Yellow Living Room...

When I was growing up, I had goals. Plans. Ideas. I had a road map for my life. I had expectations of what my life would look like, including my husband and children. In my dream, I pictured my husband and I living in a white colonial with bright shutters and door. We would have a large sunny yellow living room that looked out onto a beautiful cottage garden. I pictured us sitting on matching sofas with our coffee cups, listening to music; all while reading the Sunday paper.  I have no idea where my children were in this dream; but I had them! That was my idea of domestic bliss as seen in my 12 year old mind.  I could create my own stability, calm and security. When I thought of this dream; I always smiled, because I felt loved and cherished.

Children of divorce never feel settled; we are always on the move, sharing time with all the individuals we love. The dream became more of a mantra after losing both my father and stepfather at 15. I never for a second thought I wouldn't go to college. I had to; I had to support myself. I worried about losing my husband, so the dream became a mantra. He couldn't smoke, not be a heavy drinker or do drugs. Smoking killed the two men I loved. In my eyes drugs and booze just increased the chances for mortality. I would make THIS yellow living room world. It would be mine. It would be my reality. As I look back on my 23 years of marriage;  Jeffrey and I have created that life. I have stability. I have calm and security. I'm deliciously happy, in my soul, in my heart and most of all in my head.

I need that world. Jeffrey and I have had some dark times in our early marriage, 22 is young to jump into marriage without tools. I didn't grow up with good marriage models, so I had to teach myself, I learned on the job how to be married. God Bless Jeff, he just needed to learn I was beautifully high maintenance, that isn't a criticism; it's just truth. I needed to talk all the time; about everything, and he just needed to put his arm around me, love me, and tell me it was going to be fine.

I needed to learn that Jeff was exactly what he appeared; a good, honest, trustworthy man. That he loved me and I was good-enough to be loved. Jeff also had to learn to negotiate and to communicate. But, what kept us together was the yellow living room; we both really wanted the same things. We wanted that safe place where we were loved and that we both were all in, not kind of in; but all in.

We learned as a couple what our currency was; what was our truth, what were our deal breakers as a couple and where was the wiggle room. We also created our own tool box as a couple, the short hand that worked for us to make our life work in the ups and downs of the journey. We are very honest and direct, but we do it with humor and love. Our toolbox is the same as the one I have shared with you and it's why we are resilient.

Resilience is the superpower that helps you through the tough times. We are hinged on faith and one another. Everything else is a bi-product of that. God and Jeff are always at the table with me, then it's the Beauties, then it's everyone else. When we work, it all works. For me there is nothing without them. That is how I remain resilient, I focus on that image, that feeling of the yellow living room and the visual of sitting with Jeff and the Divine having a meal talking it all through, laughing and sharing the breaking of bread.

That image and concept is how I stay strong on the Pilgrimage. I use the tools that we have spent Lent honing, shaping and sharpening. When you learn to treat the stupid shit that happens in your life as irritants, and foolishness as obstacles to your happiness you learn how to pivot, to knock down and get around them. That is how you keep your eye on what truly matters...

For me that is enjoying the exquisite everyday moments with my Beauties. This week included a fantastic family meal at the Beauties' favorite white table cloth restaurant on the beach. Also included some moments during Holy Week when I wanted to flick my Beauties for not getting-it during Stations of the Cross. But, more often than not, we had delightful and touching faith filled moments during Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. We had our first ever lovely California Easter Dinner with Jeffrey's parents, a backyard Bocce tournament with Norah and her "Poppie" (which is her grandad), we dyed eggs, made some ridiculous good cupcakes, we stayed up too late, got up too early. But even with Norah getting yet another nasty cold, and my pain being excruciating, Ian having a seasonal allergy attack, we had much more joy than sadness.

So that is where I will leave this series of posts on Resilience...

You CAN become more resilient.

It takes effort, practice using the tools and the willingness to never surrender.

But, the more you do, the stronger you get, until it's your super power too!



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Photo Credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal


Can you remember the most important school teacher in your life? I can, she came over for cake and tea this morning. My most influential, loving and wisest teacher is Mrs. P.  I have had many amazing teachers in my life, but this special woman, well she helped shape my soul.  I met Mrs. P in 4th grade when she became my teacher. For the next 4 years she was my teacher at school, but she became a life long mentor that always provided me a soft place to fall. Always. Mrs.P was the one who helped me dust off a bad day.

She taught me math and religion for the next 4 years. Now remember it was the late 70's and early 80's, a small catholic school, I was the only kid of divorced parents. I have never been the strongest student and I was also a girl who struggled with math.

But it all worked out because, Mrs. P is the best math teacher ever! 

Mrs. P says she would get a knot in her stomach when she would grade my papers. For good reason, inevitably, whenever I bombed a test, I would fling myself down, my long brown hair covering the desk, sometimes I was crying (most of the time)--at the sheer drama of my grade. Poor Mrs. P, why she loved me is a mystery!

When my mom had a brain tumor and was in the hospital, I lived with her family for a week. She was also the first call we made when my step-dad died. She rushed from a High School parent meeting to sit on my sofa and love me through those first difficult hours, while my Mom informed my grandmother that her son had died.

The difficult moments, Mrs. P was with me. 

We have maintained a close relationship for years, she was ring side for my happiest moments too!  She is my confirmation sponsor, did a reading at our wedding and was present for the Baptisms of the Beauties.

Without question she shaped my faith life. Mama G (her other nickname) took the responsibility of being my sponsor seriously and has been a guide, a place of comfort, and a spiritual home.  I feel blessed to have this bond, this relationship with her, she has watched me grow, from little girl with ponytail, to wife and mother. Along the way our relationship has grown too, we now are two women with life experiences to share, discuss, celebrate; the joys and sorrows of this journey called life. 

I could spend days telling you of the math facts, the religion foundation that she gave me, the bible stories, apostles songs and scripture references that she taught me. Little gems I have taught the Beauties. I can't go to Stations of the Cross without thinking of the years she took me to daily Mass and taught me the significance of the Stations.  I was in Church with my sweet Irish Prince this year and realized that I was in 4th grade when I had the same "moment" when I understood what the Stations really meant. Mrs. P had that with me years ago.

I'm struggling to find the words, how to describe the feeling, the delight of being in the same room with someone who l love so completely. Who's hands can't hold mine enough, who's embrace I can't get enough of and whose departure I delay as long as possible.  

I realized today that, what I feel when I'm with MG, is the Divine. It's the glimpse of the perfection that awaits us all in heaven. When you are with a person that makes your joy well overflow, the water of life and love that can't run dry, that is an internal spring, providing you joy, hope and a fire of love that won't extinguish. This love allows you to smile even when the topic is painful, that sheer joy; that is bliss.

That is the taste, the glimpse of heaven on Earth.

When you meet God in these moments you understand profoundly, that God is waiting for us. Patiently. These are the gifts that make the journey easier. Makes the sting of the hard days sweeter.  It is the hand in yours when you are exhausted and the hand of joy when it is good; the sense of perfection that is still to come.

These gifts, these relationships, they are spiritual food, too. Do you realize that you are walking with God? How can we forget, "when two or more are gathered," we are not alone. God is present. This is another opportunity to meet the Divine. The Spirit is with us.

When you realize, that is what you are receiving, a pull, a yearning for more... That is God calling all of us for a deeper relationship. That what He is offering is even more.

That is why we have a core circle. Our women, our sisters help us. We dispense with the pretense--don't we?

Who are these people in your life? What friendships make you better? What person do you have a tough time leaving? Just one more cup of tea, one more story, one more hug and kiss? Who is that for you? You never tire, you just have a peacefulness that can't lapse, a smile for days.

This is just another connection to the Divine.

MG is one of my treasures, she taught me how to access the Divine. She is my first Spiritual Director, she pushed my faith along. The reason that I see Christ in others. She taught me, showed me, made God real and tangible. Alive for me. She is just one of the gifts God has sent me.

Do you have more than one of these gifts?

I bet if you sit and think about it you realize that you do... That your network is deeper than you realize... Connect to that power supply, nurture and develop these relationships. They are gifts.

We often forget gifts come in many forms. What may surprise you is that the most religious of your circle may not be the connector for you. Maybe it's the friend who likes to walk in the woods, or the friend who bakes the best bread, pushes you to run harder, shares with you the best books, or makes the best cup of tea.  Remember everyone doesn't connect with God in the same way... Think outside of the box. There are many ways to find peace and connect to the Divine... Gifts are amazing, aren't they?!

Your homework: reach out to that special someone. Go old school and mail a card this week, make a phone call, tell that special person in your life what they mean to you. Make the connections. Meet the Divine. Your day will be better because of it! And so will theirs! And report back... I want to hear from you.

Now, I'm off to find some stamps!

Namaste my friends.



photo credit:

Wilson X