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When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade

When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade

Contributed by
Omaira Gonzalez

Recently my husband and I went for a long walk at a nearby forest preserve.  This was a new location for us, and we enjoyed exploring the nature around us.  After an hour or so we noticed that we had been walking in circles around the same spot!  We chuckled a bit as we couldn’t believe we never noticed that we kept passing the same bench or sitting area.  We began to search for a path that would lead us back on track to our car.

Our travelling plans have been somewhat of the same experience.  Our goal was to travel more this year; however, we have come across some paths that have kept us going in circles.  I call these paths the “unexpected,” like when life throws you a curve ball. However, as the saying goes “when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade,” and we have learned to make the best of these moments and grow from them. My husband and I started to think of creative ways to continue exploring and traveling without spending too much money.  We started to visit the Forest Preserves in our area each weekend.  I started to observe that many families go on these trails,  going on walks and picnics. We were so encouraged by this that we started to take our family on our trail walks to enjoy some quality time together.  It is free, great exercise, and you can bring a picnic basket with some of your favorite foods.

Though my husband and I did not anticipate the setbacks that we came across this year, we did learn that there are so many other ways to appreciate each other, spend quality time together, and save money.  We did schedule a vacation trip to one of destinations on our bucket list and we allowed ourselves enough time to pay it off, all we need to take with us is spending money.

We know that when it rains it pours, and we have learned to keep an umbrella nearby and to not be discouraged. Difficult times have given us incentive to look outside of the box for opportunities to create valuable experiences.

You can stay up to date with my journey on social media with #OmairasJourney.

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Get Serious About Fun

Get Serious About Fun

Contributed by
Bill Ferrell

Last year my son turned 30, so we decided to do something special.

We surprised him.

My wife, daughter, and I flew to Boston where he is living with his wife and three daughters. He didn’t know we were coming. Only his wife did. We arrived at 1:00 am. That’s right – the hour after midnight. Hey, we wanted to surprise him.

Once we landed, we took an Uber to their place. We texted our daughter-in-law and she was waiting to let us in. Very quietly we walked to their bedroom and opened the door.

There he laid. Under the thick down comforter. It reminded me of when he was a little baby. My wife and I would steal into his room at night and watch him sleep. Listening to the steady rhythm of his breathing. Watching his little chest move up and down with every breath. Deep asleep. So restful. So peaceful. So innocent. So vulnerable. So content. So beautiful. Laying there like a precious little cherub.

And then as quietly as we had entered, we would walk out. Making certain not to wake him.

Now he was 30 years old. Some things had not changed. Oh – but other things had.

On my signal, the three of us jumped on the bed. I straddled his body with my wife and daughter on either side. We yelled, “SURPRISE. SURPRISE. SURPRISE.”

Like a rocket he sat upright in bed and screamed, “AHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

We continued to yell, “SURPRISE. SURPRISE. SURPRISE.”

He continued to scream, “AAHHHHHHHHHHHH.”

His eyes darted back and forth. From face to face. His brain was trying to make sense of all this. Was this a dream? Reality? A nightmare?

He continued to scream and we started to laugh. Hard. My daughter fell on the ground – trying not to pee her pants. My wife could hardly breathe. I continued to yell, “Surprise.”

Finally, after two minutes, he was silent. He grabbed his chest. His escalated blood pressure was beginning to return to normal. He swallowed, trying to catch his breath. Looked around. And then across his face a smile began to spread.

“You got me,” he said. Success!

We spent the next few days celebrating him and his birthday – going out to eat, playing basketball, talking, hanging out, recounting “the surprise,” and having fun. Lots of fun.

Children are a gift from God. Parenting is an incredible privilege and an amazing responsibility. And it can also be a lot of fun.

Make time to have fun with your kids. No matter their age.

For their sake and for yours. Fun is an important part of relationships and life!

Now, your version of “fun” may not be the same as “Ferrell Family Fun.” But whatever it is –Create memories that you will enjoy in the moment and for years to come.

 

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

Success is a Few Steps Away

Success is a Few Steps Away

Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

I don’t think that I have ever heard someone say, “I want to be a mediocre student.” “I hope my investments perform lower than market standards this quarter.” Or “I want to go up to the plate and strike out.” No, people want to be a leader in their industry, see positive returns on their investments, have thriving relationships, and I believe all of us want to hit a homerun every time we step up to the plate. Why? We all have a desire to achieve and accomplish. In fact, I believe we like to be victorious. We enjoy that sense of achievement, that feeling we get from overcoming a challenge, no matter how big or small. Who doesn’t like crossing a finish line after training every day for 6 months, or receiving a diploma after studying hard for 4+ years?

We all want to be successful at something. I believe in order to achieve success we have to know what success looks like for us as individuals. We have to look at ourselves and define what success means to us because there are a lot of standards out there. Some believe success is making six-figures, earning a college degree, or starting a family. But what does success look like for you? How would you define success for your own life? If we are going to achieve any type of success, we have to understand that success starts with us.

Realize. How do you want to be remembered? Looking at the big picture helps us reverse engineer our daily decisions and actions so we can realize our vision.

  • Who am I as a person?
  • What am I good at?
  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What am I passionate about?

I usually do this exercise with elementary school students, but I think asking ourselves these questions can be validating for people of all ages. I believe if nothing else, it gives us a better picture of ourselves. Furthermore, it then begs the question of “Where am I going?” Identifying who you are and where you want to go allows you to start developing goals and things you want to change. We all need something to run at, a destination to journey to. Whatever goal you may have, write it down.

Research.

  • What is it going to take for me to reach my goal?
  • What is my starting point? What am I measuring my results against?
  • What is your plan of action? We’ve often heard that “If there is no plan you plan to fail.” Without a destination in mind and a plan of how you will get there, you end up walking around aimlessly.

If you want to get fit, you have to set specific goals, like losing 10 pounds by cutting sugar out of your diet and going to the gym five days a week. By doing research and setting specific goals, you can start seeing wins that motivate you to keep going. Start small; some things can seem so insurmountable that they become overwhelming and cause us to freeze in our tracks. Once we freeze up, our ideas and dreams just sit on paper.

React. We know what we’re capable of. We know where we want to go and what it’s going to take to get us there. Set small, focused intentional goals that will build up to the bigger goal, and celebrate your small successes along the way.

But what can you do today to get to where you want to be? One of the biggest things that I would encourage here is to have a support system. Who are the people in your corner that are cheering you on? Family, friends, teachers, mentors…it’s important to have these people in your life. I would also say that with these support systems, you want to find people, whether directly or indirectly, that have achieved success in the area that you are looking to achieve. They can serve as examples of what to model. They can be there for encouragement when things get difficult. But seek out support.

How can you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How can you run a marathon? One step at a time. Achieving goals is a process, but one in which learning, growth, and ingredients for future success are developed. Go out and do some great things!

For more tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

Soulmates? I Think Not

Soulmates? I Think Not

Contributed by
Ashley Reed

So a few weeks ago Eddie shared his Journey To The Altar. So as the second engaged person on Family Bridge’s staff, I am writing a similar post, but from a bride’s point of view.

I am going to start off my series with an unpopular opinion: I never have believed in the concept of “soulmates.” The idea that I am a broken part of a whole in need of another piece in order to be complete has always sounded ridiculous. With billions of people in the world, there are a lot of guys out there that I could be attracted to, compatible with, and share interests with. However, I am choosing to stick it out with one guy.

I don’t believe in a higher power guiding me towards a romantic partner like some kind of North Star. I believe in the simple mathematics of being attracted to someone, evaluating their personality/attitude/family, and deciding whether or not to commit to a relationship with them.

Marriage is scary. The person to whom you say “I do” will change over time. Both of you will change. However, the idea of commitment is that you will do your best to love each other unconditionally and accept each other’s changes as life goes on. That doesn’t always happen though. One person might fall through on their vows, choose to walk out, or decide that they made a naive decision by walking down the aisle. You might wake up one day and realize that you are sleeping next to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. (or Mrs.) Hyde incarnate. Marriage is not only a commitment, but it is also a gamble.

However, thousands of Americans say “I do” every year. Some gambles are just worth the risk, especially when it comes to the potential of having someone to share your life with. When it comes to my current engagement, I am under no delusion that I have found a missing piece of myself. Instead, I have just found someone who feels like home, who makes me laugh, who takes care of me when I am sick – all of that mushy stuff.

For my next few posts in the #whymarriage series, I will be writing about the process of reconciling a family with a partner that has a totally different worldview, and the many pros + cons + worries of marriage (and why I think walking down the aisle is still a good idea).

Thanks for reading!

For more tips and ideas about marriage and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.

Create a Vision Statement and Stick to It

Create a Vision Statement and Stick to It

Contributed by
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

If you have seen the Disney movie Tangled, you’ll recall when the lively and curious Rapunzel and the charming rascal Flynn Rider are at a near death experience after being chased by villains. They find themselves cornered into a cave which is quickly filling up with water from a broken damn, and their effort at to break free seems futile as they are unable to see underwater since the cavern is pitch black.  After what seems like a few eternal seconds of despair, hope breaks through as Rapunzel remembers that her golden hair illuminates when she sings.  Right before the water engulfs her, Rapunzel saves the day as she gets enough chords in for her hair to light the way, allowing them to find a small opening that led to their freedom.

Bill Hybels defines a vision as a picture of the future that produces passion.  In the scene just described, Rapunzel and Flynn almost give in to despair as they anticipate the ill fate they see unfolding before them.  Seeing the tiny shimmer of light from Rapunzel’s hair seems to infuse them with the needed energy to struggle even while under water.  The light helped them break through. The light in the cavern is like having a clear vision; It gave them the energy they needed to figure out how to survive, and it ultimately led them to freedom.

A clear vision gives us the power we need to stay on course, to stay motivated even when we may feel as if underwater.   Organizations that are highly successful over time have clearly defined vision statements. It allows everyone to know why the operations are the way they are and serves as a north star where employees can chart strategic plans without getting hijacked by other ideas that are irrelevant or the work. Think about some organizations you have heard about and their vision statement. For example, Habitat for Humanity’s vision statement is, “A world where everyone has a decent place to live,” and Family Bridges vision statement is, “Strong families with purpose driven children, leaders of their generation, committed to their communities.” These two examples show how a vision statements are inspiring and serve as propellers that move everyone forward.

Just as organizations have successfully adapted vision statements for the lives, families and couples can do the same. A couple of years ago, my husband and I did this same thing for our family. We knew we would have many challenges and even differences in our parenting styles but if we would agree on a vision for our family, that would help us chart a pathway forward whenever friction occurred.

How do you create a vision statement for your family?

  1. Gather everyone for a family meeting. Get some yummy munchies and explain to everyone what the purpose of the meeting is – to create a vision statement.  Explain what a vision statement is so everyone understands what it is and why everyone is taking the time to develop one.
  2. Get a legal pad or newsprint paper and let everyone chime in with ideas. First ask everyone to come up with words that they feel currently define the family. Then have everyone come up with words or phrases that paint a picture of they would like to be in the future. Ask the question, where do we want to be 10, 20 years from now?
  3. Sculpt and Define. Delegate to the word smith in your family or work together on taking the words and sculpting them into a sentence that captures the essence of where you want to be 10-15-20-30+ years down the line.
  4. Frame it. Once we had our vision statement we included it in the family album we created that year. Find a creative way to feature it something you cherish and that can serve as a reminder of it for you and yours. Vision leaks so it is important to go back to it frequently. See it, read it, internalize it so when you are under water you can have an anchor to help you swim back to the surface.

For more tips and ideas about marriage and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.