Christmas without Mom

Posted by on Jan 7, 2012 in Authenticity, Celebration, Challenges, Family, Gifts, Healing, Love, Spirituality, Wholehearted | 4 comments

My mom loved Christmas! She would hoard little treasures from yard sales and flea markets all year long and store them in a trunk to give to us at Christmas. Presents had to be distributed one at a time and in a certain order so we could all watch the recipient open and share their joy. 😉 In the early seventies she excitedly drug home her most exciting find and we assembled it in the living room: a garish silver artificial tree made of some sort of aluminum strips. Once the lights and decorations were on she added the final finishing touch by pouring white Styrofoam ‘peanuts’ over the top to simulate snow. At nine I was completely enchanted! Her enthusiastic giving continued even when she was seventy-nine. Mom became ill two days before Christmas last year and I transferred her to Hospice the day after Christmas. We stayed with her until she crossed over on January 7th. I’m sure we celebrated Christmas after that but I don’t recall it. And I know I must have taken the tree and decorations down and put her unopened presents away but I have no clear memory. So this year I wasn’t sure I wanted to celebrate Christmas. Did I want to put up the tree she and I found for five dollars at a thrift shop and we’ve used and loved the past seven years? We even considered traveling for the holidays. But I knew I wanted to be with Brin wherever we were and I knew Mom would not want me to give up Christmas. I gave the tree away to a neighborhood family and wished them many happy memories around it. Our family tradition since Brin was a toddler was to get a ‘free’ live tree on Christmas Eve bring it home and decorate it, have dinner, and then open presents. Oh about the ‘free’ tree—you know those empty lots near shopping centers that pop up after November strung with white light bulbs and cut live trees lined up along a mesh fence? Well this free tree ritual began literally because in those days we could not afford to buy a tree! My parents and sister and brother-in-loveand even our neighbors always joined us. We practiced this tradition for over a decade into Brin’s teens and well after I moved on from working Christmas Day at a movie theatre and could afford to buy a tree! And over the years most of those loved ones for one reason or another join us now only in Spirit. This year we reinstated the tradition which Brin explained to her boyfriend and we learned she never realized it started because we were broke—we all found this quite hilarious! Brin cooked for us Christmas Eve at our house and Jeff and I went out to look for a tree. Our little town used to have them everywhere but this year we couldn’t locate even one. Sigh. Soooo, Brin’s three foot tall purple pre-lit artificial tree would have to grow on me. I set it up on a table in the living room window and dug out the Christmas decorations brought in from the shed but I could only find the bulbs mom and Jeff and I had painted together last year. Oh it was a brilliant idea but a bigger project than I had anticipated as it was too challenging for her physically. But we muddled through and had a great time. We gave each of her caretakers and family and friends a special bulb to remember us and this Christmas.  They actually...

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Vugs to hugs

Posted by on Nov 9, 2011 in Authenticity, Creativity, Family, Gifts, Love, Wholehearted | 1 comment

My dear hubby really is a dear and dotes on me and my whims to an extreme. I'm not complaining mind you, I love the results. They go something like this; Honey, I have an idea to send friends a special momento of the AssistU Homecoming. He knows I love giving 'hands to hearts' gifts. He comments that's a great idea. I extrapoloate and say but it's something for you to make on the scroll saw. I smile sweetly and bat my eyelashes at him. Oh. Long pause and then always something like, a loud guffaw and then, Okay, what do you want me to make? Jeff has been my best friend and partner for twenty-eight years and we have made a life filled with love and adventure. He is always there for me. He always supports my work, my passions, my crazy ideas, my life—which is whole and complete because of us. ♥ I love you Jeff! (Oh, and happy birthday!) In case you're wondering what a 'vug' is I kinda coined it when I was in AssistU's Virtual Training Program instead of signing: Hugs, Laura I sent a virtual hug and wrote: Vugs, Laura. It stuck! So our slogan at Homecoming was "From vugs to hugs". Here's one of the signs he made this week which are winging their way to friends right now:     Tami shared hers on Facebook with the card I sent. 😉 Friends posted and said they wanted one, too! They are not painted or varnished so you can leave them natural wood or paint them yourself. You can place your order with Jeff via: neofab at cox dot net. Won't he be surprised to hear from you! <grin> I'm thinking a donation to your favorite charity in lieu of a payment. Whatcha think? Big...

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Message from mom

Posted by on Oct 14, 2011 in Connections, Family, Healing, Love, Spirituality, Wholehearted | 1 comment

I moved my bedroom dresser the other day, which I haven't done in years. I decided I wanted to try a new view. Behind it I found this card from mom which she gave me before one of my client trips in 2007. Isn't the artwork gorgeous? It's a Leanin' Tree card by Josephine Wall. And the significance of the faires continuing into infinity was not lost on me. This would have been written at the very beginning of her memory challenges. Seeing her clear handwriting and complete thoughts and love on the page astonished me! I had forgotten where she WAS at the beginning. Oh my, she loved me so much and I had forgotten what that felt like, too. Thanks for the card AGAIN mom—it had been waiting for years for you to send it to me once more. Message received loud and clear. Love never, ever ends....

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Coloring My World

Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in Authenticity, Books, Family, Film, Inspiration | 0 comments

I read about Kathryn Sockett, this new author, some time ago. She had written a book about black maids raising Southern white children.  I resonated with the story right away and couldn’t wait to read The Help. I grew up in the Bahamas Islands with a professional mother who worked in real estate and later owned tourist shops in the Bazaar.  We always had a maid that worked at our house and was home after school. This wasn’t because we were wealthy by any means  – these women worked cheap and were often employed illegally. As a kid in the late sixties I didn’t wonder about this arrangement.  Unfortunately our maids didn’t stay with us for long so I never grew attached. We had high spirited Jamaican women with their lovely lilting accents enticing me into our kitchen to taste their fried plantains. There were quiet hard working Haitian women who only had a few words of English but signed and pointed animatedly so that I understood their meaning. And even Bahamian women with proud attitudes who were insulted by the job and sat and watched television with me. I was in awe of these women—their rich ebony hands on my pale freckled arms made me long to be like them. Dark. Strong. Passionate.  They spoke their minds around the bosses kid, I never made a peep anyway as I was drunk on their foreignness yet their differentness seemed so natural to me. They lived in their bodies danced and sang while they made beds, mopped floors, and cooked exotic meals I was far too tentative to taste.  I learned the song Yellow Bird and longed to fly away with them when they left. I grew up a minority in a country that was learning how to be independent and was achingly proud; many natives were prejudiced towards foreigners regardless of their skin color. I know what it’s like to be judged by what I look like not who I am.  But the dark skinned women who wove a colorful patina on my monochrome world opened my eyes to a new way of being and living that was alive and free of any judgment for my shyness, pale skin, or lack of culinary appreciation.  They accepted me as I was and gave me the greatest gift—I was free to be me. Watching Kathryn’s book come alive on the screen last week was an emotional tug-of-war.  These women’s stories were the weapon of choice for justice and what was right. When I wasn’t laughing out loud I was crying either tears of heart rending grief or rivers of joy. When Aibileen asks Mae Mobley to remember what she told her for the last time and Baby Girl recites,“ I is kind. I is smart. I is important.” Heart rending. Skeeter summed it up with this description of her relationship with her maid Constantine,"Oh, it was delicious to have someone to keep secrets with…It was having someone look at you after your mother has nearly fretted herself to death because you are freakishly tall and frizzy and odd. Someone whose eyes simply said, without words, "You are fine with me." Joy. Rivers of joy. The Help Official Movie...

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Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 in Caretaking, Family, Healing, Moving your body | 0 comments

I had an ‘aha’ moment this month. I realized that my life is really, really good.  The malaise I’ve felt since mom died has dissipated.  When I got myself out of my head and emotions by challenging my body I had to shift from grief to support this new focus and determination: it required me to take care of me. To eat healthy, get enough sleep, balance work and play. And I have done it consistently for almost four months. Moving my body has impacted every part of my life: work, relationships, mood, attention and focus, desire, activities, willingness to try new things. The list is endless. I feel good. I feel energized, motivated, and positive. I am happy. That was the moment—realizing that I’ll always miss her, and she’ll always be with me and I can still live my life and be happy. Huge, huge moment and I know she was right there experiencing my joy with...

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Kill a What?

Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 in Challenges, Family, Science | 0 comments

My dear hubby has become increasingly budget conscious over the past two years as he has transitioned from nine-to-five-JOB through unemployment to house hubby. Sustaining our household on one income is a challenge but we're up for it—we have learned to do more with less and been happier for it. Have you heard the comedian Bill Engvall’s joke about his family and their electronic’s addiction? He describes himself standing outside their home watching the electric meter spin out of control and yelling at the top of his lungs, “Turn something OFF you people are killin’ me!” That’s my hubby 😉 We have solar panels, we hang our laundry on a clothesline to sun dry (smells scrumptious!), we use compact florescent light bulbs, and we used fans instead of air-conditioning until late May! Still, our electric bill is one of our biggest costs. One of Jeff’s favorite gadgets is a tool called a Kill-a-WATT an electric usage meter. Here’s the layman’s explanation: you plug it into an outlet in and plug an appliance into it and press W for watts and it tells you how many watts the appliance uses. He’s geekily impressed by this tool. And it is cool. A fan might use 75 watts where a window unit air-conditioner might use 300-500 watts. But imagine this: our coffee brewer uses 900 watts whether it’s brewing coffee or keeping the urn warm.  This is equal to sixty-five compact florescent bulbs!  We still make coffee but we don’t leave it on after it’s made. Who knew? Some of the fancier models will even project energy costs and show you used energy costs.  We also discovered that some electronics like our DVD player and TV still draw electricity even when turned off so they are now plugged into a strip that we turn off when not in use. Our little thirty buck investment has paid for itself several times over and been an illuminating...

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