~DECIDE~

DECIDE, at this very moment, what is ‘most IMPORTANT’ and begin to celebrate it on a daily basis, hour by hour, and moment by moment. Celebrate it with your words and your actions as you go through each day. When we do celebrate the ‘most important’ in our lives, we begin to truly live, as our focus is where are soul intends us to be. Our inner voice is speaking to us telling us what we value and once we celebrate it moment by moment, hour by hour, and day by day it becomes our priority in our life.

Each day I do 10 things that encourage me to be a better person and to build my life and build those around me. One of those is daily training. This morning I was watching a video of a man who survived a plane crash. He said as he was sitting in his seat waiting and preparing for impact he thought of what was ‘most important’ to him.  ‘Most important’ to him were his wife and his son and his daughter. He immediately pulled out his phone and recorded a video so that they would know how much he loved them all and how important they were to him if he did not survive the crash.  He survived and it was in that lesson that he made a video for all to learn from.

The crash changed his life. It was an awakening for him. I have had a similar awakening. One that challenged me to realize the ‘most important’ in my life and I am stronger, more courageous and more alive than I have ever been.

I now celebrate what is ‘most important’ to me each and every day. And, in doing so I have become more focused, more filled with love, and most of all more filled with gratitude for the life I have and the blessings I have in it.  My ‘most important’ list is more than one thing. It is the core of who I am and who I am meant to be.

‘Most important’ to me is God and the gift of eternal life He promises us. ‘Most important’,  is also peace and the genuineness through being the person God intended for me to be. It is being loving and kind to all. ‘Most important’ is my husband and children and their wellbeing, the deep friendships I have in my life, and the people who have inspired and mentored me to be the best me. ‘Most important’ is all my extended family including my brothers and sisters and their families and my cousins and aunts and uncles. I wish them all happiness, peace, and contentment.

I am thankful I have found all three of these: happiness, peace, and contentment. I am thankful for my most recent journey and season that took me to a place; a hard place,  where I was reminded to focus and celebrate each and every day the ‘most important’ in my life.

As we begin our Easter season on Sunday, I am embracing this opportunity for renewal that Easter brings us each year and will remember to decide each day to wake up and put my focus on my ‘most important’-my ‘why’ I am living my life.

Wishing everyone a very blessed Easter and the opportunity to renew and refresh your soul.

FINDING A NEW PURPOSE….

As I was growing up, I knew exactly what made me happy and what gave me purpose and a great sense of fulfillment in my life. My purpose was to help people and to continue to grow positively in life by allowing myself to bloom in every season. I didn’t learn to truly bloom and become the person I am today until early adulthood but I had the desire to do so as a child. I felt deep satisfaction in helping others in any capacity. And, that was how I discovered my purpose. I couldn’t think of a better calling than to help people to grow, to learn, to live and thrive and to fulfill their needs. It is something I am quite passionate about.

Lately, though, I am finding it harder to bloom. Life has become more complicated and my decisions and actions affect others more profoundly now. In addition to life becoming more complicated, this season has brought strong winds and unbearable soil making it hard to bloom and grow within it. As I muddled through this process of redefining my purpose, I thought back on when I was a child and some of the significant role models in my life that helped me discover my purpose.

There were a few people that I saw as role models when I was young. Among them were my Mom and my Dad.

They were hard workers…they worked much harder than many people and they accomplished so much. They made a huge impact on their family and this world through all that they did. Their example still lives on in those lives they touched, those very lives that learned because of my parents actions and their expressions of lives well lived. The underlying fundamental value I saw growing up was the value in ‘trying’ and ‘doing’ and that is what they showed me. Because it is in ‘trying’ and ‘doing’, that we manifest the things we value and  how we bloom into the very person we were designed to be. Many family members today duplicate the things that my parents valued simply by watching and learning through their example.

I want to be remembered in this way. I want my gifts to shine through in all that I do and I want to make a positive impact on all those I meet simply through my actions and my expressions of life. I want every person I encounter to feel better simply because I showed them I cared and valued them, or because I helped them learn, grow, and thrive, or they too saw the value in what I was doing. I want to continue the purpose I had as a child and a young adult. I want to empower others with each encounter, to grow with them and to help them grow. I want to encourage others to learn each day and to live each day, each moment and each encounter. I want to be able to daily celebrate with others their accomplishments as well as my own. And, I want to be able to do all this even in the face of adversity, the strong winds and the unbearable soil that sometimes comes with a season in life. I want to find the good and the positive in each and every day and use that good to build and encourage others.

And, at the end of the day, I will have fulfilled my purpose if I can say, I have helped someone to navigate life a little better by something I did or said.  To impact someone’s life in that way provides me with both passion and gratitude and a strong sense of purpose.

~ MY PURPOSE REDEFINED~

HAppY BiRTHday Dr. SEUSS! OH, THE LESSONS We’ve LEARNED!

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. He is my favorite author. Through his writings, he taught us and continues to teach ALL OF US about life.

Here are a few of his many lessons. These are my favorites.

TO READ….”the more that you read the more things you’ll know”
TO TRY…..”that’s how you succeed”
TO IMAGINE…..”and, that allows you to laugh at life’s realities”
TO SIEZE THE DAY….”steer in any direction you choose”
TO BE YOU…..”now isn’t that pleasant”
TO NEVER GIVE UP….”only you can control your future”
TO THINK AND WONDER….”think and wonder and wonder and think”
TO BE HAPPY….”don’t be pushed by your problems, be led by your dreams”
TO CARE….”unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. it’s not.”
TO RESPECT – “A person’s a person no matter how small”
TO LOVE…..”you know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep”
TO BE RESILENT AND FLEXIBLE…..”if things start happening, don’t worry”
TO CHERISH THE MOMENTS…”sometimes we don’t know a moment’s value until its a memory”
TO SPEAK UP……”every voice counts”
TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR TROUBLES….”now my troubles are going to have troubles with me”

HAVE A HAPPY SEUSS FILLED DAY!!!!

Not ‘Feeling’ Christmas This Year?

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For those of you who are having a different kind of Christmas this year because you have suffered a loss of loved ones, or a loss of a job, or health issues, or a relationship you thought was there and wasn’t…. here is a little piece of advice.

Remember, that your Christmas doesn’t have to be like Christmas’s before or the Christmas you see on television or social media or the Christmas you see your friends having.

Your Christmas gets to be YOURS.  It gets to be whatever you want to create it to be. Make it what you NEED it to be this year.

Making it what you need could mean helping someone else who is having a hard Christmas, or keeping things simple so you don’t feel overwhelmed, or taking a trip to make some new memories, or focusing on those you love instead of the gifts under the tree, and soaking in the peace and joy you see in others.

Whatever you make of this Christmas, make it so that when you look back on it, the memories you have will bring you a sense of contentment that you did all that you could manage this year and it was ENOUGH.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND WISHES FOR A BRIGHT AND LOVE FILLED NEW YEAR!

 

 

TODAY, TOMORROW…..LIVING

What’s the difference between a  life and living a life? Other than one is a state of being and the other is an action.  Well, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and when it’s my time to leave this earth, before I go, I’d like to be able to say that I was always living. I was given a life and it is truly up to me to LIVE IT. I want to be able to say that I SPENT EACH and every day LIVING.

  • I want to wake up each day and soak it in, the entire day, make the most of it, as if I was sitting in the sun and could feel it’s warmth and brightness soak into my body.
  • I want to spend the time with the people I truly love and don’t worry about trying to have relationships with those that don’t value me. I want to form many  deep relationships and enjoy their company as often as I can. I don’t want to lose a minute of all this life has to offer me and all I have to offer it.
  • I want to listen more deeply, see more deeply, feel more deeply, and love more deeply as I am a sensitive soul and don’t want to take those abilities for granted ever again.
  • I want to experience the world and everything it has. And, I want to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY. I want to be awake to beauty around me, the trees, the sky, the architecture of nature, the people who want to be a part of my life and my circle. Have you ever truly looked at a tree when it has no leaves? It has grown in many different directions and mostly those directions are upward and outward. I too want to grow upward and outward to understand life and to live.
  •  I want to be a thinker in this world and I want to learn from everything and everyone around me. I want to develop a deep understanding of people and a deep understanding of life whether I am in line in a store, in church, in a deep and meaningful conversation with a friend, or sitting on the patio looking at the architecture of the trees. What I want most is to, in the end, know that I embraced everything that life had to offer and that I didn’t waste even a minute on trying to be something or trying to be someone I am not. We are all unique and I love my uniqueness and everything I am.
  • I want to wake up each and every day and embark on a new journey…a journey that never wastes another minute. A journey that uses the gifts I have been given.
  • YES! Today, Tomorrow, and the rest of my life, I will not take anyone that wants to be in my life for granted and I will embrace life and soak in everything it has to offer, the people, the beauty of nature, the abundance of knowledge and the excitement of learning. TODAY, TOMORROW and each day thereafter, I will wake up to a brand new beautiful world to learn and to explore. I am thankful for the gift of life so that I can spend it LIVING!

LET BYGONES BE BYGONES….

You know that old saying, let bygones be bygones…..Well, that is what tonight’s blog is all about.

I haven’t done any blogging for over a month and there is a really good reason why.  I couldn’t gather my thoughts, my heart and mind were consumed with worry and with grief and then came the sadness.

I have learned a lot in two months.  At the beginning of October, I went out to see my Dad to help him downsize his home and figure out ways for him to continue to age in place.  We never got to do either of those.  He passed away the night after I got there.  It was just he and I at his house and he collapsed and was gone in seconds.  He had made it known that he did not want to be resuscitated and I (we) honored that.  Forty days after my Dad passed away my brother passed away.  And, it is my brother’s passing that has prompted me to write this blog tonight.

Last year, my brother encouraged me to start writing….to start journaling as I was going through a series of surgeries.  It was some of the best advice I have gotten.  Little did I know that he would be adding many pieces of advice through the next year and a half. The passing of both these men hit all of us hard and it is in the lessons that they left behind that I am now taking solace.

These lessons begin here. The first is to love with all your heart.  Both of them loved their brides’ with a strong, caring, loving, and heartfelt love. And, they loved their families so very much. The second lesson is to live life to the fullest.  My Dad had many hobbies and projects going most of his life.  He and my Mom took us on many adventures. My brother was the same way. He spent time with family and friends, took his family to see different places, loved the outdoors and spending time in it, and spent time on his hobbies.  They both worked hard so that they and their families could live life to the fullest.  They were also both very generous, spiritual and faith filled men. It is through these examples that I see the lessons to learn.  In the end, I had wonderful relationships with both of them and it allowed me a window inside where I discovered what was most precious to each of them.  My Dad and I talked just about every Tuesday evening.  I named those calls Tuesday’s with Dad. Like the book, Tuesday’s with Morrie. I am so thankful for those phone calls and thankful for the conversations my brother and I had with each other. And, it is those conversations that have led me to write this piece.

My brother and I started texting and sending emails back and forth over the course of almost two years. He taught me many things during that time and the biggest one was “let bygones be bygones”.  The reality of this saying did not hit me until just a few days ago. You see, I was finally able to put all the pieces together as if I was looking at a puzzle and had just placed that final piece and, that’s how it hit me….I saw the whole picture.

Over the years we have all fought back and forth about this or that. After all, there are seven of us and then also my Mom and Dad. It was bound to happen for us to not see eye to eye on things all the time.  When there was one such occasion recently before we lost my brother, he and I were discussing it. And, me, being the person I am was trying to find a way to fix things….to be the peacemaker. When he said to me, Diane, maybe it’s best to let bygones be bygones and to live each day to the fullest and to focus on the important things.  You know, it wasn’t clear to me until the other day when I fully realized that here was a man that was nearing his last days and he had the infinite wisdom to realize that the silly little things we disagree over don’t mean anything in the reality of life. What really matters is that we love each other.  Sure, we will always have times where we don’t completely agree with someone else but it is such a small part of what we are here on Earth for and it is such a small part of our lives.

We are here to love, to build relationships with others, to be good to others, to be generous with our time and our treasures as these two men were, to use our gifts, to learn how to be the best person we can be before God calls us home.  And, to find the good in others, to encourage others to be the best they can be and to give them the tools to navigate life well and to the fullest. Over these last two years, my brother taught me all these things and he also taught me how to be strong and how to love his family as he loved them and how to be of service to others  And, I am so thankful to him for taking the time out of his last years here to help me grow and become a stronger, more loving, more giving, and forgiving person and to let those bygones be bygones and to let the past stay in the past where it belongs and most of all TO SEIZE EACH AND EVERY DAY AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT. THANKS MARK for all the life lessons and for all your encouragement.

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T LET IT SLIP AWAY!!!!

There is a song I heard a few months ago while watching an International Soccer Team.  The song is called ‘The Nights’.  I immediately bought it because of it’s powerful message.

In it the father tells his son: “go venture beyond the shores, don’t let it slip away, one day you leave this world behind so live a life you will remember”.  It’s message hit home as my dad and I talked last Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.  He and Mom taught us how to live lives where we’ve ventured beyond the shores. He had so many stories to tell about his life and our lives together as a family and I shared my memories with him.

There  are many memories that hold a special place in my mind.  We had a childhood filled with adventures right at home, trips around the country, life on a farm and in many different cities that bubbled over with culture. He has stories of living on a farm with 10 brothers and sisters, driving a taxi cab, being a pilot, and being an engineer.  He has vivid memories of being a husband, of being a father, and being a friend. We have memories of family reunions where I now have friendships with cousins that live adventurous lives now as well. Our memories are intertwined and that connects us no matter the distance.

I am writing about this today because I am finding that the memories are starting to slip away from Dad and he is finding it difficult.  Our memories are our identities and when we lose those memories….we can lose our sense of who we are and our sense of purpose in life.

You see, my Mom and my Dad, well, they made a life worth living.  Dad and I relive our memories over and over again when we talk so that he doesn’t lose them. It reminds us of who we were and who we are, and our purpose in life.

Brad and I have our memories because we too chose to live lives worth living, we chose to live them with the people we love, and we chose to teach our children to venture beyond the shores and pursue their dreams and to have their adventures.  I am thankful that Mom and Dad taught us this way of life….a life beyond the shores….we have learned so much, loved so much and seen so much and as we get older not only do the memories become more powerful, but they become the very things that console us as we age.  So, venture beyond the shores, don’t hesitate, celebrate, have bonfires in the backyard, take more trips, have family reunions, experience the outdoors, climb mountains, find your passions, take pictures, go after your dreams and make a new memory each day.  DON’T let it slip away…….

I AM SPOILED!

IMG_0923The first few years of my life began on a farm.  There are many lessons learned on a farm but the biggest lesson I remember is that everything is fresh and if things don’t stay that way the rest of your life, you may find yourself yearning and searching for those freshly harvested foods. We had fresh eggs from the many chickens housed within the chicken coop a few feet from the farmhouse.  We had rows and rows of fresh vegetables and fruit to eat all year long.  Yes, I AM SPOILED!  We had an abundance of fresh grown foods. Not only did we have all that but Mom would cook homemade bread and treats and my Dad would make homemade jelly and so we also had freshly made food.  We lived off the land according to my five year old mind and we were HAPPY

We moved from the farm to a suburb in Buffalo, New York when I was five and that was a shock to me. No more fresh fruits and vegetables except in the small part of the year called Spring and Summer.  It was a barren two and a half years from what I remember and I learned to wish for the longer days of Spring when the planting would begin.  I don’t remember much except the under abundance of fruits and vegetables and Dad trying to make tomato soup for us while Mom was in the hospital…..it involved a blender and real tomatoes….oh dear.

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Then we moved to New Orleans and, honestly, I thought we had moved to heaven.  We had a huge backyard with half of it filled with rows of fresh vegetables and rows of corn stalks. I can remember the piping hot corn that would grace our table after leaving the pot of boiling water on the stove. We were back to living off the land.  And, then, we took monthly trips to the French Quarter and I could see rows and rows of fresh fruit and vegetables.  The colors of the displays splashed the old buildings they were housed in and brought them to life.

Yes, I am spoiled.  I had all these beautiful colors and tastes for most of my childhood and on into adulthood.  And, then it happened. I fell in love and got married and a year later we moved far away from my family.  I spent years trying to duplicate the vegetables and fruits that were served everyday when I was growing up.  I searched for fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road and I searched for Farmer’s Markets. I had my kids and my husband searching when we would take road trips. I was longing for what once was, for a sweet tasting tomato, a piece of corn that had that fresh grown taste, and, chard and beet greens, and even vegetables like kohlrabi and fried turnips.  All were plentiful in the gardens of my childhood and I wanted them back.

I still go to the grocery store and my favorite section is the vegetable and fruit section – maybe it’s the colors or maybe its the hope that one day, I will find the sweetest tomato or the batch of chard that tastes just like my Dad’s would taste, or corn that could grace my table and taste as good as the corn of my childhood.  I know in my heart it won’t happen….not even if I go to a Farmer’s Market to get the fruit and vegetables. But I still continue to hope.  For now, I will treasure my memories and know that I was lucky enough to have been a SPOILED CHILD.                     

Living your life to the fullest……

July 3, 2015

Live your life to the fullest….we hear these words often but what do they really mean. Who has the definition for the fullest?

My son tonight said to me that he and a friend had been talking about how they have been taught that relaxing is a bad thing. Their school teaches them that they must be busy doing something at all times in order to be successful. So, that when they do relax, they feel guilty about it because they are not being successful. I admitted to him that I think we, as parents, have bought into it too. We must always be doing something productive. Our quite voice tells us it is not okay to just sit and watch t.v. sometimes at night and so we do something else while watching t.v. We check our phones to see our messages, our emails, and even the news.

We have been programmed to believe that if we are not busy then we must be failing because people who are successful in life are productive all the time. This is a fallacy.

My husband and I raised our children to create a balance in their lives. We taught them to not be single-minded but to have an appreciation of many things and to have many avenues that would provide them a sense of satisfaction, happiness, and contentment. We taught them to build relationships with others. We taught them how to be altruistic, to be lifelong learners and to use the gifts that they had been given in life. We gave them a love of nature, a love of adventure, and instilled in them a confidence that they were on the right path.

So, when I heard him say this, I was deeply saddened because the outside forces in the world smash away the armor we built. So that when my son takes a break and relaxes he gets nervous that he isn’t going to reach his goals because he took some time to enjoy and appreciate his life…..or, as my sister says, to just BE.

When we take that time to just be, we take the fear of missing out (FOMO), out of the equation, and we discover that we are in control and in charge of ourselves to the fullest when we learn that it is okay to just relax and be in the moment and it is okay to do this on a daily basis.

So, back to my question of: Who really has the definition for the word fullest? It is each of us. We get to decide what that definition is and for my family and I, we think that is to create a balance and enjoy all things that we like and to take the FOMO out of the equation and essentially, completely out of our lives because we are in control of each of our lives. And, that is what my son taught me tonight. It really is OKAY to just BE STILL.

Adulthood: Life really can change in the blink of an eye

July 12, 2015

Adulthood: Life really can change in the blink of an eye. A child becomes an adult and you realize they no longer need you. They can handle a lot of it on their own. Yes, sometimes they forget things, but for the most part, they are on their own. And, it can happen so quickly. This is when you look at your life and questions run through your head: When did this happen? How did I not see this coming? When did my job end? And, what will I do now? You can also experience a loneliness that comes from not having children around you, wanting your constant attention, and needing you, and wondering where you are because they have lives of their own. Your job can stop in an instant. This can hit you extra hard when it occurs if the child is your baby of the family.

I had really been looking forward to this time when my kids were ‘grown’ but I didn’t think about the other side of it. How it would hit so quickly and so abruptly.

So, where do we go from here? That’s the big question. Do we wallow in the: could haves? Do we second guess and question ourselves on did we do everything possible to raise our children right? That is exactly what I did. I couldn’t sleep last night and woke up sad this morning and have been sick to my stomach for days as I have realized that I am no longer in control. And, then, I came to the realization that I never was. I was only the teacher, the guidance counselor, the listening ear, the nurse, the chauffer, the manager, and the spiritual advisor and the confidante. My children are both very independent, strong leaders, and creative thinkers but they have another side of them, they both have sensitive, caring, loving hearts. My job as their Mother was to nurture all those qualities in them so that they could become strong adults.

While my job of raising them may have come to an end, my job and role as their example will never come to an end. I think back on my many memories of my parents. My memories exist because the action in the memory was something I admired or something my character valued. Those memories have made me who I am. They have helped to mold my children into who they are. And, the memories that we have made for our children also make them who they are. They have embraced their childhood and absorbed its many lessons and have now moved on to adulthood carrying with them all that they have learned and experienced.

Yes, life really does change in the blink of an eye. But it is the many experiences that we have built for our children that will go with them in the good times and, when they are challenged; when they are hurt, when they struggle with the adversities of the world and it will be those same experiences that will carry them through each and every time their lives change “in the blink of an eye”.

I hope they cherish life as much as I have.

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