A Brief Expression of Fluish Thankfulness

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming thought: I need to write.

I often feel that way, so this isn’t something new or surprising. What was remarkable this time was that I haven’t sat to write or do anything else for about the last five days since our home got hit with the dreaded flu.

Yup, flu.

As far as I remember, the last time we had actual flu in this house and not simply colds with flu-like symptoms was when Zilla was an infant. That was the year of the horrible Swine Flu epidemic here. Anyone remember that? I do. She was so sick I honestly thought she wouldn’t make it through the night. I was never as scared as I was that night and have not been since. So let’s start with that – I’m grateful that Zilla made it through that awful night (and that whole experience) about eight years ago safely to be the light and joy of our lives that she is today.

Speaking of flu, I suppose I’m thankful that all three of us went down together. I know, weird. But in my mind, all of us sick at the same time means we potentially get it over and done with once rather than trying to avoid (unsuccessfully because come on, it’s flu) passing it from one to another in a never-ending cycle.

I’m even more thankful that we’re on the backside of it. The Hub was the first to be back in action and returned to work today. He has the immune system of steel and seems to be nearly back to full capacity. Zilla is next and seems to be just a bit behind her Dad. One more day of rest at home should do it. I, unfortunately, am trailing behind. Of course my RA complicates things so I’m not surprised, but I am getting a bit frustrated with the length of this. Still, I’m thankful we are all on the mend.

I am thankful for how much the Hub has been able to for all of us these last few days. Being the most upright and functional allowed him to keep all three of us well cared for. I am thankful for how completely pleasant and cooperative Zilla has been through the whole thing. She is a good and patient and compassionate soul and that has shone clearly these last few days. Being down and out when you’re a high-energy kid like she is can’t be easy. Honestly, we’ve all done a pretty good job of taking care of one another and, all things considered, done it with minimal stress or discord.

I am also so thankful to Lizzi for her brilliant idea of the TToT in the first place and for all the time and love she has put into it. I am thankful that she is willing and able to pass the torch to someone else to carry for a while. I’m thankful to Josie for willingly taking up the torch so we can all continue to connect and focus on the good in our lives. Participating in the Ten Things of Thankful hop has been life-changing for me so I’m glad to see it continue.

And now I see that I have about one minute to get this linked so I’m out. Time to get back to bed and kick this stupid flu.

 

 

 

Hello. It’s Been A While. (A Ten Things of Thankful Post)

It’s a good thing I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution to post here more.

Somehow I got out of the habit of delivering any finished product to this page. It’s not for lack of ideas or inspiration; I have a ton of things drafted and scribbled in my notebooks. They somehow just don’t make it to the page. If a messy desk is a sign of genius, I should be producing a whole lot more brilliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s probably more that I got distracted (not that distraction is new for me). It goes without saying that the headlines of late have been pretty overwhelming and that has definitely affected my state of mind. I had to back way off of the Internet and social media. So if I seem absent…I am. On purpose. Let’s call it self-care.

I’ve also been distracted by my physical state lately. There is no question that for the last week I have been in the throes of an active RA flare with a whopper of an eczema flare thrown in for good measure. A result of stress associated with the news? Maybe. Hard to say. At any rate, I’ve been trying to focus on what my mind and body need to be more at peace. It’s only fair to say here how thankful I am that my Hub and Zilla have been more than understanding, even though I’ve been pretty horrid.

So what else has been going on…?

Well, I guess my biggest news is probably that I entered a writing competition. Yup, I did it. I just put up a post about that experience if you want to check that out. If not, then keep moving along…

I actually have been doing a bunch of writing, but so far most of it has been for my eyes only. What will become of these efforts is yet undetermined. But the writing feels good. I have started a ton of things to join my semi-usual link-ups – Six Sentence Stories, Finish the Sentence Friday, and Ten Things of Thankful. But despite those efforts, I haven’t managed to join. I plan to remedy that moving forward.

I’ve also been reading a lot more lately than I have in recent months. More self-care, I suppose. That feels amazing. I read three of Bradbury’s books in a row – Dandelion Wine (a re-read), Farewell Summer (stunning), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (completely creepy in an awesome way). Right now I’m working on finishing The Martian by Andy Weir (loved the movie – book is even better) and I have about five things queued up to hit next.

Absorbing others’ words has been good for my mind and my soul. I’ve joined a couple of writing challenges for 2017 and choosing books for those has been fun and also helped me continue to take advantage of the offerings at my public library. I’m doing a handful of reads for folks I know who have published their books and I’m thinking maybe I’ll review those here on the blog and introduce you to to their work. Stay tuned.

What else?

Thanks in part to the accountability factor provided by the Graviteers, I’ve managed to hit a weight loss goal (again) so I think it’s safe to say that I am steadily working toward my weight loss and health goals. I’ve been walking more regularly and upping my number of steps each day (insert eye roll). That feels good. Next stop: The Bowflex machine. I’m laughing just thinking about it, but sure enough one has joined the team in our basement next to the treadmill and I’m planning to get on there regularly. Weight-bearing exercise is important for women, especially as middle age creeps closer on the horizon. So I’m pretty excited about that.

Kidzilla is kicking butt and taking names with her school work and all related sub-topics. That little girl works so hard and loves learning so much. I love that she sees hard work has tangible rewards. And speaking of school, the Hub is back in school working on a new degree – one more step in this journey of career change that was forced upon us. He’s also doing a fantastic job and just a few weeks in is already ahead of his projected timeline for this term. I am so proud of both of them. Shameless gushing. <3

I’m happy to report I’ve found my groove again in the kitchen. I don’t know what happened, but I feel like I pulled away from cooking anything decent at home and we resorted to bring-home or go-to options far too often over the last several weeks. Granted, the holidays are a strange time and then we were all so sick during and right after Christmas and into January, so maybe that’s just it. But even with my flares lately I’ve been happily tossing pots and pans around in the kitchen again. We’ve tried some new things and I’ve gotten back in my habit of rolling leftover parts of one meal into the next.

We’ve had pinto bean tacos with cabbage slaw, oven-baked lime butter cod served with the leftover slaw, some awesome Mexican street corn as a side – that was delicious. We tried mujadara – lentils and brown rice with caramelized onions – which is a new favorite here. Red beans and rice are always warming and satisfying, Salisbury meatballs were a hit for my meatball-lover daughter. Up tonight is a basic roast chicken because I’m out of chicken broth and need to make some. So I’m out to get that little bugger in the oven. Besides, I think I’ve rambled on here quite long enough.

I haven’t counted or numbered, but I’m certain I have at least ten things in here. For these and for so many more…I am thankful.

I’ve missed chatting with all of you here. What’s new and exciting in your life? What have you been doing the last few weeks? How are your self care habits? Talk to me…

 

The Turning of the Page

I don’t necessarily believe in putting the past behind me.

I suppose I do to a point; there are simply some things upon which it is fruitless to dwell. We certainly cannot change the past, but for better or worse, our past remains forever a part of who and where we are today. At the same time, though, we need to turn the page and move on to the next part of our story. It is not progress to throw down the book and stop reading because the events of a particular chapter are not as we might like. If we do not continue to move forward, we will never find out what the next chapter brings.

Making the transition from past to future feels much like turning the pages of a book. Once we’ve moved beyond each paragraph, page, and chapter, the words we have read remain part of our experience. They affect us, change us, and help us make sense of the next thing we read. Likewise, the words we have yet to read lie before us waiting to be taken in, savored, and made part of our experience. The only thing that comprises our present is right now, the moment in which we turn the page and move from what has been to what is yet to be.

As we turn the page from 2016 into 2017, I find myself tremendously grateful. This has been a good year for me and for my family in so many ways. We are healthy. We are safe. We have enough of all the things we need to sustain us and then some. We are blessed with friends and family near and far who love us. We have grown as individuals and as a family. I could not be more thankful. And while my little brood has certainly had our share of challenges and disappointments, I know that we have soldiered through and made great strides toward accomplishing our goals.

I am painfully aware that there is much trouble and sorrow in the world right now. I am aware that many people have found 2016 to be a harrowing year in many respects. Too many are not healthy or safe. Too many are lonely and separated from loved ones by distance or other means. Too many live in fear and pain. I suppose knowing this makes me appreciate even more the good that we have felt this year after several years of challenges for all of us.

In 2016, I chose the words Calm and Control to guide me through my days. While I will very likely never call myself a calm person, I definitely think that I have found a better sense of both inner and outer calm this year. I also realize that it is nigh unto impossible to be in control of every (or really any) aspect of life, but I have found strategies to help me better manage what aspects I can. I am better for it. My family is better for it. Better is good.

I would not say that any of us is “finished.” Like Franklin and Thoreau and Emerson and so many others, I believe that living life as a work progress is a good thing. Rather than striving for a state of completion or finality, the human spirit thrives when striving always to better the Self. As I look back over the words I’ve chosen each year for the last several, I can see how each one continues to weave in and out of the ways I think and live. Focus. Focus. (Yes, I chose this one twice.) Progress. Calm and Control.  Like all else, while they may not be my primary tasks, they remain with me.

And now it is time to look and move forward. As I turn the page on this year and begin the next, I know my word for the year will be Balance. I find myself saying it often lately and so it must be on my mind, at least subconsciously.

Balance is necessary in all things and balance exists in all things. There is no darkness without light, no failure without success, no sadness without joy. We all worry about how to balance home and work life, kids and relationships, work and play, family time and alone time, eating well and enjoying a pizza…and so much more. As we move forward in a world filled with so many things to worry and frighten each of us, I know it is important to seek the good and the positive, to find the balance that absolutely exists.

To focus solely on what is terrible can only prove harmful, just as never turning the page of a book can only leave the end of the story unknown. I, for one, would rather keep reading. I want to know what happens. I want to know how the story ends. And then I want to read another…and another…

At this time of year it is easy to talk about starting over and making goals. But I believe that every month, every day, sometimes every hour is an opportunity for a fresh start and a new goal. If moving through life is like turning the pages of a book, then there is always another page to turn, another story to tell, another book to read.

There will be challenges ahead; I believe they are necessary to help us find the victories. And so I wish each of you a story filled with challenges that will ultimately bring you health, happiness, love, and (perhaps most of all) peace in the days ahead.

xo.

 

 

 

Snow Days and Preparation – #10Thankful

Late Sunday evening and I’m finally sitting to think about my Ten Things of Thankful post.

That happens a lot lately. (OK, it happens all the time.) I start my posts early in the week, I plan to get in there on Friday evening, and then…life happens.

And I’m so very glad that it does.

I sometimes wonder if I’m too distracted to sit for a minute and focus on the moments and people that make me feel thankful each week. But it’s not distraction – it’s simply that I’m living my life and enjoying every last second of it. I am aware of the sense of thankfulness weaving and swirling its way through the moments of my days and taking its place in my heart.

I realized not long ago that what this means is that I’ve developed a mindset of gratitude and also of awareness. I don’t just go through the motions of my life; I live my life. That may be the greatest item of thanks there is for me.

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From a more practical perspective, I am quite thankful that I have several available leftover options for dinners this week. I have two choir rehearsals this week – both on Zilla’s karate nights, of course – which means dinner prep time is virtually non-existent. Dinner needs to be an absolute no-brainer and I’m prepared. I am also so glad that my family are willing consumers of leftovers and they never complain when a meal or a part of a meal shows up a second (or even third) night.

In these very cold days this week, I have been so thankful for a warm home, warm clothing, warm food on our plates, and plenty of fuzzy socks. I am painfully aware of those in the world, both near and far, who do not have enough of anything, no matter the season or temperature. I do my best to help where I can.

I have my week planned out and notes in my planner already. There is much to be accomplished this week, but having it all plotted gives me a sense of calm and control so I can wake up in the morning and hit the ground running. I just have to resist the urge to hit the snooze button and grab just five more minutes of snuggling before getting in gear…

Zilla was feeling a cold coming on today and asked for homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner and a batch of my “sick tea.” I love how aware of her self and her body she has become – not just about colds, but in general. She is growing into such an amazing person right before our eyes and it is exciting to behold. It is my hope and prayer that she continues to develop that gift of self-awareness in all things and use it to her best advantage. This weekend I witnessed again her beautiful and generous heart at work. I am blessed to know and to be mother to this child.

I am blessed with a wonderful husband and partner, too. We are a great team in all things from getting the chores and errands done to corralling three rotten cats to raising our daughter. I am grateful for all of the things we share as a couple and I am grateful for the things my Hub does for me every day, little things that mean a lot. He puts out my meds for me, he makes coffee, he makes sure we have the milk and creamer I like…and so much more. Those little things are huge.

While I still have a few tasks to accomplish this week and my house is far from picture-perfect, it is a place of love, warmth, respite, and joy.  I am happy here, even in the midst of a bit too much cat hair on the floors and a basket or two of laundry waiting to be put away. The chores will get done – they always do. We took advantage of the snowy day on Saturday and some empty hours on Sunday evening to simply rest, relax, and enjoy one another.  We read books, watched holiday movies and silly TV shows, did some decorating, and made some holiday plans and preparations.

Our hearts are ready.

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This Christmas

“This is going to be the best Christmas ever.”

This is what my daughter told me this weekend as we brought out our Christmas tree, shopped for some new strings of lights, and hung the ornaments on our tree.

We’ve been easing our way into our Christmas preparations. We like to take it slow, focusing on one thing at a time. While many people love decorating and shopping for Christmas over Thanksgiving weekend, we spend the entire weekend relaxing and enjoying time together, reflecting on the blessings in our life.

Not too long after that, though, we start to bring out our special Advent and Christmas books. We read every night, but we save these books for this time of the year. In the books of Christmas, we’ve read about the legend of the Candy Cane, the life of Saint Nicholas, and many more. We have books that range from short and sweet and silly to more serious and lovely and deeply meaningful. She loves them all. And I can’t wait to introduce her to some new-to-her classics this year. I think she’s ready.

We begin December concentrating on Advent, preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord at Christmas and she’s all over it. She helps find the Advent prayers to say as we light the candles each week. She insists that we bring out  our Nativity sets first – but no other decorations until later in the month. I don’t know how my eight year old child acquired such an appreciation for savoring each moment, each day, each individual joy, but she does and I am so glad to know her heart works that way.

Around this time of the month, we bring out the tree and start thinking about gifts for those we love. We’ve already gathered gifts for several donation collections and she has about three more she wants to help. She was bothered a bit that we didn’t take a food donation to church this morning – my fault, I forgot. How did my child gain such an awareness that there are others in need and that we are responsible for helping?

Her class worked on writing friendly letters in class over the last few weeks, adding a letter to Santa last week. Zilla finished hers this evening, asking only for two small things for herself. As she wrote, she asked my husband and me what “non-thing items” we would like for Christmas. I told her I’d like peace and happiness for my family, the Hub told her he would like the gift of time. She included those in her letter. I was floored. When did my little girl gain an appreciation for the gifts that money can’t buy?

We’re enjoying all the trappings of the season, things like hot chocolate and footed pajamas, warm slippers and cozy socks, candy canes and cookies, holiday movies and popcorn… And of course she is wound up and silly and taking full advantage of the slightly relaxed rules about weekend bedtimes and screen time and sweets, just like any other kid. But even in her silliness, there is balance, and it amazes me. Have I taught her these things? She teaches me always…

She gets it – all of it. She understands the fun and frolic and she understands the significance of this season in our faith narrative. She believes in Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus and in the gift of the Christ Child. She believes in what is right and good and that those things will always triumph. She believes in love.

My daughter believes this is going to be the best Christmas ever.

I believe she’s right.

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Two Days of Rest – #10Thankful

Sunday evening again. My least favorite time to write a TToT post.

Why, then, does it seem that I’m always doing mine on Sunday evening?

I thought I might skip this week because I have been sick. The yearly mandatory bout with bronchitis. I tried not to let it get away from me. But it did. It always does. I think I just have to concede that I have a chronic bronchitis thing and be done with it.

But let’s commence with the thankfulness because, honestly, I have too big a headache to give this much of my energy. Sorry. That’s just the way it is.

So first off, I’m thankful that I’m writing this at all. There, I said it.

Frozen homemade spaghetti sauce with cleaned and prepped fresh broccoli, all courtesy of our wonderful CSA membership. This means my family got a good dinner and I didn’t have to do much work (or cough all over it) to get the job done.

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I’m thankful that I didn’t tell off someone who really irritated me this weekend. Considering my level of crankiness due to being sick, that’s not bad. And I’m so very grateful for my mom’s friendship and guidance in that situation and in all others, always.

I have not made much tangible progress with my NaNoWriMo projects this week once we got past day one. But. I’ve been planning and plotting and doing some reading and research so as soon as I kick this germ out of me once and for all – or at least enough that I can concentrate on writing – I’ll forge ahead and hopefully catch up. And hey, I didn’t go bonkers and decide I’m a failed writer because I got behind the eight ball, like instantly. OK, maybe once. A little. But I moved on.

Here’s a little convoluted hypo-gratitude for you: I’m thankful that I’ve had bronchitis enough times to know exactly what my doctor would tell me to do and that I had all supplies and treatments on hand already. I caved and started the antibiotic this afternoon, but it was clear that we had reached that point. And I’m glad I had some at the ready in the medicine cupboard.

For hot tea and the Hub’s amazing coffee and all other manner of warm drinks to soothe my body and soul, I am grateful. For a pile of good books to plow through curled up in bed or on a chair or on a couch. For enjoying a beautiful autumn day (twice) from just inside the sliding glass doors while plowing through books. For my Hub and Zilla for being perfectly happy to have an at-home weekend while I’m sick and for the fact that we were planning that anyway since last week was crammed full. For the best snuggles ever with my Zilla. For tissues.

I am thankful.

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In Which I Tell You I’m About to Disappear – #10Thankful

This is going to be tremendously short.

First, let me say that I most definitely do not enjoy writing my TToT posts on Sunday evenings. If I’m here on a Sunday evening with fingers to keys, it means either A) I had a hard time figuring out what to put on my list, B) I was out doing stuff all weekend and never saw my desk or keyboard, or C) I plain old just didn’t get to it.

Whichever answer is true – and this week it’s B – I still don’t enjoy the Sunday night write because it just feels so forced and deadline-ish.

But. I’m doing it still.

The tremendously short version of my list of thankfuls is that we’ve had a wonderful weekend enjoying the completely not-fall-like weather (mid 70s the last two days – bizarre) and taking a little weekend getaway that we love. Fun. So I’m thankful we were able to do that.

I’m thankful the port-a-johns at the farm where we visited a fall festival today were unbelievably clean. I kid you not. And I’m glad we got to enjoy a  nice very not-crowded afternoon with Zilla and a cousin at said fall festival. They had a good time.

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I’m tired as can be, but I’m glad for that, too, because it means my body can get up and move around fairly well and my muscles got used in good ways. I’m also pretty thankful for a little ibuprofen and some tea and a comfy bed on which to put up my feet and recover.

I’m pretty thankful that no one in this TToT crew is going to mind that this is short (although is it really at this point?) and haphazard because hey, whatever you do is fine and this crew does not judge.

Finally – this is the thankful where I finally get around to explaining my – I’m thankful to have a (sort-of) plan that may help me reach some of my personal and professional goals. I’m about to kind of disappear for the next month. See, I’ve decided to go ahead and give NaNoWriMo a try again. Last year I put a project in the system and got exactly nowhere. This year I have three projects in the works that I want to make significant progress with and so I’m doing it. I have all sorts of reservations about NaNoWriMo – the obligation versus desire factor where writing is concerned, the actual quality of anything banged out in a 30-day mad dash, the realistic potential to sit and write that volume every single day… But you know what? I need these three things out of my head and in any form of semi-half-baked completedness on screen and page.

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So this space may remain empty many days. It is my hope to continue posting semi-regularly. I may not get around to read or comment or share at anyone else’s page for a few weeks. It is my hope that I will because I love reading all of you. My house probably won’t get cleaned very often if I’m writing that intensely. It is my hope…. Pfft. Who’s kidding whom? I wasn’t going to clean anyway.

I may or may not “succeed” in producing anything for NaNo. But if I’m absent in the online world, let’s assume it’s because I’m getting something done. You know where to find me if you want or need me and I’ll pop in at least for a bit – you know that much is true.

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And now I have to end this and move on, mostly because I’m falling asleep at the keyboard and it is time to go finish out my evening, put my kid to bed, and relax.

Pretend I left you with a snappy and entertaining close here.

See you soon!

~ XO <3

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An Awareness of Smaller Moments – #10Thankful

I always think it’s interesting how – or when – certain moments strike my awareness.

I spent all weekend half-thinking about writing this TToT in the back of my mind, but never quite sat to do it. It’s not that I don’t have much for which I’m thankful, it’s that every time I tried to come up with a list or a theme, the grander ideas eluded me.

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But I did notice small items of gladness and gratitude here and there – just nothing that I could really spin into a larger, more profound thought. Sometimes life is really just about the little moments, though, not the profound ones. Sometimes it’s about simply being in the right place at the right time to become aware of these moments that matters and leads us to gratitude.

For example…

Right now I am very thankful that Cat Three opted to puke on the hardwood floor, rather than the carpet. It’s usually the carpet that gets hit. We have carpet in exactly two places in our house – the stairways – and somehow the cats always find their way to the carpet when they get sick. So while I’m not happy to be cleaning up cat yerf, I’m pretty glad it’s not a carpet job.

It is fall – finally and for real this time, I believe. I am never more at peace than during the autumn of the year. I saw a line go by somewhere over the weekend that sums it up for me. It’s a half-line, really, and taken quite out of context, but still it shows up all over the place at this time of year. “Are we not better and at home In dreamful Autumn…?” is the often-quoted snippet, but there’s much more to the poem (“Autumnal” by Ernest Dowson). I love how well that expresses my feelings about this time of year, but am also glad it sent me digging for some long-forgotten words of poetry to enjoy again.

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I have a friend (actually more than one, now that I think about it_ who is having a tough time with some things right now. I can’t begin to ease the pain in this person’s life. I can’t find words that will comfort that won’t sound completely trite. But I can stay in touch, ask how things are, lend an ear, send a card…small gestures to say the least, but I know that they matter. So that’s something.

I’m bursting at the seams this morning over Zilla’s successes of late. She’s working hard, putting tools and strategies to use, and seeing very positive results. She revels in her successes and feels confident about herself – and it shows. This morning we discovered an unfinished homework assignment that a year ago would have been a huge setback for the rest of the day. Today? I saw so much resilience in her and it made me so happy. She accepted responsibility, handled it, and marched into school with the work finished. No meltdown. No upset. No kidding.

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I was struck the other night by just how wise my Husband is. I can’t quite remember what the discussion was, but he offered such calm and rational wisdom that I couldn’t help but see things more clearly after the conversation. He grounds me and reminds me to keep my eye on the big picture, and not over-focus on minute details. On the flip side, though, sometimes when I get overwhelmed it’s because I’m worried too much about the big picture. In those moments he reminds me that the way to get it done is to focus on one thing at a time. Why he’s so much better at sorting out which approach is the right one, I’ll never tell you. It’s just one of the mysteries of our relationship that I’ve come to accept and treasure.

I’m delighted to have a huge pile of books that I’m working my way through right now – some lovely fall reads, some new books by friends and acquaintances, some old favorites. I’m also glad to be able to make time to sit and enjoy them, even if I’m not getting through them as quickly as I’d like.

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I’m happy to have a plan right now. I’ve been working on some projects – slowly and distractedly without a doubt, but nonetheless surely – and after quite a few days of thinking, I believe I have a good plan in mind to really make some progress. More on that as we move forward, I suppose.

And at this very second I’m very grateful for alarm clocks that tell me it’s time to move to the next task of my day. So, friends, I’m out of here for now. I don’t have a link-up thing to share this week, but drop your TToT (or other post) link in the comments and I’ll get around to visit.

Have a wonderful week!

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An Easier Life – #10Thankful

Life is hard.

My daughter tells me of things she thinks are hard: Homework, carrying a heavy school bag, and waking up early for school are hard. Sometimes math is hard or getting along with other kids. She’s right; those things are hard. We talk about why they are hard and how to make them more bearable or easier to do. And I always tell her the same thing in the course of the discussion: “Life is hard.”

Because it is. And I don’t think it’s wrong or discouraging to be honest with our children – or ourselves – and acknowledge that fact. Life is hard for every one of us in myriad ways, and it just makes sense to be prepared for that fact, because I sincerely doubt that we are meant to sail through life unscathed.

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In his General History of Virginia, Captain John Smith writes that “everything of worth is found full of difficulties…” and life itself is no different. We will all struggle with something at some point in life. We will all need help to solve our problems or to simply get through the day, just as those early settlers did.

I wonder, though, if the challenges and difficulties we find along the way are what give life its substance and meaning. Is there truly anything in life that we find “easy” that doesn’t also contain some struggle or pain? Do those struggles help to define and enhance the victories we experience? Think of anything you love, anything you do and ask yourself if it is truly something that comes easily, without effort, without any setback or imperfection.

I’m willing to bet you can’t name one thing. I know I can’t.

There are dinners that have been burnt, drafts of stories crumbled into the trash can, relationships ended, unplanned career changes, and so much more. Disappointment, struggle, and failure may all be simply part of the process of living, learning, and becoming who we are.  We’re all operating without a handbook, doing out best to figure out this thing called life as we go along, but maybe that’s the beauty of it.

 

Somewhere in the preface material to his History, Smith also says, “Let no difficulties alter your noble intentions.” Maybe we’re meant to experience a balance of easy and hard, good and bad. Maybe we need to face problems and challenges so that we can learn how to solve them and pass on the knowledge we gain to others. Giving up when life gets hard won’t make things better, so maybe those hard times are ultimately the best path toward becoming more than we are today.

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Just over two years ago, I left my full time job to work for myself, to be at home to raise our daughter and do the things I had dreamed of doing for so long. I left a known quantity for something definitively unknown and uncharted, much like Smith and his fellow colonists. It was terrifying. Some days it still is. I left behind circumstances that were indeed difficult and frustrating, but this new life I’ve carved out for myself isn’t “easy” either – not by a long shot. In fact, it’s pretty tough and full of a whole new set of challenges and frustrations.

I worry about finding work and bringing in enough money. I worry that I will never publish the words I’ve been working on privately; and I worry that I will. Many mornings it is a challenge to get all of us organized and out the door and to our respective responsibilities on time. It is nearly impossible to accomplish everything on my to-do list(s), and I still struggle daily with how to strike the correct balance between work and family life, especially now that I work from home.

But what makes this life easier, or perhaps better than the version of life I lived before, is that I am living the life I was meant to live. I am being true to myself, embracing what I know is right for me and for my family, despite the difficulties along the way. There were difficulties before, so what’s the difference, really?

The difference lies in the fact that it is much easier to be who I was meant to be, rather than fitting into some imposed idea of who I should be – for whatever reason. I am ever thankful for the nudges the universe provided, telling me it was time to go, and for the people who encourage and stand by me each step of the way.

And so I’ll stay my course. Because even when life is hard, my intentions for myself and for my family are indeed noble; in fact, I would say they are necessary in order to create a life of true happiness and fulfillment. The early Virginia settlers had to leave much behind in order to find what they believed would be a better life. Perhaps sometimes we do, too.

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This week’s Ten Things of Thankful post is doubling as a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence was “My life is so much easier due to…”

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Building a Legacy – #10Thankful

Legacy.

So often, when we think of the word legacy, we end up at the definition about what property is left behind in a will or a particular online obituary site. Honestly, though, neither of those are where my mind goes first.

When I think of a legacy, I think of the more abstract, intangible gifts from our loved ones that stay with us long after they have left us. Rather than washing away like footprints on sand, though, there is something permanent that remains.

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I can think of many people who have passed from this life and what they have left behind. Most of these legacies are beautiful and positive; others less so. But in every case – whether positive or not – what remains is lasting and most definitely shapes the lives and the realities of those who follow after them.

When I think about all that I have collected from the ones before me, I think about how each of these gifts – each of these people – is part of me. I carry bits and pieces of my ancestors with me through every step of my life. And so I often wonder just what I will leave behind for my daughter and others who will follow me…

I have been given a legacy of great love several times over. I know what it means to be loved and cared for. I know that love is shown in many different ways. It is my hope that from these examples I have learned how to love and that I communicate that love to the people who need to know. I want my child to know she is loved and to know how to express her love for others.

I benefit so often from the gift of true wisdom, earned through lifetimes of trial and error, sadness and joy. I try to see all things in life as opportunities for learning and to perhaps gain some wisdom of my own from my personal experiences. I hope to pass on to my daughter any wisdom I might gain so that she may benefit from it as I have.

I have been passed a love for things like reading, music, and cooking by so many people. My interests, passions, and talents are my own, but I see them as a reflection of those same things in others who have gone before me. I am grateful to have been exposed to these things and share my love for them with my own child. I loved hearing stories read to me and I read to her so that one day she might read to her own children. I learned how to cook from my relatives and love having my daughter at my side in the kitchen learning how to do the same. I hear my mother’s instructions come from my own lips as I explain to my daughter what to put into tuna salad or how to prepare garlic bread.

I have also been left a legacy of uncertainty and doubt – one that is difficult to bear sometimes. Too often in life, there are words left unspoken and feelings left unexpressed, even if we might desire to do so. In some cases, we do run out of time and these situations are left unresolved. I endeavor to say what needs to be said to those I love now so they never have to wonder.

There are many more things I could list here, and there will still be many more to add as the years pass and loved ones move in and out of my life. I cannot possibly know what else will be gifted to me before my own days on earth are through. I am grateful for each and every piece of who I am that has been passed to me so far and for all those yet to come…

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But what I do know is that in each of my days, in every moment, I am building a legacy of my own to pass on. I do not yet know what it will include or whether it will be great. I suppose that is for those on the receiving end to determine.

I do know that whatever my legacy turns out to be, it will reside in those who come behind me just as the legacies left to me have been passed through generation after generation, growing into what I carry within me today. It is my hope and prayer that at the very least, those who follow me will say I left a legacy of living and loving well.

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In addition to being a Ten Things of Thankful entry, this week’s post is also a Finish the Sentence Friday post.

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This week’s sentence was “I want my legacy to be…”

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