Dear MamaBear Tribe,
Graduation. My son recently graduated high school. I can't believe he's old enough to graduate. I can't believe I'm old enough to have a high school graduate. It's all unbelievable.
When he was a toddler we used to read together every day. He has always loved books. He needed me to read to him. Then he learned to read with “Dick and Jane” books. As he got older he didn't need me to read to him any longer. He still needed me in his life but he needed me a little less.
When he was an elementary school student we homeschooled and he needed me to guide him through his school day. He no longer needed me to brush his teeth and help him write and help him get ready for bed. He still needed me in his life but he needed me a little less.
When he was in middle school we still homeschooled but he no longer needed me to guide him through each lesson. He needed me to help him stay on track but he didn't need me to sit with him every step of the way. He still needed me in his life but he needed me a little less.
When he was in high school he went off to public high school. He no longer needed me to provide school guidance. We were past the point of me helping him with his homework. He learned how to make his own friends and didn't need me to make those connections for him. He still needed me in his life but he needed me a little less.
Now that he's graduated he no longer needs rides to school and me asking him if his homework is done. Does he still need me in his life? I know he needs me a little less but how much less? I know he wants me in his life but does he need me?
I hope the answer is yes. I tell myself he will always need me to love him and offer advice and be there through good and bad experiences. I know he'll continue to need me less and less but I've got to hold onto the fact that he wants me in his life whether he needs me or not.
It's hard as a mama to deal with your kids getting older and more and more independent. As a parent your goal is to raise your kids to be independent, productive, strong members of the world. On one hand you're glad they turned out so amazing but on the other hand you wish they could stay little and under your protection forever.
Graduation has given me a lot to think about. I am thankful for the 18 years I've had with my son. I am thankful that he is a kind, loving, smart, strong young man. I am thankful he still wants me to be a part of his life today. I am hopeful he will always need me to be there for him.
It's scary to let him go out into the big world by himself but I rest in the fact that I know we raised him to be ready for that. Going forward my role in his life will change but I remind myself that I will always be needed and always be wanted.
One of the most powerful tools we have in life is each other. When you’re feeling down, I lift you up. When I’m feeling down, you lift me up. That’s one of the most beautiful and complicated parts of being human - depending on others. Sometimes it’s so hard to get out of your own head, your own thoughts, your own ways long enough to see the world around you. I want to make sure to look up and really see the world around me for it’s beauty and it’s love. I think we could all really use some love and encouragement these days, so please tag me in any encouraging, motivating, uplifting, empowering, beautiful posts! I will be happy to pass them along to my tribe. Let’s make today a beautiful day by being the beauty to someone else along the way.
Dear Sarah Doggy,
I am writing to you, my sweet sweet old friend, near the end of your beautiful life. You have brightened our lives for 14 years now. I will never forget the lessons you've taught me in our time together. As I sit here writing this and crying, you lay by my feet, comforting me.
From the day we brought you home with us you were so sweet. You were wild and cute and energetic and full of love. You quickly became a big part of the family. You went on road trips with us, you ate when we ate, you cleaned up after toddlers, you fit in perfectly. You taught me to remember to have fun and see the world through your excited eyes.
I loved you from the moment I met you. I knew you’d be with us for a long time. I also knew that one day you would grow old and we’d have to say goodbye. Your endless energy as a young dog made that idea seem so far away. You taught me to live in the moment, enjoying each day.
You finally slowed down a little as you got a little older, but you were still full of life for so many years. You loved going on walks, where you wanted to lead the way. You loved going on car trips across town. You were so much fun and were a special part of our lives. You had become a daughter to me, a sister to the kids and a grand doggy to grandparents. You helped me understand family in a new way.
Your pace of life eventually slowed and while you still enjoyed life, we could start to tell you were getting older. We thought it would be fun for you and for us to add a sister pup to our lives. She really needed us, especially you. She’d had a really hard first couple of years. She needed someone to be by her side and show her a new way of being. That is exactly what you did for Leiah. You helped her feel comfortable and she helped you feel younger again. You taught me more about compassion than any human ever has.
Last year you welcomed kittens into your life in such a sweet, kind way that surprised us all. You let them curl up next to you and you let them drink from your water bowl. You taught me the importance of being a good friend and that it's never too late to make new friends.
You've lived an incredibly full life. You've been all over the Pacific Northwest, over mountains, on beaches, hung out with goats at farmers markets, been hugged by so many children, and loved by practically everyone you've met. You were always so accepting of others, without judgement. You taught me what love should be like, unconditional and limitless.
You've seen the kids turn from toddlers to teenagers and everything in between. You've gone from being chased by screaming kids to being loved as a best friend. You've loved every second of it.
Now your days are numbered and still you find ways to share your love. Although you can't do much anymore, somehow you still find a way to follow me wherever I go. You know I need to know that we still have our special bond. You can barely see, hardly hear, and yet you always find me.
When the time comes to say goodbye, I know it will be one of the hardest moments of my life. You've always been by my side and it will be a big adjustment to not have you right there with me. I know now though, that even though I can't imagine my life without you, I will be okay because of all that you're leaving me with.
You're leaving me with amazing memories of our times together. Memories of snuggles, kisses, hugs, friendship and family. So many memories of so many amazing moments. Memories that will last long after you're gone. I will never forget you, my sweet sweet old lady Sarah doggy. Thank you for all that you've given to me and all that you've taught me. I will love you forever.
Love, your Mama
P.S. As I finally finish this, after putting it off for a week, I am laying on the floor near you. You are barely holding on, but the love we share keeps you going. That love will keep me going too. It's okay to say goodbye now SarahBear.
I love swimming, not competitive swimming but the relaxing, just for fun kind. Although I was a synchronized swimmer growing up and I did love that. We even went to the Oregon State Games for synchronized swimming. I'm talking about outdoor, summer swimming though.
Outdoor, open water swimming feels so freeing. Floating around, weightless, gliding through the smooth water. The sun on my shoulders. It’s one of my favorite things in the world.
One of the things that I love about being in the water is that I can't really not be present in the moment when I’m swimming. I am sort of always aware of how cool the water feels on my hot skin and how light I feel. How refreshing the water is. How you have to actively stay above water. It is an amazing feeling.
I recently tried something new in the water. I tried stand up paddleboarding and I absolutely loved it! I went into it thinking it would be really hard and that I wouldn’t be able to stand up on the board, let alone stand on my knees or even sit on it. I don’t have the best balance or the smallest body so I just assumed it would be too hard for me.
I am so glad that I tried it though, because I loved it! I can’t wait to do it again, hopefully soon. Standing out there in the sun, balancing my body on the board, with the water all around me, surrounded by the beautiful outdoors. I felt at peace. I felt strong and brave.
I think in our everyday lives it is easy to not really pay attention to everything that’s going on right in front of us. There are so many distractions. It’s easy to just go about life without really being present in each moment. Just moving from one thing to the next of things that need to get done and not really being aware of all of the beautiful little moments that are taking place right around you.
For me, sometimes, being present has to be intentional. I have to remind myself that it’s all of the little moments in life that make up the most important memories. It’s being there for my kids when they need me to pay attention to them that helps build up trust that they will need when something bigger comes up later in life. It’s taking that phone call from a friend that you know really just needs you to listen and take their side so they can feel loved and respected. It’s putting your phone down and making eye contact when someone is talking to you, so that they know that you are there with them in that moment.
When you take the time in those little moments to really be fully present, you might start to see things differently. You might start to realize that there are so many little amazing moments in your day that are really incredible. You might start to seek out those moments in your day just to see what is possible. You might even start to realize that life is beautiful, every messy, busy, crazy moment of it.
I hope you will continue to join me on this journey. Take time today to look for those little moments.
When I was a kid we used to go camping a lot. I can’t even remember how many times we went, at least a few times every year. One of my favorite places to go camping was this awesome place in Oregon called Carter Lake. Not Crater Lake but Carter. It’s in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area.
The campground sits right between a cool lake and miles of sand dunes. My sisters and I would spend all day either swimming in the lake or hiking around the dunes. It was beautiful and magical. It was a place where we felt free. Free from our everyday lives. Free from rules and restrictions. Free from supervision for the most part. Mostly free to be ourselves.
With that freedom we could climb, we could swim, we could tell secrets, we could go on adventures, we could make new friends, we could depend on each other and ourselves for the choices we made. We could pretend to be who we wanted to be up there on those sand dunes. We did cartwheels and handstands and we rolled down the hills. We were free.
Not everything was perfect up there on those dunes though. There was no protection from the wind or the sun. It was just miles of sand dunes. The wind blew the sand toward us with such force that sometimes it felt like you were being stabbed repeatedly with little tiny needles. There was no shade up there either, so we couldn’t escape the sun.
The world is funny that way, though. Maybe not everything can be perfect at once. Maybe you can’t have the sun and the freedom and the sand without also having the wind and everything that comes with the wind.
I do think that the joys can definitely outweigh the sorrows though, if that’s what you chose to focus on. I’ve had many sorrows in my life, and many joys as well. I can’t pretend that everything is perfect, but I don’t need to focus on everything that’s gone wrong in my life either.
Maybe that is the secret to life. Balance.
Maybe we all need to have more balance in our lives between work and play, freedom and responsibilities, sun and shade, safety and adventure. Maybe this is how we know that everything is okay. We can use what we’ve experienced, either negative or positive, to be able to see the other side too.
If we look inside ourselves, I think we can see this desire for balance as well. The balance between being selfish and generous, between needing other people and needing to be alone. The balance between setting goals/having focus and having the freedom to make new choices and try new things.
I think we can find that balance can exist in whatever we chose to do in our lives. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be yes or no. It doesn’t have to be now or never. Life can be whatever you make of it, in any situation, at any moment.
I hope you will continue to join me on this journey. You can follow along with the MamaBear facebook page for encouragement, inspiration and love.
When my kids were little I used to yell. A lot. For those that know me now, you probably don’t believe that. It’s true. I had a lot of anger in me that came out when I was stressed. I was almost always stressed when I had a 3 year old and twin 2 year olds. Life was hard and I often felt alone. I had never really felt real stress like that and I had no idea how to handle it.
Over the years I learned how to identify my feelings and deal with them a little at a time. I had to acknowledge each feeling and process it in a new way. I had to think about what was really bothering me and work through it. It was a slow and difficult process but it changed me. Love slowly won.
My kids, who are teenagers now, luckily don’t remember those years. At least not the part about me being completely stressed out and yelling. They don’t remember me as an angry, stressed out mama. They just remember the love.
They remember me taking them to the park almost every day to play for hours. They don’t know that I did that because it was a way to get out of the house and be in the sunshine, and make friends. They just remember the love.
They remember me making them their favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, practically every day. They had no idea that I liked making those for them because it was so easy and I liked the control of making them perfectly, with the peanut butter spread to every corner. They just remember the love.
They remember all of us snuggling in bed every night, while they fell asleep in our arms. They don’t know that we did that because we were so completely exhausted and done for the day. And how they didn’t fall asleep easily and this was the easiest way to keep our sanity. They just remember the love.
Love can win. You can chose to live a life with more and more love and less and less anger and stress. You can’t always control your situation, but you can control how you handle it. You can’t control what people say to you, or how they treat you, but you can control how you react to them and how you talk to yourself. You can remember the love.
Love can triumph over everything in your life. You have to consciously choose love every day. You have to find ways to make yourself feel good and important every day. This may seem unattainable if you are living a life full of stress, anger, hate, regret and guilt. Those things are strong and powerful forces. Love is still capable of overcoming. Love can be even more aggressive if you let it. You can remember the love.
You can focus on the good and you can work on improving the bad. You can remember every day the things that you have in your life that you can be grateful for. You can get professional help when you feel like you don’t have the tools you need to succeed in life. You can reach out to the ones in your life that you love so much, and tell them how you feel. You can remember the love.
Remember the love this week, and not the stress. You are a beautiful person and you are worthy of being loved and being someone who can truly and powerfully love those around you. Remember the love and let love win today.
I hope you will continue to join me on this journey.
I am torn today as I see all of the posts about Father’s Day. On one hand I have this amazing man in my life, my husband, the father of my 3 beautiful children. He is a brilliant, kind, caring, consistent, amazing, loving father. He is always there for us and always working hard to provide for us. He doesn’t really believe in celebrating Father’s Day. He would rather just have a normal day where we spend time together and I cook an amazing meal for us, while we watch Die Hard.
On the other hand is my Dad. He wasn’t always the most patient or gentle man, but he did try to be a good dad and do what he could to love us and care for us, while he was fighting with depression and anger, and the things that help someone cover those up. He took us camping and to family gatherings and for long Sunday drives-although those were mostly scary for me on winding roads while he held his brown beer bottle. He tried.
I remember when I was in high school, every summer I would go to this beautiful Oregon summer camp for at least a couple of different weeks. That place became my happy place for many years. My sisters and I would almost always go to White Water Rafting Camp, which happened to always start on Father’s Day. Which, in the Pacific Northwest, meant it was raining and cold, but we didn’t care.
My sisters and I would feel a little bad that we were leaving our dad for the week, starting on that day. But he always looked a little happy. I think he was happy that we were going to go have a great week, but also grateful that his 3 teenage daughters were going to be out of the house for 6 whole days. We might have been a little emotional, unpredictably moody, and loud in those years.
A couple of days ago I was feeling so sad and irritated all day. My very observant, intuitive husband, who knows me better than I know myself some days, kept asking what was wrong and holding me. I kept saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong, I’m just really sad and I don’t why.” Around 10 o’clock that night it finally hit me.
I had been subconsciously seeing everywhere that it was Father’s Day weekend. Many people online were writing about it, the radio ads were about it, people I saw in person were talking about it. I didn’t even know that it would bother me anymore. But somewhere inside I was hurting and sad that I don’t have my Dad around to joke with or hug and wish Happy Father's Day. It’s been 8 years since he lost his fight with liver disease, in that kind and peaceful hospice home on the hill. I think about him often, just missing his presence.
It is so weird to me how grief is so sneaky, especially after all these years. It comes in when you're least expecting it and punches you right in the heart. That sneaky grief jerk. I guess that will never change. I’m okay with that though. It is part of who I am now. I love who I am and I have my father to thank for some of that.
He taught me to be stubborn and take what you want from life. He taught me to have fun and tell dumb jokes. He taught me to love the Portland Trail Blazers no matter what happens. He taught me that it’s okay to fight with the ones you love, as long as in the end they know that love is stronger than any other thing. He wasn’t the perfect dad. He was though, a perfect reminder that there is a real and lasting part in each one of us that holds onto pain and love all in the same place. It is all together sad and beautiful.
I hope you will continue to join me on this journey. If you need a place to talk about life and love and healing and relationships and more, you are welcome to join The Mama Bear Tribe private Facebook group.
Some days I need to pause and consciously think about what I am grateful for. I need to remind myself of all that I have, of all that I am and of all the things that I am surrounded by that are good. Right now I am grateful to be a part time nanny for a kind and generous family. Today, as I snuggled my little 20 month old best friend, while he quieted down for a much needed nap, I was comforted by the simple act of his arm around my neck. He is such a busy little one that he often doesn’t have time to slow down long enough to get in a good snuggle. Except for when he is really tired and ready. So today, as he nestled his sweet, warm little boy head into my neck and put his arm around me, I knew that my world was still good.
Sometimes this world feels so dark and unbelievably scary, with bombings and shootings and other hate filled crimes, that our hearts hurt so badly even catching a glimpse of it. I can’t even come close to putting myself in the place of someone involved in something like that, it is too much for my soul to even process. I can barely force myself to listen to everyone else talk about it. It is so easy to focus on the bad things that happen in the world. Those are the things that spread like wildfire over the media. It is so easy to believe that there are more horrible people in the world than there are good. It is so easy to listen to the world and think, the love is gone.
So, Instead of obsessing over the negative I want to put out a challenge to be a light in this world today. Shine your kindness so brightly that others might be able to break through the fog of tragedy and hate filled news and see that a little piece of it is still okay. Share your compassion so freely today that those around you will have no choice but to desire to work for the good of those they encounter. Spread your love so generously today that it will change the world, one little arm at a time.
Choose today to move forward with your heart a little more exposed and open to the universe. Move forward today with your eyes a little more open to those in need. Be that someone that makes another person see that there is still so much beauty and light in their world. Go out today looking for the rainbow instead of the clouds. Be the sunshine to someone’s dark gray day. You can’t take back what has been done, but you can continue to put positive, beautiful, amazing, wonderful things into the world, one lovely moment at a time.
Next time you log on to facebook or twitter, be an encouragement. Next time you see someone doing something kind, find something that you can do to match their kindness. Next time you hear of someone’s loss, ask what you can do to help them hurt a little less. Find ways every day to have a bigger purpose than just getting through that day. Find ways every day to make the world directly around you a little more full of hope and a little less full of hurt.
For ideas on practical ways to help in your community, think about homeless shelters, women’s and children’s homes, food banks, community outreach programs that cloth and give resources to those in need right in your city. I am going to be calling my local community activists to find out what I can be doing right now to help make the sun shine a little brighter today for someone else.
I hope you will continue to join me on this journey of love, self-discovery, wholeness and purpose.
The last few weeks I’ve been working so hard on all of the pieces that make up MamaBear. I am really excited about this. I am pretty proud of it. It has the potential to help a lot of women to see their worth and to start working on believing in themselves more and to be able to change some of the negative mindsets we all get in. It has taken a lot of time and emotional energy to do this, but it has been worth it.
Sometimes I get scared though. I start doubting myself. Wondering if I even know how to do what I need to do. Wondering if what I'm working on will turn out good enough. I get scared that no one will like it, which means that no one will like me. I know that is not realistic, but that is how my mind works.
I care so deeply about empowering others, especially women, especially you, my tribe. I care so much about helping you to see how amazing your lives could be, if you just believe in yourselves more. I was so worried about all of this that I forgot for a minute to care about myself. I forgot to take a moment and realize that I am brave and that I can do hard things. I forgot to think about what an incredible journey this life has been and that I am in an amazing place in my life now. I want to share this beautiful place in my life with you.
Through this journey I’ve been able to try so many new things, which is so scary but at the same time refreshing. Before starting MamaBear, I hadn't really done any writing since I was in school and had to do it for assignments. I actually don’t remember ever doing any writing for fun, since becoming a grown up :). I never realized how therapeutic blogging could be. It feels like writing in my diary and sharing my heart out to my world and at the same time discovering new things about myself. I guess that’s why this whole process has been scary for me. It’s all so personal. It’s all real.
So, I’m figuring out how to push myself to be braver. I’m figuring out how to push myself to try harder. I’m figuring out how to keep going even when things seem impossible. I’m pushing myself to try new things, even if that means sometimes failing. I’m pushing myself to continue to believe in myself even though the excitement will wear off.
I continue to say my MamaBear Mantra (I am strong, I am confident, I am brave) almost every day. I continue to find things to tell myself that I am proud of. I continue to reach out to friends (old and new) for sources of encouragement when I’m feeling insecure. I continue to think about all of you, reading this, at a moment that you might really need to hear what I’m saying. I am overwhelmed with appreciation and love for all of you, who are supporting me on this beautiful journey that is a big part of my life.
I love you my tribe.
I hope you will continue to join me on the journey. I would love it if you’d like to join the Mama Bear Tribe on Facebook , we will be having more personal and interactive discussions there.
Almost every day when I turn on the car radio I hear horrible advertisements encouraging you to hate your body and buy into their products or services. Whether it’s asking you if you hate your double chin, or if your boobs are too small, or your legs are too hairy or you need to lose weight or you have ugly stretchmarks or if your teeth need whitening, or if you have glasses and you should hate that. There is always some way that they are telling you that you should feel bad about yourself when it comes to your body.
We hear these messages in other forms too. We hear it on TV, in the movies, in conversations with each other throughout the day. We see it in the media, on magazine covers-in line at the grocery store and in Hollywood; with the shrinking size of everyone involved and the desire to appear smooth and perfect. After time, these messages start to take up space in our thoughts and start to make us wonder if maybe we do have some problem areas that we should feel bad about if we weren’t already feeling badly about ourselves before this.
Why is everyone encouraged to hate their bodies? Why should someone feel bad for being too tall, or being too fat, or too short or being too different from what someone else decides is supposed to be normal? Can we all decide right now that we will stop shaming ourselves and stop shaming others? Can we all decide right now that we will start encouraging one another in our search for inner beauty and our ability to love ourselves?
Loving yourself for who you are right now, is going to change how you see others as well as how you see yourself. Loving yourself-your whole self- right now is going to change your world. What if instead of saying “I am fat” to yourself in the mirror and feeling bad all day about how you look, you said, “I have fat parts of my body, but that is not something to be ashamed of because that does not define me. I am kind, I am smart, I have a beautiful heart that loves others. Those things can make a difference in someone’s life and are much more important than what others think I should look like.”
Let’s stop letting the media tell us what we should be and let’s start deciding for ourselves to be positive about our bodies and be kind to one another about outward appearances and let’s just start being happy. I have decided this year that I am going to try to stop worrying about what I think others are thinking about me. I am going to stop trying to please others and I am going to just try to be me. I am going to work on how I feel every day, and how I can help others feel good about themselves.
This has been such an eye opening experience for me. I feel so united with other radical women. I feel so empowered to be me and I feel so strong. I have this desire not to back down when it comes to making sure everyone gets this message. Especially when it comes to my own children. I have always tried to help them to have a positive image of themselves and to be confident in who they are and not just in how they look. But lately I want to make sure they really get it.
I am so glad that my kids are growing up in this age when there are people out there that are fighting for them to live in a world where it’s okay to be unique and not fit into the mold that was laid out before them. This is just the start of something really changing in the world, all starts with how each of us can change our own thinking about what's really important and what really matters when it comes to our bodies. It all starts with You.
I hope you will continue to join me on this journey. Please share this page with the people in your life that you know would love to be a part of this. Thank you <3.
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