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My favorite fall sweater had several loose threads when I packed it away last spring, but I wasn’t ready to consider throwing it away. A few days ago, it wasn’t even out of the storage box when I started twirling and tucking the loose threads, thinking I could magically reattach them.

Discarding things has never been easy for me. It’s not that I’m a hoarder. I’m a fixer. A serial fixer. There… I said it out loud. Moving on from people hasn’t been easy either.

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At our age, when it seems like we have worked hard and should now get to relax and enjoy the fruit of our labors, many of us find ourselves caring for aging parents, an ill sibling or life-partner, or even a grown child who is sick and unable to care for themselves. We hadn’t counted on this twist of fate.

How do we give the very best of ourselves to them, and still take care of ourselves? How can we grow through the process, by surrendering to it, creating an opening through our own pain and suffering to help the rest of the world?

It might sound like a tall order, but it is possible.

The Crisis: My son has MS. While he has always bounced back before, he seems to have “run out of bounce.” The disease has become quite demanding.

My Actions: Accompany him to doctor appointments. Handle paperwork. Ask direct questions. Be sure to get him answers, timelines, and clear next steps.

My Goal: Help my son (as best as I can) organize a new way of life and build a support network, while accepting that he is an adult with his own ideas. Stay positive and proactive. Encourage him to practice loving kindness toward himself.

My Self-Care: Besides being sure I’m getting enough rest, and eating right (this isn’t the time to stuff all of my feelings with junk food and booze) I spend as many moments as possible meditating.

Tonglen is a practice I learned from Linda, my therapist, and by reading the works of Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun. Tonglen opens the heart and cultivates love and compassion.

“By embracing, rather than rejecting, the unwanted and painful aspects of experience, we can overcome fear and develop greater empathy for others.” I really, really want that.

On any given day, my prayer might sound like this: “For all the women in the world suffering from fear of the unknown about a loved one’s health, wellness, and future, I inhale your fears… and exhale ease, peace, and faith.”

I am one of those women now.

Through the practice of Tonglen, I feel connected, centered again, and it gives me a sense of inner strength. I heartily recommend my two favorite books by Pema Chodron: Tonglen, the Path of Transformation and When Things Fall Apart. Also, Anne LaMott’s beautiful book, Help. Thanks. Wow.

XO Donna

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Recently I heard a young woman say dating is obsolete. “Really?” I asked, to which she replied, “No one has time for that silliness anymore.”

Fourteen years ago I left an abusive relationship with the clothes on my back and no shoes on my feet. I was done with love and my dreams of that knight in shining armor riding in to save me was history. I was too old for fairytales. Continue Reading

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This was my little man, Sam. If you look closely, you can see fur peeking out from between his toes, a sure sign he was a house puppy, which was fine with me. Being an indoor dog made it easier for me to give him hugs, rub his soft silky ears and tell him how much he was loved and adored.

Sam captured our hearts the second we saw him. James said Sam was the only dog he knew who’d read and memorized the “Puppy Handbook.”

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There aren’t many things cuter than a soft, snuggly puppy who nuzzles your neck and whispers, “Adopt me! Adopt me!” Adopting one puppy is a good thing, but two? When I asked my girlfriends why they didn’t stop me, they said, “You’ve always had dogs, so we figured you knew what you were getting into.” Yes, but never puppies! When I was younger and the same friends started having babies, I didn’t understand the degree to which their lives had changed, overnight, but now… That’s me!

I also have postpartum depression, and I didn’t even give birth!

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My granddaughter is 17-years-old and a new, high school senior. Just a few years ago she was teased and came home from school sobbing. I couldn’t help but wonder where fifth-grade little girls learned to be so mean, and if those same girls are as cruel, now that they’re nearly adults?

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I STILL haven't unpacked my photos, so I don't have one of my grandmother. This is me, a few years older than when I 'axed Mamie's floor!'
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One of my earliest memories is sitting in a pool of Wesson Oil, smacking my hands on the linoleum floor my grandmother had just waxed. When my grandmother, I called her Mamie, told me this story, she said she walked into her kitchen to see me smearing Wesson Oil around with my hands and saying, “Axing Mamie’s floors! I’m axing Mamie’s floors!”

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother, wishing I could tell her how much I admired her strength and thank her for being my role model.

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We’d only been in our motor home ten days when I packed a bag and hopped on Southwest Airlines for my second, annual, sister’s reunion. Continue Reading

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@Photos by Brenda Ray Coffee
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This morning a television at the gym flashed a picture of Michael Irvin, former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, wearing his number 88 uniform. It reminded me of when I was a young photographer for the San Antonio Light and covered the Cowboy home games from the sidelines. I had a mad, mad, insanely mad, schoolgirl crush on another number 88, Cowboy wide receiver, Drew Pearson.

Is it considered cheating to have a serious crush on someone other than your husband?

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