Tulips for Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air, so go ahead and send yourself a Valentine. Now, I don’t mean go out and buy red construction paper, doilies and stamps. But if you do splurge, and decide to send yourself flowers, send your favorite kind, roses or not. For me, tulips will do the trick, especially ice cream tulips. Can it be any better than flowers that look pretty enough to eat? Really though, I want you to take a moment, a love YOU moment, and do this Valentine’s Day exercise with me.

Are you loveable? I don’t mean do you feel loved. I want to know if you see yourself as lovable. When I was young, a friend told me that I was too talkative, too bubbly. Now as far as I knew, I had only been told this by a few clearly irrational teachers. Could this trait possibly make me unlovable? I pondered this new-found personality ‘weakness’, but only briefly. I recalled conversations, one on one and in groups lining the school hallways, and certainly there were worse Chatty Cathy’s than I. So, I decided this was my friend’s problem, not mine. After all, this is how I had been for as long as I could remember, and I had plenty of friends who enjoyed my company. When you feel unlovable, it is usually because someone along your life’s journey has made you feel that way and you believed it. Maybe you still do. Or, and this is a strong possibility, you might be your own worst enemy. When we focus on deficiencies in ourselves, they often become  self-fulfilling prophecies. Check your attitude. Do you want to be more lovable? My advice is to STOP and GO. Stop dodging others. Go be friendly. Stop avoiding eye contact. Go make people feel warm and welcome. Stop and try to see yourself as others see you. Then, go fix the things you don’t like. Finally and most importantly, stop and know that you are uniquely and wonderfully made. You are special. Now go love someone today because, it is when we love others that we feel the most lovable.

Do you create love? Be grateful for where you are right now. When you embrace a feeling of gratitude, you open yourself up to creating your own love. You begin to delight in the moment and see the beauty in simple pleasures such as sunsets and smiles, birds and babies, friends and flowers. Gratitude is not often in the forefront of our minds, but is usually aroused when we encounter a pleasant outcome to a stressful situation. At my doctor’s office recently, I waited among ten or so other women in fashionable blue gowns for my annual mammogram. With big red stars on my chart, and not because I am an”A” patient but, because I am an “Alert”, or an  “Alarm” to the mammography technician based on my family history. You see, I get to remain in my lovely flowing gown for about four hours, enduring steps A through Z, while others are on the abbreviated agenda. This year I passed. Once again, I am grateful. Don’t let overcoming life’s biggest obstacles be the only time you feel thankful.

Do you give love? When we give love, we create more love in us. And when love is expressed, it is more readily received. How do you show your love for family and friends? Do you express it only when you feel like it or do you make an effort to be consistent with your love acts and words? My children have known since the first time I held them in my arms that they are loved. Rocking them as infants, I sang about my love for them. As children and teenagers, I told them I loved them before they started each day, and all along I expressed my love for them through affection and kind deeds. I have no regrets of unexpressed love in words or actions. Don’t let fear or awkwardness keep you from expressing your love for others. Tell them. Share sweet, kind words and make their hearts happy. Hug them and help them. Your acts will refresh them and cheer them. When we cultivate love for others in these ways, we are greatly enriched.

So, how well did you fare in our Valentine’s Day quiz? Are you as loveable as you can be? Do you make time to create love? Do you give love openly and freely? We can all be better at love, so please feel free to share your comments and suggestions. Until then, I plan to sit and enjoy a box of chocolates beside my vase of tulips. Happy Valentine’s Day my friends!

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I’ll Have Some Wine With My Cotton Candy

My highly logical, humbly beautiful, 23-year-old daughter randomly shouted out during our mother daughter outing, “Mom, you’re having too much fun for a 50 something year old woman!”. I laughed the shared holiday coffee drink right out of my mouth. Partly because of how eloquently she brushed over which birthday I had just celebrated but, mostly because I remember thinking the same thing about my own parents. We baby boomer children didn’t shout out seemingly selfish, personal frustrations at one’s parents. No, unlike the open, honest millennial generation, we remained respectful to a fault. We liked being safely tight closed doors.

Keep in mind my daughter is both logical and millennial, and this time she is also right. I AM having fun. Almost carnival type fun, similar to the same rush you get from eating cotton candy at the top of a Ferris wheel. I’m experiencing child-like joy and, I’m more mellow too, aging gracefully but not willingly, like a fine wine. How can I feel so young? Are my math skills so bad that I’ve been adding wrong all these years? When did life become so contenting and liberating, and why did it take so long? As I wiped the drips of peppermint mocha from my lips and chin, I turned my body to sit as squarely as possible in the worn, slightly lopsided passenger seat of her handed down SUV. I looked at my lovely, puzzled faced driver and said, “My dear daughter, this is my in between time”. “What?”, she asked. “So, is THIS the real you or was THAT the real you?”. “Both!”, I exclaimed.

I continued explaining, sipping and smiling, while she remained perplexed but focused on the road. She might be logical and you can’t argue with logic, but I am wiser so I continued. “Parenting is a priority that evolves and adapts to the seasons of life. This is my in between season, my intermission. I am the proud mom of capable, self functioning adult children. I’m enjoying our friendship now. During the main event, when you were small children, I rehearsed with you a lot, even when I was tired, or when I knew you weren’t listening. I nurtured and guided you when I didn’t feel like it or, when you were a teenage know-it-all rolling your eyes at me. I persevered even when I was sure you didn’t care. I gave you opportunities, not successes. I gave you opportunities, not failures. Both build character. Both created the strong, yet vulnerable woman you are today. Both gave you solid roots and soaring wings. So hooray for us!  We did this together!”.

I looked at the road ahead, then at her. She remained focused, hands clenching the steering wheel, staring ahead. I explained further. “This really is my intermission. That pause in life between being an active, day-to-day delighting, stressing mom, and my final season of grand parenthood. I’m sure the word grand precedes the word parent for good reason. I look forward to expectations and agendas again, but ones with less stress. A calmer time with less multitasking and more joy. Right now though, dear daughter, in my in between time, I am an adventurous, capable, satisfied woman, allowing life’s moments to seize me. I am happy.” Still seeming curious but satisfied, she asked one final question as we pulled into the crowded shopping mall parking lot. “But, how? How do you feel so happy and content at your age?” I replied, “It’s because of you sweetheart, because of me, because of you and me. We did this together. I took parenting seriously, and although I wondered at times, I realize you took ME seriously. You were my willing student and I was your teacher without an instruction book. I was your mother. Some things just work. They work mostly because of love, because you want them to so badly it hurts, because you know it matters more than anything else you will ever do.” We parked and looked honestly into each others eyes. “Now carry on Punkin”, I said. “Enjoy this season of your life with gratitude and pride. Go relish the moments, living for today, knowing your future babies will change both our seasons again, and that will be good too.”

Smiling, we walked side by side between the large cold columns wrapped warmly with green garland and red ribbon. It was time to finish our holiday shopping. It was our moment, our mother daughter time. As the big glass door closed automatically behind us and we felt warm and cozy inside, I thought about my closing act. My future time to be grand. I felt a rush of excitement and smiled again. For now though, I’m enjoying cotton candy and a glass of wine during intermission.

February 1st New Year’s Resolutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it, we are all creatures of habit. But, it’s the old bad habits we resolve to break at the end of each year and replace with new, good practices. It sounds like a piece of cake, just as easy as the one we have to give up in our quest for healthier eating. Although it’s not simple at all, millions of people make these vows every year. They are honest but often aimless in their pursuit of betterment.

Habits are hard. They are hard to break and they are hard to form. They require mindfulness before action. We need to understand what we’re thinking before we actually perform the habit, good or bad. It is often easier to replace one behavior with another rather than suddenly stopping an existing habit. Then, regular repetition of a new behavior can eventually lead to an automatic response, producing a good habit. Experts believe it takes anywhere from twenty-one to hundreds of days to form a habit, depending on the complexity of the behavior. This transformation requires practice and patience.

As for me, I begin my new routines on February 1st and I work at them for eleven months. That’s right, I’m a cheater. Now, you might say, “She’s just a procrastinator!”, or “That’s not playing by the rules”, or “She must not be very serious about her resolutions”. Quite the contrary. I just hate failure. I believe it’s often the unrealistic, extra lofty goals in life that can lead to unnecessary disappointment. So, I spend the month of January preparing, actually practicing in my mind how I will give up my bad habits and begin new, good ones. I don’t attempt this during the month of December while I’m impersonating a possessed crazy woman who is spending too much, eating too much and traveling too much. No, I like January. I like this quiet, aftermath month for self-reflection and planning, hopefully leading to greater accomplishment. I like it for the time it gives me to pause, to engage in introspection and then, produce clarity. I just like success.

So, whether you pick January 1st, February 1st or some other date in between, don’t just set goals, set behaviors.

Believe. Behave. Become.

Happy New Year my friends!