Gifts Not Gaps, Connection vs. Conflict

These are the words that I repeat daily in my mind and out loud with my family. 

Today my husband said the words, as if they were his original thoughts. This is a huge compliment. They stuck and mean something to him too and I loved this moment.

I sometimes have a tendency to focus on the gaps, the little things that frustrate me, instead of the gifts that my family bring to my life. I want to stay in the space of creating connections and happiness and seeing the gifted moments and living happily ever after, day by day. When I focus on the gaps, I get stuck in a negative place and I don’t like that. So this is a daily practice to overlook the gaps, to let go, and to get back to joy as quickly as possible.

When my kids are arguing with each other, I ask them if they are creating connections or conflict with one another and if they don’t answer with connections, I ask them what they can do to create a connection instead of a conflict. It empowers them to choose and to take ownership of their actions and to focus on creating peace, just as soon as possible. Our goal is to create happiness and to take care of each other, all the time. 

This is how we find and create happiness day by day.

  
Choose peace.

Choose love.

Choose gifts.

Choose connections.

We get to choose every day!!

What will you choose tomorrow?

nAMaste

  

Opinionless

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I’ve been thinking about opinions lately.

In my family, we have lots of opinions and strong feelings and ideas. We are not afraid to share them and debate them and argue our sides. We are passionate and rather confident with what we each believe, which is healthy and great, but having lots of opinions can sometimes and most times, conflict and bounce against each other creating friction and tension.

I’m not even talking about philosophical opinions. Just basic and strong opinions, like which way the toilet paper roll should hang, or whether we should go for a hike. Sometimes they are over where people should sit. I mean these are really important things to feel strongly about and to discuss and debate, am I right?

The last couple of times I’ve been home, I’ve been practicing having less opinions and listening more than talking. Can I just tell you how much peace I experienced?  Maybe I even offered peace to others through my stillness and acceptance of what was and by not reacting to opinions that were different than mine. I actually enjoyed listening to the debates and not partaking in the conversation, except as a listener, smiling and nodding.  I didn’t feel any tension or stress and this was an A-HA moment. I let people be and didn’t try to move the ocean current of debate in any particular direction. I was just present.

I thought about the Girls’ trips I’ve been on and how much joy I experienced in this type of setting. One of the reasons why I love them so much, is because everyone just goes with the flow and the opinions about what to eat, where to go and what to do are carefree and easy and there is usually immediate group consensus without conflict. An A-HA connection!  Our opinions are in alignment, almost immediately.

Now I’m not advocating being boring and a bump on a log without any feelings or expressions. I’m just wondering if we practice being a little bit more accepting and flowing with other people’s opinions without feeling as strongly about our own or thinking that they are wrong, that we might swirl our ideas together like dance partners and just enjoy being in the moments together a little longer, in sync. We might just celebrate our gifts versus our gaps. Just sayin’

Well, that’s just my opinion. ūüėČ

nAMaste

 

H2O – Help 2 Others

I tend to keep my writing neutral and focused on one love and not religion, so not to separate us into categories of believers and non-believers.  I believe that we are all more alike than we are different and that our belief systems should not separate our oneness. We may choose different paths for living moral lives and we are all coexisting and expressing love in different ways, which is a beautiful process.

We are members of an active, loving, community building church. Our motto is rooted in Christ, reaching out in love.  Our faith is actionable and I want to share a story about how our church family is helping the homeless.

We have a mid-week program for 2nd through 6th graders, who come to church every week for 2+ hours and share fellowship, bible study, a meal, prayer, and an activity, all run by volunteers, even the cooking dinner part. ¬†It’s amazing to be part of and to witness.

Last week, our activity was filling brown, paper lunch bags with items that we can give to the homeless in our community. We had stations where the kids were writing cards, preparing muffins to be baked, decorating the outside of the bags, and then one to fill the bags.

One of the love notes looked like this:


 Inside the bags, the kids placed a rain poncho, a can of vienna sausages, instant oatmeal packets, squeezable applesauce packets, a fruit bar, and a love note.


They filled over 160 bags. As they left for the evening, each kid was told they could take 3+ bags home with them and they were told to keep them in their cars and to hand them out with their parents to those in our community who were in need.

Charlie was very excited for this event and couldn’t wait to be able to find his first person to help. ¬†While he was coming home from his soccer game this weekend, a homeless person was pandering for money at the intersection. Charlie¬†told his dad that he had to stop and give the man one of his H20 – Help To Others bags. Jeff was confused at first, because he didn’t realize that Charlie had been prepared to serve others right there and then. Charlie¬†was insistent that Jeff open his window and give it to the man standing nearby before the light changed and he missed his opportunity.

Jeff told the man that he had a care package for him and asked if he would like to have it. The man agreed and was very thankful for the gift and connection.  Charlie watched and felt content. The two of them talked about their experience the rest of the way home and Jeff praised Charlie for his persistence and active interest in following through and helping the man, standing in the cold.

Sometimes sharing my faith makes me uncomfortable because I don’t want to leave anyone out or have anyone with different beliefs than mine to feel¬†disinterested because it’s a discussion about something they don’t believe in. The root is still the same and that is the connection I hope you find, whether you’re Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or other. We are all rooted in love. One love.

I shared¬†this story because I wanted you to see faith in action. I want you to see the good that churches provide a place for people to gather and to create good deeds and to make our communities a little bit better. We are teaching our children compassion, to be giving, and to help others. I’m sure you are too, perhaps in similar ways and different ways too. ¬†This is just one of the many ways that connect us to love and to serve each other.

Do you have a story to share about helping others, big or small?

nAMaste, BeLoveRs

Stunned

I think this is the only word to describe the feelings inside my body again.

There was another shooting at Northern Arizona University (NAU)¬†this morning and my cousin’s best friend was killed and 3 more kids are injured. This is not okay,¬†not fair and not right. ¬†She shouldn’t have to be experiencing another tragedy like this.

On the same day, there was another shooting in Houston, Texas on a college campus, leaving one person dead.

Our children go to to college to learn how to learn and to become independent and responsible adults. I didn’t think that they had to learn these type of survival skills and how to deal with this type of pain and loss. ¬†I can’t believe that Jeff and I were talking about what advice to give our kids should they ever be in a situation like one of these.

I am scared and feel vulnerable again. One person’s actions ripple and affect us all. ¬†Families are destroyed because of one moment of random selfishness.¬†Why is it okay for some people to use violence to solve their problems? What is causing people to be so distraught that they no longer value life?

We are definitely connected and our country needs healing.

I know people are looking for reasons and want to understand why. They want gun control measures, and I think yes, maybe so, but this doesn’t get to the why and focuses on a band-aid and doesn’t really fix the underlying problems.

Why are young men¬†shooting other people? ¬†I’m sure there are several reasons. I think that our youth are missing a sense of purpose and structure. Families fall apart. Religious institutions have lost popularity. We have violent video games that are readily available. ¬†Our mental health system is a joke. Community service is not a priority, and instead there is a strong focus on self which might not be the best thing. Sure, it’s great to be self-aware, but probably not so self-absorbed. We need each other. We need to help and to serve one another. ¬†We need to accept ourselves and one another. We need to belong to each other because we are all connected. One Love.

If you wish to support¬†the families involved in the NAU shooting today, there is a Go Fund Me account set up here: ¬†NAUstrong¬† “All funds raised through this campaign will be donated to the victims of the shooting to help them with their various expenses following this tragedy. Stay strong everyone. Call up your loved ones and tell them you love them.”

nAMaste and rest in peace, Colin Brough.

The Good Life Quilt

What if we could stitch a quilt of love between us?

What if we could take the values that give our life meaning and stitch them together and create a warm blanket to share?

What would you include in this quilt?  Would we all include the same things?

I would weave the common good, courage, justice, love, peace, kindness, truth, compassion, fairness, tolerance, acceptance, hope, freedom, passion, creativity, integration, justice, and connection.

  
What values would you add?

What would be the purpose of this Good Life Quilt?

I think having one would provide us warmth and something to share. It’s colors and diversity and patterns would be woven together and give us something beautiful to touch and to see and to build together.

When Charlie was born, he almost died. We were filled with fear and did not know what was wrong with him for 6, agonizing days.  We had no idea whether he would live or not  We had no control. And we just had to wait and watch and pray. We were scared and it was a very lonely feeling, even though there were so many that wanted to help us. One thing that provided comfort in the sterile intensive care unit, was a handmade quilt inside his bed. I wondered where it came from and why it was there. It was stitched by a volunteer group who gave of their time and their talents and added warmth and color and a sense of home to his little bassinet. It felt like a warm hug and provided hope of normalcy, that one day he’d be in a cozy bed in our home. Dreams do come true.

May you be covered with a Good Life Quilt and stay warm and loved.

nAMaste

The Teens Are Alright

     
   
We had a Friday Night Light High School football game tonight at the Levi Stadium. 

I brought a car full of kids to the game and then they split up and sat with their friends. This made me slightly nervous and since the stadium was not nearly full and brought in a different crowd, I didn’t feel too nervous to let them go. I did feel strange being at the game by “myself” and yet soon found friends to join. 

The irony was that as we moved around and found our own friends, Christian and his friend were seated right in front of me!!  

I enjoyed joking with and talking with the boys and was really happy that Christian’s friend wanted to talk with me.

After the game, we all met up and walked back to the car again. I told all 6 kids that we should take a group selfie together and they didn’t oppose. Since I didn’t ask them if I could share their photo, I’ll have to keep the memory close with me. 

Looking at the snapshot made me smile because my kids and their friends are awesome tweens and teens. 

They were funny and grateful and kind to one another and nice to me too.

 I enjoyed having the opportunity to share an experience together and that they were okay with me being around. I know I am supposed to let go and I am and maybe that’s why they’re okay hanging around because I let them just Be. 

Hmmm…I wonder.

The teens are alright and I think I’m okay with them growing up, if it continues to feel like this. 

Wishing you love and patience and to be alright.

nAMaste

Chief Cheerleading Officer

Wouldn’t this be a great job title? I think every office, and family, and team, and community should have at least one, along with a cheerleading squad to support the team. ¬†We all need someone to lift us up, to remind us of¬†our goals, to share our¬†team spirit, and to encourage, motivate and unify us.

I was graciously labeled this today at one of my meetings and I loved it. I love bringing people together and sharing a common vision and lifting each other up, whether it be at work, on the field, in the community and/or with my family.

I looked up the purpose of cheerleaders, and here is one definition:

“The purpose of cheerleaders is to convey school spirit while supporting the competitive sporting events of the school. Cheerleaders act as liaisons between the spectators and the playing team by incorporating cheers, dances, and other crowd involvement techniques. ¬†They are also representatives of the school and community. The cheerleading squads are team-based activities that promote fitness, trust, self-esteem, enthusiasm, and fun!” – Big Foot High School web page from 2011

In the workforce, a cheerleader is the one that encourages the team and reminds everyone that their team is the best and helps everyone rally behind company goals, reminding everyone of the mission and keeping things fun. They encourage the team players to do their best and root for them, focusing on the good. The cheerleader is passionate and filled with enthusiasm and hopes that her passion and enthusiasm is contagious in the organization.

Who do you know that is a cheerleader? ¬†I keep hearing the OMI Cheerleader¬†song play over and over in my head – ¬†Oh, I think I found myself a cheerleader…Thanks Kimmy!

Here’s my cheer for the night: ¬†“YOU ARE ENOUGH!!” ¬†xo

Stories Connect Us

Juliana asked me why I choose to write every day and share something about my life.  

We all have a story to share and I like discovering connections between mine and yours. Our stories are always changing which makes us all so very interesting. 

Writing my story helps me to show up every day and to be thankful for what is.  It’s like yoga for the mind – being present on the page.

And when you, my BeLoveRs, write back by whatever means (email, text, Facebook, comments, etc) and connect and relate your story with mine, we share a moment of our spirits being connected and this is ReaLLy cool to me.

Writing also captures the highlights of the history I am creating daily.  It’s my digital scrapbook that just happens to be public and I treasure this as I don’t take the time to scrapbook otherwise and I have a bad memory. 

Listen the next time you’re at the table and see how the conversation goes. Listen for the connections and the history and for the stories of our lives that make us who we are and bind us together.
Our stories connect us. 

To be continued…

On Communicating

I don’t have any pictures to share today but I want to share a story about my friend, who I adore, and who is probably reading this.

Many people adore her and it’s not just me and I think I know why. ¬†Well, there are several reasons why, but one pops out.

She actively listens to people and gives people her time. She looks at them longer than most people look at you and not in that creepy way, but the way that shows genuine interest.

She not only listens, but she also shares part of her story about what she’s doing or thinking and connects with people in a way that most people don’t. She makes people feel welcome and important. Her act of sharing creates a connection and familiarity that makes people comfortable and where they feel safe to talk and share and laugh for a moment, even though they don’t even know her sometimes. ¬†There is an art to communication and she has it and I love seeing her genuine spirit shine. She makes people happy wherever she goes and people love her.

I think it’s because she is always so positive and not in a rush, as most of us are. ¬†She makes an effort to slow down and to talk and connect, even when she’s on her way to juggle 5 million things. I love this about her.

And it’s not with just one person. It’s with most people she comes in contact with where there is a chance of communication.

For example, we were shopping together as we are working on a project together and as we are checking out, she’s telling the checker all about what we’re doing and explaining her purpose and excitement for her purchases. And then the checker is smiling and sharing her story about what she likes about what we’re buying and doing and smiles are shining all around. There is a carefree spirit through the transaction that sometimes doesn’t require a conversation at all. It reminds me of what it must be¬†like living in a small town where everyone knows everyone. But that’s not the case where we live, but she makes it feel like that.

And before we even got to the checkout line, she recognized another mom from the baseball field that she kind of knew, and she made an effort to acknowledge her, talk with her and ask her a question before moving on with her purchase.  The lady smiled.

I wonder if she knows how wonderful she is and this magical gift she shares with our little world.

I know and I am lucky to be her friend.  We all can learn from her example of authenticity and love and patience and kindness for others. Thank you friend. I know you know who you are.

xo