Category Archives: Family

You won’t know until you get there that you’re okay …

Wow!  I haven’t written in a really long time.  Had some minor surgery and being laid up, missing work, but catching up on reading and watching movies.  Just watched the movie. “The Hollars” and it had me crying through the tears.  Funny, sad, characters are quirky and the family dysfunctional …  life.

It’s about John Hollar (John Krasinski – who also directed this gem), a struggling NYC artist who returns to his small hometown and reconnects with his estranged family because his mother falls ill.  His girlfriend is pregnant, having twins and she is beautifully played by Anna Kendrick.  When John admits to his Mom that he is terrified she states, “Don’t worry.  You won’t know until you get there that you are okay”.

And that is exactly how I feel.  Loved this movie.  It was sweet, thoughtful.  And it reintroduced me to this great song by Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”.

Lyrics:

 

I’m trying to tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black and white. The best thing you’ve ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously, it’s only life after all.  Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable. And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear. I wrap my fear around me like a blanket. I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I’m crawling on your shore. I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain.  There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in crooked line. The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine …

Yes … the closer I am to fine …. with hope in my heart, grace in my step, tears in my eyes, a smile on my lips …

 

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The Art of Saying Thank You

I would have to say one of my biggest pet peeves is when people don’t say thank you. What has happened to good manners. etiquette, gratitude, appreciation?

I know society has changed in many ways:  I understand how the world moves at a faster pace – and so many of us have adapted to this pace and prefer things be done more quickly, by email or phone.  I believe that some people have so much that so many take it all for granted.  Some people just have a sense of entitlement, and they feel like they deserve it.

Acknowledging takes very little effort but people still don’t make the time. I am tired. Tired of all the selfish people, especially in the family I was sadly born into.  I give, and give with very little respect.  I have to stop.  I always feel worse after holidays.  They under appreciate, and I over give.  No more.

For years, they take and rarely express gratitude – they just continue to show me they don’t care, they demean me, and show by their silence and lack of acknowledging my giving how much they belittle me and I guess they don’t have to thank me because I mean nothing to them.

They never recognize that I had a choice, I didn’t have to buy anything, all their favorites. They were not entitled.  I didn’t have to make the time, to pick up anything.  I am just a giver.  I am respectful.  No more.

I have to write this over and over, so I can make myself accountable.  Some people truly don’t deserve me in their life – in no form.

Keeping more to myself.  Learning to respect and appreciate myself more.  Give to myself more …  with grace in my step and hope in my heart.


The Edge of Forever

It’s my Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed Delivered marathon Saturday!  Just finished watching episode 5: The Edge of Forever.  As a mother’s last wish is to unite her daughters after her death is realized by words in a letter.  Part of the letter is read aloud: “A treasure waits for you to find, but only if you leave behind whatever each has in her heart that kept two sisters so long apart.”

Story of love, family, forgiveness, respect and moving on …  and the power of heartfelt words.

The final lines of the letter implore the two sisters to disperse their mother’s ashes together; to take the hike they never got to and find the edge of forever. As the sisters walk through the forest they come upon a breathtaking clearing where mountains rise above the valley. As the sisters open the urn and prepare to disperse the ashes, they realize they should say a prayer. Shane looks to Oliver, saying as a man of faith he would be the perfect person to deliver a final prayer. As the two sisters join hands and disperse their mother’s ashes, Oliver speaks:

“Whenever I have sorrow, Whenever clouds arise, when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow and I know… He watches me.”

What beautiful words … finding hope and comfort with faith in God in any given situation … yes, we must keep doing so.  Timing is everything.  Trying to remember that God walks with me … with grace in my step and hope in my heart.


Mental Health

Today is National Depression Screening Day, ‪Bipolar Awareness Day, and ‪‎World Mental Health Day. I have lived all my life with family members who are manic, depressed, alcoholic dependent, and have extreme personality mood swings, and are most times than not in complete denial. I myself suffer from depression and all too aware. I know sometimes when I look back, I am completely lost. We all need to work together to work on increasing our awareness, acceptance and be more patient. Help eliminate the stigma.

This quote by Spike Milligan resonates with me: ‘It’s a gift and a curse. You get the pain much worse than anybody else, but you see a sunrise much more beautiful than anybody else!’

This is how I feel so many times…You start to wonder if maybe something has come over her and she’s finally coming around. Maybe this is the start of something better, more peace, less tension. You even get a little upset wondering, “Well why can’t she just be like this?” And that’s the part that keeps you sucked in, thinking she can someday rehabilitate her attitude and behaviors toward you after all this time. My expectations were always off track. I felt that I just held onto just hope. But I learned that sometimes it’s that very hope – false hope – that keeps us inappropriately connected. You want what you can’t have – a mom who’s proud of you, a grandma who doesn’t pit people against each other, a sister you can trust. When you can accept the face value of your painful situation instead of the fantasy, it gets easier to live with.

Now that doesn’t mean you alienate yourself from the very people you love but drag you so deep down. Sometimes we just have to be inwardly and outwardly strong, brave, patient. Breathe. Count to ten. Limit the contact. Call once in a while, be around for two hours at Christmas, or have dinner once a month. You may need to set some strong boundaries when they start to treat you poorly. That might mean getting up and leaving their house, hanging up the phone, carefully choose what gatherings you attend, etc. And truthfully, it means setting your expectations pretty low. Casual activity that doesn’t get emotional is ideal, unless they are so destructive you should cut them off completely. Lucky for me I have not had to cut any family member out completely.

Sometimes you can stay around and take it, hoping they would get into a better mood; other times you just have to leave and wait. Pray. Hope. There is always hope. If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it….truer words have not been shared.

“Every day may not be good…but there’s something good in every day”
-Alice Morse Earle

I choose to live my life with awareness, hope, faith, patience, and grace in my step.


Happy Friendship Day!

Today is Friendship Day!

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
— Henri J.M. Nouwen (The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey)

There’s an old adage “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family.” I find that to be pretty amusing because I believe that you can, and I do. I have a small circle of friends that have proven throughout the years to be my own insular family unit!

At some point in time somebody, somewhere came up with the narrow-minded belief that family is most important because they are your blood. I am all for family members being more important but in no sense do I believe that you can’t choose who those members are. I am almost certain that there is not one family in this world that is not screwed up in its own way. You can not always depend on these blood relatives let alone even be able to stand them at times.

Even though I believe that you can pick your family, I don’t want it to seem like I am against sticking with the family you were born with. The way I see it is you start off as this bright red apple on your family tree. As time goes by things happen that change the fate of that apple on the tree. You either develop a close relationship with those related to you and you remain that shiny red apple or butt heads with those people long enough that one day that you as the apple start to shrivel up and fall off that tree completely. That’s the point were choosing your family becomes an option.

I am the shriveled-up apple that fell to the ground. I come from a particularly large family and as unfortunate as it is I can only count on one hand how many of those people I am actually close with. The reality is that if any two people are going to have a falling out or be betrayed by one another it is going to be family members. It is more likely for them to be caught in a highly stressful or traumatic situation that would force them to become hostile and tear apart from one another.

From my own experience, it is the people that I am not related to that I am able to get along with best. Not only get along with but be able to trust and depend on. As much as I would love to be able to be close with my ‘blood family’ that is not a possibility for me. Sadly, I have never been on the best of terms with them and though sometimes it is difficult I do my best to never let it get to me. Instead I choose to focus on the few people that I consider my ‘family’ because I am really fortunate to have them in my life. My fiends are the family I choose for myself…♥


I would die for you. But I won’t live for you….

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.”

“It’s much easier to not know things sometimes. Things change and friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. I wanted to laugh. Or maybe get mad. Or maybe shrug at how strange everybody was, especially me. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and than make the choice to share it with other people. You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. And we could all sit around and wonder and feel bad about each other and blame a lot of people for what they did or didn’t do or what they didn’t know. I don’t know. I guess there could always be someone to blame. It’s just different. Maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Because it’s okay to feel things. I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite. I feel infinite.”
― Stephen ChboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower


Can Something Good Come From This?

Wow!  I have been busy…between working, dating, volunteering…I am surprised I have found time for sleeping.  But I am happy…happier than I have been for months.  I am so looking forward to my volunteer work with the Ronald McDonald House this coming Thursday.  We have gathered a good team.  I know the impact will be great.  Knowing that even for a second, I can help make a child smile is so rewarding.   Personally, many of you know that I myself have lived with cancer so it means more to me to be a volunteer.  Throughout the years, I have found many ways to give back.  I have loved each and every moment of the many fundraising events that I’ve volunteered at, and making lifetime friends along the way!
I’ve grown very passionate about the work so many provide, such as the Ronald McDonald House and how they lend support to children and their families living with this cancer.   So I am going to remain forever optimistic and hopeful.  I am going to maintain my enthusiasm and get a kick out of putting smiles on children’s faces, and continue to reap the rewards of being a volunteer.

And as much as I want to fall in love again, I have been soooo dreading dating again.   But being out in groups with my support group and my volunteering teams, has introduced me to many like-minded people.  I am truly enjoying spending my time with quality people who know how to give of themselves.  For now, just taking it slow.  Meeting in groups is key.   So volunteering may even help me find my next true love.  Who knew?!

What I am learning is that cancer can take a lot of things but that it could also help me and others realize many more important things.  Cancer gave me focus and determination – to live what life was given to me to the fullest.  It has helped to make me deeper and wider and more impassioned than those who have not had to experience the harsher sides of life.  I learned that the unexpected gift of cancer is an intense appreciation for life.  I found compassion for others where there had been none before, I found strength I didn’t know I had…and I would not trade my experiences for anything. 

No one would volunteer to have cancer. Even though it may seem impossible to imagine at the beginning, most people find the strength to deal with cancer when they or a member of their family become ill.  I see it every day!  Most people cope with the challenges cancer brings one day at a time and come out okay in the end.  Overall, most children’s cancer survivors have a good quality of life and sense of well-being.   Also, after getting through such a challenging experience, many people look back on it and feel that they underwent some positive personal changes as a result of having cancer.  Here’s to continual hope…

It is easy to think of the negative things that come with cancer:  having to be in the hospital, missing out on school, work and social activities with friends, feeling too sick or tired to enjoy life, worrying about the future. During treatment, the time is often spent managing these negative or unpleasant things.  After treatment, looking back on these experiences can challenge the way people and their families think about themselves and their world. Many people begin to see positive changes in themselves as a result of surviving the cancer experience. They feel stronger. Parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends may also experience positive changes as a result of someone close to them having cancer. For example, some people say the cancer experience helped them focus on what really matters in life. They say they appreciate life more, have deeper personal relationships with family and friends, and find a stronger sense of spirituality. Others report increased confidence in their ability to handle difficult situations, and more certainty about their priorities; they feel more confident and have new interests and goals. Some people experience a desire to “give back” to others and work to help current and future cancer patients. These people might get involved in organizations like Ronald McDonald’s House that provide resources to cancer patients and families.

So here I am…on my journey to give back…find my way…hoping…♥


A very Happy Birthday goes out to the Heavens…

Wishing a happy, heavenly birthday to the funniest, kindest, sweetest, gentlest man I’ve ever known…My father…♥

Today is a hard day for me – I miss my Dad – he would have been 72!

♥ Happy Birthday to my Papi in Heaven. Forever in my heart. ♥
If There Are Roses In Heaven, Will You Send One Just For Me
So I Can Hold It Close To My Heart, Where You Will Always Be
I Will Lay It On My Pillow Each Night, As The Angels Tuck Me In
I Will Know That You Are Near Me, And Feel Your Presence Once Again
I Am Thankful For All The Years, You Were There To Help Me Through

I was down the Jersey shore yesterday and it brought up so many good memories of my Dad and I…

He always allowed us to bury him in the sand

Never complained when we wanted junk food from the boardwalk

Always played skee ball with me… (and let me win)

Loved orange creamsicles just like me

Crabbing

Fishing

All good times…even when it rained, he always found a way to make me laugh.

I went towards his fav place the other day – AC.  And I  passed a few Pepsi trucks early on – so I knew my guradian angels were with me.  *sigh* I miss you…every day…still your lil Indian Princess ♥

It’s so easy to take time for granted, but one day God chooses to take them home. And, it’s harder than words can express. I have such sweet memories of my life with him, memories I will cherish forever…I’m quite sure cake tastes even better in heaven!

For those of you whose fathers are still here are on earth with you – don’t forget to hug their necks tight and tell them you love them – each day.

You were like a rock

Strong, predictable and true

I was your youngest daughter –

Daddy’s little girl

I took my own path

But was still part of your world

I miss burying you in the sand down the Jersey shore

I miss walking on your back

I miss your hugs as your whiskers scratched my face

I miss you sleeping it off on my sofa when I lived near Branch Brook

I miss sitting on your lap as you called me your lucky charm as you beat everyone at dominos,

I miss you driving me and my sorority sisters to concerts…

I just miss you…Papi!

I always loved you

Papi, my Angel

Now my pain is

To worship you from afar

To remember you in pieces…

I love you now

As I did back then

I just hope… one day

I will see you again!

I love and miss you so much, sleep well

and take care of my other Angel who went before you

Forever in my heart xo  ♥

A Happy, Heavenly Birthday For My Papi In Heaven!

If roses grow in heaven,

Lord please pick a bunch for me,

Place them in my father’s arms
And tell him they’re from me.

Tell him that I love him and miss him,
And when he turns to smile,
Place a kiss upon his cheek
And hold him for awhile.
Because remembering him is easy,
I do it every day,
But there’s an ache within my heart
Because I am missing him today. ♥


Missing my brother…he is my Angel…

I truly can’t believe my baby brother has been gone now for 18 years.  Seriously where does the time go?!  Today I woke up and the sun was shining and I was thinking nice, peaceful thoughts and then it just happens like it just hits me – I can’t breathe, I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to see anyone. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I miss him so much. It’s so hard to lose someone you love – all the words in the world can’t take away this sadness I feel at times. But I try to live my life the best I can. I try to live my life fully for him too….he was only 25 years young, taken from us at the beginning of his prime.  So many things he didn’t get to do, or experience…so I keep that in mind as I live my life.  Life after death…I have found the will over and over again to live every day. Death…that is why I never stay mad at anyone – I imagine them dead, so it’s easier to forgive them. I believe that there is some order, some purpose to all of this. I have stopped asking why my little brother. It still hurts so much but I have accepted that it has happened and whatever the reasons, they are not for me to know. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t wish I could just hear his voice one more time…

For a long time, I thought it would be easier, better not to invest in people – they leave, they die. Scary. But now I have learned that the alternative is so much worse. I am not going to convince anyone that losing AJ has made me a better person, I sometimes still get angry, sad. And most days it hurts so much, I can’t breathe. But the thought of never having had AJ in my life – now that would have been truly unbearable.

Love you, AJ. Missing you….xo to my Angels… ♥♥


Benevolence!

Mencius said, ‘Benevolence is the distinguishing characteristic of man. As embodied in man’s conduct, it is called the path of duty.’

*sigh* Duty!  Benevolence!  I am usually a nice, caring, thoughtful person…I understand the desire to do good to others; goodwill; charitableness: to be filled with benevolence toward one’s fellow creatures.  I am usually kind.

Ah…am feeling a little sorry for myself today.  My Mom was in the hospital a few weeks ago again, and now my step father today.  I am exhausted trying to balance a still new-to-me job, dealing with family, a sick dog and starting to date.   I am praying and hoping that if I write out my thoughts, some if not all my ill-thoughts will dissipate somehow.  I am trying really hard to remain focused, stay optimistic and keep smiling…tired of the tears.  Really tired of the gray hair.  Well, just truly weary of being physically tired, emotionally drained, and mentally worried… migraine please go away!!  What is the commercial….”Calgon take me away”?!

I thought surviving leukemia, losing my brother, my bff, my father, and my fiancé to death all before I was 35 years old was enough heartache for a life time – well I was wrong.

About five years ago, soon after I turned the big 40, my maternal grandmother had another stroke and was hospitalized and both my step-father and mother were battling cancer, I made a very tough decision to move back home.  I was being laid off and I thought it was a sign and timing was there.

Little did I know then that as a caregiver, I would reach my own breaking point…several of them.  I found myself sick, barely hanging on financially and emotionally, fighting my own depression, and frustration building after only 12 months.  My grandmother finally succumbed to her last stroke after months of struggling, both my Mom and step father were released from the hospital, back home and taking life one day at time, dealing with getting older and the every day frustration of having their bodies fail them.   Throughout all of this, my already strained relationship with my three older sisters got progressively worse to the point of true estrangement.  After losing my grandmother, I went back to work in early 2008, loved my new job, met a guy, got married for all the wrong reasons again, and moved away to a neighboring state;  Only to find myself trapped and unhappy in another marriage, the economy continuing to worsen.  In 2009, I was laid off again and after taking a trip together to visit family in PR realized that the marriage could, should not be saved.   My oldest dog was also aging and getting sicker.  So I moved back home.  Having to put my 16 year old dog was one of the hardest things I had to do.   I took my time looking for work since unemployment was at an all time high.  I really became my parent’s advocate.  I started to run their household – bills, grocery shopping, meals, doctor visits – I became nurse, accountant, event planner, personal shopper, etc.  Then in 2010, my nephew finds himself sick and hospitalized for a few months; once released needing a place to stay and recuperate.  I took him in.  By then I had the second floor to myself, after moving the parents to the first floor and plenty of room.  Well, my naïve, good natured personality had failed me before and now has taught me a very valuable lesson:  No good deed goes unpunished.   After a little over two years, he decides to move out and it has been a couple of months now since I have heard from him – from the first day he moved out, he has not returned my calls, emails nor texts.  My oldest sister, his Mom, hasn’t heard from him neither but has never forgiven me for taking him in when he had no place to go.  So…this has been my life the past few years…my life has been filled with the irony of “damned if I do, damned if I don’t”.   I don’t know if I will ever learn the phrase “No good deed goes unpunished”.  My life does indeed come across as a sardonic commentary on the frequency with which acts of kindness backfire on those who offer them. In other words, because life is inherently unfair, those who help others are doomed to suffer as a result of their being helpful.   I hate to be so pessimistic and believe this.  So I sit here sometimes, scratching my head going, “WHY do I bother?”  So basically, “No good deed goes unpunished” is a wry way of saying that often going out of your way to be kind or thoughtful or considerate doesn’t always get the expected result.  You know the saying, “Virtue is its own reward?”  Sometimes it isn’t!  But…in the words of  Roger Staubach “there are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”  So I will always try to do what is right.  I will never allow someone else’s thoughtlessness, selfishness  stop me from being me…So when someone close to me ignores my thoughtfulness; puts down my tastes or choices; makes rude, unnecessary comments; and doesn’t utter a ‘thank you’ – I will smile.  And pray to God asking him to forgive them.

So I need to continually find strength, humor, outlets to relieve my stress.  And with the work week looming, I am looking forward to just being busy at work.  Putting my emotions on a leash of sorts.  Letting my analytic side of my brain take over.  Until I find myself stressing over having to be social next weekend. Little did I know that with the role of caregiver, also came role of hostess.  Now when my parents have visitors, family and friends over, I find myself having to play hostess on top of cleaning, shopping, cooking (mostly catering)…I try but find myself failing at most.  Both my Mom and step father can be overly critical, verbally abusive and stubborn. Sometimes, I am at such a loss, I don’t know what emotion takes lead.  I slowly fear that I find myself once again reaching my breaking point and barely hanging on.

I love my Mother and try my best to respect her, but she continues to be the same self-centered person she has always been and I find myself biting my tongue and working really hard at keeping the anger at bay.  I have come to understand that my parents are not nice aging parents.

I will also keep carving out my own little niche, a safe place, where its not so toxic.  I feel a little guilty about not spending all of my free time these days with my parents but there is so much combative, harassing torment I can take on any given day.  So I escape to work, to dating, to reading, to writing…I can get lost in the comfort of written words. I have learned how to protect myself better and stay insulated even if it means being alone.  I will no longer allow anyone to wreak havoc on my own mental health.  I am going to always be there for my Mom and step father, even my nephew if he ever needs me again; but the biggest difference is that I will keep moving forward with my own life.  The guilt abates – I know I have done so much and will continue to do everything I can and yet most importantly know when to take a step back before I reach the breaking point again to regroup. I am learning to protect myself first.  I am my very own best advocate.   Abraham Lincoln once said “whatever you are, be a good one”…so I continue on my journey of only good things… ♥


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