Brain Dump

I am seriously dumping my brain into this blog post just because I don’t have anywhere else to get rid of the overload.

The second is that right now my brain IS a dump and I need to declutter it.  Man, I would really like to get rid of that theme in my life.

So here we go – I will attempt to make this somewhat organized so that I don’t totally scare off my 1 remaining reader, and so that when I revisit this post, I am able to make sense of it and see if I have progressed at all!

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of ...

Image by Earthworm via Flickr

Physical house clutter – well, I can’t say that it is any worse, but it is definitely  not any better!  I live in my dream house – there is nothing else in the house that I could honestly want.  There is way more space than a family of 4 needs.  It is structurally a very pretty house.  The house is filled with roomy closets and ample cabinets.   There is absolutely no reason why this house should be this cluttered!  If there were 7 people,  maybe.  But even if there were 7 people living in this house it is large enough that it should not be this cluttered and disorganized.  The only thing that I can complain about regarding this house is that the interior is not painted (waiting on $$$ to get that done).   The rest is completely a result of poor habits.  So I am back on the band wagon to get this house finally organized.  I was talking to someone the other day who put it into perspective for me.  We moved into the house 3 months after we adopted our 2nd daughter (adoption in January, move in March).  I had a hysterectomy in April.  That month was spent just getting things in place where my family could function while I was on major lifting restrictions from surgery.  From that time forward my family has lived from one “crisis” to another.  About the time that we would start to feel like we could move forward another would hit us.  They ranged from 3 occurrences of cancer in my father, my husband being laid off, a dear friend’s death, giving up some of my personal goals so my husband could be a small business owner, the economy crash hitting my husband’s business hard, knowing there was something wrong with my oldest but not being able to get anyone to listen to me and then finally finding an awesome occupational therapist to help us out.   Those were the major issues and don’t include all the little things that occur on a daily basis.   The result is that we never really moved into the house.  We never established systems that worked for the long term.  Those are the things that we now need to do.  Our lives are starting to calm down and hubby and I are once again working together instead of working on the parallel and never meeting! 

Emotionally I need to let go of a lot of things.  This is tied very closely with my spiritual life.    Throughout all of the things that I have listed above I could look back and see where God had worked in my life.  But I was unable to truly focus on and find Him during the events.   I am now consciously working on training my soul to search out God, to pray constantly,  and to praise Him even during the bad times.  I have a very long way to go, but I can see where I have grown.  I have taken the first step in signing up for a Bible Study at our church that takes place during Sunday Morning Religious Education for the girls.  DH is going to be going with me.  I look forward to sharing this experience with him and learning together.  My youngest will also make her First Holy Communion this upcoming spring.  It is a time to reflect on His gift of Himself to us.  While this will make for a very busy year with retreats and classes, it will make my journey towards peace much easier to follow since there will be a set path for me this year.  In the journey I need to find where God wants DH and I to be regarding family growth – are we to adopt another child?  What role am I to play in the lives of young people as my girls grow?  How do I let go of that desire to have “just one more child” in my home?  How do I let go of my anger and disappointment at not being able to be a stay at home mom?  How do I let go to dream of home-schooling my children?  How to I ensure that faith and morals are passed on to them in this fast paced, way too worldly world in which we live?

Physically I am a mess.  I am at my all time highest weight EVER! I have taken a giant leap in this arena and started taking Tae Kwon Do.  My oldest and DH have been taking it for a little over a year.  My youngest and I signed up last week.  I have been to 2 classes.  I was wringing wet by the time the class was over, but I really felt good.   As my body begins to become more accustomed to the increased activity, I will tackle my dietary habits and those of my family.  This will be a tough area for me.  So much of my physical challenges lay squarely in the lap of the whole reason I was unable to bear children.   It is a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break and control.  But if I want to be around to see who my girls turn out to be, I need to become proactive.  So one step at a time.  I refuse to try and change to much at once regarding my physical self – but I WILL make the needed changes and be able to be a physical presence that does not embarrass my girls.  To hear that I am a hot mama from my DH would be nice, too!

Finances are finally starting to look up.  They will continue to be tight as we dig out of the hole incurred by the economy.  But we are slowly working away and will get there.  I need to take a more active role in conserving money and squeezing every drop of value from each penny.  I have started to coupon and watch sales.  It is a steep learning curve for me.  Over the last few years I was grateful just to have enough money to get food for the girls – we got necessities only.  Now that we can start spending a little more, I want to continue to be frugal and get as much value as possible.

My relationship with DH went through some rough patches over the last couple of years.  As the money canyon got more narrow, the emotional river ran faster and with many, many rapids.  We went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter this summer.  It was the perfect way for us to reconnect.  He put it perfectly – it was like we were both trying to reach each other, but we were on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.  Over that weekend we finally met at the bottom of the Canyon.  There is a ranch down in the Canyon, along the Colorado River with a small, clear stream running through it.  It is called Phantom Ranch.  DH and I both felt that we finally reached the Ranch that weekend and were finally able to talk to each other without shouting across a gaping chasm.   We have a lot of re-tweeking to do on our communication, but we a finally on the same path, walking the same direction and holding hands while we travel.   I am so blessed to have him in my life as my partner.  After 21 years of marriage I still get butterflies when I see him.   He and my girls are what motivate me to become a better person, to live more fully, to laugh more, to move more, to be less weighted down with emotional/physical/house clutter.

So my journey starts with one step.  This first step is towards my bed to get adequate rest to be able to tackle my projects.  Catch you on the flip side of the clock!

Priorities

The Waltons

Image via Wikipedia

During this time I have been recuperating from surgery, I have taken some time to look at things in my life, as I alluded to in my post yesterday.   Much of my time was spent in front of the TV, as my surgery took my right arm and hand out of commission. 

I am a serious sucker for TV shows that were popular when I was growing up.  In particular, shows that portray life as I would like it to be.  One show that I never grow tired of watching is “The Waltons”.   There are so many things about that family that I would like to include in my own family. 

First, let’s start with the things that I would like to include but will probably never happen.  The chances of me living on a mountain, surrounded by family and friends is probably not going to happen.  I would be content with about 7-10 acres that contain a small woods, a stream, a large yard where I can plant a garden, and farmhouse similar to the one the Waltons lived in, but with a few more modern amenities – a couple more bathrooms,  and a gas range/oven.  Being a SAHM to a large family with a husband that worked from home is probably not in the cards either, but I can still dream. 

Now for the things that I can incorporate into my family.  Slowing down.  Being involved in every activity at school and church is not something that our family must do.  Family dinners.  There is absolutely no reason that my family cannot sit down to dinner at the table, say grace and share our day with each other at least 5 times a week.  Turning off the TV.  A lot of people will say that watching TV is the modern version of listening to the radio.  I sincerely disagree.  The TV is something that seems to suck my children into it.  There are many other activities that we can be doing – listening to music, listening to books on CD, reading books out-loud to each other, playing games with each other.  All of those activities encourage interaction with each other.  Choosing activities that support our Christian beliefs.  There are a lot of worthwhile activities that my children can get involved in through school.  But there is an edge to all of them – fund-raising, competition, and interacting with lots of children who don’t share our value of respect.  I am not saying that I want to totally shelter my children from these things, but I think elementary school is a bit too young for it to infiltrate every part of their lives.  Talking to my children.  I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of the day, bouncing from activity to activity, getting homework done, getting chores done, I realize that I have not really talked to my girls.  I am missing golden opportunities to get to know them, to help guide them to follow Christ, to become compassionate, respectful adults. 

So, things in my house need to change.  No they are going to change.  Step by step I am going to reclaim my family.  I am going to take a step back in time and enjoy the simple things.  It is not going to be easy.  It is not going to be without some withdrawal pains.  But I think my family will be the richer for it.

Motivation Monday – New Year Attitude

Unknown Person
Image via Wikipedia

Julie, over at Less Than Perfect Life Of Bliss wrote something in  one of her first posts of the new year.  I honestly don’t remember what the rest of the post was about (click on the link to find out – poke around over there if you have a chance, she has some really neat projects and thoughts), but this line, I find -

inspiring

freeing

hopeful

Oh – I guess you want to know what that line was, huh?

BUT- there’s an exciting year ahead of us,

full of things that have never been.

Sit with that for a moment.

Does that line make shivers go up and down your spine or does it fill you with dread?

Does it open vistas that you never imagined or does it make you want to climb back in bed and hide?

Does it encourage you to charge out your front door and find those things, or do you want to lock the door in fear that what is to come is worse than what has been?

Last spring I would have answered dread, bed, and worse.  But as I have written in the last few months, there was some sort of switch that was clicked in me this past year.  I know that God had a lot to do with it.  You see, I am a slow learner when it comes to His lessons and I was trying to take charge of my life without consulting Him.  He was allowing me flounder, to learn some lessons.  When I finally looked up at Him and asked for His help, gave Him the problems to fix instead of trying to fix them on my own, allowed my heart to be fully embraced by Him.

Now I am eager to find out what is in store for me this year.  I am looking forward to identifying the blessings that I am given each day.  I am anxious to set out on the path called 2011 and see where the journey leads me and who I meet and what I see and do.  I am really interested to discover who I am going to be at the end of the year!

So how about you?

What sort of emotion does the phrase create in you?



Motivation Monday – Personal Growth Update

The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.
Robert Cushing

 

Well, I did it.

I made it through the church social function.

I drove there – BY MYSELF

I entered the venue – BY MYSELF

I walked around all the tables and looked at the decorations – BY MYSELF

I initiated a conversation with a woman I had never met before – BY MYSELF

And you know what –

I had a great time.

A friend of mine showed up a little later and we sat together.  We had been friends at our old parish.  I did not realize that she was part of this parish until I ran into her dropping her son off at VBS a couple of years ago.  Life had gotten in the way and other than saying a quick hello, we had not had the chance to reconnect. She had encouraged a mutual friend of ours to come along to the event. All three of us sat together, drank wine, ate, laughed, and listened to an awesome presentation.  I even won a door prize!

After the scheduled part of the evening was over, my friend and I stood around and chatted for another hour.

We laughed some more, cried a little, learned how much we each grown over the last few years.  The years fell away as we shared as only women can.

Snow Falling at Night

Image by ♥ Crystal Writer ♥ via Flickr

As I walked out to my car it was snowing.  The world was quiet as it only is when blanketed by snow.  The flakes glittered as they passed through the street light beams.  I walked along, quietly humming Christmas carols, occasionally trying to catch a snow flake on my tongue, and praised God that He had given me the strength to meet this personal challenge and allowed me to find Him the heart of another woman.

Motivation Monday and a Blogcation

Hi all -
I promise I have not disappeared. Just when I promised daily posts I go off and leave! We went out-of-town for a long weekend at my parents’ house where there were 6 of us sharing 1 computer. Needless to say, I did not get much internet time. I do have my Thoughtful Thursday post almost ready (it will be late but it will be posted) from last week. I also have a great item that I want to talk about for my Family Friday, as well.

I don’t have a whole quote for today. What I have is a set of words.   Sunday started Advent for many Christians – a time of anticipation and preparation of our hearts for the birth of Jesus. There were several words that popped out at me during the homily yesterday. I am just going to write them and let you sit with them. They are going to mean something different to each person during this frenzied time leading up to Christmas. I would love to hear YOUR feelings about these words…

Waiting

Preparation

Anticipation

Lists

Patience

On My Way Home

Before Hubby and I moved into our current house we lived on a different side of town and attended an awesome Parish.  It was extremely diverse and had been shepherded for over 20 years by some amazing priests.  We would sit in the pew on Sundays and grin at each other as we listened to the homily.  It was like the priest had a listening device in our home because he would be talking about something that matched what was going on in our home.  It was truly God reaching out to us.

Since we moved we have faced so many struggles.  But the one thing we did was find a parish that we were comfortable worshiping at, was somewhat diverse, and had great programs for the littles.    God has been talking to Hubby through the pastor and other priests.  He has been truly fed at this parish.  Me, not so much.   Before anyone jumps in and says that I need to find a new place, let me explain that it has nothing to do with God or the parish.  It has everything to do with me.   This blog, as the title says, is all about finding the gifts in my life.  I need the focus of this blog so that I can find myself again, so that I can center my life around God.  He has not moved, I have.  I know He is waiting for me to come back.  I know He has His arms wide open.   But somewhere I fell into the trap that I had to be in total control.  There was something else.  You know when you have a friend that you have not sat down and talked to in a long time and there is just so much catching up to do? You put off calling your friend until you have time to talk.  But then time gets away from you and never get around to calling.  Then you feel so embarrassed that you have not called that you avoid it and then that never-ending cycle continues.  That is where I am with God.  That is how my life got so out of control.  That is why I need to find the gifts.  I know God is putting them there for me to find.  I know He is trying to get my attention.  But it has been so long since I have sent a Thank You note that I am ashamed.   This estrangement, this separation, does not help when mixed in with all the other stressors that I wrote about yesterday.  Nor does it make the very real physical condition of SAD easier to overcome.

So now it is time to find the most direct route back to my Father.  The windy road of the last few years has worn me out.

It is time – time to seek, time to confess, time to rest.

It is time from me to find my way home to God.

On the go, only to wait…

The buses we rode during our stay in China were terrific – wide seats that reclined a little, private air vents, and plenty of room so that we were not all sitting on top of each other.  They also sat very high, so we had wonderful views of passing scenery.  After meeting in the lobby and taking final pictures of ourselves as a childless couple, the very kind men in top hats and scarlet tails helped us board the bus.  I obsessively checked and rechecked that we had all the red gift bags in hand and that the diaper bag was zipped and slung over my shoulder.  Even when I sat down on the bus, the diaper bag strap stayed firmly over my shoulder and I clutched it in my lap, like it was some sort of life-preserver.  And maybe at that moment, that was exactly what it was.  It was a something concrete that was in my control to protect.  Soon we pulled out of the driveway of the hotel and merged into the city traffic.  One road merged to another bigger street which eventually merged into a multi-lane, elevated highway.  When we exited the highway back onto surface streets the roads were much more congested.  The congestion was utter chaos.  Buses, mini-vans, subcompact cars, sub-subcompact cars, motorcycles, motor scooters, tricycles, pedal powered cargo wagons, and bicycles all danced around each other, horns honking, competing for every inch of road space and missing each other by mere fractions of an inch.  It was frightening, yet amazing to watch.  As we pulled up to the Civil Affairs building and started to turn right I looked down beside the bus as a bicycle rode along the right side of the bus and passed in front of the us, even as the bus was actively turning.  All of us on that side of the bus let out gasps, yet the man on the bicycle calmly kept pedaling and the bus driver kept turning and we all were safe.  At that moment I decided that driving in this country was something that I never wanted to attempt!

Our bus driver  pulled into the driveway of the Civil Affairs building, only to be told that the bus was too large to pull through the gates and turn around in the parking area.  We disembarked on the sidewalk and made our way to the front door of the building which was located on the corner of two busy streets.  It sat back from the street just a little with the sidewalk opening out in front of it.  We walked through the lobby to the elevator.  There was a single, shiny brass colored elevator on the left with stairs winding around the shaft tower just beyond.  We were headed to the second floor.  A few people headed up the stairs.  The rest of us crowded into the elevator.  As the door closed I remember thinking about the weight limit and giggling to myself that we would be stuck on the elevator as our daughters waited for us!

The elevator opened up into a small waiting room with two couches that sat at right angles to each other along the walls.  There was a reception desk in front of the elevator, to the left of the waiting room.  A window stood open above the couch facing the elevator. There was a faint breeze coming in the window.  We all gathered in this small area, most of us standing because there just were not enough seats.  The window over the couch looked down on the parking lot courtyard our bus could not enter.  Conversation stuttered among us as we all attempted to appear calm.  Yet any close observer could see the fiddling hands and hear the nervous laughter.  Every time the elevator dinged all heads would  snap around to see if the girls were arriving.   People wandered out of the waiting room to the left to look out the window that overlooked the street below.  Standing at that the window  they turned left to look down a hall that ended in a huge wall hanging proclaiming Guangdong Adoption Registration Center.  It seemed as if we waited and moved around this small area forever!  Finally our coordinator said that we were going to move to a larger room.

We took off down the hall towards the wall hanging and turned right to go through a door that opened into another hall that headed to the left.  There were closed doors all along both sides of the hall.  The floors were tile, the walls white with pictures of children who had been adopted, the doors were  dark wood.  Though warm, the hallway was airy and wide and bright.  We were escorted to the second door on the right.  The room smelled closed and hot, the air heavy with the humidity of the subtropics in October.  The far wall was covered in huge windows.  A vinyl covered sectional couch sat along the wall to the right and under the windows.  About a four-foot space was left  between the couches  by the windows.  In the center of the room was a massive conference table.  Someone found the latches to the windows and opened them, allowing the some air movement in the room, though the breeze was not very cool.  Each family staked a claim on various parts of the couches.  We chose a place 1/3 of the way down the couch along the right wall and unloaded all our belongings.  It was the first time since we left our room at the hotel that I let go of the diaper bag.   The families moved around the room.  Emotions ran even higher than they did in the small waiting room.  Ms. Flower and Ms. Britain became tearful as they realized their life-long dreams of having a child were about to be fulfilled.  Mrs. Diamond stroked the hair on a doll that she had brought to give her daughter.  Mr Adams set up his camera on a tripod so as to capture a picture of each child as they came through the door.   I was hot, very hot, but my hands were cold as the adrenaline of the moment coursed through me.  There we sat, seven families, waiting to hear four life changing words.   Finally our coordinator walked into the room, closed the door behind her, and uttered what we had been waiting 16 long months, traveled thousands of miles to hear,…

 

 

“The girls are here”