Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New school days, change and do-overs

I had the distinct joy of watching my girls go back to school this week. Avery is starting second grade and Lily is making the big transition to middle school (gulp.) Gulp for me not for her. She is thrilled, ready for the challenge and only a bit nervous. I was the one with tears in my eyes as the bus pulled away. Thank God she did not see the tears..it was bad enough that I waved goodbye to her through the bus window. Parental displays of emotion are not very cool to the 6th grade set.

We have shopped for binders, pens, crayons, pencils...etc and the always sought after needed hand sanitizer and kleenex for the classroom. Everything, even the new sneakers are shiny and new. After the sticker shock; I got a kick out of watching my kids sort, stack, decorate and organize their supplies. Everything is exciting and different - new teachers, routines, subjects, stuff to learn, classmates and as in Lily's case - a new school.

I started thinking that there was a certain peace and even beauty in this process. A clean slate...every year. Of course, transcripts and reputation follow a student, but there is a tremendous opportunity to start fresh.

What if life had "do-overs" like this? A chance every once in a while to really start fresh. Not New Year's Eve new with resolutions that often don't make it past the champagne toast, but real opportunities to try on new skills, new stuff to learn and altered routines. In the case of our kids, this annual process is just how things work. As adults, we get into ruts, limited thinking and self doubt resulting in fear of change. Imagine if every year or two, we adults changed jobs or workplaces, learned new skills, made new friends and had a chance for a "do-over."

Hmmm, makes me wonder if once again - I have something to learn from my kids!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

creation, discovery or both?

Are we here to find ourselves or invent ourselves, find our purpose or create it, discovery or creation? So many of the wonderful texts that I have read on spiritual development, living your life on purpose and fulfillment seem to be at least on the suface at cross purposes on this question. On the one hand, I am encouraged to stop, breathe, relax, let it flow, meditate, dream, visualize, manage my thoughts and imagine. On the other hand, I am here to create and to manifest my reality and myself. I am a co-creator with God..capable of calling on the depth and width of the universe to improve my reality. Use your talents, fulfull your passion, your gifts and your desires to fill your life. As a magnet on my refrigerator says "life is not about finding yourself, but about creating yourself."

So which is it - create or discover..or a bit of both? I will admit that my natural tendencies used to be toward action and movement. The acts of introspection and discovery were challenging at first when I wanted to just get cracking and make it happen. Now, I have discovered the fun of peeling back the layers of life and of myself and revel in the aha moments - now a joyous part of my life. To dream about what might be possible, remember what brings me passion and happiness, visualizing my opportunities are all second nature now. So how do I make it all happen..is it time to step up and re-engage the creation portion of the equation? Have I gone so far to the dreaming side of the process, that I need to take more action? When do you let it flow and when do you act?

Perhaps life is about both - discovery/dreaming and creation/manifestation. Maybe, the first step is to spend the time and mental, emotional and spiritual energy to dream, visualize and discover one's passion, dreams, long forgotten talents and true soul's purpose. Step two is action - the creation and manifestation of those dreams and desires. The process is fluid, continual and never ending... The rub, I think- where we get screwed up - is in making sure thsat step one and two are in sync. Is what you are trying to create and bring into your life in alignment with step one? Will your actions and efforts to create, develop or build result in bringing to life your dreams, desires and life's purpose.

Writing seems like the perfect example. To tell a story, you need to dream, think, imagine the characters, do the research, let the story flow into and or through you. You also have to do the work- schedule the time in front of the computer, write, get the words on paper, edit, re-write, read, re-write again and make it happen. The process requires the whole equation.

When step one and two are in sync- life seems smoother, as though it has purpose and rhythm. You are more peaceful and content and full. Life doesn't seem to be so much about seeking, trying to make things fit that don't or looking for what's missing. Life seems fuller, more peaceful and on track. I have been on both sides of this equation at different phases of my life. Time to take a look at where I am now and celebrate both discovery and creation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Be it ever so humble...home sweet home

One of the benefits of frequent travel for work is the joy of coming home. I don't just mean the sweet relief of landing at the Atlanta airport- side note, flying home to Altanta on Friday afternoon/evening-forget about it! I mean the welcoming comfort of your home, your own space.

My home has a laundry list of needed repairs and home improvement from the cosmetic (paint, tile to be put in place) to the more urgent (gutters need replaced, basement water damage, stupid ants- sorry my Buddhist tendencies only go so far.) Lets not even get started on the backyard and unfinished laundry room. It is enough for several HGTV shows and a fantasy come true for a diehard do it yourself home improvement fan. Some of the work is a hold over from my long ended marriage (ex was a contractor) and some of it is just the wear and tear of owning a 25 plus year old house. So the complaining is finished, the point of this rambling is actually that there is still no place like home.

When I divorced, I kept the house and all related debt for several reasons. I live in an amazing neighborhood with neighbors who are like family and friends who actually support and care for one another. I also wanted to give my daughters who were quite young at the time - 2 and 6 - the sense of stability that remaining in their home would bring them. With the subsequent housing bust - this may not have been the smartest financial move of my life. But it felt right and still does. Like so many, I will not be moving anytime soon- in the current market with what I would need to invest in the house to fix it up to sell - I would owe more than I would make.

I love making a house a home and have had the incredible fortune of being able to open whatever home I have lived in at the time to friends and family when they needed a place to stay. I have been blessed in that way. Makes me realize that a home is so much more than an investment or a project. I am truly lucky to have a place to go home to at all.

Even with all of the work my house needs, it is still mine (OK I share that ownership with Citimortgage) and my kids. It is still the place in which we laugh, cook, eat, sleep, celebrate, play and disagree. Even Lily, who has many opinions about what needs to be done (new deck doors, yard is embarrassing, pressure wash needed, paint, rug in family room) looks forward to getting back home after being away.

So there is no place like home sweet home. I celebrate you - my leaky, work in progress and realize that I am blessed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Flexiblity = Balance?

August is going to be a crazy, busy month..one that on paper may stretch and pull my work/life/mommy balance in new directions. I have quite a bit of required work travel, primarily to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer kick-off breakfasts and then conducting post breakfast trainings in those locations throughout our Division -Raleigh, Baltimore, Wilmington, Richmond... The good news is that I love to facilitate and train. It is my absolute favorite component of the job. In fact, I would love to train, faciliate, write and coach full time.

The challenging news is that the dates of some of the travel coincide with some key times for my children - school open houses and first days. I should, according to the calendar, be in DC on August 23 - but that is Lily's 1st day of middle school and I can't miss that experience. She will need my attention and love more than ever in the coming years. Fortunately, an amazing colleague is going to fill in that day for me. Add in the following: back to school shopping, bus schedules, after school child care arrangements for Avery (still not firmed up - yikes), the usual cleaning, laundry, cooking, exercise and the myriad of needed home repairs/work that seem to be adding up daily and I may laugh hyserically..or cry.

The month will require flying out in the evening after open houses, same day early morning travels, calling upon my friends and sister for help with childcare and just dealing with it.

Flexibility will be key...from me, my kids and hopefully my colleagues. The push/pull is that as a single parent; I need to be here for my kids and I am also the breadwinner. So being here for my kids also means making money to take care of them and provide them what they need to thrive and grow. At this point in time, that means a job with a tough commute and travel. I also enjoy the intellectual stimulation and growth my career provides. Fortunately, I have great kids who go with the flow, pitch in to help and seem to appreciate what it takes.

So flexibility and a few deep breaths here and there will help make it work.