Friday, January 31, 2014

Living the Dream: January

At the beginning of the year I shared these thoughts regarding 2014. In my quest to make every moment count, I decided it was best to have a monthly goal. Be it a new adventure, or an old dream, the only criteria was it had to be something that mattered to me. See post here. Here's what I did with January.

I enjoy being alone. When I was younger I'd take myself on date nights. After kids that time alone went from less to virtually nonexistent. When I do have alone time there is usually an agenda. I miss dressing up and going out with just me. I have been meaning to reacquaint myself with this simple pleasure for  years.
For as long as I can remember I have struggled with anger and impatience. When the kids came along both those issues became painfully obvious, and was manifested primarily in the form of yelling.  Over the years I've improved, but by no means do I feel cured. Relax, I'm not a raging maniac. My kids are very loved and safe. However I do believe that if anger is not properly directed or expressed it is destructive. It's something I'm determined to overcome. I welcome opportunities to learn more in this area
Two for One
Dr Gary Chapman is a highly regarded counselor and author. The Five love languages is his best known work. When I heard he was hosting a seminar called "Parenting in the 21st Century: Handling Anger in Your Home" I knew I needed to go. It was an opportunity to take myself on a date AND learn. That week had been particularity difficult. Getting all dressed up and having the evening to myself was the right prescription. I sat in that auditorium, and listened to one of the most amazing presentations I've ever heard in my life! It was based on Dr. Chapman's book on anger. Practical advice, and even a question and answer session highlighted the event. The information and tips I received that evening was priceless. Ironic, because the seminar itself was free! Words hardly do the event justice.The entire evening, and experience was an answer to prayer, and absolutely glorious down to the smallest detail.
One Down: Eleven to Go
Recently, I got the impression that the theme of my year will be "moving forward." That statement has accurately reflected this month. Honestly, that evening felt like a giant leap forward. How the coming months compare to that, I don't know. What I do is, whether they be baby steps, or enormous leaps, I intend to keep the moving forward, one month and one goal at a time. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Moving Forward

I am amazed by the power of yesterday. Yesterday gave birth to our regrets. Yesterday is where we learned to fear. Yesterday we wasted time on the inconsequential. Yesterday we missed opportunities. We denied our abilities, limited our potential and walked away from destiny. All of this took place during our many, many yesterdays. 

I am inspired by the blessing today. Today offers us an array of possibilities. We can right a wrong, chase a dream, change our future, and challenge our thinking. We can begin a new chapter in our story. Today moves us forward on a time scale, and presents us the choice to move forward in life. We can be more, and do more. We can live for something greater. Today we can relish the moment and invest in the eternal. Yesterday cannot be changed. Move on. Tomorrow is not promised. Move back. Today is all we have. Move now! Resist stagnancy. Keep moving forward.  

“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” 
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Family Brought to You by...

Today was Martin Luther King Jr, Day. It's not a day I've celebrated before. I'm almost ashamed to admit that until today, it has been right up there with President's Day and Labor Day. Mentally acknowledged, but never truly reflected on or celebrated. That all changed today. Today I was struck by an incredibly obvious and profound thought. My family is a thriving product of the civil rights movement. Less than fifty years ago, my family(interracial families) would have been illegal in my state and in many others. This single thought radically changed the meaning of today. With it came an enormous sense of gratitude. It was the fight in people like Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Richard and Mildred Loving, and others that made my marriage not only possible, but legal.  Today, for the first time I celebrated Martin Luther King Jr, Day. My family is a visual representation of the power and possibilities of the civil rights movement, and I'm deeply grateful.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Song in my head...

I hail from a pretty musical family. My dad has been a musician all of his life. I didn't exactly inherit his vocal abilities, but I think my two year old may have. She shushes anyone who attempts to sing, because that's HER thing. She performs mini concerts for whatever room of strangers will listen.
Last week the worship pastor thought it would be cute to put her on microphone. She owned it! Made up a song, and sang (on key) with a keyboard playing in the background. Looks like there may be some talent in my end of the gene pool after all.
As for me my ears work fine. I appreciate just listening. As hearing goes sometimes a song will get stuck in my head. This is the latest one playing there...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Life Unplugged

Over the years our family has had an "on again off again" relationship with cable TV. Mostly (as it is currently) it has been off.  Our most recent breakup came just over a month ago. We decided that the quality of our time together would be better if we unplugged. Saving a few dollars in the process doesn't hurt either. 
The first few days after we disconnected, our house felt somewhat out of order. Television had nicely filled time slot between dinner and bedtime. It had become the preferred time wasting passing option. With it no longer around, the temptation to pop in a movie became the next best thing. We did that for a while, but grew bored with our movie selection. 
In the last week or so, we seem to have found the new normal we were searching for. Dinner conversations have gotten longer. Board games have emerged. Adults and kids are engaged playmates. In fact, as I type this my husband is sorting barbies and barbie clothing! He'd probably cringe that I mentioned it, but there are certain sacrifices involved with being a great dad to little girls. He makes them daily.  Disconnecting the cable was one of those. 
Our decision isn't for everyone. Some people can ignore their access 800 channels. We found that it's easier to ignore, if it's not here. I'd compare it to an unhealthy snack I love, and know shouldn't keep in the house. I might start out eating it in moderation,  but inevitably I'm gonna binge. 
Ultimately, this post isn't about the positive an negative aspects of television. Truth be told we made our teenager cut back on her "i" thingy time too. In order to strengthen our connection to each other, there needed to be some disconnections to things around here. For us it's about having more quality time together. In order to get a good amount of quality time, we simply needed a greater quantity of time.
Our kids will only be this age, once. The same is true of my husband and I. We want to to make the most of these precious moments together as family. This was a step towards that. 
I don't know what your thing is. There are so many time wasters to be plugged into. Remember that time is priceless. The moments you spend with the people you love are treasures. Let nothing hinder that. Look for ways to enhance it. Anything that steals those moments is worth being unplugged.   

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"What Ha happened Was..."

Last year I began parenting two critical and equally frustrating stages, a toddler and a teenager. Here is where you begin to feel sorry for me. Both stages have something in common, tantrums! Double time on the drama and tantrums because mine are girls. Also, I'm convinced that teenage tantrums are superior to toddler ones. They may not wallow on the floor like toddlers, but that's only because they are professionals. 
     When in doubt, lecture! That's my auto default as a parent. I was mid lecture addressing the teenager, and was smacked with something simple and smart. Here is how it went down. My eldest had been floundering all day. I was aggressively explaining (ha!) the importance of staying motivated, and having a plan for one's life. After much speaking (and some arm twisting) I had her tell me her plans for her future. I was impressed, and surprised. She had actually given the topic thought. Her dream is NOT to run off and join a screamo band. That's a relief! I think she was surprised that everything I've been telling her via lectures, conversations nicely supported her vision for her life. In other words she learned that her parents want what's best for her. 
     Confronted by this new revelation, and common ground we both deactivated our weapons. I filed the lecture, and she the blank "in one ear and out the other" stare. For now, we are partners on a mission. I'm attempting to guide toward her dreams. As it turns out, her reaching her dreams is one of mine. It's "win win" situation.
Now where do we go from here?
     Enter that "something simple and smart" idea I mentioned earlier. It dawned on me that at thirteen years old, a plan for 5 years from now might as well be forever. She'll feel like she'll never reach it. That thought made me think much smaller. We defined her long term goal for clarification and directional purposes, but we'll used short term goals to get there. We are making long range plans with short range targets. Really, really short range targets.  In 2014 we'll find, and focus on what she'd like to accomplish in this year, by month. Each month she'll try to achieve something that's significant to her. That's it! That's the "smart and simple." Hey, I never said I invented a new idea! I just like the simplicity and sensibleness of it. I liked it so much, I decided to implement it on myself.
Every month I'll try to accomplish something that matters to me. At the end of the year God willing, I should have done 12 things. I intend to share with you what I'm doing, or have done each month. If it's something too weird or personal then I'll spare you the details.
Anyhow, I have two ideas for the rolling around in my head for January. No, I'm not telling you what they are yet. Stick around, God willing, you'll find out soon enough...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolutions And More!

Past years found me resolved not to resolve. It's been a long time since I've made a New Years Resolution. I have nothing against them save one thing: I cannot seem to keep them. In fact, I can almost guarantee that anything I begin because it's the beginning of a year, I'll most likely break. It took years to learn, that the best time for me to begin anything is when I'm ready. It just so happens that 2014 finds me very ready for many things. I'm open to new adventures and old dreams. 
I'm excited about this year, thrilled even. Ask me why or what I have planned? I can't tell you. I don't know just yet.  I have made no sweeping plans to reform my life. It's more about a recent attitude I've embraced than a list of things to do...although I'm sure that's coming...
I'm thrilled to have my faith, my family, my health, and to realize the blessing of yet another year with all of those things. Along with that realization came the desire to make the most of every moment. What that looks like at the end of 2014, should God allow me to see it, I cannot tell you. I do intend keep you updated as I go through the year. Some of it should be blog worthy. I do suspect and hope there will be a radically different me by year's end. These changes won't come because it's a new year.  They will come because at this very moment I'm ready!

Happy, Healthy 2014!!!