Rockonliving Damn Delicious Meal Planning

When we began homeschooling, one key element to our day that wasn’t even a blip on my radar and I totally underestimated was being the cafeteria lady. While this subgroup of humans (homeschoolers) poses a unique challenge to meal planning, this topic is relevant to any one that, well, eats food. So, I guess everyone, right?

If you homeschool, or stay at home with children it can feel like you are in a constant state of food prepping, serving and kitchen clean-up purgatory – hell. Too dramatic? Stay with me…

Ya’ll, this book has revolutionized our kitchen! Meal planning always seemed so overwhelming, daunting, and this book has delicious recipes with easy to follow directions. Have food restrictions? No problem! Like many, we have several family members with various dietary concerns (gluten-free, vegan) and I have found it easy to substitute and modify as needed. It is simple. (my love language.)

I love that she explains how to and how long you can store meals once prepped and then how to freeze and/or rewarm your meals. While she doesn’t recommend a particular storage container, the images in the book sent me on an Amazon search and I am pleased with my container choices. However, I wish she would have provided links to containers to have saved me time looking on my own.

My containers stack in the fridge, allow for reheating and you can write on the lids with a dry erase marker to help family members with special dietary concerns find “their” box.

For my family of five, I am finding it takes me about 4 hours to prep (not including grocery shopping) breakfast and lunches that last about 3-4 days. I did the meal planning and food prepping on my own for the first two weeks as I wanted to understand the process well before bringing in the rest of my family to help.

Now, my plan is to grocery shopping on Sunday morning and have all five of us in kitchen to help chop, slice, wash, prep food and start to put in containers for the first few days of the week. On Wednesdays, I will do another mini-prep to get us through Thursday and Friday with fresh produce and the opened space in our refrigerator.

Rockonliving Tip: Do you have a summer herb garden nearing the end of its season? Consider taking a little time to chop and prep them to last all year! I was so excited to use some of our Lakeshore Farms Thyme crops from last summer to create these super yummy potatoes!

Another bonus of the way the meals are prepped and stored is they are portable for the days when you need to grab and go.

The time put up front in meal planning and prepping allows our family to have an ease to the day’s flow. It is so worth the effort! What makes this momma so happy is limited time standing in the kitchen during the day pulling meals together and decreased precious time cooking during school hours with minimal clean up required.

Meal prepping is proving to be instrumental to one of my overall goals this year, and that is finding ways to streamline processes to allow for more space and time for more doodling in the margins of life & I thought I would share! Till next time…

Rockonliving friends,

Vickie

Rockonliving’s Top 10 Essential Travel Items

(Hey Rockonliving friends! Look who has joined the fun? This post is a share from Quinn!)

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I am passionate about travel. I am passionate about new experiences. As a result, I am often on the go and away from the every day life lived in my home. Regardless, if I am traveling for weeks at a time in a foreign country or for just a weekend away, there are 10 items that I travel with always!  The women in my family may have a different top ten, however, as the only dude here, these are my top 10 Essential Travel Items!

  1. My ID. Either a passport or driver’s license. This is probably a pretty obvious one. It’s great to have on you in the event you forget who you are. 😊
  2. Money. I will always carry a credit card and cash. I typically use my credit card as often as I can so I can easily track expenses and also accumulate more miles which supports our future travels. I will also bring a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM. Internationally, you will receive the money in the foreign currency and the exchange rate is often better than at a foreign currency exchange vendor. When traveling, especially to a foreign county, be sure to call your bank and credit card companies and let them know your travel dates. Often with international travel, I will talk with my local bank and try to get a small amount of the foreign currency that I will be heading to. It is good to have usable money in the foreign country before I can make it to an ATM. Not all foreign currency is quickly available at my bank and they may need advanced notice to acquire the funds.
  3. Toiletries. I always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, lotion, razor, contacts and glasses.  I actually have a separate small travel toiletries bag that I grab and go. This way I know I always have all the necessities.
  4. Clothes. Duh. Of course. However, I am very selective with my choice of clothes that I travel with. My clothing selection is of course varied based on where I am heading. If I am heading to a hot tropical location or snowboarding, there are 2 criteria that my clothes must meet. First, I plan to layer my clothing. To be honest, I have a narrow comfort margin for temperatures. I don’t like being too hot, and I don’t like being too cold…just call me baby bear. Layers allow me to dial in on the perfect comfort level. Layer up if you are cold or remove layers if you are warm. Second, I love pants, shirts, and jackets with pockets. I am very pragmatic and with pockets, I can carry more items. I have a style of pants that I love so much I bought two of them. I use this style of pants with all travel, especially international, because they have many pockets and some with zippers. These allow me to carry passports, boarding passes, my wallet, at times toiletries, ear buds, and whatever else I need. The pockets with zippers are an extra defense against pick pockets commonly found in foreign countries.  

I have a pair of shorts which have come to be known as my “Period Pants”.  We enjoy amusement parks and big roller coasters! Many parks do not allow lose items on rides and require you to rent a locker. This is highly inconvenient, and we find visiting amusement parks without a backpack or purse makes life so much easier. As a result, I get to carry all my family’s accouterments like their money, IDs, lipstick… and tampons and pads.  Lucky me. My “Period Pants” are shorts with multiple pockets which have repeatedly been stuffed with feminine hygiene items. Yes, pockets are good.

5. Hats. I shave my head. As a result, I need something on my head to keep in warmth and/or avoid too much contact with the sun. Baseball caps, beanies, bandannas, buffs… whatever it is, I need something that I can put on my head. During the summer I am more partial to a light weight, washable, fold-able ball cap.  The other seasons I will usually wear a light-weight beanie hat. 

6. Money Belt.  I have had the same money belt since I went to China about 25 years ago. This money belt has a secret pocket with a zipper on the inside where I will carry large increments of money. The money is always on me, secure and safe. In addition to serving as secure bank, this belt also holds up my pants! Who knew! 

Love this money belt!

7. Back packs. My family and I are big fans of traveling light. Putting everything you need in a backpack allows you to be hands free during travel and forces you to pack smart and get really clear on what is important and what is not. People are frequently asking us about how a family of five travels internationally for weeks with only 1 backpack each.  This is a great question and a great topic. We will post more on this topic soon.

Simplify your travels.

Often, I will also travel with a small light weight, collapsible backpack.  This doesn’t take up much room and can really come in handy. I will often use this small pack to carry items I want quickly accessible on the airplane too.

8. Water bottle. I always travel with a steel water bottle. I drink a lot of water and want access to water at all times. A refillable water bottle allows this, as well as reduces the use of disposable plastic and paper cups…#winning. 

9. Supplements that keep me healthy.  Typically, I take a variety of supplements every day to support me in optimal health (more on this later). When I travel. I often will not take all my usually daily products with me, however there a few items I travel with always.  One is called BioVegetarian.  This is a wonderful supplement that is has anti-viral, anti-microbial and immune boosting botanicals.  The next is a product called Reboost.  This is a blend of homeopathic remedies in tablet form taken sublingually.  These two products have saved me time and time again form getting sick.  I will also travel with Vitamin C. C is a classic antioxidant that boosts immunity.  I take these products with me, always.

BioVegetarian keeps us healthy!

10. A pocketknife. Usually I travel with a Leatherman Skeletool. This pocketknife has a knife, bottle opener, pliers, flat and philips head screwdrivers, and wire cutters. This has come in hand so many times. Of course, I don’t travel with this when flying because we now carry on our backpacks and do not check any baggage. Depending on the nature of an adventure we are having, I may even purchase an inexpensive pocketknife once I arrive at my location. For example, when we went to Yellowstone, I purchased a pocketknife once we got off the plane, picked up our rental car and then did some shopping for supplies. A knife and tools easily accessible (your pocket) have been hugely convenient and helpful.

The Leatherman Skeletool

There it is! My list of the top 10 Essential Travel items! I hope this helps you in planning and living your best adventure. Please offer up any other items that are essential to you when you travel. I would love to learn from your experiences!

Rockonliving friends! Quinn

Rockonliving Update!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Rockonliving is growing! The collaborative and creative juices are flowing here at Rockonliving and we are excited to announce that we are working on creating travel guides for the places we visit with more detailed information. For example, does the Octagonal home we mentioned in our Yosemite trip interest you? In our Yosemite Guide, we will provide booking, contact information, pricing and things to consider booking this home in California. These guides will also include feedback and input from all the members of the Rockonliving family! You will hear from Quinn, Vickie and our teen/tweens share their input on traveling. From the more practical adult input to perspective of a 10 year-old that wished to do nothing but “buy cheap crap” in Paris! We hope to share our lessons learned and make it easier for you to begin planning your Adventures! We are super excited! The blog is evolving and launching soon – Stay Tuned!

Visiting Yosemite National Park – and being robbed within 20 minutes of arrival to California. Good Times.

 

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This was a special moment of release Kayah caught on camera between Quinn & I when we finally had squared away the robbery in Yosemite.  Nothing like healing in Mother Nature.

 

Twenty minutes after arriving in Oakland, California we were robbed.

After a long day of travel from coast to coast, our family decided to stop for a quick bite at Chipotle just outside the Oakland Airport.

When we pulled into the parking lot we had zero, zilch, suspicious vibes of the location – it was the middle of the day, in a busy strip mall, with lots of small quick places to eat. Our Spidey senses were not even tingling.

5 burritos and 20 minutes later we came out to a smashed window and our first family robbery.

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If you all know our family, you know Quinn LOVES to travel light and his rule is everyone gets to pack/bring one backpack – that’s it. This delights him.

When we went into Chipotle, if the tag from the rental company wasn’t a beacon enough to thieves, the five huge backpacks tucked in the trunk of the vehicle was like a flare on the Titantic directing them to our goods! Doh.

We were literally 25 feet from our vehicle! In a matter of seconds, our window was smashed and the desperate little thieves grabbed three of the five backpacks.

Yes, the loss of electronics was a bummer. However, the real bummer, the real hassle, was the loss of things like this: two teddy bears of irreplaceable sentimental value; the glasses and contacts that would require us finding an eye clinic in the middle of nowhere to have new glasses and trial lens contacts made;  the loss of two sets of retainers which due to the length of our vacation meant over the next three weeks our teeth would move and shift; The $375 Epi Pen…

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Family Fun at the Stanton Optical Center! New glasses & contacts.

That kind of stuff…you know? Like, how I wish they would have just grabbed the things they could make money off of and tossed the rest on side of parking lot or something.

We were surprised and so grateful to learn our State Farm Insurance policy would cover the cost of our stolen items. We were grateful that other than paying for our deductible, we will would not lose any further cash from our pockets.

It seems everyone, I mean, everyone in the U.S.A. knows you just do not pit-stop in Oakland (especially if you are in a rental car screaming “tourist!”)

I am serious. The police officer that filed our police report said, “Ma’m I don’t even stop in Oakland for gas.” Um, ok.

According to our officer, California’s prison system is so overcrowded that the type of theft we experienced has been taken from a felony to a misdemeanor. This means they do not do anything to follow-up on the crime and the criminals know it. Parts of California (Google Tenderloin in San Francisco and Oakland for more insight) also have a huge homeless population.  The officer shared crime that can generate a quick buck are rampant.  It’s funny, when we visit Europe we are extra cautious (and have never had a problem), but for some reason Oakland was not on our radar at all.

When we called the car rental to let them know what had happened they instructed us to just return to the airport and they would set us up with a new car.

Ok, so listen to this!

When we pulled in, the attendant instructed me to “park our car in the last row with the other vehicles (there were 5 or 6) with smashed windows” from that day! They (along with the other rental companies) have their own on-site window replacement companies who only handle these daily occurrences.

You know, come to think of it, for the amount of traveling our family has done we are pretty fortunate this is the first safety/crime mishap we have experienced. Excellent reminder to not let our guard down and do our research before arrival.

Being robbed wasn’t fun, but did not ruin our trip. The thieves stole enough from us – the last thing we were going to allow them to steal was our good times!

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” – William Shakespeare

Luckily for us, the first four days of our adventure were in a Squaw Valley in a beautiful octagonal Air B& B where we had time to decompress and unpack what had occurred with our kiddos and find places to replace clothing, equipment, glasses, contacts, etc.

Like everything that happens on our adventures (and life too!) the robbery was and will forever be part of our vacation. We folded it into our experience like warm towels out of a dryer. Teaching and role modeling for our kids that the best made plans sometimes will be majorly impacted by things outside your control and what do you do? Do you allow it to overshadow and take away from the experience or do you lean in and use it as a lesson in life of resilience and how you just keep going. You just keep moving forward and finds ways to make it awesome.

We learned some valuable lessons with this robbery.

Here are Rockonliving’s Top Ten Lessons learned when robbed on vacation.

  1. Back up your computer regularly. Quinn has asked me umpteen times in the past year “when is the last time you backed up your computer?” I hadn’t. Lesson learned.
  2. Call your insurance, bank and credit card companies immediately. Our businesses were sympathetic and put all our accounts on high security alerts and advised us what to do next.
  3. Make copies of all important documents. Before leaving on your adventure, make copies of all important documents you may need access to (in the future, in addition to driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, insurance information and itinerary, we are going to add prescriptions for medicines and glasses/contacts too) should something happen during your travels. Make a copy of these important documents and keep in a safe place where someone could get for you if needed today!
  4. Change all your passwords immediately. Even though our computers have passwords and fingerprint security we were advised to immediately change all passwords.
  5. Kick “what if” to the curb. A few times I found myself starting to think of all the worst case scenarios that could occur if someone got into our computers – and it can make you crazy with worry/anxiety. You can only control so much. There is the the circle of what is in your control (change passwords, close accounts, place accounts on high alert) and then what lies outside that circle and until something happens the worry and “what ifs” are nothing but a waste of your precious time and life. Kick it to the curb.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings at all time. We do this fanatically when internationally traveling and for some reason failed to do so on this domestic adventure. A simple Google search would have raised our awareness that as the #14 (out of 25) most dangerous cities in the USA, Oakland has some issues.
  7. The show must go on. Don’t allow setbacks in your trips (unplanned detours, in-climate weather, wildfires, illness, etc) define your trip! Learn from them, experience them, make them a part of your experience. Model resilience and demonstrate problem solving behaviors.
  8. Look for the helpers. Didn’t Mister Rogers say that? What a nugget of wisdom. As soon as we came out of the restaurant and realized we had been robbed we had a number of helpers that made all the difference in our experience. People who stayed with us and our children and offered support and help while we waited for the police, shared apologies and even offered their last $15. There are SO many more people that want to do good in the world than harm. Make sure you and your family sees that!
  9. Things can be replaced. What a delicious opportunity to practice letting go of things and not being attached to ‘stuff.’ It is the people, the memories, the experience that really matters, truly.
  10. Don’t stop in Oakland. Not for gas, not for food, not even for a red light. Just sayin’

I will wrap up this post and if you are thinking of traveling to Yosemite National Park or San Francisco, stay tuned!

Quinn and I will be soon sharing information (from renting an RV for the first time to visiting San Francisco in 2 days or less) to help you as you make your future plans!

As always,

Rockonliving friends!

Vickie

 

 

 

Most times my husband sees rules as “suggestions.” Not at the National Parks.

Connecting the Dots in Homeschool History

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Miko at The Tower of London Fall 2017 – (built in late 1070s) stories of knights, prison, palace, torture, crown jewels. Currently, Queen Elizabeth II is the ‘owner’

Right now we are enjoying an unplanned and completely welcome serendipitous coordination of learning with our history and geography curriculums. One of my favorite perks of home-education is our family learning together. I love when connections are made – where we kind of connect the dots between subjects as a family and create common familial context.

Case in point:

DOT: In language arts we are reading historical fiction novel, Georges, by Alexandre Dumas (France, 1800’s.) We are using the Bravewriter Boomerang Guide for literary analysis and copywork.

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Kira’s Copywork for Georges using the Bravewriter Boomerang Guide

DOT: In geography we are studying Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

DOT: In history we are reading the Story of the World (SOTW), Volume 2 – Middle Ages.

DOT: We are binge watching the Crown on Netflix.

 

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The girls love this show and have acquired such an understanding of who Elizabeth, Philip, the monarchy, Winston Churchill, historical events and much more. We are excited for Season 3!

 

DOT: We just returned from a field trip to France and England.

DOT:  Poetry Teatime Tuesday is a Bravewriter staple in our home. We have tea, hot chocolate, lemonade and treats on Tuesdays and read poetry or lyrics to songs. When we were in England we made sure to have high tea and brought home some special souvenirs to keep our holiday alive just a little longer.

 

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Poetry Teatime Tuesday special treat

 

DOT: My eldest daughter just finished reading Don Quixote and recently attended the  Carolina Ballet perform it as well. (Spain, 1600’s.)

DOT: In the story, Georges, the main character is confiding to Lord Murray that he intends to duel his nemesis to win Sara’s (his love) hand in marriage from Henri (to whom she is already engaged.) Henri is of no masculine threat to Georges. Lord Murray makes a comment to Georges that perhaps he not worry about Henri as he is like a “windmill and not a giant.” This subtle little reference could have been so easily glossed-over and missed if it were not for my eldest.

CONNECT THE DOTS: Kayah giggled and ‘got it’ straight away! She explained to us that in Don Quixote he is preparing to fight a “giant” that turns out to be nothing but a mere windmill. Thus, the author was implying Henri maybe should be of little concern to Georges…nothing but a mere windmill.

 

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Kayah sharing the passage from Don Quixote during our read aloud this week.

 

All of these dots connect to create an image of connected context (that is some serious alliteration!) I may be a total dork, but I love when that happens.

These are the AH-HA moments that can never be planned – learning that occurs across curriculum.  THAT is exciting! Subjects never seem independent of one another, but connected.

One of my favorite questions to ask the girls when we are exploring a new topic is “what was going on in the United States at this time…” I love this question because sometimes the USA was not even an idea and other times they can connect the global dots of what was occurring during the many phases of the United State’s maturity – a layering of history.

If you are looking for some ideas to study this time period, here are some links to product we enjoyed! You can just click on the image for links or more information or select the links in the text above.

(All  amazon links are affiliate links.)

Henrietta

Hey all,

On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I agreed to a short-story challenge.  The challenge was to create and illustrate a short story by January 31st.

Without further adieu, meet “Henrietta.”

Rock on! Vickie

20180121_153120 Continue reading

Road Trip USA – Day Twelve & Thirteen “Carlsbad Caverns”

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Chili vs. Chile

I ate Hatch green chile for the first time on July 13, 1998. I had moved to Albuquerque, NM in 1997, reluctant to try ‘chile.’  Being raised in the Ohio, “chili’ was something we ate on Sunday afternoons, in a pot, with beans, ground meat and crackers while watching the groundhog day Cleveland Browns almost take us to the Superbowl with my family.

As a staff nurse,  I was given (not offered as declining wasn’t an option) a green chile breakfast burrito from the Frontier Restaurant from a hospital administrators on a jet plane ride to select new hospital beds for our unit.  Feeling cornered, I politely unwrapped the shiny foil wrap and took a small bite.

It was the best thing I had ever eaten in my life – scrambled eggs, cheese, and green chile…so spicy, so good.  I could not stop thinking about that burrito. From that day forward (for almost 12 years), Quinn and I ate a breakfast burrito from the Frontier every single Sunday.  Like the many that have gone before me, and they many that will come after, an addiction was born.

The Frontier Restaurant, located on old Route 66, across from the University of New Mexico campus is a place you must visit if you go West – it is quite the operation to witness. In operation since 1971 it is open seven days a week from 5am-1am! Frontier Restaurant  Opening the doors, you may see a line a mile long that wraps and twists through the various rooms of the restaurant and will be in awe of the lightening speed service that moves everyone to green chile comas.  Not only is the chile amazing, but they sell a cinnamon bun (a.k.a. the cardiac bun or sinamon bun) that was never meant to be eaten by just one person (but trust me, you can!) and they have this mesmerizing fresh squeeze OJ machine that produces the best Orange Juice Ever.

It’s were the locals go.

There are two types chile, green or red, and it is THE condiment (some would argue a food group) in New Mexico.  Many love one or the other, and even more order ‘christmas‘ which would be both red and green chile on everything from their eggs to pizza! Each Fall, New Mexicans enjoy the constant aroma of roasting chiles outside, 24/7.

Today we began another day of driving to Albuquerque.  Logistically, we had to once again change out our rental vehicle to save money.  We returned our rental and picked up a new one.  When you pick up and return your rental vehicle at the same location it is always less expensive.  We changed vehicles a total of three times on this road trip.

Immediately after the rental car exchange we headed to the Frontier! After our fix, we began our drive to Southern New Mexico to take the kids to Carlsbad Caverns.  This drive was a long one – New Mexico does not offer the same land features as other drives we experienced – it was flat, open and much of the same – with not much to do between destinations.

Carlsbad Caverns is a magical place in Southern New Mexico that has over 100 caves for exploration.  In addition, each evening there is an evening bat flight program. Carlsbad Caverns We planned our trip to arrive in Carlsbad to catch the nightly bat program and then return the following day to explore the caves.

The bat flight program is a free event that takes place from May-October each year.  A park ranger conducts a talk on bats and describes what to expect at the sun set – hundreds of thousands of bats emerge from their slumber to a night of feasting. While it is difficult to provide an exact number, estimates have ranged from 300,000-400,00 bats. The mass exit takes between 45-60 minutes.  The caves are migratory homes to the Mexican free-tail bats.

We sat in an outdoor amphitheater right outside the cave entrance and waited with hundreds of other vistors hoping the evening would provide the conditions that would entice the bats from the darkness. After an educational session, questions and strict viewing instructions we waited…and, then a few dark flutters emerged! We sat in awe of what felt like an unending cloud of bats that flew right over our heads and out into the night sky.  Magical experience.

The next day, we woke up and returned to the Caverns and participate in a self-guided tour. Quinn and I had been there before and remembered it being an amazing experience, but crowded.  Today, we hit the jackpot!  As we began our descent into the cave, we discovered we were almost ALONE.  Aside from maybe two other families, we had this amazing cavern to ourselves!  It was eery, quiet, mystical…perfect.

We had planned on staying 1-2 hours and ended up leaving over 4 hours later.  We just took indulgent time and the kids loved it.  My oldest ran out of camera space!  Talk about a field trip!  Here they were seeing firsthand stalactites, stalagmites and columns.

At the conclusion of the tour, we took the elevator back to the surface and visited the gift shop for souvenir shopping. Once again, entrance to this park was free with our 4th grader National Park Pass. 4th Grader Park Pass

We headed back to our hotel and went to sleep for the final night of our vacation.  Tomorrow we would head back to Albuquerque to stay with our old neighbors, Sherry and Tom.  We planned to visit friends and places with the kids and enjoy a day of reconnecting and reminiscing.  So hard to believe our two weeks was coming to an end…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gifts of Grief.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear” – C.S. Lewis

Unfortunately, grief cannot be scheduled from 2-4pm on a Sunday afternoon.  No. Grief is the visitor that will arrive and paralyze your breath while folding laundry.  It will sucker-punch your heart when you hear a song.  It will bath your day in melancholy on Christmas.  Grief shows up and she doesn’t consider timing.

In the first few months after my mother’s death I hated everything.  I couldn’t believe I could go the grocery store and people were smiling and buying groceries!  I wanted to scream, “Don’t you know? My mom died!”

I wanted every 1st holiday following her death cancelled. Christmas was horrible.  We sat under our tree and did nothing but cry the entire time.  It was terrible.  There was no joy.  The holiday glue was painfully absent.

Slowly, over time, a new normal began to emerge and while I still could not find comfort or peace in my home, I began to grow as a human being and develop the skills I would need to enter adulthood.

Losing my mother as a young girl has been the biggest loss of my life.  When she died I felt alone.  None of my friends had experienced what I went through.  Some of my friends had experienced the concept of loss through divorce.  But, no one close to me had had their mother die. I felt alone and very misunderstood.  Lost. Scared. Abandoned.  And, Life kept going.

We buried my mom on a Saturday and I was in school Monday.  As I walked through the halls and attended classes no one said a word.  How strange. I understand many didn’t know what to say and I am not criticizing, just sharing that when someone has experienced the death of a loved one your acknowledgment will not make anything worse.  They already feel their worse.  They want to know they are seen, not alone.

I am beginning to see some of my friends lose their mothers or fathers, and for many, entering the all-consuming process of grief.  Grief has no end point.  You will feel joy again and you will be happy, but there will forever be this small raw sad pulsating spot in your heart.  It will beat softly, always,  and at times resonate like a kettle drum.

“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts” – George Eliot

When a loved one dies, there are logistics that need to be handle and there is the business of final arrangements .  I think this is good.  You need something to remind you to breath.  To get up, brush your teeth, get dressed. Rinse and Repeat. However, Monday will come.  Your friends go back to work and you sit with this grief, alone.  It is a personal relationship like no other.

Life is relentless and will not stop for your loss. Grief is no different.  It is relentless and will never end.  Allow it.  Receive her when she knocks.  Cry.  Be angry.  Smile.  Acknowledge it – Grief isn’t always sad.

Grief, to me, is like any other emotion with one painful caveat – you will only understand this emotion when you experience the loss of someone you loved dearly.  It is a bittersweet gift.

Not one of us will escape grief.  It is inevitable.  Someday you will hear or witness your biggest loss.  Grief will knock and you will open the door to a place you could never prepare to greet.

Many times, I feel so fortunate I was able to experience this type of loss at the tender, naïve age of 14.  Young enough that I truly had no big picture understanding of the what I was losing (yet).  I find now, years later, as a mother, I grieve her in new and different ways.

Grief will also brings you gifts.  When you lose someone you love, not much will really ever rock your world again.  Once you survive your worst fear or pain, you may learn first-hand that aside from your health and relationships, nothing else really is a big deal –

I have found grief offers us three beautiful packages for living a more meaningful, joyful and empowering life if we are able to receive.

Perspective. Gratitude. Resilience.

Gift One: Perspective. This is a precious gift I can thank my mother for daily. Truly, there is not much that rocks my world. I can fathom a few, but for the most part, I don’t complain. I can see a silver lining in just about any situation. Life is a gift.  Time is relentless. Time is a constant reminder that life is finite. Time does not lie.  Time does not play.

Don’t waste your life wishing it away or failing to recognize the beauty of another day.  Even the messy part.  The messy part is where the growth and deepening of the soul has greatest potential. My mother would have done anything for another day with us – you do have today – live well!

Perspective is like the best human super-power, ever.

Gift Two: Gratitude.  When I wake up in the morning, before I even put your feet on the floor, I try to remember to take a deep breath and say “thank you.”  To be given the gift of another day…say thank you.  I take a daily morning walk to connect with nature – It is the time were I commune with nature and feel my version of God.

Sometimes it so easy to find yourself caught up in the aggravations, irritations and demands of your day, but if you practice the gift of gratitude you will quickly realize there is always something to be grateful for.  I am sure my mother would be grateful for a day of aggravation, irritation and demands if it meant to also experience more time with the people she loved and to witness the beauty of another sunset.

Gift Three: Resilience. The third gift you may receive is the nurturing of resilience. Nothing tests your inner strength more brutally than grief.  Grief is like the moonIt waxes and wanes but even during the month when it becomes invisible to the eye, it is still there.  Grief will always remain, but you will find in each day you continue to face your pain your confidence in facing any challenge in life will increase and be ready for whatever hand life deals next.  Resilience can be your greatest strength.

I would not be who I am or be living the life I am without my mother’s death and allowing grief to enter my heart.  My mom left to allow space for me to grow. Such a blessing.

my mom and grandpa spencer

My Mom & her Dad.  My mother lost her mom before she was 10.  A legacy of loss I have broken.

To all of you grieving or facing the loss of someone you love, know you are not alone. Be gentle with yourself today and always. Grief may come when you least expect it, or have poor timing, but at those moments open the door…

Grief is like the ocean;

it comes on waves ebbing and flowing.

Sometimes the water is calm,

And sometimes it is overwhelming.

All we can do is learn to swim.

        – Vicki Harrison