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

Merry Christmas — and a day full of Peace!

Ah Christmas — that free-flowing, relaxed, pressure free time that we can just put out feet up and enjoy those around us!! Those around us are those that we hold most dear and just enjoy having around all year-long; no pressure, no stress and of course no guilt!  Such a wonderful time of the year!

Wait — What?  You think I am crazy? Well, the jury is still out on that, but you may have a point about my opening statement. Most of us, myself included have had the exact opposite of the peaceful, joy filled experience referenced above at least once in our lives. We live in a time where there is much pressure in place to make the Holidays “just so,” throw the “perfect party,” or simply find “the” gift; we feel the need to match someone else’s idea of Holiday cheer or be labeled a failure by others, or even worse, by ourselves. If for some reason we don’t spend enough, look long enough or labor hard enough, our Holiday is a complete disaster and we may as well have just thrown in the towel to begin with because we knew from the outset that we were just not up to snuff, so why did we even try?!  WHY oh WHY can’t Christmas just be over already!!???

OK  — STOP!!!  Breathe… good.  Inhale…Exhale…good. Repeat as necessary — I’ll wait for you!  🙂 Continue reading

Enough

Christmas — the most wonderful time of the year! At least that is what the song says, right? It’s the time for us to run out, make snow angels, smile all the time and just generally make merry and walk around with tons of boxes wrapped just so– right? So, what’s up with that?  Hmmm…

The reality of it all is that for many, maybe you, it is a great deal less than ideal. What should be a magical and festive time of the year has become a stressful, debt inducing, socially crazy and out of control monster. For others, it is simply a reminder of how things used to be, but cannot be anymore. Maybe due to the loss of a special loved one, lack of employment, sickness or a whole myriad of other reasons, Christmas just isn’t quite so joyous for you this year. I get it — I really do. Sometimes life just gets in the way and it is difficult if not impossible to overcome “stuff.” No matter how many times we are told to keep in mind the real reason for the season, we just can’t get there.

Even for those of us that absolutely adore Christmas it can seem that society has hijacked our perfectly good Christmas with a spirit of over-commercialization and grandeur that only the most wealthy are able to maintain. We feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’ or the Smith’s or whoever; then for some reason, instead of joy and peace in our lives we are left with a sense of guilt and shame that we “couldn’t do more.” Too often we are left just wanting the whole Holiday season to be done so we can go back to our normal lives and not worry about this stuff anymore.

Still others concentrate so intently on the baby that the man he became is lost somewhere in the shuffle.

I know some reading this will be able to say that they don’t fall into any of the above situations, and I say that is FANTASTIC!!! I just ask that you think about those around you that do.

Regardless of how you feel about Christmas — love it, loathe it or just don’t care at all — I want to encourage you to take a fresh look at the Season this year. I hope that you will find something — just one thing to start with — that makes you smile. It might be an ornament, lights or just the smiles on the faces around you — ANYTHING — Just choose! Once you do, you can go back to it in your mind’s eye when the negative “stuff” comes rushing in. You might just find that it is your anchor, your oasis. Because when we get down to it, at its most basic, Christmas isn’t about the gifts, the tree or even the lights and songs. Christmas isn’t even about a baby — it is about relationships; the true spirit of Christmas is not to brag about how much you love Christmas,or its true meaning — it is about showing how much you love people. Christmas is about giving — giving from the heart; sometimes that doesn’t involve any money at all. Christmas is about love…Christmas is a chance to make a difference.

Some time ago I read a story by Bob Perks in one of the Chicken Soup books. Part of the story included the following passage:

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”

For Christmas this year, I wish you Enough!

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

Crimson Flame of Solace

When I left Florida MANY years ago, I discovered that the pictures in magazines and movies paled in comparison to the in-person, up-close, majestic beauty of Fall foliage. Even as a child I longed to live in a place that allowed me to experience the changing seasons — to live in a place where my cooler weather is heralded in like no other. When I was able to fulfill that dream I was in no way disappointed; Andy actually likens me to a young child when I do see the colors suddenly pop out from the varying shades of green that cover the trees for much of the year. I like the comparison because I do have a sense of awe and wonder at the exquisite palate spread through the trees during Fall, and it doesn’t hurt that the cooler weather normally accompanies this painted canvas. I love that too!

Usually there is a tree or 2 that truly captures my attention because of its unusual or intense shading during this season. Memphis has been no exception, but it has been a little different. Since 2006 I have had the privilege to witness the most intense red leaves I have ever seen and it has always been on the same tree. This tree is my personal beacon that I am just a minute or 2 from my place of solace — a minute or 2 from being home. This year is a little bittersweet. My tree, my blazing crimson torch painted itself like usual; it always happens some time after most of the trees have already begun to adorn themselves in their Fall colors. When my tree comes to blaze, the cold weather is not far behind; another reason I love this tree so! Bittersweet, as mentioned before, because this will most likely be the last chance for me to observe its poignant beauty. This time next year, if all goes as planned, I will no longer be living here. I will no longer be able to take that last curve on the way home and see its crimson leaves waving me on, telling me that– no matter what has happened before now — home is just a minute or 2 away. Reassuring me that momentarily I will be in my solace — my safe place — HOME. 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

Almost There

For so long Justin has been the center of my life — as it should be. But lately the realization that my focus will shift in the not too distant future has been weighing on me. Don’t get me wrong, as he has grown up over the years I have done my best to foster independence and self-reliance, but somehow as the time approaches to put all of that into real life action, I find myself wondering, hoping and praying that I did the very best for him. Some will say that I have been too strict, others will say I have been too indulgent, and still others will say I was somewhere in the middle; the truth is — I did the best I could and that will have to be enough.

In many ways, the very essence of my job has been to prepare him to be able to live on his own without me or his Dad; that is something we have been praying for, literally, since before he was in our arms. As parents we are not given a book of any kind to help us navigate this amazing miracle thrust upon us. Oh, sure there are books out there on every topic under the sun, but none of them can be so specific as to apply to any one baby all the time. Sometimes you just have to wing it. Well, that is exactly what we did, but I am not going to sit here and pretend that we did everything right, or even close to it. I will tell you, however that we did everything the best way we thought we should. Over the years there have been some (sometimes many) that disagreed with how or what we did with our son — sometimes even family members. One thing I think everyone was clear on, however, was that we loved him and wanted the best for him. In the end that is what really mattered.

As we approach his 18th birthday and subsequent high school graduation, I am suddenly a little overwhelmed. Ok, maybe not the exact word I am looking for, but somewhat accurate nonetheless. Anyway, as that day approaches I am hit square in the face with many questions and wonderings; at times I question if I did enough to make sure he will thrive and not just survive on his own — other times I wonder if I did enough to foster a sense of independence that will push him to be his very best. The list goes on and on… Then all of a sudden out of the blue he will say or do something that speaks directly to these things and I am assured that he will indeed be ok. He still has a lot to learn, but don’t we all, really? After all, none of us know everything, so we are all still students of life. Right?

Now, before you start to think that I am wallowing in grief, self-pity or something else similar, I will tell  you that I am not — not at all. There are just as many days, probably more, that I sit and wonder at how well he has turned out and marvel at the future that awaits him. Because of (or in spite of) his upbringing he is an intelligent, strong, capable and engaging young man who truly enjoys helping others. Somehow, that helpless newborn with whom we were blessed is set to venture out on his own and put his mark on this world; he is almost an adult and headed off to college. Wow! Where has the time gone?! I think, for me, the simple answer is — it has gone into his life — every second — every tear — every smile — every moment — has gone into his life so that he can one day make a difference. He has already made a difference in my life, as well as many others, but now it is time for him to find his own path and seek his own destiny. Armed with what he has been taught, what he has seen and what he has felt; the good and bad together have created this wonderful young man ready to stretch his wings and fly. Now, the real test begins…

Now, the big question remains — when do I plan the BIG party? Hmmm… What? oh, no, not his graduation party thing. I mean the real party — you know the one — the one where Mom and Dad celebrate the fact that they not are no longer dealing with teenage high school drama.  YES — the one that comes the day AFTER he leaves for college.  After all — we deserve it, right?!  🙂

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