Monthly Archives: June 2012

prepare for THE RIPPLE!

    So many blogs I want to write… but after a week of reflection and a birthday yesterday, I feel like I mostly need to regroup.  We spent the day at Idelwild yesterday, which to be honest would not have been my typical birthday celebration. I was exhausted from a LONG night at work and of course after coming back everything with my passwords and internet sites were and issue and I worked over.  I came home about 3 ½ hours late to rush to Idelwild and back home to work again.   This morning I thankfully got to sleep in and wanted to write before I hit the ground running again.  As we walked the park, it was a beautiful day, very little crowds and made watching out for Sam at the water park much more enjoyable than usual.  I thought all day of all the things that were waiting for me and it made me feel like the beach happened months before not just the day before.  The only reminder of the peace at the beach was my tan. (= 

    Isn’t that how I always seem to operate life, by rushing through to squeeze everything into the day?   It was only moments of returning home that life struck me in the face – the grass needed mowed, we had a picnic to attend, then back to work.  I needed to fix meals for hungry family members and no one knew what they wanted to eat and even if they did there were no groceries because we used them prior to leaving.  Laundry needed done (proud to say all beach laundry is done even the towels – huge accomplishment).   And for some reason (actually many reasons) I am definitely more emotional than usual.

    While gone I had somewhat regrouped my head but that is easy to do when I am away from the life stressors.  At the beach, only beach time exists and the hardest decision is where to go to eat and I am not responsible for the cooking.  I think it is about returning home and facing things and reality.  The clean kitchen has a table covered with mail, my email inboxes at work and home have things pulling for my attention, the home voicemail has more things that need taken care of, and the list continues.  I have a full calendar of some very significant appointments this week.  Jim’s truck went to the shop this morning and he will likely be driving home a different vehicle with a new payment.  My check engine light goes off/on in my vehicle.  I have people adjusting my plans that I carefully laid out. Throw that in with another birthday and thinking that a whole other year of life passed by and feel like I don’t have the things (emotional, physical, spiritual) to show for it.  Of note, it is NOT an age thing – I turned 42 years old yesterday and am not afraid of my age – it is a peace and contentment thing.  I just think birthdays make you reflect a little more.  I think vacations make me also look at life a little differently because you are gone from the “normal” and when I return to the “normal” I don’t always like what I see. 

     In a book I started at the beach (of note, did not get as much reading in as I had hoped) it talked about regrouping, especially when undergoing things outside our control (i.e. financial downfalls, illness, etc.)  I need to look at the small things I can change and as I change them the circle can expand – the ripple effect will happen – and more things will change.  It is not my typical thinking of I have to get it all done – my all or nothing thinking stops me from making any change sometimes.  I must regroup and think of the little changes that can ripple into bigger changes.  So instead of thinking I need to conquer the whole house I can start with the kitchen table.  Instead of focusing on the 100 lbs of weight to loose I can focus on the first 10 lbs.  Instead of focusing on the list of appointments and deadlines I can focus on today. 

     Within my circle there will also be things that I cannot change.  I have to modify my attitude to adapt to the situation.  I use to say to my nephew and Mary – “You don’t have to like it you just have to live with it”.  I don’t always choose life the way it falls.  I did not choose for my husband’s truck to need replaced, but it does and must move forward.  My attitude must be in the comfort to have him in a safe vehicle with a warranty.   I did not choose to have to go to the doctor’s this week.  My attitude must be that I must do this to treat whatever or know I have a clean bill of health.  Sometimes my attitude sticks me in a rut as much as my all or nothing thinking.  I get wrapped up in life not being fair and never take the next step.  For instance, I don’t think it is right that my insurance does not cover my son’s autism and I have to go through the Medicaid office to get the care he needs.  This attitude delayed me from applying for Medicaid in some ways.  I can’t change this fact, but I did write letters to my employer to let them know my concerns and started the horrible Medicaid process.  It isn’t going away, but my attitude delayed it.  My attitude is often also the worst case scenario for a situation – prepare for the worst and pray for the best is often my thought process.  Unfortunately, I often prepare and dwell on the worst and lack on the praying part. 

    So as I celebrate another birthday, I need to regroup.  It is the only way for me to move forward in life.  It isn’t always about the BIG picture in life, rather about the little stones that will spread the ripple… I am preparing for the RIPPLE!!!

 Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that’s a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect. – Rob Reiner

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prepare to PAUSE

I have said many times before I am not a morning person…. but last night I looked up the sunrise time at the beach and got out of bed at 5:30 to not miss it. I positioned myself on our balcony and watched and waited. The beautiful pink turned to orange and then is shining across the ocean! The sounds of the crashing waves. Dolphin fins just a little out from the sand!  I wanted to experience this and so thankful I did. I may never get to see it again… life is too short to waste it away… I so needed this break to realize it! I recorded the sun and the waves crashing so when I forget I have that reminder. I am changing my phone picture to my children so everytime I go to answer it I remember they come first.  I have a big week ahead of me that can change life as I know it.. why do I wait for these life changing moments at the beach.. at home… at work?  Why cant I pause and seize a simple moment everyday?
    We joke while we are here about Jim getting a job here and moving.  To experience the beach everyday. We could escape back to PA for the grass and trees.  But God’s beauty and reminders are at home too.  They are just easier to see here because of the break from reality. If we went to work here it would be the same scenario as at home, I wouldn’t see the beautify because routine would block my view.  When was the last time I got out of bed early to watch the sunrise at home.. it is the same sun and the same God who placed it there.  We took a dolphin cruise at sunset on Wednesday – I cant remember the last time I watched this from home…
     Here it is easy to hear “be still and know that I am God”.  I have to prepare to press pause (no matter the location)!  It is not just location (that is the easy part here).  But when I leave I take the most important elements with me!  God never changes – He is here just as He is in PA… my heart and mind are also the same whether here or in PA.  I have God’s creation at home (although not the beach),  it is still His beauty! I need to push the pause button every once in awhile instead of always fast forward pace. Pause instead of slow motion when I start to get stuck in a viscous cycle if self pity and remember He is still God!. I need to use pause and * capture the sunrises and sunsets no matter the location, * tell my children I love them,* capture alone time with my husband, * for lunch and/or conversation with friends, *  read a few pages in a book, * remember this trip,  * enjoy more frequent small get aways for a few hours or a few days  * just BE STILL!!

Psalm 46:10 “be still and know that I am God”….

prepare to REBUILD!

Another day at the beach and finding that I am in more in tune with my surroundings as the rat race has slowed.  I make it a conscious effort to notice little things.  A habit I definitely want to take home with me.  I really planned to get my thoughts together this trip, developing a life plan and a routine for our crazy family.  I even brought a new calendar to convert over to – LOL!!!!  Instead, I have focused on the moment – just as it should be.  I think sometimes we plan our life away and always think to what to do tomorrow instead of just living today.  I had also planned to read more, but postponed for a much more fun activity – participating in building sandcastles and digging holes.  Again, a much better perspective…

I need to take a child-like perspective to live.  Living in the moment.  Yesterday we built mini-castles for Samuel to crush (= and despite them crashing, I kept re-building. We also dug a large hole near the water and despite the sides crashing in with the waves we kept re-building.  In daily life, I am not so resilient in many areas.  How many times do I feel like life is crashing in and I cave in to the problem instead of standing up and re-building.  There is nothing wrong with starting over and building on what is still there!  There is also nothing wrong with admitting something was a total loss and re-building from nothing.  A fresh start.  Every day should be a fresh start.  Every day I should be prepared to build on what exists or tear it down and start over.  How many times do I just wallow in self-pity or despair instead of stepping back and saying rebuild or start over?  I need to prepare to rebuild!

Every time we built the holes and the castles they were different, but still beautiful!  We did not have blueprints on how to build or dig – we just did it!  Sometimes a wall would cave in when we attempted to build the tunnels Sam loves.  Sometimes the tunnels became a bridge.  Things are not always going to work out the way I plan.  In fact, sometimes the best moments are those NOT planned!  The things not on my to-do list… or maybe I should just rebuild my to-do-list too!! Let it read more like a few housework items and the rest either blank or let the moments lead or fill with things that bring happiness to myself and/or family.

Yes, I still think about what I am returning to shortly – a house needing work, my health needing attention, my work needing my attendance, etc… However, I need not focus on all the times I tried and the plans collapsed, but rebuild my ideas.  Rebuild my strength.  Rebuild my resolve.  I need to rebuild my focus and not let all the collapses of the walls around me stop me from rebuilding.  The result may be more beautiful, more successful, and stronger.  Every time we rebuilt the castles, they were different but stronger because the foundation was stronger.  I need to rebuild my set of thinking on the foundation – on my faith and on my family!  When I take my focus off the foundation when even doing the little things including my daily to-do-list – the walls will collapse!

I am so blessed to have this time to refocus, to remember what is my foundation, and to rebuild my strength.  I need to do this more often…   Now for some more castles in the sand…

 

Matthew 7:24-25     24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

prepare to PARTICIPATE!

Amazing how generations have changed.. I remember as a child the fun was in camping trips without technology (although I also remember the rotary dial phones and party lines and black and white Tv shows). I remember the whole family involved in whatever the activity. If we went to our cousins home to play hide-and-seek in the dark or campfires, the adults talked while the children played.
In two days I have observed many of the things that I have found disturbing. Some I am even guilty of! It is time I PREPARE TO PARTICIPATE! It has been a huge conviction that our family works on that when we are together around the table we are together to talk to each other – not to consult our phones, our Facebook, our emails, etc. We are not always good at it and our daughter will remind us (although at times she can be the guilty party). Tonight at dinner, a stranger next to us even pointed out our flaw… Sam was on my kindle fire playing a game ( is normal escape from a crowded restaurant without any menu options that he is remotely interested in), Jim on his phone reading Facebook, Mary reading a real book, Mary’s friend reading a book on kindle… I just watched. Today however we had spent the whole day as a family and were escaping for downtime (at least that is our excuse).  But if a stranger observes it, why can’t I put that magnifying glass on my own family?
I dug a big hole in the sand for Samuel yesterday and some cute little kids were amazed and wanted to help. I knew it would be a meltdown for Sam to share his sandpit made with tunnels for dinosaurs. So I went over to where they were sitting and dug another large hole (big enough for 5 small children). Not complaining BUT the dad sat and watched me dig this huge hole and complained as the little kids helped and got sand on him! Then we introduced these little kids to sandcrabs and gave them a couple in their bucket.  Another dad in that group later in the day just dumped those sandcrabs in the sand way above the water because he did not want to take the bucket to the ocean! Shame on those men for not stepping up and not participating in those children’s lives! They missed a moment.. missed a story in their kids’ lives and let a complete stranger enjoy the moment, the smiles on their faces, that story! (and shame on me for all my missed opportunities in the stories of our children’s lives!)  It is easy for me on vacation to be involved because most of the distractions are gone.  I thought to myself if those men are not committed here where there is only sand, sun, water to distract, what are they like at home?
Tonight Sam and I went to the pirate ship… I watched as moms and dads just sat around and text and read on their phones while their children played. This is one environment I am 100% on duty because I know that no one else is watching their kids and at least one bully will show up! The little bully showed up and was throwing sand into other kid’s faces and then one little boy threw sand back.  The bully went to tattle to the mom… the mom who was on her phone and missed the whole thing defended the bully and then went back to her phone and he went back to being a bully!  One little girl peer her pants because her mom was too busy on her phone to see the “potty dance”. One mom sat and read her “Fifty Shades of Gray” book, which from my understanding is not a playground appropriate book. I did see one very attentive dad that when his boy fell in the sand he attempted to wipe off the sand and I handed him a wet one. He was grateful, cleaned up the little boys hands/ face and then leaned in to give him a kiss on the forehead. He participated… another couple was also attentive and made sure their 4 children were safe and having fun….
A friend of mine liked a link on Facebook about a hands free revolution – about letting go of our cellphones. I cannot just be a hands free mom (although that is a start!) I have to be a hands-on mom… I have to PARTICIPATE! I have to participate in my husband’s life too because if I am not involved in what he does and support what is important to him, in this society, some other woman may try to participate in his life (and not on my watch).  But that means I have to step it up for my children and husband!!! I have to stop making excuses with my weight… stop making my phone/computer more important than the moment. Will it happen overnight – no! But, I can put my children as the police… I also actually got in the swimming pool instead of sitting on the side enjoying a book… I did dig holes and castles and caught sand crabs (not just for my children but another one too lol).. I have signed up both children for cyberspace school and will be participating in their education…. But there are things I still need to eliminate to free more participation than just presentation in their lives. Just a few *my weight * my physical endurance *my disorganization in our home *my work schedule * my cellphone /electronics… of note all things changeable. I want my children to know I am not just there but I am a willing participant (:  (And now with the list out there it steps up my commitment)

prepare for MY NEW STORY

Which blog to write.. which blog to write…I just finished an amazing book… listened to it first on my Kindle and then read it again. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I saw it posted on Facebook on someone’s page. It is a very different book from what I would usually read… but it made me really stop and think. It talks about our life being a story. I am the main character and what I do / don’t do is my story. I am not sure I like all the chapters in my life. I think many have gone by without anything significant to say. Many times, I just exist and go through the routine of life. What does my character say about me.. What would others feel or learn by reading my story?
One of the chapters that really struck a cord with me was when the author was talking to his friend with a thirteen-year-old daughter – which hits very close home! The girl got involved with a boy who was on drugs etc. The author said to his friend she is not living a very good story. The more they talked the author described how the daughter lived this story because at home there wasn’t a story and so she chose one that was exciting. The friend pondered the conversation and then took a big leap of faith and re-wrote his family’s story by becoming involved in a cause outside the family as a family. The daughter dumped the boy because her family story was more exciting. What kind of story does our family have? Is it enough to keep our children engaged in… Family should ALWAYS have the better story…
Other chapters talked about other people and their stories.. Ordinary people doing amazing things.. The author took chances and faced fears and got off of his couch to make new stories. He was an ordinary man who realized not to wait for things to happen but to make them happen. He looked at life, as “that would make a good story”.
I bought a copy of the book for someone who is young and many chapters to write, Mary and I have talked about the book and what stories she could have. It is about being intentional in life. And also talked about stories do we need to write as a family. What awesome conversations! I have an incredible daughter with a great head on her shoulders. However, as a mom, I have to be sure I stay involved and interested in her story too!
He also mentions if I do not reach out, challenge, face fears and do something with my life…. I may be wasting a story God had for me.. OUCH! How many times have I allowed fear, procrastination, or laziness to stand in the way of my story? My I will do it tomorrow attitude… my I am too lazy to take the steps to be healthier… my fear of failure attitude. These attitudes have kept me from some great stories.
I need to prepare my story… I need to chose the chapters with care. I need to be sure my children are engaged in the story. I need to be sure my husband is part of the amazing story. I need to stop living in the routine of life! I need to let God author and help me write my story. I need to make my family main characters of the story over work and other “necessities” that get in way of my story. I have one story with prayerfully many more chapters! When I get to heaven I want to be sure that there is plenty for God and I to talk about… I want Him to love that I did not waste this beautiful life on chapters that do not matter… I want him to say thank you good and faithful servant for living mother story I wrote for you… here is to a new chapter..

“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.” ― Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life

prepare to PACK

Two things I hate about vacation – packing to go and packing to come home.  I have it down to a science compared to what I once did.  I have a very detailed packing list for each bag that goes (one per person, one for bathroom stuff, and one for electronics).  Every year I update the list before we leave with new items to pack (i.e Kindle fire,toys change for Sam, and power strips because there are NEVER enough outlets).  I  then take the packing list with us… the purpose is to check off the items as they come back home and to update it with things I wish I would have brought or had to purchase.  I also take pictures of all toys and movies being packed and leave it on my phone, so when we are returning Sam can help me double check his list with a visual versus a list.  Every year I place things in the garage in a certain location and Jim knows that everything will be there.

I will never forget the year that my parents and I went to a Quartet Convention in PA.  We packed for the trip and were so excited to get there that we…. FORGOT THE LUGGAGE at home.   We went to a Kmart and purchased clothes for the weekend.  At the time I could wear the same size as my mom so we shared.  Too funny, but we didn’t let it dampen our trip.  Jim and I have forgotten things on vacation, never our entire suitcases, but my motto is there is a Target or Walmart just about everywhere in driving distance.

The hard part for me and Sam is deciding what “extras” to take.  It is always a little struggle for him to leave behind his toys (and we would need a moving van to take them all) and I struggle when he chooses because I know that he will miss something while we are gone (so I often throw them in an extra bag).  It was the saving grace when we went toFloridabecause I packed extra toys and it was like Christmas to him to open the bag and see more of his toys.  I will give up space in my packing for the needs of the children – that is just what many moms would do (I hope).

The hard part for me is what books (my “extras”) to take.  I LOVE to read. I am a non-fiction feed my brain, soul, mind kind of reader.  I read to make me think about my life and to make it better.  So, I collect books always saying I want to read them and they sit on the shelf, waiting for that day.  I have a Kindle and can download books but really prefer a book on the beach mostly for the cost factor – do not want to get sand in my Kindle and as a mom you never know when you will have to drop your book to rescue / help your child.  So I had 20 books laid out – like I could get through 3 a day (lol) – and I am slowly dwindling down the number, but it is hard to choose.  What if I select the wrong ones or I don’t really like them when I get there?   I always take too many but when packing it  doesn’t seem enough (=  Somehow I think time at the beach multiplies!

What am I NOT packing – at least trying hard to not to take with me?  My worries, fears, regrets, failures, struggles, hard feelings, and our jobs! Last year was the first year I remember completely turning the out of office option on for my email and leaving work behind.  It I hard for me, but it is what I need to shut out more than ever.  Eight years ago at the beach I even accepted a new job.  It was the best decision ever made because I made it based on a clear head and heart.  Wonder what big decisions may come this year?    And why do we just do it once a year – I could use the renewal and shedding of extra baggage on a routine basis (p.s. I could easily convince this family to make a few more trips to the beach).

So what do I hate about the packing to come home?  It is leaving the quietness and the simple life.  We survive with just the basic and we all are happy.  We pack to come back to reality, to work, to demands.   This year, however, I am going in with a little different frame of mind.  I want this year to focus on myself, my family, and my hopes and dreams for both.  On my packing list to return home, I want to have them listed.  I am bringing  home * that peace I find in the sand, * the calmness of the sunrise and sunset rising above the ocean, * the togetherness we find as we reconnect as a family,  * a big peace of the simple life, *a renewed relationship with Christ, * a renewed family, and * a renewed me.

“It’s hard for me to put into words why I like  the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like  therapy…Beach Therapy.” – Amy Dykens

 

prepare to TALK TO MYSELF (and listen)

As a result of a whole day off, I had plenty of time for a meaningful conversation with myself and yes that can be dangerous.   Just on Sunday a few things had been said to me that really resonated – did they hurt at the time – absolutely.  But sometimes you need a person’s external assessment to check your internal assessment.  However, even worse in some ways than the words said, are the words NOT said.

It is so like me always seeking the approval from outside sources.  But when was the last time I had internal approval for myself?   Cannot recollect a time.  I always feel like it is never enough and then people say things that confirm that weak spot.   Sometimes the words people say will fuel a little anger in me and then fuel the “I’ll prove them wrong” and get it done.  But that is not the right fueling… I should get it done for ME and not to prove anyone wrong. But ME gets put on the back burner and though I love to blame people, things, and time for that, it is because I haven’t had the internal approval to say it is okay. I haven’t made the time.  I have over committed myself that there is NO time for me.  And then I tell myself the over commitment is for the kids or family and justify the no ME time. What have I done for me??  What truly drives me?

I am also guilty about having the internal dialogue and squelching what it says.  I guess better described as going “against my gut”.  I recently did this to help some people out.   I had a feeling that I would likely get the short straw but decided to proceed with adjusting my plans to accommodate others.  Next time, my internal assessment needs a megaphone and I hope it also has a good memory so I can pull from it so I know to say NO next time.

This week I read on Facebook a post by someone and I so wanted to reply that I could use the help to get my health in order.  But the internal conversation was that I can do it on my own.  I don’t need any help.  That is true in some ways.  I am strong enough to accomplish anything.  But just maybe an external voice to dive my internal voice would not be a bad thing… Something I definitely have to consider.

I had a phone call with the CyberSchool today and we are just steps away from everything being finalized.  I am excited to be more involved in their education and knowing that the children are okay. But, it is also going to be a BIG sacrifice and change in what we currently know as routine.  Stephanie (the representative) at the end said do you have paper and pen as I am going to give you a lot of information.  I quickly took notes.  My internal dialogue was you know you are doing this for the right reasons and because it is for the kids I will be just fine.  Now, at the same time I contemplate getting my master’s degree and the internal assessment is you don’t have time for that and what do you need that for and think of how much time it will take, etc… As a mom, why is it that my internal conversation is at peace when it comes to the kids but cannot be at peace for things about myself?

I do occasionally have the right dialogue or so it seems.  I recently contemplated making a permanent schedule change.  In my head I had it all figured out on how much it would change things.  But I was very specific in what I wanted/needed.  But my internal dialogue doesn’t necessarily line up with what the others wanted/needed apparently and the topic was dropped.  There would have been a day I would have conceded and did what was best for them.  This time I am looking out more for me but now my internal dialogue is wondering if I should have looked out for me.  Sometimes I just want to tell my internal voice to SHUT UP!

Vacation is just around the corner.  I sat at vacation with Big plans to change things.  Change things about me… I wanted to loose weight, run on the beach, wear a smaller bathing suit.  I have lost some weight and will be wearing a bathing suit 2 sizes smaller; however, because of my internal dialogue throughout the year, I did not get to where I want to be and definitely will not be running.   What was my internal dialogue that prevented me?  Things like: I don’t have the time. I have to work.  I need to do this instead.

Who knew talking to yourself could be so beneficial – lol!  I look at other people who are succeeding at their dreams and think what makes them different?  What makes them have it all together when my life seems so not together?  It is the internal dialogue.  It is the waking every morning and saying I am worth this change.  It is listening to the still voice in your gut that points you in the right direction.  It is in knowing that when you have a good internal dialogue, you take care of yourself.  And when you take care of yourself, everything else falls into place.  It is not letting your excuses quiet the internal dialogue.   It is listening quietly as the Lord whispers His direction and assurance I am not alone.  I have to PREPARE TO TALK TO MYSELF  — and say “Sheri, there is nothing you can’t do!” and truly believing it…