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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Fear … the worst motivator a gal ever had

Fear … the worst motivator a gal ever had

Being afraid … of missing out, of losing out, of disappointing people, of not being enough … of anything and everything. It’s a great motivator to force us to make decisions. When you’re afraid you feel the need to do something … ANYTHING … to make the feeling stop. It forces us to think of solutions to our current situation, and do something about it.

Here’s the problem though — the decisions I’ve made when I’ve been afraid have pretty much not moved the needle toward the life I imagine myself living.

Sure, if you’re facing actual physical danger the motivation of being afraid is life-saving. But really, folks, how often is the tiger lurking behind that tree a real tiger with real claws and real fangs? (Happy guy with the bobcat in his driveway not-withstanding. Google the video if you haven’t see it yet)

When we are in that state of uncertainty or anxiety, and feel the need to act, how do we avoid doing something we might regret a ways down the path?

Rule #6 – Name Your Fear

For me I reach for Rule #6 for a Blissy Life … Name your fear. Be still for a moment and listen to your heart to help you understand what you’re really afraid of. More often than not, my immediate fear is replaced by deeper wants or needs that won’t be satisfied by a quick decision … decisions that might even make the problem worse in the long run.

This is especially true for me when I’m afraid of “breaking the rules.” Going off book from the expectations of others (or myself) and taking my own weird, gorgeous path. I strongly believe that fear is the main reason we too often accept society’s “rules,” instead of living by our own.

The idea of following our own path, disregarding the safe and the predictable, is scary. What if I fail? What if I disappoint people? What if I change my mind?

So we take the easy, less frightening path …and miss out on on what could have been amazing.

What are you afraid of? What keeps you up at night? What prevents you from choosing what your heart wants, instead of what you “should” do? Maybe it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s really driving that anxiety. Behind the fear is the real “why” we can all embrace if we have the faith and the love to do so.

Much love

(A note on anxiety)

Anxiety can be a symptom of real and urgent mental health conditions. Reach out to a health professional if your anxiety is getting in the way of you living your life. And know that you have my love, support and understanding. I’ve been there.

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, on Etsy, and at select retail stores.

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The ego, the soul and the social stream

The ego, the soul and the social stream

Social media.

Love it, hate it, need it, avoid it — we are all on there for various personal, social and professional reasons. And yeah, it’s got its challenges.

Making peace with this reality is neither easy nor quick, and lately it’s been top of mind for me as I go through my work day.

A couple days ago I made a comment on a friend’s post. He was really upset about something going on in the “larger” world — I could tell because of the giant black letters against a blood red background. I may not catch every nuance, but this one was pretty unmistakable.

And I believed he was wrong in how he was looking at the issue. I posted a civil response with my point of view, coming from my 20 years in the online publishing industry.

He deleted the comment, and made a comment about his right to do so. Okay.

At first my ego said “Ha! He knows I’m right; that’s why he deleted my comment.” Then I backed away, gave my ego a gentle but firm hug, and whispered “time out” in her ear.

I browsed through his timeline, reading some of the news sources he shared, trying to gain an understanding of where he was coming from with his opinions. Gradually I began to see what scared him — I could see where the fears were, and how they were being amplified. And I began to realize that his fears — loss of freedom, control, livelihood, ideals — aren’t that far from mine. In fact, they come down to fairly common fears and anxieties we all experience on one level or another.

The only apparent difference? The reasons — the people and policies that are exacerbating these fears in each of us.

In the larger dialogue, these differences can seem vast and insurmountable. But in that personal moment, the commonality of our human anxiety was what struck home. From that point of view, our differences didn’t seem that far off at all.

We all have a circle of immediate influence — in that circle, we can do good, do harm, make change or support the status quo. And then there’s the larger circle, in which we have a voice, sometimes a powerful voice, but changes comes more slowly.

And then there’s the social circle, in which we all have a voice but it often does little to advance our own intentions. It’s just adding noise.

Beyond making our own voice heard, however, is another powerful agent for change. Listening. Trying to truly discover where the other person is coming from, their fears, their motivations and intentions. It’s not easy to go there; but it’s critical if we expect to find long-lasting solutions to the problems that plague us.

 

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On Rituals … and the Value of Temporary Chaos

On Rituals … and the Value of Temporary Chaos

Rule #9 in 10 Little Rules for a Blissy Life is “Make Life a Ritual.”

There is a certain comfort in routine. The morning cup of coffee is a perfect example. While some view it as a chore or a necessity, I see it as a way to reconnect to the waking world.

So much of our lives rush by in a blur. We find ourselves doing the same things over and over again, like dropping the kids off at school, or tossing a load of laundry into the washer, dashing off emails to the clients, or paying the bills. It’s too easy to become automated, almost unthinking, as we scurry through our lives.

One way to bring more connection into my life has been through rituals. Growing up Catholic, we had plenty of proscribed rituals. Tuna noodle casserole became a Friday staple during lent. Even stopping for donuts after Sunday Mass, which explains my ongoing craving for a good jelly bismark one day a week.

I have found new joy in recognizing and celebrating the rituals in my life. Making the bed is now an opportunity to bring my bedroom back to a state of beauty, and prepare the space for another restful night. Checking the mail is gives me just a minute or two to think of someone I’d like to hear from, and plan to write or email them. Cooking dinner goes from being a chore to celebrating a healthy offering for my body.

But what happens when change interrupts our rituals?

The last two weeks have been all about chaos — sorting, packing, storing, selling our home and moving in with a friend while our new home is under construction. The comforting rituals are turned on their heads. And with it, my sense of balance. It’s no wonder I’ve had vertigo in the mornings, as my physical body expresses what’s in my heart and mind.

Yet overturning the familiar is where we find new joy. Creating new order out of the chaos — even though I know this too is temporary — restores my balance while allowing me to be open to new experiences.

My latest ritual? Morning coffee on the dock, feeding the baby turtles at my friend Melissa’s beautiful home. Who knew watching tiny little shell kids bob for food could be such bliss?

I may be out of my element, but that’s no reason to be out of my mind.

 

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FFS, Have a Little Faith, Woman

FFS, Have a Little Faith, Woman

It’s not that hard.

We get what we put out there. Our external life echoes the thoughts we have running through our heads. If our thoughts are chaotic and uncontrolled, we get chaos. If our thoughts are fear-based, we get a life filled with anxious moments. If we have a million conflicting dreams and desires, we experience unfilled wishes. And if our thoughts are calm and centered? Yep, we find our lives are calm, more in control, and we are better able to cope.

Of course that doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. Parents will get sick; kids will have crises; partners will flip out and leave; houses will burn down — literally or figuratively. These things will continue to happen — but our experience of those things will be vastly different, depending on the state of our inner mind.

Now, when we get really good at maintaining that mindful balance, we are able to focus our thoughts and intentions on what we truly want — far beyond just surviving the day, making it through the next crisis. We are able to spend time seeing the future we want for ourselves.

When we can do that, it suddenly becomes clear what step to take next. We take that step in trust, in faith, knowing that mistakes will be made (it’s how we learn), and setbacks may occur. But we move forward — in faith — knowing that how we experience our own lives it up to us. Entirely up to us.

Much love.

 

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Rare, pshaw. Hardly!

Rare, pshaw. Hardly!

According to Apfed, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a RARE DISEASE, affects 1 in 2,000 people. So, in the city of Ann Arbor, MI, where there are approximately 121,000 people living, we can hypothesize that there could be 60 people, who have eoe, walking through that college town of only 28.7 square miles.

That is the most math I have done in quite a while, please don’t expect that of me again.

 

So what is my point with all of this?

My dudes (yes, I talk like this in real life and yupper, I am nearly 40), we’re not alone. None of us are. Last week, I received a message through one of my social media platforms. It made my day, that someone came to me with questions. This young lady was freshly diagnosed and, rightly so, was distressed. It was a relief to her to find our story and to find someone else with this link. Hank may be rare, but he isn’t the only one in the neighborhood! So, how do we go about finding others in our same boat?

Social Media: Through Instagram, you can find other families like mine. Families that document their daily lives and struggles, triumphs and wins. Head over to Facebook and not only can you also find us, you can join support boards that cover the world, your state or possibly your county, province or city. And if you can’t, you can start your own! Connect with these families, engage in conversation, ask questions. I have found that most people will answer your questions and lend support. So, ask away!

APFED.com: I love this group, here, you can find local, volunteer-led support groups. This page will also connect you with their online support group.

Your doctor: Who better to know of your local resources than the men and women who are helping you navigate this situation? Ask there for suggestions as well. The bonus here, is that they may be able to recommend a therapist for better one on one support.

I, personally, respond to all (appropriate) questions that are sent to me and usually have the time to dedicate for a conversation. I am not an expert and I don’t sugar coat our experiences. But I am also available for an extra shoulder.

 

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The Traveling Circus

The Traveling Circus

Sit back, friends, it is story time.

Finding ourselves completely burnt out, the Hubs and I decided that we needed a vacation. It had been years since we had gotten away and we needed to do it again. We decided to travel down to North Carolina to visit with my mother-in-law and do all of the fun things along the way. Mammoth Caves. Check. Gatlinburg. Check. Driving over the Smoky Mountains. Check. Spending time in Cherokee (my favorite place, ever). Check. Then over to the coast for ocean living. Bliss. I am a planner and I am cheap, so I took a calendar and literally wrote out all of our destinations and reserved motel rooms and hotel rooms in advance and cost shopped around. Folks, right here is where your English teacher would be pointing out the foreshadowing. Right. Here.

I already knew that we needed to get creative in order to make it out alive. In a large tote, I packed a ton of food that was Hank-Safe for the occasions when we might not be able to find food that he could have. In that tote, I also packed the cups that he uses to drink his medical food and the accessories need to wash them. I packed a large cooler with his rice milk and his refrigerated medications. Then, the clothing. Little dude needs to have many changes of clothing, as the resident puker of the family, I had to make sure that he could be clothed at all times and that meant a lot of clothes and a bottle of laundry detergent.

Cooling off

Now, right here, I know that you are thinking, ‘Good Feta, woman! There are stores all over the country that carry rice milk, that carry laundry detergent, that carry food!’ But I am a planner and I was worried that it would be late and I would need something and I wouldn’t be able to leave to get what was needed.

Day one into the trip was lovely. We stopped at rest areas and ate packed lunches from the magical food tote. We ran around play areas and did yoga in the grass to stretch our legs and backs. We drove to our first hotel. We planned the first stop to land us near the Newport Aquarium in Kentucky. If you are ever in that area, you need to do yourself a solid and visit. It was here, in a parking lot, I realized that you shouldn’t leave your parking ticket on a magnet. Paid for a whole day instead of the 3 hours. A little salty, I was.

Day two, was Mammoth Caves! Oh it was glorious. The stalactites, the formations, the crying kids, the seized back muscles the Hubs got. Wait. What? Yeah. Something that I didn’t count on is how scary this wonder of the world would be on young kids. In their fear, they needed special hand holding and coddling. Twenty steps down into the cave, found the hubs, walking down, leaning forward and holding a kid’s hand. Forty steps down, he was able to stand up. His back, however, was not able.

We did not mean to spend more than two nights in that area, and therefore, I had booked the campiest motel that I could. It didn’t have a playground, working air conditioning or a pool – but that was ok, the next hotel we were scheduled to stay at was a super nice place with a massive pool. But now, I had a Hubs in the ER for the night and two kids with NOTHING to do. We were to hike around the caves for a few days, but they “noped” that activity after the first five steps into the cave. We checked out of the motel and checked into a hotel with a pool. Canceled the following night’s hotel in Gatlinburg. I could totally see the lost money flying out of my purse.

Day three, we swam. We waited. We went to the drug store and bought Pokémon cards. We finally got the Hubs back.

Day four, I drove Over the Mountains while the Hubs slept with his muscle relaxer.

Days Five, Six and Seven, we realized something that was golden and a simple internet search would have told me this, but did you know that the South is sort of famous for their BBQ?

This is where the ‘Laugh’ sign gets lit for the audience.

I wish that I had thought to research all the BBQ restaurants that were on the route of where we were going. If nothing else, this kid can and will survive on pulled pork. Even more, whereas a BBQ chef won’t tell me what is in his secret family rub, he will tell you if your allergens are in it. The relief was so strong, that I thought about leaving the very bulky food tote in a motel and driving off. I didn’t.

The rest of the vacation was uneventful and full of relaxation and bliss. We did find all of the local BBQ joints, we ate our way through the south, and we ended up coming home with a nearly full food tote.

Mining For Gold in Cherokee, NC

What did I learn for from all of this? I can’t plan everything out. It just won’t happen that smoothly. I learned that the one family member that I was most worried about was the least trouble. I learned that the world has options that we can use.  I learned that planning the vacation to stay inexpensive is like poking the proverbial bear.

Oh, and Cherokee is where I ended up spending my birthday. At the base of the mountains, with the scent of flowers and green in the air, I spent the twilight of my 38th drinking a water on a shared motel balcony with a motorcycle club. 12/10 would do again.

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School, the Germ Factory

School, the Germ Factory

So, it is common knowledge that schools have kids in them (seriously! They do!) And I think that we all know that kids have germs. Put those two things together and suddenly, you have mass produced illnesses. But, for these illnesses to take hold, you need something to carry it around. THE KIDS! It is a vicious cycle, folks.

Sending Hank to school was a scary prospect for us. We had seen his brother come home with everything under the sun during the first year and, in turn, infect us like he was being paid to do it. And he was healthy! Hank’s compromised immune system has seen him more sick than healthy this year. We had never had the croup in the house until this year and now we’re up to three times. The flu once, and cold after cold after cold. Right now, we have – what we think – is the stomach flu. Sleepless night and nothing staying in (and I stopped drinking caffeine?!? What is wrong with me?) coupled with being warm and floppy means another few days of sitting on the couch with the puke bucket.

Nesting with the Flu

Yes, I said it, the puke bucket. A trusty friend to flare ups, colds and whatever we are currently dealing with. I saw once, on one of my social media support group boards, that one common theme was the puke bucket. Nearly everyone had one. And I thought that we were so clever.

It is a glamorous life, the mother of an allergy kid. I would say an EOE kid, but, hey I think that everyone could use a puke bucket in their lives. OK, that was mean.

How do you avoid bringing these germs into the haven that is your home? This is what we do:

  • We enjoy a multitude of soaps at every sink. Take your pick! We have antibacterial liquid and foams, fancy homemade bar soaps and even a few tiny hotel styles from the Husband’s many adventures. I have noticed that sometimes a kid won’t wash their hands after the bathroom if you just have a plain container or a plain boring bar. Seriously. We’re finding fun here through the buffet of soaps.
  • We also utilize a complete housekeeping service here in our household. They come every day and focus on the entire house. Ok, it is me. I clean daily. When I first left my job, I experimented with making my own cleaning products. But now, I fall back on the convenient and premade manufactured brands that jam enough bleach into every wipe that they eliminate everything. I hate to think of all the illnesses that we are not getting because I walk around wiping everything down a few times a week.
  • Changing out furnace filters monthly is a basic household necessity, but it also allows for better air flow which help eliminate mold and dust.
  • Vacuuming everything. I hate this chore. HATE it. I hate lugging the vacuum through the house, but that feeling when I dump the canister is one breeching on victory.
  • Oh dear. Laundry. It is a never-ending cycle, but staying on top of sheets, shirts and those rando socks all over the house helps keep germs and sickness at bay.

Seriously, I am chuckling to myself right now. I am talking about all the cleaning and care that we do just to avoid illness when we have SOMETHING almost weekly.

Honestly, the best way to make it through the illnesses is to invest in a quality thermometer, many “trash” towels to clean up the never-ending puke and a beverage that helps rehydrate your sickos. For recipes on making your own, head over to Pinterest and see what you can find. For us, we’re lucky to be able to use Gatorade.

Do you have any suggestions that I haven’t thought of? Please, share them! Remember, you are a part of the family now.

 

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