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.

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.


comfort, diet, doctors, healing, hope, living and growing, moving on, struggles

Waking up to a new reality

After a lifetime of stomach issues and medications that solve one problem only to create others, I decided I had had enough.   I couldn’t just keep doing what I had been doing and expect different results.

But I liked tried and true.   I liked mainstream.   I trusted it.  But the reality is that mainstream was getting me nowhere.   As a patient in my current health plan…the same health plan I have been at since I was EIGHTEEN, I have no less than 8 doctors.   All but my primary care doctor are specialists.   But it seems they never talk to each other about me.   Despite having access to my files, each one treats me independently of the other.   Each specialist only sees in me, their specialty.   The stomach doctor, treats my stomach, the skin doctor, my skin, the eye doctor my eyes…etc.

If any of my symptoms were ever connected, I would never know.

So I threw in the towel and headed to a new place.   A Holistic, Integrative doctors office, where one doctor wanted to know ALL my symptoms.   He did not want to know my diagnoses, he wanted to hear about my symptoms.   And once I started, I discovered the list – when taken as a whole, was pretty daunting.  And perhaps, very much connected.

He made suggestions, I followed them to the letter and….I am NOT cured!   Crazy, right?  Here’s what is really crazy.   For the first time in 51 years, I felt LISTENED TO.   Someone acknowledged my symptoms and really thought about a treatment plan.   I tried a 30 day elimination diet.   This is where I ate absolutely nothing I was familiar with, gave up everything that had previously got me through the day and tried a brand new way of preparing food, all at once.

I won’t lie, I hated the process and I complained…a lot!   What I didn’t understand when I started was, that this journey was going to change my life and my thinking.   Slowly over the years, I have developed better eating habits.   Got rid of soda, added fruit and veggies….but what I didn’t know is how much I DIDN’T KNOW!

Lately I feel like I’m living my very own science fiction story.   It’s like I fell asleep knowing how to feed myself and my family and I woke up realizing that nearly everything I ever thought I knew about food was wrong.   I hadn’t only been making bad choices for myself but I had been training my kids in poor food choices, their whole lives.

It was, and continues to be, overwhelming.   I still am searching for what is causing my stomach problems.   And I am still working on that elimination diet, even though I am well beyond the initial 30 days.   I have learned tons about my body.   And I have learned even more about food.   Real food.   It’s been a huge adjustment.   But there is no turning back.   Processed foods, sugar, additives, chemicals….I don’t want them.   But my repertoire of replacements are slim because I still have a lot to learn.

I consider myself lucky though.   With so many resources available at this moment in time…books that give me the real scoop on food and grocery stores that finally offer good choices, I feel like I ‘woke up’ at just the right time.

Food defines us in ways I never really thought about.   But so do illnesses.   If I can use food as a way to help my body to heal from a lifetime of less than stellar choices…I am determined to do so now.    The path is uphill, but I think it will be well worth the effort.