My grandmother just died.
I am sitting here, typing, because death brings emotions we are supposed to process to express. So I’m checking, looking into finding words to say what I feel right now.
Grandmommie and I had little to no relationship. For years I wished it were different. The problem was Grandmommie loved me but she didn’t like me. You can love someone deeply but not like them. I realized that a thousand times in little moments but couldn’t put it into words in my own mind until I was in my early 20’s. I chased after her wanting her to approve of me, to find something she could like… but it always came back to the words she said and the disapproval. It hurt then. It hurt a lot. Especially in contrast with her words that were kind and approving for others. Those words, however much I craved them, were not for me. I learned to accept it. As I got older, in learning to like me I had to remove her voice from my head.
When I was a newlywed she and my Grandfather would be traveling just 35 miles north of my home on a cross-country trip to go see my sister. This was great, they would be so close to me they could come see my life, see my cute little home and see me…really see me. Like a dream scene, I saw it clicking in their eyes that I wasn’t a loser. My husband wasn’t crazy for marrying me. They had asked him at our wedding why would he marry me? He was so impressive and I was so unaccomplished. It was the one smear on a perfect day.
BUT if they came to my house they would really see me, raw, and of course they would like me. They would be proud…when I made the invitation explaining it would be a small detour and I would make them a meal, I wanted them to see my home…the reply, “it’s not worth it, you understand Leta.”
And I did. I understood.
They didn’t say it in a mean tone. The facts were simply that detouring from the goal, the pre-plan wasn’t worth it—for me. I just wasn’t a priority. I got it. I hung up that phone and for the first time at 24 years old I forgave them for not liking me. I forgave them for not caring and promised myself to not expect it from them. That the hurt I felt wasn’t their fault it was mine for wanting something that couldn’t be given. They had been consistent in their approach to me—it was I who kept hoping for something different. I was causing me this pain.
I didn’t cry. It was what it was.
They are good people; they are loving and solicitous to many in the family. Just not to me, and that day I got it, I understood and I let be what was.
Going forward my responsibility was, as the Bible says, to “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I did that. I honored them with living a good life.
At times our paths would touch and I noticed I could let the disapproval slide. It was just their perception. They didn’t see me, the real me. And that was—well, I don’t say this in a tone; I say this matter-of-factly, with no bitterness—their loss. I didn’t have to make it my loss. I moved on.
One day 17 years after the day I let be what was.
I got a call in November 2012 and I was 39 years old—it was Grandmommie. She started by telling me about her mother, her voice was tenderly emotional. I had never heard this side of her. I didn’t know how to respond. I listened as she shared feelings with me. Then she said it, words that I’d never heard her say, “I am sorry.” She apologized for how she had treated me saying she “had wronged me”—we had a moment. A moment that I never anticipated having until at the feet of Christ. I felt it, she meant her words—the most amazing part was I felt forgiveness, the realization that I had forgiven her long before. I wanted to make this easy for her. I said, “thank you, this means a lot.” She told me she respected me, how I had dealt with the death of my daughter, she respected my connection with God.
Then it was over.
I would call on special days; we would talk for a moment. She would ask me about my parents, especially about my mom, her daughter. They talked often with her and she would want to know from me how Mom was really; my mother has health issues, skipping along the surface, never deeper. My mother told me that is all she needed to feel close. I don’t know really how to have a surface relationship, and I am not capable of duplicity, but I could have these brief conversations with Grandmommie. I could give her that.
I had received more from her than I ever thought I would in this life. I didn’t give into the hope that there would be more tender conversations, there weren’t. I helped buy her an iPad. She was grateful. That was the closest we ever came in the last 3 years.
Now. Right now. I know my grandmother and I are closer than we have ever been.
She isn’t truly gone, she is with my daughter, and she is in a good place where all the cloudiness of earthly perception will melt away. It’s more likely now than it ever was that she might stop by and see my life, see my house, see what I have created and say the words, feel the words I only heard once. She will be proud of me. She will even like me. She will get me. My exuberant personality that always bothered her as so inappropriate and unlady-like—I think she will find herself able to laugh with me now.
I am funny. I am really likeable.
Grandmommie helped me see that, because her perception made me really look at my own self-perception. She taught me that I can’t see myself through other’s eyes and I cannot expect or need from others what they cannot give.
So here I sit a couple of hours after her death thankful she was my grandmother. Because she taught me to forgive, to love others for who they are and to let be what is.
Will be seeing you around.
Before my daughter, Katelynn Faith was born, we knew she had a rare chromosomal anomaly. We knew that Katelynn’s differences had made her special and she would be given every opportunity to find her way in life. Katelynn is strong. During her time at the hospital, people could see how special she was. She was surrounded in a sterile, cold environment, and yet she locked eyes with those around her. People could feel her presence and attentiveness.
Every morning before going to the NICU, I remember sitting on my bed, looking at my wheelchair. I would think about what I needed to accomplish. I knew the day demanded more than I had; getting out of bed and getting ready was already so draining. So, God and I had a conversation. I told God how much I felt I could do of my day—usually less than 10%— and asked him to take care of the rest. I knew he had to carry me, because I had to be awesome, I had to be beyond my best for my three children depending on me. They looked to my attitude to see if they could get through this. I would not let them down because I was their mom.
I have been blessed in my life with having a close relationship to God. I know he has carried me and comforted me in some of the hardest times of my life. My relative, Stephen, is going through the similar need to ask God to carry him when he can do no more. Stephen has a Chiari Malformation Decompression, which is a rare brain disorder. Last year, a surgeon tried to fix the problem, and was unable to help. Stephen’s condition has been worsening, with Parkinson shakes, Grand Mal seizures, and periods where he doesn’t know who he is or where he is. He has liquid pressing against his brain, which is an additional problem that is causing a lot of complications. Stephen has been unable to work for more than a year because of his condition. In November, he was told his brain was starting to necrotize (die) and that he didn’t have much longer to live. When my niece, Sheraya found out what was going on with her cousin, she stepped in with fundraising to help pay for some of the medical costs. As Stephen’s story spread, a specialist on Stephen’s condition from New York got involved. In January, Stephen went to New York to see Dr. Bolognese and found out his condition was NOT fatal, and is operable.
My niece, Sheraya, has spoken to me about how it’s hard to see Stephen suffering. He’s in his early 30’s—and when he was younger, made decisions that led him down a scary path. It’s hard to see him change his life so drastically, and to have made his peace with God, only to have him now suffering daily from this illness.
Now we have hope, we have a goal—to raise the money for Stephen to get back to New York and get the surgery he needs to save his life. Stephen, and his wife, Lesley, are so upbeat and positive. Throughout the whole experience, Lesley has been looking forward, and has not lost faith that Stephen can get the help he needs. Stephen is taking life by the horns, and fighting a battle that is overwhelming. If you are interested in learning more about Stephen’s story or helping him get to New York, you can go to his website, BelayingStephen.com or his fundraising site, gofundme.com/belayingstephen.
I’m grateful for all I have in my life, and the fact that we were able to care for Nathan through the bus accident and heart attack, and then Katelynn through her time here. As much as we try to look on the bright side, the bitter truth is, crummy things happen in life. But, we can choose to come out of those experiences stronger, surer of ourselves, and more determined to love and cherish the people we have.
While writing my book, many people, places and events inspired me. This blog is to help look deeper into the inspiration behind some of the moments in my book, How to Embrace Your Inner Hotness.
The quote above was inspired by a woman I met at one of my Hotness Workshops. She was a mother of four children that were close in age. As so many of us do in that process, she lost a tinge of sanity, a lot of peace and the figure she had before she became a mother. At the workshop, she shared with the group a powerful story of how she learned about positive self-talk.
One day, after she got out of the shower, she looked in the mirror and felt that what she saw was not flattering. She was struck by the changes in her body. She said, “I grabbed by tummy, disgusted with myself that I was this fat! How could I let this happen?! I started to call myself names… and then I felt something stop me. Hadn’t this body birthed four healthy babies? That was a gift. I felt an impression that I was never to be so unkind to myself again. I felt that it was from God.”
After she told her story, the room was quiet. We all knew we were guilty of being unkind to ourselves and even bullying ourselves at times. Her experience spoke that truth into our hearts, in a clearer way than I could ever express. The truth was that God doesn’t want us to feel poopy about ourselves. Don’t be mean to that amazing body you have! It was made ON purpose for a purpose.
Choose to be nice to you. Honor yourself with your thoughts. Feed your mirror kind things.
If you want help with this, my book is available by clicking here.
I had the opportunity to be on Fox 13’s Good Day Utah segment yesterday to discuss my book, How to Embrace Your Inner Hotness, and the importance of self-esteem and being nice to ourselves.
Being the artsy-fartsy type that I am I love to play with paper! Back in the day was an avid scrapbook-er. Kinda hurts my heart to say back in the day because I would like to think I still am a scrapbook-er. The reality is that in writing my book something had to give. I have all the supplies – REALLY it’s a problem – and over Christmas vacation I decided I was going to make a bunch of Thank You cards. In the process of this I re-discovered my love of cutting, gluing, and design with paper.
When my kids are getting ready for bed and family prayer they brush their teeth, get in their pajamas (it’s a process). I’ll sneak into my corner (where all my supplies are and it’s still in calling distance for “brush longer” and “put those clothes in the hamper”) I’ll make a card or two as the kids obediently (fingers crossed) go about their routine.
Kids are always watching and learning. We don’t always know what lessons we are teaching. I thought I was teaching a lesson about proper two minute teeth brushing. But kids are always full of surprises.
This month has had some extra stressers. Some good and some not so good. I have been trying to manage the demands of being a mom, wife, daughter (my parents live in our basement and don’t have the best health), makeup artist, team leader, author, and speaker. It’s not always easy to balance them all. Sound familiar? This is the state of being a woman. We think that we can do it all and the problem is that usually we can.
My daughter’s school is on break and she has been with me throughout the day as I do a makeup demos. She colors as I talk on the phone with clients and even, at moments, fights with her brother just as I am being offered a speaking opportunity.. love that? Wednesday, she was in my scrapbooking corner. They have papers in my corner that they have free reign with. I was glad that she was happily creating and engaged to allow me to attend to other tasks: Making dinner with one hand and checking my day’s to-do list with the other.
My daughter brought me a stack of her handmade cards, “Mom these are for you. They are for your clients. I will make them for you so you can rest more. You say ‘Thank You’ a lot and now it will be easier!” It brought tears to my eyes. She worked so hard on them and she did it for me and the lucky women who will get one of these works of art. The kind of art that we moms love. The kind of art that cannot be duplicated because she is only eight for so long.
Her friend at dance on Thursday bought her a Gatorade. She immediately told me: “Mom I need to give her a Thank You card!” A little later a card was made. And another for Grandpa who is in the hospital recovering from knee surgery. Her brother shared his candy bar (well just a little corner of it) and he got a Thank You card too. There is nothing better than getting a Thank You card.
I was tucking her in bed and thanking her for her kindness to me. She said mom, “I think of others before I think of myself. That’s what Grandma says and she is right.”
Being a mom is the best work I do. It is more important than the applause I receive as a speaker, more than the reviews on my book, or the success of my team, more than the gratification of helping a woman see her beauty— I love what I do the impact I am able to have to help others. But more than all of that I am thankful that my three kids are watching, learning, and serving others too.
Send a thank you card. People love getting them. Especially if they are made by small loving hands.