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Reflections on Motherhood

“Having kids…the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings-is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”

Maria Shriver

Lately, I have been thinking about being a mother. Motherhood isn’t something you typically think about, it is a verb, an action and rarely a mere thought. The reflection began last week, when I saw a young mother in the grocery store trying to contain her toddler. I smiled and told her to enjoy this moment because it goes by so fast. She looked at me as if I was insane and her expression said that this moment was already way too long and she hoped it would go by quicker.  I clearly remember being that young mother with three toddler boys in the grocery store.  Older women,(and I mean that in the nicest possible way) would share these  same words of wisdom with me and my reaction at the time was probably pretty similar. Last week,  I realized with horror, that I was now that older woman.

I am really not sure where that time went or how it slipped by so quickly, especially when those days felt like eternity.  The days when the boys drank food coloring and stained their faces, fingers and everything else in sight. The day we were painting the nursery for their new baby brother’s arrival when they knocked over a can of paint, ran through the spilled paint and all over the house leaving baby blue foot prints on the carpets, wood floors and most surfaces.  The upstairs sink they turned on without my knowledge that ran for hours, flooding the upstairs and my husbands treasured old convertible in the garage below. The memories of dirt, destruction and chaos are vast and yet, each crazy moment is now a treasured gift.

The goal in those days was mere survival. If you were showered and nothing was hugely destroyed, the day was a victory. Little by little those toddlers, ran faster and farther. They started using bikes, skate boards  and pushed every boundary mental and physical that they possibly could.  Those beautiful little faces could destroy you and wear you down, motherhood  was an endurance sport where only the strong survive.

Like a triathlon, you begin the race of motherhood full of energy and excitement for the journey ahead.  The swim is the first part of the course, as you dive in you realize the water is colder than you thought but you are just beginning, so  you visualize your finish line. You focus on that moment on the podium and your shiny metal at the end of the race with these amazing humans you have molded, supported, guided and loved. Quickly, very quickly into the race you realize you are sinking…fast and that the race is going to be longer and harder than expected.

Not to worry, if you can survive the swim, then you are ready for the ride. Once on the bike, those twists and turns on the road of motherhood where school, hurt feelings, sporting activities, homework and planning your daily course is harder than planning a military strategic operation. The ride seems as if it has to be better than the swim and yet the challenges are never ending. They just keep coming.

Still, you hold onto your vision, you dream of the finish line. A polite, kind, educated human, with a diploma and perhaps a job. You finish your ride and begin the run. You are now slower, much slower and yet you are determined to finish the race. You will get that prize and so you push through those last hurdles, roadblocks and obstacles. They are big ones, high school, getting into college and everything teenager that will test your mental strength like never before. You are a survivor. You are strong, you are a mother and you are so close to finishing. Then you see it, the finish line and the tears begin because you now realize you no longer want the race to end.

You see those beautiful children, kind, polite, and good and realize that it was the race, the journey and the challenges that were the joy. Each obstacle overcome is a victory and each failure a lesson in love, patience and endurance. You survived the frigid deep waters of babies and toddlers, the twist and turns along the ride to adolescence and the run through the teenage years and college. The tears stream down your face as you cross the line exuberant, proud, strong and tired. Your vision is real, your prize is waiting with open arms….those beautiful, kind, polite and amazing humans are there just as you imagined and dreamed. You are a mother and your race is almost over and now you just wish you could run part of it again.

Happy Mother’s Day!

charity matters.

 

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A love letter

 

All have you have been on this crazy journey called life with me. Many days the journey involves nonprofits, the incredible people I am privileged to meet, to serve and whose stories I tell. Other days the journey has been personal, I have shared my joy, my sorrow, loss, love and everything in between here on this platform, so it seems only fitting that this large milestone is shared with you as well. Our oldest son is graduating from college this weekend and I am just trying to process it all.

Almost seven years ago when I started Charity Matters, our sons were 16, 14 and 10 and I did everything not to mention them, embarrass them or shine any light in their direction from the blog. Today, however, our oldest has no choice because this love letter is for him.

My dear H-,

Twenty-three years ago you entered this world and made us parents. You taught us what love really means and how to live without sleep. Every new parent writes a secret script for their child. They hold their newborn and envision their first step, teaching to ride them a bike, baseball games, proms, high school graduations, college, first love, first heart breaks and everything in between. We don’t tell anyone our secret parental script but we all have it, the way we think you are supposed to be and who we dream of you becoming.

You taught us to throw away the script early on. You refused to be defined by our expectations or anyone else’s. You arrived on this planet knowing who you were and spent the last twenty-three years informing us. You didn’t want to play with firetrucks but rather vacuums and irons. You didn’t want to play baseball but study how old cars can run on recycled kitchen grease as fuel. You did play sports but only on your terms and more than anything you loved cars, photography, beautiful things, and spending over a thousand hours volunteering to serve the neediest children in South Central Los Angeles. You showed us just how huge your heart is and that you could write a way better script than we ever could.

So this weekend as you graduate from college, you need to know that we have never been more proud to be your parents. You are the most remarkable, honest, real, loving human being and more than that, the world is a better place because you are in it. I know you will continue to surprise us with the script you write and I can hardly wait to read the next chapter. Just know that our hearts are overflowing with love and pride, not because of what you have accomplished in your short life but because of who you are.

Now go into the world and do well but more importantly, do good. We love you!

charity matters.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Let love be the last word

L-O-V-E. Four simple letters that change everything. Love, a word that should always be the first thing said and the last. Anyone who has ever lost someone suddenly knows this. Love and saying, “I love you,“are words to live by.  You hear it, you may think it, but do you actually say it? Life is so short and changes in the blink of an eye and last week we blinked and it changed.

First, was a call that a friend had died unexpectedly. We had seen him two weeks before, told him what he meant to us but had no idea it would be our last hug and in a blink he was gone. Two days later, another 49 year old friend shared that he has 3 months to live and is dying from cancer. The reaction was swift and immediate, hugs, tears and I love yous.  The words didn’t take the pain away and the blows felt like a one two punch, almost too much to process within such a short period of time.  The reality of how fragile our lives truly are came crashing down in a way that just makes everything else seem trivial and irrelevant.

As I watched the evening news that night, still trying to process our loss and find something better to focus on, I saw that a Southwest Jet lost an engine. What struck me wasn’t the pending panic or fear but rather all passengers scrambling to connect with loved ones to make sure they said I love you one last time. Had they started their day with it? Did they say I love you before they got on that flight? Did everyone they care about know how they felt? My sense was no because each of them appeared to try and say it, just one last time.

Fifteen years ago, when I discovered that my mom had died tragically and unexpectedly, one of my first thoughts was,”Did I remember to tell her I loved her before she left for her trip? Was I love you my last word?” I replayed the tape of our last time together over and over until my godmother confirmed that, yes, I had said it. I had a witness and somehow, the pain subsided.

Since that moment, our family doesn’t end a call or leave the house, no matter the rush…without saying , I love you. Angry, late, grumpy we say it. It is a gift and one that I have only recently realized, in light of last week.  Life is precious. It is short. We have so little time and yet somehow, we miss the important stuff. If I died tomorrow, everyone in my life knows that I love them because love is always the last word.

L-O-V-E. Four simple letters that change everything.

 

charity Matters.

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Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Prescription: Downtime

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves;otherwise we harden.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe


 

I have to say that March has been an incredibly crazy month. Life has been so full, so fast, so fun and so much…it’s been a bit like Christmas you can’t really even process what has happened because it is all overwhelming. It started with a huge event and continued with an unexpected ski trip and has truly been an incredible two weeks filled with family, friends, celebrations and fun.

Last weekend we were supposed to be out-of-town but my husband’s cold had us reschedule our plans. The result was an unexpected quiet weekend with everyone thinking we were gone. A gift from the universe for sure. It rained in LA, so it was fires and movies. Saturday was sleeping in and taking a long nap in the middle of the day, who does that? Sunday, came with kids in the house, walks with friends and a family dinner. Basically, all of lives pleasures.

What I always find so fascinating, is that I don’t see any of these gifts until I stop. Stand still. Pause. Listen. Reflect. Of course all of these gifts are all around me, but do I see them when I am zipping through my to do list? Do I notice the joy of being not scheduled? Do I see, really see the smile on my son’s face? Do I notice the beauty all around me on my walk? Do I appreciate life’s blessings? Do I stop to feel gratitude?

The answer is no. It is only when I stop, give myself downtime that I can hear myself, my inner voice speaking. Then in those magical moments I can feel the joy that comes from feeling grateful. I can see clearly what is important and where to redirect my time and attention. It is the quiet of downtime and the gift of rest that resets, refocuses and shifts our attention to what matters and where we are heading next.

The next two weeks are going to be crazy at work.  I am grateful for this respite, refueled and ready to roll up my sleeves and make things happen for those I am privileged to serve. Life is short but we all need to take a moment to simply pause and appreciate all our gifts, especially the gift of downtime. Hoping this weekend brings you yours!

charity Matters.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

A message from grey skies

On an overcast day, I found myself in the most unusual predicament; I was isolated, distraught and home in bed sick. Under the gun at work with year-end wrap-ups due, budget deadlines circling, grants looming ahead and a heap of pressure mounting. More than a cold and the daily life of a nonprofit Executive Director, was the fact that I was home sick, and that I was home without Internet.

The shocking reality began on a conference call from bed that kept going out. Since we live in a canyon, cell service is almost non-existent without the beloved Internet. The landline is also Internet dependent, as clearly, my life has become as well. By 9:30 am it became abundantly clear, as panic set in, that I was completely unable to communicate with the outside world. No phone, no computer, no work….nothing.

Deadlines looming, stress and fever building simultaneously, I thought I might actually combust. My mind spinning with an escape plan, should I go out like this in search of wi-fi or was I delirious from fever? By lunch, I was near hysterical when my husband came home worried since he couldn’t get a hold of me. He also confirmed my worst fear, we were cut off, there would be no Internet until the dreaded cable company was contacted and an appointment made. My reaction to this news was a full melt down of tears. Tears of feeling crappy, tears of frustration and tears because I simply didn’t know what else I could possibly do, except cry?

After, my husband left in search of a saner environment and one with wi-fi, I’m sure. I stared blankly at the white walls of my bedroom and collapsed from exhaustion. A few hours later I awoke with the realization that all of this was a gift. The universe’s way of telling me to rest, to slow down and to simply be….my worst skill by far.

I took a deep breath, leaned back and grabbed a book. Who gets to read in the middle of a grey overcast day from bed? I was just beginning to realize how blessed I was to be away from it all….off the grid, unplugged…whatever it is everyone calls it….when it happened. The buzzing began, the phone went insane with 39 text messages coming in rapid fire, every device pinging me at once and I realized once again to appreciate what you have, when you have it.

The sun broke through the clouds, my fever broke and one by one I dove back into my connected, wired and overly plugged in life.

 

Charity Matters.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

Finding the path by reading the signs

“When the path reveals itself follow it.”

Cheryl Strayed

Have you ever felt lost? Not because you don’t have navigation or you lost your phone…I mean the type of lost where you are really not sure where you are heading in life? The big kind of lost. Perhaps a heavy question for the first Monday in October, but one on my mind. Maybe the beginning of a new month and season has me pondering larger directional questions….

Like everyone, I have my daily routine and path that my phone has now memorized. Each morning I get into my car and the phone announces how many minutes to get to the gym. Is my life really that predictable? Obviously, it is. I find myself wanting to drive the other direction, just to confuse the phone and to break from routine in search of a new destination.  Yet, the problem with being lost is that the path is unclear.  Would I recognize it if it revealed itself?

A few weeks back while driving on the 110 freeway, I asked God for a sign, a direction, anything to give me some navigation and this is what I received….

Seriously? I grabbed the same phone that I cursed earlier, to snap the picture of the license plate in front of me that read TRST GOD. Wow! I have never asked for a sign and received such a quick reply. But before I even reached the second tunnel there was another sign…….literally.

Above the tunnel were the words PERSIST. Trust God and persist. I snapped away trying to process the fact that I was driving with navigation on, yet feeling completely lost. More than that, I was trying to comprehend the fact that I had just asked for a sign and been sent two!

Just when you think you are lost, the path slowly begins to reveal itself. Do I now know where I am heading? No, but somehow I have a profound peace knowing that I am going to persist in finding my way. This fall when the path continues to reveal itself, I will follow it wherever it may lead.

Charity Matters.

 

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Copyright © 2017 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.

What matters?

In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.”

Marianne Williamson

heart-made-of-people 

You have the power.

Charity Matters.

Copyright © 2013 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.