Humbled by Silence

To be “humbled” … A simple phrase with a meaning so significant it’s difficult to describe, and even more difficult to give justice. If asked however, the definition I would have recited was not so far off from the one as written in the dictionary: “low or inferior in station or quality; or marked by meekness or modesty; not arrogant or prideful”.

Searching for a deeper meaning was not a task I sought out to do, but when I stumbled upon it unexpectedly, the impact was nothing but powerful. In my small but inspiring journey, what I learned, was in order to be humbled, you had to truly feel it.

It wasn’t until I was in the presence of true greatness, honor and ultimate sacrifice, did I understand that that simple phrase had such profound meaning.

As I stood at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery, I was humbled. The force of what the sacred ground represents was hard not to feel the instant you looked out toward the white stones, perfectly aligned no matter the direction you faced. It was a beautiful summer day, the sky was clear blue and even though the heat was almost unbearable, I was awestruck so it didn’t faze me. As I walked the black tar paths to the many memorials, each marked by large concrete structures, an eternal flame or elaborate markers, inscribed with the names of those fallen before us, in the name of us, words escaped me, and I was humbled.

Arlington2Surrounded by people, but never feeling crowded, I slowly strolled along the paths only speaking when necessary. It was breathtaking, every bit, however two moments stay with me still. One, was when I passed a grieving widow, mother or friend who at that moment and the rest of her life, shared in the sacrifice that her loved one chose to embark, and one was witnessing the incredible strength and honor of the Changing of the Guard.

At The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier the backdrop was an immaculately kept garden so tranquil it seemed put the crowd that gathered at ease, yet you could still feel the raw emotions fill the air. We all watched in silence as a soldier, a mother’s son, dressed in full military uniform, in the blistering heat, strategically passed the honor of his position to another with pride, dignity and respect. The earth was still as my heart raced, and it became difficult to hold back the tears as this young person pronounced his dedication faithfully to the unknown – unknown by name, but famous by strength, honor and the fight for our freedom. As I watched this incredible sight, a sight that so simply yet so meaningfully defined the men and women of our country, who stand and march with their heads held high, never to waiver, never to complain and always with pride, I was humbled.

Time passed slowly and quietly as I finished my journey through the sacred ground but the clocked raced by, and I left Arlington National Cemetery that day changed. I was never more appreciative to be an American, never more in awe of the young men and woman who sacrifice their time, families and lives, and never more proud to be the daughter of a veteran.

Every day when we wake to our alarm clocks to start our day we should be thankful. Thankful that we can kiss our kids good morning, thankful that the job we may or may not like is waiting for us at the end of a long commute, thankful that the people we love are right beside us, or a phone call away, thankful that the quiet exists. Our freedoms can only be attributed to those who sacrifice their own, those who fight without question, and those who stand guard with nothing but faith; faith that their courage will not be remembered in vain.

We are gifted with the blessing of our voice because they lie silent…

Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.

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When I Grow Up I Wanna….Ummm

What to do when I grow up – that is a question I still ask myself at 36 years old. It was and sometimes still is something I could never truly put my finger on, however, I believe I’m slowly getting closer to the answer.  My problem is that I am what you would call a Jack of All Trades, Master of None, I love everything but can’t quite master any of it. I call it my own personal ADD. For as long as I can remember I have been struggling to find that one thing I love to do  more than anything, and when I say “thing” I mean career/hobby, but unfortunately in my search, most of these “things” turn into whims.

Outside of my full-time job (the job I have to pay the bills but would much rather poke my eyes out) I am constantly trying to find my reason, my definition, what it is that I want to dedicate myself to and share, hoping that “thing” would turn out to be something that could support my family or at least something that would stick. I’ve tried everything, I painted, I wanted to go back to school, even got the application and sent away for information (I just didn’t know what I wanted to study), I took classes on dog training, I trained dogs, I worked in and wrote about dog rescue, I wrote a “book” about myself, I tried self-publishing stories about my kids, I blogged, I even took up running and working out (which to my utter surprise turns out I love) and most recently I’m apparently going to sell houses and the list just goes on.

ImageThis journey is like one of those books we had as kids where you would get to a certain point and be given a chance to choose your ending. How cool is that, except I would pick Ending B, get to the end and be discouraged by my choice so I would then go back and choose Ending A, finish the story and wish there was an Ending C. I was never satisfied. I was and still am always looking for that WoW factor, that holy-crap-this-is-what-I-want-to-do-for-the-rest-of-my-life factor. Every time I thought I found it I would be hit with the reality of all the work that had to go into doing something for the rest of your life, wonder if I really loved it that much and then be on to the next thing.

Not until I discovered my love of writing did I almost settle in, but as I said in my recent post “Time”, I didn’t put the work in and I gave up. I did learn though that writing for me is one of those “things” that as soon as I take the time to sit and let the words come out, the WOW never goes away. When I’m in my writing mind and I get a thought in my head, it becomes an addiction. My car begins to fill up with notebooks, napkins, pads of paper and receipts all scribbled with jibberish and although I know what it all means in the moment, I’m truly lucky to make it out when I sit down to decipher it. The process takes over and if I can’t put on paper what is in my head I feel as if I’m in a tailspin. It’s crazy but calming and for once I felt content.

I never thought I could find anything else I would enjoy as much as I did when I would take my chaotic thoughts and make them coherent. I never thought anything else could compare, that is, until I was introduced to the fine art of coaching volleyball. ADD…I told you. This one is different though and if I could write and coach full-time, that is what I would do for the rest of my life, absolutely no question. Even though my first year was a little bumpy and a somewhat intimidating, unlike the rest of my adventures I never wanted to quit once and the thought of The-Rest-Of-My-Life is not exhausting but exciting. Wouldn’t you know it, just like writing my love for the sport of volleyball never went away.

I finally found the WOW factor again and maybe I’m not totally done looking for what I want to do when I grow up, but I do hope I have the opportunity to coach for as long as I am able. My advice for all those out there with a little ADD and feel as if they will never find their WOW, keep looking, try everything – I recently read a quote from Jim Carrey that kinda stuck with me “you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love”. Don’t be afraid to try it all, and when you do find the WOW don’t ever give up on it.

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 **On a side note, stay tuned because I have a whole other set of opinions on the subject of kids’ sports, parents, why I love coaching and why I continue to do it… I thought politics was bad — Take teenage drama, parent drama, cost and competition, stir ‘em all together and the explosive fun that ensues is incredibly memorable and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Because They Danced…

Marriage. I was recently asked to give a toast about this very subject and for the life of me I could not come up with a single thing. At first I thought it was because I’m terrified to speak in public, but it was just my family; then I thought maybe it was because I didn’t have time to prepare, but I had plenty of time and 40 years to look back on (well technically 35 of my own years); and then I thought it was because Marriage is just not a good subject for ME to talk about, I’m simply not good at it. Whatever the reason, I fell short and I was unable to tell two of the most important people in my life how very significant their 40 years of marriage is to me and to many.

My parents celebrated 40 years married yesterday and even though I wished them congratulations, helped throw them a surprise party and raised my glass to them as my brother spoke and recited how he couldn’t wait to follow in their footsteps, I was without words.

My parents, like most if not all married couples, have been through thick and thin, good times and bad, trying times and easier times, but what sets them apart from many, is that they would do it all over again as long as they were together. There were times when I didn’t know how they would make it through the storm(s) of raising my brother and I (mostly me) and times when I would wonder how they were ever not together in their lives, but one thing I never doubted was their love for one another.

At the party yesterday one of my cousins asked my dad how they did it, how they made it all these years still intact. My dad’s answer was simple and perfect…we worked on it every day, every single day and…We Dance.

That statement was more true and more definitive then I think anyone in that room could ever know. Growing up I remember good times and bad times but the details of what made those times good and the bad have faded in my memory, however, my parents dancing never, ever will, and that memory is what makes me believe in true love.

It began before they were even married and into our childhood. They went dancing every Friday night, left us with sitters (some fantastic, some questionable) and sometimes although it wasn’t always easy, they made it a point to go together. Even as recently as this weekend, you ask what they did on Saturday night and my dad will proudly tell you they cleared the living room and danced all night. Growing up when we would attend weddings people would come up to me and tell me how amazing they were on the dance floor and how cool it was to watch them. I’d just smile shyly and say “yeah, I know”, but the truth is, they were, and still are amazing, because when they’re out there the only thing that matters is each other.

No matter how tough, no matter how bumpy or crazy life got, no matter how insane my Dad’s driving was or how uncontrollable my Mom’s reaction to it was, or whether there was a birth of a new grandchild or death of a loved one, they would always come back to their foundation and the love they share, and have shared through it all because of the foundation they built many years ago together.

When I see my parents holding hands after all these years, I can’t help but smile as it confirms that a love like that still exists and I’m very lucky to have witnessed and continue to witness it today. I’m so proud to be their daughter and so happy to be able to celebrate 40 years of marriage with them, and even though I froze yesterday, I hope that these words today can give justice to an amazing accomplishment and an amazing couple. Congrats you guys, we love you and because of you…

I will always believe in love because at the end of the party when all the cake is gone and the celebration comes to an end real love will last forever ….because they danced.

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Happy 40th Anniversary Mom & Dad!

TIME

Time is a funny thing. It’s powerful, so powerful it’s almost impossible to explain, you can’t see it, feel it, smell it, taste it or hear it, but it is capable of so many profound things – it can heal, age, pass, reveal and stand still. It can affect you and your life like you never thought possible. To describe it, words are lost, but the power behind Time is immeasurable and the effects are countless. To choose what effect is most noteworthy I believe depends on the situation, and in this situation one effect of Time is maturity. Well, maybe maturity is not the perfect word as I associate “mature” with growing up, and that, I will never completely accomplish, but in so many other ways I have grown. I’ve grown a little wiser, a little older, a little more experienced and a lot more confident, and all of it took Time.

I remember my first blog post. I was so scared to push the publish button I think I read and edited over a five-day period for a two paragraph post. I couldn’t believe I’d actually consider putting my thoughts, feelings and words out there for everyone to read. I couldn’t believe I would actually think anyone would even care what I had to say. I couldn’t believe me, Lisa, would actually take a chance to do something that in my mind could make or break me. (I was pretty dramatic). As crazy as that may sound, at points in my life, there were times I was afraid to tell myself how I felt, let alone the world-wide web. I was the girl who was afraid to call the pizza delivery guy, or go back to the store for a refund if something didn’t fit, or make a decision that I didn’t get approved by seven different people. Yeah that was definitely me. Thankfully, I eventually did get over the fear at hand and pushed the button, however this only added to my already insane anxiety.

What now? What if people don’t like what I had to say, what if people were offended or didn’t agree with me, what if, what if, what if. That very question plagued my dreams. I was so afraid of not being validated that I would refresh my dashboard every few minutes and stare at the hour-glass waiting for a comment or a “like”. To my selfish, inexperienced surprise, that validation did not come like I believed it should, and I fell into a sense of inability and failure. Don’t get me wrong, people would comment and feedback was positive, but it seemed like it was never enough for me and after a while, and not much effort, I quit writing. Such a shame because I read some of my posts and they are not bad if I might say so, but more importantly, I gave up on a dream, even if it would only be that, a dream, I gave up. I was a coward and pretty selfish too, which now brings me to my point.

Time has passed, as it does, and just recently after reading a book by John Greene did I realize how much I missed writing, which realization brought me back here. Back to the place that I feared, but also the place I thought I was going to awe people and change their thoughts and touch their lives. I told you I was pretty dramatic (and a little dorky). And now, although I can still be the dramatic dork, Time has made me a matured one and more significantly a more confident one.

So here I am again. How I’ve missed seeing my words on paper or my chaotic thoughts strewn out in a way that they begin to make sense. I’ve forgotten how addictive and therapeutic it is all wrapped up in one. This time though, as much as I would love to awe people, I write for me, because when I write for me I don’t need that validation I believed I had to have, I don’t need hundreds of likes or comments, I just need my thoughts, my feelings and my words. If along the way someone connects with the words they read here that would be amazing, but if not, that’s okay too, because the lesson I learned in Time is that quitting is never the answer.

In conclusion, I’ve learned to appreciate what Time has given me and as happy as I am to be back, the best part is that Me is a little more logical, a little less selfish, a little more realistic, a little less dramatic and a lot more full of faith, which ironically is just like Time – untouchable yet profound.

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Be Inspired!

After having a bad week, yesterday the negative emotions and “the feel sorry for me” path I was on came to an abrupt  halt and completely changed direction.  It’s pretty incredible how just one picture can alter your perspective about what it really means to be challenged and to overcome.  After seeing the below my problems now seem so utterly small.  What an inspiration and what a smile!! 

 

There is a fine line between being grateful and fighting for what you believe.  This struggle can be an internal battle that can take you to places you never thought possible or bring out the strength you never thought existed and to achieve the balance may seem improbable, but as you can see anything is possible.   

 The following was shared a few weeks ago and it seems pretty appropriate…

 “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it .”

Tyler-ism

My 5 year old son comes up with some of the funniest, sweetest and out of this world comments, statements and arguments so I thought I’d share.

After my mom mopped the floor with Pinesol one day, my son came running in the room, stopped mid-tracks and exclaimed..

“Oh, what is that wonderful smell?”

A couple weeks later, he walked into a meeting room and spotted an oil painting and in surprise asked…

“Awww wats dat, Carri, a beautiful paintin’?”

I love the use of adjectives!!

Just Poppin In on Your TV Screen!!

I have neglected this blog a little because its so easy to write about my furry friends, but I learned some awesome news about our blonde friends!! Mandy and Carly the creators of Just Pop In (http://www.justpopinonline.com/) located in Indianapolis (who I wrote about for one of my very first posts) informed us today that they were on Ellen live on Wednesday!

Holy crap!! That was my first reaction! If you haven’t read their story check it out because its pretty amazing.  To make it easy just click on Just Pop In to the right of this post under “Links”.  We are so proud of them and I thought it appropriate to tell their story once again with a little extras. 

After quitting their jobs weeks apart, Mandy and Carly started a small store front with the idea of poppin’ corn. Really? Popcorn? Who knew?  Since 2003 they have gone from a little store front in Broadripple to a location in the Indianapolis airport and yet another location in Indy sharing space with another spectacular idea that Mandy dreamed up.  Night Owl Baby. 

As they spread the love all over Indy  their locations have almost doubled, their charity to the AIDS foundations have been recognized, they have seen their faces and their stories in Indianapolis Monthly on multiple occasions and they are an official sponsor for Izod, which brings me to Ellen.  As a sponsor, in the last week they have traveled (apparently we can now officially call them international (well national) business women) to California for the Long Beach race.  In the process of their sponsorship and their promotion of Just Pop In, they Popped into a live taping of the Ellen show and actually made an appearance.  We don’t know the details but it was too cool not to talk about. 

Two local girls (who partied their way through college-don’t tell them I said that) taking a chance with a shared idea gives the rest of us hope for dreams to come true.  Congratulations Carly and Mandy-have fun in Cali and we WON’T 😉 think about you as it rains and is 40 degrees out here!!

(Pictures from “Just Pop In” and “Night Owl Baby”)