Love on the Beach

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It was pure magic.

About a month ago, my husband, two daughters, and I arrived on the beautiful island of Maui. After settling into our condo, we explored the resort and headed toward the beach. It was close to sunset, and we wanted to watch the sun slip behind the ocean. The short boardwalk led us directly to the sand.

We stopped close to the shore where the waves were lapping. It was a bit cloudy, which made for a gorgeous sunset. There weren’t many people there. It was so peaceful.

I focused on the tranquil ocean and breathed in the warm, tropical air. I was lost in my thoughts. That’s when my I felt my husband nudge me.

“Jen, look.” Alex pointed to the shorebreak. He got Mackenzie and Talee’s attention too. We stared at what was unfolding in front of us.

There was a woman with her feet in the water. A man stood next to her. Five to ten people, who seemed to know each other, were nearby. One lady was taking pictures of the couple and the sunset.

I was clueless to what was about to happen.

All of a sudden, the man went down on one knee, in the water. He looked up at the woman, took her hand, and spoke to her.

Oh my gosh, he’s proposing! Right here, right in front of us!

We watched as he opened a small box, took out a ring, and slipped it on her finger. Her hands were shaking. She wiped away tears and stared at her hand. They hugged. And hugged again. Her squeals of excitement were heartwarming.

The newly engaged couple turned and saw their loved ones, who had witnessed the momentous event. Hugs, kisses, and congratulations were passed all around. The bystanders, including us, clapped and cheered.

I’ll never forget how the man beamed when he announced, “She said YES!”

It was beautiful. We felt honored to be a part of their engagement. Strangers, yet bonded by this special occasion. A moment in time they’ll cherish forever. They don’t know it, but we will too.

We wish them the happiest life together.

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Decisions, Decisions

Life is filled with choices. Big or small, they all have the ability to impact us.

I’ve heard people say, “He’s so lucky.” Or, “Everything great comes her way.” Even though good fortune may play a small part, it’s hard work and perseverance that takes on a much bigger role. Goals don’t magically happen overnight. They aren’t reached through pure luck.

I read a post by Danny at Dream Big Dream Often, that inspired me to think about this. You can find his thought-provoking piece here. He talks about how he’s been fortunate in his life through hard work, commitment, and a strong character.

I’ve also been fortunate and feel blessed. I have a solid, wonderful marriage. Our daughters are happy and have become amazing young adults.

Maybe on the surface, it appears as if it’s always been easy for me. But it hasn’t. Many people don’t notice the hardships I’ve endured. They may not realize the dedication, time, and effort I’ve put in to get to where I want to be.

For instance, a great marriage doesn’t just happen. It requires much communication, compromise, patience, and understanding. Raising children to have morals, compassion, and a strong work ethic isn’t a simple task.

My life is a compilation of all the decisions I’ve made along the way, and continue to make.

Choices help shape the people we become. Our decisions help determine if we live a fulfilling, happy life–or not. Along our journeys, we decide:

Who our friends are.

Which college to attend, or not.

Which career to pursue.

Who, and if, we marry.

To stay in a relationship or not.

Where to live.

How many children to have.

How often to exercise.

What to eat and drink.

How much money to spend on cars, clothes, and houses.

To procrastinate or not.

The list goes on and on. But when we come to a fork in the road, each one of these can affect us and those around us.

I tell my daughters, “Remember to make wise decisions!”

I often remind myself of that too.

 

 

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

Playing in the Sand

 

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A few weeks ago my family and I had an amazing vacation in Hawaii. We spent much of our time strolling along the white sand beaches of Maui. The water near the shore is crystal clear. Shades of aquamarine, turquoise, and deep blue spread out into the ocean. It’s pure bliss to jump into the warm sea and bob in the soft waves. Total relaxation.

Mackenzie, Talee, and I took a walk one morning. We wrote in the sand, making pictures of happy faces and hearts. I wanted to write “Peace from Panic.” So I did. The waves kept coming too close, washing it away. And honestly, I wasn’t doing a great job.

That’s when Talee took over.

The above picture is Talee putting the finishing touches on. I posted this photo with her permission.

By the time we (she) finished, we were super hot and sweaty. It was unseasonably warm that day, with no trade winds. So, what to do?

Jump in the ocean to cool off!

Here’s Talee’s finished product:

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We’re In This Together

Last week I attended a class presented by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  The twelve-week course, called Family to Family, is designed to help family members of someone living with a mental health condition.

I’m taking the course because my daughter and I have experienced panic attacks. I volunteer with NAMI and want to gain a better understanding of the programs they offer.

There was a mix of parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents, and other family members in attendance. They’re desperate for help, desperate for answers. Their loved ones have different mental health issues. Bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and others.

One of the topics was how stigma affects us. Some shared how they’ve hidden their loved one’s problems and how they try to pretend the issues don’t exist. Because of the stigma attached to mental illness. Shame and embarrassment seem to affect us all.

As people spoke about their challenges, I noticed a common thread.

Their outward appearances didn’t hint to the deep turmoil in their lives. If I weren’t in that room with them, I’d never know they carried around so much pain.

I kept thinking how these men and women are in my community. If I met any one of them in the grocery store, out for a walk, or at a sporting event, I’d be oblivious to the suffering they endure.

However, I was just about to find out that I actually did know one of them.

As I looked around the room, one man looked familiar. But I couldn’t place where I’d seen him. During the break, he came up to me and introduced himself. Oh, of course, I know you. He’s a business acquaintance of mine and my husband’s. I’ve always thought of him as calm, happy, and easy-going. I’d never guess he’d been having severe challenges with a family member.

The thing is — we just never know. And all the more reason to be compassionate.

This meeting reinforced the fact that we’re not alone. Everyone has difficulties. And there’s comfort in knowing we’re in this together.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

 

 

Happy Things

The first time I heard this quote, my girls were very young. My mom printed it out and framed it for me. It’s been on my desk ever since. It reminds me to take notice of the joys in life, both big and small. To embrace them.

My nephew and his wife had their third baby last week. I visited them in the hospital with my husband and our 21-year-old daughter, Talee. My great niece was two-days-old. She’s healthy, beautiful, perfect. Her cry is sweet. Her tiny hands and feet are precious.Her whole life is ahead of her, waiting for her to discover it.

When I held her, it reminded me of holding my two lovely babies. My husband held her, and I had flashbacks of him with our newborns. Talee held her, and I could easily see her becoming a mom.

Moments that take my breath away. Pure happiness.

Last week, Lulu of The Real Adventures of Becoming Me, nominated me for the Happiness Tag Challenge. Lulu is one of my oldest blogging friends. She’s amazing! Please visit her beautiful blog. I always appreciate her wonderful insight and inspiration. Thank you Lulu!

Five things that make me happy:

  1. Being with my family. I’m so excited because we leave tomorrow on a family vacation. We’re super close, and I’m very grateful for that. My parents live near us, so I see them often. I love to cook for everyone, and sit around the table eating, laughing, and sharing stories.
  2. The Fall. My favorite season is almost here! Cooler weather, boots, scarves, the fireplace on, football games, pumpkin lattes. Yay!
  3. Baking chocolate chip cookies for my husband. This is his favorite dessert, and it makes me happy to make him happy.
  4. Taking long walks in the mountains. It feels great to take a break from my busy life and go for a hike. I take deep breaths and can feel the stress leave my body. Being in nature reminds me to slow down.
  5. Writing. It’s therapeutic to put my thoughts on paper (or on the computer).  I never thought I’d love blogging as much as I do. Sometimes I start a story and it ends up taking a much different turn than I intended. And that’s fun. It gives my mind a chance to wander and to record my feelings.

Five songs that make me happy:

It’s hard to pick just a few. But here are some of my favorites…

  1. “Good to Be Alive” by Andy Grammer
  2. “Halo” by Beyonce
  3. “Freckles” by Natasha Bedingfield
  4. “H.O.L.Y” by Florida Georgia Line
  5. “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera

True happiness needs to be passed on! I nominate the following bloggers (whose writing often brings me much gratitude and joy) to continue the happiness tag by writing about five things that make them happy and five songs that stir happiness in their hearts.

Happiness Tags:

Lori at Lori Greer in Portland

B.G. at Getting Through Anxiety

Tikeetha at A Thomas Point of View

Jen at The Anxiety Chronicles

itsgoodtobecrazysometimes at My Crazy Life

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Second image courtesy of here