Slow it Down and Enjoy the Bloom

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Over the last few months and really the last three years, I have planted multiple seeds that I have wanted to grow for a very long time. Sometimes life throws us too much rain or tsunamis or earthquakes that force us to abandon our blooms for a bit. But once it happens, it’s very important to slow down and enjoy what you have worked so hard to grow.

In addition to being clear on what I want to grow, I have added daily intentions that I foster throughout the day to nourish my seeds. If you’d like some journaling techniques on growing your purpose, check out my previous blog titled: What is Blooming for You? On day 10, my intention was Slow Down and Enjoy the Bloom. The week had been hectic and a few times I wanted to skip the intention process, finish one project, and jump into the next. There’s so much I want to bloom that I tend to rush. This intention process is showing me that I take on too much and don’t stop to appreciate the results of my hard work and nurturing.

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I met with my beta readers and my third manuscript in three years is heading toward the publishing process. It won’t be until the end of 2019, but because I have nurtured this dream, it is growing faster and more vibrant every year. I’m excited and grateful. It’s not done yet, but I slowed down, enjoyed talking with the students who will read the book, and learned from them.

What I love about these intentional words or phrases is that they are like rays of sunshine that remind me throughout the day what I want to focus on. Over the weekend it was Unselfish Me Time, which influenced my decision to get up early, journal to my boys, read, and enjoy the quiet time. This allows me to rejuvenate so that I can give to others and be fully present with my family when they arrived. On Easter Sunday, it was Family Love. It was quiet, but precious in that I spent valuable and quality time with my son and husband.

Throughout the day, I’ll check in so that I stay on track or write through any rough spots. My journal is my ‘pause place.’ I can take a break and reconnect with my purpose. At the end of the day, I take a couple minutes and write about my intention, my growth, whether the intention worked or didn’t. Why and what I can do differently tomorrow.

Use your journal as your personal guidance system. You’ll be amazed at how self-aware you become and you’ll foster your own ability to recharge, reconnect, and nurture yourself.

Give it a try and let me know how it works.

Childhood Perspective on Family History

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When I was a child, I thought my father owned a huge motorcycle, that every winter we had snowfalls taller than my 7-year-old body, and I had scarlet fever when I was 5. My father’s motorcycle was a small Bridgestone. I still think there was a tremendous amount of snow, but it was probably because all the snow being plowed from the road into our front yard. My mom denies that I had scarlet fever, but I think she’s lying!

We have these images, memories that we think are real are imprinted in our minds like a stamp. Our memories of childhood hugely depend on how we were raised, our order of birth, and what or who had a major impact on our lives. Five years younger than me and the last child, my sister, Michele, has a different perspective on her childhood. She probably doesn’t remember our home in Long Island that we moved from when she was 2 or 3. I’ll have to ask her.

She’s 8 years younger than my brother and 7 years younger than my older sister. Being the first and only boy as well as the first girl impacted their upbringing. Being the middle child, well you know we middle children have big issues of invisibility. But it put me in a more observational mode.

Last night at my monthly journaling workshop, we shared our thoughts on the above quote. Did they have memories that other family members disputed? Yes, like the severity of a car accident, joy of living with a large family, but the other members thinking it wasn’t so nice, memories of a parent differing based on age and order of birth.

I invite you to write these memories down and share them with family members. Have them record their memories on that event and then share one with you. Going back and forth, you’ll get a fuller picture or at least the differing perspectives of varying family members. Give your parent or grandparent a journal to record their memories and stories. Once they are no longer with us, their personal stories are lost.

Brainstorming your Memories and Building Memory Threads

Where do we get the ideas to write our family history? I suggest thinking about your first house. Jot down any memory. Don’t think about it too much. It’s a memory brain dump. It’s incredible how once you get started, all these new memories jump out at you.

You can go from your first house to the next and the next until you are in your current location or use whatever theme or location that speaks to you.

Here are some of mine from the first house I lived in Long Island:

  • Bobby pin in the socket
  • Describe my home
  • Fig trees
  • Monsters in the attic
  • Scarlet fever—Nanny teach me to crochet
  • Bike riding and hitting a car
  • Pool jumping from the roof
  • Almost drowning
  • Lobster crawling on the floor
  • YaYa
  • Aunt Anna
  • Planet of the Apes—Brown licorice
  • Monkey bars breaking leg
  • 1st day of 2nd grade
  • Stephanie forgets me at school

Maybe this is the only snapshot you need of that moment. Or perhaps it’s like a sponge and as you think about it, the memory expands. I call this Memory Threads.

Take the Monkey bars and breaking my leg. The threads may be:

Kindergarten, strong mother, missing much of school, Big Wheeling along the sidewalks, breaking leg again, tearing ACL on that leg, strong upper body.

This thread can weave into other memories. Like how my mother carried me out of the nurse’s office telling her she didn’t know what she was talking about when the nurse said my leg wasn’t broken–my mother becoming a nurse–protecting her children when a man tried to break into our house and she threatened him with the elephant knife–standing up to teenagers who were chasing me and my brother down the street–never giving up when my father fought cancer three times.

Memory Threads are powerful. They build themes that intertwine and pull in more memories until you have a tapestry of history. It starts with one memory and threading through it.

Begin yours!

Luke and J9: The Beginning

I watched him step out of his red and black Toyota 4 Runner. A tall, dark, and handsome man in a long black coat walked into TGI Fridays. My sidekick, Lisa, nodded her approval, and so I limped toward the entrance to meet my blind date.

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Two days earlier.

I finished my evening shift waiting table at Grandma’s Pie Shop on Central Avenue. My plan was to head over to my blind date’s townhouse for a party he and his roommate were having. I had yet to meet him, so this seemed the perfect opportunity. I still lived at home with my younger sister, Michele, and my parents. At age 22, I was in that in between stage of teen and adult.

The weather turned ugly, so my father insisted on picking me up to drive the 45 minutes home. My chance to meet my blind date was thwarted by a wintry blizzard. We talked briefly and planned to meet for lunch. Two more days dragged by as I imagined what he looked like. I had enjoyed getting to know him on the phone and was excited about the possibilities.

The next morning, in typical De Tillio fashion, I broke my toe, cracked my shinbone, and ended up on crutches. I’ll spare you the gory details of how that occurred! I called my blind date. He despaired, fearing that I would once again cancel.

I explained that I would be on crutches and wearing a brown bomber jacket. Easy enough to spot. Lisa and I arrived early and watched for him in the parking lot. After I saw him walk into the restaurant, I decided to leave my crutches in the car. I needed to make some type of impression.

I opened the door and there he stood, leaning against the wall waiting for me. He was ‘the one’ with his Sam Elliott mustache, chocolate eyes, and nonchalant stance. I knew I would marry him.

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We talked about soccer, motorcycles, family, and food. We had so much in common, and I couldn’t wait to see him again. As he followed me out of the restaurant, he said, “Nice limp.” His dry sense of humor has carried us through many of my klutzy escapades!

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Riding the streets of Maine. We always wear protective gear now!

Our love was a whirlwind of adventures and dreams of our lives together. We married three years later.

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I found my soulmate and best friend on this day 30 years ago. We have had so much joy as well as tremendous sorrow, but we have always stood side by side holding one another up.

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Dancing in the Woods, 2018

Luke was warned I’d be trouble. He took a chance anyway. He’s known as the fix it guy, but I think we’ve lasted, because he has always let me be me. What more could a gal limping into TGI Friday’s ask for!

July Month in Review

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July began and ended with Nick’s Fight to be Healed events, was packed with writing goals, creating space deadlines, and lots of family fun.

I had so much on my plate. The biggest deadline was getting my Saving Atlantis manuscript done. I had to push back the date and I wasn’t happy about it.

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Annual July 4th float

It feels like the July 4th parade had happened months ago. I think it had to do with being very present in most everything I did. I didn’t hand out candy. I watched the teens hand it out and took note of the children’s happy faces.

The best part of July was all the gatherings with my family and friends.

 

My nephew and his wife drove through and stopped by, so of course a big gathering happened. Family always gathers for the July 4th festivities, and I felt the love and connections.

Good news came for one of our Melodies families. Regan received her last spinal treatment and will be done in September! Karen captured the moment.

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I finished Saving Atlantis and got it to the printer and now will wait for the final product! That was probably my biggest stressor. It’s a positive one to have, but the need to get it right adds a lot of pressure on me.

 

One of my most thrilling moments of July was Stephen getting his motorcycle license and riding with his dad and myself. He has jumped in with both feet and absolutely loves it. He is holding Liam, who will be riding next to him some day.

The month ended with a beautiful fundraiser to honor my son Nick during the 11th Annual pig roast that our wonderful friends hold every year.

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In between the foundation events, family moments, finishing a book, and creating space in my house, which I noted in separate posts, I still managed to journal and enjoy the world around me.

For August I will keep: connecting with people who lift me up and break down my goals into accessible parts.

I will stop: booking myself out for so many nights and day appointments and putting so much on my plate.

I will start: reserving Fridays for cleaning and organizing my office and catching up on reading.

It was a fantastic month, and I’m grateful I captured so much of it to remember.

Four Phases to Declutter, Create Space, and Achieve Goals

My week of Creating Space was a lesson in learning what is attainable! There were many positives like following a tight schedule and getting more done than I think I would have, but the stressful part was attempting to get it all done when life steps in.

In addition, I had this huge goal of finishing my novel to get it to the printer. That definitely ate up a lot of my time, but was part of a my business plan.

My Create Space project needed to be broken down into four phases that I will schedule for the rest of this month.

Phase One–Declutter & Clean–Go through each room and get rid of what I didn’t like, need or use. This involves removing everything, checking for doubles like having 6 wooden spoons in my kitchen drawer and 100 pens!

Handle it once. Give it away, donate it, or sell it. Right now some boxes are still in my dining room, so that is on the to do list. Cleaning each room as I went through helped to break up the monotony and emotional struggle of decluttering. All my windows have been washed, which felt good.

I didn’t finish any particular room completely. So in the future, I would declutter and clean each room as a specific goal. For example, take two days to declutter my bedroom, closet, and bathroom. Then detail clean if needed. Then that room is complete.

Phase Two–Files and Binders–This should really be first for me, because part of the reason why I took on this project was to clean my office, clear my files and teaching binders, so they were organized and the lesson plans and handouts were easily accessible.

This phase will take a full week, and I will specifically break down this goal for the week of July 23.

Phase Three–Index Journals–This is more about creating accessible history and finding entries easily. I only started indexing my journals two years ago, so I have years of journals that aren’t titled or indexed. Part of this plan is to do just that.

In addition, I currently write a separate journal to my sons, but I had previous entries mixed in with my personal journals. I managed to mark those. I will make this a project to transcribe them into separate journals. I only have a few, so this might be a winter goal.

Phase Four–Digital Decluttering and Organizing–The best way to avoid this is to go through my photos and files and get rid of what doesn’t work each month! I was great about this when I first got my Mac, but five years later I’m overloaded! I did manage to create some space, but it’s disorganized. I get very frustrated when I can’t find a file or photo. I am uploading my files and photos to Google and am doing it in what I think is an organized manner.

I need a week to do this right. I haven’t set a goal for this yet, but since my computer is vital to my job, it has to be done in the next couple of weeks.

I also made a list of what I needed to replace or never purchased–like curtains in my bedroom and now my office.

But back to my main reason for creating space–building an efficient and effective business. Next week I will focus on my files and binders. Then I will have the space to create my book promotion for Saving Atlantis, which will be published this fall.

Here is what I managed to finish:

 

Was my Create Space plan SMART?

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Click on photo for more ways to accomplish goals by Pishon Design Studio

Specific–I was very specific in what I wanted to get done and what I would do each day. That helped me to be extremely productive.

Measurable–Crossing items off my list never felt so satisfying, even though part of me was bummed for not getting everything done.

Attainable–I have to put half of what I want to get done in my calendar, because it always takes so much longer. I have a tendency to add in too much work. But at least I have a guideline to follow and know what needs to get done.

Realistic–Not in one week! Another is Relevant–I should have stuck to the ultimate reason I wanted to do this–for my business and I probably could have had my office done.

Time-based–I will break down the rest of my Create Space into longer time periods.

The most important part of my week was that I made time to take care of myself. When I chose to exercise or be with my family, I truly enjoyed those moments. I was mindful of my decisions.

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me online and in person. You held me accountable and gave great advice!

What is your goal and how are you going to achieve it? Start today!

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad’s birthday: Salvatore Joseph De Tillio, born February 19, 1940. He would have been 78 years old today. When I see my Uncle Charlie and Uncle Nick, I get a sense of what my dad would look like. Their mannerisms, voice, and soothing manner remind me so much of him.

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Dad at 13 months, March 23, 1941

Besides photos, our stories keep our loved ones alive in our minds. They explain where we get a certain mannerism from or whose genes are responsible for that cowlick or those brown eyes. We understand why we are driven to a certain purpose even if we never met that person. Stories help us to connect. Photos create curiosity.

Where was my father in the above photo? Who was the woman on the left and the two younger girls? Were they walking past and saw someone taking a photo, stopped to avoid getting in the picture, but were captured anyway? Maybe they were one of the first photo bombers. If they were, they are definitely my relations!

Or are they relatives who are adoring my dad, happy to be out on a spring day, even though there is still a chill in the air? The younger girl on the left appears to be wearing roller skates. That brings me back to how I often raced up and down the sidewalks on Long Island in mine. Also how many times I sprained my ankles while rollerskating, which has been a lifelong occurrence.

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Dad at 3 years old. May, 1943

Dad was always a smart dresser. I have a hat of his that looks just like the one he’s wearing. My son, Nick, wore it to his chorus concert in 7th grade, along with his Poppa’s Flintstone tie as we called it.

Again the photo raises the question of where is he standing? Who is taking the picture? Was he going somewhere or coming home from a fun event? He looks like such a sweet boy and very happy!

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The calm demeanor of my dad in this photo is a reflection of how he lived his life. He was very mellow until it was time to not be mellow. I don’t know how old he is in the photo or whose house he is in. But I see resemblances to my boys and nephews in the shape of his eyes, nose and face. My dad lives in me, my children, nieces, and nephews.

I never knew my grandfathers, and I wanted my boys to know their Poppa. Unfortunately, he died too young, but I hope that his stories can bring him to life.

The best stories about my dad was how he always put his family first. He was the first to protect and lived by a very strong code of honor. That might be why I like stories about knights and superheroes. He was both in my eyes and larger than life.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Missing you and love you always.

Finding Purpose–Root Values

Finding our purpose. Living our dreams. Being the person we want to be. These are strong notions that need deeply instilled values to implement.

The oak tree has huge significance to me as it probably does to so many people. When my son was in the hospital battling cancer, this poem was sent to me. It was a daily prayer to Nick that he would never break from this disease. His spirit never broke, but unfortunately his body did.

Then this poem and all that it signified became my personal mantra, symbol, and prayer to keep going without one of my boys. I have bent, lost my way, cracked branches, had holes drilled into me, have bared my soul, but I have never broken.

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Through my journaling and becoming self-aware through yoga, I have learned what I stand for, and not only how deep my roots go, but also what I value in this life. As part of that knowing, my purpose is to share with others, so that under the worst possible circumstances, you have hope. That is my purpose, that is my impact word–HOPE. We all need it.

Over the next couple days, I will share this process with you. It began with my last post of writing about your personal awesomeness. Start there if you please.

 

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You can use this image of an oak tree, draw your own or find another image. The point is that the oak tree symbolizes ourselves and our foundation.

Step One: Journal on the following questions:

  1. What are your core beliefs and values?
  2. What is important to you?
  3. Why do you have these values, where did they come from?
  4. How were they instilled in you?
  5. How do they impact your life?
  6. How do you live by them?

Step Two: Write your values in the roots of the oak tree. Words such as honesty, trust, dependable, etc. are words that you will have chosen to describe your values after you journaled. There are no wrong answers. It is whatever is right for you.

Be honest with yourself as this is the path to your purpose and you want it to be true.

Let me know how it goes for you. Keep it in your journal as we will come back to it tomorrow.

Happy Journaling!

Focus on the Good Times

The house is quiet once again. For two weeks, Stephen was home from college. I have to adjust back to the quiet, the dogs not barking when he comes home after midnight, the music blaring, and the video game action shaking the floor. I miss it. I’ll be sad for a couple days, while I settle into the empty nest routine once again.

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The dogs who loved Stephen’s Christmas presents miss his presence. They roam around his room and have a hard time settling in for the night.

I know in another year and a half, he’ll be on his own (maybe!) and those breaks will become visits. It helps me to focus on the joy I had while he was home.

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Zoey will do anything to get Stephen’s attention!

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It’s an annual tradition to find the pickle in the tree. Alysia won once again this year!

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Always enjoy having my sisters over!

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Missing some of our kids, but wonderful when we can connect and remember what is important!

We have held a Christmas ping pong tournament for the last four years. Alysia and Charlie got some practice time in at college and the three-time champion, Rich Thomas put up a good fight, but was defeated!

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It was close, but Stephen kept the trophy in the household this year!

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Family matters. I love having my son home and switching life up to be present with him. I soak those moments in and have a huge appreciation for them, as I know how fleeting life can be. I am grateful for my family and the joy we collectively share during the holidays and whenever we are together.

Take a moment to remember your holiday, your gatherings, your family. Revel in the joy, remember those who are not with you, and focus on the good times.

Dad and his Girls

My dad has been is on my mind today as this is the anniversary of when he passed away 20 years ago. My dad was larger than life. That may have been because I was his little girl along with my other two sisters. But it also was because he was a large man with hands that could crush rocks. No exaggeration!

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Dad and my older sister, Stephanie 30 years ago

You can see how his hand engulfed my sister’s in this photo, but they were hands that held us when we were hurt, threw us into the air when playing, and carried us to bed when we fell asleep.

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Dad and I at the same wedding. I was 21.

As comfortable as my dad was in his jeans and t-shirt with a tool belt strapped around his waist, he was a sharp dresser when it came to stepping out on the town. In addition to being a classy guy, he was a great and fun dancer. He and my mom, who at 4′ 11″ was tiny compared to my dad’s 6′ 1″ height flowed together seamlessly.

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My baby sister, Michele (Mush Mouse to my dad)

Warm and cuddly as a teddy bear, my dad was also a ferocious protector of his family. Meeting my dad was the deal breaker when it came to boyfriends. If they couldn’t handle the bone crushing handshake, then they were out the door. He had a gentle heart, but not when it came to anyone wanting to hurt his girls and our mom.

I wish my boys got to know their grandfather. Just like my son, he had so much to do and give, but life often has other plans. My dad is in all of us. My brother looks a lot like him and has the same mannerisms. It’s the De Tillio way. All our kids have his gentle heart and the older ones were blessed to have known him longer, but it’s never long enough. I share his stories, because stories have power, memory, and hold the spirits of those who have gone before us. We never forget. We hold them in our heart.

Unconditional Love

This is an excerpt from a creative memoir I wrote for my boys called Letters in my Pocket. The narrator is Nick, and Stephen finds letters in his pockets from my dad about life lessons:

Love. Can love be unconditional? Our mom and dad tell us that it can and no matter how bad anything is we can always go to them. We tested that when we first moved into our new house on Carpenter Way in 2004. Stephen and I were outside throwing a baseball. We both used to play for Halfmoon Baseball. I liked being with my friends more than the game, and I quit when it changed to kid pitch and three strikes. I needed more than three chances to hit that ball.

            Not Stephen. He’s a lefty and has a good eye. He would swing and that ball would rocket toward the outfield when he was only in T-ball! Plus he had an arm that could throw the ball from third base to home.

            Anyway, we were tossing the ball and I got bored. I walked around the house thinking about where I could hide it from Stephen. On the back of the house is this straight white tube that blows out smoke. I placed the ball in there and pushed just a little bit. Stephen saw me. So much for hiding it. I stuck my fingers in to get the ball and it stuck. My jaw dropped and my heart tripled beats. I was in trouble. Supportive brother that he is, Stephen ran to let Mom know what I did.

            My parents were a little upset, but they hoped I learned my lesson after the $80 service fee to remove the ball. It is on my shelf to remind me to think before I act. But after Poppa’s note, it also reminds me that my parents’ love can get me through anything.

            Stephen’s lesson was a little harder learned. We love going to the driving range to hit golf balls with our dad. Right now we are outside hitting them into our woods, but make sure we give each other plenty of room. Last year I whacked Stephen in the head with my club. What can I say? I’m a klutz. I take after my mom’s side, but don’t tell her I said that!

            Dad is installing a wood floor in our dining room. He told Stephen not to break anything. Mom warned him again because our neighbor has been asking us to not hit any kind of ball into her yard. I’m inside getting a drink. Stephen stomps in shortly after. His cheeks are red. I decide to have a seat and wait for the show.

            “I don’t want to hit the ball anymore, because I don’t want to break anything,” Stephen says.

            “OK,” my mom answers.

            Mothers—they have some crazy way of knowing, give you that ‘I know what you’ve done’ look, and then wait you out. It didn’t take Stephen five minutes. Show time.

            He whispers something in Mom’s ear, wraps his arms around her waist, and tucks his face in her armpit.

            “What?” she asks and leans closer. She kisses his head and the three of us go outside.

Holy cracked fog light Batman! Stephen shattered Mom’s fog light on her Dodge Durango. Stephen was swinging his club and, when he swung back, he hit the car.

            Mom tells him how proud she is that he told her and she didn’t find out on her own. She also says he would need to tell Dad. He didn’t want to because he thought Dad would be angry. Stephen tells Dad, but he doesn’t want to take responsibility for what he did—like it was the golf club’s fault or something. Mom and Dad say he would have to pay for it and since it was an accident, he would help Dad install a new one. Stephen flips out about that. Dad hugs him anyway. Even though he admits his mistake, he still needs to be responsible and fix it.

            I expect to find Stephen in his room reading a letter from Poppa about listening to your parents and taking responsibility. Instead, he’s playing his Nintendo DS. I guess my parents got it right. A car can be replaced and a ball can be removed. But Love? I imagine Poppa would say that the world would be a better place if we had a superhero whose power was love.

Our love for others is tested, when life doesn’t go as planned or bad things happen. They can be small like breaking a headlight or betraying someone’s trust. The most important lesson I could ever have taught my boys was unconditional love. Love that is not subject to any conditions, unreserved, wholeheartedly, absolute, unrestricted, eternal.

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I’m not sure I always made it clear that my love is unconditional as my showing disappointment or my actions might make my son feel like love is based on him doing what his parents want. Finding balance with supporting your child and wanting the very best for them is often at conflict. What I feel is best for my son might not be what he wants or thinks is best for him. When kids are younger, we lay the groundwork for values, integrity, hard work, kindness, and raising our kids how we believe is the right way.

If the most important lesson is unconditional love, the hardest one is letting them live their own lives. Building that foundation and then giving them the space to forge their own path is so incredibly difficult! I can’t force my son to live the life I see for him any more than my parents could for me. We could spend our whole life making our children feel inadequate by forcing our expectations on them.

Or we could communicate our love. Some things are better off being said. Making sure my son knows how much his parents love him without a doubt or expectation attached is key to him finding his truth and his place in this world.

Like Nick said, a broken car light can be fixed. Not sharing our love would cause permanent damage. Don’t wait. Tell someone you love how you feel and don’t place conditions on it. Enjoy the love as it is. Cultivate it, nourish it, and watch how that love grows.