Archive | June 2012

Summer is here. It’s time to lighten up…

The last week or two have been an absolute blur, and the upcoming weeks are looking quite blurry, too.  Anyone with kids knows that, for whatever reason, schools try to jam pack as much activity into the end of the school year as possible.  There are concerts and plays and field trips and book fairs and lots of extra things to remember and make time for in a week.  I got through all of that only to have my 7 year old son come down with Lyme disease over the weekend, causing him to miss his last two days of school, and my last two days of productivity by my own too-high standards.  When my older six kids were school age, I so looked forward to summer vacation, and I am happy it is here now, too, but with more trepidation for some reason.  I suppose it hasn’t helped much that summer vacation began with an extremely sick kid.  Thank God, he is on the mend now and coming back up to full speed.

At the same time, my oldest daughter is getting married in nine days.  Of course, there is a lot of emotion that goes along with that, for her and for me.  I try to alternate my periods of feeling overwhelmed with hers, because my job is to be there for her when she is overwhelmed right now.  It is easier to do today than it was Monday when I had a kid with a fever of 103 who hurt all over, but…  Cake, favors, sashes all need to happen, as does remembering to remember everything.  Of course, I have to continue to work through all of this, now with a child in tow, because for whatever reason, money doesn’t just drop into my lap 😉  The bills do not disappear just because I have a lot going on, or a lot on my mind.  Something gives, eventually, and it has been this blog.

I was talking to a friend this morning who is quite a lot like me, right down to her temperament type.  She is full of love and compassion and understanding and when she has a friend in need she is the first one to listen and then tell them they are being too hard on themselves.  I know someone just like her.  Me.  I afford everyone in my life the luxury of being kind and gentle with themselves, but sometimes I forget to afford myself that same luxury.  God forbid I even have a less than kind thought towards someone who has been less than kind to me.  I feel as if I have lost my personal integrity because some very human thought spent two minutes in my brain.  She and I discussed this tendency we have to be overly harsh with ourselves.  We both know that we need to knock it off.

I know that I have come so far when it comes to treating myself kindly.  I have set boundaries and I keep them firm.  I do not beat myself up in the way that I used to do for mistakes, major and minor, and I no longer expect perfection from myself—unless I am cooking, or writing, or….;-)  Perfectionism is a nasty habit, and a hard one to break, and it is a form of self punishment that looks like something society really loves–productivity, ambition, call it what you will.  I can’t buy into it anymore.  I need to let go of the death grip I have on life.  I need to treat myself like a very good friend.

Just a bit ago, I sat outside as the sun was starting to go down and I could hear the birds chirping, and the “summer kids” down by the lake playing.  It is summer.  In the summertime, people lighten up, relax, and let loose.  From an age standpoint, I am more in the fall of my life, but I need to incorporate a summer attitude of internal simplicity that under girds my day to day living.  I need to continue forward with the work I have done on self forgiveness, and I need to stop trying to make up for lost time.  That time is gone, but what time I have now is absolutely lovely.  I need to lighten up for life and begin, finally, to bask in the warmth of an inward, eternal, summer.  If I don’t blog as much in the next few months, I will be at the beach with my son, or at my friend’s cottage on the ocean, or I may just be laying on the couch enjoying the silence, or the sounds of the loons on the lake, and allowing myself to be tired and to need a little rest.  I hope that you will do the same, my friends.

They say that one person cannot make a difference…

I have never believed that–that one person cannot make a difference–and I am glad that people like Albert Einstein, and Mother Teresa, and Steve Jobs didn’t believe it either, for they were extraordinary people who truly changed the world.   They had ideas and imagination and vision and courage and they took those gifts and used them to the highest extent that they possibly could.  I wonder what would happen in the world if we all did that?

A few weeks back I had an idea.  I have a lot of ideas, but unfortunately, I do not act on most of them.  In the past few months I have had to look at cyberbullying and harassment in the face from a very personal view.  I didn’t much like it, but I learned a lot about myself from the experience.  It has been an experience that has opened my eyes, and with my eyes open I began noticing things that I probably would have missed before.

I have an inspirational page on Facebook.  I was coerced into starting it by my friend, El Phoenix Farris, who writes Running From Hell with El.  She also has an inspirational page on Facebook by the same name.  One day I noticed that she has put up a poster about cyberbullying, and I had just heard that my brother-in-law was being cyberbullied by an adult and I had also come to the realization that my daughter had been viciously cyberbullied by adults late last summer.  When I saw El’s poster, I got an idea. Normally when I get an idea such as the one I got that day, which I feel is “inspired,” I think to myself, “Well, that will never work.”

However, this time was different.  I dismissed that “it won’t work” notion and I messaged El with my idea.  I said, “El, what do you think if we page owners all got together and had an anti-cyberbullying day?  A show of force of sorts.  I am new at this page thing and I don’t know a lot of page owners, but you do.”  I sent the message and waited for her response telling me why it wouldn’t work.  Instead, she was thrilled with the idea, but was about to take a mini vacation, so we agreed to discuss it upon her return.

The following week I saw another anit-bullying poster, this time put up by The Bridge Post.  Them I do know and have written for, so I went to Charlene and Tammy with an idea for an article on adults and cyberbullying.  They were excited by the idea and I began writing.  I also went back to El and told her about the article.  The next day we spoke by phone, and she’d brought in a friend of hers who runs an anti-bullying page on Facebook, Bullying is for Losers.  She also invited me into a group of inspirational page owners on Facebook and after I had been introduced, and had said my hello’s, and after waiting a respectable amount of time for them to get to know me a bit, (roughly an hour or two) with El’s nudge, I launched my anti-cyberbullying campaign idea into the group and was met with excitement and a ton of enthusiasm.

I had stopped being “just one person” the second I shared my idea with El.  When the idea was released into the group it took on a life of its own and a number of very talented, very dedicated, and extremely loving individuals made magic.  After having worked tirelessly all weekend long creating posters and content for their own pages, and for all of us to share, this group of magnificent page owners, myself among them now, held an all day anti-cyberbullying day yesterday that spread like wildfire on Facebook.  At the same time, The Bridge Post released my article, and the day was a day of overwhelming emotion as we all worked together to spread a very important message, each from our own unique point of view.  I simply cannot find words to adequately describe the impact that the day has on each one of us as page owners, and on those people who we are blessed enough to have visit our pages.

Some posters were shared many hundreds of times over, each a unique creation, and they are still being shared and commented on today.  Here is just a tiny sampling of some of the many, many posters that were created and released and shared all over Facebook yesterday:

Know My Worth

Running From Hell With El

Image: Photos & Designs by Piera
Words One Hot Mess(age)  Designed by Piera Paci.

Nothing but Respect

Read, Love and Learn

 

Art the Speaks by Alison Pearce

And my little contribution, poster-wise.  I am lucky I have a forehead left after all the banging! 😉

One Hot Mess(age)

I wish I could share all of the posters.  There were so many and a gallery is being planned.  The creativity, talent, and dedication by all of these people, each “just one person,” has me in complete awe.  Their spirit of love, kindness, collaboration, and light had me in tears more than once yesterday, and the outpouring of support from people on Facebook still has me reeling.  Last I heard, a radio station local to The Bridge Post was having an anti-bullying day today and they were in contact.  Who knows how far this can go!

Of course, there is no way to measure the effect of yesterday on the people who saw what we all worked to do, but I do know people talked, and shared, and were touched, and they thought, not just about not bullying themselves, but what needs to be done when we see bullying happening in any form, anywhere.  Seeds have been planted and who knows what will grow.

Each one of you is “just one person” chock full of ideas, passion, and light.  How many times do you have an idea and stop yourself from going forward because you think that it won’t work, or no one will listen, or that it won’t make a difference?  My idea ceased to be mine once I shared it and I give all of the glory for all of it to God, but had I never shared that simple idea what would have happened?  Nothing.  And yet because I chose to share it, to give it away, it became something astonishing because of the vision and hard work by so many people, all of them “just one person.”  We all have the spark within us that is capable of igniting a fire of goodness and love.   Take that idea you have—the spark that you have–and go start your own fire!  It is right there waiting within you!

Many thanks to Running From Hell With El, Bullying is for Losers, The Bridge Post, Living Happy, Happiness in Your Life, Always Leave ‘Em Laughing, Our Mind’s Meadow, Bedeempled Brain, Art The Speaks by Alison Pearce. A Victim No More, You ARE Enough, Know My Worth, Photos & Designs by Piera, What Makes My Heart Sing, Nothing But Respect, A Cowboy’s Hope for a Cure,Poopsie, What Makes My Heart Sing, Rebel Thriver, and Read, Love and Learn.  If I forgot anyone, let me know and you will be added!!

Living in the moment–a harsh reminder.

Monday on my Facebook page my theme was living in the moment.  Living in the moment is something we should all aspire to be better at, but every day life can be so distracting.  I try my best to live in the moment and fail often, and some days it is just plain easier to be in the moment throughout the day than others.  Yet I keep on trying to get to a place where I live in the moment every day, and cherish each moment in a day without labeling them good or bad, but instead precious and a gift.

On Monday morning I had said that we should cherish each moment because this one single moment is all we are guaranteed.  I meant that sincerely and I believed it fully.  However it was said and meant from a purely intellectual standpoint.  Intellectually, I believe that being fully present for each moment and being thankful for every moment in each day is the most fruitful way to live.  I do believe that with all of my brain.

It wasn’t until that evening that I understood what it meant to believe it and feel it with all of my heart and soul.  The feeling was extremely poignant and painful and very necessary to get the concept of living fully in the moment from my head down into my heart.  On Monday night I learned that a dear friend from high school and college had been killed instantly that morning when the car she was driving was struck head on by another vehicle when the other driver entered a roundabout going the wrong way.

One moment she was alive and well with so much to look forward to and one single moment later she was gone from life here on earth, and from the world’s of all of those of us who cared about her.  I don’t believe that she had even a split second to know what was coming, and for that I am extremely grateful.  She was a lovely woman who married her high school sweetheart and stayed married to him.  I sang at their wedding.  She had two daughters, one expecting her first baby and the other just having graduated from high school.  She loved the Lord so she is safe in God’s arms now and that is what brings so many of us comfort in spite of the pain.  We all are praying her family.

It is human nature to wish away painful or unpleasant moments.  Often we wish away entire days and weeks.  “I cannot wait for this day to end!” or “Is this week ever going to end”?  Don’t ever wish away a single minute, because we just do not know how many minutes we get in this life.  I know that it is hard to be thankful for each moment and day when times are tough, but there is always something to be grateful for, even on days that feel miserable.

The people in my life know how much I love them.  I tell them a lot–every time I see them or talk to them– because I’ve had that intellectual knowing of lack of permanence for a long time and I never wanted one single “I love you” left unsaid.  I dislike unresolved conflicts for the same reason.  But there have been times in my life when I have though, “I’d be so happy if I never had to see that person again.”  At the time I meant that also, but time does have its way of healing and now I’d be devastated to see those people gone.  It’s unfortunate that there are one or two people now that I often feel that way about now, because at one point I cared very deeply for one of them.  I am working on that with efforts redoubled now towards forgiveness and letting go fully.

My sister has a friend who is a very caring man and when you are around him you feel that.  On one occasion he told me that his motto was, “Wherever you are, be all there.”  I think he succeeds at that, and it is truly excellent advice.  In the midst of this week that has felt like one giant roller coaster ride I am working very hard to take his advice and be all there wherever I am, and with whomever I am around.  I am so much better living in the moment now than I was in my youth, but I have a long way to go.   I am committed to cherishing every moment in my heart and my head because those moments become memories for everyone involved and at some point memories are all that we are left with.  Go make some good memories today.

Celebrating life every day

Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!

 Amanda Bradley quotes

Today I am celebrating life because life is good every day, and God is good every day.  As a culture, we tend to wait for a holiday or a certain event to feel as if we are allowed to celebrate, but this way of thinking robs us of the opportunity to celebrate every single day.  We need to give ourselves permission to find cause to celebrate each day no matter the date, or the reason.

Perhaps you are thinking right now that there is no real reason to celebrate–that you have nothing worth celebrating.  That sort of thinking usually stems from a lack of gratitude for the miracles present in each moment of life.  It can take practice to develop an attitude of gratitude, but it is something that will change your world, and your view of life in general.  Even on a day filled with annoyances, distractions, and unfortunate events, there are things for which you can be truly grateful.  Start small by making a list of five things that you are grateful for and do this every day.  Over time you will find that your list begins to grow and then it will grow again some more.  Look around you, wherever you go, specifically searching for often unseen things to dazzle and amaze you.  As you begin to notice more, your gratitude will increase yet again, and as your gratitude increases, so will your desire to celebrate life daily.

Certainly, there are many conscious choices that you will need to make if you are not in the habit of celebrating life.  Deciding to feel grateful is one of them, and deciding to be responsible for your own happiness is another choice you will need to make.  You will have to choose to slow down and look around.  You will have to choose to begin to work towards becoming someone who sees the positives in life more than you see the negatives.  You are going to have to let go of grudges, and complaining, and blaming, and feeling sorry for yourself.  Those are big choices filled with huge responsibility to yourself, and others, and it will take work.  Begin by believing that, step by step, you can do it.  Choose not to get discouraged, or berate yourself if you have to keep starting over.  Just begin again and keep moving forward.

As you make headway with these thought changes you will find that you will begin to celebrate life without having to force yourself to do it.  Sometimes you will find yourself swept over by random gratitude waves so big they nearly wash you away.  You will feel joy and wonder for reasons others cannot quite comprehend.  Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.  Go on and celebrate anyway!

What does celebrating life look like in practice?  That will differ for each individual, so be creative and follow your heart in how you celebrate.  As you become a happier, more grateful, and celebratory person, do not hide your sparkle and shine, not that you really will be able to hide it.  Imagine what a gift you are giving your family and friends with your new way of life!  Think of the many excellent and valuable lessons you are teaching your children each time you dance with them for no reason, or bake cupcakes just because it’s Friday, or watch a special movie together just because you are so happy to be with them.  Your personal changes will have a huge ripple effect on the people around you, and you will find more and more to celebrate effortlessly, and so will the people around you.

For me a celebration can be as simple as painting my nails, or watching a movie, or dancing in my living room with my son, or outside under the stars by myself.  It may mean making a nice meal, or baking cookies, or cupcakes, or counting Lady Slipper’s as I walk up my hill.  I counted 43 yesterday.  I think that is cause for celebrating life, and I am doing that today, all day.  How will you celebrate this amazing life that you have been given today?  When you think about it, there is no reason not to celebrate!