More Before

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”  ~Oprah Winfrey

Well it’s been a lot longer since my last post than I had hoped.  Summer is flying by at an alarming rate, at least it is here.  It’s scary for me to imagine that next summer we will have teenagers in the house.  I am so not ready for all of the changes that are looming ahead.  Funny, that was not an intended segue to today’s post but…

We have entered the What Are We Doing Next? Stage.

My kids are very blessed, our family is pretty big and fortunately tight knit.  We don’t just celebrate the big days, we also have a lot of random days that turn into grand adventures with various family members.  My crew LOVES traditions, so far none have been too “corny” to not continue, they are creatures of habit.  However, the new trend I’ve noticed is what I like to call the “what are we doing next?” phase and it usually happens smack dab in the middle of something we are already doing.

It’s frustrating that at times it appears they are not grateful for what they are currently doing when in reality they are.  I think they just want to have the next date lined up so there’s no uncertainty that another adventure is waiting.  However, I feel like it’s my job to bring them back to the moment that they are in.  Stop worrying about what’s next and enjoy what is right now.

And then I realized that I am a hypocrite.  I guess I have always felt that there will be time for me to be better, that when this or that happens my situation will be better and that the ripple effect with morph me into the person I really want to be.  I will be a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, granddaughter, friend, etc when the future looks a little brighter and my stress level looks a little lower.  And all of this looking ahead and behind has made me miss a lot of right now.

What I’ve failed to see is that all of the roles I listed above, I already am.  I have spent way too much time chasing the life that I want and feel my family deserves that I’ve sort of missed the moments I’ve been given.  Time is such an undervalued asset for many, myself included.  I wrote a post on Facebook awhile back about “before”.  I’m sure everyone has had something happen when you’d give anything to go back to the way things were “before”, whether it’s death, illness, poor decisions, the list is almost endless.  My point was how we should try to wrap our heads around the fact that today is a “before”.  Now that doesn’t mean tomorrow tragedy will strike but maybe it does.  Time is not guaranteed for anyone.  Today is “before”, full of opportunities like spending quality time with family, catching up with a friend, fixing a relationship that needs fixing, stepping up your game to make a difference in your community, basically it’s another endless list.

I am hard on myself, I hear it a lot.  I don’t think I’m wrong for wanting to be better but if life is grading me right now, it doesn’t care where I see myself in a year or two or ten.  It would base my grades off of today, this minute and unfortunately I’m not always in the moment.  I’ve had many experiences that I wish I had done my “before” so much better.  I hope that by writing this I will go out and live today with the full awareness I have been blessed with another “before” and I hope that many more lie ahead.

The older I get, the faster it seems time goes by.  It feels like yesterday I was nine months pregnant, holding the hands of two little boys as they waited with nervous excitement to get on the bus that would take them on a new journey, one I would not be a part of for seven hours a day.  Maybe it was hormones but I felt like that first step out of our house was when the hour hand started flying.  Well, except for that first day of kindergarten.  I was a mess all day, wandering aimlessly around the house, checking the clock every five minutes to see if it was time for them to come home.  Fast forward to now, the twins are going into 7th grade and my little one (she was born on their third day of kindergarten) is going into 2nd.  How??

Well, they aren’t in those grades yet.  I still get four more weeks of summer with them and no matter how fast it went, here we are.  Here is where we need to try to stay at all times.  It has taken too long for me to get here, I can’t keep looking back at what I could’ve changed because it’s done.  Stealing time from here and now to worry about what may happen tomorrow is time wasted.  All I can do is try to remain in my moment because I cannot control much else.

So my advice is to take five minutes and take an assessment of how you’re spending your time and who you spend it with.  Then ask yourself if you are happy with your status quo and if not, make the changes needed immediately.  You are paying your most prized possession for it, time.  Could it be better spent elsewhere??

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“Not A Memo, A Mission Statement”

“Every single time you help somebody stand up, you are helping humanity rise.”

~ Steve Maraboli

If the title sounds familiar but you can’t place it, it’s from Jerry Maguire.  A mission statement is a suggestion for the future and Jerry sent one out to his coworkers about how he was tired of the status quo.  He wanted his industry to go back to a time when personal relationships with clients was more important than money.

If ever our world needed a mission statement, it is right now.  What we are accepting as the status quo is disturbing.  It is time for all of us to start working towards a brighter future for everyone.  Even the smallest act of kindness can create a ripple effect.  I am on a mission with The Empowerment Perspective Group and our goal is to empower people from all walks of life.  All I want to know is…”Who’s coming with me?”

Just kidding!  Well, sort of.  We should all be looking for ways that we can help others.  There are signs out there to lead you to your mission, all you have to do is pay attention.  Here’s my story that just happened a week ago.

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason.  I rejoined my podcast partners and we did our first show on the radio last Saturday.  When Kareem arrived, two men got out of a car that pulled in behind him.  I thought they were guests that he had planned to have on the show.  And they were, it just wasn’t planned.

He had stopped at a store to pick up a few things and as he was leaving, he saw these two men in the parking lot.  At first he thought that they were selling something but he quickly learned that they were part of a local church that set up out there every so often to hand out donations they had to those that are struggling within the community.  He asked them if they wanted to jump on the radio with us and they agreed.  I’ll attach the link to the show at the end of this blog.  (We’re open to feedback.)

Pastor Robinson talked about how important it is for his ministry to live in faith not only inside his church but outside its four walls.  That is why he and Buster, a member of his church, were in that parking lot.  They were practicing what they preach.  Pastor Robinson also mentioned he frequently gets asked how much it costs to do this and he loves that question because his response is always “Jesus paid for it”.

Talk about men on a mission.

I think of myself as a charitable person but if I’m being honest, there is so much more I can be doing for others.  There are so many people out there that are hurting.  While physical or monetary donations are always needed, many just need to know that they are loved and they are worthy of that love.

A lot has happened this past week.  My mind is on overdrive, we’ve come so far and yet it feels like progress has stalled and to some extents even taken steps back.  I typed several posts this week without publishing one because I couldn’t decide which was most important.  The common thread in all of them was we as a people need to start doing a better job.  So I decided to publish this, inspired by two men who are actively showing love to a community that desperately needs it.

If the leaders of our country aren’t going to step up then it’s time for the people of this nation to show them that we can lift this country up on our own.  But how?  Well, if I had all the answers I’d gladly share them.  I think a good place to start is to pray and He will guide you to your mission.  I believe in God and I know that His plans don’t always align with mine, but I know whose plans are right.  We need to start looking for and listening to the signs that are placed in front of us and take action.

Taking action is where I tend to struggle personally.  I have ideas going in and out so fast that if I don’t write something down, chances are I will forget about it.  I have sat on the sidelines too long, making lists of all the things that I could do but I never do.  That chapter is officially closed.  I don’t believe it was just a coincidence that Kareem brought Pastor Robinson and Buster to the radio station last Saturday.  Like I said, He gives you signs each and every day, it’s up to you to pay attention.

I got His message and I accept His mission.  Stay tuned.

Here’s the link to our first radio broadcast:  http://www.theempowermentperspective.com/podcast

Are You Hungry?

“You gotta be HUNGRY!”

~ Les Brown

A few days ago I wrote about being a bandwagon fan of the Philadelphia 76ers and I still am.  I also wrote about hope and that no matter how much remains, a little can go a long way.  The day I wrote that post, the Sixers won that night and avoided being swept by the Boston Celtics.

I watched Game 5 with my son, one of the few people that truly believed with all his heart that his team was going to comeback from a devastating deficit.  Unfortunately it didn’t go our way and the Sixers season ended that night.  My son was extremely frustrated and kicked something as he went stomping up the steps to bed.  I’d like to say I was upset but I was a little proud that he graduated to a full fledged Philadelphia sports fan.  But I am a mom first and kicking things are frowned upon.  As I was locking up for the night, he reappeared with tears in his eyes and was completely heartbroken.  He ran into my arms and clung to me for a few solid minutes.  Passion can take you on a roller coaster of emotions and he quickly went from anger to sadness.  He really believed they were destined to do the impossible.  So we ended up having a good heart to heart even though it was way past our bedtimes.

I tend to look for lessons in the strangest situations but most of them come from sports since I’m an avid fan.  The following is what I posted on Facebook after the Super Bowl and what I hope my kids or any kids could take from the 2017-18 Philadelphia EAGLES and what they were able to do:

~ It’s a TEAM effort, you learn your role and you do your best each and every play. It’s not about your individual stats, it’s about the team.

~ That a back up player is just as important as a starter, next man up.

~ You play just as hard the last 5 minutes as you do the first 5.

~ Have fun, stay loose, ignore the outside noise.

~ There will ALWAYS be people that’ll say you can’t win, that you’re the underdog. Prove them wrong.

~ When you do lose, be a good sport. Don’t sulk, do not walk off a field without shaking hands.

~ When you’re wife tells you to retire after making a comeback to win your 5th ring, listen to her.  (Tom Brady and Giselle after the Super Bowl the year before)

So here is the highlight reel from the conversation I had with my son after the Sixers loss:

~ “Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was built daily.”  One of my favorite quotes.

~ Talent alone will not get you where you want to go.  You must surround yourself with like-minded people, people that have the same passion you do, people with the same work ethic as you.  That is when the magic happens.  The Sixers have this, they just need time.

~ FAIL FORWARD! Failure can define you one of two ways.  It can knock you down hard, out of nowhere and you can choose to remain down, defeated.  OR it will instill a hunger in you that will only be satisfied when you achieve your goals.  It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, the hunger will make you stand back up, ready to try again.  Failure can be a beautiful thing once the initial pain subsides.  The pang of hunger will strike and it will grow stronger until you finish the job you started, it doesn’t care how long it takes.  Stay HUNGRY!

~ It stinks when your team loses.  Any Phillies fan will tell you that hearing the name Joe Carter still stings.  At the end of the day, these talented young men are playing a game and getting paid very well for their efforts.  They have passion for what they do but they are paid to entertain the fans.  After a tough loss, they go back to a fancy hotel and cry into a plush pillow.  They will be ok and so will we.  There are real problems in the world, sports allow us to take a break from them.  We have to remember that it’s just a game.  Keep your perspective in check.

~ A real fan will stick by their team through good times and bad.  Fair-weather fans come and go.  In life there are times when it’s easier to join the masses even if we don’t agree with them, rather than stand up for what is right because you stand alone.  Don’t ever switch teams because it’s easier to like the one that’s winning.  Loyalty will take you far in life.

~ The Sixers are a young, talented team, so are the Boston Celtics.  We could be on the verge of another Philly/Boston rivalry which are always fun in sports.  When your team plays against a team you hate, you make sure you’re watching that game because the players and the fans take it to the next level.  Again, in life you get better by playing or working with people that are better than you.  They will push you and make you step up your game.  Do not be afraid, be ready because it will be the best learning experience you’ll ever get.

~ You can be sad they lost.  You can be mad they lost.  But tomorrow they are still your squad. Make sure you always represent…

CONNOR

 

This is my boy waiting for the bus the day after the loss.  A true fan has been born and I hope that he takes a few of my “lame mom lessons” and uses them to become a better player because he’s already a great kid.

We can achieve anything that we set our minds to but we have to be HUNGRY.  Nothing worth having ever comes easy.  Put in the work, follow your dream and let your failures feed your hunger.

I’m A Bandwagon Fan

“Great moments… are born from great opportunity. And that’s what you have here, tonight, boys. That’s what you’ve earned here tonight. One game.”

~ Herb Brooks (excerpt from speech to Men’s US Hockey Team)

I am a die-hard Eagles fan and I love the Phillies and the Flyers.  I just never really got into basketball.  I have watched the 76ers here and there, I even watched the playoff run to the Finals in 2001 but I am not technically a fan.

So it makes sense that my sons hated playing baseball, have little interest in football and instead, discovered a love of basketball.  In fact, my son Connor has fully immersed himself into the sport and culture of the game and I love it.  Therefor, I have watched and cheered for the Sixers this year.  It just so happens to be the best season they’ve had in a very long time, hence my bandwagon status.

In a matter of days, sports analysts from across the nation went from labeling this team a group of talented young men that will be a force next season to a team that will win the conference now.  Nothing like a little extra pressure for an inexperienced group of players.  Making it through the first Round, they find themselves behind 3-0 in Round 2.  After the third loss my husband said it was over, there is no hope.  No team in NBA history has come back to win a seven game series after being down 3-0.  Even I am guilty of saying that they couldn’t win a Game 7 situation in Boston.  Then I looked at Connor and his face nearly broke my heart.

He wasn’t defeated.  He hadn’t given up on his team yet.  I was so mad at myself and my husband because we had taken whatever hope he had left and deflated it.  I just experienced my Cinderella story with my beloved EAGLES only months ago.  I felt like I was punched in the stomach when words like ACL tear and 12 month recovery were tossed around Week 12 of an unbelievable season.  I was about 80% defeated.  I liked Nick Foles but I wasn’t sure he would be able to put the weight of this season on his shoulders.  Not only did he pull his weight, everyone on that team believed in him and each other and they took down a dynasty (I’d use that term that describes a farm animal that BAAAs but I can’t).  So why can’t the Sixers do the same?

They can.  Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean it won’t happen or can’t.  I’ve never heard a version of a Cinderella story that started with Cinderella wearing Louboutin heels and couture gowns.  In the beginning she’s in rags, working hard and given no love.  But she never lost her faith and she was rewarded for it.

In sports, we never realize that we’re witnessing a Cinderella story until we’re close to the end.  No one would’ve called September 2017 Chapter 1 of the Eagles story because there was nothing extraordinary about it.  In hindsight, I would start their story on April 27, 2017 because Philadelphia hosted the NFL Draft on the steps of the Art Museum and I would finish their story on those same steps, February 6, 2018 when the Lombardi Trophy was hoisted by our Super Bowl Champs.

The odds are against the 76ers in this series, we can all see that.  But can we all admit that no matter how slight it may appear, there is still hope.  We don’t know what Chapter this is but it could turn out to be a great one.

So this bandwagon fan is going all out for this team tonight.  We are going to watch every game like it’s going to be the next great chapter in their story.  And I will do my best to show my kids that nothing is ever impossible just because no one has ever accomplished it before.  Anything is possible, you just have to believe.

GO SIXERS!!!

 

Failure is guaranteed when you fail to execute

“I don’t regret the things I’ve done, I regret the things I didn’t do when I had the chance.”

~Author Unknown

Today I am able and I’ve always lived under the impression that I will be again tomorrow.  I’ve had several heartbreaking lessons in my life that taught me tomorrow is never promised.  So why do I always put things off that I am able to do today?

I can give you my list of excuses, it’s grown quite long over the years.  However, my list isn’t special, it’s actually pathetic.  I have my family, my health, good friends, a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes, etc.  I know how lucky I am, even when I throw myself the occasional pity party.

But lately I’ve changed the theme of my party from pity to pissed off.  I am mad at myself because I have let this list of non-excuses hold me back from trying new things.  The times I have made an attempt, this list has convinced me to quit.  For example, this site was created in June of 2017 and it is now April 2018.  It has taken me close to a year to publish my first entry.  I have typed and deleted more times then I’d like to admit.  One of my many flaws is that I feel that in order for me to do something, I have to know everything about the topic.  I read a bunch of information, watch a lot of videos or tutorials, write down a ton of notes and ideas, and then realize that I’m overwhelmed so I stop.  My life is far from perfect.  I am far from perfect and I’m fine with that.  That’s why I can’t understand this mental block I have that doesn’t allow me to move forward with things that I really feel passionately about.  I don’t expect perfection from anyone else, especially those in the beginning stages of a new journey.  I just like to hate on myself.

Around this time last year, someone reached out to me with an idea and asked if I would be interested in working with him on a podcast.  My initial reaction was no.  Public speaking is a big fear of mine, one I didn’t think I could overcome.  So I said yes.  He told me to take a few days and think it over but I said I didn’t need it, my answer was yes.  I would love to say that I was 100% confident this was for me and the opportunity squashed any doubts I may have had in the past.  The reality was that the fear was still there but if I got off of that call and took time to think about it, I would have talked myself out of even trying.  I would have failed at something without even attempting it.  That first recording was rough but I survived.  By the third or fourth episode I may have even improved slightly.  The most important thing to me was that I loved what we were putting out there and whether or not I was always coherent didn’t really matter.  I had finally pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

I thought that breaking out of my comfort zone would release the self-doubt and fears but it didn’t.  The podcast was picking up pace which was the goal but it started moving way faster than I anticipated and more people jumped on board.  So I unintentionally let fear take over again.  This time I felt inadequate and that my limited availability wasn’t fair to the rest of the crew.  So I pulled back.  Are you sensing a theme here?

This is why I can’t have nice things!  I get in my own way.  I overthink things and I put too much thought into what other people think.  I’ve had a few people tell me to write over the last few years and I thought they were just being nice.  I struggle with compliments because all I see are the imperfections.  As I muddled through this setback I realized that it’s the imperfections in others that I love the most about them.  Life’s imperfections make the best stories and memories.  If I’ve learned one thing as a mom, it’s that the best laid plans are just plans at best.  Nothing ever goes the way you planned it and it’s those detours that make life fun and interesting.  I’m starting to believe that perfection could possibly be boring.

So if I am a self-proclaimed disaster and perfection makes for a mundane life, then maybe, just maybe I can do anything or at least attempt it without the fear of what others may think.  If I fail, then I fail.  But I will never look back and say that I wish I would’ve just gone for it.

No more typing and erasing.  No more second guessing myself and the voice that I want to share.  No more worrying about what others may think or say.  No more standing in my own way.