Dear Kai

Today’s post is written by my student, Katrina King. As a mother, I can relate to the love and pride she expresses for her daughter in this letter. I hope to write a letter like this to Maggie someday.

Dear Kai

Hey girl, so I got an assignment in my Comp class, and I think it is the best assignment yet, in my opinion of course. We were given an assignment to write a letter telling someone how thankful we are to have them in our life (on the topic of gratitude). I feel really comfortable writing this because I knew  before I finished reading the assignment that I would be writing about you.

kai-daughter-2

Katrina’s daughter, Kai

I know that I am your mother, and we will always have that special bond that so few share and so many others could relate to, but not many know what we have gone through just this fall semester. You had a full course load with 14 hours, me working two jobs, taking my first online course and attending an in-class lecture so I can finally finish school. To say it has been tough is most definitely an understatement.

I appreciate how hard you worked to try to maintain a good GPA in a very unfamiliar territory. I know you have had your struggles; I couldn’t imagine some of the fears you may have faced, especially since you are a deaf child, leaving your mark in a hearing world, a world that does not always understand you. You are doing your best to have your voice heard. You have helped me with getting your brother back and forth to school–practice, tutoring, feeding him–the whole nine, while I work some crazy hours, and you have done it all with a smile and not too many complaints.

Your grace and beauty defines the way a young lady should act and carry herself. I am so proud of you. I am thankful the Lord saw fit to pair us up to do this life together. There will never be enough words to tell you how truly grateful I am to have you as my daughter, and I thank you for being a positive role model to not only your brother but to others who cross your path as well. I pray you continue to strive for greatness; your hard work will not go unnoticed at times when you think you just can not go any further or things start to get rougher than you had hoped. Just know that you have not come this far to turn back.

I love you to the moon and stars and back.

Mom

 

Fireproofing

Garth Brooks, Warrant, Jason Mraz, The Foo Fighters, Donny Osmond, and even Pink Floyd have paid homage to the analogy of burning bridges. And who hasn’t burned a few bridges in her own lifetime–whether intentionally or unintentionally?

I’m not sure how or when, but somewhere along the way, I came to believe that with few exceptions, burning bridges was a pretty bad idea. I’ve deliberately and severely cut ties with a few people for various reasons; if the person or relationship is very unhealthy and/or harmful to me in some way, burning a bridge may be the best way to put permanent distance between me and that person or situation. But by and large, through much observation and experience, I’ve learned that you never know who you’re going to need down the road. If you’ve burned the bridge connecting the two of you, you won’t be able to get help or benefit from that person or relationship any longer.

I believe strongly in the power of networking. By networking, I mean REAL networking. Building lasting relationships. Showing concern and interest in others’ lives. Extending help when help is needed and when I’m able. I don’t mean collecting business cards and telling people, “we should do lunch!” but never following up. I haven’t perfected the skill of networking, but I’ve certainly grabbed hold of it and attempted to apply it to all areas of my life, not just to work relationships and professional settings.

I’ve watched countless disgruntled people act out and leave work situations in disarray to get back at co-workers or bosses. I’ve witnessed (and been on the receiving end of, unfortunately) friends pulling tantrums, behaving immaturely, or repeatedly neglecting to be responsible and courteous. I’ve observed many people who treated their family members by shamefully lower standards than they treated other people (or even strangers)  in their lives.

What’s the result?

Almost always, those disgruntled former employees don’t leave a pleasant taste in their employers’ mouths. Do you think the employer feels led to sing their praises when potential employers call checking references? I don’t think so. What happens to those friendships? They usually slowly fade away when the person on the receiving end of the bad behavior realizes she is exerting considerably more effort than the other person and grows tired of doing so. And how about family situations? Even if ties aren’t completely severed, they’re usually frayed and worn painfully thin, making every holiday or get-together somewhat uncomfortable.

I can think of multiple times in my own life when leaving bridges intact proved beneficial to me.

Me and my former co-workers

I recently was blessed to be reunited with my former sponsor in a recovery program I’ve been part of for five years. When I relocated to my hometown a few years ago, it was no longer feasible to continue our sponsorship relationship (for either of us). I harbored some hurt feelings over the dissolution of our relationship, but ultimately, I knew it was best for us to end it at that time. Less than two years later, after praying about it, both of us feel at peace with reconnecting in this way. This is rare, and it wouldn’t have been possible if either of us had been mouthy, disrespectful, or neglectful of one another in the past. The smooth, calm ending made it possible for us to envision a truly beneficial relationship between us in the future.

Another time, I held a job with the fiscal agent for a large government entity as a technical writer. I honestly found the job to be quite boring. I never had enough work to do to keep me busy, and it was rarely challenging. I did, however, work with great people, and that made the situation bearable. After working there for a little over a year, an opportunity fell in my lap to try my hand at fundraising and development with a non-profit. The position was on an interim basis with the opportunity for it to become permanent if I chose to stay. After just a few months, I knew I needed out–the work environment was somewhat hostile, and I found myself more stressed than I’d ever been before. Because I’d left my previous employer on such great terms, had given them plenty of notice, and had trained others well to take over my tasks without halting production, my former boss didn’t hesitate for one second when I called her and asked for my job back. She met me that evening with a contract and even allowed me to negotiate for a salary increase. I know she would not have been so quick to consider rehiring me if I’d performed poorly or left on bad terms.

Ultimately, I’ve learned that it’s best to treat people the way I want to be treated–to apply the Golden Rule to all relationships. I’ve learned that I can be polite to anyone, no matter how much I disagree with them or dislike them. And I’ve learned that when I do these things, I almost always reap the benefits.

So ask for forgiveness and make amends. Go the extra mile to maintain smooth paths between you and your loved ones. Duct tape your mouth shut when you are concerned that hot angry words might spew out at any minute. Pray before acting. Act as if you care even on the days when you don’t.

You never know who you’re going to need at the next bend in the road.

Manic migraines

Today is my seventh day in a row with a migraine.

I swear its onset is related to our return from our honeymoon to the beach. About four hours from home, the migraine reared its nasty head. Despite medical treatment and an array of other attempts to decrease its severity, it’s decided to stick around, teasing me with a few hours of relief occasionally.  I’ve suffered from migraines since college, but I’ve never had one last for seven days.

I know it’s hormone-related, and even though I feel terrible, I’m still grateful for the hormones because without them, I wouldn’t be pregnant with our precious child. Still, it’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook and pleasant disposition when my head is pounding and aching incessantly.

A few days ago, while reading my devotional book My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, I came across a paragraph about our moods.

“There are certain things in life that we need not pray about— moods, for instance. We will never get rid of moodiness by praying, but we will by kicking it out of our lives. Moods nearly always are rooted in some physical circumstance, not in our true inner self. It is a continual struggle not to listen to the moods which arise as a result of our physical condition, but we must never submit to them for a second. We have to pick ourselves up by the back of the neck and shake ourselves; then we will find that we can do what we believed we were unable to do. The problem that most of us are cursed with is simply that we won’t. The Christian life is one of spiritual courage and determination lived out in our flesh.”  -Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, May 20

I needed that.

Lying around with a cool rag on my head in a dark, air-conditioned room doesn’t help to improve my migraines, and it certainly doesn’t improve my moods. It doesn’t calm me down; it frustrates me because I lie there thinking of the day wasting away and passing me by. Relaxing? Meditation? Yoga? No, these things do not rid me of my migraines, unfortunately. Do they improve my mood? Try meditating with a real migraine, and you will have the answer :).

So how can I make any changes to my mood if I can’t change my circumstances? If I can’t control or alter my physical condition, and my mood is directly related to my physical condition, how can I improve my mood?

For me, the answer only lies in my relationship with God. I can choose to talk to Him while I’m lying in the cold, dark room and use that time to pray for people who need it most. I can attempt to smile when I’m at work even though I don’t feel like it, sharing a little joy with people who might benefit. I can keep in mind that no one around me causes the pain I’m experiencing, and it’s not fair to take that pain out on them.

And last but not least, I believe it’s important for me to remember to be easy on myself. I don’t have to smile constantly. I don’t have to pretend to feel great when I don’t. And if the laundry sits in a pile for two more days because I’m still suffering from this migraine, life will continue without any major catastrophic consequence.

In the mean time, maybe I’ll start planning our next trip to the beach.