Saturday, July 27, 2013

Choosing to Love

19 years ago when I met Paul, we chose to love each other. It was definitely not love at first sight. We were both in our mid-thirties, committed to settling down, hopeful about building a family; we each had a vision for a relationship and therefore, we chose to love each other.

Love is always a choice. Sometimes it comes easier than others, but it's always a choice. The last three years have been stressful ones around here. They have been "good" years, for sure, but some of the hard choices we've made have meant that things are more stressful than at other times. I come from two long lines of hard-working people, so when I am under stress, my natural instinct is to put my head down and work. If I do that for too long, I start to close my heart. The work becomes my focus and I forget to let in and out the love I have for the very people one whose behalf I'm working.

That realization is what started me on my quest to open my heart back in February. Since then, I have been allowing myself to remember how much I love the people around me. For the most part, my expressions of love have been met with appreciation. The "side effect" to being closed-hearted is that it tends to make the people around me closed-hearted too. So when I remember love is a choice and open my heart again, they don't always do so instantly. Sometimes, they have to learn to trust again. That part is not my purview. All I can do is offer, sincerely, what I have to offer. Part of the process of opening the heart is to notice and remove my demands that others accept or reciprocate that love.

There have been many sweet moments of love, lately, and one awkward one. A sweet moment came in reaching out to a younger relative and she reached back to say, "That is just what I needed to hear today." Another sweet moment was my open-heartedness toward a total stranger at the bank led him to say, "I am coming in here everyday. You make me feel so good about myself."

The awkward moment came in the ER during an unplanned cardio-version on Tuesday. Though all the ER personnel had said he wouldn't, my kind, amazing cardiologist showed up (off-call) to check on me in person. He got there at the exact moment they began administering my phenterol and I was a little --well -- drunk. I looked at him and said in a gushy voice, "Dr. Vaisman, you're my superhero." It was a a little awkward, but he took the complement with grace.

I have just ended yet another unplanned heart-related hospital stint -- only 4 days this time, in two different hospitals, with two different cardio procedures -- and I have added a lot more "loves" to my life-list. So many kind people cared for me in the past four days and so many people near and far have reached out to me with love and care. I am grateful that  my heart is open to receive it!

Hey, Dr. Vaisman and Dr. Sanchez, maybe that's why my heart keeps beating so fast!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sound Track of my Life

I'm a "morning person." I used to be quite sadly alone in the morning and, in fact, if I go in to wake up Dear Hubby or "the Bigs," they've been known to shout, "I'm up, I'm up -- don't sing."  Then along came the Littles and like most youngsters, they're morning people too.  We quite often use the radio on the kitchen stereo in the mornings to listen to music, but just as often we're listening to a playlist on my iPod.

Music has been such an important part of my life and, dare I say it?, has become even more since the advent of the iPod and MP3 player. Being able to have the music of my choosing that fits my mood any time I want it -- I love that!  My iPod has songs that remind me of both happy and sad times in my life, songs from high school all the way to present; I have playlists for going to sleep (when that's challenging), lists to inspire exercise or reflection and playlists from special events and trainings. These songs immediately bring to mind loved ones far and near. They are a kind of soundtrack of my life. Sometimes hearing one of these songs reminds me to write a note or send an email to reach out and say, "I see you. Thank you for being in my life."

Recently I noticed I had quite a few cheery morning songs amassed and decided to put together a morning songs playlist. Our new tradition is to start each day listening to our "Good Morning" soundtrack. It's an eclectic mix of songs that make us smile. Since we started the morning playlist, I've noticed that we are all cheerier and things go more smoothly. It may not be a pretty sight, but anytime you can get Mama dancing in the kitchen, it's going to be a better day. Also, I can't help but wonder when the kids are grown up, will hearing one of these songs remind them of home? Will they remember somewhere there is a mama who still loves them, will they crave  eggs or oatmeal, will they call their siblings?

 Here's the list; let me know if you have any suggestions for additions. Maybe it will inspire you make your own good morning list -- and then share it with us, of course!

Good Morning (LP Version) Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor & Gene Kelly
Good Morning (feat. TobyMac) Mandisa & tobyMac
First Day of My Life Bright Eyes
Good Morning Beautiful Steve Holy
Good Morning The Kiboomers
Good Morning Good Morning The Beatles
Holy As a Day Is Spent Carrie Newcomer
Good Morning Lionel Richie
Good Morning Aaron Zigman & Alexandre Desplat A
New Day Corey Smith
Good Day Sunshine The Beatles
You Are the Sunshine of My Life Stevie Wonder
You Are My Sunshine Gene Autry
New Day River Valley Church
Day By Day Anna Maria Perez de Taglé & Godspell Ensemble