Happy Halloween!

Just sending out Happy Halloween wishes! Feels strange in this house with no kids, likely a few to no trick or treaters (years past we might get 1 or 2 other than a few of the boyz friends). 😦

Halloween seems to evoke strong feelings from people – they seem to love it or hate it. I have always enjoyed Halloween since the days when my dad would decorate the whole front of the house and hallway into some scary scene, my brothers would chime in and dress up in something scary, my parent’s friends would be hidden in the living room and quiet themselves when the doorbell rang…and kids from far and wide came to see what he had in store for them, having to reach into a tiny red satin lined casket for candy (creepy!).  He would feel so bad if a little one ran out crying and he would try to convince them it was only MR Faughnan…but to no avail – it was too late! So those were the early days…coming back and trading candy with my brother Michael, cousin Mark and friend Mary Ellen..and on to high school when we had fun festivities in school and competitions for best costumes…to college where we had very fun costumes thanks to our talented friend Elizabeth…and then to having kids ourselves.

 

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Chimney Sweeps from Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins was the boyz favorite movie for a few years. We even went with my mom, aunt, cousin’s daughter to NYC to see the play on Broadway.  The boyz were forever jumping on the coffee table and singing ‘Step In Time’ ….

Now that I have no kids at home, Halloween definitely feels less exciting and I have zero desire to dress up, and if I am honest, a bit of relief to not have to think about kids (or even teens!) costumes. But it does bring home the fact that the house is pretty empty…and of course that brings up some sadness.

So I will feed the Halloween love with gratitude for so many fun Halloween memories ❤

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Two Boyz, A Ball and A Boat

Well it was another weekend away :).  Friday night we arrived in Boston to see Casey before the BC vs Miami football game. It was the ‘Red Bandana Game’ which is a very inspiring story – Welles Crowther, a BC alum who played lacrosse for the Eagles, is honored for his heroic actions during the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. He rescued more than 12 people in the tower before sadly losing his life there himself.  People commented that the person who saved them had a red bandana on and this is how they knew it was Welles as he was infamous for always wearing a red bandana. It is moving, heartbreaking and inspiring all at the same time.

 

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BC only night game of the season (may have one more) to honor a BC hero ❤

We were fortunate to arrive on the early side so we could see Casey play and then get our seats and food/beer before the lines were unmanageable!

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Sausage and peppers, a beer, BC football and watching Casey play drums…here is one happy Dad 🙂

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At it again!

It was a great  game – BC won but it was not a sure thing and was very fun to watch. We were on the Miami side, though of course surrounded by many BC fans as not too many were there for Miami. It was just enough, however, to confuse me. I tend to cheer when those around me cheer – that is how I know that it is our team that had something good happen (ok – I do know when they score a touchdown…but the other little stuff I do not pick up on!). I was thrown because sometimes people around me cheered but they were Miami fans…and sometimes BC…I had to watch more carefully!

My brother Jimmy, sister-in-law Mary came to the game and we stayed with them Friday night. Casey surprised us when he wanted to come back to stay there with us – we were so excited. It is amazing how these kids who were in our house nightly for 18 yrs and we now feel so blessed to have just a little extra time with them. He is exhausted after a game because they start playing 4 hours prior and play until the stands are empty after the game. They stand the whole time and actually are not supposed to even watch the game – they have to watch the conductor the whole time.  Very different experience than it is for the tailgating, dancing, singing,  students in the stands!

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Chillin Saturday morning after a very late night! Casey is loving having a pup to snuggle with ❤

We drove Casey back to campus, stopping at the store for more snacks first of course….then headed in the rainy, windy weather (a nor’easter but actually not too bad) to our friends in NJ. When we arrived, Lisa had hot soup and salad ready – just what the dr ordered for this cold rainy, tired night.

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Some of our oldest and closest friends…

Saturday morning it was off to Princeton for Seamus’s race. Oh how great it was to see him!

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Our friends who also live in NJ were kind enough to drive up (over? down? I have no idea what direction!). We are running into many examples of paths crossing. Steve’s dad was at Seamus’s race in Philly a couple of weeks ago when we were visiting Brendan. He met a couple who have a son who is also a plebe on the team.  Ends up she, Dierdre, went to college with our friend Beth. So they were able to catch up after not seeing each other for 30 years! Many synchronicities in life.

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Scott and Beth have been so supportive

And we see him race for the first time…

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“The Boys in the Boat”

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All of the plebes

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We have had more photos alone with each of the boyz in the past few months than ever in their lives! 

We were blessed to have lots of time to hang out, meet new friends, chat with old friends, and very blessed that Seamus had quite a bit of down time through the day to chat with us as well !

 

 

We left the race and knew we had a long ride home…after a lot of driving already over the weekend. So we headed to Wegmans (I LOVE that place!!!!!) and grabbed a bite to eat with Steve’s dad, Ken and Lisa and I was able to pick up a few groceries before we headed home.

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I think I caught Ken mid-chew!

As much as we did hours of driving, we did go through such beautiful towns. I could look at the houses and towns forever. I could not really take photos since we were driving but I did manage to capture this one when we were at a stop light.

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We are feeling the exhaustion now…a long, busy weekend but so full of love, connection and fun.  We are surprised to be away so much but recognize how fast the next 4 years will go and we want to enjoy and support the boyz and their activities for as long as they will welcome that from us :). We are truly enjoying all of the new and old connections we are making…so we will keep traveling for as long as it keeps feeding the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

Is The Interesting Part of My Life Over?

So much about empty nesting is difficult and for a long time I felt like the interesting part of my life would be over once the boyz went to college.  As a little girl I played house more than anything else, dolls were my most treasured toy and the thought of one day becoming a mom was never in question ( thank goodness nature cooperated with that plan).  At the same time, I thought about a career – becoming a nurse, a kindergarten teacher, an accountant and finally, a therapist.  Once I became a mom, however, it clearly took front and center in my life and so much about it just fit me.

People often say ‘Oh it must have been so hard when they were babies’. But honestly, their first year, while certainly a challenge to some extent, was also blissful in so many ways. I loved just being home with them and it felt natural to just feed, diaper, take them on walks and do laundry/clean while they napped. ….they were good sleepers and on a good schedule so it felt manageable and I loved everything  that encompassed my days.  We were blessed to have support from family and friends which enabled us to get some sleep when they first came home, to get to the store without having to tow them along and to get a short run in when my body was ready for that.

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Oh looking at this pic…I do wish we could go back just for a day…

I made a conscious decision to really try to relish every stage because I knew we would only have it once and then it would be on to the next. There would be no ‘second child’ to go through that stage with again. When they turned one, I thought I would be so sad to not have infants anymore but I was ready for what was coming….I fully embraced the baby stage and felt ready to embrace toddlerhood.  So this is how it has gone for the past 18 years…until they graduated.

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How did we get here so quickly? 🙂  😦

Suddenly it seemed that the biggest, most important part of my life was over….that the cozy time of having kids at home and focusing life around our little nuclear family was done.  It was unfathomable…yet it was also so clear that they were ready for it…but were Steve and I? In many ways it did feel like we were.  Senior year I began to be able to imagine them stepping into the next phase, whereas any time prior to that, it would just be such a distant concept,  an unfathomable reality that I could not conceive of.

So is my life no longer interesting?  Much to my surprise it does not feel so to me.  While I miss the boyz and the energy that filled our house on a daily basis, I appreciate some things about this quieter life.

*Spontaneous hikes out back

We are blessed to have lots of land to roam on right behind our house (though orange is a must during hunting season!)

*Quiet evenings where there is sometimes NO laundry to do!, only 1-2 lunches to make, simple dinners, time to read, write, or just chat with Steve.

*Simple dinners – as above -just thinking of the 2 of us and our preferences and we are trying to clean out our pantry and freezers a bit so we are keeping it very basic over here.

*Cleaning out – slowly we are going thru various areas and cleaning out clutter – we have a long ways to go but are making progress one small step at a time.

Finally cleaned out the boyz rooms and threw out LOTS of stuff!

*Time with friends – we have gotten together with friends more than we have in several years. It is fun to reconnect and not have so many conflicts on our schedule.

Getting together with friends and celebrating Ellen’s birthday 🙂

*Visiting the boyz – we have clearly not been just empty nesting as we have been away almost every weekend since school started.  It has been fun to see Seamus, Brendan and Casey in their new environments, seeing how life is for them apart from each other and from us, and meeting new communities of people through their new schools and sports/clubs.

New friends and activities to see

And of course…visiting means that I am still baking lots of cookies…

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Will see Casey and Seamus this weekend so made quadruple batch of pumpkin sugar cookies and oatmeal cookies…mmmmm…

*Exploring new training prospects for work which has been on the back burner for the past few years…some things I am very excited about and will talk about more as I move through them.

So while these things do not sound all that exciting – they do feel it. I feel like we are on the verge of something new….that there are various possibilities as to what direction our lives can go in from here. I feel open to new experiences, new people, and new ventures.  Some of this is still centered around the boyz  while some of it involves just Steve and I and some of it is about only me! Imagine that! ;).  Certainly there are lots of moments of sadness and missing Seamus, Brendan and Casey and family time, but there are also these positive things. So just as I tried to focus on the joys that lie ahead with toddlerhood when the boyz turned 1, I am now embracing the joys that come with seeing our kids grow, having time and freedom to do what we want to do, and knowing there is still more ‘interesting’ left to come 🙂 And that, my friends, feeds the love.

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Expansion vs Contraction

These two words – expansion and contraction, have given me a lot of insight into the connection between the body and emotions.  When I began exploring energy medicine and my spiritual beliefs, I began the path to learning how to integrate my mind, body and soul  so that healing can occur on a deeper level.

When we are experiencing a ‘negative’ emotion, we typically get into our heads and have many thoughts which can feed the emotion.  We might be feeling angry at our partner for something they did and then continue justifying/fueling our anger by thinking about what they did, and other things in the past that were similar and how they ‘always do that thing’ etc.  In doing this we are intensifying our emotion while actually distancing from our true selves.  If instead, we can recognize that we are angry and become aware of our thoughts and then intentionally drop down into our body, then we can shift things in a powerful way.

When I say ‘drop down into your body’, that just means take a moment to be quiet and see where you are experiencing the emotion in your body – we may feel anger in the form of tension in our head or anxiety in our belly or sadness and despair in our heart center/chest.  Everyone experiences emotions differently but being in our body with it is so essential to healing and something most of us are not accustomed to tuning in to.

When we feel emotion in our physical being, we begin to see the pattern that ‘negative’ emotions, ie- sadness, anger, jealousy, and fear are held in the body in a contracted way.  And ‘positive ‘ emotions, ie- joy, excitement, love and gratitude are held in the body as expansion.  We can all relate to the tension that accumulates in the head when we are worried – just picture a worried expression with brows furrowed …and the tension in our shoulders when we are stressed…. The more we get used to tuning in, the more we can immediately recognize expansion or contraction in the body and we can more quickly take a moment to breathe into the contracted space  to bring some expansion there.

We also can recognize that when we are contracted, our energy in directed inward, we may stand with our arms crossed and be focused internally, yet contradictorily not be connected with ourselves at all really. When we are expanded, our energy is directed outward, we are open to the world around us yet can be very connected with our true selves in the process.

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In an expanded state we can take in and appreciate the beauty of our natural environment

I often do a visualization with patients to work on this skill….Imagine light coming in thru the crown of your head and traveling down into your brain, down to your heart center and from your heart imagine the heart pumping light into every cell of your body. Imagine that light going into that contracted space (belly, heart, head). With the in breath, bring in more light and with the out breath the light travels through the body. With each breath, the darkness and density of that space, along with all the rest of the body, becomes less tense, more open, and lighter.  It slowly allows the energy to dissipate as the light replaces the darkness.

Though it is a simple practice, it takes time and effort to become conscious of what we are feeling, to actually remember to call on this in the moments we need it, and to be compassionate with ourselves when it takes a bit longer to work through something (believe me, I am still working on all of those things!). Depending on the intensity of the feeling and the situation that is upsetting us, we will have different levels of shifting that occur. Sometimes we can shift a whole experience and other times we may feel a lessening  in intensity of the emotion, but may need more time and a few repetitions of this practice to work through something. Obviously something like a divorce, death of someone close, or significant trauma, is not going to be the same as being frustrated with your child for not being ready for school on time (again!) or feeling annoyed because your partner forgetting to bring home the milk you asked them to pick up. Ultimately in those lighter situations we can catch ourselves feeling the small annoyances or irritations of every day life and just take one deep breathe to bring in the expansion and release the negativity. And in the heavier times, we can have some acceptance of the pain, gentle practice of the awareness of the body and visualization, and compassion with the time it takes to heal.

Breathing in and creating more expansion in our Being is definitely a way to feed the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

The Magic of Friendship

Wednesday night I headed 90 minutes south to get together with my nearest and dearest friends  – a group that combines grade school, high school and college friends. It is a gift that they all live in the same area and that I am close enough to see them as well (though not often enough :().

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The girls minus MaryEllen who met us towards the end of dinner

We met up at Zen Asian Fusion restaurant which was very good and served huge portions! Sadly we were unable to take our leftovers home as we were going right to a show from dinner (the smell, if nothing else, would have been a bit of a bother to those around us!).  All of these women have kids in college at various stages and 4 of us have Freshman as well.  While driving down, I talked with my mom and told her how much I was looking forward to seeing the girls and that I also was a bit anxious ‘if they all say their kids are adjusting to college with no issues and life is flying high, I will feel really bad’.  What I was saying is that I needed some validation that what we are going through is normal which will provide reassurance that the boyz will be ok.

And of course, I got just that…while everyone is doing well and the kids are adjusting, it is not perfect for any of them.  There are little things – different for everyone, that they are dealing with – stress of athletic and academic schedules and how to take care of themselves amidst that, meeting friends that they click with when they are somewhat shy, managing time and sometimes going back to their rooms to sleep midday (which stresses parents out to know!), missing friends at home and the ease of the connection that comes with knowing people for years….But this is the biggest transition of their lives and they are managing bit by bit.

The power of friendship is amazing …each stage we go through in life, our friends are there to support us in a way that no one else can. Family are not usually going through the exact same stage (unless you are a multiple:)) and are often too close to you to be objective. Friends can be so close yet maintain a sense of objectivity at the same time. And friends who have been with you through so much….childhood so they know your family and where you come from, adolescence so they know the awkwardness and pain that you have experienced, college so they had the ups and downs that those 4 years (hopefully 4!) bring, first jobs, weddings, marriage, births, parenting, and now having kids in college and parents that may need care as well.  There is so much with this group that does not need to be said…so much that we understand about each other because of the history and because we are navigating these phases of life side by side.  The validation I received that night was magical – it transformed my worry to acceptance. It took the catastrophizing thoughts away and replaced them with thoughts of a normalized college experience.  These friendships are one of the greatest gifts that life offers.

And lest you think we were all serious and philosophizing the night away, let it be known that the initiation of the plan to get together was Alicia seeing that ‘Menopause’ the musical was playing at a theatre nearby. So we ended the night with lots of laughs and joy.  It was a great show well worth seeing if you are a woman who is at this stage of life. Though there were some men in the audience,  undoubtedly dragged by their wives, who the performers made sure to capitalize on by singing directly to them and creating even more laughs.

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The show was 4 women singing various cover songs with the words changed to make hilarious renditions about this stage of life

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 Thank you girls ❤

I had a 90 minute drive home and by the time we left the theatre it was 9:30pm – already past my bedtime! But the energy I had from the night – the connection , the laughs, the love….it kept me going and I was not the least bit tired until I hit my pillow. These girls and their friendship most certainly feeds the love.

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

Dublin Take 2

We truly are not jet setters though it may appear that way currently as I have been to Dublin twice in less than a month!  In the past, I never would have imagined doing this but things change when your child is across the pond for an extended time.

Much of what we did on this trip was a repeat of our trip in September.  When people hear that I am going to Ireland, they ask what I will do there and inquire about all of the sights and beauty I will see. I realized I was feeling a bit of pressure- like ‘am I supposed to be doing more than I am?’ But in the end, I realize that the visits have been extremely short -3 days in Ireland in September and 2 1/2 days there in October.  In that time, we want to do what parents of college students typically do – support Brendan and make his life just a little bit easier for the next week (aka take laundry, cleaning (kitchen was a bigger mess this time if that can be believed!) , some cooking and grocery shopping off of his plate.  I took that pressure off of myself and focused on having time that we could enjoy -even if that meant repeating a restaurant instead of trying a new one.

So here is a recap:

 

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The Book of Kells was available for viewing this time – last visit it was only a replica.

For those planning a trip to Ireland, a visit to Trinity is almost always on the ‘must see’ list and The Book of Kells is a big part of that. There has not been any time that we have walked through that area when it was not a massive line.  We had the benefit of Brendan’s student status which allowed us to jump the line and get in for free (free would be a relative word here given the tuition we are paying  ;).  And we continued on to the very impressive Long Room once again. Brendan also told us that Trinity gets a copy of every single book that is ever published in Ireland.

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Such an impressive place to see…so much history there

We headed to the ‘first 15s’ rugby game right on campus. The ‘first 15s’ are the top players – almost like varsity vs JV but not quite.  We were fortunate to meet up with one of Steve’s friends from high school (actually originally from Indian Guides when they were 8!). Bob and his wife Laurie were there to celebrate their anniversary and he saw on the lovely Book of Face, that we were going to be there so he reached out to Steve. They are such a nice, easy going couple and we had a great time catching up, watching rugby in the rain and then going to a warm dry place to eat 🙂

Collecting for the club….then imbibing with the club 🙂

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Personal tour guide

We had been to O’Neills when Eileen and I visited – it is where we tasted the Guinness. And Steve had been there with Brendan and Granddad in August so we went back there for a delicious dinner.  It is a pub but I actually felt like I was in the Weasley’s home (think Harry Potter) – there are different short staircases around and it feels like a maze. Plus there is a ‘cafeteria’ style set up downstairs – you go there and let them know what you want from the options and bring it up to your table on a tray.  We all loved our food and were rejuvenated from the wet  and cold of being outside.

 

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I love the look of this restaurant at night

Sunday’s main feature was Brendan’s game which was at ‘Old Belvedere Club’.  Brendan slept in while Steve and I ate at our B&B and went grocery shopping for him.  We went to his suite, cleaned, made stew in the crock pot for this week, and gathered up his laundry. Our host at the B&B graciously offered to finish his laundry while we were out (no small feat at he had a lot of it and the washer there was tiny!  With our ‘chores’ all done, we headed out to see the coast…

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Beautiful coast

We had to scarf down a very yummy lunch at ‘The Purity Kitchen’ before hustling to the game. Thankfully it was a gorgeous day so we could really enjoy. 🙂

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Brendan doing what he loves most

We took Brendan back to shower and get his things as he was going to stay with us Sunday night (while our room was much smaller than expected during my first round in Dublin, our room was much bigger than expected this time with an extra room and 3 beds ). We revisited Cornucopia which has a similar set up as O’Neills in that you let them know which options you want in cafeteria style line.

A note about eating away from home. Many people feel that eating the food of another culture is possibly the most important part of experiencing that culture.  While I hear that, and I know that part of traveling is being flexible and open to new things, including food, I also feel that we can still honor our own needs and preferences.  Part of what we have been doing this year is finding that there are ‘go to’ places we love in Dublin, Boston and Annapolis. It is comforting to have a place we revisit where we know we will have a great experience in our meal, environment and company. And to scatter in new places here and there as well.

Cornucopia ‘slop’ as my brother would call it…deliciousness would be my word!

And since Murphy’s ice cream is right across the street…we just had to have some…

Murphy’s is a must for any ice cream lover

Brendan then did what all rugby players must do – meet the guys at the pub for a pint. Though you do not have to drink a pint, in rugby culture, meeting them there is almost as important as playing the game. He tends to just stay for a little bit then they all go out for a bigger night at a club which is not his scene.  While he met the guys, Steve and I went back to O’Neill’s and were fortunate to catch some live Irish music and dancers. It was a lot of fun and we watched with the couple next to us who are from Boston:)

 

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Traditional Irish Dancing

We met up with Bear and headed back to the B&BIMG_0406

Walking down Grafton St

Sunday was short and sweet. We went again to ‘Honey Truffle’ for breakfast before Brendan’s class and while he was in class, Steve and I hit the bookstore. We were supposed to meet one of the rugby people at Honey Truffle again at 10 so we headed back for more coffee, another sausage roll for Brendan, and a great chat with his coach before heading back to the airport.

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Such a great breakfast or lunch spot

We laughed more than cried when we said goodbye as coach was there telling us  how his mom used to be so dramatic whenever he would leave her. It lightened a sad moment and distracted me from the ‘I won’t get to see or hug Bear until Christmas’ thoughts.  I will not lie – it is a challenge to have all 3 boyz away and to have Bear so far, definitely makes it feel different.  But I am SO grateful that Norwegian Airlines offers incredible fares and the trip is direct and relatively easy for us.  And I will look to these trips as time to do what works for us, with no expectation, no rules, and nothing to prove. And that, for sure, will feed the love in Dublin.

 

Many Blessings, 

Suzanne

Speaking of Polls…

It’s that time of year when everyone is talking about the polls. I do not know about you, but I cannot imagine being evaluated publicly with percentages of people who approve or disapprove of me.  Yet in some ways we all take polls albeit on a bit of a smaller scale. This is the kind of poll we take when we are unsure of ourselves..when we want reassurance that we are making the ‘right’ decision…when we don’t want to take full responsibility for our choices.

My friend, therapist, mentor, Mary,  always used to say to me ‘stop taking a poll’.  It is easy to develop this habit. We all want feedback from time to time and we can learn valuable lessons from others and get some much needed perspective. At the same time, like anything, too much poll taking is not a good thing.

“The Voice

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.” 
― Shel Silverstein

Looking outward for answers takes us away from our inner voice. I recently did something for my boyz because someone I respect had done it for her sons. It did not feel congruent for me but I went through the motions anyway. Every time I thought about it, I felt off in my stomach- like my gut was telling me it was not my truth.   I went ahead and did it despite that gut feeling, because I gave more credit to my friend’s decision than to my own voice. I recognized afterwards that there was no right or wrong and that whether I did it or not would not make a whole lot of difference to the boyz and certainly not to anyone else.  But I was reminded that I need to step back into myself. Why do I look to others to be the authority of what I should/should not be doing in my life? Why do I think they have it figured out and must be doing things in a ‘better’ way than I am?

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We look outward for answers on what to wear, what to say, what to eat, how to exercise, how to decorate our house, how to parent our children…But for almost everything, there is no one ‘right’ way. And how boring would the world be if we all did everything the same way? Learning to tune into ourselves is crucial to our well-being . We are here for a purpose and no one else knows what that purpose is …heck -most often we do not even know.  But the more we follow the inner voice and the more we tune in, the more we will hear our own truth…our own answers. It takes time and patience to cultivate this relationship but it is the most significant relationship of our lifetime…

 

This flower is blooming in a completely unnoticeable place in the woods off my driveway – stepping fully into itself without concern for: what is around it, if it fits in with this autumnal shift, if the trees, dead leaves, or pine cones are wanting it there….it is just Being…in it’s fullness…in its truth…in its beauty.

So I am consciously intending to call myself out when I find myself taking a poll…spend time tuning in instead of tuning out…and feeding the love of my inner wisdom.

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne

 

 

 

The Art Cabinet

For years the idea of ‘cleaning out’ has been a huge desire but overwhelming thought. We have so much stuff!  Of course, Steve and I both have said that it is part of how we will cope during ’empty nesting’.  If nesting is a time to acquire, make cozy and create a home…empty nesting is a time to clean out clutter and make more space and time for other things. In an attempt to make this task more manageable and palatable, I have been taking on small areas where I can clean out, throw out and organize a drawer, cabinet, corner in a relatively short time…under an hour.

The art cabinet is something we bought when the boyz were small to house the obvious – crayons, colored pencils, paper of all kinds, markers, craft materials, tape, etc. It is where they went when they made cards …they made their own construction paper cards until they were 16 or so. Then I realized – oh yeah, they maybe should send something a tad more sophisticated now  :-0 – especially for thank you notes.  In later years the cabinet has also been home to extra school supplies and some wrapping supplies.

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Just a bit of a mess has accumulated!

 

While I did accomplish my goal of ‘cleaning out’….we have a big bag of things my great niece and nephew might like (oh how happy my niece will be to have more stuff in her house ;)…we have a big bag of things for Steve to take to school for students – binders, looseleaf etc…I was not prepared for the emotions that came with this project.

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Crafts, cards, crayons…oh my!

 

In the midst of pulling all the contents of the cabinet out into a pile on the floor, I felt a huge wave of nostalgia and sadness wash over me. Casey was home for the weekend so I did not expect to be in a mode of missing the boyz. Plus this cabinet is not home to their past art projects or school work (we have bins for that downstairs that I now do not want to go near!) so I just did not think I would go down memory lane. But just seeing their pencil cases with the supplies still in them, some old notebooks with names on the front, and the many half pieces of construction paper as they make cards with only half of the sheet, all brought the memories so close. How many times did we say – ‘go get that from the art cabinet’…’that is in the art cabinet’….’please clean up and put it back in the art cabinet’?  I missed those times. It was also a rainy, dreary day which brought a memory of us all being home, doing crafts, making cards…the boyz running around the house with no thought of going anywhere else, for where else was there to go unless it was with Mom and Pop? There is a simplicity to that time of life that I miss. Yet I also know, as my rational brain is still in check here, that it is not all rainbows and roses…it comes with a lot of care taking, stress, teaching and guiding.

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After saying goodbye to the old….

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Ahhhh…so much nice to access what I want or just to walk by 🙂

It was good to feel the sadness and miss the ‘old days’- even if it did not feel good in the moment.  The feeling has passed through me and now I am on the other side of it…enjoying my cleaned out space! 🙂 And both the sadness of missing the past and the enjoyment of the organization feed the love.

Many blessings,

Suzanne

Life is Cycling

So Steve and I went to the Open House at school last week. I was there to sit at the  Dollars for Scholars table (no, I do not miss open house so much that I had to go back despite having no kids there!). I went to sit in the hall at the DFS table as I waited for my fellow board members who were bringing the supplies and across from me was the Parent Teach Organization table. There was a mom and her 2 elementary aged daughters there and then several other moms came up and talked with them, some of whom were other PTO members.  I am not sure I can adequately describe the feeling I had watching this…I was on the PTO when my boyz were in elementary school, though we called it the PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association)….I remember it vividly – sitting at the cafeteria tables having meetings with way too few people, planning activities for the kids as well as fundraisers….all of the things I now do with the DFS board. I was acutely aware that while I recognized most of the people – we do live in a tiny town- I did not know them and they likely did not know me.

We live in a very small town, my husband is a teacher and I am a therapist at the local health center so we know a fair bit of people – especially at school.  Yet I felt like a stranger in there. And I truly felt like I was watching the cycle of life continue right before my eyes. A place that was integral to the boyz lives and our family’s lives, that felt so familiar and comfortable for the last 13 years, suddenly felt strange and slightly unfamiliar. Yet I could watch and listen as these other families were in the midst of the busyness, the involvement and the social life that is parenting and volunteering when you have a young, active children. The feeling was palpable …I did not feel like crying, but there was a sense of grief, of loss and of time moving regardless of what I am/am not doing.

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Seeing the colors change, as they do each year…going through their own cycle of life

Looking around the halls, it seemed like much more than 4 months since Seamus, Brendan and Casey roamed those halls so fluidly and naturally. They did have a particularly likeable and hard working class so teachers always said how much they would be missed.  As much as we know it is true that people are missed,  we also know people quickly move on….it was surreal to feel it so gutterally. When I went on the 3rd floor, aka, the high school floor, several teachers asked about how the boyz were doing (many know from working with Steve), but the rest of the building was oblivious to our change, to the students that have moved on.  It reminded me of grief – when someone dies and everyone rallies around the family but quickly people get on with their lives while the family is still living the loss every day. While it is not that strong, it is the same sentiment, the same idea that was playing out.

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As some leaves have already passed their time,  others are in their beauty..

When Steve came home we talked about it as he also felt it that night. He has been in school for a month and has not talked a lot about how different it feels without the boyz there. They went to his classroom daily from the time they were in Kindergarten…yet much of his year is different so he has not felt their absence at school as profoundly as he expected.  Until Open House.  Steve had previous students, now married with kids of their own, who came to his classroom to say hello. He was also reminded of the cycle of life, how quickly time moves forward and how especially true this feels in small town America where many do not move away so you see the generations repeating themselves right before your eyes. This is both beautiful and sad- it is reassuring to know life goes on….yet sad that phases that feel so significant to us at some point are just over.

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Turkeys moving thru our front yard…just like the ones who preceeded them last year…

Yet are they over? They do stay within us and shape who we become. We would not be the same if we had stayed in Maryland and never moved here….we would not have been touched by the same people, the same experiences, the same natural environment… So I can know that each one of the boyz is inextricably linked to this place, our home and yes, even the school…and with that they, and we as their parents, can move forward with wonder at what will come next…and with appreciation for what we have had here and what resides within us because of that.

Obsessing

Obsession is a word we use freely to describe many things in a lighthearted way. We ‘obsess’ about a boy in high school,  we become obsessed with a avocados or peanut butter M&Ms,  we are obsessed with a certain kind of music…but true obsession feels different. Obsession is defined as ‘a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling’. It is a struggle to have obsessions and can intrude on your daily life.  I have had a tendency towards obsessive thinking – when my brain catches onto something and does not want to let go even though it is not serving me to continue thinking that way.

quotes, life, and inspiration imageMy obsessions often come in the form of ‘if only’ or ‘what if’. In other words – if I had just done X differently, than things would be so different now or might I say even ‘perfect’ now. So the perfectionist and the obsessive are like friends here. But they are not my friends – they are not adding to or improving my life. They are taking away from my values and what I know to be true. That is, that all we have is the present moment….that I want to be a loving kind presence to those around me, and that we all do the best we can at any given moment.

So how can I change this?  I do my go to practices….meditate and journal..write my gratitude list….practice tapping…talk with Steve (who can always present a positive view on anything)…get feedback from my mom or friend Mary Ellen…go outside…listen to a podcast. Sometimes I feel a shift that lasts for days and other times I have to repeat the above steps every hour or every day depending on the potency of the obsession.

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Focusing on the beauty of nature that surrounds me

For today I am choosing to live in the present. I will work, walk, do a few errands, talk with my mom and get ready for my mom, aunt and uncle’s visit tomorrow. I will see my obsessive thoughts with awareness, acknowledgement that they are there and acceptance that this is a thought but it is not who I am. When I accept, I can shift and it is in that practice that I feed the love.

 

Many Blessings,

Suzanne