Archive | September 2015

Heavenly Birthdays

Bday Poem

Today is my Mom’s birthday. It is yet another “first” we are experiencing without her. I have been celebrating her birthday for as long as I have been alive, so to say the day feels foreign to me without her is an understatement.

Among the many things I learned from my Mom, thoughtfulness and the “fun” of gift giving is at the top of the list. For the most part, my Mother’s love language was giving and receiving gifts. If she was out shopping and ran across something that reminded her of me (or anyone else), she was more than likely to buy it. Whether it was a cute dress, a Christmas ornament, or simply my favorite candy, she was always thoughtful enough to pick it up and surprise me.

I remember being 6 years old and allowed the privilege of shopping “by myself” for her birthday at DePaulo’s Gifts in Southington, CT. Mom waited in the car while the sales ladies helped me pick things out in the store. I have always loved picking out gifts for people and I was so proud because I was going to be able to give Mom a real surprise for her birthday. The store even wrapped everything up for me.

One thing I picked out was a small heart shaped porcelain jewelry holder. It wasn’t very big, so only a few ear rings would fit in there, but it was heart shaped with a purple Iris flower painted on it. It caught my eye because I thought it was an appropriate sign of the love I had for her.  After all these years, that jewelry holder still sits atop her jewelry box filled with her earrings. She continued to use it every day since I gave it to her, so I guess I made a good pick!

Birthday

I hate that she is not around this year to appreciate the surprises I might have found for her. I have heard it said that in heaven we have no need for material things and I do believe that to be true. However, what about birthdays in heaven? Since Mom expressed her love and appreciation through gifts, how would she feel if there were no gifts given to show our love and affection for her? Trying to figure out the answer to this got me thinking about what heavenly birthdays must be like.

To start there has to be an unimaginable feeling of joy and appreciation from all those you have touched during your life. You are surrounded by all those who love you and can still feel the love from the ones you watch below.

I picture my Mom sitting at a long table with my both of my grandparents and great grandparents. Also there, are several of my great aunts, along with my uncle and aunt on my Dads side. There are also the many friends she knew and loved in her lifetime. Her heart is filled with unimaginable love and joy as she watches over us. She is smiling like I have never seen her smile before. The decorations have the most vibrant colors and beautiful fragrant flowers complete the table’s centerpiece. Gifts are delicately wrapped in beautiful paper tied up with exquisite bows. Oh, and the cake? At least 2 tier, with elegantly decorated flowers. The cake is out-of-this-world delicious. No matter what the flavor, every bite is the “perfect” bite.

Each gift given is one of faith, hope, love and grace. Mom always said that “it’s the thought that counts”, so the gifts aren’t of the material kind, but are the feelings of love, excitement, joy and appreciation that went into finding the perfect gift just for her from all those who love her and continue to miss her.

These are just a few of the things I would imagine make Heavenly Birthdays unlike any other……….

Happy Birthday Mom! I hope you have a fabulous heavenly birthday with all the love and joy you deserve. And I hope you can still feel all the love and appreciation we continue to have for you in our hearts everyday.

-XOXO — Caroline

P.S. The cake IS unbelievably good, isn’t it?

This entry was posted on September 30, 2015. 1 Comment

Angels on Earth

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Every so often you hear a miraculous story of a dogs undying love and bravery. Whether it is a Mother Dog rescuing her pups from a fire or a military service dog saving the lives of soldiers, there is always something so uplifting and inspiring about these animals.

Although the stories are fascinating, Your dog certainly doesn’t have to do anything miraculous to be considered your best friend and hero. I find that no matter how awful my day has been, the “happy parade” that takes place when my dogs greet me immediately puts a smile on my face and warm love in my heart. They make me laugh and can always calm my anxious mind.

In everyday life, dogs teach us so much about unconditional love, forgiveness, and loyalty.  The most important lesson they have taught me is the grace and love that takes place in letting them go when the time comes. Although painfully sad, loving them through the end is the least I can do for something that has devoted their life to me. At some point, we all have to say goodbye to our best friend. However, the love and appreciation I have for their life has done nothing but expand the capacity of my heart to love. So, there is infinitely more room to love the next best friend that comes along. And I like to think that is what they would want me to do should they no longer be part of my world.

I know that in ‘my’ heaven, I will be surrounded by all the animals I have loved during my lifetime and what a glorious day that will be! A place without them will certainly not be heaven to me.  I have learned so much from all of them that I truly believe Dogs are, quite simply, Angels on Earth.

What are some of the greatest lessons you have learned from your pets?

This entry was posted on September 25, 2015. 1 Comment

Water Therapy

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One of the biggest reasons I left the corporate world was to focus on my own personal health and wellness. The balance between good health and the corporate world was always a struggle for me. Sitting for 8 hours a day put me in a glacial state where I really didn’t have the energy to do much beyond sitting once I got home. I would always daydream about what kind of workouts I would do, given the flexibility of time and not having to rush back to an office where I had to be somewhat “presentable”. One of those workouts was swimming. My brother and I grew up swimming competitively on a summer league, where weekday mornings were spent at practice and weekends were spent at area swim meets. In fact, my brother is still a swim coach to this day.

 

I, however, took a rather long sabbatical from my days in the pool. Up until this past summer, I had not swam a lap in over 15 years. To say I was a bit nervous jumping back in the pool was an understatement. I was convinced I would sink considering how long it had been, let alone the anxiety of wearing a swimsuit in public. But my brother gave me a good beginner workout requiring a 600 yard swim and I was determined to give it a try, no matter how terrified I was. That first day I actually surprised myself. Although the water was cold, as I started swimming my heart began to fill with joy. Each lap reconnected me with memories of my youth.  I discovered that the water energized me. I even surprised myself and did better than 600 yards. I made it to 800 yards on the very first day. Before I knew it, I was regularly making it to over 1000 yards and before the summer was over I achieved a personal best of 1800 yards!

 

While the water also energizes me, it has a soothing and calming quality too, which I desperately need as I continued to figure out what my life without mom is going to look like. I am able to shut the world out and be alone with my thoughts. And at the end of the day, completing a swim gives me some sense of accomplishment. The water also brought me back to some of the best parts of growing up. The memories of Mom taking us to practice every morning and her dedication in making sure we had a chance to succeed, somehow make me feel closer to her. When the last few laps become harder, it is her voice I hear telling me to “keep going, no matter how slow, just keep going……”  I think this might be her way of telling me to do that in life as well…..that no matter how hard the day is or how slow we are moving, it is the effort to “keep going” that pays off in the end.

The Weight of Loss

The Weight
Almost 6 months after Mom passed away, a dear friends mother also lost her battle with Cancer.  At the time I still considered my own grief “fresh”, yet I was reminded of the sheer rawness of those first several days as I attended her Mother’s visitation.  My friend’s mother fought until the bitter end with grace and dignity just as mine did. The stress in caring for someone with an extended illness is a roller coaster and in the end makes you feel powerless. I felt like our love for Mom was so strong, we could somehow “love” her back to wellness.  The ups and downs…..”oh she took 3 bites of breakfast? She must be feeling better, things are looking up”, then finding out she ate nothing more the rest of the day…. I can’t describe the feeling of powerlessness trying to find hope in the smallest of things, only to be disappointed in the end. I think the most bitter pill to swallow was realizing our love was not enough to save her from the suffering. All we could do was put our best effort into finding the right doctors and treatments, pray, and make sure she was comfortable along the way.  The emotional weight of seeing someone you love so much suffer so endlessly is much like wearing a heavy winters coat in the middle of a lake.  It’s so heavy, you feel as if you are drowning in despair for any glimmer of hope, while discovering that no matter how much love you have to offer, you are still sinking. Slowly. Into a bottomless ocean of fear and uncertainty.

 

 I ultimately became resigned to the fact that the only true thing left to hope for was God’s promise of eternal life. For my Mother I began to hope for a peace that surpasses all understanding, hope for a life that could exist outside of this disease, a life that only God’s Grace could provide.  With that in mind, the strangest feeling took place upon her passing. The loss that shattered my heart into a million pieces, simultaneously made me feel like I was ready for a “no more pain” pep rally and elated with joy as my Mother entered into God’s kingdom. Someone told me that strange feeling is the true presence of God revealing himself, the sheer joy felt for someone during a time of great personal suffering.

 

Our “loss” will always be. There is no “getting over it” or “time heals” kind of cliches. The fact remains that our loss is ours forever. We simply adjust to the absence. That adjustment process is not for the faint of heart. There will be days when you miss them so much your body physically aches and your insides feel exhausted. There will be days when you feel strong and remember them with a warm heart. Then there are days when something will trigger you out of the blue causing you to feel the void a little bit more than yesterday. Learning how to carry your loss takes determination and grit. Understanding how the loss impacts you and what you want your life to be amidst the after loss can be humbling. But if you are determined to make a beautiful life for yourself you can learn to carry your loss with a grace that wonderfully honors the loved one lost……
This entry was posted on September 7, 2015. 1 Comment

Hello September!

 

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This time of year is always bittersweet for me. I absolutely hate to see the end of summer…..I love the long days, flips flops and warm weather. However, I do LOVE college football (Go Hogs!) so it all works out in the end. Plus, as the seasons change, wonderful colors are revealed and the smell of pumpkin spice fills the air. Who could argue with that?

If you pay attention, you will realize that life is in constant motion, always changing from one season to the next. Children grow up, and pets pass away. We live our lives in chapters and experiences from which we will never be the same. Our lives evolve through experience, yet it’s not always the “experience” itself, but the meaning we attach to it that has the most profound impact.

As you know, I am currently settling into married life after losing my Mother. It has been a battle to see beyond the fog of grief and despair to determine what this chapter of my life is going to look like. I have always been a student of life, so trying to learn the lesson out of my life’s greatest heartache has been challenging. While I am still figuring it out everyday, I have already noticed my depth for compassion and empathy has expanded exponentially. I will always miss my Mother, but maybe this is one of her greatest lessons – To increase my capacity for compassion and love, not just so I can understand others better, but so I can understand myself more.

The absence of my Mother is not a change I would have ever welcomed, but if you look hard enough, it’s during times of challenge and change that life often reminds us of its beauty and purpose. For it is by God’s Grace we are allowed to grow from the challenges, changes and heartaches. And because of that, we are all forever blessed……

For more Sassy Images like the one above, check out @PrincessSassyPantsAndCo on Instagram and Facebook.

 

This entry was posted on September 1, 2015. 1 Comment