Thursday, August 30, 2018

because there was Mike

Good morning world...

Do you ever find that sometimes your "bucket" is running on low?  That there isn't enough good stuff to make it all make sense?

Working for the Y can be draining.  Not in a bad way, but in the sense that you are often outputting so much love and energy and you simply aren't sure if your life's work is truly making a difference.  Add to that the challenges of working at a true downtown Y, where most of the folks are not there to form relationships but to work on their goals.  They are just like the rest of us, ruled by the clock.  Rushing from point A to point B and squeezing in moments that celebrate their life goals.

There are normal challenges and events that make it seem like you are putting out fires and dealing with all of the idiosyncrasies of dealing with the public at large.

There are days that you question is it worth it.  Heck there are months were you wonder did I make the right career choice?

And then just when you feel like you've given everything you have, like your being literally sucked dry of feelings, emotions, the last drop of anything you have left to give... that is the moment when tears will fill your eyes.  Not out of sadness or despair, but because something slaps you in the face and says "I was here all along, I just wasn't ready to show myself".

The tears that filled my eyes a few days ago weren't from exhaustion, frustration or even from being overwhelmed - although this month has definitely given me far more than I am sure I have the ability to handle gracefully.  Those tears were from a simple text message.

One of my B's leaving for the day, sent me a message.  We'd received a call while I was away from the Y at an event.  One of our members had passed away.  She needed me to call her.

It was actually the second one in a week that I'd been notified of.  The first one had left us with the transition and found a new Y home.  His death saddened me, but it wasn't a personal blow to my heart.  I knew who he was, had spoken to him pretty regularly, but hadn't seen him in over a year. He was a leaf in my life, one that had blown away.

But this one.

This one made me stop in the middle of another Y's lobby, surrounded by strangers and gasp. It stole my breath and felt like a razor sharp knife straight to my heart.  It was not a loss I was ready or able to deal with.

Mike was special.  In far more ways than I realized.  We selfishly enjoyed the difference he made in our lives.  His presence was like that drink of icy cold water on the hottest day of the year.  You wanted to be near him.  You wanted to be the one that got to walk him through the building and laugh with him as he joyously went through life.

We were very protective of our dear friend.  No, he was part of the fabric of our Y family.  He was one of us.  He wasn't a leaf, or even a branch that could break away, he was part of our root system.  Mike and his wife joined our Y family a long time ago.  She reminded me at the visitation yesterday that I was one of the first people they met when they joined the Y. They weathered the closing of Marquette, left us briefly for a more accessible Y after that, but very quickly returned home to Downtown.  She'd had to quit coming for a bit, she had family responsibilities, but not Mike.

Mike was there like clock work, unless he was traveling for one of his many adventures, mostly working with the blind or visiting friends and family.  We made sure his call a ride didn't miss him, ranted at them for making him stand in the brutal heat or bitter cold.

Mike laughed with us, cried with us, celebrated and mourned.  He helped us raise money to continue our mission and had already committed to helping us again this year. He had the wittiest sense of humor and we loved that he knew us by our steps, voices, cologne.  Mike didn't come with us to our new location because of the beauty, the colors or the sparkling clean state of the art facility.  Mike came because that is where his Y family went.  He never saw it. 

Mike was blind.

No. Mike's eyes were blind.  Mike's was probably the most seeing person I have ever met.  He saw the good in people, he saw joy, sorrow, excitement, fear, he saw people for who they truly were.  He was a magnet. 

That couldn't have been truer for me than when I read his obituary.  And the conversations I've had since then. 

Even though his visits were less frequent lately, he was battling some serious health issues, he never failed to call us.  He always let us know where he was and that he was okay and thinking about us.  We knew that he made our lives incredibly special. We didn't realize how important we were to him. 

The last line in his obituary directed people to give to his favorite charities, the Downtown Y was one of them.  As I met family that I hadn't met before in my quest to provide some comfort and pay respects to his sweet wife, I was overwhelmed by the number of times I heard - "look, it's Y people!" We were thanked so many times for all that we had meant to him.  And I was there to thank them for sharing so much of him with us!

As I approached his beautiful casket to say my final goodbyes, my heart heavy, my eyes filled with tears I didn't want to shed.  I was overwhelmed.  There was a large picture of our dear Mike, wearing one of his favorite Y t-shirts.  His massive collection is being made into quilts.  His family knew and understood his love for the Y and that was how they chose to remember him.

He will always be a light for me.  I will challenge myself forever to see people the way he did - with my heart!  And I will try to honor him by being the light and love for other's around me.

Mike is still filling my bucket, still reminding me that what I've chosen as my life's work is worthy and fulfilling.

Thank you Mike!  Rest my friend, you've earned it.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


The sun is just starting to peek above the trees.  It's promising to be a hot and sunny day, radically different from the rains and storms of yesterday.  I honestly could handle another day like yesterday, we simply don't have enough of those. And personally I thrive on a dark, dreary stormy day. 
Hubs is getting ready to go to work.  One of his branches is having a work day.  I have told him repeatedly to go easy, but knowing Hubs, he won't. One can hope. 

Today my should's and wanna's are fighting one another.  I know mentally, I need a "me" day.  I need to rest, reset and maybe just make some soap all day.  I'm trying to sort out how to make all the bits line up frankly.  I have work chores, home chores and wanna enjoy life activities.  And sadly, the same 24 hours as everyone else.

I've already done a couple of the chores, yes it's not even 7 am, yes I might be crazy. So I feel ultimately I will do a little on all of them.  A bit of a mix and match to make the most of the few hours Hubs will be gone.  

But first I am stealing a few precious moments to simply relax, write and drink my hot coffee while watching the sun creep up.  I know that I will need to mow early today - another long stretch of heat warnings starts at noon.  And I am not at all about to give myself a heat stroke mowing that darn hill. 

I'm starting to balance out.  I am starting to feel excitement to starting my new role.  It's like when I was a military kid/spouse and we got our new assignment.  A new "required opportunity".  Initially, it was traumatic - hmmm wonder how many military dependents suffer PTSD - anyway... that first week or two was so traumatic, you had to leave your home, your friends, your work, your school, your city, your state and sometimes even your country.  It was always heartbreaking.  Then before you knew it, a bit of time had passed, you'd mourned and grieved.  And somewhere along the way, you started to explore information about where you were headed.  What it was like, the people, the weather, the culture.  You read books, watched shows, sorry it was pre-internet so there was no Google... you found maps, pictures, anything that connected you.  Sometimes as a military kid you got a pen pal, that was always fun.  While working on transitioning, there was a ready made friend waiting, sometimes it didn't work out quite that way. 

I'm a couple of weeks away from where I was when I found out I was moving.  I've been to a few meetings.  I've walked around and met a few frontline staff.  There are a few that I know.  I smiled when I saw my old pool table, sitting proudly in the youth lobby.  It's not a new Y for me, I started there as a volunteer what seems like a lifetime ago.  Much has changed since those days. It will be different. 

Yet, as I am wrapping up my life at my beloved MX, I am starting to feel the excitement, the desire to set up my office (although I have asked for a different color of paint - bold colors are a bit stressful for me). I am starting to dip my toes in.  I am starting to transition.  I've even caught myself more than once saying "my" or "our" when referring to the new Y.  I have faith that my replacement will take care of my building and I am working on learning as much as I can about where I am going.  While at the same time focusing on closing all of the chapters of where I have been. 

I've relied on tarot cards, prayers, friends and family to reassure myself that this is a good thing.  My girl, who is always up for change of any kind cannot believe I was so stressed and not eagerly excited.  My boy, who is much more like me, understands.  Hubs is just excited I'm going to his old building I think. 

Me... I'm getting there...

In the meantime, there are budgets, presentations, and reports at work, at home there are carpets to clean, laundry, cars to vacuum and seats to extract, dusting and tidying abounds.  And then on the wanna do, there are multiple bars of soap needing to be made, there is alpaca wool to be spun, quilts to put on the frame and sooner or later I might actually clean and unpack my sewing room.  There are dreams of projects that will have to wait just a bit longer.  

Has life always been this busy and complicated, or have I allowed it to sort of accumulate? 

Sunday, August 19, 2018


Muscles hurt, deep down almost to the bone.

It's a good hurt.  The bone weary kind that comes from good honest hard work.

Hubs and I have been on a mission this weekend.  He spent so much time helping our girl.  She is changing her world around.  So many things that have needed done, she is tackling it all, mostly by herself.  We are a bit too busy to give her unlimited time. But we love being able to help her... we love sharing the joy of being family.

I chose this weekend to work on our home.  I've been struggling with so many things this year, that I think for a bit I just stopped caring.  No energy, no drive, no desire to participate in the day to day of life.

I spent 4 hours today simply doing laundry, ironing, sorting through closets and drawers.  It felt amazing. It felt like I was reconnecting with my life.  While I was gently pressing creases in Hubs work slacks and ironing what felt like a mountain of Harley shirts, he was busy helping our daughter remove a play set that was rotting away.  In a hurry before the baby fell got hurt in her hurry to grow up and explore her surroundings.

Time has been spent cleaning, lifting stones, cleaning food and snot off the baby's face.  She's got a bit of congestion going on so lunch was interesting.

Hubs and I spent time entertaining her and tracking down all the gallons of stain that our girl needed for her current project. She is such a sweetie and listening to her using the few words she's mastered and the ones she is still trying to learn just makes me giggle.

I finally learned to work the Instapot... well maybe... I did master dog food and the best part... they loved it.  Mr. Fussy - Gator - munched down a bowl and a half. Although one piece of broccoli did find a way back out.  Okay... he spit it out.  It was hysterical watching him chomp, chew and spit it.  I didn't know a dog could literally spit, but he did.  Evidently, he is related to former President Bush - he doesn't like broccoli and he is not going to eat it!

The fact that both of them ate it, filled me to over flowing with joy.  Both of them have been battling stomach issues for over a week.  I hate to see them suffering and I always question the food "by-products" they pass off as real food.  I shouldn't have to coax my boys to eat their dinner.  They should want to eat it.  Although I will admit that my stomach was doing absolute flip flops with that liver.  EWWWW!

Our girl fixed us dinner as we were preparing dinner for her.  I promised a grandson lasagna (his favorite) as a house warming present, it's just as easy to make multiples so I did!  One for the girls and one for us tomorrow night when one of my B's is here. We are not doing exceptional transitioning to vegetarian meals, but that is just fine, for now.

Walking back through the door tonight, I was mesmerized by how much like a home our house smells tonight. We've been eating out far too often.  I haven't had the time or energy to cook.  Tonight between the lasagna, the Greek Chicken from the girls and ironically the dog food.  It smells homey. You can actually smell the love.

Well, the cicada's are singing and my bone weary body is calling for an early night, or is that the glass of wine?

Either way, it's time to call it quits for the day.... my pillow is calling, I'm sure that is what I hear...

Saturday, August 18, 2018


The house is still, if I listen very carefully I can hear sweet Hubs and the boys softly snoring upstairs.  Hubs has some classical music playing low.  I'm sure it was to block out all of the noise that I have been making for over an hour. 

I have spent some time on my home today, and it feels wonderful!  Actually, I've done a lot of things that are centering and lifting me up.  I can almost feel Mercury retrograde slipping away. It's definitely been a time of change and transition for us.

Hard to believe it's been two weeks since Hubs had his stroke.  Other than being a bit more tired and the persistent headache you can hardly tell.  He's convinced that everyone can tell, that it's very obvious, that he is somehow less than he was two weeks ago.  They can't, it's not and he isn't.  But he will have to figure that out on his own.

He is still Hubs.  His smile is the same, his wicked sense of humor is completely intact and he's still the amazing, loving man he's always been.  So he's a bit tired, aren't we all.  There are days that I can't make it as long as he does.  And truth be told, it's not really different than it was before.

As his medication starts to lower his blood pressure and he gets more restful sleep.  I am sure that he will feel his old self before long at all.

I have been so far behind on everything lately.  Our home has simply felt like more unfinished business.  The boys have been sick, so I have been spending all my time at home cleaning up messes and feeling overwhelmed.

Today I started not feeling overwhelmed. 

We bought a carpet cleaner and I have now officially cleaned all the carpet except the stairs and the man cave.  I'm too tired to go any further so it will wait until tomorrow. 

I've accomplished so much today, I can rest tonight feeling like I have made a difference in our home and yard.

I don't want Hubs to push it, so I have been doing the lions share of the bigger chores.  I don't mind, I actually love mowing the lawn, particularly when it isn't brutally hot.  And I always do the laundry.  I even managed to get the dishwasher loaded and ran without him rushing in to rearrange it.  It's something he is FAMOUS - or rather infamous for.

I'm finally starting to be excited about my new Y.  I do love new things, I might thrive on them.   And this is a pretty decent sized change for me.  I will be taking on a building that has youth programming, a pool, kids (yeah they seem to come with the "programming"), senior programming and even a skate park.  It feels like a crazy big leap... It wasn't something I had even thought of.  I was perfectly happy with my team in my little branch.  I will miss them, my members and the community that has been home for over a decade.

But I am ready to embrace the change.  I'm ready to stretch my wings out and take the next steps.

It's just so different. 

My daughter made a comment today while we were running around with her, helping her move the trailer to our youngest grandson's new house.  She said, "how can you move on with a new life when there are still things unfinished from your old life" - or something pretty close to that.  Maybe that is where I am at.  I'm not being as radical as she is, but I feel like I am trying to sort out all the bits of the past and start fresh.  I have a month to get my hands around what is going on in totality. 

It felt wonderful to work on the house until exhausted.  It gave me energy and purpose to research and buy the items needed to make my boys nutritious food. To plan a few meals and catch up on a few chores.  It's been a blessed day.

Tonight as my eyes get heavy and my legs are asking me what I was thinking.  I feel like the fog is starting to life.  Like laughter and joy are allowed.  I feel acceptance and hope.

It's been a time of many changes, this year has felt overwhelming.  Completely.  Yet, we are still standing.  Things have shifted and changed.  We haven't wanted the changes, tears have fallen, hearts have broken.  Wounds opened, some healed. 

It's okay to be hopeful and thankful... it's okay to move forward with life.... I've been gifted with a pineapple, shared meals with families and friends, shared good news, sad news and comforted where I could, celebrated when possible... it's been a busy week.  A busy time forward...


Sunday, August 12, 2018


I'm taking deeper breaths today. 

My sweet Hubs is feeling so much better.  He looks great and will go back to work tomorrow.  You can't even tell that a week ago he had a major medical emergency.  It was a wake up call.  He's done great slowing down.  And for a change he didn't even open his computer to do any work.  I am probably more shocked about that than the fact that he has given up tobacco - again!

His smile is back to being even and he can even say fifty-fifty without slurring.  Yep... I am a pretty darn happy woman!

The past three days have been a bit been all about normalizing.  About looking at life as it is presented and looking at how to move forward.  How to normalize the changes.

Hubs is taking some major steps on his new path.  And I am so proud of him. I know it isn't easy to give things up.  Especially things that have been a part of your life for a very long time.  Like decades.  We've been doing some walking, resting and general us time.  It's been wonderful.

The B's came over on Friday, we had a fabulous dinner, introducing them to one of our favorite places.  Joking with the Hubs, seems he would do anything to crash girls night. Including end up in the hospital.  He's a welcome addition to the B's, so I didn't mind him being there at all. 

I needed my B's this week. It's been a tough year and the past week has not made it easier.  I needed that laughter and silliness.  The deep conversations and the shallow giggles.  I am so blessed that I have both of them in my life.  They balance me.  My B's are my most recent sister's by heart.  I have a few others.  I don't make friends easily, I am fairly certain that I have trust issues.  If you have become one of my Sister's by Heart... well plain and simple - that is what you will always be.

My other two are far away, but easily reached by phone or email.  Each of them is a part of my make up, my very being.  I think that is one of the things I will miss the most, is not seeing the final one daily. All of us will be in different spots.  But it's okay, we will always be connected by that invisible bond that made us sisters by heart.

We sat out back and soaked up the earthiness of a warm summer evening.  Sipping our beverages of choice and talking about hopes, fears, the past and dreams. Upcoming journey's and changes.  Grand babies and sweet Hubs and the scare he gave us all.

One of my B's had to leave early, she was off to do good - she is honestly far too good for any of us.  Always the first one there with a kind word, compassionate hug or simply a helping hand.  I wonder if everyone else that encounters her realizes that they are in the presence of pure good?  She's endured more than most of us will ever live to see... yet she always has a smile on her face and love and compassion in her heart.

My other B, she stayed the night.  Morning found us all sitting on the deck, drinking coffee and watching the sun rise.  I had to go to work for a bit, but she and her half of the Hubs definitely had a fabulous time in my absence.  We laughed and cried, we were honest and philosophical, I don't know that we solved the worlds problems, but we definitely had opinions about it all.

I was greedy this weekend.  I soaked up the love from these two beautiful women that balance my life. I know that I didn't give back nearly what I received.  They both tend to mother me a bit, this weekend, I willingly accepted the gift.

After dropping her back in the city, Hubs willingly took me to the psychic fair.  I needed my cards read, I was grasping at straws as I reached for balance.  Amazingly, it seemed without knowing my trauma's she was able to tell me what they were and how I could learn and grow from them.  It was a blessing.  As she talked my heart felt lighter, my fears carried away and courage to face the new grew stronger. I picked an Angel card reading this time.  I needed positive and light.  I needed affirmation and strength.

After a week spent in flux, with far too many moving parts, I am calm.  My sweet Hubs is doing well, better than anyone could have imagined. My MX will be okay without me (I don't think I doubted that it would be okay so much as would I?) and I do have the ability to move on to the newest phase.  I didn't go seeking this change, it came to me.  It must mean that I am meant to follow this new path. All around me are signs that I was ignoring (I'm not sure it that was intentional or not). 

Once I became aware, I also became calm.

The change will still be hard.  I am sure there are more tears that will fall from my eyes.  But my heart and mind are open finally to what is waiting ahead. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

still waters run deep...

What a week, what a month, what a year.

I'm spinning internally.  It seems that this year was definitely about change, serious change for me.

I lost my Dad.

I've lost dear friends.

And now I am getting ready to face yet another change.

Being a military brat/spouse for most of my life, this past 15 years has been a bit unusual.  I've developed friendships, roots, a commonality with those around me. Stability.

I mean yes, I've changed jobs, I've moved houses and well states - but only because where I live is a border area.

I've changed roles both in my personal and professional life.

I've changed. A lot!

Yet some things have remained solid and steady.

Right now I feel a bit like a whiny baby.  There are big changes in my professional world. 


And that scared little military brat that loves the challenges of a new adventure is excited.  But the woman that I have become is heart broken at the loss of the "family" and stability that I have finally gotten. 

It's time for me to take on a new role.  I am not sure that I was ready to walk away from the old one.  But I am not sure if it personal or professional. It'a all intertwined with so many things that aren't mine to share.  So much of it is twisting and turning in my head and heart.

There has been so much change.

Over my birthday weekend my sweet Hubs ended up in the hospital.  He's okay, he will be just fine.  But he has to make some choices with his own life.  He has to decide that those lifestyle changes are okay.  I can't do it for him.  Despite the fact that I would like to.  I've tried for years to convince him that some choices were not good for him, this week someone else agreed with me, loud and clear.

In the midst of this, fate stepped in and changed my course professionally. I have a new path to follow.  I will still be connected to what I love, but I will have a new address, soon.  And a team that I have built and loved will have a new person in my role.  I hate to say a new leader, I don't consider that who I am.  I have a great team of people that I get the honor and privilege of working hand and hand with to make a difference.

When my new role starts, I will have a new group of people.  A new, yet same path.

The shock is easing.  I love a new challenge.  I know that in order to grow that change is necessary.  I am currently wondering what lessons I need to learn.  Why has this year taken so much away. 

When I took on Downtown, I was able to call my Dad, tell him.  He understood, not only my excitement but my fears.  Now as I get ready to change again, I know that I cannot call him and listen to his halting speech help me sort it out. For the first time since 2007 I am leaving behind people that I adore and consider my family. 

Oh I know that they won't be far.  That I can go back to visit them.  That they will still be my family, but it feels a little like a divorce.  A little like if I did that I would be stepping on someone else's toes.  I also know me.  I know who I am and how I operate. 

I will probably be a bit quieter.

I will probably need some serious time to get my feet on solid ground.  I have a Hubs to heal and a whole lot of internal growth that needs to happen. 

The changes are feeling far too overwhelming right now. Personally, professionally, completely.

As my Facebook feed fills with positive message and hope (quiet by design) I am looking for that balanced happy place... I am mourning losses mine and others, and I am struggling...

Interesting start to my 53rd year... 

have you tried...

I am learning.   It's a late day for me and I am enjoying the solitude of the morning.  I am working on bringing some balance back ...