Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Big Exhale is Always Good

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” 
~ Lewis B. Smedes

Kerry and I got into a discussion last night that led to more talk about forgiveness. I won't rehash all of that because frankly I'd have to write a novel to explain it. And this is a blog. But I have been thinking a lot about forgiveness and how I deal with it.

I'd love to say that it's easy for me to forgive. I know forgiving is the right thing to do. But it's just easier to be mad. We do have a rule in our house that if it's an argument that has been argued in the past, it can't be revisited. That certainly cuts down on the grudge factor when it comes to forgiveness! (It's served us well most of the time. Feel free to use it...)

When something has been done to me personally, I think I'm relatively good about it. Typically, you can do something to me - I get mad - then get over it. There's no special book kept to record every single wrong that's been done to me. And yet I find that I can't forgive wrongs that have been done to those I love. I practically have a gilded journal for those.  I could sit down and list out every single thing that has been done to my loved ones right now. 

As a young(er) adult, I definitely learned that forgiveness set me free. I quit lugging the giant tote with all the things my parents did that hurt me. (We kids of divorce in the 70's carried a lot of baggage around. Some founded. Some not.) I quit blaming my hurt feelings on those around me and began to see that sometimes I needed to step out and include myself instead of wanting someone to beg me to join. I even forgave myself for not being all that I thought I'd be when I achieved adulthood. My focus stopped being on all the grudges I could hold. Life is too short for that.

But forgiveness isn't easy, is it?

I asked Billy about his take on forgiveness - because goodness knows the list of people who hurt him is extensive. If anyone reserves the right to keep a log, it's any child from an abusive background. And bless his heart, his response was so wise beyond his years. 

"I used to think forgiveness meant forgetting. But now I realize it's remembering and still being able to let it go. "

That struck such a chord with me. My brother and I have a very tumultuous relationship. He has crossed too many lines to count. In fact, I no longer speak to him because I refuse to be pulled back into the pit. However, I do love him. And I care about him. I have forgiven him for all the things he's done. But that doesn't mean I have to engage in communication with him. Just like Billy said, I still remember. There was forgiveness. But I'm done. I harbor no ill feelings. I just set tighter boundaries.

Forgiveness is complicated. And sometimes messy. But in the long run it's the best choice. You don't have to like what happened or the person who did it. You don't even have to mend fences and play together anymore. But your best bet is to forgive.

Those you hold dearest to you - spouse, child, parent, etc. If you have any hope of keeping those relationships intact, you must believe that your love will cover it all. Love is bigger than grudges. 

How about THAT for a lecture? Sorry...maybe I'm trying to convince myself. After all....I had to forgive the mailman that threatened to mace my dog when I was 9 months pregnant...and I know he had to forgive me for shouting obscenities at him.

But that story is best told another day.....

Forgive me? ;)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Wrap Up

Things I learned this week:

*Need a 'pick me up'? Call and talk to a friend you haven't connected with in a few months. The laughter and sharing will do wonders for your attitude. Jason and I played catch up yesterday, and it was so much fun. It is so fun to talk to someone who doesn't need any background. A simple question like "how is your family" can be answered so easily because of your history. Best quote of the conversation: "Well that's perfect because that's all you want too: for everyone to make you happy."  *sigh* He knows me too well.....

*I should never go this long without going to get my hair done. Or getting a pedicure. I won't grace you with pictures of my hair OR my feet. Just trust me. It's not good.

*Laughter really is the best medicine. My Marine Moms crack me up daily. And for them, I am so thankful. I already feel sorry for anyone at Bob's wedding, because when we all saunter into that reception out. Commeradery found in groups of people with a like mind can be such a great thing. Everyone needs that kind of therapy! ;)

*Politics makes people crazy. I am a staunch believer in not letting politics get in the way of friendships. And I hate talking about them. For those who love to get enraged by my lack of sparring, I'm sorry. I DO care about politics. I just don't care to spend all my time arguing about them. It takes too much energy.

Discussions I can do. Arguments I cannot. Good thing I wasn't on the debate team in school. I would have had bleeding ulcers.

*Dependable people are rock stars.  Let me just say that there is something extremely attractive and heartwarming about people who you can depend on when you need them. THANK YOU to those of you who return phone calls, are there when someone needs you, are willing to help at a moment's notice and don't hesitate to put others first.

I strive to be one of those people and to raise my children to be those people. I don't always succeed, but I would never purposely ignore a need. I don't expect more of others than I expect of myself.

(I feel a Real Men of Genius commercial coming on.  "Here's to you, Mr. Undependable... Nothing says I'm too important like ignoring your phone call so I can download a new iphone app.")

*Gracey is officially a babysitter. I CANNOT BELIEVE Gracey is old enough to babysit. And she doesn't even call me for help! How and when did that happen? (Does this make me old?)

Ok. I'll stop there. I'm sure I learned a lot more than that...but in an effort to blog more often, I have to save some material for future posts....

I'll leave you with this....because even mentioning "Real Men of Genius" sends me into a fit of giggles...

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oh Pooh...

I love words. And I love finding words that others have spoken to describe what I think or feel. The wisdom I find in other people's words makes my heart sing. It obviously goes hand in hand with my reading addiction and my love of libraries. Words breathe life into my world. Written, sung or spoken. I learn something when I stop to really "hear" words.

And in my lifelong quest for the right words, I have landed on this truth:

A lot of life's truths can be learned from Winnie the Pooh.

Quit rolling your eyes.

I'll prove it.

(By the way, for those of you who aren't big readers, you might not realize that I'm not the first to feel this way. There are actual books of these kinds of realizations. So don't judge!)

To start with Winnie the Pooh is never afraid to express his feelings. He always does it with careful consideration and in the nicest way possible. He offers sound advice without being too harsh. He leads by example.

Oh...I know he's often overly optimistic. But it's what makes me love him! (PS. have some of Pooh's most awesome personality traits. Just working on this blog made me realize that!)

I'm going to share some of my favorite Winnie the Pooh quotes/lessons. Feel free to share any of yours too!

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes." - How many times do we feel left out because we expect someone to greet us and make us feel special, when maybe we set ourselves up to be excluded because we didn't even bother to step through the door?

"A simple hello would do, thank you very much." - Such a nice way of saying "HELLLOOO???" haha I say it in my head a lot differently than he probably says it. But isn't it a great quote?

"If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you." - THIS is one of my all time favorite quotes, because it succinctly describes how I feel about my inner circle. If I love you, you already know this.

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"Such a great reminder that sometimes just making sure we are staying on each other's level about something will make a huge difference in the response we receive. Of course, I love a good intellectual conversation as much as the next person, but sometimes I want to just "shoot the bull" and talk about simple things too. Don't you?

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh," he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw, "I just wanted to be sure of you.”
We all need reassurance. Sometimes we need to hear a voice - or hold a hand - or see a face for no reason other than to know he or she is there. And that's ok.

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.” - For all of you energizer bunnies...this means to SLOW DOWN. It's ok to do nothing once in a while.

See? A fount of knowledge that ol' Pooh. 

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” - In other words, "Charee! Stop to smell the roses!"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sunnyside Up!

I hate feeling pasty. Every winter - usually about mid-January - I start to look REALLY pasty. Not just pale. Not just white. But elmer's gluish. And I hate it. I want to glow. I want to feel cute again. Instead....I just feel...pale and flabby. 

Something about the warm weather and sun shining down on me just makes me feel healthier. I know. I know. Sun = bad. Tan = Cancer. *sigh*  But I love how I look and feel when my skin is tan. I get the urge to exercise when the sun comes out in the spring. (I don't get too carried away. But I do get the urge.) The thought of getting to wear sandals again makes me smile. And I LOVE a good tan - real or not. When I'm not pasty, I think I'm a better person.

But right now...I'm in my January funk. It's cold and everything is brown except my legs! I can pretend it's getting warmer when we have a few nice days. I can go get a pedicure and have cute toes. I can even get a spray tan to help with the doldrums. And yet...I'll know the truth.  I'm still pasty....

Clearly, I need a beach. And a fruity drink. AND A TAN! 

Who wants to find a beach ASAP? Should we start a beach fund? Start a special fundraiser? "Say No to White Legs"? 

Something has got to change. 

Now where did I put my snuggie? It's freezing in here....

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Funday!!

A few insights to start off the week right....
A follow up to an earlier entry..

For those of you who aren't..

My life. Seriously.

Isn't this sometimes the only thing that keeps us sane?

I can't think of a clearer message.....
This IS me.
Every mother can relate.

I'd like this sign....

Because THIS is great finish to a blog..... *sigh*

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's Your Call.

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today in our school book club.... wait. That is probably confusing, isn't it? It's a FACULTY book club at the school. There. Much better.  Annnywayyy.... we started discussing Erik Larson's "In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin" and a few thoughts started rumbling in my brain.

If you aren't familiar with the book, it's sort of a summary of the German ambassadorship of William E. Dodd and what was occurring in and around his family in Hitler's Berlin. The interesting thing for me about this book was that it's not set during the height of the war. Dodd served in the beginning of the Hitler's reign and before anyone really knew what was going on around them. Everyone discounted the stories as rumors at first. Life for the average person was largely unchanged, so it seems completely impossible that any of the "crazy" stories were actually true.

But the thing that came up in our book club discussion a couple times was the idea that some may have been aware of something wrong, but didn't always step up to protect those around them. We likened it to today's "getting involved" when there's something going on with your neighbors.

I'm sorry. That was a long road to my point. But the book was the catalyst!

Stepping into a sticky situation is difficult. And stepping into someone ELSE'S sticky situation sometimes seems even more sticky. How many times do we choose to not get involved? How many stories do we hear on the news every day where something awful was occurring right next door and the neighbors are interviewed saying "Well, we thought he was strange." or "They never seemed to come outside."  Or worse, "We always knew she wasn't treating those children right, but we didn't know what to do."

In those cases it seems so clear that the people should have stepped up and done something, doesn't it? They should have righted the wrong. Been a good citizen.

But let's take it down further. What about the much smaller things? The ones that take on more of a gray hue on the clarity scale.

For example:

How many times have we looked the other way when someone needs help on the side of the road?

Or when we haven't given the homeless person on the curb the dollar bill that might change his life?

What about seeing someone ahead of you in the checkout line who can't afford all his/her groceries and has to have the checkout person put something aside?

I guess I'm just asking myself how involved I want to get in changing the world. Do I want to make a difference? Do I want to be willing to stand up for the little things and get involved in the big things? Not to stick my nose into everything - but to genuinely be of assistance when God gives me the opportunity - regardless of notoriety or anonymity? I don't think in good conscience I could answer those questions with a "no"... How about you?

So for me and my house.....we will be erring on the side of goodness. Leaving the world a better place and not being afraid to step up and get involved when needed.

(Some of you cynics are thinking about the other side. I know you are...  So let me add this:
And what the receivers of the goodness do with it, is up to them. Let's hope they pay it forward...)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

I'm All Shook Up

“Don't criticize what you don't understand, son. 
You never walked in that man's shoes.” 
~ Elvis Presley

Do you remember loving a certain star or singer when you were a kid? I don't mean a crush. I just mean one of those people that you thought had to be AMAZING in person that you just idolized?

There were a few I loved along the way. Olivia Newton John - even before Grease. Dolly Parton. But my favorite was Elvis.

When I was a little girl, I LOVED Elvis. I listened to our Elvis albums over and over. I could sing all his songs and did with all the passion I could possible muster. "Are You Lonesome Tonight" brought a tear to my grade school eye. "Jailhouse Rock" made me want to dance all over the room

"Love Me Tender" made me want to fall in kindergarten. And "Can't Help Falling in Love".... *sigh*  See? You are singing them in your head now, aren't you?

I just thought he was amazing. I wanted to be Lisa Marie just so I could hear him sing ALL the time!

So you can imagine how sad I was when he died. It was devastating....

I mourned his death for three days.
I swear my mother didn't tell me on purpose. (Not really.....)
I heard it on the radio.
In the car.
On the way to school.

It was the end of a dream I had to go see him in concert. I was only 7 when he died. And I had no concept of his decline. We had the record of him when he was young and virile. And we had the record of him when he was overweight and weird. But he was amazing to me no matter what. *sigh*

Actually, I still love him... That crooning voice takes me back. "Don't Be Cruel" still makes me want to dance.  And I STILL love all that hair!!! And that sultry smile... (Ok..maybe I'm a little more infatuated with his good looks than I was at 7....)

When we went to Memphis,  I didn't drag my entire family to Graceland because I knew I'd see the cheesiness and I'd be disappointed. Well...that and I thought the entrance fee to get cheesed up was ridiculous. haha I still find myself fascinated with stories about him though.  And him singing Blue Christmas is one of my favorite holiday songs.

Alive or dead, I still love him. Weird or "normal", I still think he's awesome.

Happy Birthday, Elvis. I hope you will invite me to one of your concerts in Heaven! ;)

Thanks for the memories!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up..

I'm trying to get back into the swing of blogging frequently. I mean... it seems a waste of space to just do it every now and then, right?

So... here are a few things I learned this week:

My addiction to Pinterest is still going strong - and I'm not alone. Now I'm not only pinning things for myself, but I'm pinning things for other people too. Of course, I feel like a drug dealer too because I keep inviting others to join..... But now I'm wondering: Is there some way I can turn this addiction into a career? Because I *know* I could be a professional pinner. (And the money earned would support all the wardrobe ideas I find for myself while I'm working...)

You can't keep a good girl down. Despite my feelings being hurt - and the fallout that came with that in my head/heart, I am back to normal. I'm stronger and more sure than ever that life is too short to let negativity steal your sunshine. Letting go is sometimes the best way to combat that type of let down.  (Thanks to all of those who were concerned about my feelings too, by the way.)

Not all friends are built the same. This is sort of a followup to the one above. But it speaks for itself. ;)

My kids are growing up too fast. Sadie has been with her cousin at my mom's house for TOO long! They stopped by to visit me the other day, and I swear she's grown 2 inches. And Gracey has become a young lady instead of a little girl. The way her clothes fit and she primps in the bathroom as well as her responsibility level just since last month shows me that she's really going to grow up and be in high school next year. UGH! Then there's Billy who turns 25 next weekend! Where did the time go? How did this happen?

Hitting the "reset" button is always a good thing. I personally shut down for the week between Christmas and New Year's. This has traditionally been a week off work for me - even before working in education - and I definitely think it's good for my soul. It is that time in my life that I literally hit the reset button and get myself geared up for the next phase. Sometimes I lounge around like a slug (most years I do this, actually) - and sometimes we travel and play. I'm a better person when I come out of my Christmas cocoon. I highly recommend it!

Jason Mraz is such an amazing singer. I think you ALL should download his latest song:

Happy First Week in January!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sing Your Song!

“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation
and go to the grave with the song still in them.” 
~ Henry David Thoreau

I am SO thankful that I am not raising children who will ever find this quote to be true. They are all very self aware - and not afraid of voicing their songs - happy or sad. (Wonder where on EARTH the little darlings got that trait?)

At this point I could really embarrass them with corny videos of lip syncing and dancing...and rough housing around. I have plenty footage of them being dramatic and silly. Literally and figuratively singing their songs.

No dying with any songs still in these kids. They proudly stand for what they think or feel. And I hope it serves them well forever! that end.... I thought I'd share some recent pictures and moments of happiness with my kids. For my children are, above all else, the greatest song I'll ever sing...

Gracey on her youth ski trip. Love that face!
Such a silly girl! Sadie with her present at Christmas..

Yep. He's a Marine. We live in Texas. We like guns.

Sadie at her orchestra concert...

Gracey (and poor Blake!) at the same concert.
It's good to have big brothers!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hide your butt. Show your muffin.

“Anger is a momentary madness, so control your passion or it will control you.” 

I have pretty thick skin. I don't normally get my feelings hurt. In fact, I'm sure I hurt more feelings with my offhanded, smart britches, thoughtless comments than I ever get hurt by someone else's words or actions.

But my feelings have been hurt - and the best I way I know to deal with it today is to share it with the world. (Sorry - no juicy details. I'm not out to get revenge!)

Sometimes I'm annoying. Sometimes I'm demanding. And goodness knows I'm always sassy. But I hope I am rarely just out and out mean. I hope I don't lash out at others in a way that makes them miserable. Because when this person lashed out at me in the most thoughtless and angry way, it made me feel like crap. An unimportant, no good piece of doo. 

I keep wondering: To what end? 

Do you think it made the person feel better? Did it accomplish the goal that the outburst hoped to achieve? (If it was to alienate a friend and let her know that she's not worth consideration, then the short answer: YES.)

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

The good news is that it's really given me a chance to analyze my own temper and ways of dealing with things. Two major things I've learned came to mind immediately. They are:

Don't show your butt unless you really mean it.  In other words: I won't get snotty and rude with you unless I really mean it. My family and friends have heard me say this a million times. It's words I live by. Seriously! Unfortunately, I'm sure my family sees a lot more of my butt than anyone else...and that's wrong. I know it is.  But overall - I genuinely operate with this in mind. I will hold my temper in check - and I won't say something mean unless I really, really, REALLY mean every word. My offhanded comments I mentioned before....those are accidentals. I *get* how someone accidentally says something. But a comment you know is going to sting......the kind that leaves a mark you can't take back? Yep. I try REALLY hard not to throw those out.  And if I do - they aren't attacking. I don't call names (usually). And I don't scream.

"Sometimes the words aren't enough. Sometimes you need to offer a muffin." I learned this one from one of my favorite mentors, Mariwyn. She always taught us that you can't just profess to be "sorry" all the time. Anyone can apologize. It takes action to repair some of those damaging moments. (Muffin moments are often related more to those offhanded comments - but not always. I've had to show up with muffins for showing my butt too.)  Whether it's taking the time to drive to see the person face to face and give him or her a hug - or the delivery of a special gift - the muffin approach is always the right thing to do. A card, a Bitty Pie (you Amarillo peeps KNOW what I'm talking about), something funny only that person would name it. Anything counts as a muffin as long as it's offered with sincerity.

*sigh* Just don't get nasty. Don't be mean. And don't intentionally hurt the person's feelings with the meanest words in the meanest way possible. that I've reminded myself how I should treat others in moments of frustration, I hope it gives you a chance to think about your best tactics too. 

And if you want to know what doesn't work:  I could give you a GREAT example.

But I'm too nice. ;)