There Is No Stopping Me

Guys-
Last week — September 14th to be exact — was my mom’s 75th birthday. I have not been shy here on the blog in letting you know that she is fighting stage 4 cancer and just recently completed a chemo regimen. I’ve also mentioned that I have in the last year embraced poetry as a creative outlet.

Well, today I am sharing a poem I wrote to honor my wonderful mom on her day last week. Her strength, resilience and fight truly inspire me. She is the reason I do what I do and this poem is my tribute to her on this landmark birthday. I love you, Mom!

XOXO, Elaine

poem-recovered_page_1


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!

For My Birthday: Love, Acceptance and a Little Cloudy Bay

yogaDear Friends-

Sometimes coincidences are not so coincidental.

Just as I was walking into my morning yoga class today, a fellow special needs mom/warrior friend forwarded a blog post instructing, “YOU MUST READ THIS!” So I did, and in a matter of minutes, I had tears streaming down my face.

In this post, a beautiful, courageous woman named Prima wrote of her experiences as the mother of an eleven-year-old autistic son. Her words struck me and this passage inspired me:

We have difficult days, sometimes weeks. I purposely choose not to talk about the difficult moments, because I am a “glass half full” kind of gal. I try my best to remain focused on the positive things in life; however, difficult moments do manage to come my way. All the time. Usually after a long and difficult week, my faith in everything I do is put to the test. Every time I am faced with one of life’s many obstacles, I can’t help but wonder if everything we do is worth it, if all the sacrifices will lead to the ultimate goal. And then I reflect; I think about the bigger picture and realize that, when things fall apart, it is simply part of the healing process.

After reading it, I quickly scooted into my yoga class, the instructor glancing as I wiped tears from my face. Crap, she knows I’m not at peace right now.

Now, I like to act like I have my shit together at yoga with my ‘I can be Buddha too’ mindset. But then karma pays a visit and you find yourself walking into yoga class crying. I know the whole point is acceptance, even if you aren’t sitting under a Bodhi tree, but we westerners just can’t help ourselves with our perfectionism. You know it’s bad when you’re practicing perfection at yoga — I’ve got real issues, don’t I?

After the warm up poses, the teacher said, “Okay, I want to set an intention for our class today. I want you all to think about acceptance, releasing all expectations and self-love.” I could have sworn she gave me a quick nod. She’s onto me!

Well, after this second coincidence, I began to rethink by birthday message, and rather than offer you some high and mighty advice in a listicle about what I think I know and have learned over the past year, I thought: what if I just told the truth?

And the truth is, I’ve been feeling like shit lately. (THAT felt good!) And, instead of pretending to have it all together, I reasoned, I need to love and accept where I am right now and have faith that my pain is all a part of the process of growing, healing and becoming stronger.

This advice has been extremely hard to follow because I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions, and I’m struggling to figure out exactly why. For many of us the long, lazy, easy days of summer are a welcome, long overdue break, but for some of us, the change in scheduling proves more challenging.

The summer season is always harder for my daughter, Marlie. She becomes more anxious and frustrated, and her challenges become more evident. Somehow when you throw out the disciplined daily routines, her everyday vulnerabilities come to light. I see, feel and hear her frustrations and fears and they absorb into every molecule of my being. All I want to do is help my baby, but at times, there is nothing I can do.

I feel helpless, scared and quite frankly, exhausted. I often find myself emotionally stuck in that dangerous place between what it is and what I wish it could be. I’m desperately crawling my way back towards the present and doing all I can to find acceptance, love and peace there.

Every single day is a test for me to stay in the now — embracing her right where she is, not wishing or thinking it could be different, but knowing that this is her miraculous journey, her one of a kind story and to celebrate it for its truth, authenticity, and hope.

Like Prima, I consider myself a “glass half full type of gal.” But lately I’ve let my emotions get the best of me. On one hand, you want to trust them because it they feel so real, so raw, so true, but on the other hand, a deeper, more knowing part senses they are visiting acquaintances that do not have any real, sustained interest in my long term well being.

There is an old quote which states, “Feel what you feel and do not deny your truth.” But if I feel like shit, what then?

Inevitably, the cesspool of negative emotion leads to a feeling of guilt that I am even feeling what I am feeling in the first place. Oh the joys of being a woman — guilt mixed in with anger can be a lethal combination. Cue Maleficent. If I show up for work wearing a pair of black leather horns, its official – I’m a goner.

Put simply, I’m just not sure there are clear answers to experiencing pain and complex, difficult emotions. I do know that a certain amount of self-love and acceptance about where you are is a good thing. I guess I just keep telling myself that there are no skipped steps and I need to feel what I feel, to roll around in it, so to speak, to get to higher ground.

But now I sense a need to lay down my sword in search for peace, solitude and healing. Perhaps this is my soul’s way of communicating to me. Maybe it’s a primal message sent to ensure my survival that I am to stop, listen and just be.

I have come to the conclusion that I am going to pledge to love and accept myself on this 11th day of August celebrating my 46th year of life on Earth. (Forty-six, meh…I’m still trying to get on board with this one.) I accept this temporary dip in emotional health as just another step toward becoming a better, stronger version of myself. And as Prima states,

For the healing to happen, you need to leave room for all of it: for the grief, the pain, the tears, the anger.

Well, I can safely say I’ve left room for all of the above to fully manifest, and I do feel the healing has begun. Thanks to Prima for her brave, heartfelt post, to my yoga teacher for her encouraging intention, and to Cloudy Bay, my favorite Sauvignon Blanc for its soothing powers. I am now in a much better place 😉

marlieI’ll leave you with this picture of Marlie at Space Center Houston. She loved being there and when I asked why she said, “Because I want to be an astronaut and go far, far away and visit aliens.”

Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. If healing, self-love and acceptance aren’t your thing, then escaping to another planet can always be an option. You gotta’ love her.

Happy Birthday to Me!

XOXO, Elaine


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!

To Infinity and Beyond

So… It’s Fathers Day today, and I have been reflecting on fatherhood and the role fathers play in our lives.

For many women, the fatherhood role can be complicated. It imprints us at such a young age. In essence, our fathers are our first loves. Their actions, their words, their every move can shape our self-worth and how we see ourselves in relation to men. A healthy father-daughter dynamic can be vital in building successful male/female relationships in the future.

I was very fortunate to grow up with an incredible father. He was full of optimism, joy and humor. He eanddadmade us all laugh and created levity in our family. We soaked it up. He was my first true love. I learned from him how to treat and respect women by watching him interact with my mother. This was essential to my further growth and development of finding a mate and falling in love. I know, for me, I had such high expectations of the man I would be with because my father set the bar extremely high. As I look back and reflect, I probably had some issues early on with men because I subconsciously compared them to my dad. This was not fair or realistic, but it’s a natural response when you are raised by a larger than life father who adores you to the moon and back.

One of my all-time favorite books is The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Her father-daughter story resonated deeply with me. I got it. She was forever grasped by the adoration of her father. She so keenly states: 

He defined me first, as parents do. Those early characterizations can become the shimmering self-image we embrace or the limited, stifling perception we rail against for a lifetime. In my case, he sees me as I would like to be seen. In fact, I’m not even sure what’s true about me, since I have always chosen to believe his version.” 
― Kelly CorriganThe Middle Place

There have been a couple of episodes in my life lately that have furthered my reflection on fatherhood. I recently had lunch with a good friend. She lost her father at the vulnerable age of 12. He suddenly died of a heart attack. She was courageously talking about the impact that event had on her and her words significantly impacted me.

She revealed to me that losing her father at such a young age did, in fact, create issues in her young adult life with men. While in college, she was seeking out men’s approval and validation and she looks back on that time with some regret, but she also seems to truly understand why. She went on to tell me that when young girls lose their fathers, many times the community automatically supports the boy in the family. She recognizes this is not done intentionally or with ill will. Its just a fact. It’s more natural for the men to support a young boy by becoming a surrogate father to a him — taking him to games, coaching his little league teams, etc. I think there is an assumption that a young girl that still has her mother will be fine. But in reality — she’s not fine.

I thought about what she was telling me and it made so much sense. The natural development of her father-daughter model was tragically halted. There she was a 12 year old little girl — fatherless, with a hole that cannot be filled. But, through a lot of self-work and introspection over the years, she created a healthy, happy relationship with her husband. And today they are happily married and parents to two beautiful children. The take away for me is even when your circumstances are not ideal, you can still create the life you want. And for my friend, she was determined to get it right and create a beautiful relationship. She decided: I’m responsible for my own life. I can manifest a different story. And she did — AMEN.

This story gave me perspective. I thought about my own daughter, Marlie and her relationship with her father. Obviously, she does not have perspective yet, but one day in the not so distant future she will realize how incredibly lucky she is to have a dad like Jim. He adores her. He always has. They have a special bond that is irreplaceable. For as long as I can remember, Marlie and her dad have this “thing.” You know, that “thing” that you cannot put into words. It’s like they were meant to be together in this life. They share a natural, undeniable connection.

M&JWhen Marlie was a toddler, I would try too hard. I was desperately trying to tap into their frequency, their vibration — their “thing.” But, then I realized, it wasn’t for me to interrupt. I slowly began to see it for what it is, a gift. As I started to see it through a new lens, my natural connection to Marlie deepened and grew. As she got older, she naturally needed her mama, and her mama naturally needed her. I was always there waiting for her — waiting to receive her fully with no conditions — arms open, heart full. She has special needs and was born with a mother and father who embrace her right where she is — no expectations for more or something different, but rather, total unconditional acceptance for what is.

There is nothing more liberating than being loved for exactly who you are. Jim recently took this selfie of them on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride at Disneyland. After looking at it, I thought what a lucky girl she is — being cradled by her dad who wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world than on the Buzz Lightyear ride at Disneyland with his 11 year old, beautiful daughter, Marlie.

It’s a love felt “to infinity and beyond!”

(Thanks for the great line, Buzz!)

Elaine


P.S. If you enjoyed this post, I’d be thrilled if you’d share it. And don’t forget to follow and subscribe to Join the Collective!