You are my sunshine

Yesterday was a gray day, cold. A light rain mist.
Not my favorite walking conditions but under the circumstances I wholeheartedly embraced it.
I needed a mental health break and to get my heart rate up and all the feel good endorphins before starting with homeschooling.

I only encountered three people in my 3 miles.
I made a special point to say good morning to the elderly gentleman walking in the same direction as myself but on the other side of the street.
He greeted me back and said,

“We’re the only ones out here!”

I responded,
” If we keep looking, I bet we’ll spot some more!”

I did encounter a smiling woman and another elderly gentleman on my walk who appeared appeared to be sporting a veterans hat.

I happened by a local boutique I have not been able to visit in a while and miss frequenting.
It is obviously shuttered for the time being. There were beautiful clothes in the window that just called to me and I thought it would be fun to peek in and see what her Spring displays looked like.

What I was not expecting was to walk away with tears in my eyes and a feeling of Hope in my heart. The first thing that greeted me was a sign with the words:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
you make me happy when skies are gray..m

Words to a song I sang over and over as I sat with my grandmother and held her hand as she was living out her final days in a hospital bed.

It was gray, and it didn’t look like the sun was coming out again. But it was a wonderful message of hope that hit me from a place I can’t see or get to. But I know she’s there.

I collected myself and walked away… tears disappearing and a smile in my heart.

No matter where you are or what you are going through, I encourage you to look for these signs of Hope every day. It might be the only thing that gets you through. It might be everything.

What are your signs of hope? I would love to start a conversation here and be filled with it!

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No Resolutions Here

Not a resolution fan? Me either. Packing all your hopes and dreams into some pressure-filled time frame known to be so quickly abandoned it’s a cliche?…I’ll pass. But I so love some quiet moments at the end of the year to reflect on what has happened, lessons learned, goals met and how I want to direct the upcoming year.

Holy cow. At first pass I say “buh-bye” 2019. Parenting was Haaaaard. My Dad was fond of sharing “little people, little problems, bigger people, bigger problems”. Some around me seem to sail through their kid’s teenage years. I have not found this to be the case. And as we have gotten deeper into them, I have tried so hard to remind myself what it was like to be there myself a million years ago. And how utterly selfish and ridiculous some of my own antics were. And I know more patience is required and always love. There will never be a higher calling for me or a more important purpose that I am destined to fulfill than Motherhood. Yet it is tough and this past year I needed a helmet.

But amidst all the parenting gyrations, some of the most joyous moments were those spent with all three kids tucked in under our roof, just hanging out and being together. My oldest is in his Senior year and things will soon be forever changed. It’s a little easier to be more patient with this focus in mind.

A cancer diagnosis made it’s way into the fabric of my family as well as a scary and sobering surgery for my husband this Summer. Amidst the stresses of work-life balance, parenting teens and oftentimes retreating to our own corners just to survive the day-to-day, we emerged stronger.

We said forever goodbyes to family members and friends.

When these moments in life came wave after wave, it pushed the boundaries of what deserves my time and attention and what can be left behind. The clarity it brings is stunning. Some things just don’t make the priority list anymore. And that is okay.

Two words emerged and they will direct 2020: Simplify and Self-care. I will be able to keep up with the pace this year will surely demand if I put on my own oxygen mask first. And I am evaluating ways to increase my odds of being successful in this area.

Last year Gratitude and Joy were the anchors with which I started the year. And experience taught me to find the joy in the midst of moments I felt most ungrateful for. And the joyous moments became all the more appreciated.

What about you? Have you felt compelled to reflect and evaluate? If you do, I would love to know what you come up with. Leave me a comment.

Happy New Year.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gut Punches and Gratefulness

How do you pull yourself out of despair? What do you do to get yourself back on track when everything feels like a struggle? This last week brought me pretty low. One bit of bad news led to another. Emotions were running high within my family. And for some reason beyond my understanding I kept replaying in my head the morning I woke two months ago and was so profoundly moved to tears when I saw this particular sunrise outside my window.

It is nowhere close to one of the painted sky, stunners anyone who follows me on social media knows I am obsessed with capturing. This one was pretty run of the mill as they go. But it wasn’t until this particular sunrise appeared outside my window that it became clear to me just why they captivate me so much. If I turned to the East, this hopeful vision greeted me. If I turned more to the West, this gray, cloud-filled sky was the view.

And that is where the profound sense of emotion came over me. A friend of my husband and I had recently been transitioned to in-home hospice care after a long and valiant battle with cancer. We live across the country and I felt helpless for want of being able to offer some daily help and assistance to my dear friend, his wife. Or be more readily available to comfort and just be there for her and her kids.

But in this sunrise it all became so clear to me. The view is so vastly different depending on your vantage point. I had the opportunity in that moment to see both perspectives. And it hurt. I felt her cloudy view and just sank into it. And I saw the hope in this beloved sunrise. And therein lies the fascination. With each sunrise and sunset I relish the wonder and beauty for sure. But the hope with which it fills me is incomparable. And comforting. And necessary.

Despite the challenges my family and I have experienced recently and the feeling that all was not right with the world and when would it be? this sunrise reminded me there is always hope. Our friend let go of fighting his battle last week. Even in her darkest hour, I know my faithful friend is grateful for the love and support of family and friends. I know she is grateful her Love is not suffering anymore.

The dark finds us. The clouds close in. But just knowing there is hope, believing there is another opportunity to see the light around another corner and so much to be grateful for even when it feels the darkest – that is what I find in the sunrise and sunset.

This sunrise was probably nothing compared to what our friend is seeing now, wherever his soul is. But this is what greeted me yesterday. Yeah… one of the painted sky stunners.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Transitions

I’m a summer girl. The frogs and birds in the wetlands out my window sing me to sleep. Easy breezy flip flops, sun up in the 5 o’clock hour gives way to my favorite road biking rides before my household wakes up. My husband and I enjoy date nights strolling by the river walk downtown. I adore outdoor concerts and the sounds and smells of Lake Michigan.

Yet so many claim fall as their favorite and look forward to the cooler temps and the change in season. I always long to hang on to Summer. Why?

Fall colors are stunningly beautiful around here. Memories of apple and pumpkin picking field trips and hayrides with my kids hold wonderful memories. Halloween festivities and the search for that perfect costume were always a childhood delight for me. And the big event that so many Moms look forward to for the return to routine and a break from siblings getting on each other’s nerves: school starts.

Bingo.

School always pronounced the passage of time and put an exclamation point on it for me. Whether it be a favorite teacher I would no longer have, the cast party capping off an amazing drama production or the incredible sports season coming to an end. School years were season after season of concentrated, elevated emotion. And I find even as an adult that a little bit of melancholy sets in as autumn approaches. Kind of like a strange knee jerk reaction. Change is coming. The falling temps and the fleeting beauty of the colorful leaves show me a preview.

The view from my kitchen window

Last weekend before the sun rose in the 4 o’clock hour, my oldest and I set off for a road trip adventure. I hadn’t stepped foot on the campus of my alma mater in over 20 years. I thought it would be a great way to share a bit with him about my university experience, take an official tour, soak up some of the campus life and enjoy a short walk down memory lane. It was a trip I had been wanting to make for a couple years. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect since he is a high school senior and we are exploring his post-graduation options.

In his eyes he was along for an interesting ride. He has had plans of serving in the military since he was young. And he is still exploring those details and gathering more information. However, he was game for my plan and was a good sport about it. And when was the last time he and I had a weekend just the two of us?! Ummm…Unheard of.

What ensued could not have been crafted more perfectly if I scripted it. We met up with one of my former college roommates who I hadn’t seen in forever and hung out at her house catching up with her and meeting her husband. Together with my friend and her husband, we all visited one of our old college Friday night hang-outs and enjoyed a meal with her daughter who now attends the university.

Bright and early Saturday morning my son and I took an official campus tour with an admissions official, visited my Freshman residence hall, walked a significant amount of the campus and ate lunch in a residence hall restaurant.

He was enamored with it all. And I remembered once again why I loved it too. And ironically, the campus never shines so bright as in the fall. That’s how I remember it most – with all the old brick buildings and the amazing old trees and yes, a little of the melancholy of transition and change mixed in.

campus grounds

I don’t know what this next season of motherhood holds. But the excitement I felt watching my son’s eyes light up and see his wheels turning inside his head was so gratifying. The sun is setting on a huge chapter in what I have known as a mother. I am savoring each night all of my children are safely under our roof and every meal we can all look each other in the eyes.

I don’t know what, but I do know next fall at this time something will be very different. And with the spectacular autumn sunsets and the changing leaves we will work our way through the next transition.

the sunset that greeted us our first night on campus

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Make Peace

I love being a work in progress. I’ve made so much peace with that.~Mariska Hargitay

A quote I heard yesterday in an interview with the actress. YES!

Resonated with me so strongly. It is a hard-fought road to get to the place where one can say this and mean it to the core. It is a messy, painful, glorious, emotional, blessed and treasured journey to get there.

It is the very reason I have not lived in this precious space for over two years. Too immersed in raising teens, journeying through several serious health conditions with three generations of three of the most important people in my life, nurturing some intense personal development and just trying to breathe. I could not bring myself to carve out the time to create. It was a marathon for reflection, focus, faith and acceptance.

How I have missed this outlet. It’s been getting to a crescendo and then the voice in my head bent on sabotage snuck in one too many times. But this time, I have a much more forceful reply. It will not dictate where I can go or what I can do. It might be a daily reminder. It might be by the hour. But I still hold fast to dreams, to growth, to hope and to new adventures. And I will be working some of that out here once again.

Feels good.

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Harding Icefield Trail: A Surprising Metaphor for Marriage

The trip I would have never wanted to take. The destination: too unknown and too far away. The travel time: my furthest distance ever traveled on a plane.  Not to mention the childcare arrangements for ten days and the anxiety of what may not go to plan in those days back at home.  The activities, car pooling, all those meals, baths that would probably never happen and the sibling rivalry and chaos about to be gifted to our poor unsuspecting families. (Well they do know our kids, they must have suspected something!)

I live in an alternate reality the days leading up to whenever Ice and I travel. The urge to stress and worry is never far away. Yet the older I get and the more successful journeys we have taken, this coping method proves to be futile. Simply put it was amazing and far more than I ever imagined.

Ice has been laser-focused for years on visiting Alaska. He pretty much knew whether I was in or not, he was going for his next milestone birthday. There was a pull that was very strong and he needed to discover it.  Conveniently too, every milestone birthday he celebrates we also celebrate one in our marriage. How could I not adventure ahead?

After tossing around using the services of a travel agent, he decided he would plan the itinerary himself.  Flawlessly I might add.  After studying maps and books, guides and magazines, he more than had a handle on what we might want to do and where.

I did my very best to rise to the occasion once being told I could only take a backpack! A back pack you say? Does this man not know I travel with everything but the kitchen sink?! Huge character flaw but I own it. I like to be ready for anything from migraines to surprise dressier occasions to a last minute entry into a 5k or a spontaneous do-it-yourself pedicure. It happens!  We went so far as to do a “practice pack” two weeks before just to be sure I could fit all my necessities in my pack. Happy to say it went well and I felt pretty confident I would rock this.

20170803_102751

This was it for 10 days!

Our journey started off in Juneau at 11 pm on a Thursday night. Walking off the plane in the light of day at that hour was surreal, but so very cool. And I will never forget the intense smell of the trees as we walked outside the airport.  It was intoxicating.

We packed so much into those 10 days.  The Alaska Railroad, Denali National Park, a Kenai Fjords boat tour for glacier viewing and whale watching, a two-mile sled dog ride with Iditarod-winning dogs and on and on.

But the highlight for me was an eight-hour hike we completed in the Kenai Fjords National Park on the Harding Icefield Trail. It was predicted to rain that day. Not the news I wanted to hear. But we had come prepared with all the gear and all this long way so we were definitely forging ahead.

We had been told the first one-third or so of the trail to be on the lookout for bears. I had become all too familiar with the trepidation of hiking with this knowledge when we were in Denali National Park. But it was still very unsettling and something to try and get used to.

As we set out it was very clear this trail was no joke. In many portions of the trail one misplaced step could have been disastrous. It was exhilarating and sobering all at the same time. Hiking up and up for hours on end.

20170809_085036.jpg

Hiking up and up

The more we climbed thoughts just started coming into my head about how this hike was such a metaphor for marriage.  There were things to look out for that could have compromised our safety, like the bear danger (of which yes a Mama black bear and her cub were on the trail with us we were told by several hikers but we just missed seeing them in the bushes) – much like the commitment of marriage and the pitfalls so many encounter within their years together.

I truly loved the climb upward. The anticipation of the view at the top kept me going.  The climb down would be harder. Harder slowing down the steep momentum in some places and just kind of “been there done that, I want this to be over” feeling took over. Of course Ice was the reverse. He was spurred on by the fact that the climb down would be so much shorter.  And in fact once we arrived at our destination and started to head back he encouraged us to run down the mountain together. Run! We ran past many hikers and people asking us “how much longer to the Icefield?” The trail certainly flew by running down the mountain!  It took us half the amount of time that first part than it had in the ascent.

In marriage, once you have experienced something and develop your strategy for moving over it, the descent does become quicker as time goes on. It may not be easier, as in my case, but the familiar feeling of a challenge and how to get past it does.

20170809_100538.jpg

Where is the rest of the trail?

It was right about here that we got lost. We searched for about 30 minutes to pick up the trail. I was getting impatient and wanted to call it. We had gone in several different directions and the trail markings were not leading us where we wanted to go. At times the clouds were nipping at our heels and it felt a little unsettling being up there and losing sight of where we had come from.  After encountering some Italian hikers who had spent the night up near the Icefield, they helped direct our way.

20170809_105926.jpg

The trail as it looked behind us as the clouds rolled in

“It takes a village” as the saying goes.  Many times we need help staying on track. Thankfully my husband and I have our faith and have relied heavily on that.  But sometimes others who have gone farther ahead on the journey prove to be great support and sources of wisdom.

And pacing is important. When we were starting off I was leading the way. As things progressed, Ice moved into the pole position. And at times we were separated on that mountain. I stopped frequently to take photographs. His long legs propelled him further at a pace faster than I.  We tackled the climb but at a different pace.

20170809_113533_HDR.jpg

Wait for me!

But the most standout part of the climb was the beauty, the views and the perspective.  We saw so many breathtaking sights. The extreme effort, the uncertainty, the faith in the worth of what lie ahead (the Harding Icefield!)…it all came together as we kept venturing further up that mountain.  Who knew Alaska would capture my heart as it did?  I would have never accomplished this climb alone. And I was so honored to be asked to do it with this guy.

20170809_115216.jpg

A kiss with a view and twenty years’ perspective

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Most Powerful Word in the English Language

For the last several years I have selected a word or phrase of intention for the year. Kind of like a theme.  A beacon to guide my handling of life and to give some perspective.  I can’t recall exactly when I was introduced to this idea. But it was an author whose books were popular among friends of mine several years ago. I thought “Why not? What could it hurt?”

Some of my past examples?

Faith.

Let it go.

Hope.

This year’s catalyst for my word? Another book found its way into my hands at just the perfect time.
Forgiveness.  

And it has made all the difference.

Forgiveness is hard. Perhaps that is why it is underrated. You and I find forgiveness hard because we are stubborn. Rather than stepping out to healing, we often prefer to sit and feed off our wounds because they are familiar and comfortable.  It is easier to do nothing. Maybe we struggle with forgiveness because we are lazy or because we are afraid.  But understand this: Forgiveness will transform you and your relationships once you release its power into your life. You will find a new and higher level of living and of relationships. Forgiveness is the most powerful word in the English language.

~Allen R. Hunt Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody

Whoa.

We can all think of someone -be it a neighbor, co-worker, friend or family member- who is a grudge holder. I know I can. I have some grudge holding in my genetic makeup.

Sadly, there are some past hurts that just won’t be set free in my extended family. And the ripple effect of these decisions far outweighs the original intent in my mind. Hurt begets hurt begets hurt.  Enough.

Forgiveness has more clearly set my relationships right with Ice and my children. With my family and my friends. With co-workers and with the kid at the drive-thru window who didn’t greet me before announcing my total with a grunt and just his hand out.  As I type these words I can think of an example where this mantra this year has served its intended purpose. And I am so grateful for it.

Speaking of the drive thru…

Recently Ice shared one of his experiences. He pulled into a fast food place at the back of their parking lot. The cars were already lined up. The angle he was accessing the line made it so he had to wait for the last car to pull up a little for his vehicle to file in. But it was clear to anyone watching that he was “next” in line inching in behind the last car.

As luck would have it a pick-up truck pulled in through the drive thru circle and made sure he left no room for Ice to inch his way in. Even though it was clear Ice had been there waiting first.  The driver of the truck made sure to signal with some choice gestures and set the tone.

So this is how it’s gonna be. You know you’ve been there. Whatever it was that caused that feeling of indignation, anger or dare I say, revenge.

There are several ways this could have gone. It was just the degree to which the situation could have escalated that I was concerned about as he was sharing this with me. But I did not see this coming…

He approached the loud-speaker to place his order. After placing the order he asked the employee if he could pay for the driver of the truck’s order! And watching ahead at the driver, he could tell there was some kind of exchange going on between the driver and the employee.  Over the loud-speaker the employee hesitated in their response to Ice’s request.  As I am hearing this I am thinking, what is the hesitation? The driver wouldn’t let him pay?? No, not that at all. Would you believe the driver had already paid for Ice’s order?! Yep, did not see that coming.

This is just one amazing example that the power of forgiveness has to heal and repair.  The fact that both men were willing to extend this gift was awesome. And the beauty of it is, when given to others it really helps us free ourselves. Hanging on to hurts and wrongs against us gets heavy and burdensome. Why be bogged down with such baggage?

As I have been exercising my forgiveness muscles this year, it finally dawned on me, what about the forgiveness we deny ourselves?  What burdens do we hang on to that add to the load we carry?

I can’t lose the weight.

I don’t measure up.

I failed to reach the goal.

I’m not enough.

It brought to mind a situation I found myself in several years back.  Long story made short a misunderstanding occurred that created a very awkward situation for some friends. I found myself in the middle and made a couple of choices I now regret.  Feelings were hurt. Apologies were made repeatedly. Attempts to explain what had transpired were offered. But in the end, the choice to accept these attempts was denied and I have held the burden ever since.

Over time when I encounter the individual most offended it’s uncomfortable and awkward all over again.  But after time and space it’s clear to me I didn’t believe I could just choose to let go. Forgive myself.  I didn’t realize the problem wasn’t with her.  It was with me.  What else can I do? I made every effort to set it right. The sad part is she still holds her burden and the key to set it down and move on.

I so want my children to be able to adopt this way of living as they grow older. It will make their journey through life so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.  And kids always have a wonderful way of demonstrating forgiveness. One minute could be a huge teenage drama and the next it’s I’m sorry and on to what’s for dinner? I love that.

There is almost no greater gift we can give ourselves than to forgive. It’s a fresh start. A new beginning. It paves the way for more good stuff to get in and also be given out. It clears the clouds and allows the sun to shine.

Forgive.

Sunrise

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.