Tag Archives: loving

Pink Moscato

Pink Moscato

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I found myself getting caught up in that well-known downward spiral of perfectionism… I wanted to write but it had been long enough that I wanted what I wrote to be significant and amazing, so I stalled…and on and on the cycle went…only each time I wanted to write, the content had to be exponentially more amazing than the previous time.  So one day, at a relative low, I cracked open a bottle of pink moscato and just wrote. 

Let me recap: I had a baby – an actual, real life BABY!  He grew inside of me and after a painful and (I can proudly say) a drugless 5-hour labor, he somehow made it out into the world. I kept looking at him in awe thinking, “Whoa – he’s really a real REAL baby – like a BABY baby.” Even as I was being wheeled out of the hospital (turns out, you’re not allowed to walk out – hospital policy), I kept thinking, “So wait, they’re just going to let me leave with this baby? That’s IT? I can just HAVE him?” I guess when you wait until you’re 36 to have your first baby, the whole process seems much more unnatural and strange. As it was, I felt like I was downright stealing a baby.  Even after I felt every moment of searing pain to get him out of me, he still didn’t feel like mine.  He’s been with me for 12 weeks now and I often wake up to see him next to me in bed and think, “Who are you and how did you just suddenly get here in my life?” It’s not an angry thought – it’s purely a curious thought. How the heck did those 10 increasingly fatter months lead to this ever-growing little life? 

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As far as babies go, I think I got lucky. He’s what the nurses called an early smiler, and he smiles pretty much any time I or anyone smiles at him…which is pretty darn cool and awesome and funny and great.  To have this little face smiling at me – even if it’s 3am – is soul-filling.  I’m pretty sure someone could live longer if they were deprived of food but had baby smiles every day…pretty sure.  So Jack was born on his actual due date – which Google claims is only 4% of babies – making him the top 4% of punctual people on the planet. Other than that, I try very very hard not to be the mom who compares her baby to everyone else while insisting that he is smarter and more alert and more developed than average (which I’m convinced he is).  It must have been the negative stereotypes, but the Baby Einstein moms who play nonstop foreign language and Mozart to ensure their baby’s superiority completely turns me off and gives me the heebie jeebies. I sing and dance with Jack, but I’ve decided that he’ll let me know when he’s ready to learn things and I will TRY not compare him to anyone else.  That said, in these last 12 weeks, I have only come into contact with 3 other newborns. The first seemed super chubby and I was glad Jack wasn’t, the second had a humungous head and I was glad Jack didn’t, and the third was a super cute girl (his cousin) and even then I was glad I had a boy…so I’m 0 for 3 on comparing. Even the doctor’s office seems to encourage comparison – they printed stats about Jack saying that he is in the 90th percentile for length, the 20th percentile for his head (explaining why the big headed baby seemed so big-headed), and the 40th percentile for weight…so I can’t help but compare right away – average weight but super long body with a smaller-than-average head.

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What a crazy journey it’s been up to this point.  I sometimes think about writing a book about surviving the Army.  I can look at the last 10 years and see a clear love/hate relationship with the U.S. Army.  It tore my marriage apart; it supported me; it gave; it took; it took back; it gave again. In the end, it’s been like most circumstances in this world – it’s not so much about the institution itself so much as how I responded to it and what I chose to do with it.  When I felt and acted like a victim, I was most certainly its rag doll puppet.  When I rose up and took control and used it to my benefit, I found myself abundantly satisfied.

Though there were times I never ever thought I’d be a mom in this life, I look at my little man (who really is quite long), and find myself amazed at this crazy life.  All the turns and speed bumps and dead ends and detours I’ve taken, my path seems less-than-straight.  I’ve messed up, made mistakes, started over, apologized, forgiven (myself and others), started over again, and found myself lost on countless occasions.  And yet, I have a healthy, handsome, smiling baby boy. It’s quite a thing, this life. I’ve stopped trying to second guess it, and have started accepting with open hands the gifts I’m given.  I’ve been given friends from all over the world, a body which seems to heal from just about anything, a heart which has proven resilient beyond expectation, and a little life that has been trusted to me. Wow. Life is certainly unexpected and fickle and inexplicable…and wonderful. 

OH – I forgot to explain my “relative low” that got me to crack open the pink moscato. I’m chalking it up to the standard adjustment a new mom goes through…that of shedding her old life view and everything that goes along with it.  I stopped and looked at myself in a public mirror today, and saw nursing bra straps hanging out, frizzy hair sticking out from under my hat above each ear, 18 or so extra pounds, and an overall unkept appearance. It’s that frumpy, frazzled, and fatigued self – the triple F-word threat – that takes some getting used to and patience. I think my immediate future holds squats, lunges, situps, some naps, and most definitely more moscato!  

Let Go and Forgive

Let Go and Forgive

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France

The challenge is to let go of our past in order to make space in our hearts for love today. If our past is the sum total of who we are today, how can we hold onto the good, but let go of the bad in order to make space for more good? How can we forgive the past hurts, heartbreaks, disappointments, betrayals and lies?

Letting go is difficult because we often define and identify ourselves by our pain. Holding on to anger can come to be a comfort blanket, as is the role of being the victim or the wronged. But those painful memories take up space…space that isn’t doing a damn bit of good for us…space that keeps all the good stuff like joy and love at bay.

A helpful analogy I read was that moving on in life is like stepping through a door and firmly but gently closing it behind you…no slamming. It’s a nice vision of moving forward without lingering anger and free of past pains. It doesn’t mean forgetting the past, but instead forgiving it and deciding to live in the now instead of in the past.

Clinging to past pain also causes our bodies pain. The stress and anxiety take a toll on our immune systems and getting sick becomes more routine than it should. It also causes us to age faster – both inside and outside. There’s nothing helpful or healthy about choosing to feel hurt today because of our past. And believe it or not, but it is a choice. We can choose to put the draining cycle of anger and hurt behind that closed door, and stop missing out on the beauty of life as it happens.

It’s essential that we learn to forgive so we can move on. Forgiveness isn’t for the other person’s edification, it’s for yours. It’s not forgetting, but it’s letting go. Forgiveness allows you to release the chains of resentment you’ve bound between yourself and the memory. Forgiveness closes the door gently but firmly, and allows you to face the light of your tomorrow.

We are who we are today because of the trials of our past, but we don’t have to let them dictate any further than that. I am grateful for the hard lessons I’ve endured because they have made me a stronger person today. I smile back at all the good times – I will cherish those forever – and I walk firmly on and away from the painful past.

How Great You Are

How Great You Are

“The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by, and this you will become.” ~James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

Survival tools for life: Optimism, appreciation, faith, hope, belief, love. We can cherish them and use them, or keep them tucked in our tool belts and be tools ourselves. Bad joke, sorry.

But seriously, you know what’s not in the survival tool belt? Negative self-talk, doubt, and pessimism…trust me, I’ve checked. So stop telling yourself that you’re incapable or ugly or that you would be prettier if you lost another 5 or 10 pounds. Stop feeding yourself this endless negative monologue of “if onlys.” Stop telling yourself that you’re worth less than you actually are, and above all, stop believing it! You are your biggest cheerleader, and you’re cheering for some other team…namely the waify airbrushed models and celebrities in Us Weekly that you just saw in the grocery store aisle. How much power those unknowing models have over millions of women in grocery store aisles each week! Well, I’m sure they have some idea of their power, or they wouldn’t be starving themselves for a living.

You bring wonderful and amazing gifts to the table each and every day. My friend who called me this morning was weary but trying to keep a smile on her face for her kids so they don’t see the worry over money problems that is beneath the surface. She is a great mom and wife, and doing the absolute best with what she has. How disturbing it is to think about hard working moms and women like her who doubt themselves for one second because they feel they somehow don’t measure up to what the media and society says they should be?

That negative self-talk can be more caustic to a woman’s health and well-being than disease or drugs or anything destructive in nature…ok at least on par. That internal stress actually impairs a person’s health…but this is constant internal stress, so the damage is ongoing and never-ending. It kills me to see bright, beautiful women think less of themselves because someone else tells them to think it.

Stop shrinking inside of yourself and letting your light get dimmer with time. Put down the magazine, take a good, hard look in the mirror at the miracle that you are, and go out and live brightly, fully and unabashed in your own skin. You are great, but no one will see that until you yell out to the world, “I’m gonna show you how great I am!” (Muhammad Ali said that in a press conference before a fight when he was coming in as the underdog in 1974…he won.) It’s his voice you hear in the video below. I realize it also has the Rocky quote again, but you can’t hear that enough!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson, Return to Love

A Little Humanity in Us

A Little Humanity in Us

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa

There’s a woman in my life that I didn’t care too much for. From day one, she rubbed me the wrong way and I kept a cold distance from her. She acted as if she was above the law, talked meanly about other people, name-dropped (one of my big pet peeves), and dressed in really skimpy clothes…which doesn’t really bug me but I’m trying to think of things to add to her bad list. She seemed to lack all of the qualities I admire most in people – warmth, compassion, friendliness, acceptance and being down to earth. I wasn’t mean to her, but I certainly wasn’t any of those qualities I just listed to her either.

Then I something happened that changed my mind. I overheard her talking about herself and her life. She’d been through multiple divorces, and was now trying her best to put herself through school so she could stand on her own and make a new life for herself. With that insight, I saw her as a human being doing her best, and the rest didn’t really matter anymore. Maybe it’s a cover – maybe she puts on a tough bitchy face to make herself seem less vulnerable. Maybe she’s still in a lot of inner pain and drowns it out by cutting off emotion to other people. Whatever it is, all of her caddy stuff suddenly looked like surface, exterior fluff. Those annoying things weren’t her. Once I saw a glimpse of her humanity – the person behind the symptoms – I saw her through different eyes – with compassion.

The whole thing made me think about how quick we are to judge other people strictly based on the outer fluff stuff. Maybe not everyone judges, but it is certainly a vice of mine. I’m an analyst, I’m paid to make assessments and judgments, and I let it spill over way too disproportionately into the real world. But quick judgments are the reason reality shows thrive – because the people seem so ridiculously stereotypical that we can’t believe they’re real, but can’t look away either. The bitchy housewife, the machismo guido, the trashy hoarder (no pun intented), the street thug…we actually enjoy making snap judgements on them. But I digress because those are just masks.

It’s finding the humanity in other people – all people – that’s the challenge. If I stop and catch myself before I put a relative stranger into a superficial category in my mind, and see them for a human being with challenges and bucket lists and heartbreak and victories, then their depth reveals itself and compassion comes easily. Now it’s time to put theory to practice!

Dwelling on Love

Dwelling on Love

Here is a beautiful breakdown of love I’ve compiled. It’s inspired from a Bible verse, but easily translates across religions and cultures to everyone.

Love is an Action

(1 Cor. 13:4-8 )

Love is patient

  • It has restraint of anger, and temper in all sorts of life situations
  • Love thinks of the other person first; lack of patience puts oneself first
  • “Patience with others is Love; Patience with self is Hope; Patience with God is Faith.” ~Adel Bestavros
  • “Blessings may appear under the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures.” ~Joseph Addison
  • “The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” ~Ralph Martson

    Love is kind

  • It is thoughtful of others’ feelings
  • It is gentleness in action
  • “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~Leo Buscaglia
  • “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” ~Saint Basil

    Love is not jealous

  • It rejoices in others’ good fortune
  • It has no desire to lessen the desires, virtues, achievements or happiness of another
  • “In jealousy there is more self-love than love.” ~Francois de La Rochefoucauld
  • “The jealousy that arises from another’s achievement is overcome by developing an awareness of and admiration for one’s own and other’s achievement.” ~Dalai Lama

    Love does not boast

  • It does not need a spotlight, nor to parade oneself in front of others
  • It is humble about great achievements
  • “Boasting is not courage. He who boasts much cannot do much. Much gesticulation does not prove courage.” ~Anonymous
  • “Where men are the most sure and arrogant, they are commonly the most mistaken, and have there given reins to passion, without that proper deliberation and suspense, which can alone secure them from the grossest absurdities.” ~David Hume

    Love is not proud

  • It always has an attitude of thankfulness in all things
  • It exhibits a sense of humility
  • “What the weak head with strongest bias rules, Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.” ~Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism
  • “In general, pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.” ~John Ruskin
  • “Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communion with Christ; it was the first sin that ever was, and lies lowest in the foundation of Satan’s whole building, and is the most difficultly rooted out, and is the most hidden, secret and deceitful of all lusts, and often creeps in, insensibly, into the midst of religion and sometimes under the disguise of humility.” ~Jonathan Edwards

    Love is not rude

  • An unloving person will do and say things, and assume an attitude of which he later will be ashamed
  • It never offends by indelicate or crude acts and words that are violent or foul
  • It is concerned about manner as well as matter
  • “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.” ~Eric Hoffer
  • “The means by which men are to attain great elevation may be classed in three divisions — physical, mental, and moral. Whatever relates to health, belongs to the first; whatever relates to the improvement of the mind, belongs to the second. The formation of good manners and virtuous habits constitutes the third.” ~Stonewall Jackson

    Love is not self-seeking

  • It seeks the other person’s welfare and does not calculate what benefits he may accrue, no boomerang thinking
  • It does not do for others as a gimmick to gain certain personal ends
  • It does not say “what’s in it for me?”
  • “Deny Self for Self’s sake.” ~Benjamin Franklin

    Love is not easily irritated

  • It considers and thinks carefully before being irritable, thus, sacrificing self, plans, schedules, etc. for others
  • “Irritability is immaturity of character. If you are subject to being cross and unpleasant with others for no apparent reason, you need to come face-to-face with the fact that you are thinking too much of yourself.”

    Love does not keep records of wrongs

  • It is one who does not count up, recall and throw up to another all the offenses the other has committed
  • It forgives and does not hold grudges
  • “Resentment or grudges do no harm to the person against whom you hold these feelings, but every day and every night of your life, they are eating at you.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

    Love is not happy about injustice, and stands on the side of truth

  • It does not sit idly by when injustices occur
  • It is not mute about unfair actions against others
  • It takes a stand for what is right and against what is wrong
  • “The cause of justice is the cause of humanity. Its advocates should overflow with universal goodwill. We should love this cause, for it conduces to the general happiness of mankind.” ~William Godwin
  • “The human spirit was fashioned in truth: that means when we tell lies the body disagrees by blinking the eyes, lowering the body temperature, raising the blood pressure, shaking our vocal cords; we become a dis-ease. When we live in lies our soul retaliates destroying not only ourselves but more so the very people we ougth to love and protect.” ~John C. Bejo

    Love always protects

  • Like a mother eagle fiercely protecting her nest of young, so love should protect
  • “In the love of a brave and faithful man there is always a strain of maternal tenderness; he gives out again those beams of protecting fondness which were shed on him as he lay on his mother’s knee.” ~George Eliot

    Love always trusts

  • When others doubt, it firmly believes
  • Only hard evidence would make one doubt another’s words
  • It believes everything is possible ultimately through love
  • “I can’t control my destiny, I trust my soul, my only goal is just to be. There’s only now, there’s only here. Give in to love or live in fear. No other path, no other way. No day but today.” ~Jonathan Larson
  • “Love means exposing yourself to the pain of being hurt, deeply hurt by someone you trust.”

    Love always hopes

  • “Dum spiro, spero.” “While I breathe, I hope.” ~Latin Proverb
  • “What oxygen is to the lungs, such is hope to the meaning of life.” ~Emil Brunner
  • “Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself…”How did I get through all of that?”

    Love always perseveres

  • Love presses on through and past the hard stuff
  • “All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Love comes to those who still hope even though they’ve been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they’ve been betrayed, to those who still love even though they’ve been hurt before.”
  • “To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” ~Unknown

    LOVE NEVER FAILS

  • “Those who wish to sing always find a song.” -Proverb
  • “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” ~Maya Angelou