Savouring Saturdays & Leaps for Freedom

On any given week our household is chaos at its finest.  Amid homework a plenty and the lives of three adults and two teenagers, we’re a lucky bunch if we can squander up a simple, “Hey” between bites of food as we desperately try to feed a hungry stomach and continue on our way.  This kind of chaos can certainly take its toll on a family who has dedicated itself to stay close and deep rooted in that which brought us all here—each other; so although the Monday to Friday workweek has us moving in high gear- our weekends are dedicated to nothing more than a screeching halt—a few days  to slow down, reconnect, relax and rejuvenate before we ramp back up into full gear come Monday.  My brother especially adores his Saturday like no one I’ve ever known.  It’s his well deserved day to relax after the chaos of our lives serves him an unsurpassed amount of stress, 5 hours of sleep a night, and twin 16 year old daughters.
It was one of those Saturdays which had a spark about it—the kind of day where the chaos halted magnificently.  My sister and I sat painting on the deck, as my brother sat and chatted for a bit before lighting the barbeque for our family dinner.  Unforgettable.  This was the kind of Saturday my brothers dreams were made of—the kind of Saturday we call those “little house on the prairie” moments—where the wholesome calm swirls through the air in a way that almost seems too true to be real.

My brother was ready to preheat the barbeque as my sister and I finished up our art.  Twisting the nozzle to release the propane he lit the barbeque, leaving the lid shut for a moment or two as he reached down for brush to clean the grill.  Soon the smell of freshly cooked barbeque would be swirling through the neighborhood; peaking the curiosity of our neighbor’s noses.  Peace, rest, and calm swirled through the air dancing with the charred smell of the last meal cooked on the grill, as the flames flickered up and the heat began to rise. 

As he opened the lid, to brush the grates clean, his peace came to a screeching halt as a four legged long tailed whisker ridden critter jumped out of the barbeque to escape the blaze.  Profanity shot out of my brothers mouth faster than a smoking rodent flees a fire, and just as quickly, the resting, relaxation and rejuvenation turned swiftly into rambling and ranting—much like you may have remembered when he was met these little dudes.
My sister held her hand over her mouth as her desperate attempts to silence her laughter were overcome by the snickers and cackles oozing from her cheeks.  It was pure panic stemming from an unmistakable, unimaginable, undeniable fear of mice and the realization that this fearsome fiery little critter had invaded his Saturday in an unforgettable way.

As a frightened frazzled brother of mine retreated to the house for safety, I scooped up the shattered pieces of his Saturday, and followed him inside—dedicating myself to spend our Sunday sleuthing out the yard to find any little home where the critters might be dwelling and anything it would take to let him reclaim our yard.
That Saturday, and the next few weekends relaxation was replaced with responsibilities, reassurance, and rodent control. The yard was transformed as we cleaned, baited, sprayed and de-cluttered our way to what we hope to be a mouse free territory, and what i can only hope will one day be a brother who will reclaim the barbeque that I’ve temporarily come to call my own.

While the peace and quiet weren’t on the menu that day, the flying flaming mouse who swirled through the air made way for this little sis to step up and give back the caring and comfort that big brother has given me time and time again.  Perhaps dodging a flaming rodent isn’t an ideal way to spend ones weekend, but I’d give up my rest and relaxation in a heartbeat, to give back to my brother who has given so much to me.  

Ten Dollar and Ninety Nine Cent Deflated Dreams

As I rounded the corner from the cookie isle in the supermarket that day, I happily bounced my pounds over to the exercise gear, looking for my next quick-fix weight loss miracle in a box. My criteria were simple—if it was cheap and looked easy I was sold. It was then that it caught my eye—the bargain bin yoga ball complete with hand pump.

Who would have thought my weight problems would be solved for $10.99 marked down from $20?

I  tossed the box into my shopping cart and cringed as it bounced off my barbeque chips crushing the bag, before nestling itself between my bag of double stuffed Oreo cookies and my case of diet Pepsi. After replacing my bag of chips and checking out, I hit the drive thru for a double cheeseburger and large fries and then headed home to begin my weight loss journey—convinced that I had found the answer to my never ending weight woes.

Sweat beaded and dripped of my forehead as I pumped up the ball. I secretly prayed that the exercise wouldn’t be as much a challenge as the set up. I had seen girls at the gym lying with their backs arched across these things, doing crunches with all their might, but after about 5 minutes, the only crunch I was interested was coming from the potato chips in my kitchen that had began calling out my name. It was then that I decided I was due for a break- perhaps there would be some tips and tricks in the pamphlet that came in the box.

Twenty minutes and a half a bag of chips later, I was devastated to learn through my search for tips and tricks, that my body weight exceeded the maximum allowable capacity for safe “operation” of my newly acquired exercise tool. I was too fat for my exercise ball. I was crushed at the idea that my ten dollar and ninety-nine cent dreams had been deflated by my own mass as each crunch would leave me teetering on the brink of lying flat on my back in a wasteland of busted rubber and my own low self esteem. And so, as I always did when faced with the embarrassment of my weight, I laughed it off and added the ball to the growing collection of exercise equipment in my closet—where it would never again see the light of day.

My weight loss woes have mirrored many of the challenges I’ve faced in my day to day life. When push comes to shove, I’ve had the tendency to always become my own biggest obstacle—not in a deflated yoga ball sense of the term, but in a hopelessly afraid to face reality sense of the term.

For far too many years I thought if I bought the right product, talked the right talk, and had the best intentions despite zero action- I would miraculously become the unattainable, idealistic self imposed criteria of a “Me” I had always hoped for—which created a painful cycle of self hatred and reluctance to seek out meaningful realistic change—a cycle that lasted for years. I was the quintessential excuse girl, the queen of justification; I was lost in a world where I was exerting more time and effort trying to find the perfect Quick-fix, then even a realistic and patient approach would have taken.

Deflated by continued failures, I was crushed as my quick fixes and excuses left me continually teetering on the brink of laying flat on my back in a heap of failure and low self esteem.

Just the other day my brother and I were discussing some changes I was hoping to pursue. Real changes. Meaningful changes. Not 10.99 closet clutter, failure inducing, low self esteem garnering, give up after a day and a half changes—but real, thought out, planned, patient, long-term change. As we discussed the pros and cons, the up and downs and the variables included, he asked me why I hadn’t decided to do this before. My response to him was simple, and one of the hardest things to admit to myself, let alone someone else.

I was too afraid to fail.

My brothers response was simple yet brilliant as it always tends to be, “Well if you haven’t tried- you’ve already Failed.”

If you want to win a sprint, you’ve got to run with all your might.

I’d never even really shown up to the race at all.

Being the excuse girl—the action-less quick fix, talk the talk without walking the walk girl was not born out of laziness—it was built out of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the idea that perhaps the weight of the world would be more then I could handle and my own personal strength, endurance, and will power, be it physical, mental or emotional, would be much akin to that body ball ready to burst and deflate me at any moment.

If I never REALLY tried, I could never REALLY fail… except I already had. Until now.

So as I round the corner into the next step in my life, My criteria is simple, I'm going to give it all I’ve got—despite where the outcome may lead. Let fear run my race? Not a chance- not when I teetering on the brink of seeing my goals take root, and a finish line in site.

Everything I Never Knew I Always Wanted

Working in an airport each and every day—in a job that involves some travel, there are times when the exhilaration of travel, and the emotions that accompany it; the excitement of leaving, the thrill of the flight, and the peaceful closure of a safe return start to lose their impact. Long flights on business become airborne naptimes and temporary workstations, hotel rooms begin blur together and the novelty of a free bag of mini pretzels with a thimble sized coffee start to wear off.

While once upon a time I was excited for the opportunities to travel that accompany my job, these things that so many glean excitement format times have become the status quo, the norm—just another part of the daily grind. As I stepped off the plane that day I breathed a sigh of relief. Home was less than an hour away and with my feet planted on solid ground after a turbulent flight, I was glad to be back.

Another trip for the books, another safe return home, another step out onto the escalator that would descend me to the baggage claim area as I scanned the crowds of eager faces that beamed with anticipation of the arrival or return of a loved one. As my eyes danced across the crowds of folks with excitement painted across their faces—an unusual sight caught my gaze. For the first time in almost eight years and countless trips down that same escalator I was met with four pairs of eyes fixated on me, two excited teens who jumped, pointed, and waved and one extra large black coffee in my brothers hand with my name written all over it.

I was one of the travelers I’d always envied in secret—a traveler who arrived to faces that beamed with anticipation of my return- an excitement I'd yet to encounter in my travels. I've often heard the phrase, “You don't know what you've got ‘til it’s gone” and while all too true, I'm much more a fan of the phrase "It’s everything I never knew I always wanted."

Translation—this is me. Here. Now. Appreciating what I have rather then relying on 20/20 hindsight to appreciate what I had. Whether or not it’s something I’ve asked for; right here, right now, life has something positive to offer me. If I can just brush aside the negatives and move beyond my annoyances, I can see the beauty of life for what it is.

Its not about blind optimism or maintaining a positive disposition at all costs—its about living in the moment and embracing the moments that will one day be some of my fondest memories, big or small, while I still have them in my grasp— when they are real, tangible.

Hindsight is 20/20 for me because it’s easy. Discovering my appreciation for something when I've lost it has been unavoidable—and often quite simply regret. Learning to see the beauty in the moment, Right here and now, takes work, cognizant effort, diligence, patience, and acceptance.

I will never proclaim to be the master of all things “here and now”—It’s a work in progress—but I know without a doubt that I’ve spent far to many of my nearly 28 years on this planet failing to appreciate what I had—failing to recognize the positives that life was offering me until I was seeing them fade away into the distance in the rearview mirror.

I'd be lying if I said I don't have my own miserable, sad, grumpy moments- or my own miserable sad and grumpy weeks but despite these things there are lessons to be learned, relationships to cultivate, and things we can all be grateful for.

As the airport became the only thing in the rearview mirror that day I could have focused on the fact that I was gone from my family, that my workload for the next few days had doubled in my absence or that I would be back at that airport in my office in less than 8 hours. I could have easily let the stress and fatigue of travel, my turbulent flight and the fact that this was the first decent cup of coffee I’d had in three days get to me; but as we drove home from the airport - the car buzzing with chatter and excitement as the five of us simultaneously attempted to fill each other in on the every detail of the last few days, I savored my first amazing coffee, immersed in the chatter and buzz, and allowed myself to be present in the positives that that very moment had to offer.

Rather then letting that moment slip through my grasp to be left in the dust as a memory, I embraced the coffee, the buzz, ,the chatter and the return home to an excited family—realizing that right there—that moment, was everything I never knew I always wanted.

Sunrise Skyline

Every Day is the beginning of something new.  Imagine how many new beginnings exist on that skyline.

Six Minute Frozen Lake

I created this while showing my brother the art program ive been using.  as i whipped through the in's and out's I ended up creating something I was fond of.  So here is my 6 minute piece.

2am North

My first attempt at "Layering" using Digital Art as my medium.

What do you See?

I've yet to find two identical answers to the question of what you see in this peice of digital abstract art i created.

What do you See?