Cheers to New Beginnings

One of my newest endeavors that has taken me away from this blog, is actually one of my most favorite past times.   I thought today, of all days, would be a great day to fill you in on this adventure.  For those of you who may be unaware to the significance of the day, today marks the 10th anniversary of my brother’s passing after fighting leukemia for 3 years. 

A year ago today, as I sat in my rotary meeting, I listened to a speaker discuss a new park that was (and is) under construction in Greenville.  It is to be called the Cancer Survivor’s Park, and it’s to be a place of rejuvenation, a place of learning, and a place of healing for everyone who has experienced some form of cancer directly or indirectly.  

As I sat in that meeting, I learned that I was considered a survivor of cancer because I am a survivor of my brother.   The executive director, Kay Roper, spoke so eloquently and passionately about this park, what it meant to her and what it would mean to the community.   Within moments, I had a lump in my throat and tears at the brim.  

I’d spent a good year and a half before meeting Kay, trying to find a place for me outside of being Davey and Henry’s mom.   I looked for something that would be an old semblance of myself, the creative, hard-working, career oriented individual I always thought I would be.   I knew what I was looking for was volunteer work as I didn’t have the band width to handle a full time job and still be the mom my boys had grown accustomed to.   Problem was, as I’ve always said, it couldn’t be just any volunteer work.   If it was going to take time away from my boys then it HAD to be something more worthwhile than padding the bottom line of corporate America.  AND it had to be something I could passionately feel good about.  

As with most things in my life, there is always Divine Intervention.   Even when I think the Lord doesn’t hear me, He is always listening.   When He brought Kay into my life on the 9th anniversary of my brother’s death, I knew this is where I was supposed to be and that my patience and faith in Him had finally paid off, as it always does. 

When I started volunteering with the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance, I was intimidated.   As I’d told my husband on countless occasions, I felt like our children were sucking me of any brain cells I had.   My mind, that part of me I once coveted which perhaps wasn’t the smartest in the world, wasn’t feeling challenged anymore.  The wheels were always turning but I wasn’t learning something new.   For a while, and even now, it’s felt like the boys had drained me of any intellect I’d had and I hadn’t been able to replenish that.  

I joined the Communications Committee and listened to all of these people who were still in the working world, mostly in marketing and advertising, and I was in awe, enamored, and as I said before, intimidated.   What could I contribute?   I worried that the Lord had answered my prayer, but perhaps I had prayed incorrectly.   Again, I just needed to have patience and faith in Him.

A couple of months ago, the opportunity arose for me to help out with a series that had become stagnant.   There just were not enough people to get the series going again, to coordinate, organize, and even help write and edit.   I didn’t hesitate.  I immediately spoke up during that month’s meeting and said I would “own” the series, and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.

It is known as the Sunday Survivor Series, and is a bi-weekly story published on the park’s website every Sunday evening.    The stories feature someone within our local community who has been impacted by cancer, either directly or indirectly.  In most cases, the interviewees are survivors of some form of cancer, with the occasional relative of someone who has passed mixed into the shuffle of stories. 

As an introduction of me joining the team, I was photographed with my boys and the creator of the series interviewed me.   When I was being interviewed, I was amazed at how raw the emotions still were, nearly 10 years later.   I found I could still feel Brian’s last hug, his last tug of my ponytail, his voice as he spoke to me, and even the raspy sound of his last breaths as he squeezed my hand.   As I went through that interview, I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy that I would be able to help so many others tell their stories, that I will be able to offer that compassionate touch, that vessel for emotions and stories to eventually unfold.  

So, here’s the link to the stories.  Our newest one is out and what a wonderful young man and inspiration he is.   The second story is mine.    

http://www.cancersurvivorspark.org/survivor-series.php

Please take a moment to read it and then take a moment to read some of the other stories.   Follow the Facebook page for the Cancer Survivors Park.  Sign up for email notifications so you’ll always know when a new story is out.   You may get to read some of my words there, even when they can’t always be here on this blog, and you may find an additional person who needs your prayers.  

God Bless all of you for following me, for encouraging me, and for giving me your love in some way.   I’m hoping 2017 will be full of great new adventures and insightful words to share with you all.  

What I Leave Them With

I read this post today on Facebook.   It was titled 2 Rules About Children.

  1.  Do not ask them to deal with adult issues.
  2. Do not burden them with situations they cannot control.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I worried about miscarriages.  Once I was past that stage, I worried about any health issues with my child.  I worried about whether I would really be capable of raising a child.   I’ve never been a totally selfless person, so I worried about whether my child would steal my thunder.  Yes!  I did selfishly worry about that and I know I’m not the only one.   I worried that I would take a backseat to my child and his well being and could I do that?   Could I totally forgo my dreams, aspirations, and physical well being, for my child?

After Davey was born, I worried about if I would remember to clean his where he was circumcised correctly.   Would I bathe him appropriately?  Then of course, there was the worry that I wasn’t providing enough breast milk when he wasn’t immediately gaining weight.  I cried.  I sobbed uncontrollably in the doctor’s office, whined about being a failure to my child.   I was terrified, truly terrified that perhaps I didn’t have what it took to raise a child.

Some nights I would get up and sneak into his room just to make sure he was still breathing.  Other nights, when exhaustion seemed to have my body immovably shackled, I let him cry it out at night.   I would wake up the next morning, log onto my social media account and read about the pros and cons to letting your child cry it out.   I would then be wounded with more emotional guilt for not being the caring parent that people claimed I should be.   “How heartless can you be,” some would say when I would comment that I’d let Davey cry it out.  Some days that criticism would sting, other days I would reply back “suck it!”

As a parent we worry about so much, it comes with the territory.  Your child is your heart, he is a part of you.   My life revolves around my role as a mom to my two boys, to protect and nurture them, but to also teach them and let them grow.   All of the things I used to worry about, though seem really small when I look at what’s going on in the world today and what type of world my children will grow up in, and their children, and so on.

We limit the amount of news the boys see and my husband and I try to hold off on our discussions of current events and politics until after the boys have gone to bed.   Our discussions can get heated even though we’re both on the same side and I worry (there’s that word again) that the boys will feed off of those discussions in a negative way.  The world they are growing up in is drastically different from the one in which I grew up.

Over the past week, we’ve been inundated with so much anger and hatred, so much hurt and violence, so much pain and agony.   It hurts my heart while also hardening it and adds a whole new spectrum of worry that I never thought would enter my stratosphere.   I find myself asking these questions over and over, “what kind of world am I leaving my boys with ?  What sort of legacy will I leave them with?  What levels of pain and suffering will they be forced to endure?”

Then I’m faced with another issue…how do I talk to my children about what’s going on in our country?   How do I talk to them about the importance of civil disobedience in a democratic society while also enforcing the importance of respect?   How do I talk to them about the fact that 5 police officers were murdered for just protecting a peaceful protest?  They’re 2 & 4, so we keep them insulated, they’re kids and shouldn’t be forced to deal with the burdens of the world so soon, but should something happen to me or even when I get old and die, how my children deal with the complexities of society worries me.   Have I taught them enough?  Surely I’m not the only parent with this thought.

So now my worry has gone from small things like, did he remember to brush his teeth, to a much larger scale of what sort of life will they have in a world becoming so full of hate.   I’ve done my best to instill in my boys the importance of Christ in their lives, respect for people in general, empathy and understanding for people less fortunate than them.   We tackled one hurdle this year when one of our police officers lost his life at the hands of a youth whom he’d tried to mentor.  The thought that crosses my mind is the same that crosses that of a 4 year old, “well if he was trying to a friend and help the boy, mom, then why did the boy shoot him?  He was a police officer.  That’s wrong.”  Those were the words from my child’s mouth.  How do you explain the evil in this world to a 4 year old without scaring him senseless?   My husband and I did that, we believe, to the best of our abilities, but still it’s a constant field of landmines with each piece of news that comes out.   We pick and choose what to tell them.   “Yes, baby, there are bad people in this world and they do win sometimes.”   Then there are the days when you find yourself sitting in the bathroom crying because your children were unknowingly playing with the children of the slain officer while at the neighborhood pool.   Your heart breaks with uncontrollable levels of sadness because you know these boys will have to grow up without their father.   Then your crying becomes that of guilt because you and your boys give to live so freely, and then to a cry of happiness that you don’t have to go through that grief.   I hide this from my boys.  I’d love to hide it from them forever, stuff all of this insensitivity, killing, and ignorance in a lock box (to quote the words of Al Gore in a debate with George W. Bush), but I can’t.   All I can do is love my babies, teach them the word of God, and hold them.

This world becomes scarier and scarier every day and thanks to social media, everything gets magnified.   People seem to enjoy seeing the bad and shun the good.   Media outlets fight each other for the most spectacular stories.   Evil sells faster than good.   It’s a fact of the world we live in and it’s my job to make sure that my children still have a childhood, still have the ability to accomplish their dreams, and to be a PARENT.   None of this can stop because of the worry and paranoia of today’s world, but the worry and paranoia still creep in.

As a parent, I want my children to have more than I ever did.   I want them to accomplish more.  I want them to be happy, to have every opportunity, and to have a life.

When I say my prayers, I first ask the Lord to forgive me of my sins, those I know I committed and those I unknowingly commit.  I thank Him for my family, everything I’m not entitled to because I am a sinner,  and then I pray that he helps the world to find Him again.   I suppose that’s the best I can do as a parent.

What I’ve Always Wanted

People tend to ask you that…what have you always wanted?  Others like to rephrase it by saying, if money were not an impediment, what would you do?   I’ve had this tossed out to me in the past and I’ve always answered with trivial things, those that will accentuate my vanity, or my need to outperform my peers.   Yes, those two have crossed my mind.

Then there are the responses of travelling, owning my own business, writing my book, and finally to the point where I am right now.   Money isn’t an issue.   My husband and I have found we can live off of his salary for the past four years.   Would we like more money?   Absolutely, but truthfully we’re living comfortably and a lot better than most.   So, what have I always wanted to do?   Be able to volunteer and devote my time, energy, and skills to a cause that is near and dear to my heart.  I didn’t know what was near and dear to my heart for a long time.   I’ve fought so hard, impatiently asked of the Lord what my calling should be, what more could I do outside of being a devoted and Godly wife and mother   I’ve prayed for a way that I can use my writing skills for something more than just trying to write that painstaking novel that will be my ticket to paradise.   There’s got to be more to my life than that.

Last month, that opportunity presented itself to me on the nine year anniversary of brother’s death.   When I attended my first meeting for the Cancer Survivors Park Alliance Group, I was a little nervous and a bit overwhelmed.   I was surrounded by philanthropists, business owners, executives, and artists.   I was engulfed by an overwhelming body of water that I had never been a part of in my life

Thoughts swirled through my head after I left the meeting.   Could I do this?   Would I really have something to contribute?   Would they all laugh at my ideas?   Flash forward a month, and it’s a completely new spectrum.   Yesterday I attended my second meeting for the CSPA Group.   I listened to stories of what’s happened in the press, the discussion of those lives who were recently lost to a form of cancer.   I watched potential commercials, looked at designs for banners, flyers, and digital signage.   I asked my questions and offered my input and what’s strange and exhilarating for me…I engaged in intelligent conversations, had my thoughts taken seriously, and actually walked away with an eagerness to work.

Tonight, I sit here in bed, The Greenville Journal, my notes, and various websites pulled up.   I sit here and work on my ideas, write marketing plans, and watch House of Cards.   As much as I love being home with my boys, it’s so personally rewarding to be doing something more.   My stomach twists in pains of guilt and anxiety when I contemplate going back to work full time and leaving my boys.   I don’t want someone else raising them and I don’t want someone else experiencing all of their firsts or even their seconds and thirds, but I do love feeling like that missing piece of the puzzle in my personality is now back in place.

As ridiculously cliché as it may sound, I feel like I’m whole again and it’s refreshing.

 

Happy 2016

2015 is in the history books, roaring it’s way out of the Doser household, quite more vehemently than that of a lion.   It’s the dawn of a new day, a new year, and a whole new world of possibilities.

I’m like everyone else, well most everyone else, in that I do create some sort of resolution.   And why not?   It’s a new year, time for a fresh new start, and perhaps the opportunity to not just become a better person, but also to live my life as a better person.   I tried to be a bit more realistic this year.   I’m not setting some lofty weight loss goal or quitting some vice (I don’t really have any unless you consider eating peanut butter straight out of the jar a vice).  No, instead I’m taking the opportunity to use the new year as a sort of strategizing session.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve sat back and pondered what was wrong with my life.   Why did it seem that I was constantly spinning my wheels daily and not feeling any sense of accomplishment.   I have a self worth, after all, and in order to feed that dreaded devil, I have to feel as if I’ve been productive.   The Christmas holidays nearly wiped me out, but I continued to trudge forward, and in doing so I decided that once and for all I needed to treat my stay at home lifestyle as a “job”, a career per se.

When I worked in the corporate world, I maintained a daily list of items that needed to be accomplished in order for me to move on to the next day with a clean slate.   Lately, I’ve felt as if I haven’t had any sort of clean slate with my life and that not only have I been spinning my wheels, but also sinking into mud.

Last week, I decided to go back to 4 years ago, when I was still a working mom, and do what I did then.   I’ve made a schedule beginning at 5a with the boys (don’t worry, they get to sleep until 6:30).   It allows for everything from personal writing time, which I’m doing now, to 2 hour work outs at the Y, lessons with the boys (reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history and Bible verses), lunch, nap time for Henry, my personal time with God, and even chores before collapsing at the end of the day with a good book or movie with my husband.

I’ve written out my schedule, what it will be daily, and have even allowed for Friday to be a free day for all of us!   I hope this has become a more realistic resolution and that it is something from which we’ll all benefit.  I hope this allows for me to start breathing again, to not feel so overwhelmed and to feel beneficial.   And of course, I hope this also allows for me to maintain this blog a bit better as I continue to share with you our daily adventures.

I hope you all rang in the New Year in the happiest and best ways possible, and that the Lord will continue to guide you, be merciful, and most of all that you will find Him this year, if you haven’t.   Happy 2016!

My Greatest Christmas Gift

From the very moment I’d found out that I was pregnant with Henry, I knew this pregnancy would be 100% different from my first.   I was terrified, selfishly, and it impacted how I went about my days with Davey.   I was sick, tired, and moody.   For the longest time, I was convinced Henry would be a girl.

His actual birthday was to be December 20th, but thanks in part to my previous C-section and my desire to not have his birthday so close to Christmas, Henry Bruce Doser was born on Friday the 13th in 2013.

Yesterday, we celebrated the 2nd birthday of my second and final biological child.   And much like with his big brother, I put him to sleep last night with the story of his birth, which went a little something like this.

Henry birth 5
Prince Henry’s first official picture.

Once upon a time, the king and queen decided to add another prince to their family.   Their oldest was just a little over two years in age, when the second prince made his entrance.   He was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 on Friday the 13th, but by 8 am that morning he started making his imminent arrival known.   The queen dealt with cramps and lower back pain, those that nearly mirrored her kidney stones from 14 years prior (at this Henry looked at me and laughed).   She gripped tightly to the king’s arms as he walked her into the hospital.

The queen was placed in a room with machines hooked up to her and wrapped around her belly.   The king sat alongside of her, occasionally stroking her arm, but mostly watching a Chuck Norris movie on television.  The incessant beeping of the machines, coupled with the contractions and the king’s inability to empathize, forced the queen to make a decision…The king was to be banished and the Queen Mother was to arrive.

Henry birth 1

As the hours went by, the Queen and her mother discussed upcoming Christmas plans, what it was like for the Queen Mother to give birth so many years ago, and what sort of crazy family member was doing the unthinkable.   Finally the time arrived when the queen was to go into surgery and so the king joined her.

Henry birth 3

A half hour later and Prince Doser II was born.   He wailed and he squirmed, making his entrance known.   He was just an ounce heavier than his older brother and the same height.   What a fine looking young prince he would be.   And in royal fashion it was decreed he would be named Prince Henry Bruce Doser.

Henry birth 2
Prince Davey meeting Prince Henry.

 

A short time later, Prince Davey, the older prince, entered the glass tower (as he called it) to meet his younger brother.   Prince Davey held tightly to the newborn prince, cradling him lovingly in his arms, even leaning over to kiss him.   The queen sat in her bed, staring at her beautiful boys and thanked the Lord for the blessings He bestowed upon her.   And from that moment forward they lived happily ever after.

Henry birth 4
Prince Davey giving Prince Henry his first brotherly kiss.

Every parent has a tradition, be it big or small when it comes to celebrating their children’s birthdays.   This is mine.

Henry laid in his bed, listening intently to my words, his thumb in his mouth.   Occasionally he smiled, but mostly he listened and stroked my hair.   At the end of my story, he kissed my cheek and said, “hap birthday me, mommy.”

My days become inundated with the grind of raising two boys, the stress, the guilt, and the pain, but I wouldn’t trade one second of any of it.   And people tell me I’ll miss these days.  I laugh in their faces, but I know the days are coming when hearing their birth stories will no longer be wanted, that the hugs will diminish, and the cuddles will become obsolete.   It saddens me and I realize these are some of the best days of my life and I WILL miss this.

Henry birth 6. jpg
Eating his birthday cake. Happy 2nd birthday, Prince Henry.

As I kissed him goodnight, he whispered, “love you, mommy” and I melted.   He was, and still is, my greatest Christmas gift.

A Change Will Do You Good.

I have a mixed relationship with change.  I’m always eager to have it, to break up what I feel has become the monotony of day to day life.   I dream about it, allow it to seep into every spare crevice of my brain.   I allow it to take control of my life, to affect me in ways that it shouldn’t.   Change is a good thing.   I’m a firm believer in that, it’s just the process of going through the change that wears on me.

My husband and I are very blessed.  We are fortunate for everything the Lord has given us.   We do our best to continuously thank Him for those blessings and not take them for granted.  Some days I feel that I should just be happy with what we have and not look for more, but I’m human.

For the past year or so, my husband and I have embarked on the adventure of looking for land with a potential new home site.  Over the years, we’ve both decided suburban life isn’t for us.  We have wonderful neighbors, but our neighborhood has grown and truthfully we feel almost suffocated.   The idea of land would give us the opportunity to explore with our boys in the comfort of our own backyard.  It would give my husband the opportunity to hunt in our own backyard, and it would give us the ability to do what we want with our property without seeking approval from our neighbors first.

Recently, the opportunity has presented itself for us to possibly purchase a significant amount of land along with a house already on the property.  The house is older than ours, as we custom built ours 8 years ago, but the place is beautiful with a lot of potential.  Unfortunately, there are some downsides.

It is more land, so there is more work.   There wouldn’t be a fence, so what would we do with our dog?   There are some changes and renovations to be done to the house, something I’m eagerly looking forward to should we get the house, but again it’s work.   My husband and I managed to get our current house the way we wanted it BEFORE having kids, thereby granting us the ability to really just do maintenance and spend time with our boys.   We wouldn’t be able to do that as much if we get this new house.

There’s also the moving.  I would have to pack up our ENTIRE house amidst the chaos of two boys.   I would uproot them from their home base and move them almost 45 minutes away.   On the plus side, moving would give me the opportunity to really declutter and clean out.  We would still be close to my family, but there wouldn’t be daily visits to the Y, there wouldn’t be a neighborhood pool during the summer, there wouldn’t be easy access to a biking trail.   A lot of things would change and it makes me sad, but the possibilities for our new adventures also excite me.

My husband and I aren’t new at house hunting.   We’ve done it before, but this time we have to take in so many other factors.   I find myself researching schools in my spare time, looking at FBI crime statistics for what could be our new area, trying to explore what could be our new surroundings.   I want to get it pinpointed where our closest grocery store would be, and fast food joint.   And all of this could be for naught if we can’t sell our house and get this one.   My sleepless nights of worry and excitement could be nothing more than a colossal waste of my time.

I’ll still plug forward, working towards the common goal of possibly purchasing this house with the land.   If it doesn’t work out, then something else may come along.  I just have to continue to reconcile myself with the fact that change is inevitable and it’s what you make out of it that really impacts your life.

Now, I must go and pray for guidance.  Sometimes I just really wish the Lord would tell me “yay” or “nay” when I attempt life altering changes.   It would make life easier.

A Letter to My Daughter

As I sit here typing up an email to both of my sons, I started thinking about what I would write in a letter to my daughter, if I had one. I know I would want the same basic things for her as I want for my sons…health, happiness, love, sincerity, respect. I think that it would be more, though just because I am a woman and I’ve experienced things that I could only relate to a daughter. So, I decided that I would write a letter to my daughter, or perhaps to my future daughters-in-law. It would go something like this.

My darling daughter,
While in your father’s office this week, I caught sight of the young lady working in his office. She’s very young, having just graduated from college, but she already has a very grown-up life. She’s an unmarried mother of two daughters. Right now she’s experiencing some problems with the father of her daughters and I’ve watched as she’s allowed him to tear her down. It angered me and it saddened me, not just for her, but also for the girls she’s raising on her own. It got me thinking about you and what I would want for you and what words of wisdom I could impart upon you.
Being a woman is difficult. I would hope that you’re able to stand tall and hold your head high. I want you to be able to look adversity in the face and perhaps slap it silly a few times. I want you to stay true to yourself, to consider how your actions directly and indirectly affect others. I want you to find at least one opportunity every day to find some way to do good for another human being. These are all the same things I hope for your brothers, but for you there’s more.
You’re going to fall in love, maybe only once, but most likely multiple times over the course of your life. Your heart is going to break and you’ll have days when you’ll tell yourself life can’t go on, but it will. You’re going to allow your heart to interfere with your head, perhaps finding a way to push down that part of your brain that tells you “hey, you deserve better.” Don’t let that happen! You’ll second guess yourself. You’ll worry. In the end, I hope you take a step back and breathe, because really and truly it’s not the end of your world.
Your intelligence will be tested and questioned because you’re a female. Stand strong, my sweet girl. Don’t be rude or heartless, but don’t allow yourself to pushed aside. You have a voice and you can be heard.
Don’t ever settle. Trust your instinct, because in most cases it’s right. You deserve happiness, love, and respect, but impart those traits upon others as well. Be empathic. You really don’t know what someone else’s life is like unless you’ve walked in their shoes. Trust me, my dear, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever walk in someone else’s shoes. Be careful to trust others and don’t always take things at face value.
Understand the importance of vanity and by that I mean it can be a person’s true downfall. You’ll hear this time and time again…it’s what’s inside that counts. And since we’re on that road, let’s discuss your Christian values.
God doesn’t care what you look like. He doesn’t care if you wear designer clothing, or have a supermodel body. Society may care, but society will not be there for you they way He will. Confide in our Lord daily. Remember to thank Him for your blessings and ask Him to bless others. Make some time each day to reflect upon His word, to read His word, and even spread His word. The Lord made you who you are. This is not your permanent home. Your permanent home is alongside Him in heaven. Remember that my dear and always lead a Christian life.
There’s so much more I could share with you, so much more that’s completely escaped my brain. Not to worry, my darling, you will be forced to listen to me every day of your life at least for the first 18 years you’re living with me.
One final thing…you are a blessing, not just to us, but to everyone you encounter. Remember that. Maintain a sense of humility, but remember that you can and should make a difference in another person’s life…hopefully a positive one. You are loved very much and regardless of what may happen in your life, you will always be loved.

I love you, my sweet, sweet girl.

Love,
Mommy