Life is all about collecting new experiences.

4.28.16

Sometimes an off-handed remark can challenge your way of thinking.

I recently traveled to Kansas City with my daughter’s dance group, so she could participate in workshops at various studios and perform at different venues around the city. While our daughters were dancing, the mothers made small talk.

As the weekend went on, we moved past our daughters’ dance resumes and started to have more real conversations. As I was talking with an intelligent attorney and mother-of-three, she mentioned that her family was in the process of narrowing down where they’d like to live next. She explained that her company was relocating to another city and that her position would be ending within the year. I told her that it seemed exciting to plan a “second act” for her family. I asked her how the kids felt about moving and she said, “Life is all about collecting new experiences.” I nodded in agreement.

As I consider her philosophy on life, I realize that I’ve approached life from the opposite direction. Thinking back, most of my new life experiences have been unintentional. It’s not that I deliberately avoid them; I just feel more comfortable going with the tried and true.

I remember when my husband was in medical school and was interviewing for residencies around the country. On a whim, he applied to do his internal medicine year in Hawaii. We did a quick analysis of what the residency would cost us, factoring in my loss of income, the high cost of living and the incredible moving expenses. The value of collecting a new life experience was pushed aside for practical reasons. Our decision to stay put for his internal medicine year enabled us to save for a house and to get our feet on steadier financial ground, but it cost us the experience of living in Hawaii for a year. All of these years later, I find myself wondering if the money saved was worth the experience lost?

When it came time to interview for medical residencies around the country. I was supportive, but firmly in the “stay in the Midwest” camp. I reasoned that we’d be starting a family soon and that I wanted to be close to family. When my husband matched in North Carolina, it was a complete shock. I had never been to the state. I didn’t know anyone who lived there. It was 900 miles away from Kansas City. And, it was the best thing that ever happened to us. This life experience was the ultimate, unexpected gift.

When we decided to move back to Omaha, I wanted my children to grow up near my childhood home and to attend the same elementary school. I hoped they’d enjoy swimming on my old swim team and develop a mild interest in tennis, so they could play with their dad. Eight years later, I am shooting zero for three: My elementary school was not the right fit. None of my kids embraced competitive swimming. And, the simple question, “Anyone up for tennis?” is consistently met with unanimous groans and eye rolls. In other words, despite my intentions, my children have forced new experiences on me; I’m grateful for them.

I’ve learned that as much as I’d like for my children to enjoy everything that I loved about my childhood and to embrace the interests that my husband and I share, you can’t force a square peg in a round hole; they will follow their own hearts. I need to meet them where they are, not where I want them to be. My son will choose books and robotics over organized sports every time. Given the opportunity, my daughter would spend all of her free time dancing. My youngest loves Legos, sports and learning right now; I look forward to following his journey as he discovers “his thing(s).” By following my children’s lead (not my own plans), our family will collect new experiences, friends and pieces of wisdom along the way.

Looking back, I can see that my accidental collection of new experiences has exponentially increased my own happiness throughout the course of my life. In the future, I will try to be more intentional about collecting new life experiences and supporting of my husband and children when they don’t choose the tried and true route through life. Collecting new life experiences requires a little leap of faith, but the risk is worth the reward.

Do you deliberately collect new life experiences or do you tend to choose things that are familiar? Why? Thanks for sharing your thoughts; your feedback is the fun part.  🙂  Kara

Ten Birthday Wishes for My Daughter

4.20.16

Today, my daughter turns ten. Today, she celebrates her first double-digit birthday. Today, she officially becomes a “tween.”

A tween is defined as “a youngster between 10 and 12 years of age, considered too old to be a child and too young to be a teenager.” There is something bittersweet about watching your daughter close one chapter and begin a new one. It marks the passing of time for both of us. Ever since she was a baby, I’ve been told that girls are easy when they are little, but everything gets flipped upside down as they enter their teen years. Although I want to reject this advice, I understand that this sweet stage may not last forever.

As I watch my daughter make a wish and blow out the candles on her cake, I find myself making wishes for her, too.

Here are ten wishes for my daughter on her tenth birthday:

  1. Develop Drama-Free Friendships. My sister always tells me to “fill up your life with good stuff.” I think that’s especially true about friendships. Fill your life with friends who make you feel happy and secure…friends who like you just the way you are, no improvements needed…friends who won’t ever put conditions on your friendship or make you feel pushed to do things you don’t want to do… My wish for you is that you will find true friends who will encourage you to be you (and love you for it).
  1. Take Chances. I know that you want to succeed at everything you do. But, don’t be afraid to fail. Ask yourself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Then, put yourself out there and go for it. You are more talented than you realize. And, you are more resilient, too. It’s tempting to always play it safe and to avoid disappointments. If you don’t try, you may not reach your true potential. My wish for you is that you won’t be afraid to chase big dreams.
  1. You Don’t Have To Be Perfect. I can see that you are a little bit of a perfectionist. I’m not sure where that comes from. 😉 Speaking from experience, the problem with being a perfectionist is that no one is perfect; it’s unachievable. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly. Everyone makes mistakes. And, I love you because you are you – not because you do everything so well! My wish for you is to know that you are loved without conditions; nothing could make me love you less.
  1. Don’t Take Life (Or Yourself) Too Seriously. Often, your wit catches me off guard and I find myself wondering where your wonderful sense of humor came from? (Not me!) You are able to be silly and to laugh at yourself. I hope that you will never outgrow this trait because it makes the world a happier place. My wish for you is that you will never lose your sense of humor.
  1. Never Forget Your Nine-Year-Old Self. Remember our trip to Chicago to celebrate your ninth birthday? Remember the first time you walked down Michigan Avenue? At first, the enormous skyscrapers, the roar of the traffic, and all of the people amazed you; then you encountered a needy person, asking for money. You stopped and opened your little purse and handed him one of your precious five-dollar bills – a large percentage of the birthday money that you’d saved for the trip. The smile on the man’s face lit up your own and warmed my heart. As we walked to the next corner you stopped again and repeated your act of generosity. After crossing the street, you met another person in need of help; at that point you realized that you were quickly running out of money… So, you asked if you could share your lunch and dinner with them? I’ve always been proud of you, but this stands out as one of my very proudest mom moments. My wish for you is that you will hold onto your generous, caring spirit.
  1. Be Confident in Your Natural Beauty. Over the next few years, you are going to hear a lot about what it means to be beautiful. I hope you always remember that true beauty shines from the inside out – it can’t be purchased in glossy tubes or beautiful bottles. Beauty is revealed in your words and your actions. My wish for you is that you will never conceal your natural beauty.  
  1. Don’t Be A Sheep. You are one-of-a-kind. You were given your own mind, so never be afraid to use it. I know that you have a strong moral compass, with it as your guide – you will steer clear of trouble. If you are uncomfortable with the direction your crowd is moving, have the courage to step outside. It will seem scary, but the consequences of making dangerous, unhealthy choices can be much more devastating. My wish for you is that you will always have the courage to make your own choices.
  1. No Hurry to Meet Prince Charming. I know you still say, “Ewww!” at the end of Disney cartoons, when the prince and princess kiss and go off to live happily ever after. But, one day your attitude may change. When/if it does, I hope that you set your bar high, knowing that you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness at all times; never settle for anything less. I hope that you’ll take the time to find yourself first. It’s okay to be a little selfish when you’re young: to focus on your goals, interests and dreams first. My wish for you is that when you’re old enough to date, you will have the confidence to be extremely selective.
  1. Say “Thank You.” We all have been given far more than we deserve. Focus on what you have, rather than what you lack. My wish for you is that you will always take time to count your blessings…and share them with others.
  1. Be Yourself. Discover what makes you happy (not me or anyone else). I truly believe that we all have a purpose and the sooner we discover it, the better. My wish for you is that you will have the courage to be authentically you.

Happy, happy tenth birthday, dear daughter!

May all of your wishes and my wishes come true!

xo Mom

 

 

 

2016 Liebster Award

I want to thank Patricia Mitchell, blogger at Fitness for Life, for nominating me to receive the 2016 Liebster Award. Please check out her inspiring blog at https://newfit40.wordpress.com.

Here are the rules:

award-rules.png

My responses to Patricia’s questions:  

1. What made you decide to start a blog? I recently made the decision to focus on my blessings, rather than my life’s imperfections, and to strive to live a more authentic life. My blog reflects this mission (struggle).

2.  How did you discover your life path/career? To be honest, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I realize that I’m running out of time! I really believe that you can have everything, but not all at once. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a career and to have been able to stay home with my kids when they were little. Right now, I’m trying to enjoy my last days with a preschooler. Not sure, what’s next…

3.  What brings you joy? Peace and Harmony. I am happiest when my family is enjoying each other. Sibling squabbles make me crazy…actually all squabbling makes me miserable.

4.  What is your favorite movie? Why? I think it’s a toss-up between Annie, Grease and Frozen. I really like musicals with happy endings.

5.  Who inspires you and why? I can’t really name one source of inspiration. I find it in the strength and wisdom of my friends and husband, off-handed comments made by my children and sometimes even strangers I encounter throughout the day.

6.  What is your favorite restaurant and favorite meal there? The mere mention of the word Chipotle makes my kids groan.  I could eat a chicken burrito/bowl for every meal. It just never gets old.

7.  What hobbies do you enjoy? Photography. I recently learned how to use the manual settings on my camera and am addicted. I love taking photos of my kids; I am also working to provide more original photographs for my blog, too. Ÿ Tennis. I just started playing in a doubles league with a dear friend. It’s been so much fun! I love learning the strategy and the opportunity to work at a new skill. Ÿ Books. My idea of a perfect vacation involves a quiet place with a stack of books. In my real life, I don’t allow myself to read as much as I’d like because once I start a book, everything else on my to do list doesn’t get done…

8.  Who or what inspires your blogs? Life. My blog has turned into a form of therapy for me; it allows me to explore the lessons that life is trying to teach me.

9.  What’s number one on your bucket list? I actually already crossed it off. When we lived in North Carolina, I really, really wanted to go to the Outer Banks and to see the wild horses. At the time, there were a million reasons why we couldn’t swing the trip. To celebrate our 40th birthdays, my husband and I took our kids to Carova – a 4 x 4 beach at the Northern tip of the Outer Banks and stayed for a week. It was my favorite vacation to date. We unplugged and played together as a family. In the evenings, we’d track the horses and play board games. It was incredibly recharging to get away from our everyday responsibilities and to just be a family.

10.  What’s your favorite splurge/cheat meal? I have absolutely no will power when it comes to monster cookie dough. When I bake, I typically sneak enough of it to count as a meal!

11.  When did you start your blog? I started my blog three months ago, as one of my New Year’s Resolutions. At this point, I think it’s safe to say that it’s stuck.

I nominate the following bloggers for the Liebster award:

  1. https://hebroughtmeicecream.com
  2. https://stephenaroth.wordpress.com
  3. https://rebeccaburtram.com
  4. https://hey40blog.com
  5. https://writeandamuse.wordpress.com
  6. https://tolivealifelessordinaryblog.wordpress.com

Here are my questions for the nominees:

  1. Why did you decide to start a blog?
  2. What inspired your blog’s name?
  3. How long have you been blogging?
  4. What is the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?
  5. If you could have any super power, what would it be?
  6. What has surprised you most about adulthood?
  7. What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
  8. What is your favorite book?
  9. What is your greatest blessing?
  10. What is your favorite television show?
  11. What is your favorite quote?

Love or Approval?

4.5.16

This weekend, I had dinner with a dear friend; she mentioned that she felt like the Universe had a very specific message for her: It was time for her to stop pleasing others and to start pleasing herself. She said that she’d heard the same theme over and over throughout the day… My husband chuckled and said, “I think that message is for Kara, too.”

I confess that I am a pleaser. I’ve always thought that this trait made me thoughtful and unselfish. But, now I’m wondering what makes pleasing others so important to me?

I’ve spent my entire life believing that love is conditional. In order to be loved (or even liked), I must please those who are closest to me. I don’t think that this was a lesson that I was ever taught, just a core belief that I’ve held as long as I can remember…

In her book Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Naomi Remen writes: “Of course love is never earned. It is a grace we give one another. Anything we need to earn is only approval.”

I love this quote. I am embarrassed to admit that I have never conscientiously separated love and approval before. But, they are definitely two very different things.

It is critical that my children know that they are loved by me without conditions. Of course, I want them to try to maximize the gifts that they’ve been given. Of course, I want them to make choices that will set them on a path leading to a happy, healthy life. Of course, I want them to do what I want, but these are not conditions that must be met in order to receive my love. I will love them even if I don’t approve of all of their choices. It is critical that they understand that love and approval are two different things.

The truth is that as much as I believe that I know what’s best for each of my kids, I may not. I want to raise strong, independent children who consider others’ feelings, but are capable of pleasing themselves, too – without guilt.

Ultimately, I want my kiddos to live authentic lives that bring them happiness and success. In order for them to achieve these things, it is entirely possible that my husband and I may need to get out of their way as they grow into independent young adults.