Yesterday’s Berries

Today I went out looking for a single Carolina Wolfberry.

I knew I wasn’t going to find one.  Their fruit appears at the beginning of winter.  We are now moving well into spring.  But I could see their leaves everywhere…remnants of what was once filled with bright red berries.  And so I had to look.

I had no idea when I was out this past winter that our world was about to take a giant turn.  I didn’t stop to give thanks for such simple treasures.  Carolina wolfberries, aside, I didn’t even think to be grateful for nature walks with friends.  I didn’t think to be thankful for full grocery store aisles…beans and toilet paper, paper towels and rice.  I didn’t think to be scared of a shortage of ventilators or a lack of a national plan for a pandemic.  I had no idea my viewpoint of the world was so incredibly naive and rooted on the idea of normalcy and stability.  I had taken so much for granted.

So when I saw those leaves today, I just had to look.  I wanted to remember those carefree days from just a few months ago when I didn’t worry about food supply or masks or the unknown.  Those days, in hindsight, were blissful.  There wasn’t anything hanging over my head threatening the life that I knew so well and loved.

I really looked today.  I searched between all the cracks and crevices.  I reached down to the very bottom of each plant.  I would have been happy even to see a dried up berry still stuck to a branch.  No luck.  Spring has sprung and with it, all reminders of the winter have morphed into something different.

But, as everyone knows, Spring takes Winter and morphs it into something even more incredible.  What if this is our winter and there’s a spring just around the bend?

We are living in the midst of a crisis.  Right now it’s a COVID-19 crisis.  There is fear and anxiety all around us.  We are living in fear of the unknown.  Wondering how this will impact each of us individually.  Wondering how this will impact us as a whole.  Wondering how our economy will survive the drastic measures of social distancing.  Wondering if we’ll ever have the reassurance of the norm again.

But we’ve been living in a cultural crisis a whole lot longer than we’ve been living in fear of this novel coronavirus.  We just haven’t had the courage to face it.

COVID-19 has brought with it an awakening.  A moment to retrench.  A moment to see our lives and the rush of being busy in all its clarity.

Where once our culture rushed to pick up dinner, now we gather round our dining room table, together, with home-cooked meals.  Where once many dropped off their kids at the local public school, now parents are forced to face their children all.day.long and to see them without the tint of rose-colored glasses.  Where once families rushed from extra-curricular to extra-curricular, we now have a moment to breathe deeply.  To examine our lives at a pace worthy of examining.

This could be a turning point.  If we just allow it.

The world has seriously picked up a pace that none of us can keep up with.  With the advent of smart phones and social media, our worlds suddenly became so fast paced that our brains are crashing in the race to keep up with everything around us.

Every event has become a moment to capture.  We take photos and memorialize moments that look perfect on Instagram and Facebook.  Extra-curricular activities are no longer a privilege…they’ve become an expectation of success.  Birthday parties have become Olympic-sized events, posed on social media to impress.  Where once we simply tried to keep up with the Joneses, now we have  mastered the art of sacrificing precious time with our families to keep up the Joneses AND their kids.  There is always a drive to do more, to be better, to impress the world around us.  And our world around us has stretched…we no longer live lives that revolve around our communities and neighborhoods.  All the world is connected and we rush to connect.

We have become a people that glorifies perfection, a people seeking acceptance and a people who have managed to get every priority out of order.  We have become a self-centered culture who tries in vain to find meaning, only to misunderstand where true meaning lies.

This race that we have gotten swept up in has forced us into a mode of flight, fight or freeze and our brains are tired.  So, so tired.

Today I went out looking for something.  A little bit of yesterday.  But time has forced the seasons to change and it has left its indelible mark on everything.  Everywhere life is changing and moving forward.

But you know what?  I’m glad I didn’t find a single wolfberry, because at some point, I stopped looking backwards and I began looking to see what spring had brought with it.  I was delighted by what I found.  Sea ox-eye daisies in bloom as far as the eye could see.  Ripe dewberries just asking to be picked.  Indian blanketflowers, limewater brookweed, seaside heliotrope, all blooming.  Butterflies.  Ladybugs.  Life in bloom, life in ordered motion all around me.  The beauty of nature marching forward oblivious to the chaos of humanity.

Maybe it’s time for me to accept that things may never be what they once were, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be beautiful.  It’s time to accept what is and move forward.

I’m tired of rushing.  And this pandemic has given me a glimpse of a spring yet to come.  A spring where I don’t have to rush to keep up.  A spring where I can just be with my children and relish them in all their amazingness.  A spring where I can remember to be thankful for every little blessing.  A spring where a home-cooked meal and a moment to breathe deeply are worth more than keeping up with a world that has quietly spun out of control.

Kindness Matters

From the moment my feet hit the floor, I am assaulted by words.

Often without purpose.  Often without malice.  Often without meaning.  But often with hurt.

Sometimes it’s personal.  A complaint about this or that.  A snide remark, a passing comment.  Sometimes it’s an insult tossed out toward mankind not directed at me per se, but it attaches itself to me regardless.   Sometimes it’s a generalization, but a mean one that I take to heart.

These words.  They enter my house through living people, through social media, through mainstream media, through print and mail.  Lots of messages.  Lots of comments.  Lots of words.

So.many.words.  Every day.

And in the midst of the onslaught of words, I wonder if we’ve forgotten.

Have we forgotten that KINDNESS MATTERS?

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We’ve become this people who think we must have an opinion about everything.  That we must speak about everything.  That everyone is seeking our advice and that we must offer it, in no uncertain terms.

We’ve become a culture plagued by verbal diarrhea.

We don’t know when to stop.  Or maybe we don’t know how to stop.

But we must stop.

There will be times that we don’t stop, though.  And for the times when we don’t stop, we must at least pause.  And remember.  Kindness matters.

Just keep repeating that to yourself.  Kindness matters.  Kindness matters.  Kindness matters.

There’s an ugly root beneath all these words.  I don’t know the root.  Maybe it’s unacceptance.  Or maybe it’s unjustified judgment.  Maybe it’s the need to feel heard.  To feel opinionated.  To feel valid.  To feel accepted.  I don’t know.

What I do know is that words have power beyond our understanding.  Words have the power to get into our psyches and guide our actions.  Words have the power to build someone up and the power to tear someone down.  Words can be amazing, uplifting, rejuvenating and words can be ugly, mean and humiliating.

At the end of the day, it matters.  Because all the words we’ve heard have seeped into the inner recesses of our souls.  And they matter.

We have the power to choose which words we use.  And I implore you to remember…kindness matters.

A Fraud

I don’t actually know what I’m doing.

Not in mothering.  Not in marriage.  Not in relationships, in general.

Not in educating.  Not in domestic responsibilities.  Not in business.

Certainly not in humaning.

I am not an expert.  In anything.  I hold multiple degrees.  I am well trained in various areas from accounting to herbalism.  I have taught myself how to cook and clean and do laundry.  I have learned to make medicines and file taxes and follow an educational philosophy that respects children as born persons.  I have studied and read and learned.  I have traveled and I have loved and I have birthed babies.  Yet I am not an expert at anything.

Sometimes I feel inadequate.  Like I’m a perpetual student over here, never quite achieving competency.  Other times, I’m just resigned to the idea that I am not an expert.  I think of myself more as a jack-of-all trades.

Other days I try to convince myself that surely I must be an expert at something.  I know so much about herbs and healing and alternative health care.  Until I am humbly reminded that for all I know, there’s still so much I don’t know.  I tell myself I’m an expert at educating my children.  Until I see a hole in their learning or hear a criticism that makes me rethink our methods.

Most days I go to bed reminded that I’m really not an expert at anything.

Except being broken.

I’m good at that.  Really good.  Expert level good.

Being broken doesn’t require a degree.  Or years of study.  It doesn’t require a paycheck or a certain household income.  It doesn’t matter my skin color or my weight or my religion.  All it requires is a quick look in the mirror and the humility to admit that I’m a mess.

And I promise.  I’m a mess.

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Being an expert at being broken might not be a bad thing.  It certainly makes me more compassionate.  Because I know how you’re feeling.  My road might look different than yours, but it’s all still a rubbled mess.  And I get how that mess distracts us and deters us and sometimes defines us.

Being broken leaves lots of room for growth and fixing.  And that might just be the point of this long journey we call life…a chance to change and be the better person, the kinder person, the person I’d want in my life.

The best thing about being broken might just be that it keeps me humble.  It helps me journey alongside those in my life (even my kids…no, especially, my kids).  ‘Cause I don’t really know what I’m doing either.  And sometimes having somebody that’s there in the trenches with you is way better than having someone preach from outside the arena.

So there it is.  I’m a fraud at most everything I do.  Except being broken.  And I’m okay with that.

Wishing You an Intentional New Year

Dear friends,

As the darkest day of the year approaches, I find myself looking forward to a new year filled with light and love.   It’s so exciting to face a blank slate of 365 days.  365 new chances.  365 blank pages for me to intentionally live and write.  But I do wonder, how will I choose to live this next year?

I look back at the year that is coming to a close and I think about how I lived the past 365 days.  I wonder if I used this year wisely.  Did I make the most of each day?  Was I helpful?  Was I kind?  Did I make a difference?  Did I live the year with intention?

Because let’s face it…some days, some years, well they can just seem less intentional than others.  Begun without a clear direction of where we’re headed.  And when we head into the unknown without a thought of intention, we typically find ourselves lost somewhere down the road.  For better or worse.

I’ve never been a huge fan of resolutions but I do love the idea of living with intention.

The root word of resolution is resolve, which, by definition, means to decide firmly on a course of action. On the other hand, intend, by definition, means to design something for a particular purpose.

I delight in that thought…to design something for a particular purpose.  It sounds poetic and lofty without the weight of a firm decision.  My mindset morphs from something to struggle beneath to something to strive for just by changing a word.

When we choose to live with intention, we open up a whole new world to ourselves.  No longer do we get to the end of our days wondering where those 24 hours went or look back at the month and rack our brains wondering what we did this month.  When we live with intention, we live in this moment, with purpose.  And living with intention, at its simplest, is being an active participant in our own lives.

It’s about this moment right now and how this moment will set the path for our future days.  While the past tends to influence us, it doesn’t dictate a path for us, so we don’t waste time wallowing.  We are only promised this moment right now and when we live it with intention, that intention helps us stay the path that we so desperately want our lives to follow.   Living intentionally isn’t the same as carpe diem.  Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning seize the day, but the meaning is meant to apply to the present only; to not be concerned about the future, whereas living with intention is living with a purpose.  Living with a purpose implies that it isn’t just about the here and now, but it’s about purpose for all things yet to come.  All 365 days yet unlived.

For us, 2019 was a year of intention.  It was 365 days of living with purpose.

365 days full of so many extra-ordinary moments.  Birthdays celebrated.  Teeth lost.  Recitals sung, played and danced.  Stories shared.  Moments lived.

Joseph joined Katie in the world of dance.  Dancing truly brings joy to their hearts and I delight in watching them share the experience together.  Joseph spent a lot of time writing and drawing and dreaming of the day he will become President.  William spent his days swinging his tennis racket and soaking up all the time he could get on the court, stopping only occasionally to create something delicious in the kitchen.  Andrew spent the year still happily marching to the beat of his own drum, some days creating beauty out of clay, other days dreaming up a world of dragons inside his mind.  Katie spent the year conquering her world one determined step at a time, mastering rollerblading, taking off in reading and delighting in finally being able to sing “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” and actually meaning it.

The children and I continued to bask in our educational journey, relishing each book we read, joyfully greeting each bit of nature we met and basking in the various art forms that fed our souls.  We spent many hours soaking up the richness and serenity of the Gulf and many more hours walking trails, discovering flora and fauna we had not yet met (this year we managed to encounter two rattlesnakes along our journeys).  Dax continued to make this amazing life of ours possible through his dedication and hard work with Daxsells, his realty and management company.  On my own journey, I finished my herbal studies through Sage Mountain Herbal Center, started a small herbal consulting business and enrolled myself in the East West School of Planetary Herbology.

In February, we camped beneath the stars where the Hill Country meets West Texas and marveled at the beauty that Texas holds.  In March, we joined my parents in the woods (and again in October and again for Thanksgiving)…us in a tent, Mom and Dad in their 5th wheel.  In June, Dax and I traveled, sans kids, to Fredericksburg and basked in the glory of being alone together and remembering why we fell in love so many years ago.  In September, we traveled, with kids, to California to stand in awe at the base of the Redwoods, climb a volcano and peek into the tidepools of the Pacific Ocean.  All of those journeys gave us a moment to press the reset button.  To remember that this life is precious.

Soon it will be January 1st.  I don’t want 2020 to be the year remembered for the shows I watched or the Facebook feed I scrolled through.  I don’t want to wake up this time next year and wonder where my 365 opportunities disappeared to.  I want this year to be remembered for the intentional moments.  The moments I lived with purpose.  So here’s my wish for you…may you set aside the New Year’s resolutions, may you look around you and delight in the present and may you choose to live these next 365 days with intention. 

Blessings to you and yours from all of us,

Daxson, Stacie, Joey (12), William (10), Andrew (8) and Katie (6)

Chihuahua Syndrome

**This is pulled from the dusty archives (circa 2017)…kind of a second chance for old words…so if it looks familiar, it’s because it is.  Here’s hoping that it inspires you to live a little richer, breathe a little deeper, and appreciate a little more fully.**

You know that whole idea that little dogs that hang out with big dogs think they’re big dogs because they look at the other dogs and just assume they’re the same size?  We call that the Chihuahua Syndrome over here.  And Katie has it.

She hangs out with the boys all week long and while (luckily!) she doesn’t think she’s a boy, she does think she’s much bigger and much more capable than she is.  Case in point:  A few months ago the boys climbed up on top of the air conditioning unit and were jumping off with wild abandon.  Katie followed, thinking she was quite capable of the same dangerous feat and ended up spraining her wrist in the process.

Sometimes it works to her benefit.  She learned to swim at two, well and without fear, because her 4, 6 and 8 year old brothers were doing it.  She “does” school and eagerly “writes” letters alongside the boys.  She’s quite capable of self-care, never realizing that she’s got a two year gap between herself and the next brother.  She demands equality, telling us that she can stay up as late as the boys, she can go on that ride at the fun park.  Doggone it, she can DO whatever the boys can do.  And it’s not about gender to her.  It’s about a fuzzy view of self.

She looks at them as if it’s a mirror that reflects her while completely avoiding the fact that she is, in essence, nothing like them.  She’s her own unique little being and she’s not meant to live her life as a reflection of someone else.

One day recently we were out bike riding and I was explaining to William about Katie and her chihuahua syndrome and, while the essence of the topic completely escaped Katie’s thoughts, it did manage to kick her imagination into gear and she said to me, “I’m the baby chihuahua and you’re the mama chihuahua.”  After which she completely dissolved in a fit of giggles and “arfs.”

But her casual thought got me thinking.  “…you’re the mama chihuahua.”

It’s true.  So true.

I look at other moms and I treat them as a reflection of me and I begin to think that I must do what they do because, after all, I need to keep up with the big dogs.  I click from Pinterest project to Pinterest project and scan beautiful blogs with beautiful stories and I actually allow myself to see me reflected in them.  I meet a mom at playgroup and I see how calm and together she is and I think that’s what I should look like.  I gather with friends and I am sure that their ideas are the answer to everything wrong in my life and I must do things just as they do.  I allow myself to actually think that I must do whatever they do because, doggone it, even if it kills me, I must keep up with them.

I see the perfect cupcakes, the clean house, the adorably dressed children, the impeccable yard and I just keep trying to keep up.

But this is wrong.  All wrong.

Because I am bound to fall and sprain my wrist if I continue to try to keep up with the big dogs.

How can I possibly read that beautiful post that reflects the journey of that family and allow myself to think that perhaps my journey is meant to look just like that?  How can I see those Pinterest projects and think that doing something like that defines me as a mom?  How can I continue to fall into the comparison trap knowing that I’ll always find myself lacking?  How can I keep trying my best to be a big dog when I’m really just a little dog with my own little puppies?

I can try and try all I want but I’m NOT that mom.  I’m me.

See my little family over here.  We’re completely different than that family over there.  Our house looks different.  Our schooling looks different.  Our meals look different.  Our conversations sound different.  Our journey is different.

I am my own unique little being and I’m not meant to live my life as a reflection of someone else.

Cardinal Days

There’s a cardinal outside my window.  I have been hearing his voice each morning for the last few days.  The incessant “pew” of his laser.  This morning I went out to spot him.  And I couldn’t.  Despite his loud red coloring, I failed to see him hidden among the leaves.

I feel like that cardinal some days.

Bright red.  Loud.  Incessantly talking.  Yet still unseen.

I always say that mothering is a hard journey.  We’re surrounded by people all day long yet we feel lonely and unseen.  But I’m beginning to think it’s more than just mothering that’s hard…it’s humaning that’s so hard.  Because despite our need to be seen and heard, we manage to hide ourselves amongst the leaves, afraid of being seen and heard.  It’s a catch 22.

And sometimes we finally summon up the courage and we put ourselves out there, with all of our vulnerability and shame as Brene Brown encourages us to do, and we’re just not noticed.  Like the female cardinal, we blend into our surroundings, overshadowed by the vibrant beings around us.

All of the business of being human and being broken is hard. The need to be seen and heard, acknowledged and loved often overpowers rational thinking.

Sometimes all we can do is get out there, sing our little hearts out and not worry so much about being noticed.

 

A Retreat in my Mind

You know that place that the visualization gurus tell you to find.  Your happy place.  A place where you feel completely relaxed.  A place where you can close your eyes and imagine yourself there.  A place where your hunched up shoulders relax, the tension just melts away and for one brief moment, all is right in the world.

Sometimes those gurus forget to tell you that it’s got to be a place that’s written on your heart…it’s got to be carved into your DNA so you can feel it, smell it, truly be in it.

I have a place like that.  A place I slip away to when the kids are bouncing off the walls, the checkbook is missing and the bills are waiting to be paid.  A place where I feel totally accepted and happy and stress free.  A place that I can smell and see and feel when I close my eyes.

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It is a place carved into my heart.

It’s a retreat of my mind.

But this retreat wasn’t imagined into being.  It was once a real retreat.  A retreat where I walked barefoot and relished the native plants growing wild around me.

A retreat where the sun streamed in the windows and there was no pressure to do or to be, no expectation to meet.

A retreat where my kids’ eyes shone a little brighter with the immersion into a captivating summer world complete with jars of fireflies, bowls of freshly picked ripe black raspberries and adventures exploring a winding creek.

It was a home away from home.  Made possible by the thoughtfulness of one amazing vacation rental owner.

The details were attentive and deliberate.  We felt welcomed in as if the home had been waiting just for us to arrive.  The fluffed pillows, the soaps scented with essential oils, the throw over the back of the couch for the evenings when the sun had set and a chill settled over my feet.

The books on local flora and fauna just waiting to be looked through, the telescope aimed directly between the break in the trees so we could catch glimpses of stars far away.  It was all so incredibly thought-out, as if we were long-awaited guests not simply renters.

But it wasn’t just the property.  We were smack dab in the middle of a luscious valley that sparkled with waterfalls and blossomed with plants brought to the area many years ago by the Shawnee Indians.

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It was an adventure with medicinal flowers and edible plants and zip-lining through the tall trees.  It was quaint restaurants, long bike rides and the library of a nearby university lined with oft-coveted pre-1963 books.

It was lovely.  Absolutely lovely.

There is not a bad memory from that week.  Not a fight or an angry word.  Not a frustrated sigh or an impatient glance.  It was as if time stood still and we all remembered that kindness matters.  It was a moment to snuggle and whisper late into the summer evenings.  It was a moment to read with abandon, a moment to write with heart.  A moment to breathe.

And sometimes that’s what we need.  A moment to breathe.  A moment to re-live the happy moments.  A moment to escape our reality and find ourselves immersed in a peaceful memory.

There is value to visualization.  Value to remembering happy moments.  Value to imagining ourselves somewhere happy.  It gives us a moment to recenter ourselves.

It allows us to remember what that peace feels like and to find it again in this intentional moment.

 

 

 

Intention

I am overly aware of my incessant talking.  Even as I speak, I ask myself to stop.  The words spill forth regardless.  I am good at talking.

I wish I always had the right words to say.  The words to tell the world that nice matters and kindness is king.  But sometimes I don’t.  And so I just keep talking.

About stuff.

Homeschool and cooking and laundry.  The complications of raising children and balancing a marriage.  Living in South  Texas.  Things I know something about.  Because life?  I’m just not an expert on that topic.

Sometimes I try to just be still.  To sit and wait.  To listen.  I’m somewhat terrible at it.  If I stop momentarily then my mind begins racing with ideas of what I should be doing.

I remind myself that stillness and quiet matter.

Because it is in the stillness and quiet that I can connect to my actual thoughts.  Not the thoughts that spill out incessantly but the thoughts that form my soul.

And so I sit.  Quietly.  Often impatiently.  But persistently.  And my soul delights in the stillness.  I breathe in.  I breathe out.  I stop.  It is good.

We’re all busy distracting ourselves.  That’s the reality of a culture that lives with smart phones and overcrowded schedules.

It’s unintentional living at its worst. 

The way we wake up and our feet hit the floor and we’re slammed into the first moment of the day without any quiet, without any stillness.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We get to choose.  We can flow along with the mainstream culture and hide in busy, distracted ways from the thoughts that connect us to being human or we can choose to stop.  Breathe.  Be still.

It only takes intention.

Vision and Action make Little Dreams Come True

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There is a quote I like from Joel Barker who is a popular speaker and was the first person to popularize the concept of paradigm shifts for the corporate world.  He said,

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision merely passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”

The world has plenty of people who are dreamers and plenty of people who take action, but it’s a little more rare to meet people who combine the two and make real changes in the world.  It takes passion and commitment to make a difference and it is a lovely treat when someone like that runs across your path.  It’s inspiration at its finest.

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photo credit: Sebastian Rodriguez

Recently, for the second year in a row, thanks to the vision and action of Dr. Dino Mulic and his wife, Dr. Sangmi Lim, my kids had the opportunity to play on the grand piano on the Performing Arts Center’s stage at Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi and Joseph was invited to sing along with the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale in the final performance of the week.  A & M – CC boasts an incredible performing arts center – one of the top 35 in the United States so this was a pretty big deal.  The stage and piano look massive to me; I can only imagine what it looks like to a child.

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I took William and Joseph on Thursday night to watch Drs. Mulic and Lim perform in a duo concert and listened in awe as their fingers swept over the keys.  After the performance, Joseph commented to Dr. Mulic, “Sometimes I’m nervous when I play because I worry that I’ll make mistakes,”  Dr. Mulic kindly responded, “Oh it’s fine, we’re human.”  Joseph said, “But I didn’t hear you make any.”  Dr. Mulic said, “I actually did.”  Those simple words…”I actually did”…caused a massive shift in my kids’ anxiety about playing onstage.  Dr. Mulic’s words made a huge impact on my boys that day…the struggle to perform is real and Dr. Mulic never made it seem any less.  It’s those kind of people…passionate, kind, determined and driven, yet fully human, with mistakes and struggles, that I want to be around to inspire my kids.

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

Saturday morning, my boys donned their suits and Katie dressed in her fanciest dress and we were off for the big performance.  It was such a delightful experience for each of them (even the one that bowed backwards and the other who had a rough time getting started).  Daxson once asked me why the kids have to participate in recitals…this is why.  They were so confident, so proud to play for an audience.  The recital was the culmination of all their time spent studying and practicing.  We are incredibly thankful to our talented (and patient!) piano instructor, Margaret Jonker.  She has been guiding my children in their piano studies for 2 years now (Andrew and Katie for 1 year) and we have loved watching them grow and blossom as musicians.

We returned on Sunday afternoon and received the treat of a lifetime.  8 grand pianos on stage, 8 professional pianists (plus a sextet and a quartet of community musicians who each played a few pieces), the Youth Chorale, and all of our favorite songs from The Sound of Music.  It. was. AMAZING.  I have never had the opportunity to hear multiple pianos played at once…when I closed my eyes, I swore the music was being made by more than just pianos!

Joseph joined the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale this last fall.  This is the first city-wide youth choir Corpus Christi has ever had and it is directed by the talented Nan Borden along with Lorri Dow, Alexis Garcia, Katie King and Nick Lopez.  Joseph was a bit hesitant to join, as he didn’t know many people in it, but this has turned out to be a highlight of his year.  He loves all of his directors and he LOVES singing (as is evident in the performance).

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

The most remarkable thing about this entire celebration was the level of passion that was present.  From our piano instructor and choir directors to the founders of the program, the center hummed with passion and enthusiasm.  Sebastian Rodriguez, a music student at A & M, did an amazing job with the photography and Matt Perez, owner of The Piano Gallery, was kind enough to lend the celebration all of the beautiful pianos that you see pictured.

Next year, 2020, Piano Celebration Week is scheduled for March 27th thru April 4th.  We already have our calendar marked…won’t you please mark yours, too?  And if you believe in the vision and actions of Drs. Mulic and Sim, please consider making a donation by contacting Dr. Mulic at dino.mulic@tamucc.edu.

A Glorious New Year Awaits

Yesterday was New Year’s Eve.  I had planned to sit down and reflect on the year that was and the year that is to come.  Instead I spent the day on the couch shielding my eyes from light and trying to block out the noise of my rambunctious children while I nursed myself back to health from an annoying virus.

I thought about the day.  It had been awful…not just because I felt miserable but because I let my misery drive my actions.  I had barked at my kids, shooed them away, and tried my best to ignore them.

Some days are like that.  There are good days and bad days and days in between.  There are days we reflect on as we lay in bed at night and wish we had done everything differently; there are days we look back upon with joy and gratitude; there are days that thankfully end when our heads hit the pillows; there are days that drag into the next.  There are wasted days and thoughtfully spent days.  Joyful days and sorrowful days.

Years can be that way, too.

Some years are amazing; some are rough.  Some start out rough and end beautifully.  Some years we claim to be our best ever while other years passed by uneventfully marked, but no less lived.

But the beauty is that just as each new day offers a new beginning, so does a new year. The new year brings us each a gift…a book with our name on the cover, followed by 365 pages.  365 blank pages just waiting to be filled by the way we choose to live.  365 opportunities.  365 pages just waiting to be written.

Some days, some years, they just seem less intentional.  Begun without a clear direction of where we’re headed.

I’ve never been a huge fan of resolutions but I do love the idea of living with intention.

The root word of resolution is resolve, which, by definition, means to decide firmly on a course of action. On the other hand, intend, by definition, means to design something for a particular purpose.

I delight in that thought…to design something for a particular purpose.  It sounds poetic and lofty without the weight of a firm decision.  My mindset morphs from something to struggle beneath to something to strive for just by changing a word.

When we choose to live with intention, we open up a whole new world to ourselves.  No longer do we get to the end of our days wondering where those 24 hours went or look back at the month and rack our brains wondering what we did this month.  When we live with intention, we live in this moment, with purpose.  And living with intention, at its simplest, is being an active participant in our own lives.

It’s about this moment right now and how this moment will set the path for our future days.  While the past tends to influence us, it doesn’t dictate a path for us, so don’t waste time wallowing.  We are only promised this moment right now and when we live it with intention, that intention helps us stay the path that we so desperately want our lives to follow.   Living intentionally isn’t the same as carpe diem.  Carpe diem is a Latin phrase meaning seize the day, but the meaning is meant to apply to the present only; to not be concerned about the future, whereas living with intention is living with a purpose.  Living with a purpose implies that it isn’t just about the here and now, but it’s about purpose for all things yet to come.  All 365 days yet unlived.

It’s January 1st.  I’ve managed to do the dishes, wash the clothes and take a nap.  I still feel miserable.  This certainly isn’t how I wanted to write the first day of 2019, but there’s still something intentional about using this time wisely, both to heal and to think.  I don’t want 2019 to be the year remembered for the shows I watched or the Facebook feed I scrolled through.  I don’t want to wake up this time next year and wonder where my 365 opportunities disappeared to.  I want this year to be remembered for the intentional moments.  The moments I lived with purpose.  What are your intentions for 2019?