Tag Archives: single mom

“Get good at failing”


Wise advice from a dear friend of mine.  And, no, it doesn’t mean “try” to fail.  It is much simpler and much deeper than that.

Getting good at failing – to me – means accepting that I am human and will make mistakes.  If there are consequences, we need to face them bravely and move on.

My definition of mistakes is VERY broad.  Any mistakes, people, we all make them.  From ignoring the truth of those around you to forgetting to get bread at the store.  Anything that “one” deems is a mistake, in their own perception of life, no matter how trivial it might be (as it probably leads to something much deeper).

Mistakes are an opportunity to see how things could have been done differently.  It is a chance to begin again.  How I deal with my own failures, no matter how big or small, must ultimately be acknowledged, accepted and left behind.  I guess in a poetic way, it would be fighting and defending for my own future.

My nephew’s sweet Halloween smile! So full of joy!

If I just pick my head up and move on, without getting caught up emotionally in the concept of failure..just get up and try again.  Deep inside, I know I am not built of failure or I would not be where I am.  I have survived and will continue to do so.

So, why not just get up and try again when I fall on my butt.  Which reminds me of my sweet baby nephew.  He is such a beautiful boy.  He is now running, but he went through a trial of falling and getting back up.  He did not allow the pure awesomeness of opportunites that walking would lead to.  He just knew he didn’t want to keep crawling for the rest of his life.  It is an innate part of us as humans.

Sometimes it can be that simple.

The outcomes in my life are bound to my much different then they have been.  What do you think?

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Love is never free


Oh no, no, no.  Love is never free.  There is a premium.  But who controls the cost?

I was just sitting around on facebook and was not expecting the attack.  And when I say attack, I don’t mean one of warfare.  I mean one of love and affection.

My darling sweet son, one of the loves of my life, decided to rub my back.  “For no reason.”

Who am I to pass up a “free” backrub?  (Especially since I seem to have pulled a muscle in my shoulder from carrying around school books…unfortunately I am not joking).

So, he rubbed and he rubbed, and then he karate chopped and scratched, and all the little things that our family does to one anothers’ backs.  Then, I became enlightened…so far the backrub has more than 30 seconds…that means he wants something.  And I think, in some ways, he suspects that I know this and he is actually waiting for me to ask what he wants.  But I stay quiet.  Heck, he IS rubbing my back.

This went on for nearly 15 minutes before he was able to finally ask.  And guess what?  The answer was STILL NO!  HA…Mama wins again.  Kids think they are so smart. 🙂

The Study of Happiness


The Happy Movie is awesome!

I just watched the most eye-opening documentary – “Happy” – on the study of happiness (aka positive psychology for those who care). There were some amazingly simple and fundamental points made within the nearly two hours of information. Sounds boring, but really, it was awesome.  Just understanding that happiness is something that exists within each of us and that bonds us, is truly compelling.

It kind of reminds me of the simplicity of togetherness that we all seek.  Good movie, check it out!

I know the full movie is available on netflix, and there is a clip of it available below (and no, I am not getting paid to promote it or anything…it just added a new perspective through my journey!)

Film – The Happy Movie | The Happy Movie.

Let Go and Let God…


Long ago, at a previous job, I had a friend (one of My Angels) who battled lots of difficult pains and struggles, one of which was addiction.  Now, before you jump the boat and immediately begin defining her addiction, I want you to take a step back and just look at addiction for the sake of what it is: addiction.  Many of us have chemical addictions to caffeine.  Um…hello to all of you who sleep in “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” jammies!  An addiction is an addiction, whether it is emotional, chemical or whatever.  Period.  Let’s move on.

I watched my friend struggle her addictions, sometimes on a moment by moment basis.  I was able to see within her spirit the desire to continue on.  The fight to keep on fighting.  The defeats that she sometimes crawled through.  From her perspective, she only saw the failures and mistakes she made each day.  From my perspective, How, I didn’t know.  Then one day she shared with me.

Every morning, she would get up early and give her day to God.  She would ask God to carry her burdens for the day and guide her actions and thoughts.  She described to me the sense of peace that would help her through the day.

We are all human beings, and capable of failure, setback and burnout among many other things.  Sometimes it is hard to accept our humanness.  The worries and anxieties of everyone’s expectations (including your own) overwhelm you.  They sure worry me.  Now, in the mornings, I open my morning with prayer and thanksgiving to God.  I pray for strength to get through the day, and for the wisdom to make good decisions and be good help to many.

I challenge you to try the same…Each morning, spend a few minutes and pray.  Give your day to God.

Each and every morning,

I give my concerns to You, God.

I acknowledge my weaknesses.

Please guide my hands,

And my decisions,

And my perspectives,

And my compassion.

I ask that You work through me.

Love and inspire others through me.

I will listen for Your voice.

And I will know,

The richness of Your Love,

And Jesus’ Sacrifice,

And how the Holy Spirit lives within us.

I will listen for your voice.

Amen.

Unreachable


Wow.  I survived.  By the sweet grace of God, I survived Thursday night.  I cannot even begin to explain.

I know that I woke up on Friday morning still grumpy, bags under my eyes, hating life in general.  I felt as if I had survived an exorcism.  I had just faced my life’s issues…my demons, if you will.  All of the parts of me that hide away, as well as how my decisions do effect and have effected my family, everyone around me, and myself.  How I truly feel like I had let everyone down.  Then couple that with a family counseling class that has forced me to look at my family on paper and notice patterns and blah blah blah.

Point is…I came to direct terms with the very real fact: I am broken.  We all are.  We are all victims of the behaviors of others, and we all take turns victimizing one another, whether we know it or not.  It is human nature.  It is inevitable.

God had given me all of these miraculous blessings in my life and I had hurt them all and was not as grateful as I could have been.  I took a lot of true blessings for granted.  I felt such shame and unworthiness.

Then, this song played…

The words spoke everything I was thinking and feeling.  The overwhelming sense of peace began to bring reassurance and comfort, love and protection.  All of my human fears vanished and once again I felt the truest of truth, I felt God within my soul.  I knew we would be okay if I just stayed focused on His guidance.  When I am weak, He will give me strength.

Not only did the blessings continue to pour down on us, but the awareness of God’s great and abundant love became ever so clear again.  I had been missing that sense of fullness and faith.

Yes, Uncle T., I heard your message, Let go and Let God.  It is easier said than done, AND it is necessary.  When you turn your life over to God and allow Him to work through you, He will provide for you.

It is simply amazing.

Broken


ImageAs I sit here, tears are falling down my face.  It seems as though all I have done lately is apologize for not being good enough, quick enough, right enough, smart enough, skinny enough, early enough.  It seems as though I cannot meet any goals or responsibilities or expectations.  I don’t even know if the expectations are my own or not.  All I know is that my head is swimming and I want to go to bed.

But I can’t.

I have to face all of the fears and failures, real or not, but I don’t know how.  I am trying all kinds of methods, but nothing “works fast enough.”

How do I grab all of the pieces of my life and put them together again?  How do I escape the daily dread of letting my family down or letting others down?  Of letting myself down?

I mean, anyone else’s life, and I would have no problem helping them come up with a plan of action and get organized, but when it is my own, I am clueless.  I don’t know where to begin.

How do I successfully mesh together a plan for financial stability and responsibility, for physical health and fitness, for educational growth and future opportunity and security, for successful work habits and development, AND find time to be a good mommy?  I am always letting someone down.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to go back for a Masters degree!  I must have been out of my ever-loving mind to think I could pull it off when I had yet to get in order the current issues of my life.

How do you move past the pain without first having to recognize it for what it is, and either accept it for fix it?  How do I face the hurt about certain situations, knowing there is no immediate solution?  How do I escape the deep sense of longing and loss?.

How do you move past the fear that paralyzes your every move?  Fear of what, you ask?  Just plain fear.  Fear of everything…failure, loss, pain, hurt, unintentionally hurting others, of not being loved, of not loving enough, of being alone, of not being enough.  Fear of actually living life.  Fear of being who I really am.  Fear of judgement.  Fear of being called crazy.  Fear of EVERYTHING!

How do I face the fullness of the consequences for my decisions in life, particularly over the past three years.  No, there is not a lot I would change, but the consequences are killing me!  I know I put myself here, and I know that it is nobody’s fault but my own.  REGARDLESS of how I got here, I am here, and I don’t know how to move forward.

I pray, don’t worry about that.  I do.  And even though I know my God is a kind and loving God, I still feel I don’t deserve the blessings He has graced in my life NOW, what makes me think I am worth more of His mercy and love?  I have messed up everything He has provided.  Over and over.

I am on my knees with tears in my eyes asking for guidance.  God, please fill my brokenness, because I don’t know how…

The Harmonious Monks


This morning is a very musical morning for my family.  As I sit here typing, James is in the kitchen cooking breakfast whistling and singing O Come All Ye Faithful and Ashton is in his room practicing his rendition of Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain on Edelle’s karaoke machine.  There is peace in the household this morning, and togetherness was the catalyst.

It is all of us, who have had moments of togetherness this morning, in harmony.  It actually all began at about 3 am this morning.  James and I were awake and sitting together in the dining room, working on a 720 piece mailing for my workplace.  We were halted in our progress because we ran out of one of the papers.  By then, we had sucked down enough caffeine that there was no immediate sleep in sight.

Ashton had fallen asleep on the living room floor much earlier.  Around this time, he woke up to go to the bathroom, and realized we were still awake.  Immediately to a 9 year old, that means you are royally missing out on something.  He perked up and wanted to participate, even though he was still pretending to be tired.

A thought had come into mind a bit earlier, where the three of us would each play two board games simultaneously, in the form of a triangle.  Each of us have very low levels of focus and patience.  Waiting for two other people to take turns can sometimes be torture.  Especially when you already have your strategies and are smart enough to adapt and thrive once it is your turn.  In other words, we are all to smart and impatient to wait.  So, I played Ashton in Word Yahtzee, Ashton played James in regular Yahtzee and James played me in Rummy 500.

Rarely did any of us have to wait, nor were we rushed for time.  Each game could go as slow or fast as we needed it to go.  If you got a break, and actually had to wait for a turn, you got to drink your drink or eat a snack.  If one of the games ended, you would just start a new one of the same type with the same person, though I suppose you could play something new altogether.

This morning, everyone is singing and has music in their hearts.  There has been no yelling, no fussing.  Everyone has been treating one another with respect…can I get this for you?  Here, I thought you would like this.  I am sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.  Very harmonious.

Indeed, today, with God’s grace and gift of togetherness, our family can truly be called “Harmonious Monks.

I will post some pics later.

First Day of Graduate School


Everyone kept asking me if I was nervous.  Heck, it’s only been 11 years since I got my Bachelors…can’t be too bad.

btw, my Mommy sent me an email from her blackberry asking for a “first day of school” picture!<3 My heart melted right then.  Sweet…but was I nervous?

Well, a lot is different now.  Everything is electronic.  I don’t own any of the fancy iThingies or eReaders or whatever.  And Renting books is now an option?  We used to call that a cork board at the student center back when I was in college.  Typing during class would have been considered horribly rude…back then.

I was only mildly frazzled when I realized that I had 12 chapters to read and a several page personal assessment to complete before the first day of class, and the bookstore didn’t have my books, and then was closed for what seemed like forever! (Still don’t have 2 of my 4 books!)

Ok, so there was quite a bit to be nervous about.  But I wasn’t.

Right now, I am personally a mess!  Why else would I be blogging?  seriously?

On one level, I can’t wait to absorb every morsel of information (btw, one class this term is Family Counseling), and use it to help my family through this mess of a life I have made for them.

Wow.  I just said it.

Anyways, I have my “own agenda” planned for this educational journey I have embarked upon.

Then, I look at the professional side of it.  Truly, I have always been a counselor or mother to people.  It seems to be so instilled in me that I now could not imagine anything else.  Because, see…my ULTIMATE goal is to be able to use what I learn help me have more knowledge about counseling and relational dynamics when I begin my independent living foster care home.  (I would be lying to you if I said it wouldn’t be named Mama’s House or something similar.)

I have my “own agenda” once again.

In the meantime, I work in a vocations office at a convent.  How would the skills of counseling NOT be beneficial in several real and potential opportunities?  No pressure from work to get the skills, or to do well.  I just get to use what I am already learning.  Bonus!

What it all boils down to, is that I have no deadlines to finish…no pressures to do well.  For me, the Masters degree at the end seems like it would be the icing on the cake.

THEN…

Add the fact that I LOVE this stuff.  I love the “hows” of why people function and how to help them and how to help myself and my own family.  Throw a spiritual twist on it all, and how is that not Paradise?

Exactly.  I was not nervous about tonight.  I was excited.

Well, that is “my version” of the story.  I think God has another version…last year, while volunteering at the Women’s Wellness Retreat where I work, I had an epiphany.  I had been wanting for years to get my Masters, but never could decide on a field.  That Saturday night, deep in contemplation, I heard God’s voice whisper in my ear.

I have always loved psychology, but never liked the clinical aspect.  I literally never knew that a degree in Pastoral Counseling existed…until that weekend.

After I heard God’s whisper, I went down to my office (convenient, huh?) and looked up a degree on spiritual counseling and ended up at Loyola.  When I read the description of the degree program, I realized what was right.  Right then, at that very moment.  It was such a celebration of emotion.  So, this afternoon, when I walked onto campus, that elation was with me.  I knew it was right.

I knew I was on the path God provided.

I knew I was there to learn.

And I was excited to absorb.

God’s way was even more announced when I realized that this very weekend, beginning TOMORROW, is the Women’s Wellness Retreat, at which I will be volunteering once again.

See?  It doesn’t matter how I try to justify it…if it is God’s will, it shall be done.  THAT is why I was not nervous.  God’s honest truth!  😉

“Son, You’re Adopted”


Many of you know that my kids are all adopted from foster care.  It has never been a secret…except for my youngest, now 9.  Up until a month ago, he did not know he was adopted.

All of his life, I have had very open dialogue about adoption and foster care.  He knew of his older brother’s history, and they had many conversations about that.  When we watched movies like “Annie,” I would have discussions with Ashton about what an “orphanage” was and how some parents either cannot or will not take care of their children and how they end up in foster care…etc. etc. etc.

I have always approached the concept of adoption as being a gift from God.  And it is…

About three months ago, I had a discussion with “my baby daddy” about preparing to tell Ashton the truth EVER.  Of course, he didn’t ever want to tell him, because he looks and acts so much like us that he just wanted Ashton to always feel like he was biological.

I, on the other hand, could not bear the thought of him finding out from someone else, and then hating us forever because we “lied to him.”  Which, by the way, we had NEVER done.  I refused to ever lie to him, but when faced with any sort of situation about biological relation, I always found a way to respond with “You are a blessing from God.”

So, Bryan and I talked and decided what we would say, just in case Ashton asked (he had recently been asking about “blood relatives” which left me seriously tap dancing around the conversation!)  We also both agreed that it was not the right time to just come out and tell him.  Our lives have been so stressed, and Ashton is already dealing with divorce and changing schools again.

However, God had a different plan than we did.

A month ago, Ashton asked me something about his older brothers, and I responded with something like, “no, it is because they were in foster care.”  Then it came!

“Was I ever in foster care?  Mommy, am I adopted?”

Wow!  I looked at him, let out a slight <sigh> and said, “have a seat, son.  Yes, you were adopted.”  I said a silent prayer that God give me the words to say.

Ashton and I like to “freak people out” so one of the fun things we do is try on super high heels at Goodwill. 🙂

I began to tell him “Our Story” about how Bryan and I could not have children, how sad we were, and how hard we had tried.  (I had always wanted to be a mommy…even when I was under 2 years old, I would use my own diapers on my baby dolls.  It is ALWAYS who I am) so I was very sad when I couldn’t have children.  

I continued with the story of how God brought him into our lives.  (Ashton’s Adoption Story)

I finished with how he ended up in foster care.  I will choose NOT to share this portion of the story, because it is really Ashton’s story to tell…but I will say this: He was in the hospital for the first month of his life, and with a medical foster family until he became part of our family.  His mother gave him up for adoption because she KNEW she could not take care of 3 children, and she was fighting to keep the two she had.  With what I have seen and experienced working IN foster care, I KNOW that is the most loving gift a mother can give her child.  (I have goosebumps right now…just typing this!) 

Once I had finished talking, Ashton asked several questions about his biological parents.  He wanted to know if I had ever met them.  I also let him know that he has a brother (4 yrs older) and a sister (5 yrs older) and told him some about his first foster parents (an older couple who cared for medical needs foster children). 

He then became very excited about looking through his baby stuff.  Fortunately, his biological parents had given him some trinkets while he had been in the hospital and his foster mother had kept a few momentos from his first 11 months.  I, of course, had added to the memoirs over time.  I showed him the first toy that Bryan and I ever bought for him, and the snakeskin cowboy boots that his Nanny bought for him when he was not even 18 months old.  He snuggled on the stuffed bear that his biological mother had left in his crib at the hospital, and he laughed at the cloth diaper that he used to chew on (instead of a pacifier).  He was shocked at the teeny tiny baby t-shirt he wore from the hospital when he was born.

This was NOT the first time Ashton and I had gone through his baby memories.  But this WAS the first time that I could be honest and tell him exactly from whom each piece came.  He was so curious and accepting…I was amazed.  Even now, I think of how incredible a little boy he is, and I am grateful each and every day for the blessing of Ashton in my life (ALL of my kids, for that matter!)  I am also thankful to God that He guided the conversation in a manner that comforted and nurtured Ashton.