Stay Calm

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This week I am having a relapse. I can feel the anxiety building a little more each day. This is a stressful time of year. Not only are the holidays approaching that bring with them shopping, packing, traveling, family but also final exams. It’s been a full on study-fest here the last few nights along with writing and editing papers. I am relieved that this will all come to an end on Friday and then we can finally move on to eating cookies, singing Christmas carols, and packing. I struggle often with the pull I feel toward education. I really believe my calling is the classroom and the more I watch my own kids go through the system, the more I see the need for some new ideas. I watch these kids trying to fill out packets of questions to review for their exams fully knowing that no one intends to go over it with them. If these kids struggled through the information on previous tests and quizzes, how in the world will they now magically understand it for a final exam? Does no one consider the answers on their “study guide” will most likely be wrong and they will waste time studying information that is just not accurate? Does it not make sense that the reviews should be teacher lead to possibly make the information stick this time? Is it realistic to give kids three class periods to sit and work independently when a review is meant to go over what has already been learned and not spend countless hours searching for answers that will be too late to study? Does the review really have to be handed out the week of finals? Wouldn’t it have made since to give it the weekend before? I don’t know. I guess having a kid who struggles in school has forced me to see the education system a new way. The bottom line though is every teacher has the freedom to run their class a certain way and I don’t see much benefit or value the way my kids teachers are running theirs. So much wasted time. So much busy work. Quantity without quality. I just don’t get it. Many of my kids teachers are kids themselves so they view the process from a different set of eyes. I guess they too will see the many flaws as they watch their own kids enter middle and high school. Oh the joys of being a stressed out parent. Time to hit the treadmill and run away from it all.

When Do You Feel Your Best?

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I love this time of year. I just feel better in every way possible. I have more energy. I feel happy and my depression seems to go into hibernation. I love giving and sharing and family and just the thought of Christmas makes everything inside of me feel a little tingle. I also make a concerted effort to see God in the people who are the most challenging for me. I actively try and be the better person I long to be and every minute that goes by, opens my heart a little bit more. That being said, I often have to protect myself from negativity and people who have bad attitudes and bad intentions. I just turn them off, say a small prayer for them and disengage. Feeling good is rare these days. There is so much around us constantly trying to suck the happiness out. Somehow this time of year I am able to find that sweet spot that some might call balance. How do you feel this time of year? Why?

Countdown To Christmas

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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.

You Don’t Live There Anymore

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This is a post I wrote a while ago but now that the holidays are approaching, I think it is worth sharing again. Don’t ruin reality with expectations Buckle up, sit back and just enjoy the ride.
Repeat after me: You cannot re-live the past. One more time. You cannot re-live the past.
Sometimes, a moment in time touches me so deeply that I want to repeat it. I tell myself this ridiculous nonsense that if I go through the same motions, I will feel the same feelings. 
I was looking back at old pictures in Timehop and some of those pictures brought me back to days I was truly happy. Year after year I try and recreate those moments and deep down its just impossible. That moment, the one thing that makes me completely happy is dependent on too many things I cannot control. If it involves other people, it is dependent on their attitude, words, mood. You name it. I have to let go of holding onto to an idea and trying to stretch it from the past all the way into the future. There’s too much that happens along the way and expectations, well, we know what they do. They disappoint almost every single time. It’s so much better to start with a clean slate and just let life unfold. We can’t manipulate or control it. We can’t grab onto it to make it last longer than it will. We can’t undo it or redo it. No matter how hard we try, I try, it will never happen the way I will it to.
If something is good, enjoy it with every ounce of your being. Be there completely and let it imprint on your mind and heart. If something is bad, be there completely too. Feel the pain and feel it completely. Learn the lesson and move on. Don’t look back too often and don’t squint to see what’s up ahead. Just be wherever you are.
Repeat after me: Stop trying to re-create the past. You don’t live there anymore.

Tis The Season

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We went to the mall yesterday with three million other shoppers. Everyone was moving slowly and the mission I was on was taking more time than I had to offer it. Not only were people leisurely gliding from side to side so I couldn’t get around them, I had to deal with those giant sized electric ride on stuffed animals. It seemed that the grandfathers were all too excited to grab a child and ride these slow moving creatures throughout the mall to avoid stepping into a single shop. I wanted to scream and kick these bears, elephants and pandas clear across the floor and out of my path. I realized the rage I was feeling was not appropriate for this joyous Christmas season so I decided to drop what I was doing and get the heck out of there. This the season to be….

Missing So Many Today

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I’m not really sure if I chose the right time to taper my depression medication. I am hoping by the time the holidays are over, I will be off of them for good. As I sit here quietly thinking about the family members who have passed away, I can’t help but shed a few tears. People come and go into our lives and they change us. Some for the better and others for worse but the ones we hold dearly never completely slip away.  Their lessons, their memory, their kind words and their smile live in very special part of our hearts. It seems like yesterday that I was a teenager sitting in a room full of relatives, surrounded by an amazing circle of love. It saddens me to know many of those special people haven’t been a part of my life in several years. Every Thanksgiving I allow myself to remember. I sit in the pain, in my loneliness and I quietly grieve for their loss. I also remind myself that life is so much shorten than we ever imagine and it is so important to make memories with the people I am still blessed to have a part of my life. My heart is so full knowing in three short days I will return to place I grew up. The house that built me will be standing strong with a faint memory of my grandmother standing in the window waiting for me to pull in the drive. I still feel her presence today. Take time to look around your table over this long weekend. Be grateful for every person, every day, every memory and for all the wonderful times that are still to come. Count your blessings. Count them a hundred times and allow that special love to fill your heart and tuck it away where you can pull it back out whenever you need it most. 

Giving Thanks for Family

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I am so excited counting the days to Thanksgiving. This year will be a little different than most. Other years, we have spent the day with my husbands family but this year it will just be the four of us at home. I realize the closer we get to the kids graduating from high school, the more we need to appreciate the time we have left. Life gets so busy sometimes with work, sports, school, studying and the days we spend quality time together are few and far between. That is why I am tickled pink to have my husband and kids all to myself for an entire day. No friends, no homework, no emails. Just our little family, some great food and some good old board games.

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Will this year be filled with years of tradition or will you be doing something out of the ordinary?

And It’s Only 12:00

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Today is a crazy day. Dropped the kids at school, stopped by for a much needed yoga class and managed to remember to bring home some cat food. I cut up the onions and the peppers in between changing loads of laundry and vacuuming every room. My mind is racing ahead thinking about what to pack and I’m mentally trying to fit all the gifts and clothes into the suitcases that seem to shrink a little more every year. I still have sausage to cook and a basketball game to catch before I rush off to see Kayleigh swim. Everything is moving so fast. I am grateful for days like this one that afford me the mental discipline and the physical stamina to get everything done while maintaining a positive attitude as I check each thing off the list.

It is a busy time of year. I have finally learned to pace myself. I do not procrastinate and the days my body is hurting and screaming for rest, I have learned not to push. And days like today, when the excitement of Christmas has me on an addictive high, I do as much as I can. That’s what it is all about. Observing yourself and learning to work with your own mind and body instead of against it. When that inner voice is screaming slow down, listen. And when the voice is screaming full speed ahead, then press on!

Go easy on yourself. Observe your thoughts and how you feel on a given day. Don’t judge, just watch and eventually you will find your flow.

What Are You Grateful For?

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I love November. I actively practice gratitude so of course this month with its focus on Thanksgiving, I dive into my practice a little more deeply. That is what this post is about, gratitude and I am counting on you to add to this list and keep it growing. Share it and see if we can start our own little movement of gratitude. If you are lucky enough, you will see your life start to shift in a new direction after some seasoned practice. You will truly start to see the good in everyone and everything around you. I promise.

Here’s my list:

Today I am grateful for cold days. I am grateful for hot cocoa and warm coats and the amazing amount of peace that goes hand in hand with the warm glow that comes from the fireplace. I am grateful for a season of gratitude and the start of holidays that bring friends and family together sharing life for just a moment in the same room. I am grateful for the thought of giving gifts and seeing smiles on the faces of people I love. I am grateful for any and all acts of kindness and they way they melt away the pain of even the most isolated heart. I am grateful for waking up pain free for the first time in a long time and enjoying movement for the first time in as long as I can remember. I am grateful for family moments at the end of the day when we snuggle in close around the fire. I am grateful for the hope and promise in every day and the chance to journey closer to the place we are meant to be. I am grateful for good friends and the smile a single memory can bring. I am grateful for blogging and the avenue it provides to let others see into my heart. I am grateful for all the wonderful things you are going to add to this list. Your turn. Go!

Easter Memories

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Today I am reminded of The string of Easter Days that have made up my many years. It’s funny how an innocent conversation with your 15 year old daughter can really get you thinking.

Easter has always been about church and God from the earliest Easter I can personally remember. As a young child, we would go to my grandmothers and wake up Sunday morning to a great big basket with fuzzy tiny chicks sitting on top. We would rip through our candy and get ready for mass. Later in the day we would all gather at my aunts. There were so many of us jammed into that tiny trailer but somehow it never seemed crowded. I guess you could say Easter was also about family. It was about the important connection we have with one another and how a change in one tiny part can affect the whole unit. When someone was missing, their absence was palpable.

As I got older and moved away the connection part stayed alive and strong. Although I watched extended family break into smaller units and stop getting all together, I realized that the older we get the more isolated we sometimes feel. We forget that belonging to something bigger than ourselves creates a place that we feel safe and loved. We forget that the people who came before us created those days of bonding because they were wiser and knew how important that connection really was. I longed for things to be the way they once were but had to accept family, as I once knew it, had become a thing of the past.

When you move around, holidays can be tough. We were so blessed to have the right people in our lives who made such a tremendous impact on us. People who had once been total strangers opened their hearts and their home to my family and allowed us to be part of their special day. I realized that connection goes much deeper than family and that all people, related or not are connected and meant to treat each other as such. We are all one big great family in a sense and sometimes we lose sight of that.

So today, I want to say thank you to all the people that made me feel connected in our hearts. Easter is a special day and a day we should remember that we are all important. We are all lovable and we are all worthy of respect. We are one and we are connected and that is worth remembering and protecting. Jesus died on the cross for all of us. Do you make the people in your life feel that important? What do you do to show them they matter?