I know, I know! It's been a month since my last blog post. But things have been a little hectic here. Check out my new article on RichmondMom.com -
I'm so excited to be part of the RichmondMom.com team. If you haven't checked out the site, take a moment to do so. While you're there, cast a vote for your favorite Richmond Super Mom - there are lots from which to choose!
For as long as I can remember, the good china stayed in the good china cabinet. Growing up, my mom called it the china closet, and in it all her worldly, beautiful plates were stacked. The china closet was made of gleaming dark mahogany and had its own woodsy scent. Inside the glass doors, the china, that would never see the inside of a dishwasher, was carefully stacked.
In my own home, I too have a china cabinet - an heirloom from my former grandparents-in-law. It too has its own scent and it too is filled with my beautiful Lenox wedding china - brilliant white with a simple gold and black band around the perimeter. The coffee cups are dainty and each one has a saucer. Inside that cabinet, I have a Limoges sugar (sans lid) and creamer set and silver candle stick holders. They are brought out for holidays and company and then banished…um, I mean safeguarded…inside the vault.
Really? What is up with that? I happen to love that china - why in the world do I keep it locked up like it was some sort of, oh, I don’t know, something other than a dish? Why don’t I set it out for myself and my children to eat off of - even when we are in front of the TV? Why do I save it for special occasions? Isn’t every day supposed to be a special occasion?
I’ve decided I must suffer from Fancy China Syndrome. Fancy China Syndrome is a term that I made up this morning as I was driving to work. It’s that mentality I have wherein my home becomes special only when others are in it to appreciate it. But how about me? Isn’t it time that I realized when I walk in my front door, my home should beckon to me first and foremost? Why don’t I serve myself on that beautiful china? Why don’t I pull the fancy tablecloths out more often and light candles every single day? I pay the mortgage for heaven sake - who’s more worthy of a nice-looking house than me?
Forget about keeping the beautiful things locked up for company! Company is nice and all but honestly, let’s keeps the china out where your immediate family can appreciate it. Eat off the plates when nobody is home but you and a good book! Drink tea from those china cups and what the heck - break out the saucers too! But don’t keep the good stuff hidden. Celebrate yourself! Do so in style - fancy china and all!
As I try hard these days to down-size my life, getting rid of that which I don’t need and cutting back on way too many activities, I’ve noticed something interesting. For every one thing I give up, two people ask me to do something else! Although I want to do anything and everything to make the world a better place, my priority right now is my daughter’s health. And, for that matter, making sure that her sister doesn’t get overlooked in all this diabetes rigmarole that we have going on!
Getting back to basics has been very appealing to me lately as a result. In giving away lots of ‘stuff’ over the past month to Goodwill, I have made room for the items that didn’t get ‘cut’. I found pieces of clothing I hadn’t worn in a long time so it was like I had a bunch of new stuff for my wardrobe. And I have more time in the mornings now because I have less fashion choices to make.
By de-cluttering, I was able to make room for fresh flowers and a few really pretty plants. I want living things around me all the time now. And I can find everything - I know where every item is in my kitchen and in my pantry. No more playing the guessing game when it comes to dinner. I have a plan for each week and I know what’s on hand and what I need to buy. No more 6:00 p.m. stress at our house!
Interestingly, by keeping it simple, my life has become much richer. I have more time and I’m much more relaxed. And so are my kids - less stress for me means less stress for them too. Since I’ve learned to say no, we aren’t always rushing out the door for an appointment, a practice or a meeting. I’ve also learned to accept only freelance jobs that interest me like the articles I am writing about kids with Type I diabetes for Mahalo. If someone needs an article about the benefits of a catalytic converter, they’ll have to find another writer! I’m much too not-busy to take that on right now.
Walking to the parking garage today, I watched an interesting development unfold. Someone actually had the audacity to put on their turn signal and wait as traffic passed by to make left turn into an alley in downtown Richmond. What? You don’t find that odd? Well, neither did I - but apparently, the young gal in the silver car had somewhere much more fascinating to be because with a tremendous amount of attitude and glaring looks, she sped around the red car waiting to turn. She zoomed through a cross walk huffing and puffing as she floored it right on up to a red light. What the heck’s your hurry, sister? All that just to come to a complete stop fifty feet later?
One of the mystifying occurrences in today’s society seems to be that there are many folks out there who think the whole world revolves around them. They are entitled to whatever they want, however they choose to obtain it simply because - oh, I don’t know - they breathe air, maybe? It’s really toxic to be around people who don’t give or give back or pay forward or anything except simply expect. I can’t wrap my brain around that type of person and honestly I don’t spend a whole lot of time focusing on it either. But I try to come to conclusions a lot - part of my job is to research things I don’t fully understand and then explain them to others. So I did a little research on entitlement and found that Licensed Clinical Social Work and Life Coach Carol Juergenson-Sheets suggests that it is an actual syndrome - yep, you guessed it - called Entitlement Syndrome.
Entitlement Syndrome may be caused by parents who feel that it is necessary to keep up with the ‘whoevers’ by giving their kid everything. These kids are signed up for every activity whether parents can afford it or not. The parents entire world revolves around the kid (whether they can afford it or not). And what that is doing is creating the illusion that the whole world revolves around the kid.
Don’t get me wrong - I love my kids dearly. One is an athlete, one is a dancer. They both play an instrument and they both take acting classes. The music lessons and acting classes are gifts from their grandparents and both the guitar and piano teachers come to the house. Otherwise, we would be rethinking that. I do drive to soccer games and practice but I have never been known to leave my job early to do so. I have to leave early enough, or come in late enough, to take them to the doctor, the dentist, the orthodontist and now the endocrinologist on a pretty regular basis.
I think that peaceful existence involves being cognizant of others around us and realizing that our true happiness comes when we can be of service to others. Helping people out, giving when we can or just simply waiting our turn while somebody crosses the street is a great way to invite peace in and let it stay for awhile.
Since we got home from the hospital six weeks ago, friends have come by with flowers on just about a weekly basis. They have made such a difference - they look beautiful and they lift my spirits - any living thing does. Alexandra Stoddard, author and interior designer, encourages readers to keep fresh flowers around the home all year. When she was a starving student, she skipped lunch so she could buy a purple hyacinth for her apartment. I love that story and although her ideas are sometimes old fashioned, Stoddard's book Living a Beautiful Life is very comforting to me and I reach for it when I need ideas to beautify my home and when I need little miracles to lift my soul.
A few years ago, we started a tradition called “Unplugged Sundays” around my house. That meant nothing electronic all day on Sundays. No TV, no cells, no internet, nada! It, as you can imagine, went over like a lead balloon with my kids who are quite techy even at young ages.
But unplugging sometimes is healthy for me. I don’t always want to be connected. I like facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and family and play an occasional game of Mafia Wars but obsessively checking the status of others and posting my every move is not conducive to serenity - mine anyway. I let the phone go to voice mail almost all the time now and I leave my ringer on quiet.
Texting, chatting, tweets, forum postings and status updates have their place in my life but life is a lot better when I decide when to post and when to leave it alone. Same goes for reading emails and answering voice mail messages. If I limit those things to once a day or even once every few days, I find I have more time to do the things I love to do - things that feed my soul.
Try it and see what happens! Unplug for a few hours or even a whole day. Spend that time with family or friends or spend it doing things on your bucket list that you never seem to find the time to do. Try it and see if you can reconnect with yourself instead of everybody else!
A guy in my high school had a saying: sometimes you get the elevator, sometimes you get the shaft. I never thought about life that way even though I’ve experienced some really rocky times. And just last week I was contemplating updating my facebook status to read how lucky I am to have the life that I live. Little did I know that life was about to come to a screeching halt.
I took my eleven year old daughter to the doctor on Friday as she had been tired and lethargic for a few weeks. She had also lost quite a bit of weight and was becoming emaciated looking. We spoke to him before about the weight loss, but he wasn’t concerned. She just started dancing and we attributed the weight loss to that.
Her doctor checked her out and called for a nurse who administered a glucose test. The results came back sky-high - over 500 which is about 5 times higher than the normal range. He had her in the emergency room within the hour. We spent the next 48 hours in a step-down unit from the Pediatric Intensive Care and as nice as everyone was to us that weekend, I’d rather be just about any place else on earth.
My daughter has Type I diabetes.
She will be insulin dependent for life. She needs six insulin injections and four finger sticks a day and she will continue to need this until a cure is found. FYI - there isn’t one on the horizon any time soon.
My daughter, 5th grader, friend to all, advocate for the less-fortunate, lover of animals, sister, daughter, granddaughter and niece. Best friend to Alex who she rarely gets to see since she moved to Washington State. Ballet dancer, actress, piano player. Child of God. Diabetic.
I can’t begin to express the shock, the grief, the anger, the suffering that I’ve experienced this past week. It’s hard to be positive and it’s hard to be serene when the light at the end of the tunnel is a train barreling down upon you ready to wreck life as you know it. I found a forum for children with diabetes. The first thing they say is “welcome to the club that nobody wants to join” and wow, isn’t that true? You bet it is. I want my kid to be normal - I don’t want a ‘new normal’. I want things to be the way they were last week when we laughed about Pants on the Ground on American Idol or last month when we visited New York City.
But by some miracle, we’ve gotten up each morning and she got her insulin shot and I successfully checked her sugar. I fed her healthy meals and got lots of rest. We’ve also came into a new level in our mother-daughter relationship. One where you can actually feel the closeness it so fills the air. So that’s what I’m doing today - I’m opening my arms and holding on. To my daughters, to as simple a life as I can create for my family, to the ability to do the best that I can - no more and certainly no less. I’m just holding on today. That’s all. And that’s a miracle.
So when you see me and my arms are crossed and my fists are clenched and my jaw seems to be etched from stone, know that although I am mad at the world, this too shall pass. My arms are crossed because I've embraced something new and different and I'm holding on tight because I'm in survival mode right now. And when you see me know that even though I look terribly stressed, well…I am but serenity is on the way. And know that I know with all my heart that God will see me through this darkness. And know that beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am going to find a miracle where I can find none today. It’s out there. And when I find it, I will recognize it as the gift that it is. And I will embrace it.
One of the ways that I’ve learned to make a significant change in my life was to ‘do it anyway’ even if ‘it’ was something that caused me anxiety.
I took my daughters on a fantastic long weekend to New York City right before Christmas and it was one of those life-altering experiences for me. I had never been to New York - always hearing that it was a big, scary place where you’d be robbed the second you stepped off the plane, run down by a taxi (that part’s not too far from true) or held up in the subway. My experience was different. I found New Yorkers to be some of the most friendly, open, wonderful people I ever encountered. Each time we’d look even slightly lost, someone would approach us and ask us if we needed directions. People smiled back - even on the subway!
We maneuvered our way through Chinatown and Times Square and even found our seats at Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes Christmas Show. It was a beautiful time for all three of us and we can’t wait to return.
But the point is - I did something ‘anyway’. Even though I had a bit of anxiety - I still booked plane tickets and found a hotel room based on Expedia.com recommendations - turned out to be the best hotel ever (The Roosevelt). And I found transportation from the airport and figured out how the subway worked (with some help from my New Yorker friends!) And we did it anyway.
So now things are a little easier for me and I find myself doing things that I wouldn’t have done prior to that trip. Sitting down next to a stranger and striking up a conversation (like I did yesterday) isn’t intimidating to me like it used to be. Saying yes to something last week that I normally wouldn’t have (in a million years) is another. Getting out of my comfort zone has kick-started some necessary changes for me and I have to say - it’s really pretty good!
So get out there and do something - even if it turns out to be wrong. Say yes! Call the guy (or girl)! Make the reservations for your trip of a lifetime! Do it anyway!
I’ll leave you with these inspirational words from my fave’s - The BEPs:
Livin’ life, feelin’ free, that’s how it’s supposed to be! Come join my festivities. Celebrate like Imma be!
January 1st is a wonderful time to begin again, isn't it?
Or at least it is a great time decide what’s working in your life and what’s not and try to do some things differently. I don’t make resolutions but I do set goals for myself. Of a few that I have for 2010, one that I’ll share is to write the novel that’s been on the back burner. And possibly, at the suggestion of a friend, put some other ideas into a book and see where that goes as well. Take a few minutes today and think about what you’d like to change or enhance in your life…now’s the time!!!
I want to wish all of you a happy and blessed 2010 - whatever you’re doing and wherever you’ll be tonight at midnight, be safe and be grateful for what you already have. I personally am spending New Years Eve with some wonderful friends - old and new - and I’m grateful to have them in my life.
What’s on your gratitude list for the new year???
I love reminders. I send myself reminders via Blackberry and I leave myself voice mail messages. I’ll even email myself with a really important reminder. But I need spiritual reminders too - and music and books will often carry the message I need to hear. Download the songs you love and put the ones that remind you to stop and be in the moment into a special playlist. Or pick up a book of meditations that you can read before you start your day. Sometimes these gems will get you through a rough time. If you need a great meditation book, try Jonathan Harrison’s Naked Being that I recommend on my Recommended Reading page. It’s the holiday season and I know that I tend to get caught up in everything around me and forget to take time feed my soul. Music and books help me to do that and often only take mere moments!