Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Change of Focus

Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day. The annual day of green everything, celebrating a saint I know nothing about. This is the third occasion that I have been home alone this year. My husband Mark travels for work once a month and in the last two months he has been gone for my birthday, Super Bowl and now St Patrick’s Day. I realize to most super bowl might seem like a stretch, but I have always been a celebrator and any event qualifies in my book.

I spent the day doing my normal routine around my house and late in the afternoon I started making my dinner. I always make my grandmas boiled supper for St Patrick’s Day, boiling potatoes, carrots and cabbage along with corned beef if I’m in the right mood. Yesterday was just the vegetables since I’m not a huge corned beef eater and I had no one to share it with. I also always make a batch of corn muffins, mainly because I always have…no other reason.  As I went through the routine of preparing for my St Patrick’s dinner I was trying to focus on the process and not on the fact that I would be eating it alone. Honestly, why focus on the piece you cannot fix? What purpose would it serve for me to remind myself that I am alone?

Later in the evening I was texting back and forth with my youngest daughter and sharing how I had made my boiled supper and she shared that she had gone with friends to get a McDonalds Shamrock shake in celebration of St Patrick’s Day.  That’s when she texted me that “Holidays aren’t as fun away from home”. While I know firsthand how hard it is to be away from family during any holiday, I also know that there are worse things to get through and many times it just takes focusing on the positive. What can you do to make it better? I texted my daughter back and said, “You have to focus on the possible not the impossible”. Because I have been celebrating every little thing for so long my children have an expectation that the world does the same thing. The truth is some people just don’t care about holidays or celebrating. They were not raised by a woman who has plastic storage boxes full of every holiday decoration you can think of.


Too often we get caught up in what is wrong and push aside so much that is right. It’s like searching for a missing sock. You rummage through your drawer over and over again to no avail and then the next day you open the drawer and it is sitting right on top. You were focused on the fact that it was missing so intently your mind just stopped looking and focused on the hunt. All it takes is a change of focus. Stop searching for what you expect, want or need and focus on what is possible. Where you are right now is your starting point not where you were. It’s not easy but it is possible.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Plugged In

The world is an amazing place. There is not much that we don’t know almost immediately, whether we want to know it or not. Most of us are plugged into every possible form of communication device. We see video relays of everything, cute cuddly animals and horrible “caught on camera” moments that we wish we had not seen, as well as family and friend’s special moments. All you have to do is punch a request into Goggle and you have unlimited access to endless information.

This morning when I decided to write I grabbed my notebook computer. I stacked on top of the computer my IPad and then on top of that my IPhone…I don’t want to miss anything! The problem with this is that I have lost my ability to center myself. Rather than taking time for quiet reflection and calm in the mornings like I use to do, I grab my phone and my IPad and troll through everyone else’s business and lose touch with me. This amazing world of information at the ready is taking my focus from who I am and who I want to be and turning it towards other people, places and things. 

Being plugged in is great but somehow it feels a little like we are losing our humanity. We no longer call people we text them. It is quick, easy and involves less time. The downside is less true connection. We hide behind our technology. We also say things in our tweeting and texting and Facebook posts that people misunderstand or read wrong and we have no way of taking them back. The world is an amazing place but is it costing us our ability to be relational beings?


Somehow I hope to disconnect a little. It is not going to be easy, I have tried before. I start out pretty well and then slowly fall back into my past habits. There has to be a balance of enjoying the gift of technology and not falling down the rabbit whole of our WIFI world. You know what, maybe I’ll Goggle it!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Blessing in The Curse



It has been a while since I have sat down with my trusty computer to share my heart. It seems like every day starts early and is filled with much to do. Being this close to the holiday season we are merely two weeks away from nonstop activity. I keep stopping myself from panic and reminding myself that everything that is important will be done. I am just one person with 24 hours in my day. 

In the midst of busyness I am worrying about my children and all the things that affect them each day. One (adult) child just started a new job and I hope and pray every day that she is well and happy and successful. My middle daughter is in her transition phase of college and has started applying for internships. I have hopes that she will find a place that will inspire her and propel her into a lifelong work adventure. My youngest daughter just started her first year of college and she has been burdened with a mystery illness since we dropped her at school. There have been many rounds of doctor visits and blood tests and now we are going to try a specialist. Throughout this difficult time she has continued with school.  I am amazed everyday at how hard she works to maintain her high standards of study while struggling with an endless list of physical challenges. The answers do not seem to come fast enough when you need them the most.

On a recent trip to take my youngest daughter to another appointment I stayed with my sister who lives about a half hour from my girl’s school. It was a good time to catch up with her and also offered me some support as I worry and wonder endlessly about what could possibly be wrong. Staying with my sister always leads to long talks about life and family and this visit was no different. We talked about how recent family struggles had brought us closer together and how fortunate we were to have each other to lean on. It came to me as we talked that we had found the blessing in the curse. While we worked side by side to make our way through a tough time in our life, dealing with the deaths of our parents and handling their estate issues we had become good friends. We built a trust that still stands strong and a friendship the likes of which we had never had before.

I believe that finding that blessing was like adding a strong foundation and building upon it.  I look deep into every struggle mining for a blessing. While I fuss and worry about cleaning and preparing for a house full of family at Thanksgiving I can see how blessed I am to have a family to share thanks with. During this difficult time of wonder and worry over my daughters health I am able to talk with her when she needs me and go with her to the appointments she has to support her. I am blessed that I have the freedom to be there for her.  By looking past the perceived curse I am finding the hidden jewels of blessing.


While we cannot stop life from throwing us a curve ball here and there, we can be thankful for seeing the blessing as the ball whisks by. Many times it takes time to see the blessing. You may even be days, weeks, months or even years on the other side of the curse, but one day it hits you that there was a moment when the blessing peeked out and turned your heart.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bloom Where You are Planted!


The last few weeks’ random sunflowers have begun to bloom in my yard. I look out and see at least three sunny and bright Sunflowers with their shiny yellow heads tipped towards the sun. These sunflowers are no doubt forgotten seeds that were dropped as birds flew away from our bird feeder. This random unexpected beauty is a pleasant surprise every year and I always look forward to finding where the new crop will pop up. These dropped and forgotten seeds bloom right where they are planted sometimes in the most unlikely locations.

Each year as I see their stems reach towards the sky I become eager to see what they will become. Some years I have tall and graceful plants with large blooms and other times I come across the small but mighty bloom tucked deep in my garden with its bloom open and strong and its yellow petals begging for the sun. No matter where they pop up they bloom with strength and beauty.

You can learn a lot from nature when you think about it. Each year in spite of what winter has in store for us, plants and trees bloom again. In fall we watch as summers beauty is turned into colors of spun gold and red hot fires, trees that tower above us with warm and rich crowns that gently fall around us as winter comes closer. Once winter arrives we snuggle inside and watch cold winds blow frosty beauty all around us. Nothing stops nature it pushes forward.

I am reminded each year when I see these sunflowers that we must bloom where we are planted. We are the champions of our own happiness and we must raise our heads up and shine. We may not like where we are planted but it is up to each of us to make the best of the moment we are in and learn what we need to from each place life takes us. Today on this sunny day the sunflowers are opening wide and gathering up the sunshine to fuel them for another day. Why not spend a little time today doing the same and build up your sunny glow inside of you to carry you through. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Screaming in My Head with Eyes Bulging Out

So getting my youngest off to college has been…let’s see…the most freaking frustrating thing I have ever been through. I feel like I am trying to push a sock through a strainer! My baby girl is a sweet, loving caring person who has decided that I am Satan’s spawn and I have been put on this earth to give her ridiculous advice and boss her around in an “overbearing” way. I “yell at her about things that don’t matter” and I need to stop worrying about everything.

So here are the things that I “yell” about “all the time”.

The bedroom: All I can say is GROSS, how does she live like that? She is a bright girl with OCD germaphobe tendencies, but when she walks into her room apparently there is some cleansing rays in the door because all the things that she worries about everywhere else don’t matter here.

Packing for college: This is a pile in my basement that has no order at all. The pile started in her room, but we had to rescue the stuff before it became part of the grossness. I keep stressing about having to carry all this stuff into her dorm in large clumps rather than neat orderly boxes with her room number on them and a general description of what is in them. It’s a problem I have obviously, something I need to “get over”.

I have gone from a knowledgeable supportive mother to an overbearing, obsessive lunatic who rants on and on about cleaning and packing and being prepared. It is an ugly trait that I am not proud of. I wish I could be one of those, go with the flow, carefree mothers that knows that her child will figure it out in their own way, but the selfish narcissist in me starts screaming in my head reminding me that if things are not done in a certain way, I will be running around catching all the balls that are dropping an hour before we have to pack the car to drive our “baby” to college!
I know I am not overbearing, but when I hear my daughter call me that it gives me pause. I start over analyzing myself and basically checking myself out in my head. I think through every conversation to see where I went wrong and wondering why I am taking the heat for the pot being stirred while my daughter stands there in her garbage dump pointing at me yelling “MOM STOP I’VE GOT THIS!”

 I am obviously misunderstood.

Somewhere in the middle of this is the truth, but right now I am taking the heat for being the problem and for the most part screaming in my head. Other times I snarp at my husband wondering how he got coated in Teflon and is absolved of any wrong doing and then I realize he says nothing about any of it and becomes a rollie pollie and hides his head when my daughter and I start to go at it. How is a good hearted, well meaning mother ever going to be recognized for all her best of intentions when no one realizes what a good person she really is! 

All I can do is to continue to be overbearing, insist on all the items that we will be transporting are in containers (using the boxes that I brought home) and nag and “yell” my daughter through the strainer and out the door. It’s a good solid plan that has failed miserably so far, but it is all I’ve got the strength for since we are a week away from move in and a month away from being packed. One day I hope my daughter will thank me for helping her be prepared, but right now it is not looking like that will ever happen. I will just have to keep most of my concerns to myself and scream in my head with the hope that my eyes don’t pop out from the pressure.


A final note: As I reviewed my writing this morning, I realize I said WE are a week away and WE have a month of packing and I had an Ah Ha moment. WE are not going to college SHE is and if I put the weight of what she does not remember to pack or take with her on HER and stop carrying it on my back maybe I could relax a little and stop yelling. Something to think about…

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Working Girl

Today I start my new job. I feel like this job is the right job for me. I do not feel anxious or worried and I am excited. Having my empty nest only a couple weeks away I realize that having something outside of the house will keep me engaged with the world. I don’t want to stay stuck in a life as usual loop, so getting out and working a little, seems like the best way to keep moving forward.

Working will be a good way to learn new things and meet new people. If I just sat in my empty nest I would become bored and discontent. That would not be good for me or my marriage. There is also the chance that I would be focusing way too much on the empty part of my nest. Getting out regularly will give me things to talk about with my hubby and keep our time together more interesting.

The fact that my husband works from home is another reason why I decided to throw my hat in the job ring. With him in his basement office and me lamenting the perceived emptiness of my nest we could get very tired and annoyed with each other quickly. I kind of feel like my working will make our marriage survival rate increase. Think about it…eating, sleeping, working and socializing with the same person day after day after day has the potential to work as a relationship hatchet. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy it’s just that too much togetherness is just not good for any relationship.


So, off I go to get ready for work! I am excited to meet new people and learn new things. Most of all I am excited to work. Look out world, here I come!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Don't Just Stand There

I recently read that you are a runner if you run. I know this sounds crazy; of course you are a runner if you run, but I have never considered myself a runner.  A couple times a week and every now and then, three times in a week, I run in my subdivision. Nothing big just zigzagging through the neighborhood, listening to predetermined running music (only in one ear for safety) and each time hoping to make it home. I don’t run to be a marathoner or to be in the Olympics I just run because it is a quick and easy way for me to get some exercise and get on with my day.

I have always thought of runners as elite athletes that have toned bodies and eat shrubbery to stay healthy. I have a middle age body that does not avoid many foods except fast food if possible. I have never shied away from anything sweet or a good glass of wine and yet I am a runner. How can this be that I am allowed to be in this group of athletes? I feel a little guilty like I might bring the whole group down.

I don’t have a plan to train for anything. I will run a 5K (3.2 miles) race here and there if someone asks me to, anything longer and I tend to get bored. I marvel at the athletes that can or even want to run a marathon (26 miles). Don’t they get bored or have to go potty? What keeps them going? Yet these exceptional runners kindly include my wimpy neighborhood prancing as part of their sport. The reason being…something is better than nothing and runners (or most runners) don’t judge, they are encouraging and supportive and happy to welcome anyone into the fold.

I recently read that the fact that you get up and go run makes you a runner. I did not have to take a test or run a certain distance, I just had to get up and go and now I am a runner. When I cannot run I walk. When I don’t want to do anything I don’t and no one stops by and yanks my membership card, because I am a runner.


I am telling you all this to encourage you to step out today and try something, anything and make yourself proud. Don’t stand there looking at whatever it is that you have wanted to do but thought you couldn’t. Don’t talk yourself out of trying the one thing you have always hoped you would do but have not. Please do not let your age, your life, your family or your lack of ability, convince you that you cannot do the one thing that lingers in the back of your mind. Once you step out and just try the “I can’t” falls away and you too will become what you did not think you were. Suddenly you are part of a bigger group that does what you do and proud of yourself to boot. So don’t just stand there, do something!