Left Behind

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Left Behind
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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No one wants to be that person, the one who gets left behind. Sooner or later we all have that experience and it never feels good. Whether we are left by choice, by divorce or by death, being left behind is hard and it is a scary feeling.

We build our lives with others, we have friends, we have families and we have our pets. When they leave and we are left behind we feel that void. That special place they once held now is an open space.

Our bichon Chipper is grieving his sister Happy who passed over just a few weeks ago. We have never heard such deep intense cries from him in all our seven years with him.

Every time when of our children grew up and left home, we almost immediately replaced them with a furry baby. Each dog has held our heart much like our young children once did, today we grieve Happy. It drives home again, that feeling of being left.

Yet with Happy is was a soft pain and loss because we have so many happy memories with her. She was just so easy to care for and to love. It was natural.

“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.” – Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

From day one my husband Brian and I acknowledged that one of us would be “widowed” again, one of us would know that feeling again … that feeling of being left behind. We do everything in our power to honor all the time that we share together by living our best life and living it as centered and honest as possible.

So many people live within us… we remember … we grieve… we rejoice …we are better for having known them and loved them …

Each of us finds that day when we move past the loss … past the grief … and truly celebrate what once was and what was once shared. We learn once again that life is for the living and that we must live it!

“If you focus on what you left behind, you will never see what lies ahead.” – Gusteau, Ratatouille

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

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Memory Lane
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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We all have them, our memories; we have memories of our childhood, our teenage years, our young adult years and more. We can think about them and sometimes we can visit the people and the places from another time.

Going home will always be Allentown, Pennsylvania for me. It is where I spent a large portion of my childhood and my teenage years as well as my young adult years. As a kid, I walked to school and to church, to many friends’ homes, to the library, the YMCA, to my guitar lessons downtown. I learned to drive there went to first concerts there and even married and had my only birthed child there.

The memories are powerful and numerous. My friend of over 40 years from our days as camp counselors still lives there. My father lived and died there. Again, the memories are many and they run the entire spectrum of happiness, joy, pain and losses. They run the entire spectrum of life.

When I go home to visit, I visit many significant landmarks, the place where I married, the church where my daughter was baptized, my first apartment, my favorite market, and favorite eateries and more.

It is always a fun trip down “memory lane” and yet there is also something so profound about where we started in life and where we end up. There is that distance between our beginnings and where we are today. And of course all the people, the places and the experiences we had along the way. Some remain and many do not stay.

I remember fun times of laughter with my sisters. Fun times with childhood friends. I remember my Confirmation in our neighborhood church. I remember the hospital where I was a volunteer candy striper and several years later, that same hospital where my daughter would come into this world. I remember so many things.

My parents were together there, and then they were not as a divorce would end their union. Just like life when people are so profound and significant in our lives and then they just are not at all present in our lives. We learn to adjust and to adapt; we learn to take our memories with us as we move away and as we move along.

I look back and I see so clearly the riches of the many experiences I have had, truly it has been like a buffet of choices of options of likes and dislikes. Overall, though, I know that it has all contributed to who I became and who I am today. I love my life, I love myself, and I love my journey, warts and all. It truly has been rich and long and wide. I am happy and I am grateful.

A trip down memory lane is always well worth the trip … I highly recommend the trip!

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

Along The Way and Another Way Books by Bernadette A. Moyer on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

“Didn’t you notice me?” He asked.

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“Didn’t you notice me?” He asked.
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It was 1976 and I was just seventeen years old as I was running up the stairs in our Allentown house. I was in a hurry and anxious to talk to my mother, I swiftly ran past a three year old little boy named Brenden, who caught my attention when he said so confidently and so clearly ”didn’t you notice me?”

He was calling me out. Brenden was a child that I often babysat along with his older sister Ariane and three other siblings. I liked the name Ariane so much that I named my own daughter after her. They were the children of a Baptist minister and his wife; they were friends of my mother and our family. The kids were all adorable and each child was confident and proud.

It is more than 40 years later and I will never forget that day and that a three year old said what needed to be said, he stopped me in my tracks when he asked me “didn’t you notice me?” I felt awful and I made sure he knew that I not only noticed him but appreciated seeing him again. I apologized for attempting to run past him. All he wanted was acknowledgement. I never intended to “not notice him” but clearly my actions said otherwise.

I read much more than I could ever write and I see posts that I read but never comment on although they often strike a chord with me. Every single day sometimes multiple times in a day I hear from or read about families that are broken and relationships that have ended. More and more families have estranged family members. There are family members that have decided not to acknowledge other family members.

Often during the holiday season the wounds, hurts and heartaches resurface with greater intensity. Everyone wants that Norman Rockwell like Christmas and yet few families really experience it. Someone is hurting, someone is missing, and many things in the family are different. Mom and dad have adult children that not only don’t “notice” them but literally want nothing to do with them. Overall the parents are bewildered and the adult children feel justified.

In just about every single case, the narrative is pretty much the same the adult children say they were “abused” it was mental abuse, or verbal abuse or physical abuse or all three. They all had “terrible childhoods” and now mom and dad must pay. They must pay by “no contact” or by not being accepted and noticed. It is an intolerant response.

Most all of the parents I have spoken with declare that they loved their kids and did the best they knew how, they did their best with what they had and what they knew at that time. Many parents never saw it coming and most of the adult kids seem to think little or nothing of it. Bad parents must be erased, period.

What you learn though in life is that it is never ever that simple. Relationships are complex and complicated. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. The longer you are in any relationship the wider the range of experiences you will share.

Like Brenden, a small child, I used to take it all in and onto myself; I used to be willing to accept the feelings and the responsibilities that went along when someone, anyone decided to cut me out of their life.

Then one day I woke up and accepted that I am human, sometimes I do great and other times not so much, but at the end of the day I am only responsible for my actions. I take 100% responsibilty for the things I do and the things I say, how other people treat me is about them, it was and is never about me.

The way we treat other people says so much about us, it is never about the other person, our actions, our decisions are all ours. We own them. Just like our feelings and our emotions, they belong to us. Simply put, your anger is your problem.

When I woke up to it I realized that absolutely nothing other people do is because of me, it is always because of them. People do what they do and people create their narrative often so they may justify their own behaviors and all their own decisions and actions.

What kind of son or daughter looks good when they have cut mom and dad out of their lives? Zero and none at all and so it is determined that mom and dad must be the “bad” ones because it surely isn’t going to be their adult children.

The same thinking can be applied to marriages that break apart or most any other relationships that end, someone is declared “right” and someone else is declared the “wrong” one. That’s just what we do, a couple decides to divorce and we want to know who is at fault? Yet again it isn’t that simple.

Relationships succeed or fail because of what both sides do; both parties contribute to the success or to the failure. The success is because of both people as is the failure. It is never ever just one sided. I always try my best to live by the golden rule, treat other people in the way that you, yourself would want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want something done to you, you probably shouldn’t do that same thing to anyone else.

We beat ourselves up when relationships don’t turn out like we think they should, we might be better served if we just accept that we have done our best, acknowledge our own portion and learn the lessons that each and every relationship can teach us.

At the end of the day and at the end of this life, we ask ourselves about what do we need and what do we want. For most all of us that answer will be peace and to be acknowledged that we were here and that we mattered.

As we age, we learn that we can come to peace after we did everything we can to right our wrongs and to trust that with God comes the entire acknowledgement that we will ever need.

You can’t fix someone else, you can only be the best person that you can be, it has been said that if you can’t fix it, it probably wasn’t your problem in the first place.

“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past, let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” John F. Kennedy

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

Along The Way and Another Way on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

The Good People

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The Good People
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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In a world that seems to be spiraling downward with greater speed and in larger numbers it is easy to become cynical and skewed as a result. Focus on the good people. They are still out there. If you aren’t already good become your best. Be better today than you were yesterday and strive to be even better tomorrow.

I have always had people that I looked up to, people that survived and even thrived in the most difficult situations. Shortly after moving to Baltimore, when my first husband died, I became aware of local TV News Anchor Susan White-Bowden. Her husband had committed suicide and later her teen son also took his own life. She had to be devastated although on television you would never have known it. She carried on and she did it with class and grace.

She was a hero for me. Many years later I would invite her to book events that I held and even a slumber party for women. Susan was and is awe inspiring speaker and author. I watched her take the audience from laughter to tears and back. She sold out of her books. People love her. She took the unimaginable and turned it around for the greater good. Nothing was going to bring her 17 year old son back but she showed us all that even with that intense loss and grief, life was worth living. And it was worth living well.

Last night I watched the first part of the Elizabeth Smart story in her words. Elizabeth is another woman that amazes me. She literally went from hell and came back to life. She was kidnapped, repeatedly raped and tied up and chained. She was treated worse than any wild animal. She survived it all. Came back to life wrote a book, shared her story and now speaks out and inspires others.

When I think of these women I am inspired and awe struck. Then I wonder what went into their recovery. Was it therapy? Was it support from loved ones? Is it the way they are wired and build? Are they just naturally strong? Or is it a combination of many of these things? I would be willing it is a combination of many of these things with the main thing being the desire and determination to heal. I believe that they wanted to be better and worked hard to get better. And so they did.

In our news today we are riddled with creepy people and creepy stories, things people have done to one another. The people who abuse physically, sexually and verbally and people that have no value for life and kill. One thing I know for sure is that we must focus and give the oxygen to the survivors and the ones who thrive. We must learn to focus on the good people.

There will always be haters and hurters but we don’t need to give up any more oxygen for them. Life has its own way of dealing with those people. Generally as a society my sense is that we give too much life and breath to people that are sick, evil and just not good people.

Who can you call out today for doing good and being a good person? Who can you help raise up that wants to be better and do good? What can you do today for yourself to be better than you were yesterday?

People that have been to hell and back always inspire me, I look at them and I think they thrived and survived through all that and so can I and so can everyone. You just have to want it, and want it badly enough to work through it.

Prayers up! Today I celebrate all the good people in this world and in my own life and I Thank God and feel so blessed to know more than just a few of them …

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

Along The Way and Another Way on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Hurting Hearts

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Hurting Hearts
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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Our hearts are broken after witnessing mass murders in Las Vegas, Nevada. Who does this? What kind of a person kills 58 people and wounds over 500 more and why? We want to know why? While we still demand an answer to what kind of “why” response will it ever be good enough. It won’t!

What causes such hatred and anger in a human being that they would go on a killing mission? Prepare for it, plan on it and then carry it out? Thank God most of us will never understand that mindset and those horrific actions.

This story this event is so hard to process and I knew it would be even more difficult when the faces and the ages and the professions of those murdered would be published. These are people who should have had years and years of living life ahead of them. People that have families and friends who are left to grieve their loss and all the while trying to understand why one human being would do this to any other human being. People that should never have died so young were killed as though they didn’t matter by someone who didn’t even know their name.

Most of us will never understand this and that is a good thing, to identify with this crazed mass murdered isn’t normal for anyone that values human life.

Today I cried, it was tears of anger and shock and grief and loss. As if these murders and gunshots of hatred in Las Vegas wasn’t enough we lost an icon rock and roll star who also died unexpectedly and too young. In a recent interview Tom Petty talked about his desire to travel less and do less shows so he could be there for his grandchildren. It was as if he knew how much he missed out on with his own children and acknowledged that this time things would be different, he wanted to be there.

What can we take away from death? What should the lessons be and what should we do next? We can’t control what other people do, we can’t control many things in life except for what we do and how we handle what comes next.

Grief and loss are tremendous teachers and if nothing else they are supposed to drive home that all we really have is the here and now. The way that we treat people says so much about us. Kindness counts. Every single day we are afforded opportunities to respond with love or with hate. It is a choice.

Whatever was motivating and disturbing the Vegas killer he chose to respond with hatred. There is a lesson here. Hate and anger and killing never ever look good on anyone, not ever. There is no justifiable reason for the killing of innocent people. And the cowardly way in which he chose to murder from a distance and to their backs and then take his own life.

Everything in this event is difficult to process …

What should we come away with? How about what can any one of us do? There are two parts here for me; first and foremost we must live all of life to the fullest. Our days here are numbered and we should live like the Tim McGraw song, “Live like you are dying” do the things that matter to you, spend the time with the people that you love, live life without regrets so when the end does arrive, you know that you did live fully.

And the second thing is to check your anger and hate, let it go, use if for the fuel to do good. Hate and anger although normal emotions in humans can be controlled and redirected into something positive. Always try to lead with kindness and with love. Sometimes it is difficult to do but always, always worth it. Something good can always come from something so horrific … if we seek it, we will find it!

“And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying” Country Music Artist Tim McGraw and song written by Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman

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

It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich

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It’s Not Just a Ham Sandwich
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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It’s not just a ham sandwich, it is a memory, a memory that I share with my father. My father loved a good deli sandwich with freshly cut meats and cheeses. He has been gone from this world for more than a handful of years now. He left the home I lived in when I was just a child in the sixth grade when my parents divorced. As a teenager I visited him often.

He taught me how to make and eat the best ham sandwich and all these years later that ham sandwich brings me memories of him. It was a sandwich made on the freshest white bread with deli cut ham and white American cheese and sliced tomatoes with lettuce and mayonnaise and of course salt and pepper on the tomatoes. I remember summer tomatoes on this sandwich and I remember sitting side by side with him while we chatted and ate our sandwiches together.

Like all people my dad had a good side and a not so good side, he had a dark side but he could also be the most charming man. I could remember his temper or his darkest moments but I always chose to see the best in him. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t see the bad stuff; it doesn’t mean that I liked it but he was my father and the only father that I ever knew and loved. Much of his darkness was tied to his alcoholism, a disease that he managed to stay dry from for the last 30 or 40 years of his life.

I could focus on the negative, he did a lot of crappy things when he was married to my mother but just like that ham sandwich that I so enjoyed I would rather remember the good in him. He was a small town guy from a tiny town in Pennsylvania, he was Irish and Catholic. He was one of five children one brother died as a child at the age of 7 and another sister as a young woman from alcoholism. He entered the United States Army as a teenager and served two terms in Korea. He was injured in the service and honorably discharged with a purple heart. This injury caused him to have epileptic seizures.

Women loved him and boy did he love women! He married twice first my mother with whom he had five daughters and later his second wife that he had two more girls and finally a son. He was a carpenter by trade, built a few houses and worked in the engineering department of the same hospital where my daughter was born. Dad worked there for about 25 years before he retired.

His soul was that of an artist, he could draw and paint and build things, he worked with his hands, and dad taught me to love country music. He loved music by Johnny Cash and the Highwaymen.

So today for lunch I had the best ham sandwich…but it really was so much more than that … it was about my father and me, it was about loving and respecting him as my father. It was about knowing that he wasn’t a perfect man, he had challenges and he had struggles but he cared about the people in his life and he lived by a code. No one had to tell him when he screwed up because he already knew.

When you really love someone you love them imperfections and all, if I wanted to, I could make a case as to why he didn’t deserve my love, but that isn’t how I was built or who I am. Maybe I learned it from dad; if you want to be forgiven you must also be forgiving.

Thinking of you dad! May you be resting in eternal peace, I pray.

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

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The Cupcake Kids

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The Cupcake Kids
By Bernadette A. Moyer

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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