Driving Down Keezletown Road

I’ve been itching to write this since 8:00 this morning, but that teaching job that (sort of) pays the bills claimed my day.  If you are a writer, when you have something that strikes you, it’s a splinter in the foot.  You don’t rest until you’ve dug it out.

I have quite a lovely commute to work.  I take Keezletown Road.  I think it’s still called that but I’m not sure because what I call Keezletown Road, Jack calls by some number.  When he says it, I have to ask, “What’s that road?”   It’s ironic that this is the road that took the Blose girls to elementary school every day.   A curvy, hilly road and if the bus driver was in a happy mood he’d take the hills a little faster, and I’d literally fly in the air, laughing joyfully.  I don’t think my feet touched the floor of the bus until sixth grade.

Usually on my commute, if no one is coming, I glance over to the left at my childhood home, now way up high on the hill.   Ten years ago, my Mom moved that house up that hill.  Honestly.  Moved it over a mile through some fields and up to the top of a big hill where the milking herd used to lounge in the spring sun or find cool shade in the dog days of summer. The view from the top is stunning.   Today, I started thinking about my Dad.  Gone now twelve years, he wasn’t given the opportunity to sit on the new deck and take in that view.  I soon felt my eyes stinging with tears.   I started thinking about a younger Billy Blose, before he was a husband or a father, chasing in cows to the milk barn.   Even as a teenager, he wanted to live on that hill.  I wonder if he took the time to visualize what  his life  would be like before he had to get on with his chores.    I’m sure there were countless times as a young farmer that he would stop by the edge of the wood on the four-wheeler, and look at the Peak, dreaming of waking up to that view.   I remembered him then as my older Dad, happily taking our future minister, John Leggett, to the top of the hill to show him where he planned to move the house.  John was looking for a home in the area, and the story is that he said, “Yes.  I think this spot will suit Alayne and I just fine.”

Is a dream deferred a dream denied?   Is it a tragedy when we don’t get what we want? Yes. I’m afraid it is a side effect of being human.   Someone once asked me why he didn’t move the house up on the hills years ago.  Well, there were seven girls to feed and clothe, big wheels, dollhouses, roller skates, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, high heeled shoes to go with prom dresses, cows, trips in a motor home across the country,  cars,  lots of dogs, a pinball machine, a tree house, Disney World, college, weddings, grandbabies, and trips with the grandkids.  My third favorite Beatle said,  “Life’s what happens while you’re making plans.”   But I’m going to suggest that there’s nothing wrong with making “plans.”  They keep us motivated when we get beat down.  They give us energy when we really don’t want to get out of bed.  Plans keep us inspired.  They are often a flashlight in the dark and a welcome distraction when reality is cruddy.    I don’t think Dad would have traded that view for the hollering at basketball games, walks down the aisle, jumps off the mantel with his grandkids,  or any single moment with my Mom.   I’m pretty sure he already knew what it looked like, anyway.

736300_10151530134710101_998004178_o

My Favorite Day of the Week (or Why I Teach Yoga)

This isn’t really a Christmas post or maybe it is in some way as you may get the message of the season hidden in the words.  I know it’s been processing in my mind for awhile now.

This is the day I get to teach yoga at my church, Massanutten Presbyterian.  This is the little white church where I was baptized and where I was rocked in the nursery. Where Mrs. Sutton taught me the words to “Jesus Loves Me” and made me feel my nickel for the Sunday School offering was precious in the eyes of God.  This is the church where my sisters and I would start hinting to Dad (usually around 11:30 when we knew he was getting hungry) to go to Bonanza afterwards. This is the church where my piano teacher, Mrs. Newman, invited me to play a piano piece to open up Sunday school one morning. This is the brick church where my mom took Cathy and me to the kitchen to give us a well deserved swat on our behinds because we kept fighting during the Christmas cantata practice. (Honestly, sitting through cantata practice taught me a lot of patience).  This is the church that sometimes disagreed about issues like taking the step to build a new sanctuary, the wording of what it means to be a Christian and now gay marriage.    Some left.  Some stayed.  Many will continue to leave, but many more will seek the acceptance of this community of faith.  This is the church where all are welcome to partake of  communion because of God’s grace.  This is the church where my children learned Bible stories (and questioned many on the ride home) and what it means to have a foundation of faith. This is the church where I was invited to become part of a committee years ago to find a new pastor who continues to be a blessing through his wisdom, patience and gentle words. This is the church where the kids and I sat beside my Dad for the last time before the meningitis took his life less than two weeks later.  This is where his family and about 1,000 other friends honored his life the day before Easter.   This is the church that let me go to follow my husband and helped me find another church family in Franklin, TN.  This is the church that prayed for my family and where I had to painfully walk the aisle as a young widow with my children on each arm. This is the church that opened its arms to receive my family once again this past summer.

Now, once a week, I get to teach yoga here.   I don’t do it to make money,  brand my yoga teaching style or to compete with another  yoga teacher or studio. It’s free.  I do it not out of duty, but in return for what they have given to me.  My favorite moment of the night comes when I get to give restorative touch at the end of the practice during savasanna.   My 77 year old mother is last in the line.   I save some extra time just for her.  Initially, she would strain to lift her neck to help me as I cradled her head.  Wow there is so much of who she is right there  as she must have thought there had to be something else to do and refused to surrender to receive the gift of my touch without helping me.  This moment is never lost on me as I press on her shoulders encouraging her to empty her lungs and all the burdens she carries.  I rub essential oils through her silver hair, and press my thumbs along her forehead, down her temples, and along her ears, never forgetting the pain she went through as she learned to find a new normal without her life partner.  What an honor to give this touch to my mother who has given completely of herself to her family and church family for all these years. So simple yet so powerful.   All the yoga speak that I have heard by teachers over the years, the meditation, the beautiful idea of ahimsa (non harm) and memorization of the sanskrit words for the yoga poses (asanas) mean absolutely nothing if your intentions are self-serving and you aren’t living the words you speak.  I’m not your yoga teacher if you are seeking someone who has received multiple training experiences from world renowned yoga teachers across the world, memorized the sutras or even know much of the history of yoga.  I’m not a yoga guru nor will I ever be famous for the words I say in class.  I won’t become rich from teaching yoga nor would I even be able to support myself and my kids on what I make from yoga.  I teach yoga so that I can cradle my Mom’s head and rub lavender oil on her temples.  That’s it.

**If you are in the Harrisonburg area and you want to open your mind and body to the experience of yoga, please join us every Wednesday at 5:30 (with the exception of the first Wednesday of the month) for free yoga.   Even if you can’t touch your toes, you can join us. 🙂 We accept a donation to our backpack ministry to bring weekend meals to children in poverty in the community.

mpc

The Paradox of Gratitude

I visited several classrooms this week and plan to visit a few more on Monday to do a poetry lesson.  I read the students a book that I found in Jack’s library about the secret of being thankful.  In the book the secret is revealed that the more gratitude  one feels, the happier the heart will be.  I told the students, even the first graders, that the particular day that was set aside for giving thanks was established during one of our darkest times in history.  In his infinite wisdom, Abraham Lincoln realized that to practice gratitude in times of trouble is to see a faint candle in a pitch black room.  I showed them my poems about the things I felt grateful for:  a bulldog who brought joy back into a sad home and a poem about my seventy-seven year old mother who still rocks her yoga, cares for her great-grandson and listens to her grown daughters cry.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened next in one classroom.  I noticed a little girl talking to a boy in Spanish and then watched as he put his head on the desk and started crying.  “What’s wrong?”  “He can’t write in English and he is sad because he doesn’t know his mom and dad.  They left him.”   Sigh.  Gulp.  Oh crap.  “Well, who takes care of you?” I asked.  She said some words to him in Spanish and he answered.  I said, “Well, those aunts sound pretty amazing.  Do they make sure you have food in your belly, clothes and a home?” She translated. He started smiling.  “Si.”   “I think you do have something to write about then.”  I noticed a soccer ball on his shirt and pointed to it. “Do you like to play soccer?”  “Si.”   “Well, let’s write a poem about soccer.” And I proceeded (with a lot of assistance from the little girl) to help this boy write  gratitude poems to his relatives and to a soccer ball.   His face lit up as I read them.

It happened again and again in the other rooms.  One little girl, “My  Dad’s in jail but he makes me laugh when I see him.  Can I write one about him?”  Then there was the little boy who got stuck on his poem about his Dad because a couple years ago his father was killed in front of him.   I gave him a  little assurance that although my father is dead too, I can still write him a poem, and he was soon on his way to creating a one sentence poem to his murdered father.  Despite some of their dire circumstances, every child was able to write several poems. This gratitude thing is almost a paradox.

I’ve been teaching in a bubble for about ten years.   And I’ll be the first to admit that I liked that my own children went to school in the Brentwood Bubble (my Tennessee friends will understand that term).   But I will admit that God had been nudging me for awhile.  I felt almost guilty from time to time when I knew that less than ten miles to the north of my school in Brentwood, there was a group of kids that maybe needed me more.  Be careful with your whispers to God.  He may just give you what your heart is seeking.

Our world seems to be falling apart.  Or is it really?   Can you think of another time in the history of our world where things seemed forlorn? Christian persecution, The Crusades, The Inquisition, The Black Death, our own Civil War and Civil Wars across the globe, the Holocaust,World Wars, and now terrorists who have no respect for human life.  There have been hundreds of tyrannical kings and dictators: Attila the Hun, Ivan the Terrible, Mao Zedong, Hitler, Stalin, Amin, Pol Pot, Hussain, al-Assad, Kim Jong, and the list goes on and on as history has repeated itself.  What pulled people together in times of persecution, death and tragedy?  Hope.  Resilience.  But it didn’t come without the help of someone. Even in the midst of our fears of this crazy world, we must remember to answer that call.   I saw a glimmer of that in the eyes of the students whose despair was empowered into hope as they were able to find gratitude.

I’m going to set aside the problems of the world this week, and I’m not going to feel guilty about it.  I’m going to shop with my daughter who is coming home for the first time since August.  I’m going to drink wine, make lots of food and overindulge.  I’m going to play games with my family and laugh until my sides hurt.   I’m going to light a candle of hope in a dark, dark world that needs to find its way.

Flapping Around Through Life

I gave my kiss goodbye, walked away toward an empty nest and my mind is flooded with visions of the day that I left the hospital as a new mom. My stomach was in knots, and I couldn’t believe they were actually letting me take ownership of this human.   I had heard experienced moms say things like, “Oh, that’s a hungry cry. That cry means she’s tired.  That sounds like he needs his diaper changed.” “That cry means that it’s going to rain!” WHAT? How the heck did they know baby language? I was clueless and convinced that this child wouldn’t survive my limited knowledge. I’m experiencing those same feelings as I dropped off my Lauren for college, but this time it was more of a letting go panic.  I did what I have decided to call cram-parenting on the drive down to Birmingham.   I have to admit that it was a little easier when my son went to college two years ago. Maybe it was mistakes that I had made in college or situations that could have been disastrous, but I talked and she listened. I’ll spare you the details of our talks but it covered the gamut from parties, traveling with a group, walking to your car at night, talking out issues with her roommate and even tornado safety!

It was the last little bit of our drive that I will remember best of all. With an hour to go, we played a little game: you had to pick the best song from every CD in the car and play it. It was fun reliving the Hannah Montana and Jesse McCartney years. She still knew every word. We got to one of her Dad’s CDs and we both had our moment. Our conversation the night before at our last dinner out and her emotional state hearing her Dad’s voice out of the car stereo made me realize the new grief and pain that had seeped back into my little girl’s conscious mind. For their high school years, my kids buried themselves in the busyness of school. Studying and focusing on grades, college prep and their extracurriculars provided a safe haven. When it was necessary, situational grief arose. I call it that because there are snippets of grief that still arise based on a situation. It was best for my family not to allow it to flood all at once. I still have grief that comes up from my Dad’s passing eleven years ago, triggered by big family moments such as a wedding or something as simple as seeing a farmer milking a cow at the county fair. My children have learned that this is a life long pebble in the shoe. Sometimes it settles into a comfortable zone, but every now and then something kicks it out to an irritating, unsettling spot. When you feel it, you deal with it. When you don’t, you don’t let it pervade your life. It’s survival.

At our dinner out the previous night, she teared up talking about pulling pictures off of her Dad’s computer to put onto her new laptop. She found a video that he had saved of his last birthday. She had made him cupcakes complete with chocolate molded music notes and even an edible CD. It made her cry and when she skyped her boyfriend that night, he tried to make it better. She explained. “I kept telling him not to try to make it better. It’s ok to cry and be sad now and then.” Yep. That’s the key. That’s also the key to surviving homesickness and separation anxiety. Let it come up when it needs to, but don’t allow it to rule your life. Don’t allow it to rob your joy. Don’t allow it to derail your plans.

Here’s an overused sentimental quote: “There are two gifts we should give our kids, one is roots and the other is wings.” I don’t know about you but before I had grown kids, I always visualized this beautiful eagle gliding through the sky when I read this quote, but my experience is that they really don’t soar away. They kind of flap around a lot, going up and down, bumping into trees, falling to the ground, getting up a foot and then falling again. And we look down from our empty nest watching them with a detached discomfort. Detached because if we try to fix their problems, they will forever bump into trees and not exercise their muscles to fly on their own. Discomfort because every instinct in our bodies screams to help them.

I’ll need to follow my own advice as I face this empty nest. I have plenty of distractions and I’m frankly flapping around a bit: a new job with new challenges (God help me be patient with teaching little kids), a new home with Jack, unpacking and finding a new yoga studio home. I am careful not to check in too much with Lauren. I am afraid it would take away her power, and this isn’t all about me and how I’m feeling. I want her to remember that she’s got this. She has everything she needs inside of her to deal with the separation, the challenges and rigors of college life and to fix her own problems. I’ll keep the pebble of grief and loneliness tucked between my gold toe ring and my big toe and when it gets uncomfortable, I’ll deal with it.

IMG_2296

Bowl of Cherries

I had my morning coffee and Daily Show fix and then went to the fridge to see what I could eat for breakfast.  Yum: A bowl of cherries.   It’s funny how an early summer fruit  can trigger so many memories, all good.

I remember we had a sour cherry tree between the house and the dairy barn.  I would eat cherries off the tree until my stomach ached.  Once I remember my Aunt Nancy and some of her children coming out to help pick cherries.  Hank or Johnny climbed high up in that tree, and I ran to the wash-house and hid my eyes because I thought they might fall. We picked buckets and buckets of sour cherries from that tree for freezing or canning.   That night we had a cherry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Thinking about that warm dessert covered with melting ice cream took me to summer days living on a farm and waking to the potential of a great day.  Maybe we’d have to help pull weeds in the front junipers or maybe help pick green beans in the garden. We’d complain under our breath and usually I’d throw a worm on my sister Cathy which sent her into a tizzy.  We’d string the beans in front of the tv, bidding on Price is Right showcases, and wondering if our farm-girl bodies covered with chigger bites from the hay and scabbed knees would ever come close to comparing with the glitz and glamour of Bob Barker’s Price-is-Right Models.  I’m happy to say the Blose girls have done just fine without the silicone and thigh lifts, thank you.  There were trips to the swimming pool daily and a quarter would usually get me a Zero bar, my favorite.  Mom would literally just drop us all off.  She had raised us to respect the rules and respect others so there wouldn’t be a phone call to her that we were misbehaving.  It never happened.  I’d inevitably get pool toe early in the swimming season until I had gone barefoot across the barn driveway long enough to build up a good callous.  Sometimes my Dad would announce after dinner, “Let’s go to the pool!”   Any time that Dad took us for an evening swim meant that we were going to be pulled under, hoisted up into the air 20 feet and we’d watch him proudly doing his flips off the board or dive.  This was summer living at the Blose house.

Summer cherries also bring me to vacations.  The anticipation of vacation was almost as good as the vacation itself.   People reading this may think that this is the wackiest, hokiest vacation ever but we would drive to wherever the National Holstein (those of the black and white Ben and Jerry’s cows for my city friends) Convention was held for the year.  There were trips to Louisville, Denver, Anaheim, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlantic City, and of course, Nashville.  For long trips we flew, but for other trips we drove.  It started out in a big station wagon with Cathy and I having the view from that weird rear seat, looking at the vehicles behind us.  So dangerous but all of us survived.   After Anne came along (number 7 girl) my parents invested in a motor home.  We called it The Barth because that was the name of the brand.  The day before the trip, mom would head to the grocery store and inevitably would come back with a 5 pound bag of dark red cherries.  We’d try to sneak into them but she would say, “Stay out. They are for the trip tomorrow!”  Think about what that one statement taught us:  anticipation of a family trip and practicing patience for good things to come…not immediate satisfaction.  Mom would do everything to get ready for the trip, but that assured that my hard-working Daddy would be well rested and in a great mood for the trip.   And then all of the things that I’d anticipated and expected over the past year would commence:  The cherries would be broken out of the fridge before we got on Interstate 81.  We’d rotate 8 tracks of John Denver, Barry Manilow and Olivia Newton John, the soundtrack from the musical Shenandoah (oh…talk about patience…8 tracks…kids today would die).  Barbara would be asleep within the hour.  At some point, someone would fight about space or getting kicked in the head.  Mom might remind us how lucky we were to even be taking a trip so figure it out.  Dad would make friends with strangers at restaurants and gas stations. We would all feign interest as we drove away and he filled us all in on their life story as if he were hosting a Biography special.  The trips would be filled with learning, meeting new friends, and flirting with farm boys from other states.  Sounds great, right?  You bet your sweet behind it was great.

When I suddenly became a single parent, every instinct in my body screamed, “Show your kids that we remain a family. Show your kids joy.  Teach your kids patience.  Let them see that some things never change.  Let them laugh and not feel guilty about having fun.  Let them argue with one another and encourage them to fix it themselves.  Remind them they are lucky.  Everyone has a story worth sharing so shut up and listen.”

My stomach aches not just from the half a bowl of cherries I just consumed, but because so much has changed.  My Dad has been gone eleven years now.  There are no longer family trips in motor homes.  No trips to museums or pulling over to read a random road marker.  None of us really want to know the life story of the waitress who brings us our pancakes.   It wouldn’t be a good idea to flirt with random guys either.  But so much remains:  Barbara does still go to sleep the earliest!   The most important part of all is that when we get together for holidays, weddings or even through our private Blose Family Facebook page (no you can’t join), the joy remains.  The laughter remains.  We tell stories not with regret or sadness but with gratitude.  The foundation of what my mother and father created through vacations and day-to-day common sense values will never crumble.  Thank you bowl of cherries for triggering such good memories this morning.

FullSizeRendersisters

Crappy Yard Sales and God moments

I hate yard sales.  I really do.  I threw a bunch of stuff over the past year in the basement studio closet and the pile grew and grew. Then I moved the pile to the garage where it has stewed in the sweltering Tennessee heat.  I advertised my garage sale on Craigslist and put up a couple of signs (which the HOA promptly pulled down because you have to pay for a permit to have a yard sale…ugh HOA) My good friend Devin informed me that I should have lots of fabuious pictures to lure buyers and I should post on Facebook Buy Sell sites. Grrr.  I hate yard sales.   People try to give you a quarter for a pair of shoes because they have been worn.  Seriously.  That’s why they are in the yard sale pile. Get out of my yard, lady!

I was setting things out super early when a van opened up.  A robust man got out of the van and politely said, “Good morning.” He asked if I had any vintage furniture from the 50s and 60s. I said, “Sorry.”  Then we began to talk.  He asked me when I was moving and the dam broke.  I spilled forth my soul..I don’t know…I might not..I haven’t sold my house…still don’t have a job..it’s just time to get rid of some things..four years ago…traveling guitar player/songwriter…And then he spilled his soul ..My wife and little girl died 17 years ago in an accident….my daughter would have been 21 this spring…I left Utah because I had to escape..I drive tour buses and do the vintage furniture for fun…I don’t think I can ever risk loving again because it’s too painful…I have my dogs…I’m not sure what happens when we die.   I told him how I was able to pick myself up, but it’s a neverending work in progress.  It’s a favorite stage shirt that caught my tears today.  It’s messages from people who don’t understand that I have preserved many, many things for my kids.  We talked for about 15 minutes surrounded by my stuff.  Stuff that really doesn’t matter in the end.

Everyone has a story.  We wear masks that hide the burdens of pain, grief, and fear of loss and of loneliness.  But I truly believe that each of us is watched over by a God who never blinks.   If you don’t believe in God, think of the last time you were down and then lifted by someone or something.  That’s what God represents to me:  a sudden lift,   a buoy. an out of the blue text message from a friend.   So if you’ve ever experienced unexpected grace, well, you decide for yourself.

Before he left, he thanked me and hugged me, “This is probably the best thing that could have happened to me today.  I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start my Friday,” he said.  “For me too!” I exclaimed.  And it was true, because it was truly a crappy yard sale.  And I get to do it all over again tomorrow morning.

The Yellow Puff -Ball -Thing-Game Saved Me Today

Recently, things haven’t really been going my way. I have been a bit down because I have been unable to have closure to my school year and the beginning of my summer. I had figured my house would sell quickly and it hasn’t. Dropped prices. Nothing. I thought I’d have a job back in Virginia, and I’m still waiting on that to finalize. I feel guardedly optimistic on the job. I took up a couple weeks off from teaching yoga because my cup was empty and I needed to spend Lauren’s graduation week compartmentalizing the things that are out of my control until it was time to pick them up again.

I’ve picked all the stress back up again this week with a new listing and so far only a couple showings. I was cleaning today and feeling the anxiety of “What am I going to do?” creep back in my mind, when I heard Lauren start laughing. “Aaron said he put the yellow puff ball somewhere obvious before he left and here it is.”

IMG_9553

The yellow puff ball game started after Aaron’s high school graduation. His choir teacher gave it to the seniors. He promptly handed it to Lauren. “What do I want with this?” she said. “I don’t know what to do with it,” he said. And so the game began. They would hide the yellow puff ball thing in each other’s rooms. Lauren found it in her retainer kit once. I diverted Aaron’s attention on first year UVA move-in day so that Lauren could hide it discretely in his desk drawer. He told her he threw it away, and she was heartbroken that the game had supposedly ended until it showed up in her things after Thanksgiving. And so it goes on and on with the yellow puff ball game. I love that I had nothing to do with this game between brother and sister. It is their little way of keeping connected when they are so far apart. The yellow puff ball game made me not sweat the small stuff today.

How will this game ever end? Perhaps one day when I’m long gone, and they are both in their 90’s, one of them will have long forgotten about the yellow puff ball. But then it will suddenly appear, maybe in a denture cup or by a picture of the sibling who planted it.. its rolly eyes stirring a memory, bringing a smile and a much needed laugh to save the day.

IMG_6243

What’s a Mom to do?

Goodness.  My daughter is one month away from graduation, and little over a month from turning 18.  Not so long ago she was shorter than me, brace-faced, flat chested and I was consoling her while she cried over some chickens she neglected and died in some silly reality video game.  I’m finding myself misty-eyed at church events, musicals and even the dreaded before-prom pictures. (Which for the record, I HATE!!)   I wrote a blog about two years ago entitled “Give Up What You Know” https://carvingoutmyname.com/2013/03/17/give-up-what-you-know/  and I felt the need this evening, the day after prom, to revisit that theme.

About a week ago, Lauren asked if we could host the after-prom party and sleepover.  What the what?? I’m trying to sell my house.  I am a single mom with two kids in college in the fall.  I’ve heard stories of parents being locked up for kids getting drunk at their homes.  I thought I had dodged the bullet after I told her of my strict guidelines until I wrote her a note on the church bulletin last Sunday.  (Note to Pastor Chris Joiner…it was during the offering)  “So where is after prom going to be?”   “At our house.”  What’s a Mom to do?  On the way home, I reiterated my request and asked for all parents’ emails by Monday. I sent out an email stating that I was very happy to provide a safe place for the kids to gather after prom, but I wanted to be clear that I reserved the right to search all bags for alcohol and that I needed parents’ cells.  I also said the boys would sleep in the basement and the girls would sleep on the third floor.  I also told them that the kids would need to get up early enough to help clean up as I was hosting an open house later in the day.  Lauren was horrified, and I’m sure some of her friends complained,  but I didn’t back down.  If kids didn’t like it, they could go somewhere else.

Was I nervous about my liability and obligation?  Yes.  Yesterday afternoon, I hid all three bottles (I know, very sad) of booze in the house, a bottle of five-year old champagne, and a box of red wine which will never be consumed so I should probably dump it out.  There was no good wine because frankly, I drank it from being nervous about hosting an after prom party.  Last night, I took a nap while they were at prom and then I got up at 11:30 to put out all kinds of foods.  Around 1:00 AM I game them my last little lecture about expectations. But there were no problems.  They got up at a decent hour, I made them waffles while they had pleasant conversation.  They helped clean up, thanked me profusely and left.  Here’s what last night and this morning showed me.  Not all kids today are entitled, spoiled brats.   Not all kids today are out to get high and drunk at prom. ( But it sounds like from the breakfast conversation that some at prom were)  Not all kids are giving up their virginity early and are promiscuous.  In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say this group of kids behaved better than my generation of kids.   I may be lucky, but I also put in my hours as a mom.  When you have expectations of your kids at 3 and 10, and follow through, they remember it when they are budding 18 year-olds with college-aged boyfriends.   When you don’t nag and micromanage, but act as a loving parent and not their “friend,” they know you trust them and don’t want to destroy that trust.

I thought about what Tony would think of his little Lauren today when I was looking through her pictures.   It’s been almost four years since his passing, and she was so different then.  He would most likely want her to wear sports bras and turtle necks!   He would love how she has matured and inherited his OCD for organization.  He would love that she wants to be a nurse, inspired by the care she saw him receive after his surgery and through his hospice nurses.  He wanted to be here for these moments so I do my best to keep him present.  We talked about him while she was putting on her make up.  She mentioned him this morning in conversation with her friends.   I try my best to look her boyfriend in the eye (which is REALLY hard since he’s over six feet) and be both the Dad and the Mom as I tell him to drive carefully.  At the right time, he and I may have a conversation about Lauren’s Dad.  I’ll tell him all the things I think Tony would say, and what he would want him to know about the privilege of dating his precious girl.   This is what this Mom needs to do.

disney2IMG_1535 IMG_1051

Bonnes Choses (aka Good Stuff)

I was getting ready in my hotel room on New Year’s Day when Jack said, “Oh, Sarah. Did you see what Lauren wrote on her Facebook page?” And then he read it to me.

Everyday, for 365 days, I wrote down “Bonnes Choses” (good stuff) that happened to me or something I was thankful for. Looking back at them, it is truly incredible to see how I grew as a person in faith and especially happiness throughout 2014. Thank you to everyone who made 2014 become the greatest year of my life yet. And here’s to 2015, may it be even greater and FULL of bonnes choses!

1798838_10203463972936923_1226213045423491047_n

I was astonished because I knew nothing about this! I actually felt bad about my parenting. Why didn’t she tell me about it? Should I have asked what the jar full of paper on her dresser was all about over the past year? I had noticed it but didn’t ask. Maybe good Moms open drawers and read texts to make sure their kids aren’t doing bad things? I’ve never done that. Aren’t good Moms supposed to communicate with their kids and know the ins and outs of their daily lives? Had I become so busy that I had lost touch with my daughter?

The guilt went away fairly quickly as I realized just what had happened. My little blond girl who resembled Cindy Lou Hoo on our Christmas card fifteen years ago was becoming a mentally healthy young woman. She had set an intention for an entire year, even when she was having a bad day, to find a nugget of a blessing.

It made me think about parenting. We spend our whole lives talking to and at our kids. Do they listen? Not always so we talk some more. Our talking starts with trying to get them to talk by cooing, babbling and then we move to telling them not to talk in quiet church sanctuaries or movie theaters. We talk to them about toilet training, brushing their teeth, sleeping, eating healthy foods, cleaning up their toys, not hitting their siblings, respect, responsibility, faith, grades, friendships, exercise, relationships, money, alcohol, drugs, sex, death, driving, taxes, too much social time, not enough social time, filling out their college applications, deciding on colleges, deciding on what to study, job markets, medical school…etc. I have talked to these two kids of mine nonstop for twenty years. I suppose that is why Lauren’s “Bonnes Choses” jar makes me proud. I didn’t say a word.

My Mom and I were talking about it yesterday. She asked me what Lauren had written down the day she didn’t get the coveted spot in the high school musical as she knew how devastated she had been. “You know, Mom, I haven’t really asked to read them as curious as I am. If she wants me to read them, perhaps she will bring it up but I respect her privacy.” I remember what I liked about that day. I got a chance to once again comfort my little Cindy Lou Hoo, hold her, wipe away tears, bestow some wisdom about perseverance and dedication, and reassure her that this was a small fraction of her life as bigger things in her life were on the horizon. We did some early Christmas shopping, I bought her some new penguin flannel pjs, and we went out to eat.

At dinner last night I told Lauren that Grandma was proud of her for committing a year to finding something positive about each day. “Lauren,You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but what did you write down on the day you didn’t get the part in the musical?”

“I wrote down that I got to spend time with you.”

Sigh. Thanks Lauren for letting me be your bonnes choses.

Sarah Lopacinski is a Mom to Aaron and Lauren, twenty-five year teaching veteran, yoga teacher and founder of http://www.peacefulplaceonline.com.

Visit http://www.peacefulplaceonline.com to get high definition streaming yoga and guided meditations. Use the code Begin to get a $6.00 monthly rate. No long term commitments necessary. Purchase the Peaceful Place app of guided meditations through itunes or Google Play specifically written for cancer patients. Email sarah@peacefulplaceonline.com for more information!

Image

Out with the Old…Hey, not so fast!

Recently, I became keenly aware that my red yoga mat was getting past its prime. You’re probably thinking that a hot yoga mat used as often as mine would become pungent, but it wasn’t really the smell as I clean it regularly. It was still doing a decent job to keep me from going into a full split when I stepped into Warrior 1. But it had lost some of its luster and the edges had become worn. The bright ones in the basket for sale at Epic Yoga had been beckoning me for awhile. I was waiting for the right shade of blue, and last week, it finally arrived. So I bought myself a Christmas gift.

It would be perfectly logical that I would tear off the tag and roll out my mat the next day, but I couldn’t. In fact, I let the new mat ride around with me for a full week. Every now and then I’d look at it through my rear view mirror sitting on my backseat winking its brilliant blueness at me. The truth was that I was a more than a little sentimental about my old mat. My first mats didn’t work for hot yoga, and I invested into my red one when I realized the transformational power of my yoga practice. That red mat had caught me when I face planted for what seemed 1000 times in my attempt to get into crow. It rooted me to the ground as I wavered and wobbled in my balance poses. It celebrated with me when I finally opened my heart in chapasana. But most importantly, it caught an ocean of tears in half-pigeon as I let go of resentment, regret, and the fear of facing a future as a young widow and single parent. My heart is full of gratitude for a piece of rubber.

I finally rolled out my new mat for practice on Monday. It took me awhile, but I realized that there are poses to master, and I need extra support if I’m ever going to get a solid handstand. I have some personal challenges looming in the coming months, and I’m going to need my yoga to relieve the stress and quiet my mind as I prepare for a move in the summer. There are new tears to be shed in half pigeon as college acceptances continue to arrive for my Lauren, and I figure out my new normal with an empty nest. There are celebratory tree poses ahead as I have discovered that it’s not only possible to find love again in my late 40’s, but it’s downright amazing. My new mat will serve me well, but no way am I getting rid of my old red mat. yoga mats


Visit http://www.peacefulplaceonline.com to get high definition streaming yoga and guided meditations. Use the code Begin to get a $6.00 monthly rate. No long term commitments necessary. Purchase the Peaceful Place app of guided meditations through itunes or Google Play specifically written for cancer patients. Email sarah@peacefulplaceonline.com for more information!