Heart in the Clouds

Friday, December 31, 2010

Grateful - 12/31/2010

The other day, someone asked me what my resolutions for 2011 look like. I thought about it for a minute and realized I don't have any. I'm not really a yearly resolution type of person. Yes, a new year is a good time to start fresh and it feels like a clean slate. But I guess you could say I've resolved NOT to make any resolutions. I want to see where this year takes me. I want to see the plans that God has. I think that's because I've begun to learn the value of every day, and the value of resolving every day to be a better version of myself. New mercies every morning...

Last New Year's Eve, I thought about wanting to exercise more often to get my endurance and stamina back. While I didn't "resolve" to do it, I ended up doing it just because I wanted to and because I got addicted to walking outside, rain or shine. I have felt physically better this year than I have in years. I walked off periods of sadness. I walked off a tired mind, body and spirit. I walked off stress and fear. Personally, I had to turn my focus away from weight loss and fruitless resolutions of dieting or fitting into an old pair of trousers, and on to taking care of myself and loving who I am RIGHT NOW. Since I've begun to do that, I couldn't care less about those few extra pounds. I now feel like I can look in the mirror and love the person I see looking back at me, extra weight and all, and that (to me) is more important than any weight loss could ever be. Love your curves, ladies. You're beautiful as you are.

I guess the one thing I do want out of this year is something I can't really "resolve" to do. I want to get back my sense of awe about life. When you're focused, as I often am, on just trying to survive each day and to make it through as unscathed as possible, you lose the concept of the bigger picture. You lose perspective and the ability to see the little speed bumps in life's road for what they are...molehills, not mountains. I want to get back that sense of being small in the universe, and to focus instead on the beautiful life God has created for me. This year, I let a few molehills become mountains and I don't want to do that again.

Along with that sense of awe, I just want to focus on being open to whatever God has in store. He's already gotten me started in a few things that I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome of. I want to be more grateful. I want to learn from the bad and to cherish the good. I want God to give me more opportunities to be his hand extended to another person. I want to love my kids and my husband even more. I want to be a better friend. I want to have more fun. I want to be more content with life, but to also look for adventures along the way. I want to be less religious and more about relationship, when it comes to my faith. These aren't things I can really "resolve" to do, but I want to see them happen and experience the joy of seeing my life change in the process. Maybe you want to join me in not resolving to do anything except just BEING--actively "being", not becoming complacent.

So, to end the 2010 chapter of my gratitude journey, I only want to lift my face, close my eyes and say, "Thank you." There is nothing more I can say to the One who loves me most.

Happy New Year, everyone. May 2011 be your best year yet!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Grateful - 12/30/2010

Today, I'm grateful for...

An easy Christmas holiday. This past week has been great because it's gone slowly. Usually, it feels like our vacations or holidays go quickly, so this has been a welcome change.

A WHITE Christmas. As much as I loathe Winter, it was really, really nice to have snow falling on Christmas.

Encouragement. There will always be naysayers because that's just the way life goes. However, God puts encouraging people into our lives for a reason. It's so much harder to listen to the good and thumb your nose at the bad, but it's so important.

WWII marathons. Sean and I watched all of "Band of Brothers" in two nights and then all of "The Pacific" in ONE night. Yes, we're insane, but it was well worth it. Every time I watch things like that, that are based on the lives and experiences of real people, I come away from them with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the strength and fortitude of those who served. I also come away realizing the insanity of war.

Biting my tongue. It's something I've been trying to incorporate into my life over the past few years and it has been serving me well. There are many times in the past where I have said what I REALLY thought without filtering and without picking my battles, or I've spat out a quick retort without thinking. Those situations never ended well. In the last couple of years, I've seen a change in myself where, if someone says something I just let it hang in the air. I hold myself back from returning fire with a comment which (though true) would just end up making things worse. There's often wisdom in keeping your mouth shut.

Quiet. This past month, I have been away from my computer more often. I haven't watched TV much, other than a few movie nights and the occasional DVR catch-up session. The quiet has been great. A lot of what I do (photography editing, writing, etc.) is computer-related, so I welcome the change of pace.

My network. I have a lot of friends who live here in the Pittsburgh area and I have an even larger network of friends who live in other states and other countries. I value all of these friendships and they have gotten me through a lot of difficult times. They have made me realize that there ARE people I can lean on and with whom I can share my weaknesses.

I hope you know that there's wisdom in holding back. Some of the best advice I've gotten has been that hard times come and they pass, so don't make any rash or life-changing decisions when you're in the middle of an emotionally difficult time. Also, as I've been learning, there are times when it's important to keep your mouth shut. There truly is also a time for saying what needs to be said, but learning the difference is what's the most important. Sometimes humility is the most obvious in a person in what they DON'T say. God, help me to remember that. :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Grateful - 12/24/2010

Today I am grateful for...

Cozy days. Today, we stayed at home and got in the Christmas mood. I have to say that after today, I actually have the warm fuzzies that I like to feel at this time of year. I spent the early part of my morning with all three of my fellas in bed with me. We had a big breakfast, we watched Christmas movies, listened to Christmas music, drank egg nog and ate cookies all day. I baked, I made fudge and we had a wonderful day at home.

Linus' reminder of what Christmas is all about.

A long walk. I walked for nearly 2 hours in a pretty hard, windy snow. It was lovely, though. I smiled the whole time and I felt more grateful than I have in a long time.

Our new basement room. Sean and my dad have spent a lot of time working down there and their labor has paid off. It's a lovely, warm space where we will all enjoy spending time.

Acts of kindness that aren't particularly random. They're good for all the people involved.

Layoffs. I could look at the downside, but I'm not going to. We are able to have Sean with us all the time (for now) and we are all enjoying that part of it. So thank you, God, for the layoff. :)

Ignoring the stress. I have had a lot of different things that have tried to preoccupy me, and many have succeeded in the last few weeks. However, today I chose to forget all of those things and just enjoy myself...hence, the smile on my face and the warm fuzzies in my heart.

Christmas movies. It's A Wonderful Life. Miracle on 34th Street, The Nativity Story, A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas. They never cease to lighten my mood and remind me about what is important, even when it's not Christmas. So much more this time of year.

Time with my friends. Last night, I got to hang out with Tammy for some girl time, and this evening I got to hang out with Slavina and Roy and their little baby, Gabriel. Holding a sweet little baby for 3 hours made the boring (but successful) Steelers game a lot better.

I hope that you take a moment this weekend to remember what is truly important.
Have a wonderful, blessed, safe, happy, cozy, memorable Christmas.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grateful - 12/15/10

There are days where everything seems to make sense. Then there are days where everything you say, everything you hear, everything you think sounds like dialogue from Pingu or like Charlie Brown's teacher. "Wah wah wah wah..." The wonderful thing is that God is faithful and loving and generous and caring no matter which day I'm having. His is the voice that shoots through the fog and cuts straight into my heart. I love that about Him. He is always present in my life, even when I'm not.

I'm grateful for...

Steelers tickets! Bill (my brother) and I had a fun time seeing our favorite team play. We saw Polamalu make two interceptions, one of which he ran for a touchdown. It was cold and rainy, we ate food that wasn't good for us, we dressed unfashionably and even adopted some thick Pittsburgh accents when we felt like it. But we cheered our team to victory and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

Kittens. The Debate Kittens are a group of women I came in contact with online. We started out debating politics, religion, news...whatever was debate-worthy. Over time, though, we have become friends. The Kittens are incredibly supportive and thoughtful. Because of them, I started to really think about what I believe about certain things. Because of them I know that I have a place to stay in pretty much any state in the country. We don't all share the same beliefs, but that doesn't seem to matter.

Layoffs. This time around it's been harder, but I'm still grateful that we get to have Sean here with us. Plus, he and my dad have been going crazy trying to finish the basement remodel and it's looking great. There WILL be a guest suite/hangout room down there soon! Looking forward to making use of that space.

Random acts of kindness. I LOVE to do them because it's one of the instances in life where I can feel God smiling. Random acts of kindness are an opportunity to be an extension of God's hand, even in a small way.

My car. It's been such a blessing to me to have it. I know that getting it was a "God thing." I'm also grateful that both of our cars are paid off. Not everyone can say that.

The empty fridge. This morning, I opened the fridge to find something to feed the kids, but there was nothing much in there. I had to laugh...and then I had to go grocery shopping. The empty fridge means I've been really busy doing fun things, so I haven't had time to shop.  However, I did go shopping and bought enough to last us a couple of weeks. It IS possible to feed a family of four decently for under $75 a week...even less if you know what you're doing. (Bows)

Snow...I'm cringing as I type it, but maybe I can do the "fake it till you make it" thing. Maybe someday I'll REALLY be grateful for snow, but until that day comes I am grateful that we're another day closer to Spring! The six inches on the ground is making me happy for the coming of Spring.

Having coffee with a UK friend. I have a friend who lives across the ocean who says that reading my gratitudes is like sitting down and chatting with me over coffee. It's a nice visual and I hope that's how people feel when they read what I write.

Hearing my kids laugh until they can't breathe. There is no better sound. It's impossible not to smile when kids are laughing from their guts. :)

Loving myself. I haven't always loved myself, but I am learning to do that these days. I love that God created me. I love that he has had a purpose for me from before time. I love that He considers me lovely, even when I don't. I can love myself because HE loves me.

I hope you realize that it's good to love yourself. I hope you have some laugh-till-it-hurts moments...I know I'd love a few. I hope you know that God provides for your needs, so worrying isn't helpful. I also hope you learn to live well, no matter what your bank account balance says. Living well has nothing to do with money and everything to do with attitude and kindness.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A few of my favorite things...

I did one of those Facebook surveys, so here are my answers...

Favorite sights:
1. Sean walking in the door after work.
2. The view of Pittsburgh when you come out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel (day OR night)
3. Sunshine through the windows of my bedroom.

Favorite sounds:
1. Laughter
2. Music (it soothes my soul)
3. Bacon frying

Favorite tastes:
1. The first bite of my favorite foods (the first bite is always the best)
2. Coffee with flavored creamer (peppermint mocha or pumpkin spice)
3. Chocolate (all of it...except the really dark stuff)

Favorite touches:
1. My camera in my hand
2. The sun on my face while I'm on one of my long, fast walks.
3. A big hug from my man (he makes me feel little...that's hard to do)

Favorite smells:
1. Banana muffins baking
2. A new magazine full of perfume sample ads
3. My kids, freshly showered