Tag Archives: Hope

Routines, Jealousy and Minding My Own Business

4 Aug

full tableMonday brought a return to routine, sort of. Band camp started for my youngest, so we’re going to bed earlier, getting up earlier and things are beginning to fall into place. While I’m not a fan of 12 hour days for band camp, I am a fan of the good things that are happening in my home. The house looks better than it has in weeks. My weight seems to be heading in the right direction again, for the most part, and the heart of my home is getting clearer and clearer. If you have been reading my blog for very long, you know that the heart of my home is my kitchen table. It is covered with stuff. Some of it is easy to address and some will take more time. There are forms to fill out for school, which I’m finding are causing me more aggravation than I would like to admit. Maybe it’s justified. Maybe I’m a weirdo. Maybe there are people who actually enjoy this activity, but not me. I only have to do this two more times and I will be celebrating when I am finished for life next year.

That is one of the things that I feel like makes me a weirdo. I tend to celebrate endings like this. I know people who cry when their youngest goes to school for the first time. The first time I took my youngest to preschool, they literally had to peel him away from me, and I walked away without a tear. I love that kid more than I can express, but that morning, I was ready to walk away from nine years with a full time child for two and a half hours alone and kid free. I felt the same way when my youngest went to kindergarten but cried when I dropped my oldest off at college. That oldest son will graduate in December, and I have no idea how I will react. I am proud of how hard he has worked in school to get good grades and in jobs, co-ops and internships to help pay his expenses. I know this young man will do well in life, but the fact that he is getting married next year could complicate that emotionally. Life will change for him, for me and for our entire family. I remember this time of life when the world is full of possibilities, and you feel like your time is unlimited. I still believe the world is full of possibilities, but I am much more aware that my time on this earth will have an end, and it changes how I live.

Last month sucked. My youngest had surgery. I put on five pounds, and our dog passed. In the grand scheme of life, these are not huge things. My son’s surgery went fine. I know what to do to reverse the weight gain. Our dog passed peacefully, and it was her time to go, but I let those things throw me off a bit. I seem to have that problem every July, and I finally figured out why. I’ve been too long without routines. Understand, I have a love-hate relationship with routines. If I feel like they are controlling and keep me from living my best life, it will be a struggle. If I feel they are life enhancing, I’ve learned to embrace them. It took me years to come to peace with my routines, but once I did, life got better. When I learned how to infuse some fun into them, the progress got even better still. It’s not just the routines, though. The bigger part of the success is because of minding my own business. Isn’t it interesting how that phrase has developed such a negative tone? Telling someone to mind their own business is nearly akin to telling them to go to hell. Ironically, it’s precisely when we stop minding our own business that we often end up in a hell of our own making.

This week I read a post on social media that made me very jealous. This person was about to accomplish something I desperately want to accomplish. To protect their privacy, I won’t even reveal what the accomplishment was, but let’s just say it brought out the green eyed monster in me. Understand that I didn’t want to take away their accomplishment, I just wanted to have it too, but I’ve made different choices in my life which has led me in a different direction, at least temporarily. Fortunately for me, someone also posted a video by Chelsea Handler about jealousy this week, and it was beautiful. Chelsea isn’t known for her sage eloquence. She is known for her quick and sometimes cutting wit, but this video was fantastic in a different way. She tells a story about another female comedian getting something she wanted and how she felt jealous. She called her sister and confessed her jealousy, and rather than condemning her, Chelsea’s sister said that her jealousy was understandable. She also said, however, that acting upon that jealousy would be wrong, and that, to me, is the power of the video. We all have negative feelings. We get angry and jealous and offended. Unfortunately, we have become a society that thinks when we feel these feelings, it’s ok to lash out at who we think caused them rather than ask why we feel that way in the first place.

Everyone has a go to negative emotion. Some people get sad, which can lead to depression. Some people get angry, which can lead to aggression. Some people get jealous, which can lead to retaliation. Some people get offended, which can lead to isolation. We all do it. Confession? My go to negative emotion is anger. When I’m out of balance, I am quick to anger. My fuse has gotten longer as I’ve gotten older because perspective is a beautiful thing, but it still happens. What my family has come to learn is that my anger is usually short lived. I forgive when someone has made me angry, and I apologize for things I say that might be hurtful. I’ve also worked on not saying things that hurt others. I still do it on occasion, now without intention, but I do what I can to make amends. I’m far from perfect, but we all need things to keep us growing, right? If you have the chance, please take a moment to google Chelsea Handler and jealousy. I hope it helps you as much as it did me.

So, now that I expressed my jealousy, and I did, to my husband, poor man, I am ready to mind my own business again. I spent hours going through and following through on paperwork yesterday, and I made progress. Today I will again spend hours doing the same. I don’t know if I’ll finish today or not, and from the picture, I’m sure some of you wonder what the heck is taking me so long, but it is. Instead of moving the piles, I’m addressing them, and as I do, I feel better and better. I feel like I’m in control of my home again, and I feel like I can move forward with more ease. I begin to see my blessings as I pay bills, make donations and finish the school forms ahead of schedule. I can concentrate on my creative endeavors and let go of the guilt that the piles have caused. I can let go of the jealousy of someone else’s success because I am focused on my own, and I feel freer and am having more fun than I have in a long time, just because I’ve returned to routines. For a girl who used to hate routines, I find great humor in that, but I am also incredibly grateful because I can pay it forward and share it with you. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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When Life Calls

7 Apr

follow_your_dreamsSome years just seem to float by. You’re in what I call cruising mode. Life is pretty routine and that can be a great thing. I had those years when my boys were younger. We were doing the sports thing and the music thing and having a wonderful time being a family. Since 2012, life has been different. Life has involved lots of change and that can be a pretty great thing too. In 2012, my oldest son graduated from high school and began his college journey. Because he attends The Ohio State University, we have been treated to watching a Big Ten conference championship live in Indianapolis. We have spent New Year’s in New Orleans to watch the first playoff game in NCAA college football history live. My middle son graduated high school and began his college career, and my youngest son has started high school, gotten his first job and will be driving soon. My husband has traveled for business all over the country, including a six month stint in Dallas when he could only come home for two days every other week; nothing like a military wife but difficult nonetheless. I’ve spent most of that time keeping everything running smoothly at home, and I’ve loved most of it. No job was ever as fulfilling for me as being a wife and mom. I know that isn’t the case for everyone, but it has been for me. Even the thought of having a job was stressful, until recently.

As my youngest son began high school, I had more time on my hands. I thought I might be ready to do what so many of the women I knew had done and get a job to help with college costs, but nothing sparked my interest. Some people might say, just pick something, but at my age, I know myself well. I get bored easily with jobs that don’t interest me. I’ve taken jobs hoping I could work my way into other positions, and it never ended well. After learning about my son’s ADHD, I understand why things happened the way they did, but I didn’t want to get a job only to change jobs every two to three years for the rest of my life. I knew with the empty nest coming soon, I wanted to do something, but I was struggling with which way to go. I always admired women who could apply for a job as an administrative assistant, teacher’s aide, food service worker or retail worker and be happy doing that for years and years. I’ve done most of those jobs, and after a year or two, I wanted to tear my hair out. The routine of it was maddening. I wanted variety, and those jobs, although every day was different, didn’t do it for me. For a long time I thought something was truly wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be like everyone else? That thought makes me chuckle now because raising my children has taught me something very meaningful about people. Everyone has different needs, and those needs are neither good nor bad, they just are. Some people thrive with constant routine. It gives them a sense of power and purpose to be able to count on their days being basically the same. Other people need variety and differing levels of excitement, and we need all of those people in this world.

The people who thrive on routine keep the world in order. The people who thrive on variety keep the world growing and changing. Both are necessary for our survival. The routine people keep the variety people grounded, and the variety people inspire the routine lovers to grow. I admire the routine people and have even adopted a few routines of my own, but at heart, I’m in the variety camp. If I could pay someone to do the routine things for me, I would. I have a friend who is incredibly wealthy and the only thing of hers I have ever coveted is the woman she pays to come to her home every day and keep it in order. Someday, I plan to pay someone to do that for me, although, having to create routines of my own has been a great learning experience. For me, the idea of a routine used to bring out the rebel in me. I didn’t want to do the boring cleaning, laundry and dishes. I didn’t see the point until I visited a few houses where those things didn’t get done and I realized I did not want to live that way either. Some people watch an episode of Hoarders and think their house looks ok. I watch an episode of Hoarders and want to get rid of everything. The key is balance, and I’ve found a way to do that. I spend a minimum of 15 minutes each day on house upkeep and more time when I have it to keep our home in order so I can move on to other, more fun things for me to do. Errands are not a problem for me. They get me out among people and that always makes me happy, but routines come first or they won’t get done. If I have to be out early, that isn’t a problem anymore because I can miss a day or two without anyone noticing, but daily attention is a beautiful thing because it frees me to have a life. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly works for me. It means no marathon cleaning days on Saturday or Sunday. It means I can have family time without guilt about all the things I “should” be doing. It took a while to get here, but here is a great place, and it set me up to answer the Divine calling I believe is the direction I’m headed next.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I write every day. I have published one book. I blog. I journal, and recently, I have written another manuscript that I will be sending to my business coach later today. I hesitated to write that I had a coach helping me because it sounded pretentious at first, but here’s what I’ve learned about experts and coaches. I self-published my first book. I took a course that helped me with the writing and organization of the book and it was fantastic. I could have invested more money in the process and paid professionals to edit my manuscript, create my book cover and help me market the end product. I chose to do it myself which took much longer because I didn’t have most of the skill sets needed to do it quickly. I made less money and less of an impact because I didn’t understand current marketing and how to bring a book to market successfully. I’m still proud of what I accomplished and still love that first book, but this time I’m paying the professionals to do the things they do well. I feel like part of a team, and I feel like the team is invested in my success. For a writer, that is new and often unusual. We are used to doing things on our own, sometimes feeling adrift from humanity. It’s a life some embrace but not me. I like this team effort, and I’m excited to see this book come to life. The tentative launch date is May 5th, just in time for Mother’s Day and since this book is a love letter to many of the mothers I’ve known, that suits me just fine.

I’ve also answered another Divine call on my life, and that one is proving to be more challenging. I have wanted to be a speaker for a long time. I know, most people are terrified of speaking in front of people. I find it energizing. I want to encourage women, particularly stressed and overwhelmed moms and help them live the life of their dreams. I’ve been doing that for many years, and it is the best way to live. Recently, I was given the opportunity to participate in a course that will help me design a system to help those moms. The course will help me put the knowledge I have in a cohesive format that can help others. What could be better than that, right? Well, here’s what I know about trying new things. It can be scary, and I admit that working with yet another coach and creating this system is stretching me in ways I hadn’t imagined. I am having to dig deep, but I’m also learning that so many of the people in the course have the same fears and resistance I do. So many of us grew up being told what we couldn’t do rather than being encouraged to see what we could. Now, in our 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond, we are breaking out of old patterns to follow our dreams. The support is incredible and the attendees are helpful and amazing, but I was still feeling afraid to charge for what I had been giving away for free for so long. I was wondering why anyone would pay for me to teach them this until one woman asked a beautiful question. She asked if I believed in my content, and I do. Everything I talk about has changed my life for the better, and she suggested that I let my faith in the content be my guide and merely allow myself to be the delivery system. Have you ever had a moment when everything becomes radically clear and it feels like the Universe is speaking directly to you? I had that moment, and every time I feel like I’m headed back to that place of fear and resistance, I remember that revelation and I hang onto it as tightly as I can. I’m behind on the course, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not as seasoned as some of the other participants, but that means nothing. I’m relatively unknown, but who cares? I believe in the content because I know how powerful it can be, and I am also beginning to embrace the idea that the Divine doesn’t call the qualified. The Divine qualifies the called.

I am being called, and it is a huge adventure, but it is also a call to walk my talk. I’m using my time better. I’m making every day count. I wake up each day ready for the new and exciting things I’m going to learn. I’m living every day fully, and I am falling into bed delightfully exhausted every night. It gets scary now and then, but there’s a team to help me out when I don’t know how to proceed with the book or the course. There’s a tribe or two online that will help me out when my confidence is low, and there is a family inside my four walls when I need some extra love. Finally, there is the Divine team that fuels all of them and me, and I am most grateful for that Divine call, guidance and love. Being a wife and mother has been the most amazingly beautiful journey I could have asked for, and now I’m being called to help others have the same experience. It feels huge some days, and I’m not sure I’m up to it, but I keep moving forward. I keep answering the call, and occasionally, I call back and ask for help, sometimes really big help, and it always comes because that’s the other thing I figured out. Not only does life call on you to step it up, but that conversation is not one sided. Call back and ask for the help. Ask for what you need. Believe the Divine can and will give it to you and then be willing to receive. Change your mind and change your life. What an amazing idea, and it works! I hope you’ll try it. I hope you get everything you desire, and I hope you make the world a better place because of it. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Looking for the Miracles and Blessings

25 Feb

Every day we decide who to be. Every day we decide what to do. Every day we live on purpose or we react to whatever life throws at us, and sometimes life challenges us to change in big ways. I’ve been through so many of those times, and here are a few things I’ve learned about myself. I don’t do drama well. I am an animated person and can tell a great story, but drama confuses me. I have seen family members and friends say the most horrible things about each other, fight and argue and call each other names and then see them going out to dinner or going on vacation with one another and posting about what a great time they’re having. How can you be so angry at someone one day and the next week talk about how much you love them? I don’t get it. Perhaps because I’m naïve enough to believe what people tell me, I don’t realize they are embellishing the situation or spinning it to make themselves look good and the other person look bad. I get that we all have a tendency to think we’re right and the other person is wrong, but I have never understood being mean to one another one day and being best friends the next. My son has a t-shirt with a picture of a rock, a piece of paper and a pair of scissors on it with the caption: Can’t We All Just Get Along? He picked it out, but I love that shirt and its sentiment and wish the world could take a note from it.

In the US and maybe in other parts of the world, something strange seems to be happening. We seem to have confused unconditional love with unconditional support. I have seen and heard parents say that they support their children no matter what, and I find that terrifying. I love my children and always will, but if they’re messing up, it’s my job as a parent to let them know and to help them change their behavior. Just recently, I know someone who had to make the heartbreaking decision to help put their own adult child in jail because they had stolen money to support a heroin addiction. This person loves that child, and it was no easy decision, but this person also knows that their child will continue to repeat the behavior unless the pattern is broken. By sending the child to jail, they are forced to break patterns and are afforded programs to heal the addiction. Those of us who care for this family are praying that this person gets the help they need to live a healthier life when they come back to us. The parent still loves the child but refused to support bad behavior.

As a parent, I’ve had some difficult discussions with my children. When we’ve talked about their maturing relationships, we’ve said things that embarrass them, especially when we talk about the possibility of their girlfriends getting pregnant. It’s uncomfortable, but here’s the bottom line for us. We believe that people make mistakes but the Divine does not. We believe that if there is a baby conceived that life was meant to be. Yes, we’ll be disappointed and angry, but our love is greater than the moment and we will welcome that child. We will also hold our children accountable for that child emotionally and financially. We have those conversations early and often so that our children think about their actions, what precautions they would need to take if necessary and what the consequences of not taking precautions could be. It’s a way to help our children mature emotionally, knowing we will love them but not support bad behavior. We’ve also had the discussion that their girlfriend might decide not to keep the baby or even have the baby and how we would deal with that as well.

On the subject of uncomfortable conversations, this week, I was watching a video on increasing productivity, and the speaker said something that really ticked me off. He said that if you are overweight, it’s because you are emotionally immature. Truth be told, I wanted to smack him. I am overweight and have struggled with my weight for over twenty years. Last year, I was able to lose a significant amount of weight for the first time in decades. In approximately six weeks, I lost twenty five pounds. I was so incredibly proud of myself, but then the holidays came. Thanksgiving followed by a vacation followed by Christmas and New Years and my college boys being home stalled everything and actually put some of the pounds back on. They all seem like valid reasons to put a few pounds back on, but they really are excuses, not reasons. At the beginning of this month, I dove back in and have seen much less success than I did the first time, but I realize it’s because I have been eating foods that aren’t good for me. I am “sneaking” foods that I like but inhibit the weight loss, and the thing is, I love healthy food. I just don’t like making it at times, so I grab something easy instead. For me, higher protein and lower carb is always the best way to go. Back in October, when I lost the weight, if I ate really well during the day, I gave myself the gift of a piece of chocolate after dinner. Recently, I’ve been grabbing a few tortilla chips off of my son’s afternoon plate of chips and cheese without recording them. It was only a few, so why bother, right? I’ve eaten a warm cookie out the oven or a bite of something here and there and it never gets added to the daily tally of what I’m taking in, and I wonder why the number is going the wrong way. Look, for those of us who are overweight, there are worse things that we could be than fat. We could be mean, petty, vindictive or worse, but being overweight is a symptom or better said, a result of bad behavior. We have chosen to consume more calories than our body needs to function. It seems simple and in some ways it is but in other ways it’s much more complicated.

No one sets out to be an addict or be overweight. Something triggered something and before you know it, you’re addicted, and yes, most of us who are overweight are food addicts. For me, I was addicted to nicotine until my first son was born. I gave up cigarettes for motherhood, and it was a great trade. I loved and do love being a mom, but it has always been in the back of my head that this motherhood gig was temporary. On a metaphysical level, excess weight is an indication for the need for protection, and as I think back, there were so many times when I felt afraid and needed protection. After my first child was born, like every new mother, I was afraid that I would not be a good mom so I added a few pounds. I was underweight before I got pregnant, so it wasn’t a big deal. Within a month of my second child being born, my father died at the age of 54, and I was faced with the reality of raising my children without a father and I gained a few more pounds. My third child was born five weeks early with a lifelong medical condition and a year after he was born, my husband was unemployed for a year because of 9/11 and there went a few more pounds. I look back now and see how easy it was to address my fears with food, and the pounds kept creeping up. Add some bad financial decisions and it’s no wonder as the children grew and the college bills loomed, the numbers went up on the scale. It came to a head for me last September when my husband had been living in Dallas for months with occasional trips home and my second child gone to college. I reached a weight that not only felt bad, it scared me. It was a number I thought I never would see. It was time to make a change.

At the same time I was making this change, I had the opportunity to attend a creativity bootcamp online. Although I never considered my writing that creative since it is mostly blogging and nonfiction, I decided to sign up and it was life changing. I signed up with the idea of finishing a book I had been working on for over a year. I thought I could finish the manuscript and get to the publishing process, but as the bootcamp wrapped up and I was nowhere near finished, I realized a much bigger dream for the book and figured out I had a book or two to write before diving into this one. It was amazing. I got a bit sidetracked with some personal drama and the holidays but thought with the advent of this February bootcamp I would get back on track. I have done more than I would have done without bootcamp with my writing. My goal was to finish a manuscript by the end of this month and depending on how much I write this weekend, I just might make it, but the weight is a different story. It’s stalled and this morning I figured out why. When I had the personal drama, who I am as a person was called into question. When that happens, I always take that seriously, maybe more seriously than I should. For the next two months, it seemed as though everywhere I looked was an article telling me how to be different than I am. They were articles extolling the virtues of being an introvert and often telling people how to be friends and/or deal with introverts. I am not nor do I ever see myself being an introvert, and for a good part of my life, I have been shamed for being the extrovert that I am. I have learned, especially as a writer, to enjoy solitude, but I love being around people. While my introverted friends love to throw an idea out for everyone to think about, my process involves talking it out. My wonderfully introverted husband has learned that. He knows that to truly think something through requires that I talk it out. He has learned that when I ask questions of him that may sound to him like I’m insulting him or that might be offending to someone like him, I am truly gathering information to have a better understanding of life. That process gets me in trouble now and then with other people because even though I explain it to them, they misunderstand my process. It hurts at times and has cost me a few relationships, but I’ve come to peace with it because I also have friends who do understand my process. They know when I come to them, I come to them in a spirit of resolution and love rather than conflict and judgment, and because of it, I have some pretty amazing friends and some pretty amazing relationships.

It took me several years to embrace who I am because I’m different. I’m a happy, extroverted and joy filled writer. I am this person who speaks directly and will address the elephant in the room when no one else wants to, not to shame anyone but to help everyone because if I don’t, I’m usually the one to step in the poop; even if it’s invisible. I love deeply and live as authentically as I can. Some days I do that with grace and some days I stumble over my own learning process. Like everyone else, I’m a work in progress. Some days I create beautifully as I intentionally live my life. Some days I have to constantly edit, and some days I proverbially rip the page out of the typewriter, crumple it up and throw it in the trash. I’ve learned over the years not to go back to the trash and pick out the crumpled up wad of paper because it wasn’t good in the first place, but the writing process and the edits have produced an amazing piece of work I call my life. As I learn to trust the process more, I am amazed at the blessings and miracles I have been privileged to receive and witness. My life has become this interesting journey and every day seems like a mini adventure, even and maybe especially as I face the challenges along the way. I’m realizing that that challenges are often the greater gift because within every challenge is the possibility of a miracle. Yes, I believe in miracles, and I hope you do too because one of the other things I’ve learned is that if you are not seeing miracles in your life, perhaps you have forgotten that you are one. I hope you embrace the miracles and blessings all around you and have a wonderful day, week, month, year and life. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

My Lenten Love Affair

11 Feb

To listen along, click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8295517

Those who have been reading my blog and/or listening to my radio show for a while know I have strong affection for the season of Lent. My fascination started in junior high when I learned about the Catholic practice of giving things up for Lent. Growing up in a predominantly Catholic area, I began to understand why we had alternating Fridays of fish sandwiches one week and grilled cheese with tomato soup the next at school. I watched my friends dutifully eat their meat free lunches if they bought from the school or bring the standard peanut butter and jelly if they packed. In addition, several of my friends also gave up at least one other thing, usually a treat of some kind that they liked very much but pledged not to consume during Lent. I was in awe of their self-control and self-sacrifice. I was even more in awe when they continued that practice into high school and beyond when they could have easily cheated without their parents even finding out. We learned about the sacrifice of Lent in my church, but it felt like my Catholic friends were living it, and watching my best friend give up the things she loved every year made an impression on me that lasts to this day.

Perhaps it stuck with me because I went to mass with my best friend almost as much as I went to church. You see, my friend worked on Sundays so she was required by her church and more importantly to us, by her parents, to attend mass on Saturday before we could go out and have fun. Now these were pretty smart parents because they required two things. They required that my friend bring home a bulletin, which showed them she walked in the door, but they also required her to know what the sermon was about, so not only did we have to go, we had to listen too. Then, as unfair as it seemed to me at the time, I had to go to church with my family on Sunday since the Saturday option didn’t fulfill my obligation in my parents’ eyes being that we were Protestant and all, and I got to hear the same types of sermons with a different spin.

After high school, I lost interest in religion and the practices of Lent. I still had friends who went to church and gave things up, but it wasn’t quite as fascinating. It wasn’t until I began living with my husband, who was raised Catholic, that the Lenten practice of abstinence truly became a part of my life. His family gave up candy every year and some gave up sweets entirely. That seemed to be more than I could handle so I started small with Cheetos. That may not seem like a big deal to anyone, but I ate a bag each day at work, so it wasn’t an easy task for me, especially when others around me didn’t abstain and didn’t care if I was. The thing is, when Lent was over, I continued to abstain. The same thing happened with Diet Coke the following year, and once I had done that, I quit smoking too. That was the result of my oldest child, but that’s a story for another day. The point is that because I gave up Cheetos and Diet Coke, I knew I could give up cigarettes for at least forty days. On March 11th of this year, I will be celebrating 22 years of my son’s life and of me being nicotine free. Cheetos and Diet Coke were the gateway to getting cigarettes out of my life.

So what, some might say. No big deal, others might think. For me it was a big deal. I gave up cigarettes at age 30. I had been smoking since I was 12 although I became a full blown smoker in college, but I had been smoking over half of my life. Giving up Cheetos and Diet Coke made giving up cigarettes possible. Then there was the year my husband and I gave up red meat for Lent, and we learned some things about ourselves. The first is that we will not become vegetarians unless it is forced upon us. Not only do we like meat, we both feel better when we eat it. I don’t mean to upset anyone who chooses a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, but even after seven plus weeks, we knew meat was going to be a part of our lives. We are mindful of where it is sourced and how it is processed, but it stays and it was a growing experience for us both.

Lately, I’ve seen a plethora of articles almost belittling the process of giving something up for Lent, and I understand that they are pleading for people to go beyond just giving up chocolate, coffee or carbonated drinks, but I would assert that the process can start there. You can teach sacrifice through giving up something you love. When I think of how I felt not eating red meat or Cheetos, it puts into perspective how some people go without eating anything. Giving up something you like helps you to understand how much people will do to get what they want, not to mention what they need. Our children have given up something from the time they are five, and the negotiations and bargaining they do amazes me every time. I can only imagine the lengths people would go to without the basic necessities of life, and that is what opened my mind and my heart to seeing exactly that. Once I began to understand my reactions and my children’s reactions to denying ourselves, I was open to understanding the suffering of others and the privilege of my life. You see, while I can look at others’ lives and say, “there but for the Grace of God go I”, I don’t know what it really feels like. I have been short of money, broke and wondering how I would pay my rent, but I always had friends and family who could and would help me out when I needed it, and I was always able to find a way to pay them back. Some people don’t have that. Yes, I understand that if you want to change some things in your life, you have to change some things in your life, but if you don’t even know where to begin, how do you begin?

These are the questions that Lent has helped me to ponder because while I know that Lent is about sacrifice and suffering, I also know that the final result of that sacrifice and suffering, at least in the tradition I was raised in, leads to resurrection and light, especially when we combine that sacrifice with service to our fellow human beings, and that is where the magic of Lent really happens. The other side of Lent that is becoming more and more prevalent is not just to give something up, but to add something to your spiritual practice. Some people add prayer time or reading the Bible. Some experience the Divine through animals and might volunteer at a shelter. Some might simply love nature and choose to take a walk with a bag and pick up trash along the way. Some may pick an item per day to donate to a worthy cause. What may seem small to one person may be huge to someone else. Maybe it’s as simple as smiling at someone every day and making a positive difference in this world. In my book, no matter how small the gesture, it still adds up.

This morning I read an article about how ancient Christians would fast and deny every day of Lent. They only ate one meal. If that is what you are called to do, then I say go for it as long as it doesn’t negatively affect your health, but even the Pope is calling for a different approach. He is calling for people to give up indifference and to connect with other human beings. I think that is a wonderful idea. When “we” get to know “them”, things change. We learn to appreciate one another even when we don’t or can’t understand each other’s lives. We learn what really helps and what doesn’t. We evolve and change because we can’t look at the world the same way anymore. We quit believing what the news tells us to believe and learn to understand life on a much different level because we are living it instead of having someone else tell us how life it. Lent becomes an evolution of who you are, who you want to be and how to get there. Can it all start from giving up a bag of Cheetos per day? Well, it did for me, and that’s why I have a mad and wild love affair with Lent every year.

This year, I’ve given up sausage, which doesn’t sound like much, but that has been part of my breakfast for the past six months. This year, I felt like it was time to healthy up breakfast so sausage is out. Of course, that also means no chili, spaghetti and meatballs or goetta for me either because all of them have sausage in them. By the way, for those who don’t know, goetta is a local delicacy with beef, pork (often sausage) and pin oats with seasoning. It might sound gross to some people, but we love it. That is my sacrifice, and although it doesn’t come close to giving up red meat, it’ll do. On the flip side, I’m part of a creativity bootcamp this month, so my contribution is a combination of books I’m writing. The first one is about motherhood and I’ve pledged to have it ready for the editor by the end of the month. It scares me to share that, but it’s out there and I’ll keep you updated. The other book is a collaboration about the high school to college transition in the US. A friend and I are working on it together and just when we think we know what direction we’re going, it changes a bit, so we are having fun watching this book take on a life of its own. How does that give back you might ask? Well, I’ve already talked it over with my husband and a large portion of everything I make will go to helping others. Most of the money donated will not be tax deductible. It will be in the form of gifts of the heart for those who don’t have tax deductible status. So, there you have it, my love affair with Lent. It helps me weather the weather. It helps me evolve and emerge a better person, I hope, and it gives me direction for a life I hope will be well lived for a long while. As always, I appreciate your taking the time to read what I share. Thanks for being you and have a great day.

The Morning That Almost Wasn’t

22 Jan

Yesterday was what I would call a plot twisty day. One of my favorite quotes is that when something goes wrong in your day, you yell “Plot twist!” and move on. Yesterday was full of those moments. While I was running the Swiffer like I do every day to keep up with the dog hair, I found a packet my son was supposed to turn in. He is struggling in that particular class and I had to go to school at some point to pick up some volunteer work, so I left my home much earlier than planned. This rarely bodes well for me on the productivity front. On the way to school, I remembered I only had four eggs. My son has become interested in cooking lately, and the weather predicted here over the weekend is not conducive to leisurely grocery shopping. Eggs, bread and milk supplies are all in jeopardy with the approaching winter storm, although I guess it could be worse. We could be in the Washington, DC area that is predicting up to 30 inches of snow; those of you in the DC area have my sympathy. So, I decided to run to Costco to buy some eggs.

On the way to Costco, I saw a sale. It was one of those pop up sales we have in the US that you find in empty retail locations. Some have Halloween goodies. Some have clothing. Some have home furnishings, and since we need a new floor lamp, I decided to check it out. An hour later, I had purchased $100 worth of clothing for $35. This is a big deal in my world for two reasons. The first is because I rarely shop for clothes for myself, and the second is that I rarely shop for that long. I usually throw my hands in the air and just give up because the clothes don’t look right on my currently larger than I would like shape or they’re too expensive. These fit well and were from those more expensive stores I refuse to shop in, but all of the items I purchased had been marked down to a price range that made me deliriously happy. Now it was time to get the eggs.

If you’ve ever shopped in the US before a big snowstorm, you know that the store will be crowded. If you’re like me and you don’t bring a list, you know things can get out of hand. I only went into the store for one item: eggs. I came out with two packages of eggs, a huge bag of baking soda (because mine could run out in the next week or two), minced onions (because despite the smaller container I purchased just the other day, I might need the giant one soon), dried pasta (because my husband mentioned that he liked the kind we bought from Costco) and a 6 box carton of organic chicken stock (because I was in the process of making chicken soup for my sick nieces and I ran out of homemade broth) . Not the quick trip I expected and another hour burned, but I was finally on my way home. As I was driving, I was thinking about our weekend plans. My husband and I were planning a dinner out because I will be out of town for a few days next week. With the weather, I wondered if it would be better to alter the plans, so we did. We decided to move up our dinner so we wouldn’t have to fight the weather and panicked drivers later. I love to cook, but I love a night off so this was a welcomed plot twist, especially since I had a volunteer commitment that evening. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing my best to write, interspersed with volunteer work, cleaning up the house and trying to get the chicken soup I was working on to taste better. I love making soup and find it bothersome when the flavor falls short, and the flavor was definitely falling short on this batch.

Sometimes when making soup, the best thing you can do is to add a few ingredients, turn off the heat, let the flavor build and heat it up later to see how things are progressing. As we left for dinner, I did that with the soup. I added some spices and salt and pepper and turned off the heat. We had a lovely dinner out, and my husband dropped me off to my volunteer work so I didn’t have to find a parking spot in a very overcrowded parking lot. My job was to sign up new members to one of our marching band fundraisers. It is a way for students to build up funds for our marching band’s trip to Disney World this year. Traditionally, incoming freshmen have not been able to sign up until they have started at the high school which only gives them a couple of months to build up funds. Our goal was to give them more time which, for some, could make the difference between being able to make the trip and having to stay home. Unfortunately, we had no idea the website would be blocked (plot twist yet again)so; I could answer questions but couldn’t sign anyone up. It was not the way I would have chosen to spend the evening, but I got some valuable information and ideas to help new people become more familiar with the program.

After I got home, I flipped on the soup and tasted it when it was warm. It was still bland. Ok, now it was a challenge to see what I needed to add to make this soup come alive. I decided to start with some chicken base that I buy in the natural section of the store. Maybe that would help things, and after it got incorporated, I could shut things down for the night and work on it again in the morning. It had been such an unusual day, I hadn’t given the soup as much thought and care as I normally would. Perhaps I could coax it along tomorrow. We set about our evening routine, rested a bit and got ready for bed. It had been a long day, and we all were tired. It felt good to get to bed fairly early, and I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

At 2:36am I woke up and smelled something. It was a horrible smell, and I knew immediately what it was; the soup. I grabbed my robe and ran downstairs to see the glow of the flame under the pot and the smell was even worse because there was also smoke to go with it. I turned off the stove. My husband had gotten up and joined me and suggested that we just put the pot on the back porch and wait until morning to open it. I agreed, thinking only of what could have happened if I hadn’t smelled that burning soup. In all my years of cooking, I’ve never done anything like this, and I wondered what was different this time. When I said to my husband that I couldn’t believe I had done that, he reminded me that he had shut down the kitchen and didn’t see the flame when he turned off the light. We both realized how close we had been to not waking up the next morning, and amazingly, all either one of us felt was gratitude. Neither one of us blamed the other one or ourselves. My family often makes fun of my extremely sensitive sense of smell and says I have a bionic nose because I can smell milk and tell you days before it will go bad; we’ve kept it to see if I was right and I was. I am offended by the smell of the trash can long before anyone else, and I can almost always smell something right before it begins to burn. I guess there is a delay when I’m sleeping because the veggies in the soup are burnt to a deep black. I’m not sure if the pan will survive, but I am so grateful that my husband, my son and I did. Last night, after we aired out the house a bit, we were lying in bed wide awake, and I burst into tears. Normally they would have been tears of regret and shame that I had “let” this happen. Last night, the tears were tears of gratitude for waking up. They were tears of joy that I would see my husband and children’s faces again. They were tears of humility and yet, the whole incident feels like a grace filled message. It feels like it’s time to put away false fears and drama. It’s time to step fully into my life, and today, that means telling the ladies in the school office how much appreciate what they do for our kids, which I did. It means thanking my son’s counselor for the incredible advocate she has been for my son and for seeing the potential in him, which I’ve done. It means telling someone I’ve worked with for years who has been told she is difficult to work with because she made people follow the rules how much I love working with her, which I have. It also meant holding my son’s and my husband’s faces in my hands before they left this morning and telling them how much I loved them and then texting my other two boys to tell them the same. Last night reminded me that life can change or end in the blink of an eye, and that I have much to do. I pray that I always remember and never need such a reminder again, so for those who love me, know I love you fiercely and sometimes too much but I’d rather love too much than too little. For those who are angry with me or are ignoring me right now, I love you and forgive you and wish you nothing but peace and happiness because we all deserve that and more. For those who are suffering, I am a fixer, and I love being that person. I am the person who will help you find the solutions if you want me to and sometimes when you don’t. If I overstep, you can say so. I’ll back off and appreciate your honesty and still love you besides. Today, I love life more than I ever have and though some might think that’s a bit dramatic after some burnt veggies in the bottom of a pan, the lingering smell that reminds me of what could have been and the memory of the look in my husband’s eyes last night tell me it’s not overly dramatic at all. It was a message and a gift, and it has been heeded. Thank you as always for taking time to read my posts. It means more to me than you know. Thank you for being you and have a great day.
Jamuary 22

Welcome 2016

14 Jan

2016 is not starting out the way I planned, but then, very few years do. I have big plans like I always do, and like always, the Divine plan supersedes mine. My plans include writing and publishing several books; I’m not sure how many will result from the incredible number of ideas I have rolling around in my head, but we’ll see. I want to keep up with, continue to declutter and improve the house. I want to lose a substantial amount of weight, and I want to be at peace and be filled with joy in the process. As I was thinking about all of that at the beginning of the year, I was reminded that one must be willing to receive in a big way to actually receive in a big way. Sounds simple, but is it really?

When I wrote and published my first book, I said if it helped one person, I would consider it a success. I got a letter, one letter, from a young woman who said my book changed her life. It touched my heart deeply, and I felt like I had done exactly what I set out to do. I know that sounds trite, but that’s what happened. I realized so much in my life and in the lives of others goes that way. You get what you are willing to receive. When I was pregnant, like most mothers, I just wanted my babies to be healthy. Two of them were from birth, but the third started life at a huge disadvantage. He was born with a compromised immune system and other issues. He spent 5 weeks in the Neonatal ICU and we made countless trips to doctors’ offices in his first few months of life. All I wanted for him was better health, and we worked hard to help him be as healthy as possible. Today, almost sixteen years later, his specialty doctors call him a rock star because he has been so healthy. He has had two hospital trips in his life related to his medical condition when most have three to four per year. Are we lucky? Maybe, but we were willing to let him be more than the experts said we could expect, and he is amazingly healthy for the most part.

It’s a tricky business to talk to people about this subject of receiving, especially when people are in circumstances that are less than ideal, but I’ve been there, and I’m still there in some areas of my life. It’s a process or growth and spiritual expansion, and for me, it was a matter of overcoming much of what I was taught as a child. As a child I was taught that you deal with the circumstances of life, you don’t create them. That’s God’s job. What if we actually have some control over life? How does that idea make you feel? In the beginning, that felt like blasphemy to me. How dare I think I could tell God what to do? How dare I question? I then heard a spiritual teacher say that we are all responsible for our lives, every bit of it, and I got angry. I wasn’t responsible for having a sick child or a husband with diabetes. I wasn’t responsible for how much or little my husband was paid, or was I? I married by choice, not because anyone coerced me. I chose to have a third child even though the pregnancy was unplanned. I chose to keep my child and refuse additional testing when I knew there might be complications from his possible premature birth. Perhaps most importantly, I chose, in the three minute span from being rushed from the delivery room to the operating room for my son to be born, to promise God I would deal with whatever I needed to if my child would just be born alive. It was gut wrenching and overwhelming to think about. Could it be that my life really was more about the choices I made than the circumstances thrust upon me? This thought changed everything.

Instead of asking why God was doing this to me in any circumstance, I could begin to ask what I was supposed to learn or how I was supposed to grow or what choice would be the best to make for myself, my family or my highest calling. I could stop blaming God or anyone else for my circumstances and get to the business of living my life better. I could take control, not of what happened to me, but of how I lived through it. I could take control, not of how people acted or reacted, but of how I dealt with them. I could stop being a victim and truly become the person I aspired to be, regardless of the circumstances of my life, and life began to make more sense. I began to see everything differently. Instead of a daily battle, life became more of a game. Instead of beating myself up and being angry at the world and God for what I couldn’t do, I began to focus on what I could do, and the most important lesson I learned was that when you truly shift your focus in a positive way, the Universe/God/the Divine will join in and give you the most amazing experiences. In the beginning, I was overwhelmed with the good that came my way, almost to the point of embarrassment. I felt like I didn’t deserve the many blessings that came my way, and guess what? When I felt that way, they stopped. I began to notice the challenges. I began to be irritated with life and the people around me again. It was amazing.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through this process is to be grateful, always. I started learning this by keeping a gratitude journal. Every day for 30 days I wrote down 5 things I was grateful for. If you really want to make this work, I would suggest that you pick five different things each day without repeating and that you do this exercise at night, right before you go to sleep. If you do it this way, you will find 150 different things to be grateful for in a month, although I suspect you will actually find more. Also, by writing it down at night before you go to sleep, you will go to sleep feeling grateful and you will spend your day looking for things to write in your journal. Continue this for a few months and you will have a habit of being grateful every day and looking for the good in your life rather than the bad.

The next greatest lesson I’ve learned is to eliminate complaining as much as possible. This is something I still work on because it’s so darned easy to complain and blame and be a victim. Years ago I took part in a challenge to stop complaining for 30 days. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and I’ll let you know when I make it thirty days consecutively, because I have yet to do it. It is difficult to write that because I want to say I’ve mastered this, but the truth is that I still find myself in complaint mode now and then. The difference now, though, is that it is a moment rather than a lifestyle. The complaints are generally small and quickly become a question of how to deal with something rather than complain about it. It’s about taking action and thinking about how to make my life and the world a better place, and if I don’t feel passionate enough to do something positive about it, I choose to direct my energy elsewhere rather than spin my wheels mentally and emotionally. I highly recommend this to anyone who has a life that they feel is less than ideal. It will stretch you and help you to think in ways you’ve never thought before. If you would like help with getting started, I would recommend checking out http://www.willbowen.com/ to read about the challenge, and get started on your own journey.

So while I choose to work on being more grateful and complaining less, two other questions are also at the forefront of what I am doing right now. The questions I ask each day have changed over the years, but these are the ones I am focused upon right now. The first is: Who do you want to be? I want to be a fun, loving and supportive wife, mother, friend, mentor, and business woman. I want to be a writer, author and speaker who enhances the lives of others and leaves a wake of love and joy behind me. I want to be so successful in my own life that I can teach others to be successful in theirs. It’s a tall order, but one I am thrilled to pursue. The other question is: What do you want? This question is probably one of the most difficult because the spiritual teacher I learned it from clarifies what this question is truly asking. This question is not about how you want others to behave. It is not about how you want the world to change. This question is solely about how you want to be in the world. For example, you want your children to stop fighting. First off, you are focusing on the thing you don’t want, which is your children fighting, and by focusing on that, you give it more attention and essentially more power in your life. What if you thought about your children playing peacefully with one another, or better yet, what if you see yourself being so peaceful that you can feel that peace no matter how your children act? Have you ever thought about the fact that when you tell your children that they are making you angry that you give them enormous power and enormous responsibility? Are your children more responsible for your happiness and peace than you are? I know it feels like it some days, but what a burden we thrust upon our children when we do that. It takes practice, but I promise you that when you take full responsibility for your feelings, words and actions, you will find a peace and a power you never knew existed. You will think about the words and thoughts you put out in the Universe, and you will find yourself growing into a person you can love more than you ever realized. For me, the answer to what I want used to mean setting huge goals that I would ultimately never attain. I know goals work. I know several people who have set enormous goals and achieved them and live extraordinary lives. Huge goals are overwhelming for me so I find that it helps me more to be mindful every day of the direction I want my life to go, and it’s a series of little things that add up to big success. How is that different than setting a goal and going for it? Well, I have a brain that can get hyper focused on something I want to the exclusion of other things so keeping things in daily balance works better for me, and while some would say that type of focus is exactly what you need to be successful, as a wife, mother, Princess of the realm I call home, writer, blogger, author and aspiring speaker, focusing on any of these to the exclusion of others is a recipe for disaster. Add in wanting to be healthier and more fit, and I could drive myself crazy with it all. Instead, little bits of time on each endeavor work so much better because my mind does not get bogged down, overwhelmed or bored. It’s a system that doesn’t work for everyone because I’m surrounded by people who have laser focus and can work on a project for hours. I admire their focus and tenacity but while they’re doing that, I am making sure the laundry gets done, the house gets decluttered, the grocery shopping gets accomplished, my son makes it to and from school and dinner makes it on the table, all while writing and creating blog posts, book proposals, daily writing for pleasure and the occasional radio show. Small steps and small victories keep me motivated much more than spending several hours on a project like cleaning the garage that, once finished, I never want to think about again. Instead, if I work 15-30 minutes over several days or weeks, it never seems overwhelming and I still get to feel a sense of accomplishment.

So many years I’ve said this will be the year that changes everything. This is the year I’ll get it all together and become the person I’m supposed to be, and the next thing I know, the year is gone, and I feel like I’ve failed once again. This year, I still have high hopes like I always do, but I’ve learned to have much more joy in the journey. I’ve learned that “getting there” isn’t the important part. Growing and loving and becoming a better version of myself brings me the greatest joy and makes the world a better place. I’ve learned to ask myself every day what I want, and most days the answer is simple; I want to feel good. I want to be happy. I want to follow my highest path and create the best outcome of the day. That is success for me, and most days I am successful. I know the questions may change. I know my circumstances may change. I know I am blessed beyond measure, but if you are in a position to read this post, I’m guessing you are too. So, welcome 2016! I am looking forward to living you fully and enjoying the journey with you. I hope you’ll join me, and until next time, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Farewell 2015

10 Dec

To listen along click here: http://tobtr.com/s/8141659

I have struggled mightily with this blog post, which may be my last of 2015. I have a big pile on the plate for the rest of the year, and although most business coaches would say that I need to keep writing and blogging, I know where my priorities lie. I understand that some people have to work. I understand that not everyone shares my privilege of being able to stay home and create a peaceful place for their family. I understand that even having a home is a dream for some, but I’ve learned something else. It’s time for me to own my life and be unapologetically thankful for the blessing that it is. Recently, I had a disagreement with someone I care for deeply. In the past, I would have blogged about it and shared the journey but in deference to that person’s feelings, I’ve shied away from sharing. Today, I’ve decided to be brave and risk offending even more people because of what I’m about to say. I hope I don’t offend anyone. I always write from the heart and my heart is always looking to give and receive love, but sometimes I say or write things that don’t sit well with others. There was a time, when I was young and brash, that I would have spoken out in self-righteous indignation with a chip on my shoulder and more than a few hateful and cutting remarks. There was a time I would have dropped several sarcastic comments that never attacked anyone directly but were designed to let the other person know how incredibly right I was and how incredibly wrong they were. At this time in my life, I choose to keep loving. I choose to keep loving everyone, including myself, although each of those presents challenges.

You see, my ego wants to be right so badly. My ego wants to have all the answers and show everyone just how much I know. My spirit understands that we are all created so differently, and although I always try to help, sometimes my help is unwanted or perceived as something other than help. My ego believes that someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong and let’s be honest, none of us ever wants to be wrong. Reading the book Positive Personality Profiles changed how I thought about being right and living right. Because we all grow up in a family, we’ve all been conditioned to “know” what is right and what is wrong, and unless we learn to question that, we never learn to be understanding of someone who is different. I’ve shared before that I struggled with understanding a particular family member before I read the book because I love people and would stop doing whatever I was doing if someone stopped by. I am by nature a people person. My family member is by nature a task oriented person, so when I would stop by because I was in the neighborhood, she would continue with her tasks, practically ignoring me. I found it quite offensive at the time and asked my husband why she didn’t like me. As I read Positive Personality Profiles, I began to understand how important her task completion was for her. As I was standing there thinking how rude she was for not being attentive to her guest, she was continuing on with her tasks thinking how rude I was for not understanding that she had things to do, and when I shared that revelation with her, she looked at me and said, “Exactly!” Since then, I’ve learned that keeping my distance is a gift to that person, not a slight, so when I drive by her house and she is working in the yard, I honk my horn, wave and move on knowing that leaving her alone is the best gift I can give her. As a very social people person, that does not come naturally, but I’m so glad I figured it out.

Another book that has helped me on my journey is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is a set of simple tenets to live by that make so much sense but can be so difficult to live by. The four agreements are to be impeccable with your word, not to take anything personally, not to make assumptions and always do your best. See what I mean? So simple to say, but wow the struggles we sometimes have incorporating them into our lives. Being impeccable with my word and doing my best are the easiest for me. I remember a conversation with a group of women where the question was posed whether we would tell a polite lie or the impolite truth, and I was the only person there who said they would tell the impolite truth, and I have on several occasions because with my ADHD brain, I cannot keep up with lies and half-truths. Age has taught me how to speak my truth more tactfully, or at least I like to think it has, and the other thing that being truthful has taught me is how to be positive. That may seem odd, but here’s the thing. I am generally a happy person, and I want others to be happy too, so I am always looking for the good. During the aforementioned conversation about truth, I asked people if their mother looked ridiculous in a particular outfit and asked their opinion, would they lie? Every one of them said yes because they didn’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. I, on the other hand, felt like I could look at my mother and say, if you like it you should wear it but I think you have other outfits that make you look much better. Who is to say which is right or wrong, but it is an interesting question to pose to people.

I must admit I struggle with taking things personally and making assumptions, although I’m getting better, and the better I get at those two agreements, the better I feel about life. It helps me to realize that when I take things personally and make assumptions, I can only look through my own lens. Through my own lens, I look at a homeless person and think, get a job. Through my own lens, I look at a mentally ill person and think, take your meds. Through my own lens, I look at someone who struggles financially and think, stop spending stupidly. Through my own lens, when I have a good life, I cannot clearly see the struggles of other human beings unless I’ve struggled in the same way. When I don’t take things personally and stop making assumptions, I can be understanding of the homeless or poor person who was raised without the resources I was to learn how to take care of themselves or who was, perhaps, doing well and one bad decision (even one that might have been beyond their control) changed everything. I can see that the mentally ill person feels so awful on the wrong medication that they stop taking it just to feel something rather than walk around in a haze. I can feel the terror of refugees that fled their homeland with nothing and are being sent to a country that may be receiving them with hatred and mistrust. I can see the rest of the world looking at our fear and with different laws, perhaps executing yet another genocide. It allows me to be a person who says that I would rather die living in Faith than merely exist living in fear. Faith extends love. Fear extends anger and mistrust, and I believe in the power of love and Faith to heal our world much more than I believe in anger. Yes, I know people want me dead solely because of where I was born or the color of my skin or the religion I was born into, but retaliation has gotten us where we are. Perhaps it’s time to try something different. Do I have all the answers? No. Do I still have respect for those in uniform who are dedicated to keeping us safe? Yes. There are no easy answers but I think the best answers will come from both sides meeting in the middle to create something the world has never seen before.

Yesterday a meme came across my Facebook feed that struck a deep chord with me, and I must confess that I giggle at the fact that I just typed that sentence. Ten years ago I didn’t even know what Facebook was and mimetics was a field of academic study; how far we’ve come. Anyway, the meme showed a sandwich board that looked similar to a USA voting sheet with a box you can check next to the words Republican and Democrat and a third option that was checked that said rational human being. I hardly ever share anything political because we don’t even have enough time to discuss my political leanings, but suffice it to say I’m fed up enough with the rhetoric and polarization of both side to have found that meme to be the best political post I have seen.

So, as the sun begins to set on the year 2015, here’s my view of it all. It started beautifully for me because I spent it with my family watching one of our favorite teams do something no other college team has done before, win a national championship through the new playoff system. We had many other ups and downs, including my husband being gone for more than half of the year for business. We’ve all grown and changed and evolved in beautiful ways and some more difficult ways. It hasn’t been perfect, nor should it be because what would we have to talk about if it was perfect? But it has been pretty darned good. For me, I’ll count my blessings, continue to send and gladly receive any love sent to me and I will wish you all a wonderful end to this year and an even better start to the next. I’ll see you in 2016 and until then, thanks for being you and have many great days.

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