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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

wpid-0710151654a.jpgI have wondered at the infatuation with Zombie novels and movies. As a believer of living life to its fullest, the idea of being intrigued by the walking dead has left me puzzled. Wanting to be slightly informed, but cautiously aware that I’m the type that would probably really enjoy a good zombie movie, I watched World War Z last week. Based on the expressions of various friends and acquaintances who have equally various opinions on zombies, I’ve either gone over the edge or I’ve wasted my time with a glorified-yet-disappointing movie.

Either way, I have a feeling that I haven’t truly experienced a true zombie. To be honest, that is okay with me. From my limited knowledge of a zombie apocalypse, it’s a plague that drives zombies to bite healthy individuals. In the movie, the plague killed first, then within 11 or 12 seconds, the bitten rose to spread the disease. The faces of the zombies were distorted with bulging eyes, snarling lips and a hunger to devour others. When left without noise or stimulation, they became listless, wandering from room to room with no purpose.

Zombies sound like an antagonist of fantasy literature.

Actually, they are real.

I saw a young mother at the grocery store who leaned heavily on her shopping cart, moseying up and down the aisles, staring blankly at the items on the shelf. When her child whined for snacks, her lips curled into a sneer and she launched cruel words toward the toddler.

During a visit to the mall, a swarm of zombies lurched around the shoppers, biting into the souls of others with snide remarks about that one being too old, that one being too fat. Within seconds, those within ear-shot withered into piles of nothing.

The walk of a person who had come to the mall with a purpose was instantly replaced with the wounded crawl of defeat. Employees can be zombies. They thirst of money and power and success. Their eyes bulge with desires for these things, their calendars are riddled with meetings and appointments that direct them away from their real hopes and toward the desires of a society without a purpose.

The expression of a child watching a video is reminiscent of a zombie expression. Childhood – and all of life – is not to be wasted living someone else’s adventures.

Parents can be zombies. The disease of striving for success while not having a meaningful purpose is a plague. Are we working at something we love? Or are we working to keep a roof over our children’s heads? A recent study revealed that the average father gazes into the eyes of his children for less than 38 seconds a day? But how many hours does that same man watch TV or play video games? Talk about a zombie! This mind-set is a disease. It’s a bleak landscape that offers no life-giving fruit. It’s a life without hope, a life without purpose. Is there a cure? Yes.

Fight the disease of purposelessnessitis. (I know that’s not a word, but it should be. Our society is plagued with it!)

 

Find a mission.

 

Seek a purpose.

 

Align your mission and purpose in a career.

 

Each day find something that is living and gaze at it. A child’s eyes. A blooming flower. A radiant sunset (okay, that’s not living, but there is atomic energy in that sun).

sunset-morrisionlake I am not immune to the plague of zombies in this world, but I will also actively seek a cure. I believe the cure is found outside, by talking with other living souls, or inside a book. I’m no longer puzzled by the idea of zombies. For some, it’s a fad genre that is entertaining. For others, perhaps death feels more appealing than living. That’s backwards. It really is. LIVE backwards is evil. Live life. We have it only once and for a short time. Why waste it on walking around like the dead?

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Brian Tracy, in his Book, Eat That Frog! titled after a statement by Mark Twain. Paraphrasing Mr. Twain, he essentially said: If, upon waking every day, you had to eat a live frog, it’s best to just do it and get it over with. Then, for the rest of the day, nothing can be as bad as that.

 

Essentially, don’t procrastinate the ugly job, because it’s only going to grow worse.

 

Stare that task right in the face!

Stare that task right in the face!

Mr. Tracy states that eating that frog indicates “Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it, and then to concentrate on is single-mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and personal productivity.” (pg. 109) In essence, figure out what it is you need to do and work on that until it’s finished.

 

He goes on to suggest that “Starting a high-priority task and persisting with that task until it is 100 percent complete is the true test of your character, your willpower, and your resolve.” (page 111) Clearly, Mr. Tracy isn’t referring to parents who stay-at-home or work from home while there are children around. For anyone who has spent three or more hours caring for a child, they can attest that nothing happens as planned, nothing stays where you put it, and anything that is too quiet is either asleep or in the depths of making a ghastly mess.

 

“Starting a high-priority task and persisting with that task until it is 100 percent complete is the true test of your character, your willpower, and your resolve.”

 

I felt angry when I read that. The book is geared toward professionals in a professional setting. But I’m a professional mom. My setting involves very domestic chores, children, their schedules, needs, and all the lessons (both life and academic) they must learn. Even now, as I’m typing this, my willpower is being tested by the four-year-old who is claiming to be hungry after having a breakfast of oatmeal, scrambled eggs, sliced bananas, and two cups of milk. Honestly!

 

To achieve this standard of success seems impossible as caring for a child (or two, or four, or twelve) is not a single-minded task. It involves cuddling, caring, cleaning, feeding, reading to and listening to a child. There is the grocery shopping, the meal planning, gift buying, bribery purchases, laundry, toilet scrubbing. Chores at home are undone as quickly as they are crossed off the list. Then add to the list the task of raising three teenage daughters. They prefer to be called ‘young adults’. Most days they do act like young adults. On the days they don’t, they are frog princesses waiting for that kiss…

 

There are even tasks a parent must think of before they become necessary–what items will be needed during the shopping trip (i.e. a change of clothes, that special stuffed animal), how the schedule change is going to effect that child who is schedule-dependent, or any number of unexpected situations (usually vomit) that are the norm for those who spend their day with children.

 

What is the Frog of my day? Mothers have so many little things to manage. Which one is the Frog with its big bulging eyes and slimy skin that I just need to choke down and move beyond? What is the job that will only get uglier if I procrastinate?

 

I don’t have an answer other than to say that as a mother, frogs jump at me and I have to make split-decisions. I don’t always choose wisely.

 

Since reading Brian Tracy’s book, I’ve been dipping my not-so-edible frogs in a “Prayer” sauce. As I make my list of to-do’s and as I juggle the frogs that jump onto my plate, I am learning that the power of prayer and the gift of sacrifice make a savory meal of any frog.

 

And so I will pray for you. That whatever frog jumps onto your plate, it is one that brings a fullness to your life and brings joy to those whom you love (because watching someone eat a frog is what reality TV was born on!). Mostly, I will pray that when you do cross that frog off your list, you have taken another step toward satisfying your dreams.

 

Bon Appétit!

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Feminine Genius. I like that term. Blessed John Paul II used it in several encyclicals, but it has only recently come to my attention. The concept of Feminine Genuis first appeared at the closing message of the Second Vatican Council. No matter what your view of the Catholic Church or your standing on women’s rights, this is a golden statement about the necessity and influence of women:

“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling” (Second Vatican Council).

Think about it: Being a woman is a trip! Our vocation is absolutely unique. We are given amazing bodies that can bring new life into the world, we can do everything a man can do (and do it better sometimes) but still can’t open a jar of pickles without straining and looking rather unseemly as that vein on our temple nearly bursts. Our spouses, boyfriends, brothers and fathers, as manly and strong as they are, are dumbfounded at our complexities and unsure how to proceed when we give them “the look”. You know what I’m talking about!

We are tall or short, thin or plump, endowed or ready to run without a bra. We can laugh until tears blind us and our breath comes in gasping catches when our girlfriends tell a story, and we can cry at the death of a baby bird – a creature we didn’t even realize had been born under the eaves of our back porch until its little body is found floating in the wading pool (actual experience).

I was born after the feminine revolution of the 60’s, raised by a stay-at-home mom and now I am a stay-at-home mom. Motherhood is a 24-7 gig. It is the vocation I choose although sometimes I feel like it choose me. I love it, but I will also admit that there are days (usually laundry days or when the baby is teething) that I crave a 9-5 job with nice clothes and a pay check. Instead of swanky office chatter and big business presentations, I endure piano and violin practices, diapers and four little mouths that are always ready for the next meal. My job has no start time and no clock to punch. Vacations are included in the motherhood package, but they are taken in snippets during naps and the infrequent outings with girlfriends or my husband.

I do feel the burden of being a woman and a mother. It wears me thin to think that the mess I just cleaned up will return the next day. I have yet to walk into the kitchen without spying a dirty dish. And the only time that my house is clean is when…well, that hasn’t happened yet and I don’t expect it will any time soon.

Since I refuse to sell the kids and hire an interior designer, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing I can change is how I view my life.

So I will practice Feminine Genius; the art of taking what I have and filtering it through the gifts I have to empower the people in my life. The Catholic Church says that the influence women have on this world has never before been achieved. What do I have? Imagination, baby! I will no longer look at the laundry as a chore, but a mining expedition in search of stray gems hidden deep in pockets and after they are washed, I will be thankful for all the beautiful clothing we have. Mopping will now give me the satisfaction of being able to look back at a job well done, even if it lasts from now until the next muddy boot. Cooking is an endeavor I enjoy with my children, teaching them the art of chopping, smelling new herbs, taste-testing and following a recipe; all time well spent making memories. (It also helps that whoever helps the least in making dinner does the dishes.)

I can practice my feminine genius in many small ways, too. I will read that book for the fiftieth time, dig under the couch for the run-a-way legos, wipe a nose, kiss a cheek and dry those tears. I will do all things with immense gratitude in my heart because God gave me children to love, not spoil or ignore, but love. The genius of a mother finds its source of power in the love that God feeds us. I want to do this motherhood thing well and tomorrow will bring another opportunity to do it even better!

When a woman, no matter what her life situation, gracefully accepts her role as a wife, a single woman, mother, daughter, aunt, employee or manager, the beauty of the feminine genius fills her thoughts with empowering inspiration. And our actions follow our most powerful thoughts.

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The Almond Tree

I said to the Almond Tree, “Sister, speak to me about God.” And the Almond Tree blossomed.

This was shared with me at a recent retreat and I continually return to this thought. We all strive to blossom under our own power, doing what we want in order to achieve what we want. Despite current trends in falling away from God, we are here for a reason.

What makes me blossom? My children. Writing a really good sentence that creates the perfect image or emotion in the soul of a reader. Laughter. Silence.

Discuss…

 

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