Do Not be Discouraged!!

I have been given a gift; a wonderful gift. It is the gift of determination. When I was younger, some people mistook it for stubbornness. As I grew, some thought it was DRIVE, then ambition….then strength. The truth is though, it is none of these. It is simple determination. That does not mean that I wake up everyday with the ability to get everything done that I would like to. What it means is that throughout my life, I have had dreams and goals that have been put on the back burner, but have NEVER gone away. The determination kicks in and I realize it’s time. I bring them forward and work on them and sure enough they begin to become what they were always meant to be.

Why do I share this with you? Because as I sit here this morning I realize I haven’t written in a while. I hadn’t written because I was busy. I was living my life and building my dreams. The “balance” I’ve been looking for is happening. My business is growing and I am developing it slowly while still making time for my family and friends. It hasn’t been easy and my kids are often the ones who throw that balance off….asking for more and more while doing as little as possible for anyone… including themselves. (Human nature I guess, but something that has to be addressed.)

The joy though, is that I see it and am able to confront it head on with time and energy that I seemed to never have before. So what does this mean to you? It means, so what that you’ve left things on the back burner. If you feel in your heart the time is now…bring them to the forefront of your life. It isn’t too late. Determination to me means holding on when others would have long since have given up.

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Calling ALL Villagers!!!

We joke about it. We complain about it. Everyone KNOWS it’s happening, but no one seems to realize that this is what is wrong with our society. We are too dang busy and everyone thinks we all need to have double income families and all the things money can buy. Let me tell you what money cannot and does not buy. It does not buy memories or time we’ve missed with our loved ones. It does not buy back the opportunities we pass up because we have something “better” to do.

I know many people get reflective after a loved one passes, but this is not a new feeling for me. This is really my life’s purpose; looking to create memories for my children and teach them to cherish those memories. When I was a child, I spent weeks not just days with Grandparents and cousins. We had cookouts and get-togethers and traditions that were mandatory for family….not optional. As a teenager, I may have resisted that once or twice, but even then, I took a great deal of comfort in knowing that I had a large number of people to turn to, to count on.

I once heard a story about a band of young elephants that were invading a village and killing off the people. This was very unusual so people began to study it to try and figure out why it was happening. It was happening because the elder elephants had been killed off by hunters. The only way to teach the younger generation was to reintroduce older elephants back into the herds. The elders taught the younger ones respect and how to “behave”. It was what had to happen.

Now we already know as a society that we need our daddy’s to be involved, but what I lament right now is how so many other people just seem to put the responsibility of raising children strictly on the parents. If a child misbehaves, everyone judges the parents instead of trying to help. Whatever happened to the days when people just picked up someone else’s kids just because they enjoy spending time with them. My aunts and uncles did that with me. So did my grandparents, my music teacher, my pastor and his wife….the list goes on and on.

WE parents struggle because it feels like we are doing this all by ourselves. Gone are the days where grandma lived in our house and we could count on that extra pair of loving arms to help with the babies. Now she’s off “doing her thing” or is unable or unwilling to help. Siblings live too far apart or every adult in the family works 24/7. If you stay home with your kids, people stop inviting you places….”because you have the kids”. People stop just dropping by…”because the kids might be napping.” They forget that WE NEED YOU!!! We need each other. The kids need to have more adults around to be examples. Mom’s and Dad’s need more adults around to help us feel human again…not just like servants to the demanding little beings that have invaded our homes.

I feel like one of the SUPER lucky ones most of the time. I have super loving friends, in-laws and step-kids who work to keep the ties strong. Still, I am saddened that my own brother lives 100 miles away and doesn’t try to steal my children….and I really do wish he would. He would be the perfect person to teach them how to fish.

I call on you now Villagers. Think about your loved ones. Think of your nieces, nephews, grandkids, cousins, friends…whomever it might be….steal them for the day. Take them to the movies or just go hang out at their house to be that extra pair of arms. It really does mean the world to them….and their parents.

When to say No

I used to think that teachers were punished for being good at their jobs. “Oh you know Spanish…could you translate this? You’re good at classroom management, could you cover this class? You’re good at paperwork, could you be Lead?”

Now I know that that is just human nature. “Oh, you know how to X….then could you do Y for me?” I guess it’s a compliment. People are recognizing that you are good at something. However, during the last six months it has been painfully pointed out to me that I have an extreme problem with saying no. The wonderful thing is…that is changing. I have learned now to set my limits and understand when no is an appropriate answer.

While I’m still working on this, these are the times I think we all might do better to say no:

1. When you’re plate is already too full and someone is asking you to do something that is their responsibility.

2. When saying yes enables someone to continue self-destructive behavior or continue not to know how to do something on their own.

3. When you realize (like with your children), that the person is asking mostly because you always say yes and they are just used to you doing whatever they ask….even if you don’t want to….which brings me to the next one.

4. Say no when you flat don’t want to do what is being requested of you. (Of course this doesn’t apply to every situation, but use common sense here.)

5. When saying yes makes you resentful or angry. (I think this one is VERY important when dealing with loved ones.)

6. Say no when someone has asked too much of you because if you don’t yet…you will eventually get angry or resentful.

7. Say no when you are not feeling well. Saying yes here is just self-destructive.

Now as I have already pointed out, common sense is very important here. There are times in life when we all just need to step up and take on something we don’t necessarily want to. That’s just the nature of life. We will have to plan funerals, pay bills and take care of family even when it isn’t exactly what we want to do. For me to help determine when to say yes, I simply ask myself three questions: Is this something I want to do? Will this really help this person? Is this in any way my responsibility or should this person be handling this on their own? These answers are not always clear cut, but they help me make my decision.

My new direction in life has allowed me to take on and say yes to the things I LOVE to do which is take care of my kids and my grandkids and spend more time with family in general and as I finish my class, I can expand those happy moments to include more of my friends and family. I just hope I can stay strong and keep up my new boundaries without going to extremes in any direction. My hope is that I can and that my relationships will actually be stronger because of it. (The search for Balance continues…)

My Change One (Friday’s inspiration)

Inspired by the Reader’s Digest Change One, I’ve decided that instead of making HUGE changes to my diet all at once, I will change only one thing at a time. Now I may change one thing a day or one thing a week….depending on my willpower. So here are a few of the changes I’ve made this year already changing just one thing at a time.

* No more sugar in my coffee
* Drinking 2-4 cups of Green Tea a day
* Walking or riding my bike while my girls ride their bikes (a couple of times a week at least)
* Cook one truly healthy meal a day
* Eating less flour tortillas & less chips

These are very simple changes, but I’ve already lost three pounds. Why do I tell you this? Maybe you have a goal that seems unreachable. Break it down into very small pieces and do only one thing at a time. You’ll get there.

(Side note – Don’t be too strict with yourself. Allow yourself time to be HUMAN. I celebrated a good grade with Doritos last night and felt….NO GUILT. Feels great. Be good to yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments and choose not to beat yourself up over setbacks.) Happy Friday!!

Daily words of Encouragement

Everyday we are bombarded with negativity. I am especially vulnerable to it because I struggle with anxiety on a constant basis. The way I get past it is to remember that there are millions of miracles all around us. Just to be born, a baby must have so many things go right. My own adoptive child had all the odds stacked against her…and yet here she is. Not only alive, but happy and THRIVING!!

So look around. See the miracles. Know that there is always hope and no matter how big your problems seem, God is bigger.

A First Challenge!!!

Have you ever thought about how many firsts you have in your life? When you are a child, just about everything is a first. Your first step, your first word, your first solid food followed by your first solid poop!

As we grow, life is full of exciting firsts as well as some extremely rough ones. Your first kiss, your first heartbreak, your first real loss. Now although some of these are traumatic and horrible, I started thinking that maybe we start losing our enthusiasm for life when we stop experiencing those firsts. When we don’t keep looking for new experiences. I mean really, why do people cheat on their spouses? I imagine because they like that excitement from the newness of the experience. Why are so many people on antidepressants? Could it be they feel they are in a rut? (Duh!)

Today I took the girls to Meerschiedt. I have been there many times before, but today we played ping pong. I didn’t even know they had ping pong. It was a first. I had never played ping pong with my girls. My daughters had never played at all. It was such a simple but fun experience. We were all laughing and enjoying ourselves completely.

So I challenge you this week. Look for firsts. Try something new for the first time. No matter how simple it may seem, you never know how much enjoyment you may get out of it.  No clue what to try? Here’s some ideas –

1. Order a new food

2. Go to a new restaurant

3. Wear that shirt you look drop dead gorgeous in.

4. Try rollerblading.

5. Eat a jalepeno….by itself. (Ok, that’s just me daring you.)

6. Try a headstand or a handstand…just don’t hurt yourself.

7. Go to ZUMBA!!!

8. Better yet, go to Stiletto Night!!!

9. Go to Karaoke.

10. Eat Sushi!!!

Just do something new. There is no reason to keep doing exactly the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year. It will just bring on dementia that much faster. Do something new and enjoy life. Remember, today is called the present because it’s a gift.

Inspiration for the week

What will you do this week? Wake up growling at your clock,  then your husband,  then your kids? That’s what I did for years. People at work called me so positive. Little did they know. They got the best of me and my family got the leftovers. To remedy the situation I made a huge change,  but maybe yours doesn’t have to be so drastic.

Tomorrow morning, smile when your alarm goes off. Kiss your spouse before you do anything else. Linger over your coffee before you drink it. Smell your child’s hair as you hug them good morning. Don’t  let those moments pass you by. They are the most important ones of your day.