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It's all about perspective

I always try to keep any Monday following one of our weekend nonprofit events very light. I do not make plans to do anything massive. I need to decompress and declutter my brain. Think about what parts of the event went right, what didn't go so right, and tease out everything I learned from the experience. I have yet to do an event where I did not learn a valuable nugget of knowledge that I can take, nurture, and grow from. We have attended 2 events out of the past 3 weekends, and walked away with so much. It was our second appearance at the Lake Forest Special Needs Resource Fair, and our first at the 9th Annual RACE 2 CURE PH – Taylor Caffrey Memorial 5K Run/Walk. The Resource Fair gave us a chance to revisit with connections we made the previous year, and it felt so amazing to walk into a room of professionals and have people walk over, say hello, give you a hug, and be genuinely happy to see you again. The Taylor's Wish walk was so wonderful as the Caffrey Family, who puts this together every year in honor of their late daughter, Taylor, is a local family whose son played baseball with Rylan a couple of years ago. He walked by our booth, looked at me with a little smile on his face, and said, "Hi, Rylan's Mom". It was so cute. It made me realize that people do get to know you, your face, your name, your kids. Even when we think no one is paying attention. Driving around the last few weeks, the signs around town about the walk brightened up local schools, businesses, and street corners. But to see the response the day of the event was beyond words. The event and the walk took place at a park less than a mile from our house, on local neighborhood streets. These are streets we drive every. single. day. It was such a beautiful feeling of community. The amount of people who came out to show support, the feeling and emotion that charged the day. Volunteers, vendors, food trucks, games, music, and of course, listening to Taylor's parents speak about the experience of losing their daughter at the tender age of 4 1/2 to a terminal disease. And then, to drive by the very next day, and it's totally quiet, less the sound of a bird chirping off in the distance, and barren. It appeared virtually untouched. Kamryn volunteered her time between The Soothing Stitches booth and helping with silent auction and raffle duties. Watching her helping people, talking, smiling, and laughing was an awesome sight to take in from my perspective.

Later, that day, our heaven-sent respite angel appeared as he does every Saturday at 4 pm, and takes care of Rylan, so my husband and I can have our weekly date night. We went from going over a year without one to making a point to have one every week. To say that this has changed and improved our relationship is a massive understatement. I find we are doing little things that we used to before we had kids. Going to the bookstore to get lost for a couple hours, take in a movie, hold hands, laugh, enjoy a quiet dinner together. I have missed him for so long, that it almost feels like we just started dating again. I find myself wanting to hurry up and get to Saturday, because I know, even if we drove in circles all night, or did literally nothing, it would just be the two of us and we were going to have fun together. We are yelling less, listening more, and genuinely enjoying every second of it. Of course, the first couple times the guilt of leaving the kids behind plagued me. But now, I look back and realized that the only thing Ryan and I had left behind was us. If we didn't play catch up at some point, we were going to regret it. And that guilt, would have plagued us more than anything.

Mother's Day here was a simple, peaceful day. I spent some of the day a little overwhelmed with emotion thinking of my own mother, who is back in New York. Wondering if she was having a good day and if she was really as happy as she sounded on the phone earlier that day. She lost her husband of 27 years, my beloved stepfather, just last month. She has been taking care of him for the better part of the last 10 years. We knew this day would come, but even that can't prepare you for the actual process. The last ambulance ride, the hospital, saying goodbye, coming home to an empty house, the wake, the funeral, the people. Oh my gosh, the people. Bless her heart, she has her moments, but she is a vision of grace and strength. I took that with me and enjoyed the rest of my day. I gave our enclosed patio (my fave feature of this house) a facelift. Pulled weeds, fluffed my hanging flower baskets, brought out some pillows, placemats and decor that was not being used inside anymore. We have largely ignored the patio, and I decided I was taking it back. That was my Mother's Day gift to myself! I sat outside with a magazine I had bought on date night, sipped my "spa water", and put my feet up. It was so funny, there was an article about pressing your own flowers. Then I remembered I had pressed flower placemats from our very first apartment sitting inside the hutch in our dining room. The day was coming together nicely. My husband and children did all the cooking and fussing. I even squeezed in a little shopping with Kamryn, where we found the centerpiece candle holder, a couple faux Mason jar double-walled cups, and a new front doormat. (my patio facelift will be final when the new front door and hardware we ordered over the weekend arrives) I was happily astounded to come back see that Rylan had set the patio up for dinner all by himself. He even had a "Happy Mother's Day" screensaver on his laptop, and my favorite band, Foo Fighters, streaming throughout the meal. It was perfection. (and I very, very rarely ever dare to use that word!)

I drew so much inspiration from the magazine I had been reading (Magnolia Journal/Summer 2018), that it gave me a totally new perspective. Not just on dinner recipes, or how to decorate...but life in general. Taking time to be more mindful of my reactions to different happenings, not always being tied down to an electronic device, different directions to take the nonprofit, etc. There was not one part of life that I didn't consume inspiration for. It made me really look forward to our own summer, which starts for my kids in about a month. Knowing that we will have 2 months of time to make memories, start some new traditions and put on a fresh perspective.

I wish you all a very happy Monday,

Nicole <3

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