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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Delightful


I am tired of being worn out.
I am tired of being afraid.
I am tired of being told to be afraid.

I am tired of injustice.
I am tired of the really small things being blown up into really big things because drama is our go-to knee-jerk comfortable reaction instead of seeking out sanity, love and wisdom.

And I think my people are too.

My girlfriends are searching for real answers amidst hard questions. 
My family is trying to navigate a-having-more-means-you're-worth-more culture .
My kids are struggling to understand being passed over and picked last.
My community longs for good news, hope and financial security.

All the while my insides are searching and looking for some small way to bring hope and light somewhere. We need a little hope. We need a little light. We need a lot of love. 

I don't know if it will help, but I have an idea to try; thanks to the encouragement of The Good Life Project I'm trying to remember to be a delight.

Wherever I can.

What if, the people in my world, the people I work with, come in contact with or love, what if instead of coasting through the moments in our interactions I choose to spend energy on delighting them? What if I consciously, and in the truest of genuine ways (vs a forced, phony trying to impress sorta way) thought to myself, "Can I do/be/say anything in this moment that causes delight?" 

and then do it?

Would my people be happier?
And if they're happier do the people they love become happier?
And would happiness multiple?

Would fear take a back seat?
Would love evident itself?
Would someone's day be better?

Is it possible? It is possible that if I choose to be a delight, that something, anything could go better?

If there is anyway that the answer to these questions 'might' be yes, than I think it's worth a try. 
Anybody want to join me?

(For more information on being a delight check out this very cool podcast The Power of Delight) http://www.goodlifeproject.com/the-power-of-delight/?t=radio

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Good Reason for Giving Thanks




I'm cradling my coffee, snuggled on the couch and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving surrounded by my 5 children.

And I'm grateful.

Today is Thanksgiving, the day we pause and reflect.

The origin of Thanksgiving has much to teach us. The first settlers sat down at a table, with new food and new friends after a very difficult journey in celebration. Celebration of surviving. Celebrating scarcity averted. 

I just told a friend last week that when Hubs retuned to college to earn a teaching certificate it took 3 1/2 years. Three and a half years..

Three and a half years without financial security.

Three and a half years of charity.
Three and a half years of not having enough.
Three and a half years of scraping, denying, hiding and crying.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Just last Thanksgiving we were giving thanks because hubs graduation was on the horizon.
This Thanksgiving is much different: our home is warm, our bellies are full, our children are here and we're all sitting on the couch together because we're on the same work schedule.

We are blessed.

We're not pilgrims by any means, but we've been on a harrowing journey as well. So when my family gathers around the turkey and stuffing I'll be especially grateful. We've known scarcity. And now we know abundance again. For that I am grateful. Very. 

Funny how it takes going without to remind you how blessed you are when you have what you need. To me thats exactly what writing a better story is all about; taking the story I find myself in and choosing to live within it by being the kind of character I would like to read about. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Advice for a Broken Watch

Recently while reading "Walking on Water" by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle I found this little story about a clockmaker. I found it to be very inspiring.


"There's a story of a small village ... where lived an old clockmaker and repairer. When anything was wrong with any of the clocks or watches in the village, he was able to fix them, to get them working properly again. When he died, leaving no children and no apprentice, there was no one left in the village who could fix clocks. Soon various clocks and watches began to break down. Those which continued to run often lost or gained time, so they were of little use. A clock might strike midnight at three in the afternoon. So many of the villagers abandoned their timepieces.
One day a renowned clock maker and repairer came through the village, and the people crowded around him and begged him to fix their broken clocks and watches. He spent many hours looking at all the faulty timepieces, and at last he announced that he could repair only those whose owners had kept them wound, because there were the only ones which would be able to remember how to keep time.
So we must daily keep things wound; that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tire, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain.
We may not always be able to make our "clock" run correctly, but at least we can keep it would so that it will not forget."



 What did you think when you read it? I'm curious to know how it struck you .....

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Lesson in Enough-ness




I'm 40 something years old and for the first time in my life I can say, "Here I am and check it out, I am enough."

Accepting this belief system was the best thing I ever did for myself. Turns out a crisis of faith is good for something.

Now, if I can only help my kids learn this soon so they don't have to wait until they are my age to understand they are enough. But how?

I want my kids to believe that whether they
- play on a team or in a band
- make varsity or make a mistake
- or are known by many or by few
that who they are becoming 
is enough - 
that what they do or how well they perform are not the measuring sticks for their enough-ness.

Hard to teach, yah? And if that wasn't difficult enough, it seems that I'm fighting culture on this one too.

I see mothers wringing their hands in worry wondering if their kid is accepted, concerned their kid's not known and stressing over their kid's group of friends. 


Don't get me wrong. I hope for all of these things for my kids as well but not at the expense of inserting myself into their social arena. 
Doesn't that teach the exact opposite of enough-ness?

I get it, I want my kids to be happy too. But if you have to push, maneuver, strategize, force relationships and worse, become gripped with worry when you're not getting the results you want, aren't you actually communicating to your kid, I can't trust that you're enough. You need more? To be more? To be seen more?

And don't you realize your relentless pursuit of this type of social currency is perpetually promoting the very system you fear? As long as there are people who believe popular is better, popular will be perceived as better.

I see your posts advertising the oodles of endlessly cool things you all do. All. The. Time.

And guess what, it's okay. I don't take it personally at all. (see above) I much prefer to hang out with people who want to hang out with me. 

But I have a hunch; those mommas are posting and tagging pics for promotion. Not celebration. I think you want us to know who your group is, thereby inferring your group is better and hinting mine is less.

So here I am telling my kids, they are enough. And there you are promoting activity and events and a do more, be more life. 

Or maybe your postings are genuine. 

But in the off and highly unlikely chance they are not, may I remind you; the number of tagged pics and check-ins are not the measure for your, or your child's, enough-ness.

To be enough is to like yourself. When you're alone. Amidst the stuff you accomplished today AND the stuff you didn't get to. I'm talking about living like we're free from struggling to be seen, to live in a place of peace and contentment?

I bet you already think your kid is awesome. So stop freaking out that they are not. Stop worrying others will miss your kid's awesomeness. I mean if they miss it, are they really worth your time and energy to point out what's obvious? And for the love of everything that is good, stop putting your family life on hold for your kid's social one.  

Stop promoting your kids. And stop feeling bad for mine because I don't.

My kids are freaking awesome.
Whoever they're with.
Where ever they are.
Whatever grade or sport or school they attend.
If that surprises you, then perhaps you don't know us very well. And maybe you should.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reason #103 Why Moms Shouldn't Wear Thongs


I'm a 40 + year old working mom of 5.
I'm no wimp.
I'm a robust woman (in size and mental strength)
and, warning:

TMI ...


I've got no business wearing thong underwear. 


Oh you skinny, young ladies in your leggings acting like those are pants.
I bet you've got your little, lacy undies on underneath feeling so feminine.
Aren't you lucky?

No really. You're so lucky.

Me? I've got teenagers.
Who drive.
So our far away, college daughter will be safe, hubs loaned her his car.
Now hubby uses my car
and brother gets to borrow sister's car.

Keeping up?

What's that got to do with underwear?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Is Grace Fair?


"Grace doesn't seem fair until you need some" Bob Goff


That's a quote I've recently added to my book and as you can see from a recent Instagram post, I've left that page open on my desk this week, to remind me. 



I'm struggling with offering grace lately. 



And I'm not proud of that so I've spent time digging deep asking, "Why?".
The answers - if I'm honest with myself - are:

  • People are dumb
  • I was right
  • People are lazy
  • I was sanctimonious
  • People are rude
  • I was pacifistic 
  • & again, people are dumb

Also, currently I'm not expected to be graceful, I'm expected to do good work, whereas formerly as a church employee grace was sortof a job description. Looking back, I kinda feel like it was easier to extend grace when I, (cough, clear my throat) um, had to.

Is grace grace if it's mandated?

Or is the beauty of grace revealed when it's a choice... when you choose to surrender your self righteous, judgemental attitude and lay it aside to offer grace?

I think so.
And I'm working on it. I'm trying to look past people's idiocy (it's like a phenomenon) and - full disclosure here - my own virtuousness.

I'm choosing grace.
Even when it seems unfair.
Because I bet no sooner I will hit publish on this piece and do something boneheaded and need someone to be gentle with me.

Friday, August 21, 2015

We Did It


Seven years ago we looked took an inventory of the life we had been building together and after some deep-digging-deep 

and gut wrenching bravery
we looked at each other and admitted something had to change.

Which, by the way, might be one of the scariest things to admit.

Four years ago hubs walked back onto campus this time to secure the coursework necessary to earn a teaching degree.

And it's been a, ahem, a long journey.

Today, he reports back to school, but this time as a teacher, not a student.

He did it.
We did it.
We did what?

We we got what we wanted? Is that what I mean?
Nope.
I mean we changed our stars.
We set our eyes on the goal and 
despite the pain
or heartache
or financial challenges that came with the kind of about face a mid-life-with-5-kids-career-change requires we carved a new path, a better one.

Now, I fully admit, halfway into this journey I wanted to quit. I've spent some time looking back over entries I've written here about the struggle - it was real, people! - but then I realized reaching the finish line would take just as long as turning around and heading back.

So we kept going and now we're here.

I don't know what's ahead - anything could happen - but today, I look down and notice where my feet are headed and it's a much better place. 
It's better because it's where I wanted to be.
It's not the fanciest path
or a famous one,
it's not even popular!
But I don't need you to like it
or even understand it.
It's not your path.
It's mine!

Today is a momentous day personally but I submit this entry, standing before you to testify; you can change your life, it's hard, but you can. 


Don't be afraid.

And Aaron? I'm so, so proud of you baby.
"Stay the course" we ARE writing a better story. There's noone else I'd rather turn pages with. xo

Thursday, July 30, 2015

This One Thing Might Send Me to the Looney Bin

I've been a parent for 20 years.

I've got a lot of experience. I know how to be in charge of little people. I can lead them, encourage them, and most impressively, feed them on a tight budget. I've got 5 of em and by golly, I love em. But they are going to send me to the looney bin if they don't start successfully and repeatedly master this one daily task.

Teeth brushing.

Everyday, twice a day, at least 4 times a day I say "Go brush your teeth."

Not to be confused with, "Have you brushed your teeth?"

You see, I'm a mom. I know when you have not brushed your teeth. I can see the leftover chocolate milk clinging to the plaque on your 2 front teeth from across the room. I can smell your morning breath lingering till noon. I know you walk in the bathroom and walk out and pretend to have brushed, but honey, I can hear the water pipes from down in the basement. You ain't foolin no one.

But you are making me crazy.

I've said "Go brush your teeth" EVERYDAY of your life. TWICE a day! At least! How is it you have failed to master this task?
You're not surprised you have to brush.
It's not a skill with new levels of difficulty that you have to master.
You like the flavor of toothpaste.
You can reach the sink.
You have opposing thumbs!

They way I figure it, if I've said, "BRUSH YOUR TEETH!" everyday of my parenting career, twice a day to 5 children I've said it

73,000 times


And people, I'm warning you, if I spend the next 5 years of my life repeating that phrase you can certainly plan on visiting me in a rubber room. Because it's not having 5 kids that is going to make me insane, its having 5 kids with funky breath and cavities.

 photo tumblr_lmpj0hwqla1qj0zk3o1_500_zpsbjcnddny.gif


What is the one thing you do as a Mom that drives you crazy? I'd love to hear!



Friday, June 26, 2015

Be

Over the last year the blog has been quiet although I would argue I've been busier than ever living out my theme of writing or making a better story out of my life.



I've been writing a better story I've just not jotted it down on paper. Or on your screen. Or in the blogosphere. Whatever.

I'm actually living.

I'm doing and organizing and scheduling & then doing all I've scheduled & organized. 

I miss writing. Not for you, or my audience, but for me. Writing is often how I process my feelings. It's also how I'll become a better story teller. And that's what I want people to say at my funeral, "She was really great with words!". 

Nevertheless I miss writing. So if I love it & if I want to write, I had to ask myself why was I not creating space in my life to practice it? 


While reading Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle, I was recently reminded, that when I am constantly running there is no time for being.
And when there is no time for being there is no time for listening.
And listening - to myself, to my thoughts or that still small voice - is what prompts me to question and wonder and process and ultimately ... write. 

And so that's what I leave you with today; how can we ever know anything  (know anything for sure? know why we believe? know what to do?) if we don't ever take the time to sit and listen and be still?

Before we plan and process and organize what if we made space to be quiet
and pause
and listen?

Because I fear if we never stop to listen how will we ever hear?

This idea of being still, or making quiet time isn't new to me. But it is one I've wrestled with consistency  throughout every age and stage of my life. 



It's always a good reminder.

And hopefully, it will help me get back to writing again.

What about you? What would you do more, or less of, if you could take some time to be still?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Tale of Three Trees




I don't have a green thumb
but I have three trees.

A crab apple tree. 
A cherry tree. 
And two years ago we planted an apple tree.


the 1 yr the cherry tree bloomed
The crab apple tree blossoms beautifully every year, grows miniature crab apples, drops them to the ground and sprouts the messiest, most stubborn chutes you can image. They've managed to choke out every geranium, mum or Hosta I've ever tried to grow around its trunk. 

It's a beautiful, worthless mess. 

The cherry tree is my husband's favorite. He's longed for cherries from that tree every year, for ten or more years and each spring he is disappointed. In 2011 I wrote how the tree bloomed beautifully and it seemed inevitable that fruit was coming. And while a few sweet red cherries came forth we never got enough for a pie or cobbler. I think the birds enjoyed that year much more than we.

That was it. The tree never blossomed again and last year suffered an infestation of Japanese Beetles and has not recovered. I fear it needs to come down altogether.

a baby apple tree
However, our third tree, a tiny fruit tree we planted two years ago near the cherry tree in hopes of coaxing a little pollination, holds a lot of promise. A lot. This year the tiny, baby tree was covered in beautiful blooms and now, has tiny, baby green apples hanging so delicately we watch them in awe. Sometimes I think we're watching them grow.

But we can't help it were so proud to have produced fruit after a long exhausting battle with wimpy impotent trees.

I've lived here 18 years and never eaten the fruit of the land. 

But I long to. And now, maybe I will this year. 





Except, after dinner yesterday, just as I sat down on the couch nestling in with a book in front of the picture window I looked out across the yard and 2 neighbor children were picking my apples.

I stood up, banged on the glass, ran to the door, flew out on the porch and screamed, "You can't pick my fruit! That's MY fruit!" The dog was barking, my family ran out behind me to see what all the fuss was about and together all of us looked like lunatics.

The children apologized and I returned inside.

Man! That is MY fruit. I've tried so hard and waited year after year. All I want is to grow something myself and eat it. 



People, growing fruit is hard.


We don't appreciate the time and effort it takes to get something of substance worth savoring. 

What if this is true about other things?
What if the stuff that matters takes time to grow and build? What if the stuff the sprouts up overnight with little or no effort, in all its flash and sparkle, is nothing but weeds?


And worse, what if after all that effort people want to take what you've worked and waited for?







I know, we all want stuff faster but what if there's good stuff in the waiting???


Don't rush it.
Fight the urge to hurry.
Don't settle for quick and shallow roots.
Wait for substance.
Give fruit time to grow.

And leave the weeds to themselves. 
Because growing fruit is hard.

But fruit, not weeds,
time, not quick results
is what people long for.

And if I can ever get my three trees AND a green thumb, to get it together well ...
then I'll share.

And the world, well okay - just my neighborhood - would be a better place.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What's All Good?

I have 2 things stenciled on the walls of my home.



A handwritten documentation of each my children's growth
and




this -


vinyl letters with my favorite phrase;


"It's all Good!"



For as long as I can remember Romans 8:28 was my "life verse", that is, scripture that provides me with unwavering inspiration.

Aaron and I even put that scripture on our wedding invitation 23 years ago. It was our way of declaring that the union of us, and everything to come, would be a good thing.

Then, when I learned I was expecting twins, #4 & #5, the burden of large family didn't feel like something good. Rather it felt more I had been abandoned by God or fate or the laughing stock of Mother Nature. It was then I first began to doubt the very words that had always brought me hope.


Part of me wanted to throw the "It's all good" mantra out of my life, but another - albeit very small - part of me hesitated wondering - maybe even hoping - that somehow those unexpected baby girls would in fact be a good thing.


And boy were they ever!

Now, with over 40 years of living experience I realize I was a very naive bride,
but I wasn't in fact, entirely wrong. It's all good, doesn't mean it is all literally good.
Or that everything will turn out well.
What it means to me - today - is that the sum

of everything that comes to me
both pleasant and unpleasant
good and bad
wanted or unwanted
can be taken in

and used to mold me,
shape my character
and write a better story out of every single story element that has come my way.

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Can Do Hard Things

There are so many things about living that are beautiful
and awesome
and fun;
like the signs of Spring after a long winter
or unsolicited hugs from my teenage sons
or when my girlfriends get together and laugh until our sides hurt.

But there are also many things that are hard;
like working full time
or burying your child
and loneliness.

I've recently come to believe hard things can't be avoided - you can't pray or wish them away or out strategize them. Hard things come and it's my opinion that our reactions and attitudes towards hard things can greatly impact how well we survive those seasons.

Listen, I don't know about you, but when something is tough there is no way I want to make it any more difficult than it has to be.
AmIright??

So while I don't believe there is any prescriptive information that we can all follow to survive hard times - I mean we're all different and unique and different personality types ... what I have learned from my own trials and tribulations is what not to do in hard times.

So here's my NOT To-Do list when experiencing hard things:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I'm (Still) Too Sexy for my (For Sale) Van


We're talking about selling the van. This van. The van that takes soccer mom to a whole n'other level.  I'm done getting 11 mpg. I've used it to move my oldest in and out and into college. The gas gauge is unreliable and the the drivers seat only adjusts if you scoot forward and right simultaneously. Also, I walk to work now and my 2 sons are or have recently acquired their driver's license. There's no way I will EVER GIVE THEM THE KEYS TO THIS PARTY ON WHEELS.

Most people sell and trade and buy cars without much thought. Not me. Not this time. As we prepare the van for resale I see it as the end of a parenting season. No more car seats, car pools and car-avans to games. Seasons are changing for the Tribe. And it smells like new leather seats.

In honor of the van I'm sharing the following post I wrote a few years ago. It's called
'I'm too Sexy for My Van'

Thanks for reading .....


In August 2007 I bought a 15 passenger van.
That's because in August 2004 the twins were born.
The Sikorski's went from 3 kids to 5.
We needed a bigger vehicle and it only took us 3 years scouring every used car lot in a 200 mile radius to find a suitable one.
It wasn't fancy.
It was white.
It didn't have any of the bells & whistles.
Just 4 benches.
It wasn't even a cool color.
Did I mention it was white?
But it was clean. It wasn't ancient. And I could afford it.
I signed all the papers and transfered all our toys, blankets, diaper bags, trash and car seats from the
old mini van to the new passenger van.
I thought the kids would be excited!
Now they could bring a friend along.
Now we had extra seat belts.
Everyone except me was thrilled. I still wasn't sure how I felt about the up-size.
I mean I actually felt demoted on so many levels.
I went from soccer-mom-in-a-mini-van (that CAN be cool, right?)
to
bus driver.
The van is just so ... white.
And big.
And plain.
It looks so ... so ...
Well lemme try and give you an idea:
We rolled into town in our new purchase.
Fresh wax job. Shiny tires.
And our friends noticed our new ride.
Some asked,
"I didn't know your church got a new van until I saw you driving this!" 
and
"Gosh, is that thing longer that an ambulance?" 
and
"I saw your van at the grocery store. Now I can always tell where the Sikorski's are!"
and
"Halee, either the assisted living van is here or it's your mom out front!". 
Slightly humiliating, I'd say.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Why Toddlers are Easier than Teenagers


We've got a battle of the wills happening over here.
Also, I'm out numbered.
Wait, scratch that. I've always been outnumbered seeing as how I have 5 children.
But it's different now that 3 of them are teenagers.
Gone are the days when the worst thing I had to do was change diaper blow-outs while nursing twins.
Now of my 3 teenagers
1 is on the brink of turning 20
and 2 of them are literally bigger than me.

They're all cute till puberty hits.

And all 3 of them - every. single. one. - is bristling against my parenting. Which, unlike when they were toddlers, I can no longer put them down for nap time when they are being naughty.

Apparently, Call of Duty deserves their undivided attention and over flowing trash cans are irrelevant. Homework is optional and bad attitudes are prevalent. Personal hygiene is over rated and while, we all love eating the food that appears in the kitchen every day, 3 times a day, none wants to actually assist in the preparation, or heaven forbid, load a dishwasher post consumption. And the wi-fi? Wi-fi is a very sensitive subject.
It seems there's not enough to go around to our 10 DEVICES.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

My Instagram Cake

I'm so happy it's March. I'm this happy...
A photo posted by Stephanie Sikorski (@steph_sikorski) on


And while I'm happy to say goodbye to February I still can't shake last month's memory of the Valentine Mother-Blunder. You see, I kinda, sorta, a lil' forgot about Valentines Day this year.

I've also forgotten to pick a kid up from daycare (twice!), forgotten about the Tooth Fairy on multiple occasions, and missed a birthday party (not my own kids though - so there's that!).

I don't remember a lot. In fact, I usually only know what comes next. There's never planning ahead in my life. There's "Whew! That's done. Now, what's next?"

A dear friend once said she was impressed by my ability for such an active capacity.
I'm sure she meant it as a compliment.

People ask me, "What was the score to the game last night?"
I don't know.
Or "Where's the field trip scheduled?"
I don't know.
I know the important stuff, like where my kids are and what's for dinner but other details often, and regularly, go unknown.

And the way I see it, I have 2 choices:
I can pretend like I know what's up and give fake answers.
But, that makes me feel icky and shallow.
or
I can be real, admit I don't know what's going on and risk looking aloof, or worse, looking like an overworked, in over her head, stressed out mother of five.

So, when it was the morning of Valentine's Eve and I was walking out the door for another day at the office, my 10 year old looked at me and said, "I need Valentines and treats for 25 tomorrow. ok?"

NO! um, no. It's totally NOT okay but can I break her heart? Can I drop the ball? Will I be able to sleep at night knowing she'll go to her class party empty handed?
NONONONO.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The BEST Writing Advice Ever. And I mean ever!



It was just in the last year or two that, thanks to the advice of Jeff Goins I was able to finally admit that I was a writer.
Which was a super hard thing to do - even though I had a weekly column in our local newspaper,
and was a regular contributor to a women's ministry website,
and was asked to coauthor a memoir,
while blogging. 

But I did. I took the very scary leap from begrudgingly, sheepishly admitting I like to piddle with words to "Yes, I'm a writer."

And for anyone who's ever longed
dreamed
imagined
or wished
to write, you know that is a very scary admission.

But I did it. And I'm a writer.


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