Thursday, July 31, 2014

Take Time To Make The Memories

Recently when my son got married I had an epiphany; that my children were growing up. I held back the tears as my son walked me to my seat and we later shared a mother-son dance. My little boy had grown up into a handsome, smart, and faith-filled man. It goes without saying that I felt an extreme sense of pride that day, but at the same time I had to ask myself, "When did that happen?" Only yesterday I was watching him ride his Little Tikes bike down the street to watch for his daddy to come home from work.

Then I watched his sister come down the aisle as a bridesmaid; stunningly wholesome and beautiful, confident, and adoring of her older brother. She is now in college. The long rainy afternoons filled with tea parties and Disney movies have been replaced with trips to Starbucks and a weekend at a Bed & Breakfast.

I've realized just how quickly the time goes by and how precious each moment is. My epiphany has given me the valuable insight that I need to take time to make the memories. She and I recently had our mother-daughter weekend, after which we stopped off for a wonderful lunch with my son and his new bride. Last night it was my husband's turn. He had his memory-making night together with his daughter at a Peter Frampton concert.

Time goes by fast enough as it is. In a month she'll be back at her college and her dad and I will be anxiously awaiting the next time we'll get to have dinner with her or have her home for a holiday or when we'll get to take the weekend drive to visit our son and his wife. My TO DO lists will always be there, but I'm learning to set them aside when an opportunity arises to make a memory. Try not to miss them - they aren't always easy to spot or subtle. Sometimes they're the spontaneous phone call filled with laughter and conversation.
What's the last special memory you made with someone dear to you? 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

#1: Cross 'Itinerary' Off The List

This weekend I am stepping out of my comfort zone. My daughter and I opted to take a mother-daughter weekend and 'get away' from the routines, the traffic, and the orange barrels that we both know so well. Of course, being the organized mom that I am I spent a good amount of time on the Internet trying to plan the perfect mini vacation. We only have 3 days so I wanted it to be perfect. Yet when I asked my daughter, "What would you like to do when we get there? Where do you want to go? What do you what to see?" In her getting-wiser-by-the-year way (at almost 19) she kindly responded with, "Let's just go with the flow. There will be plenty to see and plenty to do, so let's just be spontaneous." It's pretty bad when the daughter knows what's best for the mother.

I planned our weekend at a quaint Bed & Breakfast in the Amish countryside of Northern Indiana. The B&B is wonderful, the innkeepers are amazing, AND my daughter is currently taking a nap while I blog (I guess all of our spontaneity has worn her out). None of our trip so far has been planned. She's teaching me to go with the flow, which I'm sure is no easy task. We've walked in the antique shops for her and have taken photos of the outdoor quilt gardens and horses for me. We stopped at a roadside stand by a dairy farm and ate a freshly made grilled cheese sandwich on garlic cheddar bread with thick co-jack cheese. We sat and admired the country roads, the green hills, the horses and the Amish buggies. We've taken long walks and done whatever we've wanted whenever we've wanted.

We're almost half way through our weekend now and my shoulders are just beginning to relax. Funny thing ... I haven't seen an orange construction barrel in more than 24 hours AND I certainly don't miss it. Instead I've driven through the country, met new people, been in awe of all the quiet and beauty God blessed this area with, and seen more horses than I have in the last 10 years. 

It's been a great trip so far and I can safely say I've crossed the word 'Itinerary' off my list. I guess there is hope for me yet.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Integrity: It's Not Just a Word

To some ‘Integrity’ is just a word, to others it’s a creed to how they live their lives; how they think and choose to behave. The dictionary defines ‘Integrity’ as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; a consistency of actions, values, methods, expectations … Regardless, ‘Integrity’ is a BIG word with BIG implications.

I’ve noticed that the word is thrown around, sometimes carelessly, when naming companies or often when used by politicians and other professionals. It can be a big part of advertising to make you think the company (or individual) has morals above reproach, that they’re honest, reliable and trustworthy. Search the Internet and you’ll see companies using the word to name their operating systems, banks, staffing companies, and even office supplies stores.
We all know that using specific adjectives in marketing and advertising is all part of the business. They’ll use certain words, certain colors, certain music scores to target certain demographics. That’s common, but don’t be swayed. Don’t fall for the bells and whistles, the glitz and the confetti. Think for yourself and let people (professionals and businesses alike) know that if they’re going to market themselves using ‘Integrity’ as a ploy, they’d better be able to back it up. If you’re like me you’re probably starting to see a lot of political signs on the roads and getting assorted handouts in the mail on an almost daily basis. It’s as good a time as any to sharpen your skills and stay alert.
Hang in there; we're in this together!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Do You See?

Do you see things one way while someone else in the same room sees the situation differently? It always amazes me when that happens. The intent or purpose of a situation or a plan could seem crystal clear, when in actuality it isn't at all. There are often a lot of grey areas.

The other day someone said in a meeting that 'perception=reality'. Those simple words got me thinking, which I do way too much of. There are always 2 sides to every coin and every story, but some situations could leave so many more impressions. People won't always agree on what the right and wrong are in a situation, that would involve values and we all know that everyone has different viewpoints and values. We can fight for our causes until we're blue in the face but that won't bring total agreement. Sometimes we need to agree to disagree and let the chips fall where they may. I'll be the first one to admit that I have firm beliefs and core values. Do I try to impose them on those around me? Not knowingly, but if asked my opinion I will not hesitate to share it.

Many times disagreements involve family members, co-workers, or even your children's teachers. People will always hold on to their opinions, their ideas, their purposes, and their goals. They won't want to be swayed about how to go after them or for that fact, how to hold on to them. When that happens and you sense some stress and tension on your horizon perhaps you should consider a change of perspective. Try looking at things differently; maybe from someone else's view. You may end up with your same original conclusion, but at least you attempted to see the whole picture. It is important to not only open your eyes to see, but also your mind.

When is the last time you saw something in a different way than someone else? We won't talk politics or religion here because those are topics that I can almost guarantee no one will ever agree on. What do you do when you are faced with perspectives that are different than your own? Do you become defensive or do you hold it in and stay quiet?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Go BIG or Go Home

I've always been a firm believer of going after challenges. Some I succeed at and others not so much, but I keep trying. Some challenges we choose ourselves for a variety of reasons, others are thrown at us. Those are usually the ones we'd rather skip right over ... a broken relationship, a lost job, or getting sick. So let's focus on the ones we can choose for ourselves.
First off, what makes a challenge a challenge? You need to pick a challenge that's bigger than yourself - bigger than your everyday routine. Your challenge could be something daring; climbing a mountain, running a race, or facing a fear. It could be something fun, but risky; going after a dream job, being proactive about meeting that someone special, or perhaps making the decision to start a family. If it's easy then it's probably not a challenge.
  • If your challenge doesn't scare you (even a little), it's not a challenge.
  • If it doesn't make you lose sleep, it's not a challenge.
  • If it doesn't make you skeptical or worry at some point, it's not a challenge.

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. Conquering them will bring you a sense of independence and strength, pride, and a superhuman feeling that you can do anything you set your mind to. Those are the challenges that will give you solid memories to share with your family and friends. Those are the challenges that will give you the strength to tackle the ones you don't choose.

Will you fail? Possibly, but NOT all the time and when that happens you try again (and again if necessary). Eventually you will conquer your challenge.

Currently my self-chosen challenge is public speaking. That one definitely puts me out of my comfort zone, but maybe that's what intrigues me about it.

What's your current challenge?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Useless Words

The dictionary is full of words; some good some not so much. I've blogged before about the importance of words and the limitless power they possess. Words can build a person up, congratulate them on a task well done, or they can damage a self-esteem in the matter of mere seconds. Have you ever watched the movie 'Mean Girls' or seen a bridesmaid's episode of TLC's 'Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta'? The storeowner, Lori, will protect her brides till the end if the bridesmaids get too out of hand. I've seen episodes where bridal party entourages have been ruder to the bride than you could ever imagine because for some reason they believe their friend's wedding should be all about them. When the bridesmaid becomes the bride then they can have the spotlight, until then they need to be quiet and take a back seat.
Words should validate, flatter, and express concern when needed. They should never be cruel, wasteful, or ill-intended. At that point, they become useless. Words have a great deal of power and once spoken generally can't be taken back. First impressions and first words mean a lot, just ask someone conducting an interview.
My advice to you ... think twice and speak once (if necessary). Often by doing so you may change your mind and save yourself from embarrassment or saying something you'll later regret. In the words spoken by the Queen to the evil stepmother in the movie 'Ever After' with Drew Barrymore, "Choose your words wisely Madame, for they may be your last."
When was the last time you said something you later regretted?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Real Life Lessons

There are those things that you learn in school and in books, but some of the most important lessons you will ever learn come from 'real life'. Don't get me wrong ... education teaches us a great deal, but so do the people we know and the observations we make. In today's world everything is about being faster and getting it done with the click of a button. Somewhere along the line people forgot how to do the most basic of tasks. The majority of people that I know do their banking online, yet very few take an actual paper receipt when they make a purchase, let alone take the time to balance their checking account at the end of the month. Call me old-fashioned but I still ask for a receipt and I still take the time to balance my accounts on paper. Guess I'm showing my age; although I can tell you that at least once every other month a tip doesn't get recorded on my bank statement which also means a waiter or waitress didn't get their well deserved tip. We generally eat at the same places so when that happens I always put that 'unrecorded' tip in an envelope and take it with me the next time I go. Apparently I'm in the minority because the wait staff are always most appreciative (and shocked).

Yes, some 'real life' lessons we learn by actually doing and practicing them. We need to remember how to at least write our names. Computers may be the norm these days, but guess what? You will still need to know cursive to sign your name on documents such as a mortgage and your marriage license. Not to mention what if you become famous and have a need to sign autographs?

What real life lessons have you held on to in spite of the rushing world and speedy Internet?