Pig Lips

Today was a Monday after an insane weekend.  In. Sane.

Friday evening started the weekend with a bang when a friend who was babysitting our kids needed to leave early because of her little girl’s fever.  And vomit.  Nothing like coming home to vomit on a Friday night, huh?  We were worried for our little friend and I fought the knot that forms in every mama’s gut when she braces herself for the possible onslaught of contagious illness.  I worried too much.  Anyway, during the night our little friend’s fever kept going up and by Saturday she was admitted to the hospital with nothing contagious it turns out, but no less scary.

Hair Color Crazy

Hair Color Crazy

Saturday started with a long awaited haircut to which I dragged my babysitterless boys.  I threatened and promised punishment and reward for their good behavior at the salon.  They were good.  Exceptionally so, actually.  Still a mama can’t really relax when she knows what danger lurks nearby, what thin ice she’s on when she brings young boys to fancy salons and expects them to be quiet, not fight, and not break anything.  When paying the going rate these days for a trendy cut and color, I frankly was sad not to get to relax and fully enjoy the salon experience.  Still, I was desperate for a haircut and completely without a sitter so I pressed on and got it done, grabbing an extra kid (our little sick friend’s brother) on the way home.  Into the rest of Saturday I some how crammed voting, steak dinner at our house with friends, and dropping off and picking up my daughter from a party at City Park, along with dropping off a jacket to my friend at the hospital. (Think multiple trips from one end of New Orleans to the other, honey.)

Sunday morning was a trip to my friend’s house to feed and potty her dogs, then to WinnDixie for coffee (how do I let myself run out of that?) and other stuff needed.  Then house church, then cooking and trying to make the house halfway ready for Mackenzie’s SEVENTEENTH birthday party.  (Breakdown is scheduled for later over the fact that my girl is SEVENTEEN.)

Birthday Shenanigans

Birthday Shenanigans

You know what else I got at Winn Dixie?  Her cake.  (I type this with red-faced shame.)  I got my culinary school student, pastry professional daughter a Winn Dixie cake for her birthday.  Ugh, I so wanted her to have something wonderful and special but time and life ran away from me and she got a grocery store premade, picked up on the morning of her birthday.  The kind they keep in the case for losers who don’t order their cakes ahead of time.  (I’ll be sure to mention that in my mother of the year award acceptance speech…  he he.)

We partied, did dog duty again, hospital again and fell in bed Sunday exhausted.  Monday dawned and I felt yucky, didn’t go exercise, ran into every imaginable obstacle getting my extra kid to school and getting myself to work.  There was dog poop involved and well… I can’t do dog poop.  I have a thing.  Anyway, by the time I got to work, I was overdue for a good cry.  Way overdue.  No big deal you might think, but I’ve written before about how we really count on our weekends for rest and recharge. I’ve let myself get away from such frantically paced weekends.  I’ve not been training for the marathon of crazy that was this weekend.  I felt overwhelmed.  Completely overwhelmed.  So much joy and worry and laughter and huge milestones and frustrations and blessing all in such a short time.

The day wore on and, being Monday, didn’t go easy on me but brought its usual challenges at work.  Then… it happened.

Somebody offered me a bite of pig lip.  Seriously.  As pretty as you please, someone walked up to me, held out the pig lip and said as they chewed enthusiastically “You want a bite of my pig lips?”

And with that wonderfully weird statement, my heart let go of the worries and gave in to the fun.  The tension was broken with an absurd statement that set me free to embrace the totally bizarre and just GO WITH IT.

I know what you’re wondering and no.  I didn’t accept the offer of the pig lip.  But I DID get the blessing of a wacky moment that ushered humor and laughter and silliness into my day.

Those pig lips were my breakthrough. (Can I get a witness?)

All the way home I giggled about the pig lips and realized all over again that I’ve got to laugh.  I’ve got to embrace joy.  I’ve got to refuse to get so bogged down in the dailies that I miss the funny, wonderful, wild, random moments that bring comic relief to life.

It was a reminder I needed today.  Also how many times in life does a girl get to write about pig lips???  Seizing the day, my friends!

How do you like the new color?

How do you like the new color?

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Distracted

Do you ever feel fuzzy?  Distracted?  I do!  My mind is SO full of things.  Thoughts are whizzing this way and that.  My great big wonderful life brings tons of items to my to-do list.

My family about to enter the crowd at the PoBoy Festival!

My family about to enter the crowd at the PoBoy Festival!  Look behind them you can see the sea of people!

It’s like standing in a huge crowd.  A PoBoy Festival, for example.

There are so many voices going on around that you can’t hear anything, or all you hear is the hum of the crowd, or if you strain to eavesdrop you might hear the one conversation of the person next to you.  I think this creates that fuzzy, distracted feeling and that tendency to focus (or not focus) on something else entirely.   Crowds can be overwhelming, but usually they’re there because something is WONDERFUL.  (Hello, fried green tomato, bacon and remoulade poboy!!)

Caleb drowning out the crowd!!

Caleb drowning out the crowd!!

It’s tough to deal with a crowd, but hiding from it means hiding from my life.  Not acceptable.   No crowd, no poboy if you know what I mean. I usually hide away from the crowd through mindless activity (like social media trolling) that lessens the crowd noise but doesn’t really do anything to thin the crowd at all.

This is a huge problem for me.  I love my big ol’ crazy life.  All of it!  Sometimes it can just be overwhelming and I tend to zone out rather than deal with the tidal wave.   It happens before I know it, and then I’ll “wake up” to half a day gone, or a deadline missed, or just feeling like I can’t enjoy my life.

You’ve heard the old saying “How do you eat an elephant?  (or a POBOY?) One bite at a time!”  In order to keep from getting helium balloon head and floating away from my life, I’ve got to employ the elephant eating philosophy.

Here are a few elephant bites that help bring me out of a fog:

 

1)  Find out what I’m about.  The crowd of voices in my head stems from all the wonderful things I’ve willingly brought into my life, but some voices come from other things too.  I’ve got to identify the things I love, what I’m about, where I want to go.  When I know that, I can tell the unwanted voices to Shut. It.   So what am I about??  My faith, my family, my friends, my career, and some side interests like good books, good music, good writing, and good food.  Throw in one more dash of feminine adventure just for me and that’s it. These things are my main things.  These are the voices I need to hear.  If it doesn’t come from one of these categories… then shut it.  For me, this would include multi-level marketing (learned that the hard way), overseas mission trips, knitting my own sweaters, and learning to sew.  All awesome things, but none that fit in with my life at this time.

Transitioning home to these darlings is fun!!

Transitioning home to these darlings is fun!!

2)  Make appointments.  Yes.  I make appointments with myself.  Nowhere near as much as I should, but I do it.  I use my phone alarm to remind me of these appointments.  We were visiting with my mom and dad recently and my phone alarm went off at 8am while we were eating breakfast.  Caleb said “Nana, it’s time for English!”  My mom asked what he was talking about and I explained that I use my alarm sounds to remind me when to move to the next thing.  Sometimes that little noise brings me out of the fog and gets me back on track.    I don’t want to be a drone dependent upon my smartphone to direct me.  I see the phone as my secretary.  My personal assistant who sounds off to remind me what we’ve got going today.  If only it could pour me coffee and rub my shoulders too!

3)  Re-evaluate.  Every so often I’ve got to take inventory of what I’m doing and evaluate whether it is effective.  Sometimes as we change, kids grow, life morphs and strategies that used to work don’t fit so well anymore.  Lately the routine of waking the kids up after my shower isn’t working well.  I’ve had trouble getting the kids fed and started on schoolwork on time.  So we’re trying a new strategy where they are responsible for waking up on their own and getting to the table.   At 16 and 11, they’re big enough to begin learning to get themselves up, and it saves a step for me in the morning.

 

The hubs and me at work!

The hubs and me at work!

4)  Learn to transition.  Every morning on my way into work, I enter the house through a back door and walk down a long hallway toward the time clock.  I use that hallway as my transition.  I take a deep breath.  I let go of what we did or didn’t get done that morning at home and transition to business mode.   I’m learning to give what I’ve got while I can, be entirely present, and then when it’s time to move on I can let go and move on knowing I’ll be back to that task again tomorrow.  On the way out, guess what?  Same hall.  Deep breath.  Work is over and time to transition to mom again.  I find the transition at the end of the day to be more difficult than the beginning.  Often I walk in my front door and greet my family still grinding my teeth over the work day.  I want to learn to more effectively shake off the work day and fully embrace wife and mom once again.

5)  Re-fuel.  It’s important to take intentional breaks.  Last weekend we had a little getaway.  No school.  No work.  All fun.  It was

Takin' a break at the BEACH!!  My favorite place to refuel!

Takin’ a break at the BEACH!! My favorite place to refuel!

awesome!  I try to use my lunch break each day as a rest time.  I usually bring my kindle and read something I’m enjoying or something encouraging.  I take more deep breaths.  I sit in the quietest, most private spot available.  I can’t be “on” all the time or I’ll find myself totally “off.”

It’s so easy when we have lives crammed full of…. well… LIFE, to become overwhelmed.  It’s easy to slip off into a fog of distraction because there’s just too much going on.  I just don’t want to settle for fogged up, fuzzed out, life on autopilot.  These are ways I’m trying to keep myself engaged and in tune, so that I can really live, really love, really embrace the life I have.

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Stepfamily Step-Up

If you’d like to turn your life upside down, tornado style, try a second marriage.  Seriously.  If you’re looking for a wild ride, marry again.  For serious thrill seekers, add kids.  Statistics tell us that second and third marriages are very risky.  I gotta tell ya, we have learned this first hand and it’s true.

We’ve had our share of failures.  Ugly ones.  But we’ve stumbled upon a little success here and there and I wanted to share a specific strategy that’s working for us.

Our StepSensational Family

Our StepSensational Family

Our family has a total of 4 kids.  One, my husband’s grown son.  Two and three, my daughter and son from my first marriage.  Fourth, our child together, one of life’s little surprises, haha.  When Dwayne and I married, I already had a rhythm of life going with my two kids.  He already had a bachelor style thing going since his son is grown.  It was challenging to try to mix the two.  Then we threw a baby like a grenade into the mix.  The guilt I feel over the pain my kids have been through, the tight schedule we keep, the vast differences in our parenting philosophies… are you feeling motion sickness yet?

Anyway… one of the biggest things we have going for us is our “want-to.”  We both WANT to make this work.  My husband is so willing and enthusiastic about helping me and the kids.  One of our biggest frustrations came from the differences in our expectations for the kids.  Since my husband is off earlier than I, he has the kids for several hours in the afternoons on his own.  He expected the kids to take on some chores and responsibilities.  I agree with that.  But often I’d come home to unhappy faces and a disagreement would ensue.  I felt he was expecting too much.  He felt the kids were only responsive when I asked them to do things.  I felt stuck in the middle, wanting my kids to be happy and feeling they were good kids, and wanting my husband to be happy and feeling respected, and who in the world was looking out for how mommy was feeling????

We sat down as a family and aired out our expectations.  We came up with a list of responsibilities.  We put down a lot of detail, from what time we get up in the morning to who does what chores.  We listed consequences in writing.  We all signed our family document and we posted it on the wall.  From that night on, we agreed we would all refer to our family contract.  The kids’ chore assignments are on there.  We  no longer ask more than once or remind.  Everyone knows what to do because it’s listed on the wall.  If it’s not done, the consequences are also listed.  No more guesswork.  No more he said they said.  I can’t tell you how effective this has been for us and how peacemaking.

1)  The kids love it.  They’ve never said this aloud, but I can tell.  They rose to the challenge of having a more grown up style of responsibility.  They are relieved to know they won’t be nagged or begged.  They don’t have to wonder what will make us happy.  I’m so proud of how my kids have followed through with this agreement.  The responsibility is on them.  If they choose not to do the chore, they’ve chosen their own consequence.  I’ve found they know how to make good choices.

2)  My husband loves it.  He doesn’t have to explain to me or try to get me to enforce a rule.  Either the job is done or it isn’t, and the resulting action is in writing.  He’s no longer the bad guy, no longer the one who has to try to enforce the chores since the kids make that choice for themselves.

3)  I love it!  I don’t have to feel stuck between making my kids and my husband happy when it comes to household chores.  I no longer come home to conflict about who’s doing or not doing chores.

This one agreement has done more to bring about family harmony than anything else we’ve tried.  We are blessed to be dealing with just regular family stuff, no serious behavioral issues or special needs.  I’m no expert, and I hope this doesn’t seem too simplistic, but I thought I’d share what has worked for us in the hope that the idea might also help some of the rest of you who are in the step-family storm chasing life.

So you step-people out there… what are your great ideas?

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Serious Business

Guess what?  Around 9 on Saturday morning, an airplane will land at the New Orleans airport.  On that plane will be someone who has been my friend since around the age of 13 or so.  We’ve had weddings within days of each other,  had babies within months of each other, (here’s a pic of those babies about a year ago) we got our first tattoos together.  This lil ol blog even started with her as coauthor! (Check out a couple of blasts from the past about the last time we got away together.  Here’s one by me, one by Christy.)

Yep!  Christy’s comin’ to New Orleans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Her first time here!

Whaaaaat????

And, as a gift for my birthday, my hubby has given me two, count ’em, TWO nights and days with which to do whatever we please!  Don’t hate!  I know I’m a lucky lady, but I also need this BAYUD!!! (that’s southern for BAD)

We are going to paint this town some sort of swirly-type tie dye inspired something.  Forget plain ol’ red.  The owner of the little B&B where we’ll be staying asked if I was a writer.  She read my email address and assumed I was.  She is, too!  She told me she thought I’d find the house and it’s art collection inspiring.  I keep thinking on her words.  It’s been, what? Seven years since our last weekend getaway?  I’m STILL going on some of the inspiration from that weekend, but it’s WAY past time for a booster shot.  Inspiring, indeed!  We shall laugh and cry and whisper and shout. We’ll have a few firsts and laugh at our lasts. We’ll do a few crazy things, but not too-much-whiskey-actin’-stupid kind of crazy.  Just free to be ourselves without worrying about a darn thing crazy.  But if you see us and need to look away, go right ahead.

Let this be a warning to all:  For about three delicious days, these two plate spinners shall not spin.  Not. one. plate.  Prepare accordingly.  We shall return to our regular scheduled programming soon enough, and we promise the world will continue its orbit while we’re gone.   This ain’t your ordinary paint-your-nails, shop-til-you-drop kind of girls getaway.  This is two people who’ve known each other too long and love each other too much to settle for mediocrity and surface scratching.  Depths will be explored, true feelings expressed, solutions brainstormed, goals set, and complacency challenged.  God will change our lives.  Again.  He always shows up when we’re together.  I think He likes hanging out with us! This is serious business.  The business of being friends, of walking the lovely flower-laden paths and navigating the stinky, muddy, sewers of life.  This ain’t no joke.  It’s going to be AMAZING!!!!

Pictures and profundity to follow.

 

 

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I’m Baaaaaaaack!

 

Hello, world!  It’s been a while…. too long since I posted.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

20130219-211739.jpg20130219-211833.jpg  Christmas in Florida with mom and dad.  Our whole family was together and it was AMAZING!

20130219-211915.jpg20130219-211957.jpg  We brought Mom back from Florida with us.  We crammed as much special as we could into her visit!

20130219-212036.jpg  School started again.  I’m running study hall and a social studies project!

20130219-212052.jpg  MARDI GRAS!!  My sister and her kids visited for the first weekend of Mardi Gras.  It was EPIC!!

20130219-212122.jpg  A costume party was attended by this really groovy couple…

20130219-212218.jpg  My baby turned three.  I now have a fifteen year-old, a ten year-old and a three year-old.  Blessings upon blessings upon blessings!!!  Heaped upon my head (literally!)

 

 

20130219-212250.jpgFat Tuesday came and went.  We celebrated in the rain and went home and took a nap.

 

I have a quote taped to my desk that says “We feel inadequate because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

So. True.

Above you’ve seen the highlight reel.  The behind-the-scenes would reveal some pretty intense stress, an emotional breakdown or two, a few lessons learned, and no small number of mistakes made.  Ever seen that episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel work on the assembly line at the candy factory?  If not, check it out here.  And THAT’s the way the last several weeks have REALLY been!

So nope… not a single New Year’s resolution.  Not a solitary Christmas musing.  Super Bowl was held in my town and I said nothing.  Silence about the Mardi Gras season in its entirety.  I may not have found a moment to chronicle them here or write profound words about them… but I DID live them!  So I’m back and perhaps better for the crazy rush of the last 8 weeks.

Happy ChristmaNewYearMardiSuperBowlGrasBirthdayValentineBeginningofLent to you all!!!  Hope your parties were fun, your joys were many, your sadnesses were lessened, and your lives enriched.  Ours certainly were!  More to come…

 

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Mama’s Peace

Her fingers clicked across the keyboard as she typed a few words.  Then, just as many times, she tapped the delete key.  How to pull some kind of coherent thought from the fragmented bits that swirled incessantly in her head?

Lists.  She could make lengthy, detailed lists of all the things she needed to do.  She could bullet the bills, errands, library books, phone calls, emails, notes to teachers, and plans to arrange.  Grocery lists, menu lists, and birthday gift lists.  She could jot forever the undone tasks that haunt her mind at night, keep her from focusing at work, and steal her miniscule lunch break time.

Laments.  She could wax poetic about her stress and shortcomings.  She could write long complaints about the way things are, and paint wistful pictures of how she wishes they were.  She could give in to the longing sob that lurks in the back of her throat at every thought of her mother, father, sister or brother.  She could explain why everyone should cooperate with her plans, and expound on the misery that results when they don’t.  She could compose a heartbreaking account of betrayal and brokenness, nearly drowning in the sorrow of it all.

Laugh.  She could throw up her hands and laugh at her ineptness.  She could give in to the cheshire cat smile that would make anyone wonder what she’s up to.  She could let out the giggle that erupts instantly at the sight of her two year old boy.  She could snort with her ten year old son at words like “fart” and let herself thoroughly enjoy that his presidential candidate choice is based on that candidate’s opinion of McDonald’s.  She could roll her eyes with her soon-to-be fifteen year old daughter and enjoy the inside jokes just the two of them share.  She could send her husband a steamy, silly text message and wait with baited breath for his reaction.

Love.  She could let herself feel the painful tidal wave of love that threatens to burst her heart each time she kisses her children goodnight or good morning or goodbye.  She could plan an unforgettable birthday celebration for the husband whose love overtook her life.  She could try… just try to love that someone she just can’t stand.  She could bake something, write something, give something to try to show her adoration for those friends that see her through the best and worst.  She could mail something to her mom and dad, Fedex something to her sister, fix up the guest room for when her brother comes to stay.  She could forget the remark, overlook the mistake, let go of the offense.  She could remember a name, remember to hug, remember to look an old person in the eye.  She could let the tears fall because she knows no way to contain her affection for a God who loved her first.

Her chest heaved a sigh and she did the thing she hadn’t yet dared to consider…

She let go.   She let go of it all and let it fade with the daylight.  She loosened her grip and let the load she’s carrying settle into a pile that will still be waiting for her in the morning.  She dropped the notion of perfection and propped her feet up on the ottoman of “good enough.”  She popped the top of something cold and slipped into a tub of something warm.  She kicked back and let Jesus take the storm of wife, and mother, and professional, and writer, and sister, and daughter, and friend, and citizen, and believer, and somehow bring about….

Peace

Night moon

 

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Round Two

OK, I’m back.  Squirt some water in my mouth and hand me a towel while I tell ya something else I’m learning “in the ring”…

Anticipating pain is often worse than the actual pain.

When my kids have to get immunizations, I never tell them ahead of time.  I refuse, for one, to listen to all the whining and worrying and constant attempts to get out of the shot.  I feel just as guilty about them having to get it as they do apprehensive about getting it.  As an expert on shots (I took three each day, in the belly, for ten months while bringing my youngest son into the world) I can tell you that the anticipation of the actual shot is worse than the shot itself.  I just can’t have my kids going through a whole day knowing that in a few hours, there will be a needle stick.  Might as well stab them with a sword.  They’ll go through the same pain once they’ve agonized about the impending shot all day.  I remember as a kid what fear there was in the possible shot at the doc’s office.

But now I’m grown and I’ve given myself three painful injections in the stomach every day for a ten month period of time.  Where once I swooned at the alcohol smell and the sight of a needle, now shots are nothing to me.

Emotionally, however?  Different story.  Instead of dealing with pain, I run.  I wring my hands, furrow my brow, eat chocolate, go out with the girls, hide, ANYTHING but face it and deal with it.  I’m convinced that many, many people are eating, drinking, or internet surfing themselves sick, simply trying to avoid pain.  Eating is one of my choice methods.  I’ve even been known to pick the occasional fight with a certain gorgeous husband of mine rather than deal with my anticipated pain.

But guess what’s going on while I’m running scared, wondering how I’ll EVER live if I face the pain of adultery, of rejection, or betrayal or failure?  I’M STILL FEELING THAT PAIN, only worse because I prolong it with anticipation.  It’s still there in the pit of my stomach, waiting to hijack my emotions at the next vulnerable moment.  Waiting for that last straw so it can come exploding out like lava from a volcano. It’s not as though I’m actually escaping pain with my avoidance methods.  So why run?  Why not just brace myself and face it?

I’m not saying dealing with major trauma is simply a matter of gritting your teeth and facing up to the pain.  I know that things are much more complicated than that.  I know that some pains ARE too much to be faced all in one sitting.  I’m only making the point here that running isn’t any good either.  I’m saying that the pain is already there, and if I haven’t died from the anticipation of feeling it, I probably won’t die from the actual feeling either.  Especially since what I imagine is often worse than what actually is.

Plus, DEALING with pain actually gives me some element of control over it.  Running only makes me a fugitive and allows the pain, or my need to avoid pain, to control my life, and I end up more screwed up than I ever intended.  I may not be able to conquer it all at once, but facing up to it… simply deciding to stop running… means I’m back in the driver’s seat.

I like the driver’s seat. (Imagine my slow grin)

Now, buckle up for round three.

 

 

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Sore Eyes

My eyes are sore from crying.  Literally, blinking is noticeable.  There’s some stuff… yucky stuff… that’s been chasing me for years.  I just can’t run anymore, so here I sit in my pirogue in the midst of a swamp full of tangled up emotions.

I’ve blogged parts of my journey in the past, and going back, you can read through the pain of my divorce, you can see the craziness of Katrina, you can witness the joy of writing a book.  You can read about the person I was, the person I wanted to be, the person I certainly thought everyone expected.  You can read how in the past 7 years I’ve been through two major hurricanes, a book release, seven moves, life threatening embolisms, a divorce, single parenting, remarriage, a life-threatening pregnancy, new baby, new job, and more.  What you can’t read is that though I processed some of my pain through my writing, I mostly got busy with life and ran as hard as I could from the hurt and stress.

For a while now, I’ve written irregularly because, frankly, I’ve often felt too depressed to write anything positive and subjecting the world to my garbage was getting old.  Somewhere… along about the time my divorce was final and I moved to Florida for a while, I got tired of feeling like a bad car accident being gawked at by passers by.  Those things have a way of causing major traffic jams due to rubbernecking, you know.  I felt like I wanted my life to myself, so I shut down.  Those close to me are nodding their heads at this because they know it.  They’ve exchanged concerned conversations over it with furrowed brows.  They’ve prayed and worried and wondered what was going on with me.  They’ve put me to bed on their couches and waited for me when I didn’t show up.  There are a few people who are severely under-recognized for their care and concern, patience and compassion for me.  If you are nodding your head as you read this, then thank you for being my friend when I couldn’t be a friend back to you.

I’ve gone on to try and build a normal life, but this summer has been especially difficult.  You see, a girl can’t run from her pain forever.  A pirogue offers little protection from swamp monsters.  (All my dearly beloved Swamp People fans know just what I mean.)  Having reached a low that not only is hurting me but my darling husband and my job and more, I’ve decided enough is enough.  It’s time to stop running from the pain, to deal with it once and for all, and to learn to fight like a grown up lady.  (Some of my dearest friends would term this “puttin’ on my big-girl panties.”)  Leery of “counseling” due to past experience, I’ve persuaded the only individual I trust who also has a counseling degree to work with me.  The journal and pen are back out on my bedside table.  The hard work has begun and… watch out world… I’m comin’ back!!!

You’ve heard the expression “a sight for sore eyes” and now I know more about what that means.  It takes a LOT of cryin’ to make sore eyes.  And when those eyes open to a friendly face, a glimpse of truth, a reason to hope, a cool cloth, a mother’s touch, a sister’s hand, a husband’s strong arms, a baby’s laugh, a friend’s understanding, or a word from God, the comfort is exquisite.  These sore eyes have seen all of the above, and I’m most humbly grateful for the friends, family, bosses, coworkers, and fellow believers who have been these beautiful sights to me.

Hear my slow, shuddering sigh as I pick myself up and head back to life.

 

 

 

 

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Femininity Forgotten? (A lesson in alliteration)

Somewhere in the avalanche of my life it’s here.  Maybe I lost it in the piles of practical shoes in the bottom of my closet.  Maybe I left it at the security checkpoint in the airport, or the self-checkout line at Winn Dixie.  Perhaps I dropped it as I ran to catch my two year old boy, or maybe it fell out the window as my car whipped around the corner just in time to get my nine year old to school.  It could be under the papers on my desk, or maybe I forgot to save it on my computer.  It’s probably beneath that baby weight I still haven’t lost, or lying beneath the mountain of ideas and thoughts labeled “save for later” that I keep in the back of my mind.

It’s my femininity.  My mystique.  My girly, giggly, high-heel-shoe-loving, red-nail-polish-painting, hot-tea-and-honey-drinking femininity.  The part of me that sleeps in lace and shaves her legs every day.  That little itch to go shopping, try on clothes at leisure, make cupcakes and light candles.

I’m not sure exactly when or where, but at some point I let my femininity slide to the back burner.  It’s always there, mind you.  I’m not saying I’ve been less feminine.  I guess I’ve just been allowing my femininity to manifest itself in a different, less desirable way.  More fussing than flirting.  More lamenting than laughing.  More stress than sweetness.  More stomp than sashay.

Aw, sure I have plenty of reasons why.  Plenty of excuses about time crunches, weariness, stress, money worries, and crazy schedules.  But all that never seems to go away.  There’s really no reason I should stop enjoying the gift of being a woman.  It may mean making time for the fru-fru, or stopping to smell the roses—literally.  But whatever it takes, there must be some prettiness preserved, some girly-ness glorified in my day to day existence.

It’s odd, I let the fun part of femininity fall by the wayside during times of overload and stress, but that fun femininity may be the very thing that relieves or at least makes the chaos more enjoyable!  Really, what stress can’t be lessened by a bubble bath or a pedicure (or both)?  If I must rush out the door, wouldn’t I rather do so in a cute pair of shoes?  Is there any outlook that isn’t improved by the right lip gloss or a spritz of my favorite scent?  Why not write my to-do list in pink ink?  Why can’t the practical be enhanced by the pretty, the everyday be shrouded in just a bit of mystique?  Why not trim the trials in a little lace?

God made me a female and I’m glad He did.  I just sometimes let the pressures crowd out the pleasures when it comes to being a woman.  So this is a reminder for me, and any others out there who may need to recall the fact that being a girl is glorious, femininity is fabulous, womanhood wonderful.  My femininity isn’t exactly something that can be forgotten.  But it can be flattened a little if I let it.

And I don’t want that.  I want the sugar and spice, swirl-around skirts, patent leather pumps, and polka dotted purses.  I’m glad I know what cucumber water is, and how to keep mascara from clumping.  I’m glad I can be sincerely grateful to God for gel nail polish and purse-sized hand sanitizer.  So bring it on, crazy life!  I’ve got laughter and love, lotion and lipstick.  I’m female, and THAT is FUN!!

 

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Blast From The Past!

In honor of my amazing sister and all those times that there’s nothing left to do but throw back your head and laugh… I love you, Angie!!

>Weird (by Becky)
January 2, 2007 in Uncategorized, Where I’ve Been with 4 Comments

>I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to notice how my life constantly teeters on the edge of the ridiculous. Does that ever happen to you? I try my hardest to be a civilized, respectable, cordial woman; but the absurd is ever-present, always lurking just below the surface, reminding me that high class is just out of my reach. As a young girl, even as a newlywed I had wonderful visions of a clean, civilized life where I would have well behaved children, a well-kept home, a well-maintained figure, and a well-known career. Of course, I would have an attractive husband, I would be well-spoken and well-read. I would engage in intelligent conversation, be witty and charming, and go around doing grown up civilized things like having meetings, going to lunch with friends, shopping, cooking wonderful dinners, and driving a clean smelling car. And you know, that is actually how I picture myself most of the time. I ignore the laundry piles, pizza boxes, crumbs, and elastic waistbands; and picture myself just one step away from achieving my dream. I would be happy in my deluded concept of reality, except the most random things pop up to keep me aware that though I have some aspects of my dream in the bag, other parts of my life would make great displays in Ripley’s Believe it or Not museums.

Case in point: Friday, my sister and I were sitting at a restaurant. We had taken my brother to the airport and were enjoying a nice civilized lunch, savoring time together while I’m in my hometown for a visit. We were looking forward to seeing a movie together later in the evening. We were laughing, joking, and engaging in grown-up conversation. For a few moments, we had it! We WERE the dream. Two intelligent, attractive, classy women lunching together like civilized adults. My sleek, civilized cellular phone rang, and I answered. My husband was on the other end ready to lower the boom of the absurd. “I have some news you need to know,” he said. He proceeded to inform me that my daughter had spent the day before we left town with a friend who now has head lice. Immediately, I shifted from high-class adult to red-neck, white trash queen of the ridiculous, ready to fight off the constant barrage of random craziness my life continues to throw at me. Our intelligent conversation shifted from the politically correct use of the word “thin” referring to Mary in a sermon, (how did he know she was thin anyway?) to how many packs of lice treatment kits we would need to treat all the people at mom and dad’s house. (We figured two packs would do it.) Then we lost all couth as we hooted about how our movie plans were now “Nixed.” (As all the moms out there will know, Nix is a brand of lice treatment shampoo.) We were getting punchy and people were starting to stare. I don’t know, I just somehow never imagine myself at lunch with another intelligent adult, strategizing about the fastest, most preventative way to treat ten people for head lice, then laughing my head off about it. Sure, I might pass up movie plans for a better offer, but certainly, it never occurred to me that I’d sacrifice my movie plans to form a head lice treatment assembly line. Sorry, but head lice eradication was never a part of the dream.

There I was as my dream self, having a perfectly normal lunch, and it quickly descended into the ridiculous. The evening only got more absurd. We drove home, making a pit stop at the drug store for the lice shampoo, and began the treatment. It was starting to seem normal. No one had any sign of the bugs, but we weren’t taking chances. We got into a good groove shampooing one kid while the next kid was rinsing and the next combing out. We were spraying furniture and stripping beds. Again, the phone rings. This time my sister picked it up and got the news that my nephew had gone to the back of our property on his four wheeler and was stuck. We had just discovered him missing when it came his turn for the shampoo. We continued carrying out the lice treatment while now trying to calm our parents down and find a kid who just buried his four wheeler. Somebody showed up to pull out the four wheeler, (around our neighborhood there are plenty of good ole boys with 4×4’s just waiting for a chance like that) we stripped the muddy kid and put him in the shower as last to be treated for lice. By that time, we had lost all vision of the dream. We allowed life to spiral all the way down to utterly absurd. We loaded up everybody and went down to Jerry’s Restaurant (which isn’t actually called Jerry’s, but the guy who owns it is Jerry) for the Friday night fish fry. We took up a whole room in the place and gave at least one waitress a night to remember. We yelled out stuff no one ever plans to say, like “Get your mouth off the back of that chair,” and “Siddown! This room ain’t a race track!”

So much for high class living. Isn’t it funny how we have a concept of the way life should be? Like my life should look like an episode of Masterpiece Theatre, when in reality it’s more like a marathon of Roseanne. For some reason I keep holding to the dream. Maybe it pacifies me to pretend I can have a civilized life. Maybe it just keeps me sane to have a glimpse of high class adulthood once in a while. I don’t know. I considered it tonight in deep thought as I drove home listening to my kids sing their own original composition “Worms are Weird.” Rest assured, kids, it’s not just the worms that are weird!!

Truth is, that though I never dreamed of preventing lice, saving an ATV, and shutting down a local greasy spoon all in one night, the ridiculous things in my life bring the most laughter and fun. If not for the completely random junk like that, I might never throw back my head and laugh embarrassingly loud. I might never come close to wetting my pants or throwing up because I’ve laughed so hard. I might not have memories of some crazy but special times shared with my family and friends. Maybe it’s time to alter my dream. Maybe it’s time to embrace the stupidity of my life and cherish it for the smile-inducing wonder that it is. Or maybe I’m just weird.

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