hiddenblessing

Finding one small blessing each day.

Blessings abound March 24, 2014

Filed under: Family — hiddenblessing @ 11:06 pm
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Today’s blessing is too good to not share. 

In early January, my fifty-something uncle, who is a runner, went out for his usual hour-long run.  This man is a RUNNER.  I mean a serious runner – one of those guys who gets stir-crazy if he doesn’t get a chance to run.  It’s his stress relief, his meditation.. just simply, it’s his way of life.  He runs like I write – he does it because something deep inside his soul needs it.

On that particular night, however, a horrible accident occurred.  He was waiting for a truck to pass a busy road in his metropolitan suburb, and the truck put its signal to turn.  It began the turn and my uncle began to cross.  What he never saw coming was the car that was directly behind the truck, and it hit him… full-on, at an estimated 40ish miles per hour.

The details don’t really matter so much as what happened to him.  He suffered serious, horrific injuries to his entire body.  Of the many, many injuries, he had two broken legs and a traumatic brain injury.  On that devastating night, I and a few family members drove the eight hour drive through the night to get to his bedside.  There’s no way to prepare oneself for that kind of accident happening to a loved one.  No way to prep your mind for what you might find when you arrive.  No way to “look on the bright side”, as I always do, except to continue to tell yourself “he’s alive, he’s alive, he’s alive.”  

Today – not quite twelve weeks later – I got some beautiful news.  Not only is he ALIVE, but today he was given clearance to bear weight, 100%, on both legs.  Less than ninety days ago, we didn’t even know if he would keep both legs… and today he is able to walk.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Thank you doctors, thank you nurses, thank you modern medical care.  Thank you for letting me live in a country with the best of the best, thank you for the hundreds of people praying for him, and very most of all, thank you, God.

We are so, so blessed.  

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Perspective February 28, 2013

Filed under: Family,Inspiration,Kindness — hiddenblessing @ 4:34 pm
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I have been thinking about perspective for some time now.

It started when I went to order a new pair of glasses. It was the most ridiculous purchase ever – I already had a perfectly acceptable pair that I just didn’t like. I was out shopping with E, who needed a new pair, and while I was waiting for him, I tried on a pair of frames. I fell instantly in love.

I thought about it for a few days and when I still just couldn’t quit thinking about them, I knew I had to have them. That’s my qualifier for any really selfish purchase…. IF I have the money and IF I still want them after walking away for a few days, I know it’s not a purchase I will regret. So I tapped into my private rainy-day-slush fund (ok, so tapped isn’t quite right, depleted might be a more accurate choice) and bought them for myself.

I waited and waited and waited for them to come in. It was going on the far end of the 7-10 business days the optical shop promised and I kept checking my phone… did they call yet? No? Ok. Thirty minutes later… did I miss a call? It was ridiculous. I knew it was ridiculous! But I was soooo excited for these glasses to come in. These glasses were going to be SO AMAZING and so cute and make me feel so happy!

I walked down to the cafeteria to get some lunch and I heard a voice call out my name. As I turned in response, I recognized that voice and inwardly sighed a bit. It was a woman I had worked with a year or two ago who had had cancer. She and I had gotten through all the employment-related mess that treatments and absences bring. Now, after all was said and done, whenever I saw her she emphatically wanted to hug me and talk.

I am a hugger. I really am. I am a big fan of hugging and showing those you care about that you care – it’s just that… in the cafeteria, everyone is watching. And when you are an HR girl, you just can’t quite be a huggy person. And especially not at work. With your employees. The next thing you know, someone’s claiming favoritism, or harassment or God-only knows what else. Plain and simple, it’s just not acceptable for an HR girl to be hugging. People don’t even like to be caught talking with HR people, let alone hug them by the salad bar.

So she calls my name and I sigh, because I know that today is going to be one of those big, public hug-days and I kind of wish I could’ve waited another 30 minutes to decide to walk to the cafeteria. But as I turn and catch a glimpse of her face, something stops me in my tracks. She just looks off.

“Hi,” I greet her as she comes up to me. I’m searching her face to see what’s going on. She offers me a weak smile and reaches out her arm into a half hug. I hug back.

“How are you doing?” she asks and I quickly mutter a dismissive reply, pushing her question away. Her face tells me this is no time for water-cooler chatter. She started to talk and then she choked on her words, breaking off into silence.

I took her back to my office where she sat down and told me that she had just gotten a call. When her doctor was doing some routine followup with her, he found a “suspicious” spot. A “suspicious” spot for a cancer survivor is not an ok thing to have. Suspicious means Danger!! Danger!!, and a much bigger-badder danger than it would mean for a non-cancer survivor.

She stared down at her knees and said softly and quietly, “I can’t do this again.”

So I did the only thing I could do; I pulled HER into a big hug, and I held her as she sobbed.

I don’t know what you say in those moments. So I didn’t say anything at all.

When she left my office a while later, and I ventured back down to the cafeteria to get my forgotten lunch, I thought about my call. Here I had been anxiously waiting for a call about a stupid pair of GLASSES… an idiotic, selfish, vain THING, a PURCHASE… and meanwhile, on the same floor in the same building, another girl was waiting for a call about whether her CANCER was back. We were both anxiously watching our phones; but from completely different angles.

Talk about putting things into perspective.

How much time do I really spend worrying about, thinking about, exerting precious time on… things that matter not one tiny little bit? When I sat on my laptop all last night working my SECOND job, as Little One watched repeated episodes of Dora and climbed into my lap and I got mad because he accidentally caused me to send an email to a whole contact list instead of one person… how ridiculous. How completely unimportant.

I need to readjust those new glasses of mine, and hope that I can keep some perspective on what’s really important.

It doesn’t matter whether you think life is half full, or half empty… it’s recognizing the precious gift of having a glass to begin with.

Cheers, my friends.

 

More than enough November 8, 2012

Filed under: Family,Inspiration,Kindness — hiddenblessing @ 4:59 pm
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At work lately I’ve been noticing all of these posters up for “angels” and giving trees.  I tried to be an “angel” one year for them, but my employer apparently only gives out whole lists for children as opposed to letting you buy a portion of the list.  So if a child wants pj’s, socks, cd’s, video games and tennis shoes, you either have to provide ALL or let someone else be their “angel”.  I think that’s rather silly, myself… wouldn’t some of their list be better than none?… but it’s what they’ve decided.  So I’m finding a different way to be helpful this year.

 

One of my favorite blogs, Momastery, has something they do every year called Holiday Hands.  This year, they have this down to a mad science!  They have a board, per se, of readers who are in need.  I read the initial requests on there this morning.  It was things like… a coat for my two year old.  A bed for my child.  Help with dental work.  Help paying off a funeral expense.  Gift cards for groceries.  And then, other readers sign up to provide these things.  It is BEAUTIFUL!  And amazing.  And what a wonderful, perfect way to help.  You can look through the requests, find one that touches your heart, and help.  Or maybe you are the one who needs some help.  You can put it out there.  It’s kind of like a Craigslist for kindness. 

 

Then later today, Glennon, the blog writer, posted a comment on Facebook about one woman who requested on the Helping Hands board that she needed clothes for a girl, size 2T.  And within MINUTES, something like twelve women responded that they had clothes and were going to send them.  The mom was crying – at the outpouring of love she was getting within MINUTES.  She actually turned AWAY people offering because there was more than enough.  This led to a bunch  of other moms posting in the comments that they had boy clothes size 4T if anyone wanted them, and someone saying they needed any boy clothes for ANY size under 3… and on and on and on.

 

It was like a giant list of friends, helping friends.  Because that’s really what life should be, isn’t it?  My Little One has gotten bigger and as he has, I’ve returned most of the items that were lovingly given to ME, and bagged up all the rest and sent them on to a younger, brand-new mom who’s just starting out.  Because I love her and she’s my friend.  And that’s what we do.  Sure, I could sell them at a second hand children’s store or a garage sale.  I could list them on Ebay and see what I get.  But really – I was a young, new mom once, who had a friend who packed up HER baby’s clothes and gave them to me… it’s all about sharing the love. 

 

There is more than enough to go around.  More than enough.

 

Love and blessings and peace to you today, my friends.

 

Our version of the Yaya Sisterhood September 23, 2012

Filed under: Family — hiddenblessing @ 8:25 am
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Fairies“>

Fairies by Flo’s shots 4 me (http://www.flickr.com/photos/florencia123/)

* * * *

I am a Yaya.  A princess Yaya, that is.  And oh, how I love this little tiny bit of (pretend, but very real in my heart) royalty.

Did you ever see that movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?  Here is a very brief summary:  there is a group of girls growing up in the 50’s who are best friends.  They have a secret club, as most little girls do at some point, and they name themselves the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. They sneak out late at night in their jammies, have a little bonfire, wear silly crowns and swear their loyalty to each other forever and ever.  Their friendship lasts into adulthood, and when of the Ya-Ya’s has relationship difficulties with her daughter, the remaining friends kidnap the adult daughter.  They sneak her away to the family cabin to try to get her to come to reason with her mom’s history and why she is the way she is.

That’s a terrible rendition, but it’s the core of the movie.  But here’s where it turns really fun… during the summer of 2002 after the movie came out, on some random weekend my extended family and I all sat on my grandmother’s patio talking.  Somehow the movie came up and someone decided it would be really fun if we had a Yaya weekend.  Somewhere where all the girls could get away – no husbands, no kids, and just be us for a weekend.  We would make fun drinks, get pedicures, swim, and basically just have a fun weekend together celebrating us. 

And so it was born.  On the weekend after Labor Day 2002, my aunt, mother, sister, grandmother and I gathered at my grandmother’s house.  We giggled and laughed and did no cooking.  We drank copious amounts of alcohol, swam at my great uncle’s home (he wasn’t allowed to join us except for one cocktail since we were, after all, using his pool), and waited for Saturday night.  And when Saturday night arrived, my grandmother pulled out beautiful crowns she had made for each of us.  We pulled chairs into a circle under the crabapple tree in the backyard, and we lit a bonfire.  And that’s where the real magic of Yaya began.

We had no idea, that first year, what a precious thing we were creating.  We had no idea how seriously we all would take Yaya, and how much it would grow and morph over the years.  But I will tell you this… there is nothing quite like the honesty and love and support you get from a group of women who love you.   Who have known you since you had buck teeth and skinned knees, and watched you dress up for prom.  Who kissed your newborn baby and comforted you when your marriage was falling apart.  There is very little in the world that is more beautiful than the night when one of the Yayas was seriously ill, and the other princesses drove over state lines, donned the crowns and snuck into the ICU late at night, to giggle and hug and love the sick princess.  Or the coronation of a baby Yaya, who was born much, much too early and had to become a Yaya right away. That baby Yaya is now a healthy, happy 9-year-old, and while I’m sure it very much has to do with the powers of modern medicine, there may be a little bit of Yaya magic sprinkled in there, too. 

In two weekends, the princesses and I will be coming together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Yaya.  Ten years.  It is staggering to me what has changed over those ten years.  I can’t begin to express the enormity of our losses, and the significance of our gains, in what life has dealt each of the princesses in the past ten years.

But one thing remains… we are still together.  We are still gathering to light that midnight bonfire.  To celebrate love and family and all the things that matter to each of us.

I am so honored, and blessed, to be a Yaya princess.

 

The white blouse September 15, 2012

Filed under: Family,Parenting,Teenager — hiddenblessing @ 1:09 pm
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Yesterday, my son texted me while I was out running errands.  His text said the following:

“Can u pls bring me a white shirt by 100”

So I responded back:

“For you?  Does it have to be new?”

No response. I have no idea what the boy wants… is this for a project?  Is it for him to wear?  No clue. I happened to be at Walmart when he texted me, so I picked up a $5 white t-shirt and bought it along with everything else.  He really doesn’t own any white t-shirts because my boys instantaneously stain white shirts within seconds of putting them on.

I drove to his middle school, the requested white shirt in a Walmart bag on the seat next to me.  Baby L and I were just going to run it inside and drop it off with the school secretary.  I glanced down at the white bag and I wondered for a moment if it would embarrass him for me to be bringing him a new t-shirt in a Walmart bag.

And the reason why this occurred to me is because my brain instantly jumped to a memory of myself, in high school.  In the small town I grew up in, there was this certain store that was VERY, VERY not cool.  In my high school, like most middle and high schools, what you wore was very important. There comes a time that Rustlers just aren’t going to cut it anymore in the social strata that is teenage life.  Of course, we grow up and pay mortgages and pediatrician bills and insane electric bills and suddenly that little label on our jeans isn’t QUITE as important.  But to a 13, 16, 18 year old… it is of immense importance.

It was almost time for the TWIRP, or Sadie Hawkins dance at our high school.  This is the dance where the girl asks the guy, instead of the other way around.  It’s not as formal as Prom, or Homecoming, but it’s still a dressy event.  I was talking with my grandmother about what I was going to wear and she looked over at me.

“You know, I was out shopping at UNCOOL STORE NAME, and they had these white, cotton blouses that were really pretty on clearance.  I think that if we washed and ironed one very carefully, it would be beautiful.  You could wear a black skirt and pearls.  I think it would be really classy.”

I’m quite sure my eyes bugged out of my head in horror at the notion.  For starters, my God, does she have any idea of the social suicide I would be creating if I wore something from UNCOOL STORE??  And to a DANCE?! It’s bad enough if you got caught wearing something from there to, say, GYM CLASS.  I can’t even carry a backpack from that store!  BUT TO A DANCE?!  AND CLEARANCE?!?!  That part alone is enough to make me want to retract my invite to that boy.  Forget it.  I feel the flu coming on.

She smiled at me, in that beautifully knowing way that she had.

“Will you please just try it for me?  I’ll do all the work for you.  If you don’t like it, I’ll take you shopping and we can find something else.  But really, I think that you will be beautiful and no one will know where it’s from.”

And so, against my hormone-fueled-teenage-not-so-better judgment, I agreed.  She went to the pariah store and bought me this white cotton blouse. It had flowy sleeves, a large ruffle that lined the deep v-neck front, and tiny pearl buttons (she might have added those buttons).  She found me a long black skirt with a small slit on one side that fit my sixteen-year-old figure perfectly.  She washed and starched and ironed this appalling shirt and invited me over to look at it (I wasn’t allowed to see it until she had worked her magic).  I grudgingly agreed the shirt was pretty… I guess it might work.  As a backup plan, I guess we could just stay at the hotel room we had all rented to party at.  I could always accidentally spill something on it, say, in the first ten minutes of leaving the house.  If I had to.  Then we’d be forced to avoid the dance, and the throngs of label-conscious snooty teenagers who might call me out in public as a WEARER OF UNCOOL CLOTHES.

And the night of the dance came.  As usually seemed to happen on big nights, we had family in from out of state and we were all at my grandmother’s house.  I went upstairs to get ready.  I put on my black pantyhose, my black fitted skirt, and hot rolled my hair. I lipsticked and mascara’ed and put on my drop pearl earrings.  And then I put on the blouse and turned to the girl in the mirror.

I looked… well… beautiful.  I looked grown up, and classy, and elegant.  I looked everything my grandmother had said I would and more.  I felt positively perfect in this outfit.  I couldn’t have found anything better if I had tried.

She was a smart woman, my grandmother.  She knew that it wasn’t about the label or the price or the store it came from.  She knew, with enough love and care, that I’d be beautiful in anything, if I could find within myself the self esteem to pull it off.

And really, isn’t that true with most things in life?

I so very much miss that wonderful, beautiful, elegant woman.  She was everything I hope to be.

Have a fabulous weekend, my friends.

 

My top five September 11, 2012

Filed under: Family,Kindness,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 10:32 pm
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I came across an article today that was titled Ten Things I Hate About Being A Dad. Ouch. I’m not sure I would ever want my children to have a list in hand of all the things I supposedly “hated” about being a parent. Talk about a guilt trip.

Now obviously, being a parent is not easy, by any means. It’s not even fun all the time. That includes me… there are nights, tonight happening to be one of them, that I am tired and grumpy and less than the mama I’d like to imagine myself. At one point, B and I were arguing like mad and at another, a saleslady in a store we were at was trying to bribe my children with candy because quite frankly, it was total mayhem and the line was ridiculous. But even so, I still love it. Even when it’s ugly and hard and infuriating and I’d really just like to hide away with a glass of wine and earplugs.

Now that my kids are in bed and my blood pressure has returned to a relatively normal level, I want to add my two cents about that Top Ten. Here are the top five things that I LOVE MOST about being a mom.

1. Walking through grocery stores with Baby L. I’m not talking about Walmart, mind you. We already know how that goes. But I’m talking the better moments… the ones where he insists on wearing his cowboy boots and Superman cape. The ones where he says “hi” to every man and woman over the age of sixty, and he wants to talk to every “friend” who is under three feet tall. Where the grandmas smile at me, and him, and I pray that I remember these moments and are not TOO jealous when I don’t have a small, fuzzy-headed baby whose legs pull up and his bottom sticks out when I pick him up. He doesn’t actually do that anymore, and I already miss it a little bit. Thank God he’s still tiny enough to let me kiss his squishy cheeks whenever I want to. But that pride I feel, that love that swallows me up, when I am out and about with a happy baby.

2. Holidays. There is so much magic in celebrating holidays with children. Now make no mistake, grown-up holidays are fun, too. I absolutely love long, leisurely dinners filled with wine and celebration with friends and family. But I love the magic that reflects in my children’s eyes even more. I love everything about it… the dyeing of Easter eggs, the messy carving of pumpkins. Mailing off lists to Santa and grinning at the explosion of wrapping paper that has engulfed my living room after presents have been opened. Making cookies that I know will be eaten almost as quickly as I can get them out of the oven. The shock and awe at the possible sighting of the sleigh in the sky and the way they squish their eyes closed to wish for sleep to come THAT VERY SECOND BECAUSE WHAT IF SANTA IS REALLY, REALLY CLOSE??? Reading “The Night Before Christmas.” I love the holidays.

3. Getting woken up in the night. Now bear with me here… I’m not saying that I love it for the sake of being woken up. But I love that my sleepy B still comes crawling into my bed and snuggles right up to me when he can’t sleep or has had a bad dream. I love the way his eyes are puffy and they roll back in happiness when I run my fingers through his hair. I love that he tells me more about his life in the middle of the night than any other time, and I love the way he yells random things in his sleep. I love that Baby L still sleeps with his butt in the air and cries out for me in the middle of the night because he wants his sippy cup refilled with water. I look at E and I already miss this. Every once in a great, great while he will watch a scary movie and come wake me up to talk to me about it. And I am absolutely ok with that…. it’s so rare now. I have to cherish the few times it does happen.

4. Activities. I think about all of the things that I can do without any concern for what anyone else thinks, purely because I have children with me. Disney movies? Absolutely. If I didn’t have the boys, I’m pretty sure I’d be a little self-conscious renting The Lorax. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t even know what The Lorax was. Think of all the movies I would have missed if I didn’t have them… Up. Shrek. Tangled. Rio. We go to the pool all the time, and even if I would rather NOT be wearing a swimsuit in public, when your boy begs you to go down the “toilet bowl” water slide with him… YOU DO IT. I can say with almost 100% certainty that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have kids. Going to carnivals. Pumpkin patches. Kite flying. Cheering like a crazy girl at the parade because it’s my children’s buddies out there marching and doing cartwheels in the street. Watching baseball and soccer games, sitting for hours at swim meets. Yes, we are busy. Too busy. But if I had a choice between being a mama and camping in 100 degree heat with a group of Boy Scouts, or being at home, alone, with an armful of books and a cup of tea, I would still choose to be a mama. I’ve got years to read and drink tea. I’ve got only a few to camp with Boy Scouts.

But number 5 has to take the cake. The number one thing I love most about being a mama is nearly impossible to put into words. It’s the way it makes me FEEL to know that these beautiful children are mine. That it is my responsibility, and duty, and the biggest blessing imaginable, to have been given these children to nurture. I love the sheer joy that caring for these sweet boys has brought me. I love the pride that fills up within me, and sometimes spills over and down my cheeks, and the gut-wrenching devotion they inspire in me. The raw, pure, fierce desire to protect and cherish and honor and love these human beings.

Goodnight, my friends. Sweet dreams.

 

Out of the mouths of babes August 1, 2012

Filed under: Family,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 2:13 pm
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Last night, B slept with me.  I love that little boy something fierce, and it’s especially fun to cuddle and chat before he goes to sleep.  He likes to talk about all sorts of deep things when it’s bedtime.  Like bullies, or angels, or arguing with friends.  Last night, though, he was super tired and he fell asleep almost immediately.  But true to form, he kicked and tossed and TALKED, loudly, all night long.  He was clearly playing Minecraft, one of the boys’ current Xbox favorites.  At one point, he shouts “HEY!  Who’s THAT?!”  To which, I of course sit up immediately to figure out what he’s yelling about.

“In the watchtower!”  Oh, the watchtower.  I guess since there are no watchtowers in my home, it’s safe to assume he’s dreaming.

He continues on.

“Oh….  Ok….  Did you get them?”  If I didn’t know better, I would have thought he had his headset on and was actually playing online with someone.  But no, he was just dreaming.  He “talked” to his friend Tyler, he mumbled incoherently, he played a little more Xbox… it woke me up continuously, but it was still cute to hear him.

When I woke him up this morning, he said “Mom, I had the best dream!”

Me:  “Did you? Tell me all about it.”

B:  “Well, first I was playing Xbox with Hannah.  And then I got to have a sleepover with Adam.  And then we went to the store and got to buy a (insert something here).”

Me:  “That’s awesome!  I love when I have great dreams like that.  I knew you were playing Xbox, because you talked all night long in your sleep.”

B:  “I did?!”

Me:  “Yes!  You were talking about Tyler, and Minecraft and all kinds of other stuff I couldn’t understand.”

B:  “Did it make you mad?”

Me:  “No, not at all!  I love hearing you talk.”

B:  “Well, that will sure be embarrassing when I’m a teenager.”

Me:  “Talking in your sleep?  Why?”

B:  “You know, like when I have a girlfriend, and I am sleeping with her.”

Um… say what?!