About Ali

Personal posts about Ali Cross, including personal insights, stories, family, etc.

What Am I Doing Here, Anyway?

| About Ali

Lots of people don’t bother to blog anymore because it’s not as big a thing as it once was … and I totally get that. I don’t know why I blog. But I kind of like it. Except for when I don’t. Ha! Mostly I don’t like it when I don’t know what to say. Isn’t that pretty much true of life? We want to go to a party, but don’t go because we don’t think we can handle making small talk? Because we’re not interesting, not smart, not funny, not entertaining? THAT’S ME!!! Is that you, too?

But I still kinda want to blog. So what’s a girl to do?

I’ve spent all month thinking about it and I think I’ve figured things out. I’m just gonna write what I want to write! How’s that for a deal? I honestly don’t know what you want–and trying to figure it out, trying to be something that you might like … well, I just don’t think I can maintain that. And I’d probably get it wrong, anyway, because I’m not interesting, not smart, not funny and not particularly entertaining.

But I have things I want to talk about. Maybe they’ll just be for me, a record, a journal of sorts. But maybe you’ll like them, too. Maybe you’ll find them interesting or helpful. Maybe you’ll share your own experiences with me, and I’ll be benefited, too.

So that’s where I’m at, folks! Let’s be real, ‘k? I think I’d like that a whole lot.

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You Do You, and I’ll Do Me

| About Ali

Family life can be hard. But it’s abundantly easier when I remember to just “do me.”

It was a lot of years of marriage before we were blessed with out sons. I promised myself I would never take them for granted, and if possible, I would always be there for them. I knew I wouldn’t be the perfect mother, but I was sure gonna try. Thing is, I didn’t count on them growing up to be their own people. People who would think differently than I do. Act differently. Manage themselves, organize their lives and make choices … the “wrong” way.

I want them to understand they’re doing it wrong! Why is that so bad?

Because Charlie is Charlie and Xander is Xander and neither one of them is named ali.

David and I have been married for almost twenty-five years. I can hardly believe it! I’m the child of divorced parents, so this feels like a huge victory. And really, these days any marriage that survives decades is a victory. I think there’s a few things that contribute to this success, and one of them is definitely to remember that David is himself, not me.

He won’t do things the way I would do them, or think the way I do, or even sometimes prioritize things the way I do. Believe me, I’ve tried to convince him of the error of his ways, but I’ve failed to get through to him. 😛 Really, he trained me to lay off and let him be himself.

But sometimes I forget. Sometimes I find myself in a constant cycle of frustration–with David and with my sons. It feels like “come on, come on;” like no one’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, or making the right decisions or thinking fast enough or cleaning well enough or READING MY MIND!! 

Because, silly ali, THEY ARE NOT YOU.

I’ve had a lot going on lately; lots of NovelNinjutsu work, lots of “house” work with the updates we’ve had done this summer, just … lots. And when I get caught up in my world, in my head, I start to project my worries and stresses onto my family. Which is just not cool. With David’s family reunion yesterday, which I organized, my dissatisfaction with just about everyone around me (because no one was doing what I wanted them to do, just the way I wanted them to do it) reached a critical breaking point.

And then I had a moment to breathe. A moment to recognize that I wasn’t happy and wasn’t letting the people around me be happy. A moment to remind myself that David has reached adulthood. He is a successful man. He is capable, reliable, and dedicated. Charlie and Xander are good guys. They’re capable of making it through teenagehood.

A moment to allow that I should let all of them do themselves–rock themselves–and I should do the same.

Because when I’m worrying about what everyone else is doing, I’m not doing my best ME. Even when I’m focusing on my own self, I have much I could improve on! I need every day of my life to practice being me.

Plus, when I micromanage other people, I rob them of the chance to be their best selves. And of course I want my husband to feel good about himself. And my sons to feel like I believe in them.

So I repeated the mantra “You do you and I’ll do me,” and it got me through. And helped my sons and husband have a much better time, too.

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True Greatness is Found in the Small Things

| About Ali

I’m watching the Olympics, watching the incredible achievements of these amazing athletes and I know I’m witnessing greatness.

But look who’s in the stands–all those parents, living every moment with their children. See the Toyota commercial about the parents who drive their kids everywhere for their sports. They own a piece of the greatness.

greatness

I’m not ashamed to admit that I want to be great. Don’t you? But I’m no athlete. And while I dream that my books will achieve national, even international acclaim, I want to focus on the kind of person I am, not just the Big Achievements.

Like President Hunter said, it’s the little deeds; the remembered name, the hug for a friend, the kind word. I have some friends who have set the example for me, friends who are truly great and kind and generous. I want to be like them.

They might not stand on a podium with a gold medal around their necks for all the world to see, but they embody the essence of true greatness.

So I will serve and love and strive to be present with the people in my life and hope to be great.

How will you achieve greatness?

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Am I Still a Writer?

| About Ali, About Writing

These days, I’ve been wondering if I’m still a writer. I don’t write a ton. I don’t finish much. I’m even short on ideas. I don’t book dream. Just don’t … anything.

I wrote a book during the last year, so there’s that. But I don’t like it and while doing revisions gave up on it. I have another book in revisions–a book I once told the world I thought was the best book I’ve ever written–but now I can’t bear to look at or even think about.

I think I’m still a writer because I can’t imagine doing anything else. And I recall a time or two in the past when I went through a cycle like this. But it seems this pass is lasting a really long time.

It could be summertime. That amorphous time of year when children are out of school and my schedule is unpredictable and the heat inflames my symptoms and makes me less productive.

Or it could be because I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks.

Seriously. I’m wondering if this has a lot to do with it. It’s not that crazy a thought–as a writer it’s important to read a lot, but maybe I’m reading so much that my own creativity is being snuffed out by that of others. It’s a theory worth testing, don’t you think? Even the idea of not listening to a book kind of freaks me out. I think I’m addicted. But I miss writing–and I need to know.

Am I still a writer?

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My Favorite Family

| About Ali

Recently, my husband, sons and I returned to Ontario, Canada to see my family. My sons hadn’t met most of them and I was eager for them to make some connections. I didn’t know what to expect–sometimes I expected the worst and thought my brothers wouldn’t care about our visit at all, and other times I expected we’d be welcomed home with open arms and my boys would discover they had awesome uncles who they could relate to.

My expectations, both good and bad, were met. But the good far exceeded the bad.

I discovered that I have family. Real family, who care about me and my children. Family who wanted to know about my boys, family who want to stay in touch with us, see us again, come visit us, spend time with us. Family who love us.

When I was a girl, I pretty much dismissed my family. As the baby, separated by eight years from the youngest sibling, and raised by a single mom where they were raised by both parents, I felt disconnected from my siblings. I clung to the differences between us and the habit spread to my relationships with everyone in my family until I felt I had burned all the bridges between us.

Thank goodness it really is possible to grow and change even when you’re in middle age. It truly is never too late to choose love.

There are disappointments in life, and being the closest people to you, the ones you might expect the most from, our family is going to let us down. Some maybe more than others. But while you might not connect to a few of them, there is always hope that someone out there will appreciate their connection to you.

That’s been my experience, at least. Even after turning my back on them for forty-plus years, most of my family welcomed me and my children home with wide-spread arms. They loved us without question, including us in their definition of family, and I can’t tell you what a profound impact that’s made my soul.

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I have family. My sons have family. I have neglected them for far too long, but it doesn’t have to continue. They are worth cherishing. They deserve my attention and care. I want to know them, I want them to know me and mine. I want to belong to them as much as i want them to claim me.

Because humans are designed to connect. We’re not intended to be a lone man or woman, forced to forge through life alone. We are all family, all connected in one way or another, because we all need to belong.

I belong to the Nelsons. I know it now. I will never again deny them or question their commitment to me. I am theirs and they are mine.

I’d love to know about your relationship with your family–have you always been close them? Are you close to them now? Or have you, like me, struggled to find that love connection?

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She Dips Her Toe in the Water

| About Ali

This was hard to do. Like playing hooky from school and you find it’s harder to go back than it is to stay away. What should I blog about? I don’t have anything to say! On and on … oh the angst!

I actually think I have so much to say but it’s so new, so tender, that it’s hard to put into words. I traveled home to Toronto for the first time in twenty years. I learned things about myself and others, had personal revelations, grew spiritually, had a birthday, felt a desire for change.

I’ve said many times before that I love new beginnings. New Year’s Day, birthdays, Monday mornings.

At my birthday, I like to identify a couple things to improve on for the next year. This year I decided that I want to focus on my family history/genealogy. I figure it’ll be a twofer because I’m bound to personally improve by serving my family by finding my ancestors and doing temple work.

Whew. I dipped my toe in the water and I didn’t die! In fact, it felt a-ok.

What about you? Do you like new beginnings? Are you “in” to self-improvement? How’ve you been the past few weeks?

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I’m Leavin’ on a Jet Plane!

| About Ali, News

It’s super late and I have to be at the airport in five hours. Why do I always do this? This time I actually thought I was super prepared and I’m STILL doing things this late at night!

I was going to be awesome and schedule blog posts to go up while I was away but alas … I was busy being awesome in other ways!

I’m heading off with my men to Ontario, Canada–where I’m from–for an epic adventure of meeting my family and seeing my old stomping grounds and lots and lots of wonderful family time and fun.

Lots of love to all of you and I’ll see you in TWO WEEKS! <3

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It Feels Good to be at Peace Again

| About Ali

Do you ever go through periods when you don’t feel like yourself? Not your best, not happy, not relaxed in your own skin? Well that’s been me for a while now. I know exactly the reason, just not the cause.

The reason, was I’d lost my connection to God. Not everyone needs that connection, but I really do. I always have, since I was a little girl and had those tea parties with Jesus. Sadly, Jesus doesn’t join me for tea parties anymore–life might be a whole lot easier if He did.

No, now that I’m all grown up, things are a bit more complicated. Isn’t that just the way of life? Everything is more complicated. Or at least it feels like it.

Anyway, I haven’t felt the Spirit in my day-to-day life, which means I haven’t felt peace or comfort deep in my core. I haven’t felt comfortable saying my prayers, which means I haven’t been able to meditate over the blessings and challenges in my life, leaving my heart and mind befuddled.

The end result? An ali that’s a bit out of wack. A little less cheerful, a little less easy-going, a little less free.

The cure, like so many things in this grown-up life, is just to start doing the things things that draw myself closer to God, even if it feels stupid, silly, pointless, boring or even discouraging. There are many ways to worship God, to draw nearer to Him–scripture study, prayer, church attendance, temple attendance, service … I’m sure there’s more, too. I needed to start with the basic stuff, the easy stuff: One prayer, at the end of my day. Trying to recognize the Spirit in my life each day–just one moment. I also tried to find something pray about each day.

The first thing I noticed was how my attitude changed when I paid attention to times when I felt the Spirit. Guess what I discovered? You can feel God in almost any moment if you’re looking for Him. On my morning walks along the canal. In a moment with my son. Or even a snuggly moment with my dog! (Have you seen my dog? The cutest little bud ever.) Point is, God is everywhere, I just had to open my eyes, or rather my heart.

My super awesome buddy, Rocky

Next, I felt more compassion growing in my heart when I tried to find things to pray about. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I found other people to pray for, rather than myself. Which was a switch because my prayers before this had been pretty much “thankful for … blah blah blah/please bless … blah blah blah.” As in, Me, Me, Me.

Guess what I discovered? Praying is a lot easier to do, and a lot more enjoyable, when you pray for someone else and you’re somewhat prepared before you pray. My prayers have become a lot more meaningful, and have felt a lot less like a chore.

Today, i feel it all coming together. I am me again! And man, it feels good. I feel light, happy, at ease. I don’t know why this sometimes happens–that I lose touch with God and my inner peace–but it’s good to know there’s a way out when it does. Because hey, what a coincidence that when I’m down and out I usually discover that I have cut myself off from God.

Whether you believe in God or not, most of us need something to ground us, something outside of ourselves to give our lives purpose and meaning. Whatever it is, I hope you’ll take that first small step toward re-connection. A moment to meditate, or to visit with a friend. Whatever lifts you, take advantage of it. You deserve to be happy, to feel like your best self. We all do.

I’d love to know what small steps you take to reconnect when you’ve lost touch with your foundation, whatever it is.

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Are You Still Alive?

| About Ali

If you’re still alive, are you living? I mean, LIVING. Living out loud. Living in color. Living-Laughing-Loving kind of alive. Are you? Because I don’t think I am.

But I am trying. I’m learning. I’m pushing myself to step outside out of my comfort zone.

Last week I read a blog post by Michael Hyatt where he quoted author Andy Andrews in The Noticer:

If you are still alive, then you haven’t completed what you were put on earth to do.

It got me thinking about how well I’m living my life. And I wanted you to think about your life, too. My life is full of busyness. Days and days can go by with nothing much more than work, work, work. I like work, so I’d say I was “happy” if you asked me how those days were. But ask me how much time I spent laughing or loving I might be hard pressed to come up with an answer.

Sometimes I catch this song on the radio and it inspires and discourages me in equal parts.

Inspires because hey, you don’t have to wait for a fatal diagnosis to be kicked into living gear.

Discourages because, oh man. I’m wasting my days sitting on my butt with my face stuck in front of a computer screen.

Like I said, I enjoy my work and I hope that my books make a difference for some readers, that the author services are blessed for working with me. But … is that all I’m meant to do with my life? If it is, cool. But … really? Am I sure? Willing to stake my life (literally) on it? I want to think there’s more.

Michael also shared these six points made in Andrews’s book The Noticer:

  1. God has a purpose for every single person.
  2. You won’t die until that purpose is fulfilled.
  3. If you are still alive, then you haven’t completed what you were put on earth to do.
  4. If you haven’t completed what you were put on earth to do, then your very purpose hasn’t been fulfilled.
  5. If your purpose hasn’t been fulfilled, then the most important part of your life is still ahead.
  6. You have yet to make your most important contribution.

Tim’s song = L.I.V.E., lady!

Michael’s post = I’m not dead yet so there must be something more for me to do. Not just more work, but loving and laughing … making a difference, finding my purpose and fulfilling that purpose.

I’m working on “living in color” … are you?

 

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Silliness = Sanity

| About Ali

My favorite trick to cheer myself up when I’m feeling low, is to sing like a crazy person. Country songs, children’s songs … but my favorite is opera. I love to sing Caro Nome in an old witch’s voice. Or The Queen of the Night’s aria in a high, fluty kid’s voice. It cracks me up.

Silliness is the greatest gift my mom gave me. She’d sing, “Oh my finger, oh my thumb, oh my belly, oh my bum!” She’d sing “Rockin’ Robin” with me as loud as we could while we listened to the 8-track in her old, beat up Cordoba (with real Corinthian leather.)

I love quirky, wacky things … and my family knows it! Xan shared this video with me because he knew I would love it. And I do! This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me smile (and, bonus, it reminds me of the 80’s which is never a bad thing.) I hope it makes you smile, too!

 

So “sing loud for all to hear,” my friends. Embrace the wisdom of Elf and dance in the streets, sing silly songs, be wild and passionate and free. Sing and smile and laugh. And be happy.

What do you do to cheer yourself up when you’re feeling down?

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