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Someone I know recently shared the following post on Facebook:

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated…

Posted by Merih Büyükcivelek on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I encourage you to read the whole thing.  It actually contains a lovely sentiment, though I think it’s somewhat misguided.  At the end, it contains these fairly famous lines:

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Work like you don’t need money,

Love like you’ve never been hurt,

And dance like no one’s watching.

Although I understand the idea behind “work like you don’t need money,” the problem is that we actually do need it.  I am major financial support for my family.  I am the health insurance that will keep us from going bankrupt in the case of a medical emergency.  I have to work and think about the money.  Of course, we all wish we didn’t have to, but that’s the world we have created and that we have to live in.

So one problem with this advice is that for most people, it’s not doable.  The other problem is that when we look at the other ideas for happiness, they’re just so abstract.  And maybe that’s good in some ways because it makes it more applicable to more people, but how about some concrete ideas for improving happiness?  Well, another person on Facebook shared an article called “Researcher reveals 4 rituals that will make you happier.”  It’s definitely worth reading when you have a moment.  For this post, I want to focus on this tidbit:

“Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.”

Big time.  Hugs.  How simple.    According to the article, physically touching people reduces pain, and it’s not just hugs.  It’s really any meaningful contact.  The article even says, “Don’t have anyone to hug right now? […] Neuroscience says you should go get a massage.”  (Great excuse to book one today, right?) So any kind of physical human contact will do.

December is starting very soon, and I’ve decided to name it Hugcember.  My goal will be to get five hugs and to make sure that each person in my family receives five hugs.  And don’t be afraid to hug me when you see me.  I know it’s Hugcember.  You know it’s Hugcember.  Let’s try to spread a little happiness this month in a tangible way that costs no money and benefits everyone involved.  I can’t think of a better time of year to give this a try.   



Love is patient.

I, however, am not.  Not at all.  At least I feel like that tonight after walking down the stairs from putting my 2-year-old daughter to sleep.  The constant tossing and turning and refusal to just lie still so that she can fall asleep.  Aaaaahhhh!

And breath.

I try to remember this verse while I’m up there with her.

And who isn’t familiar with this I Corinthians verse?  If you’re married, this was likely read at your wedding.  I even know non-Christians that have had it read at their wedding because, well, this is what we all hope that love ends up being in our lives, and it’s hopefully what we all aspire to as humans.

You’ve probably heard the story of the mom that asked her daughter to change “love” to her boyfriend’s name to test and see if he really is showing love…or something else.  You may have also seen the challenge to replace “love” with your name:

Sarah is patient.

Sarah is kind.

Ha!  I can’t even make it first the past two.  I mean…I have my patient moments.  I have my kind moments, but mostly, I am neither.  And, is it just me, or is it often hardest to show patience to those we love the most?  It’s time to work on this.

The article “How to Become a Patient Parent” provides 10 tips to try to develop the habit of patience.  Yes, habit.  It makes sense really when you think about my article about triggering habits.  Habits, good and bad, have triggers.  If we have a bad habit, we can’t just stop it.  We have to replace it with a good habit, so if lack of patience shows itself with habits of yelling at the children, snapping at my husband, or just plain snarkiness and sarcasm, then I need to figure out what the triggers are (1st grade homework and toddler bedtime anyone?) and then replace those negative reactions with good habits.  The article has some good suggestions that I’m going to try (see the original article for the details about each one):

  1. Counting to 10
  2. Taking deep breaths
  3. Imagining that someone is watching you
  4. Teaching
  5. Laughing
  6. Loving

Let’s try, with the people that we love, to have more patience.  Love is patient.  We are patient.  We are love.  (New mantra!)  Of course, we are called to love all people, but if we can develop the habit with our families, then maybe we can apply it with strangers (like during rush hour maybe?).   Let me know how your struggle goes.  What are your triggers?  What methods do you use to help you develop a habit of patience?  What’s working?  What’s not?  Please share!

Avoiding Regret

Fill in the blanks:

I wish I had ____________________________ this morning.

I wish I hadn’t ___________________________ yesterday.

I should have ___________________________this year.

I shouldn’t have __________________________all these years.

Some of your answers probably include little regrets like

I wish I had cleaned the house this morning (so that I wouldn’t have to do it tonight).

I shouldn’t have eaten that whole bag of cookies yesterday.

These are often soon forgotten and then repeated.  Yes, I regret eating the bag of cookies, but will I do it again?  Probably.

Then there are the slightly larger regrets:

I wish I hadn’t yelled at CJ like that.

I should’ve told my husband that I loved him before he left for work.

These, we try to do better on next time.  I will be more intentional about telling my husband what he means to me, and I will try alternatives to telling at my children.  I want to avoid feeling this same regret next time, and I can try to improve.

Finally, there are the big regrets:

I wish we had visited my mother-in-law in Puerto Rico.  We shouldn’t have let lack of money keep us from seeing her.

We should have made CJ stand in a picture with her when we visited her in New York over a year ago.

I shouldn’t have let my husband go so long without seeing her after we were married.

These are things that we can’t do anything about now.  This past Monday morning, my mother-in-law passed away, and both my husband and I are full of regrets.  Nothing can change that we didn’t visit her, that CJ will never get to see her again (even though he had been asking for months to see to her again), and that we will never have a picture of them together.  My heart aches for those things.  My husband’s heart aches for all the years when he didn’t visit and rarely called.  It hurts him to know that even though, recently, the calls were more frequent and the relationship was so much better, he won’t get to see her or talk to her again and that he never got to say goodbye.

How do we avoid this type of regret?  I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve spent many nights lying in bed thinking about it this week.

  1. When we are with people that we care about, we need to make the most of every moment with them.  We really don’t know if that will be the last time we see them.  If we had known August 2013 would be the only time CJ would see his abuela, then we would’ve made him stand for a picture with her.  We would’ve taken some video.  We would’ve preserved those precious memories.
  2. Love people, and show them that you love them. My husband loved his mother, but he didn’t always show it.  That’s where the feelings of regret are born.  We get so busy in our lives that we assume that people know that we love them, and really, I’m sure they do.  However, if we want to avoid regret once they’re gone, we need to tell them and show them the love.  It makes them feel good, and it will result in less regret later for us.  We know we did our best and showed our best.
  3. Listen.  Listen to the voices around you and in your head.  If you believe in God, in guardian angels, in the Holy Spirit, then listen to them.  They are guiding you toward the right path, and if you listen to them, you’ll feel no regret.  If you don’t believe in these things, listen to your conscience–that little voice in the back of your mind is surprisingly perceptive and often acts similarly to a guardian angel, nagging you about something that you’re missing, that you’ve forgotten, that is about to go awry.  If you have children in your life, listen to them.  They know how to really live.  They don’t understand the same constraints that often hold us adults back (time, money, complex relationship dynamics).  If a child wants to do it and the reason you give them for not doing it is any of these types of things, you might think about it again and ask yourself if not doing it might cause some big regret later.

If you look at articles about regret, generally they’re about relationships and how we wronged them or, at the least, didn’t try our best at them, or they’re about how we wasted our time doing less important things (instead of focusing on our relationships with people).  All we can do to avoid regret is to nourish our relationships–act purposefully towards others and love them–and when we mess up, the only thing left to do is forgive ourselves and hope that those who have moved on from this life realized how much we loved them.

As we head into the New Year, let’s resolve to make the most of the time that we’re given with the people we love, to show them we love them, and to listen and not let less important things get in the way of living.

How do you avoid regret?  How do you get over feelings of regret?  Please share in the comments below!

Be the miracle

We can’t be who we are now or become who we are going to be without our past experiences, and sometimes those past experiences, however insignificant or frivolous they may seem, intersect and connect themselves in the brain to form an idea.  5 experiences/pieces of knowledge have led me to one idea:  Need a Miracle, Be a Miracle.

#1 – You’re probably all familiar with the story of the woman who is stuck on the roof of her house during a flood.  She has faith that God will save her.  Several people come to rescue her, but she refuses their help saying that God will rescue her.  In the end, she dies because she failed to see that God tried to save her by sending people to rescue her.   One obvious take away from this story is that God helps us by sending His people to us.  We are the ones who do God’s work here on Earth.

#2 – That story always leads me to think of the movie Bruce Almighty.  At the end of the movie, God tells Bruce to “be the miracle,” and Bruce ends up adopting that as his new tagline.

I love this message.  In the movie, God is saying that we do miraculous things in our own lives.  We can be miracles for ourselves, but I think we can also be miracles to others.

#3 – Which leads to the message of Pay it Forward.  You do 3 things for 3 different people, but like the main character says, they have to be big things, things that the people can’t do for themselves.

The people who paid it forward in this movie were performing miracles, don’t you think?  With all the horrible things happening in the world right now, imagine if everyone started performing miracles for each other.

#4 – This past weekend, I heard a couple of guys talking on our local Christian radio station about how they always hear people say, “If I only had more money, I could do so much good.”  Even I have caught myself thinking, “When I’m finally out of debt and have some money saved, then I’ll be able to give so much.”  They explained, though, that money is not a prerequisite to doing good.  They gave the apostle Paul as an example.  All he did was write letters to comfort friends, and look at the huge impact he has had on Christian faith.

#5 – Recently, we’ve been short on money due to my husband being short on work, so I’ve been trying to sell Ada’s old baby stuff and other odds and ends that we don’t use any more on some of the local buy, sell, and trade Facebook sites.  A woman finally messaged me about buying a huge lot (50+ items) of 0-3 month baby clothing.  When we met, she told me that her husband is the pastor at a local church and that she was buying the clothing for a woman that was having a baby and was going to be a single mother.  I was so happy to hear that the clothing was going to a good cause, and the more I thought about it, the clearer this new idea became in my head…

What if there were a site to match people that needed miracles with people that wanted to be miracles for those people?  We don’t always have the resources to help everyone that we want to, but we might just have exactly what someone needs more than anything at that moment:  clothing, food, someone to talk to, a referral to a good church, etc.  A single mother could come on to the site and say, “I need 0-3m clothing,” and another person could say, “I have 0-3m clothing.  Here.”  To her, someone giving her a pile of free clothing for her new baby might be just the miracle she needed so that she could save money for formula, diapers, and wipes.  We all have things we don’t want, need, or use anymore.  Those things might just be someone else’s miracle.

So I started a Facebook group to get things started.   It’s Christmas, and Christmas is about giving.  Let’s try to be a miracle for at least one person this season!

If you need a miracle, please visit  Need a Miracle, Be a Miracle  and post what you need.  Read the pinned post for specific post requirements.

If you want to be someone’s miracle, read the posts by others.  Comment and connect (pm) with anyone you would like to help.  Be sure to also read the pinned post for some guidelines and tips on helping others.

Either way, please share the group on Facebook.  Get the word out!

A final note – As I went to Facebook to set up this group that I was so excited about starting, I read a few posts on my timeline.  One of them was from a local buy, sell, and trade group that I joined a few months ago.  Someone was warning everyone about a women that was asking for free baby items to a help a family in need.  Then, she was turning around and selling those items for a profit on other pages.  This hit my heart so deeply.  I started to question whether starting Need a Miracle, Be a Miracle was a good idea.  It might just be welcoming people like that–people that would take advantage of other people’s kindness.  Did I really want to deal with that or perhaps even be contributing to it by providing a spot for it?  I thought about it and prayed about it, and I finally realized that I can’t let the fear of what might happen stop me from helping others.  I hope others feel the same.

How have you been “a miracle” to others this season?  Share your inspiring stories here!


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