Dream Big, Pray Bigger

Card from Nat 2019 / TiffanyAOlson.com

 

Dream Big, Pray Bigger. These words are the gift my 15-year-old daughter gave to me for my birthday this year. On the other side of the card she told me that this was the phrase she had chosen for me as my, “inspirational quote for the year.”

As I read through the card I became teary because what followed was a list of all the things she’s watched me dream about (I tend to dream out loud), struggle through, fail at and keep pursuing. Here is what she sees… “running every day, becoming a motivational speaker, an author, a successful business owner (which you already are), traveling the world, remodeling your dream home (this touched my heart because we live in a triple wide. Not exactly my dream home but we are working with what we have.) , or watching your kids grow up right.” Towards the end, she reminded me that all dreams are worth pursuing but at the center of those dreams is God. “God has a plan and he wants us to pray and have faith if nothing else.”

She acknowledged that she doesn’t see me trying to pursue these things apart from God but wanted to encourage me for those days when I get discouraged that He is the source for the dreams and for my life. When I read her words it was like, “this is it!” This is exactly my heart,  who I am,  what makes me tick and where I want to be.

Dream Big, Pray Bigger…

I have spent so much time in the last several years trying to figure out what’s next, what am I good at, what do people that know me see as my “thing”. Do you know who I never asked? My kids. Why? Because I was afraid of what they would say. They see the day in, day out nitty-gritty of my life. The yelling, the frustration, the over chattiness (my 13-year-old son stopped me mid-sentence the other day because he was concerned about what was going to come out of my mouth. Apparently, he thinks I don’t have a filter. Go figure.) Mr. Wonderful chose me, they didn’t. They are under this roof for 18 years by no choice of their own. I never asked because I didn’t want to hear them say something negative.

To have her take the time to really look at my life, her mom’s life and point all that she sees me striving for was truly an amazing gift. She’s watching, she believes in me and she knows that I believe in a God who desires me to use my dreams to point the people I encounter along the way to his throne of grace, mercy and forgiveness.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt 6:33

On a side note, my son also gave me the gift of words for my birthday this year. His was no less touching or special but I howled laughing when I noted that Natalie’s card was hand painted and Bridger’s was made completely out of duct tape. CARD FROM B / TiffanyAOlson.com

Both cards will be treasured forever.

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

What Is Success?

the 1/2 / Tiffanyaolson.com

 

You don’t want to be successful. Your not desperate enough or you haven’t been kicked hard enough to do whatever it takes to succeed in your eating habits and your financial life.

These words were spoken to me a few weeks back by someone who I dearly love and who dearly loves me. I didn’t however, feel very loving towards them as these words were spoken. Not only that but it has taken me a while to process through those words and decide what is true and what I need to let go of.

It’s easy to throw out a blanket statement. You see what you want to see and then produce some words you think someone needs to hear. Problems arise though when you don’t see their heart nor take note of how they are wired and start using your own definition of success to define someone else’s life.

To be fair I was lamenting about how hard the last several years have been and that I can’t seem to find my footing. I regretted being this honest as soon as the words came out of my mouth, because the reality is, I like my life. There are not many of us however who can’t deny that the idea of being a few pounds lighter and having a few more pennies in our pockets sounds heavenly. I guess what I was getting at is that I was wishing life was a little easier and what I got in return was…

You don’t want it bad enough.

In some ways he’s right. I recently read the book, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I gleaned some things out of it I really needed to hear and I also set aside what I knew would never work for me. Like the part about her workaholic lifestyle and constantly being on the move and being so stressed out that she got Bell’s Palsy… twice. When I read this, everything in me screamed… “I soooo do not want that life!” I am not even remotely wired that way. The few years I put in that much effort in I was awarded with stage 3a breast cancer.

Don’t get me wrong. I get up between 3:00 and 4:00 am Monday thru Friday. I work out, go to work, make dinner do laundry and shuttle our teenagers around after school. After dinner, however, you can find me on the couch reading. I do not have the perfectionist gene so at times, while I am on the couch there are dirty dishes in the sink, laundry that needs to be folded, or a floor that needs vacuuming.

As loud and obnoxious as I can be and as much as I want to make a “difference” in this world, I’m old school with the whole raising kids thing. I only have 5 years left with them under my roof and I want to be here, I want to be present, in person, to help them navigate life while I still play a large roll in it. This means that I leave the office at 3:00, I take them where they need to go, I chat with them about their days and whatever issues they are working through. They are my people.

Maybe I have thought about those words so much in the last several weeks because it’s forced me to take the time to determine what success means to me and what I am willing to risk to achieve it. The truth is when I take stock of my life I don’t think success has much to do with a number on a scale or how much is in my bank account. These things are important and I am constantly working on both but overall I always go back to God, family, and friends. Those are the things I put most of my efforts and energy into. I certainly have dreams and things I would like to do but this situation was a reminder to me that when I am tempted to lament my current circumstances I need to measure up those feelings to my definition of success so I can hold my head high and be grateful for the life I have chosen.

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

gagala2019 / TiffanyAOlson.com

Gala – March 2019

 

Tiffany

Enjoyment Leads To Progress.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

I was prompted the other day to make two lists. One listing all of the things I “should” do, today, this week, this month this year etc. The second list was a list of all the things I could do that would bring me great joy. I don’t particularly like these little exercises because I’m not a very deep thinker and I fret that my answers don’t sound very mature or educated. What’s funny is I am the only one reading them but I still feel like they should have a bit more depth and I struggle that I can’t seem to find any.

After I got over myself and began to make the lists I realized that my should do list and my could do list were almost identical. It was kind of nice to see that a lot of the things I should be doing, working, running, writing, working out, and cooking are all things that bring me great joy. What was also interesting was to look at the lists and realize how much effort I have to put in to get myself to do these things each day.

Why are things that bring great joy difficult to begin? Because every single one of those things is hard for me. I don’t excel at any of it. What I do at our office doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to focus and be detailed with paperwork and processes. My favorite part? Interacting with our clients and catching up on their lives, I love the people part, the detailed paperwork? Not so much.

Running and working out make me feel great when I look back at what I have accomplished for the day but I am a bit on the fluffy side right now and well, let’s be honest even when I am not fluffy I am not great at either one. Yes, I am putting in the work and yes it makes me feel good about myself. But, it’s a struggle to get out that door 5 days a week when I am also aware that in the gym classes I am consistently one or two moves behind everyone else and out on the road I can always be found at the back of the pack.

Ready to Run! / TiffanyAOlson.com

26.2 Baby! Spring, 2018

I didn’t learn how to cook until I got married. I didn’t get married until I was 30. I always joked that Mr. Wonderful, Rachel Ray and Pioneer Woman taught me everything I know. What I really loved to do was bake. When the kids were little and the days were rainy, we baked. I measured the ingredients and they dumped everything into the bowls and mixed it all together. I so enjoyed that time with them and what we were able to create together. What greater joy there then making something yummy from nothing with the people you love most?

Easter Cake 2014 / Tiffanyaolson.com

Easter! 2014

In my post breast cancer world, I have attempted to be much healthier. I still find joy in creating something amazing but changing how you do everything midstream is difficult and not nearly as fun or tasty as it once was. I have not mastered the art of making vegetables taste so good that my family is overwhelmed with joy at what is placed before them. There are many nights when my 13-year-old son doesn’t eat because lentils and kale make him want to gag.

And then there is the writing. Once I get going and get in the zone, time flies, the thoughts keep coming and the world around me fades away. The key phrase above is “once I get going,” I am getting better at sitting down and forcing my fingers to move until something begins to formulate but I have a ways to go. Writing is my therapy. When I was 15 we moved from Eugene, Oregon to Coronado, California. (Poor Me, Right?) My mom gave me a journal and told me to use it to process my thoughts and feelings regarding all of the changes we were experiencing. I have seasons where I didn’t journal but for the most part, I have been journaling for the last 34 years. The other day I pulled out those old journals to see if I could find a thread throughout that would give me insight and direction about who I am and how I am wired. The only thread I found is that I was never a deep thinker and I was boy crazy from the womb. At least I’m consistent.

Let it out / Tiffanyaolson.com

Filled Journals From The Last Few Years

When I look back at my list, however, I am wondering if maybe the struggle is part of what brings the joy. Each time I make the choice to get out the door for a run, come up with a new recipe to try, write down some thoughts or love on the people I encounter at work.  I am choosing to hunker down, give it my best shot and hope that I do it a little better today than I did it yesterday. I take pride in looking back at my day knowing that I have intentionally added in things that don’t come easily for me because it makes my little world a better place to live in.

 

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

6 Gifts Of Love.

hp-40 / TiffanyAOlson.com

My Girls

Last summer “My Girls” and I  decided to carve out a weekend during the holiday season where we could get out of town, go shopping, drink wine and just be together. The perfect Airbnb was found and we cleared our schedules for the 1st weekend in December to play.

Taryn remembered a super cool idea from one of Joanna Gaines’ magazines where girlfriends get together and bring something they love, to share with the whole group. So, there are six of us girls and we were tasked to bring one thing we love and to bring one for each person. We put a $10 limit on the gifts and then said nothing more about it.

As Summer turned to fall and life began to happen, things changed and plans had to be altered. I had to back out of our weekend as I was needed for a family matter out of state. Taryn still went, but a day late as her husband was awarded a medal of honor for his roll in a standoff situation. (he’s a police officer) Together, they laughed, they cried they shopped, drank wine … and gave gifts.

The families got together a few weeks later and my girls… unbeknownst to me brought their gifts. What unfolded next was a flood of never-ending tears, because as much as we have things we love that we want to share, what we really wanted to do was to say, I love you. When someone gives you a gift with a word or a whole book even that reminds them of you and then proceeds to explain why these words remind them of you, well, you cry. A Lot.

Today is Valentines Day. It’s the day of love. Love of spouse, kids, extended family and friends. It’s the perfect day to talk about this amazing group of women. It’s the perfect day to talk about my friends.

heidi n me / TiffanyAOlson.com

Heidi n Me

Heidi is our girl with the “tool belt.” No matter what you are going through whether it be emotional or physical Heidi pulls out a “tool.” Her tools are words of wisdom, thoughts and ideas that help you gain perspective and persevere through whatever you are going through. She’s tough, she’s sensitive and she’s the one you want on your side in a fight, be it physical or emotional. So Heidi brought some tools with her to share with the rest of us. Bag Balm and cookie scented candles for a scentsy. Because everyone knows if your lips are not chapped and things smell good you can tackle anything.

jennifer n me/ TiffanyAOlson.com

Jennifer n Me

 

Three of the girls in our tribe work at the same elementary school. Taryn is the school secretary, Jennifer is a 1st-grade teacher and Karla teaches third grade. Being in the school setting as you can imagine they are all lovers of words. Jennifer is the quietest and by far the kindest of us all. I have never heard an unkind word about anyone come out of her mouth. She keeps negative thoughts to herself and saves all that stored up energy to unassumingly love those around her who need it the most. Her gift? An ornament with a photo of five hearts tied together with one string with all of our names on it. What better gift than the gift of a visual reminder of how much you are loved?

karla n me / TiffanyAOlson.com

Karla n Me

Karla is the one who “sees” what you think no one sees. She has a full life so we don’t get to hang with her as much as we would like but somehow, some way she knows what is going on in your heart. I can’t tell you how many times Karla has texted me or looked me straight in the eye and put words to the deepest feelings in my heart.  She went and pulled all the children’s books off of the shelf in her classroom and searched each one until she found a book that matched all of our separate personalities or what we have or are currently overcoming. She nailed it. Tears.

taryn n me / TiffanyAOlson.com

Taryn n Me

Out of the 6 of us I would have to say that Taryn and I get a tie for the loudest and the most chatty. Taryn loves with all that she is. She was one of my first friends when I moved to Coos Bay and I love her because she makes everyone feel like you are her favorite. She laughs loud and long and just like me, her favorite color is red. Taryn is currently inspired by an artist named Rae Dunn. Her gift to each of us was a coffee mug with a word or phrase that reminded her of us. Her word for me was humble. I would not have picked that word for myself and was floored that this was what came to mind when she thought of me.

Pam gave the gift of scripture and a word that reminded her of us all packaged in a cute little coffee mug. It was perfect because she is always pointing us back to Christ. She has suffered quite a bit but still has this uncanny ability to see the good in all things. She reminds us to trust and to seek God in every situation. When everything feels crazy Pam is the calm who comes in and reminds you of who is really in charge and in control of all that you are facing.

My gift? My favorite book. Why? Because it never gets old and I never grow tired of it. Every time I read it, I learn something new. I picked it because it reminds me of my friends. People who have seen you at your worst and love you anyway. Love gives you the courage to go and be yourself to all the world. They are my launching pad. They remind me that I have nothing to prove to anyone. I can be all that I am without fear of reproach because outside of God and my Husband their opinions are the only ones that matter.

Happy Valentines Day My Friends!!

 

Tiffany

 

If You Are Still Breathing… It’s Not Over.

One week from today I turn 49. Forty-Nine! I do not feel this old… okay maybe a little. I think the hardest part is how close it is to 50 and in my mind, I still think I am in my mid 30’s. Mind you, I don’t LOOK like I’m in my 30’s but who cares about those small little details?

Interestingly enough, I find myself doing what I did when our daughter turned 15 last year. I remembered what it was like to be 15 and it was strange to think I had a person in my care who was the same age as a year that I remembered so well. This time, however, I am reflecting on when my mom turned 50. How many of your parents birthdays do you truly remember? This one stands out because our family was going through a hard time. My parents were in the middle of a divorce and my mom who was mostly a stay home mom up until I was 15 had to learn how to support herself and start over.

As one of her birthday gifts, my sister wrapped up a picture of an ultrasound of the 1st grandbaby to be welcomed into our family. What a huge gift Taylor Kate was, is, and always will be. Her little life brought hope and joy to a family who desperately needed something positive to focus on.

When I look at my mom’s life over the last 23 years it is amazing to see all that she accomplished after 50. When I was 15 she purchased a fur store she was working in at the Hotel Del Coronado. Overnight she went from housewife to business owner. After the divorce, she had to figure out how to make something that was supplementing income into something that was her sole source of income. Over the years she changed it over to a women’s clothing store and eventually ended up in a nice space on Orange Ave in Coronado, right next to the Brigantine. She loved that store. It was hard work and she was exhausted a lot of the time but owning a store in one of the most sought out vacation towns in the country had its perks. She met a few famous people, made a few good friends and made enough money to live on and help out her kids every now and again.

I sometimes fear that life has passed me by. That somehow I missed out on doing something I really loved doing or I didn’t try hard enough to chase my dreams. But when I stop and reflect on the life my mother has lived I realize that my life is only just beginning. There are more races to be run and more words to be written. There is a lot of life to be lived and I am ready to live it.

Here’s To Living…

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany

I See You.

26.2 .1 /TiffanyAOlson.com

This Was A Great Day! 26.2 April 28, 2018

 

I See You.

Someone said this to me the other day. Someone I don’t know very well. I am attempting something new and it’s hard. In three little words, she let me know that she’s aware I am struggling and uncomfortable but she’s looking past all of it to what she’s sure I can become if I don’t give up.

I have done very little in the way of upper body strength since having breast cancer. Sure I’ve run but never anything that directly affected my chest. I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about the why because life is busy and I was doing other things. But when it comes right down to it strengthening my upper body means that I HAVE to focus on it. I have to acknowledge my lack of full range of motion, the pain at the top of my rib cage that feels permanently bruised and the random Charley Horses that come on when I move in a certain way. Then you add in the emotional component of not being as strong as I used to be and that my chest and a large portion of my upper back on my left side are completely numb. I certainly have never been the best in the room in a gym class but I have always been able to hold my own.

I have known for a while now that I need to get over myself and begin to make my whole body strong and not just the lower half.  So, the last week in December I joined a gym that has early morning classes, took a deep breath and showed up. In November I went back to wearing wigs full time because my hair is horrifyingly thin and in my quest to be cute I could no longer deal with my scalp showing. Very few people see me without one these days and if they do I am wearing a baseball cap. The cap got too hot for gym class so now I am going without it which is fine but it adds another layer to the emotional component because although there are a few familiar faces no one knows me enough to know what I’ve been through or what I am capable of.

What happens when all of these things are swirling in the air? I boldly wave my insecurity flag for all to see. I start nervously chatting about a marathon, cancer and being someone that normally gets up early. No one needs this information, they have their own stories of triumph and tragedy and the last thing they need at 5:30 am is a fluffy girl in hot pink tights and very thin hair blabbing about herself so no one thinks she’s a loser.

So, to have someone look past all that I am putting out there and take the time to tell me that they “see” me, well, it meant a lot. Since that day I have quieted down a bit and found a spot where I can’t see myself in the mirror and I am doing what I set out to do on the 1st day I walked in there. I am focusing on getting stronger. I originally thought it was just going to be my body but it looks like my heart and my mind are going to get a bit of a workout as well.

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany

Perfectly, Imperfect Love…

wartenbees /TiffanyAOlson.com

My Other Parents…

 

At the end of your life, how do you want to be remembered? I think we all hope that our presence in this world has made a difference. We want to know the world is a better place because we were here. Cue… It’s A Wonderful Life.

This past weekend we celebrated the life of a man who leaves behind him a legacy of love. Dennis knew no strangers. Every person he encountered he viewed as an opportunity at friendship. I refer to him as Papa Denny because that is what my kids call him. He made everyone in his life feel like they were family.

It is fitting that Papa Denny passed right at the beginning of the season where much of the world focuses in and reflects on the greatest act of love ever bestowed upon humanity. The gift of Baby Jesus. It is a season where we focus on kindness, compassion, generosity, gratefulness, hope and love.

Dennis and Jean. My other parents. You love me and my kids as your own. Who could possibly ask for more than that?

What greater time of year to celebrate the life of a man who exemplified all of these things? Like the rest of us he was far from perfect but to me, he loved people more perfectly than I have ever seen anyone else do it. Papa Denny never did anything halfway. This sometimes meant he was a lot to take in, but in the end, when you stop to look at his life as a whole you see a trail of people whose lives changed dramatically for the better because of him.

There is a quote by Hunter S. Thompson…

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!

This fits Papa Denny perfectly. He literally used up every ounce of his physical body, living. His life was not an easy one, his childhood, to put it mildly, was rough which meant at times getting in between his parents during a late night brawl and taking a few blows in the process. His only brother was killed in a car accident in his 20’s and there were the financial ups and downs as well as disappointments, heartaches, injuries and major surgeries. (I’m thinking 30 surgeries is a fair estimate.) But Papa Denny never focused on the bad. Even in great physical pain he would smile and use whatever strength he had to lend a hand to someone else. I can think of several homeless couples and families who have Dennis to thank for food, shelter and reconnection with loved ones.

Honestly, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out what this world is going to look like without Denny in it.  I do know however that if he was here he would be looking for ways to help others out. As I reflect on all of this I realize that I need to live better, I need to love better, right now during the Holidays and all the days of my life. We lost a mighty lover of people last week, not only do I need to help fill in the gap but use his legacy as a launching pad for greater acts of kindness because what greater legacy to leave behind than a legacy of love?

papa denny / TiffanyAOlson.com

Three of the 4 men in this photo had a reunion in heaven last week. Merry Christmas. Grandpa Wartenbee, Grandpa Gatlin and Papa Denny!!

 

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany

 

15…

She’s turning 15.  It hit me hard the other day… my baby is turning 15!

The memories have taken me by surprise in the last week or so and then it dawned on me that 15 is the 1st age one of my kids has turned that I remember. I remember 15! It’s like it was yesterday and more than likely I remember it so well because it was the year we moved from Eugene, Oregon to Coronado, California.

I was heading into my sophomore year of high school and the decision was made to move away and begin again. It was both brutal and amazing at the same time. Brutal because Eugene was all I had ever known and due to my propensity towards over emotion my parents decided the best plan was to have family friends pick me up from Summer Camp in northern CA. The camp was great. Getting the call that I would not be going home to say goodbye to all my friends… not so much. My parents picked me up on their way down and away we went. I had to say goodbye to 15 years worth of friends via the telephone.

Tiffany - Age 15 1985 / TiffanyAOlson.com

1985 – 15 years old

The amazing part? We moved to Coronado, CA. For those of you who don’t know, Coronado is a peninsula across the bay from downtown San Diego. 73 degrees and mostly sunny year round. Coming from rainy Oregon, this did not take me long to get used to. It took a while but about 8 months in I had found my people. It’s been 33 years since I was 15. My people? Still with me. We live all over the country now but we walk through this life together, births, deaths, illness, laughter, love, and memories. Some of our lives were already hard in high school, the rest of us caught up later.

15! How can she be 15? I am not ready! Fortunately, our personalities are polar opposite and she is not desperately insecure like I was. She does not feel the need to go to extremes to fit in as I did. She can stand alone and hold her ground for what she believes where I wavered so I would feel accepted.

Back then I was excessively extroverted. The thought of spending even two seconds alone was horrifying. With time and age, I have mellowed and have learned to enjoy and sometimes even crave time alone. But only for a few hours or so, any more than that and I begin to get restless. Natalie, (my baby girl) on the other hand is an introvert. Alone time is what she craves most. In social settings, she’s quiet, observant and misses almost nothing. She sees and hears more than I do because I rarely hear anything above the sound of my own voice chit chattering away. I’m not worried about her getting older as she is so much more level-headed than I was. It just feels weird that she is at an age that I have so many memories of.

Heading to SD / TifffanyAOlson.com

 

We watched The Breakfast Club together the other night. The Breakfast Club! 1985 – I was 15 when this movie came out. I did find myself singing Jingle Bells very loudly during a few scenes as there was some content I had forgotten about in the last 33 years and I was not quite ready to have her hear that stuff in my presence. The truth though? I still loved it. I still related to it. It took me back all those years ago to the jock, the princess, the crazy, the nerd and the criminal. Natalie is just beginning her freshman year so I am not sure the movie resonated with her now as much as it will in a year or so. The characters haven’t changed all that much over the years. The biggest difference is that the illegal marijuana they are all smoking in the movie is now legal (at least in Oregon) and readily available on almost every street corner in our little town. But I digress.

When I look ahead I realize that I am excited to watch how her life unfolds. We are so different and it will be interesting to see how she handles the difficulties that come her way. I am hoping that since she tends to operate from a foundation of security that her decisions will reflect her stability. When she does fail, my prayer is that she kicks the dust off quickly and moves on. At 15 a whole new world is beginning to open up for her and she doesn’t even realize it yet. In a few weeks, she will get her drivers permit. It’s all going so fast. I feel that same brutal but amazing feeling I had back then. It’s brutal to allow her to spread her wings a bit but oh so amazing to begin to watch her fly.

The only thing I didn’t do before I got married was travel abroad. Nat and I have been dreaming about ways to get her out into the world and experience some stuff. I want her to see it all, the beauty and the pain. I want her to know that the world is so much bigger than what she has seen up to this point. None of it will be easy but it’s guaranteed to be amazing. On a completely selfish note, I hope she eventually settles in a place where I can live near because as much as I want her to fly, I desperately want to be there when she comes home. 15. She’s not a little girl anymore but she will always be my baby.

Nat 2 Weeks Old / TiffanyAOlson.com

2003 – 2 Weeks Old

 

Have a Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany

 

Notice The Good…

 

Highschool Friends

Friends for 30 years. All Different, All Strong… All In.

 

It’s only been three months and I am back in San Diego. This was not a planned trip but one that was necessitated by the passing of one of the many father figures who has made their mark on my life over the years. In a world where men seem to be villanized most of the time its great to come home to honor a man whose life is marked with hard work and love of family. It makes you look around at all the people in your life and take notice of the good. I sometimes have a hard time doing this, noticing the good. The bad and the hard are much easier to focus on. Living in fear of the “What if’s” is much easier than taking the time to look around and be thankful for what is.

How sad is this realization? Why does it take such effort to be thankful? Why is it easier to take a section of people in our society and view all of them as bad because a few have made a huge mess of things? When I take a step back and I begin to focus on the individual relationships in my life I am overwhelmed by how much the good outweighs the bad and yet the bad still stands there like a neon sign.

As I write this another father figure of mine is in ICU with double pneumonia and a weak heart. He and his wife took me in when I moved back to Oregon at 24. I lived with them while I finished up college. He helped me get a job as well as helped me purchase and fix up a car. Mr. Wonderful and I had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding in their home and they were at the hospital when both our kids were born. I am not their daughter by blood but they have loved me as one of their own. This is good. This is love. This is life.

wartenbees /TiffanyAOlson.com

My Other Parents…

I don’t know what is happening in your life today. But in the midst of it all set aside some time to focus on the good. Take stock of your relationships and note of how much the healthy ones outweigh the toxic ones. Let go of all the emotion and anxiety that threaten your sanity and keep you from seeing the beauty all around you. There are some amazing people in this world. People who have laid down seasons of their life to make your life better. Don’t forget this, don’t forget to notice the good.

Have a Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany

Becoming Love

I just finished a book by Bob Goff called Everybody Always. It took me a while to read because, well, I didn’t want it to end.  I have been recommending this book to everyone I know. He wrote a book a few years back called, Love Does. Keeping with the Love theme, this book is about, Loving Everybody, Always.

Think about this for a moment, Everybody, Always. When was the last time you were frustrated or annoyed with someone or encountered a creepy homeless person? How loving did you act? I add in the creepy homeless person qualifier because I run at 4:00 am, 3 days a week. Just this past week I ran past one guy with his pants around his ankles, skateboard in hand dancing wildly in the middle of the street. A few days later another gentleman watched us run by and started singing, very loudly, “Yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy and I’ve got something for you.” He proceeded to yell that he is better than Mick Jagger and that he lives for cocaine. We debated about how he can afford cocaine amongst ourselves but were impressed with his enthusiasm.

Maybe another reason it took me so long to finish the book is that I felt convicted. The stories are great and engaging and I kept telling myself, “you would have sooo not handled this situation in the same way.” In the end, I decided I probably shouldn’t compare myself to Bob, but rather take each person that crosses my path and handle them more graciously than I would have in the past. It has been quite a Summer and I have been given many opportunities to fly or fail in the love category and I have done both.

The book clearly addressed the fact that we are not going to get it right all the time. Not even close. But if we could all do better at loving those who are hard to love, how much better could this world be? I’m not gonna lie, I really suck at this. I fall squarely in the loving those who are easy to love category. No, it’s not biblical or right or very Jesus like and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s the truth. 

B Baseball 2018 / TiffanyAOlson.com

The summer began with little league baseball up and down the coast every weekend. In the midst of the baseball my daughter, Natalie and I went to San Diego for my 30th High School Reunion and Papa Freddie’s 80th birthday. We arrived back home just in time to head off to the Coos County Fair to show and auction off our kids’ sheep. We squeezed in a camping trip and then Natalie and I zipped up the highway a few hours away for a two-week dance intensive. No, I did not dance, I shuttled teenagers back and forth to rehearsals, did laundry, cooked a few meals, played referee a few times… well you get the drift.

Fair 2018 / TiffanyAOlson.com

We squeezed in one final camping trip last weekend and for the record, I am sooo ready to be home for a while. It was a great summer, jam-packed with fun and friends but I am ready for routine, evenings at home and cozy fires in the wood stove. I need to take a breath and survey the scene around me. I’m not a fan of being overly busy and although some seasons require a faster pace I crave having space in my schedule. 

Nat Dance Intensive 2018 / TiffanyAOlson.com

With all of the things that went right this Summer there was plenty that went wrong. One of our best friends lost his brother unexpectedly, another lifelong friends brother in law was diaognosed with ALS (he’s in his 40’s with young children) and a board that I serve on had all of our vision and plans for a community arts facility in our community completely blow up in our faces. 

River Fun 2018 / TiffanyAOlson.com

When I look back at it all I can clearly see where and when I was acting loving and when I wasn’t. If I could do some of it again I would stay more physically and emotionally present in some settings and in others I would shut my emotions off completely and just listen. I’m pretty sure there were several times this summer when one could have looked at how I was treating others and had no clue as to where I stood on the whole faith issue.

John 35:15 says:

By this everone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

In the end its all about love. I need to do it better and not just when it’s easy. I am not going to buddy up with the homeless gentlemen on my 4:00am runs, but I can be a lot more aware of how I am treating those that God has placed in my life because on some level we need each other. Even if I never learn why.

Go get the book. You’ll LOVE it!

Have A Beautiful Day My Friends!

Tiffany