Archive for June, 2016

We Go This Way But Once…Lessons From A Gallon of Milk

June 30th, 2016 | no comments

I’ve been revisiting some of my writing over the past number of weeks. I find that it is helpful and grounding to return to  your starting place. It can help you renew your motivation and purpose, explore if it still rings true for you, celebrate how much you’ve grown as a person, or just sit with your emotions for a little bit.

It’s been a helpful exercise for me.  The months have flown by in this very busy year, and I can sometimes lose sight of the higher vision as I try to complete the day to day to-do list. Returning to my writing helps me work through my emotions.  This time of year brings forth a plethora of feelings as I remember my son Stephen, and reflect on how I have lived in the years since his passing.

Below is an excerpt from my book, Just One Little Thing.  I think it kind of sums it up.

Time passes in a way we must respect.  The days are long but the years are short.

So we must live.  Live out loud.  Love as much as we can.  Laugh every hour.  And always know we go this way but once.

 

 

June 23rd-Sour Milk

Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.

~James Dean~
This morning, my son and I were chatting in the kitchen. I was packing his lunch for hockey camp, and he was pouring himself a glass of milk to wash down his peanut butter toast. The conversation was animated, and he was laughing between bites. Suddenly, something caught his eye, and his mood changed in an instant.

He was looking at the milk and then quietly said,

“The milk……It expires on the same day  Stephen died.”

His words caught in his throat, and made this mother stop in her tracks on a sunny morning. You see, we knew July 4th was coming. We’ve talked about it, as a family, and with our grief counselor. We’ve made a plan and we know what we will be doing on that day. But there was something about that darn milk announcing it.

Our family is only a jug of milk’s life span away from being without Stephen for a full year. There is something about that reality that hits us both as we stare at the skim milk in the glass, almost like the white liquid is the sand of time itself.

So, we talk about it, over milk and peanut butter. We both think Stephen would not want us to focus on the day we lost him, but rather look at all the days we had him. We know we will always think about July 4th differently, but we also know that it is our choice whether we make it a hard day or one of celebration.

Later in the day, my husband asks me, “Can you believe a year has passed already?”

No, I do not believe it has been a year, because in many ways, I feel that our time has stopped, or has been redefined as life “before” and “after.” I can’t believe that I am a jug of milk’s lifespan away from a full year.

And now, eleven months later, I’m watching the milk in the fridge, as the fat free liquid counts down the last days of the toughest but most awake year of my life.

We are not as fortunate as the milk. The bottom of your foot does not bear an expiration date.

None of us knows when it will be our time to go. Unlike the milk, the future is not as certain for us. It could come after many years of living, or it could come tomorrow as we mow the lawn.

That is why we must live each moment like it was our last.

Today, I am thankful for sour milk.  Making it real for me.

 

It’s Not Enough to Be Shocked and Saddened Anymore…We Must BE the Love and Prayers

June 14th, 2016 | no comments

 

#bethelove

#bethelove

I know I’m not alone.  Sunday’s news from Orlando just gutted me.

I feel numb.  I am feel angry.  I am just pissed off about some of the exhausting social media rhetoric that has been trending for the past 48 hours.

But mostly, I just feel saddened. Looking at the pictures of those lost is just absolutely heartbreaking.  Young people, just starting out, with the promise of a bright future, cut short by a madman. I am saddened for the survivors, who will forever carry the memories of this tragic night, their lives being forever marked as before and after this night.

And then I think about the families, beginning the journey of grief, trying to make sense of the senseless.

Sadly, this has become all too common.  And with the commonality comes this standard and scripted response.  We are shocked and saddened, we are sending love and prayers. Appropriate hashtags are created to ensure our words of comfort are disseminated with the masses.  And then a few days pass…..and something else is trending, and any chance for meaningful change lessens by the minute.

I know we are genuinely shocked and saddened. I know the love and prayers are sincere.

it’s just not enough anymore.

We can no longer stand by and send love and prayers.  We need to make a daily choice to embody that love, personify those prayers.  We need to live the kind of life that leaves a fingerprint on the hearts of others.  We need to respectfully stand up for those who need us, we need to honor those lost by expecting and ensuring that this country lives up to the all inclusive possibility-filled dream of its founders.

Our prayer need to be one of peace, expressed by turning our back on the hate speak of those who would try to separate us, to make “us” feel like we are different from”them.”

We need to express our love not just through our words, but in our actions. One active expression of love for our country is the act of critical thinking, choosing to truly understand opposing ideas and beliefs so you are better equipped to find common ground.

 

I know it’s complicated.  I know that deciding to live your love and prayers is more challenging than just sending them with a hashtag.  I know it doesn’t solve the complicated problems of terrorism or gun control.  I know it doesn’t bridge the gap between communities, religions or political parties.

But it’s something.  And right now, it’s better than feeling helpless.

Person to person. I commit to be the love and prayers.  And you?

Below, I’ve pasted a blog I wrote in 2012 after the horrific day in Newtown.  I just felt I needed to share this again today.

 

It’s Time For Meaningful Change to Honor Those Lost…

December 18th, 2012 | no comments | Edit

One cannot get through life without pain…What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents to us.

~Bernie S. Siegel~

I’ve tried to focus on the positive.  It is, after all, kind of my thing.  It’s what I do.  I look for the silver linings, I find blessings in the darkest of days.  But this past Friday, I was with the world, as we watched a horrific reality unfold in a quaint town in Connecticut.

It was mind numbing, it was hard to mentally process that something like that could actually be happening.  But sadly, as the day progressed, the dark and grim news was confirmed.  Life for so many families was forever changed.

Since that time, I’ve tried to keep away from some of the coverage, it was simply to difficult to watch. But no matter how hard I tried to keep my distance, I, like so many, find myself drawn back into the dialogue. The faces of the beautiful children etched into my memory, I feel such compassion for the parents and families of the fallen.  I have cried tears for them, knowing they are beginning a journey that no parent ever wants to contemplate.  I remember the physical, “punch you in the gut” kind of pain when you realize your child is gone.  The heaviness that descends on your life, slowing your movements, feeling like a crushing boulder on your shoulders as you try to muddle through.  You put one foot in front of the other, but it is as if you are pulling the weight of the world behind you.

I say this with the greatest of respect, and also with the understanding that I do not completely understand the type of grief that comes from a loss related to this level of violence, an event that puts their grieving hearts on the world’s stage.

So, I pray for them.  I send love and light to them, and hope that the kindness of others allows them brief moments of comfort. I pray that they will  be able to go on. It is truly the only thing I can do.  I am just another Mom, who knows what it is like to bury a child, to try to pick up the crumbled pieces of a life, and try and find a way back to living.

But there’s one more thing.  As citizens, we all have our part to play in what happens next.  We must not let this moment dissipate, and we all have a responsibility to do right by these children and their brave teachers.

We may never figure of the “why” question. People will surmise, they will point fingers in a variety of different directions when trying to determine accountability.  Why did this happen, how did this come to pass, where was God when this happened? Some will blame gun laws, some will blame a failing mental health system, some will blame God. So many questions mulled over in the one hour news shows as they try to come to grips with  something that simply will never make sense.  It will never really ever make sense to a rational mind.

So, I want to ask “What Now?”

It’s time now America.  It’s time now to have a discussion about the American Dream.  It’s time to really open our eyes and start asking ourselves some tough questions about what we really want for this country.  Do we want everyone armed, metal detectors at every school, movie theatre, shopping mall, place of worship or gas station?  Do we want to put measures in place that further separate and alienate ourselves from one another?  Or do we want to take a long hard look at what this country was truly designed to provide and create for its citizens?

If we want to come up with the best decisions, we need not look to the partisan talking points of our politicians.  We need not look to special interest groups for their crafted position statements.  If you want to create a country that lives up to the American Dream, look into the eyes of those children.  Look into the smiling faces of those brave teachers who gave the ultimate selfless sacrifice.  Sit down with the parents, and ask them what should happen now.  Listen to the stories of parents, dreams cut short, visions of graduations and weddings and grandchildren.

It’s time America.  It’s time to take care of our mentally ill, it’s time to look at realistic gun safety, it’s time to stop fighting with each other over political beliefs and preventing this country from growing and evolving.  It’s time to ask where we go from here.  We can’t let the outrage about this event dissipate as it has with others, with no real change being realized.  It’s time to look at each of our children, and honestly ask, “What Do They Deserve?”

As a bereaved parent, I understand how much that “why” question can haunt you.  Making peace with an incomplete answer is the hardest thing I personally have ever had to deal with, and I can only imagine that is compounded for these grieving families.

So, as we try to send love and support to this grieving community, let’s all start having a conversation about “What Now?”  Because something needs to change. We all have an opportunity to have a voice in this discussion, and create a more peaceful country that honors the lives of those lost.

Sending prayers and love to those who are suffering,

Kelly

Random Acts of JOLT-Join the Movement!

June 1st, 2016 | no comments

Each time I perform an act of kindness, a part of me heals.

~Lupi Ngcayisa~

Rough on one side and smooth on the other…just like the balance of life. Place it in your hand, resting between your thumb and index finger and hold it…let it remind you that there is always something to be thankful for, no matter what your circumstance.  

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said that to a random stranger as I handed them a JOLT Blessing Stone.  But each time, I walk away smiling.

At first, when you place it in their hands, they don’t know what to say. Why is this stranger giving me this?  The reason is simple.

I am broken.  We all are.  I realized that when I started writing about loss. We all share this human experience, with the beautiful joys, and the devastating losses.  No one is left out.

I approached my loss by trying to find gratitude for what remained, even when my heart was breaking.  And without a doubt, that approach saved me.

I believe that when bad things happen we have a choice.  To open or close our hearts. I decided to open mine, sharing my experience, hoping to help another on their own journey.

This approach did not change the pains of loss.  But it did alleviate some of the suffering.  It allowed me to remember my beautiful son in a way I feel he would be proud of…with gratitude.

The Blessing Stones are a tangible piece of hope. I give them away to people I meet on my travels, hoping that it brings them a little light into their day.

I want you to get in on the act.  I am giving away  two blessing stones for FREE.  You pay for the shipping.  Keep one, and find your person….and spread some hope.  Think about it…I bet you know one person right now who needs it.

The world is a complicated place. Help me spread some kindness and hope.  To request your free blessing stones, click here.

With Gratitude,

Kelly