Category Archives: cloud nine

Have You Chased A Sunset Lately?

Our Perfect Sunset

Wednesday night, driving home from the YMCA after teaching my YoPi class, I hear my daughter’s sweet little voice pipe up, “Look mommy! The moon is beautiful!”

I glance out the window and chuckle. “It is beautiful sweetie, but that’s the sun. It’s about to go to sleep and make room for the moon.”

Then all three of us, my daughter, my son and me continue to sneak glances at the sunset and talk about the clouds building up tall, highlighted around the edges with oranges, reds, and yellows, and then I start to say, “We need to take a picture of it! But the camera is at home, we have to hurry!”

They both pipe up, “Yeah, we have to hurry!”

Finally we pull up to the driveway and the kids rushed around, my son in his summer school shirt, my daughter in her pull up and no pants or shoes because she’d had an accident at the Y and she’s trying to get her sandals on fast, “Let’s go mom! We have to take a picture!”

We grab the camera. We grab each other’s hands and run across the street to the school. My son and daughter plop down in the grass and watch the sun, not saying a word, a breathtaking moment full of wonder. Finally I feel my little girl’s arms wrap around my leg and we just stop and ponder the beauty. A perfect end to our day, because no matter what happened, the sun lit up our night and our dreams.

Monday Makeover: Oh, patience, where did you go…

This past week was a test of my patience. Deadlines at work. Ones where I am the planner, the detail checker, the layout designer, and I have to make sure everything is perfect. Public Relations is a profession of perfectionism, and with many hats to juggle, it’s a daunting task to stay on top. And there’s days and certain weeks where I’m sure we all feel, we’re running as fast as we can to get work done, but our steps are just not fast enough.

Then something happens. An unexpected event. You throw on the brakes way before you’re ready to stop, and you don’t know what to do.

Tuesday night rolled around, and suddenly my little one started to cling. She wanted mommy. She wandered in the bed at night and she couldn’t get to sleep. The next day the doctor said nothing was wrong besides her fever, so you wait and you hope and you pray that’s it. But sleep became harder to steal with the little one in the bed every night, rolling around every hour, screaming and crying and I felt so bad. And being the momma, life stops until all is well again in the family, including work. Thank goodness for Grandma. She came to the rescue a few times when I needed it.

Friday arrived and the fever skyrocketed. Another doctor visit. Tests were run, but nothing turned up right away, until her oxygen levels were checked, more than once—the verdict? Pneumonia.
 I won’t lie. I’ll just say it. Sick babies wear you down. You love them. You are there holding them, but your best becomes way less than that, and your feel like a zombie. 
Sunday saved me. Finally back to a routine with her sleeping in the bed, and eating solid food again, we had a major meltdown. My sweet little girl tends to turn into an instant tornado in a blink of an eye. This time it was over breakfast and sitting in my lap. She worked herself up into a giant fit, erupting, and crying and holding her breath. My calm Sunday mood hit the floor and I had to do something different before I lost it all.

We all have our signs. For me? Instant tenseness. I hold my breath. My words get short. And I try so hard not to yell.

So what do you do?

Music works. Breathing works. But there’s a point when you just need it all. I needed a complete change in my environment, so I dressed the kids and we drove straight to church where I could listen to the music, feel the energy, and above all things, find my faith. It worked! 

But my patience is still running a little thin. So I’m making it a focus this week. I read a really great article on patience and in a nutshell, here’s what I plan to do based on what I read: 
Identify my common triggers. What are the words my daughter says that set me off? What are her actions? What can I do to keep them from getting out of control? What can I do at work to focus my attention and maximize the time I spend in the office, since now, my second little one is home sick.
I’m following a mantra: “You’re doing your best. Hang on,” and I’m hoping it helps. I’m also remembering to breathe and to close my eyes to shut out the moment.
 I might sing a song or empty the dishwasher. Strangely enough, emptying the dishwasher is the first thing I do when my patience fizzles. 
I also plan to look for humor and remember a whole lot of love. Because looking back, these moments can be a little funny, and I won’t ever get time or love back with my babies.

Who Made You, You?

from mary Keller on

I’m feeling very thankful.

I’m excited I’ve had people in my life who believe in me.

I love the fact that I have others in my life who love my dream as much as I do, for me.

So today, I’m writing about that moment. Not the birds and the bees; but the second my life changed, where  my one big dream shaped into a seed. The moment in my life someone took that seed and helped me plant it in the ground right under my feet. I’m talking about my first grade teacher, Mrs. Heinz.

And the story goes something like this…

Once upon a time—okay, thirty years ago—I’m sitting on the floor in pigtails, rainbow sparkle shoes and jeans. I’m squeezed in with 18 other classmates on a pink carpet, legs criss crossed and eyes glued to my teacher at the front of the room. It was story time and it didn’t matter what our teacher read out-loud—Mrs. Heinz had a voice that could silence the room—in a good way.

Finally, she closes the book. She sends us back to our seats and we scuttle off like mice frantic to be the first one to our desks.

“Erika, stay with me for a second.”

I freeze. A giant ear-to ear stretching smile lifts my face as I turn around. I loved Mrs. Heinz. She helped me make sense out of a bunch of scratches on a page and to see the letters out of all those scratches—eventually turning those letters into words.

Mrs. Heinz hands me a white card. I recognize it. An assignment, a story from a dream we could remember. Little unicorns decorated the top of the stationary drawn with my own two hands. Beneath those unicorns, I’d written my first story ever—a girl who could call the unicorns—a girl who could ride them anytime she was sad.

Mrs. Heinz bent down to me and put a hand on my shoulder. “Erika, you’re going to be a writer someday. I loved your story.”

I’ll never forget the picture of her face. I’ll never forget the way I felt when she said it. I was good at something. I was good at something I loved to do. So I wrote. I wrote my way through middle school and high school and then something terrible happened when I started college—I stopped.

I’ve often wondered why—why did it take me 30 years to cycle back to my one greatest dream?

To be honest, I think I forgot how to sit still with my thoughts. Life became so busy with college and work and of course friends and fun.

So now I leave you with my favorite thought of the week because it’s never too late.

Chase what you want. Run as fast as you can to catch it. Sooner or later it will happen. I just know it.

Thought of the Week:
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

“Santa’s not real, but the Easter bunny is!”

I remember these words flying out of my mouth and crushing a little girl’s hopes right in front of my face. She was six. I was six, and to this day, I feel awful about it.

Being the youngest in the house isn’t always the easiest. Not when you have a big brother and all of his friends are also your big brothers. Which means, what they learn much quicker being the ornery stinkers they are; running wild through the neighborhood, painting car dashboards with bright orange street paint, stealing dads keys and driving the old farm truck into the ditch, and bribing a younger sister to mow the lawn with promises that yeah, you can hang out with me tonight, but you have to do my chores (and then when you’re done, he’s pulled a Houdini), is exactly what you learn and strive to be like—only much sooner.

Don’t get me wrong. I have awesome memories of my brother. He also taught me a lot of great things too. And now that I’m older and I have two kids of my own, I appreciate him more than ever. It’s part of why I’m writing today—the reason I feel so inspired.

My point is this: nature sort of bares all this time of year and maybe there’s a reason. Maybe it’s time I reflect on my memories and what matters most to me—my family, both blood and extended—and what it means when we’re together.

Halloween is behind us now, and this year my family went trick-or-treating for the first time with one of our closest friend’s family—I love this family. Not just because they are awesome hard working people. I love this family because they’ve struggled together—they’ve made themselves, and they don’t take a moment for granted. Yes, Angie, I’m talking about you. ;0) We went from house to house and my kiddos said trick or treat. I thought about the candy, the decorated porches, and the time people take to keep the tradition of Halloween alive—the importance of Halloween for communities. I thought, as a parent, I want my kids to feel safe, to be able to talk kindly to others they don’t know, and certainly to respond with a thank you after they’ve had a treasure dropped in their bags. I watched the faces of people light up the moment my two-year-old said in her tiny sweet voice, “thank you.” And that’s what matters—not the candy, but the feeling of safety, kindness and gratitude for others because of what they do to share in traditions.

And what about Thanksgiving? It’s a week away, and I think this will be the first year I set the stage for my family. We’re not traveling to grandmas. We’re here—and I don’t want the holiday to JUST be about the food. I want to teach something, say something, and even though my kids are 4 and 2, there has to be something I can already show them that will say, hey, let’s be thankful for what we have—we’re lucky.

So back to my story about Santa and the Easter bunny. At six my brother showed me where mom stashed our gifts, how to peek without hurting the tape, and revealed the truth behind Santa—but the Easter bunny, well—real bunnies are everywhere, so why couldn’t there be a giant one out there—somewhere?

I think the holidays are a time to put some faith in the magic of possibility. Believing in our dreams and hopes and that what we really want has a chance to become real. Believing traditions will always live and someone will care—they’ll listen to our dreams. And of course, I want to teach my kids the importance of caring, magic, and family—ultimately, how the world is bigger than me. We are a community—no way could we exist without ever communicating with someone else in some form. Community pulls together in good and in bad. That’s what this time of year is about—sharing, believing and giving something of yourself back to someone else.