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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Day 27

Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go on.
--Andrew Jackson

I sure hope he credited his mama for those words of wisdom. I know that's where he heard them first.

Life is the sum of small decisions. Everyday, I face choices, some of which I would rather avoid. But even when I skirt around them, or delay them by agonizing over the details and possible consequences, or ignore them, I'm making a decision.

I love my mother-in-law. She is organized, kind, deliberate in her actions, conscientious about making her house a home even though her children are grown and married. She has difficulty making decisions, however. For example, she will shop every store in town looking for the perfect curtain rod. Not because she can't find anything she likes, but because she fears leaving unexplored options on the table. Meanwhile, the bare windows provide no privacy.

We are the decisions we make and the ones we let other people make for us and the ones we refuse to make and the ones we can't make. Where we end up when all is said and done greatly depends on all the little choices. Finding the balance between deliberating our options and taking action says a lot about who we are and what we value. Certainly, curtain rods won't throw off the course of my mother-in-law's life, but is thinking a little longer worth its weight in time she could spend doing something else more rewarding?

Southern ladies don't necessarily leap into things, letting their skirts fly over their heads for the whole world see their foundation garments. But they certainly don't sit around wringing their hands about the little stuff, either. Because, it's up to us to model lives well-lived, time well-spent, for those who are watching our every step.

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to sit around and think about living fearlessly, or are you going to get up and go do it?

TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: It's about making a choice of course! Have you ever watched an old movie in which a character approaches the bar and the bartender asks, "What'll it be?" The hero or heroin responds, "The usual, Wallace," and the bartender says, "Sure thing. A strained Tom Collins, no ice, two olives, and a dash of V-8 coming right up."

Okay, I ad libbed quite a bit, but you get the picture. Our character in question is known by his/her own personal drink. I think you know where I'm headed with this. Today, you've got to choose your drink; the one that says who you are, the one that friends and family know you by, the usual. Is it chocolate milk on ice? Is it Diet Coke with a twist of lemon and a dash of leftover coffee from the morning brew? Is it an Upside Down Southern Belle with a parasol?

You decide.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Southern Girls Living Fearlessly - Day 26

" . . . live life as a work of art, rather than as a chaotic response to external events . . ."
--Mihaly Csikszentmehalyi (Bet you can't say that name 5 times, fast.)

There are days, like today, when I wake up overwhelmed by my life; burdened by a daily schedule that allows no time for silently standing still to take a breath and appreciate just where I am in the course of things. No, I've got to get four kids out of bed, make sure they're wearing appropriate school clothes, hustle them downstairs to make lunches and eat breakfast, herd them out the door to school, get them there on time, and get myself to work. Then work, work, work. After that, I run children to soccer practices and games, ballet, the store to get supplies for oh-my-gosh-mama-I-forgot-about-it-and-it's-due-tomorrow school projects, dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, youth group, etc. etc. And somewhere in the mix I've got to find a minute to cook dinner, help with homework, and have meaningful conversations with the people I love.

My husband and I often look at each other, in that rare instance when we can pull our heads up from the task at hand, and ask, "When did everything get so crazy?" Sometimes I feel like the only thing I can control is the pages of my calendar where I write down all of our obligations. After that, I just bounce from one thing to the next, trying my best to survive the unpredictable chaos that so often defines my existence.

Survival mode, however, tweaks the garden club member in me, who knows that life is more than just responding to turmoil, both inner and external. It's more than checking off days on the calendar. She makes herself known, rising to the top of my psyche, reminding me, "Lucy, you can lump it or like it, BUT sugah, you chose it. So suck in that bottom lip and learn to enjoy it. No one likes a complainer or a whiner, so make your day the best it can be."

That's when the poor, poor, pitiful me, who was ping-ponging through the afternoon gets her come-uppence. It's no way to live. The business of daily life is only an excuse for not living a beautiful, better existence. And the fearless woman is always living better than anyone else.

I was not meant to be a frenzied carpool mom. I was meant to be fearless. I fearlessly make my life a work of art when I take the kids to the drive-through car wash and we ooh and ahh like we did when they were little. I make art when I ask them to tell me one good thing about their day at school instead of nagging them about homework. I create beauty in my life when I light a candle, or brew a cup of green tea, or read excerpts from literature to my children, or write down home decorating ideas, or even smell that clean fresh scent of my children's clothes for the next day.

TODAY'S ASSIGNMENT: Buffer yourself against the hard knocks of daily life by living today as work of art. Listen to your garden club persona. She's trying to tell you that you are bigger than unexpected dips, dives, and detours in the day. You control the beauty of your life just by the attitude you express toward it.

Take time today to decorate your home for the season. Make it a warm, cozy retreat that pleases your senses and expresses your creativity. Light a candle, place a pumpkin on your doorstep, place an arrangement of fall flowers on the kitchen table. These simple acts allow you to embrace the day, rather than fear the havoc it may bring.