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?

 

 

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

This Is My Unicorn & I’ll Ride It If I Want To

Day 4 of the challenge: I’m supposed to tell you guys about my dream job, which is really fun for me because I see absolutely no limitations here. It is called “dream” job for a reason, & as previously stated in another post, I do kinda struggle with what my calling is so while this is meant to just be silly, maybe it will also be informative. One can hope.

My dream job:

  • Has no official title meaning that I get to make up my own, which I will attempt to do when I finish making this impossible list of requirements
  • Allows me to hop around from field to field, project to project, doing exactly whatever I wake up in the mood to do that day: if I wake up in the mood to do yoga, my dream job would pay me for it! How awesome would it be to get paid to do something you’re planning on doing anyway? As an added bonus, it would give me a little extra push to master crow pose or spend all day doing spinal twists if I immediately got a return for my effort.
  • Likewise, if I wake up in the mood to paint…$$
  • or take pictures $$$
  • or have (another) HP marathon (or Supernatural, or read or…I’m sure you get where this is going)
  • My dream job would provide me with the company unicorn as my primary means of transportation & a wand with which to perform Patronus Charms as my primary means of communicating with HQ
  • My dream job would offer to compensate me via more tangible means than hugs and kisses for taking care of my kids and my house. Not that I need to be paid more than hugs and kisses for those things because they really are their own reward, but since I’m doing the whole maid/cook/nurse/taxi cab/dry cleaner/nutritionist/personal shopper/accountant/teacher/life-coach/counselor/DIYer thing…I wouldn’t be mad at a little extra compensation being tossed my way
  • Oh, and my dream job would also give me hazard pay for cleaning up vomit
  • My dream job would include massage therapy training. I’ve been interested in learning for a few years as it is an incredible tool for health and overall wellbeing. I am fascinated by the holistic approach to healing & it would definitely be something I would use in conjunction with yoga. Also, don’t you get tons of free massages while you’re in training? BONUS!
  • My dream job would allow me to set my own schedule & maybe even keep the unicorn on Saturdays.
  • I’d be able to have rainbow hair & not have to cover up my tattoos. I’m all for being courteous, but if I have to present myself as a Disney princess to work there, that kinda takes away some of the appeal

I have discovered through my silly process of trying to figure out what in the world my dream job would be that all I essentially want is freedom. Freedom to change my mind, freedom from monotony, freedom to dress & express myself as I see fit, freedom to set my own schedule and something I can do for a career that would also benefit the health and wellbeing of my family – the most important thing in the world to me – rather than just being something that gets the bills paid & sucks the life out of me. The sum of money I get paid for my dream job isn’t really important to me. It seems to me that just being able to do something fulfilling, helpful, active & different each day are my main requirements in a dream job. And – duh – having a company unicorn, of course.

I said I would try to name the job at the end of this post but it is (not shockingly) difficult to create a title for Mom, Wife (and all the other potential job titles encompassed in just those two small words), Painter, Photographer, Professional Harry Potter Marathoner, plus the holistic health stuff. I did my best though. My official Dream Job Title would be:

Head of The Holistic Department of Whimsical, Creative, & Domestic Services

Hours of Operation: If the unicorn is in, I’m on duty & available. If the unicorn is out I’m already working or I’m not studying you today.

If anybody has any ideas about what this job actually is in real life (minus the unicorn), let me know in the comments. I’m interested to know what you think I’d be suited for…like my own personal career assessment test. :p What’s your dream job? Hopefully it’s a bit more attainable than mine? Or better yet, it might be exponentially more awesome if it’s not. I’m excited to hear!

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.

Keep Calm &…Oh F*** It Part 3

In my blog post the other day I talked about changing your reaction to your kids, allowing them room to make mistakes, and just generally trying to sort out the reasoning behind things instead of just making harsh judgements based off your own assumptions. It brought to my attention to very reason why the suggestions people have given me in the past about how to deal with my ODD child will never work.

It’s because nearly every suggestion I’ve ever been given is based on the thinking that my child needs to change.

To a degree, that’s true. She has some behavioral issues that certainly need to be sorted out & some changes are going to need to be made on her part for that happen. However, there’s nothing I can do to force her to change. The decision has to be hers.

So what do you do in the meantime? You change yourself.

I know what some of you are thinking:

“So, you’re telling me that my child is the one with the problem, but I have to change?”

Yes. That is exactly what I’m telling you.

That’s where I messed up so frequently before & still do more often than I’d like. I dealt with her in ways that my other two children responded to rather than tailoring my response to what she needed or would be able to understand. I’ve had to make changes in the way I discipline her, talk to her, respond to her, and even in the ways that I love her.

Up until the past couple years or so I think my husband and I have used every method that we could think of to force her behavior and her attitude to change without changing anything about ourselves. My daughter and I didn’t understand each other or “speak each other’s language.” A person who is strong-willed is going to resist any change or action that they themselves didn’t come up with. It’s what they do…they resist, they challenge, they analyze, they go against the grain. That’s a really great thing if used correctly & I realize now that I don’t need to punish her for being such a strong, amazing, fearless person. She needs understanding and guidance more than she needs punishments & power-plays. Yes, there will be some negative consequences for both of us, but I’m finding the more I change my reaction to her, the more her behavior changes along with it. We don’t quite “get” each other yet, but we respect each other and that’s where understanding starts. 🙂

How do you respond when your kid is being particularly difficult? Do you blow up, stay calm, ground them, take things away, give them chores, give them some sort of multiple choice?? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

 

Random Acts Of Kindness

Over the last year, I’ve had a recurring revelation; I’m sick of scorecards. No, I’m not talking about sports. We need scorecards in sports because otherwise no one would ever hear the end of Peyton Manning’s 3-in-a-row touchdowns. I’m sure plenty of you hear enough about it as is, scorecard or not.

I’m talking about scorecards in our relationships. Spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, family, friends, coworkers…doesn’t matter what category the relationship falls into; the rules are still the same: someone does something for you – you owe them. Period. Right? Isn’t that generally how we approach things? Your coworker shares her lunch with you because you were in a hurry and forgot yours and you don’t get paid for another week. So what do you do? You, perhaps guiltily, accept her offer to share, but in your mind you’re thinking about what you can do for her to pay her back. Replace her lunch. Give her some money on payday. Give her your first born. Anything to erase the feeling of being indebted to someone because they showed you some kindness. Come on now…don’t you think that idea is a little flawed?

I’m not saying never repay anyone. I’m just saying there’s no reason to feel guilty or beholden simply because someone in your life made the choice to extend their hand to you. People have different perceptions of how scoring works and how many points to give for each act, as well as how much is adequate (or not) when they’re cashing in their points. How can this ever be an impartial, indisputable way to keep track of who owes who? (Who’s on first? What’s on second?! Sorry…couldn’t help myself.) You might think offering someone a meal is no big deal, while your friend thinks that sharing her food with you is on par with running into a burning building to save you or something. You might try to pay your friend back by offering her a meal the next time you approach a Wendy’s together, but she’s thinking she at least deserves an Olive Garden sized payback. See what happened here? You and your friend just scored her kindness differently. You gave your friend one point for sharing. She gave herself 10 points. So now you owe her. Your fast food is only getting you one point with her and you’re over there looking like a schmuck because you’re thinking the two of you are even now, but you still owe her 9 points & your firstborn son. And maybe an endless salad bowl and some breadsticks?Then, inevitably, over time, your friend has racked up some serious brownie points for herself and you’re still in the red because nothing you can do for her compares to everything she’s done for you, at least in her mind.

Pardon my candor (Divergent reference anyone?), but I think that’s bullshit. When you care about someone, you naturally & sincerely want to give to them. You want to share with them, help them, you care about their wellbeing. In a healthy, abiding relationship the score is never really balanced and you know what? No one effing cares. You know why? Because you’re supposed to do things for people out of kindness, and a desire to give & help. Not because you expect something in return. If you get something in return, great. Consider it a bonus. But don’t do anything with the deliberate & entitled thinking that this person is going to owe you & you’re going to collect one day. And most certainly don’t archive it just to pull it out & parade it around later when you’re disappointed with them. If you never expect anything, how can you ever be disappointed?

In my family, it works like this: If I’ve got it, you’ve got it and vise versa. Not to the point that we’re crippling or enabling each other of course; no one is abusing anyone’s personal boundaries or anything. It just means that we support each other in a healthy way, unconditionally. If my brother is hungry and I’ve got food, he’s welcome to it. And then later, if I need a tank of gas and he’s able to help me out he does. But neither one of us keeps track of who did what for whom or how much it costs. We all do so much for each other that it’s impossible to keep score and I wouldn’t want anyone to. To give without expectation is more fulfilling than to give with the hope that we’ll get our backs scratched. And when we learn to receive another individual’s sacrifice with genuine gratefulness rather than indebtedness, we honor the sincerity of it. I appreciate my family, particularly my mom & granddaddy, so much for raising me that way.

I still battle that feeling of indebtedness every day. Every single time someone outside my immediate family does something even the tiniest bit nice for me, I feel like I owe them. And then I want to kick myself in the face because I truly believe that’s no way to live life (it’s just a hard habit to break). If all my relationships are is a series of business-like exchanges where I’m sorely indebted to every person who’s nice to me, or spends time with me, then what’s the point in having relationships at all? Especially when you consider that you’ll likely never be even?

How can you repay your mother or your father for all the love & nurturing they gave you, or still give you? All the sacrifices they’ve made for you? You can’t. And most parents (the good ones anyway) don’t want you to. I know I want my kids to live full, happy, productive lives because I love them and I want the best for them. I just want them to live. Completely. Fearlessly. I’d like them to take every lesson I have to teach them & use it to their benefit to grow and ultimately become better people. The best way for them to pay me back is to bless the world with their kindness, their smiles, & their genuine hearts. I wouldn’t want them spending their lives feeling enslaved to the task of repaying a perceived “debt” to me when every sacrifice I’ve made has been one I’ve been more than happy to make. Why would anyone expect another person to view their kindness in this way? Like it’s a service you’re providing that you must be compensated for…EFF THAT.

Don’t hoard every thoughtful thing you do for someone in a vault, waiting to cash in on it, or brandish it like a sword to cut people with later when you’re hurting, angry, or feeling spiteful. People don’t need to have your benevolence flaunted in front of them every time you feel like they’ve slighted you somehow. They know what you do for them, not all of it, but for the most part they know. And I believe most people appreciate it greatly, but maybe the ways in which they show their appreciation don’t register for you because you’re keeping score differently than they are. So take the score out of the equation. If you’re being grossly undervalued or taken advantage of then either sprinkle a little tough love on the person(s) in question, or just remove yourself from that person’s life, but for the love of all that is holystop keeping score.

I hope that when I die it can honestly be said that I never used my kindness like a weapon against anyone. As far as I’m concerned, every single tally mark I’ve ever made for you or for me is wiped out of existence. This is one instance where I believe in participation trophies for everyone. 😉

Some Thoughts on Punctuality, Trash, Free Potatoes, & Twin Grandmothers

Today is a good day.

I (accidentally, but thankfully) slept in, the kids didn’t get to school TOO terribly late (they even had time for showers & pretzel sticks for breakfast!), & I cleaned up some trash on our road & in our yard (that was put there by coyotes, I just know it!) because I don’t do the trash-on-the-ground thing.

This is Ian Somerhalder being proud that I pick up trash.
This is Ian Somerhalder being proud that I pick up trash.

tumblr_n0q4aosoWV1rr54cto1_500I mailed some stuff. Visited my dad, & then I had lunch with my sister. I wasn’t going to go because I didn’t have the money to be perfectly honest, but I did because it’s my sister &…buttered potatoes…YUSS. 58Then, wouldn’t ya know…she paid for it because she’s awesome & also because I’m pretty sure the universe was looking out for me. Good karma got me some free buttered potatoes, y’all! I think I’ll pick up trash & agree to lunch even when I’m broke EVERYDAY. Maybe Karma will bring me Ian Somerhalder instead of trans fats next time? A girl can hope. (No, I don’t care that he’s married…his human can come, too, because I want to hug her.)

After lunch, I looked at some flowers, but I didn’t buy them because my bank account told me I couldn’t. I’m glad I stopped though because while I was flower-gazing, I saw my grandmother’s twin! My heart skipped a beat & I had to do a double take. I totally wanted to hug her, but I refrained because being committed to the crazy house would have ruined my good mood. I snuck a picture, but because I don’t want to completely disregard this poor woman’s privacy, I won’t post it here. If you’d like to see my ‘grandmother from another mother who isn’t mine’ just come over…I’ll break out the iPhone and show you. If you don’t know where I live, you don’t know me well enough to be asking questions about my grandmother; the real ethereal one or the physical fake one.

I also received a fortune from the Chinese place that said, “Borrow money from pessimists. They don’t expect it back.” That made me laugh. I then determined that pessimists are just people who are super kind, but are bitter about it. That made me laugh, too. It also made me think of my husband & father-in-law. They both have a large capacity for kindness, but they lace it with expletives. It’s a thing. You learn to love it.

Legendary-how-i-met-your-mother-33203140-500-500It’s not even 2 pm in Georgia yet & I already I’ve had such a lovely day. It would have been easy for me to wake up with an attitude and write the whole day off, because when you oversleep and get your kids to school late, that doesn’t exactly scream “LEGENDARY DAY!” But it’s much more enjoyable to just find the little blessings in everything.

Just goes to show…it truly is all about your perspective.

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Why I Won’t Stab You With A Fork For The Last Piece Of Fried Chicken

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This photo warms my heart. 🙂 These people are definitely on to something. In a way, this reminds me of my family. Everybody has their dysfunctions in life, but sharing has never been one of ours. Our belief is this:

“If I’ve got it, you have it. If you’ve got it, I have it. If neither of us has it we don’t need it.”

One thing I’ve noticed that we share more than anything else is food. Makes sense, right? Food sustains us, but it also brings us together. Every time someone comes over, the first thing we do is ask them if they’re hungry or planning to stay for supper. I am not even kidding you…my family can vouch for this. You better think twice before you come to my house if you’re on any sort of diet, lol.

“Go get something to eat! Everything’s deep fried and delicious! You’re on a diet? Oh….well take a diet vacation, this is some good food!”

I’ve been thinking about this lately & it makes me realize how incredibly blessed we are. Even when our refrigerator, freezer &/or pantry has been nearly empty, we still find a way to throw something delicious edible together. We may have ten or more extra people at our house; we still share. And you know what? We never truly run out. We laugh, we enjoy each others company, we get annoyed with each other, we disagree, we hug, we love each other, we give without a second thought & we do all this while shoveling food in our mouths. 😉

It always seems to be just enough or, as is most often the case, more than enough.

This is worth celebrating to me because so many people are going without, and for no reason because there is more than enough to go around! Why are we not sharing it?!

My family and I are not rich by any means and most of the time, after our bills are paid, my husband and I sit around wondering where we’re going to find the money for groceries. Despite the uncertainty, we still offer to share openly & willingly, without any hesitation whatsoever. Each time we do this, we manage to find a way to afford groceries or we refer to our aforementioned “if I’ve got it, you’ve got it” rule and everyone in the family contributes something until there’s enough to go around. Twice.

We always have enough for our family of five, not to mention the other four people that live in the house with us, the nearly constant flow of visitors, AND the 15 kids (give or take a few) we may likely have with us over any given weekend.

With so much greed & hatred infecting our entire way of life, I think a little sharing goes a long way. It doesn’t even have to be food. Share love, kindness, empathy, share a blanket…share a paper sack & a wish sandwich with a homeless man for all care, but share something with someone today. I promise you won’t run out; there is always enough to go around.

(Unless, of course, we’re talking about the last piece of chicken…all bets are off at this point. What? Don’t judge me. Titles & headlines were created to draw people in, not for their infallible accuracy.) 🙂

Why You Should Be Scared Of Your Wife (Or At Least Pretend To Be Occasionally)

Ladies, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there some sort of undocumented rule somewhere stating that husbands (boyfriends/significant others) are wise to retain some level of fear deference to their spouses? The same applies to the ladies in regard to the men of course, but we’re just going to focus on the one right now for simplicity’s sake.

I get the whole thing about mutual love and respect. I feel that my husband and I have that in most cases. What I’m talking about is, admittedly, a bit more petty than that..at least on the surface. Let me give you a real-life example:

image My husband is not always playful and lighthearted, but when he is, he  is dramatically so. I love when he’s playful and lighthearted. I don’t care so much for the “dramatically so” part. He doesn’t always know when to cease fire. For instance, he may get in a playful mood and put ice down my shirt or something silly like that. I laugh, I jokingly tell him he’s in for it and I repay him with two cubes of ice down his shirt. I feel like at this point, he’s gotten me, I’ve gotten him…it should be over, right? But no. He cannot accept this. He then feels that he must retaliate by putting three cubes of ice down my pants. It’s still rather humorous so I go with it and respond in kind. We both laugh. Then I notice that he might be laughing, but the look in his eye is starting to get a little more impish than it was before. You see where this is headed, right? It’s not just going to be “you got me, I got you, that was funny, now it’s over.” Now it’s a war. He needs to get me again and for everything I do to him he has to get me back twice as bad. Suddenly, it’s not fun anymore. Suddenly it’s not playful and lighthearted; it’s about who wins. Suddenly, he has a few small, nearly-dry wet spots on his clothing from where ice has melted on him and I’m standing in the kitchen, mad as a wet cat, drenched from head to toe while our dinner burns & he’s feeling triumphant as he’s holding the sprayer from the sink. And trust me, he ALWAYS wins because I’m not willing to deal with The Wrath of James Dean if he doesn’t.

I don’t want to see how uncomfortable his retaliation can get and I don’t want to see him hurt or angry so I generally give up before I help get him to this point. He does not give up before he gets me to that point. I get so angry that

A.) There’s nothing I can do to him that won’t get me something worse in return and/or

B.) There’s nothing I can do to him that actually has any effect short of junk punching him and I feel that’s a little extreme as revenge for a harmless prank.

Not to mention the (very trivial) fact that I’m a little a lot annoyed that I never get to win.

^ All that up there, while true, was my attempt at being amusing and flippant, because really, it’s supposed to be all in fun. Underneath the surface, however, there is a lot more to be revealed. Allow me to get a tiny bit serious for a second.

I honestly feel like when my husband starts something with me and I repay him for it, at least sometimes he should respond with “well, I deserved that” and let it be done. I’ll tell you why. Nobody can really claim to be the winner in that scenario, but when you push too much and upset someone, everybody loses. I don’t need to win so badly that I belittle or upset my spouse to do it. It makes me feel weak and inferior when I can’t seem to get any edge over him or have any effect on him at all. He just laughs at me or does something worse to me than I could even think about doing to him. If I blithely punch my husband as retaliation for tickling me or something equally harmless, (even if it doesn’t hurt) I don’t feel like his response 100% of the time should be laughter. Sometimes? Yeah, laugh at me…it’s funny that I’m a kitten pretending to be a tiger, I get it. But choose your moments.

Sometimes, guys, you should just let your girl win and make her think that punch to the back really hurt you at least a little bit because otherwise, you’re just slowly (unknowingly & – I know – unintentionally) beating down her self-esteem. And don’t make it obvious by abruptly falling to the ground if she pokes you in the chest with her index finger…that’s just insulting. You have to make her believe it. You have to let her know that she has an effect on you, she’s important to you and that your love and respect for her far outweighs your desire to always reign victorious. 

We get it. You’re the big, strong, masculine guy. You’re stronger than us. You’re probably faster than us. And a lot more adept at pranks, sports, shooting, manual labor, video games, gambling, grilling, navigating & beer pong. WE GET IT. We know you CAN win everything; that doesn’t mean you always have to. You don’t have to be a prick about it. In a world where girls & women are constantly told & shown how inferior they are (both to men and when compared to one another) we don’t need another reason to feel like we don’t measure up.

While I’m at it, it wouldn’t hurt you to point out things that she’s better at than you every now and then as well. Don’t just say, “you are strong and important” after she tells you that she doesn’t feel so. That just seems contrived and insincere. Back it up with an example. Give her a reason to believe you mean what you say. “I think you’re strong because ___________.” Fill in the blank. Don’t just tell her she’s a great wife or a good mother. Back it up with some sort of proof. “You’re an awesome mom because _______________.” Maybe she’s more patient than you are. Maybe she’s a large part of the reason your children are so respectful and compassionate. Maybe it’s because of her that they love to read or pray or retain some other positive trait that the world seems to be lacking these days. Tell her that. It’s a lot like being in a courtroom; the judge and jury aren’t going to believe your client is innocent just because you told them they are. They need evidence.

Your wife needs to feel that you’re sincere when you give her compliments like that. Believe me, I realize that in a man’s mind, “you’re so beautiful” is a great compliment and that they are being sincere most of the time. It IS a nice compliment and we appreciate it. You should keep doing that. But every now and then mix it up by backing up your claim with some sort of proof. Just because you feel genuine in saying it doesn’t mean your wife hears that in your voice or feels it for herself. In my personal opinion, since she’s the one you want to make believe it, you should put some effort into making her feel your sincerity as well. Try pinpointing specific things about her that you find beautiful next time and see how she responds to that; compare it to how she responds to the generalization of being beautiful & I bet you’ll see a difference.

And obviously, ladies, the same goes for you. I’m not just beating up the men because that isn’t my thing. You can take this advice and apply it where necessary in your relationship, too. I apologize in advance if I sound completely self-righteous. I just got fired up this morning & had to find a way to vent my frustration. I hope maybe it helps someone. At the very least, I got it off my chest.  :p

Now it’s your turn. Agree or disagree? Why?

Life On The Internet

My attention was recently drawn to a blog post by From The Pews.

Such a short, simple post had me contemplating this digital age we live in. It has given us so much. Technology & those who study/create it have provided the world with innovative tools for building/creating, healing, inventing, doing business, staying in touch with far-away friends & family, & even making new friends despite distance & other circumstances. It has afforded us new, sometimes easier ways to earn a living & support our loved ones. Blogging & YouTube are among the many tools people use to gain the notoriety which has led to some of those people being able to make ends meet without doing much more than sitting in front of a computer screen. We can thank YouTube for Justin Bieber.

0123-fish-split-bieber-1Speaking of Justin Bieber, that brings me to all the other undesirable things our digital age has bestowed upon us.

I realize we have to take the bad with the good (the ‘sh_t with the sugar’ if you ask my husband) and that makes perfect sense. But sometimes I wonder if the good we’re getting is worth the price we’re paying for it. For example, the internet is a largely dominant force in our modern society. Like…the most epic invention in the history of ever. But what has it cost us?

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With the internet came amazing things like instant access to information, the ability for anyone to contribute content from anywhere, and a constant flow of knowledge about nearly anything right at your fingertips. It birthed the idea of social media, digital books, tablets & smartphones. It also brought us some problems.

Such as: 1.) Instant access to information: now instant gratification is the norm causing many people to lack patience & the basic knowledge of how to find a book in a library when the internet is down. dc2e9cce912824d6093131b9501beadePeople don’t know what to do with themselves when there isn’t some form of technology close by. I’m guilty of it, too. We all look like this without a computer or a smartphone in our hands:

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For God’s sake, use your internet-free time wisely; go learn how to hunt or build something! We used to make steel in this country!

 

2.) The ability for anyone to contribute content from anywhere. True or false, good or bad, for better or worse.

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I thought you couldn’t put anything that wasn’t true on the internet?

 

3.) constant flow of knowledge about nearly anything right at your fingertips. You have access to a multitude of great education, sure, but you also have people searching for how to kill babies without getting caught & then leaving them in hot cars while sending explicit messages to minors. AND you don’t know if that is even what actually happened; all you know is what the internet told you & the internet has so many sources for telling us things that we can never know which things are actually legitimate and which aren’t. Luckily, there’s a great source that helps with that called snopes.com, but they can’t tackle every falsehood on the internet and they’re even bound to be wrong themselves a time or two.

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All those problems come with their own little subset of other problems.

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Now we don’t have to be stationary to be on the internet. We can tweet while walking down a busy street or at dinner with our families. We can upload videos and give minute by minute updates on what we’re doing, what other people are doing, where we are, etc. We ignore the people we’re with so that we can let everyone who isn’t with us know what they’re missing (which is usually nothing). We have to have documented proof that we were there, wherever “there” is at the time. Being a photographer, I’m guilty of it, too. I want to preserve memories. I don’t want to forget anything so I want to document everything. But, we’ve forgotten how to just be where we are. We are so concerned with chronicling every moment of our existence that we actually miss the most important part of it. The part where we’re actually living & participating in life & not just documenting it. You should tweet that. (I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. I want you to join me in something later, so if you tweet that, other people can join us. But it’s totally up to you. Watch the video & read on…)

I’m going to practice just being where I am and enjoying the moments I’m given without the constant distraction of phones or social media. I won’t succeed 100% of the time, but I am going to make a conscious effort to put my phone on silent & tuck it away when I’m visiting with friends &/or family or at the dinner table. To leave it off or silenced unless I need it when hiking, exercising, driving, etc. To do more during the day than just blog & type random words into google search bars just to see what weird things people are searching for. To exercise, to enjoy fresh air, to learn without google, to discover new hobbies, make new friends the old fashioned way…

may-your-life-someday-be-as-awesome-as-you-pretend-it-is-on-facebook-520x357The goal is simply to live more in the present. I hope you’ll join me. That doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t take a picture of a beautiful view, message a friend we never see or update our status when our kid does something hilarious…we’re just a making a more conscious effort to pick our phones up less & participate more with life than we do with Facebook. I don’t think that’s asking a lot. Maybe some of us can even learn how to use the Dewey Decimal System or read a paper map. 😉 Tweet &/or share to FB to let me know you’re in & hopefully others will jump in, too!

img_6297Maybe we can help make this sad – albeit humorous – photo a little less true. And no, that does not mean you have my permission to share a YouTube video of me dancing like a mentally-challenged string bean…unless you tag me in it.