I’ve been kind of AWOL lately haven’t I? Sorry about that. Summer is just like that I guess. We’re a few days away from the Summer Solstice and it just seems like time is passing so fast and I’m trying to get the most out of it. We’ve had some what is to me the perfect mid-summer weather and to others seems like summer hasn’t really arrived yet. I’m loving the mid-70 degrees temperatures, low humidity, and just enough rain so I don’t have to water the gardens everyday. Plus the perfect sleeping weather! God Bless. I’ve been busy with friends and family, work and play. Just enough to keep life interesting and productive but not too much to feel stressed or over burdened. I’m just trying to take it all in and live it and love it. It’s the old KISS theory of life. Not the KISS Nation, “Beth I hear you calling” KISS but the Keep It Simple Stupid philosophy. I find I’m happier the simpler I keep things.
I do have one experience I wanted to share because it really touched me and made all that I’ve been through up to this point seem worth it. Last month I received a message via Facebook from a “girl” I grew up with and occasionally babysat for back home. As has happened over and over again, the internet is a magical place that brings people into or back into my life that I need and am so thankful for finding. (*I have her permission to share this exchange here on my blog.)
The message I received from this friend was, “Hello fabulous one… seriously I need some of what you are having.. you seem so happy and joyful all the time. What’s your secret? I know that sounds like a random question and I am stuck in the quagmire that is little kids who are crazy and require lots of stamina and constant attention (well almost constant anyway) but if you have wisdom you wish to impart, I’m open.”
Wow. Are you kidding me? Has all this stuff really been working? I know I feel different, but to have someone randomly notice and reach out was amazing. It also made me laugh out loud because if you’ve been around me and known me for the past however many years (46?) you’d find the above ridiculous. Me happy? Joyful? Fabulous? But after I got over my initial shock I realized she was right, I am happy and joyful and for once in my life it isn’t an act. It’s real and it’s fabulous.
This was my response to her: “That is so sweet! I don’t know if I’d say I’m happy all the time but I do admit that I am much happier now than I used to be.
First off, I am very fortunate, I’m living a very comfortable life right now and am at a time where things are really good. My girls are teens/young adults and pretty much self sufficient most of the time. When I was where you are now it was very much a different story! My husband travels a lot for his job and I spent much of the last 20+ years single parenting during the week and when he was home he was busy working around the house and had a hard time reconnecting with the girls. We muddled through but it was very hard much of the time. I also built up a lot of resentment during those years that only recently have worked out and through.
My secrets if you’d call them that are simple I think. First of all, stay true to you and your values and what’s important to you and your family. Ignore everyone else’s bullshit. Easier said than done! We get so much pressure from other Mom’s, media, church, family, friends, etc. to think and act certain ways and want different things. Try not to let it get to you and stay true to yourself. You know what is best for you and for your family. Period.
It’s okay to let relationships that aren’t working go. I had to make some changes in who I hung around with and who I listened to in order to believe in myself again. Negative people will bring you down. Judgmental people just want to feel better about themselves and their decisions. If you have someone in your life who is making you doubt yourself and feel shitty it’s because they doubt themselves and probably feel shitty inside. You don’t have time and energy to devote to someone else’s problems.
One thing that has made a HUGE difference in my life recently is that I now take care of myself physically and spiritually. For me it has meant getting outside as many days a week as I can and taking a long walk. I also try to do yoga a few times a week. I’ve also cleaned up my diet a lot recently. I cut out all soda and drink only water, almond milk, tea or homemade juice (and alcohol moderately). I used to be a total diet Pepsi addict and I knew it wasn’t doing me any good but until I cut it out completely I had no idea how negatively it was affecting me. I’ve also cut out fast food (so hard when you have young kids!) and as much processed food as I can. I’d rather eat a piece of homemade pie or a slice of fresh bread with real butter than a diet pop and a lean cuisine and I feel so much better with real food. I don’t count calories or deprive myself of things, I just listen to my body and feed it whole, healthy stuff. I’m also a big proponent of juicing but I know it isn’t or everybody but it works for me. When I’m drinking fresh homemade vegetable juices, it’s like I’m on speed! LOL
Probably the two biggest (and hardest) lessons I learned are;
1) Ask for help when you need it. It doesn’t mean you are weak or incapable, just that you know your limits. Going along with this is admit when you don’t know how to do something. I’ve learned so much since I started asking and stopped pretending I knew it all and could do it all.
2) Live in gratitude and say thank you. I was having a really hard time in my marriage for a while and when I started looking for things to be grateful for in my husband’s actions on a daily basis, things changed dramatically and we are happier than we’ve ever been. It’s a great lesson to teach by example to your children at a young age too. My teenager thanks me for picking her up from school or taking her shopping or making her favorite meal!
I’m on the verge of this becoming either a lecture or the first chapter to a book so I’ll stop now. But if I can help in any way or just be a sounding board let me know. I remember how tough those years are when you have two little ones needing so much from you all the time. Hang in there, it does get better! But enjoy it while it lasts because you will look back someday and wonder where it all went.”
Our conversation continued over the next few days and we shared more of our life experiences (much of it too personal to share here) and continued to connect. The story she told me that almost brought me to my knees was this:
“The most impactful thing you said, and honestly all of your words had an impact, was that you live with gratitude and thanks. After I read this the other day, no lie, my oldest daughter (who has a huge, strong personality like I do) was being disrespectful to me with her words and I decided to try something new and thank her for her words and feelings in a calm, truly genuine way. They weren’t kind words at all but they were her words and I thanked her for sharing her feelings with me. Well, she was so surprised at my reaction or actually my lack of reaction, that she stopped and totally changed her tune. I have been trying this over and over the last few days and it is absolutely amazing how much things have changed. My husband is still skeptical but he’ll come around. I am trying to let this attitude spill over in all aspects of my life. It’s so amazing how just looking at something with different eyes can change the picture totally!”
Does that not give you goosebumps? It made me cry.
I walked around in a bit of a daze for a few days because I couldn’t believe that *I* had made a positive impact in someone’s life. I couldn’t fathom it. I tried not to let it go to my head. I wanted to write a post about it the very next day. But I decided I needed to sit on it for a while. I needed to keep it to myself and own it on a personal level. I didn’t want to “humble brag”. But then I thought about it some more and realized that what we shared and the advice I gave her was damn good advice and it was hard won experience that taught it to me. So if by sharing it with her I helped her maybe sharing it with a wider audience could help someone else. So there you have it.
This experience wasn’t a one way street either. I learned a valuable lesson too. I learned the value of sharing oneself openly and honestly and with a heart and mind full of love. I didn’t hold back and all that I put of myself out there was returned to me many times over. I’m really loving the “hippy-dippy-zen-bullshit” lifestyle. It suits me.