Good Advice

I get lots of advice. No matter the venue or mode of communication, people tend to give me unsolicited advice because of my situation. Though most of it is well intended and some of it even useful, there are those rare occasions where I get great advice. That was the case today. I posted on FB that today was my first day alone without Taylor in three months. I appreciated the well wishes and the positive tone from friends because most see the struggle first hand. The best advice I received on the thread was from a highschool friend that I haven’t spoken to in years (accept via FB).
We share some of the same struggles as single parents and a love for lifelong learning. She told me to breathe slowly. It was the best advice I have gotten in a long time. I have experienced two anxiety attacks in my life, ironically during times that I was not particularly stressed. The most painstaking aspect of such an attack is the realization that you cannot control your breathing. You are breathing very fast and your heart rate is accelerating. Breathing is so important and therefore today more than any day I focused on my breathing. In doing so, I was able to take in each moment rather than running anxiety about my day. The day actually went by slower and I was able to tap into other senses as well. I smelled the water from our local fountain more vividly and I felt the wind cross my path and move with me as I walked. Most importantly I was able to walk around and notice my environment. I sat still throughout the day at different moments just so I could breathe slowly. Thanks Keli!

Good Advice + Good People= a good life
Breath is Spirit. The act of breathing is Living. ~ Author unknown

Good Memories

My dad is pretty awesome. He is one of those people you like almost immediately because his personality draws you in, making you feel significant even if you are merely a stranger. He has a great sense of humor and a cool confident swag. I am honored to be his daughter. We have always had a good relationship and if there was an issue it is mostly because we are so much alike. My favorite quality that I received from him was the ability to affirm people with positive words, reminding them how important they are, highlighting their strengths rather than their weaknesses. He has always been very positive, saying just right things to help me maintain a healthy level of confidence. I always love hanging out with my dad, and as a teenager we would spend the weekends together at least twice a month. Though my parents were divorced, they always maintained a friendship which made it even easier for us to maintain a good relationship.

My most vivid memories are of us spending weekends together. He would pick me up on a Friday evening in his short body Cadillac (a Chicago thing), and we would head out to his place for dinner. Since I am the youngest, I spent more time with my dad than my other siblings which made are bond even more unique. Since he was not much of a cook he would make sloppy joes or pork chops which he mastered by the time I was a teenager. We would stay up for a bit chatting about what happened at school that week. When he went to bed I would raid my stepmother’s library for her latest novel and attempt to devour it before the night was over. On Saturday mornings he would make a great breakfast (his specialty) before we embarked on a shopping trip. Sunday we would always go to grandma’s house which was always a great time. We would spend at least nine or ten hours there but somehow it only felt like only three hours. I would be a bit sad when he dropped me off, missing him before the Cadillac could even round the corner and eagerly expecting the same fun weekend two weeks later. He is an amazing guy and love my daddy more than words can express. Despite the complexities that exist in parent/child relationships, I know based on those memories that we have a bond that will never be broken.
I am grateful for those memories that sustain me since I moved away from home almost eight years ago. Memory is that part of the brain that can sustain you and give you strength reminding you of those good times, when things were easy and simply.
good memories + good family= a good life
Happy Father’s Day Daddy!
I love my father as the stars-he is a bright shining example and a twinkling in my heart ~

Terri Guillemets

The Day Trip

There is so much that can happen in one day. The experiences that you have within a day can change your life forever. I try to take at least one day trip per month. In fact, I can credit day trips to saving my sanity when I need a change of location or a quick getaway. Over the past seven years, those day trips have amounted to life changing experiences. Whether by train, plane, or automobile, taking a day away to reflect, meet new people, and cover new ground has been so rewarding. For example, while living in Brooklyn back in 2003 I took a day drip to New Haven, CT. Me, Taylor and her famous Maclaren Stroller boarded the Metronorth train at Grand Central, bound for a day adventure. Having never traveled to New Haven, I was interested in touring that famous university set in the heart of downtown. Little did I know that a simple day trip would expand my territory regarding politics and ambition more than I ever expected. I met an older gentlemen on the train and we struck up an interesting conversation about politics and religion. He was a former academic and scholar turned business man. The conversation was thought provoking and I was somewhat converted (but we will talk about that later) to a different way of thinking. He treated me and Taylor to savory burgers at a restaurant at the top of the Omni where we were able to overlook the university. It was beautiful and years later, that restaurant is still my favorite spot in NH. Needless to say, seven years later I live two blocks from that restaurant and I still remember that meeting. It is funny how time away from your comfort zone can expand your horizons and taste buds for new things, new people and new opportunities.

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it difficult to plan the day. Elwyn Brook White

Good Movement

I love to travel. Movement has always served as an adrenalin rush for me. I prefer the train because it is always moving in one direction. Though it pauses for a bit along the way there is a set destination and psychologically movement allows me to have a sense of direction. Perhaps it is the freedom and the anticipation of the next thing. Staying in one place allows for a sense of monotony. Traveling also allows for new experiences and new people. It helps me to breathe.

I love the train because I can move at a fast pace without doing any of the work. Looking at the beautiful scenery outside the window is refreshing. I have traveled often via train between the three different cities over the past seven years: New York, Boston and New Haven. Each city bringing a new set of challenges and experiences. I would not change a thing about the places I have been or the people I have met along that way. I once took the train when Taylor was a baby from New York to Chicago and back again. On the way back to New York, the train was stopped at around ten o’clock that night. When we woke up the next morning we were in that same spot. I was not upset because our train was delayed, or because I was worried about traveling with my young child, but because we were stopped in the same spot without movement for such a long time. The stagnation was almost paralyzing. I am constantly seeking ways to move. However, sometimes a period of standing still is important for growth. I was grateful that we eventually made it to our destination at the appointed time with everything in tact. I must learn to appreciate those times. Standing still waiting for movement is an inevitable part of life.

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Good People

Several weeks ago during our normal Saturday routine: a yummy breakfast, books and a stroll, we met a wonderful stranger. She joined us for lunch (pizza) and we chatted about numerous topics including family, relationships, and the quest for a life. We discussed how we both were in a place in our lives in which we were making a deliberate effort to appreciate the small things. It seemed to be just what we needed on that particular day. Living in a new city away from family is not new for me.
In fact, I have lived in three cities over the past eight years and I have become accustomed to having only a few “real” friends. However, it is a blessing to encounter good people, kind people, in my daily life that make being a transplant (a person from a different city) a little better.
There are boundaries of course that are important when building any new relationship or friendship, but I enjoy meeting new people, good people, that enable me to believe in the goodness of the human spirit. As I try to block out all the difficult things that are happening in society today I mediate on those good things that happen to us in our everyday lives that we should never take for granted. Good co-workers, good church folk, good concierges, good classmates and good neighbors. For me those are all good people whose company I look forward to on a daily basis.
Good people + Good times = One Good life
“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters, do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Hebrews 13:1-2

Good Interception

What would you do if you knew that even though you suffer at times and feel pain or discomfort, that someone was right there to intercept that pain? Though you may feel it in the natural realm, your spirit is not crushed, because you know that someone was there to intercept it for you. That is how I felt today after a visit to the dentist with my daughter. Taylor had a MAJOR meltdown; biting, kicking, and screaming. All the while I was being berated by the dentist for not having her teeth in the “perfect” tip top shape. Taylor has a beautiful smile, and I brush her teeth daily. However, she was angry because the cleaning was difficult. She was so angry that a major autistic meltdown ensued. It was a tough experience, but similar to several that I have experienced in the past.

This meltdown left me feeling extremely embarrassed and sad. By the time we arrived home Taylor was over the ordeal. She moved on and began anticipating her next snack. However, the negative feelings still lingered with me. But after a couple hours I was fine. I no longer felt defeated or melancholy. Without me any notice, the burden had been lifted, and I was able to move on. That is how God does it. Suddenly our burdens are lifted, leaving new and fresh ground. Holy ground.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (New International Version, 2011)

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Good God

Safe. Loved. Beautiful.

When I close my eyes and imagine you I am blown away. Your presence alone renders me weak and speechless. I close my eyes and imagine you and me. Perfect. Beautiful. Holding hands. Embraced. The slightest touch makes me smile. I beam with joy. Perfect. This daydream in perfect, because you are perfect. I am afraid to open my eyes, because then it would no longer be real. This perfect thing. Us. Together. I have not felt this happy since that bike ride on the vineyard. Satisfied. Safe. Loved. Beautiful.

My eyes open. You are still there. Your presence is always there. You said you would never leave me nor forsake me. Thank you Lord.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:2-3

Good Lessons

The most difficult situations can teach us a lesson. It is what educators refer to as a “teachable moment.” I learned a lot from watching Disney movies with my daughter Taylor. After watching them nearly five times a day, I have found valuable lessons in each of her favorite films. From the Little Mermaid I learned that a woman should never lose her voice in a relationship. Eventually she will need to speak.
From the Princess and the Frog I learned that sometimes prince charming can turn into a frog and sometimes a frog can turn into a prince. Basically, what is on the inside is what matters the most because looks can be deceiving. I learned a very valuable lesson from the movie Finding Nemo. Our parents are important and even though we think we may know what is best, disobedience can get us in a lot of trouble, even as adults. Nemo was disobedient and ended up captured and swimming in an unknown place. His disobedience and rebellion almost cost him his life. It was only by grace that he was able to find his way home. Learning from our experiences is an important part of life. If we allow ourselves to, perhaps we can learn the lesson before we make the mistake. Good Lessons + Good Experiences = A Good Life

Wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:14)

Good Stuff

My friends and family can testify to my passion for gift giving. It is a trait that I inherited from my maternal grandmother. She enjoyed both giving and receiving gifts. She would ponder over holiday gifts months in advance for the holiday season. I miss her dearly.

Another trait that I inherited from her was the love of shopping. There are certain items that I buy more often than others, and just as we all do, I dream of the day when I can shop without glancing at the price tag. There are two particular items that I purchase regularly because of their price tag and also for their ability to grant me instant gratification. I am immediately satisfied with these purchases and usually purchase one at least every week. There is no doubt that purchasing good stuff makes us feel good.

The Tote
Perhaps it is simply a New England thing, but I have grown to love totes. Obviously, I love the traditional L.L.Bean tote, but the simpler more stylish tote from J.Crew will suffice. It is simple, affordable and practical. The whole green era has also enabled the tote to be used as a grocery bag. While in graduate school I carried my tote as a book bag, and when my daughter was quite young I used it as a diaper bag. Below is a picture of my latest tote; the J.Crew tote, which is only $10. I already own four of them!:)The Book
Books are always a great buy. Whether as gifts, or as added additions to my collection, I am never disappointed when I make a book purchase. My favorite place to buy books is the clearance shelf at major bookstores. The next best place to find an awesome book is the resale shop. I have also uncovered a number of hidden gems at local used bookstores. Including an original copy of the Color Purple as well as Class of ’57 Yale Yearbook. Both equally valuable for their historical content. I have such a good time canvasing bookstores in search of a good book.

If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

Sometimes purchasing your favorite item or good thing, can elevate your mood, or serve as a small reward for a minor accomplishment. Good Stuff + Good Times = Good Life

Good Stuff man, Good Stuff.

The Good Life

What happens when life is not so good? Whether it is related to the tough economic times or personal stress, at times if is tough to point out those good things in our lives. It is important to make an attempt to find those things which are good or praiseworthy. Showing gratitude for the little things that we take for granted can serve as a simple remedy for the blues. Gratitude replaces negative thoughts with positive thoughts, therefore allowing us to mediate on those good things in our lives. There is something about the show Good Times that is inspires me to be grateful. It is not because I see their lives as more challenging than mine, therefore I feel better about whatever challenges are present in my life. It is because though the Evans family is a fictional account of an urban black family, there are similar circumstances that they encounter which we can all relate to such as the loss of a job or an unfulfilled career, tight finances and daily prejudices that make it difficult to go to the next level. Perhaps we can relate to their desire to raise their children with standards and morals among people that lack gravely in those areas. Each of us encounters a number of challenges that sometimes make life not so good. However, it is up to us to find the humor and the blessings in the little things. Thinking good thoughts and relying on our families to keep us grounded is important. It is also important to remain grateful for the good that they bring to our lives. Good family + Good love = Good Times.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)