Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pride

A year ago my son suggested we go to the Pride Parade. It was a passing comment but I knew he was gauging my reaction. I agreed and we decided to go...just the 2 of us. I was hoping that our adventure would help him gain some confidence.
I took this picture within minutes of us arriving at the parade and began to cry. I knew it would be a life changing day for him.  That day did not change who my son is....it changed how he felt about himself.  It changed me to see him so very happy.  On the way home he said he had never felt so much love in one place before.
My son finally worked up the courage in the fall to talk to me. I will never forget that moment as I sat at the kitchen counter and he said, "Mom...pay attention....I think I am gay..." I did not even blink.  I said, "I know, Honey." I think that there were a few more words exchanged and he walked back out of the kitchen.
From the moment he was conceived, I have said that my son is extraordinary and has a special purpose....that he is destined for greatness. He has proven me right at every turn.
It took a few more months for him to tell his sisters, as well as his dad, and he told each person in his own way. Every reaction was a little different but all of us have been waiting for this conversation.
Over the course of this year my son has had had to endure torment from people online, people in real life, children at his school, administrators and teachers from his school, even family members but he keeps moving forward. I know that on some level it takes a toll on him but his is confident in himself.
My son.
He is amazing.
He is brave and courageous.
As a mother, I worry about him. I worry that his life will not be easy. I worry that he will get his heart, and perhaps his spirit, broken. Every mother worries about their child so these worries are nothing unique. Every mother wishes that their child will never feel pain, never be teased, never be hurt.... we mothers want to protect our babies at any age.  We want our children to have it better and easier than we do. We want them to only feel love....from everyone...all the time.
Today my son and I went back to the Pride Parade, except this year 2 of his sisters chose to come along.  We laughed and danced and laughed some more. This time I saw something different. I saw an older generation of men and women who, whether they meant to or not, have paved the way for kids like my son. The lived for years in hiding, denying their love for another. They lived a lie in secret. They lived in fear. As time has passed, they have opened doors and moved barriers as they lived their lives. The love, gratitude and admiration I feel for these men and women is immeasurable.  By demanding equality and respect, they have created a culture where kids like my son can feel confident in owning their truth at a young age. I can only imagine the emotions their mothers felt way back when....when things were not so open and life was far more constrictive and conservative.
My son.
He is amazing.
He is brave and courageous.
DO NOT get me wrong....my son makes me crazy just like any other teen makes a momma nutty. We argue and yell at each other. We talk to each other and work through things too.  We navigate this new territory together. Neither one of us knows what will happen in the future, but I do know that my son will always be loved by me and by God. God makes no mistakes. God created my son. God created my son for something significant.  God chose me to be this boy's mother. God has a plan for both of us and I have faith.
I have faith.
I am proud.
I am grateful.
Love is love
Love will always win.
Love.....
forward is a pace
Peace.




**Disclaimer: I asked for, and received approval from my son to write this piece. He also approved the finished piece.**

Monday, May 29, 2017

Service


Today I went for a run. I ran with a sense of freedom. Freedom protected and paid for by so many who have put on a uniform, as well as the many who have given the ultimate sacrifice protecting that freedom. As I ran, I thought about all the things I am grateful for....each one circled back to the constitution and the freedoms I have living in America.
The last mile of my run was through my favorite place.... the local cemetery. It was no accident my run took my through this peaceful place. I often end my runs here to gain some peace and perspective.
Today I slowed down and looked around. I saw so many grave sites with flowers, flags, wreaths....letting others know that someone had recently paid a visit. I saw a plot with a flag and walked through the grass to take a closer look. It was a WWII veteran. I paused, and out loud said, "Thank you for your service" then turned to walk away. I was reading other stones as I walked out of the grass and realized that many were veterans. And many had no flag or flowers. I walked that last mile through the cemetery, visiting each stone with a flag and saying the same words each time, "Thank you for your service"
Around each stone with a flag I saw plenty without a flag so each time I noticed it was a veteran, I cleared away the dirt and grass and said again, "Thank you for your service"
I returned home feeling far more grateful than when I walked out the door so I put down my waterbottle, picked up my purse and headed to the dollar store. I bought all the flags they had left (about 30) and drove to the cemetery. I retraced my steps, placing a flag by each veteran I had seen earlier without one, as well as a few extras.
Today is not about barbecues, boating and time off work. Today is not about politics, parades and public events. Today is about honoring and thanking those who have put on a uniform, fought and often times died protecting this country we call home. It is also about honoring the families of those same brave soldiers who sacrifice as well and are left behind to bear the burden of loss.
WWII, Korea, VietNam, and even WWI veterans, some forgotten for years, received my gratitude and my appreciation for their service to this great nation of ours. Take time today to say thank you in your own way to our veterans. To everything there is a cost and freedom is not free.

George H Hickey WWII
Chester W Bukar WWII
Casmir Patocki WWII
Richard A Stevens Bronze Star WWII
Harold P Pierce WWII
Adam Gregory WWII
Richard Patela WWII
Frank Olczak Bronze Star WWII
Leonard Lewandowski WWII
Raymond Casken WWII
John Bodzioch WWI
Joseph F Sychowski WWI
Frank C Mack WWII
Peter J Gnat WWII
Julius Bodnar WWI
James E Warnke WWII
James Pinske Korea
Eugene D Furman WWI
Eugene P Wasielewski WWII
Josei H Kuisba WWI
George Wdowik WWII
Michael P Gajda WWII
Thomas Smolak WWI
Stanley Lukaszewski WWI
Dominic  R Suwanski WWII
Theodore J Papuga WWII
Edward J Bryjak Korea


God Bless each one of you, as well as your families and loved ones. Thank you for your service.
Forward is a Pace
Peace



Sunday, May 21, 2017

Spring


What started out at a dreary morning.....became a rainy and cold morning...but that did not dampen the spirits of our girls, their families or their running buddies!!! Friends, family and supporters braved the elements to run with and cheer on our girls. 
The alarm did not go off. I woke up with only 20 minutes to get dressed and get my helpers moving. Within 30 minutes we were in the car, getting gas and coffee and heading to Grant Park. Texts were coming in from my coaches and I was dictating responses to my daughter while driving. 
We arrived and parked then headed to the site flag. We were only there a short time before the girls arrived....and the rain soon after them. It was a morning of  few sprinkles, a downpour or 2, and a great deal of smiles! 
Every girl had a running buddy thanks to support from Girls on the Run and teachers from our school. The best part?  Every girl finished!  
It was a great morning filled with lots of high fives and smiles (and rain soaked tutus!) that filled my one super shiny, glittery, sparkly bursting with love heart.
forward is a pace. peace.
#tutulady

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Impetus

I never considered myself an inspirational impetus but my amazing friend has changed that by asking me to share my story in order to empower other women. Sharing my story has been a very scary yet liberating part of my painful journey. It has not been easy to open up and share the "ugly" parts of my life but I feel that if, in doing so, other women can find strength and courage then it is all worth it. 
The other women whose stories are also on the Blessons page are just as amazing and inspirational. 
Please read, share, make a donation and/or apply for a scholarship!
Click here to visit the Blessons page, and read about all the inspirational women as well as the remainder of my story. Below is only part of my story......



I am a single mom to 5 children, a teacher and coach.
I grew up in the suburbs with a pretty "normal" life. 2 parents and one younger brother. Both my parents worked....my dad as a lawyer in town and my mom as a teacher in the next town over.
I left home to go to college attending St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana which was, at the time, an all women's college. 4 years and I was done. I was not an A student like I could/should have been and did not take advantage of opportunities the school had to offer until my junior year....something I regret.
I got a job as a part time teacher upon graduation. I wanted to live in the city so I moved to Lincoln Park (the only place my parents thought was safe) and took a job working for a small graphic arts firm. I eventually left that job to go back to teaching. I taught in the UIC area for several years then met and married a man. After a few years of commuting, I had a daughter thus, I chose to take a teaching job closer to our home. A second,  third and then FOURTH(!) child meant looking for a larger home and with that, a change to another school closer to home. Somewhere in there, my stepdaughter (goodness I hate the term step!) chose to become a part of our family. Thus, I became a mom of 5!
It took the change in my life for me to decide I needed to leave the school where I had been teaching for 14 years, and reignite my passion for teaching.
I am currently teaching at a charter school in the North Austin area of the city and I love it. It is HARD work every day with challenging students but the rewards are endless. I truly feel, once again, that I am making a difference in the lives of the young people I teach.
I went right to college after high school which was expected. I graduated in 4 years as was expected. I lived in the dorm and was only a few hours from home if I needed to visit my family. I do regret not getting an advanced degree. I do not have the funds nor the time now to do it. When I had the time and money, it was discouraged.
"Blessons" - I love that word. I have had many from being assaulted and hospitalized to anxiety and depression. The biggest Blesson I would have to say is my "in process" divorce. I was married for over 20 years to an emotionally and financially abusive man. I stayed "for the kids" and....if we are being honest, because I didn't know it was abuse.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tribe

 "I learned that people have three basic needs - To be seen, to be heard and to know they are loved."
Molly Barker

My friend, Molly, is an amazing woman. Each day I look to her for courage, advice and wisdom. She never fails to inspire me to be a better human. She is such an important part of the tribe of women I am blessed to call my friends. My tribe sees, hears and loves me in so many ways that make me stronger every day. 

I think in my heart I have always known this but somehow forgot.  I think that I somehow have always wanted to make people feel that they matter but somehow lost focus. I think it is all I have ever wanted and didn't know it. 
I have longed to be seen. I have become bigger and  larger than life to take up space and force people to take notice. I have done things I am not proud of to get attention. I have gotten louder in order to be heard. I have lost myself, compromising my values and myself in order to be loved. 
It took a major life change to force me to face reality. Looking back, and with the help of therapy and friends, I realized that I have given others what I so desired. I have treated others to being seen and heard and loved but forgot about myself and those closest to me. As I lost myself into a rabbit hole of giving to others, I had nothing left for those that needed it most. I covered up my own needs with excuses. My own needs and the needs of my kids got sucked into a vacuum of pleasing other people. I gave everything I had in search of what I had right in front of me. My children needed me to see them and I needed them to see me...the real me. My children needed to be heard and I needed not only to listen and to hear them but they needed to listen and hear me as well. My children needed my unconditional love and I sooo needed the same from them. I needed to peel back the layers, toss off the cloak of secrecy and get real. 
It has been messy....so, so messy. I am not talking a few grass stains in the knees messy. I am talking "covered in mud, wresting with pigs and the pigs winning" messy. It is still messy and will be for a long time but anytime life gets real....it seems to get messy. 
The kids and I love to cook together. Everyone has a specialty in the kitchen and the food tastes amazing when complete but cooking is messy so the kitchen becomes a disaster in the process. Life is like that too. Growth and change are messy but the end result is beautiful and sooo worth the effort. Our lives are going to be messy for a while but we are in the process of cleaning it up...and as we work together we are seeing each other. We are listening to each other. We are loving each other in a way we never thought possible.  It is perfect? Hell no!  I have teenagers. No more cute pictures on social media of faces covered in food. No more posts about behavior that makes other moms nod but kids cringe. My kids are also seeing the real person that is their mom....the human being....who is messy too. 
I am learning to see, to listen  and to love my children, myself and others in new ways and it is an amazing journey. Would I wish this journey on any one else? FUCK NO! It has been Hell on Earth. There have been times that I wanted to run....far away and never look back.  Thanks to my friends that did not happen. They saw me. They heard me and they loved me. All the parts of me...the good, the bad and the messy me. My friends knew just what I needed and when, They have gotten messy with me on this journey of love. They have allowed me to find my way back to my heart. 
It is a debt I can never repay but will pay forward until my last breath. 
Thank you to my tribe.
Forward is a pace.
Peace.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Wings

As I sit in the auditorium of a high school, I look around. I see the faces of other anxious parents waiting....waiting for their children. We are all nervous. These hours spent waiting are not nearly as difficult as the hours of preparation our children have done. Waiting is not nearly as nerve wracking as performing in front of strangers who will determine their future.
Our children have prepared all their young lives to perform for these auditions that will determine if they are admitted into this special school or not. It is make or break. No second chances.
We can no longer hold their hand or cue a line or check a note of a song. We now must wait in the wings as they take the stage alone. Break a leg, kids.....your parents will be waiting to give you a standing ovation.
#forwardisapace
Peace.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

14

Today begins the 14 days of love challenge. For the next 14 days I will leave a note for each of my kids with "I love you because..."  . with a different reason each day. (along with a chocolate kiss) It gets more difficult as the days progress as I try to find reasons they don't think I see. 
Try it with the people you love. Challenge yourself.
#forwardisapace
Peace.