If You Break It

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If You Break It
By Bernadette A. Moyer

broken-china

How many times have we read a sign in a store that reads, “If you break it, you bought it” I think the same can be said for our relationships.

Each and every single day I hear from people who are suffering a broken relationship. Where my general rule of thumb is that it takes two, it takes two people to create a relationship and it takes two people for a relationship to succeed and/or fail.

But what about the person who single-handedly decides a relationship is over? In my view the person who ends it without input or agreement from the other side, now fully owns the outcome. If they can live with the outcome and their decision so be it, but if not, then they are the ones tasked with making the effort to re-build it. They broke it, they bought it, and they own it.

One of the things we learn in visiting a ”china shop” is to be careful, and why? Because broken china can seldom be repaired to its former condition before the breakage, broken china is often replaced with new china.

The relationships that are long term and that we care about will test us, we grow together or we grow apart. Often a long term relationship is based on love but also includes acceptance and tolerance. A relationship that breaks down many times comes down to what we are willing to accept and tolerate.

Not every single person is supposed to remain in our lives; some come and go and some stay with us. In family we want it to work out and many times we will tolerate and accept things from family that we would never tolerate and accept in others. Some families remain close some just don’t.

A few days ago our son came home from work and shared with me that he ran into his former fourth grade teacher. His teacher asked him about his twin sister since he had both of them in his class and knew them well. Our son told him that they aren’t close and really have no real relationship. He is a twin and as the mother that raised them both it makes me sad. We always thought it was so special that they were twins and had each other like a built in best friend. But what surprised me most was his teachers answer. He said, “My sister and I never got along either.”

I have a hard time believing that families that suffer with estrangement are ever truly happy and healthy even for those that made the decision to estrange. How could you NOT think about “mom” on Mother’s Day or “dad” on Father’s Day or on their birthdays or on holidays?

Same goes for the parents, I don’t know of any mothers or fathers who don’t think about their children on their birthdays and on holidays. I don’t think it could be humanly possible to NOT remember the day that you brought a life, another living person into the world. This fact alone makes it hard to accept estrangement as any “norm” or normal behavior.

This July I will have been estranged from my oldest daughter for nineteen years. In my view she was young and foolish. She made decisions that were life altering and affected many others in hurtful and negative ways. She was just a kid and just shy of the age of eighteen. What makes it baffling isn’t what she did at eighteen but all that she has continued to do to keep it going. She is committed to her anger and to her narrative a narrative that many immature teens go through but most grow up and grow away from.

Like my many followers, friends and sisters and brothers who struggle with and suffer in estrangement, it is like any loss and grief with the many stages from denial to acceptance. I don’t believe that there is any stage that you are over it or 100% healed from it nor do I believe that estrangement has any winners. To deny your parents is to deny facets of your own life and who you are and what made you and where you come from. This is to live a lie.

My husband was the first to bring that line to my attention “they are living a lie” think about that? If you deny your parents and your roots, what does that say about the life that you are leading? And what stories now go along with that lie to justify living in such an abnormal way?

Things change. I suffered through shock and my heart was shattered when my child left home. I was completely broken. I never saw it coming. I didn’t think I could go on. I honestly believed I gave her everything any child could want or need. I beat myself up. I would have done anything for a different outcome.

Then I started to heal. I saw how easily I was to manipulate after her dad died. I became stronger. I went to work for several nonprofits that supported kids, many that were truly disadvantaged kids. I began to see clearly just how much I had spoiled my child.

But I still and for more than a decade I held out hope, I thought for sure she would mature, grow up and life would show her just how much she had. When she had her first child I was devastated not to be included but I also thought great now she will see what it means to have a child, to raise a child to be a mother. Sadly that didn’t happen.

Life is long life is challenging and life is filled with many decisions. I have always tried to live my life with the thought that yes I will stumble, I may fail and I may fall but I do my best to try not to do things that I can’t come back from or recover from.

And I do believe that if you break it, you bought it and you now own it …

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Broken china may not ever be able to come back together in its original form but many beautiful mosaic pieces have been made from the broken pieces. Beautiful jewelry and all kinds of beautiful newly created artworks can come back together and create something truly beautiful, different and unique from what was once broken and shattered.

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facbook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Pay Attention

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Pay Attention
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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So often we miss the clues because we just aren’t paying attention. When we tune in we learn and we see and our communications are clearer and easier.

Everything living and alive communicates with us, nature tells we and our pets and animals speak to us and yes humans speak both verbally and nonverbally. Our actions and what we do say so much more about us than our words do.

Last week my dog Happy came into my office, she gave me a lengthy stare just before climbing up on an over-sized chair in my office. She continued to stare at me as he peed on that chair. Her urine was rusty brown. She was telling me that she wasn’t well. A trip to the vet would confirm that she needed surgery again to have stones removed. I could have easily missed her “speak” to me. But I was engaged with her and I was paying attention.

Much is revealed to us when we do pay attention. So much communication happens not by what we say but by what we do what we see and what we witness.

Our dogs are the best teachers of non-verbal communications and some of their communications that would easily be dismissed if we didn’t pay attention to them. A bark and a scratch on the backdoor aren’t just a bark and a scratch but rather a communication that she needs to go out. A bark in the kitchen by the water bowl says so clearly. “The water bowl is empty.” And a scratch and a whine mid-kitchen say, “I want a treat or more to eat.”

“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our paths for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” Maria Gibbs

When we pay attention to our dogs, to people and to all living things they communicate so clearly with us. All living things communicate with us if we are open and receptive to hearing and understanding them.

Pay attention …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Cupcake Kids

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The Cupcake Kids
By Bernadette A. Moyer

cupcake

How did we ever survive our youth and young adult years without “safe zones” and all the support of so many mental health care providers and college professors encouraging us to be weak and even weaker? Wow!

Youth and young adults that are rewarded by being upset and sad at the outcome of our Presidential election and to ease the blow how about a cup of cocoa or some playdough and a “cry in” and “hug out?”

What part about babying these young people prepares them for real life experiences? Real losses like when your dad dies or you lose your job or an innocent accident or any other outcome that you find to go against how you believe it should be?

The reason I take offense to “safe zones” is because it is artificial and not real life. Life can be a pretty unsafe place. Wouldn’t a better lesson be how to survive and even thrive in the world as the world is and work toward the changes that you want to see?

If the election results didn’t go the way that you think they should have gone, wouldn’t a better use of your time be to rally and to involve yourself more in the political process and work harder for the cause?

When I was young we were encouraged to write to our government officials and to communicate our case and our concerns in a succinct and polite manner. I remember writing to several political leaders throughout the years beginning when I was in middle school. And every single time I received a response.

Where I believe in everyone’s right to protest, what is the end game? What do they expect the outcome to be? How does blocking the streets from foot traffic and shoppers on Black Friday on the Magnificent Mile do anything to save lives on the south side of Chicago streets or any other inner city streets for that matter?

I think back where was my “safe space” when I was in the sixth grade and my parents divorced? Or when I was 23 and widowed with a 2-year old daughter?

There are no safe spaces for life altering events. How about teaching our young people that out of the struggle we so often find a deeper sense of enlightenment? My own personal loses taught me much, they taught me about life and about value and about being a strong woman and a survivor.

We are all trying to survive with what we have and what we know, creating artificial safe spaces inhibits growth and development. I think back about my grandparents who survived the great depressions and being immigrants from Italy, they were far too busy working and raising their seven children to fawn over “safe spaces” they had an old-fashioned work ethic that cured most things that ailed them. Keeping busy and being productive was their way of living life.

I can’t imagine either one of my grandparents ever supporting the new “cupcake kids” and encouraging weakness. They would have told them that life isn’t always going to go your way but accepting defeat with your heads held high builds character. And when you do get your way, you truly appreciate it all the more because you know first-hand what it feels like to be defeated.

Winning may feel good but in losing we are afforded an opportunity to go deeper to reflect and to think and to learn. We shouldn’t be getting in the way of the “cupcake kids” experiencing all that life offers with the good and the bad and the happy and the sad. In the end avoiding the lessons that real life affords us only does us a greater disservice.

Sure we all want the “happy ever after” and to feel “safe” but the reality is that we create our own happiness or lack of it and “safety” isn’t measured by any artificial means that someone else creates but rather how we handle and how we manage our life and living in it as it unfolds in front of us …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Agony of Defeat

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The Agony of Defeat, Post-Election 2012
By Bernadette A. Moyer

(Article was written four years ago after the Presidential election, you can change the names for today, how much else has really changed?)

It has been about a week now since the 2012 Presidential election and we have our “winner” and we know who lost too. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to give it your all in such a huge public way and then not reach your intended goal and become President of the United States of America. I believe Mitt Romney when he said, “Paul Ryan and I left it all on the field.” I believe they gave it their all and in the end it wasn’t what the majority of the people wanted.

I am a registered Republican and I voted for Mitt Romney, I supported him the last go round too when he was my pic over John McCain in the primary before McCain got it. Romney always seemed so Reagan like to me. I liked his large family and I thought he would have been the right choice to help turn our economy around. I thought we needed a business minded man with a proven track record on what it takes to run a business.

Whether we like it or not, our President is running a business with a budget, even though they have not set and balanced a budget in years. Our country would be so much better off if we didn’t spend more than what we take in. Most American families get this, they live on a budget. You can’t spend more than you have and expect that there won’t be an adverse consequence for that kind of spending.

Even though I am conservative in many ways, I probably could be labeled as liberal when it comes to some of the social issues. I believe our government should stay out of everyone’s bedroom, straight, gay, abortion or pro-life. To me these are personal choices. I lead what may appear to be a very conservative life style, my husband and I tease each other that we are a “dying breed” since we are an all-white heterosexual couple, one man and one woman in a traditional marriage. This is the choice that works for us.

We have friends living in openly gay relationships and we respect them and their right to decide what is best for them. I don’t know anyone who has had an abortion that didn’t at some time feel some sort of regret after the fact. But I do know many women who believed at that time it was the right choice for them. Seems to me a far worse choice might be to have a pregnancy and a child that was unwanted, uncared for and unloved.

Most of us will never know what it feels like to go after such a huge goal like running for President, and engage all your friends and all your supporters to help you to achieve it. And then not make it. What does that morning after feel like? When you had such high hopes and aspirations and then it doesn’t work out for you?

Wouldn’t it be great if our newly elected President hired Mitt Romney to assist him with some of our “fiscal cliff” issues? Wouldn’t it be great if our leaders really did put all the people first and the best interests of our country ahead of their egos and hired the most qualified person for the job? If they could do this no matter what party they were affiliated with? We have come a long way in electing an African American as our President, we are a nation made up of many minority groups and they all should be celebrated and represented. I just hope and pray that during my lifetime we see a qualified woman in the White House too.

As a Monday morning quarterback all I would say to the Republican Party is this, when you present two white males as the President and the Vice President, when you try and lead with what is no longer the majority, you can’t act surprised when the majority of the people do not feel as though they personally have been represented.

It is our job now, no matter what political views we have, to come together for the common good and to find areas where we can compromise and thrive. We need a leader who can rally the troops and lead us as one nation, the United States of America; I pray that Barrack Obama is that leader.

And for the future I pray that we will see the first ever female President and/or Vice President!

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

24 Things I Learned in 24 Years

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24 Things I Learned in 24 Years
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was 24 years ago today that my husband and I bought our house where we raised three children. I can’t believe that either one of us ever thought we would still be here today and embracing our start to our 25th year together, here in the house we purchased together in 1992.

All I can think about is what did I learn? What did it take 24 years for me to learn? Where I was then and where am I today? Most of us can’t/won’t think ahead to the next 24 years but we can look back and see where we are and where we have come to. We write our own story not in just how we live it but also by how we choose to remember it.

“Joy comes to us in the ordinary moments. We risk missing out when we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary.” – Brene’ Brown

So what did I learn in 24 years?

1) Most things in life are not life and death, what you are feeling today probably won’t even matter to you next week or next year or perhaps even the next day.

2) Everything changes. Everything. Be open and willing to embrace all that comes to you for nothing is all good or all bad. Enjoy the process.

3) My stable home of 24 years would allow me to take risks. By having a strong foundation I could try this and try that and have the experience without the full throttle commitment.

4) Stability is cool it is not boring. I used to think that EVERYTHING had to change for life to be exciting. I learned I could grow and change and do so from the same house.

5) A house is not a home. In our home are all the love and the joy and all the variety of experiences. It is the family and it is the memories. It is the sharing of space.

6) In 24 years I learned that I could love and raise twin children, a son and a daughter, who I loved as any mother would and yet they were not my biological children.

7) I learned that deep down inside I have an inner strength and peace that withstands all outside noise.

8) I learned I don’t need to be out there or the center of attention, I can shine right here, right now and all on my own. Shine.

9) I learned to be a good neighbor and say “hi” and chat but keep a respectable distance. This is where I live we don’t have to be best friends but we do need to have mutual respect.

10) That an older house and one lived in for 24 years will require repair and updates just like I do and so do my relationships. Everything needs care and to be taken care of or it falters and dies.

11) I learned that I could fight with my husband a real knock down drag out fight but at the end of the day we have each other’s backs. Period. We are in this together.

12) “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” That was something my grandmother used to say meaning there is value in staying put and growing roots.

13) Stability shows strength and it also shows character.

14) That there truly is a time and a season for everything under the heavens.

15) Focus and priorities change. Kids enter our lives and kids leave our lives.

16) That my career choices were all meaningful but I am so much more than any one job or career choice.

17) To build on what we have and to appreciate all that we already have in our home and in our hearts.

18) There is nothing material that is worth my integrity and my peace of mind. I don’t have to have the “latest and greatest.”

19) Be careful who you trust. Today’s friend could very well be tomorrow’s enemy. Trust yourself!

20) If you don’t love it, get rid of it. Don’t weigh yourself down with things, objects, people, relationships that don’t enhance your life. Take the garbage out.

21) No one knows for sure. None of us knows what tomorrow brings and even if there will be a tomorrow, so do your best. Always do your best.

22) If you can’t fix it, it is probably not yours to fix.

23) Be happy! Choose happiness and joy because it is a choice.

24) If the direction you are headed toward is no longer working be brave and turn yourself around. There is no prize for continuing down the wrong path.  Always be willing to learn.

Today I celebrate the many things I learned while living in my same home with my same husband for all these 24 years. The overriding feeling I have is joy and gratitude … what more could I ask …

(And as I clicked that last letter in writing this the sun shines in through my office windows … blessed)

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

All books by Bernadette A Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

The Process

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The Process
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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We give so little credit to “the process” as we tend to think more about the end result. However the more life experience that I attain I tend to give more and more attention and respect for “the process.”

Our most thoughtful and best decisions are often derived as we complete the process. We learn about what we like and what we dislike we learn about what fits and feels right for us. I used to give all the credit to the end result to success to coming to the conclusion and completion but now I am giving so much more credit for the process that we go through until we arrive at our destination.

What advice would I give to my 20 year old self?

“Don’t be in such a hurry, stop, reflect and thoroughly enjoy the process!”

As someone who was always a high achiever I was always completely focused on the end result, looking back I can see where I rushed through much and could have enjoyed more with a better understanding of the value that is held in the process.

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It doesn’t matter if they are personal goals or professional goals, some much is attained when we take the time to not only go through “the process” but revel in it. I have also come to know that my best responses may not be my first responses but the ones where I took the time to reflect on all sides and took the time to process as much information as I could so that I could then arrive at the very best decisions.

Gathering information and educating ourselves should not be rushed but should be treated with respect and understanding as to the value of allowing for the process to unfold and the answers to revealing themselves.

So here is to placing more value and time and attention on “the process” …

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer

Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Five Fingers Five Toes

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Five Fingers Five Toes
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Parents want their children to be healthy and happy. The first thing a parent does is count the fingers and the toes of their children. They want to know that they are healthy and that they were born as perfect as possible. But the truth is every single child born is as perfect as possible. They are all gifts from God.

I don’t know of any parent that doesn’t want a healthy and happy child and to see that child grow to become a healthy and happy adult. Yet not every single person will be healthy or happy hard as we try and as much as we hope and pray.

My husband and I have raised three children and one child is a gifted and talented artist. He has also taught us how to raise an upside down child in a right side up world. He is different. He struggles socially and he struggles with the “norms” placed on many young adults. We could continue to fight him and push him or we could let go in love and accept him as he is … I just finished reading Love That Boy.

Love That Boy was written by Ron Fournier and is about a father that had to learn about love and parental expectations. Parents often have a vision of how a child should act and how they should behave and how they should look. Many parents put their expectations upon that child and sometimes that child is unwilling or unable to meet those expectations. The child in Love That Boy is a child on the autism spectrum. His father was often concerned about his son embarrassing himself or his dad.

Let’s face it every single well baby visit measures by “norms” on size and weight and developmental skills. There are charts on where a child should be to be considered “normal” we do measure our babies and our children.

Our kids go to school and they learn math and English and all kinds of text book learning but they also learn social skills and they too measure on what is “normal” and what is “different” or problematic. The parent’s job is to give their children what they need and not necessarily what they want. Sometimes knowing what a child needs is difficult to discern. We never really know what goes on in another person’s mind.

The single greatest challenge is to love that child regardless what they say and what they do, we learn to separate the words and the actions from the person. Real love transcends it all. There are always gifts and talents if we are willing to look for them and to appreciate them. Each child born is a gift from God.

Our son acknowledges his difficulty with social skills and yet I personally don’t notice them, we have an easy and loving relationship. I’ve had to learn to stop measuring my children, they are who they are and they are what they are and very little or any of it has to do with me. They are their own unique and individual person.

Where five fingers and five toes are important, what is most important is what is in someone’s heart. Our son has a huge heart and a conscience and always tries to right his wrongs and learn from his mistakes. What else could any parent hope for?

Today is Mother’s Day and this mother is both proud and pleased, we celebrated our relationship yesterday with breakfast out and a movie, we had fun and he planned it all! So although he struggles with several developmental markers, in my book he is still learning and growing and trying and therefore doing just fine …

We may not get the child we think that we want but we definitely get the child that God alone intended for us. And that is good and good enough …

Happy Mother’s Day! Celebrate what you have and what you had and what you learned well beyond five fingers and five toes!

Bernadette on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bernadetteamoyer
All books by Bernadette A Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble