Back in the day…

Bald eagles and wheat pennies are proof that with rarity comes appreciation. Some may say that verbal communication can join the club. Why is it that conversation feels like a dying art while our voices still remain?

Severed words and animated emotions are here to stay. They were birthed by devices that have been keeping heads down at the dinner table for years. Back in the day, bonds were formed with utensil filled hands and sharing sessions. Expressions were read. Listening changed moods. The togetherness I’m referring to can be described in many ways; beautiful, limited, missed, forced.

We can’t fault our children for what they have resented or never known. Were you always the best company? Did other less important things disappoint a waiting better moment? I know I would turn back time if I could.

I also know that for twelve long years, my husband and I worked opposite shifts. Therefore, for twelve long years, a group text was our families virtual dinner table. Technology has turned spontaneity and frequency into treasures. Back in the day, we had no clue that we were being thought of because thoughts in their prime were lost in the lack of delivery. Before text messaging, the worried mother lost needed sleep. Morning spats lasted way longer than they needed to.

Don’t judge the electronically dependent world without prioritizing your own personal values and boundaries. Though I embrace differences, I pray there is one thing we can all agree with. There is no message or thought that is more important than a life. Do not ever, ever text and drive. But, if you’re not behind the wheel and need to compose some hurtful words, go ahead. Then, delete them without sending. Revenge is a misunderstood reaction. If you need a filter to make you feel pretty, then use one. Just know in your heart that you don’t need it.

Remember that a beautiful world surrounds you in the form of voices, paper and nature. Take advantage of them. If you love someone, pull out the earbuds and replace the podcast with a kind whisper. Send a heart emoji when distance challenges you. These simple pro active gestures have more power than you know.

YOU are a treasure!

Memories and Milestones

Memories…the scrapbooks of our minds that can be opened at any time, by anyone or anything. Think about it. We all have that song…that one song that can instantly erase the moment at hand with a good feeling. Think about it. We all have that someone…that one person we haven’t seen physically in years, yet their image takes us time traveling to a place far beyond their recent Facebook post.

Memories hold everything from nostalgia to learned lessons. Some will never be worthy of a glue stick and expensive paper. But, is it possible to turn things we want to forget into opportunities for appreciation? What if instead of wishing for the re-do we focus on building integrity? What if we stopped letting poor decisions and unfortunate circumstances define who we are today? When we admit fault and ask for forgiveness, bravery strengthens our soul. When we decide to own our decisions, confidence strengthens our posture.

Memories… the best of the best bring with them a feeling that we desperately wish would last forever. But, they’re not called the good old days because we are living in the bad new days. Today, we can turn memories into milestones and continue to appreciate. Every moment is an opportunity to create the happiness we deserve.

If you miss the way you danced on your honeymoon, play the song and find your groove. If you miss someone that passed on, talk to them. And, if you miss holding your child’s hand, then grab it. You are in control.

YOU are a treasure!

In my case…

Bitter sweet is an over used phrase that describes a moment a feeling sad and happy at the same time. This is double the work for the over thinker. I become living proof every time a teardrop follows dead flowers into the garbage can. And every time the predictable post vacation sadness kicks in.

I thought that clarity would stop the head spins. But this empty room’s memories of little heads in my lap are not fun to be with. In a minute though, when I stretch my legs and dominate the remote, the solitude won’t feel so bad.  If walls could talk, I would be in the middle of a never ending dispute. One like peace while the other misses chaos. One likes cleanliness while the other misses fingerprints.

Like anything that is not good for you, unwanted thoughts are a bad habit. You know you shouldn’t do it, but you still do. Time has made it a part of you. And while you know you have a choice to stop, a twisted comfort doesn’t let you.

If you are afraid of change, you are not alone. Choices become repetitive when we realize that we like how they make us feel. In my case that’s vanilla over chocolate…drama over comedy…sweatpants over skirts. In my case it’s pinching a piece of skin to stop tears with a dam called pain. It’s better than being falsely accused of being unstable or under the influence.

In my case it’s working every single day on creating new and better habits. It’s praying for karma over plotting revenge. It’s dismissing over dwelling. It’s appreciating more. I asked a question in my very first post and I ask it again. Will you go treasure hunting with me? You don’t need a shovel, just a mirror.

YOU are a treasure!

 

Dear Sarah

A letter to myself as the Holiday season begins…

Dear Sarah,

When you spend so much time putting others first, it’s normal to feel exhausted and anxious this time of year. But, at the start of this journey, you made yourself a promise…a promise to create the happiness you deserve by making changes both big and small. Though it was not a perfect year, you made progress. May the following advice help bring internal peace and memories worth cherishing:

Don’t feel guilty that twinkling lights and sleigh bells aren’t enough. You are wired differently, but still a good person.

Leave the dust on the floor. You can create a beautiful environment in many other ways.

Serve the semi-burnt cookie. At least you tried.

Make a gift for someone and think about how much they mean to you the whole time.

Don’t make a wish list. It will distract you from what you already have, which is enough.

Put your change in the red bucket and be grateful you can afford to.

Be proud of what you celebrate and don’t be offended by differences.

Smile when it’s hard. There are many people spending this time alone.

Above all, never ever forget that YOU are a treasure.

With the most love I have ever had for you,

Sarah

The Right To Play Dress Up

For a couple of years, my best friend was a floppy, red-haired figure named Raggedy Ann. She loved me no matter what. I knew that because her heart told me so. One day, with the help of some fabric, yarn and a creative mom, I became her. I made those around me giggle and smile. I was “cute” instead of buck toothed and awkward. That was the very first Halloween I remember.

As years changed, so did the fads and costume changes. I have stayed true to my appreciation of the day that society says it’s OK to be something other than yourself. Though my children now have memories of embarrassment and questioning my sanity, I selfishly have no regrets. It felt good to step away from the roles of maid, chef, homework checker and nag.

The right to responsibly have fun and escape from routine once in a while has no age limit. I strongly suggest you exercise this right as another Halloween draws near.

To the princess: Let that sparkle make you feel like the beautiful person you are every day, but forget as chores and deadlines wear you down.

To the villain:  Here’s your chance to be the bad ass you sometimes wish you were. Be proud that respect and professionalism lead you to the right choices when things get tough.

To the superhero: Enjoy the cape and shield, but remember you don’t need them to fight sadness, worry, disrespect or any other emotional intruder.

And to you, no matter who you are or choose to be. Every day. Remember.

YOU are a treasure!

MSCT

A hand made sign hangs by our bathroom mirror and it reads “Make Smart Choices Today.” Purposely, the first letter of each word also begins the first name of each member in our family. You could call it our motto. Over the years, I am certain these four words have been read and interpreted many different ways: “Do your homework,” “Avoid peer pressure,” “Eat well and exercise,”Fight that depression.”

Choices are not just actions, they are also reactions. They are opportunities to peel back ugly layers that hide some really valuable treasures. These layers call themselves jealousy, selfishness, denial, and defeat. Victory does not satisfy temptation and negative emotions. They never go away. But, each time we lift our chin to the sky, the devil will raise a brow. Our strength makes him nervous.

You can chase rainbows, or you can chase rain.

You can forgive, or you can hold pain.

You can seek vengeance, or you can forget.

You can recover, or you can regret.

The choice is yours.

YOU are a treasure!

 

 

You Can’t Smell Google

Based on a true story, today’s thought will open similarly to a joke, but end with a punchline in the form of a treasure:

A guy walks into a bar. He finds his place at the stool he unofficially owns as the barmaid prepares his order without asking what it is. He was already there when my husband and I arrived, but I would bet that is a pretty accurate scenario. To put it simply, he was an obvious, harmless regular.

Our dining entertainment was the friendly banter between the two. And that night’s topic… a seasoned member of society’s theory behind what’s wrong with the world today. In the opposite corner, an equally passionate individual defending the world, for there is so much of it still ahead of her.  She tried to explain that the “evil” internet is the reason she is still able to pursue a degree while working the long hours required to get by. He countered with memories of conversations without screens and the set of encyclopedias he’s proud to still use. Both had valid points. He preached. She poured. They both smiled the whole time.

It was hard not to eavesdrop. At first, I tried really hard not to. But, then it happened…the patron turned friend referred to the world’s lost piece as appreciation. My ears perked like a puppy and I turned to face him. After what I hoped was his last sip of the day, he sat his empty glass down and said: “You can’t smell Google.”  The glass was retrieved with the promise to see him soon.

The routine visit and opportunity to give another lecture probably made his day. The hour or two with her mind off the daily grind may have made hers as well. Stumbling upon this beautiful relationship most certainly made mine.

My son gave me a flower on the eve of his graduation. That night, I placed my nose to a pedal and slowly inhaled. You are so right, friendly stranger. You can’t smell Google.

YOU are a treasure!

Scratch and Dent

My house is full of character. I am not talking about my collection of Disney figurines. I am referring to those distinguishing qualities that make things unique. You know, that scratch, that dent, that crayon drawing on the wall. These are traits that are often called flaws.

Let me tell you the story of our first piece of furniture that did not come from a curb on garbage night.  I chuckle knowing that I once thought that buying a new oak dresser for an elementary-aged boy was a good idea. That dresser got character before it’s first coat of pledge. It’s still there today…a five-pointed star with two eyes and mouth smiling from ear to ear (if stars actually have ears.) Boy, was I angry at this unexpected introduction. I did not care if it was a star. I did not care if it was smiling. I did not care if this was my son rebelling or marking his territory. I was angry.

The inability to afford another dresser kept me from discarding it. The lack of time and energy kept me from buffing it out. My friends, as I share these words, I am just weeks away from my carving artist being on his own. I promise you that I am going to look at that star and finally give it the returned smile it’s been waiting for.

The moral here is that we all have imperfections, some on the surface and some beneath. Think long and hard before deciding to change or discard. People will still love you with that blemish or scar. People will still visit if there are weeds in your garden or dust on your shelves.

By the way, just because I upgraded to Craigslist doesn’t mean I stopped my treasure hunt. I have projects waiting that were inspired by things another person no longer had use for. There is accomplishment, quality time and beauty in my future. It is true that one man’s trash could be another man’s treasure. Share with me yours! What do you currently have that didn’t shine the same way for another?

YOU are a treasure!

The Bodyguard

I have bodyguards. Believe it or not, so do you. They are just not easily recognized because they don’t look like Hercules in a suit and sunglasses. Because we are not royalty or of celebrity status, we may not purposely seek protectors. But, we are worthy of them and, like the treasures I speak of so often, they are around us.

Indeed, the bodyguard that responds to the ad on Monster will most likely need to know how to throw a punch to qualify. But, we are made of more than skin and bones. We can be hurt without being hit. Harm’s way does not always lead to large crowds or dark alleys. For some of us, an idle mind is a scary predator.

I can throw some darn good pity parties, but I don’t subscribe to them. Instead, I seek out distractions. I call this treasure hunting. It has made red lights, pumping gas and long lines much easier to deal with.

These words are dedicated to some people who will probably never read them. This includes the woman who started a conversation with me at Wegmans, the co-worker who talked me through what was not a real crisis, the guy who broke out in random dance while waiting for his bus to arrive, and whoever posted the most recent adorable monkey video. For a few moments, you fought off worry, my worst enemy. You lifted some weight off my shoulders by just being you.

Thank you, strangers. Thank you, friends. Thank you, inventor of those tiny televisions at gas pumps. You sparkle like diamonds.

YOU are a treasure!

Lost and Found

Maturity has a lot to do with how we perceive our treasures. One day when I was young, my Grandpa gave me a five dollar bill for polishing his tools. It was the most money I ever had at one time. It represented pride and about ten Kit Kat bars…until I lost it soon after. I think that may have been when I learned what guilt felt like. I was young, but my pain was very real…until Grandpa replaced it. He never liked to see me cry.

The real treasure in my memory was not that five dollar bill. It was the hug that followed my “thank you.” It was the “I love you” he said in response. I think that may have been when I learned that it was ok to be imperfect.

To find the silver lining means to see hope under the gloom, the positive under the negative, the something to hang on to that is hidden beneath the layers of ugly and unpleasant. Sometimes these layers become lessons. In the case of my Grandpa, it took me years to realize just how special of a man he was. A long time ago, I lost a five dollar bill, but I found a man who made me feel secure. Last year, I lost what I thought was a friendship, but I found my self-respect. And soon, I will lose a child to the world of adulthood, but I know I will find a young man that I am proud of.

Peel back the ugly layers and if they are too heavy, ask for help. You may be pleasantly surprised at what is waiting for you. It is not easy. I struggle with this often. However, each moment we choose optimism over despair is a treasure in itself.

YOU are a treasure!