Twenty days ago, my sister wrote a beautiful blog post for me on my birthday. Although I can’t hope to write as humorously (see number 2) or eloquently (see number 5) as she, today is her birthday, and I wanted to share with you the reasons why I look up to my “little” sistah:
1. She challenges me: I was twelve and she was nine when we went on our first ski trip. We weren’t the sportiest kids, but somehow our Austrian genes kicked in and soon we were snowplowing down the exceptionally gentle bunny hill. The ski lifts, however, continued to terrify us, especially unloading from the lift, when we had to skid down that short, icy hill. My coping strategy was to preemptively crouch as low as possible on my skis, bum skimming the snow, until I was safely on even ground. ...until my little sis decided to zip down, STANDING UP on her skis. What?! On the next run, I was determined that if my nine-year-old sister could manage to get off the ski lift without wiping out, so could I. Without my sister there to challenge and push me to take risks and grow, I am certain I would be in a very different place today.
2. She’s funny: My sister has mentioned in previous posts that our Austrian grandmother referred to her as the family clown. This was an endearing term – I think my sister reminded Grossmama of her fun-loving Uncle Karl, whom she adored. What my sister didn’t mention was that we didn’t speak a common language with Grossmama when my sister first earned her title. My grandma knew my sister was funny, and they didn’t even speak the same language!
3. She’s intelligent: In high school, my sister and I had a phenomenal history teacher who challenged his students to question and think critically about the world. As part of one of his trademark assignments, he told the story of a man who was to be executed in a revolution. This man wrote a letter to his unborn son, leaving him with one word by which he hoped that his son would live his life. Our assignment was to choose one word and write a letter as if we were this man, writing to his son. It wasn’t supposed to be a guessing game, but I remember trying to figure out what my teacher would want to hear, and being mildly disappointed with a mediocre grade on the assignment. Three years later, my sister was in the same class. Her paper received the highest grade possible. While I was busy trying to figure out what my teacher wanted me to think, my sister really thought about the assignment and wrote a beautiful, heart-felt letter.
4. She has a successful career: I see it in the way her two-year-old asks, “Would you play with me, please?” I see it in the way she pulls aside a whining four-year-old and whispers something in her ear. The whispers are greeted with a pout and a huff…and acceptance. I see it in my nieces’ tea parties, their “guessing games” in the car, their silly versions of “The Wheels on the Bus.” As a mom, my sister has the most challenging and important career that exists; she is a wonderful mom and is raising two amazing little girls.
5. She’s brave: The fact that these, my words, will soon be published on the internet for all to read is intimidating enough for me. My sister not only publishes her words on a weekly basis, but shares her deepest struggles and fears. Despite a growing awareness of depression, many people who share that they are struggling with depression experience judgment or rejection. My sister’s courage in sharing her perspective gives a voice to the millions of people who live with depression, ultimately contributing to acceptance and understanding.
Sistah, I love you more than I could ever express. I hope that you know how much I admire you. Whatever happens in life, I will always be here for you. Happy birthday!
Elisabeth, thank you for the wonderfully sweet post. I love you and am thankful every day to have you as my sister.
My birthday is this week. And if I could have just one wish it would be for everyone to have more love. To feel more love, to express more love, to just be love.
I wish that there was less hate and anger and more love. Less indifference and hypocrisy and more love. That we could look at each other and see the good and love inside. That we could forgive more quickly, assume the best more readily, and love more easily.
And as I wish this, I wonder, is it harder to love, or to be love? Is the verb to love easier than the noun to be love? Because I know that as much as I love certain people, man, sometimes it is hard to act lovingly toward them. But then I also think the act of love is a bit easier than to be love, because if I am love than I will, of course, act lovingly.
To be love, is to give love. And to be love, means to give love to everyone, not just to people I think "deserve" that love.
If the world was love, peace would fall into place. If we are love it is our natural tendency to help more, to give more, to see the good more, to sacrifice more, to care about others more.
I wish for love. For you, for me, for my neighbor, for the crabby guy in the Starbucks line, for the driver who cut me off. For the world.
xoxo, Christine Also, my sister wrote a beautiful guest post for my birthday on Thursday. Please be sure to come back and check it out. Linking up withShell.
I was sad saying goodbye, even though I know it will only be two days until I see them again. But my heartstrings, they were still tugged, not so much for them, but for me.
I know they will be fine. In fact, I know they will have much for fun laughing and playing with their Grammy and Grampy and cousins than they would waking up early Sunday morning to hover in the cold, watching people run by, waiting for daddy for the ten seconds we might actually see him. I know Adam will have a better run without them there the night before keeping us awake, without them causing his sleep to be interrupted or lessened. And I know I will have an easier time, because there will be less to pack, less to take, less to worry about or watch for or take take care of.
But, oh, I miss them. This is the first time they've been away from both of us at the same time for more than one night.
I am a bit taken aback, because Mommy sure doesn't mind having some time out with friends, time to be distracted, to have a dinner out without worrying about two kids getting bored, to have a morning to sleep in with her husband. But I guess I'm also not surprised, because Mommy also misses them when they're away, even for one night. And this is two nights. Two whole nights.
We will all be fine. The girls will have fun. Adam will have fun. I will have fun. I know this. I know that when I pick them up I will feel excited and refreshed and even have some extra patience after a weekend apart. It is good things. It is all good things.
I am not the same person I was before kids. In fact, the person I am today, isn't even the same person I was after having my first baby. Being a parent has brought so many changes and opportunities for growth. Some changes are fast and quick and go by unnoticed by me. Others are slow, maybe even difficult, a process of learning and relearning.
Today I am honored to be over at Raising Humans. Please come over to read one way I've found myself growing since having kids. Tricia is a beautiful soul, a mother (who just happens to be due with her second, right this very week, so be sure to wish her happy laboring, soon), someone who I am happy to have found through this world of blogging. Be sure to check her out.
And thank you, Tricia, for giving me this opportunity. To be a part of your space. To take a moment to really think about some of the ways I have grown and changed since having my girls.
The early morning stillness is broken by the alarm. The talk-radio he so likes pulls me out of my sleep into a semi-conscious state of dreams. When he gets up my body rolls over, eager to feel the remainder of his warmth, to breath in the air on his pillow. And when he comes to kiss me goodbye, I smile, knowing that he is mine, that I am his, that we are ours.
Sunday will mark six years of marriage for my husband and I. My mind plays dreamy scenes of the day, sunny but brisk, a day full of smiles and tears, laughter, and most of all love. How even with the hundreds of photos snapped not one smile felt forced or fake. The feel of his hand in mine, the newness of the ring on his finger.
The certainty I felt that day as I looked down the aisle at him waiting for me. The certainty I still feel today.
He is many things to me, my husband. A sweet and giddy crush, an honest and caring man, a support for all my ups and downs, a loving and involved father, a faithful and giving husband. The life I share with him is not something I could ever have dreamed up, the rightness of it all, the way we fit together our two lives into one.
And every day, every morning, is a reminder that what we have together, our life, with each other and with our girls, is exactly where we are supposed to be. From that chance meeting ten years ago, to our wedding six years ago, to today.
I am eleven-years-old. It is early fall in the Midwest. Cool enough for jeans and and sweatshirt, but warm enough to be outside. I leave the school playground with my head held high, but as I shuffle home in my Keds, I don't stop the tears. And when I finally make it home, with my blotchy, red, face, she is there. With tissues and hugs she listens, and with the advice that only a big sister can give, we get out our tennis rackets and start banging balls as hard as we can, pretending that they are the heads of those mean girls.
My sister. She has been a guiding light since my birth. When I am weathering the stormy seas, she is a lighthouse that brings me back safely to shore. And on the rare occasion we brewed our own storm, she'd ride it out like a wise fisherman, until the waters died down and we could row back to safety, together.
There is no one who knows me like my sister does. We are linked by our common blood, by our sixteen years of living under one roof, by our thirty plus years of shared experiences, by our spirits that feel missing pieces when we're apart and sing whole again when we're together.
And even though we are equals, even though she is my sister and friend and a light of my spirit, I will always look up to her.
She will always be my Big Sister. Someone I want to make proud, someone I want to understand me.
Happy Birthday, Elisabeth. To a piece of my heart and a piece of my soul.
I feel like October (now that it's October, by the way, how did that happen?) is the unofficial start to my Happiness Revival. Except that all I'm really doing is reading books, maybe jotting down a few ideas, and making half-hearted attempts to come up with some resolutions. I kinda feel like I should have a major plan and be implementing it right now.
I used to be fun. I used to be light hearted and silly and just... fun. In middle school a couple friends and I tried to sell baby carrots door-to-door. Just to be goofy. In high school I used to drive around town and take random pictures with friends: wearing big hats and sunglasses in Target, pretending to ride the little cow by Dairy Queen, posing crazy in front of corn fields. A friend and I walked neighborhoods making up off-the-wall backgrounds about the home owners.
I used to run and skip and dance. I use to laugh and sing. When I was a little girl I had stories in my head that would go on for days. My imagination was in constant motion, I was brimming with adventure.
And now I feel so unadventurous, so un-silly, so un-fun. Maybe part of it all is just the disappearance of childhood. The innocence and ease and carefree moments of being a child slip away as we grow older. It's harder to hold on to all those qualities as age and maturity and life happen. But I want to find those qualities again. I'm going to find those qualities again.
It's just, being a fun person feels so hard some times. It takes so much energy. Energy I don't have. Or, I tell myself I don't have it and then I'm like a self-fulfilling prophecy because where is my energy going to come from if I'm constantly reminding myself how tired I am and how little energy I have.
Perhaps it's time to adopt a different mindset. (I know, this is only occurring to me now? Really?) I hate to admit it but sometimes all I have to do is act the way I want to be, and it helps me actually feel that way. At least, to a certain degree.
My sister and I used to both be very reserved and quiet people. She admitted to me once that she wanted to change that about herself, so she started to just act like she was more outgoing than she really felt. The result? It stopped becoming an act, and became her true self. She is now a less reserved person.
Her experience is my lesson. If I want to have more energy, start by pretending I have more energy. If I want to feel happier, start by acting happier. It may not be the exact answer, but it's a start. And if I want to revive my spirit to it's former happiness, I've got to start somewhere.
This morning before the sun was up, before my husband was even gone for work, I was awake in bed. In my bed, snuggled under the covers, debating whether falling back asleep was a good or bad idea. Usually I don't debate I just do, because getting more sleep is never a bad thing except that when it's time to wake up again I have that whole oh-my-goodness-it-is-so-hard-to-get-up painful feeling all over again.
While I was debating, my children made my decision for me, one by her tiptoes in the hall and the other by her groggy I wanna go in Mommy's bed! calls from her crib. And we spent a good part of the darkness just laying together and giggling and singing. When each girl put a head on my shoulder, squeezed me tight, and said, Mommy, I love you my MommaHeart grew ten sizes bigger.
But even tucked between whispers and stories and morning smiles, my mind was already planning for tonight because oh how I'm not a morning person and oh how I love my bed. And getting up before the sun is never enough sleep for this tired mama.
And yet, with every intention of going to bed at nine thirty, with a husband who actually did go to bed at nine thirty, here I sit awake. I'm not sure why, even with my resolutions for more sleep, with my tired eyes and mind, why I can't stop what I'm doing and make my bed a priority in the evening. It's like I can't give up hearing the quiet.
After the girls are asleep and the television is off, the quiet feels so good and so needed it's like I can't break away. The day is filled with much noise, and how wonderful that noise is because it means kids and happiness and vibrance and life. But sometimes my mind just craves the renewal that only can come from some quiet.
And then I realize that sleep is sometimes better than a quiet renewal because sleep means renewal and more patience. This body of mine, so wired for sleep, unable to function at it's best with the minimal recommendations, can get the quiet it so seeks in the comfort of bed.
But man, some nights it's just hard to get there.
(And if I go to bed now it's only an hour after my goal. That's not too bad.)
I am working on exploring my happiness. Specifically, how to find mine, or have more of it. Depression aside (because that is a whole other thing), I don't think I'm necessarily unhappy, but I also don't think I'm a very happy person either. In fact, as much as I don't want to admit it, I probably fall more closely to unhappy. Some how I have become heavy and serious.
So, I want to live to my full happiness potential. I have been reading books like Happy Yoga by Steve Ross, as well as Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project. On my list next: also by Gretchen Rubin, Happier at Home and Brene Brown's Daring Greatly. I am still in the very beginning steps of my process, but I am excited. I know that I can be a happier, lighter, more contented person. I want to start living life like the gift that it is. To appreciate each little day.
To start Rubin suggests answering these questions:
What makes you feel good? What activities do you find fun, satisfying, or energizing?
What makes you feel bad? What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life?
I'm not entirely sure yet, if I'm going to go about this process similar to her Happiness Project or not, but I feel like these questions are a good place to start. That, and going through and doing a deep de-cluttering of our home. How better to feel lighter than to get rid of some of the weight in our home?
Within the past week or so the major declutter has begun, with minor areas like the girls' art box, our bedside table, and the girls' top dresser drawer. It's not much, but I'm feeling good about the progress already.
I love the life that I have with the girls and my husband, now I just want to be able to feel I am enjoying this life the best that I can.