I am one lucky momma. This weekend I had the luxury of taking Katharine (my now 5 3/4 year old – that 3/4 is very important to her) for her first girls weekend. I was coming off a very busy week at work (fall budgeting, executive retreat in Southern Utah). The prompting of the girls weekend location (Seattle) was because I had a business committment there on Friday morning. A few weeks ago, as we were planning for this busy week, I was lamenting being gone out of town from Jon and the kids for 4 of the 5 weeknights. So, we decided it was a great time for the first of what will hopefully be many girls weekends (and boys weekends with Matthew and Jon) so Katharine joined me on my business trip. Given the Seattle destination (Hilary – my sister – and her family live there), it also gave us a great excuse to see them and let our three girls play together.
As the week progressed, and I arrived home from my first business trip to the Executive Retreat at 8pm on Wednesday night having worked about 40-45 hours in three days, I was lamenting leaving again on Thursday even though it was both a work and fun trip. I was just tired. I unpacked and repacked that evening, snuggled Matthew and crashed, trying to keep the faith that I could do it.
So, Thursday at work, Jon brought Katharine down to drop her off and we headed to the airport. My energy had picked up, and seeing her excitement helped me over the hump to leave again. The smile on her face when she come running into my office and how tightly she held my hand as we walked through the airport will be two memories that I will never forget.
After I got through my work commitment on Friday morning, I met Hilary and Katharine for a lunch date and we took on the town. Katharine had three things on her list: 1) Put her gum on the gum wall in Seattle; 2) See the fish fly at Pike’s Place Market; and 3) Get her nails done. Despite only an afternoon, we did it. On my list: A nap. I didn’t get to mine, but the excitement of seeing Katharine take in the sites, sounds and smells of the city for the first time made it worth it.
As we bombed around Seattle, I got lots of “I love you” squeezes on my hand and heard a lot of singing out of Katharine (she sings when she is happy). And, I forgot that I was tired. Life is busy, and often times the whirwind makes me not live in each moment. On what was my most tiring work weeks in awhile, I am so happy that I didn’t allow being tired to take away from this priceless time with my little one. Cheers to many more girls weekends little K.
Sometimes during the tantrums, the sibling fights over toys, and during the crazy schedule I try to run, I can forget the joy of what I have in front of me. This weekend when we were out to brunch with Matthew, I captured Matthew at his finest. He is kind, energetic, inquisitive (what’s that mom?), and loving. His eyes tell stories and he makes me smile.
This last week at work I had the opportunity to hear Chris Williams speak of his personal story of letting go. He lost his wife and two children to a drunk driving accident almost ten years ago. He spoke of forgiveness and moving forward with his life. It was an unforgettable moment for me to listen to his story. His humbleness, quiet power and gratefulness for the life he has lived helped me to take a deep breath. How many times do I harbor anger for something that has happened to me? How many times have I carried this frustration throughout my days, letting it inadvertently control me? Chris framed forgiveness as a selfish act, saying that the act of letting go helped him to move forward. Wow. What a powerful thing to remember when things don’t go as I want them to go. Here is to hoping that I never have to face something as tragic as Chris to learn this.
For now, I am grateful for the moments. This weekend we enjoyed so much fun together…skiing together, playing pretend together, building castles and jails for Matthew’s infamous “mean guy” together, and snuggling as a family of four squeezed into our queen-sized bed. Sometimes life seems hard, sometimes I have no energy, but always I feel lucky. Lucky to have this little Matthew in my life, lucky that Katharine is his big sister, and incredibly blessed to have Jon to share it with me.
I began writing this post on Thanksgiving Day as I was feeling I needed to have the obligatory “I am thankful for…” post on the blog. It was rough. Although I am thankful for so many things, what I found myself doing was writing what I thought I should write versus the things that were on my mind. The original intention of this blog was to write from my heart and my head, and not to write what I thought people wanted to hear or what I “should” write. So, for that day and for the last week or so, I stopped writing.
Once I lived through this writing crisis, I became increasingly more skeptical. All of the “Thank You” messages that I saw in my Facebook feed and of all of the articles I was reading on other blogs about thankfulness didn’t seem authentic. I wondered if those were real thoughts from people or if they were just posting/writing about what they thought they should say much like I had been about to do. So much of our world today is about broadcasting our social “status.” Therefore, how much are people broadcasting thankfulness versus being truly thankful?
Tonight, I am a little less skeptical. I have decided that this broadcasting of thankfulness is a good thing. We all have a lot going on in our lives every day and night. Our brains can get filled with worry, stress, to-do lists, work, family and so much more. Being thankful requires a purposeful direction or redirection of these thoughts and energy toward celebrating the good in our lives. By being purposeful, does that mean it is isn’t real? I don’t think so. The forced thought, and ultimately broadcasting of these thoughts, helps to move my mental energy toward what is good in my life and away from what may be dragging me down.
As a way to direct my thoughts toward thankfulness, I will start another category on this blog describing things in my life that I am thankful for. Look for this, coming soon!
Time with my girlfriends is what my soul needed this weekend. I was able to sneak away from Park City to Denver to meet my sister (Hilary) and one of my best friends (Laurian). It had been about 18 months since our last girls weekend and probably months since I had time for longer than a 5 minute conversation with either of these ladies. Life just seems to get in the way on a daily basis. That said, it is amazing that despite this, girlfriends just pick up where we left off. There is a lot of life to catch up on, but it always feels like it was just yesterday that we did this on a regular basis.
So, after a weekend of food, drink, dance, spa, catching up and as much sleep as we could squeeze in, I head home thankful.
First, thankful for my dear friend and my sister. These are amazing women who take on life’s daily challenges with confidence. Time together makes me realize how lucky I am to have kind, strong women around me. By no means do we have it all figured out, but we get along so well because we aren’t ever scared to try to figure it out. The other thing I realize when I am with these strong ladies is how infrequently I let my guard down whether on purpose, or by accident.
Second, thankful for my husband and my kids. All weekend, I got updates from them and they seemed truly happy. In one conversation with them, Katharine said “we have an action-packed day planned.” Jon is a remarkable person, husband and father. He truly went all-in with our kids this weekend to help them have fun and to help me not worry. It takes so much effort to entertain a feisty 2 and 4 year old for a weekend, and he does it with grace and true care. The reason I have these wonderful kids is because I found a partner who is truly a partner.
Finally, thankful for this life of mine. Although it feels sometimes like I am just hanging on for dear life, dear it certainly is. I often wonder how this all happened. How did this shy girl from small-town Ohio, who didn’t seem to know what she wanted, get what she wanted? I still truly don’t have an answer for that, but after a weekend like this I realize that much of it comes from the relationships that I have with amazing people who help create strength. I am thankful for this strength around me.