Easter Egg-Citement

Today is the official celebration of Easter. You’ve probably seen the ads and your kids have probably begged you for Easter candy, even if you don’t celebrate for religious reasons. Growing up one of my favorite activities was the Easter egg hunt. Yes, we were a religious family, but there’s something special about looking for hidden eggs, just like there is about Santa at Christmas. Why have an Easter egg hunt with your kids?

For one, it’s fun your kids will want to do more than once. You’ll be filling and hiding, or at the very least hiding, eggs for the next few months. It’s one of those gifts that keep on giving. If you don’t want to fill individual eggs you can give the child with the most eggs found a prize.

If you’ve got slightly older kids who get easily bored or don’t have the same interest as younger kids in looking for eggs, just hide a few, maybe even some of the same color, around the house. It will be a bigger challenge for them and keep them interested for longer.

I do have a vote for the religious aspect, even if you’re not very religious. Giving your kids the knowledge, or letting them choose whether to believe or not, is empowering for both you and them. It’s great to be able to say to your kids “because [God] made it that way” when they ask you a particularly tricky question that you just don’t have an answer to. It also helps kids understand why things don’t always go their way and why not everything makes logical sense. Knowing there is something bigger, stronger and loving out there can help allay fears and provide reassurance of answers when there don’t seem to be any.

Finally, I love the whole concept of eggs. You’re looking for something, you’re discovering what’s inside and you’re celebrating that discovery. Just like kids learn, discover and grow as they get older, these steps are important for them to be aware of, especially in this instant age. Sometimes the good stuff is wrapped in a little mystery, surrounded by a little work, but no matter how you get there, it’s important to celebrate what you learn.

This Easter and this week ahead, hide some eggs with your kids, and discover the fun you can have together.

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A Little Time for Quiet

When was the last time you were really quiet? Maybe you had the opportunity this winter if the power went out where you are and everything stopped for a few hours or days. We’re so used to the world that we live in with the quiet hum of refrigerators and other appliances working in the background that even when we think it’s quiet, for instance when the kids leave the house and we turn off the TV, it’s really not. But when everything shuts off, or you venture deep into the woods on a snowy day, it’s truly quiet.

As the season of Lent finishes up and we head into the days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, whether you’re religious or not, it’s a good reminder and opportunity to make time for quiet reflection. What’s the power of quiet reflection and why would we want to do it? Well, quiet reflection is a time for not only processing what’s been going on in your life and considering your goals and accomplishments, but also about finding peace, healing and connecting with yourself.

I know that the quiet scares some of us, it can be a little overwhelming to feel so isolated, especially in this world that we live in where we’re almost constantly around others and talking with other whether in person or virtually. So it may take a little time and effort to get to the point that you’re comfortable with the world around you being quiet and it just being you and your thoughts all alone. But I think it’s important because we don’t spend enough time on reflection, let alone quiet reflection by ourselves. I don’t think most of us take the time to really connect with ourselves and check in on things before just charging forward. There’s nothing wrong with being decisive or taking action (both are important), but I think we miss out on an opportunity to build our confidence in ourselves and to learn deep and amazing things about ourselves when we only do the action side of things and not the quiet reflection.

So this week I would encourage you to make time for quiet time, just you, maybe a note pad and pen, and your thoughts. If you work on making it a regular habit I think you’ll find that you’re more relaxed, more prepared and more at peace with life. What will you learn in the quiet?

The Path of Most Resistance

This week I’ve been following a story that has definitively captured my attention, that of 2 young boys who were surgically separated.  This isn’t a new practice, we’ve been doing it for many years, but the thing that was different about their situation is that they were attached at the head.  The surgery was successful, and now it’s time for healing for the boys as well as the family.  I can’t imagine going through that as a parent or family member, I’ve been through challenges with my grandparents as well as personal and immediate family health challenges or surgeries, but to contemplate the incredible challenges that were present before and different ones that are present now is heartrending.

It got me thinking about what happens when we ask God/The universe (or whatever higher power you believe in) for something.  Sometimes we get exactly what we ask for, other times we are told to wait and then receive, but other times what we’re given is what we ask for but with a serious twist. This family wanted to grow a little and what they were given wasn’t just two new lives, but two new lives that presented incredible challenges physically, mentally and emotionally for them and the family.  It’s not what their parents would have ever asked for, but now that they’ve gone through the steps this far (and considering worse case scenarios that are still possible), you have to wonder if they would do it all over again exactly the same.

Maybe you’ve been in this place before. Maybe you’ve been on a very challenging journey thanks to God/The Universe delivering an answer to you, or maybe you’re in that journey now.  You’ve heard the saying “no pain, no gain”, but is that really what you would choose when all is said and done?  For many people the deep-down answer is yes.  They would choose to take the same hard road. There might be a few things they would do different (like not resist as much) but essentially their answer would be yes.  What would yours be?

This week I encourage you to be open to all that the world could hold for you.  Who knows, maybe these two boys now that they’re separated will become the presidents of the US.  Maybe they’ll find a cure for diabetes or Alzheimers.  Or maybe they’ll not do anything world shattering with their lives, but they will make a positive difference and make the earth richer because they’re alive and survived these early challenging years.  What will you find at the end of your current path in life?

Your Expectations

Today I’m thinking about expectations.  We have expectations about ourselves, we have expectations about our family members, we have expectations about the place we work or the kind of work we do, and we have expectations about our world.  The dictionary defines expectations as: to look forward to; regard as likely to happen; anticipate the occurrence or the coming of; to look for with reason or justification.  Sometimes our expectations aren’t justified and we don’t have a whole lot of facts we can put behind them to support them, but if we really take the time to think about it, most expectations we can come up with a reason for expecting the result that we do.

The thing is though, not all of those reasons are good ones.  We may expect someone to let us down because we have had it happen in the past, we may expect that things will typically become less expensive over time because the products to complete them are cheaper, and we may expect something to happen because it seems logical to us or because it’s the only conclusion we can come up with.  However if you present the same exact situations and things to other people they may come up with completely different conclusions than you or I did because each of us has our own set of expectations.

The reason I bring up expectations today is because the expectations you do and don’t have could greatly affect, and even hurt, someone else.  For example if you expect someone to fail or not do their best work, while you may be right you’re discouraging them from giving it their best effort if/when they know you don’t believe they can do great things.  A prime example is when your kids hear that they’re “good for nothing” over and over.  When they hear that, and know that’s what you believe about them and expect them to produce (nothing), and most will be beaten down until they do produce nothing.  Of course, the reverse can be true too; if you have high expectations of someone you can help launch them to reaching bigger goals than they thought they could reach.

This week I encourage you to check your expectations.  Do you expect the best of people? Are your expectations so set in stone that you can’t see beyond them to the other possibilities that are out there?  Do you live up to the expectations other people have of you (and are they fair expectations)? Are you expecting the best possible result from this week?

Are you Faithful?

This month one of the topics we’ve talked about is faith, and as we wrap up this month today I wanted to talk about being faithful.  Are you a faithful person?  Are you faithful to the decisions you’ve made and people who you’ve chosen to let into your life? Do you have faith in other people?  Are you faithful to yourself and your needs, dreams and desires? Do you follow through on the commitments you’ve made?  Can people trust you? Do you trust yourself?

I know these are some challenging questions, and those we may not like to ask very often.  We don’t like to believe or discover that we’re not the person we should be, the person we think we are or the person others think we are.  It’s not exciting to most of us to discover that we’ve got work to do on ourselves and the areas we’re lacking in.  But faith and faithfulness are qualities that people look for in each other, and the reward of taking the time to do the work is usually better than we could imagine.

With summer comes lots of opportunities to be with family and friends.   Family and friends are the people typically who know us the best and who we put the most faith in, and the people who have the most faith in us.  Yes, sometimes your faith will be misplaced and you’ll need to reevaluate, but most of us don’t get into relationships or have kids (or make career choices) without having faith, or at the very least hope, in how things will turn out.

So as you spend time with others this summer I encourage you to step up and be the person that your friends and family have placed their faith in.  Be the supportive friend they need, be the guide they need, be the leader they need, be the disciplinarian they need, and/or be the comforting shoulder they need.  But don’t forget about being faithful to yourself and your needs and desires too.  Carve out some time each week, or even each day if possible to be faithful to who you are and want to be.

Faith For Life

Welcome to July! I’m looking forward to what this month will bring, I know it will be an exciting one! This month the topic we’ll be talking about is one that we’re challenged on regularly: faith. Whether you are a religious person or not (and regardless of which religion/faith/belief system you may follow) faith is more than a religious/faith topic, it’s a human one. Faith is defined as “confidence or trust in a person or thing,” and “a belief that is not based on proof,” Those are the primary definitions of it. Yes, there are other definitions (or thoughts that follow those definitions), especially related to spirituality and religion, but while those two definitions can be used in a spiritual way, they most definitely don’t have to be.

Faith ultimately is a way of living.  You can choose to live your life in doubt of everyone around you and of the world at large.  You can choose to question everything that goes on around you and the people you meet.  You can choose to trust no one but yourself and anyone who manages to make it through your rigorous and extreme line of questions and hurdles.  People live that way, yes I’ve met them.  Some people have more doubt and distrust than others for good reasons (they’ve been really hurt in the past).  Others choose to live that way for some other reason (they get kicks out of it or something equally crazy).

But there are others who choose to live life in faith.  Choose to see life as full of potential, see people as those who have failed or made mistakes in the past (and probably will in the future) but are still worthy of love and have incredible value, and see the world as a place of hope and opportunity, not something going to ruin.  Do you have faith in yourself? In your kids? In your partner? In your family (blood or chosen)?  In your friends? Do you have some bits of faith in the people in the world at large that deep down most of them want the best for everyone else?  Do you have faith that it will all work out in the way it is supposed to; in a way that will bless others?

What do you have faith in?

Having Faith

This week I’ve been thinking about the topic of faith. It’s a topic that impacts all areas of your life, whether you’re religious or not. Do you have faith in your romantic partner? Do you have faith in your country? Do you have faith in your neighbors? Do you have faith in your abilities? Do you have faith in something Greater? Do you have faith in your kids? Do you have faith in the businesses you patronize and products/services you purchase? To some extent we have to have faith in many of these, or we would be hermits in the hills with no contact with the greater world.

So what can I say about faith to help with the lack of faith that so many of us struggle with for various reasons? First, know that some struggle is normal. There will be times in your life when your whole world gets turned upside-down and your beliefs and values come into question. This is an opportunity for you to confirm and strengthen your beliefs and values or a chance for you to grow and discover new (or new to you) truths about your world and/or yourself.

Second, I believe that faith is a good thing. I believe it’s one of those things that empowers us, blesses us, strengthens us, gives us something to hold onto and makes our lives much richer. I believe it is part of the magic in our families and what has helped keep the family unit together since the beginning of time.

Faith is a choice. We don’t have to believe in ourselves, our world and each other. We can exist in cynicism, doubt and distrust. However, I’ve met enough of these people to know that it’s not a way of life I want. I’d much rather live with the belief that we all have a part to play in making this world a better, more fulfilling, happier, healthier, more awesome place.

Choosing to Celebrate

Today in many parts of the world two events are being honored: Passover and Good Friday. Both events remind us of challenges, of pain and unhappiness, and that the journey isn’t always easy. But they both are just the beginning, because Passover is really a celebration, and Good Friday is a precursor to the celebration of Easter. You’ve probably heard it said before: that the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn. Many times in our lives we’ll feel like we’re at our lowest point, only to rise higher and stronger than ever. Over the past few years it seems like we’ve just been talking about the tough times, about the failures we’ve been with our partners, the messes we’ve made at our jobs, the mistakes we’ve made as parents, and ways we’ve let the rest of the world down.

But this weekend is an opportunity to celebrate. Yes, you may look at it as a challenge with family that always stresses you out descending on your world. Yes, it’s always a little stressful to think about cooking for double or more than you usually do. Yes, it’s stressful if you own a business that does extra or special business during this time.

But I believe it’s important to take time to celebrate. Maybe you won’t be able to celebrate this weekend because of how busy you are with work, so take time next week or next weekend to celebrate with your partner, kids and those you do enjoy spending time with. Don’t lock yourself into celebrating only when the calendar tells you that you can. It’s not the calendar date that makes the day or event special, it’s the people you’re with and ability to celebrate life and the blessings you have.

“My motto is: more good times.” Jack Nicholson