Where is Home?

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I have now been in Arizona for 15 months, and soon will be heading back to Chicago to visit for the first time since I moved. You know the saying… “Home is where the heart is.” ¬†I believe this to be true today more than ever. Although my mailing address is in Arizona, a HUGE part of my heart will always be with those I love back in Chicago. Luckily, I have made so many new friends in my new location which has given me even more reasons to love my life surrounded by the desert mountains.

Those who have not moved around may not completely understand the quote above. I have been given the opportunity to experience the “richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”. How lucky am I? ūüôā

The only drawback to moving across the country is not truly being able to identify where “home” really is. I love my life in Arizona, but at this particular time, my adult children, family, and many friends are back in Chicago. It is as if I live in the midst of two separate, yet deeply connected worlds. It has recently occurred to me that when I think of a place called home, it really does not exist.

So, I suppose home really is where the heart is. It exists wherever those I love exist. It is really not a physical place, but a feeling. In two weeks, I will go back home to Chicago to visit. Then, when the visit is over, I will return home to Arizona. Isn’t it a beautiful thing?

~ Patti Crowley

The Dream No One Sees

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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

Standing Alone

 

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Finding myself “traveling solo” again, I have learned some new lessons. It has now been a full year since I made my big move across country from Chicago to Arizona. The high point of my year was when my 19 year old daughter joined me out here. However, she has decided she wants to attend college back in Chicago with her friends, so for now, she has returned.

Initially, I worried about being alone. But I am realizing that I am NOT alone. Quiet moments bring such peace, allowing me to discover parts of myself I never knew existed.

I am finding gratitude in the little things I did not notice before. Waking to the sun creeping in between the blind slats on my day off, instead of hearing the alarm in the darkness of the early morning. Sitting in bed with a cup of coffee and my laptop, writing. Hearing the cars whiz by, with drivers rushing through their morning errands, while I sit in a tank top and shorts, in no hurry to go anywhere or do anything.

I miss having my “little” girl here with me. But she is no longer “little”. She is an adult with a life of her own, and she needs to go out and live it. She will discover, on her own, that she is capable… just like her mom!

~ Patti Crowley

Trusting Your Gut

gutSometimes it is easier to stay in the comfort of what you already know… to remain in a situation that is familiar. It is the easier, softer way. To some, change is exciting and refreshing, but to others (including me), it is frightening. Starting something new brings with it terrifying fear of the unknown and desperate uncertainty. But there are times when you just know that change will be good for you, even though you may be afraid of taking that first step.

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to trust what my gut is telling me. There have been days when my gut was screaming out at me… and I have chosen to ignore it. You may be able to relate to that gnawing feeling deep inside telling you that something just isn’t right… or that something is not working. Listen to it, because that feeling is coming from a place that we can’t even comprehend.

Life is full of choices… choices to leave or stay… choices about people in your life… career decisions… you name it. We stress about these choices. Make lists of pros and cons. Ask all of our trusted friends. Lose sleep over these decisions. When all along, the answers are right there… deep inside our gut. Trust in that voice… let it guide you.

~ 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

Having Never Been Understood

I was that kid in school who followed the rules, never got in trouble, obeyed authority, but rebelled deep down inside. I was so fearful of not being understood, so I went along with what was expected of me and never challenged anyone. I have seen the following quote from John Lennon before, and I remember thinking, “Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean Mr. Lennon!!”

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Even a few of my closest friends question the way I live my life. Oh they don’t necessarily tell me how they feel, but trust me, I can feel it in the questions they ask, the comments they make. It has occurred to me that I will never be able to please everyone, so I stopped trying quite some time ago.

One of my closest childhood friends, someone who knows every sordid detail of my life, called me back after I left her a message a few weeks ago. We had not connected since I made this move across country to Arizona. We talked about all of the usual things… how are the kids, how is work, etc… Then she started asking me the tough questions. Do I regret making this move, even though my daughter decided to wait a year to come out after her first year of college? Do I feel bad that I wasn’t there for my daughter while she shops for all of her dorm furnishings? Do I feel that the timing was right? ¬†The judgment was evident in her voice.

If I am completely honest, I have made a few major life changes over the years, always with the intention of bettering the life of my children and my own. I walk to the beat of a different drummer… My goal has always been happiness. I never followed the traditional path… the one that might be viewed as socially acceptable. This friend of mine has been married to her high school sweetheart for many years. She was the PTA mom. She works as a nurse. She has never really understood what it is like to be a single parent, juggling a career and being the sole household provider. She cannot understand what my life has been like, and that is okay.

So when I tell her I just want to be happy, it must sound like a cop out. But that is all I want to be, and I am. ¬†My life doesn’t fit in the traditional mold of what looks like happiness to others. But to me, it is exactly that.

I make no excuses for my life. To explain how I feel sometimes falls on deaf ears. Happiness is all I ever wanted. The road to this point may not have been a perfect straight line, but it was a road that I have been thrilled to travel, and am excited at where it will still lead.

~ Patti Crowley

All Is Well In My World… When I Practice Acceptance

Acceptance is really the key to happiness. When I accept that things are exactly as they are supposed to be, and the people in my life are exactly who they are supposed to be, all is well in my world.

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When things are bothering me, and I am feeling unsettled, the truth is that it is because I am finding some person, place, thing, or situation unacceptable to me. I read that recently and it has stuck with me. It made me realize that those occasional feelings of uneasiness, the trouble sleeping, the anxious thoughts… they are a result of me wishing that some person would act better, or that situation would resolve itself, and so on.

I have to remind myself of one very important truth. That truth is that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. I believe that to the core of my being. If I am trying to control another person or a situation, I am saying that I know better than God.

So the bottom line is this… I have to accept that things are the way they are supposed to be, whether I like it or not. If I can honestly accept that, only then can I find the peace.

Today, I have that sense of peace. Today, I concentrate on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes, instead of looking at what needs to be changed in my world. When I can accept that I am who I am, and things are as they are supposed to be, then all will be well with my world!

~ Patti Crowley

 

Old Age Beats the Alternative

alternativeThis cracked me up… It is exactly how I feel today. One year closer¬†to half a century old. Okay, okay, so I have a few years left before I turn the big 5-0. For the past 6-7 years, I have said each year on my birthday that old age is still far better than the alternative. Oh, how true!

Growing older brings about feelings of what we could’ve done, should’ve done, and have yet to do before time runs out. Pretty dismal thoughts, right? But the truth is, I am at a place in my life where I simply do not want to live with regrets. I wake up each day and try to do the next right thing. Sure, there are things I have yet to do. I will get to them, and hopefully sooner rather than later.

So today is my birthday. My children are still in Illinois, and I am here in Arizona. I miss them¬†so very much, but they both called to wish me a happy birthday. Trust me, the fact that my 21 year old son remembered AND actually called me is a miracle in and of itself. Not having them here gives me too much time to think about the actual birthday event, and in thinking of¬†turning 47, I suppose I should be making a bucket list. Then I wonder, “What’s the point?” As things come up that I want to do or accomplish, I can either set my mind to make them happen, like making this move to Arizona, or I can decide they aren’t really all that important after all. I look at people who have made up bucket lists with things like the following:

1. Climb Mt. Everest.

2. Skydive.

3. Drive a race car.

I mean, seriously, how important are these types of bucket list items? If you want to climb Mt. Everest, start collecting your spare change in a jar marked “mountains”. ¬†If you want to drive a race car, post something on facebook. Chances are you have a friend somewhere, who knows someone,¬†who knows someone with a race car hobby.

I say, forget the lists. Start living now. Want something to happen? Damnit, make it happen. Have a dream? Start living it right this very minute. There is no dream worth putting off. If it seems unattainable, figure out a way to make it attainable. Where there is a will, there is a way. Believe me on this!

~ Patti Crowley