You Are What You Speak

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We have all heard the saying, “You are what you eat”, so I guess that means that because I ate toast with Nutella and bananas this morning that I am crunchy, sweet and…. yellow? No, seriously I know that the idea is that what you put into your body is what nourishes it or doesn’t depending on what you choose. I have been thinking about the opposite of that. What you put out of your body can also nourish your insides or not depending on what you choose… In other words, you are what you speak. Raising two teenagers can become days of lessons upon lessons in life, but experience tells us that the best way to encourage a thoughful, kind, respectful human being is by showing them that in a world full of the unexpected, you can carry yourself in whatever manner you choose. Your reaction is your own choice (even though sometimes it feels like you have no choice but to be rude or forceful right back at someone)! Words have the power to enhance your life and the life of the person you are speaking to. Your words become a mirror, a big reflection that follows you around and shows you what you look like from the outside. If you run around judging someone harshly or gossiping about them, the feelings those words create will come back at you in the form of a judgement against you, or a story behind your back. On the other hand, and thank you God always for the reminder that there is the other hand, if you run around sharing words of kindness and encouragement, the effect of those words will also come back to you. Never underestimate the power of a kind word. We all know that a word once it is spoken cannot ever be taken back. Everything you say will be connected to you forever-good or bad. Are the words you share meant to be nourishing or to be breaking down? Imagine that the words you speak swirl around you mingled with the air that you breath, and at any given moment they become a collage that creates the picture of you to the world. Your reflection in that big mirror. The words that you choose will allow you to create whatever self portrait the world sees in you. Is your word picture beautiful or is it ugly? Just as a flower grows from the dirt, you too can create a beautiful you with only a tiny seed, a small word of nourishment to a friend, a stranger, an adversary. Like a mighty oak tree from an acorn grows, once spoken your words become a living thing. Do you remember a time when someone complimented you on a day when you felt inadequate? Do you remember a day when someone encouraged you to try when you were scared that you would fail? Do you remember a day when someone gave you wise advice when you were faced with a tough choice? These are the things that made all the difference on those days. One word, a string of words, a conversation, this is what we speak, where they take you is up to you! I remember when my children were young and one of them came home complaining that “so and so” was mean to them, and they did not want to be friends with them anymore. My response that day, and my response today would be the same as it has always been anytime a situation like that arises, “I do not expect you to be best friends with “so and so”, but I do expect you to be polite and kind”. Living out this example is at times, harder than not. We all probably prefer to puff up our chests and show we are as tough as the cookie next to us who is ranting and raving, but I am reminded that God does not measure strength in raised voices or cutting remarks. Our strength is measured in words of faith, wisdom and love. As we walk from place to place and speak with person to person, what word picture is being painted around ourselves today? If you are what you eat speak, then I’d like to order a sweet words sundae with a cherry on top…to-go please!

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Reading was my first love

Custom-Thumbprint-Portrait-by-Cheryl-Sorg-picture-1-540x817Reading was my first love. I cannot remember the actual moment that I fell in love. I know it wasn’t when I was very young. I know it wasn’t when I was still being read to. It didn’t actually happen the minute I began to read on my own. It could have been a gradual falling, a getting acquainted and settling down deep kind of love. It started later, when I actually had the book in my hand, eyes on the page, reading as quickly as possible to find out what happened next, while at the same time forcing myself to read slowly so I could make it last. You readers out there know what I am talking about…the turtle-paced-speed-reading towards the end of a book! It could have happened when I laughed out loud in a room with only me and the book or when I wanted to scream “Don’t do it!” at the black and white pages. It could have happened when tears welled up in my eyes, glued to the words on a page as Della cut her beautiful hair and Jim sold his grandfather’s watch on Christmas. It could have happened when I spent countless summer hours on our screened porch lost in the heather of Thrushcross Grange. It could have happened when I felt a state of panic trying to find out if Maxim really killed Rebecca or better yet, if he did, would anyone find out? It could have happened when Alexander Dumas showed how sweet revenge could be and that buried treasures really do exist. It could have happened when I followed Santiago on his simple journey through the desert and came out the other side a better version of myself. It could have happened when the entire household was asleep, my eyes bleary (a cross between blurry and weary) but finding I could not let go until I read if Katniss and Peeta would eat the berries. It could have happened when Alexander and Tatiana barely survived WW II in Russia and what came next for them and many immigrants to the USA. I am not exactly sure when I fell in love with reading but once I did, it was irrevocably part of me! Cooking, cleaning and sleep are hopeless against a good book! Carpool lines, kids practices that go long and plane rides are my book’s best friends! Thick or thin, historical or post apocalyptic, simple or complex, they are all welcome in my library. There are some books that I have even read several times because I just need to visit there once and again, like a favorite vacation spot that you go back to each year. I have never actually seen a movie that is better than the book. And sometimes if I have loved a book, I am actually scared to see the movie! It is said that a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies and a man who doesn’t read, only one. If you ask a reader what their favorite book is, you may find yourself sitting a while listening to the answer because well, there are so many that we could write a book! Reading can open our world to lives beyond our own. Beautiful, sad, silly, enchanted, tragic, epic, adventurous… Oh, the places you’ll go when you open a book! Gotta run, if I hurry I can get a couple of pages in before lunch is over!

Books mentioned in this post (a few favorites but of course, there are many more):

Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess

The Power of Perspective

00bdaa16a3a44b5cbd8f0650ff39014dPerspective is everything. It starts the moment you wake up in the morning and lasts until you fall back to sleep at night. It is one of the most powerful tools in a happy life. I know this because one day in my life (about twenty years ago) I woke up and decided to treat my perspective as the precious gift that it is. Since that day my perspective and I have been great pals.

This is something that I have been giving some thought to because in my daily conversations with people I get to hear their point of view, which is sometimes the same as my point of view and sometimes different.  I have come to realize that in all avenues of our lives the thing that makes us, molds us, changes us, grows us, nourishes us, feeds us and turns us into the eventuality of who we become is born out perspective. It always amazes me that two people can have the same set of circumstances and end up living two completely different experiences. Why is that? It is because of what we believe and what we tell ourselves. It is because of how we percieve the experience–anticipating the outcome, participating in the moment, and then reflecting on what transpired. Really, in any of these steps our perspective is what sets the tone for how we enter an experience, how we react to it and how we sum up our feelings about  it. When one of my children is worried about an upcoming practice or performance I have been known to, every once in a while, say “Just get out there and shine your light, and if you cannot do that then just try to fake it!” I do not say that as a joke! And I don’t mean to actually fake the whole thing, but I am trying to illustrate to them that if you set your mind to thinking that you are going to go out there and shine, you convince yourself that you can do it, and even if you were faking it, when you walk away that light will follow you. This is the magic of perception. It is something that no one can take away from you and something only you can give away. It is your own gift to yourself. I read something today and this is what it said, “We are never really alert to our destinies, are we?” and it hit me– we do not get clues along the way to finding our destiny and creating a fulfilled and happy life. We are not given a map or a cheat sheet. We don’t know that one particular minute that changes our lives forever, but we know that it happens. Poof! One moment in time and our lives are changed forever! Just for kicks, over the next couple of days, try out opening your perspective every day as a gift! … Use it to transform your ordinary experiences to extraordinary ones. Imagine that you are going into an everyday experience and create an inner dialogue of positivity as you anticipate the experience. I can do this and it is going to be fabulous. Once you arrive, set the tone with your attitude, fake it if you have to. Oh yeah, I got this, I’m workin it! Once you are finished, reflect back with as much intention as you started out with. That was amazing! Maybe when asked, “are you excited?“, “are you nervous?“, “how did it go?“, your answers will reflect the attitude that you brought into the situations with you and they will reflect that you transformed the experience into something beautiful just by your perspective! Is your glass half empty? half full? or three quarters of the way there? Is the grass greener in your own little garden or does it look greener on the other side?  Was that small moment the biggest part of your day? Count the simple times on the same hand that you count the big ones. Each second that you fully experience the moment are you laying the foundation for a magical minute, hour, day, week, month and year? We only get these minutes once in a lifetime, and hey I get it, they might not all be exactly what you dreamed of, but with the right perspective they make great days, great years, a great life! When that alarm clock sounds tomorrow morning just get out there and let your light shine, shine, shine!

In Your Honesty Is Your Beauty

b6b2956fee1c75c4095c325fc7a3aeea Do you ever have those moments where life gives you something that you weren’t expecting and you walk around saying “I’m sorry that I am being _____, it’s just that….”. What is it we are doing when we apologize for what the great teacher of experience is trying to show us? Are we comparing ourselves to someone else? Are we comparing ourselves to a different version of us?  Maybe the version we think we should be, or the version that we want others to see? I find myself doing this often when I am mad, tired, or frustrated with something, even sometimes apologizing if I am happy about something great that happened … It prompted me to realize that in our honesty is where we will find our beauty. At times when honesty in life is the most difficult, you have the power to be at your most beautiful. We all will go through trials, and we all will have triumphs. Don’t make any of these events smaller than they really are by taking the true emotion out of the experience. You do not owe yourself or anyone else an excuse or explanation because there is purpose in your experience and sharing it honestly is important! Haven’t you had that moment where a friend is sharing a story and you realize that you completely understand what they are talking about and shout,  “Me too!” or ” I feel the same way!” or “The same thing happened to me!”? By being honest about your life, you actually create a fuller life. We may not  always say them out loud but we share common experiences. On the day that your perfect life that you have worked so hard on shows cracks, scrapes, bumps and bruises– be real, be sad, be strong, be frustrated. These are the moments that will build your foundation one brick at a time, until one day you have a mighty palace. On the day that your journey lands you on that big, white, fluffy cloud number nine, and everything is not just what you had dreamed it would be, but so very much more– be joyful, be loud, be grateful, be jubilant! These are the moments that will keep you a dreamer when other things or people fail you. Beauty comes from living each experience with authenticity. Beauty comes from feeling your feelings honestly. Beauty comes from not making excuses of why you are happy or why you are sad. Beauty comes from living out loud. Beauty comes from admitting your weakness and from admitting your strength! Each experience in life is put before us to bring us closer to the fullness of all we can become. This life we lead, it is more than one in a million… Heck, it is the ONLY one! Live it, feel it, respect it. There is only one version of you, one version of  your life, one version of your hopes and dreams… and none of these versions will look like some one else’s. Don’t compare your life – Share your life! In God’s expert hands our lives are finely crafted objects of art. In all of our experiences, be true, be real, be YOU! Wherever your “here” is today, it is exactly where you are supposed to be! In your honesty, your beauty shines. Let the world in and let it be a mirror to your unique and wonderful life, because yours is the fairest of them all!

Fine, thanks.

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Hi!

Hey.

How are you?

Fine, thanks.

How many times do we do this every week? Why do we repeat this every time someone asks how we are doing? Are we always fine? Or is it a dance we learned years ago and we just stick to the same moves each time we see a familiar face? Are you, or the person you are asking really fine? Could you actually be awesome, worried, surprised, sad, thrilled, scared, on top of the world or at your wits end?

I was faced with two questions when I started thinking about this blog post. My first question was, when I see you and ask, “Hey, how are you?” –am I really asking because I want to know how you are truly feeling? Am I prepared to actually listen to the answer with my heart and my mind? Am I ready to celebrate with you or cry with you if the answer is anything but the usual “fine, thanks”? Then my second question was this, if you ask me how I am doing and I am more than fine or less than fine, why do I answer “fine, thanks”? We are essentially taking our humaness out of the interaction. We are social creatures, we run in the same circles, we fight the same fights, we share common joys and share common tears. We are only human… and we need each other! What if, for the next week or so, or longer, (or forever :)) we take out the word “fine” from our answer to this everyday question? Couldn’t we then, open a more authentic dialog with one another? Today, I may BE the lamp or the lifeboat or the ladder, or today I may NEED that lamp or that lifeboat or that ladder. Open up! Open to the question you may be asked and open to the answer you may receive! Let’s just see what happens when we open our hearts to one another through our words… real words! Make up your own dance along the way, you just might find the music in the everyday!

Do Our Children Become Our Conscience?

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When I say the name Lance Armsrong, chances are you have a strong opinion of him. Over the course of the past twelve years he has become so many different things to so many different people… victor, villian, champion, cheat. Way back in 2000, my husband and I began to watch the Tour de France and were immediately swept up in the inspirational story of this scrappy, American kid who fought his way to the top of the cycling world. The story most of us know includes a viscious battle with cancer where he crawls out victorious. Lance Armstrong became an inspiration to cancer survivors, cancer warriors, young cyclists, heck, any age cyclists! My husband bought a road bike in 2000 and has been riding every week since!! There are few homes that Lance’s story did not touch. Not only did he beat cancer, but he was beating up the Tour de France year, after year, after year. Amid all of this success, he started the Livestrong Foundation to help cancer patients and their families worldwide. Wow! How does he do it? What an inspiration! He is amazing! He is a hero! And that is exactly what he became- a modern day superhero. A sea of yellow bracelets were proof that we all wanted to believe in him and his story. So, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when Lance agreed to do an exclusive interview with Oprah based on allegations that he had used illegal and banned substances to help him win all of those races. After years of vehemently denying that he had ever participated in using those substances, he finally came out and admitted that he had done just that-and that he had done it for years. Now, honestly if we look hard enough (or maybe not very hard), I know that we can find cheating in any and every sport, whether it is as big as performance enhancing drugs or as little as stretching the truth. Have you ever competed with someone, in any arena where that win is just out of reach? No matter how hard you try, there is always someone a little bit faster, a bit out of your grasp? Whether it is at work or school or sports, do you ever just touch your toe over that line of integrity? Maybe you didn’t exactly tell the truth about those last few seconds of the race, perhaps you rounded up or down wherever it suited you to become the winner of that particular goal. Are the small blurred lines as bad as what Lance Armstrong did? Lance said in the interview that he needed to come clean and tell the truth because of his kids. He didn’t want his children to see him as a cheater. Do our children then become the soft whisper of our conscience? If our children learn and model our behavior by the choices we make everyday, don’t they become our conscience? Our actions, our words, our behaviors towards others become our children’s inner voice. Kids are more perceptive than we realize and just when we think no one is watching, they are learning by our example, be it right or wrong. Integrity turns out to be something you have to practice everyday. It can be encouraged in the big and little choices we face on a daily basis. Today, as I am running around in my own “race” called life, I am going to try to remember the importance of choosing truthfulness, tolerance, and love with integrity. I might not become a modern day superhero by practicing these things, but then again… maybe just a little!

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Hey, should I put this on Facebook?

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So, today I was lucky enough to be able to celebrate the 2nd birthday of my neice’s son… I am not even sure what you call that– my second cousin, my first cousin once removed? Is he removed because he is two generations younger or removed because he is an offspring of my sister and not me? Or is he even removed? I really don’t know- I just call him adorable! Anyway, we were all beginning to crowd around the table to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. We all had our mobile phones & cameras out to snap the perfect picture, to capture that very precious moment when he sat in all of his sweet, embarrased glory while the whole room turned to him singing and sending up their own quiet wishes for his next year. All the while, all of us eager to get that “perfect” picture, so we could of course, post it to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, I began to wonder. Are we taking the moment out of the moment? What I mean is, are we so much in search of the perfect picture that we lose the perfect moment in time? Sometimes, isn’t there that hint of dissappointment when you look back at your pictures and not find one that conveys the intensity, the joy, the beauty of the moment enough for it to be good enough to post on social media? Couldn’t you have zoomed in a little more? Couldn’t you have captured that smile, or that laugh, or that winning goal, or that highest jump, or that step across the finish line, or that walk down the aisle just a little bit better? My question is this, aren’t the imperfections in those moments just as beautiful as the perfect ones? Isn’t being in the present moment, enjoying the present moment, savoring that moment more important than capturing the perfect picture? In this day and age of instant media sharing, let’s cut ourselves some slack and not allow the “post” button to dictate whether or not we have a perfect moment because really, if we are in them, counting our blessings every minute of them, aren’t they all really perfect?! I know that two year old’s birthday party with family and friends who were there to sing to him, celebrate him, love him and wish him a beautiful life was just that- PERFECT!

Why the name?

Hello and thank you for visiting my very first entry of my blog. I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while, and because today I am sitting at home on a snow day…  I figured now would be the best time. The reason I chose the name Praise From The Passenger Seat is this… Remember those bumper stickers you used to see around stating proudly GOD IS MY COPILOT? Well, as I actually took a quiet minute to think about it, I realized that would mean that I am in the driver’s seat and God would be in the passenger seat-What?!?! That is absolutely insane. I mean I am all about using google maps and finding hidden routes, shortcuts, etc to get where I am going, but if I am the pilot, there are surely going to be a lot of wrong turns, u-turns and dead ends along the way. God is not my copilot, God is my pilot. And I am, very gratefully, his passenger. Do you ever have those days where you are sitting in traffic, late to your next appointment, frantically choosing whether to get off the road that is backed up like a parking lot and take an alternate route or stay stuck and slug it out? You make that quick decision, turn onto an unknown road and feel your way, almost blindly, through the next several turns until you end up at an intersection that you recognize and find you are almost at your destination… Yes, you know that feeling, like when the rain stops, the clouds part and the sun shines, and the world sings with you “Hallelujah”!! Don’t think for a minute that if you woke that morning and prayed that God would guide you throughout the day, that you were the actual pilot on that unknown road. You were the passenger and God, as your pilot, showed you the way. What I am trying to do is remind myself of this fact in all aspects of my walk with Jesus. In the moments of joy, I will praise, in the moments of fear, I will cling, in the moments of weakness, I will trust, and in every moment of every day, I will thank. Knowing this and reminding myself of His perfect grace, I can tell myself that those wrong turns actually end up being the right ones. The u-turns have a lesson that I needed to learn and take back with me, and those dead ends lead me one street closer to where God wants me to be. I really will try in these moments to praise God, cling to God, trust in God and always, always, always thank God. Image