Tag Archives: inspiration

She Would Be 62…

Today is my mom’s birthday.  I wrote that sentence and immediately questioned my grammar.  My mom passed away eight years, eight months, and twenty-five days ago.  Today would be my mom’s birthday…if she were still here.  I did have to pause and count the years, months, and days.  I do not sit around keeping track of that on a daily basis.  From time to time, though, it is good to sit for a minute and count.  To remember…

Some days it seems longer than that; other days, it seems like just yesterday that I sat next to her bedside after she had taken her last breath.

Some people live life as if tomorrow may never come.  They throw all caution to the wind, and they live.  Before my mom’s cancer diagnosis (which came six months prior to her death), she already lived that way. There was always a new project, a new class, and a new friend.  After she died, I spent years cleaning out her belongings because there was simply so much to go through – halfway finished cross-stitching, crates of projects, and books…so many books.

When my mom died, she had come to terms with it.  She did not feel punished by it necessarily, and she did not exactly welcome it (although by the time it came, she had so much pain from the cancer that it was likely a relief).  But she had accepted it.  She had a strong faith that Jesus and had died for her sins and that she would go to heaven to celebrate life with Him.

Every once in a while, I ask myself if I have come to terms with her death and if I have accepted it.  I have that same faith; I believe very strongly that she will be in the presence of her Lord.  Having that certainty is comforting – no doubt – and I do not doubt God’s goodness just because she is no longer with us.  I do not understand why she had to die at such a young age, but I understand that we all do die.  I am not sure any of us die at the time when our loved ones think it is the right time.  I also do not think that a “right” time for my mom to die could have ever come.

Life does not stop just because someone passes away, but I think our current society does not know how to mourn well.  To a certain extent, I would like to adopt some of the Jewish customs of mourning.  I particularly would have appreciated the shiva time – the one week of mourning following the burial of the deceased.  During this time, extended family members and friends visit the home of the deceased where the first degree relatives gather for the week.  One of the most compelling parts (to me) of the shiva tradition is that those close family members of the deceased are not the one who entertain the visitors nor are they obligated to greet or talk to the visitors.

Those who visit do so to care by being present with those who mourn.

Ministering through presence to those who grieve also seems to be a lost art.  I do not do it well.  I want to speak words of encouragement or share from my own experience. I need to learn to shut up and sit down next to those in mourning and just be quiet with them or to listen…but mostly, I just need to allow them to be what they need to be.  Mourning has its own face in each of us, and we need to learn to allow those faces their places in our society.

Other parts of Jewish tradition concerning the death of parents that I feel particularly drawn to include those that commemorate the parent’s death each year in a special way – with a lighting of a candle or with fasting.  The concept of fasting on a parent’s “death day” makes me think of a way to empty myself once again, to remember deeply, and to then break the fast the next day and celebrate that life is still here and must be lived.  Pausing to remember is good.  Having time set aside to do this allows us to give mourning a place, to recognize it, and then to move away from it and continue to live.

In giving death its due recognition as something that happens, as something that causes pain to those who remain, and as something that we all will experience, we can learn to live.  Today may very well be our last – not because we have cancer diagnosis but because death can surprise us in any way.  Knowing that, recognizing that, and accepting that should free us to live.

What are you living for today? 

What life-changing, soul-inspiring, and breath-taking moment awaits you?

Even if she is not here, it is my mom’s birthday, and she would want us all to celebrate…

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Feeling Uninspired

My blog usually posts a new entry daily at 5:30 a.m.  I tend to write my posts –  at the latest – on the night before I post them if not days in advance.  It is not unusual for me to have a couple of posts in the works or scheduled a day or two in advance.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, this blog is one of the coping mechanisms that I have in place to deal with the manic side of my bipolar nature.  When my mind races, I blog. It helps me to focus my thoughts on a single subject, or it allows me to tangent in the many different directions that my thoughts race.

However, the blog also can be a coping mechanism for the down sides of my bipolar nature.  That is today.  It is hard to tell what is actually in play in days like today.  I drove home to Minneapolis from Grand Forks, ND, last night as there was some “weather” predicted.  I wanted to avoid that.  However, that meant that I did not fall asleep until after 2:30 a.m.  Perhaps I am just tired?

But I have been feeling the swing downward after a few months of an up swing.  I guess we will have to see how things sort out as the day and week goes on before I decide if this is circumstance or biology. 

Whether from the bipolar part of me or not getting enough sleep, I am completely uninspired today.

The horrible thing is that I have much to to be inspired by right now.

On Saturday, I spent the day as a judge at a high school speech meet where the boy and the girl competed.  They are awesome!  The boy recently returned to in person (vs online) high school in part so that he and his sister could compete in the duo category of speech. They rocked! They took first place!  They each also placed in their individual categories with only a week’s preparation.  This is inspiring!

Even the students whom I judged and who struggled with their performances are inspiring.  To stand up in front of a group of eight peers and be judged by an adult (who – if it is me is a former English teacher and VERY critical!) for a minimum of three rounds is simply amazing.  Even those who do not win are winners just for trying.  I do not believe that everyone should get a medal for trying, but they all earn my respect.  And they inspire me!

Inspiration continued on Sunday when the kids and I joined several family members to celebrate the 88th birthday of my maternal grandmother.  Living that long should bring about inspiration alone, but then taking a look at her life adds even more inspiration.

framBecause her brothers went off to war when she was young, my grandmother left school at 8th grade and worked alongside her father on the family farm.  She can dance, yodel, and tell it to you straight.  She is the one who told me when I was pregnant with my first child only weeks after conceiving. She provided emotional support to my mother during a difficult marriage – encouraging moving across the ocean to try to save her marriage.  And then, when the marriage crumbled, she allowed my mother, my brother, and myself to move in with her while we got our feet under us.

My grandmother became a widow around age 50, but that did not stop her from getting the most of life.  She still works six days a week, goes to play Bingo with her friends, and remembers every family members’ birthday with a card and a “little something.”  When I was in college, she sent me a letter with two dollars in it every week.  She used to bake up a storm as many friend and relatives can attest to (ask them about how much weight they gained on a visit to her home!).    My grandmother attends church at least once a week, and she serves as a greeter for the church.  At 88, she often seems to have more energy than I do.  She is an inspiration to me and to many others!

In the process of writing this post, I have realized that lacking inspiration is truly a flaw of my own introspection.  Once I looked outside myself – even just to my own family members, I found that inspiration is easy to find.  Imagine if I would have looked to my work place, my friends, or my extended family.   After that, I can look to the rest of the nation, the world, and even history!

The next time I feel uninspired, I will sit down to write a blog post and consider who inspires me in that moment.  Rather than wallow in my own feelings of inadequacy, selfishness, and pride, I just need to look outside of myself and realize that inspiration is not hard to find.

Once I see the inspiration around me, I then need to consider how I too can be an inspiration to others.  This is not because I want people to say, “Wow – Stacy really inspired me!”  Rather, I am called – because of my faith – to be an encouragement to others to do inspirational acts.  Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

I am thankful to my children and to my grandmother that, when I am feeling completely uninspired because of circumstance or biology, I can look to them as an example of love and good deeds.  May we all find inspiration in one another.  And may we all provide encouragement to others toward love and good deeds.

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Giving Back

Today, I would like to share a link to an article about my sixth grader teacher, Bonnie Cameron.  Bonnie and I have stayed in touch over the years, and I am happy to call her friend.  She has inspired, supported, and challenged me for 26 years.

 

Click here to read the article found on the Grand Forks Herald website on December 23.

Have you had a teacher who has stayed in touch with you over the years?  What have the benefits of that been for you in your life?  Are there teachers you wish had stayed in contact with you over the years?  How have they inspired you?

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