To My Babies… The Hardest Letter I will ever write to you

For My Babies, Love

Out of all the things I’ve wanted to say to you during your little lives, this was a letter I never thought I would write to you, nor would I ever, ever want to. Our family is going through such a hard time now. Your father, who we all loved so deeply, died in a motorcycle accident at the young age of 45. I never, ever wanted you (or anyone, for that matter) to experience such tragedy. Most days I still can’t comprehend the idea that he is no longer living with us. How such a beautiful light could just go out so quickly is beyond my comprehension. And his poor, sweet children. Rowan is 3 (going on 16), Dylan is 6, Sebastian is 12, Sarah is 15, and Justin is 26. He loved you all so much. The love that I shared with your father was passionate, deep, strong, and sometimes crazy. But we were most beautiful when we were all together as a family. We truly made such a beautiful family.

I love him and miss him so much. I cry so many times just at the thought of not ever being able to hold him, talk to him, laugh with him, kiss him, and go through with all the crazy plans we had for life with him. But it is really all of his kids that my heart breaks for most. There are so many things that make the situation so tragic. From the idea of my love being injured and hurt so bad that his life was lost in the blink of an eye, to the fact of someone so charismatic, funny, talented, charming, and hard-working no longer living amongst us. To how many people loved him and are truly devastated by this loss. But the worst is for his beautiful children who lost their beautiful father. My heart breaks the most for all of you.

Dylan and Rowan, I know you both hurt so bad over this, and yet, you are so young that I can’t imagine that you really understand what’s going on. I hate the fact that you only had him in your life for such a short time. Dylan, you have always been a happy child. You are just as playfully mischievous as your father. But I know you are hurting right now. You don’t talk about it much. You talk about Daddy in good ways. You’ll talk about random stories about him, but you don’t talk about your pain or even how much you miss him. I’m pretty sure your strong little heart is just trying to be brave and keep going. Rowan, I know you don’t really understand at 3 years old what has happened. You just know that Daddy’s not here and you miss him. You tell me so many times a day how you want Daddy. It breaks my heart that I can’t give him to you. I found one of his t-shirts the other day that he wore frequently. It hadn’t been washed, and it still smelt like him. I rubbed my face in it and clung to it. A while later that day, you were upset about something, and I remembered the t-shirt. I gave it to you and told you to smell it. You stuck your face in it, and all the sudden you lit up. “Daddy’s shirt!” you exclaimed. It made you feel so good, just to smell his scent and hold that old cotton t-shirt. You carried the shirt around for days. I finally put it up, in the hopes it might hold on to his scent a little while longer so that I could give it to you when you start to get sad and missing him.

We were in the car today; Dylan, Rowan, and I. Rowan, you had just gotten an Elsa doll that sings “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. As you were sitting in the backseat singing along, I had a sudden memory of your dad singing that song with you. He was really the one that got you singing it in the first place, when you were only like 2 years old. You would start to sing it, and then your dad would start singing along with you, loud and proud. You loved it. He used to sing it with you all the time. We all did. But your dad was the one that really started it. As the memory hit me while we were driving in the car, I started to get a little emotional. I turned and asked you, Dylan, if you remembered Daddy always singing that song with Rowan. You smiled sheepishly and sweetly and said yes, and I could tell you really did remember, too. I asked you how you were doing. “I’m good”, you replied, as is a pretty normal response for you. I asked you if you miss Daddy. You said yes. I was thinking how I don’t ever really see you get visibly upset about losing daddy. I see you get upset, much more frequently than normal. I know you miss daddy, but you just don’t normally say that you miss daddy and it hurts. As I was asking you if you missed him and starting to tear up myself, I think you must have known my thoughts because  you simply said “My heart is crying.” It was the most honest, poetic, adult thing I’ve ever heard you say. I know your heart is crying, baby. And I am so sorry that all of you are having to go through this.

I love you. I love you all so much. And your Daddy does, too. He is watching over us, with a soul that is at peace, loving us, wanting us to be happy. But it still hurts so much. I pray for strength to be a good mama to you throughout all of your lives. I want you to know how many people have loved and supported us through this awful time. I want you to know that there is still so much beauty in the world and that we can still have beautiful lives, no matter the pain we feel from not being able to physically live it and share it with him. I want you to know that his beauty and everything about him still lives on in all of you and in every life that he touched, which was so many. And I pray that I may let him live on through me, all of his quirkiness and love of life, so that you can still grow up with that piece of him in your life.

I love you all so much. Out of all the amazing and beautiful things your dad did in life, the most precious are the beautiful children that he gave us. I am grateful for you that are mine by birth, and for my stepkids (who already have beautiful mamas that love them). You are all wonderful gifts to us from your father.

I love you always and forever.

To the moon and back. That’s what your dad always said.

Sincerely,

Your Mama

 

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Dealing with Role Conflict

Happiness, Mind

It’s something everyone will probably experience at some point in their life. It is likely that you are currently experiencing it right now. Yet it seems that we hardly ever talk about it.

What is role conflict?

The emotional conflict arising when competing demands are made on an individual in the fulfillment of his or her multiple social roles.

Juggling work and being a parent. Going to college while struggling to work and make money. Doing something with your family versus taking some much needed time to yourself. Spending time with your lover versus making time for friends… With so many things going on in our busy lives, some amount of role conflict is pretty much impossible to avoid.

For me, I have all things listed above: children, work, school, family, friends, a home to take care of, et cetera. Role conflict is probably the biggest stressor of my everyday life. I can accomplish most anything, but trying to take care of them all at once is what makes it so difficult.

So, what to do to avoid and relieve the stress that comes from playing so many different roles in life?

Here are just a few tips and ideas:

(1) Most important of all…. Take care of yourself: mind, body, and spirit.

I cannot take care of anyone else if I don’t take care of myself. Eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep. Use de-stressing techniques like meditation and yoga. Feed the spirit with such things as prayer or communing with nature. Practice being “mindful” in the little moments so as not to find myself caught up in the hectic ongoings of everyday life.

(2) Plan.

It does not have to be a tight schedule to adhere to, but at least a simple list of the days expectations and what needs to be accomplished. And don’t set yourself up for failure by planning too much (probably my biggest pitfall). Be realistic in what you can do in the time you have and be proud of yourself when you are able to do so.

(3) Simplify.

Decrease the amount of “stuff” that we have so I don’t have so much cleaning and caring-for to do. This includes things like decreasing the amount of clothing and other “stuff” that I own. It also means making sure to not take on or plan more than I can handle. For example, I am only taking one college course this semester  because I didn’t know if I could handle more than that.

(4) Share.

Talk to your friends and family when you are stressed. That’s what they are there for. And they may be going through the same thing.

(5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Whether it’s getting a babysitter for the night so you can have a break, asking for help with a project at work, or making a chore list for the kids at home. Sometimes any amount of help can make a huge difference.

(6) Be gentle with yourself.

We can only accomplish and do so much. Be proud of successes and learn from mistakes. Let go of what you can’t change or control. And go on.

(7) Always remember to be grateful.

I am a mother, daughter, sister, lover, friend, aunt, niece, nurse, writer, student, child of God (just to name a few). And I am so blessed to be on this Earth with so many roles I get to play. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Moment <3

Poetry, writing
that moment when downtown looks as perfect and pristine as an Ansel Adams photo
when a simple countryside inspires and takes my breath away like Monet
when a soft breeze both comforts and energizes and sends me home in my soul
to some sweet moment of love and laughter
when I can suddenly look around me and see the beauty in everything
that moment of peaceful bliss that is always locked away so deep in my heart
just waiting for me to find it
Monet-_Der_Rosenweg_in_Giverny

Composing My Morning Ritual

Healthy Living

Yesterday I started drinking hot water with lemon and honey first thing in the morning. Or, actually, I started drinking hot water with lime and honey since as I decided to do this, I also realized that I did not have any lemons. I did have some limes left over, though, from a guacamole recipe. Drinking lemon water is a much more popular practice, but my research showed that limes are probably just as good and possibly better for you than lemons. However, there is much more literature on the benefits of drinking lemon water, so I will probably switch to lemons after my next grocery store trip.

There are many health benefits to the practice ranging from boosting the immune system and reducing illness, assisting with weight loss and stimulating the digestive system to being good for the eyes and skin. The flavor is also quite yummy. The honey really does it for me. It has a flavor similar to drinking hot tea, but mellow and simple while at the same time sour and sweet. And it is so easy and cheap to prepare. The main reason I’m doing this, though, is to help me in my morning ritual.

Mornings are often hard for me. I have always been a morning person, given that I get good night’s sleep. However, my work schedule frequently has me getting home late at night, and I have two young children who frequently wake in the middle of the night in need of anything from a drink, a cuddle, or a trip to the bathroom. Needless to say, I am often groggy and slow to get going in the morning.

It is mainly because of this that I feel I could greatly benefit from an easy morning ritual. I can’t always do yoga first thing in the morning. I don’t always seem to have the time to meditate. But I am surely going to have SOMETHING to drink. Coffee has been my friend for a long time now and will continue to be at times, but this is obviously not the healthiest option. And there is always the dreaded, inevitable caffeine crash. Why not instead make something easy, cheap, AND good for me? Lemon water is a healthy alternative for me to look forward to from the time I get out of bed. Something to help me wake up, and the purity and ritual of it make me feel centered and ready for my day. A new part of my morning ritual to put me in a more creative state of mind; one that will make time for yoga and meditation and find creative ways to deal with the tasks of the day.

So far I am enjoying this subtle change in my morning. I do not see such a small addition to my day as being life changing in itself, but I do so it as a sweet beginning to composing a beautiful morning ritual. More than that, though, I am happy for just being more mindful and actually attempting to create a morning ritual to help get my day started off right. It’s little healthy steps like this that help to cultivate and grow my own being: by being good to myself, making time for healthy habits, and continuing to learn about myself and the world around me.

                              

Contemplation on Happiness
The pursuit of happiness. Is it not the most all encompassing subject of our everyday being? There are so many theories, ideas, and different ways to find one’s own happiness and inner peace.
Happiness comes from compassion and helping others find their happiness.
Following your true inner dreams and finding your ultimate, unique, soul fulfilling purpose in the world, is this not our purpose in life?
But shouldn’t we be savouring every moment and living in the “now”?
Or is the purpose of life more spiritual than these quests? Is it not a connection to the divine that gives meaning and joy to our lives?
Isn’t life merely what you perceive it to be? Based on this knowledge, can a person not find inner peace by merely looking inside and learning to love themselves and the world around them regardless of their circumstance or place in life?
These are the questions and ideas that I contemplate on a daily basis. Yes, this may sound tedious to some: wondering, contemplating, researching ideas and questions that I may never know the answers to. But I love it. Yes, it would seem to be infinitely easier to just simply go to work and take care of my responsibilities and live a life on a path pretending to not look around me and realize that I have the power to change it and make it whatever I can dream and discover.
I do not wish to live life that blindly. I want to live a life of purpose and meaning, knowing what path I am on and passionately loving the reasons I have chosen it. I will admit that as I get older I can feel myself losing some of that passionate drive to constantly move forward in an effort to discover my dreams. This has merely been replaced by a deeper understanding, though: a realization and acknowledgement of how easy it is to work yourself into a place of forgetting who you are and what you dream of and also an acute desire to not let this happen in my life. An acute desire to make the absolute most of my life. This may mean something different to everyone. I believe that the journey to a life of fulfillment and peace is probably different for each individual and is probably some combination of all the ideas mentioned above. It would seem that we could learn so much from one another and from helping each other to find our own paths. One thing I cannot deny, though, is my complete obsession and love for contemplating these things; my passion to discover what it truly means to live life to it’s fullest, experiencing true happiness and inner peace.

“We love life, not because we are used to living, but because we are used to loving.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Happiness

To Dylan and Rowan (because if you put it on the internet, it’s there forever)

For My Babies, writing
My sweet, beautiful babies, your mama loves you so much. Dylan, you are such a kind and gorgeous child. Your beautiful blue eyes remind me of both your father and of my father, also. They are the same brilliant, entrancing color and filled with the same characteristics of both of those wonderful men: your father’s playfulness and tender, kind-heartedness, and your grandfather’s trust-worthiness and never-ending love. I see this all in your charming demeanor. You were my first born, and it is mostly because of the love I share with you and your little sister that I have been able to heal at all from the pain of losing my own father. Your obvious unbridled love for me is what puts a smile on my face and in my heart, even during the worst of times.

Rowan, you are so gorgeous and sweet. I love you so much, and you show me everyday how much you love me in return. My baby girl, my precious daughter, your innocence and strength inspire me to be as beautiful and strong as my dreams will allow. Even at your young age, you are independent and courageous. I know that you will love life and understand the importance of seizing every day. Your creativity is already obvious, too. I have never seen a child so moved by music, nature, and beauty. I cannot wait to teach you and show you all the magnificence and wonder that is in the world, but I have a feeling you will end up showing me so much more.

You are both so young right now. Someday, if you ever do come across these letters, you will look back and remember your childhood, and I wonder what it will look like to you. Currently, most of our days are filled with normal things like Daddy going to work and me taking care of the house and all of you kiddos. I am working too, but it is only part-time, which is still atleast 30 hours/week, but this is far less than I am used to. Since Rowan was born, I have tried to work less. It was hard enough to maintain my 40-60 hour work weeks when we only had Dylan and then also Sarah and Bastian part time. Once we had Rowan, though, I knew from the beginning that my career would be mostly put on hold, for a few years atleast. The time I spend with you all is way more important to me than how much money I bring home. I like to spend money, do fun things, and have nice things, but I also know that the more money you make, the more you spend, and that this can become a vicious cycle. A person without money can still be happy. Financial wealth is not a prerequisite for true happiness. However, a person who has sacrificed time away from the things that are most important to them for the sake of money will more than likely find themselves unfulfilled and regretful. I would rather us go without for a while, knowing that I spent these wonderful years of your childhood with you, than have lots of money and a ton of regret to go along with it. I will never regret having spent more time with you.

Sarah and Bastian are currently living with us also. The two of them are a beautiful blessing to have in our home. We do truly have a wonderful, sweet little family.  There is stress at times over normal things: occasional financial difficulties, the expected bickering amongst you kiddos, the stress of taking care of a home and young children. Your daddy and I love you all so much, though, and I hope that is what you see when you do look back on these years. And you babies adore your older siblings so much. I hope to nurture this throughout your life. Even if some of you are “only half” brothers and sisters, you are still a part of each other. Just because you have different mothers does not mean that you don’t greatly effect one another. Just because you don’t always live in the same house, does not mean you can’t have rewarding, lifelong relationships. All of my five brothers and sisters are “only half’ brothers and sisters, technically speaking. None of them have the exact same mother AND father as I do. Still, your aunts and uncles have all made such a difference in my life. I have never seen them as anything less than simply my siblings. They all mean so much to me, and each are special and amazing in their own way.
Hold on to your sibling relationships as best you can. Be there for one another when needed. Be a part of each other’s lives, even if life and circumstance take you other directions and away from one another. Who you are is a part of what lies in one another. You can find strength in each other. You can give strength to one another. Do not forget this, and do not take it for granted. This will not always be easy. It can be hard to make time for the ones you love, especially as your own individual families begin to grow. Just do the best you can to appreciate and preserve those relationships that have helped you grow and shaped who you are. I struggle with this myself. With five brothers and sisters, I’m sure I’m not nearly the sister that I could be. I am trying, though, and I hope that all my siblings know how much I love them and would do anything for them, regardless of the time or space that may stand in between us.
You are so wonderful and precious, my beautiful babies. I have complete faith that you will grow into extraordinary beings, just as you are so magnificent to me now. Find your way. Find your peace. Find your place in life. Be kind and honest along the way. Both of these things will assist you in finding your true path to happiness.
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
~Albert Pike
Know that I love you so much. I pray that my life reflects every lesson that I hope to teach you, but even as my imperfections may shine through, know that this does not make what I am telling you any less true.

You are everything to me, and I am so blessed to be your mama.

Yours truly and forever,
Your adoring mother,
Sandra Lea Highfill
XXOO

MAMA AND ROWAN

Reflections

Poetry

I see it in the mirror

In the morning as I brush my hair

And on the ripples of the lake

When the moon is shining there

In the eyes of my own children

When I can see the beauty of my own love

When I see the beauty of the world

In the the lovely flight of a dove

You can see it in the poor and homeless

A reflection of our waste and greed

You can see it in all that we sow

For it is a product of the seed

Reflections are everywhere

They show us what we don’t always see

And my words are a reflection

Of what lies deep inside of me.

Life

Poetry

Such a brief moment we have

Just a glimpse of light, a breath of air, a pounding of the heart

The wretchedness of pain, The warmth of love

A passionate kiss, The numbness of regret

The pursuit of self

The moments of truth

A world to set your heart on fire with passion and emotion

A billion tiny moments

Put together to make up a lifetime.

Or maybe not, maybe far less moments

No one can know how many times the heart will beat

And it may all be gone in the blink of an eye

Each breath may be the last

The words that are spoken may be heard no more

That warm embrace may mend a heart

Those forgiven lies may save a soul

Do not with hold for tomorrow what you can love and make right today.

Looking Inside

Happiness, Meditation

              

If happiness is based on how good the situations in our lives are, e.g. how much money we have, how good our relationships are, how healthy we are, then it would be to say that we have little control over how happy we are. You can work hard to make as much money as you want, but regardless of your predisposed social standing or hard earned education, there is no guarantee of having financial wealth. Having good, healthy relationships is a wonderful goal and I believe completely obtainable, but you still have a limited say in how and when this happens. All relationships take work, and when and how you will come across those people that you are the most compatible with is not really something that you can control. And you can work your whole life to be a healthy, fit individual and still have any amount of tragedies health wise.

If we are to admit that we have little control over the outward circumstances in our lives, to say that this is the source of our happiness is really a sad concept. However, if we look inside ourselves first to find inner peace, happiness, joy, we find a completely different outcome. I believe we all have it within ourselves to find these things if we allow ourselves the time and energy to do so. If we allow ourselves to see the beauty inside of our own beings, you are not only less dependent on the world around you to bring you joy, but you are also more likely to see the beauty in all that surrounds you.

This has been my recent endeavor: to change my way of thinking about happiness. My whole adult life I have done what so many of us do. I have worked so that I can make whatever amount of money I felt necessary for me to make at the time. I have searched for those relationships that made me the most happy at the time. I have focused on goals and things in life that I thought would make me feel complete in life and bring me more joy. While I don’t think it is a bad thing to work for things you want in life, all of these things are only situational and subject to change at any time no matter what my efforts. And if and when they do, when that amount of money no longer seems enough, when that relationship goes through hard times, when that sought after good health fails, what are we left with? If we change our way of thinking, though, if we look at happiness as something that dwells inside us always and is a part of us, then we no longer depend on these outer circumstances to make us so. And if we can find that inner peace and knowing of oneself, then doesn’t it seem logical that all those other things in life are more likely to fall into place? If your focus is finding peace within yourself, it seems more likely to me that your life will naturally reflect this, and you will almost subconsciously put yourself in those situations that are more conducive to that state of mind. If you take the time to give grace to yourself and learn the inner workings of your mind and heart, doesn’t it seem more likely that you will make better choices in the important areas of your life like career and relationships?

So, I am attempting to take myself out of the rat race, if only for moments at a time. I’m not quitting my job or pawning my parental responsibilities off on someone else. I still have many, many duties to take care of in life, and I will continue to embrace these. But I am making more time for myself. To meditate. To write. To read. To contemplate. To get to know myself again. To breathe. To be present. To look inside myself and attempt to listen to my heart and mind and relearn what it is that truly brings me joy. To try to see the world as it is: a constant state of change over which I have little control, but is still simply life rearranging itself.

The Pursuit of Happiness: My Preoccupation

Happiness

               

My love and preoccupation in life is the pursuit of happiness in the largest sense. I want to find ultimate fulfillment, peace, and joy in life, and I want to help others to do the same thing, primarily those I love the most because their joy and well being have a direct effect on my happiness. I want to spark the inspiration inside of others to believe that they can be truly happy and learn to live a life they love. This is not to say that I am just a super happy person whose life is great and everything is wonderful all the time. Far from it. My life has problems and chaos, just like everyone else’s. But I do not believe that true happiness, joy, and peace are situational concepts. I believe that they come from the inside and shine their way out. I believe these things come from an inner knowing of oneself and a feeling of being at peace with the world around you. No one can really take your peace and happiness away. It is a part of you. You can let it go, but that is a decision, probably an unconscious decision, but a decision made all the same. We will all hurt, feel pain, anger, and have bad things happen to us. But I believe that we can all find the strength and beauty within ourselves to seek out and experience ultimate happiness at the best of times, and at worst still have a deep inner peace during the hardest times of our lives.

My passions are living life, loving it, feeling it, making the most of it, learning what it truly means for me to make the most of it, and being able to share all this with others and inspire them to believe that they can do the same. We can explore the wonders of our hearts, minds, and souls. We can have peace. We can be happy.