Be Open to Receive

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North Carolina–Blue Ridge Parkway toward Mount Mitchell

I am trying meditation again. I’ve lasted three days. I know that when I start my day with meditation, create an intention, and live my day with that intention, I am much happier. I am clearer on my purpose. I am able to choose how my day will go.

For example, this morning I woke up from a dream where I kept entering different classrooms trying to find my son, Nick. He was only 9 or so, but I could never catch up to him. I woke up sad and missing him.

Then I listened to Tom Evans’ Ten Minutes of Mindfulness on the Insight Timer app. He noted that our brains are always giving and receiving. If I’m talking, then I’m not listening. If my mind if filled with sadness, then I’m not receiving whatever it is that I want to receive. So I opened my mind and asked, What did I want to receive?

Joy, Love, Laughter, a wonderful day.

What would that look like and how did it involve my purpose?

Writing and sharing hope to anyone who is in need and open to receive. It’s as simple as that, but oh so hard.

Instead of sadness, I choose joy. Joy as I remember my beautiful son, Joy as I am in the moment with my other son, happiness that I get to sit at my desk and do what I love–write.

When I receive openly, then I have more to give. Love, compassion, my gift of writing.

That sadness has been lifted. If it settles back, I will remind myself of my intention and know they are thoughts that I can change. If I hadn’t sat down to meditate and write from that meditation, my day may be starting quite differently.

What are you open to receive today and what are you open to give? Write it down and make it so.

Have a wonderful day!

The Power of People

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It’s the people who are placed in our lives that lift us up when we are at our deepest lows, who we know will support us when we need them most or celebrate when life is wonderful. The power of people is to bring out our personal resilience. That sense of community and connections is what gives us the strength to keep going. Those connections that come across our path at the right time for the right purpose.

Who are the people who stitch you together?

Who do you have late night conversations with or share a cup of tea or coffee?

What songs or lyrics bring you strength, push you through, lift you up?

What are some quotes that speak to your soul, flutter your heart.

Poems that give you chills.

Books that have transformed your life or made you laugh out loud with joy?

Take scraps of paper and write them down on separate pieces. Then stitch them together in your journal or keep them in a jar to pull one out when needed most. This is what counts, what lifts us up, and are reminders of our resilience.

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.

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!

Day Four–Digital Create Space

Sometimes you are forced to make space, because nothing else will fit. This is where I’m at with my macbook. I’ve had it for five years and this is all the space I have left.

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I can no longer download photos or back up my phone. So this morning I worked on my book, carefully editing each page by reading it out loud.

Then I transferred videos and quite a few photos onto Google Drive and deleted them from my computer. It’s very time consuming. While my computer was expelling data, I went through my journals. This was more of an organizing project than creating space. I had journaled to my boys and for myself using the same journals. My plan is to separate them. First, they were messy and Stephen would never be able to read them. Second, they were in the midst of my personal writing, and I didn’t want Stephen to have to read them if he really didn’t want to.

Today, I identified pages written to him and Nick. Now I will set aside time each week to transcribe it into separate journals. It’s a process.

I now have 29 GB free on my computer, but I’m not stopping until I get through my files and photos. There’s so much junk and photos that aren’t clear! The only problem with automatically saving your photos to the Cloud or Google is that all the bad photos gets placed there as well.

It’s becoming clear that my Create Space week may take most of the month, so the rest of life doesn’t get backed up.

A wonderful part of my work today was that I could do it outside in the beautiful weather.

My self-care included walking my dogs and going for a motorcycle ride with Stephen, who is a new rider. It’s a special day in a mom’s life when her son asks her to go riding with him. Life is good!

It’s not over yet! Tomorrow more editing and transferring files!

Day Two–Kitchen Create Space

Can you tell I’m decluttering? It felt more like adding to the chaos today. Day two of creating space was challenging. I thought the kitchen would be fast and easy. How wrong I was! It was difficult to stay focused. I had some foundation items to take care of, and I’m still editing Saving Atlantis. I find setting a strict schedule is forcing me to be efficient, but I physically can’t do what I had planned in one day.

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I took this photo when I had to take a break. It’s my whole life in a nutshell, but I love that my journal just happened to be in the midst of the storm. Enjoy the little things. So very true.

I had the pleasure of talking with one of my lovely nieces, I walked the dogs, lifted weights, and took time to enjoy the evening sky.

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Back to business. Anything that was chipped, not used in years, or didn’t serve me any longer were placed in boxes for Stephen’s apartment and donating. I got caught up in changing where I placed my dishes and glassware. They were switched a few times, but we’ll see how it goes!

I left my storage container area for last. I didn’t take a picture of it, because I believe it would burn your eyes. Just ask my sister, Michele, who has seen it first hand. But I will show you the results!

 

 

 

I love that there is so much space. My good dishes were way up high, and I always forgot what I had to use for those special occasions.

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All my storage containers were placed mostly at eye level. It looks so neat, doesn’t it? We’ll see how long it lasts. I like to have the tops on the containers, because it takes so much time to find the cover. It takes up more space, but saves my sanity.

My utensil drawers drove me absolutely nuts! I had about 30 pens mixed in with serving spoons, 20 coupons for Venezia’s Pizza, (which went to Stephen), post-it notes, paper clips, and bad batteries. I kept only what I needed and got rid of the rest.

I cleaned the front of the fridge, but will do the inside this weekend. I still need to clean the outside of my cabinets, the appliances, and the counter will need a good scrubbing. So far my office and my kitchen aren’t quite where I need them to be, but keeping to my schedule definitely kept me on task. I accomplished much more than I had hoped.

I’m not getting to transferring my computer files to create needed storage space on my computer. I had scheduled this for the evenings, but I will do this on a separate week.

I feel good about where I am in the process! I am hearing from a lot of you who are decluttering. Let me know how it’s going and if you have any helpful tips!

June Month in Review

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June went by in a flash.

It always starts quick with a weeklong venture to the Americade Motorcycle Rally in Lake George. Luke, friends, and I rode motorcycles back and forth to Lake George each day. We demoed bikes from manufacturers, walked around, and met other bikers. It’s always a cold and rainy week, but we plowed through and had a great time.

We rode bikes by day and roller coasters at night that week, because our annual Gillette Carnival fundraiser was the same week. It made for lots of goodness and by the end of the week, I was wiped out.

Because I habitually have so much on my plate, I had to get the eighth draft of The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis done, so my illustrator, Danielle LeBlanc, knew the page count for the spine and another set of readers could look for those nitty gritty mistakes. There are still quite a few, so you know what I’m doing in July.

By mid-June, I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and emotionally spent. Yet I was determined to find balance and self-care. In my adult journal workshop, we worked on setting goals and tracking it to support our purpose. Doing this with everyone clarified what I wanted to focus my time on, who I wanted to spent time with, and what I needed to do to make it happen.

If there is one think I have learned, it’s to ask for help. Volunteers, friends, and my wonderful husband joined in to help with fundraisers, get me to yoga, and simplify the rest of my summer.

Balancing work, play, and self-care has always been a conundrum for me, and I think many people feel the same way.

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I took this picture of three balancing rocks while I was with my husband for a soccer tournament in the middle of June! It reminded me of what I juggle in my life. In order for these rocks to maintain balance, there has to be a secure and firm foundation.

The three rocks represent my purpose, family, and life. My purpose is what I’m passionate about, my higher calling, which is to bring hope through my books and teaching writing. In order to do this, I need to take care of myself, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The next rock is my family. I am extremely family oriented. I have my husband, sons (one here and one in my heart), siblings, my mom, nieces, nephews, and and friends who are my chosen family. I love to spend time with all of them and have to balance how often I can see them and how I can help them when needed. Love is the ultimate reason why I’m here, and I express this to my family as often as I can.

The most precarious rock is life. It’s what happens along the way as I try to take care of myself, fulfill my purpose, spend time with my family and friends, and be the best I can be. When life throws me a curve or throws me off a cliff, I have to trust my foundation of family, friends, and purpose.

Then I can rebalance and start over.

July will be a month of simplifying, clearing space in my life and my physical space, in order to create in a more positive atmosphere. Completing the ninth draft of Saving Atlantis, and enjoying my beautiful family. Reflecting back on each month keeps me on my path and makes me grateful for this practice.

How was your month of June? Review, reflect, and do what serves you best!

May Month in Review

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Most of May was maniacal mayhem. Amazingly, I journaled almost every day, but the level of activity for work, classes, writing, and foundation was too high. Everything else suffered. It’s difficult to find balance when I love all that I do. But there can even be too much of a good thing.

I exercised quite a bit in the beginning of the month, but as life got busier, my self-care suffered. My yoga practice fell off the planet. What I ate went down hill as I reached for fast and easy food. Yes, I know, this is when I should be going to yoga more and fueling my body with what nourishes me and makes me stronger. It’s very easy to write it down, but much harder to follow through. It’s a familiar pattern.

My son came home from college, so the house dynamics shifted. I am adjusting while also loving and appreciating having him home. My house suffered in May. Having another person in the house, yes, but really I didn’t have any time for upkeep and cleaning. I have this bone deep urge to rip my house apart and get rid of junk, stuff I don’t need, in order to clear my life and start fresh.

Create Space:

That’s my goal for no other reason than to be able to breathe a little fuller and appreciate what I have done instead of jumping to the next project because of unrealistic timelines.

Create a space conducive to my writing and creativity.

I am two weeks into June and finally have space in my calendar to catch up. Consistent journaling can be life saving, life altering, and indicative of what is bubbling underneath the surface.

There’s so much that I struggle with and burying myself in work is a way I cope, even if it’s not healthy.

If I want everlasting change I have to dig deep before the eruption takes over everything. That is what journaling during the month of May showed me.

Immediate Goals for June:

Enjoy and appreciate my family.

Get Saving Atlantis to my proofreaders by June 18. Get book to the printer by July 6. It’s a couple weeks off schedule, but still where I want it to be.

Get back to my yoga practice, healthy eating, and exercise.

Journal, journal, journal

How was your month of May? What are your goals for June? It’s never too late to change or start again.

 

Be Here Now

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There is a soothing space in this moment. Right now. As I bring my pen to journal, the scratching of the ink along the page is like a mantra, calming my system, focusing my mind on what is right in front of me. As I connect with my words, nothing else matters. Any stress, anticipation of my day, worry about the world or those I love all melt away. All I am is in this single moment. A writing meditation.

It’s quiet. My dogs rest around me secure in their safe place. I am aware of my self, my emotional and physical state. Being here now makes it easy to accept where I am, because there is no other place to be. As the thought to add something to my list urges me to turn the page to my calendar, I keep writing, push those thoughts away and remain here. In this place.

Be Here Now. There is no other time that will give me what I need. I soak it in and appreciate now.

How can you be in your moment, where you are, right now?

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.