I believe in…

I believe in the power of prayer and I believe in the power of a Mother’s love.

One of the greatest blessings I have is my Mother. This is also one of the reasons I struggle with this disease that is impacting her life so strongly. But I also know beyond the walker and beyond the MS, at the core of who she is, she is my Mom.

Today I am kind of down. I called Mom to express these various reasons with her. It was instinctive really. I felt down, I needed to talk, I called Mom. I called her as I was walking to church on my lunch hour. We talked and she listened. She encouraged and through her voice I felt the presence of her love. Her ability to somehow help me know everything will be alright. I then went to church and prayed. 40 minutes after the start of my lunch hour I felt better. I felt uplifted and I had a more positive perspective.

The Lord gives us Mothers for a reason. I also know he gave me my specific Mom for a reason too. Today I put the two hand in hand, leaned on both of them and this afternoon I feel like everything is going to be okay. My problems aren’t solved, but I do have greater peace of mind. A greater piece of mind I hope to continue and reflect on during this long weekend.

Who or what helps you through a tough time or a tough moment? Who do you call when you need to talk? Wishing you a safe, relaxing and happy holiday weekend!

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This morning I woke up to 10 emails between Mom and Sister K that I was included on beginning at approximately 11:00 last night and ending at 11:30. I was laughing as I tried to decipher how the conversation had gone, the path it had taken and the change in subject over the course of the emails. The silly, pointless, unintelligent conversation. Husband thinks my family can do this like no one else…I am not sure if he means that in a good way or bad way when he says it..

But I have to commend Sister K here. She has a way of sending emails full of spunk, energy and happiness to get Mom out of a funk. She makes them silly and simple and repeatedly calls all of us best friends.

Since my family is going on a cruise next summer we have decided we are going to have “Cruisemas” this year for Christmas. Everyone is thinking of cruise related gifts to buy each other. Sister K is obsessed with buying the “best friends” matching tote bags. That is how the email chain began- selecting monograms, colors, fonts, and then slowly evolving to a bunch of nonsense. We still haven’t reached a decision and we have had pointless emails about this all day. Someone reading these emails might question our intelligence.

The point though is how important these emails are to us. It is impossible for us to be together all day and impossible for us to talk to each other all day. We know Mom is at home the majority of the day without much activity because of the limitations of her MS. These emails are important for her. They lift up her spirits, they make her laugh and roll her eyes at her ridiculous daughters. But they make her feel a part of something fun, every day. Replying all…all together.

One of the luxuries of the current world we live in is all of the options we have for communication. Phone calls, texting, emails, facebook, twitter, blogs, the list goes on. With Mom’s MS and the distance between us, these different methods are very helpful and important for us to use. Sister K and I will use any means necessary to bring a smile to Mom’s face and to make her feel a little happier at times. It may seem basic but it is so important. The art of communication can be the most powerful tool in helping to bring a little happiness to someone’s life- no matter how silly the communication may be.

How do you use the tools of communication to keep in touch with loved ones? Do you enjoy taking a break from real life and acting silly with loved ones? If you had to select a monogram would you pick your first name or initials?

Fighting for MS

I have readers that have shared with me the impact of MS on their lives- those with MS, those with family members and friends with MS, those who have parents with MS. After Mom was diagnosed I immediately went to the MS Society website to begin to learn how I could get more involved in their efforts for a disease that now personally impacted me.

Sister K and I did the MS Walk one year and we really enjoyed it. It was after Mom was newly diagnosed and we wanted to participate. We coordinated our outfits with pink and purple shirts, our official “best friend’s uniform” and then showed up to discover most people were in orange as it is one of the main colors for the MS Society. I found it comical. We were so new to the impact of MS on our lives that it had never occurred to us there would be a unifying color we needed to coordinate with- now we know better.  

It was a powerful experience though. As Sister K and I drove up to see all the people out there to support those with MS, Sister K got tears in her eyes. We were filled with a rush of different emotions because we had never experienced anything like this before. We want to do more and are seeing what else is out there. Maybe someday the MS 150 but that requires quite a bit of committment and training, plus it requires the purchase of a bike.  

I am curious if you have ever participated in fundraising efforts for any purpose, MS related or for any other cause? Did you learn things after the first time you did it? Have you ever done it again?

What’s Your Mantra?

I think life mantras are interesting. Words to live by. Sayings you tell yourself when you don’t know what else to say. They typically appear during the tough times but can also appear during the good times too. In moments where I am overwhelmed or left alone with my thoughts they tend to surface.

I was talking to Mom today about different frustrations Husband and I are dealing with and she responded by saying, just remember “good things come to those who wait.” It was a nice response but what I appreciated more was connecting with Mom over this moment and this mantra. This mantra is one that makes me think of Mom. One that she has applied to her own life and one I have seen played out in my own life up until this point as well. It was also special because I have recently been struggling to sometimes connect with Mom on the phone for various reasons, most of which I think stem from MS. Sometimes our conversations leave me feeling frustrated by my own expectations. Today though it was nice to get some old fashioned advice from Mom.

The conversation got me thinking about life mantras and my own personal ones. The phrases I repeat to myself or others if they were in need of a short tidbit of advice.

One of my favorites:
“Just breathe” -I stole this from the movie Ever After

One Husband and I learned from our sponsor couple during marriage counseling:
“Nothing is ever as bad as it seems and nothing is ever as good as it seems.”

One I started using to find humor in an annoying situation…it is now also one Mom likes to throw around now when describing her MS symptoms:
“Are you kidding me??”

One that is tough and can cause you to reflect forwards and backwards:
“Everything happens for a reason.”

I know these are all over the place but they are the first ones that come to mind. I am curious if you have any life mantras you live by? Where did they come from? How do you use them?

The Magic of the Beach

A recharge weekend. A brief but important escape. A sunburn souvenir. These are all the perfect ways to describe this past weekend. Husband and I headed to the beach for a quick mini-vacation before he begins the 2nd year of his MBA program tomorrow. I didn’t realize how much we needed the mini-vacation until yesterday as we were heading back.

This summer has been one focused on Mom. Husband was also out of town for an internship for most of it too. I know it may sound bad to say but this helped me to balance being a daughter during that tough time with being a wife. But, as Husband and I near our 2 year anniversary in a few weeks I don’t feel any more knowledgeable on that subject than I did when we first got married. That balance is something I am still trying to figure out. Even under completely uneventful circumstances I don’t believe it is something that would happen magically overnight. 

Mom’s MS brings a level of stress to my own life. Husband’s rigorous MBA program has also done the same. Both are out of my control but directly impact my life. Just as I felt Mom’s MS may be settling down, Husband’s job interviews are creeping up indicating a stressful time for us. It’s kind of like a seesaw and I just go back and forth between the two for the time being. It is also difficult balancing that because my roles in both situations are different. On the one hand I am a daughter and on the other hand I am a wife. They are roles I am still figuring out how to shift between on a daily basis as each one can require more of my attention at certain times.

This weekend at the beach helped tie all of this together for me.  I have memories at the beach with Mom and our family when I was younger. I have memories of vacations spent at certain hotels, playing in the ocean with Sister K and eating at our favorite restaurants. It was unique to share that with Husband but also create our own new memories. It was a way to bridge my childhood as a daughter to my adulthood as a wife. It was also a way for me to enjoy both roles without the stress that can come with them. Being at the beach took me back to the basics of life. Whether you are looking out at the ocean or playing in the waves it can be a big cure for a lot of different stresses. No matter what phase of life you are at, the beach is the one place you are never too old to enjoy.

Do you have multiple roles in your family you have learned to balance/shift between? Do you have any special places you went as a child and visited as an adult with different family members? What is your idea of a recharge weekend? Anyone have any remedies for sunburns? I am hurting today and imagine I will be all week. I put on sunscren in the morning but learned the hard way you have to always reapply…

Best Friend Uniform

I love the color purple. It is and always has been my favorite color. I remember when I got engaged one of my friend’s responded and said “time to order my purple party dress.” Yes, I had purple bridesmaid dresses. The specific color was plum. My wedding colors were plum and sage…also known as purple and green. Mom wouldn’t let me say purple and green and it reminded me of the famous scene from Steel Magnolias when Shelby says her colors are “blush and bashful” and M’Lynn responds by saying “her colors are pink and pink.”

Sister K’s favorite color actually is pink. And this has played a big role in our entire lives. Easter egg hunting- my eggs were always purple and Sister K’s were always pink. Picking out tops- Sister K would get pink and I would get purple. Birthday gift wrapping- Sister K’s was pink and mine was purple. You get the picture. And today Sister K and I have decided to embrace the silliness involved with each having a favorite color and try to wear similar outfits for certain occasions in these colors. We call it our best friend uniform. And the fact that bright colors have been so trendy has assisted us in this. Purple shorts/pink shorts, purple pants/pink pants, purple purses/pink purses. It is silly but it is fun for us.

It also brings a little bit of laughter to some otherwise tense situations. We may be struggling to get Mom in and our of the car but we are wearing our purple and pink shorts which lightens the mood or takes the attention off Mom. Our “best friend uniforms.” Outfits and colors Mom associated with each of us and continues to associate with us everyday. The best part of them is it is something Mom began when we were little kids and now we enjoy embracing it to bring back a sense of being Mom’s little girls once again. It’s a mother/daughter thing at its simplest.

Do you have a favorite color? Are you ever drawn to certain colors over others? Did your parents use your favorite colors throughout your childhood? Did you ever wear matching outfits with your siblings?

The Power of Personality

I wish I could spend time observing and analyzing family personalities. I find it fascinating how much the personality of parents can impact their child. How siblings personalities can be so different yet so similar even though they have essentially been raised in the same manner. Then how much the personality of a person will impact who they attract in life. And the cycle continues.

I think I have become so interested in this because my family is a unique one. I have been asked by many people “what did your parents do to make all of you so close?” Or “what did your Mom do to make you so close to her?” When I get asked these questions I feel dumbfounded in a way. How did we get this way? Could it simply just be our personalities?

Especially since Mom got MS I feel at times like everything but the kitchen sink is being thrown at us. It is testing us individually and as a family on a regular basis. It can leave us questioning our actions and responses. Actions and responses that are deeply rooted in our personalities which are deeply rooted in Mom and Dad. I never realized how valuable and how much of a tool my personality would be in dealing with the big parts of life. And of the many traits of my personality, the part that’s the biggest tool against a disease that has potential to destroy my family- my loyalty. Loyalty to my family who I love. Loyalty to our relationship that I am incredibly protective of and will fight to preserve. Without that loyalty I think I might have given up several times, but I don’t. I grab hold of the people I love and together we continue to fight and figure out our new normal.

Do you think it’s interesting to think about people’s personalities? Within your family does your personality play a specific role? How do you think your personality impacts how you deal with challenges? What is your greatest trait to aid you through your tough moments?