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The Day After Election Day

3 Nov

Voting ClipartNext Tuesday is Election Day in the United States. Like many Americans, I am both relieved and worried. Living in Ohio, we are inundated by both candidates, and our phone is ringing hourly to tell me how horrible the candidates are. Every television break has at least one political ad and our mailbox is filled with flyer after flyer. Does anyone think that these efforts really change anything? It doesn’t for me, except to make me dislike the person who is wasting my time and flooding my home with their rhetoric. I know where to go to find out the candidates’ platform. I know who to talk to if I want the liberal or the conservative perspective. I have never been swayed by a piece of paper or phone call, but I have by a friend or family member who is more politically savvy than I am.

In the US, we have the option to vote early or absentee, and for the first time since college I would have opted for that, but I also have a first time voter in my family who wants to come home from his own college experience to vote in person at our polling place; so my husband, son and I will all go vote together. It is a right and a privilege we all take very seriously. Since I have been eligible to vote, I have only missed one day of voting because my husband was out of town, and we always vote together. I didn’t even realize it until I talked to him that night and he asked me how I voted. Unfortunately, the polls were already closed. It was mostly issues that time, but it still felt bad to have missed.

Nearly every Presidential Election year we’ve been told that it is the most important election ever, and maybe they’re right, but maybe that’s just the rhetoric we choose to believe. After all, the President doesn’t make the laws, Congress does. Does the President have influence? Absolutely, but the lawmakers of the land are the Senators and Representatives. Yes, we could debate how horrible each of the candidates is, but that isn’t the point of this post. The point of the post is that someone is going to win Tuesday night and the US will have a new commander in chief in January. Some people will be happy. Some people will be shocked, and some people will be sad and perhaps angry.
The other point is that whoever wins, that person is our president; the president of every American. You may not have voted for or even like him or her, but what if, instead of criticizing and condemning, you chose to pray for them to be wise and decent and to fulfill the office of President of the United States with dignity and grace? What if you prayed for them to surround themselves with wise and decent advisers? Not a person of faith? Send positive energy to that person instead. Send positive vibes to everyone who will support that new President. Not in this country? Pray for us to make the best choice not only for our nation, but for the entire world. Truthfully, many Americans feel we have little to no choice in this election. Many want to ask each party why they couldn’t come up with someone better, but someone who follows politics more closely than I do questioned why any decent person would want to run for President of the United States. The media will attack every word and deed and  spin bad situations in your past to make them look much worse and some outlets that call themselves news will publish rumors as if they are truth. What kind of people would want to subject themselves to that type of onslaught? In addition, you subject your family to that scrutiny as well, so unless they are also squeaky clean and have incredibly thick skins, they are targets for the media trolls too, and that’s not even including social media and the hate that can spew there. We’re one of the most G-rated family I know, and I certainly wouldn’t want my children to have to deal with that.

Instead, I hope that whoever becomes President will work to heal the ugliness that has run rampant during this election. I hope that neighbors, friends and families can forgive one another. I hope that as the robo-political calls subside, we can all move forward in a kinder way. If I could, I would vote for that. Since I can’t, I will instead remind you that the book will be published very soon, and the new blog will launch sooner than that. I have no idea where it all will lead, but I plan to have lots of fun along the way. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Good Enough

6 Oct
dsc_0203

A more than good enough place to write a blog post

If you’ve ever taken a class or read anything about becoming more efficient or effective in your life, you’ve probably read about time management techniques, but the most profound thing I ever heard about time management is that you cannot manage time. Everyone has the same amount of hours, minutes and seconds in each day, and although we each spend a different number of those days on the planet, in each given day, we all have 24 hours. The key, then, is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves during that time, and there are so many factors that can affect our ability to do that well. As I always do, I want to make it clear that I understand that people who have mitigating factors such as illnesses, physical challenges or who have other legitimate challenges may be an exception to what I’m about to share, but I think the information is quite relevant for the rest of us.

Have you ever heard the expression that if you want to change some things in your life you have to change some things in your life? I love that expression for its simplicity and truth, but sometimes we don’t know the things we have to change to achieve the results we desire, and that can be quite a problem. For years I struggled with cleaning and being organized. Truth be told, organizing still doesn’t come naturally to me (more on that at a later date). I tried being like my mom, my mother in law and a few other people I know that were really good at keeping house, and I failed miserably. I was nearly ready to give up when I found a system that worked for me. Why did everything else fail while that worked? For me, this system seemed to understand how I thought and helped me be successful being me, not trying to be like someone else. You see, the people I had tried to emulate before were good at cleaning. They are very task oriented people and the task of keeping up with the house came easy to them. I learned how to keep house from someone like me who found that more challenging. I had to learn how to manage a part of me I’d never managed before, and it was very difficult at first, but not only have I mastered the basics of that, I’ve actually learned to be happy while I’m working because I know it will only take a little bit of time to accomplish what I’ve set out to accomplish, and that may be the biggest accomplishment of all. You see, I used to hate cleaning because I was convinced I wasn’t good enough at it. I’ve never seen the point of scrubbing a floor with a toothbrush or having a perfect dust ruffle. I know people that take great pride in having homes like that, and I applaud them for that but it’s just not that important to me. Yes, my bed is made every day. No, you cannot bounce a quarter off of it. Yes, my home is mostly company ready on most days. No, the counters aren’t clear and yes, there are a few small piles of paperwork. I’m happy with my home and I’ve learned the concept of good enough.

For a good part of my life I never felt good enough. I was a good student, but because I didn’t get straight A’s all the time, that wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t thin enough, despite the fact that I had a 22 inch waist and 35 inch hips. Even when I cleaned up my room or the bathroom, I usually had more to do because it wasn’t good enough. It became a never ending cycle that I bought into and piled onto, and it made for some very tense times in my life when I was trying to be good enough knowing at the same time I could and would not be. It’s amazing when we believe this about ourselves how we attract the very things that confirm our beliefs. I dated men who didn’t always treat me well. I had jobs that paid me less than I was worth. I struggled to keep my home in shape, and I put on weight, lots of it over time. It wasn’t until I heard the expression about changing some things in my life that I began to truly change some things in my life, and as I changed the outside, I began to feel changes on the inside. As I learned ways to clean, I began to realize that I could keep a house; it might not be the way anyone else did it, but I could do it and I could feel good about it. I actually began to feel I was good enough at doing something, even if that thing seemed like a small thing in the grand scheme of life, and the real success wasn’t from learning or accomplishing anything. The real success was from the shift in thinking of myself as a failure to thinking of myself as capable and good enough.

It took me several years to get to that point, but since then, we have shifted our energy in so many ways. We used those same principles to pay off $30,000+ of credit card debt in three years and to send our children to college without debt so far. I used that thought process to write and publish two books, and let me tell you, there were some real battles there. While writing the books I found out so many areas I still had thoughts of doubt. I wondered if they would be any good or if anyone would want to read them let alone buy them. I even doubted whether I could handle my life if the book actually became successful as well, but I did it, and I survived it, and with the current book, I’ve been able to take it a step further. With this book, I liken it to a flower blooming. It takes a lot of energy and effort for a flower to bloom, but the flower blooms anyway, without pain or anguish and no matter what it looks like, some will judge it to be beautiful and some will judge it to be less than that. It doesn’t change anything about the flower whether it is a dandelion or a rose. I am aware that this book and the two that have come before it will never win a Nobel Prize or even a National Book Award. I write because I believe I was born to do it, and I love doing it, and hopefully it helps a person or two along the way. I don’t need the awards or even to sell a million books to validate anything about my writing anymore. Would it be nice? Of course it would, but that isn’t the point anymore.

So what do I get from this energy shift to good enough? I get peace and fulfillment. I am living my dream of being a writer by writing every day. It may not support me financially today or ever, but it does support me mentally, emotionally and even physically because of the way I’ve grown as a writer. It is ultimately important to me and not important at all to the world. To realize that you are merely a blip in the world of writing is incredibly empowering because it allows you to write your truth knowing the vast majority of humanity may never read it, and because of that, all you have to do is write or paint or do whatever it is you dream of doing.

Last year, a friendship I treasured came to an end. At the time, I was broken hearted and wanted so badly to find a way to make things better. I felt that if I could mend that relationship, all would be well in my world again. I was talking on the phone to my husband about it, trying desperately to figure out what to do when I literally got hit in the rear end by another car. I hung up with my husband and jumped out of the car to check the damage. The young man who had hit me was a young man of color, and we were in a part of town where the police were not known to be gentle to anyone of any color. There was a dent in the back of my minivan, but the door still worked and the boy looked scared. Truth be told, I was scared for him. He was the same age as one of my sons, and I couldn’t call the cops. I told the young man that I felt like I was supposed to ask him to turn down his music and pay better attention to the road, but that I was supposed to forgive him, give him a hug and send him on his way, so I did, and when I got back in the car I burst into tears. I called my husband back and hoped he wouldn’t be mad at me for letting the young man off the hook. Instead, he laughed and told me the Divine had figuratively kicked me in the behind to show me who I really was as a person. How could he be angry about that? It was then that I started to realize it wasn’t only that young man who I needed to forgive. I needed to forgive my friend for whatever I perceived she had done, and I had to forgive myself for whatever she perceived I had done. It took a while and much reminding of that accident to get there, but I did, and when I did, everything changed. My second book came together in just a couple of months, and my life has been amazing since. I hope it has been the same for my friend because I believe she was part of that lesson for me. I hope we get the chance to be friends again someday, but even if we don’t, I will cherish the friendship we had and the lessons and gifts it gave to me. For now that will just have to be good enough. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

When Priorities Collide

29 Sep

dsc_0075When I list my priorities, my marriage, my family and my spiritual health are all at the top. Not far behind is living up to your commitments. In our family we have athletes and musicians who are also students and employees, and we’ve had numerous discussions about which priorities come first. Every once in a while, we have to put those priorities to the test, or maybe those priorities put us to the test. This weekend was one of those occasions.

If you know me, you know that I feel like I hit the mother in law lottery. My mother in law does not fit any of the negative mother in law stereotypes. She loves my husband dearly and has been known to fuss at him on occasion, mostly because she would like to see him more, but she has never fussed at me. She has never criticized me or treated me with anything but respect. She has never told me how to raise my children, except to remind me that my time with my kids is limited and to enjoy them as much as I can. No, she isn’t perfect, but she never claimed to be, and because of that, neither do I. This past week was my mother in law’s 85th birthday, and Saturday was her birthday party. Both of my older sons came home from college to attend mass with their grandma and then attend her party. My youngest was there too, in spite of having a band competition, but that band competition became a lesson for us all.

A few weeks ago, we sent an email that my son would be missing that competition. One of the band directors met with my son and decided that he could go to mass and then he could meet the band at the competition, nearly an hour away. They did not take into account that my son couldn’t drive himself so he wouldn’t be the only one missing the party. They did not know that there would be pictures taken of the birthday girl and her family at the party and that there would be nearly 100 family members present. They did not know, nor did we, that by the time we finished the pictures and had a bit of dinner, the band would already be taking the field, but we made the decision that my son would stay with his family, and the band would have to compete without him. If you know anything about marching band, you might think about the fact that the band could have a hole in its formation, but my son is in the front ensemble. You might also think that the band might sound different, but our front ensemble uses microphones so they can adjust. We thought of all of that, but we also thought of something else. In ten years, no one will remember that my son missed that competition, and if they do, it will have no emotional impact; they might, however, remember my son missed the party and there could be emotional impact there. How do I know? Been there; done that people.

Nineteen and a half years ago, I became a mother for the second time. Four days after my son was born, I was coaching a club volleyball game. It was also my father’s 54th birthday, and his third week in hospice care. The tournament was supposed to be over by five, but it lasted until seven. We were an hour from the hospice location, and I was exhausted, as were my three year old, newborn and husband. I called my dad to wish him a happy birthday and to let him know we would see him the next day for his party, and I could hear the disappointment in his voice. I was so tired, though, that I couldn’t bring myself to make the trip. Instead we went home, collapsed into bed and had a great time at the party the next day. Less than three weeks later, my dad was gone, and I had missed his last birthday. Nineteen and a half years later, I have forgiven myself for a bad decision, not because I took care of myself that evening, but because I went to the tournament in the first place. I don’t remember much about the day, but I remember the phone call vividly, and I am teaching my children to have different priorities so they don’t have to forgive themselves for making bad choices like their mama did.

Yesterday, I attended a workshop on time management and organization for bloggers and was introduced to the 10-10-10 rule. Basically, if you have a decision to make, you ask yourself, will it matter in 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years if I make this decision? When I look at my past decision to coach rather than spend time with my father, I know I made the wrong decision for me. When I look at the decision we made this past weekend regarding my son’s band competition, I know we made the right decision for our family, and there’s a funny part to that. We are so conditioned to fear punishment that the threat of an unexcused absence from band almost made us make a different decision until we realized that an unexcused absence from band really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of life. We got so caught up in trying to be good that we almost made a decision that was not good at all, and we would have missed so much good because of it.

We would have missed seeing cousins we haven’t seen since their mother’s funeral several years ago. We would have missed seeing how happy my mother in law was to be surrounded by those who love her most. We would have missed getting hugs from our godchildren and seeing the expressions on our family members’ faces as my son, who is 22, grab a beer when they still think of him as a baby. Most of all, we would have missed showing our son that his crazy, huge family is important, very important, and today, I wouldn’t change that for anything.

For those who are following the journey, the book is getting close to being finished and ready for editing. I’m hoping it will publish in a few weeks. You can follow the journey on Facebook by joining our Happiest Holidays page. I’m also looking into starting another blog about travel because I was raised to have a bit of the gypsy in me and I feel the wanderlust rising again. Who knows where that journey will take me, but I hope you’ll come along for the ride. Until next week, thanks for being you and have a great day!

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