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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Snapping Back at the Rabbit Hole

Snapping Back at the Rabbit Hole

My friend and former colleague @Jeff Wozer is a low-key philosophical genius and popular keynote speaker on digital moderation. Years ago he shared a tip for getting unstuck from mindless social media consumption … and it stuck with me. His advice? Before you jump online again, slap a big old rubber band on your wrist — you know, the kind you’d wrap up a bundle of papers in. Nice and thick, with a good “snap.” Go online to do your thing … but … anytime you find yourself mindlessly scrolling, give it a nice “thwap.”
It worked.

Then I forget/neglected to practice this.

This morning, with the intention of being mindful as I went about my projects today, I found myself on TikTok, watching women in cars eating the tres leches cake from a popular cookie shop. I mean, I was drawn IN.

And I looked up, startled by a text message, and had NO idea how I had gotten there. I had to mentally backtrack to a party I’m invited to this weekend, and my research on dessert recipes.

Thwap.

I had been sucked in, drawn down, and mindlessly transfixed. Fortunately, I’m currently reading The Wealth Money Can’t Buy, Robin Sharma‘s newest book. (No affiliate links here; I borrowed a copy from my public library … ) This book is also drawing me in, in a positive way, while mindfully transfixing me with goodness and centering me in a whole new way.

It’s that good.

The challenge for me (and so many of us) is this: social media is important to the work we do. At the same time, it’s rife with distractions, emotional triggers and garbage. What to do?

I will continue to use social media — judiciously, appropriately and responsibly — armed with a new awareness of WHY I’m on there. It’s not for the dopamine rush; it’s not to ease loneliness; it’s not to compare myself to others to gloat or feel awful. My why is to connect with kindred souls, while I share my passion for helping others achieve breakthroughs that lead them closer to their bliss.

That’s my why. Why are you on here? I’d love to hear.

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Where light shines

Where light shines

This morning I was getting ready for my yearly physical, and my mind wandered back to last year’s appointment. It was maybe three weeks after my mom died, and two months after my granddaughter was born. 

I sat in the parking lot, mask on, waiting for the nurse to come out and do a Covid symptom check. She approached the car, looked at me and stopped.

“You’re so beautiful!”

That was not at all what I expected to hear. Maybe “you look sad” or “are you having trouble sleeping?” or even “are you okay?” would have made more sense.

She finished her temperature check, asked about symptoms, then said she’d call me in when they were ready.

I had to understand her reaction somehow; I pulled down the visor and stared into the mirror. Above the mask I saw my eyes … large, oddly bluer than normal, and filled with … something. Grief? Joy? Anxiety? Loss? Love? All of those things, surely, with the rollercoaster of emotions my family had been on.  

This morning, as I thought back on that, it hit me. What she saw was my vulnerability. In those weeks, I had no choice but to let my authentic emotions rise to the surface, where they visible to anyone.

Maybe this is exactly what “beauty is more than skin deep” means. Our emotional hearts and all the messy feelings they hold are truly beautiful. We know it deep within ourselves. And if we can find a way to allow them, through being vulnerable, to rise to the surface, the whole world recognizes and respects them. 

Shine on, my friend. 

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Your vote. Use it or lose it.

Your vote. Use it or lose it.

It won’t make a difference. 

The system’s rigged. 

I don’t like either candidate. 

Why bother? 

It’s too much trouble. 

It’s too much of a hassle.

My vote won’t count anyway … 

The reasons are endless.

The reality is, as soon as you choose not to vote, the reason is you. The system, run by humans and their astonishing ability to be flawed, isn’t perfect. But we still need to participate. 

And I don’t mean blindly voting along party lines. I mean understanding who those people are, and what they stand for. From the top spot to the smallest local election.

When I started really diving into the people on my ballot, the real humans, their backgrounds, their affiliations, their donor base – yep, even their social media feeds, which can be eye-opening  – my choice became much easier. 

Ballotpedia is a great tool for that. Just enter the address where you are registered to vote, and you can find your ballot for any upcoming elections. 

Yep, it takes a bit of time to do this research. But it will take a whole lot more than time to dig this country out of the current mess we have created for ourselves. 

In our country’s history, a vote was precious and hard-earned thing. For women, it was harder still. Now, all you have to do to earn the right to vote is turn 18. For now. 

Think of your right to vote like a muscle … if you don’t exercise it, frequently, you could lose it.

We are heading into the Independence Day weekend … one way to celebrate? Register to vote. (Not sure how? Message me for info. I’m a volunteer poll working in my home county and can help you find the info you need. And no, I don’t care who you vote for, as long as you do your homework and understand what they stand for.)

Oh, and are you registered to vote? Check at Vote.org

 

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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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Rule #1 — Get to Source

Rule #1 — Get to Source

Get to source.

It’s the first rule in my book. It’s helped me make tough decisions and wade through grief. It’s helped me stay focused in my work, and balanced on the roller coaster of the last two years.

Today I was reminded it’s also a good policy when you’re reading and sharing information. The news lately wavers from the disastrous to the unbelievable, as our country convulses politically and philosophically. And people are quick to share … all too often without getting to the source of the news.

It’s human nature to latch on to information that confirms our world view — or the world view we many think we should have because the people around us do. So it’s also human nature to hit that like button and share without digging deeper.

How refreshing to have a friend text back today and say, “Hey, about that thing you shared with me … do you have the original source? I want to learn more.”

It was a good reminder for me to slow down a bit and be more thorough in my own sharing, verifying the the sources and context of the conversation.

The news is coming fast and furious these days. So check the source … and then check in with yourself. Are you sitting with the information you consume, letting your authentic self feel it out for truth?

It’s okay to have an opinion that doesn’t agree with mine, or theirs, or anybody. Just make sure it’s honestly your opinion. Our truth will resonate within our hearts when we take the time to get to source.

On the other hand, pardon me if I don’t share your enthusiasm, if your opinion sits as ugliness in my heart. That’s the way it is sometimes. I choose to surround myself with the resonance that works for my heart. Anything less would indeed be inauthentic.

We don’t have to believe as our spouse or sisters or brothers or kids or neighbors do, or our co-workers, clergy, politicians or anyone else. To live a truly authentic life, we must take time to be still, to listen to our hearts, decide how we feel, then choose how to act on those feelings … or not.

Get to source. Oh, and register to vote 😉

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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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