Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Everyone's got emotional baggage; the question is, what are you doing to unpack that trunk and put it away, so your lovers, friends and relatives don't have to keep tripping over it?"~Shari Schreiber

We just got back from an incredible trip to Myrtle Beach a few days ago. We hadn't been on a real family vacation for several years & it was amazing to see LiviGirl's reaction to the ocean & sunrise!  But all of that I'll save for another blog. 

Today my mind & heart is heavy with something else that I'm hoping I'll feel better about once it's off my chest. Wasn't it Sheena who said blogging seemed "therapeutic"?  ;) 

Anyway, feel free to skip this one if you aren't in the mood to hear me after I climb on my soapbox.  

If you're still hanging around...consider yourself warned :)

*climbs on soapbox*

It's no secret that my LiviGirl is unique. She marches to the beat of her own drum, always has & I hope to God that she always does. When we found out that Livi was joining our family, Toby & I put in many hours talking about what we wanted for her & hoped to instill in her.  

1. We wanted her to learn at an early age to feel OK in her own skin.  
2. We wanted her to be compassionate.
3. We wanted her to be tolerant of others that were different from her.
4. We wanted her to be "color-blind" (and by this I do not mean we didn't want her to be able to match her own clothes! We wanted her to not see human skin color when she looked at someone).
5. We wanted her to know that there was a God & that He answers our prayers & watches over us.
6. We wanted her to know she was never alone & that her Guardian Angel was there when we weren't.
7. We wanted her to grow up knowing that our love was truly unconditional & that nothing could keep us from loving her. 
8. We wanted her to know that any dream is possible & how far you go in life is dependent only on your determination.
9. But most of all, we wanted for her to be able to be herself & find happiness.

For us, we wanted to always remember that Livi is not me & she's not Toby, she is a unique blend of us.  Therefore, the parenting styles of either of our parents wouldn't work for her. As a unique person she would require a unique parenting style. We are by no means perfect & we have NEVER claimed to be.  It appears, though, that one of the great wonders of parenting is that your child will allow you to make mistakes & then forgive you & give you another chance. Thankfully, I've been blessed with an extremely forgiving child ;) 

Too many people have the misconception that we raise our children when in reality I think our children have a big role in raising us. I am not the person I was before Livi came along & I never will be again. And the changes she's made in me have always been for the better. 

So, having said all of that, I am amazed at the people who are willing to shut my LiviGirl out of their lives because they are unable to accept her for who she is. As much as it makes me mad, it also breaks my heart to see her heart broke. When she suggests to me that she should just change who she is to satisfy others I am infuriated. Not at her, but at the fact that she is being treated the way she is treated and, that others would take advantage of her selflessness & prefer her to be what they want her to be rather than for her to be happy.

I must have missed the seminar that teaches us how to program in the exact child we want.  How would that go anyway?

"I'd like a blue-eyed, brown-haired child who loves "Gone with the Wind", only listens to classical music, loves the color green, & will never want to live more than 5 miles from me."

"OK, ma'am. Let me plug that in to the system &....there you go. The child you desired is ready."

I, for one, am so glad that is NOT how it works. In a million years, I wouldn't have thought to ask for a child as wonderful as LiviGirl.  Yet, she is perfect for us. She is everything we needed or could ever want in a child.  Picking the attributes of our children is not for us to decide. We'd best leave that up to the expert....God.

We are NEVER going to encourage our LiviGirl to be anything other than what she is.  Sometimes, society (& even family) tries very hard to make us feel like "freaks" or "abnormal" when we think outside the "norm" they've defined, but someone show me where it says what "normal" is. 

As much as I love the friends & family in my life, I'm also NEVER going to let them override what we know is best for Livi. No one in this life knows her better than we do, knows what she's been through, or understands where she wants to go. I've checked, I have the scars to prove that I carried her for 9 months (& risked my life to do it) & then brought her into this world. I could be wrong, but I think that gives me some kind of entitlement to decide what is best for her (at least while she's still living with me :).  We made a promise to her many moons ago before we even saw her little face that we would always do what we felt was best for her, regardless of the sacrifice it might mean on our part. I, personally, feel that God has given us a tremendous responsibility to watch over her & raise her the best we can, to guide her & support her. I don't think He wants us to help her define her purpose, I think He's confident she will figure that out on her own. In the meantime, if I have to step on some toes & go against what others think I should be doing to accomplish the purpose I feel God has set forth for me...then so be it. My #1 priority will always be Livi...

LiviGirl is the sweetest, most compassionate child I have ever met.  She is funny, witty, beautiful inside & out.  In her 12 short years, she has spent more time putting others 1st than most of us will do in a lifetime. Most people I know would be better off if they were more like her. I know I, personally, strive daily to have some of the wonderful attributes she has. 

Livi has her sights set on something grander than this little town holds & that's fine by me. All we want is to see her happy.  I can't possibly understand anyone who loves a child not wanting that for them. 

Which leads me to the next thing that is weighing heavy on me...why do some people try so hard to stay miserable (& want others to be miserable alongside them)? Why do some people pack a figurative "suitcase" of sorrows with them everywhere they go?  Then when they have plenty to be happy about, they open the "suitcase" & wallow in things they can't change.  

I tried this for a long time when I was in my early 20s. We all have the "suitcase".  Some people's "suitcase" is larger, their painful, sorrowful times more severe, but we all have one. The one thing I figured out was that by dragging this "suitcase" with me, I wound up bringing it right on into the future with me. Why on earth would I want to do that?  If someone gave me a suitcase full of crap, I wouldn't drag it with me until next week or next month, or, God forbid, next year!  Heck no! I'd drop that stinky (literally) baggage off at the nearest corner & move on with my life. And yet, so many of us, drag our figurative "crap" with us throughout our lives. Why?

Happiness is a conscious choice we make every day. It's a choice to be happy for others rather than harbor jealous thoughts, it's a choice to accept others for who they are rather than judge them. Everything in life is a choice. We can't change anyone but ourselves & we can't even change our own past self.  All we have is today, & maybe tomorrow, &, if we're lucky, more tomorrows...why do so many people waste the gift of today sorting through the crap of yesterday? 

It took me years, one fantastic husband & an angelic little girl to really learn the gift that every day is. We are not guaranteed tomorrow & how terrible would it be if we had spent our last day on this earth sorting through our "suitcase" rather than loving on those most precious to us? 

We all have lived through hard times, we all have our own opinions & sometimes disagree with those we love, but sometimes you have to sit that aside & learn to love one another for the unique gift they are. If you can't, you may wake up one day to find all you have in life is yourself & your "suitcase" & how truly sad would that be?

*climbing off soapbox*

If you're still with me, I hope that you will leave your "suitcase" behind today. Hold close those you love the most & accept them for who they are. 

And, Sheena, if you're still with me....it does make you feel better to blog :) 

Friday, May 6, 2011

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." ~Mignon McLaughlin

What a day it's been! 

Toby & I are celebrating 13 years of marriage today!  I think back to that day 13 yrs ago & about how we had no idea what all these years would hold for us & it makes me wonder what the next 13 will hold. Regardless of what life throws at us, I look forward to many more years with him. I am ever so thankful for his support, love & friendship. I've said many times that everything would be nothing without him & nothing could be truer.  Everything in my life is better because he's by my side to share it. 

Today also marks the end of my 1st year of nursing school.  I am officially a 2nd year nursing student now. It's been a tough & rocky road through the past 9 months, but especially the last 8 weeks.  I started the 8 weeks with my lowest nursing test score ever & ended with my highest nursing test score ever!  Talk about making a comeback! haha!  I wish I could take all the credit for my success in nursing school, but that would be highly unfair. If it's one thing I've learned, nursing school is a joint effort. It has taken the support of great friends who let you bounce ideas off of them in the middle of the night, the constant reassurance of a great husband & daughter, and family who won't let me stop believing in myself to get me through these past 9 months. Whatever I become & any successes I ever have, I will owe it all to the support team that surrounds me.