Who is Mom?

Maybe its been a rough week.

Or maybe, the universe is trying to tell me something by nudging me over the edge with annoyances and frustrations so that I will finally develop a backbone and STICK THE HELL UP for myself.  I realize that no one, and I mean no one (not even the dogs) realize that I am a human being with needs and wants and desire of my own.  I realize that being taken for granted is part of the grand scheme of family life – even though I don’t believe that it is the way it is supposed to be.  And most of the time, I am perfectly okay with this.  But every once in a while my ‘cup spilleth over,’ and I become angry and frustrated and pushed to the brink of tears.

When I lift the toilet seat and see the mess that my family folk left me, it makes me feel like I am nothing but a shit picker upper.  Last night, when the entire family ate dinner without me (Chinese takeout) and then left the table and left behind their paper plates, utensils and remnants of rice and peas all over the place, I felt like I must be the hired help.  When my kids see me on the phone, or see me working yet continue to barrage me with questions and cries of “Mama, will you,” I question whether my children have any iota of what it means to be respectful to others.  Especially those ‘others’ in their life who take care of them and love them the most.

Simply said, loving our children and doing as much as we can for them, is NOT the way to foster children who are compassionate and considerate of others.  They won’t just have the revelation one day that mom is such a thoughtful, considerate person that “I think I want to be one too.”  In fact, being a doer of all things, inversely makes them selfish little overly dependent brats who never seem to grow out of the stage of thinking that the entire world revolves around them.

Guess what kids.  It doesn’t. It never will. Get. Over. Yourself.

So, like any mom – I have those moments where I just sort of get sick of it all, and blow up.  Suddenly, everyone in the house is minding their P’s and Q’s and at full attention.  The lingering tasks and chores that I have been nagging them to do for what seems like forever, suddenly get done.  They pick up after themselves, use kinder words, clean up their rooms.

Then, in the aftermath – they accuse me of being bipolar. Or about to start my period.  And say in their sweet little voices, “Mom are you okay!”

Here’s the thing.  Sometimes I get tired of doing every thing.  I get tired of being taken advantage of.  I do not exist in the world of Leave it to Beaver where washing clothes and ironing and cooking meals are the highest extent of my fulfillment.  I need MORE than that.  I want MORE than that.  And I believe that when I am triggered into a tirade, the universe is basically saying “Hey you – your gas tank is about to be completely empty.  Make some quick changes lest you lose yourself completely!”

Plus, I do want my girls to grow up as women, who may become mothers day with the knowing that it is okay to have a personality, a side of yourself that lacks any hint of maternal instinct.  I want them to know that they can have kids and a husband and a house, and not be the sole person amongst the family responsibility for cleaning up everyone’s shit. (Literally and metaphorically).  And, at some point in their lives, I want them to see me as a person of substance, who has something to offer, who has skills and feelings and talents and abilities that are beyond those compartmentalized within being a mother. 

Even more, I want this gentle awakening of realization to occur WITHOUT me having to go all freak nuts on them. 

Is that too much to ask? 

Seriously.  When you take away the curtains of motherhood, our children shouldn’t have to ask, “Who is mom?” We should give them the gift of knowing us, not just as the doer of all things, the creator of life, but as strong, happy, fulfilled women of substance.

The Gift of Sincerity – A Guest Post

The following is a guest post from my friend, my sister from another life.  The fact that she can concentrate long enough to write this while raising like 457 kids – makes her a hero.  She blogs (not enough) at http://kittyhague.blogspot.com/.

Last night, as I was reveling in the comfort of finally sinking into my soft cozy bed (seriously… if you don’t have a bed that is absolutely heavenly you owe it to yourself to make it that way. Even if you have to eat Ramen for a month. Make your bed the most awesome place…ever.) Anyway, I was laying there with nothing to think about except how good my new fabric softener smelled when my husband (who was obviously less affected by the bliss which was our bed) says to me, “If you could teach the kids one thing that they really grasped and held onto… what would it be?”

Damnit.

Why must he be philosophical at bedtime? Always. I mean, Always.?

I considered faking sleep… but I know him. It wouldn’t have mattered. He wasn’t going to let it go. I wiped the drool that was already beginning to pool on the pillow side of my mouth (yes, I’m a habitual sleep-drooler) and began the process of clearing the cobwebs. My first thought was “I would like to teach them that when someone has spent all day mothering seven children and a man-child and she has finally climbed into her happy place and engulfed herself in Mountain Sunshine scented bliss;  if you love her…even a little bit… you should never, ever, wake her to ask her to participate in a conversation for any purpose other than the prevention of the death of an immediate family member. If the house is on fire… try to put it out yourself, call the fire department, evacuate all the children to the pre-determined meet up spot, and THEN come ask her if she would rather get out of bed… or wait a little bit to see if it burns out on its own.”

That was clearly the cobwebs speaking though. So I bit my tongue and gave myself another moment.

What would I want my children to really take to heart of I could teach them one thing.

“Sincerity”, was my answer. The importance of being sincere. Always.

See, children are born with a perfect understanding of sincerity. It is natural to them. It is why we all roll our eyes and joke that “Kids say the darndest things…”. Kids don’t say they “darnedest” things. Kids are honest, and kids are sincere, and that strikes us as funny. Unfiltered sincerity makes us a little uncomfortable… so we laugh about it and chalk it up to kids being kids. Somewhere along the way, as kids grow up, we teach them that sincerity is not a good thing. Kids will say something honest and we correct them.

“I don’t want to play with Johnny. He breaks my toys because he plays too rough with them, and he smells bad.”

How many parents first reaction is to say, “Now now… don’t be mean. Johnny can’t help that he smells bad. It isn’t nice to say that. He doesn’t mean to break your toys… you need to be nice and share with him.”

Here’s what the response should have been. “You know, you’re right. Johnny does stink. Maybe his mom didn’t teach him to wipe his bum properly. Maybe he doesn’t brush his teeth as often as he should.  I will talk to Johnny’s mom about it and see if maybe she can help Johnny out.”

No… I’m being serious.  Honestly, it would probably be best for Johnny and his mom to know that people are talking about his smell… wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t they then be able to take measures to correct it so that Johnny isn’t the smelly kid….forever? In theory, most of us believe that. But it is really hard to be the one to tell Mrs Smelly Kid that there is a problem. Its easier to just fake it.

And what about the broken toys? Is it okay to force our kids to allow other people to mistreat their belongings? Society, with a few awesome exceptions, tells us that we must teach our children to share. But sharing when it is forced, isn’t sharing at all. What we are telling our kids, when we force them to share with someone they have deemed unfit to use their belongings, is that their happiness is less important than the happiness of others.

Some argue that is a noble idea; teaching that the happiness of others should always come before your own happiness. They teach that selflessness is the most favorable of all attributes in a perfect society. I disagree…but that is another rant, entirely.

If a child has a valid reason for not wanting to share, why would we force them to share?

Kids who are told over, and over and over again that it isn’t “nice” to be honest or that their needs come after everyone else’s needs are being set up for failure in what can be a harsh world.

If I could teach my kids one thing that they would really hold on to and apply every single day, it would be that you should always say what you believe. Even if it seems mean. Even if it isn’t popular. Even if it makes you, or others uncomfortable. We say, “honestly is the best policy” and yet most of us don’t actually believe it. Most of us believe “to pacify is the best policy”… let’s make everything smooth and easy and comfortable. There, that’s nice isn’t it?

But that isn’t what life is about. Life isn’t about making everyone like us, all the time. Life is much bigger, and much more important than the opinions of others. Life is about making hard choices, and making real progress. It is about trials and failures and successes and heart breaks. How can we ever hope to know ourselves, to make any change for good in this world, or to affect anything of importance if we fear the consequences of sincerity?

I want my children to be happy. I want them to have friends…real friends. Friends who value them as forces of nature; strong and kind and independent and honest… not friends who like them because they are doormats. I want them to know, and understand, and apply every single day, the idea that if everyone likes you… there is a good chance that you have never stood for anything.

And as I felt my “Philosopher husband’ twitch next to me, I realized I had lost him at the Smelly Kid.

Pfffft… Amatuer.

The 4-Day Q-Tip Experiment – IT SUCKS

I guess that I am bored – or OCD, or perhaps just uninteresting.  Any one who has the time or inclination to actually follow through with  4-day Q-Tip experiment, definitely doesn’t have enough to do and shows signs of some sort of ‘disorder’ right?

Even so – I did it anyway.

Firstly, It’s summer time, which of course means that the mess in my home has been amped up like a zillion times the norm, along with noise levels, food consumption, talking,  towel washing (because of the pool), toilet paper usage, the non-flushing of toilets, wrappers and trashed being stuffed in the couch cushions and of course bickering.  I pretty much spend my time from dusk till dawn on the edge of my seat just waiting for something frustrating to happen.

Well, the other day – I had enough already.  I told the kids that they had been off for two weeks now and that there would be some rules. No one is allowed to put a dish in the sink and instead has to wash it. When the dryer beeps, they have to stop what they are doing and race to empty the contents.  Trash goes in the trash can. When they are hungry, they have to find something to eat for themselves rather than whimper, “mama, I am hungry!” And, if they don’t want me to bitch about how dirty their rooms are – they need to keep the doors closed.  So far it’s worked out well.

Then on Wednesday, I noticed a bent, dirty Q-tip lying on the hallway floor between the living room and kitchen.  I am not a fan of used Q-tips. Probably because I find them everywhere, with the ends tinged yellow and brown.  (Yes, I am that crazeee mom who actually lets kids use Q-tips in their EARS….I know shock and horror).  It’s just plain gross. Grosser than a used tissue, and just as gross (to me at least) as going into a public restroom and finding someone has forgotten to flush their floating friends. But a Q-tip lying in the most traveled pathway of the house?

find-2(NOTE NOTE NOTE – THIS is NOT the ACTUAL Q-TIP)

“Whose Q-tip is this?” I quipped, of course only to receive the generic response NOT MINE!  “Well, I AM NOT, picking it up – so I suggest that someone picks up this gross, bent, discolored, germy Q-tip up and puts it in the trash”  (Which by the way is only a few feet away.

Whatever happened after that, I promised myself that I would not sweep, vacuum, or bend down to pick up that said Q-tip.  I figured the kids, by hearing my tone of voice when I ‘suggested’ it got picked up, would swoon in and take care of this little oversight.  I figured if they didn’t my husband would.

Now, fast forward to Sunday.  Yesterday.  And guess what little visitor was still lying practically unscathed in nearly the exact same spot that it was on Wednesday?  Yep – THE Q-TIP.

How do my family members not see it?  How do they invite their friends over, and not feel embarrassed that there is a used ear cleaner lying on their floor?  How many times did they just look down, see it and walk on over it over the course of 4 days?  Why is it so damn hard to pick up a Q-tip?  Or throw away an empty toilet paper roll?  Let me just say, I noticed that Q-tip practically 641 million times over the last four days.  I dreamt about the Q-tip.  I closed my eyes hard and prayed that someone, anyone – would pick up the Q-tip and throw it in the trash so that I could dance in circles under the full super moon.

Nope.  Nada.  Not a chance.  As of last night, the Q-tip – which has now collected dust and dirt from the hard wood floors, still sat in its happy little home on the hardwood floor.  Really!?!

Apparently, I am raising a bunch of gross and disgusting kids, girls nonetheless – that although will NOT step foot in a porta-potty, and have an emotional meltdown when one of their siblings take a sip from their glass, or touch their food – they are not bothered by some persons unknown ear wax lying on the floor.

The good news is that this morning the Q-tip was gone.  Maybe some big roach came and picked it up and carried it off.  Maybe it got stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoes and they unknowingly carried it out of the house.  Maybe the friendly ghosts that creep around my home at night just decided to extend their immortal arms and remove it so I could move one.  Who knows.  Who cares. But I do know, that I DID NOT PICK IT UP.  And when I asked the kids who picked up the Q-tip, they all quoted from The Little Red Hen and said, “Not I!”

My advice.  Don’t bother with a 4-day Q-tip experiment.  You will only be disappointed. Instead, choose to move on and pay attention to the positive things in your life rather than the dirty Q-tips.  Trust me, you will be much, much happier.

Compassion – Who Really Gives a Rats @ss Anymore?

imagesThe other day, my 15-year-old and I were having a conversation about the state of the world. 

It was prompted by the Boston Bombings, and became a discussion about the tangled trail of human tragedies and her belief that people today don’t really give a crap about other people.  In fact, she said, “People don’t really give a rats @ss about things or other people unless it is happening to them or affects them personally.”

I tried with a hopeful heart to point out all the good things people do.  The way communities come together to help a family, the way churches and organizations form to volunteer time and resources to help others.  The good things that often stem from a tragedy, the friendships made in cancer wards etc.  She wasn’t buying it.

She told me a story about a boy in her class who committed suicide last year.  Up until he did so, she said the teachers and administrators at her school as well as the bulk of the student body were ‘mean’ to this kid.  She believed he had been written off, despite that he was known for smoking pot and getting into trouble and was probably in need of some help.  Then, his funeral turned into a city-wide event – and filled a church to the gills and beyond with people crying and sobbing what she believed were fake tears of guilt.  Many of these same people decimated by his death, adults and children alike,  were the very ones who had nothing good to say about this boy, and who never once reached out a hand or extended themselves to him.  In her eyes the mourning and production in the aftermath was fake, and only a resolution to guilt that people were feeling for treating this young man as disposable to begin with.  And she points out that today, almost a year later – very few people even talk about this young man anymore.

She talked about how at school most young people only get involved in other people’s problems because they are nosy, and likened it to rubber- neckers on the highway slowing down to see an accident.  For a split second they feel compassion, they may offer a word of kindness or some advice, or metaphorical blanket of warmth in the moment - perhaps send up a prayer – but then they move on and give the situation little further thought because it didn’t affect them.

She had in fact, tons of examples of fake compassion.  And although a large part of my hippy self wants to believe that there are a lot of people in this world who truly care, and who truly reach out to others – I have to admit that in many ways she is right. 

There are more people who are willing to remain complacent than there are who are willing to give something – whether it be their time, resources or heart.  We do tend to easily forget, quickly discard, and rapidly un-invest in anything that doesn’t affect us personally.

Sure, we all feel bad about things that happen.  We all hate to see people suffering, see the loss of life, see horrific tragedies like bombings or mass shootings.  And while it may instill many of us with fear and anger – the awful reality is that the majority of the world just moves on shaking their head.  If you gathered the percentages of those that help compared to those that do nothing – it would likely be shockingly low in relation to the overall population.

Why do people help?  What makes someone reach out to someone with an honest heart and compassionate soul?  For those that do because they care, it is simply that.  They careAnd they see humankind as an extension of themselves and realize that if they are able to help and spread love, then they should.  They even feel compelled to do so at a deep self and spiritual level.

And yet, in my young daughters defense, there are plenty of people who reach out momentarily only to relieve their own guilt or fear or anger or resentment about situation.  And plenty of other people who will message you on FB, approach you in the grocery store, or send you a text to check on you just so they can find out what is really going on in your life.  The information alone satisfies them, although their reaching out is done under the veil of compassion – it isn’t really compassionate at all.  It is self-serving and riddled with guilt.

I am not sure that there is a solution to this, or even if this can be classified as a problem.

Perhaps we are living in a world that has become desensitized to one another – that is living by a motto of “every man and woman for himself.”  Or perhaps this is just a defense mechanism so that we aren’t overloaded with fear and misery, and overwhelmed by taking on the broken wings of every bird in the world.  Truth is, I don’t know the answer.

She asked me if our house burned down, who would help us?  She asked me if I were to die and her and her sisters were to lose their mother, how long would it be before people forgot and moved on with their own lives?  And as far as the bombings and mass shootings and terrorist attacks – she reminded me that as soon as the news coverage is over, most will just forget and move on – while thousands of others will be affected for the rest of their lives. And she’s right, the ones personally affected will never forget.  But the rest of us, sadly….will.  Or will at least push it to the back of our minds.

She said, “Mom, is giving those people water – or collecting their shoes or selling t-shirts, really enough?  Or is it just a way for people to make themselves feel better about themselves – boosting their own ego temporarily?” 

I will admit that I was left in awe of her wisdom.  And saddened by her lack of faith in humanity.  I like to believe the best about people.  I like to think that I have raised my daughters to find the good in others, and to be compassionate souls.  But having people literally run over your dog in front of your house – then drive away without even slowing down to apologize while you stand there and watch a beloved pet die – leaves a sharp scar about the compassion in this world.

Still, I will continue to point out the good things to my daughter.  Will continue to try and keep her faith in humanity as inherently good alive.  I just wish the world would help me out a bit.

What’s your take?  Do people really care about one another?  Or are many acts of kindness just ways to inflate our own egos?

 

 

 

 

Can a Licensed Professional Counselor Get You OUT of the Mom Funk

CLIPART_OF_83319_SMJPG-2A few weeks ago, I wrote my article about the Mom Funk.  (If you haven’t read the article check it out!) The article was inspired by my waking up one rainy morning at 6:15 am, rushing to the kitchen and realizing that making peanut butter sandwiches that early in the day – for other people (no matter how much I love those other people) was a tad depressing.  After all, I do the same thing every day, at the same time every day.  (Although some days, I make ham sandwiches instead of peanut butter, which is kind of exciting!)  I was so overwhelmed that I started looking for help, which led me to this north Carolina licensed professional counselor.

Did peanut butter sandwiches, mounting laundry piles, a sink full of dishes, smelly arm-pits, physical exhaustion, a lack of creativity and motivation really mean that I needed professional help?  I don’t know.  But I do know this.

Here’s the thing.  Life is monotonous.  For women, for mothers – and hell, even for fathers and our children and teenagers - life is often about settling into routine that works.  But just because it works doesn’t mean that it is fulfilling, or satisfying, or that it prompts us to be at our best creatively and emotionally.

Prolonged, the feeling of being stuck in a rut can lead to all sorts of anxiety disorders, stress problems, and even depression.  When those feelings strike – its easy to feel like a total failure because the reality is – we all have so much to be grateful for.  How can we feel stuck in a rut, or bored, or restless, or depressed, or anxious – when we have so much abundance in our lives.

That is my number one pet peeve with self-help.  Often, it doesn’t tell us that it is okay to feel bad.  We are reminded to choose our destiny, choose our thoughts, take control of our own happiness to the point that when we don’t have those ‘cushy unicorn feelings’ we feel like failures.

My advice is short and simple!  Talk it out.  Talk to a friend, your mother, your aunt.  If your neighbor will stand at the fence long enough to listen to you rant – then use her ears as a sounding board.  See a counselor, or a therapist if you are truly overwhelmed with your duties in life, or need to be redirected to find inspiration.  Lean on your spouse.  Have a conversation with your dog or your kitty cat.  Use Facebook as a place to vent so that you feel less alone, because you will be surprised at the amount of people who come out of the woodwork to say, “HEY, ME TOOOOO!”  And this, feels validating.

My friends, we all have problems or issues.  There are times when each of us needs someone to lean on.  If you don’t know who to turn to, look for a counselor – or email me, and I will at the very least try to make you laugh!

 

**This is a sponsored post, but all opinions, advice and ideas are my own**

Special Needs Child Meets “Me” The Asshole

I hope that most of you will read beyond the title, before berating me for what I realize now was discrimination against a special needs child. 

This is a story about awakening, about being re-acquainted with my value for each and every human – regardless (and sometimes despite) their behavior.  But mostly, this is a tale of understanding.  About never forgetting.

As humans – we tend to find fault or anger or make false judgment against things we don’t understand. That doesn’t make it right, or valuable.  We cannot just go around saying, “Well, I didn’t know all that,” and then find comfort in our belief systems that anyone who is different is not ‘right.’  And we certainly cannot expect to know each and every childs (persons) story – or think we have a right to knowing their story, before we can excuse or accept them for who they are.

I make no excuses for myself, except for sheer ignorance.  I tend to believe that I am an extremely understanding individual, and have tried to teach my kids that there are all sorts of people in this world and that we have to try to accept them all.

When it comes to the human beings that land on this planet, I do not believe there are any mistakes.  They are ALL here, WE are all HERE for a reason.  There is not ONE singular exception to this rule….

I am bit embarrassed to admit however, that I too – have unknowingly discriminated against a special needs child.  Not outwardly of course, but inwardly – within the confines of my mind and in conversations with my young daughter.

There is a particular child in my daughters kindergarten class who seems to be constantly out of sync.  On the multiple times that I have visited the classroom, all I notice is his bizarre and impulsive behavior and his lack of self-control.  My daughter comes home every day and tells me yet another story about this ‘little boy in her class’ who has once again, done ‘such and such.’

I always tell her shaking my head with disgust, “Well just stay away from him,” or “Maybe there is something wrong with him.”

I have told her that there are just some kids in this world that aren’t disciplined, and that have problems and that some kids just act badly at school.  Bad.  Badly.  (Words that I am ashamed to admit I used about a 6-year-old boy).  Rotten bananas are bad, not kids.

And yes, I will shamefully admit that I have felt sorry for his parents, have wondered what was wrong with his mother and father – and been curious about what atrocious things must be going in his home for him to act so strangely at school.  And, YES, I will further admit that I have felt resentment that this one child has taken up so much time in the conventional classroom, time away from the kids who did fit into the perfect mold of kindergarten academia.

Here’s the thing.  I didn’t know one thing about this boy.  Not one.  Just his name.  And yet I saw him as a ‘threat’ a ‘detriment’ and a person that “normal” kids should not have to deal with on a daily basis.  Yes, I did just write that sentence.  And yes, I feel like a complete and total asshole for admitting that here on a public blog. 

One of my all time favorite Facebook Pages/Blog is The Crumb Diaries.  I look forward to her posts everyday about her son Logan, who is a special needs teen.  I know all about indigo children (as I have one of my own), and I have fallen in love with Logan and his mother (they have no idea who I am) by reading her daily posts about life with Logan.  I have grown to see him as not special needs, but simply special. 

When I was young I wanted to be a writer AND a special needs teacher? 

I have always been able to pick out the kids in this world with a broken wing and extend my hand and my heart openly to give them wings.  So what the hell was wrong with me?  When did I become such a bitch? 

In a short conversation with someone who knew this child well and knew HIS story  I was swallowed whole with guilt and remorse for my feelings toward a child.  A child!   A fewllow human being.  I was guilty for words that I used to describe him without knowing HIS story.  Here I am writing a blog segment called Stories of Us on this blog, and yet I was forgetting that even children have stories that don’t necessarily read like an open book.  They are thrown into this world of standards and rules and when they don’t seem to fit into the puzzle – they are discarded or judged.

Had I really stepped so far off my moral and spiritual road to think that my thoughts were EVER okay?  Apparently, I had.  And apparently the Universe was going to remind me that although my kids may ‘look and act perfect’ on the outside – human perfection and love comes in all different wrappers.

Here’s what I didn’t know.  (Not that it should matter)

But, this boy was found in a dog crate at the age of 18 months while living with his drug addicted mothers home.  He had never had anything to eat at that point in his life – except a bottle.  He spoke not a word.  There’s more to the story that I wont share now, but you can rest assured that he is now in a loving and healthy home.

Here he was 4 1/2 years later, a handsome and healthy young boy with some developmental delays and some emotional problems.  I skimmed the playground to find him and saw him hugging a classmate.  When he accidentally got bark in another child’s face, he ran to the teacher to immediately confess and get a hug.  In fact, he hugged his teacher many times during that short 30 minutes.

There wasnt a ‘mean’ or ‘bad’ bone in this childs body and his heart, when I was really looking at HIM, not his differences - was as honest and pure as crystal.  C.R.Y.S.T.A.L!  And perhaps that is exactly what made him different.

As we walked back to class, me still reeling from my own guilt and horror – I stood back to walk with him as he seemed distracted following the line of students headed back to the building.  He accepted me as a friend without apprehension or shyness.  I looked into his eyes and wondered if he was ever held as a baby,  ever rocked to sleep.  There aren’t words to describe the despair I felt for him.  I grabbed his hand, and he told me – a perfect stranger – that he loved me.  And I think that he meant it.

I think that he really meant it, as tingles shuttered through my body as if I had just touched an angel. I knew I didn’t deserve to be loved in that moment, especially by him – a perfectly beautiful child, who I had written off as a ‘bad egg’ so to speak. 

Our teachers come in all shapes and forms.  This day, my teacher, my messenger from the Universe was a small boy with warm hands and a big heart that I may have missed out on seeing due to my own close-mindedness.

I have never once considered myself close minded until this moment in my life.

The truth is, I shouldn’t have had to learn his story to be accepting.  That is our responsibility from the get go, to accept others.

No one has a responsibility to share with us the reasons, or diagnoses, or unexplained history, or medical definitions of why anyone is the way they are.  We (I) cannot walk around this world with a box to compartmentalize people by shape, size, or color as if we are all Legos. 

Sure, we are all one small part of a bigger plan – a larger picture, a massive and tall Lego tower, where each of us has a place to belong – but none of us have any right to make decisions about where that place is.  Not ever.

In the end, it was me with the special need – not this little boy.  And I am grateful, that he was there to teach me, to put me back on the path of real human acceptance and love.

 

Habemus Papam – Lessons for All of Us

The pope.

If someone were to ask me a week ago what the Pope’s name was, I would have said – with some authority – Pope John Paul the (insert number).  I grew up a long time ago, during the John Paul Pope eras, and under the influence of Catholic churches.  We went to mass, not church.  Much of what was said during church was in Latin.  We had CCD, and didn’t go to church on Wednesdays.

Now, I live immersed in the Bible Belt.  Fire and brimstone Baptist churches on nearly every corner.  So far, my family and I have not found a fit that works for us – which by  no means, indicates that we are ungodly.

The last few days however, have re-introduced me to something that I feel is so incredibly lost in this world. 

As the Cardinals were locked in choosing the new Pope, I would watch with a whimsical heart the people gathered around the Sistine Chapel, with binoculars in the square outside.  As the puffs of black smoke, indicating no decision had been made, stoked out of the chimneys, even from thousands of miles away, I could feel the emotion.  The connection.  The deep and emotional bond to what in some form or another is a part of our history as humanity.

And I have to say that it was breathtaking. 

While the media felt there was a need to transcribe and talk, and over evaluate and translate every thing being said and done, the truth is that a watchful eye – a Godly heart (from any religion or belief system) needed no outside assistance to be understood.

Despite the fact that the new Victor of Christ has been systematically elected in a process virtually untouched from centuries ago,  just TODAY – the truth is it probably feels much like it did centuries ago.

The beauty in the ceremony and the tradition, is not something that we see today.  Even presidential elections are riddled with corrections to history that seem to make them nothing but a necessary evil of being elected as the President of the United States.  I expect no distractions from this election, which was likely sincerely led by Godly intervention and ASKING – as we too often encounter in so many other areas of life today, from beauty pageants to local elections.

There are so few things in this world that we, the people – haven’t screwed up.  There are so few things in life, in which our worlds from one continent to another collide so effortlessly.  This isnt being turned into a South American versus a European ‘thing.’  It is a only being seen as a part of of our unity to one another.  A unity that spans language, and time, and follows tradition. 

For me, watching this unfold has nothing to do with religion, or choosing a church, or believing in God.  It has to do with waiting for something as simple as white puffs of brilliant smoke to pipe from a chimney to alert the world that a new leader has been chosen.  And then, the immediate reception with people cheering and booming Habemus Papam, from the courtyards surrounding the Sistine Chapel.  I wish I could have experienced what it was like in that moment to actually be there.

Pope Francis is here.  His name, probably rightfully so for the world we live in today - defined means simplicity and humility and poverty.

I believe that each of us could afford a little more simplicity and humility in our lives.  And I do think at times, that whatever (and regardless of) our spiritual beliefs, many of us – have become poverty-stricken spiritually - lacking values and ignoring our connection to the singular thread that at some level, at some point in ALL OF OUR HISTORY - binds each of us to one another.

Confession – I Suffer From Dentist Dental Dread

dental imageI can still remember the name of my childhood dentist.  His name was Dr. Pincock, and I hated him.  Back then – you know in the days when parents could care less what kind of bed side manner a physician had with their children, nothing like those at Orem Dentist ,I would sit in his chair as quietly as possible while he did whatever it was he did with my teeth.  We never got cool coins after cleanings, got berated for having cavities and certainly didn’t have movies to watch while we lain helpless  in the chair.

We DID have laughing gas – and that’s about the only thing I can remember enjoying about my dental visits. In fact there are some days now that I wish I had a tank of laughing gas I could attach to.  

Funny thing is that I have NEVER ever really gotten over my fear of the dentist.  I started having adult dental issues when I was pregnant with my twins.  I had to have 2 teeth pulled, and of course – they used the short-term Novocaine so that it would be safe during pregnancy.  I can remember cancelling, not showing and rescheduling this appointment six million times.  Finally, I did it – but I it took me over an hour to get to the appointment because the dreaded ’fear diarrhea’ hit me and I had to stop at least 8 times to use gross bathrooms.  (Which is difficult enough when you ARENT pregnant)

Over the last year, I have had a multitude of dental issues.  I use the excuse that dental work is expensive as a reason not to get these issues taken care of.  And I even lived for  months with the sort of excruciating pain that disables people.  I visited with my doctor, had a CT scan, met with a neurologist and was diagnosed with some sort of neuralgia.  Turns out, all the pain and misery that I was going through was really due to yet another tooth.  Apparently, all it would take to end this cycle of pain and taking way too much ibuprofen was to have the tooth pulled.  Simple, right?

The funny thing is that once I had the appointment to get the tooth pulled, all the pain went away.  So I figured I didn’t really need to have it yanked after all.  This is what people with irrational fears do – they make excuses and find reasons to avoid their fears.  So, I waited.

I’m sure you can guess where I am going with this.  About a month ago, the tooth, face, head, neck pain all returned with a fury.  Instead of calling the dentist, I do what I always do – and started using every home remedy from vinegar to hot sauce, turmeric and aspirin – to try to cure the pain.  Eventually, I made an appointment for this past Monday.  I had literally talk myself in to it.  My mother in law offered to give me a Xanax before my appointment to help ease my fear.

Sounds stupid – but this fear, is REAL!  REAL I tell ya.  I can break out in a cold sweat just thinking about it.  As fate would have it, I got an appointment reminder Sunday evening that my daughter had a orthodontist appointment the  next morning, at the exact same time that I was scheduled to have this stupid tooth pulled.  So I did what any person living in denial and fear would do.  I cancelled MY appointment again.

I really hate myself for being this afraid of the dentist.  I also really hate the discomfort I live with all because of a tooth.  I also am having a hard time rationalizing this dental dread.  I can easily call and make the appointment – but the reality is, I might not go.

Maybe I need someone to come and hold my hand.  Maybe I need copious amounts of laughing gas.  Maybe I need Xanax.  Or maybe, I could just woman up a little – realize that I survived birthing 4 kids and engorged boobs, and just go have this tooth pulled.  I know that this fear of the dentist, which I can only blame on Dr. Pincock, is much more frightening than actually having the tooth pulled.

So today, I am asking for help!  Rub my hair and tell me it will be okay.  Remind me that people get teeth pulled every day.  Offer to come with me and hold my hand.  Tell me the wonderful stories of your own dental experiences.  You know, treat me like a big baby and don’t judge me because I am admitting raw, carnal fear of something that rationally, I realize is ridiculous.

Anyone else afraid of the dentist?  Or is there something else lurking in your psyche that makes you turn into a 2-year-old looking for the monster under the bed?

 

(Yo, this is a sponsored post!  But all opinons, ideas and fears are completely my own!)

Pocketful of Joules – Blogger Winter Swap

296925_350131478402580_1223385214_nI hate winter.  And I hate mail.

Winter is cold and the mail only seems to deliver me bills, or fancy catalogs filled with things that I cannot afford to buy.

So when Joules over at Pocketful of Joules, (which by the way if you havent checked her out, YOU NEED TO) was looking for participants in her winter blogger swap, of course I opted in.  Imagine, getting something in the mail that would make the trek through the cold wind to the mailbox actually worth it!!!!  Plus, I am a firm believer that on our worst days, or when the world feels like it is about to cave in around us – the Universe will always come through with something good, exciting, happy, and fun that reminds you are a worth it.

Sadly, being a participant – it meant I had to send out a gift to.  And I am the worlds biggest procrastinator.  I did finally get my gift out – a few days late of course, and received my gift the same day. 

In the game, we were supposed to figure out who sent us the gift.  And I will be honest, I have no idea.  I know that the person who send out my winter care package likes cinammon because there were cinammon muffins and candles, and she must be pretty awesome since she sent me some cinammon latte as well.  I love candles, and have already burned through both the candles she sent.  I am thinking that my mystery blogger may have also known that I am slightly diabetic at times (did you know cinammon helps regulate blood sugar) although I dont think I ever admitted that on my blog.  Perhaps she is a psychic.  Whihc would be totally cool, because I have always wanted a psychic reading.

Truth is, I have never been good at board games like Clue, and I always flip to the back of mystery books to see the ending because I am impatient.  So I cannot guess who sent me my gift.  But I can say this, IT MADE MY DAY!  It came in the mail on a blustery day, and was the ONLY thing in the mailbox (which means no bills YAY!)  So to whomever my mystery blogger swapper was – here is a big, virtual, hug!

I love that Joules takes the time to do these little things that equate to random acts of kindness.  That makes her pretty hot in my book.  And I am even more grateful that someone in this great big world thought to send little old anonymous me, who she didnt know a gift in the mail.  Can you say win-win!

So Joules – WHO WAS MY MYSTERY MATCH UP?

Stories of Us – Stacy

imagesCAE3CBG3This week, my Stories of Us Post is about someone who in all honestly, I don’t know very well. I do know that we share the same ‘escape to the beach as soon as the kids are grown’ dream, but other than that, I don’t know her as a friend. 

But I do know one thing when I see it, and that is PASSION!

Stacy has passion.  The kind of passion that makes people without passion realize that they are missing out on life by not taking themselves, or their dreams seriously.

In my own life, I am always at my best when I am passionate about something.  Even if that something is baking cookies (which would be a shot in the dark because I hate to cook) – if passion is involved, I cannot fail. 

I admire passion in other people, regardless of what that passion is for.

Passion is a fire that burns from the inside out, that lights up the eyes like glowing jewels, that is worn on the face with pride, that enables people to spew confidence and erases all signs of petty things like jealousy and hate.

Passionate people GIVE.  And share.  And expect much from others.  Passionate people work hard.  Passionate people aren’t afraid to be honest.  Passionate people want EVERYONE to succeed.  Passionate people are driven by a different wheel than people who do things just to get reward in return. 

When someone is passionate – in my humble opinion, they are living THEIR life in perfect harmony with where their love is the greatest.  And it shows. 

Stacy is one of those people. 

She is a dance teacher at a local dance studio in the town where my children go to school.  While my kids aren’t into dance, we know lots of girls who are.  These are girls at all levels of dance – some that may go on to dance for the rest of their lives and others who are there because they like the frilly outfits and music.  And from what everyone says, Stacy is equally passionate about every student she has regardless of skill or talent.  When I approached Stacy on Facebook to get a little information about her for this post, here is what she said:

Well, okay.  I’m not that exciting, but here goes!  My mom put me in dance when I was 5 years old.  I took locally until about the age of 14, and then I started dancing with the youth ensemble, 3 days/week, at the Atlanta School of Ballet.  I used to love to attend weekend workshops and went to my first Tremaine Dance Convention at the age of 16.  I fell in love with the hip styles of the L.A. choreographers and continued going to as many of his conventions as possible through high school.  I tried out for a scholarship to Joe Tremaine’s studio in L.A. and got it.  I moved to L.A., from tiny little Bremen, at the age of 18!!  I danced, worked and lived life for 4 1/2 years.  I decided to come back to GA. and open my own studio.  I had one in Douglasville for 15 years, and have owned Bremen for 9 years.  I ran both for 3 years, but it just got to be too much for me to handle.  James (her husband)and I met when I moved home in December of 1989.  We have been married for almost 22 years.  We have two daughters Mackenzie and Reese.  I plan to continue teaching until Reese graduates, which will be my 30th year of owning a studio.  At that time, James plans to retire from over 30 years at ATT, and we will move to the beach and enjoy life!  I hope that helps.  Let me know if you need anything else.

But there is much that she left out about herself. 

I think one of the most amazing things that Stacy has done, aside from her dance studio – is to open that said studio to women, other moms to come and join her in the mornings for a FREE workout.

Each day, Monday through Friday after school drop off, she has sent out an open invitation to EVERYONE in the community to come to her studio and do an intense workout WITH HER.  She stands in the front of the room, (making the rest of us look pathetic) , and encourages each and every one of us to push our bodies.  To work harder.  To push through.

The thing is, she could do this by herself. 

She could only invite HER friends, or the parents of her students. 

She could choose to NEVER get on Facebook and tag as many people as she can find to invite women to join the workout. 

She could charge for this. 

She could be like so many women in this world who are petty, judgmental, and jealous and who would NEVER think to share their success, their fulfillment, their inspiration and their PASSION with others – out of fear that someone might ‘do better’ or ‘look better’ than her. 

When one of the women succeed and start losing weight, or change their life through exercise, she could ignore their success or feel threatened by it.  Yet she IS the one who sings their praises in the loudest voice, genuinely proud FOR them.

Be honest! Not very many women today are confident or secure enough to share their beach body secrets with other women.  Women tend to hang around in tribes, and to be intimidated by other women who are beautiful or successful.  But not Stacy.  She is driven by passion, and therefore her extended invitation to so many other women, is done so willingly and lovingly.  (And for those that don’t know what her morning workout class is like, be warned – do NOT show up unless you are fully ready to work, because Stacy will make you push yourself to your limits)

I truly admire Stacy and her passion.  I also admire the fact that she is setting such an amazing example of just how empowering one woman can be when she extends her passion to others.