Beginnings, Endings & How I Suck At Both

I struggle with beginnings. Sometimes I just don’t know how to greet my audience. Good morning? Hey! Dear Reader…sure, if I want to sound like an advice columnist.

Because I struggle with beginnings, I often choose to just jump right into a post. Welcome to Exhibit A, I’m glad you made it this far. This is the part where I tell you that I’ve totally tricked you as this post has little to do with my struggle in acceptable beginnings; once again, I changed my site name to 1BadBlogger for a reason. It’s actually about my on-going struggle with endings. You can pretty much click on any of these posts to see that completing things is an issue for me: try this one, or this one, or maybe visit here.  Those posts are from a 30 day blog challenge it took me approximately 60 days to complete, however that’s a huge improvement from never finishing things at all. Need more proof? Just try searching through my blog posts from the last couple of years and you’re sure to find a few where I’ve said I’m going to share or do something and then only partially followed through. I have an idea, I get excited, I do a few things with it & then, inevitably, I get to a point where I simply lose steam & the whole project shrivels up and quietly dies where it sits. I’ve been practicing seeing things through regardless of my current level of “steam” but as previously mentioned, it takes me twice as long as it’s supposed to. But hey – that’s progress!

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 9.49.52 AMAt the end of February I challenged myself to a 30 day Social Media Detox. I was going to spend the entire month of March avoiding Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat & Pinterest. The idea is to reconnect with people and the world around you by disconnecting, just a little, from the internet. I was told numerous times that it would be great for stress-relief, my anxiety levels would decrease significantly & I would, overall, be able to experience more real-life joy instead of worrying about trying to document everything for social media. I believe those things to be generally true, but specifically – for me – I was surprised by what happened. Clearly I didn’t make it the full 30 days because here I am on 29th day already summing up the experience for you, but in this case I’m not really upset that I didn’t see the challenge all the way through. If you’re curious, keep reading. If not, you’ve probably already closed the tab and this sentence is completely pointless.

Day 1 – It was hard to stay off Facebook in particular. Once, I even wanted to log in just to post a status about how hard it is not to log on to Facebook to post a status.

Day 2 – I failed. Already. I found myself feeling forced to log on to Facebook to post about a fundraiser the girls were having for school. It was fruitless and I should have just told them I posted to Facebook instead of actually doing it, but I have this annoying policy about trying not to lie to my children. I couldn’t even pull off the Santa thing for a whole 4 years. Or the Tooth-Fairy thing, or the Easter Bunny thing, or any of the commercialized, supposedly-magical, (or actually magical) things. The only thing I’ve successfully lied to them about (that I can think of at this current moment) is that boy babies come from Home Depot & girl babies come from their store of choice. (Girl babies started off at Wal-Mart and then I thought wait…why do girls have to come from Wal-Mart? Why can’t they come from Bath & Body Works, Sephora, a fancy shoe store, or I don’t know…Game Stop?) It’s a double standard, I know, because clearly I didn’t struggle with Home Depot as the birthing place for boys, but my only son loves Home Depot so it was an easy lie for him to swallow until he hit the age of 9. This is a rabbit I don’t need to chase right now, but maybe there’s a blog post on that in the future? No promises though; remember, I’m bad at finishing things. The point is that on day 2 I was already allowing my arm to be twisted into making exceptions on my 30 day detox. It’s a good thing I’m not addicted to anything more dangerous than an iPhone.

Day 3: I wanted to log onto Facebook to see if anyone responded to the post about the girls’ fundraiser, but I refrained. I thought Instagram was going to be the challenging one to stay away from but Facebook was clearly the biggest challenge.

Day 4: It was hard not to check Facebook in the mornings like I usually do. I had no trouble staying off everything else, but all it did was give me more time to play Candy Crush. I told myself I didn’t want to defeat the purpose of staying off social media by continuing to spend an inordinate amount of time on my phone so I deleted Candy Crush too.

Day 5: I reinstalled Candy Crush.

Day 6: My diary of notes that I was keeping on my phone tells me that I hadn’t noticed many positive effects of not using social media at this point. My husband was still sharing (mostly fake) Facebook news and stupid survey posts with me (“hey babe, this says my spirit animal is a bear.” Okay…) so the things I was really trying to get a break from, I was still exposed to even after actively trying to avoid them. Now I’m thinking day 6 was a little early to be expecting any benefits.

Days 7 – 14: On day 7 I was too busy getting ready for a trip home to worry about social media. I spent the day cleaning, packing and not really missing it at all. Day 8 was all driving home so no time for it then either. Days 9-12 were spent at home with family and that’s always a busy whirlwind of events which don’t give me time for much else, though I did log on to both Facebook and Instagram on day 9 to post an updated picture of my freshly-styled hair. I couldn’t NOT share this. 17201376_10154883514554845_625678593497360933_n

Day 13 was mostly driving back to Florida & crashing once I got home. Day 14 was getting the kids back to school & using the day to recuperate from the trip. Plus, I had insane hives; so many that my face swelled up to twice its normal size so Instagram selfies were out of the question. I was so annoyed that I did post a status on Facebook about it. I promptly closed Facebook out and didn’t visit or reply to any comments that day though.

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Days 15 – 18: were spent indoors hiding from world due to a red, swollen face that looked a lot like this: Stinging_hex_effect

It’s safe to say I was more interested in my bed and SOA on Netflix than I was in being sociable with anybody, but still – I did reply to a few comments on my previous Facebook post.

Day 19: I felt & looked a lot better by this time, but I didn’t make any notes on this day so I can’t remember exactly what we did. I checked my Facebook page and there are no posts or comments from me so I can only assume I successfully avoided it on this day. I do know that I had successfully avoid Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat completely. I didn’t even miss Twitter (because I never actively use it anyway) or Snapchat. Pinterest was harder because I wanted to search for house decorating ideas, but Google sufficed in that instance and I didn’t pin a thing. Success!

Day 20: I got several email notifications of having been tagged on Facebook. I did not succumb to the temptation to check them.

Day 21: This is where my Facebook and Instagram activity both go back to being used at least once a day. I had to share this lovely picture from the beach. I still wasn’t logging on to Twitter, Snapchat or Pinterest though.

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Days 22-29: I logged on to Facebook at least once daily (multiple times on the 24th-today, the 29th) and Instagram quite a bit. I had pretty much given up on the need to “detox” so much as just really limit my exposure. If I caught myself scrolling mindlessly I would check myself and close the apps out to go do something productive.

The final result of the detox:

As you can clearly see, I technically failed, but I can honestly say I’m not disappointed about the experience at all. I didn’t go a full 30 days completely avoiding all social media – and maybe my results would have been different if I had – but here is what I noticed in a nutshell:

It did not decrease my anxiety or stress because none of that stuff was coming from social media. If anything, the use of social media (in appropriate amounts) really helps me with those things.

The vast majority of the people I follow share funny, inspiring, wonderful things that really uplift me. I try to do the same with my posts. It didn’t free up anymore time than usual because all I did was fill that time with Candy Crush & internally cussing out Licorice Larry (pathetic, I know). As long as I’m not spending an inordinate amount of time on it and overloading, I feel great. I accomplish what I need to during the day, I sleep enough at night, I have time to exercise, I have time for my family, I have time to write…social media isn’t taking away from any of that. It used to a few years ago, but I have actively been trying to correct that and I can see now that I’ve done a pretty good job. I’ve learned how to use it in small doses that have more of a positive impact than a negative one. Social media isn’t the problem; it’s how much time you actually spend on it and the quality of that time when you do. If you’re always reading someone’s drama, sharing sad stuff, using it to avoid your real life, finding yourself annoyed or depressed, or comparing your life to someone else’s life then of course it’s going to be kind of a crappy experience for you. So don’t use it that way!

If you want the longer, more detailed novel-like explanation that I wrote before I wrote the “in a nutshell version” here it is (just because I can’t stomach having written all that stuff and then just deleting it). Otherwise, feel free to skip to the section in bold at the bottom as I know you have way more important things to do than stay here and read my (redundant) babbling. 🙂

People told me I would experience a decrease in stress and anxiety, I’d find myself with more free time, spending more time with my family, etc.; all great things, obviously.  What I noticed was that I already do a lot of those things. I already spend A LOT of time with my family and when I am actively spending time with them the desire to check Facebook or be on my phone isn’t really there at all. I easily avoided taking phone calls when I was having conversations with my husband. On several of those days I took forever to respond to texts because I was too busy talking to my hubs or my kids, or driving, or any number of other things. We visited Georgia, we did household chores together, we went walking, riding bikes, we went to the beach, we went to the pool several of those days. Each time, I posted a photo or two (in one case an album with more than 5 photos) and then I logged off, OR I waited until we were home and the kids were cleaning up or otherwise engaged to post. The point is that I realized I don’t spend a lot of time on my phone when I’m actively engaged in activities with my family. I already try to be as present as possible in those scenarios and I discovered that the time I spend on Facebook or social media is usually what I would consider my free time anyway. I may use Facebook during the day when the kids are at school to procrastinate washing dishes, but I don’t neglect my family in favor of scrolling, liking, or seeing how many surveys or “name-tests” I can take.

I also noticed that my anxiety doesn’t come from being on Facebook. I don’t socialize very much with people who share things that make me feel annoyed, sad, or just generally bad after having read it. I promptly delete or simply unfollow those people once I recognize that as a pattern. (There’s a difference in sharing the occasional rant, bad mood, sad news, vent, etc. and doing it all the time.) If I notice that I regularly feel bad after spending time with a certain person I either cut that person out of my life or, if it’s someone I can’t really cut out due to family relations or other deep ties with them, I really limit my exposure to that person to decrease those negative feelings without completely cutting them out of the picture. Social media is meant to be fun & to keep you in contact with people you can’t regularly see or hang out with and that’s mostly how I’ve been using it. All you people complaining about the stupidity and drama in your lives: newsflash – you have complete control over that, especially online. If you don’t like it, change it.

I did this challenge because I felt like I needed a reset. Maybe I was getting back into a bad habit of using social media too much and that’s why I felt the need? I’m not really sure. I just know I heard a little voice tell me to take a break & I went with it. The only thing I really found out is that I need to delete my Twitter account & maybe my Snapchat, because I REALLY didn’t miss one and I barely missed the other. I haven’t logged on to either of them once in nearly a month, nor have I been tempted to. Facebook and Instagram is all I’m really interested in & I discovered that I do a pretty good job of managing my time on both of those. I didn’t need 30 days of social media detox from them because I find that using them is beneficial to me rather than the opposite, but like I said: if you find that is not the case for you, change it! Maybe a 30 day social media detox will be more successful for you than it was for me. Have you done it before? How did it go? What were your impressions during and after? Do you plan to do it in the future?

 

 

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If You Want To Change The World…

Dear Kids,

You are growing up in a crazy world. Sometimes it’s crazy beautiful and sometimes it’s just plain crazy. The difference is really all in your perspective. You will grow up hearing words  & phrases like “feminism,” “women’s rights,” “human rights,” “climate change,” “back the blue,” “black lives matter,” “all lives matter,” & proclamations of “let’s make America great again!” These things will mean something different to each person who says them. I won’t dive into all of that today, but there are a few things I want you to know about a few of these words which will permeate this part of your life & profoundly affect the way you experience & perceive the world around you.

ct-womens-march-national-pg-20170121Recently, there have been a series of marches and protests happening around the country, all for one cause or another, some peaceful and some not. You may have heard about it. Your kids – should you choose to have them –  may learn about it in school one day; this is your history in the making. For the rest of this post I’m just going to assume you’ll one day have a family of your own. If you decide not to, that’s okay, but to drive home my point, I’m totally going to use my future grandchildren. 😉 (If the word “children” doesn’t apply to you, maybe substitute nieces and nephews? I know how literal you 3 can be. *sigh*)

One day you will be faced with the responsibility that every generation before you has faced; the responsibility to enact positive change for the next generation. It might sound irrelevant to you when you consider how fortunate you already are and how much you already have. It might sound like a pretty big deal. It may sound almost unachievable for one person. So, how do you do it?

Do you make signs and march? Protest? Riot, rally in anger, preach in righteousness, fight…? Maybe you’ll feel like your voice is best heard in a group because how can just one person – or even two people – make a positive impact on any part of the world?

images-3I just want you to know you can & I’m going to tell you how. I don’t personally believe that real, effective change is brought about in crowds yelling, inciting anger, violence, fear, & hate. Or yet in silent, peaceful crowds carrying signs about love. It makes a statement, sure…but what kind of statement? Some people are just really good at making speeches or signs and can make you buy what they’re selling regardless of your own convictions. If you don’t do anything else I ever tell you, at least do this: know that you are only responsible for yourself. Learn what you can from history & verify it for yourself rather than taking other people at their word just because they can make it sound good. Evaluate the words and actions of others for yourself. Study. Watch. Listen. Get your own facts, your own references. Just as you take responsibility for yourself, let the ones around you take responsibility for themselves. Do not ever let another person dictate your beliefs for you. Make choices you can be proud of.

You can’t make anyone do anything. You cannot make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time so you need to be able to live with the choices you make. You probably won’t cause huge cooperations or groups of people to change their beliefs, or their approach no matter how many people you rally, especially if their main concern is the money they’re making. This is because real change is a personal responsibility rather than a global one. It starts small & ripples out slowly over time, affecting one person at a time beginning with yourself.

Change starts with you. It has a ripple effect in regard to what you teach your children; if you want to change the world, start with your world.

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Feminism is simply a belief in equality, yet our society has bastardized it and given it some incredibly negative connotations. What are women really saying when they walk around with their shirts off yelling about being ‘nasty women?’ How does this help? Are they really ‘taking back the power?’ Really think about that. What does that even mean? How does excluding certain women send the message ‘we are all equal.’ That, in my opinion, certainly doesn’t communicate anything reminiscent of equality. It is a contradiction to everything they claim to stand for. Your time would be better spent at home teaching your children the value of kindness, chivalry, self-respect; teaching them to set standards & boundaries for themselves so that they can make positive choices in their own lives, thus eventually rippling into the hearts and minds of others.

“Black Lives Matter.” Of course they do. “All Lives Matter.” Unequivocally. I find it abhorrent that after everything we’ve been through in this country, after everything generations before us have fought for, we still live in a time where this distinction is necessary. How can you change this? Not by blaming or segregating, but by teaching your children to choose their friends based on the content of their character and nothing else.

Climate Change. I believe it’s a thing; some do not. Your beliefs regarding its validity make little to no difference when you consider that there are things we could be doing to help preserve and protect our environment whether you believe in the effects of climate change or not. If we all recycled, used less energy or more solar energy, turned the water off while brushing our teeth, unplugged appliances we aren’t actively using, turned off the lights and the TV when we left the house (your dog doesn’t care about The View, I promise), put our trash in the trash can or a recycling bin instead of tossing it on the ground, etc. not only would you see a decrease in your bills, but you’d be helping to ensure the future of our planet. These small choices we make daily have the biggest impact. Teach your children to respect and care for their environment and your beliefs about climate change become irrelevant; you’re doing your part for the world you want your kids to inherit & you’re teaching them to do theirs. That’s all there is.

So, let me say it again:

Change starts with you. It has a ripple effect in regard to what you teach your children; if you want to change the world, start with your world.

16194956_1240064922755969_8824124583631119672_nNo amount of sign-holding, marching, yelling, fear-mongering or hate-speech will ever effect the kind of positive change people talk about wanting to see in the world. Nor do I  personally believe that tolerating and accepting everything & everyone is the appropriate response. I don’t tolerate racism, rapists, abusers or manipulators. I don’t tolerate people who would treat me as less than simply because of the color of my skin or my gender. I don’t tolerate people who mistreat my family and friends. Does that mean I’m going to go blow up a prison, get a group together to beat up someone I don’t like, or put on a mask and become a vigilante? Of course not (I’m not nearly as good a shot as the Green Arrow anyway). I won’t be burning down buildings because I don’t believe in the politics or ethics of that business or group of people; I’ll simply stop buying their product. I’ll never walk around topless yelling about my lack of rights and if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t do it in America where I HAVE RIGHTS (but that’s a different post). You’ll never find me disrupting traffic & stopping people from going to work just because I’m angry & want the people around me to feel angry, too.

you-teach-people-how-to-treat-you-quoteWhat I will do is make choices to ensure these types of people are as far removed from myself and my family as is within my power, & I will do my best to teach you – my children – what it means to be people of character & integrity.  I will teach you to walk away from people & situations which make you feel inferior. I will teach you to choose your friends wisely, to sit with the lonely kids at lunch, to offer help to those in need, to get outside your comfort zone & not to place ridiculous standards or restrictions on yourself. I will teach you about humility. I will teach you about respect, both for yourself and others. I will teach you to apologize when you should & how to recognize when there is nothing to apologize for. I will teach you to work hard, to earn rather than expect. I will teach you to lead by example, & even, sometimes, to follow. I will teach you to share, to give freely, to speak kindly, & love fiercely.

You are not sheeple & you do not have to flow with the status quo; you always have a choice. You have a miraculous gift, both common to all people & still uniquely individual: it’s called a brain. Use it.

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Not to sound like a cliche’ or anything, but…

Love,

Mom – xoxo

 

Hey There, Tar Baby!

I have to be honest, y’all: this blog challenge is feeling pretty stupid to me right about now, but I’m just plugging on because I mentioned in an earlier post that I probably wouldn’t even finish it & now I feel personally challenged to prove myself wrong. Today’s challenge is to talk about my favorite childhood book.

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I’m pretty sure this is the origin of my distaste for  ill-mannered morons.

I chose The Tales of Br’er Rabbit by Uncle Remus (who is actually fictional for those of you who thought he was a real person). Specifically Br’er Rabbit & The Tar Baby; it’s my favorite because my Granddaddy used to tell me this story all the time. He was so animated about it and I loved listening to him. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I tried to immolate the way he told the story & as a result, there’s a rather embarrassing video floating around of me telling it. Thankfully, there was no social media then. 🙂

 

Are you familiar with the story?

Where did you first hear/read it?

What’s your favorite childhood story?

Sorry, I Got Nothin’

My challenge for today was to write about my ten favorite foods, but this is not a topic I care to write about, nor one I think people give a damn about. I’m feeling pretty cynical today. My girls brought home their report cards & well…the report wasn’t so good. It’s just got me down and honestly, feeling kinda throat-punchy. So for today, I have nothing to give you. No funnies, no sarcasm, no small chicken nuggets of death wisdom.

But in the (debatably) wise words of Dean Winchester…

Strike out GED, replace with High School Diploma, add something about pie and we’ll call this #ChallengeComplete.

5 Things I Should Adult About

Day 8 for the blogging challenge is a little late because today has been a long day. I don’t anticipate this being a long post; I’m currently quite a sleepy blogger. Today is all about my 5 current goals. All of my goals require me to Adult, with which I’m currently experiencing technical difficulties.

Listed in order of priority:

5.) Getting new items listed on Adopt-a-Dish. I want to create some new stuff this year. I want to write new stories for my pieces, make my Facebook page more interactive and engaging. In general, I simply want to have more fun with it. I’m not looking to get rich selling hand-painted dishes; I only want to wake up in the mornings and be able to say that I enjoy what I do.

4.) Make friends. We moved to Florida 6 months ago and I still don’t have friends here. At first, I didn’t see the point in making friends since our move was intended to be very temporary, but that’s what social media is for. Besides, I need a workout buddy. Someone who can help hold me accountable. Someone I can go have lunch with occasionally. I’ve been encouraging my kids to socialize and make friends so I’d be a hypocrite not to do the same myself.

*Note: I just want to point out that my not having friends here shouldn’t make you feel pangs of pity or anything. :p I don’t feel like I’m lacking anything; my life here is so full and wonderful. The main reason I haven’t made any friends here is because I haven’t tried to do so. I’ve been so busy with my own family, sight-seeing, and painting that going out to socialize just didn’t rank high on my list of priorities. I’m only wanting to make it a priority now because I know myself well enough to know that it could become a problem for me later and I don’t want that. I encourage my kids to get out of their comfort zones and build healthy relationships with different types of people, so they need to see me doing the same.

3.) Making health a priority/spending more time outdoors. This has been on my priority list for years and I’ve been making slow progress. I eat a ton more green things now than I used to, thank you very much. I do want to kick it up a notch this year though. I want to utilize the gym here in our community more. I used to go to a yoga class 2-3 times a week when we were in GA (before things got really hectic and I couldn’t anymore) so if I can fit it in our budget I’d like to do that again since there’s a studio close by. At the very least I’d like to accomplish the above goal so I have a (home) yoga buddy or gym partner. Maybe take my dog for more walks, visit the park more.

2.) Starting The Cuteness on a Brain Balance Program. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up; I believe it will be absolutely amazing for her, and us as a family.

And that leaves the main priority as:

1.) Determining what our more immediate future holds. Things may change dramatically for us in the next 6 months & I’m really struggling with deciding what shape those changes are going to take & how we’re going to navigate them. I need someone to pray that God miraculously makes us an adultier couple because we’re going to need the guidance of a beings far wiser than ourselves to make these decisions and see them through.

What are your 5 current goals? How close or far away are you to achieving those goals?

The Birth of ‘Truth or Darth’

Today I decided to share an excerpt from a post originally made on April 2nd, 2013. It made me giggle.

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The Birth of Truth or Darth:

I had no idea my kids even knew how to play truth or dare, but they kept it innocent so I went with it. “Truth or Dare!” “Dare.” “I dare you to eat those apple slices in five minutes!” <—-Mom is entirely okay with this.

At one point I even got an “I dare you to play Candy Crush on your phone!” I tried to be responsible and say that we were at the dinner table and I would not be playing games on my phone, but Princess Sassypants was adamant saying, “no, mommy, I double-dog-dare you!” I had to after that.

The Cuteness got in on the fun, too, when she looked at me and said, “truth or dare, mommy.”

Me: Truth.

The Cuteness: Try again.

(I had to giggle at that one.)

The Cuteness: Truth or dare?

Me: Truth. *for the second time.*

The Cuteness: *very seriously and with pronounced head-rolling* Try. Again. *Then she cracked a little smile because she’s incapable of holding a serious face for more than three seconds…*

Me: Truth.

The Cuteness: *getting exasperated now, but determined to get me to say what she wants me to say* Okay, Mommy – try again. *Small growl* (Yes, she growled at me a little.) Truth or Darth?

I have to admit, I was really impressed by the fact that she combined Truth and Dare into one word in an effort to try and trick me, so I had to humor her this time and pick darth. It didn’t work very well though because she didn’t know whether to ask me a truth question or dare me to drink my sweet tea so she just put her head in her little hands and mumbled about how “mommy doesn’t know how to play this game.”

Update: it’s January 2017 and I still don’t know how to play this game.

My Proudest Moment

30 Day Blogging Challenge, Day 5. If anyone is curious or wants to do it as well, this is the one I’m doing:

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I know it breaks some sort of rule not to have shared it on Day 1, but I wasn’t kidding about that “Bad Blogger” thing. #Rebel

As you can see, Day 5 is to share my proudest moment. I did not expect these challenges to be as…well…challenging. At first glance, you look at this list and you think “I could write about those things in my sleep.” Well so far, I’ve discovered that my blog didn’t have an appropriate name or tag line (until now), more people related to my silly facts about myself than I thought, I don’t have a favorite quote, I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life aside from what I’m already doing, & I struggled with picking my proudest moment, but after some deliberation I think I’ve got it.

It has to do with my family. Recently I was telling my husband about the kind, thoughtful choices our children made. The kids had some Christmas money they were itching to spend so I took them to spend half of it, with the stipulation that the other half was to be put away for savings. During the course of this shopping excursion, my son bought several things which he fully intended on sharing with his sisters. There was no arguing, no selfishness, no sense of ego behind it…it literally is simply the type of boy he is. He’s caring and thoughtful. He’s always been that way so – rather unfairly at times – I expect to see this sort of character from him. What is shocking is when he has his moments where he is not this way.

Not the case for my middle child, my oldest girl. If you know her, you know she’s super sweet, but also sassy as can be. She’s not quite as overtly & outwardly caring as my son is, (i.e. he wears his heart on his sleeve and she does not) but she has that potential & that’s not to say she isn’t compassionate; she absolutely is…she just mostly reserves that compassion for animals & really small babies. On this particular day she only had $10 to spend and she refused to spend any of it on herself until she got her aunt, her uncle, & both of her siblings something. This is really unusual behavior for her. She loves her siblings – don’t get me wrong – but she’s the one out of the three of them that would be most likely to say, “you have your own money; get your own stuff butthole” but then beat up anyone else who tried to speak to them that way. (I admit to feeling a mild sense of pride at that last part.)

She ended up spending $1 and some change on herself with the rest being allocated to what she picked for everyone else. It was a small act of kindness and yet it was so huge for her. She never has more than a couple dollars of her own money at any given time (though we give them plenty of chances to earn it) and yet, when she does get some, she spends the majority of it on others?! I enjoyed getting to witness that. However, that in itself isn’t the proud moment I chose.

The proud moment came when I was telling my husband about the events of the day and he said something to the effect of, “that’s all you babe. That’s you coming out of them. I didn’t do that. That’s happening because you’re doing a great job raising our kids.” I didn’t quite know how to process a compliment like that (from him specifically) so I don’t know that I responded appropriately. I remember saying “thanks” rather lamely. :/ I should work on my acceptance of compliments, clearly. But, it did mean a lot to me to hear him say that.

Side note: He compliments me all the time, but they’re mostly superficial compliments that, while nice, aren’t exactly in the habit of giving me the warm and fuzzies. When was the last time “nice ass” made you feel special? In James Dean Land, that’s a great compliment so I take it for what he means it to be, but for me personally, well…let’s just say it’s not my idea of a quality compliment. He tells me I’m beautiful. Again, really nice, but I’m usually looking for something a little deeper. This moment was that for me.

He went on about how he was gone through a lot of their early life & even after he got out of the military, how their manners & their character is all from what I’ve taught them. It kinda blew me away to be acknowledged and appreciated that way. Obviously, no parent expects to be praised for raising their kids, but when it happens it is so, so wonderful. It’s like being rewarded twice really, because seeing your kids act out things you’ve tried to teach them & watching them flourish into the amazing human beings you hoped they’d be is such a great affirming sight for any parent, but verbal affirmation is just as sweet. Especially when it came from my human. 🙂

Have you had a similar experience? What is your proudest moment? And just for fun, what is the sweetest thing your spouse thinks they’ve said to you vs. the sweetest thing they’ve actually said to you? How do you respond to compliments? Better than I do, I hope. :p

🎵 …Because I’m Happy 🎵

Today is a good day.
 • My best friend gave birth to a gorgeous little girl last night & I woke up to pictures of her happy family, which put a big smile on my face. Knowing that I’ll get to see them soon makes me even happier.
 • I had a parent-teacher conference this morning and I only cried a little bit. *winning!* I also curled my hair. *trying too hard* *also winning*
 • I have orders in my Etsy shop that are all painted & waiting to be shipped.
 • Our bills are paid. Our pantry, fridge & freezer are stocked. I have gas in my car & my radio still works. (Not that it was ever in danger of not working; I’m simply thankful for it.)
 Regardless of all I have to celebrate and be thankful for, some days I feel like I can barely function. I over-analyze my interactions with people, & feel guilt & embarrassment over things which the logical, rational side of me knows are ridiculous. I wonder why I said this or that thing, or why I didn’t say something. I often feel inadequate; I’m not enough or I’m not doing enough. I take responsibility for things that couldn’t possibly be my fault, but I bet you I can twist it in my brain until it is. I am not gracious with myself when I make mistakes, no matter how small.
 I say that to say this:
I’m still happy. I am SO happy because I have so much to be happy about! But often, it takes an intentional effort on my part. I don’t just wake up burping sunshine & farting rainbows. I have to count my blessings and remind myself daily of all I have to be grateful for. I have to intentionally think positive thoughts & say positive things. I have to surround myself with positive people, which is a bit more challenging than you might think. I have to practice yoga daily. I have to pray & ask for help. I have to watch what I eat & stay the heck away from caffeine! (Which, unfortunately since I paint coffee mugs I have a hard time doing – I have to test them, right? *wink wink*) I have to interact with people, go for walks & get outside even when I don’t want to…especially when I don’t want to.
 Sometimes I do a pretty great job, like today. Sometimes I fail and I let my irrational feelings swallow me. Sometimes I just fake it, for my benefit as much as anyone else’s.
 So, if you’re reading this, maybe you could remember it; consider it the next time you interact with “a happy person.” That person you’ve rarely seen without a smile on their face, the one you might go to for a laugh, for comfort, for sound advice…
Remember that sometimes they need someone, too. They may be sad, anxious or struggling in some way and they won’t always say it for of fear of embarrassment, shame, or just not wanting to burden anyone else. Sometimes they cover their struggle with a blanket of humor. Sometimes they don’t know what to say or how to say it. Sometimes there’s nothing they can attribute their sadness to & they just don’t want to hear “what do you have to be upset about? There are people everywhere who have it so much worse.” I promise you they know that already. You might think those people already know they are loved, needed and necessary in the world, but they don’t always. Sometimes they need to be reminded.
Today I challenge you –  first – to remind someone how necessary they are because you never know when they might need to hear it, & secondly, not to take anyone’s smile for granted; they may have done a lot of work to put it there.
 ….And…that’s all the word vomit I’ve got for you today folks!
 Now, I am going to go lend myself to something productive. Happy Tuesday everyone! Thanks for reading. Comment &/or share if you feel so inclined. 🙂

Thoughts…

I shared a guest post with you yesterday from MeLissa Hicks. I shared it because I can relate to it. Her sense of what was normal was different from everyone else’s perception of the term. I think we all have a different “normal.”

When I was younger I thought everybody had broken families; I had exactly two friends whose parents were still together when I was in high school and remain so to this day. I’ve seen my best friend’s parents dance in their living room to music that nobody else was listening to while their kids teased them about how “mushy” and “gross” they were. That is what is supposed to be normal, but to me it was strange and wonderful considering my parents (& most of my friends’ parents) were divorced & both remarried. My childhood normal was…tense…and you can bet I never saw any combination of my two sets of parents slow dancing in the living room like they actually loved each other. That sweet moment with my friend’s parents is one that has always stuck with me & I hope someday I’ll hear my kids complaining about how gross their dad and I are.

As tense as things were when I was a child, as I got older I began to notice and appreciate how close certain parts of my family are. I believe my mother’s side of the family in particular is how we got through a lot of heavy things. My granddaddy was there every single time my mom, his brothers, one of his grandchildren or anyone else he loved needed him. There was not a thing he owned that we couldn’t have also. My grandmother had the kindest soul & the sweetest spirit. She was also, sometimes unintentionally, the funniest person I knew. My mom is like the best parts of both of them. She is the strongest & most wonderful woman I’ve ever had the pleasure to know, and she raised my siblings and I to always love and care for each other no matter what. She has come literally halfway across the world to be with me when I needed her, and even when we don’t necessarily agree we respect & support each other. My family is very loving & supportive, so I was appalled to learn that not everyone is similarly blessed. I mean – don’t get me wrong – I suppose I always knew it, but I didn’t really let it sink in until I was an adult.

I have friends whose families disregard their very existence and won’t lift a finger to help them unless there is something in it for them. I don’t understand how families can be that way toward one another. I understand tough love, but what I’m talking about has nothing to do with love of any kind. Sadly, it’s more common than I’d like to believe and in this situation, I know my family is the odd one. I’ve had several people tell me they have never met another family like mine; so eager to help & lacking the usual squabbling & family drama that has come to be depressingly common in other families. We have our share of dysfunction, for sure, but my grandparents & great grandparents made sure our roots were so firmly planted that there isn’t anything in this world that could truly break us. I’m thankful for that.

It’s Okay To Be Emotional…Until It Isn’t

I’m going to be honest: I have no idea if Albert Einstein actually said that. I just thought it was appropriate for my blog today.


Surely you’ve heard people say, “it’s okay to cry” just as often as you’ve heard people – probably the same people – chastise their children for doing just that. So, when is it okay to display negative emotions? Because from where I’m standing, it seems as if it’s only okay to show them when you’re in a therapy session or at a funeral. Otherwise, suck it up, Buttercup! There’s nothing to be upset about.
 Actually…there’s nothing for you to be upset about. That person you’re talking to may feel entirely different, or maybe they’re experiencing some internal battle you know nothing about, which they can’t tell you about for fear of being judged, belittled, or embarrassed. It’s kind of an asshole move to tell someone when it’s okay for them to express how they feel or dictate how they should do so.

Someone asked me today why my youngest child is so emotional, and have I “gotten to the root cause of it?” The question threw me off a little. I actually said, “I’m not sure what you mean…” even though I did know exactly what she meant. It took me by surprise and I guess my brain just needed (more than) a moment to process, which I didn’t get and so I ended up giving a blundering, awkward response.

The more I think about it, the more I wish I had answered differently. I keep replaying my response (& the subsequent tears) over and over again in my head and the more I do, the more frustrated with myself I become. Why did I react that way and why did I give such a stupid reply?

 

It was an innocent question asked from a place of concern, but I felt oddly (& irrationally) attacked by it. I’ve never thought of The Cuteness as being “emotional” so much as she’s just intuitive and so very receptive to the world around her. She has such a pure, sweet, sensitive soul that I think even the smallest delights and cruelties in life affect her in the most profound – and sometimes puzzling – ways. I was told last year she had a high level of anxiety. Given our circumstances last year, I’m not surprised by that in the slightest, but then I thought about it a little more…

 

It wasn’t long before it struck me that my child is only 8 years old (and only 7 years old when I was told she rated very high for anxiety). Let that sink in a minute. She is only eight.
The Cuteness has the most vibrant, innocent, tender soul of anybody I’ve ever met. She expresses joy over the smallest things and it takes very little to make her happy. All she really needs is a lot of hugs, a puppy and some good music, and she’s the happiest girl you’ll ever meet. I call her my sunshine, because she really, really is. She radiates it like magic. 🙂 As generally happy as she is though, she’s the one that cries when she sees someone else crying, or a scene in a movie with someone hunting a deer, and especially when she sees a dead animal on the side of the road. She sheds quiet, melancholy tears every single time she hears the song “Burning House” on the radio…even as she’s singing along to it.

 

She has a mom who is overly-empathic & (I like to think) pretty intuitive myself, an authoritarian dad who is stern & rough (at least on the outside), and she lives in a world that forces children to grow up too quickly, to ‘know better’ too soon. She is a student in an educational system that is broken; too much is demanded of our kids (not to mention our teachers), much of which isn’t even developmentally appropriate. She tries so hard and she still struggles. On top of all that she’s supposed to somehow figure out how to appropriately navigate social situations, make friends, deal with bullies, which is another burden entirely when you consider that she’s being taught to defend herself at home & told not to at school. It would be overwhelming for anyone, but an 8 year old who already has a proclivity for being sensitive?

 

How could she NOT be emotional? How is an 8 year old equipped to handle all the millions of unique thoughts & incomprehensible feelings they have on a minute-to-minute basis? When you think of it this way, it sounds silly to even ask why one is ‘so emotional.’

 

I know there are tons of kids who come in and out of school, church, and everywhere else who have some much bigger issues they’re facing which cause a lot of baffling emotional and behavioral responses; what if they’re being neglected or abused? I get the need to ask questions, to find the root cause & I understand this is the sad reality of the world.

 

However, sometimes a kid – an adult, even – is just emotional because they’re designed that way & the world is often a brutal, unforgiving place…I don’t think it’s terribly strange to see a child react to that in a mournful sort of way. It’s tough to know “the right way” to respond in any given situation. Especially when you’re a ridiculously perceptive eight year old and you have a limited number of tools in your belt to deal with those perceptions. People have so many absurd expectations! Why does there have to be a cut & dry reason/answer for everything? Sometimes, it just is what it is.

 

Sorry, today was a ranty day I guess. If you read this, many thanks to you. 🙂 If you would like to chip in your two cents, I would be happy to hear it in the comments below. ❤