Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This is Me

I had been planning to write a post about the "Real Me" when my friend Some Girl beat me to it.  She did such a good job, that it could have almost been word for word about myself.  Check it out here if you'd like to see what she wrote.  After reading her post, I got to thinking more about my true self.   I am far from perfect, but I also try to be a good person.   I slip up and snap at the boys when I'm tired or frustrated.  I spend time on the computer when I should be playing with them. I'll do almost anything to help a friend.    I swear, although I try not to.   I try to do good things. I'm impatient with, and yell 'IT'S NOT YOUR TURN!', at drivers who can't seem to figure out how to use a four-way stop.  I'm pretty good at going with the flow (except at those darn 4 way stops).  I'm selfish and want things my way. I let my kids eat sugar, drink pop, and watch TV, but I also make sure they spend a lot of time outside being active, and learn the difference between treats and healthy choices.  I have a strong faith.  I'm almost never brave enough to talk about it.  I leave dirty dishes in the sink almost every night.

I am introverted to the point of seeming rude at times.  I really wish I wasn't.  I really wish I could be more bold and outrageous.  For example, if you dyed your hair cupcake pink, I would think it was pretty cool, and secretly wish I could do something so bold.  (I think I'd go for white with pink stripes.... seriously.)  If you invite the whole neighborhood over for a cookout, I would think it wonderful and welcoming.  But I'd also be cringing at the thought of having to talk to people I don't know well.  I wish I were more outgoing.

But, take all the good and bad, and I'm happy with my life.  Not that I'm not working on improving things, and finding balance.  I am.  But I'm happy with me, right here, right now.   I wasn't always able to say that.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First Workshop

On Saturday, I went to my first yoga workshop.  Or specialty class.  Or whatever it's called.  It was on Yoga Nidra, which is yogic sleep, or conscious relaxation.   A very relaxing class, literally.  I got three big things from this class.

1.  Yoga is about calming the mind, and controlling your thoughts.  Even the physical practices of yoga are about focusing your thoughts, and quieting that voice in your head that won't.shut.up.  I kind of knew this, but needed the reminder.  I call it the Be Still, and know that I am God process.  I need a lot of practice on this one.

2.  Each of us has an energy, and depending on how we live our lives, that energy is different.  If we drink, and smoke, steal and do drugs, our energy will be very different than if we live our life practicing faith, reading scriptures, and doing good works.  That's what the teacher said!  I loved hearing that in a yoga class.   Before going to the class, I was a little worried that there would be some weirdness or other that I would have to ignore, and instead I heard "read scripture and do good works".  Take that people who think yoga is devil worship!  ;)

3.  It's very annoying and irritating when people fall asleep three minutes into the hour long practice and start snoring!  Okay, seriously, it was.  And they did.  Several of them.  But I'm being thankful this week, not resentful, so I'm going to focus on being thankful for learning the process of this practice. I am not going to be frustrated that I couldn't concentrate because of the snoring, and lawn mowers, and traffic, and thingy banging on the roof in the wind.  Maybe it was all a test of my ability to focus and clear my mind.  Clearly I failed, since I found myself annoyed and thinking of possible facebook status updates regarding the snorers!  Oh well.  Practice makes progress!  ;)

It's important to take time to truly relax and let the body rest.  I've gone to other restorative yoga classes (without the snoring) and come out feeling more refreshed than if I'd taken a nap.  

May you be blessed with some true relaxation today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Monday, Again?

It's Monday again.  How does that happen so quickly?  This last week seems like it just disappeared from underneath my feet.  I'm trying to keep the huge pile of things that didn't get done last week from overwhelming me.   I purposely chose not to do them, and to spend time with family.  I am glad that I did.  I spent time during the week with my sister and her family, and with my parents, and it was wonderful.  This weekend, we spent most of our time at my mother-in-laws house building a new deck.  Well, watching my husband build a new deck... :)  And I'm glad for that too.  Really,  I'm most thankful for both being born into, and marrying into, wonderful families.  I am so blessed.   Not many girls get to love their mother-in-law like a second mom. 

This weekend was also Palm Sunday.  I may be weird,  but I think that is one of my favorite holidays.  It is upbeat, and happy, and celebrating Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling prophecy from hundreds of years prior that he would be the Savior.  People are waving palm branches,  crying out "Hosanna!!" as he rides into the city.  Now, I had to look up exactly what that means, because sadly I wasn't sure.   It started out as a plea "Rescue me!  Save me!".   By the time of Jesus, it was more of a term of adoration, and they were basically expecting him to save them from the Romans.
Palm Sunday is always one of the services which touches my heart the most.  Because when Jesus was riding into Jerusalem, He KNEW that he was going to die on the cross.  He went anyway.  He went for me!  He went for you.  He went for all of us.  So the thought that He knew what was coming, and went anyway, just gives me chills.  Add into that the cries of Hosanna!! (Save me!!), and I can't help but tear up at some point during the service.  It's just that powerful.

Last week, I kept my goals short:  Enjoy family, and Be positive.  I think that was very successful.
This week, I'm going to do the same.  I'm going to:
1. Be Thankful
2. Take the week for myself.  Not that I'm going to lay on the couch eating bon bons and watching movies all week.  I'm going to focus on doing things that take care of me.  Eating well, yoga, prayer, whatever.  Too often, I let myself and my needs slide to the bottom of the list.  This week, I'm going to be thankful for the blessed life I've been given, and take care of myself.

May you be blessed with a Thankful Heart this week. 

***Disclaimer: This post (and others) makes it sound like I know what I'm talking about regarding Jesus, and God, and all of that.  I don't.  I spent years having no belief in God at all.  And although I've found my faith again and been going to church for about 8 years, I still am really clueless.  I know that Jesus was born on Christmas, and that He was crucified and died on Good Friday, and that He was resurrected on Easter Sunday.  That's about it, as far as really understanding things.  I'm working on filling in the details.  I do a lot of looking things up online (google is great!) , or in books, when I come across something I don't get yet. ( Like Good Friday.... Why on earth is it called Good Friday if it was the day Jesus was crucified? ) That's next on my list! ;)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Please hold...

I've been spending the week balancing the usual stuff with visiting with my sister and family who are here for spring break.  We live far apart, so time together is not to be wasted!  I've also been working out in the yard a lot, enjoying the spring weather.   So, not enough time or energy for blogging.  But I'll be back in a few days.  In the meantime,  here are some of the pics from our trip to the Botanical Gardens.
  Hope you are enjoying the spring weather wherever you may be!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Happy Monday!

Happy Monday!  Just logged in to do a quick post, and I see that I'm up to 5 followers!  Woo-hoo!  Thanks to all of you, whether or not you hit the follow button or subscribe ( I have no idea how to know about who is doing that), or if you just stop by once in awhile.   Please take just a second, really, just a second, and CLICK HERE for something I really want you to know.  Then come on back and finish this post if you're up for it.

So, now that you know how glad I am to have you here, here's the next Monday Morning Staff Meeting.
First, the roundup from last week, then I'll tell you about my big lesson for the week:
Go somewhere new.  We went to two new parks and found some cool play areas.
Read something. 
We read several new books from our awesome re-opened library.
Explore something. 
We were going to explore the new library, but someone got sick, so we had to postpone.
Build something. 
We built more onto the tree fort with daddy.  Okay, so I just watched, but  3 out of 4 family members helped, so I say that counts. :)
Clean something. 
Hmm.... cleaned A LOT.  Some major stuff, some daily stuff.  My house looks so much better now, and I just want to do more!  (See mom, you were right.  Eventually I grew out of the messy stage.  It just took 38 years... )
Grow something.
Managed to keep my flat of Impatiens seedlings alive for another week.
Cook something. 
Didn't do any new recipes, but still cooked, so that's good enough.
Plant something.
Planted some stuff along our new path to SomeGirl's house.
Scout something.  Saved for next week, due to sickness.  

So, what was the big lesson from the week, I'm sure you're dying to know?  Well, you may or may not know that I guest posted over here last week for Fraddling Friday.  I spent the week thinking about how I was fraddling.  Fraddle is doing something someone else loves because they love it, and you love them.  Because I was thinking about it all week for that Friday post, I spent a lot of time thinking about something I wasn't looking forward to doing.  And I started telling myself to think about it with a different attitude.  I started telling myself, "Be thankful, not resentful."  I started saying it to myself in my head, Be THANKFUL, not resentful.   I am THANKFUL, not resentful.  And then I started to be thankful for it.  Thankful for the chance to do something that would really make the day of someone I love.  Thankful to be able to do that thing.  Thankful for the chance to share that thing with the person I love.  And I stopped resenting it.  The result was that I wasn't stressed out and resenting that thing the whole time, and instead had a nice day.  
There are two quotes that I really like about attitude.  The first, is by Winston Churchill who said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”  He was so right.   The other, is from Francesca Reigler, who said, 
 "Happiness is an attitude. 
We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. 
The amount of work is the same.”
My to do list for this week is going to stay simple.  Just two things, really.  
1. Spend time enjoying my sister and her family visiting.
2. Be positive about things, even things I don't like, and choose happiness over misery.  (That pretty much covers everything, if you think about it...)
I am choosing to be happy and strong.  How about you?  Is there something you could change your attitude about and make life happier for yourself this week? Leave me a comment and let me know.  I'd love to hear from you!

May you be blessed with a positive attitude, and the ability to see the bright side of things this week.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Come visit!

I'm guest posting today over at SomeGirlsWebsite for Fraddling Friday.   It's my first guest blogger post, so come visit me there and check it out, and let me know what you think.   I've been tweaking it all week, so it's a good one, I promise!

See you there.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Sunbeam to Warm You

St. Patrick's Day is has always been a special day for me, being part Irish.  There is a part of me that has always been fascinated by stories of Ireland, and the lush green country there.  Someday, I hope to go visit and explore it myself.  
In college, I met my future husband on St. Patrick's day.  So, in honor of the sixteenth anniversary of the day we first met, I've decided to share a traditional Irish blessing with you.

 May God grant you always...
A sunbeam to warm you, 
A moonbeam to charm you, 
A sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you. 
Laughter to cheer you. 
Faithful friends near you. 
And whenever you pray, 
Heaven to hear you.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!! 
May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back.  May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.  And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Encouraging Weeds

Who says weeds are weeds and not beautiful, bountiful flowers?  This is the question my son and I were talking about on the way home from school recently.
He: Mom, what kind of flower is that?
Me: It's just a weed honey.
He: No, not the yellow one.  The pretty purple ones.
Me: Those are just weeds, too.
He:  Why is it a weed? It's so pretty!  What makes it a weed?
At this, I flashed back to an almost identical moment from my childhood.  We had gone down to the family farm to visit my grandparents for a week during the summer.  It was a house without running water, no cable TV, and so we spent a lot of wonderful time outdoors.  One day, after walking through the fields collecting all the prettiest flowers I could find, I got back to the house and proudly presented them to my grandmother.  I asked about what kind of flowers they were.  She smiled, and told me they were weeds rather than wildflowers.  Not that she didn't appreciate me picking them for her, because she did.  And she was very kind about it, but I still remember the feeling on not understanding how things that were so beautiful could be considered worthless weeds.

Seems kind of unfair to me, that so many pretty flowers that grow quickly and spread easily in even the toughest conditions, are deemed "undesirable".  Dandelions for example.  I know many people who are constantly working to banish these "weeds" from their yards.  I think the yellow blossoms are actually quite cheery.  And the little white puffballs that they turn into are the stuff of magical childhood wishes.  So why the negative feelings about them?  Those purple 'weeds' that my son was admiring are particularly beautiful when a homeowner has let them take over the yard.  It's a truly gorgeous sea of purple flowers when they are spread across a lawn like that.  But they are considered undesirable.  Go figure.

I can't help but think that some people are treated exactly the same way.  Just because they are in the 'wrong' place.  Maybe they've lost their home and are looked down upon for living in their car or a shelter.  Maybe they simply live outside the boundaries of what we consider normal.  Maybe it's something else that sets them apart.  Everyone has value.  Everyone has something good to give the world.   It might not look like we expect it to, but it also might be so much better than we expect too.  We have to look deeply inside ourselves to find out what it is we have to share, and we have to be open to the gifts that others have to share as well.  What can we learn from someone who is growing and surviving, even in the toughest conditions?  A lot, I think, especially in our neatly manicured little worlds.

Come back soon for the other part of this post, when I'll fill you in on the encouraging part...
Wish Flowers....Encouraging weeds Wishes, part 2.

May you be blessed today and always
by the beauty that is all around us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Staff Meeting - Take Two...

Sometimes, it takes seeing yourself from someone else's eyes to realize something about yourself.  That's what happened this week.  I had two people tell me that my list from the Monday Morning Staff Meeting last week was scary.  I think one said it was scary, and the other said it stressed her out reading it.  Now, that list was a very reduced size list from what I would usually use as my to do list to set myself up for failure.  That list was my heavily-edited-to-just-one-or-two-things per area list.   Those two comment-makers would have had a heart attack if they knew what I wanted to write! I thought I was going pretty easy on myself.  And yet two people thought that it was scary and stressful.  So, it's time that maybe I really take an even longer, harder look at how whacked-out I am how I'm still being unrealistic in my expectations for myself.
Now, that being said, the list from last week did make a big difference in my week.  I felt a lot more focused, and on task, as long as I was getting something from the list accomplished each day.  I  didn't get everything done before Friday like I had hoped, but I also didn't beat myself up about it.  More of the list got done than not, and so I consider that a success.  I definitely found it helpful to sit down and have a 'meeting' with myself and plan a little.  But I do plan to rethink my expectations for myself, to be sure.

So, thank you girls, for the eye-opening comments.  I clearly need your perspectives.  This week is spring break, and so my list is going to be a little more focused on fun rather than work, but I'm hoping it's a lot more balanced, and not at all scary or stressful.  Since it's spring break, I'm going to consider the whole week an O.F.F. (official fraddling Friday) week.  Ten things for Ten Days without school. Ten ways to Fraddle (show love and spread joy).  Ten ways to live in the moment and enjoy time with my boys.  Here goes nothing:

Go somewhere new.
Read something.
Explore something.
Build something.
Clean something.
Grow something.
Cook something.
Plant something.
Investigate something.
Scout something.

  If we can make a game out of the 'cleaning something', then they will all be fun things too.  We'll probably be going somewhere new, to the Dallas Zoo, maybe taking the TRE to get there.  We're going to explore the newly reopened local library, build something at the Lego Store, plant some veggies for our garden, grow some of our seeds from last year, scout out new parks for the summer,  and investigate....well, I'll leave that open to my boys to decide.  So it could be anything from spiders to volcanoes to mud puddles.  But I know it will be fun.  And hopefully, this list was a lot less scary and stressful!  And I promise to work hard on keeping my next week's list unstressful too, even once we're back in the real world of school and work.

May you be blessed by taking it easy on yourself this week.  
You deserve a break!

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's an O.F.F. Day

I've declared Fridays to be 'O.F.F.' days.  That's short for Official Fraddling Fridays.

If you're new to fraddling, it simply means doing something for someone because they love it and you love them. It doesn't have to be complicated.  It could be as simple as letting the boys throw rocks in mud puddles.  (Is there anything more joyful for a little boy then mud?)  I think of fraddling as being present, being intentional, showing love, and spreading joy.  Check out SomeGirlsWebsite for more from the creator of Fraddling.

So, Fridays are now reserved, as much as possible, for Fraddle.  I'm aiming to get as much work done Monday-Thursday as I can, so that I can simply have fun fraddling on Fridays.  Maybe your schedule can't take a whole day for Fraddle.  But you can find time somewhere this week to show your love and give someone joy. 

It's easy.  It's fun.  And it's oh-so-rewarding.  You should try it!

May you find ways to bless someone
(and in the process be blessed yourself) 
with fraddle this week.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lessons from the Happy Monster Band

 Sometimes, lessons come from the most unexpected places.  Like the PlayHouse Disney lineup on the Disney channel.  My littlest is on the couch right now watching the Happy Monster Band.  From the kitchen, I hear one of their songs... "Practice Makes Progress".  Now, I have always said or heard, 'practice makes PERFECT'.  And since I have such perfectionist tendencies, I tend to want to either do it perfectly, or just scrap it and not even try.  This is a huge problem, and something that I'm working really hard to let go.  Like my friend, SomeGirl says, we are recovering perfectionists.  So, hearing this song 'Practice Makes PROGRESS' really struck me.  Here are just a few lines from the song:

It will help you be the best
practice makes progress
it will help you find success
(If you want to hear the whole thing, click the link 
and the song will be on the bottom right 
once the playhouse Disney page comes up. )

It's true, isn't it?  The whole point of us working on things, practicing things, whether it's yoga or cleaning & organizing, or eating right, is to make progress.  Do any of us really, truly, think we can achieve perfection? No.  We might aim for it, and I might expect it of myself, but I don't think it's actually possible. Actually, I know it's not possible.  None of us are perfect.  So that means I'm automatically set in a position for failure, at least in my head.  I like the idea of expecting progress instead.   Lately, instead of beating myself up about not reaching those crazy perfectionist goals, I've simply been telling myself that a little + a little + a little =  success.  It will add up and get you there.  

One of the other things that struck me came from a conversation with my friend, J., yesterday.   She and I talked about always feeling defeated, because we're always having something come up, and then we get off track and have to keep starting over.  It feels like we're endlessly starting over.  Which is depressing.  But, maybe we need to just rethink that.  Maybe it's just all in our perspective.  As long as we do keep starting over, we're that much closer to success.  As long as we don't give up when unexpected things come up, we'll stay on the right track simply because we do keep starting over.

I have a long way to go, but I can already see these little + little + little adding up.  My house is cleaner.  The kids area of the garage is organized now where they can just go out and grab something to play with, and have a spot to put it back.  (This is a huge deal now that it's starting to warm up outside.) My messy pit office floor is clear, and the couch isn't piled with boxes of stuff anymore.  That list that I made this week at my pretend  "staff meeting"?  It has really helped me focus on what to do.  SomeGirl told me it stressed her out to read it, and I can see that.  But for me, it's helping me to feel successful, because I didn't put any crazy time goals on there.  I'll just try to achieve those things this week sometime. It's also helping me feel successful, because as long as I'm doing something from that list, I'm on the right track.  Before, I was telling myself,  "Today I'll work on the office.  Or the kitchen.  Or the laundry."  So then, if I was working on laundry on the "office day" I'd feel like I was off track.  But it's all part of the bigger picture, the bigger job.  And aiming to have it done so that I can just do whatever on Friday with the boys is VERY motivating!

Things are clicking.  Things are adding up.  
Things are getting more balanced!  

   Yee-haw! (This is Texas, after all...)
Or, as my youngest just said,
"Yabba Dabba Scooby Dooby Doo!"

May you be blessed with seeing  
in things you are working on, too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Simple Joys

Do you ever take the time to look at the world through a child's eyes? To really think about the world the way they think about it?  Besides seeing everything from a much lower elevation, children have a really unique and simple way of looking at the world.   For them, everything is black or white, it's right or it's wrong, and it's all about justice and fairness.  Children are free, they love to help people, and the littlest thing can be the biggest adventure.

Children are simple.  Not easy, but simple.  Do what's right.  Be fair.  Show love.  See the world as the big adventure it is.   Pretty good advice, right?  So, how do we put that advice into practice? Good question.  It's something I'll be mulling over this week to be sure.

The song below is one of the few things that I actively recall learning in college.  Probably from the trauma of having to SING it for a grade in my musical education class.  (I can't carry a tune to save my life...).  But, I think that it's also probably the message in the song that's kept it in my brain for the last 15+ years.

"Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine in 1848. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
May you be blessed with the gifts of simplicity and freedom this week.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Morning Staff Meeting

One of the things I'm doing to find balance is reading some blogs on uncluttering and being more productive.  One of them suggested scheduling a twenty minute meeting with yourself to figure out what you really need to accomplish.  Now, granted, this was aimed at people who have so-called "real" jobs, but since I've already established here that I have multiple jobs, I'm adopting the idea.   I'm calling it my Monday Morning Staff Meeting, I've got my work boots on, and you're invited to tag along.

Ok, team, here's what needs to get accomplished this week, in no particular order:

Let's start with you, Office Manager.  Tackle that pile of paperwork on your desk and get it cleared off.  When you get done with that, I want you to get those two baskets of "to do" and "to file" stuff finally taken care of.  Get your email cleared out again too.
Housekeeping?  I know it's still raining and muddy out, but you've really got to get those floors mopped and vaccumed. Yes, I know they'll just be dirty again two minutes later, but do it anyway.  Finish getting the laundry done also please.
Yoga girl?  You need to get to the studio and get in at least three classes this week.  And start off the other days with fifteen minutes of practice too. I don't care how bad your asthma is making you feel, go anyway.  You'll feel better when you're through.
Head chef? You need to get the weeks menus planned out and get the shopping done.  Let's have at least a couple of slow cooker nights, so you can have the kitchen cleaned up before dinner.  Make sure you tell the dishwasher that she is not to leave without the kitchen being fulled cleaned at the end of each evening.
Faithful child? You need to put God and prayer time first everyday.  Once you've done that, the rest will fall easily into the right perspective.  Let's get through the end of chapter two in your study book this week, and don't forget to pray for those on your prayer list.
Nutrition lady?  You need to make sure you're eating from your healthy anti-inflammatory foods list.  Don't forget to drink lots of water and take those vitamins.
Mama bear?  Make sure you work with the boys on completing their chore lists without constant reminders.  And don't forget that it's your job to play with them and enjoy them everyday too!
Lady Gardener?  There's a lot of debris to get picked up in both the front and back once the rain lets up.  Let's try to also get the leaves cleaned out of those front flower beds too.  It will be time to plant soon!  If the weather doesn't clear up, at least get that worm composting bin started.
Girlfriend?  Don't forget about Talkin' Tuesday.  Not that TT would ever be forgotten, since it's one of the highlights of your week.
Wife? Make sure you do something nice for your hubby this week.  Just something little to show him how much he's appreciated and loved.  Plan something for Friday night when the kids are at Nana's.  Maybe do some more anniversary planning too.
Dual blogger?  Let's get some blogging done each day, and avoid the Talkin' Tuesday hangover this week.  Maybe catch up on the drafts that are started for the boys, and then keep the balance blog updated daily.
Inner self? Set aside at least one hour this week to just do something that you love that brings you joy.  Just for you.

And finally, remember that Fridays are O.F.F.  days (Official Fraddling Fridays).   With Friday being an O.F.F. day, we need to get this to do list done so that Friday can be just about showing love and spreading joy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mama, You've Got My Support Too

I've been thinking a lot this weekend about this new mama that is a good friend of a friend.  I don't want to use her real name here, because I don't really know her well, so I'll call her Brielle (it's a Modern English name meaning strength of God...kind of pretty, don't you think?).   Anyway, Brielle is a new mama.  She just brought home her new adopted daughter.  Now, she's not a brand new mama, in the sense that this isn't her first child, but she's a new mama in that she's just brought her precious baby home.

This precious baby daughter is also the sister of Brielle's other adopted daughter.  What a blessing, right?  To be able to not only love and care for and rejoice in the blessing of a new child, but to also be able to keep two biological sisters together.  I had heard that Brielle was hoping for this to happen.  And I was overjoyed to hear that she'd been blessed in this way.

It has been a tough year for Brielle.  She lost her mother this year, unexpectedly, I believe.  She's had to deal with learning to live without that support and love.  I haven't had to experience that yet, so I can only imagine her grief. And even though I can't really comprehend what that's like, my heart goes out to her.  I was glad to hear that the new baby was here, to bring her some much deserved love and joy.

Then, I heard the bad news.  Unfortunately, not everyone in Brielle's life is happy about the new baby.  Isn't that sad?  A new life, new joy, everyone should be filled with happiness and excitement, not planning an intervention to tell Brielle....whatever they think is wrong with it I guess.  I can't even imagine how someone could say there is something wrong with taking in and loving a helpless little newborn.  That it could in any way be wrong to bring your daughter's sister into your family.  I just can't comprehend it.

I'm sure her loved ones mean well.  Maybe their concerns stem from the loss of her mother, or maybe they come from the fact that Brielle has more than the average family of two adults and two kids. Sometimes I look at families with more than two kids and think, "Wow.  How do they DO that?".  I know that people sometimes look at these families as if there is something 'wrong' or 'crazy' with having more than the average number of kids.

Here is what I have to say to that:  I have chosen the two kids and two parents route.  It's right for us, although I wouldn't necessarily mind having more kids.  It's just that I don't have the will to go through all the paperwork to adopt, and I am positive that my body couldn't handle the hormone ride of pregnancy again. (I lost most of my mind the first two times, never really got it back, and I might just come out a vegetable if I went through it again...LOL).  But I can't help but look at my two boys, and feel all the blessings and joy that come from them, and wonder if I'm not the crazy one for not having more.  Who would turn down an abundance of joy and blessings?  No thanks, I've got enough.  Don't give me any more good stuff.  Doesn't sound very smart, now does it?

So, although none of this is any of my business, I just want to say to Brielle, "Mama, you've got my support."   I'm on your side, and I'm praying for you and this wonderful new addition to your family.  I'm praying for you to stay strong, to be filled with joy and happiness, and to cast away any doubts that might come your way.   I pray for that intervention to turn the tables on your loved ones, and become an intervention for them, so that they might better understand your heart and support you.  Most of all, I pray that you are all able to get on the same page, a family in harmony and at peace.

May God give you...
For every storm a rainbow, 
for every tear a smile,
for every care a promise 
and a blessing in each trial. 
For every problem life sends, 
a faithful friend to share,
for every sigh a sweet song 
and an answer for each prayer.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happiness Is...

I was thinking tonight about the things that make me happy...

Happiness is..... husband and my boys
...a dark, quiet room, and my comfy bed with high threadcount sheets
...fabulous friends to talk with and be encouraged by
...snuggling with my boys before they are too big and too old
...the first hopeful flowers of spring
...taking photographs of the things I love
...a wicked thunder and lightning storm
...a three year old who can tell you he's going to throw up AND make it to the bathroom
...grandparents who love to spend time with my boys
...a rare date day with my husband

...a MacBook, and time to blog
...scrapbooking with the girls, so my boys have loads of great memories of their lives to look through and remember
...Nana nights
...budding trees after long dreary cold winter days
...a dvr full of my favorite shows, and a quiet night to watch them back to back awesome hot yoga class
...days at the park
...sunshine and blue skies with fluffy white clouds
...a dog who is loyal and loving no matter how much he's ignored
...using the internet to keep in touch with people who I would have certainly lost touch with

...beautiful unexpected snowstorms
...finding and exploring my faith in God
...reading my Google reader lineup of inpsirational and motivational blogs
...sleeping in past 8am
...a clean and organized house
...teaching my kids how to give to the less fortunate, and seeing how excited they are to help others
...laughing with my husband...over whatever...
...having a beautiful yard in which to work, and play, and just enjoy.... my own mini park
...the look on my son's face when he looks at me with complete bliss, just because I'm there...
...the sound of my littlest saying, for the umpteenth time, "hi, mom" (His version of I love you)

...blogging about the crazy things my boys say and do, so that they won't be forgotten
...empty laundry hampers
...dinner in the crockpot by 9am
...eating out when there are already dishes to catch up with in the sink
...having a mother in law you love, and get along with, and enjoy spending time with
...finding (controlled) ways to allow the boys to explore their passion for destruction
...grilling out on a warm summer night
...having fried rice for dinner (because hubby cooks!)
...breakfast for dinner, it reminds me of my wonderful grandmother
...Friday afternoon Happy Hour (friends, snacks, bikes, trikes, and mommy talk in the driveway)

...having wonderful neighbors just across the street only a mile down the road from my parents, and just a few more from my MIL
...restorative yoga (it's better than a nap!)
...fraddling: (surprising my boys with something they'll love, just because)
...bedtime stories with my boys
...playgroup friends to keep both my boys and I sane and get us out of the house
...quiet days when both boys are at school and I can work uninterrupted
...a good book, and time to read it
...a good school, and great teachers, just down the street
...quiet talks with my oldest on morning walks to school

There are many, many more things I count as blessings.   May you be as blessed as I have been.

How do you answer the question:  
Happiness is...?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don't Look Over Your Shoulder!

I just wanted to tell you, yes, YOU.  Don't look over your shoulder, I'm really talking to YOU!  I just wanted to tell you thank you for being here.  For coming to read.  You being here, and reading this, makes me think more, write more, and blesses me more.  Whether I know you or not, whether I know you're even here or not, You Bless Me.  Thank you.  I hope I can return the favor.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Yoga as Worship

I started this blog to have a way to see my progress, both with looking for balance, and yoga.  Mostly for yoga though.  I wanted to have a way to look back and see how far I'd come, and how it had helped.  I know it will help, simply because of how wonderful and refreshed I feel after a class.  Not so much during class, because it kicks my out-of-shape butt, but at the end, and after.... I feel A-maz-ing.  Just incredible.  The feeling usually lasts all day.

Now, notice I say I started out with those intentions.  But, clearly, this has become equally, if not more, about my search for balance and my relationship with God.  Because here, I can write the things I'm too afraid to say out loud to people, as wrong as that may be.  And I'm realizing how much I need this outlet for that side of me!

However, I don't actually see the two things, God and yoga, as separate, or opposing, or whatever the rest of the world may think.  I have always been a person who doesn't feel very connected to God in church.  I know, I know.  How can I say that?  Well, hang on and let me explain before you decide to stone me.  Church is okay.  I learn from it.  I'm uplifted by it.  But it's not where I feel closest to God.  I have always felt closest to God when I am out in nature.  Out in His Creation, I see the miracles of all He created, all around me.  I see his touch in the leaves on the trees, hear it in the wind, smell it in the flowers, admire it in the sunset.  That is where I feel connected to Him.

When my oldest was around two, we were out in LA with my parents, visiting my brother.  Mom and Dad went out to dinner with some friends, and I decided to hang back at the condo with my little one.  We ended up walking down to sit on the beach and watch the sunset.  It was a wonderful evening.  Quiet and peaceful. As we walked down to the beach, I remember thinking how I wished that there were shells to collect on the beaches, like there are in Galveston.  It's one of my favorite things to do...look for pretty shells on the beach.  But there just aren't any on the California beaches usually.

At this time in my life, I was just starting to come back to my faith after a long, long, LONG period of doubt.  I mean, a really long time.  As my little one and I found our way onto the beach, we saw that it was just covered with dozens and dozens of shiny, smooth, black stones.  I'd never seen anything like them on any beach.   They were beautiful.  So we sat together on the sand, and watched the waves and the sunset, and collected these really cool rocks.  And as I watched my son dig in the sand with the sun setting behind him, I felt so connected to God.  So in tune with Him.  So believing in Him!  It was a somewhat surprising but oh-so-joyful feeling.   And I was so grateful for every moment.  It's one of those times that I can recall with such clarity, that the joy comes right back along with the memory.  We took home a small pocketful of those rocks to remember the evening.

The next day, we went back down to the beach again, hoping to walk and collect a few more rocks.  There was not a single one on the beach, anywhere.  They were completely gone.  If I hadn't saved a few the night before, I might have thought I'd imagined them.  And I can't help but feel that God put those rocks there just for me.  Call me crazy if you want, but He totally used that evening to get through to me again.  And I finally listened!

So this is why I say I don't feel closest to him in church.  Church is good.  But nature is better.  His creation is better.  And now, I've realized that yoga is another way for me to feel closer to Him, and thankful, and aware.  There is no one else in between us. No pastor. ( I love Pastor Mike!)  No choir ( I love our choir!) No having to greet and say hello to dozens of people (who are all very nice, but did I mention I'm an introvert, and I mean INTRO-vert, and that really just drains me?).    In nature, and during yoga, it's just me and God.   Period.  Me being thankful to Him.  Him filling me with peace, love, strength, hope, or whatever I need most that day.

When I started to write this post, I thought it would be about how yoga doesn't have to be new age, or Hindu, doesn't have to be anti-christian.  And I did a little research on the web, and yikes!   There are some preachy and judgemental people out there!  Wow!  You "christians" are the ones who drove me into that long, long, long period of doubt.  Because it was a long time before I learned that God and religion are NOT the same thing.  Religion is what man brings to it, however he might choose to twist it to fit his own....whatever.  I'm not going there.  I hate religion.  I love God.  And if it comes down to a choice, I'm going to ask myself everytime what would God & Jesus say or do over what do humans and religions say to do.

Jesus was always freaking people out.  Doing things that "weren't allowed".   Hanging out with tax collectors and prostitutes.  Maybe in 2010 he'd be hanging out at the yoga studio, who knows?  I do know that he wouldn't be worried about what people were saying he should or shouldn't do.   He'd be worried about what was in my heart.   He wouldn't see yoga as me in worship of myself (because trust me, when I see myself in the mirror I'm not going to worship that image!)  but instead he would see in my heart that I am in awe and worship and awareness of Him.  He would know that I am acknowledging that I can't do it all on my own, and I need Him.  He would know that I am thankful for every cell of my body that is able to practice these crazy poses, thankful for getting a tiny bit better each time, thankful for the good health I have, thankful for the chance to be still. 

"Be still, and know that I am God."  
Psalm 46:10.  
That has got to be my favorite verse in the bible.  So powerful.  So difficult to do.

Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart
1 Samuel 16:7

So, yes, for me, yoga IS worship. And I know He knows what's in my heart, so I'm okay with saying that. It is my chance to spend 90 minutes taking care of the body God has blessed me with, and also being still and loving Him.    

In the words of Jesus:
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 
Matthew 5:8

Do you know what? There are a few times, when I've had a really, really good practice, really focused the whole time on being still, and being aware of Him, when at the end, I felt as connected to him as I did that night on the beach.   I can feel His peace and love.  It's incredible. It's joyful.  It's priceless.

Joyful Thanksgiving.   Is there any other workout that can leave you filled with that feeling?  That's a workout I can keep doing.  That I actually look forward to doing.

May you be blessed by the stillness and quiet, 
so that you might have a chance to practice 'knowing God'.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Recipe for Balance

More signs of hope for spring!  I've had several little crocus bulbs poking their heads up despite the cold, cloudy, dreary, yucky, miserable, will-it-ever-be-over-and-warm-up-again weather!  

They make me smile, 
make me happy, 
make me hopeful.
The pictures above and below are how they looked this morning:
Then, this afternoon, the sun came out and hope bloomed:
Those are the same two flowers, both photographs taken today.  Amazing what a little time, and hope (and sun!) can do to change the way things look!
They may be hiding in the leaves, Mother Nature's version of I Spy or Where's Waldo, but they are there if you are just willing to look.  Hope is always there, if you're just willing to look and to believe. It may still be waiting beneath the soil for the right time to pop up and bloom, but it is there.  Embrace hope.  Do not get discouraged.   Be hopeful.


Several months ago, when I first started to redecorate and clean out my pit of an office, I hung up a large cross on the wall.  In the middle, there is a circle with the word HOPE inscribed upon it.  My husband looked at it, and said, "What do you need hope for?"  And I looked at him, and thought "What do I not need hope for?"  I need hope that I can achieve all the things on this huge 'to-do' list that I've given myself.  I need hope that I can get myself (and my life in general) balanced out and happy.  That I can finally get this stupid office cleaned out!  Now, this pit of an office is no exaggeration.  It has been overflowing with stuff since before we moved to Texas.  In Oklahoma, the room was about 1/2 the size, but we had two computer desks, my husband's drum set and music gear, his electronics junk,  and all of the office bookkeeping/paperwork crammed in that little room.  It was not the least bit organized.   When we moved, the office got bigger, but it also became the dumping ground for whatever hadn't been unpacked yet.  Or stuff that we didn't know where to put yet, or.....whatever we didn't want people to see and trip over.  Throw it in the office and close the door.  Two and a half years later, I finally decided enough was enough.  I'm going to get that office cleaned out and organized if it kills me!  I'm working on it.  And it's slow going.  But I'm thinking about it from a more balanced perspective.... a little, plus a little, plus a little more, will eventually end up with the office/retreat that I have in my head.  I will get there.   I have hope!  

It's a little bit like yoga.  I can't do half the poses.  I can't balance on one foot with my fingers wrapped around my big toe and my leg out straight in front of me.  Heck, I can barely balance on one leg!  But every time I practice, I get just a little bit closer to my goal.  And it's okay to be working on it.  To be practicing.  I'm giving myself permission to not be perfect all at once, but to let it be a process, a journey.  Toward balance, not perfection. 

I put that cross up on the wall of my unfinished office, to remind myself that I'm not on this journey alone.  

I pray that God, who gives hope, will bless you with complete happiness and peace 
because of your faith. And may the power of the Holy Spirit fill you with hope. 
Romans 15:13 
Contemporary English Version

Last week, my husband said to me, "When you finally get that office finished, you know you will have reached the end of your quest."  Well, what he said was better than that, but I can't remember the exact words he used.  They were both funny and so true.   And he's right.  That office is the symbol of my quest for balance.  And I am definitely still searching!  

For now there are faith,
   hope, and love.
   But of these three,
   the greatest is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 
Contemporary English Version

Sounds like a great recipe for balance to me.  A little faith, a little hope, and a little love.  I'll have to keep that mantra in my head!

May you be blessed with faith, hope, & love, 
and maybe even a tiny bit of balance!