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Where is Home?

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I have now been in Arizona for 15 months, and soon will be heading back to Chicago to visit for the first time since I moved. You know the saying… “Home is where the heart is.”  I believe this to be true today more than ever. Although my mailing address is in Arizona, a HUGE part of my heart will always be with those I love back in Chicago. Luckily, I have made so many new friends in my new location which has given me even more reasons to love my life surrounded by the desert mountains.

Those who have not moved around may not completely understand the quote above. I have been given the opportunity to experience the “richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”. How lucky am I? 🙂

The only drawback to moving across the country is not truly being able to identify where “home” really is. I love my life in Arizona, but at this particular time, my adult children, family, and many friends are back in Chicago. It is as if I live in the midst of two separate, yet deeply connected worlds. It has recently occurred to me that when I think of a place called home, it really does not exist.

So, I suppose home really is where the heart is. It exists wherever those I love exist. It is really not a physical place, but a feeling. In two weeks, I will go back home to Chicago to visit. Then, when the visit is over, I will return home to Arizona. Isn’t it a beautiful thing?

~ Patti Crowley

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Standing Alone

 

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Finding myself “traveling solo” again, I have learned some new lessons. It has now been a full year since I made my big move across country from Chicago to Arizona. The high point of my year was when my 19 year old daughter joined me out here. However, she has decided she wants to attend college back in Chicago with her friends, so for now, she has returned.

Initially, I worried about being alone. But I am realizing that I am NOT alone. Quiet moments bring such peace, allowing me to discover parts of myself I never knew existed.

I am finding gratitude in the little things I did not notice before. Waking to the sun creeping in between the blind slats on my day off, instead of hearing the alarm in the darkness of the early morning. Sitting in bed with a cup of coffee and my laptop, writing. Hearing the cars whiz by, with drivers rushing through their morning errands, while I sit in a tank top and shorts, in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything.

I miss having my “little” girl here with me. But she is no longer “little”. She is an adult with a life of her own, and she needs to go out and live it. She will discover, on her own, that she is capable… just like her mom!

~ Patti Crowley

To My Beautiful Daughter

Today, my youngest left for college and I wasn’t there to see her off. As I’ve talked about in other posts, I recently moved from Chicago to Arizona. My daughter and I had planned to move together, and she would attend college out here. At the last minute, she decided she would attend her first year in Illinois and then move out here after the school year. As sad as I was about that decision, I completely supported her in it, and only want her to be happy with her choices.

With a new job and the financial strain of having just moved across country, I was unable to manage a trip back to Illinois to see her off to school. I have been devastated about this, and it has caused me to feel a tremendous amount of guilt. What kind of a mother can’t find a way to be there for her daughter at such an exciting and life-changing time in her life?

Although Megan had her father with her for her move, I still feel as though she needed her mom. Here I am in Arizona, with a job I love and a life I love… but I missed out on one of the most important events in my daughter’s life. I told my daughter that I would probably only be able to swing one trip back this fall… so it would have to be either move in day or parent weekend. She said she would prefer that I come for parent weekend. But ugh… the damn guilt is eating me alive.

So proud I am of her. What a beautiful, generous, intelligent, and savvy young woman she has become! She is growing up and making adult choices for herself, and I see her as being smart way beyond her years. When I shared my feelings of guilt at not being there, a good friend offered some terrific advice. These were the words she said to me, which offered tremendous comfort:

“Remember, Patti. Your daughter is capable and brave, and it is an honor for you to witness the new ways she is expanding her life that are fully in line with the natural order of things. You may not be there with her today, but you can find new and meaningful ways to show her love and support.”

WOW!

So to my beautiful daughter, I say:

Megan, I love you more than I can ever fully express through words, but of course, I will try! 🙂 You are the light of my life. You inspire me with your passion for life, your love of others, and your compassion for the students you’ve worked with over the last four years. What an amazing special education teacher I know you will be. Lives will be forever changed for the better because of you… trust me on this. You have a sense of self-respect that is admirable. You make me (and everyone you meet) laugh uncontrollably… especially when your chin quivers and your eyes tear up while your gut aches from laughing.

You love and respect your big brother, and I know that the two of you will always have each other’s backs… long after your father and I are gone… I take a great deal of comfort in that. I have not always been the best mother, but you loved and supported me through both the good and the bad times. I have gradually witnessed you grow from the sweet little chubby cheeked child, into a tall, beautiful young woman who carries herself with amazing grace. I love that you have my eyes… they are identical to mine and I love that we share that trait.

And so it begins, my sweet girl. May your college experience be filled with wonderful adventures, many lifelong friends, and a world experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Enjoy every single moment! I will be with you, in your heart and always right here, every step of the way.

I love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be. (Robert Munsch)

Love, Mommeg

 

 

 

Having Never Been Understood

I was that kid in school who followed the rules, never got in trouble, obeyed authority, but rebelled deep down inside. I was so fearful of not being understood, so I went along with what was expected of me and never challenged anyone. I have seen the following quote from John Lennon before, and I remember thinking, “Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean Mr. Lennon!!”

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Even a few of my closest friends question the way I live my life. Oh they don’t necessarily tell me how they feel, but trust me, I can feel it in the questions they ask, the comments they make. It has occurred to me that I will never be able to please everyone, so I stopped trying quite some time ago.

One of my closest childhood friends, someone who knows every sordid detail of my life, called me back after I left her a message a few weeks ago. We had not connected since I made this move across country to Arizona. We talked about all of the usual things… how are the kids, how is work, etc… Then she started asking me the tough questions. Do I regret making this move, even though my daughter decided to wait a year to come out after her first year of college? Do I feel bad that I wasn’t there for my daughter while she shops for all of her dorm furnishings? Do I feel that the timing was right?  The judgment was evident in her voice.

If I am completely honest, I have made a few major life changes over the years, always with the intention of bettering the life of my children and my own. I walk to the beat of a different drummer… My goal has always been happiness. I never followed the traditional path… the one that might be viewed as socially acceptable. This friend of mine has been married to her high school sweetheart for many years. She was the PTA mom. She works as a nurse. She has never really understood what it is like to be a single parent, juggling a career and being the sole household provider. She cannot understand what my life has been like, and that is okay.

So when I tell her I just want to be happy, it must sound like a cop out. But that is all I want to be, and I am.  My life doesn’t fit in the traditional mold of what looks like happiness to others. But to me, it is exactly that.

I make no excuses for my life. To explain how I feel sometimes falls on deaf ears. Happiness is all I ever wanted. The road to this point may not have been a perfect straight line, but it was a road that I have been thrilled to travel, and am excited at where it will still lead.

~ Patti Crowley

Old Age Beats the Alternative

alternativeThis cracked me up… It is exactly how I feel today. One year closer to half a century old. Okay, okay, so I have a few years left before I turn the big 5-0. For the past 6-7 years, I have said each year on my birthday that old age is still far better than the alternative. Oh, how true!

Growing older brings about feelings of what we could’ve done, should’ve done, and have yet to do before time runs out. Pretty dismal thoughts, right? But the truth is, I am at a place in my life where I simply do not want to live with regrets. I wake up each day and try to do the next right thing. Sure, there are things I have yet to do. I will get to them, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

So today is my birthday. My children are still in Illinois, and I am here in Arizona. I miss them so very much, but they both called to wish me a happy birthday. Trust me, the fact that my 21 year old son remembered AND actually called me is a miracle in and of itself. Not having them here gives me too much time to think about the actual birthday event, and in thinking of turning 47, I suppose I should be making a bucket list. Then I wonder, “What’s the point?” As things come up that I want to do or accomplish, I can either set my mind to make them happen, like making this move to Arizona, or I can decide they aren’t really all that important after all. I look at people who have made up bucket lists with things like the following:

1. Climb Mt. Everest.

2. Skydive.

3. Drive a race car.

I mean, seriously, how important are these types of bucket list items? If you want to climb Mt. Everest, start collecting your spare change in a jar marked “mountains”.  If you want to drive a race car, post something on facebook. Chances are you have a friend somewhere, who knows someone, who knows someone with a race car hobby.

I say, forget the lists. Start living now. Want something to happen? Damnit, make it happen. Have a dream? Start living it right this very minute. There is no dream worth putting off. If it seems unattainable, figure out a way to make it attainable. Where there is a will, there is a way. Believe me on this!

~ Patti Crowley

Life Isn’t About Finding Yourself… It’s About Creating Yourself

Browsing around Barnes and Noble, I saw a plaque with the following saying on it:

Creating yourself

Believe it or not, I had never heard that quote before. The funny thing is, when I moved from IL to AZ just under a month ago, many of my friends asked if I was trying to find myself. I laughed it off, and said that I’ve been looking for a long time and haven’t found anything yet!

I suppose that answers the question for me. I will never “find” myself. The only self I will be showing to the world is the self which I create. I don’t want to find myself… Instead, I want to create the me that I want to be.

We have the power to be who we want to be, do what we want to do, and go where we want to go. I proved that to myself by picking up my life, packing it all in a 20 foot U-Haul truck, and moving myself across the country on a leap of faith. I want to create a “me” with whom I could see myself being best friends. Think about it… don’t we all want to be the person that others want to be around.

I am creating, and re-creating, myself each and every day. I am not looking to find out who I am. I will never know that for sure. So here I sit, writing, looking forward to each new day, and praying for the guidance to help me be the best ME I can be!

~ Patti Crowley

Laughter is an Instant Vacation

laughterI have not laughed as much in years as I have this past week. Having my daughter here in town with her best friend has been wonderful. There has not been a dull moment, to say the least. Why is it that when you finally settle down after a huge laughing session, that you feel so spent? What an amazing feeling!

Milton Berle said it best: “Laughter is an instant vacation.” I have spent many years taking myself too seriously, drudging through each day as if I was on some sort of mission, thinking only of the destination instead of the journey. But it is when we live in each moment that we find the most happiness. I remember working myself to exhaustion, just trying to get through until my next day off. But I can have an instant vacation if I simply live in the moment and enjoy every second, finding humor in mundane things.

The other night I went down to the pool with the girls after a long day at work. They were reenacting the scene from Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey were practicing lifts in the lake. Now, may I remind you that these girls are 18 years old. I laughed so hard that I was crying. I realize this is one of those stories where you “had to be there” to find it funny, but I had to pass it along anyway.

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As I sat there with my feet in the pool and tears streaming down my face, I realized that this week, I have been living in the moment. Even at my new job, I have been enjoying getting to know the residents in the community which I manage. I have been taking the time to laugh with them, and listen to their stories, even though I may have files piling up which I know I will get to eventually. It is those little things that make life worthwhile. Laughing at silly stories, taking time to look at the mountains on my drive in to work, sipping a cup of fresh coffee that has just been brewed.

Life is beautiful, not to mention FUNNY, if we simply take the time to look around.

~ Patti Crowley