Saith Me… Destiny

Destiny seems to be one part supernatural and one part self-determination. We may not always feel in control of where we are going in the universe, but we always have a choice as to what road we travel and what attitude to take when climbing the mountains in our path.

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Saith Me… Truth and Compassion

Speaking the truth, particularly when the subject is a negative one, must be done with care. Life’s difficult lessons seldom need harsh reinforcement. When the truth is shared compassionately, there is a greater chance that a lesson will be learned rather than rejected out of self-protection and defense.

Those wise enough to both see the need to share the truth and share it compassionately are rare and are priceless beyond measure. For it takes great courage to be a person of truth and compassion in a world where the truth is used to harm and compassion is seen as weak.

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Pain Sucks, Life Doesn’t

Pain sucks, but life doesn’t. Whether it is physical or emotional, sometimes it is easy to forget that it is pain not life to which we want an end.

Chronic physical pain can lead to emotional pain and can be compounded by the pains of loss and loneliness. A bad day can turn into a bad week, then a bad month becomes a bad year. As with most creatures, the pain causes us to withdraw from those who seem unable to understand or assist. Caring people seem too busy or seem too happy to be bothered with the task of giving us a lift. Unlike the temporary pain most people experience, chronic pain never leaves. Sometimes it can diminish and give us a rare glimpse of relief, but then it can flare back up worse than ever. Some chronic pain sufferers face an ever shifting collection of pain that causes even the closest of loved ones to become frustrated.

Pain can seem all consuming and extremely defeating. Pain sucks, but life, despite the pain, contains joy and beauty. The dark lenses of pain may dim the light, but they do not eradicate it or cease it to exist. Daily life for people in pain requires a constant effort to see past the dark lenses, to see the light. Their efforts are helped when a loved one takes the time to lift the window shades and let in greater light.

As busy as we may be, as frustrated as we might get, we must work to lift the shades and bring in the light. Sometimes it is all that prevents the misery of pain from becoming the misery of life.

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Saith Me… Progress

Progress comes when you focus on your successes while keeping an eye on what still needs to be changed.

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Saith Me… Holiday Cookies

I really must learn more self-discipline when making cookies. There is only so much butter/shortening and sugar a person can eat at one time. Four different flavors of cookies; beaters and spatulas need children and hubbies to lick clean.

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A Peaceful Thanksgiving Day

Embracing something new this year for Thanksgiving. Guilt free, stress free time with my husband.

When we were first married, the holidays were very stressful. Then the kids came and matters became much worse. Fibromyalgia undermined the holidays, especially Thanksgiving in those years when the kids were small and we did not know what caused my intense bouts of pain and fatigue. We did, however, know that participating in a game of holiday grandparent tug-of-war made me ill.

Eventually, the holidays became a time where my small family chose to stay home. Our door was always open, to family and friends alike. I would bake and cook and fill the table until it groaned. A few times friends joined us at that table, but most often it was just our small family of four.

After a very tough year of loss and a year when diagnosis finally explained my ill health, I asked my son to take over the Thanksgiving preparations. He was still a youth of twelve but he loved the challenge. From then on, Thanksgiving was his day.

Thanksgiving in my youth was all about the extended family and the food. Thanksgiving as a young wife and young mother was stressful. I tried my hardest counter the negativity of extended family contention. I learned that in a big family, the craziness is just part of the holiday tradition, but in a very small family, the craziness is unhealthy.

Year by year all our family shrank in size as age and illness took their toll. But with loss came the realization that the contention was gone as well.

We knew it would be awhile before our family would grow again. Knowing that the future would bring new members to our family caused us to ponder how to make the holidays different for the next generation.

These last few years found us carving out blissful memories as we carved the turkey. The holiday season became one of giving, of seeking others for whom we could share our bounty. Our table groaned less under the weight of food, but rather, gifts of food found their way to other tables.

Each holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, my children would focus on the gifts they could share with others outside our home. My son embraced the task of giving bread and jelly. My daughter crafted gifts of yarn and fabric. Baking and needlework filled our time and filled our hearts as our simple gifts brought smiles to others. The holidays were still stressful and fatigue was still a problem for me, but now the stress revolved around helping my children learn the value of giving thanks by giving of themselves.

My kids are not in the position to come home this year. They are both embracing their chosen paths, and I am immensely grateful for the maturity in which they traverse this stage of life. I am also grateful that during the years of teaching them to give of themselves, I have learned to share them with others.

As I reflect on the holidays of the past, I embrace the notion that for a time, maybe just a short time, my husband and I can enjoy Thanksgiving Day as a couple, not so young, but without any guilt or pressure. What to some might seem sad, the two of us alone on Thanksgiving Day, is the very thing for which I am most grateful this year.

I am filled with joy knowing that this year the gift I have given to others is my children and that my children can enjoy this time unfettered by guilt, sorrow, jealousy, and contention, at least not from me.

I am also filled with peace on this Thanksgiving Day; a peace emanating from the presence of good company, a bountiful pantry, and love.

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Roller Coasters Rather Than Rockets

Well-balanced young people, especially those who are venturing into the world of adulthood away from home, tend to ride roller coasters rather than rockets. While this is extremely stressful, for them and for their families, it is actually a much better mode of transportation than rockets. Sometimes it may feel like the roller coaster simply goes in an unending loop, but unlike the rocket, the roller coaster remains on a sure track. Rockets on the other hand shoot off into space and seldom land gently back to earth. The chance of crashing or burning up on reentry is much greater than the chance of roller coaster derailment.

As a parent who chose to homeschool her children, I have faced more opposition than support in my decision. With the public or private school options there is no guarantee that the children will succeed, but there is a greater notion that utter failure will be less the parents fault than the systems fault. With homeschooling, from day one, there is the fear (more often the public’s not the parent’s) that the children will be socially inept, and the blame will rest solely on the parents. Homeschooling takes years and therefore the parents live with this worry for a long time; a worry that accompanies the worry that all parents share, the worry of a child rocketing wildly through life only to crash and burn on landing.

My kids are now off on roller coasters of their own choosing. Some days are filled with thrill and excitement, other days make them queasy. Failure and success now rest on their shoulders and their choices. They have already recognized that mom taught them well, and they know that they must now build on the foundations learned at home. Their roller coasters of life take them up and down on an undulating path, sometimes fairly extreme in its course. Over time, their course may smooth out and be less extreme, but maybe it won’t. Only time will tell. In either case as long as they do not derail, they will not crash and burn.

As for me, I am finding the job of mom different these days but strangely familiar. While the work is never done, the 24-7 routine is no more. I can’t track their every move, success, or failure. I can’t share every joy or pain. Sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it doesn’t feel so much so. Yet, early this morning something dawned on me – I succeeded. I ran the race, did the time, and persevered to the end; not to the end of their roller coaster ride, only to the end of my homeschooling ride. The questions, well-meaning concerns, and downright rude comments from friends and strangers about socialization have stopped! Why? Because like any other human, my children must now blend or standout among the human mass of diversity we call society. The skills they learned outside the classroom, as they mingled with people of all ages, are helping them find their way. Amazingly, they are finding that they have less bad habits than their contemporaries, and I am not speaking of the bad habits like drugs, etc. I am speaking of the habits learned in the classroom: regurgitating rather than thinking, seeking the grade rather than the knowledge, and working the system rather than the task. Added to these habits are the learned anxieties that come from a system that puts monetary and popular success above the health of one’s body and mind.

Today as I write, my children are riding their roller coasters, and while I still stress over their journeys, they have shared with me their gratitude for the lessons I taught them. Lessons which have helped them stay in the tracks rather than derail. Certainly, they have long lives to live and there are no guarantees, but it is a comfort to know that my journey as a homeschooling mom, with all its bumps and bends, was a successful roller coaster ride. I did not derail, crash, or burn.

 

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Joys of Sending Care Packages

The joys of sending care packages:

  1. Anticipating the reaction of your child upon receiving the package. Envisioning their rapture and delight in discovering what mom has sent.
  2. Watching as the 2-day delivery turns into 7 and tracking your package around the country all the while hoping the peach jam is safe and enjoying the journey.
  3. Relief when realizing the delay did not result in peach jam covered hiking boots and wool hats.

 

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