Filed under: Family, Graced Moments, Motherhood, Mystery, Nurturing the Soul, Transition, Unconditional Love | Tags: bittersweet, change (3), direction, dreams (2), emotions (2), energy, excited, home (2), journey (3), launched, Let go (2), opposites, projection, sad, soul (2) | January 31st, 2015
My neighbor around the corner used to walk her little boys by my house with their big wheels. We would chat sometimes and she mostly complained about the people who lived behind her who were constantly annoyed by the noise wafting from her back yard when her family and friends were in the pool or just out BBQing. And she always punctuate the conversation with “But I will never move! This is my dream house!”
Imagine my surprise when a couple months ago, her sons now graduated from high school, I spotted a big fat For Sale sign on her property. Now they are gone- to where I have no idea. Since her sons were old enough to travel the neighborhood independently, our only communication was a wave as I drove by her house. She was usually outside meticulously manicuring her yard and garden and/or washing down the entire street in front of her house in her bathrobe.
When doing therapy with children, a very common assessment tool is called “House, Tree, Person”. The child is asked to draw all three on a blank piece of paper and the idea behind this is that they will “project” into the drawing aspects of their inner world. I’ve always loved doing this with my little clients, allowing both of us to relax and get to know each other. (And of course, I love any opportunity to color with my set of 64 Crayola Crayons-Burnt Umber and Brick Red being my favorites..)
In my quest to “let go” in 2015, I threw away all my notes and paraphenalia from graduate school, including my very first House, Tree, Person drawing. But it doesn’t really matter. Every one I’ve ever drawn looks just like this one. I did this the other day sitting at my kitchen table. You might ask if this is my “dream house”. Not really. I think I’m the only woman on earth who has never longed for her “dream house”.
Rather, I have many houses that I dream about.
Shortly after we moved from sunny California to Portland Oregon, my son Patrick, then 9 years old, had a vivid dream about our family home we had sadly left behind. He was outside playing with his brothers and the neighborhood kids with squirt guns. Out of water, he attempted to charge into the kitchen for a refill but found the front door locked. A stranger opened it and promptly announced “you don’t live here any more”.
Pausing here for a brief meltdown.
I grew up on Halo Drive in Compton, California. I had my babies on Tedemory Drive in Whittier. I sent my first son to high school from SE 31st Street in Portland, Oregon. And I launched all three of them into adulthood from my current home on Del Monte Avenue. Each house was a “dream house” to me because the people I loved the most made it just that. And in each house, a part of me was projected on to the walls and floors and empty spaces as my own personality and inner being grew and developed, magically displayed like a crayon drawing on a clean white piece of linen paper.
I’m moving, downsizing, cleaning, sorting and putting up for sale once again a house I will someday dream about. I’m feeling both excited and sad and several other emotions in between. But I am holding the tension of the opposites deep within as I go through this process. It’s time to make a change, to grow in a new direction, to take a chance, to redirect the energy in my life. It will be a bittersweet journey.
I will take this home with me. Every house I’ve ever lived in has taken up permanent residence in my heart and soul, carefully placed on my own personal Street of Dreams.
And I can revisit them any time I like.
Filed under: Being Catholic, Graced Moments, Midlife Mischief, Mystery, Nurturing the Soul, Testing the Limits | Tags: emotions (2), gird, Let go (2), loss (2), momentoes, nostalgia (2), random, struggle, transition (3), unpredictable, vestiges | January 10th, 2015
Many years ago, I attended a funeral with my then husband, for one of his co-workers. The gregarious and well respected engineer died relatively young leaving a wife and two small children. I don’t remember how he died but I do recall how sad the service was and how irritated I was as the priest continued to encourage the congregation to “Let Go and Let God”!
I didn’t think for one minute that this man’s wife and family were ready to swallow that message. Their grief was palpable and there would be difficult days and nights to get through before they could possibly “let go” and find peace with their loved one’s death. I cried the entire way home from that funeral feeling that life was so unfair and random and unpredictable. Vestiges of my own personal losses came up out of nowhere. Letting go was the last thing I wanted to do.
I found this card in a box with other momentoes that I have saved through the years. It was given to me after the death of my father more than 20 years ago with a heartfelt message from two dear friends from church, Mark and Margaret. So timely that the message should find its way into my hands, asking to be reconsidered.
When the student is ready the teacher will appear. I’m ready to hear this message. This is my intention for 2015.
I am a saver of old cards, of my parents things, of photographs, of memories. I have trouble opening my hands and letting things sift through, only keeping what is most important. I cling to old ideas and patterns and struggle with transition and change. But some old ways do not serve me anymore. I am choosing to change the energy in my life and counting on God to help me take the leap to the new and unexpected.
Last night I had a dream about seeing our old next door neighbors from our first home in Whittier. (Previous neighbors! Kenn and Lynda- you guys aren’t old yet!) I felt that tinge of sadness and nostalgia that one feels when they revisit the past and remember good times and feel a sense of loss.
I am girding myself for said emotions.
Here’s to a new year. A year of exciting discovery and potential nostalgia and sadness.
The student is ready.
Filed under: Christmas Gifts, Family, Friendship, Sisterhood, Unconditional Love | Tags: Bonus, brave (4), Broken, Compassion, Femininity, history (2), Inspired, Nurtured, strength (5) | December 24th, 2014
Anyone familiar with the Shaheen family knows that it is a male dominated clan. My dad is one of five brothers. My parents had five sons. I have three sons. Four of my brothers all have at least one or two sons. One of my brothers married a man! Gee whiz!
Females are a rarity. And we stick together.
We are not the perfect family by any stretch of the imagination. We’ve been through some tough things and have come out on the other side, strong in the broken places. Each of us has a story to tell about the Shaheen men we have lived with, supported, nurtured and loved unconditionally.
I have learned so much about life from these brave women. They have inspired me. They have taken me shopping. They have given me wardrobe and home decorating advice. They have buoyed me up in times of despair and sadness. They are the bonuses of my life.
Katie, Mojgan, Susan, Catherine, Christine, Adrienne, Adele, Aimee and Elizabeth. We are missing Charise, Annamarie, Katy, Sarah, Jessica and my new daughter-in-law Brianna. God willing, next year we will all be together for this picture. It will be the best Christmas ever.
I am very grateful for these women. They bring so many unique gifts and charisms to the Shaheen family. My life would be very one dimensional without their strength and femininity, compassion and nurturing. Not to mention our collective cooking skills!
We no doubt have challenges ahead as every family does. But we will navigate both the good times and the difficult times as they come. We are sisters and friends. We are united by our shared history.
We are strong together.
Filed under: Midlife Mischief | Tags: data, deprived, Ebola, lonely, rambling, sleepless, stress, tired, trifecta, Worry (2) | October 11th, 2014
You name it, I’ve tried it.
I cannot seem to get a good night’s sleep.
This isn’t anything new. I’ve always been somewhat of an insomniac. It runs in my family.
At work yesterday one of my colleagues suggested a sleep mask. That in combination with the “Best Rest Formula” from my chiropractor got me to sleep at 8:30 pm but after the stroke of 11:30 pm, I was up practically every hour.
I’m somewhat tired (no pun intended) of everyone’s advice. Of course I have solicited it so I shouldn’t complain.
Yesterday at The Dailey Method in Morgan Hill, where I’ve developed quite a few forty and fifty something friends in the same sleep deprived state, I got some interesting data. (The names have been changed to protect the innocent.) Janet takes Trazodone but only on the weekends because it makes her too groggy during the work week. Annie takes Ambien but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays so as not to get addicted. I tried Ambien for a few weeks. My niece was living with me at the time and one evening I was making dinner and found her peanut butter in the freezer.
“Sarah, why is your peanut butter in the freezer?” One look of disbelief from her and it all came back to me. It had been my midnight snack.
“Are you worried about something?” People ask. Actually, I am currently in a good space. But who doesn’t worry about something?
Am I going to get Ebola? What is going to happen when we get rid of all our books and paper and “the enemy” absconds with our internet? Why are girls at school melting down and having panic attacks in my office? Am I going to get to work on time with all this traffic? Will the Giants win the World Series? :)
Yesterday, at a stop light, I looked to my right and to my left at the people in the cars waiting for the light to change. They all looked pretty stressed out. The man to my right was running his hand through his hair like he’d had the day from hell. The lady on my left had a car full of unruly kids.
WE ARE ALL STRESSED OUT! But most people sleep anyway. Not me.
I save things for myself to do in the middle of the night. Empty the dishwasher. Fold clothes. Look through junk mail.
Sometimes I go into my closet and choose three things for the “to go” bag. I finally got rid of this really slinky red dress that I was sure I was going to wear again someday. No worries. I’ll see it again on a Morgan Hill Goodwill shopper.
Sometimes I go on Facebook but other insomniacs try to message me. I’m awake, I say, but not in the mood for a conversation. Some guy I dated in college likes to chat after his full day as an airplane pilot for Southwest Airlines. He’s lonely somewhere in a hotel. There are lonely insomniacs everywhere. The middle of the night is a lonely place.
Today I am off to Home Depot to investigate black-out shades for my bedroom. I’ve downloaded a white noise app for my phone and have purchased a bottle of lavender lotion for aromatherapy benefits. I’ll try this trifecta tonight and let you know how it goes.
If you have any ideas, feel free to amuse me.
And if this blog seems a bit rambling and random, forgive me.
I am sleepless in Morgan Hill.
Filed under: Graced Moments, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Unconditional Love | Tags: commitment (2), community (2), contagious, courage (2), grace (6), integrity (2), journey (3), love (10), milestones, mothering, optimistic, satisfaction, sing (2), spellbound, strength (5), tenderness | August 6th, 2014
He leaves her little notes around the house, in the silverware drawer, on the bathroom mirror, in her favorite coffee cup. She makes sure he eats healthily, supports his dreams and believes in his goodness and integrity.
He is strength and tenderness. She is courage and grace.
They complement each other.
And three short weeks ago, Peter and Brianna committed to a life together as husband and wife.
There’s something very contagious about young love.
It draws us in and mesmerizes. It holds us spellbound. It makes one want to try a new recipe for dinner or say hello to a stranger on the street, be a better person, sing in the shower, color a picture with crayons.
Peter and Brianna make me optimistic about the future of our world. We pass the baton to our children and find such satisfaction in seeing how easily they grab hold of it and run with confidence, taking with them all our hopes and dreams invested.
I wonder if we really know our children fully until we observe them navigating the major milestones of life- making their way in a career, establishing a community of friends and colleagues, taking on the challenges of marriage and all the joys and responsibilities that go along with it.
After years of mothering and guiding and teachable moments, the tables have turned. I am a witness to my children’s journeys.
I am being taught
And baby, THIS love never felt so good!
Filed under: Graced Moments, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Unconditional Love | Tags: advice (2), By heart, dancing, Incubate, listening (2), love (10), one sun, singing, tender | July 5th, 2014
It’s all the rage. Right up there with pre-marriage counseling. And I invented it.
Peter is my first son down the aisle. The first one to get the pep talk and the unsolicited advice about marriage and women and everything he’s ever wanted to know about life but didn’t know he didn’t know!
On my way up highway 101 to our meeting place- Stack’s in Burlingame, I contemplate my speech. I have resisted the urge to bring index cards with notes. Isn’t this wisdom encapsulated within? Aren’t these things I know by heart?
Oh, now I know what that means… To know something by heart.
I’m listening to NPR and they are coincidentally interviewing Raffi, singer songwriter of songs for children. Songs that teach them about world peace and brushing your teeth and loving your family. Songs that Peter and I sang “by heart” while putting puzzles together on the living room hard wood floor, anxiously waiting for his brothers to come home from school. Synchronicity. My world is lining up to herald the beginning of a new way of life. Passing the baton so to speak. A married son. A new daughter. A new branch of the family systems map.
All those good Raffi lyrics imbedded in the heart and soul of my youngest son. Incubating. Shake your sillys out! Rise and shine and show your love all around the world! One light one sun, one sun lighting everyone.
I get to the restaurant before Peter and pick the best table near a window. I love light when I eat out. I see him enter and I wave (like a mother..). He looks taller. Can you continue to grow in your late 20′s? He walks with such confidence and grace. Comfortable in his own skin. So very unaware of the stir he creates when he enters a room.
Clear sea green eyes. Beautiful olive complexion. A heart of gold.
I only have two hours on the parking meter. Will that be enough time, I wonder? I have so much to say! I need two breakfasts! Or maybe another week! Time has run out.
My mother told me that before each of my brothers got married she bought them pajamas and told them not to discuss money on their honeymoon. My mother told me before I got married- she was ahead of her time- to never depend on a man to support you! That seemed harsh at the time and I told her so. And we argued. But I understand her words now and have not forgotten them.
I took them to heart.
It occurs to me that Peter is going to remember everything I say this morning.
One hour and 45 minutes later- eggs, cheese, bagels, coffee, orange juice, fruit, potatoes, and a connection that is fierce between a mother and her son, we conclude. There’s more to say, no doubt. The love is palpable. We take a selfie, hug, and go on about our days.
I am exhausted and come home to take a nap.
When I wake up I realize that it isn’t just about what I said this morning. It’s about the years and years of love and modeling good behavior and love and tender instruction and love and singing and dancing together and love and listening late at night and love and respecting others and playing fair and world peace and making your bed and shaking your sillys out.
We covered all that in the last 28 years. Peter’s good to go.
All things considered, I’m hoping my other two sons wait for a bit to get married until I’ve recuperated from this mandatory event. I pray that Rob and Patrick know all this by heart and that our breakfast will be just a recapitulation of years and years of Raffi songs, loving your family, doing your chores and one sun shining on everyone.
One love, one heart
One heart warming everyone
One hope, one joy
One love filling everyone.
Filed under: Being a Daughter, The Power of Positive Thinking, Unconditional Love | Tags: Daughter (2), death, forgiveness, honor, hospitality, love (10), mistakes, networking, optimism, passion (3), potential, princess, smile, song, visualize | June 13th, 2014
1. How to swim in the ocean.
2. To always take my vitamins.
3. How to use a thesaurus to improve my writing.
4. Army songs… (I left, I left, I left my wife and a 15 kids, over there, over there…)
5. That a freshly showered man in a nice suit is something to behold.
6. To smile often because I’m pretty when I smile.
7. That daily exercise is an important part of keeping fit.
8. To honor my mother.
9. That it’s perfectly acceptable to break out in song wherever and whenever.
10. The gift of hospitality.
11. To always be optimistic, dash negativity, visualize the life you desire.
12. The fine art of networking.
13. How to underline meaningful sentences in my personal books and read them again and again.
14. That everyone I meet is a potential friend.
15. That I am actually a princess. (Didn’t you know?)
16. That fresh figs are God’s most perfect food.
17. How to write a love letter.
18. That people make mistakes and need forgiveness.
19. That real men cry.
21. How to let a man lead on the dance floor.
22. That ” it is what it is” and “that’s a crock of bull”!
23. To say I love you always and often.
24. To never give up.
I had a different relationship with my dad than my five older brothers had. I’m sure their blog about Edmund Francis Shaheen Sr. would be quite different.
Therefore the twenty fifth thing I learned from my dad..
25. There is no denying the special bond between a father and his little girl.
Love you and miss you, Dad.
Filed under: Graced Moments, Motherhood, Raising Sons, Unconditional Love | Tags: camping, contemplate, divorce (2), faithful, First born (2), GI Joes, Grampa Healy, history (2), keeper, rooted, things, touchstone, transition (3), wings | May 23rd, 2014
My oldest son texted me during dinner last night. “Hi Mom! I’m going to swing by your house tonight after my final if that’s ok. Need to grab some of my camping stuff.”
I am quietly thrilled. I am the keeper of things.
He arrives as I finish up the dishes and wipe the kitchen counters. I hug my first born son- life changer, trail blazer, heart breaker, 33 years of connection, love, and journey together infused in an embrace.
We walk the time line through the laundry room and into the garage where the archives of family life line the walls- boxes labeled “Patrick’s GI Joes”, “brio train”, “Christmas decorations”, “dress up clothes”, the wooden toy horse made by Grampa Healy, a shelf crammed with size 13 crocs. We rest our eyes on the row of sleeping bags and tents above the work bench and the requisite green plastic tubs that hold the treasures of camping trips of yore- plastic table cloths autographed and decorated by camping buddies, liquid dish soap, camping stoves, a variety of pots and pans, lanterns, plastic forks and spoons, make shift coffee makers, propane tanks, camping games.
I am the keeper of things. I have worked over- time trying to keep life consistent and predictable for my three sons through two major relocations, new schools, new friends, various homes, their parents’ divorce, the transition to college and eventually to adulthood and the fast and furious challenge of living in the Silicon Valley. I have housed their baseball cards and dress suits, amplifiers and cast off instruments, baseball mits, autographed baseballs, baseball hats, high school yearbooks, art projects, stuffed animals, and boomerang plants. Cartons of camping gear tucked high on garage shelves. More sleeping bags and tents than one family could possibly utilize. The family pictures. I have intentionally rooted myself so that they could be free to explore and take risks and chances in the world yet still find their way back to a touchstone of familiarity and an infusion of security.
I look at my handsome 33 year old son in the soft light of a bare energy efficient bulb. He’s quite a man. A full time job at Facebook, a new car, a flat in Palo Alto. He phones his 31 year old brother, Patrick, to make sure he’s not forgetting anything they might need. They discuss Nate and Chris and Todd and Sam and the things that they agreed to bring for the camping trip. Good friends from high school. Solid friends. Rooted friendships.
We hug goodbye and share an “I love you”. He drives away in his sleek dependable Subaru- the temperamental yet utterly faithful Volvo thankfully a remnant of the past.
I linger in the garage contemplating my youngest son Peter’s pending wedding this summer and Patrick’s journey through grad school in Denver to his current professional life in Santa Clara.
They are rooted. They have wings.
How much longer will I need to be the keeper of things?
Filed under: Being a Daughter, Motherhood, Unconditional Love | Tags: Attitude (2), complicated, embrace (3), food is love, kitchen, Lebanese, lifetime, peanut butter, pray (2), relationship (2), siblings | May 9th, 2014
1. To save all my receipts from everything
2. To stand up straight and hold my shoulders back
3. How to pluck my eyebrows so that they don’t run together above my nose
4. How to roll a pot of stuffed grape leaves in less than an hour
5. How to iron parts of a shirt in the correct order
6. How to cook without a recipe
7. To love my siblings but never go into business with them
8. To sing Broadway show tunes while cooking
9. That peanut butter on anything is a perfectly acceptable meal
10. To not say bad words (unless you say them in Arabic)
11. How to entertain friends, strangers and angels and make them all feel welcome in your home
12. How to cook for 20 people when only 6 are coming for dinner
13. How to embrace the feminine in the midst of a male dominated household
14. That food is love
15. That I am as Catholic as I am Lebanese
16. To wake up in the morning with a good attitude and smell the coffee no matter how bad the previous day was
17. How to boss someone around the kitchen (♥ Breezy)
18. To pray the rosary when I cannot sleep
19. How to raise sons to be strong, compassionate and loving men
20. How to stretch one pound of meat to feed eight people
21. To sleep in the bed I made for myself (You’ve made your bed, now lie in it!)
22. How to wrap my babies tightly, hold them closely, and sing to them sweetly
23. How to trust God’s plan even in the most desperate situations
24. That love is stronger than death
My relationship with my mother was complicated until I had my first born son. After which I realized the most important thing she taught me. A lesson to last a lifetime.
25. How to be a mother