Sweet Miracle of Kindness

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I received the following email today:
Dear Pam,
Just want you to know that I am honored to be your second Mom.  I never had a daughter, but if I did, I would hope she would be just like you.  You are a kind, honest, considerate, intelligent and loving woman.  I am so proud of you, and I respect you for how you have adapted to a new city, job, and home this past year.  Not an easy task !
Pam,  you are very special to me.
Love,
S…

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Tomorrow Began Yesterday

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Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end

It’s all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow. – William Faulkner

It’s a quiet morning, and I’m in the house alone sitting in my room, sipping on a steaming cup of coffee, and cuddled under the covers in my robe.  Mornings like this are a rarity, and I am fully enjoying the moment.  Out there beyond my bedroom door are lists of things I need to buy and things I need to do.  Kids and family will begin descending on our house either tonight or tomorrow.  I haven’t really been able to clarify exactly who is being brought along to our house…or when.  For now though, until my feet hit the floor with some kind of purpose, these morning moments belong to me.   Continue Reading »

Signs

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I’ve looked for small signs, or deeper meaning, all my life.  I suppose much of that can be chalked up to superstition.  When I was a little girl, I looked for the indian on my Tootsie Pop wrapper.  I didn’t know why, but if I found one, I always took that as a sign of good luck.  When I got a bit older, I would twist the stem off of my apples while reciting the alphabet.  Whatever letter I was on when the stem broke free, would be the first initial of my future husband.  I remember having to do some tricky stem-pulling to get that stem to come off on the letter I was hoping for!  These were just silly games that most kids play.  A “lucky” day or a supposed glimpse into the future were games we played as children in order to reassure ourselves that all was well, things were good, things were going to go the way we hoped.  As an adult, I began to look for signs in other ways.  While the methods may have become a bit more sophisticated, there was still a desire for signs that would reassure.  (Although, I do still look for the indian on my Tootsie Pop wrapper!) Continue Reading »

The Theme For This Year…

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Last Sunday was the first time that I have felt truly relaxed in so many months.  I was relaxed in a way that I knew wasn’t going to be quickly snatched away from me.  I wasn’t stealing a moment.  I wasn’t supposed to be doing something else.  I wasn’t on my way to someplace.  I simply was.  It was genuine and comforting. Continue Reading »

The Wisdom To Know

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It seems like a lot has happened since my last blog post.  A lot, yet nothing much at all.  There were no significant, life-changing events, but yet I feel a certain sense of change.  Christmas has passed.  It is a new year.  I am another year older, having celebrated a birthday during my blogging absence.

I apologize for temporarily shutting down both blogs for a period of time.  It was not my intention to cause alarm or concern.  I simply needed a time to hibernate.  I needed a time of quiet reflection.  I suppose I needed solitude.

The holidays were filled at times with deep sadness while other moments were shining with a kind of joy that I have not allowed myself to experience fully in a very long time.

I had ten days of no work, time with all four kids home, happy and getting along well.  I ate too much.  At times, I drank too much.

T and I  rang in the New Year with old friends.  For the first time in years, I was not on stage playing music, but I was one of the crowd enjoying the entertainment.  That made me sad, and it felt odd at first.  Eventually, though, I was out on the floor dancing up a storm.  That night, I belly laughed for the first time in over two years.  The sensation caught me by surprise.  At first, I didn’t recognize what was happening, and it made me laugh even harder in wonder at the privilege of having the experience of happiness and joy flash into my life for a brief moment once again.

Acceptance.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Those were words I heard my dad repeat hundreds of times.  My dad lived those words.  They were written and framed in a variety of places in his home so he would never forget.  He was reminded over and over to accept with courage whatever life sent his way.

I have never had a problem with courage.  Many times, I have faced down my fears.  The word CAN’T, the word NO, those were words that offered a challenge to me.  Being told that something was not possible only spurred me to try harder to prove the possibility.  Fighting for what I wanted or what I believed in was never the problem.  It has taken me two years to learn an important lesson.  There are some things in life that I cannot change.  Can’t.  No.  Some things are beyond my power to control.  I know that concept may seem like a no-brainer to some, but not to me.  I thought if I fought hard enough, tried hard enough, I could make practically anything go MY WAY.  Of course, I have always understood that there were things, like death, that were beyond my control, but beyond that, I stubbornly, bull-headedly believed that there was very little else that I could not sway, or fix, or influence.  I was wrong.

While I may have not lacked courage and conviction, something else has been lacking.  A great, gaping hole stood in the middle between me and acceptance.  That gaping hole was wisdom.  “…the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Two years of struggle, and an unwillingness to admit acceptance into my life, has taught me that WISDOM does not come easily.

Along with wisdom comes acceptance, and acceptance brings with it a sense of calm.  For the first time in so very long, I have had moments of calm and peace.  I have had moments that have allowed me once again to recognize myself, the woman I once was, the woman I hope to be again someday.  Acceptance does not take away sadness or loss, but it has allowed me to occasionally step off of the hamster wheel.  This wisdom has allowed me to stop punishing myself.  Yes, some things are beyond my control.

I now understand why my dad found it necessary to keep the words of the Serenity Prayer near to him.  Like me, he needed to be reminded.  It was a lesson that had not come easily to him, but once learned, he never forgot the value of that lesson.

Ugly Girl

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Last night I packed my suitcase once again.  I’m leaving this afternoon to attend another conference.  While I am looking forward to spending time with my friends, I don’t find myself very excited at the prospect of leaving the peace and safety of my home.  Home seems to be the only place where I don’t doubt myself.  It’s the only place where I feel like ME anymore.

As I looked through my clothes, I couldn’t find one thing that I really wanted to pack.  It’s not that I don’t have a closet full of nice clothes, the problem is that I don’t think I look good in any of them.  There is a formal awards dinner tomorrow night.  Instead of thinking about the award I SOOOO want to win, I found myself more concerned about what to wear for that event.  Everything I looked at, I decided against once I imagined it on me.  “No.  This will make me look frumpy.”  “No.  This will make me look like I am trying to be too young.”  “No.  My arms don’t look good in that.”  “No.  This makes my breasts look non-existent.” “I look fat in that.”   “I look ugly.  Period.”  The voices in my head were not being kind.

I once enjoyed these conferences.  I enjoyed the company.  I enjoyed new ideas and learning new things.  Now, all I can think about is not acting like there is something wrong with me.  I wonder if friends that I have not seen in months will take me aside (again) and ask me what’s wrong.  Will they wonder if I have been/am sick?  Will they talk behind my back at how dramatically Pam has changed?  I can put on the most lovely clothes in the world, but clothes can never cover up the things that I would like to hide.  My hair can be perfect.  My makeup can look great, but nothing can put the sparkle back in my eyes.  That’s why I feel ugly now.  The way I look hasn’t changed all that much, but what is on the inside of me has been altered dramatically.

When I am home, I can feel the me I once was beginning to emerge.  I feel safe at home, and I am able to take things at my own pace.  I don’t have to be “on.”  I feel supported by my family.  Healing can take place at home.  It is these times out on my own that shake me up and fill me with doubt and fear.  I am afraid to be alone with my thoughts.  I’m afraid to be without the distraction of my daughters.  I miss having my cat curled up on my lap.

Rebuilding my self-confidence is a monumental task.  It doesn’t take much to shatter the delicate beginnings.  Rebuilding who I once was is much more difficult than it was getting there the first time around.  I suppose part of that is because I blame myself for ever letting anything, anyone, or any situation undermine what was such an essential and important of myself.

As I’ve thought about what the next few days will bring,  I have decided to just accept feeling ugly.  What I look like does NOT matter.  What is important is who I am on the inside.  I will go, and I will learn.  I will catch up with old friends.  I will direct my care and concern outward instead of keeping my focus on ME.  I will stop caring so much about the ugly girl on the OUTSIDE, and concentrate more on on nurturing the beautiful woman on the INSIDE.

Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That…

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A day of travel, and then conference Day One is over.  I’m already worn out, and I have three more days of this ahead of me.  Tomorrow, I’m going to be kind to myself mentally and not feel like I have to socialize quite as much…or at all if I don’t feel like it.

The conference is fantastic, and I get re-energized to be around so many people who care about all of this as much as I do.  I read “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” over my solitary breakfast, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Before dinner, I headed down to the bar for a drink before meeting up with everyone, and I read, “The Case For Business Investment in High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail.”  It was gripping!  The United States ranks 8th worldwide in high speed rail investment.  That is shameful.  As you can see, I’m having a WILD time!!!

Tonight I had dinner with four other women.  Three of them were lesbians.  “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  It was strange, though, and although I am most definitely NOT attracted to women, as I sat there, I thought about the merit of not having to deal with men!  (Just kidding, my male friends!)

After dinner, my one non-lesbian friend and I had a nightcap in the hotel bar.  She was upset.  Her boyfriend was on a business trip and had not called or emailed the entire time he had been gone.  As we sat there, she opened up her iPad and looked at Facebook.  Of course, he had been on Facebook.  He’d uploaded pictures, updated his status, and checked into restaurants.  There was something else, a woman he had “mentioned” several times  was commenting and LIKE-ing almost everything on this guy’s page.  My friend asked for my advice, and I said, “DITCH HIM.”  I told her not to even give it a second thought.  She didn’t want to rule the guy, all she really wanted was to be treated with decency and common courtesy.  If he couldn’t manage that, then get rid of the loser!

My friend had sent him a brief email from the airport as she set out on her own trip.  “Have a great time in DC.”  He hadn’t called.  He hadn’t emailed back.  He hadn’t even sent a text.  Is it really asking too much for someone you care about to acknowledge your existence?  She and I sat and discussed it.  We live almost 200 miles apart, and communicate often.  If she emails me, I respond.  She responds to me as well.  I asked her if it would hurt her feelings if I didn’t reply to her.  What if I ignored her if she sent me an email or a text?  What would she think?  She said, “I’d think you were a bitch!”  We laughed about it, but it made us both pause.  Why then, would she even consider continuing a relationship with this man?  Why try to keep him as a friend, let alone sleep with him?  Why do we hang onto toxic relationships?  Why do we try to “teach” or “help” those around us be who or what we need them to be?  If the guy is a jerk, then he is a jerk.  My friend agonizing over it is not going to change a thing.  She is fun, intelligent, and extremely successful.  She would not allow anyone in her life to step all over her, yet when it comes to her “love relationship,” she is vulnerable.  She doesn’t apply the same criteria to that part of her life as she does to all other areas.  Too many of us are guilty of doing that same thing.  I know I am, have been.  We value ourselves less than those around us, and it needs to stop.  Expecting to be treated decently and fairly by those we allow into our heart and our lives is NOT expecting too much.  I reminded my friend that she was not expecting one thing from him that she was not willing to give in return.  She would never treat someone she cared for in such a callous manner.  She should expect no less in return.

I’ve spent a great deal of time lately in quiet observation of those around me.  Common themes, behaviors, and actions are beginning to surface.  I am learning, or I am trying to learn.  I am attempting to concentrate on peace, inner peace.  What I am trying to avoid is becoming brittle or self-righteous.  I want to trust.  I want to love.  I want to continue to have high expectations of those around me.  I want to treat people with care, respect, and love, and I want to receive those same things in return.

Today I stepped outside during lunch and wandered around the area.  I discovered a meditation garden behind the chapel across the street from my hotel.  It was lush, green, and beautiful.  There was a sign that read, “Shhhh…  Peaceful Meditation Area.”  Just seeing those words allowed me to take a deep breath.  I wished to enter the garden, sit, and cry.  I’m not sure why, but that is what I imagined myself doing.  I didn’t have time to indulge in a good cry at that moment.  I had another conference session to attend.  In the morning, though, I am going to take some time for myself and visit the little garden.  I don’t want to cry, but probably though,  I will.  Even if I do, I hope that peace, even a little tiny fraction of peace, awaits me.