Struggles Lead to Strength

gratitude

Without the struggles I have endured, I would not be able to appreciate the strength I have gained. For that, today I am grateful. I could look at my life and focus on the negatives: Working two jobs to make ends meet… Living across the country from family and friends… Falling into bed at night from pure exhaustion. But if I did that, I would be living my life miserably.

I have to wake up each day in gratitude. When life gets tough, it is SO easy to have a pity party. Those struggles I’ve endured have led me to where I am today. I kinda like who I have become. I appreciate every little minute detail in my life, because I have been through some very challenging times. On some days, I have to remember the hard times of struggle, and realize that today, I am living in the solution.

Today, my life is FAR from struggle-free. However, I choose each day to get into, and remain in, gratitude! It’s a pretty damn good place to be!

~ Patti Crowley

Where Darkness Loomed

darkness

Where darkness loomed,

now there is light.

Where emptiness existed,

now exists joy.

Where silence deafened,

now music plays.

Just within reach…

only a few more steps…

the light creeps in…

there for the taking.

The ultimate choice –

take another step or turn around.

~ Patti Crowley

Connecting and Reconnecting Souls

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Connections, true and real connections, are what life is all about. Those times in my life when I felt I was at my lowest, were the times in which I was feeling disconnected from the world… spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I believe we have as much of a need to feel connected as we need air to breathe and water to sustain.

In relationships, people talk about the presence or absence of chemistry. I believe what we feel for another person is more of a soul connection rather than some physical phenomenon such as the existence of pheromones and chemistry. Once that true connection is made, it is unbreakable. There is no argument, no distance, and no situation that can tear that connection apart.

What I’ve learned about relationships is that it is not real until both people truly feel that sense of wanting forever. I have had my share of relationships that felt so right at the time, but in looking back, I realize I never felt a true sense of forever with that person. Sure, I wanted to be with them. Sure, we enjoyed each other’s company – otherwise we wouldn’t have been together. However, when I looked down the road five, ten, even twenty years, I did not have a clear vision of life with that person.

Then, one day you find that your soul has been deeply touched by another person, and you can actually close your eyes and see life with that person, side by side, for years to come. Distance may have pulled you apart physically. Circumstances may have gotten in the way of being with that person. Nevertheless, you find that within a piece of your heart exists a piece of their heart. When circumstances change, and you find yourselves brought together once again, you are drawn together like two magnets with a force that cannot be broken. True connection is, quite simply, a most magnificent thing.

~ Patti Crowley

The Dream No One Sees

dream

Today is my 48th birthday! I celebrate it with a small circle of friends, and sadly, long distance with my family. Birthdays tend to be a time of reflection for me. I look back at all of the things I wish I would have done, things I did that I regret, but more importantly, things for which I am grateful.

I am sure that some would look at my life and see the chaotic twists and turns, the decisions I have made, and also the mistakes. I experience moments when I wonder how I got here… how my life has brought me to where I am today. I have made so many changes in my life over the years, with the biggest probably being the move I made across country to Arizona last year.

I have made choices based on my gut… decisions which to others may appear to be impulsive. But in reality, I have been following a dream that no one can see except me. One important lesson I have learned is that I no longer have to explain myself to anyone. I know what I want… I know in my heart the peace that I seek. Others may question my dreams… they may even call me silly… and that is okay. I have risked quite a bit to get where I am, and I have made so many mistakes along the way. However, I will never apologize or try to explain searching for a dream of which only I know.

I would rather search aimlessly attempting to fulfill a dream, than to spend the rest of my life without a dream for which to search at all!

~ Patti Crowley

Life is God’s Novel… Let Him Write It

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I have spent a lifetime trying to write my own story… to come up with exciting plots full of wonderful twists and turns… and then filling the pages with extraordinary characters.  Somehow, through everything, I thought that maybe I actually had some say in how the story progressed, and then ultimately, how it would all turn out.  The truth is though, that although I may have been the one physically holding the pen, I was not the one doing the writing and putting those words down on paper.

You see, whether you believe in God or not, I tend to believe that most of us would agree that there is some power out there that is greater than each of us, that guides us and determines the courses of our lives. For me, it is in attempting to control my own course and the courses of others where I find true discomfort.

When I let go, and let myself be guided by faith, goodness unfolds. Many times, I am tempted to pick up that pen and try to write the next scene the way that I would like for it to happen. But I find that the scene never tends to play out the way I had originally intended. Is it because I did a poor job writing? NO. Instead, I think it is because there is a different, maybe even better plan than anything I, myself, could have dreamed up.

My guess is that I have been saved from many potential disasters that might have eventually occurred if I had gotten the things I thought I wanted, or if things had gone the way I thought they should.

So, for today, I am trying to step aside and hand over the rights to my story to something or someone greater, and most likely MUCH smarter, than me!

“Life is God’s Novel. Let Him write it.”

~ Patti Crowley

No Playing Small… No Settling

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Have you ever felt yourself shrinking? Ever kept your mouth closed for fear of being judged, or worse, for sounding too smart? Ever settled for something less than what you knew in your heart would never be quite enough? I may have… a time or two.

I see students in my class shrink into their seats. I know that they understand and are learning, but they are terrified to raise their hands. I see girls act as if they are clueless, when really, they simply get it! Unfortunately, I tend to expect this type of behavior from middle school students, but why is it so common among many adults… myself included?

Consider this scenario: You are out at a party at a friend’s house. You don’t know many of the guests, so you make idle chitchat with a group of near strangers. You silently gauge their level on intelligence based on the conversation, and then get this… you model your own words based solely on their level. You are careful not to sound too uninformed, and even more careful not to sound too smart. God forbid! They might view you as thinking you are superior, and you just cannot fathom that!

Here is another scenario: Have you ever asked a friend what they were wearing before going out together somewhere? I did that exact thing this past New Year’s Eve. A friend of mine was having a party at her home, and for the entire day, we exchanged texts back and forth trying to figure out what to wear. Should we wear dresses? Should we be casual? Are jeans too casual for New Year’s Eve? We even went as far as sending photos to each other of the outfits that were in the running! I cringe at the thought of it now.

I cannot speak for my friend, but I can speak for myself. I was so worried about being dressed properly, but even more so, concerned about being OVER-dressed. I didn’t want people to look at me and view me as thinking I was better than them if I showed up in a dress, and they were in jeans. Why does it even matter??

This prompted me to consider how so many of us worry too much about what others think. But even more disturbing, this holding back that many of us have a tendency to do has a way of keeping us small.

We can never find passion and happiness if we live our lives trying to be small. If we shrink to fit our surroundings, we are hurting any chances for growth… and even for greatness! Instead, try getting BIG… try speaking out… try dressing up… try voicing your opinions! Great things are in store if you think big. Believe you can do something… trust that you deserve only the best, and NEVER, EVER settle!

~ Patti Crowley

I Got Something Perfectly Right

perfectAfter six long months, my adult children have come to Arizona. It is the first time I’ve seen them since I moved here from Chicago in June of 2014. My daughter has moved here permanently, and my 22 year old son is visiting. Life is good!

My decision to move across the country was met with much judgment and many questions, as I’ve chronicled in previous blog posts. I was looked at as selfish by a few of my closest friends, while others completely supported my decision to better my life and start anew. Regardless, I have held fast to the belief that this move was something I was meant to do, and had been waiting for my entire life.

Now that my children are here, I have this feeling that I’ve done something perfectly right… after a lifelong gnawing voice had been telling me I was not perfect. I now fully realize that I will never be perfect, and I have stopped trying to be. However, when I look at my kids, I realize I did do something perfectly right… right for them and right for me.

If the decisions we make throughout our lives have good intentions, then what we have done has been done perfectly right. It does not matter how others view our decisions. They are not living in our shoes… they have not had our experiences… they simply do not know the whole story. Every lesson I have ever taught my children, every piece of advice I have ever offered, and every word I have ever said was taught, offered, or uttered with love and good intentions. If that is truly the case, then how could I have achieved any result that is even less than perfect?

I choose to look back on my life with pride. I am not saying I never made any mistakes… hell, no!  Instead, I am simply saying that I always hoped for the best and did what I thought was best at the time. You could never ask for more than that.

~ Patti Crowley

Letting Down Your Guard

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It took many years to build this incredibly tall & stable brick wall. I took great pleasure in laying brick upon brick to keep safe. I stood back and looked upon this wall with pride and amazement at what I had created with my own two hands. I was certain it would keep out all who might do me harm. What I did not recognize, was what it was actually keeping out.

How many people have come into my life, only for me to push them away, blaming them for not letting me in? All along, I thought it was them who had their guard up, when maybe, just maybe, it was me.

Sometimes, we are so afraid of being hurt that we close ourselves off to the possibilities that come with new relationships. How many opportunities for friendships and love do we pass up because we are simply too afraid of feeling the pain of loss?

It may take time to deconstruct these walls I have built, but I pray it will be worth the effort.

~ Patti Crowley

Life Moves Pretty Fast!

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This quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of my all time favorites. However, isn’t it funny that we can hear quotes like this over and over, but we ignore the message. Yesterday, I was on my early evening run, and I noticed some beautiful fall blooms. As this is my first fall here in Arizona, I am constantly seeing new things, and these flowers were so pretty that I had to stop. But unfortunately, I stopped just long enough to snap a quick photo with my iPhone so that I could post on Facebook when I got back.

Did I breathe in their sweet fragrance? Did I linger just long enough to truly appreciate their beauty? Nope! I snapped the photo quick and got right back to my run. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I do not enjoy the views while I run, but the fact that I stopped long enough only to take a photo speaks volumes about the way many of us, myself included, live our lives.

I have to admit that I am getting much better at opening my eyes and seeing, truly seeing, what is around me. Ever since moving here this past June, I marvel at the views of the mountains on my drive into work each day. Last night, I was driving to a girlfriend’s home at sunset. Up north, there was this gorgeous set of isolated cloud formations in view. Within that formation, there was intermittent lightning, and it was spectacular. I found myself smiling at the wheel, loving the light show.

But the beauty does not end with nature. So many of us would rather text each other, skype, or send messages on Facebook than actually get together and spend time with each other. We say that life is busy. Now that may be true, but life should never be so busy that we avoid that personal connection, that face-to-face time with each other. I miss so many of my family and friends back in Illinois, and have no choice but to rely on technology to maintain the connection for now. But how many of us have our family and friends within reach, yet we rely on texting as our main means of communication?

Worse yet… how many of us find that even when we are in the presence of our family and friends, we are still looking at our phones?! I see this every single day! Sitting at a cafe having lunch yesterday, I watched a family sitting together at a table. The father was on his phone, and one of his daughters was also on her phone. The mother looked off to the side, watching others in the cafe. It made me sad.

This video says it all. Please take just a few minutes to watch this. It’s message is invaluable.

Put Down Your Phone

So even if just for today… Let’s commit to putting down our phones and looking around!

~ Patti Crowley

 

A Stranger on the Corner

This morning I was on my way to work when I saw a man with a sign looking for help. I have always wondered how anyone could stand on a corner in 100 degree heat begging for money, when instead, they could be out looking for a job. But this morning, something inside of me changed. I sat at the light and looked at that man. He had kind eyes. For what felt like an eternity, I thought about my own situation. Money has been so tight, and I barely make it between paychecks. I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses, make more money, and find a way to get ahead.

Then I looked at this gentle soul standing there in the brutal heat, while I am sitting in my air-conditioned car. As low as I am on funds this particular week, I reached in my purse and found only three dollars. I pulled the money out and held it in my hand. I watched as he walked back toward the intersection with a defeated look on his face as driver after driver looked away from him in avoidance. I opened my window and called out to him.

As he approached my car, I felt this overwhelming compassion for this man about whom I knew nothing. As I handed him the money, I made a weak apology for only having a few bucks. He said, “Every dollar helps. God bless you.” Tears welled up in my eyes, and I quietly said to him, “This Too Shall Pass”.

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Why I felt so much emotion at this small gesture, I am unsure. What I do know is that it gave me the most incredible feeling of joy and peace. This may seem like such a trite thing to some reading this, but I assure you, this little act of kindness did way more for me than it probably did for him.

I remember my mother always saying to me that it is better to give than receive. Honestly, those words never meant much to me. I do, however, remember the feeling I got when someone opened a present from me that I was so excited to give. But giving is so much more than picking out the perfect pair of earrings for your mother or getting those concert tickets that your daughter has been wanting so desperately. It is about the feelings the act of giving evokes within.

It is embarrassing to admit that when I held the three dollars in my hand, I momentarily thought that I needed the cash to buy a Coke Zero later. Handing that money to someone in need touched my soul, and only made me want more of that feeling.

As Maya Angelou says in the quote above, “No one has ever become poor from giving”. Today, I am simply inspired!

~ Patti Crowley