Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Inheritance

Have you ever heard the saying "Do as I say, not as I do"? I heard it often from my Dad growing up. I was the oldest of two girls, growing up in an Italian Catholic family where kids were to be seen and not heard. Kids were to respect their parents, and all other adults for that matter. We didn't dare "talk back" for fear we'd get a swift back hand across the kisser. You did as you were told, and you did it at the moment you were told to do it. There was no "hold on a sec" or "let me finish this level first" or "why do I have to do that???" stuff. Oh no, no way. We went to church on Sundays and to catechism on Wednesdays. Dad worked and was the "man of the house". Mom stayed home and handled all the domestic and family duties. There were wooden spoons involved on occasion, sometimes worse. There was a lot of yelling on Dad's part, because that's what his Dad did, and his Dad before him. He knew it was his job to keep us in line and he did it with fear because that's what he thought dad's do.

Mom and Dad were quite different in many ways. Dad grew up in New York. He had tattoos, smoked, drank and was basically lucky that he lived past his teenage years. Dad had a very short temper. Mom NEVER smoked, would NEVER get a tattoo, barely ever drank (besides wine at dinner, because in Italian families that doesn't count), and wouldn't hurt a fly. When Dad was mad you were in for it. When Mom was mad, you started to giggle at her "mad mom" tone of voice and she ended up giggling too. Even with these distinct differences, there were some traits that they shared. And these were long held beliefs and ways of living that have been passed down for generations. Ideals and ways of being that were never questioned, that were part of who they were, part of who WE were. A legacy of traditions that were inherited over countless generations.

There is part of that way of living that is very cool, and that I even miss a little bit. The big family dinners on Sunday filled with homemade manicotti and meatballs, chianti and ricotta cheese cake, We were (are) so loud! Everyone talking over each other, and all at the same time. The little mystic remedies and prayers that Grandma conjured up to take care of ring worm (I remember that had something to do with a fig) or headaches, that had been passed down from her mother and would hopefully be passed down to me one day. The closeness, the loyalty,the affection and love (LOTS of hugs and kisses), the comfort of a family all on the same page. You never had to wonder if you were loved in our family.

There is also part of living that way that could never work for me now. There was no questions aloud. There was no thinking or talking about a different way. This is the way things are done, period, end of discussion (before one even started). There was no crying. That was pointless, and if you are crying "for no reason" then someone was going to "give you something to cry about". You held back. You held back your tears if you needed to cry. You held back your opinions if they were different. You didn't cause waves, because waves weren't good. Kind of the whole walking on eggshells thing.

This little story isn't anything extraordinary. We all grew up with families that had "stuff", both endearing and a little disturbing. No one had perfect parents. Some people grew up suffering abuse, some people grew up in seemingly perfect households with a family that kept their skeletons safely tucked away in the closet. We all go into our adult years with bumps and bruises from childhood. How else would we know how WE want to do it, to do life? How else would we have some idea what kind of parents we want (or don't want) to be? And now we are the parents. We are living out loud, in front of our kids. they are watching and listening to ALL of it. I don't even have to ask where my boys learned to roll their eyes or talk with sass. They are observing the way we interact, the way we communicate. How we handle stress, how we embrace joy. Do we follow our dreams? Do we ask questions? Are we patient? Do we encourage them to be themselves no matter what or do we try to stifle them or shove them in a box? Do we DO as we say or are we all talk? Do we treat people the way we tell them they should treat people? Are we kind? Are we assertive? Are we compassionate? Are we honest? Aahhhhhh!!!

Sometimes it can feel like A LOT, if you let it. If you worry and stress over how they are going to turn out. If you put all of the responsibility of who they are, and the people they will grow to be, on your own shoulders. As parents we try so hard. We agonize over decisions. We try to protect them from pain at every corner, We try to push them just enough but not too much. And here's what I think we should do. We live the best way we can. We live from our hearts, from our souls. We let that guide us. These little people learn life by watching us live it. Much much more than what we say. Let go of the inheritance that was passed down. Appreciate what it was, and love the people who gave it to you. Use what you can from it, and trash the rest. There is nothing to be resentful about. There is nothing that you need to carry with you that does not add to your quality of life. There are no victims, or grudges to be held. Now is now and then was then. If we want our kids to live a life of joy, we need to choose joy. If we want our kids to tap into their creativity and discover their gifts, we need to slow down and tap into ours. We need to live out loud. Be honest and transparent. Embrace what is with gratitude and hopeful hearts. The inheritance we leave is the life we choose to live. It's always a choice.

Choose LOVE.
Choose JOY.
Choose FAITH.
Choose WONDER.
Choose GRATITUDE.

Show our babies how to live life by living yours with purpose and intention <3

P.S. While living this life out loud, knowing my kids are watching, I take time to meditate. I encourage the boys to do it if they want to but don't force them. They surprised me with this precious moment at the beach last week. It made my heart happy.
















Monday, September 14, 2015

Somebody SMACK Me

It was Sunday. The day of rest and contemplation. Family day. Chillax, unwind, connect. Kay, that's not happening for me. Sunday is the tie up all the loose ends before the week starts again day. The last few loads of laundry, trip to the grocery store (or God forbid, Costco) for lunch goodies day. The, hope you are enjoying that spot on the coach watching the football games for 8 hours husband day.

In the morning, as usual, I got up and had my cup of coffee. Mulled around a little bit. Decided what I would do and in what order. Then set at it. First throwing in laundry and starting on the floors. The DAMN dark wood floors. My nemesis, big fat thorn in my side, dark walnut wood floors. Oh my ggaaawwd! Why did I ever think it was a good idea to put in dark wood floors? In my defense it was PRE kids and dogs when we installed them. They were polished and deep brown and beautiful. Now they are scratched, dull, and show every single itty bitty speck of everything. The sand box the kids bring home in their shoes everyday.The dog hair from my white haired dog that sheds like a...like a... I don't know what! He sheds constantly. I have taken to vacuuming him with the hose extension on the vacuum. The crumbs and pieces of food the kids drop, the water spots from above referenced dog after he drinks from his water bowl and walks through the living room leaving a trail of water that evidently didn't make it all the way IN to his mouth. So I dry the water spots, sweep, then vacuum, then mop. It's a hot day. My sweet white dog (Zeke), goes to cool off in his favorite spot outside. His favorite spot is the big giant hole he dug under the trampoline. Before the floor is even dry the dog comes back in from his lounging to get more water. Trampling through the house, leaving dirty footprints every few inches for at least 8 feet. I almost cried. I did curse. And then I got angry and frustrated. I started to take it out on hubs who was relaxing on the couch in front of the fan watching the games (his favorite cool down spot).

I gave up on the floors, threw the laundry in the dryer, and headed to COSTCO, while the hubs watched football and the boys played video games. On the way I started thinking to myself..."are you really going to Costco now? On Sunday? In this mood? You know it will be packed. Everyone will be lollygagging, waiting for their food samples and trying to pull their kids out of the big bin of giant stuffed bears." I almost turned around, but decided it needed to be done. I could do this. After I parked the car I stopped, and sat there for a minute. I look at my bracelet reminding me to "be a light". I took several deep breaths. I decided this...I was not going to carry the floor frustrations into the store with me. I was not going to give everyone in my path the big gnarly stink eye, forcing them to move out of my way or pay! I was not going to share this negative energy. I was going to go in there, and smile at people. I was going to be patient as I waited for the family of five to get their cup of vitamin infused juice and little piece of bean burrito at the sample table. I was going to breath, and to take my time. I will not lie and say it was easy. There may have been a moment or two where I almost lost my shit. But I didn't! And I smiled. And I thanked people. And I remained focused on the energy I wanted to share.

The day went on much in the same way. I struggled to continually bring my focus back to joy, to gratitude, to slow down and find peace. I had to catch myself before I snapped at the dudes (little and big). Maybe it's hormones. Maybe I'm tired. Maybe it's just what it is. But some days are like that right? Some days are just a little more challenging, more trying on your patience. Some days it's more difficult to focus on the good stuff. A little later, after I decided I was over the floor issue...(whatever, it's not like I am really going to have a clean house for at least the next 10 years anyway), I laid down on the couch next to hubs and read a little bit of my book. I went outside with the boys and watched them do tricks in the trampoline. I reflected on the day of dirty floors and laundry and frustration and thought..."Good Lord, someone smack me." There are families in this world right now running for their lives, away from their homes, to who knows where, just looking for safety and shelter and a future. Their struggle is a struggle for LIFE, not clean floors and full cupboards! How very blessed am I to have a home and to be able to buy the things my family needs? To not have to wonder where our next meal will come from, if we'll have somewhere safe and warm to sleep. How lucky am I to be worried about dirty floors, when there are people that have no floors, or roofs over their heads at all?

I try to live intentionally. To focus on gratitude, on sharing my gifts, on truly living this life. The openness of our hearts and minds ebb and flow like the waves of the sea. It's work to keep open minds and soft hearts, it's not always easy. But the more you do it on purpose, the easier it gets. I guess kind of like running or any kind of physical conditioning. When you are just starting out, you think you are going to diiiee. It's so difficult and so much work. You are sweaty and tired and out of breath. But if you keep going at it, a little bit at a time, you are able to run longer and faster without breathing so hard or getting so tired. Some days you run like the wind, some days you chug along, but you keep going stronger and more able each time. I'm noticing the same thing with learning to live with gratitude, giving and joy as my focus. There are days when it's like coasting downhill on a bike, breeze blowing my hair back and a smile on my face. And, there are days when it's like climbing a steep hill on that bike, trying to not get off and walk it, but pushing hard to stay moving forward.

Thank you God for my dirty wood floors, for the food in my cabinets, for the dudes in my life. Thank you for the gifts that you put deep inside of me. Thank you for the little girl who speaks to me, who reminds me of who I am meant to be. Thank you for the sea and the sky and the beauty all around me.

I am a lucky girl indeed.




Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Decisions Decisions

This post has been milling around in my brain for weeks now. With the start of the new school year madness, I haven't found myself in a place to sit down and put it all into words. But I can only hold off so long. When there is something burning inside, it starts to keeps me up at night. The little girl is whispering in my ear as my eyes flutter closed...."you have something to share, remember girlfriend...wake up, go do it now!" After a night time vitamin and a little meditation I was able to fall asleep, but knew I better get my fingers on this keyboard directly after dropping the boys off or she would be yelling instead of whispering. So, I made the decision, to look away from the floors that need to be cleaned and the laundry set to be washed, and give some time to my passion.

Decisions can be tough, more so, when our perspective on life and it's meaning is askew. I can remember being a little girl, probably about 8 or 9 years old, paralyzed with fear if I had to make a decision. What if I made the wrong one?! Surely it would be the end of the world as we knew it, and it would be all my fault! I have a terrible memory, but I can still feel the anguish. Somewhere along the line, that took a 360 for me. I became a decision making BEAST. I wasn't holding back, or worrying about the what ifs as much, I was making a choice and pulling the damn trigger. I still tend toward that way now. I find it difficult to have several meetings regarding the same subject to discuss all the what ifs and possibilities. I would rather look at the situation, make a choice, move on it, and see what happens. I guess I learned something after my childhood of stealthy decision making avoidance....what ifs only matter if you let yourself see them with fear in your eyes. What ifs are really no reason to stop in your tracks. So, what if...what if it doesn't work? Well, then you learn lessons you were meant to learn from that and try something else. The world is not going to fall into a big dank sink hole.

We, as humans beings, make thousands of decisions every day. THOUSANDS. As soon as we open our eyes it starts. Shall I push snooze? Ugghhh, YES! What should I make the kids for lunch? How shall I respond to that email? Do I really need to spend that $6.00 at Starbucks...DUH. Just stuff, all day long right? But guys, these aren't the decisions that matter. The decisions that really matter, are soul decisions, because remember, we are not just the skin and bones and brains, we ARE the soul. How can I bring the light today? How can I share love? The lady in front of me in this line is doing 3 separate transactions and my physical self is getting tense, what is the best way to react to this? My little dude is talking back and being sassy, I want to yell at him, what should my response be? I'm frustrated with people at work not pulling their weight...am I going to let it make me resentful, or am I going to choose differently?

Every morning, when we wake, we have the opportunity to set our intentions. We can decide how we want to live. We can decide to choose joy, even if we find ourselves in a situation that threatens to bring frustration and anger. We can choose patience, even if our initial feeling is REACTION. We can decide to share our gift and live our passion, or to stifle it, let it slowly die inside. We can let our long held ways of behaving just run their course, following easier paths that take no effort because it's just "how we are", or we can decide on new ways, that bring health and peace. What an awesome gift guys! That every morning, we get to wake up and start over. Really...throughout each day we can do that too. Maybe you fell back into a negative reaction based on someone else's action or words toward you. No one can be a pillar of peace and light every second. Give yourself some grace. Decide in that moment to let it go, to refocus on how you INTEND to be.

I've been thinking about intention a lot. And as a family, each of us has things that we want to be or to remind ourselves of. Just little things to bring each of our own focus back. I admit, I spear headed this little revolution in my family, but it does slowly but surely seem to be taking hold. We started the school year with intention bracelets. I surprised the boys with them on the first day. My husband has one, and so do I. They aren't magic, but there are wonderful little reminders. I look at mine many times throughout the day. Mine..."Be a Light". I ask myself when I look at it..."Am I bringing light? How can I bring light in this situation? How can I leave this interaction with the other person feeling loved?" My hubs has "Breathe". He has been working towards not allowing circumstances to control his emotions. He is deciding to breathe, and remember that his reaction, to whatever the situation, is his choice and his responsibility. (That is one that everyone in my little tribe works on daily, with reminders from each other). Carter has "Fearless" to remind him, there is no reason to fear. No matter what, to have faith. Fear is a choice. To choose to not fantasize on the worst that COULD happen but on the awesome that likely will happen. Charlie has "Strong and Kind" to remind him that he can choose to be kind even when he is angry. And to remind him, even when he is feeling inferior to his brother, he is strong.

These decisions, these are the ones that MATTER. This life...we aren't guaranteed anything people. Although we look to tomorrow with hope and wonder, we can't live today like tomorrow is promised. We need to be thoughtful of our ways, of our intentions. We need to be conscious of how our actions and thoughts affect everyone and everything. Do we want to bring hope? Do we want to bring strength and grace and love? Do we want to judge harshly, ourselves and the world? Do we want to be fearful and skeptical? Do we want to feel powerless because there is "nothing we can do?" There is always something we can do. WE CAN DECIDE!