Parent

Wednesday Thoughtfulness

photo by Casey Keal

photo by Casey Keal

“Learn the wisdom of compromise,  for it’s better to bend a little than to break.” – Jane Wells

 

As children get older and go on their way to self discovery, parents sometimes get nervous and worried about the paths they are choosing to go down.  We hope and trust that we have taught them right and that they will hold true to the principles and knowledge they’ve gained while growing up.

Yet, there is a time when each person asks the question, “who am I and why am I here?” “What’s my purpose?”  “What am I going to do with my life?”

Some figure out the answers to these questions early on and hold true to their dreams, growing and learning, constantly reaching for their goals and owning their destiny.

Others of us go through different stages of growth and self discovery, a journey that lasts a lifetime, filled with ups and downs, leaps of faith, grand mistakes and endless opportunities. 

No matter the background, whether born into a life of plenty, or growing up with a struggling single parent, we each own our own destiny.  It is our response to life, to the challenges that we face and the choices that we are given that make us who we become.  Our perspective, our ability to remain open and humble enough to admit when we are wrong so we can learn new ways to do things can make all the difference.

I’ve been a parent now for over 19 years, and I am learning as I go.  I am not perfect and don’t profess to be, and neither are my children.  Yet God put us together on this journey for a reason.  Together we will face the future, learning from each other, facing obstacles in our path and offering hope and encouragement when needed. 

Take a moment today to be thankful for the people in your life, whether friends, family or co-workers, we each have a purpose for being in the life of the other. 

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Grief as a Teacher

photo by Casey Keal

photo by Casey Keal

Grief can play with your mind and your perception of the way events happened.  The tricks of the mind can lead to feelings of regret and guilt, hurt and betrayal, and leave you with a feeling of loss that can drive you to your knees at times.

All week the residual feelings of the grief felt earlier this week have been with me.  I finally got to the point I was asking “what is it I’m supposed to see or learn here?” “What am I missing, and why am I feeling this way?”

By asking these type of questions the feeling of distress is lifted a bit so that I can see what I need see instead of lingering on thoughts of how I wish things had been.  My girls are teenagers and the oldest is getting ready to move on with her life.  She is trying to find her way, changing her mind, debating what she wants, and taking her first steps forward.

Through the other milestones with my kids, my mom has been here.  She was my voice of encouragement, my voice of reason, the person that would laugh at my worrying and say, “karma works.” 

I think of all the times I was out too late at night, talking on the phone and tying up the line (before the age of personal cell phones), trying to find my way and changing my mind, and often driving my mom crazy with my ideas and dreams.

There are days when I feel lost without mom, yet I know her words, her wisdom and her love live on in me.  I will not forget, Mom, I will remember and we will go forward.

Cherry Coley (c)

I Want My Mommy!

Today I miss my mom.  It’s not that I don’t miss her every day, but today the gaping hole in my chest where my parents used to be was hurting more. 

I had been doing so much better, I was moving forward, getting things done and looking forward to the future and SLAM, grief strikes again.  I hate that. 

Grief has a way of popping up at times and turning the world upside down when you least expect it.  It’s just the way it works unfortunately.  The name of this round of grief is called – “things I wish I’d done differently.”  The worst part of this round was not thinking of the things I would have done differently with my parents, (I went thru that part last year). 

This was about things I wish I’d done differently in other areas of my life, with my ex-husband, my kids, my school days, and all the time I wasted doing stuff that didn’t really matter or turn out the way I wanted in the end. 

My kids are growing up so fast and I still have questions, but no more answers.  There are things that they bring up and do that I don’t know how to approach, so I make suggestions and do research.  I feel inadequate at times, though I know it’s not true. 

If my mom were here she would listen to my worries and insecurities and tell me to “suck it up,” and “karma works,” then smile and even laugh at me because I put her through many of the same issues and how well I remember that. 

The things we thought were so fun as kids – like staying out too late, and talking on the phone all night, are not so funny as a parent.  Life is a circle, that’s for sure.

I am thankful for the time I had with my mom and my dad.  I’m thankful they always had my best interests at heart, even though they didn’t always understand me. 

I am thankful I have two daughters, that remind me that life goes on and sometimes you have to look back to appreciate where you came from before you can go forward. 

Cherry Coley (c)

I Don’t Feel So Merry

christmas1It’s Christmas time.  Yesterday we had snow, just a light dusting, and it was beautiful.  There is a chill in the wind today, it makes me want to stay home by the fire and drink hot cocoa

I have been looking at Christmas decorations, but they don’t seem quiet as sparkly as they used too.  I have been avoiding Christmas music for the most part.  I simply cannot listen to much of the Christmas music yet.

I am trying, but the truth is I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit much this year.  I try to remember last year, but all I can think of is that my days with my mom were running out and I didn’t know it.  Instead she and I stayed up late talking on Dec. 11th.  We were talking about  how everything was going to be different without dad, and we should try to make new Christmas  traditions. 

We had a long conversation that night about past Christmas’, about new plans, about the Bible and our beliefs, about my kids and our family.  Mom and I talked late into the night enjoying each others company.  I missed her,  I had not seen her in a week or two since Casey was working and using my car more.

Now, the song that best describes how I feel is “Where Are You Christmas?”  The answer is, I am not sure.  I think Christmas is the same, the spirit is the same, it is me that has changed.  I am still healing, still searching for answers that don’t exist and longing for conversations I will not get to finish until I see my mom and dad again someday.

This Christmas is a little better than last year, but it still hurts, aches.  Yet I know that time, faith, and hope will eventually heal the hurts, though they won’t fill the gaping hole left in my heart where my parents once lived.  I miss them. 

If you’re parents are still here, take the time to go see them.  If they need you, listen, and be there for them as they were for you.  If you have family you haven’t talked to in awhile, here’s your chance, your excuse, break the ice, heal the rift and share the love while you still can.  Christmas is about love and that is the greatest gift of all, don’t miss out on this free and wonderful gift.

Cherry Coley (c)

 

Choose Carefully!

Today I am thankful for the wide range of emotions we are blessed with.  Emotions can make our world pleasant, sad, angry, happy, content, or restless, depending on how we apply them.

 My grandmother used to tell me a story that her grandmother told her.  It is an old Cherokee Legend that has been passed down through the generations – a bit of wisdom in story form.  I smile at how well-known this story has become, but know it’s because of such a strong message presented in a simple and memorable way.  The story goes like this:

 An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

 “It is?” said the boy.

 “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego.”

The grandfather continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, comfort, humility, kindness, patience, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

 “What happens between the wolves?” the boy asked.

 “Sometimes there are great battles that rage on for a long time,” the grandfather replied. “This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

 The boy thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The grandfather replied, “The one you feed.”

I have never forgotten the message in that simple story.  It is a simple reminder that our thoughts become things.  The choice is yours – which wolf will you feed?

 Cherry Coley ©

Yay, Teachers!!

Today I am thankful for teachers.  I think most people go through a period in their life where they dream about being a teacher.  I did.  I could picture myself in a room full of children, teaching them to read, do math, history and science.  I could see the decorated bulletin boards, the slide shows, and projects that I would assign.  A few years I taught vacation bible school and helped my mom at the daycare, then reality hit and I realized I did not have the knack or the patience.

I am thankful for teachers being able to do the things I can’t.  Thank you for your patience and teaching me to read, write and even do math (though it’s still not my favorite thing to do).  Thank you for the guidance when needed.  Thank you for all the encouragement even when I am not sure I deserved it.

Teachers have the ability and daily opportunity to encourage, inspire, influence and lead.  I suppose in some fashion we all have the ability and opportunity to do those things, but teachers share their gifts with the age group of their choosing, and thereby help shape future generations as well as the present.

I have been blessed to have many memorable teachers that greatly influenced my life; their shared words of wisdom still ring in my ears even years later. 

 Thank you, Teachers, for the memories, the influence, the encouragement, the comfort when needed, the guidance and even the occasional challenge and kick in the butt to get me to try harder.  I can’t even imagine a world without teachers. 

 Cherry Coley ©

Honored and Remembered

Today I am thankful for our Veteran’s.  I am sad that there is a need for veterans, but we live in an imperfect world and I’m thankful for those willing to serve.  There are many veteran’s in our family, my uncles on both sides of the family were veteran’s serving in World War II.

My dad was a Navy man and often reflected back on his life in the Navy.  He was just a teenager when he went to war.  At the age of 14 he spent much of his time on ships, being trained and learning to survive in a time of World War.

I don’t think any of us can truly imagine what it means to live a military life unless you’ve been there and done that.  I know from the stories he told and the things he had to do that it would take far more strength both inside and out than I have experienced.

I have never felt the longing, the distance from being far away from home in a hostile place.  I have never been away from my family for an extended time, much less for months or a year.  I have never been to a place where they didn’t speak English and they hated Americans.  I have never had to remember holidays or hold on to good memories while in the battlefield.  

I have the greatest respect for the heroes that serve in the military.  They are heroes each and every one of them.  They stand in the gap and protect our freedoms that many abuse and we all take for granted in some ways.  They have that inner something that gives them a loyalty, a resolve to stand firm, a determination to see things through no matter what, and a need to protect what is ours. 

Today I am thankful for our Veterans, all of them, those that have served those that would serve and those in service.  You are AMAZING!! 

Cherry Coley ©

Just me

This week has been a week of happiness, grief and reflection.  September the 9th was my oldest daughters birthday, but September 11th was my dad’s birthday.  So often through the years they enjoyed celebrating their birthdays today with my dad joking in earlier years that he didn’t get as many toys as Casey.

I am so thankful that my children got a chance to know and spend so much time with their grandparents.  We had our issues and our family was nowhere near perfect, but my parents took active roles in the lives of their grandchildren. 

Mom made many blankets, sewed dresses, helped with costumes, school projects and many other things.  Dad tutored both kids on math on a few occasions.  Both of them transported my kids to and from school or daycare many times.  As a single parent, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it without their help. 

Mom made sure we celebrated birthday on the day each time, and didn’t just put things off until the weekend or when it was convenient.  We might gather with the rest of the family later, but we celebrated with mom and dad on the actual birthday. 

Each year when the first day of fall rolled around, mom would gather the kids and I together to take our annual trip to Burlington Coat Factory or the mall to buy winter coats and maybe some sweaters.  This was a tradition my parents started when my brother and I were small.  Dad always made sure we all went and bought coats and new shoes for winter.  It’s a small thing, but it’s a tradition we will keep this year as well.

It’s been a real trip down memory lane this week, realizing that last year on the 11th of September, I took a Boston creme cake to my dad, we bought him a new razor, socks, a few movies, a new CD and some funny cards.  He waved his hand and said, “aw, you didn’t have to do that,” while we sang happy birthday, but smiled all the while.  I have thought a lot of that moment this last week.  I am thankful we have it to remember as it was 10 days later when dad passed away. 

Traditions, no matter how big are small play an important part in each of our lives.  Take the time to celebrate when you have the chance and if at all possible keep the dates sacred.  You never know when life will interrupt your plans, treasure each and every moment, take advantage of every opportunity, and love the people in your life.

Cherry Coley (c)

Fishing In The Park

photo by Casey Keal

It’s interesting how we age in this life.  Our body’s age every day, but our souls, our minds grow according to what we put in them, what we feed them.  I am so thankful for memories and how our minds store information.

I remember being about 5-6 years old, warm spring days, and dad making us all get up really early to go fishing.  I don’t remember the park where we went; just that it was a stocked pond.  We each had a bamboo fishing pole with a bucket of worms for bait.  I hated putting the worm on the hook, I felt so bad about hooking the poor thing.  My dad would walk over and put it on for me half the time because I would take so long.

We would always park then walk over to a part of the bank of the pond with a big tree.  It was nice on those warm spring days to stand or sit under the tree by the water.  It didn’t really matter that we weren’t expert fishermen.  There were a few times we caught little trout, but we just looked at them then let them go. 

 I remember my brother taking a big swing with his fishing rod, swinging the line way out, hooking dad’s hat and sending it flying out towards the water.  Mom would stand by the bank and laugh and get a little frustrated over not actually catching any fish.

On those banks I heard stories of how mom used to fish with her sister and brother for their dinner.  Sometimes they would eat fish for breakfast too, though mostly they ate flapjacks and biscuits. 

It’s funny how sometimes those days seem so distant that they can barely be remembered, but now and then I see a large sprawling tree standing by a pond and I remember the laughter while we tried to learn to fish.

I remember the squish of the mud between my toes when I took off my shoes.  How I loved to look in the water and watch the minnows playing around the wispy grass and moss on the rocks close to the shoreline.  I even remember the smell of the water, the warm air, listening to the birds sing and feeling the sun shining down through the branches. 

I remember being tired at the end of the day, folding up the lawn chairs, putting the cooler in the back of the station wagon then crawling in the back on top of a blanket and falling asleep on the way home. 

I loved those days spent with my family.  You might think that kids don’t remember, but I do, and even on days when things seem so rushed and hectic, there are times when I look back on childhood memories and I’m thankful for the moments spent in the sun in a time that wasn’t so rushed.

Cherry Coley ©

Can You Believe It?

photo by CC

What exactly are beliefs?  When we think of beliefs what is the first thing that comes to mind? Religion, morals, political beliefs?  We often place our beliefs into categories then will actually stand up and fight to defend them, our beliefs make us human.

 What about the other beliefs which are ingrained in our lives?  My parents grew up in the Great Depression when food was scarce and belongings were sparse.  I can remember mom telling me that when she was in middle school she and her sister had one pair of shoes between them and would take turns wearing them.

Because of their circumstances and life experiences, my parents had beliefs that followed them into adult hood, throughout their lives, and they shared them with their children such as:

  • Food is scarce, you eat what is on your plate.
  • You take care of your belongings.
  • We don’t have money to waste.
  • If it’s a “want” and not a “need” then you should think awhile before getting it.
  • Don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • If someone hurts you, don’t forget that.  You can forgive them, but just be aware they might come back and do the same thing later.
  • Keep a steady job and a steady income; it’s not so important what you do as it is important that the bills are getting paid.
  • Going out to eat is not necessary.
  • The fancy China is only used for very special occasions.
  • If you really like something, then you should get more than one because then if it gets lost or broken, you still have it.
  • Respect your elders.
  • It’s important to keep the peace and if you’re told to do something a certain way then you should do it that way.  If you think of another way to do it, then you might be able to bring it up later.
  • Let your imagination run wild, but color within the lines.
  • Books will never lose their value because people will always read.

These are but a few of the beliefs that get passed down, some of them are good, some are not so good, but every single one of them were meant with good intentions.

Through our interactions with other people, television, radio, and ads there is a constant barrage of input that our brains take and categorize for reference later.  What’s more is we unwittingly and unknowingly pass many of these things on to the people around us and our children, good intentions, but not always good advice.

If you tell a child they are dyslexic and have a learning disability.  True, they may have both, but the difference on whether that child uses that knowledge as a handicap and see’s themselves as being far less than they can be is all in how the people around them approach the situation.  If they are constantly moved forward without the struggle to improve, celebrating achievements, and working to get where they need to be, then they will truly be handicapped and waiting for someone to hand them a job, hand them a solution, and be stuck with whatever they get handed. 

 We all have limiting belief systems we have embedded in our characters, but the things we see as limitations often aren’t, they are simply beliefs that need to be either adjusted or thrown out.  We have the choice on where we set our own limitations and whether we will continue to believe, things like – “there’s not enough money,” “don’t throw that away because you might need it later,” or “don’t take unnecessary risks.” These are truly choices that are up to us.  We don’t have to listen to those tired voices repeating the same old patterns; we can rewrite and reset our limits as we go and create new patterns more in tune with who we are at present.

 Cherry Coley ©