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gifts

Binders, death, Guest Posts

The Standalone Gift

March 18, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Teri Carter.

I first saw the chair in a catalogue, the kind we all get too many of with thick red and green pages, the kind that land in our mailboxes before the holidays with a thud, the kind of shiny wish-book that draws us, even if reluctantly, into its pages in search of the elusive perfect gift.

The chair caught my eye. It was almost Christmas, my mother’s last, and she was so puffy and swollen from the steroids she hated to see herself in the mirror. She mostly complained about not being able to cook, that she “couldn’t even stand up long enough to boil soup.” She’d tried pulling up a chair but the sitting/standing/sitting/standing routine wore her out, and she’d cried on the phone with me, “I feel like I’m just waiting.” When I saw the chair I saw a solution: this adjustable, portable, ladder-like contraption was just what my mother needed. I got out my credit card and dialed 1-800.

No matter our age, it’s so hard to understand what our mothers need. Looking back, I wonder if I ever stopped staring into my own mirror—worrying about some weight I’d gained or a bad haircut or the wrong clothes—long enough to care. There would be time for that later, right? Later, there would be time?

When I was eight, I discovered my single mother was having an affair. Let’s call him Jack. Jack was married with two little kids and worked nights as a delivery driver for Purolator, a FedEx-like company, and he lived in our very small town in a nice ranch-style house you could see from the main road. Sometimes my mother and I would drive by on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to see if he might, by chance, be outside mowing the lawn or washing the car or even throwing the football with his son. Jack never waved, never acknowledged my mother or me in any way, and we didn’t wave either, but I swore I could see Jack tip his head a little and I felt my mother slow the car just a bit and, with that slowing, I felt the electricity that passed in the space between them. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing

A Letter To My 14-Year-Old Self.

December 22, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

By Anna Taylor.

My twin sister and I were born eleven weeks premature, each weighing less than a bag of sugar. We survived against all odds. However, as a result, I have cerebral palsy, affecting my legs.

Twenty years ago this week, I underwent major surgery that turned my life upside down and back to front. I never wanted the surgery but when a doctor told me in no uncertain terms, that without it, I would be confined to a wheelchair by the time I was thirty, I didn’t have much choice. I felt backed into a corner, unable to see any other way forward. I was promised greater mobility and independence than I’d had for several years and I knew that I couldn’t let that chance pass me by. I was concerned about the impact such anaesthesia would have on my already fragile stomach, but everyone put those symptoms down to my hormonal age and did not see any reason to postpone the multiple operations I needed. Continue Reading…

healing, Inspiration

Can You Look at the “Crappy” Things & Say Thank You?

October 28, 2012

I’ve been thinking lately about the things in my life that I threw my fists to the sky about and yelled: It’s just not fair! Why? Why me? Why my family? 

I have been thinking about those things, and maybe because I am about to enter the age my father was when he died, or maybe simply because enough time has passed, but I have started to find the gifts in those things.

love this poster by my bestie Karen Salmansohn of notsalmon.com

Oh, for the love of cliche, I can hear you say.

Ok, not always do I see the gifts as they happen. Not all the time. Maybe 78% of the time. Maybe 67%? Maybe 20%?

Look. I am a human being. Flesh and blood and moody and partially deaf. I still get angry sometimes when I think of my dad dying so young and I definitely miss him. I miss the idea of him all the time. Every day. That never goes away. I get annoyed that I can’t hear someone call my name. Yea. I do. Daily. But I have been able to recognize the gifts in the things in my life that I once looked upon as curses or faults.

I posed this question on my Facebook about an hour ago:

Has anything happened in your life that at the time you pereceived as “bad” “sad” “shitty” “unfair” etc which you now look at as a gift? Love to hear. Post below.

and to my delight I got such inspiring answers I felt I had to share in a blog. People being so vulnerable and open and wise. That’s the thing. The wisdom. How wise we get with time.

Does that mean the pain goes away?

No.

Not always.

But it softens around the edges and becomes bearable and eventually becomes a sigh or a nod but mostly it becomes a part of us and that part is who we are today. Right now. In this moment. 

thank you Jenni Young of Simplereminders.com

Here are some of the responses to my question on Facebook:

Has anything happened in your life that at the time you pereceived as “bad” “sad” “shitty” “unfair” etc which you now look at as a gift? Love to hear. Post below.

Alanna Jane: Becoming disabled 3.5 years ago!

Staci Pribush Job loss 2 years ago brought me to the most amazing new path!

Becky Stuto Cervical cancer. I had a hysterectomy at the age of 31 followed by divorce. This was the best thing in my life. It inspired me to live for myself, go to back to school, I remarried the love of my life, and pursue a master’s degree. I’m kicking ass.

Nicole Anderson Getting laid off in 2009 when the economy tanked. Tough time, but I grew and learned a LOT from it and would not be on the amazing path I am today had it not happened. It was a blessing in disguise!

Rachelle Smith Stokes My job right now. I see it as “Bad” but when I have time to reflect and when I am reminded, it does have some positive things I am learning from it.

Marilyn McClintic Kriz Absolutely…my marriage – I was considerable unhappy for much of it. But I received many gifts from it….the first being, of course, my children. But as far as ‘lessons learned’ gifts and personal growth, I learned about the addiction to people and relationships and how to recognize the signs and not go down that road again. I learned to follow my heart, my intuition instead of my fears when it comes to my relationships. I learned about the importance of being myself instead of who somebody else wanted me to be. I learned about the importance of communication. I learned how to end a relationship (marriage) in a constructive way. I could go on and on

Zoe Weldon Divorce and job loss lead to me living in my friend’s backyard in a tent at 33…that lead me to the most empowered, juicy, divine life. I now live near the beach, developed a gentle spiritual practice and have just started my own business. Best lessons ever.

Martha Meyer Barantovich Sexual abuse which was indeed very shitty led to bad and shitty decisions/events, but eventually taught me the meaning of strength and how to be empowered. I still learn from my life’s lessons regularly, but with power and strength!

 Rachel Michelson I’m 37 and was dx with stage IV colon cancer back in Jan. I’ll be fine. As a result, i’m so much closer to my dad–he flies from the east coast to the west coast every TWO WEEKS, so he can be here when i have chemo. and while, i don’t feel it all the time, i know this experience has made me stronger and much braver. 🙂

Fiona Williams Finally facing up to my mental health issues a couple of years ago. Still running, still hiding, but have slowed down and am *trying* to work with myself, not against myself.

Jessica Trowbridge My own parents divorced 5 times between the two of them, and my divorce was finalized just over a year ago. I have gotten to know myself SO much more than I would have without these experiences….I see people jumping from relationship to relationship (this is what my parents and ex did) without taking the time to know who they are by themselves. I realize this is easier said than done, but wouldn’t trade my self-discovery for anything! Still learning and, if I decide to enter into another relationship, I feel confident that I will be a much healthier, whole person in that coupling. Thank God.

Michelle Anderson-Weierbach I got pregnant with my 1st child at age 17. At the time I thought it was the worst thing on earth that could have happened to me. When she was born she was a sickly little rag doll, who needed tons of help and care. She was diagnosed with PWS when she was 3. All of this has been a gift and lessons in disguise for me and my family.

Lynn Marie Lost a job I had had for 18 years and loved (I was devastated), met some wonderful people at a volunteer job, time off led to new job, brought my family back together, was re-introduced to the love of my life! Life is so much better now! But if you had told me back then? I never would’ve believed it. So now, right now, I am looking at another job loss/financial desperation…but I am holding on to the knowledge of my last experience when I was in this position, and all the wonderful things that I NEVER could’ve imagined for myself….I am anxiously awaiting whatever good things life has in store for me!!!

Kristin Olson I didn’t get into top choices for college, grad school or my grad internship. Looking back though, the places I went were definitely the best choice for me but I couldn’t see it at the time. Thank you universe!

Ruthie Goldman Van Wijk Omg yes. My previous marriage falling apart horribly. And now I so happy, I teach yoga, am happily remarried, and run a yoga non-profit in Palestine!!! Wooo hoo!

Kathleen Quinn I worked for company that had layoff about 4 years ago. They had a committee that picked the people who would be laid off. They told me I was one of people they picked. At time I was surprised, upset a little bitter. I later realized that they did the right thing because I could not, in good conscience convince providers to accept their one sided contracts.

Abby Merin There’s many things I could say… but for me it’s in the past and unfortunately we can’t change what has already happened. However, what we can do is learn from our experiences, and use what we’ve learned to better our future. I’ve come out of my “storm of life” a little more stronger, a little more wiser, a little more empathetic, a little more insightful, a little more appreciative towards life (actually I would have to say A LOT more appreciative) a little more compassionate, a little more caring, a little more understanding, a little less disappointed, a little more passionate, a little more thankful, a little more loving, a little more confident, a little less selfish, a little less scared, and every little bit of what I have gained from my experience has made me who I am today. I’m making sure that I create a better version of myself…a better Abby. As my favorite lady Kelly Clarkson has said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” =)

Nicole Anderson Thanks so much for posing the question, Jennifer. It’s SO important for us to reflect on the meaning behind the challenges we face in life vs stay in a negative mindspace. We may get handed lemons, but it’s us to find the lemonade and gratitude in those experiences. You inspired and reminded many of us to be grateful for past adversities tonight, so thank you! You = ROCKSTAR!

MovingOn Cancer was the shittiest, most valuable “gift” I’ve received.

Leslie Jampolsky I thought g-d hated me when I was diagnosed with M.S. And that I could not return to work. At the time my children were 1 week old and 1 year old. When they became school aged I realized what a blessing it was to be a stay at home mom, where I could volunteer in school and be home for them when they got home from school. That I could help with their homework, cook dinners, make a warm breakfast, etc…… That is when I realized that I was truly blessed.

Andrea Rossetto Mom has kidney cancer right now, that has metastisized. She is very ill and has been hospitalized for nearly 2 weeks. This is about as horrible as it gets, feels tremendously unfair. To see her so ill is the most painful thing I have ever endured. This has been going on for 5 months. I am not grateful for a thing in this moment. Can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, feel very alone and unsupported. I hope one day I can understand why this is happening. It is excruciating and paralyzing.

~~~~~

That last one. That last one.

What I want to say to Andrea is this: I know it sucks. And it does. And it is painful and unfair and I do not know if I buy into the bullshit ( yes, I said that) that everything happens for a reason. And yes, I am really sorry that you and mom are suffering. I am no stranger to this. What I know is this: there will be a gift eventually. Whether it comes in the form of you comforting another. Whether it comes in some art you make from it, because your pain is so deep, and that, my love, is what happens to pain transformed. It becomes art. if you let it.

Do not try and be grateful now.

Go through what you need to go through and then begin to heal but meanwhile read all the above comments. I hope they provide you with a small sense of hope, even a glimmer, the size of a dime or a truck. Whatever it may be, let them instill in you the hope that you will come out on the other side and most likely a better version of yourself. We get better if we let ourselves. I know I have. And a lot of that getting better has been because of the shitty (sorry, in a cursing mood) things I thought had happened to me. Father dying, hearing loss, stepfather dying, family losing everything, nephew diagnosed with rare disorder. All of it that I wanted so badly to bury in a sack and throw in a dirty river have created the very woman who is writing to you now and sending you a big fat hug and an invitation to scream and yell and cry and write as much as you want to me.

The rest of you: Bravo.

And to me: Bravo.

I am a better person than I used to be.

Are you?

**Add yours below!!!

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