Sunday, April 25, 2021

What Does it Mean to Be Mighty?


Lately, I have been thinking a lot. In truth, now that I am the only adult in the home, the quietness , though it is rarely ever quiet, leaves a lot of thinking time.

Tonight I sit by the white-orange logs in the firepit where the larger logs burn with a heat and mesmerizing chemical magic which fails for words. An artist would be able to capture it perhaps-an an artist's eye could determine whether the logs burn white or orange, but my untrained eyes, can't distinguish. It is both to me. 

A breeze is brushing the treetops and the stronger gusts bring a shower of maple seeds-helicopters- raining down on me. The moon is just the slightest smidgen shy of full.

It's been weird. A peace invades the house, my house, my castle. I do what I want when I want (as long as it involves kids). I sleep on the couch without excuses, my room smells, not of tobacco, but of cats and me. I don't resent anyone lying on the couch while I work, and I don't have the easy ability to slip out the door and into the car alone anymore. 

People irritate me. I try to explain my feelings-the joyous peace, the occasional crush of loneliness. Others say, "I could see. I could see you were hiding your pain. I knew you were unhappy." It is frustrating. Of course. It is so easy on the outside, isn't it? But I know me. I know my easy ability to wash away the pain, to forgive the past, to see what is so wonderful. Happy posts about flowers and candlelit baths were REAL. They weren't put on for show. The date night selfies were done in fun, not show. The companionship of sitting by the fire, watching a favorite tv show together, that was real. In truth, bad things are rarely bad all the time. If they were, they would end so much sooner. Bad, awful, hurtful things are interspersed with good moments, with laughter, with understanding,, and intimacies. People on the outside don't see that. They don't want to see that. They see the evil, the bad. The bad, I so easily forgot, I had to start keeping a diary to remember what had happened.

And that's fine. It isn't their burden. But it feels as if my cross to bear is the inability to be honest about the pain. About the loneliness. About how hard it is to be the only adult in the house-even when it is easier to not live with someone unstable and unhappy. Nothing is simple. And were people to come over, I would probably make polite conversation, and wait, and watch the clock, wanting my hours back to myself. Companionship is not to have any warm body, but to have the right warm body. Oh, don't get me wrong. There is noone on my mind. And that is difficult, too. My INFPness lives to dream of romance, to get lost in a crush, but there is no one now. Everyone I meet is married or young. And damn, if that isn't dull.

And I thought I could be so happy alone. My own bed. Noone to care that I am gross sometimes, or let the bathroom trash sit way too long. And I am. But my toes tickle for the touch of someone else-don't read into that-I don't have a toe fetish-, my toes are actually just tickling right now. They are propped on the edge of the firepit, probably falling asleep. And it is like some animal urgency, this desire to have someone. I don't really understand it. I am 47. I do not want more children. Why does my mind scan the world for a partner NOW? But alas, the world is made for couples, it is normal to want someone to do something with, I suppose. Restaurants, nights out, travel. The world was made for two.

And I make my stupid jokes, and then I worry that people pity me. And I do hate pity. I want to be adored and babied and yet, I want to be strong and admired. The truth is, even as I write these thoughts-it isn't so bad. I don't feel so sad. I don't cry. I worry. I worry so much about this person who is falling apart and won't let me help. I worry for my four year old who misses his dad. And I feel the sickening disgust that so many of my thoughts are financial. Am I really so cold and removed and calculating as that? Everything is filtered through loss and gain. And then I remind myself that idealism only goes so far. It is okay to think about practical matters. It is okay to fight for the best life possible. All those hurtful words thrown at me-cold, calculating- don't matter. If it is cold to want the best life and stability for my kids, then toss me in a glass of lemonade, because I do. If it is calculating to do what is within my power to keep my kids in a stable home, then I guess that is what I am. There is no shame in caring for their well-being. 

So to be mighty. What is that? Is it being honest and open? Is it carrying on in silence, striving towards the future with grim determination? Is it something in-between? 

According to the Century Dictionary, mighty means:

     Possessed of or endowed with might; having much ability, strength, or power; eminently         strong, powerful, or great: as, a mighty conqueror; a mighty intellect; a man mighty in         argument

I think to be mighty is being honest with oneself, doing the tasks for the sake of those who need me, and just letting the waves wash over and around me. If you don't fight reality, you don't sink. If you go with the flow, eventually the water will part around you, and you just rise and fall with the swell of waves. So I am mighty. I am sad. I am tender. Nostalgia is all around me in this sad house, and yet each morning, I wake up with a smile, and joy for how incredibly amazing this journey continues to be. I snuggle in my soft bed at night in peace, not with tears, but with a feeling of strength and pride. And as much as I long for people to understand exactly what I feel, I know they can only see what the filter of their own experience allows. I am mighty when I am sad, and I am mighty when I move forward. Mightiness doesn't dissipate because I am real and because I feel. Mightiness reigns because I move towards the future, because I know I will survive. There is no self-pity, no surrender. There is just determination to keep on going, to keep on feeling, to keep on pushing towards destiny and seeking God's purpose. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Quintessentially, Unapologetically Me

                                                 Arno Smit on Unsplash

I have been rather quiet on this blog lately. There are several reasons for that which I will get to in a moment. But first let me say, Hello! Spring is in bloom here in my neck of the woods and life is bursting out with vibrant color. This. is. heaven.

I have been quiet on this blog for several reasons. 

First, my personal life has crumbled down in the past six months, although the stirrings of trouble have been brewing for a few years. I don't want to get into the details, but all I will say is, it is hard to smile and give life advice when you feel guilt over not being able to fix everything in your own life. Now, granted, I realize I cannot be held responsible for everything wrong in a relationship, but I can't help but look at my failings and mistakes and how I might have contributed. But alas, I am my bestest friend, and I will forgive myself for my less than perfect motives. I just want a peaceful, happy life guys.

Second, a sort of authentic honesty has been bubbling up in my chest of late and dang it! it has to come out. Whilst I am writing blogs on being a leader and getting ahead, the truth is--I only ever just wanted a happy house and happy kids. I have failed domestically in so many ways.  One of the main issues is in today's modern world while of course you need to have a perfect kid and a perfect house, it shouldn't really be your focus, unless you are Today's Christian Woman or something. The fact that reading wardrobe planning and puttery decor tricks is how I love to spend my time is sort of shameful in the eyes of the modern female. How can I protest a world which essentially forces us to be men in mascara, without sounding like some aging luddite clinging to a world that has long past? How can I be my own frivolous self and still command respect? So I am on these fan pages for Sarah J Maas books and the hate that quiet, wallflower, homebody Elain (of the ACOTAR world) receives is strong. And as a quiet, wallflower homebody-that hurts me. I try to defend her without making myself a target (social media is brutal), but are we flower loving girly girls really such a waste of space? And how do I balance my need for spending Saturday nights in a bath drinking wine and reading makeup tips with the sometimes overwhelming feelings of jealousy and competition. I want to win. I don't care what it is, I want to be on top.  And thus, I have been trying to sort out exactly what I want to win. If it is queen of the wavy hair, then I want to accept that. Maybe I wasn't mean to be queen of the working world. But oh the shame! It is shameful to not be the best at anything-that is how I feel. So I have these conflicting desires. Do I want love or respect? Do I want to be cute or commanding? And I struggle with leading my readers with my thoughts, because I don't know how to be EVERYTHING.

So I am trying to sort it all out. How to be me, and how to please everyone, and how to be the very best at every possibility out there. So Yeah. That isn't going to work. 

So be patient with me. I am going to arrive at a higher place with a stronger sense of self by the end of this. I might not be the person I was trying to be, but I will be the best me I can be. 

And on that note--what are you chasing? Are your dreams and goals hijacked from someone else or are they truly yours? What four things are you working towards in your life? Are you putting your energy towards those goals, or are you falling down rabbit holes of borrowed dreams? 

And on another note-This video is everything to me: 

Why the Starks Always Get Betrayed

This is me! This is my failure! It was so cool to see my mistakes on the video. I have been expecting everyone to react to things like me. To have motivations like me. Then I end up feeling betrayed when I am...betrayed. But I wasn't careful; I opened the door, but I didn't have my eyes open. I am not advocating for deceit, but maybe a little discretion in some areas is best. I wish I had seen this years ago.

Why The Starks Always Get Betrayed

Saturday, January 23, 2021

You are Not a Winner


Or...maybe you are. I don't know your personal circumstances. I have been thinking a bit about what is is to have a motivational and success-inspired blog. Is it hitting the highlights? Spreading positivity, optimism, and lots of YOU CAN DO ITs!? Is it reading and dissecting business and personal growth books, which yes, I do love, and discovering ways to apply the tidbits to my own circumstances? Is it getting What I Want, When I Want, with no room for anything less than being all that and a bon bon on the side? 

The truth is, I love this blog. I love self-help, self-improvement, self-motivation...I guess I love self! But one thing I think we tend to forget in this world of positivity, lead-the-way, never yield, but be vulnerable and approachable, by golly, perfectionism, is that the top is is small and life is short.

The truth of the matter is, what you do and how you act, DO matter. It does have an impact on where you will go. But know what else determines that? Who you know and a good deal of luck. The truth is, there are probably more qualified people for the "top" than there are spaces. You could do everything right, and still not make it. You could make rookie mistakes and not make it. You could make rookie mistakes, but have a fantastic personality, a pretty/handsome face, and lots of luck, and get just what you want.

I am not saying this to lead you into despair. Life is too short for despair. "To despair is to turn your back on God," according to Marilla Cuthbert in the 1985 miniseries version of Anne of Green Gables. If you don't know either the miniseries or the books, you must, so here is a little more information: Anne of Green Gables Movie  and Anne of Green Gables books. 

Anyhoo, I am saying this to pull you away from the path of self-bullying, away from toxic positivity, away from win-or-die mindset and towards a deeper truth. We are spiritual beings. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be boss lady of your company and working like Hell to get it, that's not what it is all about. Unless this is your own personally written mission and you planned the company and/or are on board with the philosophy and outcome. Otherwise, it may very well be...a job. And yes, the thrill of victory, the excitement of seeing YOUR plans put into actions by others is quite satisfying. But there is a good chance, the great and powerful Oz, er I mean, God of our Universe, doesn't give a camel's backside (doesn't that make you think of a fabulous camel trenchcoat?), about what you do to earn your bread. What he wants is to see you growing and changing and learning. And he may fancy that "reject" down on the corner for the way they smile at the strangers who go by, or help the elderly load their groceries into the car, over your ability to wheel and deal. Or maybe, he loves them both equally, like all good parents, do...

So listen, go get yours...but if yours doesn't somehow materialize despite your best efforts, just's okay. 

There is so, so much more to this experience we are going through. 


Friday, January 8, 2021

On Serenity

We have all heard the serenity prayer, right?

I remember reading those words, probably at Hallmark, as a teenager, and being so inspired and awestruck at the wisdom they contained.  As a youngster you often don't know what you are going to face in life. Your demons to face, crosses to bear, and lessons to learn are still yet unrevealed. 

One of the major themes in my life appears to be The search for security and how fleeting and evasive it can be. Watching my mother struggle, I felt the weight that not having enough money can bring. After getting divorced in my  late 20s, I felt the challenge of single parenthood on a teensy tiny income. Now as a married adult, choices are made relying on someone else to hold up their part of the bargain.

And sometimes the rug is pulled out from under even as we are building dream castles in the air. I sit and remind myself to breathe. I remind myself that I am strong and I will endure and even thrive. I remind myself that my "if worse comes to worst" is still better than many, many people worldwide. 

Some things, even things which directly affect my life, are  outside of my control. What I can control now requires greater prudence, self-restraint, and wisdom than I have had to practice in recent years past. 

It isn't what I would have chosen, especially as the emotional aspect of this challenge tears my heart apart (I am exaggerating for dramatic effect-but there is a painful struggle). I don't know what the outcome will be. My sense of care, pity, and duty for one who is ill is strong. I ask myself, if this was cancer, would I turn my back so easily? But there is an element of choice at play here, and frustrated anger on my part that healthy protocols were not followed.

 My desire for security crashes over me in terrifying waves at times. 

And I breathe. And I pray for serenity, and courage, and wisdom. And I have faith they will come. My little toy box might be overturned, dreams scattered. But from the part and pieces a new game will emerge, and it may be different, but it will be as God has planned for me. And I will thrive.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

How Short Time Is

 Naara Turner died yesterday. I suppose it has been Naara Toole for quite a while. A few days ago I told my husband an old classmate was going to die (based on photos of her with friends on Facebook, with her seated and wrapped in a blanket). It was such a weird feeling. To lose a classmate is such a reminder of the how fleeting and fragile life is. Our bodies will give out. Whether to illness or old age, one day we each will draw our last breath, and our time of influence-our time to leave an imprint-will be done.

To me, Naara is just a few memories. When she first came to Springfield (from Georgia, I believe), explaining how to pronounce her name. She smiled politely at teachers when they remarked on her lack of a Southern accent. Naara had a big smile and teachers seemed to warm to her quickly. To me, Naara is a cabbage patch kid, a beautiful song. When Nichole Tummons had a Halloween (sleepover?) party, Naara was the other girl (besides me) who wet her pants when Nichole's older sibling knocked on the garage window, scaring us 10-year-olds. I feel somewhat of a solidarity with her as a fellow weak-bladdered gal. I remember trying out for the solo/duet for our Christmas program at North Town Mall. I went up with Debbie Barnes, despite neither of us having a spectacular voice), and we giggled through the audition. Then Naara came forward and sang, "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas," with such beautiful sincerity (she even closed her eyes at times), I wondered why the rest of us even bothered. I don't know if we performed or not. It might have been snowed out. Naara is the girl who would sneak in her tight jeans to change in the bathroom before school in 5th grade because her mom didn't approve. She is the 6th grader who supported my short romance writing efforts. I would bring in thick Writer's Market books to determine where to send my gems, and Naara would smile and offer to edit them for me before I sent them off. I was first runner-up in the school spelling bee in 6th grade, second to Naara. My disappointment was evident, I am sure, when I congratulated her, and Naara reassured me she wasn't feeling great and maybe couldn't go. Everyone was mad at her that week (we were a petty, petty group of kids), so they congratulated me instead. She did go, of course.

After we changed to junior high, I didn't see Naara much. We didn't seem to fall into the same classes anymore. Naara was in theatre and though I longed to be, I was shy. Naara could sing, and I wasn't interested. And that's okay. Naara was more mature than me, falling into different crowds with her brilliant smile, while I still had many years of work to bring myself up on my own. 

Naara brings to mind lessons I wish I had understood decades ago. She is a symbol of power to me: who has it and who doesn't. When I was with Naara's group, I was a hanger-on. My words, no matter how carefully crafted, were never quite right. I could never understand why, when I used the same tone, said the same words, they weren't received in the same light. It wasn't until my late 20s, when I realized, I have an underlying pettiness, a chip on my shoulder, an immaturity, which makes my most sincere responses questioned. It wasn't until my 40s when I realized power within a group also played a strong role. I grew up in a world without role models. I watched the girls I admired closely and strived to be more like them. I watched how they dressed and how they talked. I listened to how they handled themselves with others. I remember sitting in French IV, realizing with shock, that this girl I admired so much (Lynnette Pember), might not get slapped for being bratty. All my life I just assumed every family was somewhat the same, and then --I realized--some people don't get slapped. Some girls may never have had their hair pulled by someone else's frustration. It really blew my mind. I couldn't help but think of this amusing scene in As Good as it Gets. There is a kernel of truth  in it. 

Click the link  --->Good times, noodle salad. <----Click the link

The world's loss of Naara is likely great. Some lights shine brighter than others, and Naara appeared to be such a light. Not perfect, no one is, but a shining light reminding us we can do better. We can be more. We can smile at anyone. Not only are the days we have to create something amazing and long-lasting numbered, but the days we have to brighten someone else's world are finite. The time we are given to change a life is so short. I hope to never take each moment for granted. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Let's Talk About Health, Baby!


Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Winter is officially here, right? Happy Birthday, fictional character, Feyre Alcheron! Welcome, winter solstice. I wish I were into rituals and had something symbolic and meaningful planned, but alas! I am not big on the preparation that ritualistic symbolism requires. I do admire the romanticism, however.

Do you ever just feel Amy Marchy? Like clearly you were intended to have a staff? Can you guys imagine what life would be like with a housekeeper and maybe a part-time nanny? What could be accomplished? Or a personal assistant who just does all those details?  I can. And it looks pretty nice from right here.

My Simple Weight Loss Plan

So health. I am gaining weight! I can see it in my face, and feel it around my waist and suffer with it with my ongoing heartburn/acid reflux, and esophagus narrowing problems. The thing is, I don't know what I am doing differently. I don't feel like I am eating that much. But number don't lie, and I must be. My old standby-the only weight loss trick that works consistently for me-is counting calories. And there is no trick there, just hard work and discipline. And friends, I think that is the threshold I stand upon now. So back to MyFitnessPal, back to counting candy calories, back to just saying no to that bowl of chips and salsa after dinner. 

Have you tried MyFitnessPal? You must! I use the free version and it is perfect.

I can lose weight on 1500 calories, and lose it faster on 1200. Somewhere in between those will be my target. I can do this.

My Simple Exercise Plan

If you know me, you know I am big proponent of K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple Sweetheart). When planning a vacation, I have a rough itinerary of the must-sees, but believe in leaving a lot of room open for surprise side trips. I will be the first one up and out the door at the hotel, but I am not going be checking the time, herding everyone along (unless something might close). I also believe in ACTIVE vacations. As appealing as lying on a beach with an alcoholic drink appears, the fear of missing out on the WORLD hasn't allowed me to take such a vacation just yet. That and I always have kids around. But why lie on a beach when you can go to an art museum? Or hike to a waterfall? Or drink coffee in a rainy metropolis? Hell, let's just do all of this, beach included. That's the life for me. The truth is, I think I was meant to be an active person. I was an active kid. I loved running and climbing and playing. But whereas other girls funneled their energy into organized sports as puberty hit, I didn't know how. I had no teacher, no experience, and let's be honest, possibly no talent. As I watched other girls seem to flourish, I disappeared into myself behind a wall of shame and self-hatred. The self-hatred kept my weight down throughout high school, but once the babies came, the struggle became quite real. The last time I was really happy with my weight was after my first child was born, and before the others came. I was working out to a video 3x a week, walking the stroller on alternate days, and sticking to three small meals a day. All that work got me to just  under 130 pounds. Perhaps if I hadn't gotten pregnant with Caleb (very much planned), I would have continued to shave off a few more pounds.

This year, I have been doing some floor exercises pretty regularly. Stretches, (REAL!) pushups, crunches, and some leg/butt exercises. Then a couple weeks ago, I just stopped. Sometimes the carpet needed vacuumed and grossed me out, and sometimes I just didn't sleep well, and wanted to conserve my energy for the day. It is amazing how rapidly a tightening abdomen can disintegrate into softness. Also I had been walking a couple nights a week with my son. We decided to add jogging, he protested on the second time we went out, and we haven't done anything active since. 

So my new plan:

  1. Renew the exercises. I may have to get strict with myself (no getting dressed for work until they are done). 
  2. Continue/amp up the squats I do while waiting for my coffee to brew. I thought my 20-30 squats were great, then my coworker (who is 10 years older!) told me she did 400 squats one day. Umm, Okay. I can do better. 
  3. Go back to walking/jogging. I happen to know my son is getting a new scooter for Christmas, so I can still jog and with a new scooter, he can keep up (and get some exercise time).

I don't think I have caught the Coronavirus, though I have had one bad cold and one minor cold since it all started. Who is to say the colds weren't the virus? I don't know, I never had a fever, cough, or loss of taste or smell. But I do know if I do get a heavy viral load, I am overweight, over 45, and A positive blood type. So I need to get my act together, man. And I teach! I am surrounded by germs. 

I am not a big vitamin person. I think vitamins should mostly come from healthy foods. However, my husband did purchase some vitamin gummies, which taste yummy, so I have been eating a few of them each day.

With these steps in place, I have no reason to think, I won't lose at least one of these chins by spring!