Sunday, March 30, 2014

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

 I've been asked many times over the last year and a half, "How do you do it?"  Or, I've had the comment made to me, "I don't know how you do it."  And, what people are referencing is the fact that I am a single Mama.  I found myself in an extremely difficult situation and had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life.  What I chose was to take my kids away from the life that we knew and start over.  Yes, it has been hard.  Yes, there have been days where I didn't think I would make it.  But, we have.  And, we are making it.  Happily, I might add.

I have an app on my phone that gives me a new quote each day.  The one for today was like wiping the fog from the mirror after a long, hot shower.  It summed up exactly what I have wanted to say in response to the questions and comments.  It's a quote by George Lucas.  And, while I've been able to say this in many more words, I've struggled with how to answer concisely.  Until now.

        "Always remember, your focus determines your reality."

The truth of the matter is this: everyone has something happen at some point in their lives that is life changing.  Something happens whether it is directly to you, or indirectly as to a family member, or something that happens to the world around you, but that something changes the fabric of your soul.  That moment in life creates a stain or even a tear in the fabric.  And, it is up to each of us to determine what to do about it.

For me, I chose to bear the stains and rips by looking for the ways that they could make my life better.  It hasn't been easy.  And, many days I searched without finding anything.  I've even thought, and maybe even said, "My life is over." But, those were the days that I focused on the rips and tears.  Those were the days that I allowed the bad to consume me and become the focus of who I was. 

When I make the conscious decision to look for the good in my life, I find it.  It's always there.  Maybe not in the way that the world deems 'good,' but in a way that I can find peace.  There is always some kind of take away that strengthens the fabric of my being.  There is always something to be gained even in the midst of the greatest loss.

The stains and tears of life can either build us up or tear us down.  These things can strengthen bonds or break them if we let them.  We can find freeing life lessons or all-consuming bitterness simply by shifting our focus.  And, It is up to us to deteremine what our focus will be... What our reality will be. 

My focus is the good.  Therefore, my reality is the good.  It doesn't matter what the situation, what news is delivered your way, what tragedy strikes your life.  You can determine your reality by determining your focus.  Not to say that it won't be shaken at times, or maybe it becomes completely out of focus.  Those things happen, too.  But, you just have to remember that you can re-adjust and re-focus. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Empty Space

I'm no longer reading chapters
With ink dried and pages brittle. 

I've closed that book. 

And, in its place 
I've found gleaming white pages. 

Waiting with empty space...

For my story to be written. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Before I posted on New Year's Day, it had been over a year since I last visited my blog and posted what I was certain would be the last post ever.  

A lot has happened over that time.  I have grown; I have changed; I have discovered things about myself and those closest to me. 

Most importantly, though, I have dug down deep into the core of my being and found out who I am and what I want.  I have found strength, peace, and joy beyond measure.  Over the last several months, My Happily Ever After began.  

I struggled for a while, with coming back to this blog.  How could I possibly write here again after all that has happened? How could I continue on with a blog title that stood for all that I had lost?  How could I possibly write about my life and what's going on so that people could understand my position without revealing each and every detail of what has gone on? 

Then, I realized, it isn't about the gore of what has happened to me.  My story, my life, is about the strewn shards of glass that I have so carefully picked up, brushed off, and pieced together into the most amazing mural that a life could possibly be. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Reunited and It Feels So Good!

     It's been a while since my last post and a whole lot of life has happened.  I'll spare you all the gory details - you probably wouldn't believe me anyway!-  and just share with you some of the realizations I've had.  I'm so glad to be back, sharing with you My Happily Ever After. 
     Every new year brings about a time of reflection, looking over the past year, analyzing, reminiscing, determining how the next year will be different.  I think everyone does it; I know that I have.  So, here are some of the things that I have gleaned from life over the past year...

1. There are few things more important than good parents.
     I am blessed to say that I got the best.  I pray that I can be half as good as they are.  They have demonstrated unconditional love throughout my life and with that love came disciple, boundaries, and expectations.  I didn't always like those things, but I am so grateful for them now.  I have seen what happens when parents don't establish these things.  It sets kids up for failure.  They grow up and expect to be able to do whatever they want without consequences.  Life can be a brutal teacher. 

2.  Our legal system is terribly flawed.
     If you have ever been innocent and had to deal with our legal system, you know what I mean.  I found, over the course of the year, that even when you have proof of how someone has broken the law, it doesn't matter.  Our legal system is so concerned with protecting the rights of those who have broken the law, that those who haven't wind up getting the shaft.  I have proof of crimes, piles of evidence, actual admittance from the people involved, yet our legal system failed me and my family.  I have said over and over again, "You have to be a criminal to have your rights protected." 

3.  It is possible to forgive the unforgivable.
     I never dreamed I would be put in a situation where I would have this tested, but it happened.  And, I can honestly say that I have forgiven.  It is a choice I have to consciously make some days, but those days are fewer and farther between.  Most days are easy and I don't even think about it.
    The biggest problem I had with forgiveness was feeling like it meant that if I forgave, then I couldn't allow the consequences of the person's actions.  For a while, I felt that if I forgave someone, it meant that I was supposed to accept their apology, no matter how insincere, and wipe the slate clean for them.  However, after much digging, questioning, and praying, I realized that, yes, we are supposed to forgive as Christ forgave us.  But, forgiving as Christ forgave doesn't mean there are no consequences.  Even when God forgives us, he doesn't always eliminate all consequences associated with our sin.  Once I realized that forgiveness doesn't eliminate the consequences, it became easier.

4.  Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. 
     I pulled back from blogging and all forms of social media because I was being stalked.  It was an unsettling realization to find out someone was copying my life... from the type of furniture I had, to how I cared for my children, my fashion choices, some of my hobbies, my relationships, etc.  And, not only was I stalked, but some of my friends and family were too.  It still is a little creepy, but I try to look at it now in a positive light.  If someone was trying that hard to be me, it must mean my life is pretty great, right? So, I'll take it as flattery that someone would want so badly to be me.

5.  Actions speak louder than words.
     Sure, I've heard this a million times.  I've probably said it a million times, too.  But, it was proven to me over and over again this past year.  If you want someone to believe you, don't tell them what you're going to do, just do it.  Anyone can send a couple of flowery text messages or emails.  Anyone can say what needs to be said when life as they know it is on the line.  But, not everyone can back up their words.  If you want to prove something, earn something, be something... just do it.  Don't talk about it; don't ask how to do it.  And, sure as heck don't make excuses such as "I don't know what to do to prove to you..."  That's a cop out.  I have never seen someone who truly wants something not at least try.  Get busy.  Or, just shut up.

6.  The best of friends are few and far between.
     It really doesn't matter how far you've drifted or how much you've changed; the ones that are true friends love you as though nothing has changed.  These are also the friends that pick you up when you need it, call you out when you're wrong, and celebrate the milestones of life with you.  These are the people that help make life so incredibly wonderful. 

7.  There is something therapeutic about a dog.
     Try it sometime... sit with a dog, scratch it's ears, tell it your secrets, cry on it's shoulder.  See if you don't feel better.  You can't help but relax when you take the time to sit and pet an animal.  There are studies that say pet owners have lower stress levels.  I fully believe it.  They become part of your family, part of you. And, if a dog reacts negatively to someone in your life, pay attention.  Dogs are the best judges of character!

8.  Taking time for yourself builds a better you.
     I never took time for myself.  I always took care of others first and would toss my needs to the back burner for days that were less hectic, better suited, or days that I was less needed.  Then, life changed and I wound up with free time.  During my free time I have started to do things that I want to do... read, cook, sew, go back to school, get pedicures, travel, whatever I wanted... and this has been life changing.  I have taken care of me and rediscovered who I am.  While I am proud to be called mother, daughter, sister, and friend,  I am no longer defined by just those things.

9.  Life is meant to be shared...
     But, only with people who want to share it with you.  People who want to share life with you will figure out a way to.  They put forth the effort, they change their plans (occasionally), they make sacrifices because they truly want to share life with you.  And, because they recognize that you are doing the same to spend time with them.  It isn't always easy to spend time with friends and family.  But, if you honestly want to spend time with them, you figure out a way.

10.  There is joy in every situation.
     Really.  Sometimes you have to dig deep, but it's there.  I became a Christian when I was younger.  And, I thought I knew God.  But, life happened and I realized that my relationship with Christ was not where it needed to be.  I was depressed, and lonely.  I felt lost.  I didn't have happiness in my life, much less, joy.  My world was crumbling around me and the only place that I could look without seeing darkness was up.  I began to search for answers; I began to pray without ceasing.  And, then one day, as I was crying my eyes out over what had happened to me, I felt an overwhelming need to smile.  I realized then, that for the first time in years, I had joy in my heart.  It made no sense whatsoever.  How could it be that in the midst of all that was happening that I could experience such an immense sense of joy? But, it was there.  And, it still is.  Yes, there are days that I have to really look for it, but it is always there.  It is truly a matter of perspective.

11. Small towns have so much to offer.
     After being away for almost 13 years, I came back to my roots.  Small town life is so much different, but it is wonderful.  You can count on the people in this community to take care of you when you need them.  Not only have I seen it in action, I have lived it.  I have been lifted up in prayer since I moved back.  Everyone has welcomed me with open arms and taken to my children as if they were their own.  There is no doubt that we are loved and supported by our family and friends here.  There is always a smile, hug, word of encouragement or a wave wherever we I go.  There is a song that says, "God put a million, million doors in the world for His love to walk through.  One of those doors is you."  I can't even count the number of 'doors' here.  They are everywhere and they are a blessing.

12.  People will let you down.
     Some people unintentionally let you down.  Life happens, curve balls are thrown, and we let others down.  I've done it more times than I care to admit.  I've tried my best to own it, apologize, and make things right when it happens.  Many times, I fail at that.  But, I keep trying. 
     Some people let you down because they don't value you.  It never occurs to them that they have let you down because their only concern is for how they feel and what they want. 
     The best thing you can do is try to distinguish between the two.  Once you recognize the people who could care less, then you can either stay away from them or at least manage your expectations.

13. The simple things are the best.
     Tucking in my babies, dancing in the rain, playing with my kiddos, sisters, weddings, days on the water, nights around the fire, the smell of my kids fresh out of the tub, sunshine on my skin, saltwater in my hair, sand between my toes, Mama's hugs, babies, the smell of defoliant on a fall night, giggles, tailgating with friends, Daddy's words of wisdom, friends, music in the Beat Lab, afternoons in the pool, ringing my cowbell, Papaw's stories, road trips, good books, early morning runs, brothers, unexpected reunions, the end piece of Grandmother's homemade bread fresh out of the oven, vacations with friends, reading bedtime stories, spending time with people who want to spend time with you, hand-made blankets, traditions, great conversations, and new beginnings...

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." -Maria Robinson
Happy New Year!