Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just Be Nice



1. the state or quality of being kind.
2. a kind act; favor.

Kindness is one quality that I insist on.  I have no time for people who don't feel the need to be kind to others.
It's not a difficult concept.  You simply treat others (as in EVERYONE) with respect and compassion.  You treat them as you would like to be treated.
It shouldn't be a difficult thing to do.
It is something that comes pretty naturally (for most of us.)
However, it is interesting how quickly our desire to be kind dissipates when we are treated poorly.

I remember when we moved to Bloomington, MN.  It was quite a change from the tiny town of Prairie du Chien, where we had lived for three years.
Our house was located on the East side of town (aka: the ghetto) 
Wal-Mart was about a mile from our home, so that was where I decided to go to pick up some items we needed after we moved in.
I should mention that in my previous life (otherwise known as "Leave it to Beaver" small town perfectness, where each week, my neighbor Julie and I would grocery shop and do our Wal-Mart run together.  It was both productive and social, and we loved hanging out with each other.  I should also mention that Wal-Mart was the ONLY shopping option in PdC, and it was right next door to the grocery store, so there you have it.)
I was still trying to adjust to shopping alone, and not knowing anyone.
During this first Wal-Mart adventure, I wandered through the store, and not one single person acknowledged my presence.
Every one there was completely wrapped up in grabbing their sale items, and pushing their way to the front of the line to check out.
Even the cashier didn't make any small talk.  She just acted like she hated her job, and that I was wasting her time.
I came home in tears.
After explaining to Mark how no one said hello, no one smiled at one even looked in my direction....where was this "Minnesota nice" I had heard about?  It certainly wasn't on the East side of Bloomington!
He, without pause, just said.  "Next time go to Target."
Thanks Mark.  You are so helpful.
My point is...when you take kindness out of the equation...people notice.

When you think about the people in your life, or even strangers you have encountered, I would wager that the ones that stand out the most are one of two things.  Either really wonderful, or really difficult.
I am sure that we all have people in our lives who seem to thrive on negativity.  They are usually the ones who like to blame everyone else for their problems, complain rather than take action, and demand rather than request.
These are also the people whom we probably aren't going to rush to the aid of, because we know that no matter what we do, they will still find something wrong with whatever help we offer.
Then there are the people in our lives who are completely selfless, who would help anyone at the drop of a hat.  They never complain, they are always upbeat and happy, and if anyone would ever ask us to describe them, the first thing we would say is "they are sooooo loving and kind!"

I know I would much rather associate with the latter.  However, I'm not sure that I would be able to realistically fit that description.  I often wonder how people who outwardly appear to have it so together, and are so sweet, caring, and happy all the time really feel.
I know that I would never treat anyone in an unkind manner unless they had done something to hurt me in someway.  However, I certainly am not upbeat and happy all the time.  I'm not going to take my anger or frustration over a personal matter out on anyone else, nor am I going to be obvious about being upset when I am around other people who are not involved, but it is hard to hide your emotions when something is really weighing heavy on your heart.

Knowing this, I just wonder how many of those people who always seem completely joyful and positive whenever you see them are really feeling.  I worry about that, because if they are projecting such an upbeat attitude to the outside world, how does anyone know when they really are hurting inside, and could use some support and love?  

I always keep this in mind when I encounter people who are unkind also.
Obviously, there is something in their lives causing them to act that way.  Some people are much better at hiding it than others.  I used to be offended when someone was rude to me, or ignored me.  Now, I take a step back, and try to remember that whatever they are going through isn't about me.  They are trying to work through something, and rather than me being impertinent back to them, I need to treat them with kindness and compassion....because that is probably what they need the most right now.

Sometimes, a simple touch can make all the difference in the world.  When you think of all the people out there who are alone, and so rarely experience the warmth of another's touch, it's heartbreaking.  Just reach out and squeeze their hand, or touch their shoulder.  When you think about it, don't you feel the most cared for and loved when another person takes a moment to simply stop and reach out to you?

Even on days when you just want to crawl back into bed and hide your head under the covers....being kind can pull you out of your slump.
Especially when you remember how blessed you are.

You know the old phrase "fake it till you make it?"'s true.  No matter how crappy you feel, how mad you are at your spouse, how crazy those kids are making you, how much you want to throw heavy things at your boss.....just smile and be nice.  Eventually, you will forget what you were ever mad about in the first place.  (well, most of the time anyway.)

And your kindness is something that no one can ever take from you.
When you look back at your life, you may see mistakes and wish for the occasional do-over...but if you know in your heart that you lived every day with kindness and compassion in your heart, and you treated everyone you encountered the way you would want to be treated, you will smile, and know you lived a beautiful life.  And how wonderful will it be to have anyone who ever knew you say "she/he had the most kind and beautiful heart?!"


It is most appropriate that kindness was the theme for today, because one of the kindest people I know is celebrating her 40th birthday today!
My sister Kris is FINALLY catching up to me (in age. I'm afraid she will never catch up to me in weight.  I am sure she is VERY happy about this!);)

Kris had the pleasure of being the middle child. probably wasn't so bad, because she was the only one mom actually liked. ;)  
Why?  Because she was the only one who knew how to keep her mouth shut.  (Emily and I are still working on's not going very well.)
Kris is the "keeper of the peace" in our family.
Not too long ago she told me "I could never hold a grudge, because I just can't stay mad at anyone for that long."
If only all of us could be like her!  

I sometimes wonder how she and I were birthed from the same loins.  (isn't that a lovely visual?)

Here she is.  I so wish I had a pic of her when she was a little older.  Her hair stood straight up on end.  It was adorable...and hilarious.  Go figure, the baby with the crazy hair would end up being the sister with the AMAZING, thick gorgeous hair that grows like 12 inches in a year.

And me. Really?  How are we related?  And no wonder she is the skinny one.  That was pretty much settled at birth.

So, I should mention the fact that she is also super woman.  She is mom to four kids.  (Three of them wild and crazy....yet oh-so-fun-and-fantastic!! boys) and then finally, Miss Martie.  (named after our dad) :)

She teaches kindergarten by day, and dance classes by night. Oh, and her boys are in every sport known to man, so she and her husband are on the go 24/7.

Did I mention that she gets up at the crack of dawn to work out everyday?  
Just like me!  lol

(I can totally do this too...but I just prefer to use my arms.)

Kris and I used to share a bedroom when we were teenagers.  This was interesting, because we are soooo different.  She is a morning person, I preferred to stay up all night and read.  She is super organized, and her house is always spotless.  I am a huge slob, and...well, I'm a huge slob.
I remember so many mornings when she was up, getting ready for school, and I was trying to sleep in as late as possible.  She would be packing her bags for the day (she LOVES bags...this has not changed.) only back then she would just use plastic shopping bags.  LOUD plastic shopping bags.  That drove me nuts.  And when I would read at night, I would have the light that was mounted right about our headboard on...which, of course, drove her nuts!  It was awesome. 

she is gonna KILL me for putting this pic on here!!
 But seriously....look how smokin' she is!!

Here is the thing about Kris.  Whatever she does....she makes it look effortless.
I'm not sure if she sleeps...maybe that is her secret?
What I DO know is that she is loved by everyone who knows her.  She is kind to everyone she meets.  She goes out of her way for others.  She makes a difference in this world.
In high school, there was a special ed boy who really liked her.  She, of course, could have gone out with any guy she wanted to (I mean, come on!  Look at her!)  However, she knew how much it would mean to him, so she went to one of the school dances with him. She danced with him all night, and at the end of the night, he asked if he could kiss her.  So, she said "you can kiss me on the cheek."  I am sure that will forever be one of his favorite memories.  That is just the kind of person she is.  She roots for the underdog.  She makes sure everyone feels welcome and included.  She is pretty damn special.

So, today, dear sister, I wish you the happiest of birthdays.
Welcome to the "40's".  
You are beautiful, talented, smart, caring, and kind.
I am lucky to have you in my life.

Happy Saturday everyone.
Have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's All In Your Head

Being Open-Minded

[oh-puh n-mahyn-did]  

1. having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.
2. unprejudiced; unbigoted; impartial.

  Oh, how I love this concept.
If nothing else, just simply being open-minded will make your life better.  Not to mention the fact that it will also make everyone IN your life enjoy you more as well.

It really isn't a hard thing to do.  No one is making you change your opinions about anything.  Rather, you are just choosing to be open to the fact that there are other opinions out there, and it is isn't a bad thing to listen to what they are, and educate yourself.

I think we grow up hearing the opinions of our parents and other role models, and it sways our perspective.  
Sometimes, the pendulum can swing the opposite way, and we may be inclined to choose  exactly the opposite of what we were raised to believe.  
You see that so often when it comes to religion and politics.

I think one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our children is the gift of curiosity.  When we allow ourselves to ponder and observe, to be receptive and gracious, understanding and impartial...we are able to see things from many angles.  We don't need to form opinions, and seal them in cement until the end of time.
That is the beauty of life.  Things keep moving forward...and so should we.

Another reason having an open mind is so important is that is allows us to see both sides of the story.  It helps us to remember that things are never exactly as they seem.

If we close ourselves off to the possibility of other options, other opinions, other ideas, we are closing ourselves off to the world.  How can we possibly have any idea what is right or what is wrong if we don't have all of the options?  

I really see how ridiculous people can be when election time comes around.  I was reading all of the comments on a Facebook post the other day, discussing the Governor's race in Wisconsin.  Obviously, the comments showed very strong opinions for both sides.  The part that bothered me the most was how some people would group democrats or republicans into one "group," and make snide comments about them.  "All of those stupid, liberal, money sucking, cry baby democrats..." etc.  (You get the picture.)  
All I could think was "Really? You are using those words to describe every democrat?"
It is that kind of close mindedness that makes me crazy.
I couldn't understand why these people couldn't simply state the reasons why they supported whichever candidate, and leave it at that.  Why was there such a need to add insults toward the opposing "team?"  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  You can have yours, but you have no right to attack me for having mine.

I think the worst is when I see close minded, and obviously learned behaviors occurring in little kids.  We are all born with no prejudice, no hate, no negative view toward others.  It is our environment that teaches us these things.  If only we could protect kids from it.  It seems like their sweet, untainted innocence gets lost earlier and earlier.

I think it is our job to try and reach out....stress the importance of opening our minds to everything that the world has to offer.  
If we challenge each other to take a leap of faith and consider other points of view, we are opening new doors we may have never walked through otherwise.
If we push any prejudice aside that we learned from an early age....if we question what we don't understand in our church, or dig deeper into what the people running our cities, states and countries are saying and doing, we are opening our eyes, and becoming informed.

Can you think of anything in your life that you have not given a chance to?  Is there something that you only know one side of the story, and have made a judgement about, without hearing the whole truth?

Have any of your limiting beliefs rubbed off on your kids?   Do you see them closing their minds to the same issues you do?

Are there any ways you can reach out to other people in your life, simply by opening your mind, and allowing yourself to be open to new ideas and opinions?

If someone was to spread a nasty rumor about you....would you hope that the people in your community would be quick to judge, or that they would keep an open mind and make no assumptions without having all the information?

Does putting yourself in the center of an unpleasant situation like the one above make you think about how you could handle similar situations differently, when it involves other people?

Just remember....we ALL have something special to share.  If we are willing to open our minds, our ears, and our hearts.....we can start to make some big and wonderful changes in this world.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Make it...Don't Break it


A few years ago, while on one of my "self-help" book quests, I ordered "The Artist's Way."  Of course, I couldn't stop there.  I also purchased the accompanying "The Artist's Way Every Day,"  "The Artist's Way Workbook," and "The Writing Diet."  (All written by Julia Cameron)
I figured, if I was going to do this....I was going to do it RIGHT!
The concept of these books is to write what she calls "morning pages" every day.  Three pages of "whatever pops into your head," first thing in the morning.
That lasted about 4 days for me. 
I was terrible at morning pages.
When it came to writing in a journal, I was only able to do it consistently when things were going badly in my life.  It was therapy then.  Of course, I always wish I had written daily, just so I could go back and remember what I had done with the last 20 years of my life, since my memory of most of it is blurry....but, all I have are the writings of a frustrated woman which occur less than 8 times per year.
I didn't give up.  Even though my dedication to journaling was the equivalent of my desire to get a full body wax, I kept trying to get good at it. 
I did find that I really liked "The Artist's Way Every Day" because it was simply  a book that contained a paragraph or two per day (Jan. 1- Dec. 31) in which she wrote about writing and being creative.  
This I could handle.
One of my favorite entries is the very first....January 1:

"One of the most important tasks in artistic recovery is learning to call things---and ourselves----by the right names.  Most of us have spent years using the wrong names for our behaviors.  We have wanted to create and we have been unable to create and we have called that inability laziness.  That is not merely inaccurate.  It is cruel.  Accuracy and compassion serve us far better.  Blocked artists are not lazy.  They are blocked.  Do not call the inability to start laziness.  Call it fear."   Julia Cameron
(You can click on her name if you would like to check out the book.)

I love how she approaches this.  I can't tell you the number of times I have sat at the piano, trying to focus, needing to pull some original music out of myself....and all I get is simplistic junk.
Or the times that I have started to conjure up a story....spent hours researching different cities to find the perfect setting, searching endlessly for all the information I can get about all of the surrounding area, looking for pictures, maps, anything I can get my hands on...and when it's time to write, I draw a blank.
However, I recall standing at the piano toward the end of one of my 7th grade choir rehearsals, surrounded by 70 middle school kids.  It was utter chaos.  They were so loud and obnoxious, I could barely hear myself think...but suddenly, this idea came to me, and the next thing I knew, I was writing a cool arrangement for my choir to sing during lent.  Another chaotic day, a beautiful psalm setting just flowed from me.  Apparently I need 70 screaming middle schoolers in the room to write music?

I think believing in yourself is so important when it comes to your creativity.  I remember the first time I decided to paint a room in our house.  I was so nervous about choosing the wrong color.  We bought two gallons of this hideous orangey beige....and after putting a little on the wall, I decided I hated it (it looked like someone smeared make-up in the corner of my living room) and we just painted it white again. If we had actually painted the whole wall, it might have looked ok....but I wasn't willing to give it a chance.  What a waste of $60 worth of paint.  And what a complete chicken I was.  I got more adventurous with each house...and I don't think there is a color I haven't tried now.  I think Mark's personal favorite was when he came home to a hot pink accent wall in the living room. Technically, it was "watermelon." :)
But, when it comes to unleashing your creativity, how are you going to know if you don't try?

I think the scariest part of being "creative" is that it is usually a direct reflection of ourselves.  It is something that we do, or create, or dream up.  Before we became involved, it didn't exist.  Therefore, it becomes personal....and that is scary.  However, it is also rewarding.  And, when you allow your mind to expand creatively, the possibilities are endless.

Too many times, we play it safe, and squelch the creative genius that lives inside of us.  Can you imagine how boring the world would be if Beethoven, or Einstein, or Van Gogh had decided to play it "safe," and not allow their creativity to flourish?  
And, if you REALLY get into your creative side, you can be as wonky as you want, and just blame it on the "artist inside of you."  Because artists cut off their ears, and weird stuff like that, right? ;)

If you look up "creativity" in the thesaurus, you will see some of my very favorite words listed as synonyms:
The words even LOOK creative when lined up!
Obviously, creativity is a GOOD thing!

And the beautiful thing is, there is NO limit to our creativity.  We can do anything we want with it!  We can incorporate it into EVERY aspect of our lives.  It is a part of us, and is there to enhance everything we do.  

It is so easy to fall into a stale routine.  At work, at home, in life.  If you step outside your "safety zone" for a moment, and look at your life from a different perspective, maybe there are some small things you can do to spice things up a little bit.  It doesn't have to be life-changing (but it COULD be life changing!)
It could be something as simple as getting more creative with your desk at work.  How can you jazz things up a bit, so you really like how it looks?  
Or maybe, when you get home, the first thing you do is light a couple candles, and turn on some music....and then start with all of the things that have to get done.
Could you rearrange your countertop and use one section as a coffee station?  You could stock it with some cute new mugs, and your favorite coffee.  Give yourself something to look forward to in the morning.

Do little things to give yourself an extra boost.  Something to make you smile.  Get creative.
You have free reign over your life, so why not have some fun?  I have said it 100 times....but I will say it again.  It is the little things that make our lives better.  And you deserve those little things, so take some time to do something nice for yourself today!  
And make sure it's CREATIVE!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Light Your Fire


Just typing that word made me feel like I should start writing a script for a soap opera.

Let's start with a definition.
Passion [pash-uh n]
1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.

Okay, so obviously we aren't talking about the soap opera kind of passion here.
Passion is #4 on my "personal values" list, so I guess that makes it pretty important to me.
I am definitely a fan of "doing what you love."
I am also a fan of "if you no longer love what you do....then stop doing it."

I would rather be happy than rich.
So, how do you find your passion?  
For some of is just obvious.  It has always been obvious.  It is all we have ever wanted to do.
For others, well, it isn't so black and white.
For me, I definitely have things I am VERY passionate about, but I will admit, I have gone through so many stages of what I thought I wanted to do, or be.

I want everything to be crystal clear.  And I also want someone to point out exactly what I should do, and why.  I would like someone to draw up a spreadsheet of the next 20 years of my life for me, and I could just follow that, and not have to make a single decision myself.

Luckily, I have gotten to know myself well enough, that I decided to take the larger scale ideas (the ones that included a few years of school and several thousand dollars) and pushed those aside.  Let's just be realistic here.  I have no desire to go back to school.  I have no desire to even get out of bed in the morning.  Washing my hair and making dinner are huge accomplishments for me each day.  Let's not push our luck, shall we?
With these things in mind, I realized that I should probably stick with the things I was passionate about that would not involve a monetary investment, or a whole lot of effort on my part.

So, I am sticking with music...and have added writing to my list.
The latter was a pleasant surprise, because I had NO idea I would get so hooked on it.  The next thing I need to do is figure out how to make $ doing it...because quite frankly, I could happily sit here all day long and work as a writer.  I think swapping the writing for work and the music for a hobby would be kind of fun.  Who knows.  I might not think so if it ever happened.

It is nice, though, that I have been able to make a living doing what I love.  I wish everyone was able to say that.  I think there would be a lot less anger and stress in the world if that were the case.  And if we could bring our pets to work.  And if healthcare were free.  We should probably move to Denmark.

One of the books I have been reading (the one that I got the "Personal Values" list from) is called 52 Ways To Live A Kick-Ass Life by Andrea Owen
(See, I SHOULD get paid for writing...I totally plug books all the time!)
Anyway, Chapter 26 is on Living Your Passions
She talks about how we all have that one thing rolling around in our head that we have always wanted to do....but we have always come up with an excuse not to, because to try will mean we have to step out of our comfort zone.
She then lists 6 reasons why you SHOULD do it (and explanations....I will just list the reasons.)
1.  You gain self-confidence and courage.
2. You meet lots of different people.
3. You'll have fewer regrets on your deathbed.
4. You'll inspire others.
5. You'll have a positive thing to focus on.
6. You'll just generally feel good.

I think #3 is a pretty good motivator.  I really do worry about lying there, near death and thinking "Dammit!!  I was such a chicken shit my whole life.  Why didn't I do what I REALLY wanted to do??!!"

If I end up in that position, thinking those thoughts, I will be really, REALLY sad.
I am not a huge adventurous, risk-taking kind of least not the physical "I'm going to jump off a cliff, attached only with a string of dental floss, and see what happens" kind of risk taker.  But, I really don't want to be the person who resides safely in a tidy little nook her whole life, playing it safe, and never chasing a single dream.  (I know that won't be the case...because some have already been chased) but, you know what I mean.

So here we go....the questions for YOU.
What has been nagging you?  That little something inside your head that you have been thinking about for a long time, but you keep pushing away, because it might take you out of your comfort zone?

When you take a good, hard look at your life, do you feel like you are following your passion, or ignoring it?

If you were at death's door, and looked back at your life, is there anything you wish you would have done?  (It's not about fully accomplishing something...just giving it a try)

If you could add something to your life that would just bring you happiness, and make you feel good about yourself, what would that something be?

The wonderful thing that I have been embracing lately is the fact that it is NEVER TOO LATE to try something new, to chase your dreams, or to find your passion.  So, if you have been feeling a bit lost, or perhaps you feel a void, but aren't sure how to fill it....this might be the perfect time to really sit down and think about where your passion lies.  What is it that gets your adrenaline flowing when you think about it?  What is something that you could see yourself enjoying for a long time.  (Okay, as I'm writing this, I am imagining all of the very inappropriate things some of you probably have going through your heads....yes, I know that may be were your passion lies...but clean it up and work with me here!) 
I will tell you one thing....if any of you have a passion for working with the memory impaired....this area needs a Alzheimers Day Center BADLY....and I can guarantee that you would not only be providing the community with a huge service, you would be securing your retirement fund as well.  Just a little thought I'm throwing out for those still searching for a "business related-Beth-would-love-you-forever" passion." ;)

Okay.  Go eat some chocolate.

Happy Thursday!

Trying Not to Fall


Ironically, this is not only #2 on my "Personal Values" list, but it is also exactly what I need to find right now.

I should start with the fact that I have made huge strides in finding balance in my life over the past four years.  
Most of my life, I was the poster child of an unbalanced life of chaos.  I am glad I figured out that I needed to make some changes, before  I lost my mind.

Letting go was the key for me.  I thought I needed to do EVERYTHING to be successful.  I thought the busier I was, the more impressed people would be with me.  I needed that adrenaline to keep me going.  If I slowed down, I would fall into a funk, and start sinking into the "black pit" again.  I took on every big, exciting project I could get my hands on. I said yes to every show, every recital, every concert, every gig that came my way.  I had a full time job, plus a church job, plus private lessons, plus whatever else I could squeeze in.  I was running on empty, but I had no idea how to do it any other way.  This was what I always did.  I ran myself ragged until I either got so sick I would be stuck in bed for a week, or until I just crashed, and the depression set in.  It was a vicious cycle.
Society tells us that to be crazy busy is the only way to get ahead.  All of the "important" people work this if you want to get somewhere in life, you better hit the gates running.
Yeah.  Right.
All it got me was exhaustion and gray hair.

It definitely took a leap of faith to quit teaching, and leave my church job for another at the same time.  I had no idea if I would like the change, and I had no idea if we would able to swing it financially.  However, I also knew that my spirit was in a state of dilapidation, and if I didn't do something drastic, I was going to wind up one of those completely uninspired souls, just putting in my time, hating every minute of my life.  
I would much rather face uncertainty than live like that.
So, I let go.
And allowed myself to be open to all possibilities.
And, before I knew it, opportunities began to simply fall into my lap.
Opportunities that involved things I WANTED to do.  Things I LOVED to do.  Things that would feed my SOUL.
All it took was letting go of the things that were weighing me down and holding me back.  It really was that simple.

This is when I began to find a balance in my life.  
This is also when I started to practice saying no.
When I was just out of college, I felt it was important to say yes to every opportunity that came my way.  I needed to get my "feet wet", and I also wanted to get my name out there.  I had to build a reputation as a musician in the area, so more work would come my way.  It was important for me to "prove my worth" I guess.  So, that is what I did.  I paid my dues, so to speak.  
I worry about kids today.  I see a lot of them expecting things to just be handed to them.  I see then balking at the thought of having to work for less than they think they deserve.  I see them not even bothering to work, because the jobs available are "beneath them."
This is heartbreaking to me.  
Those crappy jobs, and bad paying gigs are where we learn about life.  Where we learn how hard our parents worked to provide for us.  Where we become inspired to work harder so we can move on to bigger and better things.  If everything was simple, or just handed to us, where is the learning in that?
We are sending out the WRONG message if we let our kids get away with that.
I think this is also how we find balance.  
We get out there, and we practically kill ourselves, trying to figure out who we are and what we want to be.  We work as hard as we can to prove our worth to others, so we can improve as people, as employees, as spouses, etc.
We learn how to stand up for ourselves.  We figure out what drives us, what makes us feel happy, what our passions are.
When we get all of these things figured out, we can finally take a step back, and really determine what it will take to create balance in our lives.

Today I found out that my mom is coming back to live with me.  The other arrangements we have tried didn't work out.  
If you have ever attempted to be a caregiver, you know first hand that balance is the first thing that gets completely knocked out of whack when you take on that role.
The first six months she was here went relatively smoothly.  I think I was in shock for the first three, just trying to adjust to this new situation that had literally been thrown in my lap overnight.  I was, quite frankly, shocked that I handled it as well as I did.  I am the LAST person I could ever imagine taking on the caregiver role.  I love my alone time WAY too much.  I need to be able to jump up and go whenever I want.  I remember how happy I was when my kids were old enough to put themselves to bed at night, because back then, that was the only "me" time I night when they were sleeping.  Once I could skip the hour long bedtime routine (and yes, they would always drag it out for an was torture) I had that extra hour to just relax.

Taking my mom in meant I could no longer sleep until I was ready to wake up. (and I am NOT a morning person.  AT. ALL.) I now had to not only get myself ready everyday, but I also needed to bath her, and get her dressed, do her hair, make her meals, and keep her entertained all day.  And I was back to having a bedtime routine again.  Only she doesn't go to bed and stay there.  She usually gets up in the middle of the night to roam around the house, so you feel like you are always sleeping with one eye open.  (In other words, never sleeping well.)

There is no balance when it comes to Alzheimers.  She is locked inside her own little prison, and we can't find the key to get in and help her.  There are so many stages that a patient goes through....all of them are awful, of course.  She seems to be in the "paranoid" stage.  We can't tell if she is having dreams that she believes are real, or if she thinks she is seeing things.  Either way, whatever it is scares her, and she isn't able to tell us what she sees.
I can't imagine what it is to feel all of those emotions, to be scared or worried about God knows what, but not have the ability to tell anyone what you are worried about.
I know the next several weeks or months will be a time of adjustment for us all again.  Thank God I have such a supportive and loving family.  My sisters and their husbands are always there to help, and my husband tells me everyday "Whatever we need to do....I am on board."  
I am very lucky.
I hope she can find some peace and comfort from the demons in her head while she is here.  I need to just keep reading my compassion post from yesterday, and remind myself that her needs are far greater than my own.
I am sure there are little ways that we can maintain some form of balance. ;)

I hope you all will take some time to think about finding balance in your lives.
Is there anything that you are holding on to that is killing your spirit?
What is the worst thing that could happen if you let that thing go?
Are you capable of saying "no?"  Or, do you feel guilty, and end up saying yes to things you really don't want to do?
(My advice for that is to simply say "I'm sorry, but I am not able to help you at this time."  Make it a definite statement...rather than "If you can't find anyone else, give me a call back, and I'll think about it."  You aren't off the hook yet if you haven't given them a definite no.)

Do you feel like your work consumes your life?  Are you ok with that?
What order would you prioritize the following:  Work, Family, Friends, Me Time.
Does your life reflect the priorities you listed?

When your kids look back on their childhood, what do you think their memories of you will entail?  Will you be the one who always played with them, who always took care of them, who always made them feel safe, or maybe the one who was always at work, or was always too busy to play?

I think finding that balance in your life, where you can feel good everyday, knowing your work is something you truly enjoy, yet something that doesn't consume you, and your home life is fulfilling and joyful, is so important.
I also think that carving out time for yourself....just to be, is really important too.
We start to lose track of who we are when we are too busy being everything for everyone else.  We need to tend to our own needs as well.  If we feel renewed and refreshed, and in balance, it is so much easier to approach life with a great attitude and live each day to the fullest. 

Go out and enjoy your day!!

Happy Tuesday! xo