As I leave each mile marker behind me, I am reminded of the people I am leaving behind. I always love a visit home but every mile I travel away, is a little more my heart starts to ache. I’ve lived away for many years but returning twice a year has always been a priority that I hope I have instilled in my own kids. I have taught them family first. I remember when I first landed 15 days ago. I was in awe at the beautiful shades of green and the mountains on all sides of me. When I lived here many years ago, I think I stopped noticing how beautiful this place was that I had the fortune of growing up in. Now that I live in Oklahoma and the world is flat and the trees are low, I miss the beautiful state of New Jersey more than ever. I wonder if the same thing happens with family as well. I think when you grow up your entire life with family around you, you start to take them for granted. You stop realizing the importance of the people who can be there in a moments notice. It happens very slowly at first until the people we claim to love become a nuisance and annoyance to us. We stop noticing how beautiful family really is. Not to me. It hurts to watch it happening when I want so much to have someone in arms reach when the rest of the world seems scary and my loneliness becomes the only friend I have. It hurts when you make people a priority and my heart breaks when that same enthusiasm is not returned. It hurts to love people. It hurts to watch people wrapped up in things that just don’t matter.
Today, as I ride on this bus I am grateful that I have a place to call home. I am grateful for the little moments that I bottle in my heart until I can return. I close my eyes and I see the sweet smile on my nephews face and hear the silly giggle of my sister in law and the joy on my brothers face as he watches his baby boy. As I think of the tears in my mothers eyes as she pulled away, my own cheeks feel the sting of tears. It’s hard loving people and it’s hard letting them go to get on to more of the silly stuff that doesn’t matter. You either get it or you don’t. You love or you don’t. You make family a priority or you don’t. You always have a choice. I choose love.
Recently, I dropped off of the face of the earth. I made a very soft landing into Disneyland where I enjoyed a much needed, stress free, fun couple of days with the people I love the most. Sometimes I forget that fun is meant to be in the equation. I get wrapped up in the seriousness of the daily responsibilities and I leave fun behind. Tomorrow maybe when there’s much less to do… I was standing in line one day. It was almost our turn when a man and his family walked up to the front of the line. He had a young girl in a stroller and he told the worker he was there for his little girls “Make A Wish”. The tears immediately welled up in my eyes. Fun cannot wait. Family cannot be pushed aside from the things that don’t matter and there is no time more precious than right now. Make that trip. Go on that date. Dance even though you know everyone is watching. We are here for a reason, a purpose. I think it’s simpler than people try and make it out to be. We are here to live, love and experience every precious minute we are given and to learn the difference in what matters and what never will.
Seventeen years ago, this very day, I gave birth for the first time. The pain I experienced that early morning was nothing compared to the pain I feel as I watch my baby girl learn the hardest lessons in life. I never imagined how embedded our lives would become. I feel her pain in my deepest core and her joy makes every fiber in my body dance. There is nothing quite like being a parent. Some days are so difficult I don’t know how I will ever get through them. Other days warm my heart enough to keep it beating on even the coldest of days. So what have I learned about parenting in 17 years? I have very little control over other people. I can do my best to set an example and hope my children will follow in my footsteps but at the end of the day, I have no choice but to support them when they choose their own path. I have learned that I don’t necessarily have all the answers and sometimes my kids are actually smarter than I am. I have learned to be open to ideas that once I would have never considered. I have learned to accept there are many types of people and sometimes my children see something in someone that my eyes would never recognize without their guidance. I have learned that parenting is the hardest and most important job I could ever have and giving up my career to make sure I can do everything I can to help them transition into caring, decent human beings who will contribute to the world in the most positive way is worth more than any amount of money in the world. The funny thing is, I think I learn more from them than they could ever learn from me.
When I was a kid, I loved the weekends. We would sleep in and mom or dad would make pancakes or eggs. We would sit at the table and hang out while catching up after the busyness of the week. There were no cell phones or laptops. Heck, there wasn’t even internet in my town until I was much older and still we never had a computer in the house.
Now a days, weekends are filled with laptops on every table. My husband spends hours catching up on work and email and my daughter fills in answer after answer on physics packets in between writing papers for AP Language Arts. My sons weekends are filled with studying, searching for answers on study guides and five weeklong projects and a new theme paper every single week.
What in the world is happening to our lives? Does no one have respect for anyone’s time anymore? People need a break, a pause in the unfortunate normalcy of the nonstop week. Will kids be smarter and better because we jam work down their throats on weekends too? Will the small profit to a company be a trade for stress, depression, high blood pressure and obesity from countless hours at a table typing letters on a device that robs us of moments of our precious lives?
Weekends should be a time to rest. Recuperation is necessary both physically and mentally. How can we perform at our best level if we are expected to be on 24/7. I think it’s a shame. Our time to talk, to love and bond are being replaced by ridiculous science projects that don’t do anything but frustrate the hell out of everyone. Chatting with our teens has been replaced by sitting near them while they try and finish up their work. And relationships? We have become threesomes- 2 people and a technological device.
Shame on schools and corporations and shame on people like me who allow it to happen. At the end of our life, we will be dead. We cannot take our work ethic, our job, our degree or our money with us when we go. Think about that when you decide how to spend the few hours you have this weekend. Make them count! Be the change you wish to see in the world. Make a stand. Say no.m
Have you ever considered what a gift it is to be blessed with the ability to see? We are given so many gifts, but it is up to us to determine how we use them. I can give two people a shovel and one person may use it to dig the foundation for a beautiful home while another may use it as a weapon to hit someone over the head.
Our vision is a lot like that too. We choose how we interpret the things we see. We can look for something good in someone, in a situation or we can use our vision to see everything that is bad. What’s not fair is that people choose to see the good in this and bad in that. Who wins? What is the benefit? We are not taught or told how to use our gifts. That is when our free will is put to its toughest test.
Do you know two people can look at the very same thing and still see it a different way? Who do you trust? Are you right and the other person a liar? Look at the whole blue dress/ gold dress drama that unfolded before our eyes. That should have been a clear sign, a distinct message that our vision is faulty. See it doesn’t come down to being right, it comes down to the fact that what we think we see may be different from what someone else THINKS he sees, but NO-ONE is wrong. We have to respect that our view, our vision, our interpretation is just as valid as the guy standing next to us. How could we ever all agree when the nation was divided, news anchors were divided, families divided? It was the most valuable lesson we may have ever learned IF We WERE PAYING ATTENTION! If we know we can’t trust what it is we think we see then why do we argue about such silly things? I saw it this way, I saw it that way (sighs). We are ALL blind!
Remember, this is before diagnosed vision problems come into the picture.
We don’t all see 20/20. Sometimes we have a astigmatism. According to Web MD, astigmatism occurs in nearly everybody. Everybody! I had no idea.. Did you know that?When light enters the eye it is refracted more in one direction than the other, allowing only part of the object to be in focus at one time. Isn’t it crazy to know we may never see the whole picture, just one side or the other? Maybe that explains it all. We think something is the way it is because that is what we see but we need to remind ourselves that what we see is just not real, not really anyway. Sure we can make out the general gist of something but the edges just aren’t smooth. We can see it superficially but the details are lost somewhere in our clouded vision. SO, we compensate by creating the image we think we see in our own mind but if we created it, is it really reliable?
Quite a few years ago, everytime I was under an immense amount of stress, I would lose the peripheral vision in my right eye. I could only see what was straight in front of me and to the left and the world to the right just disappeared. Does that mean it wasn’t there anymore? Was it less real or nonexistent just because I couldn’t see it? Things are not always as they appear. What’s even worse is people’s faces started to look distorted too. The first time it happened I was so terrified that I wished I couldn’t see a thing at all. People started to look like monsters to me. One eye would be down where their chin should be and one side of their face was longer than the other. Our mind plays tricks on us like that too. It makes it appear that people are monsters and that monsters are people. Everything is jumbled up. Who then, what then, can we really trust?
Let this be a reminder that just because we swear something is true, it is only our truth and not necessarily the whole truth. We are artists, creators. We paint our own pictures. We write our own stories. We can trick ourselves into believing that we don’t have that power because we blame someone else for grabbing our pen. Its easier to say, not my book, not my story so you never have to take responsibility for what is written on the page. I pray that we all have clearer vision. I pray that we choose to use our eyes to see all that is good. We can only see what we allow ourselves to see, remember that. If the eyes are closed, the mind is closed. I pray we see a better world, a better way. I pray our eyes look for peace, love, resolution. I pray we see the truth lying under the distortion that we alone create. Don’t ever fool yourself into thinking that your distorted vision could ever be less or more distorted than mine. Close your eyes. Look with your heart.
Today’s the day. In a few hours I will be on a plane traveling to the place I have always called home. When I think back over the years, I am reminded of the joys and challenges that every year brings. There have been years when the loss of a loved one left the house feeling very empty. There have been new babies and new spouses that have added countless chairs around the dinner table on Christmas Day. There has been tough love and the kind of love that makes you drop to your knees and thank God for the opportunity to be together in one place on the same day. Through the immense mountain of wrapping paper and occasional fistfight over a board game not going our way, one thing always remains, love. That is the best Christmas gift of all. Breaking bread with people who will be there for me when the rest of the world goes away. I am grateful for each and everyone of them. They are so unique, so different from one another and they are my family. My people, my tribe, my safe haven. The people who make home so much more than a house on a road in a small town. They are my circle of love and life. I can’t wait to spend another Christmas there and will smile to myself at the new face that will be at our table this year. So many blessings.
We have this silly count down to Christmas snowman. The only problem is, he is a little off on his days and no one has gotten around to fixing him. For the last few days, my son has been asking if it’s six days until Christmas, five days until Christmas etc. I even thought about getting him a calendar because I couldn’t understand how he could be so confused. After all, he is 13, doesn’t he know how many days are in the month? Then I noticed the snowman today and it was obvious why he’s been a little confused.
It’s one of THOSE days. You know, the kind when you call the church to ask for a letter so your daughter can be a godmother and when they ask you the baby’s name, you give them the wrong one. How embarrassing right? Not an easy thing to explain away.
This is what happens when your nephews are named after your brothers and you are afraid you might hold it against them. So, you give them a different name and even go as far to buy them special little ornaments with the name you gave them on it. So, it’s understandable when the lady on the phone asks you for your nephews name and you draw a blank. First you can’t remember at all because you have erased that name from your mind and then when you do recall, you have a 50/50 chance to get the name right and you say the wrong brothers name. Yeah, you don’t even try and explain, you just make the correction and hang up as soon as you can.
Yep! One of those days.
It hit me today. Christmas is in 3 weeks. This is one of those times a year I love the most. Food, family, games, presents and of course a nice long break for the kids from school. I know many people feel stress but for the most part, I notice people are happier and kinder. Maybe it isn’t them at all and it’s just that I feel happier and am able to be kinder. Whatever it is, it’s a magical time and I am grateful it’s here. What do you love about this time of year?
I cried my way through the Nutcracker. As I sat in my seat and watched both my 18 and 5 year old niece up on stage, my heart just about exploded with pride. There are no words to describe how grateful I felt to be sitting there in that moment. I miss so much living away from everyone and when I can be there for something important, I am filled with happiness. I got to hold my new nephew in my arms for the first time and stare into his beautiful eyes. Yes Kim, these are the things that are really important. I reminded myself over and over again how blessed I am to be part of an amazing family. We may not be perfect but we fit together perfectly.
Remember what counts. At the end of the day, count your blessings. Close your eyes and envision what makes your heart come to life. Focus on that, every person and everything else you absolutely love. Let your heart be full.