Creating a List

Good Morning Monday-

I am not a complainer. Never have been. Never will be. I am a vent person (a “Ventor”). I had a really good weekend.  Got rid of junk I don’t need, cleaned the house a little bit, had dinner with my parents, went to our local art fair, purchased art from said fair, went to church and topped off the weekend with a trip to the rose park/duck pond with my beloved grandmother.

Somehow seeing her clears my mind. Perhaps it was hearing her recount her childhood. She looked down at the water and proclaimed, “you know, I never learned how to swim.” My number 2 child asked her why and she said it was because her father died when she was a baby and didn’t have a mother or father to teach her things. She wanted to be a nurse, she wanted to travel the world and see the things that she had read about. She was an avid reader.  She was raised in an orphange and quite frankly- she does have an excuse as why she didn’t get to accomplish some of her dreams.

So what is my excuse?

I have been thinking a lot about my last post. As you may or may not know I am an action jackson kind of person.  If you don’t like something the way it is. Then change it. Period. That simple.  Reinvent yourself. Tear yourself down and rebuild it to accommodate who you are.  Look at it this way.  We are constantly growing (or should be)  Who we are when we are 20 is not who we will be when we are 40.

Sort of like buying clothes.  You out grow them, emotionally, aesthetically and physically.  Who says you can’t reinvent yourself?

So that’s what I am going to do.

I am going to create the opposite of a bucket list.  Not that I think there is anything  wrong with a bucket list, but for me the emphasis on dying is not what it is about. It is about living true to who you are. So I am going to create a list of things that I am going to make myself accomplish to make sure that I stay me and don’t turn into someone else or someone that someone else wants me to be. And now to create the list……..

Nice Banana

I will make this post nice and short as springing forward has just about killed me.

So I am guilty. I took a hiatus.  I didn’t feel like writing about grocery store shopping, baseball schedules, basketball schedules, illness, breaking dawn, remodeling relived, storms, lack of rain, lots of rain, chosing schools for the kids, a bazarro hearing in federal court, conference calls with 2 people on hold, and three more calling in or the delicious carrot cake my mother just made.  Instead of sitting on the sidelines I was in the game and I played the whole quarter without any rest.  To say I am tired is an understatement. But it is ok. It is more than ok. I am blessed to have a body that allows me to keep up with my life- as I know that in the future eventually my body will become tired and worn out and I won’t have the stamina or the ability to go as fast and hard as I do now.  And really honestly, not that I want this to be a depressing post, it will happen to all of us eventually.  My husband’s best friend has a great way of living. He says God gave us this body- it is our job to use it to do God’s work and wear it out.  There is so much greatness in that view.

BUT BEFORE I TALK ABOUT THAT……

In the middle of one of my hectic days while on my hiatus, I was sprinting for the basketball court when what to my wondering eyes  should appear?……but a bright yellow banana without any fear. Right in the middle of the road, completely unsquished, I was quite sure this was an omen- but I just couldn’t figure out what.

Okay, okay enough randomness….but maybe that is exactly what it was- a distraction to distract me from myself.  Sort of like a board over the head- telling me to slow it down. Enjoy the bright sunshine, the laughter of my children, the sound of teenage boys battling it out on a basketball court, the smell of popcorn, the excitement of parents, the excitement of school spirit, the joy of having the day off to spend with my family, the gratefulness for a good job, a great family, a body that works relatively well and of course-

the humor in finding a perfectly unsquished banana in the middle of a busy road.

Swirl

Swirl. It is a great word. It can be an adjective, a noun or a verb.  Where I am from I usually associate “swirl” with this:

In all my time in tornado alley, I have not been hit by one.  Make no mistake, I have gotten into the storm cellar/shelter/fraidy whole, plenty of times with strangers I do not know, cellars that are musty, spiders in every corner with everyone huddled around a battery operated weather radio, awaiting the next report on the most updated location of the”swirling cloud”. I have gotten into hall closets with lights flickering, throw up bucket in hand (thanks to pregnancy) on my hands and knees praying that the thing won’t hit my house or take my life.  Sound dramatic? Yes. Because it is.

I knock on wood and do the sign of the cross in gratitude that I have been spared, but this is not the subject of this post.  “Swirl” is.  Have you ever been caught up in an emotional swirl?  I am in the midst of one at the moment. I have several people in my life that are going through very difficult times, and behind all of these crisis is someone who won’t do the right thing or didn’t do the right thing.

I am quite sure that the end of the world is coming, that Armageddon is at hand, the full moon that is non-existent, is making people crazy and getting rid of constants. With the exception of a handful of close friends and family, I find myself cringing every time the phone rings with more news of chaos.  I am nowhere near a storm shelter and in fact I feel as if I am in the open prairie. Run for your life.

Maybe perhaps we are really in the video of Thriller, where everyone turns into werewolves, zombies and ghosts that run up and down the streets causing havoc and showing their fangs. Chaos is a funny thing.  It can be like a tornado, sucking up everything in sight, tossing and throwing everything precious in its wake to far away places that are unknown.  But enough cryptic talk.

Emotional chaos in any form is draining. When people close to you are going through turmoil as a result of someone who fails to do the right thing, it is very hard not to get caught up in the same chaos.  I am a solution person.  I like to diagnose the problem and look for a cure or at least a treatment for what ails ya.  And my frustration tonight is that I have to force myself to recognize I can’t help everyone, I can’t save everyone, I can’t make people make things ok and you can’t help others to the point of sacrificing yourself .

What do I mean? As I was telling one of my very close friends the other night as we enjoyed a run to the craft store followed by an evening of sushi (I have to mention we ended up with matching metal fingers), we have to put the oxygen masks on ourselves before putting them on others.  There is a method to this madness. This is madness. You have to preserve the peace within yourself to continue doing God’s work, otherwise what good can you do when you yourself are a wreck? What peace, confidence, assurance, encouragement can you possibly offer when you yourself are not balanced and centered?

Just like the seasons, we each have our “swirl” moments. We are in the tornado. Maybe we created the tornado. Maybe we are watching the tornado. Maybe we feel a tornado coming.  Whatever the case, always remember, do not get too close to the cloud of debris.

Embrace

Embrace truth, it is always there if you want it.

Embrace who you are, even you can get lost and found.

Embrace frustration, it only means that you know you are capable of more.

Embrace being a warrior, if you don’t stand up for what you believe in, nobody else will.

Embrace love, it is contagious.

Embrace adversity, it is usually the change in the growth process.

Embrace difficulty it always contains opportunity.

Embrace quietness, it helps tune out the white noise of life.

Embrace prayer, it will bring you back to center.

Embrace kindness, it will remind you of the necessity of compassion.

Embrace mercy so you will not want to be the one being judged.

Embrace embracing, it is one of the most effective ways to transfuse love.

Embrace humor, it will help you find healing.

Embrace laughter, it is music from heaven.

Embrace creativity, it is the only unfiltered description of who you are.

Embrace searching, it will help you find your path.

Embrace forgiveness, it will demonstrate grace.

Embrace your blessings, it will keep you thankful.

The Benefactor Who Became the Beneficiary As a Result of a Few Mustaches

Last night I had a “you know that you know” moment.  If you haven’t been reading along from the beginning, allow me to briefly explain.

You know that you know comes from those moments in life that stop you in your tracks, often in astonishment and leaving you with the “deja vu”, “that was strange” or “that was a coincidence” feeling.  Come on ! We have all had them- and as I get older I have them wayyyyy more times in a week than I used to. I might even venture to say that I have then daily.

Perhaps these “know that you know moments” have increased in my life because I am more aware of them. Perhaps I, or we become more in tune with the universe as our life goes on and we are able to recognize these moments with more definition and more clarity instead of running right through the moment and not recognizing the significance of these quaint, personal experiences.

So now that you have a little history with you “know that you know” – we move on in our story.

My number 2 son needed items for his estimation jar.  This is a jar that is filled with trinkets that you place in a clear plastic container for the children to observe for the week. On Friday, the teacher has each child write down the estimated amount of whatever little goodie is placed in the jar and the winner takes home the goodies and the jar, only to bring it back on Monday with a replenished mystery amount of goodies.  Did you follow all that? Good.

Number 2 got the jar and I was on the hunt for the replenished goodie.  I stopped by the dollar store to scope out the inexpensive selection of various assorted trinkets made in China.  I phoned my Number 2 and gave him a few choices- we settled on something we thought would be a huge hit and then he told me we needed at least 22 trinkets to make sure everyone in the class got one.

I reached in my pocket only to find 6 dollars.  I needed 6 packages- and of course it is the dollar store- so I am short the tax.  I walked up to the cashier and told her I needed to go out to my car and get some change.

In a few seconds my mind flashed back to July where I was in the same dollar store purchasing a ton of balloons for a surprise birthday party and the college kid in front of me had gone over his budget and was in the process of putting items back.  I decided in a split second that however much he was short, just put it on my tab of 50 balloons and whatever else I was purchasing.

As I tried to remember the face of the person I encountered back in July, I turned to run out to my car- and then- the moment I had my hand on the door to go out to my car, a nice lady proclaimed, “maam? I have forty seven cents”- Maybe I was astonished at the kindness that is still abounds in the strangest of places. Kindneess in the dollar store? I am such a skeptic as beneficiary but not a skeptic when I am the benefactor? What is up with that?

I asked her if she was sure-  and then again if she was really sure- and she wanted to do it- and the really amazing thing is that I let her.

For any of you that know me or have similar traits as me, it is difficult for me to allow others to help me.  I like to be independant and depend on nobody. After all I like to be the person that helps other people.  I thanked her a hundred times and promised her I would pay it forward- I walked to my car extremely surprised at myself and asked myself what lesson am I supposed to learn – and it is this:

Once I was the benefactor who was blessed by the willingness of someone to allow me to help them. In that same store I became the beneficiary and was equally blessed.  Maybe we need to be just as willing to accept help as we are to provide it.  By doing this it allows people to become energized and excited about helping others, not to mention the opportunity to feel blessed themselves. They bless you, you bless them. Double the blessings.

The willingness to help others and the graciousness to accept help.

All the way around it is a beautiful thing.

And of course the thing we picked for the estimation jar was a jar full of mustaches.

Gratitude and A Jar Full of Mustaches

Between Now and Now

King Cake and the Re-Birth of the Next Part of the New Year

I know. I know.  I need to explain.  This is the annual king cake that our office receives from a very generous client.  We all gather in the kitchen and eagerly slice away at the king cake to see who is going to get the infamous plastic baby.   For those of you who have no idea what a king cake is- it is a cake that is often used for pre-lenten celebrations that has a little baby inserted somewhere in the cake. And you better pray that you don’t inadvertently bite the plastic baby’s arm off as you take a bite into your pre-lenten celebratory morsel. (*ha, ha snort*)

I did not get the baby. I wasn’t disappointed that I didn’t get the baby. I was absolutely without question amused at the way the baby came out of the cake.  As someone in my office proclaimed “it’s not breach!”, as it was served on a plate, this little innocent plastic baby was in perfect position to enter into the world of lawyering at our firm and be introduced to all the other plastic Mardi Gras babies lined up against the wall in our firm’s kitchen.  (and yes one of the babies is sans one arm)

This week Lent starts. Mardi Gras is on Tuesday- more famously known as “Fat Tuesday” where Christians all around the world are supposed to gorge themselves with rich and fatty foods, drink various amounts of alcohol or chocolate milk (whichever you prefer, me personally- I’ll take diet dr. pepper) and give insane reasons to show various parts of their nude bodies for strands of plastic, shiny necklaces.

This is all in preparation of the lenten season representing a time of fasting and self-contemplation.

Lent can symbolize a transition into newness. A re-birth of self. Making changes for the good-Similar to a New Year’s resolution, however for me it has a lot more accountability factor.  Lent is a spiritual resolution. It can be a real source of determination for all of us when we think of what it is and why it is.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. It symbolizes the beginning of the time where Jesus went out into the desert to begin the 40 days of fasting and prayer. Fasting is hard. It is real hard. If you haven’t tried it you should. If you have tried it and failed then you are in the same club as me. But I am going to keep trying even if it only means no meat on Fridays.  Lent is a time of sacrifice and self-reflection.  I do not know what I am going to give up for lent or do for lent. I am thinking about it.  I know I want to do something that means something. Something that I can be accountable for and actually achieve. Even if it is small-

Look at it as the beginning to a new spiritual year.  It is a changing process-where we can “listen” to the maps of our own individual journeys. Think about what you want to change in your life. What one thing can you do that will bring you closer to God and bring you more peace?

So many resolutions are built on between then and now.

My challenge is this- if you choose to contemplate the upcoming season of Lent- what can you do that will enrich your life and bring you closer to God- what is that one simple thing?  It may be taking a walk in the morning, turning your radio off on your morning commute and sitting in silence or prayer- maybe it is picking up a few extra groceries for the homeless every time you go to the store or practicing the discipline of training your mind to say only good things. Whatever it may be- try to remove the practice of thinking “what I can I do between now and then to be closer to God?” to “what can I do between now and now that will bring me closer to God?”