Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The sky is brighter because it gained a new star . . .

Robin McLaurin Williams


We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. ― Plato


I am still processing.  I was sitting on the couch with my daughter when the news popped up on my phone:  “Robin Williams dead at 63.”  


My kids asked me what was wrong, but I couldn’t speak as I furiously went to Google to see if it was really true.  Unfortunately, it was.  Robin Williams, our beloved funny man, was gone, apparently due to suicide after a battle of debilitating depression.

Since we share the same last name, I used to wish that Robin Williams was related to me.  But I believe that Robin touched so many people through his words, his art, his humor, and his generous heart - that many actually feel like they have lost a member of their family.  I go back and forth from being stunned and numb to laughing to crying uncontrollably.  And someone asked me “Why are you upset?  It isn't like you knew him, personally.”  No.  I never met him.  But everything he did - every role he played - every interview he gave - every stand-up he performed - he never held anything back.  He left it all out there. We were all honored and blessed to be able to experience the highs and lows along with him.  He was a phenomenal character actor and from all accounts, a kind and generous human being.  I don’t know how much more personal it can get than someone who gives all of his talent to the world and holds nothing back for himself.


You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.   - Robin Williams as the Wizard in August Rush

I come from a musical and creative storytelling family.  My great-grandmother was a poet.  My paternal grandmother was an artist.  My maternal grandmother was asked to sing and play piano all over the area and was once offered a recording contract.  Many of my family members are artists, writers, and musicians. And my Dad is a funny man.  I think he could tell one joke a day for the rest of his life and never run out.  And the stories he tells of the pranks he has pulled (some of them on ME) still make me smile no matter how many times I hear them.  Our family listened to the Smothers Brothers on Vinyl, Bill Cosby on cassette tape, and when VCRs first came on the market (yes, I’m telling my age here), we would RENT a VCR and many of the videos we rented were of Dad’s favorite comedians:  Gallagher, George Carlin, and Robin Williams.  Our family has always relied on laughter and music to celebrate the good times and to help us through the rough times.  

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.
― Erma Bombeck


My brother and I loved Mork & Mindy and watched it religiously.  I believe my brother and I even sat on the couch head first, just to see what the world looked like from Mork’s point of view.  And from that time on, I wanted to watch everything that Robin Williams was in.   His eyes held a spark that drew you in - whether eyes filling with genuine tears or crinkled with mischievous laughter.  And although most will remember him from the hilarious blockbusters like Aladdin and Mrs. Doubtfire (which are most definitely on my list of favorites); I was drawn to the films that made me laugh, cry and literally changed the way I felt about this life and the people who live in it with me.  Here are just a few examples:  

The movie that helped me solidify my love of language
They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.   - Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society

Question everything, while still being able to laugh 
at things that scare me . . .
What are you afraid of Dickerson? People might find out there's a war going on?
- Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vietnam

One of the first movies that made me UGLY cry. . .
What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug - and THAT is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. THESE are the things that matter. This is what we'd forgotten - the simplest things.  - Robin Williams as Dr. Malcolm Sayer in Awakenings

Love others, no matter what - even when it hurts
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly without complexities or pride. I love you because I know no other way than this. So close that your hand, on my chest, is my hand. So close, that when you close your eyes, I fall asleep.  - Robin Williams as Hunter Patch Adams in Patch Adams

The extremes to go to if it means saving someone you love
That's when I realized I'm part of the problem. Not because I remind you. But because I couldn't join you. So I left you alone. Don't give up, okay?  - Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen in What Dreams May Come

When funny isn’t funny . . .
Toys film Robin Williams.jpg
Oh yeah! I love jokes! I love all kinds of jokes. But you know what I don't like? I don't like people trying to kill me, hurting my family and my friends, and destroying the whole world as I know it. That just doesn't sit well with me.  - Robin Williams as Leslie Zevo in Toys

And of course, I have to mention some of the movie quotes that were used over and over throughout my life because of a Robin Williams movie:

Humans don't have tails. They have big, big bottoms that they wear with bad shorts. They walk around going, "Hi, Helen".  and Price check on prune juice, Bob.  Price check on prune juice. from Fern Gully.

My first day as a woman and I'm getting hot flashes; Carpe dentum. Seize the teeth; and  Oh, sir. I saw it! Some angry member of the kitchen staff, Did you not tip them? Oh, the terrorists! They ran that way. It was a run-by fruiting.  from Mrs. Doubtfire

I can’t even begin to tell you how much mileage we got out of Your line is, I want to set the Genie free . . . anytime . . . during high school drama club productions.

And I won’t even list all of the quotes from one of my all-time favorite movies, Hook except that on the first time it snows every year, either my brother, cousins, or I will call or text someone and say “It’s snowing!” [SLAM].  AND - I cry every time I watch the “Oh there you are, Peter” scene.

I think it is safe to say that Robin Williams and his art have touched my life and the lives of those around me.  From the outpouring of grief on social media - I’m not the only one.  Everyone is reeling at the news of this creative genius who is gone too soon.  But I know so many of us are asking - WHY?

Every one wants to be a Genius. But only the brave choose to go mad to get there...
― Stanley Victor Paskavich

Why was someone so loved, so funny, so full of the spark of life in such a dark place that he couldn’t take it anymore?  Why didn’t he reach out to someone and get help, before it was too late?  It is said that he has struggled with addiction and depression most of his life - so why was this storm so much harder to bear?

I believe in destiny. There must be a reason that I am as I am. There must be. - Robin Williams

For most of my life, I’ve been surrounded by creative people.  And I am no stranger to mental illness - or even the truly personal hell that depression can cause (my own and that of others).  Some of the most well-known and beloved inventions, music, writing, and art have come from the mentally ill - Ludwig van Beethoven and Vincent Van Gogh are said to have been bipolar and Charles Dickens struggled with depression.  Still, there is something so beautiful about that creative genius.  A UK psychologist, Mark Millard, said that "Creativity is uncomfortable. It is their dissatisfaction with the present that drives [creative people] on to make changes . . .” and Friedrich Nietzsche said that “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”  Maybe creative people ARE predisposed to a bit of madness - but it is what they do with it that matters.  I believe that Robin Williams gave us everything that he had.  And unless you have a mind that works like his - you cannot understand how giving of yourself for so long can take so much out of you.

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create -- so that
without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating. ― Pearl S. Buck

For the creative genius, I think that in those moments of taking a break, of trying to recharge - there is chaos.  They know in their very soul that they were MADE to create, to share, to sing, to love, to laugh, to make others feel emotion - but in the rare moment of peace, of quiet, when burnout happens - they realize they don’t have anything left to give.  And no matter how much they have given in the past - artists are the hardest on themselves.  They know they need to recharge, yet they feel like they cannot breathe if they are not creating.  Robin himself said, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

I am thankful and blessed for what Robin Williams brought to my life and to the lives of others.  And I hope that his untimely death will help bring to the forefront the importance of art in all its forms and how it is our duty to protect those whom God gave their own “spark of creation.”    I believe we must find ways to help artists continue to do their work, and to recharge without fear of becoming obsolete.  I am also thankful for the creative geniuses in MY life and I hope that each of them know that I am here for them always - and I will support them in whatever way that I can, for as long as I can - because I believe in their purpose in what they have been given and how the world is a better place with them in it.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. - Robin Williams

It’s important to note that it isn’t our job to judge, to fix, or even always to understand.  Sometimes - all a person needs is that quiet comfort of knowing someone loves them no matter what.  One of the best things I’ve seen regarding this subject is a comic from robot-hugs.com.


In memory of Robin Williams, I challenge you to support a “starving artist” or build a nest and climb in with that person who just needs someone near.  Offer help to those who have fallen down a dark hole and can’t seem to find their way out.  Share love and you will be amazed at the beautiful things that will happen.


You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry , thinking, "What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?" But I say to you, "Hey, look at me!" Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you're ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day... make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.  
- Robin Williams as Jack in Jack

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grandma holding me - 1975.

Oh, Grandma.

How is it possible that you've been gone for seven years?  SEVEN YEARS?  Time really does speed up, the older you get.  It makes me want to stop and take a moment and just take in everything around me; to hug people a little longer; to sing when I feel like crying; to do things that would make my Grandma proud of me.

When Grandma was my age, they didn't have things like blogs and Facebook.  People were more apt to keep their troubles to themselves.  People just didn't talk about "certain things".  I know now, that my Grandma did not have an easy life.  But she always seemed to be able to put things into perspective.  So many people commented on her smile.  And I always felt like Angels were singing along when she played the piano and sang.  Music and Jesus got her through the rough times.

I am so blessed to have had her influence in my life.  I would be a completely different person without it.  And no - she wasn't perfect - and neither am I.  But every day - when I am having a rough time - I can feel a little nudge that says:  "You can do it."  And I can.  And I am.  And I know that much of my strength was passed on to me by Grandma, and I'm thankful for 30 years I got to spend with her.

You are missed, Grandma, by all of your family and friends.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

So, I guess I have to keep this up if Lisa is . . .

Promise Yourself
1)  To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
2)  To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

So yesterday, I had a hard time thinking about being strong.  But I know I can do that - it just takes work.  And I think I did a pretty good job of being strong yesterday.  A lot of things came along that tried to throw me for a loop - but I didn't let it knock me down.

And then - Lisa and I got into an intense conversation about "loving yourself".  I have always had an issue with this.  I was raised with the thought of "doing things for yourself is selfish."  It is hard to draw the line between selfishness and loving yourself.  Lisa told me that I needed to say "it is easy for me to focus on me".  I couldn't even TYPE it, let alone say it out loud.  Now, I know that I do selfish things.  They are usually motivated by depression.  Like - I'd rather stay home and sleep than go out and hang out with friends.  Hiding is easier.  Or I will selfishly watch Anne of Green Gables even when the kids want to watch something else - because I CANNOT STAND WATCHING SPONGE BOB ANYMORE!!!

But most of my issues come from trying to take care of everyone else but myself.  Or worrying about doing something that might upset someone else.  I think I'm afraid of something - but I can't quiet figure out what it is.

However - in the midst of a lot of crazy circumstances right now - I really do feel stronger than I have in a long time AND I have some peace a midst the chaos.

So on to #2.  Okay - does this mean I have to get rid of my snarky sarcastic attitude?  I need to talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.  Lisa also mentioned how overly cheerful people often tend to tick her off rather than make her happy - I've never been a fan of pushy "Pollyanna on crack" type people either.  But I think my earlier discussion will help me with this one.  I need to look in the mirror.  I need to talk health, happiness, and prosperity to that woman in the mirror who I don't like a whole lot right now.  I need to make her realize that she IS strong and that she CAN be healthy, and happy, and prosperous.  And I need to stop talking about her like she isn't the one typing this!!

That's my goal for today.  So if you happen to see me - and it looks like I'm talking to myself . . . just move on - I have some positive self-talk to get done!!!

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Promise Yourself

Taking a "page" from my hot-headed red head friend . . . I'm going to drill this into my brain over the next couple of weeks.

Promise Yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature you meet.

To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud word, but in great deeds.

To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true to the best that is in you.

-Christian D Larson

So, for me - I must drill that first line into my brain.  I have to believe that I AM strong - even though so many things are pulling at me and wanting me to give into my weaknesses and curl up in a ball and stay there for days.  But I get up each day and get through the day without much mishap.  Now - I need to just stop EXISTING and start living.  That is where this inner strength has to come in.

Oh yeah, and I have to FIND "peace of mind" in order to keep stress from disturbing it.  I have a big job ahead of me today . . .

Friday, March 9, 2012

"God Gave Me a Song" . . . No, really . . .

Many of my family members love the Christian comedian Tim Hawkins.  He says things that everyone thinks, but most won't SAY out loud.  So when I started to write this post about a song God brought to mind and then used to minister to me - I couldn't help but think of this clip from Tim Hawkins' Full Range of Motion DVD.

Okay - so God really DID give me a song last night. But I didn't write it. So I think it's safe to share the information about it in this blog!

I am a huge Amy Grant fan, I always have been. And when I heard the new song by Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant (from Music inspired by "The Story") entitled "I'm With You" several months ago - I loved it and downloaded it. I played it a lot in the car and my youngest daughter really liked it too. We said maybe we should sing it someday.

I also downloaded the sheet music about a month ago so I could learn it on the piano - but then never really did anything with it.

Last night, I sat down at the piano and asked my daughter if we should learn the song. She got excited and we sat down and started learning the words. I had never really paid attention to the words. I should have. As we learned the song together - the tears were running down my cheeks as my little girl in her sweet 8-year-old voice sang about how we are going to get through this difficult time together and how much God loves us.

Isn't it amazing how God's timing just WORKS?

Here is a video of the song with the lyrics - and maybe in a few weeks I'll share us SINGING the song and then you can decide if we should say God gave the song to us or if we should give it BACK!! Ha ha.

I hope you all have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keeping the anger monster at bay . . . barely.

I'm going to be honest.  I've started several posts over the past several days.  They were born out of anger and bitterness and a sense of injustice.  I'm still writing them.  But I probably won't publish them.

Yesterday I was informed that my ex is already moving in with his new girlfriend.  I have never felt so angry.  I literally did not know how to react or how to stop being angry.  I am usually a peaceful person - and yesterday I was a walking example of the exact opposite of peace.

I know, I know.  People who know the situation are probably saying . . .

  • Who cares?  You're better off!
  • His true colors will come out - don't worry.
  • Why do you care?  You got rid of him - let her have him.
  • Move on.
I know that all of these things are most likely true - but you need to understand something about me.  When I gave my heart - I gave all of it.  When I care about someone or something, I jump in with both feet, both hands, my whole entire being.  When I said "I do" - I expected it to be forever.  This week, I walked out in the back yard and found a stone I'd purchased for our anniversary one year that says "Grow Old Along With Me" with our names and anniversary date.  I started crying and couldn't breathe.

How can anyone, after 10  years of marriage and adopting 3 children together move on so easily?  A good friend of mine helped me realize that my reactions and emotions are normal.  But my issue is that I just cannot comprehend how he does NOT hurt like this.  And part of me WANTS him to hurt like this.  And it angers me that people around him talk about how much he has changed and how different he is and how happy he looks.  DOES ANYONE CARE THAT HE SHATTERED A FAMILY TO GET TO THIS POINT?  Or that people said the same thing about him when he met me?  (oops, there's that anger monster rearing its head again.)

I was angry and hurt for myself - but mostly, I was angry and upset about what his actions are showing to our children.  They finally were brave enough to tell the truth so that I could start protecting them.  And now - he has a new family.  What are they learning about love?  About marriage?  How is it fair that these babies have had so much hurt and loss in their young lives and he just perpetuated it?  Why is it fair that they are well-behaved and happy when they are with him, because they are still afraid to be real and then they come home to me and act up because they are finally able to let their confusion of emotions out?  IT ISN'T FAIR.  But I cannot change it.  I can only do the best that I can and help the kids as much as possible when they are with me.  It is so hard to go from acceptance and a 'readiness to move on' one day to complete and utter despair and anger the next.  It's exhausting.

Last night - I honestly did not think I could do it anymore.  I could not stop crying.  My youngest daughter was having the same issues.  The two of us took a walk with our dogs and I cried the whole time.  She held my hand.  She didn't say anything except to ask me every few minutes if I was okay.  When we got home, I told her we would get through it together.  One step at a time.  She curled up next to me in bed and I sang "In the Garden" as she fell asleep.  I just kept holding on to the "And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own."  And I thanked God for the strong women in my life who were/are examples that I WILL live through this.

Another good friend sent me a message to remind me that my worth does not come from my ex-husband.  And that nothing that he and his new girlfriend do define who I am.  I needed to hear that.  I am not the angry/weepy mess that I turned into yesterday.  I am strong and courageous and loved by my God, my kiddos, my family and many, many wonderful friends.  THAT is what I have to focus on.  The rest I have to just hand over to God and let go of.  I have to TRUST HIM.  

So I'm going to share the video and lyrics to one of my very favorite songs by one of my favorite artists of all time (who just happened to grow up a few miles from where I did.)

Well, sometimes my life 
Just don't make sense at all 
When the mountains look so big 
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf 
You have been King of my glory 
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark 
It's so hot inside my soul 
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf 
You have been King of my glory 
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me 
I'd rather fight You for something 
I don't really want 
Than to take what You give that I need 
And I've beat my head against so many walls 
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And the Salvation Army band 
Is playing this hymn 
And Your grace rings out so deep 
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf 
You have been King of my glory 
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory 
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The first day . . .

It really is the first day of the rest of my life.

I signed the divorce papers yesterday.  On Leap Day.  Ironic.

Last night was hard.  It was really, really hard.  I felt like a big fat failure.  I was so sad and so angry and I just wanted to curl up and die.  And that made me even more upset - because I didn't want to feel that way anymore!

I actually did pretty well in front of people, I'm sure they knew I wasn't in a great mood - but I didn't really talk about it.  And I went into my business to work on a few things and didn't really talk about it.  I left to go home and as I was driving, my cell phone rang.  My business partner called me and said "I forgot to tell you to hang in there; this is a good thing."  And then the tears started and didn't stop for quite some time.  I knew it was a good thing - but it was so hard to comprehend at that moment.

Luckily, I got home before my kids went to bed.  And my youngest, who is sleeping in my bed right now, was so happy I was there in time to read to her.  We've been reading Shel Silverstein poems and she usually passes out after only 3.

I didn't want to take the time to read, I wanted to shut myself in the bathroom and cry my eyes out.  But I didn't even question it.  I put on my pajamas, crawled into bed with her and read to her.  As she fell asleep, I looked down at her and realized that I should have been doing this for years.  She is already 8 years old - and I let the sadness and stress that was our lives bog me down into not being the Mom I've always wanted to be.  I used to sing them to sleep every night.  I used to read to them as often as possible.  And then it just stopped.    I would put them to bed and go downstairs and work on the computer and retreat into my own, safe little world.  How much have I already missed out on?  How did I let this happen to us?

As I brushed her hair out of her face, I let out a tiny sob and she woke up and looked at me.  She cuddled up closer to me and asked me to read some more.  And so I did.  I was exhausted and sad - but my little girl needed me.

After she was really asleep, I went downstairs to talk to my Mom and StepDad who have been helping me out a few days a week.  If you've ever read my other blog, you may notice that they are not mentioned.  There was a reason for that.  We had not spoken in six years.  There were many reasons why, but one of the biggest ones is that she tried to tell me that she was concerned about the situation with my husband and with our newly adopted children.  And I didn't want to hear it.  I was already in denial.  And I know, even now, that I had to move away and learn things for myself.  I had to get out and grow up.  But Mom saw the writing on the wall and spent those six years praying for our safety.  And even though it is probably exhausting for her to drive an hour every week to come and help out with three young, very exuberant children . . . she does it.  Why?  Because her little girl needs her.
When I went to sleep last night - I slept better than I have in a long time.

Today, we woke up, we got ready and we headed for our day.  We had a few struggles with sleepy, grumpy kids - but nothing like I've dealt with in the past.  After I dropped each of them off to their respective schools - I turned my radio on - and Matthew West's "Only Grace" was playing at exactly this point:

You're starting over now
Under the sun
You're stepping forward now
A new life has begun
Your new life has begun 

You just go ahead and try and convince me that God didn't orchestrate that!!  The only time I've cried today was while I was writing this post - but they weren't soul crushing tears - they were restorative.  I think I'm ready to start this new adventure that God has planned for me.

Please enjoy listening to the entire song included in the video below.  I hope and pray that each of you have a great day as well!!

P.S.  thanks Mom