Skating Toward Plan C

Have you ever set out to do something and it didn’t turn out the way you planned? I would have to imagine so. That’s just part of living. Isn’t it?

That’s why we say things like, “Go with the flow” and “Roll with the punches.”

For example, you’re getting ready to head to the gym and get a call to pick up your sick child from school. So you do a workout video instead. You plan to make meatloaf, reach for the oats in the pantry and find an empty container. So you make spaghetti. You’re on your way to an appointment and your tire goes flat. So you reschedule.

The ever reliable Plan B, C, or D is like the boy and girl standing against the wall waiting for their turn to be chosen during the Rockin’ Robin at the roller rink (yes, that was a very specific memory from my childhood that I just randomly tossed in there because it made me smile.) You might be skating toward A all sweaty-palmed and nervous when someone goes flying past you like a bolt of lightening. How do they skate so fast? They beat you to it. So what do you do? Do you pout off like a baby and spend the rest of the day at the pinball machines? No. You pull up your skate strings and adjust course. And lucky you – look at all of the other incredible, and possibly even better, options waiting for you to grab them by the hand.

This is how it is with life. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust. Plan. Adjust.

Skate toward your goal and if something happens to throw you off – stay calm and make another lap until you figure out your next move. Before you know it you will be in a sweat-covered, awkward hand-holding skating session with a near stranger and all will be right with the world again.

I have made a lot of laps in my day.

And with each lap, I have learned the value of taking deep breaths, staying calm and realizing that just because something isn’t going my way – that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. In fact, it’s usually in those moments when things don’t go my way that I learn a little something about life – and myself.

Take, for example, a moment I had last week. I was standing on my back porch looking at our little yellow bistro table that resides in the corner. I love to decorate and am in a constant state of “What would look good there?” Which is exactly what was happening in my brain as I stood on the patio staring at the table. It needed something. But what?

A vase. That’s what. More specifically – a white vase.

Lucky for me, I happened to have a white vase that wasn’t being used at the time. Off I went into the closet under the stairs in search of the vase (and in search of Harry Potter – just kidding. But that would be super cool.) I retrieved the vase and took it outside where the unforgiving light of day revealed the white spray paint I had used years ago to cover the glossy light pink was slowly starting to chip off. It wasn’t a white vase anymore. It was now a white and pink speckled vase. Not at all what I was imagining when I was looking at the table and thinking, “What would look good there?” (Honestly, I don’t think the answer to that question will ever be a white and pink speckled vase.)

No worries. White spray paint worked before and it would work again. Unless we’re out. Which I quickly discovered we were. Ugh.

Now I realize in the grand scheme of life, wanting to paint a vase and not having paint isn’t really a big deal. At all. But the thing is, I had a plan. And I can be impatient. And a strange combination of extremely motivated and simultaneously lazy. Like in this instance, I was motivated enough to paint the vase, too lazy to go to the store to get paint and also too impatient to wait.

This vase was getting painted. Now.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan B. I made my way upstairs for the acrylic paint. That’ll do. Except it wouldn’t do. I tried and it just didn’t look right.

Enter the ever-reliable, always waiting to be chosen – Plan C. I checked the garage and found some leftover chalkboard wall paint. Now this could be interesting.

I went outside and began painting, and with each stroke I remembered how much I love to paint. It had been awhile. The feeling of the brush in my hand ignited something in me. As I painted one stroke and then another, I began to notice I actually liked the way the paint looked as it went halfway down the vase. The lines from the brush reminded me of fringe on a scarf. I decided to leave the bottom half white.

After I finished, I felt very grateful we were out of white spray paint. Something that had frustrated me just moments before was now something to be grateful for. In the absence of the spray paint, I was reminded of how much I love the feeling of a brush in my hand and the creativity it sparks inside me.

I started to make plans for how to incorporate my love of art back into my life.

Plan C enriched my life way more than Plan A ever would have.

So whether you find yourself skating toward plan A without any obstacles in sight, or making your fifth lap around the rink – look for the joy. Look for the blessing. Look for the challenge. Look for the beauty. Look for the possibilities.

For me, that moment was about learning how to be okay when things don’t go my way. It’s about knowing sometimes the things that threaten to throw me off course, are exactly what I need to get me to the place I ultimately need to be. Sometimes beauty is waiting to be found in the most unexpected places. Sometimes all it takes is a house, void of spray paint, filled with unused paint brushes – waiting to be used again.

 

 

 

 

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Fake News

Last week, as I was preparing dinner, I found myself admiring the lovely pot of vegetables cooking on the stovetop. It was so lovely, that I couldn’t help but to grab my phone and snap a picture.

“This will look pretty on Instagram,” I thought to myself as I stirred. “Or maybe Facebook? I should familiarize myself with Snapchat. That may really be the best.”

Next, I sent a picture to my husband so he could see the healthy and visually-appealing meal we would be having that evening. I was completely tickled with myself.

As I was mentally preparing the words to go with this scrumptious post, it hit me – this was fake news!

This in no way, shape, or form represents the majority of the meals I put on the table. The night before, I made cream cheese and chicken stuffed crescent rolls. Prepackaged crescent rolls that I can’t imagine are horribly good for you. The meal was great and the kids gobbled it up, but not once did I think to snap a picture of the chicken squares to post on any, or all, forms of social media.

This got me thinking. Why not the chicken squares? Why the pot filled with a variety of delicious veggies? 

Because it’s about appearance – isn’t it? Social media is a platform for showing the people in our lives what we want them to see. We get to choose. Are they going to see the good? The bad? Or the in-between?

My guess is that most of us default toward the good – whether we realize it, or not.

I never once thought to take a picture of my chicken squares, but immediately thought to snap a shot of the veggie pot.

I also have never thought to snap pictures of myself when I’m bed-heady and puffy-eyed after a full night of sleep. Who would want to see that? No, thank you. The pictures I post are usually of something I have deemed exciting and worthy of sharing.

And if you think for one moment that I haven’t scrolled through every picture snapped in those few seconds to find the one where I think I look the best – you are wrong. I always choose the picture I think looks best.

Isn’t that why we hold the camera (or phone – excuse me) up (never down!) when we take pictures – because it supposedly makes us look more slender? Or why some people put their hands on their hips and lift a leg the minute someone says, “Cheese!”?

We want the best version of ourselves on display. That means the best-looking, most kind, healthy-eating, most amazing parent, brilliant, buttoned-up version of ourselves.

And that’s okay. This isn’t meant to shame all of you on social media who post your most beautiful pictures. Post away! You can bet your bottom dollar I’m doing the same. Remember how I started? I completely do this. In some ways, I have to imagine we all do.

I don’t think the problem is that we want to share pretty pictures – the problem is when we start to believe the pretty pictures completely and accurately portray every part of a person’s life.

Someone can look absolutely incredible through the lens of social media – and still have some major issues. Or minor. I mean – who doesn’t have issues? (If you responded with “Me,” that may be an issue. Just saying.)

I believe we need to guard our hearts and minds when we scroll through our feeds. And I believe we need to teach our children the same. What we see isn’t the full picture. We see what people want us to see. And there is a whole lot that goes on in the blank space – in those moments when nothing is being shared.

The most perfect looking couple still argues. The most beautiful looking woman still gets pimples. The most accomplished children still whine. The best cook still serves her children boxed mac and cheese (or at least I hope so – that stuff is good.) The person on a luxurious vacation had to spend a lot of money, and time, to get there.

Nobody is perfect. Sure, on social media, some people may look pretty close to perfect – but it’s just not true. We all fall short. We all mess up. We wake up bed-heady and puffy-eyed, without an ounce of make-up on (unless we forgot to take it off – and in that case it may be smeared all over your face.)

(Case in point – This is me, right now. I haven’t showered or brushed my hair and I am still in my pajamas. And it’s almost 2 in the afternoon.)

My pot of veggies nearly turned social media post reminded me of this truth. I need to be careful of how I view social media. And I also want to be authentic in how I portray myself. Does this mean I’m going to stop posting my favorite pictures? Um. No.

But what it does mean is that I am going to try to start sprinkling in some of the not-so-pretty stuff, too.

The stuff that says, “Hey. I’m human. I just burnt my toast and yelled at my kids. Some days I’m rocking it. And some days…..well, some days not so much.”

Because some days are prepackaged crescent roll days. And others are beautiful veggie pot days. It’s time to remember that both exist. For me, it’s time to start showing both.

 

 

(Disclaimer – I love the yummy looking, healthy meals that people post. They make me want to eat healthier and are super pretty, too. This is in no way saying those posts are bad. They are awesome. Keep doing your healthy food post thing. I just realized for me, in that moment, it wasn’t an accurate portrayal of who I am. That’s all.)

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Thank You, Brave Women

Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – I have to believe whatever side you lean toward – you can agree with this. Assault of any form is not okay.

In our core, as humans, we know this to be true. Or at least, I surely hope so.

This isn’t a political issue – it’s a human issue.

Regardless of what you think about Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford – can we agree on the bravery of the women who have come forward in the past months to share their personal stories of sexual abuse and assault?

Can we agree it takes a tremendous amount of courage to publicly relive those moments of pain and suffering?

It saddens me to say, most women I know can tell about about a time in their life when they have felt sexually violated. Some have openly shared their stories with many – others with only a select few.

Tragically, these tales of abuse are far too common. Do you know what else is far too common? The silence. What else? The belief that the victim somehow did something to cause this to happen. The belief that she is at fault for the abuse suffered at the hands of another person.

When people ask why someone did not come forward sooner, I have to believe they have never been a victim of sexual abuse themselves. Because if you have, sadly, you understand all too well why it would take someone so long. You also understand why someone may choose to never come forward, but instead to keep their stories buried deep within – never to be spoken aloud to another soul.

Because when the victim finally has the courage to tell their story, and when the words are finally spoken – the response of those listening has the potential to be devastating. And I believe it is this potential that keeps so many from speaking.

Imagine this scenario: You are finally ready to share your story. You open your mouth. The images flash before your eyes. The words fall out and fill the open space between you and the person with whom you are openly reliving this life-altering moment. And what happens? Nothing. Even worse, what if they don’t believe you? What if they mock you? What if they insult your family, and your loved ones? What about your children? How will they suffer because you have come forward with this truth?

This is a he-said/she-said situation and without proof (which is usually the case) the victim is called a liar (in so many words), or asked what she did to cause the attack to happen in the first place?

Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? In a world where there seems to be a double standard for sexual conduct. Boys will be boys, right? Boys receive fist-bumps and high-fives for their sexual prowess while girls are labeled “easy” and “slutty.”

I hope this is not how most would respond. I hope the response of most would be shared tears. A warm embrace. A thank you for the courage it took to come forward, and for the trust it took to share. An I’m sorry you went through this. I’m sorry you suffered in silence. I’m sorry you felt you had to hold that inside for so long.

I have three daughters and my hope is that, when it comes to sexual abuse, they will grow up in a world that is vastly different than the one where I grew up.

I want them to know that no matter how they dress, or what they say, or if they have one too many drinks some evening – that doesn’t mean they are asking for it.

I want them to know that “no” and “stop” mean exactly that. It doesn’t matter if they yell it, speak it, or barely whisper it. Those words are definitive. They are black and white. There is no gray looming anywhere in between those words. If someone hears those words and chooses not to listen – they are wrong. Point blank.

I want them to know that if they should ever ask a boy up to their room one evening, and then decide they want him to leave – he needs to leave. I want them to know that even if they have messed around with this boy before, that doesn’t give him free reign to her use her body however, and whenever, he would like. I want them to know that if, God forbid, something ever happens to them – that it isn’t their fault.

I not only want this for my daughters, I want this for all women. And men. Because men can be victims of sexual abuse, too. Let’s not forget that.

And for my son – I want him to grow up in a world where women are cherished, valued and respected. One where they are no longer viewed as sexual objects. I want him to know how to treat women and how to stand up for what is right. I want him to grow up in a world where the “boys will be boys” mentality is a thing of the past.

I believe one of the beautiful things to come from the #MeToo movement is seeing the avalanche affect. One woman comes forward and it empowers another, and another, and another, and another. Suddenly, we are not alone. Suddenly, we have found our voices. The thought that nobody will believe me is now replaced with hope. The thought that it was my fault is now replaced with the knowledge and understanding that it was not my fault. The second-guessing and wondering are replaced with confidence.

When one person finds their voice – so does another. 

Thank you, brave women, for coming forward. Thank you for being willing to relive moments that I would imagine have haunted you for years. Thank you for having the courage to come forward, even with the knowledge that you may be publicly ridiculed and picked apart for sharing your truth. Thank you for having the strength to face very powerful and influential people in our society. Thank you to the friends and family members of the victims who stand boldly by their side while very possibly enduring insults of your own. Thank you for giving so many of us hope. Thank you for helping us find the courage to share our own stories. Thank you for helping us find our voices.

Thank you for starting a conversation that needed to be started long ago.

Whether Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative – I have to believe whatever side you lean toward – you can agree with this. Assault of any form is not okay.

This post is not political. This post is about gratitude. Gratitude to those who have been brave enough to share their story. This post is not liberal. This post is about hope. Hope for a different future for my children. Hope for change. 

Thank you, brave women for coming forward. Thank you for reshaping our future.

Thank you.

#MeToo

 

 

 

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Yes, It Matters

My friend and I had a conversation today that I have had numerous times, with various friends, since becoming a parent.

Does it matter?

Sometimes it all seems so trivial.

The bottoms you wipe. The diapers you change. The hours spent awake at night rocking your infant to sleep.

The piles of laundry you clean, fold and put away. The meals you make. The dishes you wash.

The trips to various doctors offices. The car rides to and from sporting events and extra-curricular activities.

The countless number of Cheerios you pick up off the floor. The number of sippy cups you fill.

The appointments you make. The playdates you plan – and those you cancel because your child is now sick.

The coats and boots you put on. The diaper bags you pack. The numerous times you have to run back inside the house to grab just “one more thing.”

The hair you hold back when your child is sick in the middle of the night. The temperatures you take. The trips to the pharmacy – and sometimes the emergency room.

The tears you wipe. The boo-boos you kiss, clean and cover with a band-aid (regardless if a band-aid is really needed or not.)

The homework you help with. The lunches you pack. The field trips you attend.

The stories you read. The Legos you build and toys you play with – even with that pile of laundry that needs folded.

The time you spend picking up and putting away things. Again. And again. And again.

The times you rush home from work to feed the kids a quick meal before heading to the ballpark (for the third time that week.)

The conversations you have about responsibility and making wise choices and what it means to be a good friend, and on and on and on until you are blue in the face.

The times you have to discipline your child. And the time you spend second-guessing whether that was the right form of discipline.

The class parties you help with. The school concerts and carnivals you attend.

The trips to the grocery and Costco and Target.

The time you spend worrying about your teenage child and praying they will make good choices. The time you spend praying they will make it home okay.

The vacations you plan. The bags you pack. And then unpack.

The electronics you monitor. The apps you check. The texts you read. The time you spend wondering when it’s okay to say yes to phones and social media and the internet and whatever new thing popped up this week in the ever expanding and constantly changing world of devices.

The trips to visit colleges. The hours you ride in the passenger seat with knuckles tightly clutching whatever you can grab on to while your teenager is learning to drive.

The list goes on and on.

Sometimes it may feel like you are stuck in the movie Ground Hog Day – doing the same things over and over and over again. Sometimes it may feel like you are doing all of this and nobody really notices. Sometimes you may wonder if anyone really cares.

As you pick up your 30th Cheerio and clean dishes for the third time that day you may wonder; Does it matter?

Yes. Yes, it matters.

Very much.

It matters.

Each tear you wipe. Each boo-boo you clean. Each appointment you schedule. Each of these is a moment spent doing something for someone you love. For someone who depends on you. It is for your child, your spouse, your family – and the value of this is priceless.

Each of these acts, as trivial as they may sometimes seem, are investments of your time and energy to help care for those you love.

These acts say, “I see you and I care about you.” They say, “I am here for you.”

They are acts of love. Some big. Some small.

And they matter.

You may not hear thank yous or receive accolades, but that does not take away from the importance, or the impact, of what you are doing.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

Very, very much.

I hope you always know that in your heart to be true. I hope you carry that with you today and the next day and the next.

What you are doing matters.

Yes, it matters.

 

*A version of this originally appeared on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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Easy Peasy Chicken Burritos (and other stuff) That Will Make Your Tummy Happy

Ok, blog readers. First off, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and ramblings on life. It means a lot to me that you’re here.

Second, part of this blog is Truly Creating, which is something I LOVE to do. I love to decorate, organize, paint, draw, write, craft. If I can sit down and use my hands to make something pretty, oh boy am I ever in my happy place (and if there’s music I like playing in the background – even better.)

Another thing I have grown to enjoy is cooking (which has definitely not always been the case – funny how time changes things.) I believe cooking definitely falls in the Create category. (But I would be totally lying if I said I could just whip up something out of nothing. Nope. Totally don’t do that. I’m a recipe gal through and through.)

So, I decided today I would share with you one of my absolute favorite, go-to, easy peasy meals that is sure to please. This post will in no way shape or form be Pinterest worthy. (I don’t even have a picture of this dish – so no eye-appealing image to draw you in and make your mouth water.)

This is straight forward, to the point, and totally unemotional (which makes it completely different than almost everything I have been posting lately.)

The best thing about this dish? It’s a crockpot meal. Yep. I just said crockpot. Did we just become best friends? I think we did.

Here you go…….

Ingredients:

  • package of chicken breasts (Organic or not. Take your pick. This is a judgment free zone. How many pounds? I have no clue. However many pounds are in a package of chicken breasts, I guess?)
  • jar of your favorite salsa
  • package of taco seasoning
  • can of corn (not drained)
  • can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

Optional Ingredients:

  • shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever your favorite cheese mixture may be)
  • red or green enchilada sauce
  • sour cream
  • green onion
  • cilantro
  • guacamole or avocado
  • rice
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • your favorite taco toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.

Make it (Sorry. That sounds a little bossy, doesn’t it?):

  • Place the chicken breasts, salsa, taco seasoning, corn (not drained), black beans (drained and rinsed) into crockpot. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. About a half an hour prior to serving, shred chicken and leave in crockpot with black bean/corn mixture to let the chicken soak up more of the yummy flavor.
  • Ok, here is where it gets fun. This dish has options, baby. Oh yeah. You can eat it straight out of the crockpot as is, or……..

Option 1: Chicken burritos: Place chicken mixture into flour tortillas, roll and place in 13 by 9 baking dish. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is ooey, gooey, melty and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole  or avocado, cilantro, green onions (all optional.)

Option  2: Chicken enchiladas: Roll mixture into flour tortillas. Cover with your favorite red enchilada sauce. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and repeat the baking instructions listed above.

Option 3: Chicken tacos: Instead of using ground beef like a standard taco, use the chicken mixture in hard shell or soft shell tacos. Top with your favorite toppings: lettuce, tomato, olives, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, taco sauce, avocado….you get the idea.

Option 4: Chicken nachos (definitely a crowd pleaser in our house): Heap a giant pile of tortilla chips onto a baking dish (which now makes this a gluten free dish – oh yea.) Cover the chips with the chicken mixture and your favorite blend of cheeses. Broil until cheese is melted (Be sure to keep a really close eye while they are under the broiler. It doesn’t take long.) When they come out, top with your favorite toppings (see Option 3.)

Option 5: Rice bowl: Make your favorite rice according to directions. Place rice in a bowl and cover with chicken mixture. Top with your favorite toppings.

Option 6 (The final option. I bet you thought this would go on forever.): Chicken enchilada bake: I can’t have gluten, so this is one of my fave ways to prepare this dish. Grab a 13 by 9 dish. Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish until it is covered (not a thick layer, just a small amount). Place corn tortillas on top of sauce. (If you want to get really fancy, place a small amount of chicken broth in a skillet – enough to cover bottom of skillet – and heat to simmer. Place corn tortillas in broth for a second before putting them in casserole dish) Cover tortillas with chicken mixture. Pour sauce on mixture. Cover with Cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbling – approximately 30 minutes.

Now you can see why I love this dish! Number one – the crockpot, so it cooks all day while I do other things. Number two – options, so it never gets old. It’s the Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. Number 3 – gluten free possibilities. Number 4 – all of the options involve cheese.

Enjoy, my friends!!

 

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Ladies, Let’s Do This

Ladies, it’s time to start building each other up.

What if instead of criticizing, comparing and judging, we got into the habit of complimenting, holding our heads high, owning who we are and lifting each other up?

I’ve seen it all too often in my life and I’m not without blame. And, now that I have girls – I see it in their lives.

And it breaks my heart.

Why oh why?

What if, collectively, we decided to stop the shaming and start uplifting? What if all of our words were like high-fives for the soul? For friends and strangers a like. Wouldn’t that be powerful? Wouldn’t that be beautiful?

“I see you over there sister, rocking that outfit – own it, girl!”

“You are an amazing mom. Keep it up! You’ve totally got this!”

“I see you with your screaming child and I want you to know I’ve been there too. So many times. It’s hard, isn’t it? How can I help you?”

“I notice you’ve been working out and eating healthy. Keep it up! You are such an inspiration! Have any recipes to share?”

“I’m sorry your marriage ended. I care for you and want to be part of your support network. You will get through this. One day at a time. Want to come over for dinner?”

“I love when you got up and spoke today at the meeting. What you said really impacted me. Keep up the great work.”

What if our first, last and all of the in-between words we shared with each other were intended to build up and not tear down?

What if we stopped the whispering? And pointing? And eye-rolling?

Can you imagine the impact this would have on us? Our husbands? Our daughters? Our sons?

Because they hear us. They imitate us. Whether we want them to, or not. They do.

Our words hold power. How we treat each other matters.

The beautiful thing is, we have the power to stop the shaming and the judging. Stop judging ourselves. Our friends. Strangers.

I believe this change starts with how we speak to ourselves.

What does that little voice inside of your head say about you? Are you comfortable in our own skin? Do you recognize you are beautiful, unique, one-of-a-kind, a work of art made by God – never to be replicated, duplicated or remade? Do you know this?

Know it. Own it. Walk with your head held high. Be confident in who God created you to be. See your gifts and talents and begin to look around for the gifts and talents He placed in others.

Let’s stop competing – and start collaborating.

Let’s stop wanting to be someone else, and instead be are grateful for who we are – and grateful for who they are. Let’s learn from each other.

I’m trying to teach this valuable lesson to my daughters.

I am trying to teach them what a true friend is – and isn’t. I’m trying to teach them that when people are unkind, it usually comes from a place of insecurity or jealousy. I’m trying to teach them how to love others well. How to give grace. How to forgive. And that sometimes, even though you’ve forgiven, there are some relationships that just aren’t healthy. There are times when you have to walk away.

And in attempting to teach these lessons to my daughters, I’ve had to take a long, hard look at myself. My own words. My own actions. I’ve realized if I want better for them, then it starts with me. How do I speak about others? About myself? Are my words kind? Do they build-up? Do they tear down?

Ladies, it’s time. Time to start building each other up. Time to start loving ourselves. Loving our neighbors. Treating each other the way we want to be treated. No more silent, unapproving stares. No more snickering behind someone’s back. No more condescending remarks. No more comparisons. No more judgement. No more shame.

No more of the breast fed vs. bottle fed.

No more of the stay-at-home vs. working mom.

No more of the I’m right and you’re wrong , I’m better than you mentality. Because there is a whole lot of gray in this world. We have the freedom to make choices and just because I choose one way – doesn’t mean another person’s way isn’t right.  Because it’s right for them. And their family. And really? We are all just trying our best, right?

Let’s hold our heads high. Let’s share in each others joys and successes. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s compliment each other. Let’s recognize each other’s God-given gifts and talents. Let’s give high-fives to each other’s souls.

Ladies, it’s time.

Let’s do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Say

Today, I knelt down in front of the ottoman that sits at the end of my bed. I watched this video with my hands folded tightly in front of me. And I cried.

It wasn’t a sobbing, intense cry. It was a silent, tears falling slowly out of my eyes and rolling down my cheeks cry. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with the sobbing, no holds barred cry. In fact, I’m a huge fan. I believe it can be incredibly cleansing and, at times, extremely necessary.

I know some people, including myself, have called it the “ugly cry.” I guess from a superficial standpoint you can see why. When it’s happening, you may not sound the best you ever have, and by the time it’s over – your face may not look the best, either.

After the last tear has fallen, you are usually left with a lot of snot, red puffy eyes and there’s a really good chance your shirt may be a little wet and snot covered, too.

But once you remove all of that superficial stuff, the ugly cry is really pretty beautiful.

It’s a true, outward expression of the pain (and even joy) that someone is overcome with in that moment. It’s raw, uncontrolled, passionate and purely authentic.

I will never forget the moment when I felt the true power of the ugly cry. Years ago, I was attending a friend’s mom’s funeral. His mom was a Filipino woman and in the final moments of the service, as we stood by her gravesite, there was a collective wailing that took place. It started with one or two women and suddenly, it was everywhere. Women wailing. Women falling. Women outwardly expressing the depths of the pain they were feeling internally. It was hard to watch. I remember actually turning away at one point because the intensity was so great. But at the same time, it was so beautiful. It was so real. They didn’t care what anyone around them thought – their hearts were broken and because of their pain, a collective cry of anguish was released into the air.

It was incredibly sad. And incredibly beautiful. There was nothing ugly about it.

For me, that kind of cry doesn’t happen often. When it does happen, unlike the collective cry I heard at the gravesite – mine is rarely in the company of others. Nope. The sobbing, no holds barred, ugly cry is a rare, personal occurrence – only reserved for the moments of extreme loss and pain.

So no ugly cry for me today. Today, my tears fell slowly and silently as I listened to this beautiful song.

As you can probably tell from my writings lately, I am processing some stuff. Is it a mid-life crisis? Could be.  Is it one of those exciting times of reflection and introspection that result in positive change? Very possibly.

Whatever the cause, this song ministered to my heart in a powerful way this morning. It brought me to my knees and reminded me that regardless of my circumstances, regardless of what I am thinking or feeling at any given moment – it’s what God says, it’s His truth, that matters.

If you haven’t heard this song (or even if you have) please take a moment to listen and to let the words touch your heart and soul.

This post is a homage to my previous blog – mylifesettomusic. At the end of every post I would include a song that touched me – like this one did this morning.

I hope you enjoy it and if you find yourself with tears falling down your cheeks today (or maybe even in the middle of an ugly cry) know He is with you. He says you are loved. He says you are strong. He says you belong.

You are beautiful, my friend. Ugly cry and all.

Simply beautiful.

 

 

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We Will Never Forget

Yesterday, my oldest asked me if I remembered where I was when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. She said a teacher had told her there are moments in history when most people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
 
September 11, 2001, is one of those moments in history. Yes, honey. Yes. I remember. I will always remember.
 
Like most, I remember where I was, what I was doing and even what I was wearing. I remember the fear I felt and the overwhelming desire to get home to be with, and to hug, the people I loved. 
 
We didn’t have televisions in our office, but we had a radio playing. I remember standing by the filing cabinet when I heard the news that the first tower had been hit.
For a brief period of time, it seemed like it was an accident. It had to be an accident. Right?
And then the second tower was hit, and the reality this was no accident struck. Hard. It seemed we were at war.
I remember walking dazed and scared to the cafeteria and seeing the footage play on the television. It was so much worse than I had imagined. 
 
I remember the shock. The horror.
 
I remember watching in dread as people jumped to their death from the smoky buildings. I remember watching the footage and hearing the sound as bodies hit the ground. Tears rolled down my cheeks. These were  loved ones. Moms. Dads. Grandparents. Children. These people. These poor people.
I remember watching as the second plane hit. I remember the images of people covered in ash running. Some walking. It was chaos. It was horrible. But I couldn’t stop listening. And watching. And wondering. And waiting. What would be next? The Pentagon. The crash in Pennsylvania. It felt like it would never end. What else would be hit? I had never felt so unsafe in my country.

That night, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I drove to a local church. At that time in our lives we hadn’t been attending church regularly, but we knew we wanted to be with others who believed in God. We wanted to be in prayer. It was dark when we walked up to the church. The Priest was getting ready to leave when we walked up. Others were walking up, too. We weren’t alone in our need to be somewhere with others. We didn’t know what to do, but we knew we wanted to do something. Anything. In that moment, gathering with strangers in front of a church seemed like the only something we could do. In retrospect, when I don’t know what to do – gathering with others to pray is always a good start. 
The Priest stood with us outside, held our hands and prayed.
 
Over the next weeks, the images played over and over and over again. And people were scared. So scared. I will never forget the eery silence outdoors when all flights were canceled and the fear I felt when they resumed. I remember hearing a plane fly overhead, looking up and thinking – things will never be the same, again. 

Life did return to normal, but it was a post 9/11 normal. 
We each carry memories and stories from that day. Some watching and listening from a radio or television. Some seeing the tragedy unfold before their eyes from a distance. And others who were there. Those who survived.
Whatever your story, the memories from that day will always be with us.
The images of heroes rushing back into the flaming, smoking buildings – sacrificing their lives for the lives of complete strangers. The images of the heroes lifting the flag to the sky on a mound of rubble. The images of family members crying as they held up signs showing faces and names of missing loved ones. The images of the buildings going down. Knowing precious lives were lost.
Thank you to the men and women who gave their lives for the lives of others. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice. Thank you to the heroes then, and the heroes now.
You will never be forgotten.
 
September 11, 2001. We will never forget!
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Today is a New Day

It’s Monday, folks!

How was the weekend?

Maybe you ate too much. Drank too much. Slept too much (Is there such a thing?). Spent too much.

Maybe you worked out. Went to bed on time. Ate healthy. Used your time wisely.

Maybe you made a giant list of things to do and did none of them. Or some of them. Or all of them.

Maybe you were the best version of you. Or the not so great version of you. Or somewhere in the middle.

Maybe you were faced with tragedy. And your heart was broken. Or something beautiful and miraculous happened. And your heart expanded.

Maybe you woke up today ready to conquer the week? Or wishing it was still the weekend.

Maybe you feel like you are exactly where you are meant to be in life. Or realizing changes are imminent. And necessary.

Wherever you may find yourself on this Monday morning, I wish you joy. I wish you peace. I wish you comfort. I wish you the strength, ability and courage to make any changes that are necessary. I wish you the perseverance to get through the demands of the week. I wish the broken hearts will mend. And that the joyful hearts will explode their joy into the lives of those they encounter.

Whatever you are facing. Whatever your past mistakes. Whatever this week holds – you’ve got this.

This week is filled with endless possibilities.

Possibilities for new relationships to form. Broken hearts to mend. Restoration and reconciliation to take place. Goals to be met. Dreams to be actualized.

Wherever your past has taken you. It does not define you. You are not bound to past choices. You can only move forward.

Today is a new day. Today is a fresh start.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

*A version of this was originally published on the Truly Yours, Jen – Jennifer Thompson, writer Facebook page

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When Your Nose Ring Goes Down the Drain (and Other Mishaps)

Last week was not the best week for me.

For starters, I dropped my nose ring down the drain. Not a super big deal. It was more of an inconvenience than anything. Thankfully, I had a backup hoop that did the trick for a couple of days (and made me look way more hardcore than my go-to itty bitty stud.)

Next up on the list of debacles, I spilled water on my MacBook. Ouch. The irony that I’m constantly reminding the kids to keep water away from electronics was not lost on me. I had to hang my head down low when they came home and asked why my computer was flipped upside down like a tent on the counter – my unsuccessful attempt to dry it out.

Thank goodness for AppleCare. Even though it was covered, I still had to pay $300 out of pocket. Although it could have been way worse (like over $1300 worse), that’s still a lot of money to pay for some spilled water.

What else went wrong? Let me tell you.

After taking in my MacBook and learning about the cost of the damage, I went to Macy’s to return an item. They asked for my license. I handed it over and, you guessed it, left it there.

When I realized I was licenseless, I was already 25 minutes away from the mall (which had already closed), and there was nothing I could do but wait until the next day. I was starting to get pretty frustrated with myself.

Come on. Get it together. All of these small mistakes were costing both time and money. Neither of which are in abundance right now.

At this point, I was thinking I must be at my mishap quota for the week. I mean how many mistakes can a girl make in 48 hours?

Turns out at least one more.

The next day, I was stripping the beds in preparation for our company who was set to arrive that afternoon. I threw the sheets in the washer, started it up and walked away. About 10 minutes later, I realized I had not seen my phone.

And then it hit me. My stomach flipped and flopped as I was I was hit with a sinking feeling. You know the one that leaves your insides churning because you have an idea of what might have happened (and desperately hope you are wrong.)

I walked to the washer, turned it off and waited for the water to drain. I lifted the sheets and looked down at the bottom of the machine. There it was. Still sitting in the remaining water that had yet to drain. My phone. Submerged.

I washed my phone.

My husband was on his way to pick up doughnuts with my daughter. I picked up the iPad (our only working device in the house because the computer is out of commission, too) and FaceTimed him.

“Hello,” he said.

“I washed my phone. In the washer. With the sheets.”

Silence. “You’re kidding. Right?”

“Nope.”

“Jennnn!!”

I know, right?! Ugh. He’s so sweet. He totally would have been justified in saying so much more than just “Jennnnn!”

With guests set to arrive and the house in need of cleaning, that meant my sweet hubby was now sent on the mission to retrieve my license and get me a new phone. With all four kids in tow, might I add. Not really how he wanted to spend his Saturday morning, I’m sure.

At this point, all of the “Get it together” and “What’s your problem?” thoughts I was having the day before were back in full effect. Like a siren wailing in my head.

At least I had AppleCare for my MacBook. What in the heck was the phone going to cost?

Why was I making all of these mistakes? What was going on with me?

Distraction with a capital ‘D.’ That’s what. Plain and simple.

Instead of being present and focused last week, my thoughts were drifting all over the place. I was definitely not living in the “now.”

The kids recently started school and this means there have lots of papers to sign, monies to hand over and a plethora of dates and deadlines to keep track of on the calendar. On top of it, all four of them have recently started activities which require more forms, more money, Sign-up Geniuses and lots more dates to keep track of on the calendar.

And, it seems that in a moment of my-baby-is-off-to-kindergarten weakness, I may have gotten a little overzealous with the sign-ups. Sure I will be Room Mom and Box Top Mom and join that committee and (wipe my tears) whatever other sign-up comes my way. Sure. I’ll do it.

Last week, after volunteering to help with an upcoming event, I received an email from the teacher asking if I was sure I wanted to help with this one? She had recently been notified that it may be good for the Room Moms to limit their involvement in some of the other activities because of the large commitment already made to helping in the classroom.

Wait. What? I signed up to be Room Mom for this class, too?

I’m pretty sure any self-help book I pick up on making healthy choices and minimizing stress would advise against putting your name on all sign-up sheets that make their way into your hands during Meet the Teacher Night – especially when you’re in a state of emotional distress.

All of the papers and what-nots had me distracted last week, but that’s not all. I think it was also learning how to operate within my new normal. I am used to having kids home with me, and now I don’t. And it’s different. I am learning how to make the best use of my time, and I am also quickly learning that just because they aren’t home with me – that doesn’t mean there are suddenly an extra 40 hours in the week. I need to pick and choose how to spend my days in the most beneficial way for both myself and my family. I’m learning.

I’m also learning it can feel lonely sometimes. And a bit isolating. But I know that will pass.

And to top it off, my mom and stepdad moved to our small town last Sunday. While this is very exciting, I haven’t lived by my mom and stepdad since college. The blessings will be many, but I do believe there will be a learning curve for all of us – including my sister and her family who live here as well.

And this is what had my head spinning. All of this change. While the change is all good, it’s still change. And it was taking up way too much space in my head.

This week has been better. I have put some systems into place that have helped me feel more organized and less spastic. I have made lists – lots and lots of lists. Instead of having all of those thoughts clogging my head, I have put them down on paper – which for me, is sometimes the best medicine. When I find myself drifting, I am trying to practice something a friend told me about last weekend. I am trying to practice being present in the “now.” Listening to the sounds, observing the sights – paying attention to my surroundings.

These things have helped. This week has been better for my electronics, and our bank account.

The big thing I learned is to not beat myself up. These things happen. Bad weeks happen. Sometimes water gets spilled and phones get washed. It’s all about moving forward and learning from mistakes, right?

This won’t be the last time I have a bad week, but hopefully the next time it happens – I will remember to stop and look before I throw my phone in the wash.

 

 

 

 

 

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