nurturing Thursdays: …a star is born…

Thirty years ago I gave birth to a rising star. Today she is just that.

My daughter was featured in the recent music video of singer and former American Idol contestant, Danny Gokey. In it he sings the hauntingly beautiful melody…”Tell your heart to beat again.”

In all the madness that is today’s world, a little touch of sanity in the form of music and choreography reminds us that life is really about loving one another.

We exist…

…to love…and be loved in return.

………hugmamma.

(More inspirational posts are waiting for you at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/nurt-thurs-environment/

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being myself…

That’s what I love most about my husband.

He lets me be myself.

He loves my goofiness, my seriousness, my intelligent moments as well as my dumb ones.

He never defines me, instead letting who I am ring true.

He never for a moment considers if others might think ill of me. And if someone should, it has no influence whatsoever on his loving me.

To him, I’m perfect just as I am. Maybe not for anyone else, but for him there’s no one else.

 

Through my husband’s eyes I’ve come to realize I am “perfect,” just as I am. In moments of self doubt, and, of course, I still get them…I tell myself  that I am a good person. God has let me know that by gifting me with two of His most wonderful creations…my husband and my daughter.

My daughter. When I look into her eyes, I see total, unconditional love…for me. Nothing I do or say can alter that fact. In return, I never overstep my place in her life. Just as I know that I am a good person, I know that she is as well. So why would I need, or want, to trespass upon all that she is?

This morning the imp in me took over and I hid from my husband in the midst of fixing our bed. He had gotten an earlier start to the day, as is his usual routine. He’s an early bird riser. I’m a midnight owl who has no use for worms when I first wipe the sleep from my eyes. I could hear him walking all around in search of me…through the bedroom, adjoining library nook, walk-in closet, bathroom and nearby laundry room. He may even have peeked into the garage. As he strode past the bedroom, I jumped out of my hiding place and scared him. I really did scare him! He kind of froze in place. And then we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. Giggling like high school sweethearts…rather than the middle-aged seniors we really are…we hugged and laughed and laughed and laughed.

I’m lucky. Real lucky. My husband loves me…

…just as i am.

………hugmamma.

 

…above and beyond…

‘Tis the season to be…the best mom I can possibly be.

If there’s one thing in my life I’m particularly proud of it’s that I’m a good mom. No. I’m a great mom!

Forgive me for tooting my own horn, or as is more appropriate nowadays…taking my own selfie and sharing it with all of you.

But even I have to admit that I might have gone a bit over the top in my latest venture as a great mom.

A few weeks ago my daughter was home for a long weekend. Misty Copeland, the first African-American ballerina recently promoted to the level of principal dancer with NYC’s American Ballet Theatre had asked my daughter to be part of a question-and-answer panel following the Seattle premiere of “A Ballerina’s Tale.” While only a short 3-day stay, my husband and I were thrilled to have our daughter with us. Unfortunately not many attended, but those who did enjoyed a lively discussion about women of color and muscular physique struggling to make a career in the elite world of ballet.

While she was here, I offered to help my daughter shop for Christmas gifts for her fiancé as well as her friends. Knowing how busy she is dancing, teaching and choreographing, I felt I could help relieve some of her stress during the days leading up to Christmas. Besides which we always have such a grand time shopping together. We laugh lots. We commiserate. We eat. We gossip. Our common adrenalin keeps us pumped and going strong. Although when it comes to shopping, I’ve more stamina than my daughter. She’s a wuss by comparison. And she’d be the first to agree.

So after my daughter returned home to her hectic life, I got busy wrapping, boxing and shipping packages. A few packages found their way to Las Vegas, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. These were to close friends of my daughter’s. The bulk, however, were postmarked to my daughter and her fiancé…gifts from her to him…and from us to both of them. There were a couple of items earmarked for the mother-daughter team who own the competition dance studio where my daughter teaches. In all there were exactly 7 boxes, mostly 12/12’s, but a couple 18/18’s. I hate to tell you what the costs were in wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbon, tissue AND airmail postage.

I told my husband…and my daughter…we’d send them on a cruise next year. She and …her husband of 6 months. (They wed next summer.) Of course I was being facetious.

Or was I? Hmmm…

Thankfully her dad weighed in by hauling the boxes to our local post office and paying for the shipping. I wouldn’t have had the energy, nor would I have been able to withstand the unwelcome stares by other customers, or the humorous comments by the postal workers. My husband has the skin of a rhinoceros when it comes to other folks and what they think. He could care less. Me? I’m still in training.

Mind you my daughter never asks for my help in such matters. She’ll always get around to doing what she can, when she can. She doesn’t stress like me that way. There’s just something about her that makes me want to be her mom…always. Helping her however and whenever I can. 

My 6 decades+ old body is telling me…very vehemently…that I cannot keep this up. I cannot burn the midnight oil doing extra work on top of what I already pile on top of myself in my own life, which includes my own antiques business.

Don’t feel overly sorry for me though. I do reward myself with little pleasures now and then…like dining out on Thanksgiving Day. A treat hubby and I will repeat when we partake of another sumptuous buffet at the same restaurant on Christmas Day. No cooking. No cleaning.

…just smiles and happy vibes all around.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

a daughter…is a daughter

Laughter. Tears. Gossip. Advice. Stories.

Laughter...

More laughter. Always…more laughter. And stories. Stories galore.

These are the benefits I’ve enjoyed since my daughter returned to our empty nest. 

Because she spent her teen years totally devoted to training for a career in dance, I missed what most moms experience with their daughters. The conservatory she attended had no proms, no homecoming games. The handful of boys could not have met the social needs of the predominantly female private school.

As far as my husband was concerned, it was as though our daughter was safely tucked away in some convent. No guys…no problems.

I was fortunate enough to be with my daughter the first 2 1/2 years she spent training with Atlanta Ballet in Georgia. Having seen her in their summer program, she was encouraged to return to them during what would have been her senior year. It was a time of tumult…professionally and personally. Normalcy was at a premium. Everything revolved around dance.

Ballet Lift

Parenting a wannabe ballerina must closely resemble grooming an Olympic ice skater. You do what you can to help your child succeed. Even in the face of adversity and rejection, you remain positive, offering whatever support you can to help sustain the dream.

A career in the performing arts matures kids…fast. Not only must they deal with who they are becoming physically, but they must also be open to adapting their appearance to their job description. Even if they have to “read between the lines.” Because you know it’s not going to say…”You need to be a waif, or else.”

Beyond the physical, dance hopefuls must conduct themselves like adults. Be respectful. Be on time. Be prepared. Be responsive to correction. Be adept at learning choreography, and remembering roles learned in back-to-back rehearsals for a couple of different productions.  Be competitive…while being a team member. Be responsible for themselves…in all ways.

I know middle-aged adults who don’t have half the life skills my daughter has acquired during the 11 years she has been in the professional dance environment. At 27, she could conduct a class in…how to get the most out of life…with a whole lot of passion…and not a lot of money.

So you see, I’m learning how to strive while being contented, from my own personal YODA…my daughter…my hero…

…my bff…best friends forever…

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

 

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

…stuff, stuff, and more stuff…

Or as we Hawaiians like to say…OPALA, OPALA, and more OPALA…

Imported Photos 00519

…my daughter’s “opala”…

We may fool ourselves into thinking we have just the right amount of stuff, until we try to cram in more. Of course with our daughter moving back home, I’m not talking about a few boxes. I’m talking about a lot of boxes, a couple of dressers, a sofa, a small dining set, a wingback chair, a bookcase, a huge cabinet, a corner cabinet, a computer desk with chair, lamps, pictures…and all the accompanying knick-knacks. And then there’s her clothes…don’t ask!

...more of her stuff...

…more of her stuff…btw, that weird, penguin-looking thing in the chair is a massager…just in case you were wondering…

None of this is really our daughter’s fault, however. I take most of the blame. Having her live 3,000 miles from us since she was 16, I wanted her to feel as though she was still ensconced in the loving spirit of our home. She grew up with vintage furnishings which lend themselves to a feeling of coziness, and that’s what I wanted to recreate for her.

My decorating plan worked wonderfully. Our daughter flourished during the 11 years she’s been on her own. I like to think it was due, in part, to her loving her personal surroundings. She assures me it was. I don’t doubt her…since she’s not donating the lot of it to Goodwill. Although she did part with a good bit of tchotchkas when she moved from an apartment suspected of having bed bugs, even though only one larva was discovered in the seam of the bed’s boxspring.

...my "opala"...

…my “opala”…

Because I’m a nut for antiques, our daughter couldn’t help but have some of it rub off on her. Like mother, like daughter. Thankfully, she’s like her father too. He’s got attributes I wish I had…like ignoring people and things that can bug the heck out of me. With his guidance, I’m learning…I’m learning.

So if I’ve spent the last few weeks rearranging my house in preparation for my daughter’s homecoming, I’ve only got myself to thank. Of course the overriding sentiment is that it’ll all be worth it to have her with us…for as long as she’s with us.

God works in mysterious ways, so it’s best to…

…just go with the flow…

………hugmamma.

...two peas in a pod...

…two peas in a pod…bff’s forever…

sunshine…in my heart

I may live in an area where skies are gray more months than I care to admit…10 out of 12.IMG_1705

I may get rained upon more often than I’d like.

The cold may chill me right down to my bones, activating my arthritis…big time.

My garden and I may not keep company as much as we’d like…the weeds love it…as do the bunny rabbits and deer.

Walking Mocha isn’t as much fun when it’s wet…for me.

The upside is…and there’s always an upside…I can hibernate and not feel guilty about it!

Screenshot of Tyrone Power from the trailer fo...

Screenshot of Tyrone Power from the trailer for the film Alexander’s Ragtime Band (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can watch TCM‘s oldies but goodies…give me Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara…any day of the week.

Turning on all the lights in the house brings the sunshine indoors.

Cuddling with my pets is something we all like.

Warming my innards with a cup of hot tea and dunking ginger cookies to nibble upon…well! could life get any better?

But in my bag of tricks there’s one precious item that never allows me to descend into the doldrums. It is the sunshine that I hold within my heart all year round…my daughter!

I celebrate Mother’s Day… 365 days a year. 

And as I use to do when she was a child…I sing this lullaby to her…

You are my sunshine,

my only sunshine,

you make me happy,

when skies are gray.

You’ll never know dear,

how much I love you.

Please don’t take my sunshine away.

My prayer for you who are also mothers is that you are blest with…

…everlasting sunshine too!!!…Imported Photos 00065

………hugmamma. 

please…take care…

Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits

Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s Saturday morning!

What got me out of bed so bright and early?

Another post…what else!

Before I go there however, I’d like to explain why my flaws are often the jumping off point for my writing.

It’s because I’d really like to help you learn from my mistakes or inaction…if possible.

So back to the story at hand.

My previous piece…“Wellness”…got me thinking about my mom.

Raising a large family as a widow meant we lived from paycheck to paycheck. As a result my mom’s needs came last.

I never remember her visiting the doctor. She could barely afford to take us. We were lucky to have a kind physician minister to our health problems. Dr. Fleming never pressed my mom for payment, allowing her to pay what she could…when she could.

My mom suffered greatly from arthritis, especially in her knees.

Her sorrowful groans would awaken me in the early morning hours. The floor boards creaked as she paced back and forth. Until the pain subsided, she could not sleep.

I’d lay quietly, praying for God’s help, tears streaming down my cheeks.

Not even her arthritis could keep my mom from going to work, an hour’s drive from home.

She was the laundress for a Catholic orphanage…The Children’s Home. She often helped in the kitchen, and sometimes chaperoned the older kids, driving them to school functions on the weekends.

It’s difficult to understand how my mom dealt with her health issues, including high blood pressure and diabetes, without the help of doctors. As sole breadwinner, she had no time for self-pity. My mom took care of herself, and us, as best she could.

Comparing our lives would be like comparing apples and oranges.

I’m extremely fortunate to have my husband of 42 years by my side. His generosity has been a blessing for my daughter and me. We are truly grateful for his loving care and support.

Whenever I think of my mom it is with deep regret that she could not have enjoyed a better life. One that included a lifelong companion.

Someone of her own to love…and love her.

Someone who would have helped shoulder the burdens…and kiss away her tears.

Someone with whom she might have shared secrets…and belly laughs.

My mom might have been spared much of the physical and mental anguish she suffered throughout her life…had she someone to help pay for her medical care.

Alzheimer’s stole whatever remained of my mom’s indomitable spirit…when she died at 86.IMG_4143

It’s never too late…

…to look to your own well-being…and that of a loved one…whatever their age…

………hugmamma.

We all have special people in our lives. I thought this photo and these loving words…said it best.

………hugmamma.

Creativity Aroused

My Diamonds
My Diamonds, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
bumps in the road
reveal one’s true friends
exquisite diamonds
>>:::<<

I love this photo because of the people in it.  This is my hubby and my mother, the two most important people in my life.  They are my rocks.  Together, they make an even stronger and more solid rock…my rock…a rock tailored for me.  Throughout my struggles over the years, they have remained on this journey with me with constant help, support and encouragement.  When you encounter “bumps in the road,” you learn who is with you for the long haul…and who is not.

Also, they are both mine!  Yes, I am possessive about that.  Hubby is MY hubby.  I’m an only child, and the only one who calls my mother, “Mom.”  From those perspectives, they are both mine.

They are exquisite diamonds!

(This…

View original post 83 more words

growing older…together

Just celebrated my 63rd birthday…

Having my daughter with me to mark the passing of another year was by far the best present she and my husband could’ve given me. She for wanting to spend it with me; he for making her trip home possible.

Though 37 years her senior, my daughter and I relate to one another as if we were contemporaries. We chat, we gossip, we giggle, we laugh, we tease and joke, we toast and advise one another, we discuss men and relationships and friendships, we talk politics of which we’re in agreement.

Shopping together is like hunting for treasure. Finding clothes for my daughter is a breeze since youth and a dance career keep her marvelously fit. Past my prime, with my body in constant need of a tune-up, repairs or a major overhaul, clothes that fit is a hit-or-miss venture for me. Mostly it’s a dead-end street. Nonetheless, we have a blast whether or not we return home with anything to show for our to-ing and fro-ing.

My daughter keeps me young. While in Pittsburgh with her a few weeks ago where she danced with a friend’s contemporary company, I kept her theater hours. Finding somewhere to dine at 11 p.m. every night was a challenge, as was rising early the next morning to breakfast before she headed off to do run-throughs for that night’s performance.

We kept up the pace the following couple of weeks while she was home visiting.

Most nights my daughter and I would watch old movies together, while nearby my husband caught 40 winks, head back, jaw relaxed, snores streaming from his open mouth.

Sleeping in very long was never an option for my daughter and me. There was so much we wanted to do…8:15 a.m. exercise classes, chiropractic and doctor appointments, visits to favorite haunts as well as discovering new ones, errands, shopping, playing with our pets, family walks in the evening.

When did my child become my best friend?

It’s been less than a decade since I was parent and disciplinarian. Unlike some who preferred to be friends with their children, rather than mothers, I relished being guardian and teacher to my only child. I wanted to make the most of what seemed a miracle birth after 16 years of marriage.

I was no Blessed Mother, but I gave the job my all. Love and communication were my tools of choice. Still are. Something I took away from the oft times difficult relationship between my mom and me.

Today I reap the rewards of a foundation well laid.

Growing older and wiser…and more in love with one another as the years pass…

…my daughter and me…

………hugmamma. 

“do i look like i’m dying?”

…reads the title to Cosmopolitan Magazine‘s recent article about Leslie Krom. It goes on to say “Leslie Krom, 28, has been given a tragic diagnosis. She probably won’t live past the age of 35. Her reaction? Live large–each second she has left.”

Writer Anna Davies captures Leslie’s story in a beautifully written article. But to hear it in Leslie’s own words as she stood onstage only yards away from where I sat at the American Cancer Society fundraiser last night, was indeed gut-wrenching. I don’t know if I’d have wept fewer tears were I not so in love with my own beautiful daughter, the keeper of my heart and soul.

At times I wanted to embarrass myself and stride boldly onto the stage to enfold Leslie into my arms to quiet the tears that interrupted her words now and again. Even now my eyes well up as I remember her confidence, halting at times because of the diseases that afflict her…cancer and epilepsy.

Leslie’s pleas were to “savor the moments” she and others like her, have yet to live. Her tears weren’t those of self-pity, although my mother’s heart broke when she recalled how middle-schoolers taunted her bald scalp and bloated body upon her return from battling cancer. Reliving the bad times seemed to energize her argument for ensuring that children with cancer be  afforded the opportunity to be loved as they are, and to thrive as best they can, looking forward to the wonderful times the rest of us take for granted.

A beauty, a red-head, well-spoken, always smiling, a sense of humor, a spokesperson for those unable to speak so eloquently, a child any mother could be proud of…I give you…Leslie Krom…as told to Anna Davies for Cosmopolitan Magazine.

   Recently, I was at happy hour with some friends when a cute guy walked up to me. “What does a pretty girl like you do with yourself?” he asked, clearly flirting. The bar was buzzing with young people burning off postwork energy. And while I looked like I belonged there, I knew I was different. I paused to think for a second, then responded, “Mostly, I take care of myself. It’s kind of a full-time job.”
   I’m sure he interpreted that as my being a high-maintenance diva with a trust fund and a calendar full of salon appointments–which couldn’t be further from the truth. What I meant was, I have cancer. It’s going to kill me very soon. And dealing with that is a full-time job.
  
 A Really Bad Hand
   A few years ago, everything in my life was clicking into place. Despite being diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, when I was 13, I’d been in remission for more than 10 years. I had a cool new job, a cute apartment in a trendy Seattle neighborhood, and weekends filled with yoga classes, volunteering, and hanging out with friends.
   When I was 25, my doctor had given me more bad news: I’d developed uncontrolled epilepsy. When I started having frequent seizures, I had to quit my job and move in with my mom. But within a year, doctors had come up with a combo of meds for me, and my seizures were becoming a bit more manageable. I convinced my mom that I could go back to living on my own.
   I thought my life was almost back on track, but I was in for a major shock: I had cancer again. This time, it was a rare type called multiple myeloma. And even though it was still in a very early stage and could remain that way for several years, my doctor said that once it began growing–and it would–it would kill me. Not in decades, but in years. Basically, I was going to die, most likely before I turned 35.
   I felt like I’d been hit by a sledge-hammer. Wasn’t it enough that I was a childhood cancer survivor? That I had epilepsy? How could life be so unfair? I don’t even remember how I got home, but when I did, I just curled up in bed and hibernated. I couldn’t come to terms with my new future. I wouldn’t get married. I wouldn’t have kids. Any chance of having a typical life was over.
   A Life Worth Living
   After two weeks of sleeping and crying, I finally told my mom. We’d been through so much together–she’s always been my main source of support–I felt guilty putting something this huge on her plate. But she jumped right into action, immediately urging me to focus on the good. It was hard to see that there was anything good about my life at first, but I started seeing a therapist, and little by little, I saw it. I have my mom. I have friends. And I’ve always had a backbone of steel.
   I needed that backbone when I broke the news to my friends. It’s really uncomfortable to sit there while peoploe cry and feel sorry for you. And while they all meant well, sometimes what came out of their mouths pissed me off. One friend held my hand and intensely said, “I know you’re dying, and I’ll be by your side every step of the way.” I yanked my hand away and snapped, “I’m not dying!” It’s not that I’m in denial–I know I have a terminal disease. But if I lived my life thinking about how I’m dying, it would be impossible to go on.
   I told my friends this: I want them to treat me like Leslie the girl who bungee jumps every chance she gets, not Leslie the girl who’s dying.
   For the next couple of years, I focused on having fun. I searched for the best sushi spots, went on girlie getaways, and smiled my way through a few online dates. But as the cancer progressed, it was time to make a huge decision about my treatment. A stem-cell transplant or radiation had better chances of fighting the disease. But I chose a low-dose round of oral chemo–the least invasive option, with the worst odds against my cancer.
   It was an easy choice for me. I didn’t want to spend my life feeling weak or in a hospital. I didn’t want to be away from the people I love. I chose quality of life over quantity. Some people felt I wasn’t fighting hard enough. But I say, there’s nothing to battle because I already know cancer will never win. Friendship and love are stronger than cancer. My memories are stronger than cancer. And my spirit is way stronger than cancer.
   I won’t say having cancer doesn’t suck. I often sleep for 23 hours straight, I have joint pain, and I have no idea what’s going on inside my own body. But I see an opportunity: I know when and how I’m going to die, so I’m not wasting time. I’m doing everything I’ve ever wanted to do–like going on all the rides at the Stratosphere in Vegas and diving with sea turtles off the coast of Mauinow. And I plan to keep flirting it up with hot guys at happy hour until it’s time for me to go.

“Out of the mouths of babes.” Could we who have lived longer said it any better? Savor the moment…

…for each one adds up to…a life lived…fully…

………hugmamma.