Archives

Struggles Lead to Strength

gratitude

Without the struggles I have endured, I would not be able to appreciate the strength I have gained. For that, today I am grateful. I could look at my life and focus on the negatives: Working two jobs to make ends meet… Living across the country from family and friends… Falling into bed at night from pure exhaustion. But if I did that, I would be living my life miserably.

I have to wake up each day in gratitude. When life gets tough, it is SO easy to have a pity party. Those struggles I’ve endured have led me to where I am today. I kinda like who I have become. I appreciate every little minute detail in my life, because I have been through some very challenging times. On some days, I have to remember the hard times of struggle, and realize that today, I am living in the solution.

Today, my life is FAR from struggle-free. However, I choose each day to get into, and remain in, gratitude! It’s a pretty damn good place to be!

~ Patti Crowley

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Where is Home?

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I have now been in Arizona for 15 months, and soon will be heading back to Chicago to visit for the first time since I moved. You know the saying… “Home is where the heart is.”  I believe this to be true today more than ever. Although my mailing address is in Arizona, a HUGE part of my heart will always be with those I love back in Chicago. Luckily, I have made so many new friends in my new location which has given me even more reasons to love my life surrounded by the desert mountains.

Those who have not moved around may not completely understand the quote above. I have been given the opportunity to experience the “richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”. How lucky am I? 🙂

The only drawback to moving across the country is not truly being able to identify where “home” really is. I love my life in Arizona, but at this particular time, my adult children, family, and many friends are back in Chicago. It is as if I live in the midst of two separate, yet deeply connected worlds. It has recently occurred to me that when I think of a place called home, it really does not exist.

So, I suppose home really is where the heart is. It exists wherever those I love exist. It is really not a physical place, but a feeling. In two weeks, I will go back home to Chicago to visit. Then, when the visit is over, I will return home to Arizona. Isn’t it a beautiful thing?

~ Patti Crowley

The Dream No One Sees

dream

Today is my 48th birthday! I celebrate it with a small circle of friends, and sadly, long distance with my family. Birthdays tend to be a time of reflection for me. I look back at all of the things I wish I would have done, things I did that I regret, but more importantly, things for which I am grateful.

I am sure that some would look at my life and see the chaotic twists and turns, the decisions I have made, and also the mistakes. I experience moments when I wonder how I got here… how my life has brought me to where I am today. I have made so many changes in my life over the years, with the biggest probably being the move I made across country to Arizona last year.

I have made choices based on my gut… decisions which to others may appear to be impulsive. But in reality, I have been following a dream that no one can see except me. One important lesson I have learned is that I no longer have to explain myself to anyone. I know what I want… I know in my heart the peace that I seek. Others may question my dreams… they may even call me silly… and that is okay. I have risked quite a bit to get where I am, and I have made so many mistakes along the way. However, I will never apologize or try to explain searching for a dream of which only I know.

I would rather search aimlessly attempting to fulfill a dream, than to spend the rest of my life without a dream for which to search at all!

~ Patti Crowley

Don’t Look Back… You’re Not Going That Way

don't look back

If I drove my car while looking back… I would surely crash. So why is it that I have lived my life looking back? Every decision I have made, seems to be rooted in the past. Failures or mistakes of the past have colored these decisions. Every new experience causes me to wonder if I will make the same mistakes, or will result in the same failures.

I may be a slow learner, but at least I am learning! I am coming to believe that if I focus on today, knowing that I am a different (maybe even better) person than I was in the past, it is not necessary to repeat the past. How many times have we failed to hear our friend’s laughter, the sound of the birds chirping, the smell of honeysuckle flowers which came into bloom recently? We were never able to lay claim to them because we were so lost in our own thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow.

Staying in today, staying in the NOW…. this is the only way to grow. Looking back and living in the past will keep you stuck, not allowing you to grow and change into the person you were meant to be.

This instant is the only time there is. ~ Gerald Jampolsky

Turn your head around… stop looking over your shoulder… stop judging yourself so harshly for mistakes you’ve made. Today is a new day. It may very well be the start of your new life. Go forward, and don’t look back!

~ Patti Crowley

I Got Something Perfectly Right

perfectAfter six long months, my adult children have come to Arizona. It is the first time I’ve seen them since I moved here from Chicago in June of 2014. My daughter has moved here permanently, and my 22 year old son is visiting. Life is good!

My decision to move across the country was met with much judgment and many questions, as I’ve chronicled in previous blog posts. I was looked at as selfish by a few of my closest friends, while others completely supported my decision to better my life and start anew. Regardless, I have held fast to the belief that this move was something I was meant to do, and had been waiting for my entire life.

Now that my children are here, I have this feeling that I’ve done something perfectly right… after a lifelong gnawing voice had been telling me I was not perfect. I now fully realize that I will never be perfect, and I have stopped trying to be. However, when I look at my kids, I realize I did do something perfectly right… right for them and right for me.

If the decisions we make throughout our lives have good intentions, then what we have done has been done perfectly right. It does not matter how others view our decisions. They are not living in our shoes… they have not had our experiences… they simply do not know the whole story. Every lesson I have ever taught my children, every piece of advice I have ever offered, and every word I have ever said was taught, offered, or uttered with love and good intentions. If that is truly the case, then how could I have achieved any result that is even less than perfect?

I choose to look back on my life with pride. I am not saying I never made any mistakes… hell, no!  Instead, I am simply saying that I always hoped for the best and did what I thought was best at the time. You could never ask for more than that.

~ Patti Crowley

Life Moves Pretty Fast!

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This quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of my all time favorites. However, isn’t it funny that we can hear quotes like this over and over, but we ignore the message. Yesterday, I was on my early evening run, and I noticed some beautiful fall blooms. As this is my first fall here in Arizona, I am constantly seeing new things, and these flowers were so pretty that I had to stop. But unfortunately, I stopped just long enough to snap a quick photo with my iPhone so that I could post on Facebook when I got back.

Did I breathe in their sweet fragrance? Did I linger just long enough to truly appreciate their beauty? Nope! I snapped the photo quick and got right back to my run. Now don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that I do not enjoy the views while I run, but the fact that I stopped long enough only to take a photo speaks volumes about the way many of us, myself included, live our lives.

I have to admit that I am getting much better at opening my eyes and seeing, truly seeing, what is around me. Ever since moving here this past June, I marvel at the views of the mountains on my drive into work each day. Last night, I was driving to a girlfriend’s home at sunset. Up north, there was this gorgeous set of isolated cloud formations in view. Within that formation, there was intermittent lightning, and it was spectacular. I found myself smiling at the wheel, loving the light show.

But the beauty does not end with nature. So many of us would rather text each other, skype, or send messages on Facebook than actually get together and spend time with each other. We say that life is busy. Now that may be true, but life should never be so busy that we avoid that personal connection, that face-to-face time with each other. I miss so many of my family and friends back in Illinois, and have no choice but to rely on technology to maintain the connection for now. But how many of us have our family and friends within reach, yet we rely on texting as our main means of communication?

Worse yet… how many of us find that even when we are in the presence of our family and friends, we are still looking at our phones?! I see this every single day! Sitting at a cafe having lunch yesterday, I watched a family sitting together at a table. The father was on his phone, and one of his daughters was also on her phone. The mother looked off to the side, watching others in the cafe. It made me sad.

This video says it all. Please take just a few minutes to watch this. It’s message is invaluable.

Put Down Your Phone

So even if just for today… Let’s commit to putting down our phones and looking around!

~ Patti Crowley

 

A Stranger on the Corner

This morning I was on my way to work when I saw a man with a sign looking for help. I have always wondered how anyone could stand on a corner in 100 degree heat begging for money, when instead, they could be out looking for a job. But this morning, something inside of me changed. I sat at the light and looked at that man. He had kind eyes. For what felt like an eternity, I thought about my own situation. Money has been so tight, and I barely make it between paychecks. I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce expenses, make more money, and find a way to get ahead.

Then I looked at this gentle soul standing there in the brutal heat, while I am sitting in my air-conditioned car. As low as I am on funds this particular week, I reached in my purse and found only three dollars. I pulled the money out and held it in my hand. I watched as he walked back toward the intersection with a defeated look on his face as driver after driver looked away from him in avoidance. I opened my window and called out to him.

As he approached my car, I felt this overwhelming compassion for this man about whom I knew nothing. As I handed him the money, I made a weak apology for only having a few bucks. He said, “Every dollar helps. God bless you.” Tears welled up in my eyes, and I quietly said to him, “This Too Shall Pass”.

giving

Why I felt so much emotion at this small gesture, I am unsure. What I do know is that it gave me the most incredible feeling of joy and peace. This may seem like such a trite thing to some reading this, but I assure you, this little act of kindness did way more for me than it probably did for him.

I remember my mother always saying to me that it is better to give than receive. Honestly, those words never meant much to me. I do, however, remember the feeling I got when someone opened a present from me that I was so excited to give. But giving is so much more than picking out the perfect pair of earrings for your mother or getting those concert tickets that your daughter has been wanting so desperately. It is about the feelings the act of giving evokes within.

It is embarrassing to admit that when I held the three dollars in my hand, I momentarily thought that I needed the cash to buy a Coke Zero later. Handing that money to someone in need touched my soul, and only made me want more of that feeling.

As Maya Angelou says in the quote above, “No one has ever become poor from giving”. Today, I am simply inspired!

~ Patti Crowley