Everyone has one...a comfort zone. And it is so nice there! You know everyone...everyone likes you...you know where everything is...and you get to be in charge. And I'd never leave mine if I wasn't forced. And if I never left it...never put on my big girl shoes and headed out into the world...my life wouldn't be quite the way it is...and I would certainly not be who I am today. But it is scary out there...beyond your comfort zone.
Today I am remembering a huge leap outside my little comfort zone...15 years ago today, I was forced (by love) to get on a train outside Boston, and travel to NYC to meet my husband, who was arriving on the USCGC Dallas after being gone for 6 weeks. Just thinking about it makes my insides quiver! It was way outside of my zone...waaaaay outside, and I had to go it alone. Just buying the ticket was almost too much for me...but when the day came, I dressed my best, put on those big girl shoes, and headed out the door. Once I was on the train I had time to relax and plan my next move...and get nervous about the next step. I was even nervous about seeing Eric...he had been gone 6 weeks...had been out to see the world...and I was still, just me. Grand Central Station...WOW! A million confident people all hurrying off in all directions. And little me, trying to look like I knew what I was doing...making my way to the closest door. Thank goodness that there was a taxi stand- I certainly wasn't ready to hail one myself- but I did get into the taxi, relay my destination and pray that I would arrive there. Almost there. I can do it. I waited for the ferry to Governor's Island, knowing that on the other side, I would meet up with the Ombudsman, who I had spoken with on the phone, and who would get me the rest of the way. Almost there. You can do it...So there I was at last...standing on the pier in a crowd of wives, moms and kids...waiting for the ship to dock. I had come so far, and there I was still standing there, all alone, feeling like my big girl shoes were way to big. And then he was there...in front of me...and all my fear melted away and I was back in my comfort zone- Eric's arms. Eventually, I learned how to hail my own cab...find my way through NYC...drive out of NYC to find a mall...but those first steps outside my comfort zone were terrifying...and wonderful, as I learned that I really am capable of more than I think I am. So when I am forced out of my comfort zone...or feeling brave and leaping out there on my own for no particular reason, I try to remember these experiences. My wings are strong...stronger than I think...it doesn't hurt to grow and learn...it can be scary, but no matter where we go, we are never alone...God is by our side.
April 28, 2008
The true test of character is how you act when no one is watching...the choices you make when you are all alone. We can teach values and integrity...but how well you learn a lesson is up to you. When my kids leave the house without me, I refrain from saying, "be good," but instead say, "make good choices." I know they know right from wrong...and they know what I expect...and I feel confident that I have given them the tools they need to make the "good choices." The rest has to be up to them. The other day, a teacher pulled me aside to tell me about something my son had done...when he thought no one was looking. She told me that it had been a windy afternoon, and that her big thermometer had blown off of her windowsill, and was laying on the sidewalk. Then along came Cam. She watched from her window ...saw him stop and look at it...and then pick it up, set it back on the sill, and make sure it would stay. Then he moved on. He never even saw her at the window. This teacher was pretty impressed...she wrote a letter that was read on the school news. It was good for Cam to hear it from someone else...someone who is not, day after day, checking the choices he makes. It was good for him to know...that sometimes when you think no one is looking, you are wrong. How often do we walk on by...leave something undone? How long would it take for us to make a difference? A minute? A moment? It's worth a little consideration...
April 27, 2008
Sometimes it seems that Laura and I don't share a lot in common...at times I wish that we were closer...and I wonder if she knows just how much I love her. We are not great communicators...I think it is something that I have passed down without even realizing it...something I wish I could change in myself. I tell her that I love her...every day...morning and night...and sometimes in between! But if actions are louder than words...do I show her enough? She is so content to be on her own...to make her own fun...so, a lot of the time, I just let her. And as I say that...maybe we are more alike than I really imagined. Sometimes I just need to be alone. I have a special spot here in our home, where I love to sit, and reflect. It is where I sit and talk to God...where I sit and read...where I sit and dream. It is a cozy spot...that looks out into our front yard...where, from the inside, the garden looks lush and green. In this spot, I am surrounded by family photos...by the people I love, and who love me. And when the morning sun streams in through the window, I feel that God is reaching in. But this spot is not my own...my daughter loves this cozy spot as much as I do. She sits there in the late afternoon... reading... drawing... reflecting. The bright sun has passed, and now she sits in the soft glow of evening that is quickly approaching. The squeaky chair doesn't bother her...she is somewhere far away, and the quiet creaking is just a background noise in her day dream. So this chair...that we both love...maybe she picks up my thoughts where I left them...then adds her own for me to collect in the morning. She is my precious girl...
April 26, 2008
I remember the first week Camden had this song to practice...it was hard. He sat down to practice, and was soon frustrated. When I sat down beside him...to see if I could help...I became frustrated. The counting was hard...the hand position was new...and then you were expected to change hand positions. It was hard to keep going, but he did. And at the end of the first week, it started to fall into place.
When Ms. Julie asked Camden to be in the piano recital, he was so excited! And he got to choose any song he had already played...and he chose...The Robin. And so Camden practiced the Robin for another week...I was certainly skeptical...but he wanted to play The Robin. He worked and worked...and before long, he really knew it-even without the music. I sat back and just listened...he had done it! I had given up, but he persevered.
Today at the recital, he was confident...not even a trace of nervousness. Our family sat in good view of the beautiful grand piano...Gran & Grandad, Gramma & Grampa, and Great Gramma D, too. With a smile on his face, Cam made his way to the piano bench and his fingers danced along the keys...perfection.
April 25, 2008
I remember, when I was little, that I used to love magic tricks. Maybe it wasn't the tricks, but the actual magic I thought it involved. I would watch and be amazed...truly believing in the mystery of magic. And I would get upset if someone would try to figure out how a trick was done...or worse, try to tell me the trick to the trick. Why couldn't they just believe in the magic like I did? I guess I am pretty well grown...and now I know...that magic tricks are just that...tricks. So where is the magic? Is there really any magic at all? I suppose it is all in how you think about magic. I no longer believe that magic is about tricks...I look at it in a different light...maybe it's about how you feel...or how you feel about what you see...or how you feel about the possibilities of what could be. I believe that Disney World is magical...being in a world of imagination and happiness...the feeling that comes over me as I walk down Main Street and see Cinderella's Castle. I believe that sunset at the beach is magical...that golden light that plays off of the sea and the sand...that light that makes everything beautiful. I believe that love is magical...when your heart blooms and fills...and you wish the world would just stand still. I believe that life is magical...the sense of wonder you create within your family...and the overwhelming emotions that leave you standing at the brink...of tomorrow.
April 24, 2008
My daughter's eyes are unique...they are beautiful...and they tell a story- her story. Her eyes are our miracle...one that I thank God for every day. The dreams we have for our children are bigger than the dreams that we create for ourselves- and yet, in the same instant, simple. And when it seems that our dreams for them may be out of reach, we begin to focus on what may never be. I thought she might never be able to see the beauty of a rainbow, with each color melting into the next...the iridescence of a bubble floating softly on a breeze...her own beautiful reflection. But I was shown that it doesn't pay to look at the "might nevers," for under each one is a "may be," and it is not in our power to decide the outcome. She sees. She sees the beauty all around us...each stroke God has painted on this beautiful canvas we call our world. She sees the beauty in the written word...and spends hours with the characters she meets in her books. She sees beauty in music...and bravely sings her praises to the Lord. She sees beauty in people...that their circumstances are not who they are...that it's their heart that matters. She sees beauty. She sees. And I thank God every day.
April 23, 2008
My Mom says that I put her on an undeserved pedestal...but really...there is no other woman I know who has survived life with such grace. No one lives their life without some kind of struggle...within themselves, or with others- but in the end, it is how you overcome the struggle, and your outlook on life that makes you who you really are. And my Mom continues to look at life with gratitude and joy. And she has such fun and so many adventures in the process. She was the first person to love me...besides my Heavenly Father...and her love has been my example. A mother is a daughter's first teacher. She taught me how to tie my shoes...how to find my shoes...and how to put your arms around someone and really hug them. She has taught me that when things go wrong, you find a way to pick yourself up and continue on...until the next blessing comes along. I know that sometimes she regrets how well she has taught me...when I put my own emotions aside and let her lean on me. But it just feels right. And she challenges me! We talk about God...and Jesus. Our conversations make me stretch...and grow. And it is just another bond we share. My Mom cheers me on in all that I try...her praise is something I cherish...I don't need it- but I do hold it close. And just as she feels I give her too much credit, I feel she gives me too much. I am not Mother of the Year...I make so many mistakes...say things I wish I hadn't...I think it is just part of the job. And so I pick myself up, as I have been taught, ask for forgiveness and strength...and keep on going. My Mom...who she is inspires me...to do more...to live more. My Mom is not perfect...she is beautiful, she is happy, she is loving, she is mine.
April 22, 2008
It's been a long time coming...but he didn't give up. Sometimes it got so bad that I wouldn't show him the results...because how many times can you give your all, and more, and then receive nothing. Some weeks brought me to tears...how can one child work so hard, and fall so short of the mark? So we'd just put more effort in the next week...and hope for better than a 20..or 30. Wonderful teachers reassured me that spelling isn't the end of the world. And I know, but the disappointment on a young boys face can sometimes feel like the end of the world. And my concern was that there was something we were missing...something that we weren't doing to help him. Because he has had the very best teachers...in the classroom, and as tutors & friends...teachers who have really cared...teachers who know that sometimes a hug is as important as the lesson they are teaching. So we've fought on and finally, we are now on the right track...and Cam's getting more of what he needs. And so the result is this beautiful spelling test...on words that the rest of his class is also studying at the same time. Maybe Cam doesn't have quite as many...but they are the same words. It is a fantastic accomplishment. And one he has enjoyed "showing off" to the people who have helped and encouraged him along the way. His 3rd grade teacher got goosebumps when he showed her! We all want success for our children...it doesn't have to be the biggest or the best, just enough to be comfortable. There is so much more in life than being the smartest or the fastest...like being nice or doing a little more than is expected. That is the success I want for my children. For them to know that what they give is far more important than what they receive. And that hard work really does pay off...
April 21, 2008
I think Pooh said it best, as he was walking along with Piglet..."Friendship is a very comforting thing to have." I don't think we really realize the importance of our friendships are until we are in need...and our needs are taken into another's arms and we are comforted. Or until we are needed to become the comforter. So how can we be comforted? Let me count the ways...A reply to a last minute e-mail invitation letting me know that it was indeed a great day to meet & visit...The actual visit- 1 1/2 hours of talking, laughing, sipping Starbucks, connecting- beginning and ending with a hug. A phone call on my way home telling me my blog was read & enjoyed...And the follow-up e-mail that touched my heart with how much it was really enjoyed and why. A comment that reassured me that May is only days away. An invitation- Wanna watch Cops with me?...And sitting on my couch, my hubby's arm around me, watching his show, knowing that this was exactly where I needed to be. Comfort comes to us is so many ways...with a word, a touch, a prayer...even an action. I know that sometimes, for me, I am comforted in knowing that I have been a comfort to someone else...it is, more often than not, how I get by when life gets rough. I forget to take care of myself- but today...I took the time for friendship- give and take...and once again, I thank God for the wonderful friends in my life.
April 20, 2008
Some anniversaries are not meant for celebration...not meant for joy. Tomorrow is one year...since Lisa died...since her family has had to find their way in this new life...since my friend has been gone. Well, not gone...just not here. I still hear her laughter in my heart...see her beautiful eyes in my mind...see her perseverance through her children. When I play with Abby's hair, or make her laugh, I can see Lisa- her determination to be happy. When I give Jacob a high five, I see Lisa- her determination to be strong. And life goes on. We just keep turning those calendar pages, one after the other. How I wish I could use my glue stick...and glue March to May. Just skip April...and it's showers. Because April is not just Lisa...it's also Connor...and Jimmy. I never knew Jimmy, my friend Debbie's dear son...I only knew him through her stories, her memories, her pain, her strength. He was a remarkable young man- who could make you smile through your tears...who loved life and wasn't afraid to go. I do believe that this world is less without him...but that heaven is so much more. And Connor...bundle of electric energy...bundle of life...how I enjoyed that weekend when he & Cam became buddies. I didn't know him long enough. I knew sweet stories about him, from our Texas family, and finally got to meet the whole Texas family in October 1999. Eric's cousin Pam & I had an instant connection...Eric & Steve had great conversation...Laura & Kelsey- inseparable...and Camden & Connor, almost 3 and 2 1/2, respectively, just ran and ran around the atrium balcony of the hotel. Cam, short & stocky...Connor, long legged and quick. They would run and run around that balcony- and Connor would lap Cam- and then they'd just giggle and play. Buddies. Gone...before they really had a chance. Through grief, we all have become closer...but all imagine that time would have had the same outcome for our friendship. So...these April showers...of tears...what can I say? Where are the May flowers? Maybe in the lives that go on...lives that have been touched with sadness...but go on, in the joy of having known someone truly precious.
I love to camp...outside...in a tent. There's just something about it...the fresh air, the trees...the laughter of my children. It's good to know that we can all have fun without the tivo (me) and the video games (them.) But it's more than fun...there are good lessons to learn out there. Cleanliness...the dirt...it'll come clean with soap...when you get home. There's really no need to repeatedly tell your son to go wash his face...it's just going to get dirty again, and when skin is damp, it collects more dirt. Patience...the marshmallows...after all of these years, I have come to the realization that they are really better when they are toasted brown slowly and melty inside, rather than charred on the outside and cold on the inside. I still like them charred, but I do like the melty inside. Security...raccoons...it doesn't matter how tightly you close up the food...they'll get it anyway...and they'd rather have donuts than fruit...hmmm. Solitude...being alone...it doesn't have to feel lonely if you're happy with your book & your doodling. Beauty...it's all around you...in the swaying of the tree top branches...the blaze of the campfire...the sweet sound of my husband's song...an eagle in the branches, watching her own babies. My own babies are growing so quickly...they'll be leaving the nest in the blink of an eye. But behind them, they will leave beautiful pieces of themselves in the memories of our play time together...
April 18, 2008
I found a new way to start my morning...just a little experiment with my coffee that went right! I'm a milk & sugar girl when it comes to my coffee...but since Christmas I have been substituting my splenda with sugar-free syrup. And yesterday I added a little something extra...Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate syrup! YUM! So...in my morning mug I have my coffee...my fat free milk...my chocolate syrup...and my sugar-free hazelnut syrup. Tastes just like liquid Nutella (which I ate by the spoonful last week at 220 calories per tablespoon.) And when I'm finished sipping this delectable creation I am left with...
my blessings...on the inside of my mug. Dawn+Eric...Laura...Camden...and my daily inspiration...Philippians 4:13. Look it up!
April 17, 2008
I have been on a weight loss journey...seems like it has been since after my first child, but more recently, since October. It took me 2 1/2 months to lose 18 pounds. I was thrilled...proud...happy. And then it took me 3 1/2 months to lose the two pounds I needed to reach my first goal...20 pounds. But I did it. I earned my fourth gold star today...one for each five pound loss. I still have plenty more to go...but this goal has been lingering over my head for longer than I expected, and I'm glad to be moving on. I had just stopped working...it wasn't the program...not a plateau...just me. We've been watching the Biggest Loser...and I am so inspired by their stories...and still, I sit. On the last season of the Biggest Loser, they handed out shirts with each participant's personal goal printed on the front. One goal really struck a chord with me..."for once I will finish what I started." It didn't strike softly...it nearly bowled me over. I seem to finish very few things that I begin. Doesn't really matter what it is...I start gung ho...slowly become overwhelmed...and then I am just simply standing still. It is a huge fault of mine...and one I am trying to overcome. Like I said before, this has been a long journey- and I've come close to reaching my goal, but have fallen short. I have this little Japanese doll on my shelf...you set a goal, paint one eyeball in, then when you reach your goal, you can paint in the other eyeball. He's been winking at me for a very long time! I am going to paint that other eyeball in. I really am. Not tonight...not next month, or even the next- but I will. So as I admire my four shiny gold stars, I need to remind myself that this journey is not a race...it's a promise. To me. And I don't break promises.
I can chat on the phone with a friend for hours...but really, I don't like to call people. I will take on any volunteer task, but if it requires phone calls, I ask my friend Jenn to help me with the project- and give her the phone call part of the job. I think I just don't want to interrupt someone if they are busy. What if they are eating dinner...helping with homework...taking a nap...just spending family time together? It doesn't really make sense...if they were busy, they could just call me back. But this...thing...this fear I have of interrupting someones precious time keeps me from picking up the phone. And it has kept me from a friend...forever. I can't seem to throw away this sticky note I have slid into the front pocket of this little bag I carry. It's a bag of junk...but junk that I might seriously need! Headache remedies, band aids, lipstick, coins, ear plugs for Cam if where we are is too loud, dental floss, a coupon for a pony ride...and this sticky note. So, what's on the sticky note? A phone number. And my friend's name...Lisa. The number is not the number for her house, but for her room in the hospital. It's been in there for almost a year. I wanted to call, I meant to call, but the person who gave me the number didn't know if she was coming home that day, or the next. So, if I called, I might interrupt her while she was trying to get out of there...or, she'd already be home and I'd be interrupting a stranger, someone who really might be sleeping. So, I thought I'd just wait a day or two. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to call her, tell her I was praying for her. The day after I received her phone number, she died...something just went wrong with her recovery. I don't always notice the sticky note...not everyday...but when I do? It reminds me that every moment we have is a gift...and friends? Friends will forgive me if I call and interrupt their dinner...or their nap. I keep the sticky note because I am trying to learn a lesson Lisa already knew...don't worry about what others think...just go where your heart leads you. And go today, because tomorrow may be too late.
April 16, 2008
Cracker Barrel isn't my favorite place to eat, but I do love the shop...and whenever I do stop in, I make sure to buy a dollar's worth of the 10 cent candy sticks. My favorite? Clove. It's not really sweet...not really spicy...it's just right. And it's a flavor that reminds me of my Grandma's house. She always had a small dish of candy out...peppermints, the aqua & white kind...life savers, any kind, for my Grandpa... and clove. I know the clove is her favorite. I don't think I liked it back then, but now? It's one of my favorites, because it is hers. My memories of times with Grandma D are tucked close to my heart- "dough boys" on Sunday mornings, lunch at Friendly's with a Friendly Frank and a Friendly Cola, her driving ridiculously fast down a very dangerous hill so we could have that flittery feeling in our tummies, a fancy dinner out where I first had the "intermezzo course" of sorbet. When I go to visit her at my Mom's house, I try to remember to bring her a clove stick, or two- and she gives her giggle of excitement, and then we hug. She says I'm the best hugger...Funny, I think she's pretty good, too.
I think it would have been a lot easier to share my toys when I was growing up had I only known that at some point in my life, I wouldn't be required to share. Sometimes I'm tempted to let my kids in on the secret...but they are really good sharers, and I don't want to press my luck. Plus, there are really good lessons that come from sharing, and I don't want them to miss out. Here I am...36 years old...and I'm still learning. I have learned, through this new blogging endeavor, that sharing has quite a few rewards. Because of what others have shared with me, I have been inspired and freed to want to share, myself. By what I have then shared, I have been let in on someone else's secret thoughts and dreams. And, of course, the love you share seems to come back to you ten-fold. Some things are easy to share...like your jacket, half of your lunch...we do it without a second thought or regret. And yet other things...it's too hard...and we don't have to share if we don't want to...but like I said before, I'm still learning. So while I might not be ready to share the ice cream hidden in the freezer in the garage...or my shortbread cookie from Panera...I will continue to share here. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts...my dreams...my mind's wanderings.
April 15, 2008
My kids have the coolest life...they can't possibly realize how fortunate they really are, and so my hope is that they remember at least half of the wonderful opportunities and experiences they have been given. This weekend it was a chance to try scuba at Rookery Bay...which they loved! (It was another one of those saying yes opportunities for me- Laura had asked to go over spring break, and I put her off for a week so we could go to the free event!) The three of them came out of the pool excited and energized...ready to dive off of the Great Barrier Reef. Sorry, sometimes it's good to say no!
I do hope they tuck this adventure away for another day though...along with the memories of so many other adventures. Like climbing the stairs of St Augustine light house...dancing the Can-can on stage with a Can-can girl...laying a personal treasure at the Flight 93 site...sewing with Gramma...looking out at the world from the top of the arch in St Louis...riding on the Indy race track...fishing with Grampa... All of these things that I have not yet had the chance to do. Laura & Cam have experienced so much...so many places...and have gained so much knowledge! And I love that these opportunities have not spoiled them, but instead, have taught them to look for the adventure in each new day...
April 14, 2008
My BusyBee of a friend keeps me laughing...always! When we have the chance to chat it's just one laugh after another...It's not necessarily what she says, but how she says it...and how she means it! I have spent a small part of this afternoon laughing with her...with her thoughts and words buzzing around...and it has made my day! She is the kind of friend who, should you ever end up in jail, would be sitting right next to you, laughing about how much fun we had! We seem to find our share or trouble...chaperoning a Girl Scout trip, we were the ones in trouble for giggling after lights out...sneaking out for a movie while the kids were at school, we were the ones disrupting the movie theatre. And to this day, I can't drive on any MLK Blvd without remembering the time we got lost on the way to the Imaginarium and had to call Onstar...As much as we joke around, I know that she is someone who would be on my doorstep the moment I needed her...she took me to get my stitches removed after I had my appendix out...she let me cry on her shoulder when I lost a friend...What would this world be with friends?
Sometimes I feel like so many requests my kids bring to me, I have to deny them...because of time, timing, or just unpracticality...and, because of that, I love when I can just say yes! We seem to have a regular Sunday ritual...church, groceries, lunch & laundry...trying to make ourselves ready for the upcoming week of school & work. There are, of course, weeks that none of that really happens...and, of course, the result is harried mornings which usually involves a little yelling. I was cleaning the kitchen when Cam came around the corner with a puzzle and hopeful eyes, and my first instinct was to reply with, "Maybe later." But I did stop myself, think about which was more important (kitchen counters or that sweet son) and said, "Yes!" And I am so thankful for that time we spent together! Sitting together, spreading the pieces out on our kitchen table, chatting about silly things...fitting together pieces, and realizing they didn't really fit together at all. Laura even came and helped a while...and I sat back and watched them work together. This was definitely more important than those kitchen counters! I love watching their hands...and their fingers. That little flittering, tapping dance their fingers do as a piece fits in just right touched my heart...made me thankful for saying yes.
April 13, 2008
And isn't that all we really want sometimes? Just for someone you love to come up behind you, put their arms around you and whisper in your ear that you are beautiful? Especially at that moment when you feel the least beautiful you have ever felt...Eric knows just how to make me smile...melt...he just knows me. And I am thankful everyday for this man who loves me. God couldn't have found a better match to complete my life... We often think the same, and shake our heads and smile when the other just said exactly what we were, at that moment, thinking. Somehow I know when it's going to be him on the other end of the ringing phone (although my friends might think that's easy because he calls so often!)...Eric keeps me laughing with stories from work, tug-o-wars with our bed sheets, his general silliness. He makes me proud with his service and commitment to our world- from the Coast Guard to Scouts and everything in between, and with his dedication to our family and our family time together. He reminds me how much I love him when he indulges me...washing the dishes, doing the laundry, watches (or goes!) to bull riding events with me, drives over to school to bring me lunch...I do believe I am the luckiest woman in the world!
April 12, 2008
My forever friend has inspired me with her words, with the creativity that she doesn't quite believe exists, with her freedom and with her heart. I love her blog...the quiet window into her heart...the photographs filled with tenderness and joy...the words that flow as she, herself, is inspired. Reading her blog, her everyday happenings, makes me feel like I am right across the street. And waiting for the next post is the anticipation of watching out the window for your friend to come home so you can go out to play. We've been friends for years...eleven...since our youngests were babies...and we aren't as close as we once were...distance between our houses, both now working, kids older and on the go... I am so thankful though, for the times we steal away for breakfast and endless conversation. We can pick up just where we left off...erase the time since the last time...and it's just like it always was. I am so blessed to have this friend who has inspired me with her life, her outlook on life, her patience with her girls...her blog!
April 11, 2008
Grace is, quite simply, a gift. A gift of a life that I do not deserve, but have been blessed with anyway, just because I am a child of God. That God would simply and completely erase my wrong doings, my mistakes (oh, how plentiful), and my slip ups from His memory, because I am His child is almost beyond belief. But I do believe. I need to. I need His strength, His love, His light...His forgiveness. I need God's grace to sustain me. And it does. We have been promised life...not a great life, not a happy-every-minute life, not even an adventuresome life...just life. And the rest of it? The laughter, the relationships, the smiles, the fun, the JOY....well, that is simply...beyond grace.