Monday, April 8, 2013

Taking Ordinary to Extraordinary: the Painful Way

Today I went into the file where we keep all our important papers so I could get Juliet's Birth Certificate.  As I held the Birth Certificate in my hand, I gently touched the lower left hand stain.  To an untrained eye, it may look like a simple dirt smudge, but to me it brought back so many emotions.  You see, this grey area is actually a scar on this paper.  The paper never felt pain, but we carried the pain for it.  This scar was a result of this paper sitting in an inferno for better than 24 hours as our home burned down in 2001.  That inferno stole most everything from us - our clothes, shoes, food, beds, and even sense of reality.  It ripped from us 99.9% of everything we owned - minus a few miracles: this beautiful Birth Certificate and some beloved photographs.

Time has healed our painful wounds, and new shoes and clothes were purchased to replace all those that were lost, but we also carry scars like that Birth Certificate belonging to Juliet. Our scars aren't grey singes located on our bodies, but rather something unseen by mere human eyes forever changed within our souls.  This event made our little, simple, ordinary family - extraordinary.   A day never closes without us sharing our love for each other, we treasure our family time, I take way too many pictures, and simple things are greatly appreciated - like being genuinely grateful to see a house standing when returning from a vacation.  That isn't even taking into account that my business is now helping others find their true treasures while clearing out the clutter in their own lives.

I had to replace Scott and my Birth Certificate and Dylan of course has a brand new Birth Certificate - as he was born well after the fire in 2003.  I also had to order new Social Security cards, Marriage License, etc. Now, all the papers are stored in a safe location, and each carry a very important purpose - but no paper is more special that that Birth Certificate with the grey scar on the bottom of the left hand corner.

I could have replaced Juliet's Birth Certificate many years ago.  She could have a crisp white one like her brother's, unscathed with no scars to speak of anywhere.  But, much like our own life's journey, it is not about remaining crispy white; each wound has a purpose - to teach and to change.  Life would be glorious without pain and loss, or would it?  From deaths, miscarriage, and our fire, I have learned empathy - pain has been an incredible teacher. 

Someday when I am long gone, I hope Juliet can still treasure that Birth Certificate with the grey scar on the bottom of the left hand corner, and appreciate that through our loss - we were forever changed.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year's Resolutions No More!

Five years ago my sister and I wrote down our resolutions and sealed them in an envelope.  We decided to open them at the end of 2007 and bask in the glory of resolutions achieved.  That 2007 celebration never did take place, and we never attempted to do that again! The problem is, I wrote down the same resolutions as I have every year…without truly examining why I always failed to achieve most resolutions in the past.  The larger problem is not the topic of each resolution, but what success in each resolution actually meant.  A common resolution for me was exercise more.  “Exercise more” is not a clear enough definition to truly be a goal for me.  And then other years when I broke the goal into “exercise 5 times a week” I would find myself doing well at first and then some event would take place, I would get off track and would realize that success in “exercising 5 times a week” was already not an option anymore…and quit. 

My senior year in high school, my group of friends and I got together and created a must-do list for ourselves.  Some were little things, like drink a “Yoo-Hoo”, and others were a little trickier for some: getting kissed on the high jump mat on the track field.  We vowed at the beginning of the year that all 20+ tasks would be achieved by graduation.  It made the year so fulfilling by checking off task after task.  No, I never did get kissed on the high jump mat on the track field, but I look back over twenty years ago and can clearly remember so many of these other little achievements.  It made the year so memorable.  

Last year I decided to take my senior checklist to the next level.  Create a list of the little things that I could do throughout the year that would make 2012 memorable.  The items on my list did not require a lot of time or money; most required very little of each. 

Here is a small sampling of my personal list:

  1. Have a picnic out in the yard
  2. Bake cookies for the neighbors for no reason at all
  3. Send a letter to a long lost friend
I realize now that placing on my New Year’s Resolution list “Exercise 5 times a week every week” is equivalent to me as “Pet a Unicorn.”  It is nice to think about, but it’s not going to happen.  I have become realistic to what I will and what I won’t do.    This year try and find simplicity in your life.  Look for the little things to bring you fulfillment.  If exercise is your end goal, add run a mini marathon to your checklist.  It’s not about being the ultimate best you can be this year, it is about living a better and more fulfilled life in 2013 than you did in 2012.

Have fun creating your checklists!