Monthly Archives: December 2011

Speaking the Reason for the Season…


“Jesus is the reason for the season” ~

I just googled that phrase and this was the result:

  1. WEB:  About 2,990,000 results (0.15 seconds)
  2. IMAGES:   About 25,200,000 results (0.27 seconds)

Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to pull in one of these 25 million or so images into this post.  Maybe I should go with the Santa suit hanging on the cross?  Brrr gives me the shivers to think that someone thought of that and actually released it on the internets.  That is definitely a good thing.  I’m guessing that at this rate, I’ll never find out who coined that phrase or how it originated; but I can tell you one definite thing.  I hate this sentence.  It’s over used as evidenced by this one, single google search at 8:26 in the morning.  I was never a fan of cliches, and this one in particular.  The rhyming sound of it sounds so cheesy to me.  reason for the season… reason for the season… reason for the season   Great marketing?  Hardly.

I guess we all need our little catch phrases, but I’m coming to believe more and more that using these “fun” phrases is just a way to avoid speaking the beautiful words that can be used instead and I’m not really talking about “Merry Christmas,” though I do like that and “Happy Christmas” is another one I like because it’s different.  Of what I’m really speaking about are the beautiful words that come from our faith.  I’m finding that we avoid using them because we are uncomfortable saying them.  Not all of us are uncomfortable, though.  The most beautiful people in the world go around saying stuff like, “May God bless you” or “I’ll pray for you,” and really mean it.  Those beautiful words just roll off their tongues and it sounds so natural.  After you shake off the shock of hearing it, you realize that you are touched by hearing words of love and caring, yet we hesitate to use them ourselves.

I guess I should interject here that I’m talking from my own experience, but believe that I’m not the only one with these experiences.  IN my own experience, my very first recollection is feeling awkward and embarrassed if someone said something, anything socially having to do with religion to me.  Maybe I too desperately wanted to appear “cool” at a time when I so obviously wasn’t.  Maybe I was just uncomfortable expressing ANY greeting at all?   Anyway, so hearing religious Christmas greetings like wishing people love, joy and peace in the same sentence, verbally, was awkward.  If we never hear these words, we will never use these words, or be comfortable around them.

When I started to practice my faith, I came to know people who openly praised God and regularly said, what I’ll call, “religious” words like God, Jesus, bless, praise God and the list goes on.  At first, I was uncomfortable but as time went by, I grew more comfortable and eventually started expressing myself in the same way…. but only at church.  Little by little, I got comfortable using these words to help express myself in other, outside church social settings… and it felt good.  First, we need to surround ourselves with like people of faith, it’s community we all hunger for.   They are people with whom we can comfortably practice our faith openly.

hol·i·day/ˈhäliˌdā/

Noun:
A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.

In these days of political correctness, somewhere along the line we stopped being comfortable being ourselves, at least in public, outside our churches.  There are so many beautiful words to use for expressing “holiday” greetings.  I hate that word used in this context.  If we mean Christmas, we should SAY Christmas, or the proper greeting for whatever holiday and stop saying, “Happy Holidays”… pleeease~!  It’s just playing it safe.  That phrase means absolutely nothing and does not transmit joy or any emotion that we most certainly feel when we reach out to strangers in this glorious season.  “Glorious,” another word.

But this... this sound wasn't sad. Why... this sound sounded glad. Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, was singing, without *any* presents at all! He hadn't stopped Christmas from coming, it *came*! Somehow or other... it came just the same.

One of my favorite Christmas book/show/movie is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”  I’ve not even seen it yet this year and my heart is swelling up three times it’s normal size already.  THIS is the feeling we all need to connect to, then express with all the innocence of Little Cyndi Lou Who, who was no more than two.  Once we all realize, I mean REALLY realize that the Christmas Spirit originates in the heart, then nothing and nobody can spoil it.  Sound those trumpets!

There is no shame connected to honestly expressing oneself.  We look for lightning fast catch phrases, sound bites.  I can’t help but wonder if we just don’t want to own what we say.  Say it fast, exit as fast as possible.  Let’s slow down and savor the moments we speak, which means speak with care and own what you do say.  We just need to take the time to move our lips (watch out don’t give yourself a cramp) and get them used to moving and using those numerous mouth muscles.  I know that often I speak or post very quickly and often put my foot in it.  Even so, I try to own what I say and if I need to apologize, I will.  I do not hesitate about that, and well, being me, I sort of expect it quite often.

Well, I’ve used up too much of my time this morning for this post yet I feel that I’ve failed miserably in trying to communicate the thoughts that flooded into my head during the foggy moments of my morning…. pre-coffee.  So, please if anyone has anything to add or say, feel free to comment and shed more light on my damp, foggy morning.

Like I tell my Gabe, USE YOUR WORDS.

Memories Are Necessary


My mom and me Nov 1961 (left) My mother before the nastiness of early motherhood (right)

I posted a bit yesterday about a life lesson that I’m all caught up in right now, Some Life Lessons.  It’s been a long time in the making, but this will hopefully be a short follow up.

I just wanted to add another thought, something that I had forgotten over the years.  If you’ve read some of the earlier posts of my blog, you will have gathered that for most of my life I did not have a good relationship with my mother.  She was  distant, cold and definitely unapproachable.  I have come to understand how and why this was so; but that does not help the little girl inside who longed for and needed to be shown the love that I know (now) she must have felt.  I’ll try to be brief and describe a little background.

When I was born, it was 9 months and two days after my parent’s marriage.  All the women of the family were counting the days on their fingers from the day of the marriage and my birth, hence how I know the exact number of days.  That was back in 1961, she was 22 years old and the times were not as relaxed now about getting pregnant before marriage and, well, things were pretty stressful for my mom.  Add on to that the pregnancy was in danger with hemorrhaging and from the second month, my mother was on complete bed rest.  When I was born, I had stuff wrong with me.  The one I’ll talk about because I believe that it shaped my mother, and I can imagine hardened her, gave her a tough skin and eventually, she closed herself off to feeling, experiencing the hard emotions.  I was born with a condition, probably arising from my constant position in the womb, of my head and neck being scrunched down onto my chest.  The doctor told my parents that it would amount to a hunched back as I grew up if not treated.  I became part of an experimental treatment.. and I am even proudly in some medical journal somewhere.  It was prescribed that I would receive muscular therapy.  It was a very painful process of stretching my neck (and probably shoulder/back) muscles.  A nurse had to come to the house and teach my mother what to do.  She was to lay her infant (me) on the edge of the kitchen table, with my head hanging off of it.  She then had to proceed to gently twist my head from side to side.  I was told that this was very painful to me and I can imagine how my mother must have felt having to do this to me.  I can imagine the pain she felt and yet knowing that if her daughter ever had a chance to grow up “normal”, she had to inflict this horrible pain onto her.  I must have been screaming.  My mother was also probably alone in this because my dad was working 2-3 jobs.  Sometimes two, sometimes three.  There were other things, too, like a bright red, pot-marked area on the left side of my face and two clubbed feet, which were two inwardly turned feet and legs.  After I was born, I needed to have casts on my legs up to my hips in the (successful) attempt to straighten out my legs.  So, as you can see, I was born a literal mess.  Oh crud, it wasn’t until I became a mother in my mid forties I could not fully understand the pain and stress my mother went through with me and during my growing years.  To be honest, I was the source of a lot of pain for her during the eight years between my mid twenties to mid thirties.  So that is a little bit of background.

So, my mom hardly if ever showed us any affection.  To make matters a little worse, I was not interested in the typical things that bonded mothers and daughters, like talking about home decorating, cooking and the like.  BUT, one time, a year or so before she passed on, we were talking.  I was in my late thirties and our relationship had recently gotten a lot better.  I was able to communicate with my mother on the level of peers, not as mother daughter, or I should say not as mother, authority figure and blindly obedient daughter.  We communicated honestly and we respected what the other had to say.  It was a time I felt that I could honestly just say what I thought and had no fear of doing that… also, it was a time when my self confidence was on the upsurge, the first one in my whole life.  Well, on day we were talking and she told me that I was special and that I should never forget that.  I seem to remember that not being the only time she said that, but I don’t remember that time very well.  I remember this time.  I remember bodily freezing and fighting my hardest hold back the tears…. not like now.

I just wish that I knew then what I know now.   What pain she suffered just to make me a “normal” kid, girl, woman.  She was much as I am now.  No income of her own, though she worked before having me.  I am so much in debt to her for what she has done for me.  I can understand now how and why you became so cold and seemingly to me, unfeeling; and it’s that understanding that will lead me to be a good mom in my own right.  It was survival.  It was something that I’m sure was not an intentional thing.  I totally get that.  I’m glad now that you just did what you had to do to carry on the business of raising two girls in your tradition.  I understand and that comforts me.  I can’t sit here and wish things were different.  I’m really grateful for the time we had together during the brief years at the end of your life.   I’d want you to know that your actions have now given me the courage and strength to, in turn, do what I now have to do for my son, the grandson that you never got to know on earth.

Thanks so much, MOM.

Some Life Lessons


Matthew 6:31-32
New International Version (NIV)

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

Praise God.  I have seen this play out so many time in my life.  I should have the steadfast faith of my angels, but sadly, I fear I let down God and myself every time I fail a test.

Please be patient with me, God is not finished.  Sometimes I need to ramble before getting to the heart of the matter.  I’m going to try and write about my thought process on some feelings I’ve been having lately.  More accurately, just facing up to lately.  I’ve got to praise God right now for his blessings and the incredible friends in our lives.

It’s no secret that we are going through some rough times right now, but it’s been doable, you know?  Not exactly the quality of life that I had envisioned for our family, but we have a roof over our heads and there IS food on the table.

I tried and failed miserably to explain my thoughts and feelings to two of my friends this week; and now I realize that I should probably write about it to hash it out and get it out right.  I think I did manage to do that during another conversation tonight and regret not having my recording within reaching distance because I’ll never get it out again like that, but here goes:

I spoke with my friend, Linda, early in the week and we spoke about a lot of things.  One being a luncheon that was coming up with the ladies of our crochet group and I had said that I was not going to attend because I didn’t think the places being looked into were in my price range.  She had generously offered to pay my way and I declined.  She tried to talk me into it, but I was adamant.  I tried to explain my reasons, but this was something I could not adequately get out.  Later in the week, I spoke with Susan and the same thing came up, she offered to loan me the money for the lunch, and I declined.  I also tried to explain to her my reasons, what I was feeling, and also gave her a different impression than I meant.  Well, tonight I spoke to Linda again and finally managed to satisfy myself.  Now I attempt to write to burn it in my brain, never to get confused again.   What I mean to say is….

Let me give you a little background information.  There was a time, a long time ago, when I could never let anyone know that something was bothering me; or admit that I needed help.  If someone offered, I could never accept.  There was a pervasive undercurrent of the need to be able to do things for myself, to be independent.  On the other hand, I would never hesitate to help anyone, in any way I could– to give someone a lift, lending money (if I had it), sharing food, whatever.  I came to love the joyous feeling one gets from helping someone out, but can you see how this had become a one way street for me?  Then one day, I don’t remember how I got this thought, but it came to me.  I realized that refusing people the same joy I felt was wrong, so I decided accepting.  It was hard at first, but I was determined.  Seems silly, but it was a sort of therapy for me.   It was difficult to even express gratitude and maybe that was because this was the first time I had actually been forced to verbalize it.  I felt horribly awkward, and the words were forced and did not seem sincere.

Up until now, this strangely purposeful give and take routine had been somewhat balanced.  Give and receive.  The difference now is that the scales are WAY off balance.  It seems that since my circumstances have shifted towards wearing a REALLY tight money belt, I’m not able to take the opportunity give as much as I used to.  So what’s been happening is that while my giving has all but stopped, my taking has not and it seems that I’ve been doing a LOT more taking lately and I’M thrown off balance.  I don’t feel right.  Part of this is my own insecurity regarding not being able to find a job… or more accurate secretly, not being able to want to work outside of the home… though, really, I need to, I have to.  I do apply for jobs, but outside of a few, my heart is not into it.  I feel guilty about not helping out our situation financially.  Though nobody but my uncle has ever called me a free-loader (yeah, he made me cry), I feel like one in my own home.  Well, you know something?  My head is screaming back.  My being home and not working, gave me the time to devote to advocating for my son’s education…. SUCCESSFULLY, advocating for it.  If I was working, you could forget about that.  I won’t even bring up cleaning because that priority is well….. not.  On a side note, I did also cancel my attendance at my old friend’s wedding, Paula.  That hurt a lot, but I just can’t afford a proper gift for a New York City wedding.  I grew up there and common decency dictates that you at least pay for your plate and there were three of us scheduled to attend, in addition, I could not properly afford one plate.

I have such incredible friends.  Linda did not tell me anything that I didn’t know already, but let me tell you, she dished out in-your-face- touch love.  Only she can be ignited like that AND give me the validation I needed.  She reminded me that I have worth, my own unique form of worth.  I KNOW, but I don’t know, you know?  Then last night, Susan, piled up more validation on top of that.  But, my feelings are clear.  There comes a time when you need to live out the life you have while walking down the path God has placed you on.  I know I’m on this path for a reason, and that is to learn something I need to learn.  I can’t keep allowing people to make things easier for me.  At some point I need to live and breath and pay my dues just like everyone else.   With that said, you know, a very odd thing has happened.  Almost the exact moment that I resolved to miss this lunch and miss seeing my friends, money just seemed to start falling into place, if even just temporarily.  God really does provide.  It’s totally amazing.

Coffee Talk- Adding More Stuff to Java


     

I have been marveling at the traffic my posts about putting spices in coffee has been getting.  You people are amazing!

My coffee creativity has been a little stale lately, but today I realized that something I’ve been doing all along is really a good idea for hot/cold coffee drinks.  Think about it .  Think about the ingredients that go into your favorite Starbuck’s drink, or the coffee options available down at the 7-Eleven or Quick check.  Identify your most favorite ingredients, then just add them to your own coffee, preferably made strong so the coffee taste does not disappear under the flavored stuff.  There really is something extra attractive about walking into a convenience store and adding stuff to my coffee, on my own, as little or as much of whatever I choose.  That was the best idea ever for these stores.  I love and really miss WaWa’s.  I live in 7-eleven / Quik Check country.

Yesterday the hubster brought home Snicker’s ice cream.  Do you see where this is going?  Chocolate, caramel, a little crunchiness.  Well, today I had a bit of  left over cold coffee in my cup and didn’t feel like brewing more, so I whipped out that ice cream, added a bit of instant coffee and boiling water to my cup and popped it into the microwave for 44 seconds or so.  Ding!  Topped that off with some Snicker’s ice cream, instead of milk, and voila a special drink made at home, minimum inconvenience and it only took 44 seconds (or so).  An added plus is that the cream melts and creates a frothy topping onto which you can sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon.  Yummy!  Okay, so just let your eyes wander over all the different flavors and brands of ice cream at the grocer’s.  Go farther and consider that some make homemade ice cream.  Do that on your own time, won’t you?  Then write back here and let me know what you come up with… I’d really love to try out your experiments!

It DOES Get Better


This morning I’m so sad and, well, pretty much upset by a post I read at a diary of a mom, a blog with a lot of love and inspiration.  She is a mom of an autistic girl writing about their family’s experiences and the little joys of every day life.  This morning it was on a subject that is near and dear to my heart:  Education and Support for Special Needs Children, in our case, the autistic child.  So now, as usual when something touches me this way, I write…..

The post in the a diary of a mom’s blog was about two women who murdered their autistic children.  For the details, please link to the blog above.  These mothers could not  get past that first stage when you first get diagnosed.  I remember it well, and I still have my days of worrying about the future; but these ladies seemed to have gotten stuck there. I know nothing of these horrible events, but one thing I am sure of is that they felt like they had nowhere to turn while teetering on the edge of a cliff.  I’ve felt this way and sometimes still do, but I’ve scrounged together a good support system, partly with luck and a lot through loving, caring, compassionate individuals.  Some being family and friends, but others being strangers.  I believe that God has brought all these people together uniquely for us.  Just yesterday I had a conversation about hope.  Well, to be more accurate, I received a good tough-love, in your face smack down from a good friend about not loosing hope.  Even the most optimistic person sometimes needs someone (or something) to bring them back to perspective.  Maybe these moms didn’t have that.

As I said, I know nothing of these individual women, but I do know that education is severely lacking out there for both the adults, as well as all children in the school system of this country.  I’ve seen ignorance color my son’s peers’ perception of him and it kills me inside as a mother and as a citizen of this city, this country.  In my dealings with my own school system, I must say (and give credit) to the professionals here; BUT, and there’s always a “but”, I see a lack of knowledge and and training on the school’s part.  With that said, they ARE trying, but I’m disappointed and surprised that they have no idea as to how to go about putting together strategies.  They are doing so for the first time, as I’ve even been told that they are just putting things together as they go along; and that worries me.  I am wondering why these professionals have not been to workshops that would educate and inspire them.  No money?  Hardly.  I am in an Abbott District and, in general, we get more funding than other areas around here.  Autism has been around a long time and there is no reason why our schools cannot meet the needs of these kids.

Getting back to availability of information.  It seems that it’s very difficult to network with other parents of special needs kids and though I’ve given repeated permission to hand out my telephone number to other moms in the school, for years I have not met even one other parent, though I know that there are at least 8 other kids in my son’s class alone.  A couple of weeks ago, however, through the school, I did manage to hook up with another mom of an autistic girl, two years older than my son and we had a play date and spoke a couple of times over the telephone.  Just this alone, could have immensely helped these tragic moms and maybe they would’ve chosen life instead of death for their kids…. My heart is breaking.

To any desperately overwhelmed parent out there I must say STOP~!!!  Stop and take the time to see the unconditional love your child has for you.  For YOU alone.  The love and trust found in these kids for their parents, and maybe even everyone around them, is sacred.  Every single day of my son’s life has been a learning experience for ME.  Wow.  Here I am thinking that I am going to teach and mold my son into an admirable human being only to be side swiped because I am the one who is the student here, enrolled in a lifeclass originating not from the OWN network, but from the person of my little boy from the moment he took his first breath of life.  LIFE.  OMG, when I think about what what the world has lost with the loss of these little lives.

I’ve just decided to create a new page, listing the resources I come across.   Please check back this time next week for that.  This weekend will be pretty busy, but I will get to it right after that.

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