Seeking Holiday Perfection?

 

“If Everything was Perfect, You Would Never Learnand You Would Never Grow.” Beyonce Knowles


The December issue of Country Living Magazine
is sitting on my kitchen counter.

On the cover there’s a pretty white farmhouse.

In front of the house sits an old mint-green truck with a freshly cut
Christmas tree on top. Every window on the house has
a wreath with red bows and garland hangs from the porch rails.

I wonder what it must feel like to live in a house decorated like that.

I imagine how special it must feel to celebrate the holidays in a house like that.

I look around my house.

The tree is up, but there are no light or ornaments yet.

I bought two wreathes but they’re sitting on the front porch floor.

My dining room table is covered with boxes of decorations and ornaments.

I look again at the magazine and wonder how other people do it.

How do they get their houses to look so perfect?

And I don’t mean just the houses in the magazines.

I mean all the houses I pass in my neighborhood and surrounding towns.

Where do they find the time to create such perfection?

It seems I go through this every year.

These feelings of being not good enough.

Of feeling overwhelmed.

Feeling exhausted before it’s all even started.

And then that voice in my head asks me, What is perfect?

Wasn’t it perfect last week getting to sit with my parents
for all those uninterrupted hours after my Dad’s surgery?
(He’s home and doing really well)

Wasn’t it perfect driving to Vermont to meet my sister
for a pre-holiday lunch and walk our dogs along the river?

Wasn’t it perfect sitting next to my girl at the
latest Mother-Daughter flick at our local cinema?

Or even writing this email and sharing these thoughts with you?

I could have been hanging wreaths and putting up decorations,
but look what I would have missed!

So instead of beating myself up, I’ll remind myself,
and you, that what’s really perfect is slowing down,
loving life exactly as it is, showing up exactly as we are
and being present to yourself and those you love.

That, as far as I’m concerned, is Perfect.


Starting to feel “Holiday Overwhelm”?
Then check out the interview I was so honored
to do on that very subject!
It’s on 11/19/17 and listed under Inspirational Women!

With Love and Blessings,

Traveling – The Magic of Holding a Vision

Ever since Tucker left for his Gap year in England, I’d been counting down the days till our visit. In anticipation, I either wrote down, or said the following Intention out loud every day:

“I am so delighted that our trip to England to visit Tucker was Magical and full of Ease and Joy.”

Keep in mind, if you have an upcoming event, whether it be travel, a party, a meeting, even a trip to the grocery store(!!) – Set your Intention ahead of time to ensure success!

Use the words, I am and create your intention as if the event has already happened.

For example: I am so happy that my meeting went so well. I am thrilled that our party was so joyous and easy to host. I am so excited that my daughter landed the part in the musical. You get the picture!

And remember, Writing down your intention makes it even more powerful! 

I am so delighted to report that we returned home last week, and although sad to once again say goodbye to our boy (man!!), as you’ll see from the photos, our journey was everything (and more) that we intended – including a room upgrade with a Magical view of the Thames!

The 500 year old Abbey where Tuck is living for the year!

A Magical little town!

I took a 2 hour walk along the Thames!

Tuck showing us the amazing soccer pitches!

So happy to be all together!

Our hotel and view of Thames after the upgrade!

An art gallery opening with Andie!

Into London!

Inside the London hotel lobby – Wow!

It was a journey full of Magical Moments to last a lifetime!

 

Your turn! 

Make it a practice to Set your Intentions and allow your Magic to arrive! 

 

Father’s Dad Tribute

A few weeks back, I shared a Mother’s Day tribute post. So with the arrival of Father’s Day, and my Dad’s birthday  being just around the corner, I thought back on one of my most special Dad memories.

My Dad’s birthday is on the 4th of July. For years we woke to the mixture of him blasting John Phillip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever and my mother shouts of “Turn that music down, Jerry.” As little kids, we really believed him when he told us that the fireworks were in honor of his special day!

We spent all his birthdays at my Aunt and Uncle’s and Grandparent’s summer cottage on Henderson Harbor, in upstate New York.  The only time during the 4th of July that I wasn’t in the water, or making tents out of towels on the lawn, or running around with lit sparklers, was when everyone gathered around Nam and Gramp’s black and white, rabbit-eared TV to watch Wimbledon.

I remember one year in particular, sitting on the floor, leaning back against Dad’s legs, watching Chrissy Evert battle Martina Navratilova.  Chrissy had just hit a beautiful winner down the line.  “Dad,” I said, “I bet she could beat you.” Everyone had laughed. Confused and embarrassed, I pulled my knees into my chest, until Dad patted me on the back.  Then I realized my silly mistake.  Of course she couldn’t beat my Dad.  Nobody could beat my Dad.

For years, I’d been sitting on the grass outside the tennis courts, watching him play.  His opponents would always tease, Oh no, he’s brought his good luck charm, and I’d wait for them to finish so I could get on the court with my Dad.  I’d stand on the opposite side of the court, trying to return his serve, trying not mis-hit the ball as he charged the net, trying to win that promised hot fudge sundae if I ever beat him.  We’ve been playing for years and I’ve yet to win that sundae!

The summer I turned 16 was the first I’d ever spent away from my Dad on his birthday.  But, I did spent the day at The Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club!

I’d traveled to England on a High School summer exchange program and a group of us spent the night sleeping on the payment outside the stadium in hopes of securing tickets.  When the gates opened on the morning of July 4th, we were tenth in line and ended up with front row seats on Center Court!

I remember trying to mentally record every detail so I could later share it with my Dad. The reel still plays in my head of the traditional bowl of strawberries and cream, the delicately manicured bright green grass of the courts, our Chrissy playing just yards away from me, the misbehaving fans screaming from the standing-room-only section, and Jimmy Connor’s bow to Princess Diana that made her blush so deeply. Princess Di was so pretty in a soft, fuchsia dress that several times I ended up watching her instead of the tennis match.

And there I was, across the ocean from both my Dad and a country celebrating birthdays.  A 16-year-old girl experiencing her first true taste of independence, all the while wishing my Dad was by my side to share it with me.

My Dad with Lee and Tucker at Tuck’s HS graduation last weekend!

 

With Blessings to you and yours,

 

 

My Boy’s Journey to Manhood

As my 18-year-old son prepares to graduate from high school in just a couple of weeks, a stroll down memory lane led to this piece I’d written six years ago. There’s such magic in seeing the connection between those boyhood moments and his emergence into manhood…

When Tucker was a little guy, he’d fashion fishing poles out of sticks and string and hang his “rods” over the back of the kitchen sofa. A bite from a big one, would require great effort and lots of groaning until he successfully reeled in his imaginary catch.

His first “real” rod was red, all of three feet long, with Mickey Mouse on the reel and a little, yellow rubber fish attached to the line.

It wasn’t long until the rod without a hook was no longer satisfactory, and Tuck graduated to a new real rod, hook and all. He learned how to put on worms and release the fish he’d caught, and every vacation, his fishing pole was the first thing in the car.

But as he grew older, his interest in fishing waned, replaced by more active endeavors like skateboarding, biking and soccer.

Yet on this Memorial Day, there he was casting a line way out into the water. “I haven’t seen him fish in ages,” I said to Lee who was sitting nearby, changing the lure on his rod.

“Look at the picture on the camera and you’ll know why,” he said.


I turned on the camera and saw the picture they’d taken just before releasing the bass my husband had caught.

“No wonder he’s inspired,” I said. But by late afternoon, all he’d caught were five small perch.

“He won’t let these fish go,” my daughter, Andie complained, staring into the bucket where the fish were swimming around.

“I’m cooking them for our dinner,” Tuck said, flipping his hair out of his big, excited eyes. The day’s sun had lured a few new freckles out on his nose.

“Dinner?” I asked, thinking of our nearly packed car and desire to get back home.

“Yeah.  I’ve made dinner, but that food was from the store. This is dinner I caught,” he said.

Looking into the wide eyes of my soon to be thirteen-year-old son, I knew this was a significant event.

“OK,” I said. “Go ask Daddy to show you how to clean the fish.”

My daughter, Andie was distraught. “You can’t kill those fish,” she cried.  “I won’t eat them.”

“You love fish,” Tucker reminded her.

“But those are from the store,” she said, prompting a discussion on food sources.

(Later she “accidently” let one go, but Lee helped her catch a replacement, which she reluctantly put in the bucket with the others.)

As Lee and Tuck covered the picnic table with newspaper and sharp knives, Andie hovered nearby.  She squealed when Tucker cut the heads off the still wriggling fish, but his squared shoulders seemed to say, Look at me providing sustenance for my family.

Five little perch isn’t a lot of sustenance, but with beans and left over pasta, it amounted to a meal.

We each had a couple three-inch fillets that Tuck had dredged in milk and breadcrumbs and fried in butter.  Andie, who wasn’t going to eat her little friends, pleaded with everyone to share a bit more off their plate.

The fish was truly delicious. But even more delicious was witnessing my boy take a step toward manhood, swelling with pride as he demonstrated his ability to care for those he loves.

Then…

 

Now…

His interests may have changed, but that little boy wanting to care for the ones he loves still lives deep inside him.

Many Memorial Day blessings to you,

 

On Mother’s Day

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking about my role as Mom and wondering what childhood memories will really stand out for my kids as they grow older.

I assumed it would be those really extraordinary times, the ones that take lots of planning and big effort…

The trips into Boston to the Museum of Science, the Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, Fenway Park… that Mother’s Day when we all dressed up and went to the Museum of Fine Arts and then that pricey South End restaurant…

All those holidays where I shopped, cooked, baked and decorated to make it all just perfect and special and unforgettable…

Or the birthday parties… the one when Andie invited every single kid in her class and quite a few from Tucker’s, the bowling alleys, the moonwalks, the gigantic cakes…

Or the vacations we saved for, the gifts, the fancy outfits, the expensive restaurants…

I brought up some of those special occasions with the kids the other day and was met with mostly blank stares. After jogging their memories with key details about each event, they both said variations of Yeah, I kind of remember that, offering me sympathy pats on the shoulder and saying That was fun, Mom.

So, I started thinking back on what I remember most from my own childhood. I closed my eyes and allowed memories to wash over me…

Sitting on our front flagstone steps next to my mother’s tanned legs while she flipped through that day’s mail and turned the pages of the evening newspaper. 

Mom and I stretched out on the camel back sofa in our den drinking rainbow sherbet-ginger ale floats, watching the 1970’s game show To Tell the Truth. 

A Friday night, I was really young, but we stayed up late and ate a steak dinner with garlic bread and sat around the table so long that the mushroom shaped candle burned right down to a pile of wax. 

Mom’s pink and white striped collapsible lounge chair, the kind that made the click, click, click noise when it was opened or folded up, and the smell of her Hawaiian tanning oil floating in the air.

My backyard birthday party when Mom joined in the relay race and had to sit on a big balloon to make it pop…

As memories continued to flood in, I couldn’t help but notice just how ordinary they all seemed. They were just everyday moments I spent hanging out with Mom.

And then I got it; maybe it’s not about creating memories, it’s about just being with my children and allowing memories to happen.

mom

My Mom!

So in honor of my mom and just in case the kids want a delightful memory to store away for someday, I made root beer floats and we all curled up on the couch to watch Jeopardy!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  Thanks for the memories.

May your Mother’s Day be a day full of wonderful memories and if you’re looking for a gift that will touch every mom’s heart, my story of unexpected motherhood can be found here – Preemie: Lessons in Love, Life, and Motherhood 

With love and blessings,

Why I Wake Early

Years ago, a dear friend introduced me to the gorgeous poetry of Mary Oliver.

Although I adore so many of her poems, one in particular provided inspiration then, and has done so for many years since.

And this beautiful spring morning was no exception. My hubby and I were both awake at 5:45. “How about a walk?” I asked.

And to my surprise and delight, he agreed to leave his mountain bike at home, and join me in the woods on foot.

We walked much further than we’d intended, arriving at the waterfall several miles from our house.

It was a magical morning.

 

 

Thank you, Mary Oliver for the inspiration…

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Here’s to hoping you find inspiration and magic in your day.

10 Lessons on Having a Preemie

photo credit: barycenter.com

10 Lessons on Having a Preemie

1.) You didn’t do anything wrong.  After having a preemie, it is completely normal to feel guilty, ashamed and terribly afraid after giving birth to a preemie, but It Is Not Your Fault. You might never know Why your baby arrived early and sometimes you have to let go of the Why in order to move forward.

2.) Not everyone is a “baby person” and nurturing is not automatic for every mother, even mothers of full term babies.  It’s o.k. if you feel this way; many women do but don’t speak their feelings out loud.

3.) Speak your truth. Don’t let your fears and anxiety breed in the dark.  Bringing your deep felt emotions to light keeps them from growing and festering inside you.

4.) Motherhood can be lonely, even for mothers of full-term babies. Ask for help. When others offer help, accept it.  By receiving with openness and grace, you are in fact giving in return. And believe it or not, to show your vulnerability is actually to be at your greatest strength.

5.) Create a vision of your baby in the future and hold on to that vision.  Write a list of all your “some days” – walking on the beach, eating ice cream cones on a hot summer day, flying a brightly colored kite, lying in the grass looking for shapes in the clouds…

6.) Don’t believe everything the doctors tell you. Create your own expectations for your child and don’t allow your child’s potential to be limited by anyone else.  Use your voice.  Speak up for yourself and your baby.  You are your baby’s voice.

7.) Cover your baby’s isolet with a dark blanket.  If your NICU is too bright or too noisy, speak up.  Your baby will grow and heal best in a dark womb-like environment.  Post-NICU, explore alternative therapies to compliment traditional medical treatments, i.e. Reiki, energy healing, cranial sacral therapy, Brain Gym.

8.) If you can’t shake your deep anxiety, it’s highly likely you’re suffering from PTSD.  Posttraumatic Stress is very common among preemie parents. (Resources to help – EMDR, Support groups, Peer to Peer support through Hand to Hold, therapy, writing),

9.) Take care of YOU.  Like the oxygen mask on an airplane, you have to breathe first before putting the mask on your child. It’s ok to take time for yourself and let someone else care for your baby.

10.) Choose love over fear.  It’s the hardest thing in the world to love when you’re so afraid you might lose, but our babies came here to love and be loved.  And remember, no matter how bad things get, no matter how lonely you feel, You are not Alone. Someone has walked this path before you and someday you’ll be on the other side sharing your story.

Ready for more? Join me and other moms in Igniting Your Magical Life; Becoming a Happier Mom Workshops

© Kasey Mathews, 2012

 

Letting Go

Last week I felt an unexpected surge of courage and decided to email Arianna Huffington directly and pitch her a story idea. Not only was I surprised that she replied two hours later, but was also surprised to learn that she’d left her position at the Huffington Post to start a new company called Thrive Global. I love the new company’s mission which you can read about here. My surprise went one step further when she wrote that she loved the story and my voice and not only wanted to publish my story but asked me to be a regular Thrive contributor! How’s that for Magic? Lesson for the week – put yourself out there and see what happens!

photo credit: RE Magazine

The Gift of Impermanence

Everyday on the way to the kid’s school we used to pass a big, red barn. Boy, did I love the sight of that barn. Every morning as we drove up the hill, with the blue sky and fluffy clouds in the background, I’d think, “Man I have got to get a photo of that barn.” But we were always running late, or my phone was too full, and I just never did. And then one day, on the way to school, a swarm of workers surrounded the barn, and by the next morning, the barn was gone. Gone.

Next year my son will be gone — gone off to college. And two years after that, my daughter will follow suit. The other day my son and our dog, Ed were curled up on the couch — it was a magical moment — “Please let me take picture,” I asked, and surprisingly he said OK. But once again the screen on my phone was black with the message Cannot Take Photo…

So for the past week I’ve made a concerted effort to “de-clutter” all the photos on my phone and computer. My phone is so full, it can’t take new photos or even receive voicemail. And my computer, well let’s just say that if my computer wore pants, it would be up several sizes. Both my phone and my computer are backed up; so all I really need to do is delete the 5,147 photos on my phone and the 31,498 photos on my computer. But I worry…

Click here to read more

My “What’s Next” has Arrived!

 

A few years back I wrote a post about the time of transition our family was experiencing. The kids had moved to a new school and were gone for longer parts of the day, and I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing with my days. A dear friend advised me to take some time for myself and not worry about the What’s Next. “It will come when you’re ready,” she had said. And she was right. For the past several years I have “refilled” my well, taking really good care of myself and spending my days doing things I love to do. And then, last year, around February, an idea popped into my head. And that idea soon became a seed, and that seed began to germinate and eventually spout.

And today, I’m so happy to announce that that little seed is now a full blossom, ready to greet the world.

My idea was about Magic. That there is so much Magic in our lives if we’re only able to see it.

So I hope you’ll join me on this journey and discover the wondrous possibility of Magic in your life.

Here’s an excerpt of that original blog post that led to this moment. What I love so much is how my friend’s advice was so perfect. That sometimes we want to rush the process of what we’re supposed to be doing, but in trusting that everything happens in perfect timing, we

Walking through the woods thinking about transition and where I am in my life right now, the same question kept running through my mind… What’s next?…  What’s next?… What’s next?  I walked in rhythm to that chant until I hardly recognized it was there. I walked on until I emerged from the woods and saw a friend out in her garden.  I sat down on her stonewall and found my chant spilling out into formed words.  “I don’t know what’s next,” I told her, explaining how straight out of college I’d started teaching in Boston.  How just months after Tucker’s birth I’d started after-school creative writing workshops, and how upon moving to New Hampshire, I’d thrown myself into the process of writing, publishing and promoting a book.  And now, I had no idea what was next.

Picking up a few of the hydrangea she’d just cut, my friend paused.  “I guess I’m using this time in my life to refill my well,” she said.  Her words seemed to float in the air, enveloping me in their simplicity.

“You’re allowed to do that?” I asked, both of us laughing and sighing simultaneously.

The rest of my walk home brought a new theme song; the What’s Next song, replaced by the Refilling My Well song.  And that new music washed over me like a joyous symphony.

I’m just discovering what refilling my well looks like, but I’m pretty sure that in between making breakfasts, packing lunches, washing soccer uniforms, gluing letters on poster board projects and driving back and forth to school and soccer games, it involves lots more long walks, yoga classes, hand-written letters to old friends, wandering through garden and vintage shops, meditating on my yoga mat, diving into the stack of books piled on my bedside table and filling the pages of my black and white composition notebooks with new thoughts, stories and observations.  What I also see in that “Refilling My Well Picture” is a more present, centered me, ready to meet and welcome my children back into our home, the place that waits for them as they move further and further out into the world.

This blog has been a place I’ve so loved meeting you every week for the past couple of years, but I feel it’s now time to close my computer for a while and allow those fresh story and writing ideas to emerge as I begin this well-filling process.  I will so miss our connection, but as heavy as my heart feels, I know for now, that this is the right decision.

 

 

Magical Trash?

photo credit @scientificmom.com

Here in New Hampshire we take our trash to the dump. Most of the dumps have a “give and take” table, or as my friend calls it “the still good pile.”

I special order things from the dump.

Not trash, but other goodies that people no longer want or need. I don’t place my order with the folks who manage the dump. Instead, I place my order with the Universe. Sometimes I consciously put it out there and hope what I need will appear, or at other times, without really thinking about it, I wish for something, and then I’m surprised and delighted when it appears.

When a friend told me that she hadn’t read Many Lives Many Masters by Brian Weiss, I told her that I’d buy her a copy. Unfortunately, for my friends at my local bookstore, there it was on the give and take table two days later.

“This popcorn is too oily,” I said to my husband, Lee. “I wish we had an air popper.”  There it was at the dump on Saturday, still in the original box.  Same with the French coffee press, still in its box.  We’d had one, but I’d given it away and then wished I hadn’t (I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t mine!). My son’s class was going on a camping trip and the only thing missing from the list was a teapot.  I wasn’t giving up the new white kettle on my stove, and nobody else offered up theirs either. Then on Thursday I went to the dump and there in the center of the give and take table was a shiny metal teapot. I took it home, cleaned it up and sent it on the trip.  Never saw it again, which is why I didn’t loan mine in the first place!

The rug I found was one of my best. I had just finished telling my mother-in-law that I wished I could find a new rug for our sitting room – something blue. “Blues are hard to find,” she’d said. She knew because she’d been looking for a rug for over a year. But that same day, my husband and I went to the dump and there was a rug folded up under the give and take table. I grabbed Lee’s shirt, but he tried to pull away. “No way,” he said, curling his lip. “Not a used rug.” Even Lois, the dump’s recycling vigilantly, took his side. “You never know with a rug,” she said.  I could see that it was a hooked rug, blues, and well, I’d had luck before.  So I begged Lee to help me carry it to the car, promising to return it immediately if it was no good.

My mother in law helped me carry it in, and she unfolded it before I had a chance. “I know this rug and it sells for 700 bucks. It’s practically brand new!”  As she vacuumed the “new” rug, she grumbled about how she’d been looking for a rug for over a year. I offered to give her that one, but she said the colors weren’t right.  She did ask, however, if I’d order one for her. “Something with reds and tans.”  I told her I’d try.

But I also told her to give it a try herself. And you should, too! This sort of Magic is available to us all! You just have to believe it, and have a really good give and take pile! Or if you don’t have a dump where you can practice your magic, how about a garage sale or your local discount or antique store? Is there anything you’ve been looking for? A small table for your front hallway? A working lamp for your bedside table? Look around for what you need and then go ahead and ask for it. You may be surprised by what shows up!

Have you already experienced this sort of magic and had something you wished for unexpectedly appear in your life? Let us know here in the comments or over in The Usual Magic Facebook Group!