“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”
The Serenity Prayer
Hello people of the world, those who have followed my journey from the beginning and have been tuning in on Wednesdays from around the globe to see if I have had any recent posts. I won’t apologize for my absence because these past 6-8 months of self-reflection and self-discovery have helped me immensely in figuring out how to honor my mother, discover serenity amidst the chaos, and find joy in the things I do. Today I post this on a Tuesday because it’s a special day and I know my mom would appreciate me taking the day off to unwind, reflect, breathe, and focus on myself after all my life’s crazy and consuming moments. She always worried that I worked too hard, too much, was always on the move and needed to slow down. So Momma, this one, as are many things I do, is for you.
Today marks two years since her death. I’ve had to learn how to calm the constant stream of questions that plagued my brain and led to my anxiety. Questions like: How do you heal a broken soul? How do you put an emotionally broken family together? How do you heal those wounds? How do learn to let go of the things you cannot change? How do you find joy in tragedy? How do you let someone in again?
I am having a hard time writing this because life has truly been great to me these past 6-8 months. I’ve felt more like my silly self. I’ve been able to move more freely. I’ve been able to concentrate on career, family, and friends. I’ve been able to let go of self-pity and accept my new reality. So when I think about the bad and ugly that has happened this year, I can’t help but shake in anger and feel emotional. I shake my head as I write this because in my anger, my mom’s spirit has told me to find serenity. I find her prayer, the prayer that she read when she had doubts and fears. A prayer she wrote down on her phone’s notes that I found after she passed…a series of intimate reflections as she coped with the cards God gave her.
If there is a silver lining I find from her passing at the age of 50, its that she has challenged us to find a life that is purposeful, graceful, kind and joyful. This requires self-awareness, empathy, respect, and courage–all qualities my mom, my dad, and my mentors have taught me as I’ve grown up and qualities I find in my close circle of friends that I consider my family. Goodness gracious do I feel blessed to be surrounded by these humans.
Honor: regard with great respect
It’s a word we don’t use often but hold so much weight. This year, I’ve found so many ways to honor my Momma.
It’s in the interactions I have with others. How do I show this person in front of me that I respect them as a human being? How do I become a better listener? How do I become a better ally?
It’s in the things I do with my body. How do I nourish my body? How do I take care of myself? Am I giving myself enough rest? Am I releasing tension effectively so I can move more freely more often?
It’s through these actions I feel her the most. When I am learning how to be a better partner and friend, I feel her the most. When I am treating a stranger with kindness, I feel her the most. When I empathize with someone as they share their stories, I feel her the most. When I am rested, awake, and active, I feel her the most. I try to honor her every second of every day.
Serenity: the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled
This is probably the hardest one I’ve had to learn. For most of 2018, I did not find serenity. I found the opposite: chaos, anger, sadness, anxiety, bad energy. They say time heals all wounds and I am a believer but it’s not just time that’s going to heal those wounds. You, yourself, need to help yourself heal your wounds. Only you can control how to react and accept. Only you can teach your mind to cope with triggers. Maybe you’ll have guidance along the the way, like my therapist that I was helped me through the roughest period of my life. But in the end, I had the power to change and grow.
Finding serenity has been so relieving for me. I had to learn how to accept the things I could not change. I had to muster up the courage to change the things I could change. I needed to develop the wisdom to know the difference between what I could and could not change. Through talking to someone, through meditation, through movement, through music, I have found serenity. I have found the one connection I could rely on to find my mom when I am lost.
I remember one of the first times I meditated after her loss. I lashed out in anger at my husband (don’t remember what caused it, classic angry Raelene) and needed to take a timeout. So I went into our apartment’s gym, turned on some loud music, cried while on the bike, got off the bike, then closed my eyes and meditated in silence. I thought of the last time I talked to my mom, the last time I held her warm hand. I had a huge breakthrough that night. In that room, while my eyes were closed, I imagined my mom and her hand and slowly my hand started to close and I felt warmth. I felt her spirit and I cried on the floor. What I would do to hold her hand again.
I’ve had a few more moments like these sprinkled throughout my past two years of grief, acceptance, and recovery. Those are the moments that I hold onto. When situations have gotten out of hand, I’ve reminded myself of serenity and how to find that again. You can only find it when you let go of the bad juju. I know that in time, the day will come where people will let go of their anger, learn to cope with their grief in a healthy way, and eventually feel the serenity my mother’s spirit has taught me.
I have shared these moments where I find her and through sharing those stories, I am also keeping her memory alive. I’ve also been able to help people recover from their grief too. She’s always with us. Maybe in your times of serenity, you have found her, too.
When I am serene, I feel her the most.
Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness
When I finally felt emotionally balanced enough to watch Inside Out, that was when I remembered joy and how little I felt it, or was at least aware that I was feeling it, after she passed. It sounds silly, but grief is no joke. I didn’t even really have time to grieve for my grandpa’s death because a week after, my mom was in the hospital and for this, the process, I knew, would take some time. It took me almost a year after her death to muster up the courage to visit her final resting place. It took me more than a year to not feel triggered when others would talk about their mom and just be happy that they had a great relationship with their mom. It took me more than a year to open up and welcome my future stepmom into my life.
Life is all about adjusting and adapting to our environment so here are some moments that have brought me joy the past two years:
I know I felt joy at my wedding but I wasn’t really aware of it.
I felt joy again when I traveled to Amsterdam, Greece, and Rome with friends.
I felt joy again when I cooked an amazing Christmas dinner for my family at our home.
I felt joy again when I was able to let go of my anger and sadness and give my husband my unconditional love and affection
I felt joy again when I got my offer letter from Amazon and took the photo for my blue badge, knowing all the summers spent working, free time spent learning a new skill, and focus spent on professional development led me here.
I felt joy walking around Ireland with my best friends and adventuring by myself in France.
I felt joy again when I mowed my lawn after the spring and sat in the sunshine with my husband on our deck while we watched our two dogs run around.
I felt joy again when I danced my heart out with friends at the Gorge.
I felt joy again this past week when I was messing with my little brother and sang Christmas music in my kitchen while my husband watched in embarrassment and our now three dogs feared for their safety.
I continue to feel joy and for that, I am so grateful to be human. Those dark moments needed to happen so I can give it the attention it deserved and get to where I am now: a more balanced human being who knows when enough is enough and when to lean in if needed. A more balanced human being that knows how to cope with anger and sadness and feels free in moments of joy. I also give partial credit to Marie Kondo for this one. Do things that spark joy! Keep things in your life that spark joy! Doesn’t mean you should throw away the bad because that’s part of your journey as a human, too. Life isn’t about living through rose tinted glasses. It’s about living in the present. About seeing things as they are. About feels emotions the way they should be felt.
When I feel joy, I feel her most.
In loving memory of Librada “Levy” Balagtas Olivares
01.18.67 – 12.03.17
Happy Wellness Wednesday (Tuesday)!
I plan to release snippets of my reflections and thoughts every other Wednesday so as to recharge my mind and prepare for the rest of the week to come. As I sift through my memories and share the good, the bad, and the ugly, my intention is to promote self-care and self-discovery as we walk, crawl, skip, and run through life.
This blog is meant to be an open space where I share my deepest thoughts, while remaining poised for the Internet and to strangers who may not know me but are reading my story.
This is an evolving blog, with the eventual goal to inspire those to share, to be present, to find balance, and to be fearless.
We all have a story and I am choosing to share mine with you all.
Thank you for your interest! Comment below or contact me if you want to chat 🙂
2 thoughts on “Honor, Serenity, and Joy // Dec 2019”
Wow!!! What a nice read for the day! I literally read through all the commas and periods and gaps! I intensely feel so immersed in your story Raelene!!! You can be one of the worlds best inspirational bloggers!!! I love you!!!!! You always make your momma and bombo PROUD!!!
Reading this makes me reminisce the moments when your were still a baby then up to where you are now. I am sure your Momma is very proud and happy as to what you have become now. I once had depression when I lost my husband leaving me with 5 kids. I almost gave up. And trying to cope everyday.
The passing of someone you love the most, and knowing that you will never see him/her again physically will always leave an empty space in your heart ..