Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Are We There Yet?

I don't know if it is Spring Fever, Senioritis (the high school kind), Cabin Fever, March Madness, or a combination of all of the above, but I'm ready for a vacation!!!  The longer...the better!

Every year about this time we start thinking about breaking out of the normal routine and hitting the road, the beach, or the sky.  In fact the more I try and stay focused, the more I want to daydream about my perfect escape.

A few years ago I gave a few brief words of advice (which you can find here) about getting ready to leave. Right now I don't want to think about preparation (shocking, I know!) I just want to think about relaxing.

So to all the adults out there who are ready for a change of pace, I say, dream away!  Vacations are just around the corner, and fun is about to be had!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Things That Go Boom

Last week we had an unexpected and horrific example of things that go boom.  The bombings during the Boston Marathon were a brutal reminder that the world we live in isn't the world we want to live in.  Now the two known suspects are either dead or in custody.  As a nation we are left with a lot of questions and very few answers.  Honestly, I doubt we will ever have enough answers to satisfy us. 

I had a counselor who once told me my biggest problem was trying to make sense out of things that just don't make sense.  I spent so much energy trying to understand things that I was never going to understand that I drove myself crazy.  When others act in ways that stretch past our fundamental knowledge of human nature, compassion and decency, we have a hard time fitting their actions into our brain's framework.  This tragedy may fall into that category.

I'm sure we will have a lot of information that comes out in the next few days and weeks.  This information will attempt to explain motive, means and opprotunity.  Somehow I doubt any of that information will really cause us to understand why they did it.  While we can hear the words and know their meanings, we will not comprehend how it all equals justification for harming others.

We are now faced with a challenge.  We have a choice to make.  We can focus on what was done, or what we need to do now.  We can swarm the media with names, faces and intimate details of the bomber's activities, or we can focus on the healing and growing we need to do as a nation.  These moments of intense national pain are also moments of intense national unity.  We can use that unity to make our society stronger and better able to address the concerns of our residents before they resort to violence.

I wish I could say this type of behavior was rare, but it seems to be on the news a lot lately.  We are seeing people with knives, guns and bombs do terrible things to make a point.  For some reason our culture hears violence louder than love.  We react to aggression instead of kindness.  We focus on pain and tragedy before generosity and tenderness.

I believe it is time for us to turn off the nightly "bad news" and look for the good we can find in our communities.  We need to form bonds with our neighbors, learn to serve others in our towns, and contribute our skills to local schools.  We need to use these wake-up calls so offensively offered to us as a motivation to pay more attention to our children, our families, and our communities.

Instead of seeing these bombs as an end point, let us use them as a starting point.  Let us use them to make our world better.  Wouldn't it be great if the bombs that gave us "Boston Strong" were the same bombs that gave us "America Strong?"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Losing Nana

This week I lost my Nana.  I've always wondered why we use the term "lose" when someone dies.  While she may not be hanging out at my house for Thanksgiving anymore, there are so many parts of her that are still here.  These are just a few things I know we have not lost:
Faye Lorraine
  1. My Nana was a survivor.  She lived through the Great Depression, she lost a parent when she was young, she sent her brother off to war, and she raised two daughters through hard times.  Her ability to keep going taught me a lot, and that has not been lost.
  2. My Nana was childlike.  I don't think I've ever met a person easier to pull a prank on than my Nana.  The list of crazy things we did to her was pretty long.  There were the classics, like short sheeting the bed, or saran wrapping the toilet, but there were also the more elaborate jokes.  I will never forget the wide eyed look she would get when you told her a complete and utter fib. Once we told her there were giant lizards that lived in Arizona (which is true) and that she needed to watch her small dogs to make sure they didn't bite or lick the frogs because they were poisonous (also true).  Then we bought a large porcelain frog, meant to be a yard ornament, and put it on the bottom of the swimming pool in her backyard.  The water refracted the light, making the 14" frog look like a 36" frog.  When she looked out her window later that day she screamed bloody murder because the giant frog was coming to eat her dogs.  What made the prank even funnier was that we had forgotten we put the frog there, and were equally scared until we remembered what we had done.  I think it took her a week to forgive us, but truth be known, she loved every minute of it!  That childlike excitement and glee has not been lost.
  3. My Nana was a little nutty.  I remember her singing slightly risque songs, making off color jokes, and offering bizarre solutions to situations at every turn.  She was a card shark and a lover of Swedish meatballs.  She always dressed well, and was worried about wrinkles.  She dyed her hair fire engine red and drove a car with a license plate 'Wild One."  I don't know if age had eliminated her inhibitions, or if she had always been a fire cracker.  I learned how to be myself, even if I was a little nutty and crazy, from my Nana, and that won't be lost.
  4. My Nana valued education.  I remember her telling me from a very young age that I needed to go to college and get a good education.  I also remember knowing it wasn't an option.  While she had not attended college, her daughters did, and I knew I would too.  When I headed off to school she delivered boxes of towels, dishes and linens so I could start my new life.  I knew she was proud of me and that I needed to get an engineering degree as much for her as for me.  My appreciation of the value of education will not be lost.
  5. My Nana had perspective.  A lot of hard things happened to my Nana and I spent many hours as a child listening to her stories.  When I would ask her why such a thing would happen, she would simply reply, "That's just the way it was."  Sometimes she got angry about things that had happened, and that was not a pretty sight, but most of the time she would explain why it didn't matter anymore and then crack a joke.  Her ability to move on taught me a lot about how to handle life, and that won't be lost.
I will be the first to tell you my Nana was flawed.  In fact, if I sat down and thought about it, I'm sure I could wax poetical on her flaws for many hours.  In the end, however, all those flaws will be lost.  No one will remember those things.  Maybe we don't want to, or maybe her flaws really aren't that important.

The most important thing I will never lose is her love.  I knew my Nana always loved me.  Through every day, every prank, every game of cards, every late night chat, and every heartfelt conversation, my Nana loved me.   I won't forget that, and I'll never lose it.

So once again, I wonder why we refer to death as losing someone.  She is not lost.  She never will be.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Motivational Monday #82 - Getting to Know My Multiple Personalities

I have always wanted to have a clone...or five...to get everything done.  If there were more of me, I could assign one whole person to do nothing but get enough sleep and read mindless fiction.  Another person could be responsible for cooking and cleaning, making me look like the Martha Stewart of home management.  I could have an entirely different person be the patient and loving caretaker of my children, while another person doted completely on my spouse and entertained.  I would need another person to run my business effectively, and yet one more to finish all the volunteer work I somehow find myself in the middle of.  I think my last clone would be responsible for the spiritual and grounded aspect of my life that I so deperatley need.

Okay, so I need 7 of me.  In a pinch I could probably do with 5.  That's not too much to ask, is it?  Ooh, if I had 5-7 of me, does that mean I get 5-7 times more vacation days? (Like moms ever get vacation days!)

Honestly, I realize that I need to either cut back, or do a better job of delegating.  To that end, I feel I must better get to know each of my personalities before I can really figure out how to best meet their needs.

  1. The Sleeper/Reader - This is the personality that takes care of my basic need to recharge.  Do you notice this is the first personality I listed?  I think I perpetually walk around tired, and not just physically, but mentally too.  Knowing that I would get all the sleep and recharging I need on a daily basis makes me smile.  This personality is a keeper!
  2. The Housekeeper - This personality is probably the easiest to delegate.  I mean really, why did I have children if not to have them help me run the "homestead?"  While I may have to sacrifice perfection when it comes to dusting and vacuuming, I can have the kiddos take over many of the basic household chores.  If I want to be honest, I really should be doing this, as they will never learn if I don't teach them.  As for cooking, maybe I have a young chef in the making.  I won't know if I never let them try.
  3. The Caretaker - I struggle with this one.  It seems to absorb so much of my life.  While I am capable of getting everyone where they need to be, I can't promise I will have a smile on my face while I do it.  Being patient and kind takes more brain power than I care to admit.  As I can't really delegate this one, I guess I will have to reduce my mental load in other areas to accommodate it.
  4. The Doting Spouse - I don't put as much time here as I should.  Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of waiting by the back door with my husband's slippers and newspaper in hand while wearing heels and pearls, but I guess I should do more than holler "hey" when he walks in after a long day.  Apparently this personality needs a little more focus.  I wonder what would happen if my Caretaker clone babysat while my  Doting Spouse self went on a real date...did the world just tip on its axis?
  5. The Business Woman - If I had 40 hours a week to devote to Prepared Binder, I could rule the world.  Well, maybe not the world, maybe just rule my office.  Honestly, I have always had big plans, but big plans take time to develop, and contrary to popular opinion, you can't put things on the back burner and expect them to continue cooking.  Having a dedicated business clone would heat this project up and help bring all my goals into reality.
  6. The Volunteer - Between volunteering to coach my daughter's Odyssey of the Mind team, chairing the book fair, and helping out with the PTO, not to mention being involved at church and with support organizations surrounding my child's special needs, I could be a full time volunteer with no problem.  If I knew my house was clean, my kids were fed and happy, that I was being recharged daily and that my spouse was well cared for, I could really enjoy my time helping others.  Service is important.  Serving others when your own responsibilities are neglected can either help you clarify what you really need to do, or pull you away from where you need to be.  Balance is important.  I think this clone will be very busy!
  7. The Spiritual Giant - I have already noticed I put this last on the list.  Being spiritual does not always mean religious, it can also mean being very in tune with yourself.  It takes time, patience, practice and a little silence to get to a spiritual place.  Learning about yourself, your beliefs, and the activities that ground you can take a lifetime.  It requires daily input and course correction.  Some days I realize my finely tuned spiritual self could really help me take control of all my other selves, but then I get overwhelmed by the whole thing and play the "if I can't see it, it must not exist" peek-a-boo game that infants play so well.  Given the freedom to only work on this, I am sure I would be kinder, more patient and have a better perspective on so many things.  For now, it just doesn't get as much attention as I know I should give it.
Okay, so now we have all been introduced to my multiple personalities.   I think we just saved me hours of therapy...giggle.  I actually do feel better now that I see how many ways I am pulled.  Honestly, if I think about it, I can overlap many of these tasks and find balance in between.  Besides, having 7 clones would become a management nightmare!  I can only imagine what the shower schedule would look like...