The Night After Niche (#NicheParent13)

I should be packing. Sifting through emails, writing posts that are past due. Budgeting, planning, figuring out the secret of the ancient civilizations. But I'm not. I spent about a half hour lying next to the frog princess, listening to her breathing. And kissing her. And thanking God for such a beautiful gift.

Niche Parent has not disappointed. I've met some wonderful new people and got a chance to reconnect with my blogging crew. Life is amazing that way. This conference is so personal. So informative and refreshing. I really enjoy coming here and seeing my tweeps and tribe.  Connecting, connecting, connecting.

I think I had several different "connecting" points this time around. The conference itself was my first. Second, I feel I made different connections thanks to my sponsor, International Delight. Of course, I think it was more about people wanting some samples than my fabulosity but still, it allowed me to connect to some new folks that I hope to stay in touch with.

And finally, it allowed me to connect with the frog princess. I know I see her every day. I know I tuck her in every night but being away from home, I got a chance to see how much she's grown. I also got a chance to see this beautiful spirit and all of the wonder and joy that she brings to my life. Is it possible that I could've fallen in love with her all over again? I don't know if my heart can take it.

Earlier today we spent some time looking at a teeny tiny snail, digging our feet in the sand and watching the sunset. This is by far my most favoritest picture of the entire trip:

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I have no words for my love and perhaps I connect with this picture because my love feels like the horizon: vast and never ending. I have been talking about delicious moments for Breyers for a couple of months now and I have to tell you that this was one of THE most delicious moments I've had thus far. Simple and sweet.

Not too much going on. Just a walk on the beach with friends. Kicking up sand and talking about turtle nests. These are where our most treasured memories come from though, isn't it?

Everything came together here. It was about so much more than the conference. Or the brands I've been working with (though I'm happy to say they get a mention here because their message connects with me and with this blog).  It's about the reason why I still write (love). The reason why I got on the stage this weekend to speak (love).  The reason why I wanted to travel with my girl this weekend (love, love, love).

I hope you get a chance to attend a conference like this, that allows you to connect. And I hope you get some delicious moments of your own to bring a smile to your face.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to move my sappy mobile out of the way for some packing.

Mami Moments: Forgiveness

When you can truly open your heart to others and see everything from a place of love, life changes. Forgiveness can flow. Because the actions do not matter. The intent is not important. What matters is now. What matters is your peace. If you can truly love someone then you can truly forgive them. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." We pray that often but have you stopped to hear those words? To listen to their meaning? Are you forgiven and if you are, do you have the capacity to forgive others?

Pastor Hunter once spoke on forgiveness and said it was like your mortgage. You "buy" your house but you have to make payments on it because you took a loan out. And so it is when you grant someone forgiveness, you have to make payments on it until that debt has been paid otherwise, it will get repossessed. If you must return to it (and chances are good that you will), pray on it. Pray into it. And remember how much lighter your heart is when you are letting go of bitterness, pain and anger. Don't let the enemy condemn you with silence. Speak forth what you have done or what has been done to you and then keep on walking. Forgive yourself because that's one of the hardest things for us to do. It is difficult because the enemy wants to keep us in that dark place in order to hold us back from our purpose. It's not a coincidence that it is said that forgiveness is something you do for yourself.

Let's practice love this weekend. Let's practice being still this weekend. Listening to that which God has placed in our hearts. Not the hurt, not the pain, not the anger. But the love. Speak love this weekend and I guarantee you that come Monday, your life will be changed. Because your outlook will be different and your reaction to the trials in your life will never be the same. There's a reason why in the bible, Peter says: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).

And you don't even have to send this to 10 of your closest friends including me for this to come to pass. Simply forgive...

What Matters Most

I have had a hellacious four weeks. I won't bore you with all of the juicy details behind the statement but, suffice it to say, that with everything else that's gone on this year it's the holy grace of God that sustains me! Today was especially hard. I'm up against deadlines and then all hell broke lose on something I was working on and I hate it when that happens.  I couldn't wait to get in the car to have a good cry.  Because on top of "regular" life, I have mami moments that knock me off my feet on a pretty regular basis.  I didn't get a chance to cry on the drive (because not even my tears are following my schedule!).  I got home after spending a  little time over at dad's with the frog princess just in time to put her to bed. I wasn't happy at this total lack of QT.  More and more I am realizing how little time I have with my baby girl.  And in all honesty, it breaks my heart.

We go through our routine.  The milk, the short giggles on the bed while she attempts to run away from me.  I say our prayers, I pick her up, we say goodnight to the fairies in her room and when I set her down in her crib and go to walk out, she starts crying.  Outside of the door, the guilt washes over me.  I start to think.  My poor baby girl! How little time I spent with her today. How complicated life seems with all of the stresses of work, with all of the time away from home, with the time I spend working at home, etc. Two minutes after setting her down, when she starts calling mama as she's crying, I can't take it and I go to pick her up.

We go to my bed where I hold her and she stops crying.  Enter mami tears previously scheduled for the babyless portion of my drive. The frog princess, keenly in-tuned with me sits and looks at me.  As I cry I apologize.  For not having spent enough time with her today.  For not being able to stay home with her, for forgetting to pack the right amount of clothes to take with her to the caregiver this week, for having to put her to bed immediately after coming home.  At one point, she reaches out and pats me on the arm.  A move she started doing less than 24 hours after mami passed away.  She then reaches out to hug me and keep me close.  This act, of course, makes me cry even harder.  She grabs her burp cloth and blots my eyes and welcomes me to take it.  She gives me a DVD cover that was on the bed.  She even gives me Clifford.  All the while she is jabbering away, calmly. Obvious to me, explaining something.  With a serene look on her face that reminds me of mom.  She talks and pats and hugs me.  I imagine she's telling me the secret to happiness.  The inevitability of life.  The total stupidity behind worrying.  Because all that matters is this moment.

My daughter, normally asleep at that time, cried in her crib until I came to get her.  I went into her room fully expecting to do what I am supposed to do, what I feel I was born to do: comfort her during her time of need.  Instead, she reminded me of what matters.  And she provided me with a level of comfort no one else could.  With her simple jibberish and her powerful touch she gave me the peace that I'd been missing all day.  When she felt like I was okay, she put her head down and invited me to lie next to her as we often do. She imparted a little more wisdom on her mami then sat up and picked up her things (burp cloth and Clifford).  This is my sign that she is ready to go in her crib.  We went back through our routine. Saying goodnight to the fairies, hugs and kisses and I love you's.  I put her down in the crib and she quietly looked at me as I walked out, stopped at the door, told her I loved her one last time and wished her a good night.  I already can't wait for our quiet time in the morning.

Remembering what matters most...

Photo credit: Andree Mora (A Love of Light)

News

(if you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant or real emotional right now, skip this blog entry ;-) )

It is with a mixture of great sadness and pure joy that I write this.  Mom's body lost her battle with cancer though her spirit won the sweetest victory the morning of February 2nd.

She passed sweetly, softly and in the arms of her children.  We could not have been more blessed to have witnessed the spirit of this beautiful woman leave her body to take her rightful place in heaven as a child of God.  The best part was that was our fears of her discomfort and pain in her last hours were never realized. Mom was pain-free, comfortable and peaceful as she made her transition and that was a wonderful gift to her family.

I want to personally thank each and every one of you for the beautiful cards that you sent her and the powerful prayers that you sent up.  I want you to know that they were answered.  Mom is healed!  Perfectly and completely.  Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as those that are left behind embark on a new journey.

My mother was the nucleus of our family with a magnetism that will surely be seen in the coming days.  Everyone that she met became family.  As her kids, we were always slightly resentful of having to share her with so many people because, as you very well know, every child wants their mami to themselves.  However, we learned a lot about how to treat others, how to live life and what really matters.  I would like to think we radiate some of her light and goodness because of it. Due to her gravitational pull, mami is survived by a great number of people, not just blood relatives.  I cannot name them all and will not because it would be a great tragedy if I forget someone's name.

Again, thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  They were heard and they continue to sustain us as we mourn the homegoing of this wonderful woman.

Denial or Deliverance?

I had a little bit of time while waiting in line at the McDonald's drive thru (don't judge me! It was a bistro and I had a buffalo chicken sandwich and I didn't even eat the bread (no, I won't count the fries)!).  The phone decided it wasn't going to work so I thought it was a good time for me to do some contemplating.  I turned off the music and thought about all that's been going on lately.  The new job, the baby, my relationship with the man.  But mostly, I was in deep thought about my mami's illness and I wanted to have a conversation with God.  These words are a direct result of that conversation. I have been feeling bad that lately, I have been planning for the worst with regards to my mami (though somehow that still needs to be done.  Each and every one of us should have our affairs in order because it's not just the people with cancer that die).  I feel at peace.  And I feel as if maybe we have more time than I think.  That perhaps God will grant us that wish.  Dad decided to have a priest marry them since they never did the church thing.  This despite the fact that we were going to have a surprise party for mami on that day.  But, he wanted the wedding and I'm sure that's why mom is going along with it (for being almost 65, my mom is horribly practical and marriage is something that you must hear her speak of b/c I CANNOT do her logic justice).  I can't be mad though because hello? My sister and I were planning a surprise party that I am sure in part was for us.

I had all kinds of great and fabulous logic when I parked the truck but I don't recall what that was.  I went to see about her discharge during lunch but they were taking too long so I answered as many questions as possible, handled as many open issues as I could and went on my way back to the office. On the way to my car, I saw one of her friends heading in to the hospital.  She gave me a big hug and a ton of calming energy.  She smiled as she spoke and said not to worry that she was being prayed for (don't I know it?  My friends, friends friends, people I will probably never meet are praying for my mami and I am SO grateful).  She said that God can work miracles so, why not now?  She didn't say anything profound and did not mention anything I didn't already know deep down in my soul.  There's a calm right now.  And perhaps God is giving me that calm despite the circumstances not turning out the way I'd like.  But, I have learned (and re-learned over and over again) that we cannot give up the joy of now for the uncertainty of tomorrow.  In doing so, we miss the gift that we are so desperately afraid of losing.

A Chinese proverb states that an inch of time cannot be bought by an inch of gold. So why try?  It also cannot be bought with worry, fear, anger or sadness.  All I have is NOW.  All I will EVER have is now (thank you Eckhart Tolle).  This one moment is all I can claim.  I can't claim 5 p.m. or the weekend. I can only claim that which I am present in.  So, this is where I am at.

At the moment, I feel peace.  Calm.  A certain joy that I can neither explain nor decipher and which I won't try to.  I told The Man the other night that I don't feel that there's anything left unsaid between mami and I.  She is not a person that says I love you though, I will bet all the tea in China that the people that hear those words every day haven't been loved as well as I.  Mami is all about action and intent.  Words are nothing to her.  Action dictates how she responds.  I have sat with her on many occasions during chemo without saying a word.  Interjecting this thing or that over an 8 hour period. Being perfectly comfortable in the silence.  Because there is nothing left to be said.  She knows how much I adore her.  I know how devoted she is to me.  Our love is palpable and needs no words to describe it.  The things that I would want to say to her are not for today. I would want to have conversations with her as the frog princess grows, as  I come across an issue and need advice, etc.  I want her for the future.  For always (doesn't everyone feel like this about their mamis?).  So there's really no stress because we get back to the fact that all we have is today.  I wish all of my relationships were like that. Where we'd instinctively know that we'd NEVER do anything to hurt one another.  Where an apology is already on file if we ever should do so inadvertently. Where love is not doubted.  Where love is not questioned.  Where it is already a fact that we won't desert one another.  She has known that I'd be here for her since I was woven in her womb.  And in the same way, I feel like I've known that I would care for her always.  There's a comfort in that.  Not a burden, not an added stress.  But a genetic predisposition to simply do and be.

I do not know if I am diluting myself into thinking that mom will not pass in a short period of time.  I don't know if God is sending me this peace so that I can function day to day while the inevitable gets nearer.  I trust Him.  I am in love with the song No Matter What and these words sum things up for me especially: "I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, I trust You.  No matter what."

I am human, though, and will fall to stress at times.  But I pray that this feeling continues til the end of my days.  About this situation and everything else that arises in my life.  I plan on returning to the book The Power of Now so that I can have these principles reinforced.  And I will return to my bible.  I'm reading Job.  If it can happen to him, why not me?  I read about Elijah earlier today.  How he prayed for no rain and it did not rain for 3 and a half years.  I will pray.  For mom's health.  For God's will to be done.  He won't give me more than I can bear.  I am a witness to that statement.  I continue to be.  I am a witness to His power, His goodness and His grace.  I have His blessings.  And in all that I STILL forget that He's got me sometimes. I will try my best not to do that.

I looked at my mom today and, thinking in the car, I realized that it wasn't denial that I have been seeing in her eyes when we speak about her condition or about the fact that medically, we have no more options on medications, trials, surgeries or procedures.  What I have been seeing is deliverance.  And a level of faith I hope to get to some time real soon.  It starts now.

Thank you for your continued prayers and your words. God has sent each and every one of you into my life for a specific reason and He continues to move you to minister to me.  For that I am eternally grateful.  To Him for sending you and to you for listening to Him.

I need to go get some work done.  Because as we all know, life doesn't stop.

If I could leave you with one last thought: decide what's important to you, that which is most precious and divine, then devote sufficient time, energy and love to it so that there is room for nothing else.  Not regret, not pain, not what if's.  Because you won't get a do over and if time is a most precious gift, we shouldn't waste it on feelings that will take us away from enjoying it.

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