Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sometimes I feel like "patience", Sometimes, I don't!

Top of Form
You pray for patience
But God gives us opportunities to practice patience.

I was talking to a dear friend the other day about life, and how I am praying so hard for patience.  She delivered to me a phrase that has helped her see things differently; “We pray that God grants us patience, but God gives us opportunities to PRACTICE patience”

How different of an outlook and approach, and one that I have not been able to stop thinking about.   
We live in a world where patience is neither readily acceptable nor obtainable. It's a constant strive for quick fixes, get rich schemes, fast food drive thru, an instant gratification.
Take weight loss for example. When we want to lose the weight we think we need to, we instantly search for a miracle drug or fad diet to shed a few pounds. We don't stop to think of the implications, we just want results, and we want them now.
Same as our lives. We don't stop to see the opportunity to slow down and to think it through. Formulate a plan and reach for the stars. We don't want to give it the ‘ol college try, we instead demand like a two year old throwing a tantrum over wanting yet another toy they don't want or need (nor will they play with once the box it came in becomes available).
Our lives are not something we can avoid, so why do we want to rush through them as such?

Patience. Practicing patience. It's an art form we have so very much forgotten about that can help us through or darkest moments, and make the great ones even better by slowing down and letting life catch up. Living in the moment of the here and now.
I have come to think of it like spaghetti sauce. Sure we buy it in a jar, 4.99 and whoa’la - Bon appetite. But how different would our lives be if we MADE the time to CREATE from scratch this incredible meal for our family. To ask our children to help make the sauce. To develop into our own. To sit at the dinner table and take twenty minutes to hear of each other’s day. To pass the recipe down to our children, and children's children and pray that at their dinner tables they talk of stories from their childhood past ... Where their parents took the time, the patience, to listen while they stirred the red sauce and laughed, genuinely laughed, while they heard of their day. Their exciting news. Their goals and hopes and dreams. What they were working towards and fighting against. That after fifty hours a week away from our families, we practiced dedication and determination and patience in lives. Parents they are proud of. Individuals that we are proud of.

I have grown each day to become more aware of the opportunities given to me to practice patience.  Some days I fail. (Most days I fail!) I look for the miracle wet loss smoothie drink and I buy my spaghetti sauce in a jar.  I yell, I throw a tantrum, I feel like giving up.  I have zero patience it seems for lack of and search desperately for my instant gratification in varies forms.  I think, in a way, it keeps me sane.  But I also know that it shows me invaluable lessons of patience; beginning with myself.  My failures, my setbacks, are in themselves opportunities to practice patience. 

So when you feel like the struggles of your daily world are too much; deep breaths dear friends.  These are our moments to practice what we have long forgotten; with our children, our families, our friends – but mostly importantly, with ourselves. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring. The Promise of More Than Showers and Flowers.

Be not afraid, only believe. – Mark 5:36
I am like that little girl right now, believing in Christmas morning miracles. 

For the last almost two years we have had a road that wasn’t paved.  It was unsought territory – scary, confusing, and overwhelming at times.  We had some “good” stress (yes there is such a thing) – we bought our first home, combined our families, got engaged where I said yes a thousand times over.  With the love of my life, I know that he stands with me – in good days and bad – cheering me, protecting me, motivating me.  I focus energy giving him the same support.  

But we’ve also been positioned on battle grounds that nothing could prepare us for, and it takes all our energy to fight – war was brought to our front door, whether we wanted it or not – and we had no other choice but to stand and fight – protect and defend – fall down, and get back up, no matter how many wounds our spirits, minds, and bodies faced.  We have faced a custody battle for his daughter, job strain, parenting strain, financial strain, learning to live with one another strain.  Ups and downs and more downs than ups at times – we, regrettably, become so consumed, so accustomed to being on defense that we actually are defeated before we become conscious of the situation(s).  Defeated in ways that are far more deadly, affect us more severely; our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual selves. 

Perhaps the war zone is all too familiar in your world.  Life’s stressful moments that seem to weigh you down, even more than all those girl scouts cookies you can consume in one sitting (or is that just me?).  Life’s stress that seems to debilitate you, consume you, paralyze you at times.  Finances – Career – Parenting – Our Relationships – Our Faith.  

As springtime typically does, it brings with it a sense of freedom and rebirth.  Freedom from old habits, beliefs, ideas, and … unfinished business and goals.  Rebirth of fresh starts, new beginnings, new visions.  Sometimes what is necessary is drawing your line and making the stance, “I’m ready!” to move forward – on to a better life, a better self – with a peace of mind, a sense of clarity and spiritual gain.  

The truth is you decide what spring, or any season, brings to your doorstep in terms of the way you handle it.  You decide how deeply the war grounds and battle wounds known as LIFE can affect you.  You cannot control life but you can control your attitude.  Have a pity party if you need to, sure!  Kick and scream!  Punch a pillow (oh that always feels incredible!) – But remember – You can take a situation and allow it to break you – or, you can revise it and force it to revitalize you.  I learn more and more that as I believe – as I strengthen my surroundings – be it in my inner self, my inner circle of friends, my relationship with my partner, or with God – I strength myself and with that power, I am able to face the battle grounds known as Life.  
But I also know that with power comes responsibility and it’s my responsibility to take care of myself.  
As it is yours to take care of you. 

So as Spring has FINALLY arrived, so has my inner reminder that it’s time to shed the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual “clutter” and ask for a re-newness of mind as we venture into another season, filled with stress – of all kinds of variety .  But facing life, each and every moment, filled with the gift of promise.  Filled with the spirit of new beginnings, fresh starts.  With focus, and determination, to never waive a white flag in defeat, but to always triumph with perseverance, a sense of self, confident, peace, and GRACE.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Stage Four: Life and Stress Meet Head On.

Some people have a life that is stage four.

Life threatening.

That is where my life currently resides.

I’ve reached out, tapped my inner strength and prayed with all my might for things to come together in all aspects. I’ve gripped myself with the notion that if you are struggling for something too big, it’s not meant for you – it’s meant for God.
For the pain and stress of a dead end job, my worry, my anxiety to be taken from me, Lord hear my prayer.
For our bank account to have more than a red hue to the ending balance, Lord hear my prayer.
 For our homelife and the dark cloud of the unknown in our future as we await a court decision for our precious Bella, Lord hear my prayer. 
 For my worry of the unknown to vanish, my confusion, my fears, Lord hear my prayer. 

 I’ve tried to put the “what I cannot control” out of my mind, but, as we all tend to do – the unknown, the uncertainty can grip us. Grip us to the point we cannot catch our breath. We wake in a panic in the middle of the night, struggling to make some sense of the why. Worry takes over, and the thoughts bounce from one concept to the next. And so it’s with that bouncing that I find myself like a pin ball stuck in a game, pinging off one idea to the next. I’m fixated currently on my main struggle: finding a new career. A career that I am passionate about. A career that screams this is what I am meant to do. A career that is not exhausting, and gives more to my life than it takes from it.

But remember that pin ball machine I am stuck in? Well, when I think “what do I want to be when I grow up” suddenly its game on and the ball goes crazy. Public relations, open my own business, get the kid’s parties business off the ground – why hasn’t it happened yet? Maybe open a bistro and have live music. Is that hard to run a business? Write a book. Finish a book. Finish something! Maybe go back to school – doctor, lawyer, politician? Stay at home mom – pipe dream! –Plus it would eat me alive – go part time? Go crazy – wait, already there. Focus Chrissy, focus. Loop-de-loop, bonus round --- What. Can. I. Do. With. My. Life. Besides. This.

I am good at writing, well at least I think I am. I love designing, creating, project managing, public relations – client relations. An old soul with an artistic side. A girl that despite her faults holds compassion for achievement. I’m most happy with a job well done, praise, a pat on the back fuels me. But that’s what got me into this mess. Despite my gifs, I have weaknesses. I fall short, I give up. I get confused and sidetracked and my defense mechanism kicks in – I shut down. I pretend there is no conflict, both eternal and external, and somehow miraculously I will make it out unscathed.

But did I make it out with my soul intact?

Today I lay here on doctor’s orders for bed rest. It seems the stress of my current world can even take down the greatest of warrior moms. I’m not going to lie – I’m terrified. And not the medical aspect – a migraine and vertigo gone crazy I think I can handle, but it’s the I don’t want to portion of it, and then how it got to this point. But where did I go wrong? I was loyal and dedicated and hard working. But I didn't advance. In fact it seemed the more I did a great job the more I was ignored. I passed the seven and doors should have opened, but instead I was asked to lower my bar of achievement. There was no place for it. Being a single mom, being a parent period, you put your child's needs above yours. And that's what I did - we needed that paycheck, so I could scale back my ambitions. But time escaped me, and years later I am here wishing I didn’t feel like I handicapped myself. Now for months I have been searching for a new career. Hoping, praying that will be my ticket out of this stressful mess. A new career means new hope, new promise, new possibilities. Maybe it’s the starting point to a kick off of “life’s crazy is now behind us!”

I’m exhausted worrying. I want to put this chapter behind me to focus on our future. A future that is filled with so much love, that it makes me aware in the aspects of friends and family – I am one rich woman. In fact, I am typing this with a rock on my left hand that means the world to me. It’s a symbol given to me by the love of my life that no matter what, together we will face this stage four and fight it. The support, the overwhelming love from dear friends makes my heart melt. Knowing people like my Aunt AJ believe in me, even when I don’t believe in myself, makes me not want to give up until I have the highest score in pin ball and can walk away from the game.

With all that love and support behind you – how could you not just go for it? What’s one dream today, for you that you would reach for if you knew no matter what you had a safe loving place to land? If you have a dream – hold on to it tight, no matter how scatter brained it may seem. Because now is the time to go for it. Don’t wait like I did. Take a chance on yourself, and who knows where you will land –But I know that this is not it. The clock is ticking. It's my turn to make a difference in my life, and your turn to do the same in yours.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Life's Rear-view

Every day when I drop my son off at school I watch him enter the building through my rearview mirror.  I’m sure it’s annoying to those behind me as I idle along the alley way at two miles an hour, but for me it’s that reassurance that he has made it in the doors.  Without that time looking back I would find myself wondering what if – what if he didn’t make it inside.  What if he needed me?  Within a minute he slips inside the corridors of the school walls; and still that feeling of what if he needs me doesn’t pass.  It’s a comfort but that comfort is brief.   

I watch him, some mornings turning around, knowing I’m right there watching.  He smiles that smile that melts my heart.  Sometimes he blows me a kiss – incognito of course, he does have a reputation now at the age of eight that needs to keep intact.  But I find myself always wanting to park the car and run up to him for one last hug.  One more “I love you”.  One more moment before I must share him with the world.   For these days are growing dim of when I can keep that watchful eye over him.  Soon I’ll be looking at the bigger rearview.  One that involves looking back on the memories of when he was always at my side.  And the fear of that moment grips me. 

Not that I don’t want him to grow up.  Chase his dreams.  Find his path in for him in this life.  But I know with that path will be times when I can’t assure he has made the journey unscathed.  That he doesn’t need me; and if he does, will he turn around and look back at me? 

Life has a way of finding us looking back in our rear-view.   

We look back with wonder, awe, regret, sadness, joy.   How did we ever get through those dark moments?  What was that feeling felt when overwhelming joy embraced us?  How did our children grow up so fast?  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were in the delivery room?  Why didn’t we say what we truly wanted to say?  What if we took the opposite path? What if we tried harder, made more mistakes, trusted our instincts, gave in to love, followed our heart, valued deeper, gave more, trusted more, and believed more? 

Recently we all looked back on the previous year; I looked back on mine with awe and wonder.  

Awe at how we made it through this dark cloud in our lives with so many twists and turns of debilitating grief and pain, with, truly, only a few bumps and bruises along the way. 

And my conclusion (Wonder!) is this:  Because when we sat in our alley way of life, looking back, we caught a glimpse of a smile looking back at us.

Our family. Our friends.  The gifts of a shoulder, a warm embrace, someone to pray with, or pray for.  The feeling of love.  The feeling that no matter what, we are not alone. One more look back, and on our way we go.  Truly appreciating the moments at hand, and yet to be had.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Guilty Mom's Syndrome

Since I’m always adding more to the to-do list than is physically capable, I’m not a stranger to the feedback: 

 1) I don’t know how you do it...
And …
 2) Seriously I don’t know how you do it …   

By “it” they are referring to the balancing of life and I’ll tell you like I tell them:

 I don’t do “it” well.  

It’s not to say I don’t try.  I do.  I try very hard.  Every day.  But rarely do I succeed.  I bought a planner to make to do lists and to keep our families’ schedules organized, and then I got an app on my phone as a backup.  Currently, besides those planners, I have the planner at my work desk, then the planner in my purse, then the virtual planner, and the planner’s planner.  

Yet, if you can imagine, I still struggle.  

And with that struggle comes a thousand questions, mainly – “Am I doing this right?” When my children are older, will they resent me because we don’t get home until after 6 and bedtime is 8?  Because in that two hour time slot is everything from cooking to homework to shower time, leaving little for family time in between.  I feel lost.  I feel drained.  I feel guilty.   

My ultimate dream is to find a guilt free balance between all the avenues in my life – the working mom, the soccer mom, the homemaker mom, the writer / designer mom – to be able to prioritize my time, stay focused, on schedule, on task, on demand – all with the accuracy of a skilled surgeon, and looking amazing while completing the daily tasks. (Reminds me, add working out to today’s to do list …)
That’s the ultimate goal. 

To have it all, well balanced.  

Here is the truth.
I spend most of my days in chaos.  I have great intentions of making something home made for dinner, but then by 5pm I see the time and suddenly Schnuck’s deli is cooking for me again.  Ninety percent of the time Thomas is wearing his uniform from the previous day because there was no time for laundry.  Each Monday I print the school schedule for the week and as I put it in one of the 19 calendars I have and if I remember in the morning to pack snacks for the afternoon then I am ahead of schedule. 

I’m in awe of parents who seem to never raise their voices or use bribery or whisper threats that I am pretty sure are impossible to enforce – i.e. If you don’t clean your room and take care of your stuff I’ll box it all up and ship it to children in Africa who will appreciate these things. 

Instead I’m the parent who whispers impossible threats, and sadly, bribery is a part of my parenting arsenal. I struggle with "Am I doing this parenting thing right? Is it supposed to be this hard? "It" seriously didn't come with a manual??? OH THE GUILT!!!" I mean, and I the only one whose been embarrased in the supermarket because my child, red faced with anger, is tired of me saying no all the time and wants a cookie and because I made him tardy then it’s the least I can do … Or the one who feels like you've drained your energy trying to get them to listen ... Or I am the one who after he is asleep has made my way into the bathroom to cry for three minutes (and three minutes only we have schedule to keep!) because he started another sentence with, “I know the answer is going to be no, but could you ask your boss if you could be at my ___ “ … fill in the blank with one of 11 school activities for the month.   

I feel like I am disappointing them on a daily basis. 

I have tried to portray myself as the mom who is tough, resilient, capable, and can cope with all that is thrown at her with cat like reflexes.  I strive to be that mom that after a10 hour work day, I have fresh baked cookies for homework time, and no yelling evening time, combined with super creative art projects for down time right before we are reading books together before bed time. 
Nope.  Not me.  Not even in a dream. 

I am a hot mess most days. And I feel the guilt that accompanies that hot mess.  I feel I am not giving my children the life they deserve.  Like I’m not giving them all of me, my time, my energy, my creativity, my heart.  In theory yes, my kids have my heart, completely 100%, but realistically if I am measured by the amount of well balanced time I give them I get a grade of FAIL.  

And here is the reality:  
I have what I refer to as Guilty Mom's Syndrome.  Nothing is ever good enough, we are the hardest on ourselves, we are our worst enemy and biggest critic. 

For example:  Feeling the guilt, I signed up for room mom is attempts to score some brownie points with my son, who, these days can be an unrelenting, confusing, selfish, button-pushing little thing who has learned the power silent treatment has over me.  He's struggling right now with low confidence, and of course, I feel the guilt of that too - so maybe being his room mom will help?  Yet, once I put my name on the line, I seconded guessed everything.  How do I include more meetings / organization / planning into an already chaotic schedule? 

Truth is I would leave my office in a second if he needed me.  I would drop anything to be at his side. His laughter gives me the greatest joy, and I ache with love for him – for him and for Bella.  Their laughter is where my peace in this crazy thing called life lies.  With them, I have “home” and feel complete and it makes the chaos of the day worth every moment of it. 

Still, I feel guilty most days, okay, okay, every day.  But I also know I am working towards a life that they can be proud of.  And I also ensure they know that no matter what the to-do list or calendar says, I will be there.  Flying by the seat of my pants none the less, but I will there.  

I remind myself that I am not alone.  There is no such thing as normal.  That ALL parents, working, stay at home, single, divorced, or married – all of us are attempting to do what’s best for our children.  I remind myself that we all have flaws and mine involve not being good with balancing both work and home, but I am really good at snuggling, stories, and listening.  When needed, I am singing the boo boo song to make the pain go away, and finding “Max” the bedtime toy when he seems to be missing again and someone can’t sleep.  I am not good at making dinner in twenty minutes or less unless it involves a phone call to our local pizza service, but I am really good at being the biggest cheerleader on the sidelines and laughing when the joke isn’t funny, and sneaking in and switching out their tooth for money (or a gift card, whatever my wallet has that evening) even if I don’t remember until 1am after I just got the house cleaned up, my face washed, my teeth brushed, and laid down for the first time since 6am ….  

I am NOT good at balancing my life, but I am really good at being a mom first, and all else second.  No matter what I may think.  Guilt is there and something tells me it’s not going away any time soon.  Good thing I get the most amazing hugs to keep me going … to make "IT" worth it.