Wednesday, April 20, 2011

i do a lot WRONG.
as a mother, especially.
{i make no bones about that.}
and another ingredient i'm stirring in to that big, fat mixing bowl of 'what i could be doing better,'
is GIVING.  
giving more.
i'm not talking picking up the tab, 
lending a friend my favorite dress or heels,
sharing my last.piece.of.cake,
giving more kisses and hugs to my kids,
more appreciation to my husband.
although i need to be doing more of all of the above,
i'm talking a different kind of GIVING.
it really is SO awesome, SUCH a good feeling to give of yourself to someone else.
not just your money, but your time and your energy.
your hand.
your kindness.
i've been reading lately,
that the more you give to others, selflessly,
the better you'll feel.
the healthier you can actually be!
the more fulfilling and satisfying your life will feel.
i was thinking about this idea,
and then caught oprah today, who happened to be talking about the same thing.
especially on these recent days, when i'm totally caught up in my own garbage,
my own frustrations, silly gripes,
exhausted in parenting, being a wife and feeling like i'm failing miserably at both.
how EASY it is to go inward, become self-centered and obsessed,
not only with doing things better, 
but doing it all PERFECTLY.
(which we all know, is impossible.)
but trying our damndest anyway.
how exhausting.
but so easy to do and become overwhelmed with. . .
until. . . 
those moments in life.
when you're pulled out of your own bullsh**,
with sad news.
heartbreaking news.
a friend of mine from junior high, who i haven't spoken with in YEARS,
but stumbled across on facebook,
just lost her younger brother to cancer.
a rare cancer that claimed his life in TWO.short.MONTHS.
that's it.
i don't know the details, i don't even know the man he became from the 13-year-old i knew,
but i have a few memories of him that have been brought forth easily, from pictures i saw of him.
his smile, laugh, energy.  i remember it.  like it was yesterday.
and now this young man, is already gone.
his life cut so short.  so unfairly.
it's so hard to accept and understand, the how's and the why's and the unfair in it all.
how good people are swept up swiftly
and bad people get to stick around longer.
it's those moments that stop us and teach us to find peace,
in wherever we're at.
and gratitude for life.
like brian, who sat at the oncologist's office today, waiting for his routine appointment,
across from a young girl and her parents,
who couldn't have been more than 17, there for her first treatment.
brian sat across from her, noting the fear in her eyes and the tension in her space.
and as he got up to greet his second chance, he looked at her and said,
"it's all going to be ok."
because he knows.  he knows and has faced that fear and seen it with his own eyes.
why does it take moments like that?
stories like that, 
to bring us back to this life we take for granted?
shove us out of our comfort zone and show us life is so much more than what we create
in our cozy little worlds.
these stories, 
other peoples' tragedies,
that bring you to your knees with sadness for a life that no longer is,
or will never be the same.
a parent, a sister, a child, a friend of a friend of a friend.
it doesn't matter how you know them.
these. . .life circumstances,
or the moments that fill you to the brim with thankfulness, gratitude,
that you swear on your life and to God,
that you'll do whatever it takes to be spared anymore pain or fear like this,
like last week.
when brian was going to be calling me with his latest blood test results as soon as he heard.
and he did.
but he left me a message, telling me to call him right away.
being the person that i am,
i INSTANTLY began preparing myself for the worst news.
that cancer was back.  that we weren't getting off easy.
that his markers were elevated.
that summer would be spent in more chemo.
we know, especially as mothers, how easily minds can take off.
as i paced and breathed and nervously folded laundry and tried to focus,
waiting for him to call me back,
all the while, PRAYING i read in to his voice wrong.  that he really was fine and maybe he was just in a meeting (which he usually is,) and let's try not to worry about something 
that hasn't even happened.
but bargaining with God, to make this fear go away.
and brian called, to let me know everything was ok.  he was clear, blood was normal.
(and apologizing of course, for scaring the hell out of me.)
but that PURE and utter JOY in relief.
in getting another chance, another 3 months closer (until his next check-up,) 
to getting farther away from this
as i sat and sobbed over this perfect news, 
letting the hours' tension drain out of me,
i thought, it never ceases to amaze me.  slap me awake even more.  teach me to appreciate more.
be thankful more.
remember more.
soak up more.
when the world pays us back a little.
hold our heads up, look someone in the eyes, or just sit or slow down.
i know i've spoken of this before, 
but our lives are SO filled with busy.
some days i don't even look at the person who hands me my coffee at the drive-thru.
because i'm looking at my phone or planning my next task to accomplish,
how sad that is.
and the struggle i have with not giving enough.
giving less thought to myself 
and more to others.
we have our charities we donate to each month,
i take clothes to goodwill at the turn of each season,
but so what?
shouldn't i be doing more with my time here?
GIVING MORE, thinking less?
and that stuff, that stuff we do to make ourselves feel better about ourselves,
{let's be honest.  that's why we do what we do sometimes.}
i know a lot of WHY we give to someone, 
is for ourselves.  not just to say, 'TA DA!'
but to get some recognition, a gold star, a pat on the back.
at least i do.:)
to fill our own ego's up.  to make us feel like we contributed in some way,
did for someone something we'd like done for us.
but i think that's ok.  that's human nature.
and learning to do these things as often as we can, selflessly,
we learn.
and to expect absolutely nothing in return,
nor keep tabs or tit for tat.
is an amazing feeling. 
it doesn't matter why we do those kind deeds,
as long as it comes from a good place,
a genuine place, even if part of it is for ourselves,
i'm realizing and accepting,
that small gestures, set larger things in motion.
that whole, 'pay it forward' concept.
we do this little thing, occasionally, usually when i'm in a good mood,
where we 'DO KARMA!' as jack calls it.
one day someone bought my coffee ahead of me in line.
and it completely changed the outlook i had on my day.
from the simple kindness of a stranger.
{oddly enough, i had done it the week before, for someone else.}
so when it came back to me, i giggled out loud and said to my toddlers in the back seat,
(they looked at me like i the lunatic i am.)
as i drove away happily with my real joy and free latte.
'What's karma, mom?' jack asked.
so i proceeded to give him my definition of it.
so now every time i get a coffee, they yell, 'DO KARMA!  DO KARMA!'
and sometimes i do.
"Anything you do from the soulful self will help lighten the burdens of the world.  
You have no idea what the smallest word, the tiniest generosity, 
can cause to be set in motion.  
Mend the part of the world that is within your reach." -Katrina Kenison
that seems a little more doable for me right now.
so i will continue to try hard to do that, and hope you will too.
do your best to give more.
share more.
compliment more.
to live life without using those tragic reminders,
that we only get one shot to do our best and give what we can.
 {clearly the above pictures have nothing to do with the topic.  just wanted to share some of tuna brushing his teeth.}


Kristin said...

Always love your posts Liz!!! Happy Easter!

Chris & Katie said...

Thanks, Liz. You have NO IDEA how much I needed to read this today.

Sarah Joanis said...

Awesome. Kevin can relate to those phone calls and I learn the importance of giving back (selflessly) daily. Somedays, the lesson is a bit harder to swallow than others, but still necessary.

Jenny said...

You MUST see this short trailer for the book One Thousand Gifts and then promptly run out and buy it. My sister gave it to me for my birthday and it has lit up my life. PS...As a bonus, you'll enjoy the photos as well.


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