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Dirty Girl Run

15 Sep

Dirty girl

I am self proclaimed girly girl. I adore things that shimmer and shine, make-up and heels. When I was younger, people would use the term ‘girly girl’ as if it was carried some sort of negative connotation. In their tone, you sensed that being a tom boy made you a stronger, smarter, more desirable woman. In my old age I’ve realized that is simply ridiculous. Women come in all shapes and sizes, all levels of estrogen. One is not worth more or less because of their desire for pretty things, or for that matter, the lack of . Truth be told, there are still women today that use that same tone as they critique my shoes, or clothes or whatever they choose to voice. My response? I laugh, flip my hair and hope my tiara blinds them before I walk away. The only time I think it may be better to be a man is when I have to use the porta potty. Standing could be an asset….

This weekend I had the pleasure of hanging out with a fantastic group of women to play in the mud. HUH? Yep, it was a 5k with 10 obstacles. The goal was to get as muddy as possible and laugh. We met and exceed the goal! When I agreed to do the run I was scared. Scared I wouldn’t be able to complete the course. Scared of what it would entail. Scared of mud in awkward places…In the end I decided to give it a go. What the heck, right?

I’ve reached the age where life is comfortable. The down side is this also comes the risk of becoming stagnant. If I don’t branch out, I’m apt to be stuck in the same comfortable, pink silk lined box that I’m used to. Yes, it is pretty and soft in there. However after a while, even the prettiest of things can become mundane. I’m ready to discover what I can do. I’m putting fear in its place. In a cardboard box of its own, tightly wrapped in duct tape, placing it on a high shelf that can not be easily reached. Win, loose or draw, I’m going for it.

A few months ago, I ran the Color Me Rad 5k run with some of these same ladies. We ran while they pelted us with colored cornstarch. And we laughed….I laughed so much that I had purple teeth at the end. We are now planning our next run and I can’t wait! We didn’t start 2013 with a running goal or a plan to have a running team. Some how it ended up that way. In fact, we are not true runners…At least I’m not. I keep trying but I stink at it. I secretly hope one day I’ll magically wake up a runner. Yet, by the time this year is over, we will have at least 3 organized 5ks under our belt. It is funny how quickly your world can expand, if you are open to change and allow yourself the freedom to try.

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Reflecting on the weekend, I am simply amazed that I have such wonderful women in my life that are willing shed their comfortable Saturday for a day in the mud. We supported each other, clapped and cheered. We laughed and giggled and whooo-hooo’ed. In a world where people are so critical of each other, (especially women) it was nice to spend the day with those that had no other objective but to have fun.

Feeling blessed!

Well, that is a bummer…

4 Sep

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Today my car visor broke. You know that thing with the mirror on the back that when pulled down also blocks the sun? My car is only a couple of years old. This shouldn’t have happened, but it did….Tore right off in my hand as I was fighting to put it back in it’s holder. The thing is, I don’t want to tell my husband. No, I’m not scared. He is the nicest, kindest man. However, he tends to point out the obvious. While it may be true, it ticks me off.

Over the weekend, he drove the car and also fought with the visor. Irritated, he said I use it to much. Well, uh.. yeah…it has a mirror…I’m a girl. I have lips and teeth that I need to check before getting out of the car…DAILY. I don’t apologize for that..Oh, and I also use it to block the sun as I can never find my sun glasses. One of the reasons I refuse to buy ‘nice’ glasses…I toss them around the car, around my purse, around the house. Most of the time I’m dodging a scratch on the lens directly in my line of vision to see the car in front of me…its a rough life. Point is, I do use the visor. I’m not sure that I use it “to much”. Isn’t that what it is for? What is too much?

If I tell him I broke the visor, he will say that I need a car with bumpers. He would be right. I hate that. I’m not a BAD driver. I haven’t been in accident in over 11 years (knock on wood). Truth be told though, over the years I’ve backed into several poles, mailboxes, other parked cars..the list could go on, but I’ll save the gritty details to protect myself and prevent his list from getting longer. I don’t know why stuff just jumps out in front of me. (Maybe the scratch on my sunglasses is preventing me from seeing properly???) He swears the car has more scratches on it than it used to…honestly, it is possible…I don’t really notice. Once, while dropping my son off at school, I ran into a curb. This caused a tire to flatten in 30 seconds..and caused me to say a few naughty words. That was a bummer because we apparently use expensive hi-profile tires, not like the $57 tires on my old Honda Civic. The Hubster fussed, as much as he fusses anyway. I of course said it was a micro tap and tires really should have more ‘life’ to them. Either way, we were out a pretty penny. Since I manage our accounts, it upset me more than him…I think.

As I’m typing this blog and contemplating how I will tell him, my husband finds his way to the passenger side of my car looking for something. (There is some strange power in the universe that doesn’t let me get a way with a thing! I swear to goodness this is true!) Turns out I left the newly destroyed visor on the seat. He returns saying, “So you decided to just rip the visor right off, huh?”

Damn…

We all need a little encouragement from time to time…

18 Aug

f736ec5077fd99d25a9c7b39c1b0d42fMy Pinterest notifications are going off like crazy! I pinned the quote above to my quote board 29 weeks ago (according to Pinterest). To date, it has been repinned 567 times….I can tell you from the frequency of my notifications, the majority has been in the last week.  So it begs the question. Why?

This weekend I had the pleasure of seeing Joel and Victoria Osteen speak.  Joel is a pastor of one of the largest churches in America. I follow several pastors, depending on my mood and where I’m at spiritually. However, Joel has not been been a favorite of mine. In fact, I thought he was to “happy” for me.  He is always smiling, smiling, smiling.  From what I saw on t.v., I just couldn’t relate. When the tickets went on sale, I went ahead and shelled out the cash. Why? One, because I wanted to see what I was missing.  Maybe watching the message in person provided a different perspective.  And two, because I love to watch the mannerisms of great speakers regardless if I hold the same beliefs.

The event was titled “A Night of Hope”.  I read in the paper that it was a sold out event. The coliseum seats 13,000+! The overall message from everyone who spoke, including Joel’s mother, was one of encouragement.  To give a brief synopsis, the evening revolved around the following themes:

  1. God is greater than your problems.  Go to him (pray) for what you need.
  2. Don’t focus on yesterday. It is long gone. Look Forward.
  3. Forgive yourself. You can’t move ahead if you are always looking behind. Put down your baggage.
  4. You have all you need to be the person God created you to be and fulfill your destiny.

Joel’s critics say he teaches to much on prosperity and is a “dessert” preacher.  Meaning, he doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of scripture. Based on my perspective of the event, I can’t disagree.  Although everything he talked about DID line up with scripture, for me, it felt like he just skimmed the surface.  However, if you look at how often he fills a church of 5,000, filled this coliseum of 13,000, has followers all over the world receiving daily devotions, is a number one best selling author, (and the list goes on) his message  must be needed and WANTED.

As I was thinking about this and the overall experience, my Pinterest notifications were hitting my mailbox faster than I could delete them.  I realized Joel’s message and this pin, went together hand in hand.  We’ve all done things that in hindsight, we wished we could do-over. People move, change jobs, or schools, every day looking for a fresh start. The message at the Night of Hope gave those who wanted it, the encouragement to start again right where they are, forgetting what is behind and focusing on what lays ahead. This pin, sums up the same  message in a very short quote. “I hope you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” Clearly there is a thirst for this message.

So what can we do?

Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Understand that you are not, nor could ever be, perfect. Speak nicely to yourself. You are listening.  Learn to forgive yourself. Learn to love you for who you are. Be okay with your flaws. Be positive. There are enough negative things in the world. Don’t add to it.   Make small changes today to move you toward your goals. Celebrate your progress. If you slip up today, start again tomorrow. You are strong enough to be the person you want to be.  We only have one life to live. Make it count.

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Some rules should be broken….

14 Aug

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I love to read about behavior. It has always fascinated me. I love to dig into the real reasons people are the way they are.  I am intrigued at how two people with the same type of experience can choose entirely different routes based on how they interpret the event in question.  When you dissect a particular behavior, there is often a moment in time in  which a person made a rule, or an agreement, with themselves on how to move forward. For example, how many times as a child did you think, “When I grow up I’ll NEVER do ___” (fill in the blank here)…I’ll never drink. I’ll never publicly embarrass my children. I’ll never spank. I’ll never depend on anyone…the list could be anything. They are the rules you live by. They guide your future decisions and behavior.

I’ve been reading recently about a theory of how we interpret God based on our childhood experiences.  If you came from a home where there was little time for play or your parents were workaholics, you may feel that God is to big, to busy for your problems.  After all, he is the creator of the universe and tad bit on his plate…. If your parents were demanding, harsh, critical, you may feel that God is the same, punishing you for actions that do not line up to what you view as ‘good’.  If something doesn’t go your way, you instantly think God must be punishing you.  The problem is, our parents & grandparents are all human. They make mistakes. Lord knows that parenting is the hardest job on earth.  If we take one memory and affix that to the face of God, we are setting ourselves up for a life time of confusion and condemnation.

We started attending a non-denominational church a few years ago. Pastor Mike has a way of breaking down the Bible in ways that leave me utterly dumbfounded. In service, I often have those ‘light bulb’ moments and past events of my life suddenly fit into place. I find their meaning and/or purpose. One such time was when  Pastor Mike told the story of a little girl on the side of the pool. She is about three years old, still learning to swim.  Her dad is in the pool, chest deep. He calls to her, “Jump. Jump to me.” The little girl is scared. She doesn’t quite know if her daddy will catch her.  She thinks he will…but she knows it is deep and she knows she can’t swim well.  “Jump” he calls.  “I promise I’ll catch you. I’ll be right here. Trust me.” He continues to call to her, to plead with her to just try it once.  After much thought and twisting, the little girl takes a leap and lands, with a big splash, in her daddy’s arms.  He hugs her tight with a big smile and says, “see, I promise that I’ll always catch you!” It was then Pastor Mike broke down the lesson…He said, God is your heavenly father. He wants you to jump to him, to trust him. To let him help you swim through life.  How much does it break your heart when your child doesn’t trust you to catch them? To trust you not to let them fall or get hurt? How much do you think it breaks God’s heart when you do the same to him?

Light. Bulb. Moment.

So my question to you is, how do you see God? What unspoken rules or boundaries do you place on him? The truth is, if you really evaluate your belief system, you will see that you not only apply these rules, walls, or strongholds with God, you do the same with other relationships as well.  The rules you made, whether consciously or subconsciously, govern what you accept or reject.  They determine your future decisions.  Pieces and parts leak out and effect all of your relationships. Do you need to reevaluate those rules?  Where did they come from? What do they mean? Are they holding you back or moving you forward?  I’m on a mission to live my life to the fullest. To do so, you must breathe truth in those dark corners, sweep out the cobwebs  and have the strength to start again.  Forward progress. It is my goal.

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Refueled

8 Aug

lake jocasseeOur family starts dreaming about summer vacations early in the year…like right after the holidays.   We talk about all the cool places we’ve gone and where we would like to go next.  Very rarely do we go to the same place twice.  I’m kind of a  ‘been there, done that’  girl.  I’m the same way with books and movies. Once I’ve seen it, I’m moving on.  However this year we decided to do a repeat of our vacation last year.  We went back to Lake Jocassee.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

Lake Jocassee is pristine. It is nestled in the middle of a mountain range. The water is crisp and clear. Waterfalls are abundant.  It is simply beautiful, peaceful, devine. It is hard to believe this place is in South Carolina, but indeed it is.

There is something about being in the mountains that puts my spirit back in sync. Truth be told, it has been a year of growth for me.  Overall it has been good, but it has been equally as hard emotionally. I needed  time to relax and regroup.  I’m learning to listen to my needs (to even admit I have needs and that it is okay to have them, has been a challenge).  I allowed myself to focus on those for just a few days. It was nice! (To all my mommy friends…you should allow yourself to do this every now and again. It is GOOD for you! – Dr. Steen’s orders!)

I took the time to drink in the sounds of the morning, sipping my coffee in an adirondack chair before the rest of the Steens stirred.  Quietness is good for the soul. While boating, I soaked up some vitamin D, read a mindless magazine, and jumped in to cool off when the moment was right.  I watched our boys do their water sports. We ooohhh’ed and awwwhhh’ ed at their tricks…and laughed when they face planted. Honestly, we did! Our evenings consisted of sitting on the dock, letting our legs dangle down while we drank wine from a Dixie cup (not the littlest Steen of course).  We fed  the minnows their dinner (bread) for entertainment before heading back to the cabin for a round of cards or a tv movie. We were amazed to see the lighting bugs light up the forest beside us.  Kevin set up a campfire in the grill so Trenton and I could roast s’mores ….and then we ate them.

It.  Was.  Perfect.

Relaxed. Rejuvenated. Energized.

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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.

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.

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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