Sunday, October 31, 2010

An October, Like No Other!

Today is Halloween, October 31st, the last day of the month and it will end like many others ... with candy, costumes, and many scary masks.

While similar to many other Halloweens of years gone by, this October is like no other in our lifetime. This October has five Fridays, five Saturdays, and five Sundays. The last time this occurred was 823 years ago.

While some may think that this odd occurence on the calendar will bring them good fortune, I am wondering what I will post... What has this October brought to our attention, like never before?

Cyber-bullying springs to mind as it has dominated the news throughout October. People everywhere talk about its consequences and it is clear that the bullying of 2010 is worse than a punch in the nose or snide comments I remember receiving as a youngster.

In fact, bullying this year has led to a rash of suicides and deep emotional scars, making us all wonder what can be done to turn this horror into a beneficial lesson for us all.

On this note, I turn to the Horrors of Halloween.  The world can be a scary place, especially when it is faced alone.
  • Did you know that Halloween brings terror to many young children and teens who do not fear scary monsters, squeaking doorways, or haunted houses but instead fear being left out, more than anything else?
  •  Did you know that many young people will be rejected by their peers, left behind, and have their candies taken by neighborhood bullies?
  •  Did you know that young adults often act out like monsters not to scare you, not to ruin your day, but in an attempt to be noticed?
  •  Did you know that many parents will lay awake tonight and wonder what they can possibly do to make Monday, Tuesday and all the days to follow better for their children who are less than self confident, who are not in the mainstream and often bear the brunt of insensitive remarks.
According to Dr. Cornel West, University Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University, "We have witnessed the breakdown of the social systems that nurture our children. Our rootless children… have no cultural armor to protect them while negotiating the terrors and traumas of daily life."
Dr. West tells us that young people need:
  • Families who will stand up for them;
  • A community of support to sustain them; and
  • Hope that things can be different.
So what is the answer to indifference, exclusion, and to bullying behavior?  Let me share with you responses that I have seen to bullying behavior.  I want you to know that people everywhere are confronting this issue head on and I want you to envision a brighter tomorrow.

Imagine young people being supported by a community of family members who compassionately believe in them in the most trying circumstances.  Imagine a mother acknowleging her child's weaknesses and then reaching out to other parents and asking for suggestions that can help her to help her child in finding friends.  Imagine many other mothers and fathers being sensitive and responsive to this mother's pain and sharing lessons they have learned that have fostered confidence and friendships in their childrens lives.

Imagine a church pastor who has chosen to stand up to bullying and has invited his entire congregation and the surrounding parishes to a special community seminar featuring Jodee Blanco, a nationally known anti-bullying activist and author of New York Times best selling memoir Please Stop Laughing at Me... and the newly released sequel Please Stop Laughing at Us...One Survivor's Extraordinary Quest to Prevent School Bullying.

Imagine teachers and parents working together to strengthen the victim by training targeted children to act more assertively.  Look more closely, as you see students in conflict invited to work with a trained teacher or peer-mediator to find a mutually acceptable way of resolving a dispute that may underlie the bullying behavior.

Imagine another author, Sam Horn, who saw this behavior as intolerable, years before it became national news and wrote, Take the Bully by the Horns.  Imagine reading Sam's book and sharing the contents with your family, your children and your friends and living your life with a new found confidence.

Imagine finding an author who speaks to your soul and explains serendestiny.  Watch Sam's video on serendestiny to help you honor your hunches and move your life forward.

The answer to bullying, the answer to exclusion, and the answer to complacency, can be found in activities outlined above where real people... parents, teachers, pastors, the young, the old and those somewhere in-between have come together to form relationships, foster courage and creativity.

Together, working with courage and creativity:
  • we can create relationships,
  • we can give our children a community of support,
  • we can stand up to indifference, roar for compassion and rail against exclusion.
Here's to courage. May all the Mom's In Transition out there, roar out loud! According to Dr. Cornell West, courage is contagious. Listen to his words and be empowered to toss off complacency and don your courageous attire. It's Halloween!

Known as one of America’s most gifted, provocative, and important public intellectuals, Dr. West gives us much food for thought.

October will soon be over.  What will you do to make November like no other?  What courageous act will you take to move toward a brighter tomorrow?   Please make a comment below and let me know how you intend to take the bully by the horns and believe in a ray of hope!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nourishing our Souls - Before Bed!

Life has a funny way of nourishing our souls, especially when we are least expecting it. This message came to me at the most unexpected time, just when I was getting ready to head to bed.

Today, I reached out to my friends on Facebook and asked for recommendations on blogs that made their spirits soar. I wanted to know which blogs they read and which blogs were meaningful to them. I was asking for recommendations as I am always looking for inspiration.

No replys, nothing came back, so I assumed my posting had failed. I asked my daughter to look for my earlier post and to reply if she found it. A few minutes later, I heard from her.

She did find it, she did reply, and while she did not specify which blog she liked, she did make my spririts soar with a simple message. ILY.

Before heading to bed, I decided to check Facebook, one last time. There I found a message and a blog post, that did touch my soul and warm my heart. It is from Maria Salamao-Schmidt who writes a blog post every Friday. Maria's post was heartfelt and lovingly shared with me and all her readers. I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.

I believe you will enjoy Maria's post. She is a Mama who multi-tasks, takes time to laugh at herself, and takes time to reflect! She is surely a Mama in transition and a role model and inspiration to many, including me. I am sure she will sell many books in the months ahead.

Her posting today, reminds me of a quote I read earlier in a message from Francine Allaire, Sales and Marketing Star turned Daring Entreprenuer, who reported, "Personality and Passion, not Perfection, Produces Profits."

As I head to bed and post this blog, I am still wondering...What blogger makes your heart sing? Does the blogger's message nourish your soul? Does his/her message ring true?

Please respond in the comment box below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Enjoying Everyday Wonders - The Power of Intent and Gratitude!

Seeing my smiling daughter and the Red Maple that has sprung up beneath the Azalea bush, my faith is renewed.  My heart swells with appreciation and I silently give thanks to God who always hears and responds to my heartfelt desires.  I am filled with gratitude and a sense of wonder!  Looking out, I see ample evidence of the biology of belief and the miracle of life.

Twenty plus years ago, I prayed for a blond, blue eyed daughter; fifteen years ago, God responded to my prayers and I brought this little beauty home from Latvia.  She has been a bright star in my life every day and a great reminder of the power of intent and belief.

For years I have marveled and appreciated the red leaves of fall and I have looked out my backyard window and seen primarily green and golden leaves.  Beauties of nature, but the landscape was missing the red leaves that I adored.  That is, until this Fall...

Last Mother's Day, my husband and youngest son, surprised me with a brand new Crape Myrtle.  Much to my surprise, its leaves are now turning a bright red!  Off to the left, my eye falls upon a Red Maple that has sprung up magically beneath an Azalea bush that was planted approximately 16 years ago.

My advice and expectation:

Enjoy your days and look for everyday wonders.  Focus on your blessings and share your gratitude.    When you share your joy, voice your intentions and express your heart felt desires, you can let them go and know that miracles will pop up, much like my Red Maple, my lovely daughter, Sandra, and my Daisies in the Fall.

My request:

I hope to hear about the everyday wonders in your life!  Please share!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Reason to Celebrate, A Reason to Hope and A Reason to Share!

Today is Robert’s birthday. He turned 19 today. As I contemplate his age, I realize that my youngest son is a young man! Even, more significant in many ways, he is mobile and is gaining more independence each day. He got his driver's license this morning and is now out driving on his own...behind the wheel without another licensed driver for the first time!

This is a milestone and a reason for celebration.

For years now, Robert has been responsible for maintaining our yard. He has been mowing the lawn, trimming the shrubs, power edging, spreading the mulch and planting new trees and shrubs. He has helped our neighbors with power washing and deck staining, spring and fall cleanup projects and snow removal. With his new mobility, he can now easily perform these services outside of our neighborhood and share his love of nature with those in Northern VA.

To see "Robert's yard" the fruits of his labor, and his latest venture and dream, visit Believe in a Ray of Hope website.

This milestone also brings to mind other celebrations and memories of years gone by. Flashing back, I recall, when I first learned that Robert would be joining our family. It was a sunny July 4th. The year was 1995, and yet I remember the details like it happened yesterday. To learn how this miracle unfolded, contact me and I will send you the full story.

In September 1995, Sandra and Robert joined our family and the picture above was taken in the early months. We enrolled Sandra in kindergarten and while we used our limited Latvian vocabulary, Sandra quickly picked up English and became a translator for Robert. Meanwhile, Robert quickly picked up a household broom, adopted it as his favorite toy, and has been sweeping up ever since!

Greg quickly bonded with them and they were seen as three peas in a pod. Our family, friends, and neighbors joined us in celebration. Everyone around us embraced Sandra and Robert and showered them with gifts. Within weeks of their arrival, their closets and drawers were bulging with clothes and toys.

Now, 15 years later, much has transpired. Greg has moved out, is happily managing the kitchen of an organic restaurant, has become a great cook, and is engaged to Christy. They share an old farmhouse, have planted a garden, love their Great Dane, Peyton, and plan to marry next year and begin their own business in the spring.

Sandra is in her second year of college. While attending classes full time, she is working part time, earning money, shopping, and paying off a portion of her college expenses. She is loved by the children in the neighborhood and their parents who see her as a warm loving spirit. She is highly sought after as a baby sitter and is determined to become an elementary school teacher.

Looking backwards, I realize that our lives have been tremendously enriched by their presence and through adoption. We have experienced great joy, success, pain, and frustration and we have weathered life as a family. I was naive and made many mistakes in the last 23 years as a parent, yet, I would not change my life in any way today.

Experience has been a great teacher. I have learned that transitions are seldom easy but when we can face our challenges with those we love and admire, we often find greater meaning in our lives.

While Sandra and Robert both still share the front doorway, I realize that time is marching forward and they too will be looking to venture beyond our doorsteps. Soon they will be marching out with high hopes and dreams for themselves, following in their older brother’s footsteps.

I continue to believe that our dreams and hopes will propel us to new heights and both Robert and Sandra seem to have caught the beat! What do you think?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Beginning with the End in Mind!

Finish Strong is more than a statement, it’s an attitude. When you combine the word “finish” with “strong,” you create a powerful springboard into action.

As I look back, I realize that my life has been a powerful teacher. I have learned much in living my life and my failures and disappointments have fueled my determination to succeed. I now know what works and what does not work. I know what gives me joy and I am ready to jump on the springboard into action.

If you are like me, you are ready to use your knowledge to help others and are filled with a sense of urgency. As I approach my senior years, I believe that now is the time to get going, to keep going, and to finish strong.

If you have stumbled and fallen down, I encourage you to rise again! Enjoy the short video below and be inspired to finish the year with pizzazz and gusto.

I believe you can do it! I believe you can do it better than you dreamed possible! You can do it with courage, belief and action. Take the first step now. Watch the video and then take another step toward your desired outcome.

Do not worry, if you can not see the finish line. What is your next step?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dreamin of a Day when I Will be Living Like I'm Dying!

Pulling up the weeds, tossing out the accumulated stuff that no longer interest me, I'm making room for a new way of living: I am dreaming of the day that I will be living like I'm dying!

Thinking of that day, I'm feeling a tingle run up my back. No excuses, I will put myself first and find a way to do the things that bring me joy. I will sleep until I wake, then I will jump out of bed and head for the sea shore with my camera and beach chair. I will gaze at the ocean, focus on the rising sun, see the birds feeding along the shore, relish the joy of seeing small children enjoying the sand, their buckets and shovels and take pictures of these simple pleasures.

Tucked under my arm will be a good book and my journal. I will take time to capture my joy on the printed page. I will read words of inspiration. I will doze as the sun becomes warmer and warmer. When I awake, I will pull the notecards from my bag and I will write individual notes to those who have made a difference in my life.

I will tell them specifically what makes each of them so special to me. I will write and write until I am sure that everyone in my life knows how much I appreciate them and the special gifts they have shared with me and others. As the sun sets, I will head back to my deck, drink a salty frozen margarita, gaze out toward the horizon and plot another fun filled day. That night I will drift to sleep in peace with love and appreciation in my heart.

Reading over the delicious day I look forward to enjoying someday, I wonder when I will begin. My questions continue... Why wait till I am dying to say thank you or tell another how special they are to me? Why let another day go by, without expressing my gratitude? Why let another day go by without taking time for reflection and joyful activities that bring happiness to myself and others?

Why not begin now? As the script says, I have 86,400 seconds in a day to either turn it all around or throw it all away.

What would you do if you only had 86,400 seconds left? If you are puzzled, perhaps the song below will provide a bit of inspiration...Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hey Soul Sistah, How I Love Yah!

This blog is dedicated to all my soul sistahs!

Seeing the picture below, reminded me that our fun is magnified when shared and reminded me of my first soul sistah and those that followed in her footsteps.

In looking at old photo albums, my own soul sistah and I were often pictured side by side, and were often seen sharing a lap.  She and I shared a bedroom, shared our secrets, our hopes and dreams.  When I needed a play mate, a hug, a sympathetic ear, or someone to give me a second chance, she was there.  When I could not find anything in my closet, her closet and dresser held special treasures that she was often willing to share.

When I went off to college, I sought others like her and thankfully, found them. My college days were brightened because I had a great sistah from my high school days who introduced me to a great group of fun loving gals who later became my sorority sisters. 

Being away from home, we explored unknown territories, ventured off to unfamiliar places, to fraternity houses, hung out between classes and planned parties with enthusiasm!  We shared joys, failures, successes, humiliations, disappointments, celebrations and triumps.  When I dropped out of school, it was my sorority sistahs who encouraged me to return. I grew to love these special sistahs and over the years took many of them for granted.

After college, I continued to explore and traveled throughout Europe with trusted sistahs. With unfailing support, I got married and made the transition into motherhood with my soul sistahs near my side. Somedays were bright, other days were dark, but they were always better when a soul sister was near.

As I have aged, I see that life is too short and I do not wish to wake up with regrets. So today, I intend to recognize those special sistahs in my life.  I will  hug those sistahs who have laughed with me, cried with me, encouraged me, and stood next to me even when we were miles away.

God never said life would be easy, but he did give us soul sistahs, and with these sensational sistahs next to us, life is worth living day to day!
Let's celebrate Soul Sistahs!  Let's sing tonight and expect brighter tomorrows!!