For My Dad, From My Dad

Family, Father, Leaderhip, Love

I wrote a little something about my mom for Mother’s Day and thought it would only be fair if I did the same for my dad. I am very blessed to have two amazing parents, who are young and vibrant and supportive and everything you need a parent to be.

This post is about my Dad, James.

When I was a little girl, I thought there was no one in the world smarter than he was.  And I was right.

While I like to think I inherited his smarts, what I recognize now that I am a little older is that my dad has an amazing heart and deep compassion that I also hope I’ve inherited.

He smiles easily, he loves puns, he has a photographic memory, he is always learning, he is giving and kind, he has deep, unwavering faith.

So in the same vein that I wrote about my mom, here are the things I have learned from my dad.

  1. Don’t try. Do it.  Long before Yoda, my dad used to say “trying isn’t good enough, just do it.”  When I was a kid, this seemed so harsh, especially when it came to Algebra. But now, here is what I know, I am successful because I get things done and give everything my best effort. I persevere because my dad showed me how.  He excelled at all that he did, he had set backs along the way, but he always gave everything his best. If you keep your expectations high, you will achieve.
  2. Always keep learning. My dad knows a lot of stuff. He can tell you long stories about how cotton impacted the economy of the US, he can tell you about which plants to plant in a shady, wet spot in your garden, he can tell you about how to make killer Carnitas.  He has always continued to learn.  When he retired he became a Master Gardener. He takes classes at the local college, he teaches classes at the local college. He reads and reads and reads. His natural sense of curiosity ensures that he is always growing as a person. I push myself to learn new things and grow as a person.
  3. Be Compassionate.  My dad can sometimes seem a *bit* intense.  (Although I have to say this has waned somewhat since he retired.) I am sure when he was younger he might have scared a few people (including me), but what many people didn’t see is behind the intensity is a compassionate, caring heart.  He loves and accepts people for who they are.  He is firm, but kind and he wants to best for people and will do just about anything to help another person. He believes in taking care of those less fortunate.  He believes in social justice.
  4. Believe in your dreams.  My dad always made sure we had everything we ever needed.  I know sometimes it has been challenging. Here are a couple of examples.  When my mom was ready, my dad helped her go back to graduate school and supported her throughout her career.  He supported and encouraged me going to a private college when I could have gone to the University of Arizona for basically free.  He has helped my sister achieve her dream of owning a restaurant. He sometimes has to sacrifice so others can achieve their dreams, but to him, it isn’t a sacrifice.  He always believed in us… always.
  5. Keep the Faith.  There have been plenty of times that my dad could have given up on God, there are times when we struggled as family (for example, Melanie from age 13 – 23 was a royal pain in the backside.) But my dad has this quiet, deep faith.  He doesn’t “pound the pulpit”, but he lives his faith everyday.  He is grounded in his love of God and his belief in God’s love for him.

I feel like in a lot of ways, I am like my dad.  Sometimes, I have difficulty in showing my emotions, sometimes I am a *bit* intense, I am always curious and learning.  I am so proud to be the daughter of James Wade.  He is a great dad, grandfather, friend and role model.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.  I love you so!

Daddy

 

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It’s A Blur

community, Emotions, Family, Love, Mother

The past 7 days have been a blur.  Really.  Last Friday night, we came home from a fun night out and found my 21-year old son had fallen down some stairs at home while we were out and had seriously injured himself. Paramedics, Police, Fire, Emergency Room — how close to dead was he? how did he fall? was he drinking or doing drugs? how long was he unconscious? is he brain injured? So many things flying through my brain.  From the ER to ICU to OR to ICU to surgical ward to home.

 

He is ok. He has a long recovery ahead of him.  He has a broken knee, elbow, wrist.  He has already recovered from a concussion, lacerated spleen and many bumps and bruises.  As a parent, there is absolutely nothing worse than seeing your child suffer. But I know it could have been so much worse.

My husband was there with us, Ben was there, Jeremy’s dad was there and his step-mother, my parents were there.  Friends have reached out to help, his friends, our friends.  The prayers have been lifted up for all of us and I am so grateful.

The past week I have not slept much, I’ve been anxious and scared.  I have helped Jeremy do everything from eat to move around the house to clean up his body.  But, I am less exhausted today.  I ate a little more today and worried a little less.

I know that everyone has something that they are struggling with.  I have family and friends who are fighting the cancer demon, I have friends who have lost jobs — including my own team members.  I have friends who live with chronic pain or crippling depression.  We all are carrying a burden of some sort.

Sometimes, it feels like this world is going insane and that people don’t care about each other or that there is some great polarizing experience, but truth is, there is so much more that brings us together than separates us.  There is always someone who lifts us up and cares.  I have felt it this past week.

Although the week has been a blur and I am looking forward to a good night of sleep tonight, I feel secure in the arms of my family and friends (and my dogs).  I feel loved by my God and and know that this trial will pass and that we will learn and grow from the experience.

For all who have prayed and sent positive thoughts into the universe over the past week, Thank you.  You made a difference.

Things I learned from my Mom

Family, Love, Mother

 

My blog has been dormant for a couple of years… again.  But I have (again) decided that I need to write and what better day to get back into it than Mother’s Day.

I read a really cynical post on Facebook by Ann Lamott, and I thought “How truly, truly sad that she didn’t have someone like my Mom.”

It made me want to counter her thoughts with my own about Mother’s Day.  I am a Mother, I have a Mother… neither one of us is perfect and we make mistakes, but I am truly blessed to have the Mother I do and for all of the things she has taught me.  And I do understand that Mother’s Day is an “invented” holiday and that not everyone is as fortunate as I to have a great Mom, but it is a day that I am choosing to stop and reflect on the things that my Mom has taught me.

So here are some of the most important things I have learned from my Mom.

  • People Matter – There is nothing more important than valuing others and trying to make life a little better for others. My Mom spent her entire career trying to make life better for other people, beginning as a speech therapist in the 1960’s and ending as an advocate for senior housing, she helped countless people to have a better life. She worked as a Housing Specialist for disabled people, helping them to adapt their homes to be able to live independently; She ran two fair housing centers, fighting for all to have the right to a home regardless of their race or gender or other situations; She developed housing standards for homes designed for people to age in place – even building a home of her own with the same standards.  All of this was because she believes with all her heart that every person matters and should be able to live the best possible life they can.  I carry this compassion with me through all that I do.  I remember that it is important to know that each and every person has a story and their story matters.
  • It’s OK to Cry – whether your heart is breaking, or your heart is overflowing with joy, it’s OK to cry. My Mom cries.  She’s probably crying right now as she reads this.  But what that means is that her heart is big and she cares deeply.  She is not afraid to cry.  (Actually, I don’t think she knows how to not cry…)  She allows herself to be vulnerable and to let show what she is feeling.  I’m still working on this one.  I don’t cry much.  I feel it, but sometimes I am afraid to let go, I am still learning.  My Mom is still teaching.
  • Persevere – Period. My Mom was 20 years old when I was born, she was a senior in college.  She and dad had been married a year and half when I arrived, a somewhat unexpected bundle of joy.  She graduated from College and went on to support my Dad through Grad School and then earned her own Master’s Degree. We moved from Texas to Iowa when I was five, so my dad could get his PhD.  She was 25 years old.  For some reason, people in Iowa didn’t want a speech therapist who had a Texas accent and she couldn’t work in her field, so she did what she could and babysat the neighborhood kids and was a great Mom.  They scraped together food for us and we never knew how hard it was to make ends meet on a student stipend.  This is the first of example of perseverance my Mom taught me.  I could write many, many pages on all the ways that my Mom has shown me perseverance. I am strong because my Mom is strong.
  • Faith will Carry you Through – My parents are very strong Christians. They have had times of trial, they have had heartbreak, they have watched my sister and I struggle in life and their faith has been central to our ability to persevere.  They have prayed for us and those around them.  I went back and read my older blog entries and realized how often I mention Faith and understand now that the grounding and demonstration of belief that my parents have demonstrated in their lives has profoundly impacted me.
  • Have Fun – My Mom is funny, she is a great cook, she loves to talk and tell stories, she loves to laugh, she loves to entertain. I remember, as a little kid in Iowa, Mom and Dad would have dinner parties and there would be so much laughter and joy in our house.  We may not have had much money, but we absolutely had fun.  I am funny, I am a great cook, I love to talk and laugh, I love to entertain – all of this I learned from my Mom.

There are so many ways that my Mom has impacted me.  I sometimes catch myself saying something and I think “Oh Lord, I sound just like my Mom!” like that’s a bad thing… but then I think, if I sound like my Mom I am good because my Mom is awesome, and I hope I can be half the woman, Mother and Grandmother she is.

So, on this Mother’s Day, think about your Mom, really think about your Mom.  If she is still with you or not, if she made mistakes or not, if she was present or not – she gave you something that no one else could.  No Mom is perfect, but it is important to take time and reflect on what has made us the people we are today and how our Moms shaped us.  I am truly, truly blessed to have Charlotte Wade as my Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

mom collage

 

Out with the Old, In with the New

Beginnings, change, Happiness

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”
T.S. Eliot

It’s the end of the year, it’s the beginning of the year.

I have never really understood the statement “Out with the Old, In with the New”.  Life is a continuum, an ongoing metamorphosis.  There are no clear lines between old and new.  A date in only a symbolic ending and beginning.  It is not real.

As I reflect on the past 3 years of dramatic change in my life, I realize this even more.  I cannot commit to a beginning and end of something related to a date on a calendar.  Idealistically, I would love to say, “it’s a new year, therefore I will lose weight, build stronger relationships, start over,” but the old year stays with me.  The old is not bad, the old is good.  The old is lessons learned, people met, old loves lost and new loves awakened. The old is music heard, books read, mountains climbed. The new remains unknown, but anticipated.

Without fear, with joy, I am ready to build on the end to find the beginning.

Wherefore Art Thou, Inspiration?

Art, creativity

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing.  Really writing, not just blog writing… which is really writing, but it’s not…if you know what I mean…

I want to write a short story or a novel or something like that.  I looked into a creative writing program at Emory, just to get me started and you have to have a portfolio of things you have written to get into the program…Which seems kind of counter intuitive, since you’re supposed to be learning to write.  But OK.  So I thought perhaps I could include this poem that I wrote somewhere around 1988.

Ode to Toes

My Mom tells me her woes

Of her oh so broken toes.

Sometimes a chair

Gives her a scare.

Sometimes the doorframe

Is to blame.

She may seem like a twit,

But she’s really having a fit.

“Oh, Oh” she cries, “the pain,

Its making me insane.”

She cries an awful lot

And her clumsiness makes her hot.

But someday her toes will heal

And she’ll say, “What a good deal.”

An original piece of creative artwork by:  Melanie

I am fairly certain that this could lead to my writing stardom, right?
Creative inspiration…where does it come from?   
I know I have many creative friends out there…song writers, comedians, musicians, writers, artists…what inspires you?  Your mom’s broken toes??

Sweet Muse

Love
Sweet Muse 

Savoring the silence

knowing it’s just for now;

Tomorrow the world finds it’s way back

Inside my head.

Right now it’s me and you and

kisses sweet and salty

The breeze singing though our every movement

Telling each other of the dreams and music

That fill our souls

with a night of inspiration.

Moonlight dancing across your silver hair

And shining in your eyes.

Making the years fall away

So I see the boy you once were.

Finding you here in my heart and

Pulling you into my future

Wishing for forever and knowing

it’s but a moment.

Carry your own damn backpack

Friendship, Happiness

I’ve read a lot of online dating profiles, and I mean a lot.  There are some common themes I am noticing…

  • Men like to post pictures of themselves with really big fish.  Why? Do they think this is attractive to women?  Are they compensating for something?  I find it odd.
  • Every man in Georgia believes they are the last of a dying breed — the southern gentleman.  If they are dying why are there so many of them?
  • Every man’s children are the center of their universe…second only to football, hunting and camping
  • They, there, their.  You, your, you’re.  Why is it so hard?
  • Most middle aged men should stop taking shirtless bathroom selfies…it doesn’t help their cause. (With the exception of those triathletes or cross fit junkies…they should for sure keep posting…wow!)

The other theme I have noticed is that men don’t want drama and/or baggage.  I get the drama thing…the last thing I’d want is some insecure chick begging for attention.  But the baggage I find baffling.  We are in our late 40s, mostly divorced or widowed…if we didn’t have baggage we wouldn’t be here.  Everyone has baggage.  Right? 

The key is the size of the baggage and what you do with it.

Are you dragging around a trunk? Do you pull a 27″ wheelie case with you? An overhead storage size bag? Or a backpack?

My philosophy is that I don’t want someone who doesn’t have baggage, they would be boring… Baggage is what makes us who we are, it forms us.  It is where we store the things we have learned and the things that have caused us pain, the things that make us happy.  Not having baggage would be like going hiking without taking a backpack with the supplies you need– water, food, sleeping bag, fork, compass, mascara, you know, the most important things… But you only take things out of the backpack when you need them…and you don’t ask someone else to carry your backpack.  It’s yours.  Sometimes you might get tired of carrying your backpack and put it down, or if you’re with a really nice person, maybe they will carry it for you for a few steps.  But it’s yours, and yours alone, to carry. Maybe there are something’s  you can leave behind to make the load a little lighter, but all-in-all it contains the things you need to keep moving in life…

One of the challenges many of us have is that we want to carry everyone else’s backpacks…but truth is you can’t carry someone else’s backpack for long.  It wears you down and it makes your own backpack heavier. And I think that is what people mean when they say they don’t want baggage.  They really just want you to carry your own damn backpack.

Imperfectly, perfectly me

Uncategorized

I remember one summer when I was younger and still filled with the awe and energy of life without much sadness or stress or pain, I went to the beach with some sisters and Ed.  It was one of several trips that I will always, always remember.  My kids were little and we rented a house in Duck, NC.  We ate and drank and spent all day at the beach.  We had sunset happy hour, went skinny dipping in the ocean and lived a week of happiness and abandon.  We walked on the beach in the moonlight with the ghost crabs, we ran into the ocean not caring what anyone thought.  In my mind it is truly one of the happiest times I can remember as an adult.

Somewhere along the path of life, I lost the ability to be joyful to let go and just be in the moment.  I am pretty sure this happens to many adults.  We get saddled down with the cares of life, concerns of children, finances, relationships, and work and we forget what it means to really let go.  To really not give a shit what happens tomorrow or what anyone thinks about us.  We find ourselves mired down and unable to be free.

I have realized over the past two years that I have been carrying big burdens. And as I have been looking for someone to share the rest of life’s journey with me, I have been looking for someone to help me carry the burdens — Carrying these burdens together as we grow old.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to spend some time with two separate people who opened my eyes to something and it is an amazing revelation.  My friend, therapist Cheryl has been helping me work through some things I have come to believe about myself and my future and believe me, you don’t want to know the gory details.  But she said something that really resonated with me this weekend.  She reminded me that I don’t have to worry about having someone who I can build a family with or who can take care OF me financially or otherwise, but rather that I should look for someone who wants to care FOR me.  There is an important difference.  She also told me that I can let my burdens go — or at least lessen their grip on my heart and mind. I don’t have to be perfect, I can just be perfectly me.

I also spent a good part of the weekend with a new friend, Rex.  Friday night we sat by the firepit at his house and talked, and then when the blue moon came out around midnight, we laid on his driveway and watched it overhead for a long time, thinking about what an amazing thing it is just to lay on the driveway and look at the moon.  Sunday, I spent the day with Rex and some new friends on a great boat on Lake Lanier.  It was a gorgeous day, we ate, we drank, we swam, we sat on the beach, Rex was super goofy and laughing, he danced on the beach at Sunset Cove, not caring what anyone thought. Later he asked me why I didn’t come dance with him.  My answer was “I was too sunburned”  REALLY? That’s a terrible answer/reason.  The truth is, I was scared.  As Rex and I were leaving he pulled me out of the car, we were the only ones in the grassy parking lot.  He turned up the radio to the really loud setting and with some crazy awesome French music, we danced in the parking lot. It was silly and fun and we laughed and I remembered for a moment that time before…the time before all these cares were on my shoulders and I realized something really, really important.  I can let go of those things and allow myself to live.  To really feel, to not worry what anyone thinks, to give myself permission to be imperfectly me.

What I have decided is that I don’t want someone to carry the burdens with me, I have decided that I want to put down the burdens, I want to feel joy and peace and have someone to have fun with for the rest of my life.  Someone to laugh with and find pleasure in the small things, remembering that really those are the things that make you the most happy.

I’ve always liked the idea of a purple heart — symbolizing that we have all been “wounded” in the action of life.  We can chose to carry on with the burdens, or we can lay them down and remember what it means to live and love.

30 years!!! 30 years??? How can that possibly be?

college, Friendship, Happiness, Laughter, Time

I drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on a beautiful sunny day in August 1985 to begin one of the biggest adventures of my life.  I was a freshman at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.  I had grown up my entire life around large Universities and spent the majority of my life in the desert.  This school was the complete opposite of everything I knew. It was in a tiny town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, surrounded by corn fields and situated on the Chester River, a tributary off the Chesapeake Bay.  It was founded in 1783 and was the first school to which George Washington gave his name.  There were just over 800 students and had an amazing sense of community.

George

Picture Courtesy: Debbie McMeniman ’88

Last Friday, I again drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on a beautiful sunny day to attend my 26th college reunion.  Although things have changed a little here and there, I remember every curve of the road, I remember where the cops sit, it is as if time had stood still.

But even more amazing was the opportunity to reconnect with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in long years.  The years melted away and we were kids again.  Dancing, drinking, singing, remembering fun times, walking through the time that had passed as if it were simply air… When you attend a school as special as Washington College, the connections are strong and real.

What is unbelievable to me is that it has been 30 years since I made that first drive to Chestertown.  I am in awe of how fast time has gone by and I started looking for a poem about time and I came across this one… Reverend Joseph H. Clinch not a poet that you may know…but ironically, this poem was first shared with the alumni of Washington College on 4 August 1841…  I am just sharing a couple of stanzas that really captured what I was thinking.

VIII.
On hastes Time’s current, with perpetual sweep,
Spurning all interruption:—Strength may fling
His rocky barriers in its torrent deep-
Pleasure’s bright flowers and rank weeds clustering
May seek to check its progress. Fame may bring
Her garlands to its eddies, and essay
To plant them in the waters, till they spring
Into far spreading palms—and Wealth may lay
Broad dams of golden sand, its onward courst to stay.

IX.
All, all in vain:—in’foamy letters traced
Jjobitur el labeter tells its tale,
And man, borne downward by its ceaseless haste,
May e’en outrun the current, for the gale
Aids the descending voyager—but to sail
Upward against the tide to none h given ;-
The strongest anchor in the stream is frail,
And none may pause—all, all are onward driven—
Happy, whose compass points unremittingly to Heaven.

This weekend reminded me of one of the happiest times of my life with some of the best people I have or will ever know.  It also reminded me time is precious and friends are true treasures and I commit to never letting so many years go by without reconnecting with the friends of my heart.

river

Am I Wrong?

Career, Emotions

Am I tripping
For having a vision?
My prediction
I’ma be on the top of the world
Walk your walk and don’t look back,
Always do what you decide
Don’t let them control your life, that’s just how I feel oh whoa
Fight for yours and don’t let go,
Don’t let them compare you, no
Don’t worry, you’re not alone, that’s just how we feel

I’ve been thinking a lot about being half way through my life.  What have I done?  How have I made a difference?  What do I have left to do?

I’ve spent the past 26 years working for companies — mostly large, really large, publicly traded companies. I’ve helped those companies to better understand their markets, competitors and customers.  I’ve helped the shareholders to become wealthier — maybe some of that trickled down to my retirement portfolio. (maybe?)  If I try to tie back my work to a higher purpose, I guess I could say I’ve helped consumers and small business to get access to credit that helps them enrich their lives and drive economic growth or I’ve helped to create more time in the life of a mother with an easier to clean oven.  Really reaching here…I need to have meaning.

But I have a vision for the rest of my life that is different.  I may continue to work for “the man” for a while longer, but in that time, I am going to focus on making a difference to the people I work with and our customers.  I am going to focus on the higher purpose and when the time is right, I am going to quit. I am going to walk away and do what my heart desires and stop doing what I think I should do, I am going to do what I MUST do.

Lyrics from Am I Wrong?

Songwriters
DERY, VINCENT / SEREBA, NICOLAY / LARSEN, WILLIAM WIIK / JALLOW, ABDOULIE

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC, SHAPIRO BERNSTEIN & CO. INC.

Read more: Am I Wrong Lyrics – Nico & Vinz | MetroLyrics