Options (something that may be or is chosen; choice)

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Options. It’s always nice to have them. It’s especially nice when you have to make hard decisions, to find that there are several options. The truth, for me, is that having the ability to make a choice makes me feel as if I have some control over my life.

When my life starts careening around odd corners and slipping toward the edge, I find comfort in weighing my options. I put everything down in charts and spreadsheets to see where I am, where I need to go and how the hell I’m going to get there. Then I will make small changes just to see how it will affect my choices.

Some may say I’m obsessive but I like to think I’m being thorough. I met with a professional on a subject that’s been of concern to me and found out that there was nothing surprising in what he had to say. That made feel good about my own methods of thinking things through. It didn’t change things dramatically but it did give me additional options to think about.

Each and every day we make choices big and small. I choose to make the ones that will have the positive impact.

Balance (a state of equilibrium)​

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Balance is a word that is being tossed around lately. Emotional balance, financial balance, work-life balance. What is this balance and does anyone really achieve it?

I find my emotional life very off-balance these days. I can go through my days pretty well for a good part of the week and then BAM! Some little thing takes my breath away and I’m off balance AGAIN. It’s usually unexpected. A song, a card or note, a picture, a phrase that someone uses in conversation. Nothing big or brash. Small, quiet, quick. A knife turning in the heart and days of walking on a balance beam trying not to fall off.

I have to admit that there are longer intervals between episodes. I even believe that they may become a yearly event instead of weekly. Of course, this is still a great improvement over the daily battle for balance I was facing nine months ago.

Even when I feel that I’ve achieved a precarious emotional balance, there’s still the rest of my life that is in the mix. How do I balance work, home, kids, family and just stuff? At work they like to talk about work-life balance. While listending to a podcase recently the person was saying that the phrase should really be work-life integration. I like that MUCH better. It actually seems more attainable than balance.

Balance suggests that there is equality between your work and your life. Reality suggests otherwise simply because you spend so much of your time at work, thinking about work and getting ready for work. Integration suggests that they can each work around and within each other. So instead of coming home exhausted and trying to make my grocery list, I can start it during work at a time that I need a mental break. That mental break will also give me a different prespective on whatever I was working.

And by the way, someone where in all of this I’m told that I need to find time for myself.  Time to do things that I want to do.  You know, like blogging. I do this so well, that I’m doing this at 10:30PM when normally I like to be in bed, lights out ready to sleep, no later than 9:30PM. I’ll pay for it tomorrow when 6:00AM rolls around and I’m feeling groggy.

Maybe I’ll try for balance again in a couple of days. Tomorrow will be an experiment in integration.

Struggling (have difficulty handling or coping with)

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Life is full of curveballs. Sometimes it will bring you a happy coincidence and sometimes it will punch you in the gut. Either way, it’s never a straight line to where you are going. How you react and regroup is what determines your path.

The past year I have had several “punch in the gut” moments that I have refused to let define me. I have had people expect me to behave like the person I was 15 or 20 years ago because they cannot, or will not, see the person I am today. How I’ve changed over the years. How I’ve grown or at least how I think I’ve grown. It makes me wonder if they still see me like that because they have not grown at all. They have become stagnant and struggle with life.

The nice thing about rolling with the punches is that I’m at a point where I feel like I’m growing again. Things look brighter, less gray. I’ve begun to think about things I let go, like writing. I’m choosing to make my life more colorful, active and meaningful. I’m spending my time with people who are important to me. People who are positive, uplifting, funny and creative. The kind of people who believe in love and kindness.

It’s not as if I never struggle with parts of life, it’s that I am determined to face each struggle head on with a ferocious will to overcome and learn. Lately, I’ve learned that I am resilient and that is a very good thing.

Friends (a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard)

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My mother told me if I was like lucky I would find 2 or 3 close friends who would stick. She told this to me when I was younger and felt like I had no friends because I wasn’t part of the popular crowd. I’ve never actually felt like I was part of a popular group even if I friends who were. However, and yes I’m putting this in writing on a public forum, my mother was right. I am lucky and I do have a few very close friends who are always there.

The nice thing about these types of friends is that they will stand by you when you are up or down. Broke, just getting by or living it up, you will still find those faithful few. I discovered that in order to have that kind of a friend, you have to be the same way with those same people. You can’t have people who will stick with you and yet you’re not available to them when they need you. Or the reverse, you stick by someone and they are never there for you.

Friends that are in it for the long haul are not afraid to tell you when you’re on shaky ground or when you ought to rethink your position. They will hold you when you’re crying even if they think that the situation is actually in your best interest. They will listen to you go on about a romantic interest that they know is not good for you but keep quiet until they feel it’s time to stop that particular train wreck from happening. They will tell you when they think a job opportunity is not really an opportunity and you should just keep looking. When they let you know that they are concerned about your decision, relationship, choice, etc., it’s because they care about your well-being as a whole person and not just because they will no longer get something from you.

These friends are precious and, like my mom said, very few. They are people to cherish and hold. I try to let each of them know how important they are in my life on a regular basis. There are times in life when you need those people who will love you as you are and are willing to do anything for you – listen, wield a bat, be logistics, paint, pack or hold. They know your faults and your talents and they are there. Always.

Magical (mysteriously enchanting)

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I enjoy hanging out with friends. I enjoy going to places that make me feel good. I love the days when those two things combine. Especially if that day is full of positive energy, laughter, and sometimes that feeling of being a carefree kid again. That place for me is Disney and luckily my closest friends feel that way too.

Wandering around Disney World still feels magical but the adult in me trys too see how that magic is created. Until I forget because I still get caught up in the world that is created at the park. My friend and I went to see Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios. Our seats were front and center. While there was some discussion on if we would get wet, we did not move. In the beginning, we talked about the screen created by the mist but very quickly we were pointing out the cool things that were happening in the show. And grinning. A lot.

We sat mesmerized for the next 20+ minutes, grinning at each other and the show. There was Mickey Mouse commanding the water, all the villians trying to ruin the show, barges of dancing princes and princessess, and good triumphs in the end. By the time the finale came, we had been brought to tears. Two grown women crying because it was so beautiful and magical and fun. There was no one else at that show but us. It was over too quickly. As we turned to leave, we were stopped by the thousands of people who had just seen the show with us.

Authentic (representing one’s true nature or beliefs)

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I sometimes have to travel for work meetings. When we have these team meetings there is usually a
team building component. Sometimes they are fun and sometimes they make you groan. This week I
participated in a refresh session of a Corporate Athlete program. When I first did this program three
years ago I became determined to be a better me, a more authentic me. I’m not sure I ever achieved it.
This time around I’m in a different place emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I’m ready to be the best
version of me I can be. But what does that mean? I’m being told to be the authentic me. But who is that?

There are many different versions of me and they change over time. So who am I now? Mother, daughter, friend, wife, co-worker, choir member, neighbor. These are roles that I am for other people.

I like being all these roles but I’m looking for who I am for myself. The real me. The authentic me. The  person I like being when I am by myself and yet I’m not afraid to share her with the people who populate my world.

Grace (favor or goodwill)

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For the past several years I have chosen a single word to be my word. The first year it was Focus. Last year it was Joy. This year my word is Grace. I started pondering my 2017 word before Christmas. There were a lot of words that went through my mind – strength, love, breathe, journey – too many actually. I had to stop thinking about it and wait until it presented itself to me. Then came New Year’s Eve.

Sometime midway through 2016 my crazy English friend had made a comment that we should burn 2016 in effigy on New Year’s Eve. It’s been that kind of year so the idea stuck and we spent a quiet New Year’s Eve with my friend and her family. It was exactly what I needed. We had Chinese take out for dinner and played games. She presented each of us with a card that had 2016 on the front and 2017 on the back and these instructions: on the 2016 side write the things you didn’t like or wish didn’t happen, then write your goals on the 2017 side. We put the 2017 side into an envelope to hold until next New Year’s Eve. 2016 was burned in the fireplace along with a bit of sage.

As I pondered my goals for 2017 I found myself mentally adding the words “with grace” to the end of each one. While going about my day on January 1st I kept running into that word, grace, again and again. Someone’s trying to tell me something. So I looked it up in the dictionary (ok, dictionary.com).  There are 15 different definitions of grace, go ahead and look it up for yourself. My two favorites are:

  1. favor or goodwill
  2. moral strength

The first one includes the synonyms kindness, kindliness, and love. That’s what I want for my year. I want to execute all things in 2017 with goodwill, kindness, love, and moral strength.

Grace.