Sunday, November 24, 2013

What I know for sure

Please bear with me - this post is going to ramble on a bit.

Oprah always says "What I know for sure is...." I have been envious of her - she knows a lot of things for sure! She has been publishing magazines monthly for over ten years and she prints something she knows for sure in each one of them, so that ALONE is more than 120 things that she knows.
I always think - "I wish I knew something for sure."

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am doing meditations for the first time. I am well into the third week and the most recent meditation was about being grateful.

I believe in gratitude. I always have. I had an experience this week where I was away at a conference and a server who was working for the hotel was seeming to have a rough night. One of the women at our table saw her getting into some trouble in the hallway and she was not smiling or enjoying herself as she worked serving dinner. Another (inspired) person at our table issued a challenge to those of us seated there to see who could make her smile first. A challenge is something I am usually up for and it was GREAT fun to try and get her attention, show gratitude for what she was doing for us, and get her to smile. We managed to get her to smile then and over the next 24 hours went out of our way to connect with her. I KNOW FOR SURE that she felt appreciated by us and that it made a difference to her that night. It was a recent and "re"-affirmation that gratitude has power.

Late last night I got a text message that my aunt's organs were failing and that her children were being gathered at the hospital immediately. Later, the decision was made to remove her from the respirator and within a few hours the message came that she had passed away.

I was - I AM  - gutted. I hurt for my mom. I hurt for my cousins. I hurt for me! I lay in bed, my mind racing and I thought, I need to get some sleep tonight and I need to do my meditation. I turned it on and began listening to the message on gratitude. I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face, listening to a message I KNOW to be true - and not feeling like I WANTED to be grateful at all for the passing of my loved one. I felt hypocritical laying there, listening and feeling resentment instead of gratitude. Out of the blue, I imagined being in the presence of my aunt and hearing her say my name. "Ju".

I cried harder, but realized that I have -  I KNOW FOR SURE  that I have - MANY, MANY things to be grateful for.

I am grateful that I was born in a time and in a place and in a  family where I was loved, nurtured and raised by my aunt, forging with her a mother-daughter bond that has lasted my lifetime and is not done.
I am grateful for the skinned knees she fixed when I crashed my bike over a speed bump in California Caravan Park in England - racing to get home to her.
I am grateful that she taught me how to cross stitch, grateful for the Christmas decorations we made together.
I am grateful for the red rosettes she sent to me every year for my birthday - with my age in gold. I am grateful for her voice, her songs, that lifted my spirit. I loved to lay my head on her lap in church and FEEL her sing.
I am grateful for her prayers for me "When the moon is rising". (The moon rises daily - as did her prayers on my behalf !)
There was never a time in my life EVER, that when I called her that she didn't greet me  - "Ju. Hi my love." She only had to hear me say hello and she knew it was me.  I am grateful for the dress she made for me when I graduated from high school - so that I didn't have to wear anything in pastels and with lots of bows - (she still managed to slip in a bow). I am grateful for the blankets she made for my sons. I am grateful for the hand written cards she sent when my pets died . She is one of only two people I know on earth who still sent things in the mail handwritten.

She was there for me in my infancy, there for me in my youth, there for me in my teenage years and in my adulthood.  I have spent time with her on three different continents. I spent summers with her when I was in high school, lived with her when I was.... Who knows what I was?! Confused?
I could go on and on and on and on.

In the last 20 hours or so I have watched her siblings, her nieces and nephews, and others she knows write on facebook about their love for her. The lives she impacted are immeasurable. I could start to make a list of the charitable organizations she has helped, of the hours of service she has put in, and begin to measure the impact she has had on the world. It is plain to see that EVERY person she had contact with has been enriched by their relationship.

Instead of beginning to take measure of the impact she had on others I will share with you what I know for sure  - she loved me. I know she did, and she knows that I love her.

Thank-you Aunty Bren. I know for sure.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meditation Experience : day 2

I am about to begin the second meditation in the 21 day program with Oprah and Deepak.
Yesterday was my first one and I was nervous but I actually really enjoyed it. I have been looking forward to the second one all day.

You can still join by linking HERE.

The message today included this: "Through meditation, we connect more deeply with the present, increase our awareness of “what is,” and emerge from the silence with a sense of balance and a desire to make right, conscious choices in our lives. In this way, we begin to recognize our own undeniable role in creating the story of our lives and begin to align ourselves with those choices that are the most nurturing for ourselves and everyone around us."

Though I REALLY like the sound of it, and I certainly believe it may be true for some people, I don't think I am quite so enlightened after just one day! I will say however, that when I emerged from the silence yesterday I DID have a desire to make right, conscious choices in my life. I'm still seeking the "balance" part!

I am a little nervous about today's meditation because I feel like I could continue to do yesterday's meditation for a month before I was ready to move on. Is it possible to "meditate too fast?" LOL

Here I go.......

Monday, November 11, 2013

Season of Change

Lots of things have changed for our family in the past year and I have been working hard on moving forward with a sense of renewal and purpose and making a positive change - in our family and personally.

Here are some of the positive things that I am participating in/focusing on RIGHT NOW:

I am working in the community with the Restorative Justice Program and I LOVE it.
I have a new job with many opportunities for learning and growth and I am taking them!
I just started the 21 day meditation challenge with Deepak and Oprah and completed my first meditation today.
I am focusing on gratitude and being positive in my daily life.
I quit smoking.
I COMPLETELY changed the focus of my graduate program project and had to start over!

When I celebrated my 42 birthday I decided I would set a list of 42 goals - one for every year of my life and I would accomplish them by the time I turn 43. I have started a "pseudo" list in my brain but I wanted to start putting it down on paper (or blog) so it was a little more formal.

So in no particular order here is the beginning of my 42 goals for the year:

1. Get a tattoo.
2. Finish a cross stitch character for mom's nativity.
3. Make a quilt.
4. Take the boys to the ocean.
5. Do a craft from pinterest that I am interested in.
6. GRADUATE with my master's degree.
7. Blog at least 52 times in the next year.
8. Read at least 52 books in the next year.
9. Start to Zentangle.
10. Take a photo every single day.

do you have any suggestions?

It's been 11 days....

The kids went home 11 days ago. I miss them SO much it is insane. It is such a strange thing to miss someone who is living, but who you have no access to. It's not like anything I have ever experienced before. We have been foster parents before and we have had MANY kids come and go from our home. Some we have kept in touch with, some are in the community and we see them from time to time, others we have no contact with but we didn't have for as long as these babies - and we weren't so bonded to them. It is a strange, strange thing and I have no words for it. I feel bereft.

It's not like I have a ton of time to sit around and mope. I am extremely busy with work and the boys are very, VERY busy - as usual. I am trying to be grateful for the blessings I have. I am focussing on gratitude and positivity in my life but still I get these "niggles" throughout the day of sadness for the babies being gone.

I am trying to think of this as a time to strengthen the relationship and focus on the "bigs" as we came to call them. We measured Maxies foot yesterday and it is the same size as Shel's. Our seven year old  has feet the size of his mama. Yesterday we played with him and CJ on the bed and giggled and laughed and had fun with "JUST" them like we haven't for a long time. I need desperately to reconnect with Maxie in particular and so I am trying to allowm yself to feel the gratitude for that opportunity right now.

It is hard to "let go". It's not something I have mastered and it is darn painful. At the end of the day I have to just "go through it" I guess and allow myself to feel the sadness and the loss and appreciate the LOVE that my little's brought into my life. They brought me so much joy and blessed my life immeasurably. I hope they know now and will ALWAYS know - Goo loves them.

If I had a flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.

 I love you my baby, You brought a smile to my face EVERY single day that I knew you. I will try to keep that smile :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Super Heroes

Our boys had SOOOOO much fun on Halloween it was amazing. It was one of the best nights we have had as a family all together in a LONG TIME. I am grateful for the day.

CJ went to school as an Iron Man and returned from school as an Iron Man Zombie!

He has been so excited about being Iron Man that he has been wearing his costume for weeks already. He went to school this morning in costume and was actually excited about school for once! I thought my social man was going to love school but alas, he does not. If only every day were a costume day.

Even Max wore "part" of a costume to school. This is miraculous as this shy guy wants to do NOTHING that will draw attention to himself. He wont even wear the toque his momma Shel got him because he doesn't want the other kids to "look at " him!
Crazy kid.

One of the reasons we LOVE trick or treating out in the country is because people give SO Much candy - you don't even have to go to many houses to get FULL bags! That was true again for this year. The people are so trusting they leave bags out while they take their own kids around. The first time I saw this I could not believe that people were so honest and actually LEFT candy out without worrying that it would all be taken by the first person who walked up. It isn't!

Is anyone home?

One of the houses that we went to even gave out FULL Mason jars to the kids, painted black and decorated like mummy's. SO CUTE!!!!

It was a great night. The weather was the best it has been in years and the boys were super excited.
The Halloween theme has carried through in our house for a few days now. The boys played "haunted house" last night and today Max decided to turn CJ into a skeleton with Permanent Marker.
CJ didn't object of course.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I think everyone who reads this blog knows that we have fostered children.
Let me just say that the foster care system in this country is JACKED UP.
When a child is removed from a home a parent usually has up to six months awarded by the court to get whatever it is they need straightened out done so. Sometimes less time is given but no more than six months. After (I'm going to use the maximum amount of time - because it has been in our case) six months the parents go back before the judge and they can prove they have done what is completed. If it is - kids go home. If not - kids stay in care and the case worker can either ask for another "temporary" guardianship order or a "permanent" guardianship order. Usually after six months, unless there are extreme  extenuating circumstances, the case worker will not ask for permanent guardianship but will continue to work with the family towards getting the child home.
In the time that the child/children are in care, the case worker must explore other possible placements for the child/ren in the event that return to parents is not possible.
They look to family members - this is known as kinship placement. This is the most sought after alternate care plan for the children. Family group conferences are held to try and establish who could possibly come forward in the event the parents cannot, to care for the children.
If there is family, they must pass criminal record checks and child welfare checks and their homes must be inspected and they must go through a process JUST as rigorous as any adoptive home. Those who have adopted children know that this process is very invasive and a huge pain - but absolutely necessary.
So now, twelve months have passed. HOPEFULLY by this time the parents have their shiznet together, because it is only legal to ask for temporary guardianship twice - or up to 12 months. Then the court MUST take the children and find alternate homes for them in order to provide the MOST stability and quickest resolution IN THEIR LIVES.

Here's what I think should NOT happen in foster care......
1. Kids should not be returned to parents who have no home.
2. Kids should not be returned to homes where individuals did not pass criminal record checks or child welfare checks.
3. Kids should not be returned to homes where they were removed from WHEN NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THAT HOME "just because" workers are too busy with too many cases to adequately follow up and have things like drug tests completed.
4. Kids should not go from having "2 hour supervised" visits on an unpredictable schedule to being released to homeless parents for completely  unsupervised overnight (week long) visits before court because all of a sudden the court date is imminent and no transition plan has been made for the children.
5. Foster families should not be treated like chattel.

So if you are thinking of being a foster parent I have just one word of advise to you. RUN AWAY. RUN AWAY FAST before you meet and fall in love with, and care for children who will then be manhandled by a broken system.