Embracing Winter.

IMG_0687As you probably know by now, I am not a fan of Winter. I can usually endure it for a minute when it’s Christmas time, but come December 26, I need it to be Spring again. I usually enjoy about the first twenty snowflakes before I need to find a sunny beach somewhere.

Yeah, weakling, I know. But I’ve never really enjoyed having my fingers stuck together by frozen particles of the Antartic or subzero icicles hanging from my nose. Ok, so maybe when I was TWO, but you get my ‘drift’. It’s been a while.

I’ve never been a fan of cold weather, and it seems no matter how positive I am about the situation, going into it, usually by the end of January, I end up hating myself and my knee high boots, and swearing that I will live in the tropics by next Winter. No matter how determined I am to stay happy and to rock my fabulous faux fur, usually by February, I am pretty much lying curled up in a fetal position somewhere in the corner of my house. The warmest corner, that is, aproximately three inches from the front of my little electric heater, which stays permanently attached to the wall in our master closet.

(Yep. If you ever can’t find me, and it’s February and my two year old hasn’t burned the house down, this is where I’ll be.)

Usually by Valentine’s day, I’m not even trying anymore. By then I’ve given up on every single positive mantra I’ve ever chanted to myself, and I’m just straight up bitching and moaning about my frozen state. By that point, the fabulous faux fur is stuck to my face and I’m feeling like a flattened-out pancake at the bottom of a snow drift, wishing for Spring.

Welll…except for…are you ready for this??? I really don’t know what’s happening with me, but somehow I think I might be enjoying Winter (go ahead and gasp, it’s ok) just a teensy tiny, weensy little bit this year. I don’t know why, but so far (fingers crossed) I have found a new appreciation-cough-I-mean-understanding for that ghastly sham of the four seasons and I’m actually a wee bit happy, amidst the icicles.

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So when my husband said he wanted to try out his new camera and it was the coldest day in history, I said “YES! Of course, we should do THAT!” Ok, so I wasn’t quite that excited, but I had recently changed my attitude and my hair color and I decided, “why not? Why not celebrate the things I don’t love and perhaps trick my brain into loving them? Why not just embrace the moment, accept what is, and find some value (aka FUN) in it?

And so I did. These photos are about that. This photo shoot, however impromptu, was not about me being some kind of weird alien human who just simply loves the cold. And yes, there ARE people like that! This was about focusing my energy on having fun, no matter what. It was about living life, wide open, no matter the obstacles, or the difficulties.

And you know what? It was actually kind of amazing! I had way more fun than I would have ever anticipated and my fingers didn’t even freeze together!

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At one point, I grabbed a handful of snow with my bare hands, threw it up into the air and then felt it softly land on my face, and for a moment, I actually thought I was Cinderella.

It was so beautiful and romantic.

Before long, I found myself laying in the snow, making snow angels, and remembering my childhood winters in Ohio, and how fun they were and how we would huddle together with the neighbor kids to warm up and watch our breath make shapes in the cold damp air.

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Suddenly I was that kid again.

The kid that always looked for the fun. The one that never missed an opportunity to get out into the middle of the ice and the friends and have a good time. I was that girl, and I was having a blast!

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So much so, that eventually I threw off my faux fur and began to waltz down the road, not even caring that the sun had gone down and it was zero degrees. I got so lost in the beauty and the magic of the moment, that I forgot all about my little electric heater and the hot chocolate that I would surely need immediately thereafter.

Isn’t that the way it goes when we throw off our fears and just simply get lost in the moment we’re in?

The older I get the more I realize that so much of my art depicts my life. This is probably why I love acting and modeling so much. There is always so much meaning to be found in the characters that I play, whether in front of the camera, or behind it. The camera of life, that is.

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I see the joy and the fun behind these pictures and it honestly makes me wonder why I haven’t embraced the Winter before? Why did it take me so long to accept it and appreciate-ahem-understand it?

But this is the process I’m in, and little by little, I’m letting go of my hang-ups about it. Little by little, I’m practicing what I preach and I’m truly finding beauty in everything. Even the fur that’s stuck to my face.

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This is why I say yes when it’s freezing and my husband wants to try out his new camera. And this why I have hope that perhaps someday I will fully enjoy Winter.

 

Suicide and Dying With No Regrets.

I’m going to do the unthinkable and talk about suicide today. Yes, that dark evasive thing called death that no one wants to talk about, much less to acknowledge or admit to, much LESS around the holidays. Yes I know this is a “happy” blog, and yes I know this is not a feel good subject. But the truth is, this is part of my story and it’s part of so many other precious souls that I know, I think it’s time we talk about it.

Like this guy did.

I think he’s pretty friggin’ brave. What strikes me about this story is what I will call suicide regret, and I believe everyone who’s ever attempted to end their life, successfully or not, has felt it to some degree.

I know I did.

When I first stood there outside my car and looked down over the crevices of that Tennessee mountain, I felt only fear and despair. I knew something had to change and I thought the only way it would is if I would take myself out of it. I was sure that the only chance my husband and baby had at a better life was if I got into my car and gunned it over the edge.

Nothing could convince me otherwise. I was so mad that I had believed the lies. Mad that I had walked into yet another situation/relationship that had been so hard and so hurtful, and my mind was made up.

It was eerily quiet as I stood there, thinking long and deep into the abyss that threatened to squelch my life, to still my beating heart, once and for all. The phone rang. I let it go. “I can’t.” I thought. If I answer it, he will convince me not to do it.

It was my husband. I was too angry, too afraid to talk and so I just stood there, numb and yet knowing what I had to do. It was the only way out.

The phone rang again. And again…and again. It was destroying the quiet, disrupting my plan and forcing me to start thinking…rationally, perhaps? “What if? What if I picked up that phone and everything WOULD change? What if this was the one time that things would be different? But I would never know if I was lying flat at the bottom of that hill in a pile of steel and metal…”

I got into the car and revved up the motor. I fiddled with the radio. I looked over again at the sides of that steep hillside, and wondered how fast I would need to go to make sure I did not survive. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right. My hands shook. My whole body shook. I HAD to do it.

But, then…”what if? What if I regret it the second I do it? My daughter would never know..”

Ah, my daughter!

And that’s when the text message came. “Your daughter needs you. Please come home.”

Suddenly out of nowhere, I snapped out of my rage and picked up the phone. What was I doing? My daughter needs me!

I burst into tears when I heard my husband’s voice. It felt both terrifying and amazing to hear it. I was relieved in the most unexpected way. Thing is, I knew I would have regretted it as soon as my car would have left the road. I knew I would have thought about my baby girl and I would have had the same thought that this man did…

“the millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret.”

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I know now that this is true. There is nothing pretty about that moment. There is nothing heroic about that millisecond where your brain has overruled your heart, where the lies have overwhelmed the truth and convinced you to take that leap.

It’s only instant regret.

I know because that’s what I felt in that moment and my hands hadn’t even left the steering wheel yet. I’m so thankful for that. I’m so grateful that I felt that tinge BEFORE it was too late.

I’m so glad I decided not to die that day. Because as God and destiny would have it, I went on to live the best and happiest life I’ve ever lived, after that. Today I live a full life, one that has sadness and joy and misery and yes,  ‘happy little surprises.’ But through it all, I’ve made it my mission to live AND die, with no regrets.

The truth is I would rather go unexpectedly and completely out of control, with fullness of heart and life, than to go being in control with even one regret, if that was the only regret I ever had, and if that was the ONE that took my life.

Truth is, I don’t want my daughter (or my son) to ever wonder if I “wanted to” die or not. I want my children to know that no matter how hard it ever was, I lived and loved life to the fullest, and that I died with NO REGRETS.

Yes, this is a heavy subject to broach especially around the holidays, but honestly I’m so tired of hearing of another beautiful soul making that leap, and wondering if they really wanted to die. Wondering if they knew how much we wanted, needed them here. And how amazing their life might have been, had their hands not left the rail.

If that is you and you are on the brink of a hopeless end, please think about this. Consider the instant regret and how you can’t undo that. Most people don’t get another chance to take that decision back like I did. Most people that take that leap don’t ever come back. Please don’t be one of them.

Instead, do something brave you won’t regret, and ask for help. There are plenty of people and organizations and healing therapies that can and will work. There really IS hope.

I am not a professional in any one of those things, but if you need a listening ear, prayer or perhaps a little encouragement, please send an email to: happylittlesurprises@gmail.com or send a message via www.facebook/happylittlesurprises.com. I am always happy to hear your story and to offer you my own.

Be brave and reach out today! You are worth it. You are loved. You are beautiful. You are valued and needed.

No regrets.

The end.

 

Resources:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Northern Colorado: http://allianceforsuicideprevention.org/about-suicide/where-to-get-help/

General:

http://lostallhope.com/help-me

http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-speak-us-about/i-want-kill-myself

Depression:

http://www.adaa.org/finding-help

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/06/11/supplements.for.depression/

http://info.achs.edu/blog/depression-and-anxiety-can-essential-oils-help

Treatment Centers:

http://www.therefuge-ahealingplace.com/depression-treatment/

https://www.aplaceofhope.com/

http://www.sierratucson.com/depression/

 

 

The Slowing. (A Poem)

Words come slow and steady on the paper

where my heart and my tea pours,

and I feel the warmth of the Autumn sun

against my cheeks.

It fills my mind with thoughts

of beauty, of life, of death,

and the endless cycle that it is.

How nothing in this world lasts, but how it is good and helpful

and wise, because it teaches us.

It teaches that love runs deep and love is really all there is.

That seasons come and go,

that the river ebbs and flows

and then it slows

until it becomes only a trickle of what it used to be.

How it will never die,

but it will always flow.

It will always be

the river.

It will always carry life and hope and refreshment for all who sit on its banks

and all who drink from its waters.

I soak in the warmth and remember the seasons and the reasons

why I’m here

at this place,

in this moment,

HERE.

Where all is still

and the waters of time have slowed to a trickle.

The hurried days of summer have all but dwindled

and it’s only me, and the sun and the beauty

that is

this season,

this life,

this death,

this slowing down.

It always comes when I’m not ready, but it always brings me gifts.

Gifts of peace and a new understanding

of what it means to live,

to breathe,

to celebrate each moment, without fear.

No fear of the cold and the future and what comes next,

But just to be,

Fully alive.

Remembering the summer without wishing for it.

Enjoying the memories, without pining for them.

Listening to the thoughts

that come, without cringing.

Coming to peace with myself,

and the dying.

The dying of leaves and plans and ambitions

and the golden dreams of summer.

PEACE

with where I am

and where I’m not.

Embracing the present,

Without the noise and the rage and the battle.

Embracing this place

where my heart becomes quiet

and the ink and the river slows.

Where all I can hear is that gentle bubbling,

the hushed and silent knowing

that all is well.

That whatever the pause, the change, the internal winter brings,

it can never take away the sun, or the beauty or the warmth

0f this moment.

For it is deep and eternal,

and it is mine to keep.

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How to Miss a Flight, be a Selfish Prick, and Find God at the Airport.

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“Life is diving in heart first.”

Those are the words I read on my pumpkin chai latte, as I screeched into the rickety chair at a little Mexican joint inside the Denver International Airport.

Out of breath and exhausted from two thousand stairs and three hundred  escalators, I plopped my two little bags down and breathed.

Deep, heavy breaths.

Breaths that I had been holding in for days, and had not allowed to escape my body, all the way to the airport.

I had had just enough time. And then my beautiful 5 year-old daughter decided to cut her hair right before I left. Not a big deal, except that she had butchered it. Chopped it all off. Six inches of perfectly gorgeous blonde hair.

She came, sad face, and holding the chunks in her hands.

I stood there for a minute and looked at her distress, and then in a fake calm voice, I told her “its OK, hunny, we can fix it. And you still look beautiful.”

I had to go. My flight was leaving in two n a half hours, and I had just enough time.

I gave her one more quick hug, and then passed her off to my husband who was just waking up, still drowsy from eye surgery the day before. Baby boy was back in bed, after trailing me around since 5:30. And I was still relatively calm, when I pulled out of the driveway and headed South to DIA.

Traffic was beautiful, and I got to the airport 80 minutes before my flight to Nashville was scheduled to leave. “Perfect,” I thought, as I whizzed into Terminal East to find a parking spot.

I drove up and down and back and forth the rows, but there was no space. I looked everywhere and even considered parking up on the grassy hillside. NONE. 15 hours, I mean minutes went by and still I had no place to park. It seemed odd. I had been to this terminal a hundred times before and I could ALWAYS find a spot.

Not this time!

Finally I decided to try another lot. I looked at the parking garage to my left and rapidly drove my car in its direction. There was a gate that seemed like it should go there. So I pulled up to grab a ticket, but there was no ticket. Only buttons and numbers. Who knew I needed a code??!!  I tried to back out, but there was someone behind me.

At long last, I got outta there and circled around to try and find the RIGHT entrance for the garage. Instead I ended up by departures, and saw the sign for Terminal West. I thought perhaps I could park there. It would just be a REALLY LONG walk, but hey.

Time was running out.

I weasled my way West, weaving through traffic, dodging in and out of construction like a competent woman, and made it to Terminal West, right before reading the sign that said it was CLOSED.

So I circled again.

And again.

And again.

Until finally, I found a place to park in the back of the back forty, so I threw the keys in my purse, and ran like mad, toward the terminal.

Suitcase wobbling. Heart pounding.

Perhaps I could still make it.

I burst through the doors like I’m the only passenger needing to be somewhere, but nope. There is a line, exactly one mile long, filled with other anxious passengers, and so I begin to heave and flail, hoping that SOMEONE will notice that I really do need to be  somewhere.

Because I do.

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And don’t they know I need to be there by the next morning to help at a Single Moms Event? Um, ALSO, for the three whole days of singing and songwriting I was going to do with my Sis, when I’m there???

No. They don’t care.

Eventually I give in and take my place at the end of the mile-long line, and glance at the clock on my phone.

It’s now 9:35.

I have exactly 25 minutes left, when I get to the ticketing counter. The lady checks me in, scribbles a few numbers on my ticket, and I run, this time like Forest Gump, toward security.

Up the ramp, down the stairs, through the caution tape and the broke down escalator, cutting off Moms with babies and elderly people as I go, til at last I come, puffing and sighing, to the guy staring at me from behind thick brown glasses and a pile of boarding passes. He shouts orders, and demands mine.

I reach into my purse and that’s when I realize I don’t have it.

I don’t have my boarding pass!

I mutter under my breath and stomp off, back to check-in. But I’m out of time!

It only took a few minutes to get through security, but I didn’t make it. I got to my gate just as the plane was pulling out onto the runway. And needless to say, I was mad! Mad that after ALL THAT, I had missed my flight. Mad that there was NO parking. And mad that NO ONE had cared about it.

I took my two little bags and found a quiet corner where I promptly called and cussed and cried to my husband.

He reminded me that there is a reason for everything.

I wasn’t hearing it.

I didn’t wanna hear what my heart already knew, because my head was messing with me!

“This matters and you just missed it.” 

 “There goes your opportunity!”

(As if I’d never get another flight, or another chance to do what I was going to do!)

It continued…

“You suck, you can’t even make your flight, even when you get there in plenty of time.”

Its amazing how quickly you can go there, when you’re listening to your brain, and NOT your heart.

It wasn’t until several hours later, after I had woofed down my veggie tacos at the Mexican joint, and I was standing at another gate waiting for the next flight, which subsequently was fully booked, that I finally had an epiphany.

I had barely breathed the words, “Lord, please let someone miss their fligh-” when it dawned on me.

That could have been someone else’s words, earlier, when I missed mine!

Me missing my flight could have been the answer to someone else’s prayer! Someone may have had something just as important or even more than my being at a Single Moms event, or having three WHOLE days with my Sister.

I finally realized that it wasn’t about me. (I know. GRAND, right?!)

That whatever the reasons were that I had circled the perimeter of the airport that morning, it probably wasn’t about me or where I was going. (light bulb moment, helllooo)

You see, there’s room for all of us, on this ride. There is time for ALL OF US, in this life. There’s room for you to get where you need to go and there’s room for me.

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I made it to Nashville, four hours later, with nothing lost, except perhaps a little pride, a little ego. But I had gained perspective. I had gone a little deeper into my heart, and my human connection with the world.

I had found God in a way that I would not have, had it not happened or had I stayed mad about it.

And for that, I’m glad it happened.

Will I leave a little earlier next time? Um, yes! And will I try just as hard to make it? Heck, yeah. Chances are I will run and drive in circles at the airport, again. I might even forget to grab my boarding pass, again.

But I will look back on this day and remember its lessons. I hope I breathe, and listen to my heart a little sooner. Because everything does happen for a reason.

Sometimes the reason just isn’t about me.

This One Year.

Sweet baby boy,

How can it be a year since you came, face and fist, and eyes searching for your Mama’s? How can it be that you have been in my arms for this long and yet it feels like yesterday when I first held you?

A year since you did somersaults in my belly, and flipped face down, at the sound of my voice, asking you to? A year since I heard your cry and I first pulled you close?

Twelve months is not that long and yet you’ve already grown and learned so much.

How can it be that you’ve already learned how to crawl and smile, and stand on those wobbly little legs?? You’ve already learned to laugh at your daddy and to “run” away from your sister, so that she will chase you and that you’ll end up in a heap, giggling together.

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You’ve learned that life is an adventure and that you’d rather be exploring. You’ve figured out that you’d rather be discovering, than sitting on your Mother’s lap. And that pulling drawers out is the best. thing. ever.

You’ve learned so much and yet, you’ve taught even more.IMG_20140815_134142

You’ve taught that NOTHING is impossible when you greet it with a smile, that love is everywhere when you look with an open heart. You’ve taught that it is better to explore and to get hurt, than it is, not to.

You’ve taught that life and love are always worth the risk. And that we should not be afraid.

We should not be afraid of the bleeding, and the big kids and the bottom of the cereal bowl. That there’s always forgiveness and there’s always more, and we should hold our hands open.

We should not hold back for fear. Of getting in the way, or of getting it wrong, because that’s how we learn and grow and get stronger.

You’ve taught that life is good, and that the best days are not ahead, or behind us. They are right now.

You’ve come and you’ve learned and you’ve taught so much.

You’ve come with determination and gusto, and wobbled your way into our hearts and our world, like a train rolling into a deep, jagged chasm. The raw protruding left by another we never got to meet.

You’ve come and interrupted my life in the most wonderful ways, and I am thankful that you did. I am deeply grateful for this ONE year, for it has been one of the most challenging and the most beautiful, because of you.

I can only imagine how many more lessons, how much more beauty and adventure awaits us, in the days and years ahead. I can’t wait to hold your hand and run together.

Love forever,

Your Mama

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Celebrating M.O.M: Charissa, the Story of Hope.

In case you missed it, we are running a series here on Happy Little Surprises, where once a month, we feature an extraordinary Mom, holding up ordinary objects that represent the phases and the Moments of Motherhood that she finds herself in.

Last month, I wrote about Ashleigh, and the beautiful balancer that she is. It was such a pleasure to highlight her life, and to see the praise and the applause that came to her, from this community.

What a joy!

I am loving this series and I am equally delighted to bring you these photos of our next MOM.

Her name is Charissa, and she is called “Mama” by her two boys, Isaac, (4) and Andrew (1).

I’ve known her for less than two years, but she feels like an old friend, because she understands me so well, and she cares so deeply. In fact, she is one of the most selfless, caring people I know, and she gives of herself freely, every day, to her family, her friends, and to the world.

She is the happiest when she is in sunlight and in nature, in the mountains or at the beach.

When asked for one word to describe her life, she said it was : “hopeful.”

I think the word is super fitting, since “hopeful” is who she is and hope is what she gives.

Everywhere she goes, she tells the story of the impossible, and hope follows.

Her life itself tells the story of miraculous healing and breakthrough, and I think I can speak for many when I say that I instantly feel hopeful, as though ANYTHING is possible, when I am in her presence.

Her life tells many stories. Some funny, and others, rich with compassion, and deep truths. Some light and others, oozing of the mysteries of God.

Even the “bear” she brought to the photoshoot, tells a story.

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Charissa recalls the day they realized he wasn’t a bear at all, he was actually a puppy. But her son, Isaac, had already named him “Grey Bear,” so now, of course, he has no choice but to continue being a bear.

Grey Bear was a last-minute purchase for Charissa and her husband after they had left on a day trip, and accidently left Isaac’s other lovie at home. Lucky for all, it was love at first sight, and a good night of sleep, when they gave Grey Bear to Isaac. The two bonded deeply and went everywhere together, until his baby brother, Andrew, was born. Andrew did not yet have a lovie, and when Isaac realized this, he decided to give his beloved bear to Andrew, so that Andrew would also have a lovie to sleep with.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing?

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Needless to say, Grey Bear is in the family to stay, and Charissa brought him for good reason! He represents all the loves, cuddles, sleepless nights, and moments of sweet tenderness she has with her two beautiful boys.

She also brought two little cars that represent the daily adventures she has with them. She spends most of her days playing with, chasing, picking up, and searching for things that bring smiles to her boys.

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Things like these tiny cars.

They keep her busy, but she always has time to listen, and to help others. She pauses to hear the needs of those around her. And to tell stories. Those wonderful, miraculous, hope-filled, God stories.

I am always better for knowing them. And I am always amazed at her ability to use words, to encourage and inspire.

Charissa’s dream is to “learn to see the beauty that God has instilled into every moment.”

I see that beauty every time I am with her and I am grateful to be a small part of those moments, by bringing you these photos, and allowing you to have a peak into her life. I am honored to bring you a tiny glimpse of her soul.

For it is full of beauty, and of HOPE.

 

Note: All photo credits belong to Thalyta and Thalyta Swanson Photography, rights reserved. If you would like to share this, or any part of this content, please link back to this article, in its original entirety. Thank you! So we can all stay happy.:) -Ruthie

The Day My Child Drowned and I Said Yes.

So, it happened. My child went to the pool without me and drowned.

She loved water, and somehow decided to jump right into the deep end, even though she could not swim. She went under, even though I had fully armed her with a life jacket and every kind of floatie. They had ALL failed to keep my child safe. And my worst fear had happened.

At least in my mind it did.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, perfectly hot and sunny, when I got the nonchalant text message, inviting my daughter to go to the pool with some friends. I had already told her she could go to her friend, T’s house for the afternoon, while I would take a writing “date,” when I recieved this message from her Mother:

“Hey, is it ok if Ari goes to the pool with us?”

Of course, my first reaction was NO. It’s not ok. It’s not ok, because she hasn’t learned how to swim yet, and I need to be with her. Don’t you know that I am the ONLY one that can protect my child from the dangers of drowning in a pool?

Ugh.

And there it was. That crazy irrational deep-down fear that had snuck up on me several times before, but I had gotten really good at evading and covering and pretending it wasn’t there. I had even made excuses for it, as if it was mine to protect.

FEAR.

It hung there in the bright afternoon sun as if to say, “now what are you going to do, Ruthie?” Are you going to continue to be controlled and dominated by this thought (cause that’s all it really is, right??) and continue to say NO to your child having a great time because of it? Or are you going to take charge, kick it out, and say YES? Yes to that same child fully enjoying the water that she loves so much and finally being confident enough to try out her new floating gear?

I knew in that moment that I had been holding her back. I had been listening to thoughts of fear. And somewhere along the way, I had agreed with them.

Somehow I had become afraid of the pool.

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Yes, ME. The water-loving, ocean-adoring, free-spirited one that I am.

I was afraid of my child drowning, and no matter how many flotation devices she was wearing, I was deeply petrified of the unthinkable happening to her, if she was ever there without me.

Now I am not afraid of many things. In parenting, I generally believe that my children are OK. But for some reason, the sight of a pool and my children playing in and around it, triggers me like no other.

I’m aware that some of this has probably been there (for good reason!) from the trauma of my little cousin, drowning in a watering trough when I was just a child, myself.

The pain of that is still very real to my Aunt, and to our family. She still wonders why, and we still miss him.

I do not want to diminish that in any way, but here’s the thing. We have all seen terrible, traumatic things happen in this life, whether to us or to someone we love. My own dad suffered horrendously and died from cancer. My little brother got into a parked car and rolled it into a tree. A friend’s child got badly burned in a trash-burning accident. Another one got in a car accident and never came home from camp.

Tragedy happens.

And while it shapes our lives, we must not, we can not let it turn us into paralyzed zombies. This I am sure of.

If I was afraid of everything that had ever happened to me, or to someone I know, I would not have a life, AT ALL. I wouldn’t even venture out of my house, much less take two kids “out.”

So why then have I let the trauma of my cousin’s drowning, keep me and my daughter completely away from something as innocent and fun as the pool? Why have I allowed one person’s tragedy or my own “past” experience, to dictate how much or how little joy I experience right now? In this “present” reality?

I don’t know.

All I know is: it’s time to let it go.

So I said goodbye that Sunday afternoon. Not to my daughter, or to her carefree spirit, but to the fear that had held her back, and to the anxiety that had suppressed it.

As much as I wanted to say NO to the invitation that day, I knew I needed to say NO to the fear, and say yes, instead.

So I did.

I said YES!

YES to the fact that God has my child, and she is safe, no matter what.

YES to her living a great life, because her Mom isn’t afraid.

YES to smiles and sunshine, and kicking excited little feet.

YES to spending time with friends.

YES to loving someone with reckless abandon, in spite of what I could lose, and how it might hurt me.

YES to freedom.

But mostly, YES! to her having the time of her life, and coming home with the biggest smile on her face and exclaiming that she had learned how to swim!

For that, it was worth it. And for that I will keep saying yes. Even when fear comes and yells NO! I will say yes.

To fun, to adventure, to living. And to love.

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“(For) there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives away all fear.” 1 John 4:18