families, living and growing

Transforming Love

“It’s been a slow but steady change. Something that bordered on indifference had transformed into investment and caring. An awakening awareness. 6 years ago my Uncle Ed died. His death, which came a year after my Aunt Mary’s death, shattered my father. He was the oldest of 4 siblings. He had lost his youngest brother years ago. But it was the recent death of his brother and sister, that broke him. The man who had always played the role of the big brother had no siblings left to care for and protect. He struggled with the injustice of them going before him. The consummate big brother had lost his purpose.

My Uncle Ed and my Dad had for many years, lived within a 40 mile radius of each other. They got together often, talked on the phone regularly and were deeply invested in each other’s lives. Each had children of their own and tried to get these cousins together on a regular basis.

Some of my siblings developed, early on, deep and lasting relationships with these “Framingham Convery’s” as we called them. My relationship with them was different. There were six Framingham cousins in all. Three of them were quite a bit older than me, closer to my own siblings ages. But I had one cousin a year older than me, one a year younger and one two years younger. And for most of our childhood we had the type of relationship children have when they feel forced to play with one another. I liked them more than I disliked them and as we all got older we came to like each other even more and let our own insecurities go.

But the overall indifference I felt, remained. Until their father died. Having their dads brother as my dad, I knew what they had lost. I understood the impact. Both men were larger than life. Both left a huge vacuum that time and space could not fill. My dad died just over a year after his brother. And my understanding of exactly what their loss felt like, grew.

And as that understanding grew, my indifference began to be transformed into something new. The indifference had not been born out of dislike but rather stemmed from the busyness of life. For our entire lives, our fathers updated us all on each other’s lives. No real investment was necessary. I could listen as my father would recite to me all he had learned about each of my cousins from his latest phone call. I could smile or be sad for them, whichever was appropriate and then go on with my life.

Until there were no more updates to rely on. And these people, this small band of Convery Framingham’s began to grow in importance to me. Why? Because THEY KNEW. They understood the depth of my loss. We had a shared history that I could no longer allow to languish on the sidelines of indifference. Slowly and surely I began to care. Indifference gave way to curiosity. Not a gawking kind of curiosity but the kind that develops as one starts to see the value another holds.

Each year since their dad died, my Framingham cousins have held a fund raiser around St Patrick’s day to raise money for a scholarship in my uncles name. And each year I have gone. Our dads both loved their Irish heritage and the day that allowed them to celebrate it. It’s a warm time and as the years go by, it feels less and less sad and more and more of a tribute to exactly what those two men would have wanted. The tribute goes well beyond the Irish celebrations because the real tribute is the growing relationships. It would have delighted both of them.

This year I noted a change when I went. I always enjoy it and have looked forward to it from its beginning. But this year, I felt something new. I felt at home. Completely relaxed. No pretense. No walls built up from years of indifference. I felt a deep abiding appreciation and a deepening curiosity. These people MATTER! I need to know more about them. I WANT to know about their lives. I feel that I have been given a gift……a gift stemming from the love two brothers had for each other. Finally I was open to it being passed down in a way that transformed my heart. My cousins have experienced this too…I can see it and feel it when I am with them.

I know my dad and my uncle are smiling down at us….glad we finally understand what they knew, all along. These growing relationships reconnect us with a part of ourselves that was lost when our dad’s left this earth. But connecting with each other isn’t just about holding onto to something we have all lost. Its bigger than that. This connecting transforms us. It takes us off the path of indifference and puts us on a path of deep, abiding love. That’s a transformation worth celebrating and a tribute to the special love that began long ago. A love that transforms.

Love, marriage


This week my husband and I celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. I’m proud of this milestone we’ve hit. And I’m grateful that we not only made it to 30 years but that we made it here strong. Intact. Together. Truly happy, together.

Marriage can be hard. Insanely so sometimes. But it’s also the most satisfying thing on the planet when you get it right. And miraculously, overall, we have gotten it right. Which is amazing when you consider we were kids when we met. I was 16 and Scott was 17. A high school junior and senior. One date, led to us going out. And breaking up. And going out. We went out for 3 years and and that was followed by a sometimes rocky, 3 year engagement.

We were strangers when we started dating. And in some ways, we remained strangers for quite some time. Preconceived ideas about how relationships work and who the person is that you are dating can get in the way of truly knowing each other. We started out as opposites and we still have some basic characteristics that are very different from each other. But over the years we have learned to appreciate and value those differences. And in many ways, after 30 years, we have become alike.

Scott discovered Jesus 31 years ago. A year later I joined him on that journey. And for me, it was my marriage that made me open my heart to Christ. I watched Scott pursue this new way of life…I saw him embarking on a journey without me. And I determined I would go too, so we could stay on the same path. Eventually my faith became my own. Real and powerful. But it was my devotion to my marriage that made me take the first step.

Scott and I, always seem to chose the hard thing. We haven’t done it on purpose but its one of the ways that we are alike. We had responsibility even before we had kids, being the house parents to 9 adults with intellectual disabilities for 3 years. Then we bought a house and invited family to stay with us….got a dog, and before we knew it, had kids. Before our first child was 3 months old we were doing foster care for hard to place teens. We decided we wanted me to stay home with the kids- which meant we were broke for years! We took in more family. We took in friends. We had more kids…..and more kids. People routinely told us they ‘didn’t know how we did it” or the less tactful ones told us we were crazy. I guess we were, but we had each other so crazy felt pretty good. Then we decided to homeschool, The craziness continued.

But we made it through it all, pretty happy and content. And I think there are some secrets to our success. One secret is laughter…we crack each other up. We are not afraid to look silly or be silly and this has saved us unnecessary heartache. Heartache is self inflicted when you take yourself too seriously.

We also have always made it a point to do kind things for each other. We go out of our way to try and make each other’s lives more comfortable. We don’t keep score, we just do for each other because the other person is our favorite person on the planet and we want them to feel that. And during those times when we don’t ‘like’ each other very much…we still do it. Because kindness has a way of changing both the giver and the receiver’s hearts.

We have learned to keep our negative thoughts about each other between ourselves. Ok, Scott was always good at this. I was not. But he taught me how my complaining about him to others was hurtful and I listened. It doesn’t mean we don’t tell each other how we feel….we do. But we stop there.

And communication….we make talking – a priority. It hasn’t always been easy. Life is insistent and annoying and constantly wars for our attention. But we fight for time together to connect and share.

We have also learned together, the power of physical touch….even when you want to be mad. Even when you are mad or the other is mad at you. We’ve learned we need to not let walls be built and touch is the perfect way to stop them from growing.

We’ve learned patience. We’ve learned to let each other keep growing, We’ve learned to actually encourage each other to grow.

We’ve learned that neither of us can be everything for the other person. Sometimes it comes close, but most of the time, we need other people in our lives too. Friends, family. Making time for them is important to us. It’s not always easy to juggle this though. 30 years into our marriage and we still long for and need time together to stay balanced and healthy. With many things on our plates – sometimes, something has to give. We try not to let it be our relationship that has to sacrifice. But sometimes, times with friends is exactly what we need.

We’ve learned to forgive each other for not being perfect. For not meeting some unrealistic ideal. And we’ve discovered the importance of forgiving when disappointed. Little disappointments can add up and cause great division, if couples aren’t careful. It has happened to us. But we’ve been fortunate. Over time we saw what was happening and made a choice to forgive. Forgiveness doesnt come easily. Often it has to be fought for. But the battle isnt against our spouse. The true battle is against ourselves and the desire to hold a grudge.

I know I am blessed. People tell me how lucky I am. To still be ‘in’ love, 30 years later. And I am. I look forward to seeing him every day…..when I wake up, when he comes home from work and the moments in between. We haven’t done this marriage thing perfectly. We’ve had our ups and downs, just like most couples have. But we started this journey, determined. Determined to make it together.

I still see my husband as the most interesting person I have ever met. I see his flaws, we know each other’s flaws better than anyone else does. But I have discovered that I love him best when I allow him to be imperfect.

Our shared faith gets big credit in our story. We started our journey without it. And although we knew we wanted to be together, before sharing a faith, our relationship was rocky. So much depended on our abilities to sustain a good attitude and the right thinking. After we came to faith we discovered we now had a foundation to build on. Faith gave us a reason, so much bigger than ourselves and our fickle humanness, to work at loving each other well.

Hey, we still can annoy each other. We can still drive each other crazy and need space from each other. But even those thoughts are more balanced now. It’s ok and actually good to have a little space now and then. It is not a poor reflection on us that we need it. But our willingness to make time for ourselves is a reflection on our greater understanding of the things that ultimately make us stronger.

We realize that many people never get to experience what we have enjoyed. We see the last 30 years as a gift. The good and the bad. The happy times and the struggles. Our lives are so intertwined we can’t imagine them separate. We’ve built something of great value.

We have seen friends struggle in their marriages and we have seen marriages end. We can understand the struggle – it hasn’t been all sunshine and happiness for us. We’ve had regrets. We’ve felt sorrow for some of the choices we’ve made over the years. When our regrets loom large, we remind each other of our successes. We determine together if there are things we can do differently, moving forward, and we strive to encourage each other towards effective change. And we pray….individually and together, remembering that it is our faith that keeps us strong.

As this week leads up to my wedding anniversary on March 6th, I’ll continue reflecting on this 30 year milestone. Our story has been full of great love. And the hard parts have been softened and made bearable by that love. Two imperfect people, choosing to walk together on a journey. Choosing each other. Choosing love.

Me too, Uncategorized

“Me too”

The current “Me Too” movement and it’s focus on sexual assault, and harassment has had me thinking back.   Being born in the 60’s and growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, sexual innuendo permeated the culture.   Love American Style, Love Boat and Fantasy Island were the shows I grew up on.   Sex seemed to be everywhere and what is now understood to be harassment was in general, seen and accepted then, as ‘suggestive’ talk.

I am fascinated that the “Me too” movement has gained so much traction.   Fascinated and glad.  Growing up in the time I did, it never occurred to me that unwanted suggestive talk or advances was anything more than a troubling annoyance.   Something one expects and deals with (silently).   And as for dealing with abuse and abusers publicly, wow!  Today’s women are heroes.

So here’s my story.   It’s not truly a “Me too” story because it’s not related to workplace harassment.   Although I have had those experiences.   But it is related to the Me Too movement by a culture that encourages silence and a shared feeling of powerlessness.    It’s related by what can happen when people listen to others stories, believe them and take action.

All through my childhood we vacationed in a place called The Elms.   It was a cozy, little resort nestled in Goff Falls, NH.   I loved it there and counted down the days throughout the year until we would return for our week in the summer.   It was an idyllic place where children were allowed to roam freely, without supervision.   Parents were everywhere and everyone’s parents looked out for everyone’s kids.

But no matter what the time period or culture, kids left alone can find trouble.   And we did!  But for the most part, it was harmless fun or at least fun that fortunately didn’t end in harm.

Until that one night….  The Elms held a movie night, once a week in their dance hall.  The summer that I was ten, the movie was Disney’s, Million Dollar Duck.  Lots of people, both kids and adults would go. I went with a friend and we settled down to watch the movie.

At some point, two young men walked into the movie and one of them sat down in the chair right next to mine.  He was very tall and broad, with a short buzz cut.  He was not very good looking, but his friend was cute.  My friend and I giggled as they sat down next to us.   To ten year old girls, 20 year old men are quite exciting.

The guy next to me told me his name was Steve.   I knew he was a marine but I can’t remember how I knew that.  And then he put his hand on my leg.  It’s funny the things you remember in times like this.   I had worn a pair of yellow shorts with green trim to the movie.   On the leg was the words, “Girl Power”.   Ironic.  I liked those shorts.   In them I felt sassy and powerful.   More irony.

My first response was good.   I jumped up and dragged my friend to the bathroom.   I told her what he had done.   She was appropriately horrified.  But I was curious.  We went back and sat down in our seats and he got bolder, sliding his hand further up my leg and just for a moment, under my shorts.   At this point, my curiosity was replaced with fear and my friend and I fled.

But I didn’t tell anyone.   It was too embarrassing.

The next night, the resort had one of their regular dances in the dance hall.  It was a always a good time with young and old, together having fun.  And then Steve appeared.  He began to hang around where I was dancing.  A slow song began to play and he took my hand and said we should dance.   My parents were at this dance but weren’t alarmed by his dancing with me, I’m not sure if they even noticed.  After all, everyone got along with everyone here….

Fortunately one of my friends fathers noticed and cut in.   He said I looked uncomfortable and asked me if everything was alright?  Wasn’t he wonderful?!   I thought so.   He had saved me!   I don’t know what I said to him, though I am sure I denied there was any problem.   I stayed close to my parents after that.

The next day I was out walking alone when Steve and his friend approached me.   He asked me if I wanted to meet him that afternoon in the woods.   I don’t remember my response but I remember his friend with him saying, “Steve!  Come on!”  In a way that told me his friend didn’t understand Steve’s interest in me.  And his friend was right to be concerned.   I wasn’t only ten, I looked ten.   Pigtails, freckles….even too young for braces.   I was not some well developed ten year old who could pass for older.   I was clearly a kid.  I muttered something and ran off.

But the fear!   I was wracked with it.   Clearly he could find me anywhere.  He no longer seemed interesting to me but now, was very, very obviously creepy.   I was petrified.  And I did something that still amazes me to this day.   I went and told my father.

And here’s where the real story lies.

My father didn’t say much when I told him.   But as I write this, I am grinning at what I so clearly remember happening next.   My father went and found Steve (I watched from a safe distance).   My dad was in his 50’s, with the extra weight of comfortable living around his belly.  My dad, who was approximately 5’8” tall, went and confronted this 6 foot plus, big, buff, marine guy.

I can still see it.   I could hear my father say, “I want to talk to you, come over here.” And he led him away from where people were to a secluded spot by some trees.   I couldn’t hear anything else but I could see my father telling him something and I could practically see the sweat break out on Steve’s face.  The next thing I knew, Steve was getting into his car and tearing out of the parking lot.   I never saw him again.

I don’t know if my father ever reported it, but he wasn’t one to let things go easily.   Now I recognize that Steve was a pedophile.  I don’t think we had that name for it then.   I hope for other people’s sake, that my dad reported him.

Here’s what I do know.   My father loved me.   He was able to stand up to someone bigger and stronger than himself and come out the victor.  He never once made me feel bad for not telling him sooner.   When he was talking to that man by the trees, my father never looked taller!

So, yes, I also have “Me too” stories.   But I shrug most of them off as the time I grew up in. I didn’t know enough to be offended or to speak up.   I’m glad though that the times are changing.  Glad for my kids.   Glad for future generations.

And thankful, that even in a culture and time of great ignorance, I had a dad who believed me instantly, who stood up for me strongly and in doing so helped me to start to see my worth.  He didn’t know it, but he was teaching me to not only stand up for myself but for others as well.   That’s the part of the story worth remembering.



Discovery, Emoj's, enlightenment, letting go, Uncategorized

How Emoji’s Changed My Life….

Bitmoji’s actually.  Not the little smiley face emoji’s but the ones where you can create a cartoon version of yourself.  These types of emoji’s revealed something to me that I hadn’t recognized….I was stuck in the past!

It all started when I tried to make a Bitmoji of myself.  None of them seemed to look like me at all and I couldn’t figure out why.   It was puzzling and more frustrating than I would like to admit!

And then it dawned on me.   It was the hair!  No matter which app I tried, none of them had anything that resembled my haircut.   So I started to study the hair styles on the apps and realized the cold, hard, truth.   I was outdated!   Not quite stuck in the 1980’s but definitely not current.   My youngest daughter had been trying to tell me for years.   And she wasn’t subtle either.   But I couldn’t see it.

Until Bitmoji enlightened me.

I realized that most of the emoj’s had the hair parted on the side….so I started to look at people on the street and people on tv.  I discovered that nearly everyone with a part, had it on the side!   Where had I been?

See, it wasn’t really about staying up with fashion….one look in my closet will tell you that!   But it was more about NOT making myself look older than I already was, by dating myself with a haircut from a previous decade…or two.

So, I did it.  I cut my hair, colored it and now I have a Bitmoji who looks more like me….in a cartoon, squint your eyes, and use your imagination kind of way.   Of course, there’s more to the story than my just being enlightened by the app on my phone.   Twelve months of change and discovery is what truly got me to the place of letting go of the old and trying something new.   But that’s a story for another day.

clarity and direction, living and growing, spiritual growth, Uncategorized

How to See in the Dark

Life can be blurry.   We can long for clarity and direction yet answers elude us.

I had a dream this past week.   I was trying to find something but fog was rolling in.   It covered everything in a mist that rose about a foot off the ground.   Not only could I not see well, everything felt disorienting.

I forgot about that dream until I went to bed last night.   I have a condition called ‘dry eye’.   Each night I need to use an ointment in my eyes.  It’s consistency is similar to Vaseline.  I put off doing this each night until I have shut off my light.   Once I’ve put the medicine in my eyes, I can’t stand having the light on because it highlights how blurry everything is.  I like to be able to see.

I’m in a season of ‘not knowing’ these days.  A season of not being able to see how things can or will work out.   Personally and with my kids and with my aging mother.   I just can’t see what to do or where to step next.  Just a couple of weeks ago, I came to grips with the unanswered questions regarding my own life.   When it comes to me, I am again content not being able to see ahead.

But as my kids grow into their adulthood and I watch them make decisions that I worry about, as I watch them struggle, I long for answers.   I long for assurance.  I want to ‘see’ a secure future for them.  But things are blurry.   Very blurry as a matter of fact.   The kind of blurry that (literally!!) makes my heart race.   I feel disorientated.   I can’t see!  And when I can’t see, I start to struggle.

But I’m old enough now, to realize how foolish that struggle is.   Life is blurry sometimes, actually it’s probably blurry most of the times.  Sometimes we are blessed with true moments of clarity.  An unobstructed path that clearly points in a specific direction.   And those times are so comforting, so desirable, that it’s easy to start to want it to always be smooth sailing.   Life is messy though, and fog often rolls in.

I know two responses to this.  My first response:  which is to feel disorientated, to struggle, to feel sad, guilty, frustrated…..overwhelmed….afraid.

But then there’s the second response.   The response that allowed me to fall asleep last night.   The same response that had brought me contentment with my own uncertainties.

That response is prayer.   And relinquishment.  To surrender to God the need for me to see the future, trusting that if He is there, I can relax – whether or not the path is blurry.  It’s an ongoing response though, not a one time thing.   The circumstances that cause me to worry haven’t disappeared.   My concern over them hasn’t vanished.   But there is an answer and it doesn’t need to involve stressing out because I can’t see the answer.

I’m reminded that the second type of response involves depending less on my eyes to see what path to take.  But then how do I see?  I reach up, take the hand of the Lord who loves me, and I let Him lead the way.


addictions, blackouts, comfort, electricity, enlightenment, home, honesty, inertia, letting go, living and growing, peace, perspective, power, struggles, Uncategorized

Enlightened in the Dark

12 hours.  That’s all it was.   Short and sweet, really.   Friends in neighboring towns still don’t have it.   Power that is.   The completely underappreciated gift of walking over to a light switch, flipping it on and getting light in return.

12 hours, that’s all it took for me to appreciate that I am hooked.   Completely dependent on electricity.  The night time wasn’t so bad.   It wasn’t cold out and if it weren’t for my dog barking, I could have slept through the first 6 hours….blissfully unaware.

But my dog did bark, and I got up to check on him.   Flipped the switch to walk downstairs and…nothing happened.   Flipped it again, surely this was just a fluke?  Nope.  Nothing.   At that point, my son, who doesn’t believe in sleeping when it’s dark out, popped his head out of his bedroom and told me, “We’ve lost power.”   Oh.   Hmmm.

Now the nagging questions start.   Has anyone else lost power, why have we lost power, is everything alright?   It’s a little tough to tell at night if your neighbors have power.  But I spent a good hour, spying out different windows looking for a clue.

Then sleep….well, I would have slept except that’s when it dawned on me that my youngest wasn’t home from his shift that ended a t 11:30 pm and it was now 1:30am.  Thankfully after I sent a frantic text he responded quickly and assured me he would be home soon.  And he was.

So sleep finally came and quickly on it’s heels came morning.

Granted I was groggy that morning but still…..I found myself sitting – for two hours, in my recliner, doing pretty much nothing.   Don’t want to use the phone and drain my battery…but what is going on?   I need updates!!!  Meanwhile I continue to sit because somewhere in my head, without realizing it, I had determined I couldn’t do ANYTHING without power.   And it was at that moment I realized how truly dependent I had become.

Really, I could do nothing?   That’s ridiculous.   It was daylight after all.   Open the shades and get something done!  So I finally hauled myself out of my one recliner that is manually operated….did I mention how I also discovered in the middle of the night that when you don’t have power your electric recliners won’t work?   Who knew?!

While my kids wanted their devices, I wanted my FRIDGE!  Two weeks prior, someone left the door to my fridge open and in the morning I had the depressing job of throwing everything I had just bought the night before…out.   And here I was again.  Two weeks later and again, I had JUST gone food shopping.   But whatever!  I was use to this.   But the freezer too?   Man!   And no hot water, no oven, no curling iron (this was getting serious!) no washing machines, no, no, no, no……goodness, does everything plug in these days??   When you don’t have power it seems like it.

Even my land line disappointed me!   Like a dinosaur from times past, I have doggedly held onto my land line.  Because everyone knows when you lose power, only the land line works.  Except in this case, where we had lost our phone service too.

And then the magic happened.   A few beeps throughout the house….and voila!  Microwave clocks again tell time, TV’s work, phones can be charged.   Ahh, all is right with the world.

And I realize, I need to break this addiction I have to electricity.   Toughen up!   Kick it old school and go off grid!   I don’t want to feel this way again!   But as my refrigerator happily hums away, in my warm and well lit room, I find myself thinking maybe I’ll just get a generator…..

addictions, decluttering, diet, healing, hope, inertia, letting go, living and growing, mourning, moving on, new life, peace, perspective, struggles, Uncategorized, will power

De-cluttering – Letting Go of the Inertia

Why does inertia have so much influence over our lives?   What is it that can make us want to do something for a long, long time and yet we just don’t?   I blame inertia but I can’t seem to put my finger on what causes the inertia.   Sometimes it’s as simple as a bad night’s sleep.   The next day is spent just trying to stay awake.   But other times, when lack of sleep isn’t to blame, why don’t I do the things I say and think that I want to do?

Some of the things are simple….pick up that piece of trash on the floor….umm, no, thanks…I will instead choose to walk by it 5, 10 or perhaps 25 times before I finally decide to take the half of second it needs for me to deal with it.  But as soon as I take care of it, I feel better.  Funny that such a simple thing can bring relief yet I don’t choose to simply pick it up, the first time I see it.  What gives??

Then there’s the bigger things….projects, jobs, dreams….I get where some of that inertia comes from.   These things require time and effort.   They may require skills I don’t yet have, connections with people I don’t yet know.   Maybe I don’t want to start one more thing that I might not finish.   Maybe I’m afraid I’ll fail.  Maybe deep down I don’t really want to do it or maybe I think it’s not worthy of my time.

I’m trying to de-clutter my life these days.   Honestly, I started the process 16 years ago but with five small kids at the time, my attention was often diverted elsewhere.   And as kids grow, de-cluttering means getting rid of the past.   That’s hard.  For a long time I found it impossible to let stuff go.

So over the last year I started looking at de-cluttering in a different way.   It wasn’t just about getting rid of stuff….although I have doggedly been doing that.  I started in January with de-cluttering addictions.   First to sugar, and most recently caffeine.   Controlling the will and ultimately changing what the will wants is a long slow process.  It takes a lifetime.  But I’ve learned it is possible.

Then I challenged my lifelong distaste (bordering on hatred actually) of exercise.  I started exercising most days, last summer.   But then the cool weather kicked in and I quit making the effort.   I started again this past summer and learned the difference between doing something because you should and doing something because you want to.   The longer I did it the more benefit I started to see and slowly, very slowly, I began to want to do it because it makes me feel better.

With each victory over my old stubborn will of downright refusal, I felt lighter….slightly less cluttered.   But inertia is still the enemy.   It whispers how busy i am – there can’t be time to exercise….how deprived I am…so many foods you can’t eat!   It tells me other things matter more.  Some days I listen to those whispers.   Most days now, I listen a lot less.

All this makes me wonder….has inertia ever been a problem for you?   Do certain circumstances provoke it in you?   How do you move beyond it?  I’d love to know.