Archive | Family RSS feed for this section

The perception of Love

16 Jan

I’ve been drawn to the color red lately. With valentines on the way, it’s the perfect opportunity to add the pop of color to my home. So, I added a few things to my Target cart, like this welcome mat, that called my name.

I had to have it!

My husband and I were going out for date night Saturday evening. Since I am (always) waiting on him, I started rearranging. I put this “Love” rug on top of a red and white buffalo plaid one that I repurposed from Christmas. It is adorable and I snapped this picture to post to insta:

Cute, right?? But the rug isn’t straight! I tried three MORE times…Each time, it was slightly… off…FRUSTRATING!

Trust me when I say, to the naked eye, it was straight. I stood back and looked from several angles. I rearranged, pulled, fluffed…. But that camera lens, it told a different story. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get it perfect….I paused looking at this crooked/straight Love rug and thought….well, isn’t that how LOVE really is?

From the outside, it can look perfect ….but up close, and through the right lens, you see it slightly differently.

I giggle a little when people in my circle comment on how “perfect” my life is….always “happy” they like to say to me.

No.

I’m not always happy. I don’t have a perfect life. Truth.

What I’ve learned from my days as a newlywed is that marriage is not all cake and sunshine. If you have that perception going in, you’ll be looking to jump ship the first time it gets hard. Here is a news flash: It will get hard. My husband and I have been married for 25 years. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We are best friends. We have the same goals. We not only love each other, but we really like each other….and it has still been hard. You just can’t be in a relationship that long, with flawed humans, and not go through difficult, painful times. The hope is, as you grow individually, you also grow together.

That said, as we enter the season of our 25th year, I’m surprised at just how sweet it is. Even though we may argue (about making beds, dishes, and dinner), we don’t fight. We’ve gone through enough counseling and have developed a communication style that works for us and we lean into it…hard. We don’t press each other’s buttons on purpose, and when we mistakenly touch those sensitive issues, we apologize quickly. It’s as if we are in the harvest season. All of our hard work has paid off.

Here is what I know for sure. Perfection is a thief. It robs you of any joy and causes you to work endlessly for something that is unattainable. I know this because I am a self proclaimed recovering perfectionist. The day I laid the burden of perfection down was the day I was able to really live! It has been life changing and freeing. Facts: I don’t expect perfection in any area of my life – kids, family, friends, work, marriage, or home decor.

Our LOVE isn’t perfect, but it’s true. It’s kind and gentle. It rallies. It fights for itself and for each other. It is celebrated. It keeps trying to get it right even though we sometimes fail. Our love doesn’t give up.

If you see us from the outside, your perception may be different …but inside, through our lens, we know the work, the dedication, the truth. The hard. And we still keep going. 25 years and counting, baby. We got this.

Slightly crooked. Pulled, fluffed, rearranged.

Perfectly, Imperfect.

Love,

Lady Chats A Lot

XOXO

Shortlisted

20 Dec

A few weeks ago, my littles participated in our small-town parade. My husband had to work so I was by myself, ready to record every second of the smiling goodness on my phone for him, for prosperity, and for Facebook 😊. Getting there early, I set up my folding chair on the empty sidewalk, sipped my (as skinny as they can make it) peppermint mocha, and watched as the path around me quickly filled with other littles and their families. Everyone was ready to see Santa!

Before I go on, I need to say a few things. This story isn’t one of judgment. In fact, I almost didn’t write it because I don’t want it to be misinterpreted. However, I made a pact with God this year that if he puts something on my heart to write, I’ll do it. Even when it’s uncomfortable or even when it could be misinterpreted. I thought about writing this story moments after the parade, then tossed it out the window. It woke me up at six am this morning….and well, here we are.

Reminder: No judgment, just observation.

The sidewalks are filling up, our folding chairs are nearly touching those of others.  Covid six-foot rules don’t apply on limited, parade viewing pathways in the South.  I’ve noticed a little girl two families down from me.  She is maybe four and she is so stinking cute, dressed in her adorable Christmas outfit. Her white-blonde hair is pulled up in a ponytail, where the ribbons bounce when she talks.  

She caught my eye again because she is now stomping her tiny rhinestone tennis shoes, and is doing something between a shout and a whine into her mother’s face “I have to GOOOOOO.” Her hands trying to stop the flow and her legs are crossed. Her mom, yells “OKAY…OKAY…Then let’s gooo.” She shouts back shoving her hands on the armrest to push herself to her feet….Her response is angered. I now realize that I’ve heard the child asking to go to the bathroom a few times over the course of the last half-hour, but I’ve dismissed it like much of the other conversation around me. The mom doesn’t want to leave her friends that have joined her. She has been chatting and laughing since they arrived. She waved a few folks over from the opposite side and had us all slide down a little to accommodate. She was excited to experience this moment of Christmas together.

The mom snatches the blond child’s hand and pulls her across the street to Starbucks to use their facilities. She is back in what seems like only seconds. Her friend, enthusiastically says “THAT WAS QUICK!” To which the mom replies

No. I have to get my keys. She wet her pants.

Crestfallen. The little girl is standing there looking at people she loves, and people she doesn’t even know. Ashamed. Her eyes are pointed at her shoes. 

My heart breaks.

My first thought…and I nearly said it out loud before catching myself… “SHE TOLD YOU. SHE TOLD YOU SHE HAD TO GO POTTY.”

But my heart tugged again. I remember those days. I remember being a new momma. Ragged, tired. Trying my best. I remember getting so lost in doing unimportant things, that I forgot to focus on my real job. My most important job. The one where I’m not replaceable. The “being” of a mom.

The truth is, not a parent on the planet can say that they have all been fully present ALL the time. It’s so easy to become distracted with nonsense. With our phones, friends, work, t.v., football, housework, chores, social media, stress, parades..…it feels like the list never gets shorter. What I wish I would have known back then, is that none of that other stuff matters. Unraveling yourself at both ends isn’t helping anyone, least of all you.

This momma was no different. It was obvious this beautiful child was well-loved. There was simply nothing to indicate otherwise. I can only imagine that momma had planned for weeks to take her little to the parade, picked out her perfect Christmas outfit, and told her all morning how much fun they would have while doing her hair. Maybe they even sang Christmas carols on the way there. She wanted to create sweet memories. She had the best of intentions…Then life happened.

As I reflect on the Christmas season and the upcoming new year, I’ve decided to use this time to get better at sinking in. To be fully present, immersed in the moment. I encourage you, friend, to do the same. Sit. Hold hands. Look into your children’s eyes. Fall in love again with your spouse. Listen to your parents’ (and grandparents’) stories. Play.

Sift through life and toss out the things that no longer serve your purpose.  Your purpose is where you find your passion. For me, I’m deeply passionate about my family. I don’t want to miss a moment. Find those important things and hold on tight. Handcuff yourself to them and settle in. Let them fill your heart with joy.  What I know for sure, is that joy is what carries you through when life gets twisted. 

We don’t always get it right. The list of distractions never gets shorter. But your list of priorities can.

Create your shortlist and stick to it.

Sharing this message with you, friend, because I needed it too. No judgment. No mom shaming. Just observation.

I’m coming for you 2022. 

XoXo,

Lady Chats A Lot

Covid Tired

12 Oct

The crevices of my bones are tired.  My spirit is weary.  It’s not the kind of tired a good night’s sleep will fix.   I could sleep a week, I’d still feel this heavy, laden cloak of exhaustion. Like the kind the dentist lays across your chest when they take an x-ray and you struggle to inch beneath it.  Sometimes, I’m so exhausted, I can’t even find sleep.  I chase it around my head, forcing my eyes to close. Only to have them pop back open a few moments later, grabbing my phone to pass the time, and hoping the scrolling will induce slumber.  Sometimes, it does. Most of the time, it doesn’t. 

This level of tired comes from the daily pecking, peeling, away of all the good things that once were.  The news…peck…The politics….peck…arguments over masks and vaccines…peck, peck…The loss of community from working from home…peck…The isolation from quarantine…peck…Covid…. peck…

It’s doing much more than stealing our happiness. It’s stealing pieces of our humanity. It’s creating a further divide where people are arguing over who deserves care and who doesn’t….Let that sink in just for a few minutes.  Where is the empathy, compassion? That behavior, that thought process, doesn’t stay in that one bucket, that one specific topic. It moves and spreads across your daily interactions.  It’s now an “us versus them” conversation…. An, “I’m going to get mine.” society…  The covid battles are what is wearing us out.  The constant bickering, fighting, entitlement. ….peck, peck, peck.  

I have to believe the whole world is tired.  I just do. Because it keeps showing up in the behavior of strangers. Like little toddlers that have gone far beyond their nap time and are now in a total melt down mode because someone won’t let them lick the wall, or drink from the dog’s bowl… or some other random thing that toddlers do.   Like the guy who followed my young adult son home shouting “You don’t know who you are messing with” from the end of my driveway because he was unable to pass him on a short stretch of road into the neighborhood where the speed limit is 25mph….  Or the lady at Aldi that wanted to literally throw down because I said “excuse me” before she was ready to move.   (This is real life, folks.)

I have to believe that people who are well, who are happy, and rested, do not act this way.  People who are bone-tired from Covid act out like this.

I’m not one who likes to look in the rearview mirror often. I like to move in a forward direction…but damn, how do we get back to pre-covid? It wasn’t perfect…but it wasn’t …this.

When I was writing this message, I stumbled upon a blog post I wrote in the early days of Covid. I had so much hope then…and it’s a little sad for me to read it now. But because I don’t have any other words of inspiration to offer to re-right this ship, I’ll share that post with you now…Maybe we can all cling to a little sliver and pull ourselves out of the darkness.

Rewind to March 21,2020:

 
Sometimes I dabble in writing . I honestly don’t pick the topics. They roll around on my heart and stay on repeat in my mind until the only way I can get them out is to put them on paper.  That is the case with the writing below.  I am not a super Christian, nor do I play one on t.v.. Please be kind when you read the message below and if this is not your thing, cool.   

The world is a crazy place right now.  Legit, crazy. We are living in unprecedented times. No one really knows what they are doing… In a matter of just a few weeks, we’ve seen huge layoffs, school closures and a shortage of toilet paper.  If you would have told me at the start of 2020 that a virus would shut down the world, I would have thought that was an impossibility. Yet here we are in the middle of a pandemic, and the Corona Virus is doing just that – shutting down the world.  

It’s a scary time, no doubt.  Worry and anxiety are at its peak. (At least it feels like it is at its peak – but let the chicken nuggets run out at the grocery and I’m at a whole new level of crazy!)  

To deal with it all, I find myself diving deeper into prayer, into scripture, into places that I can latch on to other Christians to find hope before the curtain of darkness (which feels all to close) falls around us.  

In my quest, I landed on a video where our church worship leader said something that just resonated deep within me. He said something to the effect of “We are all social distancing to keep the virus at bay. But social distancing is just unhuman.”  Wow.

Wayyyyy back in Genesis 2:18 it is written 

 ““It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (NIV).  

 We were not meant to be alone. Men, certainly were not meant to be alone. (I kid, I kid…maybe)    

Could it be then that this virus is a spiritual attack meant to divide our relationships? To cause distance between “them” and “us”? I’m not disputing that this is a REAL virus. I’m saying, could there be more to it? If you believe in scripture, this is not to much of a stretch.   

So what do we do? How can we prevent the darkness from taking hold, from gaining ground?  

  1. Dive deep into your Bible.  Spend time with the Lord. Let him lead you; calm you. My prayer is that you hear his voice.  There are so many resources out there if you are not a reader or find the Bible difficult to navigate. (I was there too – a good study Bible is everything!)  I love watching Joyce Meyer, or Pastor TD Jakes.  Find something that brings you closer to God. Pray on your walks around your neighborhood.  Look for his beauty – and you will find it.  Those are some of my sweetest moments….when I’m just walking outside,  and God sends a special moment or ah-ha thought.  Try it.   
  1. Be kind. Look for ways to help others. Don’t allow ‘me versus them’ mentality to take root. During a crisis, we will see the worst and the best of humanity.  Be part of the latter. If you have a few extra bucks, donate to a blessing box or food pantry. Offer to pick up groceries for someone who is high risk.  Protect yourself but do what you can. 
  1. Spend time with your family and friends. The ones that live in your house.  Call or face time the people who don’t! Stay connected!  

My grand-precious and I have a routine that she calls “relaxing”.  It’s where I decide I’ve had enough of the day and of my crazy family – and I go upstairs to the quiet of my room.  I turn on the tv and scroll through social media, but essentially all my mom, work, and wife duties are over. I’ve clocked out.  At some point during her five years on the planet, she has decided that she should join me in “relaxing”.  This means that I’m not officially off the clock, but it does provide one-on-one time with my girl, and that is not lost on me.   

Last night I said, “I think I’m going upstairs.” Her green eyes widened, and she said “I want to go with you! To relax! I can relax with you!”  

Before long she was snuggled under the covers on her Popa’s side of the bed.  She loves to learn (a child after my own heart), and we buy her these big learning books. She already sailed through the K5 book so we are onto the first grade book. This makes her sit up a little taller, as she says, “I can do first grade, Gigi!”. She has her blue crayon in her right hand, and she is giving it her all.  Sounding out the letters “kkk aaa ttt …Cat!” and learning new words.  At some point, ten-ish minutes in or so, she says

“I looove you Gigi”.   

That’s it. That’s all it took to fill up my heart and wash away the day.  We are created for relationship.

We need it. I need it. Baby girl needs it. Hold on to your people and to God during this crazy time.   

Xoxo,

Lady Chatsalot

Magnolias and Memories

17 May

It’s the beginning of summer. When the air is still cool enough to enjoy being outside even when the sun is at its peak and high overhead. The wisteria and honey suckle are long since gone, but the magnolias are blooming.

Magnolias are not our state flower, but I have no idea why. They embody our great southern state of South Carolina. They represent us…Just go to any tourist jaunt and you’ll find something magnolia….a candle, a plate…a sign. They pepper our back yards and line the parking lots of nearly every place I can think of.

Magnolias = a southern state of mind.

magnolia

When my grand-precious and I take our bike rides,  her on her beloved frozen bike with silver tassels swaying from the handle bars and a fuzzy pink troll helmet a top her head, me walking briskly behind, we make a pit stop by the grand magnolia trees lining our neighborhood to drink in the fragrance. Burying our noses into the blossoms deeply, until the dream like fragrance fills our lungs and reaches our toes. They always bring a smile and a bit of amazement. Giant, bold blooms. Stark white petals, unfolding one by one to reveal the cone. The cone is a wonder all its own to be honest. Dancing with the branches, it releases the seeds (or carpels according to google) as the bloom begins to die. A last ditch effort for survival, I suppose. Hoping one of the seeds returns to ground to become a new. My grand-precious collects the seeds in her pockets as if they were treasure. “Look at this one Gigi” as she points to a new bloom. Scooping out the seeds of another to add to her collection.

I watch her and the corners of my smile nearly touches my eyes. When we first started this routine, I just wanted to point out new things for her to wonder about and to stretch her imagination. To ride around (and not over) the centipede crossing the sidewalk. To notice the way the stream moves and winds under the bridge. To see new wild flowers that were not there yesterday and wonder where they came from.

Today as I was watching her, I thought…when I’m long since gone, I hope she smells a magnolia bloom drifting through the early summer air and thinks about me.
The way I do when I think about my Gram….I can’t see a Burger King commercial without thinking about her. The lady loved her a whopper! Or the way my son does – my grand-precious’ father, when he sees a Sonic….because she equally loved a banana split and often used his visits to indulge in one with him! It’s funny the way the mind works and triggers memories.

Yesterday we were in Gram’s “neck of the woods” over on Folly Beach. We passed a Sonic and my 28 year old said “I think I had my first banana split over there.” We talked for a few minutes about Gram, banana splits and whoppers until the air fell heavy with the sadness that rises from losing someone you loved. My son said, “I miss Grandma Cox.”

“Yeah, me too buddy. But man did she love us. She loved us so hard.”
‘Yeah, she did.” He replied softly.

And so when I saw my little, beautiful, grand precious breathing in that big, bold magnolia blossom, I thought – I hope these memories get etched in her magnificent mind. When she is grown and I’m long since gone, it will serve as a reminder that she was loved. Loved so hard, and so deep, with every ounce of my being. Down to her toes and to the very tip of head. She is loved.

The way I do when I think of my Gram.

lina

 

XoXo,

Lady Chats A lot 

%d bloggers like this: