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.

When you feel like a failure: don’t look back

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You know when the perfect opportunity to offer words of wisdom and insightful advice to your child—adult or otherwise—takes on the appearance of a train wreck versus the motherly win you strive for? Even with a quarter century of parenting experience under my belt, I still bomb (and not the fizzled-out kind), the recent fail an up-close-and-personal affront at my ability to think before I speak—to mindfully build up rather than fight fire with fire. Tears ensued. Hugs suspended. Hours later, my mom ego bruised, I waved a white flag in the form of a text: Do-over? My treat. My faith life on display, it had revealed a mind and heart polluted by the demons I refer to in “Fighting the demons…:” old habits repeated, past choices tendered. But I have a choice now: I can allow the mistakes of yesterday to define today, or I can choose not to look back. Because that’s not the direction I’m headed.

How do you respond to failure?

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

Newsflash: it’s not all about you

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news flash

 

When the familiar ache in my heart warns me a self-inflicted pity party might be in progress soon, I remind myself of the truth in Gretta Brooker Palmer’s quote about how making someone else happy serves to sprinkle joy into our own lives. A backwash of blessings, if you will. Mary, the woman I write about in ‘The secret to a happy life,’ whose partner withholds communication and touch on a regular basis, has taught me much about removing self from the equation. To take what I’m missing in my life and turn loss into an opportunity to pick myself up for the umpteenth time, dust off the ashes and allow my faith to create beauty in the lives of those around me. The hardest part is keeping our gaze fixed ahead of us, rather than focusing inward on our lack. Just for today, let’s discard our metaphorical blinders and do something kind for someone else. I guarantee we’ll both feel better.

How can you change your focus?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Avoiding self-imposed ruts

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Self-imposed ruts

 

According to Oxford Dictionaries, a rut is “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” A friend of mine recently said the difference between a rut and a grave is its depth. (We also have a choice about the one in which we get stuck.) At any given time, we might find ourselves trapped in old thought patterns or routines and feel like guinea pigs going round in one of those wheels because sometimes it seems easier to go through the motions. However, each day is an opportunity to transform our reality—to jump off that spinning wheel and reinvent ourselves. A few tips that have worked for me are to: practice 1) letting go of things I can’t control; 2) making choices that advance my goals; 3) not worrying about what others think; 4) prioritizing and learning to say ‘no’ and 5) engaging in activities that make me happy.

How do you avoid or escape the self-imposed ruts?

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Exhale the old, inhale the new

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jan 1 2015

 

[Image credit: Danilo Rizzuti]

So far the best saying I’ve stumbled across that pertains to the New Year is: Exhale 2014, inhale 2015. I love the visual this invokes: Shed the old in order to fill up with the new. But I believe that in order to make room for more of the good stuff, it’s important to acknowledge the bad stuff and then let it go. Didn’t get everything crossed off your bucket list? Pare it down this year, make it more attainable. Loved and lost? Give thanks for those who made you feel alive. Ran head first into a few hiccups on your journey? Learn and continue to live. Each moment is an opportunity to love more, forgive more, appreciate more… be more. My personal focus for the New Year is balance—while at the same time doing more (of the above). And remember: Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product (Eleanor Roosevelt). I’m ready.

What is one area you plan to focus on in the coming year?

Time to let go

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[Image credit: Stuart Miles]

In my post Eye of the storm, I discussed situations where nothing you do or say can change an outcome.  When this happens, it may be time to say It didn’t work out.  Time to move on.  So how do you know when it’s time to let go?  What if you hung on to that dead-end job for another month and management changed, providing you a promotional opportunity?  When we brought our cat Lily home, I experienced horrible allergies and asthma.  I told my then seven-year-old daughter I didn’t know if we’d be able to keep her.  I went to the doctor, was prescribed an inhaler and took heavy-duty cough medicine.  Nothing worked.  Three weeks to the date we brought Lily home, I woke up with clear lungs, allergy free.  Twelve years later, she’s still a wonderful addition to our family.  And then what about our dreams?  Do we give up on them when the going gets tough?

How do you know when it’s time to let go?

C is for compromise

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[Image credit: sippakorn]

I live in the Southwest where we don’t turn the clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time, or set them an hour ahead in the fall.  And most of my family and friends live in the Midwest or East Coast, which means we are up to three hours off.  So scheduling visits or making phone calls can be challenging and oftentimes doesn’t happen because we missed that “window” of opportunity.  Not too long ago, an East Coast friend would wait until I tried to accomplish all of my tasks before we hopped online.  It finally got to the point where compromise seemed a better solution; i.e., visit while it’s still relatively early on their end, and I can finish what I need to once we’ve said our goodnights.  Of course it’s tempting to visit longer, but keeping disciplined allows my friend to log a sufficient amount of Zzzs and me to get my stuff done.  Compromise doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our friendship; it simply means making concessions for the good of it.  Imagine all the areas in life that could benefit from a little bit of compromise.

Do you demand your own way, or is compromise your middle name?

Taking a leap of faith

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[Image credit: tungphoto]

Last week a couple new opportunities came knocking.  On a Facebook post, I compared it to standing on the edge of a high dive, torn between fear of failure and hope for a big splash of success.  Some friends urged me to jump; others raised the question: if not now, when?  I look at successful writers, the ones who have their name in print with multiple publications under their belts.  And I want that (even just a little taste, thank you).  But it doesn’t come without risk (and sacrifice) — without taking that leap of faith away from the security of solid ground.  When I was a child, I climbed to the top of the highest diving board at the public pool, my peers lined up behind me in single file.  As I stood at the precipice and stared at the water below, my courage faltered and I turned around, pushing my way down to safety.  I did it again until the third time, I finally leapt (okay, more like stepped out and fell).  The shimmering surface stung as it slapped my skin, but I was no longer afraid.  Most of those who succeed in life jumped at one time too, working hard to keep their heads above water.  In case there’s any question, I did answer the door.

When opportunity knocks, do you dive right in or take your time to shore up the courage first?

A few of my favorite things

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[Image credit: Chaiwat]

I remember my mom telling me if we all liked (fill in the blank here), it would be an awfully boring world.  Our tastes, likes, dislikes, aversions, hopes and dreams are uniquely ours.  And thank goodness, because imagine the limited selections of books and movies, dining and entertainment, clothing and cars (not to mention how crowded it would be if everyone lived in the same “perfect” locale).  Of course, if we were all identical (i.e., cats with their penchant for “cat food”), we wouldn’t know any other way.  But I embrace our differences.  And how the funnest (yes, it’s a word) times in life are when we make compromises because of them.  Like when I’m hungry for a veggie pizza and my friend craves a meat-lovers so we order half-and-half (no sides touching).  I’m also reminded how our differences allow us the opportunities to try something new — such as a food or shared experience — and find out it’s our new favorite.  So go ahead: you say tomato and I’ll probably still say tomato, but a few of my favorite things remain those common bonds enjoyed with the ones I love.

What are a few of your favorite things?

Standing up for yourself

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[Image credit: aopsan]

Whenever I dine out, the server always pops over to ask how everything tastes right after I take a bite.  Sound familiar?  A few weeks ago, however, my mouth was empty when the owner stopped by my table, at which time I shared my disappointment in two of the food items.  In fact, it was the first time in my life I have ever returned an order I was not happy with.  I explained my dissatisfaction and was told both menu selections would be deducted from my bill.  Although I appreciated the gesture, I was frustrated because the server and the owner became defensive and argumentative, even suggesting I should have eaten at one of their ethnic-chain counterparts.  I wish I could say I had a good comeback on the tip of my tongue at the time, but I was proud I was assertive in the first place.  And who knows, maybe the little things I stand up for now are simply preparing me for something bigger around the corner.

Do you typically speak up, or more often settle in silence?