Time marches on

Check out this beautiful blog written by my older brother. Proud of him for being able to express these feelings and super proud of my nephews and niece who are amazing human beings.

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If you would have told me five years ago that things would be as they are now, I would have scoffed.  Never would I have imagined the life changes that have occurred in the past two years. Sure, in the scheme of family life, the kids grow older, go to college, move away white time moves us along as they begin to move forward to form their lives and their futures. Some of those life changing events brought me to the darkest period of my life thus far. My kids mean the world to me, and not being around them much due to the inevitable “growing up” has been a tough adjustment for this recently divorced father.

Yesterday I had one of those moments where emotion takes you down fast.  Being the end of the semester, dad duties include picking up no longer needed furniture for the move back home for summer.  The boys and…

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Be your Best Friend: Advice to Myself

Today’s words of wisdom stem from a conversation with a dear friend and co-worker.  She is working hard on trying to improve herself and her situation so she asked me for my honest opinion on something.  She asked, “Will you give me 3 areas in my life you think I could improve on?”

The answers to this came way too easily.  You see, this girl is 10 years younger than me and is also a single mother.  We’ve been there for each other through a lot of stuff over the last couple of years.  She reminds me a lot of myself.  So I realized as I was typing these things, I wasn’t only speaking to her – I was speaking from my own experiences, what other wise people have taught me, and I was speaking to myself on the things I constantly need reminders of.

So today – here are 3 areas in life I think we could all improve on . . .

  1. Love yourself.  I know that we hear this a lot, but many of us have been taught that loving ourselves is selfish.  The issue is, we spend so much time trying to do for others, that we have nothing left to give.  We were given these bodies and these lives to TAKE CARE OF.  We have to meet our own basic needs if we want to reach our full potential and have the capability and energy to love others.

    So . . . GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.  You have overcome so much in your life!  SO MUCH.  Maybe you had a horrible childhood.  Or maybe you survived the severe mental illness of a family member.  Maybe you survived a horrific accident and had to learn to live your life all over again.  Maybe you survived an unhealthy marriage or learned to move on after a betrayal.  Maybe you’re a single parent who struggles to make ends meet.  Everyone has a story and everyone has a struggle, whether they admit it to others or not.  The important thing to remember is – YOU ARE STILL HERE. You haven’t given up yet!

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    SO STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF.  You are making it.  You are making progress.  And your hard work and perseverance WILL PAY OFF in the long run.

  2. Learn how to “teach others how to treat you.”  Meaning, if you continue to allow people to treat you badly, they will continue to do it.  Set clear boundaries on how you are okay with being treated and what you will absolutely not allow.  And then let people know when they are doing a good job or when they are not.  This applies for families, friends, co-workers, and yes, even bosses, managers, superiors, etc.  We all need to be able to set personal boundaries in our lives.

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  3. Pay attention to your body and your emotions.  Notice when you start to feel stressed and prepare for it.  Preparation includes scheduling guilt-free alone time to pray, meditate, sleep – whatever you need to get through it.  (Don’t think you have time to meditate or just spend quiet time alone?  Check out this article on Pattern Interrupts.)

    Start a journal.  Even if it is as simple as writing down what you eat and what your emotions were that day – it is a step to learning more about yourself and what you need to survive.

    Another tip, especially if you’re an emotional eater like I am, always have a favorite healthy snack nearby to devour in times of need.

    The more you learn about yourself – the easier it will be to notice things and make the best choices for YOU.

I also wanted to share one final thing (okay, so actually it’s FOUR) that has been a huge help in my own personal growth.  I’m still working on each of these in my own life – but the second agreement was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.  I dealt with so much fear and shame in my own life, all because of what I was afraid others thought of me.  (And I was probably making wrong ASSUMPTIONS anyway.)

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Click on the picture to learn more about The Four Agreements book.

So, Congratulations to everyone who is doing their best every day and making steps (no matter how small) to better themselves.  YOU’VE GOT THIS!

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Repost: The Real Rich Mullins

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I grew up in the same community as Rich Mullins and was a huge fan of his music.  He graduated from the same high school I did.  When I was in 7th grade, he came and spoke to a group of students during our activities period.  This was the first time I’d ever seen him “up close and personal”. He sat at the piano in the band room and just talked.  He would play something every now and then – but he spoke from his heart.  I don’t remember a lot of what he had to say that day – but I do remember that he said some radical things, because I watched the teachers in the room cringe.  I LOVED THAT.  He wasn’t afraid to say what he thought.  I know a lot of what he said at the time went over my head, but his love for PEOPLE, the “everyman” was apparent.  And he was very open and honest about the fact that he was not perfect, just another human trying to do the best that he could.  I think that is a big part of why I always connected with his music.

Rich’s brother Lloyd wrote the following about comments he has received regarding the movie Ragamuffin and I loved the post so much – I had to share it.

“I really believe that [Rich] believed his job was in pointing people toward heaven, and he tried to do just that. We all wanted the movie to try to do the same. Schultz could have painted him as some kind of saint, kind of a Christian Yoda who’s got it all figured out, but that movie would have only glorified Rich, and Rich would have hated that (of course, he probably would have loved it too). Schultz took a braver approach: to show the other side, the private side. The side that only a few ever saw. I almost said were privileged to see, but frankly, there were a lot of times when it was no privilege, I’m sure. The movie Schultz made shows him as we all are; flawed, fallible, and frequently a complete asshole, but a complete asshole who never stopped loving God, who never stopped trying to please God. His struggle was not with God, but with himself, just like the rest of us.”

Please read the entire post here:

The Real Rich Mullins, Shameless Namedropping and the Cult of Personality

The final page of 2015

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I am ready for 2016.

I have some goals for the year, but I’m not making resolutions.  Just an intention to do the best I can each and every one of the 366 (it’s a leap year!) days I am given in 2016.

2015 brought a lot of lessons.  I renewed old friendships and reawakened feelings I had forgotten how to feel.  I had my heart beautifully broken and am okay with it.  I both failed and won at being a single mom – every single day.  I started writing this blog, two novels, and several songs.  I was diagnosed with diabetes, and began a journey to a healthier me (30 lbs down, so far!).

I turned 40 and the world didn’t collapse.  In fact, it was one of the best days of my entire life.  Over 40 Random Acts of Kindness were performed on that day and since and the world became a bit brighter.  It was 70 degrees in Indiana in December and I got to hang out on the front porch with my very best friends, my tribe, the island of misfit toys, and just BE.

This past year, I cried a lot, laughed a lot, started singing again and feeling more like myself than I have in a long time.  There were a lot of struggles, and even more lessons, but I realized that I am one lucky lady to be alive and have the opportunity to wake up each day and try again.

Here’s to you on the last page of the final chapter of 2015.

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Love,

Izzy

My Heart Keeps Remembering . . .

I have been writing poems, ‘ditties’, and songs since I was very young.  As a young girl, my poems were often about sunshine and rainbows or silly, funny little things that I would write for family members.  I still remember one of the first poems I wrote that I was proud of – and I drew a picture with it, and my mother added it to a collage she made of me that hung on our living room wall.

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The View From My Window

The view from my window
is shiny and bright
when I see the view
everything seems all right

The view from my window
after a busy day
when I look out my window
everything seems okay

The view from my window
day in, and day out
leads me to know
without a doubt

That the view from my window
will always be
the sunshine and moonlight
that’s all for me.

I think I was probably about nine years old when I wrote that.  I always believed that no matter what, things were going to turn out all right.  Then I hit the dreaded TWEEN years and my poetry turned darker.  It was often about the emotions I wasn’t sure how to deal with – but USUALLY, it was about some boy I was SURE I was going to marry, or the one who had broken my heart.

I was, am, and probably always will be a hopeless romantic, deep down in my soul.  And even though so many people seem to compare poetry that rhymes with CHEESE and sappy greeting cards – I still cannot help but fall back to my roots when my heart is having trouble dealing with something.

So today – I am allowing you to read something I wrote recently in hopes that someone somewhere will relate and feel better about their own story, knowing someone else feels the same way.

Please be kind.  🙂

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PHOTO:  Unrequited Love by Daniela Filipescu

My Heart Remembers What My Mind Tries to Forget

Out of my sight for so many years
Thought I’d forgotten what he made me feel
How my breath caught and heartbeat increased
That very first time he looked back at me

My crazy heart brought it all back again
With his few simple words on that screen
I guess that it’s true, some things never change
Connections remain, sight unseen

He never professed he’d love me in return
Never offered me the world, now or then
He only agreed he would be there as my friend
And never leave without warning, again

He foolishly promised a soul-scorching kiss
If perchance we someday crossed paths
Maybe he knew, that time wouldn’t come
His pledge would have no aftermath

Yet my broken heart felt hope for a beat
Conjured pictures of roads not yet taken
Warm wind in our hair, our only care
To keep dreaming and never awaken

Curled up beside him in silence
We explored what we both dearly love
After a while, we trade words and worlds
And rejoice at these gifts we’re part of

Reveries never once meant to be
Hurt more than I cared to admit
I couldn’t be just his friend anymore
My heart was convinced he was IT

Why would I be given this chance
To love him and lose him again?
If only I’d known all this pain in advance
Oh wait, I did.  Way back then . . .

But what if the first look, a second time
Lasts longer than we meant it to?
What if when our hands touched again
We felt ‘that spark’ and we just knew?

Stubborn, passionate heart of mine
I’m begging you, please, let him be!
I’ll be content seeing him in my dreams
The one place I’m sure he loves me.

When Random Acts Find You

Can you believe we are just ONE MONTH away from Christmas?  I have not started my Christmas shopping yet.  But I’m not stressing about it.  I have learned that the holidays are more about spending time together and making memories and not buying expensive gifts.

We are also 17 days away from my 40th birthday.  I spoke on several other blogs about my wish for this birthday and having at least 40 random acts of kindness performed and helping make the world a better place.  A few people have already started doing this and have given great creative ideas for paying it forward to others.

I wanted to write this post to reiterate that you do not have to PLAN random acts.  All you have to do is keep your eyes and your heart open to those around you, and opportunities will present themselves to you.  This happened to me the other evening at Meijer.

My youngest daughter takes forever in the bathroom.  I know she will kill me if she sees this someday but SORRY – YOU DO!  As we were checking out, she said “I have to go use the bathroom.”  I groaned internally, wishing she had decided 10 minutes earlier that she should go.  My son and I finished checking out and then went to stand by the door and the restroom to wait.

An elderly woman with snow-white hair and piercing blue eyes was also waiting in the mobile cart, her basket filled with groceries.  She looked at me and asked if I knew what time it was.  She was very soft-spoken and looked a bit timid, but something about her reminded me of my beloved Grandma whom I miss so much this time of year.  I pulled out my phone and told her the time.  Her expression changed as she said “Oh, I will be waiting here a long time.”

I know of times when my car was broken and I had to rely on others to get to where I needed to go – and it isn’t fun to lose your independence.  I felt for her.  So I asked her if she needed to call someone and I let her use my phone to call her son who said he would come get her right then.  When she handed me back my phone, the sparkle had returned to her eyes and she thanked me.  My daughter had already emerged from the bathroom by this time and she and her brother had taken our groceries to the car.

I wished her Merry Christmas and hurried out to my car, tears running down my cheeks.  I could have continued to be irritated at my daughter being slower than molasses, but I chose to just look up for a second and the opportunity to help someone was right in front of me.  It changed my attitude for the rest of the evening.  It wasn’t a big elaborate gesture – it was just doing what we should and looking out for our fellow human beings.  Loving people in whatever ways we can.  That is how we can turn this world around.

I hope you will join my 40th birthday celebration on December 13th.
Let’s change the world one Random Act of Kindness at a time.

 – Izzy