Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old Long Ago

As I sit on my couch in my new living room, in my new house, gazing at my Christmas tree, I cannot help but think back over the past year.  I had a friend visit last night and we were talking about all the challenges the past year has brought into our lives.  As we were talking I got a little choked up.  I looked around and realized that the tears were not of sadness, they were of joy.  They were tears of survival.  Tears of picking myself up, dusting myself off and yes putting those stilettos back on my feet.  I have walked into the next chapter of my life.

God presented so many challenges to me this year.  The first six months I felt like I was treading water and boy was I getting tired, physically, emotionally and spiritually!!  I felt like a pin ball in a machine just bouncing around hitting the sides pretty hard. Battling the demons in my head. I had health issues, some that could have been avoided had I taken better care of myself.  I still struggle with the idea that my body just cannot always do what my mind "knows" it can.  

Physically, I pushed myself to limits that even I am impressed with...especially being a part of a 12 person relay team that ran from Raleigh to Emerald Isle in the Tuna 200 (yeah, that's 200 miles.)  Running first thing in the morning...running in the middle of the night...sleeping almost upright in a van that stunk of girl sweat and then running again! Such a wonderful experience with some amazing women, developing a bond that will never be broken. 

Running a 4 mile race with one of my very best friends as she achieved her goal of completing her first race.  I was blessed to be able to run by her side.  She is extraordinary and I am so proud to call her friend. 

Mentally pushing through the difficulties of selling a home over 9 months.  All the while raising three girls and a dog...and living there only half the time.  Pushing through the thoughts that we would never sell it.  Then pushing through to let the house go after it did sell. Pushing through the closing of a 7 year chapter that is so close to the end of a 20 year book. Pushing through the complications of being a stay at home mom for 12 years and working part time...then trying to convince a bank to give me a loan. The swallowing of pride. The hoops I had to go through, the humbling realizations that sometimes I just need help.  

Spiritually pushing my mind to believe.  To believe that the road set ahead of me was paved by The Almighty and I that I should WANT to follow this road as He has great plans for me.  Pushing every single day to remind myself that this was a lesson of patience.  A lesson of faith.  Pushing to forgive myself when I had doubt.  Pushing to TRUST.  Pushing to REST.  Pushing to BE STILL.  I learned a lot in this area of my life.  I learned about the power of thought.  I learned that if you think negatively, your world will seem and perhaps be a negative place.  I also learned that if you think positively your world will seem and perhaps be a positive place.  Even if things didn't go the way I planned...having a positive outlook made the really tough stuff a little easier to handle.

Although this was definitely one of the most difficult years in my life, the blessings completely outweigh the challenges (which in hindsight, were actually blessings).  I have had some wonderful people by my side this year.  Some that were there for a reason, some for the season and some who will always be there for my lifetime.  God put them where I needed them, when I needed them.  He gave me difficult challenges to overcome, yet He also gave me the tools to use to hit those challenges head on.  

Once again, my cup overfloweth I will leave 2012 with this...

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And auld lang syne! 

For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne. 
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne. 

I raise a glass of kindness to you my friends, in love and friendship.  Cheers!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The gift that keeps on giving


Last week we started our fundraising efforts for my MS Walk team the Village People.  This is the earliest we have ever started.  We had a great day and evening with a golf tournament and then a live auction after dinner at my favorite wine bar, Niche.  I had a group of folks who rallied and really put this all together for me.  Ted, Jill, Leigh and Amika you all are so special to me.  We raised awareness with signs posted at the golf course, as well as speaking about the disease at the auction.  We raised money!!  Over $3000.00!!  We also raised something a little bit more important to me than all of that, we raised a sense of community.
"Love thy neighbor", so to speak. 
Before we began organizing this event I had never met Jill or Leigh.  Ted has been a good friend for some time and Amika, well we were just starting to grow our friendship.  These four people really put their all in for me and for MS.  They found sponsors, golfers, donors for the auction and the goodie bags along with dinner and entertainment.  Jill was able to get us on the front page of the Holly Springs Sun (an excellent opportunity to share what MS is and who I am as a mother of three with MS), as well as a follow up this past week.  There were many people I knew who were going to golf that day and there were many I did not know.  I tried to introduce myself to all of them and thank them personally, I hope I did not miss anyone!  We had a fantastic surprise that day as well.  Jill was back at the snack bar getting ready to fill up the cart.  There was a gentleman there that asked her what was going on today, with all the banners and signs everywhere.  She told him about me and our cause Multiple Sclerosis.  Their conversation ended and they went their seperate ways.  Jill came back a short time later and he was waiting for her.  He said I wanted to give you something for your fundraiser.  He handed her a check, she said thanks very much and again they parted ways.  Jill did not look at the check until the gentleman was gone and she was back in the cart with Amika.  She opened it up and saw a check for $250.00.  She and Amika tracked us down on the golf course to share the news.  I of course went to tears. 
Later that night we headed back to Niche for dinner, thanks to Big Mike's BBQ.  You have got to try his blue cheese cole slaw.  I died and went to heaven eating it!  The bar filled up, some people we knew and others we did not.  We were blessed to have Long Time Gone our friends Ed and Mike perform for us.  A big treat for all.  Ted thanked everyone and announced the winners (Erika Monty's family ran away with a few prizes!!).  Then Michael was given the microphone to MC the auction.  Michael shared personal information about MS, about me and about this group of people who had come together earlier in the day.  He was able to get folks that had no idea what we were doing that day and night to open their wallets and contribute to a cause they may have known nothing about and a woman they had literally seen introduced only moments before.  Thanks to Ted, Aldo and Bob for putting themselves up on the auction block!  Michael thanks for all your efforts!!
So that sums up our event, short and sweet.  There is a pattern in this summary.  It is a pattern of giving, of one's time, resources, talents, and of course funds.  So many people took part in the golf tournament and auction.  So many volunteered and gave from their hearts.  If you have followed this blog at all you know how blessed I have been in the past by the kindness of others.  Not because they were looking for something in return, because their hearts led them to give something of themselves.  I have a bunch of new friends in town, got to know some I already knew a little bit better and had my core group right there with me.  While I am beyond overwhelmed at the money we were able to raise and the generosity of so many, what really touches my heart is the kindness and love that was shared by so many.  Yes, I want to raise money for a cure & yes, I want to raise awareness for MS...but more importantly to me, is to share God's greatest gift...LOVE.  The Almighty was present that day, in every detail.  He encouraged all of this support. He had everyone in place right where He needed them to be, to do what He needed them to do.    There is no doubt in my mind who's Mighty Hand was held over this event.  I thank God for all of you.  I thank Him for putting you in my life, whether for a reason, a season or a lifetime. 

I leave you with this...
"And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love"
1Corinthians 13:13

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Painting a picture


I have been told by a couple different people to write down how I see my "new life".  How I picture it in my mind.  How do I actually see myself "happy"?  Who is with me?  Where am I? How will I know I have made it???  To finish out this post I am going to attempt to share that painted picture that is in my mind.  It comes from the heart of a dreamer and this my friends is completely honest.

I close my eyes and I feel the warmth of the morning sun.  I hear the crash of the waves and smell the salt in the air.  I feel the sand between my toes as I dig my feet in deeper and deeper.   As I take a deep breath in, I hear myself sigh with happiness.  I open my eyes and look out at the mighty ocean God has created.  I see it daily and it reminds me of times when I could not feel the bottom from under my feet.  It reminds me that each day is a gift and to accept it wholeheartedly.  It also reminds me that although the ocean waters are mighty and fierce.  The One who created them is the mightiest and the fiercest and He is by my side, just as He promised. 

As I look over the dunes, I smell the coffee in my hands.  It gives me the extra boost in the morning.  Soon I hear music and laughter spilling out from the kitchen windows of my humble home.  As I look back towards the house that my girls and I have made into a home, I see that is it battered and has a few scars of it's own.  Yet when I take a deeper look I can see inside the windows.  There I see my babies (they will always be my babies) a few years older, still as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. There is joy in their voices, there is happiness in their hearts.  They have learned through my mistakes that life is not fair.  No one has ever promised that it would be.  Although I know they will make many of their own mistakes, I pray they do not follow the path I chose of most resistance.  I pray that they follow a path that brings them challenges and as they gain strength and overcome those challenges they feel the joy still in their own hearts.  When I look again I see that this battered up home is a symbol of who I am.  I have many scars some in full view and others one may have to look really close to see.  However behind those scars I see a light in my eyes and joy in my soul, just as I see the love flowing through the windows of my home. 
I close my eyes and thank God for my life.  The good, bad and the ugly, for this is what has made me who I am today.  As I listen to the sounds of my favorite things and find myself lost in a dream, my boy Jake comes up from his morning swim and shakes his soaking wet body all around me.  I open my eyes and smile and realize that this is not a dream...this is my life. 

Coming clean

Well I am back again.  Back to the place where I feel I can write and express what is in my heart.  In the past this blog has been a cathartic exercise for me...although if I am honest with you and myself, many times in the past I have written how I wish my life would be, not the actual truth.  So I guess I am admitting to you all that I am a liar.  To you and to myself.  To make myself feel better I will say it was for self preservation...however the truth is the truth, and I have not always been truthful in what I have shared.
In January of 2011 I told my husband I wanted a divorce.  It is now July 2012 and we are still trying to get through the process.  This past year and a half has been HELL for my entire family.  I have turned my world and the world of others upside down.  I did it by choice.  Out of respect for my husband and family I will not get into the nitty gritty of it would not solve anything and perhaps it would hurt some in the process and I do not want that at all.  I will say that I am confident in my decision and that when I look in the mirror every morning I know I am doing the right thing.  While knowing this is the right thing for me and my girls (and frankly for my husband) it is the absolute most difficult thing I have ever had to hit head on in my life.  If you ask people what the most difficult and stressful things one may face in life they will say death, divorce, moving...those are usually the top three.  What I have come to realize is that divorce is all of that rolled up int one.  The death of a marriage (will be 17 years in October and a total of 20 years together the same month), the divorce itself...shattering a family and the life it has always known and finally moving.  Moving in my case is physical and emotional.  Our house is on the market and he has moved into a new home of his own. 
When rumors of this break up first started to surface last year I denied, denied, denied.  It was my right.  I didn't want people to talk (they ALWAYS do regardless).  I didn't want people to see me as a failure, which I carried for a long time and have finally let go.  I did not want to be the topic of conversation at the pool and then walk up to everyone hushing their voices as I approached.  Lesson learned, it doesn't matter what I want, people will do what they will is just who we are...human.  We actively make choices to judge or not to judge.  Sometimes we think we don't judge, yet subconsciously if we really look we are guilty.  Look I judge myself all the time!! 

Now that it is all in the open my family needs to find our new "normal" whatever the hell that means!  What is normal anyway?  I think it is different for every person.  As I go through the journey before me and look back at where I started, the road is long in both directions.  I have a very small hand full of friends that know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  I am fortunate to have that hand full...many have none that they can trust literally with their lives, I can firmly say that I do.  For that I am blessed. 

As I share this journey with you, I want to share my source of strength.  I want to share that I am not perfect and I have many faults.  I am not here as an example.  I am not someone to admire.  I am just a woman who finally decided to make a change.  To do that I have had to break a few too many hearts along the way.  I have had to make difficult choices and will have to continue to do so.  I will come out of this with many, many scars.  Yet, I still know with all that, that I am making the right decision.  I am on the right path, as difficult as it may be.

My strength comes from God and His mercy.  It comes from the people He puts into my life to lead, comfort, encourage and kick me in the ass.  For without God I am nothing.  I am trying my best to keep my head above water...treading, quietly and steadily until I can put my feet down and feel the ocean floor.  It will all happen in His time, not mine.  It will all work out for the good of His will not mine.  I stand on the promise that He made to protect me from the storms and the crashing waves. 

"Fear not, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand" Isaiah 41:10