In Search of the Beauty in Every Moment

wrapped-giftI have the most amazing friends. Yes, I can brag about that because those relationships are some of the most cherished I have ever had the pleasure of co-creating. That doesn’t mean that there are not times that are filled with drama, tears, screams and even anger. We are people, living lives that are often filled with people that we wouldn’t normally choose to exist with in this world. Those are the times that my friendships are worked the hardest. Why do our loved ones die? Why do our soul mates walk away from us? Why do we not have a job that would fill us with passion and make our work on this planet fulfilling? Why? Why? Why?

I hear people say, “Look for the gift in that.” Find something that brings that into better light, that allowed us to grow, that changed our path or healed an old one. Look for the gift? Not all of us are able to find a gift in a moment that has brought us down to our knees and knocked the breath out of our lungs, silencing our screams. Not of all of us are able to look into a failed relationship and see the love we once got or gave. Not all of us are able to pick ourselves up and dance away knowing that there was somehow a beautiful gift in that experience. Sometimes we can and that is the easiest of the bridges to cross. Make that gift into your bridge and don’t look back until you are far out of the darkness.

Then I hear the ones who say, “I went through that exact same thing with so and so and I did this and it was my gift.” That’s great, I needed to hear your misery to feel like perhaps you are judging me as I am in the midst of mine. Can this be about me right now? Can I have this one moment that is not about you? It is never the absolute same thing, there is no way that it could be. You are doing you in this life, I am doing me. You and I are not clones living the same life and I never loved so and so. And that gift you say you got, that is not a gift to me but I’ll just not walk down that road with you right now while I am trying to breathe and get up and stuff.

So I lay there thinking what is it I can do? What in this moment am I willing to look at to change my position? Am I able to find some beauty in the moment? There is beauty in this moment. Although I am feeling beat up and breathless I am not willing to accept your life as mine. I am still thinking and feeling and allowing myself the absolute knowing that I will somehow get through this. There is beauty in that moment. I am not alone. That is beauty. I am never alone when I am hurting. There is always someone willing to pick up that phone when I call and let me be heard.

My dog comes to me. That is beauty. My dog is the most loving creature I have ever met and I am the recipient of that love. No one shares this love. Now I am filling myself up with the love I share with this animal. I am allowing myself to breathe a bit. I am feeling not so alone and I reach for my phone to call a friend. Just so I am not alone during this. I am now changing this horrible moment into a moment that I have filled with some beautiful memories. My dog and my friend and my self-love are now forever more a part of this moment. Six months from now when I look back, even this moment will bare a bit of beauty in it. It is now my moment.

We can change our memories by making sure we are aware of the beauty around us, that we notice the smiles we are given, that we notice the old couple holding hands in the doctor’s office, that we hear the children’s laughter at the pools or playgrounds and that we add them to all our memories purposefully. Live a life of beautiful moments, cherished days and purposeful love. Be a friend that hears and lifts up and not one that walks away because it’s not fun sometimes. Be the person who is a part of someone’s beautiful memories. Be a gift.

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perspectaclesFor the past couple of years I have been reminded again and again to try to view people through the lenses they wear. It helps me to get out of judgment and into the compassion and understanding mode that I prefer to live my life in. I try to remember that a group of people that hold an infant or see a Christmas tree will describe the event differently from their past childhood memories and those ideas and thoughts they now carry as adults. No two descriptions will be exactly the same, even from siblings who shared the very same childhood. Each of us has a different set of lenses that we see the world around us through and each experience in life alters those lenses just a little in some way or another. I can see this most now if I recall a childhood memory and see it through the lenses I now wear. Even my own memory will not be “judged” with the same lenses as when I experienced it.

So what does that really mean on a daily basis? How can we practice using perspectacles when we experience life? We can make up stories of someone’s life and past as we watch their experiences that we normally would judge. We can ask ourselves why someone might see something so simple as an attack or even as a miracle of the day. We can listen as someone tells us about their experience without deciding the best advice we can give, but instead trying to wear the perspectacles they are wearing and perhaps remind them of a reason the other person involved might wear a completely different pair of perspectacles. We can watch a child experience life with perspectacles that are very thin and much clearer without scratches and tape and dents that our years have added to ours. See how beautiful the life of a flower is to a five year old or how precious the day is to a cancer survivor.

What else can we do with this drawer full of perspectacles? We can try them on and see how many ways we can view one little memory of life. How did our parents see the saddest memory in our childhood? How did our sibling experience it? Our best friend? Our 7 year old self? Our teenage self? Ourselves now? How would you see the event through your own parent perspectacles? How different are your parent perspectacles than those of your parents? Your grandparents? Your friends?

What if you saw life through the perspectacles of those around you? What would you learn from them? Would you react really so differently than they are at that very moment? Through their perspectacles you can see that they did the absolute best they could with what they knew. Who wouldn’t do the very best in such difficult situations? What parent would hope to create a horrible experience for their child on purpose? If only their perspectacles were interchangeable and they were able to see how much it meant to you then or now, if only they had a drawer full to try on and see if it was the absolute best decision. How many decisions in your life do you see a better solution for now with your aging perspectacles? Perhaps it is time to pour a little forgiveness on the perspectacles in your drawer and wipe them clean and see life, yet again, a little brighter.

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What Is Love?

time for loveFebruary is the month of love. Everyone goes out of their way to make sure the special one in their life knows how much they mean to them. Flowers and cards and candy flow from lovers as they celebrate their love. The restaurants are packed, many with romance packages and higher prices. Although nice, I’m not really sure they can give me what I should have been getting all year long and for some, that’s it! That one day of attention that is supposed to remind you all year long that you are loved and not taken for granted. Hmmm.

This year was very interesting as a winter storm caught those procrastinators off guard and left them scrambling to get out of the house after inches of snow and ice trapped them in together. I think it opened up the conversation to many couples as they realized how much or how little the holiday really meant compared to their all year long treatment of one another. For some, surprisingly or maybe not to you, it isn’t about the love they share all year long but instead the office talk about who receives the most or nicest on that day. For others it was the random store flowers brought up just because or the surprise dinner reservations because you deserve a night out. Love is daily! Love is created and not bought.

My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day are very special memories. One, because I realized that my birthday and this holiday were one which meant a birthday party every single year in school. Second, because I was shy and didn’t have many friends so those little cards we exchanged were special to me. I also blushed writing out a couple every year to those that I had chosen the card for specifically. That was my favorite day of the whole school year! It was MY day!

So what about our children? We do teach them to spoil the one they love on that special day for Valentine’s. We teach them about showing someone you care. Those things are not horrible things to teach, but being the example of a great spouse daily is much better for them to have in their core. For them to see you being a caring and loving person in relationship every day makes an impact on how they behave and who they choose as their mates. As much as our teens say they don’t want to be anything like us, they are and they choose mates like their units at home. Just like us, they will one day wake up and hear their mother or father spewing from their lips. We teach by being. We love by showing. We are us by choice.

I have decided that this year I am going to be a secret Valentine. Feel free to join me regardless of your birthdate. I’m going to pick a random day or two each month and cherish my partner in some way. A card here or flowers there. A special dinner or candy or trinket. I’m not going to wait for a holiday to come to remind me, I’m choosing to do it regularly so that my partner knows that they are the most precious gift in my life. Let’s face it, from all that they put up with from us, they deserve their own holiday, don’t you think?

So hurry out and get a discounted pack of the Valentines you passed out in school. Hide them here and there throughout the year for your special Valentine. (Buy fresh candy though, those little heart candies are not meant to last a year.) Set up some reminders in your calendar to remind you that it has been X amount of days since you have made your Valentine feel special. Even a text message sent on a busy Monday just saying “I love you and you are my world” can change the day. Love more, that’s what life is really about anyway.

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Winter Wondering

winterWinter. A time to go within. Most of us are so over-saturated with people from all the holiday parties and family gatherings that we relish in the fact that we will finally have some very sought after alone time. We plan for it. We de-clutter the house, starting first with those warm and space consuming holiday decorations, then finding new homes for all the wonderful gifts that we may or may not have planned space for. Some of us gather up our first line up of books we’ve been meaning to read, or magazines we’ve neglected over the busy months. We get ourselves ready to enjoy the quietness of life and think about how or what we are becoming. Sometimes, it takes a few weeks to settle in to that routine. Some people have a hard time letting go of the over populated calendar and feel a little lost. Others, delve right in, cup of tea and good book in hand and welcome the opportunity to catch up on all those recorded and unwatched shows. Ahhh, winter. She’s a nice old gal who allows us to take a breather from the cold world and burn a flame inside of ourselves for warmth.

But when winter comes on very strong, I often find myself wondering if I want to emerge or if I will be successful at it. I find my cozy little busy minded self is content in this quietness. It is in this comfort that I realize I don’t mind my own company and I enjoy the time of low stress and self-indulgence with the things that fuel me. I read, cook, write, knit, watch some TV, write some more, play games with the kids, and think about my writing. I feel myself becoming more and more of the shy side of me, the one that my friends don’t see and laugh about when I mention it. I find that I could easily make up excuses to get out of any and all social events and would gladly trade a day out for a day in. Do I enjoy my friends? Yes, absolutely. Do I miss them? Every single day. But in this state I am pretty content to just be me. And this side of me, that could eat, sleep, and write and allow nothing else to matter, bothers me. Not because I’m in it, but because there is this image in my head of really good writers that I imagine are social outcasts or that prefer to be all alone to their muses, and I think that I could possibly be swallowed up in it, never to return or care. Would I care if I was this incredible writer that avoided the public like a flu epidemic?

So if I wouldn’t care, then what’s the big deal? The big deal is what does one write if they don’t live life? What can you bring to the keyboard if you don’t get out there and breathe fresh air and hear the leaves of the trees as they sing a fall song? What is life without the meaningful friends that are like cherished gifts that can only be created with 2 people working towards the same relationship? What is life without an old friend to reminisce about how far we have grown in this life we live? Life is about balance and life is always about living it. So I plan my days knowing that winter will end and when it does spring will find its way into my backyard, my soul, and my life again and I will emerge ready to face the busy-ness of life again with a freshness that only a winter within can bring. Every season brings the next, every story has an ending, and every breath has meaning. So carry on Ms. Winter, but know this, I am inside here waiting for you to fade away and the blooms on the trees to emerge. I am not lost in this business of winter, I’m just hibernating until the warmth comes back to the world so I can spring this new version of me on you.

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Lies We Tell Our Children

liesThe holiday season has come and gone and with it the reminder of years past. I thought about my boys, now 17 and 22, wondering when exactly they decided there was no Santa Claus. I remember when they questioned it, each of them hearing from a school mate or overhearing a conversation adults were having. I recalled with a smile how on each of those occasions we went out of way to prove there was. They believed of course. But when did it come up again for them and how did I miss that milestone? What exactly that milestone should be called is unknown to me. Another lie my mother told me? The spirit of Christmas lived because of my mother? Or simply, just the knowledge that a belief is instilled into us from an earlier age and left for us to disprove or prove it as we grow. Regardless, the years of being the magic of Christmas was fulfilling to me. It allowed me to give a bit of magic to my children in a world that has far too many heartaches and not as many miracles.

I was filled with sadness early on Christmas morning as I recalled my mother’s tearful eyes as she told me there was no Santa Claus. I was seven. I remember this very vividly as I thought that she was going to cry and wondered if she had just found this out. I realize now that due to her financial situation she had no choice but to warn me that there would be no magic under that tree when I awoke the next day. Christmas was her favorite and I am sure she would have been delighted to see the extra effort I made to prevent that same talk through the years. Everyone deserves to believe in a little magic and no parent should have to shatter a child’s world with those words. I would comfort her if she were here and tell her it is okay.

I always made sure the Tooth Fairy was on time, the Easter Bunny came as promised, and that the Boogeyman never made it into the bedrooms or closets. I kissed boo-boo’s and tickled frowns off faces and everything else I thought a good parent did. I taught good manners and made sure that bad behavior wasn’t rewarded with extra attention. I taught how to be a friend and how to choose a good friend. We practiced self-love and made sure that a wide assortment of adventures passed through their lives. We loved, laughed, and lived our days and ended them around a kitchen table. We did everything we could think of and some others that didn’t make the grade. We read stories to them at bedtime, oh how I miss those days! They read to us each evening as they began to read. We took walks and trips and made up stories and we grew up together.

So now I wait. I wait on quietly. I wait for them to find their soul mates, create a family unit, and see if they too will carry on with the lies. That, in my opinion, is the final test to see if the lies I told were hurtful or if they created a belief in magic, if they became a part of the childhood story. Time always gives up the answers.

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Take a Selfie!

I’m one of those people that really believes that the Universe, or God, or whatever higher source of energy you may believe in guides us, moves people and places around purposely so that the lessons we hoped to gain will be presented to us and the people that can lead us through are standing by, out of the blue, ready and willing to share that experience. Does that mean I don’t feel like I have choices in life? No, not at all. I believe that I can choose any path I want. The path I take may or may not take me exactly where I start off believing it will lead me.

How many people have started off to college knowing with every cell in their body they were born to be a teacher only to walk across the stage 4 years later as a pre-med student? How many people believed they would marry and have 2.5 children and live in a little yellow house with a picket fence to the man they met in high school only to be horrified that they ever wanted to spend their entire life with that man? And the kids? Well, maybe they couldn’t have children or maybe they did but I am sure they could never have imagined their life as it is now…EXACTLY.

Have you ever looked back at a time in your life and wished you only knew then what you knew now? Can you see how far down a path you traveled, right or wrong, but see it through a different lens? I recall a time when an unmarried 20 year old was pregnant with twins and at that moment in life decided that the partying and the drugs were a have been for her. She realized at that moment in time that this person she was, was not the mother she wanted to be. Her life changed. Her lens cracked and she could see clearly what she hadn’t before. There had been those that told her, she hadn’t heard. Was she a perfect mother because her life changed like that? No, that pregnancy ended but her path changed forevermore. It was a moment in time. A moment that brought forth a desire to be a mother, something she never felt safe enough or sure enough of before that day. That path led her to see herself differently. She took a selfie.

Many times we are so caught up in the moment that we cannot see around it. You can’t see the picture if you are in it. Sometimes you have to take a selfie. Those selfie’s come to us from a lens change. A moment, a friend, a dream, a chance, a change. Sometimes they come while you are in the midst of the picture, sometimes later, sometimes not until you see someone else creating or being in a similar portrait. It is then that our lens allows us to see it differently. They call it wisdom or intuition, they call it coaching or mentoring, they call it many things but basically it is being called. Called to share your story. Called to hold the camera for someone until they can click the button and see themselves through your experience.

Sometimes it is not about a path change but a change in the path. A friend just did a talk on the things we believe because we are told to believe. Trying to locate those things our parents or teachers or whomever gave us to believe about ourselves. “You are fat,” “You are dumb,” “You are ugly,” “You are worthless,” “You are gay,” “You are clumsy,” “You will never amount to anything,” “You are poor,” “You are (fill in your blanks here).” At some point it isn’t our mother or our grandmother or our teacher or our father we hear, it is our own voice screaming those things to us. We become our own bullies and then we become those words or we use those words to limit our becoming.

One day I complemented a friend of mine. She has so many traits that I wish I had. She told me that all that I saw in her was only a mirror of myself, a glimpse of what I already was or could be if I chose. I thought maybe it was only words. Today I heard her say it again, about another friend of hers. She said her friend cried when she told her that and had to go and think about it. I realized, knowing how incredible the friend is she was speaking of, that her friend was all that. Those were not just words rehearsed to make someone feel good. It was a selfie. Today, my friend’s words touched my soul. Today her words became a gift. Today I loved myself enough to hear them through a new lens.

So today I beg, be kind to yourself. Look around at those called into your world by a great big Universe and realize that you are there for a purpose. To share, to love, to give and to receive and we are all surrounded by the greatest expressions of the One, we are all created in that likeness. Love yourself a little more today, take a selfie and remember that you are on the right path, you know that because you are there.

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Because I’m Me

booksssI am finding myself not doing some of the things I love, “Because I’m too busy!” Am I really so busy that I cannot do the things that give me the most pleasure? Is cleaning the living room or planning the next gathering really so important that I am missing life? I ask that because I was aware of it more over this past holiday season than I have ever been before.

I have lists! Long lists! Every single day there’s a new list. Some things on the list have been there for a week even. I have things I am required to do, things I am asked to do, things I love to do, things that just need doing because there is no one else to assign it to, and then the things I long to do if I can ever find time. Writing is generally on that “if I can find time” list.

Writing. The thing that has made me feel most connected to life is on the “hopefully someday I’ll have time” list. Not the “important to do every day” list like brushing teeth and showering. Not even on the needs to do list. I can’t remember a time where writing wasn’t a part of my core person. I wrote songs before I could spell the words I used and with tears streaming down my face I would sing them alone to the world that treated me so poorly. They were my compassion. They were my therapy. They were my life. Later, a journal, a best friend who loved me no matter what. I wrote out all the things that I felt, I allowed myself to feel and process and believe in a happily ever after. Then, as I healed from my own words, and read the words of others, I wrote stories. It was more than writing stories. I dreamed them, I thought of them, I created them in every single moment of the day. I was born to write. Yet, I lack the belief in my words to allow them a special place of honor in my daily world.

Now a new year has come and with it a 500 words a day challenge. I accepted it and found myself creating time for it, allowing it a place of honor every single day. I opened my life up to believe in the words again, allowing them to flow as they may. Surprised at how some of them formed thoughts that perhaps my deepest soul was telling me to listen to. I remember today who I am. I am a storyteller. I am a writer. Good or bad, sad or happy, true or make belief, these are my words. Words that only I will ever write. These are the words that make me who I am and finally, because of a challenge, I am brave enough to share them with whomever chooses to read them. Do I care what you think? Yes, of course, you are important. But will your belief in my words change them or cause me to silence them once again? No, because these words are me. And I am never going to be so busy again to deny myself the opportunity to be me.

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The Fear Balloon

Deflating Your Fear BalloonIt doesn’t take much for the fear balloon to inflate to a full, near bursting size that can put your mind into a terrible cell with bars so thick that you can barely breathe. How does it get that way? Why do we allow it to grow so? How do we change our thoughts and prevent our imagination from working against us by creating these huge What if’s that fill these fear balloons up so? Why do we ignore some of the inflated balloons that linger in our minds, floating around, no longer being continuously fed by what if’s instead of deflating them?

Let’s start first with the How’s. How is a simple process that happens so quickly that we barely even see it coming along? A small little trigger item, one that we may have some apprehension about, one that we feel we don’t have control over, or one that perhaps that we believe should be a trigger, starts this train wreck. Some examples of this trigger thought are your child or loved one not being home when they should, a new experience that has been given to you or you have chosen to do, a diagnosis, a loss of pay regardless of reasoning, an unexpected bill or approaching confrontation, anything that we overthink or over create as an obstacle that we give great meaning or power to.

Everyone may or may not have had the very same thing come up for them. Why is it a fear for some and not for others? It’s the meaning we give to it and the amount of What If’s we create to use against us that change it. Let’s start with a loved one not coming home on time. The first thing we may do is get a little mad. Why didn’t they call? Why aren’t they considerate of me knowing I am waiting? Me. Me. Me. Then it changes. Is it to cover up our bit of guilt we have for feeling this anger and selfishness? A feeling rises inside you. It’s really dark, perhaps something is wrong. Maybe car trouble or an accident? What if they can’t call or might be in great trouble. What if their workplace was robbed? What if? What if? What if? The balloon begins to fill with great force. Five very long minutes later, when you are already trying to decide how you will live through the funeral, your loved one walks through the door only to be greeted by your bipolar emotional deflation of the balloon you created. What a waste of energy and life moments. And guess what? You just practiced so it will be bigger and faster and scarier next time.

So what do we do to change this pattern? We practice. We create new stories and face the “What if’s” by removing any of them, one by one, that have no truth in them. We talk ourselves out of each of them. Leaving only the truth. Then we take some action so that we no longer feel powerless over our fears. Let’s use the same scenario with the loved one. So our loved one scenario has already began. Our initial anger has begun to turn against us.

“Something is wrong”, it says.

And I interrupt by saying, “Just because it is dark, it doesn’t mean something is wrong. They probably are stuck in traffic or were detoured.”

“Maybe it is car trouble,” it tries again.

“The car is in great shape and my loved one has AAA or would call if there was a problem. No call, No problem!” I respond more forcefully.

“What if the workplace was robbed?” Look at that imagination go…

“Robbed? Really? Is that the best you can do?” I ask.

“What if…” It starts again only to be stopped by me interrupting.

“It’s only been 5 minutes for goodness sakes, we have a 15 minute rule before even considering one late or calling. You’ve got 10 more minutes before you are allowed to start.”

All is quiet in my thoughts. My calm has returned. I busy myself with a nice glass of wine to greet my loved one or the basket of laundry for my teenager or whatever else I plan to GREET them with. Balloon deflated, mind cleared. It’s a practice.

So let’s try another scenario. Jealousy. The fear of losing the one we love. We’ve all been there, one side or another. Some have created the same fear in every single relationship and are so good at it that even truth cannot deflate that balloon. Their relationships suffer and they drive their loved one away with the anger and hurt of being untrusted for someone or even worse, no one’s bad behavior.

So when that jealousy balloon starts to fill with air, look right at it. Straight at it and ask yourself seriously why your loved one would want someone else. Have they complained about you or asked you to consider working on the relationship? Perhaps this is your own self-worth that is filling the balloon. I get myself right to the point. I love this person so much I have a huge fear of losing them. So great is my love for them that I cannot imagine the life without them because my life would be so empty of great love. It is the best I have ever loved. I fill myself with these thoughts, these loving thoughts. Then I remind myself that this love, this great love, is a two part relationship and I am half of that. I have co-created a loving relationship. I then tell my love how much I love them and give them a chance to feel my love. I push ugly thoughts out, deflating my balloon completely by realizing that even if tomorrow this love died away, I am greater for having had it, and I wouldn’t trade this relationship experience for anything. So, if losing this relationship is the fuel, I have already taken the fuel away by saying, “I choose it no matter what!”

Fear of failure is one of my biggest struggles. The paradigms that build from that fear are numerous and I work on this most. Those “What ifs?” are very frequent and I face them as they come. What if you make a fool of yourself? Well, I’ve been known to be pretty funny in life so a few more laughs won’t kill me. What if no one likes what you create? Well, even Stephen King has to admit that not everyone likes his work. Some despise it even. Not everyone loves Van Gogh, and not everyone is a fan of Paula Deen. So there are bound to be some that don’t like my creations as well. I’m good with that. What if I am not good enough? Good enough for what? For someone to like me? For someone to decide to be my friend? For someone to hire me? Good enough is too broad of a term to allow it to fill balloons. Get to the root of it and give yourself a talking to. Talk away the fears.

Fear of death is a tough one. We are all going to die. It’s not a surprise to any of us. Yet when a diagnosis comes to a loved one, we allow that balloon of fear to fill up so big that we cannot see or feel the present moment. Look at that fear and release it. The fear of living a life without them is real, but the guilt of not being present and being 100% the person in their life you choose to be because of the fear will haunt you forever. Take that as a little gift from above, be grateful that you have been given a chance to tell the person how much they mean, how they changed your life, ask them any questions you have meant to ask, forgive any past needing forgiven. Be love. Be real. Allow the hurting to begin at the end instead of living the end hurting hoping that it will somehow lesson the pain when it comes. It doesn’t. No amount of pre hurting will change the pain when they leave. Don’t play that game with your heart. You’ll lose.

The only other thing I care to mention right now is the words “Will I be…?” You will be you. You can choose to be any version of you in any moment in your life. So, will I be a great mother? Do you choose to be? What steps are you taking to lead you in that path? What is the definition of a great mother? Who are people you believe represent that statement? Do you have what it takes to BE that in your life?

What do you want to be? How do you want to be? Why do you want to be that? All those questions only you can answer and only you can choose to be. Face your fears, it takes practice. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself and remember that you can choose to be something different if you don’t like who you are right now. Stop wasting energy on fear and use it in the being of life.

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Happy New Year!

High Five to resolutions!

High Five to Resolutions!

Hi, my name is Susan and I’m a Resolution maker.

And the readers say in unison, “Hi Susan!”

Every single year people across the globe begin the New Year with celebration and traditions. They welcome in the New Year with toasts and hugs and food and fun. This is often accompanied by way too much to drink, way too much to eat and way too little sleep. That is not where the festivities end, oh no. We think about the past year, deciding what we don’t want to carry over into this year, changing bad habits into good and even deciding to live the dreams we have been neglecting for whatever excuse we have assigned. We say goodbye to our year just lived and reflect on it with friends. We look at the road we have traveled and pat ourselves on the back for a walk well taken.

But it doesn’t end there does it? Oh no. We then create a list of all the things we vow to do in the upcoming year. All the exercise, healthy eating, quit smoking or eating, save money, schooling, more self-love, less crap from family or friends, finding a perfect job or romance and even major life events such as children and housing are decided. All in a night’s work. Many of our night’s list are long forgotten before the alcohol has completely left our system, but some of them linger and we try, so very hard at times even, to succeed. And to those of us who have had one or more on that list for many years, we know deep down that it may end up there again next year, and yet we set ourselves up to fail believing that New Year’s energy is some type of fix-all solution that could, might, may actually just remove that obstacle of our list without much effort. Resolutions.

Resolution does not mean Re-solution. It does not mean to do again and again. It means firm determination. It implies some will-power and actual daily work and a passion to succeed be placed on it. I’m not saying some don’t succeed in doing their entire list, some do. I’m not saying people don’t make great and wonderful changes in their lives by deciding on New Year’s Eve. Of course some do. But there is a reason that gyms are far emptier the last quarter of the year and that lean and smart frozen foods are only on sale in January. Many of us do not succeed in this tradition. Perhaps it’s the alcohol but I think it’s the magic in the idea that we are somehow given another entire year to live. Like a promise and so we repay that by creating this list of all the great things we will do to warrant that gift.

This year I have taken another course of thought. I will celebrate life each night, looking at my past day, week or even month, deciding where I would like to change things along the way, what I would like to do tomorrow and how I would like to be that next day. I propose a year of ONE DAY commitments. Tomorrow I will drink 8 glasses of water and no soda. Tomorrow I will walk at least 30 minutes. Tomorrow I will tell 3 people in my life why my life is so much better having them in it. Tomorrow I will remember to say 3 loving things to myself, a gift I seldom remember to give. That’s my 5 things for tomorrow. I may write them on my fingers so I can have them “hand-y” and remind me that I choose this today. If it is hard, I’m sure tomorrow night my choices will be a little different. I stand a high chance to have many, many successes in my year this way.

Last night a friend of mine translated in English a saying that is used in her country on New Year’s. When someone walks into the room and is bright and energetic it is a sign of good luck and prosperity on the household. This is loosely translated as being “a good leg” in English. So I wish you all a “good leg” this year and a “high 5” each and every day if you choose it. Please join me in living each day with the excitement of New Years and celebrate this year with successful changes.

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Spilling the Beans…

Pouring the beans onto the counter, the sound of them spilling and sliding and toppling over one another, I recalled my childhood and the mystery of the beans from long ago. Smiling as I begin the task at hand, I cherish the memory of my innocence and joy fills me as I recall that little girl that is now, long gone.

I would hear the sound… almost like an echo through the house and knew at once that my mother was going to make beans. My excitement was not over this meal that was coming my way, as I had long ago tired of them and really wished that this was instead, her pouring them down into the trash as we now were among the families with great money who no longer had to eat this pot of beans for days. No, that was not the reason at all. So why did I drop all toys or chores and run into the kitchen?

Looking back now, knowing how my childhood was, perhaps there was a deep desire to have this connection with my mother. Hanging out in the kitchen together, watching her prepare a meal with love and nurturing, slaving for a few hours over the pot of soup-like substance that would feed us for the next few days, growing thicker and less beanlike as the days would go on. No, that was not it even though I am now very happy to own those few cherished moments of us so “normal” back then.

I watched as her hands sorted through the beans, preparing them for soaking. I watched as she would use several fingers at a time and move them into the bowl, some to the side as discarded. I would see her concentrate and I would grow so very quiet. I didn’t want to mess up her concentration, her “counting of the beans” as I believed she was doing. I would try to count too and now and then over this process of what seemed like an hour of counting, something would distract me like a favorite commercial or a neighbor child coming out to play. I would lose track but I never asked her where we were at in the counting because I was afraid I would mess up her count as well and she would be angry. So I would just go on and count where I thought we were. When she was finished I would ask her very quietly, “How many beans today?” She would always look at me for a moment very still and puzzled and say, “A pot full.”

I wouldn’t question her further but I knew she had counted them. I could see it on her face as she did this task. I knew she knew the number but never wanted to tell me how many. Maybe she wanted me to count. Maybe it was a mystery. Sometimes I would sneak the bag out of the garbage and try to read the back for clues to how many were in there. Sometimes I would pull another full bag out of the cupboard and try to count them through the plastic. But always, each time the beans were spilled… I would come running to try all over again.

When the beans were cooked, I often would try to count the beans in my bowl as I ate them ever so slowly. Not to savor them, but to try to figure out how many beans were in that pot by how many bowls came out. My mother never spilled the beans on how many, and I never told her I truly believed she was counting them. But when I spill the beans onto the counter to sort them, not for me, but for someone that I love, I can’t help but recall those early childhood days, when even bean counting was a great mystery.

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