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reSLience… a.k.a. resilience

it's what lies within that really matters

Monthly Archives: January 2009

Regardless of your thoughts and opinions with organized religion – there are good messages out there to be had and having been raised in a Presbyterian church with parents and grandparents that watched the Hour of Power, I find myself gravitated to those sources of support.  I like to think I’m progressive and not bound by traditional organized beliefs that there is only one “right” way to live but I do have to say…  there are some tenants that are always true.  Prayer, thankfulness, and forgiveness.

I’ve blogged before about my commute meditations and things of that sort.  I think if you have been reading my blog now for any length of time you know that I am a thinker – even an overthinker.   I am not afraid to admit I am wrong – no matter how stubborn you may think I am.  And, at the end of the day, sometimes I need a good “come to Jesus” realization that I need forgiveness and acceptance and to just let it all go.  

But there is another strategy in my spiritual toolkit I have been tapping into in the past couple of years.  I met an incredible man, a television pastor, from a distance, over the airwaves, while on bedrest and pregnant with the twins.  I found Joel Osteen.  I realize now his face is everywhere with the publication of his bestsellers and his nationwide tours – but at the time he was virtually unknown to me anyway.  We didn’t meet in person – let me make sure my subtleties are not lost.  But he became a leader to me that I knew I needed to listen to and learn from.

He introduced me to some additional concepts that over time have become invaluable to my spiritual toolkit:

  • Blessings – I have written before about this.  Never leave your children or those you love without saying blessings on them.  Let your last words be loving and reassuring.  We do not know what lies ahead and we always want God to bless those we love.  I do this every morning to each of my family members.  Noah even yells it through the house as we leave to his big brother who stays behind for the next bus time.  Habits… some can be good.
  • Spoken Words Have Power – It is one thing to think something.  It is another to speak something out loud.  Once you utter words out loud – in sound or in print – you have given them power.  It is a step beyond just thinking them.  Thinking them is an entry point but speaking them puts them out into the universe.  I jest about cancel cancel but that boyfriend’s mom of mine was right on target with that idea.  Don’t let words out you don’t want out.  It is extremely hard to truly cancel cancel.
  • Step Up To The Banquet Table – Everyone has an equal shot at abuandance.  Everyone.  No one is excluded.  No one is unworthy.  If life isn’t giving you all that you need right now, step up and find your seat.  I just love this idea.  When I find my thinking to be small… when I think about not being worthy… when I feel insecure… I remind myself to step up.  Why not? What have you got to lose?  Honestly what makes you different than other people other than the decimal places in their bank account?  We all have belly buttons. We are all human.  We all need the same basic elements to survive.  Step up.  There is a place for EVERYONE.  I used this on my dad a couple years ago.  I thought for sure he’d disown me.  He was struggling to give up an old truck he’d had for years and it was tied to many things that he had loved and dreams that had not died but been waylayed for a while.  He listened… he stepped up.  And, he still loves me 🙂 whew!
  • Expect the Supernatural!  All things are possible!  This is TRUE.  If you choose to not believe this I challenge you to try something – a simple test.  Pray a simple prayer.  Ask for some silly help.  If you are late, ask to supernaturally be there on time.  If you think there will be no parking spots, ask to supernaturally find a spot.  If you are out of money, ask to supernaturally find a way to pay your bills.  Now don’t get me wrong – this element goes hand in hand with all the rest.  You have to be thankful and forgiving and prayerful and really believe.  But if you have all those other things happening- honestly nothing is impossible.  God, our higher power, El Shaddai, our Father… He wants us to know He is there and He wants us to tap into His powers.  Why not ask?  What have you got to lose?

So… by now… if you aren’t religious you probably think I’ve lost it.  If you aren’t Christian you probably think I’ve joined the ranks of the far right.  Think what you want.  I most certainly can’t control that.  But… I challenge you to really consider the bullets above.  No better infomercial could offer these ideas to you at such an incredible rate. 

We are surrounded by despair these days.  Financially the world seems to be crumbling.  Politically the wars wage in countries with the oppressed and the power hungry.  Even within our own, the divisiveness seems to continue to thrive despite all the powerful messages of Change we have been asked to embrace.  

Life is hard.  Life is messy.  And, mine seems to have extra servings of clutter.  Six people in one house make for a lot of clutter.  But – I do know… that yesterday… in cleaning up all that clutter…. in the quiet of the house I had to myself between bus stop runs with the kids and meetings in the community… I thought through all those bullets and I uttered a lot of words out loud.  I gave life to a lot of things and I prayed for abundance and supernatural.  I had someone ask me later if I had done a few drugs to find some of that pep.  I was faced with some really difficult news later in the day but I was able to take it in stride and provide some support for those I love who weren’t taking the news as well.  I was able to honestly complete some serious work tasks in 2 days rather than 5 because of my sick days this past week.  Supernatural baby. Why not tap in?

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Cancel Cancel just didn't seem to cut it 😦

Simon and I are snuggling under the blankets and hunkered down on the couch. Ok… honestly? He ditched me for nickjr.com and a few rounds of random games and I’m under the covers watching Today and giving some much-overdue attention to my blog. I even PAID appropriately for the use of this cartoon.

My boss was very sweet. She wrote in ALL CAPS back to me yesterday to tell me in no certain terms – DO NOT COME TO WORK if you have a fever again tomorrow. This week was action packed too – with recording scripts for flash animation curricular activity objects, council meetings for statewide activities… and 3 or 4 reports due by Friday 1/30. I just remembered a conference too – a presentation on Saturday… so maybe I really only have to count 2 days as sick days? Either way… my life doesn’t have TIME for the flu or the ick or whatever it is. I suppose though… if being sick is like anything else I do in my life -it is done in over-the-top achieve achieve style and I take 3 days+ not just 1.

Ok… so what’s the problem? Really? My husband always says I feel enough guilt to have born both Jewish and Catholic. I wouldn’t have accumulated 7+ weeks of paid sick leave and 6+ weeks of paid vacation had I had a better balance and grasp of pace. For some reason… most of the time… I insist on sprinting through life… gasping and running out of energy… resting briefly and then sprinting again. (Obviously metaphorically because if I was this kind of sprinter I wouldn’t need to be so envious of my SL ass shape – LOL sorry – should have warned you a crude comment very un-kimala like was coming).

So here I sit. My fingers seem to have no trouble finding the keys so hopefully my head will stay focused… the smorgusboard of drugs will kick in (all legal of course) and my little 5 year old friend will settle in for a quiet day. a QUIET day. of TV… of soup for lunch… of juice to drink…

Wish me luck. Cheers to achieve achieve… even when styled sick.

Enneagram
free enneagram test

and NO I swear I didn’t copy her answers. But… It sure fits my early early morning post for today below 🙂

I woke up this morning at 4:30 am my time thinking about something I forgot to do yesterday. I had promised to submit a short paragraph to my colleague, on behalf of my boss, for a report. My eyes opened. Reality hit me. And once my brain kicked into conscious gear I knew I needed to get up and just take care of it. Apologize for it being forgotten and just send it in.

So… here I sit. Selfishly, I snuggle up to my laptop and find a spot for my fingers to fly in the brain dump that is this blog post.

I decided a long time ago (2-3 years maybe) that to say you are busy is a very ambiguous term. What is busy to one person is not so busy to another. That doesn’t make anyone less busy it just makes it more one of those concepts that is quantified in the eye of the beholder. One day listening to my mom describe her day and appointments and stress over busy-ness she laughed and said something about “I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, you are probably laughing at me over saying how busy I am.” At the time, I agreed with her and yet I was struck profoundly by the fact that honestly, if you feel you are busy, whether you have 10 things on your to do list, or just 1, then you are busy.

Now, excuses on the other hand? Well those can just be downright irritating when it comes to busy. I had the one item I forgot yesterday at work which I will amend today, and then I had another last night with us wanting Nina to start up again at the Bistro. She will be performing every other Friday and I picked the wrong Friday to catalog it in my brain. Nina is incredibly cool and flexible and was very kind at my forgetfulness. She’ll start next Friday.

Busy-ness when it comes to collaboration and partnerships to accomplish something big is entirely different. I can be as understanding as the next guy when it comes to needing to deal with sick relatives. But, to start laying busy-ness and lack of follow through on kid associated busy-ness starts to irritate. Again, this is a vent so forgive me. I try very hard (and do fail as I am human) to never use my kids or my husband as an excuse. I decided this very early on when I married a colleague I taught with. I decided that it was unprofessional. I decided that because we worked together, we had to be professional as a couple, and operate autonomously and yet symbiotically within the same educational environment. We were super successful at it. We went after national grants and built a very successful program together. We built that on juggling the right balls in the air at the right time, and avoiding the pitfalls that come with complaining about a spouse or blaming one thing or another on busy-ness.

So… tell me you’re busy? Tell me you can’t do such and such because of this and that? I completely will do my best to understand. Blow off a big project and then try to pull excuses that hit squarely too close to home, and I will be stretched beyond my comfort zone to be understanding.

4 kids… 2 of which sleep in my bed almost every night… a 30-45 minute commute each day, one way depending on time of day and traffic… countless loads of laundry, dishes, and adventures in clutter management and vacuuming… 2 different school schedules… 2 different bus stop runs… school meetings for kids… bill paying… dog ownership… and grocery shopping… BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

2 full time careers (mine and my husband’s)… 2 volunteer councils that are part of work but take up after work…. a presentation and travel schedule for work that varies from week to week… doctors appointments… 2 kids with severe asthma that need breathing treatments… 1 kid with ADHD and learning disabilities… 2 sets of grandparents (one aging much quicker than the other) that live within 150 miles of us…

AND that’s all in my First Life! ok… I apologize if I have launched you into a panic attack. That was far from my intent! I love every minute of the above. I love the challenge. I love the diversity of all the new things that are incorporated into them. While I really wish I could have a personal assistant, a maid, chef and trainer – I love each of my 4 babies beyond all imagination and am so thankful for the partnership I have with my husband even if his sense of humor is sick and wrong at times 🙂

I strongly believe that in this life we are only given what we can handle. And, that by meeting what we have been given to deal with through grace and laughter and all those other good things, we are simply given more. I am the first to tell you that abundance is a state of mind and I have that overflowing. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t wish secretly for a suitcase of cash filled with very large bills to make things easier. And, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I indulge in my Second Life adventures because the creativity sparks something in me that I was missing in the above list of to do’s.

I wish… honestly… that when confronted with busy-ness and the art of excuses that need to be said from time to time… that in my gracious need to attempt to understand, that someone would in return acknowledge mine. I struggle with the ability to affirm myself and remind myself I am doing a good job. I crave validation from the outside. Its simply how I am wired (just ask my mom). Next time you happen to run into someone who seems to have all hair standing on end and a glazed crazed look in his or her eye and they say they are busy, take the time to just validate who they are. Thank them for whatever it is they are doing for you, with you, alongside you. Remind them to breathe. Remind them that tomorrow the sun will come up and the day will start all over again whether that to do list get’s accomplished or not. Just “be” with them for that moment.

Sometimes, the fine art of a graceful juggle is in remembering to pause… just ever so slightly before you throw that next ball into the air. And sometimes… the juggle… includes tossing the ball to a passerby, to hold, until you are ready for them to return it in your direction.

No matter what you believe… I find it VERY hard to not think that somewhere, somehow there is an angel or a whole host of angels watching out for us. Kissing my children goodbye in the morning I say “Blessings on you” along with the kiss on the tops of their heads or the squeeze of their leg as they get out of the car. Life is harder some days than others and we need to speak good words, blessings if you will, over each other to help us make the road a little smoother.

I was reminded late last week how short life is when I heard two separate stories of parents losing their children. Both were tragic losses – one of a 9 year old – and one of a 37 year old. Both unexpected. Both leaving families with holes in their hearts that will never go away. “The new normal” will form their lives from now on without that family member.

I won’t pretend to know what that is like. I have lost loved ones, but never a child. I would think the pain would be almost unbearable for a long long time.

I heard today in a meeting that now more than ever people have an extremely high level of skepticism and mistrust. I thought about the people who have confided in me about these deaths of their sweet babies (yes even at 37 I imagine you are or were still someone’s baby).

I was thinking how ironic that trust statement was because we put trust in things and people we never even think twice in, day in and out: school bus drivers, teachers, doctors, nurses. We just give them a nod or trust blindly without ever seeing them that they will do the right thing by us and those we love.

Do I put that same kind of faith and trust in myself? Is it simply put upon the shoulders of angels to help me make it through? Life is so short. Moments pass so quickly. Some times we are trapped in situations that seem unimaginable. Some times we feel as if we are all alone at the bottom of a big hole with nothing to help us out but a little bit of light at the top. I think today, as I grapple with all these pieces, I think about that deep hole. I think about those little ones I love so much. And, I think about the need to just put the faith and trust in something bigger than me.

It would be nice to have my dad tell me everything will be ok. I know if I asked him, he would tell me that, in a heartbeat. It would be nice to have him give me a hug and sing me a song and me to just soak up his love and support… knowing everything will be ok.

Goodnight, My Angel - Billy Joel

Goodnight, My Angel - Billy Joel

So… my little girl… aka Baby P. Silly nickname. I blame her father. But somehow it has stuck… 5 years and counting. Our house is FULL of testosterone. Grunting. Yelling. Beating chests. Gnashing of teeth. And then there is the sweet baby girl. Baby P.

She is the one who pats her brothers lovingly on the head when they are tired or sad and tells them it will be ok. She just now answered the door to ask her oldest brother if he forgot his key. Sweet little voice ending in the upswing tone. Same sweet little face that met me at the door this afternoon to say… “Mom, we need to talk.”

Now.. please keep in mind… “Mom, we need to talk” means something ENTIRELY different at age 5 than at other ages 🙂 (Thank goodness!) So… we talked. She slowly opened her backpack and maintained a VERY serious look on her face. She occasionally made eye contact with me – carefully – making sure I think she’s using her most serious and yet most “please forgive me” look with her beautiful blues.

She pulled out her little folder and opened it. She let me pull out the calendar page where she colors each day for how well the day went at school. Greens are the goal – if it is green it is a good day. Yellows – not so good. Red – UH OH. Only her brother has gotten a red. Yes, Simon. But in his defense that was a long time ago. I digress though… sorry. So she lets me look. Today – sure enough – Yellow. Yellow with a handwritten note in the small calendar box “broke crayon.”

Now… keep in mind her sweet little face is still super serious. The Baby P is a big girl worrying about big consequences. She comes in to talk to Dave and I about it and tells us someone on her team today made her so mad today while she was coloring that she broke her crayon. She was very serious about it and worried we would be angry. With straight faces ourselves, we talked with her about how that probably isn’t the best way to handle being angry. And, the fact that those were Mrs. Sawyer’s crayons. How would she feel if someone had broken her crayon?

Situation resolved… she set off on to new activities for the afternoon. She headed outside to play with the dog in the backyard where she is now happily singing to herself. I wondered how long she worried about that yellow today. I thought about how things just eat at me some days with worry and how good the relief feels when you just talk about it with someone. I’m glad her worries are small. I’m glad crayons are replaceable. I’m thankful that we take these things just seriously enough for her to know we’ll always be here for her – no matter how serious the talks need to be.

This song I thought makes perfect sense to wrap it all together. No matter what age your children are – they always need their parents. And, no matter how old you are as a parent, you want to know your kids hear what you have to say and even if they don’t agree, take the time to consider your point of view. Sometimes life isn’t all black and white. But… it is somewhere in the middle of all those grays… or those yellow kind of days… where we meet and find ways to understand each other.

Daughters... by John Mayer

Daughters... by John Mayer

and because I can never get enough of John Mayer… here’s one more… but I think I better file this away for a decade or so… as far as our Baby P is concerned…

John Mayer - Say

John Mayer - Say

I’ve been thinking a lot as I drive this week. Newsflash? Maybe! Heehee… After having 2 1/2 weeks off from the commute, I was out of practice having time to myself. The music on my stereo seemed to be turned a little louder and I think I enjoyed the phone conversations a little more with my parents as I commuted without anyone saying “Mommy he is picking on me” while on the phone.

My good friend and colleague made certain to get me out the door each night this week by 5 pm and and even helped plan lunches with me so we could eat at the office and save money. We traded off bringing leftovers and frozen dinner goodies from home. It was nice. It was honestly less rush then the usual figure out where to go.

We had a few minor mishaps – a lunch left on the backseat of my car by a little one needing to be dropped off at school, a refusal to wear a heavy coat on a cold morning, and the ever popular “she was throwing water on him and he kicked her so I punched him” drama after school. But ultimately, all in all, wow… the first week of the new year in high gear and I’m sitting at my desk in one piece. Not bad, really.

Our oldest came home with a report card that said he made the Honor Roll. Our oldest, our son with a learning disability and ADHD, came home with an HONOR ROLL REPORT CARD! I am so proud if I had money I would rent a skywriter for him. Growing 3 inches plus and gaining 18 pounds plus in 6 months time AND pulling off Honor Roll grades… is there ANYTHING NOT POSSIBLE?

Our next oldest had an experience this week with a career day simulation called J-Biz… based on the old Junior Achievement model. He had a stunning role as a television newscaster and LOVED IT! He refused to practice in front of any of us – but he pulled his performance off with flying colors. Need I remind you this is the son with extreme anxiousness? Just thinking about it makes me want to kiss his sweet face and hug him tightly.

Our youngest two? Yes… they deserve a paragraph each as they are their own people. Sweet baby girl came home with an “I can read book” this week – you know, the kind with the cat in the hat on it – and wanted to read it with me. She also took the time to explain to me which direction East, West, North and South was from our kitchen at a random moment in passing. Sometimes I just look at her in wonderment as I wonder what is turning in those little wheels in her mind. Great things I know 🙂

Finally, my sweet Simon. This is the boy who loses his glasses almost 3 or more times a week but is bound and determined to wear them. The boy who screams out real fear if his older brothers spook him in a quiet house. But, ultimately, at the end of the day, this is the little boy that is not happier anywhere else than in your arms snuggled up tight. He puts the top of his head up to your face waiting for a kiss in his hair. He has found his passion in the last few weeks to be buried in a giant box of Lego pieces. His imagination makes spaceships and racecars. He is often asked to be quieter in his stirring of pieces in the big plastic bin as he searches for just the right component for his project. I’d like to think that is a sign of greater things to come as well.

We are all so blessed. No matter what small stresses pepper the landscape… no matter what giant storms or strong winds threaten us…. things will be ok. By Friday of the full week after time off it is hard to put on the work clothes and the poker face and get it all out the door to do it again one last day… but we all did. Its great to be on a team that can pull it off… even when tired and ready for the end… ready for covers over our heads and a few more hours of sleep and a little more time to savor coffee… We’re in the final few minutes of the quarter… thanks guys for making it a good week.

See… I told you 2009 was going to be good!