Category Archives: hope

Don’t stumble over what’s behind you

Don't stumble over something behind you with link.jpgYou know that cliché, “It hit me like a rock”?

That happened to me last year. And among all the amazing, wonderful, beautiful moments and people that surrounded me, I had a hard time getting over the sudden, startling change in my life.

I kept looking back, reliving the moment, the words that were said and unsaid. Overanalyzing, asking the same questions in my mind over and over and over and over again and expecting an answer that was never going to come. It shook my confidence, broke my trust, and left me staggering.

Stumbling over the past kept me from finding sure footing in the present. Sometimes it still does. Yesterday it was a phone call that that brought it all back. Dammit, I thought I was past this.

Don’t we all do this sometimes?

Sometime it’s a grating tiny pebble in your shoe that keeps you off balance until you remove it. Sometimes it’s a chunk of broken concrete that trips us, sending us crashing to the ground. It hurts, but we get up and limp for a bit before regaining our full stride.

And sometimes it’s a boulder barreling full speed that smashes into us, flattening us, leaving us battered and broken.

I have always thought of myself as an optimist, and I still do. I am grateful for those who let me lean on them, whose laughter and love and belief in me kept me upright. I embrace the opportunities this abrupt change presents. And yet, pieces of that blasted boulder still break off and hit me in the back, causing me to look over my shoulder and trip over the past.

We all carry an unavoidable load of loss and pain that can weigh us down, slowing our steps. Looking back is good. Remembering, and grieving, can be healing and cathartic. Stumbling over what’s behind me is not productive.

The road ahead leads me to beautiful new places, full of possibility — and inevitably, a few cracks in the pavement along the way that have the potential to cause another spill.

There will always be missteps, times we wish we could go back and start over or change what happened.

And when we can’t, we must face forward and skip over the stones that appear in our path.

 

Advertisements

New Year’s Realizations

My New Year’s resolutions are always the same: get in shape, be smarter financially, be more organized. Drink less wine and eat more kale, yada yada yada.

I still want to do all those things, but I’m taking a different approach to 2016. Last year brought a lot of big changes in my life, and I’ve had some time to think about what really makes me happy, what fuels me. Some of it has surprised me, and it’s exciting for me to discover that I am still learning and growing.

As I was thinking about the New Year and the many facets that can lead to happiness, the “4 Cs” kept popping into my head. My summer job during college was working at a jewelry store, where I learned a little about the 4Cs of diamonds: cut, color, clarity, and carat.

So here are my 4C realizations (not resolutions) for 2016:

I need to create. Whether it’s a few words on this blog, working on the novel I really will finish writing,  a professional project that fulfills my creative side or a cool experiment with my son, using my imagination inspires me. I will devote more time to it this year. (But don’t expect anything too crafty.)

I need to contribute. Whether volunteering at school, collecting pennies for uncompensated children’s hospital care, sending toys to Syrian refugees or buying groceries for someone who has less than me, these small gifts mean more to me than the recipient and teach my son compassion. Giving back rewards me, and being part of something bigger than myself grounds me. I will find new ways for my family to give this year.

I need to crack up. I love laughing out loud. My friends are hilarious. My family makes me giggle. I need more of those laughing to tears, side-aching, sore cheek moments in between the rushing, the working, the worrying.

I need to connect. I value my longtime friendships with my most trusted friends, and I’m grateful for growing connections with fellow moms. I need to make time for coffee dates and happy hours and family gatherings and date nights with my husby. Having people in your life you can truly count on, who you can fully support, makes all the difference.

I know that when I’m pursuing these core beliefs, other good stuff follows. I’m even craving spinach right now instead of chocolate. At least that’s what my creative self is trying to tell me.

What are your New Year’s Realizations?

Moments of kindness that moved me

You know those moments- like  when someone cuts you off in traffic or a stranger makes a condescending comment -that instantly change your mood?

My husband saw a woman throw a conniption at the pizza place over the amount of cheese on her extra cheese pizza. The other day, a woman berated my sweet barista because she couldn’t charge just 1 cent on her loyalty card so the customer could earn a star toward a free drink.

Now, when you’re nice to your barista, you get surprises like this:

cup

In a world so often uncertain, filled with hatred and violence and sadness, small interactions have a profound effect on our moods. We never know what a stranger is dealing with, and no one knows what you might be going through. How lovely to encounter and share kindness.

Here are a few small moments this year that turned my day around, made me smile, and restored my faith in humanity.

The soccer-playing cabbie

taxi

I was rushing to the airport to reach one of my best friends whose mother had just died. I was scrambling to cover all the responsibilities and activities in my absence. One friend was picking my son up for soccer practice while I was waiting for a cab to the airport. The cab driver arrived first and had to wait for a few minutes. Instead of starting the meter, he got out of the cab and played soccer in the street with my son. Instantly eased my stress and made our goodbye much easier. I wish I had gotten his name.

The forgiving parking attendant

lost ticket

When I picked my dad up from the airport, I paid for the parking and walked a short distance to the car. I have a system for keeping track of those parking tickets, but this day, the system broke down. Somehow between paying my $3 at the self-pay machine and reaching the car, the ticket had disappeared. I dug through every nook and cranny in my purse, retraced my steps, and resigned myself that the parking was going to cost an arm and a leg. The cashier took pity on me and let me leave without paying. Bless her.

The conscientious key-finder

truck.JPG

After my brother got home from a Thanksgiving trip, he couldn’t find his keys. Searched everywhere and called people in two states trying to track them down until a friend saw a post on Facebook. Turns out someone found the keys near the truck where it had been parked. Not only didn’t he steal the truck, he made efforts to find the owner. Good for him.

The nurse with the big heart

Just be kind

I was at the doctor recently, and the kindest nurse checked me in. She was wearing hot pink scrubs and a bright smile. As she prepared to check my blood pressure (after asking in a gentle voice if was ok for her to do so) she put a stethoscope shaped like a heart on my arm. I commented on her warm demeanor and told her I could tell she was a caring person.

“There’s so much going on in the world, people are on edge,” she said. “It’s important to spread kindness.”

Amen.

 

Appreciating the beauty of individuality

The  T-shirts were identical.

A sea of kids wore the shirts, which declared them members of the DREAM team at their school’s fun run. They made their way around a track lined with orange cones as they sang along to Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. In these 30 minute blocks with their classes, they were all in it together, running to raise money for playground equipment and field trips and musical instruments.

But those shirts were all they had in common.

There were the superstars who ran lap after lap with ease and got lots of high-fives. Some struggled to keep up (the chubby kid in me related to them) and received lots of encouragement. A few stumbled, and their classmates reached out to help them up. Two kids from a special needs class tightly held hands the whole time, guiding each other through rowdy mob. One boy happily  jogged along in heavy winter boots.

Sadly but surely, some of them will have an easier time in life than others. I wondered how many of them have people in their lives with the resources to make pledges so they could win highly coveted prizes like a screaming flying chicken and how many of their families don’t have a credit card, checking account, or address. How many excel in school and how many of them can’t read?

All these kids, from diverse background and experiences, are learning who they are, what they are good at, where they fit in, how to stand apart.

They whizzed by me, stopping briefly as I marked each lap on the backs of their shirts,  and I delighted in their exuberance and individuality. I gained even greater appreciation for the teachers who work with these distinct personalities all day. (And I realized some of these boys need deodorant at a much younger age.) I wished for each of them, no matter their circumstances, the same opportunities and a bright future.

The other parents and I predictably cooed, “They are sooo cute!” But oh, these extraordinary human beings are so much more.

They are athletic and awkward
Witty and wise
Shy and shameless
Friendly and ferocious
Caring and crazy
Lovely and lonely
Outgoing and optimistic
Tender and tortured
Clumsy and cool
Polite and precocious
Determined and dramatic
Gregarious and gentle
Fearless and fragile
Wounded and wry
Respectful and ridiculous
Silly and sweet
Charming and courageous
Intelligent and indignant
Angry and adorable.

Each of them beautiful. All of them worthy.

Dream on, kids. The world awaits your unique gifts.

Hope blooms

It’s a rainy, dreary day in Seattle, with Halloween and darker days just around the corner. I’ve heard a lot of sad news this week, and I’m preparing to help one of my best friends say goodbye to her mom, just as  she did for me.

And I found this today:

2015-10-26 15.24.42

Despite the blustery wind and pounding rain, this gorgeous flower continues to thrive.

My husband gets me fuchsias, my favorite, every year on Mother’s Day. I love the bright ribbons of color that wrap underneath the petals of another shade, and the small, ordinary-looking buds that explode into cascading hues.

They seem so delicate, but these have been hanging for more than five months, surviving summer’s extreme heat and fall’s chilly nights. Still there are buds hidden among the wet, yellowing leaves, just waiting to pop.

It made me think that we are not as fragile as we feel sometimes. We can hold on through the storms, clinging to the branches that hold us up, and find we are stronger than  we thought.

Hope blooms.