International Day of Women : The blessings that come when you show up! ūüíô #strengthsourceproject

Browsing through my Facebook feed I come across a notification that a friend tagged me in someone’s post. As one who is both a businesswoman and artist I know a diverse group of people and am a bit picky about what I’m tagged in with the permanence of social media. Much to my surprise I saw the photo taken of me last year posted on the photographer’s Facebook page and appeared both digitally and I’m print on page 5 of the Philadelphia Inquirer!

The #strengthsourceproject is this beautiful collage of photos and stories capturing the moments that built the character and resilience of women of all colors, ages, shapes and class. It’s a brilliant compilation and I’m honored to be a participant.

If only you knew how sad I felt that day. I had just found out my daughter was diagnosed with dysgraphia, a severe learning disorder that makes it difficult and frustrating for her, an advanced reader to process writing. The same exact day my son’s school counselor called about him exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression (the dance partners of a highly gifted and intuitive brain), avoiding teachers and classes as a result. As their sole caretaker l was overwhelmed with the decisions I had to make on my own knowing I would also not receive the financial support.

I was going to cancel the meeting I set with Carrie for the photo because I just wanted to go somewhere and cry. I wore bright colors on purpose to lift my spirits. She was so warm and compassionate when I met her in Fishtown by Franny Lous Porch and reading the other women’s stories really gave me the strength to deal with it all.

And oh the blessings that have come because I showed up! Aside from this acknowledgement in the paper, since that day my children have benefited from angels in the form of teachers and therapists. My daughter has been tutored by a retired teacher for free and my son’s therapist only charges me a tenth of his normal fee because I was transparent and unafraid to speak my truth and ask for help.

My strength is my truth and I’m grateful that my transparency is able to help other women. The stories on the blog are powerful. I hope you get to read mine too. Please share your favorite in the comments. It’s okay if it’s not mine. I’m every woman ūüėä

Not One (New original poetry by Toni Love)

 

Mothers of Black Sons and all who support in solidarity are welcome to join us as we stand together United against racial injustice, police brutality and inner city violence. We need your collective voice, wisdom and support to effect change. Please come out Sunday, October 16th at 12noon. We will march from Broad and Cecil B Moore Avenue to 1401 JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia. In addition to being a poet, I am the mother of a young black¬†male. I am honored to be on the program and will recite this piece as well as my poem “Born of Warriors” written after the #PhiladoCastille murder.

MOBS can be contacted via email at : millionmomsphilly@gmail.com. Please also donate as little or as much as you can to MOBS Go Fund Me which will help cover the cost of permits and travel to our state and US capitols. Gathering as one unit is an essential part of the healing process. I hope you come.

~Toni #loveistheanswer

Not One   

Not mine, son
Not mine

Not my son
Not my brother, nephew, uncle or current lover
Not my neighbor cousin or future husband

Not mine, not hers
Not anybody’s
Son

I am not saying “no more”
I am saying “not one”

We with the millions of ancestors behind us
Forge a force you will feel into centuries

Your gated communities will not be safe
Your land will not be prosperous
Your wealth will not sustain you
Your privilege will not save you

We are millions today plus millions from centuries before us
We are far more than your eyes can see

We gather together
Seen and unseen
When mothers pray
The heavens come forth to listen

So rest assured and be forewarned
There will be a price for your descendants to pay
If you ever look at our sons in a disrespectful way

We, collectively are not playing with you today

No more
Not one
Not
One
Son

(c) Toni Love Publishing

 

 

 

Blind Faith;heart lessons at a rest stop

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The kids look forward to our annual beach vacation all year. It’s an opportunity to get away from the day-to-day pressures and routine of school, home-life and chores and simply sleep, eat and play! I look forward to it as well. It’s the only week of the year that we are all home at the same time with no obligations and I am not the only one in the house they can go to for whatever they need. Here they have other adults and older cousins who can drive and are responsible enough to take them to the beach,the local recreation center or keep an eye on them at the house. It’s also a gift to spend quality time with my youngest brother, my god-daughter, nephews and their friends. So much laughter shared among us and I take the opportunity to inject some elder wisdom into our conversations when the subject permits. To have all of this goodness occur at the beach is the icing on the cake!

I plan and save all year. This year, right before our scheduled trip my largest client fell behind considerably on the payment of my monthly retainer. As a precaution I always keep a reserve in my savings but I reserve it for emergencies, and a vacation does not fall under that category. I thought for a minute about cancelling the beach trip but I knew how disappointed the kids would be and I was looking forward to and deserved a break before the school year began. I was angry and frustrated but I moved some money out of my savings, made sure the bills were paid and the fish was fed before I packed up the three of us, and prepared my mind for the six-hour drive ahead of me. Six hours with three anxious and excited kids, and I couldn’t stop worrying that this could be our last trip down here for a while. If my client couldn’t bounce back from their financial problems, could I manage until I found more work?¬†I was supposed to be relaxing but I have to admit I was a little on edge and still wondering if I made the right choice to continue with the vacation.

At about the four-hour mark, my bladder insisted I pull over at the rest stop in Virginia. Stuckey’s is famous for their variety of nuts. Anything from fajita almonds to honey salt cashews; most travelers stop for their fresh pecans and peanuts. I walked in and was instantly reminded of my grandfather Jabez (Pop Pop we called him) known to bring a bag of fresh peanuts home every time he went south to visit his Southern Baptist church family. He grew up near Jimmy Carter’s family peanut farm and founded a Southern Baptist Church nearby Bainbridge, Georgia. I grabbed a few cans of cashews to snack on for the remainder of the trip, handed them to my daughter for safekeeping and hurried to the women’s bathroom.

When I came out of the bathroom my daughter had both cans and a piece of wood shaped like a heart in her hands. She smiled and began to say as if reading my mind “don’t ask Mommy, just buy it..you have to trust me.” I gave her a look that translated into “what are you up to now, Janai and how much is it going to cost me?” I asked her if she could at least tell me the price. She wasn’t sure and again she said “Mommy, just buy it.” My daughter has such a kind heart. She is always giving or creating something to give to a friend or family member, usually at my expense. I love her compassion but it sometimes comes with a high price tag. I finally gave in figuring it must be important to her and I could always return it if it’s too expensive.

Somehow the woman at the register figured out what she was doing because she didn’t say the name of the item, just the price and smiled behind me at Janai. I had to chuckle and was relieved that it was under three dollars and not another high-priced souvenir. When I turned around to go to the car she ran in front of me saying “just wait a minute Mom, I have to do something, just wait.” and shooed me to the passenger side of the car. I still hadn’t a clue what she was doing until she gave me permission to open my car door and reveal her gift. I saw this beautifully painted heart hanging from my rear view mirror with the words “Mom, you are a blessing”. I had to hold back the tears. It’s a special moment when you feel that your children understand all of the strain, struggle and sacrifice you have to go through to make their lives more joyful and take the time to show you how much you’re appreciated. It’s a rare moment and I had to sit there a moment and take it all in before I grabbed the wheel and continued to drive two more hours to our destination.

Later that evening, as I sat back on the balcony with a glass of wine enjoying the sounds of the crashing waves heard from the nearby beach and children’s laughter coming from the pool below I thought about that moment at the rest stop. Not only was my daughter being her sweet thoughtful self, but maybe she was also being used to send me a message from a higher source. I know that there are often times in my life where I am fearful of taking a step and doing something because I can’t see the outcome and I don’t know what lies ahead for me. I want to know what I’m getting into. I don’t trust what I don’t see. Then I’m reminded of one of my favorite anonymous quotes. “God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame”. The blessings I often blindly receive are such a powerful statement of love that I never know they are coming. And they are always much more than I could ever have thought to ask for.

This was yet another reminder to trust the process and have faith that something greater is going to be revealed to me. All I could see in my daughter’s hand was a piece of carved wood, but when she was ready to present me with my gift I found it to be more beautiful than I could have ever imagined!

Encouraging Young Writers in Philadelphia Today

received_10209380157758316My father loved to read and wrote a multitude of songs and essays yet published only one song in his lifetime. Today in his memory I am excited to be hosting a fundraiser for Philly Youth March and Voice4Justice. The event featuring Grammy Nominee Ursula Rucker and the extraordinarily musical Monica McIntyre begins today at 3pm at Alma Mater, 7165 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The suggested donation is $10 and children are free! Please come and encourage our young writers. And prepare to be blown away by the collaborations and energy in the room. 

Check out the Facebook event pageVoices for Justice Event for more details and I hope to see you there!

Peace and blessings and Happy Father’s day!

Toni Love #loveistheanswer

Arts and Artists Extravaganza Today! Voorhees NJ

2015 Arts and Artists Extravaganza
http://www.bit.ly/artsandauthors2015

Good Morning! Toni Love will be appearing at the 2015 Arts and Artist Extravaganza at The Mansion in Voorhees, NJ today! The event will take place from 4PM-8PM and there will be a showcase of the area’s finest artists and published authors. I am honored to be invited to share some of my poetry with the attendees. I will also have copies of my new CD “The Restoration” available before it is officially released to the public at my CD Release party on August 22nd. In addition, you can get Toni Love t-shirts and purchase tickets to the show! It’s a family friendly event and FREE for children under 10. Check out the link below for more information. I hope to see you out on this beautiful Sunday!

Click here for more information —-> ¬†2015 Arts and Artists Extravaganza

The Day I Left God – Original Poetry from Toni Love

digging graveyardThe Day I Left God

I laid the red carnation on top of her casket

Collapsing through showers of grief

The sight of them lowering the flesh and bones of my mother

Into the cold hard ground was too much for my fragile womb to bear

I had prophesied years before

That her life would end when her decayed lungs could take no more

Tobacco

Stress

Worry

Fear

Yet I still was not prepared

God was not supposed to take my mommy so soon

I did all the right things

I was baptized and attended church

I paid my tithes

Helped the elderly, sick and poor

Volunteered and served my community

I got good grades, graduated from college, supported myself

And although I wasn’t perfect I tried to do every righteous thing I could do

Stayed by her side like a good daughter should

Took her to doctor’s appointments

And brought her clothes and food when she was unable to move

I was so good how could he take my mommy so soon?

Every day I walked into the cancer center I stopped in the chapel to pray

Please wait until my baby is born before you take my mommy away

Every day

On my knees I would pray

Please God

Please God

And he took her anyway

Standing over her casket tears flowing too fast to even wipe away

I sobbed again for her grand baby comfortably swaying in my womb

Anxious to see the light of day

Not realizing the would never get the chance to wrap his little

Hands around her face and say

I love you mom mom

Day by day the anger filled up every space left in my perforated heart

How dare my God leave me to do motherhood alone?

Without my mother to tell me how to hold him when to feed him

When to worry and when to let go

How cruel can he be to leave me mourning during the most beautiful time in my life?

Just two months before I would walk down the aisle and become someone’s loving wife

With each contraction my unborn child had no choice but to drink in my tears of pain grief and anger

My soul cried out why

And received no answer

I found myself sitting in silence once again

Praying to find the strength to go on

So I did what I felt God had done

I banished love and left my soul deserted

Back in the cemetery in the cold hard earth I left my faith in God and buried it deep

And I walked away

And I wept

The day I left God.

© M. Tonita Austin aka Toni Love

New Shoes: My Mother’s Day Gift from Above

wpid-20150510_100024.pngMy Mother transitioned a little less than fourteen years ago, and last year was the first year I awakened on Mother’s Day without heaviness in my heart and tears in my eyes. Our relationship expanded beyond mother and daughter, we were best friends, so it was a deeper loss for me. The first few years were the most difficult. Even though I was a mother myself, all of the Mother’s Day commercials with scenes of children hugging and delivering gifts and flowers to their mothers trickled into my joy like Chinese water torture. The constant barrage of reminders and emails about the day made me want to crawl under a rock until it was over. One day about ten years ago, my Godmother called me to wish me a happy day and I burst into tears. She spoke to me about the pride she felt when she watched me with my children, and that she knew my mother was watching with even more pride and how I should pass the joy of motherhood on to my offspring, not just the sadness of the loss. She told me that it was normal and acceptable to have a moment of sadness and recognition of the loss, but not to sit in it and watch the day pass without honoring myself and all of the other mothers and mother figures in my life. That same year my daughter’s Godmother talked to me about the love of a Mother and how her presence is strong and with us but we have to push aside the cloud of grief to see their light. She suggested that I ask her to manifest herself in some small way during the day and so I challenged her belief and I did. Later that afternoon my best friend’s mother showed up on my back porch (mom’s favorite spot ) with a beautiful bouquet of plants and flowers and also reminded me that this is a day not only of remembrance of my mom, but more importantly to celebrate and applaud myself. Mom had sent her most faithful messengers to me and I finally had no choice but to hear them loud and clear and drink in the love that she was offering through them.

I can’t say that the weeks leading up to the holiday aren’t still sometimes melancholy and that I don’t think of her more because of all of the commercialized sentiments, but I do three things leading up to mother’s day that keep me from being overwhelmed by the sadness that can envelop the holiday:

  1. I pamper myself :¬†Last week, I put appointments in my calendar for a massage, manicure and pedicure. I also made arrangements to take a mini-retreat; a 24 hour stay-cation at a nearby hotel complete with wine, bubble bath, and as much sleep and relaxation I want without anyone yelling “mom” or bursting in my room, even if it is for a morning hug. As caretakers, our first priority should always be to check in with ourselves and make sure we take the time out to refuel every once in a while. I save $50 a month and put it into my Serenity Fund so that I can take a stay-cation at least four times a year. If you patronize a particular hotel each time you can end up with points and some of your retreats will cost you nothing.
  2. I purchase¬†myself a gift that will arrive on or before Mother’s Day:¬†In the last few years of my marriage, my ex would not even buy me a Mother’s Day gift. My children were babies so I would be disappointed to say the least. I realized then that I didn’t have to wait for another person to validate me as a mother and that I could do it for myself, so each year I purchase one gift that I wanted but had refrained from buying for myself, and I purchased one gift that I would probably have given to my Mother (almost always ends up being a pair of shoes!). This year, I replaced my worn out couch with a slightly used couch with two recliners. And I ordered three pairs of shoes. I honor myself and honor my Mother at the same time and receive twice the love. Win-win!
  3. I ask for Mom to “show up” and always expect a gift from her in the form of a mini-miracle:¬†I never really felt my mom’s presence until months of grief therapy helped me get past the mild depression that set in after her loss. She was around but I wasn’t present. Now, I ask her to show up for me and she always does. And I always experience a random act of kindness from one of her angels here on earth. This year, the day before Mother’s day my shoes arrived and I got the sudden urge to rid my closet of old shoes I can’t or won’t wear any longer and to organize my closet to fit in all of the shoes that I can wear since my ankle fracture. It truly felt as if mom had taken over my body because I haven’t cleared out my bedroom closet in about ten years. Mom had so many shoes that she had each shoe box cataloged by number on her computer. Halfway through the project I smiled because I couldn’t deny that she was making her spirit known to me, and I thanked her for the beautiful gift of her presence! Most years I get several mini God-incidences (much more than a coincidence) or miracles, so far for this Mother’s Day I’ve received two. I have been wanting to replace my couch. I originally purchased it from a Thrift Store just to have something to sit on when my ex moved out and took the furniture with him. The couch was nothing fancy but it was cheap and comfortable and would suffice. A few weeks ago on a Yard Sale site I saw a double reclining sofa listed for several hundred dollars. I mentioned that I was interested but knew it was still not in my budget. A few days ago the woman contacted me saying the other buyer had backed out and she was dropping the price of this gently used couch (it retails new for over $700) down to $100. When I mentioned that I needed to find someone with a truck, she said she had a friend who could move it for me, no extra cost; mini miracle #1. Friday I went to the local Whole Foods to get fruit and thought about what I could get that was appetizing and also easy enough for the kids to cook me for Mother’s day. While browsing, a gentleman working at the fresh pasta counter invited me to consider some of their options. I started thinking that pasta would be easy enough for the kids to prepare especially since fresh pasta cooks so quickly. Before I could decide, the young man said that he would give me a sample of Ricotta Gnocchi to try at home and proceeded to fill up a small box of fresh pasta that I could take home at no cost to me! I picked up a small container of marinated and grilled chicken breast and just that quickly my Mother’s Day dinner dilemma had been resolved. I smiled again and said “thanks Mom”; mini miracle #2.

Some don’t believe in spirits or the after life or even that people transition and remain with us as energy, but I do. And even if you don’t, and you have or have had the experience of a Mother’s unconditional love, you should at least believe that she would not stop loving you or showing her love for you just because she is no longer physically able to do so. Mothers are God’s miracle workers and I don’t believe the miracles stop just because their earthly heart stops beating.

Wishing all of the caregivers of beautiful children, a beautiful day of love, gifts and miracles! And oh yes, shoes!!

“Grief Waits” – Original Poetry by Toni Love

Grief Waits
Grief Waits

I read this original poem “Grief Waits” at The Collective All Artist Open Mic a few weeks ago at Rose Petals Cafe and Lounge and a few people asked me to post it. This was written a few weeks after my father transitioned, not for sympathy but to support the little girl inside yearning to tell her story. Not sure I’m finished with it, but here it is:

Grief Waits

She cries
Into makeup stained pillows when no one is awake
This single mother of two wants her own daddy back
But no time to be sad with taxi runs to baseball ballet and piano lessons
No chance to cry with the babies watching and counting on her strength
Even peaceful meditation is interrupted by children’s nightmares¬†soaked in sadness
She greets the morning sun holding back the tears
Adorning sunglasses so the suburban moms don’t ask her “what’s wrong?” as she skips her child to school

Gotta make sure her offspring are happy and
Gotta make sure they keep up their grades and
Gotta keep their schedules consistent so they won’t feel the pain
Gotta keep a smile at the job and
Gotta search for the desire to
pay the bills, do the laundry and cook them a healthy meal

Gotta shield them from the rain

But who is taking care of the little girl who just lost her daddy
Who makes sure she eats and keeps the heaviness of her heart from sinking into the pit of her stomach
Who holds back her fear of the journey through life as an orphan and raising strong kids alone while the village is slowly disappearing
No grandfathers, no grandmothers, no great grands, no mother no father
No father

Who holds her at the end of the night when the kids are counting sheep and she can’t find enough energy to weep
Who takes her by the hand and lifts her off her feet to give her burdens a chance to sleep
Who says its gonna be okay and wipes her tears away
Maybe tomorrow will be a better day
Maybe then she’ll feel like going out to play
But not today

Because she’s tossed and turned all night
Living a nightmare until the first ray of daylight
Then its time to dab away the pain and push away the tears
Because its 7:15 and the school bus will soon be here
And no one wants salty tears in their lunchbox

Yet she rises once again meeting the morning with a smile
As grief waits behind every closed door

God Bless the Child

(c) M Tonita Austin aka Toni Love  5/30/2013

The Balancing Act: You can have it all, just not all at once.

wpid-wp-1404782549159.jpegI remember the day I started writing again. I was a full-time stay at home mom and business owner, six years into my marriage, lobbying with my son’s school to get his IQ tested and nursing an infant. I wasn’t getting much sleep at night and had to find time to juggle clients, housework and bills, babies and PTA meetings during the day. Needless to say my house never looked like the¬†spotless ones in the Parenting magazines! One day while checking e-mail, I came across one from a dear friend from high school. She came into my life at a time when I was my most authentic self – proud, brave, strong, emotional, nurturing, vulnerable and fearless, and I wasn’t afraid to write¬†about any of it. She asked me if I would consider writing an essay for her upcoming anthology. I thought she was either on medication or feeling sorry for me! I placed¬†writing aside to be mom, wife and business woman and there was not time to sit in my feelings or even sit and write about it. I barely found time to sleep and she wanted me to reclaim some brain cells and write and essay?! We had several conversations about it and I am sure she heard the exhaustion and defeat in my voice. I politely said thanks for the honor but there’s no way I could fit it into my schedule. But she wouldn’t give up on me. I received an email the next day which I will never forget. Aside from reading the uncomfortable praise about my writing and the effect it had on her as a young woman, she told me that it is okay to give my self permission to be more than just a mother and a wife. That I could do all of that and still write. I could take my son to school and still write. I could nurse my daughter and still write. I could cook and clean (well, not much cleaning) and still write, and that I could be the best wife I could be and be a writer too. She also reminded me that my children were watching, and more importantly my daughter was watching. Did I want her to grow up being shown that she could not have it all? That folding clothes and running to doctor’s visits; that caring for her husband and children was more important than sharing my gifts from God?

The next day I agreed to take on the challenge of writing the essay. I spent late nights at my laptop, sometimes with a nursing infant at my bosom and sometimes in-between naps, but I followed her editorial wisdom, put on my big girl pants and dusted off my journals and pens. I can’t say that my ex (husband at the time) was happy about it. As a matter of fact, he rejected my offers to him to read my draft and at the time of my book signing years later, he still had not read one word of my essay. Nonetheless, I¬†had never felt more fulfilled, more proud, motivated and accomplished than when I received the published anthology in the mail. I cried and thanked my Creator for giving me the strength and the support to write such an emotional essay about my mother. She was my mother, my best friend and now my muse.

Five years later, I am still writing and working with new situations to balance. I am reading poetry and working on my first poetry CD. I am still self-employed, I am still home to greet¬†my children when they get home from school, and I still have a home to take care of, but now I am doing it alone. It’s not easy finding quiet time to write. Most nights I am too exhausted to do anything after the kids’¬†bath¬†and bedtime, so I keep my laptop by my bed in case I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and want to write. I collect journals so¬†there’s always one in my briefcase, bedroom or car for convenience. Thankfully with today’s technology I can also¬†log into¬†my blog from my smart phone and jot down some ideas or save an inspirational quote, meme or picture to my phone that will jog my memory to write. I love getting out at night and I try to support local artists, writers, poets as much as I can in the area, however I have to pace myself because it can be costly. Not only do I have to pay the entrance fee, but I sometimes end up paying¬†a sitter up to¬†$15 an hour to care for my kids, so a night out to an open mic just to get paid nothing can cost me fifty to sixty dollars¬†depending on how long I’m staying out. So I pace myself, and try to get out at least twice a month. If it’s a new venue, I go to check out the energy and the crowd, or I may go to a familiar place to support fellow artists and be inspired. It’s an investment in myself and much-needed “me” time, so I budget for it, find the time in my busy schedule¬†and am blessed to have family and friends I can rely on at times¬†to¬†care for my children (and save me money!). I’ve learned how to find balance between my responsibilities as a mother and business woman and my need to express my life experience with words. It’s never easy to leave my children with a sitter on a school night¬†and interrupt their normal bedtime routine. It’s not easy getting in my car and traveling into the city at the end of an already long day. And sometimes it’s very frustrating when I really want to go out somewhere to read my poems or hear other artists and my sitter cancels on me, or one of the kids get sick. But to quote¬†India Arie’s¬†lyrics to¬†Life I Know.. ” it’s all alright ’cause this is the life I know”.

I just want to spread love, encouragement, passion¬†and healing through my poetry. I’m thrilled when someone hears my words and is inspired. I’m more thrilled and proud of the fact that my children are learning that they can have it all…with balance,

It’s all Temporary (Memoirs in a Cast)

Cast Yes, that is my left foot in a cast. A little over three and a half months ago¬†I found myself laying flat on my back in the street after I stepped off of the curb onto a sheet of ice and fractured my Fibula (the smaller bone on the outside of my ankle). I thought it was just a sprain, but fortunately a good friend who is also a Registered Nurse found me in the street and urged me to go to the emergency room for an x-ray. I was devastated when the¬†doctor¬†told me I had suffered a fracture. I spent six weeks in a cast and on crutches, three weeks in an ugly, bulky black boot and now I’ve graduated to an ankle brace and running shoes. Thankfully, I’m making progress and I’ve got two¬†more weeks to go before I am¬†finished my physical therapy. It has been extremely challenging to say the least, especially as a self-employed, independent mother with two fairly young children. I am so thankful that the fracture did not warrant surgery and I am thrilled that I did not fracture the Tibia, which is the larger, weight bearing bone in my lower leg. And although it was extremely uncomfortable, frustrating, inconvenient and sometimes¬†painful, I was also very aware and grateful that this was a temporary condition and that one day I would be walking again.

I felt sad and depressed at times but when those feelings started to rise, I reminded myself that there are millions of people who spend a majority of their lives on crutches, in wheelchairs and walkers. Making a mental gratitude list would pull me right out of my pity party. I must say that I learned quite a few things while I was incapacitated; wisdom that you and I have most likely heard somewhere before, but really came into focus during my recovery period and I felt I needed to share them with you:

  1. Don’t mess with Mother Earth. When there is snow and ice on the ground, put your boots on, even if you are just “running” to the store. Your new cross trainers may have traction, but they are no match for snow, and definitely not when it’s laying on top of a thick patch of ice that you can’t see!
  2. Stop trying to do everything¬†all at once. The day I slipped on ice I felt so¬†motivated. Earlier that morning I¬†had a meeting with my friend and marketing consultant about a new business venture, I volunteered at my daughter’s school, went to a clients office, went food shopping, handled one of my duties as PTG (Parent Teacher Group) Treasurer ¬†and was on my way to squeeze¬†in¬†the rest of my “to do” list before the kids got in from school when I fell. As the sole caregiver for my seven and twelve year old, as well as a self-employed accountant during tax season (not to mention the volunteer positions and other ways I help my community), my plate was overflowing. ¬†I get so exhausted that sometimes I have days when I don’t feel like doing anything at all; then of course my “to do ” list gets backed up and I go into Superwoman mode. A good friend told me just a few days before my fracture, “even Superwoman has to put her cape in the dry cleaners for a few days” but Superwoman didn’t listen. I found out the hard way that when Superwoman is too stubborn to slow down, God sometimes does it for her. I am going to stop volunteering for so many things and am going to selfishly take time more time to focus on what’s most important to me instead of what I do to please others. Lesson learned.
  3. Allowing others to love and care for you is not a sign of weakness. I was overwhelmed by the constant outpouring of love, prayers, text messages, emails, visits and help that I received while I was unable to take care of myself and my children. When you are unable to put any weight on one foot, and are subjected to crutches, it’s impossible to make beds, do laundry, stand at the stove and cook, wash your daughter’s hair, pick up after the kids and even sit down on the side of your child’s bed to give them a kiss goodnight. And since I am used to doing all of that myself, I hadn’t a clue of who, what and where to ask for help.¬†You feel less than a woman because you can’t take care of your children’s needs, you can’t take care of your home and you feel so unattractive add useless. It’s almost depressing, but my reality was that I couldn’t do it and I couldn’t’ let my kids starve because of my pride so I was forced to ask for help. What I found out to my surprise is that my dear friends, my family and even those who were not so close to me were ready and willing to help me and support me in any way that I needed. I felt so loved and appreciated that it was sometimes overwhelming. Today I know just how much¬†I am loved and appreciated.
  4. Your children need to learn how to care for themselves. As a mother, I am so used to doing everything for my children yet ¬†I was now forced to start teaching my children how to take care of the household and hence themselves. I guess I thought that if I did everything they would always need me, not realizing that by doing everything, I am not doing my job as a mother, which is to teach them to be self-sufficient. I taught my son how to scramble eggs, make five minute gits and bake turkey bacon in the oven because I got tired of eating cold cereal for breakfast. To my surprise he loved cooking and loved the science behind it all! He also learned how to load the laundry and dryer. My daughter learned how to wash herself up at night and get herself into bed, and was my legs when I needed anything. My son took over my job of reading her a bedtime story. I was upset that I could no longer walk my daughter to school¬†but she was so proud of the fact that she could get across the street and back on her own. Now that I am able, she doesn’t even want me to walk her to school! A mother’s job is to teach her children how to survive in this world without her. I can now take that off of my “to do” list.
  5. Nothing is more important than your health; don’t take it for granted. I believe that if I hadn’t been getting to the gym on a fairly regular basis, staying active with my kids, eating healthy foods (I gave up fast food a few years ago), keeping my weight down, sacrificing to buy organic foods, practicing meditation and maintaining a healthy spiritual life, this recovery would have taken much longer. I am healthier than I thought. I also decided that I had to put my health first even if others (clients) were frustrated, disappointed, pushy, and lacked compassion, I had to take the time to heal and have faith that my needs would be provided for. If I allowed others’ needs to interfere with healing, I was jeopardizing my business anyway.¬†At my age, the doctors were surprised that I did not need to stay in the cast or boot longer than I did. My physical therapists are amazed at the progress and strength I have in this ankle after just a few weeks of PT. ¬†I am amazed that after almost two months of not driving, being stuck in the house with two kids, still grieving the passing of my father, with limited connection with the outside world, I still maintained my sanity! All because I focused on my healing and put my needs first for a change. Which leads me to the last lesson…
  6. Everything is temporary. One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned from meditation and Buddhist teachings and had to re-learn during this recovery is that everything is temporary. When you are in the midst of a crisis or uncomfortable situation and you feel like you will not last or that it will never end, think of a lightening storm. I remember as a little girl I was taught that¬†instead of just sitting there feeling fear, to count the seconds in between the claps of thunder because the longer the time in between two claps of thunder, the farther away the storm. I would be so focused on counting that it took my mind off of the fear. The storm would move further away and before I realized it,¬†there was no second clap of thunder to count at all, and¬†the storm was over. Even storms pass through. If we remember that things change every single second, then we can focus on what we can do in the moment to enjoy the time and space we have, knowing that even if this moment is difficult we are guaranteed not to be faced with it forever.

When they told me I fractured my ankle, I cried. I couldn’t imagine why God would immobilize me when I had two kids, a household and a business to manage. It seemed so overwhelming and felt like a prison sentence at the time. I imagined at my age that it would take forever for me to get this cast off and get some normalcy in my life. Today as I sit here writing and walking around in my bare feet, I take the time to absorb¬†the lessons I was knocked on my behind to learn. Save your energy on stressing about a situation, because the moments are¬†only temporary. Just let go and allow yourself to embrace the love and joy in the atmosphere because it is there and love is forever.

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