Thought(s) of the Day: Inspirational and/or amusing Nuggets of Wisdom

Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation in our hearts. Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ's birth, Christ is reborn in our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
~Edward Hays

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.
~John E. Southard

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Lighthouse

Have you seen the movie Dan in Real Life? It is one of my absolute favorites! It's a heartwarming story about a father of 3 girls navigating the ups and downs of parenthood, love, and life after losing his wife. This movie makes me laugh, makes me cry, makes me hopeful, makes me sing along - it's just a really great flick!
The movie is set in New England and begins with Dan's family (his parents, several siblings, nieces, and nephews) coming together to the family lake house to close it up for the winter. In one scene Dan takes his youngest daughter and 2 of her cousins on an outing. They end up in front of an old lighthouse and the following conversation ensues:

Dan: You know why we have lighthouses?

Child: Because they're neat?

Dan: That's right, yes. And also because they help when it's dark out. They help keep boats safe, and they help us from crashing into rocks. Because, when you're out there, and you're being tossed back and forth by those big dark waves, and you think that you'll never feel land again, and that you could just split into a million pieces, and just sink down all the way down into the deep, it's the light that keeps us on course. It's the light.

Whenever I watch this scene (and I can't tell you how many times I've watched this movie!) I can't help but think about my father. He is undoubtedly the lighthouse in my life. Throughout my life, and especially these past 18 months, whenever I have felt close to crashing into the rocks, splitting into a million pieces, and sinking, it's been my father's love, support, and guidance that have kept me on course. From making a tutu of which I was so proud as a child to his sincere wisdom and advice, he has never let me down. He always seems to know what to say while also knowing that sometimes, there just aren't any words at all.
Dad, you'll never know how much you mean to me and I how much I appreciate your love, support, and guidance. I am, by far the luckiest daughter in the world. So thank you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being My Lighthouse.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Apologies to Susan & Betty

On the drive to school this morning, I was explaining to my 4 year old how Mommy was going to start working soon.

(Sidebar: A couple with which my parents golf knew I was looking for a job and asked for my resume. The husband passed my resume along to his boss. Last Wednesday I interviewed; received an offer on Thursday, and took the job on Friday. I'm going to start my training a handful of days this month and will hit the ground running, working full time January 4th. It's a sales assistant position for a steel processing company. I'm eager to get back into the working world and especially eager to earn a paycheck again!)

Back to the car ride: I finish telling my son that in a few weeks, Mommy will be going to work everyday while he and older brother are at school. Without missing a beat, he giggles and blurts out, "You're silly, Mommy. Girls don't work!" I'm positive I heard Susan B. Anthony and Betty Friedan rolling over in their graves. I reminded him that his teacher was a girl and she was working everyday. He responded, "She's not working, she's at school." I haven't yet decided if I pity or envy my little boy's future wife. In my sweet son's defense, I have been a stay-at-home mother since he was born. And now I'm about to shatter his sheltered view of the world.

I'm pretty sure my going back to work won't be that upsetting for him, especially when he realizes we're finally able to see movies at "the real movies" (as the boys like to call it) instead the dollar theatre.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What a "Sweet" Afternoon

My oldest son had some classmates over to play this weekend. We couldn't have had better weather, or a better group of children. Including my youngest son, we had a party of six. My Pops threw some wood on the fire pit and we roasted hot dogs for lunch. The kids had a great time running and playing and eating outside. After lunch, we let everyone toast their own marshmallows for some yummy, gooey S'mores. They were a big (messy) hit! Every cheek and smile in the backyard was covered with melted chocolate and marshmallow goo. But the S'mores sure were delicious! The play date was a big success and everyone had a wonderful time.

In the middle of lunch, one of my son's female classmates leaned toward his ear and whispered. They were both smiling ear to ear and let out some cute, squeaky giggles. His eyes lit up and he responded, "Sure! That's sounds really great to me!"

He later tells me that she asked if they could be boyfriend and girlfriend.....and they're kindergartners! He then goes on to tell me, completely serious and with a straight face, "You know, Mom. You might have just met your future daughter-in-law today." It took everything within me not to laugh but I didn't want to hurt his feelings so I kept it together. The moment was so precious and sincere.

I hope everyone's weekend was as carefree, laughter-filled, and gooey as ours was!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ancient Wisdom

Those of you who know me, know how much I love inspirational quotes and encouraging adages. In fact, on a bad day it's these hopeful words that keep me keeping on. I know it's easy to dismiss them as platitudes and even easier to stay in your grumpy mood. All I know is repetition (and reflection) of these so-called platitudes really help me climb out of some dark holes. With that said, I'd like to share some of my favorites, "oldies but goodies", from ancient Asian wisdom. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

The Wisdom of Chinese Proverbs:

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
(What great advice! I must be one brilliant stone by now!)

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
(I know, easier said than done- but again, what great advice!)

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
(I really like this one because it urges you to act. Too many times, we become victims. We complain, place blame, wait around for someone or something to solve our problems. You're the only one who can light your candle and fan the flame. So what are you waiting for? Stop complaining, create a spark, and light your fire!)

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
(Not so much for cheering purposes, but I just love this old adage. It describes the Montessori philosophy of education (of which I'm a huge fan) perfectly. For all of you parents out there, truer words can not be said of meaningful and effective learning. There simply is no substitution for learning by doing.)

The one who pursues revenge should dig two graves.
(So true. Life's too short and precious to hold onto anger and pain. Letting go is the only sane and healthy choice to make...unless you're content spending the rest of your life in that dark grave. And really, what kind of life is that? So stop digging, put down the shovel, back away from that grave- and LIVE!)

Along the same lines of letting go, here is a great quote from the wisdom of Buddha:

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. (Ouch!)

Some more brilliant advice from our friend Buddha:

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.
(So true! Have you hugged yourself yet today?)

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.
(I like this one. Helps me remember not to take short cuts or keep score. Just be your best and do your best. As they say, the proof is in the pudding!)

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
(Smile! You won't lose yours by giving it to someone else! Also, I have found that faking a good mood, often results in one. Pretty neat!)

To sum it up: Throw down that shovel, give yourself a big hug, use that hot coal you've been carrying around to light your candle- and don't forget to smile!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Joys of My 30's!

While I don't have to worry about picking out a dress for homecoming or whether I should wear my hair up or down for prom, I'm still able to relive my teenage years every time my old friend acne comes to visit. Yes, I'd say about once a month during that fun, hormonal week a giant blemish never fails to show itself on my face. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature. Most of the time my zitty friends show up somewhere in the neighborhood of my chin. But every once in awhile, they'll surprise me. Earlier this week I woke up to a shiny, red zit right smack dab in the middle of my forehead. No big deal, I have great concealer- and way bigger things to worry about in my life right now. But I just couldn't resist sharing this funny story with you. My six year old son walked in the bathroom while I was getting ready a few mornings ago. He caught me before the "magic zit concealer" step of my routine. He immediately sees the crimson peak on my forehead and asks me what happened. I told him it was just a pimple, kind of like a boo-boo or bug bite and that it will go away. While keeping his eyes fixed on the zit he asks me if it can talk! I laughed and asked what in the world he was talking about. I then listened as he told me all about one of the characters on some Disney Channel show and how a big, scary, talking zit appeared on his forehead one morning. We both laughed and I couldn't help but notice that his eyes were still glued to that pesky pimple. His laughter abruptly stopped and he was quiet for a moment. Then, "Well, do you think maybe you could cover it with a band-aid, you know, just in case?" I reassured him that my pimple, nor any pimple ever, was going to start talking to him. He nodded his head a little and then asked, "Well, could you cover it up anyway, you know, so I don't have to look at it?" Thanks a lot, my darling son! I then impressed him with my magic concealer. He was amazed. He said he could barely see it anymore and that I didn't need to wear a band-aid after all! Thank goodness!

And I thought being a teenager was rough! Turns out dealing with high school peer pressure is a piece of cake compared to the brutal honesty and criticism of your children!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welcome Back Old Friend

I know summer is the season for beach vacations, hanging out by the pool, and soaking up the rays- and that's all great, in moderation. But I personally could not be happier that fall has finally arrived! Fall is easily my favorite season. The cooler temperatures are just the beginning. I love the bright-colored leaves that fall brings; the brilliant oranges, vivid reds, and vibrant yellows. On our morning commute to my sons' schools, we travel several back roads lined with full, tall trees. Their leaves are just starting to change and the boys and I are having fun spotting the bright patches we see. Even the two hour drive to meet their father every other weekend is being made more enjoyable by the beautiful fall foliage.

Besides the rich colors, fall brings many other joys. Carving pumpkins is always a (very messy)blast. Scooping out the gooey pumpkin "guts", carving the perfect, spooky face, and finally watching your pumpkin come to life with a flickering candle. Of course there's also the crunchy treat you get after drying out, salting, and baking the pumpkin seeds! Yum! And don't get me started on the wonderful scents of fall. I just love the smell of cinnamon, whether it's from scented pine cones or spicing up a cup of hot, apple cider. Speaking of apple cider- yet another delicious treat that goes hand in hand with the fall season. I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

So I'm happily saying goodbye summer and welcome fall! Adios mosquitoes, humidity, and sunburns! Greetings beautiful colors, crisp air, and tasty treats! I know your distant cousin Jack Frost will be here before we know it, but please Fall, my dear, old, long-awaited for friend, please stay as long as you want!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just a Little Prick

Before I tell you about my lab yesterday evening, I have to start with this (embarrassing) childhood story. My little sister and I were at the pediatrician's office for one of our annual well child check-ups. She was around four or five years old and I was seven or eight. The nurse had just informed us she needed to perform a finger stick on Little Sis to draw some blood. Little Sis was pretty anxious about this but I stood by her side, reassuring her that everything would be okay. What a strong, supportive big sister I was! The nurse walks in, makes the stick, and we all watch as the little bead of blood starts to form on Little Sis' fingertip. This is how the rest of the story should have gone:

Little Sis cried uncontrollably but I put my arm around her and calmed her down with my loving, big sisterly hug. Instead, this is what actually happened:

As the bead of blood quickly pooled into a drop of blood, I noticed I couldn't hear anything. The room was starting to get dark and I was feeling pretty dizzy. I walked away trying to shake it off and the last thing I remember was seeing the medical scale by the doorway. Yes, I fainted. Big, brave sister there for moral support passed out, hit her head on the scale, and was out cold on the floor. Alarmed, my father and the nurse race over to me, leaving Little Sis alone holding her bloody finger in amazement. As I'm regaining sight and hearing, a little voice comes from across the room, "Hey guys? What about me?"

Flash forward about twenty-three years and you'll find me returning to school working towards my nursing degree. Who would've thought? Yesterday evening we had our blood lab in Anatomy & Physiology II. The whole commute to campus my stomach was a little fluttery. Okay, a lot fluttery. I kept silently praying to God that I wouldn't embarrass myself in front of my fellow classmates by hitting the lab floor. (The prior dissections haven't bothered me at all; the rat, the sheep's brain, the cadaver. I've been fine- and very fascinated. But there's just something woozy about a tiny, very sharp, two-edged knife puncturing one of my intact capillaries.) As I'm setting up the needed supplies in front me (mechanical lancing device, hematocrit tube, alcohol swabs, blood type testing slides), I'm giving myself the most enthusiastic (and loudest while still remaining silent) pre-game speech I can muster. I swipe my fingertip with an alcohol swab and take a deep breath. And one last silent prayer. I placed the lancet in the device, assumed the position, and pushed the release button before I had time to change my mind. To my complete disbelief and excitement, the finger stick was painless and I didn't feel the least bit faint or unsteady. I even remembered to exhale. I spent the next several minutes milking as much blood out of my index finger as I could. Unfortunately (for this lab but fortunately for my health), I am a pretty quick clotter. I ended up having to stick two more fingers to obtain the needed amount of blood for the hematocrit tube and the blood typing tests.

By the end of the lab, I had such a great feeling of accomplishment and pride...and a few aching fingers. But I had survived the blood lab. No, not survived it, I had conquered the blood lab! Even exceeded my own expectations, which let's face it- my expectations were exceeded merely because my skull never met the cold, lab floor. I had built up so much dread and anxiety about this lab and it turned out not to be a big deal at all. So while I feel a little silly for getting so worked up, mostly I feel satisfied, confident, and proud....and a little sore.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Carpet Rides

A little over a year ago, life pulled the rug out from under me. I was married to a hard-working, driven man, raising our two amazing sons in a beautiful cul-de-sac home in suburbia. One eye-opening, gut-wrenching email left accidentally in plain view changed our lives forever.

In the moments following my life-altering discovery, I knew my life and the lives of my precious boys would never be the same. There were fireworks in my stomach; I was sweating but freezing cold at the same time. I found it difficult to draw breaths but I knew I was still alive because my heart was pounding so loudly in my ears. Almost as if it were screaming to get my attention, "Hey! Do you hear me? I'm still beating away in here. We're going to make it to the other side of this." And of course, I cried. I cried as I read my husband's loving words to another woman. I cried for him, I cried for myself, but most of all I cried for my precious, innocent sons.

That was fifteen months ago. My sons and I are now living with my parents while I'm returning to nursing school. And you know something? My heart was exactly right: we did survive the affair, the divorce, and an out of state move. I'm not sure if we're completely on the other side yet, but we're definitely headed in right direction. Fifteen months ago I remember desperately praying and wishing there was a way for me to get past my situation without having to go through it. Minute to minute I was flooded with changing emotions ranging from fear to guilt to shock to shame to overwhelming sadness. I felt defeated and hopeless one moment and the next I was consumed with fierce anger.

As the days turned into weeks and months, my amazing friends and family were such a source of comfort and strength for me. They were always so supportive, concerned, and encouraging. Even now, I can always count on them to lift my spirits on a gloomy day. They often told me how proud they were of me, how strong I was, and what an amazing job I was doing getting through this. Hearing their words were nice but I couldn't help thinking to myself, "If they only knew how often I cry, they wouldn't be so proud of me. If they only knew how scared and hopeless I feel at times, they wouldn't think I was so strong." At the time, I felt like I really had no option than to keep on keeping on. Just taking it one day at a time and trying to make the best decisions I could each day. That anyone in my position would be doing the same things given the situation, that I wasn't really doing anything extraordinary. I realize now that I was selling myself short, not giving myself the credit or feeling the pride and strength I deserved to have and feel. Looking back I can now see that there were lots of different choices I could have made, lots of different options and outcomes that could have been chosen. That I had, in fact done a pretty darn good job at keeping my chin up and caring for and comforting my boys the best way I could. So thank you, my wonderful family and incredible friends. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for seeing the strength in me that I couldn't see. Thank you for your support and kind, encouraging words.

Besides the support and love I find in friends and family (which is immeasurable), I have come to realize my "secret" for coping and surviving this event has been a result of two very important decisions. These decisions are better described as constant, conscious, internal affirmations concerning crucial ingredients for happiness. Whether you're dealing with stress, conflict, loss, whatever, I truly believe in order to get to a place even resembling happiness, you must have forgiveness and gratitude in your life and on your mind.

I'll start with forgiveness. One of my favorite quotes on forgiveness is from author Claudia Black, PhD. "With forgiveness, we no longer build our identity around something that happened to us in the past." I just love it! I think the world is full of martyrs and victims. Things happen in life, good and bad, but we are NOT these events that happen to us. Sure, they affect us, even shape the person we become. But we are not solely defined by our life's uncontrollable happenings. I think too many times people equate forgiveness with condonation and acceptance. Forgiving someone (or even and especially self-forgiveness) isn't about accepting a hurtful act or even forgetting about it. It has nothing to do with the act or the wrong doer. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, by yourself, within yourself. Forgiveness is finally feeling strong enough to say, "This wasn't my fault; I didn't deserve this; I am not going to allow myself to keep feeling anger and hurt about this. I am so much more than this single event in my life." The alternative to forgiveness is feeling bitter, angry, sad, victimized, vengeful, the list goes on and on. I don't see a single benefit from allowing any of those emotions to consume you. For me, forgiveness is a no brainer. Forgiveness is one of the best gifts you can give yourself on the path to happiness.

Along with forgiveness, having a grateful attitude is essential to feeling happy and at peace. Life is so precious and beautiful. I am grateful for so many things in my life: my amazing sons, family, friends, health- the list is endless. Whenever I'm feeling down or like I'm being treated unfairly, I immediately think of all the wonderful blessings in my life. I find it extremely difficult to feel sorry for myself, or sad, or angry, or anything negative when I consciously keep a grateful mindset.

So there you have it. My Happiness Recipe: Add liberal and equal amounts of forgiveness and gratitude! And be sure to make a new batch daily! As with many things, following the recipe is easier said than done. If it were easy though, the results wouldn't be as satisfying. An obvious result is the happiness you'll create in your life. Along with the happiness, you'll also gain the satisfaction and pride of learning your own strength and power, which I believe are just as important.

Looking back to that day when I found the love letters, maybe I just thought life was pulling the rug out from under me. Perhaps it wasn't a jerked rug at all, but a magic carpet taking us to a better place and a brighter life. So the next time you feel the rug being pulled out from under you, don't just fall down and complain about the pain you're feeling- hold on tight to that magic carpet and see where it takes you!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Testing. One, this thing on?

I've enjoyed reading others' blogs for some time now, so I decided to test out the blogging waters myself. Hopefully I'll succeed in being as entertaining, creative, and humorous as so many of my favorite bloggers are.

A little about myself. Let's see...first and foremost I would say I am a Work in Progress! I recently joined the Single Moms Club and my life is full of firsts and new beginnings these days. After several years of being home with my two amazing sons, I've headed back to school in pursuit of a nursing degree. I'm taking life one day at a time and just focusing on being as patient and positive as I can.

Thanks for stopping by!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

We were heading to my oldest son's open house the other night. He attends a local parochial school and they have just started taking the kindergartners to weekly mass. He was explaining how the priest performs magic at the alter. He very excitedly told my parents and me how the priest magically changes the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus and how cool he thought it was. He even went on to say that he might want to be a priest one day because he really likes magic. (Side note: Although he's only 6 years old, my son is always getting crushes on the little actresses he watches on television and in the movies.) I resisted laughing and said, "You know, if you become a priest you can't ever get married. Priests aren't allowed to be married." He let out a disgruntled sigh and snapped back, "What? Why not? Has that always been a rule or is this something Obama just made up?!"

As I watched the huge smile come across my mother's face, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe we needed a little less Fox News and a little more family game nights going on at home.