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To decide or not decide. I’m an expert at thinking things over for an indiscriminate amount of time. There’s freedom in deciding not to decide. I can dip my toe in the water and then take time to think some more. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow…

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“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”  William Shakespeare

Commitment

Next month my husband Eric and I will have been together for twenty-eight years. We’ve reached a point in our relationship where I’m thinking something, and he’ll suddenly bring up the subject I was thinking of. Or we speak the same sentence at exactly the same time–like the other night at dinner which really freaked out our daughter. “Creepy.” We know what irritates each other and we know how to resolve conflicts fairly easily or in other words, Eric knows exactly what to say to appease me. “Would you like me to call someone to repair the fence or would you like to?”  Translation, I care that you’re telling me about the broken fence and I’m willing to help make sure it gets repaired. He calls it his “training.” Really what it is is seeing things from another’s point of view and not fighting against it but accepting it and working toward better communication. It takes years of practice!

Effort

When I was a teen, I knew I wanted to get married one day however I made a promise to myself that I’d never live an unhappy life with someone. I’d get divorced before I’d accept unhappiness. What I didn’t understand was the amount of effort relationships take. In my young adult mind marriage was happily ever after, white picket fence not: oh my god if you don’t stop playing that guitar while I’m trying to talk to you I’m going to scream! The I love you, but sometimes I really need my space was confusing to me. Luckily, I had a group of friends who taught me that some days I had to be committed to the commitment. I could give myself time to refocus and then talk things through with Eric. Ultimately it was our love for each other, the two of us wanting to be committed to the commitment, and our effort toward the relationship that has kept us best friends, husband, and wife, for all these years.

Effort can be a huge pain in the ass because it’s work. What we’re willing to work for, what matters most, when effort is put forth for a length of time, success follows. Whether it’s a relationship, a career, school, exercise, eating healthy, any goal we set takes continuous effort.

“…a surplus of effort can overcome a deficit of confidence.” Sonia Sotomayer

 

This new year as I think about my goals I’m aware of the work that must follow. It’s the work that makes the journey great. It’s the work that stretches us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to create what we wish for. It’s the work that makes us stronger by overcoming difficult days.  Every day we make choices. Those choices bring us closer or further away from our goals. What we want to be, what we dream for our lives isn’t in the stars it’s in our hearts. We hold our destiny inside ourselves.

 

“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.” – Diane von Furstenberg

 

Happy 2018! I hope you make all your dreams come true!

There have been many lessons I’ve learned over the years, but one of the greatest is the importance of following your own path.

Your path is yours and yours alone. Don’t follow someone else’s path because it’s what they want you to do or compare yourself to others. When you’re brave enough to do whatever it is you’re supposed to do, you will be fulfilled. Living a life of purpose, your purpose, no matter how much education or money you have leads to feelings of contentment and joy. When you’re happy with where you are in life, you’ll be happy for others. When you’re frustrated with where you are in life, you’ll be jealous of others. You’ll feel the world owes you because the hole that’s inside you needs to be filled. Fill it and watch what happens.

When you follow your own path, not knowing if you’ll get to where you’re going, it requires bravery, strength, failure, and commitment; the exact things you need to be successful. In Cheryl Strayed’s  words: “We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. Blood is involved.” (BRAVE ENOUGH by Cheryl Strayed)

If you don’t learn how to climb, you’ll never appreciate the view. Or even if you do, once you fall, how will you ever have the courage to begin again? If life is too easy how will you learn to rise when you fall?

And for all my high school and college students who I talk to who continually stress because either they are unsure of their path or their path is nothing like their peers, Ms. Strayed has more words for you: “You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards.”  Be what you want to be not what you think will impress others. If you need to impress because you believe it will earn you respect then guess what? It’s that same hole inside of you that whispers you’re not enough. Respect is earned through caring and kindness. Think of the people who matter the most to you. Do you care about them, respect them because of their title or because they made you feel special? A few weeks ago I was subbing and some high school students started talking negatively about their teacher. I asked them to stop. They did. Then one very smart young lady said, “He just hasn’t figured out that he can’t demand respect, he has to earn it.”

When you follow your path it isn’t about wanting respect from others it’s about doing something that has meaning to you–helping others. It’s about immersing yourself in work because more times than not it brings you joy. Finding what it is you want to do with your life can be stressful. Ask any high school or college student. The key is to listen only to yourself and to be brave enough to journey on that path even if it doesn’t take you in the same direction as everyone else. Be brave. Be you!

 

A Christmas I will Always remember

I don’t write too much about my husband, Eric. Here are three things that tell a bit about him: 1. I nicknamed him The Peace Ruiner, and he’s quite proud of it.  His perfect day would begin with Metallica blaring from his alarm, but I nixed that back in our twenties. 2. He’s happy ALL the time! Every day is a great day that he tries to make even better which is really a wonderful way to live. His positive energy inspires me. 3. He’s as stubborn as me! We are two firstborns that like to have our way. When our power is focused for good, we can accomplish great things. When it’s focused against each other, we’re two storms colliding. It’s not pretty.

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I woke up in 2003

Before Thanksgiving Day 2003 I had been asleep, going through the rise and fall of daily life like waves on an ocean. I believed the key was to make my children’s lives better than my own and to create the fairy tale, the one with the white picket fence, big house, and happy family. Back then I had three major goals: Have a house that my children could call their childhood home, stress education so my kids would go to college, and educate myself and have a career so I wouldn’t be dependent on anyone. I finished my degree, we built the house and my husband, and I set high expectations for our children’s academics. We fell into the rhythm of early mornings, school, after-school activities, bed, and repeat.

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Just as a seed needs sunshine and rain to grow so do we.

Pain is the rock in our shoe daring us to take a step.

Joy is the feather that floats through our veins willing us to take flight.

Pain is like blinders on a horse restricting vision.

Joy is imagination run wild.

Pain is the hurdle challenging us to jump.

Jump! Run! Fly! Grow!