Monday, October 24, 2011

Bad Blogger

I know, I know. I've been a bad blogger. But give me a break! There wasn't any wifi at the beach house, and blogging wasn't exactly at the top of my list anyway. Then I came home as sick as a dog to my children (and husband) who were ready for me to re-enter their lives and enjoy our school district's fall break with them. (Gorgeous fall hiking in the mountains behind us, great fun at Cornbelly's down at Thanksgiving Point, and a wonderful family photo shoot for our annual Christmas card picture.)

Now I'm playing catch up in a big way, and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of pictures I took and what to do with them all.

Lastly, while I had good intentions of getting back on track today (but look! I did it! I blogged!), I used up my already limited computer time writing up a post for the Motherhood Matters blog. (Man, is my carpal tunnel ever hurting! Did I ever tell you how I used to accompany ballet classes at BYU as well as some studios off campus for work during my college days? Like 20 hours a week, until I started developing carpal tunnel syndrome and I promptly quit. I'll never forget my mother-in-law telling me I'd better stop because I'd really need the use of my hands as a mother someday. She was right, and I was getting tired of the music anyway. I had several hours worth memorized such that I could study for my classes while playing. Seriously.)

October is The Power of Fun, so I used my experience in Florida to create a message. I'll go ahead and leak it to you now. Enjoy! And make a comment or I'll never blog again. (That's a threat, not a promise.)

Lessons From My Sister
Cancer, Disney World, and The Power of Fun (tomorrow we'll see which title Emily choose . . .)

Last week I went to Disney World and the beach with my mom and three sisters. Before you get too jealous, it was a bittersweet “Make a Wish” type of trip for my sister with cancer. She’s been talking about going there for over 25 years--the last time she went as a child with our family--so we thought now was as good a time as any.

Much like Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea” (which I read on the plane coming home and highly recommend to every mother on the planet), I collected several personal treasures from my time with my mom and sisters in Florida. This isn’t really the place to go into detail, but I can tell you at least three things I learned from my sister about The Power of Fun.

1) Fun is a huge motivator.
My sister is not in good health to say the least. We planned this trip around her chemo schedule, so even though she wanted to walk through the Magic Kingdom we pretty much forced her to use an electric wheelchair. Even with the chair, she was exhausted by the end of the day since she needs to take powerful narcotics to keep her pain at bay. Still, she would not be stopped. We stayed at a park hotel so she could go back to rest during the day if needed, but she balked at the suggestion. We tracked down Goofy for a photo shoot, snacked on Mickey ice cream bars, and made it to every single ride on her list before heading over to Epcot for dinner and fireworks. I honestly couldn’t believe her stamina. At my cousin’s beach house she continued to surprise everyone with her determination to walk down the boardwalk to the beach, collect shells, and play in the surf.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to get moving when all you wake up to is the work, stress, and burdens of motherhood and how the opposite is true when you have something fun to look forward to? While most of our lives don’t consist of the two extremes of my sister’s--battling cancer with weekly chemo treatments or a week vacation in Florida--it is true for all of us that planning and then doing the things that we love (alone and with our children) brings a unique kind of energy that can really get us moving. That energy will transfer into other areas of our life. I also learned from my sister to enjoy those bright moments of fun to the max when they come along, because they can be fleeting.

2) Fun binds us together as families.
Everyone knows how important it is for a family to work together, but I think we’d all agree that having fun together is equally, if not more, important. My sisters and I kept commenting on how our trip was worth every bit of work and sacrifice, but that’s not what any of us will remember 10 years from now. We’ll be reminiscing about our oldest sister dancing like a fool on the beach, my sister losing her chemo beanie in a huge wave, the inside jokes about hand massages, that special birthday dinner in downtown St. Augustine, and how wet we got on Splash Mountain. Through it all, my sister with cancer kept reminding us of fun memories we created in Florida as children so many years before. That was part of the glue of our sisterhood.

Making memories together while having fun is a powerful bonding agent for any family, but especially true for families with young children who are so naturally inclined to have fun at a moment’s notice. We need to monopolize on that by creating moments and memories, both large and small, that will tie us together as families for the rest of our lives.

3) Fun brings perspective. 

Laughter truly is the best medicine, and that old saying about all work and no play making Jack (Jill) a dull boy (girl) is true as well. I’m putting words into my sister’s mouth, but it seemed clear that during those moments when she was fully absorbed in the fun at hand, she couldn’t help but stop worrying about the results of her next scan or how to meet her growing medical bills. By the end of the week I dare say she felt like her burdens were a little bit lightened.

It may not be something as big as cancer, but we all carry burdens of one kind or another as mothers. Having fun can help us forget about and even rise above those things that would otherwise bring us down. But having fun isn't just a distraction, it can actually put our problems into perspective as we turn our minds and hearts toward the joyful things in life. I think the application to motherhood is obvious.

A trip like ours was a once in a lifetime event. All of us are back home now, knee deep in every day life, but I won’t soon forget the lessons I learned from my sister about the power of fun. After getting home and finding quite a bit of chaos in the wake of my absence, it was easier than usual to ease up on my need for clean to spend an afternoon with my family hiking in the mountains on a beautiful autumn day. Life really is short, and it shouldn't take something as severe as cancer to remind us that it's meant to be enjoyed. Just ask my sister.

QUESTION: Do you have an experience when the power of fun motivated you, bound you more tightly to your family, or gave you a perspective that helped you through a difficult time? 
CHALLENGE: Try elevating your day-to-day life with the power of fun. 

If you made it this far, I'll reward you with a few pics from our trip:

Elizabeth said I look like Papa Smurf in this picture. (I never did figure out how I was supposed to wear that thing.) I love the Dad in row 2 who looks like he's about to lose his lunch. It cracks me up every time:

 It's a Small World. Do we look hot or what!? (I mean sweaty hot.)
Occasionally we had to leave Christina's electric car thingy in a place far from where we exited the ride. I always jumped at the chance to go get it and bring it back. I wanted to use the horn, but never had a good opportunity:
Man almighty, do I need to go to bed.


  1. (This comment is intended solely to keep Allyson from terminating her blogging -- you're welcome fellow "A Day in the Life" readers.)

    The do-rags make you guys look vaguely foreign. I hope you complemented the look by employing accents, too.

  2. Loved your perspective this morning. It's just so dang hard to get wrapped up in the to-do's of every day life.

  3. Allison I LOVE your blog. Please don't ever stop blogging-EVER!!!!
    Johann and I started a Club Phat challenge here with 21 other people. We are midway through week 4 and it has tranformed our lives!! I read about this from you. You inspired me and are now inspiring so many others!
    I talk about your blog posts all the time, but I hardly ever leave comments and I don't know why.
    I loved this post. Having been a cancer family I understood about finding the fun in everyday life, but somehow since life has become our "new normal" with 4 healthy kids I've forgotten about that. I've let the everyday stresses get too me too much. I needed this reminder to let things go and enjoy my kids and to make fun and happy memories with them. The dishes and laundry will be there tomorrow and the next day and really they will still be there in a week, but kids they grow and change so quickly and they need us now.
    Wow that was a long comment!! But really please don't even stop blogging. I am always so excited when you've posted and I've read and looked at all the pictures. Which by the way you take awesome pictures!!


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