TToT – Complications

I don’t even know why I call these posts ten things of thankful anymore – I’ve long since given up listing or counting anything.

I suppose it’s because that’s how it began and it’s how we continue to identify with one another. This is a great little group we have here and that comfortable identity is a good thing. You know what you’re in for when you see a Ten Things of Thankful post – goodness, gratitude, camaraderie, and a focus on what is positive in life, despite how bleak things may seem sometimes.

I guess that’s what I’m doing today – finding what’s positive in the midst of the bleak.

For example, I clearly spoke too soon last week when I said I was feeling better and pulling out of the flu. Ha! I went backwards from there ending up with horrible bronchitis as a result of the initial bout of the flu. This is what they mean when they say “flu-related complications.” And I can tell you that it kind of sucks.

So what is there to be thankful for? Well, I’m pretty thankful it’s bronchitis and not pneumonia. That would be way worse. At least with bronchitis I know the drill. I can’t say I’m enjoying the drill and I’m really kind of tired of dealing with it. But yeah, it could be worse.

I’m definitely thankful that the Hub and Zilla are back to normal. The worst thing they have going on is some residual coughing and maybe some residual fatigue. Nothing horrible. So that’s positive.

And they have both been more than helpful and patient with me while I’m still getting my butt kicked by this thing. It’s comforting to know that they can (pretty much) fend for themselves and not leave the house in (too much) disarray while I’m on limited duty.

I am thankful that I work from home and don’t have a boss pressuring me to go back to work sooner than I am really able. I’ve been there before and it’s awful. This way I can take care of me and still not get too far behind on things I need to accomplish.

Speaking of being at home, I’m thankful for the long weekend we’re having. Granted, we have all been inside recuperating while it’s a lovely and unusual 60 degrees out in February, but we’ve had the windows open and have been able to enjoy some extra time to get well. Zilla is catching up on missed school work and I love that I have a kid I don’t need to nag about getting the work done. And since the Hub works at the school, he’s off as well.

The only down side to all of that is, well, normally on  Monday I have the place blissfully and silently to myself. I work and put my week in motion. The Rottens sleep like crazy. But on a Monday holiday? Not so much. Still, the blessing is that we are all able to be home together. Not everyone has that opportunity.

I’m glad I got a bit of writing in this week that made it to the blog, even though it wasn’t much. I also got some writing done offline and got some helpful feedback on a couple of things I’ve written lately. I’ve also had a bunch of time to read so maybe I’ll finally finish the way overdue library book that’s been sitting here in my house forever. That’s all good.

And truly I love our new “extended hours” here at Ten Things of Thankful. Having the link-up open through Tuesday is so helpful for me. Rather than rush to get in before my weekend explodes or trying to cram in before the link closes on Sunday evening is proving to be a very good thing. Now I can do my Monday morning reflective TToT the way I really like to without feeling like I missed the party all weekend.

Oh! And I am thankful for new life. Two different cousins welcomed new baby girls over the course of the last ten days. Everyone is happy and healthy.

Life goes on…

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Ten Things of Thankful

Finding Your Peace

I’ve noticed a trend.

It’s nothing earth-shattering or headline-prompting like you’re probably thinking. The trend at the moment is simply that I, despite all good intentions to the contrary, have managed to miss hitting Kristi’s Finish the Sentence Friday link-up deadline for three weeks running. The reasons are varied, but the end result is the same.

There’s an upside to that scenario, though. As I look at my unfinished drafts, I realize the last few topics are connected. We’ve written (well, some people have…not me) about how to relax, about self care, and about what to do when we’re upset. The underlying theme seems to be how to deal with whatever ails us. And now this weekend, Kristi asks us to consider what brings us peace.

 

I am not very good at relaxing. Anyone who knows me will see how true that is. Even when I appear to be relaxing – reading a book, playing a game, watching a movie, even sleeping – I find it difficult to truly relax. I remember someone telling me when I was twelve years old that it’s easy to relax; just turn off your mind and think of nothing.

I don’t know how to do that. I’ve tried for more than 30 years and the concept still eludes me.

It’s not for want of desire. It’s just that ADHD will do that to a girl. One of my particular symptoms is that my mind is “on” constantly. It’s a blessing and a curse, really. It’s what allows me to remember every detail for every person in this house and work on a piece of writing in the back of my mind at the same time I pick up Zilla at school or make dinner. But it’s also the thing that keeps me awake at night doing all the thinking…

And when I’m awake at night is usually the time when my worries and fears come to the surface. It’s at night when that witching hour occurs, the time when everyone else is asleep and the only thing to distract you is late night horror flicks or sitcom reruns. It’s at night when everything else is quiet that those worries and fears break through the surface and whisper in my ear.

Like anyone, I have many things that upset or worry me; I have many things that frighten me. And I’m willing to be that you have at least some of those same concerns – our children, our spouses, our parents, how dirty the house is, paying the bills, paying for college, keeping the cat or dog from crapping on the rug, the headlines, the hatred, the world…

It’s pretty hard not to spiral into a constant state of frenzied unending stress.

But that’s no way to live. It wreaks havoc on our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. It colors the way we see others and the way we interact with one another. You want to know what I think is really wrong with the world right now? Everybody is stressed out and pissed off and we don’t know what to do with ourselves so we take it out on everything and everyone around us. It’s so much easier to scream about why we’re angry than to shout about why we’re glad, isn’t it?

When I’m upset about something, my Husband always tells me, “Hon, you gotta find some Zen about this.”

He’s usually right.

As a society, we have become so conditioned to living in a state of stress. We are told daily by all manner of input what to worry about, what to fear, and whom to blame for our lot in life. We have been taught to focus on what’s wrong, rather than what’s right. And if you ask me, we have become far too separated from the things that enable us to find peace – things like rest and prayer and meditation. We have become far too likely to rely on things like God and Nature for solace. And I don’t wonder how or when we lost that – just look through history and literature over the ages; the answers are clear.

What I wonder is why we allowed it to happen. How is it possible that we have allowed ourselves to stray so far from the essential act of simply being human? Why is it acceptable to so many of us to hold only our beliefs as true and to condemn and criticize anyone else who thinks differently? We are so focused on proving our differences that we have lost sight of our similarities.

So back to my Husband and the Zen thing. Perhaps what we all need is to find some Zen, to stop screaming about everything that’s wrong and how angry we are about it and just focus on finding some peace – about the world, about the news, about our partners and kids, and about the pile of laundry in the corner.

No, it might not solve anything right now. Yes, some may see it as inaction or passivity. So what. And for each one of us, that small act of finding some peace will look different. Maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s a cup of tea, or maybe it’s engaging in meditation or prayer, maybe it’s writing or listening to music, maybe it’s a bowl of noodles. It doesn’t matter. Go hit Google and you’ll find any number of ways to “find your Zen.” Pick one you like. But do it.

Start with you and start with now. Stop hollering about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and start finding ways to be in your world and to help and heal it. Maybe things will start to look a little less impossible and a little more clear. Remember that you can bang two rocks together until one breaks, or you can let water rush over them until they wear smooth. Your choice.

Allow for the possibility of the power of the human spirit.

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This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.

This week’s sentence is “I find peace from…” or close enough.

Finish the Sentence Friday is a link-up where writers and bloggers come together to share themselves with a particular sentence. If you’d like to stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our Facebook group

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…

 

My World at Night

I’ve never been good at sleeping.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble sleeping for one reason or another. Maybe it’s time to just admit I’m a lifelong insomniac. But whatever the cause, I often find myself awake at night when the rest of my immediate world is asleep.

I’d love to tell you something lovely and romantic like “I’m a writer; of course when I can’t sleep at night I get up and write all the things that swirl in my head.”

But that’s not true.

Well, sometimes it’s true. Sometimes I can’t sleep because I do have things swirling in my head that beg to be written down and won’t give me peace until I acquiesce to their urging. But other nights I can’t sleep because the words don’t come and I worry if they ever will.

Continue reading “My World at Night”

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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The Morning After

So. Here we are.

The election is over and you would have to live under a rock to be unaware of the climate this morning. Sure, about half of the people in the U.S. are mighty pleased with themselves this morning, but the other half are devastated.

I don’t do politics here on the blog. Or at all, really. While I have very strong feelings about such things, I have always held to the philosophy that politics, religion, and sex simply don’t belong laid out on the kitchen table. These topics create so much dissension and anger among people – even people who love one another fiercely – that sometimes it is better to simply refrain from discussions in certain public settings.

But today I cannot be silent.

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I cannot be silent when so many of my friends and people I love are hurt, scared, and angry. I cannot be silent when my daughter stands before me and cries at the results of this election because even at the tender age of eight, she understands that bullying and hate appear to have been rewarded. I cannot be silent when the new president-elect consistently spews hatred directed at so many groups of people in this country (and the world) – people who are simply different from him.

I understand that this nation has problems. It always has; every society does. I understand that people want change, and I don’t disagree that some change is in order. But I sat in front of the TV last night dumbfounded – dumbfounded – that this country just put a man in office who has behaved as this man does and who is so uniquely unqualified for the office in both temperament and experience.

How in the world did we get to a place where so many people are willing to tolerate this level of hate? In all sincerity, I want to ask someone who voted for him these questions.

I want to ask parents of daughters how they can back a man who has treated and spoken of women the way he has. My daughter is a woman. What does this presidency mean for her?

I want to ask people who know someone who is Jewish how they can back a man who delivers not-so-cloaked anti-Semitic rhetoric and is endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party?  My husband is Jewish. What does this presidency mean for him?

And the list goes on and on…

I have to say again that if you are unaware of all the insults and hate he has directed at African Americans, Latinos, Muslim and Jewish people, handicapped people,  the LGBTQ community, women, military personnel, and so many more, then you haven’t been paying attention. And if you are aware, why is that behavior acceptable?

Please don’t talk to me about deleted e-mails or pro-life topics or trade agreements or any of the other myriad reasons people cite as reason where this election is concerned. You’re going to have to come at me with something stronger than that. We can argue those points for the next four years and it won’t change the fact that above all, hate has somehow become tolerable. That is unacceptable.

This all reminds me of the movie The American President. Have you seen it? Watch it. Really. Set aside the love story angle and pay attention to the election angle between the incumbent President and the hopeful who is trying to unseat him. This guy spews hate at people, preys on their fear, and gets those who are dissatisfied with the status quo to buy into his attacks. One of the characters in the movie finally asks the sitting President, “How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can’t stand Americans?”

 

I feel like that’s where we are. And it frightens me.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, forward. That’s the only place we can go. But I will not move forward with the kind of hate and anger that has characterized this election season and continues to characterize discussions this morning.

I choose to do what I have always believed is the way to go – live with a focus on love, on kindness, and on compassion. Am I perfect in that regard? Of course not. But I sure do make the effort to be mindful enough to learn from any mistakes I make and continue to improve.

I choose to hold fast to my faith and to my personal belief that all things have purpose, even tragedy. We may not always recognize that in the throes of a challenge, but it has been my experience that ultimately, there will be an answer. If you’ve read here for any length of time you know how strongly I believe that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope for light.

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If you need a reason, look into your children’s eyes. Think of the people you know who are part of groups that have been insulted and oppressed in this country. If you need to know what to do next, think about all the similar instances in history where people turned fear and hate and disappointment into action. Do something. Join us at 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. Be kind to people. Period. If you need something to remind you why we keep working and keep fighting and never quit, read Thomas Paine’s The Crisis, No. 1This is not the first time we’ve felt down and out and it probably won’t be the last.

Be sad and cry if you need to. Wear black or whatever helps. And then remember what President Obama said in the Rose Garden just a little while ago – the sun is going to come up again tomorrow. So get up and go forward.

And please…always remember that Love Wins. Even when that’s difficult to believe.

Peace.

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I’ve added this post to the Finish the Sentence Friday link-up hosted this week by  Kristi at Finding Ninee and Denise at Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy.  

This week we’re talking about change and the unexpected.

The results of this election certainly qualify.

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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