Braver, Stronger and Smarter

When I was a little girl…just a couple of years ago…I absolutely LOVED a certain cartoon bear named Winnie the Pooh! That relationship still exists to this day — he is a special source of comfort and friendship for me. It is for this reason that I introduced my son to him from the very beginning; it just so happened that Disney decided that the world had been devoid of a full length movie about that lovable bear and his friends not long after his birth. Before the time “Pooh’s Grand Adventure” was available on tape, we were limited to a variety of short videos starring this “tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.” From the very start, Justin was just as enthralled with him as I was; this of course was heavenly for me. There is one quote from that movie that still lives in our family. A. A. Milne had it right when he wrote: “Promise me you’ll always remember You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” To this day, those words have special meaning and touching memories tied to them for our family.

Isn’t that the epitome of what we, as parents, dream for our children — that they would be confident in themselves and their abilities? That they would be braver, stronger and smarter? Of course it is! Naturally, each child is different and one or more of those qualities will be more readily attained than the others. In addition to that, some kids are naturally more receptive to the encouraging we provide and even some of us, as parents, are a little lacking in the abilities to follow through with our ideal plan. Even with those limitations, we still hope and dream that our kids will achieve greater than we did and become the very best they can be and achieve lofty goals — because of, or inspire of, our own involvement.

Justin turned 19 yesterday and I wanted to write something on his Facebook wall for the world to see. As I sat there trying to come up with something particularly witty or sentimental, my mind kept drifting to the above quote; I quickly determined that this quote was exactly what I wanted to say and that I didn’t need to reword it or even try to catch the sentiment. I really needed him to hear — ok, read those words from me. Then the realization happened; at that moment I realized that I needed to say them. Not because I thought he had forgotten or that I was afraid he would not remember — I needed those words to flow between us because I just needed the connection. From his 13th birthday through his 17th, I was not able to celebrate his special day with him — it has always been put off for a day or 2…or 5 because of traveling with his youth group. They returned from the trip ON his 18th, so at least I saw him for a few hours of it. All of that was ok because I had the luxury of seeing him daily leading up to and following. This year is different; not only did I not get to see him ON his birthday, but I don’t get to see him daily any more. That is just how it works when college years attack. We are at the phase of his life that he is spreading his wings and learning to fly on his own. I guess in a very real sense I am doing the very same thing, but that is a good thing. (That is not the subject of this post, but it may come out in another — who knows?!)

The entire quote goes like this:  “Promise me you’ll always remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is,even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.

As Justin has grown and matured through the years, this quote has always been a part of our lives — and I expect it always will be. We learned it well before he started school and repeated it as recently as yesterday — its message remains the same. To be honest, I expect him to be telling me this one day as he moves on with this adventure called life. When that day happens, I will have to remember that I am braver than I believe, and stronger than I seem, and smarter than I think. But the most important thing is, even when we are apart, you (Justin) will always be with me. 

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

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The Storm before the Calm

Well, believe it or not — I AM BAAAAAAACK!!!!  When I started this blog I had plans to write something every week or two; in fact I did pretty well in the beginning, but I have not done so well over the last few months. I ask that you bear with me as I pick this up again and venture into my new reality…my new adventure if you will.

To say that a couple of things have happened and changed in the several months since my last post would definitely be an understatement! Between Senior Prom on April 26th, emptying the house on May 26th and finally making the final move to Nashville on June 4th, we had just a few things to juggle. A few of the highlights include college registration, family visits, graduation, graduation party, packing, moving, cleaning and a trip to Texas. This doesn’t even take into account the regular day-to-day stuff involved with daily life and having a Senior in the house and a husband 3 hours away, but I think you get the general idea — I was BUSY!  Oh, and did I mention that we made another move on June 15th into our current place? Well, yeah, we did that too. I think I am due for a season of not moving for a while.

There were times in the midst of this maddening chaos that I really did want to throw my hands up and just scream; I needed an outlet for everything that was being pent-up because of the seemingly unending list that I needed to accomplish. In addition to this I had my new “normal” reality pressing in on me too — Andy was 3 hours away and we had only brief contact daily and the occasional face to face visit when it worked out. I felt alone and at times all I could do was to stop, cry it out and start over. Those times weren’t often, nor did they last for an extended time, but they served as an emotional reset of sorts and allowed me to reset and begin again. Ultimately it all worked and I managed NOT to maim or murder anyone or anything! See — self-control really does pay off!

Throughout the storm of circumstances swirling about me I knew that it would ultimately be worth it — our family would be back together in the same city and under the same roof!!! I was SO ready for that! All in all that, along with my Faith was what brought me through and kept me going even when it seemed that all was lost and I would fail. Never have I ever been more grateful for friends, family and Faith as I have over the last little bit. Without a doubt– even in the darkest of my days — did I ever lose sight of that or my goal. Now that we have made it through this storm we can set sail into the open waters and see just what the future holds.

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Just a Number

We are a society of numbers — Social Security Number, telephone number, license number, address, weight, height, credit score, GPA, age, clothing size, shoe size, employee number, income, debt, ACT, SAT, school ID, password…the list goes on. Add to it as you wish. We are surrounded by numbers and there is no escape from them! Numbers are an integral and inextricable part of our lives; we have no life without a number somewhere, period. Some are in our control and others are not; that is a fact of life and I see no chance of that changing anytime soon. Yes, like it or not, our lives boil down to a series of numbers and the list is continually growing, so get used to it! (Doesn’t that sound all rosebuds and sweetness?!  haha)

Ok, Ok, Ok, so it is not all that bad and the numbers aren’t really out to get us…BUT how much power do they have OVER us? Think about it. I would chance to say that at least one — probably several — of the numbers I listed above send a you screaming or cringing in horror…Yeah, that one in particular… Perhaps another one — or two — fill you with immense pride and happiness for whatever reason. If I am like most of you, (and for this I believe I am) we have a few that we wish were bigger, longer or stronger and we have others that we really want to be smaller, shorter or weaker.Others, we just want to be DIFFERENT! The specifics vary for each of us, but the emotions run the same; we cower in fear of what the numbers tell us or rejoice with how good we look through their eyes.

For some reason our society has taken this necessity for numbers and turned it into an emotionally packed mine field that even the most confident and accomplished among us cower to their authority; numbers have come to symbolize WHO we are and not just stats about us. For whatever reason, society has convinced us that if our numbers aren’t in line with a predetermined mold we are less than worthy of respect or lower on the totem pole than what “everyone” expects. My question of the day is, Who in the world decided that one set of numbers (whatever category you like) is better than another set of numbers? Think about it – in our society we cater to the rich, famous and powerful. Why? Because their numbers fit what we have been told are the “ideal” and that is what we should be emulating. Well, if you dug into their lives or their head you would find that they too are striving for a certain set of numbers and they feel the pressure too! Guarantee it! Continue reading

Choosing Thankfulness

Three years ago, facing my first Holiday season without my Mom and a few other difficult situations, I was at one of the lowest points I can remember; I was having a difficult time finding myself. It was at that time that I knew that if I was to have a chance to move forward I would have to do so intentionally and on purpose — it wasn’t happening spontaneously. Somewhere during that October I decided to make November a month of thankfulness; instead of having one Thanksgiving Day, I would have 30 days of it. I purposed to start on November 1st and post something for which I was thankful on Facebook and I did it. Some days were easier than others but I did not give up and I not only made it through the Holiday season, I found a way to enjoy it — I had been able to move forward. My Mom was still gone and my difficult situations had not improved, but I had changed my focus.

Every year since, I have continued to do the same thing and I am finding that it is refreshing to stop and find something positive in each day. I am faced again with circumstances that could easily distract me and sap my joy, but I am again determined to keep my focus on the blessings in my life — and there are many. I have been reminded many times over the last 3 years that it is not always about the big, boisterous resounding events; it is often as simple as seeing my favorite Fall tree turn into a blazing crimson torch letting me know I am almost home. It is about stopping to notice the random acts of kindness going on around me each and every day. And it is in the great joy that a phone call can bring at the most unexpected moment. Life is our gift and it is up to us to choose how we focus our energy.

Since this is the first day of November, I want to start off my Thanksgiving month in this blog. So, to kick it off, I want to say that I am thankful for you, the reader of this blog. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read what I have to say! I greatly appreciate you and hope that you will share this with those you think would enjoy reading it too.

Now, while I won’t promise a blog every day — I can actually promise there won’t be 30 blogs this month — I can promise that I will keep looking for, AND FINDING things that bring positive to my life.

Let’s see what’s next…Thanks for reading!

Right, Left and Somewhere in Between

Well, here it comes — my political side emerges!  LOL  Don’t get too worried, I don’t go off on anyone; this is just a little bit of stuff that churns in my head that I finally let out.

I am an American and I vote. Simple, to the point and true; the problem is that it is not all that simple. I realize that some of what I am about to say may not sit well with some of the people who read it, but I can’t help that. I have friends throughout the political spectrum — far right, far left, middle and various combinations are all there. As for me, I am somewhere in the middle and always have been. If I were to share all of my political views, some would be shocked and others would be amazed, but that is not what you will read here. I am a firm believer in keeping that stuff private. When asked, I will tell you that I voted, but you will not know for whom I voted. If you don’t like that, I can’t help it — that is how I have always been. If you choose to share that information, well, that is absolutely your choice and I will not think less of you for doing so. I simply ask that you respect others enough to let them think, vote, feel and choose differently than you do. After all, that is the principle on which this great country was founded. NO ONE has the right to bully, belittle or discount others simply because they choose to exercise their right to believe, vote and live differently than they do. Once we start that, we are no better than the countries that stifle and hinder their people and their liberties. That goes for both sides of the aisle and whole range of the spectrum! I will defend your right to vote, believe and live how you choose, even if it is diametrically opposed to me — that is just how it is. We don’t have to agree on anything, political or otherwise to be respectful!

The voting process is not something I take lightly and hope that you don’t either. Our founding fathers set into motion a process and set of procedures that not only allows us as citizens to express ourselves, but provides protections for us when we do so. They were very wise men with a bright broad vision for what they expected our country to become; it is up to us to help fulfill our country’s destiny. Yes, I am quite aware that the system is less than perfect, but it is SO much better than many things they could have done. We have this system so we must operate within it and make changes; that can only happen if we vote and make our voices known. I have voted regularly since I was 18 and can say that my ballot has been cast in every Presidential race since then; not all of my choices agreed with the outcome, but not all went against either. I firmly believe that if I choose not to vote, I surrender my right to criticize the outcome. Harsh? I don’t think so — it is as simple as this — if something is a priority it will find a way into your life and into your schedule. Simple, yet not always easy. Continue reading

Living the Dream

“Living the Dream” means different things to everyone and I would never presume that mine is better than yours. Mine is quite simply, mine. I know that my dream is different from most and by the time you finish this you may or may not agree; the good thing is that it doesn’t have to be anywhere close. We are individuals with unique goals, skills, accomplishments, and lives. For many their dream includes a certain career, lifestyle, social status or wealth; mine was/is a little simpler — at least to me.

I grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida — a place many would consider ideal; for me however, is was anything BUT wonderful. As long as I can remember I dreamt  of the day that I would be able to leave the HOT, sticky, sand infested bug haven that is Florida. I even told my Mom as early as elementary school that I would never stay in Florida, but rather would live in TN, NC or somewhere else farther north with a change of seasons AND snow. Also included in that —  my husband and family would live in a 2 story house and be happy; at first she dismissed it as just one of those things kids say, but eventually realized how serious I was. Over time I became more and more convinced that no matter how much I wanted it, it was ONLY a dream — I had little vision for getting out of my hole in Florida. I felt stuck, but the dream never died and I always had ideas in the back of my head about how I could fulfill this dream life of mine. Sometimes dreams become a tool to help us deal with the realities of our real lives; this is exactly what happened to me — as long as I had my dream I could escape into an alternate reality and get lost — in a good way! Continue reading

At Last

From the time our children come into our lives, we start the process of teaching them to grow up, mature and take care of themselves. That is, after all, our main mission as parents; however no one tells you exactly what to do it so it is all done by trial and error. Their lives are filled with Firsts that begin at birth and continue throughout their life. The Firsts are the things we tend to remember or make note of somewhere– good and bad. Whether it be the first time they roll over, say their first word, take their first step, get their first boo-boo or their first heartbreak. We are there helping them celebrate or console their pain. That is just what we do as parents. As they grow and mature more Firsts come and go and they grow up right before out eyes. Continue reading