Archive | July, 2013

to give AND RECEIVE

18 Jul

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If you were to ask me about my core belief system, I would tell you that from the pit of my being, I believe we are all here to help each other.  I thoroughly enjoy when I have an opportunity to help someone, even more so when it is a complete stranger.  Although, I’ve always recognized that I don’t like to be on the receiving end.  I’ve never really put much thought into why it is okay for me to give, but not receive, until this afternoon.

I like to shop in thrift stores. I rarely buy anything but I like to browse.  Most of the time I see ancient relics that bring back memories of childhood.  Sometimes I see  items I can’t believe were donated, like the prosthetic right leg complete with shoe and sock I saw a year ago. I mean, I thought those were specific to the user…and not something you bought second hand….Either way, the shopping trip is usually good for a smile or two. Today, in our local Habitat for Humanity store, I picked up a handful of books totaling $1.50.  When I stepped up to the register, I realized I didn’t have any cash. Typical… I live by my debit card. Habitat doesn’t accept debit cards for purchases less than five dollars. I was in the process of asking if they would hold the books for me, when an employee spoke up. He said, “no, because I’m going to buy them for you right now.”…. My response to him, with all sincerity in my heart, was “Please don’t do that. “

Ugghh, I felt like a deflated balloon the moment I heard my own voice.  I saw his eyes fall.  I knew I had unwittingly taken his thunder. By snubbing his offer, I took away the opportunity for him to receive the happiness he would have felt for doing a good deed.  I know how great it feels to help a total stranger. It is an emotion I  savor…and I ripped it right out of his hands. How could I? Sucking all the air out of the room and stumbling on my words, I tried to gather any morsel of encouragement, praise and gratitude I could piece together.  However I knew it was pointless. The moment was gone.  Oh yes, he followed through and bought the books for me.  But the moment was gone.

Tail between my legs, now seated in my car, I wondered why on earth I would have responded in this manner.  Then the curtain of truth lifted.  I realized with a heavy heart that it was pride that rejected him.  I didn’t want him to spend his hard earned money on me.  My silly books were not a necessity, not worth his money.  There were other people he could bless that needed it more than me.  Surely, he could spend his money on something more valuable…Shaking my head I thought, who was I to make that determination for him? Who was I to steal his joy?  What authority did I have?  Was he not capable of deciding who he wanted to help that day? Surely he was! My behavior was simply arrogant. Talk about being humbled….

Like most life lessons, this one snuck up on me. It came completely out of the blue, smacking me back into reality.  I’m grateful for the lesson. Even at my age, I’m still learning.  I can only pray that this gentleman receives double blessings by some other well-meaning stranger. In my core, I believe that we are to be a channel that allows blessings to flow to you and through you.  Simply put, I believe you are to do unto others as you’d like done to you.  I didn’t succeed in that today. Thankfully, tomorrow brings another opportunity for success. This is one lesson that won’t easily be forgotten.

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Will power …..

14 Jul

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Dieting sucks…Quite frankly, I suck at it. Don’t poke my eyes out when I say this, but there was a time in my life when I simply couldn’t gain weight. It didn’t matter the amount of junk I consumed, I wouldn’t budge from a size two. I would giggle when people asked how could I stay so skinny and eat ice-cream for dinner. Secretly I thought God had blessed me with a metabolism that would never change. Obviously, this gave me a false sense of freedom to eat what ever I wanted, when ever I wanted. Allowing me to ingrain poor eating habits free of consequence.

It wasn’t until the last 7-10 years or so that the weight started creeping on. At first, I was okay with it. I thought I could use a little weight on my body. Then my thyroid decided to quit working and I gained 20 pounds. That is a lot on a small frame. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big girl. I’m just a girl who is not happy with my weight. I once heard Oprah say when she looked back on her life, she thought she was fat at a size 8. Now, she would kill for a size 8. It made me wonder if women are ever really happy with their body. Or is it only in hindsight that we realize that we looked ‘good enough’?

Exercise, over the last three years, has become my pesky friend with whom I have a love / hate relationship. I’ve come to realize that I NEED to exercise. Even thought I hate every minute of it. It hurts and I’m not one that enjoys pain. However, some where in the midst of my training, the act of exercise eclipses my mental state. I’m then focused on the movement, the pain in my muscles, the reps and counts until it is over, and the stress of the day falls away. There simply isn’t enough room for it. My mind is quiet. It is for this reason my body craves time in the gym. Although imagine my shock when I learned that two cookies are about 150 calories. This is the equivalent to running a mile on the treadmill. You simply can not exercise enough to compensate for bad food choices.

The secret to success truly lies with will power. Something that hasn’t been flexed much in my life, at least not over food. It wasn’t necessary until now. When I hear “no popcorn on this diet”, my mind immediately translates this to “I NEED popcorn”. Even if I haven’t had it for the six months prior. THIS is the voice I need to silence. She behaves like a reckless teenager, never seeing the long term consequences of her short term desires. She is loud and obnoxious. She pouts, stomps her feet and slams doors until I reluctantly give in, shoving handfuls of calories into my mouth. She is a major pain in my ass, one I would gladly get rid of, if only I knew how.

With no other choice, I’ve decided to let go of the image of the young, skinny me. Although I really liked her a lot! Competing with her is futile. Instead, I will turn my attention to being a healthy 37 year old version of me. With age, you learn to walk away from things that no longer fit. It is one of the few privileges given to those that are growing older. There is a peace that comes with the understanding and acceptance of things you can not change. I will continue to push myself in the gym, not only for my body but for the relief it brings to my mind. I’m hoping that when I’m 60, I won’t look back and think I was to hard on myself. Conscious of this, I will strive to enjoy the moment, the now of today. However if you find a pair of earmuffs strong enough to silence the insufferable young lady taking up residence in my head, I’ll buy them from you. That is until I find a way to evict her. She doesn’t even pay rent.

Two Steen Geniuses

13 Jul

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Who would have thought that I could have give birth to not one, but TWO  Geniuses? What are the odds?  By the age of 3 1/2, both of my children managed to cram all the knowledge of the universe into their tiny little heads.  How do I know this? Because every time I tell them something, their response is “I know”.   So there you have it. They are geniuses. My role as a mom, life councilor, rule provider and enforcer is no longer needed.  I can go on mom vacation now and just enjoy endless days of not having to worry about my know it all kids, because in fact, they know it ALL.

My younger son, T, will argue the bark of a tree.  With all his knowledge, he is very good at it. Quite often he ‘wins’ from shear exhaustion of his opponent (me).  He has road maps in his head for every location in the United States and will tell you when you are going the wrong direction. The amazing part of this, is many times he has never traveled these roads….but he KNOWS you are wrong.  And for the rest of the car ride, no matter how long, will try to convince you of your mistake. He also KNOWS all of the house rules, although he doesn’t always follow them, for reasons I don’t understand. He KNOWS that his dirty laundry doesn’t go on the floor and KNOWS where the laundry basket is, yet he doesn’t put them there. Maybe it is some sort of genius trick I haven’t figured out how to decode. I wonder if there is a genius mom hotline?  Someone that I can talk to that understands the level of genius of my children.

My older son S, is now 21.  Oh boy is he smart. I can’t remember a conversation with him in the last 18 years that didn’t end with “I know, mom”.   He is now living on his own and doing very well. We are tremendously proud of him.  He KNOWS to get his oil changed in his car. Although, I don’t think he has done it in the last 6 months…but I’m sure he KNOWS how to fix it should something happen.  He just told us this week that he quit his production job to work in a sales.  He started last week selling alarm systems door to door.  He KNOWS that it will be difficult and he KNOWS that sales is not always steady income….I’m sure he KNOWS that he needs to save his money for any short fall…I’m so happy that he has the self confidence to step out and try something new.  I work with some very talented and successful sales representatives.  I would pass on some sales tidbits to Shawn, but he already KNOWS everything.  It seems he was created for this job.  The thing I KNOW about Shawn is that when he puts his mind to something, he is able to achieve anything.  I told him  as much and he responded, “I KNOW, mom.”

I’m thinking about starting a club for moms that have genius children. There has to more of of you out there than just me. I mean, I had two which seems to be against all odds. Maybe we could have t-shirts made to show our solidarity.  Something that says, “Wanna know the details of the universe? Ask my kid. He KNOWS it ALL.”

The Beginning

7 Jul

Our dating years

The problem with long weekends, is at some point they end. Tomorrow my alarm will sound and I’ll head into work. Truth is, I love my crazy job. The worst part of tomorrow will be that I have to get dressed. I much prefer to be in my pj’s. However, I recognize I’m more productive in heels and real clothes.

This weekend we celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. My husband Kevin and I started dating 22 years ago in high school. I was actually seeing another boy when we met. He was a complete jerk and his name is Chris . (Watch out single ladies. Not surprisingly, I think he is still looking for THE ONE.) Chris and I were going on a double date with Kevin and a friend of mine, Dawn. My boyfriend Chris, didn’t come pick me up for the date, Kevin did. We started chatting in the car. It was awkward for both of us at first. Surprisingly though, after just a few minutes we were laughing. For our double date, we were going to the river to swim. Keep in mind, I was 15. We were all young and jobless.

Chris, barely spoke to me that day. He was more concerned with how he looked in the water, out of the water, with his shirt on, with it off….you know. He was THAT type of guy. Kevin on the other hand was quiet, yet attentive. He asked questions about my life and seemed genuinely interested in my answers. There was a truth about him and I instantly liked his personality. I was thinking, “what a nice boy”, when he slipped his shirt off to hop in the water….and Whooooa WHATTTT HAPPENED??? My tummy flipped. This boy was cuuuuteee! I liked him EVEN more at that point. But I had this jerky, good for nothing, ass wipe of a boyfriend, Chris. He and Kevin were friends….and I had set Kevin up with my friend Dawn. UGGGH, What’s a girl to do?

Never underestimate the manipulation of a 15 year old girl. I found Kevin’s number in the phone book. (Remember this story takes place pre-internet.) I gave him a call, you know to talk about Chris and see what could be done to ‘make our relationship better’. Kevin and I talked for hours….not about Chris. I then decided to break up with Chris. Don’t feel sorry for him. He could have cared less. The hardest part of this story was telling my friend that I liked the boy I set her up with….. How did I tackle it? Like a 15 year old girl does, head on and matter of fact. I said “Hey, you know that boy I set you up with? I’m thinking about asking him out. Do you care?” She raised her eyebrows…She had much more grace and poise than I did, obviously. She was pretty much speechless and I decided that meant I was good to go. Next up, call Kevin and pretend that I was upset over the whole Chris thing…and to let him know I was SINGLE. He didn’t bite….I called him again, and again…no bites. Although we would talk endlessly and I could tell he was interested. I had never done this before and was always told that ladies don’t….but what the heck. I wasn’t a lady yet. I was a 15 year old country girl. I called again…and I asked him out on another double date. This time he would be MY date. He said yes. The rest, as they say, is history.

Later I learned that Kevin was quite manipulative too in a slow, stalking way….He was interested in me and befriended Chris the jerk to get closer to me. I was new to the school and he had seen me in the hallway. He had no interest in having Chris as a friend. He was slick! I, on the other hand, was like a bull in the China shop. To this day, it still defines our personalities. I’m a person of action. See it, want it, do it, get it done! Kevin is slow, meticulous, thinking things through to achieve the best opportunity for success….Clearly, we were meant to be together. If not, I’d be in jail and he would be stuck in first gear. Balance, it is a good thing! God knows what he is doing and I am thankful.

So this is how our story began. Of course there are more stories to tell. Maybe I’ll sprinkle them in from time to time. I’m not sure yet. They say true love stories never end. I’m counting on that.

Learning to ignore

6 Jul

Truth

I live with slobs…two of them…and three dogs. There was a point in my life when a clean house meant much more to me than a clean house. The thought of someone coming in my home and seeing the truth of our sloppiness would put me in a frenzy. A clean house, scented with lemon and bleach, was the proof that I was good. Good at keeping things organized and pristine. Able to don an apron, whip up a mouth watering home cooked meal, win mother of the year, and be the wife that I thought many of my friends had already achieved with ease. I would spend my entire Saturdays cleaning like a mad woman, scrubbing floors on my hands and knees. Only when fully exhausted, would the satisfaction of a job well done be accepted. My husband on the other hand, could have cared less…except the part about a mouth watering meal. Yes, the way to his heart is through his tummy.

Then life got busy…crazy busy. I was in school and working full time. We had two kids in sports. My husband took on a new demanding role at work requiring much more than 40 hours a week…..and life began to fall apart. Or at least the house did. Because my definition of perfection balanced on a clean house, I found myself  exhausted and in tears most of the time. Trying something new, I came up with chore lists for the children and my husband… yeah, that was a total fail …They had no desire to achieve the perfection I dreamed about….After one to many days of not feeling up to par, I made a deal with myself. The house would be liveable. Not perfect, not pristine, not white glove….but liveable. I would learn to be okay with it for the sake of my sanity.

Ignoring the bad and looking at the good has been one of those life lessons that I wish I would have learned sooner. I’m pleased to report that I’m now just fine with the slobbiness that defines my family, as long as it is livable. There are days that the sink has dishes in it, the floor needs to be vacuumed, and the bathrooms could use a wipe down…and yet, I put my feet up, drink a glass of wine, and enjoy The Real Housewives of New Jersey instead. Why? Because no one in the house seems to care either. It isn’t a priority for them and I’m no longer allowing it to define my role as wife or mother.

Ladies, we often paint a picture that only we can see. We work to get our family on board, feeling like failures when we can’t express to them the beauty of the picture. If only they would do this, or that, or anything….can’t they see how much better or easier or prettier it would be?? We let this picture define and shape us, to feed our spirit and our minds….yet it never really does.

Cut yourself some slack. Drink the wine, watch t.v., read a book in total peace, with dirty dishes in the sink. There will always be something for you to do around the house…Learn to ignore. Learning to ignore is one of the great paths to inner peace.

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