Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Positivity Bubble {SOL 7.28.16}

"Mom, I need help."

My daughter's voice came through loud and clear on the bluetooth speaker in my car. My stomach dropped. This was not the phone call I usually received from her.

"What's wrong?" I asked, ready to whip the car around to go rescue her from whatever tragedy she faced.

"My positivity bubble is bursting."

I released the breath I didn't realize I was holding. Thank goodness. 

I kept driving.

"Everyone here at work is in such a bad mood. I got yelled at twice already and I don't even know what I did. I'm trying to be positive, but it's just so hard when everyone is so....crabby."

My daughter is a cashier at a local store. It hasn't been easy going for her. There has been a lot of turn over (two people quit the day she called me) and despite the store manager's call for 'positive teamwork', there hasn't been much of that.

"Well..." I began giving my daughter some of my positive words of wisdom:  The only person you can control is yourself; Find something good and focus on that; It's 90 degrees out and everyone is a bit cranky; and finally -- Remember that you are making $100 for working today. (The money one would surely stick with her.)

We chatted for a few more minutes, her spirit uplifted a bit, and she went back to work.

I pondered a few things as we drove on:

1. My daughter reached out to me in her time of distress. I am grateful that she feels that she can do this. I am grateful for our continued closeness, even into her late teenage years.

2. My positive outlook has apparently rubbed off some on her. She's been listening.

3. She recognizes how important attitude is to creating your reality and how your attitude affects others. She was trying to be positive and upbeat, but everyone's "crabbiness" was making it difficult. Maybe (maybe!) she will remember this when she is in a crabby mood.

She came home from work that night in a pretty good mood. Apparently, she was able to re-inflate her positivity bubble.

Thank goodness.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stepping Out {SOL 6-21-16}

I have a fear of heights.

Always have.

This fear has kept me off rollercoasters, deterred me from becoming an astronaut, and helped me avoid taking rides on winding roads that snake around mountains. (Luckily, there aren't any mountains in southeastern Wisconsin.)

Recently, my family took a day trip to Chicago. Hannah wanted to go to the top of the Willis Tower.

You may know that the Willis Tower is one of the tallest buildings in the world. It is a part of the iconic Chicago skyline, often the first thing you see as you drive toward the city. At the top of the tower is an observation deck where on a clear day, you can see four states.

A few years ago someone got the brilliant idea to put glass ledges on the observation deck so visitors could step out and over the city.

"You'll never catch me doing that," I said when I heard about this high-flying new addition.

I should have never said 'never'.

We boarded the elevator for our 60 second ride up the 1,353 feet to the observation deck. After circling around the observation deck and looking at the city from every direction, it was time to get in line to step out onto the ledge.

"Mom, are you going to do it?" my daughter asked.

I looked ahead in line at the people already on the ledge. They made it look like no big deal.

Maybe I could do this....

"Sure," I told her. I reminded myself of Eleanor Roosevelt's famous quote: "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

Our time in line came and we all stepped out onto the ledge. It was a rainy, dreary day, but the view was still pretty amazing. I looked around -- and down -- and was surprised that I felt no fear.  We snapped a few pictures then moved along for the next people who were patiently waiting in line to have their turn.

So I did it! I faced my fear of heights and prevailed!!

Who knows...maybe next week I'll start applying to astronaut school. 

But rollercoasters are still out of the question.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lessons {Celebrate This Week 6-18-16}

Many of you know that my family hosted an exchange student for the past school year. While Hannah came to America from Germany to learn about American life, there were many things I realized she taught us as well in her short time here.

I have really good kids.  This one I already knew, but Hannah just reinforced it. My daughter and son are fairly well grounded and some of the advice I heard them give Hannah made this momma's heart proud.

I CAN share my space. One of the things I feared in taking in a student for the entire year was having to have another person around the house, getting in my space. I'm one of those 'I like it the way I like it" people. I like falling asleep on the sofa at 7:30 some nights, eating pancakes for dinner, and doing laundry on Saturdays. Another person around here might complicate things. Thankfully, it didn't. We were all able to coexist.

Our family has some pretty cool traditions. Be it family dinners on Sundays with the grandparents, singing "Let It Go" when arguing begins, or giving everyone nicknames (Hannah became known as HB, short for Hannah Banana), Hannah reminded us that these things are not 'usual', but that she loved them. I found it to be a huge compliment when I was singing my good morning to her one day and she commented that her mother would never sing.

There is always something to discover. Hannah had never had grilled cheese. When I took her to the Cheeseapalooza Festival in Kenosha (yes, there is such a thing), she fell in love with these sandwiches. Who knew? Having Hannah here encouraged our family to go new places and try new things too.

My heart has an endless capacity for love. Hannah quickly became part of our family. She became a sister to my kids (without the bickering and the need to sing "Let It Go.") and I swelled with pride at her many successes at school, like when the band director took time at the final spring concert to talk about Hannah and how much he enjoyed having her in the band. Hannah became a daughter to me. It was very difficult to send her home.

Would I have known all of these things if we never had Hannah stay with us?


But it wouldn't have been as much fun.

For this, I celebrate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hannah {SOL 6-14-16}

In August of last year, Hannah, an exchange student from Germany, moved into our guest room for the upcoming school year.

I was a bit hesitant to take on a student for the entire year. I'm the kind of person who likes my space and adding one more person's schedule to our already crazy family routine might not work.

We had hosted two students before, but only for three weeks each.

One student, Cecile from France, was amazing.  She was willing to try anything and so appreciative of every experience. Three weeks with her was not enough.

The second student, Marina from Spain, was absolutely horrible. She was afraid of our dogs and pretty much expected to be waited on while she was here.

Not. gonna. happen.

When we got the call asking us to host Hannah, I was very cautious. I feared we would end up with another Marina and then be 'stuck' with her all year.

I poured over Hannah's application, looking for signs of trouble.

Hannah was the oldest of three kids and the same age as my daughter. She played the flute and loved to read. She said she was "good at helping other people solve their problems" and "a good listener."

All of these qualities seemed to make Hannah a perfect fit for us.  I said "yes."

I'm so thankful that I did.

Hannah left us this past Saturday to return to Germany.  It was a long, tearful, heartbreaking goodbye. Over the past 10 months, we all came to love Hannah as if she were one of our own.

Hannah and my daughter became as close as sisters, which made this past week with its windup to the goodbye that much more difficult. Hannah had a five hour layover in Chicago and they spent it on Facetime with each other. My heart broke as I watched each of them let go.

When Hannah got here last August, she said she felt extremely lucky to be chosen by us.

Turns out, we were the lucky ones.

We will miss you, Hannah Banana.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

By Doing What You Love {Positive Thinking Thursday 6.9.16}

If you are reading this, there's a good chance that I was thinking of you when I saw this quote.

Thank you for doing what you love.

It inspires me, teaches me, and motivates me every day.

As we begin our summer stretch, remember to stay in touch and continue to share your passions with others. Whether this be the books you read, the things you learn, or the adventures you take, following your passions and sharing them with others is important.

You never know who needs to read your words.

You never know who is waiting for the inspiration that you deliver.

You never know if there's a connection waiting to happen.

You never know.

Have a Positive Thinking Thursday thought to share? 
Leave your link in the comments below!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How is It? {SOL 6.07.16}

How is it that the days are long, but the years are short?

How is it that it seems like just yesterday that I followed the school bus on the first day of kindergarten, but now you drove yourself to your graduation?

How is it that I used to tuck you into bed at night, but now I am often asleep before you even get home?

How is it that I used to give you a weekly allowance, but now you are working two jobs to save up money for college?

How is it that you used to have to stand on a stool to brush your teeth, but now you tower over me at well above 6'?

How is it that I once knew where you were every second of the day, but now you stay in touch via text messages from time to time?

How is it that I loved you so much on the day you were born, but now love you more than I ever imagined possible?

How is it?