Practicing Patience for the Things That Matter Most

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Impulsivity. This can be seen as a positive quality to possess… but impulsivity is NOT the same as spontaneity. If you look up the definition of each in the dictionary, the actual definitions are quite similar, yet they have different connotations. Spontaneity tends to refer to being flexible and willing to try new things without having to plan it out, whereas impulsivity seems to be a bit more negative. I think of impulsiveness when I consider a person who is a bit reckless… making decisions on a whim with no regard for the consequences. But all of this is just semantics!

I used to act incredibly impulsive… making unnecessary purchases, making decisions about relationships, and making sudden career decisions. Were some of those decisions reckless? Hell, yes! But more and more, I am learning to practice patience. It can be brutal sometimes. It seems, however, that when I learn to be patient, the right things tend to come along. The things I rush into having are usually things that will not last too long. If I buy a shirt on a whim, typically I end up not really liking it too much… sometimes I may even return that impulse buy.

On the other hand, the things about which I think long and hard… the things for which I truly plan and wait, are usually the things that I am meant to have, or the people with whom I am supposed to be. Patience is a virtue, or so they say. If we wait, and have faith that it will all work out, then we will probably end up with what is best for us in the long run.

If you want something really special, and you hope to have it in your life for a long time or even forever, then wait. Have patience and faith that if it is truly meant to be, and more importantly, if it is RIGHT for YOU, it will be yours. The waiting will most certainly be worth it!

~ 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

Real Connections Never Disappear

IMG_4595 (1)Throughout our lives, people come and go. You’ve heard the saying, “People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”

Everyone has a purpose for entering our lives. Maybe you worked with them, got to know them, and then left that job for another, losing contact altogether. Maybe they were your classmate in college, you were incredibly close, and maintained a friendship long after graduation. Maybe you loved them, and then drifted apart, only to wonder about them often.

When we experience connections which are deep and real, they never really disappear. They may lie under the surface, completely intact. The person with whom you shared the connection remains a real part of who you are. Now, if you are lucky to have the opportunity to reconnect… if that relationship was real, it will be as if no time has ever passed.

I have enjoyed so many seasonal friendships over the years. I hold no regrets about the past, and the people who entered, and then left, my life. Many of those friendships, in retrospect, turned out to be friendships for a reason. Maybe they taught me something about life, or even about myself. Maybe I was the one to add something to their lives. Whatever the reason, I cherish each and every one, because I am who I am today because of every contact, every emotion, and every lesson.

Now the lifetime friendships… well, we never really know which relationships will be of this type… at least at first. Maybe we will never really even realize it. The relationships that are meant for a lifetime are the ones that stem from real, true, honest connection of one soul to another. Usually, you can tell in an instant that the friendships are special. These friendships are effortless, refreshing, and true.

Lifetime friendships can ebb and flow, where you move into and out of each others lives at times. However, with these true connections, each time you reconnect, it is as if no time has passed at all.

All types of relationships are worthwhile, and help us to become who we are. But the lifetime friendships… now those are the ones worth living for. They bring immense joy into our lives, and help us to see meaning in our lives. Hang onto these… cherish them… and enjoy the fact that they will never fade away… if they are really real!

~ 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

 

To My Beautiful Daughter

Today, my youngest left for college and I wasn’t there to see her off. As I’ve talked about in other posts, I recently moved from Chicago to Arizona. My daughter and I had planned to move together, and she would attend college out here. At the last minute, she decided she would attend her first year in Illinois and then move out here after the school year. As sad as I was about that decision, I completely supported her in it, and only want her to be happy with her choices.

With a new job and the financial strain of having just moved across country, I was unable to manage a trip back to Illinois to see her off to school. I have been devastated about this, and it has caused me to feel a tremendous amount of guilt. What kind of a mother can’t find a way to be there for her daughter at such an exciting and life-changing time in her life?

Although Megan had her father with her for her move, I still feel as though she needed her mom. Here I am in Arizona, with a job I love and a life I love… but I missed out on one of the most important events in my daughter’s life. I told my daughter that I would probably only be able to swing one trip back this fall… so it would have to be either move in day or parent weekend. She said she would prefer that I come for parent weekend. But ugh… the damn guilt is eating me alive.

So proud I am of her. What a beautiful, generous, intelligent, and savvy young woman she has become! She is growing up and making adult choices for herself, and I see her as being smart way beyond her years. When I shared my feelings of guilt at not being there, a good friend offered some terrific advice. These were the words she said to me, which offered tremendous comfort:

“Remember, Patti. Your daughter is capable and brave, and it is an honor for you to witness the new ways she is expanding her life that are fully in line with the natural order of things. You may not be there with her today, but you can find new and meaningful ways to show her love and support.”

WOW!

So to my beautiful daughter, I say:

Megan, I love you more than I can ever fully express through words, but of course, I will try! 🙂 You are the light of my life. You inspire me with your passion for life, your love of others, and your compassion for the students you’ve worked with over the last four years. What an amazing special education teacher I know you will be. Lives will be forever changed for the better because of you… trust me on this. You have a sense of self-respect that is admirable. You make me (and everyone you meet) laugh uncontrollably… especially when your chin quivers and your eyes tear up while your gut aches from laughing.

You love and respect your big brother, and I know that the two of you will always have each other’s backs… long after your father and I are gone… I take a great deal of comfort in that. I have not always been the best mother, but you loved and supported me through both the good and the bad times. I have gradually witnessed you grow from the sweet little chubby cheeked child, into a tall, beautiful young woman who carries herself with amazing grace. I love that you have my eyes… they are identical to mine and I love that we share that trait.

And so it begins, my sweet girl. May your college experience be filled with wonderful adventures, many lifelong friends, and a world experience that you will treasure for the rest of your life. Enjoy every single moment! I will be with you, in your heart and always right here, every step of the way.

I love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be. (Robert Munsch)

Love, Mommeg

 

 

 

A Mother’s Love For Her Son

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My silly little boy was such a delight. He made me laugh constantly. Sadly, he had a condition that caused him to faint suddenly with no warning. It started when he was in kindergarten… probably around the same time as this photo was taken. It frightened us, but the doctors told us that he checked out fine, and was just one of those kids that faints from time to time. Young and inexperienced as we were as parents, we accepted this diagnosis.

The fainting went on for years. When he was in sixth grade, we had moved to a new area and had a new physician. He had another fainting spell, so we took him in. The doctor immediately suggested we see a pediatric cardiologist that day. After a number of various tests, Michael was given a stress test. On the treadmill, he went into v-tach (ventricular tachicardia). He was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome… a condition in which the heart goes into a dangerous rhythm. The result is either losing consciousness or full cardiac arrest. We had been lucky up to that point to say the very least.

Michael had to have an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) put in, and overnight, had to quit all sports, which he loved. It was devastating to him. The day of his surgery, we were terrified. He had been sent to Children’s Memorial in Chicago to ensure he had the best electrocardiologists. I stayed overnight in his room the night before surgery, and we watched Napoleon Dynamite. He was so oblivious to the magnitude of his condition, which was truly a blessing. His father and I, and most of our family members, waited for news during the procedure. Every time someone walked through those doors, we all nearly jumped out of our seats. Finally, a nurse came in and said, “The implant went well. Now the doctors will stop his heart to make sure the device shocks his heart back.”

At that moment, my own heart stopped. My thoughts were all over the place. “They were stopping my baby’s heart!” I broke down, and for the first time since our divorce, my ex took me in his arms and we held each other. The surgery went well, and our boy was just fine. I walked into the recovery room to the sound of his quiet voice crying, “Mommy”. He hadn’t called me mommy since he was a very little boy and I melted.

Today, my boy is 21 years old. He is the most kind-hearted, genuine, funny, and intelligent young men I have ever known… okay, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but it is all TRUE!  He had surgery last week to replace the ICD device with a newer model, and he is in excellent health. He may be an adult, but he will always be my little boy. I was just as nervous with this surgery as I was the first time around. Things never change, and most certainly, neither does a mother’s love. He is the light of my life, and I am forever grateful for the doctors who discovered his condition and saved his life. I count my blessings every day.

michael

~ Patti Crowley