Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Changing of the Tides

A Life Free to Change as the Tides

Why is it that in some of our deepest struggles come our deepest wisdom?

It’s unfortunate that we live such a busy life that it takes the forfeit of our comfortable reality, oftentimes only to be dropped into a reality of pain, for true growth and enlightenment to occur.

I hate using the word enlightenment.

Whenever I think of “enlightenment” I think of that guy who sat meditating for like two years on a hill somewhere and finally reached “nirvana.” Who was that again? Confucius?

“Enlightenment” in that sense of the word is an achievable overwhelming wave of “life truth” that takes hold on your body, mind, and self-perceived reality.

I’m not sure I quite think that is possible in the human experience; at least without the help of several hallucinogens and psychedelics.

I do believe in deep and life altering frames of mind.

These mini-enlightenments forever change the way a person looks at their life.

A couple questions.

Can you have a TRUE altered frame of mind, without a change of action?

In other words, if your point of view, or ideas about a certain life event or process change so drastically as to mirror something close to an enlightenment, shouldn’t the way you live your life reflect that?

I would argue; not always.

In theory, we as humans would be free to change the way we live our life based on the ideas and lessons that we learn and revolutionize within our self.

However, we, at least on Earth, answer to a higher power: society.

Consider the daughter who, upon her father’s death, receives a revelation that she was no longer living to earn her father’s approval. She starts to realize all the decisions she has made her whole life that have stemmed from this mindset. She further realizes that, if her mindset had been different, and she had been working to impress herself only, she would have lived differently.

But then she perpetuates her life, still in the mindset of the daughter aching for acceptance.

Perplexing.

What good is learning if you do not change? What good is growth without action?

Why learn better ways, if we are to merely be flung back into society’s perceptions of our purpose here?

Some could say that society’s dictations of our limits are an insult to the human mind.

Society, in general, sees risk and change as incalculable. Incalculable events, society says, are bad.

Ergo, pursuing any great life change or alteration, is bad.

So basically, we are learning all this revolutionary information about ourselves, about our passions, about our purpose, and yet we are destined to dwell in the calculable. The predictable. The forseen. The inevitable.

What freedom would come from a life allowed to move and change as often as the ocean’s tides and as beautiful as a fleeting butterfly.

Yet we stay. Yet we perpetuate. Yet we detriment.

If people wouldn’t hold so steadfast to one notion of the world and one perception of the world; how free our experience here!

If pride and shame and guilt held no weight on us; what would our life TRULY look like?

Would it look like the blind following of societal rules and restraints?

Or would it look like the fullest embrace of what is set before us?

Someone told me recently that, sometimes, we put God in a box. That we limit His love to us to what society perceives as acceptable. When, in reality, that’s man’s love.

Man says you are worth what you bring to society. Man says you are worthy of love in certain parameters.

Isn’t the whole point of a TRULY all-loving God to relinquish completely man’s hold on our hearts?

I have a lot to learn about God. I have a lot to learn about life. I have a lot to learn about myself.

I can only hope that with every shed of people’s perception of my soul and being, it will bring me closer to the true path that is laid before me for my life.

Only in the shedding of the limits set before myself can I achieve my whole and true self.

Becoming she who wishes to impress and challenge herself, instead of feeding off the acceptance of others, is who I both desire and deserve to be.

A Life Without Butterflies




Mourning the Butterflies.

I’ve decided that romanticism is stupid. It’s just not fair.

We experience several levels of romantic bliss throughout our lives and the notion that it is, by scientific fact, short-lived is just annoying.

We as women, crave this romantic energy more than our male counterparts, for sure. Otherwise, I think we’d be getting a lot more picnics in the park and a lot more roses.

What I don’t understand is, WHY, evolutionarily, Biblically, whatever, WHY create something so awesome, just to take it away from us?

Most scientists and psychologists agree that romantic love is truly temporary. Some go as far as to actually put time limits on the human body’s capacity to feel a certain way prolonged over time (statistically). In other words, most studies show, that you reach a point and you’re done. Maxed out.

Others, the unarguably most pessimistic of the bunch (philosophers call them existentialists), say that romantic love doesn’t even exist, but is merely a formulated experience of your nervous system and neurons reacting to evolutionarily derived lust.

Then, there’s “first love” romantic love. The kind felt by only a young lady or man. That is almost inherently impossible to replicate as you will never be in that pure state of mind again.

The idea I most appreciate is the idea of romanticism vs. connection. In experiences where the romantic side of a relationship has ended, there is undoubtedly to survive, “a connection.”

This “connection” is supposed to be a step higher than romantic love in a way. It’s supposed to be ultimate connection and understanding and forgiveness.

That’s fine and dandy…and when ultimately achieved, SUPER amazing.

The kind of love that God feels for us as his children and the kind of love we feel for our dearest loved ones like parents and children.

However, what about the butterflies?

Are those just evolutionary temporary feelings to merely procreate and continue the species?

That’s stupid.

I’ll figure this out in the long run.

Maybe someday I will reach that point of unconditional love and I’ll know why the heck everyone is saying it is the superior emotion and connection.

But right now I am totally mourning the butterflies.

Being super honest right now, the idea, to me is super depressing.

For what is a life without butterflies?

“Some people are settling down, some people are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”
- Carrie Bradshaw/ Sarah Jessica Parker




IMAGE: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8078381@N03/3430652074/
PAREERICA; FLICKR USERNAME

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why My Dad is Cooler Than Your Dad / Happy Father's Day 2011

I have yet to write about the lessons my father has etched onto my heart and mind because, well, there are so many that I get overwhelmed with the task and then just say, “Forget it!”

So, please keep in mind that these are just a very, very select few of the lessons from David Thomas Allen Ferrick to his eldest daughter.

Lesson #1: Parenthood is less about quantity of time and more about quality of time

Yes, kids need parents to be around to make sure they get their lunch packed and hair brushed every day. Yes, parenthood is about consistency and “continuity of care.” (health care talk coming out!)

My father was not around a whole bunch when I was younger due to extraneous circumstances that don’t need to be discussed here.

However, the QUALITY of the time I spent with him was untouchable. His ability to impact (and continue to impact) my life heavily in the (relatively)short times I am with him.

This gives me great peace when I leave my house Monday through Friday and leave my son behind. I know that my relationship with my son is more about how we spend time together than how much we spend time together.

Lesson #2: Do what you love and the money will follow


My father has always been ambitious (understatement of the century), but his ambition has seldom been monetarily driven. Having said that, my father makes good money. Great money. However, it’s because he’s great at what he does. And he is great at what he does because he loves what he does. Ergo, using basic rules of logic (if a=b and b=c then a=c), love what you do = make it rain.

Lesson #3: Who you are today is not who you were yesterday and is not who you are going to be tomorrow

Simply put: people change. And change is good. Change is growth. Don’t stop growing.

And, by extension…

Lesson #3(a): Grudges are stupid and a waste of time in the long run
Lesson #3(b): Don’t hold onto the past or let past decisions/regrets define your today
Lesson #3(c): Who you are today and who you want to be in the future are NOT inconsistent anomalies

Lesson #4: Do not light a spider on fire that is on a web. This will cause both the web and your palm trees to instantly ignite into flames.

Period.

Lesson #5: Vacations aren’t for relaxing. They are for jamming in as much walking in the heat to see really old buildings (or where buildings used to be) in a 24 hour period as possible.

My dad is simply a busy, constantly engaged guy and he is never un-busy. That’s why in Italy my pre-teen sister and I begrudgingly followed our father and step-mother around sweltering heat and humidity from sun-up to sun-down in too many ancient cities. Then, it was 60% awesome and 40% what could only be interpreted as manual labor.

Now I realize that it was 100% awesome and I can only hope that I can take my kids on my very own Bataan Death March in Rome while telling them that they’ll appreciate me for it someday.

Lesson #6: You don’t need more than one small carry-on suitcase and one backpack to travel anywhere, for any period of time.

Waiting for luggage is for heathens and the lazy.

Lesson #7: You can get out of a speeding ticket and illegal u-turn charges by paying your seven-year old to act like she’s really sick
And by extension…

Lesson #7(a): Waiting in traffic is for heathens and the lazy.

Lesson #8: My dad loves me the best.
And by extension…

Lesson #8(a): Being an excellent parent requires making each child feel like they’re loved the most, when in fact, you’re all tied.

Lesson #9: Don’t be a mindless consumer / victim of the marketing world.

We were in a grocery store. I can’t remember how old I was, but I remember I was sitting in the cart front, so I couldn’t have been older than five years old.

I was complaining going down the frozen food aisle that I wanted a TV dinner.

He must have gotten annoyed, but instead of just telling me to be quiet or to stop whining he just stopped the cart and pulled out a TV dinner.

He pointed to the cartoon penguin on the front of the box smiling and waving to my cute five-year-old self.

“THAT,” he said, “is why you want this TV dinner. Does the food really look delicious? It looks gross. The people who make these TV dinners put mediocre food into a package and slap a cartoon on the front and all of a sudden I am a bad father for not giving my child a dinner that comes in a cardboard box.”

I remember getting really quiet and really digesting (no pun intended) what he had said. He was right! I never looked at Happy Meals the same.

And I will always appreciate that my dad, regardless of my age, never stooped to cliché parent-isms of “because I said so” or “I’m the parent and you’re the child.” He just spoke the truth. And it worked.

Lesson #10 (just because 10 is a good number for a list): “Everyone just wants to go home and have dinner with their families.”


Just after September 11th happened I, like many of my young peers, became instantly globally aware of the eminent dangers that were looming constantly over our nation and our lives. It scared the heck out of me! My dad just sat me down and said calmly and honestly (he always spoke 100% honestly), “Yes, Kaitlin there are a lot of people in this world who wish to do a lot of harm. But, I always think that at the end of the day everyone just wants to go home and have dinner with their families.”

I don’t know quite why, but that gave me such peace that night. The conversation has certainly stuck with me.

My dad always had the ability to talk me down off a mental cliff.

My father ALWAYS appreciates my opinion, listens to my rants/raves, honors my decisions, and treats me like an adult. When we disagree it is more about how to derive at a practical solution instead of a battle of right vs. wrong. He listens to me. He has never judged me. I am never afraid to tell him anything or talk to him about anything.

In conclusion, my dad is cooler than your dad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bubbles




Everyone loves the 2007 romantic comedy “Knocked Up.” I am no exception to this. Great movie.

However, there is one scene that lingers with me longer than the others.

There is a very honest depiction of the contrast of adulthood and childhood in a very short scene at a neighborhood park with father-of-two, Pete, and father-to-be Ben Stone.

Ben Stone: They (Pete’s young daugthers) seem to love bubbles.

Pete: Oh, God. They go (edited) crazy over bubbles!

Ben Stone: They’re really going (edited) crazy.

Pete: I mean, that’s an incredible thing about a child. I mean, what’s so great about bubbles?

Ben Stone: They float. You can pop them. I mean, I get it. I get it.

Pete: I wish I liked anything as much as my kids liked bubbles.

Ben Stone: That’s sad.

Pete: It’s totally sad. Their smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.


For some reason that scene just really resonates with me.

Now, I am not quite as bored with life as Pete is in the movie, but I really do mourn the loss of my childhood enchantment from time to time.

Remember when Christmas didn’t sneak up on you in a frantic consumer-driven rush?

Remember when testing for sharks in your blow-up pool was a life-saving necessity?

Remember when the Tooth Fairy gave you shiny quarters you felt not just rich but so special to receive a trip from a faraway pixie?

Why don’t we relish the small things? Why aren’t bubbles super cool anymore?

Not only should we enjoy the little things in the eyes of a child for our own happiness, but we are called to do so by God as well.

We are called to have faith like a child. We are called to look at God as a child with the same wonder and joy that a child laughs and frolics with bubbles.

Mark 10:13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." 16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

God isn’t saying here that you have to be of a certain age before you accept Jesus or you are condemned. What He is saying here is that in order to fully allow Jesus into your heart it requires pure, unadulterated faith.

This sort of faith is to be compared to humbling your inhibitions back to being of a child-like mind.

To God we are all his children, no matter how old.
There is a very good reason we call him, Father.

I’ll love you forever.
I’ll like you for always.
As long as you’re living, my baby you’ll be.

(Love You Forever, Robert Munsch)


You’re mission: enjoy some bubbles today. Even if it’s a hot bubble bath.

picture from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-oo/2504119100/

Things I've Learned Since I've Become a Mother

Seventeen Things I’ve Learned Since I’ve Become a Mother

1) Four Two-Hour blocks of sleep does NOT equal Eight hours of sleep
2) It’s all about the epidural
3) How much I use not-kid-friendly language
4) How amazing it is to watch a husband become a “daddy”
5) How being a good mom includes making time for mom to be herself
6) How much more you lean on your family becomes when you wouldn’t trust anyone else with your child
7) How amazing it is to watch moms become “grandma” and “nana”
8) Little babies take up BIG space in your bed
9) Sometimes you HAVE to let them cry
10) Sometimes you HAVE to hold them for three hours without moving except for back and forth
11) I’ve learned far too much about the human digestive system
12) How unfathomably and insanely lucky I am to have a partner to go with me through this crazy parenthood thing
13) How I could not do this on my own
14) How I would do this on my own if I had to
15) How much my parents were pretty much "winging" the whole process of raising my sister and I
16) How much my parents love me
17) How much God loves me

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Life Lessons: Heaven, Death & Dying

Lessons in Life: from the Elderly Community
Part 2: Death & Dying

Inevitably, one of the first questions I get asked by someone learning that I am employed in the world of assisted living is, “But isn’t it just so depressing?”

I always blissfully answer, “No! It really isn’t!”

Yes, I get attached, sometimes deeply, to residents and yes, they pass away. Often.

In my three years working between the two buildings I have met and said good-bye to hundreds of residents. Even though I always grieve for the family’s loss, I have never grieved for the resident’s fate.

I have learned so much from being around death & dying, and it is purely inspiring, and incredible. Even supernatural.

Even though I have always been somewhat faithful, I have always been stumped by the pure seemingly insane idea of heaven/afterlife.

When I was young child, I remember grasping the concept of reality and infinity and like many children and teenagers enlightened by the idea felt suffocated. It wasn’t long before a mental claustrophobia set in imagining my lifeless body in a box in the ground. I would stay awake for hours, days, agonizing and scrutinizing the utterly awful and horrific prospect of forever.

Then, as a young adult, my logical brain put death/afterlife into two categories. The first: heaven (or something like it). The second: pure nothingness. Neither idea was terrifying. Sure, one more desirable over the other, but at least I had grasped the second concept of the “forever death” enigma which is the inevitable cease of consciousness. There was some comfort in that.

That was the mindset that I owned upon entering the assisted living world. Of course, before then, I had never known someone personally who had died.

Then, after being around people who were, let’s be honest, closer to the end of the race than the beginning. Weird things started to happen.

Like, no-way-can-be-coincidence type of things.

Below is the lesson I have learned from spending time with those at the finish line.

There is undoubtedly, undeniably, 100%, absolutely, positively, for realsies, a heaven.

I know for a fact there is an afterlife now.

Not once. Not twice.

BUT EVERY SINGLE TIME that someone passes the following happens (I swear):
(Timelines are different for each people. Some people I’ve seen in certain stages longer than others. But the following is still a repeated path I see ALL THE TIME. OF COURSE, all people are different in their journey and this is no way represents every single person on planet Earth, okay?!)

#1) The person acquires a sort of calmness about them.

Some people are in this stage since they’re born. Some residents you can really see weeks to months before they pass an overwhelming calmness take hold of their personality. Sometimes it’s seen in exhaustion. They’ll say things like, “I’m just so tired.” Or people who were always annoyed when people wore slippers to the dining room just don’t care anymore.

In more extreme cases, this is seen as actual excitement to pass on. There was a resident a while back who, when you would ask, “How are you today?” She would jubilantly respond, “Good! Did you hear I’m dying?!” And there would actually be days where she would just shake her head and ask disappointedly, “Why aren’t I dead yet?!” She was genuinely disappointed to not be in heaven!

That amount of faith to me is awesomely inspiring.

It’s incredible.

#2) The person receives visitors.

This is where it gets AWESOME, because these visitors are of the not-of-this-world type. These visitors include angels, family members, and even passed away pets!

There was Clyde (*name changed*) who lived to be 105 at one of my communities. It was all that he could do to make it to the dining room, and at 105 that was quite a feat. He loved sharing meals with the other residents, so, he would come to the dining room at breakfast and stay through dinner!

I remember walking past him through the empty and desolate dining room and he (who almost never spoke) motioned at me to come near. I did.

He raised his voice louder than I had ever heard, as if talking over other people and glancing in the far corner, “Can you shut them up please?"

I responded, “Who, Clyde?” (you never argue with a resident’s reality).

He looked at me like I was insane. “Those d*** fellows playing those instruments and hollerin’!”

I just started laughing in my head!

God had sent his heavenly choir to come and sing him home and he just wanted them to shut up!

Clyde passed the next day.

I’m positive the heavenly choir sounded better in the right atmosphere.

Then there was the resident that played a full on poker tournament with his military troop for an entire week while hospice allowed him to pass painlessly (they would never take his money though that he owed them).

There was the resident who wanted a full shave despite his frail and almost transparent skin because his wife was sneaking in through the window at night. She never liked his five o’ clock shadow. His wife had been dead for decades.

#3 No fear.

I am continually inspired and so thankful for the incredible gift that these residents have given me.
God has answered the prayer that lingered in my seven-year-old-self’s bedroom walls.

Lord, make me unafraid of death.

No longer is death this great unknown and foreign nightmare.

One of my co-workers’ husband passed away this year. He was on life support for months.

She remembers him seeing their old family dog at the foot of his hospital bed ready to jump up on him. He sat up thinking he would shake the sensation. He told her that he witnessed plain as day their dog ready to play and snuggle.

She remembers him saying that his mother, a very Christian woman, always told him that she was going to be the one welcoming him into Heaven. He said he was concerned that the dog was going to jump in front of her!

In the days before my co-worker had made the horrific decision to cease life support for the love of her life, she was explaining to barley lucid man that it would mean that he would pass on. His response was three weak words: “Got to go.”

Death is a hard thing. It’s a time of mourning the loss of the relationship. For those who have lost someone close to them it can be Earth-shattering; especially if the death was unexpected or early.

Please do not take this as me slighting the loss of a loved one.

This is simply me saying from the depths of my heart.

There are greener pastures. For realsies.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We Should be Called: Generation Forced Fiscal Responsibility

I am part of a pretty financially confused generation.

Our parents were part of the “live outside of your means” group.

By this I mean barely qualifying for (and still partaking in) hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of credit limits, houses, cars, boats, vacations, etc.

We lived the good life. Especially, since as children, we had zero concept of fiscal responsibility we had even less clue than our parents that we really couldn’t afford this stuff.

Then the Great Recession struck.


Not only were we tossed out into the world in one of the hardest periods in American history to be tossed out into the world (I have friends with Bachelor’s degrees bagging groceries at Trader Joes), but the gap between where we WERE and where we ARE is, I believe, larger than many other generations due to the previously over inflated perception of wealth.
We not only needed to compensate for the gap created naturally by leaving the roost, but also we need to close the gap created by our parents based upon imaginary standards.

But we’re working smarter; not harder! Well, okay we’re working both smarter AND harder!
My generation is the generation sneaking in flasks of generic Save Mart brand gin to the clubs to mix with soda because it’s way cheaper.

My generation is the generation that has never bought lunch every day while at work (extra bonus points if you work somewhere you get a discount or a FREE meal).

My generation is the generation that habitually says “No” to Angel Cards (27.99% interest are you freaking KIDDING me?!) and leasing vehicles and new vehicles altogether.

My generation is renting homes instead of buying homes, because who knows where we’ll be in 2, 5, 10 years. We’re where the job is.

I truly believe that we will be a stronger generation for it.

We not only are working our butts off, but we have never known a time where we COULD live above our means.

We’ve tried. We got denied for that loan. Even with our 700 credit rating.

Yesterday while mall-walking with my son I noticed a fashion hat in hot pink camo that read, “Addicted to a Lifestyle I Can’t Afford” in script on the back.

My guess is that hat will be there for a while. I just don’t think it applies to the demographic.

Unless, of course, one of those I-am-Fifty-but-think-I-am-Twenty mammas get a hold of it.

Stay strong my generation of working super hard for little to no pay, no benefits, no trips to the Cape, or Christmas bonus (if a holiday party at all).

Stay strong my generation of eating in, and carpooling, and night shifts, and community clinics, and making way less than we’re worth.

Our time will come. And we will be so much more prepared for it when it does.