Friday, February 3, 2017
This is what I wrote and read at my dad's funeral on Jan. 31, 2017. I miss you every day dad. I know they say it will get easier, but I'm just not seeing that yet.
My dad was a builder.
And I say that, not in the sense he was a carpenter, although we all know he loved working with wood. I can’t look in any room of my house without seeing something he created. From Claire’s American Girl doll bed, to my grandfather clock, to the glider in my guest room, I see his handiwork everywhere. And in fact he is being buried in a metal casket because it pained him to think of all that beautiful wood going to waste. His feeling is that it was better used to create a thing of beauty than to be buried in the ground.
What I mean by him being a builder, is that he could take the pieces of things and make something beautiful.
He built our family with my mom. I don’t know many families like ours, and I contribute so much of that to the way my dad raised us. We were taught that each member of the family was like a piece to the puzzle, and that we are all at our most complete and strong when we are all together. He instilled in us all the importance of family, and that has now been passed to our children. This family is strong, and united, and full of love, because my dad built us that way.
He built a business. For over 40 years my dad practiced chiropractic in this community. He believed more than almost anything that his purpose on this planet, that his God given gift, was to help heal people. And heal people he did. He built his business with the philosophy that the body has the capacity to heal itself. And he spent his adult life using that philosophy to rebuild the health of so many. With the gift he carried in his hands, he made people feel better, and with the kindness in his heart, he listened to their stories, their fears, and their joys. He built a business based in his own beliefs, unlike none other I have ever known.
He helped build this community. Through his work in his business, his work with the Chamber, the school board, Lions club, his church, and many other things, his contributions were many. He often didn’t sit quietly when he didn’t agree with things, and you always knew where he stood. He always stood up when he felt things weren’t right, and honestly sometimes, just because he liked a good argument. But no matter what, he cared about what happened here. He cared about his neighbors, and his community.
And here is the one that’s hardest to speak about. He helped build me. I’m not speaking in the biological sense, although that is true…. What I mean, and what I am afraid I will miss the most, is he had this ability to take the parts of my life that seemed scattered and sometimes broken, and help me rebuild them into something better and stronger. Dad was the glue that put me back together so many times. When there were things in my life that seemed dark and made me ashamed, he was the one who showed me that there was always a lesson, and that we could always come back if we chose too. When relationships failed, he always said to me that it was because it wasn’t the right one and to hold on because it would come, and it did. When my son was sick and the future was just too scary to contemplate, he was there with me at night in the hospital telling me I was strong enough to make it, and Andy would “show them and be just fine.” And he was right.
That is the builder I will miss the most. The one who always had the right words to make it feel better. The one who had the glue to put the pieces back in place. Because for all the beauty he created for the rest of the world, the beauty he created for me was tenfold.
This leads me to my final thought.
He built a foundation. As I think back on all I have mentioned above, I know that although his loss is painful and hard, and as many times as I will want to pick up the phone to ask “Dad…what do I do about this?” I know if I look in my heart, I already have the answers. He built the foundation in me that gives me reason, and bravery, and FAITH, and the ability to argue, and see the humor, and see the good in all. HE taught me that. All the things he helped me with I can do now on my own. Because I have the answers I need.
And I have them, because my dad was a builder.
Friday, September 23, 2016
It has four chambers. It pumps blood throughout my body supplying oxygen and nutrients to my tissues to sustain my life. In it’s most basic scientific function….it is what keeps me alive.
But if you look beyond science to the essence of the heart, it represents to me so much more. It is where my soul resides. Where I love. Where I hurt. And where MY very being resides. It’s sounds a little hokey, I know….but it’s what I believe.
I have recently had some tough days. Days where I need to fall back on what I know to be true, that I am a good person who deserves happiness, and love, and compassion….
And what I have realized, is that I think my heart is leaking.
Inside my heart, I store not only my love for those in my life, but also my love for myself, and some time ago, I think the chamber that houses my own self compassion and love, has slowly begun to leak away. It wasn’t damaged, or broken, or stolen from me….it just began to slowly seep away. And I don’t even think I noticed….until the day I needed it, and there just wasn’t enough there.
I can feel my heart physically beat strong in my chest. I can see my heart rate on my monitor I wear on my wrist. But I can’t FEEL the part of it that makes me feel strong. It’s working on the scientific level, my blood is pumping, but the essence is tired.
So, in thinking about my heart, I know what I need to do. I need to once again find kindness and compassion for myself. I need to allow myself to care for my own needs, and feel what needs to be felt. I need to remember, that I am not always a pillar of strength, and sometimes I need to lean upon others to keep me growing strong.
I need to remember that quote about not being able to fill other’s cups if my own is empty.
But more than all of that, I think I need to take a minute every day, and place my hand upon my heart and feel it. Feel it beating. Feel it pumping my blood, and remember what that means. This life I have is powerful and true. I need to remind myself that there is room in my heart for love and compassion for myself as well as those that I love so dearly. That will keep my spirit strong. It will make me a better mother, a better wife, and a better friend. It has to start with me.
So I guess I’ll start there.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Nobody warned me this would be so hard.
Growing up. It’s hard.
I watch my children change on a daily basis it seems. One entering high school for the first time tomorrow. Filled with excitement, and wonder, and terror all at once. My worry for her is being happy. Finding her place. Knowing without a doubt that she is a good person, worthy of love and happiness. That no matter who is “popular” that she is VALUABLE. A much more important and powerful adjective.
The second….my boy. Starting 7th grade. I have very strong protective feelings for him. They told us he may not walk, or talk, or thrive. And he did them all. He’s smart, and funny, and happy. I want him to see that his quirkiness is a gift. That his focus is an asset, and his contribution to this world may not be as an athlete, but he will make great things happen. He may not be a sports hero, but his life is a MIRACLE.
We watch them, our children. We watch them succeed, and we watch them struggle. We watch them grow, and become these amazing, wonderful, beautiful people. We cry when they cry. We smile when they smile. We do our jobs as parents, and we do our best to teach them well.
They grow up in front of us, and we do what we can to help them navigate the path. But that is not the “growing up” I was speaking of being so hard.
I’m speaking of my own growing up.
Nobody warned me that every success, or joy, or fear they experience would only show me how far I still have to go. I do my best. I love my kids…..but every part of being a parent shows me that “growing up” doesn’t stop at a certain age.
I still have lessons to learn. I still have realizations about myself to make. I still have journeys to navigate and adventures to have. And not matter how old I seem to be getting, there is always more for me to grasp.
I still face the first day of school with butterflies in my stomach, not only for the changes in their lives, but also for the changes in mine. Each year brings us new adventures, new happiness, new sadness, and new lessons to learn. Each year also brings the realization that as they grow, they need us in different ways, and that as time passes we get closer to them not needing us as much at all.
Growing up is hard, because what I am finding is that growing up, really, is trusting in ourselves, whether it’s what to wear the first day of school or if we’ve done our jobs as a parent. And that’s hard. It was hard as a kid, and it’s hard as an adult.
I have to trust I’m doing well, and I have to trust they will too.
Growing up is hard. For us all.
Monday, October 5, 2015
This past weekend I was sitting in my driveway at a firepit, and my neighbor’s daughter (who is 14) was there and we were talking.
We were having a conversation about school, and social media, and friendship, and Homecoming, and more. This girl is amazing, and she is one of my favorite people. So much so, that I spent a night with my adult friends, talking mostly to her. And she had a lot to say…..some incredibly funny, and some pretty serious, and some that really made me think.
I was telling her something my eighth grade daughter had said to me about not wanting to do anything to embarrass herself that would follow her to high school. And my young friend exclaimed “I KNOW!! I COMPLETELY AGREE!” And I tried to impart my adult wisdom to her saying something like “be yourself” or whatever. And here is what she said…
“I know it seems that way. But I think it’s harder for my generation than it was for yours, because everything goes on Instagram or Facebook. It’s ALL out there.”
And I got to thinking about that, and you know what? She’s right.
It is so much harder in some respects. When I was home on a weekend with my family, I wasn’t bombarded with photos of what everyone was else was doing. I didn’t’ have to look at pictures of all the parties I wasn’t included in, or the dance I wasn’t at, or notice if suddenly my friend count was down. Who left me? Why? What did I do?
I didn’t have to worry about someone posting a picture of me that I didn’t’ like, or that made me look silly. I didn’t have to worry that anyone would comment on a picture or a comment saying something negative. WE didn’t worry what our rate would be, or TBH. I worried when I was at school, and I worried when I was out, but when I was home…..I was safe. I was protected.
Our kids are not.
And I hate it. People who won’t speak to you in person will see moments in your life that don’t involve them. They will comment, and make judgement. Our kids are putting so much of their lives out there for social acceptance, and it’s hurting them.
I don’t know what the answer to this is. Good or bad, social media is here. We all take selfies, and snap photos with our phones, and comment and look and post…. But I guess what I am going to take away from this is to try to teach my kids that their success or failure has nothing to do with how many followers they have. I am going to encourage them to live their lives big, and if they choose to post about it, to do it without apology. If you are living your life truly, then let the rest be damned.
I know I can’t take the pain of growing up away. Middle school is brutal, and I can only imagine what high school will bring for them, but I hope I can somehow convince them to live big.
Don't let the internet make you small. EVER!
LIVE BIG FOR YOURSELF. And don’t spend so much time looking at what everyone else is doing. Because TBH, Like for a rate, and all that other BS will mean nothing when they find what truly makes them happy.
And I hope my neighbor hears me too.
Monday, August 24, 2015
I went to the gym today.
It’s been a while. And I always feel a little dread when I know a workout is going to be hard. But I went. AGAIN.
And even though I haven’t been in a while it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t go back. That even though I have gained a little or lost a little or whatever, that no matter what, no matter how long has passed, no matter how much I know it might suck, I ALWAYS go back.
And I had a little light bulb moment that has been brewing in my head for a while.
I belong to a great gym. Anytime Fitness in Liberty is awesome. I love the staff, my trainer who I have been with for several YEARS is there and he rocks. I have friends I can always count on for a hello when I am there….. It’s great. And I have very little to complain about except this.
Before and Afters.
Corporate gyms always post the before and afters of their “success” stories to motivate people, and lately I have seen on their pages the “share your story” or “how did you succeed” stories and it has really gotten me down. I don’t have that perfect “after” photo to share. I have worked and worked, and lost and gained, and broken bones, and torn things, and sweat my BUTT off, done a half marathon, and still the struggle remains. And what the gym industry is showing me through their campaign is that unless I am a perfect size 6, they may not care quite as much about my story because it’s not as glossy and sexy as losing 100 pounds and competing in my first body building contest. I haven’t cured myself of diabetes, or anything dramatic. And sometimes when I’m feeling low, I look at that and feel like somehow all the lifestyle changes I have made aren’t important if I don’t have a miraculous makeover to show for it.
But my story counts.
My story is important.
And I have an “after” too.
You see, my “after” isn’t a picture. It’s a part of my life. If you look at me, there are things that are different, my hair is longer (and greyer), I have a few more wrinkles, but my weight hasn’t changed a lot. My “after” isn’t something you can necessarily see.
My “after” may look very similar to my “before” from a physical standpoint, but what has changed is the place that health and fitness sits in my life.
Because NOW I would never dream of quitting.
I have been consistently exercising since 2008 when I started this journey, and now I would never even entertain the thought of NOT going back to the gym, no matter how long it has been. It’s become part of who I am, and part of what makes me feel good as a person.
That’s my after.
That’s the change I have made. And it’s just as valuable, even IF it’s not as marketable. J
I am by NO MEANS taking anything from those amazing transformation pictures. I know folks who have been featured and their stories are nothing short of inspiring. I read them sometimes to motivate myself.
I just think it’s important that people understand that that isn’t the ONLY form of success.
Sometimes it’s a little less noticeable, but not at all less admirable or important. I proved that to myself today as my trainer kicked my butt. I won’t quit. Ever. And that’s something to be really proud of.
It may not look like much, but the change has been immense.