Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

It’s all relative…really… September 18, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Football,Life Balance,Parenting,Sports — beatitudesofmylife @ 10:32 am
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This past weekend, we went to State College, PA for the Navy/Penn State game.  While the game was disappointing (to say the least), we both had a fabulous time when we took my niece out for an early dinner on Friday.  We had a fun meal together, got to hear all about her classes, find out how much she loves being at PSU, and talk with her about her friends, job, and family.  It was exactly what I’d wanted to do when we made our original plans to go to this particular game…. visiting with our niece, M.

The interesting about this normal family outing is that our niece, M, is not technically related to us… she’s our niece by love, not by blood.  It may sound weird, but it works for us.

I’m sure there are many others who have familial connections like ours.  I always felt that my first cousins were more like “second sisters”… or “sisters once removed”, if you will.  I spent every significant holiday and family event of my childhood with my cousins and, since they were all just a few years older than me, my sense of identity was formed by these amazing women, much as older sisters do for their younger ones.  These are the women I have called on for support my entire life… the women who taught me life lessons… the women who allowed me to tag along with their friends when I visited.   They helped me weather the storms caused by my parents’ divorce and allowed me to learn how to be graceful, loving, and generous by watching their reactions to everyday life.  These women have been my role models for real life… and they helped me learn how to form my own family structure, apart from the strict “family tree structure” guidelines you can find in Wikipedia.

If you go strictly by the original family tree, the lovely young woman we took to dinner wouldn’t be included.  She’s actually the best friend of my first cousin’s daughter… who is officially my first cousin once removed.  Huh?   Anyone else have people who don’t fit into this stagnant structure?

When I speak of my cousin J and her husband B, I usually refer to them as my sister and BIL.  Their kids, M and J, therefore are my nephew and niece… right?  I do have an amazing sister, BIL, and nephew (J, E, and T) who I love to distraction as well as my brother, SIL and their two kids (T, J, E, and Z) so this is in no way a statement on my relationship with them.  My other cousins’ kids are similarly referred to, in our house, as our nieces and nephews as are the kids of my step-brothers and their families.  We are blessed with many relatives, but I believe that in this day and age the word “relative” can be a confining term.

I love having the freedom to define relationships with people in my life.  One of the definitions of “relative”, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a person connected with another by blood or affinity”.  If you look up “affinity” on Dictionary.com, you’ll get the following definitions: “1. a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc. 2. a person, thing, idea, etc., for which such a natural liking or attraction is felt. 3. relationship by marriage or by ties other than those of blood ( distinguished from consanguinity). 4. inherent likeness or agreement; close resemblance or connection”.

I believe this is where my favorite part of having relatives falls.  I have a number of people who have, over the years, called me “mom” and will call or text when they need to reach out to someone they can trust…  I have a select few young men who allow me to call them “son”… I have male friends who I refer to as my brothers… I have long-time friends who are more like sisters… doesn’t everyone have people like this in their lives?

I truly believe these terms of endearment are incredibly important.  While I’m not a fan of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”, I thoroughly believe that we are all able to create relatives with whom we have a connection… and affinity… and bring them into our lives.  Maybe it’s someone whose parents are far away and they need a parental “touchstone” of sorts… maybe it’s someone who seems so familiar to you and your own family that they just “fit”… maybe it’s someone who needs you at that moment in their lives.  Whatever the reason, I feel that when that situation presents itself, the universe is telling us that this person needs some support… and I believe it’s our duty to answer that call.

Besides… how could you say no to such a beautiful face… Love my niece Mel!

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Forgive and Forget… right? June 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 2:56 pm
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I admit that I’m having trouble with the phrase “forgive and forget”.  Over the past few weeks, there have been difference scenarios brought to mind in which I keep hearing this phrase as a mantra… but is it meant as one for me to follow or in which to take heed?

The Bible tells us that Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”  Earlier in the book of Matthew, He also says “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  Is this a parable through which we are to understand how to comport ourselves on earth or is this another time when I need to seek the council of my priest?  I just have such a hard time with this phrase.

Most recently, I’ve been told to “let it go” when I rant about the unfair treatment of my son at the hand of his college lacrosse coach throughout his senior year.  I know I should do so, but there’s a little part of me that wants to know how I could possibly make things better if I don’t forget… if I could do something that would have an effect on the future if I didn’t let things go.  Am I being delusional in thinking that my actions would have any effect at all?  My son doesn’t seem to have a problem letting this situation go… why am *I* having such a hard time doing so as well?

You know the old proverb:  Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.  The idea is that after being tricked once, one should be wary, so that the person cannot trick you again.  I was on the receiving end of such a situation a few years back while serving on a board in our church in which two members of our parish went to great lengths to publicly disparage my actions and abilities.  The situation was caustic enough to both me and my family that taking a step away was truly the best course of action left for us.  Over the subsequent years, I have found other ways to feed my spirituality… but forget?  I don’t think so.  I’m a self-described “happy yellow lab” (see previous posting), but there are definitely times when I follow that proverb more closely than I might like to admit.  Those people fooled me all those years ago, but I don’t know if I could find my way back again if I were to allow them to fool me again.

Maybe I’m just a little too human but I’m offering up a warning to all who see me as a doormat.  I can allow for mistakes… I can forgive poor judgement in most cases… just don’t expect me to come back as quickly the next time.  I have been blessed with reason and memory… God gave me these gifts… and I’ll use them as needed to protect myself and those I love. 

Hopefully I can be more positively focused in my next posting… God has bestowed many gifts upon my life and I need to give credence to all that is good in my life instead of dwelling on that which is not. 

Can you forgive and forget this posting?

Can I?

 

Guilt…. what a frustrating emotion March 8, 2012

Filed under: Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:10 am
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I have to get this off my chest before I leave for my Girls Weekend.  I am frustrated by the power guilt has to influence my actions.  After “taking a stand” and “going on record” that I was going to speak with no one except M, it looks as if I will end up placing a call tonight when I arrive in HH for my weekend.  While it’s only a phone call and it’s just one, it still irks me that I feel that I must make this call after a comment made by someone close to me.

Back-track a bit… my mom is having surgery on Friday next week to have a melanoma removed.  I have been asked to spend the weekend (and a few days ahead of time) to help her through this event.  While it took a bit of juggling, I’ll be going up to PA on Wednesday and then coming home on Sunday, barring any complications.  I do this willingly… she’s my mom… she’d be here trying to help if something were happening with me… I can’t let her go through this alone.

However, she threw a slight detour into my “I’m taking 3 days OFF” plan when she found she needed a procedure done today (Thursday).  I have no way of going up to help her and she emphatically said she didn’t need me for this appointment.  She has friends who are willing and able to help her to and from the appointment and she’s completely sure that everything will be fine.  I’m selfishly glad about this because it means that her problem won’t impact my three days off… however, she expects me to call or to allow her to call me to tell me everything tonight when she gets home. I asked her if she could please just send me an email when she got home to tell me anything and everything she wanted to, but that I just couldn’t talk on the phone.  I needed to take three days for myself before I jump into caretaker mode with her next week.

Does this make me so selfish and such a horrible child for wanting this for myself?  I sent my sister a text to let her know what I was doing and got a reply that made me stop and re-evaluate… “I cannot support this, but you do what you need to.  I love you!”  So I guess I’ll be calling my mom tonight and giving her some of my 3 days off to listen to her story about how the procedure went today.  Guilt, especially family guilt, is a powerful motivator.

Wish me luck…

 

Everyone benefits from a Girls Weekend March 7, 2012

I’m headed out of town this weekend for a weekend with my cousin and a girlfriend of mine.  I can hardly wait to get on the road, even though I know I’m going to miss my husband while I’m away.  It’s a rejuvenating experience that will allow me to come home with fun memories, some tasty new wines, and a greater appreciation for my life overall.  I always have a wonderful time when I’m gone, but it’s not something that would make me want to change my life… it allows me to appreciate what others might not.

I went on my first real “girls weekend” when we lived in MI.  Three friends and I went to Dresden, OH to spend the weekend doing “Longaberger basket” things.  We each made an official Longaberger basket, walked around the Longaberger Homestead, had High Tea in their tea room, and shopped/talked/laughed/relaxed to our hearts content.  Two of our companions were vegans, so we tried some vegetarian options for a meal or two.  “Having pie” was a priority for our trip, so we made sure to incorporate that into our plans as well.  We consulted one another throughout the trip and made sure to respect everyone’s “must do” list as we went.   It was a wonderful break from our busy lives as moms and we enjoyed every moment of the weekend… but were all very glad to get back home again.

After our move to VA, it took a while before I felt the need for another “girls weekend”.  Moving and keeping up with the boys activities took much of my time and we did a lot of family traveling for sporting events.   Spending concentrated quality time with a girlfriend or two didn’t seem as important, so the plan got demoted to a “someday” on my list of things to do.

A few years ago, my BFF came up with the idea of going to OBX for a “Taste of the Beach” weekend in March with her sister and a few friends.  Since I’d never been to the Outer Banks of NC, it seemed like a really fun thing to do… we are both foodies and love to cook, so we planned to take a cooking class, make food and drinks at the beach house we were borrowing, and generally be lazy and relax.  Again, we talked out all our expectations and “must do” lists – mine was relatively short, since I had no experience with OBX or what was available in that area.  We drove down, had a fabulous time, and made plans to repeat the experience the following spring.

The best part of a Girls Weekend, I think, is simply sharing the event with girlfriends… as any woman knows, dishing about personal history and sharing likes/dislikes are things that guys just don’t like to do.   Women like to share with their friends… we like to know that we’re not alone in how we approach things in our lives and we enjoy bouncing ideas off one another without asking for a solution.  We may already have the solution in our heads, but talking things out with a girlfriend can help to clarify the situation for us.   I could drive M crazy by running every little thing by him, or I could chat about things with my girlfriends and then talk with him about the “important stuff”… the stuff that really matters for us.

M likes to say that I’m distracted easily… and he’s absolutely right.  I have so many plans, ideas, and general thoughts running around in my head that as soon as something “shiny” draws my attention, I’ve lost the task at hand.  This wonderful man puts up with so much from me – he even does the laundry because I can’t seem to complete a single load of dark clothes within a reasonable time frame.  Thankfully, he understands my need to talk… to communicate… to simply be heard by a friend.  Don’t get me wrong…. I talk plenty to M.  It’s just that I feel more able to be quiet after a Girls Weekend.  Spending time with my friends allows me to release all those random ideas and thoughts into the universe, without judgment or follow-up plans.  I can allow myself to save the important stuff for M and let the small stuff go… because I’ve talked it over with my girlfriends.

So I’m off to a Girls Weekend.  I’ll be combining two of my favorite pastimes and enjoying the Hilton Head Wine and Food Festival with my cousin (whom I haven’t seen since 1980!) and one of my dearest friends (whom I rarely get to see even though we live less than a mile apart).  I’ll have an 8-hour drive each way to talk and chat and clear my head and I’ll be able to relax, knowing that M will be able to handle whatever may come up at home.  The best part is that I’ll come home on Sunday and be totally focused on seeing my beloved M again… rejuvenated and refreshed from spending time with my girlfriends.

See?  Everyone really DOES benefit from a Girls Weekend…

 

Why I write… January 31, 2012

Filed under: Blessings,Life Balance,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 4:29 pm
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Wow… this question has been posed to me by several people recently, so it’s been running around on the hamster wheel in my head for a few weeks now.  I’m slowly recognizing that if an idea is imposing its presence into my subconscious, it’s asking to be let out and run free, so here’s the best I can do in way of explanation at the moment.

I write so I don’t go crazy.  I write so that all those crazy ideas in my head have a place to go instead of whirling around and causing me to forget the really important things, like remembering to pick up Arnold’s bread thins for M’s lunch.  I write to share my opinions and my thoughts with anyone who is interested in taking a break from their own life for a moment.  But mostly, I write so that I can give credence to all the blessings of my life.

I was having trouble sleeping because I was thinking so much.  Anyone else have this happen?  As my kids have gotten older (and in the process, I’ve somehow gotten older too), it’s gotten harder and harder for me to fall asleep at night.  I’ve always been someone who thinks about stuff before I nodded off, but this was getting out of hand.  I’d hear a cough and within minutes I was trying to figure out how I was going to adjust my upcoming morning in case I needed to include a doctor’s appointment.  I’d hear a funky sound as the A/C or heating unit kicked in and suddenly I was trying to justify taking out a loan to purchase a brand new unit.  I couldn’t stop myself from going straight to the worst-case scenarios of anything that popped into my little pea-sized brain.  It was driving me crazy and I knew it.  I got some help from my doctor (yes, a sleeping rx) when the stress just got to be ridiculous but lately my thoughts have been swirling around more ideological pursuits.  Blogging seemed like a logical place to work them out… mull them over and then kick them out to the world… get them out of my head.  So far, it really seems to work for me.  The “hamster wheel” of thoughts isn’t keeping me awake as much as it used to…

I wanted to mull over things that were happening in my life and put them somewhere so I could “let them go”.  Writing, for me, has a cathartic benefit when I send it out into the world.  I may not have many people who are reading what I write, but those who do have given me something truly wonderful…. their feedback.  Hearing that I’m not alone or that others have experienced similar situations allows me to participate in the larger world in a way that simply speaking with individuals can offer.  I believe we all want to know that we’re not the only “freaks on the planet” so to speak…. there is someone else out there who understands and can commiserate or validate our ideas.  Humans are social animals… and I love being social…

As for giving credence to the blessings of my life?  How could I not appreciate all that God has given me in this world?  I have a husband who is my better self…and I try to always be the best partner for him in every way.  He makes me feel cherished and loved, no matter what is going on in our lives.  I have two sons of whom I couldn’t possibly be more proud… they are smart, interesting, fun, and I would rather spend time with them than anyone else in the world (other than their dad).  I could go on and on, but I’ll save that for a “mushier” post.  Suffice it to say that I love my family with abandon and am so grateful that God felt me worthy…

… and that’s why I write…

 

 
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