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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 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.

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!! 🙂

As the sun sets

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The other night I was driving home with Jack and the sun was starting to set. Jack was getting upset because he didn’t want it to be night time, that meant it would be time for bed soon, and he wanted to go visit his cousins instead of sleeping. We were set to go to his cousins house the next day, so I told him he had to let the sun set otherwise he wouldn’t get to see him. He got mad and wanted it to be time to visit right then, but I said if we visited at this time then he wouldn’t get to see them for very long, because everyone had to go to sleep soon.

We hold onto things and ideas we want very tightly. We know what we want to do, and we want it to happen now. We can see the good things, we just aren’t there yet. And going through and waiting is always hard. And when what we have to wait through is the darkness, which can be unpredictable it’s even harder.

 Sometimes it feels like the thing we want to happen. The thing is we have to allow that to be an option. We have to let go of the day, we have to let the sun set, and make it through the night if we ever want to see a new day. If we never move into the night, if we settle for less than the best, then we make it harder on ourselves. If we hold on and force things to fit inside a mold that they don’t really belong in, the mold will eventually break or the things inside of it will. We have to fight for things, and we have to know what we want, but we have to let things be as well. The sun sets for a reason. Nothing would survive without the night. We couldn’t strengthen our roots, we would turn brittle and break if we didn’t have the nights to cool the skies. And even though the dark can be scary, it also has a beauty that’s nearly unsurpassed. We can see more of the universe in the dark than we can in the day. We can use that time to hone our dreams, to find our path. But only if we let the sun set on today.

One day (an homage to the Olympics and the Olympic spirit)

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I love the Olympics. In general, I enjoy sports, and I appreciate the competitive nature, even if it’s simply competing with yourself to become better. But the Olympics are different. Everyone who walked into that stadium tonight is an Olympian. For the rest of their lives, no matter what, they were Olympians at the 2012 Olympics in London. It’s truly an amazing accomplishment.

The Olympics provide a very unique opportunity for everyone who competes. At that moment when the games open every single Olympian in that stadium has a chance. They have the chance to be considered the greatest competitor in their sport at this moment in time. Every single person there has hope, even if the odds are against them. Underdogs will win gold medals. Upsets will take place. Someone who was never supposed to win will, in fact, stand atop a podium with their anthem playing at some point in time in the next few weeks. And it’s all because they took a chance, and they kept on working.

One day someone decided they liked soccer. One day someone decided they were going to try to run as fast as they could. One day someone decided they could probably balance on a 4” beam. And then they made that choice again, and again, and again, until they came to the point where they were in a class of their own. They stood at the top of their game. They put forth the work, years of work in most cases, to see their dream through. They had successes and failures. They had promotions and setbacks. They had points where they felt like giving up. Points where life was overwhelming. But each day, they made the choice to carry on. They made the choice to try again. And to try again after that. And with every choice and every effort, they made their dream a reality.

Nothing great comes easily. You don’t get to a point where you produce your best work until you put in the effort to learn, to grow, to push yourself through, to fail, to rise, to persevere.  One day we choose to try. It is our starting block. But we must follow that start with a strong step forward. And we must repeat those steps again and again and again if we want to cross the finish line in front. We cannot get to the top of the mountain unless we are willing to climb. And unless one day we choose to try, we will remain stranded with the crowd, never even making it to the starting line. So what better time to choose to try, even if it’s just a crazy dream? The greatest competitors in every field started off the same way.

 

This little light of mine… (that’s what’s stuck in my head!)

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My break ended up and will continue to be a little longer than I  had anticipated. This week I’ll be spending the majority of my time at my grandmother’s visiting with her as the one who usually takes care of her won’t be doing so this week. So I’ll again only have access to dial-up internet and my phone. Neither are conducive to blogging.  But I will try to keep up this week as much as possible… I’m terribly behind on reading everyone’s posts which makes me a little crazy, because I really enjoy them and I like to be sure everyone knows I didn’t forget them! So I apologize!

But I wanted to say since we are starting off a new week, just like any other, let it be great. We have the chance to do what we can do to spend time with those we need to spend time with. To pay special attention to the things we’ve continually put off into the next day and the next week. To not only be there but to truly be present in the situations we are engaged in, because it’s so easy to just be there, but not really be there. I get that way a lot, and I’m trying to remind myself to pay attention. To truly engage and enjoy. We have the chance to help someone, to share with someone, and to make someone smile. So let’s make it a point to make the world shine a little brighter this week for those around us, and to shine brighter ourselves, simply because we know the light lives inside of us. We can be the torch that lights the flame here. And that is what will help make our dreams come true, too. Maybe we aren’t Olympians (which I very honestly have always wished I could be one), but we can inspire and encourage just the same. We have greatness within us. So let it shine 🙂 

Your lucky day! (Stars shine brightest in the dark)

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Today is 7-11. Luck is all around, follow the arrows and you’ll see. What I thought about this morning was that every day has the possibility to be our lucky day. There is something good that is happening around us or even within us, that we have the chance to tap into.

Whether it exists in our head, if we are finding a way out, if we are starting a new journey, if we are staying the course, there is a glimmer of light that shines that shows us the good things are there. We are on our way to somewhere better than before. Each day as we grow and improve ourselves life has a chance to become a little bit better, a little bit more than it was yesterday. Whether we are there yet or not, whether everything around us is dark and we can only see the faintness of the light (the stars shine brightest in the dark, you know), or if we are so close we can taste it, there is somewhere great for each of us to go. There is something we can all share when we are here to enhance the lives of those around us. Be the light that shines in the dark.

Create your own luck, put in the work, and let the rest flow. Let today be your lucky day. And work to help make it the same for another. There is strength in numbers. Energy aligns. Let it be positive, and let your luck shine!

 

(sorry the post is so short, I’m having a meeting about this book today!)

 

Finding focus in the silence – seeing your ideas become reality

Most of the time when we have an idea or a goal, at the beginning there is this wave of excitement and focus. We are able to make the ideas flow, we are able to put a pen to paper, and we’re off. We start on our way. Then all of a sudden it stops. The wave has landed ashore, and we’re stuck out of water. This is one of the most pivotal times when it comes to accomplishing what we’ve set out to accomplish.

It seems like when we look at others, they are on their way and their journey has been nothing but smooth sailing. In reality, it’s extremely unlikely that a tremendous amount of time, frustration and unreturned effort wasn’t put in. We don’t get to most places worth going in life simply by showing up. We have to work to get to where we want to go. If you have something to say, and something worth saying, finding an audience is the most important and most difficult thing you can do. Unfortunately, in life we can only control ourselves. We have no power over others unless they consent. Unless they are willing to show up and say, “Hey, tell me more.” And people aren’t willing to do that until you’ve put in the effort.

Maintaining focus when things are starting to fall, when you realize that the road in front of you is full of hill after hill, mountain after mountain that you have to climb over – when you realize that you are fighting uphill, and there will be times when you feel like you are only losing ground – maintaining focus here is what separates those who achieve their goals from those who let them go. It separates those who become from those who settle. It’s hard. It’s long. It doesn’t go the way we expect it to go or feel that it should go. But it IS the road to success, as long as we choose to stay focused. To find ways when there seem to be none, and to keep working when it feels like nothing is happening. Finding focus when we are hearing nothing at all, when there is only silence is the key to seeing your ideas become a reality.

A view from the top – where the possibilities are endless!

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I went to NYC for the first time in 2006. As a child I had decided since New York was cold and full of people, I wasn’t too interested in going there. I always figured I wouldn’t feel safe, and I would get lost. I decided if I had to pick a big city to live in, I would pick LA. A good portion of this decision was based on the fact that I loved sunny weather, and all of my favorite TV shows were filmed in LA. But, even so, when we were embarking on the trip I was a bit apprehensive.

We were only going to be there for about 48 hours. And my only goal on the trip was to make it to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. I’ve always loved Christmas trees, and when they are all lit up I can sit and look at the lights for hours. It’s calming to me. We drove into New Jersey, and made our way to NYC via the subway, and our train stopped in Grand Central Station. When we got out into the night lights, I found myself feeling unusually comfortable. There were people everywhere. It was three days before Christmas. It was cold and rainy but not freezing out. And the whole time I was there, I was continuously surprised at how at home I felt. There are more people in a two block radius than there are in my entire state. But something about it just fit.

When we got down to the tree I remember just thinking to myself, if it weren’t insanely expensive or I were a millionaire, or I figured out a way to get into Columbia to go to school, I could totally live here. People weren’t rude. They were simply on their way to wherever they were going. And we were as well. We didn’t get lost. Far fewer strangers came up to me and asked me for money than did when I lived in Jackson. In fact, I think only one person did, and that was at the train station. But there was nothing scary about it. When we went to the Top of the Rock and looked out over the city, it was a truly beautiful sight. We could see the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The bridges were lit. There were red and green lights for the season. You could see life. For miles and miles. You just knew there was life all around. It was lively, and encouraging, and you could feel the energy in the air. You could see all of the different avenues of possibility that were right at your fingertips. They are simply waiting for you to stroll their way.

Sometimes it’s surprising what we find when we go places we never really wanted to go. I never wanted to go to NYC, yet it took one quick trip for me to fall in love (and I WILL be back one day). I never wanted to write a blog, but this has turned out to be one of the most encouraging experiences I’ve had in a long time. I never wanted to pursue my dreams, because there was a chance I would fail, and I didn’t know how to handle that, yet this journey of writing and publishing and reaching people with something I believe in has been the best experience I’ve had despite its frustrations. Sometimes if we change our point of view, and we try new things – even those we really don’t think we want to, it can change our lives in the most wonderful way. Whether it’s writing a different type of story than we had envisioned, taking a job we didn’t think we wanted to have, traveling somewhere we aren’t really interested in going, there may just be something in those experiences that change our lives for the better. So don’t forget to be open, and try to envision what life could be like with a view from the top.

What did you do with your extra time?

So today we had an extra second, our Leap Second, to balance out something scientific or another 🙂 There is a fishing rodeo in town tonight and so I got to spend my extra second stuck on top of the ferris wheel with my son.

I don’t like ferris wheels. I don’t mind heights. And I don’t mind rides that go fast or upside down. I love roller coasters. I don’t like ferris wheels. So it makes sense that Jack would be anxiously awaiting the ferris wheel, and that we would end up sitting on top, just sitting waiting for it to move for that extra second of the day.

Aside from the death grip I had I Jack’s arm, and the other on the rail, I thought about the fact that things did look quite peaceful from the top. And that if I weren’t terrified I could take a picture for the extra second and it would probably turn out quite beautiful. But as it was, my child isn’t afraid of ferris wheels, which makes me not trust his 3-year-old impulsiveness to sit still while I attempt to gather the courage to let go of anything and take a picture.

So instead what I was left with was a nice little moment of peace and realization that even though I was terrified, I was in awe of the beauty that surrounded us. I could feel the calm, feel the love. And it was a pretty awesome second. Made more awesome by the knowledge that it was one more second passing that brought me closer to where I wanted to be. Which was safe and sound on the ground.

We normally have 86,400 seconds in a day. Today we had 86,401. Do you know what you did with them? Each second, each moment is a chance to live and grow closer to your goal. To face your fear. To climb to new heights. How do you spends your seconds?

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