Sunday, July 23, 2017

Surprise Me!

Who doesn’t love a good surprise?  I know I do, and being one of those super spontaneous people, I think it’s in my blood.  Having the event-planning gene, and having the giving gene, I am also always the one giving the surprise.  There is nothing more gratifying than catching someone off guard, when they least expect it, and showing them how much they are loved, or surprising them with news or information that changes their life in a meaningful way.  

Did you know that the art of surprise is actually a key to living a positive life?  It is scientifically proven that giving a surprise or receiving a surprise has health benefits on many levels!

There are a lot of bad surprise in life -- we read the news every day and it's hard to ignore.  Those aren't the kind I'm talking about -- I'm talking about the things that knock you off your axis in a GOOD way....the things that change your path and open your eyes...the things that make you say WOW!

As a mother, I’ve spent the last twenty years planning everyone’s life down to the minute.  Nothing was left to chance.  I planned family and holiday gathering;  matching school outfits; at least ten million meals; driving routes to endless activities; and play dates and doctors’ appointments. I have planned every vacation we have ever taken down to the minute.  I am fearful that I’m losing my spontaneity.  I used to be the fun girl drove all night to go to a concert; or lied to her parents so she could rent a house at the beach for a weekend with her friends. I’m ready for that girl to come back.  So I’m taking baby steps. 

I was thinking long and hard about the last time I was truly surprised.  It was 1997 when the Ultrasound Technician told me I was having a boy.  The time before that – 1980, when my best friend, Denise Bosworth, threw me a surprise party when I moved to Texas.  My biggest surprise these days is what color polish Casey paints my nails with each week, and that is just plain pathetic!  Life is so much sweeter when you just let go of the control. I'm ready to open myself up to whatever --okay not bungee jumping--but almost anything else.

The question I get each weekend that grates on my every last nerve is “Where do you want to go for dinner?”….It’s an honest question that is asked with innocence and love.  I now realize why it bothers me so much….and I now know the answer…. “Surprise me!”

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Appreciation - The Gift that Keeps on Giving

A little goes a long way.  This is true for most things in life, but today I’m talking about appreciation.  As a “giver” I am used to exhausting myself in order to make someone else’s day brighter or easier, and it usually doesn’t dawn on me to accept a “thank you” for it.  That could be because I live in a house with three busy boys – all of whom are overly cared for and rarely take the time to appreciate all that is done for them in order for them to live their daily lives.  I do all of this with love in my heart so most of the time I don’t even notice that it’s taken for granted. It also helps that one day a week, someone appreciates me.

Every Thursday I volunteer at a local hospital.  Every Thursday I am welcomed with open arms, giant smiles and a hug.  Yes, they are THAT excited to see me and THAT appreciative for my four-hours of help.  Throughout my four hours, I can see how grateful they are that I have chosen to spend my time with them and it truly warms my heart. 

Life is a series of checks and balances and I “don’t sweat the small stuff.”  My Thursdays, counteract the Monday that I rearranged my social calendar to help out my son; or the Friday I spent cleaning and doing laundry which goes unnoticed.  It wipes out the Saturday that I spent four hours cooking and prepping for a dinner party, only to wake up on Sunday to find a dirty kitchen again from a teenager needing a midnight snack.  The things I do for my family are all done with love and usually with a smile on my face.  Every once in awhile, my people stop to think about the machine that keeps this family running and that’s always nice – but I don’t expect it.  I’m “simply positive” that appreciating “being appreciated” when it comes is good enough.   Expecting to be appreciated is awaiting misery.

With this said, I don’t always “thank” my husband for providing for my family or “thank” my children for doing well in school or helping around the house.  Sometimes the day in and day out of life becomes so routine that you just forget to notice.  I think because my contribution to my family has more of a care-giving/task-orientation/errand-running/favor-granting tone, it’s an easier target for sensitivity.  Having this role has made me much more empathetic to others and I pay attention when someone does something nice or offers great service.  Saying “thank you” and meaning it are important.  Looking a waiter in the eye to thank him for his service means as much as leaving a tip; taking the time to write a note to a teacher who took special notice in your child could reignite their passion for their craft; thanking your child for helping around the house may spark an interest in helping more often – okay, maybe that one was wishful thinking. 

I admire those who keep a gratitude journal; it’s not something I’ve ever been good at keeping up….but I guarantee if I had one I would fill it up.  Having an attitude for gratitude is one way I’m living my most positive life.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Do You Need a Shot of Vitamin P?

I’m been having a little trouble mustering the appropriate enthusiasm for Fourth of July this year.  I miss the good, clean, innocent fun of my youth.  I miss packing a picnic with my family and watching the fireworks from our boat.  I miss the excitement when my father would pull out our flare gun and join in during the explosion of the colorful finale over the San Francisco Bay.  Today this would have gotten him arrested. A lot has changed in thirty years.

Yesterday, while watching the news to decide which “fireworks” celebration to attend in town, I was  aghast by all the rules attached to what used to be a family-friendly event.  No glass, no lawn chairs, no umbrellas, all guests to succumb to a bag search and walk through a metal detector, etc. etc.  Is the Fourth of July festival where fun goes to die? I’ve seen so much bad behavior over the years at these fireworks displays and it has taken what was such a happy childhood memory into a somewhat dreaded ritual….so what’s a gal to do?

I need to give myself a shot of Vitamin P.  I think we all do.  Somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten what this holiday is all about.  Patriotism.  My husband and I saw a man in the grocery store the other day proudly wearing his “Make America Great Again” hat and we were both disgusted by his bold support of our fearless and careless leader…but the more I thought about it the more I agree.  This time of year especially, we should be proud to be Americans.  America is Great, but we have seen better times, purer and cleaner times.  Times where we cared more for each other and supported one another.  I think I can get behind that meaning of that hat.  Tonight I’m going to rummage through my closet and find some red, white and blue.  I’m making my husband and son go out with me to a Fourth of July festival where we will enjoy music and food trucks and FUN!......and fireworks.  And I am sure I will see some bad behavior….but I will also see the most important thing of all…the whole reason I loved this holiday in the first place.  The smiling faces of children amazed by fireworks, each one a delicious surprise, exploding with color and sound, reminding us to loudly and emphatically boast our pride for this country and for what we believe in