My Big Sister—Gratitude Day 13

My sister, Stephanie, is two years older than me. She mothered me as much as she messed with me. 

In Long Island, she always walked me home and fought off the kids who wanted to beat me up. On the first day of second grade, Stephanie brought me to my homeroom. I cried and clung to her like I was being kidnapped. I was not a very outgoing child. She gave me a hug and led me into the room. Knowing that she would be there after was comfort. 

When she entered high school, she didn’t really want her kid sister around, but I remember sitting outside her bedroom door listening to her practice the flute. 

It wasn’t until I was in high school that we started to hang out more, and I had a hand in connecting her with Ray, her high school sweetheart! 

Stephanie has a quick and sharp sense of humor. She can come back with a funny line before I even take in what was said. She is a source of laughter in our family. 

Today I am grateful for my big sister. I don’t think I tell her enough. 

Recognizing what I am grateful for definitely makes me think about how much I let people know what they mean to me. 

I’ll make sure she knows. 

It’s Never too Late

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Photo by Alysia Thomas

Both yesterday and today I have been reminded that it’s never too late to try something new, change what you have been doing, or begin again.

Last night I went to an in-home skin care class where we learned about products and what made this product more suitable to how I want to live. I have been using a skin care line for  the last 29 years. Although I think this product is safe and has served me well, I said that I felt it was too late to start something new that was completely clear of any chemicals. Everyone in the room said that it was never too late to change what I put on my skin, especially since everything is absorbed directly into my system.

So I have decided to make this small change for myself and my family so that I know that the products we are placing on our skin aren’t harming us. It’s something small to keep us and the environment healthy and reduce our carbon footprint. That is truly something that is never to late to start.

Then today in yoga, the topic came up again as we flowed through our poses and tried news ones that some of us may have never done. Even though we may have fallen over or out of a pose, the instructor encouraged us to let it go and begin again. Each time I step on my mat, I know that it’s never too late to change how I come to my practice or what I try. This goes with any form of exercise or challenge.

The questions that came up in my mind was why do we think that we can no longer do something when we reach a certain age? Or why do we think that it’s too late to change or try again. And what do I still want to do in my life that I feel like I can’t because so much of life has gone by or because I have changed?

When this goes through my mind, I think of regret. Sure there are some things in my life that I regret. And for some of those things, I can’t go back and change, but it’s not to late to change how I perceive them. I also need to accept some of them, but that doesn’t limit me in other areas of my life.

There is so much in my life that I still want and can do. It’s not too late for me to:

–learn another language

–take singing lessons

–train in another martial arts or yoga style

–ride across the country on my motorcycle, hopefully with my husband!

–go to Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Scotland

–visit every state

–have grandchildren and spoil them

–get a PhD

I think this will be a bullet page in my journal that I will keep adding to. Kind of like a bucket list, but not really. It’s more like an empowering tool to confirm that I have so much I still want to do. It’s a list that allows me to grow and gives me even more to look forward to!

What have you crossed off your list because you think it’s too late in your life to do it? Why do you think that? Without worrying about how it will happen, make a list in your journal of what you believe is not too late for you to do. Pick one item on it and make a decision to try it out. You never know where it will take you and what opportunities will open for you!

Words Matter

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Words Matter. It’s like a new slogan pounded into my heart this morning when I first heard it. Words, especially saying the right or wrong ones can make a huge difference for everyone who hears them.

It is extremely difficult to communicate sometimes. I know I have been afraid, worried, deterred from sharing what I have truly wanted to say. My journals hold my truths, because they aren’t judged and no one sees them. My journal is the holding space where I can let those words simmer, settle or dissipate the sparked emotions I’m feeling at that time.

Words can save relationships or they can destroy them. When words are spoken rashly, no matter how hard we try to take them back, they are already out there spreading like a plague often with no idea of how it started. Rashly spoken words are often ones dying to be released. They are words that feel defeated, not acknowledged, debased, and forgotten. Then once the words build up, they literally choke the holder and spew out like flash floods or spin out of control like a tornado, or burn everything in its path as a volcano does.

Using a journal to get a feel for how those words will land is vital to speaking your truth in a way that honors how you feel, but also honors the relationship you have with another person. I tell writers all the time to let your piece sit for a day, week or month then go back to it. When you read it again, you have created a distance that allows you to truly see what you have written. The same goes with journal writing. Let it simmer then cool and view it from a calmer frame of mind. You may or may not feel the same. Either way at least you have that chance to clearly state how you feel and why without the emotional  charge.

Do you notice how hard it can be to tell someone how you feel about them? It shouldn’t be so difficult to tell someone you love them. I tell my son most every time I say goodbye that I love him, because even though he knows it, I am grateful that I can speak those words to him, and he can say them back.

I’ve been quite nostalgic lately, and I think that’s causing me to express my feelings even more than I usually do. I want people to know that I care about them, and it not only feels wonderful to me that I have expressed myself, but it also sends positive energy their way. It doesn’t always have to be verbal. Texting, writing notes and placing them where someone will find them, or sending cards to those who live far away all create joy and love that is so needed in our world today.

Words Matter. At the end of my life, I want to know that I have told those I love how much they mean to me. I want to have stood up for the wrongs that I have seen in this world. I may not be able to take back harsh words spoken in the heat of anger or frustration, but I will make sure that I am complete with that person in that we have had a chance to express how we both feel and respect our differences.

It’s not easy to do all of this. It’s also not easy to find the words that can express the depths of our feelings, but we should at least try. Words can destroy, create wars, break up families, and kill. Yet, words have the power to heal, to offer hope, love, acceptance, and joy. Those are the words I choose. The words that let people know they matter.

If you are angry at someone or a situation or feel betrayed and hurt, write down what happened, how it made you feel, and what you would like to do about it. Then let it sit for at least a day. When you go back to it, does the situation still have the same level of emotion? Do you still feel the need to have a conversation with this person or group? If so, from this space of calm, write down what you would like to say. Does it convey the message and tone that you want to convey? If unsure, it may be helpful to ask a trusted friend.

Tell someone today how much they mean to you, whether in a note or face to face. Watch how it makes them feel. Do they light up, smile, and return the emotion? It can be anyone, spouse, parent, friend, family member. How did it make you feel? The more you express yourself, the easier it gets.

 

 

 

Nothing

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I feel like a dry well today. At last in the journal prompt department. I finally recalled details of my dreams last night and wrote them down. I think I’ve been too busy and with going to bed late, I’m not getting enough sleep.

The title Nothing initially meant that I had nothing to offer, or at least thought I didn’t today. Nothing was going through my mind, nothing mattered, but finding something to write about! But then it reminded me of a black t-shirt that Nick wore that simply read Nothing in white letters. I got it from a book conference, and Nick loved it.

I don’t know why he loved that shirt so much. It could have meant that nothing would ever stop him or nothing bothered him. Or maybe he wanted to do nothing.

Or the deeper meaning of Nothing could be when you ask someone what’s wrong, and they say, “Nothing,” but their body language says everything.

And what if you stare at nothing, isn’t it still something?

Then again maybe nothing is just nothing, and we add our dramas and stories to the mix, which makes it something we don’t need.

All I can say is write down Nothing and see what you get.

Blurry Vision

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I woke up this morning, and my eyes were burning as I tried to write in my journal. My first thought was that I need to get more sleep. My second thought was to put my allergy eye drops in like I always do so I can wear my contacts later.

A creature of routine, I reached for my glasses on my end table, but they weren’t there. First sign that something was up with my morning. They were still in my eyeglass case in the bathroom drawer. No biggie. I put them on, and my world got even blurrier. I took them off. Blinked. Put them back on. Nope. Can’t see a thing.

I noticed my contact case. Could it be? Yes. It was empty. I looked in the mirror and slowly peeled my contacts off my dry and irritated eyes. No wonder I couldn’t see! I slept with my contacts in!

I cannot remember when I had last done that! It quickly reminded me of another time I couldn’t see. My husband and I both wear contacts. One morning I complained that I couldn’t see out of my blasted contacts. It’s a normal complaint, because contacts have always been uncomfortable for me. I dislike glasses even more (that is a story for Family History prompt), so I only wear them when I absolutely have to.

Luke, who never complains about his contacts, couldn’t see either. We went on about our day completely bewildered and hoping our vision would clear. Of course it was Luke who had the Eureka moment and asked if I put his contacts in my eyes! We took them out and put in our new ones. Lo and behold, we could see! Needless to say we now make sure our contact cases are a different color!

Yes, I could prompt you to write about times in your life when you didn’t see a situation clearly and invite you to use this story as a metaphor.

Personally I like the goofy story. Write about a time when you and a friend, partner, sibling, etc mixed something up and had a good laugh about it. Or you couldn’t find your phone and realized it was at your ear as you spoke to your friend about not knowing where your phone was!

Can’t make this stuff up! That’s why it’s priceless! So write it down!

Who Do you Love?

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We are busy. We get wrapped up in our daily lives and engulfed in our jobs. Days, weeks, and months go by before we realize that we haven’t connected with the special people in our lives. Those people who make us better, who make us smile, who are the reason we get up in the morning.

Sadly we often lose those we love and don’t tell them how we feel while they were here. Or maybe we did, but miss being able to do that.

I have often written letters to my son and my dad after they passed, because there was so much I wanted to say. And I tell those I care about how much I love them and how important they are to me. Do I say it enough? I hope so.

Today, let those you love know how much they mean to you. If there is someone who passed away, you can always tell them how you feel and they will hear. Or write a letter in your journal about a memory you have of them, how much you love them or how they impacted your life. It’s a connection and a memory that will always live on.

Let Them Know

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My niece, Olivia, is heading to Miami for work next week, and I’m not sure how long she will be there, but it’ll be a while. I call her and her sister my nieces, even though they aren’t blood related. The bond we have with them and their parents is one of family, and they are a part of my heart.

I thought about Olivia and all the joy she brings into my life and those around her. She babysat my boys when they were little (poor thing!). She was always there for them and was especially supportive during Nick’s journey with cancer for both Nick and Stephen. Seeing how much Olivia brings me joy, I thought about all the wonderful people in my life. I have been blessed with a fun and wonderful family, friends who would go to the end of the earth for me (and have), a husband who adores me (and is very patient!), and two sons who taught me that love is endless.

I make certain that I see all these fantastic people as much as possible, because they lift me up, they make me happy, and they empower me to be the best person I can. I check in with my nieces and nephews and other friends who don’t live close by. I don’t do it enough, so that is an action plan for me.

Life is too short to get caught up in the rat race and forget why we are here. Sharing your love, sending it to those far away can be as simple as a text, although a phone call or FaceTime is even better. Perhaps you can plan a trip, go to the movies, or get together for dinner. Connect with those you love and brighten your life. Do it now. Don’t wish for it, act on it.

We fall into the negative commentary of: “Well they should call me.” Create the action you want mirrored back to you. If you want to see more of someone, let them know, and tell them why. Show your love.

Tonight I gather with people who mean so much to me, who have lifted me up, and have brought me joy, so we can send off one of our chicklets with flair! I will tell Olivia that I love her, that I will miss her, and that I am very proud of the compassionate, strong, and determined young woman she has become.

And yes I will plan a trip to see her! If that happens to be on an awesome beach, then I am even luckier than I thought!

Who in your life brings you joy, empowers you, makes you laugh?

Who do you wish to see more often? What is stopping you?

What action can you take to reach out now and connect?

Do it today. You never know what joy you make bring them.