Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Be the Person

Folks, the voice of reason has a mustache.  And stuffs her face with pasta.  And I'm not talking about me.

As a homework assignment, Lucy was asked to come up with some sentences using her spelling words.  The only requirement was using a few words from the spelling list in each sentence.  And this first spelling list was a pretty easy list, words like “the” and “you.” 

Billy was overseeing the homework that afternoon.  When I got home, he was anxious to show me her sentences.

Before I saw them, I thought maybe he was proud of her handwriting.  We’ve been working at strengthening her handwriting.  Because when you have bad handwriting and leave a note for someone about caring for your pet, they might start calling your dog Boxter instead of Baxter.

He said, “Look at her first sentence!”

She wrote, “Be the person you want to be.”

No kidding.

Where does she come up with this stuff?

I asked her what it meant.  She said, “You can be whoever you want to be.”

She’s right.

We get to choose.  Life’s circumstances are often out of our control.  But we still get to decide the type of person we want to be.

And who do I want to be?  I guess I’m still figuring that out.  I’m not sure we ever figure it out.  We take it day by day.

Every day we get to make a choice.  Sometimes those choices seemed forced-go to work, go to school, clean Elwood Wilson’s litterbox, clean Elwood Wilson’s poop on the rug….  These are still choices.

We get to decide the person we want to be through those choices.  Are we going to have a positive attitude?  Are we going to make time to love on our family?

And as my sweet lady goes through her day, I wonder about what person she wants to be.  What choices is she making?

I hope she chooses to look at the bright side when others are whining.  I hope she looks for the best in everyone.  I hope she makes time to love on her mama.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Pink Chair

The past week was filled with trying to get settled into our new routine.  And the weekend was spent recovering from the new routine.  I watched the show, The Newsroom.  Good show.  If I told you that I watched the entire season in one day, would you judge me?  Stop judging me.

Earlier this summer our neighbor bought some kids’ chairs off craigslist.  She had to buy both chairs, one pink and one blue.  She gave us the pink one and kept the blue for her son.


Remember this picture?  The kids sure have enjoyed this chair.  Ok, I like the chair too.  I’ve played around on the computer while sitting in it.  I’ve also watched tv from this chair.  But not The Newsroom.  I was on the couch for that marathon.


Billy found Jazz also enjoying the chair.  Yes, she has scary pet eyes but this picture shows her shame.  Not that she got out of the chair.


Elwood Wilson also enjoys the luxury of the pink chair.  He has no shame.  He’s still a decent cat…according to my sister.

At the beginning of this week, I hope all of you are finding comfort in your own version of a pink chair.  A place where you can relax and unwind.  A place to celebrate successfully making it through another day.

Hopefully you don’t leave your fur all over it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

School Nights

The school year really swept in fast, didn’t it?  I’ve always thought that once the school year starts (even when I wasn’t in school and didn’t have children attending school) that summer was over.  I know, we still officially have a month left and plenty of hot days in store, but the laziness of summer is now done.

Last year after some issues with whining about homework and feet dragging to get to bed, Billy and I put an end to tv watching during the week.  We found that it helped tremendously with the attitude and keeping the peace during the week.  I should probably clarify that Billy and I are still allowed to watch tv. 

We also have the kids come in earlier from playing outside so they can start winding down to get to bed on time.  Of course, that doesn’t mean they actually stay in bed.  The other night, Lucy was probably up for another hour and a half after her bedtime.  She was up so late that she woke me up with the constant opening and closing of her door.  I suppose she was peeking out to see all of the excitement she was missing.  The excitement of me asleep before 9:30 and Billy watching tv. 

In my efforts to slow down and appreciate life, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about these school nights and how I spend them. 

For most of last school year, I was working 7 days a week.  I was just trying to “make it through.”  Surviving.

Life looks a bit different these days.

I’m trying to spend more time with the kids during the week.  Typically, I’m not one to flop in front of the tv on a weeknight.  Billy and I can’t agree on a show to watch together, and I’m too lazy to go to the basement to watch tv.  So tv watching isn’t really a barrier. 

The computer is another issue.  After a long day, I can get sucked into the internet and quickly lose an hour. 

Sometimes I get caught up in the to-dos.  Every request of theirs is met with a “just let me finish this first…” which of course leads to fifteen things that I need to finish.

This is a unique year to us.  Both ladies are going to the same school, all day long.  I have one day during the week now without work and without kids. 

I’ve been doing some thinking on this.  Not in my stressed out, over-analyzing way.  More of a “what should I do with the new routine” way.

I’m not sure that I have anything planned out.  In fact, I intend not to have anything formal or forced. 

I would like to make an effort to spend more time with the kids.  I will always have the to-dos.  Maybe some of those to-dos can wait until my day without them. 

I want to be more engaged when I am with them.  Enjoying the moments instead of thinking about the to-dos.

Knowing that perfection does not exist, I am trying not to set up expectations.  I know there will be days when I come home and need to veg in front of the computer due to work stress.  I know there will be days when the ladies come home and will think that I’m boring.  I know there will be days when all three of us come home and run to separate corners.  I’m realistic.

I’m going to try not to run through the day.


I’m going to enjoy my moments with these ladies.

Friday, August 17, 2012


There are times when I have glimpses of my former life.  Life in survival mode.  Working 7 days a week.  This usually happens on Fridays.  I’m off work and doing the routine of cleaning and grocery shopping.  A thought often crosses my mind, “I need to get all this done today!”  Because back then, I thought that I had to get everything done on Fridays.  The tiny sliver of time that I had during the week to clean and run errands.  Then I remember, no, I don’t.  I have all weekend.  And if it doesn’t get done, it’s ok. 

That’s not the only glimpse that I have.  Sometimes I find myself getting jealous of other people.

Hey, perfection doesn’t exist, remember?

In my former life, I was constantly jealous.  “They don’t have any debt, she doesn’t have to work two jobs, she has a real career, she is so good with her kids, they have a bigger house, they get to have fun on the weekends.” Ugh, I hate writing that.  I hate exposing that ugly underbelly of who I used to be.

I would look at other people’s lives and make assumptions.  I assumed their life was better than mine because they had a different set of circumstances.

I knew better.  I knew that I was only catching a small piece of their lives.  And that behind the curtain was probably a different world.  They may have their own ugly underbelly.

Last summer, I began to change my attitude.  I had tried on positive thinking and gratitude before but it never seemed to stick.  Jealousy was always the undercurrent.  Last summer was different.

One day, I figured it out.  I wrote it down.  I looked at it a couple of days ago, and the words still ring true.

“I called it jealousy but suspected that wasn’t really the issue.”  Of course it wasn’t.  Deep down, I knew better.  I was only looking at stuff here, not substance.

“I realized the real feeling is fear.”  Sheesh.  We’ve been here before, haven’t we folks?  Reading about how my fear has taken over. 

“Fear that my work circumstances won’t change, and I will be stuck working all the time, permanently.”  This may seem trivial but was (and still is) incredibly powerful.  My jealousy was really fear.  The life that others were leading, the jobs they had, the stuff they had.  None of this mattered.  This was about me.

I get it, people have much worse circumstances than working all the time.  And I was grateful that I was employed.  But this changed me.  I felt lonely and bitter.  Again, those feelings were really about fear.  I was scared.  I thought, “This is it for me.  My life will be defined by this.  I won’t have time to be the person I want to be because I will be consumed by work.”

For whatever reason, last summer, things started to click.  The positive attitude, the gratitude was sincere this time.  I started to have faith.  Faith that there were bigger and better things for my life.  I didn’t know what that looked like, but it was there.  And when I started to feel jealous, I named it “fear” and I was able to tackle it.

When our attitude changes, our world changes.  Mine started to change.  Finally. 

These days, when that ugly feeling rears its head (because again, perfection does not exist), I call it by its name, “fear.”

And I can face it.  I face it with faith.

I am grateful for my new life.  Lazy Sunday afternoons were not part of the old life.   They are treasured moments, these days.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Sunday morning we woke up without power.  No coffee.  I was struggling.

In need of caffeine and food, I took the ladies out for breakfast.  The three of us are out and about often, but rarely on an adventure where we are having fun.  I’m usually hauling them around on errands.  Even going to the library to stock up on books seems like another errand.  Another chore on the to-do list.

We went to a restaurant that we had never been to before.  We ate blueberry pancakes.  I was stuffed.

I wanted to take a walk around, get rid of some of that uncomfortable feeling of eating too much, but I decided to let go of any agenda. 

I let the girls decide.  They wanted to walk around for a bit.  “See the shops,” is what they told me.  Sounds so grown up.  Not sure where they got that particular phrase.  I’m not a shopper.

We were out so early that the shops were closed, so we headed down to the river. 

On the way, Lucy said, “I like this.” 

“What do you like?” I asked her.

“I like this…right now.”  Once again this child blew me away with her wisdom.  Just taking in the moment.

It’s really about moments, isn’t it?  And learning to appreciate those moments. 

Our lives are a string of moments in between the to-dos.  You know the to-dos…working, tending to children, cleaning, paying bills, etc.

Of course, I’m also learning to appreciate the to-dos as well.  Appreciating the to-dos takes a bit more work though.

I have thought about Lucy’s phrase all week.  Trying it out on different activities.  I was on a run on Tuesday night and thought, do I like this…right now?  I didn’t.  I had side cramps as soon as I hit the first block of a four mile run.  Sister Runner wasn’t incredibly motivating that night.  But I was grateful.  Grateful that I was able to run.  Looking for gratitude in the to-do of fitness.  Maybe during my next run, I will think, “I like this…right now.”

I like it when a phrase sticks with me and helps me stay focused.  I think I’m going to keep testing this one out.  Looking for the moments when I think, “I like this…right now.”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Gift of Old Friends

This week some old friends of mine came into town.  Old friends are a blessing.  I think I’ve mentioned that before.

Even old friends that tell your children that you met your husband in prison.  Scoundrels.  Obviously, this is not true.  The kids sure thought it was funny though.  Sheesh.

We need people who know our history.  People we share inside jokes with.  People who have seen us at our best and our worst. 

The old friends who see us change through the years and stick around, well, those are the best kind of old friends. 

We spent a lot of time remembering the old days.  And had fun creating some new memories and inside jokes.

Remember how I’m trying to stop running from the day, from fear?  I got to watch one of my friends do just that.  She held back the temptation to cry and scream while I drove them up to Lookout Mountain.  She’s a touch afraid of heights.

Look at what fear would have kept her from seeing.  Amazing.  I told my friends that the view doesn’t get old.  It really doesn’t.

While I drove them back to their hotel last night, the kids were asleep in the car.  Worn out from a day of camp and an afternoon/evening of fictional prison stories. 

Under the glow of the passing streetlights, these lovely ladies gave me a fantastic birthday present.  They complimented my kids. 

The last time I saw these ladies was the night before I moved to Colorado.  There were no kids yet.  For them to see me after so many years, meet my crazy children and say, “You did good, momma!” made my heart burst.

This is why everyone needs old friends.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I’ve always felt a little somber about my birthday.  Having a summer birthday as a kid meant you weren’t in school.  You didn’t get that special recognition in the classroom-the birthday treats, etc.  Your day.

I’m not the person who has a “birthday month” or a “birthday week.” 

To me, it’s just a day.  Some are better than others.  Like any other day.

A few years ago, I turned 30.  That birthday, well, it was like any other day, I suppose.  A couple of weeks before that birthday, I found the perfect song.

The BirthdayPresent II by Loudon Wainwright III.  It has that special melancholy that I always feel around this time of year.

For me, it’s not the bit about getting older that is necessarily hard to stomach. It’s more about another year having gone by.  And how did I spend it?  And where am I going? 

So the song goes:

I'm going to give you a present
That's just what I'm gonna do
To remind you to forget the past and the future
All that regret and worry's just bad for you
And when you unwrap your present
Throw the paper and the ribbon away
Remember dear
It's now we're here
So happy birthday

The new year and Spring aren’t the only times to start anew.  Every day is a chance to start anew.  To let go of regrets.  To stop worrying.  To enjoy the gift that is today.

Next year, when I am once again feeling the melancholy of my birthday, will my heart be full of regret for the year that has gone by?  I hope not.  But if it is, the only thing to do is let it go. 

And start anew.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stop Running

My sister who loves running, well, I can see her reading the title of this post and cringing.  I don’t think Sister Runner would like this either.  Don’t worry, sister (and Sister Runner), this isn’t what you think it is.

I like to read other blogs.  I like to find inspiration in others.  The other day I read this nugget from Emily Freeman:


How many times do I wake up in the morning, afraid of the day?  Wishing away a certain situation that I have to deal with?  Worried about the outcome?  Already thinking about being home from work and I haven’t even gotten out of bed?

Too many to count.

I know if I ask for grace, I will receive it.

But doubt lingers.

I have referenced before how, at times, I have become paralyzed by fear.  After reading the sentence above, I realized that sometimes fear makes me run.

Instead of having faith, I worry.  I overanalyze.  I have a background chatter in my mind that twists thoughts.  The positive becomes the negative.  A strength becomes a weakness.  I run with the negative.  I run away from the day.

This is one of those situations where I need to remember the bits of wisdom I impart on others.

There is no perfect day.  There is no right way.  Every day I will face situations that I would rather avoid.  Every day I will make mistakes.  Every day I will ask for grace.

And knowing that, can I finally stop running?  Let’s be realistic, probably not.  Then again, the quote is: “Let the day be the day without trying to run away from it.”

So what will I do?

I will wake up thankful to be alive.

I will be thankful to wake up to a loving family.

I will be thankful for a job to go to.

I will be thankful for a job that provides an opportunity to help others.

I will ask for grace.

I will try to stay in place and let the day simply be.

That’s a start.