C is for Courage

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Reality knocked on my door in a big way this summer when I got a call about a friend from college. We lived on the same hall freshman year, pledged together, gained the “freshman fifteen” together and, though our lives took us in different directions, we always were connected. She had just received the news that she been diagnosed with breast cancer and had made the brave decision to have a double mastectomy. Shock, fear, heartbreak, tears all came at once. She, on the other hand was composed and strong stating that she would be fine, that they had found it early and the prognosis was good. Most importantly, she let me know that it would not define her. She was consoling me, telling me that she would be fine. Right then, listening to her soft, reassuring voice I understood the true meaning of courage.

It is doing something afraid. My beautiful friend is doing that every day and that’s not easy. But no one ever said that it would be and so we are left with the opportunity to choose our path and either smile as we walk over the rocks and stumps that are in our way or complain about what is under our feet.

Courage is an extraordinary quality, but I have found that it also exists in the ordinary of everyday life. It’s not only for those who risk their life in seemly no win situations, it’s also just getting up in the morning and making the coffee and having hope for a better today. Continue reading

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The Value of Losing

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“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.” – Wilma Rudolph

Children are learning, at a very early age, that winning is everything. That if you don’t win the game, the match, the meet, that somehow you are less of a person than you were before. Those ninety minutes of their lives (by some people’s standards) define who they are and what they will become.

There is always a winner and a loser, that’s just a fact. But I think how you act when you are defeated more so defines who you are than when you are celebrating your victories. Anyone can jump on that winning train. When you’re feeling good and at the top of your game, when you are getting high fives and pats on the back and your head is held high and your smile is bright, that’s the easy part.

But when the numbers aren’t in your favor and the self- pity and guilt begin to settle in, that’s the defining moment, where you choose between hanging your head or holding it high. That’s where your true character shows through. Continue reading

How Don Henley, Bain de Soleil and Agree Shampoo Saved My Summer

Boys-Of-Summer

 

The past few months I’ve thought a lot about the summers before I headed off to college. I didn’t have a care in the world as I sat on the beach at the water’s edge, allowing the cool ocean to run over my perfectly painted toes. Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” played in the background, making me dream of summer romances and moonlit nights.

It’s funny how a song or a smell can take you back to a moment in time that occurred so long ago. Don Henley, Bain de Sole, and Agree shampoo all bring me back to my summers by the shore. Lazy summer days and nights filled with parties under a gleaming moon, the popping sounds of cold beers being opened and the hopes of meeting a summer crush loomed in the air. The waves, crashing on the shore, provided the perfect background sound for those dreamy summer nights. I wish I had paid more attention to the beautiful moons that illuminated the beach and the soothing sounds of the surf, but that’s what getting older gives you…very different perspectives. Continue reading

A Little Girl Named Ib

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It all started with an email asking for prayers for a sick little girl. Never did I expect the impact this sweet child would make on my life and the life of my family.

Isabella was four when I received an email from a friend asking me to pray for a little girl who had been living with Neuroblastoma for two years. She had beaten many an odd and now was battling another relapse. The email directed me to a CaringBridge website that told the story of a child who was diagnosed with this wretched disease at age two and had been fighting it with all of the strength that a two year old possessed.

The pictures showed a spirited child with short, auburn hair and clear blue eyes that told you she was well beyond her years. Happiness flowed from her very being; you felt it looking at her. Though Isabella was so very sick you could see she would not let it get her down. This amazed me, with the odds stacked against her she was determined to win this uphill battle and do it with the grace and perseverance that most adults don’t possess. I was in, right away she got to me and I was going to be part of the army that was fighting for this little girl’s life. Continue reading

Finding Peace

 

Peace at the beach

I am scared a lot. I never let people think that I am because that would mean that I am weak and vulnerable and, well, that’s hard to admit. It’s hard to lament about your own situation when, one, you know so many whose problems are worse than your own and two, no one wants to hear you complain anyway. Being asked “how was your day” is not an open invite to dump about how all the kids do is fight and how work is crazy nuts and your are exhausted and just barely hanging on because chances are they are too. Continue reading

12 Things I know to be True

For Boston

For Boston

**I had posted this just a few months ago when the tragedy in Newtown, CT occurred. I wanted to share it again because I still see these things to be true.

In this time of immense sorrow and despair and mourning, all seems to be lost, again. In the blink of eye families, a community and a nation were shattered. Through our tears we try to make sense of a senseless act. We question all that we know to be true and right and just. But, in the midst of this tremendous pain, I dare to hope because, after much thought and prayer I have found 12 things that I know to be true.

1. Yes, there are bad people in this world but I know in my heart that most are inherently good. This tends to be highlighted in the face of adversity, when we band together to come to the aid of those that are hurting. Goodness is always there, just waiting to be released.

2. Forgiveness is necessary to heal. It can be the most difficult thing that someone can do, to forgive someone who has wronged them. But holding onto hate eats away at your spirit.

3. Tears are freeing, just like laughter, and necessary in order to move forward.

4. Prayer, falling down on our knees and lifting our hands to the heavens, allows us to be weak and vulnerable. Thus enabling God to come in and show us His amazing grace.

5. Pointing fingers and casting blame is a waste of time. Coming together makes us an impenetrable force to be reckoned with.

6. Love out loud. Make sure that you never hold it back.

7. Wanting to turn the news off and The Voice on should not make you feel guilty. It should make you feel human.

8. Sometimes a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a good friend is the best medicine.

9. Do not live in fear because then it wins.

10. There is great love and compassion in this world, open your eyes and see it and be a part of it.

11. Good always triumphs over evil.

12. Our faith and hope and love allow us to shine brightly and, in our darkest hour when all seems lost, we will be the light that overcomes the darkness.

XOXO

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In Search of Numen Lumen

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At forty I still feel young, especially when I’m with my college girlfriends. Age and time seem to fade and it’s just like when we were back under the oaks, listening to the Indigo Girls and drinking cold beer under a Carolina blue sky. I long for those days again, when life was simple and major decisions had nothing to do with houses and children and 401K’s. When the biggest crisis was who you were asking to the grab-a-date or finding where you left your bike the night before. It was a time when it was ok and almost expected to be a bit foggy at 11am and when everyone who depended on you was always a bit foggy too.

But time passes and life throws curves and rocks at you, you fall in and out of love and you find what matters most, all while amassing an adult life that you thought that you were supposed to have and aren’t sure that you really want. And with that brings problems and crisis and you find that your family and friends are real people with real problems, not the fairytale figures you created them to be in your youth.

People disappoint you and surprise you and horrify you and you realize that you are grown up and have to be strong because being weak is not an option. Yes, you may have moments of weakness but they can’t last because you have others who depend on your strength so that they may live their own lives and figure out this cycle for themselves. You see people who cannot be strong so you try to give them your strength to get them through and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
And a lot of times all you can do is hope for the best and pray. Pray that this too shall pass and all will work out for the common good and a million other clichés that I can’t even think of right now. Some rally to help and others are just too busy, too tired and too mired down in their own “stuff” that they just don’t realize that their strength is needed. And that’s the way life is.

It’s exhausting really, this whole getting older thing. How is it possible I went from eighteen to forty in the blink of an eye? A wife, a mother, three kids and a frog. A mortgage, tuition, bills, work. Those days under the Carolina blue skies seem so far away and lately I find myself longing for them. I feel a little guilty for wishing myself away from a man and a family that I love so dearly. But I think that we tend to feel like we are a little invisible at this stage in the game, that our value is measured in our ability to do laundry and make lunches and put together projects rather than what (and who) we truly are.

I had quite the blow out with my nine-year-old son the other day; it was about something silly, like picking up his belt off the floor. He told me that I was the worst in the world, that I was no fun and all I did was tell him what to do. Well, instead of walking away I turned right around and proceeded to tell him that I was fun and cool and that people (outside of this house) really like me. I told him I was talented and was capable of doing things besides laundry and dishes. Had I taken a moment to breathe, I would have realized I lost him at “fun” and “cool”. Right then I looked pretty crazy, even to myself.

But in that moment I longed to be the person that I was, the person that I felt that I had lost and could only get back by returning to my beloved college days, sheltered by the oaks and my memories.

This place and these days were filled with light and laughter and, though we didn’t know it then, peace. Funny that our university motto was “Numen Lumen.” At the time I had no clue what it meant but thought it was funny to say, even funnier after a few Busch Lights. After looking up the meaning I was a bit in awe of what I found.

“Numen Lumen- If you were an ancient Roman, and you went up a hill or down into a hollow, and you felt something holy or scary or beautiful, you would say that you were sensing the “numen” of the place. So “numen” means some sort of indwelling of God. “Numen lumen” is saying that the Divine is the guiding Light.”

What I took from this explanation was that I was a part of heaven, for just a little while. Now some are going to say that its blasphemy to say that college life and all that goes with it is far from holy and they may be right. But for me and many of my friends it was where we really began. It was light and love and peace. It was where we figured out how to show up for each other. Yes, we were carefree and a little reckless at times but we were also figuring out how to get out into the world and fend for ourselves while watching out for each other.

Now, no one who went to Elon College (now Elon University) is going to liken it to the big bad world but it was our first experience away from the shelter of our home and our parents. It was where we learned that family is not only defined by blood.

The reality is, I cannot go back and when I try it’s never the same but I can still feel the beauty of that time. I still have moments when I long to return and sometimes I do. When the sky in Virginia turns Carolina blue and my kids catch me staring up for just a moment too long and ask “what are you doing?” I just smile and look at them and say “Numen Lumen.”

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