Happy Dad’s Day

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day (Photo credit: Viewminder)

Today, is that day when those in the United States pause to celebrate their fathers. Of course, dads should be celebrated every day. In any case, I wish all the Dads out there a very Happy Dad’s Day. You may note that I refer to “Dad'” instead of “Father.” As you read this post, you will understand my reasons for doing so. In the end, you may disagree with my reasons, but hey, if we all thought the same way, life would be predictable and boring.

I do not have a father to celebrate. My birth father died last year, but in reality, he was a complete stranger to me, and certainly not a Dad. For most of my life, I never had one. My father chose to abandon me, my two sisters and Mother on my birthday when I was five years old. So for 11 years, I never saw or communicated with him. He didn’t even send my mother a dime to help raise us. Although those facts are my reality, this post is not about him.It is about all the men who don’t serve as mere sperm donors. Fortunately, I was blessed with a couple of those men who showed me what it meant to be a Dad. So, it is with this post that I recognize all the Dads in the world.

Although some will disagree, at a deeper level, there is a distinction between the monikers “Dad,” and “Father.” A man need not be the child’s father, to be a Dad. A dad is there for his family. He is the one cheering you on at your sports games. He is in the audience at any function in which you appear–even those boring school plays, band concerts and dance recitals. He supports your mother in meting out loving discipline, when it is necessary. He shares the responsibility of driving you here and there and after you can drive, stays up until you are home safely.

He is there when you are ill, if for nothing else than, to  provide love and comfort. Until he can no longer actively do so, he assuages your fears and protects you from all of life’s boogeymen. In the case of girls, he tries, in vain I might add, to counsel you about the nature of boys. If you are a boy, he teaches you to love, respect and support women. He provides you food to eat, clothes on your back and a roof over your head. He participates in all the memorable events in your life. The fact is, that ‘he is always there.’

Even if your dad has passed on, you have memories of him that act as a balm on days like this one. They are memories etched in your heart by the love that you shared. Studies show that, on average, girls with close relationships with their dads grow up with higher self-esteem and enjoy healthier relationships with men. Whether he is still here or has passed on, you share a bond like no other.

Let me hasten to add that divorce seems an inevitable part of life for many. Yet, a man remains a Dad by staying in the lives of his children. Although a father and mother divorce, the same is not true for the children. In fact, at times such as this, a child needs both their parents, more than ever. A Dad continues forging a relationship with his children, that is as strong as possible, given the circumstance. A Dad never uses a divorce as an opportunity to run away from his children or his responsibility to them.

There is not much to say about the ‘father.’ It is a fact that without a ‘father,’ you would simply not exist. He is essential in giving you life. In all too many cases, that is his sole contribution. The sad fact is that he is not there to share in the pangs and glories of raising his child.

So, on this day, I commend all the “Dads” in the world who are active in the lives of their children, loving and guiding them on their journey toward adulthood. Sometimes, raising a child is a thankless task, but the joys of doing so, far outweigh the pains. Thank you for being there through it all. You are a child’s first notion of ‘Dad,’ and as they learn by example, you are preparing them for the future. You are your child’s first hero.

I realize that not all situations are so clearcut, so forgive me if I failed to address all the variants of these complex relationships. As I say this, I’d also like to thank all you mothers who, like mine, tried to serve both roles, as single parents. We appreciate your presence, determination, strength, love and hard work. You, too, are our heroes.


Thank You.

Thank You

Thank You (Photo credit: mandiberg)

I intended to post this days ago, but there were technical problems and regrettably, I did not know how to fix them. I hope that they are now.

“Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” ~Alice Walker

This is the season of Thanksgiving, and I intended to publish this post before Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, that did not happen. The hustle and bustle of preparing for the day and finally cooking a big meal, overwhelmed me. If it weren’t for my dear Mom, I am not sure what I would have done. Thank you Mom!!

During the holiday season, the words grateful and gratitude are bandied about by scores of us. The  Oxford dictionary defines ‘gratitude’ as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” I think that many of us routinely practice the first part of the definition. It is commonplace for us to express gratitude for the many things in our lives by listing them regularly in our journals, notebooks or on our computers. In fact, studies have shown it therapeutic to do so.

Although I’ve always been aware of the things in my life for which I am grateful, it was the book “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” Sarah Ban Breathnach that gave a voice to those blessings that I’d routinely overlooked. The book gave me pause as it caused me to consider the seemingly insignificant little blessings that grace my life. As she noted, “[w]hen we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize that we are very rich indeed.” It was this book that encouraged me to formalize my gratitude practice.

“Practicing gratitude involves being thankful for the little things, seeing all that happens in your life as a “miracle”, and always being aware of the abundance in your life. By redirecting the focus of your thoughts from what you don’t have to what you do have, powerful vibrations are sent out to the universe, increasing the things in your life for which you are thankful.” (Read more here.)

Those things for which we may experience gratitude can range from the feel of our bare foot on a cool floor on a hot day, and a relaxing, hot bubble bath with no time limitations or frantic knocks on the door, when it is cold outside and you are frazzled from the holidays. It could be for the hot water with which you make that first cup of  tea or coffee every morning, the sound of that hot water as it flows into your mug, and even for the certainty of a meal on the table. Gratitudes come in all shapes and sizes, and while we treasure each, usually, there is nothing to do beyond noting it. Some, however, demand more.

The ‘more ‘ that I am speaking of is a simple thank you. That’s right, the words “thank you,” though seemingly innocuous, hold great appreciation, power and promise. The words ‘thank you’ can forgive the worse transgressions, as well as display appreciation for a kindness received. In fact, the words also apply to those things in our lives that are blessings in disguise, but at the time, we are unable to recognize that fact. As we write down the things for which we are grateful, we sometimes overlook the other part of the equation, that is, verbally expressing our gratitude or thanks. Failing to express some act of kindness is akin to being deeply in love and never expressing your feelings to your loved one.

At this time of thanksgiving, I want to verbally express my thanks for some of those things in my heart for which I am most grateful. As an initial matter, I have to say that there is no way that I can possibly express my deepest appreciation for all the people and things who deserve it. If I overlook you in this post, please know that I do not do so in my heart. Please forgive me in advance and know that my heart is filled with the kindnesses that you shower upon me and the gratitude that I feel. In many cases, there are real people to thank, but in some instances, my gratitude is to my God. With that said, I realize that many of us espouse different beliefs. Whether yours is the Source, Universe, Allah, Mother Earth, or others, I urge you to look to those to express the blessings in your heart.

  • Recently, my father died. He abandoned me when I was five and our relationship never overcame that, so we were estranged. Still, I’d like to thank John for being my father. The reality is that without him, I would not exist or be the woman who i am today. I am beginning to accept that perhaps that is all that he was meant to contribute to my life.
  • I thank my beautiful, wonderful Mom who, when left with three, later four children, did not despair. She set about to care for us on her own. She worked two to four jobs at a time to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, and to give us a proper education and the basic necessities.
  • I thank my two sisters. Although we have a complicated relationship, having lost my little brother when in died in 1997, they are even more precious and important to me.
  • I thank God for the gifts of my children and grandchildren who have enriched my life in countless ways. By having three children by 21 years of age, I have to admit that in many ways, we grew up together. Ours was a give and take relationship and I’ve learned many lessons about being a mother and a role model from them. They gave me the opportunity to give them unconditional love and those things that I felt that I lacked as a child. My grandchildren are so precious to me and they offer me incentive to make this world a better place, as well as a do-over for the inevitable mistakes that I made with their parents.
  • I thank my incredible husband of 13 years. When we married, neither of us envisioned the twists and turns that life would bring. Like everyone else, there have been a litany of ups and downs, but through love, determination and mutual respect, we continue to conquer them — together.
  • I thank my dear friends, both old and new. They offer me support, honesty, compassion, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love. They remind me of who I am, during those times when I forget. There is nothing like picking up the phone and hearing the voice of a friend with whom I haven’t spoken in ages and the conversation picks up as though we’d spoken just yesterday. I also relish the close friendships that I have with my daughters. They are two of my BFF’s, and I thank them for being.
  • I thank all of those special people who routinely practice random acts of goodness and kindness. They bring serendipity and wonder to a world that, at times, is harsh and uncaring. They remind us of the true meaning of selflessness, love and kindness.
  • I thank God for the breeze on a hot summer’s day, the melodic song of wind chimes as wind flows by, the smile from a stranger, the gift of forgiveness, those fleeting moments of perfection when everything is right with the world, the sweet music of a child’s laughter, nature in all its’ wonder and grandeur, a sunrise, a beautiful multi-hued sunset, the company of family and friends, calm in the midst of a storm, unexpected blessings, little miracles, the journey, love, hope, faith, joy, happiness, the strength to overcome the hard times, my life, the darkened nighttime sky with stars that sparkle like the finest diamonds, and so much more.

These are my prayers of gratitude and thank you. What are yours?

Blessings, Lydia

What I Will Miss When I Die

One of my granddaughters

One of my granddaughters

I have to tell you upfront, that this post arises from this post on the website Wonderings & Wanderings. The question posed in the blog was a line from a Natalie Rosenberg book., “Tell me what you will miss when you die.”  This post answers that question..

It seems right to post this on what would have been my brother’s 46th birthday. I am in my 50’s and the inevitability of my death crosses my mind quite regularly. My kids think it morbid, but it think it reality. I mean, there comes a time when we all die. Although there is much that I would miss, there is nothing more than my children and grandchildren, especially, those firsts in their lives that appear suddenly, pass too quickly  and are forever etched in my heart. Of course, the list depends on when death occurs, so I chose to there are many more pleasures that we enjoy in this life, that are worth noting. My list, although not exhaustive, follows:

  • The sound of wind chimes on a breezy day.
  • The sound of boiling hot water as it pours into a cup for hot tea.
  •  Watching the sun rise from my bed in the morning.
  • The birds chirping at the feeder outside of my bedroom window.
  • The way that freshly washed and starched cotton sheets feel on your skin.
  • The smell of lavender.
  • The smell of tuberoses.
  • A long, hot bubble bath.
  • Singing to the oldies.
  • Dancing to the oldies.
  • The sound of water running in a stream.
  • Watching the deer as they walk through our yard.
  • The dark, inky infinite night-time sky, filled with stars and unmarred by lights.
  • The color purple.
  • The taste of a sweet, juicy watermelon.
  • A deep blue sky.
  • The unexpected rainbow.
  •  The sound of rain on a tin roof.
  • Nerja, Spain
  • A full moon.
  • A meadow filled with wild flowers.
  • The laugh of a child.
  • The excitement brought by a thunder-storm.
  • The pealing of church bells.
  • The birth of a grandchild.
  • The faces of my loved ones and friends.
  • The twinkle in D.’s eyes.
  • Talking to my daughters about anything and everything.
  • The steadfastness of my husband.
  • B. calling me Mee-Mom.
  • All of the “firsts” that come with grandchildren.
  • Lobster.
  • My potato salad.
  • A home cooked meal that I didn’t cook.
  • A genuine smile.
  • The way a smile lights up a face.
  • A full moon.
  • The smell of night-blooming jasmine.
  • The laughter of children playing in the near distance.
  • Driving a convertible with the wind blowing through your hair.
  • Walking along a beach.
  • An apple jolly rancher candy.
  • A banana Now or Later.
  • A Grape Kool-Aid Jammer.
  • The comfort of knowing that my mother is nearby.
  • Baby kittens.
  • A purple, orange and pink sunset.
  • I love yous.
  • The touch of a loved.
  • Books.
  • The smell of Red Flower Lavender candles.
  • Child perfume.
  • My iPhone.
  • Skype.
  • My computers.
  • Playing airplane with your hand outside the car window.
  • Hugging.
  • Kissing.
  • Making love.
  • The smell of freshly baked bread.
  • Family dinner.
  • Mexican food.
  • Chinese food.
  • New Orleans.
  • The sturdiness of a tree.
  • Friendship.
  • A family dinner.
  • A birthday celebration.
  • Candle light.
  • A room lit by moon light.
  • The present moment.
  • Moments of inner peace.
  • A good book.
  • The wonder of music.
  • Singing.
  • Dancing to anything.
  • The joy of giving the perfect present.
  • The joy and appreciation of receiving the perfect present.
  • The ability to change.
  • The ability to forgive.
  • To love.
  • To be loved.
  • The act of forgiveness.
  • To be forgiven.
  • The sounds of ocean waves breaking on land.
  • The desert.
  • The perfect pen.
  • My journals.
  • Purple pens.
  • My brother’s blue, pea coat that came to me after his death.
  • My brother’s watch that came to me after his death.
  • Being a Mom.
  • Being a g’mom.
  • Church.
  • The flutter of curtains as a breeze moves through the window.
  • Watching my children move through life.
  • Watching my grandchildren’s importance life moments.

I realize that I can go on forever, but I’ll stop now. What I know for sure is that when I press “publish,” there will be  numerous things that I wish that I’d added to the list, but it was time to end.

Tell me what you’ll miss when you die. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings, Lydia

The Best Compliment Ever


My “Daring Adventures” painting.

I have a 6 1/2 year old granddaughter with whom I spend a considerable amount of time. We were in the process of getting ready to go out, when I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw. If you are like me, you’ve had the following experience. You are preparing to go somewhere and you think that you are ready to leave. Someone comes up to you with a concerned look on their face and says, “Um, you aren’t going out looking like that, are you?” Of course, it is a “tactful” way to say, “You look like hell and you aren’t serious going out into the world like that.” This time, my inner critic played the part of the ‘concerned’ person, and regrettably, I listened.

I gave in and began putting on makeup and transforming my appearence. At the time, D. was in another room playing video games. Since she thought that we were ready to leave, she came to see what was going on. She walked into the bathroom where I was attempting to look ‘world ready,’ and sat down. For a while, she watched me intensely without speaking. Then, as I picked up one product after another, she wanted me to identify them. I did and she listened.

Suddenly, she said, “G’Mom, you don’t need makeup, because you are beautiful just the way you are.” The words stopped me in my tracks. I peered into the mirror. I mean, I really looked because I needed to see the ‘me’ that she saw. After a while, I turned to her and looked into her beautiful smiling face.  With tears streaming down my face, I thanked her and grabbed her for a warm hug and a kiss. Her sweet words settled in my heart and reminded me of something that I’d forgotten. I am beautiful–just as I am.

Blessings, Lydia