Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Huffing and Growling...

People are disruptive...

I heard this phrase a couple of weeks ago and I have to tell you, it strikes a cord with me.  As it applies in my life, it’s true--people can be hideously disruptive. I would have said I do a bang-up job of grumbling under my breath when I’m interrupted and hiding the fact that I’m not the world’s most flexible person.  But alas, it’s been brought to my attention by a few people who love me most that I don’t always hide my emotions very well when I’m interrupted.  Could that be true of me?

If you know me, you know I’m an overachieving type A that craves deadlines and organization and you also probably know I’m pretty insightful, especially when it comes to knowing myself.  For example, I know I don’t have the gift of hospitality.  Have you ever been to my house for dinner?  See?  Not a speck of hospitality in sight.  Why is this, you ask?  1. I don’t like to cook.  2. I don’t want my house to get messed up.  Which is to say yes, I'm aware I’m a neat freak who trends toward pretty strong OCD tendencies.  Feel free to laugh when I say that one of the things I enjoy most is engaging in conversation and strengthening friendships over a good meal.  Out.  In a restaurant.  When you call me you might be planning a cookout but when I call you, you can bet we’re eating out!

So how does all of this relate to people?  I would have said my scorecard on friendship earned high marks.  I pride myself on quickly responding to emails and texts when anyone in my inner circle needs a hand, an ear, a ride, a dollar, a friend or when they just want to chat or vent.  I try to make myself available at any hour to those I’m blessed to share my life with and thankfully, they gladly do the same for me.  But I had no idea I was sometimes doing so with such a huff in my tone.  With all of this insight I pride myself on having, how could I have missed that?

I was clueless that I huffed when my mom called last week to ask my opinion on something and politely asked what I was doing.  “Working!” She recalls me saying in a rush.  I also had no idea that I threw my hand out and growled over the weekend when the hubster interrupted a block of creative writing time I’d set aside.  Yep.  He said the actual quote was “I need five more minutes to wrap up before I can help you.”  Wow!  Where’s that application for Wife-of-the-Year?  Will someone grab it for me, please?

To me, friendship shows up first and foremost by offering the gift of time to the people I adore and the last thing I want to do is offer that time with a scowl on my face and a growl lacing my voice.  That isn’t a reflection of my heart and it’s not the kind of person I want to be.

This month I’m embracing the truth about myself.  I huff and I growl a lot and I’m determined to stop.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Learn, Adapt, Adjust...

I’m certain I was full of good intentions and boundless energy a mere 31 days ago--ready and willing to embrace the new year with gusto.  Yet as January has dragged on, I feel like it's pulled me right along with it.
  • My brother wasn’t supposed to have his life turned upside down by depression.
  • My nephew wasn’t supposed to be riddled with panic attacks.
  • My husband wasn’t supposed to be saddled with eighty-hour work weeks for a second year in a row.
  • My son’s dog wasn’t supposed to die. 
I was watching television last night and I saw an ad for a new show, The Wheel, and honest to goodness I laughed out loud.  It looks like contestants get dropped off in a hostile environment and just when they figure out how to survive the Sahara, Rainforest, Swamp, Tundra…  the wheel spins and off they go to the next extreme locale; underprepared and ill-equipped, forced to learn, adapt and adjust.  Hmm.  I hate to break it to Hollywood but I don’t think we needed a tv show for that.  Around here we’re beginning to call that type of adventure a day in the life.

What I’ve learned in the first 31 days of this new year is that life doesn’t stop to check our calendar or measure the margin in our schedule or take in to account that sometimes we just need a break.  And a nap.  The wheel spins when it spins and we have two choices...  We can jump or we can hang on for the ride.

January has been a roller coaster ride that has pushed and pulled and reshaped our family in ways we’re still discovering but we’re holding on to each other, and those we love, and we’re moving forward together.  And we're praying for a calmer February.

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.  And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”  Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet (Zondervan Press)

Friday, January 6, 2017

It's not about the coffee...

I make my son coffee every morning.  Always a bold blend.  Always black.  Always in a to-go cup so he can enjoy it as he starts his day.  It’s a little thing I like doing for him and it’s my part of our morning routine.  But our routine was thrown off this particular morning as we loaded a holiday seasons’ worth of recyclables into the truck so I could make my yearly pilgrimage to the recycling center.  I’d already maxed out my trash containers and borrowed a friends recycling bin.  My cardboard was out of hand and it had to be dealt with so today was the day.

Coffee was the collateral damage.

Half way to school we realized the kiddos’ coffee was still sitting on the counter.  We considered it, but quickly agreed we were too far to turn back.  “There’s a café at school,” the kiddo said.  “I’ll grab something there.”  Great, I though to myself.  A totally workable plan B.

Turns out the café doesn’t have coffee.  Or tea.  Or hot chocolate or juice, which leaves me wondering exactly what the word café is meant to showcase.  Turns out they have water.

The kiddo and I shared a laugh via text and I encouraged him to go with the water, reminding him that studies show that kids that take three drinks of water before a test score up to 25% higher on average.  Apparently we’re a dehydrated world I typed to which he replied our brains are wheezing for a bit of the h2o and we should get right on drinking up.  He seldom fails to make me smile.

“Sorry about your luck, buddy.  Is there else I can do for you today?”  I asked, one hundred percent sincere in my question, which is one I ask both of my guys on a fairly routine basis.
“Could you maybe bring me coffee?”
I could do that.  If I altered my schedule by twenty minutes I could take my son coffee.  Not because I had to but because I offered.  Because coffee makes the world go round and this kiddo is my world.

So our high school has a water bar.  Cool

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Peeps...

I'm surrounded by incredible people with gorgeous souls. Whether it's the clerk at the drive through who smiles when she sees me because she knows I'm going to hold up the line just a second longer while I take a sip and double check that my iced tea is unsweet.   Or maybe it's my precious friend that leaves a fun treat in my mailbox just because.  Or maybe it's my bestie and my sister and brother in law, peeps I love that are graciously taking exercise equipment off my hands without once reminding me that I could stand to use the pieces I'm offloading. My peeps make life that much sweeter and I adore them.  #blessedbeyondmeasure

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Way of Life...

I learned a long time ago to tread softly when editing the kiddos’ writing. Whether it's a thesis statement, a report or a closing argument for mock trial, which was the case this morning, I'm quick to remember less is far more in terms of red slashes where my son is concerned. Planting red on the page too quickly will most likely lead to missing a larger connection a sentence or two down the road. He's a storyteller and he tends to write like he speaks.

On the way to school this morning the kiddo asked if he could read his closing argument for mock trial and while I wasn’t armed with my trusty red Bic, of course I said yes and was pleased to hear a very well written, concise, on point summation of his defense.  But one word stuck out and as he began to discuss the summation in greater detail, I found myself unable to concentrate on what he was saying because I was still back there, in the third to last sentence of his writing, kicking around that word—coherent (able to speak clearly and be understood). I was certain based on what he was trying to convey that his word choice was off.

I shared my honest opinion, which was overall quite favorable, and asked if he would please go back and reread the sentence containing the word coherent.  When he looked at me and grinned, I knew I had him.

“Something’s a little off there, isn’t it?” He asked.
“I think you meant cohesive (united and working together effectively),” I offered.
“That’s exactly what I meant!” He beamed. “Isn’t that the way of life?  So often we mean one thing yet we say another.”

Do we ever, sweetie.  Do we ever.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Every tree in the house...

“We were talking about Christmas trees in class yesterday and someone asked what our tree was like,” the kiddo stated this morning on the drive to school.  “When I said which one, they looked at me kind of funny.”
“Right,” I agreed.  “We have several.”
“Mom, we have nine!”  The kiddo corrected me.
“Are you sure? I thought it was like four or five,” I countered, truly uncertain of the actual number given several are seasonal/themed trees that stay up year round.
“Trust me, there are nine this year.  I counted as soon as you got done decorating last week.”
Of course he knows how many trees we have, I thought to myself.  After all, he’s the reason I have nine trees. 

When he was little, the kiddo was afraid of dark spaces, particularly the shadowy corners of rooms.  This was before we realized he would be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome a short year later, back in the days when we offered patented phrases like oh well, that’s just the way it is if there was something he didn’t like or understand.

That same year when I was taking down our Christmas decorations, I was on the last small tree when he commented that while he liked our big tree best, the smaller trees I put up throughout the house helped light up the corners.  Several days later it dawned on me, I usually put our smaller trees in dark corners because that’s where I have space.

So this morning I smiled and watched in the rearview mirror as the kiddo finished his statement and grinned at me before taking a sip of his coffee.  I’m in awe of the young man my son is becoming—my actually fifteen, looks likes he’s eighteen, forever stuck at four in my heart little boy.  Every tree in this house is for him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Share Your Heart...

In less than twenty hours the calendar will flip to a month that brings more dread, and stress, and fear, and chaos, and hurt feelings, and bad memories, and financial strain, and heartbreak to some people than the other eleven months of the year combined. 

Christmas didn’t start that way and it doesn’t have to be that way for you and yours.  But it will sweep you away if you let it.

By now everyone has likely received at least a dozen advertisements stressing the urgency of the holiday season, right?   Time is running out!  Hurry in!  You might miss out on something incredible!  What are you waiting for?  Hurry!  Hurry!  Hurry!  Christmas is right around the corner, people! Where are you?  HURRY!  You’re going to miss it!

If you’re anything like me, by the time you get done reading an ad like the one above, your heart’s racing and you feel a building anxiety over the fact you might just miss something if you don’t indeed hurry.  Even if all was well in your world before you even knew that ad existed.  Even if you had things well in hand this holiday season, the ad most likely did its job.  Have you ever noticed how marketers play on emotions that sit way too close to the surface for many of us?  They unsettle you (Am I ready?).  They place doubt (Did I get the best deal?).  They might even play on fear (Is what I’ve done good enough?). 

I’m the first to admit I can easily get caught up in this hurry frenzy.  As the baby of five kids, I never wanted to miss out on anything growing up and I can proudly say in my forty-six years, nothing’s changed.  I still hate missing out.  I’m the first one up on Black Friday and I’ve been known to follow a certain big brown truck to a nearby game store on release day for a kiddo I happen to adore.  I can hear you laughing but don’t judge me.  My guess is you’ve probably done this same type of thing, especially if you have children.  Whether it happens to you during the holidays or at some other time of year, like a birthday or special occasion, it doesn’t matter.  Even though my kiddo is older now, I can still hear his pleas from past holidays ringing in my ears.  But mom, you have to hurry!  They open at 4am on Saturday but you only have an hour.  If you aren’t one of the first three in line, they’ll sell out and I’ll be the only kid without a copy of the game!  It’s a boatload of pressure, I’ll tell you.  Yet there I went, running around town in a panic, wondering if I was going fast enough, afraid I’d miss out.

The morning I shared the details of the delivery man stalking incident to a good friend over coffee was right about the time I had the good sense to hit the pause button and insert a little sanity check into my life.  I heard the words coming out of my mouth, my confession if you will, but honestly, I couldn’t believe what I was saying.  I did what?  Why?  And then it hit me.

There’s a truth out there advertisers don’t want us to know.  Save for one or two new electronic items you might not even want or need, there’s nothing new this season that you’re going to miss is if don’t hurry.  While it’s true you might save a few dollars here and there, research indicates that stores only deeply discount a small handful of items banking on the hope you’ll fill your cart with other regularly priced merchandise while waiting in line to grab one of only five Hero Princess figurines being sold in the next ten minutes for fifty cents.  They’re counting on your trip to snag Hero Princess for under a buck costing you closer to a hundred dollars before you leave their fine establishment.

Whether you’ll be spending a quiet evening curled up with a good book this Christmas or circulating a room filled with family and friends, my guess is what you most need to hear you won’t find in any advertisement set to hit your inbox in the coming days.  Friends, you don’t need to hurry.  In fact, if you can find a few hours, let yourself rest and try hard not to feel guilty about it.  Remind yourself that most likely, you’re ready.  And if you’re not, force yourself to make a sane to do list you actually have a shot at accomplishing rather than a manifesto that will leave you feeling inadequate when you fall short.  Trust that you got the best deal.  If you learn that Hero Princess is going to be on sale for a quarter for five minutes on Christmas Eve, say a prayer for the sucker that’s going to be standing in line rather than diving for your wallet and coat.

Is what you’ve done good enough?  I bet it is.  If you share your heart with someone this Christmas.  If you reach out and make vulnerable a bit of yourself you otherwise keep guarded, you’ll ace Christmas 2016.  And if you don’t find yourself chasing a delivery truck?  That’s some serious extra credit.