Full Screen Life

I just read a blog focusing on the fact that there is no such thing as a “balanced” work / home life.  The blogger went on to say that if you don’t like what you do- change. The remarks to the blogger were the most eye-opening for me.  They referred to the writer as “pompous” and “unrealistic” and focused on negativity in the workplace with no hope in sight.   I thought of the below post written in 2012.  The same holds true today – except we are now packing up our 5th of 6 kids to head to college (YEAH!)   It’s easy to become negative.  It’s easy to get into a rut at work or home and feel you are a hamster on a wheel.  It’s hard to pick up your spirits if they are down and look at the big picture.
A full screen view of Lake Michigan, Holland State Park
A full screen view of Lake Michigan, Holland State Park
Last night we went to Holland, Michigan to see Lake Michigan.  We shopped in town, relaxed at dinner, watched a sunset and ended the night with Ice Cream. It captured the meaning of a “Full Screen Life” as listed below.   Enjoy!

 

 September 2012:

I’ve been spending the morning preparing for a cleaning out of now college freshman Emily’s bedroom.

She did a great job packing and sorting.   The left behind is her childhood memories that will be stored away until she’s ready to re-open the fun in her own home someday.

 

My Sunday’s are often spent preparing.  I indulge myself with readings all morning  while I ponder the task list in front of me.  Today’s task that looms ahead is one that is exciting and yet melancholic at the same time.  Two of the articles I read hit home with me today as I prepare for the challenge:

 

The first is from http://zenhabits.net/ and it explains how we need to begin living a Full Screen Life.

 

In it author Leo Babauta explains how we often are doing two to three or four things at once:

 

“We’re doing one work task while trying to stay on top of email, text messages and social media. We’re talking with a friend while seeing what we’re missing on Facebook and Instagram. We’re eating while planning. Making love while thinking about work.”  Babauta shares his concept on living a “Full Screen Life” by focusing only on the one task you are doing.  If you are engaging in a discussion with your daughter – don’t think about work – truly engage in the moment with your daughter.   He showcases how to do this and encourages practice.

 

The second reading came from a review on Gretchen Rubin’s new book,  Happier at Home:  ”Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson and My Other Experiences in the Practice of Everyday Life.’   Rubin dedicated a school year to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort and love.  I would love this book as a Christmas Gift (Hint Hint) and in the meantime have reviewed the reviewer and know that Rubin is on to something.  (‘Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life’ by Gretchen Rubin http://mymindonbooks.com/?p=6142)

 

Perhaps it is because our home has gone from a loud and open door place where 6 kids introduced us to every form of friend and foe into a quieter more grown up house with two teenagers who rarely fight and revel in playing games with their ol’ Mom and Dad.  Perhaps it’s because I’m about to clean out a post-high school girl room and bring more space to what was once a very overcrowded home while celebrating another pretty successful push from the nest.  Either way the two readings that I came across today I believe did not show up by accident.

 

The funny thing is – when you are in the midst of the madness of raising kids and raising career goals is when you really need to live a Full Screen Happy Life.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way thinking my life was not full and happy –  I am saying there is comfort in intentional happiness and full attention at work and home.

 

I’m excited and humbled at this juncture in our lives.  My work is compelling, challenging and just plain fun.  My life is less stressed with school activities and more open to new learnings and opportunities.  I’m taking the two readings from today and combining them at work and home.  Get ready to practice with me…. let’s jump into a Full Screen Happy Life!

 

Tip #1 for Full Screen Happy Life:    Cards, Dice and Game Boards belong on every table – both office and home – not hidden in closets or drawers!

Our Feathered Nest Filled With Love and Lifelong Learning

Feathering a nest.  Have you ever stopped to watch a pair of adult birds take their time to intricately put together a home for what will be their tiny family?  It’s a lesson in nature’s ability to create a safe haven, a place to be.

Take Flight by Ellie Johnson 2014
Hand Sketch  by Ellie Johnson 2014

For the past 29 years Rob and I have feathered our nest.  We’ve gathered the bricks for our foundation, built a home and feathered it with more blankets and pillows than you can imagine.  In the past month we’ve had the joy of having all of our kids under one roof.  We’ve moved furniture to ensure there were places to sleep.  We even moved kids from the comfort of their own room to sofa beds and air mattresses.  Why? Because many of our birds have left the nest and when they return we move a twig here and there to make room.

In the midwest we have open houses for High School graduations. They are a big deal.  We plan and plan and celebrate big with family and friends.  Recently two comments made me pause,  “Why High School? What’s The Big Deal?”  and “I’ve never seen anything like this – it’s a spectacle!”   This year our 5th of 6 kids graduated from Forest Hills.  We celebrated. Big Time.  Every child made it home, even the one who is just starting a new job and took a 6am flight back and forth to make it.  We appreciate this. Big Time.

I can tell you why for me personally High School Graduation is so important.  Because High School years are the final moments you really have a say as a parent in helping  shaping your children’s values.  Once High School is over you really let go. And it’s not easy. Will they be polite, will they attend class, will they make great friends for life, will they behave, will they learn, will they LEARN?!  For me, I look around and hope the life-long learning my husband and I do has rubbed off.  You can only learn so much in school, then it’s time to realize you never stop, and it’s a blast to learn in ways you never thought possible.

This summer we will have learners in , Chicago, Il., Harrisburg, PA, Edmonton, Canada, Mount Pleasant , Kalamazoo, Grandville and and Cascade, Michigan. We will have learners landing new jobs and leading in new ones.  We will have learners working all different shifts, through Holidays and  #PureMichigan sunshine.  Each of us are  at different ages and stages in life and we share one thing.  We all either went through or are almost finished with High School.  After this milestone we each take our different path. We will falter,  stumble, succeed, falter , stumble and succeed again.

We also share one other thing; a feathered nest waiting for return trips.  A place we know will always be a safe haven, a place to go.  It’s our own feathered nest. We’ve made it our own.

It’s now that I realize we feather it for a very specific reason.  We feather our nest so when our birds fly on their own, our landing as parents isn’t quite so hard.

The 5 Kindest Things Mom Taught Me

Grandma Betty lives with us. She has her own “Granny House” designed by her and attached to our laundry room. We’ve been living together for 16 years. (not including the 21 years of raising me!)

Grandma Betty is my mom.

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Living with my mom for over half my lifetime is one reason I am who I am today. Here are the 5 kindest things she has taught me:

1). Purchase a rocker or swing.

To hold a child and rock them to sleep. To swing grandkids and neighborhood children back and forth while teaching them new songs to sing seals hearts with love forever.

2) Open your home.

Porches are made for relaxation and they need to be ready at all times for company. Stop what you are doing to “sit-a-spell” when there is a knock on the door.

3) Share family stories.

Take out the family pictures and tell their stories. Memorialize the stories by writing paragraphs on the back of each one -(not just month and date) for all to remember.

4) Thank those who help.

Show your gratitude in work and life every day. Grandma Betty is my executive female role model. She got there by thanking all those who helped her throughout her career. From the teachers, administrators, neighbors, assistants, CEOs, landscapers and on and on. She also taught me to be grateful to and for my husband and family every moment. They are priceless.

5) Sneak treats daily.

Sneaking treats to pets (and kids) may encourage more begging, yet it shows a surprise love. There is no better feeling than having someone surprise you with an unexpected kindness. Sneaking one or two for yourself bolsters the spirit!

Happy Mother’s Day Grandma Betty, Mom.

Top Ten Ways to Make This Mom REALLY Happy!

Before we begin, let me say under no circumstances do I stand upon my high horse and say I do not do the following items in the list.  I do. I apologize to my Mom and my Mom-In-Law for slipping and sliding down the slippery slope.

The Johnson Bunch

But here is my list for my kids (and nieces/nephews/kids who call me Mom) to make this MOM REALLY Happy on Mother’s Day and beyond:

1) Quit Swearing.  Profanity is a bad habit.  It’s bad enough when you say swear words out loud but when you intentionally use them in writing, go wash your mouth AND hands.  Better yet take a shower.

2) Use table manners.   It is NOT ok to belch at dinner. Ever. Laughing after is not OK either.  It’s gross.  (Note I didn’t say belch, period – I said at dinner – I’m not that naive.)

3) Spell Check.  You have had an awesome education (or are in the process of completing one) Please check your spelling when posting, writing, texting, applying for jobs..etc., etc.,

4) ANSWER A TEXT.  Your parents know you are answering texts to those you love or are stalking.  Please answer your text to your parents immediately. This is a non negotiable. If your parents don’t have texts – and they call you, CALL THEM BACK.  It’s simple.

5) Leave the room you we’re just in a little better than when you came in.  If you find trash, empty glasses, etc., pick it up and throw it all away.  Don’t make it worse by thinking “It’s already dirty .. I’ll leave it for XXX to handle.” XXX is often MOM and MOM will revert to #1 which is a habit we are trying to break.

6) Don’t go a day without communicating.  It may be a “HI”  in a text, (remember answer texts) or a hug as you out the door; a phone call or a “like” on Facebook if you still “do” facebook.  Just touch base every day.

7) Be Honest.  No matter what.

8)  Read.  Every day read something new.  (Not the back of a cereal box) Read something from the internet, or (GASP A NOVEL)  and share your newfound wisdom. Don’t EVER stop learning.

9) Learn to love naps.

10) Play Games and LOL every day. EVERY DAY. Not once a week or “I’ll get to it”  – play a game every single day with someone you love. Your will then Laugh – and laughter makes the world go round.

Happy Mother’s Day To ME!  I have learned from the BEST. Game Night starts at 8 PM EST, gather round!