Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My family and I went out of town this weekend. My youngest cousin got married and we couldn’t be happier. I come from a small close-knit family, and not having any siblings, my cousins are important to me. I am the oldest and have enjoyed watching the three of them, as well as myself, grow up. Though I wish we all lived closer, I always enjoy the times we get to see one another, and know that there is always a special bond there.

Along with the packing and preparation a mom has to do before any trip, I have also done quite a bit of reflecting. Thinking about how far the four of us have come, and contemplating where our lives will take us. Josh, my cousin, has grown up to be an amazing young man. He is the type of man a mother hopes to see their son become. He deserves to have every dream for the future come true, and I know he will make an amazing husband and father.

With that being said, I would like to offer some advice. Though I am no expert on the subject, I have managed to stay married to my husband for 13 years, and can honestly say that they have been the best, most fulfilling years of my life. So Josh, I hope you take these pearls of wisdom that I offer, and know that they come from the heart, and that I wish the two of you nothing but joy.

Through the years I have learned that happiness is easy to achieve when your life is going smoothly. It’s when times are hard that you will need to remember to love, support  and enjoy each other. Communication. I can’t stress it enough. Learn to listen with your whole being, not just your ears. Not all speaking is done with words. But the most important advice I can give, what I believe is the key to my marital bliss, is affirmation. Be sure to always say thank you and remind each other how much you love one another every day.It’s the little things like that mean a lot. Fights happen and hurtful things get said, but a strong foundation built on love and mutual respect will help you weather any storm. Not matter what, enjoy your family. Love, and let yourself be loved, there is no better feeling in the world. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some Gave All...

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend. A time for families to grill out and have fun in the sun. In my neck of the woods, in Northwest Indiana where it’s not warm all year round, it means the official opening of beaches and public pools. And let's not forget the Monday off. Though the actual date of Memorial Day is May 30th, the powers that be decided to turn it into a three-day holiday weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971. But how many Americans truly focus on the actual holiday? How many even know the real reason for it? Not enough in my opinion.

Memorial Day was meant to be special day. One set aside to remember, mourn and pay respect to the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice ensuring our freedoms. Its purpose is to honor those who lost their lives defending this country and its citizens. Yet year after year, the true reason slips further into the background. Instead, we use it as a reason to get together for a long weekend of grilling, drinking and partying and to celebrate the beginning of summer. When did this happen? And why? Why is it that each passing generation seems to care less and have less pride in our country?

I know we are in a recession. I realize our nation is having some major growing pains right now. But we still live in America, the greatest country in the world, and I for one am proud. We all should be proud. We are lucky enough to live in a country where we have as many rights as we do. And we should be grateful to the soldiers who fought for those freedoms. We need to do more to show our thankfulness to their families for their sacrifices as well.

Back in the 90’s Billy Ray Cyrus sang a song that sums up what I am trying to say perfectly. “Love your country and live with pride and don’t forget those who died. America can’t you see, all gave some and some gave all. Some stood through for the red, white and blue and some had to fall. So if you ever think of me, think of all your liberties and recall, some gave all.”

We need to work on bringing the true meaning of this holiday back. While we are enjoying our picnics and partying, let us take some time to talk to our kids about what we have thanks to these fallen soldiers. Let’s participate in a National Moment of Remembrance where, on May 30th at 3pm your local time, everyone pauses and and has a moment of silence for those who died. And we need to have pride. Pride in our country and our soldiers who were willing to give all to protect us. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 14, 2012

An Ode to Mom

As Mother’s Day nears I, and I’m sure most of you, think about my Mother and all she has done for me. All the sacrifices and sleepless nights. All because she loves me. Because she is a Mother. Don’t get me wrong, I think about her all the time, no matter what time of year it is. I am fortunate enough to have an amazing relationship with my Mom. We live close, see each other often, and talk on the phone at least once a day. She is my best friend as well as my closest confidant. She is my Mother after all. But Mother’s Day is different. It is a special day. One day of the year set aside to honor the women who gave us life. To show our gratitude for the love as well as the lessons, though some were hard learned. So this is for you Mom,. My way of making sure you know just how amazing you truly are. Happy Mother’s Day.

My Mom always tells me how proud she is of me. She lets me know time and time again what a strong, caring, intelligent and witty woman I have grown up to be. Well... All I can say about that is that I am a product of my environment. You set a wonderful example. You showed me the importance of believing in and standing up for your beliefs.Through you I learned how to be strong and roll with the punches. You taught me kindness and generosity,  how rewarding helping others is. And you instilled in me a sense of humor. You showed me it is ok to laugh at yourself. Life is too short and hard to take so seriously. It’s not like anyone gets out alive in the the end, right?

Words alone cannot convey the love and respect I have for my Mother. She is everything to me as well as everything I am. I found a quote by an American poet, Sharon Doubaigo, that I feel perfectly expresses my sentiments to my Mom. “My Mother is a poem I’ll never be able to write, though everything I write is a poem to my Mother.” So make sure you let your Mother know how appreciated she is. Not just on Mother’s Day, but every chance you get. After all... she deserves it for putting up with you. I’m just sayin’.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The secrets we keep...

A secret is defined as something that is kept from the knowledge of others or shared only confidentially with a few. We all have them. We all hear them. And we all share them. Some are small, insignificant even. Others are so big that if ever told, the effects would be tremendous. I myself am the keeper of quite a few. Some of which are mine, and some belong to others. Some of those secrets I have never told to another soul. I have kept them tucked away in my vault. Another skeleton added to my closet. Others, for one reason or another, I have told.

Secrets are a burden. The gravity of keeping something quiet, hidden from everyone else, well that can weigh a body down. In my experience, the bigger the secret, the more likely it is to get out. Benjamin Franklin once said that three could keep a secret, if two of them are dead. I know first hand how hefty the task of keeping a secret can be. I also know the terror of having a secret exposed, and the relief that comes, mixed with the fear, when the weight is lifted.

Not all secrets are bad. We teach our children the difference between good and bad secrets. We tell them that good secrets are ok to keep, but we must share the bad ones. Why then, do we as adults not follow our own advice? We tend to sit on the bad ones. We hide them and let them fester like a cancer, eating away at us from the inside. We wear these secrets like old, ill fitting clothes that, for whatever reason,we refuse to let go of.

In my younger years I had secrets. Awful ones that I believed would ruin lives, mine as well as others, if they were told. And they did get told, as secrets most often do. It was hard for awhile. Lives were changed. But I was relieved also. I felt like I could breathe deeply for the first time ever. Since then experience and age has taught me that just like we teach our children, you shouldn’t keep bad secrets. I never want to wear those clothes again. I’m not saying I run out and tell every little tidbit of information that comes my way, but I have learned when something is too big and too important not to tell. I recently read a book, “Water for Elephants” which was an amazing read by the way, and in it was a line that stuck with me... “With a secret like that,at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.” I’m just sayin’.