Hope Unfolds – Pink Flowers – Day 20

Hope Unfolds – Pink Flowers – Day 20

For the past week, I watched them unfold.  A vase of tulips sat on my kitchen counter moving through one stage of intoxicating beauty to another, each day’s visual array outdoing the previous day.  And a stinging yet joyful memory was aroused.

My dad passed away this month two years ago.  He bought me flowers.  First, he asked what color I liked and I told him to choose since he was the one buying me flowers.  

He chose pink.  They were tulips, breathing a little fresh air into January after the unimaginable heartache of the holidays.  It was to be the last day he would ever choose anything for me.  

We had just left the cancer specialist office where he jovially conversed with the doctor, and still tried to beat him in an arm wrestle, with the little bit of steroid strength he had left.  

After stopping for a lunch where he ordered his final Jonnie Walker, allowed by the doctor, we decided to pick up a few groceries.  The dichotomous marital relationship between my mom and him caused regular disagreements and I was once again mediating an argument, this time about chestnuts, in the middle of Central Market.  My Dad wanted more even though we had just ordered a large box straight from the grower somewhere in the middle of the country.  And his obsession with chestnuts continued morphing into a typical battle of words that he always won.  All the while, I watched through a haze as I was still trying to process the meaning of the doctor’s words from an hour ago, “Call hospice now”.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, my Dad felt compelled to choose the first ever flowers for me.

Apparently, the large tumor was gone from his brain, but the inflammation was beginning to wreak havoc. He had survived brain surgery at the age of 86.  And this was week 3 post surgery, one day before he fell into a coma.  

The flowers lasted longer than any other tulips I had ever had.  I now look at the small glass vase holding the dried pink petals as it sits on the shelf.  Suddenly the writhing waves of loss shake me, yet the view of the new tulips I have watched daily for the past week infuse joy and hope into my tears.

Life is a beautiful yet arduous journey. It is through the unfolding of these petals, I am reawakened to the hope that he is still here somewhere with me. Although we can’t hold our loved ones forever in our arms, they live on in our hearts.

-Erika K Rothwell

An excerpt from a memoir in progress.

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In Hope We Prosper – Day 19

In Hope We Prosper – Day 19

What does it actually mean to prosper?  If you start with the definition, you will read words like thrive, flourish, flower, bloom, blossom, burgeon, grow vigorously, expand, spread, improve, succeed, advance, get on in the world, go up in the world, arrive, fly high, make one’s mark, or become rich.

With those words, I not only want to prosper, I crave prospering.

The promise exists…with hope, we will prosper.  We want to make it in this world.  Whatever our personal goals or wishes for achievement are, we hope to reach them.  

What we so often forget to consider is our current place and how we have already prospered.  The riches are too great to count if we focus on what we possess outside of what money can buy.  I once read,  “If you want to find out how rich you are, count how many things you have in your life that money can’t buy.”

We all know the fleeting promises of material goods.  The next best technology item brings us a momentary thrill until we move on to what really matters…the treasures of life that surround us. 

 As I sit and consider the differences between the words used to define one word, I am moved by the power of subjectivity.

The hand of hope is at work in my life.  I reach for the familiarity of its grasp and realize the promise is real.  The “riches” surrounding me are too great to count, yet I know there is more in store in a future beyond what I see today. 

Living in the moment does not prevent us from hoping.  Appreciating the now only lays the groundwork for tomorrow.  When we believe we can grow, expand, and improve there is always hope.  It is in that very same hope, we prosper.

-Erika K Rothwell

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In Hope We Prosper – Day 19

In Hope We Prosper – Day 19

What does it actually mean to prosper?  If you start with the definition, you will read words like thrive, flourish, flower, bloom, blossom, burgeon, grow vigorously, expand, spread, improve, succeed, advance, get on in the world, go up in the world, arrive, fly high, make one’s mark, or become rich.

With those words, I not only want to prosper, I crave prospering.

The promise exists…with hope, we will prosper.  We want to make it in this world.  Whatever our personal goals or wishes for achievement are, we hope to reach them.  

What we so often forget to consider is our current place and how we have already prospered.  The riches are too great to count when we focus on what we possess outside of what money can buy.  I once read,  “If you want to find out how rich you are, count how many things you have in your life that money can’t buy.”

We all know the fleeting promises of material goods.  The next best technology item brings us a momentary thrill until we move on to what really matters…the treasures of life as they surround us. 

 As I sit and consider the differences between the words used to define one word, I am moved by the power of subjectivity.

The hand of hope is at work in my life.  I reach for the familiarity of its grasp and realize the promise is real.  The “riches” surrounding me are too great to count, yet I know there is more in store in a future beyond what I see today. 

Living in the moment does not prevent us from hoping.  Appreciating the now only lays the groundwork for tomorrow.  When we believe we can grow, expand, and improve there is always hope.  It is in that very same hope, we prosper.

-Erika K Rothwell

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Persevere in Hope – Day 18

Persevere in Hope – Day 18

It’s 6:23 in the evening.  The clock tells me it’s late to be writing.  Yet my commitment to the keyboard still stands.  

The thoughts and feelings continue to swirl, and focusing becomes a challenge.  For as hope remains my focus, the struggle brings tears.  Tears that speak volumes with past hurts and indiscretions, tears that feel helpless against today’s imperfection, and mostly tears that drown out hope for tomorrow’s goodness.

My optimism is buried.  My hopeful words nonexistent.  What holds me captive is a comfortable hopelessness, a place I have become accustomed to from past hurt.  

Shockingly in opposition to my purpose, I share what I most want to escape.

Yet, I still believe “in a future and a hope”.  Where I fail is being patient in tribulation.  

Patience…the opposite of instant gratification. In this world of instantaneous responses, patience has become a forgotten virtue.

Our expectations become skewed the more quickly we see results.  And the expectation of instant results skews our sense of accomplishment.

What we so often forget is the age-old wisdom in a quote like, “good things come to those who wait.”  Is that even ever said anymore in this world of instantaneousness?  Where is the lesson in the struggle?

Technology would have us believe that every incredible view is just a high-speed gondola ride to the top of the mountain or a virtual reality representation of a highly-coveted exotic location. When in reality the most magnificent experiences are often revealed to the few who are willing to risk a great struggle and strengthen their resolve to persevere.

Hope doesn’t always present itself as an instant rope of salvation when we find ourselves in a hole.  Rather it may teach us that learning to thrive within our circumstances while believing that our saving grace will eventually arrive brings us what we most need to learn, patience.

And so what I’ve learned today is we cannot escape the trials we face instantly, but we can learn to persevere with hope in the midst of it.

-Erika K Rothwell

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Don’t Wait Until You’re Thirsty to Drink

Don’t Wait Until You’re Thirsty to Drink

It strikes when we least expect it. For the most part, we are content with life, and yet there is a longing for something out of our reach, a mirage on the horizon, a thirsting that can no longer be ignored.

Days pass with normal rhythms of life, often without a second thought given to ourselves. As mothers, serving others often becomes the priority.

Undeniably, motherhood is a rewarding profession. Watching babies grow and blossom into young adults and then on to parenthood is joyous.

So why does it sneak up on so many of us?

Feeling out of balance and running on empty startles us into facing a reality we strive to avoid. We are thirsty. We can no longer function at a high level, and what do we do? Instead of drinking the needed water, we work harder while ignoring basic necessities. We push away the first warning signs, by prioritizing our family’s needs as first and using our last bit of fuel, only to stall at empty.

Conflicting advice exists about whether to drink before you feel thirsty or when your body tells you, you are thirsty. Either way, if you disregard signs of thirst, you will eventually become dehydrated which can lead to a state of imbalance or worse, immobility.

When signals of nagging thirst call for your attention, ignoring the warning is the wrong strategy.  Overlooking your own needs, physical or emotional, is tantamount to self-neglect.

Do Not Neglect You

Unfortunately, once you begin following that path, it becomes extremely difficult to turn around.

My tears fall, today, for all the moms out there that work tirelessly to support their families in every way possible, and then beat themselves up for not doing enough or being good enough. The following is an excerpt from my journal written some time ago exemplifying my own struggle with the same.

Not good enough. Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. Not successful enough. Not enough. When is enough, enough? The standards that burrow into our psyches and souls define us or destroy us.

When did I stop feeling that sense of true accomplishment? That overwhelming feeling of “I did it!” So many “dids” yet so many “I’m not good enoughs”, “I need to do more”. Wow, I’m tired. Tired of trying to be everything to everyone. Tired of dressing to impress. Tired of sacrificing my sanity for someone else’s sake. Yes, I’m trying too hard.

When I can accept me, I will have accomplished enough.

– Erika K Rothwell

You Are Good Enough

It is clear from my experience, once you neglect your needs…the result is a “not good enough” theme song that plays repeatedly in your mind. The moment actually calls for self-attention to survive, yet that is in direct opposition to everything you’ve built your foundation on…putting yourself last. This is when emotional exhaustion takes hold.

Working mothers are most susceptible to this malady as they just run out of time. The planned end-of-day self-care turns into end-of-day collapse.

Empathy motivates this recognition. Not too long ago, I walked in those shoes. And I forgot to grab ahold of a crucial lifeline. So, I implore you, drink before you get too thirsty.

Define Your Needs  

Make some time for yourself, pour yourself a glass of water.  In that refreshing space, you will be able to see things clearer…then write it down.  Follow your definition as a path to rejuvenation.

You deserve that attention. It’s time to accept an embrace of compassion. You are made of love and you are made to love. Now, allow yourself to be loved.

I love you,

Mom

-Erika K Rothwell

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