For me, it’s the simple things that matter. It means having peace of mind, having good health, my basic needs being met, living comfortably and in beautiful surroundings, enjoying my simple luxuries, spending ample time with the people I love and care about, visiting a few new places occassionally, not worrying about money, and doing things that bring me joy like gardening (my pink hydrangeas are blooming beautifully), writing, and moving my body. I’m working on this daily, and I believe it’s attainable.
Happy Mother’s Day 2023
Happy Mother’s Day to the beautiful women who mean so much to your loved ones. As you can see from my photo, I have my crown, jewelry, and flowers, and my daughter treated me and her dad to a movie, so it’s been a beautiful, relaxing day! The Sunday movie at the theatre was especially nice after the busy weekend we’ve had with one of two of her graduations and her prom. She completed her Associate’s degree in General Studies before her high school graduation.
This is Bryan’s first Mother’s Day without his mom, so I’ve been especially sensitive to that. My sister and I spoke last night about how it’s been 6 years without our mom. Even though nothing can replace the hole you feel left in your heart, life goes on. You might look normal, but you don’t feel normal.
Despite the sadness that those who’ve lost their moms like me feel, I’m so grateful for memories and for everything my mom taught me. I’m also grateful for the experience of being a mom. Being a mom has enriched my life in so many ways, like giving me strength I never knew I had, expanding my capacity for love in ways I never knew existed, and allowing me to practice restraint, hear my children and not impose my will on them…at least not to the degree it was done to me. I want them to be self-sufficient, loving, and kind people, and they are on their way.
I don’t want this post to be about how difficult it is to be a mom, yet it is. Mothering or nurturing can definitely go beyond your own children. There have been many women (sisters, aunts, mother in law, cousins, friends, etc.) in my life besides my own beautiful mom who have mothered me, and I acknowledge their love in my life as well.
I end this post sending love and gratefulness into the world and hope that you feel the love of those who love not just today but every day. Happy Mother’s Day!
Progress not perfection
Just like that, January is over, and here we are in February. I want to recount the positive things in real time as much as possible because time is flying. As I reflect on my vision board, I indicated that I would “write away” and I did just that by participating in January’s Bloganuary challenge….31 days of blog posts, each day a different topic.
It was my first year participating, and I learned I enjoy blogging first thing in the morning after my spiritual meditation practice. I’ve wanted to post daily, but I haven’t been able to keep up with it. Well, I’ve read it takes 21 days to develop a habit and it worked for me. I missed about 3 or 4 days, but this is by far the most I’ve blogged in a month. I probably haven’t blogged 30 times in some years, so I’m off to a great start.
What I enjoyed about the Bloganuary experience were the different blogging prompts, which seemed random, at least to me. It challenged me to blog about topics I previously would not have. I even wrote a short (very short) story. It allowed me to reminisce about pleasant experiences. It reminded me of books and authors that have inspired me to read and write. Finally, I enjoyed the comradery with fellow bloggers.
Other notable January milestones are that I’ve been in remission from breast cancer for 6 WHOLE YEARS. It’s also been one year since my full hysterectomy. I truly believe health is wealth. I strive to keep my physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and financial health in check every day, although sometimes it’s difficult.
I love starting my year off with a challenge because it boosts my sense of accomplishment. February reminds me of love, so I plan to focus on the people I love this month, including myself. My son turns 22 this year, so we will be celebrating. I’m also considering participating in a vegan challenge. I’ll keep you posted.
Cheers to February!🥂
What are you looking forward to this month?
How do I show love?
I love to ‘love on’ the people I love and who ‘love on’ me. For my husband, Bryan, and our kids, they get the full extension of my love. I love cooking them delicious meals. To me, feeding someone with a delicious and nutritious meal is the ultimate way to show love because I’m using my time to create nourishment and enjoyment. It’s a personal gift.
While on a grocery run, I’ll pick up my family’s favorite foods to eat, including treats and drinks. I generally like to do things that make their life a little easier, like picking up after them. I will initiate a big hug with Bryan even though he isn’t the ‘huggie’ type, and neither are our kids, but I’ll make them hug me on occasion.🤗
I also spend time with the person I love ❤️. I spend lots of time with Bryan, especially since the pandemic. My kids are at the stage where they spend a lot of time with their friends, but we still have family time and it usually involves eating.
Although living in different states, my siblings and I check in with each other often…even more often since our mom passed away. We group text all the time. I also make time to check in on my nephew, nieces, and cousins.
The pandemic has changed lots of things so we haven’t had too many visits to our house since then, but I generally show friends and family I love them by inviting them to our home, making them comfortable, and cooking for them. Even while on visits to Chicago in 2021 and 2022, I cooked several times.
I also enjoy capturing memories in photos and love sending them as gifts to the people I love.
Life is short, and as I get older, it’s more important to me than ever to make sure I’m showing love to the people who love me.❤️
Bloganuary Day 24 prompt!
The happiest day of my life
Thankfully, I’ve had many happy days in my life. One in particular popped into my mind immediately upon reading today’s Bloganuary prompt (Day 17) – describe the happiest day of your life. The birth of my first child, my baby boy, was one of the happiest days of my life.
Bryan and I wanted to be sure we were ready before we had kids. On our wedding day, we started our lives together by moving to Texas. He was offered a job out of state and had been living in Texas since the summer while I stayed in Chicago, planning our wedding and getting my affairs in order for the move.
As newlyweds, we enjoyed the time exploring our new city and state and learning to live as a couple. By the time we were ready to have kids, I talked to my doctor about how long it would take for me to get pregnant after I stopped taking birth control. He said it would take about a month.
I don’t know why I didn’t believe him because it certainly did take only a month. While pregnant with my son, I often imagined what he would be like and what I would be like as a mom. I read books, decorated and prepped his room, and immersed myself in all things “baby”.
I had an uncomfortable pregnancy – back pain, sciatica, excessive sleepiness, nausea, and insomnia, but I continued to exercise and ate relatively healthy. I was also in good spirits.
My mom flew down to be with us for 2 weeks to help me with the baby. My delivery was dramatic and life threatening, but when I saw my 12.2 pound little “Sumo Wrestler”, I was overjoyed! I finally got to meet my sweet baby.
He was the biggest baby in the nursery, and nurses would randomly stop by my room to see the lady (me) who delivered this little giant. They had the nerve to lay him next to a couple of preemies. I didn’t live up to what they imagined because of my size. It was not typical for women my size to have large babies like that, but there I was breaking records in the hospital.😄
Caleb was the sweetest baby, though in his first year, he didn’t like for others besides me and his dad to pick him up. He was a great nurser (unlike my daughter, Elise – each child is different).
I’ve been sorting through old photos lately, and Elise pointed out that we barely have pictures with just her. It’s true. We have so many pictures of, and with, Caleb. He was the first and I had more time for “all the things”. By the time we had Elise 4.5 years later, I was definitely more tired. The “woahs” of the second child…
I learned so much about myself and what I could do by being Caleb’s mom. Happy day and time indeed.
The most memorable gift
This is Day 9 of Bloganuary, and I’m enjoying this experience. Today’s prompt is to write about the most memorable gift you’ve received. A few weeks after I completed my last radiation treatment for breast cancer in early 2017, a dear friend of mine surprised me with a spa weekend. She drove from where she lives in Houston (about 2 hours from me) to pick me up, and we were off for a weekend of pampering.
I felt the care of that place from the beautiful surroundings, the delicious, responsibly sourced food, the pampering facial, manicure and pedicure, the dance activity, and our therapeutic time with the horses. It was the absolute best weekend (2 night stay) and just what I needed after a jarring 5 months of cancer diagnosis, many doctor’s appointments, 2 surgeries, and radiation treatment.
The time we spent catching up was special. We were both very busy, so I immensely enjoyed the time we shared. This post reminds me that I’m missing my friend. What are the odds that we both were born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and we both now live in Texas. We’ve known each other since elementary school and became friends in freshman year of high school. Life ebbs and flows and some friendships do the same. Hopefully, we’ll get to see each other this year.
Here are some photos I took to memorialize the amazing experience.
The earliest memories I have are laying in a crib watching my surroundings and wondering where I was. I remember hearing the song Ben by Michael Jackson played occasionally. When the music wasn’t playing, the house was quiet. This song, which I’ve heard endlessly and loved, was released in 1972. I was born in 1973. These memories used to pop up often, but not so much as my life became filled with my own responsibilities like working and raising my own children with my husband.
It wasn’t until years later, when I was an adult that my mummy told me something that shocked me. I was absolutely SHOOK (in todays vernacular)! Mummy feared a whole lot and was very strict with me. I don’t recall what prompted the conversation, but she revealed to me that one day while she was on the bus with me as a baby in Chicago, this lady, who mummy didn’t know (a stranger), commented on how beautiful I was. The lady offered to care for me during the week while my mummy worked. Mummy accepted the offer, so I spent my days at this lady’s house. Mummy would meet the lady somewhere at the beginning of the week and hand me to her. I don’t recall if it was for weeks or months.
This definitely speaks to the different time we live in now (or even 20 years ago) because no matter how nice a person appears, I would never let a stranger who is not a child care provider and I’m paying, or who just offers because she is kind, babysit my children. If I did that when my kids were growing up, I would never hear the end of it, especially from mummy. I was shocked she would allow this.
I have empathy for her and the choices she had to make as an immigrant woman who came to this country to make a better life for herself and her children. She didn’t know she would face this life without her abusive husband, my father. She had limited education and was the single parent to 4 children living in the big city of Chicago. She did what she had to do.
In those early memories, I don’t recall being unhappy. I just lay there, watched, and listened. I was fine. Later on in the eighties, I was one of those latchkey kids who knew how to take care of myself.
God’s grace and covering were on us.
I’m so thankful for mummy’s sacrifices and her putting me on the path to do better for my children.
I’m taking a moment to send holiday cheer into the world. For my household, Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’s birth and to also spend time with family, to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us, to be extra gracious and kind, and to just experience the joy of the season.
We started our day early. My 21-year old son, Caleb, who tries to play it cool with his emotions, woke us up from a deep sleep early in the morning. My husband, Bryan, later told me it was about 5:00 am. He asked if we were ready to open the gifts. We both shouted out, “No, a little later!” We knew he was excited, but we were too sleepy and soon dozed back to sleep.
When I was growing up, we opened Christmas gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve. Bryan’s family opened gifts in the morning, but sometimes they would open one gift at midnight. With our kids, we’ve mostly opened gifts first thing in the morning. I’m usually still wrapping gifts at midnight, but not this time. I had help. I asked my daughter, Elise, to wrap a few of her brother’s gifts. I had gift bags for some of the gifts and wrapped the rest. I completed my wrapping at about 8:00pm on Saturday.
I spent Christmas 2022 in my pajamas all day. My family is happy with their gifts so I’m happy. We tend to provide extra gifts to our kids since most of our families on both sides live in the Chicago, Illinois area. My heart is especially full because it’s the one time of year where I can get hugs from my kids. We’re not the most “physically expressive with our emotions” family. I’ve grown to be more of a hugger as I’ve gotten older, and as the universe would have it, my kids prefer otherwise.
Not only did Caleb gift me with a beautiful necklace, he reciprocated my hug, and told me he loved me. Elise also reciprocated my big suffocating hug. Perhaps other parents hear the “I love yous” and get hugs from their kids all the time. As my kids have gotten older, they do it much less, which makes it all the more special.
This is the first Christmas without my mother in law. I asked Bryan how he was doing and he said it’s been different. He’s been talking to his mom off and on today. He’s spent the past 2 days talking to family members. I can tell he had a great day. I’ve been communicating with family and friends through phone calls, texts, and social media. I enjoyed the connection, even if for a few minutes.
We’ve had some unusually cold weather in Texas for this time of year, so for the first time in a long time, we didn’t attend the church concert or Christmas Eve service. Thankfully, we didn’t have extreme weather like we did in February 2021, when the power went out and water stopped working for about a week for most people. Some people died which was heart breaking and incomprehensible, especially since I’ve experienced colder winters than that growing up in Chicago. I blogged about my experience in the posts Is This Texas? and Is This Texas Part Deux?
This time with the cold, we had no precipitation which makes it much more bearable. I can deal with cold, but it’s darn near life altering to deal with cold with rain, snow, or ice. It gets too dangerous to drive in the Texas terrain with drivers who do not know how to drive under those conditions. The temperatures were as low as the teens, but it has been steadily increasing. I enjoyed the nostalgia of having a colder Christmas week.
As I sit in my recliner couch typing and watching Bryan reclining on the other couch with his boozy beverage in hand, I can tell you, it’s been a SPLENDID day.
More than anything right now, I want more kindness, grace, and love for us all. It’s not cliché that life is so precious and short. One of my biggest light lessons for 2022 is instead of worrying about losses (such as in relationships, time, health, etc.), I’m paying more attention to the people who make room for me and who love me and the time and health I do have. If I don’t reach a goal as planned, I won’t stop living until the goal is achieved. I’ll continue living in the moment, appreciating where I am and knowing I’ll eventually achieve it. Sometimes, we get caught up in what’s missing rather than what’s here, right now in front of us.
With that, I say cheers to Christmas 2022 knowing that it can be an especially difficult time for many people for various reasons, including the loss of loved ones and loneliness. Give the gift of kindness, grace, and love to others and especially yourself this season and every day.
Silver Fox Anniversary
In September, Bryan and I celebrated a HUGE milestone – 25 years of marriage. Neither of us “feel like” it’s been that long, so we believe that’s a good sign. Unfortunately, my mother in law passed away a few days before our anniversary, so we didn’t get to celebrate as we had hoped. However, I’ve spent some time reflecting on how grateful I am for our union. To have a life partner who you love and respect and who is your rock is a beautiful thing. After all these years, I still get excited to hear his voice and I nearly swooned when he recently told me I’m his soul mate.
Marriage is an incredible amount of inner and outer work.
In honor of our silver anniversary, in this post I will share 25 nuggets I’ve learned about marriage, of which I wrote in my journal. These nuggets are meant to be short and real. This is not an exhaustive list. This list isn’t in any particular order. I didn’t identify these particular nuggets to boast about how we’ve mastered them. Marriage is a lot of work and there are nuggets we’re actively working on. I may expand on some of these nuggets in future posts.
- Discuss, plan, and execute the vision of your lives together. Revisit as often as necessary.
- You make the commitment to be married daily, not just on the wedding day.
- You choose to love every day, every minute.
- You must be intentional about your actions.
- You must apologize as often as necessary.
- You must decide if you want to be right or want peace.
- Compromise, compromise, compromise.
- Sex keeps you connected.
- See things from your partner’s perspective sometimes.
- Hold each other accountable, but extend grace often.
- Seek to understand, not to be right.
- Each person will change and evolve over time, over and again, but the core of who you fell in love with is still there.
- Celebrate all the wins, big and small.
- Don’t take each other for granted.
- Even in seasons where small children (or children with disabilities) take priority, nurture your marriage.
- Your are each other’s best friend.
- Do simple and kind gestures to show your partner you care. Learn their love language.
- Plan and review finances together.
- Accept your partner for who they are.
- Discuss marital problems only with each other, a therapist, and/or your pastor.
- Speak highly of your partner to others.
- Pray for your marriage.
- Pray for your sex life.
- Make time for sex.
- Make time to spend time together.
What did I miss? I’m sure a lot. The thing about this list is that we may have mastered some nuggets at certain points in our lives, but may need to work on them again in another circumstance. As a gardener, I see marriage as a constant tending to, refining, fertilizing, and pruning. Life is not linear and perfect. It’s messy, unscripted, painful, joyful, and all consuming. At least mine is. Until next time.
Last week my family got on the road from Texas to Illnois to say our final goodbyes to my beautiful mother in law (MIL)…my husband, Bryan’s, mom. Though it was a sad occassion, we were excited about seeing our families.
When I think about my 25+ year relationship with Carol as my MIL, the word that first comes to mind is easy. I know people who have had, or cuurently have, strained and contentious relationships with their MILs or in laws. I’ve never had that with Carol. It’s been an easy relationship.
What I’ve loved about Carol since I met her is she enjoyed sharing family stories of how Bryan grew up. In fact, she was always sharing information. I appreciated that very much because it helped me with perspective on why Byran was the way he was, especially earlier on in our marriage.
Carol was also very warm and nurturing. She was the epitome of the family matriarch. Like my mom, Solange, who passed away in 2017, Carol was a worrier and it seemed to get worse the older she got. I wished both of them could be free of all that worrying.
Carol loved her family and I know she loved me. Though it was sad we all gathered for her homegoing, this weekend was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had with Bryan’s side of the family in a long time. We gathered at an aunt’s house after the funeral on Friday for the repass and again on Saturday at an uncle’s house.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching my children playing with their cousins, especially my son, Caleb. It was too many cousins to keep count, especially the little ones. They were all over Caleb. They were fighting over who was next to ride on his back. They also enjoyed toppling over him.
On Saturday evening, we spent time over my second oldest sister, Gina’s house with my other sinblings and our children, helping celebrate niece’s birthday (Gina’s youngest daughter). Since my mom passed away, my siblings and I have been intentional about seeing each other more and staying connected.
My other niece (my oldest sister, Mylene’s daughter) had her first baby, Serenity, a month ago. I fell in love with that little tiny angel. Serenity would be my mom’s first great grand baby.
I’m still processing the beauty and genuine positive vibes of spending time with both sides of our family on this short trip. Bryan and I have experienced both of our parent’s passing away. We were talking about being orphans in a way. Our parents’ loss reminds us of how crucial it is for us to remain connected to our families because life is so short.
Like my mom, Solange, Carol’s grand children and great grand children are the legacy she left here on earth. She passed on her love for family, taking care of people, and actually being loving. She didn’t judge. She just loved and sometimes that may have been to a fault because she never put herself first. And all of her family benefited from her selflessness.
As Carol’s daughter in law, I was a recipient of her love and of the love she poured into raising Bryan. I want the love to keep flowing and growing so my children can have that love fill them up, especially on days where they may feel alone, sad, or whatever.
I will work on being an even better nurturer because of Carol’s example. I will do my part to ensure her legacy makes her proud.