JOY

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This moment in time can only be experienced in childhood. Pure innocent joy is a rite of passage.

It won’t last.

As adullts, we try to find that sensation again. We look for it in the bottom of a bottle or the inside of a pill. We look for it in shopping, relationships,hobbies and careers. But, that fleeting moment called childhood, is the only time in our lives that we can experience innocent joy.

I watch my children and I know they are on the cusp of discovering the truth about life. That life is not always fair and the early bird does not always get the worm. Sometimes, it’s the cheater that gets the worm and the early bird has to look somewhere else. I know these days are coming. But, for now, joy is everywhere.

I let their joy wash over me. 

I close my eyes and remember these moments are fleeting. Life is change.

The river of your childhood will flow into the wide open ocean of the rest of your life.

morning sun and tire swing

 

Today is a new day. Find your tire swing.

glorious sunrise

Experience JOY

This Is How You Do It

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/local/

The paper floated innocently to the ground. I stopped to pick it up. It was a receipt.

The story it told was of a romantic dinner for two. They had both ordered Prime Rib. He had several rum drinks and she had a few glasses of Pinot Noir. For dessert, they shared a single Chocolate Cake. I pictured the two people laughing at their inside jokes and smiling warmly at each other across the table.

As the story of the receipt unfolded, my entire soul cringed.

My face felt hot. For a moment, I stopped breathing, thinking or even being alive.

You see, this was not just any receipt and the people were not strangers. The story it told was of my husband and some other woman having that romantic dinner.

Here was undeniable proof, in hard copy, of what my husband had been doing earlier that evening. While I was at home, eating hot dogs and mac and cheese with my 3 girls, washing dishes and orchestrating bedtime  – he was having a leisurely lovely dinner with some other woman. He had replaced me with another version of myself.

My mind played out the scene in the restaurant like a movie that couldn’t stop. 

I envisioned the two of them sitting at a table, smiling at each other. He decides to treat himself to Prime Rib, she orders the same. The waitress asks if they would like another drink while they wait. “Sure, why not?” they laughingly say. They have all night. The dinners are brought to the table and they order a couple more drinks. Dinner is yummy and they fill the evening with conversation – getting to know each other. The meal is over and they decide to prolong their nice evening by sharing a dessert. How romantic!

That is the part that hurt the most. They shared a dessert! One dessert – two forks. I had been with this man for 15 years and we NEVER shared a dessert.

My brain had a hard time with the thought of my husband cheating on me.

I told myself , maybe it wasn’t what it appeared to be. Did you get a good laugh at that one? Can you believe it? I actually tried to convince myself it wasn’t a date with another woman. Wow. I am still embarrassed about that admission.

I knew in the deepest part of my soul – the part only me and God can see – that my marriage and plans for the future – were over. I knew he didn’t love me anymore. He wanted a different life than the one we had created – together. He had changed his mind in the middle of everything.

My 3 grand daughters had come to live with us a few years earlier. He was totally on board with our new additions. He had never had children of his own and I thought he would embrace the chance to experience the joy of having children around.  I think that he thought he would love it too. But he didn’t. He did not embrace the happiness, joy, confusion, frustration and noise that come with having a house full of kids. A life so full that it feels like it will burst at the seams some days. And I love it.

You know what he told me when I confronted him about his extracurricular activities? If he would have known what it was like to have kids he never would have agreed to having them live with us. He just wanted to cancel the contract – like it was a business deal gone bad.

The day I found the receipt was a pivotal moment in my life.

My life was heading towards the East and there was a roadblock. I had to stop, turn around, and start heading West. I didn’t want to, at first. I was so angry that I was being forced to change my plans. And, it wasn’t just my plans, my 3 girls loved that man. He had always been in their lives. Now, they had another big change in their young lives.

I was angry and sad. 

I prayed a lot. I cried. I planned revenge. I considered begging him to love me again. I was so angry. I didn’t know what to think. Did ,I cause this? Was I at fault?

In the end, after I had spent many conversations with God, I knew what needed to be done. 

I knew my girls came first. They were little kids that already had dealt with big changes in their lives. I was determined to show them how to be resilient. I was determined to show them,  as women, you can make it.

Next, my life was important too. Not just as a caregiver, parent, daughter or wife. But, my intrinsic essence was created by God. My contribution to the world is just as important and necessary as anyone else.

The conclusion became clear. The life I had pictured with this particular man – was not going to be my reality. But, I would have a big, beautiful, happy life with my 3 girls.

It was a reminder that I needed to take care of my dreams. 

It was a wake-up call to my heart. Sometimes, we lose ourselves amidst our efforts to care for other people. That’s what I did. I lost sight of my dreams and goals.

It has been a year since I found the receipt. I am happier and hopeful. I turned my car around and found a better road to travel. And guess what? It turns out, this road is the one I should have been on.

I realize now that I had been a distracted driver on my life road. I was thinking about what my family wanted for me and what I thought society expected of me rather than keeping my eyes on my road.

Looking back, I can clearly see how I let events re-route my personal goals. We can not stop unexpected events from affecting our lives.  Sickness, divorce, natural disasters, addictions – all of these occur. You can’t stop it. But, you can start dealing with these events in the most positive light, as possible.

I had to proactively train my thoughts to view my life events as an opportunity to get back on track.

Every time, I start to feel sorry for myself, I stop and ask God to help me to be open to new experiences. I remind myself to open my eyes and look for all of the possibilities in life and not focus on the doors that have closed.

I am looking forward. I am reminding myself to focus on my road. 

This is how you do it.

I would love to hear about your pivotal moments. How did you cope?

 

 

 

Expectation

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/commit/

 

This baby bird has an instinctual expectation.

It is expecting the parent to keep it safe and bring food – regularly. This little baby doesn’t question its worthiness to be loved and nurtured. It is born with an expectation and this is exactly what keeps it alive.

Every kind of baby has that same face,  so full of innocent expectation. They enter into this world not capable of knowing the dangers that are lurking outside their door. Whether they are born in a nest, den, field or hospital – they all have one factor in common. All babies are born with naive expectation that everything will be OK. Why would they question the arrival of their existence into the Universe? Babies of every species demand attention. They demand their caregivers commit to their survival. After all, it wasn’t their procreating activities that brought themselves here.

They expect life to be fair.

One of the hardest scenes to witness in your child’s life is the day they realize life is not fair. Not the “Betty got the new toy and not me” kind of not fair but a realization that even though they did the right thing, they still got burned. The day your child realizes that the rest of the world does not offer the same kind of unconditional acceptance that you do. The day they understand they will have to change their perspective about expectations. How they view this event will affect their future perceptions of their value.

I have studied the subject of confidence and self-esteem for many years. I am curious about what elements need to be present for a person to achieve happiness. What personality factors determine a person’s self esteem and ability to choose a productive path in life?

I read about a study done a few years ago. The purpose of the study was to observe families in different economic conditions and determine how those conditions could affect parenting styles and ultimately the children’s well-being and future prospects for fulfillment.

As a single grandparent of 3 young girls, I am intensely aware of how economic conditions affect child rearing.

tire swing joy

There is only so much time in the day…

The study does not represent any group negatively. Researchers followed the families around and recorded conversations and situations. It was just unbiased observances.

What the study revealed was that how we interact with our children can, among other things, affect their expectation of what life has to offer. The parents that routinely structured activities to purposefully engage their children, created adults that felt confident in their contributions.

For example, in one situation a mother is driving her son to the doctor for a routine visit. As she drove her son, the mother talked about what to expect. She also asked her son if there was anything he wanted to ask the doctor. In fact, he did have a question about an unrelated rash. His mother advised the boy to ask the doctor about it. This gesture taught the son to value himself. It taught him to believe his expectations not only could be met but, in fact, should be met.  When the mother and son were in the office, the boy did ask questions. The doctor was impressed with the boys’ thoughtfulness and answered him properly. Lesson reinforced.

I thought about my childhood and driving with my mom. First of all, she would not have asked me if there was anything I wanted to ask the doctor. Second of all, she would have made clear that my job was to sit there quietly and do as your told. After all, the doctor knows best, right?

As I mentioned earlier, I have read many books about self-esteem and confidence. (I need some, so I read everything I can.) I am curious about how some people can be so confident in themselves and some of us question every decision we make with heart pounding anxiety.

One of the answers is  expectation. I am learning to approach my decisions and interactions with the expectation that I am doing the right thing.

I am learning to value my own opinion – just like that mother was teaching her son on the way to the doctor. I may not have had the benefit of learning this skill as a kid, but I can sure do it now!

I was created with every bit of promise as that little bird or the kid that was born into advantages I didn’t have.

We all should have an expectation that we have value. We need to believe we have something important to offer the Universe before others will.

Expect life to give you opportunities to fulfill your life. Expect to succeed. See yourself accomplishing your goals.

I would love to hear about your stories of inspiration.

What are your expectations?

 

 

Pollinators Week

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It is Pollinators Week! All gardeners large and small rejoice. The dirt under our fingernails and sun on our backs are testaments to our devotion to Mother Earth.

Keep planting!

monarch caterpillar

 

butterfly on clover

Center of the Universe

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Where is the center of the Universe?  Your focus is wherever you are.bug on leaf

A bug on a leaf, a spider on her web or momma bird on her nest…

grayncatbird

 

You focus your energy on the task at hand. 

No one else can sit on that nest like you can. The center of the Universe is  you.

Focus on your goals. 

These creatures in the photos don’t realize they are part of a vast Universe. They are completely focused on the task at hand. They will spend every moment of every day fulfilling their destiny. They will not give up.

The effort of each singular member helps ensure the success of  the total species and in turn, helps ensure the continued success of life.

Never lose focus of your goal. Some days, it may seem insignificant or just too hard.

But, every person is important and every contribution is essential.

Spin your web and catch your dreams.

 

Puncture the Sky

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/puncture/

The morning air was heavy. It pushed against me as I walked down the grassy path. Storms hovered on the edge of the Darby Plains. A dazzling lightning bolt pierced the blue-gray sky. The fragrance of a million different plants growing strong  filled the breeze. Crystal dewdrops clung to life on the leaves of the young corn. Soon, they would be sucked back into the very air that had given them life.

Birds and their chattering families filled the trees with life. Their collective cacophony of songs called to me.

The Sun punctured the clouds and rays of light shone down. I felt like I was walking in a painting.

I use the sounds and sights of early morning to clear my mind. I meditate on nature. I allow myself to have a moment without worry.

The other day, I had an epiphany. A revelation. 

I have been known to have a bit of anxiety. I worry, who doesn’t, right ? I wake up in the middle of the night, my brain screaming at me, ” you will probably fail… you know you will run out of money.. you won’t be able to provide for your family…you will be alone… what if you get sick… and on and on. I lay there awake, now I am adding lack of sleep to the endless list of things to worry about.  Now, I am going to have a headache, too.

I know I am not alone with these kinds of self-defeating thoughts. 

We all question ourselves at times. It is a necessary component of self discovery. But, when the self-doubt becomes paralyzing or over-exaggerated and interferes with happiness, it has to be controlled.

That’s when it hit me.

I did everything I could do yesterday and I will do whatever it takes tomorrow, to fulfill my purpose and take care of my family. I had to have faith. I had to puncture the worry with faith. Tonight, I need sleep. I must stay the course.

I have read tons of self-help books and articles. And I know this much – One characteristic of successful and happy people is they PERSEVERE.

In the face of adversity and doubt, successful people don’t lose sight of themselves. They never lose sight of their goals.  

Every person’s path is different. My path is not the same as yours. I have to walk out the door and face the morning on my path. You have your door and your path.

Our paths will cross, from time to time. When they do, let’s encourage and help each other. Let’s try to remember we are all trying to find our way.

Have faith, Stay on your path.

 

 

Independence – Little by Little

via Daily Prompt: Taper

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/taper/

 

This young Mourning Dove is experiencing life outside the nest for the first time. The nest is snuggled in the apple tree. I didn’t know it was there until the adult on nest duty noisily flew out when I got too close. The twin of this young bird is still waiting in the nest for its cue from the parents to try flying.

I love watching the Mourning Doves raise their young. The birds pair up and share family duties. From nest-building to raising their young, they help each other. The birds are larger than some of the small songbirds that build their nests in my yard, so they are easier to follow.

The Mourning Doves have beautiful coos and chirps to communicate with each other. The parents will stay close and slowly taper off their attention and care.

One day the young birds will fly away to start their new life. They will fulfill their destiny.

The birds don’t have to decide which school to attend, whom to marry, whether to have children or wonder what is their purpose. They spend today making this the best day ever. They will look for the most delicious food and the safest hiding place. The birds will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.

Maybe we could learn from nature. Let’s spend today making this the best day ever.

Nature’s Infinite Wisdom and Order

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Nature has a plan.

If we can just step back and allow the natural order of life to play out… oh but it is so hard! We humans have so many good ideas. We have abilities and powers that no other creature can realize. Sometimes, it gives us a sense of entitlement. Sometimes, we think we always know best. And because we have all this power – we want to use it.

All in the name of progress and free enterprise, right? 

I am an advocate of organic farming and cruelty-free options in consumer goods.

Did you know that rabbit’s Angora fur is ripped out of living, breathing and screaming rabbits? They are thrown back in their cages and 3 months later, after their fur has grown back, it is ripped out by the roots again. It is horrifying to think about. The Universe did not intend for humans to exploit and terrorize other creatures.

There is a natural order.

Humans have the intelligence and , I believe, the ethical responsibility to help the very planet that gives us life.

We can help maintain order.

 

 

Learning by Doing

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/volume/

The ducks were napping in the yard. Their long necks turned gracefully , keeping their bills nestled in downy feathers.

It wasn’t always like this.

This Spring, we decided to add 3 ducks to our home  – one duck for each human girl. I went to the Feed Store , where we purchased our chickens a year earlier, planning to “just look”. I walked back to the area where they keep the newly arrived chicks and ducklings. I peered into the tub marked “Ducks”. There they were, 3 remaining downy ducklings, huddled together . Just them against the world. One by one they had watched their tub mates disappear. They had watched as human hands appeared from nowhere and snatched them away. Listening to the frightened peeps of their friends getting more distant as they were carried through the store, must have been scary.  Where did their friends go? What would be their fate? All of their companions had vanished. The 3 Duck Musketeers were comforting each other.

I brought 3 ducklings home, that day. I just knew it was meant to be.

The ducklings were understandably nervous about the humans and their intentions. Up to this point, all of their interactions with humans had been unpleasant – why would this be any different?

Every day, I lovingly scooped them up from their sleeping area to place them in a safe fenced area outside. And every day, they would peep and run around, trying their best to avoid those human hands. They spent their days in a lovely ducky place. It had sun, shade, grass and just the right amount of water. They rested peacefully huddled together, in the grass.The ducklings were happy and content – until human hands swooped in and transferred them back to their nighttime place. Every day was the same routine. They never recovered from their fear of hands.

The ducklings grew fast. They seemed continuously ravenous. It wasn’t long before their fluffy down was replaced by sleek white feathers. They were so happy to find a container of water in their pen. They jumped in and right back out! But then, they were hooked! The ducks couldn’t resist splashing around and playing. They discovered joy.

The day came to let them experience freedom.

At first, they remained huddled together underneath the big forsythia bush beside the pen. They didn’t want to leave the safety of that spot. I walked around the yard, completing my chores. The girls ran and played and the chickens were elegant and sweet, as usual. If we got too close to their hiding spot, the ducks would grumble and complain. We didn’t push them. We talked soothingly as we fed them and slowly, they started to relax.

Some days, the ducks make huge leaps of independence.

One day they discovered the scratchy fragrant pine trees. They didn’t know what they would find there, but resistance was not an option. Another day, they found the big water tub on the far side of the yard. Now, it’s one of their favorite places to hang out.

The ducks keep a wary and watchful eye on the chickens. They realize the chickens have useful knowledge about the yard and the humans. The chickens have secret places  to find treats, like worms and seeds. The chickens know where all the water sources are located. And they know when it is feeding time!

It makes sense for the ducks to follow the travels of the chickens. So, when the chickens follow me around the yard while I am working, the ducks will also.

There was a time when the ducks would never have thought it was possible to leave the safety of the forsythia bush. 

Watching and learning from the chickens has helped the ducks imagine their own possible potential. The ducks realized there was a big exciting world, just waiting to be explored. The ducks are discovering their true purpose. They are happy.

First, the ducks had to take a leap of faith.

Or maybe in this case, a waddle of faith! The ducks had to stop hiding from new experiences. They had to try.

As the creature in charge, I knew the ducks had limitless potential for happiness. I knew they were capable of more than just hiding from life. But, the ducks could not know until they allowed their natural instincts to surface. The ducks had to trust. 

The ducks journey of happiness is a parallel journey to my own.

The ducks needed 2 things to succeed:

First, they had to believe in themselves.

Even though the world seemed so scary and they had no idea what to expect, they had to start with those first steps. If the ducks had remained hidden in the darkness of the forsythia bush, they would still be sad and afraid. They would still be looking out, wondering about all the possibilities, but never truly experiencing life. They had to try.

Once they stepped into the yard, they discovered everything they were meant to discover. They started to experience the endless possibilities the Universe had to offer.

I am also learning to believe in myself. I am stepping into the light and I don’t want to go back to darkness. There is a big fantastic world out there. I can not possibly imagine everything the Universe has to offer. But, I have to leave the safety of the familiar to discover my true potential.

The second factor needed for the ducks life affirming journey, was to find guidance.

For the ducks, this came in the form of the wise chickens. The chickens had already conquered the backyard. The chickens knew the humans brought food and provided safety. They knew where the gardens were and how to find yummy worms and tasty seeds. The ducks benefitted from the chickens experience. 

I also benefit from the prior experiences of others. I can seek out others who have conquered scary new experiences similar to mine. The best way to illuminate my journey is to utilize the light others provide. In the form of books, blogs and websites, I can seek out others that have succeeded.

The Universe already knows  my true potential. The Universe knows everything I can accomplish. Sometimes, it can be difficult for me to believe in myself.

It can be hard to take that leap of faith, just like it was for my ducks. But, once they stepped into the light and started moving – they never looked back. Now, they take naps right in the middle of the yard!

I have decided to be like those ducks. I am going to leave the safety of the bushes and experience everything life has to offer. I want to find out what the Universe already knows about me.

Come with me.

I would love to hear about the tactics you have used to experience your dreams and full potential.

 

 

 

 

Friend. Confessions of a Poultry Parent

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/friend/

I acquired 6 chickens last spring. My girls and I had talked about it for awhile, and last year was the right time.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I was excited about having fresh eggs and organic pest control (in the form of foraging chickens).  I didn’t know what the chickens themselves would be like.

When we brought them home, they were so cute and fluffy. We fell in love with them instantly. Chickens grow fast, so in no time at all, their fluff was replaced with feathers. They began making clucking sounds and personalities developed. Within 4-5 months, they were laying eggs. I assumed they would lay their eggs in their hen hotel, inside their nest boxes I built. But, they had their own ideas! We found eggs in the flowerbeds and on the workbench.  We let the girls do their own thing.

The chickens love it when I work in my gardens. They know what the shovel, hoe and wheelbarrow mean. The girls come running (yes, chickens run) when I walk towards the gardens. They hungrily scratch around for worms, bugs and other seemingly invisible morsels.

It didn’t take long for individual personalities to emerge. Like any group of friends, each individual has their place in the group. There is the bossy, noisy and quiet personality.

One of the most surprising facts I learned about our girls is, they talk! Now, they don’t say “How you doin’? ”  or anything like that. But, they have a whole range of chirps, growls, trills, clucks and songs that have subtle meanings. They talk to each other and they talk to us. Just like we learn to interpret our dogs’ language, we have learned to interpret the chickens language, as well.

I was born a dog lover but I have a whole new appreciation for my chickens. Our chickens are pets with benefits. They will never be Sunday dinner but they will eat Sunday dinner with us. I take my lunch outside and sit on the grass. The chickens come running over to see what I have. I look around. My dogs are sitting on one side of me and the chickens are milling around me on the other side.

Friends. Life is good.