Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turning the Page

Its been a long and awful week. Listing events in the order of occurrence, not importance:

-Horrible canker sore in my mouth just the day before a fast day meant I couldn't eat much before or after the fast
-Burn on my hand from cooking
-Passing away of Steve's grandmother who we loved so dearly
-Job challenges which shall remain mysterious
-Husband working 30 hour on call shifts
-Weird medical malady that left me thinking I had cancer all week (thankfully not the case!)
-Two weekends alone with the kids and no hubby or shabbat plans in sight
-Breakdown of my car leaving me stranded with the kids
-Husband gone for 60 hours including an overnight shift and 40 hour trip to Denver for funeral that me and kids couldn't attend
-Friends letting me down in a hurtful way

As you can see, I have shed a lot of tears and burned a lot of brain power swimming in the misery of this terrible week. Friends and family have surprised me in their support while others have focused rightly so on their own issues that consume us all in our day to day efforts.

One can literally become so consumed in their pity for oneself that it can become a barrier to enjoying life and seeing the good things that surround you. I started to become that person. To be fair, everyone should have the right to acknowledge their feelings and come to terms with the hardships they face. In fact, I find myself often in the situation where I either am afraid or don't know how to ask for help. I get so caught up in keeping it all together or taking care of other people, that I overlook my own needs.

For example, picture a weekend where Steve is working, I'm trying to shuffle work, taking care of the kids and making shabbat plans. Here I am, calling friends offering to host a meal, including shopping and staying up late night just to make a few dishes to create a shabbat atmosphere for me and the kids when the hubby is away. Its critical for me to try and maintain a senses of stability when the schedule gets us down, but sometimes my desire for creating a Jewish environment ends up with me taking on too much so that I am in over my head when most other people would pick up ready made food, eat on paper and plastic with the kids and call it a day.

As I was sitting in my doom and gloom of a night, reflecting on the hardships both physical and mental of this week, I realized that the answer of how to turn this all around lay simply inside ME. By doing something nice for another person or reaching out to ask for help, I can give someone else the feeling that I want to have and I can let someone into my world to do something nice for me.

I have been overwhelmed with the support of friends today talking me through my challenges, buying me groceries and driving me and the kids 30 miles to the airport to pickup Steve's parked car after my own broke down. I feel so lucky to have friends such as those.

But I decided tonight was the time to also turn the corner on my blog project. After my first outreach call to my mom's maid of honor, I was able to put the pieces and detective work together to locate my mom's long lost first cousin. Through the help of, Google and Facebook, I found her alive and well in Seattle (my favorite city on the planet thus far).

I chose to end my night with a bit of exploratory learning about my mom, her home life and childhood, her musical talents and her dream of creating normalcy in her life by marrying the man of her dreams and starting a family. She succeeded in so many of her goals, becoming a junior high English teacher, settling down with my dad and bringing life to three lively kids. Even though she died, she continues to live inside each of us and instilled in us the dream of making our home and family, not our jobs, the center of our worlds.

Perhaps there is a light at the end of all our tunnels. We just need to lift up our eyes to the mountains and see the horizon for all its glory. It would have been easy to mope around in my pajamas tonight clinging to the challenges that lined my week. But, I'm done with that. I've shed enough of my tears and had my disappointments. I have places to go and stumbling and falling down is a part of the real world.

We've all been there and know how easy it is to get stuck. But at the end of the day, it isnt other people who are going to recenter your world.... its YOU. Its a decision, whatever your malady, whether it be emotional, physical or mental difficulties, to choose to view it in a different light. Reconnection with my family and with those my mom held very dear has warmed a place in my heart that used to be cold. To hear the obstacles my mom overcame in life just to make a loving family is so inspiring to me. And here I am in the midst of it all, living the life she always wanted.

Perhaps all those things that can make it seem like the sky is falling down all around us are really just there to teach us that we're human and that we're still here. No one is immune to pain and hardship. But everyone can choose to turn the page.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Connect the Dots

Friday afternoon is probably the absolute worst time of the week to blog. But seeing as the first week in August is coming to an end, I feel an internal obligation to just get out what I have been working on and prove to myself that this project isn't over until its really over.... which is supposed to be at the end of this month.

How is it that I find myself in the last month of my year long project to get through my 32nd year? Where did the year go?

The truth is that my goal for this month was/is to go whitewater rafting for my first time ever. Come to find out once I did the research, that the season is mostly over at this point in the year. I've looked into a few places mostly in West Virginia, a reasonable drive from the DC area, to have my time in the sun. But, its been challenging to fit it in with my new found time consumers: moving and the trauma ICU.

We are moving across town at this end of this month into a townhouse and although its literally just down the street, it seems as though this move is to another world. Friends talk as if they will never see us again and some feel as though us going to a new synagogue means that something was wrong with the old one. Before I get too ahead of myself, I should say we're mostly moving because of rising costs and lack of space in our current place. We found this wonderful set up that we just could not turn down. I am sad to be leaving but very optimistic/excited about the new opportunities that lie for us just across the way. Those plans, combined with my husband's return to the trauma ICU for two months, means a mommy with the kiddies most of the time.

So, finding time, weekday or weekend to grocery shop for the next two months is going to be a challenge let alone rafting. So I've reluctantly put rafting on the agenda for perhaps a future trip. So, I've decided to spend this month trying to tie my whole year together. I've realized over the years that although I have been so upset from losing my mom, I really have little knowledge about the woman she was. I have a few photos with her when I was first born but she was already so ill and that its hard to remember her that way. We have some family photos pre-my arrival in this world which are lovely. And a few years back, my dad burned all the family super 8 movies onto dvd. It was the first time I saw my mom move.... of course there was no sound, but I will take what I can get.

So for this month, I have set out to learn a bit more about my mom, try to track down old family members and friends that knew her and see what I can learn. Its not really a fear to overcome but it will be a challenge. It will also fulfill a dream of mine to learn more about my mom and who she was as a person. Through the wonderful aid of Facebook, my dad encountered the maid of honor at my parents wedding. A childhood friend of my mom's that learned of her death many years after she had passed. Through some effort, I was able to connect with her and hear old stories of my mom growing up, playing violin and taking care of others. In so many ways, it felt as if I was on the phone with my mom. It was such a powerful experience to hear how someone I do not remember even meeting impacted others and shone such a vibrant light into this world. It made me want to go back and be there, like a fly on the wall, watching her grow up and become the woman, mother and wife that she became.

From that encounter, I am now on the hunt to locate my mom's first cousin who is somewhere in the state of NY. They apparently were inseparable through childhood and I am hopeful, in this world of technology, that she is out there awaiting my call, email, text.... you get the point.

I guess I've seen enough of those long lost family reunion shows on tv and never realized just how much detective work I could do to uncover the true story behind my mom. I am so invigorated and inquisitive about the opportunities to uncover lost stories and photos and who knows what else.

So August may be on its way, but this little lady isn't done until the clock runs out and the birthday candles are literally on the cake. Have faith and doors will open along the way. The end is in sight and so is my 33rd birthday. A year I have looked forward to my whole life and one I plan to spend under a shady tree in my hammock. And now that I will soon have my own backyard, its a place I cannot wait to make into a reality.

So forgive me for the last minute pre-shabbat post but the research will go on and the puzzle pieces come together. Although I know a complete picture can never be, a mosaic of a few pieces here and there can help make me feel more whole inside and fill up the hole I have had in my heart for so long. Slowly slowly, its starting to fill with love, memories and hopes for the future.