Tag Archives: Relationship

The Connection Project

I thought it was about time to dust off the old blog and once again share my thoughts on everything, or at least on some things. When I started this blog nearly 7 years ago I was looking for an outlet. A way to share my thoughts and ideas. It became a bit of a journal of parenting. And then the kids got older, life got crazier (I didn’t think it could) and I embarked on a new role with a new organization. I decided to put the blog in storage for a while. I have been hesitant to put much out there knowing that, whether I intend it to or not, what I write becomes a reflection on the organization I work for. And I believe the world, and specifically the internet, has changed a lot in the last three years. It is a more divisive, angry place.

I also know that writing is cathartic for me. It allows me to process what is happening around me and helps me to clarify my views. I could write and keep it to myself. Or I could share it and hope it helps someone else to process the world as well. Not to come to the same conclusions or opinions, but to think things through in a slightly different way. The title of the blog Considering the Options reflects my view on life, we always have options. Choices in how we react, respond or behave. So today, I am launching a series I hope will make an impact. I hope this will help those who know me or follow my blog to process the world around them. As I mentioned, these are my thoughts, my opinions. They are not the views of the people I work with or for, or the organizations of which I am a part. They are mine.

The Connection Project – Why?

I am lucky enough to have friends who see the world through very different filters than I. And I have very passionate friends. I have young friends, those the same age as my kids and friends who are enjoying the proverbial golden years. Friends from small towns and big cities, those who live close to where they grew up and those who live (or have lived) halfway around the world. I have friends who have chosen not to have children, and who are not able to have kids. Those who have adopted and fostered to adopt. Friends who gave birth to one and to many. Friends with children who look just like them and with children who are a different ethnicity.

I have friends who have been married 50 plus years and who are newlyweds. And I have friends who never went down that path. I have gay friends and straight friends and some who are bisexual. I have friends who are doctors and lawyers and such (did you just sing that in your head like I did?). And I have friends who dropped out of school. I have friends who are farmers and railroaders, teachers and clergy.

What’s my point?

When you try to, you can categorize people in a million different ways. You can label them, assign them a trait. You can put them in a box based on that thing, that one piece of them you’ve chosen to identify.

Many of these friends have expressed a desire to live in a more civil and compassionate world. Friends are concerned to varying degrees – from genuinely concerned to obsessively frightened. People are fearful of “what the world is coming to.” What kind of world our children and grandchildren will grow up in. People are certain the world is going to hell in a handbasket so to speak. I think every generation has had that feeling to some degree, but I do believe it is different today.

So what can we do about it? How do we fix this world that’s falling apart? I am just one person and the problem is so big.

I think the answer lies in connection. It lies in individual relationships. People connecting, one by one, with those around them. So today I am beginning a journey. A journey to share ideas for making this world a more palatable place. A place I will be excited to have my grandchildren live.

I would love company on this journey! If you are brave enough to take a hard look at your role in this handbasket headed for hell:).

This week’s assignment: Spend time thinking about all the ways you categorized the people around you. Be cognizant of when you put someone in a box; make assumptions about them based on one aspect of their life or personality. Recognize when you dismiss someone’s thoughts, opinions or views because of who you believe they are.

Feel free to comment here and share your experience. I would love to hear how it goes this week!

 

 

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Filed under Intention, Legacy, Lifestyle

Celebrating the Spirit

I have always struggled with the notion of predestination. I believe to strongly in free will. Recently, I got into a discussion about this with good friends. We talked about how we see God intervening in our lives, about how we understand His intervention or guidance in our lives.
I believe there are many “right” paths to take. I believe God continually creates opportunity for us to experience the future He has dreamed of for us. We just have to be open to the nudging.
Which takes me to a celebration of sorts. A lesson for me in listening to the still small voice {or sometimes screaming alarm} that I believe to be God’s leading.
A little over a year ago, last spring, I started thinking about a gap I felt in my life. A missing link or hole of sorts. I hadn’t done a Bible study for MANY years. When the kids were young I did 3 or 4 Disciple Bible Studies. They were so powerful for me and made a huge impact on my spiritual life. Then I went to work full time and the Monday morning study didn’t fit in my schedule anymore. And the kids started getting involved in lots of activities quickly filling my weekend. The timing was just not right.
Fast forward about 8 years and I found myself with a hole that I knew needed filling.
At the same time, I found myself longing for more connections with Moms in my life stage – with teenagers and kids with one foot out the door. It occurred to me that many of my relationships to this point centered around the life of my kids. And though there were lots of great women I had made this journey with, we were connected because of our kids or their activities. I realized what I was craving is women I could connect with because we picked each other! Women I would remain close to whether our kids hang out or not, whether we are on the booster board together or not.
I needed connection.
Connection to other women and reconnection to my faith.
And I had a compressed work week at my job so my Fridays were free – me time!
What to do…
I sat with it for a long time, mulling ideas in my head. I looked at options out there. What I felt God leading me to do was start a Bible study in my home. It seemed to be the perfect solution to using the beautiful space I had, creating real connection with others and deepening my faith. But that was a risky idea. What if no one wanted to come? What if their lives are already so full, they have no need for a connection like I do? What if everyone else has all the close relationships they want? What if they already have a safe, supportive place to study God’s word? It sounds funny for me to say out loud now, but those were real fears of mine. I was taking a risk. Risking being rejected when what I needed was connection. Risking being the only kid raising their hand and saying, “I need help.” It was scary.
But I felt like this is what I was supposed to do. So I started making a list. I checked it way more than twice. I thought about women I had met who I wanted to get to know better. About women I thought might be open to a Bible study. About those I thought could be available on a Friday morning. There were some on the list I knew really well, some I had known for years and some I had only had very short superficial conversations with at a game or meeting. I didn’t know if any of them knew each other, but that didn’t matter.
After carefully wording a letter, I emailed about 20 women inviting them to participate. I was careful to let them know, if this wasn’t their thing, I wouldn’t be offended. And then I waited.
There were plenty of no responses. Lots of reasons it just wouldn’t fit or wasn’t the right timing. But, there were a handful of yes responses too. You could say the rest is history. But the rest is the real heart of the story.
I am so blessed {and yes, I do mean God looked on me and gave me a gift} by these women. I can’t imagine getting through the loss of my father without them. I don’t know how I would have gotten through May with Dad’s illness, Middle Son’s graduation and Dad’s funeral. They cleaned my house! Who does that?! They brought us meals and all those things we do to help each other. But more importantly, they have prayed with me, wiped my tears, understood the struggles of my heart, held me close when I didn’t know if I could get through and continue to pray me through it all. That is really powerful stuff!
And now, a year after that first anxious Friday, I see why God put it on my heart to start a summer study. God knew I was going to need something special, something more than what I had, to get through the things to come.
Not predestination, but working on my heart to prepare me in the way I needed.

PS. I debated about writing this for fear of hurting someone in my real world. There is risk- why didn’t she invite me? I would have come. I am sorry if I left you out, sorry if you are searching and not finding. My hope is that this post inspires others to listen to God’s calling, to reach out and ask for what you need. God will help clear the path for you!

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Filed under Faith, Thankful

My Heart is Full

I just spent the weekend working and my heart is full. I think I’ve mentioned before, I work for the National MS Society. I love my job and this weekend is one of the reasons why!

Our Chapter hosted a couples retreat for people living with MS. I spent the weekend with 40 people living with an unpredicatable disease, who care enough about their relationship to do some hard work. They spent time talking about the tough stuff; how frustrating it is to have to carry more than your share of the housework, how sad it is to not be able to walk hand in hand, how scary it is to not know what lies ahead for the one they love. They talked about feelings of guilt, anxiety, resentment. All the emotions that come with living with a chronic, unpredictable disease.

They also celebrated the gifts they have been given. They shared the blessings that have come from living with this disease. They supported and encouraged each other. They confirmed their commitment to face their future together, whatever it may look like.

MS affects every person differently. Many people don’t show any outward signs or symptoms, but deal with extreme fatigue, painful “pins and needles” or numbness that no one can see. Others deal with a continuous progression of symptoms leading them to become dependent on mobility devices, and eventually dependent on others for their daily needs. No one knows which course of this disease is in their future. They must plan for the worst and pray for the best, taking each day in stride. I really don’t know how I would handle that situation. I fear it would not be with grace.

 It is so very easy to take my life for granted. It is easy to get wrapped up in my own universe; to be so caught up in my life that I forget to give thanks. It is easy to get my shorts in a knot over the small stuff; to think my problems are big. It’s not that my problems are insignificant, it is about seeing them for what they are- challenges that can be managed. I think perspective is a gift and I appreciate the opportunity to gain some every now and then.

 I feel blessed to have been a part of this weekend and met so many wonderful people. I am grateful for the work I am able to do and proud of the people I work with who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. committed colleagues who work long hours and many who have dedicated their careers to improving the quality of life for people living with MS. They inspire me and motivate me. And programs like this weekend remind me how fortunate I am to do the work I do. It’s humbling.

If you want to be a part of making a difference you can join the movement with me! www.MSmidamerica.org Ride your bike, volunteer, donate, get involved!

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Filed under Randomness, Thankful

The Rule of 8s – Nurturing My Marriage

I talked in this post about the Rule of 8s; 8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for me. You can read about how I manage my family here. Today is all about making time for marriage in every day. I have to admit, this one is really challenging for me. Our lives at this stage are very busy. Like a whole different league of busy. Craziness. To the point where I don’t always look at the weekend early in the week, because I will just get stressed by all the commitments we have. We have chosen this life. We have picked our activities and allowed our kids to be in all the things that they are. Our reasoning, this is a short season. It’s their opportunity to try things out, see where their skills, talents and interests mesh. I feel like things will calm down soon enough, right now its just supposed to be crazy.

All that being said, we still have to make time to nurture our marriage. If not, when the kids leave home and our lives slow down we will find ourselves as strangers. And that’s not an option. I don’t have some phenomenal, super-secret, magic solution to keeping your marriage strong. Bummer. Wouldn’t it be great if I did? And I would totally share it if I had the secret. So many people could benefit. But, I don’t. So I do some really simple, really basic, really not magical things to keep the connection with Hubby.

We love to cook together. This is something we started doing when we were dating. Back then we had all the time in the world to prepare the most elaborate meals. And we loved doing it together. In all reality, it was probably just about being together. We were in that new relationship stage where it didn’t matter what we were doing as long as we were together {insert sappy, lovey tone}. But it is something that we still enjoy when we have time. Since we all have to eat every day, this is an easy way to spend some time together while getting something done.

We’ve found that walks are great for connecting. When we are home there are too many distractions; phones, TV, homework, cleaning to be done, bills to be paid, and on and on. When we go for a walk all that goes away. We can focus on the conversation and really hear what is going on for each other. I always come back exhausted and content. I remember the first time we were able to go for a walk sans boys. We gave them each a few tasks to keep them occupied, refreshed a couple safety rules and told them we would be back in 20 minutes. I think I giggled the whole walk! It was so strange to be gone, knowing they were all at home. Alone. We talked a little. But mostly I laughed. And I felt a huge sense of freedom I hadn’t felt in YEARS! Since then, we’ve gone in spurts. Sometimes we use soccer practice as our walking time; drop the kids off and walk at the park while they practice. It saves a trip home and back, we get some exercise and we reconnect with each other. We may only fit one in once a week {and sometimes its much less than that}, but it’s something.

When the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home-mom we instituted “couch time.” The rule was, when Daddy comes home he will give everyone a hug and a kiss and then it’s Mommy’s time. They knew the next 15-20 minutes they needed to occupy themselves while Hubby and I chatted about our day. It wasn’t fool proof and there were often interruptions, but I think it helped the boys see that we care about each other and needed that time to connect. We don’t do “couch time” anymore. The boys don’t generally come running to the door when we come home anymore:). I think that’s ok. But we do tell them sometimes that we need some space. Its funny how when your kids are little, you’re ok with telling them, “Mommy can’t listen right now, I have to make dinner.” And then when they are teens, you take any chance you can get to listen to what they are thinking.

Along the line of changes with teens…we put a lock on our bedroom door. There was one there when the kids were little, but it was hardly ever used. We just waited till the kids were sleeping for IT. Any time after 8 pm was our time. When we repainted we didn’t put it back on, there was really no need. Fast forward a few years to midnight curfews and Houston, we have problem! I can barely wait up to make sure the kids are in by curfew, let alone be remotely coherent. And even on nights when they are home, they stay up late! Its really quite awkward. But if we’re talking about nurturing your marriage…whatcha ya gonna do? So we put a lock on the bedroom door. The kind that can only be locked and unlocked from the inside. When the kids saw it they said, “That’s just wrong!” I probably would have said the same thing. Afterall, we all know our parents don’t do IT.

Thursday lunches are another favorite. Hubby has Thursdays off work and we have set up a standing lunch date. Another planned opportunity for uninterrupted time. We try different restaurants we’ve heard about or wanted to check out. We don’t do it every week, but a couple times a month is good. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just a chance to chat. Like I said, there is no super-secret magic solution. It’s about making it a priority to find time to spend together. Even with our crazy, super hectic, ridiculous life. In a few short years when the kids have all moved out we will start a new season and hopefully have some solid footing. And we’ll take the lock off the bedroom door…maybe.

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Filed under Advice, Faith, Family, Legacy, Lifestyle, Parenting