Birthday Gifts

It’s been 8 months since cancer showed up in my father’s body and all our lives changed forever.

We thought we would only have 4 months and have been given the gift of twice that and are hopeful for much, much more.  When first diagnosed, my no-nonsense, take no prisoners friend Rebecca, told me to get over my Mommy guilt.  She said living with and learning to care for ‘Pappy’ would be a gift to my sons’ character and lives.  She was right.

Feeding Pappy

I spent my 39′ish-sorta-again birthday, not at a fancy dinner or party.  I didn’t open gifts and left cards on the kitchen table unopened.  I spent it in the hospital with my Dad.

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The night before he whispered, “Happy birthday!” as I quietly tucked him in for the night.  I reminded him my birthday wasn’t for another day.  Without missing a beat he looked up at me and said, “I know.  I just wanted to be the first to tell you.”

Marriages can shred under economic pressures, new jobs, and caring for an ill parent.   We are experiencing all of the above mixed with the general mayhem of raising two curious, energetic and old soul boys. While my husband and I have a few bruises and cuts from these sharp-edged realities, we are finding a new way.   We are realizing what a gift we are to each other.  I couldn’t get through some days without him.  I believe he would say the same about me.

He sent me flowers to my office for my birthday.  I’ve spent the last 25 birthdays asking for him to do that very thing.  This year, he did.

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47 people wrote birthday greetings on my wall from Facebook.  47.  I didn’t know I knew that many people.  They ranged from, “What are you, like 60?” (from a high school friend who still retains his lovable snarkiness); to “Happiest of happies to KimRo on this, the day of her birth. May the words pour forth and Snow White sing you a merry tune while doing the “back it up” dance.  Humor and good will for you and your coming year.” (from a writing sister who I swear is Snow White undercover).    Others shared heartfelt sentiments on how I was a gift. 

In the all-consuming tyranny of the moment I forget these threads both thin and thick which tie me to people.  The gifts of simply worded wishes on a cyber screen were so powerful I couldn’t read them until the next day.  The gift of a text or a quick call to say, “How are you?” which really  means, “I know it’s tough and you are hurting and overwhelmed and alone.  I can’t make it better.  What I can do is to help you remember you are not alone.”

I saw a picture on Facebook and the saying was a gift to me.  I share it as my birthday gift to you.

The best kind of people are the ones that come into your life,

and make you see the sun where you once saw clouds.

The people who believe in you so much,

you start to believe in you too.

The people who love you, simply for being you.

The once in a lifetime kind of people.

Thank you for being my once in a lifetime people.

You are the few, the proud, the readers joining me as I step into another year eating less, praying more and loving abundantly.

Finding a Tribe of My Own

I found a tribe.   They are quirky, blue monkeys in a brown monkey world.  This would be their chosen birthday cake.

Book Cake

Book Cake

So many are living my dream.  A dream of writing and publishing a book.  The most recent was LaDonna Cole.  Tornados play a prominent role in her book, “Torn”.  She sent me this.

The Torn and a Tornado in a Bottle
Could I receive a cooler gift from an author?

Clutching the book to my heart as her heartfelt, handwritten dedication took root, I stood crying in my kitchen.  I was so proud.  So proud because I knew some of the tornadoes she braved to bring the book to life.  My heart swelled too because I know her.  I really know her.  Though I have only met her twice,  I’m in her tribe and she is in mine.

Today there was an oddly shaped package in the pile of online purchased holiday surprises.  Sent by Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt, author of WOA, Warrior of the Ages. 

Prophetic Labels

A package to Kimberly Robertson, “The Famous Writer”

I clutched this package to my heart too.  For it spoke to my deepest desire and made me giggle.  The contents are a silly, awesome, quirky addition which will surprise and delight all my family.  She sent it, priority mail, because I am in her tribe and she is in mine.  We’ve only met twice.

Most of my life I have felt like an orphan.  To be sure I was blessed with a mother and father, yet I remained rootless in my heart.  Restlessness was a paper cut to my heart, shallow enough not to be lethal, deep enough to hurt.

Quietly, surprisingly, I have found a tribe of my own.  They are authors, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.  Not all are published, still many are writers.  Some are older, wiser mensches whose pearls of wisdom are precious.  Some are my age, old enough to know better and young enough to sometimes not care.  I could be the mother of one, and she never reminds me.  Not all are writing, they, like me, have worthy causes which pull them from their words. Yet they find moments to text or FB or to send silly surprises.

Tonight I am thankful for this wordy tribe who has found me.  I can rest my tired heart on their shoulders and wrap my hopes around their successes.  They make me feel less like an orphan and more like a whole person who can live abundantly.

I’m thankful you are in my virtual tribe by reading this blog.  Who is in your tribe? I’d like to know.

Thankfullessmoreabundantly

Things I Would Be Thankful to Have Less of:

-Cancer steals the life of the one with the diagnosis and rips away pieces of the lives of all those who love and care for them.

-Jeans Size, seriously if the junk in my trunk expands any further I’ll need my own zip code.

-Stuff, which at one point I thought I needed and then forgot why I needed it and now just stare at and wonder how it came to rest underfoot.

Things  I Am Thankful to Have More of:

-Time with the one with cancer. We are months ahead of the curve, every day is a bonus

-Comfy Wool Socks in the frozen hinterlands where I live, obnoxious wool socks are the difference between a cranky night and cozy one.

Warm, wooly socks. Image courtesy of http://www.clker.com

-Faith is a precious commodity I ceded to bitterness and an attitude with God because things didn’t go my way (an understatement-they didn’t just go another way, they stomped on my heart and stole my life).  Faith is nibbling at the crusty, hard baked shell around my spirit.  Would like to have more of it.

Things I am Thankful to Have in Abundance:

-Laughter at and with my kids, they are so weird they make me feel normal.

-Friends who text when I can’t remember how to turn the phone on and who always ask me how I am because they truly want to know.

-You reading my blog.  Of late I am learning harsh lessons on the value of time, sharing yours with me is a gift for which I will always be thankful.

What would you be thankful for less of, more of or have in abundance?  I want to read what you write too.

Testing Your Limits Until They Are Torn

In my last entry I wrote about the movie, “Desert Runners”, which followed a group of ultra-marathoners who were running 100+ miles across four of the earth’s deserts.  Jaime, one of the runners, knew his limits so well he was able to recover from seeming devastation of dehydration and finish his race.

 

“The only way to truly know yourself is to know your limits.  You never know your limits if you never test them.” (Thanks KJC for the inspirational comment.)

 

Testing your limits means reaching the ends of them.  When was the last I reached the ends of mine?  When was the last time I even came close?  Never.  Honestly never.

 

Oh, I’ve been pushed to my emotional limits, more than once.  Buried those I’ve only begun to forgive.  Seen more dream opportunities evaporate in the heat of politics.  Watched helplessly as friendships withered on the vine devoid of attention or honesty.  Emotional and relational limits which reduced me to tears in a corner, weren’t of my choosing.  Those come and go and will certainly come again.  The morning always comes and the sun always rises.

 

I’m talking about choosing to test your limits with only two possible results-a glorious finish or a colossal failure.   I haven’t done that…yet.

 

I know someone who did.  A woman I am proud to call my friend, LaDonna Cole. 

Seriously, she's this beautiful on the inside too.
Author LaDonna Cole

She wrote a young adult novel in three weeks.  Seriously, she wrote 80,000+ words in 21 days.  How is that for a glorious finish?

Her book, The Torn,  launches today. 

The Torn by LaDonna Cole
The Torn by LaDonna Cole

It deals with young people who are testing their limits, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  Quite frankly, it’s a righteously cool spiritual allegory.  Good fun, gasp-worthy adventure and butterflies in your heart romance.  I was lost in the sphere of the well-written prose, the pitch perfect pacing and vivid characters. 

 

It makes me want to test my own limits.  Not sure where or when. 

Just sure it will be soon.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The sphere has landed! Welcome to the next jump in the adventure. Leave a comment on this page and collect the item for your survival pack.

 

Take this “item” with you, (write it down or copy/paste into a doc):

How many weeks did it take LaDonna Cole to write “The Torn”?

(Hint:  The answer is in this blog.)

 

Screeeeech! The sphere is coming! Your next stop is:

 

http://facebook.com/rmharnist

 

If this was your first and now is your last stop, go to www.facebook.com/LaDonnaColeAuthor where The Torn release party is going on! Enter all of your answers into a comment under the pinned post, Falling Spheres, for a chance to win the Grand Prize package.

 

www.heartworkvillage.com

www.facebook.com/LaDonnaColeAuthor

www.immortalportals.wordpress.com

http://ladonnacolern.wix.com/ladonna-cole

Run the Race

Over lunch, at our favorite hipster hole in the wall, my friend RD shared her fitness goals.  Internally I snorted when she said, “If I lost 15 pounds, I would feel better.”  I wondered where she kept 15 extra pounds on her petite frame.

Eating less has been the least explored aspect of my lessmoreabundantly journey.  However, this week I began to cut some calories and sugar and mentally I felt clearer.  Emotionally, not so much, as I made the mistake of watching myself on video delivering a speech.

It was a mistake in that control top pantyhose are a misnomer.  They should be called sausage casings which merely squeeze the girth until you are shaped more like a mushroom than a woman.  Apparently I lost my neck sometime prior to the meeting.  I gestured like an octopus on crack.

Self deprecating humor aside, I realized I have no idea how I look or feel in my own body.  I have no sense of how I fill space and what I look like.

Tonight I watched a brilliant documentary called Desert Runners (check it out here: Desert Runner Movie)  It followed a group of ultra-marathoners as they ran four of the largest deserts across the globe.  In one of the scenes a 56 year old crazy Irishman was in the middle of his third desert run.  He was disoriented, vomiting and in pain-yet he still finished the race.  In fact he completed all four.  Jaime showed a remarkable ability to know how he was feeling and what he could do.  He knew his physical and emotional strengths and limits.  He knew what he could do and how to run his race.

Desert Runner Tremaine, a man who raced to raise money for a charity in honor of his wife who recently passed away

Desert Runner Tremaine, a man who raced to raise money for a charity in honor of his wife who recently passed away

The film’s Director shared the difference between those who completed and those who did not.  It was far less about being an elite athlete, which some were.  It was more about the questions they allowed themselves to ask while running the race.  Those who finished never once allowed themselves to think or speak anything other than what was the next step.  Eat, rest, drink and keep putting one foot in front of the other were the focus of their Universe.  Never finishing simply didn’t exist.

Eating less, praying more and loving abundantly each have become their own marathon demanding miles to go before I can sleep.  Crossing the finish line I’ll feel better because I will run the race.  I will take the next step.  I will finish.

What is your race?  Where do you have miles to go before you sleep?

Dear Dani

My Mother Kathy and Grandmother Ruth

My Mother Kathy and Grandmother Ruth

Dear Dani,

I watched you standing there mere inches from your mother’s casket. Waiting my turn, I sat making small talk with the lady next to me. My hands shook in my lap, clasping and unclasping in a vain attempt at calm. I remember standing next to my own mother’s casket, not too long ago.

I watched you greet people connecting to them in their grief. Already you have mastered burying your own tears in service to keep things moving. After the 20th person shared with me the life my mother had without me, I buried my own.

I watched you check on your sister and brother, looking around your husband to care for them. At once you have stepped into this role of first daughter, now the mother figure. Soon, like me, you’ll host holidays using her china, setting the table the way she did. Our china is blue and the jello salad is always green.

Your shoulders slumped when you looked at your dad. He too was doing the best he could, stopping often to touch her arm or to shake his head in disbelief. You know, as I do, he is yours now. Yours to worry about and yours to care for.

Dear Dani, if I had more than a minute to walk through the receiving line swollen by friends from a life well lived, I would have said so much more.

I would have told you not to worry how your young daughter would remember how great she was. She will know because you will tell her. She will know because in you, she will experience the love your mother so freely shared.

I would have told you to brace yourself for the wave. The wave of grief which, at the smell of a fabric softener, the cut of someone’s hair or a song, will wash over you in a tsunami of grief. Some days, the wave is banished with a breath, others it will not be so easy.

I would tell you not to ask why her and why now. The answers won’t resurrect her life, only weigh yours down.

I would tell you to forgive every fault she had and embrace every gift she was.

I would tell you so much.

As for now, dear Dani, know you are not alone. He is near the brokenhearted, He promised. From that terrible day until the day someone else stands by another casket, know you are not alone.

As my friend Beth said to me, through our tears as I shared my own mother’s passing, “Dear Dani, I can’t make things easier but is it enough to know I would if I could?”

Loomy Wisdom

You’ve seen them.  All the kids are making/wearing/stretching/trading them.  It’s the fad o’ the moment.  Loomed, plastic bracelets.

Photo Credit: charlottesmartypants.com

“Mom, do you think you could make me one of those?” my 10-year-old asked, hope tingeing his voice with irresistible little boy-ness.

“Sure!” I said.  What I thought was, I sure hope so….

I loomed, twice.  First was a disaster which had the little suckers flying across the dining room.  After a shower to calm down, I sat down for my second attempt.   Here’s a few deep thoughts o’ loomy wisdom.

Ready to loom.

Ready to loom.

We start out life in a fairly straightforward fashion.  Like this loom, every cell, every trait, our DNA is so ordered.  Sure, our finger prints and whether we will like chocolate or vanilla/coffee or tea are up for grabs.  For the most part its neat, and orderly.

As kids we take time to not only smell the flowers, but to cook them into imaginary stews or throw them on our brothers or set fire to them in the rain.

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Stop and smell the flowers!

Then it starts to get complicated.  Hormones, choices, independence, control and all the challenges of adolescence mess with the careful order of childhood.

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And then sometimes it gets dark and complicated.

The choices we make in life reverberate far into our future.  I am so thankful there wasn’t a Facebook back then.  There are more than a few ‘posts’ I am glad I can erase from memory.

However, the choices and the connections we make, for good or ill, stick with us for years.  The choices pull us in one direction or another.  Some keep us tangled up in fear.  Still others keep us still and paralyzed from connecting with anything or anyone else.

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The experiences of life color the core of who we are.

I am slowly realizing all my experiences, even the painful ones, have formed the core of who I am.  The scars have thickened my skin so I’m a tougher broad than most would realize.  There is a colorful nugget or two of wisdom I can share with others, or with myself.

As I loop my life with others intentionally and carefully, as I make new connections which will stretch me professionally and personally-I know it’s all being formed into something bigger than the sum of its parts.

It took two hours and more than one expletive, but I finished that bracelet.   I’m reminded of these sacred words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  This is how I hope to loop together all the pieces of my life from now until the end.  I want to fight the good fight.  I want to finish the race.  And I want to keep the faith.

The finished product.

The finished product.