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It is real…

17 Apr

A few years ago, we spent 10 days touring Israel with our church group. It was an amazing, life changing experience. I’ve been a Christian as long as I can remember. Surrendering my spirit with every alter call, more times than I could count, until I learned that you only needed to do it once.

I tell you this because I have always been a believer. I don’t have all the answers and I can’t quote every scripture at the right time, but I’ve always believed in a God that is greater than I. I’ve witnessed “only God” moments and have seen Him work things out in my own life that seem unexplainable. I also know that bad things happen to good people and I don’t know why. I can’t explain it beyond the fact that sin is in the world. I know one day I’ll crawl up on God’s lap and ask him all about the things I don’t understand. Until then, I hold my faith tightly in a world where it seems so easy to just let it go.

The trip to Israel was a whirlwind. I intended to journal every night…and I failed most nights as I fell into bed exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. Several times during the trip, my husband and looked at each other and said “This is real. The Bible is REAL.”

I’m not sure what we expected. Neither one of us can really answer that question in hindsight. Maybe we thought we’d see artifacts in a museum….or stories in front buildings where your imagination had to be sparked to see what was there so many years ago. Maybe we thought it would be a bit like Disney…over commercialized.

What we saw though were the actual buildings and landmarks described in the Bible. Still standing…still exactly as described.

Skull Mountain (Golgotha) from my camera
From a google search

The garden tomb is nearly at the feet of Golgotha.

John 19:41: “At the place where Jesus is crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had been laid.”
My husband and I near a mock stone that would have been rolled in front of the tomb at the Garden.

In addition to these landmarks, we saw the Temple Mount, the pool of Bethesda, The Garden of Gethsemane, The Mount of Olives, Herod’s palace (it was indeed a palace)…and so much more. We sat on the steps where Jesus would have walked to access the temple…this stuff is real. It’s real…and it’s still there for you to see too.

If I can touch it, walk on it, see it…it’s not a hard leap to believe the rest of the Bible is real too. I’ve always been a believer but this trip cemented faith into my soul and grounded me there. It is real. He has risen!

Happy Easter friends!

Love

Lady Chats A lot.

XoXo

The entrance to the Garden of Gethsemane
The Garden of Gethsemane with olive trees.

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

Love well

9 Oct

I caught myself breathing deeply and letting out a sigh, more than a few times this morning. I heard my husband do the same. Today will be difficult.

In an attempt to clear the anxiety thumping between my ears and running down my neck, I laced up my sneakers and headed outside . Just a few minutes in, my feet glide over this leaf. Turning around to look closer, I snapped the photo.

I whispered a thank you to God for reminding me, he is here too. In the little places. In the big places. In the need to escape places.

We are headed to the funeral of a good, good man. One who loved well, and who was loved well.

We’ve already stuffed our pockets with tissue. We’ve already blinked back the tears …so many times. We won’t be able to contain them much longer. We know this.

Today we will love on his family. The heartbroken. Those left behind with no answers, but with great faith. They hold tight to belief that they will reunite with him again on the streets of Heaven.

Light rain has begun to fall. The skies are gray and cloudy. It’s as if the earth knows… and is mourning with us.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalms 34:18

Love well,

Lady Chats a lot

Xoxo

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 

Shutting down the world

21 Mar

Sometimes I dabble at writing a blog. Frankly, if you follow me, it’s been a minute… 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..

The world is a crazy place right now. Legit, crazy. We are living in unprecedented times. No one really knows what they are doing… What we should be doing….I find it difficult to follow those in leadership because while we are supposed to be “flatting the curve” we have no way of really knowing if it is working due to the lack of tests available… 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 it’s peak. (At least it feels like it is at it’s peak – but let the chicken nuggets my kids eat run out at the grocery and I’m at a whole new level of anxiety!)

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!!! 

Yes….as Christians we are taught that we are created for relationship. Wayyyyy back in Genesis 2:18 we read  “The Lord God said, “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…)

Quote

Here is where I know I’ll lose some of you…but stay with me, ok!

Say what you will but I believe in the spiritual battle between good and evil. I know there will be some people rolling their eyes at this point, and maybe you’ll even stop reading. I get it.

I didn’t always know about this spiritual battle nor did I believe in it. But it is actually in scripture. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10.12, NIV)

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)  Spend time with the Lord. Let him lead you; calm you. My prayer is that you hear his voice. Dive deep into your Bible. 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, looking for something good – and God sends a special moment or ah-ha thought. Try it.

2) 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 best. 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.

3) Spend time with your family. The ones that live in your house. Call or face time the people who don’t! Stay connected! Don’t let this time in quarantine be sucked up with hours of social media scrolling!

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 I go upstairs to the quiet of my room. I turn on the tv or read, but essentially all of 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!”

Of course I said okay and before long she was snuggled under the covers with me on her Poppa’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!”. We get started on the first few pages, with me reading the directions and her doing the work. 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 or so in to “relaxing”, and she purrs, “I looove you Gigi”.

WorkThat’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.

Join me in prayer:

Dear Lord,
I don’t even know how to deal with this Corona Virus. I don’t understand its presence in our world. What I do know is that you are not caught by surprise. Lord, help us through this. Strengthen our hearts and our immune systems as we put on the

“full armor of God…standing firm…with the readiness that comes form the gospel of peace.” We “take up the shield of faith..to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”…and we carry ”the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17).

Just like you did Lord during Passover this very time of year so long ago, please allow the virus to pass over this house. Over our friend’s and family’s houses. For you are not a God of favorites. If you’ve done it once before, you will do it again. Lord I ask for your peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray for your guidance, your protection and your wisdom during this trying time.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

xoxo – Lady Chats A Lot 

 

Caution: curves ahead

22 Mar

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This week I watched a recent video of myself that I made with my son.  I was shocked  at the image I saw reflecting back at me. I’ve had a rough couple of years with some things …and apparently, I am an emotional eater….or possibly an emotional drinker… maybe…I’ve found a fondness for red wine and it found a roomy home on my hips.

Over the last few months, I began moving the clothes that no longer fit to the left side of my closet. I’m still flabbergasted  when I’m unable to pull up the pants I’ve worn for the last 10+ years past my thighs….The pile on the left of the closet  is large.

This means I’ve also had to  purchased new pants – begrudgingly. My collection is minimal in comparison. It was either that or go naked… I had no choice in the matter. Yes, leggings work well and are cheap…but they hide the fact that I appear to be growing – out, not up. At this point, my ass could qualify for it’s own zip code…

So, I’m watching this video thinking – How in the world?  Really.  How did I let myself gain 30 pounds? When I look in the mirror I know I’m bigger…but this video.  Lord, please promise me that the camera adds 10 pounds…that I really don’t look that way in REAL life.

But the truth is I’m now heavier than when I delivered both of my children.  I know I’m teetering on the verge of no return….and I don’t know what to do about it.  Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many women larger than myself. This isn’t about them. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. This is about me feeling good, or not, in my own five-foot-five-and-half skin.

This is how my day starts:  I try on a new black skirt that arrived yesterday.  To tight.  I contemplated keeping it for “when I lose the weight” but more than slightly depressed at the likely hood of that NOT happening, I tossed the skirt on the bed to return later.

I then selected white slacks that I knew were a size or two larger. They fit, but the view from behind was not so cute….On went the Spanx – boy shorts.  Spanx, the well-known by ladies around the world (but rarely seen by men) undergarments that are made to make me look skinner.  Yet, I some how now feel like a sausage.  A bratwurst to be specific…But damn it to heck, I have to go with this outfit because I’ve already worn the other two pants that fit me this week.  Tomorrow it’s jeans….

I tossed on a cute shirt from a local boutique that I haven’t worn since last summer. It was a little snug across the chest but nothing terrible I thought…However, the more I moved my flat iron across my hair, I realized it was too constricting.  I no longer liked it.  Crossing my arms at my waist to lift the fabric….I find I can’t. I was stuck. I couldn’t get this damn shirt off my body.  I twisted, I tried….I grunted…I thought, “Imma have to cut this bitch off.”…For a second I contemplated running downstairs to wake up one of my children to help me pull this sucker off….I’m not sure I’d live that one down…EVVAHH… Five minutes and a few tears later, I wiggled out of  shirt looking like I’d been on a subway fight. Red in the face, hair a mess…

I promptly moved it to the left side of my closet.  My first thought?

You know you are fat when you get stuck in your freakin’ shirt. What the hell…

On to work. As I’m walking up the sidewalk I say a little prayer.  “Lord, I don’t like this. I don’t like how I feel about me. You love me and have helped me in so many ways.  Help me to lose this weight.”

Fast forward through my day.

I’m in the ladies room where a coworker asks How I’m doing. “busy. good.” I say.    I tell her she looks beautiful today.  She shrugs, not believing my words, her eyes drifting away from me.  Then she says, “You look good too. How did you gain your weight? Eating too much.”

Yessssss. She said those words.

Before you get riled up and ready to kick ass, please hear her story.

She is from South America. She LOVES curves.  Which until her recent weight loss, she had — curves for dayyyys!  She tells me, almost too eagerly, she can’t wait until she can put on some pounds.  She is serious…This I know.

I tell her I’ll shift her some of mine – If only it were that easy!   She then says with a large grin and wiggling eyebrows,  “I bet your husband is happy” as she points to my zip code carrying ass….

She is losing weight not because she wants to friends, but because of the chemo.  You see, she has breast cancer.  She wears a scarf to cover the hair loss which makes her self-conscious.  She has a hard time looking me in the eyes,  really – looking anyone in the eyes, these days.  Yet, I think she looks more beautiful than in any day prior.  Her warrior spirit is shining.  She is fighting and it shows. Without the distraction of her hair, which was indeed gorgeous, her eyes become the focal point, dancing in the light.  She is simply stunning.

I get back to my desk and think, “You know your fat when…”

Then I stop.  I close my eyes….I sense God’s hand…and I pray.

I thank God that I’m healthy.  Specifically, I thank him for my cancer free body.  With embarrassment, I apologize for believing anything different. A few extra pounds is nothing in comparison. I thank him for this lesson, for humbling my spirit.  I know I have some work to do…and I will.

Ladies, would you please join me in shifting our focus away from who we want to be and allow ourselves permission to be who we are?  Let’s not put our self-worth in our hair, our bodies, our curves – or lack of…

PS – If no one told you today, let me have the honor of doing so.  I love you. You are beautiful.

Put that on repeat.

Perspective.

In the Eyes of the Beholder….

18 Apr

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In an effort to declutter our home, I’ve posted a few items on Craig’s List.  One item happens to be a heavy desk we’ve had in a spare room for many years without use.  Because of it’s shape and girth, the deal required someone to come to our home for pick up.

We’ve met some characters during this process.  The last lady, purchasing another piece of furniture, and her family came in our home as if they were looking for a place to shack up. Each eyeballing and commenting on the rooms as they passed.  “Oh you have xyz, that must be nice….Ohhhh, and the high ceilings….I’ve always loved those” …..I half expected to find them on my sofa when I came home the next day.

While I find humor in it all, and I like the cash, my husband finds it more burdensome.  Not because he doesn’t like cash….just because you never know what you are going to get when someone pulls up to your house…. and that makes him a wee-bit uncomfortable.

After several messages and missed appointments our buyer for the desk finally arrived….thirty minutes late.  My husband is now shifting his feet, anxious to get this over with as it  dinner time….  And dinner time takes priority over all else in this house!

I meet the young blond outside and noticed his slightly broken English. He states twice in a rather short period of time that he is not from the area so I asked the question, where are you from?  The Czech Republic.

What the heck are you doing here?

He couldn’t contain his smile and his eyes danced wildly as he told the story.  Turns out, he was “finishing university” and applied for a green card on a whim.  He received the notification that he won! His mannerisms and body language  told me that it was a major, lottery size win to get selected for the green card. He was joyous…boundless joy exuded from his every movement.

So, he said, “I packed up my book bag and came over.”  ….

That simple I thought….Just a book bag and a smile.  A new country waiting for you to explore awaits.  How fantastically scary, yet tremendously awesome. Brave!  Good for you!

My husband on the other hand, is now looking at him as if he were crazy…Our travel book bag, for day trips, barely zips with all the crap we tow.  He is thinking…a book bag? Your whole life fits into a book bag?  He clearly does not share our last name!

The young man goes on to talk about the work he found while here, a German based company.  He has high hopes that he will be able to transfer when his green card expires.   He states he will one day need to go back home because he is a “child of one” and will have to take care of his parents. The duty understood and accepted without question.

As he says this, urgency builds and he spins on his heels. He says “I’m sorry. I just need to look”…..pausing…  “This is so beautiful, his arms wide, an effort to take it all in. I’ve never seen anything like this… but in the movies.”

Huh?  My husband I both twist and turn trying to see what he saw.  Nothing.  Our faces perplexed he said, “I’m living downtown and it looks a lot like my home. But here, you have grass and yards, and trees….It’s so…so beautiful.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”  He truly is almost brought to tears.

We smile back, softly….kindly….unable to match his energy.

In our minds our house is nothing special in comparison.  We bought it with the sole purpose to keep our oldest child in the school district we wanted him to attend.  It has never been our dream home, only our in-between home.  In fact one of the reasons we are decluttering is to prepare to sell it over the next few years.  Sadly, we’ve never been in love with it.

His words, his pure wonder and excitement….sit with us through dinner and into the days that follow.

I recant the story to my youngest on our drive to school. He says, “that makes me sad for him.”

“Why?” I say

“Because, what must his country look like if he thinks this is beautiful?”

Taking a few minutes to ponder, I respond, “You know what? It makes me think I need to travel more.  I’d like to see his country. He said it looks a lot like down town.  Because he is so used to that, the beauty has worn off….It just is normal…boring…to him.  Yet people travel from all over to vacation in our city.  Here, with green grass and birds and trees…that is beautiful, because it is different.  I may feel the same about his country if I saw it.  It may be so, so beautiful to me because it is different than anything I’ve seen before.”

He nods in agreement.

Thank you Lukas for the lesson.  I’m not sure I’ll ever look at my home the same.  Your words echo in my ears when I pull into the drive way, and I am grateful.

I pray my young man grows up to be just as courageous one day. Following his dreams with his smile and his back back.  Ready to take on the world, fearlessly educating himself through experiences.

I pray that my eyes continue to open wide enough to see beauty in all things… even the beautifully… normal things.

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Brain Mush

27 Feb

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Brain.MUSH….

As a recovering perfectionist, I hate when I can’t seem to form coherent sentences…or when the words that are on the tip of my tongue don’t form into the vocabulary I’m accustomed to. I struggle for syllables, tripping on consonants…misplacing vowels. Apologizing for my brain mush seems silly…but I do it anyway….

I’m not one to set resolutions at the new year. I do however, set goals for fitness, finance and personal growth. Over the last few years, this odd thing started to happen…Something on the spiritual level started to tug…snag on my day until I acknowledged it’s presence.

It crops up on its own..taking shape before my eyes… and I know…I know it is my job for the next twelve months to work on the assignment at hand.Like the dutiful student that I am, I dive in…Hoping to gain wisdom and find peace on the journey.

The first time this happened, it was the year of practicing patience… THAT was a freakin’ hard year…I had LOTS of homework and on the job training. I still wouldn’t define myself as a patient person…In fact, I don’t do anything slow…but I’ve come a long, long way. I can wait in line now without turning into a two year old with behavioral problems stomping my feet and rolling my eyes.

Last year I worked on loving people for who they are…where they are. Also…NOT AN EASY TASK, folks. Some people are NOT that loveable…Just saying… But what I gained out of that experience far out weighs the pain….

I even became friends with some folks that only move in first gear….as their fastest speed…Trust me when I tell you this used to drive me C.R.A.Z.Y….

Seriously….BAT SHIT CRAZY…who knew they could be so loveable?

So this year, I was a little shocked when the knocking at the door wore a lighter coat….a trench, let’s say. Putting his arm around my shoulders he said, “Let’s work on being in the moment”….

Hmmm….Don’t I already do that?

“Not very well” he replied….

So here I am…Drinking a glass of red wine, sitting on my back porch listening to the birds chirp. I had a very successful work week, watching an event that took months to plan, come together.

I’m exhausted…and will allow my body to rest without pushing for more.

My brain is mush…and no apologies are needed.

Visualizing a job well done…and basking in it’s light.

I’m in the moment…and it feels pretty damn good right about now….

I’m a work in progress…but I’m in it…to WIN it…

PS – during the writing of this blog…I posted to soon by mistake (^ see comment about brain mush)…AND, I lost half the post having to retype it…only for my computer to do a random shutdown and software update….

Guess I could still use some work on patience…because I nearly quit…and a few cuss words may have escaped into the atmosphere…

Thanksgiving

26 Nov

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of my mantra…

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Living a purposeful life.

Thankful for blessings and thankful to be a blessing.  For we are not meant to only receive…or only to give… but to find balance between the two.

My twelve year old asked that I write about our experience today…and at first I was hesitant. Weighing heavy…I’m not sure that it is the right thing to do.  It’s not normally something I share…In fact, it makes  me quite uncomfortable to do so.

However, lots of topics on this blog make me uneasy…vulnerable, even….

-slips on the blind fold….I feel my feet bouncing on the board beneath me… I’m diving in…-

Admittedly, my life has been a bit disorganized and chaotic over the last few weeks. The lack of energy causing me to wait until the last minute to do our holiday food shopping.  By the time we crossed the threshold today, the store was packed and the aisles a bit bare. Sighing as we joined the crowd, our nerves take on the energy of those around us…It is maddening….

Our cart now full, I recant from memory the ingredients of the dishes I plan to cook tomorrow, ticking each one off as I scan my cart for accuracy…check..check…good…  Our cart picking up speed as we head to the register as if in a race.

Finding the shortest line, which on any other day would not be described as such, we wait…shifting my weight every three seconds…my hands on my hips…I’m a  bit impatient wondering why this conveyer belt is not moving and why the cashier appears to not be working.

I’m tired from a day of errands, from playing the referee  between two bickering ADHD-ers…one fully grown…to whom I happen to be married…and the other, well, twelve…

Moms around the world nod with understanding and sympathy…

At this point I just want my sweat pants and a hot cup of coffee.

TAKE.ME.HOME

Loading my groceries on the belt, I vaguely hear the lady in front of me.  She is having trouble with her new debit card. It worked at the gas station she says…she tries it again…and again. Maybe four times.  A mix of stress and embarrassment flush over her. She doesn’t have another form of payment. The line continuing to form behind her.

And I know

…I make a face in response. Twisted lips because I see the outcome before I’m ready to make the decision.

(Honest confession) I’m Torn…I’m not sure if I want to ….but I know I’m supposed to…..

I’m supposed to because I come from the belief that there are no REAL accidents, just missed opportunities.

So I slide my card to the cashier.

Done.

I didn’t have all the right words…didn’t do all the right things…It was a bit awkward for all…it wasn’t a planned moment.

Why? Because we are all in it together.  Because I know the panic that washes over you when you don’t have the money to pay… because blessings are meant to flow to you and through you….and I am blessed.

Shocked she wasn’t sure how to respond…She leaned in to hug me..clasping her hands to her face, then chest…..I mumbled quietly out the side of my mouth, “happy thanksgiving…and merry Christmas”….still not having a handle on  the events  transpiring before me.

I asked T, “Why would I…should I… tell this story?”

Proud to be a part of the day, he said,

“It was literally the meaning of thanksgiving.  You gave and she said thanks.  It was so awesome.”

From the eyes of a child it is just that simple.

A story to be told.

Take Chances. Give everything…. And have no regrets.

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