Category Archives: Inspiration

There Is A Hole In Our Family Pictures

There is a hole in our family pictures..

Earlier this month Chrissy Teigen announced the heartbreaking news she had lost her child, and it hit me right in my gut. I too had lost my third child and I too had named him Jack. Suddenly I was overcome with the raw emotion that comes with child loss. I suddenly was back in that ER room with multiple doctors telling me there is nothing they can do as they help my limp child in their hands covered in my blood. 

There is something inside a woman that breaks when you lose a child, a core part, that no one knows existed until it breaks. Because you see we are not meant to outlive our children. We are meant to be in rockers and watch them blissfully with their own children. But instead 1 in 4 women will experience baby loss. It is a club no one wants a membership to and yet it is a silent club that no one acknowledges until they become a member.  Then it consumes your identity.

Suddenly You are consumed by loss and the what ifs. I would not wish it on my worst enemy, there is a knowing look a woman who experienced a loss will give you and it differs from the look a regular person would give you. It is a heartbreaking knowing look like suddenly they just took you under their wing and become a sisterhood with you. The look of absolute understanding and pain. 

The pain. It never leaves you, but you learn to live with it. You learn to look to blue sky days and wonder if your child is playing in the heavens looking down on you, then there are days you look up at the rainy sky and wonder why? Why were you chosen?  You learn to lean on those around you, your silent sisterhood, as you navigate a new life. 

I can testify it gets easier. The years go by and you are less consumed by pain, and you find new happiness. Maybe you have a rainbow baby, a child that follows a loss, and suddenly you are blessed with a chance to tell your rainbow all about his sibling in heaven watching over him. Maybe you decide to foster and adopt, and you are blessed in whole new sense. But I Promise you will find a way to carry on. Chrissy will get past this, she has the whole world watching as she grieves, but she will get past this and lets hope can be a shining light in the world of baby loss and help other mothers navigate their new normal 

But there is a hole. There is a hole in your family pictures. For me it is between my daughter and youngest son, and his name is Jack and January 25th is his birthday and he would be turning 6 next year. I will always be his mother. I will always say his name. and every year in January I will remember him, and I will celebrate the short time I carried him and felt him move inside of me.  

Serendipity

Grief And Ghosts

It has recently occurred to me that I may qualify as an “expert” on grief.  I have been an estates and trusts attorney for seventeen years.  Meaning, for seventeen years, I have worked with families as they navigate their worlds after the loss of a loved one.  As one would gather, some of those losses are expected, some are sudden and tragic, and some leave a family in a state of turmoil for years.  As my career was opening my heart to loss, I watched my healthy, vibrant mother be diagnosed with, battle and die of lung cancer as I was pregnant with my second child and chasing my first.  Shortly after she died, my dearest friend was diagnosed with lung cancer as a young mother herself, and I relived the entire process, treatment and death all over again.  In the months before she died, my father died suddenly and I delivered a stillborn.  My life changed dramatically and for over a decade, grief has perhaps been the central experience of my life.

I have waded through the loneliness and grief only those have suffered loss know in a 107 year old house, mostly as a single mother to three spirited children.  My house is surely haunted.  It’s a large white colonial that desperately needs painted, the floors creek, the attic is amazingly creepy and the basement once perfectly served as a broiler room scene for Freddy Krueger in a Halloween eve haunted house.  Repair men have found secret rooms (that’s rooms – plural) and there is a back servant’s staircase with a light that has flickered and baffled electricians throughout the 14 years I have lived here.  A woman once cleaned my house and declared she would never be here alone again.

Life is always a mystery, and that’s the only way I can explain that it is this house, and the ghosts and spirits that have shared these last several years with me, that have supported me through my sleepless nights and constant pains of loneliness.  It seems counter intuitive, but stories of ghosts, hauntings and lucid dreams have been a part of every culture and religion since the beginning of time – and we are so quick to sensationalize the dark stories that we lose sight of the beautiful ones.  

It was in this house my father sat in my dining room with my toddlers in their footie Santa pajamas and ate monkey bread while they basked in the magic of Christmas morning giggles.  My mother prepared for, set up and planned my eldest son’s first birthday party here in this house while unbeknownst to me, she was waiting on a cancer biopsy.  She was careful with what she wore that weekend so I wouldn’t see the bandage and wound on her neck because my celebration of my baby was more important to her than her own fears.  My dear friend Tasha, my former roommate, bridesmaid, godmother to my first born and life’s soul mate, planned and celebrated parties in this house that ranged from sacred baptisms to wild, feisty, sexy, girls-only parties that ran into the early mornings.  And my baby Roman, who was delivered with no heartbeat only weeks before I lost my father, sits in a beautiful tiny urn, right next to my mother’s ashes, wrapped in a simple white rosary in my dining room.  To me, they share in every chorus of happy birthday sung in that room, every Christmas eve feast, and listen to each story unfold over chicken and dumplings about playground antics, volleyball victories or even scoldings for my son’s constant, unbreakable habit of leaning back in his chair.   

Their spirits live in this house.  I feel them when my kids chase each other through the house like maniacs and when we snuggle up to read bedtime stories.  They live amongst the ghosts that were here before them and come out when my daughter sings, or when my youngest snuggles his kitten, or when my oldest watches horror movies with his friends, and they visit me in my dreams.  The ghosts in this house, and in my heart, have allowed me to thrive, grow and raise these inspiring, bold and fearless children and keep joy the heart of this home instead of unbearable sadness and loss.  So yes, my house is haunted, and I pray one day when grief brings you to your knees, yours is too.

~Michelle

A Channel Or A Reservoir Mentality

A reservoir of water sits still.  It does not touch another body of water. It does not nourish, increase, ebb & flow.  It collects and hoards and sits tight right where it is.  It is not a place to expect movement and change.

A channel of water flows into other bodies of water.  It becomes one with the rest of the water that’s downstream or around the bend or just past the dam.  It shares and gives and intertwines with that which surrounds it.

Reservoir Mentality;

Do you find yourself sitting still, buckling down in your space, collecting for no good reason?  Do you focus on holding onto what you have, hoarding things that have no value? Are you squeezing your wallet a bit tightly?  With days just like the Reservoir, having no flow moving in or out.  That mentality can slither into your every daily living, into your feel-good moments and shut them down. 

If you live like a Reservoir, being stuck is your middle name.

 Channel Mentality;

Do you find yourself flowing and giving and sharing and nurturing all the those who are around you?  Do you focus outward on having plenty, because you know, just like the Channel, that you are being given to?  You’re intertwined with the flow that is on it’s way to you.  So you have plenty.  Plenty to spare and share.  Plenty to give away.  Plenty to teach, guide, encourage, support & serve?  The list goes on.  

If you live like a Channel, there’s more where that came from.

I’m hoping this opens your eyes to a new way of being.  New possibilities,  New thoughts.  New living.  New attitude.  AND New Self Awareness.

Make it great.

xoxo

Your God-girl

Tracy

Brick By Brick

I’m not sure if it happens consciously or subconsciously, but our hurts can cause us to lay brick by brick till we have a wall around our heart.  One minute there’s a few and the next thing we know, there’s a few dozen.

Bricks of anger, upset & regret.

Bricks of jealousy, envy & unruliness.

Bricks of stuffing, ignoring & belittling.

Bricks of drama, discord & accusations.

Bricks of chaos, judgment & unforgiveness.

You get the idea.  Before you know it you need a step ladder to continue laying the brick. The mortar sets and the wall becomes a great barrier from any more hurts.  Or is it?  Do you feel secure in your world, walled off with The Self?  Walled up with your speculations & assumptions of what might happen if you trust, believe or hope again?  Walled up from any more hurt that just might work it’s way into your space, into your veins, into your heart?

Close your eyes and imagine the hurt you feel and know that if the hurt can’t penetrate through the brick wall, neither can the love.  

To have love in our lives, we have to be open & receptive.  Willing to risk.  THAT is where love can grow.  Love grows in the soil of vulnerability. It grows in the assurance & certainty of how your life choices just might go extremely well.  

Is today the day to get out the chisel?   To begin removing, brick by brick, as you learn how to protect your heart without making the wall higher, without walling yourself from the outside world.  Learn to teach your heart, to listen to the prompts that feel yucky and learn to understand why they shut you down and how you can work through them to a place of self love, self respect, self care.

xoxo

Your God girl

Tracy

Don’t Let This Be My Story

Don’ let this be my story….It is early this week while I write this. No beverage, no music. But lots of thoughts banging around in my head.

My daughter finally visited with her Dad. She hasn’t said much and I don’t want to push.

This is a slippery slope this Single Mama thing. I realize I’m preaching to the proverbial choir. But there are days I want to come home, look at someone and just have them hug me alright.

I’m a pretty independent person and have been wading these waters solo even when I wasn’t solo but I’m going to be honest. I don’t always want it to be like this. I’ve dipped my toe back into dating again as you all know it’s a roller coaster.

I have a person but the world right now has put roadblocks in our way.

As a person who thrives on end goals,it’s hard for me to feel like I don’t have one.

On the flip side we joke every story we will  tell our grandchildren will be something related to the pandemic.

But there are days I worry we won’t make it. I come with that infamous suitcase I try to hide under my bed.

The suitcase will slide out and suddenly I start believing I’m unlovable. I’m not worthy. I’m all the things the ghosts of my past made me believe, which makes me start looking for cracks that don’t exist.

Shut down.

Go radio silent.

It would be easy to start sticking labels on me. First … yes I go to therapy. Lol. Please for all that is holy do not call me broken. Chipped. Sure. Cautious. Oh my goodness yes. 

Guarded.

Absolutely.

Last but not least I don’t want this to be my story. I think the fact that I don’t want it. Means there is hope.

At least the perpetual optimist in me believes so.

Hope is huge. Hope, caffeine and my daughter are what get me through a lot of days.

My hope for you that you have hope and things to keep you bright and going when your story doesn’t feel like it’s going to end the way you want.

 

 Much love and be safe Mommas

<3 Caprise

How To Stop Pouring From An Empty Cup

How to Stop Pouring from an Empty Cup…. 

As moms, and even more as single moms, we are constantly giving of ourselves to everyone we seem to encounter. We give to our kids, we give to our family, our friends, our work, but the one person we often do not give to, is ourselves. It was a little over a year ago, that I realized I had to stop, because I could no longer pour from an empty cup. I was exhausted and drained, but I just kept going. I was making decisions based on the good of the others and not on what I needed for my personal growth and mental health. 

I was out to dinner with some friends, my first night without my kids in quite some time, and I realized I again made a decision because I felt like I needed to, I had to, when deep down inside all that my poor mind and body wanted was peace and quiet. Now, don’t get me wrong, the friends I was with had become an important part of my journey and my life, and it isn’t that I didn’t want to be with them, but where I was at that moment, I needed to choose myself and I chose what I thought would make others happy. I realized I could no longer go on like this and I had to start doing for me. So, while at dinner I made the choice to start pouring back into myself. 

I made the decision to start this new lifestyle, start a new path where my choices were now what was going to be mentally and physically beneficial to me and not to others. I felt this huge weight lift off my shoulders within minutes of making this decision. People started seeing a difference in me, but it was never about others noticing, it was about me noticing.  I started really looking at who was in my life and did they push me to be a better version of myself, did they understand when I had to put myself and my choices first or did I get crap every time I gave an answer, and ultimately could I be my 100% true and authentic self around them without any hesitation or filtering.

The later of this ended up being one thing that I had to really looked at a lot, because let’s face it as single parents our time to be around adults without our children is quite limited. When we have the chance to be around others, are they people we can be truly open with or are they people you do not get beyond surface level type stuff with? Do you find yourself sitting around with them, wanting so much to have adult conversations about what is on your mind, but also know some of them will not be listening to truly try to understand, just listening to respond?  I found myself having this internal struggle of do I do what I need to for inner peace and to pour into my own cup or do I just continue down this path? 

I chose to do what I needed to do for me and pour into my own cup. I made the choice to step away from a group of people not because I do not love them or care about them or because I want them completely out of my life. The truth was I felt like I had to hide parts of me, my story, and my feelings or thoughts from many of them. We all met working through the same thing, but the truth is outside of that same thing I did not feel I had much in common with most of them beyond that. I could laugh at the same jokes, I could tell a funny story, I could talk about my kids, but after that I found myself not feeling like I could share anything deeper.  There was no one at fault for how I felt, it was just me listening to my gut. We all have heard that saying about how we see more than we ever let anyone know, and I study people’s verbal and nonverbal responses, so if I feel as though responses are not welcoming or open minded, I just don’t share . As soon as I made that choice it felt so freeing. I know that most of them if not all of them did not get it, and that is ok, because what I was going for was pouring back in to my cup, and not necessarily making sure I was filling someone else’s again. I found myself with everything going on in the World, I was pouring every ounce of me into my kids and my work, that by pouring just that little bit back in to me, made me feel like a new person.   

They say that when you can speak freely without hesitation that is when you know you are with the right people, and I finally felt that I did not have to hesitate anymore. I found I no longer felt guilty for having to say no to going places and doing things. I found that if I did not have my kids and needed to just stay home in my house for peace and quiet, I could do that. I found myself pouring into my cup again, sipping a to-go margarita on the couch in my pjs, without feeling guilty. 

So, to all of you out there who are pouring from an empty or almost empty cup, its time to take some of that back for yourself. Find something that makes you happy and do it, find something that does not make you happy and stop doing it, stop pouring into too many people without first pouring into yourselves. We are always going to pour in to our kids, as we are supposed to do, and we will always pour ourselves in to work because we have to, but beyond that the next cup we all should pour in to is our own. So, grab a pitcher, fill your cup, and while you are at it sip your favorite drink, wear your comfy clothes, and do what makes you happy. 

 

~~ JES <3 <3 <3

My Car My Life

My car … my life

The only thing a rear view mirror is good for is to see what’s behind you.  It doesn’t give you any insight as to what’s around the corner, it gives no enlightenment to the opportunities that lie ahead nor does it give you a sneak peek as to who’s beside you giving you support.  Only what’s behind.  Hence, why it is called rear view.

It is best to have your eyes focused on the windshield more than the rear view.  As you watch where you’re going and see what lies ahead, you can maneuver as you go.  You can look further down the path & decide if you want to turn or go straight.  As the journey of life meanders, just like your car on a long windy country road, you can enjoy the scenery, coast along & be in the moments that surround you.

There will be times that you have so many things going on in your life, you feel like you’re on an expressway and you better be alert throughout the whole chapter you’re in or you could lose focus and end up in a mess that you never saw coming.  If you get that glazed-over look, the one that comes after a long, hard day…you might not see clearly what is right in front of you.

The side mirrors are just as important.  Check in to see who’s beside you, who’s moving at the same rate as you, who’s moving in too close and who just left the scene.  In your life….  Can you trust the people all around you?  Can you watch by their choices where they’re going and if it will impact your path or not? Are you able to continue forward while enjoying their presence beside you or are they a threat?

And always be aware of your blind spots.  Like in a car, you have to be very aware you have them.  Can you see when someone is manipulating, playing or controlling you?  You want to be sure that you have a good sense of your blind spots.  Is one of your blind spots to believe everything people say?  Is it to ignore what they say because you need them in your life?  Is it to wear your rose colored glasses so it appears to look different than it really is because you don’t want to know the truth?  Do not ignore your blind spots.

Be aware of what’s happening behind, in front and beside you…in your car and in your life. Be alert.

 

xoxo

Your God-girl

Tracy

I Am Lost In Life

I am lost in life….

Have you ever been in your car driving and suddenly look up and realize that you have no idea where you are?  Your GPS is still plugging along telling you where to go but at the same time you’re not quite sure it knows where it’s going, and you know that you sure the hell don’t.

Last year some girlfriends and our daughters went to Cancun, Mexico for a girl’s trip.  I was elected to drive to the airport because I had the biggest vehicle (and the most luggage). Our trip to the airport was uneventful. Seems like I had been there hundreds of times. But when we got home, I set my GPS for home and between its directions and me we went on one of the wildest rides of our lives.  I kept following the blue road but every time I did, we were rerouted and a 25-minute trip turned into 1 ½ hours.  (I’ll bet I’m never asked to drive again!  Ha-ha!)

Well I’m lost again.  This time in life. You see, I have been a stay at home mom for over 20 years.  I have 3 kids, the youngest being 17 and a senior in high school next year.  Ever since my firstborn was born, I have devoted myself to being a mother.  Everything I did revolved around kids and their schedules and juggling my husband’s work and travel schedule, and homeschooling, and on and on.  But the one person I never did focus on, or revolve around, was me.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of being a stay at home mom.  I think in part because before kids I was a full out career woman.  I became a CPA, worked for one of the largest corporations in America, jetted here and there for work.  Sometimes I would get home at 10:00 at night.  I would just go to sleep and get up and do the whole thing over again.  And I loved it.  I felt so smart and important with my briefcase, laptop, wearing my trendy suits bopping through airport after airport.  I was important! I was somebody!

Then one day I wasn’t feeling quite well.  Actually, I hadn’t in quite a few days.  I had come home from work at a decent hour and made one of our favorite meals – Chicken Casserole!  I will never forget when the timer went off and I opened the oven to pull our beloved meal out.  The smell overwhelmed me! And for the first time, it didn’t smell good!  I ran from the kitchen hoping my husband would grab the food, which he did, and well….it wasn’t pretty. What in the world was wrong with me?  I started thinking.  My “monthly visitor” had never visited me on a regular basis if you get my drift.  But how long had it actually been this time. I looked at the calendar and it had been 8 weeks!  WHAT!!!  That has happened before but this time I just felt like something was different.  And I was right.  After a quick trip to Rite Aid I found out the next morning that the biggest blessing I would ever experience was about to visit me in about 7 months.

I am unashamed to admit that at that moment I didn’t feel as though a blessing was coming.  I felt as though it was something, or someone, who was going to disrupt and tear down the beautiful life that I had built for myself.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Once I laid eyes on that beautiful face and heard that faint little cry, I found a love inside me that I never knew existed.  And that set the stage for the next 20+ years.

I was so happy raising my kids!  Everything from their painful births to the birthday parties and playdates and summer days at the pool and sweltering nights at the ballpark.  I was happy!  I loved my kids!  I loved being their “go-to” person.  I loved being a mom! And I think for the first time in my life, I loved me.

Well, just like that I wake up one day to a house full of adults.  My children were no longer playing with toys or going on playdates or needed a ride.  They could drive themselves wherever they needed to go. And they did. They could cook better than I could.  And they did.  They could do their own laundry. And they did. They were independent and responsible.  They didn’t need me.

Wait!  What???!!! I always bought matching outfits for them for every holiday and had professional portraits made and proudly hung them throughout my house.  My life had been cooking and cleaning and shopping and running these three beautiful heart-stealers from place to place.  Now, all of a sudden, it was like……. well it was like crickets.  No one needed me. And I was lost.  And I still am.

I’m here in my house with a bunch of adults who all think they know more than anyone else including me and I realize that I have no purpose. At least I feel that way. My purpose went from handling the finances for a Fortune 500 Company, to raising three beautiful people to be responsible adults someday. And that day was suddenly here.  They are beautiful people and I couldn’t be prouder of them!

I know that there is a purpose for me somewhere or I wouldn’t still be an occupant on this plant. But for right now I’m still searching.  Still searching for that thing that makes my heart flutter when I think about it. Still searching for someone, something, anyone or anything to say “Hey!  We need you here!  We’ve been waiting for a person just like you!”

I want to be wanted. I want to be needed. Right now, I feel neither of those things.  With this pandemic I actually do have a lot of roles to fill.  I’m back to cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, for everybody in the house because they are either working from home or taking online classes or both. People ask me why I do this.  I say, “Why not?”  I’ve been looking for an Accounting job but no luck so far.  I hate thinking negatively but many times I find myself thinking, “Who wants an Accountant who hasn’t accounted for anything except her kids for 20+ years?”

Yes, I’m lost.  But I will find my way.  God has a purpose and plan for me.  For whatever reason I either haven’t seen it yet, or it hasn’t been shown to me yet.  Or maybe both.  I will make it.  I will reinvent myself into something /someone I never thought I could be. And when I do, I will look back on my life and see all the paths and roads that brought me to this place.  I refuse to give up hope.  After all, without hope, what is there?  Well, I am here.  Ready for my new beginning and I fully believe that a new beginning awaits me.  After I find my way from where I was to where I am supposed to be.

~Sherri

Why Oh Why

Girls, whenever you question WHY….Why is it like this… With upset in your voice, anguish in your heart and tears on your cheeks… STOP.  Stop and remember it is YOU who can make a change from feeling a MESS to feeling at PEACE.

Let’s just say you really did get pushed down the stairs.  You really were in a car accident.  You really did go through a devastating divorce.  BUT just because it really did happen to you, doesn’t mean it has to mold you, effect you, victimize you or keep you in a negative mind space or feeling a MESS.

As mush as you decide what to eat, where to shop, what to wear on any given day…. You also have the power to decide what to think & speak & how to respond to situations and what’s going on around you.

Years ago I was going to Survivors of Suicide support groups.  I lost a loved one and was eager to work through the pain and upset to a place of ‘joy in the sadness’.   I was on a mission to heal, a journey of releasing the trauma.  I was not going to let his depression become my depression.  I was determined to get on the other side of my grief.

During one of the meetings a woman was sharing.  She was sooooo mad at her dad.  Mad because he had taken his life and she was a MESS as a result of it.  She shared her story, her weight gain, her anger, her solitude & that her dad died 14 years ago.  She’d been coming to Survivors of Suicide meetings for 14 years!!!  I think my jaw may have dropped wide open right there, in that moment. I’d been coming for 2 months and I thought “I Will Not Be Here For One Year, Never Mind Fourteen.”

Do you see?  She kept going to the meetings, sharing her misery, talking about her upset, living IN that MESSY place.  The more she shared, the more support she got, the more drama she shared, the more it coddled her and brought her comfort and justified her anger.  Which, if that worked for her….all the power to her.  BUT, Did she know she had the power within herself to change the way she was thinking?  It could’ve changed in a conversation, in a decision, in a promise.

Next time you find yourself asking WHY, oh Why am I in this MESS?  Remember that you can make it new.

There is no reason to sit in it.

xoxo

Your God girl

Tracy

I Remember September 11th

I do remember….

Friday was September 11th and just like the day it happened I was driving into work listening to music.

When 9/11 happened I was listening to the radio and I remember the DJ saying the Twin Towers were on fire and thinking it was a joke. Then getting to my office and realizing it wasn’t.

Everything right now  seems very divided, very unlike the days after 9/11. I was deep in my drive when I noticed a guy in a truck frantically waving at me at the intersection. I naturally assumed he was mad at me, but couldn’t understand why as I wasn’t doing anything wrong. As I started to drive by I noticed his window was down and he was waiting. I reluctantly rolled my window down with my heart in my throat.

As we were talking a car came speeding behind us out of nowhere.

He started…

I am so glad you stopped. I saw that car and could tell you couldn’t see it and all I could think is I can’t let that happen to her.

I got teary.

I said I thought I was doing something wrong.

He said no, that car was coming and I could tell they were in your blind spot and I was afraid they were going to hit you.

I thanked him profusely.

We had a group grouse about the speeding and horrible parking in our neighborhood.

I thanked him again and told him to have a good morning.

He told me – you too and waved.

I drove to work on silence.

None of what happened lost on me.

A complete stranger looked out for me.

I know there are days it is hard to see it, but there are good people out there.

One of my favorite good news men Tankgoodness had this to say:

“Remember what you felt like the days and weeks after 9/11. We all pulled together. We were humans first, Americans a close second, and all the other BS didn’t matter. ….it’s not too late to come together.”

Yup

A hundred times yup

To my friend in the truck and cowboy hat, thank you so much for reminding me of that.

To you Mommas- be safe and much love

<3 Caprise