Gerardo Arce: January 25, 1951 – December 11, 2011
I miss you.
All moms have it. The voice that they use when they talk to their kids.
It may not be an all-the-time voice. I for one never had the goo-goo, ga-ga voice when talking to the Roos as babies. In fact, I try to use a normal voice most of the time.
But that “mom voice” still sneaks out of my mouth on a regular basis.
Must be engrained.
And sometimes I get a little mixed up though with my voices. Like when I’m trying to talk to children and adults at the same time.
Like the other day.
As I walked through the hallway at church, I passed by one of the dads I knew from our church group. I had Little Roo in my hands and it was one of those slow-down-to-say-hi-but-not-stop-since-i-was-in-a-hurry interactions. He didn’t ask me a trick question. He didn’t ask me to juggle five guinea pigs while reading the Bible backwards.
He simply said: “Hi! How’re you doing?”
I did some weird two-part answer.
“Hi!” I replied back with a smile. [normal]
Then I turned to Little Roo and answered his question in my mom voice to my son: “I’m doing good.” [not normal]
I think I even bounced Little Roo up and down as I said it. [definitely NOT normal.]
I wasn’t even LOOKING at the guy to answer his question.
My brain got all criss-crossed. Worst thing is, I’m sure it won’t be the last time.
Last Friday the 13th was the one month anniversary of my father’s funeral.
I was doing some work for a client and was sifting through their “hidden posts” on their Facebook fan page. The hidden posts area is the place where Facebook sends wall messages they think are spam. I got to thinking, hmmm, I should probably check mine too. It’s been a while!
Lo and behold, I found a random act of kindness for someone I’ve never met. It was a poem from Martin at AnitaPoems.com. AnitaPoems was inspired by his wife (Anita, of course!) and he write poems for all sorts of occassions.
The thing about this poem was that it was posted nearly two weeks before I even saw it.
It was about my Dad.
I thought I’d share it with you.
My head hangs low,
I’m somber and sad.
For the loss of my dear,
and most loving dad.
My thoughts and feelings,
are so hard to explain.
Multiplied by infinity,
my sorrow and pain.
My father worked hard,
was the most wonderful guy.
I cannot come to terms,
to let go and say bye.
Since I was young,
he brought joy to each day.
Loved us unconditionally,
and would openly display.
I’ll miss him so much,
my tears say it all.
As a wake in the night,
his name I shall call.
As my precious father,
and my guiding light.
Having him in my life,
was a fortunate delight.
He lived life,
with honor and grace.
But now he must rest,
in a much better place.
Now, I’m not the first person he’s done this for. I remember tweeting a post Danielle from Extraordinary Mommy wrote a while ago about Martin writing her a poem. Strange enough, at the time, he had written one for me too.
I just didn’t know it yet.
I believe I was meant to find this poem on the one-month anniversary of my dad’s funeral. It warmed my heart up just a bit on a cold, cold day.
Thank you so much, Martin. Your words really mean so much to me.
It’s been nearly a month since my father passed away. And I’m still blown away by all the people who came together when I needed them.
It’s quite striking, really.
I mean, you know you have friends. You know you have family. You know you have blog readers. But when something tragic happens, you truly, truly see.
This post is about being thankful. Being grateful. Being blessed to truly see. See that I have such amazing people in my life, both those I know well and those I hardly know.
I’m thankful for…
Daddy Roo has always been the involved type. We take turns doing dishes at night, putting the kids to bed and so on. While I may give the kids more baths, he cooks more. If I clean more, he irons all his own clothes. We’re a great team running this house.
When I first had to fly to Costa Rica, Daddy Roo didn’t even hesitate to say I should go. He didn’t worry about how he’d meet his crucial deadlines or about missing time off of work. My dad was sick and I needed to be there. End of story.
And six days after I got back, my father passed away. While of course I wanted to go, I worried about the money and had more mommy guilt leaving the kids again (no one but me had a current passport at the time so I had to go solo). When I started in with my self-doubting, worrying self, Daddy Roo looked at me and said, “No. It’s not even a question. You are going.”
And so I went.
Thanks Daddy Roo for being an incredible husband who truly knows the meaning of family.
Shuffle here. Shuffle there. Work in between. That’s what you do when you’ve got two kids in preschool. Since I was in Costa Rica a total of 13 days in December, Daddy Roo had the fine task of getting the kids to school, heading to work for a couple of hours, then picking them back up, getting Little Roo down for a nap and trying to sneak in a bit more work.
Luckily, I’ve got awesome friends who pitched in. Friends who picked the kids up some days so Daddy Roo could work longer. Friends who stayed into the afternoon some days too.
One of my friends even drove in from Charlotte (2.5 hours away) to stay for a couple of days. It’s not that my hubby couldn’t have handled it– he’s awesome with the kids– but I know how I’d feel if HE were away for 8 days straight. I’d gladly accept help.
My friends brought meals too. Even our group at church brought us numerous meals and even some holiday treats, which was great since we didn’t have time to do that this year.
And the cards. My goodness, the cards. I was touched by every single card friends sent me, offering condolences for my loss.
Thanks friends for your support and comfort.
I live in a pretty standard-looking, middle-class suburban neighborhood. But one of girls in my neck of the woods also happens to read my blog (hiya!). And when she saw I was leaving the country for an emergency, she reached out to see if my hubby and kids needed some meals while I was gone.
Having neighbors drop off a couple of meals was immensely helpful. You parents know what it’s like to try and cook with two little kids running around. Daddy Roo was very grateful for the help and it made me feel good too knowing things were just a tad easier on him. The fewer pots and pans to clean after the kids go to sleep, the better!
Thanks neighbors for those warm meals and condolences.
I’ve got so much family, it’s not even funny. Sisters. A half-brother (who’s only 11). Mom. Step-mom. In-laws. Aunts. Uncles. Nieces. Nephews. And cousins. Oh my, I have lots and lots of cousins.
I have to brag for a second. Few people in this world can get on a plane to another country and not know who was picking them up at the airport or where they were staying. That was me when I went to Costa Rica the first time in December, when Dad was in the hospital. I didn’t know… all I knew was that one of my relatives would be there and that they’d take care of me.
My Costa Rican family is like that. They’ll selflessly feed you, house you, care for you and comfort you. I could never express my gratitude to them.
Of course, I have lots of family here that supported each other during this time. My mom and sisters coordinated the memorial service in the U.S. for my dad. My mother-in-law and aunt helped handle the refreshments for after that service. Lots of hugs, tears, comfort and so on. It was both the physical and emotion support that makes my heart full.
Thanks family for being such an amazing, close family that can come together in a time like this.
You. Yeah you. Even if you fit into one of these other categories. I am truly humbled by this online community. I always wondered if I would tweet or leave Facebook comments about what was happening. While I wasn’t online much during those few weeks, support from you all poured in.
Tweets, Facebook messages, emails and so on. For someone who’s been in this space for a while, even I was surprised by the outpouring of good thoughts and prayers for me and my dad. When I was visiting him in the hospital, I told him how many people I had never even met were praying – truly praying – for him.
Thanks to you all for your support and concern, even if we may have never met in person.
“And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again”
– The Cave, Mumford & Sons
Few song lyrics have ever spoken to me like those words. But I’ve listened to this song over and over lately as I’ve thought about my life as a whole… and my life this past month. The death of my father punched me in the gut. In fact, it punches me in the gut everyday. I can’t really conceive that he’s no longer on this earth. And each time I try to wrap my head around it, my heart starts pounding and I feel like I’m gonna hyperventilate.
But I still have children to care for, a husband to spend time with and clients to help so I trudge on and try to sort through my emotions in the little moments I’ve had to myself. Don’t worry about me, though. I’m working through it.
But because of all that had happened since Thanksgiving, I pretty much shut down my blogs for a month. And it gave me time to reflect on who I am and how I’m spending my life.
I’ve always been a person of moderation. Of reason. Of work-life balance. But 2011 caught me in a swirl. Aside from this past month, it was a swirl of unemployment, trying to build a consulting career, blogging, caring for two little dudes and on and on it goes. I’m often met with “I don’t know how you do it all.”
Honestly, I didn’t know how I did it all. I just did.
I stayed up late to finish what “needed” to be done. I turned down blog opportunities, thinking I was being wise with my time. I planned our family’s meals 1-2 weeks ahead. I only blogged a few days a week on each blog. I thought I was living life in moderation. In balance.
But truthfully, all I ever did was blog or do consulting work.
Scrapbooking? No. Reading a book? Rarely. Watching TV? Rarely. Working out? Only when I taught aerobics (um, that is to say NOT MUCH).
So while I wasn’t ticked off about my Klout score or blogging seven days a week, I WAS spending too much time online doing things that weren’t productive or leading me towards my goals. It was taking away from other enjoyable parts of my life, even though I thought I was doing things in moderation.
In 2012, I’ll try to find balance. Real-life balance. The balance that means, yes, sometimes I will stay up late to finish a post or polish a client’s proposal. But that also means I’ll be sure to finish some of my much-neglected scrapbooks and other things I’ve been wanting to do.
Working from home and caring for two kiddos is no walk in the park. But I know I can make changes that will have an impact.
Each year I pick a single word to focus on. To me, it’s easier than remembering a list of resolutions. This word is like my mantra. The decisions I make and the things I do throughout the year should revolve around this one word.
My word for 2012 was so obvious to me:
Ahhhh, just saying the word out loud gives me a boost in motivation.
Because it doesn’t mean I necessarily have to give up things I love. It means I just need to be smarter about how I do things. So, I’m focusing on simplifying my life in three areas:
I adore blogging. And I don’t wanna stop. But I do want to be smarter about it. So, I’m not committing myself to any certain number of posts a week on Adventuroo. If you haven’t heard, I’m retiring the Capture the Everyday meme too (that was a hard decision but I know it’s for the best).
On Momcomm, I plan to leave Thursdays for guest posts and Mashups and stick with Monday and Wednesday for my content and blog critiques. Also, I’m consolidating two Twitter accounts into one. I plan to delete my @momcommblog account and change my @adventuroo account handle to @mel_culbertson. I admit the Twitter handle name “@adventuroo” is much cooler but I’ve already seen my Twitter time almost cut in half from using just one account this past week. Don’t have to manage two sets of lists, of followers and so on.
I’m sure I’ll do some more simplifying as the year progresses but those are the major things.
Honestly, there isn’t much to simplify at the moment other than creating a few templates for some of the repeated things I do (like social media strategy documents). And yes. Email. Need to tame that beast. I’ve already started adding rules to Mac Mail. BOOM.
I think with my work life it’s more about building a nice structure and organization system to what I’m already doing with my clients. Dorky things like sticking to my naming structure so it’s easy to find a client’s files. It’s dorky things like that which save my ass from spending half an hour for a file that was named untitled3.doc.
You know, the one I’ve been neglecting? Well, I want to scrapbook. I want to read, like, actual books. And after spending so much time in Costa Rica this past December with family, I’m more determined than ever to become fluent in Spanish. I understand a good bit but my siblings and I are the only ones – of our 50+ member family – that aren’t fluent. I’ve studied it enough to be fluent (I won’t tell you how many years or I’ll embarrass myself) but seriously, if you don’t speak it, you don’t learn it. There’s only so much you can learn in a textbook. I’m already practicing with a cousin of mine.
I’m also teaching the kids Spanish. After a short whining period (haha), Big Roo is totally digging it now. He and my cousin’s son counted to each other on Skype the other day. Big Roo in Spanish and he in English. Totally cute.
Also, I decided a couple of months ago to give up teaching aerobics… after 11 years. For the amount I was teaching, I couldn’t justify spending about $300 by the time I renew my cert and pay for all my continuing education credits. So, it’ll be the first time in 11 years I’ll have to pay for a gym membership. Which means I’m skipping the gym. Haha. Instead, I’m trying out my nemesis: running. My Nike + GPS app is pretty slick though so let’s see if I stick with it.
So, that’s what’s in my head. Well, now in a blog post too. SIMPLIFY. My blogs. My work. My life.
Of course, there are a gazillion ways to simplify our lives. I plan to start with this and see where it leads me.
I want to live up to those lyrics.
Do you focus on a word for the year, make resolutions or neither?