Gotta have faith

The Art of Listening

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

I’ve always been good at taking time for myself. I’m all about a girls trip, buying myself something I want just because or just getting in “me” time whenever I see fit.  For the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus more on how to be still with my inner thoughts. As I get older and continue to search for direction, I feel a growing need to not only really think about what I want but to also hone in and listen to the answers.  I spend a lot of time  praying for things and asking for guidance, but I’m not sure I’ve perfected how to listen for the answers or decipher what I truly want and need.

When I can’t figure things out, my first go to is research, research, research. I volunteer to spend an hour a week in our church’s Adoration Chapel. During my devotional hours, I’ve discovered books that provide guidance on the process of preparing my self for prayer so that I’m most clear and free from distraction. Over that last year or so I’ve come across 4 books that have provided me with those infamous “aha” moments Auntie O is always talking about. I loved these books because they’re centered around listening to your gut and doing what will allow you to live and enjoy your life, authentically.  That is such an Oprah way of wording it, but it’s true.  I’ve found the search for a deeper understanding of self and perfecting the art of listening to what God or the universe is trying to tell me is a process. I’m the type of person who needs a toolkit to help me figure this out. It’s not an easy process for me, but one that I’m finding increasingly necessary on my journey. The other aspect I’m working on is consistency. Now, this is the hardest for me. I’ll be the first to admit, I suck at consistency. See also,  my exercise life and the last few years with this blog!  Look, I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all?

Here are the four books that have been extremely helpful for me:

“Four Signs of Being a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly – Provides an outline for preparing yourself for prayer and establishing consistency.

“Into the Deep” by Dan Burke – Helps create a deeper more meaningful prayer life.

“The Power of Silence” by Robert Cardinal Sarah – Focuses on blocking out external and internal noise so you can hear God.

“What I know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey – Through her life lessons, you learn how to be true to yourself in all aspects of life.

 

*Just So You Know: The first 3 books are Catholic-based. However, if you struggle with the process of intentional prayer or strive for a deeper more connected prayer life, as I do, I think you can find them full of great nuggets of information. I didn’t find them to be preachy or centered on conversion. I’m not about that life, you do you. I’m still in reading “The Power of Silence” so if it goes left at the end, my bad!

 

Do you have a prayer or mediation ritual? Do you think you’ve perfected the art of blocking out the world’s noise and listening to what God or the universe is trying to tell you?

The Takeaway

5 Takeaways: 2 Weeks Kidfree

 

Once the plan to have RJ stay in NY with his grandparents was set, I was a little nervous about how it would pan out.  He’s stayed away from home with family for a few days in the past, but this was 2 weeks. What would those weeks be like for him? What would they be like for us? He’s been back home for a week now, and I’ve had time to process 5 takeaways from 2 weeks without my child.

 

I worried, but not the way I thought

I missed RJ a lot, but I didn’t spend the time calling him every second or endlessly worrying about him.  I did worry, but it was just hoping he was enjoying himself and not driving his grandparents crazy.   We were 700 miles and 12 hours away from NY just going to get him was not an option.  Factor in that his stay got off to a rocky start and we I had a right to be a little nervous. The original plan was for him to split his two weeks between Hubby’s mom and dad’s homes.  Well, the first night at Hubby’s mom, didn’t go as planned. It was all good until that evening when they were getting ready to go to bed. She has cats, four to be exact, and RJ was extremely concerned about where the cats would sleep. That turned into an all out panic about the cats. We tried, for 30 minutes on the phone, to get him to calm down and at least spend the night, but to no avail. We went and got him. He stayed with Ralph’s dad and step-mom for the entire two weeks.  Luckily, after that slight hiccup he was fine and had a blast with Grandpa and Grandma.

 

I had to get use to being home alone with my husband

At first,  I didn’t know how to act with just the two of us in the house.  I mean my god-sister was staying with us for a day or two, but she mostly stayed in her room watching Netflix.  Suddenly being home alone with my spouse after years of young child being in the mix was different.  Yes, we have alone time on date nights or when we take trips with just the two of us, but that’s different. In those instances, you’re focused on other things. On a date, it’s the meal, movie or whatever activity is planned. On a vacation, it’s the new place, sights and sounds we’re taking in.  At home, you’re just home, looking at each other. Yes, there are “other” things, but I’m sorry I couldn’t  do those “other” things  every free minute of the day for 14 days straight! We had to find our groove again and remember what we were like before we became a family of 3.  It was great practice for years down the road when RJ leaves and it’s just us again.  Kids can’t be a buffer forever. Knowing how to live with and enjoy your spouse is important.

The joy of random date nights

If you didn’t know, we don’t have family who live in our city.  So, typically, if we want to go out we hire a sitter.  We do have friends who would likely take RJ for a few hours. However, they have their own kids and for sanity sake, we don’t like adding our kid to their mix.  Since we use sitters, we have to plan when we want to go out.  I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the two of us being able to go out on a whim and at no extra cost to us.  Hubby and I agree making more time for just the two of us is a must.  I guess I’ll be getting off of the coins more frequently!

 

The break from Mommy mode

If you’re a mom, you understand Mommy mode. The never ending cycle of  drop offs, pick ups, questions, answers, play dates, study time etc. Tirelessly trying to create a space where they don’t grow up to be too sheltered, too carefree or sociopaths! You know, balance! It can be exhausting. I’ve took our break to relax as  much as possible. When Mommy mode crept in and I started to wonder, if he was eating way too much sugar, was he driving them crazy, was he homesick, or what his hair looked like, I stopped myself, exhaled and picked up a book or a glass of wine. As long as he wasn’t calling crying or hurt, he was just fine and it was ok for me to be as well.

 

The perfect time to purge toys

My child has TONS of toys he doesn’t play with or that I’m not even sure he remembers he has. They have taken over his room and our living room. I’ve purchased numerous bins to make the collection more organized and less visible. However, it seems, the more bins I buy, the more toys come into our home.  So, I used his time away to drastically reduce his collection.  It was tough because my husband is a hoarder. Things I marked to toss, he argued needed to stay.  When it was all said and done I took two bags of toys to Goodwill.

 

We didn’t just survive the two week separation, I think each of us thrived in our own way.  Two weeks was just enough time for us enjoying being apart without missing each other terribly. Now to start planning for next year!
Upstate Living

It’s Like Riding a Bike

We had one full weekend with RJ out of town. I decided it would be the perfect time for Hubby and I to rent bikes and hop on the Swamp Rabbit Trail.  I’ve run on part of the trail and we’ve been on the trail with RJ when he was about 3. He rode his tricycle and we walked to keep up.  We don’t own bikes, though Hubby has been wanting one for a while now.  So, he was down to ride. I’d read this post  about places to rent bikes and called Swamp Rabbit Inn to reserve two. The pick-up process was easy. We arrived around 12:30pm. There wasn’t a wait and the pick-up process was fast.  The worker provided us with helmets, a map, pointed us in the direction of the trail and we were off on our adventure into the 90+ degree heat. Our plan was to ride to Traveler’s Rest and back. That would have been about 14 miles round trip.

Greenville is a big cycling town.  Like it’s serious business here. On any given weekend you are sure to run into a solo cyclist or group riding in their own little Tour de Greenville. George Hincapie, who actually raced in the Tour de France lives in the area. Now, Hubby and I both grew up riding bikes, but for fun. However, he seemed to have retained his knowledge of bike riding more than I had, but more on that later. As for me I grew up riding bikes in the country sometimes on dirt roads. So, I was not a huge fan of having to ride a bike across traffic, which as some points could be up to 4 lanes.  Right out of the gate, we had to make our way across car traffic. I wanted to walk the bikes across the street, but Hubby stayed on his seat, so I followed quickly and carefully.

Then, I began to realize I was nervous. My arms were shaking, I was swerving. Let’s not talk about how I barely kept my bike straight when approaching oncoming bike traffic. In other words, I was awful at riding a bike! Meanwhile, I husband looked as if he came out the womb on a 10 speed. I kept it together for the a while, however I was struggling with stopping at intersections and starting again. My restart after our 2nd intersection was a shaky/rocky one, couple that with oncoming bike traffic, me trying to change gears and a fence and I had a recipe for disaster. It turns out, the best way to stop a bike from moving is to press the brake, not grab onto the fence while the bike continues to roll downhill!! I’ll just say my arms have black and blue bruises and luckily my wrist was just sore and not sprained or broken.

Even though I saw my life flash before my eyes, we pedaled on. I continued to have mishaps, riding off the trail, nearly riding into massive holes, but with every mile I got better, less shaky and more in control. We cut our plan to ride to Traveler’s Rest short. It was extremely hot and though we had water with us and refilled along the trail,  we’d only had cereal for breakfast. I think cycling 14 miles would have been a bit much. Instead, we rode to the lake at Furman University which made our round trip about 8 miles.

 

When is the last time you rode a bike or did something you hadn’t done in years?

Upstate Living

The Perfect Friday Night Date

We, recently, had a Friday night to ourselves. Instead of our usual date night itinerary of dinner and heading home, we decided to add a few more stops to the evening.  We started with dinner at Kitchen Sync a fairly new restaurant I’d been wanting to try.  I’d heard good reviews and was itching to try it for myself. Like every new restaurant in Greenville, it was packed, but since we chose to sit at the high top overlooking the kitchen, we were seated right away. The reviews I’d heard were spot on! The service was great and the food was even better. I ordered the catfish with collards and grits. Hubby had the shrimp scampi pasta and zucchini noodles.

I’m not big on dessert, I’ll take an extra loaded baked potato over cake any day, but we indulged. I was happy there was a dairy free option as most restaurant desserts are centered around chocolate and/or ice cream and Hubby is trying to give up both. We settled on their Miss Betty’s Chablis Cake and it was delicious!! Who can go wrong with cake soaked in wine and butter?!

After dinner, we went downtown Greenville to Sip Whiskey and Wine rooftop bar for drinks. We were able to get shaded seating alone on one of the couches. Score! We enjoyed our drinks and and the live cover band.

After having the sweet dessert, I really wanted some salty popcorn. So, we left SIP and heading down a couple blocks to Poppington’s. They specialize in really off the wall flavors, but I’m not one for crazy flavors.  I opted for just butter and salt and Hubby got caramel.

The perfect ending to the perfect date night.

Day to Day

From a Boy to a Man in Blue

Near the end of June, we traveled to NYC to drop RJ off at his grandparents, but the main purpose of the trip was to attend my brother-in-law’s graduation from the New York City Police Academy.  When I met him, he was 12 years old. Now, 12 years later, he has found his way to realizing his dream of becoming a police officer.  I, also, love that he was able to go through this life changing experience with his best friend. As I told him, I’m happy he has someone so close who will understand the complexities of what he’s doing.

Though one of Hubby’s sisters is also a NYC officer and joined the force 12 years ago, I was not able to attend her graduation.  So, the ceremony was a new experience for me. I will say it was really nice. The ceremony was held in a theater within Madison Square Garden. It began with two of the most moving videos I’ve ever seen. I mean I was almost ready to sign up for the next academy class. Ok not really, but they were extremely well done. The NYPD band performed covers before the ceremony. The bagpipe band performed during the ceremony and Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner O’Neill spoke.  Also, because New York City is the melting pot, or salad bowl that it is, his class was extremely diverse, which was awesome! Shockingly, I did not cry, considering the fact that nearly ugly cried a few weeks earlier when my mother-in-law sent a picture of him in his uniform. I’m so happy we were able to share that day with him and our prayer is that he stays safe, does his part to keep the city safe and foster good relationships with the community he protects.

They were just pre-teens when I met the 3 of them!

Of course, there was a party!

 

Can you tell I’m a very proud big sister?!