Surprises

Surprises

There are many surprises that come into our lives. Some are good surprises and some are bad.

I don’t like surprises myself because I like to know the who, what, where, when and why of everything so I can PLAN it.

Yet from time to time, I come across a surprise that impacts me greatly.

I’m not talking about the someone popping out of a cake surprise–I’m talking about the kind of surprise you receive when you find out your life has been impacted by someone else or that you impacted someone’s life by a single act of kindness and it just grabs at your heart.

I had a surprise like that just this week.

There is a person that I don’t know very well but who I love and who I have a very high respect for–that passed away this week.

As a matter of fact, I have never met this person face to face, but I have known about her most of my life and carried her with me as I carry many people I care for.

It is a hard thing to explain.

I am, among other things, the family historian. I keep the family tree, many of the family stories, some of the family secrets and as many pictures of family members–past and present–that I can get my hands on.

This has been a self appointed role–not one that anyone said I had to take on. And I do this for my own pleasure and curiosity.

I don’t do this to judge family members’ lives or the choices they have made–after all, who am I to cast the first stone?

In researching a branch of my mother’s family 4 months ago, I found my mother’s sister. My mom is 75 years old and her sister, 77.

Through the twists in life and other circumstances they had lost touch with each other, both migrating to this wonderful country from their native land at different times under a different set of events.

They had not spoken to each other in over 60 years when they were both barely young teenagers in another country and another time.

They were able to reconnect, and I believe, both were very happy to have found each other again. Many phone calls, emails, cards, pictures and gifts have been exchanged over the course of these months.

For me, I found a whole new set of people to call family and my dear aunt had a daughter exactly my age. She and I communicate frequently thanks to the miracle of technology.

I feel very close to my cousin and care for her deeply–we have become not just family but friends.

Through them both, mother and daughter, I have been able to collect a few more family stories and information to fill in the blanks that I had–they have indulged me in my hobby.

Unfortunately, my aunt had cancer.  In this short time that I came to know this woman, I grew to admire her strength, her resolve and her courage.  She made sure to be strong when speaking to my mother over the phone because she did not want to worry her “little” sister.

My aunt and I shared the exchange of one long letter–one in which I told her all about my life and her reply that provided acceptance, encouragement and love.  I was in the middle of sending her another letter that I will no longer be able to send.

But a beautiful surprise came to me in a letter from her, transcribed by her daughter–my cousin, my friend–because she was too weak to write herself.

It was information about a family business back in the old country and how the family was involved in it.  She had told me she wanted me to know the story and she had promised to send it to me for my collection of family lore. The letter was written and put in the mail to me on the day she left this earth.

Sometimes, we do something simple, say something to someone, offer a smile and it changes another life.

A selfless act–a beautiful gift–and a surprise. She grabbed my heart as all good surprises are wont to do. It has impacted me greatly as I am sure her whole life impacted others–regardless of time and space.

May the Lord keep her in the palm of his hand, until we meet again.

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

In my last post, I shared with you how much I am enjoying using my calendar to schedule the events and tasks that are important to my life, my goals and my priorities.

I’ve received a few questions since then about how to set your priorities and how I know if they are the right ones!  Wow! Huge questions and tough ones, but I decided to tackle them.

Setting priorities can be a very difficult task–depending on what your priorities are and if they match your values and your goals.

So first you really need to decide what you really want in your life.  Do you want a job, career or calling that you are excited to get up for each morning? Or just a means to make some money to obtain the OTHER things you really want in your life?

Do you want the romantic relationship of your dreams? Do you want to travel more or have more interesting experiences? Or do you want just more TIME to do all of these things?

You see, as we get older–the things we want change and that will change our goals and the methods we use to reach them.  This happens–not because we are getting older–but because we continue to grow as long as we are still breathing!

As we grow, we have to keep examining what it is we want so we can shift–you got it–our PRIORITIES!

How do you set your priorities? The right priorities for each person will be different depending on what they value.  

If you value family, like I do, then your tasks and the events you choose to attend will revolve around family–because that is what makes you happy and so you have internalized this as a priority for you.

How do you know if your priorities are the right ones? Well…this is easier to answer and harder to answer.

I am not going to say: “if it feels good make this a priority in your life”  because sometimes we pursue or do things that feel good in the moment–but that are really bad for us.

What I will say is if something is important to you, like traveling and seeing new places, and you have to work all year to save and earn your two weeks off in order to be able to enjoy it–but you do it because you really get joy from the traveling then this is a priority for you!

So the right priorities are the ones that feel right to you and that match up with the things you values.

As I continue growing and enjoying this journey, I have done a lot of self inspection.  I have found that my life’s passions include my personal growth, my family, traveling and writing or being creative in some form of expression. I also realized that I am a fixer–or as I prefer to think of it–a helper.

I was happy to realize that most of my life I have been reaching and obtaining these experiences, even through the years that had brought hardship, confusion and disasters into my life.

Getting older and continuing to grow just means for me that I will be putting more focus on my passions–my priorities–because it is what makes me happy and what is leading me to my purpose.

So knowing your priorities is very important! Examining what your heart is telling you makes you happy is very important! And then prioritizing your life so that you are going towards those goals is what makes this life so worth living!

Never stop growing! And do not be afraid to treat yourself well by honoring the things that are important to you!  We only live one life, folks, have fun!

Comment below and share some of the things that you have made priorities in your life!

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My Favorite “F” Word

My Favorite “F” Word

Happy Friday everyone!  I was thinking how most people love Fridays!  And I have to admit I like Fridays too because it is the end of the work week for me and gives me a chance to recharge my batteries over the weekend.

But really Thursdays are pretty good days and I don’t mind Wednesdays too much.  And if I have an exciting week planned–Mondays don’t bother me at all!

So I was thinking of the TGIFs in my life.  Why TGIFs?  Why Thank God it’s Friday?  I thank God every day–that I got another day!

And I started thinking of the “F” words that I like–french fries, frogs, frequent flyer miles…and I landed on my favorite: Family.

My favorite “F” word is Family. As long as I can remember I have had a very close bond with family, my family and with my husband’s family as well.

That is not to say we like everyone in our family–we love them, but you know, we don’t always like them all.

After all, Families are really just a collection of people either related by blood or some legal process like marriage.  And people, you know…are all different, regardless of the blood they carry or the piece of paper that binds them.

Some of my family, who I hold dear to my heart and adore, are not even my family–by blood, paper or any other way.  These are my life long friends, some are my parents’ life long friends, who have known me all my life, and who have been there for my children’s lives–who are like my aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and cousins!

These family members are often closer to us than family family–not because we love them more, but sometime simply because of geography, proximity and frequency.

They are special to us, because they know the “us” we were as children. They may be people who walked along with us and shared our childhoods. They watched us grow and go through awkward times. They were witness to our triumphs. We leaned on them when we needed someone to hold us up and push us forward. Without being asked, just because.

That is what family does.

And once in a while new friends come into your life as well that you do not know for a lifetime–that don’t remember the “you” from grade school with the big buck teeth, the high school “you” with the big hair (ah, the 80’s!) or the “you” you were when you made some big blundering mistake in life–and you click!

They become the new additions to the family–that you know will be around for the next phase in this wonderful ride of life.

Now, I’m not talking about people that come and go through our lives that we may know for a short time.  I mean the people we share a bond with, that we care about, worry about, celebrate achievements with and those we help when help is needed.

I’m talking about the people in our lives that call us up right when we need them to, help us through our own journeys, smile, laugh and cry with us.

Those folks get the title “family” in my book–because like my own real blood family–we can disagree, argue, enjoy, annoy, have fun with, feel obligated to, responsible for–and no matter what–they are our people.

And so on this Friday–I celebrate the “F” word–my family, in all it’s messy, confusing, incomprehensible, wonderful, fulfilling and crazy glory we live in.

Take some time today to reach out to your family–and let’s make this a TGFF (Thank God For Family!) day!

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Let’s Take a Trip

Let’s Take a Trip

Being in an empty nest helps fuel the imagination.  I think it is the extra time and the quiet house.

It is very liberating really to be able to think about things we really enjoy that we hadn’t had time for before…like traveling.

I love to travel! I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to visit many diverse places.  I haven’t been to as many as most, but certainly more than others.  

And while I haven’t been to as many places as I’d like–we are planning on taking advantage of all the experiences that the places we visit have!

While I am extremely afraid of flying…I do fly!  I have to talk myself into it each time, do a lot of praying and once on the plane will have the tears fall–especially as we take off or are coming in for a landing. But I’ll still do it!

It is the whole plummeting to earth idea I am not cool with!

I will go off to distant places if the opportunity presents itself, and it has, and I have! However, my favorite type of travel is by car!

I love America’s highways and how different and beautiful the regions and states can be. At the same time, for me, traveling around the United States is very familiar and comforting. Because no matter where I am, I am still home.

Last summer, my husband and I drove to Pensacola, Florida from Corpus Christi, Texas to visit family and we had a great time!

The road trip itself took us 2 days to get there and 2 back, mostly because we were enjoying the scenery and were in no hurry.  It was very relaxing and since we had our two doggies along we made frequent stops so they (me) could go to the bathroom.

It was great to have that time with my husband, we got to talk about many things which I think keeps us connected as a couple and brings us closer.  I am very lucky to be married to my best friend and so even quiet times are wonderful!

Along the way, we appreciated the changes in the vegetation, the colors and the smells and how the miles just went on into the horizon. Time was our own and we were happy and fulfilled.  It is a very good place to be!

I took pictures of the Welcome signs as we entered each new state: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.  We went from the coast in Texas to Piney Woods, through swampland and over the mighty Mississippi River and eventually back to the coast of Florida.  The traveling was one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Spending time with family, also, to me is priceless.  As I have gotten older and hopefully matured–I am not necessarily looking for the most glamorous or adventurous place to travel to.  I am looking for that sense of belonging and relaxation.  

I enjoy the sight-seeing, the meals out and the meals in that we make together with love, conversation and especially lots of laughter.  There is also just getting to know a new place and seeing things we haven’t seen before.

Traveling is not just a special place but a special moment in time.

I am hoping, in my empty nest years, to do a great deal of traveling and experiencing. Especially as I travel to see the ones that I love the most as they create their own lives!

Have you been on a trip recently that you enjoyed?  What was your favorite part of the trip?

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