"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year of Eucharisteo?

For some time now I thought of the coming year as the year of facing and overcoming my fears. I do that. I give the coming year a theme. I don't do resolutions or even goals, not really. I just decide what I want to work on in the next 12 months. So that has been the name of 2011. You can imagine my surprise when my heart said, "Nope, I don't think so. I don't like it." Of course my brain argued, "But its been decided! The invitations have been sent and the napkins are printed." With absolutely no remorse my heart replied, "Don't care. Don't like it." My heart won.

I fully intend to face life and my fears head on this year and hopefully, every year to come. But I understand where my heart was going. It seems wrong to give my fears, the very things I am determined to shred to utter insignificance, that kind of pomp and importance. Why put my fears up on the pedestal of my year theme? Just trounced them, put them in there place, and be done with them already. Why not focus on something positive and joy giving? My heart wants to live in the yes not the no.

Not only did my heart shrink from the fear title, there was already another idea on the horizen. I like it much better. It is about gratitude, joy, and love. It is about living a life of yes. It is about eucharisteo. Isn't that an amazing word? It is greek. It means to give thanks. And that is what I want to spend my year doing, giving thanks.

We are blessed beyond measure. We truly are. If I am honest, and I do try to be, we are blessed with an embarrassment of riches. I often am surprised and delightly to realize my life is this good. It is not the life dreamed of because it is better than anything I dreamed of. I have an amazing husband, gorgeous and wonderful children, family that loves me, friends that stand by me, more food and stuff than I could ever need, and God's infinite grace, mercy, and love. I am seriously blessed. And I want to spend this next year giving thanks for it all.

Another thing I intend to focus on is paying special attention to the relationships in my life. I am sad to say, I take them for granted. I want to give them the love and energy they deserve. I have some amazing people in my life. I hope to take special care to love and nurture them. Ihope to develop deeper relationships with my friends and family. I want to know John, Hannah, and Logan more intimately. They are incredible people and more fascnating with each passing day.

Living the life of yes. I long to have a yes face, spirit, and heart. I want to be more intentional and say yes much more often, especially with my beautiful babies. We all know that yes often brings with it alot of mess! But that is okay, it is good. I want my children to have the freedom to explore and create. I want them to remember a happy, messy childhood with a momma who embodied the spirit of adventure and openness.

I intend to be more present. I read an awesome essay the other day that we rob today if we are fixated on the things of the past we cannot change or become too focused on the futre that has not, and perhaps will not come. Each moment is fleeting and shall never come again. Each moment is a precious gift from God. I pray I will learn to savor and celebrate these moments. I pray to remember that those ordinary moments are often extraordinary moments under a thin layer of disguise begging to be discovered.

Finally on a purely personal note, I intend to explore the joy of movement as much as possible. I hope to hoop more and include as many other flow toys as possible in my life. I was gifted a pair of mini poi hoops for Christmas. I am so excited to learn to work with them. I am going to a movment workshop in a couple of weeks and one of the cool things is I will get a poi set (not hoops). I hope to learn aerial exercises and experience antigravity yoga. I am eager to discover what my body can do if I allow it the necessary freedom. Playing with flow and movement has given me more joy, more peace, and more happiness than I could have even imagined. It has encouraged me to find the rhythym of my breath and my heart. It has taught me about the beautiful, flowing rhythym of life. It has been an amazing gift.

This is my Year of Eucharisteo. This is the year to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings covering my life. So, what does your heart long to do this year? Is there something buried deep wanting your attention? Maybe something not so practical but beautiful none the less? Do you have the courage to follow your heart in the coming year and enjoy the adventure and journey along the way?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What If Failure is No Longer an Option?

The presents are bought and wrapped. The few events I have schedule for the family are on the calender. The food I need for upcoming events is being bought as we speak. We are ready to go for Christmas. With those taks accomplished, my mind is moving to the New Year. I don't make resolutions. I don't keep them and then they are over. I do, however, set goals to work on. These have evolved to have a theme. The theme this year is "Overcoming My Fear of Failure". It is a biggie for me. Even talking about it stirs up the butterflies in my stomach. It is going to be good, scary but good.

This has me thinking about our culture of winning and how that attitude has affected all of us but especially me. Recently, I was involved in a rather heated Facebook argument about winning being the most important thing. I said it wasn't. I was lambasted by a man that didn't know me. He told me I had a horrible attitude and my attitude was going to ruin my children (that he didn't know if I had or not) and I was going to make them....weak! He was really serious about his position.

After much thought I have decided that for myself, growing up with a winning is everything cultural mentality is what really contributed to my weakness. Don't misunderstand me, I am not promoting the extreme opposite idea that you can't ever let your kids fail or lose becasue it will damage their self esteem and that would be horrible. That is just as bad. But here is my admission, my desire to win to suceed was so strong it created a debilitating fear of failure within me to the point I would no longer even try something if I could not guarantee extreme success. I simply would not even try. Then I had no possibilty of failure.

This attitude has robbed me of so much. Truth be told, I have a sneaking suspicion I am far from the only one. I believe this theft has happend on a mass social scale. It robbed me of experiences, growth, lessons to be learned, humility, overall it robbed me of the journey. The journey, I am quickly learning, is what it really is about. The end event or product is a small, small part of the whole if you think about it.

It also takes away from your personal relationships. These are far more important than winning in my estimation. The winning is everything mentality quickly produces a winning at all costs life. The ends justify the means. Run over and trash that person you refer to as friend because otherwise, they might beat you. That may snatch that victory for you. Don't stop to help someone on their own journey because that humilty and compassion is really just weakness. Winning doesn't have room for that.

Well, winning may not have room for that but my heart and my life has room to spare for it.

Let's talk about failure. Seriously, what if failure was no longer an option because your focus turned to the process of achieving the goal and the lessons you learned? What if you change your perspective to see the achievement is truly giving a goal the best you have? What if the best you have was less than your all because you desired to maintain balance in your life? These things are what I am thinking about with this coming year just around the corner.

A couple of practical things I am planning on doing is running a half marathon in April and studying aerial silk arts this summer. Both are scary to me because there is a possibility I may not be able to achieve the goals to the perfection I normally would demand. I can finish the half but will I have the grace for myself needed if I can't run the whole thing? Aerial silk arts is that cool thing you see on Cirque de Soleil, two long pieces of fabric hung 20ft plus in the air and the perfomer climbs and winds the material about her body and then turns every which way. Come on! I am almost forty years old! Will I be strong enough? Limber enough? Will I fall on my head in front of nubile 20 year olds? Will I have the humility and strength of character to laugh with joy when I do? Will I find beauty in the movement no matter how clumsy or unskilled? I truly hope so. I hope I learn these lessons.

So, I am embracing this journey. I am embracing the possibility of failure. I intend to explore my perceptions, my inhibitions, and my heart and discover the greater lessons contained beneath the surface of winning and losing. This year, I hope to grow more than ever before. Want to join me?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dealing with SADness

Each year I deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder or the winter blues. Last year the depression became a scary so I was ready to be proactive this year. It suprised me early. We have had cold dreary weather with nary a glimpse of sun until today. My Christmas joy came crashing down pretty quickly.

I have some natural ways I am dealing with this before I resort to medicine. Don't get me wrong, I don't have anything against meds. I have taken antidepressents in the past. I do have two reasons I prefer not to take anything. First, I am still nursing Logan and two, weight gain. Now the second might seem silly but I am not sure which would affected my mood more, lack of sun or regaining the weight I have worked so hard to lose. Trust me, this close to 40 I had to earn every one of those lost pounds in sweat and exhaustion.

Here is what I am doing to combat this dreary, crabby seasonal visitor.

Depression makes me crave carbs that are not good for me and sugar, traditional comfort foods. In the long run, those cravings will make me feel worse. So I look to nurturing food to help me through. I have increased my fruit and veggie intake, whole grains, and lowfat dairy. I have drastically cut my sugar consumption. I have some smaller size York Peppermint Patties that satisfy my sweet tooth. I try to ingest my vitamins through food but I have went back to prenatal vitamins. I am eating more vitamin C rich foods. I am looking for a quality Omega 3 supplement.

I don't feel like exercising at all but I need it the most right now. I start intensive training for a half marathon in mid January. That should provide more than enough exercise. I am exercising at a slightly reduced capacity until that training starts. I think it is going to kick my heinie.

I constantly have lavender, sandlewood, citrus, or a lovely blend burning in candle form or in the form of some essential oil product. This is a surpisingly huge benefit to my mood.

Tidy Home
Now more than ever I have the need for a tidy and clean environment. If I let this go, my mood quickly plummets. Daily straightening and some key chores keep everything up to snuff, so to speak.

Personal Care
For me, showering and putting on a little makeup goes a long way to keeping my mood balanced. On the really bad days I even pull out the eyeliner and make sure I have on fairly nice clothes. If I let myself be frumpy, my mind and emotions soon follow.

Intentionally Choosing My Thoughts and Focus
This is the biggest one of all. I ran into this amazing quote recently:

"If I did not simply live one moment to the next, it would be impossible for me to keep my patience. I can only see the present, I forget the past and I take good care not to think about the future. We get discouraged and feel despair because we brood about the past and future. It is such folly to pass one's time fretting, instead of resting quiety in the heart of Jesus.
-St. Therese

This speaks volumes to me. I choose each day, each momennt to live right now, to be right now. I want to be really present for my child, my husband, my life. I want to experience those moments as fully as I can and savor them. This act keeps me focused on the now and keeps me centered. That staves off the depression better than anything. Dreaming about the coming spring is no help if all it makes you realize is that spring is many long, cold, dark months away.

I tell you this to be authentic in my life and in my words. I often speak about choosing joy and fully immersing yourself in the moment. Those are wonderful and true things but this struggle is also a wonderful and true thing about me. This is another part of who I am. I want people to understand that all your parts are amazing because they come together to form who you are. Even the scary or less desirable parts shape you, maybe those even moreso.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Better Than Perfect, Real Life

Lately, I have found many people who seem to be putting their life off for something. The reasons are varied and appear to be endless. It could be they are waiting for the perfect job, the right spouse, the kids to be whatever age they are not now, until they lose 30lbs, until they get it all together, etc. There is an idea floating among many people that if they can just make their life perfect then they will be happy. I have oftenheard the lament, "Oh when will it be my turn???"

Well, two things, you will not ever make your life perfect enough to be happy and it is your turn right now! Happiness does not come from perfection. Happiness comes from learning to be content where we are and to release ourselves from the eternal and doomed quest of finding "the moment". They are all the right moments. It has to do with your perspective. If you insist on focusing on the problems and the less thans in your life then you are consigning yourself to a pretty miserable life. But if you choose to focus on the joy and beauty of every situation, you will find a peace and wonder filled life. And it is your turn, right now, to make this decision.

Don't misunderstand me, life is hard. There are challenges, pain, and even disaster. It is not all rainbows and unicorns. But even in the most difficult situations, there is joy and beauty. You can find them if you look hard enough. Or more likely, if you are just willing to open your eyes and see them right in front of you.

Many years ago I found myself in the waiting for my life to begin mindset. It saddens me to think of the time I wasted. There is so much more to life. When I finally realized what I was doing, I decided I would live in the moment and for the moment as much as possible. That was a turning point, perhaps the turning point of my life. Deciding to live in the moment and to really be present for life has given me a multitude of amazing moments. They are not perfect, they are better than perfect, they are real life.

If you are struggling, turn your focus. Focus on the amazing sunset that will never be seen exactly that way again. Listen intently to the sound of your child's laughter, she will never be exactly this age again. Snuggle with someone you love and feel your warmth combine with theirs. Rest in silence as your treasure that particular moment, that particular feeling that is unique to right then. Indulge yourself in enjoying the best friend whose very presence makes you feel 100 emotional pounds lighter and 10 years younger.

We have this life. This is it. There really is no do overs. You can wait around trying to reach a fantasy that will never come or you can run out into the world and embrace life with arms wide open, accepting all the beauty and all the pain. You can accept the all and live in this moment right now. What will you choose?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Comfortable Friends

Until recently, I sort of forgot about really comfortable friends. They can be old or new friends, that part doesn't really matter. But the important point is, you feel comfortable being yourself around them, really yourself. That's right, you are comfortable being completely authentic with them.

I am a really outgoing person when I am comfortable and at peace. I have no problem chatting and joking with complete strangers. Some of my most memorable encounters have been with people I never see again. There was a terrific encounter with a guy in a historic recreation that allowed me to discover I am a wicked hatchet throw with a balanced and well maintained weapon. It is who I am. It makes my life fun and supremely enjoyable. I would not change this characteristic for a million dollars, seriously.

For a time, I found myself hanging around people I didn't feel comfortable being myself. My true nature seemed to really embarass them. After awhile, I felt if I didn't just keep my head down and keep quite I would just upset their world to no end. The whole thing made me self conscious and start to second guess myself. Not a happy or freeing place to be at all!

Then I had an epiphany, why on earth I am spending my precious time around people who don't like me just the way I am? They only liked me, or at least it seemed to be, if I was willing to change who I was or tone it down. Well, toned down does not describe this woman one little bit. Passionate, exhuberant, intense, even explosive, but nothing resembling toned down. I decided I was flat out unwilling to change even if that meant I had no friends. Seriously, did I have friends to begin with if they all wanted me to change? I set out, as my precious friend Anita describes it, to find members of my tribe. Oh yes Anita, you are definately a member of my tribe. Those are people who accept and love me for exactly who I am. They may even choose to rejoice in my little quirks and eccentricities. I rejoice and honor them in return. I am so blessed to say that God quickly led me to many members of my tribe. We have been having such a marvelous time.

Today, I had an especially wonderful day in Old St Charles with my friend Holly. If you don't know what Old St Charles is, it is the old part of St Charles, Missouri. They are very into their history of being the starting point of the Lewis and Clark expedition and they know how to do a festival. Today was part of their Christmas celebration. Dickens characters, Santa Claus from around the world, and one hyper Sugar Plum Fairy (nope, wasn't me) graced the streets. There are tons of kitchy shops full of everything from real (expensive!) antiques, English and Scottish treats, the best baked potato soup, and handmade soap of french lavender. In the middle of this was a surprise parade. As I stood there threatening to tussle with a Dickens character that had earned to sobriquet "Mountain Goat" from an earlier enounter, I heard Holly laugh with joy. My soul and heart warmed with the knowledge that I had, once again, found a fabulously interesting and wonderful woman that was definately a member of my tribe. Glorious!

I encourage you all to find members of your tribe. Find people who love you and your unique character. Find the person that will proudly stand by you when you decide to go out, for whatever reason, in a lobster suit. Your life will be exponentially better. Do not waste your time with people who want you to change to suit their particular idea of what a friends should be. They aren't bad. They aren't "wrong". They just are not members of your tribe.

Heres to you Jef, the first person I knew to be in my tribe before I even knew what it meant.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Learning to Love or at Least Less Dislike Winter

I do not like winter. I don't. It is cold and it makes me grumpy. My hands crack and bleed every year not matter what I put on them. The air is dry which leads to constant thirst and more dry skin. I just want to sit inside covered in blankets and drink hot tea until spring shows up.

The only problem is my children. They have taken after their polar bear father and think 20 degrees is a lovely temperature for playing outside. They are ready to run out the door as soon as I crack it for the mail. A couple of days ago, Logan snuck out in the freezing morning in his pajamas and then howled with indignation and anger when I brought him back inside. Their love of frosty temperatures is incomprehensible to me.

But I love them, my children. So, I have invested in full winter gear. I have lined boots that reach my knees. They keep my footsies toasty warm. I have a great new coat that is water and wind resistent. It even has special cuffs around the wrist that hold it tight to my skin. I bought super soft and warm hats and scarves that I actually wear no matter how funky my hair looks. Gloves cover my chapped hands. I also have fleeces and turtleneck sweaters I layer beneath. I am searching for thin long underwear that will fit under my jeans. In other words, I am layered up and ready for the cold.

Is it worth it? Yes, it really is. Along with the cold, Hannah is absolutely in love with all things Christmas. All of the lights and decorations amaze her. Christmas trees in the middle of a crowded Walmart deserve intense scrutiny and compliments. She is simply transfixed by all things Christmas. So, of course, w0e had to go to the traditional small town Christmas parade.

It was so cold and so dark. She didn't understand what was going on but I could hold her attention because it was something about Christmas. Logan and daddy had left to sit in the car but Hannah and I stayed on waiting in the cold for the promised Christmas treat. I cuddled her close and whispered things in her ear. I told her how much I loved her, how she makes my Christmas more special than I could have ever imagine, that she is more beautiful to me than all the sparkly decorations. And then the distance, we heard the sirens and the music of the marching band. Hannah's eyes lit up that night. Each smile was full of joy and her face was suffused with the joy and happiness that belongs to children and a very blessed few. I saw those simple, small town decorations as dancing lights in her eyes. It was amazing. It was magical. It was breathtaking. It was still really very cold. Just trying to be real.

There I sat in my new winter gear. My body was almost as warm as my heart. It was a glorious night and worth all the layers and my cold nose.

So I am learning to love winter as I love all the other seasons. Why? Because contained within each season is precious memories and moments I share with my family and my friends. Because I do not want to sit out a moment of my amazing and blessed life let alone months each year. Now I have to go buy stronger hand cream.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Finally Here

For quite some time I have wanted to post a blog. I love to write and I think, at times, I have something to say that someone might be interested to read. Maybe, maybe not, but I do want to write.

My life changed drastically when I had children. Everything I thought I knew was swept away in a moment, gone never to come back. And I didn't want it back. My reality was wonderful. At times, it was hard, frustrating, and exhausting but still, wonderful. I set my focus on raising my beautiful, intense babies. Then rather recently, my precious boy became a bit more independent. I had some fleeting moments to rediscover past interests and delve into new ones. The sleep crystals of having young babies were wiped from my eyes and I saw a world larger than my nursery.

This summer has been full of amazing experiences. I have connected with friends, old and new, taken up fiber arts, found my relationship with Christ reenergized and refreshed, and stumbled upon the magical world of hoop dance. With these new experiences,I have found I have so much more to say and to share. I want to spread the enthusiasm to anyone interested in accepting this joy. I want to express the incredible bliss I feel when I am truly present in the moment. But I don't want to get bogged down in things that just don't matter. I don't want to waste valuable energy on superfluous junk.

That is where the name comes in.

Quiddity- the quality that makes a thing what it is; the essential nature of a thing.

I love this word so very much. It just speaks to my heart. That is what this blog is, or at least I hope it will be, the essense of my life, the essense of me.