PSA: It’s simple—Don’t drink + drive

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One of the easiest decisions a person can make is to not drink and drive. But here’s the catch-22: once you drink, your decision-making skills become impaired. And because one person chose to drink and drive on Aug. 19, 2004, my family’s “normal” changed forever. Consequently, on the anniversary of my husband’s “death” and “re-birthday,” I hop on my soapbox to share the down-and-dirty details about that night. My 12-year-old daughter and I waited for her dad to arrive home from work so we could enjoy a family bike ride together. Instead, at 6:19 p.m.—minutes from our neighborhood—an intoxicated driver slammed his Dodge Ram into my husband’s Honda Civic. Following a medical-helicopter transport to a Trauma 1 hospital, my husband underwent emergency surgery—after which he spent the next 59 days as an inpatient navigating his new normal resulting from a TBI, crushed hip and myriad physical, emotional and mental trauma. And he still struggles with deficits today. Please think twice: If you drink: don’t drive.

Checking in: have you accepted the call?

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One of countless things that strikes me during this COVID-19 climate is that collectively—as an entire world—each of us feels, at some level, the effects of the pandemic. Whether it’s getting preoccupied with the small things (minor inconveniences) or worrying about the insurmountable things (how to feed our families), it’s impossible to avoid the weight of our present circumstances. On a personal level, the sheer volume of this truth proves both frightening and humbling. But allow me to interject a “food for thought” to contemplate as we carry out our days: Could this disruption—the upheaval in our lives—be disguised as a call of sorts, an opportunity to make a difference? A powerful concept. One that I believe starts by letting go of hate and showing up in love.

It might look something like this: Before doing/saying/posting/forwarding X, Y, Z, ask “How can I respond in love?

And then do this instead.

What are you doing to make a difference? Or, for ideas, comment here.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Talk to me: no invitation necessary

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I’ve never liked confrontation. Yet, avoidance is seldom the best solution. Perhaps today you’re embroiled in a gross misunderstanding. Maybe you’ve been wounded or your words or actions have hurt someone else. One friend of mine—rather than confront a misunderstanding—oftentimes requires an invitation, of sorts, to re-establish the lines of communication. However, this only serves to foster discord. Although I’m the first in line to minimize conflict whenever possible, I don’t require an invitation to initiate a dialog. For example, I’m always willing to provide clarification or nip an assumption in the bud. OK, except between 9 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., or while I’m hiking or writing or practicing yoga or it’s “Friday pizza movie night.” When misunderstandings occur (because they will), I’d like to suggest a tactic rooted in gentleness, kindness and love: that we proactively seek to facilitate a pathway toward common ground. We may have to agree to disagree. But at least we’re talking.

Who do you need to reach out to today?

Walking into the new year like: putting on a new identity

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On New Year’s Eve day, I awakened early, my spirit bubbling with anticipation. This is it, ready or not, the new year—the new decade (depending on which “camp” you reside)—begins in T minus 20 hours. And I decided right then—the scent of rich hazelnut coffee permeating my kitchen—I need a new identity to accompany the new year. I’m not talking about the witness protection change of identity but, rather, an identity that I can speak life into. One that I can fix my gaze on and watch unfurl. Not unlike a “word” you might choose (see “20/20 vision…”), it’s who you envision yourself to be. As for me: I’m a Godly woman, a loving and patient wife and mother, joyful worker, kind friend and gentle neighbor. I’m creative, organized and successful. Even when I fall short. Because the truth is: we’re a work in progress, ever evolving. Until we become who we were truly created to be.

What identity do you believe about yourself?

Absolutes: yes, no or maybe?

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Growth comes not from hating what is wrong, but in loving what is right. I heard these words during yoga practice a while ago, another “ism” shared by our instructor. As a child raised in a Christian household, I soon learned that in life there are absolutes: yes and no. Right and wrong. Good and evil. Sickness and health. And the list goes on. Throughout the years, these (and other) absolutes remain, yet many have become muddied over time; shades of gray splashed onto a canvas of black and white. Rather than accept or reject, we choose to tolerate. Instead of casting blame or offering forgiveness, we overlook. An exception to the rule might take the place of “always” or “never.” Yet when it comes to growth, compromise won’t garner the results we seek: Because what we give out, we get back in the same form. However, I believe we can’t go wrong with love. But we’ll never be right about hate.

Do you struggle with any absolute(s)?

An apology to my adult daughter

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Dearest daughter, I’m sorry for every time I’ve failed you. For neglecting to portray the consummate woman—aka wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, friend—or implying that level of excellence is even attainable. I’m sorry if you’ve questioned my love for you, or your worth as a human being. I’m sorry you’ve carried many of your heaviest burdens without me, and that I haven’t hugged you enough—or told you enough—how remarkable you are and the lavish ways you’ve enriched my life since you squawked your arrival. How you’ve taught me what a life free from pretense looks like filtered through the lens of unconditional forgiveness, compassion, acceptance and grit. Because of you, I desire to be a better person— “real people.” And I hope you grasp the goodness of your heart, the beauty of your wings and that the world needs what you have to offer. Thank you for the opportunity to try again each time I fall short. You bless me more than I deserve.

How to discern the answer you’re looking for

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During the past several weeks, I’ve mapped out a (tentative) new plan that I write about in “Making a fresh start…” And every day looks different: One day might require setting aside my personal agenda to work with significant others on common goals. Another day it may take all I’ve got to clock in my eight hours and squeeze out 90 minutes of yoga. I’ve also spent time contemplating an ongoing dilemma. During a recent hike, I looked for answers—and for “love”—in the desert. Myriad rocks bordered the trail, yet the heart-shaped stones I sought eluded me. Until I changed my focus. I realized, then, that the sign or solution we seek can be right in front of us—or doesn’t always appear as we expect—and we must “zoom in” and/or alter our perspective to distinguish it. However, if we become distracted by the clutter of our surroundings, our selfish ambitions or vain conceits, we risk overlooking the obvious.

What answer do you seek today?

Taking stock of the old, ushering in the new

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Two weeks ago I began the following post. This morning I found it, nearly complete, on my computer. Although not timely in relation to the date on the calendar, it may still resonate for some as it does for me: Numerous emotions course through me just a week after my birthday celebrations (yes, plural). Gratitude as I observe each day as the gift it truly is. Love for family and friends as we embrace the spirit of Christmas mere days away. An indwelling of peace as a byproduct of restored relationships. Yet, even then, a sense of melancholy over unexplored opportunities. Grief and disappointment. “What if’s” and bittersweet memories. The should’ves, could’ves, would’ves. But a glimmer of hope remains—a brightly covered package I tear into each morning with renewed expectation. As we tie up our last-minute holiday shopping and baking, wrapping and socializing, I encourage each of us to pause and reflect on the clean slate ahead.

What is one thing you’d change about the past year?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When doubts begin to threaten your peace: remember to look up

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Yesterday morning, as I drove through my neighborhood to work, my thoughts turned inward. Doubts began to intrude on my peace. Tears sprung to my eyes and I blinked to keep the waterworks from spilling over onto my cheeks. And then a beautiful thing happened: I remembered to look up. At that moment, the sunrise bursting through the clouds served as a reminder which I continue to reflect on time and time again: I am loved. I am here on this earth for a purpose. I matter. Even when I feel invisible or misunderstood, the Creator paints a canvas of hope upon my heart in order to reflect outward onto a hurting world. Dear friends, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. To feel insignificant, overwhelmed or broken. Even as I type these words, my heart squeezes with emotions I have yet to explore. But it’s enough, for now, to know that I need only look up.

What is your panacea when doubts take hold?

#1 way to grow in every area of your life

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At my last acupuncture appointment, my practitioner inquired about a trip my husband and I took up north to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I told her the getaway proved a magical way to usher in our 30th year of marriage. I also shared that, in retrospect, the majority of our married life had always seemed effortless. This insight struck my husband and me recently after we experienced a falling out and realized that, over the past several years, we’d stopped investing: in each other. In us. Bottom line: When we begin to pursue separate interests more and communicate less, we invite apathy. When we fail to faithfully plant seeds of kindness and love, we foster discontent. But when we afford effort to make together time a priority, we cultivate connection. Here’s the takeaway, friends: what we feed (invest in) grows—whether it’s our vocation, education, bank account, spiritual life, health or relationships. Or even an addiction. And what we starve dies.

Where do you invest the most effort?

Photo source: http://www.erinbettis.com.

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