Monday, March 28, 2016

Discipline and the 4 Tasks

Last week I met a woman who talked about her anxiety regarding entering the college program of her choice.  She took an exam and expected to hear the results in a week or two.  While we were talking, I remembered a commitment I made to myself when I was laid off from a job.  It was a difficult period of waiting.  I wondered each day whether I should continue to strive for a job that utilized my skills and education or work for work sake.  I had to find a way to keep the faith and my spirits up. 

So I devised a plan to maintain my sanity.  It involved doing 4 things faithfully daily.  The days I kept this promise to myself I felt a sense of control and purpose. 

Here is my list:
1.  Do something related to finding employment
2.  Do some form of exercise (walking, Insanity, weight training etc.)
3.  Reach out to a friend (call, email, write letters)
4.  Organize something (a drawer, the spice rack, the pantry, etc.)

Looking back, it was a good time.  I put many things in order and made decisions about priorities--spent  time with my kids and worked to simplify my life. 

So now I find myself thinking of my next 4 disciplines.  Not because I am out of sorts or in a time of crisis, but because I recognize it is healthy to practice discipline.  Promises to oneself are sometimes the most precious. 

Here is my new list:
Each day....
1.  Do some form of exercise
2.  Meditate (eat mindfully, pray, body work etc.)
3.  Lean into my vision and goals (create vision board, ponder with focus)
4.  Connect authentically with another (with patience, attention, intention)

Quite a different list.  Speaks to my desire for depth lately.  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mama's Eulogy written by Alanna

Found this as I was searching for my passport.  Within contains some reflections that I needed to hear as I continue to look for a job.

From Alanna, my beloved sister (we miss you!):

"In Mama's eyes, the accomplishments of her life add up to her devotion to us, her four daughters.  Mama's gift to the world was how the four of us live our lives today. 

So often during funerals we paint a rosy picture of a person's life, but I don't think that Mama would want us to ignore her challenges.  She wasn't perfect, as no one is, but she taught us life's lessons despite the fact that she had a long list of "even thoughs".  We generally had what we needed, even though we lived well below the poverty line.  Mama created an environment where we could learn, even though she herself had a low level of education.  She taught us the inherent value of others, even though she felt unworthy herself.  We learned to live by her example, even though some of the lessons were by example of what NOT to do.  It took a while for me to come to this perspective, but I believe the four of us were blessed to receive these lessons of our upbringing at her hands. 

Erin learned from Mama to enjoy what she has.  Erin is the kind of person who will not settle for less than her best and won't let others settle for less in themselves either.  She has spent much of her life working for the betterment of others and teaching people how to see themselves differently than their past would predict.  She learned not to let her past define her or limit her future.  She spends her energy looking at options and possibilities, instead of obstacles.

Mama taught Dee Dee how to make good cheesecake and stuffing.  Dee Dee also learned a deep sense of caring from Mama......that caring can be as easy as sharing a smile or a few kind words.  Whether it was in attending to the details of responsibility or the needs of the heart, Dee Dee had a lot of practice before she grew up and left home.  She spends her time in service to others.....interpreting for the deaf, homeschooling her girls, active at church and generally being where her talents and caring are needed most. 

Louie credits Mama with teaching her how to dance and to be resourceful.  She also learned to be independent, to work hard for what she wants and that being up against tough odds doesn't mean you have to give up.  She had hard lessons that helped her to determine how to raise her own child when the time came.  She's done a good job, if Becca is any indication, but the real test will be once Becca has kids---no pressure darlin'...

As for me, I learned the rules of hospitality and family from Mama.  She had internal rules that were expressed in her decisions.  Things like, kiss your loved ones before leaving the house, because you don't know for sure that you'll be back.  If you want to make a regular meal special, just invite someone over to share it with you.  Inviting as many people over for St. Patrick's Day dinner as you do for Thanksgiving dinner is an appropriate expression of dual citizenship.  If you really feel close to someone, give them a nickname.  Food that looks pretty tastes better.  Love God and treasure your sisters, especially the ones that makes you laugh the most.  And thoughtfulness in gift giving is as important as the gift itself.

Its funny how life can turn on you.  For each of those gifts that we received from Mama we were able to offer them back to her in her last years.  Erin concerned herself with Mama's quality of life.....and even at the end would not settle for seeing Mama give up.  Dee Dee was able to offer Mama the care and comfort she needed;  whether it was in making sure that her fridge was stocked, or taking her to doctor appointments or making sure that Mama felt loved.  Louie was the emergency resource, there to call the squad or there when storms came or when the lights went out to attend to Mama's oxygen needs.  I did my best to live by Mama's rules as we lived together these last few months, to help her feel welcome and to reassure her that we gained as much from the experience as she did. 

In the end, she lasted much longer than anyone expected.  She lived her dream of returning to Ireland one last time.  She looked back on her life & her four daughters, having no regrets.  She died exactly how she wanted to and was happy to know that she would be seeing her mother in heaven. 

We love you Mama, and we're glad your suffering is finished.  Amen"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Apathy at it's Best

As the presidental election approaches and the weight of the failing economy bears down, I reflect upon how apathetic I feel within the political realm.  I am losing faith that we have the ability to actually look at issues and work together to solve problems.  I think corruption and greed is rampant.  I don't trust that our leaders, republican or democrat, are really trying to make things better.  Worse yet, I think any true attempts to problem solve may be riddled with so much compromise that integrity is lost. 

So much of what I have held dear regarding our Land of the Free has turned out to be false.  Motives for our fights, reasons we approve one bill and not another.....seem steeped in rationalites often unrelated to the true or intitial intent.  Even more depressing is the fact that I don't know enough and even when I seek information out, there is a good chance it may not be accurate.  So much that happens in Washington is the opposite of transparent. 

I am a believer of learning what you can and making the most intelligent choice.  I just don't like the choices.  Even if I was charged with leading our nation.....I find myself at a loss for how to fix what is broken.  I am concerned that the culture of our government is broken to a level that cannot be repaired without major change. 

I don't say this to disparage our current leader Barack Obama.  I think many of his ideals could have worked with support. Investment in the argument  and polarity between parties makes true progress impossible.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I'm Like Gold to My Kids

Took Alea and Kye out to dinner to Panera Bread tonight.  We were engaged in lively discussion and topics were many and all over the place.   Kye talked about watching an episode of Phineas and Ferb (awesome show) where they went to Hawaii and asked if we could go there this summer.  I laughed saying that trip would probably be a ways off financially for us this year.  Alea piped up and said she was planning on living there.  I looked at her surprised.  She said, "Well Mom, I AM going to be a marine biologist and that is the best place for it!" 

I said jokingly, "But I will miss you!"  Kye piped up, "I can visit my sister in Hawaii!" thrilled at the prospect.  Alea said I could visit her but I may be too old by then. (She did a role play like I could not see or recognize anyone)  Did she really just go there?  "You are 46 Mom!" (Why is it that everything always sounds like she is yelling at me?).  Kye said, "Yeah, Mom you are like older than gold."  Gold?  That is pretty old.  He also added that at least I am not as old as Yoda.  Then we had a great debate about how old that is.  Seems it is a debate in the real world too.

I then said, "Well I look pretty good for being THAT old, and wise best to listen to your old Mother when she talks (wink)."  Big smiles all around. 

Monday, January 9, 2012


Driving about, as I often do, with my kids in tow--from this place to that we were listening to this song (No Such Thing) on the radio by John Mayer:

Towards the end, the performer sings, "I am long as I am alive."  I thought to myself and exclaimed later that he would not be invincible if he were this is a silly statement. 

Two minutes later, Kye, my 8 year (almost 9 year old)  pipes up, "Well Mom, if you are dead, you are invincible--you can't be killed again", quite matter-of-factly. 

With all my wisdom and amazing powers, I could not find a reason to refute his logic. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lazy Bum!

I asked 8 yr old Kye to put his dinner dish in the kitchen.  He said, "But Mom, I got a severe case of laziness!" 

 I give the kid points for creativity. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Universe Requests

Thought I would put out a list of desires here and into the universe.  If you are able to assist me with any item, I will gladly accept your kind offer.  Below are things that have been accumulating in my "to do" or "wish I had" thoughts:

  • Help with quilting.  The quilt I am working on is mostly applique--has a desert/woodland scene with a coyote.  I am hoping to finish this quilt by December.  The picture we are trying to recreate is from a book entitled, The Girl Who Loved Coyotes. It is beautiful and the task can be a nice relaxing one.  Join me in the fun.
  • Perennials--would like some to fill in my garden.  It will motivate me to clear the flower beds of weeds.  Got any that you need to split this Fall?
  • Book recommendations--would like mostly non-fiction options.  ~Also want to read the third book in the Hunger Games series--got a copy I can borrow?
  • My son would love a fish eye lens for his video camera (you know it is the best way to film skateboarders) for his birthday.  It is a pricey item.  If you know a good place to get such things let me know!
  • Looking for a couple other families to have a dinner swap with.  The concept is that you cook for the number of families in the circle and swap items.  If there are 4 families, you walk away with four (4) dinners, prepared and ready to freeze or eat for the week.  I am thinking of doing this 1 x per month. 
I am sure there are more desires to share, but they do not come to mind yet.  Hoping this posting finds you well and that you too can benefit from the universe. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pantry Challenge

Ok, are ready!  It is time to eat everything in the pantry.... 

No, not all at once!  

We endeavor to actually eat what is already in our pantry and not go grocery shopping until we do.  For one month (and more if this goes well), we plan to get creative.  We have some interesting things in the pantry.  Take a look below:

We will need to go to the grocery for things like milk, eggs, and things that may compliment a specific recipe.  Most recently when I did the pantry inventory, I ventured to use some unique items including, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, wheat germ and adobe seasoning.  All of which have not see the light of day for some time now. 

You may be wondering how we used these interesting items (glad you asked ;-): stir- fried orange chicken, broccoli cheese strudel and adobe rice with sausage--yum!

So why embark on this adventure?  I suppose because we can.  So many times I look in the cupboard and say we have nothing to eat.  It is time to prove myself wrong.  There are some interesting things in there and with a little planning, we can make some tasty stuff. 

With busy schedules and hunger in the belly as soon as we hit the door of the house after a long day, it is often hard to "see" the possibilities in the fridge and cupboard.  By taking a little time, doing an inventory and planning recipe, I think we will be ahead both in the pocketbook and in the stress department.  I find that my life goes much smoother when there is a plan in place. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage Out--no more

So, yesterday, Kye got out of the car to go to school and I said, "Your dad will be picking you up today."  He looked at me with dismay and said in a very whiny, blame induced voice, "You always say stuff that I already know!".  And then he was off...traveling up the sidewalk, entering the school. 

This small but significant interaction gave me a window into my world.  And, if you can hang in there, I will share with you one of the major dilemmas I have and continue to work on.

Some back thoughts about this situation is that I realized that Kye was tired.  He did not get enough sleep.  He was downright grumpy.  And, that probably had nothing to do with me.  It is a blessing to "know" these kind of things-- otherwise I could spend significant time wondering if I am somehow ruining his life by "telling him stuff".

Let's face it, there are times when people blame you when you are not to blame.  The trickiest thing is not getting locked into a desire to hear them out or fall into an endless examination of your conscious. 

What is difficult for me is that I take people's criticism as a gift and in their giving, it suggests that I am approachable and that I can grow from their gift.  Truth be told though, we need to not take all criticism as a golden nugget.  In fact, sometimes it suits us best to barely let the "feedback" filter in. 

I am reading a book called, The Law of the Garbage Truck by David J. Pollay.  This book talks about the garbage trucks we encounter in our lives--people dumping on us, what we can do about them and how not to become one. 

Here are the commitments he suggests:
1.  Do let garbage trucks pass you by.
2.  Do let your own garbage trucks pass you by.
3.  Do avoid becoming someone else's garbage truck.
4.  Do help the garbage trucks you can.
5.  Do honor our no garbage trucks! Pledge.
6.  Do live in the gratitude cycle and live free of the garbage cycle.
7.  Do declare your life a no garbage trucks! Zone.
8.  Do declare your work a no garbage trucks! Zone.

You can take the pledge or learn more about garbage trucks here.

From this point I am hoping to define, early on, whether some one's attitude or feedback is worth my energy reserves.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kill the Idea

Fr. Bay, pastor at Sts. Augustine Gabriel, during a homily shared that he was imprisoned in Vietnam for attempting to escape the country.  He desired to escape in order to become a priest.  For some reason, he was not permitted to do this in his native country. 

He attempted escape many times and was imprisoned many times.  Over time, he began to lose heart for his goal. 

During this time he would pray, "God, please make a way for this, or kill the idea in me". 

This seems like a practical and poignant prayer.  I can relate.