Day 14 – Beautiful days and Invisibility Cloaks!

 

Today I’m thankful for this beautiful day. It’s truly stunning outside, even if it’s a little chilly for my taste. But I woke up really excited today to have the chance to wake up. I feel good and purposeful, which isn’t always the case, but is the way I try to make it. I like the thankfulness exercise, because it really is good to remember to be thankful for even the tiniest of things we have. And it creates a foundation of gratitude instead of a foundation of “I need.” And we all have so many things we do need to do every day and in our futures that the need can get to be overwhelming. And need is something that easily becomes skewed and lost in our quest to attend to need. It has a way of making us feel helpless while gratitude has a way of making us feel helpful. It reminds us that we have things, even tiny things that allow us the chance to move forward. We have the chance to grow and create and be who we are, and we are all someone with something to offer. Every day, even if we aren’t where we want to be, we have something to offer that can make both our day and someone else’s day a little bit brighter and bring us closer to who and where we want to be.

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As a side note, I’m again thankful (but a little scared by) technology. Did you guys see this? http://phys.org/news/2012-11-invisibility-cloak.html  This is a link to an article talking about how Duke University has created and “invisibility cloak.” You know, like in Harry Potter. Where they were able to effectively make a cylinder invisible by bending light around an object and doing, you know, other things that required mathematical formulas for mirroring light waves and working out copper’s reflective characteristics that we all hang out and do on a daily basis, so obviously I don’t need to explain any further. Which is good since I don’t really understand any of it. BUT this is really cool, and kind of scary. They made it disappear in a way that produced no reflected light, whereas previously done cloaks were “see through” but you could tell there was an object that you were “seeing through” because of the reflective properties of the cloak set up. Kind of like bubbles, I think? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what they said. Anyhow, you guys should read the article, because it kind of blows my mind that we can make things appear invisible through the use of technology and considering how all of that works what if you could make a whole country invisible? Or what if there are parts of the universe that are really close to Earth that are invisible and we just don’t know it? What if a previous group of Earth’s inhabitants figured this out and they walk around with us, but sometimes we see glimpses of their reflections but it’s too brief to know that’s what it is??  Or you know, what if it’s nothing. Points for the day: This cloak is cool (and not cloak like in the way I thought it would be) check it out. And being thankful is good. And buy my book 🙂

Day 10 – Anger management?

Tonight I am thankful, honestly thankful, that I did not punch the wall. I remembered that last time I punched a wall when I was a teenager… it hurt. And even though I really, really, really, really, really, really, really hate it when a quarterback, more specifically my team’s quarterback, throws an interception in the endzone and the other team goes more than 100 yards to score. And I’m thankful that when someone said, “there’s no reason to get so upset, just remember the things in your life that you are thankful for,” I didn’t punch that person either. So tonight, that’s two things that I successfully avoided allowing my anger to overcome me on. I did, however, yell and turn off the TV. But I feel that it was beyond warranted. FAR BEYOND WARRANTED. It’s all because I got my hopes up. Which in reality is a good thing. It’s good to have things we are passionate about. That we hope in. Etc, etc, etc… Yes, that’s as close as I can get to saying something worthwhile. I am only competitive when I care. I have drastically decreased the number of sporting events and other contests that I watch because, well, by competitive I meant extremely competitive and a terribly poor loser, so it was for my well-being that I stopped. So in conclusion, I didn’t punch anything at all today. (I’m pretty sure the wall that one time is the only thing I’ve ever really punched. I’m really good at not punching things, so that’s a plus.) And I’m thankful that I have that control. Because there are some people out there tonight in the ER because they punched a wall and broke their hand. I’m thankful I’m not one of them.

Day 9 – Holding hands

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I think back in May I might have posted an excerpt on being thankful from my book. I can’t remember if it included what I’m going to talk about today, so I’m going to say it again. Partly because I’m lazy and don’t want to look back through all of those, but mostly because it’s something that’s important and that I want to share again if I’ve already done so.  A few years back when I was watching Oprah there was a show on about a woman who had been burned. She had been so severely burned that she couldn’t hold her child. She couldn’t open a jar of peanut butter. She no longer had use of the faculties most of us have on any given day. She wore compression stockings all over her body to keep her blood flowing and keep clots from forming. And when I saw this show I remember thinking how thankful I was to have my health. I had use of all of my muscles. My fingers and toes, my feet and hands, legs and arms. My body functions as it’s supposed to. I can sit and stand without issue. I can run and jump. I can bend over. I can paint my walls. I can clean my floors. I can pick up my child when he cries. I can hold him on my heart whenever he’s scared. I can push him on the swings. I can slide down the slide with him.

Every day I wake up I try to remember to be thankful that I can. I am able. And it is my responsibility to work to ensure that I remain able. And to not take for granted the little things that I do have, that are significant things when removed. Like the ability to hold hands with my son as we go for a walk. To have the stamina to play with him outside, even if it’s not as much as he’d like (I swear I’m going to start using him as a personal trainer for people. He’s quite the motivator for staying moving!). I have hands to wash dishes. I have eyes to see the road. There is a world I get to experience with relative ease because I am healthy. And I am incredibly thankful for that. And I say prayers of healing and hope because there are many of us who do not have the same luxury.

Day 8 – A helping hand (really two…or two thousand)

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The storm surge 24 hours before Isaac was up to the sea wall already. (I don’t know those people who were walking out into the water…I was too scared to do that.)

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The empty lots near where my nephews’ apartment used to be before Katrina. There used to be apartments and houses all the way up through there.

I consider this my first “real” post when it comes to being thankful. But I am thankful to live in a world where people come together to help one another the way we do when disaster occurs. I think it’s a bit hard to explain what it’s like to have the infrastructure you’ve known all of your life disappear in a matter of hours when a storm surge rolls in, but it’s absolutely mind-boggling. I remember after Katrina, I was staying at school taking care of my nephews, because their apartment had been washed away. I brought them back down three or four weeks later, and that was the first time I saw the extent of the damage to the coastline I used to know.

Sometimes when I had gone back home from school to visit I would note how much things were changing as new stores and shopping centers were popping up, new condos along the beach, new restaurants. And even though it was strange, it was a good change. To return to your home to see absolutely nothing recognizable is an extremely hard thing to comprehend. It’s hard to verbalize. The memories we make when we are young are memories that stay strong. The places we used to go, the houses we used to hang out at, they are the way we remember our youth. And when I returned after Katrina, we had to count the streets trying to figure out where we were at because there were no longer any recognizable landmarks half a mile inland. (I live in a city that was not totally destroyed, and in fact sustained considerably less damage than the areas just two miles away from my home where the water literally covered almost the entire city and entire cities just 15 miles away.) Travel was limited, the bridges were washed out. There were barges sitting on top of the store my dad used to own. It’s still surreal to think about, and the recovery more than 7 years later is still ongoing, with much of the homes still not rebuilt and much of the infrastructure not fully restored.

One of the greatest things that we experienced after Katrina was the outpouring of support from people all across the country, and even internationally. People send supplies, came down to help gut the homes that had sustained too much water to be salvaged beyond the studs, helping set-up housing and rebuild homes, bringing food, bringing water, bringing ice and supplies. (In the weeks after the storm, as people see, it takes a long time to fully restore power, and when you have no power, no grocery stores because there’s no power and most of them were damaged down here, the national guard provides you with MRE’s to eat…I was lucky enough to bring food down from school with me, and only ate a few of those.) So all of those little things make a huge difference.

It truly amazes me when I think about how many people came down here, to a place most people didn’t know existed beforehand to give, to provide support and love. And this continued for years. People continued to come down, on spring break, on Christmas break, on summer break. We have an amazing resolve and an amazing willingness to serve those in need here, even though sometimes it doesn’t seem that way. So I am thankful that I live here. And I send thoughts and prayers every day to those affected by Sandy. For us Katrina hit in August. It was hot. It stayed hot. We didn’t have to deal with the cold. We didn’t have to worry about not having a heat source for the snow and freezing days and nights. I can’t imagine having to deal with that. I’m bringing Jack to donate some blankets tomorrow at one of the many donation areas we have set up down here. He said that was what he wanted to give to the little kids who might be cold. And I’m excited he has the chance to give and the heart to care for those who are in need. Recovery takes time, and we are recovering from a lot in this world. There was a powerful earthquake today in Guatemala. We had Sandy last week and a Nor’easter this week. We are still recovering in Japan, in Haiti (you can check out Justin’s work here, he’s about to go to Haiti to help in an orphanage there), in Mississippi and Louisiana, in Indonesia. There is so much happening in the world, and so much need just related to natural disasters where our basic needs hang in the balance. And I’m thankful that we live in a world where we can help and where we do help.

Day 7 – Catching up and Technology

So as an update – Day 1: Thankful for the end of one class and a break for a week.

Day 2: My family

Day 3: My friends

Day 4: My son and my nephews – whose existence brought me to understand love without selfishness, without limitation, and literally changed my world in the best way possible.

Day 5: I posted on Monday

Day 6: Democracy (I deliberately stayed offline the majority of the day…and I know my post Monday was about voting, but I think it’s only appropriate. )

Day 7: I’m thankful for technology. And I mean that in the sincerest way. Technology, and specifically the internet has really helped enhance the world as a whole. It has given us access to people we wouldn’t have had access to before, at least not in such a real and immediate manner. We can look through cameras aimed at cities around the world. We can see cultures in full form and learn and appreciate one another in a way that wasn’t existent 20 years ago. We can find friends we wouldn’t get to connect with otherwise. We can talk to family members in different cities, states, or even countries. We can find the answer to almost any question in a matter of seconds, and with a few more minutes of research we can find the real answer. 🙂 We can connect to people who want to build each other up, who want to encourage, uplift, and inspire one another. We have places like this, where we can meet with each other, and see our goals, see our weaknesses, see what others are sharing with the world in way that never would have been possible otherwise. And we have the opportunity to help. To give of ourselves. To share what is unique about ourselves in a way that inspires. We have the chance to rise to the occasion and ease the burden by offering what we have. We can see people in need and find a way to help. And that’s why I’m thankful for technology, and specifically the internet, and more specifically this blog and places like it!

November 5…the thankful posts

Well, I’m a little behind on here (I thought I had my posts set up for last week, because I knew I’d be away from the computer, but again, technology and I still have difficulties). But, I like the thankful posts for the month of Thanksgiving, so I’m going to do that.

And today, what I’m going to be thankful for is the fact that I live in a country where I have the opportunity to vote. And as much as I get angered over all of the negative ads, and as much social media political overload has happened, I very honestly appreciate that I live somewhere where this can take place. I think having the rights that we have get quickly overlooked. We feel like we aren’t making progress or are progressing in the wrong way, or that others are holding us back, but that’s a much better position to be in than in a position where it doesn’t matter what you think or what the consensus is. There’s no opinion taken into account in many places. Everyone is overlooked in many places. There is certainly no consideration for majority rights, much less minority rights in many countries. We have come a very long way as a country. We have a lot further to go. And though there are important issues that we need to work out, that need to be well researched, that need to have clear understandings and be presented in a way that shows what truly is best for the people as a whole, we, as the people, have the chance to do something important to contribute. We have the chance to live in a country where our vote does count. Where our understandings matter. Our opinions matter. And we get the chance to voice them. And for that I am thankful.

 

(I wrote the other posts, so I’m going to try to condense them and put them into one since I have them and they just didn’t post. Maybe I’ll do that for tomorrow, since I intend to stay away from social media as much as possible tomorrow, and however long this count lasts, because, although I’m thankful, I’m exhausted of politics on social media!!)

Foundations

I was thinking about things today, as news comes in and out, and I realized that despite the fact that as I said…life is hard, I feel really good. I feel good about life. I feel good about moving forward. Even when it looks impossible or becomes overwhelming, somewhere in me I know that things will work out. And there is a solidness there, a foundation that never used to exist for me.

When I was younger I was usually bitter or angry or sad. I wasn’t happy. I was very pessimistic. In fact, being a pessimist was ironically one of the only things that I found pleasure in. I felt very lonely, and I didn’t know how to change that. So being in difficult situations only served to reinforce that idea. My mindset was that things were going to be bad, why aim to be happy, why aim to overachieve, or really even just achieve. I could undersell myself. I could just get by. And then I wouldn’t have to deal with failing, or the stress that accompanies trying to truly accomplish the goals I was unwilling to have. I didn’t want to have to deal with hardship, so I opted to make things as easy as possible. I sold myself short, and everyone else, too.

So being where I am now, understanding that I can work each day at becoming more and more of who I want to be. I can work each day at coming back to that place where I know that I am worthy to keep going. I know that I have something to contribute. I know that I am doing things that are in line with who I want to be. Even if I’m not doing everything that I feel I should be, or even if I fall short some days, I still have that place to go back to. I have that position of worth. I have a foundation that everyone has as long as we are willing to be open to it. And that place provides hope. It provides light when there is darkness. It is a foundation that is solid, because it knows that there is somewhere to go. A foundation that doesn’t know there is a future, like the foundations we have that are built on fear and uncertainty, are foundations that falter as we try to move. They can’t hold us up, so instead they entrap us as they crumble around us. But a foundation with a future, one that knows our worth, our light, our love, those foundations can lift us up. They can stand strong. They can hold fast even when the sky falls down. It changes everything. And it changes it for the better.

 

PS… I nearly passed out half-way attempting to jog while pushing Jack, who didn’t feel like riding his bike or jogging yesterday. So today we did yoga. He knocked me out of position a few times, but since I’m not good at it yet, I figured I would have fallen anyway. Happy midweek you guys!! 🙂

A quick trip to the pumpkin patch and other stories…

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Well, hellooooo! It’s been a while!  A long while! But I get to write again some now, and that’s exciting. I hope everyone has been well. I’ve missed you guys! School is in full swing, but hopefully I’ll get to write more often now.

Today we stopped by a pumpkin patch. Jack had fun, but all of the pumpkins that weren’t insanely ginormous had already started to go bad, so we ended up not getting one. Well, Jack got a baby one that he was very excited about. It didn’t seem to matter to him, so we are going to paint that and try to find one to carve elsewhere.

Over the past few months as life has been changing in very extreme ways both very positive and very negative, it’s been a frustrating and exciting quest towards the future. The thing that I realized the most was that life really is hard. When you don’t know how to make a way for your family to survive, it’s hard. When you can’t see past your bills, it’s hard. When you can’t find things that make you happy, it’s hard. When you look around and it seems everyone has someone but you, it’s hard. Life is hard. The things that we are trying to accomplish in our lives, even the simple things can be hard. And when I was watching one of my favorite movies, “A League of Their Own,” I heard one of my favorite lines, and it goes like this: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” It’s hard. Life is, but it’s also great. Every day we have new chances, new opportunities. We have the chance to do something that makes us feel a little more like the person we want to be. And sometimes that involves just getting through the day. But we can work to make sure that we build something into our time, into our days to be able to say to ourselves each night, I am a little closer than I was when I woke up. And as time goes forward, we will have become the person we want to become, and we will be doing the things we want to be doing, because we took the time when it was hard to make sure that the hard was worthwhile.

(As a little side-note, I LOVE this movie. LOVE it. It’s one of the first movies that ever made me cry. That’s weird, I know. And I cried because at 10 I realized that my time playing softball was limited. I would graduate high school and I wouldn’t get to play anymore. And I really loved softball, and sports in general. One of the things I miss most about being young is that comradery that accompanies a group of people with the main goal of working together, getting better and building each other up in order to achieve something great. We wanted to win and we were willing to fight, even when it was hard. In fact, we cheered each other on to work even harder when it was hard, because we wanted to win. We wanted to succeed. And I think if we continued that type of thinking and working together into adulthood the world would be a much better place. And hopefully, even though it’s been a while, hopefully when you come to this site, it’s a place where we build each other up, and inspire one another on our journeys, especially when it’s hard.)

(And as a final side-note for the night, my goal is to get up early with Jack tomorrow and exercise, because I am still using him as an excuse not to, so instead since he’s interested in running and yoga, I’m going to try to do those with him. Because, in all seriousness, I should not be this out of shape.  So, I’m going to start the week off on the right foot, by exercising, cooking something healthy, and writing! I’m in a better mood just having written this! Happy start to the week everyone!!! )

“You can’t get full staring at someone else’s plate”

My friend used this quote earlier in the week. I am guilty of this all the time. It’s so easy to look at what is happening in everyone else’s life and wonder why things don’t work that way for you. It’s hard to maintain the focus we need on ourselves without finding a way to compare it with others. By our nature we are comparative, social beings. We want to know what others are doing. We want to know why. And we want to know if it would benefit us just as well or if it will bring us down. And it’s hard not to let those things get into our heads and manifest in a way where fear, jealousy, and confusion emerge.

We have a tendency to throw ourselves off track. We forget our main focus and get confused by all of the little details. But no one else is going where we are going. No one else’s path will be the same. We can do exactly the same things as the person beside us, but still end up with completely different results. We are all suited for different things that work at different ways and in different times. We have to remember that though it’s impossible not to look at what others are doing, we have to keep our main focus on ourselves. We can look to others for guidance and advice, but we can’t look at their situation and spend all of our time wishing things we the exact same for us or believe that doing exactly as they do will make things right for us. We are similar, yet unique. And we have to maintain that balance and go forth in the direction that works the best for where we are at that time. Besides, when we consume someone else’s plate in addition to ours, the ultimate results are rarely  what we’d like them to be!

 

Happy Friday all, I hope your weekends are wonderful!

Inspiration and Gratitude

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Image drawn by Sarah S. Smith

 

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Painted by Sarah S. Smith

 

The above pictures were drawn/painted by my exceptionally talented friend Sarah (http://sarahssmith.com/).  I tried to leave them large so that you all could see how wonderful they are. The first picture is a drawing I asked her to do of Jack. This came from a picture that I took during his first ever trip to the park. The detail in her images is absolutely incredible. Whenever anyone comes over and sees the drawing in my house they can’t help but comment on how amazing it is. I was showing a friend her artwork the other day, and I was struck by how inspiring it is when we see people using their talents.

When we display the things we have hidden within us, we have the capacity to move people. To lift them up, strengthen and inspire them. When we take the time to foster those things that we have to share, it matters. We all have different strengths. We all have different things to offer in different ways. We have something within us, innately inherit unto us that was designed to connect with others. We can’t always speak well, or draw well, or sing well, but we all have something we can and should do to help others. When we are willing to rise up and share those things we make a difference. We help people heal, we help them soar, we help them feel compelled to use their talents as well.

 

I also wanted to take this time to say thank you to the following people for nominating me for awards. Thank you all so much for taking the time out to read this and even though I haven’t been able to write as much lately, I really appreciate everyone sticking around and helping lift my spirits as well!

 

http://ivegotastory.wordpress.com/

http://chroniclesofbadtimes.wordpress.com/

http://transformedbythejourney.com/

http://foroneplease.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/inspiration-awarded/

http://headywriting.wordpress.com/

 

 

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