My mother was a…

Giver. She gave, and gave, and gave. I suppose that is why it is in my nature to help others, to problem solve, be a listening ear, and support to those around me. I saw my mom give her time to her children, her mother, her husband, the kids she took care of, the children she taught in school, her church, and when there was time left over the few friends she had.

I often look back and wonder why my mom did not spend much time socializing with friends or neighbors and I realize now that she did not have the time. Often she worked two jobs, helped us with our homework, made dinner for the family, at times packed our lunches, planned the grocery list and meals for the week, cleaned the house (separate from the jobs that were our chores), and took care of all those people in the above list. I often wonder how she did it all, and yet I am in some ways living her life, minus the kids and two jobs. Yet, how many of us work the hours of two jobs? Life will definitely change for me when little bambinos enter our home. Focus will change, priorities will change, life will change. Yet, will I do less?

Whatever happened in the world that made us (women especially) think that we had to do it all? Is there a time when the cord that keeps us going begins to fade — sort of like your laptop battery that eventually no longer holds the charge? Or are women of the “rechargeable” battery variety that after enough recharge we can continue like the Energizer bunny? Is there ever a breaking point? I love it and I hate it. I love the energy, the problems to solve, and that no day is ever the same, but is there ever a reset button? If you walk away for a day or a week, it becomes almost impossible to catch up on emails, voicemails, and pieces of projects that need to be adjusted. Do we do too much? Do we give too much?

My mom was a giver and she died at the age of 50. Was it her lifestyle, or just the journey of her role in the universe? I will never know if she loved or hated the roller coaster she was on. She did it all for everyone else, I can only imagine and hope that she was invigorated by those she helped, all she did, and that her life never had a dull moment — there was not time for that!

Are you a giver?

Get off the ferris wheel?

The common theme for me recently has been: work/life balance. Chris of course has been my strongest advocate for more balance. Work less, play more. Co-workers, and friends at work, friends outside of work, and family have all encouraged me to take a stand for more balance in my life. It has been something I have struggled with ever since I started my professional life. Yes, there have been ebbs and flows. Times when more is asked of you, and others when you are bored at your job. I always found a way to cope with work boredom – I started my own business. Somehow it was ingrained in me at an early age, work hard, play later.

We are often a product of our childhoods. Sometimes that means we are in a vicious cycle of not repeating the mistakes of our parents and yet we can never seem to get off the ferris wheel. Somehow we are always stuck on the top and never get to get off the ride. I have very vivid visuals of my childhood. There were many opportunities I missed out on because we either could not afford it, did not have the transportation to be able to participate, or had so much responsibility to take care of others in my family, that often there was not time for play. At times I wonder if I worked so hard to never replicate my experience, that I forget that my life is now so far removed from my childhood. So how does someone who grew up in that environment get off that ferris wheel?

Chris and I have talked about this on numerous occasions. He often reminds me that together we have carved out a life that we have made our own. We have been meticulous about our finances, discussed our decisions and choices extensively, and feel confident that we are going down the right path. We have full control on when the ferris wheel stops, but somehow the momentum of all the different responsibilities we have, makes it somehow feel like everything is going so fast it feels nearly impossible to stop, get out, and maybe find another ride.

We tease each other (and maybe at times are more serious than others) that having a kid means getting on an entirely new ride. Maybe babies are not allowed on ferris wheels, and by making the choice to get off and start a family, we forfeit the ability to get back on. Is that true, or is that new ride, even more exhausting (yet maybe more fun and exhilarating)? I am a fan of roller coasters, so maybe starting a family is like that. A long wait, big thrill and then start all over again (just kidding). I think I am getting carried away with the theme park analogies today.

How do you get off that ferris wheel, daily, weekly, monthly? How do you walk away, yet stay connected to what is important? I am all ears for how you maintain that work/life balance. Would love to hear your inspiration, challenges, and ideas!


Lean towards the positive

We all have had rotten days, that we thought would never get better, but sometimes we have to look at what we can learn in those moments, and on those days. We can look at those around us, our peers, friends, and family and sometimes we see folks who look like they have it all. We covet what they have, we want their life, we think they have it easier and that their life will make us happier. Yet, is that really true?

Recently I was catching up on my Daily Om newsletters and found this one “Making Life Yours” where this quote stood out to me:

“The individuals who move through life joyously have not necessarily been blessed with lives of abundance, love, success, and prosperity. Such people have, however, been blessed with the ability to take the circumstances they’ve been handed and make them into something great.”

After having lost both of my parents, I have had others ask me: “What a great loss. How do you get by?” There are definitely days when I struggle, usually when there is a big life moment, a birthday or a holiday, but mostly I have figured out how to move on, to continue to grow, learn, and be me. I have heard others that have lost folks in their life say “It is what they would have wanted, for me to move on.” While I cannot tell you if that is true, I can tell you that living my life to the fullest is the only way I know to cope, to take my circumstances and try to make it as great as can be.

I have had a full, roller coaster week. There have been ebbs of goodness, and moments of frustration. At the end of it all, I can honestly say how grateful I am for all the good I have in my life. I may work hard, I may want more sleep and time to myself, but I love the moments where I can connect with others, learn more about how they live and love, an in turn learn about myself. We each can do more, love more, and connect more. If we attempt to lean toward the positive, we are one step closer to bringing our circumstances from good to great to amazing.

Bring it on.

What excites you?

What excites you? What makes your lips turn into a huge smile, gives you excited flutters in your tummy, or makes you jump up and down with glee?

I remember a few years ago receiving a check in the middle of the year from the Oregon Department of Revenue. It was a good year for them and they made the decision to send refund checks for the amount they were in excess that year. When I opened the envelope and looked inside I started jumping up and down and yelling for Chris to come see. You might think based on that story that I get excited about money, and that was not the case, I was excited about the surprise of it. It was like winning a mini unexpected lottery. Who would not jump up and down?

What excites you might be the smallest thing. A few weeks ago, I was excited when I found a successful answer to a work project. It was a simple answer of switching the formula I was working on. I squealed out: “I did it!” Other times it might be a long weekend break where you are able to relax, sleep, and catch up on your life. Maybe it is hiking that mountain, crossing that finish line, or watching your child take their first step.

Whatever it is, your excitement is unique to you. The important thing is that you make sure there is excitement in your life. There needs to be days that you look within, assess, and jump for joy, whether in the large or small moments. I think I love roller coasters. I say “think” because it has been ten years since I have been to an amusement park. I am not sure I know what it is like anymore. If I am anything like my past ten years ago self, then I love the thrill of a fast-moving roller coaster. It is on my list to go to a roller coaster this year and see if they still excite me. What are you going to do this year that you have not done for a while, or ever before that excites you?

What excites you today?