Beginning the New Year with Patience

Most of us would think that the idea of crossing a road should be pretty self-explanatory, if not, then you should have learned that as a pedestrian, crossing the road when the cars have a green light is mostly likely not a good idea. It’s actually probably a horrible idea!

Yes, of course I have a story to back up this post about crossing the road. Several days ago, while waiting for a light to turn green I noticed a woman standing at the corner ready to cross the street. Well, did she decide to cross when the pedestrian light gave her the recommendation? Nope! She decided that it would be smarter to begin crossing a busy street after my light turned green. Because of course pedestrians have the right of way, no matter what…. Nope! Wrong again! There’s a reason the pedestrian light comes on at a certain time, well because that’s the safest time to cross a busy intersection. Not only did this woman cross the road when the cars had the right of way, but she also chose to do so at a very, very, no I mean a very slow pace (age was definitely not a factor to the slowness, let’s just say it was a smartphone). I was not the only unhappy driver to say the least, but I kept my cool and sat and waited for her. Because patience is an active virtue, right?

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What’s the moral to this story? Well there is actually more than one!

The obvious one is that the woman’s inconsiderate approach and choice to ignore the rest of society functioning around her was ridiculous selfish. Who needs to watch for cars when they will watch for me, right? Wrong again!

Another lesson was the response many of the drivers wanted to relay or did display towards the woman. Yes, she was inconsiderate, but screaming at her was not moving her along any faster. Even though I was irritated, and it gave me a great topic for a blog post, it also helped me work on something that I struggle with each and every day….PATIENCE!

Patience is actually one of the most beautiful virtues, after humility! It may be an active virtue that takes some of us many years to obtain, but in this world of chaos, it is one of the most obvious. A patient person can easily be picked out of a crowd. Those are the people who find happiness in even the smallest disturbance. How beautiful! It might be a difficult virtue to teach through words, but it can be learned very easily by example. I may personally be working on this virtue of patience everyday with my four children, but I hope someday that my hard work will have taught them how to be patient and loving themselves.

Have a Blessed New Year!

 

 

 

Give a Little Love

Take a moment to smile and change the world – any small act of love. Last week I took all four children to the grocery store (I know that’s pretty crazy, right?) and typically my older two like to color pictures and give them as “gifts” to the unsuspecting check-out person. Well, at first I was irritated with myself because I chose the aisle with the crabby lady who wouldn’t crack a smile. My first thought: oh great, she’s going to ignore the pictures and the children will be upset. Note to self – address the situation later in the car. Luckily, my children didn’t notice her mood right away and enthusiastically handed her the colored pictures. The woman apprehensively grabbed the folded papers and assumed they were garbage. She was about to throw them away, but I explained the children made presents for her…and then I waited for her reaction…you will never believe it, but her entire mood changed. The lady loved the pictures and was extremely chatty and kind to the children after receiving the gifts. These little ones who were so excited to color a picture for the check-out person (even though they didn’t know her) completely turned this lady’s day around. I’m sure every nearby shopper heard my huge sigh of relief.

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This experience reaffirmed my belief that adults are jaded (yes, none of us are exempt). We rely too much on our emotions and creating lasting impressions. Adults are self-centered. We truly need to become more like little children and give ourselves completely to the happiness of others. I have heard many people question the deterioration of their own sanity by giving all of themselves to others. Let’s be honest, society constantly asks the same selfish questions day in and day out. “What have you done for yourself today?” “How will you reward yourself?” It starts again with the uncontrollable reward system. Let’s look at this from a different point of view. It’s about time that we love for the sake of loving and helping for the sake of offering unconditional love. Working together, we can create a unified community. The more love and attention I give to my children and husband, the less I focus on myself and interestingly enough, I am transported into a sublime state of happiness. My love has grown leaps and bounds for my family over the years. The more children we have, and the more I dedicate my entire being to the welfare of my family, the more I love them all. There’s an amazing never-ending supply of love. Don’t reserve that love for only close family and friends (even though they greatly deserve it), but spread it to all.

We will never regret loving another person, even if they aren’t receptive, but there will definitely be regrets if we never try. So, instead of “paying it forward” only around Christmas time or a few moments a year when social media reminds us; it’s time to give ourselves (all of ourselves) everyday. Every person deserves to be loved – family, friends, and strangers. We are social beings who desire love, so let’s unconditionally give that love, while also raising our children to do the same, because ultimately, what is life without love?

Bucket List of Unconditional Love

  •  Invite a friend/family member over for dinner who is lonely.
  • Bake your favorite cookies and drop them off at a neighbor’s house.
  • Pick a handful of flowers and visit an elderly relative.
  • Smile at a stranger everyday (you will never be happy in your own little bubble)/
  • Enjoy every  moment with your family and friends. You will never get a repeat. Those closest to us are sometimes the most difficult to love, but all the more reason to show them respect.

Living in the Moment

I’m here to let you know, that I’m all in. All in for what, you may ask? I’m all in for life, for my life! I’m very much a goal orientated person, and I thrive on a challenge and achieving the end result, but I also have a choleric temperament, so I get impatient fairly quickly. Unfortunately, this forces me to have several goals at one time, maybe too many. I’m one of those people who read 10 books at once, because they are all too enticing to not be opened immediately. Isn’t the best part of reading a book the beginning and the end? I know, I’m weird, I don’t prefer the climax… Well, I have learned that this impatient approach to the challenges of my life isn’t doing me any good and is actually inhibits me from focusing.

It was after the birth of my fourth child that I realized I could not keep running through life in circles. I needed to stop chasing “challenges” outside my everyday existence, because believe me, baby #4 was a challenge, a huge challenge! Let’s just say he loved to cry…all day long…and still does off and on. But this forced me to rethink my daily goals and to start focusing on what was in front of me. It also forced me to truly discover what I love to do in my free time, which of course there isn’t a lot of free time, so I needed to choose wisely. Not what I would love to do if I lived 30 different lives, but what could I do right now in this life. What fit best with our growing family of little ones running around. I needed to step away from my entrepreneurial goals (just for now) and relieve the unneeded stress. I needed to find moments I could enjoy with the children without worrying the laundry or dishes were not finished, yes, that’s my A-Type personality and it sure is difficult to overcome those tendencies. And after many months of turmoil, I realized, no matter how tough it was being with my overachieving 7 year old (I have no idea where she gets it…) or my preschooler and toddler who fight, or the crying baby all day long, it was the only place I wanted to be. I didn’t want anything else. It was extremely difficult for me to come to this conclusion, yet when the realization came to me, it was the easiest to accept.

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For some reason, I had spent the last several years, believing I wasn’t doing enough. I wasn’t the best wife or mother or friend or member of society. I felt that I had been given so much, so I needed to accomplish more each day, but that is so far from the truth. I can’t believe that was my thought process. I’m so happy and blessed to be a mom, and right now, at this phase is my life, that is exactly what I want to do (besides finishing my novel and a few freelance writing jobs on the side! Hey, I can’t give up all my goals – writing is where I relieve stress). Even though I may have found a balance with my family, (yes, I know, everyone is trying to find a balance, especially moms), the desire to always have a goal will never go away. So now I use my children more as my goals, then my businesses. Aren’t we all trying to raise good and efficient members of society? They are our future after all, and if we don’t invest in them, the outcome might not be so pretty.

Motherhood has allowed me to take my choleric temperament and to find my many flaws. It’s o.k. to focus solely on my children as a stay-at-home mom. This isn’t for everyone, but this is for me. I have discovered that my stress level is less, my family is happier, and I have learned to love every aspect of my life, even the crazy parts, like when someone builds a castle with all my couch cushions or the boys wrestling and break a decorative plate, but I have found that balance. It isn’t a balance where I can juggle everything, that’s a misconception. It’s a balance where I can focus on the things that are necessary at this specific phase in my life. The things that mean the most, the things that I love. Maybe it will change in the future, actually, I know it will change in the future. But I’m not looking at the future, I’m actually exhausted looking towards the future. There’s definitely a truth to only “living in the moment”. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I still have to plan for the future, but I have a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Now I can focus on the here and now. I have finally found my balance and I’m all in!

A Minimalist Season

I have a minimalist state of mind while we are living temporarily with family as we build our house. There isn’t much room for an overly decorative Christmas season this year, so I’m taking it slow and only focusing on the small things that matter. It’s all about simple living. So my goal for the month of December is to focus on giving – giving of myself, giving away things that my family doesn’t need, and giving love to others. Throughout this past year we have done a lot of purging while putting our house on the market, selling, and then moving. The most amazing lesson learned through all these crazy times is how much I don’t need on a daily basis. I have actually learned to love the small things more. Too many material items cause me anxiety. This might be since there is a ridiculous amount of items with a family of six, or maybe I’m just getting older and wiser…maybe…

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My goal may be a bit outlandish, but I hope to rid my life of the unnecessary items and keep Christmas more on a spiritual level rather than material. Honestly, the material aspect is exhausting. So here’s to a productive season of minimalism and spending time with the ones we love.

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Photo Credit: Michelle Cascio Photography

A Few Tips for a Minimalist Season of Advent.

 

1. Contemplate the Meaning of Christmas.

   This time of year isn’t only about ourselves, family, friends or even strangers. This time of year is about the birth of Christ. If we don’t focus on the Truth, then there is no purpose for this special day.

2. Simplify Your Life. 

This may include limiting your access to social media and increasing time within your day for reading, organizing, or helping others. You know better than anyone what consumes your time and yet doesn’t have much merit. Spend more time with family and friends, these are the moments that you will remember when you get older and the kids are grown. Don’t have regrets!

3. Don’t Purchase Anything You Don’t NEED!

     Yes, we know this is difficult this time of year, but our consumerism mentality is overbearing. (Maybe this is one of the reasons I cannot stand Black Friday, or Black Saturday, or Cyber Monday…) For me, it will be difficult to drive past Starbucks without a Skinny Peppermint Mocha, but instead of spending the money there, I can donate food to the local pantry or purchase gifts for families in need. That cup of Peppermint Mocha will be so much more enjoyable on December 26th by waiting!

4. Internal and External Silence.

     We all have loud, busy, chaotic schedules 12 months out of the year. Maybe these days of Advent we can occupy ourselves internally and externally with moments of silence. Take a few minutes out of each day, even 5 minutes to sit in silence. Don’t try to plan your next party, or dwell on all the gifts you have to purchase, but enjoy those moments of silence. They are more important than you realize.

5. Keep Perspective – Pay it Forward

     Charity is the highest form of respect for others. Whether you give a meal to the homeless man standing on the corner or choose to give your waiter an extra percentage of a well-earned tip, these are the moments that make living worth while, because for once you are not making it about yourself. The most important thing to remember: don’t brag about it. Once you tell the world your inner most actions, those beautiful forms of charity begin to loose bits of their luster.

Grateful Beyond Belief

Thank you! Thank you to everyone who has touched my life, even in a small way. Too often we go through life wishing for the next best thing. That’s a tendency of human nature; the grass is always greener. It’s unfortunate, because we forget to examine our current situations and the amazing gifts we have been given. With the start of summer vacation and three months of wonderful one-on-one time with the kiddos, I thought it was perfect timing to contemplate my life and those who have made an impact on me.

This morning I was in an area of the city that isn’t the best, but I saw the most beautiful thing that almost made me cry. A father was holding his child (about 4-5 months old) and wrapped in a blanket with only his face showing, because it was chilly and rainy, while the dad was carrying a large bag, it might have contained the only items they owned. I didn’t know where he was going, but he looked like he was on a mission. The father was very lovingly watching the child to make sure he was o.k., while also trying to not step in puddles and slip. This might not sound like much, but it was such a beautiful sign of love between a parent and child. A love that is missing in this world or hidden. We are so used to a love that only shows itself when it is self-serving. It didn’t matter the economic or social conditions of this child and father, because they showed enough love and trust between the two of them.

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It made me think on the drive home, through the dreary weather, that the old cliche saying is true. “All you need is love”. I know, I know, me of all people who doesn’t care for the corny quotes. But I think we all have those moments in life when everything is going wrong, we aren’t able to control or solve the problems, and have to wait for slow fixes. Then suddenly, something happens to show how each of our lives are intertwined with one another. We don’t understand it all now and won’t probably until after we die. It leaves us in a state of pure confusion, but also relief, knowing that everything has a reason and purpose. It truly does, because if it didn’t, there would be no point to any of this.
Little does this father know that by walking down the street at that exact moment would create such a profound affect on another person. With that thought in mind, our every action is an example of good or hurt. How do we want to be perceived in the world?

After these deep reflections, in a quiet car before picking up the kids from school and the start of spring break… I knew that it was time to think more of others, and less of myself, which of course is hard with our natural self tendencies. To do more for others in small ways, ways that we won’t see the effects, or be able to promote on social media, but ways that will create a better world for all. Then maybe someday, those actions will be shown to us like a puzzle, many little jumbled pieces put together to create a wonderful masterpiece.

 

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I am grateful for a lot of things in life, but I am most grateful for my life and those near to me. The life that has been given to me with all the happiness, sorrows, thrills, adventures, friendships, family, and unsolvable problems. Because without each and everyone of these bits and pieces, it would not be my life. It might not make sense when I am going through the heartache or the celebrations, but no matter the event, each and every one of them have a sincere and utterly beautiful effect on my life and I am grateful that they have helped me develop a love and trust for myself, friends, family, and my children. Because what else matters in life than love?

A Tart for All Seasons

 

On busy school nights, I love something that is easy to cook, but has great presentation. This beautiful tart came together quite nicely. The combination of tomatoes, basil, and cheese is tantalizing and is a great dinner choice for the end of fall, before the cold winter months approach. Enjoy!

Recipe Originally Posted by The Preserves Project on Her View From Home  – Savory Tomato Basil Tart

 

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The fresh basil and fresh mozzarella is a must!

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I added three eggs for an increase in protein for my three growing boys.

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