I want to give everyone a big hug

*hug*

So many people are passing through hard times. Pretty much everyone in my life actually. And lots of people who I don’t know, too. I want to hug each and everyone of you (whether I know you or not – I am originally from the Midwest after all. We hug everyone!)

You may be wondering, what is UP?! Why why why all the struggle and hardship.

You my dears are awakening. The light is returning and light does this thing where it shines into the darkest corners and helps us to see what was hidden. I don’t know about you but when I shine a light under my bed I do NOT like to see what is down there! Cob webs, toys covered in dust bunnies, it ain’t pretty. Yesterday I found a sock so covered in dust bunnies it was like a small sock-shaped animal. YUCK.

(Note to self: vacuum more frequently under the bed.)

Yes, the light is returning and asking us all to raise our consciousness. This is a GOOD thing and will lead to so much beauty, grace and joy. But the process to getting there is a doozy. It asks us to step up and see what we haven’t wanted to see. It asks us to love parts of us that we didn’t want to love. It is demanding that we see ourselves as the love that we ARE and cleanse our hearts of all the pain, trauma, outdated beliefs, identities and attachments that no longer serve. To see ourselves as the light that we are.

To shine the light we have to remove the density first. It can feel never-ending but I promise things will lighten the more you release and heal. We live in cycles and all cycles have their resolution. Not only that but we’re living in a time where we are experiencing a quickening which means it’s all going much faster than it would normally. So we’ve got that going for us!

If you’ve ever given birth – to a human or even to a beloved project or idea– you know that the labor involved can be hard but the end result is worth it. Keep that in mind. Labor doesn’t last forever. I remember when pregnant with my daughter our birth preparation class teacher told us that no contraction lasts longer than maybe 90 seconds. (I forget the precise length of time now though it was etched in stone at that time for sure.) During a contraction I would count out loud, and as I got closer to the end of the 90 seconds I would speed up my counting because I JUST WANTED IT TO END. And my husband God bless him was counting at normal speed (as someone not giving birth to a watermelon would do) and I yelled YOU ARE COUNTING TOO SLOW! As if speeding up the counting would speed up time. Oh I wish. But it was true–the contractions all had an end point, with a pause between, and goodness I lived for those pauses.

So it shall be for you. Remember the contractions do not last forever. Savor the pause. Bring all your love and strength to yourself during the hard bits. See and release what needs releasing. Find ways to experience joy and gratitude in the midst of it all. Be gentle. Call a friend. Have a sip of tea. Yell into the woods. (I have done that a lot. The trees don’t judge.) Not only have you got this, you were made for this. You have the love of the divine universe at your back. Release what holds you back so you can shine like you were meant to shine.

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

For the Love of Family

I am most definitely emerging from THE GREAT FUNK OF 2016. (Unfortunately not a throwback ’70s band but a very sad and grief-y series of months.)

Making it through to the other side? Oh it feels so good.

When I was deep in the muck I drafted a post about family. How awesome it is and how I couldn’t get through hard stuff without it and omigod can someone please pass me some Kleenex?

Yeah I wasn’t quite ready to write that post. Too emotional. Too much love.

So here I am, back to finish what I started.

Family. THEY ARE THE BEST.

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Where is this chocolate you speak of? Photo source (creative commons license).

So far, no need for tissues. I will continue. 

Recently my brother-in-law, his wife and their adorable two-year-old came to stay with us for almost two weeks. This long-ago planned visit happened to coincide within days of me finding out I was miscarrying.

To quote my sister, the visit was going to be either really good for me or really disastrous. (Love my sister, she tells it like it is.)

Know what? It was really, really good. The polar opposite of disastrous.

They were awesome and totally in-tune to the situation, offering to give space and distance and I’m sure chocolate if I had asked nicely.

The funny thing is, even though I usually burrow deep into the ground during hard times, I didn’t want space or privacy this time around. I wanted family 24-7 to love and embrace me. They did and it was nothing short of wonderful.

During their visit, our kids played together and fought over toys and chased each other with balloons. Meanwhile us adults lounged around and caught up on each others’ lives. We shared meals, tucked our kids into bed and watched Community and Six Feet Under. We talked about the hard stuff. The challenges of parenting, marriage, and yes, even conceiving a second child.

For many years, burrowing worked well-enough when the goal was to shut out further pain. Unfortunately the same door that shuts out the pain also shuts out a lot of people who would have been more than willing to help me through the hard times.

It feels good to be up here in the sunshine, with family.

Plus, I hear they keep the chocolate up here.

 

 

Finding My Village after Losing My Mom

The last few weeks I’ve found myself fantasizing about what it would be like to have my mom around. I doubt this is healthy, but it goes like this: I envision her showing up and going to work. She would get my kitchen really clean—sparkling, lemon-fresh clean. She would brush my daughter’s hair, patiently untangling it. She would spoil her only granddaughter with a special Valentine’s Day dress (something that I wouldn’t have the energy or time to consider buying). Even though I would say to her, mom you shouldn’t have, she would reply, That is what grandmothers are for.

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Image source.

She would treat me to lunch, just the two of us. She would spoil me by footing the bill for a pretty new dress or shirt, just because.  I would say, you don’t need to do this. And she would reply, I know, but I want to. And she would mean it.

Lovely as this dream is, it is not reality.

I’ve been lonely for family lately. In addition to my mom being gone, the rest of my alive-and-well-family feels really far away. There is a literal distance of over 1,000 miles. Sometimes that is not a big deal. We Facetime, we talk, and we see each other pretty frequently despite the distance. But it doesn’t replace having grandma down the road. Our far-away family can’t swoop in to babysit if an unexpected emergency comes up.

We know that we need a nearby, substitute family. We are working hard to build our village. Our list of sitters is slowly growing and we are forcing ourselves to forge connections with as many families and friends in our neighborhood as we can.

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Finding Community. Image source. 

I see this community as providing patches to a well-loved quilt that currently has some holes in it. 

Even though I might not like the fact that big, important pieces are missing from my quilt, it doesn’t mean I can’t try to patch it up, to blend old with new.

To be certain, there is no patch or series of patches that will repair the empty space that was held by my mother. That is not possible.  I see the new patches to the old quilt as being like those in a crazy quiltYou know, those folk-art type quilts that are sewn together with irregular shapes and sizes and using unique patterns and materials. (Hey, the name fits too. All families are a little crazy, right?!)

I’ve always liked the eclectic look of crazy quilts. There is beauty in its imperfection.

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A crazy quilt pattern up close. Source.

Which is not to say that I always fully embrace the new. Fantasies about my mom come from a place of resentment. For the fact that there are holes in the fabric of my family. For the fact that clinging to my old quilt just doesn’t work anymore.

The problem is that fantasies never accurately reflect what was or what could have been.

Let’s be honest: If my mom were alive and well, reality would look a little different than the fantasy I described.  For one thing, I’d likely be frantically cleaning before she arrived to my house (in order to save face, of course). And while yes, my mom would comb my daughter’s hair, she would likely also raise my ire by asking, “Don’t you ever comb this rat’s nest?!”

While it is very likely we would have lunch just the two of us, it’s also likely that when she would lean over to pass me the bread she would also tuck my hair behind my ear, commenting for the fifteenth-thousandth time that I should “Just pull my hair back so everyone can see my eyes!”

Imagining this revised scene makes me laugh and helps to slay some of the victim-hood.

It reminds me that there is no perfect quilt. Well-loved quilts always have a few frays.

Still, I miss her. Flaws and all.

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You might also enjoy: One Year After My Mom’s Death: Overthinking the Deathversary