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With Open Hands: Part 1

Kristen Milligan

Kristen Milligan "With Open Hands" at 2011 NYC IOH Retreat

With Open Hands: Part 1

A few years ago I was in a book study with a few people who read the book “With Open Hands” by Henri Nouwen. I was a new mom at the time with my first son about 15 months old. He was at that “separation anxiety” stage where he clung to me every time the threat of me leaving him arose. When I started the book it was a confusing time for me with this baby boy of mine needing me so much on a daily basis, yet I was learning about having “open hands”. This normal developmental stage of course eventually passed, but while we were “in it” life was a day to day trial and error experiment of how much to let go & how much to let him cling to me.

I’m sure some of you relate to this idea of attempting to strike a balance between learning to let go & keeping loved ones close. It’s not an easy task, that I think I will struggle with possibly for my entire life, especially in regards to my little ones.

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In Loving Memory of Kristen Milligan

Today we grieve the death of Kristen Milligan, co-founder of Inheritance of Hope.  Kristen died on Friday, October 26, 2012.  Hers was a life well-lived.

After retiring from her first career of training guide dogs for the visually impaired and deaf-blind to become a full-time mom, Kristen was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer in stage 4 on March 18, 2003 -- her 30th birthday.  For the next 10 years, Kristen was dedicated to helping families navigate life-threatening illnesses, beginning with her own children.  She wrote A Train's Rust, A Toy Maker's Love to communicate about illness and death with her then four-year-old daughter Ashlea, two-year-old son Luke, and seven-month-old daughter Rebecca.  She wrote another book for children and one for adults about her experiences.  Kristen also was a poised speaker who shared her story with audiences around the United States and internationally.

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Life Legacies

I received the following on a card from my grandmother and I have had it displayed next to my bed since then.  It really spoke to me.

Live Deep

Never stop learning, playing, or finding wonder in the world around you.  Live the length of your life, but live the depth of it as well.

Travel Light

There is no use in carrying around worry and regret.  They only weigh you down.  Always keep yourself open to hope and to love.  They give us wings.

Forgive Imperfections

In yourself and others.  Imperfections keep things interesting.  They're the cracks where the light shines through.

Own Beautiful Things

And not just to keep in the drawer, tucked away for a perfect day.  Surround yourself with things that make you happy, that remind you of the beauty all around us if we only keep our eyes open to it.

Make Mistakes

Follow detours. Sometimes it take an unexpected turn to help us find the life that is waiting for us around the bend.  Trust yourself and the path that is meant for you.

Take Care of Yourself

And sometimes that means you need the ice cream.  Be good to your body, but also your mind and spirit.  You're the only one who can.

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Tides and Waves

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I just spent a few days at the beach with my family for Spring Break. It was wonderful! My parents recently moved into a condo that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and I really enjoyed standing out on their balcony and listening to the waves come in and out constantly.

Sometimes they were gentle and other times they were quite rough, but one thing was certain, they were never still.  The waves kept coming and the tide rose and fell.

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Hop in the Saddle

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My oldest, 9-year-old Elizabeth, has always loved horses.  She even chose to have a horse-themed birthday party when she turned 6 years old.

Despite her love for horses, she has never actually ridden a full-size horse.  Well, this summer Adam and I decided she was old enough to handle the responsibility and danger associated with this sport so we signed her up for a week long horse camp at our local equestrian center.  Her Granny and Aunt Erica hooked her up with some sweet cowgirl boots and trendy new bedazzled t-shirt.

As we drove to camp on the first morning I asked if she was nervous.

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Hard Rock Cafe

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Times Square was hopping tonight!  After our meeting time together we headed down to Times Square Hard Rock Cafe and it was the place to be!!! There were people everywhere.  Many of us got to see ourself on the HUGE electronic billboard as we walked through the crowded square.  Some of us even watched a man propose to a woman right there in the middle of Times Square with a camera projecting them onto the big screen.  (She said, "Yes")

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June 27: Leaving a Legacy

"Every Family Deserves a Legacy"®
Three days ago, we were all relative strangers, and now we are a family -- a family that has laughed together, cried together, played together, and learned together. We have all been challenged to look at our lives and consider the legacy we want to leave behind. Certainly that legacy involves a lot of fun and great memories, but it also involves some intentional planning and action.
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