Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Big Dreamer

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
 Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, 
and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. 
-Harriet Tubman

My daughter is a big dreamer.
I pray that I will always lift her up and won't ever crush her spirit.

She inspires me to keep reaching.
It's incredible how much I'm learning 
from someone who isn't even two years old.


What have you learned from a little one in your life?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My Big Day with Oprah- Take Two

Did I mention I was in the same room with Oprah?!?!

Being present for the taping of two Oprah's Lifeclass episodes was just a bonus. And sitting next to my bestie in the front row (stage right) to boot! Dreams really do come true.

"My" shows already aired live on Oprah.com and will air on television (OWN- The Oprah Winfrey Network) in January 2013. I'll try and give you a heads up on an exact date if possible. But only if you promise not to laugh if you see me jumping around like a crazy woman.

The theme of my Lifeclass episodes was Living with Purpose and Rick Warren was the guest. Warren is the author of The Purpose Driven Lifethe #2 best-selling non-fiction book of all time. Second only to the Bible. I had forgotten that President Obama selected him to give the invocation at his inauguration (which, by the way, upset a lot of social progressives.)

I wasn't excited when I discovered Rick Warren was going to be the guest. I knew he was an Evangelical Christian minister at a religious right megachurch, and that made me a bit skeptical. (But it didn't really matter who the guest was because I was going to be in the same room as Oprah!) Of course, I shouldn't have doubted my Oprah. Warren turned out to be a great guest and I learned a lot from him. There were a lot of ah-ha moments, a lot of murmered mmm hmms, and a few Amens! from the audience. It was a great reminder for me not to prejudge the messenger; to just listen to the message and then let my heart judge it's truth for me.

Which reminds me of a great quote from another spiritual leader:
Believe in nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

Here are the notes (quotes, concepts, and meaningful phrases) I furiously pecked into my phone during the taping:

In the poker game of life, we are dealt five cards:
1. Chemistry- our physical make-up, appearance, DNA
2. Connections- our relationships
3. Circumstances- we give them too much power
4. Consciousness- how we talk to ourselves, the voice in your head
5. Choices- this card can make or break your entire hand

Nick Vujicic was dealt an incredibly rough hand. If you are not familiar with his story, please take the time to watch this YouTube video. The 4 minutes and 11 seconds will undoubtedly be the most inspirational of your day. It's a great reminder that 95% of the things we worry or complain about are miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Warren's only request for his appearance on Oprah's Lifeclass was to have Vujicic on the show. It was powerful to see him in person- he radiates positive energy and an authentic power despite his enormous physical limitations. (I am happy to report that Vujicic just got married and his wife is expecting their first child. Doesn't that make you smile inside?)

And now on to more show notes:

God's plan for us/ our life's purpose is like a Polaroid picture. It starts out just a shadow, and with time the picture becomes clearer and into focus. If you don't yet know God's plan for you, just wait. It will become clear in time.

Hope= Holding On Praying Expectantly

If you live by the approval of others, you will die by their rejection. -Rick Warren

The two things that will cause you to miss your life's purpose:
1. Envy- I must be like you to be happy.
2. People Pleasing- I must be liked by you to be happy.
You must live your life for an audience of one.

We often look for love in our accomplishments, acheivements, and appearance. To be authenically powerful (significant,) we need to find a way to give our gifts in service.

Stages of a Dream
Dead End (Death of a Vision)

I'm sure you can relate these stages to a situation in your own life. To illustrate the idea for you, I'll use the example of my dream to be a mama: Once Hubby and I decided to start conceiving, we were met with significant delays. Followed by significant difficulities. Then our dead end- IVF failed and we were told we wouldn't have our biological child without a miracle. Then 5.5 long (and yet now seemingly short) months later, a stranger birthed our baby. The baby destined to be our child. In fact, the one we were always waiting for, we just didn't realize it. Deliverance!

Miser- the root word of miserable. Not a coincidence. We receive by giving.

How do you find your life's purpose? Look at the things that shape you:
1. Spiritual gifts (I'm not 100% sure what he meant by this. Anyone have input?)
2. Heart (What are your passions?)
3. Abilities (What are you good at/ with?)
4. Personality
5. Experiences (Jobs, education, family, painful experiences)

Our greatest strengths often come out of our pain -Rick Warren

God never wastes a hurt. We might, but he won't. He will use it for good.

The way you serve God is by serving others.

It's all about love.

Humility- It's not about denying your strengths, it's about being honest about your weaknesses.

There are accidental parents, there are no accidental babies.

You can waste your life, or you can invest it. Invest in what will outlast you, people and love.

Please share if any of these notes touched you in some way. I know I'm going to buy the book. Anyone else? I'd love to have some people to discuss it with chapter by chapter.

*FYI: The first seven chapters of The Purpose Driven Life are available free on the book website.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Big Day with Oprah

Anyone who knows me well knows I *LOVE* Oprah. She inspires me to be a better person. And bloom. So after 6 or so years of trying to get tickets to her show, I was beyond excited when I finally won the Oprah.com ticket lottery. My mother-in-law had the misfortune of being next to me when I opened the email. Poor Miss Gwen may now be slightly deaf in one ear.

Looking back on my big day with Oprah, I realize it was a lot like another other incredible day in my life- my wedding day. Here are 12 ways how:

1. I dreamt about it for years. (When she decided to end The Oprah Winfrey Show, I thought my dream would never come true. Luckily, Oprah's Lifeclass on OWN- The Oprah Winfrey Network- sometimes has a live studio audience.)

2. The few weeks leading up to the big day, I was so excited I felt like I could have burst!

3. And there was that big question- what to wear? We were instructed to wear bright colors. No white, beige, or black. I choose a green Diane von Furstenberg dress. Green is Oprah's favorite color.

4. My best friend, Julia (who seven years ago was my matron of honor), was again by my side. And since the producers encouraged us to text, tweet, and post on Facebook during the taping, my sister (and maid of honor), Marilee, and my hubby were virtually present. They were both texting me and Marilee was watching the show live via Oprah.com.  BTW-she saw me twice.

5. I felt like a VIP. Oprah must have heard I was a big fan, because somehow Julia and I scored pink wristbands. We had no idea what they meant at first, but I sure felt special having one. As it turns out, the pink wristbands allowed us access to the orchestra level. Score! And on top of that, by some miracle, we ended up in the first row, stage right!  (Maybe it was the strict timeline I made Julia adhere to so we could get there extra early.)

6. Just like at my wedding, I was overcome with emotion. The moment I saw Oprah walk out on the stage, a crazy person came out of me. 

I was jumping up and down and screaming and waving and screaming and jumping and waving. (Julia thought I might have flashed my backside to the row behind us. Jumping wasn't something I considered when I chose to wear a dress.) Even a production crew member commented on my enthusiasm and joked that I was already on Youtube. Oh my. I'm hoping if I embarrassed myself it wasn't caught on camera. I'll have to wait and see when the show airs in 2013.

See the two women in red tops and white pants in the front row on the right?
That's me, in the green dress next to them.
7. While I was in Houston for the taping, I was fully aware that it was a magical experience for me. I was living in the moment.

8. It was worth the wait.

9. That night I was physically and emotionally drained. So much excitement in one day.

10. The day after the taping, I had an afterglow. And then there was a day of the post-wedding blues- the emotional let-down that sometimes follows such a highly anticipated event. It was over.

11. But I'll always have memories of my big day.

12. And I checked off one more item on my life list.

Note: More on the the episode topic, Finding Your Life's Purpose, and the amazing Oprah's Lifeclass guests in my next post.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Life is a Roller Coaster

I'm immensely grateful to my readers who have been asking for a new blog post and a surgery update. Thank you for your interest and concern. It warms my heart to know that my words have been missed and that in my blogging absence, I've still been remembered.

Much has happened since my last post. Here are some highlights:

1. We put our little bird in preschool 2 days a week. With my newly cherished "me time," I've been working on my book and making progress. The first 50 pages have already been sent to my book coach. I plan to give you, my dear readers, previews along the way. Stay tuned.

2. After at least 6 years of trying, I got tickets to Oprah! I went this past Friday and it was amazing. That will be the next blog post I write. Hopefully this week.

3. Surgery update: The good news is that 2/3 of my surgery was successful. Yay! The bad news is that 1/3 wasn't. Boo! So I am in for another surgery. Boo! But I've been assured it will be significantly less painful and recovery will be only a day instead of a week this time. So, Halloween morning is the day. While you are eating your candy, think of me. I won't be eating anything but liquids and pureed foods. Boo! After surgery there is a 4-6 month wait to see if the bone around the cleft in my jaw healed correctly. If not, I am in for another surgery with a bone graft. I'm hoping it works.

4. And here's the big one: For those of you who have been following my (in)fertility and then adoption journey, you know it has been a roller coaster. I received crazy and unexpected news over a week ago that I could possibly get pregnant. I wasn't even looking for this information- it just fell out of the sky (or from my new Ob/Gyn's mouth.) Then, as easy as it came, it was quickly retracted when my lab work came back. I was elated for a week, then devastated again. While I wouldn't change a thing about how our daughter came to us, I am still grieving my inability to experience pregnancy, childbirth, and a baby that is 1/2 me and 1/2 my husband. I was again feeling it was hopeless, but some serendipitous events (you know how I LOVE those) have my mind and heart in a tailspin. Is the universe sending me signs? Did I give up on my body too soon? Is my dream of getting pregnant and carrying our biological child possible? I'm reevaluating, wondering, and very scared to even get on that roller coster again. But this time, it's different. While it would still take a financial and emotional investment, most of the pressure is off. We already have a child and I know that adoption is no less of a miracle. So I'm going to try take deep breaths, be still, and listen to what my heart has so say on the matter.