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Showing posts from January, 2015

Line Lessons

I needed a new show to binge watch while recovering from some mysterious ailment and chose Parenthood. I watched the 2nd episode today--just skip this if you have already seen it--and got all worked up at the part where Sarah, the hardworking lawyer mom who’s trying to bond with her daughter who just wants her dad all the time is cut off in the car line by the hot, skinny, overachieving Buddhist stay-at-home mom. The latter also may or may not be trying to sleep with the former’s husband. Don’t tell me if you already know the outcome.

Anyway, seeing things like this, I instantly identify with the person who is following the rules or protocol and waiting in line as dictated. Most people I know do as well. I wrote about it a bit here. So ... Who identifies with the people who cut in line? Do the people who move immediately to the next open register even though they weren’t next in line recognize themselves in these caricatures? What about the person who cuts others off in traffic? How &#…

21 Days: Day 20 and TWENTY-ONE

It is with great relief that I'm writing this last installment. I honestly couldn't bring myself to write yesterday after suffering from a serious bout of second guessing. It's crazy how sometimes a little tiny bit of negative can infiltrate so much positive and make you question yourself.

Today, I went to the Niles campus of The Movement to hear my favorite Niles Campus pastor speak and was greeted with love, hugs, and several people thanked me for writing this blog and told me that reading about my struggles helped them. That mattered more than any criticism that had me kind of second-guessing if I was being self-indulgent or oversharing.

I strive for self-awareness, but I'm a work in progress. It is usually far easier to see flaws in others than it is to recognize them in ourselves. So I struggle on putting one foot in front of the other and praying for clarity and wisdom.

1. Each day that I woke focused on gratitude, my awareness of the goodness, grace and love ar…

21 Days: Day 19

Do any of you have that friend who repeats herself...maybe after she's had a few too many cocktails? And you're all, "yeah yeah yeah," but you love her so you listen anyway? I'm that person lately. I appreciate those of you who are still here saying, "yeah yeah yeah" and loving me anyway.

Also, this has been so deep into my every day life that my friends are asking, "Was that me you were talking about when you said ______?" Even Brad Bell said, "Was it me that advised saying bff was petty and immature?" It was. He was trying to wrap his head around some girl drama. I'm grateful for self-aware people.

1. I slept like a rock. I snoozed the 5:30 alarm. No one else gets up til close to 7 so I had plenty of time to clean up dog poop and be grateful for, among other things, a house that smells fantastic--despite the dog poop--thanks to some new PartyLite aroma melts.

2. A few years ago, Brad started having half-day Fridays. Since I w…

21 Days: Day 18

ohmygoshyouguysitisalmostover!!!! I'm pretty excited for day 21 even though today has been filled to the brim with sweet moments. I don't really plan to change much once it's over.

1. I got up at 4 a.m. because my baby guest was coming at 5:30 so I wanted to be fully awake and functional. I'm a little rusty with babies but found that it comes back quickly, especially when they are at the super cute cuddling and cooing phase. They don't require much beyond a bottle, clean diaper and snuggles. But I had plenty of time to count blessings, let the dog in and out 75 times, and get my mind right before she got here.

2. In the area of friends, I have been richly blessed. We have a wonderful circle of peeps, some of our kids' friends' parents have become great friends, but one of my greatest treasures is the amazing women in my life. Women who inspire, encourage, teach, love, cry with, fight for and accept me. I watch Super Soul Sunday every week, but I am very fo…

21 Days: Day 17

I ate a baguette today at Panera. I contemplated telling them not to include it with my otherwise Fast-friendly meal, but I didn't, and it was there, and it was delicious. I felt guilty for about 47 seconds, and now I've confessed and am moving on.

1. I woke to my alarm, which isn't my favorite. No snooze. Counted lots of blessings not the least of which being no dog messes. She needed to go out and come back in and go out and come back in about 17 times, which freed my mind to focus on nothing else but being grateful. And, "ooooh, look at all these steps before 6 a.m.!"

2. When you focus so much on gratitude and meaningful experiences, it sometimes makes it hard to narrow it down to just one. That's a good problem to have. Here was my favorite today.

I absolutely love subscription boxes. I currently get Birchbox and Bulu Box and have gotten Box of Happies, Beauty Army, Fab Fit Fun VIP. Chloe got Birchbox and Bonjour Jolie. And Lily got Kiwi Crate. So when P…

21 Days: Day 16

Okay, since I'm being pretty transparent, I have to admit that all of this openness and sharing is starting to freak me out. I'm ready to crawl back into my hermitage and recover. I could quit now, but one of my goals is to quit quitting things. Except bad things. In a minute, I'll take one hardship as a sign from the universe that I'm supposed to be on a different path. In hindsight, I often realize it was the right path. And I was supposed to climb over those obstacles.

1. I woke up at 3:27, which is baloney. After trying unsuccessfully to fall back to sleep, I got up at 4. I was grateful for extra time, and now I'm grateful that I'm still awake and not miserable.

2. For the past several months, I have been helping a dear friend write a book. We often spend more time drinking coffee and talking and dreaming and having therapy than we do writing, but still, we are working on it. Today, I started reading through the latest bit she wrote and was caught off guar…

21 Days: Day 15

It was a happy day off filled with fun little girl activities, duct tape crafts and a trip to the trampoline park complete with a mommy date. I mean, who could ask for more. And now I get to enjoy a full hour and a half of tv with my son. My cup runneth over.

1. I usually sleep fitfully on Sundays, and last night was no exception. I was wide awake at 2 a.m. listening to my son cackle and carry on with his Xbox live buddies. It actually made me happy since earlier he was in a dark place after Tom Brady and company dealt his Colts an embarrassing loss. Still, I got to sleep in and was grateful for a happy kid, a warm bed, a happy husband and a good report from my big girl who spent the weekend in the Big Apple.

2. Sometimes meaningful things are so simple that if you aren't paying close attention, you might miss them entirely. Today, a few of Lily's friends came over to make duct tape crafts for a school assignment. They work in groups to make something, then they have a little …

21 Days: Day 13 - 14

Yesterday was a blur of moving, boxes and stuff and bodies and cars and All. That. Jazz. I didn't write and beat myself up about that, but I shushed the shrew voice and am moving on.

A few days ago I downloaded an app that counts your steps, lets you log your food and water intake, and so forth. I've been reading Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath and implementing some of the healthy tips. With all the moving yesterday, I figured I would destroy that step goal. Here's the thing about that though: Your phone must be in your possession for it to work. So it was mostly, "Oh shoot, where's my phone? LILY, I need my phone. DAMMITTTT, I left my phone in the car. Ugghhhhhhh...Whatever."

The book encourages consistent healthy choices rather than some big life change. With each opportunity to choose healthy or unhealthy, you choose healthy. So after the moving we went to dinner, and I chose stir fry and didn't eat any of the rice or…

21 Days: Day 12

Well, about 50 of you are hanging in and reading this every day. I'll send you all thank you notes when it's over--most of you probably already got or are getting one though. Today was a spectacularly average day sprinkled with some fun little interactions ... impromptu chats with friends, a phone conversation with a much-missed soul sister, a snowy walk with the dog. Good stuff.

1. My day didn't start so great though. The dog woke me at 4:00 a.m. alerting me to how I'd be spending my morning -- i.e., scrubbing carpet. But, there were still plenty of blessings to count, and I had plenty of extra time to count them.

2. Historically, I've been a worst case scenario thinker. I worried about bad things happening to people I love. In the past few years, however, my life shifted to a degree that I learned to surrender and trust that everything is going to be all right.

For example, Chloe lives in another state. She traveled to two different countries last year. I don…

21 Days: Day 11

Despite how much I talk about it, I rarely see weight. That sounds silly, I know, but it comes from years of my mother's narrow focus on it. "Did you see so-and-so? Boy, did she put on weight!" and on and on and on. My brain evolved not to see it. Sometimes, I notice when people lose weight, but because of my neurotic tendency toward catastrophic thought, my immediate reaction is not that they look great or must be working out. No, I fear they have either a drug problem or terminal illness. To be fair, I've watched people in my life shrink and disappear from both of those things so it's not all in my head.

But it isn't just outsiders, I can't see it with myself or Brad or the kids. The only way I know is by the scale. I never look different to myself. Sometimes I feel different. Sometimes my clothes--and wedding ring--are tighter. When I was a little bit bigger of a nutbag, I used to get really freaked out about the wedding ring thinking it was an ominous …

21 Days: Day 10

Mmmmm, two digits. Almost halfway. We are moving a sister this weekend, which reminded me that we moved another sister last year during the Daniel Fast, which reminded me that the best part of moving is the beer and pizza after. There's not gonna be any beer and pizza, folks.

Today was a pretty normal day--a blessing as "normal" days have been the exception lately. Brad went to work, both kids went to school, and I did 47 loads of laundry and ran the errands I don't like to think about when Brad and the kids are here.

1. A good night's sleep makes for a good morning. I hit the snooze button and counted blessings for the whole snooze period. Bed, Brad, kids, friends, a whole day by myself ... so many.

2. The extra time home pretty much depleted the kids' snack cupboard, so after a meeting I headed to ALDI to fill it back up. If you didn't already know, ALDI has their buggies chained together, so you need to deposit a quarter to get a buggy, then return …

21 Days: Day 9

How 'bout those Buckeyes? There's something special about cheering together for sports that breaks down barriers. I mean you rarely see grown men so exuberantly displaying affection the way you do after a big win. Women are different, at least the ones I hang with. We can go deep, cry and pledge our undying love to each other on a random Tuesday with very little provocation. It's an interesting phenomenon, though, the guys loving each other. It's particularly endearing with this bunch since I've loved most of them for almost 30 years. Yeah, that's the good stuff.

1. What is not good stuff, however, is the sleep deficit that results from 8:30 p.m. games. Why couldn't they play on Saturday? Oh well. I was so afraid I would sleep through my alarm that I woke up about 427 times in the night. Grateful for: at 3:37a.m.--2 more hours of sleep; at 4:46--ummm...Brad's not snoring or hiccupping...oops, jinxed that; at 6:10--oh shit, I did sleep through my alarm.

21 Days: Day 8 -- LET'S GO BUCKS!

I have to write early because there's a pretty important football game tonight, and preparing physically and mentally takes a lot of energy. Additionally, my husband is home and bouncing around the house like a little kid on Christmas, and that makes it hard to write. And finally, I have to take my mom to the doctor, which also requires preparation...

Apparently, the snow plow drivers are Buckeyes fans and were already preparing this morning; at least they weren't plowing the snowy, slushy roads. It was a crappy drive to school so I used the time to give Peyton lots of useful tips about driving in the snow. It sounded a lot like, "See how close this a-hole behind me is? Don't do that." He won't drive for another year, was half asleep and not a bit interested in my monologue, but it soothed me.

1. After three lazy snow days and a weekend, when that alarm sang out at 5 a.m., gratitude wasn't my initial reaction. Ugh. Bed, Brad, kids, house, car with good ti…

21 Days: Day 7

The first week is almost over, and as far as the Daniel fast goes, I feel bloated, defeated, dissatisfied and tired of cooking. As far as the 21 days of gratitude challenge goes, I feel encouraged, satisfied, inspired and well, grateful. I've also enjoyed the consistent writing. Anne Lamott, my idol and secret soul sister (it's a secret because she doesn't know we're soul sisters) says that if you want to be a writer you have to show up at the same time every day and write. So, this has been a great exercise in showing up and writing--not necessarily at the same time, but in the same place. I'm a work in progress.

1. I love Sunday mornings, so it is super easy to be grateful for: sweet sleeping children, a warm safe home, a wonderful husband who will bring me a cup of coffee in bed as soon as he hears me roll over. I cherish these quiet minutes of gratitude in the morning.

2. Again, I feel as if paying closer attention and trying to be present has made every intera…

21 Days: Day 6

One thing I have never mastered is cooking tofu. A few weeks ago at a Thai restaurant in Pittsburgh, a perfect tofu pad Thai dish inspired me to try again. The tofu was amazing. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Mine was the same as always: Mushy. This is irrelevant other than it just happened, and I wondered if any of you had any suggestions about how to cook tofu.

Today, I had a happiness hangover of sorts. So much good in one day was overwhelming. In a good way, but still overwhelming.

1. I woke up next to my husband. That alone makes all the blessings I normally count so much sweeter because none of them would exist if not for the sweet sleeping boy next to me.

2. After I lamented Lily's lack of interest in watching movies with me, her teacher (who is my good friend) assigned her this snow day homework: Snuggle and watch a movie with your mom. She's a good egg, that one. Somebody needs to give those angel teachers a raise. Lily wanted to watch Mean Girls, whic…

21 Days: Day 5

Well, my friends, I might in fact be addicted to coffee. I had two cups this morning. But, I'm okay with that. Sick of me talking about coffee? I know, right? But I'm all freaking jacked up on the caffeine, man! This is a lot like when I quit smoking and then talked ad nauseum about quitting smoking. I was gonna link one post, but when I searched "quitting smoking" on my blog about 10 posts came up. Like I said, AD NAUSEUM. Interested in quitting smoking or reading about someone who quit/started/quit/started/quit...here you go. It has been almost 2 1/2 years since I quit the last time, by the way, so I consider myself an official ex-smoker, not that I'd ever get complacent with that.

1. Shockingly, school was canceled again today. My sweet fasting sister text me this morning and said, "How the heck are we supposed to make it through three snow days without coffee?" I took a deep inhalation of the creamy delicious cup of salvation in my hand and fessed u…

21 Days: Day 4

Well, it's official. I'm addicted to coffee. Addiction might too strong a word to describe my relationship with coffee. Maybe in love would be more fitting. I remember from one of my grad school classes some nugget about addicts needing ever-increasing amounts of their substance of choice to achieve the desired effect. Numbness. Euphoria. High. I've heard from heroin addicts that they never reach that same first-time euphoria, and that is what they are always trying to replicate. Chasing the dragon. One night, Brad and I were listening to 70's hits on Pandora, and I kept googling what the songs were about. Almost all of them were about heroin. Even James Taylor (Fire and Rain). I know, right? He seemed like the boy next door with that sweet voice. I'm way off topic. This isn't about heroin. It's just about my one delightful cup of coffee. No more. And I feel like myself again not some evil-spirit-possessed-vile-mean-nasty version of myself. Phew...

1. Anoth…

21 Days: Day 3

Today started out wonderfully. Last night, we prayed that school would be canceled today, and lo and behold at 5:45 a.m. it was. We (or I) were super excited for a day of doing nothing but watching movies and snuggling. That is a pipe dream because my little dynamo girl wants an itinerary and a social director, not her actual mom who prefers to sit curled up in a chair trying to cajole her into watching a movie or reading or just snuggling. Anyway, this morning my own mom quickly snapped me out of that daydream by sending me on a drug store errand. I won't go into detail about said errand, but suffice it to say: It was unsavory. The kind of purchase that might send someone to Walgreens incognito. Fortunately, in my advancing age, I've reached a level of self-awareness that no longer lets my self-image get wrapped up in cashiers' opinions of me and my purchases. Still. The only snuggling was with the cat.

1. I woke up easily because I was anticipating that I'd be able …

21 Days: Day 2

Most of us would rather avoid negative people who complain and never seem to find the good in anything. Naturally. Well, there's the flip side too. The overly positive people can grate on someone's last nerve. A few years ago, I belonged to a small group of church women that met regularly. I love these girls like blood to this day--they're my sisters with issues. We were a diverse group to say the least, but one lady was super positive, always in a good mood, never worried or upset, just always "trusting in the Lord. Thank you, Jesus." This was all well and good until one day when a more spirited sister snapped, "Oh, whatever!! You're just so HOLY." That's right. Even holiness can be annoying.

Who wants to be around some happy chirpy little bird (like me yesterday) when you aren't feeling particularly sunny? Not me for sure. In fact, this morning, I didn't even want to be around my self from yesterday. I read Day 1, and my higher level …

21 Days: Day 1

I woke up with anticipation and hope wondering what meaningful experience I could write about. Funny thing about that: When you approach life looking for blessings, that is exactly what comes to you. Power of attraction, intention ... call it what you will, but I'm gonna call it a fact.

1. I spent way more than 2 minutes counting plenty of blessings not the least of which was waking at my normal 5 a.m. and functioning caffeine-free--that, my friends, is nothing short of miraculous.

2. While I'm not scrolling through pictures and status updates and actually spending time being present in my own life, I have way more time to spend engaged in one of my favorite activities: Reading. So today, I took a long look at my Goodreads to-read list and requested a few from the library. Our little Cortland library doesn't always have the books I want to read, but they always get them within a week or so. Since I was really in the mood to read, and a few minutes early to pick Peyton up …

21 days of water, twigs, berries and thanks

Last year, along with our church family, we participated in the Daniel Fast. I wrote some about it here, here, and even a little bit here. This year, we are fasting again, but I feel better prepared and ready for the challenge. In addition to abstaining from caffeine, alcohol, bread and more, I've decided to add in a gratitude element.

Every morning, I spend my first few moments of consciousness thanking God for all He has given me...an amazing husband with whom I get to raise three healthy, beautiful, brilliant children...my own health...and every opportunity to use the unique gifts He placed within me to spread a little love and compassion.

Recently Rob Bell appeared on Super Soul Sunday--have you watched? It's an awesome show where Oprah talks to inspirational people and has completely replaced my Real Housewives addiction--and spoke about a 21-day gratitude challenge which includes the following daily tasks:
Spend 2 minutes counting blessingsWrite out one meaningful experi…