Naming Names…

friendsBefore my family and friends panic thinking I’m writing about them, let me just say most of you can calm down.  While I may be writing about you, there is only one person that I’m going to name today.  The person I’m naming is a long time friend, warm, caring, soft spoken, just beautiful inside and out.  If that description doesn’t fit, you can relax, but if it does and your name is Denise; buckle up, put on your listening ears and hear me loud and clear.

I hope all of you have had the privilege of having a “Denise” in your life at some point.  I was a single mom, not many months out of an abusive marriage when I met my Denise.  I had just given birth to my second child and found myself living in yet another new place.  This, not so quaint new community was called Silver Meadows.  I soon learned that it was better known as Silver Ghettos.  It was certainly misnamed.  There were a lot more copper pennies than silver to be found here.  I was surrounded by loud neighbors, criminal activity, police sirens and more abuse happening within the walls of those who lived around me than what I had ever known.

I did discover that my new ghetto had a silver lining though.  Her name was Denise.  I lived in a third floor apartment and she lived friends3on the bottom floor.  We both had little boys the same age.  They quickly became buddies and played together while we had our morning, afternoon and evening coffee or shared a meal.  Thankfully, she loved babies and she would rock my baby girl, giving me a little break from the stress of an often crying, colicky baby.  I didn’t have a car back then, well not one that you could drive.  It did take up a parking space, but that’s about the only thing it could do.  Denise would take me grocery shopping or to doctor appointments for the kids when I needed.  Needless to say, Denise and I spent a lot of time together.

Over time both of our situations changed.  Denise and I both found ourselves moving to new places and into new relationships.   I moved out of state and remarried but that didn’t last long.  After a short blip in the screen of life, I was back in my home state and on my own once again with my two kids.  Denise had married, as well, but she was still there for me.  I worked a lot of hours, but always found myself at her house on my day off.  She had a daughter by now, so both of my kids had a friend at her house.  Denise was my rock.  We would talk about everything.  She kept me sane and grounded with her wise words of advice.  She was the friend who had my back.  I don’t know what I would have done friends5without her.  Her husband was also gracious about me hanging around for a whole day at a time.   He was a stylist, so he cut my hair when I needed and he did my car repairs or showed me how to do my own, which saved me a lot of money.  He taught me how to do tune ups and even how to work on my brakes.  It was empowering for me as a single mom to know that there were things I could do myself.  I needed that.

Denise and I lost contact for many years, but thanks to facebook we’ve been able to reconnect.  A lot of life passed under our feet during that time and many of those years weren’t kind to my friend, yet I’ve seen her be strong and rise above the hard stuff.  She’s still a rock, and I want her to know that.  She is still that light that was shining for me on the dark paths I walked back then and I never want her to forget that.  She still supports me, encourages me and I know she still has my back.

This morning as I was journaling, I was remembering Denise, as well as several other friends like her who have been there for me friends4during tough times.  I’m so grateful for relationships like the one we share.  You know what I mean.  Who is your “Denise”?  It’s fitting during this Thanksgiving season to celebrate those who have stood by us, supported and encouraged us through thick and thin, therefore I proclaim this day to be “Thank your Denise Day”, so get out there and just do it!  Thank you to Denise and all of my other friends who support and encourage me.  You make my world a happier place to be!  ❤

Letting Go…

I hate to use the words, “I quit”, so today my word choice is “letting go”.  There is a difference you know.

I quitI believe that “quitting” happens when you physically, mentally or emotionally come to the end of yourself and you can no longer bare the discomfort or pain of whatever it is that’s just too much.  There is no way you can possibly live with it, under it or bare it, not one more day, hour, not one more second.  It may be a very real or a very false perception that brought you to that point.  It may be that you’ve grown tired and worn.  Regardless, you are at a place where you feel forced to utter the words, “I quit”.

On the other hand, we have “letting go”.  Letting go of something is a choice.  We let go, not because we are manipulated or coerced letting go balloonsby an individual or forced by a situation.  We’ve been able to set emotions aside and have taken a good hard look at the situation, evaluated its cost and benefits.  We reach the decision to “let go”.

I’ve done a lot of deep thinking recently about many things.  I’ve been in a season of introspection or navel gazing as some call it.  Yes, there are times when we can be too caught up in this type of activity, especially if we’re the type that takes ourselves too seriously, but there are times when navel gazing is very necessary.  This particular navel gazing baby navel gazingseason for me is because of an abuse class that I’ve been involved with.  Navel gazing can bring healing.  It can bring us to a better place, plus it’s always good to get the planks out of my own eyes rather than point out the splinters in the eyes of others.  Navel gazing can help us find and know our true self.  It helps us be authentic.  Real.

Today, in an effort to be authentic to my true self, I make the conscious choice to “let go” of #NaBloPoMo, the National Blog Posting Month challenge.  The NaBloPoMo challenge was to write a blog post every day for the entire month.  While have absolutely no regrets for any of the posts that I’ve written over the last ten days, this past weekend writing wasn’t on my mind, yet I felt forced to write something because of the challenge.  That’s not me.  That’s not how I flow.  Of course, while it’s part of our nature to imagine that the world revolves around us, I’m not so naive to think that there are people out there Letting go quotethat can hardly wait to wake up in the morning so they can read all the golden nuggets I have to post.  When I write, it is because I feel that I have something to say, something someone wants to hear, something that may help someone.  It’s not being true to me or what this blog is all about to just post something for the sake of meeting a challenge.  It’s not fair to you, either.  You deserve better.  So for that reason, I’m choosing to let go.

While I do love to write and writing is something that needs to be practiced like any other skill, for the sake of all of us, when I post it will be because I feel I have something worth saying.  So, I’m sorry #NaBloPoMo.  I have to let go.  Don’t take it personally though.  It’s not you, it’s me.

Welcoming Fall…

photo (30)Here’s is an easy breezy weekend post to welcome the fall season to Arizona.  Fall is different here in the valley of the sun.  We don’t have the big seasonal transitions that I grew up with in Ohio.  The Palo Verde and palm trees in my yard are in a perpetual state of green, so no raking leaf piles to play in.  It’s almost mid-November and our day time temperatures are still in the upper 80’s, with lows in the mid 60’s at night.  Once you’ve lived here for a while and have adjusted to the summer heat, anything below 70 is cold, so that’s the big shift here.  We are getting photo (24)to enjoy having our windows open for few hours in the morning and sitting on the patio to read and have coffee.  I love being able to be outside!  Even though my trees never reflect the beautiful colors associated with fall, I do have to take a few weeks to bring a little bit of the fall I grew up with, into my house.  So today’s post is my fall tribute.  Come on inside for a minute and welcome to the Spargo’s!

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Coping with Injury – A photo Journal

Keeping it short today, because we all know I’ve talked to much this week.  So today’s story will be in pictures, mostly.  I got the MRI results for my hip and hamstring yesterday, the injury I’ve been dealing with for the past two months already.  Short story is moderate to severe Tendinitis in the hamstring and a partial tear of the hamstring from the hip bone, mixed with some osteoarthritis, bone marrow edema and bone contusion.  Sad story is a long recovery and NO running, biking or swimming for four to six weeks and then we’ll reevaluate.  How will I cope with this?  Well, as you can see, I’m writing more.  While I’m sad, I’ll be just fine.  The bigger question is, how will all of my gear cope with this???

No one wants to see the things they love go through something like this.  Imagine the heartbreak of being shoved into a closet and ignored!  Who wants to be left on a rack to collect dust?  Yes, anything left laying around my house will collect dust.  It’s just a rule I made up.  My husband always said, “When you pass fifty, you are allowed to make up crap”, therefore, I make the rules and abide by them.  Today though,  I decided I needed to take swift action to make the things I love feel better.

Here are my bathing suit, swim cap and goggles.   Of course, the obvious way to keep them happy is to let them be in the pool.  I’m letting them float around on the raft for a bit.  They say if you love something set it free.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours and if it doesn’t, it never was.  So today, I set them free to float.  I have a feeling they will come back to me.

Swimming Suit

Here is my bike.   Its happiest place is on the streets.  I could take it out for a walk, but a bike on a leash would look silly, so, I will let it stay on its rack at home.  You may wonder how this is therapy at all.  Well, you see, it’s beside my husband’s bike, so that is the next best place to be.

Bike

Here are my running shoes.  Don’t judge.  This is not excessive.  You know how it is for a girl and her shoes!  My shoe’s happy place is outside, even running in puddles at times.  So I put them outside by the pool to get a little sun and turned on the waterfall.  They brightened up, so I could tell this made them feel better.

Running Shoes

And that my friends, is how we’re coping with injury.

#NaBloPoMo

Happy Birthday “R”!

balloon treeI’m breaking away from the “super proud mom” theme of the past few days, but I can’t quite let go of it completely.  I’m just going to mix it up a little bit, because I’m not done being super proud.   Today’s post will from the perspective of a “super proud wife”.  This won’t become a series though, because the last I checked, I only have one husband to brag on and he deserves to be bragged on!  We’ll stay with the letter theme and name him “R”.  It’s his birthday today, so this post is perfect timing.

I’ve already told you how we met in “My Knight in Shining Armor Story”.  After two previously, really screwed up marriages, I finally got one right.  Some of us just need a bigger learning curve.

“R” met me as a single mom with two kids already.   Having the courage to take on an instant family makes him “point worthy” right off the bat.  The night of our first date was as the Christmas season was approaching and my kids and I were decorating the tree when the doorbell rang.  “R” got to put the angel on the top of the tree before we left for dinner, which has been a tradition ever since.  My kids seemed to be really comfortable around him, too, and he was good with them, so that raised his score.  Yes, after twoscoreboard to many screwed up relationships, I was definitely keeping score.

Not only did “R” inherit a prepackaged deal, he also won the rights to my bill drawer.  I must tell you that this bill drawer had its own organizational system.  I didn’t have to do anything but put the unopened bills in the drawer and they organized themselves with the oldest being on the bottom and the newest on top.  It was a system especially developed to ease my mind and cut down the financial stress of being a single mom.  Whatever was in that drawer became out of sight, therefore, out of mind.   As hard as it is to admit how horrible that system was, imagine the courage it took “R” to accept that drawer when he accepted me.  Yes, give that guy some more points, maybe a high five even!

In the early days of our fast moving courtship, my soon to be husband did everything right.  He always had the right answer, he was super intelligent and seemed to have wisdom beyond his years, he had a good job and he was incredibly talented musically.  As a matter of fact, it was a song that he wrote for me that broke down the high walls around my heart and gained him access.  The fact that he shared the song as we shared a container of ice cream may have helped a little, too.  Ice cream was a staple in my family.

Sad-love-quotes-Trust-it-takes-yearsSpeaking of high walls around my heart, previous abuse and rape meant a lot of emotional baggage was traveling with me on our new journey together.  Trust was difficult for me.  Letting someone get close and really know me was difficult.  “R” would constantly tell me he loved me, but I would just let the words roll off.  If I really believed him, it meant I was opening myself up to be hurt.  He constantly paid me compliments, I mean many times throughout the day even.  My response was always to either ignore what he said or deflect them somehow.  He would stand in front of me, look me in the eye and tell me I was beautiful.  I would look away, never saying thank you, never receiving it.  He never gave up though.  Year after year, he patiently kept doing it all right.  I don’t know how many years it took before I started to listen and believe him, but it was many.  Yeah, more points here!  Big time points!Hugs heal

Our premade family of four grew to become a family of six.  There were some wonderful years in the last 25 and some really horrible, even hellish years.  I’ve talked about some of those times in previous posts, but I’ve just shared what it was like for me, as if I was alone in it all.  “R” was there, too.  He hurt, too, but of course, no one saw that.  Those years didn’t seem to scare “R”.  He didn’t run like others surely would have done.  He stood fast and he held tight.  He remained strong and focused with an amazing ability to keep things under control.

I’m remembering the health crisis I had two years ago.  Not that I remember a lot about the days in ICU, but I do remember when I icuwould wake up occasionally and he would jump up from the spot where he kept vigil.  He would do all he could to make me comfortable or offer help in any way.  How difficult it must have been for him, not just to see his wife in that condition, but still having to carry the responsibility of his job and everything at home during that time.  He didn’t seem to miss a beat in any of it.  I vaguely remember seeing his mom walking into the room once.  I heard her ask him how he was doing.  He said, “I’m just taking care of my wife”.  He certainly has taken care of me.  He’s taken very good care of me!  And the score board numbers keep adding up.

“R” works a very demanding job that doesn’t sleep.  Even if it did sleep, since it’s an international company, it’s always 8:00 to 5:00 somewhere.  They keep him around, they’ve promoted him over the years and the pay checks keep coming in.  All the people that I know that he works with really like him, so I think he must be really good at what he does.  I can’t forget to mention that I’ve been sleeping with a college student for the past few years.  “R” takes classes, too and I’m proud to say he’s a straight A student.

cyclist_superhero_by_night_oval_decalWe’ve had lots of highlights in the past couple years, thanks to “R” getting us involved in this running thing he loves so much.  He’s my marathon man!  We’ve been doing races every couple months and most of them we’ve gotten to travel for.  It’s been so much fun!    He is also big into cycling now and he’s become a mad man clipped on pedals.  I slow him way down when we ride together, but he doesn’t mind because he says he loves when he gets to ride with me.

There is so much more I could say, but I think you get the idea.   He may not be perfect, but he’s still my Mr. album coverRight.  This past summer we were cruising on the Mediterranean.  We had many beautiful nights, but one in particular stands out in my mind.   Picture it with me.  Sitting on our balcony with good wine in hand, sailing over smooth seas, warm air, gentle breeze, full moon reflecting on the water, sound of the water lapping the sides of the ship and “R” is singing to me.  “You’re once, twice, three times a lady…”  Yep, he melted my heart.

Let me tell you this “R”.  While you’ve racked up more points than I could ever count, I’m the one who scored the most when I married you.  You’re once, twice and always my man!  I’m proud of you “R” and I love you with all of my heart!

#NaBlaPoMo

The Second “J”

baby football playerProud mom here again to introduce you to the last, but certainly not least of my offspring.  Today I’m bragging about “JD”!  “JD” was my fourth born and yes, another baby over 9 lbs. delivered by C-section.  He had the most adorable round face with the kind of plump cheeks grandmas, aunts and complete strangers just had to kiss or squeeze.  It was the same with his short chubby legs.  When people would see him, the next remark after expressing how cute he was would almost certainly be something about his future career in football.

“JD” lived the sweet life as a baby, too, getting lots of attention from his oldest siblings.  Even his sixteen month old brother would entertain him by talking to him, making faces and giving him toys or a pacifier when he’d fuss.  He was a very happy baby and almost always smiled and laughed.  It’s funny how some memories can stick in your mind.  I can still see that smiley round face and hear him giggle.  Excuse me for a second.  I just need to stay in this moment a little longer…

There was no, I mean absolutely no stopping “JD” once he learned to crawl and walk.  He was a “no fear” kid!  We lived in a big old farmhousefarm house back then, which made it hard to keep up with him.  In keeping with the football player image, he was not just built with a sturdy frame, he was strong!  He could easily move chairs around and would use whatever means was available to get whatever it was he wanted.  I have a series of pictures I took of him getting into things.  He’s in cabinets, on top of counters and tables, in the kitchen sink and there is one of him standing up on a table taking down my laundry room curtains.  Once, I even found him lying on the top of the five foot chain link fence that was supposed to keep him safe in his outdoor play area.  Of course, he’s laughing and smiling in every picture.  He made it very difficult for me to reflect that firm tone in my voice, indicating when he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.  I remember thinking often, “It’s a good thing you’re so cute!”  The “no fear” thing had its down side though.  I don’t remember how many emergency room visits we had with “JD”, but there were several.

You know how most babies and small children fall asleep when they ride in a car.  With all the activity involved in his busy day, hide and seekwhen “JD” would stop moving, no matter where he was, he’d be asleep instantly.    That old farm house had a set of stairs in the front and the back of the house, as well as big closets and cabinets throughout.  It was a great house for a game of hide and seek for our family of six.  One evening as we were playing the game, we lost “JD”.  We couldn’t find him anywhere.  All of us became concerned as we searched every nook and cranny of that house, calling for him with no response, not even the sound of his laughter.  We knew he was in there somewhere.  Finally, someone discovered him.  He found the perfect hiding place in a cabinet where linens were stored.  There he was, behind a pile of towels on the back side of a deep shelf, sound asleep.  We can laugh now, but we sure weren’t laughing at the time.  I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this, but even as an adult, he still falls asleep when he is forced to stop moving and always falls asleep in the car.

“JD” didn’t have the same challenges that my other children faced, but that doesn’t mean that he had it easy as he got older.  I hate to say it, but “JD” probably got pushed to the back burner, so to speak.  He was the easy going, roll with the punches kind of kid who didn’t make noise or stir up trouble.  We had enough noise going on in our family that he kind of got lost in all of it.  It was like when he crawled to the back of the shelf in the cabinet and was lost during our family game; only this game wasn’t so much fun.  He certainly was there and needless to say, he certainly experienced the effects.

“JD” is very sensitive, caring and loving.  He feels emotion very deeply.  He’s much like me in the sense that he doesn’t often voice dogs smilingwhat he’s feeling, but we know something is there.  He’s a great listener, too.  He accepts people as they are and he forgives when they hurt him.  He’s the kid that will come up and hug his mom unexpectedly, for no reason.  I love that by the way, “JD”!  When you meet him you will still find him, always smiling.  His great sense of humor makes him a “life of the party” type person with a wonderful ability to make people laugh.

I didn’t give “JD” the heads up about this post and he doesn’t read my blog, so I won’t get to gushy and risk embarrassing him.  I don’t think he even knows I have been writing about his siblings this week, so this will probably be a surprise to him.  I’ll send him a link though; because “JD” has to hear how incredibly proud I am of him, too!  And “JD”, I love you with all of my heart!

#NaBloPoMo

Brought to You by the Letter “J”

Two kids left to talk about, so two more days for this proud mom to use her bragging rights!  Today is “J”’s day.  Actually, let’s refer to him as “JN”.  You see, we have two “J”’s, so the next one you’ll meet tomorrow.  I also gave “JN” the heads up that I would be talking about him.  He wasn’t worried about what I would say either, so once again, I’ve been privileged with the liberty to share.  His comment was that the last manger scenetime I shared about him, it helped someone and helping people is where “JN’s” heart is at.   That post was titled, “My Grown Up Christmas Gift”, if you care to take a peek.

“JN” is my 3rd born, who also made his way into this world by C-section.  He too, was over 9lbs. at birth.  He was born right after Thanksgiving that year and was introduced to the public in his debut as baby Jesus in our small town church Christmas play.  I waited backstage, holding my breath as the guy playing Joseph held “JN” high over his head for all to see.  It was a proud moment, but did Joseph really have to hold my baby boy up in the air that high???

It was very evident from the beginning that “JN” was a deep thinker.  His gaze was piercing as he watched the people around him.   He would wrinkle up his tiny forehead and stare into people’s eyes, as if he could read their minds and interpret their thoughts.  It was pretty wild!  I would love to have been able to know what was going on in that little brain at the time.

“JN” got lots of attention, too!  He was born ten years after his big brother and sister, who were very happy to have a new baby around.  So when “JN” wanted held or fed, his wishes were granted pretty much immediately.   Thankfully, “JN” was spared from having to endure the drama of child abuse that his older siblings had gone through in my previous marriages.  I’d say he had a pretty sweet life in those early years.

Things began to take a turn though as “JN” was nearing the end of the elementary school days. He started to develop some health issues child in hospitalwhich resulted in lots of doctor visits, biopsies, surgery, medications and hospitalizations.  One of his doctors was a specialist who was writing a text book at the time and because “JN”’s condition was so rare for a child, he was going to refer to his case in his textbook.  I don’t know if his case ever made the cut or not, but I thought it was interesting.  Maybe a student or another child was helped even then by “JN”.  Needless to say, no parent wants to have their child undergo this kind of trauma.  I’m sure “JN” doesn’t have fond memories of this season in his life.

dark-streetThe season that followed doesn’t contain fond memories for “JN” either.  He would be able to tell his story much better than I.  I really only know the story from the parent’s side.  The years that followed were the very painful years of addiction.  “JN” missed all of the normal fun of the teenage years.  Instead he learned the tough existence of drugs, the streets and dark alleyways.  He had times of wanting to be clean and would check in to a rehab program, but it seemed he was caught in a vicious cycle of rehab and relapse.  These were nightmare years for all of us.

Maybe you think I’m a horrible mother for sharing this story with the world.  I might be that in your eyes, but I’m not in the eyes of my son.  I’m a mother who is proud of her son.  He’s clean now and he has been for a year and a half.  He’s been taking college courses, getting good grades, he lives on his own and he’s kept a full time job.  “JN” is intelligent, caring and obviously a fighter.  He’s still that deep thinker, too, and what he thinks most about is helping other people.  He goes to AA meetings, shares his story and sponsors others who are still struggling to be free.

No one knows the depths of the hell he went through in all of this, except for him.  For me to try to explain to you how hard he had to fight Strengthto get to where he is now would be a waste of space, because no matter how descriptive I get with my words, I couldn’t even begin to touch what he’s experienced.  So I’ll leave that story for him to tell.  What I will say is, if you are one who struggles with alcohol or addiction, why not visit one of those AA meetings.  You might run into my “JN”.  He’ll be the first to tell you, there is hope, there is help and there is healing.  You too can be free!

So “JN”, hear your momma loud and clear today, I’m super proud of you and I love you with all of my heart!

“Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.” – Susan Gale

#NaBloPoMo