Mothers may

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Mother’s Day is all about the dads. I know that sounds weird, but if it weren’t for the dad there probably wouldn’t be any celebrations. I say this to make myself feel better. My kids don’t have a dad…and mother’s day didn’t happen at my house. Who was there to remind them that they like me? No one. Especially now that the oldest has moved out. She is also a mother, so…she would have remembered.

After having just the smallest of pity parties for myself, I realized maybe the reason my kids didn’t do any thing for me is because I suck as a mom. I did a little mental inventorying and realized I have fallen to the lower levels of momhood. I work every day, I am going to school, I don’t cook much, and I’m tired….so tired. By the time I have five minutes to relax, I’m asleep. Maybe my kids felt like there was nothing to celebrate. I’d have to agree with them.

My mind went back to my previous life when I was a stay at home mom. I spent my days cooking, cleaning, scrapbooking, running errands, and meeting both kids and hubby at the door when they arrived home. After school snacks, home cooked meals, freshly baked bread….yeah, that was me. I wasn’t a perfect mom, but I was present. Lately, I feel like I don’t even recognize myself as I come and go.

Years ago, I was introduced to the 5 love languages, as were many of you. I gave the test to myself, my husband, and my kids. Even though they were little, it was fun to see what they came up with. I got to thinking today that it would be a fun idea to take the tests again. I know I have changed a lot and I bet my kids have too. It may not be the most spiritual family home evening, but that is my plan.

Speaking of FHE, I had a nice chat with my bishop today. He is the third bishop I’ve had since I became widowed. The other two were good, but this guy has a way of making me cry whenever I talk to him. I think it is because he cries too. I can tell he truly cares and he has true empathy for me and my life trials. After we both teared up a bit, he told me in his fire and brimstone voice, “You are a good mom!” He is quite convincing. He also gave our lesson in Relief Society. One thing that stuck out to me was him saying we were all good moms. He said that when we stress and worry and cry over our kids, that is being a good mom. The bad moms are the ones that don’t care. They don’t worry and they don’t try.

That’s what I needed to hear today. I’ve been feeling a bit of stress. My kids are amazing. Strong. Capable. And scary as hell with some of their choices. I worry I didn’t teach them enough. I worry I screwed them up. I worry they will disappear and fall into diverse traps. Now, thanks to my bishop, I feel like I’m not a complete failure.

It also doesn’t hurt that I got to Skype with my missionary son today. He kept telling me how much he loves me and our family. He told me I was the reason he went on a mission. He blamed it all on me. He is loving it. I wish I could take the credit, but I know it was his choice and that he has always been an amazing person. But it sure feels nice to hear that. Especially on Mother’s Day.

Cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.intouch-marketing.com

Water words

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Do you ever find yourself chanting words to that Talking Heads song?  You know the one….

“And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here? ”

I know I’m not the only one that stops now and then and wonders how their life became something very very different from what they imagined as a 12, 15, or even 20 year old.” Set goals,” they said. “Make plans,” they said. What they should have said was, “put on your seat-belt and hold on for dear life. This life is a roller coaster that never stops!” Sometimes I wonder where I am when I look around. It is like a strange, foreign land.

“Letting the days go by
Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by
Water flowing underground
Into the blue again
After the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime
Water flowing underground”

Some days I feel like all I can do is keep my head above water. Kids in trouble, bills piling up, house a disaster….it is easy to want to just slip under the tide. I didn’t ask for this. Or did I?

“And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife”

Being in the single world has introduced me to many people, both men and women, that had ended up in a life they did not ever imagine. Choices people make, turns in the road, unforeseen health issues…they are all propellers that send us into uncharted waters. We are given opportunities to learn, grow, and become very bitter if we wish. Sometimes, the change in course was due to nothing in our control. We feel like we have been suddenly thrown overboard on a clear sailing day, only to end up in a swift current full of sharks. “Why me?”  “Why now?” “Why am I the only one that seems to be suffering?” It’s all so unfair. Or is it?

“And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself yourself
My God!…What have I done?!”

It’s easy to second guess yourself when you feel like you are drowning. It’s easy to look everywhere else for answers than the place you know they are. You may feel like the Lord has left you alone and you can’t turn to Him anymore. I’ve been there. I’ve seen that. I know many who are in that deep pit of despair. Why do we jump in that pit?

“Water dissolving…and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Under the water, carry the water at the bottom of the ocean
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean”

I don’t know what the Talking Heads were referring to in their song. As far as I know, the only requirement for songs in the 80s was that they make no logical sense. However, I personally choose to look at this song as inspiration. “Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean.” Let yourself go. Get out of the water or swim. Stop feeding your own misery and despair. Shakespeare is reported to have said, “The well of grief is emptied with our tears.” Cry it out and get over it. Nothing can ever go back to the way it was. You can’t make a butterfly back into a caterpillar. It just doesn’t work that way. And honestly, we wouldn’t want it to. After the butterfly has flown…would it ever be happy only crawling along, slowly…? I think not.

Take your challenges, your disappointments, your pain, and make something new and beautiful out of it. It is your time to fly. Cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.butterfliesandme.wordpress.com

Top Ten

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I had another birthday last week, I know….seems like only last year that I did that celebration. My daughter has informed me that I can ‘park it’ at 36 and no one will be the wiser. I’m going with it. 36 is a nice number…not too old and not too young.

Each year, I like to look back and what I’ve learned and share that smidgeon of knowledge with the general public. Here you go. My top ten lessons of my….er…36th year of life…again.

10. One is never too old to learn. I started a double master’s program this last year and it is amazing to me how much I am learning! I always thought Brad was the smart one. Truth be told, he was just the one ‘learning’. Look at me now!

9. People will be whatever you let them be. Treat someone like an idiot and voila, they are an idiot. Treat someone like a world class jerk and they most definitely will be one. Treat someone like they matter, they make a difference, they are valued….and you’ve created something beautiful.

8. Multi-tasking is not always a good thing. I actually watched a TED video on this. When a person is multi-tasking, their endorphin’s go down which results in a feeling/sense of depression. Focus on ONE thing at a time and you feel happier. This explains the general public’s feeling of inadequacy…..

7. Being vulnerable will not surely kill you. I am a strong, capable, intelligent woman that doesn’t need anybody. Except, when I let down my guard and LET someone help me….it’s pretty great. I’m still all those things, but I’ve share and maybe even strengthened a relationship.

6. Clean houses don’t matter. I used to STRESS over my house. Must be clean or no one can come in the door. Must seem like super woman every day. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. Let stuff slide now and then and all you do is give yourself room to breathe.

5. Seeking first to understand is not always easy. This is one of Covey’s habits I really try hard with. Maybe it comes from my dear mother, but I tend to take things way too personally. Nine time out of ten, the insult I felt was just someone else not paying attention. People don’t usually try to hurt your feelings, they are too busy trying to make themselves not look stupid.

4. Sleep is good. I know, you all already knew this one, but seriously. I haven’t slept much in the last……25 years or so….and I’m just now realizing that sleep can do wonders for just about everything. When they say “sleep on it”…that’s good advice!

3. Diversity is a good thing. I know I’ve beaten this one to death, but it’s true. White bread is boring.We need to smear some nutella and jam and sprinkle nuts on there. That’s when things get good.

2. Creativity isn’t a gift, it’s a muscle. When I taught craft classes, I didn’t understand why people couldn’t just “do it.” They were such babies at times, wanting me to ‘hold their hand’ and it was mind blowing to me. Now that my life is not filled with daily card making, scrapbooking, sewing…etc…I can totally understand. When I try to make a card my brain freezes up and I want to crawl in a hole. My muscles are weak.

1. Pay attention. Life goes by pretty fast. If we don’t stop to actually pay attention to what is going on, we miss all the good stuff. Babies laughing, puppy smell, kids saying crazy things, weeds growing, days and weeks and months just passing us by. Stop for a minute and be present.

I’m no genius with revolutionary insight into the world, but I’m glad I can say I learned something this year. What did you learn?

Cause I said so.

Marshmallows and vinegar

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I went to a one man play recently called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I think I expected a comedy. Anytime anyone tries to explain the differences between men and women, there is laughter involved. Even if it is only from me. It’s like comparing apples to Volkswagons. You thought I was going to say oranges….didn’t you.

Brad and I used to have this conversation often. There is so much talk about equal rights and women’s rights and blahblahblah. IT’s a myth and a dream and a nightmare if you ask me. Men and women are not equal because they are not the same. They are two different creatures with a few commonalities. I wouldn’t want to be treated equal to a man because I am not a man. Now, equity is a whole different thing. I would like to be treated with equity. I would like to be treated fairly. There is a difference.

Anyway, I digress. The play was pretty good. I wasn’t expecting a one man monologue, but he did pretty well. He had lots of funny stories where he was the victim and his wife was the hard to please, moody, even scary woman of his dreams. He didn’t paint her in a bad picture, but …. it was in good humor.

The basics of the show were based on that book by the same name which I’ve never read. I didn’t need to. I understand that men and women are different. We think differently, we love differently, and we need differently. The funny thing was, the way he described a woman did not fit me. Neither did the description of the man. What does that leave me?

It’s all just a balancing, communication game. Find out what you need and find someone that can give it to you. At the same time, find out what the person needs and make sure you give it to them. It’s not going to be equal effort on either side. Both sides need to go into it expecting to do more than their fair share because they love the other person. Going in thinking…”I’ll do this, and then she/he’ll be so grateful they will…..” will never work. Setting high expectation, especially in the reciprocal department is a guaranteed way to jinx a relationship.

I know, I am no relationship expert. But, I’m pretty good and messing them up. Take my words as guidance. I’ve been there, done that, failed there, succeeded here…..I know a few things.

Cause I said so.

Globally mine

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Not being able to sleep is usually not my problem. Honestly, I have fallen asleep while driving, reading, walking through WalMart….it’s not a problem for me. The problem is usually not having enough time to sleep. Lay me down, I’m asleep.

Today (yesterday)I had a fun adventure that involved a virtual knife being stuck into my back by an invisible foe. Otherwise known as “back spasms” the doctor said (after two hours of waiting in Urgent Care). Happy it wasn’t something like a hairy cyst growing in my back or some alien fetus sprouting there, I was sent home with a prescription for muscle relaxers. Apparently, these “muscle relaxers” only kind of work and instead of sending you into a blissful, restful, out-til-morning-light kind of slumber, they wake you as they wear off at 2 in the morning. Not my idea of a fun time. That being said, I was able to get up and do some homework. yay.

The class I am in now is on the foundations of the Inclusion Classroom. This is a topic I have issues with. I don’t believe the funding is there for an inclusion classroom to be supported as it should be. Point one. Point two involves the struggles educators have to meet the needs of such a wide variety of students in an overpopulated classroom. High expectations, growth requirements, curriculum chains (I mean…yeah, chains…), and lack of support make running a truly inclusive classroom hard, to say the least.

The more I learn about this mythical, magical, marvelous classroom model the more I want it. I want to have a culturally diverse classroom where everyone supports and encourages others despite their differences and challenges. I want students that have physical, mental and emotional struggles in my classroom. I want students from all over the world that speak different languages, look different, think different, dress different. I want a global classroom.

I went back to bed after writing my paper at 2 this morning. But as I lay there, muscles twitching, mind racing….I felt the proverbial hand slap the back of my head. Why am I learning all this? Why does it seem that everywhere I turn, I am educated more and more about the benefits of being with those that are ‘not the same as me’. My ‘box’ has been rained on, trampled, and thrown under a bridge. I can’t stay in it because it has fallen apart.

I look at my family. Bring it home. I’ve tried so hard to make it fit a certain mold, way of life, way of thinking, acting, believing… Why shouldn’t it be just as global, inclusive, open-minded as my classroom? In trying to keep it all the ‘same’ and I hurting or helping my family? Am I setting my children up for success or failure if I encourage them to only accept those that are just like them?

Darn it all..sometimes I’m a really slow learner. Sometimes, it takes a person five or six,or even 45 years to discover they have been asking the wrong questions, looking in the wrong places, and accepting answers from closed boxes.  I changed my question this weekend. Instead of “what am I supposed to learn from this trial?” I moved to “What do I need to DO to be able to learn from this trial?” It’s in the action, the movement, the effort. True lessons don’t get delivered on a silver tray while we sit pretty, waiting for them. Real answers are out in the trenches, dirty, wet, slippery, and sometimes even bloody.

Bring it home. What do you need to DO? Are you thinking outside your box or are your fighting like mad to tape it as the world tries to get in? What do you want to learn? Who do you want to be? How do you want to fit in the world?

I don’t want to be in a pretty box, high on a shelf….all alone. I’d rather be out in the world, spinning, dancing, getting dirty, and participating in this global family we’ve been given.

Stretch. Look. See. Grow.

Cause I said so.

Photo credit: www.newscenter.sdsu.edu

Verse Two

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I don’t particularly enjoy having church at 2pm. It feels like the day is over before we even get there. We manage to be late almost every week. I’m ready for a nap before the opening hymn is sung. I also have to admit that it is hard to keep our activities ‘sabbath -worthy’ when we sleep in half the day, laze around, and end up watching movies til it’s time to go. The only real benefits, beside the sleeping in , are the opportunities for me to actually iron a few male shirts before we go. No more looking like homeless men rolling off their benches to come to church. We are wrinkle free! Most days….

My morning was extra special today because of a certain uninvited guest. Apparently, I have been the unknowing host of a ‘missing person’ for the last four days. Now, I can understand partly because I hid a friend in my parent’s house when I was in third grade. True, the ‘friend’ was a kitten about the size of a man’s shoe, but it was a friend and it was hidden.

I do not understand how a person can climb up the outside of a house and climb in a window and feel all warm and fuzzy about that. I also can’t understand why I stopped setting the house alarm. Darn cool nights!

After dealing with the police (always a joy), making muffins (that tasted BAD), cleaning the kitchen (there was an ox in my sink…), and trying unsuccessfully to talk a surly teen into going to church, I was ready for a spiritual feast.

We were actually a few minutes early so I was able to quiet my mind and lose my boys to the foyer before we began the meeting. My ward has really been nice lately. It might be due to my relief society lessons and the fact that I tend to use bad language or be overly sarcastic, but people are starting to talk to me. I quite like it. I miss having my grandson to play with so I sat behind another little boy so I could flirt with him during the meeting. He did not disappoint .His shrill laughter was quite the distraction.

Sitting in the chapel, all alone, thinking about the events of the weekend and morning, I started to feel just a bit ‘heavy’ with the weight of it all. Our opening song was We Thank The Oh God for a Prophet. I know that one, I don’t even need the book, but I took it out anyway.As I followed along, I heard the words to the second verse as though they were being spoken directly to me.

“When dark clouds of trouble hang over

and threaten our peace to destroy,

There is hope smiling brightly before us

and we know that deliverance is night.

We doubt not the Lord nor his goodness

We’ve proved him in days that are past…”

I’ve always loved this song, but I never really heard this verse like I did today. I do have dark clouds of trouble hanging over me. I am sad at times due to the choices of my children, as well as some of my own choices. I’ve made mistakes. I wonder and question if I’ve made too many. Hearing this song, I realized that I don’t doubt the Lord. He has been proven in days of past in my own life. He has never let me down.

I choose to keep my chin up and look forward to that perfect brightness of hope that smiles before me. This too shall  pass. This shall be for my good. My Savior has suffered this and more for me. Be still.

Cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.brightnessofyourdawn.blogspot.com

Sir Rendi Pidhy

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Some days, you feel like it was a mistake to get out from under your blanket. Nothing seems to go right. But some days, it feels like you not only have a guardian angel, but her/his posse of minions looking out for you at every juncture. Today was one of those days.

I had the day off to take a certain daughter to a certain mandatory event in a close-by city. I don’t get weekdays off often, so of course I tried to cram as much into it as possible. I started my day in the usual way, a fervent prayer that I wouldn’t screw up my life or anyone else’s, but I added an extra plea for the ability to get the things done that I needed to today and that I would keep the awesome spirit of conference with me.

I only had a few hours of sleep before I rushed off to school to put my classroom in some sort of organized chaos for my sub. I was in and out before anyone else was on campus.Plus! On my way home, I deliberated as to whether I should go get my daughter then or wait til later. You see,I needed to try and get my son’s car out of impoundment. Long story there….but that’s what I needed to do. I felt inspired to get my girl and head downtown, even though I wasn’t sure I would be able to get the car.

Halfway to my house, the impoundment officer returned my call from last week. She informed me that I could get my car approved for release just by talking to her! I almost whooped in joy! I got my daughter and headed downtown.

What happened next was best described by my daughter as a scavenger hunt.We went to the police department first, where we paid a fee and got a map. We followed the map to the next location. We found the right place, but we didn’t have the right kind of money so we had to go to circle K. Of course, we had to buy a juice to get the perfect amount. We went back to the map location and paid another fine. After we paid, we got….another map! This one led to the location of the car. It was tricky to read and explained completely wrong by the person that gave it to us, but we managed to find it anyway.

Once we got the car, we had to change the plates. That required saying certain magic words to the guardian of cars. It worked! We got the car, and I ended up getting everything done today that I set out to do. It might not seem like a very magical day to most, but to me it was perfect. I got stuff done, I got to spend time with my daughter, and got to see my older daughter crack a young coconut open with a metal chisel. It was a very well rounded day.

I may not have gotten to all those last minute crafts I decided to make for the baby shower tomorrow night….didn’t even start those. But we did make home made (virgin) pina colada for FHE. Magical!!!

Cause I said so.

Photo credit: http://www.blogs.haverford.edu