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

 

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We’ll Always Have NOLA

10422967_10153079154294845_1695749929289341744_nHow many of you can recall the best trip you’ve ever taken, right off the top of your head, no time to think, you just know what it is without hesitation? It’s probably a lot more difficult if you’ve been on a lot of trips, yes? Well, I haven’t so I know what mine is without having to think about it too hard.

The time my husband and I went to New Orleans for our 11th wedding anniversary. I didn’t post about it on my blog because I was a really bad blogger then – the kind of blogger that didn’t blog ; sadly, I don’t have a post that I can link back to in order to tell you about it. Most of our trip was catalogued on Facebook so I just took some brief screenshots and will post them here. I don’t even think the screenshots I took really cover the best parts of the trip, but another trait of a bad blogger is that I really don’t want to take the time to locate and (re)save the trillion photos I took just to share them here. Since I doubt anyone cares anyway, we’re just going to cut a few corners m’kay?

The best thing about it was that it was the first trip my husband and I ever got to take on our own. We spent a lot of time together, it was loud, fun & carefree, & everything we probably should have done early in our marriage, but were too busy being broke young parents to do.

I ate shrimp and grits, had my first beignet, saw tons of beautiful art & colorful city-life, heard fabulous (& some not-so-fabulous) street music, danced (badly), took a carriage ride, had the best Hurricane (#NotKatrina), saw Marie Laveau’s tombstone as well as Nicholas Cage’s very pretentious future resting place, stopped to watch some street performers, saw a show that was supposed to be burlesque and turned out not to be at all

I had my palm read for the first time ever in Jackson Square. Supposedly for free, but by the time she got done reading my husband’s palm, doing a tarot reading and telling us about our guardian angels…well, we were definitely hustled and I’m not even mad about it. I wish I could tell you exactly what that trip meant to me, but I believe it’s one of those things that can only be felt. I hope to go on many more trips & see a thousand places before I leave this earth, but if I don’t, at least we’ll always have NOLA.

Care to share your favorite trip? Have you been to New Orleans? What was your favorite thing there? Would you like to go? What would be your dream vacation?

 

What’s In Your Purse?

As you all know, a woman’s purse is a magical jungle of mystery with which she is often accused of “carrying around the kitchen sink,” or “carrying everything but the kitchen sink.” What’s this obsession with sinks, guys? Maybe you don’t like the pile of receipts, the business cards or the first aid kit we carry around in the deep, dark depths of our bags, but A.) it sure comes in handy when you need to return something, find a store you wanted to visit, but can’t remember the name of, or when you need a band-aid!  B.) It’s our shoulders & arms being weighed down so if we want to carry a diaper bag, 49 kinds of lip balm , a camera & enough water to supply a small developing country for a month, we can!

Today I’m going to show you the contents of my purse. I was hoping it would be like it usually is (with something ridiculous inside which has a great story) but it was surprisingly tame this time around.

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I would also like to point out that I’m not much of a purse person to be honest – I prefer wallets – but I’ve found one to be necessary and helpful since I’ve had kids. I’ve discovered I like small ones because I’m not a “kitchen sink” kind of girl & also because my purse usually ends up looking like a homemade cheerio bomb exploded in it & thus, it’s best not to give myself too much room to play with. I have two favorites: My denim purse which my really creative & talented friend, Taryn, made for me out of a favorite pair of my jeans, and this little Hogwarts purse, which when looking at it from the outside looks small and innocuous enough, but when you open it…

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My enormous wallet is hiding most of the mess, but I promise you it’s not pretty in there. Let’s see what we’ve got.

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  • Keys
  • Wallet > Inside the wallet > receipts, earbuds
  • Not Pictured because I forgot to include it in any of my collages is another set of earbuds that were just loose in my purse. I had to move a set off the side table to take all these pictures too. Count ’em – that’s 3 sets of earbuds. Clearly I have a problem.

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  • An old shopping list. I left it in my purse because this shopping list came out of the planner that I made & printed for myself and there were still blanks left to fill.
  • Tons of receipts. I hope I put all these in my Walmart Savings Catcher…
  • Two of my daughter’s book fair wish lists, some of which she received for Christmas this year

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  • Pills for energy, allergies, and headaches. What’s funny about this is that anyone who knows me knows I don’t take medicine of any kind unless it’s absolutely necessary. I can’t even stick to a vitamin regiment. I prefer a mostly holistic approach to health. The only one of these I would actually take (very rarely) is the Excedrin. Everything else was just stuff that my husband left in my car and I threw in my purse meaning to give back to him.

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  • A random glove. The only explanation I have for that is that I have a son, but he’s long since grown out of these gloves & we have no idea where the mate is, so I have no idea why it’s in my purse.
  • Cleaning cloth for my glasses (which are not on my face) & a shameless advertisement for Dr. Moore. I’m wearing my contacts today and my glasses are in the bedroom on my headboard. My case for my glasses is in a basket on the other side of the living room, & evidently the cleaning cloth lives in my purse. I feel like this is a metaphor for my life. All the pieces are within reach, but I do not have my stuff together. Lol

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  • An old lottery ticket. Again, not mine as I don’t play the lottery. The closest I get is scratching tickets that other people buy.
  • An old business card for the guy who used to do our taxes
  • An old Marathon gas card which I fear no longer has a balance, but instead of checking the balance like a reasonable human being, I randomly swipe it at the gas pump only for “please see attendant” to pop up on the screen, at which point I just pull out another card because I prefer not to see the attendant.
  • A bunch of other cards. Dog grooming, The Winey Winch (where I am going to go consume wine and paint one of these weekends), some other cards which weren’t important enough for me to retain the names of, a Winn-Dixie card, & a bunch of library cards.

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  • 57 pens, sharpie & a dry erase marker (?) in case I come across a white board I want to sign like a middle-schooler? I don’t know. “Beth Wuz Here X
  • A random piece of tissue paper
  • Allen wrenches, a piece of Trident which I bravely opened and pleasantly discovered is watermelon flavor, 11 cents, a 50 cent Euro piece (we have Euros all over the place we’ve been too lazy to collect in one place to exchange) and another random piece of tissue paper not even big enough for my kids to wipe a booger on.
  • A knife because sometimes you need to open a package, clean your nails, or cut someone.
  • Purell, because you’re gonna need to sanitize after you cut someone
  • Lip balm, because what kind of person would I be if I didn’t have lip balm in my purse?
  • Campho Phenique which I keep on me mostly because my husband is always buying and losing them. This way, I always know where one is if someone needs it.
  • Contact lens case #3. #1 is on my bathroom sink, #2 is in my toiletry bag and I keep one in my purse for emergencies so that if I have to take my contacts out for whatever reason they won’t dry out. However, this bit of logic does me absolutely no good considering I don’t have a small bottle of cleaning solution in my purse or my glasses. No preparedness girl scout patch for me. *sad face*

The contents of my purse was pretty lame this time around. Please tell me you can do better?! Entertain me with the contents of your own purses & comment below! At the most, we’ll both get a laugh and at the least you’ll have a clean purse. 🙂

 

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?

Guest Post: How Did This End Up Happening?

Happy Thursday All!

Today I’m sharing a post with you written by my former high school English teacher. She needed an outlet and I just so happen to have a blog that is being treated rather negligibly at the moment. Mostly, however, I’m sharing this with you because I can identify with her thoughts on finding normalcy in a life that isn’t necessarily “normal.” I’ll post more on that later, but for now say hello to MeLissa Hicks.


 

   HOW DID THIS END UP HAPPENING?

My parents were every fatalistic statistician’s dream. My mom got married exactly two months after her 16th birthday, and I was born exactly seven months and four days later (you do the math). It was 1968, and I guess there were only two choices: go somewhere and hide until you could give the baby up for adoption or get married. I’ve heard they were counseled both ways. I have never asked my mom if she was tempted to go the other way, but I don’t think she was. The point is I sometimes feel as if I grew up with my mother, and I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that. I don’t want you to think this is a sad story. It’s not; it’s a story of triumph through Lord knows what happens in a life.

I can’t remember a single time when my life was carefree. I had fun. There was childhood and play. I wasn’t deprived or physically abused, but I was not carefree. I have memories from a very young age, but many of them are times of turmoil. My father is an emotionally manipulative addict whose drug of choice has changed every ten years or so. I lived with that…that was my normal. This created a very co-dependent relationship between my parents that went on for twenty-five years before my mother finally escaped (which is another story altogether). Carefree was not in my vocabulary. My dad’s vices caused many issues that required me, at the age of seven, to grow up pretty fast if our lives had not already predisposed me to a propensity towards responsibility. That is the word: responsibility. My sister became my responsibility; my dad became my responsibility. All of this was because my mom had to go to school and then to work for a good long time. Looking back it seems like my father projected every serious event in our lives onto me. I realize now it was in order to manipulate the rest of the family, but at the time I was just overwhelmed by the hugeness of his personality and how much I loved my daddy. It’s funny how children love their parents no matter what when they are little. I wish all parents knew that and took that RESPONSIBILITY to heart. My dad didn’t. My life was good in many ways, but always responsible. I made good grades, I helped take care of my siblings, I got a job, and I did all the things that were expected of me. I was also a rotten, self-centered teenager in the process just like any other normal kid.

We were dirt poor in Georgia in the 1970’s and 80’s. Vintage was not cool and second hand clothes were not without consequences, but I survived. For some reason, I was tough, and after a year of bullying I found books. Then it didn’t matter anymore what anyone thought. I was in Turkey or England or some other exotic place doing other things that were totally beyond my reach. I was smart, and I liked school so my way should have been set. However, I became a statistic myself. I married right out of high school and had my first child at 19, five months after I married (math again).

Still I kept on keeping on. That marriage only lasted three years, and the first thing I did after I filed for divorce was register for college. Well, actually, I bought a truck first…then I registered for college. It took me five years, but I finished, and then went back to get not one, but two, advanced degrees. School had always been my happy place anyway, so I was suited to school and learning. A favorite teacher once wrote a recommendation for me, and I took a peak at it. She wrote that if one knew my family background they would be amazed at how far I had come. I realized that all the years I thought no one noticed the life I had, there were people who not only noticed, but cared deeply. Although I never saw it as amazing; I just saw it as living. Yet as I age, I see many others who grew up much like I did, and never overcame those statistics. So twenty years into a career I started five years after all my peers, I stop and ask myself, “How did this end up happening?” The road wasn’t smooth; it was curvy and twisted and sometimes torn slam up, but I just kept going and going until I got here. It’s been a pretty good journey.

My life is not perfect and it’s certainly not carefree, but it is well lived and I can be proud of that.


 

If you have a moment, leave her some thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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. 😉

This is Every Drop of Wisdom I Possess Summed Up in Two Sentences

Kids,
Before you marry a person, make them use a computer with a slow internet connection to see who they really are. This will be an accurate glimpse into your potential future & will help you make the right decision.

With all the love in the world,
Mom

The Golden Rule & Other Stuff

Hey y’all!

Earlier in the week I wrote about how comparison is the thief of joy. While I was writing, it inspired many other posts, but for today I just want to focus on one. One that I think it’s important for parents to consider: what does our treatment of ourselves teach our children?

I was talking about how I watched my mom struggle with her weight when it struck me that seeing and hearing her speak about herself in such an unfavorable way, as well as witnessing her just accept all the other BS that people somehow think it’s their right to chime in on, probably had a lot to do with how I viewed myself as an adolescent. Not that it was my mom’s fault or anything, but witnessing that sort of negative self-image at some point became the norm in my mind. That was how it was supposed to be. It made it okay, and even expected in some circles (like at school for example), that I shouldn’t see myself in a more positive light. Kinda like this:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VhCzRr9EwBk

I was under the complete misconception that a person with any sort of confidence was conceited & narcissistic because I learned, however inadvertently, that it was more accepted to put oneself down than to do the opposite. I think the thing that saved me from believing that lie all the way into adulthood is seeing how my mother treated other people for the most part. She was mostly kind, generous, caring, sweet, funny; these are the words that other people use when they describe her and they’re right. I got my example of how to respect others from my mom & that  lesson eventually integrated itself into a lesson on how we should treat ourselves as well.

I’ve heard my mom complain about how unattractive she felt and wish aloud that she were still little like she used to be. I watched people insult her, point out her flaws, hurt her feelings, and then claim they were being helpful. I’ve watched her go on diet after diet and work tirelessly to lose weight. I’ve watched her struggle with shopping and clothing choices. I’ve seen her sad, dejected and more than a little heartbroken. Throughout all that time when she was struggling to get thinner to meet some impossible standard, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I think all kids think their mom is the prettiest, but I knew mine was. It never mattered what size jeans she wore or how big her hair was (can we say Susan Lucci in the 80s!)…I always thought she looked gorgeous.

My mom has since lost a lot of weight – an accomplishment she should be very proud of, not because of the weight loss itself, but because of what that change has added to her life. She seems so much happier as a result. I’ve seen her flourish in spite of, or perhaps because of, difficult circumstances. I’ve observed her making many positive changes. No matter what she did though, people still came out from everywhere waving their opinions around as if she should care. “You’ve lost too much weight. You’re too little.” And before she was “too big.” There was always a lot of pressure placed on her to be what everyone else expected her to be. People would complain that she’s too sweet or too soft spoken (“too” everything) but let her get mad enough one time and it goes from “you’re too sweet” to “you’re batsh!t crazy” in .012549999 seconds. I said both of these things earlier, but it bears repeating…you can’t make everyone happy AND people should take their mama’s advice more often: if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your friggin’ mouth shut. Or in the words of my granddaddy, “don’t mess with stuff that doesn’t concern you.” I think that applies to speaking about things that don’t concern you as well.

I am so sick of hearing people talk about other people’s weight/personality/social status/(fill in the blank here). If you don’t like the way you look or anything else about your life that’s fine – change what you feel needs to be changed, but do it for yourself & not for everyone else, otherwise you’ll never really be content. There are two things I hope my readers take away from this post:

A.) while you’re making your changes, your kids are watching you and they are listening to you. Be mindful of that when you talk about yourself out loud. Your children are learning how to love from you and that includes learning how to love themselves. Be respectful, be positive as often as possible, be kind and actively practice loving yourself at all your different stages & pants sizes. Lead by example; be what you want your kids to be one day, speak how you want them speak, love how you want them to love, teach them to do hard things, teach them what to expect from others as far as love & respect are concerned & teach them to never accept less than that.

B.) If you don’t like something about someone or the way they choose to live their lives, that’s fine, but there is no need to be a complete jackass and voice that opinion out loud if it won’t serve any purpose greater than unleashing negative & poisonous thoughts into the world. It is not our place to judge. Worry about yourself and leave other people alone unless what they’re doing is genuinely dangerous to their life or the lives of their family. Your kids are watching how you treat people and one day they will treat others exactly the way you taught them to, rather than the way you told them to.

That is all. I shall abdicate my soap box now. 🙂

 

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.

Suck It Up, Buttercup; 1st Edition

I called this post the 1st Edition, but in actuality it’s the second. The first Suck It Up, Buttercup post can be found here. I didn’t realize these were going to be a series, but now I do so…there you are. In the second 1st edition of Suck It Up, I would like to talk about selfishness.

A certain degree of selfishness is required of most – if not all – of us in order to adequately and genuinely care for the needs & wellbeing of those around us. We have to take time for ourselves so that we feel well & balanced before we can give of ourselves to others without resentment. Sometimes, we just need to take care of ourselves, not so that anyone else can benefit from it, but just because WE NEED IT. The added bonus to that scenario is that others usually benefit from it anyway regardless of whether they were your motivation for caring for yourself or not. Win-win.

Selfishness becomes a problem when you are thinking ONLY of yourself and neglecting the needs of others; when you get so caught up in your own problems, needs, and wants that you forget about the hardships and desires of those you love. It’s an even bigger problem if you are totally aware that you’re neglecting these people and their needs and you don’t give a rat’s ass. That’s a nasty brand of narcissism if you ask me.

Your problems aren’t going to disappear just because you spend every waking moment thinking about how dysfunctional/terrible/depressing/strenuous etcetera, etcetera your life is. In fact, that kind of thinking will only make it worse. Suck it up, Buttercup. Ain’t nobody got time to be sittin’ around feeling sorry for themselves when there are babies to feed, bills to pay & all sorts of social, political and economic upsets in the world. You can only face one thing at a time so do what you can do today & then maybe you can do more tomorrow. All you have to do is try.

It’s really hard when you’re going through major life changes or you’re feeling like your world is falling apart around you and there’s nothing you can do about it, but the truth is that you’re in complete control of your present and your future. Even from up here on my soapbox, I need that reminder, too. I don’t post these things because I think I’m perfect and I’m not guilty of any of the things I talk about. I post it because I’m human & just as guilty of most of them as anyone is, but I’d rather check myself (& help someone else in the process) than to have someone else do it. Plus, I’m totally hoping my blog is still a thing when I die & that wordpress will create a feature that allows me to deliver posts to emails or cell phones in the future so that my children will think I’m haunting them with motherly advice and wisdom… 🙂

Want to hear another truth? (No? Suck it up or leave.)

Helping others might actually help you. It’ll damn sure be better than sitting around moping for your own circumstances. Being there for others gives us a sense of satisfaction and purpose that pining, moping & selfishness, quite frankly, will NEVER BRING YOU. EVER. Take time for yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling or do whatever you need to do, but not too much time. Don’t wallow in self-pity for too long. Don’t like your circumstances? Change them. There is always a way. It’ll be difficult and it won’t happen over night, but you can do it & when you do, it will be worth it.

In the meantime, spread some good karma and be there for someone important to you. If we all took time out to consider the fact that the universe doesn’t revolve around us & that there is always someone in worse shape and more desperate need than ourselves, maybe we would feel more fortunate and grateful for the things we have. Even if what you have isn’t much, focus on those things & share them with someone; chances are they won’t think so little of it.

I’m sick of the constant stream of redundant ‘poor, pitiful me’ posts on social networks. I get it, sometimes we all have to let it out, but most of the people constantly complaining about their circumstances are all complaint & no positive action. Additionally, several of these people have loved ones in their lives far worse off than they are with far more right to complain; they could be more supportive of those people & the hardships they’re facing. Take care of your relationships. Spend time with people you love because one day, they won’t be here for you to spend time with. Get over yourself and

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