Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Slater Tribe

Keokuk, Ia, my first view of this little town on day one was overcast
skies and the threat of another snow storm that never came, phew.
Keokuk, Ia is a small town of about 10,000.  Now I know to some that does not sound so small at all, however to me it is tiny, haha.  The first week at Mckenzie's has been a roller coaster of laughter, tears, insight and excitement.

Happy Birthday Semya, Nani Loves You
Yes tears, as feeling somewhat homesick has begun to set in and yesterday I found myself missing my family immensely.  It being my youngest Granddaughters 2nd birthday I was wishing I could have been there to kiss her plump little cheeks and feel her fall asleep on my chest the way she does whenever I am there.   I have also been missing Stella a lot these past few days.  While I didn't see her every day in California I always knew she was a car ride away.

Stella on Easter, Momma loves you so much baby.

I woke up this morning fully rested and feeling grateful for so many things, most of all for my friend and sister Renee and the car ride last night with Mckenzie.  She could tell that I needed to get out apparently as she stood over me with her piggy purse over her shoulder looking down at me in my chair writing and said... Come on, let's go!  "Where we headed?" I smiled and she just nodded and slyly replied... "out".

The Mississippi River
We got in her van and headed through town, I gazed out of the window in amazement at the sky as the sun was lowering and noticed the most beautiful shades of red and salmon with contrasts of shades of blues and gray where in the middle was a wispy could formation in the shape of a huge angel and I felt my heart begin to release all the feelings of missing my own family surface.  As we drove along the Desmoines River and then the Mississippi river tears began to flow down my cheeks and I said a little prayer to the Heavens.

We take so many paths in life, some with our friends, our families, our loved ones, our mates, some we travel alone.  All these paths are part of the Journey of life, all serving our growth.  When we learn along the way to appreciate it all, share it all, embrace it all we begin to travel in love for it all and that is the key to fully living our lives.
Mckenzie said nothing she just drove and let me cry for a as long as I needed as if she just knew that I needed this ride and release of some feelings built up inside of me.  After the tears stopped falling and a smile of warmth came on my face I looked at her and thanked her  She smiled back and said.. "no problem, I could tell you needed to get out of the house, missing your family huh?" Yes, and feeling some other feelings of fear and doubt I didn't realize were there.

When we let go of the feelings we think we have to hold inside to appear
strong we gain true strength.  This is repeat lesson for me apparently.

She replied.. "it must be hard trying to help all of us while you yourself are still trying to learn how to help yourself.  I commend you, I don't know if I could do it."  I felt such release being able to share all my feelings and doubts with her in that car ride.  I felt cared for.

Mckenzie is a strong woman, hard headed with a heart as big as Iowa.  I named this post The Slater Tribe as she is the Chief of her tribe in every way.  A single mother of three who also takes care of her brother.  She reminds me much of myself in my younger years when I was raising my own.  She packs no punches, calls it like she see's it and makes things happen for her family even though she has so little to make it all happen with.  The tribe has welcomed me into their home the same way I would have in my younger years... just one more potato in the pot... you are a guest for about five minutes than it is time to dig right in and make yourself at home, there are no guests here; only family.

Kaden and Rialee have adopted me as their Auntie JoJo, they asked me
if it was okay to call me Auntie and I was honored to say of course.
With two daughters and one son McKenzie while stern takes the time to teach her children why this is okay and that is not.  I have watched her over the past week while she displays such patience and love in teaching her kids what matters to her the most.  It is quite a site to see this iron strong woman be so gentle and loving when it comes to interacting with her kids in issues that require saying no or finding out who did what.  The rest of the time there is much laughter and sarcasm, this is a "if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen household" and that is just the type of household I raised my own in so feeling at home is not hard to do.

Avory has the heart of an Angel, a natural nurturer and
sweet soul she has been such a joy to get to know.
With so many commonalities to my own family while raising my sons I have found myself missing those days much.  As women we spend most of our lives with our identities wrapped up in being someones mother, someones wife, someones neighbor and so on.  Life is busy during our child rearing years and that leaves little time for feelings of loneliness.  Big parts of me miss the purpose I felt during those years.  It is not easy to feel fear or doubt for long when raising kids as we have these little ones looking up to us for strength and all the answers.  Today I am alone even though I am surrounded with this beautiful family, today I am reminded that, that part of my own life has passed.

The road to learning how to love me has been one of many lessons.  This new part of the journey involves me going back to helping others and in that not loosing myself as I did so much in the past.  Mckenzie touched on the very thing sitting heavy on my heart when she said it must be hard trying to help others and still help me.  As she said it I cried again and said out-loud while the tears began to fall again... "I am scared that I might not be good enough for all this".  Just saying it I felt such a release.  I needed to get that fear out, I had been holding it in thinking that I had to be this strong 'got it all together' person for everyone I am going to help and forgetting all the lessons I have learned on my journey about reaching out for help myself.

Rialee has become the organic police here, haha
I was reminded of what it means to allow others to be there for me while I am there for others.  Reminded of the importance of sharing our feelings with each other as we are all battling from the same fears of powerlessness; in sharing those fears we take their power away.  Saying those words to Mckenzie took the power of that fear away as I quickly realized she didn't look at me as any less capable of helping her to face her own fears in fact she looked at me as more like her than ever and in that moment a bond was formed.

Eating organic and healthy is a great habit to have
For all the work we have done this week, going shopping, learning to read labels and make different choices, Mckenzie's new love for an organic salad with olive oil, lemon juice and seasoned rice vinegar in place of piles of dressing, the excitement and determination of the kids to eat healthier and learn more about toxins and chemicals, the most work was done last night in that car ride.

I have a feeling that I will be forever changed from this part of the
journey, learning how to balance loving me with loving everyone
else is a great lesson and one I am determined to learn.
I realized that I am taking this journey for more than helping others, I am also helping myself continue to grow and love myself even more by sharing with my new friends that we all have fears and doubts to overcome and together we can overcome it all.

The kids just woke up and came down stairs with their happy selves, gave me the now traditional "good morning Auntie JoJo" hug they have given me since day one.  I am right at home here and blessed to have so much love around me.  Today is going to be a great new day, I don't feel the burden of doubt in my heart and am ready for this next week with this awesome family who has made me one of their own without an reservations.

I love you all from a place of acceptance for my fears and doubts and the courage to face them knowing this year is going to change more than the lives of the homes I visit, this year is going to also forever change me.  We are all learning as we go, that never stops and why should it? If we had all the answers we would have no reason to be here now would we, haha.

One Love,

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