living her best life: #57…pat’s new normal

Just the other day someone asked how my sister-in-law Pat was doing after her recent stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. It reminded me that I’d not posted about her ongoing battle with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis in some time.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her, it’s just that I’d not been posting anything in quite some time. When I sit down at my laptop for any extended period, I tend to lose track of time and forget about everything else. In deciding to see to other areas of my life, I’ve resisted my passion…to just write.

Pat is doing well. She’s not perfect, but she’s on track…feeling healthy and looking forward to what each day brings. She’s returned to work. Yes! She’s back at work. She’s eating as best she can, given that her molars were extracted. From a photo she texted me a week or so ago, Pat’s smiling broadly. And best of all, her sense of humor is still intact.

When I asked if she wanted to reflect upon her time in Minnesota, Pat replied…

I haven’t really reflected yet on everything I went through at Mayo. Part of me doesn’t want to relive it and the other part thinks “Oh. That’s old news. I’m looking more toward the future…the uncertainty of it is a little scary so it’s still a challenge. I’m thinking of going back to work next month…I wish I could just retire and know that everything will be fine. On the other hand work keeps my mind sharp and occupied.

A week later, she wrote…

We are all doing good here…keeping an eye on the approaching hurricane. I’m feeling stronger every day and am planning to go back to work on Tuesday. I figured out the best time of day to take my meds to optimize how I feel during the day. I just have to remember to be careful in crowds and stay away from sick people. I’m back to “I don’t feel sick” which is good, but I have to remind myself that I’m not in the clear yet.

What’s next for Pat? 

As I understand it, she’s looking forward to the 100th day-post-stem cell transplant…and what it brings. She won’t need to return to the Mayo Clinic, instead she will meet with her own physician in Hawaii. Meanwhile she will be on one medication til then, and at least two others for the next year.

Once she left Rochester and the Mayo Clinic back in August, Pat and Brad spent a few days in Duluth, Minnesota, before heading to Minneapolis where they caught their flight home.

We are enjoying ourselves in Duluth right now. From our room we can watch huge ships roll in night and day…it’s pretty amazing. Lake Superior is pretty cool too. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was the Atlantic Ocean. Being here is therapeutic, nice bright room, lots of sunshine and a body of water that reminds us of home. We’re staying one extra day here.

We are in Minneapolis now…big city…long gone are the fields and fields of corn. Duluth was very therapeutic and I’m glad we went there. Now that we’re in the city we have the opportunity to go to concerts or shows but I don’t think I’m up for that. Theaters and shopping are close by and we are near Target Center (basketball arena?) and where the new stadium for the Vikings is being built. Neither team has anything going on…thought we would catch a ball game or football training camp practice. Well I’m really ready to go home…the sisters and my mom-in-law are going over on Saturday to clean. Julie’s also going to clean out my fridge and do a little shopping for me. I also asked if Dennis could make some pork with squash…yes, my appetite is back full force but my tongue is still swollen so sticking with soft foods and lots of soups.

So “How’s Pat doing?” Well, she could be better. She’d probably prefer it if she could revert back to her old normal. Yet that’s not how my sister-in-law operates. Pat pretty much goes with what’s on her plate. She’s acclimating to what’s been dished up without a whole lot of whining and complaining. It could be her island mentality…her Catholic upbringing…being the youngest of twelve..the mother of two teenage boys…or having awesome parents as role models. It’s more likely a combination of all these factors.

All I know is Pat’s become my role model.

Life is about change, good or bad. Better to accept that as fact and work with what we’re dealt at any given time. None of us can go back to the old normal. It’s always being tweaked…by us or by fate. We can make life good…or we can make life hell. It’s up to us.

I count myself lucky to have someone in my life to show me how it’s done.

…thanks, pat.

………hugmamma.

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nurturing thursdays: sins of the father…

…are visited upon the son. And the daughter, I would add.

Much of what seems to be occurring in the world these days, whether it be religious fanaticism or racial prejudice or sexual/physical/mental abuse seems to have its roots in the past…our past, individually and collectively.

How does a child learn to discern what’s acceptable and what’s not? First and foremost from their parents, and then from other adults who serve as role models. Whether the results be good or bad, prior generations set the example for those who come next.

Wouldn’t it be great if the slate could be wiped clean of the dumb stuff with the birth of new generations?

Perhaps not.

It might be that our immorality reinforces the need for our morality. If everything were flawless, would we even care…about anything? Would life bore us to tears?

With struggle and failure comes passion and desire to achieve…the unattainable. Our lives have purpose and meaning.

We are here to be, as our beloved Lincoln put it so hopefully in his first inaugural address to the nation on the eve of the Civil War…

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature

My hope for everyone this holiday season, that we be…

…better angels of our nature.

………hugmamma.

Other inspirational offerings can be enjoyed at…

https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/nurturing-thurs-peace-2/

nurturing thursdays: love among the ruins

Yesterday my daughter and I saw Meryl Streep’s latest film, August: Osage County. Other famous actors were cast, among them Julia Roberts.

We were prepared for some light-hearted fare, a comedy with a sprinkling of drama. Instead we were thoroughly surprised by the heavy drama about which there was very little to laugh.

The byline should have read…tragic mayhem in a fractured family. The film was reminiscent of  holiday dinners one hears about where family members spew venom across a table of delightful goodies.

If I had to describe the film in one word it would be…ugly. 

While both Streep and Roberts seem to be aging beautifully without the help of bottled potions, their depictions of the main characters  was anything but. I’m certain neither actress is really like the persons they portrayed, a bitch of a mother whose daughter followed suit.

I’ve always felt that parents play a big role in determining the outcome of their offspring. After all, we are their first role models, like it or not. Like the monkeys, our children imitate what they see us do. Understanding what it is they’re doing comes later, sometimes much later. Like when we’re adults unable to change who we’ve unwittingly become.

The silver lining to an otherwise tragic story is that we can break the pattern. We needn’t continue the legacy of bad parenting. It may take all that we have to cut the ties that bind us to an abusive past, but for the sake of future generations we must. Otherwise, endless lives continue to be heaped upon the landfill of lost souls.

August: Osage County is rife with lost souls…Streep’s husband who commits suicide because he can’t continue living with a venomous wife…Streep’s sister who ceaselessy hurls abuse at the son she fathered with Streep’s husband…Streep’s daughters, Roberts who has taken up the mantle of her mother’s razor-edge tongue, and her sisters of whom one can only find love with the brother whom she thought was a first cousin, and the other sister who is marrying a lech because he promises her an island honeymoon.

Perhaps the film’s characters are over-the-top, but I’m sure we all know someone who has suffered the effects of  abuse that made its way from one generation to the next.

Love is key to finding one’s way back from a life of purgatory on earth. Love of one’s self, nurtured by the supporting love of others.

…a big step forward is not being closed off to love…

………hugmamma.

...a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations...

…a loving mother of 12 who continues to serve as a great role model for future generations…

go julia!!!

Seventeen (magazine)

Seventeen (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NBC news  recently shone the spotlight on teen ballerina, Julia Bluhm. From Maine, a normal looking youngster…with a passion for activism. Her debut efforts at effecting change? Getting Seventeen Magazine to stop photoshopping its models’ pictures.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

Another benefit of aging, for there are some, is that vanity takes a permanent back seat. At some point we realize no matter what we try, short of comprehensive plastic surgery, we’re not going to alter our genetics.

A glance in the mirror confirms that I’m looking more like my mom with each passing day…especially without makeup. I’m fighting the battle of the bulge, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to regain the figure I enjoyed in my 20s, 30s, and even 40s.

Who decided that ordinary women with looks ranging from…dour…to homely…to lovely…to breathtakingly gorgeous…wanted to see only one end of the spectrum represented in advertising and in the media. Whoever it was, or whoever they were, must’ve thought we were gullible sheep who wouldn’t buy anything unless touted by foxy hotties.

These days I tend to look past the glam and listen for substantitive words instead. I’m not saying beautiful women have no place in the world. They just don’t represent ALL the women in the world.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see faces and bodies more akin to those reflected back from our mirrors?

Advertisers need to overhaul their perception of what women want. We can help them by boycotting their products.

I for one could easily see Victoria Secret Angels banished for good. Flaunting their scantily clad bodies, these women invite men to fantasize. Some acting out their fantasies with murderous results.  And young girls to imagine themselves as less than, if they don’t see themselves reflected in these sensual goddesses.

How do I start this petition rolling?

 

Victoria's Secret Black Friday at Westfield Sa...

Victoria’s Secret Black Friday at Westfield San Francisco Centre 2009 (Photo credit: Steve Rhodes)

…or am i just a lone voice?…   😦

………hugmamma.   

warm and sunny…just like mama

It’s been awhile since I’ve bolted from bed, putting fingers to keyboard because  thoughts and words started assembling like soldiers in a military dress parade. But I was given my marching orders, so here I am, albeit a little bleary-eyed still.

All this to do about a holiday honoring women of the world, hell-bent on doing a great job. Whether charged with the care of one, 9, or however many, moms awake each day to the sounds of their offspring calling their generic name…mommy, ma, mama, mom, or mother. Can’t warm to that one myself; but to each her own.

Memories are unique, according to one’s own experiences and perceptions. Today I remember the warmth and sun…of my mom.

Mama wasn’t perfect…neither am I.

She gave away hugs…the same ones I now share…as “hugmamma.”

Though poor, she was always “dressed to the nines,” her hair coiffed in the style of the day. A habit I’ve acquired.

A quick smile, an infectious laugh, twinkling eyes as if to say…”Have your best day.” She left me that too…that which I give to you.

Sunday best required a hat. Mama bought me Easter ones…when she could. A new, store bought dress was included…if it didn’t “break the bank.”

A pot of soup for a sick friend or neighbor; a kindness returned when mama was “under the weather.” I helped transport the generous offering…both ways.

Mama left me her “green thumb” and passion for gardening. I love flowers, their colors, their fragrances, their attraction to birds, butterflies and bees. I can feel her beside me, when I’m pulling out weeds.

Each Christmas she handcrafted wreaths from evergreen branches we’d gathered, along with wire clothes hangers, newspaper strips and string. Mama’s strength and dexterity always amazed me. As did her gifting these homemade treasures to friends and relatives.

When I was sick she’d minister to my every need, lathering my chest and throat with Vicks to break up the congestion. Or massaging my upset tummy with warmed oil because she said I had “bush.” A Portuguese term for a “turned stomach,” according to mama. The onset of which probably occurred when I took a tumble.

She let me burn a small candle once when I was playing with my dolls. My brother complained, saying I’d start a fire. Mama defended my frivolity.

 Sundays at the beach, running its length, the warm Pacific waters our reward. Mama took time out of her busy week to ensure my siblings and I had fun.

TARO PATCHES ALONG HIGHWAY 36. TARO ROOT IS TH...

TARO PATCHES ALONG HIGHWAY 36. TARO ROOT IS THE BASIS OF POI, A TRADITIONAL HAWAIIAN DISH – NARA – 554077 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trudging through murky, muddy Taro patch waters, mama taught me to scour the bottom for “pupus.” Hawaiian relatives of the French escargot, the smell of pupus boiling on the stove was enough to send me running out to play.

Prying the meaty critter out of its shell with a safety pin and popping it into my mouth was not my fantasy snack. No amount of cajoling or pressure got me to down that nasty mollusk.

So how is it that I now relish the taste of escargot  bathed in garlic butter?

Mama cheered proudly when I stood before a basketball crowd as lead high-school cheerleader. 

She made my costumes for school plays.

Tänzerin beim Hula ʻauana im Wettbewerb

Tänzerin beim Hula ʻauana im Wettbewerb “Miss Aloha Hula”, Merrie Monarch Festival 2003, Hilo, Hawaiʻi, USA; Pentax Z 20, Tamron Zoom AF/MF 3,8-5,6/28-200 mm aspherical (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For Hawaiian dance recitals, she helped gather koa seeds for the leis we strung, and ti-leaves for the hula skirts she made.

All the small and big things mama did for me…I do for my daughter. Some days joyfully; others, like a zombie.

I wouldn’t trade my memories for someonelse’s…nor my job as mom…for another.

Great days or less than…my heart overflows.

…mama wasn’t perfect…and neither am i…

…hugs of aloha…on mother’s day…and all days…

………hugmamma.

Happy..Happy.. Mother's Day :-)..

 

a role model?…more than

Most of you know of my dear friend Sylvia. From time to time she visits me on the internet, sharing some juicy tidbit sent by her UK network of friends and family. I first wrote of her in my post, “role models, aging gracefully,” dated 8-24-10.

My friend who’s 70ish is admirable not only because she’s such a fashion-plate, which she is, but also because she is laden with health issues that would bring a younger, stronger woman, like me, to my knees. I’m a wuss by comparison. Like an older sister, sometimes a mom, my girlfriend was a smoker for many years, but was finally able to kick the habit. Whether as a result of smoking or having had it beforehand, she continues to suffer with emphysema which is compounded by asthma. Weighing under 100 pounds she’s a lightweight, but she can be as “tough as nails” when debating her opinion. I’ve never tested her, and am not about to try. I’d rather have her in my corner. When a coughing fit overtakes her, she can easily bruise some ribs. As a last resort her doctor prescribes prednisone which eliminates the cough, but leaves my friend with side effects that linger. She has bouts of diverticulitis which has her curled up in great pain. Throughout our 13 years of friendship, she’s been poked, probed, xrayed, cat-scanned, MRI’d more than anyonelse I know. With the help of a physician who’s cared for her, REALLY CARED, my amazing friend always seems “as fit as a fiddle.” I forget her medical history until another episode occurs, and it always does.

I think I dress rather smartly, but when I’m out with my friend and her husband I know she’s outdone me. Not that I mind, for I am simply in awe of  her sense of style, wearing skirts and dresses that I never would, simply because they wouldn’t look as well on me. They’re not my “cup of tea,” but they suit my girlfriend to a tee. And the jewelry, she can wear several gold bangles, rings on several fingers, including on her toes, and of course, earrings. Stunning is the only word to describe her. Whether she’s lounging at home or stepping out, in my estimation, she’s always “dressed to the nines.”

You can continue to read more wonderful things about Sylvia, for there’s definitely more good things to be said about her, by going to the original post mentioned above. I just wanted to give you an inkling of who she is, before you read further. And you’ll want to read further, I guarantee you. Enjoy this little “gem” from Sylvia…

NO CHEATING!!!

I was really surprised to find out who my role was.

DON’T scroll down until you do the SIMPLE math below. It’s crazy how accurate this is!

NO PEEKING!

1) Pick your favorite number between 1-9
2) Multiply by 3, then
3) Add 3
4) Then again multiply by 3 (Go get the calculator…). You’ll get a 2 or 3 digit number
5) Add the digits together

Now scroll down…

With the last number, see who YOUR ROLE MODEL is from the following list:

According to Keirsey, Oprah Winfrey may be a T...

Image via Wikipedia

1)  Bill Clinton
2)  Oprah Winfrey
3)  Jessica Simpson
4)  Sarah Palin
5)  Laura Bush
6)  Hilary Clinton
7)  Ronald Reagan
8)  Ron De Roma
9)  my friend Sylvia
10) Barbara Walters

 

I know. I know. I just have that effect on people. One day, you too can be like me.

P.S. Stop picking different numbers! I AM YOUR ROLE MODEL! Deal with it!!!

now she’s your role model too…gotta love sylvia…i do…hugmamma.

“laughter,” always heart healthy

You might think my friend Sylvia sits at her computer all day, laughing. I can assure you she doesn’t. Her house is immaculately kept. She knits up creations that could make her wealthy if she didn’t give them away. She and Jim pet sit without hesitation. They’re also active participants in their retirement community, socializing, as well as helping others in need. Sylvia is the last of her generation, I’m sure, to hand write letters and Christmas cards, in beautiful calligraphy. And the lady has monumental health issues with which she deals daily, none of which stops her from living her best life. Needless to say, she’s a great role model, with her no-nonsense attitude.

Sylvia may not “get” the ins and outs of the internet, but she does relish its entertainment value. She shared the following with me, another gem from her British network. It took me a couple of reads to “get” it. My daughter, on the other hand, burst into laughs immediately. Go figure.

Should a Child Witness Childbirth? (Here’s your answer.)

Due to a power outtage, only one paramedic responded to the call. The house was very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-year-old girl, to hold a flashlight high over her mommy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby.

Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Heidi pushed and pushed and after a little while, Connor was born. The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and patted him on his bottom. Connor began to cry.

The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3-year-old what she thought about what she had just witnessed. Kathleen quickly responded. “He shouldn’t have crawled in there in the first place…spank him again!”

If you don’t laugh at this one, there’s no hope for you.

guess there’s some hope for me…since i took a couple of seconds…hugmamma.

a child’s “truth,” a lesson for all

It’s unusual that I write back-to-back posts about Oprah segments. But I’ll venture away from the norm because today’s show spoke of her relentless efforts to educate her viewers, numbering in the millions, to the gay and lesbian dilemma. If I remember correctly, Oprah has dedicated more than 100 segments of her talk show to the cause. Her goal has been to encourage gays and lesbians to own their truth, reveal themselves and live their best lives.

Among many who have spoken their truth about homosexuality, sitting alongside Oprah on her show, were Olympic gold medalist diver Greg Louganis,

Latin singer Ricky Martin,

and more recently country singer Chely Wright. Today’s segment also spotlighted viewers who had “come out” in their own lives to family and friends, as a result of seeing celebrities do so on Oprah’s talk show. Perhaps the most unusual guest was an Indian prince who’d announced his homosexuality to the world, including his parents, several years ago as a guest on the show. He returned today to say that Oprah’s public support, especially in view of her own heterosexuality, did much to loosen the once hostile attitude toward him and others like him.

A gay daughter and her mom made the greatest impression upon me. They had visited the show before, when the daughter’s rebelliousness and the mom’s refusal to accept the truth were obstacles in their relationship, going forward. After that show’s conclusion, Oprah introduced the two to her chief of staff, Libby, a lesbian. She spent 2 hours explaining her own experience. Hearing of the woman’s struggles to accept her truth, the support of her family when she revealed her homosexuality, and the tremendous strides she made in her own life since, convinced the girl’s mom to finally learn to let her own daughter be who she is. That was a “lightbulb” moment for me!

I realized that whomever my daughter decides is her soul mate will be her choice. Even as a heterosexual, she will know who makes her happy and who fulfills her life. Parents of straight children are also guilty of thinking we know best. We forget that we’re thinking what’s best in our estimation, not theirs. It’s not easy relinquishing control over the course of our children’s lives, but we’re not exempt from dying, so we’d better let them get on with living, now.

a lesson learned, hugs for…hugmamma.

parenting, the rewards

This post is especially written for parents, who are wending their way along the very tricky path of raising children. It is one for which we were never formally prepared, managing to make it from one day to the next by sheer will power, and an abundance of trials and errors. We were fortunate if we could look to successful role models, but how many of us had that privilege? I congratulate those who did, because that’s what all of us aspire to being, great parents. But circumstances, including personal “baggage” we lug around, tends to hamper our good intentions. Nonetheless, we have no choice but to press on and do our best. How do we know when we’ve succeeded in parenting upstanding, future citizens, ones who will be compassionate in their relations with others? Having spent 3 weeks with my daughter, I know that all my best efforts as a parent were well-received, and “hit the mark.”

Perhaps children of any age who read this, will want to acknowledge their own parents’ struggle to get through each day. No amount of reading, or well intended advice can do the job for us. Of the several careers I’ve had, parenting is the most difficult, most gratifying, and by far the most rewarding. And here’s why.

In a card hidden in my carry-0n duffel, my daughter wrote:

‘I just wanted to say thank you so much for being with me these past several weeks. You are just what I needed… All of the little things you did meant so much. The wonderful meals, playing Bananagrams, watching movies and ‘I Love Lucy,” shopping, ‘girl’ talk, laughing, and your just being here supporting, loving and encouraging me, meant the world to me. You were there when I needed you and I know you always will be. You and Dad are the best parents, guides and friends I would ever ask for and I’m so blest to have you. I love you with all my heart, Mom.  Aloha wau i’a oe.” (I love you) …

hugs, for children, and their parents…hugmamma.

“hugmamma,” where from

Thought I’d explain the choice of “hugmamma,” as my username. Have had viewers to this blog who may have visited, not understanding its content. Among other things, my primary goal is to share information that might be useful in parenting, in finding solace, in looking for spirituality, as well as for practical purposes like recipes, medical tips, books to read. 

“Hugmamma” was derived from an 80’s or 90’s children’s TV series featuring a dinosaur family. One day my daughter and I had been reminiscing about the show, during the preliminary stages of my decision to blog. We were laughing about the antics of the baby dinosaur who always reminded her mama and papa to “Hugga the baby.” The proverbial “light bulb” moment occurred. And so the name was born, ” hugga the mamma,” which was my username on another blog site, which quickly evolved into “hugmamma” on a second site, which I retained in this, my final attempt at blogging. 

As I’ve been writing, I noticed that many of my blogs dealt with “parenting,” probably because it’s an issue near and dear to me. As a result “hugmamma” took on a second, more spiritual significance, it became an homage to my mother whom I always called “mamma.” She was perhaps the stereotypical Hawaiian in her warmth and friendliness towards all. Her ready smile and hardy laughter greeted friends, as well as strangers. She always lent a sympathetic ear, and offered heartfelt advice, genuine tears flowing on occasion. She really did exemplify the “Aloha Spirit.” 

“Hugmamma” may have originated as the result of a child’s show, but its use has taken on a sweeter, more personal representation. For good or bad, I believe daughters become their mothers, for they are our first role models. While she was not perfect, for she had human failings, my mom exemplified someone who cared about others, a true Christian at heart. She left me that legacy, and I hope I can pass it along to my daughter, a generational gift to be shared.

hugs for…my mama…hugmamma.