Slowing Down and Being Intentional

I am so excited.

Over a book.

Yes, a book. I read the first bit of it online.

I’ve been wanting to get this book since it came out earlier this year. It will arrive by Wednesday.

It is the book, Chasing Slow, by Erin Loechner. She talks about appreciation. Gratitude. Being intentional.

Yes. I have been attempting to work on those very things for the past several years, but who doesn’t need the reminder? To know there are others that struggle with these things too?

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As I sit here typing, my eyes glance around the kitchen. Notes and magnets askew on the refrigerator, the Keurig needs the water tank refilled, pet nose prints on the windows, and finger prints all over the stove and dishwasher. The counter needs to be wiped down, again, and my feet feel the grit on the floor. Why are my eyes always drawn to the negative? Instead, I want them to focus on my granddaughter playing in her high chair, smiling like only an 11-month-old can, a glass of cold green tea, and the feel of cool air conditioning (after having just recently been fixed).  I am choosing to make a change.

My soul craves the slower life, the more intentional life. I have been blessed with so much, and yes, I am thankful in a big way. But, am I thankful in the-everyday-way? Do I own my things, or do they own me? Do, I schedule my life, or does my calendar rule me? My life often feels hurried and I’m left harried. That is just not what I want.

I don’t want a wild race to next week, or next month, or even next year. I long to slow down and be intentional. I want to savor the days and make them what I want, not what I must. Slowing down is about more than just getting rid of “stuff”, it is also about changing my mindset. I am sure I will try and fail, then have to dust my self off and get back at it. What am I motivated by? How can I make this one life something I enjoy and not just one I strive to get through?

Over the next several months I will be working hard on simplifying, slowing down, and letting go. I plan on posting periodically about this journey.  You will read about the triumphs as well as the messy stuff. I suspect this journey to slow will not be an easy one for me……

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My Top 15 Things On Life

I was listening to a speaker on TED talks yesterday. The woman speaking was in her 60’s and was also a writer (Anne Lamott “12 truths I learned from life and writing”). She said she was surprised that she had been contacted to speak at TED. She wasn’t sure what she was going to say…. Listening to her made me think about what I’ve learned over the years.

My Top 15 Things On Life

  1.  Life really is short. I still can’t believe that on my next birthday I will be 50. My son will be starting his senior year of college this Fall. My niece, who will be a high school senior this year, has already started visiting colleges. The late 80’s and early 90’s doesn’t seem that long ago to me……and yet, three decades have come and gone since I started college. Some days it is difficult to wrap my mind around that fact.
  2. Do something every day that brings you joy.  On some days that joy will come from hugging your child, or telling your spouse, “I love you”. Maybe it will be eating a scoop of your favorite ice cream on a hot summer evening or reading a good book. Other days it will be the sweet but simple things. Yesterday evening my husband and I took a short jaunt to Meijer’s after dinner. I got a new shower curtain and new rings for the curtain. That seems crazy, right? To be excited about a new shower curtain. It will be white, and crisp and clean (for all of 5 minutes) but, I’ve been wanting to get that and now I did and it is something to check off my list. Checking things off my to do list brings me simple joy. Not every joy has to be monumental.
  3. My words should bring life to others. The older I get, the more mindful I am that what I say does matter. Not everything that I think needs to be said. I don’t want to be that person that hurts with words. Words have power, and the one who understands that point is wise with what he/she says. Besides, people hear negativity far too often anyway, and some even begin to believe it. I have the opportunity to be life giving, not life draining. Be someone’s encourager.
  4. I don’t have to agree with everyone, and neither do you. It is okay to disagree. It is not okay to act like a fool when you disagree. Stand up for what you believe in, but be willing to give that same courtesy to others.
  5. I can’t please everyone. That might seem obvious to most, but it was an epiphany for me. I do not enjoy conflict and confrontation (does anyone?). I have always tended to be more of a “pleaser”, which isn’t really a great thing. It is okay to say “no” to things. The world isn’t going to end.
  6. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and everything else I do in this life should reflect that. Being a Christian is not something I detach from because knowing Jesus is a relationship, not just a religion. Christ is as real to me on mundane Monday mornings, and Thursday night’s at the grocery store as He is on Sunday mornings. I believe the God of the universe knows me and loves me. Although on some days I might feel small, I never go unseen by Him. (For more on this, see The Greatest Gift of All at the top of my blog’s home page.)
  7. It is important to listen. This is a crucial skill, that I wish more people were adept at doing. Instead of always wondering about how I am going to reply to someone, I need to listen first, and truly think about what is being said. So much can be learned if ears are turned on and the mouth is kept shut. I also need to remind myself that listening with the heart and mind is just as important as listening with one’s ears.
  8. I can do anything for a short amount of time. Life can be, and often is, difficult. There have been many things I have gone through in my almost 50 years, things that I have no desire to ever go through again, but I made it through. Sometimes it is me telling myself, “I can do this thing for 5 more minutes” or “I will get through this by the end of the semester”, or “This is hard, but I need to finish”. Sometimes it is mind over matter. I was widowed at 32, with a 5-year-old son. Those first days of widowhood, I just needed to get through the day. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else besides the fact that I was still breathing, and I had a little boy to take care of. Sometimes the things we go through are so hard. Keep going. It will get better.
  9. It is okay to cut your losses. There are times and situations in life that one just needs to say, “I gave it a chance and it isn’t working”. I often ask myself, “Is this worth it?”. Is this going to make a difference next week? Next year? Five years from now? If it isn’t really important. Let it go. There is a feeling of liberation that comes from letting stuff go. It can be freeing.
  10. Death is not dying. As a Christian, I believe the actual literal act of “dying” is very brief (although the leading up to this, can be long and drawn out or short and unexpected). One of my most beloved authors of all time, is C.S. Lewis. He wrote some excellent papers/books on grieving and death, but one of my favorite quotes of his is, “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” We have a body. Bodies don’t last forever. We were made for more than this world. Ponder that.
  11. There is almost nothing better than the laughter of a child. Our 14-year-old grandson is visiting this week from Texas. Watching him play with his 11-month-old cousin, and watching the joy on their faces is so much fun. And how can anyone listen to the laughter of a baby and not smile themselves? In my opinion, there is nothing better. If I am having a rough day all I have to do is pick up my baby granddaughter. She effortlessly makes moments happy.
  12. Time is valuable. It is a precious commodity, that most of us treat in far too cavalier a manner. Once time is wasted, there is no going back.  Another favorite author of mine, Ann Voskamp, reminds us that “life isn’t an emergency”. We don’t need to waste our time running around in circles doing mindless things. Instead, take the necessary time to savor the moments. Make a conscious effort to enjoy them. If you do, you will look back over your life and smile.
  13. Be kind to others. Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” or Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” It has been my experience that those who come across as the most unlovable and most aggravating, are the ones that need to be shown kindness the most. It doesn’t cost one anything to show kindness. So be kind to others. It matters.
  14. I am an advocate for those who need a voice. The young. The disabled. The elderly. If I don’t speak up, then who? It is not okay for me to say someone else will do it. That might be the very reason I am here at this time. To be the voice for those who need to be heard. I am in their corner.
  15. Love your family. Share memories. Laugh a lot. Hug. Enjoy holidays together. Goof around. Get mad. Show forgiveness. Make up. Be there for each other.

***What are some of the things you’ve learned? Share your wisdom. ***

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Life, A Mixture of Opposites

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There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.… Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 NASB 

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*Sometimes life doesn’t end up the way we always thought it would…instead it ends up as a mixture of extremes with the occasional middle of the road, calmness.

*Things happen or don’t happen, or we wished they would have happened.

*People leave and sometimes that is good and sometimes not so good.

*Other people arrive and maybe at the time, we didn’t even know how much we needed these people.

*Births and deaths and both touch our souls in ways few other things can.

*A word said, and a word not spoken and wondering which one of those makes more sense in any given situation.

*Friendships that last and others that fade and realizing there is a season for everything.

*Could have, would have, should have.

*Happy memories and bitter regrets and being willing to try again.

*Saying, “Sorry”, and “I love you”, and “Please forgive me” can be scary but, all are humbling.

*Life is a ball of entangled emotions with strong cords and frayed ends.

The Road Not Taken —written by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves, no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

 

An Alien Abduction

 

It was 2 a.m.

My husband and I were sound asleep. So were the kids, and so were the dogs…and maybe the cats, but that is debatable.

Anyway, I heard a noise, a rumbling sound. I rolled over and sat up in bed. What was that? At this point, the dogs began barking like maniacs. Hmmm…..not good. All of a sudden the bedroom lit up in a white light. My first thought was that the mother ship had landed just outside our bedroom. (Don’t you love how that was my FIRST thought?) I waited for a split second to see if a light beam was fixing to attach to me and take me up to the ship. I shook my still sleeping husband. If this was going to be an alien abduction I was determined we were going to go together! I guess these are the thoughts that go through one’s mind when woken from a deep sleep and also from watching too many X-Files reruns. Just sayin’.

I, being the brave woman I am, told my husband to go investigate as I peered through the curtains. He went to the French doors that lead from our bedroom out onto the deck. All I could see from looking out of a dark bedroom into a bright white light was nothing. I could see absolutely nothing but light. Great. This was how it was going to end. I was wondering if I should throw on some clothes or if being abducted by aliens only required pajamas?

I heard my husband out there talking, but couldn’t make out everything that was said. Was he arguing with the commander? Letting him know that we were not good specimens? That this was all just a big mistake? I was growing a little bit anxious. Or a lot anxious. Whatever.

My husband walked back inside. He appeared normal and unharmed. Then he said, “It was an ambulance. I told them no one at our house called them. They got the wrong house or wrong road, or something. The ambulance turns those bright white lights on at night when they get to their destination so they can see what they are doing”. Oh. I guess that makes sense.

I might have had a heart attack. Or a panic attack. Or some kind of attack. Or something.

Then it occurred to me…Why didn’t I think to take a picture of this white light, assumed alien abduction? Man. I always miss the good stuff. Note to self, I need to be more prepared.

It didn’t take long for me to fall back asleep…well…mainly because I was still tired. It was the wee hours of the morning after all.

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I Am Passionate About What I Do

Those of you that have been following me for a long time, or know my story, know I started teaching in special education in 1990. Before that, I had been a special education major in college, I worked in camps and group homes for those individuals with developmental disabilities, I volunteered in a special education preschool, and also as a Special Olympics “hugger”. I grew up with an aunt with developmental disabilities, and have a grandson on the autism spectrum.

When I was younger, I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was around sixteen when I knew that I wanted to work with children that had special needs. I never waivered from that desire. Years have come and gone. I’ve worked with so many students, it would be difficult for me to count them all. I consult about special education and all that entails. I complete assessments for families that home school their children. I helped to start a parent support and networking group for parents to discuss special education issues. I talk a lot, but I try to listen even more.

I am passionate about what I do. That passion drives me to want the very best for all the children (and their families) that cross my path. I try to be a voice for those individuals who deserve to be heard. I stand with families.

I read. I research. I educate.

I want to make a real, positive difference in the lives of those I touch.

From my archives, here is some of my story. The beginning.  Then some more…and more…and more. This is the final segment. This isn’t actually the final segment because I am still working, and learning, and doing.

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Be Still

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The river of life can change in an instant. Sometimes the water flows slowly, calmly, and other times it can turn into a roiling wall of white water. The thing is, sometimes we know things will be turbulent and other times we are caught unaware. We get plunged under the water, only later finding our way to the surface sputtering and gasping for air. Can anyone else relate? My unintentional hiatus from blogging, over the last few months, is purely due to constantly trying to keep my head above the water.

Instead of enjoying the moments, I often find myself treading water. Being too busy can be draining. Swimming against the current can be exhausting, and yet I keep swimming. What I really need is rest. A calm oasis in the middle of life’s fast pace.

Quiet. Stillness. Peace. I want to picture myself on an inner tube in the middle of a “lazy river” of life. Not to be lazy, of course, but to slow down enough to enjoy the ride.

One of my favorite authors (Ann Voskamp) wrote, “Life is not an emergency”. So true. I need to remind myself of this.

Busyness doesn’t make me better…..it just makes me tired.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5