Tag Archives: little bit of buddha


When I was little, my mom told me to do good before dropping me off for school one day. My dad corrected her that to be grammatically correct, it’s do well. I firmly believe that she meant what she said.

Everyone has some sort of plan upon greeting each day. We all have to do lists, and some of us write them down. Things we have to do for our jobs (prepare for presentation), our houses (do the damn laundry already), and our families (go through photos with Mom, when she was here, of course). These to do lists haunt us and push us. They make us feel accomplished. Sometimes they drive us insane. “There were three things I needed to do today. What was the third? Shoot. Where is that Post-It note?” Not like these are personal examples or anything.

Driving to work this morning, I realized something. The plan for every day can be far more simple. Do good. Not do well, although doing things to the best of your ability at any given time is always, well, good. But rather, do good. That single, solitary goal on each and every day. Do some good.

For all the things you have to do to keep your life in order, do one thing for someone else. That’s my challenge to anyone reading this. Every time I reread this, I’m challenging myself to it too.

Smile at a stranger. Hold the door for an elderly gentleman. Give up your seat for the pregnant woman on the train. Let someone pull their car out in front of you. Be a little more kind to and patient with the waitress bringing you your dinner (she’s serving your family and friends instead of eating with hers).

Help a friend in need. Help a friend period. Really listen when someone opens up to you. Compliment a coworker who worked exceptionally hard on a project. Tell your husband how much you love every little thing about him from his undyed hair to his broken toe, because all you see are his kind eyes and megawatt smile. Tell a friend how you couldn’t live without their silliness or heart. Tell your daughter how proud of her you are for the things that are far more important than her “A” in geometry or the goal she scored at soccer. Tell her you are proud of the person she is on the inside, how appreciative you are for her being such a big help fixing dinner, how inspired you are by how non-judgmental she is with others, and how touched you are by how patient she is with her grandfather who has Alzheimer’s.

Volunteer with any charity of your choosing. Play with and cheer for the athletes at a Special Olympics event. Spend a couple of hours at a food bank. Donate ten bucks to the National Brain Tumor Society. Go walk with Out of the Darkness to raise awareness for suicide prevention.

It doesn’t have to be much. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just do some good.

I have a slightly different take on the ideas of karma and the law of attraction. They say something along the lines of if you do good, good will come back to you. Almost like if you volunteer at a homeless shelter, one day you’ll win the lottery. That’s nonsense.

It’s far more simple than that. If you do good, you feel good. When you help and show kindness to others, you feel good. I’ve told people that I volunteer for Special Olympics for entirely selfish reasons. I help the athletes (okay, I play with them and dance with them while they wait for their events), but it seems to make them smile, and that makes me feel good. The whole process it totally fulfilling. It makes me happy. That’s karma.

Some amazing friends of mine wrote a card for me with a perfect quote on it by James Barrie. “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” That’s karma.

So here’s my challenge. Go do some good. Today or any day. Make it a part of your daily to do list. However little or big, you’ll make a difference and feel a whole lot better about yourself. It’s a win-win.

Thanks for the advice as always, Mom.


the greatest plans

It’s no surprise that my mom has passed. I posted a lot about it any chance I could, always with an optimistic spin. Photos of her doing the best she could at communicating from her hospital bed. Photos of her beautiful smile that clearly showed how skinny she had gotten on chemo or how swollen she had gotten on steroids. Mentions of proud I was of her for how strong she had been doing despite the circumstances. All of it was true. She did the best she could, she was beautiful (inside and out), and she was strong. But I also meant for every photo and post to serve as a heads up to those who didn’t really know her story about her decline. A literal status update that she wasn’t doing so well. And also a way to trick myself into believing it was all okay. I wanted to be okay.

The reality, of course, is that I was mourning deeply inside from the day she was diagnosed. I still sobbed at her funeral, but a lot less than I expected, probably since I had cried for the 21 months before that. But I am so tired of crying.

I want to be okay, but keep getting caught up in the cry, “It’s not fair. This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

And I finally realized something.

Things happen every second of every day that weren’t “supposed” to happen. We can try with all of our might to plan and control the future. Our hopes and visions of the future may keep us motivated and moving forward, but life tends to get in the way. Deaths of loved ones, unplanned pregnancies, life changing injuries or illnesses, meeting right people at the right time. Some may think that’s an odd combination of bad and good, but really, they’re just types of change. The label you slap on each as “bad” or “good” is subjective.

My mom passed, and that’s bad. It’s unfortunate. It sucks. And it wasn’t supposed to happen, at least not in my grand view of the future. I always thought I’d have kids and she’d be the most awesome grandmother to them. I promised her I’d never put her in a nursing home. That she’d taken such amazing care of me, that I wanted to be able to return the favor and have her move in with me. I held onto this hope and was so excited about it for my 27 years on this earth. Perhaps it kept me moving forward a little, but the fact that she isn’t here anymore to fulfill that hope doesn’t mean I can stop moving forward towards the future. She’s not in my future anymore, but the impact she made on my life will always be with me. And just because she’s not here anymore doesn’t mean my future won’t be wonderful.

I keep forgetting the quote the title of this blog came from: “It’s supposed to hurt. That’s how you know it meant something.” As long as we live, love, and have deep meaningful relationships, one day, we will also hurt and miss the people we loved tremendously, because nothing can last forever. None of us do.

Some people avoid intimate relationships out of the fear of being hurt. I was one of them. I don’t think I trusted anyone enough to let them in and potentially break my heart. Meeting Ray changed that. He has the heart of my grandfather, so I knew I was safe with him. I am safe with him. I am grateful for him for helping me let my guard down and so much more. Regardless, one day, one of us will pass first unless we’re the adorable old couple at the end of “The Notebook” that pass together. One of us will pass first, and the other will have to cope and carry on. One of us will hurt. And that’s a good thing.

I don’t need pain to know that I loved my mom deeply, but it definitely validates just how much she meant to me. She made me and is the reason I am the person I became. She was inspirational to me. My role model long before she became a warrior against glioblastoma.

She’s not here anymore, but I am. I may hurt, but I need to keep going. During her life and especially during her decline, she always said she wanted two things for me: to be happy and to travel. So I’m going to try and do just that, even if she’s not here to see it.

Ray and I are finally going to Paris in October, Mom. I hear it’s beautiful.


letting go

There’s this notion in Buddhism about impermanence: nothing can last forever. I think that’s not only true but necessary to accept, whether or not you’re a fan of Buddhism.

I write this entry as a rambunctious puppy named Coconut (or Coco-nutso) currently lays sound asleep across my lap, preventing me from sitting upright without squishing her a little. She’s snoring-snorting every now and then. When she sleeps, she’s heaven. Silent, peaceful, at ease. But at some point, she wakes.

She requires constant attention, and if she doesn’t get it, she barks until you give in. Her favorite toys are those that are loud. Extremely loud. Or toys that don’t belong to her at all. Playthings like my underwear, tissues and other assorted paper goods, the vegetable plants that are beginning to flower, and so many other seemingly safe objects. Anything at her short puppy-height stature is irrevocably hers and at her disposal.

She’s ruined plenty of things. My husband’s leather wallet that probably tasted like a bacon-flavored treat which now has a corner of bite marks. Our rugs, which she believes to be pee pads since they’re softer on her derriere. Mail which we never read and never will be able to again.

And as a former perfectionist who took immaculate care of every item in my possession, I can say truthfully and happily, it’s all okay and I accept it.

None of these things would last forever. They came from something that was impermanent and became something else that was impermanent. The cattle that became the leather, the cotton that became the rug, the tree that became the mail… And when they’re recycled, reclaimed, or reused by the earth, they’ll be something else again.

The things Coconut has destroyed are minimal, but they serve as a metaphor for something a teeny bit more important but no less impermanent.


my mom with coconut, or coconut with her nana, both happy

My mom is dying. She has Stage IV glioblastoma that resides in the right hemisphere of her brain and over half of her brainstem. She has lost her ability to move, speak, hear, feel, and live without multiple people assisting her at all times. She has hospice to make her transition as comfortable as possible.

And now I realize something: they call it a transition for a reason. She will not just cease to exist. She will become something else, in something else, in body, and in mind. Her heart is a big part of mine, and if I am so lucky to have a family one day, her heart will become a part of theirs too. One day, her body will be a part of the earth and become something new. A flower on a farm in Pennsylvania, a mourning dove by our bird feeder, and a piece of coral on a beach in Bora Bora, perhaps.

She is not mine to keep. She is not even hers to keep. To think that any of us could prevent her from transitioning would just be selfish. The truth is that all of us are dying a little bit everyday, not just her. I know I’ll transition one day and I hope more than anything I come back on a shore in Bora Bora with her.