The New Normal of My Mother’s Day

The New Normal of My Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is almost here. I’m happy and sad all wrapped into one, with sprinkles of mad on top.

It’s been two years since I lost my mother. It’s been two years since I saw her and could talk to her. I have learned so much about myself in those two years … and I can’t tell her. Well, I can. I talk to her nearly every day. I sort of throw conversations out to the universe and pretend that she is sitting next to me, nodding and chuckling along.

I tell her that I miss her, I love her and I am sorry.

I miss talking to her, texting her and tagging her in weird memes I saw on Facebook. I want to tell her all about how Dad is doing, so I do. When I am alone, I talk. Dad is ok, I tell her, he’s even drinking more water. I say, I’m working on a project with him and spending all this time with him has made the both of us happy, though, we are very tired.

I tell her how the boys are doing. Hank has really flourished in his new life, I explain, he has calmed and finds peace in his every day and brings it to me, too. Dave is one hell of a young man, he’s on his self-made path that will take him into a successful adulthood.

I want to tell her that I am sorry. I had been in a relationship where there was not a lot of sense of control. I want to tell her that I left. That I removed the toxicity and have started to heal the relationships with those who truly love me. I’m sorry that I allowed for someone to put up walls between us. I want to tell her I am proud of myself and know that she is, too.

As I started a rewrite of my book this year, I realized I am writing this new version of 10 Little Rules of Hank to her. I know if she was here, she’d be the first person to read it, as she was when I released the first version. She was the biggest supporter of my writing, in fact, she has always been a supporter to anything that I did.

She believed in me.

I know she would be pleased to know I have been going into more detail, with more resources to help others – branching out from just writing for myself as I did for the first version. I want to embody her approach to nurture others through comfort and love. I will be more like her in this second phase of my life.

From my new dedication:

My mom was a Finn through and through. Many of my strengths, along with the courage to just say, “Fuck it, I’m doing it,” came from watching her navigate through life. She and I had a bond where I was careful what I thought about around her, because you better believe, she could hear it…

Momala, I’m sorry, but I did swear in print… Love you.

Miss you.

Click here to preorder a copy of Wendy’s Revised 10 Little Rules of Hank.

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“Why blissy? Why not happy, or joyful, or something else?”

This past March I was honored to speak with Stephanie Affinito and appear on her Get Lit(erate) podcast. Stephanie describes herself as a “book-loving, notebook hoarding bookologist on a mission to changes lives one book and one notebook at a time.

Our conversation was amazing … and she asked a question no one has yet asked about my book 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. She asked “Why blissy? Why not happy, or joyful, or something else?”

What came out of that discussion was a wider understanding of the word. And it absolutely supported my belief that we can hold two (or more) emotions at a time. Most importantly, it helped me truly define what “bliss” means to me, and why I reached for the word specifically when I wrote my book — even though my life at that point was far from perfect, happy, or secure.

I hope you enjoy the podcast … and I’d love to hear your own ideas about bliss, and what makes a blissy life for you.

(And if you’re new here, welcome to the tribe. It’s great to connect.)

Rules for a Blissy Life by Carol Pearson -- a podcast

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F*ck around and find out

F*ck around and find out

F*ck around and find out. 

The over-used Twitter meme says it all. Do something; reap the consequences. Take something away; reap the consequences. Unintended consequences aren’t always predictable. It’s the intended consequences that scare me.

Take away existing human rights, and the unintended (but c’mon, not unexpected) consequences might be a backlash at the polls, public protests (nonviolent or not), economic pushback, social chaos.

The intended consequences are quite different … and we can only guess the motive. Economic hardship for a particular group? Ostracization? Criminalization? Shame? Worse?

The recent Supreme Court’s ruling, worded to grant a return to state control on abortion, will have consequences of both kinds.

The publicly touted social consequences this – to eliminate or at least significantly reduce abortion under the banner of morality – is a fallacy.

Abortions will only become more expensive, more dangerous, with more dire consequences for all people involved. 

Is that the true intention here? 

Because let’s not kid ourselves. If you’re wealthy or well-connected, safely ending an unwanted or medically dangerous pregnancy will continue to be quite possible. 

Prohibition did nothing to rid the country of alcohol. Instead, it plunged the industry into the hands of criminals. And that is what this ruling will do – create an entire unregulated industry to meet the need. As a country we’ve seen that horror show. The highest court in our nation decided years ago to not let that happen anymore.

And what’s next? We already know the stated intention of at least one SC justice – to “reconsider” existing rights around birth control and same-sex relationships (married or not). 

What are the unintended consequences of this? And more importantly, what’s the intended? 

Listen to your heart – speaking far deeper and quieter than the rhetoric in your brain – does it abide by these consequences in a society founded on basic, inalienable rights? If so, you have a right to believe this is all a good thing. If not, you have a right to be horrified, and to raise your voice against it. This is not a political statement.

Honor what you hear in your heart … at the end of the day it’s the only way you’ll be able to authentically face the consequences. Unintended or not.

Own your truth and speak it. If it helps just one person, it’s worth doing.

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Telling the hive … once more

Telling the hive … once more

(Earlier this year I wrote about Dad’s passing, and how life during pandemic made it so hard to “tell the bees.” Now we mourn my mom, who died earlier this month. These are the words of remembrance I spoke at her funeral, shared here with the encouragement of my hive, especially my sisters and my brother. I love you all.)

It’s time to tell the bees … again.

I don’t remember where I first heard the legend of  “telling the bees,” but I was reminded of this beautiful tradition when I read The Beekeeper’s Promise last summer. 

Telling the bees is the practice of sitting quietly and notifying the hive when a momentous event occurs in the family, typically when the master or mistress of the family dies. 

Families do this, the legend goes, out of respect for the bees’ position as a link between the physical and spiritual worlds, and their importance to the health of the farm.

If we don’t tell the bees, the delicate link between the bees and their human host is disrupted, and the bees may abandon the hive. 

Now it’s our turn to tell the bees …

It’s time to sit quietly and tell the bees of our sadness at Mom’s death.

It’s time to let the bees help us mourn the loss … of  a mother … a grandmother … a great-grandmother, an aunt, a dear friend.  

It’s time for us to speak openly of the gaping hole at the center of our hive. It’s why we come together like this, in a safe, sacred space to shed our tears. 

Yet there’s another part to this practice of telling the bees. We also tell the hive of our joy … when a baby is born or      when a couple gets married … when a new home is built or a fresh field is plowed. 

We tell the hive when our hearts are full of the awe and wonder and joy of simply being alive.

So let’s speak that part of Jan’s life today. Let’s tell the bees about a life grounded in faith and rooted in love.

Jan’s often unspoken mission was clear: our job is to leave this place a little better than we found it.

She lived this mission. Coaching Little League softball, teaching religious education and leading Brownie and Girl Scout troops, she gave her time and smile and encouragement to countless kids. 

Through her work at Pompey Outreach, she gave families in need hope, support and love. 

She and Dad provided counsel and support to so many couples through Engaged Encounter and Marriage Encounter.

She showed her love in her magical talent for whipping up a party at every family gathering, special event, holiday and Sunday supper. 

To her husband she provided a life of unwavering support and dedication   throughout their 60+ years of marriage. 

To all of us, she provided a rock solid foundation of faith … faith in a greater good, in something so much larger than ourselves, and in the greater potential available in each of us.

Her life was a series of reminders to help us realize our real purpose here. We learned to move through this world with hearts wide open and ready to give. 

We learned to leave firewood for the next camper. 

We learned to plant flower gardens where our neighbors could see them, and where the bees could come and work.

We learned to volunteer in our community, to share our talents and our light, to simply pay attention to the people around us. To realize when they might need a hand … or a hug …  or an extra dollop of Cool Whip. 

And we learned to create family memories through our holiday rituals and a well-loaded table. We learned how to turn the most every-day  day  into something special with a well-timed dose of sprinkles. (In this family, sprinkles mean love and that’s a fact.)

Jan leaves behind this incredible legacy, in a strong, loving extended family that learned by her example how to love unconditionally and support each other with our whole hearts.

I see that legacy in my siblings, so clearly now, especially during these past few difficult years.

I see Mom’s legacy in Marianne, who chose a career in which her talents and contributions are magnified by the teams she has assembled to help some of the most vulnerable. Like Mom, Marianne’s impact is a lasting one, in the legislation she’s helped create and advocated for …  in the organizations she has strengthened … and in the community she’s motivated. I also see her in the way she and Karan grow food in the city, to eat and to share, and the way their very presence creates true community wherever they go. 

I see Mom in Patty, in the nearly magical way her home expands to accommodate anyone who wants to be there, and the table fills with food at just the right times. I saw Mom in her the other night, when she turned a box of graham crackers and a couple of bananas into the perfect bedtime mini-feast for a crowded house. I see it in her work with students, helping them realize their greater potential and find a new level of confidence. And I see it in her life with Bill, growing a family with an unshakable faith in God’s goodness. 

I see Mom’s legacy in Frank, as he’s morphed his career into a true mission to leave the planet better for the generations to come.  Not in a lofty, theoretical way, but in real time, through his ability to leverage the connections he makes with creative synergy. And I see it in the family he’s created with Rachel, in the way they’ve both instilled a love of being outside and a respect for the natural world in their boys. And I see it in a faith that becomes manifest as he walks through his days. 

And I see Mom in myself. I hear her speaking to me when I’m working in my garden, tending the flowers while the bees and the butterflies go about their chores. I see it in my work as a ghostwriter, helping others tell their stories. And I see Mom in myself as the seasons change and John and I haul out the bins to decorate for the seasons. … The seasons of renewal, the times of growth, the gratitude of the harvest time, and the rituals that herald the wonder and joy that see us through the darker part of the year.

Lately though, I see Grandma’s legacy most clearly in her grandchildren … 

in Chelsea and Kade in the way they recognize their unique talents and embrace the hard work needed to amplify them … 

in Miriam and David, in Natalie and Jeffrey as they buzz around their own hives doing what needs doing with ease and laughter, always ready with a hug or the right words or an impromptu yo-yo lesson … 

I see it in Luke and Colin as they embrace a life lived closer to nature, staying in harmony with this earth as they celebrate the pure, grand adventure of just being alive … 

I see it in Valerie and Jessie, both in the careers they’ve chosen, providing advocacy and support to young and old, and in the good-hearted men, Ryan and Will,  they’ve chosen to spend their lives with. 

And now we have the gift of discovering Grandma’s legacy in her great granddaughter and namesake Eleanor Jean. How Mom’s legacy will show up in this next generation is a gift tucked under the tree, just waiting to open … as we see glimpses of Mom and Dad and so many others flit across her sweet face.

We see Mom in all the faces here today … her friends and extended family, the people she loved in so many different ways, people she has touched in the community, on the golf course, in her church community. If she was to plan a party, I’m pretty sure you all would be on the VIP list.

Our queen bee might have flown this earthly hive, but her presence and her legacy of love is stronger than ever. 

We will remember her in every apple pie, every flower garden, every jar of sprinkles, and every campfire. It’s that legacy of love that we will remember and celebrate.

So let’s all go together and tell the bees. 

So yes, we’ll tell them of our loss. Speak to them of our sadness. 

And then we’ll tell them of our joy  …  of our unbounded gratitude that we have been so graced to have her in our lives. 

Postscript: As we gathered to bury Mom at the graveside on a gorgeous fall day, one lone bee flew in and slowly circled the casket, buzzed each one of us, visited the priest and paused near the Bible in his hands, then flew away. The bees know.

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Say you’re sorry.

Say you’re sorry.

It was a mantra of sorts growing up in my house. Knowing when and how to apologize sincerely … when mistakes are made, when you know you did something that was hurtful or wrong … is a good thing. Manners are a good thing in any family, and a sincere apology goes a long way toward rebuilding trust and harmony.

But let’s not take it too far.

Anything that becomes rote becomes mindless.

I was deep in a conversation with a friend the other day when things touched a nerve and emotions came to the surface. She immediately apologized, something I think so many of do when the tears well up.

We don’t want to make others uncomfortable, or think maybe they said or did something wrong. That’s admirable, but not apology-worthy.

Apologizing for an honest reaction, a raw emotion, diminishes the value of that emotion. It also diminishes the receiver of the apology, in an interesting way. When someone feels safe enough around me to have those raw moments, without fear of me judging them, I’m honored, not chagrined. I can handle your tears, your fears, your insecurities just as well as I can handle your joy and your laughter.

When “sorry not sorry” became an internet trope, it encapsulated our collective need to own our feelings, share our thoughts, without prejudging them on our own behalf.

You want to cry? Cool.

You’re mad as hell? Awesome.

You’re so confused you don’t even know what you feel? Been there.

We all have dreams and desires and wishes and needs that others can only guess at. Let’s stop assuming that these are something we ought to apologize for.

So don’t jump right to the apology. If you’re about to get all Level 10 emotional, a little heads up might be in order, but an apology in definitely not required.

Love the heart that beats inside you.

Carol Pearson is the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life and the founder of the 10 Little Rules Books Series.

 

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Bliss … at a time like this

Bliss … at a time like this

Okay, I get it. I’ve not been myself lately.

I’ve been short-tempered, easily rattled, unfocused and anxious. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’m tired. Not physically tired (although that too), but deep down emotionally tired … from all of it.

These are not normal times. These are not easy days. And the people closest to me bear the brunt of my less-than-blissy vibe.

I’d apologize, but I don’t think that’s really called for. I’m not doing this intentionally, or aimed at anyone in particular. In fact, when I feel this way my instinct is to curl up, stay offline, keep away from humans so I don’t inflict my whatever this is on them.

To be sure, there have been some really great times this past year. For several days around the holidays, my heart was full, light, happy and peaceful. We laughed; we played games with family online, and at home at the kitchen table. What I expected would be a difficult Christmas was actually quite wonderful in a totally unexpected way. That was nice.

There was a wedding (pandemic style, during the fall “lull” … a grand baby born on Christmas Day (we will see her soon, I pray!) and an engagement. Life went on … in spite of the pandemic, the social upheaval, the politics.

Even when I lost my Dad in October, we were able to gather safely as a family and have a private service. I know this is far more than many families have had recently, and I am so grateful for that gathering, the love and the healing that will forever be Dad’s legacy.

Then last week happened. Something changed. What seemed a remote possibility became horribly real. Enough people disagree with the rule of law in this country that the seat of our government was breached, vandalized. People died. It was gutting to watch it unfold in real time.

So you’ll forgive me if I forget my bliss, yes? Because at the heart of all of this, the rules still hold true. I’m better when I spend time each day getting to source, listening to my heart, feeling then deciding. It’s just that what I’m hearing and feeling isn’t bliss. And that has to be okay. For now.

What we are going through now will become our history … this country’s and our own personal stories. We will not emerge from this unchanged. How can we? But I will find my bliss; I will not give up that quest. I will not give up on us, on you, on our country, on humanity.

I was made for these times. To quote Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, “Soul on deck shines like in dark times.” I will continue to shine … even if there are days when my light is dim.

Carol Pearson is the founder of the 10 Little Rules book series, and the author of 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life, available at www.10littlerules.com, on Amazon, and at select retail stores. Follow 10 Little Rules on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

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the bliss of choosing joy

the bliss of choosing joy

“Choose joy,” they said.

But how can I choose joy when all this is happening?

“It will happen with or without you,” I heard.

Then I heard the question: “In this moment, are you well? Safe? Secure?”

I am, answered I.

“Choose joy.”

But … there are so many with less, so many hurting, fighting, shouting, screaming, blowing things up and tearing things down.

“When they cross your path,” I heard, “you’ll know what to do.”

I’m gently letting myself off  the hook for the state of the entire planet. I am not, however, letting myself off the hook, gently or otherwise, for the state of my own experience. I realize that the world “out there” mirrors what’s going on in my stressed heart, my tired soul, my overly-worried brain.

This I can, must control.

“Choose joy.”

In order to do this, I must set the ego aside, the need to be right, to be heard, to matter.

I listen.

I look out the window, watching the muhly grass rustle in the slight breeze, near the succulent garden growing without thought to what the other plants are doing, not a care.

The knot in my stomach begins to loosen and let go. The frantic concern over what to do next ebbs. My heart slows down just a bit, enough to hear the break of silence.

Joy might still be elusive, but at the very least in this moment is seems … possible.

Choose joy.

Turn the rest off.

When the world next crosses your path, you’ll know what to do.

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The bliss of Getting to Source

The bliss of Getting to Source

I was raised to have faith that were was something deeper to life, something beyond the physical senses. I had faith there was a deeper point to all our existence. Many of us are raised to have this kind of faith.

It wasn’t until my oldest daughter was born and I held her for those first precious moments, that faith turned to knowing. I looked into those wide eyes and saw the Source. I saw the Universe reflected back to me, God’s love in all its mystical beauty and astounding truth. In that all-too-brief moment I went from believing in a greater source to knowing it was there.

This was the inspiration for Rule #1 (Get to Source) in 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life. But what does that look like in practical terms?

Some get to their spiritual source through prayer or religious devotions. Others get there through meditation, writing, painting, music, walking on the woods, even weeding the garden. It doesn’t matter how you get there. Just take some time, even a few minutes each day, to shut out the physical and turn your focus on the bigger picture.

When we do, we begin to feel more connected to the whole. We feel less alone. From here, we start to embrace our existence as a vital part of the whole.

Having faith is a powerful thing. Your faith, combined with this deep knowing, amplifies that power in incredible ways. When we are intentional about getting to source every day, that power starts to manifest in entirely new ways.

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