Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lynnie. Beautiful things. They just keep happening.

So this magical thing happened at the post office the other day.  But before that, a beautiful thing happened around Valentine's day.  This morning's "coincidence" compelled me to blog. (Okay, and how Lynn and I became friends is another beautiful story.)     I'll get to those stories, but you know me, in order to tell you those stories, I have to tell you the back story before I can tell you the post office story.

Lynnie gave me this sweet Santa last year.  He shared many Christmases with Lynn, Elise and Emily.  I finished decorating the tree yesterday and sat him next to it.

I went to sleep with Lynn on my mind.  Woke up at 4:00 this morning and was thinking last year at this time, we were planning her trunk show.  Curious, I went to Facebook to look up the actual event.   It took place a year ago today.

If you attended the show, you felt the magic.   For starters, it was less than two months before she died.  The cancer and treatments were now causing more bad days than good. I don't think it was a coincidence that she was feeling great on that particular day.

The show came about when I went to visit her and saw piles of beautiful jewelry she had been creating.  Making jewelry was her therapy--a way to express herself and live in the moment.   After the Hospice person left, we laid on her bed, stared out the window at the trees and talked about our girls--crying one minute and laughing hysterically the next.  (Another magical day.)

She  loved the idea of a holiday trunk show and Louie and Flo (her folks) went to work creating displays.  The night of the event she was feeling great and her loved ones (and their loved ones) came out in droves (there's another beautiful story involving Cheryl's mom and her connection to Lynn and her surprise visit at the show) to get some Lynn love and see her treasures.  Her inventory was quickly snatched up--women came to shop and left with wrists full of bracelets--deciding which to keep and which to give as presents.   Her treatments and the need to stay well, limited her contact with friends and extended family.  This was a night to reconnect. Flo was at the register, Louie was snapping pictures and Lynn and the girls were in the middle of it all.  It is such a sweet memory--I'll always remember it and am grateful for how the evening played  out.  After the show, she was giddy and off to the bead store with her profits.

She lived five years after getting a stage 4 cancer diagnosis.  My friends in the medical world, were always astonished to hear this fact.  She lived her final days surrounded by her loved ones and left this world on February 2nd.  (Her memorial was on the 16th...20 years to the day of my mom's passing.  See? It just keeps happening.)  This year I often see Lynn's jewelry on friends and think that not only do we carry her around in our hearts, we have something tangible to carry around to remind us that love is all that matters.  Truly.  (I'm getting closer to the post office story but you need to hear the Valentine story to get the full magic.)

On Valentine's day (two weeks after she passed) I received a package in the mail.  It was this beautiful heart necklace.  She made necklaces for her friends and had her folks mail them off to us after she passed.  Tears were streaming down my face.  It was so Lynn to think of others in the midst of her pain.  We all wore them to her memorial, connected now, forever by this amazing  friend.  I've been meaning to call the other gals to get us together, and the busyness of life has kept it on my to do list all year.

Which brings us to the post office story...

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the post office to mail something to Emy.  The holiday line extended to the door.  On my way out, Cathy (one of the other necklace recipients and organizer of the walk we did with Lynn and now continue to do to honor Lynn) was walking in.  Arms loaded with packages, we gave each other a kiss on the cheek and promised to get together with the girls.  All of a sudden, her bracelet broke and beads scattered about the post office.  Some even hit my feet. As I bent down to help her collect them, I said, "this is a Lynnie bracelet, huh?"  "Yep."  I make jewelry and was just given elastic bead string as a gift (also random, right?) I can fix this.  How about you come by the shop?" She came by with her daughter Claire a few nights later and we relived the story, now understanding that no matter how long that 'to do' list is, we will make a date to have coffee and restring her bracelet.  When we do we will talk about our friend who may not be "here" but is always here <3 
And we will laugh.  Because that and love is the legacy she left us.  Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 4, 2013


When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

I started following Brené Brown after I watched her TedX talk.    If you take a few minutes to listen to that talk, you'll understand why it has a few million hits on You Tube and why Oprah had her on her show and featured her in her magazine.
Brené  is a shame and vulnerability researcher.  

Apparently the less you want to talk about shame, the more you have it.  That was enough motivation for me.  I bought her books and began following her blog.  The Gifts of Imperfection is a quick read that had me wincing in recognition at every page.  With  humor and heart, she shares her story and in doing so encourages us to do the same. That fear we have of not belonging disappears once we share our authentic self with another human being.  I've read a lot of self-help books, but none resonated with me the way this did.  The toothpaste was out of the tube. I couldn't put it back if I tried.  I was already on a spiritual path open to looking at my shadows and willing to lay things down that were no longer serving me.  Fifty years of shame left me with a lot to process.  I appreciated the distinction she made between shame ("I am bad") and guilt ("I did something bad") In self-help speak, the shame I carried from my dysfunctional family made me a codependent people pleaser.    I was more willing to say yes and be angry than no and feel guilty.  (I wish I could remember where I heard that quote.)

To me, dysfunction is simply the pain that is carried forward in families.   We are a nation of immigrants-discontent pioneers filled with hope.    Were our grandparents looking for opportunity or a fresh start? When I see pictures of the old homestead in Norway, the dots don't connect.  Why would anyone leave utopia?  What caused my great grandmother's horrible bout of depression? How far back did it go? We are the first generation to talk  openly about such things. And the first to have tools to deal with the resulting fallout.  I'm hopeful that walking through the pain will  keep me from wallowing in it.

I love Maya Angelou's poem that reminds us that if we could have done better we would have.  Now that we know better, we can do better.  

I'm in.

Afraid, but in.