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

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.