How has age hit me?

 

The social media world is covered with the ‘How hard did age hit you challenge?’ and I have to be honest it is neat to see people way back when Facebook really became big next to a snapshot of the present. Some people have looked younger today than 10 years ago and others look far older than 10 years ago. It makes me think, what did they do differently? I also think the filters were nonexistent only 10 years ago- so you were forced to look your age… in fact filters are a product of all of this sharing on social media and the desire to have things look perfect. I remember back when my first pictures were loaded from our digital camera, taking many moments to upload multiple pictures for family and friends to see. I don’t think my brain could have imagined how far technology has come today- it took me years to come to terms with digital pictures, they were so intangible- fast forward 10 years and it is all different.

I was curious to see my profile picture from 10 years back so I dove right in. Man 10 years is a long time, and a moment all together. Isn’t it funny how time works, speedy slow? I guess it isn’t a surprise, I remind myself the while you are living in something or through something it is sslllooowww feeling, but in retrospect it was only a moment in your history. I am not discrediting those moments; however, those moments can alter the rest of your life here on Earth, but when you can stand back and look at the time it ticked by at the same speed time always ticks by at.

Looking at all of these pictures and reflecting really got my brain a thinking… I guess it jostled some of my cobwebs and made me dig a little. I saw a lot of people loving their today snapshots more than their past, others wishing they could relive that youth and wrinkles time and some others who didn’t want to acknowledge the older version because she hadn’t been through what the ‘now snapshot’ had. Each different post made me think broader… and try to gather my own self in this. Where did I lie? Was I the kind of person who wished for the softer, wrink-less version of me??? Did I prefer this 2019 version of me? Do I hate the parts between, do I wish I could change any of it???

I came to this conclusion.

It all comes back to my belief that “Age is a privilege not gifted to all”.  I love 2008 ‘me’, 2019 ‘me’ and every bit of ‘me’ between and before. I have yet to meet future ‘me’, but I imagine I will love her as well. I cannot be ‘me’ without every.single.little.and.big.thing in all of my history. I think back to 2008 me…

She was naïve and soft. She had yet to be broken, to be so hurt that she couldn’t stand up. 2008 me had no idea, and I mean no idea, that a marriage contract meant nothing to some… that a person you love so much could get into a car and drive to another woman. She didn’t know any of that. She didn’t know how to love herself, how to walk into a room and own it. 2008 Erin thought she was stupid and worthless… that her value was small because her work felt small and focused on feeding, napping, teaching, cleaning and building little people. She didn’t know she was strong and determined, she had been told that she was fat and her vocabulary was that of a 3-year-old. She was scared of money and being alone. 2008 me lived like trust and respect were things we just gave. She was scared of different and lived in her little bubble of safety. In 2008 she was blissfully unaware that her firstborn daughter would be diagnosed with cancer, and would die. She had no idea the extent of pain and loss that the world had in store for her. She had less wrinkles and better hair… she even wore sunscreen. She attended weddings like it was her social scene, right along with her then husband. 2008 Erin talked about her future, her girls proms, weddings… middle school, grandbabies and sunsets on Lake Ontario with her forever faithful husband…

Part of me thought… Erin, what if I could tell her, what if I could warn her? What if it doesn’t have to hurt so much… what if I could prevent those days of not being able to stand up? What if I could prepare for the missing of Madeline? What if, what if… but what if doesn’t work. She/I needed to be that naïve girl with low self-esteem. She/I needed to think my value was based on my vocabulary and weight… I needed to think I was just doing dumb work feeding and wiping and teaching my kids… I needed to struggle and hurt. I had to be all of those versions of myself, to get to this version. I often wonder what the 46-year-old version of me will be like… she better be amazing and strong and solid… and I freakin’ hope she has written a book and traveled the world.

Who am I today?

Where did these 10 years get me? The thing is that is all how you look at it… one could look at my life, and maybe many do, like I have a pretty sucky set of cards… my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, she died, my husband had many affairs and complicated situations arose from those, and we are divorced… sounds pretty crappy right?

I choose to see it the way that it really has rolled out… my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and died- my marriage dissolved and divorce has left me free… free from so many things. I hate that Madeline died, that has altered every second of my forever from that moment around 3am on February 8, 2012. I can’t ever be the mom of 3 Earthlings again… my story changed. I wish it didn’t but I do the best with what I have. Most days I get up and workout and drink coffee and do my job and raise my girls… alongside missing her. My marriage dissolved into a co-parenting situation that mostly is just fine. It was harder in the beginning, but we got better at it. It helps that I have worked so hard at maintaining healthy boundaries for me and my girls- firmly reminding myself of those boundaries. I became better at communicating with my words and emotions, defining my needs and keeping myself around positive people. I no longer just let people into my world… trust and respect are earned not given. It has been a rollercoaster, but it is my rollercoaster. I own it. I own the twists and turns, the broken and the healed… I own the confidence and weakness… I own it all. I own every second of these years- 2019, 2008 and long before…

A lot has changed… a lot has stayed the same… there are more wrinkles, more tears, more pain, more loss, more joy, more building, more accomplishments, more boundaries and lessons. I still have my Jeep Commander, my red kitchen, my lack of love for the Musto Mountain of Laundry and my love for coffee in the am and good red wine in the pm. I wouldn’t change a thing… not even the ugly parts. I love and own my 10 years that passed in a moment. I am grateful the privilege of aging has been gifted to me, I plan to use it well.

Advertisements

Just Write…

avoidance

It’s been a while, since I have cracked open this laptop of mine. It’s been a while since my fingers typed bits of the stories and lessons of my life and time. It’s been a while since I connected my brain and heart with words for my eyes to see and read. I feel like I didn’t want to listen to myself, like maybe reading what my brain and heart were thinking would be too much or too real. I have avoided my keyboard and kitchen table like they were peach flavored candies or mushrooms… both of which I avoid all.the.time.

What is the purpose of this avoidance? I know for me my fastest and strongest defense mechanism is avoidance. I remember the day I realized it, sitting in my councilor’s office talking out all the things I could not get myself to tackle, even down to my voicemail. She said “Erin, that is avoidance.” I thought, back then, about avoiding knowing that she was right, about putting it away to handle later- but I started tackling things and telling the part of my brain that pushes avoidance to leave me alone. It worked. The thing is, just like Weight Watchers, we can know how to do something and get healthier- but when we get away from practicing it mindfully, we resort back to the easy… and for me my favorite tactic for handling too much is avoidance.

Why? I honestly don’t know, maybe it is just me subconsciously choosing the easy path in my brain. I might just need a way to see only things that are easy to handle… but then I also push those off. I might just shut down when there is too much, and in that case I need to recognize the scale of the pile just before it is too much and my brain starts avoiding… what is my tipping point? So maybe I need work on identifying my tipping point…

So… now you know- I am a hot-mess-human. I am a work in progress. I am working on the progress. I miss this keyboard, and the slow computer that is connected to it… I even miss that the stupid Norton Antivirus reminder pops up 50 times in an hour (or maybe only 1, just as annoying). I miss the way it feels to take my thoughts and brain conversations and watch the screen as my fingers hit the keys and my eyes can read them all. It is much messier in my brain, so the neatness factor of the typed words really helps my everything see order, well order alongside the hot-mess-human that I am.

These past weeks have been challenging, really dark and cold… and lonely. I still sit in the smallness of my family here, and wish the plan had a bigger, louder and less picky dinnertime set up… but alas I give up control and trust that in His time there is a plan for a louder and fuller dinner table to come. To make the month a little harder, because it’s a great idea to challenge yourself at your lowest, I jumped on the Dry January bandwagon. It is a challenge, to sit in myself and just be, with no added crutches or aid, just me. I don’t always like the version of me that I see… so I guess it is an opportunity to work on being the best version of me. Everyone says Dry time improves everything, but I have been sick and tired and dealing with normal mom stuff, divorce stuff, loss of Madeline stuff… all of it… and wine makes it all easier, so I am embracing harder.

All and all, I struggle this time of year every year. I miss the sun. I miss big crazy family time. I miss being social, January is lonely. I miss Madeline… I see kids play basketball and I remember them from her class, I think about these times 7 and 8 and 9 years ago… I just wish it could be different, but it can’t. I found myself sad when a child’s tumor disappeared… excited and sad. I know I was truly excited for her miracle, and sad for mine. It was a hard December and January isn’t rolling out easily… so it has been extraordinarily hard. In these times, times of hard and avoidance, I remind myself that I can do hard things, hard hard things… and it won’t always feel like this. The sun will come out, my heart will get a little less inflamed, my brain will do it’s jobs, my fingers will type and the days will feel lighter. The days will feel lighter. I won’t be in this place forever… and ‘now’ won’t last that long. Tomorrow is Friday… and we are one day closer to spring. I actually scheduled some fun things for the next few weeks… it is always good to have things to look forward to. I will work hard on the right now, the work I need to do to quit defaulting to avoidance. I told myself to just write, just open up that laptop and write… and after the 20 minutes of loading and 500 reminders for Norton Antivirus (well… maybe 2) my fingers have stayed nice and busy and typed as my brain sent out some thoughts… and just like that I am writing again. It feels like it has been 100 years… but it has only been a few broken hard holidays, a trip home and a few work days since my fingers last organized my brain. Thank you fingers for the chatter on the keyboard that pops up on the screen and sends order back into my brain as my eyes read it, thank you… I am glad I have you digits…

Kind Kids

I love kind kids, like A LOT. I love seeing kids just go be good, to do good things. It reminds me of my lovely, Madeline was a kind kiddo. Her teachers, in preschool and kindergarten, described her as kind, compassionate and a connector. I imagine Madeline as a builder, a connector- a simply content human. I remember her loving Christmas lights and lemonade stands.

I love sharing Madeline, Maddie’s Mark and all I have learned about service. I especially love sharing it with kiddos, sharing life lessons in a way that kids can understand and I hope helps to build service into their future selves.

This Christmas has been hard, hard to find the light. I am trying, and working hard to make it magical and full of our traditions. Sometimes it is easy… but mostly it is hard, so hard. We got our tree, and we found a new place to cut, in true Musto Tree form these past few years- it keeps tipping to the side, fell over once already. We have put a lot of work into gift making and thoughtful ideas. We love to drive around and eat French fries and see lights (several times). We have watched enough Christmas movies for Lucy to sum up the Hallmark Channel. Sam ‘The Weatherman’ Musto, our elf has done a few naughty things, including drinking wine and making a mess… that DARN ELF. It is Christmas… it is magical, right?

Have I told you that I love kind kids?

So… this summer a few kiddos did lemonade stands to support Maddie’s Mark Foundation. I would try to get over there and not only sample the goods, if I could, I would bring a thank you and some MM gear. I love kids helping others, I mean I love adults doing service, but there is something great about kids choosing to use their time to help others. The MacTurk girls didn’t JUST have a lemonade stand, they got this idea to do a hot cocoa stand for all the people who check out the Christmas Lights across the street. They began on Thanksgiving night and have spent several weeknights and every weekend out in the cold, and it was VERY cold many of those nights, selling hot cocoa and sharing Maddie’s Mark. I love it, it is not only a generous gift of time and resources- it is the best to go watch the light show and see these girls there serving- BEST NIGHT’S EVER.

The MacTurk girls have been intertwined with Madeline’s story since Madeline finished her journey here and left us for heaven. Grace was in in Kindergarten at Bradt when Madeline was a kindergartener. Amelia and Grace were on an OM Team together, way back when- while Amelia and Grace worked on creative problem solving… Brenna (Middle MacTurk) and Lucy played and got into mischief… all the while Mrs. MacTurk would hold the youngest of the girls, Harper. As time has gone on school and OM and live have kept our clans intertwined. I really love how they have helped share the mission and the miracle of Madeline and Maddie’s Mark Foundation.

I am super grateful for these Kind Kids, and feel that their service and dedication are amazing models for other kids. I see their endeavor as a big commitment, and I hope The MacTurk’s know what role models they are building…

I am grateful for News10 for honoring these Kind Kids and so many others…

Go out into the world and be a kind one, help the other kind ones… buy some cocoa and enjoy a BEST NIGHT EVER…

Our ‘goodbye’ to a giant, is his ‘hello’ to his girls

Saturday morning, I woke up with all the plans of the day going on in my head. Maddie’s Mark had a BIG Best Day Ever and I had to organize the worker bees and figure logistics for cake pick up and beyond. It was one of those crazy days…

I woke up to news that George Bush had died, at 94 he went home to Jesus. His granddaughter shared a powerful, emotional and raw post about her Gampy, along with an image my mind will never forget. I have read and reread her words, and will most likely read 100 times more before I put them away for a time. The connection to George is that for me… beyond him being a pretty great human being, beyond him deserving my respect as 41st President… we both belong to the same ‘club’. We both lost our little girls to cancer.

ghwb.jpg

I remember learning that there was a Robin Bush, and reading her story. I felt a connection to the Giant that Jenna wrote about. It soothed my heart to know that He and Barbara still remembered her, still talk about her, still honor her. I always worry that someday we will forget, someday we won’t talk about her… fear that she will disappear. I love knowing that they brought Robin along, telling stories and using her words- “I love you more than tongue can tell”. I imagine that reunion moment was a gift God could not wait to witness.

I have an image in my head of what this will look like… what that entry to heaven will look like for me. I imagine Madeline as my 5-year-old waiting for me, impatiently. I don’t imagine clouds, but instead a sunset just the way we loved at the lake. I see her running to me, as I go to her. She will know me, she will be waiting for me… she will be right there with the longest super hug. I can’t see or hope further than that… every moment after doesn’t matter.

Somedays I want to just fast forward to that time, to that moment with her. I know it will be spectacular, my own little miracle in this mess. I think about fast forwarding, but then I am reminded of the rest of my life and purpose and people. Imagine if George and Barbara didn’t use their years here, in this mess, to make it neater, safer and different? I don’t have Political goals, I don’t plan to be President of anything except Maddie’s Mark, there lies my purpose, my job. I get to spend my time here parenting, and looking forward to meeting my grandkids, I really think they are the gift after raising kids through all these tough years. My job is to share Madeline’s words- Best Day Ever, and know that every time I say those words, I am brought back to the moment she altered the future with those words. I can see her hands next to her face with the most perfect smile, after she poked my arm, she said “Best Day Ever” in the most excited and raspy little girls voice. In that moment she brought my crazy brain back to simple and present… almost prepared for the time to come.

I imagine Robin’s short life sat in the back of The President’s brain and her story was a part of the decisions he made. I know Madeline’s short life is a part of my life decisions… she is helping me build the best kind of life.

Madeline’s life sent my life in a direction that I didn’t plan on, just as Madeline’s death has redirected my whole future. I now work with Childhood Cancer Advocacy, Childhood Palliative Care, Organ Donation, Non-Profits… I work in a Special Ed classroom that supports building social and emotional skills. I teach Faith Formation, I write, I speak… alongside raising Madeline’s sisters. All of these things are different than I planned, but they are a part of the different purpose that God is directing. I am sure George and Barbara’s whole life was forever altered by the experience of having a sick daughter and then her passing.

I keep rereading these words from The President’s letters, I love that he wrote so much. I think it is a special gift to the future to leave your words, especially handwritten. The feeling is so familiar to me…

“We need some starched crisp frocks to go with all our torn-kneed blue jeans and helmets. We need some soft blond hair to offset those crew cuts. We need a doll house to stand firm against our forts and rackets and thousand baseball cards… We need a little one who can kiss without leaving egg or jam or gum. We need a girl,” he wrote.

 

“We had one once. She’d fight and cry and play and make her way just like the rest but there was about her a certain softness. She was patient. Her hugs were just a little less wiggly,” he wrote

-George H W Bush

 

Thank you, President George HW Bush. I will always see that image of you and yours meeting in heaven. Your words and actions, honoring and telling others about your lovely- knowing that you still thought of her daily… she never disappeared, are a great comfort to me. Enjoy that soft blond hair… enjoy hearing “I love you more than tongue can tell”…

me and maddie.jpg

Gratitude and Service

Giving thanks, it is the ‘thing to do’ this time of year. November pops up on the calendar just as we put Halloween away- and it is time for gratitude. Some publicly acknowledge daily the things they are grateful for, other begin a gratitude journal, all have thankfulness and gratitude on the brain. Almost everyone is more cognizant of the blessings in their lives…

I think about gratitude a lot, like A LOT. I may not always feel that my life and pile of hard stuff is something to be thankful for; usually with some time and maybe humor I remind myself of all that I am grateful for. Sometimes I hyper focus on missing Madeline, how amazing she was and I get wrapped up in the missing… but then I remind myself that at least I didn’t get a crappy kid, I got a really good one. I would take 5 years with Madeline over 75 years with a crappy one (crappy = mean and evil). Don’t get me wrong, I still focus on her missing, but I try to redirect my brain to the light. Sometimes I think we don’t need to feel grateful for a big pile of hard at that moment- but in time perspective can show us the light or meaning of that pile, and for that I am often grateful for perspective and time. I did not feel grateful for my divorce when I was finding out friends and my ex-husband had betrayed me- but in time I see the light in it all. I got rid of some nonfriends, and let me tell you God cleaned house… and I love the life I am building away from my marriage. I am grateful for the time and perspective to look back on that pile of crap and see the light that has poked through. Today I am grateful for so much…

Last week in Church School we talked about Gratitude and more. We talked about how God wants us to be grateful and to make it a habit… knowing that we get to chose gratitude. Sometimes it is a hard choice to make- to see light in darkness. Sometimes we have to be very creative to be grateful but the more often we choose thankfulness the more we would become grateful people. Do you like to be around ungrateful people? Are you drawn to grateful and kind people? We all are… so what if we work to become just that. What if we follow The Big Guys directions and become kinder, gentler, more gracious and by doing so better people, the kind we want to be around??? Believe me sometimes it will be hard to pick grateful, you might need a sense of humor- but no one laughing is angry… like when you stub your toe on the fridge- you could get all angry at yourself, or the fridge… or you could remind yourself to be glad you have a fridge full of food… eventually it becomes your normal to choose gratitude.

A life of gratitude opens you up for a life of service- acknowledging what you have to offer helps you offer it up. They go together… gratitude and service. Gratitude is acknowledging what you have- service is offering what you have to others. When we are thinking about and acknowledging what we are thankful for- blessings, losses, skills, needs met… we can give more to those who need it. I feel like as adults we overthink EVERYTHING- including the gifts we have to give. I spoke to children about gratitude and service… the simplicity of it all and they heard me. The next day one of the students brought a box of toys she had picked out to gift to others. She heard me. She told me she talked to her mom about gratitude and serving- she and her mom are coming up with older, injured or lonely people who she could use her skills to help- she is in 2nd grade. Profound. If only we as grownups could HEAR this and get it… they would acknowledge what they have- food, skills, work, services, love, time… all of it.

I know in my life I try to be grateful for all I have, even if it’s a pile of crap for a while… I try to use my skills to help others. I think I have a good habit of being grateful, of seeing the light in my life- and I think I make a habit out of serving others. I don’t do it to feel better about myself, to be honest, sometimes giving to others is the LAST thing I want to do. I am tired, I am late or I am busy are common but often I am called to do it. If I listen to The Big Guy and shift my thoughts to gratitude- acknowledging how grateful I am to be driving to Scotia for my daughter’s dance class that happens to ONLY be on Thursday nights- after I teach Church School and drop Lucy off to OM… there are 2 ways to see it… one is overwhelming and stressed, annoyed… the other is grateful that I get to use my voice to share God’s love and plan, grateful that my Jeep is working and at least 1/2 full of gas, grateful my daughter Lucy’s coach let’s me drop and run… and grateful that Amelia is dancing at the most welcoming and wholesome dance studio ever… make it a habit. On those days, many times, I can hear when God tells me to take care of someone- drop off food, pick up groceries, visit even for a moment. I can’t hear Him so well when I am annoyed and overwhelmed…

Somedays I fail, we all do. On those days I hurry to bed and crawl under the covers and get myself to sleep… so I can start over the next day. If it is still hard- pull out the humor, sometimes the humor helps us see the light.

Gratitude and service, they are teammates to better living. Imagine if everyday you acknowledged what you have, who you are- then you went out in the world and gave it away? Give it a try, go ahead get addicted to gratitude. I imagine no live has ever fallen apart by an addiction to gratitude, a habit of waking up and building thankfulness into our day…

Enjoy the November Gratitude… but I challenge you to get addicted to gratitude, to get in the habit of redirecting your brain to thankfulness- then go out into the world and use it.

Happiest Thanksgiving to all… everyday.

jfk-on-gratitude

The Simple Silence of Snow

Snow is so quiet. I stood outside today and the gray sky enveloped me, and for a moment the whole world fell silent. It is odd to feel silent in the bustle, but snow has a way to slowing and quieting even the loudest bustle. While I stayed in that quiet, outside of Bradt Elementary, the trees just stood, the sky was one tone of gray, and the air was so still. It has been a long time since I felt that degree of silent. That’s the thing about snow… it is so quiet.

I think one of the most silent places I have ever been was Lake Ontario in February, the gray sky as far as you can see, waves now covered in flat ice… just one tone of gray, no sounds to steal the show. Most hate the lake in the winter, I love it. It is a clear gift to slow the bustle, to quieting the loud. A few cold minutes on shores of Lake Ontario immersed in the gray and quiet is enough to take the sting off the crazy, busy of life. Today I felt a bit of that…

Life is NOT quiet. It is loud and full of chatter and noise, full of direction and movement. I am so guilty of not taking time to bask in quiet, to stay still in some silence. I just move, live, chatter, breathe, run, plan… with little more time to take. I allow the chatter to fill my brain, and as much as I would love more silence raising two daughters in a small Cape Cod is not the best place to find silence. The chatter is overpowering. I have struggled lately to even find a space to breathe in this parenting a Middle Schooler time in my life. Today I found a bit of silence in the coming snow. I felt a moment of breath… then I got in my Jeep and ran to the Post Office and taught Church School and came home to make dinner- gone is that silence. I didn’t even bottle it when I felt it, if only I could capture that in a mason jar and set it on a shelf for another time, I need it more, when the chatter is too much. If only…

This time of the year is tough. This silence evokes feelings that don’t surface in the chatter. There are holidays to be celebrated without one of my best people, the cold short days can be so lonely, my brain remembering all the 7 years ago ‘we were doing this…’… I didn’t even know it would be the last. Now that I know, it makes this time of year a deep time, there is no sunshine to wander in, no beaches to play in, no long days to spend busy… there are no bonfires and smores. It’s different on these days, there is quiet and slow down, cancelled plans and snow days. It’s a blessing and a curse…

The simple silence of snow has come to the north. It will wrap us up in it’s quiet and dull the chatter for a few months. The silence and gray will give us the quiet to dive into the pain, the loss and all the missing. I don’t think I was prepared for today’s gray silence, but like always- we don’t get to pick. We don’t get to pick…

The simple silence of snow has come to the north, I embrace it for the blessing and the curse that it brings. I honor the emotions that it brings to the surface, all the missing. I imagine someday snow and this season will feel magical again…

i-never-knew-until-then-that-snow-made-everything-quiet-somehow-silencing-all-the-worlds-noise-quote-1.jpg

Today is Election Day…

vote.png

So today we will wake up, if we are lucky enough, to get just one more day to live, breathe and change. The sun will rise and the busses will come pick up our people, we will drive to work or meet friends for coffee- maybe go to the gym and sweat through a bootcamp class. It will be a day, just like the ones before it… but there is something different about today. It is the first Tuesday of November, and Emily Eiss’s birthday, for any who know her be sure to drop her a HBD. It is Election Day…

Let’s do this right. Let’s go do our jobs and vote to change the world in the way that we see fit. Let’s go to the polls and get the sticker and know that our choice, our vote was cast, to alter the government and communities we all live in. Let’s do it nicely… this might be the most challenging part for some.

My sister reminded me of somethings my Grandma used to say, things that are so relevant today and yesterday and 100 years ago. My Grandma was full of knowledge and faith and silly songs. Her advice is simple- but so many seem to have forgotten them in these times. I think it is a reminder to go back to simple.

Grandma Connor’s Advice

  1. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  2. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Simple right?

Why on Earth are politicians out there with such awful and demeaning campaigns? Why are people so mean? Every year it gets worse. The soapbox that Facebook gifts for people to spew hate and anger. Feeling as though they are due that, since someone else was mean. The threads from these posts are stressful, each person feeling that they somehow won some battle. Like we are all on different teams…

This world needs to stop and think, just like I tell the kids I work with, think about your words, think about your actions. If you want to change the world belittling and berating others will change nothing other than make then hate you more. Show others how to live the way you know is right… show them by your actions…

Personally, I can tell you that no person who has every yelled at me, told me I NEED to feel how they feel, told me that if we don’t see things the same way we can’t be friends or removed me from their social media because we are different EVER changed my beliefs. Not one of those people made a point to me, except that they are capable of being a yelling mean person with views I may or may not share. Imagine, instead, if they had gone out and lived and shared in a way that was respectful and purposeful… I might look at them and think what are they doing differently, what are they using to build that life? Then I might actually stick around to hear, and it might ACTUALLY change my direction. All of that by not reacting with a second wrong, and by not saying things that aren’t nice.

I often go back to a piece of scripture from this summer at Mass. Jesus was standing with his Hot Mess Apostles, yes they were not a perfect crew of perfect people, but a set of Hot Mess Humans who loved Jesus… anyway… He was standing and telling them to go out and do their jobs. He said ‘Go out there, no luggage, no food and knock on people’s doors. If they welcome you in, stay and let them know Me. If they do not, keep on walking and dust off yourself. Go knock on the next door.’ What did this mean? Jesus is saying- go share Me, like I would share Me. If they don’t want to hear it, move on. You are not being like Me if you stay and yell and push Me on them… move along. They will be further from knowing Jesus if you stay and yell… but if you leave there will be another ‘knock’ another time with a little disciple to work on that person’s heart. Life is like that…

We all have things that are important to us, morals and values, ideas and hopes… We all want to share them. Sometimes sharing is just living in the way that those values and morals show.

Remember that is OKAY to disagree. I recently sat with an amazing momma who will die soon, she doesn’t look like it, so that probably makes it harder. She if advocating for Death with Dignity Acts, I am not for them. We talked about the whys and the points of belief we each have, I am also not faced with making choices for my children and my illness, so I very much respected her for her choices. She even heard my point. I think about that conversation often, about her. I think about how I can’t imagine being in her shoes, and how I don’t know if I could do it. I know we don’t get to pick and we definitely should not compare our stories and trials. I just think of her often. At the end of our conversation, really more of a connection, I promised her that I would never forget her and I would bring her along for all of my adventures… and she promised me she would hug my daughter when she got there. We disagreed over a very hot topic, but our conversation/connection ended in love…

What if we all stopped and thought, like really stopped and put our finger on our brain, and said “Brain what do we really want the outcome to be?” That little bit of self talk could go a long way to a better world… imagine if instead of reacting to EVERY nudge and poke with a wrong, we stopped and thought. What if we really kept our mouths shut when we didn’t have anything nice to say… imagine all the people who would look at us and wonder what are they doing right???? What do they know that I don’t…

I’ll end here… listen to my Grandma’s Advice. I do. I see her and my Grandfather in so much of my life today. I choose often to keep walking to the next door, brush the dirt off of me and keep doing my job. I will keep doing what I do, hoping that others look at my life and think what is she doing differently…