Saturday, April 30, 2011

DAY FIVE/SIX: 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life

Since I missed a day, I will post DAY FIVE and DAY SIX in this entry. (I noticed that the email alert for yesterday’s post came through this evening?? Hopefully this one won’t come through tomorrow.)

          The beginning of this chapter spoke about a comparison I had heard of before. It was the mentioning of what a flight attendant says regarding the oxygen mask in case of a problem during the flight. She reminds us to “place the mask on ourselves first and THEN help another person” . . . even our children. We cannot help our child if we have passed out.
I am really bad about this. I virtually ALWAYS try and put the mask on others, and then make sure they are comfortable . . . then I will worry about mine. More than once, that codependent technique has bitten me hard.
This chapter reminds us of an important part of the commandment about loving God first, and then we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Many of us disregard the part about loving ourselves. We must learn to take care of ALL of us; our bodies, spiritual health, emotional health, and our relationships. Again, I probably need to read this chapter again, numerous times. As I sit and reflect, I am wondering what I am doing?! It strongly links with codependency . . .
I will go hungry so another person can eat. I will work on my time off, which SHOULD be time with my kids or to me, just because someone “NEEDS” my service. That is not their fault. It is mine.
If my life was certainly soon to end, I would be proud of my sacrifices to and for others, but I would have regrets for not enjoying the life God gave me. He has called me to be a servant in many ways, but not to surrender my life to others. In the midst of doing my perceived calling FROM Him, I usually do not factor time FOR Him in the equation. RED FLAG: Something is out of balance.
The chapter goes on to talk about going overboard with self focus on physical things. The body is a “temple,” but that does not mean to worship our bodies. The reference meant that our bodies are a temple for GOD to reside. In that way, we should keep it healthy, along with other things. Don’t trash the temple.
Basically, we tend to do as we feel. We go to church when we feel like it, be nice when we feel like it, work at being a better parent when we need to feel better about ourselves, not when the child needs to be loved. We have to learn to acknowledge and experience our emotions without allowing them to control us.
I see this about like balancing on a tight wire. We are not to suppress our feelings, as so many of us are taught to do. We are to be true to our emotions. YET, we cannot be a ball of emotions and allow life to be dictated by them. The goal is to feel what you feel, but do what GOD wants you to do. (My pendulum totally swings all of the way to the left or right side here ...)L
COOL QUOTE: “This is your life. Are you who you want to be?”
                                          By Switchfoot

The Monkey Bars of Life …
The author speaks of an analogy with him/his son and us with God. His son was on the monkey bars and then wanted to get down. The dad said, “I am here. Just let go and I will catch you.”
That did not sound very good to the son. He did let go out of necessity, and was caught. The author says this is what God says to us. We have to let go.
For me, I came face to face with a problem where I was hanging on to the monkey bars. Here is the scenario:
You are trying to become financially FREE. It takes focus, sacrifice and discipline. Summer is coming and part of your peace in life comes from that tradition that has been around for over 2 decades. EVERY year, summer includes a trip to the beach. However, the trip will be about a $2000 expense with work time missed. It is a treasured memory for your children, an escape for you and everyone will be saddened. Now what?
Well, I can tell you. IF something were to happen to me or one of my children, whether that is by death, injury or sickness, I would regret not taking the vacation with them. It would be lost time … but I would have saved money. At that point, what will money matter? Sure, I need to be debt free, but I am not sure the sacrifice will thrust me THAT far forward. I’m going to the beach and taking my children. It may only be for 3 days, we may eat PB&J and the room won’t be a 5 star … but sand, sun, pool, tans, shall unite with me and my kids. That’s my decision after looking at it through 30 days. God and I will make a way. I will let go of the bars.

THE question: What are you clinging to right now that you need to let go of in order to move forward in your life? What keeps you from trusting that God will catch you?
Well, I know my biggest answer, but I will not share it on the internet and most likely not in class. Good thing I just need to share it with God, and that’s all that matters … Ha!

The last part I will mention that hit me for DAY SIX was about making it count; risk management and just doing it. The parable was the one about a man delegating to his servants and giving them money. The first 2 servants took the money and multiplied it, while the 3rd had fear and buried his for cautious reasons. That did not go over well.
I by no means think this story has to do with $ management. It has to do with gifts.
When God gives us a gift, we are to go out and share it. We are to sharpen our ability and use it for the good of God. We are NOT to “hide it under a bushel.”
We cannot always play it safe and there is always room to grow.
Another good quote:
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
By William Shedd

24 more days,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

DAY FOUR: 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life

This segment of the book was eye opening for me. I recognized I have taken the mindset of what I can do, through ME. I’m a little (more than a little) ashamed, but denying it won’t get me anywhere. Scripture does not say, “I can do all things through me who gives me strength.” It says, “I can do all things through CHRIST.” Phil 4:13
          DAY FOUR is about focusing on connecting with the Ultimate Power Source. That would not be any person here; it can happen only through connecting with God/Jesus.
The authors use the comparison of a vine, its branches and the fruit produced. For the best results, the branches must go through the pruning process. At times, they must be cut, and then they will be more fruitful. The cutting process seems painful as it seemingly strips the branches down to nothing, but it is vital.
The branches ARE where the fruit comes from, BUT the branches cannot produce the fruit without the vine. Obviously, God is the vine and we are the branches. I get that. That doesn’t mean I enjoy or look forward to the pruning process, but it will happen if I’m depending on The Vine, which IS my intention. I definitely need to get more connected.
          As I write this, I am aware that all of us are at different spiritual levels. At this season in/of my life, I am most likely in the middle of the road. I am neither exceptional nor unplugged. Honestly, I have hit a distant phase in my walk. This happened because I had powerful faith and then I did not get the results I wanted . . . so I am in the corner with my tail between my legs.
My distance happened because of going through an intense journey with a family. The journey lasted 14 months and changed many lives. That journey was the inspiration for the poem, “No Regrets.” Basically, I walked beside my dear friends as their little boy battled cancer.
Before the sickness, I was very connected with Jesus. DURING the sickness, I went straight to the top. It was only between me and God. (Yes, I know they are One, but that is how my simplistic mind works.) I discovered that it seems “safer” to be in a formal relationship with God; Jesus can seem a bit too personal. Ironically, that is WHY He came here . . . To suffer as we suffer so that we may relate to Him. He knows pain.
When my little hero child left this earth, I lost my God/Jesus communication abilities for awhile. They are not fully restored, but are improving. I was not “mad,” I was simply like a child who did not get what she wanted. When my children don’t get what they ask for, and I am seemingly the culprit . . . they are not very talkative to me either. Since we ARE God’s children, I take comfort that He understands. He knows I am too green to understand the big picture.

Day 4 from, "ONE MOMENT TO LIVE":
·        We put a lot of emphasis on our physical health but neglect our spiritual health because, again, we cannot see it. We are not to seek spiritual growth; we need to focus on spiritual health. Healthy things grow, so there is no need for so much energy to be placed on growing. (That is a freeing thought.) I am not the vine and there is no need in trying to be it. I solely need to be a branch.
·        If we were faced with our earthly, physical body’s collapse, wouldn’t we want the part that will live forever to be healthy?
·        How do we stay connected with the vine? That’s ALL we need to focus on. Over these 30 days, we do not have to work up our own willpower to quit smoking, stay on a diet or try and fix broken relationships. (YAY!) We simply have to stay connected to the Power Source and He will give us more than will power, He will give REAL power. The power to do everything HE wants us to do. We just need to listen. (That’s doable!)
·        We need 2 connectors to stay healthy, grow and produce the best fruit. Constant communication and constant confession.

1.       Communication: Simply plug in the techniques we already have! We can do this without a problem because we have polished the skill quite well. We use the cell phones and computer to stay in constant connection with our jobs and things that are important to us. We simply need to do that with God. Prayer, quiet time and getting in the book . . . The B-I-B-L-E. Wake up and start the day with a little talk-time, then check in with the Vine throughout the day. He has a quicker, more private communication method than a cell phone or PC. It is silent and can be done at any time. Just a thought away. When you are making a decision, feel angry, stressed or confused, just take a second and touch base with Him. Dump it all on HIM. He can handle it. (Just don’t forget part 2 of communicating. Talking is one part. LISTENING is required for productive, effective communication.)
2.     Confession: This is not a “beat yourself up” session. It is an owning of error and a conscious effort to do better. It is cut and dry. Instead of greasing our mistakes over with the mindset of, “Well, at least I am not as bad as ____,” we can worry about the person in the mirror and improve that person to be the best he/she can be. Confession is nothing more than agreeing with God that OUR way is wrong, and repentance is deciding to go God’s way. In simple terms, “I’m sorry. I will try very hard not to do that again. Please forgive me and help me when the same situation arises again.” Boom, that’s it.

I don’t know how others are absorbing any of this, but I am getting a glimpse of a possible key to unlock a big door. It appears to me that more attention needs to be placed on the things we cannot tangibly see, hear or touch. I can see that in day to day life, the most powerful things affecting me (good and bad) are energy things. I am not calling God and Jesus “energy,” but I am not denying it either. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. That is some powerful energy.  

26 more days,

P.S . . . Who’s going to wake and watch THE ROYAL WEDDING?!? I AM!! IAM!!
I woke for ^^Princess Diana’s^^ funeral, and I will watch her firstborn baby boy marry a beautiful princess!
Though Kate and ^^Princess Diana^^ seemingly have few similar features, somehow, I can see ^Diana^ through and in her. The way I see her, Kate is like ^Diana^ in the way that they were both blessed with angelic smiles and sparkling eyes. J We all long to see a magical fairytale (somewhere inside us). . . and we shall get the chance in less than TWENTY-FOUR HOURS!!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DAY THREE: 30 days to a No-Regrets Life

I am slowly getting the hang of my new mindset. I am certain that I am no where near as passionate about living my life with only 27 days remaining as I should be. It is a little tricky to wrap my mind around such a huge concept without going overboard.
Before I get to what I have studied for DAY THREE, here are a few thoughts:
I want to welcome ETHAN’S ARMY! I see where many from the troop have already visited! J I sure do love you guys!!!! ({wink} Shhhh!! ;))
As far as my mindset, I have caught myself linking what I am doing to concepts in two movies, The Bucket List and Yes Man. The 30 day challenge seems to be a mixture of those 2 movies. The Bucket List is obviously a list of things to do before kicking the bucket . . . and Yes Man is about learning to try new things. ALWAYS saying yes and NEVER saying no. (I’m not sure what you can do with those random thoughts, but there they are . . .)

For my 3rd day, I did better than the 2nd. I pushed through some things I have put off doing for awhile. That made me squirm a time or two, but I really felt better once the deeds were done. Sometimes I tend to avoid things that I know will certainly receive a negative response. It is kind of like getting a shot. Its going to hurt, so just do it already! Anyway, if my time on earth ended in less than a month, I would want to play and have fun, but I would also want to tie up as many loose ends as possible . . . so I did a few of them.

A change I made yesterday was pertaining to my daughters’ tumbling practice. Their father has been taking them a lot lately; though I am not sure how that change happened.
I remember that at one time in my life, I could not imagine a mother NOT taking her child to practice and it almost angered me when the parent left. I thought, “Why does the parent not watch?! What if the child does something REALLY good and they miss it? Or, what if the child gets injured?!”
Somewhere between that day and yesterday, I became that mom . . . the one who did not stay and watch.
So, since I would REGRET that opportunity if something happened to me or one of my girls, I went to practice and watched it all. My girls were happy to have me there and they both did a great job. Even though my new bad habit (of not going) has only been in place about a year or so, I had already forgotten what it was like to sit with a group of parents proudly watching the kids. It also rekindled how great it felt to watch my little girls out there with all of the other children.
Thinking about it, my transformation is a dramatic change from the “me” I claim to be and who thought I was. It was a slow fade. The Kasi I have always been rarely missed any opportunity. In fact, I was appalled when the nurses tried to take my newborn babies to the nurseries after their births. I immediately set them straight by saying, “No way. Thanks, but I have waited 9 months to meet this baby. You are not getting her first moments, I AM! I’m not THAT tired.”
Sleep was of little to no concern to me, even after 21 hours of labor. I did not want to miss anything. I love that part of me . . . I need to bring it back.

Anyway, last night we walked out of their class to the car and that was when I realized what I had done. I REGRETFULLY locked my keys in the car. I used that opportunity to teach my children the valuable lesson of always making sure you have your keys before locking any door. There are better ways to spend $75 than on a locksmith. They were very kind as they waited outside with me for 30 minutes after practice was over until help could arrive. WE MADE A MEMORY!
We DID do prayers and talk time last night. I was asked some very interesting questions . . .

          These things stood out to me:

  • The authors compare us to a billionaire. His endless supply of $ is the same as our endless time. We think we have an abundance of time; therefore, we may not monitor it as closely. The point is that we are more likely to let extra time or $ slip through the cracks. When either of them becomes scarce or threatened, we not only buckle down, but we begin clipping coupons! Time and money . . . One is tangible, one is not . . . but their value is equal.
  • Time management and energy management go hand in hand. When we increase our energy, we multiply what we can do. Just because someone “works” an 18 hour day does not mean he/she accomplished as much as an effective person in half the time. Possibly, work-a-holism stems from poor energy management. Quantity vs. quality. “Not talking about how to add years to your life but rather how to add life to your years.”
  • Find out what consumes most of your time each day. From the statistic board of Kasi M. Bryon, I would like to vote: Facebook as #1 . . . TV as #2 . . . and smoking as #3. People would be amazed if they simply turned off FB access from their phones. It steals the invisible, idle time. That time could be A VERBAL DISCUSSION WITH SOMEONE.
  • The 80/20 Principle: Only 20% of total activity produces 80% of the work. Basically, 80% of our time is wasted if we were to scale it out.
  • Productivity paradox: Conditioned to believe that in order for our time to be worthwhile, we must have something to show for it. We must “produce” something. (That is sounding eerily familiar to my inability to play games.) People cannot enjoy relaxing by a pool, going for a walk, etc, because there is nothing to show for it.
  • Even the Creator rested. It is intended to be a part of our design and is something we need for balance. None of us would presume to be more productive than God, yet we act as though we cannot afford to stop.
  • The Shooks suggest keeping a journal about how we spend each day and rate what we accomplished and what we experienced.
  • We do time wasting things by default. Once we discover what they are, we can recognize when we do them and replace them with something productive. I like the concept of finding productive PLUS some. For example, cleaning out my closet THEN taking the clothes to a domestic shelter for victims of abuse who have left everything to start over fresh . . . AND pumping up my kids to do the same. Everyone wins.

27 more days,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This is a poem I wrote last year. It happens to go along with my 30 day study and seems so fitting . . .

No Regrets
July 9-10, 2010

Wisdom . . .
It is the prize which comes with age.
A treasure gained after enduring “life” . . .
Each joyful and painful stage.

Becoming one who is “wise”
Is not a quick or easy mission.
It takes a lot of hard work and time
To obtain such a position.

I am in the “wisdom forming cocoon;”
It is a mandatory state.
I am neither totally naive nor completely wise;
I am simply learning to appreciate.
I am not ready for the title of a Guru;
However, I am not on the playground anymore.
I am seeing things about life and death
Much clearer than ever before.

A small child was actually my Guru,
Though he was not aware he was playing this role.
He did not guide me by my ears with words of wisdom;
Instead, he touched my soul.
Typically, the child learns from the adult . . .
That is the normal cycle we see.
However, this was an exception to the rule
As the life lessons were exposed to me.

He and his family showed me many skills,
Ones I have never seen portrayed.
They once lived a life just like you and me . . .
But that is not how it stayed.
Sickness entered their home,
It was assumed to be the flu.
They waited it out for awhile,
And did all they could do.

The “flu” seems so stressful;
How we wish that was all which was going on.
It was not the flu at all . . .
Cancer had stricken their only son.
The days which followed were agonizing,
More than one could ever foresee.
It was a frantic treasure hunt to find a cure . . .
It was a lock with no sign of a key.

This time in my life,
It is one I shall never forget.
It showed me the value,
Of “Living life with ‘No Regret.”
A little boy and his family taught this lesson to me,
It took a little over a year.
They shared every single part with one another . . .
Every joy, smile, pain and tear.
(Click READ MORE for remainder)

DAY TWO: 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life

Yesterday did not go as well as DAY 1 for me. I allowed “life” to get in my way. I worked and then spent more time focusing on getting my house ready for an out of town guest than I should have done. She truly does not care if my house is perfect . . .
When it was time for my children to go to bed, I was busy. My girls and I did not have our talk time and I did not even stop to say bedtime prayers with them . . . Sad, but true. L
I will be more focused . . .

On to the 30 day challenge . . .
In the ONE MONTH TO LIVE workbook, we were asked, “What is the biggest risk you have ever taken? How did it make you feel? What was the outcome?”
As our group discussed those questions Sunday night, several of us answered.
My answer was: starting a business with no experience. No one in my family had ever done that, but I felt led to do so . . . so I did. The decision was indeed risky. It provided good and bad, highs and lows. I learned all about false friendships, $ management (or juggling,) and how to live off of little sleep and food. There was no time for either. My top discovery was that being in an industry does NOT qualify one to magically have the skills to smoothly operate a business in that industry. I gained a lot and lost a lot.
The time came and a decision had to be made . . . to continue on with “The American Dream,” (that is certainly a misleading little title) or close the doors after 8 years of operation.
The turning point was crucial. I could save the business, but the time and energy it required would be at the expense of my children. By the estimated time needed for the business to get back to a solid place, the time would have arrived for my girls to fly out of the nest. They would have had to raise themselves because mommy was busy working. The price was too high.
I chose to be the mom God called me to be. I never understood Him to say I should live a material dream and give my energy to those who would never appreciate it . . . plus, they would be gone at any time. Employees are not a permanent fixture and they typically look out for #1. My kids would still be here . . . at least until they became adults.
I am extremely happy with my decision!
DAY TWO: This lesson talked about rollercoaster thrill rides. Basically, do we want to ride the kiddie rides forever? We are presented with the option to play it safe and settle for far less than we were made for. In other words, being a person who is content with mediocre.
When choosing the rides at the park, we typically go for the one with the thrill, even if it scares the life out of us and makes us scream. Why do we not tackle LIFE head on as we do a theme park?

THE “SOMEDAY SYNDROME: We all dream of someday. Someday we will _____.  When everything settles down, when we make more money, etc . . . then we can savor life. But things won’t settle down. We will only begin looking for the next big thing; another accomplishment. Someday is TODAY.

This really spoke to me. My business proved to me how true that fact is. I recall doing so many huge things as a business owner. My hard work was tangible and visible. The business was built, the sign was hung and the employees were everywhere. I could see it, and so could anyone else.
However, I began to realize that something was slipping away from me. I had lost the ability to play with my girls (or even PLAY in general.) Sitting down, reading a book or playing a board game with them seemed to be a waste of time. I thought, “What am I accomplishing by doing something so meaningless and silly? I have important business things to tend to!”
The truth is that the board games and that quality time is priceless money deposited in the memory bank. Playing is important . . . but the world and my newfound, distorted viewpoint made it look insignificant and petty.
 I will play a game someday when I am not so busy.”
Ha! Not only will I ever be “not busy,” but now I have evolved out of a game playing person . . .
I am still trying to re-learn how to play without the need to feel like I have just moved a big mountain. It is difficult to be content with hanging out on the mountain instead of moving it.

When we look at life and the giants we face, we must look at them from a God perspective. Nothing is too big for God. We must have “ridiculous faith.” When God places on our hearts what needs to be done, it CAN be done; Even if it means closing the doors to your little empire that stands as representation of your hard work. God makes a way and shows you a rainbow after the storm. Now I can see, "What if I had handed my children's youth over to run a business?"
My goal and dream since I was very young has been to be the best mother I could be. That is what I had always wanted more than anything . . .

A quote from Pope John Paul IV:
Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then, we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it, I say! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”

Priorities need to be a priority.

28 more days,

Monday, April 25, 2011

DAY ONE: 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life

Though people are so different, we all have some things in common.
Birth and death WILL happen.
The birth of a person is such a fun, acknowledged process. We throw baby showers for the parents and child as we prepare for the arrival of a new life. Births are not overlooked and much thought/time is put into making sure everything is in place.
Why do we not do the same to prepare for our departure? Not many people want to think about death, yet we will ALL die. Why do we run from such a certainty as though it will go away if we ignore it? It is made a hush, hush thing and such talk is inadvertently classified as, “morbid, disrespectful, inappropriate and wrong.”
What is even more unique is that we CANNOT prepare for our birth because we obviously had no choice in the matter. BUT, we CAN prepare for our death (literally and by the way we live our lives.) However, most of us choose not to give it very much thought or time. It is too depressing.
I DO have one friend who taught me so much. She is my age and was diagnosed with aggressive cancer. It hit her hard, but she didn't stay down long. She accepted the certainty of her death as well as the fact that she nor any doctor knew when that would be. She planned her funeral, wrote her letters, chose her casket, made arrangements, bought her 3 yr old daughter her 1st training bra to have when she needed it . . . and so on. THEN, she began living! She got the icky stuff aside and put the info in a box for a friend to know what to do. Her husband would only have to help her kids when/if her death came sooner than she hoped. That was the end of that. She is still very focused on LIVING and ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT of her life!! I took a lesson and prepared the necessary paperwork just in case of a freak accident. My stomach felt sick while I was sorting through everything, but I felt a great relief once it was complete.
Granted, there is no need in dwelling on the inevitable, but to pretend it will not affect our lives is a bit ridiculous and unwise. We will not lead a happy life being held captive by the lingering reality of the end, yet accepting that there is an end will assist us in making the most of our time.
For some reason, my own mortality has always been a reality to me . . . Even as a small child, I maintained an acknowledgment for death when it came to my life as well as those I love. I have often wished that death was a more discussed topic in our culture, thinking it would be of the utmost help during the unavoidable grieving process death brings. When and if I mention how my mind thinks about this topic, most people look at me as though I have a third (or possibly fourth) eye. It is avoided talk, like the plague. Therefore, I don’t mention it a lot anymore . . . but I still think about it.
I take so much interest in walking through a cemetery and looking at a person’s final representation. It is the ultimate piece of artwork. What piece of art could be more important or hold more value than one displaying a person’s life? I even have a dream of custom making caskets and urns. (Thank heavens I cannot SEE the distorted facial expressions on many a face as that line is being read! . . . {whisper} FYI: Place your pre-purchased, custom made, bedazzled casket/urn orders by emailing! J) I envision having a business to help people properly, thoroughly celebrate a life. I imagine being like Jennifer Lopez in “The Wedding Planner,” only I will be, “The Funeral/Celebration of Life Planner.” It is strange to most people, but not to me. I think life is worth living and worth celebrating.
I was pleasantly surprised yesterday that the topic at church was about death and how we live our lives. It was clearly inspired by the life and death of Jesus on this Easter weekend. He lived His life to the fullest and was prepared for His death. The good news is that we can also accomplish such a thing. We can focus our lives and can also hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.”(Matt 25:23)
The pastor mentioned the start of a class called, “ONE MONTH TO LIVE . . . 30 Days to a No-Regrets Life,” and encouraged everyone to participate in some way. In short, the concept is, “What would you do differently if you KNEW you only had 30 days left on this earth?”
The authors of the book are Kerry and Chris Shook and their book, despite what many may think or predict, made it on the New York Times Bestseller list.
I am not very good at attending classes, but since this one just lasted for a month and I would only have to commit to attending four times . . . I knew I could handle that. (Not to mention, I am actually trying to get myself back in church the way I should be doing in the first place!)
I attended the 1st class last night.
We all gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house. It is not my place to judge, but by observation, I am going to guess that by the end of this month, the 2 of them will discover that they do not need to make many changes in their lives. They really have done a remarkable job living full, productive, life changing/altering lives in many ways. I only have this one biological aunt, and I have always said, “If the seat beside God is not already taken, it will be when my aunt gets there. She will be hanging out with Mother Teresa, her “heaven bff” . . . no doubt.”
Anyway, I liked the class and the book. The main focus so far is to reflect and think about your life. It is suggested to visualize your own tombstone, which is not a comfortable thought. In addition to your name, you will see the dates of your birth and death displayed . . . and in between, there will be a dash (-). How did you spend your dash?
Also, we were asked to summarize our lives in a short sentence. What would we want on our stone? What would we want people to know remember about us/our life? (I haven't done that yet.)
I liked the quote mentioned in the book by Harold Kushner. It says he is convinced that we are not nearly as haunted by the fear of death as much as we are by fearing something else. Possibly, we fear that as far as the world was concerned, “we might as well have never lived.” I read that 2 ways, both spoke to me. One was the way he intended it, which is the way I wrote it. We want to have made a difference in this world when we go.
The other way was what I “heard.” I interpreted his words differently. I initially thought he meant that in the big picture, we are so small, most of the world really will NOT know of our existence. Therefore, we may as well live a pleasing life to God and be who we are called to be. It all comes down to us and Him, not the world. Both are true.

We were to quickly think, if we KNEW there was only ONE MONTH left here, what are 5 things we would change about how we live our lives?

For me personally, here are my things:
1.       Attend church like I should and be more serious about my prayers and talks with God. I would quit waiting for He and I to get more connected “soon.” We’d get connected NOW. Our communication barrier would be quickly torn down.
2.     I would tell my kids more things . . . Things about my life and their childhoods. I would let them ask me anything. I would make sure we made a memory and they could reflect, “Every night, my mom, sister and I talked about random things.” Even if it was just a month long memory, at least we would have made it.
3.     I would go on and take the plunge with my book. I would stop dragging my feet and get through my final editing quickly. The call would be made to the real editor and I would ask her if she could put an “editing rush” on it. If I only had a month, I’ve probably already lost the time to see it printed and sold “in a store near you!L I would be finding a way to see if it could be a success and touch lives in some way . . . even if I had to personally hand it out to people. Also, I would no longer care if anyone knew who I was. Kasi and I would be one person and she would look exactly like ME!
4.     I would STOP CARING if people liked me or not and I would cease fretting over those who have a wall up in my direction. I would stop trying to tame the wild animals and enjoy time with the ones who love to be with me. The people who I love the company of and receive peaceful vibes from their spirits.
5.     Re-learn the books of the Bible and make sure my kids did too.

Of course, there are a few more things; but that’s enough for “DAY ONE.”
          Last night, I asked my daughters if we could just sit and talk (#2 on my list.) They were not too thrilled, but consented. I told them we could put a 5 minute limit on the talk, so they would not feel trapped. I told them silly stories, like, “When I was in kindergarten, the principal came in while we were lying on the floor for nap time and I started crying.”
They sighed in unison, “AWWWW!”
I also told them that I remember running down the hall in the 2nd grade. We had been told not to do that and that we would get a paddling if we did. A little boy and I ran down the hall. The teacher came out, I said I did NOT run, the boy got a paddling and I did not. That was the only time I remember blatantly lying . . . it obviously was not worth it as it STILL haunts me. I should have taken the punishment . . .
About an hour later, after some really good laughs and talks, I tucked my girls in to bed. We had a great night time talk with God (#1) and discussed how great it was to go to church (#1.) We went through the books of the Bible, but we did not successfully get them all correct (#5.)
It was a good day and if it would have been my last day . . . I accomplished all I wanted to in the hours that day held.

29 more days,

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting Back on that Horse

I took my youngest daughter on a mommy/daughter date Friday night. She chose the movie, Soul Surfer. It is a true story about a 13 year old girl named, Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm from a shark attack. (She is a professional surfer.)
          The storyline, the message and the main actors were all great. (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt are the parent actors.) Even more awesome than any of that, was the spiritual messages given throughout the movie. It was a breath of fresh air to hear the mentioning of Jesus, especially on this important weekend. Incredible faith and a beautiful testimony of a life lived for the right purposes were portrayed from start to finish. It is so refreshing to see people attempting to live the way God called us to do.
          I was quite impacted by Bethany’s perspective.
In the hospital, soon after she woke from surgery from the attack, she wanted to know when she could get back in the water. When asked if she was not afraid to get in the water, she replied that she was MORE afraid not to get back in because that meant she could no longer surf. The shark took her arm . . . not her will, her purpose, her desires or her driven spirit. She was back in the ocean, learning to surf with one arm in a month after the attack.
Her question made me think from 2 different perspectives. Mine personally and as a parent.
#1- Would I EVER get back in the water after a shark attack?
#2- Would I allow one of my kids to get back in the water after such an incident?

The truthful answer? All signs point to no.
I know this because of how I live my life now. I am still held captive by past tragedy and fears.
For example; When I was about 5ish, I was on a horse, he reared up and lost his balance . . . falling over on me.
I steer clear of horses and my kids have never been on one; yet, my sister and her children barrel race horses and have a stable. It seems that would have inched us past the fear . . .
Then, also when I was very young; I was playing outside with my friend one day. I stayed on the ground as she scurried up the tall steps of her deck. When she made it to the top, her flip flop got caught and she fell from the 2nd story down to the concrete patio. I watched it all . . . She was unconscious and had to be taken away by ambulance. (She was okay in the end.)
Presently, my kids and I do not use the steps from our 2nd floor sunroom. They have been taught to fear steps of a sundeck as I do.

Today, we went up and down those steps. Granted, I am still in no hurry to hop on a horse . . . Baby steps! The bottom line is that I have a choice. I can allow bad things from my past to govern my future, OR I can decide to over rule the memory.

A cool scenario was portrayed in the movie . . .
Bethany went to Thailand in an attempt to help the tsunami victims. When she walked along the ocean’s shoreline, she saw surfboards everywhere . . . but, no one was in the water surfing.
Because they recently had their entire lives shred and destroyed BY that water . . . No one wanted to “play” in it. To them, it looked and represented something terrible and dangerous.
True, at one point, the ocean’s wrath was in full rage and it was not a time to surf. But, that time had passed. The same ocean of devastation was the same ocean of peace . . . Just like “LOVE.” Love is what brings out greatest joys, AND is responsible for our greatest sorrows.
The mighty ocean seems to be perfect; a glimpse of heaven. Then we are astonished as we watch it transform right before our eyes. It lies peacefully within its boundaries, and in a matter of moments . . . becomes a fierce force that cannot be tamed. We all have to take cover as the water unites with the wind, forming into a beast and rages upon land destroying everything in its path.
Which cause more destruction? The tsunamis and hurricanes of the land and ocean? OR the tsunamis and hurricanes of love and the heart?
The ocean can be a place of peace and leisure as we lie in a state of relaxation on a float. Yet, that same ocean can be the cause of someone’s death. A person can swallow the water in the ocean, but can also be swallowed by the water of the ocean.
It is a difficult journey to move past a devastating time and/or fear, but more devastating to be trapped by it and in it for the remainder of our time here on earth.

There has been a topic on my mind for awhile and just happened to be the topic at church this morning. Go figure!! Soooo, I am now participating in a class about living as though I only have 30 days. (Read “Dancing and Singing with a Cowbell in Chicago.”) I will blog about it. Join me in the journey!

Making the most of my life . . . I’ve got a legacy to leave,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Die Young & Beautiful, OR Grow Old & Wrinkled...No Other Choices

I read an article about Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is having a very difficult time with something these days . . . He is not enjoying looking in the mirror.
In all honesty, it must be a horrible reality to be soooo gorgeous in your youth and, as the years pass, the person in the mirror evolves . . . Yet, it is still you. It must be like someone who has looked at his bank statement for as long as he can remember and sees an endless supply of $$$$ . . . THEN, the statements show an amount that may or may NOT cover the expenses for the month. What does a person do with that? It is difficult to transition from a diamond to a CZ with a smile on your face. It CAN be done . . . but I am sure it hurts.
I cannot imagine being known for my appearance by THE WORLD. Mother Nature is not very kind. I know it sounds vain, but really . . . all Arnold has ever seen in the mirror is something most men have never seen. Not many could relate. It is undoubtedly an unfamiliar sight. I know I recognized and appreciated Arnold and his bod when he was The Terminator and CONAN . . . Can't deny that.


            The missed and beloved ^^ Princess Diana ^^  will never age in anyone’s memory. She is endlessly, forever . . . BEAUTIFUL. However, she will not be here in her human form to see her firstborn get married . . . She would have been 50 this year; the year she gained a beautiful daughter-in-law.
                    Kind of makes you think . . .

No doubt, I would hope to see my children marry and start a family; even if I were incredibly famous and infamously beautiful in my prime . . . and had now aged to a new description. 
      The only solution; rid the house of mirrors . . . They are overrated anyway.

Thankful that I will never be known for my appearance . . . the benefits of an alias,

Monday, April 18, 2011

"AWAKEN" From Sleep...A Healing Dream

             I am going through the processes (mentally, emotionally & physically) of publishing my 1 ½ year labor of love. By June of last year, my book was basically as completed as it is now; I just need to push through the polishing phases. Virtually every day, my thoughts drift to the book. I may edit, reread parts, or ponder its meaning on a whole. Some days it steals a mere moment of my time, while others it embezzles hours. Regardless, not a day goes by that I forget it. It has become one of my children . . . only it is a lot quieter and not nearly as cute!
          I cannot summarize the contents of my book because it has an unusual evolution and takes a turn in a direction even I did not see coming . . . AND I AM THE AUTHOR. However, I can tell you one part of it and how it links to another book; Eat Pray Love.
{As I am writing this, I can only happily think to myself, “My greatest hope is that someone will read my book and it will speak to him or her as this one has to me.”}
          The part I can summarize about my book:
Almost 2 years ago, I thought I was living my happily ever after love story. The majority of the book is based around that relationship and the setting is primarily in the tiny country of Guatemala. I have visited that little country countless times over the past year and a half . . . not physically, but in my thoughts.
          That’s about all I will share at this point. Now, on to what Elizabeth taught me . . .

Last summer, I went to the bookstore on a mission to purchase the #1 Best Seller. It did not matter what the book was about, I simply wanted to compare my writing style to one who had obviously succeeded. I looked for the prized display sign that all authors desire over their books, “The NY Times #1 Best Seller.” The book was, “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. (I also watched the movie.)

Coincidentally, she experienced many of the same bumps in her road as I have; marriage, divorce, a new-found love that did not go so smoothly . . . and was on a search for inner peace.
Ahh, the journey for such a treasure as inner peace . . . it is worth the fight. Crazily, the key is not to figure out others or “life,” but to gain a deeper understanding of YOU . . . the most complex person you will ever meet; but, the one you need to understand the most.
There was a time in the book when she was in India learning to meditate and center herself. This is where she met a man from Texas. (He was my favorite character in the book.) He had a way of saying a small number of words, but those few words carried massive, profound messages.
At one point, she spoke to him about her past loves. She could not seem to move beyond them and let them go. (Not that she still wanted to BE with either of the men, but she still held on to emotional strings from them. She needed to move past the hurt . . . and possibly, even the good.) This man taught her to stop suppressing those feelings.
When her past relationships entered her thoughts, he said it was fine to allow her mind to go there. If she wanted to send thoughts or even love out to those feelings, that was okay. Send out love. He taught her to take the time and release the energy, whether it is good or bad, and then move on with the day.
It is important to get closure with people from our past. Closure does not mean a direct discussion with a person . . . closure WITHIN our minds. One night, he left her alone on top of a building in order for her to spend time with her past. Just her and her mental relationship with those she needed to release.

Though I did not hang out in solitude on a roof in India, it happened to me about 4 nights ago. I am not as far as Elizabeth in my intentional self-help thinking, but her story must have planted a seed in my subliminal mind. I was blessed with a dream.

In short, I will explain what I can in this small writing space.
I experienced a very wonderful, romantic, magical, unbelievable relationship about two years ago. HOWEVER, the relationship was deeper than, “me and a man.” (Well, the “romantic” part was only involving him, but there was so much more to it.) Anyway, the end of that relationship came about as quickly and powerfully as the beginning did. I was down for the count . . . Hence, how I had time to write a book.
As strange as it may sound, the man (the one I thought was my prince/knight in shining armor) is not a real person to me anymore. I do not know how to explain it, but he has evolved in my mind to a character in a book. I have no attached feelings to him or a direct love or hatred with him as an individual. He solely represents a time in my life. I discovered that the man I had assumed him to be was merely in my mind, the real him was quite different. It was a façade.
All the same, a scar was left tattooed on and within me. I gained a lot and lost a lot . . .
In the course of our brief love story, I had joyfully accepted/included 2 additional children (his kids) as my daughters, and they united with my girls as sisters. They took me as their 2nd mother, a role I treasured. In addition, their mother became very important to me in many ways. (She and their father had divorced several years earlier.) My relationship with her was a very one-of-a-kind situation. You would have to read the book to understand the concept; but it was special, priceless and life changing for me. She was and is truly angelic.

As time has passed, I have healed from the intensity that season in my life carried. It was soooo much more than a lost love between me and a man. It was a loss of BELIEVING in love. It carried uncertainty and darkness mixed with a newfound distrust of my own judgment. It wasn’t necessarily because of him, it simply happened to affect me in the way it did due to my life circumstances and timing.
I have not had any contact with my façade love since the relationship ended, nor do I desire to do so. His communication techniques are far too harsh for my taste. I see his words and ways as very sharp and cutting.
Though I would never seek approval from him . . . Thanks to a dream, I have closure from him . . . MY mental version of him.

In the dream, I visited Guatemala. I LITERALLY feel like I have recently returned from there. It is uncanny.
I had the opportunity to see the children again. I could hear their voices, see their beautiful faces and melt into hugs with them. Oh, how precious they are!
Their father was there, as was my ex-husband (The subconscious mind works strangely, yet quite clearly if one can interpret dreams!) Also, their father’s girlfriend was there . . . she had open wounds on her arms and said she had fallen. She was beautiful, but did not speak a lot.
The primary happenings were not very complex. The simple fact that he knew I was there and allowed me to see the children was healing. Also, he insisted that my ex-husband and I would not stay somewhere else, but that we stayed at his home. I could tell he was uncomfortable and not exactly excited, (which also fit the description for me, my ex and his girlfriend,) but he did it as an act of kindness.

Somehow, a place within me found a way to care and accept a kind side of him toward me. Even though things ended badly, part of me KNOWS that he knows I love his children very deeply and that I had no negative intentions regarding any of them . . . even him.
In reality, I cannot imagine that he would invite me and/or my ex-husband to stay at his house . . . but the odds of me and my ex-husband going to Guate together are also incredibly slim! It was a DREAM!

I remember waking up with a feeling of peace within me. I had such a rested, light and happy mood surrounding me all morning. The hole within me that had been left from the bad and the hurtful times was once again filled with a good energy. It did not rekindle a love or feeling for him. Instead, it ignited that time in my life as positive again. Good DID come of that relationship. It was not all bad. There was more to the entire picture than a man, what he said or what he did.
I made peace with him in my dream . . . in my mind. It is a concept his oldest daughter spoke of a year and a half ago. Even though she is a young girl, she had undisrupted clarity to recognize that needed to be done. I simply could not do it at the time. Things were a little too raw.
Through the blessing of a dream united with a concept from Elizabeth Gilbert, I have beautiful closure. We didn’t dance on a rooftop, but we did come face to face and he was civil. That’s all I needed.

What IS in the mind . . . IS!
          Learn to control thoughts. Learn to enjoy life.

Lovin that we can dream,