AH-HA MOMENTS

Last week I bought this sign for my kitchen.

edp352nateksefzhlg5fdq

 

Today, that sign played out in my life as an all-too-rare “Ah-Ha Moment” and for that I am grateful.

It all started with a beautiful sunrise this morning which morphed into a cool afternoon devoid of rain. I decided to take a hike on one of the numerous trails that surround my home. It was a beautiful fall-like day with crisp-clean air, sweet dew laden grassy smells and wildlife galore.

 

After visiting “The Point” my son, Paul, and I started back up the trail. As we turned the corner near the visitors center where a few houses sit back of the path; I heard a Swoosh- followed by a rather loud SPLAT. Looking up I saw two 10-year-old boys lobbing lemons in my direction.

My first reaction was, “those little assholes. Why haven’t their parents taught them better.” That was obviously not the thoughts of the 70+ yo ladies who were heading up the path while I was going down.

“What was that?” the woman asked.

“Lemons,” I answered.

The woman looked over at the young lads and exclaimed loudly, “LEMONS!!!! I JUST LOVE LEMONS!!! CAN YOU THROW SOME MORE MY WAY?”

The boys looked at one another with a total look of surprise on their faces. Then they smiled and gently tossed more of the yellow fruit to the two old ladies who picked them up from the ground with the delight of 10 yo girls playing baseball on a summer’s afternoon.

AH-HA MOMENT…the sign…when life gives you lemons make something sweet…or funny… lighthearted and enjoyable. Why, I wondered, do I use the lemons life throws my way to leave a sour taste in my mouth instead of finding the sweet that is embedded in the moment? Why go to negative first instead of finding and embracing the positive? Why not ask, “Can you throw some more my way?” and be pleased to have them land at your feet?  Yes, I could definitely infuse many parts of my life with more sweet and less sour.

I thought about this as I walked home…tired but enlightened. And later, as I was munching on some of the best lemon bars I have ever made, I was grateful to realize that making something sweet was much more satisfying than being an old sourpuss.

 

The Importance Of Protest

url

Today I was amazed at the number of women who were upset and “appalled” at the women who gathered together to march and show solidarity for women and the issues that touch their lives.

One of the proudest moments of my life was marching with the Mothers Of The Plaza de Mayo. Marching can do incredible and meaningful things, correct wrongs, and bring important issues to the forefront…this is an example of why.

Between 1976 and 1983 thousands of young people went missing under the military dictatorship in Buenos Aires. Nothing was able to stop this until a group of very brave women began to march every Thursday seeking answers to the fate of their loved ones. They marched in defiance of their government’s state terrorism meant to silence all opposition and those asking questions/demanding answers. It was their unceasing presence that finally helped lead to the downfall of a government that murdered approximately 30,000 people.

Today these same mothers can still be found, in wheelchairs and on crutches refusing to let their voices be silenced. They may not have made a difference to their lost children but they saved the lives of thousands more. That was one of my proudest days…marching with these brave and determined women.

I hope that today was one of your proudest days as you marched in unity all over the world. (Now that was a surprise!) Be proud of yourselves. Pat yourselves on the back. You have joined woman all over the world whose protests have made a difference…sometimes it just takes a while to know exactly what that difference is.

url-1

 

Life’s Necessities

images-9

I’ve had people tell me that I have had a very different and an interesting/amazing life. I would have to agree.  But how does one create a life that is interesting and  worth living? That is something I have contemplated for a while now. While I am not close to figuring it all out, I do think that there are some universal components that help to craft a life worth living, these being:

  1. Be daring. Believe in yourself and take chances as you move through life. No one ever got anywhere by sitting in a recliner. You have to “Just DO It” enough to make it seem routine so you don’t scare yourself silly.
  2. Help others.Until you have done for others you really have not done for yourself. Everyone needs to experience the gift of giving of yourself freely in order to know what is needed for your soul and the souls of those around you. So many important lessons come out of helping those who need it but mostly it allows you to discover who you want to be and how you want to live your life in a way that is meaningful to you.
  3. Practice your skills. Everyone has things that come naturally to them or something that they enjoy doing. You cannot create your masterpiece without practicing all the components that go into it. Just as Michelangelo did not create the Sistine Chapel by doing a single paint-by-number canvas, you cannot do your best without first examining and putting into action those things that are important to you and practicing the skills that it takes to enhance and complete the task. There is a reason for the saying, “Practice makes perfect.”
  4.  Be adventurous. Without the planning, excitement, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from stretching your wings while creating your own adventures, you might as well be moving through life as if in a big bowl of jello.  As dynamic human beings we are not meant to stagnate so exploits are an important part of the game.  Adventure = expansion and growth both of which are the spice of life.
  5. Spend time working on meaningful projects. In the early part of our marriage we spent three years of weekends traveling 4 hours one way to a house that we were building. It was when we ran out of projects and the sense that “we” were accomplishing something together that our marriage began to fall apart. We all need to feel a sense of accomplishment for a job well done that has occupied our thoughts and moments for an extended period of time. That feeling of having a task to do and completing it to the best of our ability is what boosts our confidence and instills in us the belief that we can take on whatever is thrown our way.
  6. Be reverent. Seek opportunities to be in awe of something greater than yourself. For some that is being with God and for others it is communing with nature while hiking. Find those things that take your breathe away and then find a way to make them a more regular part of your life.
  7. Love deeply, purely, and like there is no tomorrow…because there may not be.
  8. Get rid of the vices whether they be excess food, alcohol or drugs. If we take ourselves to places that make it difficult to do the things we must or the things we want to do; then we are harming and cheating ourselves of all that we have been given. Intentionally harming ourselves is idiotic not just because we hurt ourselves but more importantly because we are often hurting others.
  9. Never stop seeking knowledge for it is the key to life. It creates, it destroys and it allows you to achieve beyond your wildest dreams. If you aren’t learning several new things a day then you are not living fully in a way that is beneficial to yourself and humankind because lifelong learning is what makes us human.

 

Sometimes Being A Mom Sucks Big Time

images-4

So today was Gracie’s big meet. For a 11 year-old who has only been in the sport 2.5 years she does remarkably well. She works hard. She practices 20 hours a week. She watches videos of all her favorite Olympic divers and she reads books on the subject. She is the hardest working kid I know but sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Today’s meet was the largest held in the world with 29 states and 5 countries represented. She woke up and ate breakfast. When we arrived at the venue Gracie started crying.Hard. Fast and furious. This is a kid who never cries and goes into a meet exuding confidence. Always. But here she was crying and all the parents on the team were looking at her with big ??? on their faces because they had never seen her like this. She was a mess.

“I feel sick. My stomach hurts.”

“I think that maybe you are just a little nervous. Give it sometime and you’ll be fine.”

“No. I am really sick. I am going to puke.”

“You weren’t sick 10 minutes ago. Are you sure you aren’t just nervous?”

“NOOO I am sick,” she wails.

One of her teammates walks over to her and tells her a story of how sometimes she gets butterflies before competing.

“It’s not that. I am sick,” her body being wracked by sobs.

Back over to me she comes.

“I can’t do this. My stomach hurts.”

“Okay, well here is the thing. I think you are nervous and I am afraid that if I tell you that you don’t have to compete the next time you have a competition you will be paralyzed by fear and you won’t be able to compete then either. So I just want you to go out there and do what you came to do. I don’t care if you finish last. It doesn’t matter to me. Just go out there and try to have fun.”

Bigger tears. Sniffles. Lots. More tears. Huge tears. Rapid tears.

What is a mother to do? Where is the manual on the best way to handle drama?

Coach and team take her over to the staging area. Five minutes later she’s back.

“I can’t feel my hands.”

I’ve always had a fear of drowning and at this point I swear I am beginning to feel water rising to ankle level due to the hurricane of tears.

“Listen if your hands are numb then I have to take you to the hospital.”

“Nooo!”

She sulks back to her team. Obviously this is getting me nowhere fast. Time to switch tactics.

Three minutes later she’s back.

“I’m dizzy!”

“Okay. So go scratch. Go tell your coach that your cannot compete.”

“NOOOOOOOO! I can’t let my team down like that!”

What is a mother to do? What can I say to this tween that will make a difference?

“It is not a matter of letting your team down. It’s a matter of letting yourself down and how you will feel if you don’t compete. What matters is you. I don’t care what you do and in 10 years you won’t even remember your scores. You have decide for yourself if you would feel worse competing or not competing. It is all up to you.Only you can make that decision and I am not going to make it for you.”

“Mom, I just can’t,” she squeaks… gasp, gulp and even more tears.

“Seems to me you have two options. Either you scratch or you suck it up, buttercup, and get out there and do your best in a situation that is not ideal. I will love you either way.”

So she competes and earns two 4th place finishes and one tie for 3rd. Not bad at all for all the tears. For all the “sickness.” For all the doubts. For all the fears.

Later as she stood on the podium collecting her medals she was relaxed. Happy. Calm. And as those medals clanged softly against her chest I realized that the medals I cherish most from this meet are not the ones that hang around her neck but the one that now rests within her head. It’s the one that will remind her that she CAN do what she sets out to do even if she has to work through her fears to grasp it in her hand. To me, that last medal is worth more than gold. I hope she will think so too someday and will treasure the memory of how she overcame all the crap going on in her own head to earn it.