Author: Sherry Carver (Page 1 of 4)

My Mother — A Gift I Didn’t Realize Until Now

Glennon Doyle to Oprah Winfrey……

“‘Hello my friend, my sister, my example, I’m sitting on a balcony on Cayman Island and right at this moment writing an essay about the word mother, what that word really means, how it’s less to me a fixed identity we can be or not be and more an energy we can offer or not offer. The essay is about how some of us who can check the box mother never really learn how to offer mothering love and how others of us who don’t check the box, harness it and offer it widely and wildly. The essay is about how much better off the world would be if we gathered up mothering love and used it like a floodlight instead of a pointed laser aimed only at the few we’ve been assigned.

As I’m writing this essay on the balcony, my sister just sent me a text that says, ‘G, Oprah’s mother died. She was 83. I wanted you to know.’ I just got that text a minute ago. I would never presume to guess what your relationship was like, how complex it was and is to be your mother’s daughter, what your feelings are this week, what your feelings have been or will be. I just wanted to say, that you are my example of how to gather up mothering love and use it as a floodlight to illuminate and warm the world. You are my and the world’s best example of grace, which means that we can somehow give what we’ve never even received. I don’t know much, but from everything you bravely say and kindly don’t say, I’ve gathered that you didn’t get the mothering love you deserved and needed as a little girl and a grown girl.

To me, that is what makes you a miracle. It is a miracle that somehow you took the broken pieces that she put in your hands, all of them and you spun them into gold and opened your hands wide and offered that gold back to the world. Which is not just a gift to the world, it is a gift directly back to your mother, because you worked with what she gave you, ensured that her legacy through you is gold. With your help, your mother’s legacy is gold. What a gift. If there is a Heaven, she can see that now. She can see that her miraculous daughter somehow, somehow turned her offerings to gold. God, bet she’s amazed and grateful. Well done, good faithful, miraculous, badass, servant. In your corner forever.’

Sometimes too many words can make a story impossible to understand.  I have tried for years to explain to myself and to others how I felt about my mother.  I faulted her for her behavior many times but I know that she was a very misunderstood person navigating a complicated world.  Glennon Doyle gave me clarity on how I can love and thank her without a lifelong sadness that I did not get what I hoped for.  I got more than I hoped for, I just had to wait until she was gone to appreciate her soul.

My mother put her broken pieces in my hand and helped me see myself as she saw me.  She understood my need to express myself.  She would sit quietly and watch me dramatize my emotional self. There were times she tried to keep me still and I now realize she was teaching me to listen. She brought music to my life and taught me to appreciate the words and that they can sometimes mirror feelings and dry my tears.  To this day, when stressed, I play piano music with the vision of her playing while I lay down on the floor next to her.

Mom’s Barn

In her dark days, when she reached for a drink to soothe her broken heart, her pen and paper gave her a voice where words were inadequate.  Reading her stories carefully, I unlocked the mystery of why she was so sad.  She took the parts of her life that she chose carefully and made them whole but died peacefully with her secrets of how many had betrayed her innocence and longing for parental love.

Her legacy is now clear. She listened and was kind.  She found a way to say what was so hard to accept through her music and writing. On one of her last days, I walked up to her and smiled wide — she opened her eyes and saw me — she knew me and I realized that she had all along.



My Life Needs Structure


In my daydreams I imagine every day just waking up with no plan, nothing to do.  Let the day take me where I want it to go.  No stress, no calls, no responsibility.  No one needs me, no one interrupts my thoughts and the house just gets cleaned if I feel like it.

Then I am jolted back to reality and realize that would not be as wonderful as it sounds.


Structure keeps me engaged and gives me purpose.  Being needed for my expertise or ideas is a great feeling of self satisfaction.  Cleaning the house gives me the time to organize and renew it’s function.  A clean house is so much fun to walk around in.  Having a place to go every day keeps me from procrastination.

I’m starting a class to engage others who might be feeling the need for structure in their lives.  No matter what the circumstance, it can always be a mood lifter to know someone needs what you have to offer.   Change is so difficult and getting stuck in a daily loop of “nothing much matters, I can do it tomorrow” are words that lack any joy.


I also need variety to my days.  I have set up my schedule to be flexible and fluid.  I set a loose schedule at the law office but get the work done. I can take a substitute teaching job if I can fit it into my week.  I can schedule a weekend trip on a whim.

I need exercise in my week at least 5 days.  If not, I start to lose the motivation to keep it up.  Results come slower at my age but it is a true statement that the endorphins really do bring a great feeling.  Going to the gym is tough some days but I walk out saying “I’m so glad I went.”  I live by the mantra — just do something, it’s better than doing nothing.


I have identified a few “happy” places in my life.  My favorite coffee shop offers me a respite from sitting in the house.  I walk in to my favorite iced green tea, air conditioning (or the fireplace) and friendly people who call me by name.  This small town feeling in a community is life affirming.

I also love our backyard.  It is calm and peaceful and gives me a feeling of belonging to something bigger than me.  Watching animals, trees, plants and weather live together is a lesson that I love to watch.  My patio offers a comfortable place to write and just reconnect with my soul.

Driving is peaceful for me — I recently got a new car with amazing power and “car play” lets me listen to whatever I choose.  That is a huge benefit of technology! Music can just elevate my mood more than anything else — especially the songs from my high school years.  It brings me back to that girl who had a future only she could design.


The daydream of nothing to do has passed through my brain and while I still get overwhelmed at times, creating my life does not have to be pressure filled.  It comes down to choices — it has taken years to find a peaceful balance.  Saying “no” makes me happy.

My Journey Through Anxiety

I remember my first panic attacks.  I was 19 years old and newly married.  I was in a young marriage to run away from my miserable home life since my parents’ divorce.  Gone were my confident days and happy nights. Gone was the security of knowing everyone at home was safe.  Gone were my days in high school with friends and activities.  Gone was my smile.

I was grasping for anything that felt like family.  My husband and his family were chosen to fill my void.  They were intact and had dinner together every night.  They laughed.  I could bring our two kids here and they would be safe and loved.  It was not the same as my home and the feeling of belonging was a tall order.  I was asking too much of anyone to give me what I lost.

Pain of the past — fear of the future.  As I self soothed myself with another marriage, my panic attacks disappeared but anxiety was always at the surface of my day.  I developed a desperation to make sure everyone in my world was thriving.  I learned to smile and serve.  I pleased and never rocked the structure of what a family was supposed to be.  Fear became my friend and I valued being the victim of my story.

As the years went by I developed the inability to smile through my tears. I alone was responsible for my daily life.  If I let others choose my path, they would.  Saying no was excruciating for me and I let the waves keep coming.

The rescue came one day dialing the phone and a counselor said “come over I have a spot open for you.”  For once, I followed through and sat in her chair and worked on myself.  Gone was any hint of pity for my life. It was me in the chair finding my way out of the hole I was in.

I worked hard to climb my way out of victimhood.  I could not fall back on my safe haven of blame.  Choices were mine and I had not prioritized where I wanted my life to be.  I followed and blamed.  I stopped crying and set a goal for myself.

I lacked any experience in my life of being alone.  As we worked on a solution together — I realized that I never gave college a chance.  I began the process of enrolling at the local junior college.  It changed my confidence to be in a class where no one knew me or really cared what I was going through.  This was all me — I could succeed or quit on my own.

The earlier Sherry would have quit college when negative voices played all around me.  People were used to me making their lives my priority.  I had to be at class, I had homework, I was leaving everyone to their own life. I have never felt a greater sense of accomplishment than carrying and framing my diploma.  It was never just a piece of paper to me.

I do not have to have all the answers.  I do not need to solve everyone’s questions. The freedom I feel when I’m alone feeding my soul is joyful. I drive where I want and schedule myself according to morning or afternoon. I do not live on a time constraint. College taught me how to be alone. Writing gave me my voice.

As I age, I find anxiety in my health.  Once again I need to tackle this beast in my head. I know that I have the ability to find a way to work through this alone. My strength and confidence are solid and the foundation was set that day with the counselor.

Peace comes for me in small ways. Simple ideas work best.  Unreachable dreams just get in the way of everyday moments. Nature is a gift. Writing is an escape. Exercise is essential. Food can satisfy the need for nourishment but not be the mindless swallowing of feelings. Music can calm the wild thoughts and constant achieving.  I no longer need to see myself through other’s eyes.





When Change Cripples You


“Curiosity is the beginning of knowledge. Action is the beginning of change.”  James Clear

You lose your job. Your partner passes away. Your kids leave to start their adult lives. You get sick.  You retire.  You move.

Music Heals

Change can cripple you.  All of your plans for the future no longer matter. You are given a short time period to find new purpose. The energy and motivation necessary to get up out of bed just vanishes.  You feel cheated that you could not keep the journey alive. The devastation of every day is so unfair — why me, why now?

”What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow. Our life is the creation of our mind.” The Dhammapada (collection of Buddhist scriptures, on the power of your mind).


The changes have no particular order of how impossible they are. All are hard in their way,  it depends on each individual and what priorities are still viable. Each one can take the breath out of your soul.

I cannot give a concrete answer as to how to cope or move forward. I do believe, though, that hope is never lost and it takes a great amount of strength to find your spirit again.

Get out of bed, brush your hair and teeth and put on exercise clothes. That is a start —  find  a way to take a walk outside — don’t push yourself just walk till you feel you need to stop.  Walk a little more every day.  When you feel like being around people, find a coffee shop that feels comfortable.  Order your favorite drink and sit with your thoughts. Work up to talking to a friend.  Turn on music that has meaning to you. Dance!

Soothe Yourself

I am scared of what getting older may mean for my own changes.  It has taken so many years to develop the peace I have in my heart.  My husband has been by my side for close to 45 years.  Our kids have become amazing people who are kind and thoughtful.  Our grandkids are a joy to watch grow up learning about their strengths and hurdles.

It is so simple to say “enjoy your day” it is harder to actually live it.  I will do my best ……..

Our Yard —
My Happy Place


Family Is Everywhere

Sometimes family is not related by blood. You can meet them in the grocery store, the park, or like me this week, on vacation at a campground.  Everywhere I turn there are happy people who love their time here.  That has become so rare in my world.

Simple Life

Most people I see are in a hurry to get to their next thing.  Listening and paying attention to others has become rare.  Isolation has become normal and add to that social media, you can fake that you have friends and listening is replaced with a “like” symbol.

As I have always known, every person has a story to tell.  This week there are many that have openly told theirs.  Some have kept us laughing while others brought tears and empathy.  Each campsite is unique and radiates an individual welcome sign for all who pass by.  The common denominator though are patios with lights that twinkle saying “come on in — tell us about yourself.”

When did neighborhoods become so unfriendly? Why does different mean fear? Why are backyards empty?  Isolation has become an accepted daily ritual.  That safety net is the road to loneliness.

Everyone Welcome

I am convinced it is time to change the community atmosphere. Every block should designate the house where everyone feels welcomed and finds real social interaction.  Walking in the door means turning off the TV and cell phone — listening to individual stories of the week.

Re-learning a feeling of community will feel like riding a bike.  It won’t be hard to remember how to do it.

Kindness Is Contagious — Sherry Carver


What I’ve Learned So Far-May 24

What I’ve Learned So Far…. May 24

Being ORGANIZED brings me peace — I know what I have and take the time to think an extra minute before buying more ……


Being CURIOUS keeps me moving forward even if I don’t feel like it ……


Being BRAVE has given me courage to take on jobs just to see if they fit me . . . it also helps me say no when my gut finally tells me to ….


Being KIND brings silent rewards that last an entire lifetime.

“Kind” by Sherry Carver 2020


My four favorite words ….


When Movies Matter

. . . Memories
May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply to choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were”
Songwriters: Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman.

Tonight is the Oscar Ceremony.  I used to be glued to this award show and would never miss it.  I tried hard to watch all the movies that were being honored.  I treated it like a holiday and made sure dinner was special.

I now barely watch the show.  What happened?  Did I lose interest?  Have reality shows ruined the medium?  Does the ability to stream so much content overwhelm me?  Did social media and all of it’s revelations ruin my imagination?

For so long, movies were my escape into a world that I always thought of as magical.  The stars of the movie seemed impossible to know — they were mysterious and their private lives were unknown for the most part.  They could be who I saw in the movie — even if for just a little while.

I pictured being a kid in “The Sound of Music” and the family escaping into happiness through their music.  I wanted to be the girl who made everyone laugh in “Funny Girl” and develop strength to carry on in the face of heartbreak.  I could see myself saving my family from ruin in “Gone With The Wind” and being Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” who longed for the feeling of home.

My parents own divorce came the same year as “The Way We Were” and my tears rolled uncontrollably when Katie and Hubbell decided they were never going to compromise enough to stay together — they could not find their way back to each other and although it stung, it opened the door to healing my own heart.

It is important to escape thoughts — it is not unrealistic to believe that everything will turn out okay in the end — dreaming that you are like the people you admire is essential to finding out what you are made of.   The opportunity for many takes before making decisions is always your own choice.



Alone Days For Mom

Every now and then I find the need for an alone day.  My life is very structured at this moment and I feel happy to break free  and have a day with no particular plan.

I think my entire family gets a signal from the universe when I pack up my IPad and head to my favorite coffee shop to write.  They follow me there — they want to be a part of my day.  How can I turn that down? I like talking to them one on one outside of the house.  They feel heard when it is just me without the interruptions that happen at home.  They are there to absorb my energy and not rush the conversations. I value these times more than they will ever know.

I learned a valuable tool with my family relationships.  Don’t give away every detail — leave them wanting more facts/ideas/stories.  Too many words get lost on my kids and husband.  They are looking for fresh takes on life and a back and forth discussion — not an entire history of my life and how I made it to this point.  Listening is the key to keeping them close.  Silence allows for full thoughts to be spoken and heard.

There is the inevitable break when I know they are done.  A look at a watch , a deep breath or a move away from the table is my signal.  I have learned to let them go at that moment.  Leave them wanting a next time — leave them walking away with a new perspective — leave them knowing they are valued and loved.

Transitions are hard for me.  I don’t like to let go of the moment.  My close relationships are with my husband and kids because they give me honest feedback and know me well.  Other relationships are pivotal and are tied to sharing common interests.  I have been burned many times when I divulge too much and gave more than was necessary or wanted. I would rather spend time alone than feel hurt or rejected simply for being me.  Is that what you call growing up? Content? Feeling at Peace?

I don’t need to prove my worth to them.  I feel it.  I see it in their eyes.  Time is going fast.  It’s not always the words that are remembered but the feelings from the moments that are cherished on both sides of the conversation.

Adventure — My Word For 2023

Adventure has never been a word in my vocabulary.  I am familiar with the sound of responsible, organized, reliable, loyal and love.  I have not been able to just live for the moment. If I have free time you will find me at my computer, figuring out budgets and spending.

I have an E-Bike — it’s collecting dust in the garage.  I have a gym membership that is free — I go maybe twice a week.  I am surrounded by hiking trails — I never discover where they start and where they end.  In order to begin exploring, I need to step away from the computer.

Maybe yoga or kayaking . . . where are those hiking trails?

The problem is I always start with ideas — My brain has a thousand of them.

It’s the actual doing that makes me freeze.

It’s time to jump into the deep end.  What am I waiting for . . . time is moving fast.  I will regret not finding out what I am like as a risk taker.

When Home Comforts Your Adult Children

I looked around and was so grateful that we did not downsize and sell our family home.  Many times it has been a haven for our adult children as a place to land, rest and recharge to get back out into the world.

It is okay to need this in life.  I longed for my childhood family home in Long Beach and drive by it often.  Stepping into the house you grew up in brings back daydreams and memories.  I went through so many phases — I wanted to be a nun, a teacher, a dancer and the possibility of all of those choices was real.  Being outside all day was filled with adventure.

At some time or another all of our four children have had to come home for a bit.  It was always a bit stressful but it cemented their desire to be back out on their own as soon as they had spent enough time sitting on the couch, with the remote, thinking.

Life never follows a straight road — no matter how well the plan is.

When we bought this house we had a plan. We had no idea if it would work or last this long. This is the house we bought together after each of us had been divorced.  We raised his, mine and ours the best we could.  It was not smooth nor what each of us needed at times but it was familiar and filled with love and good intentions.

Family gathering place

Now the four grandkids are growing up with a sense of fun and wonder in the remodeled house.  We renovated about 10 years ago and it turned out to be magical.  An art room for him and an office for me.  Seems as we’ve gotten older we needed more space to stretch our creativity.  So many lives have been nurtured here and I can’t imagine a moving truck coming to take it all apart.




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