“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”
I wrote last about my Epiphany last September. It was a great epiphany. I was elated, excited, exhilarated. I was as free as I’ve ever been. I had plans or I was going to make BIG plans for myself. Well…… over the last seven months I’ve learned a few things about freedom. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.” And a mortgage and a motorcycle. I didn’t get to quit my job, buy a motorcycle and start touring the U.S., taking odd jobs in diners to pay my way on the journey. However, I did make some decisions and choices about my life and my future and am still in the process of trying more new things and making new choices. I’ve learned that I need to be responsible about how I use my new found freedom and how it effects not only my life, but others as well. I need to be accountable…..albeit, with some wild and crazy moments thrown into the mix. No matter how much freedom I have, I’m still accountable for my actions. I’m still a Mother and a Grammy. I’m still part of a much greater whole than just myself. No matter how free I am, I need to continue to contribute to that greater whole, my family, my community, etc. It’s not and never will be “All About Me.” Story At Christmas I had the opportunity to visit with my nieces and nephews because they were all in town for the holidays. Two nieces, four nephews and their families. Caveat I have two older brothers. One brother and his wife live out of state and he has four children and a number of grandchildren. My oldest brother died nine years ago and left behind six children. His first wife, and mother of these children, died in 1989. The nieces and nephews I’m referring to in this story are their six children. Back to the story During my visit with my nieces and nephews I was able to surprise them with a check to each of them from the sale of my mother’s house. It was so amazing to see and feel how much they loved and appreciated my mother. (There’s a story behind that as well.) More important than being able to surprise them with money was the promise I was able to make to them. I promised them I would build a house big enough that we would be able to gather as an entire family, like we used to do at Grandma’s, for the holidays. We haven’t really been able to do that the last couple of years. So, silly me, I made that promise to them. Family traditions are important to me and it seems I’m now the one to keep them going. And I will, happily. I tell this story because there are a lot of things I could be doing with my new found freedom and free time. I am trying and doing new and fun things for myself, but not at the expense of the people and things I am responsible and accountable for. At the end of the day, what is most important to me are the people I love and the people who make my life better on a daily basis. And at the end of the day I need to be able to look in the mirror and ask myself, “Did I do the right thing today? Did I make a difference? Did I make someone’s burden a little lighter in some small way?” and be able to answer, yes, yes and yes. That’s my freedom. The house is in progress and should be finished end of June-ish. The mortgage that I didn’t have in September is now looming. The motorcycle. I’ve always wanted a motorcycle. Not one to ride around town – one to take out and cruise on the open road. I was ready to buy one, money in hand. Well…..before I even went out to look at one, my daughter beat me to it and bought one. A shiny red one. I guess I’ll just borrow hers when I want to go for a ride. Yes, I’m as free as I’ve ever been, but with freedom comes responsibility. At this point in my life I am free to choose where and when and to whom I give my time, attention and service. I have the freedom to choose my NEW responsibilities.
I was taking my evening walk in the cemetery which is next to the townhouse complex I’m living in right now. I’m not sure what had been going on that day at work, but I know what happened that evening was the culmination of so many things that had happened over the past month and years.
The day before that, I had attended the funeral of my friend’s mother. The month before that, on Tuesday 19 August 2014 at 2:40 p.m., my own mother had passed away. I know the exact time because I was ten minutes away from her when the nurse called to tell me she had died. I had been her caretaker or had been with her on a daily basis the past two and a half years.
There’s much more to the back story, and more will be shared.
After my mother died I didn’t know what to do with myself, especially after work. My daily routine was to drive to the assisted living center where she was living to have dinner with her. After dinner we would watch a little T.V., do whatever needed to be done for mom, and then I would go home. Every day there was something to do for her; errands, iron her blouses, make her a treat, do her bills, laundry, etc.
My mom was gone, my bearings were way off balance, our daily routine was disrupted. Many days after work I would find myself driving, driving and driving with nowhere to go. I was devastated. I missed my mom so much.
I’m sure September 23rd had been one of those driving aimlessly days.
I was feeling sad, confused and frustrated. I felt like I was in a fog most of the time. As the Executor of mom’s estate, there were still so many things to take care of. I missed my mother so much. Grieving was hard for me. As I was taking my walk, pondering and wondering and asking God how and what I needed to do to get my bearings back, and adjust to this life altering event…..I had an Epiphany.
It is now April and I’m still coming to terms with and trying to figure out how to make my Epiphany manifest.
My Epiphany was this:
I’m as free as I’ve ever been at this moment of my life. I’m as free as I’ve ever been. What am I going to do with that freedom?
Why do I say I’m free?
I have nowhere I need or have to be…..work being the exception. I have no one I need to take care of. My children are grown and living on their own. I have no one I need to schedule my time for or around. I don’t have a mortgage because I sold my house to move closer to my mother. I don’t have to compromise with anyone. I don’t have to cook if I don’t want to. Yahoo! I can say no. I can say yes. I can run around the house in my skivvies. I have the opportunity, right now, to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have a little money saved. I have more time to REALLY take care of myself. And so on……
I actually became very exhilarated – not because I was happy my mother was gone – but because it was a sensation I had never felt before. It was an Epiphany, a light bulb, a “what the hell” moment. It was a Grace moment. A moment when I realized my life would never be the same and was and am the only one who will decide my story.
The Epiphany was and is Daunting! The questions I have been asking myself are as such:
What do I want my life to look like? What things do I not want or need in my life? What and who are important, or who and on what do I want to spend my time? What do I really love to do? What things did I used to love to do? Should I revisit those things? Now that I have time to really take care of myself – how do I want to do that? How do I make my life my own? How do I give back on my own terms?
It’s now April, April 15th in fact….tax day. I mention tax day because my responsibilities as Executor are, for the most part, finished now that the final taxes have been done.
Now perhaps I can really start manifesting this Epiphany. To be continued……..
I have three daughters. A couple of years ago my oldest daughter made a comment about not knowing a lot about me as a person, only as a mom. That comment really struck me. I’m not one to talk much about subjects that are very private and that I keep very close to my heart. But if anyone should know how I feel and what I believe about the things that are close to my heart and sacred to me, it should be my children. These are the beliefs that define who I am….. and my children should know who I am, what I believe, what I value, what things are most important to me and what I hold close to my heart.
So I started writing vignettes to them on different subjects, trying to help them see and understand me as a person, not just a mom. I know as they have read some of the vignettes they have been a little surprised and yet appreciative that they have learned something they didn’t know about their mom while at the same time thinking, “Oh, that explains a lot about mom and some of the things she does.”
Today is Easter and I am sharing Vignette #2 with you. God, Prayer and Faith are very important to me. My feelings and beliefs about these subjects are not visible to people. My personal practice of Prayer, Faith and relationship with God is not visible, it’s personal and private. But today I’m sharing.
These are my personal thoughts on God, Prayer and Faith.
Vignette #2 God, Prayer and Faith
There’s nothing more important than believing God loves every one of us, being humble enough to pray to him and having faith that he will listen and guide you when you most need it.
I pray every day, many times a day. I pray to thank God for all of the blessings I have. For all of the opportunities I have had. For all of the experiences that have made me a stronger person. I thank Him daily for my beautiful daughters and precious grandson. I ask Him daily to keep my family safe. I pray for guidance and strength. I ask Him if I’m making the right choices, or should I go in a different direction. I pray for forgiveness. Sometimes I pray just to get through the day. I pray in secret and I pray out loud. When I feel the least deserving of His Grace, when my heart is breaking, is when I pray the most, longest and hardest. I know God is always there no matter what!
I only hope you can know this as well. When you need help and guidance, when you don’t know what do, which way to turn, when your heart is breaking, when you need the answer, or confirmation that you are doing the right thing… please pray. Humble yourself, fall to your knees and pour out your heart and soul to God. Say it out loud, cry out loud. He will embrace you with unconditional love. He will comfort you even in your darkest hour and he will show you the way out. He knows what’s in your heart. He knows who you are. You are his child. He knows what you need.
Thank you for letting me share these thoughts, that began as vignettes to my daughters, with you.
“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Who Would Have Thought It?”
Who are the Black Sheep? I feel like I need to have a huge diagram so you can actually see the intertwinings of the years and friendships of the “Black Sheep.” It isn’t just a timeline…….it’s meeting each otheronceand meeting each other again years later and putting all of the piecesand peopleof the puzzle together, and having that “Grace” moment. That moment when you realize that this was all meant to be. The realization that we are exactly where we are supposed to be at this moment.
To see the whole picture we have to travel back in time to 7th grade. And the saga begins. Separately I met Sherrie and Suzie after my 7th grade year. I met Suzie in a sewing class we took together and I met Sherrie at summer camp. Suzie and I didn’t become friends at that time but Sherrie and I did. Sherrie and I went to different junior high schools but would attend the same high school. What I didn’t know at the time was that Suzie was going to the same junior high with Sherrie, and they were friends. Suzie moved before we all went to high school. Sherrie and I have been friends ever since. Fast forward to high school graduation, never mind the year. Sherrie decided to travel out of state for work and I decided to go to college. Without my best friend, I was off to a small junior college.
The day I moved into my college apartment I met some girls who would become my friends for life. Michelle was the first one I met and we decided to be roommates. One apartment, 3 bedrooms, six girls. (Drama? Never!) The next two girls to move in that day were Cheryl and……you guessed it……Suzie. Cheryl and Suzie had gone to high school together. I recognized Suzie’s name and together we reminisced about “the sewing class.” The next time I talked (which back then was by phone, the kind with a cord attached to the wall, or letter) to Sherrie I told her about my new roommates and we figured out that Sherrie and Suzie had known each other in junior high.
Is everyone lost yet?
We were young, we came from similar backgrounds and family situations, or so we thought. We had many, many memorable experiences while at junior college, some of which I might (will) have to share at a later date. After junior college we started to go our separate ways. Cheryl, Suzie and Bonnie, another of their friends from high school, become roommates back home. Sherrie and I met Bonnie through Cheryl and Suzie. I continued on to the University, Michelle went back home and started a new job and Sherrie was still out of state. Eventually, over the years, we all got married. Some of us moved out of state. Some of us got divorced, some of us married again, some of us have stayed single and some of us have been married to the same person forever. And many kudos to them!!! Over the years, twenty plus, we kept in touch with Christmas cards, Birthday cards, and the occasional dinner when some of us happened to be in town at the same time. We kept in touch but didn’t really know everything that was going on in each other’s lives. We all have those friends and relatives in our lives, don’t we? We keep in touch just enough. By 2007 we had all moved back to the same valley. The winter of 2007 we all met for dinner. During that dinner, which lasted until the restaurant closed, we talked, we shared our life experiences, we laughed hysterically and at times we were even speechless. We learned a lot about each other and it was only the tip of the iceberg. All of our lives had taken such different paths and directions. Our experiences were very, very diverse and it seemed that none of our lives had gone in the direction we thought they would or dreamed they would back when we were 18 and clueless. We all left the restaurant that night with the same thought:
“Who Would Have Thought?” or as I like to say, “Who’da Thunk It?”
Who would have thought we would have the experiences we had had and evolve into the women we were and are today. We thought we were so similar, but we weren’t, and we aren’t. We are unique, each one of us,and we Celebrate that every chance we get. And that is the Beauty of the “Black Sheep.” Since 2007 we have been regulars at that same restaurant, and we have added a few more sheep to our flock. Tricia is the wife of a brother of one of our exes. Obviously, she’s family. Debis a new neighbor of Suzie’sand the first time Suzie met her she thought, “Oh, there you are, let’s catch up”as if they had known each other already somehow.What we know for sure is that we are the “Black Sheep” in all the best ways. We are not who we expected we would be. We are striving daily to be who we are meant to be. We seek to be true, loyal, creative, generous, unique, fierce…………and the list grows daily.
It took a few dinners and a lot of conversation, but we remember clearly that during one of those first Friday evenings, we collectively had a life changing “Grace” moment. A “Grace” moment is a time stopping moment when the random and divergent come together to make sense and bring understanding. This was atime stopping moment when we all knew that we had come back together for a purpose. We realized there was a purpose for the intertwinings and weaving together of our lives here and there over the years. We didn’t know exactly why yet, but we would soon learn why in a Big way. What we did know, was, we were exactly where we were supposed to be at that moment.
The evolution of the “Black Sheep” has been happening over the last eight years and we are still evolving ad becoming.
This is a very short history of how we came to be the “Black Sheep.” There is so much yet to tell and share and explore. We hope you will continue with us on our journey.