Side Effects Of The Pollyanna Principle


You out there that’s bummed out, this is for you.

Most of my life I have had a Pollyanna view of the world. This is the tendency to remember pleasant items more accurately than unpleasant ones. Certain personalities are more prone to looking at life through jolly lenses.

The word “Pollyanna” actually comes from a 1913 children’s book written by Eleanor H. Porter which was made famous by the popular Disney movie. A young girl, even after she experiences hard times, tries to always find something positive in every situation, using something she calls “the Glad Game.”

In the story, Pollyanna goes through a time in her life when it was a true struggle to be positive. She was unable to enjoy some things in her life that used to make her happy. Her light dimmed. Real problems and zero control to fix them.

Can’t we all relate to that?

Having this optimistic view of the world is a very rare thing to find as we get older. I still practice it, but it has adapted over the years as I’ve grown in wisdom.

There are side effects of the Pollyanna Principle when the positive perspective is placed in the wrong things. Plug in your own “thing.” My error was expecting too much from people who either did not have the ability to give what I expected or chose not to.

As a result, the side effects manifested can involve a very guarded heart, callousness, negativity, depression, anger and all other kinds of emotions.

The danger isn’t necessarily in the reality check of how this world and human nature operate, it’s in the pattern of how we react to it. After all, the Prince of this world isn’t the good guy. We can stay in a proverbial state of negativity very easily if we don’t actively change our mindset.

Let’s be honest here. The very people we would never think could do terrible evils, end up being people we are close to, are related to, those in positions that should know better or possibly, it even originates from within ourselves.

Never trust human nature. One can go through life with a positive perspective but only when we are equipped with a heavenly end goal. Otherwise, we will be disappointed on a daily basis.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

That old hymn can to mind this morning. As we grow up and learn where to place our trust, the bad stuff in this world doesn’t consume us as much anymore. That takes time, is a process, but makes complete and total sense.

We all need reminding of that. Your present icky situation is temporary and life can be viewed from a Pollyanna perspective again. As Pollyanna learned how her position on life has side effects and greatly impacted those around here, for better or for worse, it’s important that we adapt ourselves for those around us and for own own state of mind.

As a mother, I hope I’m successful in teaching my kids this valuable truth.

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Teacher Appreciation Ideas And Why You Should Do It NOW

Parents listen up! This one’s important and it’s a call to action.

I’ve done my fair share of school volunteering over the last several years and have seen firsthand what my children’s teachers do all day. In fact, anyone that spends enough time in a school environment should recognize the amount of time and energy that teachers invest into one’s kid.

You have the power to extinguish their resolve or throw gas on their fiery efforts. It’s your choice. Choose wisely.

I look back at my early college days and pat myself on the back for not proceeding with that Early Childhood Education degree. Why? It’s not my gift and I’m afraid I would have failed miserably. I can teach adults and handle large crowds but a classroom of KIDS? Seven plus hours a day? Five days a week? With decreasing funding? With a large percentage of parents either absent or absent yet complaining? Uh uh.

What can I do? Partner with those that are fabulous at it.

Through personal observation, I’ve learned that teaching, especially educating children, is a God-given GIFT and it’s not an easy job. However, I’m in absolute awe of how well they work their craft and how educators command the attention of multiple, sometimes as high as twenty plus, focus challenged, diverse personality filled younglings.

Pending no homeschooling, listen up parents! Your kids spend more time during the work week with their teachers than they do with you. Teachers are our partners in this thing we call parenthood. They are your village and the majority love your child fiercely and want them to succeed.

Now, I get that not all teachers are created equally and, like in any field, there may be a few bad eggs. What’s the big picture people? The majority of teachers are committed to advancing our children and encouraging them along the way. As a parent, I WANT to encourage my child’s teacher because of three reasons:

A) They desperately need it. Those that complain are the loudest. Those that don’t are generally silent and assume that teachers know how they feel. We have all been on the receiving end of lack of appreciation. It’s a devastating feeling. What do we remember folks? If a person receives 9 half-hearted compliments and 1 screaming negative, we remember the bad one.

B) They teach your child in ways you cannot. I’m owning it: I have little patience teaching my kids things they don’t particularly like and don’t catch on to quickly. Hats off to teachers that can. We need them.

C) Showing appreciation is a dying art: In a world where people are increasingly after number one only, make it a point to tell those people who are in your child’s circle of influence how thankful you are. An appreciated teacher makes for a healthier learning environment for your child.

If you feel motivated next week to do something to put a smile on a teacher’s face, then here are some ideas (don’t forget the support staff either…they make that school run).

10) Positive morning surprises: Bring your teacher’s favorite beverage to school one morning (Understandably, some may beg for a margarita machine…Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or coffee from your favorite Bread company should do the trick!)

9)  Turn in and sign all your kid’s forms on time: It REALLY makes their day.

8)  Ask what supplies he or she needs and send some with your kiddo (sharpies, expo markers, copy paper, etc.).

7)  Send out positive vibes on social media about how great the teacher or school is and tag a bunch of people.

6)  VOLUNTEER at the school. Regardless of your work schedule, there are ways it can be done (Count or organize something at home or ask for a day off in advance for a big event).

5)  Make it a point to find out their birthday and send something to celebrate (drink and a snack, Plug In Scent, cupcakes, iTunes gift card).

4)  E-mail the principle and brag on something that teacher did that either impressed you or something your child came home from school talking about.

3)  Be a constant resource. You get a letter saying the teacher needs supplies for a classroom project…make it priority and deliver results on time.

2)  Honor their wishes. It’s the teacher’s domain at school, not yours. Some teachers like parents in their rooms and others prefer to keep parents out to maintain order. Kids need to learn to grow up without mom or dad there looking over the teacher’s shoulder and they also need you present at school when requested.

1B) One more thing: Make educated arguments: You will encounter real issues in the education of your child, but in most cases, teachers want to help be part of the solution. Don’t alienate them prematurely. If a parent has little to no involvement at the school and chooses to complain, then that person has no business voicing a hasty opinion. Get your toosh up to that school, make time, get involved and witness what your child and the teacher do all day. I guarantee your perception will most likely be broadened.

1A) Constant praise and affirmation. Hand written notes and verbal compliments to your child’s teacher go a long way. Do it often and be genuine. You never know how bad that day has been for a teacher and the power you have to encourage his or her spirit.

Teachers are a large part of our village as parents and be assured you are in the minority if you choose to be a source of light for them. It makes for a healthier school environment for everyone and a happier soul for yourself. Choose to encourage and not tear down.

I challenge you! Be that difference this week!

 

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Coping With A Polarized Society


In the spirit of of bipartisan motherhood, I don’t intentionally impose my parenting preferences on others. A lot of you don’t either. That’s annoying, right? I mean, when has insulting someone’s choices and views ever REALLY resulted in positively winning someone over to your way of thinking? It doesn’t. That approach causes the opposite effect. Generally, one digs their heels in deeper and dusts off the boxing gloves.

When that doesn’t work, peer pressure and bullying come into play. Oh, and by the way, that tactic is obviously already here. Be ready. History repeats itself.

As a mom, having half a society go directly “in your face” against what I’m sweating and laboring for with my kids in my own home really turns “mama bear” up a few notches.

The same applies to most everything in life. The topic of the moment in our country: political preferences. I’m concerned the most about the ANGER and DISRESPECT that seems to be ever increasing on both sides of the aisle.

Eh, it is what it is. Such is life. Maybe you are fed up with the entire propaganda machine throwing negativity at you through news media, social media and the world at large. Frankly, it makes me devil horn grumpy. I don’t want to live with that mood swelling up inside me constantly.

So where do we put it? How do we deal? Is there a way to live peacefully with others that seem to intentionally antagonize and polarize?

  • If you want everyone to believe and act just like you, then NOPE.
  • If you expect everyone with differing views to just let you be because you don’t push your views on them, then NOPE.
  • If you move to a deserted island with no neighbors or internet signal, well then MAYBE.

If you stand for something, wrong or right, it comes with the territory: there will always be opposition. It’s the “all up in your face with the opposition” that skyrockets the “annoyed out of my gourds” meter.

I mean, look. I’m 40 years old. At this point, my belief system of right and wrong is pretty well set in stone. That isn’t going to change much. However, my empathy meter can be moved. I know what it’s like to hurt, to feel ostracized and be in the minority so I’ve learned to listen. In order to listen to someone, there should be dialogue, not what we are seeing today. Telling someone what they should believe is massively ineffective.

Seriously though, people can label, march in hate, protest in violence, badmouth, lie, express themselves all they want but, if the goal is to win others over to one’s way of thinking with this platform, then the effort is in vain. However, if the goal it to tick off half the people someone knows, then mission accomplished!

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.”

― Martin Luther

When I first began blogging months ago, I wanted to write for parenting magazines. I actually wrote for several last year and I was thoroughly enjoying it. That is, until the election landed upon written communication in the online parenting world.

What I witnessed transpire in the content of those subscriptions that I aspired to write for completely turned me off. One-sided, hateful, dishonest, vulgar even.

Let’s just say I checked several top publications off my bucket list. Ha! Even if I had an article or two accepted and seen my blog grow by the thousands, I would have been compromising my integrity and, to this day, have no interest being associated with all that. Maybe my writing would have never been accepted anyway or maybe they just completely missed out on awesomeness. Either way, my decision is made.

I’m rambling. Imagine that.

I guess if I’m answering my own question of how does one stay positive and attempt to live in harmony with all this polarization, I would have to say this: make some key choices.

  1. I can’t change someone and they can’t change me with anger and in your face tactics. Back it on up. Not going to work. Let people be.
  2. One only controls oneself. So pick a respectful platform in which to express yourself. Cut the negative posts out of your news feeds if they make your blood boil.
  3. If you lead a true faith-based perspective of life here, then you understand you will NEVER fit in with all your inner most perspectives exposed.
  4. Search oneself, commune with the Creator and ask for the assurance that what we believe and stand for is of eternal value and does it represent the real truth.

At the end of the day, I’m learning to cope with the negativity by redirecting my emotions, seeking truth for myself (not what media or man tells me) and trying my best to avoid the nastiness. Now, I have my moments, don’t get me wrong. No easy feat here.

I want my kids to be kind but wise. If I want them to be this way then I have got to at least make it a priority to TRY, right?

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Lose this balance, and you will be devoured by the world.

Food for thought. Finding balance: not easy but worth attempting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When The Holidays Aren’t So Jolly Part 2: Almost Tragedy

Why God allows untimely deaths and then intervenes to save others is a mystery. Our family has had our share of pain just like many of you, enduring the ramifications of untimely death.

However, I almost lost someone 21 years ago during the holidays and there isn’t a Christmas season that goes by that it doesn’t affect me.

I was a sophomore in college and had returned home for the holidays in my blue Chevy Corsica. That car had zero cool factor but, hey, it was free. The air was cool and the forecast was sunny. No clouds in the sky.

My mom and brother had just headed to town mid-morning and my dad and I remained at the house. The younger sibling was set to play in his first varsity basketball game that night so I think they had gone to town to shop for some kind of gear.

Not too many minutes after they had left, the phone rang. Dad answered. The conversation was short. That was nothing new. However, he hung up the phone abruptly and bolted for the back door, grabbing his car keys. “Let’s go NOW. Karen and Colby have been in a wreck. He has blood on his face.”

I grabbed a towel for the blood, my purse with ID and off we sped.

It’s always been interesting to me how the mind remembers stressful events. Maybe you can relate. When I recall the insanity of that day, I don’t always see memories through my own eyes. I remember angles of scenes that would have been impossible for me to have viewed from where I was. Maybe it was the trauma of the moment. Maybe my mind pieced together descriptions of what others had said happened. Regardless, I remember what I remember.

An elderly man had run a stop sign coming from their right transporting pigs (it’s farming country), my mom had seen him and tried to slam on brakes (correction: no time to brake…thanks mom) and took a hard left to minimize the impact. She had tried to outrun him. Never braking, he t-boned them directly into the passenger side where my brother was riding.

Based on final reports, their blue Ford Explorer had gone air born and flipped three times before landing in a person’s yard at the intersection.

My mind vividly remembers the following:

  • Dad opening his truck door and putting his left leg out of the vehicle while it was still moving
  • I saw the mangled up car first, still smoking, all windows imploded, wheels bent out, the passenger side almost completely caved in
  • My mother on her knees several feet from the car in a maroon (correction: GREEN…thanks mom) sweatshirt and jeans, bleeding from the side of her head
  • The elderly man alive, laying in the ditch beside the house with these huge hogs all over the place. Some were squealing and some were not.
  • My brother laying on his back with his knees up breathing irregularly in pain but alert and alive
  • The EMTs drawing a purple circle around his abdomen
  • He had a cut on his right ear that was bleeding. I took the towel I had brought and tried to cauterize it. The weird things we do.
  • Everybody loading up in ambulances and setting course for the hospital. That is, everybody EXCEPT FOR ME! I was seriously stranded. No car, no keys and I couldn’t very well hop onto one of those hogs now could I?
  • Some nice guy driving me to the hospital in his pickup truck. To this day, I don’t remember his name or much of the car ride. I think his last name was Ingram. It was a few days before Christmas so I’m sure he had better things to do. That kindness is still remembered and appreciated.
  • Mom fainting in the hospital hallway
  • Me having to be the one to tell all the people in the waiting room that my brother’s surgery had been successful at stopping the internal bleeding. I told them he was going to be okay. I didn’t know that for sure. I guess I said that for encouragement. I was so young. They all just stared.
  • Awkward! People stopped by to sing us Christmas songs in the waiting room. Literally, it was just me and two other people. It seemed to go on for hours. That was weird. Wouldn’t recommend that.
  • Mrs. Beverly Popwell and my friend Elizabeth driving me down to my house  in the dark to get clothes for everyone. They helped keep my spirits up.
  • In the ICU, my brother kept begging for a Sprite but he wasn’t allowed one yet. So, I kept telling him “I’ll go get you one right now” and then clicked the morphine pain pump. I may or may not have done that several times.
  • Also in the ICU, I was sitting with him and all of a sudden he started having these horrendous body convulsions so I urgently grabbed the nurse. She woke him up only to discover that he was being attacked by this rather large, grotesque spider that was trying to stab him with claw like arms. Got to love pain medicine.
  • I vowed to drop out of school to help take care of everybody but, of course, my parents wouldn’t hear of that
  • After returning to school, I couldn’t get ahold of my parents one day and I tracked them down at the hospital ER, with my brother back in for a recurrent bleed. I have mad PI skills.
  • That next year, my sorority sisters kept asking me to take trips with them and all I wanted to do was to go home and be with my family. They didn’t understand and I worried that they took it as rejection.

Sometimes when there are tragedies and, in this case, an almost tragedy, it can later be clearly seen how God moves and activates spiritual forces on our behalf.

Remember when I mentioned the passenger side was almost completely caved in? My brother had his seat belt on that day. For some unknown reason, the seat belt came unclasped on the second car flip, throwing him out of the car right before his side of the car was crushed on the third rotation.

Also, there were the right people present at the right time. His internal injuries garnished an 80% fatality rate. What happened to his liver and the hepatic artery that feeds it was like throwing a pancake off of a three-story building. Ker-splat. To top it off, the liver is a very porous organ and the bleeding was extensive.

Dr. Randy Nichols (we heart him) happened to come on shift around the time they arrived at the hospital. The previous attending physician wanted to wait to take him back to surgery. If Nichols had not shown up early that day and had not immediately taken him back to surgery to stop the bleeding, this story would not be a happy one. In fact, the doctor said forty-five more minutes of waiting and he would not have been able to save him.

I was messed up for a while. We all were. My brother went through so many ups, and mostly downs, those next several years. You don’t go through all that he went through and remain unaffected on many levels. But the bad times can grow you if we let them.

I had to forgive the hog farmer that ran the stop sign and who had continued to fail to yield even after the wreck.

Once I came to that point of reconciliation of forgiveness I’ll never forget what I heard spoken to me in my mind. “If he had died would you have still forgiven him then?” I began learning not to give too much credit to myself after that. No matter how much we advance our hearts, there will always be great room for improvement.

In conclusion, there is so much more to this story but the big picture is that we just were able to celebrate the holidays with my brother, his precious wife and their five month old baby boy. Memories that could have easily been taken from us if God had not intervened. As I said before, the mysteries of whose bodies are saved from untimely death and those that are not I think are understandings we may not grasp this side of heaven. Either way, it doesn’t mean we are loved any more or less.

Count your blessings. They can always be found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 11 Childhood Christmas Memories

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Like many of you, my childhood was full of innocent magic and intriguing wonder when it came to celebrating the holidays.  Our family tradition each year was to drive to my mom’s parents’ house in Huntsville, AL. It was “had to sleep on the couch” small but we loved it.

Ah, the memories. Here are eleven of the most random, funny, weird ones that come to mind when I think of our Christmas trips to north Alabama:

1) Our grandparents always making a point to stay up late waiting on us to arrive so that we could decorate the freshly cut tree with the tackiest silver tinsel and the most mismatched lights you could imagine. Also, our grandmother would gift us with a, fresh from the oven, sour cream pound cake on the kitchen counter upon our arrival. We made art and got fat. It was fabulous!

2) Our grandfather announcing his departure to his bedroom for the night and dropping his drawers in the doorway for all of us to see. It was funny until one Christmas he forgot that he wasn’t wearing underwear. Three words: saggy…white…buns.

3) Lots of UFO stories: My granddad had held distinguished positions within the Huntsville NASA location (seriously, he was a big deal) and my dad grew up in rural farming country. They had both seen some stuff. I mean, both of those combinations are recipes for little green alien material. They bonded. Good times. My brother and I love sci-fi as a direct result.

4) Once again…our grandfather waking up every morning before the sun came out, turning on his night-light that illuminated the entire living room (this was our bedroom – little house remember) and then turning up the TV volume so that it could be heard in every room. He was a “little” hard of hearing. My brother got the brunt of it though. His assigned couch was right next to the light AND the TV.

5) My brother and I waking up every hour to see if Santa had come. How Saint Nick ever snuck those gifts in unscathed by us I’ll never know. Once we discovered that we were, in fact, on the “Nice” list, we opened our stockings, harassed the entire family to wake up starting at 5:00am and counted our gifts over and over to make sure Santa was an equal opportunity gift giver. Interestingly enough, I don’t remember my early rising grandfather ever being up with us in the wee hours of Christmas morning. Oh the irony…

6) There was one December that I realized I was the favorite grandchild (sorry boys). I was the only granddaughter and my grandfather NEVER told me “no.” I asked for a whistle one Christmas and Santa didn’t deliver. Therefore, he drug me all over creation trying to find me one. Here’s a little secret: I really didn’t want the whistle. I told him it was okay. He felt so bad but all I really wanted to do was cruise the driveway in my plastic skates.

7) The “Dumb and Dumber” moment. One Christmas it snowed. My brother got so excited that he licked the ice on the car bumper and got his tongue stuck to it. Food didn’t taste so well to him that trip since he left half of his taste buds on the front of my grandmother’s Buick.

8) There was that one Christmas I spent in the ER (or at least in a doc in the box). I don’t remember the details but the ER sounds more exciting. I experienced respiratory distress and O2 deprivation due to asthma. Sporting purple lips and eyelids was a wakeup call. My grandparents smoked back then. Shortly thereafter, they quit. The favorite grandchild. Wink wink.

9) Ice skating! It was our tradition to attempt half turns, spins and backwards skating at least once every Christmas visit. One of us always went home with a bun bruise but it was so worth it.

10) Butterbeans: My grandfather sang this song “Just a bowl of butterbeans” and he would yell out to my grandmother from the living room to where she was in the kitchen. There was no “Hey honey. Can you please bring me my food?” Oh no. He would scream at the top of his lungs “Heyyyy Wooommm!” My quiet little grandmother who rarely spoke would annoyingly yell back, “Whhhattt?!” Hilarious. He always asked for more pepper after she had already smothered his food in it.

11) Opening up a boxed gift adorned with air holes from my Aunt. I had begged for a fur ball. She delivered alright!  That cat instantly jumped out of the box as soon as I released the handle. Let’s just say the cat was just as excited as I was because it was covered in POO! “Yay! A kitty!” I chased her down, picked her up and consequently got the poo all over ME. We both got baths. I fittingly named her “Brownie.”

So there you have it: eleven things that I remember about my childhood Christmases.

All of our Christmas memories had been in my grandparents’ little two bedroom home up until my college years when major life events altered our traditions. Remember to cherish your memories, cultivate new traditions and celebrate your own family’s personal brand of weirdness as we do.

And have a very Merry Christmas!

 

 

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When The Holidays Aren’t So Jolly: Tragedy

christmas-tragedyIf you live long enough, you will most likely experience the tough stuff of life that tends to come in waves around the holiday season. Is this by mere chance? Do we just notice depressing events more during a time centered around family and the birth of Jesus? Or, perhaps could it be a direct result of spiritual battles during the celebration of arguably the world’s most influential, historical event?

Christmas, and the holidays surrounding it, have been extraordinarily happy times for most of us. However, certain events do occur around this time that impact us the rest of our lives.

I have two. One ended in the finality of tragedy and one has a happy ending.

This post will be on the tragedy and a subsequent one will follow on the other.

(Please note: because specifics surrounding the family member found at the center of this story are very personal, I have chosen not to reveal certain details. I don’t feel they are mine to share in a public forum.)

It was early December eight years ago. My eldest was almost three, my daughter was six months old, Bailey the Geriatric Maltese was still with us as neurotic and separation anxiety filled as ever and the baby daddy and I were sleeping.

At midnight, the phone rang. Let’s be honest here. You know that’s never good. We both bolted right up in bed as my husband frantically answered the phone.

“Hello?” Quick pause that felt like an eternity. “She’s DEAD?!” Heavy, irregular breathing. “I’m on my way.”

We had just learned that our sister-in-law was gone. An avoidable, unnecessary tragedy that honestly, should never have happened. Within five minutes, my husband was out the door and there I sat in that king sized bed, the white fur ball fulfilling his constant companion role, my babies sleeping, and me frantically grasping at straws to answer the “Why?”.

My in-laws and her family had not heard from her and were obviously concerned. Her husband was out of town so my in laws had gone to her house to check on her. It’s there they had found her. She had been gone several hours.

As many understand that experience situations like this, you are forced to undergo a quick education in dealing with law enforcement, the coroner and the complicated dynamics of family relationships.

From there, my husband and his father drove several hours to inform her husband and bring him home. Her family began dealing with their own pain. Complicated relationships only got more complex. A normal human response to tragedy is to want to blame. I understood where they were coming from on some levels.

For me, I also had many unanswered questions and guilt. Could I have done something to help her? If I would have known her struggles then I would have spent more time with her, offered my ear, gone to meetings with her, become more of an active presence and engaged in frank dialogue.

She had been in the family long before me. At the time, I was unaware of factors that had been in play for years. Ignorant to the realities of her hell.

We were even in the same profession when it happened. I remember having to assist her manager and partner in getting her business dealings together and transferred. At least I felt helpful in some way. Her death rocked their team. They too, looking back, had seen signs but, like me, had not understood the bird’s eye view of the situation.

That Christmas was hard. It was incredibly sad. There was a void. As a mother, I still look at the Christmas decorations she had bought for my oldest the first two years of his life. By the way, I REALLY hope our new dog and my youngest don’t destroy those because it’s evidence that his Aunt loved him, her handwriting and all. In fact, one of the last pictures I have of her was holding my daughter. I caught her laughing while wiping a tear from her eye when she was in her arms. I get it now.

All she ever wanted was to become a mother and, sadly, that wasn’t in the cards for her, in this life anyway. Failed infertility treatments had succeeded in a pregnancy but also in an early miscarriage. I like to envision her surrounded by the children that belonged to her for those short weeks, finally fulfilled, finally at peace.

As a wife, I learned that my husband worked through grief very different than me. He wanted to be alone and that was okay. I’m sure what he and his parents saw that dreadful night are forever etched into a memory they wish could be erased.

Fortunately, time heals some of the freshest of wounds but I always think of her in December. There was some comfort and closure to one of my biggest questions at her visitation. As an action oriented personality, I felt I should have known and been able to help her in some way. I fully believed that I could have motivated her to kick her addictions and demons. Her counselor, as she walked through the visitation line, looked me directly in the eyes and said, “Honey, we knew, were equipped to help her but we were unsuccessful. She was not in a place where she wanted help and your words would have fallen on deaf ears.”

I guess I share all of this to warn how beautiful people can lose sight of their value, how we never know what people are dealing with, that the holidays are a time of great joy but also of great suffering and a call to open our eyes to the realities of invisible battles people close to us may be fighting.

I never understood while she was living why I couldn’t get close to her. Anybody that knows me gets that I covet the closeness of friendships. There was some closure knowing that it was never me but the circumstances of her struggles.

The positive for me of the whole terrible experience is that I know more to better educate my children on addiction and I know more about warning signs, possibly to identify others in need.

In this Christmas season, be aware of your own inner voices, feelings and influence. There is no where that ever proves anything other than God is a substitutable answer to problems.

Chose wisely, live with purpose, love hard and share this if you feel the words will be helpful to others in any way.

 

 

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What Are You Thankful For?

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It’s important to reflect and count our blessings. Feel free to do the same! This married mama of three is thankful for the following this Thanksgiving day:

T – Toys all over the floor (our home is lived in)

H – Hair detangler (for long-haired, drama prone daughters)

A – Answered prayers (son finally sleeps in his bed all night…he’s 10)

N – Nonvenemous critters (frogs, lizards and worms Oh My!)

K – Kisses (the ones you have to strategically plan for)

S – Spaghetti (the only non-fried meal all three of my kids will eat)

G – Girls giggling (and all things glitter)

I  – Inside voices (that my kids rarely use)

V – Victories during indoor family football (Daddy’s team always wins)

I  – Ice (for sweet tea, boo boos and those hot summer AND winter days)

N – New milestones (like no more diapers…oh wait, still buying Pulls Ups)

G – God’s generous blessings (all the things that money can’t buy, that we don’t deserve but He provides for us anyway)

Copy, paste, plug-in what you are thankful for, and share!

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours.

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Body After Baby

unknown-2My kids are absolutely worth every aspect of the body mutilation that took place to incubate, nourish and deliver them into this world. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. But for the majority of moms, our bodies pay a hefty price. To live with it or not to live with it. That was the question for me.

Could I have maybe hit the gym more, not gained those extra pounds and lathered up the skin in Vitamin E while knocked up? Sure. Would these things have prevented my abdominal muscles from going from a tight corset to a Buddha belly?

Nope.

You see, shortly after my third, and final, kid was born, I set a long-term goal for myself to get healthy and fit. I achieved many goals and they were hard-earned. Dead lifting over 200 pounds, climbing a rope, running a mile under seven minutes, increasing my borderline low thyroid levels and becoming the healthiest I had been since college to name a few.

However, after three years of high intensity cardio, weight training and healthy eating (most of the time) I sadly hit a wall of defeat last spring. As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, with solid muscle all over my body but the massacred mid section, I was forced to accept reality.

I had truly done everything that I could do naturally to fix something that I abhorred about my appearance and I knew could give me problems later in life. Three pregnancies and three c-sections tanked the tummy. It was quite depressing. I had failed at something that I should have been able to achieve. Or so I thought.

Why? The dreaded diagnosis of a severe Diastasis Recti.

By definition, Diastasis Recti, is a physical condition, that occurs, when the right and the left halves of the rectus abdominals, split apart, for whatever reason.
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Some women have a very mild separation of these muscles, of 2 finger widths or less, while others can suffer, 3, 4, or  even as large as a  5-10 finger separation.  One finger width is considered, average or “Normal.” Some women are fortunate and sport a six-pack after several pregnancies. I, unfortunately, ended up on the far right end of the scale with a 4-5 inch muscle separation that involved not only the outer muscles, but the deeper muscle layers as well. Upon physical evaluation, a hernia was diagnosed also.

How do you determine if you have a Diastasis Recti? The easiest way is to perform a self check by feeling above your naval while doing a mini crunch. Google it. Super easy.

This separation of the rectus abdominis muscle can cause an array of problems. Without the stabilization that the abdominal muscles normally provide, weakness in the abdominal wall can jeopardize trunk stability and mobility, contribute to back pain, compromise posture, pelvic floor dysfunctions, hernia and cosmetic defects. Back and/or pelvic pains are the most common manifestation of a Diastasis Recti.

To further add to my frustration, I read so many sites that claimed that this muscle separation could be fixed naturally with therapy. That obviously isn’t always the case. So, after attempting to rectify the problem through diet, exercise, special exercises and physical therapy, as I was staring into the bathroom mirror in defeat, I had one last option.

How do you fix a severe Diastatic Recti that remains unresponsive to all the above? Abdominoplasty.

Yep…plastic surgery. That’s the only way to fix a severe muscle separation.

Does insurance cover it? Nope. Well, it USED to be covered or at least partially covered with a hernia. However, as we all know about insurance companies, they will shut a good thing down if it isn’t cost-effective for the powers that be.

Does it hurt? Yes. An abdominoplasty is considered to be one of, or in some opinions, the worst cosmetic procedure as far as pain is considered.

How do you decide which doctor? You certainly do your research, read reviews, ask around, engage in frank conversation with those you know that have had the specific procedure performed, meet with all surgeons and choose the one that has impeccable attention to detail, unwavering commitment to safety and ease of quick post operative follow-up access. This isn’t a “do over” type of surgery. It’s imperative to get it right the first time.

After years of trying to fix it and failing, I decided that I couldn’t live with it. So, two weeks ago, I underwent abdominoplasty.

Am I advocating plastic surgery? Heck no. There are risks anytime you go under the knife.

Was my main reason to undergoing the surgery health or cosmetic? Let’s be real here. COSMETIC 70%. I already had some back and abdominal discomfort going on and wanted to avoid future complications also. It’s best to undergo this type of surgery while you are younger versus older for obvious reasons.

Am I glad that I did it? YES. It isn’t without sacrifice and discomfort. My experience, so far, has been a success.

As having children and becoming parents tend to crush those “Never ever will I” statements we proclaimed beforehand in ignorance, I plead the fifth on this one. However, so far, it’s been a good choice for my circumstances.

So, there you go. No complications and on the mend to a full recovery. The baby daddy was a God send, as well as special friends and family that were our lifeline the first post operative week.

I’ve had a few friends ask me to chronicle the journey. I may. But you won’t be getting any playboy before and after shots from me! It’s too personal. I mean, I share enough of my life on social media anyway.

Our bodies after babies are something us women come to terms with in our way and in our own time. Women should empathize and support one another more than we do. There’s much more commonality in our struggles than I think we realize.

In the grand scheme of life, this looks small and insignificant but it can be a lot bigger to the person going through it. Best of luck to anyone reading this going through similar circumstances.

xoxo

unknown-7

 

 

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This Is Ridunkulous

I’m laughing HYSTERICALLY in stitches one minute and then I’m slamming potatoes onto the counter top mid-meal prep screaming aloud “Do you people really think we are that stupid?” Apparently, they do and some are and I miss the days of my youth when we were gushing over with national pride. Come to think of it, I’m certain that pride was misplaced.

The state of our country, our world, is, well, RIDUNKULOUS.

unknown-7

For the past six months, I have thoroughly enjoyed putting fingers to keyboard and expressing the ups and downs of parenting through writing. It’s therapy and to date the journey has been a fabulous creative outlet.

However, I’ve found myself in a bit of a rut lately. What can I write about at the moment that is truly humorous? The problem is that I haven’t been very successful at finding the positive. Why? Like you, life has gotten especially busy, crowded even, and with all that’s transpiring in the world around us, well, enough said.

The good news is that I had a breakthrough today. I share it in hopes that it helps you.

So check this out…

The kids and I just got back home from taking my family lunch because they work themselves to death on the family farm each year to deliver a quality product. It’s rough guys. No joking about it. Like almost every other small business in this country, overhead is increasing at insane rates, laziness and apathy abound in workers, product ROI has declined and government regulations are at an all time high.

I feel so POSITIVE right now. I promise it gets better.

So back to the story.

The kids and I were in the car just now. I don’t have XM radio on the trashed family mobile so we are limited to radio or the one CD that my youngest hasn’t scratched or destroyed, Brittney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again.” (Those upbeat VBS ones were golden…sniff.)

I know, I KNOW. That’s so 1990’s or early 2000s…whenever that came out. Baby girl found it the other day stashed in a drawer, immediately began flicking her hair with coordinated hand motions, and then MY ELDEST SON jumped in singing right along with it too. Whateva! At least it’s not “I’m A Slave For You,” with the heavy breathing and all that wholesomeness.

Today, they passed on the CD (whoop) and then every single radio channel we clicked on simultaneously said something to the extent of “I wanna kiss you all over.” Sheesh! It’s a conspiracy to ruin all of our brains! Nothing on the local Christian radio channel. The song literally put me to sleep in 3.4 seconds. ZZZZZ

So, talk radio it is! Holy schnikes. Within a couple of minutes into the blurb about the latest and greatest political smear, the radio host described an in-depth sexual advance allegation and then the “P” word describing male genitalia. (insert annoyed emoji) Off the radio went.

So, I stand at a crossroad. I’m asking myself, “Why am I having such a difficult time finding the fun…the good?”

Ding ding! It just hit me. I’ve remained distracted for too long. As long as any outside form of communication is on, the negativity attempts to seduce us in. I have let it control me.

I’ve placed too high expectations on man and systems. The facts are just this: the corruption, the lies, the unwholesome garbage that gets bombarded our way each and every day is just that…TRASH. It’s an all out WAR to refocus on God, to live joyfully in the presence of such RIDUNKULOUS standards.

The bad stuff it just really bad right now and it WILL get worse. You can’t stop it. I can’t stop it. People of power don’t want to stop it.

It’ll take sheer determination, but here is what we CAN do:

#1: PRIORITIZE QUIETNESS

If I have to get up early and sit on my back porch smelling the dairy cows before daylight then I will. If the only quiet that I can muster is three minutes alone in my closet then I’ll make it happen.

I’m one of those that likes to know what goes on in the world. To face problems head on and not choose to live in an ignorant bubble. So, when I’ve had all that my heart and stomach can handle, then “off” it will all have to go.

#2: FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

I hate to break it to you with your options here but there are less than two. You do have complete control over ONE THING. Your soul. That’s it. You can’t 100% control your kids, your family, strangers and not even your own feelings and actions because they deceive us. Only you determine where you spend your existence outside of earthly confinements. No one, no government, no crisis controls that.  We have to make it count. Get it right.

#3: FIND THE GOOD IN OPPRESSION

Some of the very best GOOD that’s ever been done in this world came about because of the depravity of man: Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr., Horatio Stafford and little Anne Frank are those I think of.

Most know the messages her diary communicated, even long after her physical body became a victim to the very enemy she feared. Her words echo what a lot of us internalize and her circumstances were intensely dire.

“Why do I constantly dream and think about the worst things and just want to scream for fear? Because I still don’t have faith enough in God. He has given me so much that I certainly haven’t deserved, yet everyday I do so much wrong.”  Anne Frank December 29, 1943

I rarely ever learn life lessons from someone who proposes to know it all or those with a lofty countenance. Cliche statements on encouragement come across disingenuous. Her words teach.

Most of us haven’t even caught a glimpse of what this little girl was up against, yet she had those mature words to say.

It all reminds me that it’s human nature to get off track. Also, it’s imperative to refocus the thoughts…what I dwell on.

In conclusion, we can get beyond the junk out there, develop humility to accept the little control we really have and sincerely seek out the goodness that God so generously gives.

It’s a RINDUKULOUS world but we are only passing through it. It only controls me if I let it.

Anddd I think I can start today by burning some new CDs for those long rides in the family vehicle (and hide them from my destruction prone child).

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The One Thing NEVER To Say To A Friend

neversaytoafriend

Those of you wanting your children to be a better friend, this is for you.

For many of us, friends are like our backup catcher when life throws us a curveball and we are not properly positioned to maneuver what is thrown our way. Until the dust settles, and we are outside of the situation looking in, those closest to us serve as our lifeline to navigate through the harsh realities of unexpected heartache. Interestingly enough, it is during these difficult times that we discover where we stand with those that claim, or that we perceive, to be our closest friends.

As parents, we teach our children all the time, intentionally and unintentionally. Sometimes we score a home run and other times it’s an epic strike out. We take the life lessons we learn and use them to prepare their little hearts and minds the best we know how.

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curatedquotes.com

Friendship is one of those areas that has the potential to make or break their young adult years so there is a lot that needs to be taught.

We don’t want them to hurt like we did learning these lessons the tough way. We try to shield them, don’t we? Time heals but we never forget the way someone made us feel.

Case in point: try to take yourself back mentally to the worst predicaments of your life. Was is a job loss, divorce, death, bad decision or even the eternal scar of betrayal? Remember how you felt and hang on to that for a moment.

Regardless if the emotion felt was devastation, fight or flight, righteous indignation, shame or guilt, what we experience during these moments is very REAL and highly INTENSE. It doesn’t matter if they are rational or not either…perception is our reality.

It’s in these valleys that we need our friends. But how can you really know if someone is on your team?

havingtime.com
havingtime.com

Several years ago, I learned one of the absolute WORST things to say to a friend. I mean, I suppose it’s okay to say it if you don’t value the relationship that much. After all, we can’t be everything to all people.

One of the most crushing things to communicate to someone that will most likely TANK your valued friendship is to cause a person to presume that you aren’t emotionally invested in the deepest, darkest trials they face.

It’s communicated verbally and even in actions alone.

NEVER say “I don’t want to get involved.”

This six word statement speaks volumes about a person’s worth to you:

You ask for help but get the response, “I don’t want to get involved.”

Immediately, you may be justifying the words if you have spoken them before. I know I did. I have said that to people when I thought it was a situation that I could do nothing about and didn’t have the emotional energy to invest in.

But guess what? Would you ever tell your closest loved ones that you “don’t want to get involved?” Would you say this to your child that has just gotten severely bullied, a spouse that just got slapped with a terminal diagnosis or a lifelong friend that has just discovered his/her spouse has been cheating? Heck no! You’d be ALL IN because you are too emotionally involved with that person to EVER consider uttering those words.

If someone in your inner circle ever says to you “I don’t want to get involved,” it clearly communicates several things.

1) There is an absence of loyalty to you and your situation.

2) Personal interest or public perception of the individual is more important than actually engaging in your time of need.

3) This person is your acquaintance…NOT your devoted friend.

Bottom line: If life has thrown you into the trenches then your real friends will be right there beside you and, by the way, that could even be in the form of tough love. Regardless, the investment is something that can be felt and seen.

ptprophet.com
ptprophet.com

Betrayal and disappointment can forever scar the heart, mind and soul if we allow it. Also, it’s something that we can’t completely protect our babies from forever.  People are all flawed and we say and do things that wound one another. It hurts and is almost impossible to get over and let it go.

Although we can’t control how our children will be treated by others, we generally have their ear on how they should conduct themselves.

Loyalty is a trait that seems to be fading in our culture. As time ticks on, the bible is very clear that people will grow more and more selfish, becoming lovers of themselves.

As life lessons are generally learned under intense heartache, it seems fitting to teach our children how to react in those moments.

I want my children to be the kind of friends that don’t cause more harm to someone in a horrible place but to be loyal, wise and faithful in their relationships with those they care about.

To be wholeheartedly engaged and involved.

What are some other ways can we teach our kids about friendship??

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quotesforyou.com

 

 

 

 

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