Fall

I love to travel. The only reason that I stay as stationary as I do for weeks at a time is because I do not have a vehicle. Driving up 95 north towards New Hampshire chasing the the foliage yesterday was an awesome experience and day trips save my sanity. My bff Laura can attest to the adrenaline rush that comes with an impromptu rode trip. Though I enjoy my apartment, I still enjoy getting away and seeing new things. I like to challenge myself to a different experience that forces me out of my comfort zone. Honestly, I fear the idea of a comfort zone and as soon as I find myself in one I immediately plan an escape. Relationships with family and friends are the only time in which I desire a sense of comfort and monotony.

I absolutely adore autumn. In an article for the Boston College newspaper years ago, I declared my love publicly. I still feel the same way I felt years ago, that fall is perhaps the best season ever. I enjoy everything about what it brings: new school supplies, foliage, apples, change, and the drastic and unpleasant shift in seasons. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago I can appreciate the winters in New England but my favorite part is the distinct and remarkable moment the comes each year between September and October. It is a day when the warmth and comfort leave and the evening air has a certain unexpected chill. The above pictures are from an impromptu day trip to Boston College last year. Boston in the Fall is simply magnificent.

“I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.

– Nathaniel Hawthorne

Prep

Now that the book True Prep has finally hit the shelves, I feel that I can finally put some of my favorite things on my blog. The book True Prep is the sequel to the book The Official Preppy Handbook. The sequel is equally as entertaining and I would love to have an autographed copy. Needless to say, the below items are a few of my favorite things that epitomize what some may see as preppy. I like to call myself a bohemian prep however. That takes the pressure off of me to look neat when I wear these items. It also allows flexibility when choosing brands. Cheers!

PREPPY
n.
Informal, pl., -pies.

  1. A student or former student of a preparatory school.
  2. A person whose manner and dress are deemed typical of traditional preparatory schools.

adj., -pi·er, -pi·est.
Of or relating to a preppy or a preparatory school.


Good Thoughts

So a man thinketh so is He. (Proverbs 23:7)
It is important to make attempts to think good thoughts. Sometimes meditating and concentrating on one thought at a time can help us to censor our thoughts. Though it feels like an impossible task, thinking good thoughts is imperative for maintaining mental and emotional health. How do you work to make your thoughts line up with your actions and vice versa? It is definitely an art. Thinking, speaking, and doing all go together in a tightly constructed package. That is why our thoughts are so important. Think about something good, ready, set, go….

Let the wicked forsake His way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord; and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:7-ff).

Taylor G.

Dear Taylor,
I would like to thank you for being such a wonderful daughter. Taylor G, I know it is not easy to have a mommy that has this whole “ambitious traveling” thing going on. I love bookstores, coffee shops, as well as Gothic architecture, and as a result you have sat through hundreds of conversations where no one but your mommy spoke sign language. In the quest for the good life, I failed to ask your permission to take such leaps of faith. You have been with me to live in several cities over the past seven years, three schools, and one island. I appreciate your ability to be flexible despite your diagnosis of autism and deafness. Thank you for telling me when you need a break and communicate when we need to pause. You are humble and grateful and even an invitation to view the cockpit of an airplane does not impress you. You are not moved by your numerous visits to the Ivies and most of all you are always willing to try something new. Patient, loving, with an unapologetic sense of style and grace makes me proud to be your mother. There are many children that would frown at the thought of traveling in trains, planes, and automobiles on a constant basis, but you take it all in stride, wanting only an array of snacks and an occasional fine dining experience. Thumbing through bookshelves at Barnes and Noble has become your passion, and you speak to everyone by politely tapping them on the shoulder. The G at the end of your name represents the name Gabriel, pronounced like the messenger in the bible. Therefore I like to call you my “Taylor made” messenger. No matter what our experiences has been over the past decade, you have rose to the occasion with a smile. Though sometimes you object to unexpected change, that is just a gentle reminder for me to consider you needs as well as mine. Three academic degrees, three cities, one awesome daughter = One Good Life.

Thank you for being a wonderful part of these experiences. I could not have accomplished them without you!

“All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be your children’s peace.”
Isaiah 54:13

Good Times Sort of

Lately I have been going through a number of changes and transitions (to say the least). I have missed those good times that I discussed in my previous posts even more. Since my blog is about the good life and good times I didn’t want to be a downer and post a complaint about bad times (then I would need to modify the name of my blog).
We all go through bad times at some point during our lives. Inevitably, if you live long enough you will experience bad times. Those are times when situations and circumstances seem overwhelming. Those are often the times that make you stay on your knees in prayer and evaluate the most important aspects of your life. Difficult times, whatever they are, require us to have God on speed dial; constantly communicating with him about our feelings and needs in order to see our way through. Though I may not always receive the ideal or favorable outcome, I am confident that good times will come again. I must admit however that during the bad times, I make promises to myself that I will enjoy the good times wholeheartedly when they return. I also promise God that I will be grateful for those good times if He promises to give me just a glimpse of something good. Though bad times may not appear to have any good at first glance, they are indeed better than we realize. Often times there are good people standing on the sidelines cheering us on and praying on our behalf. Therefore you can rejoice in the bad times for good people, more good times and a Good God!

James 1:2

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, cause you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you can become mature and complete.”

No

What happens when someone tells you NO. Most of us cannot bear to hear the word let alone say it. Even when paired with a combination of words, the word no seems difficult to inhale: no thank you, no more, no not right now, and no I am not interested. They are deafening to the ears and even though they are uttered in a mild tone, the blow is substantial. I know when I hear the word no I experience a brief period of disappointment and depending on the circumstances hurt. However, the next emotion I feel is usually relief. I am relieved that the door has been closed officially and now I am free to explore other options. It doesn’t happen very often (yes, I am spoiled), but when it does I must remain optimistic and understand that perhaps there is a greater plan at work and that there is indeed something better in store. The word no should be respected and even admired at times. The person saying no usually has drawn from a certain amount of courage because often times it does not come easy. I know that when I tell someone no, it is often for their own good and mine. It is the best option at the time and must be respected. It is interesting that the word no is universal; several languages use the same word and it means the same thing: a response used as a refusal, or to disagree to something. Let’s practice saying it: 1,2,3…..NO. Whew, I feel better already.

Simply yet your yes mean yes and your no mean no, anything else comes from the evil one.

Matthew 5:37 (NIV)

Fairy Tale

As a parent I am often inundated with children’s shows and cartoons. There are often real life practical messages that take place in fairy tales and cartoons. I wonder if cartoons are really written for children, or if they are in fact written for the adults because the writers know that we will be forced to watch them countless times. Real life however is not a fairy tale  There are often real life stressors and factors that leave us overwhelmed and there is no prince charming to save the day. That is the difficult part to accept about life. It is real and sobering and you must continue on despite the difficulties you face. I have learned that despite difficulties you must move forward, just as I described in my sleepwalking post. One foot in front of the other. left.right.left right. Even though certain trials leave you spinning and you feel like you have little left, there is still that hope for a happy ending. Yes, life is not a fairy tale  but as Christians we believe that there is always a happily ever after.

Count it all joy whenever you face trials of many kinds. Because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance…..so that you may be mature and complete. (James 1:2) NIV

Grateful


I have come up with at least one way to combat difficult times that we all experience in life. Gratitude. I know that it seems difficult at times and that many people have created legitimate slogans for Christianity based off this principle but I find it to be true: thankfulness and gratitude combat negativity. Many people are moved to compare more difficult situations to their own and boast, ” Well at least it’s not this bad”, but I rather reserve the focus for my own life. Having been on the other side of such a comment (others using my situation to make themselves feel better) I don’t find it as useful as some. Saying thank you however in a spirit of true gratefulness seems to be a useful strategy in combating stress. I am so grateful. I have a wonderful sense of freedom and happiness. I have a new job, a new place, and I am loved. All of these things are provided through God’s grace and I am in a word: Grateful. I am full of a gratitude that can only be given to God because of his unmerited love and faithfulness. I am grateful and trust Him for His provisions and grace. It reminds me of a poem by Maya Angelou that I memorized growing up. In fact, I memorized many of the poems in her collection though I am certainly not a poet. Part of it read:

Thank you Lord for life and ALL that’s in it. Thank you for the day, and for the hour and for the minute. I know many are gone and I’m still living on and I want to thank you.

Maya Angelou

Sleepwalking


I wonder if true faith is similar to sleepwalking? As I walked a mile home today in the 90 degree heat I wondered about the similarities between sleepwalking and faith. At some point during my walk since I was emotionally and physically drained I wondered what would happen if for a moment I closed my eyes and just walked. I tried it. I simply put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t really think about it or ponder the what ifs. Just for a moment I took the limited energy that I had and walked forward. I was tired and knew that I had a long way to go. There was no option to stop or to ask for help, I just had to use the little bit of energy I had to keep walking. I took my right foot first and stepped forward; then my left foot. Soon I was walking and making progress. When I looked up and realized that I was facing a steep hill I almost panicked. ” I am tired,” I thought, “how will I make it up the hill?” Just like the disciples did in the Bible, I started to doubt. However, Taylor kept walking. She walked on without pausing and since we were walking hand and hand I had to keep going. I was amazed at her level of energy. As we rounded the curb towards home she sprinted the rest of the way. I would like to think that during our difficult trials, as we see an end or a break to our difficult walk, that we also sprint the rest of the way. I would also like to think that just as my daughter was walking hand and hand with me, God does the same with us. He holds our hand just in case we stumble and he even carries us when we can’t move forward. During those times, we are moving forward not in our own strength but it is God who is pushing us forward because of our faith in Him. Just as if we were sleepwalking; our eyes are closed and we are pressing forward diligently to our destination knowing that God will not let us fall.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you from His glorious presence without fault and great joy–
Jude 1:24

Team Player

Look out, we’re coming on through
This time, we’re looking at you

We’ve got the power to be the best

The Knights will shine above the rest

The time has come to prove we’re number one
Our mighty Knight spirit (jump)
Will get the job done

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I was a cheerleader in high school. I guess that is where I acquired my upbeat and optimistic attitude; from my short lived career as a cheerleader. To me it was a serious sport. I even wrote a paper in purple font on the significance of cheerleaders. Even as an adult I cheer people on despite their situation and try to offer a kind word of support. “If no one believes in you I do. You are awesome and unstoppable.”

Cheerleading was a huge part of my life in high school. Our cheerleading team was mediocre at best but we looked good, worked hard and were dedicated to cheering on our ball players. It was both an honor and a privilege to cheer on such a talented group, most whom have grown up to be responsible men. Being optimistic in the face of negativity is hard work. As cheerleaders, we cared about the overall well being of our players and they were like brothers to us. When we lost a game that would have allowed for an opportunity to go downstate we were devastated together and we felt the pain as a team. The wonderful thing about a team is that you are able to join in on the successes as well as the failures. You never abandon the team no matter what the situation looks like. That was the difficult part. It was tempting to point fingers when we were losing. You cannot do that when you are a part of team however, it is important that you stick together and come up with a solution and a strategy. If the strategy fails then you go back to the drawing board and plan another strategy. There was a comradeship and mutual respect among cheerleaders and players. We were an extension of the team and we played our position well.

The same type of teamwork exists in a relationship. Each person plays their position. If one person on the team is injured the other team members crowd around them and kneel in respect. When they arise from their injury, they are cheered and supported by the team. Relationships function a lot like a team; they require that each person plays their position and makes sacrifices on behalf of the team. You wouldn’t find a player going to the hoop and making a basket unless it benefited the team as a whole. He or she is supposed to play their appointed position. In a relationship it is also important that each team member knows the other team members’ strengths and weaknesses. That is all part of what makes a good team, complimenting each others’ shortcomings. Being a team player is not easy, but you are more likely to succeed at the game of life when you are a member of a strong team.

“Keep away from people that belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great, make you feel that you too can become great.”
Mark Twain