Tag Archives: making a difference

The Happiness Rebellion

8 Sep

You would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the craziness going on in the world. In the US, the election alone could send you screaming into the night. There are refugee crises around the globe. Human trafficking is everywhere. Drug use is rampant, especially heroin, the news says. The economy is in danger, as is our health and the list goes on and on. All of this could be and probably is true, but most of it has also been going on for centuries and yet, here we are, struggling with the same issues. What’s a girl to do in such circumstances? In my world, you stay relatively informed, which means getting most of my news online and checking sources outside of my country as well as within because sometimes you get a very different view. It means knowing that the issues exist, and it means doing what I can to help and letting go of the rest.

There are so many issues that one could give attention to. There are injustices and inequalities and poverty and need everywhere, which makes it very easy to be offended, angered and/or afraid, and many people are offended, angry and/or afraid. What if we choose differently? What if we choose to look for the opportunity to do and be good and to live in joy instead of surrendering to the ugly emotions? Don’t get me wrong. There are unpleasant images that will never leave my head from Columbine high school, from the September 11, 2001, from refugees that didn’t make it to Greece alive, but rather than let those images stop me from living, I use them as inspiration. I used Columbine high school to inspire me to become a better parent, to be more loving and patient as a parent, especially in the morning knowing that every time I said goodbye to my children, it could be the last time I see their faces. Am I perfect at it? Hardly, but I try. From 9/11 I’ve learned how important it is to understand those who are different from us. I don’t know as much as I would like to, but I’m working on it and will probably work on that one for the rest of my life. Finally, there is the refugee crisis, and while there are probably many ways I could be helping there, I am helping with issues in my own country with displaced people. Within a few hundred miles of where I live, tornados destroyed property and homes less than a month ago and a few hundred more miles away, the state of Louisiana has seen its worst flooding since Katrina. As I said, there is need everywhere. I help where I can and pray someone else steps up where I can’t. I don’t know if it’s enough, but the fact that my children wonder if we would ever be wealthy even if we won the lottery because I give so much away tells me I might be on the right track.

There was a time in my life I was consumed with anger over the injustices of the world. I was infuriated at those who perpetrated the ugliness and for those who suffered, but at some point I realized that those feelings weren’t doing anyone any good, especially me. I understand that some people use those feelings to spur them on to great action in this world, and I applaud them for that. For myself, I’ve found that getting peaceful and even happy allows me to find better ways to contribute to this world in a positive way and create change. That may sound trite to some, and I admit I hesitated writing this blog because I know so many people think that happy people are uninformed, stupid and/or so privileged they just don’t understand. I’m sure there are situations I’ll never understand because they are unfathomable to me, but there are many more that I do understand, and just because I don’t discuss them doesn’t mean I don’t understand. Some things are meant to be private, at least for now, and they will stay that way. Instead, I’ll share why I decided to finally write this post. It’s because of two books I’m reading.

For the past few months, I’ve picked up the reading habit again, and I am so happy. Every weekday, I set a timer and read for at least fifteen minutes. I just finished a book about healing ADD. I read books about the supernatural, and I’m currently reading the books, Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I usually read one or the other each day, but this morning, for some reason I felt compelled to read both. Now, if you read my blog regularly, you know I have a great love of the Divine. I believe there are messages from the Divine, if we are open to recognizing them, and I feel like I got a big one this morning. I was mulling over whether to share these ideas or not because philosophy of life can be a pretty sticky subject. I decided to read before putting hands to the keyboard, and I began reading Dying to Be Me. One line in particular stuck with me when Ms. Moorjani was talking about how much more powerful she is when she works with life rather than against it, and I feel like that line explains my life so well. I feel like so many people give their power away to others, not willingly or even consciously in some cases and then complain that that they have no control. I used to do that. I blamed my kids for my messy house, my inability to write like I would have liked and my inability to do anything about my weight, and I blamed my husband for his contributions to all of that too. You know what that did for me? It kept me stuck and kept me from taking responsibility for my life. Yes, when you have children in the house, there is more mess, but there are ways to get what you crave. Currently, my friend Shalagh Hogan from Shalavee.com is conducting a 30 day creativity challenge while raising an 11 and 3 year old. I’m not sure I could have managed that when any of mine were three, but it has become a priority for her, and she’s doing it. Because of people like this and someone long ago who issued a challenge to stop complaining for 30 days straight, I learned to begin to take responsibility for my own life and choose to live differently. It’s a very different vibe when you choose to do laundry, clean and cook than when you do it filled with martyrdom. It gets done faster and more efficiently, almost as if by magic.

Speaking of magic, here’s something else. I have loved being creative my entire life, and it was about ten years ago when I began to see creativity in places I never had before. I remember being at a Halloween party for one of my kids and during the craft one of the moms remarked that she didn’t have a creative bone in her body. I laughed because I knew this woman was an accountant, and I asked her if I brought my taxes to her if she could find ways for me to save money and get more back from the government in my refund. Of course she said yes, and I told her I thought that was wildly creative because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to do that. The one thing I couldn’t reconcile in my own life though was how selfish I felt being creative instead of being employed. I felt like I should be contributing financially to our home, especially when money was tight, and I’m sure my husband would have been happy to have more money coming into the house, but he also gave me the freedom to be exactly who I needed to be. What that meant was that he was happy for me to use my creativity to learn to keep a house the way that worked for me rather than how everyone else did it. It allowed me to make healthy meals on a budget, and it allowed me to be creative with our finances. When I finally let go of the struggle of that, everything improved. I was finally able to get our house and our finances in order and even find time to write. That’s a big part of the message in Big Magic, giving yourself permission to live a creative life. For a while I got caught up in what I should be writing about and being careful not to offend people, and I truly never intend to offend anyone, but authenticity sometimes means you offend people because your truth may not be the same as theirs. It sucks when it happens, but it does happen, and even an apology doesn’t fix it sometimes.

So the question becomes. Do you live your life in full on creative mode or do you censor yourself? While I would love to write things that soothe everyone’s soul, I know that being authentic is my first order of business, and I find I like me much better when I live that way. The days seems to flow better, even the challenging ones, because I have the grace to give myself and others space to be who they need to be. I am much more loving and giving and productive on every level. I feel like I am truly living and truly happy and who doesn’t want to feel that? So, this month I’ve challenged everyone to choose their life rather than let themselves be bullied and pushed by life. We can’t control everything. Some days it feels as if we control nothing, but we can learn to control how we choose to respond and today, that makes me feel incredibly happy. I hope you’ll join in The September Choosing Challenge and find your own happiness revolution. If not, I hope you find authenticity whatever your path may be, and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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The September Choosing Challenge

1 Sep

Some days I know exactly what I want to write about. Some days I struggle a bit. Today I seem to have bits of several posts knocking around my head and on days like that I sit down at the keyboard and let the muse take me wherever it chooses. This week, we are starting with a meeting I attended on using a Pinterest account in connection with a blog. I have been blogging for several years without monetizing my blog, and I’ve wondered if I should take that step to “up my game”. Because I want to write for a living, it seems to make sense. Because I am more focused on the journey and knowledge than the income, I hesitate hugely.

Recently, I began reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It is kicking my butt and making me laugh out loud. One of the big subjects lately in nearly every creative community I’m part of is fear and doubt, and everyone experiences it. Creatives wonder if anything we create is worthy, and we can become addicted to likes and shares and sales to validate our existence, but when we do, we lose the essence of what we create and sometimes shut down our creativity entirely. I’ve been praised for how I write and the fact that I’ve published two books, and I’ve been insulted and ridiculed for those same things. As a human being, the praise feels really good and the ridicule has been painful, but both have taught me a great life lesson; neither the praise nor the ridicule have anything to do with me. It is merely the result of how someone experiences my creation, and sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like my creation.

Have you ever experienced being “in the zone” or that an idea comes through you rather than from you? That’s what the creative process is like for me. Some idea pops into my brain, and I know I’m supposed to make it come to life with my particular set of talents and gifts. Sometimes I go back and read things I’ve written and thought, “Wow! That’s really good. I wish I’d thought of that.” Some people think I did, but I know that I was just the messenger, and I was blessed with the ability to put those thoughts into words. It can be quite the spiritual experience because sometimes I don’t want to write what I feel I am inspired to write. I don’t want to reveal things about myself that sound weird and strange, but I do want to better the craft, so I write most of it anyway. I feel like I am failing to explain it adequately because there are times I know exactly where the inspiration for a piece comes from, often it’s a current event in my life or the world, but sometimes, it just shows up and it feels like I can’t type fast enough to get the words on the page and I’m as much of an observer as a participant. Maybe it’s like when an actor gets so involved in a character or scene that they forget the camera crew is there. Maybe it’s like when someone is working on a hobby and they are so entranced by what they’re doing that they don’t even hear someone walk into the room. Maybe it’s like driving along in your car and your favorite song comes on and you’re singing your heart out only to look out your window and see the driver in the next car staring at you in a most amused way. *cough, cough* *dozens of times* It is empowering and makes you incredibly vulnerable at the same time, and it takes courage to do it.

One of the things that I’ve been told by mentors and read in articles is that networking will boost every aspect of your writing career. As someone who has been out of the workforce for over two decades, that is some scary stuff, but I decided to bite the bullet and do it anyway. While I’ve maintained my safe and grounded connection to my online creativity salon, I also joined a writer’s accountability group. I’ve attended Meetups for bloggers in my area. I am volunteering with our local Wordcamp. I’m meeting so many new people and learning so many things, and at first it was intimidating and overwhelming because these people seem to know so much, but I am slowly learning that I do too. One of the most important things I know is what feels right and what feels contrived for me. I am learning that I would rather write with integrity than act without it. I learn something helpful from nearly every meeting about how I want to proceed and how I don’t. I have so many ideas for collaborations with people and ways to help one another be successful, and I can hardly wait to get moving on them, but first, I have a book to finish, and as much as it scares me, I’ve committed to having the manuscript finished by next week, and I’m spending time each day making progress and doing my best to have fun with it, because here’s the best thing I’ve learned or better said, remembered on this third trip to publishing; having fun matters.

When I stress over deadlines or what to write, I don’t write. I will find anything else to do to distract me from the task at hand. When I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and having fun, magic happens and things begin to line up and come together in ways I can hardly believe, so I’ve begun making that part of the focus of my day. Here is one of those places I hesitate to share because I know how people feel about affirmations and those who use them, but I’ve been asked how I stay so positive, and affirmations are truly one of the ways I do that. I have three that I’m using right now and I write them down every day. Here they are:
We have great fun living our very best lives and get better at it every day.
Our kind, loving and fun filled family supports everyone, especially each other, in positive, uplifting and empowering ways.
We recognize and rejoice in our constant miracles and blessings and eagerly welcome more.
Yep, I write and read those every morning before I dive into my day. Are they corny? Perhaps they are. Do they help? Yes, they do because they give me a direction and focus for my day. Am I feeling uncomfortable with sharing this very personal part of my life? Yes, I am, so why am I sharing it? I am sharing because this is one of the most powerful things I learned about changing my life. Words matter, especially the ones we repeatedly say to ourselves and say out loud. Changing your words will change your life. Recently, someone posted about getting the words “should”, “need”, “have to” and a few others out of their vocabulary and replacing them with the word “choose”. I was so excited for her because I have done that exercise in my own life, and it will change everything if you do it, so I am challenging you to do just that. Remove those words as well as “ought to” from your vocabulary and replace them with “choose” and if you really want to up the ante, add the word happily or joyfully in front of choose and you’ll really begin to look at your life differently.
Just thought I would share, that with that last paragraph, I finally understand what I am supposed to be writing about today. It’s a thrill and makes me laugh because writing so often takes me places I never imagined going, but this month I’ll join you and make sure that I’m choosing my best possible life every day. I hope you’ll join in and let me know how it goes. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Embracing the Blessings

25 Aug

12049231_10206140076553761_743071400173545284_nSo last week I wrote about feeling inadequate because of my lack of first day school pictures. This past weekend, both my older boys headed back to college, and I have been on a roller coaster of emotions. My middle son moved back to school in stages which made the moving process easier. He’s close to home and we get to see him fairly often, so it isn’t as difficult leaving him. We will even be on campus this week for a local soccer club game and to watch his younger brother perform in a special football game being held at the college on Friday. We might get in a quick visit each night, especially if there is dinner involved, so, there will probably be dinner involved because this mom is not above a food bribe to get a quick visit. Sending the oldest off was a bit trickier because it was the last time. This is his last semester of college. He will probably be working out of town when he graduates. He will be getting married next year and there will be so many lasts. He laughs at me every time I cry and tells me it’s not like he won’t be back and asked me one time why I cry so much, especially over him. My answer is that every new thing that happens for him is an ending for me.

This week several friends and family members are sending their little ones off to preschool and kindergarten for the first time. There is so much nervousness, and I understand. My son was less than six months from starting full time school when Columbine happened. Up until then, we all thought that school was a safe place for our children; now we had doubts. My son was in first grade on 9/11 as I watched the twin towers fall and knew our lives would never be the same, and they aren’t. I thought about homeschooling my children because of those incidents, but I realized that was fear talking, my fear and my erroneous thoughts that I could somehow protect them from the world. Please understand that I know many people homeschool successfully, and I admire them greatly. This just means that my reasons would have been based in fear, and when I realized that, I knew it would be an unhealthy decision for us.

I remember dropping my oldest off for kindergarten like it was yesterday. He was so very excited, and I was so nervous. His classroom had a door directly to the outside, so the teacher met him at the door and told my son to say goodbye to us. He did and disappeared into the building. We had walked to school, and I made it all the way down the block before I burst into tears. My husband laughed at me and said, “You made it through the hard stuff. Why are you crying now?” I laughed and told him to shut up and give me my moment, and that was all it was, a moment. You see, I didn’t have the words for it back then and just saying that I was sad because my little guy was growing up seemed inadequate. I was excited for him because he was excited and ready for school. I was thrilled for him to blossom like I knew he would as he was challenged to learn more and more. I was amazed at how easily he seemed to manage, a trait I have admired in him over and over as he has grown into a very responsible young man. What I couldn’t grasp back then was how I could be so incredibly proud of him, how I could love him so much and how I could hurt so badly at the same time, but I believe now that it was the fear of change and more specifically the fear of the unknown.

When people move onto a new adventure, we can go along for the ride or we can resist what’s happening. When we can see the benefit for ourselves, it’s easier to let go. When seeing the benefit to us is clouded by what we think we are losing, we suffer. For me, the resistance seems to happen with firsts. I didn’t cry when my second and third children went to preschool or kindergarten for the first time because I knew from the first one that we would all be just fine. The same thing happened with my second book. I felt so much less fear because I knew that whatever happened, I would be fine, and I was. Now that I’m writing my third book, it feels like sending my third child off to school. We do the steps to get ready and we launch; easy peasy. So why did sending my oldest child off to college for the last time set me off? Like when he was in kindergarten, I have no idea what to expect next. He’ll be married by this time next year. He won’t be coming home for breaks and spending time with us like he has before. Our lives will change, and I don’t know if I’ll like the new arrangement. I’m afraid I’ll lose him, and there is the biggie. I’m afraid that the little boy who ran headlong into the preschool room and had to be begged for a hug goodbye, the boy who happily disappeared into the kindergarten classroom, and the boy who couldn’t wait to drive, travel to Europe and go away to college might not come back. I’m afraid that this piece of my heart will fly away and never return, and I have no idea how I would deal with that. It’s a feeling I don’t want to think about, but it’s one that I need to make peace with because when I do, the feeling will subside. Once, when this very brave young man was very small, he was afraid of thunderstorms. I asked him what the worst of the storm could be, and he replied that he could die. We practice a Christian faith, and I asked him what would happen if he died, and he said he would go to Heaven. I then reminded him that as Christians that is the ultimate thing we aspire to, so the worst thing that could happen to him was actually the best thing that could happen to him. He thought about that for a moment, and I could see the stress leaving his body and mind as he relaxed at the thought of going to Heaven. Then he looked at me and said very matter of factly, “but I still don’t want to die.” I laughed and told him I didn’t either but that when we make peace with the worst that can happen, we can move through the fear and he’s been doing that ever since.

Lately, that lesson seems to be coming back to me on a different level. You see, I am very blessed. If you read my blog regularly, you know I also have challenges, but I realized recently that I feel that I have to qualify my blessings with my challenges. It’s like I have this accounting system in my head that needs to balance the good with the bad, so others won’t feel bad about my good. I know I am privileged. I know I am lucky. I am also learning to stop being ashamed of any of that because someone else doesn’t have it. Instead, I intend to use my gifts and my privilege and my luck to make the world a better place in every way that I can because as lucky and privileged as I am, I work hard to make a good life better. I do my best to live with purpose and on purpose. Yes, I understand that not everyone has the ability to do that, but I also understand that many do and choose to blame others rather than take responsibility for their own lives and choices. I know children of World War II survivors whose parents came here with nothing. They taught their families to work hard and save well and now they are very well off financially and people call them lucky and privileged. I know immigrants from Asia that came here with nothing more than a skill to sew or cook and have made a very comfortable life. Many have sponsored others to come here, not expecting repayment, to allow others to live a better life. I know a family who lived in slavery in this country for years until they risked their lives to get free and now live a comfortable life and do what they can to help others. All of them know of others who were not as lucky as they were and are. None of them is ashamed of what they have, but they are grateful, and they inspire me constantly to be a better person. They also remind me that although I may shed a tear or two as my son goes off to college for his final semester, watching him drive away is a privilege, a blessing and a moment to savor. The difference isn’t that he is 22 rather than 3 or 5. The difference is how I choose to look at it, and that is a beautiful thing. I wish you all your very own beautiful things and as always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

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.

Fun is Not Frivolous

21 Jul

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, I have and a while back I asked the Universe which direction I should go next in my life. By next, I mean as my children are growing and I am needed less and less on a daily basis. I don’t want to be that person who sits around waiting for life to happen. I want to be living my best possible life and making a positive difference in this world, but for someone like me, it has to be fun too. I’ve had the most fun job I could ever imagine for the past 22+ years. On my worst days, I thought about changing places with my friends with paying jobs. I thought about my husband getting to leave and not think about things, but in reality, I knew I would never be happier than I was at home raising my kids. My husband has always said that his worst day of golf was better than his best day at the office. I feel that way about the job I’ve had for the past two decades, but that job is coming to an end, and I am feeling pulled to contribute to the world differently, so I’ve been stepping out, and it has been eye opening.

There is so much to learn, and as I learn, I realize how much more there is to learn, and there are moments of overwhelm when I wonder if it would be easier to retreat to what I know. On the other hand, there are the people I’ve met. They are such a diverse group, and I’m thrilled by what I’m learning from and about them, and I hope they’re learning a thing or two from me as well. We’re meeting over lunch to talk about writing. We’re meeting at Rec Centers to talk social media. We’re meeting at businesses to talk about blogs and how to use WordPress in ways I didn’t even know existed. See what I mean? It just keeps growing, but the thing I love is that every meeting and get together seems to lead to something new. I’ve found that people are so willing to help others and share avenues to success. This isn’t the business world I left in the early 1990’s, and I love it.

This weekend, I’m off on a new adventure. I’m meeting two members of an online creativity salon I’m part of at a writer’s conference. One is a poet who was recently published in the book Love is Love, an Anthology of Poetry for the Orlando shooting victims. The other is a writer who inspires me and others in our salon with her wit and authenticity. At one point, I thought about not going because I felt like an ant among giants, but I’ve stepped out like this before and the results are always beyond my expectations. I also remember so many saying that people coming to the end of their lives regret the things they didn’t do more than those they did, and I don’t want to be one of those people. I may not travel around the world, although I might. I may never write a best-selling novel, although I might. I may not make enough money to support myself with my blog, my books, my speaking, although I might. This weekend, though, I can drive a few hours to meet some kindred spirits so we can get to know one another in person and encourage each other to keep going. That sounds like a fun way to spend a couple of days. I know it might be a different experience for them, but for me, that sounds heavenly.

So who knows what you might see in this blog over the next few months. I’m moving forward on the Happiest Holidays book and have a Facebook page if you would like to follow the countdown to publication. We’re at 75 days from today, and I’m shooting video footage for future YouTube videos while I test recipes. I’m looking for recipes that make the journey simple and more fun and that nearly anyone can master. I’m learning more and more about the business or writing and blogging, and I’m having so much fun in the process. Fun helps me progress. Fun helps me learn, and for me, that fun is the best part of this journey right now. I hope you’re having fun in your life, and if not, I challenge you to find some because on your very worst days, a bit of fun can be the difference between living well and feeling like you’re not living at all. I could go on and on, but for some reason, this feels like the place to stop today. I wish you a great day, a better weekend and as much fun as you can incorporate into your life. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

May I Have This Dance?

2 Jul

Recently, I attended the wedding of my best friend’s son. I’m not sure where else this might happen, but in our part of the country, there is a moment in most receptions that the DJ or singer for the band asks for all married couples to come to the dance floor for a dance. During the dance, the couples are asked to leave the floor depending upon how long they’ve been married. Of course, the newlyweds are the first to vacate the floor, and then the rest of the couples are called out at various intervals. At this particular wedding, the dance floor was filled with married couples. A few couples left at 5, 10, 15 and 20 years, but when my husband and I left the dance floor when they called for everyone under 25 years to leave, over half of the couples were still left. Several left after 30, 35, 40 and 45 years were called, but there were still four couples left after 50 years. The final couple, who also happened to be the grandparents of the groom, has been married 58 years.

I couldn’t help but think what great role models for marriage this young couple has. Then I thought about all the people in this world who don’t have role models like this. I happen to be one of them. My parents said they loved each other, but they didn’t get along. I was born 10 months after my parents married, and I never remember feeling like they were a happy couple. Yes, they had their happy moments, but I never felt like theirs was a marriage that I wanted to emulate. Unfortunately, I did. My first marriage was very much like my parents’ marriage. We could never quite sync up. I felt abused and like I could never be good enough. It wasn’t until I was told I was no longer attractive at 5 ft. 7 in. and 140 pounds that I realized my marriage was in trouble. A week later, after I had lost seven pounds, my then husband commented how good a friend of mine looked because she looked like she had lost weight. I was devastated. I had done the very thing he’d asked me to do, and he didn’t even notice. That was when I knew my marriage was over, and although it might sound like a small thing, it was the culmination of too many small things over several years, and it was time for me to move on. I knew I would never be good enough no matter what I did. It took some weeks of counseling to work up the courage to leave, but I did it. I tell this story because I married again, and it has been wonderful for 23 years. I know what it is to be in the wrong marriage, and I fault no one for walking away from an unhealthy relationship, but to be at a wedding with that many people still married after all that time seemed extraordinary to me. I don’t know all of their stories, but I do know the stories of the grandparents who were the last ones dancing. I know they are older than they look, which is amazing to me because I know they were children in Eastern Europe during World War II. I know their stories, and although they are not mine to tell, I will share that no child should have to live through what either of them did. The most incredible fact, though, is that they have lived a beautiful life since. They raised three boys. They have traveled, and they still volunteer. They are such an inspiration to me, and I find it difficult to complain about my own life whenever I think of them as children.

In some way, they are the reason I am sitting at the keyboard today because this could be a week of self-pity. This week we found out our son needs surgery. For most it would be no big deal, but this is a person for whom a broken bone or needing stitches or even getting the flu can be life threatening. It adds stress, but life is always filled with choices. I could sit on the couch eating chips and/or ice cream while I think about how unfair life is, or I could do something productive that will help me feel better at the end of the day. I chose the latter. I started with calling in an accident claim because someone hit my son’s car this weekend. The good news is that no one was in the car when it was hit and the person who hit him came to the door to tell me. It is inconvenient, but it will be fairly simple to fix and then we can move on with minimal inconvenience. There is so much I could be doing, like every other person I know. I could work in the yard. I could clean the house. I could do laundry, but instead I am sitting at the keyboard because it helps me think and helps me clear my head.

Lately, I have been facing some of the emotional demons that come with setting new goals. I know some people don’t set them because they don’t want to be disappointed. I know some people find it difficult to get started; some find it difficult to follow through, and some get so scared of both failing and succeeding that they shut down from the overwhelm. I’ve experienced every single one of these, but I’ve learned with each goal, that the journey is always worth it. It can be harrowing some days and blissful on others. I’ve found that when we align with our highest purpose, life seems to open up in ways we never expected. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have challenges, but the challenges don’t derail you as much. You realize that no one became successful without some challenges. Nearly everyone knows about someone who overcame great obstacles to be successful. The list is endless; Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling, Jim Carrey, Steve Jobs and the list goes on. Now, I don’t aspire to have the kind of fame any of those people have, but I do want to make a significant impact with my life. Parenting is one of the ways I’ve made a contribution, and I truly want to help others make that same type of contribution as well. I also want to keep writing books and teaching courses, so I have to keep growing and writing and learning so that I can help others. It’s scary to keep stepping out of my comfort zone, and some days it’s downright frustrating, but those steps out of the comfort zone are helping me to become the person I aspire to be, although I mess it up frequently.

Yes, I mess up. I let days go by without writing or working on any of the other creative endeavors I’ve started. I get frustrated with myself or my family members, and sometimes I react badly rather than respond like the calm, cool and collected person I aspire to be. Some days the undone housework calls louder than the creativity, and sometimes the events of life do the same. This weekend, though, I realized that I have 100 days until my next book launch. It is a schedule that can change a bit, but there is so much to do between now and then. I’m working with a team of amazing people, but most of the work has to come from me. I recently joined a writer’s accountability group, and I’m excited to learn from them. I belong to a private creativity salon, and I am delighted and inspired by them daily. I have goals and dreams beyond anything I could have dreamed when I was younger, but I also have moments that stop me in my tracks, and I am reminded that this journey we call life is rarely a straight line. It is filled with hills and valleys and twists and turns and just when we think we’ve got it figured out, it feels like someone changes the rules. So what’s a girl to do? Well, today I’m putting one foot in front of the other and choosing to do what will make me feel better at the end of the day. I’m choosing to work my way through a to-do list that will make life better. I also put the kettle on and had a lovely cup of tea. It didn’t fix everything, but some days you just do the best you can. Right now doing my best means taking extra care to eat healthier, walk daily and get adequate sleep so that I can write most days and still keep up with the rest of my life. Our tentative date to launch a book about having an easier holiday season is October 4th. I’ll be starting a Facebook group for that soon with a working title of Happiest Holidays with a countdown and lots of extras along the way. Next Thursday, I’m due to debut my online course called Mom Mastery. It’s a four week course designed to help moms create a more peaceful and stress free life, so there’s much to do, and I’m loving life as much as possible while I am helping others to do the same. It’s a life I love and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. I hope you’ll come along and join in the fun wherever it suits you, and if none of it does, I hope you’ll continue to hang out with me here. If you know my life, you know it’s rarely boring, and my motto is almost always, the more the merrier. For those in the US, have a spectacular holiday weekend. For those in other parts of the world, I still wish you a wonderful weekend. It just won’t be quite as long as ours. As always, thanks for being you and have a great day.

Letting Go of Expectations

4 May

13139360_1215188035166506_7683767955186777276_n[1]If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know how I love a good spiritual kick in the pants. Today I got it over and over, and I finally surrender to the message. The first thing I read this morning was a beautiful blog post by my friend Shalagh who talked about things being personal, until we took ourselves out of the equation. Kick number one and you can read her post by clicking here: http://shalavee.com/its-all-personal-until-it-isnt/. Then I read a blog post about how we distract ourselves and talk ourselves out of dreams, but there was a bigger message for me. I got a huge aha moment when I realized I was putting enormous amounts of pressure on myself to re-coup all of the money that I invested into learning how to launch this book and create my upcoming course in a single day. I’ve used that money over the course of a couple of months, and as I told one of my coaches, I am so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even see it anymore. I realized this morning that I need to take a breath and let the Divine do its thing while I do mine, and it was this post that helped me get there: http://bemorewithless.com/dream/ . It’s time for me to grow and be willing to talk about the information I am sharing. It’s not about me. It’s about the information. In this case, it’s about moms and mothering and honoring those who do it well, including the ones you might never think of. Kick number two and it came with a bonus kick that the Divine’s timing is perfect, even if mine isn’t. Duh!

So the next few days, I will be dropping by and/or stopping to thank several people in my life. I am hoping to take a few pictures and share their stories but even if I don’t, I want them to feel appreciated. These are women who may or may not mother their own children, but they mother others. I’ll be at our local Children’s hospital today to thank the check in staff, some I’ve known for over 15 years, and to thank some of the nurses and clerical staff. Each has played a role in helping my son stay healthy and that’s why I wrote Everyday Heroes of Motherhood, why I am creating the course Mom Mastery and am co-hosting #LoveLetterstoMoms day on Friday. Today I’ll get a jump on it, but I hope you’ll find someone or maybe even several women to thank for all they do over the next few days, especially those who may not be recognized otherwise. Post it on social media and let’s start an avalanche of appreciation. Also, because of these two posts I’m asking you to jump on Amazon on Friday and purchase Everyday Heroes of Motherhood and hopefully you’ll be even more inspired when you finish reading it. Thanks as always for taking the time to read what I share. Thank you for being you and have a great day.

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