Archives for September 2013

Turn Around Tuesday ~ Hal Borland ~ Patience and Persistence

Tuesday’s Thought

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

~ Hal Borland (1900-1978)

A Bit of Encouragement… 

AnniversaryYesterday September 9th, The Dude and I celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary. Wait! Don’t click away! I promise I will not get all sappy and spend our coffee telling you how enamored I still am or how wonderful he still is. I mean I could, but I won’t.

I will say that I realize that there have been folks married way longer than us. I also look forward to the day when we too can claim 40, 60, 75 years of martial bliss. But 14 years is still a long time for us.

14 years is still a long time. Period.

I thought a lot yesterday about how much we know about each other, how much better we are at communicating. I thought about the challenges we have overcome and how the experience of those challenges make all the possibilities of what comes next not quite so scary. I thought about our children, how blessed we are to have them, and how close we are to letting the first one go. I considered all the things about life and love that I know now because of the last 14 years.

And I realized that there was nothing on the planet I could have done to make that process of growth happen any faster. It took the time it took. And it will take another 365 days before I can tick it off again – regardless of how hard I work, may want it, or study it.

The truth is that, while there is a time for all of that “nose to the grindstone” stuff, sometimes it just takes the time it is going to take and you just have to trust the process. It was pointless to check out, give up, or rush it along. Making it to and through requires that you take it one step at a time for whatever time it takes.

And we got here. This time next year, we will have done it again.

Today I want to encourage you to question what has been called “the microwave mentality.” Life is not minute rice, challenges are not 60 minute drama series, and microwave popcorn may be quick, but it loses some of its greatness in the process. But you already know this. We see books, kits, or seminars created by folks who have figured a piece of life out and expect to have the results duplicated by the time we get to “The End.” We forget that there were years of working it out and pushing through to get there. The walk on the beach is beautiful not because it was made in record time, but because of the moments our feet were in the sand.

Thanks for the coffee!

Tuesday’s Person of Interest

Krysten Siba Bishop ~ The Misadventures of a Darwinian Fail

Turn Around Tuesday began in April 2007. It is an email delivered newsletter that is typically written on Tuesday morning (my husband says you can always tell how Monday went by how Tuesday reads!) and in subscribers’ email hopefully in time for their morning coffee!

I will post them here one week after they are sent out to the subscriber list. If you want to receive them in you inbox in real time, please click here

September 11th

Navy Flag**This post is a combination and editing of previously written accounts.

I considered not writing anything today. Considered the idea of blank space in honor of this day, September 11th.

Decided that was a bad idea.

I don’t think that honor is given in blank spaces. Honor lives in the action of what we do next to build upon what they did first and on what others continue to do today.

Department of the NavyI remember exactly where I was on September 11, 2001. I was teaching a group of new Navy Sailors how to be Electronic Technicians in Great Lakes, Illinois. My cell phone rang. I didn’t typically keep my phone on during instruction, but today was the exception as my husband was taking our daughter to the dentist for an involved visit.

“Baby!” I hear on the phone. “You are never going to believe what just happened.” The first plane had just hit.

I put the class on break and went to the faculty room. We were all around the television when the second plane hit. Not good.

By the time I had regained my class in the room, minor panic had taken hold. It was obvious the accident was intentional. What would be done about it was yet to be seen.

“Are they gonna let us out early?” The question from a young Sailor surprised me. Then I realized – they didn’t understand.

“No,” I replied. “In fact, we may double up the schedule to graduate you early. This is why you are here. This is when your job starts.”

A day to remember, to reflect, to honor. Not in a passive way. But in a “this is when my job starts” kind of way.

CV 67The size of this day is almost too much. One almost cannot even begin to comprehend it when taken in its entirety. I won’t even attempt it. I honor of all those affected by that day, I want to thank those that impacted my life directly.

The base was put on lockdown. We were instructed that those of us who lived in military housing with our families would need to put a plan together immediately to evacuate them. The fear was that our chance of being a target was great. We were right outside of Chicago and the home of the largest Naval training facility.

Madison was 4 and Savannah was 2 months old. Mark and I decided that should the call go out to evacuate, the three of them would go home to Georgia. I would try to get home as soon as I could to help him pack.

I had just been promoted and they had not updated my ID card. This meant my ID and my uniform did not match. Usually not a big deal – but this was no where near “usually.” My superior officers decided it was best if I went home and did not attempt to come back on to the main base until a runner could bring me the necessary paperwork.

By the time I got to base housing, there were big concrete barriers blocking all the entrances except one. The main entrance was also equipped with these same barriers forming a maze forcing those who entered to do so slowly. The guard shack was manned with armed security forces. This would be the norm for a long time to come.

The order never came to evacuate our families. I was thankful. Although I was the military member, I always feel safer when Mark is around. After a while, we attempted to regain some sense of a normal routine.

The first time Madison saw the guards at the entrance, she was bewildered. The second time she had questions. Why were they there? Where had they been before? Why do they have guns? Is it because of the planes?

As I am sure many of you know, explaining the events of September 11th to a 4 year old is not easy. Tip toeing on truth and appropriateness while maintaining a delicate balance of awareness and safety is no small feat.

Yes, they are there because of the planes. They have guns to make sure that bad folks can’t hurt you. They are here to help Mommy and Daddy keep you safe.

“Sure does look like they are cold out there,” Madison commented. She was right – they sure did look cold. We brought them coffee that they wouldn’t take. Of course they wouldn’t – I knew better. It’s a security precaution. But, Madison was satisfied that they were okay out there, and they knew we appreciated them.

We really appreciated them.

These guys protected my home with force and at the risk of life. Seems dramatic now, but the fear was very real then.

They did more than stand watch at the gate of housing, they guarded the gate of my baby’s fear. Mommy and Daddy would never let anything happen to her or her new baby sister, and these guys were going to make sure of it.

Thank you to all the men and women who stood watch outside of Great Lakes housing. You kept my family safe. Thank you to all those who continue to stand watch around the world. You continue to provide that safety. You are supported and appreciated.

Turn Around Tuesday ~ Gretchen Rubin ~ Embrace What Is

Turn Around Tuesday began in April 2007. It is an email delivered newsletter that is typically written on Tuesday morning (my husband says you can always tell how Monday went by how Tuesday reads!) and in subscribers’ email by 6 or 7am. 

I will post them here one week after they are sent out to the subscriber list. If you want to receive them in you inbox in real time, please click here

Tuesday’s Thought

Embrace what is.

~from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project

A Bit of Encouragement… 

Screenshot_2013-09-10-05-46-39-1The relaunch of Turn Around Tuesday has been met with mostly welcoming arms.

Yeah, mostly.

Not everybody was glad to see it. Interestingly enough, the ratio was clearly in TAT‘s favor. And I really meant it when I said that I too have had to unsubscribe from items like this in the past and I knew it was never personal.

I still took it personal.

TAT never fails to awaken something in me. What that something is may change, but it is usually a sense of longing to fulfill a grand purpose; to be all that I was intended and have the potential to be.

That awakening can be daunting.

I immediately default to all the reasons it will fail, why I am not good enough, how I am not capable, equipped, educated, bright, dedicated, young, attractive, wealthy, mobile, flexible, strong…How I am just not enough.

I look at everything that there is not. Everything that I am not. All the things I will never be and will always be not.

In that frame of heart, the slightest bit of, “yeah, that’s not for me” rocks me at my core.

Until I remember to embrace what is.

I am again reminded that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I have a perspective that, amazingly to me, you find interesting at least enough times to let me come back once a week. While what is said is not new, it is mine, and for my heart, and evidently many others, it feels anew. And that’s just as good.

Today I want to encourage you embrace what is. So many times we are wooed into doubt and despair because of the “not.” The fact is that what “is” tends to be so absolutely abundant that we could spend a lifetime exploring all the greatness. The “not” would never be missed if we weren’t actually looking for it. While I may not be fully prepared to do all the things my heart would have me do today, I am enough to move towards those things. What I can embrace is the opportunity to recognize the journey, enjoy the process, appreciate who I am while moving towards who I am becoming. And the truth is, we are all “becoming.”

Thanks for the coffee!

Tuesday’s Person of Interest

Molly Maher – Stratejoy

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Labels, Vegan, and Being April

PhotoGrid_1378733512368There is just no way I can bring myself to write a post about how my decision to veer from the vegan journey was born from some  enlightened realization of the oppression of labels and the need to categorize oneself. We all have labels, we all need labels, it’s the way we understand others and ourselves. While the labels may be fluid and have exceptions in the fine print, they are still important to finish the sentence “I am…”

More importantly, a post like that simply wouldn’t be true.

Towards the end, I liked being “vegan.” I wanted to remain being “vegan.” I still want to want to be vegan.

It was an amazing lifestyle. I felt wonderful. There is not another method of consumption that has ever come close to making feel wonderful – for a time.

But, feeling wonderful isn’t enough. I want to BE wonderful. I want to BE April.

And now, before we get off on the topic of “see this is why extreme/fad/trendy diets don’t work” and “haha I told you no one could really live without bacon,” let me go ahead and weigh in on those two things…

  1. It did “work.” I learned new things about how to fuel my body. I learned what types of food make me feel great and which others are going to require some planning for how I am going to feel the next day. I dropped all that weight. I changed some really serious eating habits. I knocked down some food addictions. I connected with some really cool people. I learned great new recipes. I introduced my kids to some new ideas. I learned a lot about how to eat out in a healthier way. I am starting to think I should just do a whole post on this. If that doesn’t fit a definition of “work,” I am not sure what would have.
  2. Bacon was not my turning point.

The truth is, I just want to be April.

I realize that at some point I will have to put together a cohesive thought on this Happiness Project business. Unfortunately I don’t have one yet. But I do understand why Gretchen’s first commandment for herself (Be Gretchen) will be mine as well (Be April).

I read a ton of posts on a regular basis that often have great ideas, uplifting thoughts, insight, and inspiration. However, so often I find myself thinking, “Why do they feel the need to over justify?”

That is what I do not want to do here. I don’t think I did it with the original post that started this whole thing. That was a real moment with real feelings and resulted in some pretty real action.

www.happiness-project.com

www.happiness-project.com

But I don’t live in a vacuum. And the truth is things change; they evolve. And Gretchen (who I am seriously crushing on right now if you haven’t noticed) hit a cord with me…

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
~Voltaire (via Gretchen Rubin)

I am not going to be a perfect vegan. I would love to be one. But that won’t make me happy.

While it is a good and noble way, makes me feel fabulous, and keeps my waist amazingly slim, it does some not so great things too.

I blame MasterChef.

This post happens to have been written on our 14th wedding anniversary :)

This post happens to have been written on our 14th wedding anniversary 🙂

I love to cook. No, actually, I love to watch my husband thoroughly enjoy himself eating what I cook. And, if I do say so myself, I am pretty damn good at it. The family in general enjoys great cooking shows and they are pretty convinced I can recreate anything we happen to see there. That makes me happy.

In turn, my husband has a few amazing tricks in his own grilling hat that he pulls out from time to time. He gives him great joy to be able to take over the cooking duties for the evening, give me a break, and fulfill my love for great food. That makes him very happy. That makes me happy.

Perfect is a great enemy of that good.

So losing vegan makes me happy. Retaining some of the great stuff I learned also makes me happy. Finding a great balance between the two sounds like a great happiness project resolution.

Because I will still eat the hell outta these!!

Wet heads, Judgments, and People of Walmart

One Does Not Simply - one does not simply gallivant around with a wet headYesterday I sent the two littlest Littles to school with wet hair. Okay, so it wasn’t sopping wet. We did manage a few minutes of blow dryer on each. But it was definitely what one would call “wet head.”

I can’t begin to tell you the amount of guilt and embarrassment that threatened to overwhelm me. In my upbringing, one simply does not gallivant around with a wet head. It just isn’t proper. It is a sign of well, bad upbringing.

As I looked at my damp children, I wondered how many people would see them before their hair dried naturally and think, “Those poor children, sent to school with damp hair. Their cleanliness must of been just a passing thought. Probably the first bath they have in days. Momma probably sleeps until noon on a regular basis and I bet they had to fix breakfast for themselves. Wonder if their homework is done. With hair like that, that’s probably one of three outfits they own, last year’s backpack. Hell, I bet that cute little monkey lunchbox is empty or filled with Poptarts, Cheetos and a YooHoo!”

I never said I was rational. But don’t discount the whole concern as total paranoia either. The concern has merit. I know because I am learning that my warped thoughts – those private, deep seeded, crazy ones – are pretty damn normal and shared by too many people to be considered abnormal.

But I reminded myself of what was true. The truth was we had just spent Labor Day weekend at Tybee Island. Because of my work schedule, the car situation was such that it was easier to just get up super early Tuesday morning and head straight to school. By the time we all got back in our house Tuesday evening, we were exhausted. Morgan fell asleep before dinner which also meant before bath. If I had to bathe Morgan in the morning, I was just going to do the same for Emily.

In other words, I knew wet heads were not the product of a disheveled, dysfunctional, poor planned morning (although I have been known to have them). It was the result of a marvelous weekend that left the whole family spent of energy and deliciously worn out.

I kissed them, hugged them, and smiled at all that wet hair, proud of what it meant and deciding to screw worrying about what anybody else thought.

Total Mommy win.

happinessprojectAs you may know from my Facebook page, I am kinda excited about Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.” You’ll be shocked to know (I swear HTML needs a <sacrasm> tag) that I plan on starting one myself. This little encounter is going in there somewhere as it spawned another thought.

I spend a whole lot of energy worrying about the judgement of others and it does not make me happy

The wet head brain jack sparked ideas of all the other times I worry about what people think.

  • When I go off plan and consume animal (yes, it happens) do folks think I am hypocritical? Do they understand that I just find it important to be gentle with myself and sometimes it makes me and my family a bit happier?
  • When I am raising my voice at the children in public, do they think I am a horribly out of control mommy? Or do they realize that this is probably the eleventy BILLIONTH time I have said the SAME THING?
  • When my kids behave like bat shit crazy heathens, do they think that I am a momma that lets them behave however they want and lacks discipline or regular instruction?
  • When I go a week without a run (like now), do I appear unmotivated and lazy? Or is it understood that sometimes I am tired, overworked, or yeah, unmotivated and lazy?
  • When I look like ever loving hell when I do make it out on a run and the cute little chick passes me all bouncy, does she judge my ability as sucky and unpracticed? Or does she consider the idea that while she has just started, just maybe I am wrapping up mile 30?
  • When I got to Walmart looking like People of Walmart, am I automatically lumped with the likes of Mama June? Or do folks consider that maybe I haven’t slept in 2 days, have a sick kid at home who has puked for the 15th time, and I just need a bottle of wine, children’s motrin, and some Pedialyte?
The littlest Littles WITHOUT a wet head :)

The littlest Littles WITHOUT a wet head 🙂

These thoughts and many like them, suck the happiness out of my day. They make me feel unmotivated, incapable, and, in short, paralyzed. Worse, they compel me to try and figure out ways to make sure folks know about the events that led up to this seemingly unput together mess.

In fact, I should probably apologize now to all the poor souls who had to hear about my broken flip flop at Emily’s Open House. But seriously, knowing my love of my own bare feet, of course everyone thought I was walking the halls of the elementary school shoeless on purpose and judging me. Right?

Wrong.

And this thought brought me to an idea that is worse in my mind than the fact that it makes me unhappy.

Feeling this way makes me think less of other people for things that I imagine they have done. They haven’t even actually screwed up yet and I have already indignantly attributed to them a laundry list of self righteous and judgmental behavior that they probably have not even had.

How grand assholio is THAT!?!

So Gretchen, I will keep your Commandment #5 and resolve to apply it to both others AND myself.

Be polite and be fair

I will also offer you one of my own “Secrets of Adulthood”

There are plenty of real asshats in the world. I don’t need to go create imaginary ones.

Turn Around Tuesday ~ Thomas Edison ~ Success, Failure, and Giving Up

Turn Around Tuesday began in April 2007. It is an email delivered newsletter that is typically written on Tuesday morning (my husband says you can always tell how Monday went by how Tuesday reads!) and in subscribers’ email by 6 or 7am. 

This is the first installment since January 2011. I will post them here one week after they are sent out to the subscriber list. If you want to receive them in you inbox in real time, please click here
Thomas Edison Success

Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
~Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

A Bit of Encouragement… 

I currently have Conway Twitty’s Hello Darlin’ playing in my head right now. It has been a long time. And it is nice to see you.

I struggled with putting TAT on hold nearly 2 years ago. It is something that I love to do. Graciously, those whose inbox receive it seem to enjoy it as well.

In all honesty, I struggled with bringing it back. You may have noticed a bit of that in the email you received a few days ago. I was completely prepared to give TAT a complete overhaul – even down to when it was sent out.

The response was fairly overwhelming. So, as you can see, aside from the face lift, TAT is still pretty much the same. And I am filled with gratitude.

Ideas like “failure” and “give up” are pretty interesting to noodle over.

In July, I DNF’d (did not finish) a race. You can read more about that here

I did give up. And, while I justified it in the physical, it was my spirit that failed.

During that same race there were others who wanted to give up as they were physically shot. But their spirit held on and they finished. My spirit is pretty strong too…I was pretty close to finishing…until I just quit.

I learned a lot from them and about myself. I like to think that if I learn anything then the failure has been redeemed. The only true failure is quitting, giving up, and refusing to glean any lesson from it.

Success is also an idea that has to be addressed on a regular basis as there is no dictionary passage that does it justice. What success is, what it looks like, not only differs from person to person, but across situation, point in time, and perspective.  Understanding its dynamic nature cannot be overlooked.

For me, “success” is nearly synonymous with “purpose”. My purpose in my runs is to be better than I was before. Therefore, even when I don’t perform as well I can, the purpose is still achieved and there is the success.

Today I want you to recognize purpose in the things that are important to you but currently feel unproductive, hard, or  just no longer viable. If they are truly purposeless, then let them go (heck, maybe you just need a break!) But give the  ideas of success, failure, and giving up some real consideration. It is very possible that we really are just that close.

Thanks for the coffee!

Inward Comfort, Outward Things

**Sections originally published June 22, 2007

Fun Office SuppliesOk, so yesterday, I made quite the declaration of hardness when it comes to the metaphysical. I do believe in God, an afterlife, and occasional oddities…but general mystic stuff just ain’t my thing. I am not real sure if I think that it works, if it is just a placebo effect of things that could have been accomplished if you had just done the work, or something I just put off.

But, I know I believe in intellectual honesty. I also know I believe in the growth and evolution of self. So, in honor of those things, I feel it necessary to acknowledge the fact that there is one area where I am already completely comfortable with, if not addicted to, the facade of the placebo.

I totally dig on comfort items.

  • Right now, I am drinking Chocolate Velvet coffee – not because it tastes good, but because it feels good.
  • When I was in the Navy going through the 2nd hardest school they had to offer, I, the squared away, had the matching Winnie the Pooh notebook and pen.
  • Before I deployed, I bought a pretty purple pen because it made me smile.
  • I own 4 Webkinz myself because they make me giggle.
  • I have a favorite coffee mug (which the Chocolate Velvet Coffee is in right now).
  • I will start having my husband light up the fireplace too early in the fall.
  • I have a favorite blanket.
  • I have footy pajamas.

They say confession is good for the soul – so, couple this with today’s affirmations and I should be unstoppable!

2013 Update

I still believe firmly in comfort items. When someone (usually my beloved) says, “that’s all in your head,” I think to myself, “Well, where else does it need to be??”

  • IMG_20130902_130514_532_20130902130954006I now drink black coffee…and it still feels good
  • I have an overall passion for office supplies
  • I am a sucker for Minions
  • I have a coffee mug collection (and have begun to switch some out becasue they don’t make me quite so happy anymore)
  • Still love a good fire (although I do not hope for the cold)
  • I have swapped out a great blanket for awesome socks
  • And I still love comfy pjs

Screenshot_2013-08-21-13-51-57-1Regardless of the changes, edits, updates, gains, and losses, I still believe in the power of positive emotion. Maybe that warm fuzzy is all in my head…but it sure does light up my heart 🙂