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Take Me Out to the Ballgame….

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What is it about baseball that breathes new life into our souls each spring?  Is it the crack of the bat, the cheer of the crowd?  The joy of watching the home-run ball flying high over the outfield into the glove of an 8-year old boy sitting way up in the stands yelling, “I got it”? Whatever the reason, there is something about baseball that brings us back to life after a cold, dark and dreary winter.

My youngest child, Meghan, went to her first-ever softball practice earlier this week.  She joined the other 5 and 6 year old girls on the field who were throwing big, yellow practice balls to each other which went in all directions, sometimes catching the balls, but mostly missing and chasing them across the infield.  At first, Meghan clung to my leg and told me she was nervous.  Soon she began throwing and catching along with her new teammates.  She was happy to see some girls that she knew from her kindergarten class.  When it was time to practice batting, Meghan was first in line.  Several times she swung at the ball sitting upon the T.  Finally, she made contact with ball which quickly rolled across the infield.  She dropped the bat and ran to first base, then second, third and home.  The look of joy on her face was priceless.  After all the girls had a chance at bat, the uniforms were distributed by Coach Erin. The girls lined up in the dugout, anxiously waiting to receive their light blue and black uniform socks, shirts, shorts and visors.  Today, there will be an opening day parade through our neighborhood of all the teams in the league followed by a ceremony and water ice for all of the players.  Meghan’s first game will be this afternoon.  I can hardly wait!

As I write this, Meghan is up in her room changing into her uniform.  Did I fail to mention that it is 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning?

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Getting The New Year Off To A Good Start

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Meghan feels lousy - Jan. 2013 002Happy New Year! We had a wonderful Christmas Break…my husband took off to stay home with the kids and I for the week. We visited lots of family, ate plenty of good food and had some down time, too. I was looking forward to everyone going back to school and work today so that I could reclaim the house and put it back in order. Getting back to the gym today was also at the top of my list as soon as the kids went to school.  Much to my chagrin, my 6 year old woke up to a croupy cough along with lots of sneezing. My plan of having some much-needed alone time this morning quickly flew out the window. So, instead of executing my plan to overhaul the mess that accumulated during the Christmas Break and getting back into a regular workout routine, my youngest and I will get to have some snuggle time together without the rest of the family. Not such a bad deal, if you ask me.

Good Intentions

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions…”

According to Wikipedia, the saying is thought to have originated with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who wrote, “L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs” (hell is full of good wishes and desires).  An earlier saying occurs in Virgil’s Aeneid: “facilis descensus Averno (It is easy to go to hell)”.  Whether this statement is true or not, I will let you be the judge.  However, I can honestly say that I have intended to do many things in my life, which I never followed through on…finishing my degree, getting together with my college girlfriend, writing in this blog on a frequent basis, etc.  The list goes on and on.  I guess  this would also include the things that I meant to do but never did. There are also mistakes that have made along the way because I “never intended” to do the wrong thing.

Our intentions (or lack thereof) should give us pause to reflect upon on our past action and inactions: “How could I have done better?”  Let’s face it; there is always room for improvement.  As we look back on another year that is drawing to a close, consider asking yourself how you could have done differently. Once you have answered this question, perhaps you could pick one or two things to work on in the new year ahead.

I can think of a few things.  How about you?

All In Good Measure

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“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Luke 6:38

“What have you done for me lately?”  Have you found yourself asking this question (usually in the confines or your mind and sometimes out loud) of your spouse, family member, friend or neighbor?

“Keeping score” seems to be the modus operandi of many individuals these days: I cooked the dinner, so he should clean up. He went out for drinks with his buddies last night, so I deserve a “girls night out” tonight. I called her last time, it’s her turn to call me. I took out the trash, so she should bring the cans back up. I bathed the kids, so he should tuck them in.  She just got a new car, so I am entitled to this new motorcycle.

You get the picture. Whatever happened to the fine art of doing something for someone out of love and concern without thinking about the “payback” you are going to receive in return for your act of kindness?

“One hand washing the other” is very attractive especially when there is some personal gain involved.  This became quite evident to me during the many years that I worked in the business world.  I was everyone’s best friend when I  assisted the Vice President and had the responsibility of fielding all of his phone calls and acted as his “gatekeeper”.  Vendors calling in for appointments with my boss fell all over themselves to be nice to me and endear themselves to me.  When my role changed at the company and I was no longer working for the VP, several of these same individuals acted as if they didn’t even know me.  Their behavior did not come as a surprise to me; however, it was a foreign concept to me.

Let me explain….When I was growing up, my parents never told me that I should help others when given the opportunity.  They just did it.  As for me, I witnessed their love in action.  They had a selfless love for each other and for each one of their ten children.  My father often brought cake or donuts from our cousin’s bakery shop to a sick neighbor or the lady down the street who just had a death in the family.  It wasn’t the donuts that these people received that meant so much to them.   It was the love and compassion that my father displayed during these visits by taking time out of his busy schedule to lend a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on during difficult times.

We have all heard of “Random Acts of Kindness” and  “Paying It Forward”.  Ask yourself this question:  “When was the last time I paid it forward or committed a random act of kindness?” Try it, you just might like it.

per·fec·tion

per·fec·tion

Spelled[per-fek-shuh                         n]

noun

1. the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.

2. the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art.

3. a perfect embodiment or example of something.

4. a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.

5. the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait.

6. the act or fact of perfecting.

When did you and I begin to believe that we should be perfect in every way?

Do you actually believe that it is possible to attain perfection in all that you do?  The last time I checked, we were human beings.  Human beings are imperfect creatures.  We know this.  It is a basic truth.  Yet, we aspire to be flawless in every aspect of our lives.

Today, I am making myself a promise.  I promise to let go of the fallacy that it is possible for me to do everything perfectly.

So what if my house isn’t spotless from top to bottom at any given moment of the day? Too bad if all the beds aren’t made and there is dust on the ceiling fan in my bedroom.  The laundry isn’t done?   I gained 5 more pounds over the holidays and my pants are too tight?    Really?  Ask me if I care.

Who am I fooling?  Of course, I care.  Too much!

I have come to the realization that if I want to be at peace with myself, that I have to learn to let go more.  When I became a mother almost 15 years ago, it became evident to me that I had to relax my standards.  As a new mom holding down a full-time job outside the home, it just wasn’t possible for me to maintain the same level of cleanliness and organization in my house.  Who did I think I was, Wonder Woman? (I’d like to see how Wonder Woman would handle having one kid let alone three! )

When I left my full-time job back in March to become a stay-at-home mom, my neighbor joked with me about how I was turning into June Cleaver.  (She once told me that she thought she was going back in time to 1950’s when she stopped by at my house to drop off a gift.  The house just happened to be clean, there was a roast in the oven and the table was set for dinner.  She said the only thing that was missing was my house dress, apron and pearls.)

Yes, June was nearly close to perfect and she didn’t even own a dishwasher or a microwave!

I don’t claim to be Wonder Woman or June Cleaver, although I wouldn’t mind having those ladies around to give me some pointers.  I’m just me- imperfect in many ways – just trying to be the best I can be one day at a time.

How about you?

Finding God In The Laundry Room

It may sound a bit odd to tell someone that they can “find God in the laundry room”; however, I can attest that it is indeed possible.

As a busy mother of three, who is often roused from a deep sleep by my youngest child, Meghan (often before 5 a.m.!) it is rather difficult to find a quiet moment or two before the rest of the family wakes to say even a brief morning prayer. Forget having a regular block of time set aside for prayer, devotions or meditation. This just isn’t happening in my house! Most days, I “hit the ground running” and am lucky if I even remember to lift my mind and heart to God following my early morning “Meghan Wake-Up Call”.

Now I don’t know about you, but the first place I go once I have my cup of coffee in hand is down to the basement to my laundry room to forage for clean clothing for my family.  In the morning, it is one place that I can go to get some peace and quiet before the craziness of the day begins.

I have said many prayers in my laundry room.  Sometimes I look at each individual piece of clothing and thank God for the person that wears it.  My husband’s tshirts, my 14 year old son’s jeans, my 10 year daughter’s pajamas, my 5 year old daughter’s favorite pink shirt, etc.  How blessed I am to have this family to care for and love! A little gratitude goes a long way at the start of the day.

I may not always have time to walk into a church or even kneel down beside my bed; however, I can pray wherever I happen to be no matter what I am doing at any given moment.  Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta said that “our work is a prayer”. Don’t forget that even the most menial task can be turned into an opportunity to become an offering to our Creator.

Have you said a prayer lately? When and where do you pray?

Remembering Reds (Jack Kelly aka Bluto)

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Dad with sons, Paul and Jim

Dad and Christine on Her First Holy Communion Day

Meghan and her Pop-Pop Bluto

                                                                                            “Santa” Pop-Pop” with Kevin on Christmas Day

My beloved Father-in-law, Jack Kelly, was affectionately called “Reds” and “Bluto” by his many friends and relatives. Today he would have celebrated his 78th birthday.  We lovingly remember him today and everyday. Happy Birthday, Dad!  We miss you!