No news is good news… for me

I do not watch the news. I do not follow stories on social media. I do not read the newspaper. In short, I do not know in any detail what is happening in the world.

I have a pretty good idea that the news is filled with scenes of horror. It would be impossible to filter out all of the buzz that the major headlines inevitably create in the air around me.

Image result for newsI know there are a whole lot of angry women out there because of the injustices created by society and men of power. I know there is an extremely controversial president in office wreaking havoc in all corners of the globe. I know there are countries, freedoms and people under attack everywhere, all the time. I know Mother Earth is suffering at man’s hand. I know there are children being abused in every single sense of the word.

Outside of praying for change, I can’t directly change any of this myself, as one person. And I’m quite certain this statement will be cause for many people to say that I am naive, ignorant and even irresponsible. It’s just that it isn’t my belief that affecting change is my calling in the world. At least not today. Maybe it will be someday and I can truly make a significant difference some where, some how. But because it is not my place in my life at this moment, I can not surround myself with outrage at the horrors of this deeply damaged world. And by the way, that’s not a cop out so I don’t have to face the hard battles of this world. I listen deeply for spiritual guidance and believe my life to be directed by the divine.

The most wonderful perspective about the news that I have ever been told was from someone whose college communications professor shared with them: the news is the extraordinary, not the ordinary; Otherwise it would not be news… Isn’t that good news?! Stories on the news are either about exceptional goodness or exceptional evil. It would be awesome if there was a lot more exceptional goodness in the world, but the flip side of that coin is that “the norm” (aka what is NOT news) is NOT the horrors.

My personality leans towards “the empath”, which means I am susceptible to taking on other people’s emotions… pain, joy, heartache. Watching a story on the news about a 2-year-old that was beaten to death by his mom’s boyfriend makes me feel like it was my very own child and that is NOT an emotional journey I want to take. Being empathic is not a bad thing, but it can lead an individual to bear unnecessary pain. Combine my empathic tendencies with a very low tolerance for drama, and watching the news becomes literally the least tolerable activity for me.

Image result for rainbows and butterfliesSo I choose NO NEWS. It doesn’t mean I think that the world is always full of rainbows, unicorns and butterflies, but it certainly helps me see the rainbows and not just the bad apples at the bottom of the barrel. Sit next to me on a plane and will you get a politically charged and globally educated conversation? Absolutely not! But, you WILL get a cheery individual happy to chat about where we’re going, where we’ve been, philosophy, life’s greatest conundrums, raising children, health and wellness, and a whole slew of other interesting topics.

Nothing wrong with that…

Affirm me, dammit!

Why is it, do you suppose, that at the beginning of a romantic relationship we shower the object of our affections with meaningful words, compliments and affirmations… and as the relationship progresses and we settle into life together, that our words and celebrations of each other wane?

And I suppose your could ask the same thing about the physical side of a relationship as well… you know, sex! Why are we all hot and heavy when a relationship sprouts and blooms, only to wither as we grow into grand old elms?

Doesn’t this all seem so backwards? Shouldn’t these things get better over time? Shouldn’t we be showering our most beloved relationships with praise and blessings more and more as the years pass, as we accomplish bigger and better things together in life?

What is it about romantic relationships that end up sucking the life out of us instead of being our grandest accomplishments?

Is it just that as time passes, and we get older and experience more of the world, that our egos become more fragile? Does the harshness of the world cause us to put up walls, even in our most sacred of spaces? Do our sacrifices of self just weigh too heavy upon us, suffocating us, instead of allowing our gratitude for what we received in return reign supreme?

When I look back upon my own romantic relationship with my husband of 10 years, we’ve no doubt had our peaks and valleys, just like everyone else’s relationships. We spent the first many years together before we got married breathing and speaking life into one another, building each other up and placing one another up on pedestals. And then when life got serious, like it sometimes must, we stopped existing in that romantic part of our relationship where we look into each others eyes and say things like, “your eyes are so beautiful and inquisitive” or “you are such a bad ass and I love it!”

Yes, we still compliment each other here and there. But we don’t put so much focus on affirming to each other our love and passion. Generally speaking, I’ve always viewed the beginning of a relationship as the most insecure period, when you’re both wondering what it all means, and are they feeling as strongly as I am? But, for my husband and I, we never wondered those things. Well, maybe for a minute when one of us moved back home and “needed some time to think”, leaving the other one in a lurch…

But, we were never insecure with each other and the way we felt. So when that point came when life got serious, you know… we bought a house, had 3 kids, made multiple financial and career decisions, I think we got hung up there. By a show of hands, how many people got caught up at this point in their lives?

That’s what I thought…

So here we are, at the point in which we need to hear those words from each other. We never needed it before because those words were coming at us in a constant stream… totally wasting the water. Wait… was it a waste? Was that what built our foundation together? Hmmm…

But, now that we need it, guess who is finding it really hard to speak those words again… But why is that? Do our opinions of our spouse change over time? Do we love each other less or in a different way? Do we love each other in a much deeper way from the journey through peaks and valleys, and take for granted the fact that we are there for one another until death do us part?

Do we believe that emotional maturity and a matured relationship provide ourselves with enough affirmation to get by? Do we think that our spouses get enough from work, friends, kids? No matter which way we spin it, the only person that can really speak the words that count are the ones we truly love. So why is it so damn hard to throw a few words their way?

What’s it going to hurt?

It’s not going to make anyone feel bad…

So why is it so hard? Why do we get hung up on what the other person is doing wrong? How do we get back to all the things we are doing right with and for one another? (Hint: try pointing the finger back at yourself for starters.)

Someone once told me this is the hardest life will ever be (relatively speaking)… young kids, young marriage, young careers, struggling finances, interrupted dreams…  We spent the early years of adulthood feeling like we were on top of the world. I got a college degree! I got my first real job! She loves me!!

And then we settle into our lives as adults and the world starts creeping in on us, taking away pieces of our foundation, brick by brick. As our foundation starts to wobble, we question so many things about our lives and our decisions. Should I look for a better paying job? Does he still want me? Am I being a good role model?

All those questions and doubts and insecurities can really grab a hold of us and further shatter our existence. As the saying goes, we can rise from the ashes… In these periods of shame, doubt and insecurity, we can rise up. We can rise to the occasion and start rebuilding, brick by brick, word by word.

I’m sorry. You’re right. My God I’m glad to be married to you! What would I do without you?

Life’s most rewarding growth opportunities are found in the dark parts of our world, where the wounds are deep and the ashes lie.

 

And the journey down your path of life continues…

Something is tugging at your insides. It’s leaving you feeling unsettled. It just keeps nagging at you. That little voice inside your head is telling you, “it’s time for a change”. You could call it gut instinct. You may believe that feeling, or even that little voice to be God’s messages, guiding your journey.

trust-your-gutIf you know what I’m talking about, then you’ve likely experienced this before, and I think you are pretty lucky! Why is that? Because you are getting guidance for your life! There is nothing fun about wandering through life without direction or any idea of what’s in store.

There are times in our lives when we may have an immediate answer or understanding about our gut instincts and what they mean. We may come to an obvious fork in the proverbial road of our lives and are faced with making a decision. The choice may come in the form of this gut feeling or God’s voice inside you. When the feeling is recognizable, it can bring us confidence in our decisions.

But, at other times, this nagging feeling is just sitting inside us, with no obvious fork in the road. If you ignore it, it will surely resurface until you make a change. So, what do you do? How do you identify it? How can you answer it and ultimately satisfy it? You can start by taking a few steps and doing a few exercises…

  1. Allow yourself to dream again. As many of us progress through life, we find that it dare-to-dreambecomes ordinary, cyclical and routine. We, ourselves may become complacent in our relationships, work/careers, and in our personal growth (which is crucial to find true success in our lives). During these ordinary or complacent phases, we may find that we’ve stopped dreaming.  Dreaming about the big things to come – vacations, a new home or home improvements, debt-free living, and maybe even our life’s purpose. Firing up those sparks again may give you direction for that nagging feeling you have.
    Have a purposeful conversation with your spouse or a close friend about what dreams you may have temporarily stashed away. Actually close your eyes and will yourself to conjure up images of fun, excitement, success of all forms, and take note of those images.
  2. Create a vision board. From those metal images you created while dreaming, create or find real images to represent your dreams. From the smallest little one to the most grandiose, put them all onto paper – big, poster sized paper – and display it in your home where you are reminded daily of your dreams. As the visions are cast the nagging feeling will take shape and direction.
  3. Examine your life for happiness and discontents. Break it down into categories to really help you explore. Examples could include:
    • Relationships:
      • romantic
      • family
      • friends
      • co-workers
      • God
    • Finances:
      • savings
      • retirement
      • debt
      • flexibility
      • cash flow
    • Work/Career:
      • 5-year track
      • 10-year track
      • fulfillment
      • benefit
      • purpose
    • Personal:
      • hobbies
      • fun
      • volunteerism
      • growth
      • education
    • Material:
      • home
      • clothes
      • toys

Highlight areas that bother you or you are struggling with. Pay attention to trends that may pop up, where you can cast your focus. In a different color, highlight areas that create fulfillment and happiness for you. Then identify ways to increase those positive areas. Changing the areas of discontent is likely to naturally result in increasing your happy too!

SONY DSC

The most important thing, as you go through these exercises and exploration… Open Your Eyes. When you have feelings of anxiety, discontent, internal nagging that something needs to change, it may be the universe telling you to open your eyes so you don’t miss the fork in the road or your next opportunity. Being complacent and just going through the motions may not give you the ability to see what is right under your nose, sitting next to your on a plane, or written on the pages of a book. Life is a series of messages trying to find us. Open your eyes, mind and heart to allow these messages to penetrate us and create change that will bring you forward in your life’s journey.

change.jpgSpeaking of your journey… When going through changes in your life it is important to look forward to the future, where the road is freshly paved. Not through the rear view mirror where you’ve hit bumps in the road. It is true that it is the bumps that shape our lives and our character. The bumps are our lessons. But the bumps don’t define our potential. That is what lies ahead. There is a reason the windshield is larger than the review mirror…. it is more important! Send your gratitude up above for where you’ve been and then set your sights on what is ahead so you don’t miss the signs for the next turn or stop.

Lastly, don’t fear what lies ahead. It is in the unknown where we may find our greatness. Keep your eyes open and on the road ahead, embracing life’s changes, knowing that there are surely more bumps to come. Embrace those too, so the lessons aren’t missed. Be a student of your own life, and get excited about making changes! They are only painful if you make them that way. Change is fun and good and necessary and what gets us closer and closer to the greatness we were meant for on this earth!

How to have a successful summer

After living in Florida for almost 8 years, I grew accustomed to only living with one and a half seasons – summer and “sorta spring”. So when we moved back to New England, it took some getting used to having 4 solid seasons again. When the summer finally arrives for its short, 2 1/2 month visit, it is pretty common for north-easterners to go into serious overdrive. July is fun and relaxing, albeit busy busy. Then all of a sudden August arrives and everyone freaks out saying things like “summer is practically over!!” and then starts packing in the beach, mini vacations, play dates, day trips and more! Or you are just so damn tired that you waste away in the air conditioning… then have serious guilt set in!

Oh No FaceDown in Florida there was always “another day” and “next weekend” to make up for things like sleeping in on the weekend or lounging around being lazy when you fully intended to get out for a long bike ride or a beach day with the kids. In New England if you say one of those phrases even once, there’s immediate shame and guilt associated with it because it’s well known that summer doesn’t stick around forever…

fashionable-woman-relaxing-poolside-summer-vacation-back-view-fashion-luxury-resort-spa-young-lady-wearing-sun-hat-69339140So this year, when the nice weather started approaching, and school was drawing to a close, I made a decision to have the “best summer eva!” (those who know me know that I mysteriously don’t have a Massachusetts accent, despite being born and raised here and in NH). I knew that I would have the ability to work my business wherever I needed to whether it be poolside or away for a weekend, and having a beautiful pool in our backyard was a key factor in my best summer ever vision. I would be able to have a well-balanced, fun, adventurous, restful, peaceful summer… yeah right! For the last two weeks all I have been thinking about is how “it’s almost August” and “I can’t believe the kids will be going back to school soon” and “I don’t ever want this hot weather to go away”.

Then I said to myself, “self… chill out! Pump the breaks. Enjoy the moment like you have told yourself to do the entire last year…”. And then my other self, the one who likes to plan and write and evaluate, came up with this list:

TIPS TO HAVING A QUALITY SUMMER THAT DOESN’T FLY BY IN AN INSTANT:

  1. Don’t over-schedule yourself OR your kids. Multiple camps for your kids will leave them overstimulated and exhausted, then bored when they aren’t at camp being entertained. Plus you have to be their chauffeur, and that’s NOT relaxing. And multiple vacations or weekend after weekend on the run will leave the whole family feeling drained and it’s a sure way to feel like the summer flew by. There’s nothing like the anticipation and excitement of an approaching vacation only to have it over in an instant and feel instantly disappointed.
  2. Beach DaySchedule time to do NOTHING. When you have busy schedules with kids and/or work, sometimes it’s necessary to put a block of time in to do nothing. And if you can’t handle not having anything planned in this “down time” then schedule a relaxing day reading in the shade on a hot day, or by the pool or beach to force yourself to slow down.
  3. Don’t schedule your weekdays more than a week in advance. With weekends mostly reserved for traveling and making plans with friends and family, it’s quite possible that you’ll end up only having weekdays left. If you start booking up your weekdays in advance too, you’ll get frustrated that you can’t fit everything in. Leave the weekdays up in the air so you can unwind, clean the house, go to bed early and generally catch up with your life.
  4. Pick at least 2 weekends where you aren’t allowed to make any plans in advance. Then when the weekend arrives, be open to whatever comes up, even if that is nothing!
  5. Take random weekdays off from work to just hang out at home with the family or relax quietly by the pool. There’s something really exciting about being home from the office when it’s not a Saturday or Sunday.
  6. Get up early and go to bed late, then take a nap at the beach 🙂
  7. With all this talk of pool and beach… if you spend a lot of time at either or both, plan a day each week where you don’t hit up the water. Take some down time and give your body a rest from the action. Not to mention your hair and skin from the sun, sand and sunscreen. (By the way if you need help repairing or protecting your hair or skin… I’ve got you covered 😉 Just message me if you need help finding ways to save!)
  8. Let Friday evenings come along without a game plan and just go with the flow… snack for dinner while you enjoy the fresh air and cocktails on the back deck!
  9. If you can’t afford the time or money to do a big vacation, try planning little overnighters or day trips here and there to hike a mountain, go visit a new lake, or just hang out with family and friends.
  10. Lay off the booze during the week… the warmth of the summer leaves many people drinking extra beers, fruity cocktails and whatever else comes across their lips! By August you’ll feel like you need to be checked into rehab if you’re drinking extra on the weekend AND consuming regularly throughout the week… trust me…

download (1)All-in-all I am terrible at taking my own advice. I freaked out when August arrived. I over scheduled myself. I drank too much in the past 4-6 weeks. So, guess what? I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train and it’s August 4th… Time for this mama to go sit pool side and nap!!!

What’s the significance?

At some point you just start wondering the purpose of certain phrases, or you just start contemplating why things are the way they are. Oh, you don’t? That’s just me? Well them humor me… I was recently contemplating the significance my husband has in my life due to an extended work trip of his, out of country. As I thought about my life without him for 5 weeks, I realized there is (of course) a pretty good reason we refer to our spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, mates and better halves as our significant other.

Five weeks without my husband, especially since we have three children, is a significant amount of time, with significant impact on our lives. My significant other left significant holes in our little world.

And now that word sounds weird for saying it so many times, doesn’t it?

I came out of this little exercise in patience and fortitude with gratitude for him, myself and many others. But first, I have to say that I have never been able to fathom being married to a man in the service who may be required to be overseas defending our country for many months at a time, often times in grave peril. I still cannot fathom it now, despite my husband’s somewhat dangerous trip – crashing his fancy car, getting lost on safari trails, being just mere feet from some of the largest and deadliest animals in the world and sitting atop the world’s largest waterfall! Still none of that compares to the terror that a military significant other must go through with their loved one abroad in this international climate.

Second to being fearful of your significant other being hurt or killed while serving overseas, I would also fear the “getting used to it” part. There was a point about two and a half weeks in to Casey’s trip where we evened out and felt like we were really getting by nicely. Things were running smoothly in the house. The middle of the bed didn’t feel so lonely and the kids were occupied on the weekends with plenty of friends and activities. It’s not that we didn’t miss him, we certainly would have opted for having him home as opposed to still away. But we were used to him being gone.

Imagine doing that for 9 months straight (or more!) while your significant other is on tour in the Middle East. By the time he or she comes home it might actually feel out of place to have them home. That is a HUGE deal to go through. Mentally you want to be glad to have them home, and you are, but you’re so busy bouncing around the kitchen trying to figure out how to dance with them again during ordinary life that you both just feel completely out of place. It truly takes strong human beings to go through these emotional imbalances regularly through the course of a relationship. 0930love2

But back to my exercise in patience and fortitude… there are a few things I’d like to point out that came to mind as the worst part of being a single parent of three, albeit temporarily…

  • Being responsible for all the dishes, all day long, sucks
  • The fitted sheet is just too fitted for my apparent ability
  • No matter who, what, when or where – I gotta get up when duty calls in the middle of the night… oh except for that time I was so tired and maybe a little saturated from a lovely red, that I slept through the baby “screaming bloody murder” and my brother-in-law had to get him and TRY to wake me up
  • At the end of the day no one shows up
  • At the end of the day there is no one to talk to about all the boring stuff from the day

I discovered patience I did not know existed, and I allowed myself to veer from striving from perfection. Ironically enough, it made me better than before… imagine that. I made it a point to give my kids extra attention since they weren’t getting any from Daddy while he was gone and it benefited me just as much as them. And it made me wonder… why I can’t be like that when he’s here? (That’s another blog topic I fear)

My significant other is pretty damn significant in my life. And while I may have found a way to be perfectly functional and even, dare I say, efficient at living my life and running our household alone… I wouldn’t choose it. The significance of that is well, significant!