Monday, January 26, 2009

The Pearl-Beautiful Pain

Some of you may know and others not, that I am a SINGLE mom.

This was not the plan when I got married in 1996. Right after graduating with my Masters Degree and weeks after turning 30 years old, I was married in a wonderful ceremony in Tallahassee, Florida.

Part of the vows, in addition to the norm, was a line that said this. "I promise to be your best friend and to make you laugh for the rest of your life." As with any person getting married, it is that feeling of love, a sense of we, a start to a beginning of a life of dreams, hopes and goals.

Friends still say, "It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended." And it was beautiful.

Outside on the deep green grass of an October day in Florida. A string quartet playing as I rode up the long drive of a garden home in a horse drawn carriage, with large magnolias and the long moss of the deep South making natural decoration.

The wedding went off perfectly...the marriage; not so much.

We know that, with any relationship, it takes deep faith to work through impossible times and it takes growth, compassion, compromise; and did I say intense growth? Growth in the same direction. Growth that involves sharing everything, good, bad and beautiful to create and build that promised friendship and laughter.

It takes more than two people to make a marriage flourish. Mathematically speaking, the equation looks like this: 1+1=infinity

I believe that the combination of two or more things can create something so much more powerful than if done with only one. The combination of two people who are fully aware, committed and ready to have intense growth will have amazing results.

If there are any other ingredients added or removed from the relationship recipe, the beautiful recipe will fail. The sweetest intent cannot make the dessert be sweet. The sweetest notes, flowers, gifts, and other tokens will not make the friendship flourish.

For me, it has been the creation of a pearl. Dare I say, a string of pearls.

The lesson of the pearl is something I learned just recently. Not that I had not heard it before, but I really learned it, understood it, and put it in perspective. Becoming a pearl is beautiful pain. Becoming a pearl is intensity of the highest level.

A small grain of sand gets inside of an oyster, who by nature is relatively still. It filters water, small food sources and the inevitable sand to nourish it, keep it alive and growing. At times the sand gets stuck; it becomes an irritant. To stay alive, the oyster builds a little shell around the sand to make it less painful. Over time, the oyster creates layers upon layers of protectant around that one small grain of sand; a pearl is born.

The pearl, a beautiful, iridescent, perfect, coveted jewel that we string together and wear as adornment. And yet, each of those one pearls was created by one small grain of very painful sand. Strung together those grains of sand become something bigger than one or even two oysters can handle; they will eventually die.

Just as in any relationship, a friendship or marriage, there can be that one small grain of sand; the painful irritant that can become a beautiful pearl or the death of the relationship.

A trusted friend said this. "Every day, give thanks for the pearl. Painful, and yet you are more beautiful for having had it in your life."

Thank you, pearl. You have taught me that the most intense growth comes over years of one small irritant, one small diversion from the relationship recipe, leaving out the"laugh for the rest of your life", and a slight deviation from the mathematical equation of infinity.

Thank you for allowing me the painful growth I needed to become more me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!

On Friday, January 9th, 2009, Garrett and I had the wonderful opportunity to host part of the Australian High School National Basketball Team.

Garrett's school was part of their USA tour stop and asked for family hosts for 2 team members. After putting our name on the list for volunteering, we were contacted to see if we could host 4 of the Australian students. Sure, what are two more worries.

We arrived at the basketball game and received a list with the names of the four boys that we would be hosting. Garrett was estatic! Four boys, all 17-18 years old; on their summer holiday, traveling the USA promoting Aussie Basketball.

When the game started, we had the list with their names and jersey numbers; 8,9,11,13-Garrett was on each of them with his 'detective eyes'.

Earlier, Garrett said he did not want to go to the game, but only pick up the boys after it was over. BUT, once we got there and he saw them, the crowd, the excitement of the game; he was transfixed!

Garrett was dressed in his school's Chess Club t-shirt, and we were sitting next to the girl's team who had just finished their game. Everyone was cheering, chanting, screaming and stomping for Garrett's school. All except Garrett; he had found his loyalty belonged to these four boys; strangers at this point. He said they deserved to have someone on their side and he was nearly on the court on several occasions screaming, chanting, stomping and cheering. Hilarious!!

I filmed and photographed quite a bit of the game, trying to focus on the guys we were hosting. Garrett, my trusty side-kick, was yelling at me- "Did you get that, did you get THAT?"

After the game, the host families met the players and we took them, packed into a Suburban to our house. When I say packed, I am serious. They were all over 6'4" and had GIANT suitcases, travel bags, game bags, and I thought we may burst out of the car on the way home.

When we got home, well after 10:00 pm, they were exhausted, freezing, and so grateful that they each had a bed to sleep in for the night. After settling in and creating the most gigantic mess I have ever witnessed, they all took part in playing with Garrett. Dinosaurs of course!

Envision this; Garrett the 6 yr old leader, explaining to four extremely tall 18 year olds, the names of all the dinosaurs, their herds, groups, categories, and so on...these guys were troopers.

Garrett was in his element and they all went along with him. Each one of the boys were so gracious, polite, kind and thankful.

One of the players; Rocky, had Garrett close his eyes and brought out Australian tourist gifts that he had brought along to share with the host families. A koala bear, a kangaroo mom and baby, a boomerang, and best of all they taught him the true Aussie cheer.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!!!

By about 11:00 pm Garrett and the 4 boys had watched NBA basketball, discussed dinosaurs extensively and cheered loudly over and over.

Garrett and I turned in at midnight and the boys stayed up; still watching NBA basketball.

The next day they went on to their next stop, new host family and eventually would end their USA tour back in NYC.

Garrett cried, was mad that they had to leave, wanted them to stay and play, and was truly heart-broken that they were leaving so soon. That night, we drove to the town they were playing in so that Garrett could say Goodbye; again.

At this game, the team had their entire school cheering for them. And then there was Garrett;

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oui, Oui, Oui!!! Cheering as loudly as possible. He was the cheering section for them. During the half-time break, Garrett went over to say goodbye, high-fived each one of the team, and cheered for them each as he went along.

I am certain this will be one of those experiences that has changed his world.

For me, the cyclone of disaster that awaited my attention was unimaginable. How can 4 people create so much mess in less than 8 hours? It was fascinating and made me realize that having one boy; who will probably be at least their height as a teen, is certainly enough for the long term.

I am so happy that we had the chance to meet these amazing young men. They were great ambassadors of their team and Australia.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Well Built Structures

People say, "things aren't built like they used to be." In fact, this is true. Things, whatever 'things' are; are not built like they once were. Does this make them better or worse?
Because things are built differently, are new, innovative, something that we have not experienced or are experiencing for the first time may, in fact, mean that they are well built structures.
For instance, houses were built by people with cut down trees, placed together with something binding and had a roof for shelter. They were built for a specific reason and were not built 'like they used to be' either.
Today, houses are built by people with machined wood, bound together with mortar, drywall, tile, etc. and have a roof made of shingles and so on. And, they too are not as they used to be, because they serve a different purpose, in a different world.
As life and the world change at a quickening pace, with new people, new experiences and new things, it is our brain that must also change. We must remember the past for what it was, hold on to memories for what they are and really experience the present for what it is.
This thing we have is a well built structure; life as we now know it. Amazing!
I am so happy that things are as they are, my memories are dear, what life has brought to me is well built, my brain is changing and growing, and the present is something spectacular!
Having well built structures, new or otherwise, is a state of mind. It is what we make of them and how we enjoy them. Although there may be a few dents, cracks or other imperfections, these walls are something to be joyful about.
Life is "not what it used to be" and yet, it is just as it was meant to be all along; A Well Built Structure.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Liza Needs a Forever Family

Good Friday to everyone!

Recently, a friend sent me a posting about a Russian orphan named Liza.
Liza is part of a group of orphans being hosted in the US with the hope of being adopted into forever families.

My first instinct is to drive to Atlanta, pick her up and be her HeartMommy. As I have processed everything, it may be that I was contacted to be a voice for Liza.

Please click on the link below to read the news story and watch the video about Liza and the other orphans who will return to Russia next week.

To learn more about New Horizons and how their organization helps children in need, please visit their website

As we think of our world, the intense need of love for children, and the many people who want to be parents, please consider passing this along. Or if you are one of the people like me who wanted to be a Mom, consider alternate options when it comes to adoption and the love that you have to share.


Friday, January 2, 2009

HeartDaddy- the Answer in 2009

The Sky knows no limits.

As HeartMommy gets a bit of exposure, I am asked on a regular basis about the idea of HeartDaddy. And here is the answer...

In May of 2008 my son came to me and said, we must have "HeartDaddy" too for all the Dads in the world. Of course, we must, I agreed.

On that day Garrett and I sat down for our first business meeting. Across our makeshift desk we shared; Garrett exlpained the finer points of his idea, business plan, and drew the HeartDaddy logo for me. It is lovely indeed.

After the meeting ajorned I purchased the domain name- and put all the important documentation in the newly labeled file for HeartDaddy.

Isn't fun to know that my son loves HeartMommy handing out my business cards more than I do, and that he has the smarts to come up with the idea, the branding, and all the details for HeartDaddy too.

My ideas are small in comparison to his imagination and fearlessness. Garrett knows only what is possible.

And with that, I give you, HeartDaddy. Created in May 2008 by Garrett Cushman for all the Dads of the world.

All the great ideas I get from Garrett, friends, family, customers, Dads and Moms are noted, reviewed, and are 'in development' for the next phase of business.

With HeartMommy just out of the incubator, HeartDaddy is being carefully cared for as we grow.

In 2009 we are expecting amazing growth and expansion of HeartMommy and the launch of HeartDaddy!

Please send me any and all thoughts, ideas, wishlist items and I will add them to the executive meeting agenda for next week. Garrett and I hold our meetings at our now makeshift desk in the kitchen, where most great ideas and stories are shared.

I am sending an email to my web designer to add a new link on HeartMommy.

Look often and spread the word about HeartMommy and HeartDaddy so we will continue to grow as 2009 becomes our banner year!

Thank you to all the amazing people who have and continue to support us.
We are the Little Engine That Could and Will!

HeartMommy on behalf of HeartDaddy 2009