What NOT to do…

We are used to seeing signs and messages about what NOT to do… No parking, no smoking, no loitering. We don’t think twice about their meaning. For the most part, they are straight forward and make sense. But what about people? Do you have people in your life who are showing you what NOT to do? Sometimes, I feel like we ignore those people as being signs or teachers. We dismiss them as being annoying or mean or frustrating, but maybe they have a message for us.

If everyone crosses our path for a reason, the difficult people are there for a reason too. For example, the person who is really prejudiced…did they teach you to be more accepting of others? The person who is ungrateful and rude…did they teach you to use softer words and say “thank you” more? I feel like if someone is in my path to teach me something, they won’t leave until I learn it… or someone new and similar will show up. Sometimes it’s a reflection on how I talk to myself (mean things in my head about my weight or writing or parenting). Until I fix or heal those things, I will keep getting opportunities to learn more.

There are plenty of people who are good examples too. The people who you admire, look up to or strive to be like – they also have something to teach us. If we see something positive in others, we should look for it in ourselves too. So, if you are also a teacher for others, what are you going to choose to be?… the positive example or the example of what NOT to do? Each day on Earth, we have a choice. On your journey of enough, I hope you will be a positive example to others and learn from those who can’t seem to find a silver lining.

“Can we fix it?”

When our oldest son was growing up, he loved Bob the Builder. It was (maybe still is) a cartoon about a construction guy named Bob, who had talking vehicles that helped him fix things. Their slogan was, “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” And there was a song that followed. My husband stayed at home with the boys when they were little, so he heard this song… a LOT. One day, he got tired of it, and switched it to the Spanish version. Since we don’t know much Spanish, he thought it would quickly get shut off because it would be too confusing. He was wrong. Instead, it seemed like a fun new adventure to hear things in a whole new way.

I’m finding myself wanting to “fix” things that aren’t mine to fix. My life path is taking a bit of a detour/side road, and the control freak side of me is wanting to call in Bob the Builder. If I could just “fix” it and make it all better, then life could go on as planned… or would it? Would it turn into a version that I couldn’t understand, trying to figure out how to switch the remote back?We usually have “rear-view mirror” epiphanies… it’s sometimes easy to see what our lesson was after the fact. In the middle of it, it’s messy and confusing & feels like we are watching an episode that we don’t know how to follow along with.

Sometimes we try to “fix things” with external stuff in hopes it will fill us up. (Mine was Caribou coffee, sunshine, peanut butter & chocolate, as shown in the picture) Sometimes we use music or meditation to distract us a bit. When we try to use alcohol or drugs to escape and not deal with it at all, it does not make it go away. Whatever we are supposed to learn is still there.

I’m trying to learn how to be mindful and set intentions in my day. Some days it’s great and keeps me moving forward. Some days, like yesterday, I can almost see it going down the drain. It’s an old school merry-go-round with nobody to stop it. Too many things just out of my control…. but I have to stop. And breathe. And realize there is a lesson in this somewhere. It might take me years to see it… but it’s there. Something is happening to help me grow & teach me what I need to know to move forward. My mentor frequently says, “Things are happening FOR you, not TO you. Look for the blessings.” I’m learning a lot this week. Perhaps you are too. Some things aren’t mine to fix, and that is OK.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough… Peace to fill you as you sit in the sunshine, peace to fill you as you look for the light. Peace… (and some chocolate or coffee) Take a deep breath and smile, even if you don’t mean it yet. I hope soon you will.

Friday the 13th…

It’s Friday the 13th. This is my black cat. Did you worry about this day? Were you anticipating the bad things that would happen? If you were planning on the day being bad or full of mishaps you were probably right. If you hadn’t noticed what day it was, or weren’t worried about what would happen, you were also probably right.

I’m learning about the power of thoughts… the background noise in our heads (Some is louder than others). What does your background noise sound like? Is it positive or negative. Whatever it is, it will shape your day. Do you plan on something going wrong? Then it’s likely it will. Do you look for the silver lining? Then it’s likely you will find it. “Thoughts become things.” I’m not sure who said it originally, but my boss said it recently & it really stuck. The saying, along with several classes I’m taking and groups I am a part of – has me shifting my thoughts. My black cat isn’t bad luck. The 13th day of the month doesn’t make it worse, regardless of the day it falls on in the week. Each day we have a choice to make… will it be a good day or a bad day? Some things are out of our control, but our reactions are within our control. If lots of things seem to be going wrong, search for the good. Find one thing, even a small thing & be thankful for that. The next day, try to find two positive things.

I wish you luck on your journey of enough, but mostly I wish you peace and happiness. I wish for you to experience joy and gratitude. Once you do, I hope you will share the good with others… share a smile, a word of encouragement, a compliment. You may be their “one thing” that they are thankful for today.

Embracing 3 years…

Some people will ignore this as “just another cancer anniversary post, but it’s more than that. 3 years ago today, I rang the bell as a cancer survivor. I still carry the card with me from the cancer center:

Ring this bell Three times well Its toll to clearly say, My treatment’s done This course is run And I am on my way.”

I brought my family with me that day. I almost didn’t. I was tired from the radiation & hadn’t thought about “bothering them” to come and be with me. Bothering. How often do we not let others help us or let them in because we don’t want to bother them? Way too often. 3 years ago, I almost stood there by myself because I didn’t want to be a bother. I already had way too much attention on me. I already felt bad about so much time being spent on me. So many times throughout my cancer treatments, I didn’t want to be a bother. I didn’t want to ask for help with meals or call someone just to talk about “normal life” or let someone clean my house.

We do this regardless if we have cancer or not. We don’t think that we are worth someone’s time. We are wrong. My mom would have loved it if I bothered her more to help me or to just listen. My friend would have felt useful if I would have bothered her more to bring a meal or just visit over coffee. We need to realize that we are not a bother or a waste of time. We are worthy. The worth needs to come from within. You need to believe it first. Once you do, you can let people in. Sure, that can be scary… there is usually a fear of rejection. But what if they say “yes” and they would love to help/listen/visit/clean? They will feel great for being there for you & you will feel great because some burden has been lifted from your shoulders.

In honor of my 3 year anniversary, I invite you to write down all of the ways you think you are a bother. Write them on a piece of paper. Then shred the paper or (safely) burn it. Do NOT hold onto it. Get rid of that – let it go. Then fill yourself up with something good, something you enjoy. I wish you peace on your journey. You are not alone, you are not a bother, and you ARE enough!

Learn from the bad, remember the good…

99 what??

99 bottles of beer on the wall?

99 problems?

Nope. My grandma would have been 99 on Easter. She was an April Fool’s baby. Her birthday was always easy for me to remember. This picture was taken 5 years ago. (It’s a little blurry but you get the idea) My son was 6 at the time. He could make her smile like nobody else could. He would visit with her and wasn’t scared of older people like some kids are. She passed away at 95. I can’t even imagine all of the change she saw in her lifetime. She lived through the depression. She raised 10 kids. She didn’t lead an easy life, but it was full. One thing I will always remember is how much my grandparents loved each other. They would hold hands, giggle/laugh and have fun. They loved to dance when they were able, before arthritis made it difficult for grandma to walk. They played cards together and with friends. It wasn’t that they never fought, but they must have forgiven… found a way to come together despite their differences. It’s the kind of relationship I’ve wanted to emulate. Maybe it’s part of the reason I married my husband- I’d always be sure to laugh.

I don’t know all of the details of their bad times. I don’t know about the depression of the 30’s and 40’s, shortages of food or money, or what it’s like to lose a child. I feel like both of my grandparents would say, “Learn from the bad times, but remember the good times.” They weren’t negative people. They didn’t dwell on the crummy stuff in the past. They learned from those experiences, but I feel like they remembered the good instead of the struggles.

Same goes for the memories of them. I feel like they would want the good times to come to mind first… the big family gatherings, the laughter, the food shared, the games and the fun. Sometimes I find myself dwelling in the past. I feel guilty for yelling at my 3 yr old (12 years ago!), or regret words said or things I did in high school (even longer ago!!) I need to honor those things as a part of what shaped my story, but it’s not my current story. Forgive yourself, learn from it and move forward.

We recently went on a “spring break” trip to learn about making maple syrup and then to Nashville, Memphis & Bowling Green. Will my kids remember every detail from the trip? No. I hope they have a general memory that it was a fun trip, including the Grand Ole Opry, the Bass Pyramid & the Corvette Museum. They (hopefully) won’t remember the argument about Algebra before hand or any of the other small things along the way. Hopefully, they will learn from the Algebra struggles but remember the trip.

We are all too hard on ourselves. We carry around the baggage of the past, unwilling to set it down and hand it over because we’ve gotten comfortable with it. It’s ok to set it down. It’s ok to write a new chapter to your story. This is your journey- make the most of it. When you lay down the baggage of the past, you make more room for great new experiences.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May you always learn from the bad, but remember the good!!