Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Choosing a Purpose

Live with intention. Walk to the edge.

Listen hard. Practice wellness.

Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret.

Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn.

Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

~Mary Anne Radmacher

I have recently read a book about dying young.  It wasn't so much how sad I was to read about those that died, although that was a tragic part, rather I ached for the ones left behind.  I think in the dying, we often choose to let a part of ourselves die as well.  This book then went on to explore how hard and crippling it can be to make the choice of living after any tragedy. 

The idea of setting goals or objectives made a huge difference when continuing to living in an ordinary world.  It made sense to me.  I've thought a great deal about the goals and objectives I have set in my life. 

Truly, there really aren't that many, except to just live.  Isn't that crazy?  I always wanted to marry.  Done.  I knew I wanted children.  Check.  On the other hand, I know what I don't want to do.  I don't want to die without seeing what happens next.  I don't ever want to let my precious family slip from my grasp.  I never want kindness and joy not to be a part of my everyday life.

Then what?  What do I want to come next?  I know that I would like to see my children get married and have children.  But for me, there is so much living in between now and then.  So which way should I point my compass?  Or should I just wait to see where the wind takes me?

Now that I have had a birthday come and go, I decided to get busy and start living with a purpose.  Therefore, I created a list...40 things I want to do before I turn 40!  We'll see how far I get, and I better be getting busy.  Only four years to go!
 



40 BEFORE 40
Belly laugh. Often.




Take a road- trip without a pre-planned destination.
Continue to dance and sing in my kitchen each day…even when my kids ask me to stop.
Make a difference in the life of a single mother.
Give more.  Buy less.
Be fiscally responsible.
Forgive and ask to be forgiven.
Get behind a cause and spend time helping it grow.
Karaoke.
Buy a kayak and hit the water routinely.
Make the perfect cupcake.
Send real birthday cards and letters, routinely.
Go on a mission trip and give myself entirely to the cause.
Take my boys to a UT v. Florida game.
Spend a week at the beach with my best friends, romance novels, and lots of wine.
Purge all of the junk in my house…no need to keep d├ęcor from college!
Live in the moment.
Make friends with 5 people TOTALLY different than me and nurture the friendships.
Spend Christmas at Disney World with my family.
Stop obsessing.
Learn to take a compliment well.
Enjoy a picnic.
Look at my children, see myself, and smile.
Be happy.
Love my husband more dearly.
Grow an herb garden.
Foster a child, besides my own, in some way.
Slalom ski on the water again.
Tell the people most important to me how much I love them.
Take up tennis.
Overcome my greatest weakness.
Plant a tree and watch it grow.
Share a smile. Everyday.
Publish an article on paper…not online.
Find my passion and follow it.
Read ten classic novels each year.
Listen more. Talk less.
Fit back in my wedding dress.
Go above and beyond.
Help someone in need.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another Year Older

And it's funny how it's the little things in life that mean the most
Not where you live, what you drive, or the price tag on your clothes
There's no dollar sign on a piece of mind this I've come to know
So if you agree have a drink with me
Raise you glasses for a toast
~Zac Brown Band



Today is my birthday.  I have only scratched the surface on this thing called aging.  I am by no means graceful at all.  As I begin to slide {please read: scratch, claw, a cut-up my knees kind of groping the hill} down the back edges of my thirties into my forties, I can't help but get the lyrics listed above out of my head.

Picture it ~ a dollar sign on everything in our life, the price to pay to live in this world where we live.  But when arriving at peace of mind -true quiet and calmness- there is no dollar sign.  It is free: to you, to me, to him, to her, to the young, and to the old.  We just have to arrive at that point of peace. 

Gasp.

I can't say that I was ever at this point in my twenties.  I would be exaggerating if I told you I am at that place in my thirties…Far from it.  But I am getting there. 
I have little people I love, and big people that love me.  I have serenity on most days.  I understand that it isn't always about what I can put in my hands that shows me what I have.  I have much, much more.  Some days are struggles filled with questions.  Other days are like the smooth, placid lakes where I long to spend my summer. 
Just as a striking hillside is beautiful, so is this life that we are living.  The hillside swoops and rolls, just like our day to day adventures.  Some days the sun shines bright warming the lush, cool, green grass.  Other days, the darkest of clouds hover about threatening a storm any minute.  However, the hills never change; they remain still, silent, and robust. 
I will always be trekking up and down these hills.  Even if the terrain flattens in front of me, the path will not stay that way forever.  Every life is filled with hurdles, moments of joy and sorrow.  It isn't about how burdensome my journey gets or how long I go without feeling the golden sun upon my neck.  No, the richness of living is in the journey, following it until the end.  The peace of mind is found in the choices and what events those choices bring.  There really isn't a dollar sign on the peace.  It can't be bought, yet only found. 

 
~So if you agree have a drink with me...Raise you glasses for a toast!

Chicken Fried
Zac Brown Band

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ah, May ~ My Love/Hate Relationship

For May is a beautiful month, but also a month to be despised, in my opinion.  It comes upon us with reminders of summers past, graduations that came and went, and a day spent showering our favorite mama.  But, it is, quite easily, the fastest month on my calendar.  It seems as if there is something planned on every single day. 

How can we celebrate the great moments without being overwhelmed by the pace?

Breathe.  Take a deep one.  Settle down and focus on the important.  Pull out the "get out of jail free" card and say no to those items, tasks, and appointments that can wait until the hum-drum of the summer months set in on you. 

Rome wasn't built in a day. Therefore, not every single hope, desire, or dream will be attained in this one month.  I keep telling myself to slow down and live simply.  This month is testing my willpower and commitment to the simple.  But, every breath by deep breath, I'll make it through this whirlwind month.  I hope you do, too!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Boys' Office

Last week, The Committee went to NYC for the week for work.  As always, I spent the week struggling with all of the juggling.  I continue to be in awe of all of my friends that have husbands that constantly travel and those of you that are single mothers.  I'm not sure how you do it!  I just don't function well on my own with little sleep.  So, I decided to keep my mind off of the lack of adult company and finish a project that I have been meaning to finish.

With summer break quickly approaching {less than two weeks}, I am starting to have heart palpitations.  I'm just not sure how to keep everyone entertained all of the time and it makes me panic.  So, I decided to turn one of our extra pantries in the kitchen into an office/art corner for the boys.  We truly are the least-handiest people you will ever meet...so don't look too closely at the handy-work.

This is how disorganized my pantry looks at all times...
now all of this is tucked nicely {wink, wink} away in cabinets.




And this is the new office.  The boys feel so grown up with their own space.


I'm sure this will not solve all of our summertime problems, but maybe it will help. 
If not, it might be the perfect time-out spot!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Continuing to Love Unconditionally...re-post

As we continue to see our boys grow and change every day, I have to remain focused upon loving them unconditionally.  I pray each day for wisdom in directing them with a strong hand and soft heart.  Some days slide by with ease, while others seem like they are full of dilemmas.  By blogging about our many twists and turns of life, I am able to save on therapy bills and work out many of my thoughts right here online.

We never really know what each day is going to give us around our house.  I have one son that is dealing with social issues in his class.  He is having to learn about dealing with bullying and harsh words while living peacefully amongst his friends at school.  Another of mine, comes across pretty gruff at times and wants to always be the leader in our home without caring about the feelings of others.  My third lives in his own little happy world making new discoveries each day.  We just aren't sure what the fourth is going to be like, but we are hopeful that his easy demeanor will stay around forever. 

All of our boys are vastly different, however they will all be in their teenage years at one time.  If only I could repeat the same things to them every morning as they walk down the stairs to scarf down some cereal and run out the door to school.  By doing this, maybe I can protect their precious little souls from self-doubt or physical injuries from those around them.  This is what I would say...

Good morning my dear child.

One day, you will no longer be a small child that I can protect.  You will grow from a Curlee boy into the beginnings of a Curlee man.  You will need to discover the world on your own.  I will need to let you go out into the world to find your way and see what life has to offer you.

But, before you go, please consider these words...you are loved unconditionally by your father and me.  Unconditionally means that there are no words or actions that can make us stop loving you with our whole heart.  We will never turn our back on you, regardless of what you say or do.  The most important thing to us is you and your well-being. 

You will certainly find yourself in areas of distress for some reason or another throughout your adolescence and adulthood.  We all have at one time or another.  Not one adult around you has gotten to where they are in their life without traveling through a rock-bottom valley in search of life's meaning.  Remember, we ALL make mistakes.  It is the lessons we learn from these mistakes that mean the most.  Don't let your mistakes define you.  Don't let hateful words define you; you are so much more than a word.  Don't get bogged down in what could have been.  Strive for what can be...and follow that dream to the end. 

On our refrigerator, we have our house rules...
Always be honest.
Count your blessings.
Bear each others burdens.
Forgive and forget.
Be kind and tender hearted.
Comfort one another.
Keep your promises.
Be supportive of one another.
Be true to each other.
Treat each other like you treat your friends.
And most importantly, LOVE one another deeply from the heart.

These rules did not just happen to find their way to our fridge by accident.  No, just the opposite.  I searched for rules for our family that would characterize who we are and how we are supposed to act and treat one another.  But, these rules were not meant to pertain only to my children.  Just the opposite...I want you to remember them always and carry them with you out into the world.  I want every action to be driven by the words...LOVE deeply from the heart.  If your heart is driving your words, thoughts, emotions, and actions, you can never go wrong.

Oh, I know that you will be wronged and do others wrong throughout your life.  We all have.  But, to bear these mistakes and make amends for them is how you show love to one another.  It is the stuff that character is made of.  Hate and contempt can be so easy to fall back on, but it is putting the love out there that takes work.  Choose the love over the hate. You will never regret that choice...ever!  

Matthew 5: 44 ~  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

Each time you feel hatred or anger for another person, pray for their life, their well-being, their happiness.  It is not possible to hate another person in the presence of God.  Let go of the anger that will encompass your whole being, and watch how God can work in your life.  This is of the utmost importance in being a man of character. 

As you have grown and started school, I have repeatedly told you how easy it is to try harder on your next spelling test, play a little bit better in the next football game, run faster when racing your brother, but you can't ever have a second chance to erase unkindness to one another.  Sure, you will be given a chance to say you are sorry, but you cannot erase the actions or words that you put out in the world.  You must always be a little kinder than necessary...it never hurts, and usually will help!

If throughout your young-adulthood, you find yourself lost or confused seek someone out.  I would hope it would be your father or me, but I am also realistic to know that it won't always be us that you turn to for help.  If not us, then someone.  Don't try to take the world on alone.  Don't try to re-invent the wheel.  Borrow wisdom from another...it's not plagiarism.  Find someone you can trust...or better yet, someone that we trust.  Consider them a mentor.  Bounce ideas off of them.  Listen to their thoughts...and then, follow your own heart. 

Throughout my life and your father's life, we have not always been the winners and not always the losers.  We are usually somewhere in between the two.  It is okay not to always be the most successful...just do your best...that will always be enough for us.  We trust you.  We love you.  We always want the best for you. 

Don't ever give up.  Don't ever think that suicide is an answer to any problem you have.  You may think that whatever has occurred, will ruin your life.  I am here to tell you it won't.  It might change your life greatly, but you can always be a glory to God.  You will come out on the other side, and we will help you to find your way.  Trust our love.  Trust your gut.  Trust in God.  Trust in kindness.  And most importantly, LOVE one another deeply from the heart.  Let love lead the way for you.  Don't let someone else define who you are.  Let your character define who you are. 

You are the last thing I think of when I go to sleep at night and the first thing when I wake up in the morning.



What do you say, think I'll have time to get all that in every morning over a light breakfast of cereal?  Oh, how I wish I could say that to all of my boys every day and see if it delivers us to a better place on the other side of this scary place called "adolescence"!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

http://www.incourage.me/


Big day, little boat!  Today, I am guest posting for the first time ever at incourage.me, and I am so excited!  Also, I am full of nerves (trying to supress those, though!).  I am always amazed, humbled, and excited to read the daily posts on this site made just for women.  Take a walk, and please join me over there today!   Happy Saturday!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Perfect Storm

I wish I could tell you that this has been a 'one and only' instance.  It is not.  It has happened to me more than once.  These periods are times that I look back upon, shudder, and see where I lost my way in one clear instance. 

Each time seems to leave more of an imprint than the time before.  It is like walking through a fire only to find that you aren't invincible.  You are actually burned around the edges once you made it through to the other side.  To me, there is a clear explanation as to how this happens: I tragically and unequivocally lost sight of what is right.

It is the perfect storm. 

Mine is called self-righteousness.  Yours might be called something else.  But, we all have that one unsightly struggle that plagues us. 

Recipe:
{your ingredients can vary and can include one or all of the list below}
1 part self-righteousness
1 part frustration
1 part losing sight of God's way
1 part jealousy
1 part destructive words or feedback
1 part selfishness
1 part judgment

You put yourself out there.  You turned away from the light that serves as your guide.  You chose to consider only your needs rather than think there are other people in the room, house, business, etc.  You took one step, then another, and another and now you are all alone and you want to wash it all away. 

In that moment, I looked around and realized that I had turned my back on my God and His word.  It's as if I was in a high-school relationship.  I said, "Listen God, it's not you, it's me! You are great, but I need some space."

The past is our definition. 
We may strive, with good reason, to escape it,
or to escape what is bad in it,
but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. 
~Wendell Berry

It's like looking back in the rearview mirror of your car.  Remember the little lingo at the bottom...objects are closer than they appear.  Many times, these moments are the only thing you see in your rearview mirror.  You feel ashamed or embarrassed enough to let these past events define who you are for months, years, or a lifetime.  You let the past become the definition of who you are.  But, really, you are so much more. 

Maybe the things that happened out of self-righteousness have become your story.  We all have stories.  Some are fairy-tale like and others are true horror stories.  But, then when we turn to the Bible it seems as if within each blessed book there are stories of redemption. 

Imagine the blood, sweat, and tears of Moses and his people leaving behind their days in Egypt, being held in slavery, to make a covenant with God and venture to the Promised Land.  Those are moments when something good comes out of the bad.  These are the times when one is changed from their old ways through God's grace.

We cannot direct the wind; but can adjust the sails.
When we cannot change the circumstances,
we must change ourselves.
~Author Unknown
But perhaps, you would rather look back to American history for redemption.  Imagine for a moment those citizens of another land that boarded ships of every shape and size in every generation to come to a new and better country.  They left all behind to live a better life full of prosperity.  These immigrants may have sailed passed the Statue of Liberty, which embodies hope for a bright future.  In that moment, each passenger may have thrown away the past vowing only to look forward to better times. 

Sure, it will take a bit of hard work to live the good life.  Nothing comes easy. 

In whom we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.
~Ephesians 1:7

This same redemption from the past is waiting around the corner for each of us.  By walking away from the moments than have grown over time to define who we are, we can look ahead for our own beacon of hope.  We can take the past and begin to realize it for what it is.  The past.  It can't be changed.  Perhaps it would have been best if it had never happened, but none of us has the power to change it. 

Yet, we all have the ability to define our outlook for what is ahead.  Perhaps, it happened for the best.  Maybe, by walking through the fire once, you have saved yourself from walking that way again.

That is the challenge we face, I believe: Sometimes, only to survive, only to endure, but mostly, to believe that we are blessed and not cursed. To see the challenges we face in life and not trivialize them or dismiss them, but also to see them as opportunities for growth.  Opportunities that will help us to lead lives of greater fullness, richness, and depth, opportunities that might even inspire us to make the world more loving and just.

What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened,
it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. 
And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. 
Right now.
~Author Unknown