Good Grief

As some of you know, after Andy died I didn’t run away from the pain. I embraced it, somehow intuitively knowing that was the only way I was going to get through it. It’s like the bear hunt song I have referenced before….can’t go over it, under it or around it. You have to go through it.

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Meditation guru and all around soul-sister-genius, Pema Chodron, calls this “leaning in.” That is to say, when you “lean into” the pain, it allows room for healing. Whatever that means, I have experienced it as truth.

But something strange and consuming and exhausting happened after Zach died. I couldn’t find the pain. None of it. Where did it go? The anguish. The grief. For Andy, for Zach, for their consecutive deaths, my consecutive heartbreak and the end of the life we once knew.

I knew that this grief was close, so close that in certain moments I could feel it, as if tripping over my own foot in the dark. In other moments I could hear it echo ever so quietly, like a shrouded whisper, but coming from every direction.

It was lost. I was lost. I needed to find it. And myself. Or just a tiny piece of both so that I could begin to heal and move forward once again.

I registered for a “Transformational Grief Retreat” at a peaceful sanctuary of a location nestled in the healing energy of southern California’s gorgeous Ojai valley.

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Even if I didn’t have the intention of finding my grief, I would have found some healing anyhow. The villa we stayed in was surrounded by nature: squirrels running and birds chirping their calls while the trees and bushes rustled in the very mild breeze. It had a large hot spring sort of soaking pool, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a yoga studio and so many other details you will just have to trust felt like shangri-la for your soul. I probably drank 20 cups of tea, each one warming parts of my heart that had been frozen…completely numb…for months.

We had our own personal Ayurvedic chef whose loving, healthful and living meal creations helped us heal from the inside out. The kitchen was the central force in the villa’s great room, so for much of the day we were soothed and enchanted by the sounds of his chopping, stirring and humming. Our senses came alive as the herbs, spices and ingredients came together into these nourishing works of art. And I probably don’t need to say what an absolute treat it is for a working mama to be cooked for and served 3 exquisite meals a day. Like I said, just being there for 2 days would have helped me in so many ways.

But then there was the company. The fellowship. The weekend ended up being all women—the most extraordinary group of women. In just 48 hours we became deeply connected, united by our individual and collective grief experiences. We cried a great deal but laughed almost as much, and I think both healed and bonded us equally. Our first evening together was spent making introductions and small talk while enjoying our first meal. Then the energy shifted completely as we broke ourselves open one by one, sharing as much or as little about the loved ones (and their stories) that we had come to grieve. It was a consuming, depleting and yet powerfully connecting experience. Sleep was welcome as we all wondered what tomorrow would bring.

I started the 2nd day with a healing massage and reiki session by a wonderful master Reiki teacher. I was on a heated massage table outside, underneath a beautiful oak tree with tiny warm rays of sunshine peeking through. Lying on that table, just yards away from everyone else but protected by my blanket and the practitioner’s healing hands, I felt both fully exposed and completely safe; this was actually how I felt the entire weekend. This session was wonderful and helped loosen me up physically and emotionally for the the work I was about to do. Tension was released and space was made within and throughout my body.

We then went on to do nearly two hours of gentle, effective and healing yoga. It was therapeutic, cathartic and revitalizing. After the yoga, a hot shower and a delicious lunch, I was ready for some solitude and set out to hike on nearby trails. At the end of my hike, I felt a huge shift inside of me. It was familiar; it felt hot and suffocating and like it might never end. I had found the pain again. I think I had finally made room for it in my mind and body, and it was oddly welcome because within it I discovered a context and truth I had been denying myself for months.

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I am keeping that part ambiguous because I need to. I am still in it, living it, breathing it and processing it. It was indeed a breakthrough and it hurt(s) like hell.

But the miracle and the beauty is that I found my broken heart in the safest place…amidst a dozen others. No one else was in my shoes or had losses quite like mine, but my companions for the weekend held that space for me to just drop into the ache. And we all knew full well it wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The rest of the weekend was filled with more soulful discussions about everything from our process and experience to our beliefs about the afterlife. We did more yoga and meditation. We ate. We cried. We laughed again and again. And we lit candles for the beloveds we had lost, honoring them and completing our weekend together.

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The whole thing was nothing short of extraordinary. I didn’t leave feeling refreshed and restored like I have on other retreats; in fact, I left feeling like crap. But that’s okay. The point is I left feeling. And that is what I set out to do.

When I described my experience to my husband, he said, “it sounds like you found a foothold.” And I did. For myself. For the pain. For what I need to do and where I need to go right this moment.

The whole weekend was an exercise in “good” grief. The best grief, in fact. It let us embrace a natural and undeniable process that takes us to hell and back. I am not back yet, but I am deeply grateful to be on the road again.

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***My heartfelt gratitude goes to Claire Bidwell Smith and Thea Harvey for facilitating this incredible weekend. And much love and endless thanks to each one of the beautiful women who shared their hearts and grief with me.***

Cloudy with a chance of MEATBALLS

Beginnings 4

I wanted to spend this week holding space for my beautiful brother and his memory. For the powerful imprint he has left on our hearts.

Healthy, happy, goofy Andy. Age 16

Healthy, happy, goofy Andy. Age 16

I wanted to raise awareness about the illness that claimed him.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to write as much as I did last year, but I do still feel I have accomplished all of those things.

There is one more story that I wanted to share, though. One that makes you think about what you really know and believe. One that will hopefully remind you about how awesome this crazy journey can be.

It’s a story about love knowing no bounds and crossing the lines of time and space.

December 2008: Annual cookie baking in Redlands. I am so glad someone captured this memory and shared. I had forgotten about it; now, it's one that I cling to.

December 2008

If you look hard enough and listen long enough, you will find overwhelmingly credible accounts of people who remain connected to their departed loved ones in a real and physical way.

I have always wanted to believe these stories, and never more so than when I lost my own brother, but my brain likes to outsmart my heart. It was hard for me to truly embrace the idea of life after death or paranormal communication with those who have passed on.

Just within our own family’s experience, there are dozens of examples of these small and strange phenomena occurring in our house and among family members.

From belongings of Andy’s being there one minute and then gone the next…and then back somewhere else a few weeks later. There were also moments we swore we could smell him. Or hear him. There were even times in the early months when lights that were on in the house went off, and vice -versa.  As creepy as this might seem, it never felt scary or intimidating. (I could actually recount each and every incident for you, all of which might enhance the credibility of my story…but it would also become very long and maybe a little tedious. We don’t want that=-)

However, even though our broken hearts wanted to believe these things “true”, I guess there could have been some other explanation for them as well.

Andy knew we needed something bigger. Something beyond what our brains could explain away.

The first “meatball encounter” was during the summer of last year: July 2012. It was a bizarre, but fairly isolated incident (though now I see it set the stage for what was to come). Who knows…maybe there were more signs and I just wasn’t “tuned in” enough. Regardless, this was a very big DOT on the pathway of connections I needed to make.

One day, upon arriving for a visit to my dad’s house, I immediately checked the refrigerator to see what was there (a common “homecoming” habit, I believe). It was mostly empty, but I saw a package of Trader Joe’s Turkey meatballs in the freezer and made a mental note that those could be a quick and easy snack for Aidan later. I then went to put Lainey down for a nap and also fell asleep. Mike was with Aidan when I came back upstairs awhile later. When I opened the freezer again, the meatballs were gone. The empty package was sitting on top of the trash.

No biggie, I thought. Mike must have prepared them. When I asked, he said he knew nothing of said meatballs. Aidan also didn’t know and couldn’t have prepared them.

I was so weirded out that I called BOTH of my parents to see if either of them had stopped by the house during my nap to have a meatball snack. No dice.

Insert musical clip of Twilight Zone music here.

It was weird, but just out of context enough for me to forget about it.

In November, we took a family vacation in Hawaii. It was wonderful and difficult, stressful and relaxing all at once. We did send some of Andy’s ashes off to sea and I found a particular cove where I felt Andy very powerfully. But nothing out-of-this-world (except maybe this photo of the cove which is kind of amazing).

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The only truly strange part in all of this was that after we returned, my dad got a call from the owner of the condo we had rented while we were there. She asked if one of us had left a leather journal. Not really knowing, but realizing it could have been any of us, my dad said “yes” and asked her to mail it back to us.

He was absolutely blown away when he opened the package to find the journal he had given Andy around the time be was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. My dad had not seen that journal since he gave it to Andy 3 years ago. None of us even knew it existed and certainly hadn’t brought it along. All the way to Hawaii.

Do you have goosebumps yet?

Furthermore, it didn’t have much written in it, but what was there added to our understanding of Andy’s journey. Wow, right? I know!

So now fast forward a few months to early 2013.  I had just started my job at the church and our schedule became so packed that I began doing bulk cooking on the weekends to save time during the week. One of our favorite go-to meals is very simple turkey meatballs.

Initially, I kept noticing that when it came time to eat them, there seemed to be fewer than what I had made, but I wasn’t keeping track and couldn’t be sure.  After this happened for a few weeks in a row, I became slightly irritated/curious and questioned each family member to see if they had taken any meatballs. I was met with an overwhelming NO.

Hmm.

So then I actually started counting. And sure enough, about 3 meatballs started disappearing each week. Some tiny part of my brain wondered, “Could it be…?”  and KNEW that indeed it could. But then another part said, “Noooo…it couldn’t be…could it?” And the two parts wrestled back and forth.

Then I hit a busy spell and didn’t  make meatballs for awhile. Around that time, I was feeling sort of far away from Andy. I wrote this post at the 18 month mark. Later that night, I was in bed reading when I heard a huge crash upstairs in the kitchen above me. I quickly ran upstairs to find the cover of our blue (Andy’s color) ceramic/cast iron Dutch oven lying upside down (and chipped from the fall) in the middle of the floor. Mike had been working in his office and heard the crash too. He came rushing in to see if I was okay and I told him I thought HE had gotten hurt. Mike explained that he had actually finished washing dishes about a half hour before and placed the Dutch oven upside down on the stove to dry–far back enough that it would have taken quite a force of nature to throw the lid across the room like that. Force of nature indeed!

In that moment, I realized what was going on. I also felt this supernatural wave of familiarity and recognition wash over me. Goosebumps. Hair standing on end. I had never felt Andy so close–I knew he was right there. I immediately burst into tears and just stood there, trying to soak in the feeling of having two dimensions collide. I was a little bit sad, but mostly SO very happy. I then got his joke, started laughing and said, “Okay, okay.  I’ll start making meatballs again!”

In case you are wondering…Yes, Andy loved turkey meatballs.

I will say that the noticeable disappearing meatball incidences dwindled after that. But I understood already; that invisible line had been crossed and he had made his point. And I am so grateful Andy knows me well enough to have done it in a gentle, funny, yet undeniable way. To let us know he is here, always. And that he is more than okay. Gone to our immediate, physical senses, but never really far if we take the time to connect.

Every now and then, I will notice some rotisserie chicken missing (one of his favorites), and just the other day, I was taking out a couple slices of uncured turkey bacon (Andy LOVED bacon) to make for the kids’ breakfast. I knew I had used two slices the day before when I had opened the package. And what do you know? That day there were only 3 pieces left. I turned over the package to check the number of servings, 8, and quickly did the math. Just to be sure, I asked the family if they had eaten any. They had NOT.

So I stopped for a moment against the stove, enjoying the goosebumps. I shook my head a bit, smiled big and long and said,

“Hi Andykins. Love you too.”

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The Answer

Tonight is a sort of vigil for me. I can’t help but to mark time…to think…2 years ago tonight, Andy was still alive.  Yesterday was my birthday and today, for me anyway, marks the day he left us. Thinking about tomorrow hurts too…the day we found out, but I’m actually going to share a post tomorrow that I hope brings the tone back to the realm of love and hope. Because those are the things I want to keep closest to my heart when I think of my brother. All of the other stuff too, yes…but the love most of all.

I actually dreamed of Andy last night; it was only the second clear and focused interaction with him in my dreams since he died. It was so wonderful…such a surprise…and once again I got to hug him big and deep and cradle his face in my hands.

As I keep vigil tonight, I think of my brother as he began his journey to the other side. As he left us and went up into the mountains to wrestle with what I can only imagine was the most tortuous of hours. A few months ago, I was thinking deeply about this time for him and what it must have been like. In response, the following piece of writing just spilled out of me. I am not a poet AT ALL; it’s just not how I write…but I still like to read this because it captures the biggest questions for me…as well as the only real answer we will ever have.

The Answer

What whisper came upon you

When you fell to your sleep?
What coiled angst planted itself
against the earth that night?
Did love and fear and isolation
release themselves
as you inhaled everything you were
and let go?
Exhaling every torment, every doubt
and trusting the swift hand of time
to carry you on.
Or was it all or nothing?
Did the madness eclipse your Light,
your Soul, your Self?
For a moment were you borrowing fate,
trusting nothing but the End?
Or was this mapped out long ago?
Carted, woven and seamed by One
unseen but ever known.
Was this written in the stars, across our hearts and in our blood?
Did it echo in our laughter? Did we know it in our tears?
This sorrow our baited destiny,
unfurled so that pockets and furrows and crevices deep within us
could open and grow and flourish.
 No matter the answer,
the question itself both affirms and denies
that which we think we know as Truth.
 We are left in the deep trenches of uncertainty,
bolstered only by the promise of love-everlasting and time-eternal
and a faith, that someday again
we can delight in the sweet solace of You
Andy and me...in our happy place.

Andy and me…in our happy place.

Stigma

Elementary Years 5

Sweet, silly Andy…young, wild and free.

Today’s post to my Facebook community:

“If you missed my post on Monday, I am speaking out this week during Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Tonight, I am humbled thinking of all of the men and women out there, right this very moment, living in absolute hell as they struggle with mental illness. Many of them may be receiving treatment and fighting their way back to functionality, but many more live in hiding. Live in shame. Live in tormented despair because they don’t know how to get treatment…or treatment is not available to them…or they are so ashamed or so afraid of what it will all mean to actually get treatment.

Of those who DO seek treatment, many feel they cannot share their illness or struggle because it will be perceived negatively within their relationships and workplaces (that also might be a gross understatement).

In my opinion, living in hiding or shame is not living. This is not okay.

Right now, if you can, try saying “mental illness” out loud. It might seem silly, but take a moment to say something like, “Oh, my friend (so and so) is mentally ill.” or “I struggle with mental illness” just to get a feel for how your body responds. There’s something about that combination of words that makes us cringe a little. Or more than a little.

Now take a moment to think about what you really THINK and BELIEVE about mental illness. Is it all real? I mean Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia, sure, but Depression and Anxiety? That’s got to be sort of made up, right? Or temporary? Life is hard for everyone, right? People who say they are majorly depressed or anxious need to buck up and deal like the rest of us.

Now, obviously I am generalizing and making a point. I would not presume that any of you actually feel or think this way. But some people do. I confess that even after EVERYTHING we have been through and everything I know to be true, I still associate a certain amount of stigma with particular mental illnesses. How’s that for honest? I acknowledge that this stigma has been built into my consciousness just by being human in this day and age.

THAT’S WHY I AM SPEAKING OUT!

Facts you may not know about Mental Illness:

• One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million
Americans−experience mental illness in a given
year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious
mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression
or bipolar disorder.
• About 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental
health and addiction disorders.
• One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age
of 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective
treatment, there are long delays−sometimes
decades−between the first appearance of symptoms
and when people get help.
• Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion
in lost earnings per year.17
• Mood disorders such as depression are the third most
common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both
youth and adults ages 18 to 44.18
• Individuals living with serious mental illness face an
increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.
Adults living with serious mental illness die on average
25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to
treatable medical conditions.
• Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S.
(more common than homicide) and the third leading
cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years. More than 90
percent of those who die by suicide had one or more
mental disorders.

Here is a link to last year’s post about suicide and mental illness. It’s a good one.”

Remembering

On the evening of August 28th, at the end of my husband’s 39th birthday, we got a call letting us know that his son, my beloved stepson, had been killed in an automobile accident. In that moment, the world stopped. Our world stopped, again.

It is WAY too soon for me to really write or reflect much on this tragic and befuddling loss. But I will say that in the moment I found out, it felt like my Andy-grief was blown up into the atmosphere, like the top blown off a volcano. Not gone or replaced or anything like that, just displaced and sort of far away. And everything else is just SO intense.

Every day is a day to get up and choose not to go down the rabbit hole. To put one foot in front of the other and keep trekking.  To focus on the love in our lives and to be grateful for every second we have with those that are still here. Every day we miss him and mourn him and can’t believe he is gone.

And now, somehow, October is upon us. And yesterday marked the beginning of Mental Illness Awareness Week. The same week we observe the 2nd anniversary of Andy’s death.

I keep in touch with a very small group of people on Facebook. I intentionally made it small so that it would feel safe and like community for me. The following is what I posted tonight announcing my project for this week:

 

December 2010. Our last decent full family photo.

December 2010. Our last decent full family photo.

 

“I am taking some time this week to bring my focus and attention back to the young man at the center of this photo. My sweet and sorely-missed baby brother…our other beloved angel, Andy.

We are just a week away from the 2nd anniversary of his death and also, interestingly enough, right at the beginning of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Strange timing? Or strangely perfect? Either way, this week I am going to stand up on my tiny little soapbox and do my best to spread some awareness. While also stopping to remember Andy. And also sharing with you a little more about this journey (now incredibly complicated and compound) of grief and healing.

Some of you may have noticed that we did not hold the 2nd annual Friendship Festival yesterday as we had planned. I am sure you can understand our reasons, but we hope you will all still consider joining us in February 2014 for this VERY special event that will be all about love, compassion and “creating a kinder and safer world for those living with mental illness.” That is the vision of the newly created 501c3 “The Andrew Wade Friendship Foundation.” We are OFFICIAL!

Now back to my brother and his story since he is the inspiration for it all. This family Christmas photo was taken just a few months after he was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It was a shaky and uncertain time. A holiday of second chances and unspoken truth. We had no idea that less than one year later he would be dead. That he would fight like hell to regain balance and maintain his dignity, but to no avail. That ultimately, he would succumb to a fatal brain disease that claims the life of 20-25% of its victims via SUICIDE.

In this photo, we also had absolutely no idea that last statistic even existed. Did you?

So here we are. I have spent the last year after the 1st deathiversary trying to get to know my brother more. To get to know his illness. To understand mental illness in general. To be able to make “The Andrew Wade Friendship Foundation” something worthy of its name.

If you are new to this story or missed my blog project one year ago, you can read my 10 Posts in 10 Days leading up to the first anniversary.

http://lisadevine.com/2012/10/06/10-posts-10-days/

I hope you will join me this week to light a candle (or a virtual one) for all of those we have lost to mental illness and for all of those who currently struggle in whatever way. I hope you will join me in raising awareness and increasing our understanding of these brain-based illnesses that impact MILLIONS.

I also hope you will keep reading.

With love and gratitude,
Lisa”

7

Writing Through the Cracks: Another 6 months later

Today is 18 months.

Really?

A year and a half. It’s actually harder for me to believe six whole months have passed since my 10 posts in 10 days. Time marches on. Or, more accurately in our house, races by like a bullet train.

Over these past months, life has been a blitz of energy and productivity. I have started a dozen blog posts, but have been unable to finish any of them. This is partly because my anniversary project took all I had left. I desperately needed to rest and restore. Hibernate a bit through the winter. Now, most of my energy and time is spent building this new life. Spring has indeed sprung.

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Lovely and inspiring things are happening. Everyone is moving on in a new way. And, of course, holding on in other ways.

The truth? My truth?

I’m still bleeding love.

Right now, this very minute, my grief feels both pervasive and immense.

There’s the now status-quo heartache. The inchworm approach to recovery. The up and down ebb and flow.

There’s also new stuff. Life coming at you hard and fast. When those deeply beloved to you are missing. Suffering. Deteriorating. Dying. And you just have to bear it.

Then there’s the world around you. Loss. Is. Everywhere.

One thing this last 18 months has done is opened up my Susie Sunshine eyes to the world of profound loss. Tragedy. Unimaginable pain. Out there at any given moment.

I am blown away by how extraordinary people are in their most horrific and vulnerable moments. How far grace carries us. How much we endure. Everyday, in my life, in my ministry and thanks to the internet and social media, I meet new people. New heroes. Pilgrims bearing so much more than I could ever imagine. Not that grief should be measured or compared–gracious NO–but some people go through so much it is beyond what I can yet comprehend. I peek into their pasture and am absolutely positive I would die if I had to do the same.

But that doesn’t seem to be how this all works. Somehow, we make it through.

My heart just feels so tender and worn simply living day to day, seeing how loss devastates at any given moment.

For example, last month a man I went to high school with lost his baby in the most agonizingly beautiful way.

I am also still reeling in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. I have been almost unable to process it; I just can’t fathom so my brain and heart get all twisted up in empathy and heartbreak over the horror. The innocence lost. The families forever broken. And the mentally ill man behind it all.

And anytime another suicide hits the news, it takes me back in time and I suffer that anguish all over again in certain parts of my body and psyche. Then I remember a little of what it’s like to get washed over in that supernatural light. That healing balm from another dimension that carries you for awhile. It graciously gets you through the initial blow and then fades away leaving you beyond raw and totally empty.

Sometimes, it’s all just too much.

I hate that I am getting used to not having Andy here. It is a loathsome reality.

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Mostly because “getting used to” is the only phrase I can think of to describe it all, but it is not even close to accurate. Acceptance can be a quiet and harsh phenomenon, moment by moment.

There is just so much that’s been lost. I hate that 80% of the time it’s hard for me to see the glass as half-full, though God knows I am trying. That used to be so easy for me. I also hate that there is a smattering of family and friends gone too. Not dead, just absent. Likely because they don’t know how to be with me or with us…anymore. It seems easier to just avoid us altogether.

I miss them. I miss my life. I miss feeling excitement and joy that doesn’t have a huge hole in it.

I also greatly dislike the more than nudging feeling that we may have passed the point where it is acceptable to grieve publicly.

Fortunately, I don’t really give a crud about those societal standards or innuendos and I’m going to keep writing and grieving and feeling it and sharing it. I can’t NOT.

One of my great heroes and all-time favorite writers, Anne Lamott, just shared this on her Facebook page:

Don’t let anyone tell you ever that you are supposed to stop mourning and missing people you’ve lost. What a crock. Our beloved people are forever…Leonard Cohen wrote that there are cracks in everything, and that’s how the light gets in. Stay cracked; don’t let people shame you into using caulking.

Goodness, I just love her. She writes this about the father she lost nearly 35 years ago.

Not that anyone is actually telling me it’s time to stop mourning. There are many platitudes about how your loved one is “always in your heart”, but in time there is also this feeling that it’s time to get your poop in a group and focus on something else. It’s an annoying feeling, like a mosquito you keep swatting at.

Friends, I am learning that grief really is part of our human journey. I mean an integral part. A constant. And not like a marginal constant. Like a main player. Most of us have experienced it on some level, but if it hasn’t yet broken you beyond imagining, you can pretty much bet that at some point it will. That in and of itself seems like a very dismal future to live into, so I understand why it makes people uncomfortable.

And we humanoids naturally withdraw from that which makes us uncomfortable. Like a contagion, we will avoid it like…well, like our life depends on it.

On the other hand, there is amazing bounty in embracing the following truth:

This is supposed to be hard. Life is supposed to be this brutal.

It is part of what we are designed to bear. It is part of how our souls grow. And though it seems strange, the brutality actually forces us to love bigger. Love better. Try harder.

Truth?

This scares the you-know-what out of me! Knowing this. Hearing these other stories. The consecutive losses and multiple traumas. Sometimes, it feels a little like I am clinging to all of the sweetness and love and joy in my life while constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Again. Terrified and wondering who or how or when. That if I am embracing the spiritual truth behind the challenges in our lives, I am somehow opening myself up to the possibility of even deeper anguish.

Lord, have mercy.

All of that is, primarily, fear-based thinking. Perfectly natural and part of the process, of course. However, you’ve probably heard me say that in every moment, I believe we essentially have two choices: fear or love. Fear or Love. Fear. Or Love.

So right now, I choose Love.

Standing in Love, I see that this reality, this painful broken world, is so full of mind-blowing beauty it’s hard not to cry tears of joy RIGHT NOW.

I see that our collective tragedies create a place where redemption can plant itself. Where hope can grow.

Where our stories…our scars…our strength…our survivor-ness…these things heal. They inspire. They transform us at the core. In fact, they remind us of who we really are and what we are here to do.

I think it actually feels harder and more brutal when we DENY that “hard as hell” is actually how it’s supposed to be.

Or when we brush aside our own hardships because “other people have it worse.” Of course they do; that’s the nature of it. But that doesn’t mean your burden is any less. That your suffering doesn’t count.

And when I say you, I mean me. I mean we. Because we are all in this big picture life-thingy together.

You see, friends, I really wanted to write a little update post about how my family is picking up the pieces of our broken lives. I wanted to give you some sunshine and fresh air and a maybe a flower for your hair.

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In so many ways we are picking up the pieces…really we are.

But in just as many ways we are still so so so broken. Such a mess.

Just when something beautiful seems to be created or break free from the mire, something else gets ugly and fractures my love-worn heart. Something else is left hanging.

In spite of it all, what seems to light the way are the moments of grace. The things that make life rich and wonderful like clear blue spring skies; casual and comforting family dinners; children giggling and squealing with glee; spectacular golden light and rare moments of clarity.

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Sitting by the ocean; experiencing kindness, however small or random; extending compassion; giving/receiving kisses; enjoying decadent dark chocolate and holding hands with the people you adore.

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These are the moments we must cling to and savor. We must relish these delicious bits at every opportunity because they will nourish us, fuel us and sustain us.

Because the other inevitable truth, and a more compelling and desirable one than “this is supposed to be hard”, is that Love will triumph. It’s what endures. Forever.

So I think I will take St. Annie Lamott’s advice and keep writing through the cracks. Living through the cracks. Breathing through the cracks.

To let the light…and the love…shine through.

1000 Gifts for December, or 1030 to be precise

So we have been down a computer. I have been down two actually, since I typically have a laptop for work and haven’t had that for over a year. Then the MacDaddy went kaput with a good portion of my Instagram hard copy photos and so I am spectacularly late in posting this. Excuses, excuses. I know.
I only have like 1/4 of the pictures I want to use, but you probably don’t care, right?
And I wanted to post this on like January 1st or 2nd along with a special inspiration for the New Year…but hubs went out of town for 3 weeks (and we joined him for half) so our new year isn’t really starting until we get home this weekend (in terms of freshness and meaning and perspective that is).
So, I will post this now with hardly any pictures and 3 1/2 weeks late because, gosh darn it, I set out to do something sort of cool in 2012 (recording 1000 gifts…moments of gratitude) and I ACTUALLY DID IT. And 30 more. And it changed my life. Saved my life.
So here’s the grand finale…December’s gifts in all of their gooey holiday glory!
922.  The perfect celebration.
923. Pre-winter sunsets
924.  The relief of reaching out for help
925. Friends that are family
926. Homemade cupcakes and birthday tents in a park
927. Decorating the tree as a family. Telling the story of each ornament. Enjoying the small things.
928. Moments of grace
929. Solitude. Craving it. Fulfilling.
930. Late fall evenings. Big skies. Crispness. Holiday magic in the air.
931.  Savoring the memories of my sweet babies. Each milestone. The precious moments.
932. Therapy time with a best friend. Sharing. Healing. Comfort and strength for the journey.
933. Walking the arroyo this time of year. The fresh earthiness after the rain.
934. Hazy December sunshine.
935. Eye to eye contact with Lainey. Connection. Making her laugh. Attachment alive.
936. A special getaway with my boy. Movie. Dinner. Fire. Snuggles. Even tears over missing everyone else. Providing a safe space for him to feel. To heal. Reestablishing the richness of our bond, expanding our relationship.
937. Reaping. After sowing.
938. Holiday Disney magic. Getting into it. Feeling like a kid again. Very few rides or lines. Lots of exploring and enjoying. Such a sweet gift for all of us. Thankful my parents won the tickets and shared them with us.
939. Standing next to Aidan during the holiday parade. Watching his excitement. His cheers and efforts to make eye contact with whomever came close enough parading by. He was enchanted.
940. The hunt for the perfect balloon.
941.  Happy exhaustion. Feet hurt so good.
942. Doing nothing. When you need it most.
943. Most relaxingly fun family shoot in December golden light. Helps when you love the family to bits.
944. Being able to care for my sick babies. Holding them when they need it. Last holiday virus I had a newborn and was only minimally available for my oldest.
945. Cosleeping with sick Lainey. The only way she will sleep when really sick–we are just learning (so grateful it isn’t that often at all). Learning what she needs. Being there. Reconnecting to our earliest days together.
946.  Afternoon walk. Even carrying one and pushing the other. Huff puff uphill. Enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
947.  Bountiful fresh healthy food. That we have access to it. That our bellies aren’t ever hungry. That they are filled with delicious and nutritious meals, on demand. Cooking. Reconnecting with that part of myself that loves it so much whenever I can.
948. Christmas planning. The joy. Inventing our own traditions.
949. Libraries.
950.  Lainey mimics. Our laughs just gets me-she does giggles, chuckles and belly laughs—all different from her own.
951.  Staying calm.
952.  Wintry feeling.
953.  Post rain cool crisp Morning walk. Autumn leaves in trees.  Clouds in sky with blue peaking through. Lovely, peaceful and invigorating.
954. Mommy daddy Aidan date night on the town. Christmas Shopping for toy drive. Sushi dinner. Nativity the Musical christmas play fun. So very special.
955. Weekend sick at home. Forced down time can mean Getting stuff done .
956. Downton Abbey.
957. Aidan’s holiday baking motivation. Making gluten free cookies all by himself. Shaping the dough. Decorating with sprinkles. Watching his pride and his joy.
 958. Art. Creativity. Fun.
959. Cold drizzly nature walk. Enjoying the crispness and beauty of the arroyo trails as a family. Laughing, singing. Adventure.
960. Special dinner out. Soup and salad warms the heart.
961. Checking off the to do list. It is therapeutic.
962. Sunday night—ready for Monday. It’s a good feeling. Relaxed, prepared, excited.
963. Watching my parents enjoy my kids with such relish. Such love.
964.  Holiday preparations. Getting excited!
965. Before bed snuggles with each baby. Varied routines, precious time.
966.  Morning play as I come out of my fog. Smiles and snuggles. The anticipation of what’s to come, the freshness of a new day.
967. Back at OT. Love our time there. Aidan was so thrilled and Lainey had a ball!
968. Afternoon strolls. Catching the Falling leaves. Breathing the cool air. Running skipping and playing.
969. Grief. Ugly broken grief. When the numbness wears off and you can feel the collective pain, the heaving sobs.
970. Praying for peace. Mercy. Redemption. It’s said that where the wounds are…that’s where the light comes in. There must be a lot of light about to pour out. Newtown, we are with you.
971.  Feeding the ducks. Hearing both kids say quack quack quack.
972. Rest. Quiet. Take it where you can
973. Baking with my little man. His independence and excitement. The way he puts on an apron and chefs hat.
974.  The way Lainey observes everything I do. Cooking with her.  How she wants to stir and participate.
975. My version of holiday crafting.
976. Feeding the ducks. Hearing Lainey say duck and quack quack quack over and over.
977.  Treasure hunting for Christmas gifts. Vintage treasure chest. Love. Fun. Excitement.
978. Secondhand book stores. Wonder and the thrill of the hunt.
979.  Stringing lights in a minivan
980. New traditions: holiday car express with cocoa, treats, lights and Liam Neeson reading The Polar Express. Kids in pjs. Fun for all.
981.  Kiddos frolicking in the courtyard. In pajamas. Squealing with delight.
982. Catching up with old friends.
983.  Eggs.
984.  Beautiful fall-now-winter trees.
985. Christmas music.
986. Fun with friends
987.  Graham cracker gingerbread Christmas house.
988. Christmas Eve excitement. Morning preparations. Baking. Wrapping. Love. Warmth.
989. Giant Christmas trees. Bigger than Rockefeller. Crepes. Bubbles. Robot race and a holiday band.
990. Middle eastern food at the tree. A new tradition. Beautiful golden light. Kiddos frolic in chilly sunset wooded bliss.
991. Jammies and a “new” Christmas book before bedtime. Prayers. Excitement. Cookies. Snuggles and sweet dreams. Counting the blessings.
992. Laying out the gifts. Simple and sweet.
993. Pumpkin pie with the grown ups.
994. Sheer joy in the early morn. Quiet fun while opening a few gifts. More fun with Gami and poppa after sunrise. Hot coffee. Familiar music. Tidings of comfort and joy.
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995. Happy birthday Jesus!
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996. Bacon, eggs and fruit around a happy breakfast table.
997. Newness after the rain.
998. Comfort and fun at grandma and grandpa’s. More gifts. Love. Tradition. The bliss of bagels and lox.
999. Afternoon calm. Enjoying new things. Savoring the holiday.
1000.  2 hours of child and distraction free time in the kitchen. Prime rib. Potatoes. Spinach. Bread pudding. Creating a lovely spread to end the day.
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1001. Squeals of delight. Laughter joy.
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1002. Crèche. Oh come let us adore him.
1003. Date night escape. Seafood spectacular. Reconnection. Reality. Relatedness.
1004. Morning glory. Time away. Whatever is fine, just being together.
1005. Treasure hunt shopping. Fun alone.
1006.  Outrageous never before sunset.
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1007.  Colors for days. Melting clouds. Water painted like glass on the sand. Mirror of the sky.
1008. Peace restored.
1009.  Veg out on couch. 3 movies in a row. Rest.
1010. Deep sleep. Morning quiet. Productivity.
1011. Farmers market for greens. Chard and kale. And pickle sized cucumber for good measure.
1012.  Winter at the beach. Cold wind. Rumble frothy waves. Sand whipping across.
1013. Dunes. Finding a spot. Sitting.
1014.   Finding stillness.
1015. Presence.
1016. Coming home. Sweetness. Reconnection. Nesting.
1017.  Essential oils. Soothing. Healing. Restorative.
1018. Hanging on until evening when you are just too tired to do anything else but be.
1019.  New Year’s Eve fire lighting ceremony. Documenting this years triumphs and struggles. Giving to the fire that which we let go. Making a list of that which we wish to embrace.
1020. Ice cream drive!!!
1021.  Happy new year at 7pm. Iceland time?
1022.  Delicious Indian champagne
1023.  Quiet. Jazz. Fire. Laundry. New Year’s Eve Mike and Lisa style.
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1024.  Graham crackers and milk.
1025.  Fireworks in the not very far off distance.
1026. Gentle celebration. Ready for 2013.
1027. Anne Lamott
1028. Warmth. Being able to turn on the heat and snuggle under blankets on a cold winters night.
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1029. Holidays. Tradition. Love. Anticipating. Joy. Excitement. Bustle. Celebration. Letdown. Resolve. The annual cycle of the end of the year experience.
1030. Letting 2012 go. Every surge of joy. Every Tear. Every laugh. Every failure. Every lesson. Resting in gratitude for being here. For every breath. Knowing to whom much is given, much is required. Embracing that, living it every day and choosing love. Moment. By moment. By moment.
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1000 Gifts for November

November was about finding magic. Granted, it’s a little easier when you are on a tropical island, but I was actually quite surprised how difficult it all was, emotionally-speaking. But there was just enough magic (mixed in with the everyday challenges) to create some wonderful memories and allow for a few more stones to be laid down on the path to healing.

So here they are, November’s gifts:

773. Being able to roll with the traveling punches. Maintaining an acute sense of humor helps immensely.

774. Open air airport. Tropical breezes

775. Hawaiian home. Vacation. Respite. Peace. Aloha

776. Macadamia nuts

777. The bonsai trees

778. Lava. Ocean

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779. “Island Style” on the ukelele

780. Watching the first of many sunsets here

781. Finally learning to sense when I need to tend to myself. Before its too late.

782. Pool time. Ocean breezes. Family of four.

783. Sweet baby hands, lovingly stroking my arm

784. Bah oom. (Lainey says balloon—her favorite!)

785. Delicious kona brewery meal. Fun on outrigger

786. White sand beach day

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787. Random meeting and interview with Brazilian midwife filming birth documentary. Contributing to a movement committed to women reclaiming the sacredness of birth

788. Salvage. Fighting for and through a marriage. Focusing on solutions. Knowing there are rough roads ahead and behind and lots of golden moments in between.  Dancing in the rain.

789. Meals on the patio. Tropical sunsets.

790. 6 years of Aidan. Creating a special day for him.

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791. Riding the waves with my family. Actually. Not just a metaphor this time.

792. Playing restaurant in the sandy tide pool. Yummy sandwich and cake.

793. Homemade birthday cake

794. Love fest before bed. Sharing with Aidan how special he is, treasured. Reading birthday messages and looking through pictures of him growing up

795. Snuggles with Lainey anytime, and so precious when we both really need it.

796. The merciful ending to a challenging day

797. Macadamia nuts, again.

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798. Openings after hard conversations

799. Apologies. Forgiveness. Freedom

800. Lanterns. Drums. Plumeria. Balloons. Parade.

801. Salmon. Fruit of the ocean

802. Roald Dahl

803. My daughters huge blue eyes

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804.  Snorkeling with Mike and Aidan. Aidan holding my hand as we floated over reefs and coral, elated, adventuring. Love.

805. Shave ice. Piña Colada my favorite ever.

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806. Enormous breakdown. Not sure what to be grateful for yet but it’s coming

807. Getting through a rough night. Beauty of dawn.

808.  Change of scenery can be all it takes.

809. Mini pool adventure.

810. Farewell sweet family, hello 20 hours of solitude.

811. Self care isn’t just nourishing my body with good food, getting rest and exercising regularly. It’s caring for my soul. It’s checking in. Praying. Meditating. Learning. Being. Forgiving. Loving myself. Being loved.

812.  Laying out at a beach. Alone. For the first time in I don’t even know. Just 40 minutes. Followed by a dip in the warm tropical Pacific while the sun beat on the water and made it shimmer.

813.  Being beckoned on a little adventure. Listening to the voice. Following. Obeying. Finding the key. Discovering peace in an exquisite black rock/sand cove. Moments of grace. Knitting back together the pieces of my heart.

814.  Gift shop shopping. Especially when it’s a good gift shop.

815. Eating an even bigger bag (than the micro one) of scrumptious macademia nuts.

816.  Hawaiian flowers-particularly plumeria, gardenia and bouganvillea.

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817.  Hawaiian birds: yellow. Dove? Red head. Need to learn actual names.

818. Hawaiian fish: Humu. Black with electric blue. Yellow. Pastel plus and pink.

819.  Keiki hula. Bodies in motion, thousands of years of culture, beauty, grace, luminary smiles.

820. Pupus & Mai Tais

821. Seeing the cherubs. Reconnecting. 21 hours is a lot for the littles. Their excited faces are so very worth it!

822. The ocean. It’s magic. It’s love. Swimming in it. Being with it. Bliss.

823. New beginnings

824.  Filling myself up.

825.  Giving back. Paying it forward

826.  Love. Unconditional love. What this life is all about.

827. Poverty of spirit. Lets us grow and expand beyond our earthly limitations

828. Cozy bed. Perfect temperature. Not something to ever take for granted.

829. My knowledge of nutrition. In a world where so many go each day without even eating, I have the luxury to make nutritious choices…to take care of my body far beyond basic survival. May I not forget the privilege that is.

830.  To whom much is given, so much is required.

831.  Vacation naptimes with my baby. Watching her sleep. Breathing her in.

832.  Falling asleep with my boy. The familiar rhythm of shared space, relaxation and comfort

833. Family time, just us

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834.  Redefining boundaries, needs and creativity. Listening to my heart and acting accordingly, responsibly and intuitively

835. Walking. Peace, even if temporary.

836.  Seeing somewhere you have grown

837. Seeing another somewhere(s) you need to grow up some more

838. Walks down memory lane. Needed. Painful. Tugging. Rejuvenating. Remembering who I was in the context of who I have become.

839. In one moment. Feeling reborn.

840. Magic in the day.

841.  The thrill of adventure. New places to explore.

842.  Palm trees that grow through restaurants. Open air windows out to jungle.

843. Beautiful donkey

844. Kona cherries

845. Japanese style farm house===my dream house!!!

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846. Vintage kimono. Typewriter. Brush. Moments in time. From the past. Here today.

847. Cultures merge

848. Wild turkeys

849. Sweeping vistas. Giant trees. Lush landscapes

850. Coconut gelato next to Chocolate coffee mac nut gelato

851. The satisfaction after a great day

852. Naptime

853. History right before you. Relics. Symbols.

854.  Kindness. People willing to dance with you-in life and conversation

855. The kindred spiritness of parenthood

856. Special ocean time with my boy

857.  Thanksgiving preparations. Baking. Cooking prepping. Snacking sampling and tasting.

858. Unorthodox Thanksgivings. Fun festive meal. Mai tai. Frozen yogurt. Fun.

859. Blowing up birthday balloons the night before her special day. Hearing she even said it in the middle of the night. BAh-uhm.

860. Remembering the birth of my little girl. One year ago. Such a big year. Grateful for her birth. Her life. Her love.

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861.  Celebrating Lainey. A day just for her. Her sweetness. Her spunk.  Her smile. Savoring every sweet moment.

862. Thanksgiving feast. Setting a place at the table. Lighting a candle. Life goes on.

863. The perfect bite : turkey potatoes stuffing gravy and cran. Yum

864. Birthday cake.Potty jokes. Balloons. Gas. Belly laughter when it’s needed most.

865. Baby gourmet

866. My parents. For all they do and are.

867. After dinner dance party

868.  Nursing my sweet 1 year old girl before bed.

869.  Starting 2nd Ronald Dahl book with Aidan. His love for stories and good writing. Enjoying our special time before bed.

870. Beach day! Beautiful crystalline water. Tropical breezes. Volcano mountain backdrop with lava landscape.

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871. Kayak adventure! Family fun! Savoring the fun of the moment.

872. Picnic on the beach. How enthusiastic Lainey is a about eating. How she will try anything.

873. Having faith we will move through the valley, the challenge. Seeing glimpses of the other side.

874.  Sleeping with our boy between us. Knowing his tender heart needs this security. Being able to provide it at the very least. Savoring his smallness and vulnerability. Respecting his need to grow and separate as well.

875. Ocean swims with each of my kids. “Hey bubu” with Aidan and holding Lainey while she squeals with delight.

876.  Family time. Simple.

877.  Night swimming. Rare. First time as a family.

878.  Introducing Lainey to the beautiful moon. Watching her fascination. Pointing, mesmerized.

879.  Putting the kids to bed. And the husband. Me time. Quiet. Thoughts. At last.

880. Laughter as medicine.

881.  Couple time. Romance. Adventure. Creativity with limited resources. The world is always our oyster.

882. Poke Shack. Wet Hawaiian. Yum.

883. My dad. For providing more love and support than words will ever be able to describe. For giving us the gift of this vacation. For standing by us and enveloping us in unconditional love. For the way he is a fantastic Poppa who loves my babies with all his heart.

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884. Sriracha

885.  Naptime=chill out.

886. White sand beach. Tidal therapy. Floating over the waves. Diving under. Jut the two of us on the eve of 9 year anniversary.

887. Shopping. Can be so much fun!

888.  Buying local-meeting the artisans.

889. How happy your kids are to see you when you have been gone.

890.  Mom Daddy Lainey time.

891.  Watching Lulabelle get ready to walk.

892. Date night!

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893. Island clams in ginger broth. Organic trio of local mushrooms sautéed and sizzling. Brick bread. Tomato and Maui onion salad. Seafood chowder. Chocolate mousse with salted caramel ice cream. Yum

894. Reflecting on 9 years together. How we have changed—who we are now–how blessed we are.

895.  Loving. Full cup. Running over.

896.  9 years of marriage to my best friend!

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897. Visiting a special spot for Lainey’s family blessing on our family’s birthday. The wind and excited moana just like it was 9 years ago.

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898. My son’s ability to make friends with anyone.

899.  Getting through the hardest moments.

900.  Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Getting to hold Andy’s ashes in my hand. To sprinkle some in the warm pacific with a beautiful lei around my neck. Later sending off the lei with Andy’s outrigger. At one with the sea. At peace now and evermore.

901. Most spectacular sunset yet.

902. Beach therapy. Again. Roaring and squealing with laughter in the waves with Aidan. Swimming, snorkeling, surrendering, one final time.

903.  Ginger seared Ono. Yes.

904.  Kona coffee. Again and again.

905.  The wave of letdown knowing vacation is over, but the excited anticipation of being home and finding a new rhythm.

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906. Efficient planning for a reasonably smooth flight home.

907.  Airline and airport personnel. It is a tough job. Grateful for every hand and voice along the way. For the genius of aeronautics. The skill of the pilots safely transporting my precious family across the ocean.

908.  My angel babies sleeping though our red eye. And then again at home.

909. Being in pajamas all day recovering.

910. Cure for jet lag hangover: turn on Christmas music. Light a fire. Drag out decorations. Make candy cane tea. Relax. Enjoy. Daydream.

911.  Melatonin

912. Sleeping through the night. Sleeping period.

913.  Putting together a semi decent meal from food in he pantry and freezer. Not shabby. Beats leaving the house.

914.  The comfort of grocery shopping in familiarity.

915. Rain. Wintertime preview. Low lying clouds hugging the foothills.

916.  Fire in the fireplace.

917. When the skies open a bit, the clouds parting for sunset.

918.  Water drops from peppercorn berries.

919.  Shades of a so cal autumn.  Just enough to satisfy. Especially set again a gorgeous grey sky.

920. Thrifting for rainy day clothes.

921.  Breathing trough the transition pain. The waves. The pain, the awkwardness. Finding peace in the moment. Committed to finding a nurturing rhythm.

October’s Gifts: Moment by Moment Grace

I got caught up in a lot last month and didn’t record my gratitude as thoroughly as I would have liked. As I posted my notes and went through my photos, I realized I forgot to record a lot more…neglected some of the precious tiny moments. Those moments are my sanity, my grace…and I need to remember that when I feel too busy or stressed to stop and breathe.

We are currently in paradise, on vacation after this whopper of a year. Turns out pain and heartbreak and demons and crap follow you to paradise too, but it is nice to have a change of scenery. And just like anywhere else, anytime…it’s really about those tiny moments of grace in the middle of it all. Moment, by moment, by moment…

October’s Gifts

702. Dinners and bedtimes with daddy again. Lots of quality time. The silver lining in unemployment

703. Impromptu visit to our neighbors house. The kids were so gleefully delighted

704. Interviews. Opportunities

705.  Trying on all the scenarios. Accepting that this is how I process.

706. Introducing Aidan to politics and gjvernment. Trying to model open mindedness above all else

707. Food on the table.

708. Muffins baking in the oven. Warm cinnamony goodness wafting through the house.

709. No plans, just being-ness.

710. Olivas Adobe beauty. Just our family. Exploring, marveling and drinking it in

711. Opportunity knocks. Open door. Invite opportunity in.

712. Close my eyes and leap.

713. Writing. When the words just come. Sent from above. Grateful for this gift

714. First night away from both kids. Giddy meal out. Conversation. Reconnection.

715. 8 hours of sleep and waking up to the sound of silence.

716. Holding the babies after being away.

717. Surrey ride. No fringe. Still fun.

718. Carpenteria adventure. Remembering 10 years ago when he asked me to be his wife.

719. Amazing Chumash park

720. Upscale resale= dresses for my Lainey girl

721. Chili in the crockpot. Crockpot weather

722. Storm clouds. Against mountains. Over the ocean. Formidable Beauty.

723. Birthday blessings

724. Planning, completion, satisfaction

725. Letting it all take over. Surrendering to the anxiety, sadness, ambivalence and fear. Until it passes.

726. Coming home

727. Hard laughter

728. Watching my baby girl brush her hair for the first time

729. Hearing her speak words…the inflections change as she acquires language

730. Boy gets older. Things shift.

731. Aidan asking for his lullabies from years before

732. Healing waves wash over

733. Being back within 5-7 minutes of a trader Joes. I cannot drive 20 minutes to the grocery store. Not unless I am living the country life

734. Goldilocks

735. Play dates with friends. Chaos and all.

736. Autumn sunsets

737. Cooling down

738. Lizard trapped in-house adventure. Brainstorming and giggling with my boy

739. Photographing newborn yumminess

740. Capturing

741.  Having a smartphone when there is a huge sigalert right where you need to get on the freeway to get home on a Friday afternoon.

742. Flower petals

743. Therapeutic cleaning

744. Vegging out

745. Auburn hydrangea

746. Zucchini eggplant red onion bell pepper. Chopped. Roasted. Tender delicious vegetable candy.

747. Cleaning out. Organizing. Putting away. Breathing a sigh.

748. Brain cheese

749. Patience. Perspective. Perseverance.

750. Powerful completion

751. Healthful food

752. Purging crap

753. Connection

754. Grey skies, autumn leaves flanked against white storm clouds

755. Lainey’s kisses. She works so hard on the pucker and smacking noise. It is indescribably adorable

756. A peaceful 10 minute family walk around the block. Even if takes 45 minutes to get out of the house beforehand.

757. Tiny pumpkins

758. Friendship. Long conversations. Comfort.

759. Fall evenings. Cool. Crisp.

760. The smell of a seasonal change. Experiencing it through multiple senses

761. Auntie love. Snuggling little ones and drinking them in.

762. Will power

763. Early bedtimes

764. Open heart. Open mind.

765. Cleaning. Clearing. Purging. Cleansing. (Garage sale helps with this)

766. For the family

767. Going with the flow

768. Getting it all done. Or attempting to and then being okay with what is left

769. Packing with a purpose

770. Pumpkin carving party

771. Apple pear sparkling cider

772. Halloween fun. Creating and sustaining traditions. Making it count, even in small quantities

In Memoriam

On the Death of the Beloved

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

-John O’Donohue

(If you haven’t already, please buy yourself a copy of John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us. It is a must for every household. Where and when there are no words…he finds them. Every time.)

To help us remember the laughter, the friendship, the sustaining love…

In loving memory of Andrew Christopher Wade

February 10, 1987-October 14, 2011

Click here to watch a slideshow set to music

(you might need to let it load for a bit)

To our beloved Andy…

May the longtime sun shine upon you

All love surround you

And the pure light within you

Guide your way on

Amen.