Fill Up For the Weekend

I’ve missed writing.  My plan to take the summer off extended into fall.  While I’ve thought about blogging again, I couldn’t take the first step.  Insecurity and fear had taken over where before there was joy and lightheartedness.

Until I read this post by Laurie Wallin.  Instantly I knew this would be a good piece to share and break my own silence.  As I read, it seemed Laurie was talking directly to me.  How many times have I thought the same things?  How often has the same thing paralyzed me?  I so appreciate Laurie expressing this human truth!  I had to share with you!

Her writing:

  • Energized me.
  • Reminded me of things which are important to me, yet I have been putting them off for myself.
  • Gave me a better perspective.

I wonder what it will do for you…?

Enjoy and have a weekend For Getting FULL of Gratitude!

Warmly,

Michelle

Two Words That Empty Us {How To Fill Back Up}

By Laurie Wallin
Sunshine poured through the window, warm mug of coffee in hand. The journal lay open, pen beside it. And I thought to myself what if I say it wrong? what if it offends? what if I can’t even bring myself to write the words? What if… Two words that empty us. Two words that isolate […]
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Another Good Song! I can’t believe it.

As I mindlessly drove home from work today, I started to wonder what to post about next.  Slowing to a stop for the traffic light, the topic literally drove up next top me.  A woman in a black convertible, top down, sun shining on her face, music blaring, was jamming to a good song!  I did a double take and smiled.

No way!  She is in a similar space I was last week!  Good for her!  As she bounced and swayed in her seat (you know the typical dancing we all do while driving!) my smile grew bigger and bigger.

I admired her.

Even though she was stopped, she did not miss a beat to her song.  She didn’t seem to notice the top down and anyone nearby could hear or see her grooving.  I thought, “You go, girl!  More power to you!  Enjoy yourself on this day!” The light turned green, she sped off and I smiled all the way home.

How cool is it to witness another person’s joy?  How happy can we find ourselves feeling after watching someone else have a good experience?   Other people’s good feelings can spread to us.

Have you ever found yourself excited watching a young child (not necessarily your own) open a present?  Or coming across a wedding ceremony in a public park and stopping to watch the bride and groom gaze at each other?  Have you ever caught people reunited at the airport and sensed how hard they are hugging one another?  Those are just a few examples you may have witnessed of someone else’s good feelings.

Good feelings can be contagious.  We don’t always need the goodness to happen directly to ourselves.  We can feed off the good fortune that comes to others.  Today I felt grateful witnessing someone else simply having a good time listening to a song they liked.  She was happy.  Seeing that, made me feel happy for her.

Questions to Ponder for Getting FULL of Gratitude:

Who did you last observe experiencing pure joy?

What were they doing?

How did watching this make you feel?

Keep on the lookout!  Whose happiness are you going to witness next?

Wishing you a week full of good observations!

Gratefully,

Michelle

A Good Song

Hi!

It has been a month since I last posted and I’ve missed you!

I let myself get sucked into the newness of my job. Bogged myself down with daily worry, stress and anxiety.  Yuck.  Those are all feelings I’ve been working to avoid, especially when it comes to this blog.  Yet sometimes we need negative aspects to sneak up on us, overtake our thoughts and actions in order for us to re-focus on the positive things.

Last week was the first week of the summer school session and every day I stressed over what to teach my adult students.  How could I make it interesting?  What could I put in front of them to make solid connections to content?  How could I make information stick in their minds?  By the end of the week the answers came flooding to me: “I don’t know!”  “What works for one will not necessarily work for another!”  “I have no idea; but keep trying something!”

I ended the week drained, grumpy and frustrated.

Driving by myself on Saturday, a good song came on the radio.  A song from my younger years when I used to dance just for fun.  A song with a solid beat and easy to sing chorus.  And you know what I did, don’t you?  That’s right!  I blasted the volume as loud as I could stand it, sang and danced my heart out (while driving safely, of course)!  For a bit, I was oblivious to any cars around me.  It was pure joy and goofiness.  Then self-consciousness crept back and I glanced at other drivers to see if they “caught” me enjoying my song.  I was ready with a smile and laugh at myself if shock registered on their faces.  Minivan Mommies are not supposed to rock out, right?  No one seemed to notice so I went back to my rockin’ !

Those few minutes blew away stress and worry.  Freedom and joy returned.  A sense that things would be all right settled back around me.  All from one good song.  Simple.  Enjoyable.  A reminder to keep things in perspective.  The little details will take care of themselves.

It is amazing the power a song can have on our lives.  This time, the song was just for fun.  Lighthearted goodness poured back into my being.

Thanks, I needed that!

Do you?

Questions to Ponder For Getting FULL of Gratitude:

When was the last time you enjoyed music?

When was the last time you danced around home just for fun?

Why not do it again, tonight?

May you have a lighter, more enjoyable week!

Gratefully,

Michelle

Shout From the Roof Top…!

…that is what I feel like doing.  Shouting out with pure joy!  Total amazement!  A heart FULL of Gratitude!

Why, you ask?  Well, let me tell you!

Bear with me as I need to share three seemingly individual events which end up linking together and producing my joy.

For most of 2014 I was searching for my next job.  Not sure what I wanted to do, or how to work it into my “mom” schedule, I kept wondering what I was supposed to “do” with my life.  Six years prior to this, I stopped working full-time as a corporate trainer and dove into full-time motherhood.  While I realized how lucky we were financially that I could make this choice, I was shocked how much more difficult full-time motherhood was than my office job!  Most of the daily tasks were not as hard but the endlessness of this-and-that always needing to get done was exhausting.  (Many of you reading this know exactly what I mean!)   While I believe motherhood is one of the most critical jobs women can do, an internal nagging would not leave me alone .  What did I want to “do” with my life?  How could I set a better example for my children?  Do I need to work outside of the home to feel fulfilled?  Was I already “doing” enough?  Did I just need to relax and accept this is where I am supposed to pour my energy?  These questions kept coming up and I could not find answers.   Eventually I found part-time work that gave me an outlet for some of my focus and energy.  As I grew more efficient at this job, the demand for my time also grew.  As the hours started causing more stress for my entire family, we re-evaluated and decided the “extra” pay was not sufficient to suffer through the stress.  I quit.

But the questions didn’t go away.  I kept searching for meaning.  My husband, while supportive of my personal exploration, was also frustrated.  He tried to balance his patience with exasperation to just “do” something, and bring in some money.  I understood where he was coming from yet we were fortunate surviving on his income.  Finding deeper meaning and purpose was just as important to me as having more money was important to him.  We had many discussions on the topic and at some point I mentally chalked up our differences as a typical male vs. female issue.

Then, in January 2015, while catching up with a girlfriend after the holidays, I was whining about this very subject.  I confided I had even been praying to God, asking, “What do you want me to do?”  Afraid I had already missed His signs, I joked to my friend, “He is going to have to hit me over the head so I actually get His message!”

At that very moment, I received a text message about a part-time teaching job I had applied for over six months ago.  It was working with adults who wanted to earn their high school diploma.  A hiring freeze was put into place just after I applied.  Now that was being lifted and interviews were being scheduled. My clever girlfriend pointed out, “You just got hit over the head with His message.”  I eagerly completed the paperwork process, had an interview and was discouraged to learn though I got the job, it could take 6-8 weeks to process everything in the system.  Talk about air gushing out of my balloon!  I got the job!  Yay!  But I don’t know when I start.  Oh.  The clock started ticking toward the end of February.  My first day of work ended up being in the middle of April.

Now for the second event, I need to back up even farther.  I purposely chose the word “confided”above because the fact that I would be praying for guidance and then share that openly with another person is new for me.  Until 5 years ago, I was not very religious.  This is an additional aspect of my life I have been questioning as long as I can remember!  There is a lot I hope to share about this in future posts, but for now, the background is basically: religion has been a source of confusion for me.  After my parents divorced, my father grew in his Judaic faith.  My mother chose to go back to her Protestant roots.  All I knew as a little girl was I was uncomfortable in either setting.  I ended up marrying a Catholic, agreeing to raise my children in the faith and figured I’d have my personal issues worked out by the time kids came along.  Life doesn’t go as smoothly as we plan, does it?  My nagging internal voice had been piping up about religion again when a new friend, a mom of a fellow kindergartener to my youngest son, invited me to join a women’s Bible study.  I took a deep breath and told myself it was time to learn.  I’d love to say since that moment my life has been full of clear meaning and peace.  Of course not!  Moments of clarity and peace have come but so have many more questions and wondering.

The third event takes us back to finances.  I kept hearing a radio advertisement for refinancing home mortgages.  Since we had just done that a year ago, I didn’t think it was necessary to do it again so soon.  So why did my nagging voice keep speaking up whenever I heard that ad?  After months of brushing it off, one morning in the middle of April, I called.  By the end of the following day, we were in the process of re-financing again and would knock off $200 per month on our payments.  I could not believe it!  That seemed too good to be true!   During the big paperwork process, we hit a new snag where we had to provide extra documentation which was not needed the first time.  We got it all sorted out and the final signing of documents happened two weeks later than planned.

Which brings us to last week.  On May 8th my husband and I signed for our new mortgage.  We are tickled with the new monthly savings.  The very next day, my first paycheck was deposited.  I called my husband to share the good news (since he had been more focused on the money than I!).  When I told him the amount of my new paycheck, all he could say was, “God really loves us.  He really, really loves us.”  Turns out my paycheck matched a request my husband had given me long ago in frustration.  As he pushed me to find a job, when I was focused on finding meaning, I asked how much $ would make him happy?  His answer was, “The mortgage payment.  If you could cover that, we could stash a bit into savings, I’d be so happy.”  My new paycheck amount is just $40 over our new mortgage payment!  Can you believe that?  How can those two amount match up so closely?  Who could orchestrate such a thing?

God!  God can do that.  He can make these totally seemingly random events in my life come together and make sense.

In fact, I think He made sure they happened at the same time in order to hit me over the head again with His message!  He knows I need it delivered that way!

I’ve been told many times that God loves me.  God wants good things for me.  For years those were just words.  Now, as my new job starts to payoff financially (hubby is happy) as well as purposely (I’m happy), I actually feel God’s love for me.  And it feels good!  So much so, I want to shout from the roof top!  “God is good!  God does love us all!” (I even think He loves me so much, He saw to it that I have the extra $40 dollars per paycheck to “splurge” here and there on myself! Or He knows another area where we will need that money is going to pop up!)

I had heard other people share stories how they believed God touched them.  Now it is happening to me.  Me!  The little girl who was so uncomfortable with religion.  Crazy.  I am growing more and more comfortable sharing my belief in an amazing God.

This weeks For Getting FULL of Gratitude questions:

Remember a time when individual events in your life seemed to come together?

When was the last time it just seemed like “everything worked out perfectly?”

What, or who, do you believe made this possible?

With a heart FULL of Gratitude,

Michelle

Happy Mother’s Day

We can’t forget to be grateful today, of all days!

 It is a day we can call out, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!”

Our relationship with our mom is one of the most important relationships in our life.

She is often the first person we bond with and connect.  This relationship, good or bad, can follow, shape and influence every single day of our life. Mom, she carries that much weight and is that important.

I believe other women can serve as mother-figures too.  Thinking about some of the amazing women who have graced my life, loved, supported and encouraged me, they cover a wide spectrum.  From coaches in high school, to professors in college, a manager at my first “corporate” job, to clients in later jobs, moms of my children’s friends, neighbors on our street, ladies I see at church, all of these women have mothered me in one way or another.

Without them, I would not be the woman I am today.  Or the mother I’ve grown into myself.

Today I wish all of them, and every mom out there, a peaceful Mother’s Day.

I urge you, no matter what the current state of your relationship, no matter what has transpired over the years between the two of you, today of all days, take a moment, pause and give thanks to the woman who gave you life.  Even if she can’t express it in a way you understand, she loves you.  And wants your love in return.

Together, you and she can grow FULL of Gratitude.

“Thanks, Mom!”

Alive!

My birthday was a few days ago & I can’t believe all the people who wished me “Happy Birthday!” (Thank you so much!)  It was a great day & a reminder to be grateful for all I have in my life. We often overlook the simplest pleasures by getting caught up with every day life.

Slowing down has become more and more difficult.

There are so many “advances” which make our lives easier. Though it is easier to keep in touch, we still have to choose how we spend our time. Who hasn’t gotten sucked into Facebook for hours at least once? Who hasn’t lost track of time “researching” something on Pinterest? Or who doesn’t prefer online shopping to the mall but still can spend as much time clicking away to find good deals? Wi-fi can be great to share pictures of your fabulous vacation but it also means the office can reach you if they need to. Regardless of these options, I realized on my birthday I am grateful for life.

Thank goodness I am ALIVE!  What a gift from God, or whatever Higher Power you believe in.

Life is a gift.

Things can change so much in one year.  Shoot, things can change so much in one day!

We all have good days and bad days. We all have times when we feel confident, strong and full of energy to do things. Then there are the times when we feel unsure, very small and unable to get anything done. Some days we tackle huge projects and make a lot of progress. Other days we can’t seem to focus or complete the smallest of tasks.

My “favorite” days are the ones where a bit of all those feelings come into play! I can start out charged up, positive and sure what I have to get done. Before I realize it, I’m flustered, overwhelmed and dashing from one thing to the next without any plan or thought. Sometimes it can switch back again and there is renewed purpose and a hopeful outlook.

We all experience both types of days.

Thank goodness each morning we start with a fresh chance. We get another chance to try again. Waking up, anything can happen. It can go either way. The best part is we are ALIVE to experience it. (Trust me, I know on those bad days, it doesn’t feel lucky to experience them at the time! But we do learn and gain from them.)

Birthdays are a time when we reflect. On mine, I was happy to be alive. It was easy for me to feel FULL of Gratitude since it was my birthday. Now is the challenging part. How can I/we be sure to remember our gratitude even when it isn’t our birthday or any special day for that matter?

Questions For Getting FULL of Gratitude…

How can I find gratitude in every day?
What small thing can I stop and be grateful for?
Who might really be touched to hear how much they mean to me?

Take a few moments and think about your answers to these questions.

I have found that the first thought which pops into my head is usually the one I feel most strongly. Don’t pressure yourself to think of “a really good one.” Trust your gut! Go with that first thought. Spend a few more moments expanding it more. Is there an action you want to take now that you have put some thought into it? Or is it enough of a reminder to just think about it for a few moments? You know what is right for you.

Warmly,
Michelle

Day 4 & 5 combined: Write about loss. (First in a three-post series to follow at later dates). You find a random letter. (Be brief).



Beth,
I love YOU.  You mean everything to me.  Part of me understands why you feel we need to end.  Part of me can’t imagine life without you.  No matter what, I love you.  And always will.  You are my first True Love.  I wanted you to be my last, forever in my life.  You will always have a special place in my heart.  
Yours always,
Steven

I stared at the letter a few more moments.  Memories of my own First Love flashed in my mind.  Wait.  Why today did this letter cross my path? Over twenty years ago I love my First Love on this very day.

Christopher.  He was my First Love. Two weeks before our one year anniversary he died in a car crash.  Deep down I knew we were about to break up and that was hard to admit since he died.  Our bickering was  too much.  But I loved him.  Still do.

First Loves.  There is nothing like that first time you fall head over heels.  First Loves are full of innocence, wonder, laughter and intensity.  Everything shared is brand new.  Everything seems so meaningful.

It was with Christopher . He was the perfect First Love for me.  Our combined innocence made everything we did all the more exciting.  There was lots of laughter with him.  We had fun together.  It was sweet.

My husband accepts part of my heart belongs to Christopher.  I made sure of that before we married.  Thank goodness he understands.

Married Love.  Totally different that First Love.  Every day ups and downs.  More reality than specialty.  More knowledge than innocence.  We grow up.  We understand or accept rather than try and make everything perfect.  Special times are different in Married Love than First Love.

I’m lucky to have both.