The Number One Thing Everyone Should Have On Their Bucket List

It’s midnight and I am sitting on the porch with a teeny bit of caramel pecan ice cream and a cup of tea watching the lightening storm. Normally I love watching the magnificence of Mother Nature when she decides to hurl a good prairie storm my way. Lightening flashing across the wide open Northern Canadian sky can be a very awe inspiring experience.

Not tonight. Tonight I am watching it warily, like a prison guard watching a crafty inmate who likes to suddenly escape, causing mayhem and havoc before being shackled and wrestled into submission once again.

My ten-year old daughter is sitting beside me, nervously watching too. Every time the sky is illuminated by a particularly bright flash and immediately followed by a huge clap of thunder, she flinches.

“Wow, I felt that one shake the ground and come up through my toes,” I say as I glace her way. Even though she is fighting hard against it, her face scrunches slightly and her big green eyes fill with tears. I slide closer to her so I can tuck the blanket more tightly around us and put my arm around her slim shoulders. She’s worried about her best friend; her six year old Welsh-Arab pony named Bella.

I understand her worry; I am feeling it too. We are three girls living on a 160 acre farm, 30 minutes from town and are currently in the middle of a couple of severe forest fires ripping through the northern part of our province. Now is not a good time for a massive lightening storm, especially a dry one. We desperately need some rain to sooth the fury of Mother Nature’s wrath but that isn’t going to happen tonight.

BOOOOM!

“One, two, three, four,” she counts quietly. “Four. It’s only four kilometers away.” I pull her a little closer and gently kiss the top of her head.

“It’s more like a guideline than a hard fact,” I tease, trying to lighten the mood.

What would I do if we were given an emergency evacuation notice?, I think to myself.

I alone am responsible for two little girls, eight horses, a dog and two cats. Thirteen living souls are counting on me; thirteen to one ratio.

As the weight of that responsibility starts to press down on me, I resolutely shake off. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I have to be real and make some kind of a plan in case the worst happens.

I stare unseeingly at the night sky as I mentally walk through each room. What would I take? What is irreplaceable?

I shake my head, somewhat surprised at the mental list I have complied: one week’s worth of clothes for each of us, pictures and photo albums, laptop and two external hard drives, the two tea cups that belonged to my grandmother and the blanket she made me when I was a baby.

Everything else is just stuff.

If the house burned to the ground, I might be hard pressed to remember half of what we lost. For the most part, it’s all just worthless stuff that clutters up my life.

I wrap my finger around a soft, dark curl just above my daughter’s ear and I know without a doubt that the only thing that isn’t replaceable is this little girl curled up in my arms. The expression a house isn’t a home without family, pops into my mind. I feel the truth of those words course through my body as surely as I feel the vibrations of the thunder.

It all boils down to family; that’s what matters most. My life would be an empty shell without my family.

If your house was on fire and suddenly a big blue genie appeared and said, “You can save your house and everything in it or you can save your family. You can’t have both. You have to choose.” I can’t imagine that anyone would choose their material possessions over their family. That’s a pretty simple conclusion.

However, here is observation that maybe isn’t as plainly obvious as the last: if we would all choose our families over material things, then why aren’t we doing that every day?

The most important thing in any human’s existence is its relationships with other humans. So why do they often take a back seat to everything else in our lives? Why do we treat the people we love with less kindness, respect and consideration than we give our co-workers or casual acquaintances?

When your time on this earth comes to its inevitable end, who will be there to hold your hand and kiss your cheek as you close your eyes for the last time? That vacation house, sports car, Coach purse or ATV that you worked so hard to get certainly won’t care when you are gone.

Making a bucket list is rather trendy and cool right now. However, I doubt that many people have “Making my family a priority” as item number one on their list.

This week I challenge you to evaluate all the people in your life and decide who are the most valuable and important. Are you making them a priority? Do you treat them better than all of the other less important people in your life? Do you love and care for them the way they deserve?

If you answered “No” to any of the above, then you have some work to do this week.

Your life will become so much richer and more meaningful if you do. That’s a promise.

 

Slugs and Hummingbirds: Looking for Little Miracles

When I made the decision to start writing this blog, I took my laptop outside and sat on the porch with a latte and let the serenity of my farm inspire me as I wrote for the first time.

My two daughters joined me: my ten-year old took the seat beside me with her book about unicorns while Brooklynn ran happily through the sprinkler and explored as only a four-year old can do.

 

“Wook Mommy. I found a wittle cweach-ar!” Brooklynn says as she races up the porch steps on her short little legs, and thrusts her dirty hand under my nose.

Chelisa looks up from her book, “Eeeeeew! That’s a slug. GROSS!”

Highly offended, Brookie cradles her prize close to her chest.

“It’s not gwose Sheesha! It’s a cweach-ar. It’s not a spide-a. He doesn’t have wegs so he won’t ca-wall on mommy when she’s sweeping.”

(We had a spider incident in the middle of the night a few days ago but that’s another story)

I laugh to myself, pretty much convinced that Brooklynn’s love of creepy, crawly things will one day grow into a career in entomology.

 

That moment with the slug could have been a little miracle: the innocent wonder over a yucky little slug, the humorous interaction between sisters, even the joy that I felt writing my first blog with one daughter curled up comfortably beside me and the other squealing as she ran through the sprinkler.

Slowly the girls wander back inside in search of different pursuits.

As I continue to sit quietly on the porch, a feeling that I can hardly describe fills me up from my toes to my ears as I write. I think it’s a mixture of contentment and peace that comes from believing you are on the right path.

Suddenly, hear a tremendous buzzing to my left. It sounds like the biggest bumblebee on the planet and I am not afraid to admit that I am intimidated! Cautiously, I look out of the corner of my eye, wondering if I should go in search of a baseball bat to defend myself.

It’s not a bee.

It’s a hummingbird!

This really is a little miracle.

Now, this might not seem like much of a miracle to most people but I have lived on this farm for seven years and have sat on my porch hundreds of times….

…. never once have I seen a hummingbird. I do not have a hummingbird feeder and I plant the same flowers in pots every year.

Winter in Northern Canada can be very harsh and you do not go outside unless you have to. As a result, we spend as much time outside as we can in the summer; it’s short but sweet. The last four days have been gloriously hot and I have been outside the majority of the time.

Each time I have sat down on the porch to write in the past four days, the hummingbird has returned.

If that isn’t a little miracle, I don’t know what is!

 

I hope you are enjoying your search for little miracles.

Don’t forget to shift your thoughts when negative stuff starts to take over (I work hard at this every day. It’s not always easy but totally achievable).

Looking for miracles creates a sense of excitement and joy, leaving no room for the negative. Shift your perspective and letting the little miracles come to you!

 

Sunshine, Carrots and Soft Horse Kisses

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, my beloved Gabriel is at the kitchen window and my children are giggling as they feed him a bag of carrots.

I grab my camera and start snapping madly, hoping to capture the magic of the moment unfolding before me.

Gabriel has shoved his big black and grey head through the small window and his soft, furry lips are tickling up and down my youngest daughter’s arm as he searches for more tasty treats. She is squealing in delight and my older daughter is looking at the empty bag of carrots and tugging at my arm, “We fed him all the carrots, can I give him an apple now?”

Obviously she doesn’t want the fun to end and I completely understand why. This is magic.

I run my hand through her soft hair absentmindedly as I let the thoughts roll freely through my mind and relish in the joy that is coursing through me.

For all the hardship I have endured on this farm as a single mom, we have also had some incredible moments. Few people will ever experience this. I am truly blessed, I think to myself

I shared a short version of this experience with a friend via text. This was his reply:

“Miracles are a part of everyone’s life every day. Most people are blinded by negativity, routine, dullness, hate, selfishness……You are one of the very blessed.”

What an interesting perspective. I had always thought that other people simply do not have the cool experiences that I do (I guess that kind of ego centric). The fresh perspective that my friend offered suggests that they do have those experiences, but they allow the negativity of their experiences to blind them to the miracles all around.

I love the idea that cool moments aren’t just moments, they are little miracles. Water doesn’t have to be turned to wine for it to be considered a miracle. Giggling children and soft horse kisses are miracles too.

It’s all about your perspective and how you choose to view the world.
Happiness is not something you have to work at. It’s not something that you find in the arms of another person. It’s not a new car or a new pair of shoes (although I have to admit that it’s a pretty close second).

I have recognized for many years that I find almost every crazy thing that happens to me funny in some way: Flat tire? Sure it kinda sucks but it’s also really funny when you aren’t strong enough to get the bolts off the tire so you have to stand on the tire iron and jump up and down while holding onto the hood for dear life. My life has been a series of events that would make most people break down and cry; I usually laugh instead. I see adventure more often than hardship.

When I said as much to my friend, he replied, “It’s your heart. I know some people that go to self improvement classes constantly but still struggle….The few that have “it” naturally are soo lucky. The world needs more.”

Do I have a gift for seeing miracles rather than hardship?

I don’t think so. I believe that I see the funny rather than the hardship because it feels better. We are so inundated with stress and negativity that they have become natural to us. I am not different than everyone else. I simply choose to see the world in a different light.

I choose not to be a victim of circumstance, past or present. I choose not to let the stress of life diminish the little miracles.

You can too.

This week I challenge you to open your eyes to the miracles all around you. When you feel stressed or find negative thoughts creeping into your head say:

I choose to see joy, miracles and laughter instead of this.

And then let it go. Really and truly let it go. Breathe out the negative and immediately look for a little miracle to shift your thoughts and feelings. Do you see a butterfly on a flower? Is there a child laughing somewhere? Maybe there’s a new baby smiling at his mother. Turn up your favorite song and sing or dance with all your heart.

Choose to let in the joy and release the negative because it does not serve you.
It is often useful to keep a journal of what helped you shift your perspective and embrace small miracles.

As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and journey to The Life You Want. You never know when your experience may help someone else just when they need it most!

Love, hugs and warmest wishes for a magnificent week!