Graduation #3

Like the fool I am and I’ll always be
I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream
They can change their minds but they can’t change me
I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream
Well, I know I can share it if you want me to
If you’re going my way, I’ll go with you~ Jim Croce I Got a Name

Youngest graduates today. My dreamer. My traveling buddy. My old soul.

She’s grown so much. It’s hard to think of her as a young woman. I still remember tutus and beads. Mismatched clothes as a fashion statement. Standing up for other kids when she was in Kindergarten. The bumpy years of middle school where she learned that being true to yourself isn’t always easy.

Then high school. Trying different activities until you found your own rhythm. Discovering that what others wanted wasn’t what you needed. Speaking up and out about things that mattered to you. Growing and stretching at every opportunity until you passed your peers on so many levels.

Yes, my dreamer. Don’t ever stop dreaming. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are fierce. And love you.

Graduation #2

Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are~ Billy Joel, Just the Way You Are

I just smiled a little smile when I read those lyrics. Middle graduates today. I don’t know how much he remembers about the last 20 years. It’s been one heck of a ride. When I think back to age 3 when I was told to stop thinking you could ever be independent, I cry happy tears. I want to shout from the rooftops so all those who said you couldn’t can hear how you did.

It’s been a journey that took us all over the map. I learned so much from you. You shaped my life in ways I never would have imagined. Most parents think they’re changing their kid’s lives when in reality the kids are changing their parents.

Middle is a hold it close kind of guy right now. I want to respect that. So, know that the young man he has become is amazing. I am so very proud that you held true to your roots and managed to grow in ways no one ever imagined.

I’ll still be here, watching you soar. I hope you know that no matter what, I’ll love you just the way you are.

Graduation #1

She had that Honda loaded down.
With Abercrombie clothes and 15 pairs of shoes and his American Express.
He checked the oil and slammed the hood, said you’re good to go.
She hugged them both and headed off to the West Coast.~ Kenny Chesney There Goes My Life

Four years ago, Eldest set off a journey to gain knowledge that would lead to a career. The Honda was loaded down, although not with shoes. It was filled with hopes and dreams. Nervous energy as we drove away from her childhood home towards an unknown future three states away.

Here we are today, watching her graduate. I’m not supposed to elaborate on her studies, but she did good. She did not choose the easy path. Over the last four years, she tried her hand at different things and started figuring out what she wants to do after graduation.

Watching her shape her adulthood has been fun. She took parts of what she grew up with, added a generous splash of her new found interests and emerged a young adult. Eldest held onto the lessons of integrity and service that were she learned under our roof. This is not an easy task.

I’m proud of her. There’s still many paths to choose from and much personal growth to still happen. But, she’s come a long way from the kid who headed out four years ago. Join me in wishing her much success as she moves forward into her future. I love you Beanie Baby 🙂


Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candor.~ Tom Hanks


I discovered this past week that I have not been communicating as clearly as I could have been. I’m sure many of you have read blogs about what people with chronic illness want you to do. But, it seems that the affected person needs to do some things as well. Here’s my new list:

Never apologize for who you are. It gets on people’s nerves.

Stay in touch with the people you want in your life. If you make the effort, so will they.

Focus on the relationship, not your problems. Unless the person has specifically asked, they don’t want a medical tutorial.

It’s ok to say no. Just try to reschedule as soon as possible.

Friends want to be with you but may feel awkward. Acknowledge that you understand and ask them if they have questions you  can answer.

Focus on things you can do. Enjoy the time you have together with no regrets.

Finally, it’s not all about me. Relationships are two-way streets. Everyone has challenges and wants to talk about them. Don’t trivialize their concerns/situations just because you “have it worse.” It’s not a contest.

Come to think of it…this list applies to everyone. Whenever you hit a speed bump, keep these things in mind and hopefully you’ll get past that bump quickly.

One Way Streets

There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.~ Chanakya

Lately I find myself re-evaluation my priorities. My health issues are happening more frequently and with greater intensity. While not life-threatening, it is annoying. This situation is also making it harder for me to sustain relationships that are one-way streets.

We’ve all been there. Friends of convenience that you share a common interest or two for a while. Friends that seem to pass through for a while. Relationships that never seem to really take off. Relationships that become forced over time. All in all, these relationships are very taxing for me.

I count myself lucky that many people have passed through my life. Each relationship has enriched me. They helped me see the greater diversity that makes up my life. As they fade and disappear, I mull over what brought us together in the first place. The reasons are as different as the relationships. Some were because our children were in the same activity. Some were because we had similar life situations. Others were through professional organizations or jobs. Many were because of a common interest or two. And, when circumstances changed, we parted quietly and moved on to the next stage of life.

Recently, I realized that many of my relationships were one-way streets. I was working very hard to make the friendships happen. I would schedule “dates” and be the one who initiated contact. The more I examined things, the more I came to understand that reciprocity was missing. In one case, I learned that a relationship was based not on mutual respect, but on what I could do for an organization. In another I looked backwards and realized a person didn’t make time for me and repeatedly broke “dates” because they didn’t feel like going out. Then, a few days later, I found out they had received a “better offer” and had gone out with someone else.

It hurt. I know I’ve lost many friends because of my illness. Some were “fair weather” friends who just decided I was too much work. Others didn’t know what to do, so they did nothing. A third group starting telling me they just didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I even had a group that was solely based on what I could do for them and they had no intention of reciprocating at all. At first, I missed these people and mourned the loss of the life I had. And then, I realized that my garden was blooming brighter and some of the low-lying flowers were now receiving sunlight. Those flowers have become the garden I cherish and look forward to spend time in.

There is still some bitterness, but mostly directed toward myself because I didn’t weed my garden sooner. I know that I am the only one who can change myself. Expecting others to change for me seems to only lead to heartache. I had to grasp the concept of my own self worth before I could see which parts of my garden could be weeded and which parts needed nurturing.

The bottom line is that even friendships run their course over time. There is no success to be found in forcing a one way relationship. While each friendship may develop because of self-interest, if it never moves beyond that initial phase it probably isn’t worth expending the time and energy required to keep it alive.

Lemon Trees

Storms make trees take deeper roots.~ Dolly Parton

Over the last week I’ve had to deal with many storms, from raging tornadoes to mild showers. I’m not done dealing with the damage these metaphorical storms caused in my life, but I am making progress. Just like meteorological storms, these metaphorical storms had many causes as well as confluences. The one thing they all have in common is the impact on me.

We’ve all heard about making lemonade. What happens if your lemon tree is destroyed? I’ve had some pretty crazy things happen this summer that fall under the lemon category from a major car accident to a life-altering new diagnosis. My friends would tell you I’ve smiled and sailed right on through, lemonade in hand. In truth, I haven’t. I’ve struggled mightily with some of these things. I’ve tried to rationalize why things happened to me. I’ve gone through at least some of the stages of grief around each event. And I’m still standing.

The last major event nearly knocked me over. I fled back to the safety of my family. The place I knew would be shelter in a storm. Once the eye of this last storm passed over, I realized that my roots were deeper than I thought. While some of these roots are definitely on the surface, others run right down to the well. I discovered that I need both in order to thrive.

Last night I was on the phone with another friend. Her life has also been uprooted, more so than mine. As we talked, I let our conversation flow over me and turn about in my mind. The thought that the points we focus on the most become our lives popped up. When I focus on my health, everything else seems to fade away. When I focus on my family, the rest of my problems melt into the ground. I do have many things on my mind and I can multi-task, but when the big items hit, they get my full attention. This can be both a positive and a negative. It’s positive, because obviously a major health issue demands attention. It’s negative because I become so wrapped up in that focal point, that I let everything else go. Then when I’m ready to return to “normal,” I find that normal has changed. It can be quite disconcerting.

The key is to keep redefining normal. My normal is not your normal. As I’ve previously said, we are all different. But by re-prioritizing and trying to keep the bigger picture in mind, I will grow deeper roots. These things that interrupt my life are but leaves on a tree. They will eventually fall away and become insignificant. My roots, however, need nurturing. I need to remember to water them frequently. The shallow ones will eventually serve their purpose as well and will wither away. The deeper roots, the ones that make me strong, will grow even deeper and help keep me anchored when the next storm rolls through.

The next time a storm rolls through your life, think about your roots. Even better, start thinking about them now. Have you been watering them enough? Have you cultivated some strong anchor roots? Do you have enough surface roots to hold you in place through a mild shower? Right now, I think I’m going to go pick up the old watering can.