Coming Undone

I was next at the check out counter in the grocery store. A woman with three small items came up behind me and I immediately asked her to go before me. She thanked me and was a bit shocked.

“This would never happen where I’m from!” She said.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Florida.”

I told her I was from there too. I laughed. The cashier said she was from there as well. I told her it had nothing to do with where you are from. It had to do with conscious kindness. She had three things. I had many more. I don’t even think about it as location or origins. I don’t think. It’s hard enough waiting in line. It’s not a big deal.

She looked lost in her thoughts. She began to come undone while putting her credit card in the machine. She complained about the weather being too cold, just moving here to Asheville, coming to live with her mother, having to start all over again. In less than three minutes I knew her life. She was younger than me. She was beautiful in a broken way that my heart wanted to grab her and cuddle her through love and compassion. She was completed disheveled by the act of skipping over me. I asked her to stop for one minute and just be. I asked her to just be with the moment. I refrained from going too close to her. She said thank you, paid and left. My words triggered something deep and she just couldn’t be.

I was getting in my car when I saw her still struggling with herself two cars down from me. I told her to have a good evening. To be gentle with herself. Tears formed. She waved and got in her car.

She didn’t want to be seen. She resisted the humanity. She was so deep into her own world of disappointments that she couldn’t get herself comfortable with anyone, let alone my presence. She couldn’t accept. She was way down in too much pain to feel me holding a candle for her release from darkness.

It’s okay. It’s okay to not want to come undone in front of a stranger. But, I hope that you come undone in front of someone. I hope you accept kindness and love and acknowledgment from someone. I hope you have a someone for this. It’s hard to witness and even harder to feel the feels of it all.

And this is what the holidays seem to bring up for so many. They feel forced out of their comfort zone and have to pretend.

So don’t. Don’t do anything you feel goes against your beliefs or your stability. Stay in the now. And make zero excuses for how you feel.

I love you.

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Gift of Presence

When did we forget the meaning of being in the moment? Did we even learn this simple task? As we enter the next few days of sharing with family and friends, remember to gift yourself presence. Make a note to stay here right in the moment of awareness. I have very few memories of past holidays with my children that didn’t involve stress: making sure every one was having fun, cooking, moving so fast with exhaustion through cleaning, and the merry-go-round of chaos. Very few times I was able to sit and watch and cherish those moments of pure joy and magic. The holidays always brought with them a sense of duty and lots of work. I look back and can’t understand what all the fuss was about. I cannot get back those moments of being with my young children. They will never return to my present state so I opt to make this very second count.

Gift yourself the NOW! Stay in the moment, At the end of the day the dishes will still be in the sink, the house can wait to be picked up, the wrappers can be part of the living room decor for a while, but your family and friends will not remain with you forever. Make your presence. Take it in, not with pictures, but with the awareness of the moment. I plan on allowing myself time to chill, laugh and enjoy every second that they are here! I plan on loving every moment someone shows up to say hello.

I love you all. Wishing you a safe, loving, and joyful few days. It’s never easy for some of us to navigate this holiday but with a little effort we can make it through with love and awareness. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever else you may call it. Thank you for being part of my life.

Simplicity of Grace

Two years ago I met a homeless woman outside of Starbucks. She had a supermarket cart with all her belongings near downtown Asheville. I stopped and asked if she wanted a cup of coffee as she was pushing that sucker on the sidewalk. She was sweet and said, “No thank you. I’m good!”

I asked her another question just to stop her from moving. “Are you heading to a shelter?”

She answered, “I spent the night in one. I am heading to the park. I like to feed the squirrels.” She was a jolly heavy woman probably in her sixties. For a moment her matted gray hair looked like a bird’s nest on her head but I looked closer and saw the most beautiful pins and clips holding it together. I complimented her on them. She began to take one off to give to me. I told her that I couldn’t put anything in my short hair.

“Thank you.” I asked if I could give her a hug and she happily extended her arms out so I could move into them. I wished her a nice day. She went off pushing her tiny home up the hill leaving me with such love and joy for her sweetness. I was overcome by gratitude and that day I needed it.

Here is the thing that touches me about someone who has nothing: they are willing to give a part of their nothingness. She was willing to give me a part of her life to make ME HAPPY. She wanted me to feel joy with those clips. I see a lot of this in homeless and mentally ill folks. I see a lot of these selfless acts in those who are used to having little or nothing at all.

This is the simplicity of grace. Graciousness in humanity.

So…when you are moving through this season with the stress of giving or not giving; of having or not having; please realize you have more than you need.

It takes nothing to be kind. It takes even less to make someone’s day with a smile, a small chit chat, and a sweet word. These are the folks that teach us how to truly be grateful for those things we think are important. They bring us back to humanity. The world is made of such acts. We forget that we don’t need much to give to another. Heck…just a dollar in coins is sufficient. Carry around granola bars in your car and hand them to the homeless begging on corners…they love them. And if you can’t afford that…then a hug will be just what another needs.

Happy holidays, dear friends! May you find the true meaning of a generous heart in a stranger today!

The Magic of These Times

This morning…sometime around 1:30AM the moon woke me. I stepped out of the room, tip toeing, as not to wake Matt or Kali going down the stairs. I went outside searching for what woke me, the giant eye in the sky. It was magical. I never ever get tired of sitting outside and watching the night sky and all the incredible mysticism it holds beyond our vision.

I stepped inside, cold, shaking and when I went to the bathroom I witnessed my daddy’s whiskey-color eyes staring back. I hadn’t thought about him in long time. This season always gets me nostalgic. But I also feel the magic in the air…in the sweetness of something I’ve missed for a long time.

My dad left to get a pack of cigarettes on December 23rd, when I was 9 years old. He promised that morning to take me to the store to help me make a list for Santa Claus. He left and never returned. It’s not a fairy tale story but when I look into my eyes now I see his eyes, with the lines of laughter and I have his smile.I also see the millions of reasons for the things he did…like running away when things got heavy, or avoiding dealing with craziness, or simple responsibilities. It was also what made him charming and the life of party. He didn’t have an ill bone to him. I have his crazy sarcastic wit and the ability to talk to an ant as if it was human.

He also taught me what not to become with his absence. The traits I may carry in my genetic pool aren’t for me to act on. I stay and raise my kids. I stay when it gets tough and rough. I stay when it’s way too much and my natural inkling is to run. I also stay because I love. And he taught me that. He missed out on so much. I would never want to experience his regrets and resentments. He died a painful death with cancer all throughout his body for years.

It’s taken many decades to make peace with Christmas. This time of the year sneaks up and pulls emotions out.

So, once I turned the light off I went outside again…said a few prayers to the heavens and I witnessed his response with a shooting star. Like a gorgeous flow of glitter….

That moon…those stars…that magic. Go explore it folks. It’s healing!

There is magic all around us. Do you feel it?

Daily Questions to Myself

questions

 

At the end of each day there are two questions I ask myself: Did I learn everything I could from that situation? Did I love to the best of my capacity and ability today in spite of the circumstances? Sometimes the answer is ‘yes’ to both questions. Sometimes it is a ‘yes’ and a ‘no.’ Other times, with much guilt and embarrassment, the answer is ‘no’ to both. But I am trying to get a grasp of this thing called “Being Human.” I didn’t read the manual before arriving here on earth. I’ve never been too sharp at taking tests. I don’t really retain much in my cerebral cortex either. So, had I read the manual I probably wouldn’t remember much of anything, except that the lessons require a lifetime of learning and that with each challenge I expand as a spiritual being. This thing of being a human has an array of trickiness to it. Things sometimes just don’t make sense at all. There are a million senseless acts performed each day all over the place. We are being tested through every avenue: our relationships, our children, neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, strangers and the entire world. Even nature throws a curve ball at times.

Last night I tossed and turned while the clock waited for no one. It didn’t just stop so I could catch up…the hours went quickly and before I knew it sunrise was sneaking through the windows. I have recently experienced another heartache that has me a little upside down. I meditated, I read, I wrote, and I tried several times to close my eyes and just be in the moment. Being in the moment didn’t help. I kept returning to this recent disappointed that has happened right before Christmas. This little “set back” has me adding a few hundred questions to my future. All I can do at this time is accept that there is a mystical reason for it, because lessons are always there for acknowledgment.

With a heavy heart I allowed my higher self to answer those questions that I cannot comprehend. Humanity is shifting and there’s a wide division in its separation. It’s an ongoing battle that seems to bring even more questions into our existence.

I return to my own awareness admitting that I have truly loved deeply. I have done the best I have known at the time. It’s been another challenging year, but with so many beautiful opportunities. I have learned much about my tenacious spirit, not giving up, and letting go. However, my humanness starts the nasty chit-chat. This is my ego being human rather than spiritual. When we start going back there is a monster that will always appear with regrets, shame, and guilt. And, it is usually in the middle of the night when there’s no one to talk to, to reach out to, other than God and all the stars.

Our humanity is being tested each and every day. I witness it constantly. It’s as if this time acceleration has affected the very core of belief and faith. Why? I don’t know. That’s not one of those questions I ask myself every day. I can’t. I don’t want to go into the monstrous events of our world and why people behave in some atrocious manners. I try to live in a happy bubble. When the bubble gets poked and emptied out I feel the depression creeping in like poison. I cannot hold my heart in place. I go to a place of darkness and anger. Last night I witnessed it with such intensity. I wish I could remember one single event from it but once daylight reached my face it was erased. I am grateful for that as well.

I am learning from every situation, even the events that are not directly in my path because everything that happens in our world, in our lives, is connected to one another. The distance between us is shorter than we think. What happens in your thoughts and consciousness is affected into the way we treat each other. It becomes part of the conscious ripple effect. I see it when a hurt or negative person enters my space. Their demeanor affects me. They leave the stagnant energy behind. Now, imagine this in a mass conscious level with millions of people. It becomes war. It becomes hatred, bigotry, and death. We are all fighting a war with our egos. How we express it to the world determines how we love and find peace with each other.

I have to be more mindful to be able to answer those two questions with “yeses” every day. I cannot get sloppy with working through the difficult times. I must love fully, even during the most challenging moments of my relationships. I must let go and forgive as quickly as possible when something shows up that turns my life upside down. I must learn to experience things even when they hurt, when they feel uncomfortable, and when they point back to me that I have screwed up (yet one more freaking time). Ego loves to twist and turn those moments. Ego teases me, “You suck at this humanity thing! You have no business expressing your thoughts out there. You need to sit down, shut up, and suck it up.”

As we go into this holiday season, I pray that we can consciously come together in peace. I send my loving thoughts and prayers to the universe in hopes that I can find the positive answers to those questions that don’t have answers as well. I wish you all love, compassion, kindness, joy, forgiveness, and the awareness that we are all in this together. It starts and ends with our connections and the choices we make while answering a divine purpose for our existence.

Healing doesn’t begin to happen until we become aware of our lack of control. We are all here for one another in one form or another. Reach out. Shine your light. Help others see their worth. If you can’t do it please don’t stand in their way when they are trying to better themselves. It requires a multitude of cosmic juju vibes to transform the negative into positive. Let’s help the world be a better place. 

 

I love you…mucho!

We Are the Core of Humanity

humanity

I was coming out of Trader Joe’s this morning and putting the cart back in the parking lot area when an elderly lady was struggling to take one out. She could barely keep herself up. I took mine to her and said, “Here, ma’am, you can have mine.” I helped her get her empty bags and belongings in it. She looked up at me with such a shocking expression.

“Thank you,” she kindly said. To which I said, “No problem.”

“These days, at 85, I am invisible.” Tears formed in her eyes. And, I thought to myself, “It’s only a cart, not a million dollars…!” I told her that she wasn’t invisible. She stood there with such gratitude that I got a bit weepy. I was taken aback. Are we, as a society, that self-absorbed that we don’t see the joy in giving a simple supermarket cart to an elderly person? Well, of course, that moment opened up conversation for sweet Margaret and I. We stood there sharing what kindness is in this world and how it’s truly missing from so many. We hugged. She rolled herself into the store and I got into my car. Then it hit me like a giant freight train. Her word, “invisible” was exactly what I needed in order to release my own truth. I was transported back to a memory that I had forgotten.

Fifteen years ago I had a traumatic brain injury that to this day is still present. I was 33 years old. I woke alone in a park around midnight, with blood draining from my forehead, hands, and knees. I had a huge blot clot on the back of my head. I woke up thinking I was 19 years old. When I was finally taken by police and ambulance to the nearest hospital I was in and out of consciousness. As the next day developed I didn’t recognize any of my six children or my ex-mate at the time. I didn’t recognize anything from 2001. I was stuck in 1989. After 24 hours of scans, questions, spinal tap and other intrusive testings I was placed in room to heal and wait for the results of all the exams. They truly didn’t know the cause of my accident or what to do with me. I was stuck and felt invisible.

That night, I woke to go to the bathroom. Until that moment I hadn’t looked in the mirror. I still believed that I was 19 and I was being lied to…some conspiracy theory. It was like an episode from The Twilight Zone. No one believed me…not one person could understand how I ended up with such severe head trauma without memory. I saw my reflection and lost it in that bathroom. It’s bad enough that the lighting is atrocious but to see the aging from a teenage girl to a woman was devastating. To see scars and scratches and everything that was not there before was overwhelming.

I returned to bed and sobbed. I kept pulling on my IV as if that was the only lifeline available. I wanted someone to just point me into the right direction. I feared everything that night. I wanted to understand what had happened and how I was going to handle this new life…

…because, I knew I would be sent with total strangers to a home that wasn’t mine. Because I was not able to understand why I was at a park alone in the middle of the night. Because I had a new mate who was way older than me and not the husband that I had at 19. Because, because, because this was total shit and I was angry that I could not make heads or tails of this life that others insisted I was part of. Because, let’s face it you don’t know how strong you are until you have to use your strength to survive.

Shortly thereafter, a bodacious gorgeous black nurse entered my room. She checked my vitals. She held my hand while I sobbed. Then she grabbed a chair and sat next to me. She had a Jamaican accent. She was lovely. Her name tag said, “Cinthya” which I found endearing because of the spelling.

Cinthya sat with me for a long while. She asked questions. She let me cry and be completely raw. She told me things. These things have stayed with me over 15 years. She said that things happen every single day to push us to grow. I asked her what this particular event in my life was suppose to teach me? Cinthya stared into my eyes with her huge black gorgeousness and clearly said to me, “You will find the reason for it one day. You are not invisible so stop acting like you are. You have an opportunity to touch the world with compassion. And, even though you have not been shown compassion during the last 35 hours of this incident, I promise you that you will take this experience and pay it forward. You will have no choice but to live from your truth.” She showed me such compassion. And, eventually I fell asleep and Cinthya left.

In the morning I asked the other nurse to please ask Cinthya to come say goodbye before her shift was over. She assured me that there was no one with that name on that floor. She and two other nurses were the only ones working my room that night. I insisted that this woman had visited me. I even pointed to the chair drawn closer to the bed. The nurse, again, suggested that perhaps I had dreamed it because there was, “No one here during night, plus visiting hours stopped earlier in the evening.”

Now, folks, I might have dreamed that an angel came to console me. I might have been delusional with all the meds pumped for the pain in the body and my spinal tap. I don’t know. I don’t care because I lived that moment from a place of truth and compassion. But, what I do know is that someone took that chair and moved it closer to me. Some magnificent woman shared divine wisdom about grace, forgiveness, and how we are all here to love and change the world. She was pure love and I promised myself that I would always be open to every single experience that came my way, especially if I never got my memory back. To this day, I have lost a tremendous chunk of memories from when my children were young. But I also know that those experiences are somewhere in my cellular memories.

Today, Margaret reminded me of how we are failing in our compassion and kindness departments. We love to look out into the world and pretend that we can make a difference by wanting to do things “out there” when we need things in our own backyards. We forget that every single freaking day we get an opportunity to touch another. I am so grateful that on a daily basis I can experience it…one way or another.

When an elderly woman breaks over handing a shopping cart, there has to be something that we can learn from her. We are here to serve society with kindness and gratitude. I had just dropped off a huge car load of clothes and bedding to an abuse/battered women shelter before going to the supermarket. I was in full speed raw vulnerability and open to such gratitude for all that I have. I lead a charmed life. Margaret reminded me of such powerful acceptance and awareness. We are in this together.

Get your butts out there and help the elderly, the homeless, the children, and the neighbors in your area. They won’t ask for help. Your only job in this lifetime is to be kind and love. Pay it forward…you never know when your life can be altered in a second. Happy holidays and remember what this season is really about: LOVE!

I love you!!! You are NOT invisible. I see you. I feel you. I am connected to you.

Our Ability to Love

compassion

When I became a writer/blogger I made a mental note that some things weren’t up for discussion or sharing: serious things about my children (unless it was to help someone), hardships and disappointments with family and friends, and any discord with my mate. I wouldn’t put my dirty laundry out there for the world. When I’ve written about things, in regards to my children, I have tried to do it from a place of motherhood and the challenges the job entails, often times from a humorous point of view. Being a parent is never easy. Ever! In the moments when there is heartbreak you feel isolated. In moments of pure joy, you feel elated beyond whatever words can describe the event.

Yesterday it became official. Our (almost three year old) was officially adopted. We’ve been on this long process of making her ours since she was 5 months old. It’s a bitter sweet story. It’s one of complete joy in one hand and sadness in another. After raising 6 kids, one of my daughters from Romania had this baby girl. She is not mentally stable. She has serious mental health issues and lost this sweet addition to the family. Incredible how one moment of joy can transform into something so deeply heartbreaking within a short time.

Motherhood is who I am. I knew from early on in my childhood that I wanted a house full of children. My family was small. I wanted a big one. At the age of 10 I would say that I was going to have my own biological kids and lots of adopted ones. My mother frowned on this. I think she expected me to “outgrow” this notion.

When I was 18 years old the show 20/20 did a segment on Romanian orphanages. I had just gotten married and I made a comment of this to my then-husband. I was heartbroken, crying like a baby, watching the images of this segment. I told him that I had to help. He told me he didn’t agree with adoption. I was told that I could possibly never have children. I wanted to get on that quickly. I was born with some major issues in my female reproductive organs…but my tenacity and faith truly showed those ovaries who was in charged. By the time I was 22 I had two sweet boys, a divorce behind me, and the world ahead to possibly change the lives of one child. By the time I was 29 I knew I was ready to make that dream come true. My first little girl arrived on my 30th birthday (cause that’s the way God works with me). She was 2-1/2 y/o. The following year I adopted a little boy who was four and a few months later a little 9 year-old girl, and an 11-1/2 year-old young lady.

I will not share the struggles that arrive with caring for older children. I will not list the issues that came up with having that many kids under one roof. I believe that laughter and lots of prayers help us all cope with the wonderful experiences. But, I will share this: every single one of my kiddos has taught me some major powerful lessons. Each one has enriched me with love, patience, compassion and the understanding that we all have a purpose here. I don’t know who I would be if I wasn’t a mother. I can’t imagine another career more soul-fully connected to growth, spiritual connections, and love.

When Kali arrived into our home, and hearts, my youngest was graduating high school. At the age of 45 I restarted my career of loving, patience, and compassion. I had to come to terms that my then-plans would be altered. My husband and I are truly blessed. He didn’t have children of his own. To witness the love between this child and her daddy…oh my gawd…makes your heart melt. I promise it’s sometimes Hallmark moments.

I woke today with gratitude. When her social worker informed me yesterday that she was finally ours, I sobbed at work. I was overcome with so many emotions. I felt the elation of finality and the sadness of completion for my daughter (Kali’s mother) who can’t be in her life at this moment. I have to continue being her mother and protecting this child as well. It’s not a fun balancing act. At times, in solitude, it tears me apart knowing I cannot be all to all of them. I cannot be Super Mom! But those are my lessons. They are there for the evolution and expansion of my soul.

I am no saint. I am often one giant hot mess. I make some amazing delicious over-the-top mistakes. I am as simple and common as they come. I am just trying to live the most beautiful lifetime while knowing that because of me, seven children, have experienced love and laughter.

We are all connected. May you find yourself reaching out to another who needs it. It’s in the small things. You don’t have to adopt a child or an animal or a family. You can just be there for another. You have the ability to be good, do good and create good. It’s all about humanity. We all have that extra oomph of DNA that expands with giving love. We have a tremendous ability to love one another. It’s called altruism.

It’s the holidays. Please gift yourself the most loving present of giving and seeing the world change one soul at a time because you were PRESENT in someone’s life. A cup of coffee, a gentle touch, a freaking delicious smile, a scarf and jacket, or anything that can give a stranger the ability to recognize they matter. It’s really THAT simple. You matter. I matter. We all matter on this melting pot of awesomeness we get to call home.

I don’t know another way to live. I don’t know another way to forgive. I don’t know another way to love. It might not be right, but it also isn’t wrong. So…join me, darlings, in the ability to give of yourself to those in need.  There are so many folks out there feeling the stings of loss and destitution.

I love you! Yes…you! Even if we aren’t friends anymore. Even if we are strangers. Even if we have had issues. Even if our time was short and sweet. We are in this together. Hugs!

Happy Holidays! We got an early Christmas present. And…nothing can beat these moments!