Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Stress Of A Vacation

Earlier this week I needed to prepare a devotion for a meeting. Being that most kids are in their last week of school, I searched devotions on 'summer vacations', 'getting out of school', 'heading to the cottage', and 'summer'. I found quite a bit of inspiring stuff, but nothing that reached out and grabbed my attention. Maybe because my youngest child is now a college grad and has a full time job, I just wasn't relating to anything. Then I found one. It talked about the trouble with stopping what you are used to doing.

I certainly don't want to quote another author word for word, but there was some really relate-able stuff in the devotion that I could connect to. I felt parts were well worth sharing, even if in my own words.

It's the time of year when many people start to plan summer vacations. Most of us will admit that even if we don't often travel we still like to fantasize about it to some extent; whether you're a beach going, mountain climbing, or road trip kind of person just the thought of 'getting away and doing something different than the norm' can be recharging.

But how many of you have a difficult time once you get to your destination - sometimes it takes a day or two to just unwind and start to think about what is in front of you more than what you left behind (a job, family, responsibilities, To Do lists, etc.). Turning our brains off and allowing our bodies and minds to enjoy the moment we are in can be hard. We are more used to being on auto-pilot. When you're at the beach you may listen to the sound of the water and the crashing waves and the seagulls. How often do you pay attention and actually smell the smells and hear the sounds that are at home? We rarely give them a passing thought, other than the sounds of the neighbor's dog barking or someone cutting their lawn. Occasionally we might take a deep breath and realize that someone not too far away is barbecuing something tasty.

Sometimes we take the time away to recharge and try to temporarily turn our brains off. Sometimes we find ourselves orchestrating what we will need to do once we get back; that's not necessarily a bad thing if you're contemplating a big life change. Often we need to go some place different and quiet just so we can actually hear ourselves think.

If you are about to embark on a getaway, that's great. If you'll be at home, try to still take some personal time. As the original devotion author said, 'We have the ability to make a choice to enjoy life (on vacation or at our desk).' They also suggested that we need to focus on today and leave tomorrow until tomorrow comes. Planning and preparing is always a good idea, but worrying is a waste.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."   Matthew 6:34

I have a mini mother-daughter getaway coming up. I was allowing myself to become absorbed in the the pressures of today and tomorrow that for a moment I actually thought about and tried to reschedule our getaway for another time when I naively thought things would be less busy. I took it as a sign when the innkeeper had no other dates that would work. My husband said, 'Just go!' There will always be STUFF that tries to get in the way. Crossing my fingers (as is my daughter) that nothing does get in our way. Three nights on Mackinac Island ... here we come. Lots of walking, fresh air, conversation, reconnecting, sight-seeing, and a day dedicated just to food trolling (as my daughter uniquely calls it). Tasting a little from every restaurant we can.

I hope to come back without a headache, having rested, maybe with a little sun on my face and shoulders. I hope you have something (big or small) on your horizon as well.

Any plans? Or do I have you thinking and planning now?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dilemmas Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Dilemmas can be overwhelming - and sometimes full of drama. A dictionary defines a dilemma as a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally desirable ones. Although in my opinion not all choices are desirable.

When you have to make a tough decision, how do you choose? Do you make a list of the pros and cons? Do you toss a coin? Do you ask someone you trust for advise? Do you put on a blindfold and throw a dart haphazardly at the choices pinned to a board?

Sometimes we simply have to make choices of what we are going to do next or how we are going to handle a situation ... it's not always as easy as picking between 2 new blouses to decide which one we will wear the next day. Sometimes we may be choosing between 2 job offers. We may be deciding if we're going to accept a marriage proposal or worse, get a divorce. We may need to decide if we are going to move and if so, where. So many decisions that need to be made are bigger than we are. The choice we make may not only affect us, but others as well. Wow, if that doesn't add another layer of pressure I don't know what does.

If you are like me (and I hope you aren't, lol) you play through all the possibilities and scenarios in your head ... over and over ... in 3D ... and in living color ... sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. Because who needs sleep anyway? Right?

I often wish I was more laid back like some other people I know. I wish I could ease up on the self-induced pressure and say, 'whatever happens will happen, we'll just wait and see'. Sadly, it's not in my DNA makeup to do that. No, instead I will analyze and play out all the 'what ifs' and then weigh the options and hopefully make a sound choice.

The process in itself can prove to be a dilemma. Dilemmas come in all shapes and sizes. Some we bring on ourselves; and others are dumped in our laps.

What's been your experience with getting through or over a stressful dilemma?
Any successful approaches you would like to share?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Change The View To See Clearly

Lately I've had a difficult time conveying what's on my mind and putting it into words. Don't get me wrong, I've always got thoughts in my head and words spinning around. My problem is that I can get distracted very easily. I have a room in my house (my son's old room ... don't worry, I didn't kick him out or anything ... he got married and has his own house now); I worked hard to transform this room into a place that was serene.  A place where I could have a writing desk for blogging and a comfy chair for reading. But somehow I let MY special place get away from me. Over the last several months I allowed my space to become a dumping ground; no one did it to me ... I allowed it to happen.

I suddenly found the corners filled with a pile a mail to go to my son's the next time I saw him, a basket full of catalogs that were meant for my mom but being forwarded to my address since she now resides in a nursing home, a bag of snacks and items to go with me on my weekly visit to see her, etc., etc. 

My life has changed a lot in the last year or so, new and increasing responsibilities have been added to my plate. My day, just like everyone else's, sadly still just has 24 hours. There never seems to be enough time to accomplish all the things I have to do, let alone create extra time for blogging and doing some of the things I want to do - things I need to do. 

The piles in my room, like the responsibilities, had become distractions that were keeping me off balance. I needed to reclaim that balance, it wasn't feeling healthy anymore. I can't necessarily eliminate the responsibilities, but I could get rid of the piles! The 'stuff' in my room was exactly that; 'stuff'. At the same time it also became a visible metaphor for a part of my life. The part I felt I was losing control over.

Last weekend my ever-patient and supportive husband and daughter helped me to reclaim part of my balance. We eliminated the piles, we removed the corner TV, we rearranged the furniture, and we moved a 2-drawer cabinet into the closet ... out of sight, out of mind. I can still organize my necessary paperwork, but I won't have to look at it all the time. My carpet is now clear, as well as my vision. I can sit here right now at my desk and look up and across the room. I can look out the window at my yard with green grass and tree branches gently moving in the breeze. My desk no longer faces a wall.

What has this experience taught me? That sometimes we need to change the view in order to see more clearly.

Have you experienced being 'off balance'? What was causing it? What did you do to get back to where you wanted to be?

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day: And The Day After

Yesterday many people I know celebrated Mother's Day. Some celebrated the moms they idolized, the moms they strive to be like each day, the moms many have lost, and the moms who are a best friend. I read many blog posts about celebrating moms. I read multiple Facebook tributes and viewed nostalgic photos, as well as photos of cards and flowers being received. I saw photos of family gatherings and saw a light in some eyes and many smiles. Nothing brings people together more than a celebration. But it's not about the cards and gifts or the meal that was shared ... it's about the memories that are remembered and the new ones that are made.

Personally I had a wonderful day. I was instructed to choose what 'I' wanted to do for the day. The sky was blue and the sun was shining so I chose a quiet afternoon ride in the car with my husband and daughter. We traveled north for a mere 30 minutes passing red barns, horses in the fields, and grass and trees that were finally getting green. Our destination? St. Clair (Michigan, for any of you out-of-towners that may be reading). We grabbed a hot $10 pizza, found a quiet outdoor table across the street from the water, and watched the people walking by and the small boats meandering their way slowly across the water. We chatted, we caught up on each other's lives, and we remembered those that weren't with us that day. It was quiet, it was low-key, and it was perfect - especially when my son and daughter-in-law called. We sat outside and passed the phone around; it was almost like they were there with us.

I've been blessed with a wonderful husband, an amazing son and a daughter, a perfect daughter-in-law, and two precious granddaughters. I have everything I could have ever wanted and am thankful every day.

This morning was the 'morning after'. The morning after a perfect day. So what do many moms do the day after being celebrated? They continue to love on their children. They read their little ones a story (or two or three). We laugh with them and cry with them. We feel their pain. We try to encourage them. Life goes on as usual. In my case, I viewed LOTS and LOTS of adorable photos of my granddaughters that my daughter-in-law posted to a family share site. Then after work I stopped at the pharmacy and picked up nasal spray and an allergy medication for my 22 year old daughter suffering from an allergy-induced asthma flare up.

A friend and I recently remembered a quote that said, 'A mother is only as happy as her saddest child'. How true. Just because my children are grown adults doesn't mean that as a mother I quit caring. It doesn't mean that I don't still try to help and encourage them like when they were growing up. 

Yes, today is the day after being celebrated; the day we go back to doing what we do. Tomorrow we will continue to move forward creating new memories and remembering today for the blessing that it is.

If you are a mom I hope you were celebrated yesterday. If you aren't a mom, but have served as a mentor to anyone who benefited from your experiences I hope you feel good and appreciated for the unbelievable value you have been to those around you.

How did you celebrate Mother's Day yesterday?

Friday, April 27, 2018

How do you view your successes?

Many people do things to get recognized: movie stars, pop stars, people that want reality TV shows, and people with a YouTube audience. I suppose it goes with the territory if that's the business you're in. If people don't know who you are then they won't follow up on you to see what you're planning next. It's a clear case of supply and demand. Other times people do things for the sole sake of doing something positive for their community (not for the notoriety); they run non-profits, they volunteer in their neighborhoods, they plant beautiful gardens for people to visit, or they help the elderly man who lives next door.

We all have goals and dreams of what we would like to accomplish in our lifetime. Maybe we want to run a marathon (just once), maybe we want to have more people read what we write or listen to our music. I think if we're being honest, when we're passionate about something that we do we want people to notice, we want them to be as excited about our work as we are. It's validating and we want to know that we aren't alone. 

Sure, I can tell you that I write for myself, because it helps me to process my life and all that I see in our world (good or bad) everyday. But I would be kidding myself if I didn't admit that I would also love more exposure with my writing, to be able to reach a larger audience ... not because I have a big ego and think that I'm all that and more, but because I feel so strongly about what I do. When I write it feels like I am allowing myself to be vulnerable and sharing a piece of myself, that alone can be a scary feeling. What if people don't like what I write about? What if no one cares? But we can't dwell on the negative 'what-ifs'. If we did that we would never get anywhere. 

We need to keep our goals personal; do what we do for the right reasons. If we do that, only good things can happen. People will notice; they'll be intrigued and they'll ask questions, they'll talk about it with someone else, they'll SHARE a Facebook post or a website, and people will start to notice the genuineness of your work. It won't happen over night. There are no easy routes or short cuts. Hard work, diligence, honesty, and integrity in your work are what will get it noticed.

As busy as our world gets and as busy as we each get dealing with the responsibilities of our own lives, we need to remember that life is a two-way street. If we want people to support what we pour our hearts into then it's only right to know that we need to return that favor. Start to pay attention more to the young mom who is standing in line with three little kids; open the door for her and tell her she is doing a great job. If you have a good waiter at a restaurant, don't take them for granted. Make conversation with them as 'the person they are' and let them know you appreciated their good service. When you hear someone playing the guitar or singing in church on a Sunday morning, tell them afterward how good their music made you feel. When you read something online (Facebook, Instagram, etc), LIKE someone's post and most importantly SHARE it. That's the only way their work will spread.

What is your passion that you're trying to share with the world?

How can we help get the word out?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Search Continues

Everyone I talk to you lately seems to be on edge about the weather. We feel like spring should be here, along with its sunny skies and warmer temperatures. Instead we've continued to experience rain, snow, icy roads, sleet, cold temperatures, and blowing winds. Do I sound like a broken record? I think so.

A lot of people are complaining, as if that will help or even make the sun come out any sooner including a certain weatherman out of Grand Rapids, MI. You know people are getting tired of the same old forecast when the weatherman goes on an on-air rant about how his co-workers are cranky and starting to blame him, etc. He was feeling a lot of weight on his shoulders and apparently a lot of blame. Negativity can take its toll on anyone.

Personally, I feel like I've been monitoring the Weather Channel app on my phone a lot more lately, as if I can point to the sky and say, 'Stop snowing, my app radar isn't showing any precipitation!' However, watching and waiting for the app forecast to change also gives me hope ... hope that the temperatures will climb up and surpass 50 degrees, hope that the sun will come out and stay, and hope that there will begin to be a pattern of weather niceness. Hope can go a long way in lifting someone's spirits.

I have no doubt that spring will come. It may be short once it arrives and we may breeze right through it and go straight to summer, but it will come. With it will come a sense of excitement, a certain thrill, a certain anticipation of good things; not to mention I will be happy to pack away my wool socks, my boots, my winter coats, and my neck scarves. In their place will be sandals, sneakers with no socks, short sleeves, and baseball caps. Yes, lots of good things will come.

What are you most looking forward to with spring and summer?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where is spring?

Lately the consensus seems to be that Mother Nature is playing a cruel joke on us. It's April 10th and we woke up to snow again this morning. Understandably we usually get some sort of snow here in Michigan during the first week of April, but many people seem to feel like Old Man Winter is just hanging on and won't let go. Maybe it's because Easter was on April 1st this year? Maybe it's because, as usual, the department stores have had shorts and bathing suits in the stores for weeks? Our minds are telling us it should be warmer outside. We really shouldn't be surprised to have snow, but enough is enough. I think we are all ready for spring to arrive. Personally I would be happy with wearing a lighter weight jacket and perhaps skipping the boots. I'm ready to show off my painted toenails, lol.

Even the Bible says there is a time and a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). All seasons have their own unique purpose; each is beneficial, but it's time to move from winter to spring. It's time for our spirits to be uplifted. We are ready for the grass to get green, the buds on the trees to begin to blossom, and the plants to be able to reach their little heads up and out of the soil.

While there is a lot of beauty in the glittering snow; a freshness and sense of calm ... there is also a feeling of newness and life in the colors and warmth of spring. Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and kick the spring season into gear. I know I'm ready. Are you?

What are you most looking forward to about spring?