Some of my life’s greatest challenges have come at the hand of others and selfish choices; sexual abuse, marriage under false pretenses to gay man and judgement of others are now a part of my past as I build my future empowered with control over my own emotions and choices because I have forgiven. My approach to forgiveness is directly linked to my faith in God and my faith in the ability to change.
The remarkable gift of forgiveness given to me has been a blessing throughout my life as others have asked for forgiveness for deeply wounding me, mindfully manipulating me, and selfishly taking from me. When faced with the challenge of truly forgiving them, I have been blessed; forgiveness and peace came with ease and my sorrows have been lightened. Please do not mistake my attitude of forgiveness for softness or weakness. It is neither. This ability, for me to offer true forgiveness gives me freedom and control. There is no greater power then feeling freedom from heartache and grief. Forgiveness offers me strength to live my life without reproach, builds my self esteem and shapes me into the person I am becoming.
I have found joy and happiness in the freedom I gain from forgiving others.
(I recognize that we all have different coping skills to deal with abuse and other pain in our lives. My heartaches for all those struggling with healing and moving forward. Time, faith, and love of yourself as well as those in your life will aid in your healing. Stay strong, know that your life has worth and value.)
I remember a time in my life when I would rise before the sun, seek out the perfect place to watch her stretch out her warmth and hug the sky with her vibrant colors. Watching the sunrise and her colors moving across the sky until they faded leaving behind just her warmth, brought a calmness to me, assuring me that with another day came promises of happiness and joy. I found myself repeating this ritual in times of my life when I needed to feel peace and warmth. If I wasn’t up early, I was chasing the sun to the end of the earth where she would kiss the sky good night, lingering her descend with a trail of colors.
Now I begin my days with hugs and end them with kisses from my children, sometimes unwillingly but always with the same peace I once chased. My days are filled with chaos, joy, homework, dishes, service, love, late night ice cream, and often falling a sleep exhausted on the couch as soon as it’s quiet. Although my life has been redirected many times and I stopped chasing the sun, I still pause and reflect on her beauty in a grocery store parking lot, in the car on our way to home from a long day, or wherever I am. I want my children to recognize the beauty all around them that God created for us. I hope someday they will chase the sun and enjoy the promises she brings everyday.
I still find calming peace and happiness in the sunrise and sunset everyday.
Sometimes I have subtle reminders that my children can feel the tension that comes with dividing a family. Every once in a while I have an intense reminder. Maybe that comes from having a teenager in the home. Maybe it’s because it’s just hard. I wish I knew the right things to say to my children when I see that they are struggling, or hurting. Seems like under these circumstances sometimes there is no right thing to say, so I don’t say anything. Instead I wake up at 3:12 A.M. to go buy milk, make banana bread bundt cake for breakfast, or squeeze fresh orange juice. Sometimes I might make their beds or let them stay up an extra hour for a family movie. I’m making this up as go, and sometimes I make mistakes, all the time I show them how much I love them.
Showing my children that I love them and I’m here for them makes me happy.
Organization is the most comforting word to me. When my life is organized, I can see more clearly, I can focus on the present and plan for my future. In my mind, I see my life, my calendar, my everything as a desktop on a computer. Neatly organized folders, labeled and arranged in an systematized fashion, each folder containing exactly what I need to be accomplish a task, complete a goal, plan a trip, and keep it altogether without losing myself. When my life glitched it was pandemonium in my mind. I found pieces missing from folders, unlabeled folders, things I have never heard of showed up and everything seemed to be floating in a gentle breeze that often changed direction. Suddenly I could not breathe.
As time went on, I found ways to slowly gather the pieces of my life as they drifted by, taking small breaths as I decide where to start. It took me time, courage and love to see that it is safe to change my desktop. Recycling what was holding me back, making new folders as I discovered new pieces and fragments of me that had been missing for years, and taking what I was holding onto tightly and putting it back into place. Everyday breathing more deeply, more completely.
My desktop isn’t in perfect order, but its close. I’m organizing my life a little bit more every day. I have discovered that I need people in my life. I have learned it’s ok to accept help from my loved ones. I have decided that it’s alright to be a single mom.
I have found happiness among disarray, although I am looking forward to my life returning to it’s organized state a little bit more every day.
The first time I picked up a camera I was in high school and had just become the new sports photographer for the school newspaper, The Viking Voyager. I instantly fell in love with two things, looking at the world through the lens of a 35mm camera and the sound of the football players’ pads crashing into each other on the field. Using the camera become second nature to me as I learned to adjust the aperture and shutter speed to capture life as I see it. Learning to process film and develop prints gave me the
opportunity to show others the world through my camera lens. I was stubborn as technology took photography to new levels of creativity. As I learned to embrace new technology I have grown to love photography more.
Looking at a photograph I can feel the image, the warmth of the sun melting the snow, the hope in the eyes of a mourning widow, the love two people share has they promise to be loyal to one another, or the emptiness of place that was once alive. I can see the color in a colorless picture and feel the emotion in its contrast. I can hear the laughter of children playing, or the soft sounds of a creek trickling water over rocks. I can smell the orange blossoms that surround a country road, or the rain falling on the sand in a dry desert.
I take photographs for me, so that I can capture these emotions, sounds and smells, so I remember they way I feel in the moments that inspire me, teach me and help me experience life around me. I share my photographs so others can feel and be inspired as well. I desire for my home someday to be filled with my photographs, to cultivate an environment that inspires and motivates my children in their lives, and for those that enter my home to leave feeling the world through my camera lens.
Searching for and capturing images that facilitate emotions within me brings me happiness.
I walked into the hardware store with O to pick out the paint for our new living room. I knew exactly what I wanted, Solo Cup Green! I think O came because she didn’t believe I was really getting that color. She didn’t have plans to convince me otherwise, she just stood back watching in disbelief. Her sassy comments about grass growing on the walls and her not helping paint were not unexpected either. I just smiled as I told the gentleman at the paint counter what I wanted. O still in disbelief blushed as the man volunteered to come help me paint, of course I politely declined but in my head I heard myself sing, “oh baby you, you got what I need but you say he’s just a friend…”. I rolled my eyes, smiled and laughed a little at myself, when did Biz Markie get in my head, and that song does NOT even apply here.
I painted all three walls of the living room green that night. At 2 o’clock in the morning, I sat in the middle of the living room in our empty apartment feeling peaceful and exhausted. I no longer felt overwhelmed with emotions about living as a single mom in an apartment. In that moment of feeling sore, burnt out and completely exhausted I realized what was missing from my life. Color! My life had become dull and uninspiring. Solo Cup Green brighten my life again and inspired me to create a fun environment full of color, with happy nostalgic memories hanging on the wall. My living room has become my favorite place in our home.
I have found happiness and inspiration in Solo Cup Green.
My little boy K is not so little anymore, even though I want to think of him as the same cute little boy I found half-naked standing almost inside the refrigerator looking for some milk, even though the entire box of cheerios was all over the kitchen floor. And that rosy cheeked little munchkin that would roll around in the fall leaves and bury himself. Or one of my favorites, the kooky kid that put googly eyes all over his forehead so he see better. I am still cleaning up after him, still delight in watching him play, still laughing at his nonsensical ideas; even so somehow, he is not that little boy anymore. I should not have blinked.
K’s favorite book to read is the car manual. He reads it when it is his turn to ride shotgun, and tells me everything I need to know about wearing my seat belt properly, changing a fuse or headlight and reminds me to use the emergency break, especially if I am parked on a hill. Due to the many teaching opportunities I have given him, leaving my car lights on, he can jump-start my car.
This funny, charming, helpful young man makes my heart happy. When away from home he sends me dozens of kissy face emojis and wants video chat with me everyday. He will look for opportunities to make my work load easier by volunteering to cook dinner.
Although he enjoys being the “man of the house” and taking care of the girls, I know that sometimes he’d like to have some boys around too. He mentioned to me on more than one occasion, “Do you think you could marry someone with a son named Jon? It would be cool to have a brother named Jon”. I smiled at his request, happy that he would be okay if I did someday remarry and asked if he had any other requests, to which he replied, “He should also like football, especially the Cardinals”.
This football loving, nonsensical, caring young man makes my heart happy.