Thursday, February 15, 2018

Green Ball

I look for inspiration in writing almost daily. I rarely write when I don’t have a strong, overwhelming NEED to write. I felt that pang to write today. I initially was going to write about something as small as a molecule.  Yup, a molecule. Something so small that looks like a whole other galaxy under a microscope. With all the memes and Facebook videos streaming through our lives, one in particular has stuck in my head. It depicts a giant green ball being led by a rope that appears to be walking it, as if it were a family pet. The title of the video was “This is happiness”. I’ve included it as the photo for my blog. So freaking cute. A myosin protein dragging an endorphin along a filament to the inner part of the brain's parietal cortex which creates happiness. Who knew that a protein is so adorable. I initially was going to write about all the myosin proteins swirling around in our bodies during Valentine’s Day and what not. I initially was going to go into depth into my myocin thresholds yada yada yada. Not today. And please hold that thought about the protein while I go off on another tangent.

I watch the Olympics for the sport of it, of course. I love to see people pushing their limits and living their dreams.; however, it’s more than that to me. I like to watch the ‘aftermath’. After the runs, the twirls, the racing, etc….I like to see who the athletes run to. I like to see a semi-god of an athlete, an epitome of determination and focus, …become a real person. One who searches the crowd of photographers and fans to find their ‘happiness’; their ‘love’; their ‘reasons’. The 17 year old Gold medalist who finishes her half pipe and whips off her snowboard boots and her helmet and says “where’s my mom”.  And as tears of joy run down their faces, which minutes prior were steadfast and focused, I always think that I want to collect their tears. WTF Amy (I can hear you saying that now). I want to take a little vial and collect the tears of these athletes when they are at the pinnacle of their lives. I wonder if their tears, much like the myosin protein, look different then the tears of perhaps someone who is sad, or scared, or reflective. Do their tears have a zillion tiny proteins on leashes walking around in them? Freaking happy protein parade? Do sad people have different looking proteins walking in their tears?

Watching the news this morning we are reminded of the school shootings happening in our lives. They flashed to the Sandy Hook attack. A photograph showed children being led out of the school after the massacre. One little girl’s face in that photo promoted this blog post. Utter fear and terror was on her face. But within her grimacing look I could see that it wasn’t so much what had just occurred within her peaceful little school, but it was a look saying, “I need my mom/dad”. You could actually see that expression. And her tears were steaming down her face and landing on her once dry rainbow t-shirt. That innate NEED for someone or something. I thought of her tears, too! What a contrast there would be if we could see them under the light of a microscope against those in a completely opposite tearful moment. All the events that are occurring inside of us that we don’t even know are happening. I hope that little girl and all these young people have those happy molecule walks that will far outweigh any of the bad stuff.

The shooter…a troubled boy…lived with some family friends, ‘since the death of his mother’ as stated on the news. Perhaps when his body was at it’s lowest point and he couldn’t feel that happiness microscopically running through his body he was also looking for his reason out in the crowd; perhaps that was his mother that was no longer there. And in all the pain and hatred and anger that this horrible, horrible person did to his former classmates, you see how people, whether the gold medalist athlete or the worst possible person imaginable, to the innocent child or the guilty adult; that there is one thing that we all have in common. It can’t be seen but we feel it ever day. It can’t be seen but we show it daily. It can’t be seen but it drives us in both positive and perhaps negative ways. It’s that damn little protein on a leash looking for all the other little protein friends in this big beautiful body of ours. It’s the happiness we feel when we know we are loved and we know we can love that person back, whether we are on the top of a mountain going for the gold or in the darkest depths at the bottom of your hill and see no way out.

My wish for you is to always search for your ‘faces in the crowd’…the ones who make your happiness walk around in your body a million miles over…and never lose faith that rainbows after the rain will dry up someday and you can be at the top of your mountains once again.  

Friday, December 1, 2017


The scrapbook of my life is divided into two sections. The first section is my childhood. I define my childhood as the time that my mother was alive. The second section is everything that happened after; from college, kids, marriage, basically the ‘meat and potatoes’ of a life well lived. Christians define the time period before Jesus as BC (before Christ) and after his death as AD (After Death). This is how my book would be determined as well. This is also why the date of December 3 feels like an abrupt stop on the stopwatch we call life. Even within the decorating for the holidays, I mentally find myself whispering “we just need to get through December 3”. The last time I talked to my mom before she died was November 29. It was a Thursday. I was doing math homework. She was laying in bed…the same bed she had been in for many years. I was assigned to care for her while my grandmother ran errands. Small talk. Useless conversation. Nothing special being said to each other. Just kinda sitting with her until my grandmother came home so I could bounce off to do things that college kids do. I couldn’t wait to run out the door. Not because I didn’t want to sit with my mom…not at all. I was just “busy”. Three days would pass until I went back to the house. Three days until my life changed forever. Three days until I got the call that she opened her eyes one sunny morning on December 3 and asked her where her dad was and upon his entering her room she closed her eyes and…well…died.

 I wish I could tell you about the windtunnel of emotions that happened after that moment. From sitting with her lifeless body; to never wanting to let her go from the room which three days prior was the last place I wanted to be. I imagine it was the last place she wanted to be as well. And when I close my eyes I can recollect every single minute of that day and the days to follow with unheard-of clarity. The feeling of my grandmother’s comforter scratchy against my skin as I lay on the bed sobbing. The details from the Hospice nurse files that were accidentally left on the kitchen table stating that she knew her time was not very long here. The way we had to locate my brother in San Diego and also carefully tell my 8 ½ month pregnant sister. The funeral home visits…the pure devastation and unraveling of a family. I had my mother for 24 years. Not long enough. I imagine if I had her for 94 years it still wouldn’t be enough time. One thing I learned is that time does not heal wounds. Nope…don’t believe anyone who tells you that! If I close my eyes and reflect on that time of my life and the fact that I have to navigate this earth without my mother, I am as utterly devastated as if it were 24 hours ago, not 24 years. I cried this morning…out of the blue. And I will probably cry for the rest of my life when I think  of her and what she missed out on. I told my Ashley that December 3 will be 24 years without my mom as we drove around doing Mother/Daughter things today. She said that means you were 24 when she died. She also stated how close that is to their own ages now and how bad that would be at this age to lose your mom. What I heard was quite different… what I heard was that on December 3 it will be exactly half my life without my mom at this point. It will be a marker that after this date in this year I will actually have had less time with my mother than I have actually lived. And then it will be that I have lived longer without a mother than with one. This stings hard. It pierces my heart to the core. My favorite show is This Is Us. I imagine if my mom were alive we would have watched this show together. It tackles death and family and love. They said it beautifully, whoever the writers of the show are. I imagine that they must have felt some pain of loss in their own lives to write so perfectly. They describe family as a painting…and all the colors of the painting run together and overlap. They stated, “Life is full of color. And we each get to come along and we add our own color to the painting, you know? And even though it’s not very big, the painting, you sort of have to figure that it goes on forever, you know, in each direction. The fact that just because someone dies, just because you can’t see them or talk to them anymore, it doesn’t mean they’re not still in the painting”.  As I am approaching another year as a ‘motherless daughter’, the worst title ever, I need to remind myself that she is still in the painting even if I can’t see her. Even if I can’t wrap my arms around her, I can still see her as being very present in my life. My kids talk about Grandma Carol. I gave her that name, although I am not sure what they would have called her if they could have had the opportunity to name her on their own. When I talk about Grandma Carol I can feel my children tense up and tiptoe around me, because they know how very sad her loss was to me. I imagine someday they will understand what that loss feels like. I imagine someday their lives will be separated into ‘Before’ and ‘After’. I imagine someday they will count the years and the tears will roll down their faces decades later. Maya Amgelou wrote a poem called ‘When Great Trees Fall’ . It’s a powerful poem. Here is an excerpt:

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words
promised walks
never taken.

December 3, 1993 a great tree fell. MY great tree fell. And I am left with this beautiful painting; with swatches and colors intertwined; celebrating a life of a person who left us far too soon. And every day of my life I am reminded that I have lived more years without her than I had with her. And in that memory I know that her colors are reflected in all of us…shining bright.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Burger King

Empty nest. Sounded so nice some ten years ago when every last minute of the day was filled with a little person that needed MOM MOM MOM MOM. When night consisted of picking up every last toy on the ground the whole time knowing within hours the carpet would consist of army men and legos and puzzles and fun. I personally rocked every one of my children to sleep. I came up with the great plan of sleeping with all of my babies. Not so much for the sake of having them with me but more because of time management. I didn’t have to run from bedroom to bedroom. I didn’t have to sing “Mamas Little Baby” three separate times. Mamas little baby likes dancing, dancing…Mamas little baby likes to boogey down. And ‘boogeying’ down with a huge 8 year old boy in your arms aint that easy. So I shifted my schedule. I adapted to their needs…and mine. I lived for them and them alone. Don’t get me wrong I still LIVE for my children. I would gladly give any part of me if they needed it HANDS DOWN. Some designer said that the only real love in the world is the love between a mother and her children. That kind of love is real and true and clean and pure. I get it. Yes I believe that! I often look around my home which is filled with photos of my life with my children. My kids think its ‘clutter’.  My decorating technique consists of photos of my babies at various stages of their lives. Everywhere. What else would I want on my walls or filling my shelves. Nothing! And when I have my morning coffee and I wander around my home I often find myself crying. I have such a blessed life. I am so lucky that I have this wonderful family and these beautiful children that are kind and loving and smart and honest and people you want to sit down with and have a conversation with. That is how I raised them. I raised them to be that warm cup of coffee; that belly hurting laugh; that come and give me a hug when you need it; that brush the hair out of your eyes; that sit with your dog and rub his tummy; that let me listen to your story; that ‘its my last dollar let me help’ type of people. I NEEDED to raise them to have these qualities. I needed to raise 3 more people to live on this earth to think like this…about others…about what matters…about caring and loving and compassion. I had a bedridden mother most of my life. I KNOW without a doubt in my body that my compassion for others came from those years as her caregiver. I tell my kids pretty much daily about those years. I tell them about those years because I pray daily that they will develop the compassion that is 100% necessary in this world. I pray and I pray and I pray and I pray and then I get a phone call and its Parker saying he’s waiting outside of a Burger King with a young homeless man who he is helping get into a rehab because he was crying alone in a parking lot. Or I get a phone call from Hannah that she is friends with all the homeless people at her college. Or Ashley is telling me that she wants to make sandwiches for the homeless and distribute them around town.  Mother Theresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Teach that. Demonstrate that. Be vigilant about that! If they have that then the next 60, 70, 80 yeas of their lives will be a good world to live in. We belong to each other. I had a long conversation with a friend of mine yesterday about the whole standing for the anthem thing. We are all divided on that issue. I understand the ‘meaning’ behind it and the ‘reason’ some kneel..okokok. but then I talked to a mom whose child is at some military academy that starts with a ‘Fort’ and when they mention it you have to act like you know what they are talking about but you have no idea…anywaysssss…. She said ‘It’s my son’s 19th birthday but he is at Fort XYZ becoming a Marine’. HE IS AT FORT XYZ BECOMING A MARINE! Her baby is learning how to defend our country. It sounds like a broad term ‘defend our country’ but what it really means is that I can wake up on a Sunday morning and make a fresh pot of coffee and go outside and listen to the birds sing while petting my dogs and text my babies and ask if they want to come over because I’m cooking bacon. I can do that because some mom taught her child how to be compassionate enough to care about how my Sunday morning will go because he is at some place called Fort XYZ learning to be a Marine. With that being said, my baby turned 19 today. He is NOT at some FORT place becoming a Marine. He is in a dorm room about 115 miles (exactly) from me, probably hours away from being awake and even caring that today is his birthday. I used to fill the house with balloons when they woke up each morning on their birthdays. It was a grand event! I have to admit that I don’t know how to do birthdays anymore. If I fill the house with balloons my dogs just look at me like wtf. So I send some texts that read: ‘want me to come down and take you to lunch on your birthday?’…or ‘text me back please I want to know what you want to do on your birthday’……… and then I wait…..tick tock….he’s probably still asleep….. he is asleep. But he will wake up as a 19 year old. Let me tell you what that 19 year old looks like. He is a bowl full of laughter. He has the wit of his uncle. He is ‘Parker with the pretty eyes’ (earned that name in kindergarten). He is a top ranked athlete in Arizona. He is a kid who hung up his cleats when all the world gasped to ‘try something else’. He is a die-hard fraternity member. He holds the world in his hands as he gently tests the waters one toe at a time. He messes up…sure he does…I wouldn’t have it any other way….to learn to be human is a valuable lesson. I know without a doubt that he will defend our country some day in some shape or form. If you meet this person know that behind the dimples and the ‘pretty eyes’ is a great man…who genuinely GENUINELY cares about you whether he knows you or not, because he has a mother some 115 miles away, with unfilled balloons, that taught him that compassion is what matters the most. Oh, and he STANDS when he hears the anthem…we all stand… because there’s some mom who has a son at some place called Fort XYZ that is turning 19 and learning how to be a Marine on his birthday.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saw It

“No one is ever quite ready; everyone is always caught off guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you've got, say "Oh, my gosh," and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It's not a question of choice.” 

Hi Moms, and Dads, and friends who treat those kids as their own, and fellow ‘villagers’ who help to raise them, and dads that are moms, and step moms, and whatever the hell you want to call yourself if you are raising a child that came out of your body or just simply one that lives in your heart…

If you know me (and you all know me by now) I have a love of words…and maybe someday when I am too old or tired to do my figure competitions I will find something to write about and finally write that book. In the meantime I will be happy with putting my thoughts in this blog and sharing my mind with you all. It is just as important to have a healthy mind as it is a healthy body. This is why I saturate myself with self help books, and sermons and inspirational quotes…. I heard a sermon the other day and I thought I would share it with you. “You cannot BE what you do not SEE”…
Oh, but I did SEE it… I saw her at every important event as my eyes searched the crowd for the most important people in the room; I saw it when I stepped in the car after a long day at school and was asked how my day was; I saw it when family vacations were meticulously planned to maximize togetherness; I saw it when I cried, when I laughed, when I hurt, when I was alone, when I was in a crowded room, I saw it when her face was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last voice I heard at night. I saw it when I needed a cheerleader or just an ear. I saw it in the way she held my hand or brushed my hair. I saw it when disease had ravaged her body but she still always had a smile on her face for me. I saw it when her final days were spent here on earth and all she wanted to do was reminisce about the family she raised. I saw it when she left….and our hearts broke. 

I saw it. 

“You cannot be what you do not see”… I saw it….and I’m trying my effing hardest to BE half the Mother that she was to me…so that my kids can SEE it and BE it to their own kids some day…. And even after she has been gone some 20 years now I still SEE it everyday…Happy Mother’s Day Mom.

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