Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I admit it - I'M GOING CRAZY!  I'm exhausted, depressed and overwhelmed!  I NEED A BREAK.  But you know what is really crazy?  Its my own fault (well, not all my fault but this one part of it is)!  For years, upon years, upon years I have taken on the role of "housewife" and not asked much of the kids or my husband.  Yes, they will do just about anything I ask them to do, but I didn't ask them for what I needed.  My stupid self thought that they would just get it and do it.  Crazy, I know.  I expected that of 3 MEN (and a daughter)?  I really could go on and go on- don't worry I won't - but the point of this post is - here it is - are you ready - ASK FOR HELP!  Duh, Traci!  So, once I realized that these crazies can't read my mind and they aren't going to do it on their own I decided it was time for me to delegate.  Tonight, for the first time, I sternly, yet nicely, said this...

"Is everyone done eating now?" 

They kinda looked at me wondering "why are you even asking?"  They looked at each other, swallowed hard and looked at me with a bit of freight.  I thought they were going to jump ship and swim away from me as fast as they could but before they could walk the plank I sternly, yet not quite as nicely, said...

"Liam and Kayleigh you are to clear off the table.  Tyler you are to put the left over food in the fridge and then go fold the laundry that has been going off during dinner.  Nathan you help the kids clear off the table and then give the kids a bath. I'll do the dishes and clean the counters and stove." 

And do you know what happened next?  Yep, these suckers crazies turned into lovelies and did exactly what I asked of them.  The kitchen is cleaned, the laundry is folded and now (OMG, at 6:45PM) I am sitting on my ars and playing on the computer while watching TV!  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?  Mwahahaha!

I know this is just a small step, and likely it won't become the norm, but I wish it would be.  I wish that they delegated themselves and I didn't have to ask for it but today I'm just so happy to have this one small victory! My therapist says "you have to take your power back" but I think The Buddha said it better...

"You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection." ~ Buddha

Thursday, March 24, 2011

14 Years and counting!

Nothing happens without a cause. 

The union of this man and woman has not come about accidentally but is the foreordained result of many past lives. 

The tie can therefore not be broken or dissolved. 

 In the future,
Happy occasions will come as surely as the morning. 
Difficult times will come as surely as the night. 

To say the words love and compassion is easy. 
But to accept that love and compassion are built upon patience and perseverance is not easy. 

Your marraige will be firm and lasting if you remember this. 

On March 29th  Nathan and I will be celebrating 14 years of marraige.  It hasn't been easy going for the two of us.  We've had good times and bad times.  We've gone through sickness and health.  We've grown apart and back together again.  But through all this one thing has remained true...our love for each other.  I love you babe, lets make it another 14 (and then some)! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I said they could so be kept...3 TIMES!!!

The 5 Precepts sound rather easy, right?  They are...

I vow to abstain from taking life
I vow to abstain from taking things not given
I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust
I vow to abstain from lying
I vow to abstain from intoxicants taken to induce heedlessness.

"Can these vows be kept?"  Senior Dharma teacher asked a Zen student.  "They can so be kept" she said 3 TIMES! 

What the hell was I thinking?  They can so be kept, but not by me! 

I guess if you take them simply they are pretty easy.  I don't kill, I don't shoplift, I don't cheat on my husband, I don't drink, and I...well..I try not to lie.  But if you look at the heart of them they are much more complicated and harder to keep. 

I vow to abstain from taking first I thought this meant that I had to become a vegetarian.  I don't really care for much  meat anyway but my family does so cutting it out of my house is impossible.  But I think not taking life is more than just killing animals.  How often to I take the life from myself.  I kill my spirit when I get self concious.  I kill the spirit of others when I am mean to them or judge them.  So, do I take life?

I vow to abstain from taking things not first I thought this one meant not going to a grocery store and putting sunglasses in my purse and walking out without paying for them.  But I realize now that it is much more than shoplifting.  I take trust, afterall its not given, from someone who thought they could trust me.  I take the spirit out of my children if I choose to treat them as my mother did.  I take the energy of the earth is I am wastful.  So, do I take things that are not given? 

I vow to abstain from misconduct done in lust...I must admit that I either 1)don't understand this one or 2) I've got this one down.  I am in a loving marraige with mutual respect.  I do not have misconduct done in lust because lust does not exsist for me right now.  But, do I really understand this precept? 

I vow to abstain from lying...Crap, this one is a hard one.  I took my precepts and about 15 minutes after the ceremony I lied to someone I love.  It wasn't a painful, hurtful lie.  It was a lie that would in turn stop someone from feeling bad, that they had done something that hurt me.  I also lie to myself all the time.  I lie when I say "Im going to be okay".  I lie when I say "Im not strong".  I lie when I say "Im doing good, how are you".  So, do I abstain from lying?

I vow to abstain from intoxicants taken to induce heedlessness...This one, again, I thought was a given too.  I don't drink and I don't take drugs BUT I do "drug" myself all the time.  Food is my biggest addiction.  I'm not sure it brings me to heedlessness but I do eat without thinking, without be mindful at all.  So, do I really abstain from taking intoxicants?

The answer to those questions are a great big NO!  I don't keep any of these precepts all the time.  I TRY though.  And now, a month after taking them, I realize that I don't need to keep them.  I do, though, need to TRY!  Our guiding teacher, Linc Rhodes, JDPSN, said that all the precepts really are is a guide to stopping suffering.  If you turn to the precepts they will guide you to help stop suffering. 

So now I vow to this.  I will try to abstain from breaking the precepts.  I will TRY to keep them as best I can.  I will try and I will fail but I will TRY!  Can I try to keep these precepts?  YES, I can - 3 times!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The little girl next to him

When we buried Landon there was an open spot next to him.  I choose his spot because of that.  I knew that if I had another baby, and I really wanted to have another baby, that the baby would probably die and I would need a place to bury them too.  You might think that this is irrational thinking but let me assure you that anyone who has lost a baby has had the same thought (or something kinda like it).  

On a clear day, at the end of march 2007, I went to the cemetery to bring flowers to Landon.  Much to my surprise instead of an empty spot next to him there was a bouquet of flowers and a cemetery issued stone.  It said Reese Loren Engel.  My heart broke instantly.  A new grave meant another baby had died, another set of parents are heartbroken and another mother is feeling the pain that I had felt so deeply.  I sat in front of her and Landon's stones and sobbed.  This little girl was gone and so was the spot for my next baby.

At the same time  I was helping lead the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Group.  On night, in April 2007, a beautiful couple walked into the group.  They were heartbroken over the loss of their little girl.  She had been born with Trisomy 13 and passed away a little over an hour after she was born.  Her and her husband talked about her with such great love and grief.  Then they shared pictures of their most beautiful little girl.  We wrapped up the meeting , said our goodbyes and our "I'm so sorry's" and then said we would meet again in a couple weeks.  At the next meeting this couple showed up again, still grief stricken and wanting the support that this wonderful group offers.  Somehow or another we got on the subject of graves.  This kind of thing happens all the time in this group.  The couple started talking about the ducks that were living in a pond near their daughters grave.  When I asked where they were speaking of my shock, again, took over.  Sure enough, they had buried their daughter in the same cemetery I had buried my son.  Then, as the conversations continued, I realized that not only were they in the same cemetery, but they were in the same section, the same row - right next to each other.  It was her, their little girl that had been buried in the spot next to Landon. 

Over the next few months Reese's parents attended the group.  We were able to get to know each other, grieve together and share the lives and stories of our babies who were placed right next to each other.  I left the group in October of 2007 because I had decided to "try to have one more".  (the reasons why this and that don't go well together are just too hard to explain.)  So I said goodbye to my grieving friends and before I knew it I was pregnant with my 4th baby. 

The fears of loosing this baby were not as raw as they were when I had my daughter but they were definitely there.  I always thought about that spot and at one point I was really mad at myself for not buying it before Reese was born.  Where in the world would I bury THIS baby when it dies?  The fear was overwhelming at times but every time I went to visit Landon's spot I would see her beautiful stone that was always decorated with lively flowers and an angel.  The grief about this spot was somehow comforted with these things - but I was still worried about not having a place for this baby. 

In 2008 this baby (Liam) was born and, much to my surprise, he did not die.  I also knew that Liam would be our last baby.  I just couldn't do it again.  Pregnancy after a loss is so much more complicated and difficult than a regular pregnancy.  So I closed the book on my fear of loosing a baby.  It felt really, really good.  By this time I was visiting the cemetery a lot less so I didn't even think about that spot until I went out for Landon's Birthday.  As I sat in front of his stone I looked over to my right.  There, for the first time, was a spot for a little girl.  It seemed so perfect, so meant to be.  That wasn't the spot for my future baby - It was Reese's spot!  I was able to let go of a lot grief that day.  Now I visit and I see this beautiful place where my baby boy gets to rest in peace next to a wonderfully perfect little girl. 

Reese Engel would have turned 4 next week.  On March 14th, 2007 Reese blessed her parents and two sisters for a little over an hour and changed their lives forever. She was a beautiful little girl with a button nose and cute little hands. I will always cherish the time I got to get to know her through pictures,  her parents stories and their love for her. May she rest in peace and love.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The first lost tooth!

My little girl lost her first tooth this week.  I know, its just a tooth, but there is something about this event that makes me wonder where my baby girl has gone?  How did she grow up this fast?  It seems like just yesterday I delivered this beautiful little girl. 

She was such a angelic little baby...

...full of feist

...yet so sweet!

She melted any heart she ever touched with her sweet little smile...

...and wrapped anyone who looked into her eyes right around their little finger...

She knew just how to look at someone to get them to give her whatever she desired...

And before we knew it she grew into this wonderful, beautiful, angelic, feisty and wonderful 1 tooth less little 5 year old.  I may be biased but I do believe that she is one of the most beautiful little girls around.

Kayleigh The Rose!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Love is...

Websters dictionary defines love as - a strong positive emotion of regard and affection.  I'm sorry, Mr. Webster, but I think your definition is way too simple.  Love is a lot more than that...

Love is - a husband saying "OKAY" when his wife is exhausted and tells him "your in charge of the kids, I'm going to bed" (at 6:30PM).

Love is - a friend bringing over dinner after they call you and your in the middle of a good cry.

Love is - a little one saying "mommy, I like you"

Love is - a wooden block with the words "I love mom" carved in it and given to you by an child to cheer you up.

Love is - someone moving over one cushion to sit by you during zen practice because they see you struggling.

Love is - a simple text message from your husband that just says "I love you".

Love is - someone holding you as you sob in their arms.

Love is - a group of people driving an hour to be with you on a special day

Love is - a smile, a phone call, a card in the mail and a "good morning Traci" 

I really could go on and on but I won't, I'll just leave you with this...I have spent a lot of my life not feeling love but that is way in the past.  I feel love, now, all the time.  Be it my husband, my kids, my "mom", my friends or my acquaintances - I feel it all over.  I am very lucky.  Thank you to all of you who love me!