What are you Missing?

Everyday, we have moments that are perfect. Most of the time, we miss them because we are too busy or we are in a situation that we think can’t have a “perfect” moment. When the unexpected joy happens do we enjoy it? Sometimes, unexpected joy can be small things, small moments that may be easy to miss. It could be a sunset or perhaps even a smile from a stranger. Joyful gifts don’t have to be big, grandiose things. I think the best ones are small, the unexpected ones.

I recently took a trip with my husband. He surprised me with an upgrade to first class. What a treat! I gave myself to it. I savor each minute of my travel. I am in the moment. The enjoyment of a glass of wine , the comfort of more leg room. When I am “in the moment” I’m not thinking about what I might need to do tomorrow or any problem I might have. I am in the now. For me, I don’t worry about my special needs daughter, or the things on my to do list. I am in the present.

I look out the window of the plane and see the sunset. It is beautiful. Tomorrow may be filled with things I have to do. Perhaps things I don’t want to do. But here, right now, it is perfect. And I am enjoying it, I am enveloped in the feeling of it.

It makes me stop and think about how may other joyful moments I am missing. It reminds me to look for the joy in everyday. Oft times, we allow the mundane things in life to drown out the joy.

Did you have a perfect moment with your child that you missed? Did that perfect joyful moment with your spouse get lost in your day?

Life might not be perfect or joyous in big ways many times. It is the joy in the quiet times that we miss, A kiss on the lips, a hand that reaches toward you, a smile and a kind word. Are you missing your perfect moment?

 

 

Decide

I am thinking about the future lately, a lot. Not in a “I’m going to die soon” kind of way but in a “how am I going to live these Golden Years” way.

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I am a person who likes to stay connected with people. Because of this, I talk with someone everyday. I have friends across age and gender groups but as you might guess, most are around my age. I am a talker, ask anyone who knows me. I tend to ask a lot of questions. As I ask my contemporaries questions, I listen to the answers and sometimes the answers or even non-answers make me sad.

We talk about children, empty nests, spouses, retirement plans, and our health and wellness. We talk about change and how oft times it is difficult. I hear from them that they may not be happy with where they live or what they do for a living. How they need to lose weight or exercise more. How they need to spend less and save more. How they can’t retire anytime soon because they don’t (didn’t) have a plan.

Some are not even looking forward to the future. Most are worried about something. That makes me sad. I guess for me it is magnified because I AM looking forward to what’s up ahead.

I have noticed through the years that people can be afraid. They won’t leave jobs, towns or a marriage if they are unhappy. It seems the known unhappiness is better than the unknown change. I don’t know the answer and, of course, each person’s situation is different. But what I do know is finding a way to peace and happiness is a job. It takes hard work and sometimes a step into unknown water. When I was at my deepest despair I wanted someone to make me happy, to do something for me. It took a long time for me to realize that I had to do the work, I had to do something.

If you know me you have heard me quote Albert Einstein, “The definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Everyday you hear people you know complain about the same things over and over. Perhaps you have given suggestions, options or resources to someone and all you get in response are excuses. It is hard to help those who won’t help themselves. They have settled for less then they want, all because of what?

People hide behind excuses (me too). What’s yours? Wait, I know you are too busy. I bet if I took a poll that would be the number one reason (money is not far behind). How many times a day do you say that, or hear that from someone?

If you don’t like what is happening in your life, change it. No one will do it for you. If you aren’t happy, for goodness sake, do something! Stop making excuses and take action. Anything worth having takes work, including happiness. I know this to be personally true. Someone once said “doing isn’t difficult deciding is.” Don’t let fear stop you from making the decision to change ! Decide to have a joyful life!

“I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

~Nelson Mandela~

Well said Nelson, well said.

 

Truth

I believe that there are certain truths in life. You may not agree with my observations, or you may see your thoughts echoed in mine. They are in no particular order.

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  1. Life is not fair – This is a big one. People by nature want things to be fair. We carry on and use this truth as an excuse to, well, excuse our behavior. Someone will always be richer, prettier and smarter than you. So stop worrying about it. And as far as I know, no one ever said life would be fair.
  2. Happiness takes work – We are never taught in life that to be happy we need to work at it. It was never in any textbook or class I took in school, and it was not something my parents ever taught me. We assume that we will just be happy. Being happy just maybe some of the hardest work you ever do.
  3. You are NOT too busy – Sure, some days are more filled than others. But I have found that the people who use this as an excuse more often than not are the victims of poor organization and planning. The great philosopher Seneca said “So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”
  4. You need to tend to your relationship – If you never water you garden it will not grow. If you have a spouse or friends, they need you. Your relationships should be your top priority. NEVER be too busy for them.
  5. Sometimes you are wrong – We all are. So admit it, apologize if need be.
  6. Sometime you will be wronged – Give grace and move on. This doesn’t mean you will forget, but you can forgive.
  7. Stay in your own business – As tempting as it is, don’t mess in other peoples lives. You should be hard at work in your own.
  8. Focus on what’s important in life – Don’t worry that you missed the sale at Macy’s or that your neighbor has a new car and you don’t. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and people to love, you hit the jackpot.
  9. Stop making excuses- For why you don’t do stuff. Just do it. Enough said.
  10. Change is good – Don’t be afraid, even if at first it is scary or even sad. Good things can come out of the darkest moments of change.
  11. You get to choose – This may be the greatest truth. YOU get a choice in this life. You can choose how you respond to all the stuff, good and bad that happens to you. You can choose to live a life full of joy and love or pick the path of discontentment and play the victim. Bad stuff will happen and we can’t always control that, but we can choose how we react to it. Choose wisely.

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I think about my truths often. I am a constant work in progress when it comes to them. I have to remind myself of them, and they take work. I don’t believe I will ever have it down perfectly, but that doesn’t mean I will quit working on them. My truths help to anchor me to what is really important. If I may be so bold to ask,what anchors you?

Lost

I have lost a child, but not in the way you might think. From the moment of her birth it seems that Emma was up against it. The month she came into this world, her dad left it. There would be no Daddy daughter dances, no one to call her Daddy’s little girl, and no strong arms to pick her up when she would fall. And so I cried.

It would become apparent in the coming years that I would lose her to a thing called Autism. Learning anything was difficult. Friends were non-existent. Simple things were herculean tasks.

As time went by, she would make slow but steady progress. I pushed, pulled, and dragged her into our world and out of hers. She would never be able to live on her own, never get married or have children but in her own way she was successful. So, for a while, I found her. She was no longer totally lost in her Autism.

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Then on her 16th birthday I lost her again. At first I didn’t know where to look for her. She stood right in front of me and yet I could not see her, I could not reach her. She was lost to mental illness. I had no personal experience with mental illness so I did not recognize it when it came. I did not know the signs; she slipped away from me suddenly. Would I ever find her? I wasn’t sure. I search and searched, and finally, I did find her, but it took work. I had to be vigilant. I had to hold on tight and for a while, it seemed that we beat back the darkness. And all was good.

Several months ago it returned. This time so severe, so all encompassing it took my breath away. This time Emma is truly lost. Not just for hours or days or even weeks. It is months that this harbinger of evil has stayed. The sweet girl who loves music and running is someone I do not know. Someone I do not like. I can find nary a trace of my girl. I look for her everyday. I have spent countless hours looking, hoping, and praying to no avail. She is lost and this time I fear the worst that I will not find her. Ever.

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It seems hopeless. Not only have I lost Emma but now, it seems, I too am lost. Perhaps, one day soon I will spy my girl on the distant horizon and shine a light so she can find her way home. Till then, each day I will search and call her name in the hope that she will find me.

il Sogno (The Dream)

We long for moments like these, we dream of them, sometimes for years. We work hard and save our money. Then one day our dream comes true. We get to do that “something” we have been wanting to do for what seems like a lifetime. For each of us it is something different. For me it was a trip to Italy.

Italy, the land of vineyards, olive groves, pasta and history so rich, that you can get lost in the taste of it. And finally, I am here. After all my wishing, planning and saving, I am HERE. The dream I had in my mind didn’t even come close to what I was to experience.10366183_10203390328294976_7571454675591413472_n

We hope, when we dream that our experience will live up to our expectation. Not only did it live up to what I had hoped for, it far exceeded it. When I vacation I like to go off the beaten path. Of course, I want to see the most famous sights, but I also want to see what the locals do, where they go to eat and where they live. That is why for this trip I took a cultural walking tour, I went to Tuscany and Cinque Terre with a company called Classic Journey. At first I was hesitant to take a tour, but after researching them and knowing that they only took small groups (mine was 6 people), I decided to take a chance. I am certainly glad I did. But before our tour was to start we decide to head to Rome for 3 days.

Did I mention that this was my honeymoon? Not only did I get to travel to a place I had only dreamed of, I got to share this dream with the man of my dreams! Can a person bear such happiness?

I’m not certain when I knew for sure this trip would be something special, something more. Was it when I first stepped on the streets of Rome? Streets that were steeped in history, the narrow winding roads that held whispers of the past. Around every corner, echos of a bygone time murmured in my ear. Or maybe it was The Villa Le Barone, (the place where we would be staying for the next 3 days) sitting in the Tuscan sunshine like something you only see in the movies? Vineyards and olive groves dot the surrounding countryside. Church bells are chiming in the distance. Is this real?

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Perhaps it was when we were hiking thru the vineyards that seemed to go on forever. And around every corner was a sight so beautiful it took my breath away. Or when we ended up at Castello Della Paneretta (a small bed and breakfast) and Patrizio welcomed us like we were old friends and fed us.

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Of course it could have been our tour guide Luciano, a local who was just the perfect fit for this trip. In this land of so much history, his knowledge made the past come alive. It seemed suddenly I had a thirst for knowledge. I wanted to know, who, what when and most importantly how Italians did so many magnificent things!

It matters not when it happened, it matters that it DID happen. Over the next weeks I will be sharing the experiences of our trip. The food, the places, the people and yes, the wine!

Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest of chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.                                                                                                                                   ~ Pat Conroy~

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Come with me as I bask in the memories of my journey.

Ciao

 

Dear God

Dear God,

I am getting married in less than a  month! (Of course, You already knew that). In the midst of all that is going on, I wanted to take the time to thank You.  I know I don’t have to write You, but I best organize my thoughts when I write them down, and I don’t want to leave anything out.

You have been such a Faithful presence in my life, even when I was angry with You. You never left. When I felt the lack of Your presence, it was my fault. I turned away.

I am sure You don’t often hear from folks unless they need You. And that must be disappointing to You. I know as a parent, it can get wearisome only to hear from children when they have a problem. I don’t have a problem that is too big to bear, I have blessings one right after another and I need to thank You.

You have blessed me with the best kids ever. Sure we have had (and continue to have) some bumps in the road. But really, they are so small that I shouldn’t mention them. I wish with all my heart that Emma was not Autistic, but her disability has brought so many new things to my life that I never would have experienced. I learned the art of patience, not just with her but in many life situations. I learned to be a seeker of knowledge. At first, it was just to help my Emma. Then it was to help others in the same situation as me. I learned that lots of people can be mean to a disabled child, and even more can be kind and caring.

I want to thank You for my friends! Oh, how You gave me friends! Not the ordinary kind but the extraordinary kind. You gave me friends who have never left my side. You gave me friends who became family. Men who became father figures and women who became sisters. People who were strangers that came to love my children when they didn’t have to, and who also loved me when they didn’t have to.

Thanks for all the stuff in between, big and small and too numerous to count.

And finally, You gave me HIM. You rewarded my years of patience, my years filled with lonely nights and heartache (17 of them). You brought to me a man who is so much more than I had ever dreamed of.  So much more than I could have hoped for.

You made my life at the age of 52, a bright shiny adventure, full of love and laughter.

I don’t know the reason You do or don’t do things. I guess I won’t ever know or understand until I see You in heaven. But I guess at that point I won’t care anymore about those things because I’ll be with You.

I know that sometimes it seems as if I’m not listening to You. But that’s not true. You are in everything I do everyday.  It’s because of You that I take the homeless man to lunch, that I comfort a parent of a special needs child, and mentor women who are less fortunate than me.

I will never be that person who stands on the corner for You, telling the world about You. That’s not my style and of course You already know that. But I promise, I will do my best to show people what You are like, loving, kind, and caring. I will take the gifts and blessings You have given me and I will share them.

And maybe most of all thank You for the clarity to know the difference between what I want and what I need. That was a true gift indeed. It allowed me to make all the choices that have led me to this very spot and I couldn’t be happier.

Love,

Me

A Man Named Bobby

I met a man named Bobby yesterday.  He was tall with brown hair and brown eyes. He had a beard.  This meeting between he and I was totally unplanned.  I offered to buy him lunch. He accepted with a quiet nod and a thank you. I told him I would meet him at Torchy’s Tacos.

I arrive at Torchy’s and it is packed, as it is noon straight up. If you never have been there, it is very popular and always has a line out the door at lunch.  It is one of my favorite taco places. I snag a parking spot right in front of the door, my lucky day.

Bobby meets me at the front door and we walk in to wait in line. It is so busy that when we are in line you can’t avoid touching your neighbor. Being this close to Bobby I can’t help but notice that he smells. He smells so much that people in line start backing away from us.  In order to avoid further embarrassing Bobby, I stay put.

He seems quiet and not sure how to start a conversation with me. So, to try and put him at ease, I start.  I ask him what he does for a living. He responded that he is between jobs. Are you married?  No he replies. Kids? Yes, he says 2.  By this point I can see he is not a great conversationalist.  My impression is that he seems to feel out of place and awkward. I must carry this conversation along on my own.

How old are your kids I asked? Boys? Girls?  “Two boys, a 9 year old, and I think a 3 or 4 year old.” Odd I think. How do you not know how old your kids are? We proceed to the register to order. He has never been to Torchy’s before so I quickly explain the menu. He asks me what I usually get. I tell him and he says that he will have what I am having.  I am a light eater and I’m sure that it will not be enough for him so I encourage him to order something else and he does.  The girl taking our order asks him if he would like chips and queso? He glances at me as if for approval and I nod yes, and he orders the chips.

While I am paying for our lunch he grabs the drink cups and asks me what he can get me to drink. I respond tea. He says sweet or unsweet and I give my standard reply, unsweet because I’m sweet enough. He looks confused for a moment and I must explain that I was trying to be funny.  It appears he doesn’t get my humor.

Luck was with us as we get the last table that is available.  We are sitting in the covered patio. It is a beautiful day. He remarks that the day is warm and he starts to remove his jacket. As he removes his 4 jackets I see his arms are covered in tattoos.

We make an odd pair. I have just come from speaking at Texas Christian University and I am dressed nicely. He is in a short sleeved shirt and in well-worn overalls and as I said covered in tattoos.People at the next table are looking at us.  His smell is pretty overwhelming.

I continue to try and put him at ease. How old are you? 33 he says.  The chips and queso arrive at our table. I can see he is hungry but he hesitates as if once again waiting for my approval.  I say please start.  He starts eating with gusto.  I ask, when was the last time you ate?  His reply makes me sad. He said, “I had a cup of soup yesterday.”  He asks, don’t you want any chips?  I tell him I am on a diet (which I am not). I tell him this because when I glance at his hands, they are filthy. I had not noticed that before and I am uncomfortable eating from the same bowls as him. As he eats I observe that he is only eating with his front teeth. As I look more closely I realize that his teeth are in bad shape and it appears he has no back teeth.

As his stomach begins to fill and he is feeling less awkward, he begins to open up. He tells me that currently he is sleeping under a bridge. Concerned, I ask if he is warm enough as the weather in the past week had been very cold. He says yes. He has 4 coats and five blankets. My new acquaintance is homeless.

I have a weakness I must confess, I can’t stand to think of people being hungry.  Sleeping under a bridge for some reason doesn’t bother me as much as hunger.  This is not the first time I have invited a homeless person to lunch, and God willing, it won’t be the last.

Before you freak out and say it’s too dangerous, let me tell you how I go about it.  I saw Bobby on the street corner holding a sign, “Will work for food.” As I stopped at the light, I rolled down my window and asked him if he was hungry. When he nodded yes, I told him to walk to the restaurant across the street and I would meet him there. I have a method to my madness. It’s safe.

I never give money to homeless people, and I never invite them into my car.  The reason I try to help people in this manner is because I feel it’s my responsibility to help those less fortunate. There is a passage from the Bible, Luke 12:48, that I like. It goes like this. “To whom much is given, much is expected,” and I have been given so very much.

I may never change the world, but for a while I can make my spot in this world, a little kinder, a little happier for someone even if it’s just for the moment, and that makes me happy. And on Thursday, February 13, 2014 for a man named Bobby, I think I did just that. He left with a full stomach, a smile on his face and a kind word from a stranger. I think for that hour the sun shone a little brighter in my spot of the world.

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