'threatened' by adults in wigs and 'old' clothes.  I was especially excited for K, because this was huge for him.  He was able to put aside his shyness and his fear over not being able to 'get' it to make his girlfriend happy.  When he saw how much fun she was having, he relaxed and had fun, too.  He may not admit it, but I saw it.  :-)

I was thrilled to dance with my son.  I was thrilled to see him enjoying himself in a new way.

And, oh you men...  The things you'll do for a girl...

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's not always what it seems.

Fridays are crazy busy days at work.  I don't have time to spin my wheels on things that are inappropriate. So when I heard a nurse I spoke with yesterday about a patient who was inappropriate called a colleague today with the same referral I was a bit confused and annoyed.

Yesterday I had a lengthy conversation with a doctor's office about a patient they referred.  He was not appropriate.  I told them why.  Not my rules, he just didn't meet admission criteria.  Not even close.  Today they called again, spoke to a colleague and asked again for a home evaluation.  The story had changed.  His wife had apparently called tearful and upset that he needed all this help. She (my colleague) happened to call me to ask for help and to take this referral as I was geographically closer and happened to have the time where she was busy at the time, and I explained he was not appropriate and why.  I agreed to take it on to help her, especially since I was familiar with the situation and had the time.  Giving the benefit of the doubt, maybe things were different than they were described yesterday, I drove 45 minutes to their home to do an on site evaluation.

His wife was wound like a top and over the top anxious when I arrived.  She was waiting at the door pacing for me to arrive.  Practically in tears and going a zillion miles a minute she ushered me in to her husband.  The phone rang while I was talking to him and she snapped at the person on the other end and hung up.  Then she literally had her hands on her head and in her hair pacing the hallway, muttering about Israel.  She was angry.

OMG! She was worried about her family and friends in Israel with the tension in the area building!  She feels powerless to help them. And her husband had been home and in increasing pain for weeks and needing her help to get dressed and he is unable to help her around the house.  She feels powerless to help him.  She is overwhelmed.  Neither of them were sleeping or eating well.  The stress was getting to her.  He was tired, in pain and depressed.  He told me the whole story.  Quite a delightful man with a horror story of sorts of his medical woes of the past few years.  It took about 15 minutes to realize I was right, he was not appropriate.  Not that he didn't need medical care.  Our facility was just not the right place for him and he didn't meet our admission criteria.  I explained other options.  I called his doctor.  I facilitated another option.  He will get what he needs.  They both cried.

I then spent a good 40 minutes sitting and talking with them.  It occurred to me I wasn't summoned there for the purpose of spinning my wheels.  I was chosen to go there because they needed to be heard.  To have things explained to them.  Face to face.  To have their frustration acknowledged and witnessed.  They needed to vent.  They needed to be reassured.  They needed to know they were being heard.  Only then were they able to listen to what I was saying.  We talked about him, his experiences, her, her experiences with health care, what they loved, what they hated, why they wanted to come to our facility so badly and why they were so upset they didn't qualify.  We talked about their other choices and how to advocate for them.  We talked, briefly, about Israel.  We talked about the importance of his wife taking care of herself so she could be there for him now that there was a plan.  We all took a deep cleansing breath.  She cried again, this time, much calmer.  They were tears of relief and gratitude.  I damn near cried with her.  Instead, she reached for my hand and squeezed it.

I excused myself.  As I walked out, I was very aware that the energy in that home had changed significantly from when I walked in.  My energy had changed.  I knew my purpose in going there was far beyond that which the situation originally called for.  I knew why I ended up being the one to go instead of my colleague.

It was also a nice reminder.  If you need to be in a hospital for anything serious or that is not able to be 'solved' by your MD, GO TO MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL!   That was a message for me from the Universe, validating something else entirely.  But timely, nonetheless.

I am grateful.  For being able to facilitate what they needed.  For the reminder to myself to resist making a judgement.  For the validation about MGH.

It's not always what it seems, but it is always what it needs to be.  No matter what "it" is.

Ask, and you shall receive.

Note:  due to technical difficulties (a finicky internet connection) this is technically yesterday's post!

I've been struggling as of late with a few issues.  Who hasn't been?  I know.  We all do.  Sometimes I forget the tools I have available to me and within me.  When I remember, that little bell in my head goes *ding*!  Of course, then I think, "Why didn't I think of that before?"  Ever had that experience?

As a parent, we want what is best for our children.  When they get to be teenagers, what they think is best for them does not usually gel with what we think is best for them.  They, of course, think they've got it all figured out and we, clearly, don't get it.  Throw in hormones, attitude and adjustment issues, pre-existing and unresolved 'issues' and holy cow.

What it boils down to is a wonderful opportunity for growth and learning for both of you.  Knowing your child, what makes them 'tick', how to reach them vs. drive them away and how to effectively communicate with them is so important to maintaining an open relationship with them.  Easier said than done, as most things worth doing are.

My teen is struggling a bit.  I'm sure we all did at this age, although thanks to me ever progressing dementia, I can't seem to remember very clearly if I was like this.  I'm sure I was and I'm my parents do remember!  Seeing him struggle is painful for me.  Knowing a host of issues that are unresolved or complicating his ability to 'get it together' and not being able to effectively facilitate his ability to process and integrate all that into the person he wants to be and is capable of being makes me batty.  Having my efforts at helping him ignored, forgotten or simply being ineffective makes me sad.  Finding the balance for me, helping him find is, is far more challenging than I'd imagined. No, that's not entirely true.  I guess I imagined this day would come, I was just hopeful we'd somehow get through this phase easily.  It's not easy.  It has never been easy.  For either of us.

It's become apparent for reasons beyond the simplistic that he, I, we need some help navigating this sea of change.  After struggling internally for a long time, and after some focused thought, meditation and falling back on good old intuition, it finally dawned on me there are at least two close, trusted, knowledgeable people in my life who are tremendous resources.  Duh!  I told you, dementia.  Not kidding.  Well, that and the fact it's hard to see the forest through the trees when you are in so deep and so emotionally invested in nurturing a particular tree in it's growth.

So I reached out to them via email.  Both, although tremendously busy in their own lives and with their own issues to deal with, responded virtually immediately and with more support and information than I could have hoped for.  They echoed each other.  They echoed what I knew I should do in my heart and head.  They helped me to re-realize what I already knew, organize the information, put it together with my intuition, pull back out of my immersion in the situation and look at it more objectively.

The whole experience reminded me how important it is to step back and listen.  Listen to your gut.  Follow your intuition.  Seek assistance in clarifying the swirl in your head.  To look around you and reach out.  It's OK to ask for help.  It's OK to accept help. How often do I say this to other people?  Hello Kim, take your own advice!

So I called his pediatrician.  I love her.  She is so right for us.  She knows us all well.  She knows because she cares.  She's been their pediatrician nearly their entire lives save for about a year and a half when we switched for a short period of time.  She listens to a mother's intuition.  She listens to her patients.  She has an amazing gift of being able to engage the kids.  We've taught each other things and grown together as parents.  Watching her grow as a doctor of children has been nice for me, too.  She was a new pedi when my oldest was born.  She cared for the twins.  She came to Meg's wake.  She *gets* it.  She called me back quickly, in the middle of the day, even though I told her it was not urgent.  We talked for about 20 minutes.  She asked what my gut was telling me.  She offered her professional opinion, asked questions, brought up points that hadn't occurred to me that were so important because she knows my children so well.  We came up with a plan.

That plan was basically the same one I knew in my heart I needed to implement.  It was the same plan echoed by my resourceful peeps.  We all had the same general idea of why he is struggling, how to help him, and help me, get back on track and in a way that is hopefully empowering for him.  My pedi was able to take all that, refine it, throw the medical piece into it, roll it all around and lay out not only a plan but the best way to implement it based on known personality and physiological traits unique to my son.

So of course, I wonder, why didn't I think of this sooner?  The answer is probably as it always is.  It's because it wasn't the *right* time.  That, and because I didn't ask.  The Universe really is kind like that.  Ask, and you shall receive.  It may not be immediate.  It may not be exactly what you thought you wanted to receive, but you will receive.

I am grateful.

As luck would have it, last night the Universe threw more information at me via an impromptu conversation with a friend.  THAT, shall be for another day.

Now.  To implement the plan.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's in a name? Apparently, identity theft.

People are funny.  Their opinions on things, and the emphatic nature in which they choose to express said opinions, never cease to amaze me.  One person recently rendered me temporarily speechless in a mouth agape,dumbstruck look on my face sort of way by her comment to me in a group discussion about my recent wedding.  Someone asked if I planned to change my name.

I recently re-married.  I opted to change my name.  It was not a decision I entered into lightly.  Largely because it's a major pain in the ass to change your name as a middle aged well established adult.  The list of who needs to be notified and provided what set of documents is longer than my arm.  It's hugely time consuming and at least in the passport department, costly.  I know.  I've done it three times now...

I found it surprising so many people had such strong opinions on the matter and felt compelled to give me their advice.  Sort of like when women feel compelled to tell you their birth story in an attempt to one-up the last person's story.  It was mostly women, but some men also expressed their thoughts on the matter.

Most surprising, was that most people said "Don't do it!"  When asked why, I usually got the "It's such a pain in the ass" or "It's old fashioned, no one does that anymore" or "Why don't you hyphenate?"  What shocked me was the woman who said "I hate it when women do that (change their name when they marry).  It's like giving away your identity!  Why would you do that?!"  [Insert dumbstruck mouth agape vision of my face here].

Really?  Changing my surname is akin to giving away my entire identity?  I'm pretty sure I look the same, sound the same, get paid the same and function the same as I did before.  I didn't hand over control of my mind, my body, my finances or my 'stuff'.  I have the same SS#, credit card numbers, phone number, even address!  I simply chose to change my surname.  I gave away nothing but my love.  Hello?!

I'm guessing she had a bad experience.  Maybe she gave away HER identity and is bitter?  Maybe she just has control issues in a woman vs. man world?  I dunno, but she clearly has an issue with it.

So, this is a question I've been asked often.  Do you wonder why I chose to change my name for the third time, the second time in 4 years?  (I took my first husband's name, re-claimed my maiden name when we divorced and now have taken my new husband's name).  The answer really is simple.  I changed my name for two reasons.  Because he really wanted me to and it was important to him and because I wanted to.  I wanted to because it was important to him.  Because I am proud to be his wife.  Because this time, I didn't do it because it was expected or tradition or a 'status' thing.  Sure, it's a royal PIA to do.  Sure, I have better things to do with my time.  But hey, now I'm Italian!  :-)

Seriously, the bottom line is that this time, I did it because it was right.  Right for me.  Right for us.

In the end, right for me is all that matters.  Whether it's a name change, a new sweater or a life decision.  It's all about me, selfish as that sounds, there it is.  I wanted it.  I did it.  If I didn't want to do it, trust me, I wouldn't have, no matter how much he might have wanted me to. Another great benefit of being in your 40's, independent mindedness.

What did I say to her?  Once I picked my jaw up off the floor and shook my head in dramatic fashion, I laughed and said "Um... because I wanted to.  I gave nothing away, it's about what I gained."  She looked bewildered and went on her way.

Got my new driver's license in the mail today.  Kimberly Amato.  Yep.  I like it.  And not just because the picture is good!  :-)