Saturday, April 1, 2017

Who Says Boys Dont Cry?

Feb 3, 2013

Every young man on that court was playing to win. As the roar from the crowd became hostile I reminded myself that every mother and father in the stands felt the same way I did. We all wanted our team to win. But somebody had to lose didn't they?

Emotions were running high at the big game this week and despite all my preseason confessions that I am not competitive, I found myself sucked in by the fervor of the crowd. I was turning hoarse before halftime.

Sure enough, it was a nail biter till the very end and alas, we were not the victors. That old saying "The thrill of victory and agony of defeat" stung deeply as our players filed off the court with their heads hung low. Our fans gathered our belongings and began to descend the bleachers. Some were angry, some were offended but most, like me, were sad. My heart was heavy for our boys who literally gave it their all.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


The word influence conjures up grandness for me. 
The White House has global influence. Hollywood influences culture. Even alcohol has the power to put you under the influence.
That is heavy stuff.
Influence carries a weightiness.
And yet, I hardly ever consider influence and it's presence in my life. 

Until this morning.

I went to bed with wet hair last night which means I woke with fuzzy, crazy hair. And since it was a lazy Saturday filled with errands I didn't *really* want to put a lot of effort into getting ready. So? Like a 44 year old woman who acts younger than she looks (me everyday!), I tossed my hair back in 2 piggy tails (also, I blame Pinterest because I found this and thought "I could do that!" #Wrong). 

Not. Even. kidding. 

My 11 year old came and found me after her breakfast and asked me to help with her hair. "Sure babe," I said, "What did you have in mind?"
"Will you give me two braids?"
"Yes," I said, "Piggy tail braids?"
"Yes," she said. 
I proceeded to comb my fingers through her hair. I marveled her shiny locks; her thick tresses. My heart skipped a little knowing the days were few and far between when she would need this kind of help from me. 
As my fingers moved swiftly braiding her hair I asked, "Bell, did you want braids because I had piggy tails?"
"Uh huh," she murmured as she sat cross legged, chewing her finger nails. 
I reached the end of the braid and she instinctively handed me a ponytail holder.

It was in that moment I realized what was happening in our exchange. Suddenly I felt the weight of my influence over my daughter and a heaviness settled in over my gushy heart.

It's just a hairstyle. It's not women's rights or political party affiliation or even faith - it's just pig tails. 
Nonetheless my influence -
my unintended, completely accidental, influence over my daughter was evident. 
I cupped her face in my hand after I secured the second braid and when I had her full attention I said, "I promise to always be the kind of woman you can look up to baby."

"Okay!" she said - shrugged - and ran away, on to the next awesome thing an 11 year old can conjure up when an entire Saturday lays out before you.

When I think of influence I think of important things.
When I think if MY influence I tend to be dismissive.

But if I'm committed to taking this life that I have and creating the best possible story out of it, I have got to be the kind of character that recognizes, understands and yields her influence with humility and grace.

It just took a lazy girl hairstyle on an insignificant Saturday and my t'ween daughter to remind me of that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"Ouch! That Hurts"

I hate hurt.
I hate when my feelings get hurt.
I hate when my body hurts.
I hate toothaches.
I hate hangnails.

I hate when my friends hurt.
I hate when the poor suffer.
Injustice tears at my heart.

Above all else, I hate when my children are hurting.
Easily, when my mamma bear is poked, I raise up swinging my big grizzly head to and fro looking for the accuser. I roar and get ugly.
I want to be big
and puffed up
and scary
and cause more pain.


Cause more pain?
If everyone lived by that old adage "An eye for an eye" we would create a world that was blind.

This is what I know and this is what I hope my kids will learn;

Pain is valuable.
Uncomfortable, of course!
But don't be tempted to ward off the hurt less you trade the value of pain for the seduction of comfort-ability.

No one WANTS pain but it is unavoidable.

Sidenote: Reread that: Pain is unavoidable.
Therefore a parents job is not to deflect as much pain as possible for their child(ren).
It FEELS like it is our job. It FEELS like the right thing to do but it is not.
And here's why I believe that....

Of all the things comedian Jerry Seinfeld has said, this has to be the most meme-worthy.

I'll give you a chance to read it again....

 "Pain is knowledge rushing in to fill a gap"

Pain is knowledge.
Moments of discomfort teach us.
Agony coaches us.
Wounds prepare us.
Troubles sharpen us.
Aches inspire us.
Injury trains us.

I have a thesaurus ... I could go on and on...

If we could ever get to a point where - when we experience pain - we didn't RESPOND but PAUSE we might find we've been given a moment
to learn something -
let our children learn something.

And knowledge my friend, is power.

Good luck today, because none of us can escape or outmaneuver pain.
It's coming.
Might as well learn something from it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Menu Monday 2/15

It's a busy week around here this week - that's why I'm extra thankful for the Presidents. Thanks to them and their legacy we've got today off. I'm sitting at the Dining Room table while the kids play Catan with dad organizing a menu for dinners this week. 

This week's dinners are tried and true family friendly, everybody's favorites. I'm not gonna have time for picky eaters so these make ahead recipes are gonna get us through 4 basketball games, 4 swim practices, 1 volleyball practice and perhaps a visit from college kid. Thanks Mr. Crockpot.

Here's what's on the menu this week. All recipes are linked in my Pinterest board called "Menu Monday". Let me know what you're cooking too!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Own Limo

I walk to work. An entire 2 blocks. Every day.
LIke a mailman.
In rain or shine.

Everyday I wave to the same neighbor, see the same bus driving her route, and the same kids walking to school.

Yesterday it was a particularly cold walk.
Nose to my scarf, mug of coffee in hand, I walked as quickly as I could to my office.
My waves were brief, my pace was swift and, what's this? a variation from the routine.

After picking up the neighbor girl, the school bus pulled up along side me. The driver threw back her window and over the roar of the bus declared, "I don't know how you do it!"

"It sure is cold this morning!" I answered perplexed. Usually a wave is the extent of our daily exchange.

"What will you do when it snows?" she asked.

I thought to myself, "I'll wear boots of course" but fearing that would sound snarky-er than I intended, I jokingly said, "Call in sick I guess". I smiled and continued on trying to get indoors as quickly as possible.

Not finished with our conversation, the bus trailed alongside me for a feet while the driver offered, "Well you know I could always just pick you up!"

"I'll keep that in mind!" I waved and carried on.

Tickled by the offer I shared the story at work. We laughed but I threatened that if I ever take the driver up on her kind offer, I would live tweet the whole event and hashtag #perksoftheDistrictOffice

Or #checkoutmylimo
Or #Iridethelongbus
Or #myBosswontmind

What do you think? 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Grief. Fear. And Hope.

I fell asleep at night, my pillow wet with tears. I've spent the last 30 minutes or more imagining my husband's funeral while he lay next to me sleeping peacefully.

Who would come? What would they say? Where would we hold services? Perhaps I believed these mental rehearsals would prepare me *should* the day ever come. 

My husband by the way? He's perfectly fine. It's me. I've let my imagination become overrun by fear - and this is how I spent so many sleepless nights in the early years of our marriage. 

I was afraid what we had was too good to be true, or that my mother, who became a widower like her mother before her, passed down a family curse. "Poor Aaron", I thought, "Marrying me was a death sentence."

I don't struggle with this type of fear so much anymore. I had a few books and friends help me along the way, but mostly I learned  - and practiced (and practiced and practiced) training my brain. Now when I feel the tragic imaginations coming on I purposefully change my line of thinking. 

I didn't know then, but I know now, that I can be in charge of what I think. 
Turns out my brain is not a runaway train because I'm the conductor.

And yet, fear exists.
Fear is real.
And fear can even be a protector at times - like when you get that creepy feeling and you alter your plans and realize in hindsight that that feeling protected you from something unsavory. 

C. S. Lewis wrote, "No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear."
 When I first came across that quote in Brene Brown's Rising Strong book it struck me hard, but yet I couldn't articulate why exactly.

After weeks of meditating on those words I've decided that often, when we feel sadness strongly, it's not a long jump to misunderstand it as fear. 

And fear, at it's core, is most awful.

When we grieve:
a loss, a cancer diagnosis, bad news, unemployment or a broken relationship we easily become afraid.

Afraid of:
death, afraid our child will be sick, afraid to watch the news, afraid of change, afraid we'll never be loved again. 

Grief feels like fear. Except it's not.

And what about hope?

As Seth Godin said in his January 17, 2016 blog entry,

"Fear shows up unbidden, it almost never goes away if you will it to, and it's rarely a useful tool for your best work.
Hope, on the other hand, can be conjured. It arrives when we ask it to, it's something we can give away to others again and again, and we can use it as fuel to build something bigger than ourselves."

Bad things happen. Bad things might happen to you. Or your loved one. Or your child. But it might not. So instead of entertaining fear, allowing it authority over us
to wreck us
keep us up at night
and cause us great misery 
I believe hope - which can be called upon - is the answer we need.

Not *instead* of the fear. Nay, in the midst of it. 
Have hope. Give hope. Conjure hope.
Love hope. And if you're not convinced in it's power - at least experiment with Hope.
Hope never fails. The Bible; Romans 5:5

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