Signature of Responsible Adult

I took Dan to the hospital for a minor procedure recently.  When we checked in and completed all of the paperwork prior to the procedure, I had to sign on the line that said "Signature of Responsible Adult". 

This cracked me up.

How on earth did this happen?  How did I get here?  I don't really recognize this person sometimes... when someone asks for the responsible adult in the room, I look around, over my shoulder, then back in shock and say "Who, Me?"  It feels weird.  But its real, its happening whether I like it or not. 

I'm a grown up.  I have to deal with heavy stuff that I'd rather just ignore.  I have to take my husband to the hospital and be his "responsible adult", I have to deal with death and taxes, and the whole gamut of mundane grown up stuff.

I also have to take chances.  I have to make decisions - even though there is no guarantee that things will work out or that I am making the "right" choice.  I have to realize that sometimes there is no right or wrong, and I have to accept the gray areas.  And sometimes, when it is clear what the right thing to do is, I have to go ahead and do it, even if it breaks my heart.  I have to do things that terrify me.  I have to read between the lines, I have to accept things in myself and others that I would rather not accept.  I have to be compassionate with myself and others when I would rather scold or condemn.  I have to live with uncertainty, with wide open spaces, with complicated feelings and emotions.

But that's also the good news.  I get to live with WIDE OPEN SPACES.  I get to direct my own life, I get to say yes or no; to move in one direction or the other.  I get to experience life, I get to feel all of it, every little last drop of it.  I get to bask in my humanity - and I get to share that experience with other people.  I get to connect with them.  I get to help them - and allow them to help me. 

I get the good with the bad, the beautiful with the ugly, the roses with the thorns, the darkness with the dawn. 

So when the good and the beautiful and the roses and the dawn finally arrive, they are that much sweeter and I can appreciate them that much more.

I'm starting to see a new dawn on the horizon in some areas of my life that have been pretty dark for a while.  The past few weeks have brought answers for me. 

There are some things in life that seem as though they will never be resolved, that they are our burden to bear for eternity.  But then suddenly, one sweet day, the clouds part; the fever breaks, and a glimmer of hope shines into the darkness.  And from that moment forward, we know that every little thing is going to be alright.

It's fascinating to see how resolutions arrive and how they unfold in our lives sometimes.  They are certainly not in the packages that we imagined or ever dreamed possible.  You know,  God is one heck of a storyteller.  Some of the tales he spins are so bizarre, and the plot twists so unexpected that it almost seems like he's really having a blast up there with our stories.  And his timing is impeccable.  Sometimes excruciating for us, but always exactly right.  JRR Tolkien ain't got nothing on God. 

I think sometimes, God just finally looks down on us and says:  You've suffered enough.  I think I'll add a beautiful blossom to that thorny rose bush you've been tending to all spring.  Then he sits back to admire the story that he has written.

"This old world we're living in is mighty hard to beat.  We get a thorn with every rose, but ain't the roses sweet."   Stanton

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Does Your Attitude Need a Gratitude Check?

A friend of mine asked me this week if I was enjoying my new house and getting settled in.  My new house...? I had to stop and think.  Oh yeah!  MY NEW HOUSE!  

The truth is, I haven't even thought about my house, or the fact that it is new, in weeks.  I still adore my new house, but I don't walk from room to room in awe like I did when I first moved in.  I don't pamper my new hardwood floors, or meticulously weed the flower beds, or select paint colors and decor in my head.  I have lived here only six short months, and already, I've become accustomed to this house and have begun to take it for granted.  I do all of the normal "home" activities here; eat, sleep, relax, read, whatever.  But the newness has worn off, and sadly with that, my gratitude has waned.  How quickly I forget.  

How quickly I forget that just six short months ago, this dream home was just that... a dream.  My dream come true actually.  After moving around from place to place for most of my life, I had always dreamed of my own home, somewhere that I could put down roots, raise kids, and live happily ever after.  I dreamed of this home for 20 YEARS, and it only took 6 MONTHS for my sense of gratitude and wonder to fade??  WTH.

I decided then and there to make more time for gratitude in my life.  Yes, I will always be working on the "next thing", and that is ok.  I'm an achievement oriented person, and I thrive on new ideas.  But that doesn't negate the fact that I have AN ENTIRE LIFE of beauty RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  It is already there, I just need to notice it and take time to appreciate what I have right now on a regular basis.

I especially need to remember this when I'm down and out, wishing that I had this or could do that.  It's in those moments when I most need a (gr)attitude check.  When we focus on being grateful for what we HAVE, what we don't have seems irrelevant.  When I think of my many blessings, or how far I have come and all that God has given me in this life, how on earth could I possibly be down and out for not having more!  And what's worse, when I don't cherish the things and people that are in my life - when I don't take care of my house and my car and all of the nice things that I have been blessed with, or when I don't spend quality time with the people that I love, and make sure that they know how special they are to me - how could I dare ask God to give me more?!

Do you need a gratitude check in your life?  I hope that you take time everyday to really see all of your blessings and thank your lucky stars for them.  How quickly we forget. 

Gratefully yours,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Learning to See

I taught a group of interior design and fine art students a course on Design Fundamentals a few years ago.  One of the objectives of the course was to encourage them to start noticing their surroundings and to start paying attention to design.  One of the first exercises that I had them do in class was to draw, from memory, a series of very common business logos.  Starbucks, Burger King, Best Buy, etc.  The results were shocking.  Almost no one in the class got any of them right even though the majority of the class had claimed to know exactly what the logos looked like.  Why is this?  I know that everyone in the class could have instantly recognized any one of the logos, so why did they go blank when asked to draw them? 

The same kind of thing happened to me recently… I was trying to draw some trees and other entourage in an architectural rendering that I was doing.  I didn’t think anything about it, I just grabbed my pen and started to draw the tree.  But then I froze.  When it came down to drawing the tree, I had no concept what a tree actually looks like.  Sure, I have an idea of what a tree looks like.  But that idea has strangely little in common with an actual tree.  When I think TREE, I think of a big mass of green leaves with a brown trunk.  But when I sit down and actually LOOK at a tree, what I see is more like an array of colors ranging from yellow to green to brown.  I see dark shadows and bright highlights on each individual leaf.  I see shades of brown and gray and black and white in the trunk.  I see pieces of the branches peeking out from openings in the foliage. 

I’ve seen and experienced this phenomenon countless times and I find it fascinating.  It is amazing how little we actually see in our lives sometimes.  We take so many things for granted, assuming that we know everything that there is to know from a single glance.  We form instantaneous ideas about our surroundings and our circumstances that are colored by our own perceptions and experiences.  We make snap judgments.  We don’t take time to really look at our surroundings.  We don’t really SEE things as they are. 

Being an artist and a designer has forced me to start seeing.  It has prompted me to really look at the world around me and to notice what is actually there, rather than depend on my foggy notions of what I think is there.  It has shown me that the world is such a beautiful and fascinating place if I just take the time to notice it.

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Focus on the Beauty

Sometimes, it is all that I can do not to break down in tears at the terrible things in this world.  I become totally overwhelmed at the utter sorrow and pain that myself and the people that I love must endure.  Heartbreaking loss, illness, infertility, misplaced trust and long forgotten dreams…it is all too much to bear sometimes.  But then there are the beautiful things in life….breathtakingly beautiful moments of love and kindness…new life, uncontrollable laughter, soft caresses, childlike enthusiasm, and those first thrilling steps toward new dreams.  These beautiful things are what I choose to focus on.  They are what we all must focus on, not because we are naïve or insensitive or in denial, but because we have to survive, and focusing on the beautiful things in life, even amidst the pain, is the only way.

 photo by author

photo by author