All up in my feelings

This has always been a tough week for me. My mother’s birthday and Mother’s Day AND Nurses Day/Week all fall in one big clump. Even when she was alive, it was a minefield. There are no cards that say “Thanks for trying to be a good mom… I love you anyway.”

Circa 1973?

My mother struggled with mental illness her whole life. She was smart, sarcastic and a very talented nurse, so she was also good at masking her issues, until she couldn’t. She wasn’t all bad by any means, but her need to deny her challenges existed only made it harder on everyone. And the first part of May demands that I reflect and remember, whether I want to or not, whether it is convenient or not.

Here’s what I do know, and can celebrate:

  • My mother had a servant’s heart. She was a scout leader at least two different times in her life, she and my father ran the church youth group, she served on the altar guild at multiple churches, and she was her best self as a nurse. I am grateful for her example of servant leadership.
  • My mother was playful. My fondest memories are of playing in a creek, making snow angels, snowball fights, playing with puppies…
  • My mother was a voracious reader and made sure I learned to read early and often.
  • My mother was a gifted story-teller. When it was a personalized, crafted on the fly bedtime story, that was a good, loving thing.
  • My mother loved animals, and helped me remain a dog lover, despite several unfortunate encounters in my early childhood.
  • My mother was smart. Above-average intelligence was baseline, and I am still learning how far ahead of the curve she and so many people around me were.
  • My mother loved music, and cultivated the same in me. From Ella Fitzgerald to John Denver, she made sure I understood good music came in many forms.
  • My mother liked crafts. I remember macrame and latch hook, but she also taught me just about every type of embroidery there is. She didn’t knit, but she learned to crochet late in life. She wasn’t a great seamstress, but she was better with a sewing machine than I am.

We didn’t have a conventional relationship, but I do have fond memories. As time passes, I find myself remembering more of the good and less of the rest.

I wish those of you celebrating a Happy Mother’s Day, and for the rest of us, I hope for a pleasant day without drama.

Essential Services

The firefighter I used to be laughed at automotive services being declared essential services. Yes, we are the contracted vehicle maintenance shop for the University and some local police, fire and rescue units, but then yesterday, two doctors thanked us for being open because they too need to remain mobile.

This is not a time for judgment. I’d argue it’s never wise to judge, but that’s another story for another time. There are plenty of folks talking about what you should and shouldn’t do, and I’m not an expert, so…

What is essential? Good food. Exercise. Fresh air. Staying connected. I’m grateful my tribe filled my voids; I now have rice, broccoli and ground beef. I also found a silly, wonderful peanut butter whiskey (see my Facebook or Instagram) and crafted what I’m calling Eggs Benny-ish.

I love eggs Benedict. I bought The Pampered Chef stoneware egg pan just to do poached eggs. This morning, I felt the urge to break it in, but alas, no English Muffins, no Canadian Bacon. I rarely follow a recipe as written, so…

Eggs cooked per instructions ( 80 seconds on high in microwave). Biscuits split, covered with cheddar and deli ham, then put back in the warm (but turned off) oven whilst whipping up the hollandaise sauce. Eggs added on top, sauce slopped on and… yum.

How goes it where you are? What can we do to help?

Gretchen wants it known she had her teeth brushed today. She didn’t fight me nearly as much as I anticipated. We will be doing it at least once weekly from here on out, more often if I can figure out the routine.

Resilient

I believe in the power of words. As a very wise friend explained it to her young daughter (said girl had just hurled mean insults at her sister and obediently offered a “sorry” of barely sincere proportions) so very well… words slide so easily out of our mouths, but stay out there in the universe forever, and may stay in other people’s memories that long too. There are many cases for the power of affirmations and positive thinking, but that simple explanation offered ancedotally has stuck with me for years. (The insulter is now a mom herself.)

My friend Sarah may not have been the first to introduce me to the idea of a word for the year, but as with the blogless friend referenced above, she’s the one who made it stick for me. (Erin McDermott offers a discounted “word” piece of jewelry every year, and I’ve had a necklace for years, and took it as a sign I’d picked the wrong word when a bracelet disappeared from my wrist a few years ago.) Some years, the word comes easily, and some years (the Gaelic word on the bracelet that vanished), I have to dig and scrape and it just doesn’t fit. Still other times, I’ve claimed a word as my own mid-year, because I’m not really much on the whole “New Year, New You” thing.

(Personal growth and such is why we’re here, in my opinion. We are here to become the best versions of ourselves, and if we’re lucky, we might inspire a few other folks along the way, or lighten a load, make a difference, etc.)

This year, I backed into “resilient” almost accidentally. Before I saw Sarah’s post, I’d seen the My Intent “What’s Your Word” quiz, but didn’t click through, and another friend posted her word and the Day Spring word finder. (I got “Stand” and was almost offended; I’m not feeling as though this is a stand my ground kind of year, or stand still phase or… but then I realized one can also stand tall, stand in the gap…)

Long story short, “resilient”came to me via the My Intent quiz. I ended with “empowerment” which always speaks to me, but still wasn’t just right. Luckily, the good folks at My Intent do a little synonym block, and there was resilience, waiting for me.

Google’s dictionary says:

re·sil·ient/rəˈzilyənt/adjective: resilient

  1. 1.(of a person or animal) able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.”babies are generally far more resilient than new parents realize” Similar: strong tough hardy quick to recover quick to bounce back buoyant difficult to keep down irrepressible adaptable flexible Opposite: vulnerable sensitive
  2. 2.(of a substance or object) able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.”a shoe with resilient cushioning” Similar: flexible pliable pliant supple plastic elastic springy

All of that resonates, deeply. I do hope I am capable of being vulnerable and sensitive, but otherwise, THIS. IS. WHAT. I. CLAIM.

I am going to live this year, this phase of my life, with resilience. I had a long run of cocooning myself, maybe even losing myself, and I have had a couple of years of opening my eyes wide and embracing change. If life is like a heavy squat, my very strong legs and glutes are ready to propel me back up!

… because that’s how springs and recoil work, right? Once a spring is compressed as much as is possible, it RECOILS with great force and energy transfer happens.

Do you have a word? If so, I’d love to know what it is and/or how you landed on it.