Tag Archives: real life

I Want to Inspire and Encourage, but Am I?

Last week I decided to take the plunge and create an Instagram account dedicated to my love of decorating. Putting together rooms brings me great joy, but I realize this isn’t the case for everyone. For some people it is daunting, overwhelming, not practical and completely unnecessary.

And for many it probably falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

I don’t aspire to turn decorating haters into decorating lovers. Not everyone needs to enjoy mixing and matching pieces of furniture and the beauty of colorful fabrics. What I do hope, is to show people that you can make just about anything pretty – if you so desire. I also want people to understand it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to transform a room. A lot of times what you need is already hiding somewhere in your home; it just hasn’t found the right place to maximize its potential.

I have enjoyed posting my pictures on Instagram, but had a moment the other week when I started to question if those pictures, that I had hoped were inspiring, may actually have more of a negative affect than a positive.

I know I want to inspire and encourage, but could these photos actually be doing the opposite?

What happens when we scroll through Instagram and Pinterest and see perfectly decorated homes covered in shiplap and barnwood? (neither of which I have by the way, but a girl can always dream.) What happens when we see kitchen after kitchen adorning incredible backsplashes, amazing lighting and not a dirty dish in site?

How does that affect the lens with which we view our own homes?  As we look around, instead of seeing the life and the joy that lives there – do we begin to think, “Yuck! My home will never look like that!”?

Do these pictures of perfectly decorated, well-lit rooms with everything in its proper place, make us think, “I can’t have anyone over. No way. Not until my house is way more clean, a lot more organized and resembles the house in these pictures. Until then, it’s just too embarrassing.”?

In the age of social media, we are bombarded with “perfection” like no generation prior. Consequently, we have to begin the process of learning how to filter what we see. What is truth? Is this how most people live? Or is this merely highlighting this individual’s unique gifts and talents? 

Not everyone is an incredible cook creating mouth-watering dishes that look like they could be entered in the next Chopped competition. Nor is everyone the king or queen of organization with the ability to open a closet, or drawer, and find the perfect spot for every item. Not everyone can take an old home in disrepair and turn it into the next picturesque whitewashed farmhouse. Nor is everyone a body builder or a marathon runner.

This is the lens we need to use when scrolling through our feeds. They are a reflection of that person’s unique gifts and talents, not necessarily ours.

How can we celebrate each other’s talents? How can we use our talents to inspire and encourage others without making them feel bad about themselves in the process?

I think part of the answer lies in remembering the beautiful pictures we see are what someone wants us to see. They are a celebration of something that brings that person joy – and it’s okay if we aren’t good at whatever that something is.

We aren’t meant to be good at everything.

In regards to decorating sites, even the most perfect looking kitchen still has dirty dishes in the sink and spaghetti sauce on the backsplash on occasion (or maybe even lots of the time.) Even the most inviting living room complete with roaring fire, impeccable pillows and a perfectly placed throw blanket still has stuff strewn about at one point in time or another. And the tray that is sitting caddy corner on the crisp duvet sporting a cup of coffee, open book and pastry – most definitely is not on that bed on a daily basis.

Home are meant to be lived in. Your space is a reflexion of you and your family. It tells a story about each of the people that live in it. Your home is special because it is your home and it is where your life is unfolding. Living life to the best of your ability with your people each and every day – that is really and truly what matters. Not how much your home resembles the pins on Pinterest or your Instagram feed.

Does this mean I am going to stop my newly created Instagram account? No.

What it does mean is that I am going to try to be mindful. Maybe in addition to showing the pretty stuff in my house, I will throw in a photo of the drawers in my kids rooms? Or the ring around my bathtub that I just can’t seem to get rid of? (On second thought, you probably don’t want to see that.) Or the overstuffed bins piled on top of each other in our garage? I am going to try to sprinkle in some of the not so pretty stuff with the pretty stuff.

I want the pictures in my Instagram feed to be as real as the words I write in my blog posts. Real life is clean and dirty. Messy and put together. It is loud and quiet. Happy and sad. It’s a little bit of everything mixed in one and you never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. It’s an adventure. It’s constantly changing. One day it’s an immaculate table set to feed a house full of guests and the next day it’s spaghettiOs on the kitchen island. It’s a beautifully decorated room and a well worn sofa. And that’s what makes it exciting. And that’s what makes it beautiful.

And that is what I hope to share.

 

 photo Signature_zpsxtntaani.png

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.

 

 

 

 

 photo Signature_zpsxtntaani.png

When Lockdown Happens

Last Thursday, I pulled into the pick-up line at the end of the school day – as I always do. And my daughter walked to the car – as she always does. But something was different.

Something was wrong.

She opened the car door as the words came pouring out of her mouth.

“Did you hear what happened? Did they tell you?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“No. I haven’t heard anything. What happened? Are you okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“The school went on lockdown.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“Why? Is everyone okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

The words poured from her mouth as she explained what happened in full detail. It began with an announcement over the PA system. The words spoken over the PA were few, but the reactions the words caused were swift.

“We are on lockdown. This is not a drill. We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

Silence. Movement. Waiting. Silence. Tears.

My daughter went on to describe how the teacher locked the door, turned off the lights and ushered everyone to the corner of the room.

He stood in front of them.

They had been through this before. They knew what to do. Only this time was different. This time it was not a drill.

Kids were crying.

She knew her teacher was scared by the look in his eyes, but he remained calm – as heroes do. Reminding them of the importance of their silence.

My daughter said she knew she had to be quiet, so she let the tears fall from her eyes, down her cheeks, but did not make a peep for fear that someone outside of the room may hear.

Someone accidentally dropped his crutch. More crying. Would this bring someone to their room?

In the middle of her telling me this story, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mom. I have never been so afraid in all of my life.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

What do I say? How do I respond?

“I’m so sorry, honey. I can’t imagine how scary that had to have been. Then, what happened?”

After the lockdown was over, she was told there had been a fight close to the school and someone had a gun. As a precaution, the police told the schools in the surrounding areas they had to go on lockdown. She was told the altercation took place in a small, new neighborhood.

She said she spent the rest of the day wondering if that was our neighborhood. Wondering if her brother and I were okay. Wondering if I would be there to pick her up.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

My daughter and I spent the remainder of the car ride home talking about what happened. She vented. I listened.

For a few minutes that day – my daughter, her classmates, the teachers and staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

This is the reality that teachers, administrators, students and countless others who work in the school system face.

These people are heroes.

My daughter’s teacher had no idea what was happening. He didn’t know who was out there. He pushed the kids into the corner and stood in front of them. Ready to give his life for theirs.

These people are heroes.

When I picked up the girls from the elementary school, I found out the same thing had happened there.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Another one of my daughters described how they went into the cubby room and she held the hand of the friend across from her while two friends on each side of her snuggled in. They all grabbed coats and covered their bodies for extra protection.

As she recounted her experience, it took everything for me to not break down.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

For a few minutes that day – my daughters, their classmates, the teachers and the staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

And then, on Sunday, I awoke to the news that not far from our house – four innocent people’s lives were taken at a Waffle House.

The killer was still on the loose.

I contemplated not going to church. Not sending my kids to school. What if that drill becomes a reality? What if?

And then I was reminded of what I am reminded of so often, I cannot live my life in fear. I cannot teach my children to live their lives in fear.

I have to be brave. We have to be brave.

We have to remain positive.

There are so many more good people than bad in the world.

I need to remember that. We need to remember that.

Thank you to all of you heroes out there.

Thank you to the school workers who go through these drills with the knowledge that someday it may not be a drill.

Thank you to the police officers who rush into these situations, ready to save lives – and possibly give their own.

These people are heroes.

Thankfully, there are so many more heroes out there than bad guys. This is what I hope to teach my children. This very possibly may not be the only time they hear the words, “We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

I hope it is, but it may not be.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Thank you, God, for these drills so that if the moment comes, these heroes know what to do. Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many people who are willing to take action. Thank you, God, for those who are willing to surrender their lives to save the lives of others.

Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many heroes.

Thank you to the heroes in both of my children’s schools last Thursday. You did not know what was outside of your doors and you were ready to protect. To possibly give your lives – for my children.

Thank you. From the very bottom of my heart and with all of my being – Thank you.

 photo Signature_zpsxtntaani.png