Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why are Inspirational Journeys a Growing Trend?

This month, I got Dr. Nixon to explain this growing trend with professionals, who are getting away from their daily environments and going off on inspirational retreats.  With an increasing need to unplug and decompress, more people are seeking getaways that focus on mind-body wellness, meditation, and an appreciation for our natural surroundings.  Here is the video from our segment:

Regina DeMeo's interview with Dr. Nixon about Inspirational Journeys: via @youtube

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Forgiveness As a Key to Success

The Pros & Cons of Dating on a Mission

I have said this many times before, and I have no problem admitting this once again from the start-- I am not a fan of dating with a mission.  While I am all for knowing your must-haves and can't stands, I really dislike the notion of dating with an end-game in mind.  The problem I have with this theory is that I think people run the risk of letting the desired result cloud their judgment.  People who want to get married, want to have kids, want to be done with 20 questions, may dismiss perfectly good people if they are not on board with their timeframe.  So, let's take a deep breath and think this through.

Pros of Dating with a Mission:
1.  You aren't going to mess around with players or ones that just want to casually date (unless of course, that is the mission);
2.  You will focus when you come across a decent candidate;
3.  You should be able to clearly identify your priorities;
4.  You won't be wasting others time and money;
5.   Commitment should not be an issue, at least on your part.

Cons of Dating with a Mission:
1. You may come across as too rigid or scare people off. 
2. When you are too focused on the end, you may not allow yourself to enjoy the journey.
3. You are less open-minded when you are on a mission. 
4. You may prematurely close off some options.  Some may just need more time to catch up.
5.  You run the risk of being sorely disappointed when things don't go according to your schedule.

It is hard to believe that this alpha female is so carefree when it comes to dating, but that is because I've already accomplished my mission-- I already walked down the aisle and was with my partner for 12 years; we had a child together, and I'm no longer in the business to breed.  At this point in my life, I think it is okay to just have fun-- as long as you are responsible about it.  Be honest with the other person about where you are in your journey, and if they can ride along side you, great.  If not, don't despair, there are plenty of fish in the sea.  Have fun fishing!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Connecting the Dots

Yesterday, I received the cover illustration to my children's book.  I have to say, it was quite a thrilling moment, and it was great to finally share this project with some of my friends and relatives, many of whom were unaware of this new task that I've taken on outside of my law practice.  To be honest, it is something my son asked me to do a while back because he wanted me to share the story about finding my family with children.  I decided to take on this project to teach him that when you have a cool idea, you  need to see it through the various phases until it is finished.  Of course, because this is way outside my area of expertise, it has taken me quite a while to identify a co-author/editor, illustrator, etc.  After outlining the storyline, I had to go through all my albums-- four decades worth of photos-- in order to map out my life's story in pictures.  To see it all now come together, I must admit, is pretty awesome.

The little gymnast that traveled the world in search of every award possible has finally grown up.  All those trophies, medals and certificates are actually in storage now, but what you see prominently displayed in my home are the pictures of all my family members--these are the people I needed to find and make peace with in order to fill the void in my heart.  To forgive all past transgressions and find redemption in the eyes of both my makers, that was the ultimate test I had to pass.  As I connect the dots now, I can see exactly how this hard-learned lesson played itself out over the past four decades, and I believe it is an important one to share with others who may get so distracted by the shiny prizes that the rat race has to offer that they may lose sight of what really matters in life.

Mapping out the last 30 years, from where my original gifts and personality started to become quite evident to where I am now has been a great exercise, and one that I would encourage all my peers to go through-- even if you never intend to go that extra step of making it a story you share openly with the public.  It is a worthwhile exercise for any of us hitting the "mid-life" point in our journey to connect with our past, see where we are now, and then question where we want to head in the future.  While the past does not define us, it does give us great clues about our true self-- and bringing back to life those purest parts of our own inner child might just be the key to success going forward. 

So maybe this Memorial Day weekend, as we remember fondly those who fought for our country, we can also take a moment to remember ourselves and work on that connect the dots project.  If you don't like the picture you see, envision a larger canvas and start forming new dots.  You can change the final image with just a litte imagination and a tremendous amount of courage.  Finding the courage-- that is really key.   

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sexual Escapades- where do you draw the line?

Let's face it, after 15 years I've just about heard or seen it all as a divorce lawyer.  Unlike most in this town, I actually do know what goes on behind close doors.  You can talk to me about multiple affairs, threesomes, swinging, cross-dressing, whatever, it's not going to make me blush at work.  I've learned to suspend all judgment and maybe even freed myself of some of that old Catholic guilt that I grew up with-- but let's be real, I know that my family reads this blog, and I'm not going to dish about my past exploits here, although I must give props to my Jerry Maguire (who had me at hello) and Christian Grey (who was much gentler than the version in 50 Shades of Grey) for broadening my horizons in my late 30s.

Nooners on the Hill really do happen, and many people in DC have a friend with benefits on speed dial.  Scenes like the ones in House of Cards really do occur on a regular basis here.  These are the facts of life, especially here in our nation's capitol.  Again, I'm not here to pass judgment, but I do think we need to ask ourselves: where are we going to set the limits in our own lives?  Who cares what the rest are doing? Focus on what you yourself can live with or not.

For people in political office, however, there is an especially difficult burden that they must bear.  The lines between their personal and professional lives are extremely blurred.  They have chosen to be public figures, and that means someone will always be watching.  A life as a public servant is not an easy one, and these people will find themselves at a far greater risk of getting caught for their indiscretions.  Knowing this, I encourage those with political aspirations at the earliest age possible to start practicing discretion.  Watch what you post, what you share, what you tweet-- keep your guard up at all times.  Control what you share, and beware of what your friends are sharing. 

I think more and more people are adopting my attitude that we are really in no position to judge what someone else decides to do in the privacy of their own house-- but I do think we continue to hold our politicians and celebrities to a higher standard.  Those that are taking on a position as a role model need to fly under the radar with their sexual escapades.  Americans seem to be gaining ground in their tolerance  of varying sexual attitudes, but not with those in high-profile positions.  Of course, Weiner might prove me wrong.... let's see how he does in NY.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Diamonds in the Rough

Let's face it, until we hit our late 20's, we are all diamonds in the rough.  When I met my ex-husband, I was 20 years old-- not even done with college, nothing in savings, and no idea where I was going to work after graduation.  I mainly wore jeans and had never been to a gala in my life.  Obviously the guys I date now are getting involved with a completely different person.

What I cherish most about the love story with my ex-husband is that he truly just loved my company.  We may not have had much in the beginning, but we had each other.  Meanwhile, his mom, whom I deeply admired, was an important executive in the retail world, and she is the one who took me under her wing and introduced me to fashion, make-up and spas.  One could say she is greatly responsible for polishing the stone her son found.

I got married while I was still in law school, and I didn't even have a clue what type of law I wanted to practice.  To my husband, that didn't matter, as long as I was happy.  That unconditional love and support is what became the wing beneath my wings that allowed me to fly.  Fifteen years later, even though we are not together, I look back with great fondness at that young love because it is truly special-- and it is also quite painful, because I've had to accept that it will never, ever be recreated again in this lifetime.

Dating after your mid-30's, people can and will make a lot of assessements about you at record speed-- based on where you live, work, and what you do in your free time.  Those of us that are pros at 20 questions can get all the basics within the first 15 minutes to determine whether it is worth investing any further time or not with you.  So, not to be harsh, but let me be clear-- you need to be the shiniest diamond possible when you are out there in the dating world, and please, please (especially the ladies) do not be stupid enough to think that someone over 35 can still be a diamond in the rough.  By this point, you have either been polished, or not.  You either have style, or you don't.  You either have honed in on your true beauty (and I'm not talking about the external packaging) or you haven't.  You have either figured out your crap, or you haven't. 

At our age, if you can't accept the package the way it is presented, you need to move on.  If you really feel the urge to take on a new project- my advice is to go get a pet.  Puppy-training techniques are best applied on dogs, not dates.  Also, at least when they pee on your carpet, you won't blow your lid.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Forgive, But Never Forget

Today, I was honored to present to the Fresh Start students of Living Classrooms on the subject of forgiveness.  Unlike the common adage "forgive and forget," I have a very different take on forgiveness. 

Forgiveness-- what is it NOT:

1. it is not about forgetting;
2. it is not about excusing bad behavior;
3. it is not about becoming vulnerable again; and
4. it is not about continuing to have a relationship with someone.

What is it about then?  It is a process of leting go.  It is multi-layered.  It is an individual choice-- no one can force it on you.  There is a difference between acknowledging someone's apology and accepting it-- and a lot depends on the reasons behind the apology.  Is someone truly seeking forgiveness or do they just want to sleep better at night because life is all about them?

Forgiveness is a key component of love, and it is necessary to finding peace.   It is a gift-- mainly to yourself.  It is about putting something behind you so that you can move forward.  More than anything, it is meant to lighten your load.  Holding grudges is a heavy burden to bear, and it will wear you down.

There are 3 steps to forgiveness:
1. Identify the source of anger/pain;
2. try to understand a person's motive or intent;
3. Weigh your options and find the best workable solution for you.

While doing this exercise, try to keep the 3 Ws in mind:

WHO was it that hurt you?  It makes a difference whether it is someone close or a stranger.  The latter don't really rank, and they are much easier to cut out of your life.
WHAT was the transgression?  Was there an agreement that was breached or were expectations not met?
WHY did this happen?  Was there a breakdown in communication?  Maybe a misunderstanding?  I'm willing to cut someone a lot more slack when they are just clueless-- but intentional acts of cruelty require a zero-tolerance policy.

Unfortunately, our modern society embraces a win-lose view of the world.  Darwin's survival of the fittest theory is being taken to all new extremes.  The sink or swim mentality is quite prevalent, especially in corporate America, and we see forgiveness as a sign of weakness.  In fact, we view emotions as a sign of weakness. 

To forgive, you need to work through your emotions.  It is a complicated process that requires an open mind, and an open heart.  To do so, you may need to reach out to others and get some inspiration from their stories about the power of forgiveness.  Sharing mine today, hopefully I helped these young men with a troubled past move a little bit closer towards a more peaceful and promising future.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Special Father's Day Ahead

It's been 40 years now that I have lived with only one name on my birth certificate-- but that will soon be fixed next month.  For those who missed the posts from two years ago, I will quickly summarize this soap opera story: my parents met on a cruise ship 40 years ago, and 9 months later I was born out of wedlock.  To spare me any pain, I was told growing up that my dad was dead.  Funny thing about secrets-- most eventually do come out, and after many years of unanswered questions, I finally tracked him down and took a DNA test in March 2011.  The story does have a very happy ending, and I suppose I could just leave it at that, but there is something to be said for having it officially recognized-- even if it is four decades after the fact!

So, next month I finally have a hearing date in New York, where hopefully a judge will enter an order adding my father's name to my birth certificate.  I can only hope this goes through without any further issues, because honestly I've been through enough melodrama to last me a lifetime getting to this point.  The funny thing is, as a family law attorney, I can truly appreciate just how far our court system has come in terms of helping single mothers over the last 40 years.

Did you know that DNA testing only became available in the early 70's and was not used back in my time a standard operating procedure?  Unwed moms like my mom were denied certain health coverage and free legal assistance.  As a result, my mom had to pay for her own hospital costs and hire a private attorney to help her track down my father for support.  Through a series of very unfortunate events, paternity was never established, and for 38 years I just wondered what on Earth happened to cause things to go so seriously wrong in my case?  Thankfully, this should not happen in today's times, where DNA testing is offered at the courthouse as soon as a paternity case is filed, and Child Support Enforcement should be able to assist parents free of charge with obtaining support-- even across state lines.

In two weeks, I'll be doing a tv segment for my show all about the wonderful services the courthouses can provide for citizens, and in the meantime behind the scenes, I will anxiously await my own court order finally granting me the right to add my beloved father to my birth certificate.  Everyone now realizes just how much I am daddy's little girl, but this Father's Day I'm hoping we can make it official.  I guess it is true, better late than never.  :)  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

10 Signs You Are Falling Out of Love

We all fall in love for different reasons and in different ways, but there is definitely a distinct pattern that we all follow when things go south.  How do I know?  Because I've seen this every single day for the last 15 years as people explain to me how they find themselves in my office talking about divorce.  The fact is rarely do marriages or committed relationships unravel overnight-- it is usually a slow but steady build up of dissatisfaction.  Finally, an event will occur that may in itself seem insignificant, and yet it becomes the final straw that breaks the camel's back. 

Here are the top 10 signs (which I posted a while back) that you are getting ready to blow:

1. When things you once found funny about that person are now annoying;
2. When making plans becomes a chore;
3. When you have lost interest in being intimate;
4. When your eyes start to wander, or worse;
5. When receiving texts, emails or calls becomes annoying, and you cannot bear to deal with responding;
6. When finding a gift for a special occassion becomes an overwhelming burden;
7. When that person has ceased to make you feel loved or special;
8. When you no longer care whether you connect or not;
9. When you have become two ships passing in the night, not even exchanging basic pleasantries; and
10. When you no longer like the person you have become in the relationship.

If you dread going home and find excuses to work late-- ask yourself, what is really going on?  When the world outside feels safer than your own home, which is supposed to be a sanctuary, you've got a serious problem at hand.  The ostrich syndrome will not work, it never does, so I'm all for trying to address the issues, but 9 out of 10 times things are well beyond repair if you are already experiencing 5 or more of the symptoms described above.

Is it easy to leave?  Of course not, but you only have one life.  How will you ever find true love or at least happiness and peace while you allow yourself to remain a prisoner in a situation devoid of love or passion?  And as a parent, more importantly, you have to ask yourself what kind of example are you setting for your kids?  If they see you remaining stuck in a crappy situation-- how will they ever find the courage to find their own wings and fly?

One day, maybe I'll find a companion that will fly along side me, but until that day comes, it is my ongoing labor of love to help my child and my clients grow their own wings. The key is overcoming the fear of flight-- after that, each one of us can develop an appropriate flight pattern that is right for us.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

What's the Deal with Summer Break-Ups?

Lots of parents choose to wait until the school year ends before calling it quits.  Why?  Because they don't want to create any chaos in their children's lives while they are in school and potentially risk a dip in their academic performance.  While this makes perfect sense, there is one big problem that parents need to be aware of: during the school year, kids are surrounded by their friends and school counselors, who can all provide emotional support for them in a time of need.  If parents are going to split during the summer, they need to make sure that their kids have sufficient emotional support to process what is happening as the family restructures and establishes a new norm.
Children generally crave consistency and stability.  Therefore, the best thing parents can do is create a shared narrative, and jointly reassure kids that (1) they will continue to see both parents; (2) their lives will continue to be the same as much as possible; (3) the break-up is NOT their fault.   Kids don't need to know all the details-- they really just need to know how the separation will impact them, and parents need to work on filtering as much as possible.  Picture yourself as a Brita filter-- take that not so clean water, and try your best to purify it for your kids!
My final words of wisdom with respect to summer break-ups is to make sure to let kids have fun.  Take them to the beach, amusement parks, etc.  Stick with your traditions as much as possible.  We need to show them through our actions, not just words, that it will all be okay.  As Dr. Emery often says, children are resilient.  Parents just need to model an appropriate attitude.  Life is full of changes, and sometimes setbacks.  Showing your kids how to handle adversity is one of the best life skills you can pass down to them-- and if you need help, that's fine-- that is why experts in this field exist.  We can help you through it, so you don't have to face this by yourself. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Getting Divorced Without Breaking the Bank

In almost every other aspect of our lives, we know exactly how much we are paying when we purchase something-- except in the legal services industry.  I can see how it would be very disconcerting for clients to not know exactly how much a divorce is going to cost them, and these days in particular most people are spending money cautiously.  So, how can you keep costs down?  Easy- the more you do yourself, the less you'll spend.  Here are some tips:

1. Flat fees- At the initial consult, if you want to just have an agreement written, like a prenup or Separation Agreement, ask if the attorney can do this on a flat-fee basis.  I do this a lot, and it is nice not worrying about keeping track of charging for emails/calls because there are none.  One consult fee, on document prep fee, and I'm done.  We all walk away happy. 

2. Online forms- See if there are court forms online, and then a lot of people just come to me for a 30 minute consult to ensure they have prepared everything correctly.  Again, this is super easy for me-- and  super cheap for the client.

3. Mediation- If you and your spouse have some unresolved issues, try mediation.  When I am acting as a mediator, each party pays half my fee, and usually in a few sessions we have worked through everything, and they walk out with an Agreement (something that non-lawyers cannot provide.)  Clients love this pay as you model, and I actually prefer the face-to-face meetings versus keeping track of emails, calls, etc.

4. Collaborative /Cooperative Approach- The more you can agree to do together, like hire one mental health professional to work out your Parenting Plan, or one financial neutral to help you identify and value the joint assets, the more you will save on attorney's fees.  If you are able to address your issues outside of court without going through formal discovery, you should be able to save significantly.  It's the legal brawls in the court room that have the hefty sticker prices.

5. Set Realistic Budgets- I try to set realistic expectations upfront.  Calls and emails will add up, so you need to ask yourself is it really worth $35 or more for me to send this email or call my attorney?  Can you really afford $300/hour or more?  Knowing that the average trial costs $20,000 per person, you have to ask yourself whether you are willing and able to spend that kind of money.  Make sure you have a way to finance it all-- because guess what?  Attorneys will fire clients and stop work if they don't get paid.  Harsh, but true-- law firms are not in the money-lending industry.  We provide legal services, and those services are not cheap.

In the end, the wealthy can do whatever they want, and the truly poor may be able to get free legal aid, but most of us are somewhere in the middle-- what a lot of us refer to as the "working poor."  We make enough to meet our every day expenses, but not enough to finance a super expensive legal case.  Luckily, there are affordable options, as mentioned above.  So if you need to get out, don't despair-- you just need to find an attorney you like and together figure out an option that works best for you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Importance of Gratitude

For as long as I can remember my grandmother, who recently passed away a few months shy of her 98th birthday, would always give thanks for each meal and a safe place to sleep each night.  She was one of the happiest people I ever met in my life, even though she did not have much money or a high school degree.  Her happiness was never tied to any material things-- it was her family, friends and daily good deeds that brought her joy.  It's taken me years to appreciate the wisdom in her approach to life, but I'm so glad I get it now.

It's so easy to get caught up in the rat race, and to always want the next coolest toy.  Keeping up with the Joneses is a trap we can all easily fall into, often without realizing it.  This is indeed the plan-- for all of us to unwittingly come to think of things as necessities, and then we become endentured servants to others so that we can continue to maintain a certain lifestyle.  The key question we must never forget to ask ourselves is what is the true cost to us?  Everything has a price, so the important point to remember is that we need to carefully consider whether something is really worth that price.

There are a lot of things that seemed so important in my 20's and 30's that now looking back are just plain dumb.  All the spas, shows, luxury hotels, fine dining, fancy clothes, cars, homes, trips, were all actually failed attempts to fill a void.  While I do remain grateful for all of these experiences, these days I am far more appreciative for the things I used to take for granted-- a good meal, a fantastic group of friends and family, and a safe place to crash at the end of the day. 

My grandmother may not have left me anything tangible upon her death, but what she left behind was far more precious.  She set a beautiful example for me of how one should live, and I am eternally grateful that her core values live on in me.  When in doubt, her voice still soothes me and memories of her smiling console me.  Gracias Abuela!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

We Are All a Work in Progress

Whether we like it or not, change is a normal part of life.  Some of us embrace change, others resist it-- either way, a whole flurry of emotions will come bubbling up to the surface.

As a divorce attorney, I've guided countless people through major life changes over the last 15 years, but my original training in law school was to keep emotions out of legal negotiations-- emotions are bad, they cloud our judgment, and no good can come of that when you are dealing with high-stakes litigation, especially in family law.  Now, I've always had a natural tendency to compartmentalize emotions, so unraveling domestic partnerships is not difficult for me-- it's the client-management side that presents the more challenging piece to my cases.

About 9 years ago, when my son was born and my marriage unraveled, a funny thing happened-- I learned the downside to burying emotions.  The fact is that to successfully navigate the complexities of life, you have to pay attention to your own feelings and process your emotions, so that you can be true to yourself.

While working on my own self-awareness project, my professional studies over the past decade focused on what makes relationships work and what makes them fall apart-- and there is definitely a connection.  Until you understand your own needs and wants, managing a relationship will not be easy.  There really is a science to it, and gurus like Gottman and Chapman make it very easy to comprehend some of the core concepts.

I've now lost count of how many psych books and seminars I've attended while pursuing my training in Collaborative Law and mediation.  As I continue to learn more and work along side some of the best mental health professionals in the DC Area, I can definitely see a transformation.  I am not the person I once was, and while there remains much progress to be made, I can appreciate how far I've come on my journey.  I don't run from emotions any more, and I've learned the importance of processing feelings.  I now appreciate the need to unplug-- to step away from the rat race, get away from your every day surroundings and reconnect with nature.

Now let me be very clear-- you are not going to see me all of the sudden quit my day job to become some yoga instructor out on the West Coast.  I'm also not planning to take a year off to go travel around the world like Liz Gilbert, who then wrote "Eat, Pray, Love."  I am a divorce lawyer, and I like what I do-- it's just that I've learned a gentler way to address conflict, and I no longer run from or try to shut down my clients' emotions.

Learning to be mindful and developing more of a mind-body connection is an ongoing work in progress that many of us will embrace at some point in our lives-- especially those of us that embrace change and seek meaning in life.  Fortunately, there are many wonderful guides trained to assist those seeking a better understanding of themselves.  One such person is Dr. Suzanne Nixon, who created Inspirational Journeys, and she is this week's guest on my tv show.  Among the many great points she makes is that to find your inner voice sometimes you have to escape and leave behind all the false promises of external fulfillment provided by modern society.  

Another great point that we make on this week's show is the need to listen more to your body-- your gut instincts are an important survival skill.   If you are finding that you've lost your appetite, maybe that is a sign that there is something going on in your life that you just can't digest, and until you find a way to make sense of it all, your body is going to continue to send you a distress signal.  Experts like Dr. Nixon emphasize that the more you can harness the strength between mind and body, the greater your ability to respond (and conquer) both external and internal threats.

Wherever you may be on your self-awareness journey, just remember we are all a work in progress.  Take deep breaths, make sure to care for yourself and take things one day at a time.  Finding balance is not easy, but it is attainable-- if you have an open mind and never let yourself lose hope.

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Impressions/Last Impressions

We've all heard that first impressions are important-- both at work and in our personal lives.  Most of us strive to show up on time, well-dressed and attempt to put our best foot forward when meeting someone for the first time.  Not much is said, however, about how we should end things, except in business they always recommend that you try not to burn any bridges when you leave.  Well, it is my sincere hope that more people will embrace this in their personal lives as well, but sadly emotions get out of control sometime, and some are just incapable of exiting with civility and grace.

Try to keep these things in mind:
1) It is a small world, and you never know when you might run into someone that knows an ex.
2) When you look back at your actions later, you'll feel better about yourself if there are no regrets.
3) Taking the high road is not letting someone off the hook, it's a gift to yourself that allows you to maintain your dignity.
4) If someone else is lashing out at you, it is really because they are hurt-- like a wounded animal.
5) Sometimes the best reaction is simply to not respond.  Silence is indeed golden at times.

The opposite of love is not hate, but apathy.  When you can get to the point that someone's actions no longer stir any feelings in you, that is when you know you are done.  If someone continues to try and harass or punish you for leaving, the best positive spin I can put on that situation is this: it certainly leaves no doubt that the best decision you made was to walk away. 

Most of my friends believe in karma, and I definitely have seen it in action many, many times.  For every action, there is a reaction-- especially in my legal world where everyone is under scrutiny.  But even without Big Brother watching, we should all do our best as decent human beings to try and refrain from intentional infliction of any harm.  As Gandhi said, "an eye for an eye and we'd all be blind."

We all lose sight at times of the big picture, especially when we are absorbed in the grieving process, but try to remember that the last impression we leave is what people will remember most.  Our final acts will speak volumes about our character-- much more so than in the beginning when we are on our best behavior.  We can all be good when we want something, but the question really is how will someone act when there is nothing to be gained?

There was one day a few years back that I totally lost it on someone, and I blurted out, "I'd rather chew glass and vomit than go home with you."  It was not my finest moment.  But later, realizing that I'd gone too far, I apologized.  I wasn't actually expecting him to forgive me, but I was just glad that I could acknowledge my mistake in judgment.  Guess what?  He actually did forgive me, and we have remained friends for the last couple of years.

So my final point is this-- we do all make mistakes, and people in this world are far more forgiving than many realize, but it is so much better if you can avoid having to do any repair work.  Last impressions do matter, so try your best to tie up the loose ends with a pretty bow-- it is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

My True Mother's Day Gift

Both my mother and grandmother struggled as single moms, sometimes working two jobs in order to make ends meet.  Through them I learned the importance of hard work and putting your kids' needs before your own.  Little did they know how necessary it would be for me to see them endure such hardships-- and either did I until recently.

My grandmother died a few months ago, and I will always remember how we both always had vivid dreams.  There was one that I had from 20 years ago which was our favorite:  I was walking with her along a dirt path, and suddenly we came to a fork in the road.  She started to go towards the left by herself, while I was destined to go to the right.  I didn't want to go by myself, and I started to cry.  She was adamant that it was her time to reunite with her family, but that I needed to go forward on my own path.  Pressing me close to her one last time she said, "you won;t be alone."  All of a sudden, a beautiful angel appeared- with thick blond hair and kind blue eyes, and smiling at me he said, "I will always be with you."

Twenty years later, I now understand the full meaning of that dream.  That angel is my son-- the sweet blond hair, blue eyed child, who recently spoke up and saved me from making the worst mistake of my life.  He found his voice just in time to prevent a true disaster from occuring-- and spared me years of agony.  I ignored so many red flags, but he did not-- he captured everything; meanwhile in the darkest of moments, a funny thing happened- I started praying again-- the same prayers my grandmother taught me so many years ago. 

Leaving behind the promise of a house and spouse is not easy, but my family has rallied by my side in such an amazing way ever since I called off my June wedding, and their love has just filled my heart with pure love.  Unconditional love-- that is the true gift of motherhood, and so it is with deep gratitude that I share our story with others this Mother's Day weekend.  May you all fill your hearts with joy this weekend as you celebrate with your own families.