It’s Not Fair

During dinner I listened to the kids talk about their day. I have been trying my best to cook more and make dinner a time of no electronic devices. Anyone who knows me, knows that cooking has never been my strong point. Mark was always the cook. At least the kids don’t get that worried look on their face when I say I’m making dinner anymore. My skills have gotten much better. Thank you Jesus!

As I sat at the table, I looked across to the empty chair. All I could think of was, “It’s not fair.” It’s not fair that these three babies will grow up without their dad being around and sharing in the big and small moments of their life. It’s not fair that at every father/daughter or father/ son event they won’t have him there. For a second I got so mad again. Mad at God and the circumstances that took Mark from us. I had to dig deep to find that faith again. Faith that God has a plan of some sort. I remember when I would want to punch someone if they told me that. It has taken much soul searching to renew and regain that faith. Yet here I sit and wonder why… again.

I know there is no answer. Even if there was, I would still say it’s not fair because it’s not. I have had many wonderful moments happen in my career and life lately. There have been many times I wanted to pick up my phone and call Mark to tell him about them. I could but there would be no answer, no phone number in existence anymore.  So I look to the skies and simply say, “Babe, I did it.” Still, it’s not fair.

Recently, I took pictures at a the same location Mark and I had taken pictures at about five years earlier. My friends at Masaki Photography are amazing! I was able to superimpose the images together. The way it worked out, it looks like Mark is holding my hand. For a moment I think that he really will. Then reality hits. Nope. Not in this lifetime. It is truly impossible and again… not fair.  I could scream, “It’s not fair!” at the top of my lungs until I lose my voice and nothing would change. So instead of the negative,  it’s the positive memories that snap me out of it.

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Thinking back on everything that made life wonderful helps remind me that life is still amazing. Yes, it’ll always not be fair that Mark was taken way too soon, but he was here. That fact alone is a huge blessing. His legacy is left in three amazing children. His legacy lives on in everyone who smiles at the thought of him and was positively impacted by him in some way. More blessings. Before I knew it, I was thinking of blessing after blessing from this man that God brought into our lives. No, it really isn’t fair. Life isn’t fair but the life lived, I mean really LIVED by that man was amazing and beautiful. In that we are forever grateful. In that, we have the strength to go on each day living life and finding joys in the moments that make up the  86,400 seconds in a day.

Intention

There was no way I was going to get out of bed this morning.  I went to bed last night not feeling the greatest, absolutely exhausted, with a migraine.  When I woke up this morning I still had a bit of a headache and was really feeling like a Sunday morning should be spent lying in bed. Then I looked and my morning meditation. I read, “Live each day with intention.” Dang it! Why must is be so guilt inducing?!?

My intention was to be healthier and more fit to help achieve other goals I had set forth on my vision board. I knew there was a busy day ahead and if I didn’t fit in a morning workout, it wouldn’t get done. As much as the thought of rolling over and snuggling back into my pillow sounded wonderful, I knew I would feel guilty later on in the day if I did that. So I reluctantly rolled out of bed and went to brush my teeth, sort of brush my hair,  and get my hiking shoes on.

We are only a week into 2019 and I was going to do my first Koko Head hike of the year. Those 1,048 steps to a breathtaking view was the motivation I needed. Each hike I put music on, go into my own zen, and sweat out any negativity that may weigh me down.  As I hiked today, and looked at these beautiful views, I thought about that quote that got my butt out of bed.

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It’s true. We should live everyday with intention. If we don’t we are just breathing and functioning our way through life. I thought of Mark. As we gathered all the pictures for his celebration of life I was floored by how much life he lived in his 39 earthly years. The countries he visited, the risks he took, the committees and organizations he helped were just a snapshot of what he did. He truly lived with intention. Like our pastor said, it was the quality of his life, not the quantity of his years. His “dash” was fuller than many who live to be 100. What would my dash be? What could I do to make my life focus more on quality?

Intention. Wake up everyday to LIVE, not just breath and go through the actions of the day but really be present and live those moments. Find joy in the scent of a flower that catches you off guard or your favorite song that plays on the radio when you get into the car. Find something you can do each day to make it more than just a date on a calendar but make it a day to live and say you were there. I realized today how much I love a sunrise because it really is the start of something new and brings forth more light to the day. Today’s sunrise was gorgeous!

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Glad I did that hike today or I would have missed some other pretty amazing views! It is not always easy to do by any means. Many times your mind will be your worst enemy. In those moments, lead with your heart. It will always be your strongest muscle.

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Love Is The Goal

Welcome 2019! It’s true, 2017 tried to break me, 2018 taught me lessons, and 2019 is where I soar. The common denominator and driving force through every year is love. Love in every shape and form. Love is what keeps us going. Love is what gives us strength. Love is the goal.

I looked at my children last night as the clock grew closer to midnight, pure love. Those three are the reason I do everything. When I thought I couldn’t go on or wanted to quit, my love for them kept me going and gave me even more strength. The love they feel from family and friends does the same for them.

Love made me think about how 2019 will be different. In previous years I looked forward to getting things and resolutions done to just check them off a list. This year there is so much passion behind what I want to accomplish that is driving me that I know it will happen. This year instead of feeling so lost, I feel my angel and God by my side lighting the path. A path that is outside of the comfort zone. That is where true progress is made. Progress that is driven by passion to make a real difference in the world and fueled by love.

We each have love in us. It’s a matter of what triggers it in us. Find that trigger. Is it a person? A cause? A goal? Whatever or whoever it is, use the love for it to make your new year successful. Even when things and life don’t go as planned, which at some point will definitely happen, use love to help build resiliency to get through it. That is what I’ve discovered helped many times on this journey.

Love isn’t always sunshine, flowers, unicorns, and rainbows. Love is a challenge, but it can offer the greatest of rewards. Love lost can hurt and feel dark. I was there in the darkness. I’ve been there many times since September 2017. That same love can also build. When we look at the challenges differently we can turn the negative into a positive. Instead of letting it break us, think of it as the opportunity for growth. Look for the love in your everyday lives. It’s not always the romantic kind of love. I’m talking about the love for what you do daily. Sometimes it is in the most unexpected of places.

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If you’ve ever smiled out of the blue at the thought of an idea or a person, that’s love. That has been how my first day of 2019 has gone. This is why I know 2019 will be different. I woke up thanking God for this new year and new opportunities. My children all laughed at some point this morning. A butterfly literally guided me to my car as I left my house. A great song played on the radio as soon as I started my car. So many messages and texts from family and friends filled the day with positivity. All are forms of love found in the many moments that make up a day. These are the moments that I will draw strength from when needed. This doesn’t mean today was perfect by any means. I’ve also had a migraine today but tried to change my focus from pain to the many more wonderful moments that have occurred.

Tonight as I write, I know there is love surrounding each of us. May 2019 let it surface for each of you. May negativity be left in the past so you aren’t weighed down. May you find your passion and may love be the goal of it all. Love for life, each other, and the ability to be resilient and find strength. Happy New Year!

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2019

At the end of each year we tend to reflect on life a little more. We make resolutions for the year ahead and vow to be better versions of our current selves. Last year my resolution was pretty much to just make it through 2018. Glad to say, we’re almost there! 2017 was a year that turned my life upside down and inside out and was the start of putting me in a snow globe that was constantly being shaken. 2018 was a year of lessons mixed with successes. 2019, let’s go.

This year I am looking at the resolution process a little differently. Instead of making resolutions, I created a vision board. This was the first one I have ever done. At this time last year, I had no vision of the future that was beyond getting me and the kids through it. We went through so much together throughout this year and proved that life has to go on after someone close to us passes away. Each day I have to remind myself that even though a part of me died the day Mark did, there is so much more that is alive and has to keep on living.

In 2018 I learned to get through finances, household repairs, car issues, taxes, children and school, work, and dipped my foot in the dating pool (p.s. God bless everyone in the dating pool). I never thought I’d be so proud of putting on a new toilet seat cover and lid on the toilets in our home. There I was at our local hardware store in a row of toilets trying to figure out which one we needed, eventually success! Installed them myself and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Each time I got through moments like that, getting taxes done, paying property taxes, and getting the passports done I would do a little victory dance.

As much as 2018 had some amazing moments, it balanced itself out with moments that made me question myself and my worth as well. Through those journeys I evolved. I was a woman who was learning how to be a single mom of three and finding who I was as a single person for the first time in ages. I learned so much about myself in the process. So much so that I found my true voice and exactly who I am as a woman that just turned 40 and what I want out of life. This was the inspiration for the vision board.

I have heard people call them “dream boards” before, but to make it replace my resolution I’m sticking with vision board. It’s not a dream, it WILL happen. A board with family at the center, friends, love, travel, adventure, and career to name a few. Each picture reminds me of what I need to accomplish each day to make each one become a reality. My gut instinct knows it will happen, my mind and heart are also in agreement for the first time in ages. I’ve accepted the past without regrets, found my confidence in life presently, and face the future without fear. I may not always succeed but know that I have built the strength within me to get through anything or anyone thrown my way. The kids have as well. This year, I am so excited to kiss 2018 goodbye and welcome with open arms and heart 2019! So inhale the future while appreciating each moment in the present and exhale the past. So with God as my guide, let’s go 2019! Happy New Year everyone and thank you for being a part of my snow globe.

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Christmas Flowers

You never know what the person standing next to you may be going through. A smile and friendly banter can go a long way to hide what they are really feeling inside. The holidays can by stressful under the best of circumstances. Once you’ve experienced a lost the first of anything is the most difficult. Time dulls the sting but never really gets rid of the pain. I went to buy flowers to put on Mark’s niche and realized the pain of that moment as I stood in line.

Mark was always a very firm believer in honoring our past and paying respect to those who went before us. Every year we’d take flowers and put them on the graves of our grandparents, uncles, cousins, and friends who had already gained their eternal wings. Never would I think that I would be doing the same for Mark, definitely not at 40 years old. Yet here I was standing in line to buy him roses and a Christmas arrangement.

Everyone who passed by would comment on how beautiful the flowers were. Some even asked if I was going to a party. Another said whoever the guy was I buying them for was one lucky person. Oh the irony of the situation. All I could do was smile and respond with, “Merry Christmas.” They had so much holiday cheer and the flowers seemed to make them happy. Each person seemed to have formulated a story of where they were going. None of them would have guessed the flowers final destination.

That got me wondering how many other people standing in the various checkout lines were going through something similar, maybe even the first holiday after a loss. How many were smiling to mask what they were really feeling and holding it together just long enough to get to their car? So say a prayer tonight for anyone going through something.

I took those flowers and arranged them neatly in the vase attached to Mark’s niche. There was a rose from me and each of the babies. We took the rest of the flowers and placed some on our uncle’s niche and then went on to place more on my grandparents’ grave. My grandparents are buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, so with the remaining roses the children and I placed one on each grave marked as “Unknown” on the way back to our car. We’d say a short prayer for who ever was buried there and eventually made it back to the car. As we drove away I looked at the trail of flowers, I thought of the ones we left with loved ones, especially Mark, and were so thankful for the lives behind each of those Christmas flowers. Tonight after you pray for those going through rough times, take a moment to give thanks for all that is good in your life, every blessing both big and small and every person who has made you who you are today.

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Our Own Movie

It has been a year since I’ve started writing. Last year Christmas went from the most wonderful time of the year to the most difficult time of the year. This year, we’re finding joy. Remembering the good times and creating new memories. It has taken me a while to get the house decorated for Christmas but it finally got done a few days before the big day.

Every year we watch Hallmark movies. I won’t lie, it was very difficult last year. So many of the movies have the basis of one parent passing away. Each movie had a happy ending. Those happy moments seemed like an impossible dream but they did offer hope. Hope is a very powerful thing. This year, that hope has taken roots in our lives.

Trying to get things done in the house has been more of a comedy than anything else. Hanging up the Christmas lights seems more like National Lampoons than Hallmark. The laughter of the kids and I trying to hang up lights outside was a new memory created. Even hanging up the stockings was filled with laughter. The ornaments on the tree was a different story. Each ornament is a memory with a story behind it. Our tree is full of nearly 18 years of memories. The new ornaments were a way of stepping back into the present time from the journey of Christmas’ past we were on.

It was time to continue to wrap presents. As Mackenzy and I were wrapping, we were also watching Christmas movies. There was a line from one of the movies that really tugged at my heartstrings. It said that each light on the tree represented happiness past and happiness future. These are the lights that will always guide us home. I smiled and then my normally level headed daughter looked up at me  and said, “Mom, we’re really not that far away from being our own Hallmark movie.” I looked back at her and said, “What?”

She started talking about our moments from last year where we had a hard time finding joy in anything to this year that was filled with laughter. Mark is still very much with us in our hearts and we can feel him around us here. Miley even caught me off guard when she told me she asked Santa to bring another daddy into our lives since God took her main daddy to heaven. I tried to not cry but could only think of the poor teacher that had to read that Santa letter. Yup, I could see the Hallmark story line now. Miley is still very convinced this person is going to show up at our door Christmas morning just like in the movies. I assure her that things like that take time and that her real daddy would make sure that only the best comes our way. How do you explain this to an 8-year-old?

Well, Mackenzy knew of Miley’s request and is even more convinced that somehow our life is a Hallmark movie. Except she said maybe by New Year’s since Christmas is in a few days. Ah, she’s slowly coming back to reality. Okay, not really but I’m sure this is the girls wanting life to get back to the “normal” they knew. I try my best to get them adjusted to our new normal but their hope is life to return to the way it was. In their hearts they know this is impossible but as they said their hope is to have someone make me smile and laugh the way that daddy did.  All three have said they miss the laughter they would hear from Mark and I as we’d joke around with each other, dance through the living room, and find joy in the craziness of the life we knew.

I do like my Hallmark movies and even though I can be as tough as they come, my hopeless romantic side remains hopeful to find that joy, love and laughter again when the time and person is right. After all, life is about living and loving. We will continue to live life to the fullest daily and remain true to honoring the man who will always be the reason we have so many happy memories and moments filled with love. It may not be love this Christmas like the one Miley is asking for, but there is so much love of other types in the air. The magic of Christmas is real and our lives are like a movie, a story we continue to write daily. There is no real ending but I like to think of it as each day being a new beginning. May your beginnings be filled with joy and love. Merry Christmas from our snow globe to you and yours.

From Peace to Joy

Another Christmas is near. This is the second Christmas without Mark. Last year we started some new traditions. As the children and I are still navigating this path and finding our way in life without dad around, I continue to look for signs. I feel that when we are open to them, they appear. I have had so many rainbows, breezes that felt like a hug, heart shaped clouds and at times the reappearance of words.

Last year the word “peace” kept appearing, especially at Christmas. It felt like that was the gift Mark wanted to send. We were all in need of finding peace. This year we did in several ways. Peace was not something I thought was possible but it happened. Constantly seeing the word “peace” appear was a reminder that being at peace again was possible. A true gift.

This year the word “joy” keeps appearing. Yes, it’s Christmas and it’s a common word at this time of year but I’ve been seeing it in the most random places by itself. Even as I watch television a commercial will play and the word “joy” flashes across the screen. On the lawn at work we have a gigantic letter display the spells out “J-O-Y.” Even as I started setting up the Christmas decor in our home I have seen the word “joy” in several more places by itself, on a mini stocking and even on a picture frame that is composed of those three letters. Is this the gift Mark is trying to give us this year? I think so, and for that I thank God.

It would make sense that once peace has been found that joy can follow. For all positive feelings start with finding peace. If we don’t have peace within then it is difficult for anything positive to happen. This year we go from peace to joy. So I will continue to find joy, not just the word, but joy in moments big and small. May each of you find what brings you joy this season and throughout the new year.

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