Slow Down and Listen

We arrived early for Mom's first visit to CORE for the new year.  My Mom told me that she didn't want to participate at CORE on this day. After we had already driven 30 minutes to get there through midday traffic on a highway that is under construction.   She just wanted to stay home and watch a movie. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to be specific. She said she wanted me to watch it with her.  I was a little deflated when she brought up that she just didn’t feel like doing anything that day. But I honored her wishes and we went back home. I figured she was just a little comfortable since the holidays. That was her pass. After we got to the house, I had to go back to work for the rest of the afternoon.  When I got home at the end of my workday, I asked if she had watched the movie and she told me no.  She was waiting for me to watch with her.


The month of January is very busy for me at work. I have had 2 or more events a week during this month. This means that I get home well after dinner time and only manage to have dinner with Mommy about 2 or 3 nights a week. I wake up and leave for work and she is asleep and many times I come home and she is asleep. So we have not spent a lot of time together this month. 


So for the last 2 weeks, every time we get into the car to go to CORE, she asks if we really have to go. And then I go from frustrated because I am going to a lot of effort to get her there twice a week to a pep talk to get her ready to go and be ready to give it her all when we get there.



On this last Friday, we didn't even make it out of the front door of the house and she said, “Do we have to go to CORE today?”  I got very frustrated and asked her, “Are we going to do this every time we get ready to go to CORE? This needs to stop!”




When we got in the car, she told me that she didn't mean that she did not want to go. She meant that since I was off from work, there were many things we could do together and places we could go that would be fun instead of going to CORE. 

Then I thought OH!!!  What she is saying is that she wants to spend some quality time with me. And that she has missed me since I have been away so much this month. I thought about what it must be like to only leave the house for medical reasons. How boring!  There are a million other places to go on the planet. She was right.

When she had all of her abilities, she used to decide that we were going to the movies and that we would see whatever was starting when we got there. And on this particular day she wanted to go to the movies after CORE and she told me we will see whatever is starting when we get there. We ended up seeing a good film. Not really one we had heard of before.  But we were pleasantly surprised by it.

On Saturday, we went to the movies on purpose and saw Hidden Figures. It was a great movie and we had a really good time together. Mommy was in the government at the time that the story took place. So of course after the film, I asked her a lot of questions about what her experience was during the 50's and 60's working in the US Government. 

After the movies, we went home and I had to go into work for about 3 hours. When I got home I went in and sat with Mommy for a little while. She said that she had a great day with me and that it was really fun. I am happy that I listened to more than her words and I heard her heart and was able to stop and take some time to spend with her.

I forgot that my work schedule affects more people than just me. The CNA's who have to spend more hours with my Mom. My Mom who goes days without seeing me. My friends who lose touch during my busier times at work.   I have to keep this in mind in the future and try to be more mindful of those around me.  Call home in the middle of the day just to say Hi and check on how things are going.  And make an effort to add some fun into those longer stretches after I have been unavailable.

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The Struggle is Real

I find myself at a point that I never imagined myself in.  Not good or bad.  Just unexpected and my reality:

1.       50 years old and unmarried

2.       Living with and caring for my Mother for almost 10 years

3.       2 cats

4.       20 pounds over the weight where I am most comfortable

5.       Very mad at specific men that makes me not trust any man to get close to me

6.       Unhappy and disappointed in myself

7.       Not coping well with the loss that if feel and trying to ignore it everyday

There was a time when, even though I tried to fight it off and not let it in, the voices of others and how they defined me spoke to me louder than my own voice.  As I ended a bad marriage of 3 years, it took me almost 2 years until I was built back up again.  Only to allow myself to be defined 5 more significant times by people who had their best interests at heart, not mine.  The last time this happened was just in the past year.

So, as I took down the 2016 calendar where my goal was to lose 10 pounds over the course of the year, I looked at January – my starting weight.  Then, I looked at December – my ending weight and I had changed by 9 pounds.  But not by losing them.  I gained 9 pounds over the course of the year.  That made 3 years in a row where I had gained.  And then I realized that I have fallen out of love with myself.  I tell myself affirmations daily and I don’t hate on my body anymore in words or thoughts.  But I don’t think I believe or trust my self-talk to myself.  Somewhere in me, I lost respect for myself as I worked harder and did more for others than I would do on my own behalf.  I let myself down and I broke my own heart.

I have been trying to find a way to apologize to me and to commit to myself and forgive myself for my own contributions and actions in my past. And I think I really need to go back to square one.  Spend time with myself and my thoughts.  Allowing myself time to heal and to once again appreciate me and all the wonderful things I bring to the world.  I am valuable.  I am important.  I am smart.  I do have worth.  And none of this is determined by others.  And if no one else in the world sees this in me that does not mean that I should be silenced and take these gifts away from the world.  I need to bring my full self with me everywhere I go.  And I need to confidently speak up for myself everywhere I go.  My heart and my consideration and compassion for others will keep me from becoming an egotistical jerk.  So, I’m not out to get a big head but I don’t want to downplay myself for anyone else’s comfort.

It’s time to put me back on my priority list.  And I need to honor myself inside and out.  Consistency will be the key.  I can’t just be good to myself once a week.  I need to be good to me everyday.  I do this through the foods I eat, the water I drink, the walks I take, the books I read, the music I listen to and the things and people I say NO to in order to get to my ultimate goals – not being derailed by others.  And I will tell myself that I am truly sorry and I will believe it this time because I am my authentic and true self.  I will save myself a lot of hassle in the future when I open my mouth to say how I feel instead of opening my mouth to eat my feelings and bury them.  Taking a walk to clear my head may prevent me from not being able to fall asleep because of so much on my mind.  Writing all of this stuff down actually helps me to breathe better, deeper and stress dissipates.  Listening to music instantly changes my mood when outdated tracks start playing in my head.  I have been spending more time each day with God and this has been going on for most of 2016.  I have been reading the Bible and praying each morning (sometimes praying with the wrong focus for the wrong things – but I have also received Divine correction).  I have been listening more and recognizing and acknowledging the Holy Spirit as it works in my life.  And this is leading me toward scriptures that feed me just what I need when I need it.  So I am working on appreciating me – mind, body, soul. And being grateful for all that I have, all that I am and all that I bring to the world.

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Are things falling to pieces? Or are the pieces falling into place?

I was urged to think about this when a friend of mine posted a saying to the effect of sometimes when it looks like things are falling to pieces, it's really the pieces falling into place.  When I find myself in the position where things are falling to pieces I am usually such a wreck that I can't remember the situation.  It is difficult, distressing, shocking to me that I am not in control and cannot stop the avalanche or tidal wave I see approaching that covers everything in it's wake.  But I do have one instance that was a little frightening but not so scarring that I have blocked it from my memory.  So, I will share in this blog.

I am a bowler.  I have been competing since I was a kid.  My Dad was a youth bowling coach for over 50 years and coached both me and my 2 brothers for our entire lives.  I compete annually in the Women's National Championship tournament as an amateur.  So, in 2015, I was scheduled to bowl in my 20th Nationals tournament on Reno, NV in June. My entry was confirmed and paid for by February of that year.  I had a team with 4 spots on it for bowlers.  Sometimes it is a little challenging to get 3 other people to share in your vision and form a team.  People have a hard time with getting the time off of work or away from home.  They have challenges paying for the flight and hotel.  They have challenges paying for the tournament entry.  So, when you lock in your team, you have already done a fair bit of work.  For this tournament, I was only able to fill my roster with 3 bowlers.  I got a half of a commitment from a 4th person.  But when it came time to pay for things and buy a plane ticket, the truth came out and she was unable to travel with us.  So, it's not so bad to have one opening on the team.  There's a substitution bulletin board at the tournament site for this kind of dilemma.  It wouldn't be the first time that I had been on a team that had to grab a sub at the tournament.  And we were bowling in the event about halfway through the full window of the competition.  The tournament ran for months and ended in July.  We were bowling at the beginning of June.  So, there should be subs available. So, then, we were 3.  So, as we were booking flights, the 3rd bowler looked at the days that we were flying and realized that she was scheduled to bowl a different tournament, in a different city in Nevada over the same dates.  There was no replacing her either.  So, we had gotten one sub before at a tournament.  How hard could it be to get two subs for the team event?  All we can do is try.

The two of us remaining on the team secured our room and our flights.  I was travelling with the best doubles partner and travelling companion in the whole world.  We have travelled together for just about a decade.  So, we have a great time. We share common interests like casinos, cocktails and good food, fine Vegas entertainment and relaxing at the spa.  We have never had a bad trip.  We always find the fun no matter what we are doing.  Flight delays don't steal our joy.  Lost luggage doesn't phase us.  We always have a great time in every situation.  Because of this, we always plan a trip to Reno paired with a trip to Vegas.  Hey!  We made it all the way out there!  We might as well make the most of it!  So, 2 days in Reno and 3 days in Vegas and our trip itinerary was complete.


 So, both me and my bowling bestie have responsibilities to our Moms.  They help us out and we take care of them when they need it.  Jodi's Mom helps her with her kids tremendously and Jodi stays on top of what her Mom's medical needs are.   During this particular year, Jodi's Mom had been having a variety of problems with her knees, her heart, her gall bladder and general feelings on lethargy. Oh, and blood clots!  She had been in and out of the hospital during the year.  But she was at a good point as we were planning to leave for our trip.  But as fate would have it, she went into the hospital 2 weeks before our trip for a one week stay.  We were still hoping that she would have her strength back and be able to hold things down at the house while we were gone.  She reassured Jodi that she was fine and that she should go to the tournament with no worries.  But you know how you get the feeling that someone is putting on a front?  That their words and actions don't exactly match up?  That's the impression that Jodi got.  And the night before the flight, she told me that she was going to have to stay home just to be sure everything was OK with her Mom.  Of course, I was disappointed in my own selfish way.  But I did understand and hoped that everything would work out.  That in the morning,  her Mom would spring out of bed, tell Jodi she felt like a million bucks and that she should hurry and catch her flight!  Nope.  Not so much.  I flew out to Reno for my 20th tournament all alone.  No cheering section.  No back up.  No support.  No team.

 This was completely new for me.  Every one of the other 19 years, I had travelled with a team to go to Nationals.  (except that one year where I worked all the way up to the day before the event and had to fly in on the morning that we bowled team).

I got to Reno and checked in at my hotel.  I got something to eat and then went to the National Bowling Stadium to see if I could find a team to bowl with.  There was a team from New Jersey that needed one bowler.  So, I called them and they offered me their open spot.  Whew!  I was going to compete for the 20th consecutive tournament!!  They bowled at the times that I was scheduled to bowl originally too.  So, my squad times were the same. The tournament office removed my team entry for the tournament and moved it to 2016.  So, my spot for the following year was secured.  That was a bonus!  The 2016 tournament was going to be in Las Vegas and would most likely be a sell out because of the change in venue to one of the best cities on the planet.  That night, I played Blackjack (as usual), won money (as usual), and went to bed (not as usual).  Usually on my first night, I would play until the sun came up and take my bankroll back to the room to use for the rest of my trip or I would play until I gave back all of the money the nice dealers had pushed to my side of the table.

The next day was the late afternoon squad of the team event.  I lounged during the day.  Ate a big midday meal at Hash House A-Go-Go and washed it down with a Bloody Mary – the BLT one. Yummy!  I made my way next door to the bowling stadium and met up with my team.  Really nice ladies!  They gave me a shirt to wear- just for the event.  There’s an award if your team dresses the same at Nationals.  My partner Cheryl was a very cool person to meet.  We had great conversations.  We took our team picture before the squad started, entered the brackets and sat down for the pre-game meeting where the tournament officials greet you, tell you where all of the participants on your squad are from and the give out PARTCIPATION AWARDS.  First timers to the tournament get a warm welcome.  But if you have been in 20 or more consecutive tournaments, you get a pin, patch or plaque.  This was my year to get a pin.

I was so happy that I had actually made it to 20 consecutive tournaments.  There were lots of obstacles along the way (finances, accommodations, time off from work, finding a team), but I made it!  And I bowled pretty well on the first day.  When I sub with a team, I would feel like a failure if I did not bowl my average for the 3 games.  The team had spent the day golfing and they were spent.  I did better than average.  On the second day for doubles and singles, I really did well with a 602 as my high series in singles and a 1675 for all-events for the weekend.  I had my highest finish ever in the tournament.  3rd place in my division in singles and 5th in all-events.  I truly felt like things were completely falling apart as I made this trip into the unknown in a familiar setting.  The experience caused me to stretch and grow and reach new heights.

For the 2016 tournament,   we are in Las Vegas to compete and to play – all with one plane ride this year.  We leave in the morning and there are only 2 of us.  But we know we will find a few subs and have another one of the best trips that we have ever had! I have a good feeling about this year. I will let you know how we do.

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