It’s Thoughtful Thursday…Cherishing those 45 seconds

It was a busy weekday afternoon.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Life at my daughters’ house was full of kids, laughter, teasing and loud voices.

The voice of  urgency to get everyone ready for soccer practice rang out a familiar tune as kids ran around getting things together, filling water bottles, looking for lost shoes.

A little deja vu for me from years past.  I sometimes missed those crazy days and enjoyed being in the midst of all the chaos for a bit.

Ava Grace sat on her Dad’s lap getting soccer shoes tied with her long wavy hair in tangles around her head sweaty from a day of soccer camp.  She jumped down and handed me her hair elastic to help her put her hair up.  I was grateful there was no need to brush out the many tangles but I made an attempt as I gathered her hair up and stroked it gently…braid or pony tail ….pony tail…I gathered up her hair like I had done her for her Mom for  many years and quickly made a pony tail wrapping the elastic around it…akin to riding a bike, something I could do blindfolded.

How many times and how many pony tails had I gathered up for my daughters?  Did I relish the moment?  Did I cherish it? Did I know how special it was to have that moment.?  Nope. And  today I got a do over in my heart .

It was only 45 seconds.  Ava Grace did not give it a second thought, but I did.  There is something special and elegantly simple in creating a ponytail.  It is just an everyday ordinary moment that I have done a zillion times. And yet today it meant something.  If felt like an honor to do something so ordinary, so simple.  It is those simple things in life that connect us.  Making a meal together, doing dishes, brushing hair, whispering good nights.

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[bctt tweet=”It is the simple things in life that connect us” username=”jenniferbross”]

My wish for you on this Thoughtful Thursday is to honor those wonderful but often ignored moments.  Cherish those 45 seconds and savor them.  They are quick but oh so important.  Now you know what to do 🙂  go out and make it Thoughtful One.

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Look up for some awesomeness!!

I have done a lot of traveling in my lifetime.  Often not very exciting places but between being a military wife and business I have been in lots of different locations  and in quite a few airports.

Lots of changes have happened especially over the last few years.  Gone are the banks of payphones and in their place are “charging zones” for our various electronic devices.  People still bury their heads in books or e-readers.

The nosy person in me loves it when people bring real books.  I love to see what people are reading!!

And for those of you who are curious ( aka nosy, lol) about what I have been reading, here you go:

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The other thing people bury themselves in are their phones.  Row after row of people with their heads down, totally oblivious to the people around them.  I have even spent a whole flight sitting next to someone who never even said “hi”.

I am here to tell you that you are missing out on a whole lot of awesomeness.

When we traveled to Italy two years ago I learned quickly to always look up.  The ceilings in the historic and non historic places always had a story to tell of craftsmanship, beauty and brilliance.  It started to be the first thing I did when we entered a building.  I was never disappointed.

Sometimes I saw incredible artwork:

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So Gorgeous!!!

 

And sometimes we were entertained by a lively conversation complete with hand gestures!!

Wish I knew what they were saying!

Wish I knew what they were saying!

Being in Italy and knowing that if I failed to look up I would miss out on so much instilled the habit of looking up and all around everywhere I am, especially in crowded places like airports and coffee shops.

That one simple habit has filled my heart more than once.

Just last adhd month I was waiting to board my flight and saw an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair parked at the gate agents podium.

He was all alone.

It is almost always easy to start a conversation with an older person.  They love to talk.  This gentleman made it easy because he was wearing a Marine Corps Hat.  A quick “Semper Fi” and we were off and running.

His name was Marvin, he has five kids, told me all about his military service, his farm, his deceased wife, and the fact that he just turned 90!!  I told him both my parents turn 90 in the next 6 months.  He smiled and told me not to tell them but the truth was ( his words) “Its all downhill once you turn 90”  He said it with a smile and I promised not to tell.

He was a delight and far more entertaining than my phone and certainly enriched and touched me in ways the internet never could or will.  My only regret is we didn’t get a photo together.

Other past encounters include a woman dressed to the nines with most impressive jewelry.  She was a blind pianist. I also met a guitarist from the group “White Snake”, a delightful artist from Florida, a retiree with a broken leg moving to Chicago, an inspirational speaker who had a good experience as a foster kid and was paying it forward as a speaker and advocate for foster children!

As much as I love getting a handwritten letter the other part  of this  is interacting with the people around us.  You just never know who you will meet, how you will touch their lives in that moment or maybe forever or how they will touch yours.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One and remember to Look Up!!

 

 

Living Single While Very Married! The first of many good-byes…

After our very long road trip to get Paul to his new job the day we were dreading arrived.  No matter how many times we have done this, saying good-bye never gets easy.

I stood in the airport trying not to feed into my fear and uncertainty.  We had no idea how long this would last, how often we would see each other, if he would like the job, or if it would just be too much for the both of us.

What had we done?

The list of unknowns grew exponentially and I finally had to put it out of my mind or I was going to go crazy.

I thought back to our very first real good-bye when we were  at the ripe old ages of 21 and 22 yrs. He headed to flight school and I headed back to college. It was hard enough then but we did have the advantage of a pretty solid time frame and a date when we knew we would be together forever.

Navy deployments followed, along with TDY’s ( temporary duty assignments) and other things that kept us apart.

One thing remained constant.  We always dreaded the good-byes.  The last hug, the last kiss, the promise to write ( calling was not always an option, no cell phones or even computers back then) and the hope that time would go quickly.

Thirty years later and we were back to where we started.

So we hugged and said good-bye, took some deep breaths and I boarded the plane and started this new unknown adventure.

Three  things I knew for sure:

I loved Paul enough to let him go pursue his dream.

He loved me enough to understand that I needed to stay.

And the one  other constant with all these separations that we always looked forward to…

The “hello’s” are ever so delicious!!

I don’t have any photos of our goodbyes and only one of our hello’s but it remains a favorite.  At Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Oahu , Hawaii  Feburary 1984..a few days away from being a family of four!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Feeling a little stressed over the holidays..then it is time to…

“Disclaimer”  Since I am dedicated to NOT make myself crazy I am being a good environmentalist and recycling a post that I wrote at this same time last year.  I had to laugh when I reread it because my tree is up, lights on and once again it is surrounded by boxes of decorations….some things never change 🙂  Enjoy!  Also begging forgiveness from my daughters for giving them that *&*%$#$ Elf on the Shelf several years ago..yikes!

Join me for a  little cup of self compassion and letting go.   At the risk of getting horse whipped by Elf on the Shelf and shamed by Pinterest addicts I will share with you that Christmas is not my favorite holiday.

Pause for a collective GASP!

I mentioned this to a few of my friends and was dutifully shamed since evidently I am suppose to LOVE everything about the holiday and put up my decorations mid November.

I think not.

I don’t LOVE everything.

What I do love is the spiritual side, advent and getting together with family, and pulling out the faded construction paper ornaments with macaroni and toothless grins from long ago.

I love the music…in December and not before.

What I don’t love are the little voices in my head that constantly barrage me this time of year:

  • Did I remember everything and everyone?
  • Wait where did I put this gift…did I even buy it or did I just think I bought it?
  • It’s Dec. 10th and my tree is not up..what’s up with that? ( It is actually up with a trillion boxes surrounding it full of ornaments yet to be hung)
  • The sale ends tonight, must hurry, must bake, must do everything

and the quintessential:

 “What’s wrong with me, everyone else seems to do this without breaking a sweat”

I actually know the last one is not true, it just feels true.  Especially when I hear things like this starting on Nov. 29th:

“My shopping is all done, cards are ready to be mailed and I just baked 15 dozen cookies”

And me….I am thinking ( among other things that can’t be written here):

“Wait, I haven’t even finished digesting my Thanksgiving dinner and you are all ready for Christmas?”

And then to console myself I have another piece of pie.

So what does all this have to do with Thoughtful Thursday?

Aside from starting a support group for those of us who would like to celebrate Thanksgiving and then ease into Christmas then the  best we can do is really, really practice self compassion and let go of what does not serve us.

Take a breath, have a cup of tea, keep it simple and do what brings you joy.  Elf on the Shelf might need to take a vacation this year..or permanently.

If you have small children think about what you remember about Christmas.  I bet you hardly remember the gifts but you do remember your Grandpa’s laugh, fun with your family or making cookies with your Mom ( just not 15 dozen and slice and bake work just fine)

As for me, I am putting a mute button on all those nagging questions that run through my head, making a cup a tea and hoping I don’t trip over all those boxes around the undecorated tree as I go to the kitchen.

Make this Thoughtful Thursday about you today!

P.S. Written quickly so all my typos and grammatical errors are my gifts to you!  Phew..

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Awaken Your Heart :)

I had no idea until just a few minutes ago what I would be writing about today for Thoughtful Thursday.  I started looking through my pile of “to read” that was surrounding me in my little morning nest of books,  journals and just random pieces of paper ( yes this drives my very orderly husband nuts) when the end of this yoga article by Anne Cushman spoke to me:

“And when your hearts awaken, even small gestures can have an immense effect.”candle-386607_1280

As we end November in which we focus on gratitude and immerse ourselves into the often times crazy holiday season I hope we can remember the small gestures we can do for others and even for ourselves.  

What awakens your heart?  What small gesture can bring a smile to your face and a sense of peace?

When I am out and about I look for those little things. Holding the door open for a Mom with little ones or anyone else who seems to need it, thanking  the cashier, complimenting someone on their beautiful sweater or great smile. I am also known for gathering up all the errant shopping carts that are left around the parking lot.  I make up stories about how these people were having a rushed or bad day and just couldn’t get the cart put away ( that may not be true but it keeps me from being negative).

When I am home and grousing about the little things that seem big at the moment ( the endless amount of dog hair, the papers that seem to pile up and breed overnight, the internet that lately only works when it wants to) I try and center myself and remind myself that these are all little things.  If I can’t move forward, if I am really stuck there are couple of things I can try to awaken my heart.

One is journaling.  There is just something about putting it on paper that gives me perspective.  

The other one that always works  for me when I am home is to turn on Netflix and tune into the British show “Call the Midwife”.  Even if I just have it on in the background, the music and the sense of peace around that show settles me down and helps me get back into my heart.  It might not be your preference but this show is all about kindness, love and helping women who are often times living in really dire circumstances and yet the midwives and nuns focus just on the person and love them right where they are.

These are just two of my own personal examples. I have way more and I’m sure you do as well.  If not, have a quiet moment today and find something that calms you and awakens your heart.  It’s good to have it in your “tool” box for those times when things get a bit crazy.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile a conflict or open the door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity.With compassion in our heart, every thought, every word and deed can bring about a miracle.

Have fun awakening your heart and as always …Go make it a Thoughtful One!

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Take the risk and say this….

Sometimes the most thoughtful thing you can do to connect with someone is also the hardest.

Losing someone you love dearly is gut wrenching.  Saying goodbye is never easy even if the person you are saying goodbye to has had a long and good life.

I think there is an added dimension of grief when it is a young child or baby.

We all have good intentions when supporting our friends and family during this emotional tearful time.  We bring food, we call, we send cards and then….well then it gets awkward.  Do we bring another meal, send another card or do we even bring it up at all?

Do we mention their name?

We are afraid of adding to the grief, of being the reminder that their loved one or friend is gone.  We long for them to find joy again, to take away their pain, to have it all be good.

So often we say or do nothing and promise ourselves we will call tomorrow or send a card in a few days.  Those days become weeks and soon it has been months since we have made that promise.

We have all done it.  Put a BIG guilty stamp on my forehead.

And then I had an amazing lesson in what I know to be true.

Many of you know I work at our local hospital in the Mother Infant Unit.  I work with some awesome women.  The vast majority are younger than I am so we have lots of co- workers having babies.  We get so excited over one of our own having a baby.  So much so that you never know we see it on a daily basis.

One of our co-workers was 16 weeks pregnant when shewent to her OB appointment and discovered her baby’s heart had stopped.   She was devastated. We all felt horrible.  We supported her as best we could and after a little while she returned to work.  It must have been so difficult to come back to work and see all the Moms with their newborns but she did it.

Fast forward to 4 1/2 months later and I sat down next to Carol to chart on the computer.  I suddenly realized that her original due date was that month.

I had a little conversation with myself.  Do I say anything?  Does she want to remember?  We are at work, will it upset her too much?  Finally I felt a gentle nudge at my heart.  I like to think it was spirit or perhaps my guardian angel who whispered “What would you want?’

So I leaned over and said ” I just want you to know that I didn’t forget  your baby would have been here this month and I am thinking of you.”  She thanked me, smiled and then leaned into me and said “Want to know a secret?”  I nodded and she said “I’m pregnant” I was one of the first to share her joy.  What a privilege!

That was three years ago.  She welcomed a healthy son into the world to join her two daughters.  I KNOW she has not forgotten the baby that will never get to grow up with the other three. And even if my gesture had not been met with such joy I know it would have been appreciated that I remembered her little one.

I keep that in mind when friends have lost loved ones.  I mention them. I share a memory.  I keep their photo on my frig.  I want them to know I did not forget.

So being thoughtful can sometimes be hard, but it is worth it.  It is so important.

And as gently as I can say this “Go out and make it a Thoughtful One!”

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He didn’t have me at “Hello”

The things we nurses see could fill a few books with lots of stories left over. Most are humorous,some tragic and some jaw dropping.

I often see funny things on the internet about the life of a nurse and they are so true.  We wring our hands if our patient hasn’t peed in the last 8 hours all the while forgetting we haven’t peed in the last 12 hours.

My hospital friendships are the best.  We see and do things together that are unimaginable. I am fortunate to work with a group of supportive nurses and rarely go down the hall without being asked  “Are you doing okay?”  “Do you need anything?” even when they themselves are running around like crazy.

And yet we get jaded. I am taking liberties saying “we” but I know it is true.  I work with new Moms and newborns.  It is the best job ever and yet I do have patients that test my limits of being gracious and understanding.  I know I am not alone.

And then out of nowhere a patient or their relative touches my life in such an unexpected way that I wake up at 4am on a Saturday morning and know I have to get it down on paper.

I rounded the corner of the hospital hallway in my usual brisk pace when I am on a mission to get something done.  I almost run smack dab into this tall guy.  First thing I notice is his long scraggly beard with the middle of it confined to an 8 inch braid complete with pony tail elastic around it.

He says “excuse me” and I do the same all the while parking the thought of “strange” in my head and I continue on my mission to complete a task.

Fast forward as I am rounding on my patients.  There he is again.  He is the father of a newborn.  The braid from the beard is gone, he smiles and is very quiet and I get my tasks done.

Like I said “He didn’t have me at “hello”…  and yet there was something about him that stuck with me.

I sat down to chart and somehow this patient came up and my fellow nurse said..”that Dad has the most beautiful blue eyes”!

Shame on me..I had not stopped long enough to notice or to even take the time to have more than a few words.  I silently told myself to slow down.

As my shift progressed I noticed little things about him.  He was exceptionally kind to all those around him, he was gracious and always polite.  He went out of his way to help us with his girlfriends’ care and the baby.  He never expected anything from us and was exceedingly grateful for whatever we did.

He was genuine in a way that I rarely experience.

So I mentioned it to my friend.  She went onto to tell me about how kind and helpful he was to her (the nurse) as his baby was being born.  Before I left, the nurse who took over their care came out of the room and just exclaimed “What a nice guy!”

It’s not that we don’t have nice families and patients all the time but there was just something about this fellow.  I could tell this was his essence.  He wasn’t buried in his phone, or attached to the T.V. or trying to make us laugh. He was totally present, paying attention and helping out when he could with the little things.

He was just being himself.

He made a difference just by being who he is and I am a better person for it.  He touched my heart  without knowing it and he won’t be forgotten.

So no he didn’t have me at “hello”.  He wasn’t suppose to endear me with his looks, or anything superficial.

He did it in a better way.

He did it with his kind and loving spirit.

 I know there are angels on earth that are here to teach us.  I think he just may be one of them.

Clouds

Living Single While Very Married..a little bit of normal

Since  I have been writing this series of blog posts it has not been written in real time for many reasons.  I have decided that this has  gotten a little too confusing for me and it would more fun to write it as it happens.  I have a bit of catching up to do to get everyone up to date but for now here is what is happening in “real time”.

Paul is home for a bit.  While we see each other every 6 – 8 weeks its not always here at home. So as things worked out this is his first visit home since January.

Six months since he has been here.  Six months since it hasn’t solely been my responsibility to lock up at night, walk the dog, fix things, or vacuum ( our dog sheds his entire coat once a day or so it seems)

Six months since “Hey what do you want for dinner”, “Want to take a walk?”, “Should we make it “Donut Sunday”? (Yum) “Need anything from the store while I am out?”

Believe it or not I even smiled when I saw his smelly workout clothes piled in the bathroom ( actually I smelled them before I saw them). I’m not going to lie, I smiled but that is one thing I really don’t miss.

Six months since my week-end didn’t really suck (not all of them suck but we find week-ends are especially hard when we are apart). The week-end didn’t suck not because we did anything special but just because we were together.

Nothing here is earth shattering or huge but it is all a little bit of normal, our normal.

I’ve learned so much through this experience and yet appreciating the things that often go unnoticed and yet are so valuable is the best gift ever.

So while he is here I’ll take a little bit of normal with a side of just being together all day everyday.

Of course watching him get “loved” by the grandkids never gets old. That doesn’t happen everyday so it’s always fun.
FullSizeRender (2)As always, keep triing..its what keeps me going!

It’s Thoughtful Thursday..an easy way to make a difference


Take a minute and think about someone who made a difference in your life.

Chances are you just smiled.

You remember how happy it made you, how it changed you or how loved you felt that they took the time to do something for you.

Was it a huge thing like Oprah did when she gave away those cars?  Or was it something on a smaller scale?  It might have even been something they did without  realizing they made an amazing impact on your life.

While we would all like to have the ability to do really BIG things most of us can’t give away cars or houses or fancy vacations.

If you go back to the first question and remember what first popped into your thoughts it probably wasn’t something big.  It was probably something much smaller and doable and yet it was still HUGE to you.

This past Monday I had my day all planned and it was going to be so productive.  I got up early, I ran, I cleaned up and I sat down to work.  My computer had different ideas about my day.  I spent all day Monday, some of Tuesday and will spend a little bit of today getting this one issue,that could not be ignored,fixed on my computer.

Monday was NOT a good day.  Fortunately I did not also have to suffer through “crunchy coffee”.  If you missed out on that adventure go here.

So after some mind bending hours in front of this blasted machine I took the dog out since his little dance could not be ignored . I got the mail and my day turned around when I found these:

 

Letters for Thoughtful Thursday

 

Neither one of these friends could have possibly known what kind of day I would have when their note arrived.  I tore into them, read them several times and now they sit on my desk and make me smile.

They made a difference by taking a few minutes to write me a note.  It wasn’t a car or a house or a vacation but it might as well have been because that is how huge it felt to me on Monday.

Want to make a difference?  Make a list ( either written or in your noggin) about all the ways you can turn someones’ day around.  A smile, a note, holding the door open, a compliment, a post it note on the steering wheel or someones’ desk.  A lunchbox note for someone who might never expect it.

FYI we never grow too old for lunchbox notes.

Watch it come back to you in so many great ways including just making you smile when you think of the person finding the note, seeing your smile or savoring your compliment.

Now you know the drill.  Go out and make it a Thoughtful One!! 🙂

Thoughtful Thursday…Finding Love and Support in Unexpected Places

You just never know where you will find love and support these days.  If you have just one person in your life that offers unconditional love, that you can share frustrations and know it will be understood and not shared and you feel supported then consider yourself lucky.

Most relationships come with more than a little baggage.  It’s that baggage that can trip us up, frustrate us and keep us from feeling free to share, vent and cry when we really need to do just let it all out.

And yet I have found more than one person.  Actually a whole group.  When I joined the group I would have never expected it to become what it is today.  The group was started really out of a need to find a safe place to vent about a direct sales company that slowly and painfully closed it doors leaving many people without their main source of income and their retirement now non existent.  The answers that were coming from corporate often made no sense and when questioned in their online group you were either banned or your post was deleted.

A group was created and we all congregated to  make sense of the nonsense.  That was close to two years ago.  While the original purpose of the group has faded a bit we have gotten to know each other even though many of us have never met in person.

The person who founded the group had a few rules we all abide by one being no bad language.  Finally a place where I don’t have see the f-bomb as every other word. I really can’t remember the other rules but whether stated as an “official” rule or not there is always respect for one another, we never discuss politics or religion and we are by far one of the funniest group of women that ever existed.

It has become a very safe place to vent but more importantly a place to find support and very kind words.

And that is why I am honoring this group on Thoughtful Thursday.  It really became evident when my best friend shared the loss of her father.  While not unexpected it happened rather quickly and caught her family by surprise.   She shared her pain with the group and the support and kind words from those who had also walked this painful path and others words of support and love were amazing.

As a writer I can tell when words are sincere ( really I can) and there were never any words more sincerely written to support my friend.

Social media often gets a bad rap ( and for good reason) but in this group we have the freedom to share, support, love and laugh.  It is one of those rare things you find in life that restores your faith in all that is good.  I for one am grateful for all the love and support from these sincere women.

Now you know the drill..go make it a Thoughtful one!

P.S.  My spell check wasn’t working so all typos are my gift to you  🙂

Clouds